Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

And another Excellent Review...

This one was posted by Our Gaggle of Girls.

"The Third Eye, by Mahtab Narsimhan is a beautiful story that intertwines village life, religion, and magic in India. The young adult genre is filled with books that fit into specific niches, and I wasn’t quite sure where The Third Eye would fit - its description of Hindu Gods, fantasy, and rural Indian village life seemed very unusual.

Once I opened The Third Eye, I didn’t care what niche it fit, I just cared what happened next! There is really no way to do justice to such a unique, beautiful, intense, and mysterious novel except to strongly suggest that you read it. Mahtab Narsimhan has created a world of wonderful characters who leap off the pages. In her Acknowledgments, she thanks her son and his group of book-loving friends for reading her book - if it could pass muster with a group of adolescent boys, it has already passed the most impressive impressive test!

The Third Eye starts as a man from a village named Morni is trying to escape something that is chasing him in the forest outside the village. He doesn’t make it back to the village alive, and his body is deformed by whatever had hidden in the shadows.

In Morni, there is a lot of uncertainty - they lost their healer a year ago, along with his daughter, who left her two children. Tara and Suraj are left with their father, who is now a very different, quiet man who doesn’t say anything when his new wife Kali mistreats his children. Tara is an older sister very devoted to her family, and makes sure she takes care of the house, her step-mother, and spoiled step-sister so that she will be able to keep her brother from being beaten or losing a meal.

During the New Year celebration of Diwali, Tara and Suraj sit on the edges of the excitement, watching the villagers. A new healer arrives named Zarku, and while he seems to be able to know what is in the hearts and minds of the villagers, he makes Tara and Suraj very uncomfortable. Tara feels that Zarku’s black eyes are evil - all three of them. His third eye is what gives him his evil powers, and through those powers he can control more and more of the village. The number of signs that something is wrong in the village increase as time passes - men who disagree with the healer go missing, there are rumors of Vetalas (ghosts) wandering the forests, and life gets wore for Tara and Suraj.

Tara and Suraj leave the village on a quest to find their mother and grandfather, the powerful healer, so they can help the villagers. As they journey through the forests and around villages they have many challenges, several of which would make adults turn back. Tara does not give up, she prays to Ganesh, and finds help. She bargains with Yuma, the lord of death, as she faces one hurdle after another. Will Tara gain the courage and self-confidence to help herself?

I love novels with female lead characters, especially novels aimed at the young adult fantasy set. Like Max in Maximum Ride, Tara has put the burden of caring for others on her own shoulders, and she pulls on her own inner strengths to overcome challenges - even when she thinks the challenge is too great. The Third Eye shows women and girls in varying levels of power - heading a household, healing illnesses, helping others, and yet also shows the old custom of Sati, pushing a young widow toward her husband’s funeral pyre.

The Third Eye is a beautifully written look at rural life and mystical powers, and should appeal to most tween/young adult readers. There are several scenes which might be too intense and violent for younger tweens, however - I would suggest it for ages 12+ at least. I am going to hang on to my copy for a couple years so that my daughters can read such an inspiring story of a teenage girl’s courage as she tries to save her family and her village from evil.

I highly recommend The Third Eye for anyone with an eye for adventure. Add in mysticism, and magic, mix with the world of rural India, and you have a novel even adults can’t put down!"

And I say, thank you ladies!

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Third Eye gets a Top Choice Award

Junior and teen fiction novel, The Third Eye, received a Top Choice Award from Flamingnet for a 10/10 rating from 11 year-old book reviewer APB from Wisconsin, USA. Here’s some of what APB had to say about the book. For the full review please click on the link below.

“The Third Eye, by Mahtab Narsimhan was a definite page turner. The Third Eye described Hindu mythology and its gods, including: the God of the Sun, the Underworld, the Lord of the Dead, and the Heavens. This was a particularly easy read, but some sections of the story were a bit confusing. The Third Eye's genre would be classified as mystery/thriller/adventure. Narsimhan included wit when it was necessary, but most of the novel was serious. This book wasn't very predictable, and took some subtle and some obvious twists and turns. The Third Eye isn't the type of genre I would typically read, but I found it very well written.”
— Flamingnet, December 17, 2007

Mahtab Narsimhan

Monday, November 26, 2007

My Happy Place...

Love this picture my brother took when we visited a lighthouse in New Brunswick. The view was spectacular and the foghorn really loud.
This moment is etched in my memory in so many ways.

Tomorrow is another day.

I'm sitting here thinking if I can get away with procrastinating, researching, answering "important mail" and getting ready for tomorrow, while at the back of my mind is a voice that won't stop've got to write.

Finished the second draft of my current manuscript yesterday; 45 pages in 2 days. It felt good. And so I rewarded myself with a day off today...but that just won't shut-up.

Tomorrow I start on the sequel of The Third Eye. Well, I can't really say "start" because it's already half-written. But I stopped and lost momentum. And so tomorrow I will read through what I've written to date and then start my 1000 words-a-day quota again. I still cannot figure out what I like better, to pour my heart out through my fingertips or agonize over each word, each comma, each paragraph as the story takes on layers, meaning and shape.

As Scarlett said in Gone With the Wind, "Tomorrow is another day."

In the meantime there is some serious research I have to complete. On youtube.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Launch of Prisoners in The Promised Land on Nov 21, 2007

I attended Marsha's book launch for "Prisoners in the Promised Land" in the cosy library of the Royal Canadian Military Academy. It was a well attended affair in spite of the wicked weather.

Marsha gave a touching introduction to the book, how it came about and why it was a personal triumph for her to see it in print. For many of us who did not know about the Ukranian Internment in Canada, it was an eye-opener. I could not wait to start reading it and actually did, on my way home on the subway.

I also got a chance to present a copy of the Third Eye, to the person who helped it come into existence. It was a memorable moment.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The hosts of my fabulous launch party...

Duncan, Kevin and Cheryl.

Thank you!

The Best Launch Party Ever...

It all started as always, a regular Mother-Son book club meeting. And then came the surprises...
a) First all the spouses appeared, including mine, who'd said he had to meet a client,
b) Then all the boys trooped in, wearing t-shirts printed with "The Third Eye" cover,
c) And then came the bubbly and a wonderful formal dinner.

A memorable evening that ended with me having to "read" for my supper and sign a load of books.

Dear Anne, Anne-Louise, Cheryl and Cindy,

Thank you all for the best launch party ever!

The Bedford Bookclub Boys....

In the dim light I saw....could it be...was it...a third eye?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

CLICK: A smorgasbord of literary styles!


Just finished Click. I cannot decide whether I am absolutely floored by the way its come together or simply baffled at the "jumps" this story has taken and yet seems to be whole. It definitely warrants a second read.


Linda Sue Park starts the story perfectly with so many threads, that one can only marvel at how much she's given the authors who follow, to work with .

The story takes off as each author selects a thread and then weaves it along in their own inimitable style.

I had not read much of David Almond but was entranced by his chapter "Annie" that had a dreamlike quality, you almost had to look at it sideways.

Loved the character development of "Jason" by Eoin Colfer.

"Lev", by Deborah Ellis explains the mystery of the box that contained the shells.

A thought-provoking chapter called "Maggie" by Nick Hornby, followed by Roddy Doyle's "Vincent"- poignant with a touch of levity.

And then a chapter called "Min" by Tim Wynne-Jones. His superb use of the metaphor was evident at the end of the chapter.

Ruth Ozeki 's "Jiro" brought home a few truths about war. "

Margo" with her chapter Afela had me re-reading the chapter just to absorb her literary style.

And finally Gregory Maguire ended Maggie's journey in a totally unexpected way. Reading

CLICK was like sampling the best in children's literature, a tiny little mouthful at a time.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fan mail's here.....

Dear Mahtab,

I absolutely love your book! Last night when mom brought it home at about 10:30 I asked if I would be allowed to stay up a few more minutes to start The Third Eye. About forty-five minutes later when mom came in to check on me, I was still reading! When I arrived home from school today I read the last 175 pages straight! I especially loved the part where Tara and Mushika travel through the cave to find the Water of Life in order to save Ananth. Congratulations on writing such a fantastic book!


Thank you, Jon. This will definitely inspire me to keep writing :)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

And the most important group of all.....

The award winners of the future.....

Panel Discussion

Picture 1: (Lto R): Linda Hutcheon, Megan Whalen Turner and Ken Oppel.
Picture 2: (Lto R): Philip Pullman, Sarah Ellis and Tim Wynne-Jones
Picture 3: Sarah Ellis
Due to a very shaky hand, I have very few clear images to choose from. My apologies. Either it was the amazing line up of speakers or then too much coffee!

Philip Pullman: Poco a Poco Oct 26, 2007

Philip took the simple act of pouring water as a particle of narrative and demonstrated how it can be effectively used in a variety of ways to convey meaning in a text.

An enlightening talk! Now if I could only use it effectively in my writing....

Particles of Narrative Conference Oct 27, 2007

A day of intellectual particles of information bombarding my brain. By the end of the day, I was inspired but doubt if I could have recited the alphabet correctly if you'd asked me...

The impressive speakers included Ken Oppel, Megan Whalen Turner, Sarah Ellis, Mark Turner, Linda Hutcheon and Tim Wynne-Jones.

The Panel discussion with all the speakers was amazing, some fundamental issues of children's literature were discussed, interspersed with moments of fun and camaraderie.

Details from each speaker's talk to follow, when my over-stimulated brain calms down.

Until then, enjoy the pictures.

Monday, October 8, 2007

My baby comes home...

My mom might say her baby looks cute. But I beg to differ.

I brought mine home today and its awesome!

Yes, finally got my copy of "The Third Eye" and in spite of my claim to be a writer, words fail me.

And so I won't say any more except that I have to go. My baby needs another hug :)

Sis, a cousin and I

Many many moons ago....a birthday celebration with sis and a cousin.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


We're all waiting for something.....

As a child, I waited to grow up.

As a grown up, I waited to get rich and happy, and live happily ever after.

As a mother, I wait for my son to get back home after an overnight camping trip.

And as a writer, I'm waiting more than ever...

To hold my first book in my hands and revel in its reality,
To finish my second manuscript,
To hear from my publisher that sales are great,
To get a reply on an e-mail I've sent,
For my SASE hoping its good news.

This reminds me of a poem I'd studied in school:

On His Blindness

By John Milton

When I consider how my light is spent constantly
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide,
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts. Who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at his bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait."

And so.....I wait.....

Friday, September 28, 2007

CLICK! One Novel Ten Authors

Just got this book in my hands and what excellent timing...a cool evening, an exciting book and a glass of wine. Could one ask for anything more?

For those who don't know, they're ten of the best authors the world over, all coming together to write a chapter of CLICK.

The impressive lineup includes David Almond, Eoin Colfer, Roddy Doyle, Deborah Ellis, Nick Hornby, Margo Lanagan, Gregory Maguire, Ruth Ozeki, Linda Sue Park and Tim Wynne-Jones.

This is an Arthur A. Levine Book, an imprint of Scholastic. All royalties from the sale of this book benefit Amnesty International.

This is all I have time for....the book beckons.

Have a pleasant weekend, all!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

And the wait is almost over......

In a month's time or less, there will be a newborn in the literary world. A child that took four years from conception to birth. One that has embodies countless hours of dreaming, writing, re-writing, polishing and at least a quart of the red stuff.

The Third Eye
Published by the Dundurn Group October 2007

For Tara and her brother, Suraj, the year since their mother and grandfather fled the village of Morni in the middle of the night has been a nightmare. Their new stepmother is cruel and deceptive, and the village itself is lacking a healer. What’s more, men of the village have been disappearing, often returning in a strange, altered form.

When a new healer, Zarku, mysterious man with a third eye possessing strange power, suddenly appears in Morni, all are mesmerized by his magic-all except Tara, who sees through his evil disguise.

With nothing but her own courage and wit, Tara tries to find her missing mother and grandfather, the true healer, in time to save her village. But along the way she must enlist the help of the god Ganesh and the lord of death, Yama, or she, like others before her, will fall victim to Zarku’s third eye.

Do come back.....picture to follow shortly!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

My Other Family

"The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life.
Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof."

From: Illusions by Richard Bach.

I thought of these words when I was introduced to my "other family" a few months ago; my online critique group, Kidcrit on Compuserve. A group of warm, wacky, creative and very supportive writers who gave me the most valuable commodity in this day and age; their time.

One member of this family deserves special mention: Marsha Skrypuch. She has helped launch innumerable careers. Mine was launched with the crook of a finger. More about that another time.

In the corporate world, information is power and no one likes to share. But in this family, sharing is as natural as ants at a picnic, where all the members give freely, of their time, advice and knowledge.

And so this little note is to say thank you to all, especially Marsha. I read someplace (though I cannot find the exact words now) that when you light another's candle, it does not diminish the radiance of your own.

This perfectly embodies the essence of Marsha Skrypuch.

Thank you!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Tim Wynne-Jones: A maestro in every sense of the word

On April 26, I had the pleasure of meeting a memorable person and writer; Tim Wynne-Jones, writer-in-residence at the Toronto Public Library.

Just before he was scheduled to talk, he circulated among the attendees; librarians, aspiring writers, fans and people like me who had not read his work, but were curious to meet him just the same.

We started talking about "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott and it was progressing very well before he was dragged off to meet someone. If truth be told, I did not heap blessings on that "kidnapper." From the moment he started speaking, his warmth, his sense of humour and wit, won me over.

I met him for a second time on May 31st when he conducted a well attended workshop on “Everything you always wanted to know about writing….” By then I had read “The Maestro” which won the Governor General Award in 1995 and "Some of The Kinder Planets" (also a GG award winner in 1993) and was enchanted by his writing style and his voice. In a most informative albeit too short session, he gave a few tips on plot, dialogue and conflict. From my random jottings, three points are worth mentioning;

1) Conflict: Keeps the plot moving. Increase the stakes to grab the reader. Make a promise to the reader and then deliver on it.
2) Motivation: Why is a character doing what s/he is doing? Too much co-incidence is not something the reader will accept.
3) Don’t Explain: Let the dialogue explain the story. And never use it to deliver back-story.

Another great source of information is “Ten Things you need to know” which can be found on Tim’s website at
His passion for the craft of writing shines through in everything he says and does, with a genuine desire to guide and coach aspiring writers.

Tim ended his talk with a quote I’ll always remember. In fact I asked a writer friend Hélène who also attended the talk, to scour the Net for it (Thanks Hélène!)

"One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes."

From Write Till You Drop By Annie Dillard

NYTimes May 28, 1989

As of writing this, I have read most of his books, from “Odd’s End” to “Rex Zero and the End of the World” and am truly inspired.