Sunday, April 30, 2017

Book Review: The Princess of a Whorehouse: The Story of a Swamp Lotus by Mayank Sharma

Name of the Book: The Princess Of A Whorehouse
Author: Mayank Sharma 
Star Rating: 3 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

An Introduction

A story about a young girl, Aparajita, as she leaves her past behind to educate herself and also inspire her mother to come out of sex trade.

What is it about?

When Ramya falls into the clutches of the sex trade workers, all she wanted was to see to it that her daughter, Aparajita, did not fall under the same. She, along with her daughter, fights against them and comes out of the system with the help of a good samaritan. Raj not only marries Ramya but makes sure that Aparajita had a good home to call her own.

A motivating journey

I loved the way the author has only focused on the journey of Aparajita and not the negatives of the sex trade. To come out of it is really tough and our system does nothing to help them out. But when someone like Aparajita is determined enough, there can be no stopping a woman to achieve what she sets her mind for. 

‘Mamma, now Raj uncle is my daddy!’

There is so much innocence in the words of Aparajita. It's like a lotus in a swamp. And yet she tries to keep every evil thought out of her mind. She focuses on the positivity and goes after it. And achieves it too. This is the best part of the novel.

What I wanted more..

Aparajita grew up with many things lacking in her life. Her life was unusual, yet she never carried the stain of her past. That I found a bit 'neglected'. I will not say that it left any holes in the story but if her pain too would have been brought out, her grit and determination to achieve more would have reached a higher level tool.

For eg. When her mother would abuse the school bus driver for driving through their streets till the time the driver reveals a secret - it did not seem to leave much of an impact on Aparajita's life. What did she feel when the driver would roll down her street? We know her mother's emotions.. but hers?

Another thing that would have made this near perfect story even better is taking care of proofreading and editing.

A meaningful narration...

I would really like to keep aside the editing defects of this novel and focus on the questions it raises?

1) Why do we stereotype our children? We want such perfect friends for our kids that we install in their young mind whom to mix with and who is good or bad. In our black and white lives, we forget the shades of gray. We forget that girls like Aparajita exist.

2) The schools are meant as educational institutions and have not right to refuse education to any children due to their background.

3) Aparajita is a lucky girl and found a Raj. But how many such Raj's are in this world? What do women like Ramya do under such circumstances?

4) It's very clear that the money is mostly made by the pimps and the madams who run the 'houses'? So even after sleeping with multiple partners in a day, the prostitutes don't earn anything. What is our government doing? Is it only the headache of the social workers who get no help from our police bodies too?

I think Mayank Sharma has done a fabulous job in raising these question. If only he got it better edited, I would have given this book a 5 star. 

Grab your copy here 

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Blog Tour: The Indus Challenge by R. Durgadoss

R. Durgadoss


Bharat is in chaos. While the kingdoms fight each other, Alexander’s forces gather for the assault, their leader lured by tales of supernatural weapons and the elixir of immortality. Only one man can save the subcontinent from domination by the Greeks: the young Chandragupta Maurya, trained under the aegis of the ‘dark brahmin’, Chanakya.

When an ancient seal is found, sharing the secrets of the brahmastra, the redoubtable weapon of the Mahabharat, it is up to Rudra, young commander of the Mauryan Nava Yuva Sena and lifelong friend and confidante of Chandragupta, to decode it. Along with his fellow commandos, and with the able guidance of his guru, Rudra embarks on a quest that takes him from the snowy peaks of the Himalayas to the seas of Rameshwaram, hunting the clues that will lead him to the brahmastra. On the way, he meets the Chiranjivis, ancient beings tasked with divine duties, and learns the secrets behind his own birth and his mysterious powers.

But Rudra must be careful, for not all enemies were dispersed with the death of the mighty Alexander. Treachery lurks in the home, and when Rudra is framed for the attempted murder of his sovereign, he must pull every trick at his disposal to reveal the enemy, and save his kingdom from plunging, once more, into bloodshed and chaos.

A historical, mythological adventure story, The Indus Challenge is sure to appeal to readers interested in the storied past of India and the legends woven into its soil.

Read an excerpt of The Indus Challenge here:

330 bc
The Macedonians and Greeks came with Alexander the Great to the Hindu Kush range. They were mesmerized by the land of the gods, snow-covered, forested mountains higher than Olympus. The sun rising and setting among the glistening peaks painted a breathtaking picture. They were entranced by the stories of the magical kingdoms of the air; of the heavens; of Vishnu and Shiva; of cities in the sky inhabited by sky demons. They were fascinated by the story of Surya, the sun god, who galloped across the sky each day in his golden chariot, pulled by the five horses, while down below in the dark bowels of the earth were giant serpents, red-eyed, flesh-eating demons and other creatures of the underworld.
It was at this time that the people of Bharat were looking inwards, while the Macedonians aggressively explored outwards and wanted to conquer the world. The kingdoms of Bharat were threatened by the aggressive Macedonians. No king or kingdom was free from the aggressor’s attack. Fragmented kingdoms, disunity and distrust among the rulers made these kingdoms an easy target for the Macedonians.
During this period, several events are shrouded in mystery—what brought Alexander to India? How did he die at such a young age? What were the origins of Chandragupta Maurya? How did a young lad of humble origins take on a mighty king? How did a poor Brahmin pundit help a poor young man rise to power from nowhere? What extraordinary powers did Chandragupta possess that made him so successful? Who were his key generals? Who won wars for him? The questions are endless.
There are several seemingly unconnected dots, as the history of this time is shrouded in deep mystery. Rudra effortlessly unlocks the ancient secrets and aligns the unconnected dots. Mystery unravelled; secrets decoded…
In the second avatar (Janam Two) as Rudra during the tumultuous times of Alexander and Chanakya, he offers stunning clues and revelations. His decrypting skills leave a trail that answers several mysteries in our rich history.
At last, Rudra, heading the Nine Unknown Men Army (NUM), has arrived to decode the secrets to save humanity from cataclysm and extinction.
Parthiva year, 306 bc, Kartika (November) month, Friday evening.
The Massaga fort in the Hindu Kush had surrendered to Rudra, the commander-in-chief of the Mauryan army. He was taking stock of the situation. At this hour, a cry hit his ears. ‘Meri raksha karo! (Please save me from the barbarians!’) A woman’s shrieking voice reverberated against the mountains.
‘Why does this lady cry so?’ asked Rudra, looking curiously at his companion. He turned in the direction from where the voice was coming. To his surprise, he saw two cages in which two persons stood, chained. There was a young woman around twenty-two years old, and in the other cage was a bright young lad.
Rudra looked at the cage closely. The woman was gorgeous, seductive, shapely. Her hair was kohl-black, and cascaded over her shoulders. She had thin eyebrows, velvety eyelashes, sea-nymph ears, a sharp nose, shiny white teeth, almond-shaped eyes and glossy skin.
She was wasp-waisted, and her pouting, luscious lips conveyed her displeasure. Her hips and bust were almost of equal size. Her perfect shape reminded him of many icons of beauty he had seen. Her fleshy rounded back attracted his attention.
Rudra realized that he was going overboard ogling at the young women. But in spite of her beautiful features, she seemed to be a fading flower, possibly due to her weakness and exhaustion.
He turned his head towards the surrendered commander of the opposing army, Dharma Sena.
‘Dharma Sena, who are these caged persons?’ asked Rudra.
‘Forget these idiots, Commander. Let me take you round the fort.’ Dharma Sena said, ‘This is Massaga, the great fort city of the Asvakas, the tribe of horsemen. To the south and west are gigantic rocks which defy climbing. To the east is the swift-flowing mountain torrent, the Masakavati river. This famous fort is situated on a hill 6,000 feet high and has a circumference of twelve miles. At the top of the fort, there is arable land requiring a thousand men to cultivate it. This land is capable of feeding more than 30,000 men indefinitely. There are also perennial springs and reservoirs. Every hill here is a natural fort, Commander. Every man here is a horse soldier, Commander. A mighty rampart of stone, brick and timber surrounds the fort, which also has a moat on three sides and the river on the fourth.
‘Commander, “Masika” means “serpent’s hole”, a name indicating the supposed impregnability of the fort and the valour of its defender.’
‘I realize how impregnable your fort is, Dharma Sena. I had to use my best skills to tame you and your fort. By the way, I am impressed by the seven gates leading to the citadel. Can you give me an overview of your fort, Dharma Sena?’
‘You have sharp eyes, Commander. You noticed our seven gates? I am impressed. Let me show you around.’

Grab your copy @ | | | Flipkart

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About the author

A consistent Top Rank holder and a Gold Medallist throughout his academics, Mr. Durgadoss has had a career spanning 30 years comprising of depth from industry and width from management consultancy as highlights. He has held various senior management positions in top notch companies. Having travelled extensively on consulting assignments, he has interacted with prominent International Bodies like the UNIDO, Investment Bankers and companies held by Professors of Harvard Business School. He has a rare exposure to multiple cultures namely, MNCs, Home grown large groups, family concerns and public sector undertakings during his career. He is blessed with 360 degree analytical skills, which in turn emanates from his all round experience as a Functional head, General manager, Entrepreneur and a Board director. He is an advisor on the board of Directors of several companies benefiting the organizations with his remarkable cross functional skills and his up to date knowledge. Currently he is the Group Director – Finance and Strategy, House of S.T.Bhatia, United Arab Emirates (UAE). In addition he is the chief mentor, coach and Co – Promoter of Icon Management Services (IMS), UAE. Unceasing ‘Value Addition’ and not just ‘Validation’ is the mantra of success for IMS, a multi – disciplinary management consultancy organisation. He has multi-sectoral / cultural/ territorial/ functional exposure with proven track record of success. He is a PhD on Corporate Governance which involves CSR dimensions. He has delivered several lectures in various forums on Character, Competence and Consciousness (3Cs) towards the society and also has several articles to his credit.

Track travelled...

Raising the altitude from a functional entrant to a functional champion, extending his width as a management consultant of a Big 4 firm, he took up the profit centre head position, with a challenging revival assignment in the mid nineties.

Then he moved up to the entrepreneurial mode by taking up the role of a Managing Director of a new venture. Due to several macro economic factors, the venture went into deep trouble. He faced the worst disaster of his life on this venture, losing money, peace and friends, who invested along with him. From the brink of bankruptcy, he fought back to reach the basin of wisdom & wealth in the current assignment as the Director of a large group based in Dubai. The turbulence he went through during this phase tested his character & confidence. Now, along with Dr. Yerram Raju, his co-author, he has penned down this book on Character driven Competence, which elucidates practical ways of ‘Winning without Sinning’. He always says ‘Momentum leaders don’t wait for the waves; instead they build their waves and ride on them’.

After having fought the greatest wars in the deep chambers of his soul, he came triumphant, obtained his PHD in Corporate Governance and now presents the book with the worldly wisdom, gained by him during his career. 

‘Experience is the greatest from of Education’ says Dr. Durgadoss.

You can stalk him @       


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Schedule: The Indus Challenge by R. Durgadoss

NameType of PostDate
Jasleen KaurSpotlight5/2/2017
Rakhi JayashankarSpotlight5/4/2017
Reshma RanjanSpotlight5/4/2017
Devika FernandoSpotlight5/5/2017
Inderpreet Kaur UppalSpotlight5/6/2017
Nilima MohiteSpotlight5/6/2017
Chittajit MitraSpotlight5/7/2017
Jasleen KaurReview5/7/2017
vasrao raoSpotlight5/8/2017
Sundari VenkatramanReview5/8/2017
Reshma RanjanSpotlight5/9/2017
Sundari VenkatramanSpotlight5/10/2017
Rakhi JayashankarReview5/10/2017
Geeta NairReview5/11/2017
Devansh DesaiReview5/11/2017
Kruti ShahReview5/12/2017
Deep DownerReview5/12/2017
Shelly BajwaReview5/13/2017
Mahati ramya adivishnuReview5/13/2017
Jasleen KaurInterview5/13/2017
Aparna nayakReview5/14/2017
Anugya SinhaReview5/14/2017
Khushboo ShahInterview5/14/2017
Geeta NairReview5/15/2017
Yogita JoshiReview5/15/2017
Inderpreet Kaur UppalInterview5/15/2017
Vishnu ChevliReview5/16/2017

Khushboo ShahGuest Post5/16/2017
Arnab ChaudhuriReview5/17/2017
Amar NaikReview5/17/2017
Jasleen KaurGuest Post5/17/2017

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

New Blog Tour: half pants full pants by Anand Suspi

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

'Editing Matters: What kind of editing does your book need?' by Sonia Rao

What do you do once you have self-edited your novel? Send it to the publisher, right?


As a writer you are too close to your work. Your book is the baby you created and it is a well- known fact that for every mother their baby is the world’s best baby. Mothers (as in creators) are blind to all the faults in their child. This is important too because it ensures that the child gets the best care and opportunity for survival. But if that baby is a spoilt kid, it can be a big pain in the a** when it misbehaves in public spaces.

In the same way, if your book is going to be out in public you need to be sure it is on its best behavior, i.e. it is the best version of the book.

Creators have an inbuilt bias towards their creation (which is necessary too in order for creation to happen) but an objective pair of eyes perusing the work and providing a critique can be the final finessing act that can raise the level of that work of art (the novel, in this case).

In the case of a book, it is the editor whose eyes will search out the weaknesses and the problem areas in the story and thus provide the necessary push-pull- polish.

What do I need? A beta reader or an editor?

Do I need a beta reader or an editor? This is a question that is asked most often in regards to editing.

An editor’s work begins where a beta reader’s ends.

A beta reader will read the book mostly as a reader and not like a trained writer and will provide you an overview feedback. You can also ask for feedback on specific parts of your story, depending on their skills and their interest. But they will not be able to provide you specific suggestions on making your story stronger.

E.g: the beta reader might tell you that your character seems one-dimensional. The editor will be able to take this input further and provide you specific suggestions to remedy it.

Labels are generally limiting. And it is not a hard and fast rule that you need a beta reader and an editor. But if you can get initial feedback on your story from people whose reading and writing skills you trust and admire then you are fortunate. These people would be called your beta readers.

A beta reader who gives you in-depth, insightful feedback is an editor. Every book needs an editor. Just like a doctor cannot (and should not) self-diagnose, in the same way, a writer who is an editor needs another pair of eyes to study their MS and provide editing advice.

Do you know which form of editing your book requires?

Every book requires different editing treatments. Depending on your story and your skill as a reader and writer and of course your grasp of the language you are writing in, you can choose the type of editing required for your MS.

The different types of editing:

1) Developmental Editing

This is the Big Momma of all editing. Developmental editing is the one in which the editor takes a bird’s-eye view (and an eagle eye, too) of your story, checking for elements like character and narrative arcs, setting, holes in your plot, pacing, and tone. A Developmental Editor (DE) will go through your story with a fine-tooth comb and straighten out the chinks of slow pacing, broken story connections and non-adherence to the themes and genre, amongst other issues. Even if most of it is instinctive, DEs do keep a list in the back of their head of the different elements in the story that must be tracked to fulfill their position in the story. Without a doubt, story is king and the DE has to ensure the royal duties are taken care of (okay, the analogy got stretched a bit there).

2) Line-editing

This is more of a sentence-specific editing. Micro-editing, of sorts. But also, it’s about making your prose sing. Is your choice of words the best that it can be? If the line-editor feels it is not, they are going to provide suggestions. They will check that the big-big words you used are right for the context and whether they are the best choice. Does your sentence stand well and is the flow of words smooth – a LE will check those. Repetitions, verbosity and grammar checking also come under the ambit of the Line Editor.

3) Proofreading

Recently I read somewhere that authors are leaving a couple of typos uncorrected in their novels because apparently it thrills the reader to catch them. Am not sure if it has been verified but I wouldn’t advise you to leave typos in your own novel. A good proofreader will ensure your text is free of typos and punctuation glitches. If you are fluent in the language you are writing in you could do your own proofreading. In order to avoid reader bias (filling in words that are missing or overlooking misspelled words because you are so familiar with your novel by now), you could read your novel backwards.

If you are the curious types (all writers are, aren’t they?) then you must have come across the word copy-editing, often used in conjunction with line-editing. This form of editing is different in the sense that it finds usage mostly in the editing of non-fiction.

About the Author

Sonia Rao

Sonia Rao is the editor of Mumbai Mom ( She is also a fiction writer and editor, and an award-winning blogger ( Her fiction has appeared and is forthcoming in many prestigious anthologies.

As NaNoWriMo’s Municipal Liaison for all-India and founder of the Wrimo India group, Sonia has motivated thousands of people in India to write a novel every November since 2011. She also expedited and edited the first Wrimo India Anthology, Vengeance – A Sting In Every Tale.

Next: Important things to remember when editing your novel.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Lopamudra Banerjee, author of 'Thwarted Escape: An Immigrant's Wayward Journey' speaks to A.K. Nanda

Author Lopamudra Banerjee

‘Thwarted Escape: An Immigrant’s Wayward Journey’, the debut memoir/ nonfiction novel by Lopamudra Banerjee (published by Authorspress, in October 2016) has recently received Honorary Mention at the Los Angeles Book Festival, 2017. A Journey Awards 2014 recipient, hosted by Chanticleer Reviews, the book which first took shape at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Creative Nonfiction program, is best described as the author’s subtle, complex and organic journey, where she evolves from a small-town girl in India to a woman, reconnecting with her ancestral home, her emotionally fraught childhood and puberty, all the while looking for the meaning and essence of ‘home’. In conversation with the author, ace editor and scholar Mr. A.K. Nanda discusses her journey of writing and publishing the book, while delving into its theme, style, genre and other relevant areas.

A.K. Nanda: Hello Lopa. Congratulations on the publication of your book ‘Thwarted Escape’. When did you begin conceptualizing the book? Did you plan out the entire flow at the outset and then set about assimilating the pieces? Or did it develop brick by brick as you went along with its creation?

Lopamudra: In the preface of my book ‘Thwarted Escape’, I write: “Eight years ago, during an early fall afternoon, I was walking past the trees and green shrubs that stood between concrete buildings and their closely bolted doors, smelling the air, sand and soil of a graduate school that I had just stepped into. I had migrated with my husband to a part of Midwestern America which we had not seen or heard of until we decided to move there almost three years back. That very day, my pregnant mind was wandering, with the Midwestern winds and the dry, sweltering September heat, into the world of memories, crushed, brittle, yet resurfacing from unexpected nooks of my consciousness. It was in the crowded writing lab inside the bolted doors of one of those buildings that the seed of this book was sown.” This brief introduction kind of summarizes my complex and organic journey with the book. I did develop the book brick by brick, or word by word, as I went along this arduous, yet gratifying journey. I started out when I was in the third trimester of my first pregnancy, as it was then that the idea of carving a memoir in a letter form addressed to my unborn daughter struck me, spurred on by Dr. Lisa Knopp, my mentor of Creative Nonfiction at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. After my two daughters were born, and I went back and forth between traveling to India and the US, the idea of writing a diaspora and migration story reared its head stronger every day, and I trusted my instincts and plunged into it head-on.  As I have said in another interview too, initially there was no book, but only a number of disjointed narratives/personal essays where my pent up, calcified memories wreaked havoc in my mind. The book took shape when I realized that all of them could come together and take a novel-like curve. I am indebted to my mentors and my writing circle friends who have seen merit in the manuscript and inspired me to share my story with the world.

A.K. Nanda: What inspired you to write this book which made you unload many things that are intensely personal?

Lopamudra: During my tenure as a part time writer pursuing masters’ degree in English in the US with emphasis in Creative nonfiction, I came across this wonderful book, ‘Tell It Slant’, edited by Brenda Miller and Suzanne Paola, which had opened up whole new vistas of writing about one’s own self, while situating oneself at the core of his/her family, the microcosm, and the world, the greater window. Coming across the memoirs and essays of authors like Joan Didion, Jamaica Kincaid, Maya Angelou, Maxime Hong Kingston, Naomi Shihab Shye and Alice Walker, I was introduced to a treasure trove of their complex, intricate and mind-blowing emotional experiences where these women have bared it all, with élan, their volatile inner cosmos and their struggles within their society, culture, families, and within their own selves. While these women authors have cumulatively been my principal inspiration, I also was fascinated by this definition of a memoir by William Zinsser: “Good memoirs are a careful act of construction…memoir writers must manufacture a text, imposing narrative order on a jumble of half-remembered events.” In my case, while in the process of writing ‘Thwarted Escape’, I was seeking my own catharsis for varied reasons, I also was looking into ways that would make my own truthful stories about girlhood, womanhood, motherhood and my immigrant narratives resonate with the readers to illuminate their own lives and perceptions. And while starting with this ‘jumble of half-remembered events’, I did bare my soul and chisel myself as a narrator depicting some of the most excruciating, exhaustive and even some life-changing moments and
epiphanies in the book.  And yes, I did it, while situating myself at the core of my ‘home’, ‘family’, and the various particulars of my emotional landscape, which thankfully, have enabled me to give the narrative a perspective that perhaps would not have been possible if I had written an entirely fictional narrative. 

A.K. Nanda: You took two long years to contemplate leaving your home and parents for good but found yourself longing to return to the chaos and bickering of your parents’ home. How would you explain the absurdities of a Bengali household becoming so attractive?

Lopamudra: In an in-depth, analytic review of ‘Thwarted Escape’, published in Learning & Creativity e-mag, Shabir Ahmed Mir has reflected on the subtle, organic forces that are at work in the book in a very intriguing way. “Like all first-generation immigrants, she is torn between two worlds. There is always a nagging implicit guilt about a new world usurping her original ‘Home’: in reality and in memory. There is a subtle interplay and tension between these two identities: the Woman identity is the centrifugal one, pulling her away from her home and her society because that is the only way of breaking free from it; the Immigrant identity is the centripetal one that calls across the seas to her to come back to her filial obligations and ties, to the joy and love of her city.” He points out, very aptly. When I revisit my hometown and my childhood home, I return not only to the chaos and bickering, but also to filial ties and to my own volatile self strung like a marionette to those ties, to the passionate fervor and nostalgia of those pent up, calcified memories. Yes, it is a complex journey, after all.

A.K. Nanada: An immigrant is not a natural citizen of the country where he/she lives. Does it make any impact on you that you do not belong to the country you live?

Lopamudra: I do really find myself in a conscious as well as unconscious limbo every time I journey back and forth between my hometown Barrackpore, Kolkata and the various cities in the US in which I have had my moorings, Buffalo, Omaha and now Dallas, striving to strike roots in each of my adopted homes I have embraced. Hence the thought of writing this diaspora and migration story/memoir in which I seek the essence and meaning of ‘home’ and also my self- identity as a woman, a mother and a daughter, living ten thousand miles away from her Bengali hometown in the outskirts of Kolkata.

A.K. Nanda: To whom you are born is as important as where you are born – the climate, the culture, the pattern of living, the flora and fauna, etc. Do you think it is true?

Lopamudra: Yes, the filial ties, the family and the roots of an individual is without any doubt, an integral part of an individual’s persona. As for myself, it is unimaginable to think of my own existence without thinking of the elemental chaos, the sights, smells and sounds of the streets of my hometown, the quirky humor and idiosyncrasies of my parents, relatives, neighbors and my family, the river Ganges that flows at the heart of my hometown Barrackpore, the rickshaw puller that takes me back from the ‘ghat’ (banks) of the river to my parents’ home. All these and much more form an integral part of the narrative of my book, while all the time haunted by the nostalgia and the tyranny of memory even as I trudge along the manicured by lanes of my adopted home in the US.

A.K. Nanda: Does it occur to you that your remembering and returning time and again to your roots
despite everything – there is something you cannot run away from?

Lopamudra: Well, that, to me, is the basic premise behind writing this book, in the first place. ‘Thwarted Escape’, the name of my book is born out of the conscious yet subtle interplay of tension between moving away and returning, as I touch upon the metaphor of home and the act of subconsciously embracing the physical and emotional landscape of our birthplace, however much we evade it. It is also about a woman’s self-chosen exile in the US, the back story behind that exile and also the sense of oscillation that she feels in both the worlds. The moment she thinks she has assimilated in her adopted home, she disintegrates, in nostalgia and pain. When she revisits her hometown time and again, she realizes her volatile, passionate ongoing journey with her roots and the fact that she has not been able to break free from it at all.

A.K. Nanda: Your excellent use of imagery could have gone well in a long poem, describing your wayward journey rather than in a dry prose. Is there any special reason of choosing monologue prose form? Don’t you think a lot of lyrical charm of this wayward journey that could have been achieved in a poetry form sort of meanders away in prose?

Lopamudra: Well, if you have read the entire book, it is neatly divided into four sections;  on childhood, womanhood, motherhood, and the intersection between life and death, and apart from monologue prose form, for which my chief inspiration is the stream-of- consciousness way of storytelling, I do employ a lot of other literary devices, like double narrative (inspired by Natalie Sarraute’s autobiographical essays), adding real-life dialogues, letters which reflect some metaphorical truths I wanted to convey through the narrative journey, and also the literary journalism style of presenting some montages and memorabilia (as in the chapters ‘To Ravaged Nymphs’ and ‘Writing the Woman’s Life’). The narrator of the book is none other than my own alter-ego. It would have been nearly impossible for me to depict these complex nuances in a single long poem, and also, if I would have chosen a fictional narrative to represent it all, the emotions would not have been as raw, as palpable as it is in its nonfictional form. But yes, for the poetic prose, I am indebted to my reading of Sylvia Plath, Kamala Das, Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf, and even, the contemporary essayists/novelists Annie Dillards, Naomi Shoaib Shye as these phenomenal women have taught me the value and essence of a ruminative, emotional journey, unfolding the deep, dark chambers of their souls. I hope thus, I have been able to engage the readers.

A.K. Nanda: Do you think it is possible to have the taste of freedom amid countless bondages?

Lopamudra: I would like to quote Virginia Woolf in answer to this: “There is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” I have answered it in various layers, I guess, in the chapter ‘Writing The Woman’s Life’, and also in some other chapters where I reflect on what it means to be tied to the patriarchal society, culture, family, and what it means to break free of it, which has its very own nuances as well.

A.K. Nanda: Happiness is a state of mind, irrespective of what you are and where you are. When you live with integrity, your heart begins to fill with happiness as vast as the universe. Do you agree with this view?

Lopamudra: Dr. Seuss had once famously said: “Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.” As for my self-identity as a writer, I find the richest fiber of my soul when I look at my life, its crests and ridges, bumps and bolts enriched by the touchstone of love. Love that is profound and inexplicable, whether in human or familial ties, or love that is manifested in the way I embrace nature, gives me the impetus to live with integrity, and happiness stems from love.

A.K. Nanda: Fiction or biographies or even research-oriented books probably find buyers more easily that personal memoirs. What has been the reception to your book in your native country and your adopted country?

Lopamudra: Contrary to the clichéd assumptions, I would very much like to mention that memoirs, personal narratives or collections of personal essays have always found their niche, discerning audience and that precious books like ‘The Narrative of Frederick Douglas’, ‘I know Why The Caged Bird Sings’ by Maya Angelou, ‘Notes of a Native Son’ by James Baldwin, ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’ by Joan Didion, ‘Night’ by Elie Wiesel and also the personal essays of Virginia Woolf, including ‘A Room of One’s Own’ have earned their rightful places as classics in the estate of literature. Critically acclaimed international authors of the Indian Diaspora like Bharati Mukherjee, Pico Iyer, Bhanu Kapil Ryder have written and published personal narratives/essays. In recent times, we have seen the phenomenal success of Saroo Brierly’s memoir ‘A Long Way Home’, adapted as the award-winning film ‘Lion'. And there are many other instances, like The Motorcycle Diaries (based on The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey by Che Guevara), Nick Flynn’s great memoir ‘Another Bullshit Night in Suck City’, ‘This Boy’s Life’ by Tobias Wolff, ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’ (based on Jean-Dominique Bauby’s memoir), and the list goes on. So I would always say that rather than believing in water-tight genres and sub-genres fed by the publishing industry, and rather than focusing only on them, it should be the aim of every writer worth his/her salt to know his/her inner voice, to strive to carve it the best way possible, with honest, impactful storytelling. As a matter-of- fact, a memoir can very much be read as a 1st person narrative fiction, and a novel exploring the metaphorical truth of a character/characters can have autobiographical elements in it. What matters at the end is the journey that transpires in its pages.

As for ‘Thwarted Escape’, though I must admit it had been hard to find a publisher for it in the beginning, following its publication, the response has really been appreciative. The book has recently been placed as an Honorable Mention at the Los Angeles Book Festival 2017 (category: memoir/autobiography), and in 2014, the manuscript had been a Journey Awards recipient, hosted by Chanticleer Reviews and Media. Several renowned literary journals and magazines have featured the book, including the Setu International bilingual e-mag, Café Dissensus (New York-based journal), Different Truths e-zine, Women’s Web, and South Asian Times of Australia. Several readers have reviewed the book very positively in Amazon, Goodreads and Facebook, and have personally messaged me to say how they have been inspired by my autobiographical narratives. What more can I ask for my debut baby in paperback? I am truly thankful for the response it has garnered back at home and in the US, within five months of its release.

A.K. Nanda: What are you working on next?

Lopamudra: At the moment, there are several writing and editing projects in the pipeline, those are very close to my heart. Poetry is my life-blood, and my literary blog consists of more than 100 poems, out of which many are published in journals and anthologies both in India and in the US. I am currently working on editing my first solo poetry collection and also another work-in- progress is a short story collection, which I aim to publish sometime in 2017. I am also working on several other literary translations (Bengali to English), and also on the English translation of a very contemporary project, based on three actresses’ lives in modern day Mumbai. Also, my second book as a co-editor, a collection of spine-chilling eerie stories is in its final editing stage, and might see the light of the day soon.

About the Author

Lopamudra Banerjee is a writer, poet, editor and translator, currently based in Dallas, USA. She has a Masters’ degree with thesis in creative nonfiction writing from the Department of English, University of Nebraska at Omaha. She is the co-editor of the bestselling anthology on women, Defiant Dreams: Tales of Everyday Divas, published in collaboration with Readomania and Incredible Women of India. Thwarted Escape: An Immigrant's Wayward Journey, her debut memoir/nonfiction novel, published by Authorspress, has recently received Honorable Mention at the Los Angeles Book Festival 2017. The manuscript has also been a First Place Category Winner at the Journey Awards 2014 hosted by Chanticleer Reviews and Media LLC. Her literary works have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, both in India and the US. Her poetry has been published in The Significant Anthology, Umbilical Chords: An Anthology on Parents Remembered, Kaafiyaana, and her fiction is forthcoming in Silhouette I and II anthology, to be published by Authorspress. She has received the Reuel International Award 2016 (category: Translation) for her English translation of Rabindranath Tagore's novella Nastanirh (translated as The Broken Home) instituted by The Significant League, a renowned literature group in Facebook, and the book is available in Amazon Kindle.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

There can't be a greater healer than love, says author Udai Yadla

Author Udai Yadla

Broken or shattered in love for the first time, does true love happen again the second time? Your thoughts.

Love is an emotion that dominates all your senses. It creates such a profound impact that it will change the way you think. It will change your world. When the beautiful world woven by the threads of love is shattered, it creates a deep wound - A wound that can be cured only by love. Yes, the wound created by love can only be healed by love. Love is not what can be controlled. And love does not happen by choice. Love is a magic spark that happens without your knowledge. When the magic happens, you are just a spectator.

It is always great to be in love. It fulfills the purpose of life. There can be no treasure greater than love. There can be no joy greater than love.

When you are shattered in love, there can’t be a pain greater than that. It can be devastating. But life is all about hope - Hope for a silver lining in the dark clouds, hope for light at the end of the tunnel. And the hope is love. There can’t be a greater healer than love.

But if you ask me if true love happens for the second time – I don’t know. Nobody does. Technically it depends on the impact created by the break up. If the impact is hatred, you are less prone to second love. And if the impact is grief, you are more prone. But either case, the possibility of second love is not ruled out. I would personally like to believe that second love does happen. It, in no way means disrespect to your first love. When you thoroughly understand love, you’ll know that love does not restrict your heart.

About the Author

Udai Yadla is a passionate author and poet. Mechanical engineer by education, Software engineer by profession, Writer by passion. Owing to his job, he travelled to various cities, socializing with people of different cultures. He cultivated interest in learning more about people, which perhaps enticed him into the study of human psychology. His interest in psychology is evident in his writings. His first book 'A walk in the rain' is widely appreciated equally by critics and peers. He has been nominated for Forbes India Celebrity 100 List. He is the most sought after author among young breed of authors. He is currently working on his next novel, which is a psychological thriller.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Book Review: 1857 Dust of Ages Vol 1: A Forgotten Tale by Vandana Shanker

Name of the Book: 1857 Dust Of Ages
Author: Vandana Shanker
Star Rating: 5 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

An Introduction

This is not a novel nor a novelette. Having said that you need to read this short introduction to the series to fall in love with Vandana's writing. 

What is it about?

Set in the period of 1857 when the British Raj was controlling the privy purses of the small kingdoms of India, a British soldier falls in love with  Princess Meera. The gateway to this period is through the POV of Shiv who has found some old documents in his grandmother's old haveli.  A tale that spins over time and crosses the boundaries of past and present, will keep any historical romance lovers enthralled. 

But keep in mind that this story ends abruptly and you will rush to pick up the Volume 2 in the series like I am doing. 

The language of the Author

Is beautiful. Very descriptive and her strength is the way she describes an environment. Very apt for this genre where visualization of a scene is very much needed. 

Shiv's grandmother owned an old haveli. Since his parents were settled in Singapore from the time he was 6 years old, they now felt that she had become too old to stay alone. Shiv got to see the old documents that belonged to generations of his family. That excites the historian in him.

"The room held all the memorabilia of the past – discarded cartons and boxes, old utensils, some broken furniture, out-of-date fittings, Shiv’s old cycle and a cricket bat.  Through the golden motes of dust, Amma pointed at the wooden chest in one corner. Shiv dragged it out and carried it to the living room."

In some of the scenes, I got goosebumps the way she has described the period of 1857. Those creaking doors and the glitter from the past - the abandoned and the false sense of securities of the rajas of that period have are well written. 

Interesting topic 

I found the period she chose very rare. Not many stories of this period in the Indian history is available (I think) Women are not shown in their subdued forms but rather as equals. Though she was not given the right to rule but it was not due to the rules the Indians had for their women but rather the political aspirations of the Britishers. Or maybe a mix of both. But this short introduction to the series got me ready to read the already published books of this series. 

Weaving a periodic tale

Historical romance is a difficult genre to write. Not only are the stats need to be correct but weaving the tale around those stats is equally challenging.

Bhanu Pratap had seen these privileges erode with time. The relationship with the neighboring kingdoms had changed. The British Company became too strong.

The changing period from monarchy to the British Raj. The changing attitude of the natives from nationalists to British loyalist of this era weaved as a story from the point of view of Shiv, John, and Meera. Looking forward to reading the remaining in the series from Vandana.

Grab your copy here 

Finding The Angel: Where it all Began

Have you ever seen a writer's face when they see a review on Goodreads or Amazon? I never knew the feeling till I got my very first review of Knitted Tales. Well, that is the tale for another day. One of my readers asked me why I chose a Faberge Egg as the subject of my story. Here is a small tale attached to that.

The year was 1983 (I think).

Have you seen those egg toffees in India?

They looked something like the picture on the left side of this post but more colorful. I couldn't find a more authentic pic than this. So as the tale proceeds, my two-year-old bro was crazy after these colorful eggs but we were forbidden to eat it. You would get this from the local small grocery shops at I think 12 pieces for Re.1

My mom found it out that I have bought him those eggs without asking anyone and I got all the verbal thrashing. Now my mom had a peculiar way of thrashing her kids. She would tell us stories which generally had a moral in the story. But this time she told me a love story. The love story of a Russian Czar who stole a very expensive egg for his Princess and had to face many difficulties to find the egg. It was nothing to do with my Re.1 eggs but it stayed in mind for a long time. It was such a beautiful tale. Later I realized that she was telling me a story about a Faberge Egg. The history of which I will continue in my next post. 

Thank you +Dola Basu Singh for this lovely review. You can find her review for my Finding The Angel in Goodreads 

You can always grab my book from  Amazon and it's also available on Kindle Unlimited. 

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Book Blitz: The Princess of A Whorehouse by Mayank Sharma

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Mayank Sharma


Aparajita is a tenacious go-getter. Her name means unconquerable in Sanskrit, and she lives up to its meaning. 

Just like any other ambitious girl, she desires to fulfil her dreams and become an independent individual. Far and wide, the shadow of her melancholy past chases her passage. The fact that her widowed mother is a former sex worker irks the community. Nonetheless, she is not ashamed to reveal her mother's past. 

Will she lose hope, or will she defy an enigma that is centuries-old? Will she ever conquer the hearts of a prestige-obsessed community? 

See the world through Aparajita's prism in a tale stirred by some real life events.

Grab your copy @ | | | Flipkart

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About the author

Mayank Sharma is a computer engineering graduate with post-graduation in business management. He works with a leading technology multinational in Delhi. He has authored a number of articles and white papers on software technology and processes. For the first time in April 2014, his article was featured in Better Software magazine published in Florida, USA. Writing has become Mayank's greatest passion when he observed how it can trigger the winds of change. He is gradually transforming from a “left-brained” writer to a “right-brained” writer. Besides writing, he is passionate about sketching, painting, and making sculptures since childhood.

India is the fifth-largest economy in the world with the Gross Domestic Product growth at 7.1 percent. Contrary, India ranks 118 out of 157 countries in the happiness index. The fact seized Mayank’s attention towards social problems affecting social support, freedom of choices, and generosity, to name a few. Having travelled across continents and associated with people with diverse beliefs and values, he became more curious about the social riddles curtailing liberties across societies. He penned his debut novel, The Princess of a Whorehouse, when he came across some real life incidents that quivered his soul.

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