Archive for ‘Questions and Answers’

2018, May 11

Fiction Blog Tour: Louisiana Catch by Sweta Vikram

Today’s blog post is a stop on Sweta Vikram’s Fiction Blog Tour run by Poetic Book Tours.

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I wanted to read Louisiana Catch, because it seemed like a great book to read where the issues of abuse, grief and personal growth and transformation are well-detailed within a story line. The book didn’t fail to provide just that!

As is with many of the books I read, after starting to read I began to see similarities between Ahana and myself. In today’s World, it is all too easy and almost a given one experiences abuse, in some form or other, on a daily basis. Verbal abuse, raunchy humor, mean comments, e-mails and the alike come to mind off the bat.

Some may say that the novel’s ending is predictable, or that something gets lost in cliches, but I can only imagine since it is so difficult in real-life to navigate the above mentioned, the range of emotions Ahana must’ve felt when faced/being stuck with abuse and topping it off with the loss of her mother.

Moving on is difficult, and you feel like there is no escape. There won’t be sunny days anymore even if you’re already got sunburn for the third time this year. Something as simple as looking out the window can feel daunting and you might close your eyes every time you walk past your bedroom curtain from a certain angle. Even simply talking about such things is difficult, because most of the time we don’t have people around us who truly understand, not having gone through the same experiences.
Grief is personal, and this novel helped me navigate some of mine.

I believe that this novel shows us, in Ahana, a woman who dares to take charge of her own life. We take so many things for granted in the communities we live, we don’t think of other cultures. And we also don’t think much of abse happening in our own homes if it’s not happening to us. I believe that the story here would make people think of who they are letting into their lives, and who they let close enough to hurt them.

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Ahana, a wealthy thirty-three-year-old New Delhi woman, flees the pain of her mother’s death and her dark past by accepting a huge project in New Orleans, where she’ll coordinate the Annual Women’s Conference to raise awareness around violence against women. Her half-Indian, half-Irish colleague and public relations guru, Rohan Brady, who helps Ahana develop her online presence, offends her prim sensibilities with his raunchy humor. She is convinced that he’s a womanizer. Meanwhile, she seeks relief from her pain in an online support group, where she makes a good friend: the mercurial Jay Dubois, who is also grieving the loss of his mother. Her work in the U.S. and the online medium brings the two men into her life, and Ahana learns that neither is what he seems. With their differing sensibilities on a collision course, Ahana finds herself in a dangerous situation—and she discovers a side of herself that she never realized she had.

Louisiana Catch is an emotionally immersive novel about trust and who we project ourselves to be in the world. It’s a book about Ahana’s unreliable instincts and her ongoing battle to determine whom to place her faith in as she, Rohan, and Jay shed layers of their identities.

As Ahana matures from a victim of domestic sexual abuse into a global feminist leader, she must confront her issues: both with the men in her life and, ultimately, with her own instincts. Whom can she rely on to have her best interests at heart?

Published this April by Modern History Press, you can find Sweta Srivastava Vikram’s 268 pages long book, Louisiana Catch, on GoodReadsAmazonBarnes & Nobleand Powells.

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Louisiana Catch is a triumph. In Ahana, Sweta Vikram has created an unforgettable character, strong, wise, and deeply human, who’ll inspire a new generation struggling to come to terms with their identity in a world of blurring identities.”  Karan Bajaj, New York Times bestselling author, The Yoga of Max’s Discontent

“In Louisiana Catch, Sweta Vikram brings life to complex human rights issues of violence against women. Through one woman’s journey to make sense of and ultimately heal, Vikram shows us that yoga can reconnect us to ourselves and that by empowering others we transform our own lives.”  – Zoe Lepage, Founder, Exhale to Inhale

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More about the author:

Sweta Srivastava Vikram is a best-selling author of 11 books, a wellness columnist, and a mindfulness writing coach.  Featured by Asian Fusion as “one of the most influential Asians of our time,” Sweta writes about women, multiculturalism, and identity. Her work has appeared in The New York Times and other publications across nice countries and three continents. Louisiana Catch (Modern History Press 2018) is her debut U.S. novel.

Born in India, Sweta grew up between the Indian Himalayas, Northern Africa, and the United States collecting and sharing stories. Exposure to this vast societal spectrum inspired her to become an advocate for social issues and also to get certified as a Holistic Health Counselor. In this avatar, Sweta is the CEO-Founder of NimmiLife through which she helps people elevate their productivity and creativity using Ayurveda and yoga. A certified yoga teacher, Sweta also teaches yoga and mindfulness to female survivors of rape and domestic violence. She lives with her husband in New York City.

To find out even more and keep up with her writing, visit Sweta Vikram’s website, or follow her on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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2018, March 16

Six Reasons to Smile – Winter 2017/2018

This is my fourth blog post in the “Six Reasons to Smile” series.

Winter was more 2018 than 2017, but hey, it’s a pretty season anyways, right? I was incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity of taking a longer period off from work during the holidays. I got to finally adjust better to my surroundings and all the new situations in my life, to mindfully rest and decompress even though I was still very much active physically.
I wasn’t as much into the whole holiday festive season as I usually am, but I made it work. The highlight of my Winter was definitely the trip to Skopje, Macedonia we took with my boyfriend. We just had the best time!

On the other hand, I am posting this in March because Winter decided to give it another go in my country. While schools were closed for a few days last week, and national roads were closed off to traffic, here in my city we enjoyed a beautiful chill Winter scene with snow-globe-like snowfall, chilly-yet-lovely and crisp weather. I went to the ice skating rink two more times before the season ended. Actually, I went nearly every week this Winter and I called that me-time my ice skate dates with myself.

I walked my usual running routes in a pretty Winter setting and loved every second of it! While on such a walk near my home the other day, I even discovered, after three and a half years living in this town, that one of the churches bells sing Ave Maria.

Here are the reasons I smiled this Winter:

Did you smile a lot this Winter? This month? What were your reasons? In case you’ve also captured them on camera, I’d love to see!

2018, January 19

Every Day Matters

After a very nice holiday trip to Skopje, Macedonia, I came home to my diary and started planning my 2018. A dear friend of mine sent me the “Every Day Matters”  illustrated holistic diary created by Dani DiPirro of Positively Present for Christmas.

I suspect my friend thought of this, because on the one hand I’ve been quite depressed for the better half of 2017 after our dear sweet kitten died and pretty much felt like none of my days mattered. (I feel so blessed to have someone like her in my life. Thank you, Trisha!)
On the other hand, she also knows I’ve followed Dani’s 30 day photo challenges yearly since 2011. (Those photo challenges even prompted me to start a photo challenge of my own.)

As it says in the description if it, “the planner not only has plenty of space for daily planning, but also offers inspiring advice on how to make each and every day really matter.” I am looking forward to it being a resource for enriching my daily life, guiding me through a journey of awareness and fulfillment as I’ll go about my everyday activities. Who knows? This might just be the diary/planner I fully fill out.
I’ve only been that disciplined with one other planner thus far in the 30 years of my existence.

For today, I thought to share a list with you. The theme for January is Openness, and the prompt for the first week of the month is a suggestion to write a list of five feel-good surprises from last year. I feel that so much of last year has been spent in grief I definitely didn’t pay much attention to letting happiness find me. It was actually hard to think of five things. I like that this comes first in the planner.

Five feel-good surprises from 2017:

  1. A phone call my boyfriend received to pick up his diploma, which led to us taking a trip to pick it up around my birthday.
  2. Google Maps taking us the wrong way during a road trip, but leading to the most scenic ride through the forest.
  3. Receiving a bike for my birthday – I’ve wanted to buy myself one for the past five years at least, but never got around to it.
  4. Out of a five-people team, being the only one asked to hand over her project work in person at the client’s site in the UK.
  5. Receiving the out-of-the-blue gift that included my Christmas present, this diary.

Now I’m wondering, what was your 2017 like overall? And what are your five feel-good surprises from last year? Do share in the comment section below!

2018, January 5

My 2017 in books

In 2017, I challenged myself to read 25 books and made it one book past that, to 26 instead. It was a true challenge as unexpected circumstances got me depressed and in no mood to do anything, let alone sit down and read. So what I did read was both for fun and for work and barely anything stands out.

The total page count comes to 4417, with the longest book being “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferris at 707 pages.

My top favorite reads of 2017 are:

  • “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert – I loved my friend Janel Gradowski’s, “Facing your fears”guest blog post inspired by “Big Magic” so much, that I looked forward to reading the book last year. I actually received it for my birthday in May 2016, except in Romanian which I didn’t care for, so it was really great to finally dive into it in English. I can honestly say I loved the book and Janel’s impressions of it are so very true.
  • “House Sitting Secrets Revealed: Learn to excel at house sitting from a successful full-time house sitter” by Crystal Gabrielle – This is one very long title, but I absolutely adored the book. I have a friend who house sits on a regular basis and I’ve been asking her questions sometimes, and have to admit was at times jealous of her being able to visit so many nice places and explore those cities while she’s house sitting. I loved the book because it explains so well what house sitting means, it is full of examples, resources and of truly great tips and advice drilling down to the specifics for those who wish to pursue this as a side-hustle or even as a full-time endeavor, while still remaining an easy read.
  •  “That Was the Year” by Jenny Bravo – I looked forward to reading the newest novel in the TATM series which I bought right after it was published in December 2016. It took me back to my younger years, it was a somewhat frenetic read, but a good read about friendship with romance thrown in, which is how life turns out to be so often.

Below is a print screen of all the titles I’ve read last year. Take a look, and check out the list itself on Goodreads. Who knows, you might see something you’d also like to read.

Now, please let me know in the comments below how many books you’ve read this past year? And what are your favorite reads for 2017 (or previous years)? Don’t hold back, I always love a good book recommendation!

I am challenging myself to read 25 books in 2018. Here’s hoping it’ll be much easier than it was last year.

Here’s to a great 2018, filled with lots of reading!

2017, December 1

Curious Holiday List time

As I did when first introducing this cute little idea-book years ago, I’ll share one of the list titles from the book and the content I came up with. Then, You let me know in the comment section what Your lists would look like.

I opened the book to page 109 and then chose the upper-right title, from the chapter “Lists for Holidays”.

I really have no clue what words might actually be uttered at a Shakespeare Society holiday party, but the below were the quotes I thought of when associating Shakespeare and the holiday season.

Quotes uttered at a ‘Shakespeare Society’ Holiday Party:

  • At Christmas I no more desire a rose
    Than wish a snow in May’s new-fangled mirth;
    ~Love’s Labours Lost (Act 1, Scene 1)
  • I see the trick on’t: here was a consent,
    Knowing aforehand of our merriment,
    To dash it like a Christmas comedy:
    Some carry-tale, some please-man, some slight zany,
    ~Love’s Labours Lost (Act Five, Scene 2)
  • SLY. Marry, I will; let them play it. Is not a comonty a Christmas gambold or a tumbling-trick?
    PAGE. No, my good lord, it is more pleasing stuff.
    ~The Taming of the Shrew (Intro, scene 2)
  • Have I lived to be carried in a basket, like a
    barrow of butcher’s offal, and to be thrown in the
    Thames? Well, if I be served such another trick,
    I’ll have my brains ta’en out and buttered, and give
    them to a dog for a new-year’s gift…
    ~Merry Wives of Windsor (Act 3, Scene 5)

Our modern conception of Christmas is more tied to “A Christmas Carol”, by Charles Dickens rather than Shakespeare.

Back in the court of Elizabeth I, Christmas and New Year weren’t celebrated as we do today.
Christmas was popularized in England when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert started following many of the German Christmas traditions about 200 years after the death of Shakespeare.

Your turn. Ready? Go! :)

2017, November 10

Six Reasons to Smile – Autumn 2017

This is my third blog post in the “Six Reasons to Smile” series.

Autumn this year was marked by grief, pain stress and sickness more than anything else. At least the weather was nice. I didn’t smile a lot, so while I usually struggle to narrow things down, this time I had to really think about and dig through photos to be able to share the below six. Good thing we went on a short trip!

Here are the reasons I smiled this Autumn:

Did you smile a lot this Autumn? This month? What were your reasons? In case you’ve also captured them on camera, I’d love to see!

2017, November 3

Fall Memoir Blog Tour: The First Signs of April, A Memoir by Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe

PoeticButtonToday’s blog post is a stop on Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe’s Fall Memoir Blog Tour run by Poetic Book Tours, which began in September and lasts throughout November.

It is the first memoir book tour held by Poetic Book Tours, entitled The First Signs of April, and it is a lovely one if I may say so myself.

Mary-Elizabeth graciously accepted to write a guest post for Life’s a Stage,  and answers a couple of my questions as I was especially curious about her splitting her time between Cape Cod, Vermont, and Ireland. Read on to find out!

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Having recently sold my home, closed my psychotherapy practice, and resigned my teaching position; I boarded a plane for Ireland where I lived for one year.
It might read like the typical bucket list story of a middle-aged woman packing up and moving to a foreign country in search of a better life, but it’s not. Living in Ireland was never something I hoped to do one day before I died, not something to tick off the wish list of maybe someday events. Instead, the idea was one deeply rooted in the connection I have for the tiny town of Dingle on the southwest coast of Ireland.

It started twenty years ago on my first visit to Ireland. As the plane approached the runway I saw patchwork green fields speckled with white dots that turned into sheep as the plane came to rest on the tarmac. I noticed my body relax and soften as tears welled in my eyes. “Home,” I whispered. Something ancient stirred deep within and was awakened, a spiritual connection to the place, the history, the people.
Some have suggested perhaps a past life. Maybe. All I know is that every time I am in Ireland I have the exact same experience and I can’t explain it or even understand it. I just know I am home.

So, for one year I made my home in Dingle, Ireland. The story of that year is my next book, but it was in Dingle that I completed the First Signs of April. It was in Dingle that I rediscovered my authentic self and began to walk a different path on my life’s journey. I knew at the end of that year I couldn’t simply leave and return to the United States with only the memories to carry with me. So, I told the universe and anyone who would listen that I would return to the states and find a way to live my summers in Vermont, where I love to ride my motorcycle, my winters on Cape Cod where so many of my family and friends live, and travel twice a year to Dingle.
Choosing such a path without knowing where I would live or how I would pay my way has been and continues to be scary. I have been tempted by options offering financial security that would require living in places I don’t particularly like doing work that takes from my soul rather than feeds it, so I walked away, something most just shake their heads in disbelief about.
Sometimes, you just have to take the leap and trust that you’ll land exactly where you’re supposed to land.

It’s just a year now that I’ve been back in the States. I was able to live on Cape Cod for the winter, albeit helping to care for elderly parents. Funny how the universe delivers sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade the experiences. I lived the summer and most of the fall in Vermont where I have had an unusually long motorcycle – riding season and am about to head back to the Cape to set up my new home base in a little cottage nestled near to the sea.
I’m making it happen by finding work I enjoy and that allows for the time and space to focus more directly on writing. I am blessed in so many ways but one in particular is the gift of my willingness to take a leap without knowing the answers or outcomes, and to do it in spite of the anxiety and fear that always finds its way in.
I am beginning to understand that this is the only way for me to truly live my authentic life. It really is that simple.

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Wounds fester and spread in the darkness of silence. The swirling reds, oranges, and yellows of fall’s foliage dance alongside Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe like flames as she tears through the winding back roads of the Northeast Kingdom, Vermont. Desperate to outrun memories that flood her mind, no matter how hard she rolls her motorcycle’s throttle, she cannot escape them.

Shut down and disconnected, Briscoe has lived her life in silence in order to stay alive. Her grief is buried, and shame is the skin that wraps around her bones—but then, following the brutal murder of a local teacher, she is forced as a grief counselor to face her lifetime of unresolved sorrow. Will she finally be able to crack the hard edges of her heart and allow in the light of truth so real healing can occur?

Published by She Writes Press, you can find Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe’s 280 pages long memoir, The First Signs of April, on Amazon and on BookDepository.

More about the author:

Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe is a licensed mental health counselor currently on sabbatical from her private psychotherapy practice in northeastern Vermont. She currently spends her time between Cape Cod, Vermont, and Ireland. She has a masters degree in clinical mental health counseling from Lesley University and is a licensed clinical mental health counselor and a Certified Trauma Professional. She has been a lecturer for Springfield College School of Professional and Continuing Studies St. Johnsbury, Vermont campus. She has contributed to Cape Woman Online and Sweatpants and Coffee magazine. This is her first book.

To find out even more and keep up with her writing, visit Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe’s website, or follow her Twitter, Goodreads, or on Facebook.

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