Saturday, June 24, 2017 1 Comments

Anything But Books Tag




It's been a long time since I've written a tag post. Okay, let me rephrase it. It's been a long time since anybody tagged me. Thanks to Shantala who tagged me for this interesting tag post called 'Anything But Books Tag'. 

You have to answer some interesting questions that are not related to books. So, here it goes:

Name a cartoon(s) that you love.

I used to watch Tom and Jerry. Now, I watch whatever my 4yo likes (However, now he has upgraded his choice to 'regional' News channels, I wonder why). However, I like watching Max and Ruby, Motu Patlu and Peppa Pig.

What is your favorite song right now?

My current favourites are:
‘Channa Mereya’ (I can't get enough of it. I love Arijit Singh’s singing right from the Fame Gurukul days)

What could you do for hours (that isn’t reading)?

Internet browsing. If you think it’s reading in some way, then it would be watching TV, alone. 

What is something you love to do that your followers would be surprised by?

Followers? Don't know if anyone would be surprised, but I love singing and I can sing well (Not a very good singer though). Sometimes, I keep humming same song that I annoy myself.

And, I love interpreting my dreams (I mostly remember them).

What is your favorite unnecessarily specific thing to learn about (this can do with books, I guess)?

Learning is beautiful, and I am a careful learner. I am learning to write better (Love to read on writing posts. Sometimes, sharing my On Writing experiences). I want to learn watercolour painting. (I have done quite a few. I know they are childish. But am I not courageous enough to share these?).

What is something unusual you know how to do?

I can touch my nose with my tongue. Can you do that?

Name something you’ve made in the last year (and show us, if you can).

This questions makes me feel ashamed because I can’t make anything (except my 4 yo’s craft projects.)

What is your most recent personal project?

My second book (Working on the first draft) and weight loss (Okay, it seems to be a never ending project but this time I’m serious). Working on some easy, small fitness goals.

Tell us something you think about often (maybe while staring out of windows).

I have an always occupied mind. I can’t recall when I am not thinking anything. Maybe, when I am engrossed in an interesting book?). I still think about my first book. About writing. Ephemeral ideas and 'I wish, what if' thoughts make my mind a mishmash or if I can say, a Farrago :). 

At this point of time, it’s mostly about my second book. Scenes, dialogues, situations…

Give us something that’s your favorite, but make it something oddly specific, not like your favorite food, but like your favorite food when you’ve been studying for hours and forgot to eat. Or, you know, something like that.

Studying for hours and forgot to eat? Well, it hasn’t happened. In fact, I used to keep several packets of biscuits and cakes while studying. But, my attention hovered around those packets and I couldn't focus until I finished them off!

Actually, I didn’t get this question. Still answering. I am fond, extremely fond of anything that's sweet or made from milk. 

That’s all from my side. I am tagging Kanchana, Namrata, Gayatri, Preethi, Harshita, Sakshi, Arti, Jyoti. Consider yourself tagged if you are reading this post. It's a fun tag and you would like to do it, won't you? Please leave your links if you decide to do it. Would love to hear your answers. 






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Saturday, June 17, 2017 3 Comments

Book Review: The Tree With A Thousand Apples by Sanchit Gupta





A Poem From The Book
.
.

'Stand for your right',
You tell me,
And when I do
You beat me down
Break my bones
And crush my soul?
I may raise my voice
Close my fist, and demand;
Or seek and desire
With polite words and a patient heart
So that you and I can live in peace
Forever, I wish;
You should pray
I choose the latter


The Tree With A Thousand Apples by Sanchit Gupta (Niyogi Books) is my third book that's based on Kashmir and its people, their lives.

The author says the incidents are inspired by true events, and he has visited Kashmir and met people to know the culture, lifestyle and their problems. It shows. The book seems well researched.

The Tree With A Thousand Apples is a poignant, heartbreaking story of three childhood friends - Deewan Bhat, Safeena Malik and Bilal Ahanagar, living in Kashmir - their families so close - at the time of insurgency.

'For us, Deewan bhai, whatever it takes,' says Bilal.

As the conditions in Kashmir worsen, Deewan and his family have to leave Kashmir for the sake of a safe life while Safeena whose mother becomes a 'collateral damage', and Bilal are left with no other option but to learn to live in the dark battlefield that the paradise, Kashmir has become.

After 20 years, Destiny brings them together and they try to fix things in their own possible ways. And then one day, a *letter* - a dangerous letter - comes that brings sea changes in the circumstances and eventually their lives.

So, what happens? What this letter is all about? How their lives transform? What about their friendship? What about the brewing love? You will have to read the book to find these answers. Finding these answers would be a moving journey, I can say that.

The author has an interesting writing style. The language is beautiful and clean, narration quite smooth. The life of Kashmir is very well described. The atmosphere of insurgency, every aspect and impact, is captured well. The story is peppered with regional language but it has a helpful footnotes (plus a glossary).

Here are some thought-provoking quotes :

'You brought your Indian Identity Card? It proves that you are an Indian.'
'Who else am I?'

'Why do you worry, the curfew is over.'
'You foolish children! Curfew is never over.'

'It was too ambitious to think ahead. It was too luxurious to be alive.'

However, in order to capture the essence of Kashmir and rage of insurgency, the author has missed the protagonists' personal feeling (and its development) for each other. Also, the *letter* (I mentioned above) confused me. I wondered (and wanted to know) what caused that sudden provocation.

But over all, it was a beautiful, thought-provoking and engrossing read. Very well written. Recommended to any book lover, no matter what your preferred genres are.


I received this book from Writer's Melon for an honest review.





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Thursday, June 15, 2017 2 Comments

Self Editing On Your Mind? Try These 8 Practical And Effective Methods



‘I am not a very good writer, but I am an excellent rewriter.’ – James A. Michener

For a writer, I believe, this is a very good quality. 

Writing is all about re-writing and editing, and careful editing is the essence of writing. No matter how beautiful your writing is, it loses its charm if it has silly errors in it. Also, good editing is not just for published books. It should be practiced even before submitting your manuscript to the editors. It enhances your chances to get noticed.

It’s true that hiring a professional editor is always a better idea because it’s a little difficult to spot your own mistakes and get merciless towards something that you simply adore.

But, self editing is not that difficult. Also, when it comes to hiring a paid editor, you may face two problems :
1. You have to choose wisely, after thorough research because there’s no guarantee of great results.
2. Money. When you are going for traditional publishing, you find spending money on editing unnecessary. And, if you are going with self/paid publishing, you consider it as extra expense.

However, in any case, your manuscript should be error-free. Period.

So are you writing a book? Self-Editing on your mind? Read my article on Writer's Melon. I have shared some practical and effective methods. You may find these helpful. Before I start, I must tell you that these are the tips that worked for me or something I skipped doing and regretted later.

Read The Full Article HERE

You may read my other recently published articles –  






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Monday, June 12, 2017 10 Comments

The Curious Case Of Déjà Vu





Lord Ram refused blatantly to take Sita along when going for his 14 Years exile, but Sita was adamant, especially when she heard that Lakshman was accompanying him.

Out of reflex, she said, 'I go with you in every Ramayan, then why not in this Ramayan?'
She surprised herself. 'Every' Ramayan?

Was that a case of déjà vu, which means 'already seen' or 'been there before'?

Life is a vast cycle of occurrences. And mythically, History does repeat itself. Every moment we are living now has been lived before and it will be lived in future. Exactly the same. And, the cycle goes on. Isn't it spooky? I wonder if this is the reason of déjà vu.

It happens with me a lot. I still remember the first time (probably) I felt it in my childhood. I was sitting on the threshold of a door, my feet crossed in the corridor that stretched along and my eyes were on the sunny courtyard. And right then, my grandmother said something to me. I looked at her and she was smiling. This was the moment! I felt that it has happened before. Obviously, talking to my grandmother and her smile was not new, but that exact setting, our positions and the moment made me feel like that.

Also, while listening to any song, certain tune or lyric creates a sudden imagery, an unknown picture, place or setting in my mind, and then a flood of emotions hit me. Like I have seen that setting before. Like I had been to that place before. Like it is related to my life.

Is this anything psychological, something related to the (dis)functioning of our brain? Or something related to previous/next life?  Does this happen to you? Do you think I am insane?


Sharing with Chatty Blogs

P.S: Maybe this post seems unconvincing, but if you like reading romance with convincing situations and realistic characters, you will like my book, We Will Meet Again. It has been selected for KDP promotions by Amazon, so you can get your kindle copy @ a very attractive price of INR 24.75!






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Thursday, June 1, 2017 11 Comments

It Hurts



Image from Haiku My Heart

Crimson sky of love
                Turns dark, colours fade slowly
                      Fake feelings sneak in

The words she heard were not meant for her ears. This revelation was purely accidental, but some accidents are eye openers. She thought.

All her kaleidoscopic dreams started to merge with a black patch of despair. Just like the darkness of this silent night where the voice resonated without any barriers.

Why can't love be as clear as any other emotions? Why do people double cross? She had heard somewhere that real artists don't starve. Fabricating emotions is an art, isn't it?

It hurt and it was deeper and more painful because this emotional laceration was intentional.



Written for: Three Word Wednesday
                        Write Tribe

PS: My book, We Will Meet Again, a contemporary romance, got selected for KDP promotions by Amazon. You can get it @ a fab 75% discount!

From :
Amazon India
Amazon.Com


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Thursday, May 25, 2017 9 Comments

I Trust You





Niyati flinched the moment Shukla aunty left her house. She hastily walked towards her room, trying to avoid any cross-questioning from her mother.

‘Niyati,’ her mom called.

Niyati turned to look at her mother, feeling nervous. ‘It doesn’t matter what others say,’ her mother said. ‘I trust you, completely!’ Her smile reflecting warmth. ‘Come here.’ Her mother settled on the sofa. 

‘You know what, criticism is inevitable. Take it as a challenge. It encourages you. It makes you strong.’


Niyati gaped at her mother, she could feel her tension melting. ‘So I managed to fool you.' Niyati thought as she forced a smile.


Sharing with Write Tribe
                      Three Words Wednesday


PS: If you like reading contemporary romance, if you like realistic characters and convincing situations, you will like my book, We Will Meet Again. If you are Kindle Unlimited subscriber, You can read it for FREE. Do read and please share your views (On Amazon and Goodreads). Honest feedback is really important for a writer.




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Tuesday, May 9, 2017 13 Comments

Tricks For Distraction-Free Writing




In my opinion, the most challenging thing is to take a start - that's finishing your first draft. If you are a new writer, you can read my post, 6 Reasons You Can't Finish Your First Draft.

You are an achiever if you are a disciplined writer. Being a disciplined writer is tough. There are various distractions that inhibit the flow of your writing. I have tried and discovered some tricks for distraction-free writing.

Don't Wait For The Right Time

Whatever free time you get, sit down and write (even if it's 100 words). You don't realize how much time you waste just waiting for the right, relaxed and uninterrupted time.

Use Paper-Pencil/Pen

You don't (necessarily) need to open your computer/laptop. It's difficult to shut-up the editor in you - ignore the errors, those red-green-blue lines, that backspace/delete key. Even if you type in your document, turn off the spell-check. I prefer using pencil and notebook. I have written this post in my notebook in just 5 minutes before I typed.

Use Timer - It Works!

Set it for just 5-6 minutes and write. You will write 100-125 words approximately. Just make sure you have plotted the scene/description/dialogues before you start writing. It's important to write but meaningful writing is more important. Your story should make progress. Scribbling just anything won't be helpful when it comes to finishing your first draft (of novel/short story/article). Free writing is for overcoming writer's block (I don't believe in Writer's Block or forced writing).

Make a promise that you would do whatever distracts you most when your time is up. Take a break after this short writing session and then come back again with the timer (It's a great motivation, trust me).

One more thing that disturbs is that you think your writing, scenes or dialogues are not good enough. It's normal. Don't think about it. Trust me, you will get plenty of wonderful ideas later. Writing is all about re-writing.

So, what distracts you when you are writing? What's your trick to beat them?


Sharing with Chatty Blogs @ Shanaya Tales.






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Wednesday, April 26, 2017 5 Comments

6 Reasons You Can't Finish Your First Draft




When you plan to do something, the toughest step is to start off. It's scary, I know. But, once you dare to take that first step, everything seems to fall into place.

In writing, finishing your first draft is that first, crucial step. But, it's difficult, completing the first draft. After my first book, We Will Meet Again, I am struggling to write the first draft of my second book.

Reasons? Many. Here, from my own experience, I am pointing out some.

You don't have a story

In a sense, everyone can be a storyteller. But, having vague ideas and having a clear plot are two different things. If you want to write a novel, be clear about the story. Creating chapter outline helps you to progress. Make a rough route of the story. And, in my opinion, you should know the end of your story because if you don't know the destination of your journey (story), you may find yourself wandering.

You are over-thinking

It's true that you should be clear about the plot and the ending, but a novel is not just about a story and ending. Execution of your story makes a lot of difference. How do you want to take your story forward in an interesting way. Creating interesting incidents and dialogues - BUT, you don't need to know all of these when you take a start. Sometimes, your story, characters take the command and you just go with the flow. Sometimes, you get inspired by some real-life incidents or observation. You can add these things later.

In my novel, there are several things/incidents/even characters that I added after finishing my (messy) first draft. So, relax. Don't think you can have the entire story graph in your mind. Research is important but not in the first drat. You need to collect (and save) your thoughts and ideas first - this is the gist of writing first drafts. Stop over-thinking and start writing.

You are waiting for the right time

You may call it procrastination, and this is the biggest hurdle on the path of your writing journey.


There's no right time or every time is the right time if you think like that. I have wasted a lot of time after my first book. It amazes me when I see some writers working on several manuscripts.  But, admiring other writers won't help you until you take inspiration and start writing. 

You don't have to write x thousand words daily. Keep your goal small. It's okay if you write 200-300 words. Just make sure that your story makes progress everyday if you are working on a manuscript.

You seek perfection in your first draft

Attaining perfection is a myth. You will always find some faults in your manuscript. And, you will always someone better than you.

It's perfectly normal if you think your first draft is bad. Thinking that it's really good is highly delusional. Yes, First drafts are supposed to be messy. There is a term called 'Editing' and this term has a serious meaning. :)

Your first draft is not your final craft. You will get many chances to make corrections - you will have to revise and edit your manuscript - several rounds. Trust me. Editing is basically re-writing. So, don't seek perfection. Write your story first. Then, edit. If you can't resist editing while writing your first draft, your craft will go nowhere or even if it goes, it will move at a snail's pace. Want that?

You can't manage your time

Time management is all about your lifestyle. If you can't manage your time in 24 hours, you won't be able to manage if you got 48 hours in a day.

There's only rule that works - your own rule. Try and see what works for you. Early morning schedule or late night schedule. Avoid watching television (However, watching good movies is good for your writing.You can read about some good films I watched recently). Try to finish your chores on time. Try to fix a schedule. It helps.

You can't detach yourself from internet

This is the greatest distraction. I know it's tough as internet is addictive but controlling your online availability can be fruitful for your writing. We are writers because of our writing, not our online presence. Internet is useful but when you are writing, stay away from social media.

What works?

As Namrata (author of Metro Diaries 1 & 2 and many other anthologies) suggests, transcription (recording your thoughts/scenes/ideas when you feel lazy or doing something else, and ideas flash) works. Have you ever tried this?

Find a writing partner. Set a daily writing challenge (it's okay if it's 300-400 words) and share your word count and try to beat each other. This healthy competition is very motivating and actually works! Trust me.



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Tuesday, April 4, 2017 2 Comments

My Favourite Non-Fiction Books (Even Though I Don't Enjoy Reading NF)


I am an avid reader, but I enjoy reading fiction. I am not fond of non-fiction, but interestingly, I have read some non-fiction that really turned out to be interesting, insightful and helpful. Here, I am sharing four non-fiction books that I really liked. Moreover, you can re-read these books for motivation anytime, any chapter.

Kissing the Demon by Amrita Kumar (Harper Collins India)

Image result for kissing the demons by amrita kumar

I received this book from Writer's Melon for an honest review. As a writer, I find writing tips/quotes interesting. So, there was no reason to not get this book to read. And, I'm glad I read this book. You can read my detailed review, '6 Reasons Kissing the Demon is a Must Have For Writers' on Writer's Melon's website.




Don't Diet - 50 Habits of Thin People by Kavita Devgan (Jaico Books)

Kavita Devgan is one of the nicest person I have ever known (online - yes, I have never met her). When I got a chance to review this book, I grabbed it immediately as I find the theme of health and fitness interesting. However, there are chances that such books turn to be preachy, factual and boring, but here this books scores high. The author's friendly voice makes it interesting and motivating read. You can read my review (4 Reasons Don't Diet Will Keep You Motivated For Weight LossHere. Must have for those who are conscious about health and fitness.



Our Moon Has Blood Clots by Rahul Pandita (Penguin Random House)

This was the first non-fiction that I read. I found the title intriguing (and, for me, title matters). It's a memoir - deep and touching, enlightening and sometimes, shocking!

If you are interested in the history of Kashmir, you must read this. You can read my review Here



Everything You Wanted to Know About Freelance Journalism by Kavitha Rao and Charukesi Ramadurai (Westland Books)

Kavitha Rao is a very successful freelance writer who frequently writes for international markets. If you are a new or aspiring freelance writer/journalist, you must read this book. It would be really helpful as it carries several tips and ideas of successful (International level) freelance writers. Will help you to understand the national and international market.

Have you read any of these? How did you like them? Which one is your favourite non-fiction?






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Tuesday, March 7, 2017 9 Comments

Books I Love - Do You Reread Books?




'My Favourite Book' - these simple 3 words have very broad meaning. If you are an avid reader, you can't name just one or two, not even three books as your favourites. Different books affect you differently. Sometimes, three completely different books can evoke similar emotions.

Reading books is the fastest way to travel to different places, lives, without actually going anywhere. I think reading is one of the greatest forms of love. It keeps you happy. It diminishes your worries (for the time being). And, it has the capability to keep you awake all night.

There are many books I have loved (especially when I experimented with the genres) . But, I believe that apart from neat writing (of course) good books are those which keep you engaged throughout. You may close the book for some time, but it must have the hook that pulls you the moment you are free. While reading that book you don't care about your favourite TV show or social media. You don't want to sleep without finishing the book. The characters stay with you for a long time. And, most importantly, a book that you can read again!

No matter how much I like the book, I (usually) don't re-read any book. Usually because there are four books that I have read twice - just after finishing the first time! My first book that I re-read was Swami by Saratchandra, my all time favourite (Modified by Mannu Bhandari). It's a quick read, a simple yet beautiful take on love, marriage and family.

Alampanah is one of my favourite romances. A very popular serial 'Farmaan' was based on this novel. I regret watching that serial after reading the book. It badly affects my imagination. I don't watch the movie if I have read the book and vice-versa.

Then, it's Shukra Grah Par Dhawa by Prof. Diwakar that I had found in our mini library. It's a science fiction about an Indian scientist and his adventurous trip to Shukra Grah (Planet Venus) where he encounters a mad scientist. I read it first as a teenager. I re-read it after my marriage and loved again!

And, This Matter of Marriage by Debbie Macomber (one of my favourite authors. I love her delightful love stories).

Last year, I read a book Love Virtually. I couldn't believe I enjoyed reading emails - just emails! I was quick to order the sequel - Every Seventh Wave, and enjoyed that too. I feel I can re-read these books someday.

Have you read any of these? Do you re-read books? Share your absolute favourites!

Written this post for Blog Chatter (Prompt - Books I Love)




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Saturday, March 4, 2017 0 Comments

Book Review: Zoon by Selina Sen





Na pooch ehd-e ulfat, ek khwaab pareshan tha
Do not ask of the time of love, it was a bewildering dream

Faiz Ahmed Faiz


Set in the Kashmir valley, Zoon by Selina Sen (Westland Books) is a long journey of film making. It's also about love (two love stories both set in Kashmir but in different era), loss and betrayal.

Joya Banerjee gets an opportunity to work with Shantanu Rai, a reputed filmmaker who is planning his dream movie, Zoon that's based on a 16th century Kashmiri poet and musician, Habba Khatoon. With the progress of Zoon, Joya's relationship with Rashid, a Kashmiri Historian (who is also working on the project) progresses too, slowly and passionately.

A shocking incident brings the shooting to a halt. Brimming with guilt and a deep sense of loss, Joya returns to the valley after 10 years, to complete the movie, Zoon. How would she manage to create the same effect after 10 long years? Would she be able to complete the film despite the adverse working conditions in the valley? And, what about Rashid and their lost love?

Read this book to know the answers.

Humko maloom hai jannat ki haqeeqat lekin
Dil ko khush rakhne ko Ghalib ye khayal achha hai

Zoon has an intriguing plot. Who wouldn't want to read two different love stories rolled into one with a mesmerizing backdrop of Kashmir? But, this book lacks the passion and beauty that are required for such a story line. 

The first part of the book is painfully slow and dull. It reads more factual than fictional and imaginative. Overall, it seems like 'the making of Zoon'. It takes more than 160 pages to happen something shocking and significant (Had it not been for review, I would have left this book unfinished). No doubt, after that incident, the book picks up the pace and turns really interesting and gripping (So, the patience was fruitful).

Still, there's something amiss about the storytelling and the setting even though the language is good. The situations and characters are underdeveloped. There's no spark between Joya and Rashid. There's no expression of their feeling. The title character, Zoon aka Habba Khatoon hasn't got any exposure. I wanted to know more about her. I liked the character of Rashid but again this one is a half-baked character. Joya is the main protagonist, but she fails to mark any impression. Nothing concrete reflects from her personality. 

Also, the story covers the time-frame of 1989-1999, but the timeline is confusing. I really liked the starting chapter, maybe prologue of the book. The valley and its life are very well described in the second half. Poems by Habba Khatoon are nice but not sparkling. I did not like the cover. I mean why would anyone design such a boring cover for this intense story set in Kashmir valley? 

I picked this book with a lot of expectations, so for me, this was a disappointing read. You may pick this book if you are looking for a different plot, you like History and intense reads.





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Monday, February 20, 2017 5 Comments

Revisiting Memory Lane





Cursed by misfortune, 
Crushed by desolation
Clutched by the void within
I seek out a path to walk down memory lane
The familiar sunshine of smiles,
Bouquet of joy greet me
Oh, the whiff of bliss and solace!
Missed opportunities and zest clustered
A bunch of follies
Josh me
Laden with nostalgic emotions
Memories reach my eyes, 
Gleaming
Just like dewdrops in the sunshine


Through the blurred vision, I see a girl sitting under a tree. Her long skirt sprawled around the stone she is sitting on, her curls fluttering in the gentle breeze. She is my (much) younger, brighter, happier and care-free version. How happy I feel to see her! She looks at me and smiles brightly, the smile reaching her twinkling eyes. Golden sunshine filtering through the tree branches makes her face radiant. Then, she frowns. 'Why are you crying?' she asks innocently. Oh! I forgot I was crying. I shrug.

'Does crying change anything? Does it solve any problem?' she asks, I am surprised at her wisdom. But, you see, I am her older version, more experienced and wiser.

'No. But, crying gives you two important things. Some solace and strength. Tears rejuvenate your soul,' I say with a teacher-like look.

She doesn't understand this fact, and I am glad.

'Okay, can you pass me some happiness?' I ask.

'No. How can I? They're mine. You've had your share of happiness. But, you are supposed to create new forms of happiness. Haven't you created any?'

Her question feels like teasing. How wise she sounds. 'Can I have some wisdom?' I ask recalling the bunch of missed opportunities and follies.

'Oh yes!' She picks up a pebble and throws in the river nearby, the expanse so familiar.

'Why? Haven't I had my share of wisdom too?'

She rises to her feet, curling her lower lip. 'Maybe, but you can still take it. You have earned that out of your experiences, haven't you?'

Oh yes! Happiness is ephemeral, keeps changing, but wisdom - it remains with you. It keeps growing with your experiences, choices, mistakes. You just need to pay attention, and learn.

I open my mouth to say something, but vision starts blurring making her slim figure sway. I am back to the reality. But, I haven't returned empty handed. This revisit was a gentle reminder. The momentary happiness. New enthusiasm. And yes, I have to create my new share of happiness! I smile. Do I look like her?


Sharing with Blog Chatter (Prompt - Down the Memory Lane)
                      Poets United












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Thursday, February 9, 2017 23 Comments

Warm Memories





With every wave comes
A gush of warm memories 
Carved like names on rocks.

Fragrant emotions 
Wash over me, I smile
Like a crimson dusk

Screaming solitude 
Lingering sadness, I weap
Like a dewy dawn


Sharing with: Daily Post (Solitude) 
                   Haiku My Heart 
             Poets United 


P.S.: Wanted to say something about my first book, We Will Meet Again...The ebook version will be free for Kindle readers on this Valentine's Day. So, if you enjoy reading delightful romance with relatable characters and situations, my book can be a enjoyable read for you. Please download and read. I'll be waiting for your feedback. It's very important for a new author. Thank you for visiting! :)




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Saturday, February 4, 2017 3 Comments

Book Review: My Father is a Hero by Nishant Kaushik



'Your failures can never weigh as much as the burden of your regrets.' : My Father is a Hero 

I really liked this quotation. How true is this!

The story of My Father is a Hero  (Srishti Publishers) by Nishant Kaushik is based on  'Father-Daughter' relationship where a single father, Vaibhav, is willing to go to any lengths for his daughter's (Nisha) happiness.

That's all.

The first thing you notice in a book is its cover, and the cover of this book is very boring. So boring that I didn't want to read this book initially. But, so many good reviews prompted me to sign up for a review copy.

Now, about the story - the story of My Father is a Hero is very plain and predictable, without any twists and turns. It takes 55-60 pages to happen something that you may care about. However, last part of the book is interesting. 

Writing/narration is okay, but characterization is vague. Except Vaibhav and Nisha, not a single character leaves a mark. In my opinion, the character of Nisha's mother who seldom appears in Vaibhav's or Nisha's thoughts, deserved more space in the story.

Vaibhav is a good father indeed. I liked the way he handles her daughter so patiently. The author has described his restlessness and worries well. But, Nisha's character is very annoying. She 'never' behaves like a ten year old kid. I needed to remind myself that Nisha is a kid, not a grown up girl. She goes to salons and restaurants (even in Australia she goes to a place by herself without telling her father), and her 'single' father (who drops and picks her from school every single day) doesn't know. There's a certain scene/incident in the book that somewhat angered me. I don't know if ten year olds nurture/bother about such feelings that has been shown in the book.

Descriptions are inappropriate, sometimes. Like, an anxious father who has been summoned to the school (for a serious issue), visits the principal's chamber, and the way he notices another visitor's, a woman, attire (maybe it's from FabIndia, he thinks), her pumps, her accessories, handbag's brand etc. was a little odd. Maybe, it's just me, but I'm not sure if anyone would notice someone so minutely when they're nervous/worried.

Overall, for  me, it was an average read. If you are looking for a quick and easy read or a travel partner, you may take this book as an option.


I received this book from Writer's Melon for an honest review.



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Thursday, February 2, 2017 6 Comments

Best Movies I Watched In 2016

There was a time when I was a big television buff. I could just watch TV all day. Not anymore, thankfully. I have realized that it's additive, robs your time and makes you lazy. But I do watch selected movies (And current season of Indian Idol. I really like this team of Judges. Wonderful singers - Khuda Baksh is my favourite. Feels like old times).

As a writer, I believe that good movies are fruitful. The dialogue delivery, expressions, the way characters react. They stir your imagination and generate new ideas. When it comes to movies, Star Movies Select is my favourite.

I watched some really good movies last year. So, here it goes -


The Descendants




It's a touching family drama. This movie tells the poignant story of Matt King (George Clooney), who suddenly finds himself in a very difficult situation. It depicts his struggle as a father, his dilemma as a husband. George Clooney has played the character of an emotionally drained husband and father brilliantly. He looks so natural. Shailene Woodley who plays his spoilt daughter performed well, looks good.

The end of this movie is very satisfying, and I loved the last scene. Fulfilling.


The Hundred-Foot Journey




It's a romantic/family drama that involves cuisines of two different countries and cultures, and a sweet love story. This movie features Om Puri, Juhi Chawla and several other Indian artists. It's a nice story of an Indian chef and his journey (and struggle) while he and his family try to settle in France, and decides to open an Indian restaurant across the street from a very popular French restaurant.

It's a must watch for those who enjoy books/movies that involve food/travel. And, the younger female lead, Charlotte Le Bon, is so beautiful!

Lucy




Scarlett Johansson is now one of my favourite actresses. Her performance, as the title character, in this science fiction/action movie is brilliant! She plays a woman who gains psychokinetic abilities (and starts to behave strangely) after a rare drug is absorbed into her blood. The end of this movie is particularly exciting and thrilling.


Orphan




This movie was kind of googly. A bizarre story-line with some unexpected twists.
An innocent little girl who is an orphan has been adopted by a loving family. I thought it would be a touching family drama but whoa! What an intriguing/gripping psychological thriller it was!


A Walk in the Clouds





It's a delightful love story/family drama. Ten minutes, and I realized that Govinda-Urmila starrer Kunwaara was an idiotic version of this lovely film. I really liked the way the title 'A Walk in the Clouds' has been used in a dialogue. The locations are beautiful.

Amendment:

Adam



This is the story of Adam who suffers from Aspergers Syndrome and his unique relationship with Beth, his neighbour who is a storyteller.

I don't know what to say more. I just liked this movie a lot.

Date Night





I forgot about this one but I really enjoyed watching this movie that I caught running accidentally. Date Night is a comedy/action movie, starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey. I find Steve Carell very funny.
To break the monotony of their married life, Phil (Steve Carell) decides to take his wife (Tina Fey) to a trendy restaurant for a date, and they get caught up in a criminal case due to mistaken identity.

This one-night-story was a fun watch!

Have you watched any of these? What was your favourite movies that you watched last year? Do share.


Sharing with Shanaya Tales' Chatty Blogs





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Tuesday, January 31, 2017 0 Comments

Book Review: Dilli Darbaar by Satya Vyas








'उस रोज़ दो घटनाएं हुई थीं। दिन में मोहल्ले वालों ने शुक्ला जी की टीवी पर रामायण देखा और रात में महाभारत हो गया.'

सत्य व्यास रचित  'दिल्ली दरबार' की कहानी कुछ ऐसे शुरू होती है, और पूरी किताब में आपको कई ऐसी या इससे भी बेहतर पंच लाइने मिल जाएंगी जो आपको मुस्कुराने पर मजबूर देंगी। 

दिल्ली दरबार कहानी है हद से ज्यादा लापरवाह, दिलफेंक आशिक, और चालाक - कुल मिलाकर सर्व अवगुण संपन्न राहुल मिश्र की। ये कहानी है प्यार और दोस्ती की, और हर उस बात की जो एक माध्यम वर्गीय/छोटे शहर के युवाओं से सम्बंधित होती है। 

और कथावाचक है उनके  परम मित्र (और मेरे पसंदीदा पात्र), मोहित जो अपने मित्र से बिलकुल विपरीत स्वाभाव के हैं फिर भी उनका साथ किसी भी परिस्थिति में नहीं छोड़ते। कहानी कहाँ से शुरू की जाये ये समझ नहीं आने के कारण मोहित कहानी शुरू करते है राहुल मिश्र की तुड़ाई से। 

'इसकी शिकायत करते करते प्रिंसिपल रिटायर हो गया। इतनी बार शिकायत आयी है कि इसके कॉलेज में इससे ज्यादा अटेंडेंस तो मेरा होगा।' ये कहना है राहुल के पिताजी का। 

रांची की बेपरवाह ज़िन्दगी को त्याग कर राहुल मिश्र और मोहित पहुचते है... सही पकडे हैं...दिल्ली। पढाई, जिसमे राहुल मिश्र की कोई रूचि नहीं है, छोड़कर वो रुख करते है लड़कियों का, जिसमे उनकी अत्यधिक रूचि है। और फिर शुरू होती है ज़िन्दगी की असल आपाधापी। राहुल मिश्र कैसे-कैसे और कहाँ-कहाँ फसेंगे (फसेंगे ये तो तय है) और स्वाभिक रूप से अपने परम मित्र को फसाएँगे? क्या उन्हें एहसास होगा की संभल जाने में ही भलाई है? क्या उन्हें कभी सच्चा प्यार होगा?

'प्रेम के कारण नहीं होते; परिणाम होते है पर प्रेम में परिणाम की चिंता तबतक नहीं होती जबतक देर न हो जाए।'

ये जानने के लिए आपको पढ़ना होगा दिल्ली दरबार। और अगर आप थ्री इडियट्स या फुकरे जैसी फिल्में पसंद करते हैं (हांलाकि इस किताब की कहानी बिलकुल अलग है) और अगर आप उत्तर भारत से आते हैं, तो आपको ये किताब निश्चिततौर पर पसंद आएगी। मैंने प्रदेश का जिक्र इसलिए किया है किया है क्योंकि इस किताब  के संवादों में प्रादेशिक असर है। बिहार/झारखंड/यूपी की भाषा में 'खांटी बिहारी' संवाद हैं। मगर यही बात आपको गुदगुदा सकती है अगर आप इस प्रदेश से आते हैं।  

ऐसा नहीं कह सकते की कहानी अलग है, मगर उसका प्रस्तुतीकरण अच्छा है। लेखन हल्का-फुल्का और मज़ेदार हैं। कहानी की गति अच्छी है और कई घटनाएं ऐसी हैं जो आपको हँसायेंगी। सभी पात्र/घटनाओं का अपना महत्व है। कहानी का अंत संतोषजनक है हालांकि ये कहानी कोई सन्देश देती नज़र नहीं आती। 

चूँकि इस किताब में कई अंग्रेजी संवाद है, इसलिए  -  I'd like to conclude the review in my usual way. I really enjoyed reading this book. For me, it was a funny, witty and entertaining read!

I received this book from the publisher (Westland Books) for an honest review.



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Friday, January 27, 2017 8 Comments

Book Review: Lanka's Princess by Kavita Kane



Finished yet another mythological fiction, my new favourite genre. Lanka's Princess is Kavita Kane's 4th book (Again by Rupa Publications), however, this is my first book by the author.

Although, Mahabharata is more advanced, complicated and multilayered - basically more interesting, I find the women characters of Ramayana intriguing.

Kavita Kane is known for her lesser known/talked female mythological characters like Urmila, Karna's wife and Menaka, but this time she has chosen a very well known character as her protagonist.

This book tells about Surpanakha, a very significant character of Ramayan; her emotions, sexuality and role in Ramayan - from her point of view.

Lanka's Princess starts with prologue where Krishna meets Kubja, and I loved this part even though I don't like the idea of prologue. The author has portrayed Krishna beautifully!

The setting has been described really well - it creates vivid imagery. Characterization is nice. I particularly liked little Surpanakha's relationship with her grandmother, Taraka who loves her - somehow an ignored child - unconditionally and encourages her wholeheartedly. Also, the scenes where Surpanakha converses with Sita and Urmila were interesting.

'You make the world believe what you are, not believe what the world believes of you.'

Writing is good, of course, however several editing errors were a tad disappointing. Usage of words like cerebral and damn in 'dialogues' felt odd for this genre.The first half of the book is slow and repetitive, but picks up in the second half.  But, the end (including the epilogue) seemed rushed. Some important incidents just pass without much importance they deserved.

The main story starts with Surpanakha's birth, and then, it goes on in a linear way. It seemed more prototypical than imaginative. I didn't find any lesser known anecdotes (except for the prologue)- an important factor for mythology (in my opinion).

Overall, it was a nice read but not as exciting as I had expected it to be. But, if you enjoy mythological fiction, go for it.

I received this book from the publisher for an honest review.



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Sunday, January 15, 2017 6 Comments

9 Things I Have learnt As A First-Time Author - Part 2








For those who don't know me or are visiting my blog for the first time, I have published my first book, We Will Meet Again, last year, and here I am sharing my learning experiences. You may want to read the first part. Sharing the link.

9 Things I've Learnt As A First-Time Author - Part 1

Here goes the second part.

FIRST-TIME AUTHORS - YOU...


SHOULD NOT rush to get your work published.

'Haste is the mother of imperfection' - this old saying still carries a lot of weight. Time is an important factor. Don't waste time but do give your manuscript some time. Let it rest. Then write. Revise. Re-write. Edit.

Have patience. If you think you are very patient, then have some more patience.

SHOULD (read must) Get a Beta Reader.

You should write what you love, but avoid loving what you write. Believe in your story and characters - that's very important - but don't love what you have written.

Get a Beta reader even when you think that your manuscript is perfect, and you don't need one. Trust me, you badly need a Beta reader. Not necessarily a professional who charges hefty amount, but someone who is willing to spend time on your work. Someone who reads a lot especially the genre you are writing in. And, someone who can be honest - brutally honest. You don't have to agree on every point she/he mentions as you know your craft better, but it does help you to see your own story (And, the way it progresses) in a new light. To fix plot holes. You don't want your readers to fall into those big-tiny (plot)holes, do you?

SHOULD NOT  seek perfection in your first draft.

Perfection - let it remain an exciting journey. It will instill a disturbing restlessness in your mind if you try to make it your destination. Please understand, perfection is a mirage.
Don't expect much from your first or even second draft. Finish your manuscript first; it could be good bad or even ugly. Doesn't matter. Collecting your wandering thoughts and ideas, capturing your imagination that crawls in your mind constantly, and clutching those ephemeral flashes of ideas are more important that making your manuscript perfect. You can polish your craft later. And, do polish it later nicely.

SHOULD  Edit your manuscript meticulously (and immaculately).

This is the biggest problem. Not just self published/first-time authors, but even biggies make mistakes. It's wise to hire professional editor (at least for final proofreading), but that can be tricky. There is no 100% guarantee of getting an immaculate, error-free manuscript. You must choose wisely. However, self-editing is possible.

(Careful) Editing is the essence good writing. Writers must take it very seriously and do it very carefully. (Self Editing Tips That Work - it requires another post. Will write it soon).


Tell me what's your take? Are you writing/planning to write your first novel? Or written one already? Please share your views. I'm all ears (err eyes), always ready to learn.




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Saturday, January 14, 2017 0 Comments

Book Review: Someone To Love by Ruchita Misra



I love romance fiction, but it doesn't mean every romance would appeal me. There are some books that hook you so much that you don't care about social media updates. About your favourite movie that's been airing on the television. For me, Someone To Love was one such book. Gone are the days when I wouldn't budge without finishing the book I enjoyed. But, this a book that you would want to finish in one sitting.

I have read Ruchita Misra before - her debut book, The (In)Eligible Bachelor. I really liked the humour in her writing, but this book is a little serious and intense. Usually, authors get repetitive, but I am so pleased to see the growth in Ms. Misra's writing - both style and content-wise for this is very different from her first book, however, I haven't read her book two or three.

Someone To Love is a beautiful portrayal of love and childhood friendship.

This story is about Atharv and Koyal who are childhood friends and are inseparable. Even adulthood could not change their pure relationship until one fateful day, when something strange happens and their beautiful relationship turns ugly. Atharv, utterly confused, fumes with anger, pretends that he hates her, however, Koyal, short-tempered, does something that destroys her life.

Years later, when they are almost settled, they meet in an unexpected way, and their life gets jolted once again. Are they made for each other and don't even realize that? Or have they lost each other forever? What was the reason that distorted their friendship? You need to read the book, and if you like reading romance, if you like emotional tales, you won't be disappointed.

The book is very cleaverly crafted that makes the story unpredictable. 'Cleaverly' because the story is (vastly) inspired by a movie, but I realized this in the second half. And, even when I realized that,  I didn't lose my interest. The writing style, embellished with beautiful thoughts/quotes, is very interesting. The characterization and character development are skillful! I loved the character of Atharv.

The story has been told in multiple points of view (I am not fan of multiple PoV), but it doesn't make the read confusing. Except for Kimberly's POV, I thought every point of view was significant and added something important to the story.

If I have to point something negative in this book, it would be some editing errors as this book comes from a big brand like Harper Collins India. I didn't like the cover much. Also, I didn't get the epilogue. I thought it could have been done more interestingly.

Still, I would say that it was a lovely, engrossing read. Good writing/style, unpredictability, and the ability to grip - as a reader, these three things are important, and this book has all these ingredients of a good read!

Thank you so much, Writer's Melon for sending the review copy for an honest review.




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9 Things I Have learnt As A First-Time Author - Part 1




If you don't know me or visiting my blog for the first time, then I would like to tell you that I published my first book, We Will Meet Again...last year. It's a mature love story of Paridhi and Abhigyan, an eccentric couple in a love-hate relationship. We Will Meet Again is not just about falling in love, it's about believing in love and growing in a beautiful relationship. You may like it if you like relatable characters and convincing situations.

It was a tough and long journey, and a learning experience too. With my book, I have grown. My writing process has changed. My approach is different now.

So, here I am sharing - not preaching - just sharing my learning experience. If you are an aspiring writer, you may find it helpful. If you are a new writer (Like me), please share your learning experiences. And, if you are an experienced writer (And still reading this post), please share your advice - what works best for you.


FIRST-TIME AUTHORS - YOU

SHOULD be very careful about your craft.

Being a debut author doesn't mean you can publish anything, and it would be excusable. Since you can self publish (any day), it does not mean you don't need to polish their work.

Think - think deeply how can you make your craft better.

SHOULD NOT take rejections personally and don't let your enthusiasm diminish. It's natural - rejection - for everything we try to do. Editors are not our enemies. If they reject our work, there must be some reason. We need to understand/find that reason, and work, work, work hard.

SHOULD write in a reader friendly voice

Your writing should be good. Clean, crisp and simple, not flowery. AVOID it. It doesn't work. Write in a manner that readers could connect with, and THIS connection is crucial.

SHOULD NOT save your best for later.

As a first-time author, your future (as a writer) is uncertain. Unlock your imagination, and put your best ideas into your first manuscript. Saving your ideas for your next book is not a good idea. New ideas float everywhere. Listen. Watch. Read. Observe. You will find many. Put your ultimate effort in making your first manuscript good. It's true that we, writers, write books, but eventually, a good book gives birth to a good writer.

SHOULD Try to break the cliche and build cliffhangers.

This is a little difficult especially if you are writing a romance (Like me!). I found it difficult, but I know it's not impossible even for romance. Think, think. It's not that difficult.
Conflict/cliffhangers and unpredictability are two important pillars of a good novel. Don't hesitate to experiment. It gives you a new vision. It offers new ideas. Sometimes, you need to write things that you think you shouldn't. Sometimes, your characters should do something you think they shouldn't.

There's no hard and fast rule for writing. Make your own rules. Again, there's no hard and fast rule for chapter length. Just make sure you end your chapters with a cliffhanger.


To be continued...


So, what do you think? What do you like/dislike in a book especially by first-time (Indian) authors? Please share your views.

Good Bye till We Meet Again. :)

9 Things I have Learnt As A First-Time Author - Part 2






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Tuesday, January 10, 2017 0 Comments

Book Review: A Walk in the Rain by Udai Yadla





A Walk in the Rain…sounds nice. The covers are attractive. The blurb is interesting, and it has got some wonderful reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. So, when Writer's Melon (If You are an avid reader, you must follow this site) announced about the review copy, I signed up immediately. 

A Walk in the Rain by Udai Yadla (Don't know what to write about the publisher as this book has been published by 3-4 publishing houses) falls under romance/action/adventure genre. It tells the story of...many people, but mainly, it's about Surya aka Sunny, a recluse and Saloni, a prostitute.

Sunny is a forlorn (but not whimpering) boy still living in his unpleasant past, still thinking about his lost love - Sandy; Saloni has a troubled life, and she wants to earn a lot of money by any means. Destiny brings them together for a purpose, and then their lives change the track to start a new adventurous journey. The story involves romance, action, vengeance and too many characters.

The plot indeed seems promising, but for me, good plot doesn't work if it isn't well written and executed or has well developed characters. And, this is my biggest problem with this book.

The prologue (However not necessary for this story) is nice and I liked the title/concluding chapter (again, epilogue seems unnecessary), but the story between the prologue and the concluding chapter is scattered and stretched.

The writing is immature. Narration is weak and execution of the story is uncoordinated. You would seldom find any descriptions of surroundings or character's appearance. Characters just meet and talk. And, if you find any, it's mostly unnecessary. Like in the opening chapter, Surya just watches, and watches the rain. He ignores phone calls, and even his office as he watches how it's raining.

Talking about his office, I didn't get it when he is in the office and when he is in school. The story often goes into the past without any indication. One moment you are in the present, and then suddenly, you reading about the past. I did not like the frequent usage of "F" word in dialogues (sometimes, in every second dialogue). Poems (that have long lines/tough words) seem forced.

There are several editing glitches, proofreading/comma errors, and absurd sentences that ruin the reading experience. 

For example, asking, 'Why is your head so hot?' when someone is angry. Or sentences like ''Why does no one come to school today?' Imran fired at Sunny. 'Today is a school Holiday.''
Or 'Am I walking into a suicide?' Or 'How many more times, would I be indebted to her?' Or 'He hadn't expected to encounter him on a holiday and spoil his whole day.' seemed a little odd.

If you are a new reader or if you are a young reader (who likes teenage stories), you may like this book. For me, it was a tiring read, and I am disappointed.






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Sunday, January 8, 2017 0 Comments

Book Review: Rightfully Wrong Wrongfully Right by Varsha Dixit



My first book by Varsha Dixit was Xcess Baggage, and I really liked it! And, I'm waiting for the sequel.

Rightfully Wrong, Wrongfully Right (Rupa Publications) is the third (and probably the last) book in the 'Right-Wrong' series. I haven't read the first book in the series, but I've the second one, 'Wrong Means, Right End', and since I have read this book, Rightfully Wrong...' made sense as I understood the characters. This book can be read as a standalone book, but better if read after reading at least the second book of this series.

Rightfully Wrong, Wrongfully Right is about Gayatri, a rich spoiled, guilt-ridden diva and Viraj, a reserved, mad scientist. Certain circumstances in Gayatri's life make her meet and work with Viraj who works for Nikhil, and has a very difficult and bitter past. They don't start on a pleasant note, but as they get to know each other, their feelings change.

So, what would be the destination of this changed feelings of two entirely different people? What are those situations that bring them close? You will have to read the book to find the answer.

The book starts off well. I liked the character of Sneha (Better than the last book where she was the protagonist) and her bond with her husband, Nikhil, and best friend, Nandini (She was the protagonist in the first book of this series). I liked the way their relationship with Gayatri (Which was not good in the last book) develops. The way they encourage her.

'Everyone has more downs than ups. All it takes is one big successful up and all the downs are ancient history.'

The little twist about cupcakes was nice, and it made me smile! 

But, I didn't understand the character of Viraj. Showing him weird in just one scene doesn't make him mad. This needed to reflect, but it doesn't especially when the book opens with his introduction. His character and his chemistry (and the development of her relationship) with Gayatri lack depth. However, the backstory of Viraj is nicely done and seems convincing.

Considering that this book is author's fifth book, the writing is not as crisp as it was supposed to be. There are unnecessary descriptions and dialogues that don't advance the story. The chapters have names but, they are mostly meaningless. There are several editing glitches, which is disappointing as this comes from a big brand like Rupa Publications.

Overall, for me, it was an okay read. If you like Varsha Dixit's writing, if you like love stories, and if you have read the other books in this series, then you should read this book. It can be a nice travel partner.


I received this book from the publisher for an unbiased review.





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