Author Interview: Jen

Jen with her book - Sound of Sirens

Jen with her book – Sound of Sirens

Hi Jen, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

Hi! Well, I’m from Holland and I have always loved books. I was always busy scribbling away in notebooks and on typewriters, and later on in life, on computers and laptops! I love writing stories that are a bit ‘out there’ – stories that make you wonder ‘what if’. Most of the books I’ve written aren’t set in my native country, but Sound of Sirens is… although I transformed the Frisian island of Skylge into a mysterious island haunted by Sirens and ruled by an upper class with exclusive access to electricity. This is, of course, not truly what the real island is like.

Besides writing, I also teach English at a local high school three days a week.

Did you become a writer by chance or by choice? How did you decide to write?

I became a writer by chance (or destiny!), but I became a PUBLISHED writer by choice. In Holland, I’m represented by Storm Publishers, and abroad, I am a self-published author. I didn’t have a choice in the matter of writing stories, though. The stories wouldn’t leave me alone until I’d written them, haha!

How long have you been writing and what has your writing journey been so far?

I wrote my first book when I was ten. I still have it! It was a sci-fi story about five girls finding a UFO in the woods. My writing journey has been just like that: for a long time, it was about the journey, not about the destination. Nowadays, it is also about the destination, because being an authorpreneur means you have to stick to deadlines and make a plan as to what to write when. I’m slowly relaxing a bit now, because I had quite a stressful year in 2014. Too much going on… but I’m now back on track with regards to ‘enjoying the journey’ most of all!

What does your writing process look like?

Once I sit down to write, I don’t want to be disturbed. I can write for a couple of hours in one go, but I also do stuff on the side at the same time: research, mostly. Whenever I’m writing something and I start thinking: is this realistic? What does this place look like? If I’m writing about a place I don’t know a lot about, that’ll prompt me to go online and look it up.

Publishing a book is not easy. So is finding a literary agent, at least in my country. Did you face any particular ordeal in this direction?

No, because in Holland we don’t work with literary agents. You just submit your manuscript to publishers. Which isn’t to say THAT’s easy – I was rejected quite a few times before I was accepted by my first publisher (I no longer write for them now, though).

What according to you are the easiest and the hardest things about writing?

The easiest – coming up with good ideas. The hardest – making or having the time to actually write down everything in my head. There’s too much I want to do at the same time.

What is the time that you usually spend in writing a book? 

It depends. Sometimes I can do it in two months, but that only holds true for stories I don’t need to do research for. I think a good estimate would be three to six months: three for a novella like Sound of Sirens, and six for a longer novel.

Writer’s block – have you ever been in that zone? If yes, how did you manage to come out of it?

No, not really. I just get a sort of ‘writer’s block’ when I don’t know what to work on first (so many ideas!) and I end up doing nothing at all because I can’t focus.

Do you draw inspiration from real life? Who are/ what is your inspiration?

I do, all the time. Everything is my inspiration! Landscapes, cities, people, the way people deal with adversity or happiness… But traveling to foreign countries is usually my biggest inspiration. I just love exploring new places that are so different from my own native country!

You are based in Netherlands, home to the very famous Anne Frank. Did she have any influence on you as a writer or inspired you? Which writers inspire you? 

Having grown up in Holland, the Second World War was an integral part of history education. It’s always quite near – we remember the dead on May 4th and we celebrate liberation from the Germans on May 5th. We have many monuments dedicated to war victims. I can’t say Anne Frank has inspired me as a writer, but the whole ordeal of WWII and my knowledge about that dark period in history does help whenever I write dystopian fiction. People tend to make the same mistakes over and over again, sadly. Even in my books (because I try making them true to life!).

Writers that have inspired me greatly are Tonke Dragt (Dutch author of children’s books), Thea Beckman (ditto), Tolkien (he’s so awesome!), and Ray Bradbury (best sci-fi writer ever).

A genre you wish to work upon in the future?

Maybe I’d like to venture out in hard sci-fi sometime, but I’m not sure yet. If so, I’ll probably use a pseudonym or else my fans will get confused 🙂

What are your pet peeves when it comes to writing?

I guess I annoy myself by always making the same typos in specific words. For example, the word inspiration – I KNOW how to spell that, but my fingers always type ‘inspiartion’ the first time around. Every. SIngle. Time!

Are there any tips that you want to share with aspiring writers?

Go do it. Don’t sit around and wait for something to get you started. As soon as you know who your main character is and what his/her conflict will be, you have a basis and you can write the first chapter, or at least the prologue. World building and writing plans will come later. Just start writing already! 🙂

Share your favourite excerpts from your book(s) and explain why are they your favourites.

If I had to pick one from Sound of Sirens, it would be the ‘romantic bit’ because I’m a sucker for romance!

When I gingerly push the door open, he doesn’t turn around or look up. Maybe he hasn’t even heard me enter. His body is hunched over the keys of his piano and he sits spread-legged on the stool as though he’s riding a horse, holding the reins to control the melody and shape it like the songs of his soul.

Slowly, I tiptoe toward him, not uttering a single word to break the spell. A part of me wants him to acknowledge my presence, but another part wants to just eavesdrop on him unawares – and become a part of his most private emotions. His shield is down, opening the shutters so I can look in from the outside.

When I come even closer, Royce unexpectedly looks over his shoulder to shoot me a look I can’t fathom. His mouth turns up in a roguish smile before he turns back to the piano. My heart stutters. He has seen me. He knows I’m here – and yet he keeps playing. He wants me to hear this.

Of course, the melody has to run its course and dry up eventually. A meaningful silence descends in the room as Royce gets up from his piano bench and stares at me. A few long strides and he’s standing in front of me, towering over me as I look up and rack my brain for something to say.

“You let me hear your work in progress,” I finally whisper in awe.

“I did.” He nods, and the movement makes a few strands of dark hair flop over his forehead, partly obscuring his blue eyes as they search mine. His lips curl up in a smile. “Isn’t that part of the reason why you came?”

“N-no.” My tongue feels like sandpaper. “I just – wanted to…” Say goodbye, I add in my head.

“No?” Royce takes another step closer, prompting me to hold up the LP like a shield. It makes him smile a bit wider, and I turn red. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. “Then what do you want?”

He stands there, clad in those way-too-sexy, ratty jeans and a sleeveless black top. I don’t ward him off anymore when his hand reaches out to touch my cheek. The feeling of his fingers on my flustered skin stops any coherent thought I might have conjured up. He slowly leans into me, his face so close to mine that my breath falters. Meanwhile, he’s pulling me in, tugging on a strand of my long, dark hair.

“Stop toying with me,” I croak, despite the fact that I want to shut up and just wait for him to kiss me. I want this, but I don’t. I don’t know.

“I’m not,” he says, softly and seriously. “You really think I’m playing you?”

“I’m scared.” My whisper is hardly audible.

He exhales. “Me too.”

That admission makes me blink up at him in surprise. Why should he be scared? He’s got nothing to lose.

“Why?” I say, but my question remains unanswered.

Royce moves in and his lips briefly touch mine, the heat from his mouth erasing the words that lingered there. He pulls me into his arms and kisses me again, more insistently, trailing his hands down my back and resting them on my hips in a deliberate gesture. I moan softly and close my eyes when his tongue parts my lips, stirring a hunger in me that I’ve never felt before. And I know this is what I came for. I could tell myself a million other things, but this is what I want. I’ve allowed my sad, hungry heart to lead me astray and make me fall for the wrong guy.


I would like to thank Jen for investing her time for my blog. If you too are an author – newbie or renowned and up for an interview, make it known and I will feature you on my Author’s Interview section.

Marvel vs. DC: Whose Universe is it Anyway?

Marvel Vs DC. Interesting Read.

Same Page Team

By: Daniel Reynolds

There are generally two schools of thought when it comes to universe construction: the seven day method and the Big Bang. The former defines itself as a thoughtful process with a note of fantastical whimsy. The latter works–but damn if it isn’t loud and messy.

After this year’s San Diego Comic Con, DC Comics made clear it favours the Big Bang. They recently revealed two film trailers, one each for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, to explode the idea of a shared DC film universe into the minds of the general public. The films are set for release in March and August of 2016, respectively, and together represent DC’s first tangible attempt to achieve this end. The reason for this new direction is obvious. DC just spent much of the last decade losing ground to their rival, Marvel Comics.

DC's best hope against their rivals at Marvel. DC’s best hope…

View original post 939 more words

Reader’s Nook: QA with Lu J Whitley

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Image Source: Flickr

Bio: Lu J Whitley is a full-time writer and self-professed oddball. She lives a quiet life in the mid-Midwest with her geeky, roboticist husband and four-legged children.
You can find anything else you’d like to know on her website: http://lujwhitleyauthor.com


1. Name 5-10 of your most favourite books

The Book of Three – Lloyd Alexander
The Silmarillion – JRR Tolkein
My Sweet Audrina – VC Andrews
House of Thunder – Dean Koontz
AS I Lay Dying – William Faulkner
Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris

2. A book that you have re-read the most

The ENTIRE Chronicles of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander. No matter how old I get, I still read them just about every other year, and I enjoy them every time.

3. Favourite authors and why

All the authors listed in my favorite books above. I love authors that can give so many different emotions in their writing that they transcend genre. They’re don’t stick with just fantasy or horror or romance. They’re all those things wrapped into one with a little humor on the side.

4. Genre you dislike

Memoirs. Biographies. Any dry nonfiction. But there are exceptions to every rule.

5. Character crush

Jericho Barrons from Karen Marie Moning’s Fever Series & Malaq Roarke from CL SChneider’s Crown of Stones series. Swoon.

6. Character you strongly identify with

Dane Valentine from Lillith Saintcrow’s Dante Valentine series. She’s a loner. A lot messed up. And she doesn’t take crap from anyone.

7. One character you want to bring to the real world

The genie from 1001 Arabian Nights… Who couldn’t use 3 wishes?

8. What is your ideal reading space/environment

Anywhere quiet and comfortable. But if it’s a good book, I could read it on an airport runway and not notice a thing.

9. Must-have books in a collection

The Chronicles of Prydain series – Lloyd Alexander
The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, & The Lord of the Rings Series – JRR Tolkein
The Dollenganger Series – VC Andrews

10.Earliest memory of books and reading

My second grade teacher accusing my mom of lying about how many books I read when she had to hand out all my Book-It certificates for free personal pan pizzas from Pizza Hut. Lol. I ate A Lot of pizza in grade school.

11. Weirdest book or reading experience

I bought a book at a book rummage sale that looked interesting but ended up being a TRUE STORY about a scientist being seduced by and having sex with a dolphin… I’m still a little traumatized.


This was one set of great answers 🙂 If you too want to participate in Readers’ Nook , do comment or drop me an email.

Twitter Trend #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter

Image Source: Pixabay

Image Source: Pixabay

I got a ping from a co-worker about this new Twitter trend- #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter.

I jumped the bandwagon because…I am a writer and I have a say in this. When I went on to Tweet my opinion(s), I found there were already many known and unknown (to me) writers, who had some of the most amazing and witty 140 characters published online.

This is what I vented.

These are what others had to say:

#TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter “It must be nice making money at a hobby.”

— Melodie Ramone (@Melodie_Ramone)


“I’m sure writing it won’t take longer than 30 minutes.”#TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter

— Mina V. Esguerra (@minavesguerra) 


Are you a writer? I hope your spouse earns well.


Told a teen I write YA. She hadn’t heard of me. Said, “It would have been so cool if you were Suzanne Collins!”


“You’re pretty good. You should try writing something serious.”


What’s your backup career plan? I hear your industry is dying


Have I ever heard of you?


“But are you, like, a REAL writer?”


“Can I be in your novel?” You probably are. You’re the one who dies horribly.


“You’re lucky you don’t have to work.”


“I have a great idea for a book. I just have to write it down.”


“I would totally write a novel if I had as much free time as you do. I have so many ideas.”


You know what you should write about? I have the best idea for you.


Oh, you write? I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’m too busy doing (insert “important” thing here), though.


I really like your work! Will you write for us? Oh, we don’t pay


Isn’t EVERYONE a writer, essentially?


When I retire I’m going to write a book, too.


My life is a film, you should write it. #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter

— Nia Vardalos (@NiaVardalos) 


#TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter “I don’t understand why your house is so messy. You have so much free time.”

— Melodie Ramone (@Melodie_Ramone)


“oh my husband’s half-brother’s cousin’s cat writes poems, maybe you guys can collaborate” #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter


Can you get me published?


Give us writers a break please. We need no such gems coming being showered from all directions. Thankyou very much.

Guestpost: Never Letting Go by Adi (The Happy Lifeaholic)

Prologue: There are some books, which refuse to fade from our memories, no matter how hard we may try. Most of such books are classics and it will not be surprising if they have been passed down thorough several generations. As the very first post of my guestblogs, I present Adi, who is a talented young gun having her blog called The Happy Lifeaholic.


Never Letting Go

Once upon a time Adi used to be an avid reader. I was the kid who read through math and physics classes. I walked into walls because I was so intent on whatever book had caught by imagination on that day. I wrote a book report on The Merchant of Venice (an abridged version) in Grade 3 while my classmates were still on fairy tales. I also managed to ruin my eyes at the tender age of 9, all because I would stay up past “lights out”, reading by the diffused beams of a streetlight filtering in through the curtains of my room. I loved books. Even the word “loved” sounds like an understatement!

But alongside all the abridged classics that I wolfed down as a kid, were books by an author who I grew to love over the years. Dame Enid Blyton wrote books like no other. She wrote stories of mysteries, and of school kids and of escapades and treasure hunts. She was an English writer (as if Dame didn’t give that away) and her books have been bestsellers since the 1930s. According to my trusty friend, Wikipedia, she’s since sold over 600 million copies of her books, and has had them translated into over 90 languages! Of those 600 million books, I probably own about 50.

Part of my humble collection:

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These are only some of the books that I chose to bring back to Oman with me.

My relationship with Dame Blyton started long before I started reading any of her books – it started with a series of her books that was made into a television show that eventually got dubbed into a very obnoxious Hindi version that would make its round on Saturday morning television channels in India. That’s right, folks! I’m referring to the wooden wonder boy from Toyland – Noddy!

For years I didn’t realize that the series was but another one of Enid Blyton’s works, and trust me, I watched that show for yeeeeaaaars. At some point mom bought me all the books as well, so that’s 24 Enid Blyton books right there.

Enid Blyton is today, most remembered for series such as Famous Five and Secret Seven – both juvenile detective series, featuring (as the names suggest) five and seven kids, respectively, solving crimes and getting into all sorts of shenanigans. Those books were, and still are, widely read across India – and I remember those being some of the most borrowed books in our school and local libraries among kids from my age group, right alongside all the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books. The books really were a hoot – all the adventure kids could ever dream of, and E.B’s writing was always very simple to understand and yet, she had a way with words. She never really used flowery language, but she described everything perfectly. In fact, I blame her for my longtime obsession with wanting to become a detective. Once I was a little older, TV shows like NCIS etc did nothing to lessen that obsession.

My favorite E.B books, however, were her comparatively less famous ones –  The Naughtiest Girl series, St. Claire’s and Mallory Towers series. All three are boarding school series, and now that I think about it, perhaps that is why they weren’t as popular. I remember that when my friends and I were young, sending a kid off to boarding school was the ultimate punishment – India’s take on the boogyman scare, if you will. I think it still is.

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[2 books from the Mallory Towers Series]

 

Enid Blyton, however, corrupted my vision of boarding schools completely. Thanks to her, I grew up thinking of boarding schools as places where you made friends for life, woke up at midnight to throw secret dinner parties where you wolfed down ginger ale with the other gals in your dorm, and where you pranked your professors and went skinny-dipping in the lake at 2am. Hell, she made boarding school sound so exciting that I was probably the only kind I knew who actually used to beg her family to send her to boarding school! I literally used to dream of going to boarding school at a time when over-dramatic India movies and TV serials would show families breaking up over the decision of sending a child to boarding school. Oh the shame! And there I was, begging to go.

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[A few books from the St. Claire’s series]

I remember almost joining a boarding school in 8th grade, when we’d just moved back from Oman – I was set on the place till they asked some personal questions in the interview that I didn’t think they needed to know, and eventually that made me cut the school out of my future plans. It was a blow, though, to know that I had been so close to living that childhood dream, attending an elite and expensive boarding school nestled in the Sahyadri Hills of Pune, hobnobbing with A and B list Bollywood kids.

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[courtesy: Sahyadri School website]

Ah to think that I could have gone trekking, swimming and skinny dipping with views like this:

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[courtesy: Sahyadri School website]

But that’s alright. I went right back to E.B’s books, and read and re-read them till I knew all the stories backwards. The girls in all those books were the sisters I never had while growing up. They were my imaginary friends and confidants rolled in one, and the time I invested in those books were both satisfying and exciting.

Of the 3 series, the ones I’ve re-read the most are from the Naughtiest Girl series – a title that I had proudly earned myself early in my school life. It was exciting to read the adventures of my literary partner-in-crime, and many a time, I borrowed a page out of her escapades to implement in my life. I literally used to get invited to birthday parties so that parents could “see who the naughtiest girl in school was.”

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[My much loved Naughtiest Girl series]

Elizabeth was the sister I never had, and a lot of my childhood was spent delighting in her mis-adventures, and holding imaginary conversations with her. And yet, when I try and write about her per se, the words that spring to mind aren’t descriptive enough! But perhaps some things are better left to the imagination…

Did you have a favourite character or book when you were young?

Reader’s Nook: QA with Sumeetha

The Perfect Groom by Sumeetha. Pic source: Goodreads

The Perfect Groom by Sumeetha. Pic source: Goodreads

About Sumeetha: Sumeetha is a budding author and I bumped into her on Goodreads. This is what I nicked from her bio on Goodreads to give you the knowledge of who she is and what she does.
Sumeetha Manikandan is a freelance writer and an author who loves to write and base her plots on the tambrahm community of Mylapore, Chennai. She is the author of ‘The Perfect Groom’ that has been a bestselling ebook on the top 50 charts of Amazon India ever since publication.An avid reader, she loves to read across different genres – romance, historical fiction, non-fiction, mystery, fantasy etc. A history buff to the core,
she is currently translatingPonniyinSelvan – the evergreen tamil classic epic history by KalkiKrishnamurthy into English.Married to film maker K.S. Manikandan, Sumeetha lives in Chennai, along with her six year old daughter.
I will be posting an interview with her. So stay tuned 🙂 Meanwhile, read what she has answered to my questionnaire on Reader’s Nook.

Name 5-10 of your most favourite books
Kalki Krishnamurthy’s Ponniyin Selvan
JK Rowling’s Harry Potter Series
George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones
K.M. Munshi’s Krishnavatara series
M.M Kay’s Far Pavillions
Ken Follet’s Pillars of Earth
Robert Galbraith’s Coromoran Strike Series
Zeenat Mahal’s Haveli
Sophie Kinsella’s Shopoholic series
Marian Keyes’s Watermelon
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
A book that you have re-read the most
Game of Thrones series of late.
Favourite authors and why
I have many. Kalki Krishnamurthy because he inspired me to write. P.G. Woodhouse for making me laugh when life was at its worst. George RR Martin for writing a story with characters who have worse troubles than I do 🙂
Genre you dislike
Nothing in particular. I read across different genres.
Character crush
Tyrion Lannister, Jaimie Lannister from Game of Thrones series.
Character you strongly identify with
Both my heroines Nithya and Lalitha from my books The Perfect Groom and Love, Again.
One character you want to bring to the real world
Vandiya Devan from Kalki’s Ponniyin Selvan
What is your ideal reading space/environment
My bedroom

Must-have books in a collection

Harry Potter series, PG Woodhouse’s Earl of Emsworth colllection, Gerald Durrell’s Corfu Triology.

Earliest memory of books and reading
K.M. Munshi’s Krishnavatara series was the first book I read. I have been hooked to books since then.
Weirdest book or reading experience
One of the many weird experience was with Game of Thrones series. I read through the first two books in the series hating Jaimie Lannister for trying to kill a child and when I started reading the third book, I fell in love with this character which was very weird because I was determined to hate him.

Liked what you read? Feel free to get in touch with me and I will feature you on Reader’s Nook 🙂

THE SECRET LIFE OF A BOOK BLOGGER BOOK TAG

Ojitosperle tagged me for the Secret Life Of A Book Blogger Book tag. And here I go with all the answers. 😉

How long have you been a blogger?

Its been a little over a year since I started blogging. Earlier, I used to blog about everything under the sun. But now, my focus is mainly on books and reading.

At what point do you think you will stop?

When there are no more books in the world 😛 And that is never going to happen. So….NEVER 😉

What is the best thing?

Meeting other likeminded fellows who are as passionate as I am about books and reading or other things in life.

What is the worst thing? What do you do to make it okay?

Worst part is to make time for my blog. I really am short of time and posting regularly doesn’t come easy 😦

How long does it take you to create/find pictures to use?

A minute. I know what I want and I get it easily.

Who is your book crush?

Michael from The Princess Diaries books and Fred and George from Harry Potter series. ❤

What author would you like to have on your blog?

J.K.Rowling, Jeffrey Archer and Jhumpa Lahiri. Though, I would love to feature all authors on my blog. Greedy me 😛

What do you wear when you write your blog posts?

In Halloween costume 😛 BWAHAHAH

How long does it take you to prepare?

I don’t prepare. I blog on an instinct. But with Guestposts, I have to prepare a lot. *something is in the pipeline*

How do you feel about the book blogger community/culture?

I am just exploring it bit by bit and loving everything!

What do you think one should do to get a successful blog?

Don’t hold yourself back. 🙂

Who do you tag?

I will tag Adi 🙂

Oh The Places You Will Go – Tips For Reading While You Travel

Image Source: Pinterest

Image Source: Pinterest

Travel.
Travel is a magic-entwined word. With every journey, you become a little poorer but way richer. You carry back not just the memories associated with a place, its people and everything in between, but also its smell and that requires no extra bag and baggage!

Although I am not much of a traveler, I have had my fair share of reading experiences when I did travel in life. Let me share some of the tips with you today.

  • Pack light. This is THE word, you will find in all the tips related to travel and I make no exception. Pack light also means that you need to pack some light books to read on the go. No hard covers. No heavy GSMs. Lightweight books will be your best companions.
  • Calculate the time you will spend reading. If you are going abroad and spend most of the time sightseeing or collecting souvenirs, then there is no point taking along a 700 page book of some award-winning novel. It is going to fail for all you know. Unless, you are a speedy little mercury when it comes to reading and can polish off a good novel in your flights/ transition. If not, then take along a book that you know you can complete during your travel.
  • Cover your book with a wrapping paper/newspaper. I find this tip very handy, especially when I travel alone. There are pesky strangers at all places, who want to strike up a conversation such as “Hey, you are reading so and so book…” I do not tolerate small talk like this. So, before I pack my book(s), I cover them up with a paper and read on without any interruptions. Haah! 😉
  • Have extra bookmarks on you. I keep losing bookmarks when I am on the go. So, as an alternative I keep more than two bookmarks with me and use them during my travels. I also use ticket stubs as bookmarks, in case of an emergency. Bills are another alternative, if you do not intend to preserve them that is. 🙂
  • Read 5 pages of a book before packing it. Strange tip. I know. But it prevents you from carrying books which you will get fed up of reading midway and then end up getting stuck with nothing to read! Frustrations galore. Else, you can always carry two books at least, to have a backup.
  • Write your name, number and address on the first page of the book. Even if you lose the book in a strange land, there will be chances that the book will find its way to you. 🙂 This way, you will lessen the chances of losing a book that you borrowed from a library or a friend (in this case, write the details with a pencil).

These are my travel+reading tips. What are yours?

More Questions On My Way :D

Like I always say,  it does no harm in answering questions thrown at you, here is a set of questions asked by Uma, who blogs here.

One favorite Movie/Book Character you would like to turn ?

The very studious Hermione Granger. Nuff said. 🙂

Your Craziest Obsession?

Dogs. I ogle at them. Even the stray ones.

What is your fantasy like ?

To walk into this room full of books and never come out of it again.

If you had a chance to confess something,what would that be ?

I really don’t like people with a pathetic sense of humor and I only laugh at their jokes so that they don’t feel bad.

Your favorite Comfort Food ?

Papdi Nu Lote or Kheechu (Basically a rice powder thingy from Gujarat)

Your Dream Travel Location ? ( Other than Paris !!)

Greece. Without a doubt.

What is Blogging for you ?

It is a way of life. It has been a year and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.

What is the most important ethics you follow while you blog?

Keeping the language ‘clean’ despite the urge to hurl expletives every now and then 😛

That first thing you do when you log into your Computer/Internet?

I check my Goodreads account.

When was the last time you laughed out loud ! ( I mean the real LOL Moment)

Yesterday! I was laughing at a friend’s pronunciation of a recently released movie 🙂

Reader’s Nook: QA with Jen

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

Jen Minkman (1978) was born in the Netherlands and lived in Austria, Belgium, and the UK. She learned how to read at the age of three and has never stopped reading since! Her favorite books to read are YA paranormal, dystopian, and romance, and this is reflected in the stories she writes. In her home country, she is a trade-published author of young adult novels with Storm Publishers.
She lives in The Hague where she lives with her husband and two noisy zebra finches.

Link to the first book in her latest book series: http://www.amazon.com/Sound-Sirens-Ta…

My Note: Jen is a lovely, warm person whom you will love talking to! I came across her on Goodreads. Do read her book, which I bet would be a lovely read!


 Name 5-10 of your most favourite books
Tough question! I read so much that it’s difficult to stick to just ten. But the following books are guaranteed classics for me:
The Martian Chronicles – Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
The Prophet – Khalil Gibran
The Mother Earth Trilogy – Thea Beckman
The Venus duology (Torenhoog & Mijlenbreed, Ogen van Tijgers) – Tonke Dragt
De Torens van Februari – Tonke Dragt
Station Eleven – Emily St John Mantel
Twilight / New Moon – Stephenie Meyer
The Hunger Games trilogy – Suzanne Collins
Chess novel – Stefan Zweig
The silence of the sea – Vercors

Some books on this list are by Dutch authors, so it’s unlikely anybody knows them outside of Holland!

A book that you have re-read the most
That must be the Mother Earth trilogy by Thea Beckman. I don’t know if it’s ever been translated, but I suggest you give it a try. Post-apocalyptic fiction before it was hip and happening.

Favourite authors and why
Ray Bradbury and Stefan Zweig, because they’re masters at turning something ordinary into something profound and special, even in short stories.

Genre you dislike
I’m not really fond of women’s fiction, but dislike is too strong a word.

Character crush
Hahaha 🙂 I’ve had quite a few of those! The oldest crush was Pim Pandoer (from a Dutch detective series), but I also really like Jacob from the Twilight series.

Character you strongly identify with
Usually my own characters! But if I had to name one I haven’t written myself, I’d say Katniss Everdeen.

One character you want to bring to the real world
Let’s bring Mr. Darcey to the real world – that sounds like fun 🙂

What is your ideal reading space/environment
Outside, in the shade, in high summer somewhere in rural England.

Must-have books in a collection

These days, it’s very easy to complete collections since almost everything is for sale on the internet. But as a child, I was addicted to a Dutch sci-fi series called ‘Euro-5’ and I was always on the hunt for those paperbacks (until I found them all at once in a second-hand bookstore, which was sad in a way, because the hunt was over forever…)

Earliest memory of books and reading
I learned how to read when I was three. My earliest memory of reading a non-fiction book was when I was five and devoured a book about the moon landing. That’s when my fascination with astronomy started. My earliest memory of reading a fiction book was when I read ‘Jip en Janneke’ (a famous Dutch children’s book) to my classmates at age four. Everyone thought I was a freak, whahaha! they didn’t even know how to write their own names yet.

Weirdest book or reading experience

I don’t think I’ve ever read truly weird books, because if a book doesn’t click with me, I put it down and pick up another. So it never got too weird, so to speak!


Want to participate? Just give me a ping or write to me and I will get back to you with the questions and more 😀

Reader’s Nook: QA with Emma

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

Emm’s blog is my favourite book blog of all time. It will be yours too if you just take a look at the wide range of books she has read. Not only is she an avid booklover and an honest book reviewer, she also is a talented artist. If you really do love your books, and take reading seriously, then her blog is a must-visit.

Meanwhile, enjoy the question answer session with her. I bet you have not read many of the books listed by her 🙂


 

Name 5-10 of your most favourite books

The Martian by Andy Weir.
World War Z by Max Brooks.
A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber.
Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel.
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.
The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer.

A book that you have re-read the most

It will either be Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire or The Fellowship of the Ring. Both have been read so many times that I had to retire my original copies and buy new ones.

Favourite authors and why

Garth Nix – He writes really good fantasy books and his baddies are properly terrifying.
Brandon Sanderson – Another great fantasy writer. Though his books are super long they are really easy quick reads.
David Mitchell – His books are super weird and really confusing but they have great stories.
JK Rowling – Because I can’t go 5 minutes without mentioning her.

Genre you dislike

I will pretty much read any genre, I don’t read many romance books because I don’t normally enjoy romance stories though I have been surprised a few times. At The Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen was really great.

Character crush

I  wouldn’t exactly say it was a crush but I really loved Gatherer Ehiru from The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin. Ehiru goes through so much crappy stuff in that book, I really felt sorry for him. Also the ending nearly broke my heart.

Character you strongly identify with

Sleeping Beauty. We both like to sleep. A lot!

One character you want to bring to the real world

Probably Voldemort. I felt really sorry for him. Maybe if he had a family and was brought up differently he wouldn’t have turned into a crazy child-killing maniac.

What is your ideal reading space/environment

My bed. With a cup of tea.

Must-have books in a collection

I think that no matter what age you are you need to have some classic children’s books. The Tiger Who Came To Tea by Judith Kerr is my favourite picture book. Roald Dahl is another one I would recommend. Those books are great because you can enjoy them as a kid then re-read as an adult and realise that they weren’t the fun quirky books you thought they were. Then you need some of the newer children’s classics. The His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. Sabriel by Garth Nix is a book everyone can enjoy. And then of course a collection isn’t complete without Harry Potter!

Earliest memory of books and reading

When we were kids my dad would read to my sister and I at night. But he was tired after working all day so would usually fall asleep after a few pages. This would usually mean that we would have to read the book by ourselves. I’m almost certain that my dad attempting and failing to read to us at night is what made us both enjoy reading so much.

Weirdest book or reading experience

Holy Cow by David Duchovny. Its very meta, its a cow writing about her experiences of escaping a farm and getting on a plane to Israel because she doesn’t want to be turned into hamburgers. Its really strange, the entire way through the cow is talking about her publisher and all the changes the publisher wants to make to the book.


P.S. You can participate too. Send me an email with the answers to these set of questions, your blog’s link and a short bio and I will publish the same..

Book Review: Those Pricey Thakur Girls and The House That BJ Built

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Author: Anuja Chauhan

Verdict: Grab them for fun-read

My tryst with Anuja Chauhan’s books began with The Zoya Factor. I was in my second year of graduation and I found this book with a quirky cover at Landmark book store (unfortunately the chain of stores closed down). It is after four years of the discovery that I finally read the book from British Council, Ahmedabad. Before I start digressing way too much, let me cut it short and tell you that I fell in love with her book, her characters, her wit and wisdom and her overall writing style.

This is what led me to pick her books – Those Pricey Thakur Girls and The House That BJ Built. There is of course, Battle for Bittora, which is currently on my being-read list.

While Those Pricey Thakur Girls gave you a good dose of romance brewing up between D for Dabbu and D for Dylan and E for Eshwari and S for Steeeeesh, The House That BJ Built – a sequel, was about Bonu and Samar. Sparkling with brilliance at every page, both the books keep you hooked with twists and turns, laughter and gasps. The Hinglish dialogues make their mark and the characters are well-etched to make you believe in them and their actions.

Like every Chauhan novel,every story finds a connect with the audience. There are some loose threads of course, but nothing that can mar your reading experience.

I highly recommend the books to anyone who is looking for a light read, which is a meaty, masala romcom. If you haven’t already tried any of her books, get her box set from any of the online stores.

Happy Reading 🙂

14 Lessons That I Picked Up From My Copywriting Course

I have been busy pursuing a short term copy writing course in my city. The idea was to refresh my knowledge and to learn something new. I am almost about to wrap up the course and I want to share some key takeaways, mostly the quotes by David Ogilvy, which have inspired me.

  1. The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible. David Ogilvy
  2. Talent, I believe, is most likely to be found among nonconformists, dissenters, and rebels. David Ogilvy
  3. On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar. – David Ogilvy
  4. When you reach for the stars, you might not quite get one, but you won’t come up with a handful of mud either. – Leo Burnett
  5. Resist the usual. – Raymond Rubicam
  6. Sometimes the most important job advertising can do, is to clarify the obvious. Jay Chiat
  7. A word after a word after a word is power. — Margaret Atwood
  8. The client will always pick the concept that you like the least, so never present any concepts you don’t like – Robert Fleege
  9. Any copy that runs on a billboard should fit on the back of a business card. – John Pavao, Clearchannel Outdoor
  10. Copy is a direct conversation with the consumer.  – Shirley Polykoff
  11. The first draft of anything is shit. —Ernest Hemingway
  12. The most powerful element in advertising is the truth. – William Bernbach
  13. Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell and advertise. – Ted Turner
  14. Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them. Sometimes it’s an ad. – Howard Gossage

Reader’s Nook: QA with Adi

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

If you are a regular on WordPress, I am sure you must have come across Adi’s blog called The Happy Lifeaholic. If you want daily dose of wonderful poetry, visit her blog. Where she has recently started posting poetry from her childhood called the Innocence series. She has the Midas Touch, whatever she writes, is awesome to read. I am so not exaggerating 🙂 Okie, without wasting your time and mine, here is a set of questions answered by Adi. Enjoy!

1. Name 5-10 of your most favourite books
Oh boy, well, i) The Chronicles of Narnia series ii) Harry Potter series iii) Black Beauty by Anna Sewell iv)The Naughtiest Girl series. There we have it. That’s technically more than 4, but those were/are my favorites. I have several other books I enjoy, but none that I’d consider favourties.
2. A book that you have re-read the most
Possibly my Naughtiest Girl series! 🙂 Read my article, and you’ll see why!
3.Favourite authors and why
Enid Blyton – for reasons made obvious in my article
Ken Follet, Agatha Christie, Clive Cussler, John Le Carré – they all write extremely well, and their crime thrillers are some of the best in the business.
4. Genre you dislike – teenage angst. Been there, done that; so over it!
5. Character crush – unfortunately none that I can remember. I used to crush on Draco Malfoy, but not because of his character! More because teenage me found actor Tom Felton drool worthy.
6. Character you strongly identify with – too many to name. Think strong, independent women.
7.One character you want to bring to the real world – Mary Poppins. Please. I’d love to clean my room up with a click of my fingers! And she throws fabulous tea parties!
8. What is your ideal reading space/environment – a quiet corner or nook, that is well padded with cushions. And preferably one with a blanket and snacks nearby. 🙂
9. Must-have books in a collection – There are waaay too many of these lists floating around the internet. But I think that depends on the kind of books you read. I think P. G. Wodehouse always provides a good chuckle, John Le Carré provides wonderfully penned thrillers, and the rest, you can find through Google.
10.Earliest memory of books and reading – I’ve been reading since before I can remember. But in particular, I remember my mom and I going across to the Pune outlet of the British Council to read. We’d spend hours there, making it a weekly Sunday routine. I spent a good 7 years of my childhood in there.
11. Weirdest book or reading experience – Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. That book…is an experience in itself..

Reader’s Nook: QA with Kirk Xavier

Image Source: Pixabay

Image Source: Pixabay

I am back with my series of posts. 🙂

This time, it is a QA session from another book-lover who is one of my closest buddies. He is one of the person who can give you the best suggestions and honest ones at that, from a wide-range of topics, including books, technology, music and movies. Here is a set of questions asked by me and answered by Kirk.

  1. Name 5-10 of your most favourite books
  • J. K. Rowling – Harry Potter Series
  • Christopher Paolini – Inheritance Cycle
  • Jeffery Archer – Clifton Chronicles, Kane and Able, As the Crow Flies.
  • Dan Brown – Angels and Demons.
  1. A book that you have re-read the most
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It was 9th Grade when I started HP series, I guess it was because J.K. Rowling was working on the 6th book and I couldn’t get any closure. I re-read this book to the point I could repeat the first two chapters from memory. I even typed these chapters on to my laptop under the ruse of learning to type (guess this also kindled my interest with computers). Now I never, never ever read a book twice.

3. Favourite authors and why

  • Jeffery Archer. Here’s why “They (public/crowds) are the most important,” he says. “The public will tell you. Not the critics or the clever talkers. The public can always tell who is the storyteller. And that’s why storytellers always dominate the lists.”
  1. Genre you dislike
  • Memoirs, Narrative Non-Fiction. I don’t understand why these non-fiction genre exist :p
  1. Character crush
  • Arya from Inheritance Cycle.
  1. Character you strongly identify with
  • I have always have had an affinity towards characters who support the protagonist in every book I read. The real underdog I mean (apart from the one being paraded around by the author). Right now, I strongly identify with Denethor in LOTR: The Return of the King

7. One character you want to bring to the real world

  • Saphira from Inheritance Cycle 🙂 , just Kidding. To be honest, no one really. Books are meant to enable you to model a fantasy of a unique imaginative character created by the author. Let your Imaginations run free never limit them to this crippled reality we call life.
  1. What is your ideal reading space/environment
  • Any place where I can silently concentrate on reading without being intermittently disturbed.
  1. Must-have books in a collection
  • Harry Potter Series and Clifton Chronicles Series.

10 . Earliest memory of books and reading

  • Oliver Twist and some Indian Gods Mythology from Macmillan Publishers. I used to read these during vacations to my aunt’s house in Pune.
  1.  Weirdest book or reading experience
  • Wayne Edward Clarke – People of the Tiger (Book One of The Rational Future Series).

This was a great set of answers. Don’t you think so too? Ping me if you want to participate 🙂

Book Tag: The Coffee Book Tag

Now that we are on the topic of coffee (see my last post), I thought why not let me take up this Book tag. I came across this on THIS blog. Feel free to take up the tag and blog about it, like I have.

Black: Name a series that’s tough to get into but has hardcore fans

The Lord of The Rings. I still am finding my way into it.

Peppermint Mocha: Name a book that gets more popular during the winter or a festive time of year.

No idea. But maybe, its the bestsellers here in India.

Hot Chocolate: What is your favorite children’s book?

All works by Enid Blyton. They taste like my childhood.

Double Shot of Espresso: Name a book that kept you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

The Da Vinci Code. I can’t even describe how thrilling the book was.

Starbucks: Name a book you see everywhere.

Meluha. Meluha everywhere.

That Hipster Coffee Shop: Give a book by an indie author a shout-out.

Umm…no idea what is that. I skip.

Oops! I accidentally got decaf: Name a book you were expecting more from.

The House That BJ Built. One can’t simply have too much of Anuja Chauhan’s awesome humor.

The Perfect Blend: Name a book or series that was both bitter and sweet, but ultimately satisfying.

That would be – Bridge to Terabithia. Odd book.

Green Tea: Name a book or series that’s quietly beautiful.

The secret garden. It has a different charm altogether.

Chai Tea: Name a book or series that makes you dream of far-off places.

Guys, Chai is the Hindi word for Tea. Chai and Tea are basically the same thing. Ugh…this makes me squirm. I digress.

A song of Ice and Fire series makes me dream of Westeros and the lands around. I am not into the books – yet. But have read most about it on wikia. Harry Potter too. I believe in Hogwarts 😛

Earl Grey: Name your favorite classic.

The Diary of Anne Frank. Period.

Coffee Love

Image Source: Pixabay

Image Source: Pixabay

Coffee and I do not go a long way back.

I must have had my first cup of instant coffee at a friend’s home in 1999-2000, when I was erm…not even a teenager. To me, it tasted like a regular malt drink mix like Cadbury’s Bournvita or Boost only a little less on the sweet quotient. It was frothy, milky and back then, I did not share the imaginary lactose intolerance. That is how, I found coffee or rather coffee found me.

The second, third and consecutive cups I have no memories of. All that I know and remember is that when I was in grade 9, I had a lot of study pressure. To score the best marks, to be ahead of everyone in the class in every subject. That is when I took to coffee seriously.

We have instant coffee variants here in India, which are easy to get from local shops and easier to make. So, we would get packets of Sunrise, Nescafe and later on, Bru. I would sit and do my homework or study for the toughest tests sipping my way to the bottom of the cup. To be honest, it was mom who made the coffee for me. I couldn’t even boil water to save my life back then.


Image Source: Pixabay

Image Source: Pixabay

Grade 10-12, I was a certified coffee drinker. When asked for my choice of beverage at people’s homes, I would always raise my hands for a cup of coffee. It was coffee or nothing. I also developed a liking for a particular brand of coffee – Bru. It was milder, yummier and nothing tasted better than a hot steaming cup of Bru coffee right on my study table. I would often drink coffee with my favourite Tomato grilled sandwich.

However, I was not addicted to the drink. It just refreshed me, gave me energy to sustain the tough level of studies. Since I had a full on acrimonious relationship with milk, my coffee would be less milk and more water. I also had this method of preparing instant coffee – beat the sugar, coffee and little milk to a creamy paste and then pouring the piping hot mix of milk and water right into it. It formed a beautiful color and froth at the surface of the cup, which I looked at in awe every single time.

My tryst with coffee continued for a better part of my college life as well. I would drink it to stay awake for my project work and for my exams. I didn’t drink it in the mornings though, being a Breakfast Skipper. I needed my cuppa at night. Coffee also kept me company when I went through pages of my books.

It was college, time on hand and friends, which led me to Cafe culture, which was blooming in India and in my town. I was introduced to Capuccino, Mocha, Late, Frappe and the likes. But what really did impact me was cold coffee. I would love to have it day in and night out. I learnt how to make it at home and the hot coffee cup was now, only for winters or rainy days. I had met my soulmate in the cold version of coffee.

Quick fact: I also love every possible coffee flavored ice cream. Om nom nom.


Today, there are a lot of cafes that serve lovely coffee of my choice. These are the places where I have held many a meeting for work and hanged out with friends. Yes, they are bit overpriced. But then, you get to loiter around in the cafes for as many hours as you want, with the price of one cup or maybe two.

Also, I went to Chennai last year and for the first time in life, I was in a place that had more coffee drinkers than tea. I happily had their very famous Filter Kaapi served piping hot in stainless steel tumblers. I wish the culture finds its way to Western part of India too, where I reside.

Recently, I have taken a liking to iced tea. Still, it is coffee that creates magic in my life. ❤