Monday, December 31, 2012


Yikes! And It's 2013.

I want to write that I spent the last week of 2012 in a fabulously exotic beachy location, immersed to my chin in warm frothy bubbles and a Strawberry Daiquiri in my hand. In the strong, muscled arms of my...ahem never mind. You get my point. I want to write that. I do. I will write that at some point in my life just not today.

What I spent the last week of 2012 doing was something a bit more intrinsic. Getting over a really nasty case of the Common Cold. 
Plus, I was in a sort of drugged frenzy sending out my son's college applications. Or, not really. I was only supervising the frenzy from my bed. I hope my son was feeling some frenzy. (You can never tell with teenagers.) Well, by the time 31st December sprang up, the applications had gone (all but 1) and my DEFCON 5 level cold is now in the category of the SNIFFLES. 
Question is: Do I/we want to go out and bring in the New Year tonight? Or, since the house is gorgeous and empty of children for the first time in 17 years do we stay in and...bring 2013 in with the appropriate fireworks? 
Hm. Tough decision.

On another note...
My Top 3 New Year's Resolutions:
1. One good deed to do a day.
2. One page to write a day.
3. No more freaking colds this year.

Have you sorted out yours? 


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Music and Mackerel: Innovation at its weirdest.

The One Pound Fish Man.

Known as the next PSY, Mohammed Shahid Nazir is a fish monger in London turned YouTube sensation with his unique hit, One Pound Fish. (A million hits in 24 hours.)
He wrote the lyrics, or the advertising gambit, to attract customers to his fish shop and it hit the right notes! Now, apart from his thriving fish mongering, he is also fast becoming a celebrity. Customers line up in his shop not only to buy a pound of fish but also to take pictures with Nazir. He seems amused by his fame, but more he is amazed at his good fortune. And, he is the true entrepreneur of the digital age, capitalizing on the fact that music permeates all dimensions of life.
I, for one, am on my feet and applauding Nazir, who proves that One Pound Fish more than meets the eye.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


10 Things I Love About December so far:

1. The crisp, evergreen morning air that greets me the first time I step outside the house.
2. Reading in front of a fireplace that goes on and off with the press of a button.
3. Being home alone watching The Holiday for the 500th time.
4. The busy, busy, busy-ness of the last month of the year that has me rushing to cram as many seconds into it as possible because with the snap of a finger the year will be lost forever.
5. The sudden need to stop and smell the holly wreath because a new beginning approaches fast.
6. The joy, the giving spirit, the festive smiles that permeate a winter wonderland.
7. The jingling of bells outside a store by a graciously charming Salvation Army Santa.
8. A NYC cop on a magnificent black stallion stopping to allow a bunch of kids to pet the horse.
9. Piping hot swiss cheese fondue that burns your tongue and melts your frozen bones.
10. Carols, the Nativity and the History Channel showing the history of carols and the Nativity.

That's my favorite carol, what's yours?

Saturday, December 1, 2012


December 21st is the end...

...Or not necessarily The End, as in...oh, you know what I mean. 

As an evolved species, we homo sapien sapiens (as in WE, OURSELVES and US) seem obsessed by our impending Armageddon followed immediately by Doomsday; be it at a personal level: Death, or a universal level: Total and complete annihilation of all life. 
In a way, our curiosity with nonexistence is only natural. We have a brain, a mostly functional one at that (there are exceptions to this rule, I know, but lets go with the average consensus for now) and thus musings and ponderings are the brain's natural inclinations. We exist. We know we exist and thus are curious as to why we exist. Such questions confound our averagely functional brain and because we cannot find any satisfactory answers to calm it, the next natural question we ask ourselves is: When will we stop existing? And here, our very average homo sapien sapien self sits up and gasps. STOP EXISTING? Why, what an awful awful prediction! What a hideously unwelcome thought! 
Stop existing? Who? Me with my completely average brilliance? Unthinkable!
I think its the thought of not existing on a personal level that alarms us more than any mass Apocalypse, Armageddon, Doomsday scenarios. Telling homo sapien sapiens that after said imagined AAD's that maybe a wee percentage of us might survive and that life might go on even if in a highly altered state (life did go on after the dinosaurs walked like the Egyptians) will not pacify the majority of us. We will then want to be, need to be included in that wee cluster of survivors and if we can't, well then, our brains  will and can be programmed to believe that there's always Heaven with its open Pearly double-gates and promise of immortality. 
What I want to know is this: Is it so bad, the thought of not existing in the future? Whether the end is near or far, complete or just different, is it so awful to have lived this one life to its fullest and no other?

Views, comments and music welcome, people. :) And in case, you need a bit of a lift after that fatalistic read...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

HERO: My Wordfreak.

How Aryan Rajaram Chawla came into existence:

Smoosh and blend this fellow...

With this one... 

And this one...

...and you will kind of, maybe, sorta get the yummy silhoutte of My Wordfreak. Strictly speaking, I have no clear image of him inside my head, even now. He changed and morphed physically with every scene of the novel till the very awesome end. What remained constant throughout that process was my fascination with character building. 
Who is he? What does he stand for? What makes him tick? Who will he be attracted to? Why would he run from love? The questions drove me on and I had to find their answers.
What he looked like on the outside was immaterial at that point and to the development of my story. That's not saying that I would ever imagine a physically non-appealing (appealing to me, only to me) hero or heroine. I chose to write a more or less good-looking book with a cast that was more or less good-looking with a more or less good-looking ending. Why? Because I chose to write a romance novel and romance is a thing of beauty (to me.) Read my Goodreads Blog about Beauty and the Romance Novel, HERE.

Anyway, getting back to the whole ridiculously good-looking guy that I kind of, maybe, sorta pictured...
Wordfreak was conceived on a happy February day on top of a  cyber Scrabble board between a lot of neatly arranged Scrabble tiles. I already had Worddiva sitting on a throne in my head (she came first, women always should) and had penned her down and pegged her pretty much in the first couple of pages of my creative writing assignment. As Worddiva's love interest, I wanted a superstar. Why? Why not? Anyway, I thought SRK? (Love him!) Nope, too old, I concluded after a great internal debate. So, hero should be someone who is not too old. Hm. How about if I go young? And here, I got inspired by JAMMF (Love him too!) Hence, my hero became a really tall, heart-poundingly good-looking superstar without red hair. Was sad about the no red hair bit but if my book's hero was to be of Indian descent then a crop of dark hair would be more believable. The hero, like JAMMF, would be younger than the heroine. 
Now, moving on to names...
My online gaming addiction paved the way for their handles: Worddiva was a no brainer (its a handle I have used in various spellings on various gaming sites.) Wordfreak was inspired by a book called Word Freak by Stefan Fatsis that explores the world of competitive Scrabble (interesting read, that.) The book was lent to me by a good friend, a fellow Scrabble player, my beta reader and general sounding board for a multitude of silly things, not the least of which is the Mahabharata. (That reminds me, I have to return the book to her one of these days. Ooops!)
Anyhoo, that's how I got "Wordfreak."
Then came the challenges. What about his real name? For that matter, Worddiva's real name? To answer those questions, I had to first decide where the two originated from. India or abroad? Indians or Anglos? North India or South? I liked the idea of "opposites attract" and went with that. So, Wordfreak's character sketch expanded. He was now a North Indian superstar, tall, good-looking, well-read (can't abide brainless characters on or off the pages of my novel) Scrabble lover, online gamer who would the planet with his green home building! (Traces of my homeboy there. Not the home building but the "save the planet "hobby.) My imagination was in warp drive by then. Let's make him filthy rich too, I decided greedily. Why? No answer except that I was making this stuff up as I wrote without a plan or plot or even a goal to FINISH writing the novel. Having it PUBLISHED hadn't even entered the orbit of my elliptical thoughts at the time. I went with my instincts (and my fav superstar.) I got "Aryan" off SRK's son (sp might be diff.) The Rajaram and Chawla were plucked from the WWW. Same with Alisha Menon. As Wordfreak's polar opposite, she'd be a South Indian beauty, self-sufficient, brainy, opinionated, a borderline feminist and poor. Well, not poor but not rich. She'd be a divorce lawyer and would come from a broken family. That would take care of conflict. He would also come from a broken family. Yay! More delicious conflict. 
So now I had my heroine and hero, knew what they looked like, who they were and where they ought to go with their personal hurdles in place. I'd already written about their meet-cute (which happened off-page, riling up quite a number of readers who think I've cheated them out of it. Oops, again) and their happy ending.
Damn, the novel was no longer a kinda, maybe, sorta thing anymore. I had Wordfreak in my head and his story was unfolding better than fine. 
It's Your Move, Wordfreak! unfolded better than fine.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Ops 2012 Caught on Camera

Here's what happened in the last 36 hours:

Thanksgiving dawned on a confusion of ornaments...

And the Xmas Tree that had not seen the light of day since 2009...

Then followed an early Thanksgiving en famille...

Truffles was understandably confused, anxious and very hungry. He loved the sweet potato untried fries...

That beautiful evening...

Once the Tree was pregnant and lit...

We went and watched Lincoln at the Mall...

I was moved by Abe's story as usual (always moved by stories) and outside the theatre found out that Buddha was Coming Soon...

Came back home feeling inordinately glad about that, had a rest. Then suited up and dove into Black Ops Midnight Madness...

11:45 pm, Thanksgiving is at an end...

12:55 am: On Black Friday, night is day and day is day of shopping...

1:26 am: Really, we're not vampires. We're just out bleeding our pockets dry...

Don't remember the ride home or how much sleep I got. What can I say? I am a guilty epicurean. There's the evidence of my midnight debauchery...

Nope. Doesn't look any less hedonistic in black and white...

My prized Black Ops 2012 finds: faux fur and real shoes. Yummmmm...

Would I do this again? 


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Quiller Score of the Week.

Music: the spice in my emotions. 
As with the edible spices that enhance or destroy the flavor in my food, music can enhance or destroy my mood. It stimulates my senses as surely as color on the walls. 
Depressed? I listen to music. The right kind will lift me up and get me to waltz. Insomnia reddening my eyes? I've found Mozart has the same effect on me as Tylenol PM. 
The Write Mood Music:
This week its Diamonds. I don't know whether its the lyrics or the beats or a combination of both, but I'm completely inspired by it. Am writing a new plot fast, though I'm meant to be editing the old stuff. 
I am wondering if music affects everyone this way? It should. I hope it does. So go listen to some music and fall in love. Listen to Diamonds and you'll be waltzing in no time.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

HEROINE: Alisha Worddiva Menon.

The birth of a heroine in technicolor.

Who came first, Wordfreak or Aryan, I was asked some time ago.
The answer actually is Worddiva. I play mucho Scrabble online as Wurdeeva...or did until Facebook exploded all around the world and brought with it all its scrabbulicious apps that do not require handles. So back in Feb '09, I had to write a 500 word scene for an online creative writing class and this is what I created...

Mirror, Mirror! On the wall... rang my thoughts as I stood staring at the towel-clad reflection in my full length narcissistic contraption. Huge brown eyes with faint smudges beneath dominated a heart shaped face, so pale, so gaunt. Sighing deeply I moved away, picked up the bottle of moisturizer from the dresser and sat down on my bed to replenish my skin and ease my muscles. At least my hair was perfect. Freshly washed and still warm from the hair drier, it fell in casual, gentle waves of cinnamon down my back. I’d had it cut a few weeks ago and it had already grown and inch or so.
      Spring had given way to summer recently and I had the solitary window in my room open to the balmy evening air. Faint sounds of traffic from below and a louder ‘I’d like to Move it, Move it!’ wafted in rhythmically making me grin. Little Chucky from next door was watching Madagascar yet again. I felt slow and sluggish, still recovering from my bout of flu from last week. Luckily, I had come away with a couple of bonuses from my epidemic—a few lost pounds and a softer, huskier voice. Perfect! Absolutely perfect for the big date I was getting all dolled up for.
        There! I had said it or thought it, out loud. BIG DATE! I took a deep steadying breath, hoping to calm my erratically beating heart. I swallowed uneasily. Thank God! I was sitting down already, my legs felt like Jello
     Was I ‘Off my Rocker’ as my best friend Penny had so eloquently put it last night? Granted I did not know HIM too well, not at all in reality. I only knew him virtually, through our intensely competitive scrabble games and our fun and flirty online chats. That he could very well be Jack the Ripper snaring his next hapless victim crossed my mind. But it did not feel like that. HE did not feel like that! Arguably, I had pointed out, how could it be any less or more risky than a random chance meeting at a club or party?
       My iPhone jingled its merry Marimba tune, jolting me out of my thoughts. Oh my God! Was it HIM? Calling to cancel? No, of course it wasn’t, HE didn’t have my phone number, yet. Twisting around, I checked the caller ID. It read MOM! Rolling my eyes I decided she could wait till tomorrow to voice her angst on my irrational and imprudent behavior. I figured, either I would be right and Wordfreak would be all that he promised to be (picture Brad Pitt, but truly I would even settle for a taller version of James MacAvoy!) or they (my mother, sister, brother, best friend, neighbor…etc.) would be right and I would have allowed my irrational imprudent self to be mugged, raped, kidnapped or brutally murdered or a combination thereof! They could all come and gloat while picking up my pieces.
        Enough! I told myself, get ready already! Stripping the towel off, I quickly donned my underwear, strapless bra and pretty blue halter dress that I had pressed this morning. Turning this way and that, I eyed it from every angle and approved! Going back to the mirror, I prettied up my face with a few dabs of powder, a slash of blush per cheek, colorless mascara and shiny, sweet lip gloss. Almost ready! Heels? Nope, what if HE’s not that tall, better stick with flats as I stand 5 feet 9 inches in my bare feet. I chose the silver roman sandals.
        With one last critical look in the mirror, I picked up my purse and my keys and stumbled out into the world, with butterflies in my stomach and two possibilities.

Not that different from what eventually got published but different enough. Click here to read (and compare) the excerpt from It's Your Move, Wordfreak!

So, Worddiva/Alisha came first. Is she me? Physically absolutely not! Characteristically? Probably. But then, so is Aryan.

First Cover Draft

Did I scream, squeal, jump up and down and bring the house down when I saw this? What do you think?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

HERO: On Veteran's Day

Thank you, Jo-Anne Healy Trepanier, for sharing this POEM WORTH READING...

He was getting old and paunchy
And his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion,
Telling stories of the past.

Of a war that he once fought in
And the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies;

They were heroes, every one.

And 'tho sometimes to his neighbours
His tales became a joke,
All his buddies listened quietly
For they knew whereof he spoke.

But we'll hear his tales no longer,
For old Bob has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer
For a Soldier died today.

He won’t be mourned by many,
Just his children and his wife.
For he lived an ordinary,
Very quiet sort of life.

He held a job and raised a family,
Going quietly on his way;
And the world won't note his passing,
'Tho a Soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth,
Their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing,
And proclaim that they were great.

Papers tell of their life stories
From the time that they were young
But the passing of a Soldier
Goes unnoticed, and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution
To the welfare of our land,
Someone who breaks his promise
And cons his fellow man?

Or the ordinary fellow
Who in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his country
And offers up his life?

The politician's stipend
And the style in which he lives,
Are often disproportionate,
To the service that he gives.

While the ordinary Soldier,
Who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal
And perhaps a pension, small.

It is not the politicians
With their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom
That our country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger,
With your enemies at hand,
Would you really want some cop-out,
With his ever waffling stand?

Or would you want a Soldier--
His home, his country, his kin,

Just a common Soldier,
Who would fight until the end?

He was just a common Soldier,
And his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us
We may need his like again.

For when countries are in conflict,
We find the Soldier's part
Is to clean up all the troubles
That the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honour
While he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage
At the ending of his days.

Perhaps just a simple headline
In the paper that might say:


Thursday, November 8, 2012

HERO: The Electric Man

Oh! Heart thou art fickle! 

Not 20 minutes ago I was ready to kick, bite, stab, emasculate, set fire to Con Ed as a whole. No discrimination! The entire shebang of its employees needed to be roasted alive and stuffed in mass grave, ASAP. And now, 20 minutes later, after a whole cavalcade of trucks (fancy yellow ones with orange hazard lights rotating wildly on top of their roofs) arrived on my street, all I seem to be doing is watching them from my window like a love-struck Juliet. Oh, I did go out and offer them hot beverages which they very politely refused. So darn sweet of them. (No, don't gag. Not if you don't know what 11 days without proper power feels like.)

My heroes, my loves have promised me power by tonight! God and Con Ed have worked out their differences. They are Letting There Be Light. Right on time, on the eve of Diwali: The Festival of Lights and that's a whole other post.

Stay warm. Stay safe. Stay festive.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

HERO: Mendez, the real deal.

November is Hero month, I suppose.

Yesterday, I saw Argo, a thriller starred and directed by Ben Affleck. Good movie, a bit slow in the beginning but when the end credits ran no one wanted to budge from their seats until the screen went blank. 
So it seems that Real Heroes are as impressive as fictional ones, even if they don't look as dashing. 
Antonio "Tony" Mendez is a retired ex-filtration officer of the CIA and Argo is his story. He went into Khomeini's Tehran during the Iranian Hostage Crisis and successfully pulled out six diplomats who were hiding inside the Canadian Embassy (Ambassador's home) in a fantastic, as in only believable in movies, covert op.
That took courage of the sheer balls variety and dedication to duty few people possess. But, I suppose that's what makes Tony a hero.

                                   Ben Affleck as Mendez.
More heroes and movies to come...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

HERO: Let me start with Jamie Fraser.

James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser.

The name spreads goosebumps all over my soul and beyond every time I utter it, read it, write it...and use it for any number of precipitous events. (Don't ask!) Who is he, you ask? Gasp! You do not know yet of JAMMF? (Yes, he also exists as an acronym.) 
Jamie is the hero (god) of this marvelous fiction series, The Outlander novels by author, Diana Gabaldon, who henceforth shall be known as Herself.

James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser (gooseflesh breaks out) aka Mac Dubh (Son of the Black One) aka Red Jamie: 

Born May 1st, 1721. Well over 6' 4" and sturdy of build, a Scottish Highlander who boasts a flaming red-gold mane that flows in waves to his mid-back. His startling dark blue eyes slant cat-like and he bears the flat cheekbones of a Viking (ahem god!). But even more impressive than being a god amongst men is his soul-melting ability to love. He loves people to such a degree that he would die for them. He proves that over and over in every wrenching scene of the seven 800-page novels (eighth being written as I write).

With Jamie, Herself has written a character that every man should aspire to be: strong, loyal, ruthless, gentle, cunning, sweet, practical and romantic. Yes, he is fictional. He is unreal but so what? Inspiration to emulate greatness can come from anywhere, even from fiction. 

To those who haven't yet read (or even heard of) The Outlander series...drop every single thing you are doing, run out and buy the books or download posthaste on your e-readers. Do not baulk at their size. Take a deep breath and take the plunge into a world where princes whine and the hero turns green from seasickness. You will enjoy the ride it takes you on. If you need more convincing of the visual variety then this is Sam Heughan, recently cast as JAMIE FRASER for the OUTLANDER mini series coming in 2014 on STARZ!

Now if that can't convince you to run out and inhale the books in time for the series release, I don't know what can.

This, readers, is my very first post on my very own blog. But I'm no Blog Virgin. I lost that status on my Goodreads blog a while ago. Still, I am feeling my way through this wild new labyrinth so please be patient. 

More Heroes coming soon...

OMG! This is addictive...