Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Heritage and my Writing By Shobhan Bantwal

I was born and raised in a large, conservative Hindu family in a small town called Belgaum in Southwestern India. I was the black sheep of the family, the only tomboy and hellion in a family of five girls. My four sisters were angels—good little Brahmin girls with the perfect mix of academic achievement, modesty and deportment. Needless to say, I single-handedly gave my parents every gray hair they possessed, but they were wonderful parents and to a large degree I owe everything I am today to them. The most valuable things they gave me were an outstanding education and the love of reading.

An arranged marriage to a man who happened to live in the U.S. brought me to New Jersey several years ago.

My Indian heritage became the natural basis for my writing. As an Indian-American woman, I straddle two distinctly different cultures, both equally rich, both with their share of woes and quirks, yet both equally intriguing.

When I started to write, I decided to base my first story in India, and use my hometown as the backdrop. I gave it a fictitious name so as not to offend its denizens, but I had a perfect town with all its gossip and conservatism and color and sharp contrasts to draw upon for my stories. My characters are not based on any real people, but I could easily picture them living in my hometown, doing the things I did when I was growing. Even the convent, which my protagonist in my second book uses as a safe haven, is fashioned after the parochial school I attended as a young girl.

THE DOWRY BRIDE, my first book, was released by Kensington Publishing in September 2007. THE FORBIDDEN DAUGHTER, released in September 2008, is my second book and the one I am touring to promote at the moment. Information about my books and other writing is available on my website:

For more information about Shobhan Bantwal’s virtual tour, visit –

The Forbidden Daughter can be ordered at:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Lillian Brummet - Before She Was Published

Dave and Lillian met and married 17 years ago in Kelowna, BC – the southwestern province of Canada, located just North of the US State of Washington. Sadly the couple are unable to have children, but they have always had several cats and dogs that they adopt from the SPCA to continually share their home. Gardening is the Brummet’s hobby of choice and you can often find them playing in the dirt.

“I grew up in a broken home; my mother was married 4 times and 2 of those men found me too attractive, unfortunately. Sadly there were no rule books at the time to help families deal with situations like this and I found myself on my own and on the street at the age of 13 -1/2. I stayed out of the government system by working the same jobs I always had up to then, such as working for nurseries and babysitting and yard chores and the like while going to public school. Soon, though, I found out how different I was from others at school and I just didn’t fit in anymore. So I stopped going to public school for a few years. At age 15 I was caught living on my own and was taken to a foster home where I was given the option of working part time, having some independence still, but going back to school to get my grade 10. Which I did, but when I soon was on my own again by choice this time, more due to my discomfiture with family activities and bonding than anything else. At 19 I went back to school and eventually received a university level of grade 12 (meaning some of the highest available courses in maths, sciences, etc). Eventually I took several other college courses that lead to a career in the field of hospitality management in my mid-twenties. On the side, I helped run my mother’s market garden and my husbands drum teaching business. To say I was on over-achiever is not an exaggeration. I had this drive in me to not let the past be forever torturing me and holding me back.

When I was growing up, teachers often commented on my writing ability - and honestly, English was one of the few classes that kept me going to school when I was first on my own. I used poetry as a healing tool, a way to get the pain out where I could examine it. Eventually, prodding from friends lead me to enter a contest and then another and another… I never did win a grand prize, but my work did appear in five hardcover anthology books and several publications throughout North America. I also had the honor of attaining "Editor's Choice Award for outstanding Achievement in Poetry", not once – but twice. These small achievements and praises gave me some confidence in the quality of my work.

But what prompted me to write as a career began with a bad car accident – a three-car pile-up and I was in the middle. After a year of full-time physiotherapy, followed by a year of trying to get back to operating my business and continuing therapy, I realized I was never going to be able to continue that work full-time.

At that point Dave and I were feeling like our lives were going the wrong direction. I knew that with the injuries received from the car accident, I was not able to continue to run my business and having a full-time job elsewhere was not looking like a possibility due to chronic pain issues. I mean, we worked hard for our careers and to have it just taken away like that was really shocking – of course, I’m grateful for it now. At the time, however, I looked back at my life in disgust because I felt all my efforts, work, pain… it was all for nothing. No one would notice and no lasting benefit was left behind. I questioned why I survived the life I had only to have these things happen – and I questioned the value of my life. This was the trigger that helped me realize that I just couldn’t live like that any longer. Dave and I had several heart-to-heart discussions about the meaning of our lives, what was important to us and how we mean to use the time we are given. I even wrote a short poem about it:


Locomotion keeps me moving through the confusing compulsive waves of life.
And, lost in this rush, I consume and exhaust myself for the unknown.
Feeling awfully tired, I pause - and look in at my routines in disgust.
And a desperate yearning to escape beyond the maze, and into self-sufficiency arises.

Right around this time, my husband was taking a writing course and I began taking it alongside of him. Soon, our submissions were accepted and sold and a free-lance career began, which later developed into our career as authors.

We embarked on a freelance writing career in 1998, and began publishing our column “Trash Talk” in 1999. Although we stopped writing this column at the end of 2006, it continues to be picked up by publications around the world. This column was developed into our first book Trash Talk (2004), which we soon followed up with a collection of my poetry in the book Towards Understanding (2005). Our most recent book is Purple Snowflake Marketing, which was released in 2007 – we are excited to announce that this author’s marketing plan guide will be released as a 2nd edition in late 2008 with just under 200 additional resources and information for authors to use in their promotion plan.

We also write articles dealing with gardening, yard, pets and outdoor adventures. Dave is the editor, proofreader, photographer, graphic designer, diagram and image creator and website managing half of our co-writing relationship. While I do the research, data entry (typing), office work, handle most of the marketing and interacting with publishers and media. We work very well as a team for live marketing endeavors from interviews to book events – with Dave being the speaker while I am the assistant, events go quite smoothly.”