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Archive for February, 2014

Twenty Questions with… Ruchi Vasudeva

Hi! Here’s my interview with Carina UK author Aurelia B. Rowl. She has some quirky questions for me 🙂 Read on…over to Aurelia now.

Twenty Questions with… Ruchi Vasudeva

Stopping by my blog for a round of Twenty Questions today is Ruchi Vasudeva, author of You Can’t Fight A Hollywood Attraction, recently released by Harlequin.

I have known Ruchi for almost as long as I have been writing, having met in the virtual sense in a writers’ support group on Facebook, so I am delighted to see that her journey to publication is going from strength to strength.

ACT ONE – ALL ABOUT YOU…

Ruchi Vasudeva is a doctor by profession, a teacher by vocation and, in her own words, an author by destiny. The writing bug has long resided in her and a contest held by Harlequin for Indian authors gave her a golden opportunity to have her dream realized. She debuted in August ’13 with her book Bollywood Fiancé For A Day. Her new releaseYou Can’t Fight A Royal Attraction is her second book, both being published by Harlequin. She also won a contest for getting a short story published with Harper Collins which will be published soon. She writes romantic fiction with conflicted characters who come into their own in their quest of reaching out for love. She loves to write about spirited heroines getting hurtled out of their daily life as soon as they cross paths with their rather challenging heroes.

She lives with her husband and two kids. When not bent double over the laptop, she might be found with her nose in books or munching nachos at the movies or glued to the telecast of Team India or Chennai Super Kings in action! She likes to take long walks which help in brewing story ideas. 

1) Have you always been a writer or is it something you fell into?

I used to love writing even during school years. While in college I was almost conflicted whether to give up a medical career for a literary one. Medical won that round and naturally writing took a backseat. I did steal a bit of time now and then to pen down story ideas but that was about it till, with the kids growing up and some time on my hands, the writing germ began to grow again. The Harlequin Passions contest for Indian author came along and the rest is history 🙂

2) Do you have a particular writing style or ritual?

Have to confess my writing has no order let alone any style. I pen down the dialogues between the characters to get a feel of where the story is likely to go and then write it in short form before filling it up during the rewrite. I can write anywhere if the story is going well. The kitchen, backseat of the car, a quiet room, a crowded bus, practically anywhere!

3) Is there a book or an author that has influenced you in your writing?

I used to be a proliferative Harlequin reader, still read them, so I think the natural bend to write happy-ever-afters comes from that. Authors who have left an impression are many, the foremost being Jane Austen, Penny Jordan, Georgette Heyer and Sidney Sheldon.

4) Is there one piece of writing (or life?) advice that has stuck with you, or that you would like to share?

I read somewhere that Penny Jordan’s editor gave her this advice : always ask ‘what if’ and ‘why not?’ I think of these words a lot. Makes me think of new avenues when a story gets stuck. 

5) Can you tell us three things about yourself that we probably don’t already know?

Hmm, I’m an incessant worrier, I worry about everything! I get part of the exercise I need while waiting for lentils to boil 😉 I love junk food…now I can’t look kids in the eye ever again! 

6) What five luxury items or gadgets would you hate to be without?

My smartphone, my BlackBerry, laptop, food processor and washing machine! 

ACT TWO – ALL ABOUT YOUR NEW RELEASE…

Playing with fire. Who says it isn’t fun?

The last thing Rihaan needs in his life is to play host to a woman who drives him crazy! Saira is gorgeous, yes, but she’s also wildly infuriating. Yet every time she comes within an inch of him he finds his normally iron-clad control slipping further and further away…

Wanting to protect herself from more heartbreak, Saira knows she should keep her distance from Rihaan —but there’s something about him she just can’t seem to resist… Little does she know that Rihaan is hiding a secret! When it comes to light will it tear them apart —or raise their passion to new, more majestic heights?

7) Congratulations on your recent release of You Can’t Fight A Royal Attraction; what was your inspiration for writing Rihaan and Saira’s story?

The inspiration came while I was writing my first book for Harlequin,Bollywood Fiancé For A Day. Saira was the heroine’s stepsister in that book. I couldn’t help thinking of her point of view and gradually she became a character who had to have her story told. She was such a fiery and fearless character, a woman who had her share of mistakes and growing out of them, it was  fascinating to go along with her on her journey. 

8) Did the story flow from your finger tips or did some scenes take a bit of cajoling?

The beginning took a few rewrites but after that the book really took off. I was on a deadline which might have accounted for the jetspeed writing! 🙂

9) How long did it take for the initial spark of the story to make it onto the page and then onto the publisher’s desk?

The story idea came in December but I wasn’t really paying much attention to it then. When my editor and I were discussing ideas for my second book then the story began to form. The first three chapters took about two weeks.  I think I wrote the rest of the first rough draft in less than a month. Then after polishing and revising for 15-20 days, it became presentable enough to be submitted. So around two months in total.  

10) Do you have a favourite paragraph or sentence from your story that you would like to tantalise us with?

Here it is. It happens when Rihaan grows distant to her and she is incensed about it.

‘Even you don’t find it easy to ignore it, do you?’ she asked bluntly, facing him in a moment of defiance, then she went forward. ‘Show me how one reasons with this.’ She flung her arms around his neck and brought his head down till she was kissing him.

Anger. Desire. Frustration. Everything mingled in the kiss. The need to make him understand. The need to vent her anger because he didn’t understand. And then there was another need. The need to just experience…

11) Over to you, what can you tell us about You Can’t Fight A Royal Attraction to make us rush out and buy it?

If you like fiery heroines who stand by their believes and grow stronger from their mistakes; if you like enigmatic, hard-to-read heroes protective towards those they love, you’ll enjoy every second of reading You Can’t Fight A Royal Attraction

12) What can we expect from you next? Is there something you are working on right now? 

I have one story out in an anthology being published in May by Harper Collins India. I’m working on a couple of other projects which are in the first draft stage. 

QUICK FIRE ROUND – IT’S POP QUIZ TIME…

13) Plotter or pantser?

Plotter till the charting of characters and situation; pantser for rest of the book.

14) Digital books or print books?

Both but slightly inclined towards print.

15) Tea or coffee?

Both again! but tea is more my cuppa tea 😉

16) Extrovert or introvert?

Introvert. But like the company of family and friends. 

17) Facebook or Twitter?

Twitter. It’s quick and makes you value your words. That’s not to say I don’t dally on facebook all too often 🙂

18) Christmas or birthday?

Birthday. 

19) Morning person or night owl?

Night owl reformed into morning person 🙂

20) Sweet or savoury?

Sweet. Love chocolate desserts!

And that’s a wrap!

Thank you so much for taking part, Ruchi, I wish you every success with your new release.

Thanks, Aurelia, your questions were so fun, though the choices were tough to pick I can tell you! Enjoyed being here a lot.

To discover even more about Ruchi Vasudeva, and to keep up with her latest projects, you can visit her at:

FACEBOOK     TWITTER     BLOG     WEBSITE

BUY IT NOW…

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Add to Goodreads

ISBN: 9789351062622
Released: 3 December 2013

Harlequin India
Amazon UK / US / Germany / India
NOOK UK
Kobo
iBooks
Infibeam
Flipkart

EXCERPT…

What was it about that cool hauteur that made her want to play with fire?

‘Of course you’re no danger to me in a…’ deliberately she let her gaze run over him ‘…a sexual way, are you?’

He didn’t miss it, and nor did he miss the insolence she project- ed. She could see his mouth tighten in controlled annoyance. For a wild minute she wished he’d let loose, and the unreasoning thought made her heartbeat pick up.

‘Are you trying to challenge me?’

Her heart jumped up at the deep voice laced with mockery. Coward, she derided herself. Surely she wasn’t frightened of him?

‘No challenge for you, surely? You can hardly stand the sight of me,’ she reminded him.

‘Am I supposed to jump on you in fervent denial of that statement, swearing that I can’t keep my hands off you?’ A dark eyebrow rose. ‘Sorry, but your little game won’t wash, Sehgal.’

Irritatingly, he’d addressed her by her surname again. ‘Oh, how astute you are, Khehra!’ She widened her eyes. ‘You catch on so fast I guess I’ll have to watch myself more around you.’ She formed a pout, aware of his gaze moving to her mouth, feeling an unreasonable thrill as it did. She must be mad. Or starved of fun. But somehow she couldn’t not try to get a reaction out of that stone monument.

His eyes narrowed. ‘Whatever you’re trying to do, I’m not looking for trouble—and I’d advise you not to go poking around for it either.’

‘So disappointing!’ She shook her head sorrowfully. ‘Here I was, getting thrilled to bits that we’re going to have this week-end. Just us. Lonesome. Twosome.’

here is the link to the post. Do let me know how you liked it! 🙂

Review – Grays Hill by Barbara T. Cerny

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The Blurb

After her father committed suicide rather than face his mounting gambling debts, Oksana Wallingford knows she will have to work in order to keep food on the table and her younger brother, the new baron, in school. When her best friend finds her a position as the nanny of his brother’s children, it is the opportunity Oksana needs. But what she didn’t contend with was Rafe, the recently widowed Duke of Essex and her new employer.

 Oksana and Rafe’s personalities are like oil and water. However, what begins as mutual hate slowly begins to change into something more. But what future can they have when Rafe has sworn off marriage for good?

As the mismatched pair struggles to come to terms with one another, a disaster that throws everything into question strikes them both.

 

I found Grays Hill to be an engaging historical read. Though the overarching theme in the story is the duke’s recovery from the emotional damage he had suffered, effected through his romance with his governess, the story isn’t centered on the two romantic characters but rather embraces all the characters in its fold. They are warm, cheerful and you go happily along for a ride.

At places there is lack of conflict which takes you out of the story and the interest wanes near the end because of that. Interaction between main characters started a little late in the book and ended a bit too early and the last episode along with the spotlight on the villain, in my view, was unnecessary. I enjoyed the middle half thoroughly. The heroine is unusual and takes the stage. But she is depicted so strongly that at one or two points one looks askance at the hero.

I rate it four stars out of five for readability except the last one fourth of it, four stars for concept and world building.

Read it if you’re looking for a historical, entertaining read which is not a typical genre cast.

Review – Double Jeopardy by Sundari Venkatraman

Blurb

Sanya doesn’t just have trouble, she has double trouble. Twins Arth and Ansh Sharma, are rich, sexy and sinfully handsome – what’s a girl to do?

 Sanya last saw the twins when she was ten years old. Now, all grown up, she has come looking for gentle Arth, the twin she has loved ever since she can remember. But instead, she is confronted with fiery Ansh, who is hell-bent on seducing her. And what’s worse, she can’t seem to stop herself from responding to him.

 As she chases Arth and is chased by Ansh, Sanya finds herself on a crazy roller coaster ride with no way of getting off. How will she deal with these two very different men in her life? Will she be able to convince one twin that she loves the other?

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First the title. I congratulate Sundari on it. It is very intriguing and makes you want to pick up this book.

As in the blurb the story revolves around Sanya’s predicament about two men she knew as boys while growing up. The differing feelings in the past and present have been explored and Sanya is given her perfect ending in the conclusion.

What I liked most about the book is Sundari’s writing. She has a way of wanting you to read more so that you don’t feel that the story is being thrust upon you.

The short length is a drawback because the characters come out too simplistic. The author has wisely desisted from introducing any other conflict between characters. But conversely that makes the characters miss the depth they could have had. I felt too that the epilogue type ending could have been used to add more words to the story.

Throughout, the story stays loyal to its theme. At the end, it comes out a little idealistic as though it’s the author’s depiction of what should or could be the approach of modern India towards the issues discussed. I don’t mean this as a criticism though.

I rate it four stars out of five for readability, three for plot, and three and a half for my takeaway impression. Looking to read more from this author.

Read it for Sundari’s lovely flowing writing and clean cut descriptions.

Get to know – author Barbara T. Cerny

Today I have on my blog author Barbara T. Cerny talking about writing and her book Gray’s Hill. Let’s get to know Barbara through this interview.

Q: Tell us something about yourself and how you got into writing?

I grew up in Grand Junction, Colorado, a dinky town of 30K when I lived there. The place was full of stories. Stories of the old west and ghost towns and back roads that led to nowhere and towns called No Name. The place was also full of beauty: The Bookcliffs where wild horses roamed, the Colorado National Monument with its rock formations such as Independence Monument, the Kissing Couple, and Coke Ovens. It was a quiet place that was safe and easy to live in. It was a place where the imagination could run as wild as the juniper trees and sage brush. My parents were readers so I became a reader, too. I remember books being in my life from the very beginning. I have wanted to write since the second grade. I was always coming up with stories to tell my friends at lunch or on the bus rides to/from school. I wrote through high school – on the journalism team, in creative writing class, on the teen page for the city newspaper.

Q: Your experience of writing a book – easy as pie or hard as nails? Each one is different. Grays Hill flowed fast. I had already done most the research for Of Angels and Orphans and I used all that research again for Grays Hill. I love to write descriptions (remember the 4 page description of the dress Scarlett O’Hara wore in the first chapter of Gone With the Wind? Okay, I am not THAT bad). Dialogue is very hard for me and I struggle with it and have to really concentrate on it. The editor working on my fifth novel is constantly telling me to rewrite descriptive paragraphs into dialogue (she is diabolical to say the least). I would be perfectly happy to write everything in a description. However, knowing that would drive away my readers, dialogue and I have come to a truce of sorts. For Grays Hill, the hardest part was moving Rafe from his hard as nails persona to a more loving persona. I was a fat kid, so writing about OJ being fat and losing weight was easy and very personal.

Q: What motivates you to write?

I think I was just born with a writing gene, if there is such a thing. I have done very well at my jobs over the years due to my writing ability even though that is not fiction (or is it?). I guess it is hard to find folks that understand technology (my degree is in computer science) and English at the same time. I write novels because it fills my “love bucket”, the thing that keeps me happy and fulfilled. I would love to make a living at writing but sometimes writing is enough.

Q: What inspired you to write this book?

For Grays Hill, I have to admit up front that I stole the Masquerade Hall lock, stock, and barrel from the castle of Český Krumlov in the Czech Republic. My family visited it while I was on my two weeks off from my deployment (I am a retired lieutenant colonel from the Army Reserves and spent a year in 2006-2006 in Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom). I was stunned at its magnificence and creativeness and the story of Grays Hill came crashing into my brain while I stood in that glorious room. That kind of inspiration has only happened that one time.

Q: Please describe your book briefly.

Well, one can read the blurb on the back of the book but it is really about growing up a finding yourself. Oksana Wallingford, aka OJ, is s a very strong woman. But she has lived at home taking care of her mother and little brother all her life. She is thrust out into the world and now must make it on her own outside the cocoon of her family. OJ is a large woman, in height and girth. She is ashamed of her weight but instead of lamenting about it she acknowledges it and decides to do something about it. She is strong, dependable, independent and above all humorous. On the other hand, Rafael Tarkington is one miserable human being. Burned by his first, deceased, wife, he has sworn off women and bitterness has taken over his life. He treats those around him with contempt and distain. However, through OJ’s amazing patience and fiery spirit, she finally teaches him that not all women are the same and love is defiantly worth it. This is the male character I wouldn’t want to hang around for very long.

Q: How do you overcome writer’s block?

 I work on 2-3 books at a time. When one isn’t flowing, I go to another. Or I go do research or marketing.

Q: Does writing get in your way of life?

 It is absolutely the OTHER way around. I write part, part, part-time. If I get in 2-3 hours a week, I am lucky.

Q: What’s next in your writing plans?

I have two books with editors. My regular editor couldn’t get into my paranormal, The Tiefling, so I had to find a new one. My new editor (the diabolical one), is changing every word, I think. But the novel will be pretty darn cool. It is set in Scotland, 1053, and first person male. I really had to get in touch with my masculine side for that.

The sequel to Shield of the Palidine, called Magic Thief of Gavalos, is through my editor (the regular one) and it is well over 425 pages. It is with the illustrator at the moment. As editing is simply the start of writing, they both are still “current”.

I am also developing three new novels: one romance is set in Sweden in the 1600s (researching the 30 Years’ War for background history), a second is a modern murder mystery called The Walled Cat (you will have to read it to understand that strange name!), and a biography of an amazing woman I know. That biography is by far the hardest book I have written and will probably be the only non-fiction I will ever write. It takes a special kind of writer to do biographies and I don’t think I “have” it.

And here comes our rapidfire round:

Your favourite movie. You are going to laugh as it is so hokey now. Star WarsEpisode IV – A New Hope. It moved the movie business to a whole new level and started us down the path we are on today. It wasn’t so much the story but the technology. In 1977 I was a sophomore in high school and Star Wars was simply jaw dropping. I am such a geek. However, Beaches has to be right up there. I cry buckets every time.

The worst movie you’ve seen Ator.1982.

Any secret habit? I talk to myself, out loud. Mostly when I am driving. It is how I do dialogue between my characters. I am sure I look like an idiot to other drivers.

Actor you’d fall for in a heartbeat. Pierce Brosnan

Favourite book. The Stand by Stephen King. That book made me think more about the human condition and where we might be going than any other. And made me wonder if I would end up in Las Vegas or in Boulder. I hope I am headed toward Boulder.

Fallback option when the fridge is empty. Raw pre-made sugar cookie dough. This might also be considered my secret habit!

What comforts you when things go bad? Food and a good movie to cry to, like Beaches or Fried Green Tomatos or Water for Elephants.

Your most comfortable outfit. Baggy jeans, T-shirt, hoodie, socks, tennis shoes. I wear suits and dresses to work everyday. On the weekends, it is dress down all the way!

Thank you, Barbara! It was great chatting with you. Lovely to hear about your town. You surprised me with Star Wars 🙂 and yes, the secret habit…I’d love to see the other drivers’ faces when you’re talking characters’ dialogues! 😉
Hope you all enjoyed this chat with Barbara T. Cerny. Do check out her book Gray’s Hill. Here’s the cover and the blurb.

 
Grays Hill By Barbara T. Cerny
The Blurb
 
After her father committed suicide rather than face his mounting gambling debts, Oksana Wallingford knows she will have to work in order to keep food on the table and her younger brother, the new baron, in school. When her best friend finds her a position as the nanny of his brother’s children, it is the opportunity Oksana needs. But what she didn’t contend with was Rafe, the recently widowed Duke of Essex and her new employer.
 
Oksana and Rafe’s personalities are like oil and water. However, what begins as mutual hate slowly begins to change into something more. But what future can they have when Rafe has sworn off marriage for good?
 
As the mismatched pair struggles to come to terms with one another, a disaster that throws everything into question strikes them both.
 
Buy @
Kobo |
 

Grays Hill

Meet the Author
 
Barbara T. Cerny grew up in Grand Junction, Colorado. She served twenty-two years in the US Army Reserves, retiring a Lieutenant Colonel in 2007. She is an information technology specialist and supervisor. Barb writes historical romances good for late teen and adults. She puts a lot of history and adventure into her work. Words are her passion, they do matter.
 
Stalk her @
       

 

Review : The Treasure of Kafur by Aroon Raman

A tale of flight and chase is always interesting and The Treasure of Kafur capitalises on the fact. This book is a mixture of fantasy and historical which is spot on. Though I didn’t expect the fantasy element in this tale of the Mughal period and thought it a little unbelievable at first, soon I found it woven into the historical thread.

I don’t usually read fantasy so I found it surprising that I enjoyed it and that speaks much for the book. I got into the story early on because there wasn’t much time to dwell as the story unfolded at a good pace.

Adventure, chase, mayhem, plans, surprises, everything has been worked in skilfully. I admit I was askance about use of actual historical figures in a fictional world but that is only a little hampering. I wished imaginary figures were used but I guess the tension couldn’t have been built that strongly and anyway it wasn’t hard to overlook.

I do wonder if a sequel is in the offing. The characters are engaging enough for one if the author plans it.

All in all I enjoyed reading this and definitely recommend it.

I give it five stars for readabiilty, four for concept, five for the world building without which this story wouldn’t have been what it is.

Read it if you’re in the mood for a fast paced adventure story.

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