15 August, 2017

#SpecialFeature:: 5 Books That Changed My Life, Made Me Wish And Made Me Write Better



*** Special Feature - August 2017 ***

About the Author:
Aarti V Raman is an Amazon India bestselling romance writer who dabbles in romantic thrillers and contemporary romance. Happy Ever After are her three favorite words in the English lexicon. 

Aarti graduated from Mumbai University in 2007 with a degree in Mass Media focused on Journalism which provided her the perfect background for conducting sound research on any project. But she has also worked as a copy editor, social media consultant, commercial content writer-editor while pursuing her goal.
Aarti’s ambition of honing her craft and writing stories, particularly romances that have strong characters and stronger plots that remain etched in the reader’s minds, grew when she sold her first novel WHITE KNIGHT (Leadstart Publishing), in 2012. 

In 2013, her work was excerpted in the Tamil Edition of Mills and Boon novels. And in 2014, her short story “Post-Coital Cigarette” was chosen to be part of the Rupa Romance Anthology “An Atlas of Love” curated by bestselling author Anuja Chauhan.  Her last novel “Kingdom Come” (Harlequin MIRA) has enjoyed a brief stay at the bestseller lists in Amazon India. Her third book “With You I Dance” (Fingerprint! Publishing) released in April 2016 and debuted on the Amazon India Romance Bestseller list. 

Aarti was chosen to be part of the Goa Arts and Literary Fest 2014 in December 2014 and The Hyderabad Literary Festival in January 2015. 

She is represented by Red Ink Literary Agency, India. 

Connect with the Author:


5 Books That Changed My Life, Made Me Wish And Made Me Write Better 


Books, wonderful books, glorious books!

Reading has always been my last great pleasure. In fact, for those reader friends of mine who I have sent a signed copy of any of my books to, it is also my favorite inscription to use. Books, literally, are my favorite things in the world. And the absolute freedom I experience when I dive into a book is unparalleled. I know, I know…I am exaggerating AND aggrandizing, but come on! This is books.

Books were what widened my horizons and my vocabulary when I was a wee young thing and they helped me learn a very important life skill: empathy. You’d think I would say that books taught me the proper use of a comma and the difference between an ellipsis and a semi-colon (they did, of course). But, when you are a twelve-year-old kid and reading about the ravages of what being a war correspondent does to you (The Sky Is Falling) you learn a thing or two about walking in someone else’s shoes. You learn to have and hold and DEFEND an opinion. And you learn to read between the lines.

I could wax lyrical about the virtues of books and the value of reading even one, but I’ll just say this. “Give a woman a book to read and you have a reader. Give her a library card and you change her life.”

So, without further ado, these are but five of the thousands of books I have read over the last two decades. All of them from different genres. I hope, you guys go through this list and escape into the worlds created by these authors, just like I did.



The Fountainhead: Ayn Rand changed my world. No shit. The way she first espoused a theory, THE theory of individualism and took like 600 frigging pages to do it…I was fascinated. For one, that book made me realize (I was around 14 back then) that books can be about more than telling a story. The storytelling as a device to explain a larger, more important concept became crystal clear to me. After that, I could not help but explore every single story I read to find out what other message they had to offer me. Even the lighter romances could manage to give me something more to think about – a prime example is that of Nora Roberts’ Bride Quartet series. On the surface, it’s a very typical romance series about four affluent, white women finding the loves of their lives. But scratch the surface and it teaches you a thing or two about running a business, averting work-related crises, and maintaining the bonds of sisterhood and friendship in tough times.





The Lord Of The Rings: Tolkien changed my world too. Let’s face it, all the kids growing up in the 90s were heavily influenced by the LOTR movies. I am no exception. I will be honest here and confess that I saw the first movie when I was 15 and it was completely mysteriously beautiful. The only takeaway I had? Aragorn. He of the brooding dark gaze (yes, my fascination with brooding heroes predates Mills and Boon) and the yard-long legs. I dragged my mom off to the roadside vendors in Churchgate ‘cuz I had to own LOTR and read the whole thing cover to cover. It was unforgettable. The characterization, the world-building, the battle scenes…I am still in awe and I defy anyone to deny that GRRM took inspiration from LOTR when he wrote A Song Of Ice And Fire.





The Hathaways: This is a historical romance series by Lisa Kleypas and is, hands down, fricking amazing. There is a funny anecdote behind how I stumbled onto reading Lisa Kleypas. I was illegally downloading a ton of Nora books in 2008 (excuse the penniless student) and I stumbled across a historical romance ‘she’ had written titled Midnight Angel. It was INSANELY awesome. I hunted for the second book, Prince of Dreams under Nora Roberts for hours. Both online and at my uni’s vast library. Couldn’t find it. Finally, Google yielded a simple search result: Prince of Dreams by Lisa Kleypas. I read everything she wrote including her contemporary series but it was not until The Hathaway series came along years later, that I appreciated the nuances of world-building and character decisions that Kleypas had invested in. Each of the five couples, Cam-Amelia, Kev-Winnifred, Harry-Poppy, Leo-Catherine, and Beatrix-Christopher are such tremendous delights and fully realized characters in themselves that I honestly can’t pick any one of them as my favorite. Ok, I can. It’s Harry Rutledge *winks*





The Calhoun Sisters and Megan’s Mate: I was 15. In the same expedition that I found LOTR, I found another green-backed cover of a book by a writer named Nora Roberts. The contemporary romance stories were simple enough. Four sisters. A lost heirloom. Four delicious men and oodles of romance. Strong characters. A plot that stretched for four books. And a fifth, if we count Megan’s Mate in the series and we totally do! I fell in love. Straight up in love with the idea of writing about love before CC had finished saying I do to Trent. The book jumpstarted unrealistic expectations about men based on superior language skills, inherent charm and a heart as big as Texas. Thank you, Nora Roberts for making me the writer I am today.







Heart of Obsidian: I started reading Nalini Singh just three years ago. And sure, the Psy-Changeling paranormal series is brilliant writing backed up by some gorgeous characters in love and mind-blowing sex scenes. But, as god is my witness, if I had to wish for one character to be real it would be Kaleb Krychek. Yeah, he is badass dangerous, ridiculously powerful, and homicidally protective, but the way his character has been set up over the course of the series and the story he gets…it is immensely satisfying. You know how some authors tease out a character over the course of a series (the Ron-Hermione coupling, for instance) and the payoff in the end seems a little cold? Nalini’s Kaleb is piping hot. PIPING. I am struck by serious writer envy and even more serious reader love because of Kaleb. I can only hope to write a character as memorable and emotionally impactful as Kaleb.
These are just five of the series of books I can list in this particular post. The authors who I love across genres are numerous and I am sincerely grateful to each and every one of them for sharing their gift of words with me. It is a pleasure, a privilege, and an honor to be part of this tribe of people who managed to touch a young, idealistic girl’s heart and helped turn her into the woman I am proud to be today.





Till next time,
Xx
Writer Gal aka Aarti V Raman



About the Book:
Meera Sagar had everything—the perfect job as a principal ballerina (for a prestigious New York ballet company) and a man who loved her as much as she loved him. But tragedy struck on the night before her biggest performance, forcing her to do the one thing she never wanted to do—come back home. To Mumbai.

Now, a year later, Meera is still trying to pick up the pieces, while
fending off marriage proposals from her well-meaning but
traditional Gujarati family, and figure life out all over again. By
starting a ballet school in Mumbai. But she has two problems. One, she doesn’t know anything about running a business. And two, she can’t dance. Not anymore.

Enter . . .
Abeer Goswami. Hotshot junior partner at a South Bombay law
firm and a man nursing a broken heart. When he meets Meera
again, the woman who left him, he tries his hardest to be her friend,to help her . . . and not let the past get in the way.

And then . . .
There is the sexy Zoya Sehgal. Meera’s only friend in the city and the woman Abeer is currently seeing. They say triangles have pointy edges, for a reason. 

Will Meera find a new dream in her ballet school? Can Abeer and Meera find their way back to each other again? And, most important, has Meera danced for the last time?

Goodreads I Amazon


Giveaway:
Open to Indian Residents Only



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12 August, 2017

#ReleaseDayBlitz :: Avishi by Saiswaroopa Iyer

~ Release Day Blitz ~
Avishi by Saiswaroopa Iyer
12th August, 2017


Long before the times of Draupadi and Sita
Immortalised in the hymns of the Rig Veda
But largely forgotten to the memory of India
Is the Warrior Queen with an iron leg, Vishpala

Brought up in the pristine forest school of Naimisha, Avishi reaches the republic of Ashtagani in search of her destiny. When Khela, the oppressive King of the neighbouring Vrishabhavati begins to overwhelm and invade Ashtagani, Avishi rises to protect her settlement. But peril pursues her everywhere.
Separated from her love, her settlement broken, with a brutal injury needing amputation of her leg, can Avishi overcome Khela?


Read an Excerpt

“I am the Queen! This will be my throne!” The seven-year-old chirped leaping from the middle of the porch towards the broken mortar which served as a mock throne. “You will be my guard!”
“Guard?” the man pondered scratching his unkempt beard. 
“No.” He shook his head and smiled seeing her indignant eyes. “I will be the Queen’s elephant.” He beamed.
Sukratu stepped out of the house to see his daughter in action, perching herself on the tramp Loha’s back, pretending in all earnestness that he was her elephant. He smiled and was about to set out for his duty as the night guard of the King. A sudden lightning appeared in the eastern skies. Sukratu had barely walked a few paces when a deafening thunder made him instinctively turn towards home. He heaved a sigh, finding Loha shielding the girl as if he would, his own child. 
“Father, don’t go.” The girl pleaded. 
Sukratu smiled and shifted his gaze towards the sky. He saw dark clouds loom over the city. The monsoon winds had started to make their presence felt. He had to reach the palace soon. “Isn’t my little Queen brave?” He called out. 
The girl nodded. He saw the fear fade. From her eyes. From her heart. She knew she was the queen! Pride filled his heart. His mind ached to stay home but duty beckoned. Tearing his gaze away from the one he treasured the most in his life, braving the drizzle that would soon turn into a storm, he unwillingly walked towards the King’s residence. Sukratu’s house was in the third ring of the concentric structure of Vrishabhavati. In the centre, was the structure, that served as the residence of the king and as the centre of all trade activity of the city. Here no wealth or goods could change hands without the king’s knowledge and approval. The residences of the noblemen formed the two rings around it. The guards and soldiers forming the outermost circle with the citizens living around them. 
As per the protocol, Sukratu approached General Ugra’s residence quite ahead of his reporting time— an hour before the moonrise. He walked into the empty courtyard. But the rain made it impossible for him to stand there any longer. He knocked at the giant wooden door fervently. The doors creaked as a strange woman clad in a dark indigo garment opened them and glared at him with a frown on her forehead. 
General Ugra, Sukratu knew was never faithful to one woman. His superior’s romantic exploits were not his concern either. But something about the woman at the door disconcerted him. “Please let General Ugra know that…”
“He has already left for the palace!” The woman frowned before attempting to shut the door. 
“What? How ca…” Sukratu’s words hung in air as the door slammed on his face and the woman disappeared from his line of vision all of a sudden. Something did not feel right. He knocked at the door again. Firmly this time, as though seeking answers. Any change in the reporting time would have been announced the day before and he remembered that nothing of the sort had happened. His knocks went unanswered. Frowning and muttering under his breath, Sukratu hurried towards an empty cowshed three houses away from Ugra’s place hoping to catch his companions who he knew would be equally surprised. 
The first to arrive was Khela, the eighteen-year-old guard, holding a metal shield above his head. The newest addition to the King’s guard, Khela was related to General Ugra and Sukratu felt that his position in the King’s guard was largely a result of undue favours that Ugra showered upon an otherwise impudent boy. 
“Sukratu! By the great Varuna, I should have come to you earlier!” Khela hurried towards him. Pausing for breath, he added. “Our platoon has been given a relief tonight! It was a sudden decision and I personally informed all the others.”
“Relief for tonight? That happens only when…”
“Our guarding hours change from night to day!” Khela completed in a hurry. “Now, come with me.” He turned towards the western direction and the javelin he held started to sway dangerously and came close to grazing Sukratu’s arm. 
The older guard’s instincts made him dodge the cut. “Where?” Sukratu hissed, visibly annoyed, first with the fact that he was kept in dark about the change in guarding hours and then about Khela’s irreverent behaviour. “And watch who your weapon hurts, boy.”
Khela shrugged and changed the position of his weapon. “We are now going to the place.” He winked, stretching his hand in the direction. “Follow me, this is the only night we get to have some fun.”
Sukratu did not move. The place he knew implied the tavern where wine was served. “We cannot drink tonight, Khela. When do we have to report tomorrow? By sunrise?”
“You ask too many questions. The rest of us are there too!”
“That does not answer my question.” 
“Well, I don’t know, and I don’t care to. The palace is paying for the wine. Are you coming or not?” 
The last sentence sounded more like a threat than an invite. Sukratu had all the mind to give the youth a piece of his mind and storm back home. His daughter would be overjoyed to see him before she went to sleep. It gnawed at Sukratu’s heart every day to leave her under the care of Loha— the tramp who had begged him for shelter about six months ago and then became a part of his life. The girl liked him instantly and had begged Sukratu to let Loha live with them and he, despite his misgivings about the tramp’s origins and his unkempt appearance, could not refuse his only daughter. Over time, Sukratu felt grateful for Loha’s company. Now his daughter did not have to be all by herself every night. The guard’s home would have been unguarded if not for that stranger. Sukratu brushed aside these thoughts and had almost decided to go home when the thought of meeting other senior guards and clarifying the confusion struck him. He followed Khela’s lead, making no attempt to hide his displeasure. 
When they reached the tavern, Sukratu to his dismay, found many of his brothers in arms deeply drunk. “When did they reach here and when did they…”
“Quite some time before. I just forgot to tell you in advance!”
Sukratu’s eyes scrutinized the men and women of the tavern who were serving wine to the guards. There were no other citizens or travellers in the tavern. 
“Just for us, the whole night!” Khela said as if reading his thoughts, bringing him an earthen goblet. 
The older guard accepted the goblet taking his first sip with a sense of foreboding. 
“Where were you all the time, old friend?” The voice belonged to Tunga one of the senior guards in the platoon. 
The grin on his friend’s face brought a smile to Sukratu’s lips. “Tunga, what is this about the sudden change in our guarding hours?” 
“The King… that imbecile, has finally remembered that we are human too!” Tunga guffawed, emptying his goblet, waving vigorously at a woman of the tavern who obliged with a seductive wink. 
She approached them, skilfully distributing her attention between both the men, winking at Tunga and pouting her lips at Sukratu. Her brows rose at Sukratu’s filled cup. “Don’t keep the Sura nor this Sundari waiting, my love...” Serving Tunga his wine, she placed her fingers upon Sukratu’s shoulders, digging her nails into his skin for a moment locking her gaze with his and turned around swiftly, letting her light upper garment rest on his face for a fleeting moment. 
It was a wilful invitation and Sukratu knew it. His attention though was caught by the colour of the garment. The Indigo hued garment! All the women of the tavern wore clothes of the same colour. So did the woman he saw in General Ugra’s house! Was Ugra at home while the woman lied that he was at the palace? If the General and the whole platoon of the night guard were lying down drunk, who was minding the security of the King? Sukratu looked at the rest of the guards. No one seemed sober enough to talk. The only sober man Khela had disappeared!
“By the great Varuna!” Sukratu exclaimed aloud and rushed out, pushing the woman who tried to stop him away. 
He raced to the King’s residence, as fast as his legs could carry him. The huge wooden gates of the structure were closed and secured from inside. The rain lashed drowning his cries. Misgivings regarding the King’s welfare made him shudder. He had to meet General Ugra. Something told him that the General had his own reasons to send the whole platoon of guards to enjoy a drunk night. He was a guard who had sworn to protect the King with his life. The general owed him an answer. Sukratu rushed to General Ugra’s house determined to confront him. 
That, Sukratu realized was the biggest mistake of his life. 
At the gates of the general’s residence he saw a familiar figure hurrying out of his house, a heavy bundle on his shoulders. “General Ugra!” he called out, feeling relieved. 
The figure started, and the bundle fell to the ground. Sukratu came to a sudden halt as he realized it wasn’t a bundle after all, but a blood-drenched corpse. A stroke of lightning from the sky revealed the face and the very familiar greying curls. Sukratu froze for a long moment before he could speak.
 “K... King...”
Something hit him on the head even before he could utter the name. Sukratu staggered, reeling at the impact, clutching at his long sword in a vain attempt to defend the next move. 
“Finish him!” The General shout behind him. 
Before he turned around, Sukratu felt the cold metal tear into his back. Lightning struck revealing the contours of the person. Khela! The javelin stabbed him again. Thunder drowned his screams. Falling to the ground with the weapon still stuck to his back, Sukratu lifted his sword and managed to slash Khela’s palm though the latter, unlike him was vigilant and alert. Crawling away from the menacing duo, knowing very well that he could not last more than a few moments, Sukratu’s thoughts, went to his innocent daughter. She would now languish as an orphan remaining in dark about the monsters who killed her father. Or would they kill her too?
Sukratu would never know. 


About the Author:
Saiswaroopa is an IITian and a former investment analyst turned author. Her keen interest in ancient Indian history, literature and culture made her take to writing. Her debut novel Abhaya, set in the times of Mahabharata was published in 2015. Avishi, her second novel set in Vedic India explores the legend of India’s first mentioned female warrior queen Vishpala.
She holds a certificate in Puranas from Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. She is also trained in Carnatic Classical music and has won a state level gold medal from Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. 





11 August, 2017

#BookBlast :: Vishwamitra by Vineet Aggarwal

Vishwamitra by Dr. Vineet Aggarwal
Indian Mythological Fiction
~ Book Blitz ~
11th August, 2017


When Satyavati, wife of Rishi Ruchik, exchanges with her mother the magic potion for bearing a child, they change not just their children’s destiny, but also the history of mankind. Born of this mix up is Vishwamitra, the son of a Kshatriya, who strives to become a Brahmarishi—the ultimate and most powerful of all Gurus.

Vishwamitra is the powerful story of a brave but stubborn, haughty yet compassionate, visionary king of Aryavarta who not only acquires material wealth through military conquests but also becomes one of the most well-known sages of all times.



If you like… Then you will enjoy Vishwamitra

  1. If you like to read about India's rich, ancient history, in an easy to read manner, you will love Vishwamitra
  2. If you have ever wondered if the ancients had any knowledge of space & science, you should check out Vishwamitra, the story of the man who created an entire new star system!
  3. If you like reading romance, take time to check out this unlikely love story between a human and an Apsara! Did you know Vishwamitra & Menaka lived together for ten long years?
  4. If you like reading stores that inspire -  check out Vishwamitra, the story of an ordinary man who even dared to challenge the gods!
  5. If you have liked any retelling of India's original epic Ramayan, you should check out Vishwamitra -  the story of the man who became the guru of Rama, the Scion of Ikshvaku!


About the Author

Dr. Vineet Aggarwal is described by many as a doctor by qualification, manager by profession and artist by temperament. Born in a family of doctors, he successfully completed an initial stint with the family occupation before deciding to venture into pharmaceutical management and currently pursues writing and photography as a passion.

He is the author of popular online blogs ‘Decode Hindu Mythology’ and ‘Fraternity Against Terrorism and Extremism’ and the author of books ‘Vishwamitra – The Man who dared to challenge the Gods’ and ‘The Legend of Parshu-Raam’







08 August, 2017

#SpecialFeature :: I Can’t Get No Satisfaction – How To Write A Great Sex Scene by Aarti V. Raman



*** Special Feature - August 2017 ***

About the Author:
Aarti V Raman is an Amazon India bestselling romance writer who dabbles in romantic thrillers and contemporary romance. Happy Ever After are her three favorite words in the English lexicon. 

Aarti graduated from Mumbai University in 2007 with a degree in Mass Media focused on Journalism which provided her the perfect background for conducting sound research on any project. But she has also worked as a copy editor, social media consultant, commercial content writer-editor while pursuing her goal.
Aarti’s ambition of honing her craft and writing stories, particularly romances that have strong characters and stronger plots that remain etched in the reader’s minds, grew when she sold her first novel WHITE KNIGHT (Leadstart Publishing), in 2012. 

In 2013, her work was excerpted in the Tamil Edition of Mills and Boon novels. And in 2014, her short story “Post-Coital Cigarette” was chosen to be part of the Rupa Romance Anthology “An Atlas of Love” curated by bestselling author Anuja Chauhan.  Her last novel “Kingdom Come” (Harlequin MIRA) has enjoyed a brief stay at the bestseller lists in Amazon India. Her third book “With You I Dance” (Fingerprint! Publishing) released in April 2016 and debuted on the Amazon India Romance Bestseller list. 

Aarti was chosen to be part of the Goa Arts and Literary Fest 2014 in December 2014 and The Hyderabad Literary Festival in January 2015. 

She is represented by Red Ink Literary Agency, India. 

Connect with the Author:


I Can’t Get No Satisfaction – How To Write A Great Sex Scene


“He touched her. His hard grip sending shivers of awareness down her spine, while she went wet inside, craving his possession with ferocity. His kiss, when it came, was at once deep and reverent.” 



I hope I have your attention, dear reader. Because this post is about one of my favorite acts in the civilized and uncivilized world. Let’s talk about sex, baby. 

I am very wary of romance writers who are wary of embracing the fact that their characters – those goofy, loveable heroes and heroines – are human. And human beings love sex. They love having it. In a planet populated with seven billion plus humans, this fact is now no longer in dispute. They love watching it. A lot. In fact, fifty-five percent of all of the Internet (dark and light) consists of porn. If you are frowning because, hey porn is not romance or sex, that’s cool. This statistic was just to reiterate the point that sex is everywhere.

BTW: fun fact, the original penny dreadfuls and Goth romances also had two people discreetly doing it, or wanting to do it and we labelled it romance. Mills & Boon, that venerable proprietor of the heaving bosom and the brooding gaze, made this a de facto staple for housewives everywhere the world over when they introduced the modern day romance. Also, for anyone who wants to know how to write a great romance, do catch Sara Craven’s debut novel which came in 1976. It’s called The Lion In Winter and will have your bosoms heaving, guaranteed. 

Ok. All of this is an extremely simplistic explanation for all the hard work and nuances of what goes into writing a great love story, but let me be very clear on this one thing: Great love stories should be made with great sex in mind. IRL and, definitely in the modern version of penny dreadfuls! 

So, then, the question arises what does, in fact, constitute a great sex scene? 

The No-Nos

Does every great sex scene need actual intercourse? GOD, no! Some of the best sex scenes Nora Roberts has ever written involve wonderful kisses – deep, penetrating, breath-robbing kisses. 

Is it simultaneous orgasms? Not always. I admit, I am guilty of using this trope myself but one of the best sex scenes I have ever read involved a man going down on a woman on a dock within full view of the world and its mother. It was RIVETING. 

Then is it about how much skin is bared or how much touching, squeezing, sucking, suckling, caressing happens per action? Not really. While the firm squeeze of a callused hand on my bottom sounds insanely hot, describing it three times makes no sense. Describing it even once does not mean much unless the butt-squeezing has a direct correlation to what happens next. Twist on scene: If he is squeezing my bottom in the middle of a crowded elevator, aka Christian Grey in FSOG, yeah! GO for it.

Is it about heaving bosoms or harsh groans? Nah. Jennifer Crusie who writes some very realistic sex scenes has one of my favorite heroines say this, “I have breasts. They jiggle. Deal with it.” And they move on. No bosom heaving. 

Harsh groans are sexy when someone is performing fellatio (NOT in a crowded elevator unless your characters just cannot help themselves) or when the hero cums. But have him refrain from groaning every single time. OR turn it into a gag, like Miranda from Sex and The City would. “The sex is great! He is hung like a horse. But, I do have this one thing I don’t like…he makes the same sound every time when he cums.

This brings me to that which all of you are throbbing to read about: the penis. The member. The organ. The thorn. The erection. The arousal. The dick. The manstick. This is just ten descriptions I was able to come up with in the course of writing this line. Some of it works, all of it is fine. But let’s not give the guy a mythical penis? It cannot always be thick and long and hard. Average works too. Physically speaking, taller guys could have slightly bigger penises but like I always say: In real life as in books, it is not the length or girth of what a man has that matters. It’s what he does with it.

FYI, let me bust a small myth for you. All great sex scenes don’t necessarily need to have a man who knows EVERY single thing about the female anatomy. Like, he could find the clitoris blindfolded. That is the Holy Grail, ladies, but let me tell you. It ain’t as easy as that. Again, this is a narrative trope I always fall victim to (shame on me, I know!) and yeah there is something so deliciously exciting (see what I did there?) about imagining a man who knows his way around you and wont quit till you get to where you wanna go, but …that’s not real life. 

Yes! Yes! Yes!!

AND there it is: the secret to writing a really great sex scene. 

It’s pretty simple, really. There is none. It’s just like writing the rest of your story. In most cases, it should be. If you have fully realized characters who know their own minds, have crackling chemistry when they are not doing the horizontal tango, half your dilemmas to writing a great sex scene is solved. The other half depends on a few simple pointers you may or may not choose to follow. 

1. Participation: Don’t have one character do all the work, every single time. If the guy is a go-getter, Alpha Male type have the tables turned on him by having your heroine do the grabbing and stamping down. 

2. Description: How much or how little depends on how comfortable you, as a writer, are with your own sexuality, reading about it and wanting to write about it. It also depends on the characters you are writing about, because sometimes some men just DO NOT want to stop kissing a woman even when her head is swimming and her breasts are crushed against his chest, her knees have turned boneless and she has visions of having him take her where they stand. See what I did there? 

3. Action: The above point illustrates two things. The description of the action between two people and the actual action itself. This again depends on how easily can you slip into the headspace of your character and think what they are thinking. Or, in Victorian terms, daydream effectively. 

4. Titillation: A great sex scene is all about titillation, arousal and excitement. For the characters and the reader. Titillation can be a 30-second porn fluffer with augmented breasts, a school girl outfit and thigh high patent leather shoes. Or it can be slow and lingering like every single scene between Maverick and his instructor till they eventually copulate to the tune of Take My Breath Away. 

5. Comfort level: Ultimately, it is about you, the writer. And how comfortable you are thinking, imagining these lascivious rather private thoughts that go on inside all of us and which we sometimes do not dare voice for fear of social reprisal. Sex is perfectly natural, and writing about it, even more so. PLEASE do remember this point! 

Heck, we can write a 5-page steamy scene full of the tiniest details, including everything two people are internalizing while the dudes just get Mia Khalifa deep throating some random man in a white bedroom in front of a full film crew. How much imagination does that require? Right? Right? 

I don’t want to end this post on a porno note so I am going to leave a few suggestions for enquiring or enthusiastic minds. 

Watch List: 
1. This scene from Sleeping With Other People. https://youtu.be/0Wq1AEzABss
2. This scene from FRIENDS. https://youtu.be/mdK6LVDI3kg
3. The Last Seduction. 
4. Indecent Proposal.

Read List:
1. Jennifer Crusie’s Welcome To Temptation and Bet Me.
2. Linda Howard’s The Mackenzie Series. 
3. Nicholas Sparks’s Nights In Rodanthe. 
4. Literally anything by Lisa Kleypas. That woman can WRITE sex. 

Till next time,
Writer Gal aka Aarti V Raman 
PS: I have only written about a cis-hetero (M/F) relationship because it is the one I have grown up reading and identify with subconsciously. The same rules should apply to other kinds of romances and romance writing too, of course. 


About the Book:
Meera Sagar had everything—the perfect job as a principal ballerina (for a prestigious New York ballet company) and a man who loved her as much as she loved him. But tragedy struck on the night before her biggest performance, forcing her to do the one thing she never wanted to do—come back home. To Mumbai.

Now, a year later, Meera is still trying to pick up the pieces, while
fending off marriage proposals from her well-meaning but
traditional Gujarati family, and figure life out all over again. By
starting a ballet school in Mumbai. But she has two problems. One, she doesn’t know anything about running a business. And two, she can’t dance. Not anymore.

Enter . . .
Abeer Goswami. Hotshot junior partner at a South Bombay law
firm and a man nursing a broken heart. When he meets Meera
again, the woman who left him, he tries his hardest to be her friend,to help her . . . and not let the past get in the way.

And then . . .
There is the sexy Zoya Sehgal. Meera’s only friend in the city and the woman Abeer is currently seeing. They say triangles have pointy edges, for a reason. 

Will Meera find a new dream in her ballet school? Can Abeer and Meera find their way back to each other again? And, most important, has Meera danced for the last time?

Goodreads I Amazon


Giveaway:
Open to Indian Residents Only



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03 August, 2017

#BookReview :: The Scarecrow Queen (The Sin Eater’s Daughter #3) by Melinda Salisbury



The final battle is coming . . .

As the Sleeping Prince tightens his hold on Lormere and Tregellan, the net closes in on the ragged band of rebels trying desperately to defeat him. Twylla and Errin are separated, isolated, and running out of time. The final battle is coming, and Aurek will stop at nothing to keep the throne forever . . .



Goodreads I Amazon






I had read The Sin Eater’s Daughter and The Sleeping Prince one after the other in quick succession and had quite enjoyed the series thus far. But I picked up The Scarecrow Queen after a bit of a gap and with great apprehension. What if the series isn’t what I remember it like? Or what if the third and final instalment doesn’t live up to the rest of the books? I started reading this book with these questions on my mind.

The story is told from twin point of view and they are that of Errin and Twylla. The book starts off some time after the last book ended as we see Errin as a prisoner of Aurek. The torture and abuse that Errin faces at the hands of Aurek in the very first chapter sets the readers off of Aurek and creates sympathy for Errin. Twylla takes up the task of getting the rebels to band together. While Errin and Twylla both develop over the book as they have over the series, I feel that the characters of Silas, Lief and Merek were not handled well enough. The male characters turned very much secondary in this installment and it disappointed me to see so much potential left untouched.

There is no doubt that Melinda Salisbury can narrate a story well. It was evident in the first two books and it was even more evident in this one. While the treatment of the male characters irked me, I still wanted to continue reading because I just had to know what would happen. There were certain loopholes which did not make sense, but then again I just couldn’t stop reading.

I have to say that The Scarecrow Queen does not do justice to the first two books in the series. But still it is an entertainer on its own.


01 August, 2017

#SpecialFeature :: Top 9 YA Couples Who Kick Ass And Take Names by Aarti V.Raman



*** Special Feature - August 2017 ***

About the Author:
Aarti V Raman is an Amazon India bestselling romance writer who dabbles in romantic thrillers and contemporary romance. Happy Ever After are her three favorite words in the English lexicon. 

Aarti graduated from Mumbai University in 2007 with a degree in Mass Media focused on Journalism which provided her the perfect background for conducting sound research on any project. But she has also worked as a copy editor, social media consultant, commercial content writer-editor while pursuing her goal.
Aarti’s ambition of honing her craft and writing stories, particularly romances that have strong characters and stronger plots that remain etched in the reader’s minds, grew when she sold her first novel WHITE KNIGHT (Leadstart Publishing), in 2012. 

In 2013, her work was excerpted in the Tamil Edition of Mills and Boon novels. And in 2014, her short story “Post-Coital Cigarette” was chosen to be part of the Rupa Romance Anthology “An Atlas of Love” curated by bestselling author Anuja Chauhan.  Her last novel “Kingdom Come” (Harlequin MIRA) has enjoyed a brief stay at the bestseller lists in Amazon India. Her third book “With You I Dance” (Fingerprint! Publishing) released in April 2016 and debuted on the Amazon India Romance Bestseller list. 

Aarti was chosen to be part of the Goa Arts and Literary Fest 2014 in December 2014 and The Hyderabad Literary Festival in January 2015. 

She is represented by Red Ink Literary Agency, India. 

Connect with the Author:


Top 9 YA Couples Who Kick Ass And Take Names

Harry Potter. Hermione Granger. Edward Cullen. Jacob Black. Annabeth Martin. Percy Jackson. All genre-bending teenage characters that basically made even grown women (such as me) swoon. In the case of the pansy-ass sparkling vampire, he even spawned off a successful fan fiction franchise, which let’s face it, stars a much-hotter dude than the original ever could. That being said, I am and always will be, I heart Team Edward complete with a t-shirt and everything.

It is incidental that all three of these series sold millions of copies of books and their series are the most popular thing in the history of writing. Not literature, because FSOG does not great literature make.

Lately, I have been on a bit of a YA-reading binge and I have stumbled across a lot of great, talented authors who could give Stephanie Mayer a run for her money. And characters, who I SWEAR, are such cool, much awesomer than their real-life, grownup counterparts.

You call it reading, I call this research but hey, all for a good cause in search of writing the next perfect novel.

Anyway, with this much reading (35 books in as many days) I fell in love with the genre all over again and the characters who made it so popular.

Teenage love is this AMAZING space to explore so many issues: political, emotional, sexual, and spiritual. And any of these authors will guarantee you a good time, so go ahead and pick ‘em up after giving this post a read.

Here are my top nine Young Adult ‘Ships of all time in descending order

9. Seth Summer And Grace
Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver trilogy has star-crossed lovers Seth and Grace become werewolves at different times, pulled together by a deep, abiding love that is best captured by German poet Rainer Maria Rilke. Stiefvater’s prose is stunning and lyrical but it is Seth’s longing that shines through clearly with each book. Seth is reluctant Alpha in the making, wounded by his tormented relationship with his parents and his desperate, hopeful love for Grace is a thing of absolute beauty. Read it all in one sitting to get a new twist on ancient werewolf lore.

8. Prince Ash Shakespeare’s Robin Goodfellow/Meghan Chase
Julie Kagawa has quickly become one of my new favorite YA authors to watch out for. Her retelling of the land of faerie (one of two entries on this list) using characters from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is spot on and funny and with a heroine Meghan Chase who is mouthy and courageous and dependable. She isn’t prone to hand-wringing except when pining over Winter Prince Ash, or ‘Ice-boy’ as Puck loves to call him. While there is no actual love triangle since Meghan clearly has the hots only for Ice-boy, the two characters are memorable for their hateship-friendship and of course, Ash is one hot Faerie Prince. He is also very open with his feelings once he sheds his ice-boy persona and that is such a welcome change from the contemp heroes who make you work for it!

7. Percy Jackson and Annabeth Martin
Between Harry and Percy, I’d choose Percy simply because he has more character flaws and he is so very messed up with his choices (choosing to take a dip in the River Styx, picking a fight with Ares!) His choices are messed up but his courage and battle tactics more than make up for his hubris. Plus, the demigod is loyal to a fault (Harry/Ron fighting over the Horcrux!!!) and that gives this dangerous boy-next-door pizzaz that everyone’s favorite wizard lacks. Annabeth, on the other hand is brilliant in one word. And this cool younger sister I wish I had.

6. Rath Roiben Riven And Kaye Thomas
Roiben is one of Holly Black’s many, many creations. But by far, he is my absolute favorite. Stuck up, annoying, and proper almost to a fault, he more than makes up for the trouble he causes Kaye Thomas from the Tithe trilogy by giving up his rightful place as King of the Unseelie Court to be with her! (Yeah, these princes and their foreswearing…lesser mortals stand no chance, do they, ladies?) Rath Roiben Riven is not his actual name but if I give it away here, y’all might use it to make him fall in love with you and we can’t have that, can we? Read the book to find out what his real name is!

5. Carswell Thorne, Wolf, Emperor Kaito and Jacyn Clay And The Cinder Ladies.
Marissa Meyer, the other Meyer has written a fabulous retelling of fairytales with Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter. Winter is by far my favorite because it has all the couples and their storylines merging together to form a great finale. Not a disappointment at ALL! And yeah, Kai is a pretty great guy for falling for Android Lunar Princess in hiding Cinder, it’s Wolf’s absolute devotion to Scarlet and his absolute berserker that really got me. Same for Sargent Jacyn Clay with Princess Winter (their mad-love and Snow White-worthy ending made reading 800 pages of Winter so delicious!) And if there was a prize for Most Irreverent Pirate Of All, it would go to Captain Carswell Thorne. He is badass, funny and droll! It’s an irresistible combination of charm and piquancy and unexpected vulnerability that made Cress and me fall for him, hook, line and sinker.

4. Patch Cipriano aka Angel Jev And Nora Grey
So Becca Fitzpatrick’s Patch in the Hush Hush trilogy has this way of talking to heroine Nora Grey that made me feel like I was in the middle of a French film. Every line was full of double meaning, innuendo and so damned classy inspite of it. And on top of that, he was determined to save her (over and over again) when he’d been sent to kill her! He does display stalkerish tendencies but his Italian black-eyes more than make up for it and color me impressed when he gives Nora a necklace with his real name on it. Promise. Ring. Much.

3. Dimitri Belikov
Technically Richelle Mead’s baddesst of the badass Dhampirs Dimitri Belikov is not YA young, (he is 24 when he is introduced to us in Vampire Academy), and when I first read of a guy who is six-seven and snooty and uptight with a liquid vodka Russian accent to boot, I was like WHAAAAT?! No, not working for me. Then I saw the movie (badly-made, deliciously cast) and I was all onboard the Dimitri train. By book three Shadow Spell I was totally swooning over Dimitri and rooting for Rose Hathaway (she can totally take Buffy’s place as a vamp-loving demon hunter any day) to get it on with him. Honestly, he was the only Strigoi vampire I could imagine macking with, even as I read feverishly for the cure that would change him back to the loving, warm (more action/less talk) Dimitri that Rose adored.

2. Kaz Brekker And The Crow Five
So I can NOT stress enough how much I love Leigh Bardugo’s writing. She dazzled with her first Grisha trilogy, but in my humble opinion, she’s come into her own with the Crow duology! Set in the same world as the Grishas but a separate storyline, Six of Crows’ ringleader Kaz Brekker, alley rat turned king of the Ketterdam docks is that rare hero: Bad to the bone, vulnerable to just the heroine Inej (OH! WHAT A JOY SHE IS!) and so smart you could kiss him for his brains alone. He limps (a la Dr. House) and has his personality to match but there is so much going on with Kaz that reading Crooked Kingdom felt like a small death in and of itself. Not least because the way a particular Viking lookalike gets treated. The Crow duology is also not shy of experimenting with same-sex relationships and giving the heroines such relatable flaws you find yourself sniffing as the pages turn.

1. Jace Wayland And Clary Fray (almost!)
So, Jace Wayland has been my favorite YA hero since 2009 when City of Ashes, the second book in the Mortal Instruments’ Trilogy released and I read arguably, the BEST finale ever written in a book. Sure, I find Cassandra Clare’s Clary Fairchild to be occasionally whiny even though she is a very cool customer to take on the apocalypse with nothing but drawing skills and a stele, but Jace kicks ass up, down and four ways to Sunday. Jace is a jerk, an arrogant know-it-all with no apparent vulnerabilities and also vaguely stalkerish tendencies. Plus, he lashes out when he is hurt and at the end of City of Bones, he turned out to be Clary's brother! EWWW, right? Wrong. Cuz then comes CoA and everything I loved about YA heroes became this boy, the yardstick by which I measure all future YA heroes by.
Demon hunter extraordinaire, musician in his spare time and using humor as a defence mechanism Jace is ALL that you want from a hero, YA or otherwise. He is Nephilim (half mortal-half angel) brave, badass, reckless, smart, and uses his heart to his own detriment. His friendship with Alec Lightwood and Isabelle Lightwood is a rare and wondrous thing to read in modern books and he perfectly embodies the Perfect Outsider alienation emotion with every character reveal. He also has these amazing amber eyes that…well, you get the picture! I could gush about this boy forever!

Honorable Mentions

Peeta Mellark And Katniss Everdeen: Yeah, Susan Collins’s doomed Tributes could have made the top eight if Kaz and The Crow Five hadn’t come along and upset the apple cart. But the truth is, he is NICE enough to make a great hero, just not badass enough. He is smart as all hell though with that camouflage trick in Hunger Games, isn’t he? And Katniss is everything you’d want in your dystopian YA UF heroine – cold, calculating, confused and cute.

Malyen Oretsev And Alina Starkov: I am become a blade. Leigh Bardugo’s hero from the original Grisha trilogy has this tattooed on his back as the series progresses and he realizes how far apart from the heroine Saint Alina Starkov (yeah she becomes one by the end – read the series to get a grip on Russian folklore and religionism) he really is, how he can never be powerful and magic like her. And how his hunting and killing skills are the only things of value he has to offer her, apart from his wasted, beautiful heart. Extreme sighs alert.

Cabel Strumheller And Janie Maguire: Lucy McMann’s words are like bullets. Fast, piercing, lovely and sure to leave a scar. Her hero Cabel is no one special. Just an ordinary high school student with a very gifted girlfriend who he is madly in love with. And that’s EXACTLY why he is so awesome. He lets dream catcher Janie from the Wake, Fade, Gone series take the lead and provides silent backup and never once tells I told you so to her even when she almost gets raped/killed in a dream. Isn’t that just what we all want in a dude?

Angel Akiva And Karou: Just the names – Akiva means shelter in Hebrew and Karou means hope in Japanese - was enough to make me reconsider all my notions of love and happy ever after, and in Laini Taylor's first book Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I was flat out falling for Akiva. But in the second book things took a dark turn and he started crying a LOT. I mean, a LOT and while it is nice to see a hero in touch with his feelings I kind of wanted to see him revert to being a badass and kill things! His fighting skills took a drastic backseat and he became an also-ran instead of ending up in the top 9. May I add that the series too took a drastic turn for the depressing in Days of Blood and Starlight. 

So, there you have it, folks. My dream list of yummy heroes. Demigods, fairy princes, fallen angels, alley rats and more made the cut. Who’s on yours? Tell me in the comments below.
Till next time,

Xx
Writer Gal aka Aarti V Raman.


PS: There is one hero who I refuse to mention here who has equal claim on my silly reader's heart as Jace Wayland: Half-Bad trilogy hero Nathan Blackwood, who becomes such a comically tragic figure in the end, it reads like an emo song. I mean! WHY! WHY did he have to die, Sally Green. Why couldn't he have just lived with Gabrielle's happy memories such as they were?


About the Book:
Meera Sagar had everything—the perfect job as a principal ballerina (for a prestigious New York ballet company) and a man who loved her as much as she loved him. But tragedy struck on the night before her biggest performance, forcing her to do the one thing she never wanted to do—come back home. To Mumbai.

Now, a year later, Meera is still trying to pick up the pieces, while
fending off marriage proposals from her well-meaning but
traditional Gujarati family, and figure life out all over again. By
starting a ballet school in Mumbai. But she has two problems. One, she doesn’t know anything about running a business. And two, she can’t dance. Not anymore.

Enter . . .
Abeer Goswami. Hotshot junior partner at a South Bombay law
firm and a man nursing a broken heart. When he meets Meera
again, the woman who left him, he tries his hardest to be her friend,to help her . . . and not let the past get in the way.

And then . . .
There is the sexy Zoya Sehgal. Meera’s only friend in the city and the woman Abeer is currently seeing. They say triangles have pointy edges, for a reason. 

Will Meera find a new dream in her ballet school? Can Abeer and Meera find their way back to each other again? And, most important, has Meera danced for the last time?

Goodreads I Amazon


Giveaway:
Open to Indian Residents Only



a Rafflecopter giveaway
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