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.

January 2021 – a month full of reading!

I’m not much into book reading challenges because it takes away the joy of reading from me. I’m quite an old school when it comes to correlating books with happiness.

My breathing issues resurfaced in January, leaving me with very little energy or motivation to write. Instead of feeling miserable about the situation, I decided to spend those sleepless nights reading as I literally continued huffing and puffing. So, I ended up completing 14 books and leaving two midway in January. Right now I’m reading 4 books.

The first set of books read in January

Here are the details of books I read-

  1. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osborne (my best read of the month)
  2. The Guest List by Lucy Foley
  3. Best Served Cold by Bhaskar Chattopadhyay
  4. 5.Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
  5. 6.Gunning for the Godman by Ajay Lamba and Sanjeev Mathur
  6. The itsy bitsy spyder by Apeksha Rao
  7. How to be a writer by Ruskin Bond
  8. Dasavatara by Piyusha Vir
  9. A suitable boy by Vikram Seth
  10. Murder is Easy by Agatha Christie
  11. And there were none by Agatha Christie
  12. The TMYS December review by Koral Dasgupta & TMYS team.
  13. Chumki and the elephants by Lesley Denise Biswas
  14. Girls and the city by Manreet Sodhi Someshwar
The second set of books read in January

All books have been reviewed on Amazon and Goodreads (if updated).

The only paperbacks I read

Not mentioning the books I left midway, both of which are famous and critically acclaimed.

Currently reading –

  1. Each of us killers by Jenny Bhatt
  2. Along came a spyder by Apeksha Rao
  3. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.
  4. The artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

As we begin February, I hope that I can continue my reading pace while getting back to writing the second novel.

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.

A couple of more reviews of Deal of Death and an interview featuring my blogging journey

Thank you, for loving my book ‘Deal of Death.’ In the last couple of days, I have seen some more encouraging reviews from authors, who are also known for their literary skills. Sonia Dogra, Radhika Acharya, and Vartika Mehrotra rave about this past-faced detective thriller in their reviews on Goodreads and Amazon.

Review by Vartika
Review by Vartika

If you have still not read the book, you can get a copy HERE.

On the personal front, I was interviewed by Naveen from blogabout.blog about my journey as a blogger/author and I had a great time answering his thought-provoking questions.

My blogging journey featured
Featuring my blogging journey

You might enjoy reading the interview here.

6 months of ‘Deal of Death’ on Amazon with a couple of new stellar reviews

My debut detective thriller ‘ Deal of Death’ completes 6 months of getting published on Amazon and it is a delight to discover two wonderful reviews by two writers par excellence, Piyusha Vir (who’s also a best-selling author) and Esha Chakraborty.

Review by Piyusha Vir

If you have not read this fast-paced detective thriller introducing private investigator Raya Ray, you must grab a copy HERE. It is sure to make your weekend more interesting.

Review by Esha Chakraborty
Review by Esha Chakraborty

The pandemic has become a difficult time for us as a family. I have a bunch of classes lined up in the MFA course this month, the kid is trying to cope up with the pace of the online classes while my husband is tied up in delivering his duties as a doctor. The situation makes it tough for me to balance blogging with mandatory writing and personal responsibilities. I haven’t been able to publish more than 2/3 posts after April  (my apologies for that!) but I am hoping for better progress in the coming months.

The copyright notice
The copyright notice

Last month, a fellow blogger brought to my notice that the site cryptocitynews.com has been blatantly republishing the same content as my website without seeking any permission from me. Despite the copyright notice clearly mentioned on my website and my warning comments on the posts there, they haven’t taken down my posts. So, if you see any of my posts on their site, please feel free to call them out. A lot of effort goes into creating, editing, and publishing posts on my site and it is unethical to republish my work for their vested interests.

I hope all of you are staying safe and following adequate precautions for us to collectively overcome this crisis. Take care and I will see you again with a new topic very soon.

 

Double Awards in Literature on International Women’s Day

8th March is celebrated worldwide as International Women’s Day. While I am aware of the history that brought this day into existence, it breaks my heart to think of the nature of crimes, violence, and harassment that women face 364 days a year. If only we had been successful in normalizing the belief of equality between both the genders, we wouldn’t have needed a special day to remind everyone that even in 2020, women are forced to fight for their rights to survive with respect.

Beach Vacation Mar 2020
Beach Vacation Mar 2020

This year the day wasn’t meant to be any different because I have stopped celebrating women’s day or rather give in to the discounts and offers that have trivialized the intent behind this day. The only special event on 8th March was that my 4.5-year-old had finished his final exams and we could plan a short beach vacation with our childhood friends and their families. It was a refreshing change to switch off from writing, my MFA course assignments and the daily humdrum of life for three days. We went on a trip down the memory lane as the vehicle took us out of Kolkata towards the Mandarmani sea beach.

But life was waiting around the corner with some special surprises in the store. The first mail in the morning arrived from The Spirit Mania (TSM) Group conferring me with the Influential Women Award 2k20 in Literature. Before I could get over the excitement of this surprise win, the second award arrived from the Literoma group in the form of the Literoma Nari Samman 2020 Award in the field of Literature again. While I couldn’t make it to the TSM award venue in person, the pre-planned trip also made me skip the grand Literoma Award function held at the New Town Library, Kolkata. A friend of mine accepted the trophy, medal, and certificate on my behalf and it is only today that I can hold it in my hand basking in the glory of this success. Women’s Day for me became a day of double celebration this year as I won these two prestigious awards as a female Indian author in the field of Literature.

Literoma Nari Samman Award 2020
Literoma Nari Samman Award 2020

These awards help me stay motivated in my chosen field of creative arts. They give me encouragement on days when the sky outside the window overlooking my workstation feels gray. Thank you TSM group and the Literoma group for appreciating and awarding my work. All the love poured in primarily because of my debut Detective Thriller ‘Deal of Death’ that established me as an author (you can purchase a copy from the link here). Heartfelt gratitude to my readers for choosing to be a part of my writing journey. It is now time for me to go back to reading, working on more assignments and continue creating content with a purpose in mind and stronger determination in the heart.

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.

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.”