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Feb 28, 2017

READER: "Out come is not the point' - Geraldine Brooks in Pulitzer Prize winning book "March"

Spotlight is my small effort to support authors in their effort to reach their readers. And yes, it is FREE,  please click here for details.
“I think we are rare creatures in that we can observe and marvel at the universe and ask questions about our purpose.  That is enough for me.” - Geraldine Brooks

I remember, when I met Geraldine Brooks at Hindu Literary Festival in Chennai for the first time, we discussed another author’s comment that the written words are not cathartic. And I was happy to note that she disagreed to it as well. I sincerely believe that what we write or read, at a very deeper level affect us and our thought process, emotions and feelings. And that’s exactly what I found while reading Geraldine’s book ‘March’ as well. 

It changed the way I thought about people I have been reading about in her book ‘March’ like Emerson, Thoreau as well as about the American Slave History. I could also relate to the storyline, as the way she structured the plot, weaving her way into past and present, is the kind of style I wrote in my book “Songs of the Mist”.

There are so many things from her book I learned, like the way she describes nature or the way she wrote about physicality of the characters, specially her characteristic style of writing about feelings, specially the erotic feelings without being sexual…

"... yet I could not let go of her. I felt like Peleus on the beach, clinging to Thetis, only to find that, suddenly, it was she who held me; that same furnace in her nature that had flared up in anger blazed again, in passion." - Geraldine Brooks in ‘March’
At the Hindu Lit festival in Chennai

But what I could relate to the most was the conclusion…

“You are not God. You do not determine the outcome. The outcome is not the point.” - Geraldine Brooks in ‘March’

Bhagavad Gita’s most famous shloka talks about that too. We are to perform our duties, act as per our nature and not worry about the fruits of our actions. And the reason, I relate to it deeply, is that in my book the Monk says the same thing to the young boy, who is running away from pain and heartbreak.

Meeting Geraldine Brooks in Chennai...
“Can you give any action more than hundred percent of your striving? If not, then why worry? You just could not give two hundred percent. So once you are done a task with your hundred percent efforts, dedication and sincerity do not worry about the result. Move on. Instead of worrying, you should focus on other actions required of you. It is in the nature of nature to provide you with the result as no action goes waste.” - The Monk in “Songs of the Mist” (Pg 154)

And as I come to the end of Geraldine Brooks book 'March', she shared an important thought and a solution, which is universal in nature as well. The following lines from her book gives me hope and happiness...

… there is only one thing to do when we fall, and that is to get up, and go on with the life that is set in front of us, and try to do the good of which our hands are capable for the people who come in our way.says the character 'Grace' in the Book ‘March’

I enjoyed meeting her and reading her book. Here is part of my interaction and some of the wonderful thoughts from her Pulitzer prize winner book ‘March’. Hope you will also enjoy reading it…

In her library
Australian-born Geraldine Brooks is an author and journalist who grew up in the Western suburbs of Sydney, attending Bethlehem College Ashfield and the University of Sydney. She worked as a reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald for three years as a feature writer with a special interest in environmental issues.

In 1982 she won the Greg Shackleton Australian News Correspondents scholarship to the journalism master’s program at Columbia University in New York City. Later she worked for The Wall Street Journal, where she covered crises in the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans. In 1990, with her husband Tony Horwitz, she won the Overseas Press Club Award for best coverage of the Gulf War. The following year they received a citation for excellence for their series, “War and Peace.”  In 2006 she was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University.

She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 2006 for her novel March. Her novels, Caleb’s Crossing and People of the Book, were New York Times best sellers. Her first novel, Year of Wonders is an international bestseller, translated into more than 25 languages and currently optioned for a TV series produced by Andrew Lincoln. She is also the author of the nonfiction works Nine Parts of Desire, Foreign Correspondence and The Idea of Home.

Brooks married fellow journalist and author Tony Horwitz in Tourette-sur-Loup, France, in 1984. They have two sons– Nathaniel and Bizuayehu–two dogs, three alpacas and a mare named Valentine. They live by an old millpond on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts and spend as much time as possible in Australia.
- Text curtsy Author's Website

I love literature; I always have.  I write first for myself--a book I would like to read.  It seems to take me about three years to write a novel, but it’s hard to say because there is a long period of thinking about a book, even while working on other projects, before one sits down to write. 

For me the challenge is to decide who tells the story, and to clearly hear that narrative voice.

With Alpacas
Animals are a very important part of enriching life for me, so we have dogs, alpacas and a horse.  I also love to cook, and adore nature, so I’m lucky to live by the sea and woods.

“I had been there, one a spring morning, wherein the fog stood so thick on the river that it looked as though the bowl of the sky has spilled all its milky clouds into the valley.”

“It is a mountebank, this river. It feigns a gentle lassitude, yet coiled beneath are the currents that have crushed the trunks of mighty trees, and swept men to swift drowning.”

“Swiftest hint of a smile I believe a human face can make - like a tic, almost -before her countenance returned its accustomed gravity.”

“Though his was the soft hand of a man unacquainted with physical labor, his grip was almost painfully firm, as if he wished to leave in no doubt of his power. It was, I thought, the overzealous handshake of a boy playing at being a man.”

View of her garden
“To me, the divine is that immanence which is apparent in the great glories of Nature and in the small kindness of the human heart.”

“But it is a hard thing when a man is ruined by the very idea that most animates him.“

“If there is one class of a person I have never quite trusted, it is a man who knows no doubt.”

“The brave man, the real hero, quakes with terror, sweats, feels his very bowels betray him, and in spite of this moves forward to do the act he dreads.”

“I now felt convinced that the greater part of a man’s duty consists in abstaining from much that he is in the habit of consuming.”

“I was overcome with a rush of confused emotion: delight at the sensation of my first kiss, mortification at my lack of restraint, desire to touch her again, to touch her all over, to lose myself in her. Alarm at the potency of my lust. And guilty awareness that I had an obscene power here. That if lust mastered me, this woman would be in no position to gainsay my desire.

“But this, also, true: I wanted her. The thought of her -arched, shuddering, abandoned - thrilled me to the core.”

“To believe, to act, and to have events confound you - I grant you, that is hard to bear. But to believe, and not to act, or to act in a way that every fiber of your soul held was wrong - how can you not see? That is what would have been reprehensible.” And even as I said this, I knew that if I stood again in the cattle show ground, and heard him promise to go to war, I would hold my peace again, even knowing what terrible days were to follow.”

As I read her book, I realised that she has certain real life characters from the period like Emerson and Thoreau merged with fictional characters. She did explain the characterization in an endnote, but I was wondering, where one draws the line between reality and fiction. 

“I think one should probably stay within the known facts of their lives, but in a novel one has some liberty to play within these boundaries--to concoct additional dialogue true to the kinds of things they are known to have said or set down.  If one goes beyond that, I think one should change the names and then in an endnote say the character is “based on” the real person.  March is actually my second novel.  My first, Year of Wonders, has a character based on a real person, but I changed the name because I changed some facts and because we don’t have enough writings from the real man to know his mind sufficiently.  Same for my novel Caleb’s Crossing.  I kept Caleb’s real name but changed others where I changed known facts about them.” - Geraldine Brooks

She usually works at home. She moves around depending on the seasons. Mostly she works in her study but sometimes in winter, she sits in the kitchen at the table near the fireplace, and in summer in the garden under a shady apple tree.  When not working on her novels she said, tries to help her younger son, navigate the world of adolescence. 

She has just started a new historical novel set in three time periods: 1860s, 1940s and present time.

GENRE: I love all kinds of genres, including science fiction/speculative fiction. 

1. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, which is a deeply felt, gorgeously written meditation on love, family, spirituality and history.

2. Jane Austen’s Emma because it is so perfect in its portrait of a single individual in her society.


– Shashi 
CEO & Partner ICUBE Projects
Speaker | Author of “Songs of the Mist” & "Kuhase Ke Geet "
Haiku Poet | Writes India’s #1 Spiritual Blog “Shadow Dancing With Mind
(Global Ranking #36)

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

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"The Days of Abandonment' by Elena Ferrante

39th Edition of Shadow Dancing with Mind...

WELCOME 2017: 39th Edition of Shadow Dancing With Mind
As the year 2017 started with the relase of my second book ‘Kuhase Ke Geet’, sharing the first edition and 39th in the list of Shadow Dancing With Mind Edition. It has regular features like Thoughts, Reader and some great books by new authors in the Spotlight. The ‘Spotlight’ section is my small effort to support upcoming authors in their effort to reach their readers. And yes, it is FREE, however to be featured in this section, you need to go through a selection process, please click here for details.

Hope you will enjoy the edition, please do write to me, in case you would like to suggest, advice or discuss on the thoughts I have put up in the posts…


“Violence is as Hindu as curry” - Wendy Doniger writes in her book “On Hinduism” and goes on to add that the “Classical Hindu India was violent in politics (she forgets to mention that India was the only country which never waged war towards any other country in its history), … etc. but I just couldn't stop laughing when she says that perhaps at the very heart of it (Hindu Violence) is climate, with its un-durable heat and unpredictable monsoon…
Though I have other issues with her, including her sad interpretations of Vedic Scriptures, I will go on to other examples how our ancient Vedic currency is being short changed by supposedly great intellectuals…

Many of our decision that we take have its roots in the evolutionary process of mankind. Especially when it comes to how we react emotionally in our romantic relationships. I believe that we are designed to be one partner person rather than the most prevalent supposition that we are there to spread our genes and increase the robust gene pool for the species to survive…

When I read the news of Anwesha’s discovery about the power of Pranava Naad ‘Om’, I felt that all is still not lost in India in context of our ancient culture and heritage. In my earlier post on Creation: The Big Bang and the eternal sound ‘OM’, I had signed off with the following words…
“We live our life in the steps, not at the end. When the time is right, we will find our space in universal design. That space is the reality of our consciousness; rest is layers upon layers of memories, desires, and insecurities of mind…

In the beginning the river Ganges is so swift and fast that nothing much remains same on her way over a period. It carves its way out of the mountains and forests and reaches the sea to submerge. That is the way we begin our life too. In our childhood, we are full of energy and as we reach the end, we become sluggish and powerless….

As we take tentative steps of living day to day, we forget to realise that without a sense of belongingness, kindness towards all that we have been blessed with and inner flowering of love, it just brings us closer to an end....

The most awaited event of the new year for me, since last few years, has been Hindu Literary Festival which comes to a close today. This year too, it brought me in touch with wonderful writers from across the world. The interaction with humble Markus Zusak - Author of the book 'The Book Thief', unassuming and prolific Author Shashi Tharoor - who could produce a well researched book on British Colonialism, based on his viral video. The  wonderful sessions of many authors and commentators, I attended was absolutely enlightening. Spending some time with Pulitzer Prize winner Geraldine Brooks, getting to know her thoughts and ideas, meeting my old friend and mentor Timeri N Murari as well as some friends from Chennai Blogger's Club added an extra interest to the festival.

Spotlight is my small effort to support upcoming authors in their effort to reach their readers. And yes, it is FREE, however to be featured in this section, you need to go through a selection process, please click here for details.

Please click on the books below to read more…

1. ‘The OtherSide of HIm’ - Alice Rene (Action Thriller)
2. ‘TheResurrection of Evil’ - Neelabh Pratap Singh
3. ‘Mock, Stalk& Quarrel' - A collection of satirical tales edited by Indrani Ganguly
4. ‘TheHappiness Switch' by Christine Ellis
5. ‘PIGMENT -The Limbs of the Mukuyu Tree’ by Renée Topper
6. ‘Seven ElevenForgotten and Other Stories’ by Barnaby Hazen - Literary Fiction
7. ‘Through theMind’s Eye: A Journey of Self-Discovery’ by J.P. Willson - Self Help
8. ‘TJ’s LastSummer in Cape Cod’ by Garfield Whyte - Coming of Age

9. ‘BrokenShadows’ by Tarek Refaat - Suspense & Thriller

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

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38th Edition                   

SPOTLIGHT: A Handful of Destiny by Tony Nash

Spotlight is my small effort to support upcoming authors in their effort to reach their readers. And yes, it is FREE, however to be featured in this section, you need to go through a selection process, please click here for details.
“Certain facts from history often make me want to explore the personalities involved and their possible motivation. " - Tony Nash

Anthony Frederick Nash (Tony Nash used as author name) is a dreamer, who dreams through the medium of research into ancient happenings and incidents. Having written 28 books, the dream is still alive and that’s also the reason for publishing this book - his interest in his ancestors. He researched them back to 1648, and on the way he found out that at about that time there were two brothers farming an estate. One stole everything he could lay his hands on and went off to America, leaving his brother almost destitute. That is the happening that triggers all the fictional subsequent action in the book.

‘From Heaven to Hell via the First Fleet’
The legal system of the late eighteenth century, when hundreds of innocent people are being sentenced for crimes they have not committed, many to death, claims another victim. Talented but poor Norfolk farmer Thomas Nash is impatient for Michaelmas 1786, when he will pay his benevolent mentor, Lord Rainforde, the final instalment on an 85-year-old loan and restore his family’s fortunes, but Fate is laughing in the wings.

Lord Rainforde is murdered and his title usurped by his illegitimate nephew, Silas, who desires Thomas’ land, and on that Michaelmas Day, so eagerly looked forward to for so long by Thomas and his wife, their lives are shattered as they are arrested on trumped up charges, leading to conviction and transportation to New Holland on the infamous First Fleet.

The dire suffering on that voyage, in ships unsuited to the task and with motley crews who have never before sailed to those waters and have no idea of the diabolical dangers awaiting them, is only the beginning of the convicts’ troubles. Not content with their disgrace and banishment, Silas Rainforde has sent men to kill Thomas and Martha, to ensure that they can never attempt to reclaim their land.

Flogged mercilessly by those men and told he is being taken away to die, Thomas, with nothing to lose, dives overboard from a moving ship into shark infested waters in a desperate attempt to escape, but falls foul of his pursuers and is wounded by gunfire and horribly disfigured by fire.

With the help of an aborigine he has previously befriended he escapes into the outback, where he joins a band of aborigine women whose men folk have died from the smallpox epidemic, brought to their country by the newcomers…

He has written 28 novels in four years; He has enjoyed playing almost every game that exists; he catches over 300 trout every year: He had many different occupations: navigator, ocean yacht skipper; butcher; spy; professional stalker; antique restorer and French polisher; antique dealer; bespoke furniture maker; language teacher; driving instructor; radar and radio intercept operator; international rally driver; photographer; dog trainer etc.
He is also a keen gardener, designed and created his own back yard. He lives in Norwich, Norfolk - England

My inspiration to write comes from the ideas for plots that come to me at the strangest moments, often when I am semi-somnolent. Also, certain facts from history often make me want to explore the personalities involved and their possible motivation. I have used such facts to a great extent in my war books: ‘A Handful of Courage’ and ‘No Tears Tomorrow’, as well as in ‘A Handful of Destiny’.

The biggest challenge in writing the book was the amount of research required. Every historical particular I have included is accurate, including the 18th century Aborigine words used, which are different to the modern words.


1. “…the bucolic farmer, who loved every moment of that life; the feel of the plough handles jerking under his hands as he breathed the faint, vinegary, damp smell of his old horse pulling it; … the smell of new mown hay, of cider fermenting, of the blooms of the rambler roses that grew outside the front door and of brimstone during a thunderstorm.”

2. “For seventeen days and nights, ferocious storms in the Roaring Forties had the decks of all the vessels under water throughout the twenty-four hours of each day, and the salt water, which reached every nook and cranny… on the few occasions that the salt dried, it itched worse than the lice…”

3. “Martha turned her back to hide the fierce love pain that pierced her heart, tears springing to her eyes. Thomas was alive and safe. How long had Arthur known, she wondered, and why had Thomas not wanted to see her? Could he not know that she would love him no matter how disfigured he might be? Did he no longer love her?
She wondered how she could possibly hide from Arthur the knowledge and the joy that the only man she could ever truly love was alive. Not only alive, but nearby.”

4. “Is there any one thing that could make it more complete for you, Martha?’
She smiled, ‘It was perfect. The only thing that could is impossible even for my wizard of a husband.’
‘And that is?’
‘For a sight of my first-born.’
‘But he is in England.’
She sighed heavily, ‘Yes, indeed.’
He turned and held his hand over his eyes, looking down the hill into the descending dusk. ‘Perhaps if your wizard should wave his magic wand?’ He waved both arms as if signaling with semaphore.
She followed his gaze.
Approaching fast was a lone horseman, spurring his mount urgently up the hill towards the house…”

Tony believes that in publishing a book, there is some ego involved: the wish to be a successful author. But that takes a second place to the main reason he writes and publishes his books.
Art seems to be in me, wanting to get out.” - Tony Nash

At first, for him it was music; he taught himself music and to play the piano, and then the electronic keyboard. Then he began to write music. After that it was oil painting. He did, around forty years ago, write two books, for which he tried to find a publisher, but then went on to writing television plays for five years, giving up only when a local television producer he met at a party told him that she read all the plays submitted to our local studio, including his. She said, ‘we are the smallest TV company in the UK and we receive five hundred plus plays per month. We put on one half-hour play per month. The BBC receives something like twenty thousand. You can do the math.’

Breaking into the big-time with books is even harder. With a million n new books published every year, the odds are greater than winning the lottery.” - Tony Nash

Even then, Tony says that if some one close to him like his daughter or wife (though they are delighted that he writes), he would refuse. He thinks he would explode with the numerous ideas that continually pour from his imagination. In any case, he would become far less animate being if he stops to write.


I survived a boating accident, where the boatman drowned and I was in 3.5C water for five minutes short of two hours, being described as a ‘walking miracle by the doctors, since they insisted that no one lives beyond ten minutes is such temperature. It took three days to bring my body temperature back to normal. I have been within an inch of death on twenty-three occasions, including shark attack.

My two greatest achievements are the gaining of the Honours Degree after five years of solitary study, and living through that boating accident (from which I was saved by my guardian angel, for the fourth time)

GENRE: Murder Mystery
For many years, I have made a deep study of forensic medicine, and with that genre I can include much of what I have learnt, lending authenticity and originality to the novels. Of my own books, the two I love most are ‘Murder on Tiptoes’, which introduced my first detective, Tony Dyce, a thoroughly nice guy, and ‘Carve Up’, which brings to life my second, John Hunter, a flawed, brasher model.

My favourite author is Dick Francis, whose books appear so simply written, and yet are magic to read. I try to emulate his style. If I had to nominate books by other authors, they would include any by Wilbur Smith or Clive Cussler, some of Patricia Cornwell’s and some of Kathy Reichs, but I love all forms of literature and have read two books a week for all my life, including early German, French and Spanish works.

TO BUY HIS BOOK “A Handful of Destiny” … CLICK HERE

– by Shashi 
CEO & Partner Interior Contracts Firm ICUBE Projects
Speaker | Author of “Songs of the Mist” & "Kuhase Ke Geet "
Haiku Poet | Writes India’s #1 Spiritual Blog “Shadow Dancing With Mind
(Global Ranking #36)

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

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'Death Desire Destiny' - Junliette Power  |   Biographies by Mary Feliciani

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