Book Review: The Santa’s Gift

How about a flavour of Christmas this Holi?? #mothersondrama

Check it out on Amazon

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Cover reveal: The Santa’s Gift (A Short Story)

After the overwhelming response of THE WEDDING GIFT, #shortread The best day I could think of for sharing the cover of my next short story is just before the #Valentineday
THE SANTA’S GIFT

Toby and his socks woes,
Mamta’s freaking day without her maid
And along came Santa….

Releasing on 16.02.2018. @Amazonkindle

Save your dates.
Cover design @ Book Studio
Edited by Inderpreet Kaur Uppal

The Wedding Gift

My Year Round Up 2017

And this is what I have been doing the year through.

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January

My new release book Grow Up Messy is showered with love from readers and critics alike. Especial mention here would be for Ahana, my youngest reader so far. She disliked my cover instantly saying its very childish (Considering herself quite grown up for a ten year old) but loved the adventures Misry went through in the book. Although the character Misry is a naughty five year old yet her thoughts are more of a ten year old child. Hence the book is targeted for the middle grade and young adults. The book was loved by the parents and kids alike.

Watched  Poorna, a film by Rahul Bose with the kids of my kids club. They had a fantastic time in the Inox theater with popcorn cold drinks and a very inspiring story of Poorna, an underprivileged girl who became the youngest girl to scale the mount Everest.

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February

A family reunion time. Had been to a wedding at my hometown and was nostalgic as always. Memories freshened up visiting all the old folks and cousins. How can one stay away from family for sooo long I still wonder? Family is the pillar of strength for many of us yet work keep us moving to new places. Sigh!

A short trip to Sunderban was a big surprise packet. Sunderban trip was a very different experience. Chilly winds in the morning didn’t stop us from traveling in a mid-sized trawler boat in the cold water of the Sunderban delta that comprises of confluence of Padma, Meghna and Brahmaputra river right before the Bay of Bengal sea. The mangroves which is the natural habitat of the Royal Bengal Tigers were the biggest attraction for us. Throughout the time we were on the boat our eyes were on the lookout for the King of this land. However, we were not that fortunate. We spent the entire day on the cruise eating lavish food like crabs, prawns and other sea fish prepared in the boat itself. Bengalis need nothing more in life after that.

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Tribal girls ready for Jhumar dance

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PS I still have to document my trip on my YouTube and blog. Sigh!

Valentine Day gave me a new surprise. No not my husband. But my son and his pranks. The Day of Love celebrated in a different way. You can read it here.

March

With school holidays set in I didn’t have time for myself anymore. My life and time devoted to the kid’s demand. What a hectic month it had been. With almost all his friends taking examinations D had nobody but me to give him company. I literally had to hunt play mates for him. Finally got him enrolled in badminton classes. And I was stuck with his schedule. While waiting for his training class to be over I made couple of new friends and discovered many new things this small city offered. Especially trips to Malviya Road increased and window shopping turned out to be our favorite pastime. Learning new recipes and bitching about other girlfriends turned out to be another favorite timepass we  women loved to indulge in.

Had been part of writing festival organized by Blogchatter. It was three months of interaction online interaction with aspiring writers and bloggers through twitter chat and facebook live. Here is one of my articles on How to write your first novel.

April

With the temperature raising every single day the thoughts never got a chance to evolve in the mind. I started with the other stories of the Jungle Series besides The Clockmaker. For some reason this series was taking forever to be published. Initially I had ten short story collection and that’s how I promoted my upcoming book. I approached the publishing houses. But nobody was interested to pick up short stories collection from a not so well known author like me.  So I indulged myself in redrafting my stories into a full fledged novel. And it took me another six to eight months to actually finish it.

the clock Maker

 

May

Again a busy month with the kids. My Kids Club had Summer Camp and the days were pretty adventurous. We had a visit to the Post Office, Space Mission, best out of waste and even had a lemonade stall in the busy market place run by the kids. It had been a freaky month with temperature outside reaching 46 degrees centigrade and inside almost touching 50 degrees centigrade with the kids laughter.

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Kids posting handwritten letters to their grandparents

A few things in life has changed me completely and Aakaar, an initiative by the sanskriti department in my part of world is one of them. I got the privileged of learning Madhubani Art from the renowned artist Shrimati Shanti Devi, who has represeImage may contain: 3 people, people sittingnted India in my countries regarding this Indian art form. I am in the kindergarten again and playing with brush after almost thirty years and its like homecoming for me. As a guru she passed on her passion to all of us however we could absorb just a tinge of it. We are all praise for her and her passion for bringing her imagination on the canvas. She says every art has a story. Madhubani or Mithila art was started by Raja Janak to document his daughter Sita’s wedding on the canvas and later the Ramayana. It is a rural art form and was hidden from the world all those years until Bihar was struck with massive earthquake and the paintings were revealed. Keeping up the tradition alive is this acclaimed artist whose wall art has been Image may contain: one or more people and people sittingincorporated on the national museum Delhi. However, it is really painful to see an artist of this caliber being deprived of the samman, respect, which she deserves. She has been part of the project for the last ten years yet few students know her name or even bother to know more about her as an artist. Being a rural woman she doesn’t know internet and hence is not aware of promoting her work on online platforms. She also shared that folk artists are not treated well within the country whereas outside India, people really appreciate their work and give the due respect. I have been offline for a almost twenty days now and she had transferred me to a magical world. A world of gobar handmade canvas over which one takes the flight of imagination and imprints the lines with brush and colorful pallets. Sharing some of her renowned work.

June

Had a two days story telling session with the school kids. I narrated two stories from my new release Grow Up Messy! The students enjoyed the stories very much or maybe they enjoyed the story telling more. They were pretty surprised to know about ebook. Most didn’t like reading books and those who did knew about paperbacks only. However, I was more surprised to know that the kids knew nothing about the armed forces of our country. Since Grow Up Messy! has a military background I had to explain them the basics first. Due to time crunch it was very difficult to make them understand the nature of job these people do. I wish school had a few more sessions where the children could know more about these organizations in our country. Unfortunately, we emphasize more on the career prospects rather than learning.
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Students enjoying after the session

With the arrival of the monsoons we had a short summer retreat to Kanha National Park to meet the Royal Bengal Tiger. We were unfortunate again. We didn’t get a glimpse of the tiger. However, we learned a lot of things about the area. Kanha is situated in Madhya Pradesh and is one of the first Tiger projects in the country started here in 1974.

 

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Jeep Safari at Kanha National Park

July

Watched Lipstic Under my Burkha.This is the first movie I watched with my friends after marriage. Otherwise I would always end up watching Rowdy Rathore or Wonder girl in the theater with my family. Movies of my choice was seldom chosen by family and finally when they did, they slept off while I watched. So LUMB was kind of special for me. Firstly, because of its theme and secondly because of my daring. lol
You can read about my movie moments here.
Our anniversary month. after leading a nomadic life we finally took a step together in settling down eventually.

August

My music lessons started. It was so refreshing to be back in college feeling like a new adult again. Gazals, poems and geet took most part of my day. I also got a chance to perform on stage in chorus in Saraswati vandana too on one occasion occupying the last corner place in the crowd of singers. It was fun. My love for Urdu poetry was rejuvenated here.  I was once more smitten by Urdu Shayars and one of them is the poet Bashir Bhardra. Once again I started writing Hindi poems.  You can read my poems here.
My kids club got a chance to perform on occasion of Independence Day in the most happening place of the city. The kids staged a Hindi drama, Aazadi- Ek Ehsaaas, written and directed by me. And also show themselves in various avatars of the patriotic personalities in fancy dress program. Thankfully all went well and we got covered in various newspaper as one of the fabulous event of the city on the occasion.
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Had a small trip to Chitrakoot water falls, the Nigra falls of India. With the monsoons in full swing it was a spectacular sight.
Had an opportunity to trek to the tribal goddess cave of Gond tribe in a remote village in Rajim.
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Gond Tribe worship place

September

Full fledged preparations for Durga Puja celebrations. For the first

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Bengali comedy Drama

time I was directing a Bengali Natak, Sashi Babur Biyer Swopno, (Shashi Babu’s wedding dreams) written by me.

I had an amateur team of adults to play the roles. And it was not easy to handle them because they all considered me as amateur which I certainly was. However, after working with kids I found it very difficult to work with adults. They had huge ego which got crushed on a slightest budge. Sigh! Nevertheless we staged the show on the specified date and thankfully got appreciated too. All well that ends well. So this drama gave me lots of confidence to stage more shows like this. A city which is very culturally thrived a comedy drama like this one is always appreciated.

October

My first self edit was doing better now. My thoughts were much clearer and my work crispier than before. Meanwhile I also penned couple of Hindi micro poems that had been appreciated by the Hindi speaking community here. October was a month of self discovery for me. I had shut myself off from everything both online and offline. Book ideas and music were the only two things that stayed with me in a positive way. It was a very stressful month for me otherwise.

November

Was more of a socializing month for me. Got an opportunity to see stage performance of Chhattisgarhi lokgeet artists, LokChaya. It was an altogether new experience for me.
Had an opportunity to be part of a Inter school  literary fest held in one of the renowned schools of the city.

December

My birthday month and I share it with my book baby Grow Up Messy! A delight to be loved by kids and parents alike. Misry gathered rave reviews from her readers throughout the year. The second part, The Sibling Saga, is awaited eagerly.
We had a cricket match in our kids club. The parents also joined in and spent a beautiful Sunday morning fielding or bowling in the ground while the kids slashed fours and sixers. Our umpire a newly retired director of the state health department did full justice to his role.
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Posing after the match

Christmas is again being a Santa and bring a smile on people’s face. Collecting unused and old clothes, books, toys and other essentials and distributing to the needy is what our kids club has been doing on regular basis. Visiting oldage homes, orphanage, missionaries is what we have been doing consecutively the last three years. Glad to share that more people are joining hands for this cause.
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Kids interacting with the seniors in the OldAge Home

In the end, I would like to thank all my readers, followers, critics, reviewers, author friends, buddy writers and well wishers and also those who haven’t read me yet, someday you will.  You guys have encouraged me to write more and try new things in the world of fantasy and fiction. Without your support the journey would  not have been possible at all.
This year ends with a beginning for a new year with lots of hopes for all of us. Wish all your dreams come true and mine too.
2017 has been an year of  self discovery for me. Hopefully 2018 shall be one of implementation.

TV, Mobile & Kids. Is that you?

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I have a kids book reading club and most of the time I have the parents asking me this question time and again, ” How to make the child interested in reading books?” So  I have written this article for them which I am sure can help.

Two decades back it was an easy sight to watch a child with story books in hand. We have grown up reading Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Enid Blyton and Mills & Boons. Reading books had been part of our lives and there was so much we imagined when reading these books. Right from fairy tales, to magical world to adventure stories of the sea, books had given us a big world of imagination. The characters stood alive in front of our eyes taking us to a new adventure along. Our summer vacation always started with a to-be-read list of books. Comics like Amar Chitra Katha, Chacha Choudhary, Tintin, Phantom were a big favorite of children at that time. Even the adults indulged in story telling sessions. I remember my childhood when all the children of the colony would assemble in my granny’s room in the evenings to listen to her stories. She would narrate tales of mythologies, folklore and fairy tales and all of us would just listen to her mesmerized.

Things have changed today. Granny’s storytelling sessions are now replaced by games on iPad or smart phones, books have been replaced by YouTube and TV channels and our living rooms, which decades back used to be the meeting place of all the family members in the evenings has now been replaced by smart televisions that have two screens running with two different channels at the same time. Whatsapp and Facebook updates have replaced our family discussions. It’s only the TV or apps on Smartphones that do the speaking in the living room now while the family members are mute spectators only.

Children don’t read books nowadays because they have never seen an adult reading a book. I remember my parents always with a novel in their hand most of the time when at home. Whenever they got a time out of their work they would love to indulge in reading books, magazines or newspaper. So as a child, I was familiar with the presence of books at home. Right from spiritual to Epics to thrillers and dramas, the collection of books, by my parents was huge. However, if we talk about today, most of the parents don’t read books at home. They read emails, whats app messages or Facebook updates most of the time. So a child easily becomes familiar with these instead.

So it is us, the parents, the adults at home, whom the child watches and behaves accordingly. If you want your child to love reading books then you got to love it first. You can easily start this by choosing a reading den in your house. Remember, how your daddy loved to spend long evening hours sitting in the easy chair in the corner of the drawing room reading his favorite author. Find out a similar corner for yourself in your home. Here are few things you need to make yourself comfortable there. A chair to sit comfortably, reading lights and a book shelf where you can keep your favorite author’s book. Once you are ready, sit with your favorite beverage and make yourself comfortable with a book in your hand. The first day, the second day, the third day I bet your child will follow you there with his favorite story book.

Kids are like the wet cement. Whatever you imprint on their mind will remain with them forever. Your work does not end here. Once you find your child has shown interest in reading books you have to make his books accessible to him everywhere in the house. The reason because children are restless and they won’t spend more than few minutes in one place, unlike the adults. So make a similar den for them in those areas where they access more like the living room, balcony, their room, dining area or play room. Unlike adults they don’t need much, just the bookcase, couch or rugs with few throw pillows on the floor are more than enough for them. kids-1136296__340

They will shift their positions many times while reading so they need space. One thing that you must always take care of is the reading light. Whichever place your child choose to sit and read should have adequate reading light otherwise it may affect the eyes. A bookcase near the child’s bed is always a good idea. You can always read him out a story before putting him to sleep. This will help him develop the habit of the reading book before going to sleep. As a parent, you have to ensure a good supply of books for your child. If the bookshelves don’t have new books the reading habit may suffer. You can do that by taking your child to bookstores once a month, or book fairs or you can even sign up with some children book clubs online. There are several Book Clubs online nowadays. Choose one which is nearby your area and join in the physical meetups. This will help increase interaction among the like-minded souls and the children will develop an interest in books in a better way.learning-164332__340

Today ebooks are the trend in the market. When the world is digitized so are the books. With free reading apps, it is very easy to read books on iPad or Smartphone or any other gazettes. Moreover, it is easier to make children read ebooks as they are already gazette freak. Ebooks ease the need of stacking physical books. You can carry thousands of books at a time with the ebook readers like kindle, kobo, nook. Audiobooks are also in trend these days wherein a book is in audio format and the reader is a listener. This is especially useful for those kids who are unable to read on their own. By listening to the narration they can enjoy the book. It also enhances their listening skills.iPad-Mock-up-ebook1 copy

Below is the list of few Indian writing paperbacks and ebooks that can be an interesting read for your child.

  1. Grow Up Messy! by Paromita Goswami ( Ages 10+)
  2. Malgudi daysby R. K Narayan  (Ages 10+)
  3. The Rusty Series by Ruskin Bond (Ages 10+)
  4. The Conch Bearer by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, (Ages 8+)
  5. His share of sky by Rashmi Narzary (Ages 10+)
  6. Amar Chitra Katha is all time favorite of the kids and can also teach them mythology, Indian history, and moral stories.
  7. Bookasura #2: Koobandhee by Arundhati Venkatesh (Ages 3+)
  8. Hardy Boys by Franklin W. Dixon (Ages 11+)
  9. Famous Five by Enid Blyton (Ages 11+)
  10. Nancy Drew by Carolyne Keene (Ages 11+)

All these books are available on Amazon.in.

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Fun facts about the book, Grow Up Messy! & the writing journey

This post first appeared in as a part of blog tour of Grow Up Messy!.

https://jdrhawkins.com/2017/02/16/grow-up-messy/

Fun facts about the book, Grow Up Messy! & the writing journey

  1. Misry’s character in the book Grow Up Messy! is that of an innocent child who depends more on her mother for her smaller needs. The best part is she expects her mother to be know everything just like the superwoman. She believes there is nothing which her Ma cannot do or hasn’t seen. So when she requests her mother to make Pinjiri, something which she had tasted for the first time elsewhere, it never occurred to her that Ma might not know about its preparation.

This particular scene from the book is very close to my heart. Although the entire episode is very funny but it actually depicts the trust of a child in the mother. Something which no one can ever challenge. I see my son in this episode sometimes.

  1. Children enjoy being dirty. We have done it so many times in our days yet as a parent if we see our child playing in the soil we try to stop him immediately. The same thing our mothers might have also done with us while we enjoyed. Isn’t it strange, when we grow up we follow our mothers so blindly.

There is an episode in the book where Misry plays in the muddy pool and ruins her fresh clothes. No doubt her mother is mad at her.

  1. Children have a very special place for animals in their heart. Whether they have pets at home or not but whenever they get a chance to pet an animal they will never stop themselves. I wish as we grow up we shouldn’t lose this emotion within us. It actually makes us more humane.

In the book, Misry befriends a sacrificial  animal as her pet what follows next is very       heart wrenching.

  1. As kids, our relationship with our first cousins is very interesting. Once in a year, during the school vacation we go to visit them. Whatever, time we spent together is always fun. We use to share things, study together, fight with each other and even share our little secrets. These moments are recreated when Misry visits her Dadu’s house. It is so much fun to have so many family members living under the same roof. Have you ever lived in a joint family or visited one?
  1. It will be a lie if I say I never had any difficulties in learning or rather mugging up the multiplication tables. This was one part that I always hated in Mathematics and the fact is no one said before that this multiplication table I will be using throughout my life. Yet when it comes to our kids we never fail to tell them how easy it is to learn the multiplication table. Was it really???

The book has a chapter for that too. Seriously dedicated to the Multiplication Tables.       How Misry and her family copes with it is something to watch out for.

Holla All!!

So still catching up on the valentine day blues. Don’t worry. Just enjoy a bit more.

I had a very different notion of The Day of Love from my son D. A preteen that he is, sometimes his actions give me hiccups. Lately when he was so impressed by the Flying Jatt Akka Tiger Shroff that D started imitating him. He would stand in front of the mirror for hours to make his hair style or watch his dance moves. I was so irritated sometimes.

D even made sure that his friends both at school and at home acknowledge him by that name. And there was no stopping for him. His hair was already touching his shoulders when I had to literally pull him into the salon for a decent hair cut. All the while as the man worked on his scissors D’s tears never stopped rolling down his cheeks. In the mirror, he was looking into my eyes and spitting venom for bringing this into him. I had to beg everybody in the salon to praise my son’s new look. And thankfully they did as long as we stayed there. That did pacify D a little. And on our way back home walking I coaxed few more of his friends to praise him. Finally when we reached home and he stood in front of the mirror to check upon his new look, the crew cut. It took him weeks to fall in love with his hair style again.

I mentioned the above incident to show how children grow up sooner now a days. At his age few decades back we were pretty dumb to understand what was Valentine’s Day. But today’s generation know it. THE DAY OF LOVE is pretty well observed by them. Fair enough!

So I watched D board the school bus. He had taken little bit more effort to get dressed that morning. Lately, he had been asking questions about girls and females. So I had no doubts that my son was going to school on a mission.

While he was away I drowsed myself in watching Pretty Women on TV. It was the nth time I was watching it and somehow it always succeeded in grabbing my attention no matter what. I forgot the count of time. I watched Richard Gere climb up the iron ladder to rescue his love of life, Julia Robert and it stole my heart as usual.

Damn! My son wasn’t home yet? Where has he been? He is never late. Most of the students skipped school because of the final examination preparation that was due on 17th. So I had no clue where to look for him. He had the habit of collecting kites from the terrace that the wind brings in sometimes, so I was hoping he will be home any minute with one or two more kites in hand. But even after five minutes of pushing myself over the balcony railing to have a good glimpse of the road below I had no sign of D. I grew restless and ran down the stairs.

I found D sitting on the stairs just above the ground scribbling something on a piece of paper. He didn’t answer me when I asked what he was up to sitting there. He asked me to wait for him. I joined him and saw what he was doing.

On a small craft paper he was making some designs that looked more like a greeting card. So he was making a card for one of the girls in the colony. I didn’t have to guess who it might be. I had seen him talking about her to B, my husband his father, many often. So I guess he was pretty excited about the whole thing.

I went inside the house again to prepare food for him. Soon he joined me and informed that he wants candle light dinner. I sighed. Then all of a sudden he asked me to stand straight looking at him. I did.

In front of me was a boy with a shy smile on his face almost avoiding my gaze to surprise me. He bent down and touched my feet. Before I could understand what had happened he handed me the hand made greeting card and stood back longingly for my reaction. I opened the card that read in one of the most silly handwriting,

WISH YOU BOTH HAPPY PARENTING ON THIS DAY OF LOVE. LOVE YOU BOTH MOM AND PAPA FOR LOVING ME SO MUCH. I PROMISE TO DO GOOD IN FINAL EXAM. YOUR’S D.

The small note stole my heart. Love can have lots of meaning and one of them is parental love too. And how lovingly my son had chosen this day to declare his love for us.

HAPPY DAY OF LOVE to you all!

 

 

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Love is all about caring.