I am a traveller

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By Samreen Ahsan

The author at the Castle of the Moors, Sintra, Portugal.

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

This quote indeed fits on me as a writer. I’ve travelled to quite a few places and have incorporated them in my stories. Or, if I had wanted to add a particular place in my story setting, I try to visit it, later on, to experience it like my character. 

The CN Tower, Toronto

My first story: A Silent Prayer, a multiple award-winning romance novel is set in the city of Toronto, where I currently live. I have taken this city as an inspiration: the charming Christmas time, which I’ve always admired walking through the downtown streets, the sound of Christmas carols, the aroma of hot chocolate and lattes. I have tried to introduce the flavours and aromas of my multicultural city. 

Great Pyramids and Sphinx, Giza, Egypt

Since childhood, I had always wanted to visit the Pyramid of Giza but never had a chance. I introduced my characters to the majestic city of Cairo first, entering through the narrow passage of the pyramid, and a provocative conversation with a four-thousand-year-old jinni. I visited the pyramids later on, after publishing the series. As intrigued as my characters, I stayed in the same hotel across the River Nile as them, and I climbed the same claustrophobic passage of the pyramid, and had the same experience as them, except for meeting the real Jinni 🙂 

I’m also an admirer of castles and palaces, regardless of their geographical locations, and stroll through them. These grand castles and palaces, where people once lived, breathed and died, have always inspired me. 

“To Travel is to Live”

Hans Christian Andersen

In my second story, Once Upon A [Stolen] Time,  which is set in both contemporary and medieval England, I have introduced a fictional Hue Castle, which is a character on its own, inspired by many different castles and palaces and the darker elements from the Beauty and the Beast. There are certain parts in the castle that I took from real European castles: some chambers, the dining hall, the Great Hall, the library and the chapel. I feel very close to my character Myra, who, like me, has wanderlust, loves visiting historical places, admires art and poetry from the past centuries and who has always wanted to live in those palaces. This same interest as my character helps me write about the things I have seen and make her experience in the same way as I did. 

Windsor Castle, England

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” —

Henry Miller

In my upcoming novel Unveiled, I have introduced the city of York, U.K. in England, which I visited during the Holiday season of 2016. I fell in love with the city and decided to add it to my next story. I didn’t have a story in my mind at the time, but I knew that whenever I’d write, I’d make my character live in York. When I travelled to Istanbul last year, in April 2018, I had a trip to Princess Island with my friends via ferry. When we headed back to Istanbul, I saw the golden hour through the ferry and wrote the ending of the novel in my mind by gazing at the sun setting down. I never knew a moment of sunset in such a crowded city of Istanbul would give me inspiration. 

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Though I write fiction, the travel experience in my books belongs to my real travel diaries. I know I can’t write science fiction in a place that doesn’t exist at all, or that is impossible to exist, such as landing on Jupiter, or some unknown planet, meeting aliens, because they can never be a part of my travel expedition. I love visiting new places, encountering different cultures, tasting different foods and walking through the passage of time.

I love to give my readers a sense of longing for a certain place, the same way I have felt after leaving those beautiful destinations.

Some travel photos

About Samreen Ahsan

History, art and literature are my passions. I love digging out information about prophecies, divine miracles and paranormal events that are mentioned in history and holy books, that don’t sound possible in today’s modern world.

Since childhood, I have been into reading and writing—and yes, it can’t happen without imagination, which luckily has no boundaries. Dance and music are also pastimes I enjoy, as well as reading romance fiction. I love to travel and explore historical cities.

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Tuesday teaser: Once Upon a [Fallen] Time

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We know, it’s not Thursday, but we’re excited about the launch today of a brand-new time-travelling paranormal romance

By Samreen Ahsan

“I asked you, Edward, have you ever had a dream?” He looked me in the eye, examining my every expression.

I sank deeper in the velvet armchair and leaned against the backrest to look up at the ceiling. “Dreams are illusive fantasies. They never come true.” I looked back at him.

He didn’t take his deadly eyes off me. “So, you have fantasies?”

“You called to interrogate me?” I asked, irritated.

He chuckled and picked up the book. “I can assure you, dreams do come true.” He opened the book and handed it to me. I looked at the book carefully; the first illuminated parchment grabbed my attention. The book was written in Latin, but I knew it was the translation of Roman de la Rose (Romance of the Rose) by Guillaume de Lorris, a French poet who had existed almost two hundred years ago. I had seen this book back when I’d been a child. I knew it had been given to my father—a gift from an English poet I had once met in my childhood.

I focused on the image, a man lying on the bed, traversing into a dream. The image was surrounded with a text and decorated initials.

“Many men say that there is nothing in dreams but fables and lies,” he watched me as he read the verses. It seemed like he had memorized it. “But many may have dreams which are not deceitful, whose import becomes quite clear afterward.”

I regarded him with a sour expression. What was he trying to imply? That he had some stupid dream, which held some significance in his life? I looked back at the parchment and focused on what he was saying before I closed the book and placed it back on the table. I didn’t want to go down this road with him.

“What is the hurry, son? Don’t you fancy a drink with your old man?” he snickered and handed me a drink in a crystal goblet. He had never spoken to me like this—in a father-son way. It had always been a king and his descendant. I took a sip and looked at him with a raised eyebrow.

“Do you know why I have called you here, Edward?” he asked, drink in his hand while he blew another puff. I waited for him to continue. “Remember I told you how hazardous a beautiful woman is?” I held my breath tightly. I had a feeling this was not going in a good direction. “She could poison our lives.” I bridled my wandering thoughts. “But…”

He stood up and walked about the darkened room. My eyes followed his haughty poise. There was something on the tip of his tongue he wanted to spill, but I didn’t know why he paused.

“But sometimes… a woman can change perspectives too.” He was walking back and forth. When he went towards his bed, I noticed his mirror was missing. Had he moved it somewhere else? He stopped walking and sat back in his chair. I looked at him, waiting for him to elaborate. “Don’t be so indifferent, son, that you don’t know what I’m talking about!”

I averted my eyes and looked towards the missing mirror, followed by the door that led to the secret spring.

“The woman…” he lit another cigar and looked at me, “that you call your captive,” he took a deep puff, “I’m trying to understand who the captive is and who the captor is here.” I threw daggers at him but held my tongue tightly. Anything I’d speak might go against her or me.

“From what I see, you didn’t even ask once if she was a peasant and you invited her to the royal table.” I moved forward while clasping my hands on my knees. “So, get to the point.”

He reciprocated my act by moving forward as well to look me in the eye.

“Didn’t you notice her?” God knew how much I noticed that woman so closely. “She is here…” he moved back and spread his arms, “in this cursed castle,” he shook his head, “and still the flowers in her hair didn’t wither.” He was completely drunk in his fascination for her. “Do you honestly think she was peasantry?” He looked agitated. “The silk she wore, and besides, do you think peasant blood is capable of bringing flowers inside this castle?” There was nothing I could say. I’d have to stick to the lies to protect her. “She is no ordinary woman, Edward.” He looked me in the eye. “The flowers on her didn’t wither. Do you know what this means?” I sod inside but tried to curb my temper. He was completely struck by her powers.

“She is a witch?” I asked hesitantly.

Once Upon a [Fallen] Time

Samreen Ahsan continues the saga that began in Once Upon a [Stolen] Time.

In Once Upon a [Fallen] Time, the past and future collide in the tale of love, obsession, betrayal and the hope for redemption.

The tortured Edward Hue, the last king in the cursed dynasty, is in deeper anguish over the woman he loves when he discovers which woman his father has chosen for him to marry.

It is available on Amazon today, May 21.

“The author’s style is magical in itself as she sets the past and present onto a direct collision course. 5-stars!”—Tome Tender Book Blog.

Once Upon a [Stolen] Time

2015…

All her life, Myra Farrow has been obsessed with medieval castles—and the kings and princes who once inhabited them. Now, wealthy videogame designer Steve Bernard wants her to model for a princess character in his new game. Myra can’t resist his offer, especially when she learns that Steve plans to film inside the mysterious Hue Castle—a cursed, barren, colorless place forbidden to visitors for centuries. But unknown to Myra, her soul is bound to Hue Castle by blood and sorcery. When she enters its doors, she awakens dark powers that will reach through time—stealing her past, torturing her present, and rewriting her future.

1415…

Edward Hue, the last of the Hue royal bloodline, has never stood in the sunshine or held a living flower. Cursed from birth to live in darkness and bring death to all he touches, he is at the mercy of his cruel, tyrannical father, who will not rest until he shatters Edward’s soul and makes his son into a diabolical copy of himself. Edward’s one hope is the mysterious woman who haunts his dreams—who will either break his curse and bring him out of the darkness, or destroy him utterly.

For Myra and Edward, past and future collide in a tale of love, obsession, betrayal, and the hope for redemption.

Find it on Amazon.

About Samreen Ahsan

History, art and literature are my passions. I love digging out information about prophecies, divine miracles and paranormal events that are mentioned in history and holy books, that don’t sound possible in today’s modern world.

Since childhood, I have been into reading and writing—and yes, it can’t happen without imagination, which luckily has no boundaries. Dance and music are also pastimes I enjoy, as well as reading romance fiction. I love to travel and explore historical cities.

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BSR Romance Month: What’s so great about romance, anyway?

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Romance is the biggest genre in publishing by a long shot. It’s as if the reading world just cannot get enough stories about love, longing, heartache, soaring joy, crushing sorrow and all the big emotions of romance.

But why? What is it about this big, yet ephemeral thing called romance? What pulls so many people from all around the world, to this genre over and over again?

BestSelling Reads asks some of its members: what’ so great about romance? And what’s wrong with it?

Mary Doyle

Author of military mysteries and urban fantasies with a strong romance current, says “The best thing about romance writing is that the fans of the genre are loyal, ravenous fans who gobble up books one after another.

“The worst thing about romance writing is that the fans know the genre so well, that if you fall back on well-known and boring tropes, they will call you on it and not in a good way. Romance fans are demanding and loyal and deserve the best a writer can create for them.”

Visit her BestSelling Reads author page.

Alan McDermott

Author of bestselling action-thrillers, says “The best thing about romance is that you can base it on your own life. You can’t always do that with action thrillers.”

Visit his BestSelling Reads author page.

Raine Thomas

Author of several series of books in which love and romance is the leading theme, mixed with sports, music or fantasy, knows a thing or two about romance.

“The best thing about romance, especially in today’s world, is it focuses on the most positive and uplifting aspects of life,” she says.

Visit her BestSelling Reads author page.

Corinne O’Flynn

Author of bestselling mysteries as well as urban and paranormal fantasies, is a strong defender of the romance genre.

“The best thing about romance is the ability it has to raise hope (with all the feels!) in just about anyone,” she says.

Visit her BestSelling Reads author page.

Samreen Ahsan

Author of bestselling and award-winning paranormal and romance novels, says “The best thing about writing romance genre is that your readers easily fall in love with your characters and wish those characters to be a part of their lives, like having a book boyfriend from your romance novel.

Visit her BestSelling Reads author page.

Scott Bury

Author of erotic romances, mysteries and fantasy, says “The bad thing about romance is that some authors—none of the members of BestSelling Reads, mind you—think that the literary rules of the romance genre is an excuse to be less than original.

“The great thing about romance is that a really good romance speaks to the most important questions in everyone’s life: who do you love and what does that make you do?”

Visit his BestSelling Reads author page.

DelSheree Gladden

This prolific author of mysteries, romance, fantasy and comedy—and some books that mix them all—says “The best thing about romance is that is reminds you of the importance of connecting with people on a deeper level.”

Visit her BestSelling Reads author page.

Toby Neal

The author of two bestselling mystery-thriller series plus a series of family romances says “The best thing about romance is that, no matter what happens, there’s a happy ending.”

Visit her BestSelling Reads author page.

Gae-Lynn Woods

The author of some dark mysteries, as well as a very funny mystery with love and relationships at the core, believes in romance. “The best thing about romance is when flawed people living flawed lives find that happiness does not depend on perfection.”

Visit her BestSelling Reads author page.

Caleb Pirtle III

Multiple award-winning and bestselling author of over 50 book, Caleb Pritle III sums it up.

“Romance is what you hope to find. Love is when you find it.”

Visit his BestSelling Reads author page.

Why do you read romance?

Do you like to read romance? Or do you avoid it like … a bad romance? Tell us why in the Comments and you’ll be entered in a draw for a free book from one of our members!

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Six reasons why you should vlog like nobody’s watching

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Monday Musings

By Corinne O’Flynn

Let talk about video blogging—vlogging. I can hear you saying to yourself, “Vlogging? What do you mean, vlogging? I am not a YouTuber… I am a writer!”
Trust me, I totally get it. But I’m here to share with you six reasons why vlogging is something you should consider adding to your author platform—even if you don’t think anyone is watching.

Vlog to become a better speaker

Even if you’re already a decent public speaker, vlogging will improve your speaking skills because it forces you to address your audience directly. When you’re vlogging, you usually have to look at the camera. Even if you’re demonstrating something with your hands, there will be (and should be) a large portion of your video that features you facing the audience. This means that while you can have notes to assist you during your talk, the medium lends itself to more conversational and natural speaking.

Vlog to become a better storyteller

When you start vlogging, you start thinking about vlogging. And when you start thinking about vlogging, you start thinking about topics and how you’re going to share them. Vlogging is done in short intervals, which requires you to be concise and stay on topic. Being able to distill your message to make it interesting and engaging is a skill that develops as you vlog. Being able to shape your message into a story will engage your audience!

Vlog to connect with your audience

Video allows your audience to see you as a real human—to truly connect. While conventional blogging is alive and well, adding video to your repertoire will bring your audience closer to who you are as a person. They see your personality, your wit, and your humor. They see how you move, they hear your voice. They see you. The reason authors have a platform is so we can connect with our audience.

Vlog to diversify content and Your Audience

People consume content online via blogs, podcasts, images, audio, and video. The more ways you have to connect with people, the more people you’ll connect with! It’s that simple. Adding vlogging to your platform will help you broaden your reach. Video isn’t going anywhere—it’s only gaining popularity.

Learn a relevant skill

Video is the present and the future. Learning to vlog is a valuable skill that will help you maintain an interesting and diversified platform to reach your readers. It is so easy to start vlogging with only a cellphone! Whether you’re reading from your own writing, talking about your process, sharing a book review, or just talking about life, your audience wants to hear from you. Why not try doing a video next time, instead of blogging?

Vlogging is fun!

When most people start vlogging, there is a lot of stress over what to wear, where to sit, how you look… but I’m here to tell you that the message is what’s most important. I used to stress about lighting and what was in the background of my videos, and what my hair looked like. But the reality is that people tune in to my videos to hear what I’m going to say. They’ve seen me vlogging from my car, from my office, all dressed up after a night out, and on days when I haven’t left the house. They’ve even seen me lounging on my couch with my dogs in front of the Christmas tree. If nothing else, vlogging has made me much more at ease with how I connect with my followers, and it’s shown me that being real on camera has made that connection deeper.

Corinne O’Flynn

Married, raising four kids, she is the founder and executive director of a non-profit organization, and a professional napper. She also serves on the board for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (RMFW).

You can check out all of her books on her website or on Amazon.

Anyone interested in staying connected can sign up for her emailsWhether you’re a fan of mystery or fantasy stories, or a fellow busy human looking for ways to build your own productivity systems, Corinne O’Flynn invites you to join her as she shares what she learns on her adventures.

“I believe in doing things with intention, and making sure those intentions are good. :)”

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