Thursday, May 16, 2019

Spotlight:: 'Her Prince Charming' by Sundari Venkatraman

Genre: Romance

It’s instantaneous attraction when Tanuja Bhatia from Delhi meets Raj Malhotra from Bombay at the Bombay Central Station.

The mutual attraction soon blossoms into love over the next couple of meetings. 

Tanuja and her simple father fail to see the crisis brewing in their own home. Her not-so-nice stepmother Gurinder is totally against the idea of Tanuja meeting her Prince Charming which would make her step-sister Harpreet seriously envious. By the way, Harpreet’s main aim in life is to simply make her half-sister miserable. 

While Raj’s parents and Tanuja’s father try to arrange a marriage between the two with a help of a mutual friend, the evil stepmother comes up with a plan of her own—to marry her stepdaughter off to Sonu, a good-for-nothing idiot. 

Can Her Prince Charming lift Tanuja out of this life of drudgery and boredom and give her the happiness she deserves?

*A prequel to THE MALHOTRA BRIDE, this book is also available in paperback in India.

Read an Excerpt:

Tanuja stood at the entrance to
the bogie, guarding the luggage as the train slowed down to enter Bombay
Central Station, excitement in her heart as her eyes devoured the sights. It
had been a long time since the Bhatia family had gone on a holiday, all
together. It had always been her stepmother and her half-sisters who went on
bi-annual trips, leaving Tanuja and her father at home. But, of course, both of
them appreciated the peaceful times while the other three were gone. In fact,
Tanuja considered those interludes the best holidays ever.

Just before the train stopped,
she caught sight of a tall man in pristine white trousers and half-shirt, holding
a placard which read, ‘Talveer Bhatia’. Her charcoal black eyes went wide when
they met the dark brown of the man’s bold gaze, a soft blush tainting her
cheeks before she turned away to address her father who was standing behind the
three suitcases. “Papa, the car driver’s here, I think. See that man over
there,” she pointed a slim index finger in the direction of the man as her
father craned his neck to look out, “he’s holding a cardboard placard with your
name on it.”

Talveer nodded his head at his eldest
daughter, a soft smile on his tired face. “Let’s get the luggage out,” he said,
watching Tanuja get off on to the platform. The father-daughter duo shook their
heads at the porters who offered to take their luggage as Talveer handed the
suitcases one-by-one to Tanuja.

“Have you got all the suitcases
out?” asked Gurinder in her usual harsh voice, a frown on her face as she
glared at her step-daughter and husband.

“Yes, aunty,” said Tanuja, taking
the large bag that Gurinder was holding in her hands, before helping her out of
the train.

Harpreet and Jaspreet giggled as
they watched their plump mother struggle to step down onto the platform, not
bothering to help her. They each held a tote bag carrying their make-up
articles and other fancy stuff which they naively believed were absolute
necessities in Bombay.

Talveer lifted his head to see
Raj Malhotra walking in their direction with the placard, waving to him. “I’m
Talveer Bhatia. Are you the driver who has come to pick us up from Malhotra

“Yes sir. My name is Raj,” said
Raj, shaking Talveer’s hand, forgetting that drivers may be considered too
menial to shake hands with customers who hired cars from their company, his
gaze taking in the family of five even as it lingered for a few seconds longer on
Tanuja’s beautiful face.

Gurinder glared at him. “You are
the driver who will be driving us to Mahabaleshwar?”

Haanji ma’am.”
Apni aukat mein raho. What’s with the shaking hands? Can’t you do a
namaste? Kyunji,” as she frowningly glanced at her husband, “can’t you tell
the man that instead of shaking his hand?”
Tanuja felt highly embarrassed by
Gurinder’s harsh words. What was wrong if the man had shaken her father’s hand?
Why did her stepmother have to shout for such a trivial thing?
Before her father could open his
mouth, the driver said, “I’m sorry, ma’am. Please forgive me. It won’t happen
Gurinder looked the man up and
down before ordering, “
Chalo, take
all the suitcases and let’s go to the waiting room.”
Without asking a question, Raj lifted
two heavy suitcases in both his hands before turning in the direction of the
first-class waiting room. Tanuja bent down to take the third one, giving him a
shy nod, a small smile touching her lips. Her mouth had the appearance of a
rosebud to the man who walked ahead of her.
It took the Bhatia family about
an hour to get ready. Raj waited patiently as he read the day’s newspaper
before Talveer walked out from the men’s waiting room. Tanuja was the first to
get ready and she also walked out to the platform on seeing her father. She
couldn’t help being fascinated by the handsome driver as she studied him from
the corner of her eyes from time to time, not saying anything while she watched
her father chat with him.
“I am also from Delhi, Talveerji,” said Raj, answering the other man
when asked.
Talveer smiled widely. “I did
wonder about the accent,” he said, patting the younger man on his shoulder.
They chatted some more about
their hometown but mainly in Hindi. “If you are educated, how come you are
working as a driver?” There was curiosity in Talveer’s dark gaze as he looked
up at the driver who towered over him by many inches.
Raj was careful enough to speak
English exactly the way his drivers spoke. Shrugging, he said, “I am setting up
my own business.” Okay, it was a slight variation from the truth as his garment
factory was already set up and running smoothly. But he couldn’t very well tell
the client that. “In the meanwhile, this is a good way to make money, without
having to work under someone.” It was with difficulty that he managed to keep
his gaze on Talveer Bhatia and not let it stray to the young woman who, he
presumed, must be the man’s daughter. She was simply too beautiful for words.
Talveer nodded his head
vigorously, thoroughly approving of the other man’s sentiments. “So what
business are you setting up?”
“Manufacturing of garments,
ji.” No, he had no plans to
tell them the magnitude of his business, that he had invested almost ten lakh
rupees and only twenty percent of the total had been raised through a bank
loan. The rest was entirely from his own savings. Raj had slogged from the day
he arrived in Bombay five years ago. He had refused to use his father’s money
and had earned his own money starting from scratch. He had led a comfortable
life but it wasn’t half as luxurious as the one he was used to at his home in
Delhi. He had converted all the leftover money to gold. When he began
purchasing gold in 1971, six months after he moved to Bombay, the price for ten
grams had been less than Rs. 200. Over the last five years, the price had risen
dramatically to Rs. 540. He had also persuaded his father to buy small
bungalows in Mahabaleshwar and Matheran.
So, at the age of twenty-six,
where a lot of young boys are still whiling away their time, Raj had set up his
very own garment unit. And there was also the flat that he had purchased in
Matunga, where he lived now.
Talveer nodded, even as his eyes
kept turning towards the women’s waiting room, wondering about his wife and
daughters. He looked at his eldest born and said, “Tanu, why don’t you go and
find out if everyone is ready?”
Theek hai, Papa,” said Tanuja in a soft voice before walking
towards the waiting room, her steps dragging. As if the three of them would
“Madam, it would be nice if you
could tell them that we have to travel for eight hours before reaching our
destination.” Raj called out to Tanuja’s retreating back.
She stopped in her tracks,
wondering if she had heard right. Had he called her ‘madam’? She turned around
with a smile, her cheeks dimpling when her gaze caught his dark one, a dark
wing-shaped eyebrow raised in query. “Were you talking to me?”
Ji! It will take us eight hours to reach Mahabaleshwar,” said Raj,
looking into her black gaze and rapidly found himself drowning in them, unable
to stop the answering smile on his face.
Why was he addressing her as if
she was fifty years old? Tanuja realised that she didn’t like it at all. But
then, she didn’t want to say anything in front of her father. She nodded her
head before turning away from him to continue towards the waiting room door.
After ensuring her father’s gaze
was turned away from him, Raj looked at her retreating figure encased in a
salwar kameez which faithfully hugged
her slender body. She could have passed off for an
apsara from heaven, he thought. 

Grab your copy @

About the author

Sundari Venkatraman is an indie author who has 42 titles (38 books and 4 collections) to her name, all Top 100 Bestsellers on Amazon India, Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada and Amazon Australia in both romance as well as Asian Drama categories. Her latest hot romances have all been on #1 Bestseller slot in Amazon India for over a month. 
Even as a kid, Sundari absolutely loved the ‘lived happily ever after’ syndrome as she grew up reading all the fairy tales she could lay her hands on, Phantom comics, Mandrake comics and the like. It was always about good triumphing over evil and a happy end. 

Soon, into her teens, Sundari switched her attention from fairy tales to Mills & Boon. While she loved reading both of these, she kept visualising what would have happened if there were similar situations happening in India; to a local hero and heroine. Her imagination took flight and she always lived in a rosy cocoon of romance over the years. 

Then came the writing – a true bolt out of the blue! And Sundari Venkatraman has never looked back.

Click here to check out all the titles by the author...

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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Q - Quick Self-edits: Authors' Tips A to Z of Writing

Dear readers and writers,

If you are reading the post series for the first time; in this series 'Authors' Tips - A to Z of Writing', eight authors – Devika FernandoPreethi VenugopalaParomita GoswamiAdite BanerjieReet SinghSudesna GhoshSaiswaroopa Iyer and I – write on various writing-related topics with the topic corresponding to the Alphabet of the Week.

The complete list is at the end of this post and today I am writing on the alphabet Q…

Let's begin...

Finished writing a story? Marvelous!
Kudos for completing one-third of your journey!

Yes, you read it right. Writing a complete story is only one-third of the job done. The next stage is to get it in a shape when it can be released to the readers. This requires editing, designing a cover and writing the blurb, and the last step is to publish and market it. All of these

So the next phase is editing. Every author self-edits prior to engaging an editor. So let’s dive straight into the various methods which help polish your dream story.

A word of caution don’t edit unless and until the story is complete, else you’ll end up wasting time and effort. A complete story is the entry criteria for the editing phase.

a) Cut the clutter: Read the story and remove anything which seems to be extra. Shorten the sentences as far as possible. The idea is to make every sentence crisp, thereby making the story well-paced and enjoyable.

“Second Draft equals first draft minus 10%.” —Stephen King

b) Remove the passive verbs: Specifically, look for passive sentences and where necessary change them to active ones without losing the essence of the scene. Remember not every passive sentence has to be converted to active.

c) Avoid the same start for consecutive sentences: A tip which I found on one of the critics’ site was that same word should not be used in three consecutive sentences in a paragraph. Change the sentence to give variation to the prose.

d) Revisit the dialogues tags: Relook at the dialogue tags and associated action beat. It is not necessary to have a tag with every dialogue. Only action beat with the name of the character also serves the purpose and makes the narration interesting.

e) Address your quirks: Make a list of your quirks which crept up while writing the first draft. For example, I have a habit of starting a few sentences with ‘And' or ‘But’, which sounds nice in internal monologue, but not in any other elements. After everything is done I take each of my quirks and correct them as necessary. This list will keep getting modified and will disappear as you gain expertise in the art and cultivate your own style.

f) Remove the niggles: Parse the story through the free functionalities of an automated tool; e.g. Grammarly, ProWriting Aid or any such tool. This will catch all the punctuation, preposition, articles, repetitions and spacing errors.

g) Read out loud: The last one is to take a printout and read out loud. This is the best way to catch odd sentence structure.

That’s it folks. Happy editing!


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Get To Know Author Esha Pandey

Today on ILF we have talented Esha Pandey, who juggles her various responsibilities of a cop, mother and author with consummate aplomb. She has written two romances, and as we talk to her she is promoting her new release 'Someone Exactly Like You'.

Over to the interview...

ILF: What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine or do you have any weird, funny, or unusual habits while writing?
Esha: I started writing as a young girl in school, when I didn’t even have a computer. I had a beige coloured notebook in which I wrote in long hand. My first story “Full Circle” won the award of excellence at the UNFPA. That gave me confidence to write. I have continued writing ever since. At every stage of life my writing was influenced by my circumstances. When I was writing as a young girl, I was mostly putting my dreams together in words. When I was writing as a wife or a mother I could understand the depth of emotions and that got reflected in my writing. I guess what I am trying to say is that I depend a lot on my experiences and emotions for writing.

Following a regular routine is not possible with my job. So there are days when I write 500 to 100 words daily and then there are months when I don’t write at all. That is when I try to read as much as I can.

ILF: How do you think you have evolved as a person/author because of your writing?
Esha: I have become more patient. Before I knew about Kindle Unlimited, I depended on traditional publishing and that makes you patient. Also I have learnt to accept my weaknesses. I know there are better writers, but I like to write and put whatever I write out with honesty. It might not be to everyone’s taste, but the best thing about this world is that everyone can find some audience.

ILF: Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad review?
Esha: Yes. My friends have been very ruthless in their reviews. Some of them even said that I should stop writing. My first book was poorly edited so there were many bad reviews. But I am not ready to give up. I feel you should listen to everyone, take positives from them, but believe in yourself. If writing gives you happiness, you should write. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to write, anyone can discredit you, but you should not let it affect you.

ILF: What is the easiest/hardest scene for you to write, why? (Love, action, fight, death, emotional, controversial, etc…)
Esha:I have written mostly romances, so yes, writing love making scenes is the most difficult.

ILF: What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?
Esha: I am still a struggler as far as writing is concerned, but I will say this, don’t be embarrassed of your work. Good writing needs discipline. If you really like the art, you will learn with each work that you put out there. That is what I am doing.

ILF: What is your favorite scene in ‘Someone Exactly Like You’? Why?
Esha: My most favourite scene is when Veer and Natasha take a walk and it starts raining. I have lived in Mussorie for a while and I was reliving those beautiful walks when I was writing that scene. Natasha is very close to my heart. I hope readers like her for what she is.

ILF: I'm sure they will. Thanks Esha for those lovely insights on your writing and projects. Wishing you all the best for your new release 'Someone Exactly Like You' and many more to come.

'Someone Exactly Like You' At Amazon.

A beautiful young girl, drenched in rain, is being chased by a couple of goons along the narrow meandering roads of Landour, Mussoorie, when a swashbuckling stranger comes to her rescue. She faints and on waking up, realizes she is in the company of the ‘bad boy’ of Bollywood—Veer Singh Tomar.

Natasha falls for Veer, who, incidentally, is married and dealing with a messy divorce. By some cruel twist of fate, Veer’s estranged wife Amyra comes back to his life. But by then, Veer is already drawn to Natasha.

Will Veer ever find his way back to Natasha?

About The Author
Esha Pandey, is an author and a police officer. She made her debut as an author with her book Kiss of Life and Other Stories, a collection of short stories.

Esha currently lives in New Delhi. She is an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the 2010 batch, serving as Deputy Commissioner of Police Traffic. She was Superintendent of Police and Commandant IRBN in Lakshadweep during 2014-16, where she wrote her first book. Her posting as DCP Special Police Unit for Women and Children, in Delhi, gave her an opportunity to understand the problems faced by women, first hand. During her tenure, SPUWAC trained the highest number of girls in Self Defense and established a Limca Record.

Esha has a Masters in International Relations and Masters of Philosophy in American Studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. Before becoming a civil servant, she dabbled with the idea of being a journalist and worked with Times of India as a copyeditor. She has won a United Nations FPA Award for Excellence for the “Best Short Story”.

She can be reached at;
twitter.: @PandeyEsha
facebook :

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Book Review :: 'We Women Wonder' by Inderpreet Uppal

"When a woman becomes her own best friend, life is easier." 

– Diane Von Furstenberg. 
Thoughts, quotes and determination can make a woman stronger, a survivor but she is a winner regardless. 
This book is the story of every woman, you might find your reflection too. 
A journey into what keeps us women ticking. 
What annoys the hell out of us? 
What are we women really about? 
How does the world see us? 
Is the world changing for us or are we just dreaming? 
What is our success and what it means to a woman? 
We Women Wonder, I often do, don’t you?

My Review
'We Women Wonder' brings focus on the myriad struggles, dreams, circumstances women face in their life. The various situations and emotions have been beautifully articulated by the author, which I am sure will resonate with most of the women.

Alphabetically arranged, every chapter addresses a subject which makes one think and introspect. Each topic makes one question the circumstances, issues and the solution that we, women, have taken to make life better for ourselves and those around us. Without being judgmental, the author has expressed her views which are quite relatable and apt for the times we live in. The chapters end with a thoughtful quote adding to the charm of each topic.

Since the author has taken the experiences from her own life, I couldn’t help but smile when a few resonated with the incidents of my life. The best takeaway was the advice to keep yourself healthy and active. It is very important not to lose one’s own personality in the daily humdrum and responsibilities of work and home.

Ms Uppal has covered stages of a woman’s life and the related dreams and desires in a comprehensive and realistic way making the collection not only interesting but thought-provoking too. Kudos!

Grab your copy @

About the author
" Inderpreet writes for her love of writing, edits manuscripts and reads endlessly. 

A sprinkling of fiction, a dash of books, and a bit of opinion add to the eclectic mix that is Eloquent Articulation, her blog.

Books, editing, writing, and blogging keep her busy whenever she gets a breather from mothering her ‘too tricky to handle son’. 

An Army brat, she now joins her adorable Army hubby across the country. "

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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

O - Outlining Your Story: Authors' Tips A to Z of Writing

Dear readers and writers,

I have been guilty of not writing on this forum for a very long time. So was determined to write on this round's alphabet 'O' under Authors' Tips A to Z of Writing series.

In this series of 'Authors' Tips - A to Z of Writing', where eight of us – Devika FernandoPreethi VenugopalaParomita GoswamiAdite BanerjieReet SinghSudesna GhoshSaiswaroopa Iyer and I – post on various writing-related topics with the topic corresponding to the Alphabet of the Week. Complete list is at the end of this post.

On to the alphabet O...

Nothing could be better than writing on the topic 'Outlining a story', because with each of my novels I have learnt something new about the outlining process. I for one believe in outlining prior to the writing phase. The depth of the outline depends on genre and length of the story that I write. So let's delve straight into the subject.

Any writer who says that he/she doesn’t outline their story is either lying or not aware of their thought process or are intuitive outliners.

Everyone has an outline. 

Even if they have it in their mind, it is there. How well defined, structured and detailed it is, is a different matter altogether.

Authors who start writing with an idea in their mind call themselves pansters. But don’t let them fool you into thinking that they haven’t done their homework. In all probability, they will have a compelling idea, strong characters, and setting before they begin putting words on the paper. This cult of people have a remarkable memory, and high retention power, that shows in the final version of their story. 

So let’s not cut corners and learn a bit about outlining a story.

Broadly, there are three elements which need to be explored and researched right at the beginning. These are; idea/ plot, characters, and setting. Let’s look at them in detail.

Idea/Plot - This is the backbone of a story. The seed of the tree which you are going to sow, water and grow. The initial idea could be unique or an already written trope. It’s the treatment that you give to it matters in the long run. The plot should keep the readers hooked throughout the journey of your characters.  

How? Let's see.

The story should open in the middle of action, or a para which intrigues the reader either about the character(s) or the plot. This is the first hook for the readers which gets them invested in the characters and their conflicts.

The next bang should come in between which takes the plot forward. There can be two or more mini-climactic scenes depending on the length of the novel/ story.

For complete reader satisfaction, the story should end in a life-changing climactic event, from which either the protagonist comes out unscathed or loses something dear; this depends on whether you want to end the story in a positive or negative note.

By the end of this step of outlining, the writer should have a clear idea about protagonist, situation, conflicts/ disaster, the opponents, and the closure.

Characters - In order to come up with rich and realistic characters one has to write complete biography for each one of them, along with their backstory. The proven technique to achieve this is to interview the characters. The key thing is to focus not only on the main protagonist but also on the antagonist. A smart and deadly the villain brings out the true potential of the hero.

Setting - Think of a setting which suits the story and your characters. This depends on the genre and time/ era of your plot. Explore the setting in terms of locales, weather, environment, language, and customs. Each of these elements, if used effectively, will paint a rich tapestry in the mind of your readers thereby giving them complete satisfaction/entertainment.

Having said all of the above, don’t think outlining traps your idea in a boundary or curbs creativity. It’s your framework which can be erased and redefined depending on how the characters and conflicts shape up during the writing process. Do not hesitate to change or revise in the interest of a compelling product.

So folks, plot your outline using all the elements and dazzle the readers. 

All the very best!