Sunday, 5 February 2023

The CreativeLife in review - planning, time management, and the creative life

 Hey there, creative friend!

It's been a week or more since my last post but mostly because I have been taking time to do other things. Work was a bit slow, but that will change tomorrow. More on that a bit later. I have not been working, or making art - what I have been doing is reading. Not only books on my to-read list, but also a few of my own unfinished manuscripts. I do that for the simple reason to find inspiration to work on my current novel-in-process. I feel a bit stuck.

I know the next major scene involves a kidnapping, but what is bugging my creative brain is making that happen in a way that will actually work. It is one thing to kidnap someone, but making it happen in a story is a different matter altogether. The solution has not yet presented itself, so in the meantime, I found an interesting book well worth reading until my creative brain cells figure out what I need to write.

The book is called Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman. It is an interesting take on time management. I have only progressed about 25% into the text, but I am enjoying learning a few things.

ink and watercolour painting of an Irish castle
Ballysaggartmore towers ink and wash

Back to the work thing. Tomorrow I have to start testing several industrial pieces of equipment coming in to the lab one after the other. This type of equipment is a huge challenge (which I thoroughly enjoy, mind you) but they also take a lot longer to test than the multi-media and high-tech equipment that we normally test.

I am not anticipating problems, but I feel that it is important to be prepared for the feeling of being overwhelmed which will invariably happen along the way. If you have been reading my musings for a while, you will know that I have a game plan in place for when that happens. This time around, I think that perhaps an adjustment to the game plan might be in order to anticipate the situation and work with it before the feeling hits me head-on. Because once I feel overwhelmed it can often be difficult to recognise the feeling and then sit down to work on resolving it. And this book might be helpful for that. It is too early to tell, but I have a feeling that using the 12 Weeks Year planning I am implementing this year, along with Four Thousand Weeks, I might be able to live a productive and creative life in 2023 without pushing myself too hard.

I do have an ambitious list of goals for sure, but what I have put in place with that list is to prioritise those goals. It does not only help me figure out where to put my time when things get busy at the lab, but it will also help me focus on the things that I feel are a higher priority.

Prioritising goals might seem weird, but I love what I do in my work life and my creative endeavours, so it is a win-win situation as long as I remember to take care of my health and well-being too.

One of my creative goals this year is to work on improving my skills with oil pastels and oil paint. Oil pastels have always been a difficult medium for me, but I am finding it more fun the more I use them to create drawings. In the Artkula group, there are two challenges every month, and I find doing at least one of them with oil pastels to be an enjoyable way to improve my skills.

Oil painting remains difficult. My sketchbooks do not lend themselves to oil painting, so I purchased a sketchbook purposely designed for oil painting. Since I am still a pure novice with oil paint, it takes time for me to do an oil painting. To this effect, I have done an outline of a self-portrait during the past week on this new paper. I finally made my own Mahl stick, set the pad on one of my easels, and I am ready to start painting.

There are a few things on the to-do list this week that needs to be done for the solar power installation in our home, but if that happens quickly then I will have a bit of time to start work on the portrait, otherwise, it will be early next week. Am I worried about the potential delay? To be honest, I was worried, but I decided to let things happen as they should, then there will be less pressure on myself to do stuff. Since I am prepared to start the painting, it won't be such an issue if there is time available earlier than anticipated.

Organising my studio remains a thorn in my side. I found a small bookshelf at a really reasonable price that will help to organise one area in my studio that has been annoying me to no end. I ordered two of them. That corner in my studio is used to store items I use for journaling and mixed media, so if they are better organised, it will be easier to find what I need when I want it. I will post a few before and after pics when I got that done.

An exciting week ahead for me, and I wish you a creative week with time for loads of fun time too!

Until next time!

💜🇿🇦 Linzé

Sunday, 15 January 2023

The CreativeLife week 1 and 2 - planning my CreativeLife

 Already halfway through January and it was barely yesterday when we started the new year.

Hello creative friend! I trust your 2023 is off to a creative start and that all your creative hours this year will be satisfying and fun!

I am sure like me you have already set your goals for the year and cannot wait to work on them. Did you remember to plan time to rest and time to rellect? I had to remind myself to do that too and deliberately spent the past week focusing on that even though I did do some work too.

The lab is back to work already, but I will only get stuck in this coming week. We have big industrial pieces of equipment coming in for testing and I will probably start on those within the next month. They require more time and energy so it will be a busy time for the safety section for the upcoming three to four months.

My creative goals for this year include the publication of three more books. Two shorter stories, and then the 6th novel in my Nations of Peace series. The book is entitled, Prime Prey, which is the first of the Protector sub-series.

The shorter stories are almost ready for professional editing, and I have already spoken to my friend Vanessa Wright, who is the editor of an award winning children's book. Well done, my friend! You are an awesome editor and soon children in many schools in South Africa will know your name too.

Portrait of a lady in Panpastel
and coloured pencil

Vanessa has edited multiple of my books in the past, so it will be yet another great year to work with her again. More details on release dates in future posts, so keep an eye out!

Goals for my 2023 artistic journey will be a bit different than the past few years. For one, I am not going to take part in Inktober52. The prompts were becoming less inspiring and frustrating. I will say however, that taking part has siginificantly contributed to my drawing skills. Inktober in October? Will see when the time comes.

Since joining the ArtKula community I have been more inclined to rather take part in their monthly challenges, so those will be my focus for this year. I have laso decided to focus more on the oil mediums (oil pastels and oil paint) this year to work on improving my skills in using these mediums. I also plan to continue my study of my favourite artist's work, Wassily Kandinsky. I have a book, but my study will include copying more of his work so that I can learn more about abstract work.

Our art group is already actively busy with our projects this year, starting with experimenting with expressive abstracts (in sketchbooks for now), and a large fantasy style acrylic painting. This coming week we will start work on an ink and watercolour painting of an Irish castle. Definitely a challenge because of all the details. But we need to challenge ourselves as artists too, otherwise how are we going to improve our skills while having fun?

While all these projects may sound like a lot, and they are, I have decided to include one session per month in my creative planning to just do anything I am in the mood for. The group will have the same choice: do something other than a group project, catch up on a project, or just relax. Our Lifebook project will be an excellent choice for this free time. It is our third year doing a Lifebook, and for me it has been worth it on so many levels. My journal is for writing, but my Lifebook has the added element of art with little to no writing, but it is still a record of me and my life, only expressed in a more visual way.

This post is already taking up a lot of your time. Thank you for reading and let me know in the comments what your creative goals are for 2023.

Until next time!

💜🇿🇦 Linzé

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Friday, 30 December 2022

BOOK FEATURE: TRINOYONI: The Slaughterer of Sonagachi by Moitrayee Bhaduri



‘Someone is stalking the streets of Sonagachi.’
It’s the 1870s, and Calcutta is bustling with commerce and colonialism. A sea of changes has been ushered in by the relatively new British Raj, which has led to migrants from all over India filling up the city with their hopes and dreams.
Amongst these struggling masses is a serial killer on the prowl. Corpses of sex-workers start turning up at ponds and in the by-lanes of Sonagachi, Calcutta’s famed pleasure district, choked to death and stripped of all their ornaments. Fear has gripped the city and the nascent police department seems to be chasing shadows.
This is the story of Trinoyoni Debi: a sensuous seductress with a silver tongue and a love for all things shiny. But behind those eager eyes lurks a savagery that has made Trinoyoni the stuff of legends. How could such a breath-taking beauty be so terrifying? How many more will she kill before she is satiated? And is there anyone who can stop her? Follow her life as she transforms from a child widow to a famed courtesan and merciless murderer, becoming India’s first-ever serial killer.

Book Links:
Goodreads | Amazon.in | Amazon.com

Read an Excerpt from Trinoyoni

Early Life

On a scorching summer noon in 1853, a tired Priyogopal Sanyal entered Purnendu Shekhar Chattopadhyay’s house, wearing an irritated look. The 50-year-old Sanyal had travelled a long distance and could barely sit straight. His drowsy eyes and half-broken walking stick made him look much older than his age. He was chewing on a betel leaf and behaving rudely with his hosts. 

People crowded around the house, inquisitive to learn about the man who would be marrying the prettiest girl in the village. Trina managed to catch a glimpse of the man and felt disgusted. She was appalled and couldn’t understand why God had chosen this tragic destiny for her.

‘Jamai babu was bedridden for two years because of a life-threatening disease,’ Trina overheard her neighbour saying.

‘Even in his bedridden state, he married four girls and rescued them,’ Priyogopal Sanyal’s friend, who had accompanied him, informed Purnendu.

With folded hands and a lowered head, Purnendu Chattopadhyay said, ‘Our daughter is very sensible and compromising. She excels at all household chores. She will not give you any reason to complain. I am grateful to Sanyal babu for rescuing her and agreeing to marry her.’ 

Tears trickled down Trina’s eyes as she saw her father begging Sanyal. 

‘Priyo babu has rescued ten other girls too. But your daughter is much older than his other wives,’ Sanyal’s friend remarked scornfully. 

Purnendu looked at the groom apologetically and pleaded, ‘I am an unfortunate father, burdened with the liability of an unmarried daughter. But as a Kulin Brahmin, I couldn’t commit a sin by marrying her off to a non-Kulin gentleman! Please forgive me.’ 

Priyogopal Sanyal looked at Purnendu and nodded dismissively. 

Sanyal’s friend added, ‘Priyo babu will accept the dowry and marry your daughter tomorrow. He will leave for East Bengal soon after to see his newborn son. Your daughter can continue living with you for now. You can complete the remaining rituals during his next visit.’ 

Purnendu nodded with folded hands and said, ‘We are truly blessed to have found him.’ 

About the Author:

Moitrayee Bhaduri is an author, screenwriter, and content specialist. Her first book, The Sinister Silence (Srishti Publishers, 2015), is an edge-of-the-seat murder mystery that introduced the feisty private detective Mili Ray. Her second book Who Killed the Murderer? (TreeShade Books, 2019) is a fast-paced psychological thriller that revolves around the murder of a TV actress in a beauty parlour.

Moitrayee also writes screenplays for TV and freelances with IT firms as a content consultant. Before switching to a full-time writing career, she worked with organizations like IBM, Deloitte, and Oracle, among others, in various writing and people-managerial roles, for 15 years. An alumna of Loreto College and Jadavpur University, Moitrayee also has a certificate in Creative Writing from the University of Oxford.

Moitrayee enjoys conducting writing workshops for children and adults, encouraging them to cultivate a habit of reading. She is passionate about music, enjoys reviewing books and films, and loves dogs. Currently, she lives in Kolkata.



Contact the Author:
Blog * Facebook *  Twitter * Instagram * Goodreads 



Monday, 26 December 2022

BOOK FEATURE: Wrong by Shilpa Suraj


One wrong choice on the eve of her wedding has left Ananya married to one brother and in love with THE OTHER…

Ananya Saxena is the good girl who has always done the right thing. She is a dutiful wife, faithful daughter-in-law, fierce champion of the law. Except, in her heart was another phrase—reckless lover. An impossible choice for a good Indian girl. Duty had Ananya marry her best friend only to end up with a bitter, vengeful husband. Arvin Saxena is now a cripple, both physically and emotionally, after his wife’s confession the day before they were to be married. So, Arvin’s never-ending pain finds release only in hurting her. What he doesn’t know is that her secret sin was loving Arnav Saxena.

Arnav turned his back on all of them when she discarded him and married his younger brother.
When he is forced to return, it sets Ananya on a collision course with fate and she chooses desire over duty to embark on an affair with Arnav. For a brief glorious time, they have it all.

But soon, Ananya is faced with yet another life-changing decision when adultery, bankruptcy and a web of lies bring her to a crossroads. The dutiful wife or the defiant lover... who does she choose to be? And does she really even have a choice?

Book Links:
Goodreads | Amazon.in | Amazon.com

Read an Excerpt from Wrong

There was a special place in hell for men who were in love with another man’s wife. Arnav contemplated the fifteen-year-old scotch in the crystal glass in front of him. It helped fan the flames of the hellfire in his gut. It didn’t stop his gaze from being drawn to the back of her dress. The outfit shimmered like silver smoke over her lithe body. He could see her husband’s hand resting possessively on her exposed back, a thumb gently gliding over her creamy, unblemished skin.

He clenched his glass and gulped down almost half of its contents, savouring the burning trail it left inside him. It did nothing for the guilt that was his constant companion, but it numbed the pain that clawed through him, be it only for a moment.

She laughed. It was a tinkling burst of sound that cut through the quiet murmur of the sophisticated, high society crowd that had gathered for the charity event. A few tendrils of her hair escaped the complicated hairdo her glorious waist-length mane was caught up in and flirted with the nape of her neck.

Cursing, he pushed back from the table. He needed a smoke and he didn’t care if the world thought it was rude of him to walk out right now. As he made his way through the throng, a part of him registered the way she leaned against her husband and murmured something into his ear. Turning towards her, he gave her an indulgent smile that spoke volumes about their relationship.

Oh yes, there was a special place in hell for men who loved another man’s wife. He breathed, crawled and existed in that abyss, for he didn’t just love another man’s wife, he loved his brother’s wife. Amidst the scum that grew in the filthy gutter of the deepest, darkest bowels of hell, he was the slime you scraped off the bottom of your shoe. He lived and breathed guilt, remorse and gut-searing pain. She was his friend, his passion, his endless torment, his curse. And yet, he loved her.

About the Author:


Shilpa Suraj wears many hats - corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.

An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.


Contact the Author:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Newsletter


Tuesday, 20 December 2022

BOOK FEATURE: Bad Girl Gone Good by Alisha Kay

 


When Aisha Rajput, the queen of raves and celebrity after-parties, is asked to plan a hospital fundraiser, she's convinced the sun finally rose from the west. And yet, she is determined to blow this brief out of the water for it is her one chance at redemption.

Seven years ago, she shattered Dr Kabir Pradhan's heart with a deliberate, conscious act of betrayal. The least she can do to make up for it is to save his hospital.

Aisha is the woman who loved him and broke him. The last thing Kabir needs is for her to do it all over again with his hospital. He doesn't want her, he doesn't need her, and he certainly won't tolerate her. Or so he tells himself.

When the hospital board leaves them with no choice but to work together, the stage is set for fireworks.

When the heartache of the past collides with the irresistible desire of the present, the future looks to be in jeopardy. Unless the Bad Girl goes Good and saves the day.
But can she?
And does Kabir even want her to, for like it or not, his heart has always belonged to the Bad Girl, hasn't it?



Read an Excerpt from Bad Girl Gone Good


KABIR

The Rajmata of Bannor looked positively hunted as she stared at me.
“She said she’s on her way, beta. I’m sure she will be here soon.”
My brow creased in confusion.
“Who is on her way? I thought we were meeting to discuss how to raise money for the new NICU.”
“We are! But you can’t raise funds without a proper fundraiser. And if anyone can organise a superhit, blockbuster event for you, it is she,” declared Her Highness.
What was the old lady smoking? We weren’t a Bollywood production house. Usha Kiran was a hospital with a reputation for quality healthcare. The manic gleam in her eyes made me very nervous, especially when she started throwing around words like superhit and blockbuster.
“She?” I asked carefully.
“Kabir, you can’t pull off such a big event all by yourself. You need an event manager.”
No. What I needed was for these old farts to get their heads out of their asses and come up with a plan to counter Her Highness’s schemes.
“Your Highness, we’re trying to collect funds, and I’m not sure how blowing up a huge chunk of money on a grand party is going to help us do that.”
The other members of the board nodded in agreement. The very thought of wasting money on a fundraiser made them turn ashen.
She shook her head in disappointment.
“Beta, sometimes you have to spend money to earn more.”
“Well, we don’t have much, to begin with, and I don’t think I can authorise such an expense when I could use the money to buy new ventilators,” I said apologetically.
I knew she meant well, but she needed a dose of reality. There was nothing glamorous about what we were trying to do here. We needed state-of-the-art incubators, ventilators with CPAP machines, as well as a well-trained NICU staff, all of which cost money.
“What if the board doesn’t have to spend a single penny? I will donate the money you need to organise the event,” she replied craftily.
“With due respect, Your Highness, why would you do that?"
She banged on the floor with the end of her walking stick.
“Because it is time to try something new. The world is full of people who have more money than they can spend in this lifetime. And some of them are even willing to share that wealth. You just need to know how to approach them. As for the ones that don’t want to part with their wealth, you need to know exactly how to lure and skin them,” said Her Highness, with relish.
Were we still talking about raising money? I had a feeling there was a ruthless serial killer lurking under that silk-clad grandmotherly exterior. I sighed as I resigned myself to an uncomfortable meeting with the event manager. But I would hear her out before I showed her the door. It was the least I could do.
I looked at my watch pointedly and nodded.
“Fine. Let’s see what this wizard of yours has in mind.”
There was a sharp knock at the door, and it swung open.
“I hope I’m not too old for one of your lollipops, Doctor Uncle,” called a voice that I hadn’t heard for years.
And yet, it hit me with the same force as it had seven years ago.
Her Highness rose to welcome her, but I stayed frozen in my seat, unable to do anything but stare at that familiar face. Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! What the fuck was Aisha Rajput doing here?
She walked into the room and greeted Her Highness with a warm hug.
“Now, where’s my favourite man?” she cooed, pulling away from the Rajmata of Bannor.
I clenched my jaw and stood up slowly to my full height as she turned towards me. When she spotted me, she swayed in place as if she had been dealt a body blow. I shot her a frosty smile that made her turn pale.
“Well, if it isn’t the OG Bad Girl,” I drawled.”


About the Author:
Alisha Kay writes funny, exciting and steamy stories, with spunky heroines who can rescue themselves, and hot, woke heroes who find such independence irresistible.
The first book in The Devgarh Royals series, The Maharaja’s Fake Fiancée, won the grand prize at the Amazon KDP Pen to Publish Contest 2020.

Alisha on the Web:
Instagram * Twitter 





Saturday, 17 December 2022

BOOK FEATURE: Love Bait by Varun Pancholi

 

Pranay Oza is excited about his life’s new phase - COLLEGE. And soon enough, life offers him much more than he imagined. Falling in love with a college senior and the love being reciprocated through anonymous love notes was like a dreamy sequence from a romantic movie come true.

But then was this love or bait?

It is college election time too and stakes are high for all the aspirants for the President’s post. It is the last chance for all of them to prove themselves capable of moving into professional politics.

But can a fresher Pranay Oza be critical to the elections?

At this age, decisions are driven by passion and consequences can be life changing.



Book Links:
Amazon.in | Amazon.com

Read an Excerpt from Love Bait

Prologue

It was four minutes to midnight. Pranay climbed up the wall with the support of the tree trunk and took a pause to look around. There was no one to be seen, it was all silent and so he jumped on the other side as quietly as he could. He steadied himself and looked around again. Finding no sign of any movement, he quickly rushed towards the narrow pathway leading to the stairs, the one he had seen Amrita take the other night.

He quietly started climbing up the stairs. For once, he was happy the hostels rarely replaced a fused bulb on the stairways. It was not a dark night and the half-moon brightened the stairs enough for a cautious climb. His heart was racing fast, not knowing what to expect. He wanted to be quick but silent. “Why am I here? What do I want? Well, it’s a bit too late to think about it now.” But he firmly believed he was expected to be here at this hour.

As he reached the foyer, half way up to the first floor, he heard a creak. He froze in fear and almost stopped breathing to maintain absolute silence. The creak sounded like a door or window closed or maybe opened. He waited and tried to listen hard. But it was all very quiet apart from his drumming heart and his soft breath. The music from the common room remained faint. He concluded it should be one of the windows moving due to the wind.

He climbed up further and reached another small foyer.

There are two doors now, one to his left and one to his right. “It should be the one on the left,” he thought. It was a guess based on what he had seen the other night. He looked for room number but there was none, neither on the other door.

‘Left it is’ he decided. He took a deep breath and steadied himself. Still not sure what to expect, he took a step forward to lightly knock on the door. But as his knuckle touched the door for the first tap, the door creaked.

The door was open. Indeed! He was expected! His breath was still shallow, his anxiety level still high and his heart still pounding. He slowly pushed the door open. It was dark inside and his eyes took a few moments to adjust. The window on the wall to his right was open, the curtains were drawn and the moonlight was filtering in from the borders. There was another glass window on the opposite wall the room which was closed. The light coming in from this window was just enough to create an outline of the bed underneath. It seemed there was no one on the bed. The rest of the room was dark.

He took a step into the room and straightened himself up.

The room was eerily quiet and he could not see Amrita around. Was she shy and hiding from him? On second thoughts he wondered ‘Am I even in the correct room?’



About the author

Varun holds a Bachelors degree in Engineering from MS university, Baroda. Additionally, he holds double Masters in Business from Symbiosis, Pune and HEC Paris.

After working in India & France, Varun currently lives in Bahrain with his wife and two daughters. He loves reading and this is his first rendezvous with writing.






Sunday, 4 December 2022

The CreativeLife - weeks 46, 47, and 48 in review

Hello creative friend,

 I need to drink a lot of water because of the diuretic effect of some prescription meds. So on Tuesday I left my home office to refill my water, when I stepped into poop. Yup, right in front of my office. Inside my house. At first I thought there is a gecko running around, because they sometimes sneak in. I don't mind them, they are cute, but they are quiet. And the noise I was hearing told me it wasn't a gecko.

Following the sound, I found a bird in the area where I have the laundry on drying racks. And a lot of bird poop on the floor. And a frightened bird. It was a pied starling. It was either chased by one of the dogs into the house, I leave the backdoor open when I am at home during the day, or it flew in because it was curious. Either way, I had a scared bird on my hands and clean laundry which I was not in the mood to wash again.

Since there was only one exit, I had to get it back into the kitchen but it was not cooperating. Instead it flew into the living room making me cringe at the though of bird poop on the couches.

A bit of thought went into coming up with a solution. I closed the beaded curtain hanging in the passage to my office so it couldn't fly that way. I know it is a bit boho to have a beaded curtain, it usually serves another purpose, but it kept a bird where I could try and redirect it outside.

Inktober52 Prompt #45

It flew everywhere, pooped again, and thank goodness only the floors, except a spot on a curtain but I wasn't too boothered about that. Then I got an idea. Since it was avoiding the kitchen, I think the dogs were scaring it, I had to open the patio door. This door is difficult to open, but I managed.

Back to the bird. It saw the new bright light and flew right at it. I was holding my breath when it landed on a drying rack - with Hubs' work pants. Then it landed in a gap of the security gate. And flew away. Yay! No bird was injured in the process, but my mood was sour for sure. I have so much work to do, and now I had to wash the floors.

Oh well, it all turned out all right in the end, and the house had clean floors too.

I might have mentioned that I had decided to not keep up with the Inktober52 prompts during November to focus on NaNoWriMo. The idea was to catch up in December, and I did. Four drawings in two days - not too bad I think. Since I am up to date with the challenge, I can relax because I really don't like falling behind on challenges.

The priority is now to get all the work done before the lab closes for the holidays. While our group art sessions continue on Thursday evenings, I will not have time for anything creative for a while. I don't mind because the thought of the break, is really motivating despite year-end exhaustion.

I have also been contemplating my blog for next year. No major changes, just a few thoughts that may or may not be used.

Thank you if you had bought a copy of my latest novel, I really appreciate it. If you haven't grabbed yourself a copy yet, there is still a few days left. The rest of the series will be in the Smashwords end-of-year sale at 50% off from 15 December if you want to grab yourself a few more books to read this holiday season.

Thank you for reading, and I will chat again soon!

💜🇿🇦 Linzé



The CreativeLife in review - planning, time management, and the creative life

  Hey there, creative friend! It's been a week or more since my last post but mostly because I have been taking time to do other things....