Dreams Inspired Duty & Desire -- Author Anju Gattani Shares

Today's guest, Anju Gattani, is a woman of the world. A freelance journalist, she's lived in Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and different parts of America. I met her on the wonderful Yahoo group Authors of Asian Novels and instantly clicked because we are both from the Indian-subcontinent and we both love stories.

Her debut novel, Duty & Desire, is releasing tomorrow. WooHoo!

Check out her book blurb:

How Can Happiness Survive When Duty Clashes With Desire?

Sheetal Prasad has it all: youth, beauty, wealth, and education. But when this modern Indian woman surrenders love for honor and marries into India’s most glamorous “royal family,” those very advantages turn against her.

Meet the Dhanrajs—a powerful family bound together by a web of lies where infidelity, greed, secrets, and hidden identities lurk beneath the lush tapestry. The Dhanrajs will do whatever is necessary to mask the truth from the world.
As Sheetal peels back the layers of deceit in the glittering world of Indian mega- wealth—and struggles to control her own fate—she is threatened by the rage she harbors and the blazes of passion she ignites.

Thanks Anju for visiting with us and sharing what inspired you to write your story! Now, heeeeere's Anju:

The inspiration for the story – and I call it a story because I later learned I was writing a series – goes back to Nov 2001, shortly after we moved from Singapore to New Jersey, USA.  Our kids (both boys) were 6 & 2 then.  I was taking my cat nap one afternoon when I saw a scene from (what I thought was) a movie.  It was dynamic do or die situation and when I woke up I was holding my breath and gasping for air.  I realized it was a dream, not a movie, and I started researching on ‘writing the novel’. 

With my mom’s and husband’s encouragement I put pen to paper in Jan 2002 and the story started writing itself.  All I knew was I had to keep holding the pen and get to The End (the dream scene); I just didn’t know how.  Pounding out the original manuscript took 1.5 years.
The determination to keep going and not give up goes back to my characters.  They would haunt me in my dreams at night (not day dreams anymore!) if I seriously thought of abandoning the story.  In my dreams, I’ve talked to them, seen them and even read their minds – hmm… am I officially nuts now?  Their message was the same every time – “If you abandon us (characters), we die.  Then who will tell the world our story and our plight?”

As I rewrote, cut in two, and revised DUTY AND DESIRE (and the 2nd book in the series), I realized it wasn’t just one woman’s story… but possibly the stories, in bits and pieces, of women (and men) around the world.  Rewrites also made me realize the plights of my characters are universal... world-wide. And I often stop and wonder… Is that why Duty and Desire is a world-wide release?     
Oh btw…my kids are now 15 and 11 – uggh! I feel old again!  

Duty and Desire is currently available for preorder in trade paperback at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. 

Eformat: Kindle, Nook, Sony, Apple, PDF Acrobat Reader, and Kobo. 

Anju would love for readers to review the book on those sites and share it with others! If you want to learn more about Anju check out this wonderful article from the Milton Herald.

So anyone else inspired by dreams? Anyone know how to interpret dreams?

Thanksgiving & Literacy from One Writers Point of View

May your Thanksgiving tomorrow be happy, stress-free and full of wonderful moments shared with loved ones!
This year I’m thankful for my family, my friends and my readers. Writing is a bit like farming, in that you do your part without any guarantees. Just as a farmer ploughs, plants and weeds his fields but depends on the weather to reward him with a crop, a writer pours out her soul onto paper in the hopes her words will be read and enjoyed by other people. Sometimes it feels like I’m sending my words out into a vacuum.
When my debut novella, The Djinn's Dilemma, came out earlier this month I was decidedly nervous. Would anyone read my story? Did anyone even know I exist? The best part of being a published author has been receiving notes from my readers. Readers who not only took the time to read my story, but also to let me know what they thought. Thank you for letting me know my words are finding homes.
I'm also thankful for all the writers who wrote stories that comforted me when the chips were down or just helped me escape the daily grind. I remember laughing out loud as I read Three Singles to Adventure by Gerald Durell and how it helped me get over a highschool-heartbreak. And when my baby son --born 7 weeks early--spent 62 days in the hospital, I coped by reading The Time It Never Rained out loud to him. I didn't know if he'd make it or not, and I wanted to make sure I shared a damn good story with him.
So it saddens me to know there are many people in our world who will never know the comfort of a good book.
According to UNICEF, "Nearly a billion people will enter the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names and two thirds of them are women."
I'm thankful for my ability to read and my ability to do something about illiteracy. What are you thankful for? For each comment left between today and Nov. 27, 2011 I will donate $1 to UNICEF. All I ask in return is help spread the word. Thanks!

Author Allison Brennan Shares About Writing & Inspiration

Hi, y'all! Today's guest is Allison Brennan, the New York Times and USAToday bestselling author of seventeen romantic thrillers and numerous short stories, including the most recent IF I SHOULD DIE. I'm fortunate to know her through my Kiss of Death RWA chapter and have taken some wonderful classes with her. Allison is a generous spirit who willingly shares insights and advice from her years of experience, and encourages younger writers. Thanks Allison for joining us!

I’m often asked where I get my ideas. This question always surprises me. Where don’t I get my ideas?

Ideas are everywhere. They come from the smallest snippet of a conversation overheard at Starbucks, to the most widespread news story of the day. My stories are a compilation of many different sparks that ignite my muse as it weaves together the possibilities.

I see a man in line dressed in a suit with a briefcase. Is he going to work? A job interview? Did he pretend to go to work so his family wouldn’t know he’d lost his job? What’s in the briefcase? Maybe he’s a divorce lawyer. Or a prosecutor. A defense lawyer with evidence of his client’s innocence locked in the metal case.

Or perhaps he’s a desperate man. His daughter’s been kidnapped and inside the case is the ransom money. He’s not buying coffee, but leaving the case to be picked up. Or there’s a bomb in the case, and he doesn’t know it. Or he does know it, and he has a vendetta.

So many possibilities.

I read books and articles about the multitude of people who risk their lives for others, and I want to celebrate them and their sacrifice. I greatly admire those people who serve others, particularly when they are fighting for justice. This is why most of my heroes and heroines are in some branch of law enforcement, though I’ve also written about ex-military, P.I.’s, and even a few not in public safety.

I’m also inspired by survivors. Victims who defeat all the odds to reclaim and rebuild their lives. I want to know how, and by writing survivors into my stories, I can learn how strength of character, family, and community can help victims not be victims forever.

Every-day heroes inspire me.

I also want to know why. In real life, too often justice is not served. In fiction, I can tip the balance of the scales on the side of justice, that the bad guys will be caught, that victims will get the help they need, that people will be saved. While a lot of bad things happen in my books, and sometimes to good people, in the end, the villain always gets what’s coming to him. My hero and heroine always get their happily-ever-after. Families always get answers, even if the answers aren’t what they want. In the end, there is resolution and peace.

Some authors are inspired by people. Some by music, and still others by the beauty around them. Take a moment to write down ten people you admire and why. Music you listen to while you write. Places you visit that calm you, where maybe your best ideas come to you. Once, a quote I heard gave me just the snippet of an idea, and that idea became the backbone of each character’s backstory. That quote? “Life if the sum of all your choices” by Camus.

Look at the world around you. You can’t help but be inspired.

 You can visit her on the web at allisonbrennan.com, follow her on Twitter
@allison_brennan, or check her out on facebook.

Tomorrow book three of her Lucy Kincaid series goes on sale! Check out the cool cover:

Allison is giving away a signed copy of the first book in the series, LOVE ME TO DEATH.  To win leave a comment about what inspires you + your email (for contact)!
 Good luck :D

Six Sentence Sunday #2: Sneak-Peek from The Djinn's Dilemma

I'm still riding the high of having my debut paranormal erotic romance published earlier this month, so here's another tasty tidbit from The Djinn's Dilemma:

Setup: This is second time the heroine, Sarah, encounters the hero, Rukh. She's helping out at a friend's bakery & cafe during the morning rush hour because a waitress called in sick.

Enjoy the excerpt:

She jotted down the order, then forced herself to meet his gaze. The next words rushed out of her. "And breakfast’s on me."

"Normally I wouldn’t protest," he said, leaning closer. "But in public, I’d prefer a plate."

An image of Rukh, hair untied, licking whipped cream off her navel flashed through her mind, left her staring.

Thanks for visiting! I look forward to your comments :) And don't forget to checkout the other fun 6SentenceSunday entries!

Winner Announcement!

We have winners for my Readers Appreciation giveaway...WooHoo!

Laurie G.

Michelle M.

Belinda R.

Emma D.

I'll be in contact about your prizes! Thanks for buying and reading The Djinn's Dilemma :)

Red Hot Smokin' Fiction & Seafood Soup

Woot! Today is a special #Letslunch date because all my #Letslunch twitter buddies are helping me celebrate my fiction debut and the release of my paranormal romance novella, THE DJINN’S DILEMMA, by Harlequin by coming with recipes and blog posts that somehow involve Seduction…. Mmmm. :D

So, how does a newspaper girl, a foodie writer, end up writing romance?

The simple answer is: for the fun factor. When I was covering business and City government, I used to write food stories for a fun break from the serious stuff. Now my day job is food writing and while I enjoy it, I wanted to write something for the pure fun of it. Ta-da! Romance.  J
But a more complete answer would be: I write romances because I believe in happy endings.  I believe strong, intelligent, complex women can find men who are worthy of them, who love them without trying to change them.  And while I believe in happy endings, I also believe they must be earned like anything worthwhile in life. Most of all, I believe true love can overcome everything else life throws at us.
No it’s not an idealistic, fairy-tale view, I have actually seen it play out. Both my parents and my in-laws have been married 50-plus years and not all of them have been all fun and sunshine, but the love has always been there.  I want the same timeless romance in my life, and in the life of my heroes and heroines.
So for #Letslunch, I tried to pick a dish Sarah Jasmine White, the heroine of The Djinn’s Dilemma, would make for the hero, Rukh. Now, she likes things hot and sexy, but is also she is also loyal and nurturing when it comes to people she loves.

She’d go with this red hot smoky soup full of flavor and good-for-you ingredients, like salmon, tomatoes, bell peppers, avocado and more.
Its rich broth is complex gains complexity with a base of crab and spices like fennel, cumin, turmeric and Spanish smoked paprika. She’d let it simmer on the stove, light some candles and put on some smooth jazz.
And what would Rukh give her? Dark chocolate kisses, of course! :) And no I don't mean the kind Hershey makes....
Recipe (inspired by a Smoky Salmon Chowder recipe from BHG):
3 4-oz skinless salmon fillets
2 teaspoon chili powder, divided
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika, divided
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon of salt and pepper
2 medium red sweet peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 medium poblano pepper, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 jalapeno pepper, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 medium sweet onion, cut in ½-inch slices
1 head of garlic – cut off top 1/3, place on a foil square, drizzle with olive oil and fold up into a foil packet for roasting.
For the Soup:
2 tablespoons butter or oil
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon of cumin seeds
2 large Bay leaves
Six green onions, white parts only, minced (reserve the tops)
½ teaspoon turmeric
Reserved chili powder and smoked paprika
1 medium Blue Crab (optional)
32-ounce box low sodium chicken broth
1 14.05-ouncecan fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 14.05-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained
2 large roma tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion tops (the green part)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnish: sliced avocados, chunks of salmon
1.       Pat dry Salmon fillet with paper towels. Sprinkle with spices on both sides. Cover and refrigerate while you work with vegetables.
2.       Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place peppers and onions on a foil-covered baking sheet. Place the foil-wrapped garlic on one side. Roast for 20 minutes.  When done, turn off the oven and let the veggies stay inside for another 15 minutes.
3.       Place salmon in a shallow greased/sprayed baking dish, fold under the thin edges. Bake at 400 degrees (about 4 to 6 minutes per ½-inch thickness) until salmon is done and flakes easily when tested with a fork. Keep warm.
4.       Meanwhile, remove the skins from the peppers, squeeze out the garlic from their peels, and chop up all the roasted veggies coarsely.
5.       Heat butter in the pan, add whole spices and minced green onion (white part), the crab and other spices. Cook for about 2 minutes.
6.       Add the roasted veggies and cook for additional 2 minutes. Add broth and undrained fire-roasted tomatoes and bring to a boil.
7.       Add corn and lower heat. Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
8.       Add fresh tomatoes and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
9.       Fold in chopped fresh herbs and lemon juice.
10.   Serve over white rice in shallow bowls. After ladling out the soup, break salmon into pieces and divide among the bowls. Garnish with avocado slices and additional greens.

#Letslunch brings together a diverse group of food-loving bloggers from around the world for lunch once a month. Check out the other seductive reads and eats :
Joe Yonan, the Food & Travel Editor at the Washington Post, shares A Stew for Seduction, a Lol account of his past and current seduction through food experience.
Leighnannini's Seduce Me Donuts & heartwarming lovestory :)
Spicebox Travels shows you how to get your man with an adventurous spirit & recipe

Author CJ Lyons Is Inspired By Everyday Heroes

New York Times bestselling author CJ Lyons has lived the life of a pediatric ER doctor and creates many of the medical worlds of her thrillers with authenticity and heart.

CJ has been called a "master within the genre" (Pittsburgh Magazine) and her work has been praised as "breathtakingly fast-paced" and "riveting" (Publishers Weekly) with "characters with beating hearts and three dimensions" (Newsday). I learned the importance of character-driven stories and how to take my writing to the next level thanks to her.

Back in early 2010 I was an unpublished author and thinking of giving up my dream. CJ's Master Class was the last hurrah...and then she shared her experience, encouragement and craft. Without her, I would never have written THE DJINN'S DILEMMA and been published. She helped me believe in myself again amd reclaim my dream. So, without further ado, let me present my personal writing hero CJ :) 

What inspires my writing?

When I was a kid, it was my own need to learn how to become a hero, someone strong enough to change the world for the better.

After my pediatric internship when one of my fellow interns was brutally murdered, writing became my way to understand my grief and control the chaos around me. That's when I wrote my first thriller, BORROWED TIME, and I dedicated it to Jeff's memory.

(FACE TO FACE, her most recent release, came out Nov. 7!)

Much of my fiction since then has been inspired by my patients and their families. Ordinary people facing tragedy with courage and grace, proving that heroes are indeed born everyday.

I still search for order in the chaos--after practicing pediatric emergency medicine and pediatrics for seventeen years, that will never change. But now, after having sold hundreds of thousands of books and receiving fan letters from all over the world, I have another inspiration: my readers.

Discovering that I had the power to connect with people I'd never met, to inspire as well as entertain--that felt almost as good as saving lives in the ER! 

I treasure each fan letter as much as the very first one.  There have been people facing the pain of chronic illnesses who have been able to make it through the night because of my books.  Fellow medical personnel, EMS, firefighters, and police officers have written, thanking me for the way I "tell it like it really is."  And readers who simply needed an escape from their lives have found refuge in my words.

Honestly, no matter how much money or which bestseller lists I hit, I can't imagine any feeling as wonderful as the feeling I get when I hear from readers who have fallen in love with my books.  It's an adrenalin rush that fuels my writing and inspires me everyday!


Woot! Thanks CJ for visiting with us and reminding us courage, love, and heroic acts are a part of everyday life. We just have to be aware of the world around us to find inspiration. Do you have an everyday hero? How has this person touched your life?

If you want to know more about CJ or her Thrillers with Heart check out her website. FACE TO FACE is the third book in her gripping Hart & Drake Series. The first book, NERVES OF STEEL, is on sale right now for 99 cents. Go check her books out!

Cynthia Eden Finds Inspiration in Many Places & Forms

Woot!  I have a special treat for you.  One of my favorite paranormal romance authors, Cynthia Eden, is here to share what inspires her & she is giving away a copy of her upcoming release ANGEL OF DARKNESS.  Cynthia writes sexy, intelligent and fast-paced stories with droolworthy heroes.  If you haven't read her Midnight series, get reading!  But first read this post :)

Hi, everyone! (And a big thanks to Mina for inviting me over!)

Today’s post is all about inspiration.  I’ve found, as a writer, that I can be inspired by just about anything. Songs, movies, scary sounds in the dark—I feel like my muse is always perching close by, waiting for something to strike a spark. 

And I’ve discovered that people can really inspire me, too.  When I was in college, I had an assignment for a non-verbal communication experiment. I was supposed to go to a crowded area (like a mall or a movie theater) and just watch people. After a while, I was supposed to write down the non-verbal communication techniques that I observed.  It was fascinating to see people display all sorts of feelings and emotions (anger, excitement, happiness, sadness) all without ever hearing a word that they said.

Since that experiment, I’ve learned to keep watching for those non-verbal cues (and I use them a lot in my books).  So when I see a girl with her hands clenched, marching rapidly away from her friends, I wonder…what stirred her anger? What’s her story? And my mind starts to plot and plan.

Of course, inspiration isn’t just something that strikes in the writing area. I think people are inspired in all aspects of life. For me, I get inspired on a personal level when I go star gazing with my son or when I take him to the beach and we play pirates.  Simple things like sunsets can inspire me and make me feel rejuvenated. Falling leaves make me smile. So do snowflakes—but down in Alabama, we don’t see those too often!

So those are a few things that inspire me…but what inspires you?  Share with me, and one commenter can an early copy of my upcoming release, ANGEL OF DARKNESS (Available 11/29/11) from Kensington Brava.

Have a great day! I hope you get inspired!


Cynthia Eden

ANGEL OF DARKNESS—Available 11/29/11 from Kensington Brava

When an angel falls, all hell breaks loose…

The Djinn's Dilemma Release Day Celebrations

I'm celebrating the release of my debut paranormal romance THE DJINN'S DILEMMA from Harlequin today and would love for you to join in the fun :)

Cynthia Eden,amazing author of sexy, intelligent paranormals, is hosting me on her blog. If you like a spooky tale & a chance to win my book, come visit Cynthia's Blog.

Also, Harlequin is giving a 10 percent discount to celebrate the release! Check it out!

And personally I wanted to thank my readers for their support...so here's another giveaway!

Have a wonderful day :)

Happy Release Day of The Djinn's Dilemma & Thanks

WooHoo! Today is the release day of my paranormal romance debut THE DJINN'S DILEMMA. So thrilled to bring you sexy djinns/genies, big, bad assassins, and a feisty & fun heroine. I hope anyone buying the book enjoys the read :)

As a thank you to all my wonderful readers who have pre-ordered, are ordering today or sometime in the first week of November, I'm doing a giveaway!

Prizes up for grabs include:

A big box of San Angelo's special Cowboy chocolates from Sugar Daddy Desserts.

2 Massage Gift Certificates (you have to be in San Angelo to win these!)

A $15 Gift Certificate to Amazon.com

5 copies of a collection of my favorite muffin recipes :) (Because I'm a foodwriter, a pretty good cook & a muffin guest stars in The Djinn's Dilemma).

All you have to do is submit your receipt to me at rashda@rashdakhan.com (any format is fine, including scans and screenshots). Winners will be chosen in a random drawing and announced Wednesday, Nov. 16!

Appreciate y'all!

The Djinn's Dilemma is now available at retailers like Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or Harlequin. :)