Who’s That Indie Author? Ritu Bhathal

Author name:  Ritu Bhathal

Genre:  Chickpea Curry Lit – Chick Lit with an Indian Twist!

Books:  Marriage Unarranged, Poetic RITUals

What’s your story and how did you become a writer?  What is my story, indeed. I am a British born Indian woman, born to Kenyan born Indian parents who moved to the UK in the seventies from Kenya. I was born in Birmingham, in the Midlands, and was raised with a massive extended family around me. After school, I went to university to study to become a teacher, my dream since I was seven. Along the way, I developed a passion for reading, thanks to my mother, and the urge to write stories came from the wonderful books I grew up reading. I would write short stories as a child and won a competition at school which definitely gave me more of an urge to write.

The beginnings of this novel started twenty years ago, as I was preparing for my own marriage. I would write little bits, then save and file away my installments. Life happened and with the addition of a husband, in-laws and then two children, there was precious little time to think about my book.

Almost fifteen years after I started writing it, I created my first blog, and realized that I had a story I really needed to finish, and hopefully publish. I also uncovered a hidden love of poetry by taking part in challenges and ended up with a poetry anthology out in the world too!

I have to say that blogging has been hugely instrumental in me getting this book out there.

From finding like-minded souls, to writers I have grown to love and admire, I have managed to learn so much about the writing and publishing process and have got an amazingly supportive team behind me.

How do you balance your work with other demands?  Well that is a tough one! As a wife and mother, my hands are full. Add in being a full-time teacher, and you must be wondering where I find the time!

Writing and reading, for me, are a release. I find that when I write, or read, I sink into a world that is all mine, with no interruptions. So, during term time, I make time in the evenings, to do both. I get the kids settled, then I have my time. I’m not a huge television watcher, so that helps. In the holidays, I know my teen and tween will be sleeping late in the mornings, so those couple of hours are perfect, before they all wake up, to get creative. It’s all about making time to do what you love.

Name one of the happiest moments in your life:  Oh my… just one? Finding out we were pregnant for the first time. I suffer from PCOS and had great difficulty in falling pregnant, so after a few years of disappointments, and upsets, seeing that little plus sign on a pregnancy test, then having it confirmed by the doctor was something else. Seeing the little heart beating inside our baby bean at that first scan brought tears to our eyes! Now, as that little bean gets older, the tears are caused by his attitude…but that’s teenagers for you.

What’s your approach to writing? Are you a “pantser” or a planner?  I proudly call myself a plantser! I fall heavily in the middle. I usually start off as a true pantser. I get an idea and let it fly. Then I realize that without a skeleton plan, at least, I am going to trip up, so I create more of an outline. But I don’t over-plan. I know the gist of the story. I have an idea of where I’d like us to end up, then I let my characters take me there! It can make for a fun journey. I mean, with this new release of mine, I had no idea I’d end up with a homosexual character, who ends up crying out for a book of his own, with his antics!

Could you write in a café with people around?  Honestly, I have tried this, but I am too much of a people person, and I end up in conversations with everyone. I do like the idea though, so there have been countless times my computer and I have journeyed to a coffee shop, and a few words have been typed. But not many. In all honesty, I think I prefer to people watch, or talk. After all, there is inspiration in every situation, don’t you think?

Have you ever written dialogue in a second language? If so, how did you do it?  The characters in my book are British born Indian Sikhs, with a home language of Punjabi. They tended to speak English, with a smattering of Punjabi words within. I tried to convey the meaning of the words through how they said things. Initially I had some whole sentences, but then translating was tedious, and the language glossary page count was rivaling that of the book, so I decided to lessen the second language, and use the power of inference instead!

What’s your favorite book and what are you reading now?  I always stumble with this question of a favorite book. It is a tough one, as I have read and loved so many books! As a child, anything by Enid Blyton was my favorite, or A.A.Milne. Then I started Danielle Steele books. My mother had the Flowers in The Attic series by Virginia Andrews, which I absolutely loved, but there was one book of hers that I reread many times, My Sweet Audrina. I think I was captured by the twists and turns that Andrews would create in her writing. Right now, I am about to start the fourth book in the Cliffside Bay series, by Tess Thompson. It is a Small-Town Romance set of books, with a host of interwoven stories written from the perspective of the different residents of the town.

What’s your favorite way to read a book: hardcover, paperback, eReader?  I am not as much a fan of hardbacks as others, because they can be cumbersome to hold when reading. I do love a paperback, but space doesn’t permit me to buy many, so for convenience, my Kindle Paperwhite is my faithful companion. And it has the added bonus of a back light, so I don’t have to disturb my Hubby Dearest at night, if I am engrossed in a book, and it is so light!

Do you think print books will always be around?  Oh, most definitely. How could the bookstagrammers of the world create such enticing book posts without the paperbacks to play with? Sure, you can get the photo of a cover on a screen but seeing the spine of a book on a bookshelf… there’s nothing to beat that! I know of many readers who will not read anything other than print books.

Would you ever read a book on your phone?  I try to keep my Kindle with me at all times, but I can forget, and this is why I have the Kindle app on my phone. I don’t do it often, but I have, on occasion, read on my phone, while sitting at the doctor’s surgery, or if I have a spare moment.

What’s your go-to device? iPhone, Android or something else?  I currently own an Android phone and have never had an iPhone. Though, having said that, I recently bought a MacBook Air, so who knows… an iPhone might be on the cards!

How long could you go without checking your phone?  Hands up, I admit I am terrible. Unless I am at school, during the teaching day, my phone is near me and if I am bored, I will pick it up and check notifications. My Hubby Dearest has me down in his phone as #Valiyey, translation Girl of the Hashtag! But then, I have to keep on top of my Social Media for my Author brand… (see, I have an excuse!) I dread to think what one of those apps would tell me about my phone usage! But then again, my brother lives in Finland, and I have two Finndian (their mummy is Finnish, to their daddy’s Indian, hence, Finndian) nephews. So, we use the video call functions a lot so we can all stay in touch.

Do you listen to audiobooks? If you do, what do you do while you’re listening?  I have to confess to being a non-listener. I prefer to read my books, instead of listening. If I was a commuter, I might have got into listening to audiobooks, but my drive to work is short, and the kids are with me. They’d refuse to listen to a book in the car, favoring their latest music!

Do you like using social media to promote yourself and your book? If so, what’s your favorite platform?  As I mentioned earlier, I do love social media. I am active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram mainly.

Website and social media links:
WordPress Blog Website: But I Smile Anyway
Author Website: ritubhathal.com
Twitter: @RituBhathal
Instagram: ritubhathalwrites
Facebook: @butismileanyway (But I Smile Anyway) and @RituBhathal (Author, Poet and Storyteller)
Goodreads Author: Ritu Bhathal

Click here for more information about Ritu’s latest book, Marriage Unarranged.

Awards/special recognition:  Best Blogger at the Annual Bloggers Bash 2017 and Best Book Blog at the Annual Bloggers Bash

Are you an indie or self-published author?  Do you want to build your author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

Happy New Year!

Hi Everyone and Happy New Year!

I’ve had fun seeing what all the book bloggers read in 2019 and now it’s time to begin again! I’m not doing any reading challenges this year, but I always like to have a short-term plan for what I’m going to read.

So here’s what’s in store for January:

I just started A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. It’s on loan from the library on my Kindle and due soon, so that’s first. OMG I am tearing through it. I’m already sure I will give it a good review!

Next up is The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. I’m reading it for my mystery book club at work. We decided to return to one of the first of the genre and this one goes way back. The Moonstone was first published in 1868!

I got two books for Christmas and I can’t wait to start them. I’ve been talking about reading a Howard Hughes biography and this one is Howard Hughes – the Untold Story by Petter Harry Brown and Pat H. Broeske.

I also got You by Caroline Kepnes. If you don’t know about this book, it’s also a series on Netflix and Season 2 just started. I’m going to read this first, watch Season 1, then move on to either the sequel called Hidden Bodies or watch Season 2 first. Can’t decide!

I hope you have some fun things and some good books lined up for 2020. What’s the first book you will read?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

A great reading year for fiction and nonfiction – check out these recommended reads!

Image: Pixabay

It’s been a great reading year and the perfect time to share the books I’ve enjoyed. I’m ready to curl up with a good book, are you?


Leaving the Beach by Mary Rowen

The story of a young woman and her search for happiness. Set in the working class town of Winthrop, Massachusetts, readers get to know her in alternating time periods—in the 1970s and ‘80s as an awkward teenager and college student, and in the 1990s as a young adult.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Highly recommend this terrific story of complicated family dynamics. You’ll want to read it all at once to know how it works out!

Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington

Debut collection of 13 coming-of-age stories, set in Houston, and told mainly by one character. An uncensored look at a struggling population with a hopeful finish. One of Barack Obama’s Top Picks of 2019.


The Beneficiary – Fortune, Misfortune, and the
Story of my Father by Janny Scott

Interesting biography of Robert Montgomery Scott, written by his daughter Janny Scott. A history, spanning four generations of a wealthy family that settled on what’s called the Main Line outside of Philadelphia.

Honor Girl – A Graphic Memoir by Maggie Thrash

Young Adult graphic memoir about the author’s coming-out experience at a summer camp in the mountains of Kentucky.

How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in
Thirteen Animals
by Sy Montgomery

The more Sy Montgomery studies animals and nature, the more she knows that humans have a lot to learn about the creatures that share our world. In this book, she describes her unique relationships with 13 animals and what they have taught her.

What good books did you read in 2019?

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Book Club Mom’s great reads of 2019

I read some great books this year. Here’s a list of my favorites!

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Is it good luck to survive a plane crash over the Atlantic? Most would think yes, but Scott Burroughs, after a heroic swim to safety, with four-year-old JJ Bateman clinging to his neck, may wonder. Because he will soon find himself caught between competing government agencies searching for a cause and the media’s ruthless pursuit of a story, any story, even if it’s unfounded. Winner of the 2017 Edgar Award for Best Novel and the 2017 International Thriller Writers Award for Best Novel.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Fantastic nonfiction novel, the first of its kind and considered Truman Capote’s masterpiece. The chilling depiction of a senseless 1959 murder of a Kansas family. Capote and his childhood friend, Harper Lee, went to Kansas to research the story and compiled over 8000 pages of notes. They were granted numerous interviews with the murderers, who by then, had confessed and were in jail awaiting trial. They moved to death row after their convictions, where Capote continued to interview them until their hangings. He became particularly attached to Perry Smith and related to his unhappy childhood.

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Fantastic memoir about Hope Jahren’s experiences as a scientist. Jahren’s field is plants, especially trees, and her interest in them is contagious. She explains the fascinating way in which they grow, reproduce and adapt. Jahren writes beautifully about her profession, its challenges and about her lonely childhood in Minnesota, college life and early years trying to make it as a scientist.

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

Arthur Less is turning 50 and he’s at the edge of a crisis: his writing career has stalled and his former lover is getting married. To guarantee he’ll be out of the country on the day of the wedding, Less accepts a string of unusual writerly engagements that take him around the world. His goal? Forget lost love and rework the novel his publisher has taken a pass on. In a comedic series of travel mishaps, Less bumbles through this symbolic journey in search of happiness. Winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

Set in New York during the Depression and World War II, the story begins with Anna Kerrigan as a young girl whose father has ties to organized crime. She accompanies her father on an errand and meets a mysterious man with powerful connections and won’t fully understand the impact until years later. I highly recommend Manhattan Beach to readers who like historical fiction and big stories with strong female characters.

Notes from a Public Typewriter – edited by Michael Gustafson and Oliver Uberti

Guaranteed to put you in a good mood, about the Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, owned by Gustafson and his wife, Hilary. When they set up the store in 2013, they put out a typewriter, with paper, for anyone to use. It wasn’t long before customers began to type random, sometimes whimsical and often heartfelt messages for all to see. This book is the combined story of these messages.

Refugee by Alan Gratz

Terrific Young Adult historical novel about three refugee children, caught in different periods of conflict, who flee their countries in search of safety and a better life. In alternating stories, the children face unpredictable danger as they desperately try to keep their families together. Each discovers that, by being invisible, they escape many dangers, but miss chances for others to help them. Published in 2017 Refugee is now included in many middle and high school curriculums. A New York Times Notable Book, an Amazon Best Book of the Year, and both Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year.

Sounds Like Titanic by Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman

Great memoir about a woman who is hired to play violin in a prestigious touring orchestra, only to discover that the microphones are turned off. What’s turned on is a $14.95 CD player from Walmart, playing a recorded version of a composer’s music, performed by other musicians. The music sounds suspiciously like, but a strategic note or two different from, the score of the popular 1997 film, Titanic.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Kya Clark is six years old when her mother walks out of their shack, a place hidden in the marshes of North Carolina, where racial tension and small-town prejudices are firmly in place in the nearby coastal town of Barkley Cove. Soon her father’s abusive rages drive Kya’s older siblings away, leaving only Kya and her father. Then one day it’s just Kya, known in town and shunned as the wild Marsh Girl. The story begins in 1952 and jumps to 1969, when a young man has died. In alternating chapters, readers learn Kya’s story of survival and how she becomes part of the investigation into his death.

What books were your favorites in 2019? Leave a comment and share your best!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

On using animals and nature as literary devices

I really like when fiction authors include animals and nature in their stories. I don’t mean when animals or trees talk, though. I’m talking about when nature has a strong influence on the story and its characters. Sometimes it’s just the setting that affects the characters, like Jane Harper’s use of a drought in The Dry. Or how Delia Owens uses the marsh to drive the story in Where the Crawdads Sing. Other books have a lot of other things going on, like in Life After Life and A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson, but nature’s influence is still prominent. Here are links to these and a few other fiction books that fit into this category.


The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
The Dry by Jane Harper

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

And here are some great nonfiction books about nature and animals. They leave me feeling a strong connection between humans and nature.


Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Good Dog. Stay. by Anna Quindlen
How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals by Sy Montgomery
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Do you like books that include nature and animals? Can you add to this list?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

BC Mom’s Author Update: Kevin Brennan announces publication of new political thriller: Eternity Began Tomorrow

Welcome to Book Club Mom’s Author Update. Open to all authors who want to share news with readers. I recently caught up with Kevin Brennan, who has news about his new political thriller, Eternity Began Tomorrow. Here’s what Kevin has to say:

After taking three years away from indie publishing to query agents on some literary fiction I had in my vault, I decided to write a new novel for the indie market. With climate change in the news nearly every day, and Greta Thunberg storming the nation, a political thriller surrounding the climate-change debate and our current political condition is the result: Eternity Began Tomorrow.

Here’s the jacket blurb:

When Molly “Blazes” Bolan, a young hotshot reporter for an online news outlet, is assigned the biggest story of her career, she’s eager to run with it. Her subject, John Truthing, has built a cultish organization called “Eternity Began Tomorrow” to fight climate change, and it’s starting to snowball big time. As Blazes digs in, she’s both impressed and disturbed by Truthing, a charismatic eco-warrior with revolutionary ideas. Disturbed because his followers are mainly millennials, all hooked on a drug called Chillax and so devoted they would jump off a cliff if he asked it of them. Fact by fact, Blazes uncovers the truth about Chillax, the truth about its maker, Lebensraum Enterprises of Liechtenstein, and the truth about Truthing himself. And just as Molly’s own brother, Rory, gets recruited into the group, Truthing announces his run for president in 2020 as an independent. Blazes knows that the final story in her EBT series could destroy his movement, but she’s torn. The cause is worthy. The stakes are high. And the election of 2020 could decide the fate of life on earth. If Trump wins reelection, it’s all over.

A provocative exploration of society, politics, and human nature in an era of conflict and mistrust, Eternity Began Tomorrow shows us that the truth is never easy to confront and the political is always personal.

One awesome benefit of being an indie author is that we can write and publish our books in a super-timely manner, so EBT, as I like to call it, is actually set in today’s world, i.e., right now. It starts in October 2019 and takes us through the summer of 2020, when—as you might predict—all hell is likely to break loose.

I don’t expect the events in EBT to actually take place, but the book offers plenty of food for thought in this crazy political climate. The world is getting hotter, and so is our own national scene.

Eternity Began Tomorrow is an Amazon exclusive, available right now as an eBook, for $0.99, with a paperback to come in 2020. Check it out here.

In addition to Eternity Began Tomorrow, Kevin is the author of five previous books: Parts Unknown, Yesterday Road, Occasional Soulmates, Town Father, and Fascination. Learn more here.

Be sure to check out Kevin’s WordPress blog, What the Hell. You can also find him on Facebook @kevinbrennanbooks, on Twitter @kevinbrennan520 and on Goodreads.

For information about Book Club Mom’s Author Update,
email bvitelli2009@gmail.com.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Book Club Mom’s September recap – summer’s over!

Image: Pixabay

September is often the month for fresh starts and getting back on track after the lazy days of summer. The truth is, for me, summer can be busier than fall! It’s much quieter here now, with kids out of the house, going to school or working. I like the hustle bustle of a full house, but there are always books, right?

I read some good ones this month and was surprised that I had chosen three nonfiction books! I have always preferred fiction, but I’m noticing more and more interesting narrative nonfiction books that I want to read.

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin
Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
My Friend Anna – The True Story of a Fake Heiress by Rachel DeLoache Williams
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
The Library Book by Susan Orlean

In case you missed these author profiles:

Who’s That Author? Truman Capote
Who’s That Author? Linda Holmes
Who’s That Indie Author? Amy Tasukada
Are you a self-published or indie author? Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com
if you would like to be featured on Who’s That Indie Author.

And I wrote these random and spontaneous posts:

Library book strategies – managing (or not managing)
holds on the new and popular books
Grammar talk: misspelled words and other confessions
Social media book groups – are you in one?
Here comes fall – books to match the season!

I know it can be hard to say goodbye to summer, but I think September is a good transition month. Hope you are ready to ease into fall with a good book! What’s in your reading pile?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Social media book groups – are you in one?

About fifteen years ago, my college friends and I decided to start some kind of remote book club. We all lived in different places, but we were looking for a way to stay connected. This was before social media, back when email was the big thing. So we settled on an email book club. It was fun!

Emails can get cumbersome, though, so we eventually moved over to a Facebook group and lots of new friends and family joined. It was great to have a larger group and a much better way to talk about a book.

But life went on and, although we stayed in touch with each other through the group, the book reading fell off…

We’re back on track now and next month we are going to read Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes. I just got my hands on the book and I’m looking forward to reading it this weekend!

Are you in a social media book group? Leave a comment and tell me how it works!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Book Club Mom’s March recap – a month of blog posts

Image: Pixabay

March powered through like a freight train on greased wheels and I’m happy to say I didn’t derail!

Spring has finally arrived and, for the first time since I planted bulbs, the bunnies haven’t chomped my flowers down to the nubs. That must be a sign of good things to come!

I had a busy blogging month. I read some good books, profiled two indie authors, brushed up on my vocabulary and grammar, wrote and shared some special posts and made a few YouTube videos.

Here’s a quick “ICYMI” summary of what went down in March at Book Club Mom. Click on the links to visit each post.

Book Reviews

Mar 3: The Widow by Fiona Barton
Mar 11: Transcription by Kate Atkinson
Mar 22: Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
Mar 24: What If? by Randall Munroe
Mar 30: How to Be a Good Creature by Sy Montgomery

Mar 6: Giselle Roeder
Mar 19: Gina Briganti

I love meeting indie authors and I’m always looking for new profiles to post. If you are interested in being featured, please email bvitelli2009@gmail for more information.

Grammar and Vocabulary

(Images: Pixabay)

I may have majored in English, but I make plenty of mistakes. These grammar and vocabulary posts are my way of staying fresh with the rules:

Mar 5: On vocabulary, words both big and small…
Mar 21: “Into” and “in to” – are you into it?
Mar 28: Using ellipses – are you doing it right?

Special Posts

I shared two posts written by my son, Austin Vitelli. The first is a book review and the second is a feature article that appeared in The Morning Call on March 26.

Mar 6: Sweetness by Jeff Pearlman – thoughts on NFL legend Walter Payton
Mar 26: How 3 former Lehigh football players and their friends started a record label

Guest Post on author Jill Weatherholt’s blog

I was excited to be featured on Jill’s blog, where I talk about my blogging experiences (and mistakes!) and tackle the tricky question of what to do when I don’t like a book.

Mar 29: Welcome Book Blogger Book Club Mom

I’m still learning the technical side of making videos, but I’m having a lot of fun along the way. I have some new ideas for April, so stay tuned!

Mar 7: Self-publishing – here’s how we did it!
Mar 13: Walking and listening to audiobooks
Mar 20: Audiobook update and general news!

I hope you had a great month too! Looking forward to more fun in April!

Image: Pixabay

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

What’s That Book? Leaving the Beach by Mary Rowen

TitleLeaving the Beach

Author:  Mary Rowen

Genre: Fiction

Rating:  4 stars

What’s it about?  The story of Erin Reardon and her search for happiness. Told in the first person and set in the working class town of Winthrop, Massachusetts, readers get to know Erin in alternating time periods—in the 1970s and ‘80s as an awkward teenager and college student, and in the 1990s as a young adult. As a slightly overweight teenager, Erin struggles to fit in, but finds comfort in music, to the point of obsession, as she latches on to a string of rock stars, certain that they are the only ones who understand her: Jim Morrison, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen and the fictional grunge rocker, Lenny Weir, Erin’s main obsession. But Erin has major problems. Trouble at home and feelings of guilt and inadequacy lead to an eating disorder, alcohol abuse and a series of bad decisions.

Readers will enjoy reliving many classic teen and young adult moments as they relate to rock music, concerts and playing albums over and over. I like how Rowen describes the powerful one-on-one connection that can occur when you listen to music by yourself. Rowen also realistically shows the more painful times of rejection, not fitting in and the lonely moments suffered when everyone else seems to have life figured out.

How did you hear about it?  I saw Leaving the Beach reviewed by a few of my blogging friends and decided to read it myself.

Closing comments:  I thoroughly enjoyed this unique and fast read. Erin Reardon is both typical and remarkable, flawed but likable. Readers need to hold on to hope as she makes mistakes. I didn’t see the author’s truly original finish coming, and that made the book an even better read!

Contributor:  Book Club Mom

P.S. I was pleased to receive a message from Mary Rowen, who asked me to tell readers that, while Leaving the Beach is currently out of print, a newly edited version will be available in the summer of 2019. Learn more about Mary Rowen at MaryRowen.com.

Have you read something good?  Want to talk about it?
Consider being a contributor to What’s That Book.

Email Book Club Mom at bvitelli2009@gmail.com for information.

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