Priyanka Chopra shines in Quantico!

I finally got around to watching the new ABC show, Quantico. Watching Priyanka Chopra was primarily the reason for my curiosity for this show. And I have to say that having watched about 12 episodes of the series, I don’t see Priyanka Chopra, the Bollywood heroine that I am used to seeing on screen, instead I see Alex Parrish. Priyanka has done an incredible job to transform into the character of an FBI agent and her hard work clearly shows!

I am a big fan of American Television shows and their quality of production and writing! Having watched all episodes of Criminal Minds, this show (Quantico) definitely seemed interesting. The novelty for me was to see the agents in training in Quantico. I have only seen FBI agents in action before in other shows. I think the vision and concept of Quantico is pretty impressive. I do however feel that the way the show has been presented, it is a little bit complicated to follow. It may be because I binged watched a lot of episodes but at times, the back and forth between present and past was taxing for the brain. Congrats to the team on getting the second season approved. Hopefully the second season will be easier to follow.

In general I feel that the audience gets captivated if the characters in these shows are interesting. Such as Walter White in Breaking Bad and Neal Caffery in White Collar. I still miss seeing Neal Caffery on screen, such was the impact of his character. Quantico‘s team has also done a great job in choosing very distinct and diverse set of FBI agents and they do make an impression on you. Besides Priyanka Chopra’s character, I really like Miranda Shaw, very elegantly played.

If you like thrillers and are interested in how FBI agents are trained, Quantico will appeal to you.


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Kapil Sharma brand of laughter is back!

I just watched the second (April 24th) episode of The Kapil Sharma Show and loved it! I am a fan of Kapil Sharma brand of humor and the new show is very refreshing with new, interesting and creatively funny characters. There are some similarities with the previous show, Comedy Nights with Kapil which the fans will find comforting such as Kapil’s monologue and Navjot Singh Sidhu’s shero-shayari. But the fans will also definitely appreciate the changes that have been made in the new show. Kapil’s monologue had always been the USP of the show and it was really nice to see that continue. His delivery and connect with the common man is endearing.

Here are a few highlights of the new show:

  • Sunil Grover has surpassed all his previous characters as Dr. Mashoor. He is hilarious, adventurous and quite clever with his comic timing.
  • Rochelle Rao is amazingly cute as a nurse, a great addition to the show!
  • Suresh Menon is a very refreshing addition and is extremely talented. I loved his character.
  • Kapil’s nani played by Ali Asgar is very adorable. His getup & mannerism is hilarious and has lot of physicality in his humor.
  • Sumona, Chandan and Kiku did a fine job and I expect they will keep surprising us in the future episodes.

I laughed big time and realized how much I had missed these people for the past three months. Great to have Kapil Sharma and his team back!


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Red Thai Curry!

Trader-joe-thai

I was running out of school lunch options for my daughter and recently ran into a Thai Red Curry Sauce in Trader Joe’s.

Red-curryIt’s pretty easy to make and turned out quite zesty. I sauteed a mix of sweet peppers for a couple of minutes, added cubed tofu and mixed with half the bottle of the Red Curry sauce. Let it simmer for few minutes and then mix in coconut milk, salt and red pepper. Let it simmer for another ten minutes and serve with steamed rice.

In all these years, this is the first time that my daughter texted me from school that she liked her lunch! I guess it’s worth trying.


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Interview with Author A.M. Manay!

It is my pleasure to welcome author A.M. Manay on my blog today! She writes in paranormal genre and aims for diversity in her characters. Lets chat with her about her books.

A-M-Manay

  • Please tell us what inspired you to become a writer?

I started writing out of sheer boredom. I was a stay-at-home mom to a toddler, and as any stay at home parent can tell you, it can be quite isolating. I felt like my brain was turning to mush. And I’ve always been a daydreamer, spinning stories in my own head. So, one day, I had an idea about the character that eventually became November Snow. I started writing, and when I finished the first, introductory chapter, I kept going. I originally never intended for anyone but my husband to see my work. He encouraged me to consider publishing it, telling me that it was better than a lot of books out there. So eventually, I gathered courage, cleaned up the manuscript, and put it out into the world.

  • So glad you decided to publish! How did you choose to write in paranormal genre?

I love fantasy. I love escapism. I love magic powers and secrets and epic battles between good and evil. I also wanted to create a heroine who could interact with these powerful creatures and yet remain true to herself. I wanted to create a girl who would stand up to the supernatural creatures rather than letting them walk all over her. I didn’t want to model an emotionally abusive relationship as normal or desirable, like you see in some other vampire novels. (cough, Twilight, cough)

  • Your book titles are unique and fascinating! Tell us more about how you choose them?

The original title of my first book was Midway. It was named both for the carnival where November was living as well as her position as midway between the human world and the supernatural world. So, that was the working title. Then I realized that there are a million books named Midway out there, because of the battle in World War II.

I knew as an indie author, I needed to pick something truly unique in order to stand out in an Amazon search. As I got closer to finishing the editing process, I started thinking about November’s visions of her future burial and how crucial they are throughout the book, and eventually it popped into my head: She Dies at the End.

I decided to keep the same format for the sequels for the sake of cohesion. I brainstormed a long list of possible titles, but none of them seemed quite right. They didn’t really encapsulate November’s mission or journey the way I wanted them to. As I was writing the final chapter, it finally came to me: She Lights Up the Dark. I think you’ll find that the title makes both literal and metaphorical sense once you read the book.

  • How do you go about developing characters for your books? Do you aim for diversity?

I do aim for diversity. It’s my belief that the default race for characters doesn’t have to be white. The real world is diverse, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area where I live. Diversity is what makes the world interesting. A book full of white people would not reflect that reality, and it would be boring to boot.
My husband is Indian. My son is half Black, half Indian. All my students when I was teaching public school were Black, Latino, or Asian. It’s important for those kids to see people who mirror them in popular culture. And because my family doesn’t “match,” I enjoy creating families in my work who don’t “match,” either.
I’ll give you an example of one of my non-white characters. Because I married into an Indian family whom I adore, I wanted to include a character of Indian origin. Savita is a vampire who is extremely powerful and extremely uncomfortable with that power. She has difficulty standing up to her father and brothers and constantly places her own needs last. She also struggled to hold onto her culture and her pride after having been dragged halfway across the world after being turned into a vampire. She is not a token. Her actions and personality are crucial to the book’s plot, and she is a very complicated person.
For me, characters are what make a book. Plot is great and all, but it’s not worth much without interesting, complex characters, with at least a few characters you can really root for. I try to make them as complex as real people, with flaws and blind spots, weaknesses and strengths.

  • I agree, characters make a book interesting. Which book are you planning next in the series?

The third volume of November’s journey is in the planning stages. I won’t title it until most of it is written, most likely. What I can tell you is that actions taken at the end of Book 2 will have serious, world-altering repercussions in Book 3.
After that, I have ideas sketched out for a new fantasy series with a more epic fantasy / court intrigue bent with, of course, a tough-as-nails heroine. But for the sake of my fans, I want to see November’s story through before I try something new.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog! Answering your questions has been a blast.

ammanayheadshot

A.M. Manay’s Book Links:

She Dies at the End: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0112S00KI
She Sees in Her Sleep: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B019EG1NWE
She Lights Up the Dark: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01BQGGBMW

A.M. Manay’s Social Media Links:
Website: http://www.ammanay.net
Fan email list: November’s News
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ammanaywrites
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ammanay
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/a.m.manay/
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/A.M.-Manay/e/B0113KJ14Q

Baked Veggie Pasta!

Baked-pasta

Continuing with my search for new vegetarian pasta recipes, I found another one today that I tried. It turned out super delicious! The only change I made to the recipe was replace fontina cheese with gouda cheese since I couldn’t find Fontina cheese in the grocery store. The spicy Arrabiata sauce from Whole Foods did wonders too!


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Kapoor & Sons Movie Review!

Every once in a while, you watch a movie and it leaves such a profound mark on you that you have to talk about it. Kapoor & Sons is one such movie!! After the movie was over, people were clapping in the theater and I found myself cracking up and clapping on some of the dialogues because they are hilarious, relate-able and so apt! And of course I embarrassed my daughter by dancing on the Chull song, but hey who doesn’t want to dance on this hit number.

Enough said about the movie experience. I wouldn’t delve into the story as I don’t want to give away the story to those who haven’t watched it yet. I urge everyone to go watch this movie, there is something for every member of the family and so much truth and depth to the story. Brilliant direction by Shakun Batra. I haven’t seen such tight editing in a while, reminded me of 3 Idiots in terms of relatability.

Everyone and I mean everyone acted supremely well. Alia Bhatt is my favorite and she performed excellently. Siddharth Malhotra was great but Fawad khan stood out the most. His acting, his character and his gorgeous looks grabbed the limelight. Rishi Kapoor is adorable!

A must must watch movie for just about everyone! Don’t think, just go and watch!


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Zucchini Alfredo Pasta!

zuchini-alfredo

I was quite bored of making the same old pasta with bottled sauces and really wanted to make something fresh and different. Ran across this recipe for Zucchini Alfredo pasta, tried it today and it turned out absolutely mouth-watering!

Boiling-pasta

I had to use two different pans, one for boiling pasta and the other to make the fresh sauce. One more pan to clean afterwards, but no big deal.

sauceThe recipe requires fresh basil but for some reason the grocery store was out of it today,  so substituted with my basil pesto sauce. Of course, fresh basil would make it much more tastier but the sauce came out really creamy fresh and had just the right texture!

The only thing missing with the meal was a good wine. Oh, well, next time!


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Lebanese Grill

Falafel

A local food joint, Lebanese Grill opened recently. I had seen their sign while driving and decided to try their Falafel today. The neat packaging impressed me and the fresh, crispy taste was delighful. Sometimes falafels can be dry but this was juicy and tasteful.

Lebanese Grill is a small joint with not a lot of sitting area, but the food is worth it. I saw a wide variety of baklavas displayed, something to try next time!


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Piada – Italian Street Food!

I am always up for variety and trying out new and unique places to eat. The latest in the list of restaurants is Piada, a restaurant inspired by street food in Rimini, Italy. Its scooter logo and fresh look attracted me at first. Although there aren’t a lot of choices for a vegetarian like me, I still liked the fresh taste of my piada! Of course there is the traditional pasta that I could try next time. Their sauces are amazing and there is certainly a invigorating taste to this place.


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Interview with Author Anupam Srivastava!

Today, I welcome Author Anupam Srivastava on my blog! Lets chat with Anupam about writing in general.

Brown-Sahebs

1) Hello Anupam! Please tell us what inspired you to become a writer?

Among most things I did as a child, I enjoyed writing and it was also what got me a little appreciation. My teachers would sometimes praise me so much that it became embarrassing for me. Anybody’s friends would treat them as a distant acquaintance if they got too much appreciation. At this stage I was writing essays and stories on suggested topics. Later, I started getting excited about ideas that would come to me mysteriously, and I would write them down else they would not show themselves again to me. That was the only way to imprison them. This continued and became a way of life with me – some ideas became poems, some others short stories. The bigger ones lent themselves as the basis for novels.

I have been inspired by good books and good writers.

2) How did you come up with the concept of your book? What was the inspiration behind it?

It became apparent to me – when I was a journalist – that India’s hierarchical systems had a historical basis.

I probed a little and a treasure trove of information showed up in the form of books, speeches, and so on. I fitted the pieces together – some history, some story-telling, and it became a novel. I also prepared a PhD proposal on comparing the pre-Independence aspirations and whether these were put into effect. While my PhD did not materialize, I conducted my own study and instead of a thesis wrote a novel.

3) Which scene in your book is your favorite? Why?

That’s a tough one. I like the interviews with Gandhi, descriptions of life in Delhi in those slow-paced times, the scene depicting the assassination of Gandhi and of course the light scenes such as the partridge shoot. I like tension in tense scenes and humor in funny scenes.

A good scene should not have anything superfluous or missing – the right number of words, description and dialogue – when they are woven together by the mysterious thread of skill, a good scene is created.

I am of course a biased judge of my own writing. The appreciation matters when it comes from others but at the same time you have to love your work well enough to consider it good enough to publish.

4) How do you go about developing characters of your book?

The plot demands characters of a type, and I develop these. These are of course drawn from life.

 5) What has been your most rewarding experience as an author?

Some people have loved The Brown Sahebs which has been very gratifying. Having finished a novel of reasonable complexity, I feel equipped to deal with more difficult subjects and am writing on a theme I wouldn’t have touched a few years ago.

Anupam’s Book Links:

Amazon.com, Amazon.in, Goodreads

Anupam’s Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Brown-Sahebs/812002192220010

Twitter: https://twitter.com/anusrivastava

Urban Crust – unique & delicious!

Yesterday, I had a completely satisfying meal at Urban Crust in downtown Plano. I realized that I was so happy with the meal and enjoying the ambiance that I forgot to take pictures. This restaurant has ample seating but the most sought after seats, at least for me are in their rooftop lounge. The only caveat is that they offer open seating in the rooftop area. If you have to wait for your turn, it is still worth it for the inspiring view and the cozy, romantic feel.

Their wood-fired pizzas are amazing and so are the cocktail options. And the tiramisu was one of the best I have had in a while. I loved the place and its worth trying if you are in the area.


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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KKPK Movie Review!

I normally don’t write movie reviews but this one is special! I am a big fan of Kapil Sharma. And I am not just talking about his great sense of comic timing and his stand-up acts but I am fan of his very genuine and gracious personality. Coming from a humble beginning to reaching the success and fame that he has achieved today, he deserves it all. I particularly like his connect with the audience which shows from the love that he receives all over the world. It is very easy for comedy to get vulgar but we always see clean comedy on his show, Comedy Nights with Kapil and I especially like the social messages he shares with his audience. All in all,  Kapil Sharma is a great soul.

So obviously when his movie, Kis Kisko Pyaar karoon released, I was very eager to see it. I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed. The story-line may not be unique but it makes you laugh all the way! Abbas-Mustan director-duo did a credible job and also kept an element of suspense along with great comedy in the film. The pace of the movie is appropriate for contemporary audience. There are so many hilarious scenes that makes you laugh out loud and you won’t be able to stop. Kapil Sharma has not only enacted the comic scenes well, he did extremely well in the emotional scenes as well and held his own amongst all the established actors. An excellent job for a debut movie!

Music of the movie is outstanding! Jugni and Bam Bam make you want to dance, DJ bajega to Pappu nachega is visually appealing and Samandar song is very melodious.

All in all, KKPK is an entertainer!


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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How important is a Book Title?

Writing-Guide

Having written a number of books and being in the business for sometime, I have come to the conclusion that in addition to the cover of a book, the title also plays an important part in attracting readers.

With the advent of digital writing and eBooks, there is a plethora of books for readers to choose from. And therefore it is very important to choose an attractive, meaningful as well as apt title for your book.

Here are some pointers to consider:

  • For non-fiction or fiction books, the title should clearly portray the essence of your book.
  • For non-fiction books, popular titles starting with “How to..” or “Five ..”, “Ten ..” tend to attract readers. People have a short attention span these days and they want to gather information quickly. These titles tend to appeal to the curious mind. One example is my book titled Ten Mistakes A Manager Should Avoid.
  • For a fiction book, if your title can invoke the right emotion or feeling, it would greatly appeal to the reader. Such as I believe that my book title Arranged Marriage evokes a lot of feelings, emotions & curiosity and it has definitely been selling well.

When you are coming up with your book title, think through what’s the message in your book you want the readers to take away, or how can this book help the readers. Also, do some research on Amazon or other book sites to look at the bestsellers in your genre.


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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On Writing Series & Trilogy!

Writing-GuideI have been asked several times during interviews about writing series, so I decided to write a post on it today. I have written both single-titles as well as series and there are pros and cons of writing both. For one, writing a series takes a whole of work ahead of time in planning different books in the series. And from the reader’s perspective, series are often more attractive.

Types of Series

If you are thinking of writing a series, some things to know about are what are the different kinds of series that you can plan. Most obvious one is a trilogy where a story continues on a continuum of three books. Trilogies seem to be very popular among the readers especially if they love the characters and want to keep reading about them more and more.

Other kind of series consists of books with different stories that are connected to each other at an abstract level. I like to call these connected series. You can have as many books in a connected series. I tend to prefer writing connected series over a trilogy. A trilogy has stringent requirements whereas a connected series is more flexible.

One example of link between different books in a connected series is at the character level. For example a main character in one book can be a secondary character in another book in the series. Another example is commonality of setting among different books in a connected series. For instance, you could write several books based on a small town. An underlying emotion or theme between different stories could be a connection as well.

Do’s and Don’ts

Some things to be aware of when writing trilogy or connected series is to not contradict yourself. For example, a character who had dark skin in one book cannot suddenly have lighter skin in another book in the series. It is up to the author and editor to look out for such inconsistencies before publishing.

I would also urge authors to plan ahead how many books they want to publish in a connected series. Write as many as will entice you as an author. As long as you are having fun writing, readers will enjoy them too!


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Importance of Setting!

Aditi-flowers

I don’t know about other authors but I find setting of a book equally important as the characters in a story. A carefully selected setting can do wonders for a book. As a matter of fact, the same is true for a movie as well.

One should think about the what and why before choosing a setting well before starting to write a fiction book. Some things to consider are what kind of setting would suit the characters that you have chosen for your book? Is there a setting that has special significance in your character’s mind? Could you use your setting to attract readers towards your book.

I travel a lot and while traveling if a place inspires me, I’d like to use that in my book. I have a passion for traveling and am fascinated by the unique things every place has to offer. Some authors like to use small town setting which could also be quite unique and provide a different perspective.

Pick a setting that gels with your passion and it will certainly enhance your book!


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Casa Loma, Toronto

Casa-Loma

I recently visited Toronto and was awed by the majesty of Casa Loma. Beautiful exterior, exquisite interior and breathtaking views from pretty much all the rooms are a must-see. If you get a chance to visit it, don’t miss the audio tour and the movie on Sir Henry Pellatt. It will inspire you!


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Laziz Baigan!

Baigan-sabji

Eggplant can be made in several ways and they all turn out good. A friend of mine taught me this recipe and although it takes some time to cook, it comes out really rich and tasty.

Ingredients

Eggplant (Baigan), cut into thin slices.

Chopped Onions, Tomatoes & Cilantro

1 tbsp yoghurt

Use Cumin seeds, Kalonji, Haldi, red chilli powder & dhania masala for seasoning

Method

Sprinkle some salt on the thinly cut & washed eggplant slices and let it settle for few minutes while you cut your onions, tomatoes and corainder. Dry the eggplant slices and shallow fry them.

Pour little bit of oil in a separate wok and season with cumin seeds and Kalonji. Saute the onions and tomatoes together for couple of minutes and add salt, haldi, red chilli powder and dhania powder to taste. Mix in the yoghurt and a cup of water into the wok and let it cook for couple of minutes. Wipe the extra oil from the fried eggplant slices and add it to wok, along with the chopped coriander. Cover the wok and cook for few minutes.

Serve it with your choice of bread and enjoy!


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Majestic Niagara Falls!

Niagara

I recently visited Niagara Falls. Whether you visit from the Canadian side or the American side, you can’t deny the mystique of these falls.

Niagara-boat

Although it was my third time seeing the falls, it seems all the more majestic. One is certainly left in awe at its grandness.

 

Niagara-boat-ride

Don’t miss the misty boat ride if you are there.

Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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“Little India” across the globe!

Jackson-HeightsOver the years, I have visited “Little India” communities across various U.S. cities and other countries and just reflecting upon it made me realize that these neighborhoods are not so sought after as they used to be. Ever since Indian population in various cities have expanded, now the restaurant and fashion boutiques or grocery stores are spread out throughout the cities . In earlier days, if you wanted a spicy bite, all you had was the “Little India” communities. Even then, I make it a point to visit the “Little India” neighborhoods, as I travel to get a historic glimpse.

Dosa-delightRecently I visited Jackson Heights (Little India of New York) and I have to say I wasn’t quite impressed. It is probably the largest of all “Little India” communities that I have seen but it seemed old and congested. We ate in Dosa Delight and the food was really good and so was the service. But if you can find Indian restaurants everywhere, would you make the effort to go to Jackson Heights? may be not.

Anyhow, of all the “Little India” neighborhoods I have visited, the ones I liked the most were Los Angeles Artesia district, South Hall in London and Mahatma Gandhi district in Houston. You may want to check these outs on your travel!

Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Mike’s Pastry (Boston)

Mikes-pastryRecently, we were in Boston and while doing a tour of the Harvard University, I came across this cool pastry shop called Mike’s pastry.

pastries

 

Lots of cool pastries to choose from and they looked delicious as well as decorative.

 

 

 

Rainbow-pastry

 

 

 

I chose the rum cake, it was a good size pastry and reasonably priced!

 

If you are in Boston, you may want to check this place out.

 

 

 

Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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My NewYork Food experience!

I had the privilege of visiting New York city recently and food was one of the highlights. As they say – you have to eat pizza, bagels and cheesecake when you are in Big Apple and I did all that and more. Food in general was very tasty in NY but there are some restaurants that deserve special mention for their exquisite taste.

Baba Ghanouge tops my list for its authentic and oh-so-delicious falafel. I was so engrossed in eating that I forgot to take a picture. But I know I am going back on my next trip for sure!

Eataly

 

Eataly was an amazing place to visit for Italian food. It had so much variety, I didn’t know where to start. A NY traveler must visit Eataly for its heavenly Italian food, desserts and coffee.

 

 

 

Ess-a-bagelI had read some great reviews on Ess-a-bagel and it didn’t disappoint me. Standing in line was worth it for a bite of bagel at this place. The texture of bagel was unique and better than any I have had so far and they had an amazing variety of cream cheese spreads.

 

 

Kati-roll

 

A YouTuber had mentioned Kati Roll and it sure was worth for an Indian spicy taste (spicy aloo, chole masala & paneer), not to mention the awesome masala chai.

 

 

 

 

MagnoliaWhat didn’t work for me was Magnolia Bakery. The cheesecake was not that exquisite and was expensive too! May be I should have tried their cupcakes. Oh, well, next time.

 

 

 

 

Hope this post helps travelers looking for good places to eat in New York City. A note of caution for travelers in New York City – always look for grade A sanitary inspection code before you decide to try it out.

Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Interview with Author Pavan Kaur!

Today, I welcome Author Pavan Kaur on my blog! Lets chat with her about her debut book.

Moving On

  • Congratulations Pavan on your book release! Tell us, how did you come up with the concept of your book? What was the inspiration behind it?

Moving On was a story that was in my head for a very long time, after watching a TV documentary. It took me a long time before I started writing it.

When a story plays in your head for so long you have to write it down, and more I wrote the more I fell in love with the story and I could not stop writing.

The thought behind the story is that no matter what, one can find love again, if they just take that one step forward.

  • Which scene in your book is your favorite? Why?

In the story Moving On I really like the parts where Kim has her nightmares. I like these part because it shows how her past was, and what it is that she fears so much in life. Reliving the nightmares the readers can see why she has problems around Nick.

  • Besides writing, what is your favorite hobby that helps you relax?

I love to bake, it is the one thing that takes mind away from everything else around me. Plus I get to eat cake after I am done.

  • What do you find most challenging while writing a book?

The most challenging thing for me is, when I know where I want the story to go, but just don’t know how I want to get there. What parts should I write in the middle before I get there. I normally put my book to the side for a day to let my head play with ideas.

  • How much research do you do for your books?

It all depends on what I am writing, if I am not sure about a certain part in the story then I will spend a long time online, or calling people to find out what I need, but if it is something that I know I am okay with I will double check and carry on writing.

  • Which book are you working on next? Do you want to share a glimpse of it?

At the moment I have just finished a short story called Fate, but my main book that I am working on is the second book in the Moving Series called Moving Forward. I cant give too much away just in case you haven’t read the first one, but I really hope that readers enjoy this one as much as the first. I think that readers will even love where I am taking the book or they will hate me because of what is happening in the story, but I do think that they will enjoy how Kim and Nick’s story is going to play out.

Pavan’s Book Links:

Amazon.uk, Amazon.com, Smashwords, B&N, Kobo, iTunes

Social Media Links:

Blog: http://pavankaur83.blogspot.co.uk

Twitter : @dreaming083

Movie Review: ABCD 2 (in 3D)

Yesterday, I went to watch ABCD 2, directed by Remo D’Souza, a choreographer who also directed ABCD (Any Body Can Dance). ABCD series is India’s best dance film series. This film was shot in India and Las Vegas and starred Varun Dhawan, Shraddha Kapoor, and Prabhu Deva in lead roles. Others who were part of the dance team, The Mumbai Stunners turned Indian Stunners, were dancers from a popular dance show in India titled Dance India Dance. This show auditions random, everyday people and turns them into big stars, and Remo was a judge on this show.

The Main Cast

Varun Dhawan as Suresh aka Suru, a dancer who wants the best for his team.

Shraddha Kapoor as Vinnie, the only girl in the group.

Prabhu Deva as Vishnu Sir, the group’s guru.

Plot

The story’s plot was pretty simple and believable. First, they assemble a dance team in which every member is aspiring to go to the competition. Then they go and compete with a ton of dancing, love, and drama. The plot didn’t have anything special, except for the ending. However, the dancing on the other hand, was definitely exceptional and innovative.

Acting

The acting seemed very believable, even from the other characters that were not part of the main cast, despite the fact that they have only done one other movie.

Dancing

Now, this movie’s dancing had better been good as it is a DANCE film. The dancing was outstanding! Very rarely in India do you get to see a movie that is based largely on dance, so the performances were very out of the box and pleasing to the eye.

Music

This movie had a ton of songs, since it is a dance movie. The songs were great. One of the songs, Bezubaan Phir Se, was revamped from the last movie. Sun Saathiya is a very pretty and melodious song, not to mention how great the dancing is in the video. The songs are fun and all very different from each other.

Final Wrap it Up

Overall, this movie was very pleasing to the eye and left you with a smile on your face. Take away the dancing, and it would just be a normal average movie. However, the dancing made up for it.

Rating

3.5/ 5 stars

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Riya Chopra, Movie Enthusiast

One day at a time!

happy

I read a book on mindfulness today which was quite fun to read and insightful as well. While reading, I realized that being an analytical person, I do think and analyze quite a bit. Sometimes all this analysis can lead to unnecessary tension and worries. After reading this book, I pledged to make one change in my thinking process which is to take things one day at a time!

In particular, when I happen to go into a thinking loop, I’m going to ask myself this question – “Do I have anything to worry about today?” If not, there is really nothing to think about.

Hopefully this will bring some mindfulness in my life.

Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Movie Review: Dil Dhadakne Do

Recently, I watched a movie titled Dil Dhadakne Do directed by Zoya Akhtar who also directed the blockbuster movie Zindagi na Milegi Dobara.

The Cast:

Anil Kapoor as Kamal Mehra, the overpowering head of the family.

Shefali Shah as Neelam Mehra, a woman, who doesn’t share her opinions with anyone.

Priyanka Chopra as Ayesha Mehra, a headstrong girl, who is stuck in an awkward marriage.

Ranveer Singh as Kabir Mehra, a man who falls in love with Farah Ali and has a dream of becoming a pilot.

The Supporting Cast:

Farhan Akhtar as Sunny Gill, the son of Kamal’s manager who is still in love with Ayesha.

Anushka Sharma as Farah Ali, a dancer on the cruise, who falls in love with Kabir.

Rahul Bose as Manav Sangha, a pushy man, who is Ayesha’s husband.

 Review:

Dil Dhadakne Do is a story of a dysfunctional Punjabi family who is on a cruise ship for celebrating an anniversary.

First off, Ranveer Singh most definitely was the star of the movie. The way he portrayed his character was very quirky and laughable. Even if he didn’t have any lines in the scene, he would maintain a strong presence. Additionally, you can never go wrong with having Priyanka Chopra as an actress in your movie, as she will never make it worse, only better. Priyanka’s acting was very believable and she looked gorgeous in all of her outfits, however, this might be my biased opinion as I have always liked Priyanka Chopra.

Anil Kapoor played his role in a way that I have never seen him do. He had an extremely effective role and greatly impacted the movie’s plot. And of course, what could be wrong the THE Anil Kapoor;) Shefali Shah, although I have never seen her in a movie, acted amazingly! You could really feel the pain that she was feeling from the distance in her and her husband’s relationship. She also looked beautiful in all her shots.

Anushka Sharma, I felt, could have done more with her role. Her acting had nothing special in it; I just saw her as a woman that Kabir liked. Farhan Akhtar, on the other hand, made a lot out of the little screen time he had. Farhan Akhtar is, of course, a superior actor, and that fact came across in this movie as well. Rahul Bose’s character was interesting. His character seemed pretty static until the end, when he misbehaves and  the pent up anger is seen in him.

The depiction of the script on screen was done very well. I thought this film was appealing to all ages, as there was nothing bad that kids cannot see, or nothing too kid-ish. It was just right. There were a lot of comedic scenes but family drama was also a prominent part of the storyline. The one thing I would change about this movie is the pace. It was a little slow in the first half, but sped up towards the middle and end.

The Music:

Dil Dhadakne Do: Title track which is catchy and upbeat

Gallan Goodiyan: Makes you want to dance and have a party!

Pehli Baar: Simple song but innovative video concept

Girls Like to Swing– Has a lot of beats and is similar to the 60s

So, as you can see, there aren’t that many songs. However, when the songs do appear in the movie, they make sense and go along with the storyline. The number of songs and variety of the songs is just right.

Overall, I would encourage families to go watch this movie together as it is a great family movie. The theme really speaks to all. Hopefully Dil Dhadakne Do does well in the theaters!

Rating: 4 of 5

Glowing StarGlowing StarGlowing StarGlowing Star

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Riya Chopra, Movie Enthusiast

 

Interview with Author Rik Stone!

With great pleasure, I welcome Author Rik Stone to my blog today. Lets chat with him about writing fiction!

The Turkish Connection_front only

  • Welcome Rik! Writing fiction is not easy. Please tell us what do you find most challenging while writing a book?

I love writing. It is me. It is what I do. It was my revelation of what I was always meant to be in life. But like everything there is a downside.

Marketing! Some love it, or at least that’s what they tell you, but I find it hard.

When writing, a day can pass without me noticing it had even got underway. At the end of a day put aside for marketing, I’m knackered, my cheeks are red to the point I look like my head might explode and I want to crawl off to my pit and sleep, but know my mind is too overactive to succeed. And then I feel like I’ve failed along the way somehow, but I can never put my finger on why I feel like that. A question like this is nice because it allows me to tell the world how it feels; when you are doing the business, you have to come across like you’re Mister Professional, like everything is a doddle – it ain’t.

  • I agree, marketing is a necessary evil. Lets talk about research. How much research do you do for your books?

Birth of an Assassin is set in the Soviet Union. I have never been there and the Russians are El Supremos at keeping their dealings and their history to themselves.

Needless to say, the research for this book took as long as the writing, probably longer.

The Turkish Connection, on the other hand, was a breeze by comparison. I have toured Turkey quite extensively and have knowledge of all of the places mentioned in this book. That doesn’t mean, however, that I was able to bang it out without forethought. My advice to any aspiring writer is to never, and I mean never, believe anything you think you remember. Always check out your work because there are legions of people out there who feel they have won something by informing you that you got it wrong!

  • I feel that characters are crucial to a story. How do you go about developing characters of your book?

A lot of people have said it before me, but I honestly believe my characters evolve their own personality. Having said that, you can’t paint what they’ve revealed in black and white.

There are always grey areas in real people, so you have to apply that truth to the fictional ones; remember, the guy in the black hat has as many ambitions and wants in life as the one in the white hat.

Think of friends and of those you might not be so fond of. Knowing them, you will also know they all have as much depth of personality as each other, albeit you don’t like some of the quirks. Think of those people, and yourself, when developing characters, mix them up, exaggerate certain points and produce someone new and unique, but keep it believable.

  • Dialogues are important in fiction. Do you want to share any tips for writing dialogues?

I write an outline of what the character wants to say and then rewrite it in the way I would say it. When I’m satisfied it sounds right, I rewrite it to fit the character’s personality.

It sounds a convoluted approach, but it’s really only writing and rewriting in the way every writer writes the rest of their narrative. What I am saying is don’t be satisfied until you believe you are listening to someone real.

  • That’s a good advice. Tell us, what is your favorite hobby that helps you relax?

I’m a fine weather gardener; some of my neighbors are out there all weathers – not me. I sound like I’m looking for a date, but, I’m solvent, a keen walker, love to travel and make a lot of plans for it while at home. My garage had never been used to house my car, so I had it converted into a small gym. I work out when I’m not nursing an injury I’ve picked up while working out. Why do I do that? Strange, but doing these things help my writing. They take me away from the front line and my mind relaxes. It is often during these times I come up with my best ideas.

  •  I agree, I also find non-writing activities inspire me to write. What advice do you have for an aspiring author?

Never leave a piece saying ‘that will do’; leave it saying ‘that is perfect’; it won’t be, but you should feel it is.

Each new project should be better than the last else you’re not improving.

Writing is about rewriting; that comment is hardly new, but you can’t change the truth. Why is it true? Anyone can jot down a story, it is those who persevere that succeed in producing professional copy.
If you read through the piece you’re working on and do no more than change the odd word or two because you’ve thought of a better fit, you are probably ready to send the work to an editor. If you can’t do that, it’s not ready, keep writing until you can.

  • Which book are you working on next? Do you want to share a glimpse of it?

My current project is book three in the Birth of an Assassin series. This story brings together the heroes of the previous two books and takes them forward against the main enemy in the overall theme. The plan is to get the book out there by the end of this year, but who knows? outside influences often affect best intentions. The following snippet is a peek of what is coming. The keyboard might well change this on its final tappings, but the basic outline will remain.

                                                 ~~~

    Pavel gripped Nazar’s wrist and pulled himself to his feet, but the pinkie ring he wore had a small diamond held in by a gold claw and one of the claw points was bent outward; it caught Nazar’s hand as Pavel pulled his own away.
     “Ouch,” he said.
     “Oh shit, I’m so sorry. Are you hurt,” Pavel asked nervously.     “God, how much more can happen? Everything’s gone wrong today.”
     Nazar rubbed the injury, sucked at a tiny droplet of blood on the side of his hand. “It’s okay, just a pinprick, but I hope you can pull yourself together soon or who knows what calamity you might cause.”
     Alexandros laughed. Nazar tilted his head back towards him and sniggered. They walked off, heads almost touching. Pavel watched them go. It was done. Tentatively, he took the ring from his finger; the chemical pellet, no bigger than a pin head, was no longer attached to the claw, but he wasn’t taking chances. He walked across to the sea-side of the road and tossed the ring over the railing and into the water.
     Later, he thought, Nazar will have a high fever and in three or four days, maybe less, he would die. The policeman had seemed pleasant enough, but Pavel was resigned to this kind of job and felt no remorse. He turned and made his way back along the Gezi Yolu coast road towards Marmaris marina, thoughts of the cheery guard on the train in the Perm district crossed his mind and he began humming the Song of the Volga Boatmen.

Rik’s Book Link: Amazon

Social media links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/stone_rik

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rik.stone2

Blaze Pizza!

Blaze pizza recently opened a branch in Frisco, TX and we happened to join their opening day party with live music, drawings and free lemonade while we waited for our turn. They were generous enough to give out free pizzas for liking them on social media.

Blaze-pizza

 

 

 

I enjoyed the freedom to create my own pizza, choosing my favorite sauce and toppings.

 

 

 

Blaze-Pizza-baked

 

 

 

The fast-fired pizza was delicious and I am definitely going back!

 

 

 

 

 
Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Zucchini Halwa!

zuchini-halwa

I had a left-over zucchini from my grocery list this week and some khoya sitting in my freezer and so I decided to make zucchini halwa. It’s a quick and tasty dessert.

All you need to do is peel and grate zucchini, grate some khoya. Cook grated zucchini in milk for few minutes on a low flame such that zucchini is well cooked. Add nuts, cardamon powder, sugar and grated khoya and cook for some more time, sitrring frequently until you get a thick consistency. Enjoy!


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Meditation may be the answer!

Author-Aditi-Chopra

I seem to have couple of challenges with my personality. One being my hyper-active mind. Its restless and wants to be occupied every waking hour. I am my best when my mind is busy doing something. But you can’t always find ways to keep it occupied. The other challenge I face is when I see an unkindly or unwarranted behavior from others. I seem to go into a loop of why this person behaved the way they did. But of lately I am realizing, it is not for me to worry about other people’s behavior. All I need to worry about is my own actions and be content with them. Easier said than done, though!

A week ago, my friend suggested that I try meditation. She had experienced calm through it and she motivated me to try it as well. Following her advice, I did get an audio CD and tried it today. I have to admit the calming music and gentle voice on the meditation CD does have a soothing effect. I am hoping I can keep the routine at least once a week and hopefully it will help me with my challenges.


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Why romance sells!

Author-Aditi-Chopra

I was reading an article on different genres of fiction and as we already know romance heads any list! Based on my own experience, I find it easier to sell romantic fiction than other books.

It therefore behooves us to look at why romance sells more than other genres. Here are some factors from my point of view:

  • Romance is inherently positive and instigates a feel-good emotion within the reader. This is a crucial factor in making it the top seller.
  • Whether it is pure romance or erotic, there is a certain rush that the reader feels with the build-up of hero and heroine coming together.
  • If I think as a reader, I may get bored reading romance all the time but after I have taken a break, a light romance always lights up my day!
  • Romance appeals to any age group (especially females) whether they are single, married, young or old, so obviously the target market is huge!

I am sure there are other factors that I haven’t thought of but these should be enough to inspire authors to keep writing more romance!


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Chat with Author Mistral Dawn

Today, I’m welcoming Mistral Dawn, author of Taken By The Huntsman. Let’s get to know her better.

TakenbytheHuntsman Amazon

  • Welcome Mistral! Please tell us how did you come up with the concept of your book? What was the inspiration behind it?

Ha! Actually, a dream.  I had a debate with an online friend about the nature of consent at a time when I was also doing research about European mythology. Somehow the two became entwined in my head while I was sleeping, and Taken By The Huntsman was born.

  • Very interesting! What do you find most challenging while writing a book?

I think the most challenging part of writing a book is the marketing.

I’m an indie author, so I don’t have a publisher to help do this work. Marketing takes an enormous amount of time, but is extremely necessary because, as an unknown author, no one will read my books if they don’t know about them.

  • I agree, being an author is not just about writing, it is so much more. What has been your most rewarding experience as an author?

My favorite part is interacting with people who have read and enjoyed my stories. It’s such a rush to know I’ve been able to entertain other people!

  • That is satisfying indeed! Which book are you working on next? Do you want to share a glimpse of it?

My next book will be about the Winter Court king and his human Anamchara. He’s a fallen god of death, prophesy, and healing (I know, interesting combination, right?), so while he no longer has the powers of a god, he does have some interesting abilities. She’s a human who stumbled into Fairie while running from her abusive fiance on Earth. You’ll just have to wait to see how their story plays out.  But before I write that book, I’ll be writing a short story about Jillian.

  • Besides writing, what is your favorite hobby that helps you relax?

I enjoy taking in kitties who need homes and finding the people who need a kitty to love. Remember everyone, please spay or neuter your pets!!!

It was great talking to you, Mistral! I wish you good luck with your future projects!

Mistral’s Book Links:

Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords

Social Media Links:

Mistral Dawn’s Musings Bloghttp://mistralkdawn.blogspot.com/

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/MistralKDawn

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/MistralKDawn

Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/Mistral-Dawn/e/B00NGXETSM/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Smashwords Author Page: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MistralDawn

Goodreads Author Page:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8549061.Mistral_Dawn

Dialogue vs. Narration

aditi-in-Italy

We have all heard of the “Show and don’t tell” technique in fiction writing. It’s easier said than done, though. As, I am starting to write my next story, I have to constantly remind myself to not let go of this very important technique.

When you start to write a story, it is so much easier to simply narrate it like you would narrate to another person. However, books are different! Readers read books because they want to enjoy the process. They want to be able to make their own conclusions, feel emotions, solve mysteries etc.

Therefore as writers, we have to be aware while writing, if the words written will serve the purpose of stimulating the readers. It is a difficult task that a writer has to keep in mind every step of the way!

Whenever I start to write a new story, I revise my first two scenes (at least) several times until I feel like I have a good balance of dialogue vs. narration. Once I feel that I am in the zone, I keep writing…


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Interview with Author Julie Nicholls

Julie Nicholls is the author of the Fallen Angels Series. Lets chat with her today and get to know more about this series.

Demon Within

  • Welcome Julie! Tell us, what inspired you to become a writer?

I read my first fan fiction five years ago and was instantly hooked! I’d never heard of it and I was completely obsessed from the moment I read my first story. After that I started writing my own Fan fiction, and then progressed to writing short erotic stories on my own site before finally releasing my book.

  • How did you come up with the concept of your series? What was the inspiration behind it?

Kai of Darkmide started as a role playing character, and although the book has nothing to do with the role playing that I did, it’s where the original idea came from. When I sat down with my husband one afternoon, and told him I had another idea for a book, and that I wanted to use the idea of fallen angels, it just fell into place.

  • Which scene in your book is your favorite? Why?

In Demon Within, which is the first book in the Fallen Angel series, there’s a scene where Kai and Eloise are in the ‘Temple of Truth”. It’s very emotional, in my opinion, and I actually cried when I wrote it, especially the last question that Eloise asks Kai.

  • Who is your favorite character in your book? Why?

It has to be Kai. He’s utterly beautiful and courageous. He’s suffered all his life, being sold into slavery by his mother from when he was six years old, and for all his hardship, he’s doing well for himself. I love that I’ve been able to bring him from despair to ultimate happiness.

  • That’s interesting! How do you go about developing characters of your book?

I see each of my characters clearly in my mind. I feel the way they do, and I understand their emotions. I usually relate them to people I know or have met.

  • How much research do you do for your books?

I do enough so that my story has as much relevance to factual or folklore as is needed. I’m not a great stickler for quoting things word for word, however, all the angel names and fallen angels I use in my stories are not made up by me. I only adapted them to suite my story.

  • What has been your most rewarding experience as an author?

Seeing my book in print!!! I’ve received in the post only a few days ago, my first book. Seeing it brought a tear, and when my husband said he’s really proud of me, which also made me cry.

  • What do you find most challenging while writing a book?

Starting it!! I have the idea and the story in my head but actually deciding where to start is the biggest issue for me. However, once I’ve got that sorted, I can’t stop, nor do I want to. I am totally focused on getting down.

  • Besides writing, what is your favorite hobby that helps you relax?

I paint and make digital art. I painted the covers for both Demon Within and Angel Within, and I’m currently offering my services at a very low price to any authors who are on a budget. My work is viewable on my Facebook  page.

  • That’s very creative indeed! What advice do you have for an aspiring author?

Have as many people involved in your first project as possible. Feedback is important.

  • Which book are you working on next? Do you want to share a glimpse of it?

I have just recently released Angel Within. This is the 2nd book in the Fallen Angels series, and while the third book is still in my head, I’ve not started it yet. You can read snippets from both my books at my blog.

Angel Within

Julie’s Book Links: Demon Within, Angel Within

Julie-Nicholls

Social media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jnichollsauthor
Blog: https://literallysensual.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JulieMirishka

Mouthwatering Ice cream!

Author-Aditi-Chopra

A week ago, my daughter and I explored a new ice cream place called Old Town Creamery and our taste buds exploded with joy! This place has some amazingly exclusive ice cream flavors. We had a fun time tasting them all and my favorite was paan flavour. My daughter liked the mango flavour and we bought a bunch of it home to cherish.

I can’t wait to try their cakes!


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Effective dialogues!

Aditi-in-Venice

There are several aspects of fiction writing that are important and as authors we are constantly researching ways to master the craft. My goal, of course is to improve with each book. I am fan of more dialogues and less narration. Of course, there are times when a narration is more effective but I prefer to tell it through dialogues.

Dialogues pretty much reveal the characters as well as the story. One question we need to ask ourselves as authors is what is the purpose of a dialogue? What I mean  is – are we writing dialogues for the reader or are we writing dialogues between the characters of the story? If the dialogue is meant for the reader, it will be superficial and will not be as effective. However, if the dialogues are purely directed towards the characters of the story, they will carry a lot more weight.

Something to keep in mind while writing!


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Chat with Author Anita Badhwar!

Author Anita Badhwar publishes children’s books. Lets chat with her today to get to know her better.

Rani-celebrates-holi

  • Welcome Anita! Please tell us what inspired you to write children’s books?

I was inspired to write children’s books because I have always enjoyed creative writing. I’ve always felt that writing came very naturally to me, and that it was something that I excelled at. Also, I was motivated to write the Little Princess Rani and the Palace Adventures series because I found that there were very few Indian-themed books in the market for children.

  • I agree, it would have been nice to read your books to my daughter when she was little. Tell us a little more about the Little Princess Rani series?

All of the books in this series are based on my childhood experiences. As a child, I remember celebrating Holi in India, which gave me the inspiration to write Rani Celebrates Holi. My second book, Rani and the Safari Surprise! was inspired by a visit to Jim Corbett National Park and Rani Visits the Taj Mahal was based on a more recent trip to Agra, India. Rani Saves Diwali is based on how Diwali is celebrated in my family. My mother is a great source of information and my kids also provide great inspiration for some of the story-lines.

  • We all draw inspiration from others. Which author has inspired you the most? Why?

I think Ludwig Bemelmans, author of the Madeline series has inspired me the most. I remember reading the series in French in Canada (where I grew up) and enjoying reading all the books and simple illustrations.

  • What has been your most rewarding experience as an author?

My most rewarding experience is seeing people who don’t know much about India end up with a better understanding about India, Indian culture and festivals by reading my books.

  • That’s great! Do you have any book marketing tip you want to share with your fellow authors?

I think social media is the best place to promote and market your books. Of course, you need to decide which of the social media links work best for your book genre, which takes some research.

  • Which book are you working on next? Do you want to share a glimpse of it?

I haven’t quite decided yet on a theme for my fifth book of the Little Princess Rani series, but I am leaning towards writing about another festival.

It was great talking to you Anita. Good luck with all your projects!

Anita’s Book Link: Amazon.com

Social media Links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnitaBadhwar

Facebook: www.facebook.com/lilprincessrani

Tumblr: abadhwar.tumblr.com

Instagram: https://instagram.com/ABadhwar2

Interview with Author John Murphy

With great pleasure, I welcome Author John Murphy on my blog today. Lets chat with him about his sci-fi novel and writing in general.

MissionVeritas_COVER

  • Congratulations on publishing your novel! Please tell us what inspired you to become a writer?

I wanted to accomplish something great with my life. I used to read novels during lunch breaks at work. I always thought that I could do it as well or better. So, I combined the two instincts and began writing in my early 30’s.

My earliest writing experience I recall is from 3rd grade when I created what I thought was a really spooky story. It got me sent to the principal’s office because they thought I might be crazy. If that’s not foreshadowing, I don’t know what is.

I used to carve things as a kid, making space ships out of clay and toilet paper tubes or walnuts. I did a great deal of drawing as a teen. In college, I used to paint murals on dormitory walls, and even in my kids’ bedroom. I’ve always had a creative and inventive streak in me, and writing is just one of several mediums. I took it up in earnest in 1992, completed a novel (after four re-writes, but never published), then began writing a non-fiction Success Without a College Degree a few years later and that changed the direction of my life. After another ten years, I came back to writing fiction, but I’ve been creative throughout. Even while writing my current novel, I’ve been creating graphics that illustrate scenes from the story.

  • How did you come up with the concept of your book? What was the inspiration behind it?

I’ve always been good at making up stories with a little bit of prompting. I read a lot of stories to my kids. However, I’d also make up adventure stories on the fly where the characters were just like them (the kids). Ten years ago I got into making short movies, and I’d create the story around the people I could recruit to be in the video (You can still watch them on YouTube). My youngest son and other friends in their late teens were interested in starring in one of these videos so I set out to write a screenplay.

I didn’t want to deal with drugs, pregnancy or any of the other “teen issues” so I opted for an elite military cadre training on a planet where the atmosphere makes you tell the truth. That was the genesis for the current sci-fi novel, Mission Veritas.

  • That’s very interesting! Who is your favorite character in your book? Why?

The protagonist, Killian, of course. In the ‘movie phase’ of this endeavor, my son was going to play Killian. However, I really like all of them. It is pure pleasure crafting characters, then finding clever ways to ‘characterize’ them through behavior and dialogue. I’m hoping that readers will pick up on the affection I hold for each character.

  • I feel that writing is very gratifying. What has been your most rewarding experience as an author?

Finishing the story. As other writers know, you never feel like you’re quite finished. One can re-write and tweak a story endlessly. Completing the project, getting it edited, proofed, and published means you can move on to the next story and not keep revisiting the first one. I meet a lot of people who tell me they’ve wanted to write a novel, or have started, but have never finished. Out of the gazillion wannabes, I followed through. Writing a novel is a marathon and even if I don’t finish first, I crossed the finish line.

  • How much research do you do for your books?

I can see how historic novelists research their period pieces, but my ‘period’ is in the future, so no one knows. I’m frequently going to the internet to research things about space, physics, and chemistry to make sure things I craft have some basis in science. Most of my non-writing efforts in this endeavor have been divided between studying the craft of writing, and teaching myself graphics so that I could illustrate scenes.

  • What advice do you have for an aspiring author?

Writing fiction can be crazy making. Not so much the writing itself, but getting people’s attention to read it and the marketing aspects. Change your expectations about the endeavor, or it will take a toll on you.

If you were to decide, “This year I’m going to start running and participate in a marathon,” you would be crazy to think you’d finish in the top ten percent. Yet, many new authors dream of their first draft achieving bestseller status, and a movie to be made of their stories. It could happen, but the odds are slim.

It is important to accept reality and derive your satisfaction from other important aspects of the writing process.

One such aspect is that, much like when you read and feel there’s a movie happening in your mind, writing is exactly the same, only better. You get to dwell in that “mind-movie” for months or years at a time, and it’s truly enjoyable because you really like the characters and story. It’s a lot like binge-watching an entire season of a TV show. It’s the best of the best. You never tire of reading your own writing because the author is so brilliant.

Another important aspect is to go into this endeavor knowing that you’ll have to improve your skills.

Many writers jump into it cold with no background. Still, it’s hard to read books on writing, then remember it all when you finally sit down to write. Write a bunch, then read books on writing. Go back, re-write, apply the bits of what you learned, then read more books on writing. Get advice from published authors or hire a critique service. You’ll learn by doing, making mistakes, and fixing them. It’s the same with any creative endeavor, like carving, painting, or making music. Start by assuming your first draft will be terrible and you’ll spend time learning more, re-writing, and becoming better. Resist the incredible urge to self-publish your first draft as an eBook. It’s very simple and cheap, but you’ll embarrass yourself (like I did). You improve through practice, study, and more practice. You’ll likely feel you’re becoming an expert, and there’s a good deal of satisfaction in that. Derive satisfaction from the process and from what you are learning. Writing is free and a pleasurable way to spend your time. If you have a story in mind – start writing! You’ll have a good time and grow as a result.

It was great chatting with you, John. Good luck with your future projects!

John’s Book Link: Amazon.com

Social Media Links:

Author’s website: www.MissionVeritas.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ArmOnToast

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/1missionveritas

Blog: www.ArmageddonOnToast.com

Interview with Author Larry B. Gray

Lets welcome Author Larry B. Gray and get to know him and his book better.

A-Boy-from-down-east

 

  • Welcome Larry! Please tell us a little bit about how you started writing.

I have always been an avid reader and often thought about writing. With work and family there never seemed to be the time. Several years ago when blogging started to become popular I started blogging. They say a writer should write what he is familiar with and I am familiar with me.

After blogging stories about my youth I began to get suggestions from people, literally, from all over the world saying I should write a book. So I did.

  • That’s wonderful. Please tell us briefly about your book.

I grew up in eastern North Carolina in a small rural community during the 1950’s and 1960’s which was the best possible childhood you could wish for. Family, church, friends, school, and working on the farm was the center of my world.

I have often heard people say ‘if only I could change this or that of my past’ or ‘if only I knew then what I know now.’ I would not change anything because this is what made me who I am today.

This is a collection of stories of my childhood. I hope by reading these stories the reader is able to think back good memories from their youth.

  • What is one thing you want readers to take away from your book?

The most important lesson I learned dealt with marriage. Watching Granddaddy and Grandmomma work together to make their life taught me how marriage is supposed to be. I saw them laugh together, cry together and most importantly pray together; sharing in everything they did, a true team. Throughout the book family plays a vital part in happiness.

  • What has been your most rewarding experience as an author?

With this book it has been the response I have gotten from readers all over the world. People have told me about their experiences growing up and how similar they are to mine. Some of the countries these have come from are Australia, India, Russia, Switzerland, Canada and more.

  • That’s awesome! What advice do you have for an aspiring author?

Write. If you think you can; write. If you don’t think you can; write. If you are tired, write. But most importantly, if you really, really want it, write.

 

Larry’s Book Links:  Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, Paperback

Social Media Links:

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/larrybgray

Book Reviews by Larry:
http://www.bookreviewsbylarrybgray.blogspot.com

Author’s Website:
http://www.larrygraysells.com

 

Interview with Author Anish Majumdar

It’s my pleasure to interview Author Anish Majumdar today. His debut novel, The Isolation Door is quite a soulful story! Lets get to know the author and his book better in this interview.

Isolation Door Cover

  • Congratulations on your debut novel! Please tell us what inspired you to write this story?

Growing up, writing felt like a reflex, a way of processing things that were happening in a safe and unrestricted space.

My mother was a former English teacher, so she’d frequently give me writing assignments after I’d finished with homework. Nothing was off-limits- poetry, short stories- so long as I had something for her to read come day’s end.

At age 9, the death of my grandfather triggered the onset of her schizophrenia, and these writing assignments were one of many, many things that disappeared as my father, younger brother and I tried to cope with its effects. I kept a journal during these years. It was the only place where I could dream of a future that wasn’t poisoned by mental illness, the only place where I could express the grief and anger I felt without feeling like an ungrateful son. I worked as a TV and film actor in my twenties, trying on a variety of masks to cover up a very fragile emotional state. I used the same strategy in my personal life, inventing whatever backgrounds and personality traits were necessary to gain a friend or start a relationship. But that only works for so long. At age 25, with my mother suffering the latest in a series of breakdowns that ended with her being forcibly admitted to a mental hospital near my hometown of Montreal, Canada, I began writing a novel based on these “taboo” experiences.

My main goal was to express the truth of a situation I had never dared confess in public, if only to show that it did not have a hold over me.

During the course of writing The Isolation Door, the plot of the book diverged significantly from what my family experienced. But the emotions that underpin the book, the ache in your heart that says you will never stop loving this person even as you mourn for the life they might have had, are completely genuine.

  • Which scene in your book is your favorite? Why?

There is a scene in the book where Neil and his girlfriend Emily are surprised by a visit from his Auntie, a woman who has served as a kind of de facto mother when his real mother was undergoing treatment for her schizophrenia. Emily, having never met Neil’s mother, mistakes Auntie for her, and in an unspoken moment, both Neil and Auntie continue this deception. They go shopping, the two women bonding easily. At one point, Emily goes to use the restroom and Neil and his Auntie are left alone. Neil tries to explain the deception, tries to communicate the forbidden desire in his heart that she be his true mother and he can be her son, that they could erase all of the pain and disappointment of the past in one fell swoop, but can’t. He turns away, she tells him to wipe his eyes, Emily will be out soon. This was the strongest desire I had during the worst days of my mother’s illness, that I could simply rewrite everything and become someone else.

  • Yes, I remember that scene, it did affect me emotionally as well! Who is your favorite character in your book? Why?

Hard to select a favorite, but one of the characters I’m most fond of is Ganguly, a close friend of the Kapoors who helps Neil with legal proceedings related to his mother’s treatment.

Developing this character really reminded me of the priceless support my family received from Montreal’s close-knit Indian community during my mother’s decades-long battle with schizophrenia.

Men and women whom I’d previously known only as Uncle-this and Auntie-that took days off of work to cook us meals when my mother was in the hospital, or simply spend time with us chatting about everyday things when it felt like we were marooned and completely cut off from “normal” life. The love and loyalty they showed towards us is something that I will forever be grateful for.

  • I always say – write with passion and purpose. What is your mantra for writing?

The story is there, it already exists somewhere out there in the ether: it’s your job to excavate it.

When writing really sings, you become the first reader, discovering what happens as quickly as you can get the words down. It’s important to approach the work with a full heart and a lack of judgment, and let the analysis happen between drafts (not during).

  • What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book?

Re-writing the book after it had gone through an initial round of submissions through my literary agent, and been turned down everywhere, was the most difficult part of the process. For a year, I forced myself to get a certain amount of pages out every day. I kept vampire hours, ignored the voice in my head that said the passion was missing, and kept chugging on. What I ended up with was a soulless book that went nowhere. The breakthrough came when I realized that the initial version of the book had been written when I was 25, and expressed my views on life before things turned around for my mother and, by extension, my family. The reason it wasn’t working was because I was trying to recapture a frame of mind that did not exist anymore.

By re-envisioning this story through the framework of who I am now, which is a happily married man with a family of his own and a mother in recovery, I found that spark again.

As emotionally draining as the re-writing process was, it resulted in a better novel.

  • I feel that writing has a healing effect on authors. Do you agree?

Writing The Isolation Door helped me come to terms with the past and forge a new relationship with my parents.

I’d previously only seen things from one perspective, that of a son. But all of those hours spent crafting this story, forcing myself to look at the situation through the eyes of characters very similar to my mother and father erased much of the distance between us. I saw that this woman I’d been so intent on blaming for a difficult upbringing had tried her best to be a good mother despite the ravages of mental illness. I saw that my father was the type of person who’d give every ounce of strength he had to preserve his family, no matter how bleak the future seemed. Whereas once I’d believed that cutting ties was the only real way to live a happy life, today I recognize that some of the best qualities within me, both as a husband and father, derive from my parents. Seeing the joy on their faces playing with their grandson is something that I treasure. We are all enjoying a second act that seemed impossible just a few short years ago, and I am so excited to see what the future holds.

  • That’s wonderful! What has been your most rewarding experience as an author?

Receiving emails and tweets from readers who’ve connected with the story and want to share a little of their background with me is one of the most satisfying parts of my life nowadays. After years of pretending to be other people, I am finally showing the world my true face, and discovering that many are responding to it positively.

I’m so glad that you are inspiring readers with your courage and story. Good luck with your book and future projects!

Anish’s Book Link: Amazon.com

Social Media Links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DashAmerican

Website: http://anishmajumdar.com

 

Chat with Author Stephanie Samson

I am happy to host Author Stephanie Samson on my blog today. Lets talk to her about her latest book.

Shred-diet-recipes

  • Welcome Stephanie! Can you tell us briefly about your book and what inspired you to write it?

This book is filled with recipes for people who follow the Shred and Super Shred Diet. My inspiration comes from a few places.

I’ve always been a complete health freak and have always tried every diet that’s been brought to the market.

I soon realized I was good at making recipes for any given diet, because of my ability to cook and in depth knowledge. I also realized that I was spending a lot of money on each new diet book that came out, and there weren’t really many recipes being provided, so I had to come up with my own. I didn’t think this was fair for the average person who just wants to follow a diet and be given plenty of recipes so they can trust they are following the diet properly. So I started writing all of my recipes out and put them into categories depending on which diet they were for. I publish my books at a much cheaper price so people could follow the diets they wanted to without breaking the bank on books when they need the money for ingredients.

  • That’s wonderful. I always say write with passion and purpose and your story is exactly that! What is one thing you want readers to take away from your book?

Enough recipes to follow the Shred and Super Shred diet for a month!

  • How much research do you do for your books?

I wouldn’t call it research, but I do a lot of preparation. As I mentioned, I’m a complete health freak and I try every new diet that comes out. My preparation is mainly to see if the diet works and to see if I like it and would recommend it to anyone.

  • That’s great and I’m sure your readers will appreciate your recommendations. What has been your most rewarding experience as an author?

The messages I’ve had from people telling me how much my recipes have helped them to stick with their diet and achieve their goals.

  • Excellent! Do you have any book-marketing tip you want to share with your fellow authors?

Network with other authors. I personally learn most when I talk with other like-minded people, and I’ve learnt so much about publishing and writing by joining groups and talking with people.

That’s a great advice, I too am a fan of networking. You learn so much from others. Good luck with your books!

Stephanie’s Book Link: Amazon.com

Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stephaniesamsonchef

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Chef_Samson

Character development technique!

Writing-Guide

As authors, we have a lot of work to do before we start writing a story. From thinking of a concept to research to plotting and not to mention the most important task of characterization!

Authors have different techniques of developing their characters. When I started writing fiction, I used to develop my characters in a word document and it worked fine. However, over the years, I have moved on to excel sheets for filling in details of all my characters in my stories. I’m not sure why but I find that excel sheets work better, perhaps because I can see all characters side by side. This makes me not only focus on a particular character but also do a comparative analysis while I am filling in details.

Hope this helps, happy writing!


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Interview with Author Ratan Kaul

With great pleasure, I welcome Author Ratan Kaul today. Let’s chat with him about his book and writing in general.

Wings-of-Freedom

  • Welcome Ratan! I am curious as to how did you come up with the concept of your book? What was the inspiration behind it?

For this book I was generally inspired by my extensive reading of history books and historical romances, and it wasn’t only the English literature from international authors, but also the Indian classics starting from the works of Kalidas. His concept of Shringar Ras or The flavor of romantic love influenced me a lot.

But the epiphany happened when I visited the coronation park in Delhi. There, as I sat on the steps of the monument with a marble plaque referring to the coronation celebrations of King George V in 1911, the idea of romance between an Indian boy and a British girl came to my mind.

I visualized how would their relationship work and how would they engage in intense romance in that restrictive era of British imperialism and political divide. That gave birth to Wings of Freedom.

  • There are so many ways for authors to get their inspiration and your story is indeed very interesting! Which scene in your book is your favorite? Why?

There is a scene where the male protagonist Raju, distressed by his forced separation from his beloved Eileen, sits on the stone steps near the water’s edge of Arabian Sea in Bombay and gazes at the turbulent waves, frothing as they lash at the large stone boulders skirting the retaining wall.

His thoughts in those moments are encapsulated in the following paragraph of the novel:

His mind raced, reliving the intensity, the sublimity of their love, which transcended the barriers of race, religion, and society in tumultuous times – when India was struggling for her freedom from the British colonial rule. He gazed back to December of 1911 when he – then fondly called Raju – felt the caressing touch of the hand of a bubbly English girl of eighteen, during the coronation celebrations of King George the Fifth, near the Red Fort in Delhi.

It’s my favorite because it sums up the theme of the novel—an intense love between Raju and Eileen.

  • You certainly come across as a passionate writer. Tell us what has been your most rewarding experience as an author?

Well, besides the satisfaction of having given expression to my experiences, thoughts and emotions, I felt rewarded by several 5 and 4 star reviews that Wings of Freedom got globally from readers and reviewers in USA, UK, Australia, Europe and India, as well wide acclaim in Indian print media.

  • That’s wonderful. Congratulations! How much research do you do for your books?

For Wings of Freedom, a historical romance novel, it took me over a year’s research in government archives, archaeological departments, libraries and museums.

It was supplemented by digging up the newspaper reports of over a century back. For example, some headings in New York Times editions of 1911, relating to the coronation celebrations of King George V in Delhi, have been referred to in the notes given at the end of my book.

  • Wow, that’s a lot of research! It is certainly inspiring to hear. What advice do you have for an aspiring author?

First, the aspiring authors need to inculcate discipline of writing, meaning thereby that they need to write regularly, may be just a page per day. Second, they must have the determination to execute it to the last page, irrespective of breaks or writers’ blocks.

  • Which book are you working on next? Do you want to share a glimpse of it?

The first draft of my next novel, The Full Circle is complete and presently it is undergoing a revision. Basically, it depicts a triangular romance, with the backdrop of cultural identity crisis faced by Indians emigrating to overseas countries.

Great, that sounds like a wonderful subject, I am looking forward to reading it. Good luck!

Ratan’s Book Links:

Amazon.com, Amazon.in, Google Play

Social Media Links:

Author’s website: http://www.ratankaul.in

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorRK

Year of the Sheep!

We are celebrating Chinese New year today which marks the beginning of Year of the Sheep for 2015.

For the longest time, the only astrology I believed in was Western astrology. As teenagers, we were all smitten by Linda Goodman’s book of sun signs. I was however enlightened by some of my Chinese colleagues when they introduced me to their astrology.  Chinese astrology works by year and not by the month that you are born in. They kept telling me how my daughter is so lucky to be born in the Dragon year.

This whole conversation intrigued me quite a bit and then I looked up and read Suzanne White’s book on Chinese astrology. Suzanne has done quite a wonderful job of describing Chinese astrological signs. After reading it, some of my questions were answered such as why would two Scorpions behave differently even though they are both born under the same astrological signs.

For someone interested in astrology, it would be worth exploring Chinese astrological signs and understanding them.


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Research is sexy!

IMG_1070

Just a couple of years ago, I ventured into fiction writing and I am now moving beyond the phase of “write what you know about”. I am certainly outside my comfort zone and therefore research becomes all the more important.

Research for a book could be on several aspects such as setting, characterization, plot points, career of a character etc. What I have found is I get energized about research more than the actual writing of the book. There is an enigmatic feeling of what I am going to uncover and how I am going to stitch my research into my story.

Research is sexy!


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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