Book 2 Progress

Photo by Kim van Vuuren on Pexels.com

In Heir to Malla, set in fictional Land of Magadha, you were introduced to Princess Meera, Prince Jay, Rish Vindhya, and many other characters. If their stories captivated you, you would enjoy returning to this world in book 2.

This book starts a few years later and includes many of the familiar characters you met in book 1. Because I have spent many years in these characters’ heads, the story has been flowing more naturally. The human heart in conflict is what I enjoy writing about, and there is plenty of drama to enthrall the readers.

I recently wrote Chapter 12 of the book, so I am about 40% done with my first draft. We see a main character’s chambers for the first time in this book, and I was surprised by it. And had fun envisioning how it looked.

A chapter that simmered in my head for many months was finally penned. I will go back a few weeks later to read it. I hope you like it as much as I did when I wrote it.

The next set of chapters planned essentially completes the first half and will be an emotional rollercoaster to put in words. I will probably read light romances to balance it out.

Until next time.

Book Review: Talk Nerdy to Me

Book Review of the third book in the Bookish Boyfriends series, Talk Nerdy to Me, a YA Romance.

Hi there! I am the author of Heir to Malla, a medieval fiction loosely based on India. Family drama, sword fights, romance, game of thrones are all present in the book. The story revolves around the royal siblings, Princess Meera and Prince Jay, and their human hearts in conflict.

While I am not writing, I love to read, and I just finished reading the third book in the Bookish Boyfriends series, Talk Nerdy to Me, a YA Romance.

I love the premise for the series, the protagonist identifying with a character in a novel and drawing parallels to what is happening in their real lives to what is happening to the character in the book. This is the dream of most writers, and these beloved classics have brought comfort to many of us readers. I am waiting to see what classic book is used in the fourth book of the series.

I am a stem girl, and I have coached science olympiad, so the science fair and nerd talk all resonated with me.

I wore a T-Shirt and jeans all four years of college, so I understood Eliza’s struggles with her body and her desire to be valued for her brain. Her final embrace of both was a welcome first step.

Curtis and Eliza are cute together. I did wish Curtis exhibited a wider range of emotions, including anger and frustration, but he is adorable, smart, and thoughtful.

Eliza’s insecurities are no match for Curtis’s persistence. A good role model for a teen relationship based on mutual respect.

I did not quite understand Eliza’s parents. For two brilliant scientists who seem to love and respect each other, their blind spot towards Eliza is not well reasoned. I got hints of it. Overall though, they provide the needed backdrop for Eliza’s struggles and her growth.

Merri and her family provide the much-needed warmth in the story, especially her dad. And a cast of supporting characters that would be familiar to the reader from books 1 and 2.

This is an engaging story you can read in one sitting.

Writing as therapy

When the world around us is unpredictable and chaotic, we all need an outlet to escape reality.

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

I can pick a book to read and get lost in its pages for hours. I can be following a Scotland Yard Inspector solve a murder mystery in gloomy grey London. I can be shapeshifting in a magical realm, chasing a dark lord bent on destructing the world.

I started writing five years ago, and quickly, Heir to Malla became more than a novel. Writing became a way for me to relax. The creative outlet allowed me to meditate about characters and plot, rather than worry about everyday struggles.

Writing my second book in the Land of Magadha series has kept me sane during this pandemic. I may not be able to travel anywhere in the real world, but my characters have been riding elephants and horses and sailing the seas.

These characters that have been with me for over five years feel very real to me, and I can forget about the virus for some time every day and write about Meera and Rish.

Imagining a dark corridor, hearing the sounds in a battlefield, or describing a palace feast let my mind savor these things. Instead of obsessing about things I cannot control, I can chart a course for my story.

What are you doing to keep your sanity in these times?

Foreword for Guest Blog

Readers and Writers, I published my medieval fiction Heir to Malla in 2020. The story unfolds as Princess Meera learns her brother Crown Prince Jay is missing. She sends the man she is in love with, Rish Vindhya, to search for him. Prince Amar of Padi, known for his penchant for violence, harbors desires for Malla and Meera. Suddenly, Meera is catapulted into the battle for her kingdom. If Jay is not found, the price she needs to pay is steep, her love and happiness.

As a 2020 Debut author, I wanted to showcase a fellow author’s book in my blog this week.

Guest Blog by Elizabeth Holland

The Vintage Bookshop of Memories

The Vintage Bookshop of Memories follows Prue Clemonte as she returns home for her grandmother’s funeral. Settling back into village life isn’t easy, especially when Prue becomes the victim of village gossip. As she re-arranges her life Prue stumbles upon a web of secrets that is about to turn her life upside down. To complicate matters even further she’s beginning to fall for Elliot Harrington, however his father is intent on splitting them up.

Prue won’t let a village full of people who hate her stop her from living her life and being happy. With the help of Elliot, Prue is determined to win the village over and make herself a life back home in Ivy Hatch. However, she soon begins to realise that she’s lost herself in her quest for the truth. As Prue battles to find herself can she save the bookshop, whilst also stopping the village from ruining her life?

The story behind The Vintage Bookshop of Memories 

The Vintage Bookshop of Memories was created from my desire to write a book that felt comforting. I wanted it to encompass everything that I enjoy, from an idyllic village life to vintage fashion. This book is everything that I would want to read. Essentially the story is about a woman’s quest for happiness. 

Ivy Hatch is based on a quintessential English village and every village needs an old-fashioned bookshop. The description of the bookshop has an almost magical edge to it, drawing the reading in and making them fell as though they are standing in the middle of the shop. 

‘A gasp escaped Prue as she stepped inside the shop. The smell of mustiness hit her senses as she blinked to adjust to the dim lighting. It was beautiful, a hidden treasure trove of books. If Prue could have designed her dream shop, this would be it. She stepped into the shop, leaving the door open slightly to allow some light in. A switch was to the left of the door but as she flicked it nothing happened. She would have to make do with the little natural light that the door was letting in. Books lined the walls from the floor to the ceiling. On the back wall stood a balcony, overlooking the entire shop with an old-fashioned ladder leading to it. Prue tiptoed around the room, running her fingers along the spines of all the books, they were thick with dust but they’d be fine after a good clean. There had to be thousands of books in here. She had always known her mother was a keen reader but she hadn’t known the true extent of her mother’s love for books. To the right of the shop was a counter in the same dark wood as the bookshelves, perched on the top was an old fashioned till. It was beautiful. Prue had come across a few of these during her time working in auction houses but never had she found one in such pristine condition, at least it would be pristine if it wasn’t covered in a layer of dust.’ – Chapter 4, The Vintage Bookshop of Memories.

The Vintage Bookshop of Memories uses creative and imaginative language to make the reader feel as though they are within the pages of the book. 

The Character’s in The Vintage Bookshop of Memories 

When creating my characters I want them to be fierce and inspiring and yet I don’t want them to lose that human edge. Therefore I immediately knew that whilst Prue had to be strong and independent she still had to have flaws. She makes bad decisions, drinks too much gin and all too often allows her decisions to be swayed by her emotions. 

‘With a sickening realisation Prue saw a delivery driver stood on the driveway surrounded by boxes. She had forgotten that she had spent a small fortune (actually, there was nothing small about it) on clothes last night. With some reluctance she opened the door and signed on the dotted line…

With a growing sense of excitement Prue pulled out the first garment. A crop top. What had she been thinking? As Prue pulled more items out she noticed a few that she liked the look of and so she put them to one side, the rest she could return. She would have donated some of the items to a charity shop but she couldn’t see the women of Ivy Hatch wearing a spangly diamanté handkerchief top.’ – Chapter 29, The Vintage Bookshop of Memories

Prue is the kind of woman that I aspire to be. Strong, resilient, focused on her own happiness and occasionally ordering too many clothes. 

A final word…

The Vintage Bookshop of Memories will transport you to Ivy Hatch and you’ll find yourself not wanting to leave. 

Book Review: The Henna Artist

Alka Joshi brings Jaipur alive. I can taste the food, smell her herbs, and picture the beautiful henna designs. She has painted a beautiful portrait of two sisters: Lakshmi and Radha.

The yearning in Lakshmi is palpable throughout the book. For love, for recognition, for respect, and independence. She is a grey character whose growth happens organically. I am a mother, so I did scream in my head a few times to ask Lakshmi to go after her sister. To comfort, to guide, to scold, and to hug her. Sign of good writing to get me emotionally vested.

Radha is a child of thirteen. I was mad at Lakshmi for not understanding that. My heart broke many times for what this child had to endure. I had this insane desire to protect her from the minute she appears on the page. Hats off to Alka Joshi for creating such a beautiful character.

Many side characters are carefully woven into the story, adding depth to the story.

Lakshmi and Radha, two characters imbued with humanity and all its flaws. Looking forward to the sequel.

Book link

Book 2 Progress

Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.

William Faulkner: https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/1949/faulkner/speech/

I recently finished chapter 8 of my yet untitled book 2. Since I scrapped the first few chapters of my book 1 during my edits, I have anywhere from 0 to 20% of my first draft completed.

I left plenty of hanging threads in book 1, and I am having fun pulling them to see what unravels and what tightens into a knot.

My protagonist Meera and my other POV character, who will remain nameless (Book 1 Spoilers), have plenty of conflicts – love, duty, and desires pulling them in different directions. What the self wants to do is not what is best for society. Love, that strong overpowering feeling, leading them down perilous paths with no return. And why is it so hard to do one’s duty? All happening in the backdrop of war for Magadha itself.

My next chapter is one I have envisioned happening in my head for a few months now, but sometimes these characters surprise me and take me down a road less traveled. I am excited to see how the images in my head translate into words on paper.

Inspiration for writing

My first inspiration was my grandmother. As a young child, I spent several summers with her. Mealtimes were storytimes, and I remember prolonging it, so I can hear one more story. Her stories based on Indian mythology would bring characters to life. She had excellent delivery for comedy and would have my brother and I laughing at the funny stories.

As I grew older, I read practically anything I could get my hands on. My mother would buy used books for me to read. And I used all my allowance at the local lending library borrowing books for one rupee each. I have read Tamil novels by Kalki, like someone dying of thirst gulps water. Greedily.

I have read all Jane Austen novels. Who says romance is easy to write? To write a book that appeals to someone 200 years later is monumental. Her female characters are witty, headstrong, make mistakes, and very human.

I have read several Charles Dickens novels, and my favorite is A Tale of Two Cities.

Epic fantasies with complex plots, alternate universes, and a myriad of characters are a delight to read. I have read Lord of the rings, Mistborn series, A Song of Ice and Fire, among others. Magic, when weaved carefully into a tale, can be a powerful tool in the writer’s tool kit.

Science fiction opens our mind to possibilities, and Neal Stephenson books tackle some contemporary issues, and the Dune series takes you into space.

You can find more of the recent books I have read on Goodreads.

Curl up with a good book this weekend.

Land of Magadha – Love vs Duty

Love vs Duty is a premise I explored in Book 1. This is a topic relevant in current times as well. It manifests itself as Self vs Society. Take the current pandemic and mask-wearing as an example. Wearing a mask might be good for the community, while the individual self might protest the inconvenience or health and safety concerns.

Sacrificing one’s self might be taken to an extreme. In some cultures, women are routinely asked to give up their aspirations for the welfare of their families. What is a good balance between the two, and who decides it?

My characters live in a medieval world. Fealty to the king and crown is expected. Marriages are arranged with an eye towards strengthening alliances. Do individual desires and aspirations have any place in these settings? Especially among female characters?

My characters struggle with these questions, and answers are not always easy.

Heir to Malla – POV Chronology

I use two first-person point of view characters in this book. Their storylines do not happen chronologically. The astute reader would find hints in the chapters to establish a timeline and sequence of events. This allowed me to have a little fun revealing things to the readers that my character is in the dark about. The drama comes from seeing the characters make decisions based on incomplete information, while the reader is either enjoying the ride or screaming at the book (no, no, no, don’t do it. Wrong path).

Heir To Malla – Meera

When I started writing the book, I aspired to craft a strong female protagonist, while staying true to the medieval settings. Princess Meera wields no sword or magic. Her strength is still very palpable.
She has influential role models to learn from, her grandmother, and her stepmother. These older women have very different traits and provide Meera two distinct paths to follow. What she learns from them is a subtext in her story.
Strength comes in different forms, and Princess Aranya provides an intriguing contrast to Meera. Two adjacent chapters feature Meera and Aranya, where their similarities and differences are presented, and I had fun writing those chapters.
The men in Meera’s life play a significant role in her journey. I will save that for another day.