The acceptance of a first pitch is quite special. Blogchatter selected my pitch on four life-altering books that I feel every creator/artist/writer must read to nurture their creative streak. I wrote this post straight from the heart while recovering from a ligament tear in my left knee. The past three weeks were difficult as I struggled at every small step (literally and metaphorically). I’m grateful for the company of books by Anne Lamott, Elizabeth Gilbert, Natalie Goldberg, and Julia Cameron. I hope creators/writers find value in these words.
I’m sharing a snippet from the post and the original link.
“2020 was my year of ‘unlearning.’ As I wrapped up an MFA-creative writing course by the end of the year, I understood how unlearning facilitates making space for new learnings. Books by Lisa Cron taught me how to write a compelling story, Robert McKee honed my dialog writing skills, and Charles Baxter enlightened me on the ‘show, don’t tell’ aspect of storytelling as I aced one topic after the other. Hola! I got my certificate and was ready to introduce my honed craft to the world.
Or so I thought! No one told me that the craft of writing or any form or creativity crumbled if the creator wasn’t aware of the necessary skills for survival. During this period, I discovered four books that taught me ways to nurture my creativity and conquer my fears and insecurities as a writer.“
I spent three hours on a Sunday evening, invested in Samira Joshi’s journey of becoming a Spyder, only to realize that I didn’t want the book to end so fast. What a thrilling book my friend Apeksha has written! In January, I read the first book in the Spyder series, called Itsy Bitsy Spyder, and loved it. It took me four months to start reading this novel since I was writing my second detective thriller. ‘Along came a Spyder ‘ was the perfect book to restart my reading journey.
About the author –
A homeopath turned doctor, Apeksha Rao is a well-known name in the writing world for her literary skills and gripping writings.
‘Along came a Spyder ‘ is the story of teenager Samira Joshi, daughters of undercover RAW agents Alka and Ranjit Joshi. She lives with her paternal grandmother as her parents run around to keep our country safe. The book traces her journey as she escapes the conventional path of becoming a doctor and follows the exciting yet challenging route of becoming a spy. She accidentally lands into the den of Spyders, the unofficial training headquarters run by Col. Baldev Singh and his wife, Kakki. Though Baldev is hesitant about letting Samira join the gang, she convinces the boss about her will and skills to stay on. Samira’s mother has taken the u-turn to prohibit her daughter from becoming a spy for reasons divulged later in the book. However, Samira is hell-bent on proving her mother wrong. After a couple of mind-blowing adventures, we discover her disturbing past, which becomes an obstacle in her shouldering responsibilities of her team’s safety. But our protagonist is not the one to give up so easily. She faces her demons’ heads on and proves why she fits in the world of spies with impossible missions.
What worked for me –
It’s a well-researched book that holds the reader at the tenterhooks till the end.
This fast-paced and gripping thriller takes subtle jibes at gender stereotypes. For instance, Samira’s grandmother’s contrasting reactions to her son being an undercover agent against her daughter-in-law’s association with the same profession.
Samira’s character is well-etched out with nuisances and issues of her own.
A hard-hitting climax that portrays how despite their contribution to the country, the agents are often left to justify their actions and decisions.
The technical details of how the spies work in busting their enemy’s network were intriguing.
The author creates an array of interesting supporting characters like Debbie and Milli. I feel Debbie deserves a spin-off with her own story.
Apeksha’s writing is so vivid and detailed that I could visualize the story as I kept reading. Even before the book was released, it made it to the coveted list of writings for visual adaptation. I can’t wait to see the unfolding of events on the screen.
What I wish to see in the future –
The book covers a trajectory of multiple small cases that Samira gets involved in though there’s the main story of her parents’ case running simultaneously. Though Samira has proved her mettle by playing an active part in each of these cases, I would love to read a full-fledged thriller of Samira facing a dangerous antagonist by herself.
Rating and overall feedback –
I would rate this book four out of five (4 stars).
It was entertaining, gripping, and thrilling. I can’t wait to read more of Samira Joshi’s experiences in the future as she follows her parents’ steps to venture into the world of deadly adventures.
Thank you, Blogchatter, for the review copy and Apeksha for the signed copy with a heartwarming message.
The dynamic group was one of the first few joint collaborative efforts of 7 Indian stand-up comedians Atul Khatri, Sorabh Pant, Sapan Verma, Sahil Shah, Angad Singh Ranyal, Azeem Banatwalla, and Kunal Rao. After Atul Khatri and Sorabh Pant left the channel, the rest of the five comedians have been running the show and taking pot-boilers at the current political and socio-economic situation in the country through their YouTube channel.
The performers also have their solo shows on the channel where they speak about relatable content. On Amazon Prime, Sapan Verma has his stand up special called ‘Obsessive Comedic Disorder’, Azeem Banatwalla’s show is titled ‘Cometh The Hour’ and Angad Singh Ranyal tickles the funny bone with ‘Kaafi Filmy.’ But what is unique about this channel is that it extends its spread to include musical comedies, sketches, talk shows about Bollywood and charchas on relevant topics. My favorites on this channel are the outrage videos where one of the comedians speaks on uncomfortable topics like trolling, animal abuse, SSC scam, inaccessible India among many others.
This is the fifth post in the Blogchatter A2Z challenge under the theme ‘Laugh in the time of Corona.’ Stay tuned to know the featured content creator for F on Monday.
You can check all the previous posts over the weekend here. Enjoy this hilarious video by Angad Singh Ranyal, one of the EIC group members.
Most of the readers would remember Vir Das for acting in a couple of Bollywood movies (Go Goa Gone, Delhi Belly). But what makes him stand-out is the fact that he is one of the first few successful stand-up comedians taking the craft of humor to an international level. In 2017, he was the first Indian stand-up comedian to debut on Netflix with his show ‘Abroad Understanding.’ The versatile performer has hosted shows across different genres, written for esteemed magazines and repeatedly made it to the Netflix platform with shows like ‘Losing It’ and his latest, ‘For India.’
Known for his strong opinions on politics, society and human behavior, Das is often seen speaking about the uncomfortable and bitter realities coated with a layer of humor. His bold views have subjected him to trolling but the sassy performer has delivered a comeback in his classic witty style.
This is the fourth post in the Blogchatter A2Z series under the theme ‘Laugh in the time of Corona.’ See you tomorrow as I disclose the name featured in the post for E.
You can read the previous posts here. Have fun watching this clip from Vir Das’ first Netflix special.
Last year, I came across this channel on YouTube called Captain Nick. Content creator Niharicka Singh who runs this channel posts videos of different formats but most of these are hilarious and ridiculously relatable. She plays multiple characters in her comedy sketches, the most famous among this being Mataji. There are comedy videos, sketches, vlogs and a couple of challenges but the intrinsic factor that connects all of these is the underlying humor.
If there’s one aspect that makes her stand out, it is her straightforward nature and honesty that comes across as her USP in the videos. A former RJ, Captain Nick is ruling the trending list with her characters and content.
This is the third post in the Blogchatter A2Z series under the theme ‘Laugh in the time of Corona’. I hope to see you tomorrow as I reveal the name of the featured artist in the post for D.
You can catch up with the previous posts here. Enjoy this video by Captain Nick as I leave you with a smile.
This is my third year at the A2Z challenge / Blogchatter A2Z challenge. The first year was thrilling. I wrote on the theme ‘A dollop of Bengal’. I followed it up with my debut Detective Thriller ‘Deal of Death’ that is available on Amazon here. The second-year was a little hectic because my son started school in mid-April. I wrote on parenting with a dash of humor.
This year, I was in a dilemma whether to go ahead with the challenge or drop the idea. I am into my fourth month of an MFA creative writing course and currently, I’m juggling three fiction classes there. At one point, I almost thought of giving up this challenge because I was already writing 4000 words on a weekly average.
But the excitement of participation didn’t take long to rub one me. I started hunting for themes. Blogchatter gave me some great advice. All I knew was that I couldn’t write beyond 100 words per day. So, after ransacking my brains, I realized that I am going to go ahead with the theme ‘Laugh in the time of Corona’.
Considering the anxiety that all of us are going through, I wanted to speak about anything other than the deadly virus that seems to have brought our lives to a standstill. So, I will talk about Indian stand-up comics on the net, shows that promote humor in the form of a stand-up special or through YouTube channel. As we grapple with the pandemic engulfing our existence, this is my way of dealing with stress.
So, hop on as I start preparing this joyride beginning on April 1st, 2020. Subscribe to my blog to stay updated. You can also follow me on FB/Twitter/IG @soniasmusings.
In the meanwhile, stay safe, stay indoors and don’t forget to wash/sanitize your hands.
For the last five days, I have had conflicting emotions. On one hand, I was relieved that the crazy month of April was over and I didn’t have to work at odd hours to schedule my posts. On the other hand, I missed reading and interacting with fellow bloggers who have now become a part of my extended virtual family. To spare myself the state of confusion, all that I have sincerely done since 2nd May is to catch up on my sleep. Today morning, when I saw the link for a reflection post, I jumped in to share my experience of an eventful A2Z challenge this year.
After my first successful Blogchatter A2Z challenge last year, I had written about my experience through a post filled with learnings, gratitude, and nostalgia. Last year, I had no plans in place. I was undecided on the theme until it was time to reveal it. Not a single post was based on predecided topics or written in advance (I didn’t even know that there was an option called schedule). This year I had decided to be a bit more organized in my approach since I had been waiting for the A2Z challenge for months together. I wanted to have a theme ready, wished to sort out the topics of the posts and even considered writing a few of them in advance. But old habits die hard. The plan to plan my posts stayed only in a state of planning as I dashed towards my usual last-minute execution mode.
When I started thinking about a theme two nights before the day of the theme-reveal post, I considered all the possible categories that I write about. Unfortunately, nothing seemed interesting. It was Sr. T’s idea that I write about the most relevant situation in my life at that moment which was all about Tuneer’s school admissions. I didn’t want to make the articles sound boring or coated with advice. In fact, I am the kind of flawed mother who would perfectly fit into that category of clueless parents seeing advice from the experts. So I thought of turning my harrowing experiences into humorous ones. All that I was worried about was how to stretch a topic so narrow into creating twenty-six posts. Yet whenever I sat down to write my post of the day, the fun element in reminiscing those memories helped the words flow effortlessly into a draft.
The dictionary meaning of Yin and Yang stands as two complementary forces that come into play to balance and create something bigger and better. When I began writing this school admission series, I had mentioned the protagonist as my 3.6 yr old son Tuneer along with Sr. T and me as the supporting cast. Through the last twenty-four posts, I have written about our experiences and emotions related to this phase. Today’s post is dedicated to those who bring equilibrium to Tuneer’s life filling it with joy, love, affection and protect him from those who might be the reasons for stress and undue pressure (yeah me!). Introducing his lifelines –
1. Babai aka his father –
I have an exclusive post dedicated to this man and his adorable equation with the kid. Yet I need to reiterate the fact that the boy had the maximum escapade from my scoldings because of his father. According to him, there’s nothing that the boy could do wrong. It didn’t matter if the boy refused to answer any question, showed no interest in picking up English or denied his knowledge about my name. His standard reply to any exasperated statement of mine went as “But he’s such a sweet boy”. The apple of his eye is getting so sweet every day (read naughty) that I’ve started fearing for our enhanced blood sugar level (read stress).
2. Dadai aka his paternal grandfather –
Until Tuneer was born, I had always been a favorite of my father-in-law. He was more supportive of my decisions than those that were taken by his son. Equations changed between us the day he became a grandfather. His unconditional support towards his only grandson exceeds all limits. He refuses to listen to anything against the ‘innocent’ child. He was the toughest to convince about the interview preparation. As per him, any school that considered English speaking skills to be a selection criterion for nursery admissions deserves to be trashed by every single parent. According to him the fact that Tuneer could answer his name and recite a rhyme should have convinced every interviewer about his intelligence level. No amount of argument could convince him otherwise.
Exactly a year ago, I was concentrating on writing my second last post in the A2Z challenge when the reminder mail from Blogchatter arrived in my inbox about signing up for the Blogchatter e-book carnival. I wasn’t sure if I had the time or skills to convert my posts to a book. That is why I was one of the last ones to sign up for the e-book. Little did I know that it would turn out to be one of the best decisions in my writing career.
As the days progressed, I realized that the book based on the theme ‘A Dollop of Bengal’ from my A2Z challenge posts needed more information, detailed research and better structure that looked quite difficult in the limited time period. With just a few days left for submission, I realized that the only way out would be to bow out of the carnival. But Blogchatter turned out to be a perfect example of what a sense of belonging to the blogging fraternity can lead to. Just six days before the date of submission, I sat down motivated by my fellow bloggers, to write my first ever detective thriller ‘Deal of Death’ introducing Raya Ray.
Post submission, I executed all my marketing knowledge for the next few days to create an interesting trailer for the book launch and a video on the book reading. Through social media promotions, I had managed to create such a hype about my book that it led to 80 downloads hours before the book could be officially launched on 22nd May. Deal of Death went on to become the first book to run out of stock despite getting restocked twice within a week of launch. Encouraging reviews and positive feedback helped me establish my identity as a writer. Two months later, Blogchatter gave the authors an option to take the book to a different platform and most of my fellow authors went ahead and published it on Amazon.
As we race towards the finishing line of the A2Z challenge now, I thought of touching upon a different topic related to the admission frenzy. I have often spoken about my anxiety and stress related to the process in the initial days, especially when Tuneer faced a problem of the language or before his first interview. While Sr. T seemed unfazed on the surface, I am quite sure that I had successfully managed to pass on a bundle of my worries to him. Tuneer was trying to balance his preschool life while riding on the roller coaster wave of admissions. Just before the winter break arrived, all three of us were physically and mentally exhausted beyond the limit (kind of what most of the A2Z participants feel now).
By the time the holidays started, the kid had already faced two interviews and one rejection. We were sure that the only thing that could lift our spirits up was a family holiday. In the X post of my last year’s A2Z challenge, I had written about the way all of Kolkata comes together to celebrate Christmas in a grand way. X’mas, as the city still prefers to call Christmas is about midnight mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral, eating cake from Nahoum’s, trying out street food delicacies on Park Street and visiting Bow Barracks on December 25th. We have done all of these for the past two years and it wasn’t meant to be any different this time as well. But a desperate need for a mini break landed us at my in-laws’ house in Berhampore this December end.