Birthday, anniversary, & vaccination

On 29th May, I celebrated my birthday with the three men in my life – my father, husband, and son. After a decade, I asked my father to buy me a new dress on my special day instead of my usual requests for books and journals. When Ma was around, she refused to listen to my resistance; birthdays always meant a new dress. After she passed away, I never found any joy in the ritual of a birthday dress as a gift. Eventually, Baba let it go.

The first birthday cake

But this year, I decided to celebrate for two reasons – I had finished writing my second novel, and I finally had the three special people in my life under one roof on the day. From cutting cakes to ordering food, we indulged in small moments of happiness. But we also shared these little joys with those who keep us going through their support – our cook, house-help, driver, security guard, and a few more helping hands. I’m going to cherish these memories for a very long time.

The second birthday cake

On the professional front, I completed numerous rounds of editing the book and sent the initial documents to my literary agent. We are working on the marketing plan and publisher details. But, I finally decided to take a break from the second novel (BTW, it has a new title; stay tuned for the announcement). The next item on the priority list was to get my first dose of vaccination. Getting a slot on the Cowin app seemed tougher than cracking UPSC exams.

Fortunately, my residential area organized a paid vaccination drive for the 18-44 age group in collaboration with Apollo hospitals. Thanks to an alert and aware husband, we managed to get a slot for me for 3rd June. From document verification to getting jabbed, it took me less than twenty minutes to complete the process. Except for the pain in my left arm that subsided after nearly two days, I didn’t have any side effects.

Vaccinated

June is a month as precious as May since we will complete a decade of our married life on the 20th of this month. While it’s been more than twenty-two years of knowing each other as friends, best friends, and a couple before making it official, the past one-and-a-half years have taught us both to cherish every opportunity of hope and togetherness.

While I’ll resume the work related to the launch of the second novel very soon, I also intend to start writing for magazines, digital platforms, and other mediums going forward.

New adventures in writing

I hope you have taken the vaccine and got your friends and family vaccinated as well. Please help out your support staff who might find it difficult to use technology for booking a slot. And keep the mask on; we can’t afford to lose this battle.

Latest review of ‘Deal of Death’ and announcement of my second novel on Bookshot’s YouTube channel

Hello everyone,

Hope you are doing well and staying safe. This is a quick post to let everyone know that Maya Bhat from Bookshot YouTube channel was kind enough to reread ‘Deal of Death’ and do a video review on her channel. Maya is one of the early readers of the book. Listen to her speak about the reason she recommends my debut detective thriller and why she’s is excited for the soon-to-release second novel in Detective Raya Ray series.

Introducing Raya Ray : The Private Detective | Deal of death by Sonia Chatterjee [Indian Booktuber] – YouTube

Deal of Death review on Bookshot’s YouTube channel

In case you are yet to read the first book, you can grab the e-book here –

Deal of Death: Introducing Raya Ray eBook: Chatterjee, Sonia: Amazon.in: Kindle Store

You can also subscribe to Maya’s YouTube channel Bookshot channel for more such amazing book reviews.

Stay tuned for the updates related to the second book launch.

Update on my second novel in my birthday month May

After three months of writing and editing my second Detective Raya Ray novel, I was finally ready to take the next step. So, on Tuesday afternoon, I initiated the process of mailing a document set related to the book to my literary agent. While there are many steps before the final version is published both in paperback and e-book format, I’m glad that I could give Raya a challenging case to crack. Coincidentally, it is also my birthday month.

The second Raya Ray novel (tentative title)

Since March’21, the doctor husband is back to his erratic schedule. I’m left with no choice but to raise the kid single-handedly once again. Shuttling between anxiety and helplessness, writing this book was my survival strategy. It also helped that I had my strongest support system in my brave five-and-a-half-year-old, who has barely met his father six times in sixty days. His interest in my project is beyond inspiring.

But I must also confess that the kid is a tough taskmaster. No reporting authority in my erstwhile corporate career has ever sought a status update of my work at a frequency of every half-an-hour, like this child. Phew! I’m quite glad that he has decided to shift his focus to Enid Blyton’s Mr. Noddy for the time being.

Mr. Noddy saves the day

It is a tough time to live in. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve heard close friends lose their loved ones. I wasn’t even sure if I should put up an update on the book, especially when we are struggling to survive. But, art is a great survival strategy as well. It takes away our grief, worries, and hopelessness momentarily and gives us reason to dream of a better world. With a ray of hope in my heart that this too shall pass, I go back to balancing my role as a mother and a writer. Someday, I wish to write a book on what it means to be the wife of a frontline warrior.

Stay safe, stay home (if possible), take care, and wear a mask. We need to break the chain. Stay tuned for more updates related to Raya’s latest case.

A mixed bag of emotions in April

April is one of my favorite months since we celebrate my father’s birth on 1st April. As a banker, I looked forward to a relaxed April month after a grueling financial year-end in March. For the last three years, April represented the A2Z challenge daily blogging for me. But this year, I bowed out of the event in the last week of March after realizing that editing 1 lakh plus words of my second novel would require longer time, dedicated efforts, and undivided attention.

Winding up the third round of editing

I began the first round of editing by March third week. I finished the third round of editing in the wee hours of the morning today. It is a hard-earned day off for me after twenty-six days of working at a stretch. I’ll go back to the final round of manuscript editing tomorrow before mailing it to my literary agent.

When my son celebrated my father’s birthday

On the personal front, we celebrated Baba’s birthday together. Last year, the sudden lockdown stranded him at Berhampore, while we stayed in Kolkata. My son started his second year of online classes on 12th April. Who would’ve thought that a year later, we would still be fighting the second Corona wave? The situation is worsening every day as election rallies get precedence over the need for social distancing. It’s painful to see kids adjust to yet another year of no friends, no classrooms, and no playground. Never did I imagine that a new uniform that was to bring joy to a class 1 kid wasn’t going to get dirty with pencil marks, crayon colors, and shared tiffin for another year.

Back to online classes

We had one year to prepare for another pandemic. Instead of strengthening the healthcare sector, people in power spent money on election rallies, religious institutions, and statues. Now that people are dying due to an acute shortage of beds/oxygen cylinders/vaccines, will those who justified the expenditure on unnecessary structures take their families to such places instead of a hospital? My husband and his colleagues in the medical fraternity are back to war mode. And their families are back to where we were last year.

Mask up!

People in power have failed us, but it is the indomitable spirit of the common people that gives me hope. Yesterday, a bunch of us collated lists and reached out to authorities seeking help on Twitter. We aren’t giving up so easily. However, now that we know we are on our own, please wear a mask (or a double mask, if needed) and maintain social distancing protocols.

I’ll be back next month with the next update on Raya Ray’s second case. Until then, stay safe, and stay at home.

Making March memorable in 2021

I’m not quite fond of March; the reason is linked to my earlier profession as a banking branch head. March meant meeting year-end targets, hectic schedules, and no holidays. However, life as a writer gives me an option to choose what I want to make of any month. Though it comes with the difficulty of not knowing when to stop and take a break, it also means that I hold the power to decide if I can balance my deliverables and afford to take a mini-vacation.

The recent beach vacation at Mandarmani

I remember blogging about my intention of writing consistently. Since this is my first post in March, it looks like I didn’t keep my promise. But hold on! I’ve not only been consistently writing for forty days unmanaged to churn out until today, but I’ve also managed to churn out 93k plus words for my second novel. Ideally, I should be able to finish it by this month and work on the editing process next month. As of now, it looks like I’ll end the book at a little over lac words, though I hope to cut it down once I start editing and rewriting.

Second novel in the Raya Ray series is work-in-progress

Despite such a hectic schedule, a vacation was long due. The kid finished his Prep 2 assessment, the husband who’s been on duty since last March faced a high risk of burn-out and my eyes were aching from the number of hours I spent working on my laptop. So, we took off on a beach vacation to Mandarmani for three days after a year, and I’m falling short of words to express how special this holiday was. To see the kid running on the beach, playing football with his father, letting the waves splash against him was sheer delight. However, we maintained every safety protocol from wearing masks to sanitizing our hands at all steps.

The son and the father playing football on the beach

We returned feeling rejuvenated. The kid is enjoying his session break, the husband is back on duty and I’m clocking an average of three-thousand words per day as I work towards the finishing line of Raya Ray’s second case.

Together as a family after a very long time

Amidst all this, I thought of grabbing the opportunity of doing the Blogchatter A2Z challenge 2021 in April for the fourth consecutive year. In the first year, I wrote about Bengal as ‘A dollop of Bengal’ series. In the second year, I wrote about our pathetically ridiculous experiences related to Tuneer’s school admission process. Last year, I tried to bring humor into our grim lives by writing about stand-up comedians and YouTube creators in the genre of comedy. Like every year, I’m yet to decide on the theme this year. However, the thrill of getting back to daily blogging is unparalleled. Wish me luck as I conclude my second novel and take the plunge with the A2Z challenge next month.

Sharing one more gorgeous picture from the sun, sand, and sea vacation this month. Stay safe and take care.

Mandarmani sea

Happy new year 2021!

Happy new year, everyone!

I’m posting a wish 15 days late because I was unwell for more than ten days. The respiratory issues that engulfed my life in 2019 resurfaced after a year and aggravated during winters. It kept me away from reading, writing, blogging, or even working on my writing projects.

Unfortunately, the husband also returned from duty with a severe stomach infection. So, the situation at home looks a little grim right now. But I hope that we can overcome this state and return to a healthy life soon.

On the positive side, the country started the vaccination process today. It is the first step towards winning this battle against the Coronavirus. I’m waiting for the day when the ‘new normal’ gets replaced by our old lifestyle.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Before the breathing problem overtook my existence, I began the new year by reading some beautiful books. Since last year, my reading range has primarily covered literary fiction. So, after getting the MFA degree, I rushed back to the thriller genre. My first book was the delightful read ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ by Richard Osborn. I will put up a detailed review later, but I enjoyed every bit of this crime thriller.

I hope everyone had a great start in 2021, a year of hope and happiness. I intend to get back to frequent blogging this year; I’ll share my blogging plans for this year soon. Until then, take care and stay safe.

Bidding adieu to an eventful 2020 with hope for a happier 2021

At the beginning of 2020, my writing journey looked quite thrilling. I made it to the shortlist of Orange Flower Awards 2020 in a couple of categories and won multiple awards for my debut novella. I was invited as a speaker to the Women Writers’ Fest in Kolkata, and the MFA course gave me the right push to stay motivated. And then the pandemic brought the world to a standstill.

Women Writer’s Fest, Kolkata

I’ve often written about my journey as a doctor’s wife in a year that tested my patience and perseverance. It is through written words and my five-year-old son’s company that kept me going. Since the year is about to end in less than ten days, I wish to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to those who engulfed my life with support, love, and compassion. My family and my close circle of friends are nothing short of blessings in my life.

Literoma Nari Samman Award 2020

The MFA certificate arrived on 12th December. After two post-graduate degrees in science and management, the third degree in creative writing made me the happiest. I hope to continue creating through books for the rest of my life.

Deal of Death

On 21st December 2020, my debut detective thriller ‘Deal of Death’ completed a year of its launch on Amazon. To everyone who read, took out time to leave a review on Amazon and feedback on Goodreads, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. But if you are one of the rare ones yet to grab a copy, you can download the e-book here. (It is free on Kindle Unlimited, so don’t miss the chance.)

Merry Christmas from the kid

Yesterday, my son performed in the online Christmas celebration conducted by his school. He spoke about how the festival represents the joy of love and brotherhood/sisterhood. To see the kid transform from a shy toddler to a confident kindergarten student was a magical moment for me. It made me take a trip down memory lane, reminiscing the delightful Christmas celebrations in my convent school.

Orange Flower Awards 2021

Just before I wrap up this post, I am excited about my writings getting nominated yet again for the Orange Flower Awards 2021 in the categories of short fiction, humor, social impact, and women at work. I am keeping my fingers crossed for the next levels in the hat-trick year.

This is how we began 2020 – winning the best debut novel award

I will remember 2020 as a year that taught me resilience. As we enter 2021, I hope the world is finally free of Covid-19, and we get the opportunity to go back to the old ‘normal’ way of living. Here’s wishing you a merry Christmas and a happy new year in advance. I will see you again in 2021.

Happy Diwali and a joyful children’s day

November isn’t a kind month in my life. Exactly nine years ago, Ma passed away on 12th November, and I am still trying to deal with the irreparable loss. Yet, life has to move on, and I drag myself to face the situation even on days I wish I could disappear.

Today is children’s day, a day that reminds me of the best childhood memories associated with my alma mater, Mary Immaculate School in Berhampore. Due to the pandemic, my son won’t be celebrating his special day with his friends at school. So we are trying to make it a fun-filled day for him at home.

Diwali celebration at home

It is a double delight since today is also Diwali, the festival of lights. It is on this day that we celebrate Kali Puja in Bengal. While the crisis demands us to act sensibly, we decided to have a small celebration with family this year. So, it will be a no-cracker and no-pandal-hopping kind of celebration for us.

As we light up our lives, I pray to Ma Kali that we also become sensitive to the less privileged ones around us and help them enjoy the festival of joy. I also hope that we continue nurturing the child in all of us to make the world a better place.

Happy children’s day

I wish you a happy Diwali and a joyful children’s day. Stay safe and stay protected.

SONIASMUSINGS.COM TURNS THREE

It feels like yesterday when I decided to quit my banking job and mustered the courage to follow my heart. On 13th September 2017, I let my intentions known to the world through the launch of my blog soniasmusings.com. From 2017 until now, it’s been a roller-coaster ride of blogging, writing articles on esteemed platforms, authoring a book, and eventually choosing to do my third masters program, an MFA in creative writing. It wasn’t easy to venture out in an unknown territory, yet it was more difficult to convey that writing wasn’t a passion anymore; it was going to be my third and full-time profession. If I have to pick a turning point in my life, I would always choose this phase of pursuing my dreams.

#soniasmusingsturnsthree Three years of blogging and writing. Thank you, for the support!

Thank you, dear readers and followers, for showering me with so much love, support and encouragement over the years. You motivated me to stay focused on my goals.

Hello September, the month of hope & joy!

I started the last trimester of the MFA course this month. For the past few months, I haven’t blogged much or written actively on any digital platform. Yet, I was writing a lot, mostly through my assignments. Amidst all this, the pandemic stuck. I have often spoken about how the Covid-19 crisis hit us as a family, with the medical professional husband away on duty for months.  His posting outside the city compelled us to mostly connect over video calls. It is still difficult to explain to the son why he gets to meet his father just once a month, for a couple of days. For three months, I felt stuck, frustrated, and annoyed. Almost everyone around me moved ahead, upgraded their skills, progressed in career, and did a great job of balancing their roles. And, I was struggling to stay afloat amidst this chaos. It was overwhelming.

Burning the midnight oil for MFA assignments
Burning the midnight oil for MFA assignments

Two months back, I decided to log out of social media, uninstall all apps except Twitter, quit 20+ groups on WhatsApp, block people I didn’t wish to stay in touch with any longer, and focus on the optimization of restrained circumstances. I spent two months nurturing the relationships I genuinely care about. I worked steadily for the MFA course and read books in genres I could never appreciate before. I finally made peace with my bushy eyebrows, shoulder-length hair, and supposed ‘laidback’ pace of publishing books.

Rediscovering A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
Rediscovering A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

On Aug 22nd, I decided to return on social media, consciously restricting the time I spend on each platform. I wanted to share my journey of handling a difficult phase with a lot of people who were struggling too. But what primarily occupied my thoughts was the book that I am currently reading – ‘A Suitable Boy’ by Vikram Seth. I gave up reading it a couple of times in the past. But when I borrowed the book from the library last month, little did I know that this going to be a delightful reading journey of the literary world. It confirms my belief that there exists a suitable time and space for every book in our lives.

The boy and his superheroes
The boy and his ‘superheroes’ as birthday gifts

September is a very special month for me. Exactly 5 years ago, my son Tuneer was born on the 22nd of this month. Therein began our journey of parenthood. The lockdown introduced him to a bunch of superheroes. From Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Captain America, Avengers to Justice League, his love for these characters made us rename him as Tuneerman. We had plans to celebrate it with friends and family before Covid-19 brought life to a standstill. The family has come together to make it all about his favorite cartoons and superheroes. The tees are from his paternal grandparents, maternal grandfather, and his father. The ‘Othello’ game is from his best friend. I chose to gift the posters and a surprise puzzle set is on the way. He was so excited about the presents that we couldn’t coax him to wait until the 22nd to open them. That expression on his face after unwrapping the packages made every effort feel special.

I look forward to a kinder, safer, healthier, and fulfilling month. Stay safe and take care.