Happy #WorldPoetryDay, Happy #Nowruz, folks! Happy #blogiversary and happy #bookpublishingday to me

What an exciting day today is! Many occasions falling together. Let me wish you all Happy World Poetry Day! Also a very Happy Nowruz, Persian New Year to those who celebrate it.

Today is my third blogiversary so Happy blogiversary and happy book publishing day to me as I hit publish today after an amount of feeling jittery and jumpy. His Christmas Surprise, Book 2 of Christmas Romance series, will be out soon!

On World Poetry Day, I put together something for my writers’ group FWBA, that I would like to share here.  I don’t usually write poetry so do excuse the floundering 🙂

Write something that shakes the false beliefs
and challenges the dusty claims
Write something that renews the inheritance
of the Earth we have got
Write with courage, hope and originality
which unfailingly aims
To banish darkness of ancient, moldy wisdom
and celebrates new thought

FotorCreated

Write more and create to inspire. Happy writing!

Update: The book link is now live! https://www.amazon.com/His-Christmas-Surprise-romance-Book-ebook/dp/B06XS6XZ7J 

#review 1857 Dust of Ages by Vandana Shanker #TheBookClub 

​1857 Dust of Ages is a slim book with a story woven around the events presaging the Mutiny of 1857. It describes the role of British in weakening the Indian royalty and establishing more than a foothold in administration. The book is well researched, the language is simple and the romance which forms the central role in the novella holds attention.

The book is written in a back and forth way switching between past and present. The mystery of the unlikely marriage is maintained and highlighted by the growing dissension between the aristocracy and the British command. The language is passive at times and events jump forward in a ploy to serve the mystery.

Since the book is slim, the story could easily have been written as a novel depicting the whole story. As it is, the ending is abrupt and jarring and leaves the reader wondering why it has been divided into multiple volumes. A clear disclaimer regarding the continuity would also help the readers.

Read it for an imaginative glimpse for colonial India but be prepared to read other volumes to get the whole story.

Find the book details in the book spotlight on this blog:

https://summeritarhayne.com/2017/03/03/spotlight-on-1857-dust-of-ages-by-vandana-shanker-thebookclub/ 

Spotlight on 1857 Dust of Ages by Vandana Shanker #TheBookClub

 

 
1857 DUST OF AGES VOL 1:
A FORGOTTEN TALE
by
Vandana Shanker
 
Blurb
 
1857. The rebellion erupts in India. Despite its attempts to stay aloof, NAVGARH, a small town near Delhi, is drawn into the conflagration. And at its heart are Princess Meera and Captain Richard Smith, with their strange alliance made for the throne of Navgarh.
 
2016, Shiv Sahai, a young Indian art historian and Ruth Aiken, a British scholar discover an excerpt from the journal of an anonymous British soldier, searching for his wife in the chaos of 1857 Delhi. As they begin investigating the scandal, they become aware of the vague rumours that are told in the bylanes of Navgarh – about a princess who married a British soldier to save her kingdom.
 
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Read an excerpt from the book…

 

 

 

Prologue
Camp, Delhi Cantonment, 16 August, 1857.
Things have changed forever. A day spent in the company of my old friend Knox made it clear. These distances can never be bridged.
The pole of his tent snapped in the storm yesterday; and for the sake of old friendship, I offered Knox my humble abode. But his rancour was jarring. His determination to teach the enemy a lesson, the unshaken belief in the rightness of our mission– such bitterness asks too much of friendship and duty.
Earlier we went over the battlefield. One of our regiments was destroying the village near the bridge to prevent the enemy from getting cover in it. Elephants were pulling down the walls. The villagers stood by as their houses turned into mud while the monsoon clouds gathered on the horizon. Unfortunately, they were the Jats, who, for the most part, are our friends. We decided that the destruction of their homes and fields was necessary. Twenty-three men – their countrymen – were lying together in the ditch at the back of the village; we weren’t sure if they were the rebels. A party of Rifles killed then en masse, just to be sure.
We left the village with our bags swollen like raisins in water. And who can blame our light-fingered gentry? Armies are said to travel on their stomach.
At some distance from our camp, I can see the sun setting over the fort of Delhi. It isn’t much different from the first sunset I witnessed here years ago. How things have changed! We came with a mission – to know this exotic land, to bring the light of knowledge and civilization to its darkness. Now the memory leaves me embarrassed. These massive red walls made me uneasy even then. Today they mock our camp again. Whatever be the outcome of this devil’s wind, it has revealed the banality of our mission.
Knox’s bitterness is an expression of the anger in the camp. When the cannons are quiet, the silence resounds with confusion, with terror, with rage, but most of all with the question ‘Why?’ As we sit around a small fire every night, the question rages in every mind. ‘Why the mutiny? Haven’t we brought the glory of civilization to this land of superstition?’ These thoughts simmer as we deal with hunger, heat and rain.
But soon these questions will be forgotten. The winners will annihilate the other side. Already I see the madness in the eyes as rumours reach us from other places – Cawnpur, Jhansi, Lucknow. Madness will soon be let loose.
I often feel that the answers that elude me today were within my grasp a short while ago. They are somewhere near, yet unreachable, like the time gone by.
I promise to look for them once I have found her again. For she, I feel, holds a part of it.
So every evening, I try to escape this madness by thinking about her, Princess Meera of Navgarh, a rebel soldier and my wife. It is the third year of our marriage. Three years of tenuous links and fragile understanding. It was only a matter of time before an explosion happened. And it happened that eventful week when Navgarh too burnt in the fire raging all across India. The news that the sepoys in Meerut had rebelled spurred both of us. Did I expect Meera to be a dutiful wife when all her beliefs, her convictions pulled her in the opposite direction? Was I surprised on knowing that she was in Delhi, amongst the rebels? Would she be surprised on knowing that I have followed her as an enemy… a British officer? And as I follow her, I stand here once again, after five years, outside the walls of the Red Fort in Delhi.

 

 

 

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About the author


Delhi-born Vandana Shanker is the author of the series 1857 Dust of Ages, a historical fiction set in the year of the great uprising in India. A PhD from IIT Delhi, Vandana is passionate about history, storytelling and art. Apart from writing, she teaches literature and creative writing in Malaysia. She has also taught in Universities in India and Vietnam. She currently lives in Kuala Lumpur with her family and wants to travel the world. 

 

 

 

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Guest post: Vandana Shanker, author of 1857 Dust of Ages #TheBookClub

Please welcome Vandana Shanker, author of 1857 Dust of Ages. Vandana is here to share her views on research for historical fiction.

Take it away, Vandana.

Question: How difficult was it to manage the research? Did you innovate to fill up the gaps or stick to facts throughout?

As I wrote and researched for my book 1857 Dust of Ages, I learnt that writing historical fiction is different ball game altogether. And I had no idea, no formal training and I had plunged straight into it. On the way, I learnt a lot of things. I would try to put them together in Rules of writing Historical Fiction.

  1. Read a lot of stories. They could be fictional or non-fictional but they would create images of the era in your mind. When researching for my book, one book that stands in mind is William Dalrymple’s ‘The White Mughals.’  That had the germ of the story – an interracial romance. The rest of it came from various other fictional works, diaries and stories that I had read and heard over the years.
  2. Take notes. Lots of them and let there be gaps. They don’t have to be accurate. The notes would give you the larger picture whereas the gaps are the places where your story would evolve.
  3.  Study old pictures and paintings. This is essential for evocative writing- words that evoke the senses. Since there aren’t many photographs of 1857, I turned to paintings of the British in India and Mughal era miniatures. I have integrated many of these paintings in my story – as clues to the past that Shiv and Ruth unearth Pictures give the details that writing often misses out.
  4. Go to the location. For me it was the Hop on, Hop off around Delhi. Being a Delhitte, I could capture the bustle of the city, but to see it from the point of view of an nineteenth century character required more. As I went around, I learnt so much more about Delhi. For the last scene of the series, I visited Roshanarabagh and QudisiaBagh. Despite living in the city all my life, I had never been there ever before.
  5. Use the Internet. That goes without saying. I read a lot of old diaries and letters because they were so important in the nineteenth century. Most of the archival access was through the Internet. The events of 1857, the little things like rumours and gossip, minor skirmishes, bigger battles – Google is where I found most of the information
  6. Find a balance. You are not writing history. It is fiction and it is meant for the contemporary readers. I spent a lot of time recreating the diaries and letters in the language that would not put off the readers. Some places I have taken some liberties with the facts though I did stick to the broader details.
  7. Start writing. There is a time to stop the research and start writing because research is so seductive. As one delves deeper, it becomes a distraction especially in the day and age of the Internet. But we aren’t here for a history lesson. So as you do research, keep write simultaneously. That is the real job. Once you have the picture in mind, close your eyes and imagine and then get down to recreate it in your words

……

Thank you, Vandana. It was enlightening to hear your views. As an author of historical fiction, I agree that it won’t do to turn your research into a history lesson, and holding a deep interest in history as I do, I know it’s all too easy to get immersed in delving the details of the bygone eras. Indian history is so rich and engrossing a subject that one cannot help it. At the same time, it’s really important to get research done accurately to give an authentic feel to the era. I myself love the 500ADs and write about Maharajas and princesses, but I look forward to reading about the Rule in your book. It was lovely having you here.

 

Book Blitz: Thwarted Escape by Lopamudra Banerjee #TheBookClub

 

THWARTED ESCAPE: An Immigrant’s Wayward Journey
by

Lopamudra Banerjee


 
Blurb
 
 
How far can one truly go away from his/her ancestral roots, filial ties and the claustrophobic grip of traditions and the reminiscence of an emotionally fraught childhood and puberty? The book begins with this particular quest, and it is this quest which gains momentum as a woman seeks the essence of herself-identity ten thousand miles away from her Bengali hometown.
With the lens of a time-traveler, her narrative journey encompasses her first sexual abuse, her first tryst with death, austerity, the strangeness of rituals, the inexplicable feelings of puberty and also her surrendering to love, procreation, motherhood. In herself-chosen exile in the US, she discovers that deep within; her ancestral roots are also the wellspring of her psychological, spiritual existence. In the process, she keeps on oscillating between assimilating and disintegrating, which forms the core of her journey.

 

Order your copy @
 
Amazon.com               Amazon.in                Flipkart

 


 

About the Author
 
Lopamudra Banerjee is a writer, poet, editor and translator, currently based in Dallas, USA. She is the co-editor of Defiant Dreams: Tales of Everyday Divas, published by Readomania in collaboration with Incredible Women of India. She has also been the Creative Editor of Incredible Women of India and Deputy editor of the e-zine Learning & Creativity.Thwarted Escape, her debut nonfiction novel/memoir has been First Place Category Winner at the Journey Awards 2014 hosted by Chanticleer Reviews and Media LLC, USA. Her literary works have appeared at numerous literary journals and anthologies (print and online), both in India and the US. Her poetry, fiction and nonfiction and also translation works are regularly published in Setu, the international bilingual journal, Cafe Dissensus, Different Truths, Readomania.com and other publications. She has received the Reuel International Award 2016 for her English translation of Rabindranath Tagore’s novella Nastanirh (The Broken Home) instituted by The Significant League, a renowned literature group in Facebook.


 

You can stalk her @      
 https://www.facebook.com/lbanerjee.author/   https://twitter.com/rooafza   https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14199698.Lopamudra_Banerjee
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#Saturdaysizzle snippet from #HisChristmasSurprise 

Sharing an excerpt from upcoming romance His Christmas Surprise 

Excerpt

Dan changed the gears with more practice than attention and turned the rover onto the main road, with half of his mind on the task.

The car’s spacious interior was suddenly cramped. And hot.

He’d been determined not to look at Tonya. He’d avoided a glance at her, even at the party. But then, her laughter caught his attention and somehow his gaze had found her. Flared sleeves that left tantalizing ovals on her shoulders showcasing bare skin. The navy colored dress which might have been severe but wasn’t. Molding her curves, then flaring out at her knees to her ankles. She had piled up her hair. The neck was demure, the cloth softly draping the swell of her breasts. His glance tangled with her gaze and his mind went blank. For a moment, he wasn’t a grown man in control, but a teenager in the throes of his first crush.

The memory of his reaction brought a scowl to his face. He had no business thinking like that about the woman who was, after all, working for him. It should be strictly business with them.

Yet the recollection fluttered in his mind, in that half which didn’t listen so closely to what he was trying to tell it. The memory of twinkling lights, a house half in darkness, a soft warm form coming close and sending unexpected sparkle in someone who had nothing but coldness left in him…

No. He wasn’t going to think about that.

……..

If you want to take part in #Saturdaysizzle click on the facebook link below:

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Checkout the book at Amazon 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XS6XZ7J 

Guest post by author Radhika Maira Tabrez: Say ‘yes’ to Satire

Please welcome author Radhika Maira Tabrez to share her views on ‘Say ‘yes’ to Satire.

Take it away, Radhika.

When one first watches the movie ‘Wag The Dog’, it is easy to shrug it off as a completely outlandish story. And I’m sure a lot of people would have done just that, had it not been for all that happened shortly after the movie was released in 1997. A few months after it came out, the Clinton administration got embroiled in the Monica Lewinsky scandal and shortly after that the Al Shifa Pharmaceutical Company in Sudan was bombed. It all bore an uncanny resemblance to the plot of the movie wherein the President of the U.S. hires a spin doctor (Robert DeNiro) to distract the voters from the fact that he has been accused of sexual misconduct. DeNiro in turn hires a big shot Hollywood producer (Dustin Hoffman) and together they create a fake war on Albania and feed it to the media. The media laps it up. It is a ‘perfect’ war production after all – replete with all the essential elements – a message ‘to bring peace and freedom to a distraught nation’, a hero who is ‘left behind the enemy lines’ when the war ceases abruptly, a theme song ‘to bring the hero home’ and the resultant public show of outrage in the form of ‘leaving shoes hanging from every single tree and lamp post in America’. 

I remember, I was just out of school, when I first saw it. So I did have my share of disbelief as well over the movie. Of course, I was yet to see and learn a lot. 9/11 was yet to happen and Building No. 7 was yet to go down with all its mysteries. The whole fake war in search of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ was yet to happen too. Like I said, I was yet to see and learn a lot.

In the post-Wikileaks and Edward Snowden world that we live in, it is hard not to learn the truth. The truth is out there. Available at the click of a button should we really wish to know it. And once we know the truth, we also learn to see movies like ‘Wag The Dog’ or books like ‘Animal Farm’ or ‘Catch 22’ not just as a piece of art or literature, but as a mirror that the society desperately needs. Because otherwise, we would never know how ugly things have gotten. We sense the power and intensity of the voice that they raise. And how that voice is somehow the only thing, which pushes an otherwise pathologically complacent society, towards a possible change.  Wrapped in its saccharine humor and seemingly over the top ironies are the bitter pills we all need. 

The world is what it is. And it became that way because a majority of us are too bogged down with trying to deal with the rut of a life we are in. In the Bermuda Triangle of bills and taxes, everything else gets sucked in – all that we should be aware of, all that we should be concerned about, all that we should fight for and change.

But an artist’s view of the ocean is clear and calm. One can make an argument that that’s because a true artist barely makes enough money to worry about taxes or hardly ever expects to pay the bills on time – so no Bermuda Triangle in his ocean, you see! What the artists see in the reflection of those calm waters is then converted into art which makes the truth more accessible and also in some cases palatable to people. I mean, who would believe that the highest office in the country can pull a stunt like that. But put that truth in a movie and make DeNiro and Hoffman say it instead, and you may have a shot at people buying it.

The book Mock, Stock and Quarrel is an attempt just like that. It’s a collection of stories which show the hideous face behind the amply decked up countenance of our society. Of the fault lines which we all know exist, and yet happily ignore until the next big earthquake. These are the stories we all need to read, to know ourselves a little more. 

And once we do, perhaps even try and change for the better.

BLURB

Mock, Stalk & Quarrel – a collection of satirical tales – emanated from a nationwide contest conducted by Readomania to identify powerful voices that could wage an ideological war against issues that matter. Twenty- nine voices – indulgent, tolerant, amusing and witty -for part of this collection.

Each narrative in this anthology is a silent scream, a way to remind the reader of the stark realities of our times, of the hollowness, the empty promises and the increasing nepotism, corruption, and banal priorities of the modern life. From domestic violence, to red-tapism, from reservation to religious fundamentalism, from scams to godmen, our authors have captured it all, creating stories that prick the conscience and challenge the powerful, gently ridicule absurdities and follies of fellow humans, not to enrage the reader but to bring on a wry smile. 

Eventually, they take lexical pot-shots at the well-heeled establishment that does not think twice before taking people for granted. Sprinkled with liberal doses of humour and wit that will make the readers laugh, cry, rage and think.

The book is available on Amazon – http://amzn.in/74PIHxP and at leading bookstores across the country.

About the Author: Radhika Maira Tabrez

Radhika Maira Tabrez is a hustling mother by day and a writer by night. When she isn’t dancing to the tunes of her four-year-old son Daneyaal, or experimenting in the kitchen for her husband Mujtaba; she loves to read, watch movies, drool on Lonelyplanet.com and engage in DIY home décor projects. Of all the years she had spent trying to muzzle the writer inside her, two were spent earning an MBA from Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM), Pune and over twelve in building a career in Learning and Development. Her stories have been features in many anthologies namely: Sankaarak, UnBound, Defiant Dreams and When They Spoke. Her debut novel In The Light Of Darkness (Readomania) was released in August 2016 and has been receiving critical acclaim and rave reviews ever since. She is also an active member of the Kalam Library Project. She was recently awarded the Muse India – Satish Verma Young Writer Award, 2016 for Fiction for her debut novel, In The Light of Darkness.