Writer Gal Letter #3

The List: TOP 9 YA Characters Who Kick Ass and Take Names (and turn me into a fangirl)

The List is a series of blog posts which explores the things I love about books, reading, men, shoes, art and pop culture in, you guessed it, list form.

Jace Wayland fanart

Harry Potter. Edward Cullen. Percy Jackson. All genre-bending teenage/ young adult heroes that basically made even grown women’s hearts swoon.

In the case of the pansy-ass sparkling vampire, he even spawned off a successful fan fiction franchise, which let’s face it, stars a much-hotter dude than the original ever could. That being said, I am and always will be, I heart Team Edward complete with a t-shirt and everything.

It is incidental that all three heroes sold millions of copies of books and their series are the most popular thing in the history of writing. Not literature, because FSOG does not great literature make.

But as I am always ready to go on a YA-reading binge, I have stumbled across a lot of great, talented authors who could give Stephanie Mayer a run for her money. And heroes, who I SWEAR, are such cool, much awesomer than their real-life, grownup counterparts.

You call it reading, I call this research but hey, all for a good cause in search of writing the next perfect novel.

Anyway, with this much reading (35 books in as many days) I fell in love with the genre all over again and the characters who made it so popular.

Young adult love is this AMAZING space to explore so many issues of identity: political, emotional, sexual, and spiritual. And any of these authors will guarantee you a good time, so go ahead and pick ‘em up after giving this post a read.

Here are my top nine Young Adult Heroes of all time in descending order

9. Seth Summer

Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver trilogy has star-crossed lovers Seth and Grace become werewolves at different times, pulled together by a deep, abiding love that is best captured by German poet Rainer Maria Rilke. Stiefvater’s prose is stunning and lyrical but it is Seth’s longing that shines through clearly with each book.

Seth is reluctant Alpha in the making, wounded by his tormented relationship with his parents and his desperate, hopeful love for Grace is a thing of absolute beauty. Read it all in one sitting to get a new twist on ancient werewolf lore.

8. Prince Ash and Shakespeare’s Robin Goodfellow

Julie Kagawa has quickly become one of my new favorite YA authors to watch out for. Her retelling of the land of faerie (one of two entries on this list) using characters from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is spot on and funny and with a heroine -Meghan Chase – who is mouthy and courageous and dependable.

She isn’t prone to hand-wringing except when pining over Winter Prince Ash, or ‘Ice-boy’ as Puck loves to call him. While there is no actual love triangle since Meghan clearly has the hots only for Ice-boy, the two characters are memorable for their hateship-friendship and of course, Ash is one hot Faerie Prince. He is also very open with his feelings once he sheds his ice-boy persona and that is such a welcome change from the contemp heroes who make you work for it!

7. Percy Jackson

Between Harry and Percy, I’d choose Percy simply because he has more character flaws and he is so very messed up with his choices (choosing to take a dip in the River Styx, picking a fight with Ares!) His choices are messed up but his courage and battle tactics more than make up for his hubris.

Plus, the demigod is loyal to a fault (Harry/Ron fighting over the Horcrux!!!) and that gives this dangerous boy-next-door pizzaz that everyone’s favorite wizard lacks.

6. Rath Roiben Riven

Roiben is one of Holly Black’s many, many creations . But by far, he is my absolute favorite, although Prince Carden from The Cruel Prince is fast catching up.

Stuck up, annoying, and proper almost to a fault, Rath Roiben more than makes up for the trouble he causes Kaye Thomas from the Tithe trilogy by giving up his rightful place as King of the Unseelie Court to be with her! (Yeah, these princes and their foreswearing…lesser mortals stand no chance, do they ladies?)

Rath Roiben Riven is not his actual name but if I give it away here, y’all might use it to make him fall in love with you and we can’t have that, can we? Read the book to find out what his real name is!

5. Carswell Thorne, Wolf, Emperor Kaito and Jacyn Clay

Marissa Meyer, the other Meyer has written a fabulous retelling of fairytales with Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter. Winter is by far my favorite because it has all the heroes and their storylines merging together to form a great finale. Not a disappointment at ALL!

And yeah, Kai is a pretty great guy for falling for Android Lunar Princess-in-hiding Cinder, it’s Wolf’s absolute devotion to Scarlet and his absolute berserker that really got me. Same for Sargent Jacyn Clay with Princess Winter (their mad-love and Snow White-worthy ending made reading 800 pages of Winter so delicious!)

And if there was a prize for Most Irreverent Pirate Of All, it would go to Captain Carswell Thorne. He is badass, funny and droll! It’s an irresistible combination of charm and piquancy and unexpected vulnerability that made Cress and me fall for him, hook, line and sinker.

4. Patch Cipriano aka Angel Jev

So Becca Fitzpatrick’s Patch in the Hush Hust series has this way of talking to heroine Nora Grey that made me feel like I was in the middle of a French film. Every line was full of double meaning, innuendo and so damned classy despite it all.

And, on top of that, he was determined to save her (over and over again) when he’d been sent to kill her! He does display stalkerish tendencies but his Italian black-eyes more than make up for it and color me impressed when he gives Nora a necklace with his real name on it. Promise. Ring. Much.

3. Dimitri Belikov

Technically Richelle Mead’s baddest of the badass Dhampirs Dimitri Belikov is not YA young, (he is 24 when he is introduced to us in Vampire Academy), and when I first read of a guy who is six-seven and snooty and uptight with a liquid vodka Russian accent to boot, I was like WHAAAAT?! No, not working for me. Then I saw the movie (badly-made, deliciously cast) and I was all onboard the Dimitri train.

By book three Shadow Spell I was totally swooning over Dimitri and rooting for Rose Hathaway (she can totally take Buffy’s place as a vamp-loving demon hunter any day) to get it on with him. Honestly, he was the only Strigoi vampire I could imagine macking with, even as I read feverishly for the cure that would change him back to the loving, warm (more action/less talk) Dimitri that Rose adored.

2. Kaz Brekker And The Crow Five

So I can NOT stress enough how much I love Leigh Bardugo’s writing. She dazzled with her first Grisha trilogy, but in my humble opinion, she’s come into her own with the Crow duology! Set in the same world as the Grishas but a separate storyline, Six of Crows’ ringleader Kaz Brekker, alley rat turned king of the Ketterdam docks is that rare hero: Bad to the bone, vulnerable to just the heroine Inej (OH! WHAT A JOY SHE IS!) and so smart you could kiss him for his brains alone. He limps (a la Dr. House) and has his personality to match but there is so much going on with Kaz, it’s like reading about a character who constantly plays chess like a grandmaster.

Crooked Kingdom, the next in the duology was a revelation – in terms of storytelling, character reveals and an ending I did not see coming. But Kaz and The Crow Five have eternally earned my love and devotion forevermore.

I cannot wait for the next book in the Grishaverse – King of Scars, featuring beloved characters from both series.

1. Jace Wayland

So Jace Wayland has been my favorite YA hero since 2009 when City of Ashes, the second book in the Mortal Instruments’ Trilogy released and I read arguably, the BEST finale ever written in a book.

Sure, I find Cassandra Clare’s Clary Fairchild to be occasionally whiny, but Jace kicks ass up, down and four ways to Sunday. Jace is a jerk, an arrogant know-it-all with no apparent vulnerabilities and also vaguely stalkerish tendencies. Plus, he lashes out when he is hurt and at the end of City of Bones, he turned out to be Clary’s brother! EWWW, right? Wrong.

Cuz then comes CoA and everything I loved about young adult heroes became this boy, the yardstick by which I measure all future young adult heroes by.

Demon hunter extraordinaire, a musician in his spare time and using humor as a defense mechanism Jace is ALL that you want from a hero, YA or otherwise. He is Nephilim (half mortal-half angel) brave, badass, reckless, smart, and uses his heart to his own detriment.

His friendship with Alec Lightwood and Isabelle Lightwood is a rare and wondrous thing to read in modern books and he perfectly embodies the Perfect Outsider alienation emotion with every character reveal. He also has these amazing amber eyes that…well, you get the picture! I could gush about this boy forever!

Honorable Mentions

Magnus Bane, Alec Lightwood, Will Lightwood, Simon Lewis, Jem Carstairs: While not as exciting as Jace, the other heroes (The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices) created by Clare too are worthy of also-ran mentions. Will and Jem are another perfect example of Parabatai and Will is so charmingly irreverent, he and Carswell Thorne might well kill each other or become best friends if they ever met each other. Simon is hands down, the cutest. Vampire. Ever.

Peeta Mellark: Yeah, Susan Collins’s doomed Tribute could have made the top eight if Kaz hadn’t come along and upset the apple cart. But the truth is, he is NICE enough to make a great hero, just not badass enough. He is smart as all hell though with that camouflage trick in The Hunger Games, isn’t he?

Malyen Oretsev: I am become a blade. Leigh Bardugo’s hero from the original Grisha trilogy has this tattooed on his back as the series progresses and he realizes how far apart from the heroine Saint Alina Starkov he really is, how he can never be powerful and magic like her. And how his hunting and killing skills are the only things of value he has to offer her, apart from his wasted, beautiful heart. Extreme sighs alert.

Cabel Strumheller: Lucy McMann’s words are like bullets. Fast, piercing, lovely and sure to leave a scar. Her hero Cabel is no one special. Just an ordinary high school student with a very gifted girlfriend who he is madly in love with. And that’s EXACTLY why he is so awesome. He lets dream catcher Janie from the Wake, Fade, Gone series take the lead and provides silent backup and never once tells I told you so to her even when she almost gets raped/killed in a dream. Isn’t that just what we all want in a dude?

Angel Akiva: Just his name was enough to make me reconsider all my notions of love and happy ever after, and in Laini Taylor’s first book Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I was flat out falling for Akiva (meaning shelter in Hebrew). But in the second book, things took a dark turn and he started crying a LOT. I mean, a LOT! His fighting skills took a drastic backseat and he became an also-ran instead of ending up in the top 9. May I add that the series too took a drastic turn for the depressing in Days of Blood and Starlight. 

So, there you have it, folks. My dream list of yummy heroes. Demigods, fairy princes, fallen angels, alley rats and more made the cut. Who’s on yours? Tell me in the comments below.

Till next time,
Xx
Writer Gal aka Aarti V Raman.

PS: There is one hero who I refuse to mention here who has equal claim on my silly reader’s heart as Jace Wayland: Half-Bad trilogy hero Nathan Blackwood, who becomes such a comically tragic figure in the end, it reads like an emo song. I mean! WHY! WHY did he have to die Sally Green? Why couldn’t he have just lived with Gabrielle’s happy memories such as they were?

Till next time,

Aarti

Writer Gal Letter #2

Let’s Talk About Flesh And Bone

Let’s Talk About is a series of blog posts where Writer Gal gives her (unsolicited) take on pop culture – aka TV series and movies – that she shamelessly binge watches in the name of ‘research.’

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Sarah Hay and Sasha Redetsky in Flesh and Bone, Pilot

The greatest love will, of necessity, bring us great pain – Thomas Merton

As a writer of romance, this statement holds true on all accounts for me. Actually, to all of us, doesn’t it?

Hell, never mind romance. Let’s ask Edmund Hillary or Philippe Petit or even our homegrown awesome superheroes at ISRO who launched Mangalaayan with half the money in half the time if they had an easy time of it. Theirs was a labor of blood, sweat, and tears.

In 2015, the Starz original series Flesh and Bone (8 episodes, available on Netflix) finally became available. I’d heard buzz of it on, haha, Buzzfeed about a group of dedicated ballet artists who take on the prestigious American Ballet Company of New York by storm, all over again.

I was excited, and finally free enough to start watching it. I loved the first two Center Stage movies which were set at ABC. The movies were a bit cheesy, I agree but they showcased a delicate art form in a gorgeous way.

Flesh and Bone makes no such mistake. There is no cheese in the script. It is raw and violent and visceral. Am sure, most of it is an accurate portrayal of how things are run in the business but what really struck me about the whole new cast of characters (apart from the sexy Sasha Redetsky) was that all of them are driven. Driven, determined and damaged.

All of them have great personal pain that translates to a moving rendition of choreographed movements.

It begins with the carefully colored title sequence with a haunting melody by Karen O, interspersing ballet moves with high-heels and a bird taking flight and losing blood. The stark analogy is not lost on anyone who watches the pilot.

This story is about pain.

Period.

It continues with the very first shot, that of an upturned ballerina doll lying askew on the floor. There is something so very WRONG with the picture that one cannot help but be intrigued and worried at the same time.

All hallmarks of a good storyteller. (Flesh and Bone has been created by Breaking Bad alum Moira-Walley Beckett).

But the dance is at its riveting best when Claire Robbins ( Sarah Hay, Golden Globe nominee), the naïve but painfully graceful ingénue performs a solo adagio to Debussy’s Claire de Lune, at the behest of Paul Greyson the viciously demanding artistic director (he is not Peter Gallagher, that’s for sure) I could see that it was not just dance, not just chasing perfection that was making her eyes glassy with unshed tears.

She has a secret and it hurts her soul and gives her art a dimension it would not otherwise have. I won’t reveal what it is, but suffice it to say, this is NOT Center Stage Part 3. It’s fresh and interesting and dark AF.

Singers and dancers have always been revered and yet reviled, a fate that has escaped musicians and painters. I won’t include writers in any of these categories, because hey, I am writing the post.

A haunting melody, a moving lyric or a soulful tune has touched our soul in an ephemeral way that remains with us forever. And the people who create this art, this consumable art I would say have had the touch/don’t touch tag attached to them.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that singing and dancing have long been considered a domain of people who are not interested in true exaltation. Maybe singing and dancing have been associated with courtesans and troubadours from time immemorial giving the arts a less-than-perfect shine.

Maybe people are just that weird, I don’t know.

Flesh and Bone also deals with another important aspect of working in entertainment. What does it take to become a star? Is it just talent, good looks, casting couch or more?

Anyone in entertainment will tell you how hard it is to breakthrough.

The blood, sweat, and tears that we put into ourselves (yes, now I include us writers) whether it is just to write that novel, or sell it, never mind market it into a bestseller will make an ordinary Joe weep. Yet, we plod on for the love of it. Even if it causes us great pain.

Tara Trivedi from The Perfect Fake has to answer this question: how far are you willing to go in order to get what you want? How much blood, sweat, and tears is she willing to shed?

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To find out more, read The Perfect Fake, when it comes out in July 2018.

Till next time,

XX

Writer Gal

 

Writer Gal Letter #1

An Intro To The Perfect Fake

The Intro Series is a series of blog posts explaining the muses/inspirations/origins and, most times, the problems faced by Writer Gal as she deconstructs her own books.

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Bad boys.

Women hear the phrase and shiver delicately as visions of a guy in a leather jacket, a ripping motorbike (or Jeep, if that gets you going) and piercing whatever color eyes spring into their minds. Yeah, not for nothing do we have overactive imaginations and make the world go round with our bodice-ripping scenes.

Bad boys.

The quintessential hero of many a romance: dark, brooding, oftentimes mysterious, with an agenda of his own, that the heroine gets to discover really late in the game and…let’s say it, an ass that just won’t quit.

Heathcliff, Kaleb Krychek (Ok, I admit it. I LOVE Kaleb. I LOVE HIM), Sebastian St.Vincent, Derek Craven, Cian McKenna, and Shiv Naren Pal (see what I did there!) are just a few examples of these less-than-upstanding men.

But the way they love is, in the words of another bad boy Leo Ramsey “like a madman who won’t stop till he dies.”

I know. Sigh.

Bad boys.

The guilty pleasure that every romance reader looks for because if THAT bad boy can be tamed by THAT good girl, then so can mine if/when I find him.

My aim in breaking down this hero is not to objectify him (ok, not consciously) but to make it absolutely clear that when it comes to the opposite sex, we women are probably guilty of far more literary transgressions than men.

Cut to December 2015.

I haven’t written anything substantial this whole year. A variety of factors contributed to this fact, first of which is my preoccupation with doing well at my workplace. The secondary but equally important reason was, I had no one to write about. Yeah, I started a lot of cool stories and abandoned them all (Shilpa Suraj knows more about these) and nothing fit.

Nothing stuck.

Nothing made my brain catch fire and the scenes to start showing up like my own personal movie screen inside my head and my fingers to dance over the keyboard till they ached.

I, unlike Shilpa and a lot of other totally talented romance writers, need a muse. A living, flesh and blood man who makes me sit up and take notice of him and compel me to write him (TVD fans, pun totally intended!)

About two weeks ago after NaNoWriMo 2015 ended, I started my last attempt at finishing something that year.

This novel has gone through a lot of iterations and the heroine just about refused to meet the hero making it IMPOSSIBLE for me to write her. After all, what good is she without having the chemistry of a good-looking, sexy, totally relatable man to play off of?

Things started moving along. And my hero showed up, FINALLY! And he was…blue-eyed. I know, y’all are thinking, you wrote him, woman, you can make his eyes go any color you want: But have you ever had those moments where your hand moves of its own volition over the keyboard without you being aware of it and the words just show up onscreen? I mean that in a totally non-creepy way, of course. So yeah, Blue Eyes, showed up for me.

And bang, a light went on in my head. Of course, that made sense (to my feverish, writing-addled brain).

And then, I started rewatching The Vampire Diaries, because well…yeah, I do stuff like that in my spare time.

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To my folks, I explain it as doing research but really, it’s just super fun watching TV. The stories, the characters, the HOT men all make my brain buzz happily and sometimes (like now) even provide dazzling, undeniable inspiration.

Enter Damon Salvatore.

The Bad Boy with fangs who makes regular women go weak in the knees. And, he is blue-eyed, if you don’t believe me. He is a total badass who is intent on causing trouble, looks out only for himself and has absolutely zero patience with the heroine.

He also saves her every single time she needs to be saved.

And, his evolution from small-town villain to hero is so gradual, so unconscious that by the time he figures out he is in love with the heroine, you’re rooting for him to get the girl instead of cursing him back to hell. (He is a vampire, he can literally be sent there).

I have written a couple different heroes in Krivi and Brandon and The Last Time’s Abeer Goswami is nothing short of the Good Guy Next Door (more Stefan than Damon for all you TVD fans) and he was a lot of fun to write in his own sweet, unassuming but totally with a steel trap mind hot way.

I even wrote a few other versions of the Good Guy Next Door mixed with Alpha Male guy and yet…like I said, nothing fit.

Not until this Bad Boy showed up and showed me how it’s done. And this is what I came up with.

“No.” He stepped closer and placed his hands on my arm. Exactly where he had clutched at me. My skin hurt at the slight contact under the sweatshirt I wore. “I did it to protect you. You are…nothing. You have no connections, no influence whatsoever. You wouldn’t have been able to survive what Jeeva and Vanshikha would have done to you.”

“I am not NOTHING,” I whispered, tears welling up in my eyes. My nose was red and my face was numb and my eyes looked deranged and still I had tears left to cry.

It was unbelievable, but there were still levels of hurt that I could feel when he spoke.

“I am being honest here,” he shot back. “And you don’t want to hear it. That’s fine. But someone had to think clearly. Make the hard choices. And make sure you were safe from them both.”

“So you did all this for me?”

He nodded. Slowly. One tear rolled down my cheek and I couldn’t stop it.

Now, that is some morally questionable, yet unforgettable man. No?

The Perfect Fake releases in July 2018 on Amazon Kindle Unlimited. 

Till next time,

Xx

Writer Gal

Feature Image: A Shawn D’Souza Original for Aarti V Raman. Designed on Canva. 

Image Credit: Beniceorleave/Google

Video Credit: YouTube

TBC Spotlight: My Last Love Story by Falguni Kothari

Romance writer, urban fantasy writer Falguni Kothari is back…Rated T for Tears!

 

My Last Love Story 

by 

Falguni Kothari


Blurb 

 

Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes’s, Me Before You, My Last Love Story is a heartbreaking and poignant tale about the complexities of trauma and whether love can right a wrong.***

I, Simeen Desai, am tired of making lemonade with the lemons life has handed me.

Love is meant to heal wounds.

Love was meant to make my world sparkle and spin.

Love has ripped my life apart and shattered my soul.

I love my husband, and he loves me.

But Nirvaan is dying.

I love my husband. I want to make him happy.

But he is asking for the impossible.

I don’t want a baby.

I don’t want to make nice with Zayaan.

I don’t want another chance at another love story.

Grab your Copy @
or grab this book free at #KindleUnlimited 

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. When not writing or dancing, she fools around on all manner of social media and loves to connect with readers.My Last Love Story is her fourth novel.

Stalk her @


        

 

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Phone Sex With Tom Hiddleston

*Imagine Tom’s smexylicious, deeply vibrant, whiskey-in-moonlight voice talking to you on the phone*

PWSTH

Under your ear

Where the soft fragrance of your musk mingles with hair and sweat

Where I sometimes feel a pulse beat

I press my lips there.

You shiver.

It passes through you to me, the shiver.

Where your back is touching my chest

Shoulder blades pressed to my pecs

Front to back, back to front

Our heartbeats aligned to the rhythm of that shiver.

I move a bit to the side

My lips, a hot breath stealing your musk, your sweat.

You.

And I take your tender lobe between my teeth.

You wait. I wait. You wait some more. I make you wait some more.

Somewhere in the universe, a star dies.

Then

I bite.

A lunging movement.

Your gasp echoes in me, deep within me

Where the animal lives: untamed, feral, wanting.

Wanting all, wanting everything, wanting you.

You arch in an involuntary movement,

Your arms going to bite my thighs with fingers turned claws.

The pain is jarring, welcome, claimed.

So I suck, soft, soothing, slow and delicious.

Like I would inside you, imagining golden, molten honey.

Or bubblegum-flavored ice cream, my favorite.

A treat to be lapped up, savored slowly, deliciously. Careful and endless.

Your skin feels like skin in my mouth

But taste is different, isn’t it?

Taste is memory, dreams, illusion,

Candy-wrapped hotness and lemonade mixed with jello shots.

It’s not real in the way your eyes go glassy when I touch your breasts, cup them

It’s not real in the way your lips part to form my name

My name.

“Harder,” you say. “Touch me.” Breath broken.

So I move my fingers

Just the tips over the back of your wrist, lingering at the tattoo of your pulse

Moving up, a whisper-soft touch over skin well-traveled,

Always new.

It’s slow, torturous.

But who is torturing whom?

Suddenly you grab my hand and press it against yourself.

Hard, demanding. Now.

But it is my game, my rules, mine. So I say, “No. No, not yet. Wait.”

There is delicious agony in waiting.

In having my hand caress the folds of skin on your stomach, gone slightly musky with sweat right now

While you wait, for my fingers to go north or south, the waiting pain in itself.

“Fuck you.” You laugh. Wanting me.

Sex mingles in the air like our scents, sweat. Our breaths.

It’s a drowning of you in me that I want.

I bring my hand up to your collarbone, the bones pricking ever so slightly

While you  contort your neck and kiss me

Kiss me like how you want to be taken – a little rough, a little wet, maybe against the wall.

Maybe right now.

Your lips, your tongue, your teeth say please

Please have me.

I am yours.

But you are and that’s what makes it easy.

That’s what makes it hard.

Until you turn fully and press into me, me into you.

Wrapping one leg over mine, my hand instinctively tightening on the inside of your thigh

For balance, maybe. To brand, for sure.

Tempting, joining. Asking and answering.

All within the space of a hot, wet, wide kiss

I lose my head, my place, my rules

And I back you to the wall

To wherever you want.

You laugh again, my victor.

Surrender never looked so sweet naked

And I take you till you come

Till next time,

Writer Gal 

Image Credit: hypable.com

Confessions of an incurable Hiddlestoner

I suffer from a serious condition. It’s incurable. It’s an addiction. It’s my life. I’m a Hiddlestoner – and I have a confession to make.

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 Today, we have the supremely talented romance writer, and my good friend from across the pond, Devika Fernando who is here to talk about her not so secret love– Hiddlestonitis. 

Every book I write has been inspired by Tom Hiddleston. Every book I read, every story that captures my attention, reminds me of him. Heck, I end up comparing all men to him: Thomas William Hiddleston. Stealer of hearts, lover of pudding, Shakespeare-enthusiast, word-magician, destroyer of ovaries, versatile actor, living inspiration, man of countless talents and secrets.

Why are all of my heroes inspired by him, and why do I love him? There are reasons, probably more than you want to hear. But now that I’ve started, I’m afraid I might never stop. And by the end of this post, you’ll happily join the club.

Tom Hiddleston is a man of many faces. And I don’t just mean that he looks hot with or without glasses, that he’s handsome with long black hair just like with floofy blond curls or with perfectly styled ginger scruff.

I mean that he can switch from sophisticated and suave – killing you with that polished English accent and oozing oodles of politeness – to singing a song, dancing his heart out or breaking into a spot-on impersonation of a celebrity. I love it that he can slip into lecture mode in a heartbeat, diving into his vast knowledge of literature (and many other topics) to bring something alive within minutes that teachers have unsuccessfully been trying to install in your brain for ages.

I love it that he can be a nerd at one moment and impossibly cool the next, that he supports charity, is passionate about equality, and generous to his fans. It’s endlessly fascinating that he switches from a six-year-old child with bubbling excitement to a teenager with a shit-eating grin and naughty wink to a gorgeous man charming the heck out of men and women alike.

How can anyone be so serious, so understanding, so well-mannered, so quietly strong, so sexy, so humble, so genuine, so dedicated, so charismatic, so thoughtful? It’s magic, I tell you, and I’m completely under his spell.

And don’t get me talking about his voice (Heaven on earth! He could read the phone book to me and I’d swoon.) or his hands (Big, and you know what that means. *wink*) or his eyes or that sassy eyebrow that has a life of its own or his snake hips…or any part of his anatomy?

Hang on ladies, for I haven’t even gotten to the good parts.

Tom Hiddleston – When will the Oxford Dictionary accept his name as a synonym for perfection? Can we sign a petition for that? – can act. He can ACT the bloody hell out of any role. Deliciously dangerous Asgardian villain? Check! Mysterious soldier? Check! Tortured baronet? Check! Suicidal vampire? Check! Irresistible spy? Check! King / knight in shining armour? Check! Yodeling Yankee? Check! Swoonworthy Victorian hero? Check! Dashing yet deranged doctor? Check! Relentless Roman general? Check! And there are a million more roles that show just how much potential this incredible man has stored away.

Still not completely taken in by the man who’s simultaneously ruined and made my life? You’re a tough cookie, aren’t you? Cookies… see, I can’t even think of something as harmless as cookies without remembering Tom Hiddleston teaching the Cookie Monster about delayed gratification on Sesame Street. Yup, I’m a goner, a Hiddlestoner… Just like the lovely lady who wrote this poignant post.

This. This right here is another reason why I can’t help feeling inspired by Tom Hiddleston:

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Is it any wonder that he is part of all the books I write?

The protagonist most strongly influenced by Tom is Daniel from SAVED IN SRI LANKA. I gave him an innate kindness, a love for books and poetry, and an insatiable hunger for knowledge (as well as a deep and sensual voice, mile-long legs, ginger hair and blue-grey-green eyes). Joshua from the FIRE TRILOGY has Tom’s calm strength and uncanny ability to make everyone listen, and the anti-hero Kyle from the same series was inspired by Tom’s remarkable performance as Loki. Michael from WHEN I SEE YOUR FACE is as caring, calm on the outside but deep on the inside and supportive of women as Tom. Lucas from KALEIDOSCOPE OF HOPES has derived his enigmatic charm, ruthless drive and regal bearing from Tom.

And Alejandro, the determined and irresistible hero from my latest romance novel SEDUCED IN SPAIN, gives life to Tom Hiddleston’s answer to an interview question, “a good boy in certain situations, and a bad boy in others”. Not only does Tom influence how I write my heroes, he is also one of the reasons why I write and publish, why I believe in myself and in creativity.

And really, do I need any other reason to love him?

Do you?

Thank you Devika, for reminding me once again what I LOVE about this man. And for popping over. We wish you all the best with the release of SEDUCED IN SPAIN! 

Xx

Writer Gal

About Devika:

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Having always loved to read and write, Devika Fernando made her dream come true in 2014 when she became a self-published novelist. The Amazon bestselling author has released several eBooks in the genres of contemporary romance, paranormal romance and romantic suspense. Her German and Sri Lankan roots influence her writing.

She loves to talk to fellow Hiddlestoners (ok, others too!) on Facebook and Twitter

 

 

Image Source: hypable.com

Book Review of Rescued By Love by Shilpa Suraj (Mills&Boon)

…And it is good!

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There are a few writers who enrich your life with their words, stories and vivid imagination. Then there are writers whose books you actively wish you could have written. And the last, a very rare breed of writers, whom you want to befriend just because they write stories you wish you’d written that enrich your life.

Shilpa Suraj is that rare breed of writer.

In her second M&B romance Rescued by Love (which I read first on a personal request from Shilpa) we get to meet that hero we all love to fall in love with — Lt. Col. Arjun Malhotra. Tough, stoic, handsome and with a heart as gooey as melted chocolate. He rescues the heroine Naina from a kidnapping in the harsh terrain of Ladakh (I cannot help but think of Kingdom Come and Krivi Iyer) and she falls for his particular kind of bravery instantly.

Who wouldn’t?

He is exactly that perfect.

Naina has been the cossetted, pampered and yet unloved daughter of – a man who will break rather than bend as he sentences a notorious terrorist to death and has his daughter kidnapped in retribution. He is upset with her for getting into this terrible situation instead of being sick with worry over her safety and life. Her mother is no better, kowtowing to the father’s every whim instead of speaking her own mind and insisting that the daughter do the same: Marry an ‘appropriate’ guy that her father has picked out so she can live a comfortable life.

In her first act of rebellion, Naina goes to Ladakh and promptly gets taken hostage and then rescued by yummy Arjun and his awesome colleagues. And over the course of the trek that brings her back home, she finds her heart stolen by the soldier who puts duty and honor above everything else. The very thing that attracts her to him is the very thing that will keep them apart.

It’s a delicious dilemma that is further aided by Naina’s refusal to bend down to her father’s dictates as she is finally dumped back home with a broken heart and stubborn hope of changing her own future.

If I reveal any more, I risk giving out spoilers and I would like to avoid that. Suffice it to say that when Naina grows a spine and meets Arjun again in vastly different circumstances (of course, they do!) the drama and tension are even higher than they were amid all the bullets in Ladakh.

Falling in love is, after all, more dangerous than being rescued from militant terrorists.

The thing I loved the most about Rescued is its simple language which grabs you by the throat from scene one and refuses to let go till you reach the end. The other thing is the character growth arc of Naina from a doormat personality with no clue about her own desires to a woman who makes the right choices for the right reasons. And well, if I gush any more about Arjun I will be accused of biased favoritism, but Shilpa, seriously couldn’t you have at least given him a mole or something to detract from that hero-like perfection?

I also love that the mom has been relegated to a secondary character with no name at all, signifying how little impact she has on her daughter’s life and her husband’s commanding presence, not to mention Aditya. Read him, y’all. You’ll want him to have his own book, guaranteed.

If there is a tiny wrinkle with the book, I’d say that it has too few moments of passion (and one very ill-timed one) but it takes absolutely nothing away from the story or its characters.

Four and a half stars (Half a star taken for the minimal sex scenes)

Book Review of The One That Got Away by Priyanka Menon (Harlequin)

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Priyanka Menon is my friend. Priyanka Menon is a romance writer. Priyanka Menon is a romance writer and my friend AND an accomplished spoken-word poet in her own right, but the one thing that pleasantly surprised me as I started reading “The One That Got Away” was that she is a GOOD romance writer. Friend pride and prejudice aside, a good story can only hold your attention and interest and The One does all that and more.

Meet Mithi. She is an artist living in Paris who’s come down to Aamchi Mumbai for her besties’ – Geet and Karan’s – wedding. They have all been friends forever (since school) and the fourth point in the quartet is Jairam Nair. Mithi’s best BFF in school and someone she hasn’t seen since the last day of.

I call Shyamita Bose, Mithi, just like Jai does, because she is sweet and nice and fragile. The fragile is backed up by a spine of steel when necessary, as any heroine should be but mostly I call her Mithi cuz it is such a happy sound. Points for that, Priyanka.

Anyway, Mithi and Jai, (national bestselling author, all-round hunk) meet at the wedding. An awkward first meeting ensues in which both are not just tongue-tied but actively seeing each other as desirable people. This process is helped by not being in touch for more than a decade and thus, not having to deal with the minutiae of facial hair, waxing, having boobs and chest hair and what not.

Their chemistry is palpable but shocking, not to anyone but themselves.

In the grand tradition of a big, fat, Punjabi wedding we are slowly and quietly introduced to the single point break of what had been an unbreakable friendship. The painful teenage yearning of falling in love for the first time (and the last) is expressed beautifully and contrasts nicely with the tumult of falling in love all over again.

And then we come to the very adult problems facing Mithi and Jai: aka Commitment Phobia. Yes, there is heat, chemistry, sexy love-making and long, soulful glances but Handsome Jai (I call him that in my head, Priyanka) cannot do the one thing; the only thing Mithi wants: Admit to his feelings for her, for damaging and totally valid reasons of his own.

And Mithi with her steely spine under the delicate Madonna exterior holds firm on this one point, even as she tries to help him banish his demons and love him with all her heart.

The primary love story has a life of its own and Priyanka, like me is a fan of two characters coming full circle (get back to me on this, readers), but what completely enchanted me was the way all the secondary characters gelled in the story. Given full screen time and treated like the individuals they were and not just props to the main hero-heroine-conflict resolution.

In particular I love Mrs. Nair, the wise mom who has endured so much and still maintains a serene heart and Geet Chaddha – bubbly, headstrong and with a heart a mile wide that you cannot help but root for her as she tries to knock some sense into her chaddi-buddy Jai.

The writing is pacy and exquisite in a few places and the story holds its own on a second reading too.

If I would take away anything from The One and its author, it would be Mithi’s crying. She cries. A LOT. It’s not healthy. Priyanka, next time make your woman kick ass. And also, write me into a book where I, the bestselling author gets to live in a penthouse with my very own Handsome Jai.

Four and a Half Stars (Half a star taken for the crying)

Till next time

Xx

Writer Gal 

Updated: A previous version of this post called the book The One Who Got Away

Guest Post: 5 reasons why you should never write a historical romance

Hey y’all,

Her books are sticky, steamy with passion and her characters bring romance to life. In this jaded day and age where sexting is an acceptable form of courting, it’s nice to know such writers exist, who bring characters from a bygone era to our ebook readers. Presenting Summerita Rhayne, Indian Historical Romance Writer and a good friend of mine with her Top 5 reasons on why you shouldn’t write a historical romance!

Xx

Writer Gal

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I feel I should make it clear that the key word here is not romance but historical.

Don’t take it the wrong way. I love everything to do with dates. I find delving into the dark mysteries of bygone times, intriguing. The prospect of tracing long lost footprints through the lens of my imagination is nothing short of magic to me. But having written and published two historicals, after one very rudimentary effort earlier on, I feel I can talk about writing historical romance with some assurance and I’m pretty sure all historical authors will agree with what I’m saying here.

Why shouldn’t you write a historical?
 

1. This is something you don’t realize until you actually begin to describe a scene properly in your story. This is especially true if you’re writing fiction set in the ancient world or –like me – in the early middle ages. It starts with an innocent looking gesture you want your character to make. Your hero is holding a drink in his hand… wait, you ask yourself, did they drink back then? Off you go to research wines and after poring through the material available – which consists of researching wine making to its roots and the exact method of preparation of mead – you can finally nod in satisfaction, ah yes, they did.

Wait, you say again, after typing not more than half a word. Would a king have a different sort of alcohol from a commoner? What sort of vessel did they use anyway? Glass, clay or gold? What was the shape of these vessels?

So you see, you can forget about the story. It will take you the whole day just to get that one gesture right.

2. Consider this. At a point in the story, I had to find if my hero could get on a trading ship in order to pilfer it (he sort of needed to) so just in case I had to mention the area etc., I decided to look up the maritime history of the Middle Ages. You wouldn’t believe the stuff I found! Did you know that the ancient ships in India were built without using nails because it was believed the iron immersed in water could be dangerous for the construction?

Trade was rife because of silk and spices produced in the region. Cargo weighing several tonnes was transported – as much as 75 or maybe even more. Even elephants could be transported by sea route. In fact, there are records of transporting rhinoceros and elephants to China by those ships. The more I read, the more fascinating it got. In the ancient times, the trade with the Romans was so flourishing that Roman gold to the tune of 1000,000 pounds found its way into India annually…!

At this time I glance absently at the time – oh my God three hours have gone by! My writing time has evaporated into a thin mist and my WIP glances reproachfully at me, demanding what has all that got to do with me?

Take it from me, it’s way too hard to stick to just writing when you are working on fiction of the times of yore.

3. Another reason why you should spare yourself the persistent pain of penning a historical is the confusion surrounding ancient history. The more you dig the facts, the more you find them contradicting your earlier findings.

In one instance, I had to refer to the humble beginnings of ancient emperor Chandragupta Maurya. There are multiple theories of his origins. Some medieval theorists say he was the son of a Nanda emperor, the lineage which he later defeated. Some ancient texts maintain that he was of a small Kshatriya, warrior, clan. A popular belief holds he was raised by peacock-tamers while it is even postulated that he was the grandson of a peacock-tamer. Which version would the reader find most believable? The process leaves you stymied.

4. Let me not even mention the parlance you unconsciously pick up. I found myself running conversation with a poetic touch in my head. Sometimes the cadence of chronologically recessive language spills over to the contemporary one that you’re writing. My next book hero started sounding, let’s say, a bit ponderous, at times. I had to keep nudging at him not to do it!

5. The most confusing dilemma is the one I have left for the last. There’s a thin line in making your historical believable as opposed to mind-boggling. This is even more baffling if your characters are daring and unorthodox. For instance, it’s easy to show your character breaking the rules in contemporary fiction, because we all know the rules, right? If they are young, they might defy parents or miss school. Similarly, they might dress against the fashion or be wildly creative at work. But in a historical, it’s hard because your readers may not be ready to believe how daring your character can be. You always have to keep checking if they sound credible. I might add, beta readers help a lot here. They let you know what works.

So you see that’s what writing ancient fiction amounts to.

Truthfully, there are many reasons not to do it but the reason you should do it is one which outweighs them all!

And that is if you love it. If you do, don’t let any of the above stop you.

I haven’t. 

*mentally shushes the sneaky third book characters nudging like mad to give their story a go.*

Here is the skinny on Summerita Rhayne – Indian Historical Romance Writer

Summerita Rhayne loves to write sensual and emotional romance. There’s no knowing when some quirky – or sometimes even not so quirky – happening in daily life might trigger her right brain and then she’s off craving a new story. She loves writing characters who learn and grow and find their way out of their troubles and emotional hang-ups. Hot, sensual heroes and sassy but sweet heroines mostly fit the bill in her stories. She also believes that a touch of humor never goes amiss in a book.

She divides her time between family, job and writing – and loves winding down with music, movies and the Internet.

Author links:

Twitter handle @SummeritaRhayne

Website: www.summeritarhayne.com

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Summerita-Rhayne/e/B00MZQ0PUC

Image Credit: Keepcalmandposters

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OTR MY OPINION: To Read or Not to Read… Same-Sex Love stories

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(Author’s Note: The opinions stated in this article are mine and mine alone)

I have a confession to make.

I haven’t read any M/M or F/F romances. Something about seeing two incredibly hot and amazing men, and BELIEVE ME, they all are, get it on with each other instead of a female (a female like me!!) invariably depresses the single woman in me. The same is not true for F/F romances and I really don’t know why I haven’t picked up one yet. Maybe, the same reason I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey (another CONFESSION!) or straight up erotica from Ellora’s Cave. Or even Blay and Quinn’s story in JR Ward’s awesome Black Dagger Brotherhood series. (I so HEART Zsadist!)

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Do y’all think I am a bigot now? Just because I haven’t read something that doesn’t appeal to me on an emotional or intellectual or even passing interest level? We’ll get back to this question in a minute.

About a year ago, my lovely, supportive (she encourages me to write even when I am driving her batty with writer’s block) awesome mom sat me down and asked me very seriously, and very miserably, “Aarti, are you a lesbian? Is that why you don’t want to look at suitable boys for marriage?”

I burst out laughing. Not because the idea is ludicrous or because I have anything against men, women or marriage (arranged marriage, yeah) but because of the look of Apocalypse Now on her face. The truth is, my lovely, supportive, awesome mom would be fine with almost anything I did, except turn out gay.

I’m not. I like men. I like cock. I LOVE writing about said men and their cocks. And their hearts and brains and the one thousand ways they can drive a woman crazy. But this conversation illuminated something for me. My freewheeling, free-thinking, secret rebel of a mom still had a few concerns about what my life choices were going to be, because of what society had taught us all was WRONG.

So, now, I ask you guys again. Just because I am a straight, single woman who loves writing straight romances, and doesn’t read same-sex erotica and love stories because they don’t appeal to me, does that make me a bigot on any level? Yes? No? Maybe?

I’ll start with the undecided first.

Maybe: Maybe I have a problem with gay writing and gays in general because I don’t like to read them. And maybe I do. Like I said, I don’t really know. But, how is it affecting the awesome, amazing gay couple who were smooching in the auto the other day or were holding hands yesterday at the mall, or my writer friends who write AMAZING same-sex romances? It’s not. Right? Right? Sure, they don’t have me as a reader yet, but since I am a maybe, I am still on the fence, I can always swing that way. There is hope yet for me.

Yes: Yes, I have a problem with gay writing, which possibly extends to gays in general because I don’t like to read them. And maybe yes, I do. But does this mean that I am going to go spit on the face of the cute gay couple next door’s relationship by telling their parents or go write mean, snarky comments on my friend’s Facebook page or even other popular author’s pages just because they support marriage equality? Doesn’t that make me ignorant as well as a bigot? And you can possibly be a closet bigot (all of us are about something or the other) but it is inexcusable to be ignorant in today’s Smartphone 3G age and we all know it.

So maybe if I have a problem with gay writing or gays I could just keep these opinions to myself, not in the name of anti-free speech but tolerance. Democracy advocates free speech as well as tolerance. If I have a problem with you, your way of living and who you choose to write about, I could just mind my own business anyway.

No: No, I don’t have a problem with gay writing, which extends to gays in general because I don’t like to read them. And yeah, I don’t. To y’all, a salute and a virtual doughnut! Because, see, you are a discerning individual. You understand that one choice doesn’t negate any other. You understand that just because I don’t choose to read horror or FSOG, doesn’t mean I have a problem with some other couple somewhere in the world enacting the Benwa Balls scene or a sexy version of The Shining because they’re into it.

And you definitely, MOST definitely understand that just because I don’t READ something doesn’t mean I don’t agree with it in principle or action, or that I won’t fight for it if and when the time comes. You are the antithesis of the Supreme Court of India because you get what democracy is all about.

Free Speech. Tolerance. Freedom to make your own choice.

I have given three different answers and now it’s time to disclose my opinion. And my answer is NO. I don’t have a problem with gay writing, which extends to gays in general because I don’t like to read them. I don’t read Horror too, or Erotica for that matter, or Epic Fantasy, or badly-written books. But I uphold everyone’s right to love, live and write about whatever they want to. Whether it is bestiality or mythical beasts or a heart-warming story about Nikhil and Rahul.

I might not read you, but I LOVE that you exist and can express yourself freely (at least in America.)

Xx

Writer Gal

Image Credit: Freehdwall/Giphy