Marriage Unarranged, My Writing Journey

You Really Read My Book?

It’s been a while, folks, and I apologise for that.

Life, including home improvements, (an eight week stretch of contractors repairing, tweaking and decorating, to get the house shipshape for putting on the market so we can find our forever home), and starting back to school with a new role under my belt, (EYFS Phase Leader and DSL), has meant that I have had little time to devote to the writing side of my persona.

Lockdown initially gave me a boost in creativity, then it sapped it. I found energy to write for a good three weeks, before #ProjectHome began, and got 40,000 words down, then the stress of having people banging, followed by the beginning of a very strange school year, meant that my poor WIP has lain, unopened for almost eight weeks.

I so dearly want to get back to it but I’ve been mentally, physically, and emotionally, shattered.

So, it was, with surprise, that I received a message from someone I know, a few weeks back. Her boss’s boss wanted to extend an invitation to me to be a guest at her book club, because they were going to be reading my book baby, Marriage Unarranged!

Yup, they read that one, above!

I never thought, in a million years, that my book would get chosen as a book club read. I mean, there are so many books out there… fantastic books… yet they chose mine!

It was with a sense of amazement that I replied that I would love to, followed by dread.

  • What if they hated it?
  • What if they slated it?
  • What if they asked questions I couldn’t answer?
  • What if they ask about the next book?

But, I’m not one to shy away from challenges, and this was an opportunity to speak to total strangers, to get opinions from readers who don’t know me at all.

And so, on Friday 16th October, at 8PM, UK time, I sat, loaded glass of pink gin by my side, waiting for the Zoom meeting to start.

Yup, a virtual book club meet, because this particular book club was in the US. A group of ten women who have been meeting up for over twenty years, to read and discuss books.

It connected, and I can say, with relief, joy and a little pride, that the hour we spent, chatting away, supping our respective drinks, went really well.

I was asked about, among other things, my inspiration, how long the book took to write, (you all know that was a long and winding road…), whether I had been to all the places mentioned in the book, who characters were based upon, why characters did certain things, and what next… Marita, who wasa hosting, even brought her own bangles, brought on a trip to India, to share with the rest of the group, when they asked about my mentioning them a lot in the book. We even posed for a virtual selfie! Here’s me with some of the group members. I’m the blurred one on the screen…

An hour disappeared so fast, and afterwards, I found myself laying on my (newly laid, so fluffy) carpet, alternating between smiling inanely, and supping the rest of my goldfish bowl of gin!

Truly, it made my day, week, month, even.

Total strangers read my book, enjoyed it, and actually wanted to speak to me about it. They were even excited that they were speaking to an author, for the first time, at their book club.

Author – as in ME!

It hit me, last night, that I really am an author, and there are folks out there who don’t know me from Adam, yet they trusted my description, and bought my book.

Honestly, in my mind, the only people who bought and read things with my name on, were friends and family…

Sorry?

What was that?

You want to read it, too?

Well, all you have to do is click below. It’s on Amazon, paperback and Kindle, and it is on Kindle Unlimited too!

getbook.at/MarriageUnarranged

I tell you what, it’s given me a real boost. I want to get back to that book two manuscript, and a short novella I am also writing, so I can offer you a freebie if you sign up to my mailing list…

Oh, and while you’re here, did you sign up for my mailing list?

I am in the middle of writing an exclusive Chickpea Curry Lit story for my subscribers, and there will be news, tips and even recipes! Oh, and you’ll be the first to know about Book Two, and all the exclusive reveals, too!

You know you want to join… go on! Click the pic below to sign up!

Marriage Unarranged, My Writing Journey, Uncategorized

Encouragement Is A Writer’s Best Friend (+ a Birthday #BookSale)

Some writers are lucky, you know.

They get an idea, and the words just seem to flow.

And when one is complete, the next idea arrives, waiting to be transferred from mind to screen/paper.

But not all of us are that blessed.

Well, I say that, but I have the ideas. They aren’t always fully formed, but they are there, ready to come to life on my MacBook.

For me, time is the hugest constraint. Life as a teacher, as well as a wife and mother, coupled in with Covid-19, the lockdown, and to top it off, a HUGE amount of home improvements, means that sometimes I wonder whether it’s worth it…

Then you get messages like this.

And you find that there are readers out there who have actually taken time and effort to write or post about your book. This post by Jazz of @her_reading_nook on Instagram blew me away, and there was another post filled with more images, too!

View this post on Instagram

It’s all in the details [of Marriage Unarranged] 📖♥️🌺 __ Trendy ethnic jewelry from: @saggiparanda 💎🤩 __ 📖Review continued from previous post: *𝚀𝚄𝙾𝚃𝙴 + 𝚂𝚈𝙽𝙾𝙿𝚂𝙸𝚂* Aashi, the protagonist catches her fiance cheating on her so the big fat Punjabi wedding is cancelled but the India trip originally for wedding shopping becomes an adventure with her best friend, Kiran + brothers, Sunny & Bali: “Sunny was painfully aware of how hard it was for Aashi to forget the original reason for the trip. Dotted around the various shops were reminders of bridal accessories they should have been buying. The ℂℍ𝕌ℝ𝔸, 𝔹ℝ𝕀𝔻𝔸𝕃 𝔹𝔸ℕ𝔾𝕃𝔼𝕊 their mamaji (uncle) would have been slipping on her wrists. 𝕂𝔸𝕃𝕀ℝ𝔼𝕐, 𝔻𝔸ℕ𝔾𝕃𝕀ℕ𝔾 𝕆ℝℕ𝔸𝕄𝔼ℕ𝕋𝕊 he & Bali would have added to her wrists, which as they dropped off, she would give to her single cousins & friends, with the blessing that they would get married soon too” -Marriage Unarranged📖 Swipe: #IndianFashionHistory #PunjabiFashionHistory On the flight to New Delhi, Aashi falls asleep on a stranger, Arjun! Is Arjun about to be her rebound or soulmate? So bollywood. So brown girl! 🙋🏽‍♀️ 𝚃𝙷𝙾𝚄𝙶𝙷𝚃𝚂: Love the brother+ sister relationship portrayed between Aashi & Sunny (eldest bro) + Bali (younger one). Just in time for #happyRakhi / #Rakhri which means “to protect”, a traditional Indian holiday celebrating brother +sister bond where the sister ties a thread on the brother’s wrist signifying the brother’s promise of being there for his sister through thick & thin 🌺 as a token of love, the brother gives money/ gift in return for the thread💓 Grab a copy of this light read, travel to New Delhi, India & add this beautiful book cover to your reading nook for future #sHelfies 🤳🏻💃🏿 Rom com/ Chick lit isn’t my go to genre but this is like reading a bollywood movie & we all could use a little bollywood/ fairy tale during this time🙃 feel me! • • • #MarriageUnarranged #RituBhathal #AuthorAdmiration #☕️andBooks #I❤️TheSmellofFreshPages #BookBehavior #RomCom #ChickLit #IndianAuthor #PunjabiAuthor #Bookstagram #DiverseBooks #DiverseReaders #Bookish #TheBookLook #BookBlogger #bookstagramIndia #PunjabiWedding #IndianFashion #punjabijewellery #indianjewelry #SonjaAndOve

A post shared by Jazz (@her_reading_nook) on

And it makes your effort feel worthwhile.

Then, you get little comments from authors your love and respect like this…

Thank you, Zoe!

It spurs you on to try and write more.

This summer holiday has whizzed by, and I grabbed the bull by the horns. I had time, a little, at least, to devote to my writing.

My aim was 40,000 in four weeks.

I didn’t quite hit that, but I was close, and, considering I’ve spent the last week and a half manically demolishing furniture, having a ma-hoo-sive clear out and stocking the local charity shops with copious amounts of donations, and visiting B & Q many times to buy boxes, choose tiles, and bathroom suites etc, I’m not going to beat myself up over not quite hitting my self-imposed target!

I managed 37, 869 words!

I’ve also had my cover comissioned and more or less designed, ready to go, to spur me on. No, I can’t share that yet. Let me get the book written first!

And, what with my birthday, next week, I decided to have a little sale on Marriage Unarranged, so if you haven’t already, grab a Kindle copy for 99p/99c on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk! From Friday 28th August, to Thursday 3rd September. Go on, make a writer’s day, buy a copy!

https://getbook.at/MarriageUnarranged

Oh, and while you’re here, did you sign up for my mailing list?

I am in the middle of writing an exclusive Chickpea Curry Lit story for my subscribers, and there will be news, tips and even recipes! Oh, and you’ll be the first to know about Book Two, and all the exclusive reveals, too!

You know you want to join… go on! Click the pic below to sign up!

Marriage Unarranged

When Your Mum Speaks – Mum Chats about My Book!

This month marks my debut novel, Marriage Unarranged’s six month birthday. And I am excited that it has sold almost 200 copies, and gained nearly 50 reviews on Amazon.

Each comment from a reader is so important, to me. In fact, I recently had an unofficial Book Club meet with some friends of mine, who had read it, and wanted to chat book. That was exciting!

But one of the biggies for me, was knowing what my mother thought.

I attribute my love of words and books to my mum. She surrounded us with books and stories from such a young age. So, when she told me she was reading it, I sat, waiting for her feedback.

I didn’t hold my breath until she finished, because I would have been dead.

One thing my mum isn’t nowadays, is a fast reader, so, it was with great pomp and circumstance that she announced that she had finally finished reading it, a couple of weeks ago.

And her announcement was timed well, as we were coming to visit them, so I thought, why not grab the bull by the horns, and ask her for her frank thoughts on her daughter’s first ever novel?

Me: So, Mum, what did you think?

Mum: It was beautifully written and I think you captured the traditions and culture really well. It’s an eye opener for anyone reading it. I felt an awful lot of nostalgia while reading, remembering our trip to India. At first there was an element of shock, as a mother, with some naughty scenes, but after a while, I got used to it. (Read a bit further down for my Pops’ response to this comment!)

Me: What about the subject matter?

Mum: The book tackles a lot of issues that are there, hidden, within the Indian community. I think you’re quite brave to tackle subjects that are taboo within the community, like Sunny and his questions about his sexuality, and being a single parent, too. As older generation Indians, we tend to sweep things like that under the carpet.

Me: Did you have a favourite part?

Mum: I really enjoyed the end, when the parents discovered where their daughter’s happiness lies. Not many Indian parents would be happy to see their girl with a guy already with a child.

The India bits took me back twenty-odd years, to our trip when we were planning and shopping for your wedding.

Me: Who is your favourite character?

Mum: Aashi, because she is so sensitive to everyone’s feelings, and thoughtful.

Me: Do you want to read more?

Mum: Yes! I want to know what happens, next!

I am so glad she enjoyed it!

I’ll tell you something else… Even my Pops has started reading it! He actually insisted my mum get him his own paperback copy, so he could read it at his own pace (very, very slow!)

I thought I’d ask him what he thought…

Me: So, Pops what are you thinking about the book?

Pops: I read two chapters. But it’s been so long since I read them, I can’t remember enough… I’ll have to read it again. And now, with you writing another, I’ll have to read it soon!

He was listening to Mum and me talking, and when she mentioned the, ahem, naughty scenes, he piped up “Yeah, I was so shocked, that’s why I haven’t read more!” then he laughed!

I loved being able to talk frankly about my writing to them. And even discussing the second book with Mum was fun. She added her spin and ideas to what I am in the middle of writing.

So, what about you? Have you read Marriage Unarranged?

If you have, I’d love for you to leave a review. Reviews are what spur us authors on!

And, if you haven’t, then why not grab your copy now?

Here’s the blurb.

It all started ended with that box…

Aashi’s life was all set.

Or so she thought.

Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.

But then Aashi found the empty condom box…

Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.

Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.

And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something…

https://getbook.at/MarriageUnarranged

Oh, and while you’re here, did you sign up for my mailing list?

I am in the middle of writing an exclusive Chickpea Curry Lit story for my subscribers, and there will be news, tips and even recipes! Oh, and you’ll be the first to know about Book Two, and all the exclusive reveals, too!

You know you want to join… go on! Click the pic below to sign up!

Marriage Unarranged

Happy Fictional Father’s Day!

As writers, we create characters. And for the most part, those characters are human. They have families too.

Today, I want to celebrate the fathers that I have shaped, within my writing.

When I began writing Marriage Unarranged, I knew there would be a father or two in the book. After all, Aashi is a very family orientated girl, and hers would be a key character.

My characters, generally aren’t based on a specific person, but there may be different elements of people I’ve encountered along the way that make their way into the personailities I create.

Mohinder, Aashi’s father, or Daddy-ji, as his children lovingly call him, is heavily based upon my own dad. There are differences, but the essence of my Pops is embedded within this character.

I loved writing him, and as the book grew, so did his part in it. Mohinder was the elder voice of reason. He was the calm, understanding parent, compared to the more traditional, and often fraught Harjit, a typical Indian immigrant mum.

Ravi’s father, Harpal, is a a rather hen-pecked individual, who is used to his wife Gurmeet, taking over everything. I felt that there needed to be a character who felt the shame of his son’s dishonesty. Had Aashi married into this family, I am sure he would have been a fantastic father-in-law.

Right now, I am creating a rather different father figure, within book two. One who has tunnel vision where his children are concerned. Less emotional, more concerned with his business and how his family come across to the world. Dev Tagore is the father of Milan, an up and coming fashion designer in Delhi. He’ss quite hard for me to write, as he is nothing like the father I have had, and one I wouldn’t wish upon any child. But fathers like that do exist. Here’s hoping he sorts himself out by the end of the book!

So, there you have some of my fictional fathers. I’m sure, in my created world, they are all celebrating father’s day in their own ways.

Is there any literary father that has stayed with you, in any books you’ve read?

If you want to meet Mohinder, as well as many other colourful characters, click here to check out Marriage Unarranged.

Oh, and while you’re here, did you sign up for my mailing list? I am in the middle of writing an exclusive Chickpea Curry Lit story for my subscribers, and there will be news, tips and even recipes! You know you want to join… go on! Click the pic below to sign up!

Marriage Unarranged, Uncategorized

Author Interview with Ritu Bhathal, author of ‘Marriage Unarranged’

Pop over to Rebecca’s blog for a new interview with me!

Ritu Bhathal

Happy Tuesday, guys. I hope you are all keeping well and safe, and staying indoors?

Today on The Book Babe, I’m delighted to be sharing with you my very first author interview on the blog. It’s an absolute pleasure to be introducing you to Ritu Bathal, author of ‘Marriage Unarranged’ today, and I hope you’ll grab yourselves a nice cup of tea and settle down to enjoy our chat! So kick back, relax, and please do feel free to say hello in the comment section to let Ritu know you’ve popped by. We would both appreciate that very much! So, without further ado, let’s get this author interview underway.

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Marriage Unarranged

Marriage Unarranged Sale! #CoronavirusRead #BookSale

Hey there, everyone! Just wanted to give you the heads up that my book baby, Marriage Unarranged is on sale this weekend, from Friday 3rd April, through to midnight on Monday 6th April!

It’s down to only 99p/99c on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk on Kindle.

Take advantage of the sale now, while you can!

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Chickpea Curry Lit – Chick Lit with an Indian Twist!

getbook.at/MarriageUnarranged

It all started ended with that box…

Aashi’s life was all set.

Or so she thought.

Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.

But then Aashi found the empty condom box…

Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.

Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.

And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something…

And it’s gathering ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ reviews too!

5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Splendid

Marriage Unarranged is probably one of the best “Getting Over a Breakup” stories I’ve ever come across. Culturally rich and emotionally captivating, it’s a story that inspires us to find and refine our best qualities, to get back up off scraped knees when life knocks us down. From the first sentence, I was hooked. This novel, though written in lush prose, reads quickly, and deserves to be re-read in years to come. Sit back with a cup of chai and immerse yourself in the splendor that is Marriage Unarranged.

5.0 out of 5 stars You fall in love with the characters… And India!! Such a beautiful read.

Where do I start!! An amazing read and incredibly relatable. I’ve read this in an afternoon! I did not want to put it down!! Ritu captures your full attention in the first few pages….. The mention of Hindi tapes! There are so many ‘throw-backs’ in this novel, which have made me very nostalgic about the 90’s (I’m a mid-80’s baby!) The Ravi and Nishi characters, their behaviour, reminiscent of many characters from my school-days, but then there is Aashi. She is courageous, displaying self-control, behaving with such integrity and dignity. She is inspiring. This is a fantastic read. Ritu has inspired me to revisit India!!

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Marriage Unarranged

No, It’s Not About Me… Or You… (That’s why it’s called Fiction)

Made With Canva

It’s been a whirlwind week since the launch, last Sunday, and I have been overwhelmed by the support from everyone.

From the blog tour posts (thank you to the awesome hosts), all the sharing of my book release, to the numerous comments of encouragement, I have been overwhelmed!

And, I am so excited to tell you that there are already several 5-star reviews on Amazon AND Goodreads.

But… there are so many people who automatically thought that as I have written a book, it must be about my life.

Er, no, folks, it’s not an autobiography, it’s fiction!

And, if you weren’t aware, I am married, happily! (No unarranging here – it wasn’t arranged at all, total love story here, but that is a personal story 😉)

If you ask any author, they will have been asked similar questions – unless you write science fiction, or fantasy, in which case, most readers will presume you have created your world from your crazy imagination.

It’s true what they say:

“Be careful around a writer – anything you do or say could be used for inspiration.”

But that doesn’t mean that I would take a person from my life and base a character, or story around them. Do I want to be sued?

Made with Canva

Sure, there may be elements of different people I have encountered in my life, within certain characters.

I’ll tell you for free that Daddy-ji in Marriage Unarranged is based loosely on my Pops. But the situations in the story are not situations that have arisen in our lives. It’s just his manner and how he handles things. Those who know my Pops would agree.

But aside from the fact that my main character is a young British-born Sikh girl who happens to be from Birmingham, there is nothing to link her to me (other than I created her!)

The places we visit in the book, in the UK and India, are based upon places I have been to. If I haven’t been there, how can I give you the best, most realistic feelings?

In fact, my mum is currenty reading the book, and, aside from making a small comment about a couple of rude Punjabi words used, said that she is enjoying it immensely, and the descriptions of the trip to India are bringing back memories of our own trip to Delhi when we went to do my wedding shopping twenty years ago.

So, no, the book isn’t about me, at all, and it’s not about you either (well, not all of it…😉)

You want to know what all the fuss is about?

‘Chick Pea Curry’ Lit, Chick Lit with an Indian twist

It all started ended with that box…

Aashi’s life was all set.

Or so she thought.

Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.

But then Aashi found the empty condom box…

Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.

Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.

And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something…

On Amazon – click here!

Marriage Unarranged Blog Tour

2020 Conversations with Colleen ~ Featuring Author, Ritu Bhathal @RituBhathal

This is it. The last day of the Blog Tour. I am being featured on Colleen’s blog, where you get to meet Aashi’s mum and dad – two key characters!

I’m thrilled to be part of an amazing writing community that helps to support other authors. Today, please welcome poet and author, Ritu Bhathal to discuss her new book, “Marriage Unarranged,” available for purchase at the link below. https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B082Z5D4NF&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_3dCqEbRKJ5T4R&tag=colleencheseb-20 I’ve had the opportunity to read this book and you can read my 5 STAR review below.…

Source: 2020 Conversations with Colleen ~ Featuring Author, Ritu Bhathal @RituBhathal