An excerpt from #WhenHariMetHisSaali by @HarshTalkies

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Enjoy an excerpt from “When Hari Met His Saali” by Harsh Warrdhan 

Chapter  1 – ‘Jab They Met’,  page 6 –

‘“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,

it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,

it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,

it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness,

it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,

we had everything before us, we had nothing before us ……’”

This was Dickens. How apt, Tia thought.

The story of her life in six lines.

 

Chapter 1 – ‘Jab They Met’ ~ Page 32~

‘Those sound like a three three-hour-long endurance test. Can’t we watch a Hollywood flick?’ he tried again.

Tia clicked the remote to bring up the menu on her TV screen.

‘You wanna watch P.S. I Love You?’ Tia asked without looking at him … because she knew that he would … convulse.

Hari almost jumped from the couch as if a spider had got under his T-shirt. He was shivering and had sweat beads on his forehead. He was convulsing.

‘No! No! No! Please not P.S. I Love You, anything but P.S. I Love You.’

Hari’s eyes were rolled inside his head. He looked like he was having an anxiety attack. It looked like he would probably need medical assistance if “P.S. I Love You” was mentioned one more time. He was hanging by a thread here.

 Tia rolled her eyes. ‘OK, OK, relax. Don’t be so dramatic. It’s a nice emotional film yaar. It’s a human story. You just don’t have good taste in films. It has Gerald Butler in it, I thought you liked Gerard Butler!’ She was not going to let go so easily.

‘I would watch Gerald Butler running around naked with a sword, like in the film 300 three hundred times before I’ll watch that … that!’ Hari still couldn’t say P.S. I Love You even though he was breathing normally again.

Hari figured he won this round. Hari was usually wrong about such things…

Book yourself A Hilarious Ride Now !

Book available on major platforms including – HQN ,Flipkart, Amazon, Homeshop18 & Infibeam 

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Books Take You Places – as does Bootie & The Beast by @F2tweet #Holidayreading

The Bootie and the Beast novel Travel-scape by Falguni Kothari

 With the impending promise of summer and the thought of lazy and long vacations or short, sweet holidays (whatever floats your boat) I thought I’d take you, Dear Reader, on a journey through the landscapes of my Harlequin Mills & Boon® April release. The story unfolds in Texas, and ends in Saudi Arabia after making a pit stop in Mumbai. Several other cities/countries are mentioned throughout the book as the heroine, DiyaMathur is a supermodel flitting about the globe for fashion shoots and shows and generally having a ball.The staid and happy-to-be-in-one-place hero, KrishMenon, also has a decision to make. Stay in the Dallas-Forth Worth Metroplex or move to…Wisconsin. But that’s enough about Beauty and the Beast and their woes. This blog post is about Travel, so let’s tread a path through the cities in the story.

 

Bootie and the Beast begins at the Dallas Executive Airport, where Krish “the Beast” Menon awaits the arrival of Diya “Beauty” Mathur.

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Dallas.com:Brash, stylish and cosmopolitan, Dallas is a city with a well-earned reputation for fashion, luxury shopping and flashy prosperity. With one of the world’s most impressive collections of 20th Century architecture, its soaring modern skyscrapers and palatial mansions are anything but subtle. Yet Dallas as a city possesses a Southern grace, Texas style. Its districts, from soulful Deep Ellum to eclectic Victory Park, add range and texture to the Dallas urban experience. With world-class performing arts groups, a vibrant culinary culture and the Dallas Cowboys, the city is full of discoveries.

 

What Wikipedia has to say about:The Dallas–Fort Worth–Arlington, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area, the official title designated by the United States Office of Management and Budget, encompasses 12 counties within the U.S. state of Texas. The area is divided into two distinct metropolitan divisions: DallasPlanoIrving and Fort WorthArlington. Residents of the area informally refer to it as the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, DFW, or The Metroplex. It is the economic and cultural hub of the region commonly called North Texas or North Central Texas and is the largest land-locked metropolitan area in the United States.

 

Krish compares Diya’s flamboyant lifestyle to the Cannes Film Festival.

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What Wikipedia says about:Cannes (French pronunciation: [kan], in OccitanCanas) is a city located in the French Riviera. It is a busy tourist destination and host of the annual Cannes Film Festival and Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. It is a commune of France located in the Alpes-Maritimes department.The city is also famous for its luxury shops, restaurants, and hotels.

 

As part of her worldwide publicity tour, Diya has recently schmoozed with Europe’s fashion elite at a garden party in Milan.

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Italylogue.com:Those cobbled medieval streets you have been dreaming about? That’s not really Milan. Neither are the Roman ruins or quiet public squares. Milan remains, however, an important Italian city in both banking and fashion. It also can be said that Milan embodies the Italian notion of la bellafigura – behaving well and looking good doing it – better than any other Italian city. In that sense, it’s absolutely Italian, Medieval cobblestones aside.

Sheherazade’s headquarters are in Istanbul, a city Diya is seriously considering relocating to.

 

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Istanbul.com:Istanbul is among the special cities of the world with its position as a bridge between Europe and Asia.At the south of Istanbul the Marmara Sea, and at the north the Black Sea are situated. The Western part of the city is in Europe, and the Eastern is in Asia. The important watercourse that divides Istanbul is the Bosphorus. As a seaport both the closest Asian city to Europe and the closest European city to Asia, and the passage of all commerce ways from here, increases the importance of Istanbul.

 

Diya will be visiting Dubai and offers to take “Suitable Man” Neil Upadhyay’s niece to lunch there.

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DefinitelyDubai.com: Dubai is one of the few cities in the world that has undergone such a rapid transformation – from a humble beginning as a pearl-diving centre – to one of the fastest growing cities on earth. Dubai today is a tourism, trade and logistics hub and has earned itself the reputation of being the ‘gateway between the east and the west.’ It is also considered as the dynamic nucleus of the Arabian Gulf region.

Last but never least, Mumbai, home-of-their-hearts to both Diya and Krish.

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MapsofIndia.com:Mumbai is the seat of Bollywood cinema, shopping mall, bhelpuri on the beach, red double-decker buses and huge traffic jams. Mumbai is the commercial capital of India.The best time to visit Mumbai is between the months of September and April. The weather is then relatively dry and cool. From June to September there is immense shower, very often with fearsome results. We all know that the floods of 2005 took about a thousand and made thousands more homeless. You should also try to avoid the months just before the monsoon sets in, for then the temperature can be as high as 140°F.

And that’s it for the novel-scape. Hope you’re tempted to visit these places with my characters in the book…or visit these places in actuality at some point…or just visit places.

 

On a personal note, I love to visit different places but most profoundly dislike the process of travelling. If I can do away with car and plane rides, I’ll be a happy traveller.

 

Did you know the term for the fear of flying? Pteromerhanophobia. A mouthful, isn’t it?

 

With love and affection,

Falguni Kothari

 

Romancing Cricket(ers)

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Aarti V Raman
Author-Kingdom Come

Last week was the World Cup T-20 final. For cricket fans and fanatics like me, this was a big moment. It comes once every two years and is always nail-biting, because the shortest brother in the game comes with the most thrills.

Champs, favorites and media darlings India were going to take on old foes Sri Lanka, who had been vanquished a number of times comfortably by them. And everyone, including yours truly, thought this was a no-brainer. India comes, India bats, India wins. I still saw the opening overs, (secretly hoping that underdog Sri Lanka would COME THROUGH) and then wandered off, having to Facebook and Tweet and talk to my pals, my readers.

The score read 42-2, Sri Lanka.

Of course, India wins, I thought to myself.

Five minutes later, my neighborhood erupted with cheers and whistles. Another wicket down, I figured.

The slaughter will end soon.

Imagine my utter surprise, when my dad comes in about an hour later and orders me to come the HELL out now! I go out and see the last three balls. I see Sangakkara punch the air in absolute triumph and vindication. I see the last ball going over the fence and I cheered too. My voice went hoarse! It was worth it.

And then, right then, in the middle of one of his victorious cheers, Kumar Sangakkara, Sri Lankan batting legend and a terminal HOTTIE to boot, looked straight at the camera and said in his liquid Sri Lankan-Brit accent, “We play to win. We don’t just play, if we’re in the final, we forget the semi-final and are in here to win.”

Golden words.Truer words.

And the man who said them, went straight to my heart like Cupid had shot me with an arrow and I realized, HELLO, Hero, here you come!

Cricket, one of my favorite sports (I am an INDIAN, y’all) has always been peppered with such heroes and such moments. Australia’s Adam Gilchrist’s walk-offs, earned him the tag of a Gentleman and made me a lifelong admirer of a man who did the right thing even when he didn’t have to. India’s Sachin Tendulkar’s grace and humility off the field is the stuff true legends are made of. The way WasimAkram, a former Pakistan world-cup winner comes down to this side of the pond and coaches Kolkata Knight Riders, with the same enthusiasm and experience with which he decimates players in commentary is commendable.

These are just a very, VERY few examples why I love cricket, and why I, as a writer and an Indian writer romanticize it a bit more than say, another sport like F1 racing.

It’s closer to my heart.

In my Mail Today quote, (February 13, 2014) I was asked to name a few rom-com books that couples could snuggle together and fall in love over. Anuja Chauhan’s “Zoya Factor” was one of the first books I mentioned. It has it all. A zany heroine, a stubborn and sexy hero (CAPTAIN of the Indian Team!) and a sport that is loved by the sub-continent. Cricket! Anuja could have written about any sport as the background for her love story, but she picked cricket because she, as an Ad genius, knew where the pulse of the nation rested.

A sport that has us going up in arms against each other, if need be.

Combining cricket and love is not necessarily a surefire bestseller success formula, but I can definitely -understand the appeal of “The Zoya Factor” even more now, that T-20 as a format is being given star-status, just like novellas and graphic novels and newer forms of expression are coming under traditional fiction and revolutionizing and changing the literary landscape forevermore.

Cricketers are given god-like status in this celebrity-obsessed country of ours, just like the English and Brazilians and Spaniards love their football players. Just like baseball and basketball greats are given pride of place in America, to name just a few.

And therefore, it is but natural that as a writer, I would like to go with where the obsession lies and see if I can use it to my advantage.

Harlequin India’s Kingdom Come deals with the subject of obsession on a couple of levels. There is KriviIyer, embittered ex-spy on the hunt of his life, obsessed with vengeance. For my heroine Ziya, her obsession is to not stay a pawn any longer in the dangerous game of life and death that is player with her in the center of it. There is the Woodpecker’s obsession with the perfect bomb that would mean the end of life as we know it. Kingdom Come!

These obsessions are not as healthy as harmless love for a sport, but we all read the papers, where a few Kashmiri students were accused of sedition just because they cheered for a rival nation in a game. What kind of healthy competition and train of thought are we promoting if we can’t even cheer for the people who deserve it? Regardless of name, race, color and religion?

I still haven’t found the answer to this very disturbing question, but who knows, some wise soul might answer me this soon.

But, another persistent and extremely nagging question got answered when I heard the sexy, sweaty, darkly handsome darling Sangakkara tell the interviewer, “We play to win. We don’t just play.”

Spoken like a true hero.

And guess what, he’s gonna be mine now in the next I am writing for Harlequin India. Keep watching this space for more details as that journey takes off.

For now, my obsession is Kingdom Come and sending it into the hearts of all the passionate readers in the country and beyond who love a tale of love, betrayal, loss and redemption.

Till next time,

Xx

Aarti V Raman aka Writer Gal

How to write a story that is “A Winner” – By Reet Singh

We all love a good story. How often have we started a book that we couldn’t put down? Or watched a serial on the television that we wished would not end? That is what a good story does, ensnares us and keeps us hooked long after we’re done with it.

So what makes a good story? How do we write a winner?

1. To start with – exactly that, the starting! A story that pulls readers into the plot right away is more likely to induce them to turn the pages and keep reading.

“Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having

nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, ‘and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice ‘without pictures or conversation?’ ”

I find Lewis Carroll’s first paragraph perfect! It starts right away with a crisis, something that seems likely to impact Alice’s life and change it for good or for bad. I couldn’t wait to read on, to discover what Alice would do as a result of her boredom; I also wondered about the book “without pictures or conversation”.

And that leads me to the next two important things to keep in mind when you’re trying to write a book-with-a-difference: Pictures and Conversation.

2. Although Alice probably wanted the book to have pictures in the sense of images, I’m going to take creative liberty here. I am talking about the necessity of using words to paint pictures in our stories. When authors show rather than tell, they are painting pictures in their books. Take a look at the following two examples, one of which I used in my book ‘Scorched by His Fire’ (Harlequin® India, February 2014):

Example 1: Mita was furiously angry. Sammy walked her to his car so she could escape whatever was irritating her.

Example 2: Sammy looked down at Mita’s flushed face, at the angry tears that threatened, and immediately turned about, pushing her out of the door and straight into his car.

The first example is telling, leaving nothing to the reader’s imagination. The second, showing, allows readers to interpret, in their own way, the picture that is drawn with the author’s words. Showing actively engages the reader and keeps interest alive.

3. The other element, the absense of which Alice lamented, is conversation. To create impact, dialogues between protagonists should be meaningful. Winning stories are those where the authors use dialogue to tell you more about the protagonists’ conflicts and difficulties, or about their relationships. The conversation should not be a bland exchange of dialogue, or simply a means to provide facts to the reader. You will find that you get better at writing meaningful dialogues as you continue to write. It also helps to read the works of authors that you admire. Carefully observe how they use conversation to advantage.

Here is an example from another favorite author, PG Wodehouse:

“Jeeves,” I said that evening. “I’m getting a check suit like that one of Mr. Byng’s.”

“Injudicious, sir,” he said firmly. “It will not become you.”

“What absolute rot! It’s the soundest thing I’ve struck for years.”

“Unsuitable for you, sir.”

This dialogue from ‘My Man Jeeves’ shows several things: the conflict, that is the difference of opinion over the check suit; the characters of the two main protagonists: Bertie passionate, Jeeves indomitable and unflappable; and, it sets the tone for the rest of the story, wherein Bertie obdurately buys the check suit but, right up to the end, never gets to wear it because “Jeeves is always right.”

4. If you can make your characters believable, your story is a winner right away. The perfect character cannot be immaculate or unblemished since no human being is perfect; we know that. Your characters should be someone readers can find something in common with; someone that reminds them of real people they know, maybe even their own selves. Your main characters, therefore, should have flaws, or a secret, just like real people have; they should feel fear, pain, happiness.

Tanay, the hero in my debut story, is handsome and tall and rich, but he is suspicious and punishing; Mita, my beautiful, impetuous heroine, frequently gets into trouble because she lets her emotions rule over her head. Having characters with foibles allows the author to exploit their weaknesses and generate conflict. That works out really well because conflict, complete with climax and resolution, is the backbone of a winning story.

5. Finally, a winning story is a story that you, the author, love to tell. Don’t try to write a story in a genre that is popular, and likely to sell, but one that you do not yourself enjoy.  You can only write a winning story if it comes from your soul. Your story will move the reader, get imprinted in her heart, make her laugh or cry, only if it came from the very heart of you.

So go ahead, dear authors, write for the love of it!

Also, do read ‘Scorched by His Fire’ for I have written it from my heart, and from my soul, and I hope you notice!

Guy

How becoming a Harlequin India® author changed my life – By Reet Singh

I am a doctor. A surgeon. Surgeons are trained to observe, to delve, to record.

When I won the Passions contest in 2013, I was catapulted into, for me, an uncharted part of the cosmos: the world of Harlequin® authors. Authors, too, are known to observe and delve and record, but there is a tangible difference between the two vocations. Doctors focus on people with problems, even on people who don’t want to develop problems; however, authors, because their creativity depends on it, focus on everybody and everything, most, if not all, the time.

 

So that’s one of the first things that changed for me. I began looking speculatively at incidents and people that otherwise I would take in my stride. Who knew when I would need to portray a vegetable seller or a shopkeeper; how they hawk their wares, what they wear? I began looking through the eyes of somebody who hungered for that one story, or a million myriad ones. As a consequence I found inspiration in the oddest of places. When I stumbled on the steps of Pari Mahal in Srinagar, twisting my ankle, feisty Mita (“Scorched by His Fire”) promptly had an accident, knocking her head rather hard in the process! My favorite television channel did a feature on the disappearing trams of Kolkata; before I knew it, my protagonists Tanay and Mita were airborne to Kolkata.

 

Another remarkable change was, I became a more tolerant driver. Delhi has chaotic traffic and I have to negotiate it every day to and from work; ninety minutes on a good day. After Passions, I used those ninety minutes to sort the story out in my head. I thought out some of the dialogues, challenged Tanay and Mita with this or that crisis, conceptualized a few kissing scenes; all this while driving. Thus, when somebody cut into my lane rashly, or harangued me with noisy honking, I was able to smile distractedly instead of showing them the finger or honking back. Never got challan-ed either, since they don’t yet give challans to people who think (of other things) while they drive!

 

Another wonderful change I noticed was that I stopped procrastinating over my share of the family’s routine chores. I stopped thinking ‘Not today’, ‘Later today’, ‘Tonight, just before I turn out the lights’, ‘Sunday’. If it had to be done, I preferred doing it yesterday. Only then could I be mentally free to sit down and write! And write and write!

 

And finally, the best thing of all, I found that I fell in love again! Just as I had succumbed, all those years ago, to the fascination of my field of specialization; then later, been enthralled by my fiance, who went on to became my husband; this time too, I fell in love with my story, and its characters, their idiosyncrasies, my editor, just about everything about the whole process of writing. It is a wonderful thing to be in love. I highly recommend it. “Scorched by His Fire” is my first piece of romantic fiction. By writing it, I am, in fact, strongly endorsing romantic love.being an author

One of the advantages of being an author is the power it gives us to reinvent the wheel. Romance came into being the moment humans came into existence. There are folktales and poems and epics on this emotion, each one as different from the other as can be, even though the guiding genre is the same. That is the beauty of it; as an author, I get to give romance a slightly different flavor, one that stems from my imagination and my perspective.  Becoming an author means that I get to reinvent romance!