soniaraowrites

about writing and other such passionate matters

SPOTLIGHT: Scarlet Revenge by Ann McGinnis

 

Scarlet Revenge by Ann McGinnis



The Blurb
 
The FBI doesn’t know what to do with Analyst Caycee Scarlet. She’s brash, brilliant & brutally relentless when tracking a serial killer. But she also has a temper, problems with authority figures and recognizing the chain of command. Things go sideways for Caycee when she uncovers a lead that saves the Omega Killer’s latest victim. Rather than working the system and making nice with her pompous boss, sparks fly and she gets into an altercation with the lead Special Agent on the case, resulting in a transfer to another assignment. Caycee finds herself transferred to an FBI interrogation facility where she assesses the most dangerous of criminals in custody. She struggles to get over the loss of her dream job, but her new boss, handsome Special Agent Gil Graham, may soften the blow. Sparks, of a different variety, fly between the Special Agent and his new Analyst, as they work together to crack the most difficult cases. Just when Caycee’s wounds are healing from her expulsion on the Omega Killer team, she is dragged back into the thick of it. Caycee and her new team are front and center, focused on an interview of a bombing suspect, when Omega comes looking for revenge. His attack wounds her team, leaving Caycee with only one option for help-the devastatingly handsome bombing suspect. It will take all of Caycee’s wits, and a kiss for luck, to stop Omega and save her co-workers.
 
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Meet the Author
 
Ann McGinnis writes about characters that let their egos and sense of justice rule their lives, while they protect the public from serial killers and unthinkable crimes. Of course, Ann’s characters always find a way to blow off steam — romantically!
As a writer, Ann comes from the world of action/thrillers and screenwriting. She has two scripts currently in development. A third script, about a spunky FBI analyst, is the basis of “Scarlet Revenge” and the main character Caycee Scarlet. It is the first book in a series, with Book 2 “Scarlet Envy” coming out in September 2014.


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This Spotlight is part of the Blogtour conducted by The Book Club. See more Spotlights in the Category on the right of this page.

Yeh Jo Hain Zindagi, Yeh Jodey Dilon Ko

  • Imran Abbas, the heart throb of Pakistani cinema and television is a handsome cross between Ranbir Kapoor and Ranveer Singh.
  • Indian fashionistas  love Pakistani fashion in clothes.
  • Bollywood stars are adored in Pakistan while we in India can’t get enough of their TV serials (mostly through pirated video tapes many years ago and nowadays on YouTube).

One would not be remiss in realizing then that a strange bond exists between these two nations. As Imran Abbas said at the launch of Zee TV’s newest channel Zindagi: “The blood is the same and calls out to each other.”

Imran Abbas was accompanied by Shailja Kejriwal (Chief Creative Head of Special Projects at Zeel for Zindagi) as well as other members of the Zeel for Zindagi Creative Team at this Indiblogger event held at Hotel Leela on Saturday, the 21st of June.

Even after 60 years of partition, an uncomfortable distance remains between the two nations in spite of an unexpressed craving of the people to interact with each other both emotionally and geographically. It is really not very difficult to find differences if one is so inclined. See what happened, before the Zindagi team arrived, between the bloggers in Delhi and Mumbai in this event, which was a three-city live interaction between Delhi, Mumbai and Lahore.

Climate and weather became the bone of contention between the two groups of bloggers and if there were no cameras that kept these two entities apart they might even have come to blows. And these are people that belong to one nation.

It is thus not very difficult to imagine the mental and emotional distance that exists in the minds of the people of India and Pakistan, especially seeing the violent past they have shared and the selective information propaganda that is carried out, on and off.  “That these disruptive elements are not successful is proved by the presence of the artists from across the border,” was Imran Abbas’ succinct reply to one such query.

According to Shailja Kejriwal, who originated the concept for this show, artists are the ones who can take their countries to other countries and touch the hearts of the people of that country.

Zindagi, the channel, thus aims to break barriers through entertainment.

Imran Abbas and the ZEAL Creative Team

Imran Abbas and the ZEAL Creative Team

And if you want to stifle a yawn because you are already overfull with the saas-bahu sagas on Indian television that seem to go on endlessly, generation leap after generation leap, then  you can relax because these serials from across the border are dramas backed by a solid story line and impeccable acting. They will tackle issues that are universal and touch the heart. And best of all, they will have a limited number of episodes each.

In fact, Shailja revealed that it was ‘Zindagi Gulzar Hain’ directed by Sultana Siddiqui (lovingly called Sultana Aapaa by all), owner of Hum Network in Pakistan, that was the inspiration for Zindagi. Sultana Siddiqui has been Imran’s mentor and he took great pains to point out that Sultana Aapaa was a wonderful example of the significant position that women in Pakistan enjoy. But women in the sub-continent continue to struggle and these struggles will be show-cased in stories with names like Aunn Zara, Kaash Main Teri Beti Naa Hoti and so on.

Suave Imran held all the audiences in thrall and when coaxed he even regaled us with songs from Indian films sung in a voice that was both mellifluous as well as soul-touching.That he is a music buff is proved by his collection which numbers more than 25000 compositions. The fascination that Indian audiences have for Pakistani singers is equally and in some cases exceedingly reciprocated which Imran Abbas revealed to an unsurprised audience.

Mumbai Audience

Mumbai Audience

Ravi from Delhi and Garima from Mumbai received MotoG phones for their blogposts that spoke about breaking borders towards joining of hearts. Their blogposts perfectly embodied the “JodeyDilonKo” concept of Zindagi.

Once the interactions ended, it was time for tea, which many bloggers  in Mumbai put to good use by clicking selfies with Imran Abbas (yes, he was quite the dude, and he is also a lead player in some of the serials that will be telecast on Zindagi).

Zindagi Gulzar Hain

Zindagi Gulzar Hain

We can now look forward to entertaining evenings even as we see glimpses of ourselves in the stories that will come to us from across the border, that is, Pakistan, now, but other countries too, later. I’m thrilled because the Pakistani serials I remember watching many years ago have captured a place in my heart and I would love to revisit them, especially as the spoken language in those serials was so beautiful and so musical to the ears that even when the characters spoke harshly or in anger, the beauty of the dialects was retained. Will I be able to re-experience that ? I shall know at 8pm tonight when the first episode of ‘Zindagi Gulzar Hain’ is aired.

This post is part of the #JodeyDilonKo initiative conducted by Indiblogger.

 

 

SPOTLIGHT: The Madras Mangler by Usha Narayanan

 

The Madras Mangler by Usha Narayanan



The Blurb
 
Five pretty girls from around the country, enjoying college life in Chennai, chasing their own dreams. Until a psychopath comes to town, killing girls and dumping their bodies in the rivers. The killer is smart, dangerous and very angry. Just like Vir Pradyumna, ace criminologist from New York, who is fighting his own demons from the past. Ruthless politicians, bumbling cops, beer barons and cyber criminals run amuck. The killer snatches a girl whom Vir has sworn to protect. A Hollywood action crew and the crowds at the India-Australia cricket one-dayer get sucked into the relentless buildup to a nail-biting climax. Will Vir be in time to stop the maniac and save the girl?
 
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Meet the Author
 
Be crazy, be creative. That’s been my mantra as a writer and a creative director ― in advertising, radio, corpcomm and web-writing. I turned up the craziness a notch by becoming a novelist, with the freedom to write exactly what I wanted. I started a romcom, changed it into a thriller and sweated and slogged to get the pieces to work together. Research, cliffhangers, suspense, clues, red herrings ― my brain was in a tizzy for days and months.
Done, dusted off, dispatched. A few rejections, heartbreak. A contract from Leadstart, bliss. Creating a spooky book trailer with images and music I bought online. A tweak here and there, with my editor. Poring over images for the cover. Suggesting the artist turn ‘The’ in the title sideways. The book comes out on Flipkart and Amazon first. And after some nail-biting suspense, in bookstores. Organised a launch with Suhasini Maniratnam and Rudra Krishna. Great media reviews. Lovely, wonderful blogger friends. I love being an author 



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This Spotlight  is part of the Blog Tour conducted by The Book Club.
Check out more spotlights at soniaraowrites.wordpress.com

Dove-Love and the Games People Played

Wearing high heels can make your hair smooth and silky and irresistible to touch. Really.

If you were wearing high heels at the Dove Indiblogger Meet aka #DovePlay held at the J.W. Marriott on Mother’s Day (11th May, 2014), you would have won a pack of Dryness Care Dove Elixir. Which is what I was wearing and which is what I won.

Dryness Care Dove Elixir contains precious oils blended with real ingredients. The elegantly stylish bottle holding the elixir – which has lavender petals floating in it – ejects pre-determined amounts of this delicately perfumed elixir which when you gently massage into your hair gives you the benefits of an overnight oiling within 30 minutes. Who does not enjoy the relaxation of an oil massage? And used after a shampoo, it makes your hair smooth and silky and irresistible to touch.

DOVE ELIXIR

DOVE ELIXIR

But that was just the first of the many games that were played at the Play Date in which Dove and Indiblogger jointly decided to pamper women.

Pamper women?!?! The only pampering most women know is the one they do for their children, spouses and other myriad family members.

This Play Date, then, did not leave any stone unturned in its intentions to pamper the guests on that day. Games, cocktails, food and gifts galore formed an integral part of the pampering.

On the urging of the host, the ladies in Dove-white (the dress code for the day) formed teams and group games were played. Each team followed a treasure –hunt –like map showing the trail to be followed. But before that my team-members (who gelled so well even though it was the first time we ever met each other) and I as well as the eleven other teams shook and shimmied and twerked and Zumba-ed as we threw all inhibitions to the winds and participated in the dancercises with gusto (and when the host asked if the men bloggers were being missed the loud Nooooooo spoke volumes). While dancing we got to know each other and one validating exercise required us to write compliments about our partner on a Dove button and present it to them. My partner wrote, “Beautiful eyes, good  personality” on the button and (confession time) whenever I am feeling a bit low, I cheer up on seeing this pin.

DOVE BUTTON

DOVE BUTTON

Games were next on the agenda and they were exciting with interesting self-explanatory names like:

  • Hair Play (making fancy hairstyles for each other),
  •  Have a Ball (catch as many Dove grey balls as possible thrown to us by our team members),
  • Hips Don’t Lie (Hula hoops –which we actually didn’t get to play for lack of time) and
  • Puzzle Mania (in which our team formed the V of DOVE in record time, at least according to us).
HUNDREDS OF THE GREY DOVE BALLS

HUNDREDS OF THE GREY DOVE BALLS

But the ‘crowning glory’ of the day was the Dove Salon where every woman present gave in to her ‘heady’  fantasies. While for some it was a haircut and for others it was a braided style or a hair straightening, for most of us though (straight-haired ones) it was an opportunity to just let our hair down and play with curls.

It has been my long-time wish to gentle-perm my hair but mundane life had always been an obstacle. The Dove hairstyling staff at the Salon was enthusiastic and well-trained and I had no qualms as I requested to have my hair curled. My hair is long, thin and straight. Fingers were crossed and chilled white wine was quaffed as Suman with a dedicated expression on her face got to work.

SUMAN AT WORK

SUMAN AT WORK

And before long, I was transformed. My longtime wish for curls had come true. It was an exciting moment. And if that was not enough pampering, we got a gift hamper each full of exciting Dove products.*

Selfies were taken and reactions were tweeted and compliments were exchanged with the team members with equally mesmerizing hairstyles and when we took our group photograph, the exuberance was quite evident.

The Dove Salon was truly the highlight of the event for me. Quite co-incidentally I had to attend three different events on consecutive days and I was excited to flaunt my new look on all those days.

THE TRANSFORMATION

THE TRANSFORMATION

We learnt to make cocktails from Pranav (one of tips was to not use more than 60ml (or was it 40) of spirits in a cocktail) who was also the judge of the bar tending competition This was held at the poolside and the burning totems of the J W Marriott added a mysterious ambience to the bar tending event.

BAR-TENDERS ALL

BAR-TENDERS ALL

After this we traipsed back to the ballroom where we tucked into tasty Indian and Continental fare which is what dinner was. A dance performance at this time had our feet tapping and then it was time for the Awards in which the winners were cheered lustily by all.

This was also the time to meet and put a face to blogger friends from other cities who were till then just virtual friends. Dove had in fact, as a special treat, fully sponsored the trips for the out of station bloggers. Laughing and chatting and catching up between morsels of tasty food was never more fun. The dance floor was then cleared for us pampered women to again let our hair down (literally and figuratively) as we danced to popular numbers.

As the evening (night?) came to a close, the thoughtful gesture on the part of the Indiblogger and Dove team was to provide transportation to those who needed it was appreciated by one and all.

THE BIG BANG (Team No.11)

THE BIG BANG (Team No.11)

The pampering did not end there. Perhaps the Universe got into the act too, because as soon as I got out of the hotel, I found an EMPTY autorickshaw standing outside and the driver AGREED to take me to my destination. How much better can a day get?

Once home, high heels off, the gift hamper was opened to reveal a plethora of goodies.  *A straightening iron and a Dove bejeweled pin were part of the goodies as was the most-needed one, if I was going to be making hairplay an important aspect of my life.

Huge bottles of Dove Intense Repair Shampoo and Dove Intense Repair Conditioner.

DOVE INTENSE REPAIR SHAMPOO

DOVE INTENSE REPAIR SHAMPOO

 

The Keratin Actives in the shampoo and conditioner will protect my hair from any damage whether I curl my hair or straighten them because I know that just a coin-sized amount of Dove Intense Repair Shampoo and Conditioner used on the hair after the regular shampoo makes my hair smooth and glossy. Just like a hair spa.

Thank you, #DovePlay, for a wonderful day of caring and pampering. A huge thank you, also for the hair care products that actually do what they say they will do because we know we can trust you to take care of our hair while we take on the world.

This post is part of #DovePlay, an event held by Indiblogger and Dove.

Turquoise Silence – Poetry by Sanober Khan (A Spotlight)


Turquoise Silence by Sanober Khan

A disclaimer: This book is a part of a blog tour conducted by The Book Club and all the reviews are done in exchange of a copy of the book from the publisher or author. No monetary trasaction takes place.

 

 

The Blurb
The book is a collection of free verse poems that encapsulate the poet’s most heartfelt emotions about life. They speak of moments that sweep our breath away, of beauty that bewitches the heart, of people, memories, sights, sounds and smells that awaken a sense of wonder and wistfulness. With rich metaphors and eloquently flowing imagery, the poet’s love for the simple things in life unfolds in different moods and tones, ultimately ending up in words felt, cherished, concieved and written… in turquoise silence
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sanober

 

Meet the Poet
 
Writing poetry is a very different, mystical experience. There is no plot, no storyline, no characters…just a stage set for you and your own deepest self. When I wrote my first poem six years ago, I never imagined it would someday become such an important aspect of my life.
 I have always loved poetry for the creative freedom it offers, the minimal rules, its ability to elevate even the most ordinary moments. At the end of each poem I write, it feels as though I have not just evolved in my style, but also as a person.  My work first appeared in Cyberwit’s international journal, the Taj Mahal Review, which paved the way for me to getting two books published.
I have long been inspired by poets like Khalil Gibran, Rumi, Rabindranath Tagore ,Rolf Jacobsen, E.E Cummings, and John Keats. A voracious reader myself, I enjoy reading poetry and novels from around the globe.
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The Revenge of Kaivalya by Sumana Khan – A spotlight


The Revenge of Kaivalya by Sumana Khan


 

The Blurb
 
Deep within the womb-like forests of the Western Ghats, an entity manifests itself at the malevolent moment when the ocean rises to devour hundreds of thousands. Kencha, an unwitting witness to Its birth, is soon found dead – his body branded with a strange message written in HaLegannada, an ancient version of modern Kannada. Even as Dhruv Kaveriappa, Chief Conservator of Forests – Hassan division investigates Kencha’s death, he senses an unseen danger in the forests of Kukke, Bisle and Sakleshpura. Animals drop dead; plants wither away and just as he feared, the forest claims its first victim. Shivaranjini, on vacation in Sakleshpura, suffers a devastating tonic-clonic seizure moments after she returns from a visit to the forest. Soon, she begins to exhibit a bizarre personality disorder. Perhaps there is an outbreak of an unknown rabies-like disease? Or, as ridiculous as it seems, could it be a case of tantric witchcraft? 
 
The truth unfolds in a dizzying maelstrom of events – a truth far too terrifying to comprehend
 
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Meet the author
 
 
The Author’s Thoughts
 
In the early stages of my manuscript, I knew the title of my novel had to be the name of the principal character. And it could not be just any name. It had to fit into the storyline – from a time perspective, as well as setting the atmosphere. It had to sound ancient and also define the character. Tall order!
As I read up on the history of Vijayanagara, I hoped to come across a good, strong name…but history, largely, is about men and their wars and conquests. I hoped to select a name from our puranas. But nothing clicked. What about our stotras? Maybe the lalitha sahasranama? Or ashtalakshmi stotra? One evening I sat mulling on ‘Kausalya’…thanks to the most famous line ‘Kausalya supraja Rama purva sandhya pravarthathe’ from the Suprabhata :) I went to bed with that line in my head.
The next morning, somehow, ‘Kausalya’ had transformed to ‘Kaivalya’. I did not remember coming across the name in any of my previous research. Curious, I looked up what ‘Kaivalya’ stood for. And was fascinated.   Read More ……..
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WORDS, WORDS AND WORDS

 

WORDS

WORDS

Words have power. And word counts have even more power. They definitely do in NaNoWriMo.

Fifty thousand words, written, make you a winner. Written by hand or then typed out on a device. All goes. When your manuscript is uploaded during validation the word count should show 50K words. That’s all.

Those that write by hand (Salud!) can have someone verify the wordcount for them and they can then upload a document of equivalent words. Same is the thing to be done if you are writing in a language other than English or in a script that is not Roman.

And now for the maths of it:

50,000 words in 30 days are1666.6666 or 1700 words in a day.

Is it easy to achieve? Certainly, with a bit of a stretch. There are two ways to do this:

If you are a thoroughly disciplined writer with a stretch of time at your disposal, then you can write during the time slot you have identified is available to you in the day and cruise easily towards the finish line on the 30th of November.

On the other hand, if you are pressed for time, write wherever and whenever you can. Waiting for your turn at the doctor’s? Write. Feeding the baby? Write. Waiting for the bus to arrive? Write. Bits and pieces of writing will cumulate into a sizable total.

What is your favoured method of writing?

Writing Tip # 23

Whenever you think of your story, certain impressions and visuals will flit through your mind. Capture them as much as you can in words and/or pictures. These are outlines of your scenes. (Sonia Rao).

 

This post is part of A-Z Blogging Challenge 2014

Pic courtesy: http://ithinksummerland.blogspot.in/2009_11_01_archive.html

VALIDATION

VALIDATION

VALIDATION

At the time I first attempted NaNoWriMo (nanowrimo[dot]org), the general consensus was that writing a novel the NaNoWriMo way was not really the best way. Many published authors even played down the fact that their novel had been written during NaNoWriMo.

Of course, things are so totally different today.

There is almost an industry of sorts that has come out around NaNo today. People are proud to proclaim their published novels to have been written in November. Workshops and tutorials are now specially geared towards revising NaNo novels.

This is a validation which of course, NaNoWriMo is not really in need of because the very validation that it provides to writers is the most precious and important thing that a new writer needs in order to not get intimidated from the overwhelming task of writing a novel.

Serendipitously, it is on the 25th of November onwards that wrimos can upload their novels via the word-count validator and get validated and be declared as winners. The newbies are generally fearful of their manuscripts being judged on being uploaded but this is an unfounded fear because the validation is done by a machine (or a software). If the machine counts 50K words, then you are declared a winner. Nobody is sitting there judging the quality of your writing. Such a kind of validation can be so liberating.

Do you agree?

Writing tip #22

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”(Sylvia Plath).
This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2014.

Today’s post is ‘V’. There is a lacuna where the other letters still need their own blogpost. I endeavour to fill this void before the month ends. I request you then, my dear loyal reader to please bear with me and my writing on those days when you might receive 2-3 posts in your inbox. :)

Pic courtesy: http://www.klocwork.com/blog/medical-device-software/software-tool-validation-for-the-fda/

UTTERLY UNFETTERED

Writing is an act of praying. Or at least an activity that connects one to an energy that cannot be named or even defined but can be considered to be ‘other worldly’. Don’t we often exclaim at something that is immensely creative with the words, “out of this world”?

And having faith in this universe/muse/divine energy is the only way in which NaNoWriMo (nanowrimo[dot]org) can be won.

One comes into NaNoWriMo usually with just a desire to write a novel. Very few are well-versed with or even trained in the art of writing a novel when they attempt NaNo for the first time. Inner editor, writer’s block, outlines, plot points etc. These words form the jargon which the first time writer is lucky not to be acquainted with at that point.

Unfettered creativity and enthusiasm are the oars that will help the newbie writer to traverse the sea of words that will one day, hopefully, coalesce into a manuscript.

Do this, utterly unfettered, once, twice, three times, during NaNo in November or in any other month of your choice and be unsurprised when you notice the tremendous improvement in your writing skills as well as an ascension in your self-confidence as a writer because when writing is unfettered and authentic that is when the magic begins.


Writing tip # 21

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. (Jack London)

 

This post is part of A-Z Blogging Challenge 2014

JOURNALING

The Artist's Way

The Artist’s Way

‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron is an iconic book which helps artists to unblock and find their creative groove once again.

The Morning Pages, which Cameron advocates in this book, for all, blocked or otherwise, is a form of Journaling as well as a form of meditation. For those not aware of it, morning pages are three pages of unedited writing you do as soon as you wake up. These pages are read by no-one, not even by the writer.

Morning pages can be a helpful tool to prepare for NaNoWriMo. If one has been dwelling on the story in the mind, then there is a good chance that insights might crop up during the writing of the morning pages. My morning pages are a jumble of words and if such an insight occurs I make it a point to circle or underline it so that I can retrieve it later.

Journaling in its simplest form can be taken to mean free writing. Many misunderstand free writing to be aimless writing. It actually entails writing non-stop on a particular topic for a fixed time or number of pages. This gives the conscious mind a chance to move out of the creative mind’s way as the ideas begin to stream in. This works wonderfully for character sketches and world-building for novels.

What has been your experience with journaling for NaNoWriMo?

Writing Tip #10

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” (Sylvia Plath)

 

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2014

Pic courtesy: http://bestisyettocome.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/taking-the-artists-way-out/

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