March 31, 2012

RandomMusings For The Day #46

Is addiction really such a bad thing? Dark chocolate for weight loss, red wine in moderation for the heart, brain puzzles to stave off dementia, writing memes to keep the creative juices flowing, ezine rejections for staying humble(poor) and the A-Z for an excuse to bring the old Olympus out. ;)

p.s. I am rejoining the A-Z but only with my 'ready to post' pictures on my photo blog, well, so far have 20 of them.
March 27, 2012

The Dance - New Beginnings


 This piece is for the blogfest at Unicornbell.

"Dya*, hurry. They are coming." I panted through the half open door. My ribs ached with every short breath taken.
Had never run so fast, doing 5 miles without a pause. The silence from within caused strange sensations in my stomach. The hinges creaked in annoyance as I pushed the obstruction away. The room was in disarray, everything upturned. From the centre of the hall I could see that none of the adjoining areas had been spared. There were wet, muddy shoe and foot prints overlapping as though jostling for valuable space.Three clear sets led me to the bottom of the stairs, to the bedrooms above. I crept up slowly unsure of what lay in wait, the Swiss knife transferred from the back pocket to my trembling hands.
I wouldn't wish the scene before my eyes on even Stefanek, the village bully. I vomited my morning meal on the dirtied carpet under my feet. A low moan from the nearest figure brought to life my fleeting courage. Wiping away the hot, furious tears I stumbled forward. She was still breathing. The book was safely hidden for now. I covered the shredded remains of her dress with a blanket, lifted her in my arms as tenderly as I could and fled through the back door.
***
I have been standing for more than an hour in the abandoned house on the hillock, watching with tired eyes and limbs the devastation below. Half glad Aishe* wasn't with me, conjured a mental image of the agonised screams of the dying. Her kind heart would have never permitted this. The other half willing to give up the world to see her awake and smiling. The swirling, blackish grey waters mirrored the stain on my soul. Large carcasses of their livestock and pieces of wood, the remnants of their mighty houses and boats floated idly along. Pity, a couple of young trees had to give way. The flood waters would take a week or more to recede, competently destroying whatever stood in their way including the fresh harvest.
This has been the most exhilarating dance I have ever attempted. The river, my companion and slave mimicked my movements as she spread over the accursed village. I played the Kristora* sparing the villages that didn't harm us. The memories gushed back, uninvited. My father's pleas of innocence falling on deaf, hateful ears. His last words before they staked him, "Make them pay."
They stole our land, our home, murdered my mother, violated the elder sister beyond human endurance. She sleeps the sleep of the living dead. 
A tiny hand tugs at my shirt sleeve, whining,  "Let's go. It's cold here."
I pull him into the warmth of my arms reluctantly, the adrenaline still coursing through my veins screaming 'Enemy'. Our clan control the elements, a gift passed from the mother to her first born. Grandma refused to let him die, so he lives to see the death of his unknown fathers with his eyes. My father had been the youngest of six, as powerless as the the ones who accused him of black magic.
I stood silently for a few minutes more before trudging back to the trees, the tall pines already casting their needles on the floor.
Harman* loves the rustling sounds around us. He turns back and forth in jerky movements causing my shoulders to ache some more.The clan believes that the winter winds are less harsh since his birth. We live deep in the forest. The ignorant folks in the valley below think it is enchanted and evil and refuse to enter. Sometimes, blind faith can be a blessing. We planted the stories for our survival.
The ancient book says that our ancestors came from the East, from the land of seven rivers. One day, we will journey back, beyond the narrow confines of our adopted homeland. Harman and me.
We live in tents now, easier to assemble and dismantle in times of danger. Grandma is waiting by ours with a scowling face. She knows, always does. 
"Where have you been wandering about at this hour?"
"Nowhere. Just attending to some unfinished business." as he jumps out of my hold and scampers off to the dinner fires.

Wc 703











*Dya - Mother, Kristora - the judges.
* The words used are Romani - the language of the Romas, the gypsies of Europe whose ancestors are said to have migrated  from northern and central India around 1000 years ago.
Linguistic and genetic studies prove with reasonable accuracy that they belong to existing Indian tribes of travelling musicians.
* I wanted to give the dancing aspect a magical touch.
March 23, 2012

A Ring Of Finality

*Used the phrase, with a necessary change in adaptation given the cultural setting*

'She wears my ring', the lingering smile on his face announced to all the attendees at the wedding reception.
His fidgety movements betrayed his impatience over her delayed appearance.
"Relax. These ladies always turn up late, must be busy with her makeover." said his cousin shrugging his shoulders casually.
His movements eased but barely so. His relatives had echoed similar sentiments, using different words at various stages of the wedding.
"Stop asking these silly questions. Brides are nervous on their wedding day."
His nosy aunt had stated, overhearing the words exchanged by him and the best mate.
"We girls are excepted to be shy and modest, at least on such days." The sister had butted in with her wise tuppence patting his arm for added effect.
Maybe they were right, they were experienced after all. Her quiet, solemn look, her rare glancing his way could be explained thus, couldn't it?
His heartache lessened and he went back to standing at the entrance to the lobby.
***
Through the final touches of make up, she twirled the diamond engagement ring.on her hand. Glancing at the mirror in front of her, the black and gold beads among other jewellery on her neck glinted back, signalling her married status.
She touched them gingerly with her finger tips eliciting a gentle admonishing from the beautician.
"Madam, please keep your hands down, the nail paint will get blotchy."
Inspecting her fingernails, the young girl sighed,
"See, I have to redo it." looking around for a bottle of remover.
She apologised with a smile and stared at the ring instead. Little joy there, rather the feel of it on her finger felt like a heavy weight on her soul. Her heart still beating for another. The charming boy with the impish grin who had wound his way into her heart, only to break it into countless pieces years later.
Her husband was a good man deserving more than she could offer. They were family friends, her parents adored him as his loved her. He had always encouraged her, made her laugh.
*** 
Her transfer would take time. This year of separation would turn out to be a blessing. Looking into his adoring eyes as he took her hand in his, she promised herself, he would never know that their marriage had begun as a compromise for her.

wc 388 .

March 20, 2012

A Race To Live Or Ruin - A Book Review




The Curse Of Gremdon - Ciara Knight
Genre - Speculative Fiction - Fantasy/ Adult Fiction
Novel - 282 pages, Price $ 7.99
Available at Amazon Kindle Store


Blurb:


In a world where marriage is forbidden, sex is only granted to male warriors, and the outer realm is full of murderous creatures, Arianna fights to protect the life of her only living relative, her brother.Tardon, an elite warrior, is granted anything he desires by the Elders, but finds little joy in the voluptuous women presented to him. Born for the bloodlust found only in battle, complicated emotions emerge when he discovers his equal in the alluring warrior, Arianna. Charged by the Elders with saving the castle from  attack, Tardon and Arianna risk the curse when they traverse the vast outer realm to retrieve serum from the Tree of Life. If successful, the Elders have promised Tardon the right to marry and Arianna the cure for her brother’s death fever. Will their love carry them through or will the discovery of a great deception be their ultimate demise


This is a fantasy set in the kingdom of Gremdon, basically a sword and sorcery style of story telling. The magic is not visible in daily life and yet is very much there in the background, playing a crucial part.
I liked the author's focus on the two main characters, elite warriors Arianna and Tardon allowing the readers to explore their interaction, romantic and otherwise. The world around them is created with painstaking detail and clarity that one feels a part of the narrative.
 The secondary characters are well developed and some of them linger on after the ending. Ex Warrior Saldor's feelings for Arianna vacillating between friendship and love, her brother's natural affinity towards the deprived and troubled, the enforcers and the apprentice's penchant for using their powers to control and subjugate enhance the progression of the story.
Despite the romantic tension, its not all rosy and their task to retrieve the sap from the tree of life is beset with obstacles and live threatening dangers.
 Though it does drag a bit in the beginning, it picks up pace fast enough. The twist and turns keeps one engrossed and at the edge of the seat unable to predict what comes next.
The superb twist in the end really catches the reader unawares, though the author leaves subtle hints throughout the book.
Some may find the dark, shadowy world a bit sexist with the male warriors being pampered by the Elders. Arianna is the only female warrior  where most of the women are engaged in other activities. But  this only makes the Elders ruled world that much more realistic.
There are strong romantic scenes which fall in the spicy category of romance rating - Sweet -> Hot -> Spicy.
I give this a 4.5/5 rating.
I recommend this enjoyable read to all fantasy lovers looking for a tale well told and surprisingly different.


I received a copy for review through the group Knights of the Round Table on Goodreads. 


Personal Disclaimer: Though this book was a free copy received for the purpose of review, the post in entirety is my basic impression after reading the book twice. It is not based on intervention by the author, publishing house or the book forum. 
March 17, 2012

Wee Story About Wee Creatures? - Got Green?" Blog O'Hop


For the get green bloghop at Mark's blog... I emailed him; about having nothing remotely Irish in me, though some 19th century Irish thinkers loved to postulate their theories of racial ties of Druids with Indian Aryans based on language similarities. He baited me in with the hook of a flash fiction on Wee men and their pot of gold. Well Mark, a belated St. Patrick's day.

Courtesy Karenswhimsy- public domain images
She came gliding in her emerald studded, golden glass slippers. The swishing of the grass gown, distracting.
 "Very green" grumbled one the members seated on the semi circular rainbow table, secretly wishing he was single.
"Energetic, not our trait." the wee woman's nasal snarl.
The hatted man chuckled happily, gathering ominous stares from the others. He ignored them, thrilled at the prospect of a female assistant. Bushy eyebrows and matching beards tortured his daily vision.
"Oh my! Exquisite shoes!"  the secretary with her hand on her heart.
" Boyfriend’s gift for St.George's day." Leaned closer and mouthed in her ear.
"English!! Ya codding me? Wind your neck in, Colleen," the older woman cautioned.
She laughed happily, showing off her perfect, square teeth made of gold.
She moved to where the impatient trio waited, pulled out a chair, and passed her green leather folder.
Pale hands went through the embellished cards neatly stacked in chronological order. Accompanied by sighs and eyebrows lifted in disbelief, it passed at last to the older man .
He winked at her; she winked back conspiratorially.
"Impressive accomplishments. A talented family indeed." He added with a smug look.
"King Midas?" barely withholding a snuffle.
"That would be my great-great-great grandfather. Tricked into touching his favourite daughter was so devious." 
The snarl turned into a smirk.
 The soon to be single man, "Explain Julius Caesar."
"His sister. Smart duo. As Cleopatra's bosom friend, she taught her the womanly viles."
"Who is Silas Marner?" 
"Oh...that would be Móraí...can I tell a secret?"
Wizened eyes sparkled. "She never..."
She looked at her uncle warningly. "She loved him. Espie foiled her plans."
"Dubai shopping festival?”
"Brother Patrick. They love gold even black ones ."
"What do you bring on board?"
"Federal Reserve vaults. Three bars for three plus three given."
Few minutes of hushed conversation,
"Welcome, our newest portfolio manag..."
The secretary interrupted, “ Lucifer on the line, again..."
“ Tell him, 'Leprechaun Gold Inc' are greed investors not soul collectors.”

WC 333
Not Irish, not Leprechaun but can I spin a tale? Tell me pleash...


For those unfamiliar with:
St.George's day - Holiday of patron saint of England
St.Patrick's day  - Holiday of patron saint of Ireland
Irish Slang
Codding me - kidding me 
Wind your neck in - be careful, think about it
Colleen - young Irish woman.
Móraí - Grandma in Irish Gaelic


March 08, 2012

The Tryst - Second Campaign Challenge

Using four of the prompts, doing a flash fiction, a pitch or logline,  an inspired poem.
Additionally, 
attempting three of the  activities tied by a common theme,
in a genre never before attempted,
and requesting a critique.


Flash Fiction

All that was left was to wait it out.
He stared at her, elegant looking despite the wet hair from the drizzle that caught them unprepared. Shooing away the starving kids at the garbage dumps hadn’t been easy, grim remainders of his past. He shifted his leg stump away from the jetting rails of what had once been the bridge of Bridgewater town. The pain would resurface soon making travel a nightmare.
The message had been delivered, the bird in his trap, dawn bringing the well earned reward. He day dreamed of the golden patterns, enjoyable side effects of the pain killing serum.


In a happier time reflected in her grandfather’s picture in the burlap, the sneak would have a name not just a number. The one who had foreseen the rise of Stonia, now something evoking fear and despondency was long dead but the movement he co-founded was alive in the hidden depths. She often wondered what had turned the still beautiful woman into the epitome of sadism.
Eric, she felt an ache at the very sound... this pathetic human staring at her brought her closer to the goal, the mission’s success hanging on his ignorance.

wc 198

Pitch/Logline


 In a world bereft of most natural resources, the International Council rules with an iron fist. The  self labelled high priestess and sadist Stonia, the true wielder of power ruthlessly mows any opposition. But the MOB, an underground resistance plots her demise, their reluctant assassin, the unassuming Charlotte, granddaughter of one of the founders,
A simple plan that needs only an image and the medical skills of the widow of the previous leader, finds her embroiled in a moral conflict that could sabotage the mission and destroy the movement...

Wc 89

Poem - Form 'Ode'


Grey cloaks the land,
Where once walked the green maiden
Lovely and captivating visions she spun.
The birds sang, the river hummed
the mad wind whistled in passing.
Happy faces, laughing eyes, scampering feet
were not yet yellowing postcard smiles.

She stood there, straight backed yet unsure,
taking in the detail,
stilling the mind and heart
with the skilled hands of years past.
The expectations weighed
heavy on her chest.
The spirit never truly waned nor wavered
until she met her,
The mother who could have been hers.

For the Rach Writes' Second Campaigner Challenge

Prompt 1: 
Two people are sitting together under the remains of a concrete bridge. Their backs are against a rusted bridge support. One person’s leg is cut. The other person has wet hair. 

Four picture prompts.

Do one or more of the following:
  1. Write a pitch/logline for a book based on the prompts (less than 100 words)
  2. Write a short story/flash fiction piece of less than 200 words based on the prompts
  3. Write a poem with a twist using the prompts as inspiration (in less than 200 words)
  4. Write a story/poem in five sentences, each sentence based on one of the prompts
  5. Write a poem/flash fiction piece (in less than 200 words) about the water pear *without* using the words “pear”, “spoon”, or “droplet”.
For added difficulty/challenge:
  • Complete at least three of the above activities and tie them all together with a common theme (feel free to either state the theme in your post or leave us to guess what it might be)
  • Write in a genre that is not your own
  • Ask Challenge entrants to critique your writing.
March 07, 2012

Keeping Up On Writing Track Woes! - IWSG

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day for participating blog owners who may be professional or amateur writers. (All you need is the passion and output, published or not). Started by Alex Cavanaugh the author of the sci-fi space opera CassaStar and just released CassaFire, it is a means for writers to talk about their fears big and small. It is also an opportunity to connect to other writers who may have conquered these or are sailing in the same insecure boat as you.


Too many WIPS


Last week, at around 4 p.m  as I was dozing (almost) next to my desktop, when I was supposed to be fleshing out my characters, I was mauled...
They came with their gamma ray projectiles, their mind curses, their wails and tears, swords and bombs, acid dripping words, threatening to freeze my bank account (word bank).


I am a Ninja only in name, I could fend off a lean guy with a stout stick at the most, but them with an armoury that would make not just the Indian Army but the Western ones hang their heads in shame...not a chance in the universe.


Have you ever faced a 'characters assault'? Found yourself with fingers in too many pies unable to do justice to all?
Do you start a new story just to abandon it half way through, promising to come back when better plot lines and scenes surface?
Wake up one day; to realise your collections are only 3/4 complete and need to move your butt to have them ready, edited, embellished in a few months time?


Is it just a Gemini thing...here, there, everywhere, not a moment to spare...worse still, unfinished tales to sell?



March 05, 2012

A to Z Video And A Parting Shot



This is my entry for the video contest that serves as an appetiser before the main course of the A-Z challenge.
The blogfest, third year in running demands just two things:

A Prepare 26 posts for 26 consecutive days (except Sundays) based on the 26 alphabets in the English language.
Can be any topic in line with your usual posts or a particular area of interest like music, book, movies, sports, art, science, religion even your photographs, artwork, poetry and flash fiction (anything P.G rated, non racial and inoffensive).

B Comment on as many fellow A-Zers as you can or wish to, at least a dozen a day since there were over 1500 participants last time and may be more this time.

A great way to have fun, get out of the writing rut and make new friends, some of last year's A-Z friends still visit my blog. To join click on this Link on or before 31 March - A-Z Challenge

Now for Jenny Matlock's Saturday Centus...I missed it for almost a month.
Fellow Centusians have tolerated my crazy love for mixing challenges/memes...so do bear with me as my centus is based on this first uploaded YouTube video of mine.

For Saturday Centus at Jenny Matlock's blog...any genre, P.G as far as possible, not to exceed 100 words excluding the prompt in bold. Based on the given picture, this time permission to add as many pictures granted.
Check the other adieus there.


She sifted through the growing collection, the idea slowing taking shape.
As she glanced at them, some evoked forgotten memories, some an unplanned smile, some leaving her feeling nostalgic and sad. Their expressions, bright colours, careful outlines were indeed deserving of more curious eyes, inquisitive minds.
It took her all day to choose the final pieces, yet some would not make it to the board. They would be discarded, often without a second thought.
After much chopping and crafting, were ready, each one decked in complimentary accessories.
It was time to create a video out of them and yet…saying goodbye was harder than she thought...








March 02, 2012

Tagged Quarto

Tagged me in a Q & A meme. (You may find words with extra vowels like U or use of S instead of Z...I tend to write in British English since that's what we grow up learning in Indian Schools)
Now for your questions, I choose to answer: Sorry its twice as long as most of my posts.

Donna Hole who has written three contemporary women fiction novels and currently querying one of them. I met her during the Rule Of three blogfest and find her posts interesting with useful tidbits and reviews.



Who is your favourite fictional character, and why?
Very difficult to answer but the ones I love are Elizabeth Bennett from Pride And Prejudice and Jo from Little Women, a lot like me except for the bold/outgoing part.

How do you come up with the names for your own characters?
 I use a word that sums up the basic nature/reason for the character in a story and choose Sanskrit, Latin, Arabic or French names based on that or anagrams of them.

What book would you pass up, even if it was offered for free?
 Mostly horror books and Mills and Boon kind of books (impossible romance)...after reading Salem's Lot by Stephen King at the bright old age of 13, developed an irrational fear of vampires and the dark...took me two decades to get over it, thanks to the sparkly ones of Twilight. ;D

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what is on your playlist?
No, because I tend to get lost in the music...but when I am listening to a song, a quirky idea for a scene may pop up.

Do you have to make time to write, or have a set schedule; do you have any writing quirks?
When I first started writing full time in 2010, wrote in fits and breaks..After
 NaNo Nov 11, I make it a point to write atleast 500 words a day (for five days a week) on any of my WIPs but real life and health get in the way, often. I day dream of my main characters and it helps too.

Who is you dream agent/publisher?
 In India, the concept of agents hasn't kicked in yet, most publishers directly accept printed manuscript chapters...to be published by Rupa or Penguin India (the biggies) would be a dream come true.

Do you prefer printed books or ebooks?
Printed obviously, the feel of the yellowing pages, the musty smell, and touching those images in  artistic/picture books. But realise, my books may end up as E publications.

What is the weirdest dare you ever accepted?
Nothing weird, very boring that way...just that once, called up one of my best friend's colleague whom she had a crush on, to strike up a conversation and know him more. :P

This one by Heather Murphy who is an aspiring writer cum case manager for people with disabilities.

What is your dream vacation?
 Italy for the history and Bali/ New Zealand for natural beauty.

Are you spontaneous or do you like to plan ahead?
 A mix of both .

Tell us one thing you want to do but don't dare do it.
Adopt a girl child...but a divorcee with ageing parents and not so healthy bank balance doesn't stand a chance.

What's your biggest phobia?

Being alone in the dark scares me. (not scared of death but turning into something evil) ;(

If you were stranded on a deserted island-what three things would you want with you? (Not including your laptop or family)
A high frequency Walkie Talkie with batteries.
Alum crystals to purify drinking water.
A clean set of undergarments. (hygiene freak)


Name three blessings in your life.
My Parents
Brother And Sister In Law

Cousins, Nephews & Nieces.


What was your nickname in High School?
None unless you count teasing names like double battery and four eyes by boys when I studied for the first 6 years in a co-ed school.

If you could meet the President of the United States, what would you say to him?
Be the strong man who won the elections and take a tough stand where needed.

If you could be any literary character, who would you be?
Faramir from Lord of the Rings to see if I can handle the ring's lure like him.

What is your favourite quote/s?
Not all tears are an evil.
Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. (my own words - think no evil )
Life is what happens when you are looking the other way.

From Sher A Hart a YA fantasy author of the Earth One Series and a mother to four scouts.

If you were the main character of a book, what genre would it be?
Fantasy or historical.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
Telepathy...I could avoid a person based on their thought process.

List the top three websites you use.
Google search
Wikipedia
Absolute Write

Besides reading and writing, name two other hobbies you have.

Fabric Painting (on cloth, even clay, leather) and Photography.

Do you use Word Verification and why? (Better check first)
No, I prefer comment moderation for older posts. I hate the newer double hex ones...prefer not to comment on such blogs unless they have left a comment on mine or an old follow.



When visiting a Blog what bothers you most about the format?
Tiny fonts, very dark backgrounds, too many graphics.

 Do you have your email address listed on your profile, if not, why?
Yes, of course.

 How often do you post?
Sometimes on all days, at times once a week...mostly 4 days a week.



Are you on Facebook or Google plus?
Yes, both, but prefer to keep them (including twitter) seperate from my blog.

How often do you check your stats?
Once or twice a month maybe.

What one thing in the grocery store do you always want to buy?
 Kellogs 
Choco Cornflakes... (but can't buy, now that I am trying to shed excess weight)

Last through Traci Kenworth a writer of YA novels and short stories.

Daymare or Nightmare?
Nightmares often, especially that my 'psychologically disturbed personality' ex husband forces me to go home with him.

How many books/short stories/poems/songs etc. have you written?
Around 75 poems, 10 short stories, 100 pieces of flash fiction, half a short novel in progress (3 WIPs added up) in the last 1 1/2 years.



What genre is your current wip?
 Fantasy/Romance/ Sci-Fi/Contemporary all concurrent.

Do you have someone in your life who keeps you on track with your stories? Give them a shout out!
My Brother, cousin Nimmi who double up as my beta readers, given that both have a love for books.

Do you write what you know, or stretch your imagination, or both?
Both, depends on the genre and poetry inspiration too.

Who would you like to see on a coin/money?
A tigress since she is an endangered species, help create awareness.



What’s your favorite place to write and why?
 Anywhere but most comfortable in my bedroom.

 What would you describe your “Voice” like? I.E. Southern gothic…
Tending towards classical, literary.



Do you mix genres? Which ones?
 None so far unless you are talking of flash fiction.


If you could move anywhere in the world where would it be?
Back to Mumbai (Bombay), my home for 27 years.

What book (craft or otherwise) have you learned the most from?
The book of life, literally.


Anyone who reads this is tagged except the 4 ladies who tagged me, take 11 or 22 questions of your choice, let me know if you post them so I can know a little more of the real you.
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