I Have Been Podcasted!

It gives me great pleasure to let you know that I have been featured on a wonderful podcast, Great Writers Share!

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I was honoured to be asked on as a guest, and I hope you have the time to listen.

GWS #53 – Ritu Bhathal

Hello everybody! This week I got to sit down with chick pea lit author Ritu Bhathal!

In this episode we go deep into:

  • • Where Ritu’s journey began
  • • How life can prioritize over writing
  • • Starting a blog on a whim without a plan
  • • Indian family customs
  • • How writing groups and accountability can help lift you up and keep you on track
  • • Publishing Poetry vs a Novel
  • • How having a support system is instrumental in the writing process
  • • Stationary and her vast collection of brush pens
  • • Being realistic when it comes to balancing everyday life and getting words written
  • • What her writing advice is for new writers

Listen now: https://pod.link/1473869415

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Shakespeare And Me – Guest post by @KileyDunbar and #BookReview of #newrelease, One Winter’s Night

Last year I was introduced to the debut novel of someone who I have come to view as one of those authors whose books I will put others aside, to read as soon as I can.

Kiley Dunbar’s first book, One Summer’s Night, is a wonderful story, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, and heavily influenced by that famous bard, William Shakespeare. As I read her fourth book, One Winter’s Night, (yes, she’s got that many under her belt since last year’s release!) I realised it was also Shakey-heavy, too, so I decided to be nosy and ask all about her fascination with Shakespeare, and how much he’s influenced her writing, and life, too!

Over to you, Kiley!

I fell in love with Shakespeare’s poetry when I was fourteen and I talked my mum into buying me A Midsummer Night’s Dream, based solely on my lovestruck reaction to its gorgeous cover. I still have that book! (pictured).

That was the summer my parents dug out a small pond in the back garden of their terrace in the coal board village where I grew up. I spent hours that summer sitting by the pond trying to get to grips with the strange language and magical characters. I only understood half of what I read and it took me the whole summer to finish the play.

I was always a dreamy kid but something about the summer moon reflecting in the water and this 400-year-dead beardy English bloke had me reeling. I was a goner.

Cut to Mrs Marr’s English class a few years later and I’m head over heels for Hamlet, outraged by Othello and totalled on Twelfth Night. Thank you Mrs Marr!

In May 1999 I was writing a long letter to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford upon Avon explaining my obsession and asking if they have any summer job vacancies – and they did!

Within weeks I was living in Stratford, working as a tour-guide and seeing every single play at the RST and the Swan. I was in heaven!

And I didn’t want to leave.

So I applied to study at the Shakespeare Institute and, to my amazement, got a place – after a nerve wracking interview. I made Shakespeare-obsessed friends for life there.

A few years, and a lot of studying, later I have been fortunate enough to be able to teach my own Shakespeare courses at a uni in the North of England. Seeing the moment where it finally all made sense for my students was utterly magical!

It felt as though all my teenage summer dreams had come true. Except for one. I wanted to write love stories and comedies of my own.

In March 2019 my debut novel, a rom com, called ‘One Summer’s Night’ came out with Hera Books, inspired by my love of Shaky and (v. v. loosely) based on my first summer in Stratford all these years ago where I met my husband and we got engaged after FOUR days! I know, I’m not exactly risk averse. Now I’m looking forward to sharing the sequel to that novel. It’s called One Winter’s Night and is out on 17th September 2020 and follows the same characters and some new ones through a very romantic, dramatic winter in Shakespeare’s hometown. One of the storylines is a gender-reversed version of Love’s Labour’s Lost, one of my favourite Shakespeare plays.

I hope you love it, Kiley, x

You can download your copy of One Summer’s Night here:

Apple https://apple.co/2sM8y2p
Kobo http://bit.ly/2HtpPYg
Kindle https://amzn.to/2MAxFOV
Google http://bit.ly/2FUCNvK

And One Winter’s Night can be bought here:

AMZ: https://amzn.to/3haiHwO

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2B94BMV

Apple: https://apple.co/3haaEA8

Here’s the blurb:

A gorgeously uplifting, romantic read that will warm your heart – take a trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon, where magic happens…

It’s autumn in beautiful Stratford-Upon-Avon and Kelsey Anderson is enjoying her new life in her adopted town. Her Shakespearean tour guide days behind her, she’s now opened her own photography studio and loved up with boyfriend Jonathan – even if a long-distance relationship is sometimes lonely.

When best friend Mirren Imrie moves down from Scotland, Kelsey is delighted to have her friend at her side – and as the nights turn colder, Mirren throws herself into dating, until she finds herself growing closer to sexy journalist, Adrian Armadale. But when Mirren uncovers a long-buried scandal while working at the local newspaper, her big scoop might throw Kelsey’s – and Jonathan’s – life upside down. Will she choose her career over her friends’ happiness?

And when Jonathan returns from America and discovers the secrets Mirren has uncovered about his family, it throws his relationship with Kelsey onto shaky ground. Can they find their way back to love, before it becomes the winter of their discontent?

A romantic, funny and feelgood read that will make you smile from ear to ear. Fans of Milly Johnson, Heidi Swain and Holly Martin will fall in love with this cosy winter read!

Thank you, so much, Kiley, for sharing your love affair with Shakespeare with us all!

And four days! Wowzer! Well, they do say, when you know, you know. 😉

As I mentioned, I was honoured to be able to read an ARC of One Winter’s Night, and it was fabulous! Here’s my review.

One Winter’s Night by Kiley Dunbar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I happened upon Kiley Dunbar and her debut last year, and after devouring the first one, I have awaited any other releases with great anticipation, and she’s never failed to satisfy.
Hearing that the characters from One Summer Night, Dunbar’s debut were getting another outing in One Winter’s Night, made my summer.
I love Shakespeare, Stratford-Upon-Avon is a place we visited plenty when I was growing up, And though I’ve never been, Scotland and its. beauty has always enticed me.
One day I will visit.
And romance? Well, I love a bit of romance, so, having all these components in a book should be a guaranteed good read, for me, at least.
And it surely was!
Catching up with Kelsey Anderson, as the Scottish lass comes to grips with settling far south of her home town, in Shakespeare’s land, attempting to set up a business fuelled by her passion for photography, with no good friends or family close by, and the love of her life off acting across the Atlantic was a joy.
And I loved the parallel story of Kelsey’s best friend Mirren, the newly single, Scottish journalist who’s finally had enough of the sexist world of broadsheet journalism, and finds herself swearing off men, jacking in her job, and jumping on a train to join her best friend, for a little while, as she straightens her life out.
There were a whole host of new characters introduced, including the old soak, propping up the local bar, who ended up being a rather famous actor in his prime, with a hidden secret, and Blythe.
Oh, I loved Blythe! Everyone needs a Blythe in their lives.
An eccentric elderly woman who was a force to be reckoned with in her prime, on stage, until life threw her some huge curveballs. Blythe may be a bit of a recluse, but she has amassed a veritable smorgasbord of memorabilia and hard-learned wisdom over the years, along with the talent of distilling her own extremely strong flavoured gins.
Kelsey’s unusual, initial meeting with Blythe cements a multi-generational friendship that adds another layer to an already wonderful story.
So there’s love, heartbreaks, more romance, Shakespeare, family angst, and GIN! What more could a reader want?
Absolutely a recommended read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hera Books for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

Now, I 100% recommend you get reading all of Kiley’s books, they are wonderful little nuggets of escapism!

Happy Reading!

Chai And A Chat #101 #ChaiAndAChat #CoronaDiaries Week 25

Oh, man… anyone gotmatchsticks to keep my eyes open, while we sup our drink?

It’s been another one of those weeks… (when is it ever not, in Ritu World?)

  • If we were having chai I’d begin with updating you about school. So, this week the children in our class were staying for lunch for the first time. I was dreading it, since there was a new format, where the teacher stay with thoses having packed lunches, and the assistants were to go to the canteen to support those eating school lunches. we adapted it slightly, as there were few children having packed lunches, so my team teacher had lunch with the packed lunch kids, and I ventured over to the canteen with my teaching assistants, to see how the school lunch children would settle. I have to say, that apart from a couple of teary faces, most did really well. Then illess kicked in around school. Children with streaming noses, and even pants being pooped in twice! I only had a couple off, over the week, but the other class was depleted from 27, to 20 by the end of the week! Elsewhere in the school, absences started, where people kept their children off with temperatures, or coughs. One of my colleagues was called as her son, in a different school, was sent home. It meant that, until he had a negative test, he couldn’t come back, so she was unable to be at school. That meant, in turn, that I was asked to spare an adult… which left us a little short. Then the nursery teacher was off, so we had to scramble to find a supply teacher. And I had to deal with a biting incident, and then a parent calling about said biting incident, and another parent calling to ask about a child in school with a runny nose… Basically, it was never-ending. I was grateful for the weekend, but rest wasn’t meant to be…
  • If we were having chai I’d tell you that, alongside the craziness of school, I was acting like a taxi service for the kids, with training or tutoring, or more training, followed by cricket matches… and a trip to Bluewater. I haven’t been there since lockdown started, and to be honest, I was a little nervous. Lil Princess had a friend who was celebrating a birthday, and there were four of them who were going to chill in the shopping centre. I had agreed to take her, as she has barely been out over the last six months, and I felt that this would be good for her wellbeing, then the cases of Covid-19 started to rise, and the talk of a possible second lockdown began. And talk of cancelling was met with sulks and moods, so I took her. And as it was Friday, I was shattered, so after a few moments of walking around, I ended up in Costa, with a huge Chai Latte and my Kindle. I was there for nearly two hours, and I tell you, I could have happily fallen asleep!
  • If we were having chai I’d update you on the house. So the front is painted. The porch is nearly complete, the downstairs bathroom is functional! The inside is being painted… The last set of wardrobes upstairs have been dismantled. My husband has more clothes than me! And he is awful at getting rid of things, too. Some of the guys doing the work are very aware of us wanting to get things done quicker, and have volunteered to work weekends, so that has been a bonus in one sense, as things will get finished sooner, but the bummer is that there is no rest time for us. There is always something that needs doing, or a room that needs clearing… hence the tiredness. Still, it’ll all be worth it in the end!

This week, the kids in my class are finally staying fulltime… let’s see how they (and we) cope!

Fingers crossed that the plumber guys will have finished, and the painters will be done, and possibly only the flooring left!

I can’t even think of anything else to focus on… life is too crazy, with school and home improvements!

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!

Spidey’s Serene Sunday – Part 289 – Exhaustipated

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“Tired, but not the kind of tired that sleep fixes.”

Maureen Johnson
Bitmoji Image

Sorry, Spidey, I wasn’t yawning at you. I’d never be that rude!

But honestly, I am reaching that level of exhaustion now, the one mentioned in the post title.

Exhaustipated.

Exhaustipated: (adj.) Too tired to give a shit.

Seriously.

I am knackered! It’s been two weeks since school started, and I’ve dealt with a whole host of things related to school, already.

We’re in week four of having builders around, so the mess is getting to me, and all the other work associated with clearing areas ready for them to work is trying to push me over the edge, too.

Ferrying kids around to appointments and training, or matches is down to me because hubby is working, and supervising the builders, whilst slowly suffering cabin fever.

I’m falling asleep almost immediately every night. I’m not sleeping past 5am.

I have no energy to read, let alone write.

Still, something’s got to give.

I can’t deal with this for much longer.

I am hoping that within two weeks, the work will all be done around the house for us. Then we can get it on the market, and start the hunt for our ‘forever home’.

School is school. It won’t go anywhere. If anything, it will get more intense, especially if we end up with local lockdowns, or a second wave. At least I have a fabulous team behind me – our Dream Team.

I’m trying hard to relax when I can, but it isn’t easy. Reading is my thing, yet I can’t stay awake for long enough. I’m making sure I have my bubble baths, though. Aand sleeping when my body says it’s had enough.

But, I’m still smiling through it all.

Because that’s what I do best.

So… tell me, how do you deal with extreme exhaustion?

Have a peaceful Sunday Peeps.  And enjoy your week!  

Chai And A Chat #100 #ChaiAndAChat #CoronaDiaries Week 24

Good morning, Peeps. Where do I start? It’s been busy for SO MANY REASONS!

You ready with your drink?

  • If we were having chai I’d start by telling you that Monday, being a bank holiday, was a lovely chilled day. No builders, no nothing. Just relaxing. But that was the calm before the storm!
  • If we were having chai I’d take a deep breath and start my recount. Tuesday was the first day at school, with the children in. Bear in mind, my class of children have never met me, or any of the staff here, never been in their classroom, some have never left their parents. Then they were sent into a classroom, no parents allowed to accompany, with a bunch of strangers, big and small. I expected mayhem. But it wasn’t as bad as all that. I have a class of 28 pupils, at the moment, all of them 4-years-old, right now. Two cried. One stopped, the other made noise continuously. I have identified my pickles, too! There are a couple. But, alongside the constant handwashing, that takes probably an hour out of our teaching day, the children, by the end of the week, settled really well. The criers were just superficially making noise for mere moments, then busying themselves. I do love them ❤
  • If we were having chai I’d mention that, I conducted my first ever observation and interview. Big thinkgs or my first week! I also dealt with being a member of staff down, due to sickness, and helped to settle some extremely distressed 3-year-olds in Nursery, too. Oh, and had to help with my old Special Needs pupil from last year, too. It was really quite packed!
  • If we were having chai I’d let you know Lil Princess and Lil Man each had one day in school, sort of an induction, to get them ready for the Monday, when everyone is back in. Lil Princess really needed it. She loved being there with all her friends, after so long, and Lil Man was glad to be back too, surprisingly!
  • If we were having chai I’d mention that we had appointments galore, too! On Wednesday, I went for my MRI scan on my knee. What a strange experience! I lay there, half in, half out of the large tunnel, with earphones on, and as the loud beeps started, they began to sound like words. Anyone else ever experienced that? I asked the nurse, who laughed, and said no one had ever said that before! All I could hear was Twit Twit Twit Twit over and over, morphing into Party Party Party Party, then Toy Toy Toy Toy, changing back to Twit… (yes, I know, I think I’m losing it!) Then on Thursday, I was meant to be leaving early to take Lil Princess for her teeth extractions, but the appointment was cancelled as the dentist was unwell. It’s been rebooked, but not until NOVEMBER! That’s a long way away. She was not impressed. For some reason, the strange girl wanted to have injections! On Friday it was the turn of Sonu Singh, to have his long awaited booster shots. The first pallaver was that I couldn’t find the door to his cat carrier. It’s hard enough to get him in there, but without a door, there would be no chance of transporting him anywhere. So I had to go and buy a new one, first, then take him. Shots given, I was told to book in for boosters in three weeks, and aa scale and polish, because he hasn’t been looking after his gums… this involves a whole day in the vets, and costs at least two hundred pounds! Oo-er!
  • If we were having chai I’d have to update you on the house. The bathroom is nearly done, I think, maybe a couple of days to go, then he can start the upstairs one. We have guys fixing the porch, and painting the exterior. The Summer house is getting a lick of new varnish. In fact, some of the guys even came on Saturday and Sunday, to get things done asap! It’s getting there…
  • If we were having chai I’d not forget to remind you that it was my birthday on Thursday. I thank you all who wished me, from the bottom of my heart ❤ We didn’t do much, due to the builders, and the fact that Lil Princess was meant to be having teeth out, and it was a school night, but I was spoilt, nonetheless, with flowers, cards and presents from faamily and colleagues. I felt very special ❤
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Thoroughly spoilt 💜🥳🙏🏽 Thank you all 💜💜💜

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  • If we were having chai I’d say that I was back to being Cricket Mum onn Saturday as Lil Man played another match. He’s enjoying playing with the Mens Vth team, as he gets to play with seasoned adults, as well as some of the youngsters, and we get to travel to some beautiful local villages, too!
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Cricket Saturday #cricket #cricketmum

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  • If we were having chai I’d sigh and say that Sunday, I needed to relax, as much as I could, to prepare myself for the coming week, so aside from talking paint, woodwork and varnish, and catching Ranjha, the boy Parrotlet, as he got out of his cage, and narrowly escaped the threat of Sonu Singh, who saw him, and wanted to play, I read a little, and had a lovely bath!

This week, my class will be staying until 2pm, and experiencing their first lunchtimes with us. This could get interesting…

I’m hoping we have a more or less completed bathroom by the end of the week, and there’s a chance the inside painters may even start too! Outside might even be finished.

Other than that, it’s just mainly surviving, and hoping my two have a good first week back to school, as well.

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!

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