Theme reveal post – Blogchatter A2Z-challenge 2020

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’.

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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.

What it means to be a woman in India!

Today morning, I woke up to multiple messages related to International Women’s Day. 25 percent off on groceries!’ ’10 percent discount on flowers!’ ‘No making charges on diamond jewelry,’ among others.

And at that moment, I realized that the March Madness had begun. Until three years ago, March Madness for me usually began with a gentle reminder from my reporting authority in the banking sector. Or with an aggressive message from the Boss. They would both remind me that after the end of the financial year, there would be an appraisal process to keep my blood pressure and stress levels high.

As a writer, now, the reasons for stress and frustration have shifted reasons but they have not shifted loyalties like my account’s financial statement. Today, a different kind of seething anger gripped my soul. I wanted to question each of these brands and ask them if that is all Women’s Day meant to them.

And yet, all their propositions felt better than any of the headlines, I’ve woken up to in the past few months- violence, moral policing and gender stereotyping. In a bid to highlight the daily struggles we face as women, I decided to take everyone through the stages of being a female in this country.

Stage one- the birth

Since you are a girl, you don’t get to be born. You are aborted in your mother’s womb, itself. In case, you do manage to make your way to the world, you are either dumped in a dustbin or choked to death. Because what are girls, if not unwanted responsibilities?

Click HERE to read about the 11 stages of being a woman in modern India as I pour my heart out in this piece on women’s web. Because we have, for ages and across generations, fought for ourselves and no matter how much fear you instill in us, remember, we will rise. Like the phoenix from the ashes, we will rise.

Snippets from the Thriller Writers’ Panel Discussion at the Women Writer’s Fest, Kolkata

On Saturday 8th Feb, I traveled with my debut book ‘Deal of Death’ to The Saturday Club, Kolkata for an insightful discussion about women writing thrillers. The panel was moderated by Baishali Chatterjee Dutt and had prolific authors like Kiran Manral, Sharmistha Gooptu, and Damyanti Biswas along with me speaking on how ‘thriller’ was an umbrella genre comprising of various sub-categories. We focussed on the stereotyping that women writers face while writing books in a genre predominantly occupied by writers of the opposite gender. In an engaging and thought-provoking session, we shared our experiences of becoming writers in this genre and the way forward.

Sharing a couple of pictures and bits of my opinion recorded live.

The Thriller writers panel
The Thriller writers’ panel
Meeting Anupriya, Damyanti, Paromita and Kiran Manral
Meeting Anupriya, Damyanti, Paromita and Kiran Manral

 

The media coverage in the form of an article on the event is available here.

The full recording of the event is available on the FB page of Shethepeople.tv here.

Do let me know what you think about the session.

Speaking at the Women Writer’s Fest in Kolkata

Here’s the big news that I had spoken about in my last post. Tomorrow, Saturday 8th Feb, I will be speaking at the Women Writer’s Fest by Shethepeople.tv on the theme ‘Writing Thrills’ at The Saturday Club, Kolkata. Along with three other prolific writers, we will be discussing our journey as authors in the genre of thrillers. The day is packed with various events and you can catch my session from 11:30 am to 12:15 pm. Entry is free and all you need to do to attend the event is register on the mentioned link below.

Women Writers Fest Kolkata 2020

Women Writer's Fest, Kolkata
Women Writer’s Fest, Kolkata

I will be sharing further details about the proceedings of the day along with some pictures and videos (if possible) in my next blog post. However, if you want to watch me live from the event tomorrow, please follow me on my Facebook page/Twitter/Instagram (I go by the handle @soniasmusings everywhere).

The panel on 'writing thrills'
The panel on ‘writing thrills’

Please wish me luck as I make my debut as an author in the first writing fest of my new journey.

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.”

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.