Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Written Chakra: Book Review: Anne O'Connell's Deep DeceitHello e...

The Written Chakra:
Book Review: Anne O'Connell's Deep Deceit
Hello e...
: Book Review: Anne O'Connell's Deep Deceit Hello everybody! It’s been a rather slow week after the frenetic excitement of the...

The Written Chakra: The Written ChakraHello everybody! It’s been a r...

The Written Chakra:
The Written Chakra
Hello everybody! It’s been a r...
: The Written Chakra Hello everybody! It’s been a rather slow week after the frenetic excitement of the Dubai Lit Fest. But it was a w...

Book Review: Anne O'Connell's Deep Deceit

Hello everybody! It’s been a rather slow week after the frenetic excitement of the Dubai Lit Fest. But it was a week of reading and relaxation, what with all the books I picked up during the festival! My bookshelf is once again lined up with almost ten books, enough to keep me out of trouble for quite a while.
Well, in any case, let me present my first book review for The Written Chakra, a novel by Anne Louise O’Connell titled Deep Deceit.

Let me start at the very beginning- the cover. It shows a woman in an abaya, her face and head almost totally covered up, except for her eyes, which look down fearfully. But hold it! Those eyes are blue, not brown! And the cover is an indicator of the tale within. It is the story of a mother’s worst nightmare coming true, when her beautiful 18-year old daughter disappears. And her husband of 19 years, whom she has never really got on with, starts behaving erratically. Into this mix, throw in an unfamiliar landscape and culture, in this case the emirate of Dubai and the kingdom of Saudi, and you have all the ingredients of a thriller or a who-done-it.
The mother in this story is Celeste, whose daughter, Tamara, mysteriously disappears. The boorish husband, Ryan, pooh-poohs his wife’s fears, saying it was her overbearing protectiveness from which the daughter was fleeing. The cracks, which were already present in the marriage, widen after this event. Tamara is not Ryan’s real daughter, but his best friend and business partner, Donald’s. After Donald’s mysterious death nineteen years ago, Ryan had married his pregnant widow, Celeste.
The story unravels with remarkable skill, as one layer after another is peeled off like the skin of an onion, only to reveal an unpalatable truth. Celeste sets out to find her daughter, aided by the irrepressible Susan Morris, a former psychiatric nurse who befriends Celeste and accompanies her everywhere in her quest for her daughter.
The author, Anne O’Connell, deftly weaves the plot with mystery and suspense so that we want to keep turning the pages. And although the cities of Dubai and Riyadh have the outward visage of modernity, old ideas of justice and revenge prevail. I finished this book in two sittings, reading far into the night, so engrossed had I become in the story.
I highly recommend it to all lovers of thrillers as well as those who love women’s fiction for it is also the story of a woman’s journey from helplessness and victimhood to freedom and decisiveness.
Deep Deceit is Anne O’Connell’s second novel. Her earlier novel, Mental Pause, won a bronze medal in the 2013 Independent Publisher Book Awards. This book (in my opinion) is even better than the earlier one.
And watch out for more reviews and tips (and maybe just plain rantings) in my next blog. Until then, adios.

Deep Deceit is available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback. link - the link -
Follow Deep Deceit on Facebook. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Written Chakra: Dubai Lit Fest- and what I gleaned from it

The Written Chakra: Dubai Lit Fest- and what I gleaned from it: The Written Chakra A blog for readers and writers and all who come between If you are a reader or writer, or have a literary l...

Dubai Lit Fest- and what I gleaned from it

The Written Chakra
A blog for readers and writers and all who come between

If you are a reader or writer, or have a literary leaning, a Lit Fest is a Must-Go-To event. And Dubai boasts its own Lit Fest, the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature. For those of you not in the know, this festival is held annually in the lovely month of March. (And yes, let me shout this out loud n clear, Dubai is not just about gold and petro-dollars; there’s a thriving community of readers and writers and thinking people out here). So let me give you a round-up of some of the events I attended and what I gleaned from them.

 The first, enticingly titled Shortening the Odds: Inside Secrets of a Literary Agent, had me all excited. I mean, which writer wouldn’t like to know how to make his or her novel stick out from the crowd? Caroline Sheldon, the literary agent who gave the talk, was both enlightening and encouraging. Her talk often went back to the basics- and it’s always good to be reminded of them- that a writer has to be a great story-teller and engage the reader emotionally. It seems the kind of books that really sell these days are the ones sold in SUPERMARKETS!  I mean, how many people actually read hoity-toity literary fiction, the Bookers and the Pulitzers and the what-have-yous? No, this is by no means looking down on popular writing. Ever since I decided to don the writer’s cap, I’ve become humble, and know that writing something that sells in supermarkets is not exactly easy to do and needs hard work and dedication and an understanding of current trends.
There were a few other gems for writers in this talk: give a three-line synopsis of your novel in your introductory email as this will travel with your book all the time when the agent/publisher takes it around and waves it temptingly before people with power. And after your manuscript has been rejected by the first set of agents, take a good hard look at it and change what you think is not working!
It’s not about mere luck, getting your book published. It’s about hard work and perseverance. Or so she says!

The other workshop I attended was for those who want to get their stuff on to newspapers, and was titled Writing a Weekly Column, and conducted by a famous British columnist, Heather McGregor. Here are some of the “rules” for writing these columns.
·      The column should be between 700-1000 words long
·      It should be a mix of facts and opinion
·      You must relate what you write to a personal experience
OK, Heather, you’ve really inspired me to write something on a weekly basis, whether it is publishable or not!

But the most interesting event was the authors’ talk. There were two authors, Ashwin Sanghi and PG Bhaskar, discussing whether there is such a thing as an Indian novel. (Is There Such a Thing as an Indian Novel?)
What is an “Indian” novel? A novel written by Indians? A novel written in English with many words from the vernacular thrown in? Is the novel as a form an import from the West? How are Indian readers different from Western ones?
The talk was highly entertaining, and very often the audience was in splits. Some interesting things I learnt: in this day of the Internet, the human brain has only an 8 second attention span, while a goldfish has a 9 second one; most readers stop reading a book on pg 17! Interesting facts to know, especially if you’re a writer.
Ashwin Sanghi, who has written three bestsellers to date, says he sent his first book to no less than THIRTY-SEVEN publishers, and NOT ONE of them accepted it because they said the Indian audiences were not yet ready for thrillers! He eventually self-published it and aggressively went about marketing it. All his hard work paid off, because now his books are all on the bestsellers’ lists!
PG Bhaskar is not quite a bestseller, but he too has a message for writers.  He wrote his first book during the Global Financial Crisis as an escapism. He’s gone on to write a second book after this. Why? Not for name and fame but just out of the sheer pleasure of writing!  So you don’t have to exactly aspire for fame and fortune when you write, but it can be for the sheer joy of writing.

So I come to the end of this years Lit Fest.
Dear Readers and Writers, my next blog is going to be a book review, so watch out! Oh, and do get back to me with your own personal experiences of attending book fests. Or anything else that shakes the literary world. Until then, goodbye.