Posted in Being a writer

The never-ending thrill!

I think most authors would agree that whether you’ve written your second book or your twenty second, the thrill of publishing day is never-ending. As a self-published author, it’s that moment when you get the email, click on the link and see your book in the online store for the first time! For traditionally published work, it could be the moment you get the call or that first copy that you can hold in your hands, and run your fingers over the name on the cover! Your heart jumps and then warms and finally feel this sense of completion – that after all those hours, days, months and even years, you finally have the final piece ready! Now, it’s just time for others to get a look at it.

I had all those feelings earlier today when my second short story got published!

A Bond Unbroken is a love story of two people forced apart by time and destiny, and their bond which continues to hold them together and brings them back. This 25 page story is perfect for a quick read and is available in the Kindle Store at http://amzn.to/1isws3s.

When I saw it up there, available for purchase, I felt everything from happiness to nervousness, and a myriad of emotions in between. So what do you feel when you finally see your book up for sale – online or at a store?

– Rishika

Posted in Being a writer

Review: The Finisher (By David Baldacci)

The Finisher Source: Goodreads
The Finisher
Source: Goodreads

Length: 506 pages

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Vega Jane is a fourteen year old Wug – one of the many Wugs who live in Wormwood. Her village is surrounded by the Quag where dangerous beasts live and beyond which, nothing exists. She lives a difficult life, working hard for every coin earned and looking after her younger brother. But Vega Jane is not like the other Wugs – she has curiosity. When circumstances force Vega to confront everything she believed to be true about Wormwood, she finds herself fighting not only the people who want to keep the truth hidden, but her own limitations as well. Forces beyond her understanding begin to make themselves known and Vega is thrown into a pit of confusion as she tries to make sense of it all. And soon, she finds that the chaos is the least of her problems. Vega Jane is put into the midst of a competition so fierce that she has little hope of survival. But Vega has seen, heard and felt enough to know that there is something that she needs to discover, a truth that she needs to unearth, and freedom that she needs to attain. Without choice or option, Vega is forced to fight for her life, and her freedom. But at the end of it all stands one question – what price will she pay for that freedom and where will it take her?

My take:

The Finisher is David Baldacci’s foray into the genre of young adult fantasy. I have read a lot of his other books and am quite fond of his stories and style. So when I discovered that he’d written something so unlike his usual stuff, I knew that I would have to give it a shot; and so, The Finisher was my own foray into reading this genre.

The Finisher has many things going for it and some against it, all dependent on how much of this new Baldacci you are willing to accept. To begin with, the style is poles apart from his usual. In fact, even the language is more Scottish and English than the usual American style. Then there’s the fact that it is a young adult book and caters to a slightly different audience than for whom Baldacci normally writes. So you can either choose to dapple in young adult because you like Baldacci or in Baldacci’s work because you like young adult. Either way, it won’t be a loss.

The story was reminiscent of Hunger Games – I’ve seen the first movie and have not read the books, but the feeling I got from The Finisher were similar to the feelings the movie evoked. So if you liked Hunger Games, you will probably enjoy The Finisher, even if not to the same extent. The story also had a lot of twists and turns, throwing things that you really would not normally expect at you, and kept going at a really good pace. There was no dull moment as such and I found myself waiting for moments when I could get back to discovering things with Vega Jane.

The character development is consistent, doesn’t go through abrupt changes that could hamper the story line, and any changes in the lives of the characters happen in a manner that is easy to associate with and seemingly realistic. I found myself hating some characters while loving others, wishing that things would go a certain way in many scenarios; and that really made the reading experience, fun.

What I especially liked about the book was the language. I found the entire Scottish and English influenced lingo charming and thought it really added to the setting and brought the story out really well. The book describes something akin to a parallel world where concepts are very normal, but their names and understandings are different. One example would be how Vega is almost fifteen sessions year old, implying that a session is a year. So while you can draw parallels, you still have to get used to the odd names for time, people, animals and other such, regular aspects of life.

On the negative side, the story starts off being a little difficult to follow. With all those new words being tossed about, it can get a bit confusing to build a clear picture. But a few pages in and that sorts itself out as you get used to the lingo and the new concepts. The odd effect of the first few pages may be exaggerated because you don’t exactly expect something like that from David Baldacci. So if you haven’t read his work previously, it should take even less time to slip into comfortable reading.

All in all, I thought that the book was really good. It flows at an excellent pace, it keeps you turning the pages with the desire to know what happens next, the language adds to the charm, and the characters pull you into their own lives, making it all very personal. The plot twists were interesting, leaving you wanting more, part of which is satiated by the rest of the story and the left has probably been left unanswered intentionally. The Finisher seems to only introduce Vega and her world and it does a great job at leaving you waiting for the sequel.

If you’ve been a Baldacci fan, then you should probably give this a shot to just see his varied sides and styles, if nothing else. If you like young adult fantasy, this book is one you should definitely read. It may not become your favorite given the many options out there, but it has its own charm that shouldn’t be missed. And if you’re wondering whether to try the genre out for the first time, regardless of your age, The Finisher is a good option to take that first step. All in all, a great, fun, fast aced read that leaves you waiting for the sequel and the movie!

– Rishika

Posted in Being a writer

ONE CHANCE BY RISHIKA S.

Booksonfire thought One Chance was a ‘fun little ride’! Will this book make your coffee break reading list?

booksonfire audioblog

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One Chance

By Rishika S.

Novella

3.5 stars

This novella is about two feuding families and the generations that suffer from the conflict. Ava and Ethan presume to be a happy couple until one day their pasts come back to haunt their marriage.

This is a novella do we aren’t going to get very much character development. Someone who reads a novella wants a “quick fix”. I almost think of novellas as a roller coaster ride at Six Flags. You go up down and then it’s over. There isn’t anything you take away from it other than “That was fun”. So, I after saying all of that, I wish this story hadn’t been a novella. I would have loved more background of the grandfathers. I would have loved to see more of Ava and Ethan’s relationship. Everything was rushed, but again that is the point, so I can’t really complain.

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Posted in Being a writer, My life!

My characters do exactly what I want them to… yeah, right!

It’s a regular day for writing – you’ve already played the scene out in your head a thousand times; you even have the dialogues planned. Something very specific is going to happen – something that only you know, something that will take the story ahead, something that’ll make one of your characters dance to your tunes.

And then that character turns around, smirks at you in a manner that’s more amused than condescending, and then does whatever it wants anyway. Hours of thought turn useless, dialogues vaporize, and your story line hangs dangerously on the precipice. But one moment later, your fingers fly over the keyboard as you try and type as fast as the words come to your mind. That is what your characters, the ones that you breathed life into, can do to you.

How often has it happened to you that you’re writing something, anything, with almost every detail penned out in your thoughts. But your character says or does something that even you didn’t expect. Plus, he or she uses your fingers and effort to make the twist come alive. You find yourself typing furiously, not sure why you’ve deviated, but knowing with scary surety that this had been the right path to go on all along.

What you get then is a story that reached where you wanted it to, and that too, by making use of the more interesting route. I guess it all comes down to the fact that people are unpredictable. Sure, they won’t do anything too out of character, but that character itself is unpredictable because of its many layers. The characters you create are people too. They may be fictional, but in an author’s head, they’re very much alive. You talk about them like they’re your friends, like their trials are real, their grief, bothersome, and their achievements, something to be greatly appreciated. You feel their pain and pleasure, happiness and despair, loss and gain. You live many lives with them – and yet, you give them a free reign to live their lives wholly.

That is the very reason your readers can associate with them – because you associate with them. And when you’re treating them like real people, do they not have the right and probability to act as per their own wishes? All you can do is see where the flow takes you.

The debate of story drives characters vs. characters drive story is an old one. I’ve seen that most of the time, I choose what my characters do. But when they choose to drive the story instead, I let them take the wheel. Most times, the results are better than whatever I could have plotted! What about you? Do you control your characters at all times? Or do you let them be the people they are and see where they take your story?

– Rishika

Posted in Being a writer, My life!

Finally… I’m an author!

It took a while, some serious self-doubt and soul searching, lots of cups of coffee, detailing, characterization, edits, and some long nights… and I finally reached my goal – becoming an author!

My first short story is a love story – the story of Ava and Ethan Russell, and a story of love, betrayal, forgiveness, and second chances. It’s called One Chance and is available for purchase in the Kindle Store at http://amzn.to/1gEyr9Y

Now, with the way I feel, there is no limit to creativity. So I’m going to be writing and writing some more!

– Rishika

Posted in Being a writer

Review: AMORC’S First Temple Degree Initiation Illustrated – The Full Version

AMORC'S First Temple Degree Initiation Illustrated - The Full Version Source: Goodreads
AMORC’S First Temple Degree Initiation Illustrated – The Full Version
Source: Goodreads

Length: 38 pages

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

AMORC’s First Temple Degree Initiation Illustrated – The Full Version is a non-fiction by author Pierre S. Freeman that describes the journey taken by the newbies of AMORC as they begin to step into a world of, as they believe, self realization and higher consciousness. There is a smaller, abridged version of the book, with this one being a more detailed account of the entire initiation process as well as its adherence to actual ancient, esoteric practices. Most of the book is written as a recollection of the process of initiation. Freeman adds to this narrative, through his commentary, an insight into what the neophytes feel and are made to feel, as well as a satirical take on why this may be so. Having been a part of the same organization for over twenty six years, Freeman brings authenticity to the book in a way that only first hand experience can.

My take:

I have read AMORC’s First Temple Degree Initiation Illustrated – The Abridged Version and have also reviewed it on this blog. I picked this book up to see if it could shed more light on many of the concepts that seemed half finished in the abridged version and I was not disappointed.

The Full Version has Freeman’s signature style of sarcasm and satire that makes an otherwise serious topic seem oddly amusing. However, it never loses its seriousness and addresses the curiosity that many people probably feel towards cults and their magnetic pull. Freeman describes, step by step, what each new member goes through in the initiation process in a simple yet descriptive and accurate manner. While reading about this process though, you are bound to ask yourself many questions beginning with a simple ‘why’. Why is it that such a simple procedure has such control over the newbies emotions and willpower? Freeman provides the answer as he explains every small detail that goes towards turning a simple step into an effective procedure. Every small detail, including the turning on and off of music is mentioned to give you a real feel for everything that the newbies feel. He also explains how, through the use of varying pitch and tone, lighting, and even costumes, the newbies are maintained in a state of mind that would best suit AMORC’s purpose of incorporating them as members. But he also continues to describe how, to an outsider, this would seem very much like a dress up party and that too one that is not very successful.

This stark difference of understanding between one who has a point of view from the outside and one who is experiencing each part of the initiation procedure explains why the newbies are pulled into the cult and how they may be affected in the years to come. Freeman also explains, in complete detail, the actual practices that have influenced the initiation procedure. With a reference to a multitude of practices, across multiple religions, Freeman explains what it is that such newbies may be in search for, and what is actually taught to them through AMORC – the two rarely match, but these newbies are controlled by the belief that they truly are.

Freeman’s knowledge in terms of the many practices that have been in use over the years is expansive to say the least. He incorporates those ideas to give his readers an understanding of the meaning behind each part of the process and given the plethora of examples and references, it is quite easy for people to understand and associate with regardless of the religion or faith that they follow.

All in all, the book takes a serious look at the procedure that sets in motion life changes for some people, but it does so in a manner that is both educational and interesting. Freeman makes clear the differences between true organizations that believe in spreading knowledge of higher consciousness and others that simply use similar tactics to gain mind control of innocent people who then become financiers for years on end. Such cults are not something to be taken lightly. And Freeman’s matter of fact way of approaching the initiation procedure gives people an insight into how transparent and hollow many of these processes are – hopefully to let people make better, more informed choices if ever faced with such a need.

If you’re a follower of everything that is related to cults or have been a reader of everything that deals with the higher consciousness and ways to achieve it, then this book is a good one to add to your collection. It may not give you tips to achieve that for which you are looking. But it will surely tell you where you should and should not turn to in hopes of finding it.

– Rishika

Posted in Being a writer

Review: Wink (By Eric Trant)

Wink Source: Goodreads
Wink
Source: Goodreads

Length: 275 pages

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Marty Jameson spends most of his days in the attic, doing whatever it is that he can to keep him there; because in the house, away from his refuge, lie his psychotic mother, drug-dealing father, and nearly dead comatose brother. Subjected to physical abuse from his parents at the slightest provocation and held responsible for an accident that resulted in his brother’s condition, Marty has almost no good thing to look forward to in life. The only one who cared for him is no longer a part of his life, with life taking its natural course; and the house that had once been his savior now breathed with an evil that remained in the shadows. But the evil made itself heard and see every night – in the very attic that is Marty’s haven in the day. That is why the twelve year old boy never ventures into that part of the house at night. With his very life at risk because of a mother whose rage episodes are enhanced by her addictions, Marty finds solace in a place he’d least expected – in the warmth of Sadie Marsh and her mother, the two who occupy the house next to them.

Sadie has seen Marty sneak into the attic, seen him bleed from his mother’s attacks, and seen his sadness. Confined to her wheelchair, she waits for hours by her window, looking out for the boy who seems to hold the only light of innocence in a house that seems to be filled with darkness. But their new found friendship is threatened by the very things that haunt Marty’s house; and the young boy is unable to accept that his bad luck and the evil that haunts him may affect wonderful Sadie and her kindly mother. But if he is to help them all, then he needs to face the demons that haunt him – both real and supernatural. And the first monster he needs to confront is the one that haunts the attic every night, the one that, every night, turns his haven into a nightmare.

My take:

When I began Wink, I found the story to be just about bearable. It regales you with the background and environment that Marty faces every day. While most of it was relatively interesting, it seemed to stretch on a bit without really going anywhere. I read on because it still managed to pique my curiosity, although not too strongly. But then it got interesting, and simply didn’t let up; finally making me go from mild curiosity to not being able to put the book down.

Eric Trant has created a character with which readers can really associate. It isn’t just Marty that you feel for, but everyone else that features in the book, however small a role they may play. His writing style may seem a bit odd in the beginning, but does grow on you, making the entire read much smoother. The only problem with that style though was in the odd shift of point of view. There are many chapters that are written from a first person point of view that come up at random moments in the book, which is otherwise written entirely from a third person point of view. The shift is a little too abrupt and takes more getting used to than the overall style of writing. Trant’s addition of chapter names, however, adds a little guidance to the change, in effect making the shift a bit easier as you get used to considering the names more than just a header.

The story itself is quite interesting, sometimes predictable, but never boring once past the first few chapters. There’s a lot happening at every turn and most of it adds to the complexity of the situation in which a simple boy finds himself. That makes the reader associate that much more with Marty who mostly carries the story himself, with little responsibility falling on the additional characters. While I wouldn’t say that the book was scary or frightening, it was definitely blunt in its narration of gruesome aspects while being intricately descriptive. That leaves you almost able to see the things that are being written about, sometimes with a clarity that can be chilling.

The idea around which the story is based is very interesting and seems like it can have more stories written around it. But I did find it lacking in depth. Throughout the story, and also towards the end, I kept hoping for more clarity and more explanation on every supernatural aspect. Also, many basic things that need to be wrapped up were left hanging, leaving me wondering just what was going to happen to the characters after the story ended.

All in all, Wink is a story that is written blatantly, depicting the good and bad for what it is without softening the blow. It may seem a bit too graphic and disturbing to some, but for those who don’t mind some graphic reading, it is a book that will make for good time spent. While I won’t say that I will be the first to buy a book that Trant writes, he is definitely an author that I could return to. And if you like fantasy thrillers, then Wink is a book that you should pick up – it may not be the best that you read, but it is in no way disappointing. What you take away in a positive light will definitely beat the few drawbacks that the book had.

– Rishika