Friday, February 28, 2020

Poet, author Nisha Shankar talks about The Drink Selection - Interview

Today, I'm featuring young author and poet Nisha Shankar, who will be giving some insight about her debut poetry collection The Drink Selection as well as some hints about her upcoming works.

Book: The Drink Selection
Author: Nisha S. Shankar
Publisher: Mascot Books 


Welcome to the bar, I do hope you enjoy the ambiance. It will have everything from the welcomes till closing time.

So, set your affairs in order, take a seat, play the game, and wait around long enough to see whether you might emerge victorious.

The ice cubes like dice. The glass is their game board. Now, roll.

On to the exclusive interview!

Q: In the synopsis, you mentioned never having drunk alcohol and yet the collection is about "drinking!" How did you work that out? (Did you ask people what they felt when drinking for example, did they find it weird?...etc)

Nisha Shankar: That’s true! (obviously.) I have never had a “hands-on” experience to what I was writing about, so adding embellishments to make the story a bit more interesting seemed like a nice path to go down. I didn’t actually ask anybody how they felt about drinking alcohol, I felt as though no person would really answer that question with a straight face or answer.

To be honest, it was a little bit of interpreting and then some. As I figured, there is both a good side as well as a bad side to every action that is done. How different could drinking alcohol be? So, I constructed a list of positives and negatives. Elation and ecstatic would go on one side, while jealousy and murder would go on the other.

I had to construct a literary line that would divide the drinkers and the drunks so that the reader really had to read which one was being spoken of. I just started writing what I thought people would feel like when they drank alcohol. Depending on the drink really, was how the person acted while they drank what they did. I really just shaped a personality around a drink. Whether that personality is actually revealed in reality, I am proud to say I have absolutely no idea.

Q: When did you start writing poetry? Who was your first inspiration?

Nisha Shankar: I have always been writing something or another for as long as I can remember in grade school. Even when we were supposed to be paying attention to a science lesson on the layers of the Earth, I was writing a story in the margins of my observation notebook.

I really got into poetry when I was in sixth grade when that was the main form of writing that we were concentrating on in class. It could be short and sweet, or melancholy and drawn out over the course of a couple of pages. I really loved the diversity of types of poetry that could be written.

I’d say my first inspiration(s) of poetry had to be T.S. Eliot, Langston Hughes, and Maya Angelou. I started reading them extensively in sixth and seventh grade, loving the work written during the prohibition period, especially.

Q: How did you decide on the arrangement of the poems in The Drink Selection?

Nisha Shankar: The arrangement was meant to be by the order of drinks in which they would be drunk. I had no idea whether my arrangement was correct in the alcoholic world, but I took my best guess. I also wanted to ease people into it. I didn’t want random poems about different drinks until they all just mush together into a jumble.

I wanted people to differ between the tones, the words, and I thought that starting with an intro, an amuse-bouche almost, will give them a sip before they chug down the entire thing. In my head, it made perfect sense, the order that is. I thought that people would have their G&T before eating their meal, maybe sipping some wine, but after the meal, in some luxury bar draped in velvet, there would be hard whiskey, some specials to top off some, and the snacks at the end to sober them up some a little before closing time.

Q: Tough question but: what's your favorite poem in The Drink Selection?

Nisha Shankar: This is like asking which child is my favorite! Geez, if I had to choose one, it would be "The Murder on the Whiskey Express". It being the first poem that started this entire thing, I think most people would guess that the OG would be my favorite. And I really think it is. It’s classy, elegant, clean, and concise. As for clear, well, that’s for the reader to decide, right?

Q: If you could describe your book The Drink Selection in 3 or 4 words, what would they be?
Nisha Shankar: Not what you expected.

Q: Are you planning to publish more books, if yes, can you tell us about them?

Nisha Shankar: That’s the plan right now. When my teachers will get on board that I actually plan to write a book and need the time to do so, I’ll let you know. But, I can tell you about the next few books that I’m planning. In order to keep these answers short (enough), I’ll just let you in on my next one.

Sticking with my theme, I’m going murder mystery. It’s going to be called The Sane Society. It’s going to be a fiction book. I have already started writing it, only the prologue; I haven’t really moved farther than that.

I’ll give you a brief synopsis: There are 5 kids that are accused of the murder of their classmate. These 5 kids come from completely different social groups and backgrounds and would never think of interacting with each other unless they all happened to be convicted of the same crime. As the court case continues, there is evidence dug up that these 5 kids are mentally unstable and should be taken to a mental hospital in order to contain them. The 5 kids, knowing that they are really mentally stable, are started to be questioned by their friends and family, who are now wary about their claims. As they are admitted to the hospital, they begin to plan to escape. And as the events continue, they begin to wonder whether someone is framing them. But why them?

About the Author:

Nisha S. Shankar is a very introspective, thoughtful, and intellectually curious young adult. She is musically talented and has been playing piano from the age of six. She is an amazing artist, but did not originally set out to write a book of poems about alcoholic beverages.

What started out as a challenge between two sisters regarding whether Nisha could write a poem about any topic led to “Murder on the Whiskey Express,” the first of these series of drink-related poems. An impressive feat, considering she has never tasted the drinks herself!

Special thanks to Chris Baker from Mascot Books for arranging this interview.

About Mascot Books
Mascot Books is a full-service, multi-genre, hybrid book publisher and distributor headquartered in Herndon, Virginia. Co-founded in 2003 by Naren Aryal, Mascot has published more than 2,500 books in a variety of genres, including fiction, nonfiction, children's, cookbooks, and coffee table books. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Past Deeds by Carolyn Arnold - Book Review

Past Deeds by Carolyn Arnold is the eighth installment in the Brandon Fisher FBI series. A sniper is taking out men who have been unfaithful to their wives, but is that the only motive at play?
"Humans were much like wild animals, feeding of the carcass of misfortune, sucking it bone dry for their own advantages, whatever those may be."

There is lots to tackle when it comes to this newest installment in the Brandon Fisher FBI series. Lots of perspectives, lots of ideas bouncing around, lots of problems in the past. This was one juicy read!

Past Deeds is the eighth book in the series but my second read, and it can easily be read as a standalone. Arnold weaves in each character's past into this one that you can't help but want to read previous installments.

I liked how Arnold brought on a new character from a previous novel, Kelly Marsh, who first appeared in On the Count of Three. And for those who have read the previous book, you can compare Kelly's character, which was a little stronger in On the Count of Three, but now she's a new member of the FBI and is sort of being schooled by Jack Harper, the senior special agent in charge. So there's lots of conflict and bits of humor, especially as Brandon Fisher isn't a big fan of Kelly.

"Sometimes clinging to the normal and familiar was how people coped with tragedy."

One of the things I liked about Past Deeds was the various viewpoints, including the sniper's. I liked getting into her head – and yes the sniper is a woman, which is a five-star move on Arnold's part – and seeing how she's reacting to her surroundings, expressing her emotions and distress. It's actually interesting how for this particular sniper, one can feel much pain and sympathize with her.

"[The sniper] needed to avoid arrest for at least two more days to see her entire operation all the way through and reap the full reward… Even if a cage was where she belonged."

The title Past Deeds doesn't just speak for the sniper, it speaks of all the characters in the book. Each character, whether FBI or culprit or victim had a 'past deed' that either got to them or had them thinking about. The pun and the flow for that theme were simply brilliant!

One of the – MANY – reasons I like reading Arnold's books, whether police procedural cozy mysteries or thrillers like Past Deeds, is the bits of insight Arnold seeps in her book. Like here:

"Keep in mind that the first rule of profiling is never jump to a motive. We do that, and we might as well hand in our badges."

Overall, I loved every bit of this quick-paced thriller; I couldn't put it down!

"She wasn't a killer by nature, but she was good at it –maybe that meant she was supposed to do it."

Note: I received an Advanced Reader's Copy (ARC) of Past Deeds by Carolyn Arnold in exchange for an honest review. This did not, in any way, affect my review. The book is really good! (I finished the book a few days ago but have been able to sit down and write it for personal reasons)

A while back I featured a guest post by Carolyn Arnold on the 5 Steps to Profiling a Serial Killer.

Also check out my book review of the seventh installment in the Brandon Fisher FBI series, On the Count of Three, which can also be read as a standalone.

Update: I've finally embarked on Carolyn Arnold's Detective Madison Knight Mystery series with the 10th installment: What We Bury and I loved it!

If you're interested in lighter reads for Carolyn Arnold, check my book reviews of her cozy mystery books: Money Is Murder, Halloween Is Murder, and Coffee Is Murder. You can also check Arnold's historical fiction, adventure, mystery Secret of the Lost Pharaoh (got 5 stars from me!)

About the Author:
CAROLYN ARNOLD is the international bestselling and award-winning author of the Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher, and McKinley Mystery series. She is the only author, in her genre, with POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT.TM
Carolyn was born in a small town, but that doesn’t keep her from dreaming big. And on par with her large dreams is her overactive imagination that conjures up killers and cases to solve. She currently lives in a city near Toronto with her husband and two beagles, Max and Chelsea. She is also a member of Crime Writers of Canada.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Bonbon with the Wind by Dorothy St. James - Spotlight

Book: Bonbon with the Wind
(Book 4 in the Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery)
Author: Dorothy St. James
Publication date: 9 December 2019
Publisher: Barking Dog Press
Number of pages: 251 pages
ASIN: B082L528GS

Today, I'm featuring Bonbon with the Wind, a cozy mystery involving a chocolate shop by Dorothy St. James in a spotlight.


There's a legend in the Sea Islands that before a hurricane hits the Gray Lady can be seen walking down the beach warning of doom. Penn doesn’t believe in such silly stories, but she does believe weather forecasters. A powerful hurricane is heading their way. Everyone on the island of Camellia Beach is busy boarding up windows and securing valuables to upper levels of buildings. Joe Davies, a local treasure hunter with an unquenchable sweet tooth, claims to have seen the Gray Lady walking toward him just that morning and is terrified for his life.

After the storm passes everyone returns to survey the damage. As Penn walks her little dog Stella on the beach, she finds Joe Davies’ body washed up onshore. Not only that, it looks as if an exploding transformer caused Joe’s seaside shack to burn to the ground. Did the Gray Lady claim another victim? Many on the island believe that is exactly what happened.

Penn is sure there’s another explanation. She follows the clues and hints of lost gold to discover that the truth behind the treasure hunter’s death is as much of a maze as the boating channels winding their way through the local marshes.

Here's an excerpt from Bonbon with the Wind by Dorothy St. James

"What’s going on?”

“Dead body on the beach,” Byrd answered for me. “Your girlfriend found it.”

Harley tripped over his own feet. “Penn, really?”

I nodded.

“We haven’t been back in town for more than”—he checked his watch—“two hours, and you’re already stumbling across dead bodies?”

“It wasn’t on purpose. Besides, it wasn’t me. Stella found it.”

“You’re blaming the dog?” He scrubbed his hand over his face. “Whatever you do, don’t let Fletcher hear about it. He’ll declare it was a murder.”

“He won’t hear about it from me, but this is Camellia Beach. If he’s returned, there’s a good chance someone has already told him,” I said.

Fletcher was my newest employee. He had this unnatural interest in playing amateur detective. It was an interest that had nearly gotten him killed a few months ago.

Harley groaned. “That boy is looking for murders. He was wearing a Sherlock Holmes deerstalker hat the last time we saw him, for goodness sake.”

“It might be a murder,” I mumbled. Not quietly enough, apparently.

Harley paled.

I felt for him. He was likely remembering the last murder on the island. He’d helped me track down the killer. Things had turned downright dangerous at the end. Matters between Harley and me had also turned steamy right before we’d confronted someone who had no moral qualms against killing anyone who had gotten in their way.

Like Fletcher, we’d also been lucky to escape with our lives.

“Don’t misunderstand me,” I said. “I hope it’s nothing. I hope I’m seeing dead bodies where none exist.”

We arrived where I’d found the suspicious-looking shirt. Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps that stinky lump in the sand wasn’t a dead body. I grabbed Harley’s hand and held it tightly as both Byrd and Marion donned plastic gloves.

Marion produced a little whisk brush from her medical bag—not something I was expecting she’d have in there and then squatted next to the suspicious lump. With fast, efficient swipes she removed the top layer of sand from a small area. A moment later, Byrd cursed.

I leaned forward to see what had upset him.

A mistake.

What I saw wasn’t something I’d wanted to see. I quickly pressed my face to Harley’s chest, sandwiching Stella between me and her arch nemesis. She wiggled and growled low in her throat.

“I didn’t want to be right,” I choked as I tried to soothe my angry little dog. “Truly, I didn’t.”

“I know, Penn.” Harley rubbed his hand up and down my back.

Marion had uncovered from the sandy grave what was clearly a man’s hand. The action of her brush had dislodged something disc-shaped from his fingers.

“Is that a gold coin?” Harley asked.

“Looks like it,” Marion answered as she continued to clear away the sand.

“It’s an accidental death,” Harley whispered in my ear. “Someone stayed during the storm who shouldn’t have stayed. It’s tragic, but far more common than you might think.”

“I hope you’re right.” It didn’t feel like he was right.

About the Author:
Dorothy St. James is the author of the White House Gardener mysteries. For the past twenty years she made her home on Folly Beach, an artsy island community in South Carolina with her sculptor husband. Dorothy is a member of Mystery Writers of America (MWA), Sisters in Crime (SiNC), and the International Thriller Writers (ITW). This is her fourth Southern Chocolate Shop mystery.

Connect with Dorothy St. James via her Website, Facebook, Twitter, and BookBub.

Purchase Bonbon with the Wind by Dorothy St. James via Amazon 

Keep up with the rest of the tour for Bonbon with the Wind by Dorothy St. James via Escape with Dolly Cas; this includes book reviews, author interviews, and guest posts.

February 3 – Nadaness In Motion & Literary Gold – Spotlights & The Power of Words – Book Review

February 4 – Sneaky the Library Cat's Blog – Character Interview & Laura`s InterestsBook Review & I'm All About Books – Character Guest Post

February 5 – Celticladys Reviews & Hearts & Scribbles & Reading Is My SuperPower – Spotlights & Jane Reads – Guest Post

February 6 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book & Books a Plenty Book Reviews – Book Reviews & A Blue Million Books – Author Interview

February 7 – Baroness' Book Trove & View from the Birdhouse Book Review & Brooke Blogs – Spotlight & Recipe & eBook Addicts – Spotlight

February 8 – Christy's Cozy Corners & My Reading Journeys  Book Reviews & I Read What You Write – Book Review & Guest Post

February 9 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – Spotlight & A Wytch's Book Review Blog – Book Review & Character Guest Post & My Journey Back – Author Interview

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Takhayyal writing prompt 104: Telekinesis

New month, new writing prompt!

Welcome back Ladies and Gentlemen, Artists, Poets, Writers, Authors, Dreamers, Friends and Family; Welcome EVERYONE to Nadaness In Motion's MONTHLY picture-prompt writing challenge Takhayyal or Imagine.

All you have to do is look at this image and open an empty word document or your favorite notebook and let the words flow... 

Are you up to this challenge?

Arabic for Imagine, Takhayyal is a challenge for writers of all ages and genres; a place to spark creativity and explore new genres.

Your post can be in English or Arabic, prose, poetry, short story, flash fiction, an imaginary situation, an artistic thought; you name it and write it.

General rules:

·        No nudity, violence, and/or abuse.
·  Use the image for inspiration and write your piece in the comments below or publish it on your blog and leave the link to it in the comments
·        Your piece MUST be inspired in some way or other by the above picture
·        Multiple entries allowed
·     It is not required but it is a nice and encouraging gesture to comment on others' pieces.
·        Feel free to add your Twitter handle (@....) so I can tag you in my tweets or tag me @NadanessSobhi and I'll retweet you :)