Saturday, February 6, 2016

SPOTLIGHT! VOYAGERS INTO THE UNKNOWN by Ruchira Khanna



Voyagers Into the Unknown 
by 
Ruchira Khanna

Blurb 
In the historic Indian town of Agra, you can find a very unusual tour company, which is owned by a charming young man named Raj. Although Raj's official job is to show off the historical landmarks of Agra, including the legendary Taj-Mahal, his true mission is to heal the souls of his broken "birds," as he affectionately refers to his tour participants. His business operates purely upon word-of-mouth referrals, ensuring that all of his tour members arrive in Agra with their hearts in their hands, ready for the spiritual growth and cleansing that Raj is known to provide. Healing the hearts of the spiritually damaged can be a difficult job, and in this particular tale, Raj finds himself faced with his most challenging tour group yet. First, there is Ira, a stunningly gorgeous but fragile young woman on the brink of suicide. Next, we meet Darci and Lennard, a couple on the verge of divorce. Then there is Carl, an irritable, antisocial workaholic who has burned all of his bridges. Lastly, we meet Asha, an elderly widow who still yearns for the company and comfort of her late husband. When disaster strikes the tour group, everything is thrown into jeopardy, including lives, relationships, and Raj's very reputation as a tour guide. Raj must find a way to lift the spirits of these five special travelers, even in the face of death and despair. Venture into the unknown and discover how Raj Touristry heals the brokenhearted, one soul at a time.

Excerpt
Dawn had risen over the historic Indian town of Agra. Agra was a city of monuments, which stood tall, their unmatched grandeur telling of their long and fascinating history. The morning air was filled with the sounds of roosters calling, birds chirping, and morning prayers and salutations. Dogs and cows were being hustled through the streets and errand boys on bicycles hurried along to their respective chores and deliveries.

Amidst this vibrant chaos, a man in his late thirties with an athletic physique, broad shoulders, and unkempt black hair was briefing his colleague in a quiet, affable tone. He held a bunch of papers in his hand, and the other man nodded obediently as he glanced through them, making notes on the pad in his hands. “So, are you all set?” inquired Raj, the black-haired man.

“I think so,” replied the other man confidently, as he took his seat behind the wheel of a mini-bus.

“Call me if you have any questions, Albert. You know where to reach me,” added Raj as he shut the door of the driver’s seat, giving his driver two thumbs up. Albert started the engine quickly and began to roll away from the curb. He was abruptly halted by a sharp knock on the door of the vehicle. The driver slammed on the brakes and looked to see who was doing the hammering. Raj reappeared on the other side of the glass with blank boards and a sharpie. Albert opened the door and reached out for the additional items. “Write the names of my birds on these planks. It will be easier for them to spot you,” explained Raj.

“Birds?” inquired Albert with a confused expression.

“Sure, Birds. Since they will fly back to where they are coming from in a week’s time.”


“Aha! Yes, boss!” Albert winked and started his journey.

About The Author 

A Reiki Master where she passes out information about channeling universal energy and conducts sessions. The author of “Choices”, “The Adventures of Alex and Angelo” but just another soul trying to make a difference in this lifetime.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

GUEST POST on SOUL WARRIOR by author Falguni Kothari









Author Falguni Kothari has very kindly agreed to return to my blog with a guest post on her latest release SOUL WARRIOR. The guest post is inspired by one question which I ask almost every author who appears here.




Maria: What inspired you to write this novel? Over to you, Falguni!


Falguni: I am a natural born myth geek. Give me a bunch of squabbling demi-gods with sinister agendas, herculean heroes on impossible quests, and a magic-infused bejeweled weapon or two and I’m in mythic heaven. The concept of Soul Warrior grew from that obsession, and this burning question: what if we take away the metaphor from mythology?
What makes a hero? What is magic? What if Gods literally walk among us? What if Heaven and Hell and every realm in between exists? And what if India’s magical, ancient past isn’t its past at all?
Soul Warrior is an urban fantasy novel based in the cultural myths of India. It’s the first book in the Age of Kali series, and its protagonists are Karna and Draupadi, two central characters from the ancient Indian epic, the Mahabharata. The geek in me couldn’t resist tinkering with that data and just had to pen “Marvel’s Thor with an epic Indian star cast, and a dash of Bollywood drama.”

Cultural mythology, quite possibly, is the first ever offering of speculative fiction. For Soul Warrior, or even my contemporary romance novels, I had to look no further than my dusty Amar Chitra Kathas (Indian comic books) for story ideas. Amar Chitra Katha literally translates to “eternal picture tales” and they draw material from the vast and ancient mythos of India. India also claims the honor of penning the oldest and longest epics in the world—the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
Ramayana tells the story of the archetypical hero, Ram, the ideal man, who rescues his wife, Sita, from an evil demon named Ravana with the help of an army of monkeys, only to abandon her soon after to please his human subjects. The Mahabharata is a grander epic where generations of disagreements between two warring factions culminate in an apocalyptic war that wipes out most of humanity.While heavy in philosophy and the ideal way of life, both epics describe in some detail flying vehicles (vimana), nuclear-type weapons (divya astra), voice-activated (mantra) weapons, and what happens when they are deployed. They also portray the existence and purpose of supernatural beings, magic, extra-terrestrial worlds—in other words, all kinds of SFF goodies. So really, with such a fantastic playing field, writing mythic fantasy was a no-brainer for geeky me.
If I may exaggerate, most Indians begin to hear the classic versions of the epics from when they’re in their mother’s womb. It’s part of our DNA. Ever gratefully, I have taken at will what I wanted from India’s handy mythology, and hopefully have managed to twist and fit the ancient stories into my modern workwith delicate precision without compromising their integrity, or making them unrecognizable to their familiars.

To readers who are not familiar with Indian myths, put on your seatbelts and get onboard for the adventure ride that is Soul Warrior (the Age of Kali, #1).

Thanks for reading.

~ Falguni.

Soul Warrior: Age of Kali 
by 
Falguni Kothari



Fight fate, or succumb to destiny? 

In the dark Age of Kali, the Soul Warrior alone stands guard over the Human Realm, protecting its denizens from evil-willed asuras or demons. When a trick of fate appoints him guru to a motley crew of godlings, he agrees to train them as demon hunters against his better judgment. Suddenly, Lord Karna is not only battling the usual asuras with sinister agendas, but also rebellious students and a fault-ridden past. 

Spanning the cosmic realms of mythic India, here is a tale of a band of supernatural warriors who come together over a singular purpose: the salvation of Karna’s secret child. 

SEE THE PREVIOUS POST FOR MORE INFORMATION ON FALGUNI KOTHARI AND HER NEW RELEASE, SOUL WARRIOR BOOK ONE, THE AGE OF KALI

Friday, January 29, 2016

New Release: Spotlight on SOUL WARRIOR by Falguni Kothari


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Soul Warrior: Age of Kali 

by 
Falguni Kothari

Blurb

Fight fate, or succumb to destiny? 
In the dark Age of Kali, the Soul Warrior alone stands guard over the Human Realm, protecting its denizens from evil-willed asuras or demons. When a trick of fate appoints him guru to a motley crew of godlings, he agrees to train them as demon hunters against his better judgment. Suddenly, Lord Karna is not only battling the usual asuras with sinister agendas, but also rebellious students and a fault-ridden past. 

Spanning the cosmic realms of mythic India, here is a tale of a band of supernatural warriors who come together over a singular purpose: the salvation of Karna’s secret child. 

Buy @

Kuru Kshetra Battlefield. 

Day 17 of the Great Kuru War, seven thousand five hundred years ago.

Death is hot. 

That surprises me. I’d imagined death as cold and brutal. Merciless. But in truth, death is hot as blood, and constant like a heartbeat. 

Thrum. Thrum. Thrum. My lifeblood ebbs to the rhythm. My head ripped from its torso by Anjalika, the arrow of death that burns even now with the energy of the sun. Struck from behind like some novice. Felled in battle by that lily-livered usurper the Heavens smile upon—Prince Arjun. Brother Arjun. 

What have I done? I harness the thought. Cease all reflection and wrench free of my mortal body. I soar up, up into the gloaming, snapping the ties that tether me to life. Dead, I have no use for ties. 

“A matter of perspective, Karna, O son of my godsire.” The unearthly words strum through the air, and I quiver like a plucked bowstring, overcome as much by the voice as its blasphemous claim. “Bonds of devotion nourish the soul, brother.” 

There is that word again. Brother. Unpleasant laughter wells up in me. Alive, I am abandoned, denied my birthright—Celestial or royal. Death, it seems, changes everything. 

A bright, nebulous light brings forth Lord Yama, the God of Death, atop his divine mount. His elephantine thighs ripple beneath a silken dhoti, ochre and crimson of color, as he guides the mammoth water buffalo to a halt. An iron medallion sways against the God’s powerful cerulean torso, its center stone an ethereal blood orange. 

Hypnotic. Pulsing with life. I am drawn to the stone. 

“Piteous waste,” Lord Yama mutters, surveying the carnage of war far below us. 

I trace the trajectory of his gaze and behold the battered remains of my army drenched in the evidence of its mortality. Is it true? Have we died in vain? 

Words form inside me and I will them out. “Shall we go, my lord?”

 “Ha! Impatient to be judged, are you? Anxious to have your fate revealed?” asks the Judge of the Hell Realm. His red-black eyes burn with intelligence and compassion in a blue-tinged face that is long and lean and hard. “Rest easy, brother-warrior. You are not bound for the Great Courtroom.” 

Not bound for Hell? Where then? Fear has eluded me for so long that I take a moment to recognize it. A hollow-bellied feeling it is, as annoying as a bone stuck in my throat. 

“My lord, I have done bad deeds…terrible deeds in my life. I have waged wars, this horrendous bloodshed, and all because my pride could not—would not abide rejection. I have sinned. I must atone for my actions.”

Lord Yama smiles in a way I do not like. “You have redeemed yourself admirably, Karna. You forfeited your life for the greater good today. The deed far outweighs any misguided ones. Be at peace, brother, and enjoy the fruits of your karma.” 

There is but one place to enjoy such fruits—the Higher Worlds. 

I’d rather burn in Hell for eternity. I say so. “I won’t live amongst the Celestials.” Coexisting with the very souls who’ve spurned me is unthinkable. Watching her—for she would surely reside in Heaven soon—will be eternal torture. 

Yama shakes his head, the horns on his crown slashing to and fro. “I thought you might say that. Relax. Your destiny lies elsewhere.”

 “Am I to be reborn then? Am I to begin a new life, and forget the past?” Pain, sharp as a blade, lances through me at the thought. Forget my past? My family? Even her? Was that my punishment? To forget all that made me human? It must be so. For have I not betrayed them as surely as I’ve betrayed my prince regent? 

“Human rebirth is not your destiny, either. You are chosen, brother. Your war skills are needed for a higher purpose.” The God slips off his mount, his garments rustling in agitation. “This unjust war has pushed the Cosmos to the vortex of a cataclysm. Tomorrow, the Kuru War will end. Fearing its outcome, the Celestials rolled the Die of Fate and have unwittingly bestowed on Demon Kali untold powers.” Lord Yama bares his fangs in disgust at the foolish gamble. “Imagine the havoc that asura and his minions will wreak on the weak if left unchecked. The Human Realm must be safeguarded during Kali’s dark reign.”

 I can imagine the horror only too well as I have battled with evil all my life. But I am done with wars. I am done with defeat. I won’t waste another lifetime fighting. 

“With due respect, my lord, I am not the man for this task.”

 “You are not a man at all,” Yama thunders, fists shaking. “You are the son of Surya, the Sun God. Accept that you are no ordinary soul.”

 I say nothing. I think nothing. I feel something but I squash it down. 

Lord Yama’s thick black brows draw together. “Demon Kali will try to pervade every particle of good that exists in the Cosmos, beginning with the corruptible Human Realm. Once he obliterates all of humanity, he’ll set his sights on the Celestials. Kali will not stop until he’s destroyed our way of life. But you can stop him. You are light to his darkness. Do you understand now why you had to betray him? Your beloved humans need you, Karna. I need you. Our father believes in you. Claim your rightful place in the Cosmos.”

 Impatiently, Lord Yama removes the iron medallion from his neck and holds it out. The vermillion sunstone glows as if its soul is on fire. Nay! It is my soul that is on fire. 
Indescribable energy curls through me. I gasp, though not in pain. I shudder and feel myself grow large, grow hot. Was this rebirth? 

I am strong, full-bodied and lethal once more. Then I roar as light bursts forth from my very core and I throb with glorious, blinding power. When I come to myself, my world has changed again. Bubbles of color shimmer all around me: cobalt and saffron, azure and rose. By karma! They are souls. Infinite floating souls.

“Behold the spectrum of life: the worthy, the notorious, the righteous and the sinners.” The God of Death’s soul was a worthy sapphire blue with a tinge of silver. “Your duty, should you choose to accept the office of the Soul Warrior, is to hunt down the red-souled asuras and crush them. Whatever you decide, I wish you a long and successful Celestial existence, Karna,” Yama booms out and vanishes into the purpling sky.

The parley has stunned me. The world of color holds me in thrall. I was dead. Yet, now I am not. A new path lies before me. Unwanted, unwelcome, I insist on principle. I close my eyes. Open them to stare at the medallion cupped in my hand—a golden-hued hand at once familiar and not—and know myself for a fool. I do want this. It’s what I am. 

Bastard-born. Rebel. Son. Husband. Father. Warlord. And protector. I fist the talisman, buoyed by its concrete warmth. This is who I am. 

I am the Soul Warrior.

About the Author  
Falguni Kothari is a New York-based hybrid author, and an amateur Latin and Ballroom dance silver medalist with a semi-professional background in Indian Classical dance. She writes in a variety of genres sewn together by the colorful and cultural threads of her South Asian heritage and expat experiences. She is published in India in contemporary fiction with global e-book availability, and launches her mythic fantasy series, the Age of Kali, with SOUL WARRIOR. When not writing, dancing or being a domestic goddess, she fools around on all manner of social media, and loves to connect with readers.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

VENGEANCE - A STING IN EVERY TALE edited by Sonia Rao


Designed by Neil D'Silva 

Vengeance -A Sting in Every Tale 
A WRIMO INDIA anthology
Edited by
Sonia Rao 
Disclaimer : Every Cent from this novel goes to Wrimo India to encourage all future aspiring writers. 
Designed by Sujata Patnaik 

Blurb 
A reply to a perceived injustice can take many forms one of which is vengeance. An eye for an eye can only end up making the whole world blind, is what Mahatma Gandhi once said. And it seems to be coming quite true, if latest events world-wide are an indication.

Is there any hope or are we hurtling towards extinction?

Hopefully, the stories will explore some of these questions. But that is on the macro level. It might be easy to look at things objectively, in black and white, when it is other nations involved. Or even other people. We are able to be more forgiving of transgressions when they don’t involve us personally.

But how would one react if they found themselves in the maelstrom of situations that do fall somewhere in the grey area of life? With no definite black and white answers?

How would a jilted lover react in face of infidelity? Or how would a friend avenge the murder of her best friend? Or, is it fair to be punished for a crime that you were not brave enough to prevent?

These and many more questions connected to vengeance have been grappled with in this anthology.

video
created by Archana Sarat 
EXCERPT OF FIRST CHAPTER

Bus number 131 whirred away, pulling its own weight unwillingly. It was one of the many buses to pass through the Relief road, a busy road in the old part of Ahmedabad. Shazia had an option, the crowed 88 or the overcrowded 131. She preferred to be 30 minutes before time to board 131. Her choice was motivated by her love for the palindromic 1-3-1. Her undying infatuation with prime numbers was inexplicable. Nineteen year old Shazia loved numbers, and to be more precise, she adored Mathematics in all its form. She also loved the rules, the principles, the working theorems, the equations which tried to make sense of the majestic menagerie of numbers. She was fascinated even by the mere shape of numbers. She did not remember when or even how her romance with Maths began. But in her earliest memories, she preferred practicing her numbers over the alphabet, she remembered that she recited tables better than her nursery rhymes. She was short and a bit stocky. Also, a couple of shades darker than was acceptable in the marriage market. However, her looks never bothered her, nor did she ever yearn for fairer skin, or thinner body. What she craved was a disheveled mass of hair, for some uncanny resemblance to Einstein, the only pop icon modern science managed to have produced. But her mother plaited her hair, dashing her hopes to ground. She also longed for a pair of spectacles with glasses so thick that it blurred her eyeballs, indicating the wearer’s brilliance. But she, despite getting checked for vision from her mother’s ophthalmologist, was denied the hallowed implement. Thrice. Shazia valued her bus ride a lot. She had to convince Papa to allow her to commute to her college on her own. She had concealed her indignation about needing her father's permission for every little trifle, even after being categorised as an adult by the Government of India. Papa consented only after he was told that Noor too would start using the bus if Shazia were to give her company.


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ABOUT THE EDITOR SONIA RAO




The editor of the Anthology, Sonia Rao (writer-editor-awardwinningblogger) is the NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison for All-India region. The stories which are part of the anthology are written by Wrimos homed in to Asia::India region. Most of them are also published writers of short fiction and novels.She blogs @ https://soniaraowrites.wordpress.com/ 

Find out more about Wrimo India @
Wrimo India on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/wrimosindia 
NaNoWriMo:  http://nanowrimo.org/

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Monday, January 18, 2016

THE BROWN SAHEBS by Anupam Srivastava



THE BROWN SAHEBS 
BY 
ANUPAM SRIVASTAVA
Blurb 
The Raja of Teekra, a dusty and forgotten kingdom near Lucknow, gets lucky when the British Resident visits him but also brings with him a leading revolutionary. The Raja enters India's struggle for freedom and is rewarded with a berth in the cabinet of free India. He is shocked to see the ministers and officers living and operating like their imperial masters but is suitably rewarded for his silence. As he begins to enjoy the good life of Lutyens' Delhi, the British capital which India's freedom fighters abhorred, he faces only one adversary in his plans—his journalist son Pratap. A novel that will blow you away with its depiction of love, passion, intrigue and betrayal.

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About the Author 

Anupam Srivastava was born in Lucknow, India, where his novel, The Brown Saheb's first part is set. However, he never lived there as his father and mother, Ashok and Veena Srivastava, lived in different parts of India. However, Anupam spent some of his childhood and most of his vacations in Lucknow where he flew kites and learnt about the craft of pigeon-flying. He went to a boarding school near Delhi, the Motilal Nehru School of Sports, Rai, where he played cricket but earned his college colours at St Stephen's College, Delhi, in cross-country running. He studied English literature (BA Hons and MA), won the college annual poetry prize while pursuing his MA, and being sure his vocation was writing and journalism, became a journalist with The Times of India in 1993. In 1999, he was awarded the British Chevening scholarship by the British government.

In 1999, he left journalism to work with the United Nations Population Fund in India in communications. Subsequently, Anupam worked with Oxfam India Society, Unicef and other development agencies. The Brown Sahebs is his first novel and tells the story of India not taking off its colonial clothing even as it became a democracy.

Anupam is married to Radhika Srivastava, and they have two children who figure in his children's novel, A Family Secret.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

NEW YEAR AT THE BOSS'S BIDDING - New Romance Release from RACHAEL THOMAS

Today, MBB welcomes author Rachael Thomas, who writes thrilling romances for Harlequin. She has a timely release for January, NEW YEAR AT THE BOSS'S BIDDING. She very kindly agreed to visit my blog and answer my usual questions in her own unique and inimitable way.












Connect with Rachael Thomas on the web:

Website         Blog        Facebook                Twitter              Goodreads


Can you share a short bio?
I’ve always loved reading romance and writing is something I’ve done since I was a child. I live and work on a farm in Wales, a far cry from the glamour of my stories, but that makes slipping into the world of my characters all the more appealing. When I’m not writing or working on the farm, I love nothing more than to visit grand historic house or ancient castles.                                                                   
What inspires your writing?
I’m inspired by human emotions and like nothing better than exploring the rollercoaster
ride of falling in love.

What made you press on with this writing project when things were difficult?  Because they must have been, sometimes.
I love writing and can’t imagine doing anything else. As to what keeps me going when things have been difficult, I’m not sure. It could be determination, perseverance or just stubbornness, but I refused to give up on myself or my dream.

Please sum up your plot in a tweet-sized sentence.
Snowbound on New Year’s Eve together, Tilly and Xavier are unable to ignore the attraction between them, despite their past experiences.

Future plans?
I have just submitted my latest book to my editor and I now have two linked stories to work on and my next book will be out in May 2016.

New Year at the Boss’s Bidding
Moretti's by midnight 

Jilted bride Tilly Rogers hopes her luck is changing when she's offered a prestigious catering contract for billionaire businessman Xavier Moretti's New Year's Eve party. But then she ends up snowbound alone with her boss…and at his bidding! 

It's the end of the year and the end of Tilly's contract, which leaves Xavier free to seduce her at his will. Hardly shy of a challenge, this notorious playboy makes it his resolution to have virgin Tilly crumbling by his experienced touch. 

Before the snow settles, Xavier is determined to have Tilly under a brand-new set of tantalizing terms!

Read an Excerpt


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Monday, January 4, 2016

RUKHSAT - NEW RELEASE FROM SUJIT BANERJEE



RUKHSAT THE DEPARTURE 
BY 
SUJIT BANERJEE
Blurb 
Where a story stops, another one begins. The thing with them is, they never walk alone. They always walk with a group of friends. Each reaches its own climax. Then with a final gasp of mortality and despair, fade away. No, they never die, they multiply. To the extent that the original gets lost and new ones are born. Over and over again. Yes, they get lost. No, they never die. They live on, permanently etched in the book of time. And from there, we borrow them and bring them alive. Again. And again. Here are twenty six of them, some standing alone and some chatting up with their long lost friends. When they depart, they leave a lingering fragrance of nostalgia and curiosity. What happened then?

Twenty-six alphabets, twenty-six names, and twenty-six short stories. Each exploring one unique emotion, taking you into the dark recess of the mind. Some frothy and most of them dark. Most standing alone and some facing a mirror, where the same story comes alive in two different ways, through two different protagonist . Meet myriad characters - from the single-minded prostitute to the man on the railways station bereft of any memory; a woman desperate for a biological child to a dead man's trial. Meet a jealous lover with a twisted brain and a gay man's memory of a one-night encounter. Meet twenty-six such characters arrested and sentenced for life inside the pages of a book. Each one leaving an indelible mark on your soul.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Born to Bengali parents in Lucknow, I grew up in Patna where I finished my post-graduation in Psychology and ended up becoming a tour operator instead of a Psychologist! Which was 
good since a Bengali born in UP and reared in Bihar does not make a great Psychologist! Am I now glad to be in tourism? It has taken me all over the world including places you would have never heard of. Eh? How about Tlacotalpan? It’s in Mexico.

Destiny had other plans as well so I became a reluctant healer. A crazy Shaman in Mexico set the ball rolling and it has rolled all the way to Delhi. Today I both heal as well as read Tarot cards. My wife thinks I am mad. My friends think I am weird. I guess I am both. 

My first story was published in a magazine when I was seventeen. The Editor made such a hash of it that I stopped sending out my stories but I continued writing. Then I broke my heart and started writing poems; first in Hindi and then in English. All personal collection. They still remain personal. I do shudder when I read some of them! Then the short stories came back and written over two years - now is a collection.

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