17 January, 2020

#GuestPost :: Set New Writing Goals for the New Year By Author Kelli A. Wilkins





Happy New Year!


It’s January and everyone is talking about making changes and setting goals for themselves. And why not? We have brand-new calendars hanging on our walls that are filled with unexplored days yet to come.

But do you find yourself gazing at your new calendar and wondering, “How is it 2020? Where did last year - or decade - go? I had all those plans…”

If so, don’t stress out. Not everyone accomplishes every goal they set for themselves. Take some time to look back at what you achieved last year and start thinking about this year. Evaluating your writing goals and setting reasonable action steps now will help you get on target for 2020.

Keep in mind that everyone’s writing career and writing goals are different. Think about what you want for you. Do you want to finish the novel you started last year (or haven’t started yet)? Send out a dozen short stories? Enter a contest?

If you write magazine articles, are there any major publications you’re targeting? Start brainstorming ideas now, make a list of places to send queries, and check out potential markets for their latest submission guidelines. (It’s also time to be thinking 3 to 6 months ahead and plan those spring and summer articles.)

Is the writing part going fine, but you need to develop (or enhance) your online profile and/or marketing? Are your blog, website, and author page(s) up-to-date? Should they get a refresh (or a major overhaul) for the new year?

Make a list of all you want to accomplish in the next few weeks and months. Having a list of projects and priorities will help keep your writing objectives on track.

If you’re determined to write a new book, make a timeline for research, character development, plotting, etc. Give yourself a deadline for when you want to start writing and stick to it. Decide how many pages or chapters you want to finish each day/week/month. Little by little, your book will take shape, and you’ll be amazed at your progress.

No matter what your writing goals are, a little pre-planning will help you focus and allow you to flow from one writing project to another. Preparation also keeps you motivated and fends off writer’s block, because you always have “the next thing” to work on.

If you want to learn more about the writing process, why not check out my online writing class? Fiction Writing for Beginners is designed for anyone who is interested in writing and needs practical advice on how to get started, PLUS motivation and encouragement to keep writing.

Thirteen easy-to-follow classes cover the writing process from start to finish. You’ll learn where writers get ideas, how to create characters, get expert tips on writing your story, and find out how to submit it for publication. Everything you need to know to start writing is wrapped up in this comprehensive and fun course.

If you’ve always wanted to write, Fiction Writing for Beginners gives you all the tools you need. Visit the course page and enroll here.


Not interested in an online course? On a budget? How about an ebook? Check out my non-fiction writing guide, You Can Write—Really! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Fiction. It’s only $2.99.

The book is designed for writers who need a boost of motivation and simple instructions on how to get started. Each chapter targets a specific aspect of writing and includes tips and fun exercises.

If you’re ready to write, order your copy here:


Enjoy the New Year!
Kelli A. Wilkins

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 19 romance novels, 6 non-fiction books, and 2 online writing courses. Her romances span many genres and heat levels, and she’s also been known to scare readers with her horror stories.

In November 2019, she released Romance Every Weekend: 104 Fun Ways to Express Your Love, a non-fiction guide to romance. The book features 104 fun and easy ways you can express your love to that special someone in your life. Perfect for men or women, it focuses on tender, everyday gestures that let your partner know how much you love him or her.

Kelli published Extraterrestrial Encounters, a collection of 18 sci-fi stories, in August 2019. If you like horror fiction, don’t miss her disturbing novella, Nightmare in the North.

Her historical romance, The Viking’s Witch, was released in June 2019. This full-length novel takes place in Celtic Scotland and blends a sensual romance with paranormal elements. 

In March 2019, Kelli published Dangerous Indenture, a historical mystery romance set in Colonial Pennsylvania. She released the second half of her flash fiction series, Cupid’s Schemes, in early 2019. These two volumes of lighthearted mini-romances are perfect reads for a quick lunchtime escape or an after-work indulgence.

Kelli released a Teachable mini-course, Fiction Basics: Finding Ideas in February 2019. She also authored Fiction Writing for Beginners through Teachable. These courses are perfect for anyone who wants to learn how to write. Visit: https://kelliwilkins.teachable.com/ for more details.

Visit her website/blog www.KelliWilkins.com to learn more about all of her writings.



16 January, 2020

#Spotlight :: The Last Starling C.L. Denault - @XpressoTours


The Last Starling
C.L. Denault

Publication date: December 24th 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, Young Adult
“They’re coming.”
Words of warning haunt Jayce Wakefield’s dreams. He doesn’t believe them any more than he believes in the blue-eyed raven delivering the message. It’s totally absurd. They’re just dreams. He has nothing to worry about.
Or does he?
Jayce’s life revolves around three things: being a senior, worshipping a girl he can’t have, and killing vampires. As a werewolf, his job is to protect the Starling woods. That means taking out any bloodsucker who dares to cross the Boundary. And since his autistic brother can’t handle wolfing out, it’s up to Jayce to keep pack territory safe.
But between the dream-raven, humans going missing, and vampires acting weird, he’s losing his grip on reality. Add to that a runaway in his territory, and he welcomes the distraction. The fact that she won’t talk about herself makes him obsessed with learning about her past. The deeper he digs, though, the more she withdraws. It’s not until her life is threatened that he discovers the truth. Who she is. Why she’s there.
And the sinister darkness headed for them both.


EXCERPT:

The shed door creaks as Dad swings it open. Heaving Jordy inside, I lay him on the dirt floor and peel off his covers. Heat rises from his body as I strip him down. I check his pulse—steady—and roll him onto his stomach, turning his face to one side. Balling up his sheets and clothing, I race outside and hand them to Mom.

She takes them in numb silence. The shed door closes with a bang, but she doesn’t flinch. She just turns and walks back to the house, Pip at her heels. My heart aches for her. She shouldn’t have to do this. Her life shouldn’t include leaving her disabled son naked in the dirt, alone, with a Shift coming and nothing to ease his pain.

“Jayce. It’s time.”

The strain in my dad’s voice knocks me back to reality. He’s kneeling beside the shed, fully undressed, his back arched. He groans, and I know what I have to do.

My heart pounds.

I shed the last of my clothing, then drop to my hands and knees. The wild thump of my heart initiates the process. Blood races through my body, activating the gene that jump-starts my transformation. Every inch of my skin tingles, itches, thickens.

Burns.

Fine brown hair sprouts from my body. Claws force their way through my fingers and toes. My ears throb with pain as they widen, then extend into points. The cartilage in my nose bellows out. Elongates. Makes it hard to breathe. I open my mouth and suck in a lungful of cool air.

The exterior is done.

Now for the hellish part.

My back arches. I cry out as the bones in my spine crack. They start at the top of my neck and work their way down, breaking. Reforming. My tailbone fills out. It lengthens, piercing my skin, and I yelp. Dig my hands and knees into the grass.

Groan. Sweat profusely.

Muscles knot and twist. My body hitches as each bone in my ribcage expands, creating a chest cavity with room for bigger, stronger lungs. Arm bones break. Then the ones in my legs. They reshape, curving into limbs that can run like the wind. My hands and feet lengthen, my heels push up. Snout extends.

Almost there.

The morphing of my internal organs is excruciating. Liver, lungs, stomach, eyes—they go from human to canine in seconds. In those seconds, I can’t move or breathe. Time stops. The world blurs.
My existence reduces to one blinding pinpoint of pain.

I come out of it with a snort. Shake out my body, look around. The yard is different, ripe with colors I didn’t see before and smells that weren’t as strong. My ears twitch as they pick up the sound of an approaching vehicle. Dad is already loping for the house. I test my muscles, find them strong, and follow him.

We stop at the porch. Gramps is there, waiting on the truck that careens to a halt in the driveway. Two husky males—my uncle and cousin—jump out and race for us. They shuck their clothes.
Drop to the ground.

As they Shift, my wolf-eyes scan the trees for Boo. He’s always around for the hunt, and we understand each other better when I’m like this. Spying him in the tree line, I chuff softly at him. He hoots back a reply. He’s ready.

So are we.

Gramps projects a wolf-thought to bring us close. He sniffs the air, and we do the same. The smell of the Trespasser is still there. Dark and menacing. Something lurks in the Starling, a territory long forbidden to those who drink blood to survive. My pack growls in unison. For us, this is more than just a threat.

It’s an insult.

Tipping back his head, Gramps draws a deep breath. He expels it in one long, drawn-out howl. A howl that pierces the night, uniting us as a pack and sending a message to our enemy. We know youre out there, it says. Youre not welcome here.

Dad sprints for the woods. We follow in pack hierarchy—my uncle, then me, my cousin last. Our minds link, connecting mentally to each other and Gramps.

As we break through the tree line, our Alpha howls again. One last time. A message to the creature roaming our hallowed ground.

Were coming for you.



Author Bio:
C.L. Denault is a speculative fiction writer who loves dreaming up tales of adventure and intrigue. A former systems analyst, she gave up her nerdy code-writing skills to care for her family (including a son with special needs) and currently lives among the vast stretches of cornfields in Illinois.
Writing and working out are her biggest passions, along with coffee and sci-fi. When she’s not hanging out with her husband and kids, she can usually be found at a library or tucked away in the shadowy corner of a hip coffeehouse. She’s also been glimpsed sneaking into her garage, late at night, to work on her time machine.
She enjoys connecting with people—especially those from other planets, nearby dimensions, and the future. To find her, just visit her website or social media pages. Or use a Stargate. Whichever is easiest.


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15 January, 2020

#SpecialFeature :: #GuestPost - Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing by @shenoy_sharmi


*** Special Feature - January 2020 ***


About Sharmishtha Shenoy

Sharmishtha Shenoy is the author of the Vikram Rana Mystery series. The books under the series are “Vikram Rana Investigates,” “A Season for Dying,” “Behind the Scenes” and “Fatal Fallout”. She has also published a book of short stories, “Quirky Tales.”
Her short stories have been published in efiction magazine and Woman’s era. She loves writing murder mysteries, the kind of books that she likes to read. Her favorite authors are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. She also likes the work of Satyajit Ray – especially the Feluda Series. 
Before starting to write, she had been an IT professional and had worked in TCS, Satyam, Infosys, and Microsoft. 
She is a big foodie and enjoys Biriyani (both Hyderabadi and Awadhi versions) and rasgullas like most Bengalis. She is also a lusty singer of the bathroom singing variety.
Though she is happily married to Mr. Shenoy in real life, in her fantasy world she is wedded to her creation Vikram Rana.  You can get to her blog by typing the word “Sharmishtha Rana” into Google. No, seriously, try it.
She was born in Calcutta. She is an M Tech from the University of Reading, Great Britain and had received a 100% British Government Scholarship to study there. She lives in Hyderabad.


Pros and cons of self-publishing


Amazon has changed the world of online selling experience. You could sell a hard copy of your book or publish in kindle. Kindle format is the best which will give you amazing statistics on how many people read the book, how many pages they completed every day. These features make self-publishing more compelling. Let me give some more pointers:

Pros of self-publishing:
1. Your book gets published.
2. You are your boss.
3. You write a book and upload it in Amazon and you are done
4. You print the hard copy, make it available in Amazon/Flipkart and you are done
5. You don’t submit to publishers and let your manuscript languish for six months before being rejected.

Cons :
1. Getting distributors for self-published books is next to impossible.
2. So you can sell through Amazon, Flipkart, etc. That is an online presence only.
3. Once you finish writing, you have to don the hat of a salesman and promote your book relentlessly.
4. If you print your copies, you might not get a good reliable printer, and since you will get limited copies printed, your printing cost would be high, and so you will have to sell at a higher price.
5. If you are a rookie author, various online scammers will prey on you. Example fake editors, fake reviewers, etc. 


About Fatal Fallout:

Check out the Book
When love is an obsession, rejection is fatal...
Beautiful model and aspiring actress Gauri is found dead on the highway from a gunshot wound. The jewelry she had been wearing and other valuables are missing. Is it a case of a robbery gone wrong? Or is it premeditated murder?
Gauri’s friends and family hold her boyfriend Akash responsible for the death. Gauri had recently broken up with him because of his abusive behavior. Did the fallout of the breakup turn fatal for her? Did Akash decide that if he couldn’t have her, nobody else would either?
Moreover, why did the film director Madhav hire detective Vikram Rana to investigate her death? Is it because he loved her, or because he wanted to point the needle of suspicion away from himself?
Adding to the puzzle, is the corrupt police inspector Phani Kuma sabotaging the case for his devious motives?
The media, meanwhile, is sensationalizing the case, and pressure is mounting on ACP Gopi Reddy to resolve the case at the earliest.
Ace detective Vikram Rana swings into action to untangle a complex web of abuse, lies, and murder to get to the truth.

Giveaway:

Win an Amazon Gift Card worth 125/-
A Paperback Copy of Fatal Fallout by Sharmishtha Shenoy


a Rafflecopter giveaway



13 January, 2020

Up Close & Personal with #Author Anand Neelakantan - @JaipurLitFest


Up Close & Personal is a series of interviews with Speakers at Jaipur Literature Festival 2020. As a preview to the big event, here are a few quick sets of warm up interviews. The main show begins on 23 Jan and runs till 27 Jan, 2020. I hope you're ready!


Anand Neelakantan is an author, columnist, screenwriter, television personality and motivational speaker. He has authored five novels in English and one in Malayalam. His debut work Asura, The Tale of the Vanquished, is based on the Indian epics of Ramayana. His next book series was Ajaya: Roll of the Dice and Ajaya: Rise of Kali based on the Mahabharata. Neelakantan has also signed a three-book series deal with the producers of the blockbuster film Baahubali. The series is a prequel to the film with Netflix already acquiring the rights.

Up Close & Personal with Anand Neelakantan



What is the one question you are tired of answering?
How did you become a writer?

What is the one question you secretly wish people would ask you?
How much hard work is writing, publishing and getting into best seller book is and how talent has very less to do with it.

Tell us your favourite literary quote.
When the writer is ready, the story appears

Recommend just ONE book.
Mahabharata

Do you think that Literary Festivals help encourage the love for reading and help lure more readers into the fold?
Not all literature fests do that. The carefully prepared ones do.

What are you looking forward to the most at JLF 2020?
To interact with the enthusiastic young reading crowd that is the specialty of Jaipur Literature Festival.

If you could invite any author (living or dead) to be on a panel with you for the fest, who would you choose and why?
Veda Vyasa. There is no one like him in the history of literature and there is no book like Mahabharata

What can we expect from you 2020?
The second book of Baahubali series, a horror thriller and a non -fiction book called Asura


Check out the Books:

Check out the Book

Check out the Book

Check out the Book



12 January, 2020

#RTWrites :: How Nora Roberts Taught Me To Write Romance - @RT_writes




Recently, I met a dear author friend who lives in Bangalore for the first time ever. This happens often with us writers. We make friends easily with those who behave like us, i.e. live and breathe books and stories, but these friends are far-flung and distant as often as they live in our neighborhood. Social media is responsible for bringing us all close and I, for one, am super grateful for it.

As is often the case when two people who ‘know’ each other but ‘meet’ each other for the first time, we talked about everything and nothing at all. And, one of the things we talked about…okay, I gushed about, was the wonder of Nora Roberts: undisputed queen of romance in all its wonderful and messy glory.

Dear reader, if you don’t know who Nora Roberts is – there is a handy guidebook on Amazon that will introduce you to her books’ reading order so you never miss out on a single one. Yes, someone actually wrote a book on the number of books Nora has written – which, BTW, is upwards of 250 with more than 100 New York Times bestsellers. She. Is. That prolific.

While these figures are breathtaking and awe-inspiring, they are not the reason why I admire the undisputed queen of romance. The reason is far simpler.

Nora taught me how to weave a story.


Ask ten writers how they see the whole process of writing a first draft, and you’ll guaranteed get ten different answers.

This is mine. For me, a draft is telling a story – a story has a beginning, middle and end. It has peaks and valleys. It has shocking moments. It has tender moments. It has ugly fights and sweet, sweet love. It ends on a hopeful note.

It has, in short, everything that a story told by our grandmamas would. It is comforting, familiar and yet and new and different every single time.

It is woven from feelings, emotions, people, places, things, information condensed into a 60,000-word thing called a story that will, if done the way I intend to do it, will move a reader in some way.
When I first read Nora Roberts’ The Calhoun Sisters as a raw fifteen-year-old, it was the first *first* time I got that sense from a book. I’d been reading comics – Chacha Chaudhary, Tinkle, Champak, Archies, Tintin – and fiction - Blyton, Drew, Hardy, Sheldon, Steel, Rand, Francis, Jordan, Rowling, Tolkien and more – for about ten years by then but…with Nora, it felt comforting, familiar and yet, new and different.

The Calhoun Sisters and most of her work till the late nineties (she started writing in 1986, the year I was born), is genre romance.

Genre romance is specific – it has rules and a formula.

It has clichés, the first of them being AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER. It must always have a lead couple because, hello, romance, and the happily ever after will always come after said couple has gone through the lowest of lows – leaving each other because the issue they are facing is seemingly insurmountable.

Genre romance has steamy, sticky, sexy times depending on which sub-genre you dive into.



But Nora’s romances moved me. Because, Nora’s genre romances were about whole people – not people who were fully emotionally and physically, sexually stable – but whole people. These people had flaws, they worked at jobs that they sometimes liked, sometimes didn’t, they ran businesses, they were friends, siblings, family, parents, often single parents.

They didn’t exist only in relation to each other – which is another unbreakable tenet of genre romance. The story has to focus only on the lead couple.

For instance, in Nora’s first-ever romance Irish Thoroughbred, the heroine a sweet, feisty, god-fearing, Irish lass is a horse trainer in the hero’s stud farm. And she is brilliant at her job. She makes no apologies for it.

In another romance, Untamed, the heroine is a lion tamer (this was the eighties, circuses with performing animals were the norm). She actually controls rescue lions trained by her in a circus that eventually comes to be owned by the lawyer hero.

In one of my most favorite books ever, Rising Tides (Book 2 Chesapeake Trilogy), the hero is a simple lobster fisherman who fosters a prickly ten-year-old boy with his two brothers. And he is content being so. In yet another book, The Villa, the hero is a wintner who literally doesn’t make contact with the heroine till about twenty percent into the story. Admittedly, The Villa is more women’s fiction than genre romance so the first meet could be put off till twenty percent of the story was uncovered but…the fact remains.

These stories were woven from feelings, emotions, people, places, things, and information.



Each of these couples were fully realized people, before they ever came in contact with each other. So, when they met each other they grew. That growth was luscious at times and uncomfortable at others. That makes the story real …it makes it achievable in real life.

This is the most important lesson I learned from Nora Roberts – undisputed queen of messy and glorious romance.

A love story, aka genre romance or sub-genres and variations thereof, could be about more than the lead couple. It should be about more than AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER. It should be about individual growth. It should include who they are when they aren’t with each other and it should include the ugly, broken things too.

When the world of Mills and Boon, which invented and archetyped genre romance, has always been looked at with contempt by the rest of the literary world, Nora Roberts wrote 250 (and counting) ways of telling a love story that was achievable in real life…messily and gloriously so.

It’s what I hope to do every time I sit down to write.

Till next time,
Xx

Writer Gal

11 January, 2020

#CoverReveal :: Seeking Love (Misty Spring #1) by @Author_Devika


From the author of romance novel series like Romancing the Royals, Inn Love, and Romance round the World, comes a new series full of emotions and unforgettable characters. The MISTY SPRINGS novellas will whisk the reader away to a fictional small town in America where hearts are broken and broken hearts are mended.

SEEKING LOVE is the first book in the series. And here’s an exclusive first look at its cover!



Blurb:

A small town girl with a tragic past - an English billionaire with a secret - an old ranch that brings them together

When a handsome and infuriating stranger from England finds his way to the small American town Misty Springs and turns everyone’s lives upside down, Abigail is forced to question everything she’s ever believed in. Despite her reluctance, Thomas wiggles his way into her heart. Sparks fly, and nothing will ever be the same again. But just when she may have found true happiness, a secret threatens to destroy everything.

This sweet small-town romance novella of approximately 33,000 words is Book 1 of the Misty Springs series. Each of the books can be read as a stand-alone with a happy ending, although there are some recurring characters.


Pre-Order on Amazon



About the Author:

Almost as soon as Devika Fernando could write, she imagined stories and poems. After finishing her education in Germany and returning to her roots in Sri Lanka, she got a chance to turn her passion into her profession. Having lived in Germany and in Sri Lanka with her husband has made her experience the best (and the worst) of two totally different worlds - something that influences her writing. Her trademark is writing sweet and sensual, deeply emotional romance stories where the characters actually fall in love instead of merely falling in lust.

What she loves most about being an author is the chance to create new worlds and send her protagonists on a journey full of ups and downs that will leave them changed. She draws inspiration from everyone and everything in life. Besides being a romance novel author, Devika is a faithful servant to all the cats and dogs she has adopted. When she's not writing, she's reading or thinking about writing.

#Interview with Sam Riversag, #Author of For a Selfie with Benedict



About the Author:
Born in Versailles, Sam Riversag discovered her passion for literature at an early age when she would lock herself away for several hours reading, like her father who was a great admirer of Proust. She began writing at the age of
eight, her first compositions being about the absence of a mother and the pain of separation and at thirteen she wrote a series of short stories dealing with the theme of friendship between a small boy and a dog. During her student years she turned her hand to poetry and produced an anthology without the intention of publication, writing at that moment being for her a mere distraction, an adjunct to her other artistic pursuits of music and painting.

After completing a degree in law, she launched herself into her legal career before being once more tempted by the urge to write. Having traveled widely, the experiences she has lived in various countries have further animated her to share her memories in print. Another major influence is the world of cinema where she was impacted by Hollywood with its charismatic characters, its counterbalancing between right and wrong and its stories of the impossible love. After returning from a tour of the Amazon, she completed a novel which featured as its main character a sensitive and somewhat romantic cop tasked with solving a complex mystery in order to save his son. But even before publishing, she attended a convention on the British t.v. series “Sherlock” with Benedict Cumberbatch and in next to no time a new work criticizing the addictive nature of social media is produced immediately following the first. The book was published discreetly on line and has since gained enormous success thanks to word of mouth and has forced the author to reschedule her literary projects due to the fact that readers demanded a sequel just when the crime thriller was due for publication. The empathy the public felt for the two main characters was constantly reflected in their comments. Thus the Mary and Lola series was born; original, funny and highly addictive, critics are now speaking in terms of a new style of writing.

Interview with Sam Riversag



When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
I discovered my passion for literature at an early age when I would lock myself away for several hours reading, like my father who was a great admirer of Marcel Proust. When I was little and during my teens, I used to write short stories. Then I got into poetry. Now, I write humorous novels!

What inspires you to write?
For my novel “For a selfie with Benedict”, Theatre has been a great inspiration; the pace of the action, the reversal of situations, the dialogue, the flamboyance of the characters, the actors speaking directly to the audience from the stage…”Waiting for Godot” by Samuel Becket was the inspiration for Mary and Lola’s utopian quest. Godot isn’t coming. The ideal man neither. P.G. Wodehouse’s
Jeeves and Wooster combo was a great influence as well: the upper-crust toff, Bertie, always getting himself into a jam and having to rely on Jeeves, the butler, to save the day. I owe a lot to movies for the sentimental angle, the more emotional passages of the story. I borrowed the idea of the impossible romance from the musical “La La Land”, which I try to convey in my own way, funny and offbeat.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
It came by quite by accident really. Being a fan of the Sherlock series, I attended a convention and obviously the person who everyone wanted to see was Benedict Cumberbatch, the star of the series. When I saw a girl leaping up and down and hugging her mother round the neck, her cheeks blushing with joy and crying “Thanks, mum!” while waving a selfie of herself and Benedict as though it were an immense fortune, the thought of basing a novel on that situation sprang to mind and I wanted the main character to resemble her.

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
The short stories and the Poetry I wrote when I was younger.

Tell us about your writing process.
The characters are my priority. When I’ve got them, everything is following. Indeed, I use real actors I like much and I imagine a story for them.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
It is the Ouija board séance with Lola, and more particularly, when she doesn’t hit it off with Winston Churchill. I’m not really sure how that occurred to me. But it was a real stroke of luck because it enabled me to develop the theme in a more comic way and I was rather pleased with that. As for Churchill, that was quite spontaneous, probably because I have a deep admiration for him. It’s thanks to him France is a free nation today and that the Allies won the war. Why does Lola give him grief? Well, because she’s Spanish. She’s not from the same culture and can’t understand his insistence. Times have changed. The clash between the two realities creates the comic effect.

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Like Mary, I am a fan of Benedict Cumberbatch, because he’s a very talented and charismatic performer both on stage and screen, a child of the theatre. He portrays the arrogant yet charismatic genius capable of a devastating and sexually appealing logic. There’s such a suave, haunting air about him, a disturbing intensity in his gaze and then that deep baritone voice! He’s seductive in a sort of
weird but intellectual way that drives you wild. (It isn’t just me who says that.)
He’s got millions of fans all over the world, myself included.

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
Keeping a notebook on the bedside table in order to jot down ideas that suddenly arrive in the middle of the night.

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style? 
Shakespeare has influenced me, the actors speaking directly to the audience from the stage, (that’s why Mary speaks directly to the readers), in addition there is a connection with the story (about the Hamlet performed by Benedict Cumberbatch). P.G.Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster combo was a great influence as well, so Lola, proposes various solutions, each one as barmy as the other! Throughout the course of their frenetic and comically zany relationship, Mary and Lola forge a wonderful closeness marked by affection, shared dreams and determination. Helen Fielding influenced me as well, at the end of the day, Mary and Lola are quite typical of their generation…
They’re fighters who don’t take life lying down. They want both professional and personal fulfillment. They’re looking for the love of their lives, the real article.
They’re a couple of romantics dreaming about a Prince Charming and it’s for that reason their fantasies turn towards Benedict Cumberbatch, because he personifies the type of guy they’re desperately in search of. They want it all: an interesting career, a caring, attentive lover and to be able to start a family.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
Be yourself.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Write with passion.

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
Emma Watson performing Mary, and of course Benedict Cumberbatch!

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry? 
My piano, photography of my family, and “In Search of Lost Time “ a novel by Marcel Proust.

How do you spend your free time? 
Travelling and playing piano, going to thetheatre, the cinema, visiting art galleries, discovering new scenery.

Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
Saint Petersbourg, Monument Valley, Norway, Sri-Lanka.

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
1- I have caught myself talking alone. Maybe I was asking myself a question, looking for a solution for a problem that worried me or was just “observing” a mental note not to forget a pending task. But I surprised myself speaking alone more than once, so I wondered if I were going crazy!
Unfortunately, in the popular imagination there is still the idea that speaking alone is a sign of impending madness, but the truth is that it is not! Albert Einstein, for example, spoke often alone. It is said that he often repeated his words softly. So I don’t worry anymore!
2- Like my heroine Lola, I like fortelling the future, divinatory practices like horoscopes, astrology, crystal gazing, tarot cards, and the Ouija board.
3- I speak English with a strong accent, because my teacher is from Liverpool.

What do you have in store next for your readers?
A novel featuring as its main character a sensitive and somewhat romantic cop tasked with solving a complex mystery in order to save his son. Passion and Betrayal. It is going to be published.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
I would like to speak about one theme of my novel: The ideal other-bit of a pipe dream:
That depends on the person. The ideal is subjective. It’s a perspective which is specific to the individual. It exists in our dreams and sometimes the dream can be realized-the dream holiday, the perfect love, the great job, and the dream home…
Others set their sights too high to be achieved and end up believing in fairy tales.
Personally I think lack of satisfaction is just part of human nature which is necessary to motivate us to go beyond our limitations, to forge ahead, discover new horizons and in the end appreciate what level of contentment we’ve been able to attain. Love appears in many guises. The ideal form may be a fantasy but love itself isn’t. It exists. The ideal is what stimulates our dreams. That’s its purpose. It’s rather sad to think that some people don’t dream. Human beings have a need for fulfillment, to wish for things. It‘s the driving force of life. Love, sharing one’s life with someone. Perhaps it’s quite simply a question of staying together.
To what degree should you forgive? What are the limits?
The question of forgiveness is most important in our lives because we are often faced with a situation where we must decide to grant or refuse it. You find yourself in that situation with family, with friends, with lovers…
And where should you draw the line?
Again that depends on each individual and their degree of tolerance. It depends also on the circumstances. An action seen as unforgivable by one person may not be so for someone else. We all have our limits. Thankfully! It’s difficult to know what the right response should be in each and every situation. Sometimes you regret the decisions you’ve made. There are some very well-known examples of people remaining deeply in love despite their partners being unfaithful.

About the Book:
Check out the Book
I am Sam, a french author, I wrote a novel For a selfie with Benedict, which tells the friendship of two fans of Benedict Cumberbatch (the star of Sherlock), who struggle to achieve their dreams and find trust, love and happiness in London.

My heroine, Mary, is passionate, she’s juggling work and family. She has a best friend, Lola, whose strength and optimism combined is something so precious, and a boyfriend, Simon, too confident of himself…

Indeed, they are fictional characters representing real people. So the book has touched the hearts of most, because it tells the story of Mary, her hopes, her dreams, her struggles, her mistakes.
Finally she’s a representation of a lot of person in the world out there she can be hardheaded sometimes!
She has everything to be happy about: She is a writer in an English tabloid and her boyfriend is the ideal man, until she discovers that he is cheating on her. Then she takes things in hand...
I’m so thrilled that readers enjoyed a lot Mary and Lola, were kept entertained…
To have so many readers connect with the book is the best thing a writer could hope for.
Thanks to Benedict Cumberbatch, the superstar of the TV show Sherlock!
It couldn’t have happened without him, he inspired me.


10 January, 2020

Up Close & Personal with #Author Kunal Basu - @JaipurLitFest


Up Close & Personal is a series of interviews with Speakers at Jaipur Literature Festival 2020. As a preview to the big event, here are a few quick sets of warm up interviews. The main show begins on 23 Jan and runs till 27 Jan, 2020. I hope you're ready!



Kunal Basu is the author of several critically acclaimed novels, including The Miniaturist and Kalkatta, and a collection of stories titled The Japanese Wife, the lead story of which was made into an award-winning film. He has also written novels in Bengali.

Up Close & Personal with Kunal Basu



What is the one question you are tired of answering?
How do you balance your life as an author and a professor?

What is the one question you secretly wish people would ask you?
How do you manage to create completely different worlds for each one of your novels?

Tell us your favourite literary quote
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ... it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness ..." from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Recommend just ONE book
"Waiting for the Barbarians," by John Coetzee

Do you think that Literary Festivals help encourage the love for reading and help lure more readers into the fold?
Absolutely. They create an X-factor for literature.

What are you looking forward to the most at JLF 2020?
Meeting a reader who'll surprise me with a question about my writing that I don't have an answer for.

If you could invite any author (living or dead) to be on a panel with you for the fest, who would you choose and why?
Gabriel Garcia Marquez

What can we expect from you 2020?
Four books and (hopefully) a film or two


Check out the books:
Check out the Book

Check out the Book

Check out the Book

Check out the Book

Check out the Book



08 January, 2020

#SpecialFeature :: #GuestPost - My Writing Process by @shenoy_sharmi


*** Special Feature - January 2020 ***


About Sharmishtha Shenoy

Sharmishtha Shenoy is the author of the Vikram Rana Mystery series. The books under the series are “Vikram Rana Investigates,” “A Season for Dying,” “Behind the Scenes” and “Fatal Fallout”. She has also published a book of short stories, “Quirky Tales.”
Her short stories have been published in efiction magazine and Woman’s era. She loves writing murder mysteries, the kind of books that she likes to read. Her favorite authors are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. She also likes the work of Satyajit Ray – especially the Feluda Series. 
Before starting to write, she had been an IT professional and had worked in TCS, Satyam, Infosys, and Microsoft. 
She is a big foodie and enjoys Biriyani (both Hyderabadi and Awadhi versions) and rasgullas like most Bengalis. She is also a lusty singer of the bathroom singing variety.
Though she is happily married to Mr. Shenoy in real life, in her fantasy world she is wedded to her creation Vikram Rana.  You can get to her blog by typing the word “Sharmishtha Rana” into Google. No, seriously, try it.
She was born in Calcutta. She is an M Tech from the University of Reading, Great Britain and had received a 100% British Government Scholarship to study there. She lives in Hyderabad.


My Writing Process

First and foremost – it is all about the plot. Which character will get murdered, how the murder happens and any scientific approach followed by real-life court cases. Once that skeleton approach is in place, you build the characters. In thrillers – you may keep a couple of different climaxes and evaluate. When you write your draft – keep the free flow of thinking, there could be a lot of repetitive sentences or grammatical mistakes. You edit all of those only when you are done with the book. Once you are done with the draft, discuss with the editor and initiate the editing process. This may take a couple of iterations. Then get this edited version to beta readers. You will get the best feedback. Few changes if any you may incorporate and get reviewed by your editor. You are now set. Next is to get the cover page design. There is a saying, don’t judge the book by cover page. However, the cover page gets the reader’s attention.  They will look at the cover page and then look at the back page to see the excerpts. Book cover pages are important. The book is now ready to be published. 

About Fatal Fallout:

Check out the Book
When love is an obsession, rejection is fatal...
Beautiful model and aspiring actress Gauri is found dead on the highway from a gunshot wound. The jewelry she had been wearing and other valuables are missing. Is it a case of a robbery gone wrong? Or is it premeditated murder?
Gauri’s friends and family hold her boyfriend Akash responsible for the death. Gauri had recently broken up with him because of his abusive behavior. Did the fallout of the breakup turn fatal for her? Did Akash decide that if he couldn’t have her, nobody else would either?
Moreover, why did the film director Madhav hire detective Vikram Rana to investigate her death? Is it because he loved her, or because he wanted to point the needle of suspicion away from himself?
Adding to the puzzle, is the corrupt police inspector Phani Kuma sabotaging the case for his devious motives?
The media, meanwhile, is sensationalizing the case, and pressure is mounting on ACP Gopi Reddy to resolve the case at the earliest.
Ace detective Vikram Rana swings into action to untangle a complex web of abuse, lies, and murder to get to the truth.

Giveaway:

Win an Amazon Gift Card worth 125/-
A Paperback Copy of Fatal Fallout by Sharmishtha Shenoy


a Rafflecopter giveaway



07 January, 2020

#Spotlight & #Giveaway :: Saved by Love by @shilpaauthor





About the Book:
They meet under impossible circumstances.

She is kidnapped by terrorists blackmailing her father, a Supreme Court Judge. He leads the team sent to rescue her.

Trekking to safety through Ladakh... They are in danger of falling in love. But, Lt. Col. Arjun Rathod knows that Naina Ahuja, engaged to politics' rising star, is not meant for him.

Forever changed by her trauma, Naina walks out of her controlling family and forges a new life.

And then, she meets Arjun again. But this time, he is engaged to someone else.

Can they save their love or is it too late?

Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon * Pustakmandi


Read an Excerpt:

“Miss Ahuja? Naina?”

The almost soundless whisper had Naina’s eyes snapping open in the dark. A hard hand came up to cover her mouth even as a terrified squeak left her lips. A pair of dark, intense eyes in a face streaked with camouflage paint floated into her vision. “I’m here to rescue you. Your father sent me. I need you to stay completely silent when I remove my hand. Can you nod if you understand?”

Keeping her eyes on his strong, reassuring ones, Naina nodded quickly. The stranger waited to make sure she wouldn’t scream, and slowly lifted his hand from her mouth. Slipping a knife out from seemingly nowhere, he cut the rope binding both her hands and feet within seconds and levered her up from her prone position. Helping her to her feet, he watched intently to see if she was steady on her feet. Reassured that she wasn’t going to faint at his feet, Arjun moved quickly to the door and looked out. The guards were still unconscious from the light taps to the back of their heads administered by his teammates, and so far there was no sign of any other movement in the camp. Coming back into the room, he put his lips close to her ear to whisper, “Can you walk?”

Nodding mutely, Naina craned her neck to get a glimpse of his face from this angle. The stranger was so tall that he towered over her by almost a foot. Dressed all in black, with a mini arsenal strapped on to him, he looked like he’d arrived straight from hell. Apparently, the devil was her hero tonight.


About the Author:


Shilpa Suraj wears many hats - corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.

An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.




Contact the Author:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Giveaway:
2 Winners. Signed Paperback copy of Saved by Love & Bookmarks. Open to Indian Residents only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

05 January, 2020

#Spotlight :: Unusual Equations by @Anupriya_Guptaa


Read on Kindle Unlimited


About the Book:
Viraj is struggling to concentrate at work because he has a wife to worry about. But he is more apprehensive because he knows that she is currently parked at the apartment of his arch nemesis.

Madhuri fought with her husband last night and in her rage left the house. She knows there is one place in the world where she is always welcome. She only hopes that she is not crossing any lines.

Aman has for long given up hope. Yet he can’t help but get a kick out of the circumstances that have brought her to his place. Is this is chance finally to bring her back to him?

Lives of three people entwined by love, passion, urge and devotion. Will they survive these unusual equations? Or will it destroy their happiness forever?




Buy from Amazon

Read an Excerpt:

Despite his vanishing act, it was Aman who came to Madhuri’s rescue when she most needed it. He stood by her in the darkest hours of her life and provided the much-needed support when she decided to go against her family and marry Viraj.
In the months that followed her marriage to Viraj, Madhuri missed Aman a lot. He had gone back to remaining elusive from her life. When Aman called up almost six months later, she almost jumped to the roof with joy.
“Wow! So finally Saint Aman Sehgal is getting hitched too.”
Madhuri missed his wedding. Everyone among his relatives and family friends knew her. Moreover, her family would be there too and she couldn’t possibly add to the disgrace that she had already caused everyone. Madhuri saw the wedding pictures on Sreeja’s social media profile. As much as she wished to, she couldn’t dodge the jealousy she felt when she saw another woman standing on the dais with Aman. For days she fought with the distress before deciding to shift her focus back on her marriage.
But strangely, despite her jealousy, she was devastated when she heard that Sreeja had left Aman.
Actually, Madhuri and Sreeja had never warmed up to each other. While Madhuri continued to talk to Aman once in a while, she once tried to figure things out with Aman but was assured that Sreeja was just taking her time settling down.
“At the risk of sounding archaic, I must advise you to keep your distance from Aman and Sreeja. Not all spouses will be too accepting of their partner’s friendship with somebody from the opposite gender. Especially the kind shared by two of you.” Viraj cautioned her once.
The connotation of jealousy in his tone startled Madhuri for a second, but she dismissed his concern as absurd.
In the meantime, a couple of months after Sreeja left Aman shifted to Mumbai for work. Like a devout friend, Madhuri tried to play cupid and set him up for dates with her work friends and other interested ladies from his dating profile, which was created by her only. Even today, Madhuri winced at the memory of her Friday coffee outing with Aman a day after exactly second such blind date.
“What happened, you look quite spent? I guess yesterday’s date has done you some good,” she teased him. They were walking down the Nariman Point promenade.
Aman ran a restless hand to smoothen his hair and pinned her down with his blazing eyes.
“Let me get this straight, Mads, you are not to set me up for any dates from now on.”
“But…”
“If you do it, I promise you that I will never ever meet you again.”
That sent her heart diving down to her guts. But she was still not sure why Aman was upset. “I am sorry.”  She felt like a slouch. “Aman, I understand that you are hurting. But you need to heal the scars from the past. A new bond and you too will be as good as new.” Aman fisted his hands and raised it to hammer it into something, but controlled himself. Madhuri was terrified of his raging eyes while his mouth twisted awkwardly.
“Listen to me, Mads. Don’t mess with my life. Just make sure to not set me up for any of these silly dates in the future.”
Madhuri was taken aback by the maniac picture that Aman painted in that moment. She recovered quickly and made a long face, her eyes digging the floor for non-existent gold.
“Hey, Mads, I am sorry. It’s just that… I get extremely awkward at such dates. It’s not meant for me yaar.”
She nodded in partial understanding.
“I said I am sorry. I will not do it.”

She raised her hands in the air in a gesture making peace and then hugged him. She categorically waited for him to hug her back, but he stood there like a statue. She immediately felt deprived of his warmth and affection. If Madhuri were to make a confession - IT HURT.

About the Author:
Anupriya belongs to that generation of Idiots (the proud ones though), who did their engineering first and then decided on what they actually wanted to do. She completed her MBA in Human Resources and worked in the corporate world for 8 years, before taking a professional break. A mom by day and a reader/writer by night, Anupriya is a die-hard romantic. Yet she believes that love (in any relationship) is a part of life, not, the heart of life. And she aims to bring to the world, stories around this theme. She can be found in the dot com world at her blog www.mommytincture.com, which contains her ranting about her experiences in her various roles as a mother, daughter, wife and foremost a human being, all churned together. It is also her outlet to the world where she doles out loads of gyaan on self-improvement and relationship management.

Anupriya on the Web:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest



01 January, 2020

#SpecialFeature :: Introducing @shenoy_sharmi, #Author of Vikram Rana Series


*** Special Feature - January 2020 ***


About Sharmishtha Shenoy

Sharmishtha Shenoy is the author of the Vikram Rana Mystery series. The books under the series are “Vikram Rana Investigates,” “A Season for Dying,” “Behind the Scenes” and “Fatal Fallout”. She has also published a book of short stories, “Quirky Tales.”
Her short stories have been published in efiction magazine and Woman’s era. She loves writing murder mysteries, the kind of books that she likes to read. Her favorite authors are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. She also likes the work of Satyajit Ray – especially the Feluda Series. 
Before starting to write, she had been an IT professional and had worked in TCS, Satyam, Infosys, and Microsoft. 
She is a big foodie and enjoys Biriyani (both Hyderabadi and Awadhi versions) and rasgullas like most Bengalis. She is also a lusty singer of the bathroom singing variety.
Though she is happily married to Mr. Shenoy in real life, in her fantasy world she is wedded to her creation Vikram Rana.  You can get to her blog by typing the word “Sharmishtha Rana” into Google. No, seriously, try it.
She was born in Calcutta. She is an M Tech from the University of Reading, Great Britain and had received a 100% British Government Scholarship to study there. She lives in Hyderabad.


About my next book:

My fifth book is titled “The Haunting of the Chowdhury Mansion”. It’s a suspense thriller set in a subarb of Kolkata. It’s being published by Vishwakarma Publictions. I would also like to thank The Book Bakers, headed by Mr. Suhail Mathur for helping to get this book published.

The Haunting of the Chowdhury Mansion Blurb:

Orphaned in her childhood, Durga has always longed for wealth, security and, above all, a sense of belonging. She finds it all when she marries Debnarayan Chowdhury, heir to an immense, multi-crore estate. 
But the Chowdhury family has been under a curse that dates back to the British era.  The first-born of each generation dies young, purportedly killed by the spirit of Kadambari, a young woman murdered by the notorious Shankar Dakat, the founder of the Chowdhury family and their Zamindari. 
When her father-in-law Birendranath dies unexpectedly, Durga and Debnarayan come down to the ancestral home in Kakdihi, a small village near Kolkata. The moment Durga enters her new palatial home, she crosses a threshold of terror. She loses her husband within a month of her marriage and finds herself a widow in a houseful of strangers. Are Debnarayan’s and Birendranath’s deaths accidental? And is she, the current owner of the estate, now on the murderer’s radar? 
Everybody in her new family and the neighborhood appears to be friendly. Yet, most of them have a motive to kill her. A well-meaning neighbor tells her, ‘Run from this place. You have no friends here.’  An eerie web of evil tightens around her, and she is slowly and inexorably led towards her own destruction as she, along with her friend Nagendranath, wades through a labyrinth of greed, treachery, and hypocrisy to come face-to-face with the killer.

The cover of the book would be released shortly.

About Fatal Fallout:

Check out the Book
When love is an obsession, rejection is fatal...
Beautiful model and aspiring actress Gauri is found dead on the highway from a gunshot wound. The jewelry she had been wearing and other valuables are missing. Is it a case of a robbery gone wrong? Or is it premeditated murder?
Gauri’s friends and family hold her boyfriend Akash responsible for the death. Gauri had recently broken up with him because of his abusive behavior. Did the fallout of the breakup turn fatal for her? Did Akash decide that if he couldn’t have her, nobody else would either?
Moreover, why did the film director Madhav hire detective Vikram Rana to investigate her death? Is it because he loved her, or because he wanted to point the needle of suspicion away from himself?
Adding to the puzzle, is the corrupt police inspector Phani Kuma sabotaging the case for his devious motives?
The media, meanwhile, is sensationalizing the case, and pressure is mounting on ACP Gopi Reddy to resolve the case at the earliest.
Ace detective Vikram Rana swings into action to untangle a complex web of abuse, lies, and murder to get to the truth.

Giveaway:

Win an Amazon Gift Card worth 125/-
A Paperback Copy of Fatal Fallout by Sharmishtha Shenoy


a Rafflecopter giveaway