Sunday, 28 July 2013

Cover reveal and Blurb

My book is going to the town (well, out there anyway) and now I finally have the costume ready. And what a dress it is...can't wait for it to step out in this finery. Do have a look and see if you agree!

Oh, what is it I hear? You know nothing about it?  Nobody is fond of blind dates, so I'll tell you something to get you better acquainted with it. Here's the blurb which will give you a look in how it is.

The man of her Bollywood dreams 

Winning the chance to meet the ultimate Bollywood heart-throb, Zaheer Saxena, is just what Vishakha needs to take her mind off her recent humiliation—being jilted the week before her wedding! And when gorgeous Zaheer offers to be her fake fiancĂ©, the chance to save face with her family is just too tempting… 

It’s a deal that benefits them both—Zaheer is warding off any unwanted female attention until his next film is finished—but can Vishakha trust herself not to hope that her dream fiancĂ© for a day will be her forever man?

So are you ready for an evening with my book? It will be near you soon. Hope you'll have a good time! :)

Btw, pop over to my page to keep up with my book updates

Friday, 19 July 2013

Author interview – Get to know Shoma Narayanan

Today I'm hosting Shoma Narayanan on my blog. Shoma is an author for Harlequin Mills and Boon and also holds the prestigious position of senior vice president in HSBC. She has three books published till now, one under publication, releasing in November and is currently working on her fifth book for Harlequin.
Her most recent release is 'Secrets and Saris.' 

Let's get to know more about her and the book through a question and answer session.

Q1. Tell us something about yourself and how you got into writing.
I got into writing completely by accident.  I used to write a little in school and college – nothing serious, and I gave it up when I started working.  I saw an ad for a writing competition organized by Harlequin India in a bookstore, and sent in an entry on impulse.  I was one of the contest winners, and got a shot at writing a book for Harlequin.  Then the book got picked up for a global release, and the next thing I knew, I was offered a four book deal with Harlequin….

Q2. What was your experience of writing your first book? Easy as pie or hard as nails? *smile* 
Somewhere in the middle!  I loved most of the experience, and my editor was a dream to work with.  But there were still bits of the story I struggled over, and even after I’d re-written those bits, I’d still keep coming back to them, wondering if I could have done a better job!

Q3. What motivates you to write?
The high I get from the writing process – and the quiet feeling of satisfaction when I hold the first few printed copies of a book in my hands.

 Q4. What inspired this story?
The initial idea was sparked off by a conversation on how lots of people move from small towns to big cities, but very few do the opposite – that made me think of writing a romance novel set in a small town.

Q5. Please give us two lines describing the book. 
It’s about two ‘big-city’ people thrown together in a small town. Neil is a TV celebrity, and also a single dad. Shefali was brought up to be the perfect wife and mother  - but after she was jilted on the day of her wedding by the man her parents had chosen for her, she decides to strike out on her own. The book is about the two of them finding happiness with each other (after their due share of fights and misunderstandings!)

Q6. Do share two prominent traits about each of your two main characters in the book. 
Neil is half Indian and half British and combines very traditional Indian sensibilities with a fiercely independent outlook to life. He’s a single dad, and is far more mature and responsible than most twenty-eight year olds, but he has a quirky side to him - of course, he’s stunning to look at as well!  Shefali is a little stiff and uptight at the beginning of the book. As the story progresses, she loses a lot of her hang-ups, and comes out as a strong, loving and independent woman who’s not afraid of the depth of her own feelings.

Q7. All writers dread the writer's block. How do you overcome it?
I’ve not had a bad case of writer’s block yet (fingers crossed!) but there have been days when I’ve found it tough to write more than a few pages – on those days, I just stop working on the book and go off and do something with my kids.  When I come back to the book after a couple of days, it’s a lot easier to pick up wherever I stopped.

Q8. Does writing get in way of 'life'?
No, but my life gets in the way of my writing often enough L

Q9. What's next in your plans?
I’ve just signed a contract for another four books with Harlequin – now I need to sit down and actually write those books!

Q 10. What's the best thing about writing – other than it gives you a great excuse to avoid housework? *wink*
Well, I don’t do much housework other than cooking the odd meal with my kids…. The best thing about writing romance novels is that they are as much of an escape for the author as for the reader.

Q11. This last is a rapid-fire round. Brace yourself to give some quick responses. Say the very first to come in your mind. Be honest! *gives a stern look*
Here goes…

- Most hated movie:
Jeepers Creepers – I watched it on a trip to London with a bunch of colleagues – it was so bad, it wasn't even funny

- Your one secret habit no one knows about. (getting tough here?):
I tell myself stories every night before I go to bed

- Actor you'd fall for every time (don't worry we won't tell hubby J): 
Daniel Craig

- Book you would laminate to preserve it:
“To Kill a Mockingbird”

- Fallback option when the fridge is empty:
Salads from Subway

- What comforts you when things go bad? 
My kids

-What sounds better? A party or a quiet evening at home?
Depends on my mood

- Your most comfortable outfit?
Shorts and a well-worn T-shirt

-Which is a better pastime – a book, a movie or a game?
Always a book.

Thank you so much, Shoma for the interesting answers. 

Here's the blurb, excerpt and the buy links for the book. Go enjoy! :)

Jilted at the altar, Shefali Khanna should be humiliated. Instead she takes the opportunity to start again. Top of the priority list: do not tumble headfirst into another relationship! But even moving from Delhi to a small town can't keep Shefali out of trouble—especially when she catches the eye of TV celeb Neil Mitra. To add to the complications, Neil is divorced and a single dad, and his four-year-old daughter Nina is one of Shefali's students. There is no way she can risk a getting into another relationship. He might be gorgeous, but he's totally off-limits…right?

Excerpt: Please follow this link to the Harlequin website to read the excerpt

Buy links:

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Kashmir Trip

A trip that will remain in my memory for ever. Kashmir is rightly called 'A Paradise on Earth'. Everyone who has been there, knows it.
Funnily enough it wasn't in our plans at all to go to Kashmir or even anywhere at all for summer break. Suffering from wilting July heat I urged my husband that we should take kids somewhere cool for a short trip. We hadn't planned anything. I thought of Shimla which wouldn't take much time out of my schedule. But a weather check turned out a rainy week prediction. My husband suggested out of the blue we opt for Kashmir.
Things moved fast. One day I was talking to DH about going and by evening we had the tickets booked and by next afternoon, excited and breathless we were landing at Srinagar. After checking in, we took off and enjoyed the shikara ride on Dal lake.

Next up was a fifteen minute stop at Chashme shahi. 
 With beautiful flowers in the garden.

And refreshing ..brr.. cold water.

The curving road went back and on towards the lake. A cool breeze had started tinged with the scent of flowers. The road wound round the water and we clicked on the lake-marks that the shikara rower and guide had pointed out.
Nishat Bagh was our next spot. Imagined the moguls roaming the grounds :) 

Magnolia tree which I had heard praised of but not seen.

Shalimar garden was much smaller but sat and enjoyed the breeze there. Flowers filled all the gardens in profusion.


The next day brought an uphill curving road ride to Gulmarg. The slopes were dotted with flowers. White ones looked like snow drops. Delphiniums abounded. Enjoyed the views

During the horse ride, the guide pointed out the sites for movie shots. This is where 'Hum tum ik kamre mein band ho' from film Bobby was shot according to him.

Ksheer Bhawani  amd Jyashta mata temple next on the list.

Pahalgam is not to be missed. 
After the ride the day before, we were tired of and allergic to horse rides but the trail would take two hours on foot, our driver told us. Still we were brave enough to set off. However it was so steep and we were unconditioned, so were soon out of breath. Plus we couldn't make out the trail by ourselves. The villagers helped but soon the spot was totally deserted.

So we succumbed to the guide's persuasions and again mounted on ponies.

The trail wound continuously upward. Frightening at places as the edge of the foot wide trail dropped precariously away to running stream below. Too tightly holding on to the horse to click pics so managed only few.
At the end of a grueling half an hour we reached the mini Switzerland. Ah, sheer natural loveliness!

However, the way downward was even worse than up - at least for me! Kids told me they enjoyed it. The horses were stepping on dusty slope with steps for horses carved in spots in between the hardened roots of trees. Horses proceeded step by step following each other. Almost vertically downward or so it looked and I closed my eyes when it became too steep and just prayed. The guide brought us out to vista of Kashmir valley. We looked at it from the edge of the out-curving road.

He aimed us to go right down the dropaway edge and I could only say you mean go down where? Here? Here was no place but air. Anyway his implicit faith in the horse and obvious un-maneuverability on foot had me sighing and submitting. Again hung on for dear life. Though if you tore away to glance at the views they were amazing! Tall green trees. The running stream over the stones way down below. The green slopes. The cool still air which can't be described, only felt. The only thing was you couldn't keep from gasping at the steep downward direction. At least I couldn't. My daughter was blithe later. She thoroughly enjoyed it. And son was also pretty cool. So maybe it's just me getting old!
Then the horse suddenly seemed to go mad and walk right into the river. While I panicked the guide was insouciant as ever. I realized belatedly the animals needed watering.

Later we had to stop for rafting. Which was really out of this world! So much fun. Here's a short video.

On the way back our driver took us to apple gardens.

He asked us if we had tried kehwa, the Kashmiri tea and we said yes, over at Nehru park in the lake. But he sneered at that and took us to a stall by the numerous dry fruit shops lining the road. It was indeed quite different there, tasting great with the crushed almonds, cardamom, cinnamon, saffron and other spices. We went in the shop and bought dried figs and blackberry. Also saffron which Pampore is famous for.
The next morning we went to Shankaryacharya temple. The only pic I have is the sighting we did from Dal Lake as camera wasn't allowed inside.

All in all it was a great trip. Here's some shopping I did. Though I was short of time to do much.

So how did you spend your vacation? Do share.


Tuesday, 2 July 2013


This is an out of way post for me as it has nothing to do with writing but it has everything to do with a topic that's most important to all of us. HEALTH.
Health relates to that awful thing : exercise. Which none of us mostly  feel like!
But reading this will make you WANT to exercise because this happened to me when I discovered this illuminating fact that I'm about to share.
Each one of us knows exercise is important and that it's important to keep moving. But what we don't know is that not moving can be lethal. Or eventually WILL be lethal.
I found this when I was helping my daughter on a biology lesson. She had asked me what is lymph? I told her the usual answer given in the textbook, that it's a straw coloured fluid which contains lymphocytes which are part of the body’s defense system. It helps to transport substances, it flows through lymph capillaries to lymph vessels and it drains into blood. But she still didn't know what to make of it. Why is it there in our body when there is blood to transport substances?
Now, lymph is something which is a mysterious entity to even medical people. We know it is very important in immunity. But the exact role is somewhat vaguely understood.
To explain better to my daughter, I read up lymph and was struck at how important its function was and how ignorant I had been about its true significance.
To explain briefly, lymph is formed from interstitial fluid, which is the fluid surrounding the cells. It flows in vessels which have valves, much like the hole-less belts which can go forward but not slide back. When it is formed it has composition like tissue fluid but on its way it accumulates lymphocytes from lymph nodes.
What has lymph to do with exercise?
Our body fluids by the way of lymph get exposed to a rich plethora of immune cells like lymphocytes – which are enough to get rid of most of the heaps of pollutants and toxins we are exposed to in daily life. That is its job. To form from fluid in between tissues, hence contain much of the toxic waste from the cells, and take up immune cells from lymph nodes on the way. But lymph needs help in one thing: circulation. Its circulation is totally dependent on muscles. When muscles contract, lymph is pumped up and the empty vessels are filled up. If the circulation is proper, more amount of body fluids are exposed to the action of immune cells because of better lymph flow.
Here’s the crux.
If you keep moving, you're doing your body a huge favour. As the immune cells are the ones which have capability of destroying cancer cells and eliminate many disease factors, so exposing body fluids to immune cells works to clean your body from these threats. I'll repeat, the more you move, the more the lymph circulates. Rest and inactivity lead to sluggish flow and accumulation of the debris inside your body. The immune system and lymph still works but it's slowed down considerably and toxins can build. Cells come under stress and can change into cancer cells. 
That's why regular exercise is important.
Even if it's a brisk daily walk, it will cleanse your system. Lymph circulation is hastened. Boo toxins! Defeat of disease. the health flag unfurls.
What more can you do to boost this?
*Eat more of fruit and veggies. Fatty and greasy food has more free radicals which are reactive entities, causing damage to your cells, stressing your system and eventually overloading the immune system.
*Eat more salads and fast one day a week by eating only fruits to help your lymph clean up the toxins.

Nature has designed your body to heal itself. Help yourself maintain it.
One thing : a fast one day a week eating fruits or even restricting yourself to one meal can help you lose weight and add to the world’s food stores. I fast every Monday, though I keep it for religious purpose and do eat something made of wheat and sugar one time besides fruit. You can make your own version of detoxifying diet, without being too hard on yourself.
Do let me know if you got anything out of this post. But if you are going to comment below, take a walk NOW and then come back and tell me about it.
Make it your mantra from now on. Exercise. Get rid of your toxins. Stay healthy.