Monday, February 22, 2016

Defiant Dreams - Tales of Everyday Divas - Edited by Rhiti Bose and Lopamudra Banerjee


I am very proud to be part of this dream time, and to have my story. 'The Journey of Two Women' published in this incredible anthology titled 'Defiant Dreams'.





DEFIANT DREAMS
Tales of Everyday Divas

EDITORS
RHITI BOSE
LOPAMUDRA BANERJEE


PUBLISHED BY: Readomania

The Stories in the Anthology are...

1. Built From The Ashes – Radhika Maira Tabrez – Life brings widowed Nikita at the doorsteps of her estranged in-laws where she finds a new meaning to life.


2. It’s Not The End – Kirthi Jayakumar – A fresh start changes the foundation of what might have been the beginning of a bright future. But it’s not the end. 

3. She Chose To Live – Debosmita Nandy – She shines even when she is betrayed by love, uprooted from home and misunderstood by all.

4. Bidisha – Paulami DuttaGupta – Insurgency tore her life apart, will Bidisha be able to forget her past?


5. The Drug Addict – Santosh Bakaya – A 19-year-old turns to drugs after her parents' death in a mine blast. This story shows how she turns over a new leaf.

6. Safe Passage – Sanghamitra Bose – She survives extreme betrayal and is determined not to let it happen again.

7. The Bride – Esha Chakraborty – ‘The Bride’ toasts to a new beginning!

8. Dear Rangama… – Sutapa Basu – An 18-year-old bereft of family and friends, navigates her own and her unborn child’s life, defying all malignant forces. 

9. Unfound: Searching For Home – Vasudha Chandna Gulati – Can a child with two sets of parents still feel alone? This is Riddhi’s search for a place to belong.

10. The Journey of Two Women – Deepti Menon – Two Divas on divergent paths dare to dream, defy the world and carve out their entwined destinies!


11. A Second Chance – Arpita Banerjee – A girl pays for her innocence once, but becomes strong enough to avenge a betrayal, the second time around.

12. Dharmambhal – Bhuvaneswari Shivakumar Shankar – Can one ever recover from the trauma of domestic violence? A namesake finds courage from an inspirational story. 

13. The 40s – Ramaa Sonti – The story of a woman craving for love and attention, one who falters, yet takes the situation in her stride with the virtue of her wit and determination.

14. Amlanation – Anirban Nanda – An acid attack, a play of fate, the emotional trauma of both the attacker and the victim. 

15. Please Leave Your Sex Outside – Aashisha Chakraborty – What made a woman a top automobile entrepreneur of the country?

16. Tara – Geeta Negi – A simple girl from a remote hilly village discovers her womanhood while standing firmly against patriarchy.


17. Anjali Chakraborty – Tanushree Ghosh Dhall – A woman who is neither a mother nor a wife epitomizes love, sacrifice and support. 

18. Yamuna Maa’s Hand – Mahesh Sowani – Two patrons, one rich, another poor, use their funds to support poor women to be independent. 

19. Once, For a Change – Moinak Dutta – A fashion designer proves her mettle by taking up a challenge. 

20. Pregnant Dreams – Sridevi Datta – A woman’s dreams and desires face trials in the real world.


21. Second Innings of Ma – Namrata Chauhan – An exceptional bond between a mother in law and a daughter in law, proving women are soft, but never weak.

22. Here I Come Benaras – Avanti Sopory – Is marriage the only identity of a woman? A widow in Banaras finds her identity amidst strangers.

23. To Be Or Not To Be – Paromita Mukherjee Ojha – An act of crime, a betrayal rips her life apart,and now she must rise up to the test and face the realities of life. 

24. Some Porridge and an Education – Sreesha Divakaran  – Shanta leaves behind her village and her drunken husband to earn a livelihood for herself and provide an education to her son.

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Meet The Editors 

Rhiti Bose 

Rhiti Bose is a writer/blogger/reviewer who is also the founder and Chief Editor of the e-zine Incredible Women of India. She has a first class Master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Madras. She has done her Teacher’s Training, PGCE from Manchester Metropolitan University, UK and holds a Child Psychology, Psychotherapy and Counselling Post-Graduate Diploma from The School of Natural Health and Science, London, UK. She has 6 years of experience in Education/Training. She has spent two years working with The Refugee Council, Sheffield, UK mentoring and counseling Bangladeshi and Liberian refugee children.

Her works have been published in Femina, feminafastfiction.com, learningandcreativity.com, redomania.com and she is also a part of short story collection, An Atlas of love, published by Rupa. Her poems are a part of poetry collections Kaafiyaana and Umbilical Chords: An Anthology on Parents Remembered.

When not reading, writing or curating stories for IWI, you can find Rhiti watching Bollywood masala movies, baking or playing with her children. She believes in kindness and love and hopes to spread the same through IWI. She currently resides in Bhubaneswar with her husband, daughter and son.


   
Lopamudra Banerjee 



Lopamudra Banerjee is a writer and translator, currently based in Dallas, USA. She has a Master’s degree in English with a thesis in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Her unpublished memoir Thwarted Escape has been First Place Category Winner at the Journey Awards 2014 hosted by Chanticleer Reviews. She is an editor of Learning and Creativity, an e-zine for the literary and creative souls.

Her poetry, stories and essays have appeared at many print and online literary journals and anthologies both in India and the US. Her poetry has recently appeared in The Significant Anthology, Umbilical Chords: An Anthology on Parents Remembered and Kaafiyana, published by Readomania. Her English translation of Rabindranath Tagore’s novella The Broken Home is being serially published at CafĂ© Dissensus. She has received the Critics’ Award at Destiny Poets International Community of Poets, UK and also a Certificate of Merit as part of the Reuel International Prize 2015 for Writing and Literature. Her husband is an IT professional and they have two beautiful daughters, Srobona and Sharanya.



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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Sands of Time - Guest Post - Neelam Chandra Saxena

Guest Post: Neelam Chandra Saxena - Sands of Time Tour



Dear Neelam Ma'am,
 You have proved to be a very prolific writer and author, having written more books already than most writers have written in a lifetime. What is it that keeps you going, and where do you find your topics from? How long does it take to write one book?

Thanks for the interesting question, Deepti. All I can say is that my mind is extremely fertile. It can travel anywhere and imagine anything and everything.

At times, I imagine myself to be a child and enjoy the colours in the canvas of a child’s mind. I wonder what a child would love to listen to. Often, I also travel back in time and connect to that. I love the child's world, full of adventure and amusement. These are the times when my children’s stories are born.

At other times, I believe that I am a teen, full of dreams, living in a world of fantasy. What would happen to those dreams as I grow up? Having seen life from close quarters, I can very well comprehend a teeny mind, and during such moments, fantasy stories are created.

I love to be a youth too. I certainly was very romantic and I let this romance permeate my mind and love stories are coloured by my pen.

Then, there are moments I wish to remember forever and paint them with words. These are the poems, which are often small stories in themselves.

At times, I have seen my stories erupting from some newspaper items also. For example, one of my novels titled In the flickering of an eye, which shall soon be published by LiFi Publications blossomed this way. I was reading the newspaper and came across a news item in which the father desired to kill his daughter, since she had fallen in love with a boy of the same gotra. This amused and petrified me at the same time and this novel was crafted.

Basically, my stories are always woven from incidents and anecdotes in and around me, but in a world of my imagination and characters from my fancy.


 Thank you for your detailed and interesting answer, Ma'am!

Soul Warrior by Falguni Kothari



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Soul Warrior: Age of Kali 

by 
Falguni Kothari

Blurb

Fight fate, or succumb to destiny? 
In the dark Age of Kali, the Soul Warrior alone stands guard over the Human Realm, protecting its denizens from evil-willed asuras or demons. When a trick of fate appoints him guru to a motley crew of godlings, he agrees to train them as demon hunters against his better judgment. Suddenly, Lord Karna is not only battling the usual asuras with sinister agendas, but also rebellious students and a fault-ridden past. 

Spanning the cosmic realms of mythic India, here is a tale of a band of supernatural warriors who come together over a singular purpose: the salvation of Karna’s secret child. 

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Kuru Kshetra Battlefield. 

Day 17 of the Great Kuru War, seven thousand five hundred years ago.

Death is hot. 

That surprises me. I’d imagined death as cold and brutal. Merciless. But in truth, death is hot as blood, and constant like a heartbeat. 

Thrum. Thrum. Thrum. My lifeblood ebbs to the rhythm. My head ripped from its torso by Anjalika, the arrow of death that burns even now with the energy of the sun. Struck from behind like some novice. Felled in battle by that lily-livered usurper the Heavens smile upon—Prince Arjun. Brother Arjun. 

What have I done? I harness the thought. Cease all reflection and wrench free of my mortal body. I soar up, up into the gloaming, snapping the ties that tether me to life. Dead, I have no use for ties. 

“A matter of perspective, Karna, O son of my godsire.” The unearthly words strum through the air, and I quiver like a plucked bowstring, overcome as much by the voice as its blasphemous claim. “Bonds of devotion nourish the soul, brother.” 

There is that word again. Brother. Unpleasant laughter wells up in me. Alive, I am abandoned, denied my birthright—Celestial or royal. Death, it seems, changes everything. 

A bright, nebulous light brings forth Lord Yama, the God of Death, atop his divine mount. His elephantine thighs ripple beneath a silken dhoti, ochre and crimson of color, as he guides the mammoth water buffalo to a halt. An iron medallion sways against the God’s powerful cerulean torso, its center stone an ethereal blood orange. 

Hypnotic. Pulsing with life. I am drawn to the stone. 

“Piteous waste,” Lord Yama mutters, surveying the carnage of war far below us. 

I trace the trajectory of his gaze and behold the battered remains of my army drenched in the evidence of its mortality. Is it true? Have we died in vain? 

Words form inside me and I will them out. “Shall we go, my lord?”

 “Ha! Impatient to be judged, are you? Anxious to have your fate revealed?” asks the Judge of the Hell Realm. His red-black eyes burn with intelligence and compassion in a blue-tinged face that is long and lean and hard. “Rest easy, brother-warrior. You are not bound for the Great Courtroom.” 

Not bound for Hell? Where then? Fear has eluded me for so long that I take a moment to recognize it. A hollow-bellied feeling it is, as annoying as a bone stuck in my throat. 

“My lord, I have done bad deeds…terrible deeds in my life. I have waged wars, this horrendous bloodshed, and all because my pride could not—would not abide rejection. I have sinned. I must atone for my actions.”

Lord Yama smiles in a way I do not like. “You have redeemed yourself admirably, Karna. You forfeited your life for the greater good today. The deed far outweighs any misguided ones. Be at peace, brother, and enjoy the fruits of your karma.” 

There is but one place to enjoy such fruits—the Higher Worlds. 

I’d rather burn in Hell for eternity. I say so. “I won’t live amongst the Celestials.” Coexisting with the very souls who’ve spurned me is unthinkable. Watching her—for she would surely reside in Heaven soon—will be eternal torture. 

Yama shakes his head, the horns on his crown slashing to and fro. “I thought you might say that. Relax. Your destiny lies elsewhere.”

 “Am I to be reborn then? Am I to begin a new life, and forget the past?” Pain, sharp as a blade, lances through me at the thought. Forget my past? My family? Even her? Was that my punishment? To forget all that made me human? It must be so. For have I not betrayed them as surely as I’ve betrayed my prince regent? 

“Human rebirth is not your destiny, either. You are chosen, brother. Your war skills are needed for a higher purpose.” The God slips off his mount, his garments rustling in agitation. “This unjust war has pushed the Cosmos to the vortex of a cataclysm. Tomorrow, the Kuru War will end. Fearing its outcome, the Celestials rolled the Die of Fate and have unwittingly bestowed on Demon Kali untold powers.” Lord Yama bares his fangs in disgust at the foolish gamble. “Imagine the havoc that asura and his minions will wreak on the weak if left unchecked. The Human Realm must be safeguarded during Kali’s dark reign.”

 I can imagine the horror only too well as I have battled with evil all my life. But I am done with wars. I am done with defeat. I won’t waste another lifetime fighting. 

“With due respect, my lord, I am not the man for this task.”

 “You are not a man at all,” Yama thunders, fists shaking. “You are the son of Surya, the Sun God. Accept that you are no ordinary soul.”

 I say nothing. I think nothing. I feel something but I squash it down. 

Lord Yama’s thick black brows draw together. “Demon Kali will try to pervade every particle of good that exists in the Cosmos, beginning with the corruptible Human Realm. Once he obliterates all of humanity, he’ll set his sights on the Celestials. Kali will not stop until he’s destroyed our way of life. But you can stop him. You are light to his darkness. Do you understand now why you had to betray him? Your beloved humans need you, Karna. I need you. Our father believes in you. Claim your rightful place in the Cosmos.”

 Impatiently, Lord Yama removes the iron medallion from his neck and holds it out. The vermillion sunstone glows as if its soul is on fire. Nay! It is my soul that is on fire. 
Indescribable energy curls through me. I gasp, though not in pain. I shudder and feel myself grow large, grow hot. Was this rebirth? 

I am strong, full-bodied and lethal once more. Then I roar as light bursts forth from my very core and I throb with glorious, blinding power. When I come to myself, my world has changed again. Bubbles of color shimmer all around me: cobalt and saffron, azure and rose. By karma! They are souls. Infinite floating souls.

“Behold the spectrum of life: the worthy, the notorious, the righteous and the sinners.” The God of Death’s soul was a worthy sapphire blue with a tinge of silver. “Your duty, should you choose to accept the office of the Soul Warrior, is to hunt down the red-souled asuras and crush them. Whatever you decide, I wish you a long and successful Celestial existence, Karna,” Yama booms out and vanishes into the purpling sky.

The parley has stunned me. The world of color holds me in thrall. I was dead. Yet, now I am not. A new path lies before me. Unwanted, unwelcome, I insist on principle. I close my eyes. Open them to stare at the medallion cupped in my hand—a golden-hued hand at once familiar and not—and know myself for a fool. I do want this. It’s what I am. 

Bastard-born. Rebel. Son. Husband. Father. Warlord. And protector. I fist the talisman, buoyed by its concrete warmth. This is who I am. 

I am the Soul Warrior.

About the Author  
Falguni Kothari is a New York-based hybrid author, and an amateur Latin and Ballroom dance silver medalist with a semi-professional background in Indian Classical dance. She writes in a variety of genres sewn together by the colorful and cultural threads of her South Asian heritage and expat experiences. She is published in India in contemporary fiction with global e-book availability, and launches her mythic fantasy series, the Age of Kali, with SOUL WARRIOR. When not writing, dancing or being a domestic goddess, she fools around on all manner of social media, and loves to connect with readers.

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