Posted in Guest Author, Reading

Please Welcome Ritu Bhathal and her Debut Novel “Marriage Unarranged!”

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. Today, I’ve got a special treat for you. I’ve got Ritu Bhathal as a guest and she’s telling us a little bit about her writing journey and how the Corona virus affected her. So, without further ado. Take it away, Ritu!

 

Ritu Bhathal

It was an amazing feeling, finally typing THE END after the last words on my manuscript that I had literally poured eighteen years of my life into.

Obviously, that wasn’t the end, by any means.

There was the fun of editing, with rewrites and tweaks, feedback from beta readers, then cover design, and all the marketing.

And then, just like that, the Publication Day was upon me.

I finally let my book baby free, and sat tight, waiting for the sales, then reviews.

Will they love it?

Will they hate it?

Oh my God, I am the worst writer! Why on earth did I ever think I could write a book?

Then the feedback started to trickle through.

Oh! It’s not as bad as I thought!

Wow, people LIKE it. Like real five-star review like it!

Honestly, I was overwhelmed by the words of support and praise that came in for my debut novel in February of this year. Marriage Unarranged was a story that had wanted to be written for so long, and finally, I managed it!

One of the repeated comments was basically, ‘Can’t wait to see what happens next!’

People who read my first novel, actually wanted to read more.

So that meant I needed to get another one out.

As I mentioned a little earlier, it took me a long time to write my first book, because life had a habit of getting in the way. From marriage to moving counties, then the trying for a family saga (it was one, we had issues, so that was stress in itself) and dealing with eventual motherhood. And of course there was the day job to consider too. None of these things left much time to write.

But I did it. Once I focused, I carved time out daily, to add to my word count.

And now, I needed to do that again!

I had ideas already for a second, and third book, relating to the first, and had tentatively started writing the second, but that time thing…

Then Coronavirusgate hit and we were suddenly in Lock down.

So now, I have a lot of time, and that’s what I was looking for, wasn’t I?

I started the Lock down pumped.

Taking part in a couple of online writing sprints added a couple of thousand words to my work in progress (WIP).

It took me a while, but I created a temporary work station, seeing as the dining table I usually used for prolonged writing was now commandeered as a workspace for my working-from-home Hubby Dearest, and the only other desks were in kids bedrooms and they were in use for distance learning.

And I managed to finally set up my WIP story map board. I used it for my first book, and it helped me plan events and timelines within the book, so I did the same with this one.

Then I went through and updated my Character bible, because many of the characters overlap, and some develop more in book two, and there were new focus characters to add.

I even had tentative titles for the next two books.

Then I hit a brick wall.

Not only was I dealing with the Lock down, and ensuring two children were accessing their school-work regularly, constantly disinfecting surfaces, keeping spirits up for Hubby Dearest who was suffering cabin fever whilst working from home, I also had my work stress.

You see, I’m a teacher, and yes, schools are closed, but that doesn’t mean no work for teachers. Here in the UK schools were kept open as hubs for those listed as keyworkers to be able to leave their children for childcare, while they go about their essential jobs. I had a rota, where I would go in and spend the day with these children, and the rest of the time, devising and adding work for my class to access online. Then marking, and doing online training, attending webinars to keep us in the loop with the constant changes.

It messed with my head a lot. And my creativity with it.

And now, I am faced with the prospect of going back on the 1st of June, to work with a small group of my class, if the government and our dear BoJo deems it safe for schools to begin partial opening.

So, how much writing have I done?

Well, I’ve tried to stay creative, by writing A Story A Day in May, and some of the prompts have even got me some new scenes which I can use in my WIP.

And my WIP has increased by around eight thousand words. But my mind has not been in the right place to really get into it

But I will.

I promise.

For my characters, as they have stories to tell.

For my readers because they want to know more.

For me, because I know there are other books in me that want to come out.

 

ritu chick pea available now

‘Chickpea Curry’ Lit — Chick Lit with an Indian twist!

It all started ended with that box…

Aashi’s life was all set.

Or so she thought.

Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.

But then Aashi found the empty condom box…

Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.

 

Ritu Bhathal

A U T H O R B I O

Ritu Bhathal was born in Birmingham in the mid-1970s to migrant parents, hailing from Kenya but with Indian origin. Ritu’s colourful background has been a constant source of inspiration to her.

From childhood, she always enjoyed reading. This love of books is credited to her mother. The joy of reading spurred her on to become creative in her writing, from fiction to poetry. Winning little writing competitions at

school and locally encouraged her to continue writing.

As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and teacher, she has drawn on inspiration from many avenues to create the poems that she writes. A qualified teacher, having studied at Kingston University, she now deals with classes of children as a sideline to her writing!

Ritu also writes a blog, http://www.butismileanyway.com, a mixture of life and creativity, thoughts and opinions, which was

awarded first place in the Best Overall Blog Category at the 2017 Annual

Bloggers Bash Awards, and Best Book Blog in 2019.

Ritu is happily married and living in Kent, with her Hubby Dearest, and two children, not forgetting the fur baby Sonu Singh.

F i n d M e:

Social Media Profiles

Blog Website: http://www.butismileanyway.com

Author Website: http://www.ritubhathal.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RituBhathal
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ritubhathalwrites/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/butismileanyway/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RituBhathal/
Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/bhathalpadhaal/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/56854412-ritu-bhathal
Mix: https://mix.com/butismileanyway
Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/ritusmiles

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/ritu-bhathal
Bloglovin: https://www.bloglovin.com/@ritubhathalpadhaal

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/author/ritubhathal

 

And by clicking the following link, you get to my author profile on Amazon

Author.to/RituBhathal

myBook.to/PoeticRITUals

http://getbook.at/MarriageUnarranged

 

Thanks for being a guest, Ritu! Your story sounds like a must read!

Posted in Guest Author

Please Welcome Billie Thomas–Author of “Murder on the First Day of Christmas”!

 

Please give a warm  welcome to Billie Thomas! She’s the author of “Murder on the First Day of Christmas”.  Take it away Billie! 🙂

 

Steph

 

 

 

 

The Story Behind the Story.

By Billie Thomas, author of Murder on the First Day of Christmas

We’ve all heard (and cheerfully discarded) the writing advice “write what you know.” While true to a degree, we’d all prefer to let our imaginations drive our stories rather than our SAT scores. But writing who you know – in other words having a thorough, personal and intimate understanding of your characters – is advice I believe in wholeheartedly. Luckily, when it comes to the core relationship in my Chloe Carstairs mystery series – the relationship between Chloe and her mother Amanda – I have a lifetime of inspiration from which to draw.

My mom and I have always been big mystery fans and we traded books back and forth endlessly. No matter how our relationship was going at the time (can you say ‘rollercoaster’?), our love of mysteries was always neutral ground. So when I set out to write one, I knew Mom would be my biggest fan and toughest critic. The idea of a fun, funny mystery with a mother-daughter relationship much like our own, appealed to both of us, and our relationship was the perfect inspiration. The first draft was a joy to write. I’d work on a chapter, send it to my mom, she’d make suggestions and I’d rewrite. Easy. Fun. Maybe even therapeutic.

Sadly, my mom died unexpectedly of an aneurism at the end of 2011 and never got to see Murder on the First Day of Christmas get published in December 2012. While the book is the perfect tribute to her, I still have 5 things I wished I’d thanked her for more explicitly. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, but a heartfelt one and one that shapes everything I write.  

 

She gave me a life-long love of books.

My best Christmas present ever – even better than my go-cart or Commodore 64 – was a library card in my stocking. I was seven or eight at the time and when I gravely signed the back, I knew this was a Big Deal. It’d be years before I figured out how big. We went to the library every Saturday and I could pick out as many books as I wanted. By the time I was nine, Mom and I had an unofficial book club where Nancy Drews, Judy Blumes and eventually, Agatha Christies were enthusiastically traded and discussed. Reading and writing have been constant joys in my life and my Mom deserves all the credit.

She turned off the TV.

For several years, the TV remained mostly dark in my house. My parents watched the news and “60 Minutes.” My sister and I could only watch one hour a day during the school year and slightly more during the summer. That was it. No daytime TV at all except a few Saturday morning cartoons. Yeah, I hated having to fake-laugh when kids recounted SNL sketches, but that dark TV helped make me creative, healthy and able to entertain myself.

She cooked.

My mom wasn’t a fancy cook, but some of my favorite meals were hers. Spaghetti. Pot roast. Pork chops with a ring of crispy onions on top. Fried chicken for my birthday. She kept it all pretty healthy. Breakfast, always, sugar cereals, never. A side salad at every meal. Family dinners were the standard and we read Trivial Pursuit cards at the table. I don’t know why. She also understood that it was sometimes necessary to delay breakfast till ten when Taco Bell opened. Loved that.

She taught me to be a girl’s girl.

I don’t know how she managed this, since my dad was her whole world, but Mom always stressed the importance of cultivating friendships with girls and never letting guys come before them. (Husbands notwithstanding.) She said the only woman you couldn’t trust or respect was one that didn’t trust or respect other women. I completely agree.

She was willing to be the bad cop.

Any journals I kept before 1988 only had two or three entries in them, all detailing with Anne Frank-caliber anguish show stupid, cruel, unreasonable, lame, wrong or mean my mom was. Once I called her a “bourgeois bitch” – I can’t imagine why, but suspect it’s because I had recently learned the word bourgeois. I’m sure I communicated those feelings in thousands of other ways over the years. She didn’t care. Even if it hurt her feelings, she didn’t let it stop her from enforcing rules, teaching discipline and saying no when she needed to. You only have to meet or work alongside someone who thinks the world is their juice box to know why that’s important.

As I said, not an exhaustive list. I hope Mom’s somewhere where she knows these things and is proud of the job she did raising me. I miss her every day and am thankful I have the series to work on because it makes me feel close to her. If I ever hear that a daughter loved Murder on the First Day of Christmas and passed it along to her mom, or vice versa, saying “this is so us”, I will be thrilled. I’ll bawl my eyes out, probably, but sometimes I do that when I’m thrilled.

About Murder on the First Day of Christmas:

Murder-on-the-First_final3

http://www.amazon.com/Murder-Christmas-Carstairs-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00APPOR40/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_2

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/murder-on-the-first-day-of-christmas-billie-thomas/1113992722?ean=2940016095981

Finding a severed hand at a client’s house might throw lesser decorators off their games. But Chloe Carstairs and her mother, Amanda, won’t let a little thing like murder keep them from decking the halls. With a body under the partridge’s pear tree and a dead Santa in a sleigh, they have to crack the case before the killer strikes again – this time much too close to home.

Filled with laugh-out-loud humor, romance and a delightfully difficult mother-daughter relationship, this new series from Billie Thomas offers a fast-paced caper as these two southern ladies try to keep their very merry Christmas from turning into the Noel from hell.

Connect with Billie Thomas and her protagonist Chloe Carstairs at:

www.chloegetsaclue.com

https://twitter.com/ChloeGetsAClue

www.facebook.com/chloe.cartairs.73

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6877693.Billie_Thomas

Thanks for being my guest today Billie! You’re story sounds like a great read and I’ve got it on my TBR pile. 🙂