Nov 9, 2014

Fashionably Yours Guest Post & Excerpt!

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I can't wait to read Fashionably Yours. It looks really great! I feel honored that Swati Sharma wrote a guest post for me. I'm also posting an excerpt, so you can start reading immediately. I love Swati's wonderful playlist. You can listen to the songs while you're reading, which is fabulous, have fun!
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Swati's Playlist
Writing is albeit a fabulous but a lonely profession. There are some days when I am so full of ideas that I write round the clock without feeling the need to stop to eat or to pee but some days are so lonely, sad and crap that my mind is totally blank and I find myself struggling to think about the next line, next paragraph or the next chapter. This is the moment when I get into the panic mode and suspect everything about the book in question. This is the point where I turn to the music for the inspiration. I always have a playlist ready on my ipod for the current WIP.  
I am more than glad to share the few songs from the playlist which helped me through writing my debut novel Fashionably Yours.
  • Woman’s World- Cher: I absolutely love this song. This song has played a huge role in the character development of Maya. Maya, the main protagonist of my book, is a very strong and an ambitious woman. No matter how hard the situation is, she never gives up.
                                     http://youtu.be/JjPWL-23w-w

  • Fashion Show-Cory Lee: This is practically a theme song of Fashionably Yours. It’s such a beautiful, cute and fashionably uplifting song.  All the glamour in the book is only and only because of this song.
                                     http://youtu.be/F8EDkzgGP18

  • When You Say Nothing At All- Ronan Keating: I have heard every single song by Ronan Keating. He has got the best voice ever and this song is soooooooo gorgeous and romantic that I couldn’t help but used it in the book when Maya and Aryan kissed for the first time. I went through some dark personal stuff while writing the book and this song had done the wonderful job of hauling me out of the darkness and helping me creating the sparks between Maya and Aryan.
                                     http://youtu.be/AuJrEBtmM1Q 

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Excerpt
1
Two years later
May 28
It was a crisp morning and I was dressed in black from head to toe, looking every inch perfect. Black Prada jersey dress, black stockings, black Louis Vuitton pumps, black Chanel vintage handbag and kohl-rimmed eyes. I left my exactly-like-out-of-a-glossy-magazine-page living apartment at Murray Hills and got into my shiny white Audi Q7 which was parked just down the road, buckled my seat belt and was just about to place my shiny red sole on the accelerator, when my Blackberry buzzed to life.
It was a reminder message from the boss lady, she wanted me to pick up Tyra Banks from the airport before meeting her at Diane Von Furstenberg’s private show. After lovingly gazing at my Blackberry screen I put away the phone. ‘I don’t understand why people call you an iron woman when you are so sweet?’ I asked myself and turned on the ignition. But before I could speed up I was interrupted by a shrill ringing…
Mumbling, grumbling and swearing I grabbed my alarm clock from the nightstand and switched it off. Half opening my eyes, I looked at the alarm clock and it took me a good three minutes to figure out that it was just past seven-thirty a.m. Placing the clock back on the nightstand I assured myself that I could easily manage to stay in the bed for an extra five minutes. Pulling the duvet over my head, I closed my eyes and before I realized I was sound asleep again. Little did I know that five minutes would become fifty!
“Oh My God,” hastily I kicked aside the blanket, hopped out of the bed and stripped on the way to the bathroom. “That bitch will be after my life. Again!” I shouted at the walls of the empty apartment.
As I got into the shower I switched to multitasking mode and started washing my hair with one hand and brushing my teeth with the other while figuring out a perfectly acceptable excuse to throw Natasha’s way. But goddammit! My mind had gone numb. I could think of nothing, null, big fat nada. Turning the shower off and chucking the toothbrush somewhere in the bathroom, I walked back to the room and headed straight to the closet. Pulling open the closet doors, I grabbed the first piece of clothing I could lay my hands on.
Zipping up my bright blue summer dress, I grabbed my battered handbag from the coffee table in the living room, threw my vanity bag in it, put on my old-but-not-yet-worn-out black Aldo peep toes and let myself out of the flat.
Outside the building, under the bright and clear May sky, I was standing nearly in the middle of the road with my completely drenched and uncombed hair with water dripping onto my dress, soaking it at very inappropriate places. ‘After frantically waving my hands in front of every passing cab, I finally succeeded to get one to stop. As the cab screeched to a halt by the side of the buzzing road, I rushed towards it as if this was the last taxi on the planet and my life depended on it. Well, if not my life then at least my job depended on it.
“Could you please take me to Bandra?” I almost pleaded with the cab driver.
“It’s rush hour. I will charge extra,” he said with a stony face.
I was determined to not let go of this cab. It was nearly eight fifty-three a.m. and Natasha would fire me if I missed the editorial meeting which was supposed to start at nine a.m. sharp!
“Whatever it is, let’s go,” I screamed. I agreed to pay the small fortune he quoted and with a heavy heart slid into the passenger seat.
As the cab made its way through bumpy Mumbai roads, I managed to comb my hair, put on mascara, dab lip gloss and fret about the office where by now everyone must have been in the conference room with their bright eyes and shining ideas for the next issue. Damn!
Thirty minutes later as the cabbie pulled over in front of the Style office, I quickly hopped out, gave him a part of my hard-earned money and barged through the large glass doors. With wobbly legs and a sinking heart I walked towards the lift and with trembling hands jabbed the buttons. As the doors pinged opened on the third floor right in front of the large neon pink sign board of Style, I braced myself for one more lecture on work ethics from my editor. As I made my way towards the conference room, my heart beat faster and faster with every step. I was thirty minutes late. Bollocks!
Outside the conference room I stopped for a minute, instructed my thudding heart to calm down, forced a wide smile on my face and without wasting another second barged into the room. The entire room went silent as though they hadn’t been talking in the first place. All the e-magazine staff was there, looking at me as if I had a clown nose on my face. Without muttering a word and ignoring twenty pairs of eyes, I walked towards the only empty chair in the whole room which, of course, was right next to Natasha. Brilliant.
While walking towards the chair I heard people whispering and giggling behind my back. I wondered what was so funny about being late. Gingerly I took my seat, rummaged into my handbag for a notepad and a pen and sat there quietly, ignoring Natasha’s gaze. I couldn’t bring myself to look at anyone or anywhere so I fixed my eyes on the table as if the plain glass was the most fascinating thing I had ever seen in my life.
“Welcome aboard,” said Natasha in a tone which was a synonym for who-the-hell-do-you-think-you-are-to-interrupt-the-meeting-and-not-even-bother-to-beg-for-mercy-from-your-boss.
“I am sorry, Natasha,” I croaked.
“Why are you sorry? think that we all should be sorry that we started this stupid editorial meeting without you. I reckon we all could have waited for you, Style could have waited for you.”
As I looked up at her, I could see the horns on her head and fangs emerging from her mouth.
Gosh!
“You are embarrassing me.”
She always did that. I could bet that humiliating me was her favorite pastime on earth. There were more occasions than I could count on my fingers and toes when she had humiliated me in front of zillions of people, more often than not for no solid reason. I mean, come on spending five minutes waiting for new life on Candy Crush before starting a tough workday was hardly reason for her to insult me in front of the entire office. I swear later that day I heard people whispering about my inability to clear level 33 on Candy Crush.
“You are not going to understand the ethics of the fashion business, are you? We are running not just a magazine, but a fashion magazine. Thousands of girls read this magazine every day, carry it with them in their bags no matter where they go, keep it under their pillows, read it on trains, worship it and want to be associated with it in any way possible. And you have a chance to be a part of this and you just don’t respect your chance,” she thundered with the latest issue of Style in her hands.
Really? I wondered how many girls were insane enough to buy this trash.
“Girls like you…”
Before she could continue her speech, Anu jumped in to stop her from embarrassing me any more.
“Natasha, can we please resume this meeting? After this we also have a meeting with the print staff.”
I loved this girl. Anu wasn’t just the fashion features director at Style but was also my soul sister and confidant.
One hour later the meeting was over and as I was about to get up from my chair, Natasha got hold of my hand.
“If you don’t stop acting this irresponsible, I will take down your online column and your chances to write for the print version will be finished forever,” she said icily.
“I am so…” before I could plead an apology she let go of my hand, got up from the chair and walked out of the room as fast as humanly possible.
“Maya. Why do you do this all the time?” while everyone followed Natasha out of the room, Anu stayed back, just to make sure Natasha didn’t rip my head off and chop it into tiny pieces.
“I know it’s my fault,” I let out a deep sigh. “It was that stupid dream which didn’t let me wake up.”
“Again?” Anu knew about my dream only too well.
It all started when I was sixteen. It was the first time I accidentally flipped through the glossy pages of Glamorous which my aunt from New York had left behind at our place by mistake. Those pages changed my life forever. Two days later I bought the five-year subscription of the magazine and after that I spent every single day marvelling at the awe-inspiring photos, making notes of the amazing fashion tips and religiously reading fashion literature. In those moments of pure pleasure, I promised myself that one day I’d be part of this fashion bible. Hence straight after school, I enrolled into a fashion journalism course, much to the disappointment of my parents who always wanted me to be a CA. I remembered what Mom said the day I accepted the job at Style.
You have ruined your life.
“When will you stop it?” Anu questioned tiredly.
“Trust me that’s what I ask myself all the time. But I don’t think that I am strong enough to let go of this dream.”
Years of trying to get into Glamorous and I had failed each time. Result, every night for six months I used to cry till dawn at the thought that there was someone, somewhere, under the same sky who was living the life which I wanted. Looking at my humiliated face, she inched towards me and flung her arms around my shoulders.
“Oh sweetie! One day you’ll get there,” she gave me a tight hug. Just when I was beginning to relax in her arms she abruptly pushed me away and turned me round to have a look at my back side.
“What happened?”
“The back of your dress is tucked under your purple knickers. You came all the way from your apartment to this room flashing them for the whole world to see?” her eyes popped out of her perfectly sculpted face.
“I did what?” I ran towards the washroom tucked away in the far corner of the conference room, turned around, craned my neck to have a look at my derriere in the floor-to-ceiling mirror pinned against the wall and prayed for death at the sight of my not-so-attractive and cellulite-loaded bum cheeks. OH. MY. GOD.
Back in my cubicle I told myself, “This is it.” I had had enough humiliation for one day and I wasn’t going to do another stupid thing. I was going to show Natasha that I was not some floosy. I deserved something more than an online column, something better and bigger than Style — something like Glamorous. Yes, I deserved to be there and one day I would be and that day she would realize what a brilliant writer she had lost and would curse herself for underestimating my talent. She would be on the floor on all fours begging me to forgive her and then I would tell her to go and put her magazine where the sun doesn’t shine.
Determined to pen a groundbreaking feature, I switched on the computer but nothing came on the screen. The computer was dead and even after slapping it a million times, I still couldn’t bring it back to life.
This day was rapidly rising on the list of the worst days of my life. First, I flashed my knickers shamelessly to the entire city, then made total arse of myself in front of Natasha and the whole office, and now my computer had crashed and my feature for the next issue was on it. Forget about the bloody humiliation, Natasha would sack me if I didn’t submit my feature before the deadline. I felt my heart falling all the way to the pit of my stomach. I had worked so hard to collect information about the best wedding destination venues in the country. It had taken me an entire month. A month.
When the rest of the writing staff was furiously typing away on their computers and was probably giving the final touches to their nearly finished stories, I was standing just next to my cubicle while the sickly-looking IT guy was trying to do some tricks on my dead computer.
“What’s wrong?” I asked him while repeatedly telling myself, don’t cry, not now, not here.
“What have you done to this? There are five thousand viruses on it,” he shot daggers at me.
“I have done nothing. I swear,” I croacked.
Oh my god! I knew I shouldn’t have downloaded pirated movies and songs on this computer.
“It is taking forever to reboot,” he said.
“Err…Will it ever work again? Can you do this?” I heard myself asking him questions in a voice I didn’t recognize.
“I am an IT guy. I can do anything,” he said, glaring at me.
“I would really appreciate if you could fix this whole mess, please. And quickly,” I said stiffly.

  ***
Later that evening walking into my flat, I dumped my old battered handbag by the door, kicked off my heels and crashed onto the sofa. The day had been horrible and what was more horrible was the thought of writing the feature all over again, especially when I had planned to watch recorded episodes of Gossip Girls while eating delicious Dominos pizza.
My office computer didn’t get repaired and would take another two days to be back in running condition. But as the submission deadline was tomorrow, I was left with no choice but to re-write the article. It had taken one whole month to research the story but now I had only one night to do it over again.
Pushing the horrific thoughts of doing so much work in a single night out of my mind, I got off the sofa, walked towards the bathroom and ran a cold bath. Dressed in cotton pyjamas and a decade-old UCB T-shirt, I planted myself on the sofa armed with two boxes of H├Ągaan Dazs, balanced my beloved laptop on my knees and prayed to the Gods that let this night be the longest.



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