Book Talk Series – What Women Write

And just like that, March is over and we’re back in the doom and gloom situation of the second wave of Covid and lockdown here in India. I seriously hate this frigging virus. I don’t like cursing, but I am cursing the life of this cursed virus at this point. Go die already!! Ok, I have vented. Breathe in, breathe out..woosa..woosa..inner peace..

March is celebrated as International Women’s Day and I decided to read books written by female authors to celebrate this month πŸ™‚ At first I thought I might have trouble finding only women authors to read, until I realised that my bookshelf was brimming with books written by women! Wow..:)

So I read a mix and mash of genres and keeping up with the tradition of this book talk series, here are the books I read by female authors and this is what their writing made me think about πŸ™‚

Talk about breaking tropes and gender stereotypes and writing a breakthrough book that has a diverse set of characters and is masterfully crafted fantasy mixed with science fiction!! One of my favorite reads of March – Andrea Stewart’s writing reinforced my beliefs in fighting against gender stereotypes in the world of writing and literature πŸ™‚

On the opposite end, we have writers who spoil it all. Who ensure that the female author cliches will remain and who will ensure that women will only want to read about fluffy subjects, food and being eternally confused about the man they are supposed to like. Forget about the serious subjects like abandonment by family, or dealing with a toxic relationship, or talking about religion and the tensions around it, or the work that comes with starting your own business. According to this writer, life can just be glossed over. Utterly disappointing read. The premise of the book shop was the only saviour in this book for me.

Talk about getting better and better with each book you write! Talk about literally growing up with your book and the character of your book! Did you know that Sarah J Maas wrote the first book in this series when she was just 16??!! Impressed. Also, I just loved the fact that we have this ass kicking heroine who also has a string of hot men helping her out in each book πŸ˜‰ I mean if James Bond can have a new heroine in every movie, why not Celeana Sardothien!? You go girl!

It takes so much courage and strength to become completely naked in front of strangers. To lay your soul bare and talk about your deepest fears and your darkest secrets? To talk about abuse and dealing or not dealing with it? To call yourself out and to call the society out for making women feel guilty for the abuse they go through. For making us feel that changing our bodies can make things better for us? I was as usual blown away by her honesty.

It was about time that us women defended our romances and started questioning everyone who looked down on us for reading romance or ‘chicklit’ (ugh I hate this term), why they think this doesn’t count as reading or writing? Have you read romance novels lately? Most of these stories take about friendship, supportive families, realistic and relatable characters, characters dealing with realistic issues – and a lot of important things written in a manner that will leave you with a smile at the end. Why are people so wary of love and friendship and laughter? I’m so thankful to Rachel Lynn Solomon for saying that aloud through her character Rowan, in this book πŸ™‚

And finally, this non fiction collection of essays written by a Muslim Indian female author about what it is to be Muslim in the world and in India in the polarised times we live in today. I learned that she and I have so many similarities in terms of the cultural ceremonies we have, or our religious learnings/texts or the food we prepare during festivals. If there are so many similarities, why is there this stigma of ‘otherness’ added to people of this faith? What will it take for the world and India to be truly inclusive and secular?

Have you read any of the books above? If yes, did you think about the same things I did, or did you have different questions or thoughts in your head? I’d love to discuss any of the books above if you’re interested, in the comments section πŸ™‚

#10MIN10DAYS Challenge – Day 10 : Crow

And just like that, we’re on the last day of the challenge. My prompts are still not over though, so hopefully, I will be able to write and publish three more stories or scenes here to practise my writing πŸ™‚

I was sitting in my balcony, sipping my morning cup of coffee, when a loud caw disturbed my peaceful morning routine. I looked up to see a large gray black crow perched on the ledge in my balcony. I thought that was strange, since I was sitting in the balcony and the birds never perch if a human being has occupied the space. They always wait till we clear out. But this one, he, or maybe she was a she, I wouldn’t know, but she kept sitting there, cawking. Suddenly, she turned her neck, and I could have sworn she looked straight into my eyes.

It was an unnerving thing, to look straight into the eyes of a crow. Those intelligent, obsidian eyes. But I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She wasn’t beautiful in any sense. Her voice was coarse to the ears and she had the most dull colours when it came to her feathers. But those eyes, I could feel myself losing in their dark depths. Who was this crow?

The next thing I knew, it was night and I was still sitting in the balcony, my coffee cold and untouched. I felt disoriented. I stood up, and marvelled at the fact that there was not a single ache in my body, having dozed off the entire day on that hard chair. I stretched my arms out and decided I’ll go to the doctor tomorrow. It wasn’t natural to just sleep or faint for an entire day.

It was then that I heard the click of the door , and some loud noises, that I couldn’t quite make much of. It was then that I turned around to see my pale dead body still sitting on the chair. It was then that I opened my mouth to scream, but instead heard myself caw.

I hope you enjoyed this story. If you did, do share and comment on my blog πŸ™‚ Now, as tradition for the #wordshare prompt requires, here is my word for other writers who want to try their hand at a short story – DREAM πŸ™‚

#10MIN10DAYS Challenge – Day 9 : Surf-wars

Nope, you haven’t missed the stories for the previous two days. I just haven’t been able to come up with something to share here yet. I’ll get on to those, once I finish today’s story. Can you believe it? The penultimate day of this super fun challenge!! πŸ™‚

Roshni decided to wing it. She wasn’t afraid of the ocean, and actually loved the feeling of the salty water dripping from her skin and her surfboard, every time she tackled a wave and came back up. She loved surfing. But this competition was far from over. She knew she could take the newcomer down, but his skills were really good and so far they had been neck to neck with their scores. When the whistle blew for half time, she decided to get to know her formidable opponent a little better.

“You don’t look like you’re from the coastal areas and yet your surfing skills are superb!”, she said, a little breathlessly, as she tried to run up towards the tall, pale guy.

He looked at her with an arched eyebrow and a not quite there smile and said, “That was probably the best Darcy opening line I’ve ever heard anyone say. And you’re not even a guy. ” When she looked even more confused, he elaborated, “don’t tell me you’re not a Pride and Prejudice fan. I just meant, I couldn’t figure out if you were actually giving me a compliment back there, or being racist, just because I’m pale skinned.”

Oh dear, she really had said that, hadn’t she? “Oh gosh, I’m really sorry. If its any consolation, I’ve been told multiple times that I have the world’s worst conversation skills. I really didn’t mean it like that..”

His smile deepened at her discomfort, but he let her off the hook by saying, “well, you are sort of right to be curious. My home is full of Birch trees and you wouldn’t see a body of water with waves this magnificent anywhere close to the place. But that’s the beauty of internet. One look at a video of a surfer, when I was ten years old, and that’s literally all I could dream of. So yes, the colour of my skin is genetics and geography probably, but my skills with surfing is hard earned.”

“I can see that, but I’m going to beat you nevertheless. Just wanted to know who my formidable opponent was today. I’m Roshni by the way.” Roshni extended a hand towards him.

“I’m Daniel.”

In five minutes, the whistle blew, and they were back, dancing with the waves, each trying their best to win the competition.

#10MIN10DAYS Challenge – Day 6 : The Truth Is..

The truth is, I betrayed him. I had promised him everything – my love, my soul, my body, my honesty, my loyalty, my friendship, my support. But in the end, I betrayed him. It wasn’t for lack of trying. I had given him ten years of everything, until everything wasn’t enough. I used to believe, that love was bottomless. Maybe love was, but life wasn’t.

The truth is, I betrayed her. When she left me, I thought I couldn’t bear it. I thought I couldn’t love again. She had promised me her life, but she reneged on her promise when she died. She broke my heart and I couldn’t even blame her. I couldn’t blame anyone and I felt unmoored. The black hole of my grief and anger threatened to eat me alive, had I not stumbled upon her, on that rainy night, waiting to be rescued. It took me one look into her big brown eyes to fall in love all over again.

The truth is, I thought I would die that night. All I wanted was to be loved and to love. But it seemed like no one had the time for me. They wanted a play thing, but not someone to love. I had tried so hard but in the end they left me alone when they left for their country. They didn’t know what to do with me, so they just left me on the streets. I would have died of cold and hunger, had it not been for him that night, saving me from the rain. Bringing me back home with him. I loved the warmth of his home and his heart. I fell in love with him instantly, but I was afraid. Afraid of being left alone again.

But the truth is also this, that it has been two years now, and I’ve grown up. Middle aged now. And he never left my side. I know he misses his wife, he loved her deeply. I try to comfort him on his worst nights. But I’m a furry creature after all. Of flesh and blood but not of his kind. Every time I put my paw on his knee, I wish, for him to find love again, for him to meet another woman, who will fill the other half of the void in his life with the love that he deserves.

#10MIN10DAYS Challenge – Day 5 : Hearts

I signed up for the #10MIN10DAYS challenge hosted by a very talented writer and friend, Tammy. You can check our the original challenge and her writing blogs here.

It was an beautiful sound, the sound of the Stag’s beating heart, against the silence of mine. I could hear nothing, save the life coursing through the Stag. The moonlight gave the forest a black blue afterglow, but I didn’t need it to see where I was going. I may be blind, but my other senses compensated well enough for my lack of sight.

As I ran, the leaves rustled beneath my cloak. To others in the forest, I might sound just like a misplaced gust of wind. This happens in the forest. Nevertheless, I had to be quick with this one. I had to be stealthy. There were people looking for me – both earthly and ethereal.

The Stag was the most sought after animal in this forest. I know the humans grew up on stories of mythical creatures with great power – like the Dragon, the Phoenix, Sesh Naag – the hundred headed serpent, Unicorns, and what not. It was the best kept secret of our world, but now it was under threat, since that traitor had given up the power of the first Stag. The first kill. That had shattered the fine balance between our worlds.

Children from both sides were disappearing, or being born with abnormalities. I knew what caused this, but the others didn’t. Especially the clueless humans. But I had to save them from themselves. From their own cruelty.

I ran faster, I knew the Stag was afraid of me. It was right to be. We were even more mythical than the others. The ones who had no face, and no name. We were dangerous and could kill with the stealth of the deadliest assassins and could take any form we desired, if we were in danger. I was one of the last few of the dwindling race of the Vinaashis.

I pounced on the Stag and and put my fingers on its temples while whispering softly, “shhh..its going to be alright.” With that, like a breeze, I exchanged our hearts. Its alive, beating heart, with my non beating one.

“Go to sleep my dear friend. This will keep you safe until I return.” and with that, I disappeared into the night.

#10MIN10DAYS Challenge – Day 4 : Sweet Summer

I signed up for the #10MIN10DAYS challenge hosted by a very talented writer and friend, Tammy. You can check our the original challenge and her writing blogs here.

Each day she will give us a prompt and we have to set the timer and create something with that prompt within 10 minutes. I decided to try my hand at free flow writing or flash fiction using the daily prompts, to practise my writing. As for my accountability, I will try and post each day’s output on my blog. I would love to hear feedback from you, if you choose to read it πŸ™‚

Shine on summer sun, sing on sweet son

Your song makes me smile, and that’s surely a great sign

For your father has trouble these days

Making sense between sane and insane

Let me savour, this special sight

Of you serenading, before I say, good night

#10MIN10DAYS Challenge – Day 3 : 10 Things About Today

I signed up for the #10MIN10DAYS challenge hosted by a very talented writer and friend, Tammy. You can check our the original challenge and her writing blogs here.

Each day she will give us a prompt and we have to set the timer and create something with that prompt within 10 minutes. I decided to try my hand at free flow writing or flash fiction using the daily prompts, to practise my writing. As for my accountability, I will try and post each day’s output on my blog. I would love to hear feedback from you, if you choose to read it πŸ™‚

  1. Work was relatively relaxed today
  2. I woke up feeling less refreshed than usual. I felt like I could have slept more.
  3. The day was hot and it made my palms and feet sweat. I don’t like that about my body at all. I wish there were palm socks like there are socks for feet. I must be the only person who wears socks in summers, because I hate the feeling of wet feet and palms and if I’m in an air-conditioned room, then my wet feet and palms become cold as ice.
  4. I made lemonade and cold coffee today. I love drinking these two non alcoholic beverages when its a hot day.
  5. I finished reading two great books today. One, a non fiction on body positivity and another a romance novel on audiobook. I felt very accomplished and full of positive thoughts after reading these two books
  6. I also listened to some old classic rock songs – I just died in your arms tonight, being one of them. It made me smile and jive and reminiscent of my younger days when I would sing along to these songs in a dimly lit loud pub with my friends, drinking cheap but chilled beer and snacking on fried sausages and fries.
  7. I walked nearly 5KMs this evening, because I had to practically keep up with the three four year olds under my supervision, my daughter and her friends, as they ran around playing catch and treasure hunt with each other. Whew!
  8. My husband and I moved one of our indoor plants closer to the natural light. Looking at all my plants gives me such joy these days. I’m new at this, but I obsess just like a new mom, about the well being and growth of my plants. Are they watered well, are they yellowing, are they getting enough sunlight? I cant wait till my balcony set up is complete with a table, chairs, fake grass and fairy lights, so I can spend some parts of my day there with my plants.
  9. My daughter said she wants to be a ballet dancer when she grows up. This is her third choice of profession, after wanting to be a princess and a superhero. I hope she gets to be all that she wants to be
  10. I decided to just write this list today in my ten minutes for the prompt, since I ran out of time to be able to build a story around these ten things πŸ™‚

So, how was your day today? Do let me know ten or just one thing that stood out for you today in the comments πŸ™‚

#10MIN10DAYS Challenge – Day 2 : Right Now..

I signed up for the #10MIN10DAYS challenge hosted by a very talented writer and friend, Tammy. You can check our the original challenge and her writing blogs here.

Each day she will give us a prompt and we have to set the timer and create something with that prompt within 10 minutes. I decided to try my hand at free flow writing or flash fiction using the daily prompts, to practise my writing. As for my accountability, I will try and post each day’s output on my blog. I would love to hear feedback from you, if you choose to read it πŸ™‚

Right now, I’m wondering where is everyone? I was told this place would be packed! Am I at the right place? I open my device and check the coordinates, the date and the time, just to be sure I am at the right place. Yep, all seems to be checked out. So why aren’t there any people around?

I start walking to investigate this strange situation. I had waited for an hour, before deciding to investigate. Sometimes people can be like that here, I was told. They’d set a time but turn up late. That was normal. So I had waited. But there were still no people. Hmm..

I have walked for about fifteen minutes already and have not come across a single person. I did come across some stray dogs, who had jerked up their heads when I neared them, and looked at me expectantly. What did they expect from me, I wondered. It was surely very hot here. But I was wearing weather appropriate clothes, so it didn’t bother me. I could ask the dogs where everyone was, but that might take longer to translate, so I decided to move on.

It was bizarrely quiet too. I had read it would be very noisy. I took off my specially designed earpieces just to be sure. Strange, very strange. It was really quiet. The wind blew the dust around my feet just then and the leaves on the trees rustled. But there were no birds. Nevertheless, I was thankful for the movement from the dust and the little sound that the whoosh of the trees made. It made me feel less alone.

It was almost like a scene from one of those zombie movies they had made me watch in preparation for this trip. But zombies didn’t exist here, yet. Not in this timeline at least. So where was everyone?

It had taken me a year to travel to this place though. What could’ve happened in such a short while? I decided to use the knowledge base to check the news. Ohhhhh….ohhhhh!! They were all here. Only hiding, I realised. Holed up, shut in under some sort of lockdown. And that too of their own volition! I had been right, it hadn’t been the time for the zombies yet. But this virus was familiar and unfamiliar at the same time and they weren’t ready for it. And then I sneezed. Dang, I muttered to myself, as I saw a message pop up on my device.

INCOMING MESSAGE: ORDERS TO QUARANTINE ON PLUTO BEFORE RETURNING TO PLANET CURIOSIX.

#10MIN10DAYS Challenge – Day 1 : One Man’s Trash

I signed up for the #10MIN10DAYS challenge hosted by a very talented writer and friend, Tammy. You can check our the original challenge and her writing blogs here.

Each day she will give us a prompt and we have to set the timer and create something with that prompt within 10 minutes. I decided to try my hand at free flow writing or flash fiction using the daily prompts, to practise my writing. As for my accountability, I will try and post each day’s output on my blog. I would love to hear feedback from you, if you choose to read it πŸ™‚

Day 1 Prompt

One man’s trash can be another man’s cash. Or should I say another woman’s?

We met in the elevator one afternoon. She was trying hard to hide her tears, but only a woman notices these things. “Are you alright?”, I asked.

“Yes, sorry, I didn’t want to create a scene.”, she spoke softly, between small sobs.

Its easy for a woman to talk to another, especially when she has gone through something almost every woman experiences one way or the other. Over a cup of hot chocolate that I insisted I paid for, she told me her story. They’d met at work, and she smiled when I rolled my eyes, not speaking out what I meant to say – another office romance?, oh please!

Yes, they met at work, and she was the smartest accountant in her team. She was single and always volunteered to help others in the team out. She worked overtime, for free. If you had a family, you could bank on her to take up your workload, so you could be with your wife and kids. And she wouldn’t ask for anything. He had noticed this, and her brilliant mind. He had praised her every time she helped him out. He said he had family – an ailing mother he needed to take care of. She did a lot of work for him. But in the end, he was the one who was promoted. She never suspected, how. They became closer. Until one day, she received a rude call from another woman.

“What an asshole.”, I muttered.

She had waited an entire month in the solitary darkness of her apartment, feeling used and rejected like a tissue paper, until she found the courage to walk to his door demanding an apology. Only, that didn’t go as expected. He had slammed the door on her face saying he had guests and family over and he couldn’t do this now.

“Im glad we met. Because that guy works for me and I was on my way to his house for a dinner party he was hosting for the bosses. Also, I think I’d like to take you out for more than coffee next time,” I said, with a wink, that I hoped would convey to her, what I wanted to say.

Books to Movies – My List #2

Heylo beautiful people!! So, I just finished reading two more books that were made into movies, and watched the movies after reading the books too. I have done a part 1 of this post, so if you are interested in reading some more of this, you can check out my post here. πŸ™‚

So, here is part 2 of my list of what I thought about the movies that were based on these books that I read πŸ™‚

Book: Simon Vs The HomoSapiens Agenda by Becky Albertelli / Movie: Love, Simon

Ok, I loved both the book and the movie. The book is different from the movie in the sense that it doesn’t just focus on Simon, but also on Leah, his sister and the ending is different from the movie. But nevertheless, the acting in the movie, and the choice of cast could not have been better. I loved everyone in the movie and I felt the same mushy feeling at the end of the movie that I felt at the end of the book. I would recommend both the book and the movie to everyone out there- also, it is not necessary you read or watch it in any order- I think it will be worth it πŸ™‚

Favorite Song from the movie soundtrack : Troy Sivan’s Strawberries and Cigarettes song- to die for!!

Book: Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman / Movie: Call Me By Your Name

Its unusual for me to find out about the book from the screen adaptation. Usually, I read the book and later find out that it might be made into a movie or a series. With this however, one day while I was mindlessly scrolling through YouTube, I found a song by Sufjan Stevens, featuring two very handsome and talented actors – Timothee Chalamet and Armie Van Hammer. I dug for more and found out that the song was from a movie. Then I dug some more and found out that the movie was based on a book! So I went ahead and instantly bought the book and read it. I loved the book and the story. There was some sexual content that felt was a little explicit for my own comfort, but otherwise the story and especially the setting in the book – an idyllic summer with a talented and artsy Italian family in Italy, seemed heavenly. Then I watched the movie and oh my goodness, I loved the movie even more!! The soundtrack, the acting, the cinematography, the fact that the movie stays so true to the essence of the book – everything was superb! I loved it and the songs stayed with me for a week and have become a recent favorite πŸ™‚ I cried at the end of this movie, but they were good tears πŸ™‚

Favorite song from the movie soundtrack: Mystery of Love by Sufjan Stevens πŸ™‚ (I love all the three songs by him in this movie actually, but this one is my favorite)

Have you seen any of these movies or read the books? What were your thoughts? πŸ™‚