A.R Sara

A breezy & intense eternal teen with a zest for the here and the now

Music and Words

Does listening to music intensify your reading experience?
I listen to music quite often while reading. The words and the tune I hear do not consciously register in my mind. But much later when I come across the same music, it makes memories of the book I read, come into startling sharp focus and I find myself transported back into the book, reliving the story. It is quite an extraordinary feeling!

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Book review of Fly by night by Frances Hardinge

This author is surely one of a kind!
A dystopian fantasy world summoned from a delightful riot of words.
Mosca Mye flees the dreary and oppressing place of Chough with her dangerously mischievous and notorious pet goose Saracen, after accidentally setting her cruel uncle’s mill on fire. She is the daughter of Quillam Mye, a radical who is no more. Only legacies he has left her are her love for words and her name. She lives and finds comfort in a world of words. So it is no surprise when she crosses path with Eponymous Clent, a traveling wordsmith, conman and spy, that she decides to join him on his journey hoping for a better future in Mandelion and access to schooling.
As the story unfolds we become familiarized with the current political landscape. One dominated by guilds of Stationers, Watermen and Locksmiths, followed by remnants of monarchy and the dreaded radical religious movement of Birdcatchers who seem to be reappearing on the scene after they were believed to have been killed. It is a rather dim landscape where all books and writing apart from the approved ones are banned, and a few groups control all aspects of the realms. As the story progresses protagonist Mosca Mye gets embroiled in the political intrigue at the crux of the story.
Each line in the book appears carefully and lovingly crafted. But does not come across as contrived. Rather the effect is effortlessly dazzling. It is listed under fantasy genre, though the setting appears to be an alternate dark and twisted version of 19th century England with no explicit magic. The fantastical elements are conjured by the absurdly beautiful narrative with its outlandish metaphors and similes brimming with dry and crackling humour.
Apart from being an unconventional literary treasure and a celebration of language that tests the limits of its delightful usage, you realize the intricate complexity woven into the plot, as each layer is revealed in chapters that are appropriately named after each letter of the alphabet.
The character names are bizarre yet fit right into the narrative.
From the fascinating Lady Tamarind, who leaves a life-changing and lasting impression on Mosca Mye, Captain Blythe the Highway man to Eponymous Clent, the character sketches are very distinct and etched, in the manner of speech and choice of words, apart from physical attributes.
A recommended read for avid readers who love a play on words and don’t mind lingering over outrageous sentences crafted to wicked perfection, apart from enjoying the engrossing plot with a thrilling pace.
I saw the intended target reading level as middle grade. For kids in that age group, the violence in the book might be over the top, grotesque and sinister, though not gross and more implied than obvious. The shades of political satire and intrigue may be too complex for this reading level. But depends on the maturity level of the reader.

#FlyByNight
#BookReview

Overcoming writer’s challenges

Most of the consistent and voracious readers I know, either already possess a natural inclination to express their thoughts in written words or involuntarily develop it over the years. So what is it that holds them back?
Some of the most common challenges I see in the transition from a reader to a writer and realizing one’s potential as a writer, do not revolve around lack of opportunities or muses or any external stimuli. But rather around a finite set of hurdles that lie within. I have tried to outline a few that I believe are the critical ones to address to kick-start your creative engine.

    • Shedding inhibitions
      It takes courage and a sense of purpose to actually put thoughts on paper, which is akin to peeling layers off an artichoke to reveal the heart. The fear of exposing one’s thoughts to the world can be intimidating resulting in conflicting emotions and a strong awareness and acceptance of one’s vulnerabilities. It requires an acknowledgement of the presence of the invisible yet formidable layers of inhibitions, prior to making an effort to shed them one at a time.
    •  Handling empathy
      Yes, even a strong sense of empathy can make a writer think several times over and reconsider penning down thoughts, ideas, feelings and brooding over the choice of words. Especially avid readers, who read across genres, have a strong tendency to become overly sensitized and empathetic.
      A striking sensitivity and awareness that words can be stronger than swords, can become a deterrent. What if the words from the heart were to hurt someone. It is important to reflect and apply some logic and due diligence and ask yourself if you are ready to take ownership and responsibility for the true intent and the meaning behind the words from your inner perspective. If yes, then go ahead with sharing your writing.
      Know that, when you write from the gut, the words you string together will encompass the emotions that went into them and will be invoked and tangle with the reader’s mood, when reading them.
      You can’t control how your writing will be interpreted or perceived. The readers’ perceptions and current state of mind can color the words they read. But if everyone were to interpret your writing exactly the same way, every time, that would be like taking the flavor and zest out of food rendering it bland and predictable always.
    • Seeking validation and Acceptance
      A fear of indifference can be a strong deterrent. After having shed inhibitions to reveal a part of one’s inner self via words in a blog post, book, FB post, social media…what if the world is indifferent, or only a lack-luster response is garnered or worse…it is ridiculed and callously rejected. Now this should turn the focus on who do you really write for and how do you feel about it and why do you share it? Then the most critical query of all: Why do you write?
      Reflect on these questions and answer. Be true to yourself as you do. The answers you arrive at will help you resume your writing journey with a renewed vigor, defer it or change tracks altogether.
    • Structured vs unstructured writing
      While there are academic frameworks, guidelines on what constitutes good creative writing…be it an article or a book, there is nothing etched in stone that dictates perfect writing except for grammar. Now grammar is something you don’t want to risk compromising on, if you are serious about your writing.
      While it is important to be aware and keep learning and respecting structure, it can be counter productive and restrictive for a writer to regard guidelines as rules and get so caught-up with them that it begins to hinder one’s own unique writing style from evolving.
    • Lethargy
      Plain old laziness is another culprit that can put the breaks on your writing expedition. Writing is a solitary activity fueled by creative drive. Something that has to be inspired and indulged in and not forced. If sufficient discipline is not applied to bolster your passion, it is easy to slip into a state of ennui and comfort and begin slacking off. Shake off that lethargy with a quick walk or some other form of light exercise or change in activity.
    • An Author’s Delight – Magic formula
      Is there a magic formula to churn out commercial bestsellers or viral posts? Absolutely, there is, in my view. Simply put, the way I see it, bestsellers are the result of Writer’s Passion Matching Mass Appeal. What are the odds of this occurring? Passion cannot be nurtured or forced, it is an intrinsic energy from within. The writing style, story line, character development, genre…all these do add up but cannot assure that the book will be loved by many. It is the undefinable quality, you have no conscious control over, that finally matters and can make or break the book you write. So let passion drive you to write and let the universe conspire to match mass appeal to it rather than attempting it the other way round.

There is no clear-cut “one solution fits all writers” to address and eliminate challenges. But the path to breaking free from them lies in recognizing the challenges prior to tackling them…one step at a time.

~

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© 2017 RajaRajeshwari Nagasigamani

Happy Children’s Day

Smiles like the warm flurries of winter,
To light up your heart like the first day of summer.
Giggling like the rustling of leaves,
To surround you in a pleasant breeze.
Laughter like the rumble of thunder,
To tear your blues asunder.
A tantrum like a fierce hurricane,
Speeding through boredom like an out of control train.
Tears fall like a torrential downpour,
Drenching all your tissues and more.
Munching on berries sour and sweet
Oh…what a nostalgic treat!
Playing like the day has not ended,
All hurt forgotten and fully mended.
Then sleep through a racket without a clue,
Making you want to curl up in sweet slumber too.
Wake up like a sparkling drop of morning dew,
Reminding you of feeling fresh and new.
Childhood is but a fleeting dream,
However real it may today seem.
Forget the homework, set aside any chore,
Experience what today has in store.
Just let the kids be and blissfully enjoy,
And bask in your children’s sweet joy.
 ~
 ~
Copyright © 2017 RajaRajeshwari Nagasigamani

 

An ode to a stray cat

The woods resound with a soul piercing wail!
A stray dog is mercilessly on her tail,
Nothing much could any one do.
Hopeless shrugs and eyes filled with nameless rue.
The air is crackling with unease…
All hopes to see her whole again, slowly cease.
Hesitantly I make my way towards her still form…
Flies buzz around the remains…no more warm.
A mere glance and all thoughts cloud over
Constricting pain…my insides are on fire!
It is indeed her,
My friend, the daily visitor.
No glory in the pain she would have had to endure.
Her longing cries for food we shall no longer hear.
I stare at her daily haunt next to the door…
Bread and cream…her joyous fare!
Lie untouched…now that she is beyond care
Other visitors too showered their last respects, I did hear
The many other beings that had also held her so dear
A striking looking snake in somber black paid tribute as she lay unmoving
Her shimmering green eyes half shut now…unseeing,
A flock of crows and eagles circled in reverence over what was left of her,
Squirrels wandered close for a last lingering look at her golden peach fur.
Oh… How she had lit up the air with her mere presence!
Beseeching the forces to watch over her other little siblings, in her glaring absence,
My mind sends up a silent appeal.
Some strength for her family to deal with this devastating ordeal.
I hope she has moved on to a better life,
Away from all the pain and strife.
I let myself detach from it all,
I go about the rest of my day till nightfall.
The next morning I open the door,
The breeze sweeps past me with a deafening roar
I miss her warm and trusting gaze,
Her confident gait and natural feline grace.
My eyes wander over some dried crumbs left over from her last meal.
I force myself not to strongly feel.
I crave her company as I slide down by the door with a cup of tea,
That is when I slowly begin to see,
The trail of translucent white petals leading up to her regular resting spot,
Sprinkled in a seemingly haphazard pattern, resembling her form a lot.
My breath catches as I sense her softly swirl around me settling in my thoughts
And I know then…it is all just a matter of connecting life’s dots,
To form a quilt of lingering memories to hold dear,
Though she has drifted so far, yet she remains near…
 

Copyright © 2017 RajaRajeshwari Nagasigamani

A 5am dream gone awry – A horror story

All efforts to pacify failed,
Angry planet on a mission,
To nullify an erring species,
Like scrubbing out irksome pests,
Earth tolerates humans no more!
~
Corruption and pollution spread all over,
Protesting oceans bubbled and boiled,
Hurricanes swept away any hope,
Nature’s cleansing complete and proper,
Earth tolerates humans no more!
~
Blue skies eagerly tumbled down,
The earth rose to greet,
Extinguishing the deep inner core,
Essence flowed into the void,
Earth tolerates humans no more!
~
The shadows followed her everywhere,
Her nightmare had come true,
The reflection reached for her,
World wide web shut down,
Earth tolerates humans no more!
~
The digital world has crashed,
No one exists any more,
All thoughts float in space,
Ancient dwellers returned to reclaim,
Earth tolerates humans no more!
~

 

Copyright © 2017 RajaRajeshwari Nagasigamani

Lorkum’s Quest Trailer

Make a wish if you dare
Save a friend if you care…

Here comes the long awaited book trailer…with a little help from my kids.
All you need is a minute to watch it.
Lorkum’s Quest Trailer – https://youtu.be/V0Yxx-pXoRM

Links to buy the book –
Kindle version:
Paperback:
Amazon India: amazon.in/dp/93865030
Flipkart India: bit.ly/2ouCBb2

#BookTrailer
#LorkumsQuest
#Adventure
#Thriller
#Suspense
#Mystery
#Lorkum
#Neurodiverse

Book Review – Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

Finally got to read The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak and sharing some thoughts on the same.
Some spoilers ahead!

I found it to be a fascinating read that leaves a lasting impression. The narrative is simple, unassuming and takes you on a lyrical journey filled with timeless mystical romance that transcends space and time. I found the writing style a little reminiscent of Paulo Coehlo’s earlier books.

It begins with a run-of-the-mill present day plot of a frustrated and placid Jewish housewife Ella facing cliched middle-aged blues and identity crisis, replete with a cheating husband she cannot emotionally connect with anymore, a rebellious teenage daughter and twins on the verge of teenage, dealing with issues of their own. With her husband’s reference she lands a job at a literary agency as a reader. She receives a manuscript for review on her very first assignment and therein unfolds the magical thread that connects the current day story to an epic mystical romance from the 13th century steeped in Sufism’s forty rules of love. Ella’s curiosity is kindled on reading the manuscript that spellbindingly narrates the events that led to the transformative and mystical relationship between Rumi and Shams of Tabriz. In a move surprising herself, she begins a clandestine email correspondence with the author of the manuscript. A bold step that causes ripples in her tranquil and uninspiring existence, bringing with it life-changing consequences for the author, Ella and her family. Her email exchanges change into a philosophical relationship with strong romantic undertones, carried online then progressing to phone calls before finally culminating into something more tangible. The author Aziz is a globetrotting photographer and blogger of Scottish origin who happens to be a Muslim convert on the path of Sufi mysticism.

The story from the 13th century centered around Shams and Rumi, inspired by historical facts and narrated from the angles of different characters, is interspersed with a rather ordinary, plain and predicable story from the present day. But the overall effect is anything but ordinary as both the stories told in parallel unfold with startling clarity, fueled by mesmerizing and lucid prose, generously peppered with Sufi quotes and anecdotes, giving it an hypnotic effect. The story-telling is stunning as it meanders through the perspectives of multiple characters, whose lives were touched, transformed for better (and in the case of some, for worse) by the larger-than-life wandering Sufi mystic, Shams of Tabriz from the 13th century.
The flow of the novel is natural, smooth and riveting, with seamless and harmonious transitions between the two parallel stories and the several viewpoints.

The only parts that I found grating on my sensibilities and that had a jarring effect were the ones pertaining to the second half of Kimya’s story and Kerra’s treatment by Rumi. Rumi is shown as being empathetic and forward thinking in taking Kimya under his wings and helping her grow spiritually and helping expand her knowledge, and in pushing the boundaries of his spiritual realization after his association with Shams. But then is shown as resenting his wife Kerra’s interest in his books and treating her with casual indifference. Kimya’s story starts out promising and inspiring. Coming from a modest background, her broadminded father acknowledges the special gift she possesses and takes her to Rumi to shape her journey towards knowledge and spirituality. Rumi, recognizing her spiritual gift, graciously accepts the girl child into his household with a generous and kind heart and begins teaching and guiding her, as an adoptive father. But in an unexpected and shocking turn of events Kimya is shown to have developed romantic infatuation towards Shams and is married off to him at the tender age of 15 and soon meets her tragic end, heartbroken. It is an unconsummated marriage. A marriage that Shams, soon after the ceremony, views as a trap and a deterrent to his spiritual journey and this makes you wonder how Shams having been portrayed so far as someone so wise and enlightened and having established a divine relationship/companionship with Rumi, could be shown as even having agreed to a union like this. This struck a discordant note as it appeared rather incongruous with his character sketch painted so vividly and consistently in the rest of the book. I am not aware about the underlying historical facts that might have inspired this part of the story, so that could be a cause for my startled reaction towards this portion of the story.

That apart, I found the rest of the book compelling, filled with several thought provoking instances and all in all found it to be a beautiful reading experience the author has created by weaving a rich tapestry of historical and imaginary events expressed in a powerful and moving manner.
Something I found really noteworthy is the way the author has leveraged Sufism to deliver a sublime and non-preachy message of tolerance and embracing differences with numerous examples of religious and cultural co-existence throughout the book. Also the abstract comparison and connection between the characters of Rumi and Ella and between Shams and Aziz, wandering souls both, is exquisitely drawn. The comparison between Rumi and Ella is implied especially based on their inner renouncement of worldly relationships for an all-encompassing divine love and mystic companionship, renouncing reputation, changing way of life and finally loss of soul companion.

Below are some memorable extracts from the book that strike a realistic chord and makes one ponder.

“Most of problems of the world stem from linguistic mistakes and simple misunderstanding. Don’t ever take words at face value. When you step into the zone of love, language, as we know it becomes obsolete. That which cannot be put into words can only be grasped through silence.”

“Hell is in the here and now. So is heaven. Quit worrying about hell or dreaming about heaven, as they are both present inside this very moment. Every time we fall in love, we ascend to heaven. Every time we hate, envy, or fight someone, we tumble straight into the fires of hell.”

“Do not go with the flow. Be the flow.” – Found this to be a recurring theme in the book, right from the beginning, in the reference of the effect of throwing a stone in a lake versus a flowing river to the essence of a wandering mystic.

“East, west, south, or north makes little difference. No matter what your destination, just be sure to make every journey a journey within. If you travel within, you’ll travel the whole wide world and beyond.”

“The universe is one being. Everything and everyone is interconnected through an invisible web of stories. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all in a silent conversation. Do no harm. Practice compassion. And do not gossip behind anyone’s back – not even a seemingly innocent remark! The words that come out of our mouths do not vanish but are perpetually stored in infinite space and they will come back to us in due time. One man’s pain will hurt us all. One man’s joy will make everyone smile.”

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Discount alert! Nutcat the wise

“Nutcat the wise” is available at a discount on Amazon India. Both the kindle and paperback versions.

The reviews are all on .com site and can be viewed by scrolling down..

If you feel inclined to go for the book, do leave a review once you read it. 🙂

Our planet, our gift

All across the universe we may roam,
Never ever to find another planet like our own…
~
When the moon is on the rise,
And fire flies dot the skies,
Thinking of the day that went by,
And the nature walk that made me sigh,
Into the world of dreams I fly.
I pass a flock of feathered friends…
Look! A rainbow that curves and bends!
Wild and free animals of every color and kind.
Come, join the landscape on my mind!
The day is bright, lively and sunny!
Bees go about their day carrying sweet honey.
See those trees that offer fruits and cool shade.
Tall green grass that with season shall slowly fade.
Dance and sway to the gentle breeze.
Hope this magical day does not ever cease.
Rain showers cool the day’s sweltering heat.
Followed by an earthy smell so rich and sweet.
Everything here is on the move.
Sliding into the familiar groove.
Full of life and beauty, velvetty flowers bloom.
Far away I hear the thunder loudly boom,
And the rustling of the countless leaves.
See that cloud, the shape it weaves.
Like cotton candy scattered above.
In nature’s embrace there is so much to love.
So why don’t we take a pledge now?
And offer our kind and sincere salute.
To preserve, protect and not pollute,
This blue planet with life so dear and rare.
And to wholeheartedly and truly care,
For nature is a gift that is ours to share!
Copyright © 2017 RajaRajeshwari Nagasigamani