31 August, 2014

#SpecialFeature :: Introducing #Author Vikrant Khanna

Under "Special Feature" every month I feature a Special Author. 
During this month I put up 4/5 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 :)


Now Presenting:
*** SPECIAL FEATURE - September 2014 ***

A sailor by profession and a writer by passion, Vikrant has penned two novels before this. He lives in Delhi with his family.


So you think your love can last forever…? Get married!

Eighteen year old Ronit falls madly in love with Aisha the moment he meets her at his graduation day from a naval college. He believes he has found his perfect soul mate, and come what may, his love for her will last forever.
Seven years later, he gets married to her. Big mistake!
A week later he completely hates her and believes she has turned into a devil. 
But his perception about love and life change when he hears the poignant love story of Shekhar, his Captain, on a ship that later gets hijacked by the pirates of Somalia. 
As they are left fighting for their lives they confront if love truly can last forever…? But does it get too late?


Giveaway
2 Paperback Copies of Love Lasts Forever by Vikrant Khanna for Indian Residents Only





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30 August, 2014

#GuestPost :: How well do YOU know God? - Asks Scott Pinsker

Two men claim to be the Second Coming of Christ. Each claims the other is Satan in disguise. But only one is telling the truth. 

In The Second Coming: A Love Story, the devilish new novel by Scott Pinsker, the culture war between Red America and Blue America turns shockingly real when two self-declared saviors appear on earth. The first “messiah” attracts legions of liberal and secular-progressive followers with his message of New Age brotherhood, quickly becoming the darling of the left. The second “messiah” preaches fire-and-brimstone traditional Christianity, gaining a grassroots army of conservative worshippers ready to battle to the death. 

It’s finally happened: Red America and Blue America are headed for Armageddon! 



Courting controversy of Biblical proportions, The Second Coming: A Love Story is the groundbreaking “thought-experiment” by Scott Pinsker that dares to ask: How well do YOU know God?

And how well do you know evil?


Two men claim to be the Second Coming of Christ.  Each claims the other is Satan in disguise.  But only one is telling the truth, and the reader isn’t explicitly told who’s who.

The United States soon splits along ideological lines, with Red America swearing allegiance to the conservative “savior” and Blue America (naturally) worshiping at the altar of the other.  A furious Culture War-turned-Holy War erupts, with both sides waging a win-at-all-costs marketing campaign to prove their savior’s supremacy.

It’s finally happened: Red America and Blue America are headed for Armageddon!

Adding to the intrigue, the key characters are modernized updates of beloved Bible characters.  For example, Mary Magdalene is recast as Margaret Magdala, Esquire – an unscrupulous attorney who sells her legal services to the highest bidder, until a self-declared savior rescues her from a lifetime of sin.

But was she really saved by God? Or damned to Hell?

Scott Pinsker is a Tampa-based publicist who has analyzed marketing trends and political brand-building strategies for FOXNews.com, Jewish World Review and the Washington Times.  As the author describes it:

“According to Christian theology, the Devil is thousands of years old and deviously brilliant.  I remember wondering one night, if such a creature didn’t want you to know who he was… how would you know?  How could you out-think a creature that’s not only smarter than you, but also thousands of years more experienced and capable of supernatural powers?  We get fooled by ordinary people every day – and most of the time, they’re not particularly clever!  So what prayer would we realistically have to outwit the Prince of Darkness?

Then I had a further thought: If the Devil really wanted to con mankind, he wouldn’t appear with a pitchfork and horns.  All those horror movies have it wrong; that’s too obvious.  Instead, his best option would be to appear as a holy man – and to attach himself to the faith of his target audience.  Because if I were Satan’s publicist, that’s what I’d recommend.

But what if we raised the stakes even further, and now there were TWO self-declared saviors – one who preached to Red America, the other to Blue America?  And what if the key characters were all modern day updates of the major characters from the Bible?  What would happen then?

Well, you’re about to find out!

For the last 15 years, I’ve tirelessly researched the subject matter, studying ancient texts and combing through the delicate intricacies of Christian eschatology.  The end-result is The Second Coming: A Love Story.  You needn’t be a theologist to fall in love with this story, although it certainly won’t hurt: I’ve woven-in countless clues and subtle references to the identity of the true Second Coming – and to the identity of Satan – throughout.  No matter your faith, no matter your background, this book will challenge you to reconsider the very nature of existence.  And that’s the God-honest truth.”

Divinely provocative and wickedly intelligent, The Second Coming: A Love Story will keep you guessing who-is-who until the very end…

…and possibly even after that.

28 August, 2014

#SpecialFeature :: An #Interview with Author Shubha Vilas

Now Presenting:
*** SPECIAL FEATURE - August 2014 ***


The Posts this month:

1st August : Introducing Author Shubha Vilas
8th August : An Excerpt from Rise of the Sun Prince
15th August : Guest Post on Sonic Archery
22nd August : Guest Post on Lord Rama’s Love Marriage



Shubha Vilas author of the book “Ramayana - The Game of Life” published by Jaico, holds a Bachelors of Engineering degree in Electronics and Telecommunications. He has also completed L.L.B (Specializing in Intellectual Property Law).
Shubha Vilas began his career with the Tata Group and later joined the international law firm in Bangalore which he quit to serve the society at large by taking charge of a publishing house Tulsi Books which has published over 10 books under his leadership.
Shubha Vilas now counsels and guides students in the area of leadership, overcoming failures, managing stress from various colleges like IISC, Bangalore, BITS Pilani, Goa, Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Sydnem College, etc.
His leadership seminars are popular with top-level management in corporate houses. He addresses their crucial needs through thought- provoking seminars on themes such as ‘Secrets of Lasting Relationships’, ‘Soul Curry to Stop Worry’ and ‘Work–Life Balance’ to name a few.
Shubha Vilas has also been assisting business leaders as their lifestyle coach, conducting regular classes on Spirituality and Management to help them live a wholesome life.
He also helps individuals apply the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayana and other dharmic traditions in dealing with modern- day life situations.
This book is the fruit of his deep study and understanding of lessons of Ramayan as it applies to life today.

Contact the Author

What inspires you to write?
Inspiration triggers inspiration. Inspiration comes when I see people inspired by reading what I write. 

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
Ideas are not self generated, or under my control…if they were then couldn't we come up with ideas when we want to? I pray and ideas come! 

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
My favorite scene in the book is when Vishwamitra Muni is looking at the face of the sleeping Rama and is wonderstruck with emotions. I like this scene a lot because it is a scene that brings out the softer side of the otherwise hardened austere sage. 
Every person has a soft side to him which he hesitates to express. Until someone comes into their lives who makes them aware that exhibition of their softer side is their strength and not weakness. 

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
I have been told that the quotes which appear as footnotes stand out in the writing. So I guess that is it. 

What is your usual writing routine?
I write during my travels in trains and flights and in waiting areas. Basically my writing happens when I cannot do anything else.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
Write whatever you feel like writing, don’t let the editor in your mind edit any idea before it comes to paper. 

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Look at me and develop self-confidence. If I can write anyone can. I had never in my life written even an article. The first thing I wrote in my life is this book.

Please tell us something about 'Shattered Dreams', the in-the-pipeline second volume of the 'Ramayana: The Game of Life'.  
‘Shattered Dreams’ is a book that revolves around countless dreams that were destroyed. Based on the Ayodhya Kanda of the Valmiki Ramayana, ‘Shattered Dreams’ brings forth stories of many characters whose dreams were destroyed by the twist of time factor. But more than that, the book also highlights the myriad reactions of different characters in every situation. 
The helplessness of Dasaratha, the adamancy of Keikeyi, the ambition of Manthara, the anger of Lakshmana, the despair of Kaushalya, the cooperation of Sita, the genuinity of Bharata, the sacrifice of Sumitra and the indifference of Rama point out to some of the colors on the canvas of ‘Shattered Dreams’.


Epics like the Ramayan have been recounted infinite times. Is there a need for another chronicle in the presence of so many? How is this one different? And is it relevant to our ever-changing modern lives? 
Yes there is a need; yes, this is different; and yes it is most relevant! This new series of books, each following one volume of the original Ramayana, decodes the eternal wisdom of that poetic scripture through gripping narrative and thought provoking instruction. In the time-honored custom of spreading wisdom through tales, every fascinating story in the epic is retold here and every character unfolded to captivate your heart and open your mind to life’s deepest questions. 
The narrative closely follows Valmiki’s Ramayana, gently weaving in folk tales as well as the beautiful analogies of the Kamba Ramayana. The first of the six-volume series, Rise of the Sun Prince, takes you through the divine story of Lord Rama from His birth up to His marriage. 
Through these pages are revealed the tales of  Dasaratha’s leadership, Vishwamitra’s quest for power and the intriguing story of a little-known stone maiden. Ramayana – The Game of Life has all this and much more – food for contemporary thought drawn from an enduring masterpiece. 

Book Links:
2 Paperback Copies of Rise of the Sun Prince is up for grabs for Indian Residents. Enter the Rafflecopter below.



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#BookReview :: The Hidden Letters... by Purba Chakraborty

She is a successful author, a loving wife and the world's best mom. Her doctor husband dotes on her, her teenage daughter idolizes her and her readers yearn for her writing. Shouldn't all that respect and love make her happy? Yet, she is devoid of inner peace. In the wee hours of the night, her slumber is disturbed by horrifying nightmares. All her harmony is abducted and lost amidst the bunch of hidden letters kept in her cupboard. Those letters were written long back by her cousin,presently a patient at a mental asylum in Kolkata. Haunted by her inner demons and tired by the long-time secrecy, she decides to put end to her misery by surrendering to her husband and daughter, The Hidden Letters. . . Will she lose her husbands love and daughters respect? Can she forgive herself for her own selfishness which rendered her cousin's fate malignant? 



The Hidden Letters by Purba Chakraborty takes us on a journey that is Ananya’s life. A successful author whose fans crave for more, a loving wife to her husband and an idol for her young daughter – these are the main flavours of Ananya’s life. She takes on her responsibilities with all seriousness and then fulfills them to her best of abilities. One would take a look at the family and immediately nominate them as the perfect family and nominate Ananya as the complete and perfect woman. But she has a secret – secret of the hidden letters from a cousin who is presently holed up in a mental asylum. This secret keeps her up at nights, gives her nightmares and stops her from having the ‘perfect’ life. The question is, what will she do about it? Keep hidden letters a secret forever or finally confront the secret that the letters represent.

The first thing about this novel that caught my attention was its plot. A simple one yet an unique and less explored one. The plot and the narration compliments each other in a way that keeps the readers guessing the kind of ending that the plot would eventually offer. Even in quite a straightforward scenario, the author keeps certain cards in her hands that could and does change things. I really liked the way the author has handled the plot.

Next comes the characters and there are a handful of them. They are all believable and relatable. The author has given each character a role to play that is essential to the plot and each of them have some distinct quirks. Ananya, the protagonist, stands out among all of them though. She is a reflection of modern woman who is good at taking up responsibilities and then multi tasking - a woman with a successful career and a happy family life. She is also quite courageous as she stands up for what is right even when that could probably bring her whole life and her carefully constructive world down.

Finally the author delivers the exact amount of emotions through her words. She has finesse in her language that touches the reader’s heart. It would have been easy to over deal the amount of emotions in this novel but the author has managed to find the right balance. 

Also, I am not a person who puts much stock by a book’s cover. But I will admit that this cover attracted me immensely. The emotions that the book delivers is promised in the drawing of the woman on the cover with her many hues.



27 August, 2014

#GuestPost :: Historical Romances with a Modern Twist By Romance #Author Kelli A. Wilkins

Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 90 short stories, 18 romance novels (for Medallion Press and Amber Quill Press), and 4 non-fiction books. Her romances span many genres and heat levels. Kelli had two historical romances published in spring 2014: Wilderness Bride from Amber Quill Press and Dangerous Indenture from Medallion Press. Her third gay romance, A Secret Match, will be released on August 31. Get a sneak peek here.

Kelli publishes a blog filled with excerpts, interviews, writing prompts, and whatever else pops into her head. She also writes a monthly newsletter, Kelli's Quill, and posts on Facebook and Twitter. Kelli invites readers to visit her website, to learn more about all of her writings.

Catch up with Kelli on the Web:

Historical Romances with a Modern Twist
By Romance Author Kelli A. Wilkins


Hi everyone,

Take a minute and consider these romance plots:

A father is desperate to find a suitable husband for his wild daughter, but she rejects all her suitors and wants the one man she can’t have.

An outcast is persecuted by the people in her small town and relies on a handsome stranger to help her escape.

Disowned by his well-to-do family, a spoiled socialite is forced to find a job and make his own way in the world. He falls in love with a sweet shop girl and suffers heartache as he sees how the “other half” lives.

A young woman leaves everything behind to start a new job far from home. She tries to solve a murder as she falls in love with her employer’s son.

A wealthy husband and wife invite couples to their country home for a weekend of sex games and wanton fun.

Sound like interesting books? Would it surprise you to learn that they are all plots from my historical romances? (In order, they are: A Most Unusual Princess, The Viking’s Witch, The Pauper Prince, Dangerous Indenture, and A Midsummer Night’s Delights.)

Some people think historical romances are boring “old fashioned” stories about royalty, dukes, castles, and historical battles. Not my books! With a few plot and character modifications, any of my historical romances could take place in modern times. Princesses could become spoiled actresses, singers, or reality show stars. Imagine the pampered prince as a high-paid arrogant actor who is destined for a fall from grace.

I bring my historical romances “out of the history books” and into the everyday lives of my characters. I focus on the lives of people and how they meet, fall in love, overcome their obstacles and challenges, and eventually live happily-ever-after. That’s the same process for creating contemporary romances—the only difference is that the historicals take place hundreds of years ago.

I’m not afraid to “break the mold” with my historicals. The settings, plots, and characters I create are far from typical. My female characters are not helpless heroines—if anything, they give the heroes a run for their money! These women aren’t wearing frilly dresses and hosting tea parties while waiting to find the perfect man. In most cases, they’re too busy trying to keep themselves alive or fighting against perceived notions of how a “proper” woman should behave to look for a husband. And if they do find a man they want to be with, they are only willing to accept love on their terms. Michelle from Wilderness Bride and Shauna from Dangerous Indenture are two examples. These strong women have struck out on their own in a man’s world and would be right at home in a contemporary romance novel.

When I sit down to write a historical, I make sure the characters are interesting and lively. I don’t have “stuffy shirts” making long-winded speeches about politics, law, or anything not crucial to the storyline. You won’t find me (or my characters) giving anyone a history lesson! Just because historical romances are set in time periods before cars, the Internet, and cell phones, that doesn’t make them boring. There is plenty of action, adventure, intrigue, danger, comedy, and depending on the heat level, sensual love scenes.

Romances and forbidden love affairs aren’t new. Throughout history, people have loved and lusted after each other, regardless of social, political, or so-called “moral” rules. Hundreds of years ago there were plenty of “sordid” affairs going on behind closed doors. People were having sex, but it wasn’t mentioned openly or discussed in “proper” social circles. 

I thought about this “forbidden” subject and decided to write a romance that addressed that “taboo”. It became the theme in my historical/fantasy trilogy: A Midsummer Night’s Delights, A Midwinter Night’s Delights, and Ultimate Night’s Delights. In these stories, a respectable man in high society is basically running an invitation-only sex club for swingers. (As you can imagine, these novellas gave readers who thought historicals were old fashioned and boring a real shock!)

Every romance genre has its fans. Some people like to read contemporary romances, others live for paranormals, and there are those who switch up genres and read anything that sounds appealing. I like writing historicals—but I also write contemporary, paranormal, fantasy, and gay romances, too. Why? Because I enjoy writing great romances about interesting characters that fall in love, wherever and whenever that may be. 

So, if you’ve always thought historical romances were boring – why not try a few? You might be surprised!

Happy Reading,

Kelli A. Wilkins


  


26 August, 2014

#BookReview :: Relative Evil by Debra Erfert

Inspired by her father and his pretty young wife, novelist Claire Abney allows her imagination to run wild and pens a best-selling thriller. However, as Glen Abney suffers multiple freak accidents, she wonders exactly where the prose stops and reality begins.

Claire screens her family from the prying eyes of success with a masculine pen name and her handsome editor, her shill for photo ops and book signings. But her father’s unexpected death, and bungled attempts on her own life, force her to admit the strategy may have backfired. Now, with the help of her brother and Max, her dreamy frontman, she must separate truth from fiction. Before life imitating art becomes deadly. 




Claire Abney is a romance novelist. Inspired by her father’s new marriage, she decides to write a suspense novel based on Munchausen syndrome. She does her research well and publishes her story under a male pen name to avoid letting her family in on her suspicion and to avoid conflict. She ropes in her editor to help maintain the façade. But all is not well within the family. Her father falls victim to several apparently innocent accidents. Claire then loses her father to death and fiction soon starts to resemble real life too much. Is Claire and the rest of her family safe?

The author gives us a sudden start by throwing in several of Claire’s family in the first incident. Instead of slowly building up each character she introduces us to them and then proceeds to divulge their various shades to us. The best characters have shades of grey while the worst ones have their moments in the light. Claire is a strong and intuitive person, a good protagonist, one that I enjoyed rooting for. However, I would certainly have liked to know more about what made some of the characters tick.

The plot while seems simple at first glance, it too has various shades like the characters in it. I loved how the author fleshed out the motivations and the quirks of each character that made them believable and just perfect fit into the novel at the same time. The narration style may seem a bit abrupt at the beginning but soon gets into a familiar rhythm. Overall, an page turner and entertaining.



Review Copy from:


25 August, 2014

#BookReview :: The Chocolate Garden (Dare River #2) by Ava Miles

Visionary gardener Tammy Hollins is making a new life for herself and her children after a tragic marriage. Plants she understands, but men…well, they’re of the weed variety. She’s started her own landscaping business, catering to her country music rock star brother’s friends. Her first client is sexy, soulful, Alpha hero material, and the one man who tantalizes her and scares her to death.

John Parker McGuiness is a man of many talents, working as a songwriter and lawyer for country music’s biggest stars. He’s drawn to Tammy like no other and hires her as his landscaper, wanting to show her they’re made for each other. When Tammy learns he’s a professed chocoholic, she fashions a magical garden for him—a chocolate garden.

As the garden comes to life, their love for each other grows. When tragedy strikes Tammy’s home, John Parker is willing to move mountains to protect her and her children. Tammy struggles to guard her newfound independence as they use the magic of the chocolate garden to help her children feel safe again. But when secrets from Tammy’s past resurface, can their love and passion survive the memories haunting her?

This is the second book in the Dare River Series, but the first one that I have picked up. The book has references to what must have happened in the first installment, but this book can be read as a standalone too.

Tammy Hollins has a scarred past, but she is trying to overcome it by starting a new life for herself along with her two young children. With her family by her side, Tammy plans to start her own gardening business – with her experience of turning her brother’s garden around behind her, she feels confident. John Parker, Tammy’s brother’s best friend, has always loved Tammy. With Tammy’s past behind her, John Parker is ready to offer her the world. But first, he needs to get close to her… So he becomes her second client. With his love for chocolate, Tammy builds him a chocolate garden, all the while growing closer to each other. When a trespasser breaks into Tammy’s home, John Parker comes to her rescue. But Tammy has secrets from her past that stops her from getting to too close to make new commitments. 

Tammy is a strong woman. Not many women have it in them to walk out of an abusive relationship, especially when children are involved. I admired her for walking out before it was too late and to have the strength to build a new life for herself and her children. John Parker is a strong and patient man who respects the fact that Tammy needs time to recover. As rest of the family rallies around Tammy, the author portrays the importance of family in any situation. The love flowing between the family is really something. However the male ego got on my nerves at times. It is good to be possessive and only normal to want to protect your loved ones, but the men in the story tend to smother the women till the stand up for themselves. Also, the women tear up pretty too easily in the family.

I liked the simple language of the author. I also liked the fact that the author worked on parallel stories of the rest of the family throughout the book. It gave me a feeling of being in loop with the whole horde. Overall, a light and fast read for an idle afternoon.




23 August, 2014

#GuestPost :: How to write a Novel by #Author Vaibhav Anand

The novel is set in the backdrop of a premier Business School campus (FMS, Delhi) in the years 2007 through 2009, when the worst recession of our lifetimes hit the world. It is inspired by a true story.

The story is told through the eyes of Hari Parmeshwar - a simple & romantic person, madly in love with Meenakshi. Hari is an IT engineer with 4 years of work experience, who dreams of being a writer. The story begins with Hari cracking the FMS MBA interview which is supposed to be his ticket to the big leagues. Little does he realize that God has other plans.

At FMS, he meets & befriends Matar- a surd who becomes his best friend, Scooby-a self proclaimed ladies’ man and Bastard- a mysterious genius. Their friendship deepens over drunken parties/ nights on town, copied assignments, Scooby’s everlasting attempts at getting laid, presentations in which they end up making public fools of themselves, run-ins with the law, intra class rivalries & tiffs, society applications, intense pre-exam mugging & summer placements. The story of Hari’s first year moves forward peppered by Hari’s narrative wit and piquant banter between these four friends.

The second year takes a dark turn as recession hits and all high paying jobs become a distant dream. The authors, through Hari, take the reader through a fictional recession MBA journey in an incredibly candid fashion as they delve into the inside story of what happened at top Business schools, when recession hit.

What sets this book apart, besides its zany & spicy characters, is that it is a bare-naked brutally honest look at not only the recent recession, its pains & its pangs and the force with which it hit premier B-Schools but also life/ culture/ scandals at B-schools. The tone of the book is sarcastic & witty, and it ends up making several startling & unknown revelations about several premier B-Schools besides FMS.

In a nutshell, it spares no one.


How to write a novel 

This story begins towards the end of my summer internship at Citi, when completely bored by my miserable & pointless B-School existence, I decided to write a novel. I had already quit the FMS Student Body and knew that I would be having a lot of free time in my hands come second year.

The story began with a Facebook update I had read that had set the novel’s story in my mind. Though I don’t remember it word for word, the Update went something like “I have come here and lost everything… I wish I had never left my job to join XXXX.” (Abridged)

Though this guy didn’t belong to FMS, Delhi and I choose not to reveal his identity, it set off this spark in my head. Here was a story –  the story of the average recession impacted Premier League B-School guy- a story I had seen unfold before my very eyes, in one hue at least, at FMS. So I sat down one day (the first of many spent in my favourite slightly stuffy drawing room –  where most of this book was written later on my Dell laptop) and noted down the broad plot outlines after one marathon session of contemplation.

And then I was off. I started gnawing off at the story one excel row at a time (I started out with 16 chapters with various plot points in an Excel file). Often through impulsive “Flashes of Genius/ Stupidity” I would end up adding more to the plot or usually contorting the plot more than the Chapters Excel had foreseen, creating fresh problems for myself. In the end, though the story is broadly what I had started off with on that long stuffy marathon night, much of it is very very different; several of the characters have turned out very differently than I had started off with. I can only imagine that’s because I have grown with the characters and seen them more closely than anyone ever will.

The story became complicated as my final placements began to approach and the pressure meant that I could not focus on writing anymore. Luckily, with ten days to go to placements, Citi finally gave me a PPO and I could go back to writing again.

Since several months had been wasted due to the placements preparation stupidity, I was way off the timeline for finishing the novel. But I set about writing with a mad zeal, cutting college (already had much more than the required 75% attendance in second year) and socializing. I locked myself up in the stuffy writing room (not literally) and finished the book in three weeks flat.

By the time I was done, I realized that most authors begin with publisher contacts or begin sending synopsis, etc. to publishers when they are anywhere from 20 to 80% done. And here I was – with the novel 100% complete – read, reviewed, attested by some of my close friends and family.

So I began googling, as MBAs are trained to do whenever faced with a problem. Soon, I landed up with email ids of a few publishers. Also, found out that most publishers didn’t have listed phone numbers. There were just that many manuscripts coming in.

After I had gotten hold of the email ids, I sent our synopsis first to two publishers which were first preferences (in order): Srishti and Rupa. Though most of you would perhaps know Rupa better, because of a certain other Citibanker (ex Citibanker) I might add, my research pointed me towards Srishti. And imagine my surprise, when Mr. Bose, the proprietor of Srishti, got back to me within 2 days.

Within 5 days, I had my first (of many) chats with Mr. Bose. He asked me to come meet him. I did. And the rest, as they say, is history.

PS: Rupa got back to me a month later, saying they were “interested” in the book, basis the synopsis.

22 August, 2014

#SpecialFeature :: #GuestPost - Lord Rama’s Love Marriage by Shubha Vilas

Now Presenting:
*** SPECIAL FEATURE - August 2014 ***


Shubha Vilas author of the book “Ramayana - The Game of Life” published by Jaico, holds a Bachelors of Engineering degree in Electronics and Telecommunications. He has also completed L.L.B (Specializing in Intellectual Property Law).
Shubha Vilas began his career with the Tata Group and later joined the international law firm in Bangalore which he quit to serve the society at large by taking charge of a publishing house Tulsi Books which has published over 10 books under his leadership.
Shubha Vilas now counsels and guides students in the area of leadership, overcoming failures, managing stress from various colleges like IISC, Bangalore, BITS Pilani, Goa, Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Sydnem College, etc.
His leadership seminars are popular with top-level management in corporate houses. He addresses their crucial needs through thought- provoking seminars on themes such as ‘Secrets of Lasting Relationships’, ‘Soul Curry to Stop Worry’ and ‘Work–Life Balance’ to name a few.
Shubha Vilas has also been assisting business leaders as their lifestyle coach, conducting regular classes on Spirituality and Management to help them live a wholesome life.
He also helps individuals apply the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayana and other dharmic traditions in dealing with modern- day life situations.
This book is the fruit of his deep study and understanding of lessons of Ramayan as it applies to life today.

Lord Rama’s Love Marriage

Rama lay lost in His own world. His thoughts transported Him to that window in Mithila behind which had stood the most beautiful damsel He had ever seen. The window framed Her like a painter’s flawless masterpiece. He was so captivated and awestruck by this mystic beauty that He turned around for a second glimpse. It was magical; He could not fathom what force drew Him toward Her. He had never felt this way before.

As Rama lay on the grass thinking about Her, deep in the innermost chambers of the palace, Sita was tossing and turning in her soft, downy bed. The restlessness in Her heart made Her bed feel like thorns. She could not take Her mind off the boy She had seen on the street from Her window. She remembered every inch of His handsome physique – the broad shoulders, the strong feet, the pinkish palms and the deep, intense eyes through which He consumed Her beauty completely. When Rama had walked out of Her sight, Sita’s mind, resolve and beauty had shamelessly followed Him. She had never felt this way before. When He walked away, She had felt like a thirsty person who could not find the way to the water tank even after having spotted it. Here, the water tank had just walked away from a thirsty Sita!

Rama was not sure if He was sinning by thinking about that girl. What if She were married? No, it couldn’t be. In His heart and mind He knew that She was the One. If His mind had settled on Her, surely She must be the divine bride in waiting. Rama’s faith in His mind was restored. Such was his confidence that He knew He couldn’t sin.

 Rama, Lord Vishnu Himself, the one who slept in an ocean of milk, was now sleeping in an ocean of agony. The night was as restless as His mind.

Although Rama and Sita had already fallen in love with each other, when Rama broke the bow he did not know who he was going to get married to. Likewise, Sita was clueless as to who had broken the bow. Yet she went ahead to garland the bravheart who had broken the bow. In modern context, this episode tells us when it comes to marriage, love when endorsed by parents ensures long term happiness for all.

Contact the Author

Epics like the Ramayan have been recounted infinite times. Is there a need for another chronicle in the presence of so many? How is this one different? And is it relevant to our ever-changing modern lives? 
Yes there is a need; yes, this is different; and yes it is most relevant! This new series of books, each following one volume of the original Ramayana, decodes the eternal wisdom of that poetic scripture through gripping narrative and thought provoking instruction. In the time-honored custom of spreading wisdom through tales, every fascinating story in the epic is retold here and every character unfolded to captivate your heart and open your mind to life’s deepest questions. 
The narrative closely follows Valmiki’s Ramayana, gently weaving in folk tales as well as the beautiful analogies of the Kamba Ramayana. The first of the six-volume series, Rise of the Sun Prince, takes you through the divine story of Lord Rama from His birth up to His marriage. 
Through these pages are revealed the tales of  Dasaratha’s leadership, Vishwamitra’s quest for power and the intriguing story of a little-known stone maiden. Ramayana – The Game of Life has all this and much more – food for contemporary thought drawn from an enduring masterpiece. 

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2 Paperback Copies of Rise of the Sun Prince is up for grabs for Indian Residents. Enter the Rafflecopter below.



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21 August, 2014

#Interview with Shobhan Bantwal, #Author of Full Moon Bride


Shobhan Bantwal is the author of six novels and co-author of two anthologies. Her books combine contemporary women’s issues with romantic elements. Her articles have appeared in The WriterRomantic TimesIndia AbroadLittle IndiaNew Woman, and India Currents. Her short fiction has won honours/awards in contests sponsored by Writer’s Digest and New York Stories. She won the First Place Award in New Woman magazine's 2005 Short Fiction Competition for her story, Lingering Doubts. Her debut book, THE DOWRY BRIDE, won the 2008 Golden Leaf Award. THE UNEXPECTED SON won the 2012 National Indie Excellence Award. Shobhan lives in Arizona, USA. Visit her Website or her Facebook page.


Interview - Shobhan Bantwal, author of The Full Moon Bride (Fingerprint Publishing - 2014)

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
I am an accidental author and a late bloomer to boot. I was a fairly competent writer since childhood, nonetheless I never wrote anything beyond the required school essays and thesis for my master's degree until I took it up much later in life. I stumbled into writing at the ripe age of fifty, when my husband and I became empty-nesters after our only child left home to pursue a career. Since I already had a demanding full-time job, I took up creative writing purely as a part-time hobby. At some point, suddenly and unexpectedly, my humble pastime exploded into a full-time second career.

What inspires you to write?
My inspiration primarily comes from observing people and reading/watching the daily news. As a first-generation immigrant living in the United States for nearly forty years, I have faced many personal challenges: the initial adjustment to the American environment, raising a child in a mixed culture, juggling a demanding career with homemaking, leading a hectic social life, and finally, taking up fiction writing. These life experiences as well as my passion for Indian women's issues such as dowry deaths and female foeticide provide me with both story ideas and creative stimulation.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
The idea for The Full Moon Bride is based on my observation of my own daughter (now a grown and married woman with children) and others of her generation. These highly independent young women and men raised in the American culture often struggle to fit in with their peers while simultaneously meeting their conservative parents' expectations. Having noted the many ways these bright, bold individuals met and married their respective spouses, I decided to make an interesting and romantic story out of the their combined experiences.

Is there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
Yes, I do indeed have a stash of stories that have not yet seen the light of day. While they took time and effort to create they were somehow just not right for my American publisher's taste or perhaps not quite suitable for the loyal readership that I have garnered for my published books. I have two mystery-romances and one literary story that were completed years ago but never submitted for serious consideration to an agent or publisher.

Tell us about your writing process.
I am not a disciplined writer, therefore I write whenever the mood strikes, and that too without a defined outline. It is not the most efficient way of writing, but it has worked quite well for me since it becomes an adventurous journey in itself, with unexpected twists and turns. Writer's block also plagues me more frequently than I would like. It can be frustrating, but time is at a premium, so I deal with it by self-editing what I have already written during those creative periods when my muses are active.

What is your favourite scene in the book? Why?
My favourite scene in The Full Moon Bride is the one outside the Indian restaurant following the hero Rajesh's successful theatre debut. This is the scene where Siya, the heroine, furiously accuses the penniless Rajesh of being an unscrupulous opportunist using her father's money to bankroll the production of his play. But at the end of the scene, when Rajesh walks away from her, she finally realizes that despite her rage she cares deeply for him and cannot afford to lose him. Nonetheless she stubbornly tries to hold on to her pride. But at what cost? This is my favourite scene because it embodies the classic dark moment in the story, and the timeless conflict of principle with love and family, pride with happiness and security.

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Being a strongly opinionated woman I believe many of my heroines portray a few of my own quirks. In fact, some of my close friends have pointed out that certain dialogues in my books sound very much like they came out of my own mouth. They think it is quirky and hilarious. I am quite sure this phenomenon is not unique to me. Most authors who put their heart and soul into their books inadvertently infuse some of their own qualities and convictions into their characters.

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I am an avid fiction reader and have been since my early years in India. My favourite childhood author was Enid Blyton. In adulthood my all-time beloved author has been Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird). However, as a lover of romance and mysteries my inspiration now comes from prolific American writers like Judith McNaught, Nora Roberts, Jayne Ann Krentz, John Grisham, David Baldacci, and Dan Brown, to name just a few.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
When I first started to write my mixed-genre stories, I was hesitant to dream big because no other Indian-American was writing mainstream/romantic books at the time. Besides, publishers and readers expected only sombre literary fiction from Asian authors. However, after joining the Romance Writers of America, many of my fellow writers encouraged and advised me to pursue my unique kind of Bollywood-ish fiction with Indian characters. There was clearly the need for Indian romances in the American market, and I wanted to fulfil it. That led me to seriously start querying literary agents. I was stunned when one of the top American agents signed me on, mostly because what I wrote was new and refreshingly different from the stereotypical serious literary novels produced by most South-Asian writers. That bit of sage advice from some RWA authors led me to getting published, and it is something I will always cherish.

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favourite place to go and unwind?
Since I recently retired from a demanding full-time job, most of my free time is devoted to reading. In fact I start to panic when I am finished with my to-be-read pile, and immediately make a trip to the local library for more reading material. My husband and I also like to spend time with our two young grandchildren, and that is the most enjoyable recreational activity we like to indulge in. We also have an active social life, so we often cook and entertain family and friends. International travel is yet another pleasant past-time for us.

Thank you so much for interviewing me for your popular blog. I enjoyed answering your insightful questions.


Shobhan Bantwal's compelling new novel explores the fascinating subject of arranged marriage, as a young Indian-American woman navigates the gulf between desire and tradition.


To Siya Giri, arranged marriages have always seemed absurd. But while her career as an environmental lawyer has flourished, she remains a virgin, living with her parents in suburban New Jersey. However, she now wants to get married, and for that she is finally ready to do the unthinkable!



20 August, 2014

#BookReview :: Fraudster by RV Raman

There are people who will do anything to silence the ones who come in their way, those who will stop at nothing, including murder. 

A young banker is found dead a day after she deposes before a commission investigating large-scale financial fraud... 
A doyen of corporate India falls to his death from his south Bombay flat... 
A high-security server room of a multinational accounting firm is hacked and the hackers aren't looking for just company secrets... 

Illicit finance, high-stakes crime and vicious manipulation come together in this story of corruption, greed and treachery among corporate India's black sheep. Arresting, fast-paced and written by an insider from the corporate world, Fraudster will keep you on your toes till the very end.




On one hand we have a young banker, found dead a day after she ousts a large-scale financial fraud. On the other hand we have a respected and prominent corporate man fall to his death from his flat. Then there is the issue of hacking of the servers of a multinational accounting firm. Fraudster brings together the elements of greed, corruption, scams and murder in one past paced book.

The plot of the novel is genuinely interesting and takes a grip on you from the very beginning. For those of you mystery lovers, who like to play the who-dunnit game, you will have ample opportunity to do so. The author hides all the clues to the perpetrator right out in the open and it is for the readers to pick up the hints. In itself, the plot is a very straightforward one, but as a reader we come to the conclusion only at the end when everything is finally revealed. But the author takes us for a ride throughout the book right till the climax. The characters are well fleshed out and very distinctive from each other. Each character has something to add to the story and so do not underestimate any of them.

The author narrates the story with a certain flair that compliments the plot and helps build the grit of the story. Crisp language and straightforward approach of storytelling again adds to the overall book. A very gritty and interesting mystery that is a must read for all mystery lovers.



19 August, 2014

#GuestPost :: Characters not Caricatures by Mister JMI


Founder of Fictitious Fox Publishing, author of The Glory and owner of a sweet head of hair, Mister JMI is a longtime lover of the art of storytelling. When he isn't lost in a storm of ink and paper you can find him buried up to his afro in comic books, wrapped up in an anime or clutching a video game controller.
At the age of 12, Mister JMI knew he wanted to become a writer. Unfortunately, his dream was delayed for over a decade due to suffering from a severe case of chronic procrastination.
Now fully recovered, Mister JMI is ready to unleash a deluge of exciting, funny and fantastic stories for your entertainment. So sit back, relax and enjoy.







Characters not Caricatures 
by: Mister JMI

Hey everyone, for those who don’t know who I am, (most likely all of you) I go by Mister JMI and I am the founder of Fictitious Fox Publishing and author of The Glory. The Glory is a fun, funny, exciting, character-driven sci-fi book that I wrote which follows Adam Whitlock and his pursuit to join the US Space Force and become captain of the legendary warship, The Glory. My book is on sale now on amazon, which you can pick up here. TinyUrl.com/gettheglory (Shameless plug is shamless.) And now that we have all the formalities and plugs out of the way, let’s get into the subject at hand.

I really wanted to talk about and share my thoughts and approach to creating characters. We’ve all heard the old adage that, there is nothing new under the sun and to an extend, every story has been told with slight variations. I agree with this saying but what separates one story from the next is the characters. A good character can make the same old story that we’ve hear a thousand different times, a thousand different ways sound brand new and fresh. Falling in love a great characters can makes us get so wrapped up in that character’s peril we completely forget that there is 100 pages left in the book or 45 minutes left in the movie and that they are going to be fine.

Unfortunately, we don’t get many great characters in most stories. We get tired and worn, paint-by-numbers archetypes, stereotypes and worst of all, dialogue devices. “Characters” whose sole existences it to just deliver lines, be exposition machines and move the plot along.

We I sat down to write my book I spent a lot of time making sure that I was creating not only believable, fleshed out, layered characters but my ultimate goal was to create people. Someone you could really believed existed, somebody you could bump into in the street or meet at a party or somebody who you already know. I wanted the reader know one of my characters so well that you would know how they would react in any scenario. 

I achieved this by stopping and putting the plot to the side for a moment and thinking about who these people. What are their values, hopes and dreams? What’s their philosophy on life, if they even cared to stop and think of one? Where are they from and how were they raised? What makes them laugh, makes them cry, and what would utterly piss them off? Who would they fall in love with?
The next time you sit down to write a book, or movie or whatever your forte is, if you stop and think about who the people that you are putting into the stories are, you’ll have a character and a story that will far outlast you.

….But hey, what do I know? I’m just some prick with stupid hair. 

I’d like to thank Debdatta for letting me ramble over precious space on her site and you for taking a moment to read it.

(Brace yourselves, plugs are coming)

And if you’d like to hear… read more of what I have to say you can find me on Facebook, just look for Mister JMI. Follow me on Twitter (because nobody else is) @misterjmi or simply email me at writejmi@gmail.com 
Check out my book at Facebook.com/readtheglory 
And pick it up on Amazon at tinyurl.com/gettheglory


The first in a new series, The Glory is a fun, funny and exciting character-driven sci-fi adventure that follows Adam Whitlock, a young, brilliant, fiercely determined boy who gives up everything to join the United States Space Force in hopes of becoming captain of the fabled and prestigious warship, The Glory.

On his rise to the top, Whitlock gains a great friend and ally in Nathaniel Oaks, as well as a bitter rival in Omar Baptist. Despite his extraordinary talent and dedication, Adam Whitlock’s path is riddled with opposition from naysayers and nonbelievers. 

Meanwhile, Admiral Douglas C. Calhoun is tasked with quelling the rising tensions between mankind and the Kelzmisians, a group of alien races, as their long-standing Cold War is about to turn hot. 

Stargaze. Trail Blaze. THE GLORY

18 August, 2014

#BookReview :: Kingdom Come by Aarti V. Raman

How do you kill a man with no Achilles heel? You cut off his foot ~ Tom Jones. 
Set against the serene beauty of Kashmir, Ladakh and Tibet, Kingdom Come is a gripping story of death and loss, vengeance and retribution, love and life. Krivi Iyer is an embittered former spy and bomb defusal expert with only one regret. That he couldn't catch The Woodpecker, a dangerous, mentally unstable bomber who ended his partner's family. He has a second chance to go after his arch enemy with the arrival of Ziya Maarten, the manager of 'Goonj Business Enterprises' in Srinagar, Kashmir, who is alleged to be The Woodpecker's sister. Except, Ziya is a beautiful distraction and not a terrorist's sister. When a tragedy in London tears Ziya's life apart, she can only rely on Krivi to give her the absolution and vengeance she needs to move on. Between training to be an anti-terrorist squad member and finding The Woodpecker, Ziya uncovers the secrets of Krivi's tormented past. But will two tortured souls find the courage to love?


I had the chance to attend the book launch of ‘Kingdom Come’ at Bangalore. The author is a vivacious young lady who is very bubbly and articulate. She and her guests did a reading from the book there and it was enough to catch my attention. I knew then that if she writes half as well as she speaks, I would enjoy the book.

Kingdom Come is a unique title that hardly gives away what the story is about. It tells us the story of Krivi Iyer and Ziya Maarten set in the backdrop of beautiful sceneries of Kashmir and Tibet. Krivi Iyer is a former spy and bomb defusal expert whose only regret in life is that he could not capture the mentally unstable Woodpecker, a master bomber. It was personal to him since the Woodpecker was responsible for the demise of his partner’s family. So when he receives intel that Ziya Maarten is Woodpecker’s sister and may know about his whereabouts, he goes all out to finish what the Woodpecker had started. Yet he was not prepared for Ziya. She is strong, kind and loving. When an incident tears apart Ziya’s life and threatens to bring down her world, Krivi can only lend his strength to protect the beautiful Ziya.

I am not a sexist, but I hardly ever had the reason to expect the kind of story that Aarti presents to us from a woman. Yes, the love and sensuality infused in the story is precious and the complexities of a relationship captured and expressed in a way only a woman can. However, talking about IEDs and bomb disposal squads with such familiarity is scarce from a woman. I would like to applaud the author for narrating it so convincingly. 

The characters in the story all have different shades to them and the author has developed them in a expert manner. I particularly enjoyed the chemistry between Krivi and Ziya and how Noor and Sam added something special to the story. Vivid descriptions and beautiful settings only compliment the story.

An interesting combination of thrills and romance makes it a good option for the book lovers of both the genres.