Friday, March 15, 2013

7 Things You Might Not Know About Zee Monodee (via The Very Inspiring Blogger Award)

Hey beautiful people!

Once again I find myself up to my neck in edits and barely able to pop my head over the water level for long enough to take another life-sustaining breath. But with the weekend approaching, I'm starting to let myself bob up and down on those choppy waters, and the best thing to do in that state is... chill!

I don't have a progress report for you today (though if you check the WIP counters, you'll see the jump in work), but since I've been tagged for a blog award, I thought, why not chill with that?

The lovely and talented Rae Rivers tagged me on this round of The Very Inspiring Blogger Award (thank you, darling!! I'm honoured!). For those of you who don't recall, Rae was here a little while ago with her guest post "Has the cat got your tongue?" Take a peek at the quirky world of art and art theft she features in her latest book.

But anyhow, the award... This is how this works. I'm supposed to link back to the person who tagged me (done!), write up 7 things about me, and then tag a few very inspiring people. I'm not too sure about the tagging part, because everyone I find inspiring seem to have already been tagged, so I won't burden anyone with a tag. I will, however, tell you who I find inspiring lately. *grin*

So, 7 things you might not know about me.... I'm pretty much an open book, but the blog's been getting lots of new visitors lately who might not have been following my rambles from all the while back. I also have lots of new Twitter followers, so this might be interesting for them.

Let's get started...

1. I was a surprise baby, born when my dad was 48 and my mum 41, a few months before their 20th wedding anniversary. After having my brother 16 years earlier, my mum had been told she'd never have kids again. Then, *poof*, here I was.
I'll admit it was kinda strange growing up with my cousins' kids the same age or slightly older than me... Today, at 30, I'm already a "grandma" to a 16-yr-old girl... *gasp*

2. I'm a cancer survivor. 8 years ago, a week after my 22nd birthday, I was diagnosed with malignant ductal carcinoma in situ - in short, breast cancer. Thank goodness it wasn't the invasive kind, but given how it struck with me being so young, my oncologist took no chances and pumped me up with meds and therapy. I've thus been through horrid rounds of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
But as they say, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and cancer changed my life, taught me to enjoy every moment I have been blessed with on this Earth, and to not take for granted all the blessings God has showered on me.

3. I always 'dreamed' of being a writer someday. I thought a 'good' life meant a career in a sophisticated office environment and me as a power maven in that culture. Then I tried corporate working, and it kinda left a bitter taste in my mouth when it wasn't making me sick outright. Still, that's what was deemed as our society as 'making it', so I stuck to my guns.
But when I was diagnosed, by husband told me that "one day is right now; you make it happen!" I took his words to heart and put pen to paper, literally, and what emerged was my first novel, The Other Side, which is being re-published in July this year.

4. I'm a bully magnet. I don't know if it's because I'm naive, or trust too easily, or people take me for an airhead whom they think they can boss around easily... I've been bullied throughout my life. There was the out-and-out mean girl in secondary school, who thought she was the hottest stuff to walk the earth and thus anyone slumming it in a way unlike hers deserved her contempt and riling. Sometimes, I wonder how I survived her taunts... I think God gave me the strength to cope. When I think of what she put me through, today I ask myself how I didn't think of ending my life, the way some bullied kids do nowadays.
Then at work, my boss' PA offloaded all her work on me, and in a sweet way that no one would pinpoint at first, would bully me around to do her bidding instead of what the department required (hence the bitter aftertaste and nausea induced by the corporate world).
I was not at the end of my tether, though, because even online, someone I considered a dear friend abused that friendship and turned on me in an outright war of slinging mud when I dared say, enough is enough!
I'm pretty sure I'm not done with bullies. With my track record, I consider that a given. But hopefully, I am older and wiser now and can stand my ground.

5. The sight and smell of fresh fruit makes me sick. I know - weird. I cannot even run past the produce section at the grocery store without gagging once. Consequently, I don't eat fruit, either. And in case you're wondering, I get my Vit C from veggies or boxed juice or even multivitamin tablets. It's worked so far.
But my biggest nightmare is bananas. Just the sight of them even in a picture can make me want to throw up. And no, I have no clue where that phobia of bananas comes from.

6. Other thing that can give me nightmares - reptiles! As much as I adore shoes and handbags, I cannot even tolerate the idea of a shoe or bag in reptile skin *shiver, shudder, horror!* I cannot stand the look of those animals, and they totally, totally creep me out! I can kill a cockroach (while screming the whole time to keep the adrenalin bursting!) and I'll shoo spiders when I see them. But if my gaze lands on a lizard, I freeze, and only my vocal chords will work as I yell for whoever is at home to come get that beast away from me!

7. The first time I got married, I was 17. Today I know that what I had deemed a lifelong love (without which I'd die!) back then was nothing more than a burst of infatuation with a man who seemed to have everything (including a tendency to want to provide to more than one lady love at a time, if you get my drift...).
At 18, while all my peers were writing their A-levels, I was getting a divorce in a very messy courtroom battle because my ex refused to shoulder the blame of his infidelity as the reason for our breakup. Yes, today I know I was partly to blame in there because at the time I was a spoilt little princess who thought she was owed everything. I wasn't easy to live with, but what hurt was that he never had the courage to say to my face that I was driving him nuts; instead preferring to go find his solace in other women's arms before crawling back into my bed afterwards.
So at the wise age of 19, I remarried, and so far so good, this man and I have been going strong for 11 years, through thick and thin (cancer, remember? We also had our lean times when the money was only enough to buy potatoes to take us to the next paycheck, and we didn't have a car for many years, among other things...)

So here's a bit about me. I must've bored you stiff by now, and I apologize. It's just that even to myself, I am a complex puzzle made of facets and sides that somehow all come together to make 'me' who I am. And the quirkiest is... I'm not at the end of my tether. Every day, I discover something about myself, and uncover some wisdom about life... They say we never stop learning, and life's doing its fair share to show me that all the time...

Anyhow, back on track. As this is The Very Inspiring Blog award, I am not tagging people but will tell you who I do find inspiring in this big bad world out there. Some of them are:
author Natalie G Owens. My bestie, a wonderful author, and even more beautiful person with a heart of gold and the most helpful, guileless nature out there. Proud to know she is on my team!
author Karen Rock. A fabulous writer, but an even more fantabulous person! I recently met her but the friendship bond she has extended my way is the kind that reinforces in your heart that Good does still exist out there!
Decadent Publishing owners Lisa Omstead and Heather Bennet. Two insanely awesome ladies who go to bat for their authors, their friends, and their pub house. It's an honour to be part of their team, and an even bigger honour to consider them dear friends.
authors Lynn Spangler, Graylin Fox, and Rebecca Royce - for being amazing women, fantastic authors, and always being there for me despite whatever drama could be going on in their lives. They are my rocks!

That's it for my (very rambling) Friday peeps. No, I'm not drunk (I don't drink, what with being a Muslim and all that, lol) and I'm not also high on anything (recently cut off caffeine from my life. I know, crazy, but I had to for health reasons...).
Still, I hope this post gave you a glimpse into my existence. Thanks for sharing these parts of me now.

From Mauritius with love,


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

From My Playlist: British Chicks that run the show!

Hey beautiful people!

Popping in for a quick one to share a few things with ye all. I was listening to the MP3 player on my phone yesterday while cooking (music and lol, singing along, help me relax while *shocker!* being in the kitchen I now find soothing). So on comes a totally random playlist, but the thing is - these songs were all by amazing British female artists!

I must've mentioned quite a few times how my tastes veer more toward British pop and chart music. My favourite chart to follow and grab tunes from is still the UK Top 40 compiled through best singles sales by the BBC.

And since I realized that I haven't posted any music playlists on here this year *gasp!*(the last one was when I pitted boy bands and girl bands in a Battle of the Sexes playlist in December) I thought, why not share with you some of those rocken' tunes I was listening to yesterday?

Here goes! In my humble opinion, some of the best British tracks out there for 2012 and 2013.

First up - heard this one when I was at the hairdresser last week. With foils all over my head (coz I was getting highlights... Yay not, in order to cover the grey), the sounds resonated home even better. I didn't know the track, but the voice was the unmistakable one of Florence Welch. I captured some lyrics, Googled them once at home, and this was the track! Spectrum, by Florence and the Machine.

My go-to gal for an upbeat mood lift, Jessie J is this amazingly talented artist who rocks her own quirky style and always, always manages to put everyone in a good, jiving mood with her tracks. The vids are often psychedelic, but this just adds to her eccentric charm! Domino by Jessie J

These girls came together for X-Factor. Some say they're  the new Spice Girls. I disagree - there will only ever be one Spice Girls! Still, Little Mix have the kind of uplifting tunes with girl-empowering lyrics that made the success of former girl bands out there. This one is their latest single. Change Your Life by Little Mix

And finally, would a British playlist be complete without the British artist of the moment? Adele, of course, can channel heartbreak into a kick-arse anthem that makes women the world over go "Girl Power Rocks!"
I much prefer the rhythmic remix of this one, but the original itself has a great beat on an awesome tune. Set Fire To The Rain by Adele

Hope you had a good time listening to my tracks' selection, peep!

From Mauritius with love,


Monday, March 04, 2013

What readers really want from you!

(or my interpretation of it...)

Latest acquisition!
Hey beautiful people!

Back on board with a random thoughts' post today. A few things have happened over the weekend, leading me to a realization that I believe applies to everyone of us.

What do readers want? I know most of you are writers, so this is the question that never leaves your mind, but this conclusion can be applied to any area where something is being offered to an audience (goods, services, experience, whatever.)

Let me first explain how I came to this conclusion. Yesterday was my birthday (and yeah, I turned 30. Dunno if I should cry or rejoice, because I've finally reached this big number. Anyhow...)

I've actually walked 1 mile in this at a mall
& not gotten any blister!
So my husband knows something about me - I'm a shoeholic and a book junkie. Whether for my b-day, Eid celebration, Mother's Day, or when he needs to be forgiven for something, he knows he better take me directly to the closest ALDO shop. And it's ALDO and nowhere else (fyi - ALDO is a Canadian brand of shoes, handbags, accessories. Mainly known for their shoes, though. Nothing close to Blahniks or Choos, but good stuff, still.)

Now, I love shoes. Most of the shops here sell imported goods from China and India. At around 300-600 rupees a pair (that's roughly $10-20 in US currency), these are not exactly cheap. Compare to ALDO, where shoes start at the Rs2,300 benchmark (about $80). For one pair of ALDO shoes, you can get like 4-7 pairs of 'other' shoes.
ALDO also does handbags. Leather, fabric, suede - you name it, they have it. A regular handbag in a local shop here would cost you around Rs900($30). At ALDO, bags start at Rs1,600 (roughly $55, let's say).

My gift yesterday!
Over the past decade, I must've gone through an average of 13 handbags. I lug mine everywhere all the time - it's got all my stuff from wallet to hand sanitizer to makeup pouch to cell phone to tissues, moist wipes, a small bottle of lotion, lip balm, keys, a notepad, pens, and whatever else I need to carry with me. My bag sees a whole lot of action... and needless to say, one rarely lasts beyond 9 months. That's the most one of them has gone (the 'cheap' kind).

Kinda blurry but you get the
September of 2011, hubby bought me a handbag from ALDO. Fabric, in a custom-made weave that had ALDO written all over the textile. Leather handles, and finished with leather piping all around. Price - Rs1,900. Yep, twice the price of a regular, 'good' bag out there.
Did it last more than 9 months?

Actually, I'm still using that ALDO bag. That's 18 months later... 18 months of daily wear and tear and being put through the worst wringer of Mummy-rush and me needing to cram everything in. Absolutely no sign of abuse on the bag!

And let's talk about shoes. All my shoes come from, you guessed it, ALDO. There's one pair I bought 3 months ago at another shop, for Rs800 (I loved the style). But that shoe, though I do wear it everyday to drive, is already having the trim on the espadrille wedge heel unraveling!

Yep, the sole is unraveling! Already!

My go-to shoes,
be it summer or winter
Contrast with the ballet flats I got from ALDO back in May 2011 - shoes that I must've walked miles in (grocery aisles and shopping malls), that I drove with all the time, that have been plunged into rainwater puddles more times than I can count during our rainy summers. State of those Kelli flats? Except for some scuff marks on the tip (that go away with some shoe polish), the shoes are almost like new.

My point being - ALDO has proved itself to me by now. I might get great stuff at other places (like, Longchamp for bags and Bella Donna for designer shoes), but I'll always, always go back to ALDO for what I need.

Reason? Because ALDO gives me value!

The perfect beach/summer
And that, my dear writer friends, is what readers are looking for from you - VALUE!

My bestie knows I'm a book junkie so she sent me my birthday gift in the form of an Amazon gift card. I went on a total rampage, and got tons of books.

But what made me choose one book over another?

Simple - based on the Value of what the author/read would bring me.

I look for light-hearted comedy usually when I shop for books, and some names are a given for me. Example, Jill Mansell, Sophie Kinsella, Marian Keyes.
Each one of these authors is sure to bring me what I'm looking for - a good time with lots of twists and turns in an engaging read where I can lose myself. All 3 of them have proven to me that they deliver consistent value every single time, and it is now with eyes closed that I snatch up their books when a new one comes out.

Ask yourself this question - what value do you bring to a reader when you put a story out?

More than saving money, people look for Value out there in whatever they are consuming.

Why else do you think organic foodstuff is so hot right now? Because consumers know what they are getting from these goods - no chemicals, a return to traditional rearing, like it always should have been. This in turn will not affect their health adversely. Yes, organic costs more, but do you see people blinking twice before buying organic stuff? No. Because they know the value they'll get from these goods, and value is what they're after!

Here ends my ramblings, peeps! I believe I've found the key to unlock the secrets of what I should be offering to my audience. It just might happen that this same key unlocks the secret to what will work for you, too.

From Mauritius with love,