#SupportIndieAuthors, you guys get to meet my editor edition!

And this latest author I’m getting to know quite well, since she’s a huge part of the BWN family. She’s an awesome woman who’s been nothing but encouraging to other authors that I can see. (Hell, she even helped to translate my drivel into english for your enjoyment.) An amazing lady who somehow manages to shove several different hats on her head, I give you guys Amanda!


Amanda Meuwissen is the author of The Incubus Saga and The Collector. Amanda also serves as COO and Managing Editor for BigWorldNetwork.com. She oversees editing and series selection, and is featured as a narrator for several BWN series. Amanda lives in Minneapolis, MN, with her husband, John, and their cats, Helga and Sasha (no connection to the incubus of the same name).


The Incubus Saga – Book 3: Sidhe
Nathan returns from the Veil a changed man. The consequences of his time with Malak, the dark sidhe king, and the deal made to free him may be more than he can bear. The weakening of the Veil and new enemies foretell of a greater battle still ahead. With Nathan’s brother Jim now an Awakened changeling, and Nathan’s role in Malak’s plans finally revealed, Nathan’s love for fae hunter and incubus, Sasha Kelly, may not be enough to save him after all.

Social media and website links:

http://bigworldnetwork.com/site/series/incubus (Series at BigWorldNetwork)

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6831429.Amanda_Meuwissen (Goodreads)

https://twitter.com/MissSuperCube (Twitter)

http://crimsondomingo.tumblr.com (Tumblr)

http://pinterest.com/crimsondomingo (Pinterest)

https://www.facebook.com/TheIncubusSaga (Series Facebook Fan Page)

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmandaMeuwissen (Author Facebook Fan Page)

1. What do you do to keep your spirits up through a bad review?

Honestly, nothing works for me but time. I can have 70 Five Stars and only 4 One Stars and those few One’s will stick with me until the next Four or Five comes around, or until I’ve had some distance from it. But even if it ruins my day (week, month) the important things I focus on are 1) what about the review can I use to actually improve, 2) what is purely opinion that plenty of other people disagree with the reviewer on, and 3) are they just being a jerk. If the last one is true, the review should be disregarded outright.

2. What has been your greatest inspiration for writing your story?

I was first inspired to write The Incubus Saga by a web comic about a teenage boy with an incubus imaginary friend. I couldn’t get my own idea out of me at the time, though, and let it sit. Then one day, while watching an episode of the TV show Supernatural, the idea for my incubus character, Sasha Kelly, just…came to me, fully formed. The rest of the story fell into place with my love of fae lore and male relationships. What’s kept me inspired from start to finish, however, is definitely the fans. I’ve had an amazing group of readers with me from the story’s onset to now, especially when those fans have commented during the serialized run on BigWorldNetwork.com, which greatly shaped parts of the story as I wrote it.

3. Are there any people you feel need a shout out for supporting you?

Lisa Macklem, who wrote her own stories in my world back when I was first creating this, and allowed me to take some of those scenes and rework them into the canon story. Stephanie Cargile, who both inspired the character of Ula and also was a huge part of my initial writing process. Iain Wilde, who allowed me to immortalize him as the character Iain. Paul aka Kouken, for letting me take and reshape his character, Solrin. Meagan Hedin as my associate editor. Mario Hernandez for designing all three of the books in the series so beautifully. And my husband John, for seeing me through this to the end, and even occasionally letting me manhandle him to work out the logistics of a scene.

4. Has self-publishing taught you any lessons that you feel will help you in life?

This series is my baby, and it definitely took a village to raise it. This is where I give one extra shout-out to Jim McGovern, CEO of BigWorldNetwork, because I never could have published alone. Big name publishers aren’t appealing to work with, but I knew I couldn’t self-publish either, because I don’t have the patience or talent for cover design or typesetting. BWN gave me the opportunity to promote my work ahead of time by running it serialized first, then did all the hard work I could never have done alone. Not having to worry about the complicated parts of actually formatting my books has allowed me to write more and promote, and that is where we as authors need to spend the majority of our time.

And last, What’s your favorite color?

Cerulean. It was always my favorite Crayola crayon in elementary school. I even have a tattoo that color of a key over my heart.

not fair

I just enjoyed reading this, and thought I’d share with everyone else. #LifeIsNotFair

The Best Advice So Far

life is not fair: big fish in small bowl, little fish in big bowl

I’ve been taking a trip down memory lane lately where this blog is concerned. I love when I re-read a post from years back and have forgotten that I’d even written it, allowing me to read it in a whole new light. I love it even more when I laugh or cringe at all the right parts, wondering what’s going to happen in the story (which is saying something, seeing that I’ve lived all of these stories).

One of my earliest posts, which subsequently developed into three early and integral parts of my book, The Best Advice So Far, came from Carlotta, my friend (and my dear friends’ mom) who passed away many years ago. She left three key pieces of advice that have been mainstays in my own life, and which I’ve passed along countless times since. This post will mean all the more if you take a moment to read that…

View original post 1,300 more words

Cruisin’ through books cause books make life worth living with Aly! #RileyAmosReviews 7/27/2015 ARC part!

Crystal Kingdom by Amanda Hocking

I love this author!  I love so many of her books.  I think she is great so I was glad to get a chance to read this book for her.  I love this series it is great we have so many great points in this book.  If you love Amanda Hocking as much as I do you have to check out this book.  If you are looking for something with action and a fantasy and magic you need to read books from Amanda Hocking!  * I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*   5/5

Cruisin’ through books cause books make life worth living with Aly! #RileyAmosReviews 7/27/2015 part 2!

Simpatico: They Will Never Tear Us Apart: A Novel of Romantic Suspense by Dermot Davis

This book was very good!  I enjoyed it very much.  I love books with hidden abilities and magic.  I was caught up in the story line and I wanted Andrea and Fiona to be together and not split apart.  I can’t wait for more from this series.  * I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*  5/5

Cruisin’ through books cause books make life worth living with Aly! #RileyAmosReviews 7/27/2015 part 1!

The Evolution of Evil by Steven F. Freeman

I have only read a couple books from this series but I could see this go into a TV show or movie.  I love the way the series is believable. Alton and Mallory solved a series of crimes that entwined  and developed as the story goes along.  I think this was great and my favorite part of this book.  I would read more from this author.  * I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*  5/5

Brain to Books Blog Tour a mish-mash 2

Brain to Books Blog Tour

Voices Among Many

From the pen of Charlene Diane Jones

This poem doesn’t appear in any books but free flows through readings I have done over the last couple of decades.
I performed poetry with my poetry partner Linda Stitt across much of Southern Ontario
throughout the last decades of the millenium, and have focused through the new millenium on being at home to write, poetry, prose (my novel The Stain is available at
I have a radio program twice monthly on www.whistleradio.com 102.7 fm in which I interview writers. Let me know if you are interested, by contacting me at charlenej@rogers.com
I also have a blog space at www.soulsciences.net I love science, which often sounds in its amazing and surprising details like poetry to me. I particularly love Neuroscience and have just completed a small book called Medicine Buddha/Medicine Mind on the power of visualization as explained by neuroscience. No, really, it’s an easy to read primer to those two subjects.
Anyway thanks for taking time here with me. I look forward to more contact later!

“Beading” by Charlene Diane Jones

Snow falling, near midnight
your voice on the phone.
I walk the long mile to your house
my black cape flaps like a crow’s wing
you remove, down to my eager skin.
That was long ago.
Now, between my skin and this wall
your face appears, rises and dissolves.
Memory and dream
wind on the same skein.
Our waking days bead
the braided string.
This day I wake to cigarettes,
scotch and this wall,
where memory frames
you stepping into my kitchen
or ambling with me through villages
where a your man snakes his hips
under the low-slung silk skirt
his kohl-darkened eyes burning,
beckoning the older man, his partner.
I remember you said then
you wanted a man, a young man, that man.
Memories and dreams
wind on the same skein.
Our waking days bead
the braided string.
Now, I leave my house
to walk in snow
wrapped in ten years of dreams
and a need to forget
that dream about the plague,
you thin, blistered, fevered
choking in delirium
delusion about recovery,
need to forget how you said
last time we met
the dream about the plague was mine
how last time we met you said
that dream about the plague was mine.
How dreams and memory wind
together on the same skein.
Under my skin waking days bleed.
The beads spin.
Your death yanked the string.

From the Desk of B.R. Kingsolver.

From I’ll Sing for my Dinner by BR Kingsolver

I'll Sing For My DinnerWe went up on stage and he handed me a white Fender Stratocaster, a Jimi Hendrix guitar. Jared had been playing a hollow-body Gibson most of the evening, but switched for a few songs.
Strapping on the Strat, I strummed it to hear how it was tuned. And then one of my imps seized control. I launched into Purple Haze, running the entire introductory riff. When I stopped and looked around, everyone in the bar was staring at me.
Stepping to the mic, I said, “Sorry. I’m not used to driving a guitar this powerful. It just sorta got away from me.”
Everyone laughed.
We got me in tune with the rest of the band, and when the other members came back from their break, Jared introduced me.
“We have a special treat tonight, a psychedelic rocker from the East Coast.” That got a laugh. “Those of you who happened to catch her playing here during dinner last night or tonight know what a special talent she is, and she’s graciously agreed to sing a couple of songs with us. Please welcome Miss Cecily Buchanan.”
Their band was tight and I liked playing with them. Jared was an excellent lead guitarist, and their pedal steel player was pretty good. The bassist and drummer were also good musicians. The rhythm guitarist was adequate, but had a nice voice. We played half a dozen Emmylou Harris songs, including Luxury Liner, Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town, Roses in the Snow, Boston to Birmingham, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, and I sang a duet of Hello Stranger with Jared.
I’ve never been shy on stage, and the applause and cheers as I put the guitar down and stepped off the bandstand felt as good as if I’d been playing Carnegie Hall. It’s better than food. I drank it all in shamelessly. For the first time in years, I felt whole, like myself. I remembered that I used to live for that feeling. How had I gone so far astray? This was so much better than any drug.
Jake came out from behind the bar and I skipped toward him. I threw my arms around his waist and gave him a hug. He hugged me back, in a friendly sort of way. His large strong hands on my back felt good. He didn’t try to pull me into him, and for some reason, it didn’t make me feel uncomfortable.
“Damn, Cecily, you’re incredible,” he said.
I looked up in his face. He was smiling and happy for me. Filled with approval. My heart seemed so full I thought it might burst. Where had this man been? Why hadn’t I run into him two years ago? Someone who seemed genuinely happy when I succeeded, instead of jealous?
I pulled his face down to mine and kissed him on the lips. “You can’t imagine how happy you’ve made me, and I’ve barely known you a day,” I said.
teaser 2I turned to the band, and launched into the opening rift ofDance All Night. After the second rift, they came in on time, and I turned to the mic to sing.
It’s been a lousy day
Come home to get away
Boss was a jerk, always down on me
Need to kick loose and move to feel free
Going to go out and
Dance all night
The music makes things right
Shake my ass and forget
Ain’t heard last call yet
Dance all night
Boyfriend called and moaned
Says he has to work ‘til dawn
Thinks I’m too dumb to catch on
He’s gettin’ some on the side
I ain’t staying home while he rides
Don’t want to sit around bored
Short dress and fuck-me shoes, hit the door
Going to go out and
Dance all night
The music makes things right
Shake my ass and forget
Ain’t heard last call yet
Dance all night
<guitar solo>
Don’t want to sit around bored
Short dress and fuck-me shoes, hit the door
Flirt with all the good lookin guys
Gonna find one to make me fly
Going to go out and
Dance all night
The music makes things right
Shake my ass and forget
Ain’t heard last call yet
Dance all night
When I finished, I did think the roof would come off. It was a new song, one I started thinking about in New York and finished in London. It had a dance beat, and the lyrics were inspired by all the women I saw alone in the clubs. I had practiced it with the band, but no one else had heard it. Neither Darlene nor Terrie had great singing voices, but when we practiced it we decided they should come in on the chorus.

Brain to Books Blog Tour a mish-mash

Brain to Books Blog Tour

This and That

I have a few days planned for this blog tour that I’ve set aside for a little something extra to share. A collection of poems and excerpts.
From one of our featured authors, Ed Ireland.
authorpic Ed Ireland is a gypsy wanderer with a passion for words. His life has taken quite a few twists and turns,
some happy and some on the regrettable side. It all shows up in his collection of short stories and
poem, Forgotten Treasure. Each story and poem strikes a nerve of some event in his life or shows his
ability to fascinate or confound his readers.
The poetry is inspired by emotions. Anger, joy, love and spirituality all find their way out in them. The
short stories are studies in different genres. There is humor in the Wiki-esque biography of Popeye the Sailor and the irreverent “When the Music Stops”, fantasy in the “Bonds of War” and drama in “Silver Lining”. No matter what hits the chord with you, chances are you’ll find it in this book. Reviewers have said “Every part of this book has something interesting to say. The poetry especially is quite outstanding, really speaking to the heart.” and “Reading through this book encouraged a wide range of emotions and feelings, and that to me is a sign of a good book.”
Forgotten Treasure will be available for free at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/368937 for
the duration of the tour. You can also visit Ed’s website and join his member’s area for news on when
Forgotten Treasure 2 will be available.

Excerpt from Forgotten Treasure:

Treasure6“My Regret” by Ed Ireland

In the twilight times of my days
I sit solitary, surrounded by the voices
Of a thousand wrongs I’ve done
Chastising and screaming for honor to be restored
Honor lost never to be regained
Such is the price of fear
Lost in the twilight times of my hours
Surrounded by the specter of loneliness
Gripped by the cold hands of self-imposed punishment
My strongest regrets are the loves I let slip
Through my unwieldy hands
And my unopened heart
Until finally in the twilight of my minutes
The stone hearts of the multitude open
Their searching eyes resting on what is left of my soul
Their grasping hands reach to render my life
All thoughts turn to you
And the hope you saw the child
And forgave my fear

A little something by H.L. Burke

Thaddues Whiskers and the DragonThaddeus F. Whiskers is a pampered palace pet, a kitten enchanted to never become a cat. Princess Clarice loves him, for in the entire kingdom, there is no other kitten as cute or as clever. He leads a life of cushions and cream until a wizard’s “gift” results in his banishment. Determined to make it back to the princess he loves, he escapes into the wilderness where he discovers the lair of a dragon.
Grandious, the dragon, doesn’t care about anything besides himself. He wants to be left alone with his treasure. However, there is something about Thaddeus that has him entranced. He finds himself opening his home and his heart to the little cat.
Thaddeus is a small creature in a big world. Between him and his beloved Princess stand conniving wizards, would-be-step-mothers, and rampaging rats. However, when danger threatens both Clarice and Grandious, Thaddeus won’t allow his size to get in the way of saving his friends.


For the first several steps, the floor was damp, slick stone, but as he moved inward the ground dried. The warm red glow flickered like the fire in a hearth, one of Thaddeus’s favorite things. He glanced up and stared at the great stalactites jutting from the ceiling like teeth. His tiny mouth dropped open. He put a paw forward, and the ground slipped beneath him with a clinking sound. He stepped again. Clink, clink, clink came each paw-fall. He nudged at one of the strange pebbles, flat and perfectly round, smooth and cold, gleaming in the fire light.
Coins? Thaddeus didn’t have much use for such things, but he knew humans liked them. He vaguely remembered when Hermes had chosen him from a farm cat’s litter to be the princess’s gift. Hermes had given the farmer two of these coin things, and the farmer had seemed quite pleased–even though Hermes had clearly gotten the better end of that deal.
Coins were cold, hard, and not tasty. What was the use of such objects? No wonder they’d been left in a cave.
The only treasure that interested Thaddeus was the source of the light. Light meant fire. Fire meant warmth. Warmth meant dry. Also, someone must have started the fire, which meant there might be humans there. Humans who could feed and care for him.
Water dripped from Thaddeus’s whiskers. He left wet paw-prints as he picked his way over the pile of gold. Coins loosened and slid down the hill in a tinkling avalanche. Thaddeus paused. Had anybody heard that?
He listened, both ears stretching towards the ceiling. He heard something: a repetitive wheezing in and out, like the bellows the maid used on the fire. Lowering onto his belly, Thaddeus crept to the top of the coins and gazed into the center of the cave.
There, curled among the coins and chests, gems and pearls, lay the largest creature Thaddeus had ever seen. Terror gripped the kitten. His tail stuck straight up.
It glistened bright green with scales like a fish’s but solid and dry, rather than supple and covered in butter and lemon juice. Claws, similar in shape to Thaddeus’s but twice the size of his whole body, tipped each of the monster’s four limbs. Great bat-like wings rested in folds at its sides. He remembered seeing a picture of one in Clarice’s books. A dragon. Thaddeus doubted if the creature would fit in King Victor’s throne room.
A creature like this could swallow him without even noticing. As bad as outside was, inside the cave was worse. Where could he go now?
Thankfully, the dragon’s eyes were closed. If Thaddeus backed out slowly . . .
He stepped backwards and something within the pile shifted. The surface Thaddeus had been standing on rolled forward, pulling him with it. He landed on his back even closer to the dragon.

“Lies” by Angela B. Chrysler

As seen in “Broken”

“There at love’s bitter end when the deadened heart is done,
The moon it wanes with one last sigh and the silence breaks. It breathes, “The end.”
And Death it calls as the stone crow breaks. Streaks of blood malform its face.
Death becomes its withered eyes and the shadows whisper, “Lies.”
Broken by Angela B Chrysler 1600x2500Now within the dying ground as I hear my maddened sound,
From the eaves the darkness seeps. It is there that the shadows whisper, “Lies”
With outstretched hand, I call, I moan. My fingers graze Death’s withered hand,
“My love,” I gasp. Despair clamps down, yet all I hear are lies.
With words of love, you kiss my face. Your sodden tears they fall like rain.
With twisted smile or upturned frown, you walk away, my death unfurled,
And I regain my heart betwixt your love, my blood, the lies, the pain
Yet you see none, and there I lay remembering your lies.
Belittle were your words of love, despite the warmth within your touch
You made my body sing and cry, and smiling you would watch me writhe
Voiced with words and sweet caress, you impaled me with your flesh
Now, upon my death we part. Still, the shadows whisper, “Lies.”
Throwing back my naked breast, cold death’s grip, I welcome it.
And at last, with final breath I open up, invite him in.
Through me, riddles Death’s cold hand, as he rakes my skin from bone,
Death, in peace, at last I’ll sleep while the shadows whisper lies.
There at love’s bitter end when the deadened heart is done,
The moon it wanes with one last sigh and the silence breaks. It breathes, “The end.”
And Death it calls as the stone crow breaks. Streaks of blood malform my face.
Death becomes my withered eyes and the shadows whisper, “Lies.”

Brain to Books Blog Tour Ani H. Manjikian

Brain to Books Blog Tour

Fast Facts

Author: Ani H. Manjikian
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi Fantasy, Military, Women’s Fiction
Book: Spirit of the Lone Horse


Ani H. ManjikianBorn and raised in Southern California, the diagnosis of hydrocephalus at birth should have killed Ani, or worse, left her blank to the world. Her strength of spirit, parents’ love, and a miracle all combined to overcome that prognosis within nine months. From this almost impossible beginning, she has developed into all-around person with the technical knowledge and analytical mind of a programmer, creative and detailed orientation of a writer/editor, and aesthetic instincts of a designer/photographer.
Ani’s writing career started when a friend in Cyprus made her promise to stop throwing away her writings because she thought they weren’t good enough. After returning to the States, Ani set out to finish a single horse story and tried to get it published. However, the book, like the writer, needed time to mature.
While perfecting her craft, Ani graduated from San Francisco State with a BA in Industrial Arts and worked several jobs from retail sales to human resources project management. Her innate ability to learn new computer programs with minimal instruction combined with her need to be creative led to her current long-term stint as a web designer and developer.
The book, meanwhile, spawned several siblings until there was enough for a series. Not knowing what to call it, Ani turned to another friend who suggested a word play on the books main themes of horses, space, family, and heroes. Spirit of the Lone Horse, the first book in the Stars of Heros series, was published in March 2015 by Unsolicited Press. The second, Do You Believe in Legend?, is currently in development.

Book Blurb for Ani’s next release

Title: Do You Believe in Legend?
Release Date: TBD
DYBIL-WebJeff Mason has always been a part of Jo’s life, offering an encouraging or wise word when she needed it plus many other things she can never completely thank him for. She has no reason to think of him as anything other her cousin. Then she learns that he replaced her real one, who died saving his life. That discovery plus hearing her own voice in a place where she shouldn’t have leaves Jo wondering about her place in time.
When Jeff’s twin brother Randy falls into her lap, both literally and figuratively, Jo hopes he can give her some answers. There is only one slight problem… He doesn’t remember anything about himself or his life and what he does, doesn’t help.
Together, the three of them learn that life isn’t about who or what you know, but who and what you care for.

Interview with Ani H. Manjikian

Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?

I started really writing because I didn’t think there was enough horse stories in the world. All I wanted to do was that one horse story and forget about it. My series happened by accident when I realized that I had too many things I wanted to do with my characters to fit in one book.
Before I wrote for a purpose, I dabbled or did school assignments. My dabbles usually ended up in the trashcan. One day, while I was living in Cyprus (the country, not the city), a friend of mine got a hold of my dribble. They took a look at it, said it was decent, and made me promise to not to throw away anything I wrote ever again. I’ve managed to keep that promise.
When I’m not writing, I’m editing other people’s works, talking my dogs for a walk, watching TV, programming, playing computer games, reading . . . Mainly just, being a normal person.

Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?) List other titles if applicable.

First published, second written. When I began my writing adventure, I “completed” three books. It was more like I was yelling at the world with the first two. The third survived in an endless editing loop. They and me needed time to mature. When they did, I thought the third book was going to be published first since it seemed the most ready. That is, until someone read it and said that with everything that was happening the needed a little more information first. I figured I had that information in Spirit, even though the storytelling was lousy. I threw 90 percent of it out and went from there.

What genre do you enjoy writing the most and what is this book about?

I don’t like to be confined to one genre, that’s why I like contemporary since by its very definition it spans any and all genres. To me putting labels on something (or someone) just puts them in a box and I hate boxes.
Spirit, on the surface, is about a woman overcoming her fear of horses and attempting to make her lifelong dream come true by riding in and winning a prestigious competition. Someone attacks her team in both subtle and direct ways. One incident apparently lives the woman dead and that’s where the twists and turns in the story really begin.

What inspired you to write this book?

Spirit of the Lone HorseGrowing up, I loved and devoured the Black Stallionseries, Black Beauty, and other horse stories. I couldn’t get enough of them. I noticed that there weren’t many of them out there, so I decided to write one. I never intend to write a series, but, as I got into the story, I realized that there was too much happening and too many questions to be answered for just one book.

How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

In the Black Stallion movie, there is a seen where the Black is looking out and down from a cliff during sunset. I wrote a poem that described the seven attributes I thought of when that image came to mind. Since I was capturing the essence of the a single horse, I came up with the title Spirit of the Lone Horse. The poem, in a modified form, is actually in the book.
The series one a friend of mine gave me. As the series was developing itself, I was looking for an identity for it. I liked the word Heroes, but didn’t want any comparison to the NBC franchise with the same name. My friend suggested a word play on the books main themes of horses, space, family, and heroes. So we came up with Stars of Heros. The cool thing is that Heros is part of Paleo-Balkan mythology (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleo-Balkan_mythology).

Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

I designed it. The full story behind the cover can be found at http://rightthewriter.com/2015/02/22/evolution-of-a-cover/. To sum it up, I had a very strong feeling that the cover needed a horse’s head on it with the horse looking at the reader somehow. Every time I look at the horse on the cover, I think about all the horses I have ever known and how they would give me that all knowing look sometimes. There’s also the added, and unexpected, benefit of the horse’s nose pointing toward the title of the book in the final design. Good layouts are always designed with the idea of directional images leading the reader to important text.

If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?

I’m not sure. I have a few ideas, but I don’t keep up with the latest trends in movies and actors to know who’s hot and who’s not. I could name a few I’d like, but I’m afraid that might be a little too old. Thing is, I wouldn’t want an actor who was just doing the role for the money. I’d want only the ones who had bought into the role they wanted and could identify themselves with the characters and their story. I would want their acting to inspire me when I needed to add more depth to the character. I believe, like with books and their words, if the passion isn’t on the screen, the audience feels and knows it.

Do you have any other talents or hobbies?

Well, to support myself until my writing career takes off, I’m a computer jockey. I develop and code websites based on the designs that I’m given. When I’m not programming, writing, or hanging out on social media, I’m gaming. Not one of those all out let’s win tournament types, but still I enjoy my playtime. I also love to read and listen to music.

Interview Questions

Sorry I couldn’t pick five or seven, but I did limit myself to ten as well as hybrid a few similar ones together.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I like the Ursual Le Guin quote “But when people say, Did you always want to be a writer? I have to say no! I always was a writer.” While I can’t claim that exactly, it’s close to how I feel. I’ve always enjoyed books and stories. I especially love the ones where I can actually hear and see the characters and experience the world they lived in. I hope through my writings I do the same for my readers.
Defining when I first considered myself a writer is hard. I’ve always felt more comfortable expressing myself through writing than speaking. While I like the spotlight, I tend to get nervous when I’m in it. When I’m writing, I don’t have such a constraint. I still try to be respectful, but I can be a little more expressive and enjoy a conversation with someone without worrying about the mixed messages I’m getting from their tone and body language.
Since I first picked up the pen for something other than school assignments, I’ve always felt like writing and being at a known writer was going to be my destiny. I validated that belief when I published my book. My validation grows stronger with the each review the book gains on Amazon. Having a release party of FB book helps too (https://www.facebook.com/events/862491687133820/).I probably should have done the release party thing sooner . . . :))

What does your writing process look like? Are you a plotter or do you write by the seat of your pants?

I’m a fly by the seat of my pantser with a little plotter mixed in. Because I’m working on a series, I have to have the organization part to keep track of everything. Right now, that organization is an official timeline of major events and the fact that I have the ideas for every book laid out in Scrivener. Some have more ideas than others, including complete chapters.
When I write a book, I like to work on the book ends first and then middle. Chapters organize themselves as I follow plot lines, characters, or situations through the manuscript. I’ve gotten more disciplined about working on only one book at a time, but there are times that I start in one book that triggers an idea, or important piece of information, for another book, so, of course, I have to write it down. Or, if I’m stuck on the book I’m working on, I’ll work on another just to get the creative juices flowing.
Having everything in Scrivener helps. I don’t have to worry about saving things, I can move stuff around, and I can cross-reference characters and situations as needed.

Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?

Intimate ones. My style of writing could be classified as Deep Point of View where my goal is submerse my readers into my characters’ lives through experiences that seem, and are real. To me, intimate sex scenes just can’t be researched and described. They have to be experienced than those feelings translated into something meaningful. Problem is I only had an intimate encounter once in my life and it was with a person who I no longer trust or even know.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

There are actually quite a few subjects I wouldn’t right about and only because I’m not sure I could speak with enough of an authoritative, or genuine, voice on them. Being genuine in my storytelling and characters is important to me. Does that limit my ability to write? Hardly.

Who is your favorite character from your book and why? How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?

My favorite character is my main one, Jo Mason. She’s the only character I have to write in 1st person present when she is thinking or speaking. When she isn’t herself or someone else is describing her or an interaction they had with her, then I do 3rd person past. Jo, like her brothers, are reflections of different parts of me. She, especially, because she’s strong-willed, seeks understanding and love, but doesn’t need sex to validate herself, and has a very soft and vulnerable side under her tough, no worries, exterior. She also gets to fly jets, lead people by example, live and work around horses, and other stuff I can imagine doing.
I don’t have a least favorite character. There are ones that are more difficult to write than others because their beliefs and reactions are different than mine. Sill they give me a chance to express myself, so I can really hate them for that.

If you could change one thing about your novel, what would it be?

When I wrote the Spirit, I wanted to silence the Amazon critics who complained about lack of details, shallow characters, and a predictable storyline. While I managed to do that, I think I went a little overboard and made the story a little too complex. Two future books, Hope Amongst Ashes andWhisper in the Wind, will help clear up some of the confusion as they deal with the story behind some of the events mentioned in Spirit. Still, maybe I need to look at each book in the series and evaluate what I’m trying to do with them just to make sure they don’t fall into the “too complex” category as well.

What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?

Know yourself and your story before you venture out into the world. You’ll need this inner strength to keep true to your vision even as you are being bombarded on all sides by the naysayers, the helpful, but sometimes contradicting, advice of the experts, and your own heart and mind when things don’t happened as planned. You’ll also need to be flexible enough to learn and grow with each new experience, wise enough to filter through the BS to find the right people and knowledge to help you, and brave enough to continue when you only have yourself to lean on for support. Feeling, touching, smelling, and holding your book in your hand is worth everything you have to go through to create it.

What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?

Editing. I enjoy the challenge of it, but I hate when I’m finished and still find things that I can improve. I’m not talking the story or something to do with the characters, those are usually caught by the time I’m done. No, it’s the pesky words that decide to go AWOL or come out of left field.

What are you working on now?

The second book in the series called Do You Believe In Legend? I’m not actually writing it, but rewriting to meet the standards set by Spirit. In some ways, I’m struggling with the process because Legend was the book that kept me writing for the longest time after a friend’s betrayal. Because of that, I always thought it was going to be the first book published. Then Spirit came along and turned everything on its ear. Now, I’m having to go back and rework pieces that I’ve already worked on a lot.
In Legend, Jo Mason is dealing with the aftermath of the events in Spirit. When a man from the future falls into her lap, both literally and figuratively, Jo hopes he can give her some answers to the questions she has about her life. There is only one slight problem… The trip back scrambled his brain, so he doesn’t remember much and what he does, doesn’t help, because some of the key events haven’t happened yet in his time.

What is the most difficult thing about being an author?

Having to have a job that pays the bills.

Getting personal

Do you have a pet or pets?

Two dogs. One’s a standard Poodle and the other is a Peakapoo (Pekinese Poodle). Definite size and attitude differences between the two. The larger one is a social butterfly who is very sensitive to both humans and other dogs. For a tough as he acts, when confronted, he’s a drama queen. The smaller one is always figuring things out and doesn’t let things faze her. She tends to be a barker though, and that can be hard on the nerves sometimes, especially when I’m trying to concentrate. The bigger one needs her more than she needs him.

What is your biggest fear?

I actually have two. Feeling like I wasted too much time, so my series is either going to go nowhere (meaning I’ll only be writing it for myself) or I’m going to die before I finish the fourteen core books. Then there is what happens after I die. Do I find out that heaven and hell are real? If so, have I had enough faith or done the right things to end up in the good place? If they don’t exist, then what? Do I spend eternity as dust or do I come back as something else?

What do you want your tombstone to say?

Always good-intentioned, execution was sometimes lousy.

What is something you want to accomplish before you die?

Seeing the Earth from space before I die.

If you could have any accents from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?

Scottish or Irish because of my Gaelic heritage and Australian because I just like the sound of it.

Character Interview

Go ahead and introduce yourself. Tell the audience about yourself.

My name is Joanna C. Mason. Most of my friends and family call me Jo. Everyone else calls me Captain or sir, out of respect to my rank and position. Sometimes those I know have to too. It all depends on who we are around and how much formality they expect. Anyway, I’m the Commanding Officer of United States Mounted Band Los Angeles and the Mason Seven Command, Support, Auxiliary (CSA) Team.
I have six brothers, four stepbrothers, a son, and a nephew. I’m the eldest by two minutes. Parents, grandparents, and one uncle are dead. The other uncle lives down in San Diego with his wife Rose. Most of the losses happened during my pre-teen and teen-aged years.
There isn’t that much to tell about me. Part of my career is classified and the rest, well, is just ordinary, if you consider that I’m a woman in a command position. Even though the USMB strives for equality in everything, there is still areas where a person is judged for what they are and not who they are.

Tell us where and when were you born.

I was born in 1971 at the USMBLA hospital. At the time, USMBLA was located in the same spot It had been for 121 years, in the Antelope Valley at the current site of USMB Lancaster, somewhere near Edwards AFB. When I was five, they moved the base to the Los Angeles side of the San Gabriel Mountains.
The base, like the UMSB, has a rich history. In 1850, the government crated the Los Angeles Mounted Scouts, a unit that could act as a buffer between the native and settler population to protect the new state and municipality without causing too much of a fuss. My great-great-grandfather, Lt. Colonel Robert C. Mason, assumed command of the new unit. For eleven years, the LAMS went about its business without much of a footnote in history, though they handled several conflicts.
At the beginning of the Civil War, the unit split into two, the Los Angeles Mounted Rifles and the California Mounted Band. Colonel Mason, a Union officer, transferred his staff and himself to the CMB. The unit spent a majority of the war entertaining civilians and troops, but did see some front line action during the Battle of Picacho Peak in 1862. The LAMR mustered out by the end of 1861.
Toward the end of the war, CMB performances became neutral territory where there was no Union or Confederacy for a few hours. Witnessing the power and hope of these moments, Colonel Mason petitioned his superiors to create more units like the CMB across the country. The request ended up on some secretary’s desk and would have remained there for infinity had he not passed away in July of 1865. His superiors wanted to honor him for his service, so at his funeral they declared the CMB the first unit of the United States Mounted Band and renamed the CMB’s fort USMBLA. Since then, the organization has promoted peace through music around the world.

How would you describe yourself?

A simple, but complicated, person. Simple in the fact that I’m, for the most part, what you see or hear. I seek truth and peace for all and strive to protect those I care for, even if I only know them by their name and not much else. There’s too much hurt and sadness in the world. I know, even with the power I have at my command, I can’t fix it all and that just hits me the wrong way.
I’m complicated because of the shadow I carry in my head. I was trying to help my stepfather expose the wrong doings of a controversial unit with the USMB. Things didn’t go as planned, so I ended up serving as a mindless, emotionless, and soulless operative who thought about death like normal human beings think about breathing. Not very proud of that time in my life and very lucky and grateful that I’m back to being me.

Tell us about where you grew up.

Pretty much where I was born, except on a different side of the mountains. I don’t remember much before I was five except for it being hot and uncomfortable sometimes. What I like about USMBLA’s current location is that it still sometimes gets hot, but we have a large forested section of the base where we can cool off, if need be.
USMBLA has always been my home. Sure I’ve gone off and served at other bases, but I always manage to make it back here. Though, there was one point in my life where I didn’t think I was going to, but then I wasn’t myself at the time. Will I spend the rest of my career here? Yeah, most likely. Because of the shadow in my head, I have a cap on my promotions, so I’ll end up retiring as a Captain and the CO of USMBLA when the time comes. At least I was certain that was my fate until last year. Now, I’m not so sure.

Tell everyone what it is you do when you’re not on the base?

Hmmm, well there is no real distinction between when I’m on and off duty because I’m always surrounded by friends and family. Yes, I know that unusual for a military organization, but, despite the military hardware it has, the USMB doesn’t get involved in world conflicts unless it’s asked and even then, they only do to try and bring about a resolution with the least amount of bloodshed.
Anyway, getting back to me, the only way I know which side of the blurry line I’m on is how many people my choices will affect. If it’s only one or a few, then I know I’m off-duty. So that’s why I’m always careful with what I decide.

Are you seeing anyone?

Ha. I tried. Believe me I tried, but things with the opposite sex never work out. I have friends who are guys and I love my brothers, but the whole boyfriend / girlfriend thing has taken a backseat to my career.   I’ve met and dated half a dozen guys, but it’s usually a one night stand.
There was Patch, though. Jo’s face softens as her lips take a subtle downward turn. He personified the Southern California surfer dude stereotype. Tall, suntanned to perfection with a sculpted body, shoulder-length blonde hair, and sparkling green-blue eyes, his passion for life was as intense as the way he lived it. Does that mean I fell for him the instant I saw him? Hell, no. In fact, I thought he was an arrogant jerk who couldn’t see two feet past his nose. When I told him that, he flashed a warm smile and said I’d get used to him.
The road of getting used to Patch was a long, uneven one. Sure, his charming good looks and warm smile made liking him easy. The way he anticipated me and completed my sentences reminded me of my twin, Jim. In fact, Patch almost reached the point where he could mirror and counterbalance me as much as Jim did. He had a wild and dark side that rubbed me the wrong way, though. Unexplainable fits of rage over the stupidest things transformed him into a nasty son of a bitch without warning. We had many arguments where our intense personality fed off with each other. Since I pretty much remained the rational one, I tried to control how far our explosions went. I even left him a couple times after the more serious ones, but love blinded me when his sweet side showed up, so I always ended up going back.
It was one of those fits that killed him. I don’t remember what started it, but it was the first time he took a swing at me. Instead of defending myself like my training suggested, I ducked and he punched a hole in a nearby wall. After he withdrew his bloodied fist, he glared at me and stormed out of the room. I followed him, trying to talk sense into him, but he didn’t hear anything, except his own demons. He drove away, and two hours later, I heard about a rollover accident on I-5. When I saw pictures of the car, I recognized it almost immediately.
At least his spirit lives on in his son RJ. Jo sighs, but that’s a story for another time.

Tell us about your greatest fear.

Other than horses or losing control to my shadow? It’s not doing enough to make sure the human race survives all the crazy stupidity of the times we live in. I wish people would just realize that despite our differences in beliefs and the color of skin, we all bleed red. We also need to take better care of ourselves and the planet we live on. Not sure what’s it’s going to take to get those messages through to people’s thick skulls before it’s too late.
The phone attached to Jo’s hip buzzes. She palms it, looks its face, and then looks up.
Some Admiral’s at the gate looking to earn a few brownie points by doing a surprise inspection of my base. Bureaucrats . . . I wonder what the world would be like without them. Anyway, before I go, my friend who wrote our story asked me to give a plug for the book. It’s called Spirit of the Lone Horse and while there are horses in it, there’s a lot more going on, trust me. It’s a pretty interesting read. To me, it’s a little too detailed in some parts, but I think that’s because John, my brother who is a walking encyclopedia, got his hands on the final copy before it went to print. He’s a stickler for details and making sure that things are said just right. Me, not so much. Thanks for taking the time to listen to my ramblings. I’ll catch you later.

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Brain to Books Blog Tour Laxmi Harihara

Brain to Books Blog Tour Laxmi Harihara

Fast Facts:

Author: Laxmi Harihara
Genre: YA Action-Thriller
Book: The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer (Ruby Iyer #1)


Laxmi HariharaA near life incident told Laxmi Hariharan to write. She never stopped. Laxmi has been a journalist with The Independent and a global marketer with MTVand NBCUniversal. She is the author of the kindle bestselling, epic fantasy The Destiny of Shaitan (Bombay Chronicles, 1) and blogs for the Huffington Post among others. She has a weakness for skinny tattoed rock stars, electronica & sweetened chai. London is where she creates. Bombay is what fires her imagination.

Author Accomplishments

The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer debuted #1 Hot New Release on Amazon Asian LIt, and placed as a finalist at the National Indie Excellence Awards.


The Many Live of RRuby IyerA YA action thriller, with strong dystopian undertones, taking you on a white knuckle ride through a disintegrating Bombay City.

A terrifying encounter propels Ruby Iyer from her everyday commute into a battle for her own survival. Trusting her instincts, she fights for what she believes in and is led on a mysterious path between life and death on the crowded roads of Bombay. When her best friend is kidnapped by the despotic Dr Braganza, she will do anything to rescue him. Anything, including taking the help of the sexy Vikram Roy, a cop-turned-rogue, on a mission to save Bombay. The city needs all the help it can get, and these two are the only thing standing between its total destruction by Dr Braganza’s teen army. As Bombay falls apart, will Ruby be able to save her friend and the city? Will she finally discover her place in a city where she has never managed to fit in? And what about her growing feelings for Vikram?


… a white-knuckle ride through a disintegrating Bombay as a terrifying encounter propels our heroine from her everyday commute into a battle for survival – her own survival and the survival of the city she loves.” – Fran Pickering, Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award winning author.
“Laxmi Hariharan can write! With great detail and high emotions, Ms. Hariharan’s world feels real, depressed and stark.” – Dii, Amazon Top 500 reviewer
“…In the end it’s not only Ruby who has many lives and many possible paths: it’s the reader who follows her journey to self-realization and newfound perspectives. And perhaps this is the greatest strength of all in a dystopian young adult novel that presents so much more than a singular, easy path.” – D. Donovan, eBook Reviewer, MBR (Midwest Book Reviews)
 “The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer, intricately weaves high stakes adventure, voracious determination born out of love, and richly detailed prose in one captivating story. In a market flooded with YA thrillers and dystopian fantasies, The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer offers the best features of this subgenre while forging new paths in its setting and context.”  – Charmaine Savage, Reviewer, NetGalley
“The author does an excellent job of portraying the city-as-a-mother, leaving the hero(ine) to grapple with the dilemma of choice.” – Jormund Elver
“Laxmi builds worlds populated with endearingly down to earth bravehearts.” – Inma Martinez, world leading digital media strategist (FORTUNE and TIME)


The Origins of Ruby Iyer
Growing up in Bombay I was weighed down by the expectations of traditional Indian society. Yet, I wanted to be economically independent. So, daily I would leave the relative safety of home, knowing that my commute to work was going to be nightmarish. It’s just how public transport is in this city. When you get on a bus you know that the man standing behind is going to brush against you. When you walk through a crowded local train platform, you accept that you are probably going to be felt up. Every time this happened to me, I would get really angry.
But, I would deal with it and get on, because if I raised my voice or did something about it, the results would not bode well for me. So, when a young photojournalist was raped in the centre of Bombay in broad daylight, I was furious.
It was as if nothing had changed in all the years I had been away.
Then, I had a vision of this young girl who would not back down anymore; who would stand up for herself regardless of the consequences. Who would follow her heart … Thus Ruby Iyer was born.
Make no mistake though Ruby is her own person. She leads and I follow.
THE MORNING INVOCATION from the Shiva temple seeps through the holes in the faulty concrete walls of my bedroom. By the time they reach my ears, the Sanskrit chants entwine with the pinging of my iPhone, a multi-layered vibration, which blends with the humming of the air conditioner. The resultant noise is a mix of the spiritual and the electronic, tinged with the salty air from the Arabian Sea. It’s that special Bombay vibe, found only in the former seven islands of Bom Bahia—the Good Bay, as named by its Portuguese founders. Reaching out to shut off the phone, my hand slams into the glass of water next to my bed. It promptly falls over, the crash more effective in cutting through my sleep than the iPhone’s wake-up alarm.
Meanwhile, the air conditioner works overtime, trying to bring down the temperature of the room to less than blistering hot. I stumble out of bed and into the adjoining kitchen to fire up the stove below the saucepan half filled with water.
“Where’s my chai?” Pankaj, my flatmate, props himself against the doorway to his own cubicle-sized room.
“Get it yourself, bitch,” I reply mildly, spooning out tea leaves into a saucepan.
“… Please?” He wheedles, “Pretty please?”
Ha! I’ve trained him well. “But, since you have asked me so politely … I might just make your chai.This time.
“Haven’t I told you to wait till the water boils before adding the tea leaves?” Pankaj protests. I mentally mouth before adding the tea leaves in sync with his voice.
“Okay, Mum,” I mumble, splashing milk into the now boiling liquid and letting the concoction stew for a few seconds before pouring it into the mismatched cups. I add sugar to Panky’s cup, pausing in the act of adding a spoonful to my own.
“Ah! Time for the sugar dance, I see.”
“Umph!” It’s uncomfortable that Panky knows me that well.
“Go on, do it, Ruby. A spoonful more can’t kill you.”
Of course, I agree with him. Not that I would ever admit to it aloud. I dunk in the sugar, stirring it quickly. If I didn’t see it, it didn’t exist, right?
Sliding one of the cups towards him, I gulp down the steaming liquid from the other. The blood vessels along my skin bloom as if dancing to the sudden onslaught of the monsoons.
“Don’t kill all your taste buds in one go, now,” Panky says, grinning.
“I have to drink my chai boiling hot.”
“No kidding!” He teases. “You are the first South Indian I know who prefers tea to coffee.”
“Strange, no?” I perch on the sole remaining barstool at the tiny breakfast nook. “I knew we were going to be friends for life from the moment you called me a South Indian, instead of that hated Mword.”
“The M word?” Pankaj sputters. “Whoever says Madrasi anymore? Just because Madras is one of the biggest cities in the south of India, doesn’t mean you just have to label anyone from the regionMadrasi.
“I know, right? Once, I had my friend Tania over for lunch. Ma was happy to ignore her till she asked me innocently if I was Madrasi. At which point Ma gave poor Tania an earful and had her run off crying. I don’t know what traumatised me more—having my best friend call me Madrasi or losing a friend, thanks to Ma’s outburst.”
Not that being called Madrasi is derogatory. It had just felt uncool in South Bombay, or SoBo, as those square miles of eye-wateringly expensive real estate are called. I had grown up there surrounded by prime quality human specimens, all tall, and fair, bearing genes of their Aryan forefathers from the north of the country.
Culturally we may well have been from another planet, the smells and sounds of my home were that alien to them.
“Your ma’s quite a character, hanh?”
“Yah!” You have no idea! “You should meet my dad, though.”
Panky opens his mouth as if to ask another question about my family. I am relieved when instead he queries, “Breakfast?”
“Nah … On a diet, remember?”
“No dinner, no breakfast—you are going to fade away,” he chides.
“If only that were true. This,” I pinch the pyjama-clad skin of my thighs, holding it out to the side, “is proof that I have enough fat to survive a few famines.”
“Honestly, lovely,” he grumbles, “you do need energy to survive.”
“I live on vitamin C and fresh air,” I proclaim.
“In this city? Perhaps you should rephrase that to vitamin D and recycled air.”
Panky always has these facts right at his fingertips. Trust me to have the only fashion-conscious, high IQ geek in the world for a best friend.
I pat his cheek. “Stop worrying. I will be just fine.” Tossing back the dregs of my chai, I thump my mug down. “It’s an experiment,” I call out over my shoulder, en route to my room. “I am trying to see how many meals I can skip before I give in to the hunger.”
Panky groans, “Why can’t you place the used mug in the sink? I simply don’t understand, you spoilt children from rich homes …”
It makes me grin with wicked pleasure.
Passing the sword hanging on the wall of the living room, I pull it down, brandishing it at him in a mock attack. It’s a strange weapon inherited from a past tenant. It’s quite ugly to look at, and rusted from the sea air. Yet it seems to have some kind of antique value; it’s probably the most valuable thing in the run-down living room. It’s definitely the quirkiest item there.
Our landlady, Mrs D’Souza, has furnished the room, combining antique pieces with modern glass and chrome. It’s an unsettling combination, as if I am forever balanced on a portal between the past and the future.
I slip the sword into its sheath and hang it back on the hook. My regular workouts with the weapon have made me feel rather possessive about it. Or perhaps it has claimed me?
Walking past my bedroom into the bathroom, I drop my pyjamas before stepping into the shower.
Despite my earlier dawdling, I am dressed in under ten minutes. I throw on my usual uniform of sneakers and a plaid shirt tucked into the waistband of skinny Diesel jeans, with my satchel-like handbag slung over my shoulder. Oversized Ray-Bans are perched on my nose.
I may have left SoBo, but damned if I was going to give up my designer clothes. Sure I am just an intern, but hey, nothing stops me from being with it, right?
I pause at the doorway to the living room. Panky has draped himself across the settee with the delirious chatter of a hyper-excited news presenter for company. “… Mars, Earth, and the sun all aligned last night, a rare opposition of the planets that only happens once every 778 days. But this event is even more remarkable as it occurred precisely a week before everyone on Earth will see the first of four blood-red moons. An extraordinary event some believe represents the second coming of the saviour …”
“Oh! What trash,” I complain. “It’s worse than reality TV. And why is she always screaming at the top of her voice?”
“It’s breaking news, and she’s excited to break it to us. Isn’t that enough?” Panky asks. “Besides, I am a news junkie.” He turns down the volume and whistles. “Sexy model look today, I see?”
“You think?” I pose, my right hand on my slightly thrust out hip. “Really, Panky? This is hardly sexy.”
“It’s those sunglasses, my dear. V-e- r‑y sexy.”
“And here I was trying to downplay my allure.” I flutter my eyelashes.
“Just the opposite, d-ah-ling!”
“Will it attract too much attention?” I ask, worried. “Should I change, you think?”
There is bound to be at least one smart-ass, wannabe Romeo on the street who is going to whistle while cycling by, or offer rude remarks while I’m walking past.
“Nah!” Pankaj assures me. “You can handle yourself, no? After all, if it wasn’t for you …”
I know he is thinking about how we met. One night, on the way back home, I had stumbled across Panky, surrounded by three other kids. One of them had him by the collar, the other held a knife. They had been trying to rob him of his phone and his wallet. Good thing I had some knowledge of self-defence.
I stayed to help Panky.
And they had come at both of us.
If it had not been for a family passing by who had raised the alarm … I dread to think what would have happened.
Still, one rash act of courage does not mean I am used to unwanted male scrutiny on the streets.
I am better at coming to other people’s aid than my own.
“I am not so sure.” The skin-tight jeans live up to their promise, embracing my curves. I know the trousers will seem provocative.
Glancing down at my iPhone to check the time, I shrug. “Damn, no time to change anyway.” I pull at the shirt till it comes free of the jeans, the material now halfway to my thighs.
“Gotta go, bye, honey!” I blow Pankaj a kiss. It’s a joke between us, this role-playing at matrimony.
“Ciao, darling.” Pankaj grimaces. “We’re never gonna find husbands at this rate.”
I lean over to kiss his smooth cheek. “With friends like you, who needs a man?” I grin.
“I do!” Pankaj’s voice follows me out the door as I run towards the gates of our bungalow in Pali Hill, the most genteel of all the middle-class suburbs of the city.
I pause on the threshold next to a man who is always there, just outside the gates. He is always bent over his notebook: writing.
He has curly hair worn in a halo as if to contain the flow of letters, like Lord Shiva trying to contain the restless holy Ganges river in his matted locks. As always, he is wearing faded jeans, a grey shirt tucked in, and a tie loosely knotted around his neck. His shoes have seen better days. The sign in front of him reads:
The end is near
There’s an upturned hat to receive any donations from passers-by. He never asks for money.
He is a writer.
He is a beggar.
“How many days, then?” I ask as I always do. It’s another running joke in my life, this wisecracking with the gentleman-beggar. He’s never answered me. Till now.
He holds up his fingers: seven of them.
A tremor runs down my back.
“Seven what? Months? Years?” I demand fiercely.
He only smiles, showing a gap between his front teeth. I am looking for reassurances. I get questions in return. I run out of the gates of the bungalow.
Having hailed down an auto rickshaw, I stand on the platform of Bandra train station. I have to position myself sideways to fit between the saree-clad aunty on one side, and a girl furiously working the keys of her phone on the other. The fishy smell of sweaty armpits shot through with the sharp notes of red carbolic—Lifebuoy soap—entangle in the hairs of my nostrils.
A ripple runs through the throng in anticipation of the arrival of the train. We are runners at the start of an obstacle race, each of us itching to be the first off the mark.
I brush away a light stroke on my thigh, concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other, pushing away the large handbag of the woman next to me, which threatens to get in the way, hampering my own jump to the finish line. As the touch persists, I finally look down to see a hand. It brushes my thigh, once, then again. Its fingers walk their way up my leg, disappearing underneath the hem of my shirt. The hand has a life of its own, detached from its owner. It pauses once to gently squeeze the soft bulge of my jeans around the skin of my inner thigh.
I follow the arm, the other way, all the way up to the face of the thin, gangly fellow it belongs to. Where did he come from? And I had thought it was safe to travel in the ladies’ compartment.
He stares straight ahead, a serene look on his features, as if to say, Don’t look at me, I don’t know what my hand is doing, really! It belongs to someone else.
I open my mouth to protest at the invasion, yet something stops me from saying anything aloud. Should I scream? Shove away that horrible thing even now touching my body?
He smiles. Innocence—it flickers on his face, breaking the trance I have fallen into. My hand jerks up to slap him; once, twice—and then I am falling.
Shoved by the same hand, I am thrust through the birth canal of the crowds. I burst through to the other side, plunging headfirst off the platform. Hitting the edge of the surface, I tumble onto the railway tracks. Pain explodes through my side.
I have always obsessed about the future … is it because I don’t have one?


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