Revealing #AuthorChatter!!!

SURPRISE!!!

#AuthorChatter

We are hosting #AuthorChatter!!

What is #AuthorChatter?

#AuthorChatter is a virtual tête-à-tête in an effort to know you and your recently published ebook.

#AuthorChatter is a joint effort by Ashwini, Priya and Yours Truly!!

Ashwini’s Blog: http://ashwinisperceptions.com/

Priya’s Blog: https://priyreflects.com/

We will send across around 10 curated questions about your new book as well as your journey as an author.

Why should you sign up for #AuthorChatter?

It’s a valid question. Months after publishing your book and breaking your head over all the marketing strategies that you came across, you had thought it was all behind you. But we believe selling a book is a tough nut. Your book might be the best read out there, but how do you let your readers know. Arrives #AuthorChatter.

#AuthorChatter is a humble attempt on our side to spread the word about your book across the blogosphere. After all, every bit counts.

And, for select interviews that blow our mind away, we have exciting and customized prizes in store sponsored by @AadhyamICS a Web, Digital and Graphics Design Agency in Mumbai providing high-quality, cost-effective and personalized services.

Follow @AadhyamICS and us – @priyreflects, @Ashwini_Menon and @anshuwrites on Twitter to earn some brownie points.

What you need to do?

Write to us on authorchatter@gmail.com requesting for the questionnaire by 11th July. Just say ‘Hi. We would like to participate in the #AuthorChatter activity.’ The questionnaire contains questions (not more than 10) about your book and your writing journey. Answer them as briefly and as interestingly as possible. Send it to us by 17th July.

Now, sit back and relax. NO! Not yet!

We request you to read, share and comment on the interviews of other authors as well using the hashtag #AuthorChatter. Time to share some love in the #BlogChatter community!!! After all giving and taking go hand in hand, our teachers taught us!!

We are excited!!! Are you???

Then write to us at authorchatter@gmail.com

Don’t forget the dates :

Request for the questionnaire by 11th July.

Send the questionnaire duly filled by 17th July.

 

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Hotel Night Magic

Short Story. Flash Fiction. Photo Prompt. Fiction. Paranormal. Horror.

Hotel Night Magic – Open 24 Hours

She had been driving for five hours straight, without a single break. But she was tired now. Maybe she should call it a night and look for a hotel. After half an hour, she came across a big lighted sign which read

Hotel Night Magic

Open 24 hours

After a few turns, she came to a square in a small town. She saw the hotel. The lights were on. She breathed a sigh of relief. As she was about to enter the glass door of the hotel, someone grabbed her hand. Lily jumped with fright. It was an old beggar.

“Don’t go inside. It’s a crazy place.”

Lily took a close look at the shabbily dressed woman. She was reeking of cheap alcohol.

“Leave me alone.” Lily tried to free her hand of the beggar’s clutch.

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” The next moment she disappeared in the darkness of the nearby alley.

Shaking her head, Lily stepped inside into the brightly lit reception area of the hotel. There was no one at the front desk. She pressed the bell. After what seemed like an eternity, a man in his early fifties appeared.

“Hello Mam. I am Ranjan. How can I help you?”

“I want a room for one night.”

“Sure mam.” Lily paid in cash.

“Is your luggage in the car mam.”

“No. It was a day trip that got extended.” She lied.

“This is your room key, mam. 333, third floor, third room on the right. We don’t have an elevator. The staircase is to your left.”

The bed was comfortable but sleep still eluded her. She couldn’t get the image of her drunk husband running after her with the copper statue ready to hit her out of her mind. Luckily, she escaped. Slowly the exhaustion took over and Lily drifted off to a dreamless sleep.

A couple of hours later, Lily woke up to very loud music. It was as if huge drums were beating mercilessly.

What is this madness in the middle of the night! She got up to dial the reception but saw there was no intercom. Putting on the clothes, she went down. But, the concierge wasn’t there. She went to his quarter and knocked at the door. But, no one answered. She opened the door. The room was empty.

She went to the first floor and banged on the bedroom doors. She went to the second floor and knocked on the doors. She got no reply. She opened the rooms one by one. Each one of them was unlived in.

She was the only person in this hotel.

The realisation dawned on her. She was scared. She ran down the stairs and out of the hotel. She knocked on the houses beside the square. There was no one.

Hysterical she sat in her car and started driving. She turned right, but a few minutes later, she realised she had come upon the same square before the hotel. She must have taken the wrong turn. This time she took a left. But again she came to the hotel.

What was happening? Was there a way out of this damn place?

Someone knocked at the window. She woke up with a startled cry. The beggar from the previous night was peering through the window.

This woman will be the cause of my death. She thought.

The bright morning sun blinded her. The square was bustling with activity. Magpies were chirping. Children were going to school. People were headed towards work.

Getting out of the car, she asked the woman, “What did you tell me last night?”

The woman looked confused. “Me? I have never met you before. Are you drunk?”

Fat calling me drunk. Lily cursed silently.

She looked at the hotel. She had to find out. The concierge was standing at the front desk.

“Hello Mam. I am Ranjan. How can I help you?” He didn’t recognize her.

“I am a guest here. My room is 333.”

“That’s impossible, mam. We have only two floors. There is no room 333.” The concierge smiled.

“Are you pulling my leg? Yesterday night I slept in that room. I can show you.”

They went up the stairs and came to the third floor. But he was right, there was no third floor. Only a big terrace. Lily was speechless.

Was she hallucinating? Did she dream it all?

Lily raced down the stairs as fast as her legs could take her. Starting her car, she zoomed off the cursed square. Within minutes she reached the national highway. She vowed to never drive in the night again.

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I am participating in the Write Tribe Festival of Words – June 2018

Write Tribe Festival, Short Fiction, Flash fiction

Write Tribe Writing Festival

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The Other World

Short story, Photo prompt, fiction, fiction writing, children stories, fantasy

Write Tribe Fiction Festival – Photo Prompt

Rhea took Pixie for a gallop in the woods. Far away from her house by the lake and her parents who fought all the time, when there was a reason and when there wasn’t. She had had enough of their bickering. Very soon she would go to a boarding school.

Rhea realised that she had reached a part of the woods that she had never been before. There was a clearing in the middle of the forest with a big patch of thick green grass. Getting off Pixie, she tied her saddle to the nail on a tree. The grass and the warm sunshine beckoned Rhea to lie down and very soon she went off to sleep. When she woke up Pixie was nowhere to be found.

Where had Pixie gone? An agitated Rhea pulled at the nail on the tree. Suddenly there was a loud noise and the tree started splitting from the middle. Rhea immediately stepped back. There appeared a large blue door in the middle of the tree. Excitedly Rhea pushed the door and stepped on the other side.

There was a stream of fresh water gurgling over the stones. Cattle were grazing on the mountain slope. At a distance, she could see kids playing. She walked towards them. It was a huge square with park at one corner. Kids were playing in the park while adults were having their lunch in the sunshine.

Rhea’s tummy gave an angry growl. She realised she had left her lunch untouched on the table as her parents had started arguing.

An old lady with a crown of grey hair and a face full of wrinkles looked at Rhea and offered her a sandwich.

Rhea shook her head. She had been told not to take food from strangers.

“We are nice people. We are not mean to our kids.” The old lady said. Rhea felt like trusting her and took the sandwich.

“Come sit. You seem to have come over from the human world.” The lady commented.

“Human world? Why what is this place? Where I am?”

“This is the other world. There are nails on trees strategically placed in different parts of the world. The nail acts as a lever that opens up the door to this world. Only people with pure heart who are miserable in the human world can find this nail.”

No wonder that nail looked suspiciously odd on a tree in a forest. Rhea thought.

“What is this other world?” Rhea couldn’t contain her curiosity.

“It’s a happy place. Here, we do not fight. There is no greed. We grow our own food and share the surplus with our neighbours. There is no poor, there is no rich. Every one is equal. And also, there is no money.”

Rhea had never experienced poverty herself but she knew it was not a nice thing. Also, by now, she knew that having lots of money didn’t necessarily make a person happy. Her parents were good examples of that theory.

“We do not have TV, computers and phones. Here, people hold real conversations and parents spend time with their children, take them on picnics, go for treks and camping.”

“Wow!” This seemed like a very nice place. Why couldn’t they have something similar in the human world? She wondered.

“Young girl, I think you should leave now. The sun is about to set. Once it does, you will never be able to leave this place.”

Rhea stood up and planted a soft kiss on the elderly lady’s cheeks which felt like crepe paper but smelled of love, purity and wisdom.

She then turned towards the way she had come. On the way, she saw a lone horse grazing at the grass. That was her Pixie. Taking hold of her reins, she started walking towards the blue door. The door opened.

As Rhea was about to step over, she hesitated. And the next moment the door closed with a finality. The sun had set. And for once, Rhea was happy. But where was she?

Where do you think Rhea chose to be?

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I am participating in the Write Tribe Festival of Words – June 2018

Write Tribe Festival, Short Fiction, Flash fiction

Write Tribe Writing Festival

Posted in Fiction Corner | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 47 Comments

The Sacrifice

Short story, fiction writing, photo prompt, flash fiction, the sacrifice, the staircase

The Sacrifice – Flash Fiction

She started packing her clothes. She was generally a neat person, but today she was throwing clothes haphazardly in her trunk. Leaving her red bridal saree behind, she picked up the trunk in one hand and left the room.

He came out of his trance when he realised he was all alone in the bedroom. He ran after her and caught up with her as she was climbing down the giant staircase.

“Hear me out, Damayanti.” He told her politely.

If he had shouted, she would have not paid heed. But his soft voice broken with despair made her stop.

She put the trunk down and sat on the step. He too sat beside her.

“Haven’t you said enough? Now, you hear me out.” Damayanti croaked. Damayanti’s cheeks were wet with tears. As soon as she wiped them, fresh hot ones came gushing out of her eyes.

“Do you realise what you have done? Just because you were not strong enough to stand up to your father, you have spoilt my life. I could have married Kedar, the love of my life. But, your father came to my home seeking my hand in marriage. He offered a sum that my poor baba couldn’t refuse. He even promised baba that he would give back my father’s land without charging interest. Baba didn’t think twice before saying yes. No one asked me what I wanted? And now this?”

“Why did you marry me?” She shouted at him.

“Shshsh….! Speak softly, Damayanti. People will wake up.”

“As if I care. Let them all know the truth. Let them know that the favourite son of the house is not interested in women, but men.” She said again in a loud pitch.

“Damayanti, I beg of you. Please talk softly. What do you think will happen if you leave me? Have you thought it through? My father will send his goons to your house – no one in your family will see tomorrow’s sunrise. That’s what you want? As for me, he will get me married again to another girl whose poor father will agree to marry his daughter against money and land.” Roshan laid out the terms matter-of-factly.

Fresh bout of tears flowed down Damayanti’s cheeks. Her mehendi hadn’t even faded while her marriage had already ended. She realised what Roshan was saying was true. She couldn’t do this to her poor parents and her siblings. Her life was done for.

“All you have to do is bear me a couple of sons. I know it won’t be easy but you will have a comfortable life here, I promise you.”

She nodded.

“Do you think it’s easy for me? Like you, I love someone too. But if they come to know that I love a man, both he and I will be hanged on the banyan tree at the village square, do you understand?”

For the first time, Damayanti felt the anguish in his voice. Like her, he was suffering too. She had always thought that it was a sin to be born poor. But now she realised it was a sin to be born different too.

“Maybe in the next birth we can both be free of our sins.”

“Maybe we won’t have to wait until then for the winds to change.” There was hope in his voice.

Damayanti put her head on Roshan’s shoulder. Sitting on the staircase, they both dreamed of a different world.

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I am participating in the Write Tribe Festival of Words – June 2018

Write Tribe Festival, Short Fiction, Flash fiction

Write Tribe Writing Festival

Posted in Fiction Corner | Tagged , , , , , , | 42 Comments

Hidden Rings

Fiction short story carnival

Do they meet after 10 years?

Reuben and Sarah were best friends since they were 5 years old. They were neighbours, classmates and went to the school in the same bus. When they grew up and wanted to explore sex, they slept together. It was the most natural thing to do. So, it was only natural that when they turned 21 years old, their parents talked to them about marriage.

“But I don’t want to get married. I want to get out of this hell hole and explore the world. I want to do something great and not tied down with a wife and kids.” Reuben told Sarah.

Sarah nodded. “I have never known any other boy except you, Reuben. Even I don’t want to be tied down to the person with whom I have grown up. I want to meet other boys, flirt with them, break their hearts, cry in love and then may be settle down with a fine young man.”

“So, it’s decided. We are not getting married.” Sarah agreed.

Three months later, Reuben was flying out of India. The morning before Reuben was leaving, he called Sarah to meet him at their usual haunt – on the beach behind the rock. Reuben showed Sarah two gold rings with their names engraved.

“Sarah, no one knows us better than each other. We also complement each other well. Let’s meet here 10 years from today. If by that time, we are both unengaged and want to get married to each other, we will dig up these rings. However, even if one of us is unwilling, we will leave the matter unspoken and meet again after 10 years.”

They dug up a hole under the giant rock and hid the rings. The two friends hugged each other for a long time.

Ten years later, they met at the beach behind the same rock.

Reuben was a photojournalist and was traveling from one country to another and scaling one mountain after another. He was living his dream. Sarah was a homing bird. In all these years, she didn’t leave Goa even for a day. However, her husband had left her recently.

Reuben hugged a distraught Sarah. The rings stayed there, forgotten under the sand.

The sands of time continued to fall. Ten years later, Sarah reached the venue earlier. She dug up the rings and hid them in her pockets. She was looking forward to meeting Reuben and had been counting months, weeks and days.

At 41, he was a good-looking man. Save for a few grey hair at the temples, age had more or less left him untouched. He had also become hugely popular. His heart-wrenching photo-story of the Soviet-Afghan war had earned him many accolades.

“How are you, Sarah?” Reuben asked, his concern genuine which made Sarah feel warm to her bones.

“Better now after having seen you. You are going places, mister!” Sarah teased him.

“You don’t have any idea, Sarah. It’s the most exciting time of my life. My work’s getting appreciated from all corners of the world. Every week I am in a new country. Girls are literally throwing themselves at my feet.”

“So, what are the plans for the future?” Sarah asked. She wasn’t so confident anymore.

“The same as usual. Visit more places, capture more images and tell more stories.” Reuben was too much concentrated on himself to see Sarah’s smile falter and her eyes welled up.

“Sarah, you should marry again. Let bygones be bygones. You deserve to be happy,” were Reuben’s last words before he left.

Sarah put the rings back in their rightful place and left the beach all alone. Thankfully, no one could see her crying in the dark.

It was 1st May. Thirty years ago, they had made the promise to meet each other at the rock, behind the beach. They had not broken their promise once. Today was no exception.

“Sarah, I have come back for good.”

Reuben was amazed at the way Sarah looked. Her face was calm, her actions unhurried and her eyes looked as if they had found inner peace.

“I don’t want to live out of a suitcase anymore. Even after 30 years, I couldn’t build a place I can call home. I have seen the greed and pettiness in men who have more wealth than they need. I have also seen the hunger and misery in kids of war-ravaged countries. I am tired of travelling the world. I have realised that Goa is indeed the best.”

Sarah smiled.

“Sarah, here are our rings, let’s get married. It’s time we lived happy together.” Reuben was holding the gold rings with their names.

“I am afraid that’s not possible, Reuben.”

Reuben was surprised. He knew Sarah was not married. She was not wearing a ring.

“Why?”

“I am leaving the pleasures of the mortal world and embracing the Faith.”

The rings never saw the light of the day again.

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I am participating in the Write Tribe Festival of Words – June 2018

Write Tribe Festival, Short Fiction, Flash fiction

Write Tribe Writing Festival

Posted in Fiction Corner | Tagged , , , , , | 47 Comments

Book Review – Murder in the Palace and Other Stories

Author – Priya U Bajpai is a short story author and poet, with several of her past work

having been published in mainstream newspapers. A literature scholar, Priya loves writing fast-paced and layered tales across genres.

priya.jpg

Book Review of Short Stories

Book – Priya’s book is a collection of short stories which range from murder mysteries, sci-fi, historical fiction, horror to paranormal.

The book starts with a murder mystery ‘Murder in the Palace’ where Detective Anna Roy is called upon to solve the case of the mysterious death of Susanne Smith, a royal heiress. There are various characters like her husband, ex-husband, lover, friend and best friend in the story, and each one of them seem to have a motive to kill Susanne. The mystery is multi-layered. The characters develop with the story and the clues keep you guessing till the end.

Banon’s Conundrum is a sci-fi that talks about the Sun dying and a new star Banon replacing it. I liked the story for two reasons – firstly, the Earth has rejuvenated its natural resources and has reclaimed its old beauty and charm, and secondly for the strong-willed female protagonist Kwakan.

In Blueprint, you actually admire the perfection-seeking Dr. Tanya Jacob and her obsessive love for Fibonacci sequence that makes her stop at nothing. However, a reader is left wondering who is the bigger protagonist here? The scientist or Fibonacci.

Geisha as the title suggests is a story of a geisha, who stands by her principles and gets her heart broken because of it.

Much has been written about one of the darkest periods in the human civilisation, the holocaust, however it is poignant and shameful to read every new one. Priya’s Horrific Holocaust talks about how a girl is not only not able to keep her promise to a Jew friend in the times of Nazi occupation but is also not capable enough to save her from death in the concentration camp. A simple story that makes you feel as helpless as the girl in the story and horrified at the inevitable end of the Jew girl.

I am II is again a sci-fi that raises the worrying question that was first put forward by the movie – I, Robot starring Will Smith where humanoid robots powered by artificial intelligence come together to take over the world. However, Priya’s II is not AI, but a step further. It is Infinite Intelligence which is more intimidating because of the dispassionate manner in which the machine thinks.

The Mysterious Globe and Neil’s Shoe, two of my favourites are not at all what you expect. Quite a twist they have and scary too!

Killer keeps you hooked till the end. Just when you thought you had solved the murder mystery, you find out it wasn’t what it seemed to be.

What I like – Priya’s versatility is commendable. Every story is different and interesting that it makes the reader sit up and think. Priya has good writing style and her characters are well developed. Dr. Tanya Jacob’s sinister character in Blueprint actually sent the shivers up my spine while I sympathised with Neha in Neil’s Shoe. Detective Anna Roy is a tough lady and doesn’t scare easy. I would like it if Priya can develop more stories around her.

What could have been better – Some of Priya’s stories especially The Dazzled, a story of a masseur and a mysterious lady on the metro, are short and less detailed which leaves the reader wanting for more.

This book gets a definite thumbs up from me. There is a bit of everything for every kind of reader, and the best part is it is entertaining to the core.

Download Priya’s book from here.

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The Closure

flash fiction, short story, fiction

The Closure

Joanna parked her shoes on the beach. The sand felt soft and fine beneath her feet. The wind was blowing in her hair. And the sun was pleasantly warm. But, she was not here to appreciate the myriad elements of nature. She had a battle to fight and she needed to win it even when the odds seemed to be against her.

Slowly she entered the clear waters of the sea. The foamy waves were gently caressing her feet inviting her to move deeper. As she moved further into the sea, the sand started shifting from under her feet. The water enveloped her body. She could feel the strength of the water. She felt she was being taken away into the sea, but she planted her feet firmly. She could have swum, but that would have meant she was giving into the mighty sea. She preferred standing so that she could talk like an equal.

It had been ten years since she had visited this beach. Visited any beach. She had vowed to never enter the sea again. But here she was breaking her promise.

Ten years ago, at this beach and in this inviting blue sea waters, she had lost her first born. She was standing on the beach, watching helplessly as the waves took away her daughter. She cried for help, ran here and there, but it wasn’t enough and it wasn’t soon. By the time, they came, there was no trace of her daughter. The currents were too powerful, they said.

“But, there were other kids too swimming in the water. Why didn’t the currents take them? Why only my daughter?” Joanna shouted.

“The sea is unpredictable, madam.” Was all they could say in return.

Three years later, she lost her husband, a captain in the Indian Navy, when his ship collided with an oil tanker in the high seas. The vessels were destroyed and no one saw the men on board again. Without the body, she buried an empty casket. She got one more reason to be furious with the Sea.

She took her only surviving child, her son to a place as far from the sea as possible. She wanted to keep him safe. But the sea seemed to be having the last laugh.

Her son was joining the Merchant Navy and was sailing out on his first high seas assignment in a week’s time. She pleaded with her son to choose a different career line, to leave the seas alone for other men whose mother probably hadn’t lost any child. But her son like his father was adamant.

“The sea is in my blood.” He said.

“You are being unnecessarily paranoid, Joanna. It’s not that the catastrophe will strike again.” Friends and family assured her.

Maybe she was paranoid. But the catastrophe had already struck twice, it could very well strike for a third time. Who would stop it?

So, here she was in the lap of the sea – one mother to another – asking, demanding, requesting, begging to the sea to spare her son.

The sea started retreating. Suddenly the water felt less insistent and restricting. Joanna turned and started walking towards the beach. The salty water dripping from her body.

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I am participating in the Write Tribe Festival of Words – June 2018

Write Tribe Festival, Short Fiction, Flash fiction

Posted in Fiction Corner | Tagged , , , , , , , | 51 Comments