, , , , , , , ,

I am so happy to have Ritu on my blog today!  I recently asked Ritu if she would do me the honor of sharing her journey to becoming a published author.  She graciously accepted and here we are!  Ritu’s second book, “Marriage Unarranged“, now sits next to her first book, “Poetic Rituals“, her book of poetry, about life, love & everyday challenges.  Today, we follow her journey into writing “Marriage Unarranged”.

I’m looking forward to seeing what else Ritu has in store for us.  I love learning more about our fellow authors, their inspirations and their achievements.  Thank you, Ritu!

Without further ado…

For those of us who haven’t met you yet (hard to believe!), please introduce yourself.

Well, to start with, hello to you all! No doubt I know a few of you, but there are sure to be plenty of readers who I haven’t had the pleasure to meet, virtually, as yet.

My name is Ritu Bhathal and I am one of those Jack (Jill) of all trades, master of none kind of people.

I am a wife and mother (and all the other family relationships too, daughter, daughter in law, sister, aunty and I even have the ‘great’ affixed to my aunt status due to a rather odd but interesting, large family), a teacher, a blogger, and poet and author.

Born in Birmingham, UK in the mid 70s to Kenyan-born Indian, Sikh parents, I grew up with an extremely colourful background. I was able to enjoy the vibrancy of the East and the tradition and culture of the British, mixed in with some spice from Africa too.

As I mentioned before, I am married to a wonderful man, who has been by my side for over twenty years. We live in Kent, the garden of England with our two children, one teen boy and one tween girl – they are ‘delightful’ – interpret that as you may! And I can’t forget Sonu Singh, my Punjabi cat, and our two parrotlets, Heer and Ranjha.

Since I was a young girl, I always wanted to teach. It was my dream come true to finally secure a position working with the children in the Early Years. Here I am, responsible for creating the foundations upon which good learning can happen.

Another dream was to go from reading amazing books, to actually writing them. My mother is an avid reader, and always encouraged me to pick books up. The earliest gift I remember, and still treasure is a complete set of the Noddy books by Enid Blyton. I still have them. I continued to read, devouring books from many authors over the years, and knew that one day, I would have a book out there with my name in the cover.

Then I discovered blogging, which fed my writing desire. With the encouragement of the people I met through the blog, my Blogily, I grew the blog from strength to strength, won awards for it, and ended up where I am right now, Award-winning Blogger and Published Author!

Why was writing this novel so important to you? You started it many years ago but put it down, then recently picked it back up. Did something occur to make you decide it was time?

Writing a novel was always a dream. Actually, writing any story was. As I have already said, I wanted to see my name on the cover of a book that I had written. I started the story that became my debut novel in 2000, so twenty years ago, as I was getting ready to get married myself. At the time, it was an outlet for my creativity, and just something I was toying with.

After it stalled at a few thousand words, I picked it up again before becoming a mother, adding a couple more chapters, after a colleague of mine read what I had written, and said she would love to read more. But then being mum became an all encompassing occupation.

The blog was the reason I finally completed my first draft.

Reading people’s posts with stories, and their own journeys to become authors inspired me. I got the courage up to post a few early chapters of the manuscript and was blown away by encouraging comments.

Of course, the biggest hurdle for me to overcome was time.

So, I carved out a period of time in August, and called it RiNoWriMo, Ritu’s Novel Writing Month, (yes, rather like NaNo, but at a time of year that I could commit. November, for a teacher is tough!). I aimed to grow that ten thousand words by at least fifty thousand more, and with the help of my blog followers, who were my online accountability team, I did it. Of course, that wasn’t the end, but I was at a point where I could see the end, of the first draft, at least, so I pushed forward and within a few months, I had that first, fully written draft.

Once that was done, there was no stopping me. This draft was going to become a novel, and I was going to make that happen, no matter what!

Tell us about “Marriage Unarranged”. What was the inspiration for your book?

Marriage Unarranged is a story about a young woman, Aashi, who is in the throes of preparing for her wedding.

The bubble of excitement she feels about this day that she has dreamt of her whole life, is popped when she discovers that her fiancé, her dream man, was cheating on her.

The story revolves around how Aashi, and her family cope with the taboo of a broken engagement, within the Indian community, and how Aashi grows from a naïve, always happy to tow-the-line girl, to a woman who becomes more capable of standing up for herself, and begins to take her life into her own hands.

I was planning my own dream wedding at the time I started writing this story, and though I knew everything was perfect for me, it got me thinking about how perfection can be tarnished in seconds. I’ve seen what happens to girls in our community when they face the shame of a broken engagement. Often, it will follow that girl around her whole life, even if the blame lies squarely with the boy. Of course, the timeline of my book is set at the time I started writing this, so the taboos, though still there, are challenged more nowadays.

As I wrote, different other culturally sensitive issues began to weave themselves within the words, with things like children out of wedlock, and exploring sexuality, as viewed by the community I had grown up in.]

In fact, these issues, and the characters who introduced them into the story, have persuaded me to write not one, but two more novels, based on Marriage Unarranged, but from their points of view. (I am hoping it won’t take me twenty years though, to get to the finish line with them!)

Did you pursue traditional publishing or did you decide to self-publish? How did you come to your decision?

Traditional vs. Independent publishing.

That is a huge decision that authors nowadays have to make. Of course, it is part and parcel of that dream to have my name on a book, to see my books on shelves in bookstores, and in the hands of the public.
I did initially start by approaching agents and small publishing houses, but as time went on, and my hair began to get greyer, I thought there must be a better way for me to realise my dream.

The responses I received for my submissions were rejections, but positive ones, nonetheless.

Along with the advice of some trusted other authors, from both traditionally and self-published backgrounds, I decided to go it alone.

Yes, it did mean becoming an expert at other skills I hadn’t realised I’d ever need, like formatting a manuscript, and marketing and promotions, along with the fun that comes with trying to find an editor, cover designer, copywriter, and a team of readers.

There is still plenty to learn, and I am slowly working my way through the maze of courses designed to help authors to self-publish, and market their work.

But I did it.

And I am pleased to say that I am a proud, independent author who, with my wonderful team, has published a book which, at the time of writing this, is showing just shy of forty wonderfully positive reviews on Amazon!

There is still plenty to learn, and I am slowly working my way through the maze of courses designed to help authors to self-publish, and market their work.

What words of wisdom do you have for others who are writing and hesitant about sharing it with the world?

Writing is a very personal thing. Some pieces we write are just for us.

But if you want to become a successful author, the end goal is to see your words being enjoyed by many.
My advice to those who are hesitant, is to start a blog.

On that platform, build a community and take part in creative challenges.

This will begin to give you feedback as to whether what you write is of interest to people.
Then, stretch it a little further.

Share snippets of what you are working on.

Find people whose opinion you value, not someone who will just gush praise at you, and give them your words to read and provide feedback on.

Something we all have to remember is that not every book is for every reader.

You will come across folk who love what you write, as well as those who aren’t enamoured of your work.
But that’s just life.

Develop a thick skin and use any constructive criticism to better yourself and your words.

If you have a story worth telling, only you can write it, and get it out there for us to enjoy, so you have to start sharing it somewhere. 🙂


Dorinda here – Thank you so much, Ritu, for sharing your journey and insights in the world of words!  I look forward to reading your next book! 😉

You can find Ritu at the following links:

Blog Website: http://www.butismileanyway.com

Author Website: http://www.ritubhathal.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RituBhathal
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ritubhathalwrites/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/butismileanyway/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RituBhathal/
Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/bhathalpadhaal/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/56854412-ritu-bhathal
Mix: https://mix.com/butismileanyway
Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/ritusmiles
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/ritu-bhathal
Bloglovin: https://www.bloglovin.com/@ritubhathalpadhaal
Amazon https://www.amazon.com/author/ritubhathal
And by clicking the following link, you get to my author profile on Amazon