Archive for June 26th, 2012

At thirty-one, Meena Shenoy has a fulfilling career at a New Jersey high-tech firm. Not that it impresses her mother and aunts, who make dire predictions about her ticking biological clock. Men are drawn to Meena’s dainty looks and she dates regularly, but hasn’t met someone who really intrigues her. Someone professional, ambitious, confident, caring. Someone like her new boss, Prajay Nayak.

Just as Meena’s thoughts turn to romance, Prajay makes an astonishing request. He wants her to craft a personal ad that will help him find a suitable wife: a statuesque, sophisticated Indian-American woman who will complement his striking height.

Despite her attraction to Prajay and the complications of balancing work and her “marriage consultant” role, Meena can’t refuse the generous fee. And as her family is thrown into turmoil by her brother’s relationship with a Muslim woman, Meena comes to surprising realizations about love, tradition, and the sacrifices she will–and won’t–make for the sake of both.



What is it about romance novel covers that make them enticing on the one hand and the butt end of jokes on the other? It is the men who typically disdain romantic books and stay away from the romance aisles in the bookstores. But there are also women who are embarrassed to be seen reading novels with provocative covers.

Historical fiction covers still tend to stick to the old stereotype: voluptuous women with luscious breasts spilling out of their gowns and dashing heroes in tight breeches and flamboyant jackets.

Contemporary romances however have come a long way since the days of bosomy heroines staring adoringly at the heroes holding them in their muscle-bound arms. Now, book covers still show C-cup women and strapping men, but with a slight twist. The women are more scantily clad, with slender waists and skinny legs, and often wielding guns or other weapons, depending on the sub-genre. The men’s broad chests and tree-trunk biceps are bare, too, often tattooed and hairless. Then there are the paranormal covers with vampires, wolves, and wild cats poised to leap. All those covers are beautiful and tell their own story. They seem just right for the tales inside.

So where does that leave the kind of fiction I write: Bollywood in a Book? Mine is multicultural commercial fiction with heroines in modest garb, heroes working at ordinary jobs, and family drama as the central theme. Nevertheless there is plenty of love and romance woven into my stories.

Much to my joy, my publisher has designed beautiful covers to suit my unusual brand of Indian-American romance. No bosom on display, and no man—just a woman wearing a sari or tunic top and ethnic jewelry. The covers work effectively in attracting readers who are looking for something different in romance.

My latest novel, THE RELUCTANT MATCHMAKER, has a woman standing alone in contemplation, inside the arched entryway of an Indian temple. It suits the story—a vivid blend of contemporary Indian-American culture with an unconventional romance. When petite Meena finds herself irresistibly attracted to her strikingly tall boss, Prajay, a man who’s determined to find a statuesque bride to complement his remarkable height, how can Meena convince him that she is his perfect soul-mate? Is she willing to make some sacrifices to win his heart?

Leave a comment for a chance to win one autographed copy of THE RELUCTANT MATCHMAKER.

My book trailers and excerpts can be found at www.shobhanbantwal.com along with my contests, recipes, photos, and reviews. Visit me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ShobhanBantwal.author

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Digital publishing. Say that in the wrong place and you’ll be lucky to get out unscathed. Seems that the revolution in epubbing/self epubbing is ruffling some feathers. There are traditionally published writers who regard self-publisheds (even if they have had a long and productive career with legacy publishers) as wild-eyed idiots who are trying to put sub-standard books over on a naïve public. There are also self epubbed authors who regard those who even speak to a traditional publisher (let alone publish with them) as self-destructive fools.

I personally find the whole thing distasteful. I mean, haven’t we gone over  this same ground not too long ago with paper publishing and electronic publishing? And even before that, with hardback vs paperback? We’re all writers and we all have to make choices regarding our career. No one set of choices is correct for every writer. Period.

I hate choices, so I’ve done what all of us wiffle-waffle people do – I do it all. I’ve been traditionally published (paperback and hardback) since 1979; I’ve been e-published since 2004; and – (drum roll here, please!) I have just started self-publishing. (QUARTET: FOUR SLIGHTLY TWISTED TALES is now available and THE AVENGING MAID will be released in early June)

While those who know me find it wildly amusing that I, an avowed techno-naif, am doing something so computerish as self-publishing, they better not say anything derogatory about my choices. I keep fingers in all publishing pies for the same reason you should never put all your eggs in one basket. (Two food analogies in one sentence? I must be hungry.) I believe the publishing world is so varied right now – and so unstable, as well – that I want to cover my bases. I have books with a traditional publisher, with several e-publishers and then a couple of ebooks put out on my own.

Some people have made literal fortunes self-publishing their books. While it would be nice, I don’t aspire to such great heights. On the other hand, why should books I wrote decades ago just sit and moulder in obscurity? The original publishers, if they still even exist, aren’t going to do anything with them. If the worst thing happens when I self publish and I don’t have great sales, at least the books are out there. Whatever they make is going to be more than the nothing they would earn sitting in a file drawer somewhere.

Another thing I like about digital publishing is that there are far fewer boundaries. These days traditional publishing is all about pigeonholes. Any book has to fit into one of these ever-tightening categories to have a hope of being chosen. With epublishing – whether with an ehouse or on your own – there are no rules, other than those of structure and grammar and spelling. I believe the only rule is to write a good book. Period.

For example, if you want to write a 150,000 word multi-generational saga of western romance and interaction with space aliens with political overtones, good luck getting a traditional agent or editor to touch it. Cross-genre stuff, they say, doesn’t sell. Epublishers are much more forgiving about unusual manuscripts. If they don’t take it for whatever reason, you can always self-publish – but only after taking a really hard look at your story to see why two types of publisher turned it down.

Epublishing is a lot more forgiving on length, as well, since electrons are cheaper than paper. Epublishers are more likely to take risks than traditional paper publishers. Epublishing is not as restrictive as paper. For example, I write mystery, several flavors of romance, horror, children’s and non-fiction/scholarly works. Such variety would be difficult with paper publishers, as most want their writers to concentrate on whatever they think makes the most money for them.

To play Devil’s Advocate, though, paper publishers are – for the moment, at least – still the big kid on the block. People still go to brick-and-mortar stores for paper books. Distribution and book clubs get the stories out to people who don’t own ereaders, and yes, most people still don’t. I don’t think it will be that way for long, but right now it’s true.

It’s not often that someone can be in on the leading edge of something cosmic. I’m glad I’m traditionally published, but I’m also glad I’m in on the beginning of the erevolution. Having a foot in both camps can feel very secure.


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