Saturday, September 15, 2018

Saturday Snapshot - Book Covers




Do you remember making paper covers to protect your school books?  One weekend afternoon earlier this summer, I had fun fashioning book covers for some of my older, well-worn books.  I used lovely paper I had on hand in the closet, including some vibrant animal prints from the World Wildlife Fund. The turtle patterned paper covers a book about red-eared sliders, while the owl patterned paper covers a dictionary in need of some TLC.  It was an enjoyable way to spend some time.  (Click on photos to make them larger.)

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Many thanks to West Metro Mommy for hosting Saturday Snapshot!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Brahmahatya

Several months ago, I learned about the novel  Brahmahatya by Rajiv Mittal, published in 2017, on Tracy's wonderful book blog, Pen and Paper.  Her post quickly led to my interest in reading this book, and a result, the author sent me a copy of his book.  In March, I featured a guest post about writing by author Rajiv Mittal.  It took me longer than anticipated to read this story, but I finished it recently. Without further adieu, here are some of my thoughts about this book, Brahmahtya, which the author calls a shraddhanajali (homage) to his father.




"As soon as he stepped outside of the hospital confines, his senses were assaulted from all directions: the sights, sounds, smells and feel of India."
~ Brahmahtya, Rajiv Mittal 

Set mainly in India, Brahmahtya is a story about Ravi Narasimhan, a forty-year-old bachelor who lives and works in Dubai. He cares deeply about his elderly father, Srinivasan Narasimhan, and calls him twice a week to check up on him. Even though their conversations are kept short by his father, Ravi knows that his father looks forward to these regular calls.  One day, Ravi receives a call from India and learns that his father has fallen.  Ravi flies to India to visit his father in the hospital. It looks as if his father will soon recover, so Ravi arranges for attendants to help his father after he leaves the hospital, and returns to Dubai.  However, Ravi receives a call from India on his first day back to the office. His father has had a stroke.

Ravi returns to India and tries desperately to get his father admitted to Govindarajan Memorial Residency, or GMR, because it was recommended to him by Dr. Hariharan at the hospital as a place that provides elderly people with dignity and care, and also because it's near to a hospital if residents need any sort of medical treatment.  Ravi meets with Bhavna Ramesh, Operations-In-Charge, who is competent and attractive. She realizes that Ravi's father, who everyone calls Naru Sir, had been her schoolteacher, and she's eager to see him again. Bhavna tells Ravi that Dr. Krishnamachari Iyengar, a Brahmin doctor at GMR called Dr. Chari, does not possess the qualities of a Brahmin, but that he's rigid and lacks compassion.  Bhavna tries to help Ravi by providing instructions about how his father should arrive at GMR.  Unfortunately, things do not go well in that regard, and Dr. Chari refuses to admit Naru Sir to GMR, though Ravi pleads with him to do so.  So Naru Sir is instead placed in a depressing old age home called Blessings, which Ravi hopes will be a temporary measure.  Sadly, Naru Sir dies.  When Ravi eventually goes back to his office in Dubai, he's surprised to see a letter of acceptance from GMR for his late father.  I will not reveal much more about the plot because I want to avoid spoilers. 

I'm still thinking about this book, and expect to remember it for  a long time (although I will likely reread it, soon).  It's a skillfully written story about the relationship between Ravi and his father, which makes you think about how we should care for the elderly.  Due to health issues, my own father spent the last few years of his life at a home for the aged on the east coast. Brahmahatya is an intensely emotional story in which characters experience and express a variety of emotions: guilt, grief, hate, peace, hope, and love.  The details in the story are rich, and present many of the unique smells (sandalwood), sounds (tinkling of a prayer bell) and tastes (South-Indian filter coffee) of India.  (Some are much less pleasant.) The  characters, Ravi, Naru Sir, Bhavna, Laxmi, Dr. Chari, Sridhar, and others, are brought to life by the author's vivid word portraits.  As a reader I was especially sympathetic toward Ravi and Bhavna, the main characters.  I was invested in the story and wanted to know how things would turn out for the characters I cared most about (will there be a sequel?). Bhavna raises her twelve-year-old daughter, Laxmi, who has cerebral palsy, by herself, as her husband could not bear having a disabled, "imperfect" child. 

Brahmahtya is touching and heartbreaking at times.  The book includes ancient Hindu scriptures and stories in the story, as characters grapple with various challenges.  Like Tracy from Pen and Paper, I'm also not familiar with these scriptures, but they add an authentic and religious or spiritual  dimension to the story; I don't think my lack of familiarity detracted too much from my understanding of the story.  Brahmahtya held my attention at all times, and I relished reading it.  Many thanks to Rajiv Mittal for sending me a complimentary copy of this touching and memorable novel.

Thanks for reading! Your comments are welcomed.

Monday, June 25, 2018

PR for Poets

As a book blogger, I've participated in many online tours with Poetic Book Tours.  It's been a joy for me to read, think about, and write about poetry.  In the past, I've shied away from reading poetry, as I thought it would be too difficult to decipher.  Fortunately, modern poetry is a lot more accessible! Additionally, I've relished two collections of poetry by Jeannine Hall Gailey, The Robot Scientist's Daughter (2015) and Field Guide to the End of the World (2016), so I jumped at the chance to read this new guidebook, even though I'm not a poet who hopes to publish a book of poems, and then take on the daunting task of marketing it.



Published in 2018, PR for Poets: A Guidebook to Publicity and Marketing by poet Jeannine Hall Gailey is packed with information and tips that will help poets market their work.  Gone are the days of reclusive poets clad in somber clothing, who never socialize and wait passively for their work to be discovered.  In this new age there are numerous ways that poets can reach and connect with readers, and successfully promote their own work.  Although Gailey says that "poetry book promotion is a marathon, not a sprint", there's a wealth of valuable information in this book that will facilitate the process.

This guidebook is well-organized, and the chapter titles in the Table of Contents will help poets find and employ the information they seek quickly.  Discussion about using social media occurs throughout this book, and it even has its own chapter, Chapter 12: Social Media and Blogs.  I enjoyed reading Gailey "take" on social media platforms, and how to use them effectively.

"Participating in some variety of social media will allow you to connect with readers you might not reach in other ways.  It also allows you to connect with readers in other parts of the country and around the world, something that was previously impossible without travel."
~ Jeannine Hall Gailey, PR for Poets

Gailey herself has a charming blog, comprised of personal posts and photos.  Over the past several years, I've definitely noticed more authors on social media sites such as blogs and Facebook (I've become online friends with many), as well as on other platforms.  It almost seems like a necessity or requirement for authors today.  The world of books, including poetry books, has become more social, due to social media. (It feels kind of strange to call authors and others in the book world by their last names in my blog posts, as things are so much less formal now.)  Of course, you don't want to spend too much time online, but Gailey recommends using more than one social media platform to reach potential readers and generate interest in your book(s).  She provides useful information about the various social media outlets available, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads and LibraryThing, Instagram, Tumblr, and websites and blogs.

PR for Poets includes advice from poetry publishers, and from those who work in poetry marketing.  It features a couple of interviews with publishers, as well as a terrific, informative interview with poet and blogger Serena M. Agusto-Cox, the owner of Poetic Book Tours, an online virtual book tour marketing firm for authors of poetry, as well as some fiction and non-fiction.  Agusto-Cox says that "online book tours are less costly and time consuming for the authors--definite benefits for authors who also have full time work--online tours allow them to reach a wider audience, and through tailored packages, they can reach target groups".  She also says that  "poets can reach poetry readers--those who already read poetry--while at the same time, expose new readers to poetry".

One of the main points of the book is that poets should not be too shy about promoting their books, on social media and in other ways.  Gailey tells poets to celebrate the release of their books, in a lighthearted fashion, with readings and parties and swag.  After all the hard work, it's time to play, and share your work with others.  Work hard, play hard!  In other words, after all of the long, difficult, solitary hours of writing and editing, freely enjoy the social aspects of book marketing.  Gailey says to call your book launch a party, because it should be a festive and fun event for all.  The poet offers many other excellent suggestions as well, based on her own experiences, including giving away swag to readers, such as postcards and bookmarks.  It's a pleasure to get nice swag, and I received the postcards pictured below from her, along with her books; they are "keepers".


Chapters in PR for Poets are aptly titled, short and pithy, and full of helpful ideas, insights, and tips garnered over the years by Gailey.  Chapter 32: PR Calendar will help poets organize their calendars in regards to book launches (parties!).  The last chapter of the book, Chapter 33: Go and Do Some PR, provides a handy, concise summary of the ideas in the book, and additional resources are listed at the end of the book.  If I were a poet, I'd definitely follow the ideas in this thoughtful guidebook! 

PR for Poets is a wonderful book filled with a plethora of practical advice.  Having read Gailey's exquisite poetry, I'm not surprised at the amount of care she put into this book. Her attention to detail shows that she genuinely wants to help her readers, and she talks about her own experiences in an honest and appealing way.  This helpful and talented poet generously shares her knowledge and experience to help others promote their work.  PR for Poets is an essential guidebook for poets.  It was a pleasure to read.


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Many thanks to Serena from Poetic Book Tours for inviting me to participate in this tour, and for sending me a complimentary copy of this book.  For more reviews and guest posts, please visit the other stops on Poetic Book Tours' tour for PR for Poets.

I'm also linking this post to Savvy Verse and Wit's PoeTRY Something New 2018.  I learned a great deal about this new-to-me topic, the marketing aspect of poetry, and how poets now need to actively market their work.

As always, thanks for reading!  Your comments are welcomed and appreciated.

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