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A Victim of Circumstances

Arti Chugpai Author Interview

Arti Chugpai Author Interview

Phoenix tells the story of Sonam and her trials and tribulations as she builds her life as a woman in India. What was your inspiration for this heart-felt novel?

I have been inspired by experience and observation. My family background has been similar, and I have closely observed the lives of urban well-educated women in India. Despite a progressive education and multifaceted skills, they are expected to conform to obsolete family norms and not allowed to make life choices. This is especially true for the year 1983, when the protagonist Sonam wants to extricate herself from an abusive marriage. Indian society then was full of paradoxes: on one hand was the evolution of a knowledge society and unprecedented technological advancement and on the other deeply entrenched dogmatic beliefs in gender stereotypes. Instead of sympathising with a woman who was a victim of circumstances, her family and friends blamed her for her misfortunes and ostracised her.

I felt that this novel confronted gender stereotypes in a bold way. What themes did you want to capture while writing this book?

I have always felt strongly about the unequal playing field provided to women, even in the educated elite class, and the perception that they are appendages to male family members, whether father, brother or husband. Why should women be accorded respect only if they have empathetic men to battle for them? This discrimination is especially difficult to combat since one is pushing against one’s parents and closest family members whom one loves and respects. Through this novel, I wanted to highlight the need to cherish and support daughters as individuals regardless of the presence and status of their life partners.

I felt that Sonam was a multilayered character that was judged by her failings rather than her success. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?

While her parents despair of what will happen to Sonam after she leaves her husband and judge her by her failure in relationship, she demonstrates exceptional skills and shines in her workplace as an achiever. Her personality growth from 1983 to 2017 despite all odds illustrates the triumph of the spirit over ostracism, bigotry, negativity and injustice. She is rejuvenated from the ashes, just like the mythical bird, phoenix.

What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?

My next book, tentatively titled ‘A Journey Within’ has a very different story though it also deals with women’s issues. The lives of 16 Indian women of varying age groups intersect when they go on an all-women’s trip to Spain and Portugal. As events unfold during and after the trip, each of them reaches a realization that changes her life forever.

Author Links: Amazon | Website

Phoenix by [Chugpai, Arti]

Caught in an abusive marriage, Sonam Aggarwal finds no family support when she struggles to break free. However, with unwavering grit, she makes a place for herself in the world and rises like a phoenix from the ashes of her dead marriage to discover true companionship and professional success. 

The evolution of a knowledge society in India that places a premium on human knowledge and skills regardless of gender finally bequeaths her a coveted place in the sun. The novel focuses on the core strength of a woman that asserts her value despite external trappings and women characters who go through their individual struggle with the inevitable challenges that threaten their existence. 

Phoenix, a novel, traces the life of Sonam and her upper class family in South Delhi from 1983 to 2017. It highlights the curious paradoxes in Indian society: its global leadership in digitalization contrasted with antiquated prejudices and gender stereotypes.

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Phoenix

Phoenix, written by Arti Chugpai, tells the story of Sonam Aggarwal and her trials and tribulations as she builds her life as a woman in India. Sonam is a complex character with beautiful soul, intelligence and integrity. Her presence demands authority, and as the Director of Publishing for a branch in India, she has certainly earned respect and accolades. However, there is a part of her that is broken by a moment in her life that she explicitly calls “The Betrayal”. Her family and friends judge her by her relationship failings rather than her career successes, leaving Sonam feeling lost and alone. Will Sonam be able to rise above the stereotypes and convictions of her family and friends to find true happiness?

Phoenix is a novel based on love, life and conforming to gender stereotypes. It’s the year 1998, and there’s a budding romance growing between a middle-aged business tycoon by the name of Kunal Vats and the main leading lady, Sonam Aggarwals. Set in India, Phoenix explores Sonan Aggarwal’s life through her ever-changing family, relationships, career aspirations and friendships.

The story then flits between two different eras of Sonam Aggarwal’s life, one part telling her life as it is in 2017 and the other turning back the clock to the year 1998. It’s here we learn about her life and the changing family dynamics and reoccurring expectations that seem to haunt Sonam, no matter how old her or her family members are.

It was refreshing to read a novel based on someone who is aged between their 40’s-60’s. Most modern love stories center around young adults in their twenties and Phoenix was a gentle reminder that age is no barrier when it comes to pursuing love and happiness. I enjoyed the sense of realism as the characters experienced a love that did not always result in happy endings. Instead, Phoenix dove deep into a raw and personal kind of love, where abuse, betrayal and forgiveness are all prominent players in the relationship game.

Phoenix also explores the events of Sonam’s life so thoroughly that at times you feel as though you are almost reading a biography of a real person. The novel also went into depth to showcase some of India’s culture, including foods, family life and working conditions. Arti Chugpai’s style of writing is confident and expressive, using strong descriptive words and phrases to demonstrate their points within the plot line. Fitting, considering the main character Sonam is a publisher herself.

Phoenix also brings to light the society changes and gender differences in India, and how things change over a period of time. It shows the difference in expectations between men and women, especially when it comes to love and relationships. Women are considered to be successful if they maintain a healthy, happy family, with their career aspirations and achievements often shadowed by the relationship, falls they have had in their life.

I would recommend this for anyone looking for a novel about budding romance, rising above the gender stereotypes and Indian culture.

Pages: 232 | ISBN: 1543701043

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The Language that Gives Command to Universe

Floyd Williams Author Interview

Floyd Williams Author Interview

In The Book of Self a Thesis on Energy and How it Interrelates you touch upon many things, but one thing that stood out for me is the idea of sound and color being a language. How did you come across this idea?

How I came across the idea and came to embrace it, was through ruminating over life along with the functionality of that, which comprises life. All sacred texts or teachings speak of or allude to universe being created by command such as: “let there be light.” And what scientists refer to as,”the big bang.” Light, colors, and sound are entirely based on vibration. The vibration is the language that gives command to universe. All that there is and will be moves in respect to vibration forming what we refer to as creation.

The Book of Self: A Thesis on Energy and How It Interrelates urges on the importance of following one’s intuition. Why do you think this is important today?

Intuition is more than a phenomenon. It is divine communication, which I liken to the wireless anatomy of the mind; giving expression to “follow your first mind.” More importantly intuition is never wrong. And when intuition is not followed the consequences never fail to evoke regret or to be adverse. Intuition must be followed today to save life as we know it and to get it to be what it should be. Intuition must be followed for individual peace on a personal level; so the individual can live with themselves and for peace to reach a collective global level. We must remember the outside is only a reflection of the inside.

I think you illustrate how to properly treat life as the gift it is. What is one common misconception you think most people have about life?

Number one misconception is that life is hard. Life itself is not against anyone. Life becomes hard, when we go against nature.

Author Links: Lulu | Amazon

The Book of Self A Thesis on Energy and How it Interrelates, is all about revealing man’s full potential and power, as well as, enhancing one’s relationship with self, and the planet. This can only be accomplished through an understanding of energy. The word self, when it is used entails all of life seen or unseen. So, in The Book of Self A Thesis on Energy and How it Interrelates the oneness of life is asserted. The higher mysteries of life are made simple and plain.

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With Angel’s Wings

With Angel's Wings by [Collins, Stephanie A.]

With Angel’s Wings, by Stephanie Collins, is one mother’s raw and heart-wrenching account of her life with two daughters with special needs. Written as a third-person account with name changes, the author describes each and every obstacle encountered as she struggled to come to terms with her daughters’ challenges while simultaneously dealing with a long string of physicians, specialists, and therapists. Laura, as the author calls the young mother, fights an uphill battle from the moment she is told her days-old infant has a heart defect–the first of many. While facing a seemingly unending barrage of personal hurdles, Laura somehow learns to cope with the endless physical and emotional demands placed upon her family by tiny Hannah’s diagnosis of Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome.

This author’s life story as a work of fiction is almost indescribable. I do not believe I have ever read a book that kept me as breathless and as anxious as this one. Laura’s laundry list of traumatic events ranging from her newborn’s purple feet and hands to her seizures lasting for hours on end is mentally exhausting to read. Her life is so full of twists and turns and drama surrounding Hannah’s diagnosis and subsequent health scares, the author has no need to embellish with flowery language and lengthy stretches of narrative. There is, literally, no room or time left to dress up her text. This book reads as a journal of heartache peppered with true love.

Collins is honest and open with her feelings about her daughters’ diagnoses. As Laura, she sugarcoats nothing. As strong as she is, Laura reveals her vulnerability as an overwhelmed young mother. The reader aches to watch her contemplate, time and again, a way out. Her frustration as a parent fighting her way through the healthcare system is one with which many readers will be able to relate. In addition to her day-to-day battle with fevers, seizures, hospital visits, and mounting financial woes, Laura faces the virtually indescribable audacity of an ex-husband who lacks not only both sympathy and empathy but a soul, as well.

As a parent and a teacher, I have never read a more authentic and touching account of life as a mother or a more revealing account of what caring for a child with special needs truly entails. Emily’s early signs of autism hit home with me as a teacher. No one knows the struggle of helping a child on the autism spectrum like a parent. Laura begins accommodating for Emily’s needs long before her diagnosis. She modifies, plans, and tries to remain several steps ahead of meltdowns from early on in Emily’s life. Parents of children with autism will appreciate reading about the way Laura intricately weaves a web of plans on a daily basis to compensate for Emily’s developmental delays.

Though the book is primarily focused on the battle to save Hannah and come to grips with her many needs, the author does a beautiful job of illustrating the relationship Laura develops with Daniel. Daniel, the one shining light in her darkest days, is a rather unlikely saviour. Their love, apparent from early in their friendship, is one that only intensifies through the rigors of identifying and finding ways of successfully coping with all Emily and Hannah’s needs.

There aren’t any options for stars beyond 5, so I am restricted to giving With Angel’s Wings 5 out of 5 stars. The author’s life story, now Laura and Daniel’s as well, is an absolute must-read for any parent, teacher, or caregiver of a child with special needs. There is a love like no other born out of a relationship with these children, and Stephanie Collins has handed readers everywhere the key to unlock hearts and minds and build a better understanding of the struggles faced by many of our family members and friends who have children with special needs living lives like Laura’s.

Pages: 304 | ASIN: B01DL9AXAI

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Love is Dynamic

Steven Gillis Author Interview

Steven Gillis Author Interview

Liars follows Eric, a writer, who is struggling to write, when he becomes convinced that happy relationships are unsustainable. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this novel?

It seems at times we all feel this way, the ebb and flow of all relationships. The wondering of why we are with a certain person, or how to conduct ourselves in a relationship. Are we in the right place, is our definition of love correct or even sustainable? I wanted to explore this at the surface and work it from every angle. I began with the idea as laid out in the early pages of the novel that love is a dynamic that changes over time, for better or worse, and our perception of love, our understanding or lack thereof, is also a variable that messes with our relationships. I wanted to write of relationships from the perspective of love being fragile, mostly because we all have a tendency of fucking things up when the best thing to do is just let love and relationships evolve and carry on – or end – organically. In LIARS there is really only one character who gets this, and yet, whether or not she ends up happy, whether any of the characters end up happy or more attuned, is up to the reader to decide.

Eric is a fascinating character that only gets deeper as the novel progresses. What themes did you want to capture while writing his character?

That Eric is human and he is trying to figure things out, that his starting point is a bit skewed, he is flawed , that even his best intentions come from a confused place, that he, like everyone else, is scrambling to sustain and discover love only he is ultimately clueless as to what he is actually after. Until the very end, when you think maybe…. But with Eric that may as easily be a momentary place as well. I wanted him to be restless and not always wise in his questioning, but searching nonetheless.

Eric becomes fixated on a happy couple he meets in the market and is determined to tear them apart to prove that love isn’t real. Did you intend to explore love and relationships in this novel or did that happen organically as you were writing?

Indeed, as noted, the idea to explore love from different angles and perspectives was my intent going in. How does love sustain itself? What is love? Is it a form of freedom in which case to what extent is freedom offered, or is it a form of compromise to achieve something greater than the individual self? Is such a goal even possible? What of monogamy? Is it a social contrivance? What of open relationships? I had a lot of ideas in my head and then honestly one day at my market here in Ann Arbor I saw a couple that intrigued me for a dozen different reasons and I began to see the possibility of playing with many ideas about love through the lens of someone who views this couple and wants to test them.

What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?

I am writing a new novel now that is already under contract to my publisher. I hope to be done in the next year or so. Its a big sweeping look at our world through the prism of a single city.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Eric McCanus is a novelist with the misfortune of having written his one great book when he was young. Struggling to write more, recently divorced, while still missing his ex-wife, Eric becomes convinced that happy relationships are unsustainable. Determined to prove the accuracy of his theory, Eric stumbles upon a seemingly perfect couple at the market. Convinced the marriage of Cara and Matt can’t be as successful as it appears, Eric does what he can to break them apart. What follows is a psychological and philosophical comedy of errors. Liars is an exploration of love, relationships, and human interaction, a madcap romp through the vestiges of modern affairs, revolving around five characters, each spun drunk on the batterings of love while attempting to sustain themselves in a false world.

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A-C-T Like a Kid and T-H-I-N-K Like a Parent

A-C-T Like A Kid And T-H-I-N-K Like A Parent: What All Good Parents Need For Their Kids To Know, Learn And Understand

A-C-T Like a Kid and T-H-I-N-K Like a Parent, by C.S. Whitehurst and Katharine Shears, is a guide for preteens and teens as they enter the most difficult stages of their young lives. The authors present numerous challenging situations, looming questions, and advice for readers. Teen readers are given thorough explanations regarding basic life skills and the necessity in learning early to practice and demonstrate responsibility, showing and earning respect, and getting what they want through appropriate measures.

As a parent and teacher, I appreciate the authors’ detailed advice regarding parents’ feelings about their children. They take a close look at the way parents feel about others hurting their children and the difficulty we have in trusting others not to hurt our children. I was especially touched by the authors’ emphasis on the fact that we, as parents, do not want anyone to hurt our children and that includes the child himself. This is something I find, as a mother, very difficult to express at times.

Children, especially teens, struggle with their feelings toward their parents and question whether they truly understand them or not. Whitehurst and Shears stress that a parent, whether or not he or she has sought professional parenting advice, operates based on what he or she knows from past experiences. Helping children and teens realize that we, as parents, bring our own childhood into the parenting realm allows them to see the significance of the decisions we make–bad or good. The authors are open and informative as they explain parents’ varying strategies.

I realize that the focus of the book was effectively the parent and child relationship and the importance of understanding a parent’s point of view, but I would have liked a little more extensive explanation of the parent’s view of bullying. This is such a difficult aspect to drive home as a mother and a teacher. When children hear someone else explain the same information we have tried ad nauseum to explain, it is often more effective coming from another source. The authors have an excellent opportunity to further address this extremely relevant social issue.

The authors recognize that teens are more likely than not to encounter feelings of dishonesty, and be hit with the desire to hide their feelings and actions from parents. Part Three, Chapter 9 deals quite frankly with these feelings and helps the young reader understand the importance of growing into a trustworthy adult. In addition, the reader receives a thorough explanation of the directness appreciated by parents. In fact, the authors dedicate a great amount of their time to the concept of trust, which I appreciated greatly.

I am giving A-C-T Like a Kid and T-H-I-N-K Like a Parent is a wonderfully persuasive piece which is bound to hit home with teen readers. The authors have been careful not to write above the teen reader’s head, and they effectively touch on a variety of issues within one handy self-help manual.

Pages: 192| ASIN: B076GJLLQ4

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The Magus

The Magus (A Chronicle of Rebirth #1)

A Chronicle of Rebirth, The Magus, begins when Nelina finds herself being taken to the slavers block by her ruthless uncle who was forced to take her in after her parents die. Now he’s looking for some easy money by selling Nelina into slavery. As fate would have it, Nelina is purchased by the even more ruthless Magus of Danthamore. The Magus is popular and powerful and equally dangerous, but oh so sexy. The chemistry between Nelina and Danthamore is sudden and palpable. Their lives are quickly intertwined and the Magus finds himself taken by this green eyed beauty that many consider to be nothing more than a lucky pauper. Nelina must navigate the resentment of the staff while attempting to be more than a pawn in a deadly political game. Can she survive her new life? What will the Magus have to sacrifice for her?

This book takes care in crafting it’s characters. The protagonist and antagonist are both meticulously developed before the story takes wild twists. The writing is often direct, but the beauty of the prose is found in the details. Do the characters fall ridiculously hard for each other a bit too quickly? Of course they do, because this is a love story that doesn’t focus on how they met, but how they will hold onto what they have. What will they do to keep one another?

We get a good sense of the characters before the story takes some wild turns. You’ll be flipping pages as the story switches between the political intrigue of the kingdom and the steamy romance between Nelina and the Magus. There was one thing that I felt would have improved the story and it’s that the author’s sometimes tell instead of show. There were a few events that I was simply told about when I wish (because I can see the authors have the talent) that I was shown.

What I enjoyed most about this story is the turmoil the characters undergo after they’ve fallen for one another. You keep asking yourself, ‘how far will they go’? I think stories are often character driven, but I think this book is a relationship driven story.

If your looking for a romance novel underlined with suspense and punctuated with adventure than A Chronicle of Rebirth: The Magus is for you. A well written novel that begs to be expanded upon.

Pages: 343 | ASIN: B072511ZWY

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Blow Out Summer

Surf, party, and romance take center stage in the breezy novel Blow Out Summer, as a group of local surfers in Huntington Beach, California, enjoy a summertime of hanging out and having fun.

Their story takes place in the mid 1970s, when no one was paying much attention to the drugs being brought into California at an alarming rate. But Dee Dee’s eyes are about to be opened.

Dee Dee lives in a very well-to-do area and is introduced to social drug experimentation and drug trafficking while maintaining a normal family life. She and her friends enjoy the surf up and down the coast of California.

Her friends run the gamut from the very wealthy to beach bums she met at the pier. Dee Dee’s lazy summer is spent under beautiful sunny days with slow drifting clouds and perfect barrel waves. But the ups and downs in her relationships and the dangers of dabbling in drugs ultimately force her a decision that will change her life.

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Think… Stand Up.. & Walk Tall

Think..Stand Up  Walk Tall

Think… Stand Up.. & Walk Tall is a guide to learning self-hypnosis and meditation that will help you to learn the tools required to manage your own life, challenges, and relationships. Learn to move from the “Default Mode” into the “Divine Mode” in order to have a fulfilling and meaningful life. Ancient teachings will assist you on the way as well as compelling poetry and thought-provoking passages that will open your mind to change and development. Finally, take control of your life and unlock the secrets to enrichment and satisfaction of the soul.

Think… Stand Up.. & Walk Tall, written by Eliyahu Kelman, is a journey towards creating a life where you are in control of your reactions and circumstances.

Prepare to be immersed in a place where you feel as though the author is directly talking to you and connecting with your soul. Make sure you have some time set aside to read the chapters as the book is hands-on, meaning you will be asked to do activities or meditations to ensure your mind is in the zone. Eliyahu Kelman re-iterates the importance of “Think, Stand Up and Walk Tall” to the reader and it quickly becomes the underlying message throughout the practices in the book.

The perspective the author provides will be life-changing. It urges you to consider your own life and how each of us come with our own little handbook of who we are, how we respond and how we react. This book seeks to enlighten you on what other people’s handbooks may divulge and what to do when your own life circumstances are overcome with tragedy.  It challenges you to acknowledge the effects of your behavior on other people and how to take control of your life.

There are elements of history throughout the novel as you explore ancient times, sages and galaxies of thousands of stars and planets. You will be taken on a journey that weaves between the ancient teachings and scientific discoveries and how they actually intertwine and parallel the same teachings. The book also explores repetition and how we repeat activities or lessons in order to remember them and how the activities or thought processes found in this novel are no different. It also reminds us the importance of connection and loyalty with your friends and family and how we must all come together to work in harmony.

One of my favorite passages in the book prompts you to imagine people as universes. If you were to hurt a person, you would be hurting the universe and therefore potentially affecting everything that universe could achieve. It’s a bit of an abstract way to think about people but it is just one example of how Think… Stand Up.. & Walk Tall prompts you to alter and open your mind to different types of thinking.

I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a self-help book that will teach you the importance of self-hypnosis and meditation. Ensure you have a quiet space and time to soak up the wisdom presented through the words of Eliyahu Kelman.

Pages: 261 | ASIN: B01MUG7220

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I Hate Formulas

R.L. Tran Author Interview

R.L. Tran Author Interview

A Guardian Falls starts soon after the events of the first novel, with Mara’s betrothed recovering from his injuries after she rescued him from her father’s killer. What direction did you want to take this novel that was different from book 1 in the series?

I wanted Mara to grow as a character into the heroine everyone needs her to be. In the first book she started off as an immature teen and at the beginning of this book there are notes of that too. I had a reader tell me recently she really didn’t like Mara at the beginning of this book because she was so unsure of herself and treated Kess poorly. But as more responsibility is placed on her Mara rises to the occasion.

At the time this book was written I also did not intend to write another book in this series so I wanted to end the story. Magical artifacts and other races gave me the perfect opportunity for all out war instead of single combat between Mara and Laran. Finally, and this is a spoiler alert, I was able to take Mara’s relationship with Kess to a whole new level.

Mara doubts herself and her destiny throughout the novel, but this makes for a more realistic character. Can you relate to Mara? Was there anything taken from your life that you put into your characters?

I wrote the first draft of this novel when I was a teenager myself. I was young and awkward and I had just lost my dad. Everything I knew was changing around me. Mara mirrors all my insecurities as I navigated the end of high school, a relationship with my boyfriend (who is now my husband) and starting college. She shows my triumphs at those times as well. When you read Mara’s life in a way you are reading mine.

One thing I thought you did well was writing both in-depth dialogue scenes and epic battle sequences. How do you balance both to create an engaging narrative?

I always think of my books like movies. I see the scenes in my head and try to write them that way. For me words should never be static, they should have a life of their own. When done properly you really aren’t reading at all; you’re watching a movie in your head. I’m sure it seems crazy to some but it’s how I read books as well.

I always try to write something I would like to read and aspire to have a great fantasy series. I keep those books and movies in mind when writing and try to emulate those writers. I don’t have a formula on how I write a novel simply because I hate formulas. When I’m writing I try to keep myself intersted in a project. If I’m getting bored so is my reader. I like plot twists and action so whenever I feel the momentum in the book slow it’s time to spice it up. I always have a general plan for a novel. The question is always how I get there.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

The next novel I am working on is the next book in this series with a working title of Descendants Rising: Chronicles of the Coranydas Vol 3. I am aiming for a February 2018 release date and the fourth book should be released later in 2018. I am also writing a short story that will be featured in HallowErotica 2017 due out this Halloween. It is a first person narrative of Nisha Patel’s life before she met Alexandria Diego in For Their Sins.

Author Links: Website Blog Facebook | Twitter | Email | GoodReads Independent Author Network

A Guardian FallsAll looks bleak when Mara is forced to return home after her love’s brush with death. She only has one magical artifact and the army seems out of reach. The consequences should she fail or even succeed finally set in and Mara has doubts about everything. There will be a war of blades and magic with Mara at the center, but Mara wonders if she has the strength to survive.

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