In the company of other authors

Me and the Book Divas!
Me and the Book Divas!

Today I had my first book event with the Book Divas on Tour (https://www.facebook.com/BookDivasOnTour) at the Barber Lounge (https://www.facebook.com/TheBarberLoungeForMen) in Waldorf, Maryland. The first thing that comes to mind is wow. What a wonderful whirlwind of an evening at a great event’s venue. For an hour or so, the four of us read pieces from our books and told our stories about how we became writers. Since I stayed in town for the event tonight, I will have to wake up at 4am tomorrow to fly to Cincinnati, but this experience was completely worth it.

Since this was my first book event, I didn’t really know how it would feel – being up in front of a room of people talking about myself and my book. Part of me was nervous, the other part was excited. Doing a book event gave me the opportunity to really “come out” as an author in front of an audience that I had never met before, with the exception of my always supportive husband. I am so grateful to the Book Divas for bringing me to one of their events. I had an absolute blast and cannot wait to do this again. While I enjoyed talking about myself and my book, being in the company of other authors adds so much to the experience. We can feed off of each other’s energy and engage with ourselves and the audience in a way that would not be possible if we were up there by ourselves.

B Swangin Webster put it best when she said earlier tonight that as authors, we need to be around other authors. For most people, it isn’t normal to be able to think, feel like, and for moments, to really be characters in each of my stories. Since I started writing a couple of years ago, I haven’t met that many other writers until recently when I became more involved with the Maryland Writers Association. Now after being around that atmosphere, I realized something that I have really been missing. That isn’t to say that my non-author friends and family haven’t been incredibly supportive of my writing. They have and I continue to rely on them every day. But being around people who know in depth about all of the angst and exhilaration that goes along with writing and then publishing a book has a special place in my life now. Meeting the Book Divas was like finding three kindred spirits all in one. I look forward to many more wonderful events with them and all of the other authors that I will most certainly meet going forward. We have so much to share and learn from each other as our lifelong journey starts and continues.

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Learn more about me at my website www.pujaguha.com.
Sign up for my newsletter for a free ebook, contests and more!

My first novel AHRIMAN: THE SPIRIT OF DESTRUCTION (Book I of The Ahriman Legacy) is available as an ebook at all major retailers and a paperback at Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00L1ISEUS.

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Excited about my first book event tomorrow

Tomorrow I’ll be doing an event with the Book Divas
(https://www.facebook.com/BookDivasOnTour) at the Barber Lounge for Men in Waldorf, Maryland.

I’m pumped for my first book event and excited that I get to be a Guest Diva! The event is a wine tasting with a discussion on each of our books and writing. Anyone who is close by (or not), would love it if you can make it.

Barber Lounge for Men
3515 Stone Commons Place
Waldorf, MD
6:30-8:30pm

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Learn more about me at my website www.pujaguha.com.
Sign up for my newsletter for a free ebook, contests and more!

My first novel AHRIMAN: THE SPIRIT OF DESTRUCTION (Book I of The Ahriman Legacy) is available as an ebook at all major retailers and a paperback at Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00L1ISEUS.

The meaning of debauchery

Last week, one of you commented asking me to elaborate on the term “debauchery”, which I used in a previous post (https://pujaguha.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/each-of-us-can-have-multiple-lives-if-we-choose/). I’ve been struggling intermittently today, trying to think about what I would say about this. The celebration of my friend’s wedding reception in East Germany certainly contained an element of this, along with a spectacular dinner and an evening of dancing.  Instead of providing a detailed account of this, I thought it would be more interesting to discuss the meaning of the word and the nuances that I believe make it far more interesting than the superficial definition.

In most contexts, debauchery is considered a negative term. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary describes it as “bad or immoral behavior that involves sex, drugs, alcohol, etc.” While I do not believe that ‘regular’ encounters with debauchery are a good idea, I would have to disagree with the largely negative connotations that the dictionary brings to light. Debauchery, like all things, can be a blessing if kept in moderation. Who hasn’t enjoyed an evening where they really let loose and had a few extra drinks? Drugs are a little more murky because of the immediate effects that some of them can have but I believe that most drugs fall outside the bounds of moderation.

With every technological invention from the computer to the smartphone, the world around us has started to move faster and faster. The confines and the pressure that this atmosphere creates can often use an outlet. For some people, that outlet is extremely productive — they focus on the gym or some other form of exercise. Taken to excess though, even that can lead to injury. Given all of this pressure, why does relaxing into a bit of debauchery have such a negative connotation? Perhaps the answer is that we are afraid of what we might do under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Certainly, the filter that protects us from succumbing to our each and every whim goes away, but that in itself may be the answer. The best part of debauchery is pushing a little past your limits. Maybe that means a few extra crazy dance moves or a hangover in the morning but as long as the release does not occur all the time, I believe that the debauchery itself is healthy for the mind, the spirit and the soul. Last night I went out for a glass of wine instead of spending my evening working. I arrived in Cincinnati for a new project and there was most certainly work left to be done when I stepped out to enjoy the music playing on Fountain Square. I had to wake up early to finish up what I had planned and I was a bit groggy as a result, but I needed that break. Obviously a glass of wine is a fairly mild engagement with debauchery but for a lightweight on a Sunday night, you would be surprised how giggly I felt afterward! I kicked myself a couple of times for it today since I’ve been running behind, but in reality I know that going out and being social last night was exactly what I needed. Since the only price I am paying for it is going to bed a little bit later today, that isn’t much compared to the emotional release that I got from enjoying the last part of my Sunday night. I intend to keep enjoying occasional moments of debauchery to feed my soul. So long as they aren’t in excess, I am not really worried about the negative connotations of the term.

Please post your thoughts into the comments below or email me at pujaguha@pujaguha.com. I would love to hear about your own experiences and am happy to share more details about my own if you would like.

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Learn more about me at my website www.pujaguha.com.
Sign up for my newsletter for a free ebook, contests and more!

My first novel AHRIMAN: THE SPIRIT OF DESTRUCTION (Book I of The Ahriman Legacy) is available as an ebook at all major retailers and a paperback at Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00L1ISEUS.

Each of us can have multiple lives if we choose

Last week I went to the lovely wedding of two friends (Sindy and Ciden) in a village in East Germany called Tobertitz outside of the town of Plauen. After a lovely ceremony, we moved over to an old barn down the street that they had rented out for an evening of dinner, dancing, and to some degree, debauchery.

While at the party afterward, I met a friend of theirs (Handi) who said something interesting to me. I don’t exactly recall how we got started on this conversation, but what he said resonated with me enough that I’m still thinking about it. He said that he doesn’t agree with the saying that “You only live once.” I asked him why and he responded that we can live multiple ‘lives’, meaning that if the one that we are currently living does not make us happy, then we can change it and start a new life. He gave me an example from his own life about how he used to be the owner and manager of a number of entertainment businesses, which, while successful, were eating into all aspects of his life. After a wake up call from his personal life, he decided to refocus his life on what actually made him happy and has now moved completely out of those businesses and is going back to school to study real estate.

When I heard his story, I responded by saying that in my understanding, the saying “You only live once” is meant as a justification for his exact point of view – because you only live once, you should not waste time living the kind of life that does not make you happy. Once I explained it in that sense, he agreed with me, and I cannot agree more with the main theme underlying that saying. Of course, I don’t mean that it should be used as a catch all phrase to simply make people feel better about taking unnecessary risks, but I do believe that many people I know spend their professional lives at jobs that they hate and never allow themselves to pursue what they actually want to be spending their time on.

I used to be one of them. Before I discovered writing, and especially after I had the idea for my first book, but prior to disciplining myself to actually write it, I was right there with them. Hearing about what Handi had been through to change his own life, reminded me of that experience. I had a life that I wasn’t happy with. While there was nothing in particular that was wrong with it – I had a good job and good friends – I didn’t feel like it fit with who I was. Or perhaps, more accurately, that I did not fit into the mold that it had created for me. Finding a mold that I did fit into was not an easy process, but it was worth every moment of sweat and tears that went into it, and I’m sure that Handi, along with many others, would agree with me. For those of you who have found a mold that fits who you are, revel in it, because while we may have forgotten the travails that it took to get there, that mold is not easy to come by. And for those of you who haven’t yet found it, don’t give up. When you get there, it will be well worth it.

Please post your thoughts into the comments below or email me at pujaguha@pujaguha.com. I would love to hear about your own experiences and am happy to share more details about my own if you would like.

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Learn more about me at my website www.pujaguha.com.
Sign up for my newsletter for a free ebook, contests and more!

My first novel AHRIMAN: THE SPIRIT OF DESTRUCTION (Book I of The Ahriman Legacy) is available as an ebook at all major retailers and a paperback at Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00L1ISEUS

Jealous of my novel’s heroine (Part 2)

A couple of weeks ago I posted on the breathtaking July 14th fireworks show that I watched in Paris at the Eiffel Tower. Since it was too difficult to take a video of it myself, I wanted to add the official youtube link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7eYp0j01MQ.

This firework show epitomizes the deep appreciation for fine arts that characterizes every street corner in Paris. I am currently writing Book II of The Ahriman Legacy, and first part of the story takes place there amidst this vibrant atmosphere. The heroine, Petra Shirazi, is living there under a cover identity when she is drawn back into the spy world. As I am writing the scenes of Paris at the moment I remain exceedingly jealous that she is able to live in such a wonderful and beautiful city. For now I have to be content with moments left to the imagination and what I can create on the page.

My earlier post on this subject is available here: https://pujaguha.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/falling-in-love-with-paris-once-again/

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Learn more about me at my website www.pujaguha.com.
Sign up for my newsletter for a free ebook, contests and more!

My first novel AHRIMAN: THE SPIRIT OF DESTRUCTION (Book I of The Ahriman Legacy) is available as an ebook at all major retailers and a paperback at Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00L1ISEUS 

The miracle of human resilience

Once again it’s time for my weekly Monday posting and I find my thoughts dwelling deeply on what I saw this afternoon. I spent the day walking around Frankfurt after a few hours of working on my sequel to AHRIMAN: THE SPIRIT OF DESTRUCTION in the morning. Tomorrow I head back home to DC and so today was the last day of my writing vacation – a couple of weeks that I spent in Europe for bits of work and bits of pleasure, along with focusing on my writing more than anything else and seeking out inspiration from the places I’ve been visiting. Over this trip, I visited Paris, London, Hamburg, a small town in East Germany called Plauen, and finally Frankfurt on my way back home.

My week in Germany has included lots of aimless wandering and exploring of the different cities I’ve been in. During this time, I have noticed again and again the contrast of the old church that I can recognize from visiting other places in Europe next to a building that is most certainly “new” but built in an older style. I knew the reason for this, but the reality still amazed (and amazes) me. During World War II so many of Germany’s prettiest spots were destroyed by air raids, and yet the facades now stand again, resilient and strong. Below are two aerial shots of the area around the Frankfurt Cathedral which was completely destroyed. The only reason that the church remained standing is that it was used as a landmark for allied forces’ pilots to ensure their position was accurate. According to a friend that I met today at dinner, this is the reason that most of the large churches in Germany were able to withstand the war.

Frankfurt ruins-p1  Frankfurt ruins 2

The current view is much more pleasant, with the entire old city rebuilt around the Cathedral. I’ve attached a black and white photo below so that you can really see the difference between the two shots.

Frankfurt now

Being able to feel the extent of the reconstruction in person gives me a new appreciation for the power of human resilience. My experience today also reminded me of a quote from the first Captain America movie: “…the first country that the Nazis invaded was their own.” I may be a nerd for quoting Captain America, but this quote resonated for me every time I looked at a reconstructed building during my time in Germany.  Such is the power of human resilience. If so many cities could be reconstructed from rubble, and this country could rejuvenate itself so well, then perhaps there is a lesson for all of us to draw as individuals? I’m sure that at different points in our lives, we have lost faith in our ability to move past and recover from difficult times. But here, in a place that had lost so much but has managed to rebuild in spite of the scars, there is evidence for all of us. A year ago I was struggling with my writing process. Over a few weeks I had barely written a word of a new book which I’ve now completed (currently in editing stages). I was frustrated and sad and I’m sure that I took it out on my loved ones. When I look back now I know that I have come so far. The most important part of that was realizing that I needed to write in order to be happy, and the rest was more procedural – what kind of discipline I should set for myself and how best to enforce it. So far, I have succeeded although I will continue to refine my process over the rest of my life. Getting to this point was something of a struggle, but that does not even come close to the type of recovery that is possible – the type of recovery that I could see in every German city that I visited this week. No matter the challenge, it lies within our power to recover. We do not need to forget the past to move forward; rather we can remember it and honor it, but recover nonetheless.

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Learn more about me at my website www.pujaguha.com.
Sign up for my newsletter for a free ebook, contests and more!

Check out my first novel AHRIMAN: THE SPIRIT OF DESTRUCTION, available as an ebook at all major retailers and a paperback at Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00L1ISEUS