Making it to the Orange Flower Awards 2020 by Women’s Web

January has been a kind month until now. My book has been getting some great responses and I have also been picking up a couple of awards for it. MFA coursework has started taking up every minute of my day. With the beginning of the mandatory courses this week, it has become extremely difficult to read anything beyond the reference materials and write very little beyond chasing the assignment deadlines.

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Orange Flower Festival 2020 – pic courtsey: Women’s Web

In the first blog post of January, I had mentioned Orange Flower Awards by Women’s Web. Last year, I had made it to their shortlist for humor and travel writing. This year, the award ceremony gets bigger with celebrity film-makers, actors, entrepreneurs, authors and a host of achievers across the industries making their presence felt on the day of the event. Amidst of thousand of entries in various categories of blogging, social media, and video blogs, it is nothing short of a privilege to announce that my writing got me nominated in SEVEN categories (Yes, you read that right!). Parent Blogging, Humor writing, Writing with a social impact, Writing on Women at Work, Travelgram, Photogram and Best use of Twitter for social impact was where I found myself listed.

Nominationed in 7 categories
Nominated in 7 categories

Continue reading “Making it to the Orange Flower Awards 2020 by Women’s Web”

There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in

The ambulance rushed through the empty lanes to keep signaling the emergency its occupants were facing. Sanjay kept comforting his unconscious mother, while his wife, Gauri continued crying incessantly. The old lady had tumbled down the stairs and slipped into unconsciousness. The lady accompanying them was the hotel manager Pema who kept wondering about the ill-fate of this family on vacation.

The Government hospital functioned despite the minimum set-up and restricted facilities. The nearest private hospital involved at least four hours’ journey through the hilly terrain and the family couldn’t afford to lose any more time.

As the ambulance entered the Government hospital, most of the hospital staff looked annoyed at being woken up at such an unearthly hour. The Resident Medical Officer (RMO), realizing the gravity of the situation called his senior who assured him of arriving soon.

Pema tried comforting a visibly emotional Gauri. “It’s been a while that we had taken a vacation together. My father-in-law passed away two years back. The family had been distraught. It was only recently that my mother-in-law, Renu Bakshi had started getting back to normal. If only we knew what fate had in store for us!” Gauri lamented.

The doctors struggled to bring Renu to a stable condition. A cardiac arrest in the wee hours of the morning made their efforts futile. After obtaining the requisite permission, Gauri and Sanjay left with Renu’s corpse for the last rites.

A week later, Pema received a call from Gauri to thank her and request her presence at the condolence meeting at their residence, three days later.

When Pema reached the address mentioned in the message, she saw a gathering. Gauri attended to the guests while Sanjay performed the rituals. After the usual pleasantries and prayer offering, Gauri got Pema seated. As Pema fiddled with her mobile in the second last row, she overheard a conversation between two ladies in the last row.

“Gauri is an amazing daughter-in-law. Renu had subjected her to such inhuman torture. If I was in her place, I would be celebrating Renu’s death today”, one of the voices said.

“Renu and her husband kept pestering Gauri’s father for more dowry while behaving atrociously with her. Her father died out of stress. They didn’t even let Gauri attend his funeral. Two years back when Gauri conceived, I thought things will get better for her. But look at her bad luck, she had a miscarriage”, another voice spoke.

“It was never a miscarriage. Renu had bribed one of the hospital nurses for the prenatal sex determination. The moment Renu knew it was a girl; she forced Gauri to abort it. Sanjay kept hitting her till she agreed. And then the abuse continued in all forms – verbal, emotional and physical. Last year, it stopped for a while when Mr. Bakshi died due to accidental electrocution. That incident should have put an end to their cruel behavior. But Renu continued punishing Gauri for not bearing the family a son.” The first voice said.

Pema looked at Gauri with new-found empathy. She hoped that Gauri and Sanjay discover happiness in the future. Pema smiled as she saw Gauri stealing glances at Sanjay. But she could never hear the words that Gauri whispered while looking at her husband, “Sanjay Bakshi, you are next.”

Deal of Death: Introducing Raya Ray by Sonia Chatterjee

A detailed and balanced review of Deal of Death by one of the best reviewers in the field.

Book Reviews by Satabdi

Rating:

I heard about the book from the author’s tweets, and I knew I had to read this one because I love detective novels. Plus, she is the winner of the Literoma Rising Star Award 2019 for Best Debut Author!

Chatterjee’s detective is Bengali, female, carries a firearm (and is not afraid to wield it), and is also well-versed in martial arts. She is also sensitive, generous, and emotional apart from being sharp-witted. In my opinion, this is a cracker of a combination.

Her style of writing reminds me of Satyajit Ray’s Feluda novels in English. Hallmarks of her writing: clean prose, simple language, and a leisurely pace which picks up at times to convey danger and describe violence.

She also shares interesting nuggets of history, and explores themes of communal harmony, hospital administration, and paranormal activity throughout the book.

Her heroine is feisty and brave…

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Welcoming 2020 with awards and accolades

Happy New Year to all the readers of soniasmusings.com. I wish you a great 2020 filled with happiness and peace.

Life has become a roller-coaster ride ever since I published my book ‘Deal of Death’ on Amazon. Barring the short family vacation that took me to Bankura and Bishnupur, I have spent the whole of last week working on promotions and marketing of my book on various social media platforms. The efforts were rewarded when it won me the Best Debut Author (Fiction) at the Literoma Rising Star Awards, held at the New Town Book Fair, Kolkata on January 1st, 2020. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the year.

Literoma Rising Star Award for Best Debut Author 2019 (Fiction)
Literoma Rising Star Award for Best Debut Author 2019 (Fiction)

The writing journey began in September 2017 after I decided to quit Banking and move to Kolkata. I could have never mustered the courage to follow my heart if I didn’t have my son Tuneer occupying a major portion of my heart. life and time. So, when I went on the stage to receive the trophy and certificate, I ensured to take him along. It was a delight to see him accept the award. The Banking awards are slowly but gradually making way for the new awards in my writing profession.

Sharing a few snaps from the event where the husband, who’s usually reluctant to click pictures, happily turned into a photographer. I could also sense a tinge of pride in my father’s eyes who had kindly agreed to accompany us for the event.

Tuneer accepting the award
Tuneer accepting the award
A great start to 2020
A great start to 2020

Also, it gives me immense pleasure to announce that Deal of Death has made it to the Top 100 New releases in the category of Crime, Thriller, and Mystery at No. 50.  If you love reading a fast-paced Detective thriller, please consider buying a copy from this LINK.

The book is available in the format of an e-book. However, it is NOT mandatory to own a kindle to purchase it. Kindle app works on any smartphone and that is enough to buy a copy and read the book.

My family at the event
My family at the event

Lastly, the updated list of Top Indian Blogs (2019-2020) was released today and it is a pleasant surprise to see that my blog has made it to this esteemed list for the second consecutive year. It wouldn’t have been possible without the support and encouragement of my subscribers. Thank you for choosing to be a part of my journey.

Making it to the Top Indian Blogs list for the second consecutive time
Making it to the Top Indian Blogs list for the second consecutive time

I will be back very soon with a few more updates on the book and the upcoming Orange Flower Awards 2020 by Women’s Web. Stay tuned for the details.

The Big Announcement – my book ‘Deal Of Death’ is live on Amazon

In the blog posts that I wrote in October, I spoke about a series of my Favorite Indian Detectives. It also had my creation, the female sleuth Raya Ray who made her debut with the Thriller ‘Deal of Death’. Two months later, it gives me immense pleasure to announce that Deal of Death has recently got me the ‘Literoma Rising Star Award 2019’ for the Best Debut Author. I couldn’t have asked for a better time to declare that the book, which has held a consistent rating of 4.59 on Goodreads is finally live on Amazon.  The pricing is just Rs.99. I can assure you that it has the potential to be your perfect weekend read or a Christmas/New Year gift for anyone who loves reading.

Get a copy of the book here.

Literoma Rising Star Award for Best Debut Author

Literoma Rising Star Award 2019 for Best Debut Author

Santa has been kind to me this year and I hope I can count on my readers for the same support. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in advance.

Sharing the blurb of the book here –

Munshiganj is a quaint town with a rich historical background. Its biggest attraction has been a temple and mosque co-existing within the same premises along with the tomb of Nawab Rehamat Khan. Recently though, the peace of this little town has been affected by the paranormal – the temple bell rings by itself daily at midnight.

Raya Ray, an ex-marketing honcho, had been dealing with loss when a chance to help her Banker husband, Krishanu, marked her debut as a private investigator. Detective Raya Ray lands in Munshiganj in response to a call for help from Sharmila – the sister of her house- help Sutapa. Sharmila suspects foul play when the doctors at the town hospital tell her that she delivered a stillborn child. Detective Ray steps in to assist.

Raya steps into a field of landmines after the body of Dr. Sonam Misra from the same hospital is discovered on the deck of a steamer. Soon after, Raya chances upon a secret safeguarded for ages inside the temple. With the help of a local rickshaw puller Habul, she starts unraveling the mystery, unaware of the danger lurking over her as a pair of blue eyes trail her every move.

As she puts the pieces together, Detective Ray realizes that nothing and no one is what they appear to be.

 

 

The experience of reading ‘You Beneath Your Skin’ by Damyanti Biswas

Disclaimer – This post is about my experience of reading the book ‘You Beneath Your Skin’. It is not to be confused with a book review that is more analytical and exhaustive in approach.

How often do you read a book that has such a deep impact on your soul that you fumble for words to speak about it? Keigo Higashino’s books have had that effect on me almost every time. And a recent addition to the list is debut author Damyanti Biswas’ crime thriller ‘You beneath your skin’. I finished reading this book more than a month ago but I had to let the emotions sink in before I could speak about it with clarity.

Set in Delhi, this is the story of Dr. Anjali Morgan, an Indian American psychiatrist and a single mother raising an autistic teenaged son Nikhil. She had come to India to escape her strained relationship with her mother after her married life fell apart. Police commissioner Jatin Bhatt, a much-married man with a teenage son is having an extra-marital affair with Dr. Anjali. In between balancing their personal and professional lives, both witness an upsurge in rape and murder of women belonging to the lower strata in the city. While trying to help Jatin in solving the crime, Anjali lands in a life-threatening situation. By the time the truth unravels, relationships and equations have undergone a transition beyond repair.

You Beneath Your Skin by Damyanti Biswas
You Beneath Your Skin by Damyanti Biswas

At 390 pages, this book is not the kind that can be finished at one go. The primary reason is that it is written in such a hard-hitting way that you cannot stay indifferent to the pain and trauma of the characters. It shakes the reader up, makes her question about the kind of society we live in where danger lurks in every turn of a woman’s life and gets her into a feeling of hopelessness and anger. Sometimes, it feels so real that it doesn’t even read like fiction. Damyanti started writing this book after the horrendous Nirbhaya incident in 2012 and I am writing this review after the horrific rape and murder of Dr. Priyanka Reddy a fortnight ago. If anything, the situation has only gone from bad to worse and this book is a harsh reminder of the same.

This book peels off layers of crimes that connect the lowest strata of the society with the most privileged class of elites. From abduction, minor sex racquet, prostitution, drug abuse, acid attacks, rape, and gruesome murder, this book manages to cover a wide spectrum of crimes effortlessly. The author has shown expertise and finesse in ensuring that none of the sub-plots feel exaggerated or forced. The reader experiences a similar spectrum of emotions in the form of sympathy, hopelessness, frustration, remorse, and anger though I must mention the slight ray of hope that appears at the end of the book.

It is quite difficult to believe that this is the work of a debut author. Her command over the plot, language, development of characters, and flow of the story is commendable. It is quite evident that extensive research has led to creating this book. A lot of incidents are also inspired by the real-life circumstances that people around her have been subjected to. She has absorbed their pain and channeled it into creating a story that lays bare the skeletons of an inhuman society. And here is one author who is not ready to stop at just writing about the barbaric acts. The sale proceeds of this book will be transferred to two charitable institutions ‘Project Why’ and ‘Stop Acid Attacks’ that she has been attached to and that’s her way to bring a positive change in society.

eShe Flash Fiction runner-up

Of late, I have been unusually hesitant to post anything that could be remotely related to writing achievements. Not that there have been many but I seem to have fallen into the vicious cycle of ‘writing less to achieve less’. I finally started my online MFA in a creative writing course last month and I was expected to submit my first assignment on Monday. On Sunday evening, I spoke to my MFA advisor from India (there are two and the main advisor is based out of the States). She had been my biggest motivation for taking up this course.

When I shared my inhibitions about the article not really making it to the set benchmark, she changed my perspective by inclining it towards ‘write more to achieve more’. This achievement could be in the form of a genuine comment of appreciation, a certificate, a trophy, a prize or even a small target fulfillment. She said every bit, however insignificant it might look to me, still matters for it gives the courage to carry on.

eShe Flastion Fiction runner-up
eShe Flastion Fiction runner-up

So, here’s one of my latest achievements as we reach the last leg of 2019 – I emerged as a runner-up in a Flash Fiction contest held by eShe in September. I wouldn’t even have known the results (announced on Oct 10) hadn’t they mailed me a final reminder to send them my address last week. Here’s the link to the entries that made it to the winning list. This competition was judged by some eminent writers in the field of literature and that is why this small feat feels special. If you have read my book ‘Deal of Death’, you would probably fathom my recent writing struggles through the name of my protagonist here.

Thank you eShe for the certificate and prize.