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!

Guest Posts

5 Editing Terms All Indie Authors Should Know #GuestPost by Claire Jennison

As a writer, we have the craft to create worlds, characters, and their stories. Inside our heads, those stories run like an all-singing, all-dancing movie. (Well, they do in mine…) but do our words convey this same effect for a reader?

Often, we are so close to the story we have created, it is hard to spot where we may need to make changes, add or remove items, spot crutch words (Oh, I have compiled a list, a mile long, of mine).

This is where editing comes in.

And as an Indie author, I remember the mind boggling at the different aspects of editing; the different stages that your book baby goes through, to become a polished piece of prose, ready to be presented to the world.

With this in mind, I am delighted to invite professional editor, Claire Jennison of Penning and Planning to step up and give us a brief outline of some of the jargon we will encounter on our second leg to publication… EDITING! Away you go, Claire!

Claire Jennison of Penning and Planning

Are you an author planning to self publish? Does some of the jargon associated with editing confuse you? If so, this blog will help!

As an indie author, you need to know exactly what editing terms, phrases and descriptions mean if you are considering using a professional editor to edit your book(s) – which you definitely should! This blog outlines and explains some common terms, demystifying the jargon often used in association with professional editing.

For example:

  • Is line editing different to copy editing?
  • What does developmental editing mean?
  • What is a Frankenstein edit?

The answers to these questions will become clear in this post!

Here is a list of 5 editing terms all indie authors should know:

  1. Sample Edit

A professional editor should offer a sample edit before they agree to edit your full manuscript/you decide to book them as your editor. Some editors offer free sample edits (usually between 500-1000 words) and some charge a set fee for sample edits (which may be then deducted off the cost of the full edit should you choose to book them).

A sample edit ensures you, as the author:

  • Know what level of editing your book needs
  • Understand what is included in the editing service
  • Feel the editor is a good fit for you and your book
  • Feel reassured the editor understands the genre expectations of your book
  • Are given a transparent price and timeframe for the editing work involved
  • Are able to evaluate the impact the edit could have on the whole manuscript

A sample edit also ensures the editor:

  • Feels you are a good fit for working together
  • Your book is ready for professional intervention
  • Feels their skills and knowledge can improve the book

Some editors will ask for a sample from the beginning of your novel, others may ask for a sample from the middle, and others may request your full manuscript and edit a section of their choosing. It depends on the editor. If a professional editor refuses to complete a sample for you, whether free or paid, I would seriously question whether they are the right editor for you.

2. Line/Copy Editing

Line editing and copy editing are usually interchangeable terms, but different editors may still mean different things when referring to each. Make sure you ask what is included in the editing service they recommend you need.

Generally, line/copy editing usually focuses on:

  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar corrections
  • Correcting incorrect words and adding missed words
  • Consistent formatting e.g. how dates/times are written
  • Character name/description/distinguishing feature(s) consistency
  • Removing writing clutter (How to cut the clutter for page-turning prose will help with this!)

3. Developmental/Structural Editing

As with line/copy editing, developmental editing and structural editing are usually interchangeable terms, but different editors may have a preference for one term or the other. Again, make sure you are clear what developmental/structural changes your editor will address in your manuscript.

Generally, development/structural editing usually focuses on big picture issues such as:

  • Plot order
  • Major plot holes
  • Pace of the book
  • Plausibility of events
  • Loose/unnecessary story threads
  • Adding or removing scenes if necessary

4. Track Changes

Track Changes is a function of Microsoft Word that most editors use, as it’s standard practice to edit manuscripts in Word. It allows editors to make changes to the body text in your manuscript, as well as add comments/suggestions using comment bubbles in the right-hand margin. Track Changes keeps track of all the amendments and suggestions for you to review when the manuscript is returned to you, which you can then accept or reject as you see fit.

5. Frankenstein Edit

A Frankenstein edit is exactly what you might imagine it to be – an embroidery of sample edits from different editors in order to get a manuscript edited for free. Needless to say, this is not good practice! Even if you think your book only needs a light line/copy edit, it is still impossible to ensure consistency throughout a full manuscript if different editors have edited different sections. In fact, it’s more likely to throw up even more problems as each editor will have their own style of editing based on their individual training and experience. Quite simply, don’t do it!

I really hope 5 Editing Terms All Indie Authors Should Know has been helpful to you as an indie author. If it has, please check out my other writing related blogs at

Thank you so much, Claire, for breaking down some of the intricacies of editing for us all. I hadn’t even heard of the Frankenstein Edit! Sounds rather scary, to be honest, and I can see why that wouldn’t be the best option (shouldn’t even be an option!), though with the costs sometimes being high to self publish, i can understand some inexperienced writers trying to take these cheaper shortcuts. My advice? DON’T! When you’ve spent all that time writing your story, why skimp on the editing, which will give it that polish?

And, if you want more advice, Claire has a book out, helping writers give their writing that edge, right from the beginning,

A little about Claire

As well as being an editor, proofreader and formatter, I’m an indie author too. This means I know exactly how you feel about self publishing your book. Don’t worry – we’re in this together.

I’ve been a professional editor since 2018, but I’ve been writing (and reading) obsessed since childhood. I’m an introvert and tend to live inside my own head, which is ideal for nurturing my overactive imagination!

Before creating Penning and Planning, I taught English and English literature for over 12 years, as a qualified teacher, after completing my English and Creative Writing degree. Although I possessed many transferable skills from my teaching career, I have invested in many editing, proofreading and formatting training courses over the past two years to ensure my author clients receive the best service I can possibly offer and deliver.

My professional training includes a wide range of editing, proofreading and writing courses from trusted, reputable and inspiring sources: CiEPThe PTCThe NovelryJericho WritersSelf Publishing 101 (taught by six figure indie author Mark Dawson), Plan Your Plot (taught by bestselling author Laura Jane Williams), and Self Publishing Formula’s How to Write a Bestseller (taught by bestselling author Suzy K Quinn). 

Alongside running my business, I have been a member of my local lottery funded and community interest writing group for two years. Collaboratively, we self published an anthology of short stories – Another Time Another Place – in January 2020, and our second anthology of crime based stories – Red Herrings and Blind Alleys – was published in May 2020.

Find Claire on:

While you’re here, don’t forget to sign up to my newsletter! Click the image below.


Sign Up To My New Mailing List!

It’s been on my mind for a good while, now…

People keep telling me, I need a mailing list.

The thought scares me. So much jargon and technical words that flummoxed me.



I did it!

I set up a landing page where you can subscribe to my newsletters!

Just click the link below to get added!

I can assure you, that unless I make a silly mistake with learning how to send emails, I will not spam your inbox.

What will you get from me?

  • News about my writing journey
  • Sneak previews of covers and new release dates, ahead of the rest of the world
  • Freebies and offers (I am writing a Chickpea Curry Lit style story as a special treat for my subscribers.)
  • Tips and tricks that have helped me
  • Recommendations of books to read
  • And tidbits about the life of Ritu!

(Dont ask how I’m going to send those yet, I am just excited I got on the mailing list train!)

Thank you, in advance!

My Writing Journey

My Literary SatNav #Writing

Today, in a(nother) Facebook group I am a member of, a question was asked.

Are you a planner or a pantser?

Now, I have always laughingly referred to myself as a Plantser – a mixture of the two.

I was asked what I plan, and where I pants, and I came up with this analogy of my Literary SatNav.

Let me explain.

I have a basic idea of where I want the story to go, who will be present at the start and how I want it to end.

Then the characters are given the destination (aka the end)… with key places I want them to visit on their way.

They are like my Literary Satnavs. They take me to my conclusion in their own way.

It’s like a roadtrip with imaginary friends.

Sometimes I have to stop the writer car, let the engine idle, while I reprogram the route, because we’ve gone wildly off the map, but most of the time, it works.

We even pick up hitchhikers along the way, in the form of new characters who I didn’t even know existed! (Note to younger readers – I am not advocating picking up hitch hikers in reality, but extra characters, that’s a different matter.)

There are the key points we’ll stop at, as I specified when I originally gave the characters the basic travel plan, to savour the scenery, but more often than not, we carry on down the road to our HEA – our Happily Ever After.

It worked for me with Marriage Unarranged.

Here’s hoping they are as good at guiding me and my story this time too!

What? You haven’t read it, yet? Well, what are you waiting for?

Head on over to Amazon to download or order your copy using this link –

Check out the Goodreads reviews here!

Blog, My Writing Journey

Writing My Way Through A Pandemic

Well, hello there, my dear readers.

Firstly, can I apologise, profusely?

I have been very naughty, not posting on here properly for the last six weeks or so, thanks to this ‘thing’ that is happening around the world.

What thing?

Oh, come on, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

That coronavirus, or more specifically, COVID-19.

It sure is a surreal world we are living in right now.

Who would have thought that something regarded as a flu of sorts, would bring pretty much all of the world to a standstill? (I know it isn’t like the flu at all, but that is what most people thought at first.)

As reality slowly hits, people you know become affected, infected, and either recover, or the other option. I, personally know of at least two people who have passed away, including a member of our family.

It’s serious, you know, this pandemic.

And amidst all this pandemic we have been given a gift.

The gift of time.

Well, it didn’t feel like a gift, initially.

One minute, we were dealing with a few absences at school. Told to watch out for anyone in the family with a cough or temperature. Then BAM! Schools closed, restaurants, pubs, bars, theatres, cinemas closed. Other businesses closed offices and encouraged employees to work from home.

It was like being thrown into a parallel universe. One where I was still going to my day job, as a teacher, but to empty classrooms, and just a handful of children, key worker’s kids, so I could help with childcare.

Obviously, with so few kids, not all staff were needed, so we were given a rota to work from. That meant more time at home, to make sure my own family were settling into this new normal. Online learning for them. Working from home for my hubby, who has taken over the dining room with his computers.

‘Great!’ I thought, initially. Lots of time to write!

Because, between you and me, I’ve been getting some nudges to get book two written and out. Folks who have read Aashi’s story in Marriage Unarranged, have really bonded with the cast of characters, and want more.

If you haven’t already, check it out by clicking below!

Now, it’s a good thing that I had some ideas before I published this one, but I didn’t have much time to get words on a screen, or paper, for that matter.

So now, all this time, handed to me on a plate.

Perfect!… Right?

Er, no. Well, not for me, and especially not at the beginning.

I felt a block. Mental, emotional, physical, writer’s BLOCK.

Nothing worked.

My mind went round and round, but wouldn’t focus on my little world with Aashi and her family.

I couldn’t even read like I usually do. Normally, I would read 2-3 books a week, but right now, I couldn’t even concentrate on someone else’s words.

TV and films were the same.

Instead, I kept on refreshing the news, to see what was happening. Social Media tried to plant all sorts of seeds in my mind. I tried to scrabble through the rubbish to find the nuggets of truth.

Then, one day, I just stopped.

I realised that I was driving myself slowly crazy.

My morbid curiosity was rubbing off on the children, and my hubby was getting tired of talking about things too.

So I stopped. Well, not the social media. I can’t totally leave that. But I became more selective with things I was reading. And I only checked the news once a day.

And slowly, the writing mojo crept back, peeking it’s head over my shoulder as I perused things on my computer.

“Come on, Ritu. It’s time, don’t you think? I’ve got a cracker of a story here for you. You know you want to write it, don’t you?”

My Writing Mojo

And it was right.

Using the time I wasn’t refereeing between the kids, making food, or cleaning the house, I uncovered moments to reread the words already written.

I found time to really tighten my character bible. I actually have a real Character Bible that I bought and filled with names, descriptions and traits when writing the first book. This was going to be important for me now. Many old characters would feature, but there would be new ones introduced too.

I researched, too. There are elements of this particular story that I haven’t had first hand experience of, and I wanted to make sure that everything sounded realistic. So, armed with my notebook, I trawled websites, and am in the process of finding people to talk to, so I can nail the main element of the storyline.

And finally, and most importantly, I began to produce words. My manuscript has grown by around eight thousand words, which is wonderful. I have been helped by taking part in online writing sprints.

Do you know what writing sprints are?

You set a timer and see how many words you can write in that given time. Sometimes, having a little deadline chasing you motivates you to get those words down. Being alone is fine, but having company is even better.

Obviously, we can’t be with others at the moment, but there is always the internet! One of my favourite, and extremely supportive writer groups on Facebook, Rebel Authors, have been running live writing sprints at various times of the day, where you can be accountable to someone, and get productive. In fact, to make it even more fun, Sacha Black, the organiser, has even arranged a weekly Poison and Prose sprint session once a week, where you can bring your choice of poison, be it alcoholic, or not, and enjoy some funny conversations in between sprinting.

Me with last week’s poison!

Other days, I have logged into Facebook, and author Lizzie Chantry has a writing group where she has a dedicated writing hour. Again, it is not essential, but having that online accountability makes you focus more.

If I am not writing part of the manuscript, I am formulating new blog posts or author interviews I have been invited to take part in. In fact I even wrote an article for, a charity for individuals with various hormonal issues. If you want to read, please do, by cliicking the link here.

Writing articles…

And now I need to set my routine for the next few weeks, keeping this new normal in mind. I will be going into school some days, either for half days or full days. I will be at home for others, where I can use the time the children are doing their online learning to write.

There doesn’t appear to be an end in sight, yet, for these strange times, so I can get this next manuscript ready, hopefully in much less time than the nearly twenty years the first one took!

See, every cloud has it’s silver lining, doesn’t it?

Have any of you found your creativity stifled in the current climate, or are you flourishing?

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 and on Kindle.

Take advantage of the sale now, while you can!

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Chickpea 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…

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. 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