Monday, June 29, 2015

#151 : Sandcastle and Other Stories by Justin Bog : Book Blitz!

Genre: Short Fiction/Psychological Literary Suspense

Publication Date & Publisher: May 29th, 2015, Booktrope

The Complete Edition of Justin Bog's First Collection of Dark Psychological Suspense Tales.
An award-winning collection, Sandcastle and Other Stories reveals twisted secrets that are mined like plutonium. These twelve literary tales are nothing short of an adventure through a roiling sea of emotion. With authenticity and eloquence, author Justin Bog holds a provocative and compelling mirror on the human condition.
"The stories are those of everyday people who might live next door or in the walk-up across the street . . . A man with a personal crisis takes a singles cruise – a woman leaves her toddler girl at the beach while having a romantic tryst – a B-list actor’s character is killed off – a girl is sucked below the sand into an underwater chamber . . . an old gardener who has dark secrets interacts with the bosses daughter in a most unforeseen way. The only commonality in these tight, little stories is they are unexpected. Having this book is like having a string of black pearls – each one slightly different, but each a perfect, dark, little gem . . . Bog paints pictures with words as Titian did with oil paints – startlingly detailed with deep perspective and rich complexity."

--Rosi Hollenbeck, San Francisco Book Review

Author Bio 

Justin Bog lives in the Pacific Northwest on Fidalgo Island. Justin Bog was Pop Culture Correspondent and Editor for In Classic Style. He enjoys cooking, lawn mowing not so much, and spends time walking and handing out treats to two long coat German shepherds, Zippy and Kipling, and two barn cats, Ajax The Gray and Eartha Kitt’n.
Sandcastle and Other Stories: The Complete Edition  on Amazon:

My creative writing blog is here.

Follow me on Twitter @JustinBog

On Goodreads:


Sunday, June 28, 2015

#150 : The Activist And The Capitalist by Vibha Batra : Review


GENRE: Fiction - Romance


FORMAT: Digital - PDF


HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Review copy from the publishers, Indireads, in exchange for an honest review. Thanks guys!


Yet another story based on a school of thought that has been around like forever – opposites attract. So, what made me give an 8 score for this book? Read on, have patience!

Jai, our male protagonist, the hot and the hot shot capitalist falls for the very enemy, the smart and fireband activist Anusha. Jai, is bent of demolishing the Rasa Vihar (a heritage building) in Chennai (where the story is set) while Anusha is battling to save it. They meet in a protest lead by Anusha after a gap of six months after their initial encounter when Anusha left Jai high and dry post a random drunk make out session. Sparks fly instantaneously and Jai starts wooing her. They embark on a roller coaster journey called ‘love’ wherein they battle demons deep within them which ultimately brings them together every time they stray apart.

Both the characters stick to the very image that the title conveys. Jai, is a typical capitalist who believes in infrastructure development and things like that. That doesn’t prevent him from being absolutely adorable when around the love of his life –Anusha. The part of story where Jai helps Anusha with cupcake stall is an absolute delight to read. Chivalry is one quality which I absolutely admire. Jai’s character floored me with his chivalry. The story line was well thought upon. It was logical and realistic, making the book an absolutely delightful read. Though the writer employed the age old concept of opposites attract as I stated before, she has present it in such a way that the story doesn’t get monotonous. Needless to say that the writing was perfect and sprinkled with a lot of humor making the book a delightful read.

However, I felt there were a lot of little things that the writer – Vibha Batra lost focus on. Jai and Anusha are culturally different people. Though she has ‘stated’ that fact, she hasn’t actually used it to make a difference. It remained just a fact instead of supporting the story. Also, given that this book set against heritage and cultural theme, I felt the writer could have done a wee bit more justice to Chennai’s heritage. Of course, being my true-blue Chennaite, no amount of beautiful description of my city can satisfy me!

MY SAY: A witty, light and perfect read for romance lovers.


PLOT : 8/10



BOREDOM QUOTIENT: 2/10 (the lower the better)


BOOK LINKS: GoodreadsAmazon


Friday, June 26, 2015

#149 : Guest Write! Evoking a Fantasy World by Rahima Warren

When reading a fantasy set in a different (non-historical) world or time, I find it jarring if the characters’ names are old familiar ones from our everyday reality. Why would people in a strange time/place have names like Steven or Julia? Also, why would they use the same words to refer to time or distance that we do? Convenient for the writer perhaps, but too familiar for me as a reader.


In my fantasy trilogy, The Star-Seer’s Prophecy, I tried to evoke a different world in subtle ways. For example, I avoid using our familiar measures of time. Instead of “minute,” I use “moment.” Instead of “week,” I use “quarter-moon.” Many cultures measure time by that clock in the sky, the Moon. For distance, I just referred to how many days a trip took.

And I had fun making up names and words to help evoke a different world. I used two methods for creating these new words: listening/intuition, and research.


For most of my characters’ name, I start by ‘listening’ for a name, using my intuition. Sometimes, that’s it. I get it on the first try, like Zhovanya as the name of the Goddess in my trilogy. For others, I play around with the sound of the name until it fits the character. And for some, the name evolves as I get to know the character better. For example, originally Kyr’s name was Arik (which I believe relates to an old Nordic word for eagle). Somehow, I didn’t like the hard ‘k’ as the last sound of his name, so I changed it to Kyr (“keer” like “peer”), which to me sounds like the high, lonely cry of a hawk or eagle, and suits his character.

Over time, I noticed that there was a pattern in the way I was naming men vs. women, and changed a few names to fit that pattern, though there are some exceptions. You might check out the Cast of Characters (in Book Extras) on my website, and see if you can detect the pattern. I also ‘listened’ for the magical commands used by the Warrior-Mage, Rajani; for the names of magical potions; and for the sacred chants. (See the Glossary in Book Extras.)


In the case of the evil sorcerer-king called the Soul-Drinker, I found his name through researching the roots of words in the Dictionary of Word Origins by John Ayto. The Soul-Drinker’s name is Dauthaz, which comes from the Old English and Germanic roots of the word ‘death.’

This is also how I created the name of the land where the story takes place, and the terms used at the Sanctuary. The land is named Khailaz, which is a prehistoric Germanic word, ancestor of our word, ‘whole.’ Adding the suffix –itha to khailaz produced khailitha, the root of our words, ‘health’ and ‘heal.’ 

From this, I made up the words kailitha (divine healing energy); Kailithana (a priestess-healer); Kailithara (healing work of the Kailithana); Kailithos (one who is undergoing the Kailithara); and Kailithama (sacred chamber in which the Kailithana works with the Kailithos).

I don’t recall exactly how I tracked down the roots from which I constructed Aithané (Listener, Confessor), Phanaithos (Speaker, Divulger), or Phanaithara (Divulgence, Confession). I believe they come from Greek roots meaning to listen, and to speak.

A few other words, I just made up. For example, I derived zhan (life force energy) from Zhovanya.

Now, admittedly, I am not Tolkien, creating whole languages, and races of fantastic creatures. My focus is more on the inner world and healing ordeal of my hero, Kyr, than on detailed world-making. However, I did do my best to evoke a different place/time by creating new words and names, and avoiding overly familiar names and terms.


As a reader, which do you prefer: familiar names and terms; or new and different ones?

As a writer, what is your approach to evoking a different world?

Find the Writer's Interview here (Just Click this line away!)

The writer is hosting a giveaway with exciting prizes check it out, enter and test you luck! (Click this line to know what awaits you!)


#148 : In Conversation With : Rahima Warren

How did this story come to you?

I am still puzzled by where this story and its hero came from. It certainly did not come from my life experience. All I know is that I had a character similar to the protagonist of The Star-Seer’s Prophecy in my dreams and fantasies since I was a child. I have no idea where he came from, but he wouldn’t leave me alone. He kept showing up, over and over.

Partly inspired by my curiosity about him, I studied dreamwork, and became a psychotherapist. I found that Carl Jung’s work with dreams and archetypes most helpful. I did dreamwork and wrote dialogs with this inner character, and tried to analyze what part of my psyche he is, or what archetype he represents. No matter what I did, he kept on lurking around.

Finally, one day, I wrote a short story in my journal, hoping that he would be satisfied and go away. Big mistake! That little story opened the floodgates. This character, whose name turned out to be Kyr, had quite a journey to go on. The only way he could do it was to take over my life and turn me into a writer.

When those floodgates opened, a rush of intense, exciting creative energy poured forth. I surrendered to the current and it swept me along. I had no plan. I just went with the flow and wrote what Kyr showed me. His story started out so dark that I was sure I would never show it to anyone, ever! But writing his story was my secret passion— and it was the only way I could find out what happened next.

After decades of personal growth work; after becoming a transpersonal counselor and working with clients for twenty years; and becoming an Expressive Arts therapist, I’d learned to trust the creative process and my soul’s hidden wisdom, and so I was able to allow Kyr’s story to pour forth without censoring or editing.

After the first draft of the entire trilogy was on paper, I realized it is a powerful story worth sharing. So I studied how to write fiction, hired an editor, and revised, revised, revised.

Did you always want to be an author?
I began reading fantasy and Sci-Fi as soon as I could read, thanks to my parents. (They left F&SF magazines with fascinating cover art lying around the house.) I always wondered how the authors could create alternate worlds and write such fascinating stories, but I never imagined becoming one of them. I thought authors were these odd creatures who lived in flats in New York City.

At one point in the late 1980s, I felt I needed to observe a ‘fast’ from unnecessary words for a month as a spiritual practice. I stopped reading, watching TV, etc. And I got my first laptop. One night, when I couldn’t sleep, I turned on my laptop and started writing whatever imagery showed up in my mind. I found myself writing stories. Still, it was just for fun. I didn’t think about becoming an author until after I had written the first draft of The Star-Seer’s Prophecy.

They say life imitates art, but were there any events or people in your life that became inspiration for your work?

My psychotherapy clients revealed to me the amazing ability we humans have to overcome terrible trauma and abuse, to move toward healing our wounds and recovering our innate beauty, integrity and wholeness. To do this, we need to face what harm was done to us, and eventually, to begin to see beyond our pain to the brokenness of our abusers. Many people were able to move past their anger and vengefulness, and to forgive the person who harmed them, without forgiving their harmful actions. This is a major theme of The Star-Seer’s Prophecy, but it is not based on any particular person’s story.

What were some of your inspirations when you were creating your world?
I’m sure I have been subliminally influenced by reading fairy tales, and many of my favorite authors, such as Ursula LeGuin, Carol Berg, Charles De Lint, Patricia McKillip, and Sherri S. Tepper, to name a few. However, I did not consciously copy anyone. My process was to sort of “listen-see” and write whatever I “heard-saw.” Kyr’s world turned out to be semi-medieval, with black sorcery, healing magic, and magical rituals, but no dragons, unicorns, or goblins.

Magic is always an integral part of fantasy novels, how did you create your magic?

Again, I followed the flow of the story. Ideas for the magic just seemed to arise as needed. In hindsight, I can see that for the healing magic, I drew upon my experience with energy work such as Reiki. For the rituals, I was influenced by my experience of the sacred rituals of Celtic and Native American traditions, but only in a general way. I did not copy any particular culture’s rituals.

What's the one thing you want people to take away from reading the Star Seer's Prophecy?

That the real magic is forgiveness – forgiving those who have harmed you, instead of obsessing endlessly about your wounds, and/or seeking revenge. This only perpetuates the pain. Equally important is forgiving yourself for making mistakes, for not being perfect, for being human. Often, one of the hardest things is to forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know at the time. For example, in the story, Kyr begins as an obedient slave to the evil sorcerer-king called the Soul-Drinker. Later, Kyr learns what atrocities he committed as a slave, and feels deep remorse. He painfully learns to forgive himself for not knowing at the time that what he had done was wrong.

Without giving away too much, what's next for Kyr?

In the first book, Dark Innocence, Kyr chose the hard path of healing, forgiveness and love. With the help of friends and healers, he overcame his terrible upbringing as a Slave of the Soul-Drinker, and became a man capable of kindness, courage and integrity at the Sanctuary of the Goddess Zhovanya.

In Book Two, Fierce Blessings, Kyr faces the familiar nightmare of cruelty and evil that he knew as a boy, in the second hell foretold by the Prophecy. As hostage for the safety of the Sanctuary, his friends, and his beloved Jolanya, he struggles to protect his soul from succumbing to the depravity he has known for most of his life, and fights to keep hold of the blessings he received from Zhovanya. 

In the final volume of the trilogy, Perilous Bliss (forthcoming), Kyr is plunged into the third hell of the Star-Seer’s Prophecy. A most intimate and harrowing betrayal throws him into a storm of rage and despair. Alienated from his friends, himself, and, worst of all, the Goddess, he flees to a mysterious tower, where he finds the solitude that is all he can bear.

 But the time has come, at last: the stars are moving into the pattern foreseen long ago by the Star-Seer. Will Kyr be able to keep faith with the Goddess Who saved his soul in time to renew the Sacred Balance and restore Her sovereignty? Or will he return to the foul slavery he has known most of his life? The fate of the land and the Goddess Herself depends on his choice.



#147 : Dark Innocence by Rahima Warren : GIVEAWAY!


This week you can grab the first book in the Star-Seer’s Prophecy Trilogy for just 99 cents. That’s right Dark Innocence is marked way, way down, giving you the chance to explore this thought-provoking fantasy series for yourself. Get your copy at AmazonBarnes & Noble, or iBookstoday! 

You can continue the saga with the newly released sequel Fierce Blessings

Oh, and don’t forget to enter our giveaway for your chance to win an autographed copy of Fierce Blessings or a Star-Seer’s Prophecy t-shirt. We have a total of 4 prizes for 4 lucky winners, hooray! Enter the giveaway right below! 

About Dark Innocence:  In an ancient world of blood sorcery and healing magic, the Soul-Drinker, a vicious necromancer-king, is draining the life from the souls of the people and of the earth itself. Worse yet, he has banished the land's rightful Goddess, and disrupted the Sacred Balance, sending the mortal and divine realms whirling toward destruction.

The only hope for salvation is a youth named Kyr, born and raised as one of the Soul-Drinker's blindly obedient slaves. Kyr knows only the pain, evil and cruelty of the Soul-Drinker's hell--and nothing of the Star-Seer's Prophecy that declares him to be the long-sought Liberator.

Rescued by strangers, Kyr embarks on a bewildering journey into a bizarre new life, where kindness and love are real. If he is to fulfill his destiny, he must battle his inner demons and fight to find his buried capacities for compassion and courage. Will he be able to surrender the inner ice that has been his soul's only protection in time to save the world from disaster?

Again, you can grab your copy for just 99 cents at AmazonBarnes & Noble, or iBooks as part of this special event!


This is the Image on T-Shirt. Isn't it majestic!?


Thursday, June 25, 2015

#146 : Some One Has Taken My Place by David Snow : Review


GENRE: Fiction – Financial Thriller


FORMAT: Digital


HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Review copy from Publishing Push in exchange for an honest review. Thanks guys!


An insurance fraud set in Ireland based on true incidents – quite intriguing isn’t it? After reading quite a few books in the financial thriller genre, majorly by Ravi Subramaniam and Stephen W. Frey, I guess I’ve grown out and stopped reading any more books from this genre. The fact that this book is based on true events and is set in Ireland, a country that hasn’t featured centrally in any of the books I’ve read so far, made me pick it up when the folks at Publishing Push offered it to me for review.

Insurance claims investigator Andrew stone accidentally stumbles upon a series of identity thefts when he investigates to estimate pay out for a man who is injured in a motor vehicle accident. Turns out that the ‘Texan’ man as he is referred to, is a habitual offender who has stolen almost a dozen of identities primarily of babies who died in their childhood. Andrews personally chases him across continents and cities with the help of FBI, former KGB, The US Secret Service, the Irish Grada and the Interpol agents.

Financial thrillers tend to lose pace midway and get boring, or worse, turn out to be predictable. To my surprise, this book was more like a Sherlock Holmes novel where in the case is built shred by shred with not too many sudden and unpredictable events. The plot obviously is logical as it is based on real-life incident. Identity theft for insurance claim- a school of thinking that is almost non-existent in the place where I’m from. For all I know, the same thing might be happening in my own city or country. Evidently this book got me thinking.

A good story line can be ruined by mediocre writing. Thankfully, the writer surely has a way with words. The writing was crisp and abetted in keeping up the pace of the story. My only wee complaint would be the way that the book ended. Yes, they bad guy was chased and caught. But bringing in the deceased kids’ identity theft angle really didn’t make and impact on the capture of our bad guy. I felt, it would have been just the same if the stolen identities belonged to deceased adults. Of course, I do understand why the writer had to bring in that thread of story (read the book to know that.) Yet I felt it didn’t really matter in the end.

MY SAY:  A rare find!


PLOT : 9/10



BOREDOM QUOTIENT: 2/10 (Lower the better!)


BOOK LINKS: Amazon , Goodreads


#145 : The Children of Darkness by David Litwack : Guest Post

It's finally here!  Children of Darkness - Book One in The Seekers Series is available NOW. Check it out on  FREE for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. GET YOUR COPY

“A must-read page turner.” Kirkus Review

About the Book:

The Children of Darkness - CoverThe Children of Darkness

The Children of Darkness is about a society devoid of technology, the result of an overreaction to a distant past where progress had overtaken humanity and led to social collapse. The solution—an enforced return to a simpler time. But Children is also a coming of age story, a tale of three friends and their loyalty to each other as they struggle to confront a world gone awry. Each searches for the courage to fight the limits imposed by their leaders, along the way discovering their unique talents and purpose in life.

"If the whole world falls into a Dark Age, which it could plausibly do, who could bring us out of it? According to David Litwack in The Children of Darkness, the only answer is us, now, somehow reaching into the future." - Kaben Nanlohy for On Starships And Dragonwings

Publication Date: June 22, 2015 from Evolved Publishing Purchase Link: FREE WITH KINDLE UNLIMITED Goodreads: What would a dystopian character think of today's world? Why-dystopianThis poster, Courtesy of Sommer Leigh's blog, does a good job of explaining the interest in dystopian fiction, which got me thinking: what would a character from a dystopian novel think about today’s world? Dystopian novels tend to focus on a single segment of society gone awry. The story of 1984, takes place in the repressive country of Oceania, although there are other parts of the world we never see. The Hunger Games shows the stark contrast between the oppressed in the colonies and the oppressors in the Capital. Even Divergent has those poor souls imprisoned in a ruined future Chicago, with a vague world beyond the fence. If I were to tell a story from within some of the worst societies in our world today, how would it look? I could argue that Divergent's Tris would be appalled by retraining camps in North Korea and Katniss Everdeen would be shocked by the sight of beheaded children publicly displayed in the Middle East. My own Orah Weber from The Children of Darkness would be livid at political and religious movements around the world, like Boko Haram in Nigeria, that stifle free thought and limit the potential of their people. But as the above poster says, dystopian novels are not just about a world that's dangerous and alien. They're also about the ability of individuals to survive and flourish, to overcome the world's demons and become a catalyst for change. To counter the despair, we have examples like Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl shot for trying to get an education, now crusading for her cause in some of the worst spots on earth. Millions work in relative anonymity under difficult circumstances to improve the lives of others (health care providers dealing with the Ebola outbreak comes immediately to mind). Unlike the novels, the press emphasizes the dystopia, but there are surely heroes everywhere. And therein lies the hope, in these sad times, to someday make a better world.

About the Author:

David Front PageThe urge to write first struck when working on a newsletter at a youth encampment in the woods of northern Maine. It may have been the night when lightning flashed at sunset followed by northern lights rippling after dark. Or maybe it was the newsletter's editor, a girl with eyes the color of the ocean. But he was inspired to write about the blurry line between reality and the fantastic. Using two fingers and lots of white-out, he religiously typed five pages a day throughout college and well into his twenties. Then life intervened. He paused to raise two sons and pursue a career, in the process becoming a well-known entrepreneur in the software industry, founding several successful companies. When he found time again to daydream, the urge to write returned. After publishing two award winning novels, Along the Watchtower and The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky, he’s hard at work on the dystopian trilogy, The Seekers. David and his wife split their time between Cape Cod, Florida and anywhere else that catches their fancy. He no longer limits himself to five pages a day and is thankful every keystroke for the invention of the word processor. Website: Facebook: David Litwack - Author Twitter: @DavidLitwack


More Reviews!

“Litwack’s storytelling painted a world of both light and darkness–and the truth that would mix the two.” Fiction FervorThe Children of Darkness is a dystopian novel that will stay with you long after you finish reading it.” C.P. Bialois  “This is a satisfying exploration of three teens' journey into the unknown, and the struggles faced by all who seek true emancipation - both for themselves, and for the people they love.” Suzy Wilson “Litwack's writing is fresh, and Nathaniel, Orah and Thomas come to life in your imagination as you frantically flip (or click) the pages of this book.” Anna Tan “...many profound themes, lovely characterizations and relationships” R. Campbell “I was enthralled and intrigued by the authors creation of this society... David Litwack has an enjoyable and captivating writing style.” Jill Marie “...a perfect story for young adult readers, but its underlying theme and character development will keep any adult engaged.” Kathleen Sullivan


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

#144: Nights In Pink Satin by Anita Shirodkar : Review


GENRE: Nights In Pink Satin


FORMAT:  Paperback


HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Review Copy from publishers – Fingerprint! in exchange for an honest review. Thanks guys!


A tale within a tale is an interesting concept when handled well. I’m sure it takes double the effort writing a story within a story. This writer, Anita, has done a pretty good job of it that it almost looks effortless. Simran Dandekar, our protagonist, marries Siddharth, our dashing hero, the scion of Mumbai’s elite class builder family – the Raichands. Turns out that her marriage is nothing but a financial transaction where her father had agreed to bail out the Raichands from their financial misery in exchange for this marriage. Things spin out of control when she publishes an erotic novel under a pseudonym based on a person (a cougar) she knows and who belongs to the crème de la crème of the Mumbai society. Just as Simran’s relationship with Siddharth improves her book lands her in enough trouble, threatening to nip the blooming relationship. What followed is the story of the reward that a literary aspiration doled out.

The story line was perfect, realistic and was projected well by Anita Shirodkar’s crisp and clean writing. The plot was sprinkled with enough twists and turns, keeping me hooked. The characterization was perfect with no conflicting traits. The sensible story line, neat writing and perfect characterization made the book a fast paced and enjoyable read. I managed to finish reading the book in 2 hours flat. The first few chapters though might give an impression that this is yet another story where a man with an emotional baggage unburdens it to move on with his wife only to fail when his ex-flame returns to his life. But the story is much more than that line of thinking.

Anita surely deserves to be applauded for not bringing in a Bollywood-ish twist even though the story line had a lot of scope to accommodate that sort of a twist. She demonstrates that there are better ways to keep a plot alive without adding that sort of a dramatic element. The other thing that personally gave me a huge sense of relief was the lack of ‘steamy’ and uncomfortably ‘intimate’ scenes though again the story again had a lot of scope for that to be incorporated. Putting in such scenes would have made the book just another romantic read with the usual fall in love – make love-break up – fall in love routine. Thankfully, Anita evinces that there is more to romance than erotic scenes! 

MY SAY: An engaging, realistic and sensible read.


PLOT: 8/10



BOREDOM QUOTIENT: 1/10 (the lower the better)


AUTHOR LINKS: Goodreads, Blog

BOOK LINKS: Goodreads, Amazon


#143: The Eligible Princess By Summerita Rhayne : Spotlight!



....After Hidden Passion, the Kamboj Princesses Saga continues with Rukmani’s sister Lakshaya... 
King Kartikeya must marry a princess. He's determined to do anything to keep the kingdom that he has taken with strategy and sheer guts. If that involves charming a princess into marriage, then so be it.

Princess Lakshaya infinitely prefers the study of science to the art of impressing a suitor. In fact, she would rather have no more proposals at all. But refusing a king as opulent as Kartik is out of question. Drawn against her will by the force of his attraction, she begins to accept him, only to discover hidden secrets along the way.

Can she bring herself to go ahead with this marriage?

Set in Early Middle Ages in India, Book 2 in the Kamboj Princesses Saga follows Lakshaya in her journey to discover desire, passion, intrigue and love.

Preorder now at:

Actual price $3.99

Preorder at special reduced price of $1.99 



She thought she could detect movement in one chamber and raised her vision enhancer to her eye.

The next instant, she gasped and nearly dropped the instrument. Recovering, she trained her eye to it again.

The king stood, handing his gold chest plate to the servant who was next handed the strings of pearls from around his throat. His armlets and cuffs came off. Then his hand slid lower and he unwrapped the gold belt from his kayaband.

Lakshaya’s hands nearly slipped from the cylinder. She could make out a vast expanse of skin. Male skin. Toned skin covering corded muscles. She had a view up close of how dark hair smattered across his upper chest, not thick, rather pleasing to behold as they thickened slightly. Muscles of his chest, bulging, moving as he – she gulped – as he now removed his kayaband. She trembled. Surely she should go now. A maiden shouldn’t observe a man undressing, should she? The servant was bid something. Maybe to prepare his bath? The uniformed man left. Lakshaya brought back the focus on the king. His hands went to the knot of his antariya. Just as her lower belly contracted, the moonlight came and flooded the courtyard as a cloud uncovered the lunar god’s visage. Light fell on the glass, momentarily blinding her. With a small gasp, Lakshaya moved back into the shadows. Regaining composure, she trained her instrument on the object of her fascination again. He turned till his back was towards her. He raised his arms and flexed and extended them by turns, his back muscles moving and bulging. Something contracted in her stomach, a strange fluttering attacking her pulse. Shame, excitement and anticipation mingled like magic potions to produce butterflies inside her stomach. He repeated the movement. For her, breathing became difficult. She lowered the cylinder, hands trembling, heart beating fast. Oh devi ma! She had to take control. Had to think...

After a breather, she raised it again, her mouth dry with the knowledge of the forbidden. What would she find now...?

He wasn’t immediately in her view. Frowning, she moved it from one wall to the other. Where had King Kartikeya gone?

A hand gripped her wrist and she gasped, dropping the cylinder. She had an impression of hair covered skin covering honed muscles and gasped anew as she realized who it was.

She had her answer as to where he had gone!


He had caught her instrument as it slipped from her fingers and now turned it this way and that. ‘A device for spying? Or was it peeking for your own benefit?’ Dark eyes snared her gaze. ‘Why strain your eyes, charuta. Have a look at the real thing up close.’


#142 : The Dove's Lament By Kirthi Jayakumar : Spotlight!



The haunting images of people falling dead, as the flames of life were extinguished in a puff of smoke, danced before my eyes. I wanted to run.I wanted to shout. I wanted the pain coursing through my veins to end in a deafening blast. I wanted the dead back. The silence around was too loud for me. I couldn’t cope. Slowly, my dead-still surroundings started stirring and I became aware of the voices around me … some begging for mercy … some calling out to their loved ones … and what seemed perhaps, newly orphaned children crying piteously. I heard Death’s cape swish and flap in the sick winds that Murder blew. Images of corpses with a permanent scream locked into their faces were etched in my memory forever.

‘Habimana, Habimana, are you one of those faces?’ No!

It cannot be.

Pain shot up my left arm.

I fell back in a stupor.

Habimana … I know you are not dead … I will find you,

wherever you are …

Blood dripped somewhere.


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About The Author

Kirthi Jayakumar is an writer, artist, activist and lawyer based out of Chennai, India. She is the founder of The Red Elephant Foundation and the A38 Foundation of International Law. Driven by the goals of peace and equality, Kirthi indulges in different mediums to express her dreams for the world around her. An optimist by ideology, an idealist by thought, a humanist by religion and an equal-ist by tionality, Kirthi is a global citizen. Her first book, Stories of Hope, earned her a nomination as one of among six Indian authors to watch out for, alongside the likes of Devdutt Pattanaik and Lavanya Sankaran.

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