Small Things #35 – Do authors make enough money?

It was a delightful break when I went to my kids’ school for an Author Visit. I have virtually visited a class before but this was the first opportunity where I was directly interacting with my little readers. My sons have been quite proactive in marketing my children’s books in their school and most of their friends and teachers know me as a writer.

When I went to the elementary class, I found all the little ones eagerly awaiting my arrival – a real author! My son looked proud and embarrassed (I know the feeling). I felt all eyes on me and it made me smile. I knew they were evaluating and trying to understand me. They might have thought my Indian-English accent funny & different’. But most of them wanted to know – How do I put my books on Amazon? So, I chose to answer that question at the very end of our interaction to keep them hooked.

Although a little shy and reluctant in the beginning, they opened up after I finished reading ‘The Boy Named Joy’ to them. Their amazing teacher had projected the book on the smart screen and it was quite an immersive experience.

Do authors make enough money?

Almost all kids had questions for me but we were running out of time. However, one particular question by a curious kid stood out to me – Do authors make enough money?

Honestly, we all know how hard it is for an author to make a living out of books (traditionally or self-published). It’s even more difficult for a self-published author to make a set income because there is less support and validation. Unless, of course, with a strange quirk of luck, amazing things can happen and a book becomes a bestseller (Peter Rabbit and Legally Blonde are great examples).

But the problem was how to tell the kid the cold, blatant truth without discouraging him. I wanted to tell him that it’s all about perspectives. Realists would call an author a failure in terms of material gains while a dreamer would worship him for being visionary, motivational, and inspiring. It’s a truth that only a handful of people stay dreamers throughout their lives. They remain a child. While everyone around them grows up and looks at them with contempt for being ‘impractical’ in the ways of the world.

Isolation, derision and rejection are an integral part of an author’s life. And authors often feel pulled in two different directions – the classic money vs dreams story.

He sat there with his question, eager to get an answer. And I was weighing the pros and cons of my answer.

After a pause, I told my little reader – Authors may or may not make enough money but what they do is meaningful – they touch lives.

As I headed home after explaining to the kids about publishing on Amazon through the Kindle Direct Publishing program, I was smiling. It was a smile borne out of sheer joy and meaningful interaction.

Images courtesy Google

Digital Sketch inspired by Raja Ravi Varma

This quick digital art of an Indian lady is inspired by one of the works of the iconic painter Raja Ravi Varma, considered among the greatest painters of India. He pioneered a new movement in Indian art by setting up a lithographic press to mass-produce copies of his works.

I believe two major reasons behind the massive success of the artist (as compared to contemporaries like Pestonjee Bomanji, Rustom Siodia, and MV Dhurandar), was first, he created a beautiful version of his sitters (especially females) with large pensive and expressive eyes, full lips and curvy figures. And second, he reached the masses by creating prints of his works.

But during his lifetime, all was not hunky-dory as he was criticized several times by art reviewers. Interestingly, he was criticized for adopting Western Realism in his paintings and color choices. His works were termed ‘calendar art’ and he suffered the wrath of conservatives for his nude works. But the legendary artist lives on as generations after generations continue to be inspired by his vibrant, beautiful paintings.

A typical day in the life of artist Raja Ravi Varma and his brother

Recently, I found a book (Art and Nationalism in Colonial India 1850-1922 by Partha Mitter) that describes his daily routine. It is interesting how the master and his talented brother worked together to deliver masterpieces. “A typical day of Ravi (Raja Ravi Varma) and Raja Varma gives us a vivid idea about their professional routine. In Bombay, it was a settled existence completing commissions. For Ravi, who was more orthodox than his brother, the day began with a ritual bath and prayer, followed by a long working period, punctuated by an afternoon siesta. The work was efficiently divided into portrait commissions with tight deadlines and more leisurely production of works for the competition.”

“While Ravi Varma concentrated on mythological pictures, Raja painted landscapes when not assisting his brother in ‘more serious (portrait) work.”

The book also talks about their leisure hours, “Outside working hours, they browsed at the Taraporevala Bookshop, entertained friends, and visited the theatre. They spent summer and monsoon months in the city, going back to Kerala at the approach of autumn. During the monsoons, the paint took longer to dry and the light was ‘unsteady’. The problem of the light was solved in 1903 when the roof of their Bombay studio was glazed.”

The brothers worked on several paintings at the same time, their studio would have different paintings at different stages of completion. They often had to deal with unreasonable demands of their clients, especially women, who were “never satisfied with dress or ornaments.” And had to cater to the whims and fancies of royal patrons.

Here are some of my favorite works by the master artist, whose paintings provided a visual story to the rich Indian mythology. I hope to study and learn more from the artist by creating some more digital versions of his works.

Shakuntala by Ravi Varma
Damyanti by Raja Ravi Varma

Digital art – storiesbyshivangi, Art Prints – Google #digital #sketch #Indianbeauty #RajaRaviVarma

Paw Things#5 – The Bridgerton Connection

“A Visa holder and the Green Card make a lovely couple”…that’s my mom talking. She has been binge-watching ‘Bridgerton Season 2’ on Netflix and finds a ‘Bridgerton’ connection to everything.

I don’t know what Visa holders or Green Cards have to do with that drama series. But she finds a bizarre connection.

“Just like the lead couple in the Bridgerton romance series, where the hero and heroine are at odds with one another, visa holders play the ‘love-courtship-delayed romance’ game with Green Card all the time.”

Hmmm… woof! Funny, how mom gets influenced by TV shows and movies and finds a personal link. My brothers totally get annoyed when she puts on her ‘fake’ British accent and pretends to be a ‘Lady’.

But I like her like this – in ‘doing nothing’ mode. These days, she is not in a hurry to finish assignments or dive into research. She seems on some kind of break.

It has been a cold Spring this year. Punxsutawney Phil, the Groundhog has seen his shadow, meaning we’re in for 6 more weeks of winter. Thanks but no thanks, Mr. Groundhog! We’re all itching to go out to play.

I am blogging after a long time through ‘Paw Things’. And I have a lot to share with you but I will restrict myself to Bridgerton season 2. We are loving this season because of Kate Sharma, an Indian character played by Simone Ashley. Mom says it’s the first time a South Asian character is playing the lead in a British period drama. It’s an entertaining and inclusive show.

The story is quite gripping and we love Lady Whistledown’s letters, scheming mamas, Queen Charlotte’s whims, grand costumes, vibrant settings, elaborate mannerisms. But my mom does not quite like the make-up of the lead actresses. She thinks the makeup is too glossy…sort of oily and the foundation is not right. It spoils the natural charm of Kate (Simone Ashley) and Edwina (Charithra Chandran).

Hmmm…I do not have much idea about make-up.

For me, the star of the drama is Kate’s dog – Newton, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi. I like him. He is sass and adorable, like me. He has a ‘Happy’ face. We do look similar, don’t we?

Apart from the ‘Bridgerton’ craze affecting my mom, there is another exciting news. Happy’s Hairy Tale – Part 2 is in the making! Yay bark!

Guess, what? Mom likes to write about me in her books and I like to write about her and my family in ‘Paw Things’.

If you want to check out my first book – Happy’s Hairy Tale – The Corona Cut, please go here. My second book is based on some real-life incidents and my brothers have been brainstorming on it.

I will be back again with more great news for you. Till then, love bark from Happy Singh!

Small Things #34 – Dog Man and Cat Kid Club series books are super hilarious

I enjoy reading funny, giggly books with my kids, and Dav Pilkey’s books frequently make them laugh aloud. These are fictional, entertaining, and informative graphic novels for kids and tweens.

The latest in these fan-favorite series include Dog Man: Mothering Heights, Cat Kid Comic Club, and Cat Kid Comic Club: Perspectives.

Published by Graphix (an imprint of Scholastic), Dog Man series books are based on a “crime-biting canine who is part dog, part man, and ALL HERO!”. On the other hand, Cat Kid (Li’l Petey) books have the secondary protagonist of the Dog Man series – a smart but innocent orange kitten as the main character.

What I like about these books – The books make kids laugh and have a good time. I often see kids going for these books in the library or at book fairs. I overhear my kids laughing while reading the books. Although it may seem these books have no educational purpose, the books have lovely and inspiring messages. The illustrations are innovative, informative and these books just resonate with the kids.

What I don’t like about the books – The humor borders on crass sometimes. 

What my kids have to say – According to my second grader, “I love the books because they are funny and easy to read. My favorite book is Cat Kid Comic Club Perspectives and I like Li’l Petey because he is weird. This book teaches you how to draw as well. “

According to my fifth-grader, “I love the illustrations and the unique idea behind them. It is supposed to be written by George and Harold – characters from Captain Underpants. There are stories within stories which is really awesome. These books have some great messages.”

My kids are excited for Dav Pilkey’s next – Cat Kid Comic Club: On Purpose, which is coming on April 5th! I hope it has all the ingredients that guarantee a hearty laugh!

Disclosure – Review copies of the books were provided by the publisher.

#bookreview #books #scholastic #bookblogger

Copy-paste this cover letter to get hired!

It’s okay to have some fun while doing a serious job like job hunting which is a job in itself. Take a break from boring, staid, serious stuff in life and chuckle! Read this cover letter which I procured from the net especially to make you smile. You may copy-paste and use this funny letter. If you don’t get hired, you will make someone laugh…or get this reaction…

Dear Sir / Madam,
Should you ever condescend to pick me up for any kind of technocratic assignment, you would never feel let down or crestfallen. Since I am sure of myself and I assure you of myself now & forever.
A brief memo of my bio-data and curricula vitae, expertise and experience is appended with this note to enable you to arrive at some ineluctable conclusion. My vision,drive and workaholic nature are my greatest assets.
I state candidly and categorically that I would serve the organization with unswerving loyalty and nondigressive singleness of purpose.
With continent of regards
Thanking you

Job Seeker

*Reference will be furnished if required.

Courtesy: Quora

5 Powerful Quotes on Willingness

Nothing can defeat you, if you have child-like willingness and enthusiasm to everything. If your heart says – “Go for it, get it done, explore, you can do it” then who can stop you? You will find a way! Soon. Here are 5 positive quotes on Willingness for a motivating start to whatever you have been planning to do.

Quotes courtesy Google

Krishna Radha in Oil – The Making

It’s a challenge to paint Krishna since He is the most attractive of Gods. Also, He is quite mischievous so you can expect the unexpected while painting Him. But thankfully, He readily got himself painted and with Radha-Krishna’s mercy I am on the verge of finishing this special painting.

Painting in oil is a long, slow process as the paint needs to dry but it is a very forgiving medium. You can always make corrections if things go wrong. I had an amazing experience painting Krishna-Radha in oil – to say the least. Here is a sneak-peek to its making. Hope you like it.

First Step – Sketch and Rough Paint for Clarity
Second Step – Start adding Layers and Mixing Colors
Third step – Paint the entire canvas before adding contrast and details
Fourth Step – Continue to Iterate
Fifth Step – Continue to check details and begin finishing.

A lot still needs to be done. And soon I will begin to add finishing touches. Hope you liked it. Thank you for taking a look. Hare Krishna 🙏🏻

Who was the first Indian actress to act in an American Film?

Who was the first Indian actress to act in an American Film? No, she was not Persis Khambatta or Aishwarya Rai Bachchan or Freida Pinto. Nah, Merle Oberon or Anna Kashfi (Marlon Brando’s wife) were technically India-born British actresses! Then, who was she?

My search took me to an old newspaper report from India News Bulletin (Issued by the Embassy of India in Washington, Dated January 11, 1950) and I found an unexpected answer. She was Radha Sri Ram, who played an important role in well-known director Jean Renoir’s classical film The River in 1948.

Radha Sri Ram was not some unknown entity, rather a revered one in India. She was the president of the Theosophical Society from 1980 until her death in 2013. But her brief contribution to cinema, had been forgotten.

Early in 1951, Radha Sri Ram married Raymond Burnier, a Swiss photographer, and became Radha Burnier. Raymond had come to India in 1932 to photograph temple art, and met young Radha at BHU in Benares. It seems like Raymond Burnier played a great role in introducing her to cinema and that’s how Jean Renoir discovered her for his film, The River.

“Mrs. Burnier played a major role in the well-known director Jean Renoir’s classical film The River (Le Fleuve), based on Rumer Godden’s novel. The film was made in only five months, and was released in 1951. The producer, Kenneth McEldowney, made four trips to India in a year and a half, trying to cast the role of Melanie, because most Indian women were not permitted by their families to perform in a film, especially in a role that involved a kiss.”

“When he met Radha, he was skeptical until he saw her dance. He said – She was magnificent. She is like a goddess.”

His wife Melvina wrote, “I never knew a goddess could have such a delightful sense of humor, such honest intelligence, such understanding of people and still be so young.” Her family’s broad-minded view of culture permitted Radha to accept the film role.

Shortly after her marriage, the Burniers travelled to Beverly Hills, and then to New York with the Renoirs.

The film was well received and was influential to several Indian and American filmmakers.

During this time she met some famous people such as Charles Chaplin, with whom she shared a meal. Rahdaji was offered to participate in movies produced by Hollywood but declined the offer.”


Jean Renoir once remarked about her – “Outside of beauty or talent there are unknown reasons which make a man or a woman fit with the camera; I call them “screen animals” and I more and more believe that Radha is a screen animal.”

Unfortunately, Sri Radha’s marriage did not last and her screen career ended as well. Soon, she got involved in many cultural, educational, and spiritual activities and organizations and emerged as a leader in those fields as well.

Well, I have always loved unearthing and researching old newspaper reports to know about old forgotten entities and their stories. And the latest venture has been well worth the effort. I am sure this research will help in setting the records straight about the first Indian actress in the US.

(Images courtesy Google)

Happy New Year 2022 in Vintage Style

I wish you the brightest and grandest year of all. Have a fabulous 2022!

This vintage card from India took me down the memory lane. It is addressed to a certain Ramniklal and sent by Hiralal, who clearly seems to be a businessman. The card is in Hindi, English as well as in some other Indian language and has the image of Goddess Saraswati. The year is not mentioned but seems to be from around mid 1900s.

Years ago, around the New Year time, before messaging and internet took over, we would painstakingly write messages on cards and post it to all our relatives.

My mother drew beautiful floral patterns and my father would write the addresses in his beautiful, neat handwriting. It was a yearly ritual to give and receive New Year greeting cards.

We would receive calendars, small gifts, post cards and greeting cards during – little tidbits which we could touch, feel and preserve.

The world has changed and so have we! Our messages and replies are instant. There is no waiting time anymore, there is less anticipation and excitement. Years ago, I would feel bored by waiting to send and receive stuff. But now, I miss that feeling of anticipation.

I am grateful to 2021 for bringing back little normalcy to our lives. It was a great year as compared to 2020. And on the last day of the year, this vintage card brought smiles and lovely memories! Great, isn’t it?

Here is wishing you good health, wealth and laughter in the year 2022. May you be your highest self!

(Image courtesy Google)

10 Magical Minnesota Winter Pictures

As Minnesota puts on a magical white snow-dress for Christmas, here are some beautiful pictures for you to enjoy the holiday season! These pictures are also a reminder that unexpected, amazing things can happen to you during this time of the year!

Enjoy the winter wonderland pictures from around my place and gear up for great beginnings!

Holiday lights enchant the child in us.

It is extraordinary how light dazzles when it interacts with darkness.

Sunset and snow make magic together.

Sometimes, we are so busy running to the next that we skip the wonders of now.

A picturesque house against the colorful sky.

Behold the blushing snow maiden!

Sky is an amazing canvas, creating masterpieces every moment!

The scenery changes when it snows!

Strings of illuminating light and a clear path for the joyous traveler.

Silent night, peaceful night, all decked up in the holiday spirit.

Hope you liked the winter photography of Minnesota. Which is your favorite photo?