Thursday, 12 October 2017

#BookBlast ; Children's Classic Stories Volume I - Retold by Aniesha Brahma

About the Book:
This gorgeous treasury of ten classic stories is guaranteed to delight and entertain young children, bringing the magic of traditional stories to the new generation of children. Aimed at 8-12 year olds, each favourite fairy tale or story has been sensitively retold for young readers.
The series 'Children's Classic Stories' contains total 100 stories in 10 volumes. The stories in this collection show the consequences of greed, pride, and vanity, but also tell of the love that grows from a kind heart and a cheerful nature.

Volume 1 includes the following stories:
01. Little Red Riding Hood
02. Cinderella
03. Hansel and Gretel
04. Sleeping Beauty
05. Snow White and Rose Red
06. The Emperor's New Clothes
07. Rumplestiltskin
08. The Wise Little Girl
09. Goldilocks and the Three Bears
10. Rip Van Winkle


About the Author:

Aniesha Brahma knew she wanted to be a writer since she was six years old. She was schooled in Dolna Day School and went on to pursue B.A., M.A., and M.Phil in Comparative Literature from Jadavpur Univeristy. She currently lives in Kolkata, with her family and five pet cats. She is the author of All Signs Lead Back to You, When Our Worlds Collide, The Guitar Girl and The Secret Proposal. She compiled and edited the 10 volumes series, 'Children's Classic Stories' with love and great efforts.

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Tuesday, 10 October 2017

#Spotlight ; Carry Me Home by Jessica Therrien



Carry Me Home
Jessica Therrien

Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction

Publisher: Acorn Publishing

Date of Publication:  September 26, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-947392-09-0

Number of pages: 356
Word Count: 75,000

Cover Artist: Damonza

Book Description:

CARRY ME HOME is a fictional novel inspired by the true story of a teenage girl’s involvement in several Mexican gangs in San Jose and Los Angeles. The members of her crew call her, Guera, Spanish for “white girl” and it doesn’t take long for her to get lost in their world of guns and drugs.

Lucy and Ruth are country girls from a broken home. When they move to the city with their mother, leaving behind their family ranch and dead-beat father, Lucy unravels.

They run to their grandparents’ place, a trailer park mobile home in the barrio of San Jose. Lucy’s barrio friends have changed since her last visit. They’ve joined a gang called VC. They teach her to fight, to shank, to beat a person unconscious and play with guns. When things get too heavy, and lives are at stake, the three girls head for LA seeking a better life.

But trouble always follows Lucy. She befriends the wrong people, members of another gang, and every bad choice she makes drags the family into her dangerous world.

Told from three points of view, the story follows Lucy down the rabbit hole, along with her mother and sister as they sacrifice dreams and happiness, friendships and futures. Love is waiting for all of them in LA, but pursuing a life without Lucy could mean losing her forever.

Ultimately it’s their bond with each other that holds them together, in a true test of love, loss and survival.

“A riveting page-turner…Jessica Therrien broke my heart into a million pieces—and then put it back together again. This book will haunt and uplift readers long after they turn the last page.” -KAT ROSS, best-selling author of The Midnight Sea




Amazon        BN       GoodReads

CHAPTER ONE
For the most part, I remember my childhood as dry weeds and dirt roads, warm sun and birdsong. The silky coat of a mare and filth of pigs in mud. Eighty acres of ranch land is an endless playground for any kid. And in those na├»ve years it was easy to ignore the beer on my father’s breath as I skipped off to fetch him another. My mother’s weepy eyes were nothing to ques-tion, because I didn’t know any better. But time chisels away that purity until there’s nothing left but truth.
Neither one of my parents is happy.
At seventeen, I’m ready to leave. The ranch of my youth is a wasteland of empty, overgrown pastures and rusting barbed wire fences. Much like their marriage, it’s tired and used up. There’s nothing left to give.
Tonight, the air feels heavy. I can smell the tension in the ever-present cigarette smoke. At first the rising pitch of their voices doesn’t bother me. I’m used to them fight-ing. But my heart seizes when I hear him yell, and when Dad’s words become a throat-scratching, red-faced shout, my sister, Lucy, sneaks into my room.
My bedroom has always been a sanctuary for her on nights like these.
She doesn’t say anything. She doesn’t have to. We just listen to the rage as it filters through the walls.
“I’m going out there,” she says.
“Lucy…”
If she were younger I’d stop her. I’d take her little-girl hand and lead her into the quiet closet like I used to, but she’s fifteen now, and there’s no stopping Lucy from doing anything.
My only choice is to follow her.
I find her frozen in the hallway, stiff-legged as a terra-cotta soldier. Mom is just as still, back pressed against the far wall of the kitchen. Dad’s bloodshot eyes are wide and crazed. Wispy pieces of thinning, grey hair have come loose from his short ponytail.
He’s pacing our living room, whisky glass in one hand, a rifle in the other.



About the Author:

Jessica Therrien is the author of the young adult series Children of the Gods. Book one in the series, Oppression, became a Barnes and Noble best-seller shortly after its release. Her trilogy has been translated and sold through major publishers around the world, such as Editions AdA (Canada), EditionsMilan (France), and SharpPoint Press (China).

Aside from her Children of the Gods series, Jessica is the author of a kid’s picture book called, The Loneliest Whale. Her award-winning stories can also be found in a published anthology of flash fiction.

Jessica currently lives in Irvine with her husband and two young sons. She is working on an adult novel and a middle grade fantasy series.





Friday, 6 October 2017

#Spotlight ; Touched by Death by T.L. Martin




Touched by Death
T.L. Martin

Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance

Date of Publication: September 1 2017

ISBN: 9780998395326

Number of pages: 362
Word Count: 105k

Cover Artist: The Killion Group, Inc

Book Description:

What if Death was more tempting than you had ever imagined?

With Grams’s recent passing and a boyfriend who cares more about his next drink than her, Lou Adaire only wants to run. To start over somewhere new — maybe in a town where her family has history.

But when a storm sends Lou’s truck plunging into Tuttle Creek Lake, she discovers exactly what it’s like to fight for your life. To gasp for air only to have your lungs fill with icy water. To die.

What comes next changes everything.

Dark eyes. Consuming presence.

Death. As vague as a dream yet as intense as the lightning flashing above her still heart.

Everything about him calls out to her, tugging at her with the warm vibration of his pull. He’s supposed to take her; they both know it. She wants him to.

When she wakes in the hospital in a new town, she can’t forget what she saw… That impossible sensation of him breathing life back into her, a strong beat playing in her chest and a flutter running down her spine.

Trying to move on with her life in a foreign place is hard enough, but when he comes back for more — his burning touch against her skin, his consuming presence weaving in and out of her life, and his own scars running far deeper than hers — Lou begins to realize there’s more to Death, and to the sleepy Kansas town, than she ever expected to find.

Lou lived. But what if she’s not the only one in need of saving?

*Note to readers: This book contains some profanity, sex, and some scenes featuring child abuse.

Amazon     Goodreads     
Excerpt:
My sweater chafes my shoulder blade, and I wince as it irritates the raw, tender skin. I hadn’t thought much about the injury since leaving the hospital, having had other things to focus on—or focus on avoiding—but now the memory resurfaces in my mind: rain smacking against the windshield, trees and darkness spinning around me, the booming crack of my window breaking, and shards of glass flying at me.
I pull my sweater off. Eyes closed, I reach an arm across my chest and over my shoulder, tracing the tips of my fingers along the thick, three-inch cut that hasn’t quite scarred yet. It’s smooth beneath the stitches. Too smooth, and it feels foreign; a piece of my body I don’t recognize. I’ve always thought scars were meant to represent strength; all this one does is remind me that I shouldn’t be alive right now.
That I’m lost.
Drifting.
My eyelids flutter open, and my breath catches at the sudden touch of strong, warm fingers moving over my own. A slow, gentle stroke glides over the wound, but it’s not from me. It can’t be. My hand is stuck, frozen in place over my shoulder blade as though not daring to move. The mirror before me proves I’m alone in the bathroom, and yet, I feel it again, the same presence I felt several nights ago. Heat radiates behind my body as though someone is standing right there.
Another stroke caresses the wound, and it’s even lighter this time, like a feather brushing over me. The feeling of skin against skin is as real as anything. I can almost hear my heartbeat pounding within my chest. The fingers move past my wound, never breaking contact with my skin, and slowly trail upward, toward my neck. Though the texture feels strong and almost rough, the touch itself is impossibly gentle, treating me like something fragile.
No matter how loud my mind screams to fight it, my muscles are relaxing like jelly under the heavy sensation. My uplifted arm drops helplessly to my side. The warm touch strokes the side of my neck, wandering up further still until it’s almost in my hair. It’s light enough to send a shiver to my toes, and my eyelids start to close on their own, my head rolling slightly forward.
The presence behind me inches closer, and I hear breaths again. Just like the other night, they’re deep and controlled, right by my ear.
I have no idea what’s happening to me. Half of me is struck with a pang of fear, unease over the impossible experience. Yet the other half can’t help but be soothed by the calming tingles running through the length of me. There’s a trust I can’t explain, like a gentle, unspoken lullaby, and I know I’m safe. The heat, the masculine touch, the warm breaths soft as a whisper that rise and fall at the nape of my neck. I don’t want to think at all right now. I just want to feel.
The caress slides back down the right side of my neck, almost skimming along my collarbone, when it stops. Draws back. I hear a hitch in the breathing, a tremble for a fleeting moment, the smallest hint of the effort it takes to pull back. Then the touch returns, but only to my scar, traveling down the length of it with incredible slowness, taking its time. As though savoring every moment of contact with me, in a way I’ve never experienced. A sigh pours from my lips, and when my head falls back, it’s caught by the solid warmth behind me. It’s real enough that I could swear I’m pressed up against the presence right now, a presence that sure as hell feels like a man—tall, strong, sturdy. The feeling is so vivid I find myself thinking in terms of him instead of it. 
A shake breaks his steady breathing again, another warm tremble in my ear, and I feel the tightness of his body rise and fall with each breath.
I’m letting myself go, relaxing every part of me until the only thing keeping me upright is his body, and as I do, the hard curves of muscle tense against my back.
Something in the air changes, and the presence behind me wavers. It’s completely solid one moment, and in the next it’s fluid, as though nothing more than a strong breeze props me up. Soon it’s not even a breeze, just a puff of air, and I’m grabbing the edge of the counter with both hands to keep from tumbling backward.
My legs wobble, struggling to support the rest of me. When I catch sight of my reflection now, my face is flushed. I let out a loud exhale when I remember how to breathe and command myself to get a grip. I’m still feeling like a sloshy puddle when I slip my sweater back on over my head and drag myself to the front door of my room, unlocking it and yanking it open.
I need fresh air like a drug right now, and I can’t stumble down the stairs fast enough. I hear Claire’s bubbly greeting when I fly past the front desk, but I don’t stop until I’m standing on the sidewalk, bending forward with my hands on my knees and soaking up the crisp winter breeze.
What the hell is happening? This can’t just be in my head. I know I’ve been a little off since Grams’s passing, but there’s no way I’d be able to dream up something so freaking real.
It was here. He was here.

Whoever he is.

About the Author:

Author of romance and paranormal, T.L. Martin is also a wife, mother of 3, homebody, animal lover, and hug enthusiast. She resides with her family in Southern California.

T.L.'s novels tend to involve the things she enjoys most as a reader: relatable and flawed protagonists, unexpected twists, slow burn romances, and a lively cast of secondary characters. (Being that she writes both young adult and new adult titles, please check individual book descriptions for any content warnings.)

T.L. is presently branching out into new adult contemporary romance!

Join her newsletter by visiting her website.








Wednesday, 4 October 2017

#Spotlight ; Avishi by Saiswaroopa Iyer




Long before the times of Draupadi and Sita
Immortalised in the hymns of the Rig Veda
But largely forgotten to the memory of India
Is the Warrior Queen with an iron leg, Vishpala

Brought up in the pristine forest school of Naimisha, Avishi reaches the republic of Ashtagani in search of her destiny. When Khela, the oppressive King of the neighbouring Vrishabhavati begins to overwhelm and invade Ashtagani, Avishi rises to protect her settlement. But peril pursues her everywhere.
Separated from her love, her settlement broken, with a brutal injury needing amputation of her leg, can Avishi overcome Khela?


An Excerpt

“I am the Queen! This will be my throne!” The seven-year-old chirped leaping from the middle of the porch towards the broken mortar which served as a mock throne. “You will be my guard!”
“Guard?” the man pondered scratching his unkempt beard. 
“No.” He shook his head and smiled seeing her indignant eyes. “I will be the Queen’s elephant.” He beamed.
Sukratu stepped out of the house to see his daughter in action, perching herself on the tramp Loha’s back, pretending in all earnestness that he was her elephant. He smiled and was about to set out for his duty as the night guard of the King. A sudden lightning appeared in the eastern skies. Sukratu had barely walked a few paces when a deafening thunder made him instinctively turn towards home. He heaved a sigh, finding Loha shielding the girl as if he would, his own child. 
“Father, don’t go.” The girl pleaded. 
Sukratu smiled and shifted his gaze towards the sky. He saw dark clouds loom over the city. The monsoon winds had started to make their presence felt. He had to reach the palace soon. “Isn’t my little Queen brave?” He called out. 
The girl nodded. He saw the fear fade. From her eyes. From her heart. She knew she was the queen! Pride filled his heart. His mind ached to stay home but duty beckoned. Tearing his gaze away from the one he treasured the most in his life, braving the drizzle that would soon turn into a storm, he unwillingly walked towards the King’s residence. Sukratu’s house was in the third ring of the concentric structure of Vrishabhavati. In the centre, was the structure, that served as the residence of the king and as the centre of all trade activity of the city. Here no wealth or goods could change hands without the king’s knowledge and approval. The residences of the noblemen formed the two rings around it. The guards and soldiers forming the outermost circle with the citizens living around them. 
As per the protocol, Sukratu approached General Ugra’s residence quite ahead of his reporting time— an hour before the moonrise. He walked into the empty courtyard. But the rain made it impossible for him to stand there any longer. He knocked at the giant wooden door fervently. The doors creaked as a strange woman clad in a dark indigo garment opened them and glared at him with a frown on her forehead. 
General Ugra, Sukratu knew was never faithful to one woman. His superior’s romantic exploits were not his concern either. But something about the woman at the door disconcerted him. “Please let General Ugra know that…”
“He has already left for the palace!” The woman frowned before attempting to shut the door. 
“What? How ca…” Sukratu’s words hung in air as the door slammed on his face and the woman disappeared from his line of vision all of a sudden. Something did not feel right. He knocked at the door again. Firmly this time, as though seeking answers. Any change in the reporting time would have been announced the day before and he remembered that nothing of the sort had happened. His knocks went unanswered. Frowning and muttering under his breath, Sukratu hurried towards an empty cowshed three houses away from Ugra’s place hoping to catch his companions who he knew would be equally surprised. 
The first to arrive was Khela, the eighteen-year-old guard, holding a metal shield above his head. The newest addition to the King’s guard, Khela was related to General Ugra and Sukratu felt that his position in the King’s guard was largely a result of undue favours that Ugra showered upon an otherwise impudent boy. 
“Sukratu! By the great Varuna, I should have come to you earlier!” Khela hurried towards him. Pausing for breath, he added. “Our platoon has been given a relief tonight! It was a sudden decision and I personally informed all the others.”
“Relief for tonight? That happens only when…”
“Our guarding hours change from night to day!” Khela completed in a hurry. “Now, come with me.” He turned towards the western direction and the javelin he held started to sway dangerously and came close to grazing Sukratu’s arm. 
The older guard’s instincts made him dodge the cut. “Where?” Sukratu hissed, visibly annoyed, first with the fact that he was kept in dark about the change in guarding hours and then about Khela’s irreverent behaviour. “And watch who your weapon hurts, boy.”
Khela shrugged and changed the position of his weapon. “We are now going to the place.” He winked, stretching his hand in the direction. “Follow me, this is the only night we get to have some fun.”
Sukratu did not move. The place he knew implied the tavern where wine was served. “We cannot drink tonight, Khela. When do we have to report tomorrow? By sunrise?”
“You ask too many questions. The rest of us are there too!”
“That does not answer my question.” 
“Well, I don’t know, and I don’t care to. The palace is paying for the wine. Are you coming or not?” 
The last sentence sounded more like a threat than an invite. Sukratu had all the mind to give the youth a piece of his mind and storm back home. His daughter would be overjoyed to see him before she went to sleep. It gnawed at Sukratu’s heart every day to leave her under the care of Loha— the tramp who had begged him for shelter about six months ago and then became a part of his life. The girl liked him instantly and had begged Sukratu to let Loha live with them and he, despite his misgivings about the tramp’s origins and his unkempt appearance, could not refuse his only daughter. Over time, Sukratu felt grateful for Loha’s company. Now his daughter did not have to be all by herself every night. The guard’s home would have been unguarded if not for that stranger. Sukratu brushed aside these thoughts and had almost decided to go home when the thought of meeting other senior guards and clarifying the confusion struck him. He followed Khela’s lead, making no attempt to hide his displeasure. 
When they reached the tavern, Sukratu to his dismay, found many of his brothers in arms deeply drunk. “When did they reach here and when did they…”
“Quite some time before. I just forgot to tell you in advance!”
Sukratu’s eyes scrutinized the men and women of the tavern who were serving wine to the guards. There were no other citizens or travellers in the tavern. 
“Just for us, the whole night!” Khela said as if reading his thoughts, bringing him an earthen goblet. 
The older guard accepted the goblet taking his first sip with a sense of foreboding. 
“Where were you all the time, old friend?” The voice belonged to Tunga one of the senior guards in the platoon. 
The grin on his friend’s face brought a smile to Sukratu’s lips. “Tunga, what is this about the sudden change in our guarding hours?” 
“The King… that imbecile, has finally remembered that we are human too!” Tunga guffawed, emptying his goblet, waving vigorously at a woman of the tavern who obliged with a seductive wink. 
She approached them, skilfully distributing her attention between both the men, winking at Tunga and pouting her lips at Sukratu. Her brows rose at Sukratu’s filled cup. “Don’t keep the Sura nor this Sundari waiting, my love...” Serving Tunga his wine, she placed her fingers upon Sukratu’s shoulders, digging her nails into his skin for a moment locking her gaze with his and turned around swiftly, letting her light upper garment rest on his face for a fleeting moment. 
It was a wilful invitation and Sukratu knew it. His attention though was caught by the colour of the garment. The Indigo hued garment! All the women of the tavern wore clothes of the same colour. So did the woman he saw in General Ugra’s house! Was Ugra at home while the woman lied that he was at the palace? If the General and the whole platoon of the night guard were lying down drunk, who was minding the security of the King? Sukratu looked at the rest of the guards. No one seemed sober enough to talk. The only sober man Khela had disappeared!
“By the great Varuna!” Sukratu exclaimed aloud and rushed out, pushing the woman who tried to stop him away. 
He raced to the King’s residence, as fast as his legs could carry him. The huge wooden gates of the structure were closed and secured from inside. The rain lashed drowning his cries. Misgivings regarding the King’s welfare made him shudder. He had to meet General Ugra. Something told him that the General had his own reasons to send the whole platoon of guards to enjoy a drunk night. He was a guard who had sworn to protect the King with his life. The general owed him an answer. Sukratu rushed to General Ugra’s house determined to confront him. 
That, Sukratu realized was the biggest mistake of his life. 
At the gates of the general’s residence he saw a familiar figure hurrying out of his house, a heavy bundle on his shoulders. “General Ugra!” he called out, feeling relieved. 
The figure started, and the bundle fell to the ground. Sukratu came to a sudden halt as he realized it wasn’t a bundle after all, but a blood-drenched corpse. A stroke of lightning from the sky revealed the face and the very familiar greying curls. Sukratu froze for a long moment before he could speak.
 “K... King...”
Something hit him on the head even before he could utter the name. Sukratu staggered, reeling at the impact, clutching at his long sword in a vain attempt to defend the next move. 
“Finish him!” The General shout behind him. 
Before he turned around, Sukratu felt the cold metal tear into his back. Lightning struck revealing the contours of the person. Khela! The javelin stabbed him again. Thunder drowned his screams. Falling to the ground with the weapon still stuck to his back, Sukratu lifted his sword and managed to slash Khela’s palm though the latter, unlike him was vigilant and alert. Crawling away from the menacing duo, knowing very well that he could not last more than a few moments, Sukratu’s thoughts, went to his innocent daughter. She would now languish as an orphan remaining in dark about the monsters who killed her father. Or would they kill her too?
Sukratu would never know.

About the Author:
Saiswaroopa is an IITian and a former investment analyst turned author. Her keen interest in ancient Indian history, literature and culture made her take to writing. Her debut novel Abhaya, set in the times of Mahabharata was published in 2015. Avishi, her second novel set in Vedic India explores the legend of India’s first mentioned female warrior queen Vishpala.
She holds a certificate in Puranas from Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. She is also trained in Carnatic Classical music and has won a state level gold medal from Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. 







Tuesday, 3 October 2017

#BookBlast ; Lean in to Relationships by Rishabh Jhol

About the Book:
Doubt has pivoted many a relationship across the centuries. Whether it is Othello suspicious of Desdemona or through the rise of paranoia as a trope in twentieth century writings. While paranoia naturally suggests the vulnerability of individual mind to social rhetoric, it is also the space for deep interrogation of the individual that renders him/her to paranoia. This novel presents that doubt has the potential to be a space of liberation.

Madeeha works in Jordan to rehabilitate Syrian refugees. Zehen, a political analyst from India, meets her in the US during their social impact program. He is intrigued and charmed by her, and falls deeply in love. But the world political climate, with its accompanying cultural narratives about terror and pain, infects Zehen’s mind. Zehen begins to suspect Madeeha as a possible mujahid. Will he find his truth?

Fear doesn’t devastate; it stirs the inner pot. It is a tender love story that triumphs heartbreaks and sets the foundation of deep lasting future relationships - a delightful emancipation from social intrigues and cultural constraints.



Read an Excerpt:

Zehen was experiencing sweet joy in his heart. Memories bustled in the head.

When did he first see her? Zehen searched his head madly. Orientation session? Corridor to the classroom? However, he tried, he couldn’t pinpoint the moment. A whirr of images, of moments, yet-to-be collaged. And a heart that already had a narrative, waiting to be inset.

We imagine that all romantic stories will have a sigh-worthy romantic beginning. But beginnings are when the heart awakens, when the soul remembers. A presence stills and emerges from the shadows of time.

His first memory was when she introduced herself in the class. They had gathered at Presidium University for a one-year course on Social Impact Leadership. Outside, the white fringe tree was laden with its grape-like fruits. The pine, oak and spruce waited for winter to tell the world how unchangeable they were. And the old Redwood stood proud like the institution itself. Inside, in the warm classroom, students from various cultures across the world had gathered. Icebreaker session was on and the usual round of introductions.

Introduction is a ritual. A cumbersome ritual. How does one reduce the tapestry of one’s entire existence, the colors, and the many weaves into a single palatable thread?


The Book is Free on Amazon on 29th & 30th September. Grab it here: Amazon

Anecdote

I published my first book in 2015 and my second book in early 2016. I was single at the time and using dating apps to meet other single people. I met a girl in mid-2016 who took fancy to my dating profile, especially that I am an author. After a couple of meetings, She demanded that I write about her. I jokingly told her that I am a Phoenix writer, i.e., I fall in love, get dumped, and write about my failed relationship. She broke-up with me, and still invariably pings whether I am including ‘her and our relationship’ in my upcoming book(s).

———————-

The genesis of this book came about while I was on a cross-country train ride in the US. I met Mark who had been a successful marketing professional with considerable international marketing experience. He had travelled to all of Asia and understood the regional peculiarities.
He was later diagnosed with lung cancer. By the time, it was detected, it was stage 3. He was put under radiation and intensive chemotherapy. He went in for three other opinions. All of them agreed that the cancer was aggressive and spreading fast. He searched for the latest treatments and sought to enter clinical trials. The process lasted for two years.

In the meantime, the cancer advanced. The doctors said the cancer was incurable and he didn’t have long to live. It took him weeks of denial to come around to the truth – he didn’t have long to live.

He returned home from a long walk one evening and asked himself a crucial question: “If I am going to die, then I might as well die straight away. What is point of waiting for death to show up?”

That evening he ate well, watched a movie with his girlfriend, poured himself a rare scotch and sat at his study. It was time. He wrote out his letter – love and wishes to his family, loved ones and friends, his last wishes about funeral, information on his will, and a general note thanking all. He placed it in an envelope. He planned to kill himself early morning. He finished his scotch, brushed and went to bed.

In the middle of night, he woke up to a noise. The light was on in the study and he could hear sniffles. He walked cautiously up and there in the study, his girlfriend was holding his suicide letter and crying. He watched her as her body crumpled and sink into chair. Her face contorted in agony. In her face, he saw what was the consequence of his action. The penny dropped.

I paled and listened in horror. Mark continued, “I realized that our life is never ours. We are nothing but a bundle of emotions for the people who love us and the people we love. The meaning of life is to optimize for the happiness of such people. There’s nothing more to living.
That day on, I have been living for maximizing the happiness of my loved ones”

That’s how I stumbled on lean in to relationships; it has become my life philosophy.


About the Author 

I was born into poverty. At the time of my birth, my parents shared a one -room hut with six other family members in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Delhi.

It was a hot day in the month of March 1995. I was in standard 4th and had an examination the following day. As was regular in that locality, we didn't have electricity that day. I couldn't study or sleep properly. One of the watershed moments happened when I came back from school the next day. We had an inverter installed at home. I knew we couldn't afford an inverter. But my dad was always convinced that the way out of poverty for our family is through education. 

Despite an interest in creative writing, I chose to study a subject that society values more – Finance.  Later, I got into one of the top colleges for finance in the country. My first salary out of college (in 2007, when I was 20 years old) was higher than that of my dad's salary at the time.

When I was 24 years old, I had everything that makes one happy – loving parents, great partner, close-knit group of friends, and career path that exceeded every goal. Yet, I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t sad either; but it never felt like my life. I had carefully and meticulously built that life though. Contextually, it was the safe thing to do.

Following year though, I had to deal with the loss of my 7 year old relationship and of my 5 year old job. My identity was crushed. My biggest lesson was that you can fail at what you don't want, and what you consider safe; you might as well take a chance at what you truly want.
Next year, I got my ‘ideal’ job but walked away from it. Failure had taught me to be more ambitious and audacious. I had reached a point in my life where I wanted my work to have more meaning; and to stand for something more important than myself.

I started a political consulting company to maneuver social ascendance of marginalized communities by equalizing access to political capital.  I primarily did topical research for MPs for their debates in the parliament and on TV shows.  Partial project list includes:

1.   Providing 108 rape survivors with medical, legal, financial, and social support over six months through one of my client's NGO
2.   Getting amendments passed in the communal violence bill that tackle systemic bias towards Muslims
3.   Helping three social entrepreneurs raise a combined total of INR 43 lakhs from their MP for community initiatives

Along with running my own company, I focused on my passion for writing and traveling as well.  I solo travelled to all seven wonders of the world, and did two-cross country trips by train in India and in the US.  I have also written and published three fiction novels.








#Spotlight ; Halloween is Murder by Carolyn Arnold




Halloween is Murder
McKinley Mysteries
Book 11
Carolyn Arnold

Published by: Hibbert and Stiles
Publishing Inc.

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Pages: 154
Word Count: 38,534

Release Date: October 3, 2017

Book Description:

Beware of all that goes bump in the night…

Sean and Sara McKinley are excited about the haunted house they’ve set up as a Halloween charity fund-raiser, but things take a ghoulish turn when the reporter covering their story is found dead. With the media keeping mum about how she died, Sara’s curiosity is piqued, and she convinces Sean to take on the investigation through their PI firm.

But this case is not without its challenges. The police are actively investigating it, as well, and it’s not even clear that the woman was murdered. It will take a little cloak-and-dagger, dress-up, and finesse for the McKinley’s to get to the bottom of it, but they aren’t the kind to give up.

As they troll for leads and work through the skeletons in the reporter’s closet, they unearth a few suspects, but they’ll need to carve out the whole truth if they’re going to find her killer. If they do so fast enough, there might even be time for a little trick-or-treating.


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Excerpt from chapter 8 of Halloween is Murder (McKinley Mysteries)

Chapter 8

STUCK BETWEEN A GRAVE AND A TOMBSTONE

SARAS HEART RATE TICKED UP a few notches at Marie’s assured conclusion that someone had killed Chloe. She could feel Sean staring at her, but she refused to look at him. She knew that his eyes would be telling her not to get attached to investigating this case. Besides, he had said they could look into Chloe’s death more, which hadn’t been a commitment, she knew, but she’d taken it as his word. Even a little investigating was a step in the direction she wanted to go. And just because she had a gut feeling about Chloe’s death didn’t mean she’d lost all objectivity.
“Why do you think someone killed her?” Sara asked.
“It’s just… None of this feels right.” Marie picked at her purse strap, its fabric frayed and threads poking out. Probably a nervous habit of hers.
Sara gave Marie the once-over. For someone who lived in a nice neighborhood, Marie’s clothing and accessories didn’t speak of wealth. It also didn’t seem Chloe’s sense of style was a trait her sister shared.
“And why doesn’t it feel right?” Sean, a skeptic if ever there was one, pressed.
Sara looked over at him. It didn’t seem to matter how long they worked together; he would never fully cave to the weight she put on intuition.
So much for rubbing off on the people you spend the most time with…
“The police talked to me at length,” Marie said, “but they didn’t ask the types of questions I would have expected if they were treating it as a murder.”
“Like what?” Sara asked.
“I thought they would have asked who would have had reason to kill her, for one.”
“We spoke with Jackson—” Sean started.
“Yes, I know,” Marie cut in. “That’s how I got your information.”
“Then you know that he was held for questioning.”
Marie nodded. “I do, but he didn’t think they grilled him very hard, either.”
There was only so much law enforcement could do without cause. Still, they could have held Jackson for longer than the time it had taken them to question him. By law, they had up to twenty-four hours to hold him without filing a formal charge.
“And Chloe’s health was excellent. We have no history of disease or people just—” Marie averted her eyes “—dropping dead in our family. Our grandparents lived into their eighties on both sides. Now, our parents are both dead, but they were in a car accident.” She added the latter part quickly.
“Do you have any other siblings?” Sara asked, though she only remembered reading that Chloe had a sister.
Marie shook her head. “It was just…” She cupped the sides of her face and pinched her eyes shut. Tears squeezed out from the corners, falling down her cheeks without apology.
A knot balled in Sara’s chest, and she took a shallow breath. She was getting too caught up emotionally—again. And taking on the grief of others wasn’t healthy. At least so far with this case, she’d managed to stuff the feelings deep down inside. But she’d be lying if she said she didn’t fear that one day they’d bubble to the surface all at once.

What to Expect from the McKinley Mysteries

Romance. Humor.Murder. Are you looking for a murder mystery without all the graphic violence and foul language? Something that you can enjoy in an afternoon and walk away feeling good about afterward? How about a dash of humor and romance? If so, meet former detectives Sean and Sara McKinley. When a billionaire leaves them all his money, they no longer have to work, but they find themselves sticking to what they’re good at—solving murders. Undercover, off the books, and around the world, they’ll get to the bottom of things…and romance it up along the way.

About the Author:

CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international bestselling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series—Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures—and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.

Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.

Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.

She currently lives just west of Toronto with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime.

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