Category Archives: Guest Post
Does Love Still Exist?
By Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar author of Love Comes Later
St. Valentine may be horrified by the cherubs touting candy, flowers or jewelry. The overemphasis of eros, or romantic love, may have merged out of rampant marketeering. Between Christmas and Easter, after all, is a lot of retail silence. In modern society, with women marrying later, and partners divorcing earlier – not waiting for children to grow up – does love still exist?
I had a great idea in 2009; I would write a book about how a modern person with traditional values would find love. I didn’t think this would be so difficult. After all, I’d managed to resist the pressures of my own South Asian culture until the spinsterly age of 26, when, as my father put it, “to find a good man who would make a commitment to me” even if he wasn’t Indian.
Fresh from an unlikely, whirlwind romance in the desert, I sat down to explore in fiction the difficult choices facing young Qatari men and women amongst the myriad dilemmas of love, choice, honor, and duty.
The Qatari characters were based on a meld of dozens of stories I knew of real people; but the insertion of a South Asian girl into the love triangle was all my own.
I put Abdulla, the male protagonist, and Sangita, the unexpected loved interest, in a small London apartment. And waited for sparks to fly. In a Disneyesque-romantic genre, move, they were on a countdown; three days.
But nothing was happening. There they were; young, attractive, in close proximity, and I couldn’t believe that they were falling in love. All the elements were there but the emotions were missing.
I started asking everyone: “How do people fall in love?”
My older Indian friends were surprised.
“Didn’t you have a love marriage?” They asked me, products of the arranged marriage system. “Don’t you know?”
“Seems so long ago,” I muttered, well out of earshot of my husband.
“I loved your book,” another friend said. “I’ve never known what love is…” she said, with a dreamy look in her, having been arranged to her husband.
“It’s all the same after a while,” I said to her dryly, watching our husbands on their mobile phones while we mothers ran after our children.
“But how can they fall in love,” I asked my Qatari friends, growing desperate for realism as the book entered a seemingly endless cycle of revisions.
“She has to be hot,” one of my male beta readers said, in all honesty.
Chemistry. Right. I forgot that part, somehow, settling into comfortable domesticity.
Abdulla and Sangita did eventually find their way in the story. The sequel to the book is in progress and explores an equally murky area: what happens after the spark? Are the chances for survival of ‘falling into’ love greater?
I grew up with the idea that no, falling in love did not guarantee romantic success; making allegiances between well researched partners was stacking the cards in your favor. My parents’ anti-falling in love argument was the 50% divorce rate in America.
We’ll see what happens for Abdulla and Sangita as they try to grow their spark into a fire to heat their home.
What do you think? Do you fall in and out of love? Or do you choose to love?
Winner of Best Indie Book Award, Romance, 2013
Semi Finalist, Best Novel, eFestival of Words, 2013
Finalist, New Talent Award, Festival of Romance, 2013
“…a deliciously tangled plot and insight into life on the Persian Gulf.”
Blurb: When newlywed Abdulla loses his wife and unborn child in a car accident, the world seems to crumble beneath his feet. Thrust back into living in the family compound, he goes through the motions—work, eat, sleep, repeat. Blaming himself for their deaths, he decides to never marry again but knows that culturally, this is not an option. Three years later, he’s faced with an arranged marriage to his cousin Hind, whom he hasn’t seen in years. Hard-pressed to find a way out, he consents to a yearlong engagement and tries to find a way to end it. What he doesn’t count on, and is unaware of, is Hind’s own reluctance to marry.
Longing for independence, she insists on being allowed to complete a master’s degree in England, a condition Abdulla readily accepts. When she finds an unlikely friend in Indian-American Sangita, she starts down a path that will ultimately place her future in jeopardy.
The greatest success of Rajakumar’s novel is the emotional journey the reader takes via her rich characters. One cannot help but feel the pressure of the culturally mandated marriage set before Hind and Abdulla. He’s not a real Muslim man if he remains single, and she will never be allowed freedoms without the bondage of a potentially loveless marriage. It’s an impossible situation dictated by a culture that they still deeply respect.
Rajakumar pulls back the veil on life in Qatar to reveal a glimpse of Muslim life rarely seen by Westerners.
About the Author: Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a South Asian American who has lived in Qatar since 2005. Moving to the Arabian Desert was fortuitous in many ways since this is where she met her husband, had a baby, and made the transition from writing as a hobby to a full time passion. She has since published seven e-books including a mom-ior for first time mothers, Mommy But Still Me, a guide for aspiring writers, So You Want to Sell a Million Copies, a short story collection, Coloured and Other Stories, and a novel about women’s friendships, Saving Peace.
Her recent books have focused on various aspects of life in Qatar. From Dunes to Dior, named as a Best Indie book in 2013, is a collection of essays related to her experiences as a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf. Love Comes Later was the winner of the Best Indie Book Award for Romance in 2013 and is a literary romance set in Qatar and London. The Dohmestics is an inside look into compound life, the day to day dynamics between housemaids and their employers.
After she joined the e-book revolution, Mohana dreams in plotlines. Learn more about her work on her website at www.mohanalakshmi.com or follow her latest on Twitter: @moha_doha.
For a good friend of mine, the day all writers love– release day–has come.
*cue fanfare and confetti*
A big fat congratulations to Annabelle Blume for her latest release, OLD FLAME–a New Adult Contemporary Romance with Roane Publishing.
As part of the release day festivities, I have wrangled Ms. Blume into stopping by the blog for a visit. (Go me.)
In her novella, the main character, Hannah, has a bit of an unhealthy obsession with her ex, James — so I thought it would be fun to pick the authors brain a bit about that aspect of Hannah’s personality.
Here’s what she had to say:
I was in college before the advent of social media. The internet had just started to take hold in mainstream American life. I was actually annoyed freshman year because professor demanded we sign up and use our free university-hosted email accounts to contact him. I’m pretty sure I muttered something to the effect of, “Like I’m ever going to use that.” Only rich old dudes had cellular phones. They were the size of Rhode Island and could only make and receive calls, usually for the hefty sum of $2 per minute. Chat rooms existed online, but not a lot of people I knew were participating. Oh, and you had to plug your computer modem into a phone jack to access the internet. Yes, really. Imagine how that went when you shared one phone line in a house with 5 other people.
It was a simpler time. (I’m not old, shut up!) There were a few instances where I made a mix tape for a guy I had a crush on, or what have you, but nothing extreme. We cried, we lamented, we mourned when our relationships went bust. Pints of ice cream were devoured and Sarah McLaughlin sold millions of albums. But without modern technology at our fingertips, no way to see where your ex was “checking in” or profiles to follow, it took a very, um, special, kind of person to keep tabs on their ex. I was not one of those kinds of ex-girlfriends. When we were done, we were DONE. I never got back together with a single ex, not that there were many, but you get my point.
That’s why it was so much fun, and slightly scary, to write Hannah. Imagining what it would be like to date today, with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and so on… is mind-boggling. Frankly, it’s a miracle more young people don’t get lost in obsessive behavior when it comes to their ex. Or do they?
Sounds like the idea for another story to me 😛
Here are all the details on Old Flame, the first in Annabelle’s Hearts Aflame Files series.
Genre: New Adult Romance (Contemporary)
Publisher: Roane Publishing
Keywords: Romance, New Adult, Contemporary, Novella, Series
Blurb: Hannah Sullivan has spent the past three months stalking her ex-boyfriend, lurking in the bushes and hiding behind fake social media personas, convinced she can eventually rekindle the love they once shared. But when she meets Marc, who is everything James never wanted to be and more, she begins to wonder if she’s got it all wrong.
Hannah must come to terms with her own demons before she can decipher between her delusional mission the man of her dreams.
About the Author: Annabelle is a best-selling Romance and New Adult author, that is, when she’s not checking homework or begrudgingly cooking dinner. Wife, mother, and creator of alternate worlds, Annabelle has a penchant for that which is outside the norm.
Her degree in Sociology has given her the ability to construct worlds that exist only in her head and translate them passionately to the page. The time spent studying individuals, interpersonal relationships, and particularly, women, within the constraints of our society led to Annabelle’s unabashed ability to talk about sex as it fits into our modern lives.
She’s also the author/personality of The Bombshell Mommy at Vitacost.com where she helps modern Bombshells and their families live “green”.
I cannot begin to tell you all how excited I am about today’s post. Not only do I have a fantastic guest for the day, but she is here to celebrate the release of her debut novel, Eye of the Soul, a story I can say I saw in the birthing stages, and have been watching grow, and rooting for ever since.
Big congratulations to Terri for reaching the Release Day milestone. Looking forward to many more. She really is a fantastic author, and you can see my 4.5 Star review of Eye of the Soul on Goodreads HERE.
Now that I’ve had my fangirl moment, here is Terri to talk about why she writes fantasy (my favorite genre) in the first place. Take it away, Terri!
Any stay-at-home mother of three little ones knows the importance—the NEED—to escape. For some, it’s through paranormal or romance novel which I do thoroughly enjoy reading. When it comes to writing, though, I want a true escape into the recesses of my imagination, the worlds made up of fairy tales, dreams, and magic.
It all started when I was a child and picked up Chronicles of Narnia. To a farm girl with three brothers who lived twenty miles from civilization, the idea that a magical world with talking animals lay beyond a wardrobe door filled me with wonder—and curiosity.
Needless to say, I checked every closet I could find. Reaching toward the back, I wished and prayed for my hand to encounter snow. Unfortunately, I never found that magical world beyond our own.
Some time in my teens I realized fairy tales are just that. Make Believe. I decided they might not be real life, but that wouldn’t stop me from day dreaming and putting those dreams onto paper to share with others.
So why fantasy? For me, because it instills a childhood sense of wonder that all too easily falls to the wayside in the everyday trials of true life. And, don’t we all need a little taste of long-lost wonder every once in a while? I know I do.
How about you? Where does your escape lie?
Terri started writing stories in the 8th grade, when a little gnome whispered in her brain. Gundi’s Great Adventure never hit the best seller list, but it started a long love affair with the fantasy genre.
Today she enjoys an escape to Middle Earth during the rare ‘me’ moments her two young daughters allow. When not potty training or kissing boo-boos, she can be found on her back patio in the boondocks of New Hampshire, book or pencil in hand.
* * * * *
Let’s take a moment to have a look at Terri’s fantasy novel, the first in the Pool of Souls series, EYE OF THE SOUL.
EYE OF THE SOUL
by Terri Rochenski
Series: Pool of Souls #1
Publisher: J. Taylor Publishing
Release Date: October 7, 2013
Book Blurb: Escape.
That should be Hyla’s first thought as her people are chained and imprisoned for no imaginable reason.
Instead, Hyla finds herself traveling through a land void of Natives, with human soldiers pillaging in desperate pursuit of her, and in search of the mystical Pool of Souls—home to the one man who can save her people.
Or so she believes.
Led by her faith in the deity Fadir, Hyla is met along her journey by Jadon—a human male and fierce King’s warrior, and his childhood best friend Conlin—one of the few Natives aware of his Fadir-given Talents.
Protected by Jadon, guided by Conlin, and with an unfailing belief in the purpose of her pilgrimage, Hyla carries on.
Like her, though, another searches for the Pool, and should he gain access first, everyone she loves, and everything she knows, could be lost.
* * * * *
As part of the Blog Tour, Ms. Rochenski and J. Taylor Publishing are hosting a big Rafflecopter giveaway.
To get in on that, just visit this link, since I can’t host Rafflecopter on wordpress. RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY
A HUGE thank you to Terri for coming by for a visit today. Make sure you all go grab a copy of her novel! It really is a MUST READ.
Could You Give Up Your Independence For Love? Guest Post by Julie Belfield (@Jabelfield) #blogtour #Eternal
In celebration of Independence Day here in America, I thought it would be sorta fun to lasso UK native author, Julie Belfield for a guest post on the basic theme of Independence. Ms. Belfield, always a good sport, readily agreed to stop in and share her thoughts on independence as it relates to her upcoming release, Eternal.
Without further ado and delays, I present you with Ms. Julie Belfield.
COULD YOU GIVE UP YOUR INDEPENDENCE FOR LOVE?
Well, could you?
How about if that loss of independence was what kept you safe?
I’m talking about paranormal romance, of course.
I mean, a human woman meets a supernatural dude and suddenly finds herself thrust into a world where she’s seriously weaker than most she encounters … it would a dangerous situation to find yourself in.
And if said supernatural dude is worth his salt, he’d do his damnedest to keep you safe.
But just how much of the reins would you be willing to hand over to him when it came to protection? To lay that amount of your trust in one person would undoubtedly strip away a little of your independence, right?
But what if that was your best chance of staying alive?
What if that was the only way you could stay with the one you love?
It wouldn’t have to mean flinging yourself into his arms like a damsel in distress at every sign of danger. It wouldn’t have to mean being locked in a padded cell to avoid all possible self-damaging situations. Nor would it mean never seeing the light of day again, or being denied the right to pick up heavy boxes, or being refused time in the kitchen lest you break a nail, or answering the front door should somebody call, or getting to go shopping and spending quality time with friends or family …
However … just supposing you’d become the only female, living within pack of male werewolves who would go to the ends of the earth to protect you like the prized gem you are?
Meet Jem Stonehouse. I’ve just described her life. Yet, somehow, she’s still happy.
Could you be?
Or would living by rules you didn’t get to make drive you nuts?
Happy (belated) Independence Day to all the American folks, by the way.
Makes you want to add the book to your Goodreads TBR pile right this second, doesn’t it? Well, what are you waiting for? Here’s the LINK — DO EET!
Thanks for visiting with us, Julie, and much success with the new novel in the Holloway Pack series.
You can learn more about Julie Belfield, and her fabulous books on her website.
It was our first Mardi Gras since moving to the Deep South from Ohio, and I was in the midst of an epic case of culture shock. I couldn’t understand why-oh-why the wives of the parading mystic society members wore hats, heels, pearls and fur coats to a parade. It was seventy degrees outside!
We’d been to a number of parades and had a great time mingling with other average Mobilians, but on this day, one of the older, more prestigious societies was rolling. Usually the wives sit in the grandstands provided for them. We ended up next to a group who chose to watch from the street, for whatever reason.
Our kids were quite young—our daughter was one and our son was four—and very cute, which means they got a crap-ton of stuffed animals and other throws tossed their way. When we got too much stuff, we made sure to share with the other people around us. It’s an unwritten rule in Mobile that you take care of the kids near you so everyone has a good time.
The fur-coated ladies next to us had apparently not gotten the memo. They hogged all the throws and when one suggested they share, I overheard the other tell her, “No way!”
Now, what on earth does a wealthy, middle-aged woman need with several pounds of beads and trinkets that are clearly meant for children? She was so rude that I took a picture of her from the back so I could remember that moment.
She stayed with me and I began to ask myself questions: How insecure is she that she flaunts her fur coat in tank-top weather? How bitter must you be to refuse to share with a bunch of little kids? What secrets is she hiding under that coat and big hair? What is her husband like? Her poor children?
And this is where my character Julianne was born. Her mother is so preoccupied with keeping up appearances that she can’t see how dysfunctional she is and that she’s transferring it to her children, especially her gifted seventeen-year-old daughter. Add in a father who’s unplugged, a brother who’s left the nest for college, and a mentor/grandfather-type whose sudden illness turns Julianne’s world upside down, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster … or a YA book.
Back of the Book: Julianne counts the days until she can pack her bags and leave her old-money, tradition-bound Southern town where appearance is everything and secrecy is a way of life. A piano virtuoso, she dreams of attending a prestigious music school in Boston. Failure is not an option, so she enlists the help of New England Conservatory graduate Isaac Laroche to help her.
She can’t understand why he suddenly gave up Boston’s music scene to return to the South. He doesn’t know her life depends on escaping it. Julianne must face down madness from without, just as it threatens from within. Isaac must resist an inappropriate attraction, but an indiscretion at a Mardi Gras ball-the pinnacle event for Mobile’s elite-forces their present wants and needs to collide with sins of the past.
Will Julianne accept the help she’s offered and get everything she ever wanted, or will she self-destruct and take Isaac down with her?