Serving Hot – Sizzling September Stories

Aloha Readers !

We bring you a sneak peak into our sizzling hot releases of September- fill your shelves !

 Indian Writing – Mills & Boon Romance 

A Perfect Mismatch- Leena Varghese

 What’s The Story…

 Once, Armaan Malhotra was Zara’s secret teenage fantasy. Now, they find nothing right with each other! Zara is a spirited woman, fiercely guarding her hard-earned independence as a chartered accountant. An orphan, her mother’s indiscretion has haunted her life. Armaan is a celebrity artist, with a deep-rooted aversion to commitment. Born in an old business family, his father’s infidelity has rocked his beliefs. Zara finds Armaan callous and insensitive. Armaan finds Zara stubborn and rebellious. Both find it impossible to trust anyone. When under pressure from Armaan’s mother, they agree on a short term arranged match, things turn chaotic. Soon the undercurrent of tension and attraction turns into skirmishes, flaring up into a full-fledged battle on their honeymoon. Could they let go of their fears and let desire transform into deep abiding love forever?

 

 Meet the Author

Leena Varghese lives in Mumbai with her husband and two boisterous kids. Amidst the cacophony of a tumultuous household and managing her illustration work, she squeezes in the time to give vent to her creative passions such as writing and painting. She loves to experiment with various media including oils, watercolours and pastels. Leena firmly believes that everyone comes into the world equipped with an umbrella for the rainy days. Anyone can be creative enough to turn lemons into lemonade, topped with iced pragmatism. A life spent in learning and doing new things even when failure stares you in the face, is a life well lived indeed. So trying your hand at just about everything that comes your way is a good idea to keep yourself alive and kicking! Her mantra for happiness is to never be complacent and always keep evolving. This is Leena Varghese‘s debut book for Mills & Boon®!

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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!

Easy reading is damn hard writing – By Tanu Jain

‘Easy reading is damn hard writing’ said Nathaniel Hawthorn.

I realised the truth of this when I sat down to write my first romance novel. It would be as easy as a lark, I thought. After all, Mills and Boon have been light and easy reads and my record of reading an M&B in one go, stood at forty five minutes flat!

Moreover, the books follow a set format; the hero is TDH, rich, suave and successful; the heroine is heartbreakingly beautiful, feisty and vivacious yet shy and innocent. The story is a romantic fantasy with glitzy, glamorous settings. The hero and heroine meet amidst strong emotional conflict and sky-rocketing sexual tension. Just throw in some love scenes, resolve the conflict and viola! I’ll have a manuscript ready!

How naïve I was!

Countless mounds of paper and several bitten nails later I fell at the feet of the deity of romance, La Cupida — propitiated myself, offered a lock of my sparse hair and even spilled a teeny weenie tear vowing my eternal devotion. The goddess took pity on my plight, sent her arrows soaring that pierced through the cloudy skies of my imagination and light filtered through.

I came up with a manuscript that was graciously accepted and I was on cloud nine! Years of perseverance had paid off I thought with glee! Little did I know that more hard work was to follow!

My editor’s congratulatory email also contained a list of revisions that would ‘tighten up the story and develop my voice as writer!’ As I got down to work I realised that story telling is not just imagination and creativity but also a craft which requires learning and training.

The characters have to be well thought out, etched to the minutest detail; the plot has to be believable, fast paced and slick; the story has to follow a set format and yet be new and refreshing; the underlying ideas have to be positive, affirmative and upbeat.

And here the important role played by the editor comes in. A book germinates in the author’s thoughts but the editor’s insights and feedback go a long way in shaping it and contouring it to perfection. Thank you Megan and Laura!

Two books later I’m ready to take up arms against all those critics who regard M&Bs as a piece of fluff and call them “mush” and “slush.” M&Bs like any other book of fiction or non-fiction require painstaking effort, eye-wrecking labour and toiling while the world sleeps. There are other hardships as well. The kids will get ‘late submission’ for school projects, phone chit chats will have to be ditched, late evening drives will have to be abandoned, the family will frequently have to endure ‘Maggi dinners’ and some of those Page three parties will have to be given a miss!

But the finished product is worth it! And when one holds the little blue book, embossed with one’s name, in one’s hand the feeling that lights up the insides is indescribable. So, all you fellow romance readers and aspiring writers, pick up a pen and write the book you always wanted to read! All the best to the participants of PASSIONS contest!

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Easy to read but tough to write – By Shoma Narayanan

The topic I started with originally was “Easy to read books are the toughest to write”.  Never having written a tough-to-read book myself, I didn’t feel up to making comparisons, and decided to stick with the challenges involved in writing a quick-read book.

Most easy-to-read books fall into a genre – thrillers/ romance/ detective fiction/ chick-lit.  Authors may argue with the labels all they want but they’re stuck with them.  And once you’re slotted into a genre, there are expectations that readers have from a book.  Obvious ones like not being allowed to kill off the hero in a romance novel, or have the heroine run away with a policeman.  Also not so obvious ones, like not making a character’s life and motivations too complicated.  Being realistic without being too grim.  Not encroaching into another genre.

Then there’s the writing style itself.  While most writers of popular fiction have a light style, there is the always the temptation to show people that you can manage something a lot more ‘literary’ if you want to.  I honestly don’t think that writing needs to be ‘heavy’ to have literary merit – similarly, the chances of a book winning the Booker do not increase exponentially with the number  long words and complicated plotlines.  What distinguishes popular fiction from other types of fiction is that it caters to a specific audience, and is written keeping that audience in mind.  It’s not the same as a book that ‘comes from within’, and is the creative outpouring of a literary mind, with no thought to ‘who’s going to read this’ or ‘how many copies will I sell’.

“How many copies will I sell’ is a pretty big thing for a popular fiction writer, and other than the writing itself, there’s a lot that goes into making the book a success.  But it still starts with the writing – no amount of PR or trade discounts will help a book that doesn’t have intrinsic merit.  Also, catering for a specific audience isn’t as simple as waking up in the morning and deciding “Oh, books on Indian mythology sell well, I should write one immediately”.

When I write, I usually have a few typical readers in mind, and I keep stopping to ask myself the question ‘Would so-and-so like this?’ Or “Is this section dragging – should I delete it?” Also, because my books sell in countries other than India, “Will this make sense to a non-Indian reader?”  Editing is crucial – often my editor will spot something that hasn’t occurred to me.

Making characters realistic yet appealing is another challenge.  The perfect hero of a romance novel is an incredibly hot alpha male who in addition to being tall, dark, handsome, sexy and rich, also needs to be capable of deep emotion and understanding.  It’s a bit of a tall order for the average male.  For the character to be believable, he needs to have flaws that make him seem more human but don’t detract from his overall appeal – if possible, they should add it to it!  So he can be reserved but not arrogant; impulsive but not immature; hot-tempered but not violent.  Endowing him with a sense of humour helps!  Similarly, the heroine can’t be seen telling lies or being overly insecure or whining about her lot in life.  If a reader stops sympathizing and identifying with the protagonist, the book loses its charm.

The last thing about writing popular fiction is the sheer volume that most authors of popular fiction churn out.  To retain reader interest, it’s important to keep up a steady stream of books in their favourite genre.  Switching genres, or having a big gap between two books doesn’t work very well, because you need to build up your readership all over again.

Having said all of this, there is something singularly satisfying in writing the kind of book that a reader looks forward to reading after a long and tiring day.  So while easy-to-read books might be tough to write, they bring a little more zing into both the author’s and the reader’s life.

Happy reading – and writing!

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