16 May, 2018

#Spotlight - To Hell and Back by Anurag Anand

About the Book:
A mindless road-rage incident leaves a young and promising entrepreneur dead. Is it an accident, or a cold-blooded murder, planned to absolute perfection? Namrata, a young professional, is enveloped by all the quintessential elements of life in the fast lane—a staling marriage, an extramarital affair and eyes full of dreams, until a fun evening turns into a chilling nightmare for her.
Renu, a girl living in a world marred by regressive customs and dated practices, has resigned to the patriarchal ways of her world, until they begin to cast their malicious shadows on her unborn child.
Their worlds, although separate, intersect each other in a single strike of tragedy that none could have imagined. It is then that this story begins and sends everyone’s life on a dizzy tailspin…
Will they be able to get back to their safe and secure lives?
To Hell and Back is a fast-paced thriller that will not only keep you on tenterhooks till the very end, but it shall also rattle your beliefs on how ‘crime-proof’ the world that you live in truly is.


Goodreads * Amazon


Read an Excerpt:

You shall never know what it’s like to dance in the rain. . .
Studying the deluge from the confines of your world,
A world of the cautious, a world by the sane.

But what when the torrent refuses to wane. . .
And the wicked waters threaten to seep into your lane,
Into a world that was safe, into a world with no stain?

The muck and the filth will suddenly seem strange. . .
As your silence of today exposes you to a whole new world,
A world that’s out there, a world of horrors, a world of pain.


About the Author:
Anurag Anand is a prolific author, a corporate professional and a devout family man, who finds himself shuttling between Pennsylvania, where his family is settled, and Gurugram. Two of his works—The Legend of Amrapali and The Quest for Nothing—have made it to the final shortlist in the past editions of the Crossword Book Awards. His other books are Love on 3 Wheels, Where the Rainbow Ends, Birth of the Bastard Prince, Of Tattoos and Taboos! And Reality Bites.
He is a contributing author to several renowned publications, including The Times of India, and his column, ‘Corporate Whispers’, is a monthly feature in the Suburb Life magazine. The biggest reward for his writing, he believes, is hearing from his readers and interacting with them.

15 May, 2018

#SpecialFeature :: #GuestPost - Themes in Obsessed by Ruchi Kokcha


*** Special Feature - May 2018 ***


About the Book:
Disturbingly dark and full of shocking surprises, Obsessed traverses a path along the razor’s edge of twisted love. How far will Avik’s and Ananki’s obsessions take them? 

Investigative journalist Avik has finally found the one case that could bring him glory. Or death.
   
As the mystery behind millionaire Kalki Rajput’s murder thickens, Avik is forced to risk it all to bring out the truth that has eluded many before him.

If only he could uncover what the victim's daughter had witnessed. Of course, that would mean diving into the depths of her madness. He had thought he could resurface with the truth. Now he will count himself lucky if he makes it out alive. And sane.

Populated with characters that pose at the chasm that separates the real from the unreal, in prose that belongs to worlds not our own, Obsessed will snatch you from your comfort zone. None will ever guess the identity of the killer until the book chooses to reveal it. 

Amazon


Themes in Obsessed:

Obsessed not only shows the obsession of its protagonists but of every character in one way or the other. Every character in the book is obsessed at different levels, for different things. The magnitude of their obsession defines who they are inside. It is this obsession for something that makes them very natural, real and relatable.
The book questions various norms that have been conditioned into the collective psyche of our society from centuries. The youth can relate to the fact that neither these norms are the sole path to tread on, nor they can be put to compartments of black/white, right/wrong, normal/abnormal and so on. The book therefore will inspire them to seek alternative lines of thinking without foisting its own or author's perception about them.
The book also throws light on the changing nature of families in our society. With growing ambition, the parent-child relationships are at an all time low. Much like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, the book also underlines the question of nature vs. nurture. Are kids being born more violent today? Or is it the environment that makes them so? It will make the readers pause and think, 'What are we doing to our kids? What is more important than love and quality time?'

Lately, there has been a rise in the number of cases where a child is abused by someone close. Most disturbing are the cases where the biological father abuses the child. This book might also be seen as an act of subversion as the unconventional daughter rebels against the social norms and crosses every boundary that is set for her. Unimaginable events follow. 

About the Author:


Ruchi Kokcha is a writer and a poet who truly believes in her saying, ‘People come, people go, poetry stays.’ A lover of stories, she did her master’s in English literature from Delhi University. Currently working as a teacher, when not immersed in books or typing her heart out, she loves weight training at the gym or swaying to a Bollywood dance number. Obsessed is her first novel.





Contact the Author:

Giveaway:
Specially made Diary

a Rafflecopter giveaway

11 May, 2018

#Spotlight - The Woman Behind the Waterfall by Leonora Meriel

About the Book:


Heartbreak and transformation in the beauty of a Ukrainian village.

For seven-year old Angela, happiness is exploring the lush countryside around her home in western Ukraine. Her wild imagination takes her into birds and flowers, and into the waters of the river.
All that changes when, one morning, she sees her mother crying. As she tries to find out why, she is drawn on an extraordinary journey into the secrets of her family, and her mother's fateful choices.
Can Angela lead her mother back to happiness before her innocence is destroyed by the shadows of a dark past?
Beautiful, poetic and richly sensory, this is a tale that will haunt and lift its readers.





Book Links:


Meet the Characters:

The Setting

Ukraine, a village deep in the countryside. A picturesque, verdant landscape. The houses are beautiful but have few amenities: water is gathered from the well, clothes are washed by hand, and the “outhouse” toilet is in the garden. Life is hard work here, and close to nature.

The Language

There are many Ukrainian words in the novel, especially emphasizing the names of endearment Ukrainian people give to each other. Lastivka is “little swallow”; zaika is ‘little rabbit”; harnenka is “my beautiful one.”

Meet Lyudmilla

Lyuda is a beautiful woman in her early twenties who has suffered some hard knocks early on. Pregnant at just sixteen, she left school and the child’s father moved into their house in the village. Her father died, and her mother soon after, and Lyuda found herself a teenager loaded down with the pressures of a baby, looking after a house, and a man who expected her to cook for him and be the light-hearted girl he fell in love with. Eventually, the situation grows intolerable for him and he abandons her. At seventeen, she is entirely alone with a small baby. She falls into a deep cycle of depression and self-blame, feeling that her life is over and that she is at fault. She doesn’t let anyone close to her.
It is only when her daughter Angela is a little older – aged seven – that she starts to notice how sad her mother is.  She decides to do something about it.

Meet Angela

Seven-year-old girl Angela has been left alone to do as she likes for most of her life. Her mother makes sure her dresses are clean and her hair is untangled, but she is free to play as she wishes. She has a wild imagination and she sees no boundaries between her thoughts and the world around her: she flies in the body of a bird, she becomes the wind, she enters a storm – she is pure spirit and possibility.
When she starts to notice her mother crying every time she is alone, Angela is determined to find out why, and to help her mother regain the happiness she herself feels. At the heart of her investigation are questions that now begin to haunt her: Where is her father? Why does no one come to the house? Why does her mother cry when she thinks no one can see her?
When Angela meets the spirit of her grandmother, they come up with a plan to help Lyuda.

Meet Zoryana

The name Zoryana, which comes from the Ukrainian root zorya, means star, dawn, youth, day or spring. Zoryana has returned to the Earth in spirit form after seeing the unhappiness of her daughter and her failure to move past her teenage mistakes.
Zoryana feels that she did not prepare her daughter enough for the real world before she died, and she sees her struggling and unhappy. She wants to show her that life has highs and lows and that she must choose a new path for herself. She connects with her granddaughter Angela, who is not daunted by meeting the spirit of a relative, and together they help Lyuda to understand and see the joy in her life.

Meet Kolya

Nicolai, or Kolya, lives next door to Lyuda and brews home-made vodka in his shed. He sells it to her and catches rabbits for her to eat. He was a childhood friend of her mother, Zoryana, and he hates to see her so unhappy. He’d love to help her, but she pushes him away. When he finally makes a terrible mistake, there is a high price to pay.

Reviews for The Woman Behind the Waterfall

“Readers looking for a classic tale of love and loss will be rewarded with an intoxicating world” ~~ Kirkus Reviews

“The language is lyrical and poetic and, in places, begs to be read repeatedly for the sheer joy of it… A literary work of art.” ~~ Fiona Adams, The Richmond Magazine

“Rich and poetic in detail, it is an often dreamy, oneiric narrative rooted in an exaltation of nature… A lovely novel.” ~~ IndieReader

About the Author:
Leonora Meriel grew up in London and studied literature at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and Queen’s University in Canada. She worked at the United Nations in New York, and then for a multinational law firm.
In 2003 she moved from New York to Kyiv, where she founded and managed Ukraine’s largest Internet company. She studied at Kyiv Mohyla Business School and earned an MBA, which included a study trip around China and Taiwan, and climbing to the top of Hoverla, Ukraine’s highest peak and part of the Carpathian Mountains. She also served as President of the International Women’s Club of Kyiv, a major local charity.
During her years in Ukraine, she learned to speak Ukrainian and Russian, witnessed two revolutions and got to know an extraordinary country at a key period of its development.
In 2008, she decided to return to her dream of being a writer, and to dedicate her career to literature. In 2011, she completed The Woman Behind the Waterfall, set in a village in western Ukraine. While her first novel was with a London agent, Leonora completed her second novel The Unity Game, set in New York City and on a distant planet.
Leonora currently lives in Barcelona and London and has two children. She is working on her third novel.

Contact the Author:




#FaveFiveFriday - Fave Five Genres

#FaveFiveFriday is an initiative by Buzz Magazine



1. Mystery / Crime
Books that made me fall in love with reading were by Satyajit Ray & Agatha Christie. Feluda, Poirot and Miss Marple charmed me into building a reading habit. And so, this is the genre that remains always tops my preference list. I would prefer picking up a good Murder Mystery over everything else. Who doesn't like a gripping 'Whodunnit'?

Recommendations: Death on the Nile, Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Rebecca, Woman in White, The Hound of Baskervilles, The Final Problem.


2. Suspense / Action Thriller
Car chases, lots of action and near death situations make for entertaining reads. The excitement, the anticipation and the suspense is just intoxicating. 

Recommendations: Lee Child, Chris Kuzneski, Andy McNab, James Patterson, Tom Clancy, James Rollins, Oliver Bowden.


3. Fantasy / Speculative Fiction
I got into reading fantasy quite late. I used to think that magic and magical creatures belong to fairy tales and were meant for kids. I used to find it amusing that adults could believe in stories with dragons... Till I picked up Harry Potter. And the rest, as they say is history. 

Recommendations: Game of Thrones, Throne of Glass, Six of Crows, Harry Potter, The Handmaid's Tale, The Young Elite.


4. Young Adult
When Harry Potter proved me wrong about my notion about Fantasy, I started reading more genres and more of genres other than mysteries... Young Adult stuck with me too.

Recommendations: Diary of Anne Frank, The Book Thief, Fault in our Stars, Wonder, Anne of Green Gables.


5. Literary Fiction
I love this genre because the books in this genre are always a learning experience. They push me to think outside my comfort zone sometimes and challenges me to understand and empathize with people and situations. Sometimes they are real scary with how relatable they are too.

Recommendations: The Colour Purple, The Sense of an Ending, Little Women, Kite Runner, Perfume.



10 May, 2018

#GuestPost - Writing Romance by Ruchi Vasudeva

About the Author: 
Ruchi Vasudeva is a doctor by profession, a teacher by vocation and an author by destiny. The writing bug long resided in her till the Passions contest held by Harlequin for Indian authors gave her a golden opportunity to have her dream realized. She debuted in August '13 with her book 'Bollywood Fiancé For A Day'. She writes romantic fiction with conflicted characters. She loves to write about spirited heroines getting hurtled out of their daily life as soon as they cross paths with their rather challenging heroes. 

Juggling job, writing and family life isn’t something she would recommend to anyone who wants peace and calm but at the end of the day, she finds it very fulfilling. When not bent over the laptop, she might be found with her nose in books or munching nachos at the movies with her husband and two kids or glued to the telecast of Team India in action. Sometimes she drags herself for long walks and surprisingly discovers they are rather good for brewing story ideas. 'Romance,' she holds, 'can feel over-hyped in this day and age but is all too tangible and needed in life on daily basis.'

Contact the Author:
Website * Newsletter * Twitter

Writing Romance

Writing a romance novel is both rewarding and frustrating. The reward part is that you can always pen a Happy ever after which leaves your characters and you and hopefully, the readers with a smile on their face. But the actual writing is frustrating as any writing of fiction must be, but in romance the difficulty lies that you have to indulge in lot of fantasy and steer away from reality while making people believe in the reality. We all know perfect love as depicted in fiction cannot exist - how can it when we are all imperfect creatures. In reality, we are full of insecurities and hang-ups. We fight and argue and hurt the people we love. But we have to make the reader believe the fantasy of perfect love, as of course the tantalizing possibility exists, that we can conquer all and find perfection. That quest is what makes the reader read on and a romance author must have enough balance in the reality and fantasy to make it easy to believe for the reader.

In addition, we don't want to make it boring and about persons who are goody two shoes. A conflict which arises out of character motivation and is seemingly irresolvable must be a part of the equation. Boy meets girl is hardly a romance. It's how they overcome their beliefs and find a resolution to a struggle that the reader thinks cannot be overcome, is what makes a story worth reading. That's the challenge of writing romance. The reader knows they are going to end up together. But the story must give the illusion until the last page that the differences are going to be impossible to sort out. That makes for a page turner and a nail biting finish.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not easy to pen a romance novel. Certain expectations are already held by the readers and they want the author to both challenge the expectations and hold true to some of them. In addition, the story must have an element of uniqueness.

The list is daunting. But working out these difficulties is what makes the challenges of romance writing both interesting and rewarding. Of course, it’s easier to say that after I have forgotten the hair-pulling, nail-biting and floor-pacing that I did during the actual writing of the book. *smile*

Bollywood Fiancé for a Day demanded no less in the way of above, but it's practically the first romance novel that I finished, so it's quite close to my heart. I hope readers will enjoy this story of a serious doctor and a flamboyant movie star. 


About the Book:



What can possibly save you from cutting a sorry figure after being jilted by your very suitable fiancé? Well, if you could secure a Bollywood star as a replacement, it would be bound to still all the wagging tongues!

Studious Dr. Vishakha never dreamed that winning a date with Bollywood heartthrob Zaheer Saxena would land her in an unusual deal to benefit both of them. Zaheer wants to ward off unwanted attention from his leading lady and agrees to help her save her face. But she has to keep in mind that Zaheer can easily distinguish between pretense and reality before she begins to wish this were a dream that would come true...




Buy Link: 
Amazon


#BookBlitz :: Skarlet Kiss (The Forsaken #5) by Elise Whyles

About the Book:
Can one who served the enemy find love in the arms of a condemned man?

Una has spent her life serving Amuliana, the goddess of immortals. Now she stands on the brink of a change, one that can her give back the life she lost to Amuliana's meddling. But the change that comes will shatter the peaceful existence she knows and give her a new understanding of love and life. Unbeknownst to Una, her ancestors were the Forsaken, immortals who were cast out for the crime of a jealous vampire general.


Liam, an outcast among the dragon clans, has spent centuries seeking the one who condemned him for a crime he did not commit. When he comes face to face with Una, he must make a difficult choice - seek revenge or save a pure heart from the darkness threatening their worlds.


The dragon warrior and the human girl will unite to face enemies they've never experienced as a fallen vampire general's army stalks them. As Una gains strength, her immortal gifts are returned and she becomes a threat to the imprisoned general who's seeking power over the immortal world. He can't afford to let Una survive, because her life will ultimately cost him his.


Together, Liam and Una must fight their way back to the vampire world and the safety offered by her sister. Can love survive amid the treachery and danger, or has Liam finally found his mate only to lose her to the evil plaguing their worlds?


Book Link:
Goodreads * Amazon

Read an Excerpt:

Thick, rolling clouds kept the air moist as Liam paced the confines of his home. Ice covered the stone walls, snow swirled and danced along the floor of the cave. He shivered, the rattle of scales music to his ears. After two hundred years, he was finally able to break out of the horrid humanoid form.
Padding to the mouth of his cave, he stared out. White clouds soared around the mountain's peak. Snow danced along the ledge, piling where it was easiest. The air was cold, crisp, sweet, much as it had been when he'd grown up in the Highlands.

He tapped his claws against the stone, his eyes searching through the mist, for what he did not know. The need to search, to find an answer to the elusive want had plagued him for days, disturbing his hunting, his rest. Nights were filled with the image of a female, her hair flowing over her shoulders, wide, trust filled eyes staring at him. Her hands outstretched, reaching toward him. The visage tickled at his memory of another woman, one dressed as a slave, following the footsteps of a vampire…one he'd feared.

Curling his tail around himself, he settled on his haunches, shoulders hunched against the chill as he stared out over the human realm. Faint, his hunger stirred. Soon he'd need to hunt, both for food and for the one who had done him ill. The sharp point of his tail beat a slow, steady rhythm against the floor as he tilted his head, listening to the howling winds, the bitter screams of the winter weather, and the elusive sound of a beating heart.


About the Author:

Born in Northern British Columbia, Elise is a small-town girl. She writes in a variety of genres including paranormal, contemporary suspense, m/m in various lengths. Currently, she lives in British Columbia with her husband and son, one dog, one cat, and a gecko. Elise enjoys reading as much as she does writing, with some of her favorite books being read until they fall apart. 
She is currently working on the next book in the Forsaken Series, Burning Rain. As well she has a new contemporary she’s working on. For more information on Elise, or to check out her books you can find her on Facebook, twitter, and her website.



Contact the Author:

08 May, 2018

#SpecialFeature :: #GuestPost - The Character of Ananki by Ruchi Kokcha


*** Special Feature - May 2018 ***


About the Book:
Disturbingly dark and full of shocking surprises, Obsessed traverses a path along the razor’s edge of twisted love. How far will Avik’s and Ananki’s obsessions take them? 

Investigative journalist Avik has finally found the one case that could bring him glory. Or death.
   
As the mystery behind millionaire Kalki Rajput’s murder thickens, Avik is forced to risk it all to bring out the truth that has eluded many before him.

If only he could uncover what the victim's daughter had witnessed. Of course, that would mean diving into the depths of her madness. He had thought he could resurface with the truth. Now he will count himself lucky if he makes it out alive. And sane.

Populated with characters that pose at the chasm that separates the real from the unreal, in prose that belongs to worlds not our own, Obsessed will snatch you from your comfort zone. None will ever guess the identity of the killer until the book chooses to reveal it. 

Amazon


The Character of Ananki:

Obsessed is not just a book for me, it is a journey, not just of becoming a writer but also about becoming a more empathetic person. When I started writing Obsessed, I just had a story in my mind. At that point, I didn’t think of becoming a writer, forget about getting published. But this story had taken birth within me and most nights I found myself working on it within my mind. It had to find an outlet.

It was during my graduation days at Delhi University when I started attending lectures in Greek Literature. In the very first class, my Lecturer Dr Abhishek Sharma said, “Keep your common sense out when you come inside this door.” I guess the door was not just literal but metaphorical. For the door that lead us to Greek Literature had no room for the “normal” mode of thinking. We studied texts like Lysistrata, Medea, The Iliad, The Odyssey. Everything appeared beyond the realm of “normal” and yet we were taught how to empathise with someone like Medea who kills her own sons to take revenge from her cheating husband.

I wanted to create one such character. Day in and day out my mind was creating it, adding layer onto layer, to make it all the more unconventional. Even before I started writing the book, I had the image of my protagonist Ananki very clear in my mind as if she was present in flesh and blood. The name Ananki itself is taken from the greek work ‘Ananke’ meaning inevitability, compulsion, necessity.

Ananki is a character no one can imagine empathising with because of who she is and how we are conditioned by the roles we play in this society but somehow (even unintentionally) we can’t help but end up empathising with her. That is the beauty of this character. 


About the Author:


Ruchi Kokcha is a writer and a poet who truly believes in her saying, ‘People come, people go, poetry stays.’ A lover of stories, she did her master’s in English literature from Delhi University. Currently working as a teacher, when not immersed in books or typing her heart out, she loves weight training at the gym or swaying to a Bollywood dance number. Obsessed is her first novel.





Contact the Author:

Giveaway:
Specially made Diary

a Rafflecopter giveaway

#Interview with Tal Gur, #Author of The Art of Fully Living

About the Author: 


Tal Gur, a blogger, entrepreneur, and devoted adventurer, has spent a decade pursuing 100 major goals around the globe. But his journey had its challenges. Like most people, he faced crippling self-doubt and struggled for a sense of purpose. Behind every difficulty he discovered a life-changing gift, and now he’s passing what he learned onto others. Find out more about Tal and his 100 life goals project at www.FullyLived.com



Author Link:
Website

An Interview:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer?
I believe it was my mom who first told me I should be a writer. That was almost 20 years ago when I still wrote in Hebrew. I just arrived to Australia and I was lonely, so for a few months I wrote a series of emails about life in a new country. Writing was my refuge, my way to rip all the loneliness out of me. The topic was Australia, but underneath all that it was just a way to make sense of the world inside of me. My second serious attempt with writing was around a decade ago. Same as my first attempt, I used writing as a way to share and reflect upon life's journeys. Whether it be a trip overseas, my Ironman journey, or simply a random weekend escape, I played with the words like a new toy. Nowadays writing is a big part of what I do 

What inspires you to write?
With The Art of Fully Living book, the story seemed to be wanting to come out. Conscious that many more people wanted to hear my story, I began to dare thinking that I could write a book that can turn to a bestseller. For years, since the beginning of my journey, people had repeatedly said to me, “you should start writing your story.” I kind of laughed it off because I never thought my English was good enough for writing it properly. Over time, however, I realized that this was not true anymore. I played with the book idea for a while until one day, I decided to plunge into it full steam.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
Well, after all, I knew the topic cold; Much of what I have written has come from my own life experiences and journeys. Here are some of the major ones: https://fullylived.com/travels/

Tell us about your writing process.
As with other big goals I had set and pursued, the writing process required commitment, sacrifice, and investment of my most precious resource—my time. When I sat down to begin typing, resistance nudged me back. But I reminded myself: I’d sailed past that same hurdle a thousand times before. The brief pain was no different than waking up for an early morning workout. Week after week, the pages piled up. I was ecstatic to be writing a real book, a dream I couldn’t have imagined a decade ago. The support I received from other writers helped get me through and manage the workload. I drew on my refined work habits, plus everything I’d learned since the start of my journey, and the book seemed to write itself.

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
Yes, I read a lot. My favorite two genres are self help / personal development and biographies. I actually made a list of my favorite book and authors:  https://fullylived.com/best-books/

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
Sit down to write every day. One of my friends once told me that "if you sit in front of the blank page long enough, it'll get written". Our minds like habits and patterns. If you force yourself to write at the same time each and everyday, by the 5th day your mind will go "ok, this is what we do at this time. I might as well cooperate".

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Find your limiting beliefs about writing. Beliefs are like the operating system to our brain. I believe they guide every action (and reaction) that we take (and those we don't take). We all adopted beliefs about ourselves and the world through personal and other people's experiences. Some of these beliefs do not serve us in the long run and in fact limit us from expressing our highest potential. Throughout my life I had to banish limiting beliefs about myself and my abilities to make things happen. What I learnt is that we can choose new beliefs about ourselves almost immediately, without even the evidence or the relevant reference experience. I wrote about my process of eliminating limiting beliefs here: https://fullylived.com/eliminating-limiting-beliefs/

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
Yes, somewhere along the way, I have learned that the ultimate measure of success is not in accomplishing goals, but rather in the ways to attain them. In fact, the end goal is largely irrelevant, as long as it immerses you fully in the process. Perhaps a better measure of success, therefore, is the ability to focus, get into flow, and feel a deep sense of enjoyment. You've heard it before: It is the journey that counts, not reaching the destination.

About the Book:
In this stirring book, author, blogger and lifestyle entrepreneur, Tal Gur offers his own transformational journey as an inspiring example and practical guide to implementing the art of fully living to its fullest potential. You’ll learn how to actualize your potential by forging all aspects of your life through the process built into your life goals. 

Once you discover “the art of fully living,” there is no going back; it will feel unacceptable to settle for less than your dreams—and what’s more, you’ll dream even more wildly, aspiring to action with greater clarity of purpose, broader horizons of possibility, and holistic vision across all areas of your life. 
The very structure of this book models Tal’s immersive approach to goal-driven living: each chapter of The Art of Fully Living is dedicated to a year of focus—socializing, fitness, freedom, contribution, love, adventure, wealth, relationship, spirituality, and creativity—and follows Tal’s endeavors as he works toward fulfilling 100 life goals in only 10 years. 
This daunting ambition, springing from one late-night conversation among friends and a gnawing discontentment within the typical “success” story, becomes extremely relatable through Tal’s bold storytelling; what’s more, the deep lessons learned become immediately applicable for your own purposes as Tal thoughtfully extracts the actionable wisdom from his own experiences to articulate the principles and techniques of “the art of fully living.”
The Art of Fully Living takes you along the exhilarating ride of Tal’s journey while illuminating your own possible life-goal trajectory: as Tal relates how he socialized nonstop in vibrant Melbourne to master English and trained intensively to complete Ironman New Zealand and practice ancient Thai martial arts, you’ll learn how to apply immersion to achieve your own life goals; as Tal describes how he eliminated his crushing student debt in one year and attained financial and location independence, you’ll learn how to simplify your life, recognize your own present wealth, and turn your passions into a living; and as Tal animates his experiences learning to surf and salsa, to drum in a troupe and compose electronic music, and to write this very book, you’ll learn how to let your intuition be your guide, reveal your authentic core, and achieve flow—among the myriad other adventures and take-aways that fill this book. 
Tal not only introduces the idea that the art of fully living is another skill to master but also guides you through honing this skill with chapter lessons and actionable key takeaways.

Buy Link:
Amazon


Master the art of fully living, one life goal at a time. Do you want to experience your one life—your whole life—to its fullest measure? Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone discovered and did what made them feel fully alive? 

In this stirring book, author, blogger and lifestyle entrepreneur, Tal Gur offers his own transformational journey as an inspiring example and practical guide to implementing the art of fully living to its fullest potential. You’ll learn how to actualize your potential by forging all aspects of your life through the process built into your life goals. 

This book is especially for you if you find yourself frustrated often, feeling low, or if you’re struggling while asking yourself “What do I REALLY want?”
You will find your calling.
You will define your life goals.
You will discover how to leverage your strengths to achieve your dreams.
You will know what it means to be truly free.
You will be fulfilled by the path you have chosen to take from this point on.


07 May, 2018

#BookBlitz :: A Time to Burnish by Radhika Nathan

~ Book Blitz ~
A Time to Burnish by Radhika Nathan

About the Book:
"Not too long before we can get as many of them 3-D printed."

That pretty much sums up Josh Winslow's feelings about classic artifacts. As a man of science and technology, he couldn't care less about old bronze idols. Unfortunately, his brother Tom has just made one such idol his problem.

Vidya Thyagarajan, a young banker from Chennai, didn't expect to chase the origins of old idols either. But her friend Tom has just entangled her in one such chase.

Along with Vidya, Josh reluctantly embarks on a journey to India to track the origins of a Chola bronze idol. Through the urban maze of Chennai, dusty roads of small towns in deep Chola territory, they discover clues that confounds them every step of the way.

During a short span of a week, the quest quickly becomes personal as the shadow of the past challenges their outlook toward life and love.

Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon

Read an Excerpt:

“What is my area of expertise, Josh?”
Recognizing the question for what it was—an opener—Josh bit back a groan. Tom reminded him of an old modem in a slow network; the connection light had to get steady before the data light started blinking in a measured pace.
He replied, “You know I can answer that question in my sleep! Growing up, it was all that residue hippie stuff, all that ghastly sitar music, thanks to Mom and Dad. Then you had to go pick India as your area of interest.”
There was no answering smile on Tom’s face, just an abrupt headshake of a refusal to rise to the bait.
“What specifically in India?”
“South India.”
“Your brilliant grasp of the specifics never ceases to amaze me,” Tom said with the same maddened note that crept into his voice when dealing with Josh’s indifference toward his profession.
He poured out the warm saké from the flask and took a delicate sip from the cup.
“For the zillionth time, my area of specialization is the Chola Empire, covering roughly the ninth to the thirteenth century.”
“I know,” acknowledged Josh, sensing this was not the time to say “whatever.” He made an effort instead. “The rise and fall of the Cholas, with special focus on that dude who was a great warrior and visionary—Maharajah Chola.”
“You mean Rajaraja Chola.”
“Yes, of course, what was that paper you wrote? ‘The social order under Rajaraja and the later Cholas’,” Josh said with pretentious nonchalance. Tom produced many such papers and was either a member or a fellow or some such on various societies.
Tom laughed for the first time that evening. “There may be some hope for you after all.”
Josh grinned.
Tom rubbed his eyes slightly and then, leaning forward, started talking about the Cholas with the passion and intensity that usually marked him.
“At its peak, the Chola Empire covered the bulk of South India, parts of Sri Lanka, touched Maldives, and even Malacca. The medieval Chola kings were great patrons of art and literature, they made major strides in governance and foreign relations, and they were builders of magnificent architecture... Let’s just say, the height of the Chola Empire, especially the time of Rajaraja, can be thought of as a golden age. Think Italy during the Renaissance.”
“Must I?” Josh muttered, fidgeting a little. Tom ignored it.
“You know, as part of my job, I work on acquisitions of relics of rare value?”
Yes,” Josh nodded. What was it that Tom had acquired the previous summer? Wasn’t it a manuscript of some sort? He wished he could surreptitiously pull his iPad out and do a quick search on his email.
He needn’t have troubled himself. Tom continued, almost ignoring his answer, his brows furrowed.
“My limited budget hardly allows for anything major. A piece of an intricately carved wooden door, an old silk sari, a palm leaf book, those are the kind of things I usually go for. A Chola bronze icon is in a whole different league. You could even say it’s the top artifact of the period. These bronzes are typically delicate, sensual icons of the gods and the saints or occasionally royals. They still make bronze icons in south India, but the Chola bronzes are Yes,” Josh nodded. What was it that Tom had acquired the previous summer? Wasn’t it a manuscript of some sort? He wished he could surreptitiously pull his iPad out and do a quick search on his email.
He needn’t have troubled himself. Tom continued, almost ignoring his answer, his brows furrowed.
“My limited budget hardly allows for anything major. A piece of an intricately carved wooden door, an old silk sari, a palm leaf book, those are the kind of things I usually go for. A Chola bronze icon is in a whole different league. You could even say it’s the top artifact of the period. These bronzes are typically delicate, sensual icons of the gods and the saints or occasionally royals. They still make bronze icons in south India, but the Chola bronzes are antiques—they could be millions of dollars’ worth.” Tom paused for a moment, his face troubled, full of worry.
Josh raised his brows and whistled lightly. “Millions, huh?”
“Yes, millions. Josh, in my enthusiasm, I have made a grave mistake. You have got to help me. I have no one else to turn to.” Tom’s voice took on a strained, and nervous quality.
Josh raised a hand.
“Hang on! What are you talking about?”
Tom sat back, grimaced, and then enunciated slowly. “I need you to help me track a Chola bronze.”
“What do you mean track?”
“Find all the information there is about a particular Chola bronze. I believe I have in my possession an antique bronze that has come into the UK likely through illicit art trafficking. My gut says there has been a major art theft, and if I don’t act now, I am going to be an accessory.”

About the Author:
Radhika Nathan is a juggler, a meanderer and a rolling stone. She believes in the miracle of words and the rain. Her favourite pastimes include reading, listening to podcasts and gazing at monsoon clouds. Her taste in books is eclectic ranging from anthropology to old fashioned murder mysteries, and if pushed she would name Jane Austen as her favourite author for her believable, eternal characters. Travel is something she enjoys and has been to more than a dozen countries- for the love of meeting new people and discovering new cultures. 
Radhika writes for her fascination of human beings, intrigued by their archetypal & atypical behaviour and the differences & similarities in all of us. Writing is a means that forces her to think and re-examine a point of view or a preconceived notion. ‘I grow as a person as I write’, she says and quotes ‘A well written sentence [a rare occurrence] is like soul chocolate.’
Radhika, believes in a spiritual approach to life that welcomes science. She believes in liberty, equality, personal responsibility and fair play.


Author Links:



04 May, 2018

#Interview with Jim Ringel, #Author of 49 Buddhas

About the Author:


Jim Ringel lives in rural Colorado with his sidekick and teacher, Rascal the Tibetan Terrier. When not writing fiction, he can be found hiking, biking, and skiing in the Colorado mountains, or sitting still and meditating at home.

Jim is the author of the Lama Rinzen Mystery series. Book 1 of the series-49 Buddhas-is coming in May, 2018. Each book takes place in one of the six Buddhist Realms--either the Hell Realm, the Hungry Ghost Realm, the Animal Realm, the Human Realm, the Warring Titan Realm or the God Realm.

In each book Rinzen must solve a crime and learn the lesson of the realm. In solving the crime, he will in evidently be killed, so that he may be reborn into the next book and the next realm.



Contact the Author:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * LinkedIn

An Interview:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller? 
I have been telling stories since I was a kid in grammar school. Some stories were lies I made up to get me out of fixes. They worked, and I learned I could be convincing. Others were lies I told to get me into conversations where I didn’t belong. They were funny and people laughed. That’s when I promised myself—I was in the 4th grade then—that my life’s mission would be to make at least one person laugh every day. I think I’ve held to that.
I guess that’s when I got the bug. I like telling stories.

What inspires you to write?
I write to explore the questions of my life, and to seek out the little nuggets that are hidden inside every day. 
I write to survive in the incomprehensible world around me.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
I am a practicing Buddhist. A western Buddhist with a questioning mind. Meditation is my practice for opening myself up and becoming vulnerable to the answers that confront me. 
I wrote 49 Buddhas as the first of a six-book series framed around the Six Realms of Tibetan Buddhism. In each book, Lama Rinzen is reborn as a detective into one of the six realms where he (and sometimes she) must solve a crime and learn the lesson of the realm. By accomplishing both these goals, Rinzen then dies to be reborn into the next book and into the next realm.
49 Buddhas explores Lama Rinzen’s rebirth into the Hell Realm on Denver’s Colfax Avenue. The Hell Realm is a realm of confusion and unsettlement and self-loathing. A realm where the hero stands alone outside of the mainstream. I wrote 49 Buddhas to help me through my own confused state of observing so much that I don’t understand. 
I wrote 49 Buddhas as an off-beat detective story. I have always enjoyed detective fiction. The hero-detective trying to puzzle his way through clues to find the killer, without overlaying his own ego atop what he observes. 
It is a lesson Buddhism teaches—to see the world without ego. Of course, for me as a Buddhist and for any good fictional detective, that is hard to do. I wrote 49 Buddhas  to explore this in myself, and to tell a funny noir detective story about it.

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
I have a number of short stories that have never seen the light of day. Most have to do with mean-spirited animals or witches, and they draw heavily on childhood experiences. I wrote one story about when my cousin and I encountered a witch. She chased us down an alley. I have remembered that story all through my life, and finally I wrote it. I told my cousin about it a few weeks ago, and how I remember it as so chilling. He told me he doesn’t remember a witch ever chasing us. I guess it chilled him so much he cannot even remember.

Tell us about your writing process.
I have a few simple rules:
1) Get to the desk six days a week by 9:30AM and write for a three hour session,
2) Have a goal of at least 750 words committed to paper during each session,
3) When I’ve completed a draft, repeat the process until I am happy with the novel,
4) Don’t be too hard on myself. Keep the writing fun.

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
I think all of my characters inherited my quirks. Each character assumes a different one. Obsessive focus. Grasping attachment to ego. Interpretation of the world according to my own needs (the old detective-Buddhist challenge). A snide way of laughing things off. These are the less desirable way I have of dealing with how life confuses me. 
But in the end our hero turns all this into wonderment. A brief glimpse of enlightened mind, and that’s where the story ends. That’s a quirk I’d like to inherit from my character.

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
I walk around my house acting out scenes for the book. I rant, I rave, I go off on tangents. I love this quirk. Plus, it amuses my dog. It takes me down all sorts of rabbit holes where I learn about my characters more and more. Sometimes all the acting keeps me from hitting my daily word count. That’s when I try to go easy on myself. The exploration of writing is meant to be enjoyable. Why else do it?

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
My all time favorite since college is Graham Greene. The subtlety of his suspense and his humor is the lesson I keep trying to learn. It’s probably the measure I use when finding other writers I enjoy, like Shirley Jackson, Thomas Berger, Walker Percy, Patricia Highsmith, Blake Crouch, Olen Steinhauser, Louise Penny, and I know I’m leaving somebody out. 
I just finished a really poignant book by T.Q. Tyson, The Past is Never. Beautifully written story about a child gone missing. Mysterious and haunting. 
Humor and suspense both play hand in hand. Both keep you on edge. I’m a sucker for pretty words and well-sculpted scenes. But these are backdrop, and should not call too much attention to themselves. All the world is a whole. A balance, and no one part should be saying “Look at me. See how pretty and pretentious I am.” The world should sneak up on you in a slow reveal. Like how humor does. Or how a good mystery unfolds.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
To expect nothing. To sit down and write, even if the session feels unproductive while writing. Sometimes gems blossom long after they’re born.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Go for it. If you’re a writer, go for it and don’t let anything interfere. It will not be easy, so be comfortable with unease. It will not be a conventional way of living either, so be comfortable being an oddball. There are many who say that writing is a profession of suffering. But if you’re a writer, you don’t resist suffering. You explore it. There are many seemingly successful people who avoid suffering by not doing what they want to do. To me, that sounds miserably naïve. Like true suffering. No matter how big their houses, their cars, their smiles, inside they’re just bums panhandling their way through a life full of trade-offs. 

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
My free time? I needed to look that up—what is free time? I walk my dog a lot around various local hiking trails. I meditate. I read, of course. I enjoy good jazz, rock, and experimental classical music. I do charity work. And I bicycle. 

Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
I think I lived my life backwards. I did a lot of my bucket list when I was younger, so I could learn from it. Now, my bucket list mostly consists of catching up on the goals I should have pursued when younger.

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
1) I once read the instructions from a tube of Preparation H to a crowd that gathered to hear me in a Moroccan marketplace.
2) I hitchhiked for a month through Ireland once, where I kept meeting different brothers and sisters and cousins from a family named Dunphy. 
3) I have fallen down some of the steepest ski trails in the Canadian Rockies, and have lived to tell entertaining stories about it.

What do you have in store next for your readers?
I am currently continuing my Lama Rinzen Mystery series with Lama Rinzen in the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts somewhere out on the Colorado plains.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
I appreciate you reading. Not just my books, but all the good writing out there.

About the Book:
49 Buddhas tells of Lama Rinzen in the Hell Realm—a realm of confusion, shifting ground, and anger.

In the Hell Realm, the lama must find insurance man Sonny Heller’s killer. Lama Rinzen believes finding Sonny’s killer will lead him to the sacred dorje. Once he finds the dorje—once he can touch it and feel the dorje’s ancient wisdom—only then can Lama Rinzen and all sentient beings achieve enlightenment.

Many seek the dorje, but only Lama Rinzen is deserving.

Then again, distinguishing such delusions from insight is the lesson the lama must learn. Not only so he can find Sonny’s killer, but so he also may progress along the path to enlightenment.

Or so he believes. 


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