31 August, 2015

#BookReview :: Once Upon A DharamYudh by Vibhor Tikiya


Dharam is a dream institution for its founders and employees alike, who give it their sweat and blood. In time, it prospers owing to the fine acumen of its owners and efforts of its employees. Prakash is caught in the web of fulfilling his father's dying wish and gives up his dream job to take up the mantle of responsibility at Dharam. A radical thinker equipped with modern ways of working, he sets the company and workers on a path of development, though with much resistance to his methods. Uday's humble origins and difficult childhood inspire him to dream big, he dreams of equality and fair treatment for the weaker sections of the society. He believes it is his Dharam to raise his voice against any injustice. The fight between a man's belief and an institution's values becomes a tussle between the haves and the have-nots, acquiring magnanimous proportions. Both believe they are right and are willing to do what is needed to be done for their Dharam.

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When I first learnt of this book, the title, its blurb and the cover created an expectation of lot of action and drama in my mind. And so it was with that expectation that I delved into the book.

Prakash, one of our protagonists, gives up his dream job to take over the reins of his family business to fulfill his father’s dying wish. Being a dynamic young man with dreams and ambitions of his own, Prakash soon devices new policies and strategies for the business, ‘Dharam’, so as to not only thrive but also to grow. His plans face opposition and resistance from the beginning, but he moves ahead taking care of each hurdle as and when they popped up. That is until Uday, our second protagonist, pops on his radar. Uday is hell bent on what he deems to serve justice to his people and makes it nearly impossible for Prakash to move ahead. Like in every war between two people, third parties get involved to make profit out of the situation. What started as a small hurdle in the face of change in an organization, soon spiraled out of control! Who will prevail? Will it be Prakash or will it be Uday?

Both Prakash and Uday are interesting characters. They are quite different from each other and yet somewhere their differences blur and we are left to wonder if they are really that different. Prakash is an ambitious young man who tries his best to fulfill his father’s last wish. He comes across as a mostly honest person who values integrity. At the same time I felt that he lacked the strength to stand ground at certain points where he should have. Uday on the other hand brings forward a back story that helps us understand him right from the beginning. He is all about justice and the strength to carry it out. It was really an experience to watch these two go up against each other. 

The plot was something that I really liked. It was different and certainly refreshing to a point. However, the pacing was an issue. The slow start made it a bit difficult to get into the story. And even once the story really took off; there were moments here and there where the narration dragged a bit. Other than that the book is quite entertaining.


Review Copy received from Srishti Publishers

30 August, 2015

#GuestPost :: Modern Monsters by Mike Phillips

About the Book:
Mike Phillips grew up on a small farm in West Michigan, living much the way people did at the turn of the century. Whether it was growing fruits and vegetables or raising livestock, Mike learned the value of hard work and responsibility at a young age. 
While his friends spent their summers watching reruns of bad sitcoms, Mike’s father gave him a very special gift. He turned off the television. With what was affectionately referred to as “the idiot box” no longer a distraction, Mike was left to discover the fantastic worlds that only exist in books. When not tending sheep, gardening, building furniture, chopping wood, or just goofing off, Mike spent his time reading. 

With all that hard work at home, Mike was always eager to go to school. He excelled as a student and went on to pursue a career in the sciences. Working as a Safety Engineer in the Insurance Industry, Mike soon became bored with the corporate grind. Writing engaged him like nothing else. After a few novels and numerous short stories, he thought getting published would be a pretty neat idea. And so, here it goes…


Modern Monsters

Hello everyone, and thank you for reading my guest post. My name is Mike Phillips and my new book is Hazard of Shadows. For this guest post, I was asked to talk a little about the magical creatures in the book. One of the more unique aspects of the story is my use of goblins, so I thought it might be interesting to explore that. 

In folklore and literature, goblins have always been evil creatures. To this day, goblins are hiding in our closets and under our beds. They are wicked monsters that are no happier than when they are burning fields or robbing cradles. In The World Below, Mitch Hardy unknowingly rescues a goblin from getting hurt in a storm. Living on the fringes of society as they must to avoid camera phones and governmental laboratories, goblins lead harsh lives. By a small act of kindness, Mitch makes a true friend. Later on, this kindness is returned. I don’t want to spoil the fun, so let’s just say a pan-dimensional, man-eating garbage dumpster is involved. Friends like that are hard to find! Once they have been won over, goblins are the best sort of friends. They may have terrible manners, they may say awful things, they may smell bad, but we can all be that way sometimes. In the end, my use of goblins helps us see the best in humanity.

Writing about goblins was a riot! Goblins live on the fringes of human society. They make their homes in junk yards, abandoned buildings, sewer systems, and anywhere else people try to avoid. Once they find a likely spot, the get to work. Goblins are clever with tools and machinery. They will use and repurpose anything they can get their hands on, so many of their dwellings look like they were designed by frat-boys. Not always the best of neighbors, goblins have to take security seriously. They construct elaborate pitfalls to keep themselves safe from enemies like collapsing tunnels, pongee pits, and mechanical traps. 

Goblins, like their human counterparts, each have a unique personality. They live in what they call crews, a sort of family, a lot like college dorm-mates. Each goblin has a special skill. One might be a bully (a most desirable skill in the goblin world). Another might be crafty at making traps. Some use sorcery or poison. Others are good at machinery. Some just eat a lot (another desirable skill). Goblins, in general, have a loose sense of morality. If it doesn’t hurt another member of the crew, with the obvious exception of fighting, then it’s usually okay. Fighting is always acceptable behavior, though if an enemy is around, a goblin is expected to stop fighting the other crew member and start fighting the enemy. Common sense rules like that are the cornerstone of goblin society. 

That brings us to the topic of goblin social structure. Goblin society is feudal. They organize in crews, bound by familial ties or friendship. These associations are loosely formed, and if a goblin wants to go it alone, no one holds a grudge. A crew may have two or three leaders at a time. It is not unusual for goblins to disagree, so sometimes they have no real leader at all. Though they fight with each other like crazy, but they are deeply loyal in times of trouble and would do anything for the other members of their crew. No female goblins appear in Hazard of Shadows or The World Below, but that is a topic for another time.  

Thank you so much for joining me. I hope you enjoy Hazard of Shadows and The World Below. Please visit me at mikephillipsfantasy.com.


About the Books:
In ancient times, magical creatures inhabited the earth. They lived on mountaintops, in fields, at the bottom of lakes and rivers. But that was long ago, before the human race declared war on the creatures they feared and hated. Now the enchanted peoples are all but gone. The only place they can hide from the ever increasing number of satellites and smart phones is in the World Below. 

Mitch Hardy is going through a hard time in his life. In his early twenties, he was working his way through college when he suffered an accident that left him flat broke and physically deformed. When Mitch decides to make a fresh start in a new town, things start looking up. He finds a place to live, a decent job, good friends. He even meets a nice girl. Unknown to Mitch, his new girlfriend is one of the Elder Race, what some call the Faerie Folk. Mitch doesn’t know that Elizabeth is looking for a father she never knew. The key to finding him is somehow tied up with the mysterious Blade of Caro. Desperate, she steals the Blade from its protector, the despotic ruler of the World Below, the Dragon of Worms, Baron Finkbeiner. When Elizabeth is kidnapped by the Baron, Mitch is pulled into a world or magic and monsters he never imagined.


The enchanted creatures of legend still exist, hidden away in the secret places of the world. They take refuge from an age of camera phones and government labs, from people who won’t let them live in peace. One of these last places of safety is known as the World Below.

Ancient powers are at work. The Lords of Faerie seek to revenge the death of Baron Finkbeiner and recover the mysterious Blade of Caro. Hidden in the shadows, they await a chance to strike. The chance arises when an old enemy escapes the splinter realm in which he is imprisoned. Anxious to settle the debt, the Faerie Lords send him to finish the Lady Elizabeth and her Champion once and for all.

After leading the revolution against the despotic ruler of the World Below, Mitch Hardy has taken the throne. He never wanted to be king. The whole idea of a government by right of combat sits poorly with him. Growing evermore uneasy with his new position, he begins laying the framework for self-rule. The enchanted peoples have known nothing but kings, but are adapting quickly to this new idea of governing their own affairs. It goes well, but Mitch’s plans are interrupted by the arrival of old enemies. Soon he is fighting for his life against a hellish enemy, the likes of which he never imagined.



29 August, 2015

#SpecialFeature :: #GuestPost - Palm’s Booklet of Impractical Poems by C G Salamander


*** Special Feature - August 2015 ***


About the Book:
NIGEL THE LAST BRIT IN INDIA
There is chaos and pandemonium in the streets of Madras, and it is up to Nigel (an officer of the Imperial Police) to restore order to the city... only he hasn't quite learned about India's Independence. Yet.

GAYATRI AND THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY VEGETABLES
When the newest and most successful religion (Cabbagism) threatens to bring about the destruction of the world, it is up to a melancholic zombie and a collection of rowdy farm animals to save the earth.

ALIENS, DINOSAURS, PORCUPINES
A porcupine, after setting out on a journey away from home, falls in love with an armadillo. 

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Palm’s Booklet of Impractical Poems:

Here’s a sneak peek of what I do when I’m bored – I write poetry! Or rather, I write poetry’s juvenile second cousin. 

1) Khan the Unicorn 

Khan the unicorn with corn for a horn, 
Was grazing one day in a thunder storm,
Soon he was struck down by electric forces, 
And that’s the story of pop corn and horses. 


2) Betty the Yeti. 

I fell in love with a lonely yeti, 
With hair as rough as uncooked spaghetti. 

She's as patient as a Buddhist monk, 
With thicker arms than most tree trunks. 

She's got big soulful beady eyes, 
And fur that's home to a lot of lice. 

There's always food between her teeth, 
But she's got the most alluring feet. 

People may think her abominable, 
But I'd always find her adorable.

3) Neighbor’s Curtains

My Neighbor’s curtains are brownish yellow, 
He really is a gruesome fellow. 
He uses it to wipe his mouth, 
His neck, his stomach, and parts down south. 


About the Author
It was exactly fifteen years ago that C G Salamander realized he was different from all the other Chinese Giant Salamanders. As a child C G Salamander hated living in the muddy crevices along the river banks, and so he decided to leave the Yangtze river and set out on a quest to find himself.

He spent days travelling across the vast terrains of china and finally reached the foothills of the Himalayas. With nowhere to go, and equipped with a childlike sense of wonder for a compass, C G Salamander began scaling the Himalayas where he would later enroll himself in a monastery. During his time in the mountains, he was taught how to read and write by foreigners who’d come to partake in the mountain’s rich culture and cheap herbage.

He spent most of his time in meditation, and eventually learned how to move objects with his mind.After spending a decade in the Himalayas, C.G Salamander traveled south to the city of Chennai, and has remained there ever since. He now spends his time telekinetically moving pens and pencils across paper.

Contact the Author:


Giveaway
1 Lucky Indian Resident will win a Paperback Copy of Palm's Foster Home for Peculiar Stories



28 August, 2015

#Interview with Niro Raine, #Author of Delivering the Phantom Moon

About the Author:

Born in the UK in the December of 1983, Niro lived a somewhat nomadic lifestyle, at one point living at four different addresses within the space of one year. As an only child on the move, his imagination quickly became his favourite toy and most valuable asset. 
Despite his fractured early education, he went on to achieve both a First Class Honours and Masters Degree from Exeter University before settling in South West England, the creative hub in which his novels are penned.

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Interview with the Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t tell stories. As a child, I would always be the one in the corner of the playground entertaining my classmates. Indeed my relatives like to bring up from time to time how I would tell my cousins ghost stories at bedtime, causing them to be up all night. Oops!

What inspires you to write?
Life. I always see a kind of poetry in the everyday and creative writing helps me to make sense of the world. I observe, I consider, I digest and then I play with the “what-ifs”. Everything I write is rooted in reality, even if it has become too far estranged to be recognisable by the time it’s down on paper.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
Delivering the Phantom Moon grew out of a number of ideas I had been toying with. I had been interested for some time in the symbolism of creatures in folk mythology. For example – The werewolf who once bitten will never be the same again. They can walk among other people, but they have a dark secret that prevents them from getting too close to anyone. That explosive, aggressive energy that cannot remain buried, especially on the monthly anniversary of that initial trauma.
I also remember being quite affected by Like Water for Chocolate. The idea that your passion, your fear, your sadness, your joy can be so deep that it is felt by all who come into contact with your creation, becoming just as real for them as it is for you.

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
Who doesn’t have those? I have one that is entirely set within the subconscious of a young man living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Tell us about your writing process.
I am not a writer who can vigorously lay down a structure for every scene and then put it together. I have a good understanding of the world and the characters before I put pen to paper. I know what I want to do with the plot and the themes that will be explored, but other than that I let it develop and grow organically. If a character surprises me and wants to take things in another direction, I go with it.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
Probably the scene where Looms-Twice-Nightly and Falls-Only-When-Supported are returned to the Bowel House after being arrested. This scene encapsulates many things for me, but mainly I love it because I believe than art has often been at its strongest in times of turmoil when it is used to inspire and lead rebellion. That fact is subtly celebrated here.

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Absolutely. I should probably say all of them in some small way. They certainly share my sense of mischief. 

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
Much of the humour in my writing comes from my love of babbling and inventing words. Invented words, where you still understand the meaning are a great joy to me. I still remember rocking with laughter for days after reading the words “snaffling coobeastie” in a novel by the greatly missed Terry Pratchett. 

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
My favourites have to include Terry Pratchett, Angela Carter, Neil Gaiman and Samuel Beckett. I would say that the aspect that I mostly take from them is the importance of the personal human story over the greater thrust of the action.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
Just the recognition that I have to write. Write everyday. It doesn’t matter what it is.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Find your own voice. And this is something that you will only do by getting down and scribbling away until you find the style that fits who you are and what you want to express.

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
I think I would probably want to see Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role as Bobert. He seems to have mastered that lovable awkward quality that sits so firmly at Bobert’s core.
Kane would have to be played by some ravishingly gorgeous wild thing like Jennifer Connelly. 
And for the voice of Howel I’d love to have Stephen Fry.

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
I’d be very boring I’m afraid, I have watched The Island with Bear Grylls. I’d take a compass, a lighter and a seriously sharp knife.

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
Most of my free time is taken up with walking and exercising my Dutch Herder. I particularly like it when we have managed to find a spot where we can just lay on a blanket and I can read a good book in the sun while he sleeps off the fetching.

Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
I fully intend to go on a temple and pyramid tour of the world. I can’t help feeling like there will be something to be learned from studying the buildings created by our ancestors at a time when they were considering our relationship to the universe from a spiritual perspective.

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
- I won’t visit a country unless I speak at least the basics of the language, so I once spent nine months intensively learning Arabic so I could go to Egypt.
- I’m really into tattoos, as long as they’re original and not from a flash book.
- I love cheese and pineapple sticks, I don’t care how tacky and 90’s kids party that sounds!

What do you have in store next for your readers?
I’m currently working on the second book in the Four Winds World series Yggdrasil and Thanatos, but my next release is a Christmas Eve Chiller that’s coming out in December called Forget-Me-Knots. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
I’d love to share a cold bottle of something, but that’s for another night.

About the Book:
There is a darkness that twists through us in the night. It watches us from the shadows, and mocks us from the edge of sight; always keeping half a blink away from closer inspection. Although we turn and look as that chill spikes our hairs to attention, we do not really want to see. We do not really want to know. 

The Presence is growing; feeding on the night terrors of cheese addicts. Soon the inhabitants of the Four Winds World will no longer be able to deny its existence as the madness of panic prepares to take them. In a world where Gnomes mine the hills, Mushrooms rule the earth, and Mermaids defend the oceans, will it be the most unlikely hero, the lactose intolerant Bobert, who saves them all from this curse? 

...Not if he can help it...

27 August, 2015

#BookReview :: After the Crash by Michel Bussi


On the night of 22 December 1980, a plane crashes on the Franco-Swiss border and is engulfed in flames. 168 out of 169 passengers are killed instantly. The miraculous sole survivor is a three-month-old baby girl. Two families, one rich, the other poor, step forward to claim her, sparking an investigation that will last for almost two decades. Is she Lyse-Rose or Emilie?

Eighteen years later, having failed to discover the truth, private detective Credule Grand-Duc plans to take his own life, but not before placing an account of his investigation in the girl's hands. But, as he sits at his desk about to pull the trigger, he uncovers a secret that changes everything - then is killed before he can breathe a word of it to anyone...


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In the winter of 1980, a plane crashed killing everyone on board except a three month old baby. Two families, pole opposite of each other, come forward to claim the baby. Their claims lead Credule Grand-Duc to an investigation that lasted for eighteen years. The detective plans to hand over his work to the surviving girl and then kill himself. At the last moment he discovers the last missing piece of the puzzle that uncovers the girl’s real identity only to end up murdered. Is Lyse-Rose de Carville who she thinks she is or is she really Emilie Vitral? What is it that Credule discovered that lead to his murder? And what is the mystery behind this whole thing?

At a time when DNA testing was not available for immediate resolution of an identity, this case makes for a mysterious and interesting situation. The premise of the story certainly attracted my attention and it had a hold on me throughout the book. My need to know what exactly happened kept me turning the pages right till the end. Except for one matter, which I won’t mention here as it would be a big spoiler, the plot was well brewed. It allowed for some action, a lot of drama and quite a few unexpected twists that keep a reader engaged. The pace of the book seemed to lag a bit in the middle where I felt that the drama was overdone, but as I finished the book, I realized that it was actually required to make the book what it has turned out to be. There are a whole bunch of characters in the book. I couldn’t really connect with the protagonist as her voice felt a bit weak. But I rather liked the PI Credule – whose voice comes across as strong and dependable through his diary. 

This book has some great moments and some not so great moments. But to round up, it was overall an interesting read.


Review Copy received from Hachette India





26 August, 2015

#BookReview :: Rise of Kali - Duryodhana's Mahabharata (Epic of the Kaurava Clan #2) by Anand Neelakantan

The mahabharata endures as the great epic of india. While jaya is the story Of the pandavas, told from the perspective of the victors of kurukshetra, ajaya is the tale of the Kauravas, who were decimated to the last man. From the pen of the author who gave voice to Ravana in the national bestseller, asura, comes the riveting narrative which compels us to question The truth behind the mahabharata. As the Pandavas stake their claim to the Hastinapura throne, the Kaurava Crown Prince, Suyodhana, rises to challenge Krishna. As great minds debate dharma and adharma, power hungry men prepare for an apocalyptic war. The women, highborn and humble, helplessly watch the unfolding disaster with deep foreboding. And greedy merchants and unscrupulous priests lie in wait like vultures. Both sides know that beyond the agony and carnage the winner will take all. But even as gods conspire and men’s destinies unfold, a far greater truth awaits. The dark age of kali is rising and every man and woman must choose between duty And conscience, honour and shame, life and death…

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Check out my Interview with Anand Neelakantan

I have said it before, and I will say it again. It is always a refreshing experience to read Anand Neelakantan’s books. I have been waiting for this book for around 8 months now and the author has made this book worth the wait.

The second instalment starts with Draupadi being summoned after the Pandavas have lost her in a game of dice. Right from the first chapter the story continues its ‘tandav’ throughout the book. Do not misunderstand me when I say ‘tandav’ I mean it as a compliment. It is indeed havoc that is created through mere words on pages when Anand writes them. He forces people to acknowledge that there are always two sides to a coin. From the beginning of Roll of Dice, the author ensured that we let go of all that we think we know about Mahabharata and start afresh to see the side of the story that no one tells – the story of the Kauravas.

While the stage was set and things started taking off in the first instalment, ‘Rise of Kali’ gives us an in-depth look into all the characters that play a role. Two people particularly stood out for me. One of them was Karna – while he did stand out in the original version with his diligence and loyalty, here we get to see everything that he had gone through. After reading his whole story, his loyalty to Duryodhana and his resilience takes on a new level. I admired Karna like no other in the story. The other was that of Balarama. While Krishna is widely known for his role in the Mahabharata, Balarama felt more humane and admirable in this version. Also, getting a look into Yuyutsu, the only surviving Kaurava was an added attraction in the book.

The author maintains his comprehensive style of narration for most part. I personally felt that there could be more to the ending, but then I am someone who is always looking for more in a book. The language continues to be striking, complementing the author’s unique perspective on every character and relationship. It was interesting, engaging and entertaining.


Review Copy received through Booksense




#ReleaseDayBlitz :: Nacreous (Harmony Run #4) by Sarah Elle Emm

~ Release Day Blitz ~

About the Book:

After two members of The Freedom Front are arrested and interrogated by the UZTA’s tyrannical President Nicks, Rain Hawkins and her friends face the alarming reality that their plans to liberate the mixed zones across the United Zones of The Authority might not come to fruition. While the resistance movement is growing outside the walls of the zones, the president’s forces are strengthening and putting citizens everywhere in more peril than ever. When Rain receives warnings that her cousin, Calista, has agreed to support plans to kill the mixed zones, and that her life could be on the line at the upcoming pure zone initiation ceremony, she must decide where her loyalties lie and if all of her allies can be trusted. As The Freedom Front use their abilities to unravel the mystery of the ceremony, The Authority captures some of their friends, forcing TFF to either go into hiding, or plan a rescue mission that could jeopardize everything they’ve been fighting for.




Buy NOW from Amazon - Paperback or Kindle


Hooray, it is finally release day for Nacreous! Thanks for stopping by the fabulous Release Day Blitz, organized by b00k r3vi3w Tours. To kick off the blitz, here are a couple of “Fun Facts” about my writing process… I hope you enjoy!

Writing Playlist:

So…Music. Some authors swear by it. They have their playlist set in the background while they pen their latest manuscript. Me? Not exactly. Music is very important to me. I believe in dance parties, and by dance parties I mean cranking up my I-pod to the music fitting my mood, be this salsa, classic rock, blues, country, classical, whatever, and dancing alone in my room or kitchen. (Yes, I said classical and country in the same list). My kids may or may not be in attendance. They like to watch and laugh. Sometimes, they join in. But as far as my writing process goes, the music is sort of my warm up. So I might turn on some music that fits my mood for parts of the story and listen to it in my car or at my desk before I write, but not while I am actually writing. I need it to be quiet in the room, so I can tell the story…(Ahem, hear what my characters are trying to tell me). ;) While I wrote Nacreous, and the other books in the Harmony Run Series, my favorite music warm-up to set the mood was Lorde. Specifically, the songs Team and A World Alone. In fact, if any of the books from my series could be made for film, I would beg producers to include one of those songs in the movies.

My Writing Process:

I can’t sit down and force myself to write everyday because it begins to feel too mechanical, but I am definitely one of those people who thinks about writing, story ideas, characters, scenarios all of the time, awake or asleep. I love using my dreams in my writing and have written a few of them into scenes in the Harmony Run Series. Back in college, the good ol’ stone ages, I had one of the most terrifying dreams of my life about a man with a triangular-shaped eye chasing me down a corridor, one door after the other, with this woman’s voice echoing all around us, telling him to kill me. When I got to the end of the corridor, I opened the last door, and he was standing there facing me. I woke up sobbing…About a year later, a psychology professor at my university asked some of us to share dreams with him so he could demonstrate dream analysis. I bravely raised my hand, (this was huge for me, since I am very shy in person), and shared my dream in vivid detail. After I finished talking, the entire class got eerily quiet and the professor told me I was dealing with issues beyond his realm of help, and went on to the next student’s dream. That student shared a dream about not being able to make a goal in a soccer match, and the professor dissected his dream in depth for fifteen minutes. Years later, I incorporated that dream, adding on some twists and turns of course, into book one from the Harmony Run Series, Prismatic. 

I also come up with ideas when I’m looking out of the kitchen window, when I’m walking, driving, cooking, gardening, taking my kids to martial arts, helping with their homework, basically, every waking moment. I take heaps of notes. I jot notes down for days. And when I’m ready, I sit down and type everything I can. I woke up the other night, and grabbed the notebook and pen beside my bed and wrote down an idea for another story. So my writing process is sort of a twenty-four hour thing. Oh, and probably the most important part of the process…How could I forget? My dog, Shorty, has to harass me to sit in my lap throughout the day. She eventually gives up and sleeps at my feet or nearby. She spares me the occasional glance or sighs every so often when I talk too much. Yes, I like to talk aloud to myself more often than not. If that dog could talk…Well, thankfully that’s not an issue. Here’s a photo of my writing pal…



Isn’t she cute? I hope you stick around to read about Nacreous. I’m going to look up that old psychology professor to see if he wants to read my latest book… ;)

Previous Books in the Series:

  
(Click on the Cover to know more)

About the Author:



Sarah Elle Emm is the author of the HARMONY RUN SERIES, a young-adult fantasy and dystopian series, released in May 2012 by Winter Goose Publishing. (PRISMATIC, May 2012, OPALESCENT, February 2013, CHATOYANT, September 2014, NACREOUS, August 2015) Her debut fiction novel, MARRYING MISSY, was published by Bird Brain Publishing in October 2011. Sarah is a graduate of The University of Evansville, she has lived and worked in Mexico, Germany, England, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and has traveled extensively beyond. Sarah lives in Naples, Florida with her family. When she’s not walking the plank of her daughters’ imaginary pirate ship or snapping photos of Southwest Florida scenery, she is writing.




Stalk the Author:
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24 August, 2015

#GuestPost :: Story of The Damascus Cover by Howard Kaplan


Story of The Damascus Cover

The Damascus Cover is a story within a story.  The main thread is about a washed out Israeli spy who has made serious mistakes and then is offered an assignment to smuggle some children out of Damascus, something previously below his position.  As a chance back in, he eagerly accepts it.  Unbeknownst to him and to the reader, until much later, the head of the Israeli secret service has a larger mission in mind that he does not share and he will throw obstacles in front of Ari through the mission in Damascus to lead to do something desperate, which is what his handlers intend and need.  What they need from him is revealed in a final twist in the novel.  So it’s a story about the Israeli Secret Service willing to use one of their own, as other secret services would or might, in order to achieve a greater good or greater goal depending on one’s perspective. 


The Damascus Cover feature film was shot this spring in Casablanca starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, John Hurt and Olivia Thirlby best known as the sister and sidekick in Juno.   It’s a spy thriller and a romance set in Damascus before the current Civil War.  Jonny, as JRM likes to be called, is intense and wonderful.  His cover is Hans Hoffman, and he does the entire film with a remarkable German accent, his hair dyed blonde.  A language coach from Berlin was on the set full time and listened to every take.  Both of them were zealous that none of his Irish brogue slip into the German accented English.  I had the great privilege of spending a week on the set and went out on the 10 hour a day shoots all over Morocco. The producer thought I’d be bored since film production is mostly waiting around and that after a few days I’d head to the more exotic Fez or Marrakech but I stayed the entire week on set.  I’ve traveled a lot and this was a treat especially to watch Jonathan Rhys Meyers work.  He gives his all to everything.  The film will be in theaters in early 2016.

The reviews have been very gratifying.  A sample:

Los Angeles Times
"Kaplan's grasp of history and scene creates a genuine reality.  He seems to know every back alley of Damascus and Cyprus."

Hartford Courant
"A fine, taut, tense spy story full of furious action."

Chicago Daily News
"Exceedingly rich in color about the Syrian capital."

BBC News
"The plotting is beautiful."

American Library Association (starred review)
"A mission inside Syria, a last love affair, and the unfolding of the plot within a plot are handled by the author with skill and a sure sense of the dramatic."

The Damascus Cover is book one in The Jerusalem Spy Series.  Book two, Bullets of Palestine is also out and I’m working on book three To Destroy Jerusalem.


In a last ditch effort to revive his career, washed out agent Ari 
Ben-Sion accepts a mission he never would have 30 years ago, to 
smuggle a group of Jewish children out of the Damascus ghetto. Or so he thinks. 

In Damascus, a beautiful American photographer, Kim, seems to be falling in love with Ari, but she is asking too many questions. His communication equipment disappears. His contact never shows up. The operation is only hours away and everything seems awry. 

Desperate to succeed, Ari might risk everything. Even his life. 


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Two agents. Two opposing sides. 

Israeli Agent Shai is dispatched to eliminate a terrorist threat. To succeed in his mission Shai must win the trust of Palestinian Agent Ramzy who will help him gain access to the infamous and dangerous Abu Nidal. 

Shai is under orders to kill Ramzy when the mission ends. Instead, they forge a friendship that transcends the hatreds of their heritage. Loyalties are tested. Will they capture Abu Nidal or betray each other? In a conflict where both sides dehumanize each other, two extremely human men, are caught in the cross-hairs of the larger war. 


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#BookSpotlight :: The Great War of Hind by Vaibhav Anand


“In the beginning, there was no such thing as heaven or hell. All that there was then, was earth… There are raconteurs and mischief-mongers in our ranks and I have no doubt they shall pervert the truth with their self-serving versions. The events of history – this history of our land – shall thus inevitably have many versions, doubtless. But, I was there with General Ramm, I fought by his side…”
— Sanjaay, official chronicler of General Ramm

Around 12000 B.C., Hindustan as we know it today (or Hind), comprised five kingdoms of man, sandwiched between Parbat – the kingdom of the Gods in the north, and Lunka – the kingdom of the
demons in the south. The ‘Legend of Ramm’ unravels the story of the military general called Ramm in the kingdom of Ayodh and how his actions came to define our world as we know it today.


"The Great War of Hind draws you in from the get go... Look forward to the next one in the Ramm series!"
-Tanuj Khosla, Founder, OpinionCircuit.com



Vaibhav is a marketing professional working with an MNC by day, blogger/ writer/ poet by night.
Author of the bestselling If God Went to B-School, Vaibhav is also one of the top contributors to
Faking News, the satire portal. An avid bibliophile, Vaibhav lives on books, food and oxygen – in
that order.



23 August, 2015

#Interview with Abhijit Haldar, #Author of The Outlander: Rise and Fall of an Empire

About the Author:
Born  in  the  beautiful  and  scenic  state  of  Assam,  he started  writing  almost  at  the  age  of  8,  with  poems  and short  stories,  and  this  passion  burgeoned  when  he  went on  to  write  novels.  With  two  unpublished  novels,  he  has since  then  written  a  number  of  short  stories,  poems, articles  et  cetera  which  are  often  published  in  various magazines and websites.   When  he  doesn’t  feels  to  pen  down  words,  he  goes  out for  photography  into  the  fascinating  world  of  nature. Other  than  that,  he  likes  listening  music  and  watching movies  a  lot,  and  says  that  the  former  sometimes  work out as inspiration for his poems.

Connect with Abhijit on Facebook or Twitter

Interview with the Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
Actually I started writing at the age of 8. And that was quite small and back then I used to write poems. But then I tried my hands on short stories and people liked them. Then I realized that I should write a book with one of the plots in my head. So I started doing that. And till now, I have written two more books, which are unpublished and I think they were quite juvenile too...

What inspires you to write?
Everything around me inspires me to write. The world around is always telling you a story. See it, listen it and think it... I like photography and when I go out to do that, I am always contact with nature. So there's no shortage of inspiration.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
Like I said, I have written two more novels; I changed the second one's draft into a completely new one that went to become my third novel. There is a quite interesting story behind that. Well I stay at Morigaon and study at Indus Academy which is in Jagiroad. It is an almost forty minutes commute to there. And the scene is really beautiful at some parts and I had plenty of time to think. Once while I was looking at some mountains, a thought came to me: Why don't I create a world and write a full-fledged Epic Fantasy novel? And then from that day, I started to work on a new, but with some elements from the former.

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
I wrote two more novels but sadly they are manuscripts only. I reached some publishers for them, but who would like to publish something quite juvenile? I guess they will see the light someday later.

Tell us about your writing process.
Well it was really tough for me to juggle between studies and the book. I had to keep the balance. And sometimes, one would just slip off. It took me three years into the writing and finding a publisher.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
My favourite scene is when Hercaless (king of Dorin) puts his helmet on the ground and stabs it with his sword and the Gods join hands together with him and sing the Dorish song... That is really a quite emotional scene for me. And my favourite.

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
I think the protagonist, Roin inherits some quirks of mine. I was quite an introvert earlier and didn't liked to take risk. He is also skeptical at times... And he doesn't likes to give up. Not to boast but, I am same too.

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
I don't really know. But I think I like to experiment by mixing gothic with modern. Likewise it also happens in my poems. 
  
Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I read a lot. But can't call myself a voracious reader as I don't get the time due to my studies. 
 My favourite authors are John Case, John Green, Lee Child, J R R Tolkien, Mark Lawrence, Paulo Coelho, Veronica Roth, Suzanne Collins, Chetan Bhagat, Amish Tripathi, R K Narayan, Charles Dickens and many more... They all have influenced my writing style; if it also a bit. I think you will find their influences in my writing.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
There are three best pieces of advice I would like to share. First is of a quote from the movie, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. "History prefers legends to men. It prefers nobility to brutality, soaring speeches to quiet deeds. History remembers the battle, but forgets the blood. Whatever history remembers me, if it remembers anything at all, it shall only remember a fraction of the truth. For whatever else I am, a husband, a lawyer... a president... I shall always think of myself first and foremost... as a hunter." It really inspired me while I was writing the book. 

Second is from The Hobbit: "If this is to end in fire, then we shall all burn together."

And lastly, by John Green from TFIOS: "My thoughts are stars cannot fathom into constellations."

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
I always say one thing. It doesn't matters how you write. The only thing that gives a damn is that keep writing. You will always improve. And you always have a story to tell. Just don't give up.

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
Umm... It would be from Liam Hemsworth, Morgan Freeman, Hugh Jackman, Channing Tatum, Shailene Woodley, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Dwayne Johnson.

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
Food, clothes, books and yeah...my smartphone if that only works.

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
At the moment, I don't have any. But I really have a dream to go on a world tour!

What do you have in store next for your readers?
The Outlander: Rise and Fall of an Empire is the first book from The God Trilogy. So the second and third are still to go. The second will reveal some big secrets and will have more action and much science. That's for sure.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
Hope you really like it. Also if possible, if you can gain something. And please give your feedback! I will always be blessed. Hope you have the faith on me...

About the Book:
"I am from a war. I will either end in one, or live it to fight another. It, keeps me going."

17 years after the Battle of Dert, a war had been waged by Wale over Dorin. The vengeance of Dercallume threatens the whole kingdom as he orders for a dragon-fire. The perished hopes of the outnumbered men of Dorin are revived when Roin Avon comes to the war with an oblivious sword, the Stalwart. Thought to be forged with a soul by alchemy, it is the mightiest weapon in the whole of Darthé that helps them to evade the war and run into exile. They head to the Frozen Kingdom for the Frozen Games, which if won, would let them the strongest weapon of the kingdom.

"Who am I? I am an Outlander. This is not what I should be."

Supposed to be the last Outlander of the Outlandish race who are people with half souls, Roin’s existence will prove threat to the rule. And with the unfulfilled vengeance of the mad-man, evil forces are allying and preparing for a war somewhere in the West. 
Roin must confront the truth and find answers to his questions, and lead the comradeship of his fellowmen to the other kingdoms, while the darker minds are prevailing and aiming for a crown much craved for.


22 August, 2015

#SpecialFeature :: #ShortStory - Conversation Starters by C G Salamander


*** Special Feature - August 2015 ***


About the Book:
NIGEL THE LAST BRIT IN INDIA
There is chaos and pandemonium in the streets of Madras, and it is up to Nigel (an officer of the Imperial Police) to restore order to the city... only he hasn't quite learned about India's Independence. Yet.

GAYATRI AND THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY VEGETABLES
When the newest and most successful religion (Cabbagism) threatens to bring about the destruction of the world, it is up to a melancholic zombie and a collection of rowdy farm animals to save the earth.

ALIENS, DINOSAURS, PORCUPINES
A porcupine, after setting out on a journey away from home, falls in love with an armadillo. 

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CONVERSATION STARTERS:


“...All this is true, more or less.”

They were my friend's words, not mine. But we'll just have to take his word for it.

A long time ago, a friend of mine told me that words came from somewhere else. But I never listened to him, which might have had something to do with him being a little different.

My friend, he wasn't like you and I. He was disfigured and damaged, perhaps the only thing human about him was the way he spoke. He did however have a wild imagination.

He was the sort of person who lived inside his head, but at times he'd let creativity superimpose onto reality.

This one time, when he stayed over at my place, he started talking to himself – it was the first time I heard him say anything... and strangely enough, I can remember his words as though they were my own.

'...when I close my eyes I see a golden castle with crimson wasps fluttering about, and when I open them, they're still there. I see the wasps whispering words into ears and placing sentences onto lips, but no one ever takes notice of them... they're even doing it right now!'

Eventually I did work up the nerve to ask him about the wasps and he told me. Although in retrospect, I wish I'd never asked.  

He called them conversation-starters, and this is all he told me about them.

'...Conversation-starters are the people who help you when you're at a loss for words. You cannot see them nor can you feel their presence, though if you close your eyes and listen carefully you can almost hear them whisper. And only once you've heard them can you see what they look like. The conversation-starters are tiny people who linger around the corner of your eyes – dancing with your floaters. They are unlike anything you've ever seen before; Kafkaesque, humanoid wasps clothed in words. The men wear phrases for pants and idioms for shirts while the women drape themselves with metaphors and similes.  

The conversation-starters are present whenever someone's in need of a conversation. They've been around since the dawn of time, and were responsible for the first roar that came out of a dinosaur’s jaws. They convinced the caveman to put down his club, and continued to talk us through the course of history. Even today, you are certain to find them at almost every cafe or boardroom or cabinet meeting. You can even find them hiding under the tables of classrooms in schools and colleges.

You're guaranteed to find them whenever an awkward teen is too shy to talk to the girl he likes, or when a girl stretches her arm out to let her date know it's okay for him to hold it. They bolster men who are too nervous to propose, and there's even a special team of conversation-starters for every parent who has abandoned their child and is trying desperately to get back in touch with them.

The conversation-starters can speak over a thousand different languages, including various dialects of animalspeak. They often take on the role of mediators between humans and animals, and let us know if our dogs are hungry, or sad, or excited; they translate their movements, habits and mannerisms into words and put them into our subconscious, and at times they also help us discern between barks and whimpers...

But the job of a conversation-starter isn't always sunshine and butterflies. Sometimes they have to do things they don't want to. Their job is not to question the nature of the conversation, but to make the conversation happen.

There are times when a conversation-starter must provide politicians with lies to present to the hungry or help quarreling couples list out the vices of partners. But perhaps the saddest part of their job is delivering grievous news about soldiers who won't be returning home.

Even right now there are conversation-starters lingering around the emergency rooms of hospitals, swarming around doctors with grim expressions on their faces. Only the most senior conversation-starters are allowed to deliver the hurtful news of a child's death.

Sometimes when you're feeling down and lonely, the conversation-starters sneak into your ears and whisper comforting things to you. They disguise their voices to sound like yours, so that you don't get startled.

Almost everyone is assigned a personal conversation-starter.

They start working the minute you wake up and stay with you throughout the day; sometimes they drive tiny vehicles and park them inside your mouths – which is also why we yawn before and after we sleep. Our conversation-starters watch over us and become parts of our identity. They don't grow old, and they never take credit for the sweet things you whispered on your first date – although they may bring it up with their colleagues during their lunch hours. These tiny people have known you since the day you uttered your first word, and will remain by your side until the day you die...  

And as our voices grow older, so do theirs. They stay by our sides till we draw our last breaths, and get reassigned the minute we die. The only time a conversation-starter is ever allowed to talk, is when a dying man's last words needs completion.

They've been around for millions of years and almost never die. I should have never asked him about his world. He stopped existing the moment our conversation ended.


--- The End ---

© C G Salamander, 2015, All Rights Reserved.

About the Author
It was exactly fifteen years ago that C G Salamander realized he was different from all the other Chinese Giant Salamanders. As a child C G Salamander hated living in the muddy crevices along the river banks, and so he decided to leave the Yangtze river and set out on a quest to find himself.

He spent days travelling across the vast terrains of china and finally reached the foothills of the Himalayas. With nowhere to go, and equipped with a childlike sense of wonder for a compass, C G Salamander began scaling the Himalayas where he would later enroll himself in a monastery. During his time in the mountains, he was taught how to read and write by foreigners who’d come to partake in the mountain’s rich culture and cheap herbage.

He spent most of his time in meditation, and eventually learned how to move objects with his mind.After spending a decade in the Himalayas, C.G Salamander traveled south to the city of Chennai, and has remained there ever since. He now spends his time telekinetically moving pens and pencils across paper.

Contact the Author:


Giveaway
1 Lucky Indian Resident will win a Paperback Copy of Palm's Foster Home for Peculiar Stories