Win-a-Book Wednesday: The Migrant Report


By Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar


Win a free e-copy of Mohana Rajakumar’s first mystery novel. All you have to do is leave a comment below telling BestSelling Reads:

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About The Migrant Report

The penalty for stealing is losing your hand. No wonder Ali can leave his wallet overnight in his office. Yet crime hovers on the fringes of society, under the veneer of utopia. Police captain Ali’s hopes of joining the elite government forces are dashed when his childhood deformity is discovered. His demotion brings him face to face with the corruption of labor agencies and also Maryam, an aspiring journalism student, who is unlike any local girl he has ever met. Ali and his unlikely sidekick must work together to find the reason so many laborers are dying. Against the glittery backdrop of the oil rich Arabian Gulf, Ali pursues a corrupt agency that will stop at nothing to keep their profits rising. As the body count rises, so does the pressure to settle the source. Can Ali settle the score before the agency strikes again?

About the author

MohanaMohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a South Asian American who has lived in Qatar since 2005. Moving to the Arabian Desert was fortuitous in many ways since this is where she met her husband, had a baby, and made the transition from writing as a hobby to a full time passion.

Her work has been published in Variety Arabia, Brownbook Middle East, Isola Magazine, AudioFile Magazine, and Society Magazine, as well as Explore Qatar, Woman Today, The Woman, Writers and Artists Yearbook, QatarClick, and Qatar Explorer. She has been a guest on Expat Radio, and was the host for two seasons of the Cover to Cover book show on Qatar Foundation Radio. She was the Associate Editor of Vox, a fashion and lifestyle magazine.

In addition to print titles, Mohana has published five e-books including a mom-ior for first time mothers, Mommy But Still Me, a guide for aspiring writers, So You Want to Sell a Million Copies, a short story collection, Coloured and Other Stories, and a novel about women’s friendships, Saving Peace, which was a semi-finalist in the Literary category of the 2012 Kindle Review of Books.

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Monday Musings: That Tricky Present Tense


by Kathleen Valentine

imagesThere has been some discussion lately about authors who write in the present tense. Traditionally books have been written in the past tense but every now and then someone will get fiesty and decide to try something new. I remember when Jay McInerny wrote Bright Lights, Big City in the second person and all the discussion that provoked. I thought I would hate it but, once I started reading, it really grabbed me. A lot of authors emulated it with less success. Lately books written in present tense have been getting a lot of attention.

They claim is that writing in present tense creates a sense of immediacy that lets the reader feel as though they are actively participating in the action. I don’t know if this is true but I will confess, I have written short stories in present tense and I did it for a reason—I wanted my characters to be able to reminisce, and by telling the story in present tense I could let them do that more clearly.

The first time I tried it was in a short story called My Last Romance. The narrator, Ruby, is a woman turning sixty who has a problem—she thought she was happy and content in her life but now something from her past has shaken her deeply. All the action takes place in the space of an hour, but in that hour she remembers who she once was and how she has changed.

The bank sign over the neon blue seagulls blinks. The day has scarcely started and already it’s past ninety. A thin, watery haze rises from the pavement making me feel like I am driving into a dream. Whose idea was it for us to live in this insufferable climate anyway? Why in God’s name did we think once we got old we would want to sweat? It boggles my mind.

I don’t even know what I am doing up at this hour. I rarely see daylight before noon. I don’t know what this strange restlessness is in me these days and it seems the only time I have to myself is while Silvio sleeps. We’ve been retired for years now but he can’t fall asleep before three in the morning. A lifetime of playing music half the night and partying the rest—in those years nobody went to bed before the sun came up. You can’t break the habits of a lifetime just because you get old.

The restlessness is tormenting me. Silvio hasn’t noticed so far. Of course Silvio not taking notice of me is nothing new. Oh, he liked my voice well enough when I started singing with the band. Almost as much as he liked my big boobs and dangerous curves. ‘I like my women like I like my cigars,’ he used to say, ‘well-packed, juicy and easy to ignite.’

That was me all right. He was the hottest dance band leader in the South when we met. The war was only a few years behind us and everyone wanted to party all night, dance till dawn and burn each other up with the kind of passion you can only find in the old records left from those days.

I liked the way that turned out so I tried it again with another short story called The Haven, about a married woman whose feelings of inadequacy led her to do something she believed was wrong but somehow it turned out for the good. Here again all the action takes place in a short period of time. She watches her husband putting their daughter to bed, recalls the events that changed both of their lives, and, with child asleep, go outside to enjoy the stars.

Sometimes I wonder who loves this story more, Rob or Lenore? I reach up and dust the tips of my fingers over the surface of the narwhal tusk and am surprised, as I always am, at how fragile it seems. Though it is Lenore’s most cherished possession she is only allowed to hold it when she is sitting in Rob’s lap. I never hold it with her. I can’t. Now it hangs here in the pristine beauty of our little daughter’s fairy princess bedroom in our estate house on the hill. But once it hung over Stash’s narrow, bachelor’s bed in the dusty, tremulous silence of the Seaman’s Haven down on the waterfront where mariners from every corner of the planet escaped for a few nights ashore away from the rugged bleakness of their solitary lives.

Rob and I had been married for fourteen years when I met Stash. I knew him for months before I found out he and Rob were related. Rob had forgotten about him until I mentioned his name over breakfast one frosty February morning.

“Stash?” Rob said with a mouthful of scrambled eggs as he looked up from his Wall Street Journal. “Stash Cizik? You’re kidding me.”

In both stories the technique worked, largely becasue the span of time covered was short. I doubt I could sustain it over an entire novel but you never know. If you have tried it let me know how it worked out.


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Monday Musings: Tricks for Writing Fight Scenes


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Monday Musings: The Author Knowledge Base

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Focus Friday: The Author Platform – A Beginner’s Guide

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