It pleases me to present a special Saturday interview with a man who has made huge contributions to literary communities world wide. He is the author of the recently released magical realism story collection, Katashi Tales, as well as the founder of Motivatinal Strips social media forum, which promotes the unification of authors and people across the globe. I am honored to have him as my author guest today. Please help me welcome Shiju Pallithazheth.
Kaye: You are not only an author, but a scholar, striving to improve yourself and others through the promotion of world literature. Can you share a little about your journey to becoming an author? When did you discover your love of literature? When did you know you wanted to be an author?
Shiju: To this context, I would like to narrate my favourite penned quote..
‘My friends used to play with toys in their childhood, while I was playing with tiny English alphabets made of plastic. We all grew up together. They became engineers, doctors, accountants etc. and I ended up being a writer.
Guess that quote narrates the answer.
Kaye: Is there anything unusual or unique about your writing process?
Shiju: Yes! I write fast lest I forget where I started… lol
Kaye: What do you feel is the single most important element in a story?
Shiju: Characters that fit aptly in a plot.
Kaye: What is the most unusual or unique thing you have done so far?
Shiju: I have unified writers from 105 countries for what they love doing. Guess that’s unique and interesting.
Kaye: You are the founder of Motivational Strips, a social media forum designed to celebrate humanity and world literature. What do you hope to achieve with this very selective group of authors?
Shiju: The readers are going berserk to identify quality reads as well as writers. The whole agenda of Motivational Strips is literary unification. It started as a crawling baby ten months back. It withstood will power and today it has daily visitors crossing 130 thousand. So that sums up to 4 million visitors a month.
Kaye: Why do they visit the forum ?
Shiju: They love the literary works of the writers, and feel it’s a safe and secure place to network. The forum has achieved commendable milestones within a short time. All credit goes to its members as well as administration. Today it has World Nations Writers Union as well as Union Hispanomundial De Escritores (UHE) as its associates. World Nation Writers Union had Late Dr Koffi Annan ( Former UN General Secretary) as its co president in the past. UHE has former Costa Rica President and Nobel Prize laureate Dr Oscar Arias Sanchez as its present Hon. President. The above mentioned merger speaks volumes on the mission of Motivational Strips. It has affiliated six other qualitative groups in Facebook for writers so that worldwide writers have variation and choice. So we are liberal on writers’ interest. In a nutshell, Motivational Strips keeps writers interest over its own. The forum has novice beginners to many literary icons and award winning authors. Many Nobel Prize Nominees interact and coach the writers for literary progress. It has more than 60K poems and articles penned by writers from more than 105 nations. Now, does that sound small?
Kaye: Motivational Strips honors and encourages those who have made a significant contribution to world literature. I received a Certificate of Honor, myself. What do you feel has been your own greatest contribution which you have made?
Shiju: I have been one among them, that’s the greatest contribution!
When you want to steer a mighty unification process in literature or any other creative fields, you have to know how to strengthen its roots. The leaders can’t stand away and ask the members to keep the roots firm. The ideal leader is one, who has a desire to learn and to teach relevance. Just like how an editor takes responsibility to edit a book to relevant material, a leader has to jointly interact to keep the basics right.
Kaye: Your collection of magical realism stories with life lessons, Katashi Tales, is coming out in April. What are some of the life lessons you hope to convey with these tales?
Shiju: Katashi Tales is all about morals. It has a storyline that will take the reader through a journey of magical realism. It ends with realities and values to cherish in life. It has varied forms of narration to keep away monotony, as well as expectations. The expectation level of the reader goes up as the chapters progress. The reason why the expectation level goes up is because of the way the stories have been placed. It gives exposure to the reader in meeting different characters and feeling the ambiance in unknown places. Many new places one has never heard of or read about in life will be revealed in the plot. The book speaks for itself. Each of the fifteen stories teaches a different lesson.
Kaye: The stories in Katashi Tales carry with them lessons or morals, similar to western folklore. Do the lessons just unfold as you write the stories, or do you craft the story to fit the lesson?
Shiju: No, it unfolds in unexpected twists and turns in the plot. The story line was never meant or designed with planned thoughts. The characters revealed themselves in my imagination. I felt as if my presence was in the plot, and witnessed them weaving great stories with tiny outlines. It was fun to write those fables. I experienced the feelings and ambiance of the cute characters in the jungle. They were dying to tell their stories. They are adorable innocent characters, that teach us humans, that they have great stories, principles, ethics and morals, as well.
As Katashi Tales is released worldwide, I’m glad to say that, today being second day of its release, the book is already in the No 2 position among best sellers in KOBO.
Kaye: What is the most challenging part for you of writing magical realism?
Shiju: Magical realism is an art in literature that needs great understanding of the readers’ expectation. I feel bringing reality to a fantasy script is the greatest challenge in writing.
Katashi Tales is a typical attempt of magical realism.
Kaye: You write in many genres. What is your favorite type of writing?
Shiju: I do not limit myself to any favourites. Moods and ambiance decide my choice for the season. But humility and interactions has taught me to be a greater learner. I enjoy writing for writers, as well readers. If you go through my posts in Motivational Strips, you will understand the fact, that my favourite is what the writers/readers desire syncs with.
Kaye: What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
Shiju: I love researching people’s behaviour, as well mine. Doing a comparison helps a lot in correction of oneself and adaptation to the public mass behavioural patterns.
Kaye: What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment to date?
Shiju: I’m still learning, I feel that’s a great accomplishment in my life.
Kaye: What is the best piece of advice that was ever given to you?
Shiju: ‘Learn to see the good side of people rather than digging their faulty holes to bring out the trash.’ That was my late grandpa’s advice. I cherish it close to my heart.
Kaye: What is something most of your readers would never guess about you?
Shiju: I’m a busy corporate executive and do rob myself of sleep to promote writers in Motivational Strips, as well affiliates, because of my love for literature.
Kaye: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Shiju: Observe, interact and write. Mistakes are bound to happen as well as success. Take them both in positive spirit. Don’t sell your soul, you can sell your writings though.
I want to thank Shiju for sharing with us today. He’s a man who has done some impressive things for the literary world and the human world, as well, perhaps. Katashi Tales sounds like a wonderful book filled with delightful and meaningful stories. You can learn more about Shiju Pallithazheth or get your copy of Katashi Tales at the following links.
MOTIVATIONAL STRIPS: https://www.facebook.com/groups/252154565336217
KATASHI TALES KINDLE: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QPVCNGC
KATASHI TALES PAPERBACK: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1094684120
BARNES & NOBLE: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1131274084
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I struggle with such questions as “What is poetry?” Or “Why is poetry?” I don’t HAVE to struggle; it seems like a waste of energy, except that any honest inquiry into the nature of important things is…well, important. Yesterday I read three poems in a prestigious literary magazine. They were written by a prestigious lady who is a professor at a prestigious school. I’d better take these seriously, I thought. They have the imprimatur of critical acclaim. They’re supposed to be good.
I read the three poems several times. They are contemporary poetry. They have rhythm without rhyme. They are abstract. They are boring as hell. In order to run a quality check, to ensure that it wasn’t just me, quietly going insane, I referred to some poets that I love. I read some Lorca, and then Charles Bukowski. Okay, okay, it’s not just me. The latter poets wrote great poetry. I can sense THE PERSON inside these poems. I know who, where is Bukowsky, what he’s thinking. Lorca, even translated from Spanish, had poetry full of blood, I mean “Blaaahhhdd”, okay?
Poetry has always been the bastard child of my prose work. It’s the long prose, the novels, that challenge me. Poetry’s easy. I write a poem, like that! boom, done. A few corrections the next day. Trim it a little. I can go years without writing a poem. This month I’ve struck a seam, I’m writing poems. My poetry is ME, it penetrates to the core of myself and exposes my sense of failure, confusion, ambivalence. Sometimes it’s mystic, it’s pure celebration of what I know is GOD but I don’t want to preach.
These poems were written in the last ten days. I got pleasure in writing them, and more pleasure reading them. The second poem is among the best I have. It’s one of “those”.
It Don’t Rub Off
More and more each day
my life looks like a stage set.
my green rubber key chain,
the white bowl from which
I eat Cheerios .
More and more it looks less real;
it’s nothing like I wanted, not at all.
It’s more like a joke that’s on me, the opposite
of my desires. It waits to see
if I’ll laugh. I do; I laugh. It’s so silly, wanting,
but it can’t be helped. Wanting is like breathing
while something giant hurtles towards me
too far away to sense
but it’s coming.
And I need it.
I’m in no hurry to see through things;
they control the pace.
Who I am
is not a mistake. I came here for an exercise
a knowledge that slips through my fingers.
One day my hand will close around it.
My car is banged up
my knees hurt.
I’m poor but never broke.
My broke friends know
that I’ll pay them for work on my car
or my house.
I carry some of their Stupid for a while.
It don’t rub off.
I always think I’m injured but I’m not:
except that life is injury, an obscure pathway
through a forest full of thrilling birds
and venomous snakes.
Is this real?
Yeah, I guess so.
There’s shit on my shoes;
cat shit, dog shit, I hope that’s all shit.
Every step I take I risk stepping in shit:
Is this not life? There’s nothing wrong with shit.
Like bugs, we need shit, desperately
to nourish with its stink the most unlikely growth.
This poo is for you, it says, as I wipe it off my shoe
foolishly trying to keep it from my hands, then washing
again and again. How often in a day do I inwardly exclaim,
“Shit!”? More than I would admit. My mind is full of bricks, pies and purges.
Cats, dogs, owls, horses, all shit. People shit,
the universe shits on these very shoes
which I try so hard to keep clean. Many are obsessed
with the microscopic haunt of e.coli. I don’t bother to say
“Relax, we intermix with e.coli and far worse
every day, we are sturdy,
knocking off shits right and left, undaunted
by the invisible spores of imagination”. Instead I give this benediction:
“You must be crazy in whatever way you want.”
Not every disease is preventable, nor is every affliction brought on board
by the shit on our shoes. Every time you stroke the cat, the dog, the horse
your hands investigate bacteria, resist infection.
After all, shit is the most common thing in the world.
A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He hearkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good. His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv.
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Just say the word.
by Jeff Bowles
(Be sure to check out my video review of Shazam! on YouTube’s Jeff Bowles Central.)
Shazam! is the kind of movie just about anyone can get behind. Film audiences segment into a multitude of groups, but when it comes to comic flicks, you’re either on board for the ridiculousness or you aren’t. Younger audiences tend to take a movie like this more seriously, whereas more mature viewers are often left scratching their heads. When science fiction and fantasy work best, they indulge in a certain real-world approach to emotionality, family, romance, regret, passion, and they do so at high enough levels that any and all nerdy accoutrements go down a little bit smoother, in that for many people out there, they’re extraordinarily hard to swallow.
Shazam! is a big, fun, friendly superhero movie with more heart and humor than just about any other DC Comics offering made in the last twenty years. During a time in which Superman is angst-ridden and Batman is a violent rage-freak, Shazam! understands home is where the heart is. Ask any comic movie fan the difference between the two behemoth companies, Marvel and DC, and you’re likely to hear Marvel is fun and DC is morose. Such is the genius of David F. Sandberg’s new movie. It feels Marvel-fun but engages the kind of deep archetypes and mythic dynamics DC Comics has been famous for since the 1930s.
Billy Batson is an orphan looking for a place to finally call home. He thinks finding his birth mother is the answer, but the truth is, if she’d wanted to be found, he wouldn’t have to break into cop cars and hack suspect ID computers for her deets. Enter the Vazquez family, genuinely supportive parental figures Victor and Rosa, and a full house of five other kids, all of them orphans. The dynamics at play in the Vazquez household expound in wonderful ways when Billy expects disaffection and dysfunction and finds hardcore familial love. And the other kids are all great to watch onscreen, always eager with another funny quip or charming character quirk.
To wit, Billy’s roommate, Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer), perhaps the best personification of a sympathetic sidekick you’re likely to see all year. He’s disabled, hilarious, and he’s got a keen geek obsession. Superheroes, after all, exist in this world in spades. In fact, one of Batman’s famous baterangs is a star narrative prop, and Freddy’s knowledge of said-comic-isms comes in pretty handy when Billy gets his powers and then has to figure out what the hell to do with them.
Off world or in another realm, or wherever/whenever else you prefer, the ancient god of right-makes-might, Shazam (Djimon Hounsou), searches for a suitable replacement after millennia of tireless service. Unfortunately, the forces of evil are on the hunt for a successor, too. The clock’s seriously ticking, so in a spray of CG pyrotechnics and unexpected altruism on Billy’s part, Shazam summons our would-be hero to his mysterious throne room and endows the kid with strength, speed, flight, and of course, killer lightning powers. All Billy has to do is say his name, and he’ll transform into a musclebound adult version of himself in a red suit and sparkly white cape. Zachary Levi plays the god-like, full-grown superhero with all the adolescent joy, immaturity, and zany recklessness we’d expect from a teenager stuck in a man’s body. This is the where the movie kicks into full Tom Hanks’ Big mode, and Levi is the perfect choice. You get the sense this kind of thing is a walk in the park for him. It’s almost criminal how much fun he appears to be having.
Just as Billy begins to feel confident in his new dual identity, the evil Dr. Sivana (Mark Strong)—similarly endowed with incredible power, but by monstrous avatars of the seven deadly sins—arrives to threaten his heroic dominance, his life, and all the wonderful new people he’s come to love. The real joy of Shazam! is that it takes for granted how crucial it is to have people who care about and support you. So when Mom and Dad and all the other kids are in danger, we really feel the urgency. The filmmakers value them and what they mean to Billy, and we can’t help but do the same.
Billy Batson may not be a groundbreaking addition to the world of comic movies, but he does offer us a glimpse at a different kind of pop superhero psychology. There’s not much tragedy, horrific scarring, or trauma in his makeup, no more or less than in you or me. It’s almost a relief that the film only sparingly engages in world-ending theatrics. An interesting paradigm emerged in March and April, 2019 when Marvel Studios released Captain Marvel, and Warner Bros./DC released Shazam! As any fan will tell you, Shazam was also originally called Captain Marvel, and years ago, the two companies settled the branding dispute out of court. Apparently, Marvel was dead set on maintaining a character that carried their moniker and DC, well, maybe they realized Shazam is a better name for a boy-in-man combo that literally cannot do anything cool unless he, as the advertising declares, says the word.
But whereas Captain Marvel was a movie about finally realizing the power that always dwelt inside, Shazam! is about a sudden overwhelming change of fortune. Sometimes the thing you need most is right there in front of you. It is also admittedly the ultimate adolescent boyhood fantasy to wake up one day and find out you’ve got super powers. Shazam! won’t win any awards for exploring gender, sexuality, or race, but its heart is in the right place, and lest we forget, we could still be watching scowling Superman beating the crap out of growling Batman for no discernible reason other than MUSLCES! ANGER! KA-POW!
Billy Batson is enormously relatable, the perennial loner and outsider who has so much more to offer people than he knows. Who hasn’t felt unloved? Who’s never been lonely? Yet isn’t there always just a bit of hope in all the neglectful crap we have to put up with? Someday an amazing person will recognize me, and I’ll finally come home. It’s the emotional psychology of a movie like this that makes it so effective. Yes, the world is a terrible place sometimes, but when we take off our costumes and put away our utility belts, all we really want to do is laugh and dream.
On the surface, Shazam! is just another silly superhero movie in a sea of nearly identical offerings. But it’s also a fine example of comic book storytelling done right, supremely enjoyable, heartwarming, surprising, in fact more than enough to redeem the brooding misanthropy of other recent DC films. It rivals the very best of Marvel, and what’s more, it recognizes when a cape is just a cape. You don’t need to wipe out half of humanity or destroy the globe to bring out the hero in people. When the chips are down, all you have to do is say the word.
Am I … am I still here? Still just a slightly overweight yet lovable, handsome, and humble author/movie reviewer? I’ll work on that. We’ll get there, folks.
The new Shazam! movie gets 9 sparkling red tights out of 10
Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – Short Stories – So Much More!
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My mom and uncle are obsessed with Westerns. They grew up watching Westerns and still make time for them every weekend. While watching a Western with my mom, I had the idea of writing a young adult Western…with a steampunk twist. I brainstormed a ranch with a family secret. Along came TREASURE DARKLY.
After the first draft, it was recommended I add in a romantic theme. Thus, Clark and Amethyst fell in love. It worked. I didn’t have to force them together. They were already best friends, and it flowed that they should develop romantic feelings for each other.
Then came the challenging part. My first editor for the story wanted more romance. I wasn’t a romance writer. Sure, my main characters each had a love interest, but I wouldn’t call my early works romances.
I set out to read romance novels to get a feel for the genre. I read some young adult romances, some Harlequins, and then I discovered a love of paranormal romance. I devoured those and wanted more. Eventually, I felt ready to write my own romance.
Young adult romances are tricky. Some people don’t want any sex in YA novels; some people say its okay. I struggled with that fine line before firmly stepping onto the “no sex” side. Yes, the book does get a bit steamy, but there is never explicit sex.
“But teens already know everything about sex,” I’ve been told.
Okay, that might be the case, but it doesn’t mean every young adult book has to contain graphic sex scenes. I want my books to be more about the adventure and setting than erotica.
Jordan Elizabeth is a young adult fantasy author who dapples in the steampunk realm. You can connect with Jordan via her website, JordanElizabethBooks.com.
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The Christmas Cruise, by Tammy Tate is a really cute romance story which could have been so much more. This story combines romance with science fiction when the two main characters, who are attracted to one another but won’t admit it to themselves, both happen to be swept from their Christmas cruise in the Burmuda Triangle onto a deserted island from the past.
It’s a good plot and it could work if the characters were more developed and didn’t just accept what was happening without a second thought. The story moves from point A to point B in a fairly straight line, at a fairly quick pace, lacking any real twists or surprises. Just the fact that they are the only two to be swept away gave me trouble buying in, and when they return without any logical explaination as to how it happened, it lost me totally.
If the author had taken the time and effort to expand the plot, and portray believable reactions to absurd circumstances, The Christmas Cruise could have been a really entertaining story. As it is, it lacks depth of character and is difficult to swollow. I can only give it three quills.
Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.