15 January, 2018

#SpecialFeature :: #GuestPost - Books and Authors that have inspired me over the years by Capri Jalota

*** Special Feature - January 2018 ***

About the Book:

One fine morning, Jane wakes up and stands upon the ledge of her 18th floor flat in Dubai Marina. Till a few years back, she was everything that would make anyone jealous – beautiful, rich and successful. But then the wheels of time turned. Today, she is miserable and lonely. Would she get over a deception? Can she forgive herself for deserting a friend? Would she ever find true love? Will karma get the better of her or will life give her another chance to correct the wrongs? 

Then the Doorbell Rang is about Jane’s roller-coaster journey as she explores the mystical phenomenon called Life.


Goodreads * Amazon




Books and Authors that have inspired me over the years:

Khalid Hosseini and Jean Sasson are two authors who have deeply inspired me over the years. One can almost relive the pain of the protagonist even though the events have happened in unknown geographies, several thousand kilometres away and decades in the past. And I think the key is their amazing ability to picturize the scene so vividly for the readers that one almost teleports into those places and situations.

And it has influenced me so much that when I started writing, somewhere back of my mind, I was always trying hard to create the same magic.  I keep receiving feedback about my novel from book critics, friends and other readers. While I have consistently received some amazing feedbacks, the most common feedback that I have received is "Loved the way I have picturized the scenes and can relate to the protagonist so very well"

I cant stop smiling every time I hear this and it is my small tribute to the wonderful authors who have enthralled and amazed me with their writings.


About the Author:
In July 2016, when Capri's career was at an all-time high, he quit his job and decided to pursue one of his under-40 goals and that was to pen a novel. His first novel - "Then the doorbell rang", which is in fiction genre, has been published by Leadstart Publishing. His book has been released on Amazon and has received great responses. 
Capri's philosophy in life is simple - Plan your life rather than follow a plan. Whilst this might sound contradictory, if you re-read the statement you would be able to understand the subtle difference. Planning is a continuous process whilst a plan is a static one. At different points in one's life, one must be able to revisit his life and re-sync it with life's changed priorities and circumstances.
And to be successful, it is very important to be passionate about what you do. "Passion is elixir for the soul" is something he truly believes in. This coupled with the right mentoring leads to an assured success.
Capri is keen to share his perspectives with the world through his writings and talks. 

Goodreads * Amazon


Giveaway:
2 Paperback Copies of Then the Doorbell Rang by Capri Jalota for Indian Residents


12 January, 2018

#Interview with Wil Gesler, #Author of Missionaries And India

About the Author: 

Wil Gesler was born in India of missionary parents during the Second World War and was educated there through high school at a school for missionary children. He spent most of his working life as an academic human geographer at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Since his retirement, he has lived with his wife in England, most recently at the edge of the Lake District. 





An Interview with the Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
I wanted to write stories ever since I was a teenager, but I never thought of writing as a career.  I did win honorable mention in a short story contest my first year at college, but then I did not turn to writing in earnest until I retired from my last post as a university professor.

What inspires you to write?
I feel a strong inner urge to tell other people a story about something that (usually) happened to me.  But I want the story to mean something, to be focused on a central theme or themes.  The act of writing and revising gives me great pleasure and satisfaction.  It makes me feel that I have the possibility to communicate my experiences, thoughts, and feelings to others with the hope that they resonate with them.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
Throughout my life I have often recalled with great fondness my early years in India as the son of Protestant missionary parents.  I began to remember incidents that I either experienced or heard about that made a strong, lasting impression on me.  I ended up with material for a dozen or so tales that I felt epitomized this time in my life.  The result was not a novel in the usual sense, but an episodic or picaresque novel.  I knew that somehow I wanted to portray interactions between Indians and missionaries in the 1950s, as viewed by a teen-age boy, in as honest a way as possible.  I wanted to show that these interactions were examples of universal themes such as cultural clashes, inclusion and exclusion, fantasy versus reality, order versus chaos, or taking risks.

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
As I was writing Missionaries and Indians, I also began to write some short stories based mainly on other experiences I have had.  There are half-a-dozen stories with settings in the United States, West Africa, France, and Afghanistan.  They reflect my interest in social and economic inequalities, power relations, and coming-of-age.

Tell us about your writing process.
I am usually daydreaming, sitting in a comfortable chair, lying awake early in the morning, or out on a walk when an idea for a story comes to me.  When I next have the chance, I make some notes.  Then I think some more and make some more notes.  When I have what seem to be enough ideas, I begin to write.  I am afraid I am not a very disciplined writer; that is, I do not have set times during the day, every day, when I sit down and write.  But once I get started on a story, it usually flows along and the first draft pops out fairly quickly.  Then I spend a long time, months maybe, making revisions as I read the story over and over and new ideas come to me.
The process is somewhat analogous to the method I have read that Leonardo da Vinci used when he was painting a picture such as the Mona Lisa.  He would lay down a base layer of paint and then meticulously lay down thin layers of paint (sometimes over a period of many years) that incorporated such things as perspective, light and shade, anatomical structure, matching facial expressions and body movement to express the same emotions, and so on.  For my stories the base layer is the first draft that tells the main story or theme.  Then I add background context, side themes, descriptions of setting and character, sections of dialogue, snatches of humor, bits of local color, and so on.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
I will say it comes in the chapter titled “Uncle Jim Kills a Monkey.”  Missionary Jim, a somewhat feckless fellow with a heart of gold, fatally shoots a sacred animal by accident.  The people in the village where Jim works are, with good reason, outraged.  Jim comes to the narrator’s father for help and he suggests that they ask Pastor Timothy, a Brahmin convert to Christianity, to help resolve the clash of cultures.  The scene is Pastor Timothy and Jim sitting with a group of villagers under a large banyan tree negotiating a peaceful settlement.

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
The narrator, Ben, is most like me.  He is a rather shy teen-ager, but loves to get involved in adventures such as being caught up in a political riot or hunting a man-eating tiger in the dark of night.  My perceptive niece asked me if the seven-year old Wally in the story might also be based on my young self and I had to say, “yes.”  Wally is a science nerd, perhaps a bit autistic, socially awkward, but always tells the truth.
Was there a subconscious identification with my school nickname, Willy?  Sometimes the views and actions of characters other than Ben reflect my own ideas on such things as religion and politics.  For example: Uncle Wilhelm is my ideal missionary, able to live in the world of his parishioners as well as his own.  Uncle Frank, on the other hand, who puts down local culture and religion, represents what I deplore in a certain type of missionary.  I favor those who seek to tolerate and include as opposed to those who are intolerant and exclusive.

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
Perhaps it is the fact that I came to write in earnest rather late in life, starting in my mid-sixties and only being published in my mid-seventies.

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I read a great deal.  Many of the books I read are non-fiction and cover a wide range of subjects in the arts and sciences. For my writing style, I am inspired by reading and re-reading a handful of what are considered to be classics in literature.  Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, my favorite novel, does it all: furious action and high adventure mixed with deep contemplation, a heady concoction of metaphysical flights of fancy and absorbing details of the lives of whalers, a sense of the mystery and unkowableness of life, on and on.  I admire Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men for its throbbing narrative drive and its unique combination of theme, plot, and characterization.  Huckleberry Finn serves as a model for my picaresque novel; also, no one is better than Mark Twain at injecting humor into stories.  Poets like William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge can be read for the obvious rhythms of the language and ability to elicit a whole range of emotions.  I enjoy a novel like The Sot Weed Factor by John Barth for its exuberance, raucous humor, and intricate plot.  Thomas Hardy is rarely equaled in his ability to create an overall atmosphere (Return of the Native) or to set up scenes with the use of vivid imagery (Far From the Madding Crowd).  The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann is exceptional in its ability to meld large ideas like the meaning of life and death with the everyday lives of its characters.  And then there is perhaps the archetypal coming-of-age novel The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.  Many of these influences are quoted or referenced in Missionaries and Indians.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
Write about things that seem to come from somewhere deep inside you.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
It is a cliché to say follow your passions, but I say it anyway.  Someone I know who was not a missionary child told me my love of India and growing up there comes through to her in my book.  Write about things you can get emotional about, that have meaning for you.

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
I think I will pass on this one.  I know very few film actors who are currently in movies.  
 
If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
I am tempted to say, given modern technology, that I would take solar-powered equipment to enable me to read my favorite books, play my favorite classical and popular music, and watch my favorite movies, but that would probably go against the spirit of the question.
So I will say a bag of books, including those mentioned in question 9; a good telescope to help me navigate the clear night skies; and snorkeling equipment to explore the reefs along the coast.

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
Most of my free time is spent reading fiction and non-fiction books.  In the evenings I watch an hour or two of T.V., good quality nature, history, music, and news programs.  The best place for me to unwind is walking in the fells (mountains) of the English Lake District, just a few miles from where I live.

Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
These are all things I will probably never dare to do or have the chance to do, but they are potentially doable:  hike to Everest Base Camp; do a sky dive, spend a season going to good plays in a city such as London.

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
I climbed over 800,000 feet (more than two dozen Everest’s) over the last ten years in the English Lake District.  Several years ago, during an operation to remove prostate tissue, I enjoyed watching the procedure on a T.V. screen above the hospital bed: it was like seeing water rushing down a stream, forcing rocks to tumble along.  At age 75 I joined some friends, a father and his two young sons, in a Go Ape! high-wire adventure in a nearby forest; I had never done anything remotely like that before. 

What do you have in store next for your readers?
As mentioned in question 4 above, I have written several short stories that I would like to see published.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
I have worried that some readers of Missionaries and Indians took the book too seriously.  Perhaps they thought a book about missionaries was a mainly religious book and they should keep a poker face when reading it.  Not so.  I have tried to inject humor into the story whenever possible, sometimes obviously, sometimes a bit obscure.  Please laugh when you read it.  People and the situations they get themselves into are funny.

About  the Book:
This book is a fictionalized account of a teenage boy growing up in a community of Lutheran missionaries in India. It attempts to honestly portray his experiences there, steering a course between either eulogizing or condemning the missionary endeavour. Indian and missionary characters weather a cyclone and floods, try to make the grade as a missionary, send out mixed messages in sermons, have their ups and downs on a river trip on a houseboat, are taken to court, get caught up in a violent political protest, suffer through a little child's illness, kill a sacred monkey, become a fantasy spy, take positions on sex, hunt a tiger, and come together for a topsy-turvy retreat at the beach.
The stories told in the book touch on issues of perennial interest: the collision and integration of different worlds and cultures; interpersonal relationships among and between missionaries and Indians, between children and their parents, and between servants and masters; evolution and change; inclusion versus exclusion; religious beliefs; human-environment relationships; sex education; the real and the fake; fantasy versus reality; and taking risks.




08 January, 2018

#SpecialFeature :: #GuestPost - Experience of writing my debut novel by Capri Jalota

*** Special Feature - January 2018 ***

About the Book:

One fine morning, Jane wakes up and stands upon the ledge of her 18th floor flat in Dubai Marina. Till a few years back, she was everything that would make anyone jealous – beautiful, rich and successful. But then the wheels of time turned. Today, she is miserable and lonely. Would she get over a deception? Can she forgive herself for deserting a friend? Would she ever find true love? Will karma get the better of her or will life give her another chance to correct the wrongs? 

Then the Doorbell Rang is about Jane’s roller-coaster journey as she explores the mystical phenomenon called Life.


Goodreads * Amazon




Experience of writing my debut novel:

I had the plot in mind for my debut novel since 2014 but somehow I couldn't dedicate adequate time for it. There were random writings here and there, but i wasn't going anywhere. But for a good two years, the plot failed to leave me. Every passing day, it grew over me. Finally, a day came that I decided to quit my job and write full-time. When I first mooted the idea of taking a break from work, it created a huge ruckus in the household - ours is a middle class Indian family - job security is foremost to everything else but then over a period of time, they understood my perspective and have been amazingly supportive throughout my journey of writing and publishing.

So, I took the hard call and quit my job. But staying at home and writing is far less fashionable than how most people perceive it. I had a fair amount of public dealing at work and usually would end up meeting dozens of people each day. Then suddenly, I was lonely - just sitting alone in a corner and writing. Budding writers - here is a piece of advice - writing is more about hardwork and perseverance than creativity. Ensuring consistency in storyline and ending the novel can give you enough and more sleepless nights than the fear of achieving steep targets at work.

But the experience of going through the entire process of writing, publishing and marketing the book was a highly satisfying one. I got to know myself better and i think i am far more balanced in my outlook towards life than I was an year back.

I loved writing my book, I have tried to pack it up with emotions, drama, happiness, sadness, poetry, etc. I sincerely hope the readers would like it too. 


About the Author:
In July 2016, when Capri's career was at an all-time high, he quit his job and decided to pursue one of his under-40 goals and that was to pen a novel. His first novel - "Then the doorbell rang", which is in fiction genre, has been published by Leadstart Publishing. His book has been released on Amazon and has received great responses. 
Capri's philosophy in life is simple - Plan your life rather than follow a plan. Whilst this might sound contradictory, if you re-read the statement you would be able to understand the subtle difference. Planning is a continuous process whilst a plan is a static one. At different points in one's life, one must be able to revisit his life and re-sync it with life's changed priorities and circumstances.
And to be successful, it is very important to be passionate about what you do. "Passion is elixir for the soul" is something he truly believes in. This coupled with the right mentoring leads to an assured success.
Capri is keen to share his perspectives with the world through his writings and talks. 

Goodreads * Amazon


Giveaway:
2 Paperback Copies of Then the Doorbell Rang by Capri Jalota for Indian Residents


05 January, 2018

#Spotlight :: The Viking’s Witch By Kelli A. Wilkins

The Viking’s Witch – Hot Historical Romance
By Kelli A. Wilkins
www.KelliWilkins.com 


Hi everyone,

Today I’m sharing a look back at the making of my first Medallion Press release, The Viking’s Witch.

The Viking’s Witch is a traditional historical romance with paranormal elements set in Scotland in 803 A.D. The main character, Odaria, is what they called a witch back then—nowadays we’d call her a psychic and a healer. Here’s the plot summary:

The Viking’s Witch




About to be burned at the stake by her fellow villagers, Odaria does what any betrayed witch facing certain death would do. She calls down a curse. Within seconds, rampaging Norsemen raid the village, capturing everyone except her.
But her reprieve is short-lived, and Odaria lands in the clutches of the Norse leader Rothgar. Can she remain true to herself and fight her growing attraction to this domineering man, or will she fall under his influence and be used for his ambitions?
After Rothgar witnesses Odaria’s powers firsthand, he strikes a bargain with her. The raven-haired beauty will use her magical abilities to help him with his quest in exchange for safe passage off the isle. But can this cunning woman be trusted, or is she using him to exact vengeance on her village?
Together they must fight bloodthirsty villagers, battle a mutinous band of Norsemen, find a missing Norse ship, and learn to trust each other…before time is up.



Interviewers and readers have asked what my inspiration was when I was writing the book, and are curious about how much research I had to do to create the unique characters and detailed setting.

Like many of my books, the idea for the story came to me out of the blue. One day, the entire opening sequences popped into my head and I knew I had to start writing. At the time, I had the basic plot (Viking warrior falls in love with Celtic witch), but I wasn’t sure about most of the details, like the character names, their backstories, and the subplot. All of that came later, along with the secondary characters, Brennan and Nordskog. (I’ll talk more about them in Part Two of this blog.)

Scotland is a beautiful place and I’ve always wanted to set a book there. (I still may write another historical set in the Highlands.) Having the story take place on the remote Orkney Islands added a sense of urgency and tension to the plot.

In a sense, Rothgar and Odaria are “trapped” on the island and are forced to deal with a pack of angry villagers and other Norsemen. The action is condensed into a few days on a very small island, so there’s really nowhere for the characters to go. They’re forced to work together in order to get off the island—and survive.

Before I wrote a word, I had to do a lot of research on where to set the story. I knew the book would take place in Scotland where the Vikings traveled in their early years of exploration, but I didn’t want it to be a populated location. Once I decided on the Orkneys, I had to pick which island to set the story. (There are 70 different islands, but today, only 20 are inhabited.)

I also had to research what life was like in that time period for Odaria and Rothgar. (What kind of clothes did they wear? What food did they eat? How did Norsemen travel so far? What were their ships like?) Odaria and Rothgar come from different backgrounds and technically would have been speaking different languages, so I had to blend their two cultures together in a way that flowed with the book.

After I got a feel for what everyday life was like for each of them, I weaved the details into the story. For example, Rothgar’s Norse background intrigues Odaria, and she is curious about their clothes, customs, food, how they travel, etc. Having Rothgar show her how he lives was a good way to introduce readers into the culture.

And of course, if you were living back in 803 with bands of Norsemen and crazy villagers, you could expect some measure of violence. Readers might think that there’s no place for violence in a romance, but I think that type of realism (when kept in check) enhances the story.

In 803, life was completely different from how we live now—especially on a remote island. People got hurt, took sick, and died. The Viking’s Witch features a violent man (Brennan) and a group of Norsemen with violent reputations, so including some violence in the story is necessary to move the plot along—while also helping the reader get deeper into the minds and lives of the characters.

I didn’t cringe when I wrote the “gritty” scenes; I was happy to include them. I like history and it drives me crazy when people in 1500 or 1870 are perfectly clean and neat, have perfect teeth, and look like they stepped out of a beauty salon. In The Viking’s Witch I included enough details to bring the story alive, yet showed how some degree of violence was necessary for Rothgar’s and Odaria’s survival.

I hope you enjoyed this “inside look” at The Viking’s Witch. I’m pleased to say that the book has received several excellent reviews and won a gold IPPY award for best romance ebook!

Here’s a mini-excerpt from The Viking's Witch:

Odaria scanned the cookroom and spotted a large table piled high with food. Brennan must have been planning a feast to celebrate her death. There would be plenty of meat and beer in the underground storage area. Men liked to eat. The Norsemen must be hungry from their long journey. Mayhap she could offer Rothgar a meal and strike a bargain with him.

“Are you hungry?” she asked, cocking her head. “I know where to find food and drink, wood for the fire, clean water, and—”

Hvat ist das plass?

She scowled at him, trying to decipher his words. A few seconds later, she understood. “This is a cookroom. Women in the village prepare meals here. See?” She waved at the iron pots, wooden pitchers, and other cookery items stacked on the shelves around the room. “They make food.”

Rothgar rolled his eyes. “Ja. Vat ist dat?” He pointed to the door behind her.

“The gathering hall. The men conduct business here. There is a room upstairs for sleeping. The larder, the food and drink, is below,” she said slowly, hoping he’d understand.

He nodded and inched closer to her. She tried to move away, but she had nowhere to go. Her back was pressed against the door.

Rothgar grinned and cupped her chin in his wide hand. Her heart fluttered. What was he doing? She stared into his eyes as he bowed his head. His rough beard grazed her cheek as his lips lightly brushed against hers.

Her entire body tingled, and the room spun and seemed to grow dim. As everything faded, she had a clear vision of wrapping her arms around Rothgar’s neck and eagerly pulling him close for a kiss. Dizzy, she pitched forward.

Rothgar caught her and clutched her to his chest. “Shh,” he soothed, running his hand through her loose hair. “I will not harm you, Odaria.”

She relaxed against his broad chest, letting him support her weight. His touch was calming, and she felt safe here, leaning against Rothgar as she would rest against a thick tree. She inhaled deep. Rothgar didn’t stink of rancid sweat like the other men. He smelled clean and salty, like the sea. The scent comforted her. She could almost fall asleep where she stood.

Rothgar curled his arms around her ribs. She didn’t protest. In spite of everything, he hadn’t harmed her and he had saved her from that horrible Norseman in the red tunic.

After a few moments, her dizzy spell passed, and she gazed at him. “You are not like the others. You are different, Rothgar.”

He smiled. “Ja, in some ways. But fear not, Odaria. I will not share you with the others. I wish to have you all to myself.” Rothgar chuckled and winked at her. “Now, show me this food.”

“Aye.” She had no choice but to obey Rothgar’s wishes—for now. 

Order The Viking’s Witch here:


About the Author:
Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 19 romance novels, and 5 non-fiction books. Her romances span many genres and heat levels.
Her paranormal-comedy, Beauty & the Bigfoot, was published in September 2017.
Kelli released Trust with Hearts, a contemporary romance, in July 2017. Her third gay romance, Four Days with Jack, was released in June 2017. Kelli’s trilogy of erotic romance novellas, Midsummer Night’s Delights, Midwinter Night’s Delights, and Ultimate Night’s Delights was published in spring 2017.
Loving a Wild Stranger was published in January 2017. This historical/pioneer romance is set in the wilds of the Michigan Territory and blends tender romance with adventure.
Kelli's third Medallion Press romance, Lies, Love & Redemption was released in September 2016. This spicy historical western is set on the Nebraska prairie in 1877.

Her writing book, You Can Write—Really! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Fiction is a fun and informative guide filled with writing exercises and helpful tips all authors can use.

Kelli posts on her Facebook Author Page and Twitter. She also writes a weekly Blog
Visit her Website to learn more about all of her writings, read book excerpts, reviews, and more. Readers can sign up for her newsletter HERE.

Catch Up with Kelli:


01 January, 2018

#SpecialFeature :: Introducing Capri Jalota, #Author of Then the Doorbell Rang

Under "Special Feature" every month I feature a Special Author. 
During this month I put up 5 posts about the Author/Book, including Interview / Review / Excerpt / Guest Post / Author Bio / Fun Facts or whatever else we can come up with. Also on the first day of the month we will  launch the Giveaway contest along with the first post and will announce the winner on the last day of the month.
So be sure to check out my blog every 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th of every month for something new :)

*** Special Feature - January 2018 ***


About the Author:
In July 2016, when Capri's career was at an all-time high, he quit his job and decided to pursue one of his under-40 goals and that was to pen a novel. His first novel - "Then the doorbell rang", which is in fiction genre, has been published by Leadstart Publishing. His book has been released on Amazon and has received great responses. 
Capri's philosophy in life is simple - Plan your life rather than follow a plan. Whilst this might sound contradictory, if you re-read the statement you would be able to understand the subtle difference. Planning is a continuous process whilst a plan is a static one. At different points in one's life, one must be able to revisit his life and re-sync it with life's changed priorities and circumstances.
And to be successful, it is very important to be passionate about what you do. "Passion is elixir for the soul" is something he truly believes in. This coupled with the right mentoring leads to an assured success.
Capri is keen to share his perspectives with the world through his writings and talks. 

Goodreads * Amazon


Fun Facts:
The plot of his novel came in Dubai when a friend randomly pointed at a balcony and said "That is the balcony from which the lady jumped" - referring to an incident which had happened few days back
Demonetization made this book a reality: Capri had left his job with a view of becoming an entrepreneur. He wrote part-time initially as he had been working on this plot for more than 2 years. But with demonetization happening within few months of his leaving the job, he decided to shift his focus to full-time writing and that's how this book became a reality
Capri is an avid coin collector and has over 1200 coins in his collection from over 100 countries
Capri loves to take up new challenges and explore new cities and cultures: During his professional career spanning 12 years, Capri has worked with three organizations, stayed in 7 different cities across three countries
Capri loves snakes - he wishes to own a snake farm one day. In fact, one of his goals before he turns 50 is get trained as a professional snake catcher
Capri was never into writing - he was so bad at writing that once his boss made him write an email repeatedly as he didn't find it good enough - it wasn't accepted even after 10 drafts. It hurt Capri so bad deep within that he almost made his life goal to be good at writing


About the Book:

One fine morning, Jane wakes up and stands upon the ledge of her 18th floor flat in Dubai Marina. Till a few years back, she was everything that would make anyone jealous – beautiful, rich and successful. But then the wheels of time turned. Today, she is miserable and lonely. Would she get over a deception? Can she forgive herself for deserting a friend? Would she ever find true love? Will karma get the better of her or will life give her another chance to correct the wrongs? 

Then the Doorbell Rang is about Jane’s roller-coaster journey as she explores the mystical phenomenon called Life.


Goodreads * Amazon




Giveaway:
2 Paperback Copies of Then the Doorbell Rang by Capri Jalota for Indian Residents

31 December, 2017

#Interview with Rajeev Saxena, #Author of Pinto Has An Idea

About the Book:
Rajeev Saxena did his Bachelor of Technology from IIT Kanpur in 1994. He currently lives in Dallas, USA. His career in information technology with a large international company has provided him with opportunities to visit a multitude of cultures and countries.
Saxena's early days were spent in a small town in the Aligarh District of Uttar Pradesh, after which he moved between several villages, big towns, and districts in India, all of which he called home. His travels reinforced his growing belief that many people everywhere struggle daily to meet basic needs that others take for granted. 
He eventually found his way to the metropolises in India, and then around the world with several IT companies. Places such as Barbados in in the Caribbean, Johannesburg in South Africa, Mexico City in Mexico and Nassau in Bahamas reminded him the most of the country he grew up in. 
From the days of living on farms in his grandparents' village, he has been in touch with his roots throughout his life. Charity and voluntary work is also his passion. He loves providing free entertainment to his kids by singing old Hindi songs on karaoke. His wife loves that too, not because she particularly likes his voice, but because it makes their children laugh.


An Interview with an Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
When I was 8, my father gave me a translation assignment. It was part of our English coursework to translate simple Hindi sentences to English. One day, I was bored of translating sentences, so I created a story out of those unrelated sentences. My father was extremely impressed and bragged about it to his friends, that singular move served as an encouragement and lead to me writing a few more stories which circulated within our family friends circle but nothing more. You know there was no Facebook back then so my writing journey pretty much ended. Writing became a thing of the past for me. When I turned 12, I saw a couple of letters to editors in a newspaper and those letters spark a feeling, a motivation to pick up my pen one more time and publish in the newspaper. That marked the beginning of what I hoped would be a long and eventful chapter in my life but I had to pause for a while again due to school and competitive exams then began writing when I was in college though not seriously. And that fire lead to this book though it took a while but am glad am finally where I am today.

What inspires you to write?
Speaking to people is one thing I love to do. I want people to know my ideas, thought and stories. I would say my biggest inspiration comes from my readers. it gives me great pleasure that so many people are going to care about what I’ve written. The only problem I find with this medium is that it’s mostly a one way communication. Social media is helping a little where an author gets a chance to interact with its readers.
Another inspiration comes from the ability to give life and shape to my imaginations as there’s no limit to creativity, the sky is the limit when it comes to creativity.
Someone once asked an actor what job satisfaction he gets by acting in movies. His reply was awesome he said it doesn’t come from the fanfare or the stardom…His answer was that he gets a chance to live all kind of lives in his one lifetime. One day he is a teacher, the next day a businessman or a musician or a truck driver. Which other profession could give you that feeling.
To some extent the same is true with writing. You can give shape to your characters. You can make them think the way you like or sometimes people would like. Overall you have full control over your thought processes and imaginations which is a big motivation for writing.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
I’m an excellent observer and a keen critique. Sometimes it’s really bad when I’m critical towards my boss or my wife. But most times it gives me food for thought. While reading and interacting with people across the globe, especially the Indian community around the world, I found that there is a flood of books by Indian authors about Engineering or Medical colleges, then there’s the love story, some sensation and thrill. There is nothing wrong in it. In fact I also enjoy these books sometimes. 
But as an author, I wanted to do something different.  Have you observed that now a days Bollywood has taken inspiration from the western world which lead to the creation of movies such as Toilet..Ek Prem Katha etc. Though not exactly the same thing but I wanted to create entertainment as well as give positive message to the society. Dr. Sandeep Pandey has given me a very encouraging endorsement, ‘Looks like the author is going to be a trendsetter...’ and frankly speaking that’s been my idea… to create a new trend, a new genre in Indian fiction. My readers and fans alone can say if I’m successful or not. 
It’s a story about a scientist who tries to solve our day to day problems using technology. He has been an innovative person from childhood but has been discouraged to become a scientist. Later on when given a chance how he brings positive changes to the society, is interesting. And while doing so, his family life is impacted, which is highly emotional and sometimes humorous. The book also highlights the struggle of a divorced lady Lavanya who eventually becomes Pinto’s wife and tries her best to bring balance in his family life with her celebrity husband. For more on this plot just pick a copy.

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
As I said I didn’t write much. Other than the stories I wrote as an eight year old, everything whether it was a letter to the editor or a small article, was published. At the same time, I kept noting down my thoughts. There are some ideas and thought I forgot to pen down and later regretted my action. I can write several books based on those thoughts. So please wait and watch. I’m pretty confident that with my readers’ blessings, I’ll continue to make them thrilled with my new books. 

Tell us about your writing process.
It’s very simple and not much different from any other author. As this is my first book I faced some challenges and even had to dump a six months’ long work as I didn’t like it. I prepared my thoughts, ideas and events. After that I built the plot and took my time in doing so before I began writing. It took almost one year to complete, not being a fulltime author, I wrote mostly during weekends. After that it took another year to keep on improving the manuscript. Now I am well versed with the process so I can write a book much quicker. I feel it depends on the topic. Sometimes you’d just think about the plot first and then bring ideas and events into it. There is no ideal way. It’s just the way you are comfortable with. See that’s the thing I like about writing. You have full control over it. 

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
It’s very difficult to talk about just one scene. There is a funny one about ragging. My team has dramatized it in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQr6YmlloT4  Please keep in mind that I personally do not support ragging in colleges. It’s in the book to show the reality.
For so many years, our politicians have fooled the poor so badly that they are not able to understand the difference between what’s good or bad for them. Pinto innovates several things for the poor and he does a lot of social work for them. But when a small time politician manipulates the community of maid servants, they turned against him. That showed the cruel fact about our society today where the dirty politicians can manipulate his biggest supporters “the maid servants” to turn against him protesting in front of his house. I’ll just let you read the book to find more about the scene. 

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
As a first time author, it’s a natural thing that a little bit of you is mixed into your characters. I’ve used some of the places and locations which were part of my life but I’ve tried to fictionalize all the characters almost 100%. I believe I’ve been extremely successful in that. As I mentioned earlier that I am a good observer. The only part I can think of is with Pinto’s personality though Pinto is an extremely intelligent person and I’m not.
So in a nutshell, the book is a complete work of fiction.

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
If a thought comes to my mind, I’ll stop my car at the nearest parking lot, note down on my phone and then use it later for my book. There are other ways e.g. you can record your thought while driving and then use software to convert into text. Though I love technology in general, in this case I just like to follow the traditional approach. The only difference is that instead of pen and paper I use my mobile phone.

Do you read? Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I used to read till 12th standard but due to time constraints my reading of fictions kind of went down. I mostly read newspapers… at least 5/6 newspapers every day, not thoroughly but I cannot survive without at least going through the headlines.
My two favorite authors are Premchand and Shakespeare…primarily because of the fact that they were part of my coursework. Though I’m not a versed reader, I can say with a great confidence that Premchand’s ability to create the plot and then describing the reality is the best in the world. It definitely has influenced my writing.
In the last five years, I’ve read Chetan Bhagat and Danielle Steel as well though a little.
When you sing a song, the best thing is to use your own style rather than copying someone. I’m a firm believer of that. So my style is very unique. You’d realize it in my book. 

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
When I was frustrated with the process of finding a publisher for my book, one of my best friends told me not to give up. He worked hard to create a report for me and proved to me why it is important to publish your book through a reputed publisher and what I’d lose if I go for self-publishing. I’m so thankful to that friend. 
Again there’s nothing wrong in self-publishing. It could be a matter of personal choice as well but in my case his advice was to the point and worked really well.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
I think I’m not there yet as giving advice requires experience and I believe am still a work in progress. Though I’m getting really excellent response for my book keeping in mind that it was released just a week ago, I’ve yet to see the real success. All I can say is no matter what you write, spend a lot of time in creating a good plot. Sometimes you’d feel that you are not getting any tangible results by doing so but that’s not right. Treat that as the heart of your book. The body does not have any meaning without the heart. 

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
Wow! Such a thrilling and exciting question. I think Amitabh Bachchan, Amir Khan, Sridevi and Deepika Padukone. And of course comic character such as Rajpal Yadav would be absolutely necessary. It’d really be a dream coming true.

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
I’m not that adventurous so I think that’ll never happen to me. Still if you have a magic wand and you put me in that situation, I’d like to carry things which I need for my survival in modern days. The first one is internet and phone so I’ll carry a satellite phone to be in touch with the rest of the world and especially with my readers. The second one would be a laptop. Who knows what kind of thoughts come to your mind in that situation and you want to write them immediately. Ultimately I am going to use them for my next book. And the last but not the least a family picture as that’ll give me moral support. Now one would ask what about food and water. Well! You just said it’s a famous island. Don’t you think that help will be on my way if I call my folks over the satellite phone or just post it on social media?

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
I’m generally a boring person. Most of the time I’d be found reading newspapers on the internet or singing old Bollywood songs on my karaoke system for my kids. As far as places go, I’ve two on my list, going to my hometown Orai to meet my childhood friends. Secondly,  I love going to Paris and hanging out around the Eiffel Tower area and various markets there.

Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
I am afraid of heights but want to do sky diving once. I know it’s not going to happen very soon. I also want to go on a road trip around the entire world. I think it’ll never happen. Also would love to do some long term work in slum areas in India, maybe I’ll get a chance to do it after retirement.

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
- I have passion for charity work. With the help of a few friends, I ran a charity organization in India.
- My first stage performance was in my college fresher’s night to sing a duet song. Before that I never performed on a stage.
- I love cooking, maybe I’ll create a video about that one day.

What do you have in store next for your readers?
It’ll be too early to announce anything. All I can say is I’ve already started working on my next book. It’s going to be very different than Pinto Has An Idea. In future, I’m going to write a sequel of Pinto Has An Idea as well.

About the Book:
Young Pinto has from his childhood been an out-of-the box thinker, finding solutions in his everyday surroundings to a myriad ancient global problems. A certain machine he invents in his childhood makes him a hero in his village but it's not sufficient to change the mindset of naysayers for Pinto to pursue his career in hardcore science.
Pinto has an Idea is the tale of Dr Pinto, a small-town boy, an IITian and a scientist working in MIT, who suddenly experiences a life-changing revelation in the early days of his research, throwing away his work on theoretical physics and setting out to solve the practical everyday problems of the world he lives in.
Returning to his native India, he finds his noble quest beset by unexpected adversaries, obstacles and trials, but emerges triumphant from each battle.
Pinto does not like to appear a romantic person, and keeps women at bay. But when Lavanya returns to haunt his life, and eventually shoe-horns him into marriage, he obligingly falls in love. Because Lavanya is not just a pretty face, she's his partner in research. And Pinto, a newbie in romance, discovers a whole new craze. 
But life takes directions never aimed for. Pinto is on the road to becoming rich and famous. He invents a mechanism to eradicate corruption in the land, and in that process moves towards politics. That impinges on the couple's relationship so severely that Lavanya disappears suddenly without telling Pinto. Why does she leave their child with Pinto? Will he lose his greatest 'idea', Lavanya, and thereby, himself? Sure, Pinto's ideas bring dramatic changes to society. But how much romance can a scientist handle as well?




Praise for the book

A strong plot with full of emotions, love, pragmatism and very important humor. The author has touched a genre which doesn't exist in the traditional publishing in India. It's a must read... shouldn't miss it.
– Boney Kapoor, Indian Movie Director & Producer

The moment I got the book, I could not resist finishing it in one go. You'll always be curious to know what Pinto is going to do next. I hope the author writes a series of it. Best of luck for your book.
– Sridevi, Film Actress & Producer

Looks like the author is going to be a trendsetter. It’s first time when I see a romantic fiction raising social issues in a highly entertaining and interesting fashion.
–Sandeep Pandey, Social Activist and Magsaysay Award Winner

Superb story.  It brings you back to college days and soon takes you to your professional journey. The humor is really awesome.
– Manu Agarwal, CEO Naaptol



30 December, 2017

2018 Reading Challenge Announcement: First-Reads!



Welcome to a 2018 Reading Challenge: First-Reads!

Do you remember the feeling when you read the first book by your favourite author? Yes well, its for that feeling that I have come up with this challenge. Also, there was a time when I would only stick to the books written by authors I had previously read and enjoyed. But soon I realised that I was missing out on a lot other books. So, readers & bloggers, come together to this challenge that will make you pick up books by authors that you haven't read before! You never know, you just might find another author to love and follow.

Points to Know:
1. Read & Review as many books as possible, by authors that YOU haven't read before. 
2. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. However, you have to post a review on some site in order to participate. It can be on Goodreads and/or Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble and/or Smashwords.
3. If you are a blogger link up your permalink to the review posts. If you aren't a blogger, then link up the permalink to your reviews from whichever site you have chosen to post the review on.
4. The books can overlap with other reading challenges.  
5. Books read may be any form (audio, print, e-book).
6. Post your links to your reviews each month to share with other participants.
7. The challenge runs from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018. Its never too late to Join In!

How To Sign-Up and Join In:

1. Choose a challenge level listed below.
2. Create a post on your blog, in a group, or on a forum (where possible) to let others see what you’re aiming for (a predefined list of Authors/Books is optional).
3. Grab the badge and place it in your sign up post. Then link back towww.ddsreviews.in.
4. Grab the direct URL to your sign up post, not your blog, click the Linky List and enter your link.
5. Once you review a book it would be great for you to share them by submitting them on the Review List.
7. When you’re done it’s completion post time and you can share these on the completion/wrap-up List.

Challenge Level:
Amateur : Choose to read 1 - 25 New Authors
Lover     : Choose to read 26 - 50 New Authors
Expert    : Choose to read 51 - 75 New Authors
Fanatic   : Choose to read 76 or above New Authors

When talking about this challenge on Twitter, please use the hastag (#FirstReads2018). It makes it much easier to keep track of the conversations, answer questions and/or tweet back!


Sign Up Here:



Link Up YOUR Reviews Here:

Please Link up with Author Name, your name and your review number. For instance I will Link up my first Book Review for this Reading Challenge as : (AuthorName) @ Debdatta #1