Monday, 29 June 2009

Online Mags

I 've not been keeping too well, the hayfever and cold combination has floored me more than I expected. Slowly getting back to normal. The strong antihistamine makes me drowsy. Not upto my 'ole sparklin' self. Brilliant weather in Glasgow but not for people like me with allergies.

I was thrilled to be informed that my book 'Twice Born' and its review by Susan Abrahams has been posted on an Online magazine . I was told that this online magazine has 28,000 readers in North America, hope some would be interested in reading the novel.Though all new writers are using the net, to get noticed is no easy task as it is so vast. Couple of my followers emailed me asking why my blog was not being updated. I wish they would write some comments or link my blog to their sites as it would help a lot to get more exposure for 'Twice Born'.
Doing some research for my next book I was surprised to note that a new 'Madras Day' is celebrated on August 22 nd in my birth city of Madras/Chennai. There are some great photos and activities about the wonderful city on Have a read when you have time. The photograph on the front page is worth looking at. The photo below evokes memories of the beach where I used to enjoy an evening with my family, standing in the water and screaming as the foamy surf engulfed our feet.

I am reading the tome (936 pages) 'Shantaram' at last after years of it lying in my bedside pile. I lawys felt it was too long and Ineed time to read it. I have made a start and it is good. Also a book of poetry collection by Maya Angelou, a poet who writes exactly what she feels. Rich, exquisite in some and deeply moving her work should be a must read for all.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Book Groups

Been a bit ill with the flu and awful hayfever, a chronic condition that spoils the beautiful summer here for me. But hey that's life and I should be grateful for so many other things in life. Like having wonderful friends who invited me to their book groups. I got the experience of talking to people who have read my book and asked questions about the characters, the plot and how I managed to write my first novel. Both groups were extremely useful for me to get direct feedback. The positive feedbacks made it all worthwhile. One of the ladies said 'my husband asked me to tell you that he read your book in one go and loved it, he's looking forward to the next one'. It is so reassuring that 'Twice Born' appeals to both men and women. I am still not used to being addressed as an author and have to remind myself that this is the life of an author. All I need now is to get one good review in the national newspapers.
I had to miss the Westend Festival event as I was quite ill with hayfever and a mild bout of flu, not swine fever I hasten to add.
Last night I was at Milngavie Bookshop celebrating the Independent Booksellers week. A.L.Kennedy read from her book'Day'. Her style is quite unique. The shop plied us with glasses of champagne and strawberries dipped in chocolates. Now that's a sure way to get people to enjoy the evening.It was also good for me to see that only one copy of my book was left on the shelf in the shop, so I need to give them more copies of 'Twice Born'.

Thursday, 11 June 2009


Early notice of Oxfam's Bookfest that I am taking part in.

Here is the info:

World Poetry Night, July 14th
@Oxfam Bookshop

Featuring Indo-Scot poet Leela Soma and Zimbabwean Tawona Sithole.
An instore evening of poetry and music to inspire and educate.
There will an opportunity for budding poets to read from their own work and refreshments will also be provided.
7.30 pm start. £2 entry.
Address: Oxfam Bookshop, 330 Byres Road.
Tel: 0141 338 6185.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Blog a Penguin India Classic

When I was on holiday in USA I received a letter and a book, a Penguin India Classic with a request, asking if I would like to write a review on their recently launched 'Blog aPenguin India Classic' site. On my return home, I thought it such an honour that I set about the task after my Borders book launch. It is a book that Iam familiar with but writing a review for such an ancient text that is revered and held in great esteem made me feel quite nervous. Well, I 've had a go. Here it is:

The first rhyming words one hears as a child, a mere play on words to infant ears, steep into one’s conscience and are never forgotten. The first couplet of the Kural by Tiruvalluvar, translated by P.S. Sundaram is ingrained in the DNA of most Tamil children:

“A begins the alphabet
And God, primordial, the world.”

The cadences, inflections and richness of the mother tongue become part of our heritage, of who we are. As a child I remember the joy of reciting this couplet and feeling proud to have mastered the tongue-twisting beauty of these words. Rereading this Penguin Classic ‘Tiruvalluvar The Kural ‘translated by Professor P.S Sundaram was a wonderful task, reliving those moments of childhood etched in my mind.Scholars debate that the date of the ‘Kural’ could be anything from the second century BC to the Eighth century AD. As Professor Sundaram has explained in his excellent introduction, translations of the Kural have been in existence since 1700’s, first in Latin by the missionaries and then in English by various authors. So what is unique about this edition by Penguin India as part of their Penguin Classics Project? The author’s introduction clearly illustrates both his erudition in Tamil and English as well as his vast research on the classical texts. He has read extensively on the Kural, starting with the ‘terse and obscure’ work of the thirteenth century commentator Parimeelazhahar.

The Kural itself is unique. It is comprised of 1330 couplets written in a “metrical line of two feet, or a distich or couplet of short lines, the first of four and the second of three feet.” The work is also divided into the three themes of Virtue, Wealth and Love. Such clear and concise explanations by Professor Sundaram assist a layman like me in understanding the layers of this ancient text which has survived for centuries and continues to be read in Tamil, a “living language” unlike Sanskrit.

The book is set out in a simple format. Here is an example from page 15:“Valluvar knew the value of words and didn’t waste any. He took delight in rhyme, repetition, pun and alliteration and exploited them to the full to drive home a point“Cling to the One who clings to nothingAnd so clinging cease to cling.”is typical in its English of much of the brevity and wordplay of the Kural.”The author has translated the couplets in language that has not diminished the beauty of its rhyme. The copious notes at the end (pages 157-168) would help all readers to understand the nuances of the text. He has often compared them to Western literature: for example Stanza 5 is compared to Milton’s Lycidas, stanza 702 to Hamlet, stanza 716 to The Pilgrim’s progress by Bunyan. He also makes references to the Manusamhita, the Bhagavad-Gita and Arthasastra.

I would highly recommend this Penguin Classic as a great ‘dip-in’ book for one to keep by one’s bedside. This is a book that one will never tire of, a book that one could revisit for the sheer universality of its messages. Its words, scribed on palm leaves, can be read and marveled as they resonate with life in the twenty first century. The Kural would be a valuable addition to everyone’s collection of well-loved books.

To paraphrase the Kural Stanza 783:

“Good books are like good friends - A perpetual delight.”

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

West End Festival

glasgow's west end festival 09 13th - 28th June
This is a magnificient Festival with a carnival atmoshpere. Starts with a parade and the two weeks are crammed with over 200 events. Its perfect for all the family and often the sunshines too.
I will be participating in the West End Festival with the Federation Of Writers Scotland at Hillhead Library on the 18th June. Do come and support all of us, the budding poets and writers at the event. Free at 1.30 and 3.30.I also have two bookgroup invites one on the 15th of June and another on the 17th of June. All this is such a steep learning curve and I am enjoying it thoroughly. I write because I love it and all these new things are wonderful bonuses.
How is novel 2 progressing? Well, I lost 20, 000 words as I forgot to save it on my memory stick. I feel so devastated. Need to rework the scenes in my mind and write it again.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Comments on 'Twice Born'

I have had some great feedbacks.The first one here is from a blog after reading a book review of 'Twice Born' and an interview online by Suzan Abrams. The rest are from people who came to the event in Borders.


A fascinating interview, Suzan, and I know that I’ll want to read this book. I have been all over South India and have also visited Glasgow. These two places are so utterly, wonderfully incommensurable that I can’t wait to read someone so intelligent linking them. That was such a wizard idea you had to show us the views from the window of her study. Now if only the garden weren’t quite so immaculate … sigh. : )

Hi Leela,

You did brilliantly - you should be very proud of yourself.

Hello Leela
Thanks so much for inviting me to your launch. I have kept all my questions for the book circle on the 15th which I and the other members are really looking forward to. Your launch was a tremendous compliment to your achievement of having your first book published. I am sure it will sell well to great acclaim.
See you soon.
Dear Leela
It was a most enjoyable launch, your reading especially - and what a good turnout! Some of these events are rather sparsely attended. I think you were right to keep it shortish. I'm sorry i had to had to rush off too - in pursuit of Monica - as an earnest lady was asking your opinion of Forster's Passage to India ! I hope sales go well, and good luck with the next novel.
Dear Leela
I was going to thank you for the invitation to a really enjoyable event - I'm sorry I didn't stay around but I'd had a busy morning and was a little tired. It was great to see such a big and keen audience and a real coup to have Ron introduce you. I'm so glad you got the main Borders for the launch in the end.

All the best

Hi Leela
I thought it went extremely well and was so pleased to see such a good turnout for you. Unless you are combining it with a social event I don’t believe it’s a good idea to make it over long.You spoke very well and I enjoyed your readings.Thanks for the pic – it has confirmed my belief that I don’t have a good side! When I’ve got a moment I’ll send on one of the photos I took of you to Chris to put on the Strathkelvin website. Will also put in a review when I’ve had the chance to read your book – things have been so chaotic recently that I just haven’t had the time to read anything.
Kindest Regards
Hello LeelaMarion and I thoroughly enjoyed last night and thought you spoke for a perfect length of time. I must congratulate you on speaking so clearly and with the right balance of humour. Super that two of your ex students were there too. Marion went off to bed last night with your wee book of poems that I bought last summer and said she was only sorry she couldn't take longer over the reading of the poemsI hope you were able to sign lots of copies of the book. Marion was thrilled with hers and is going to start reading it properly on the plane home. I hope to find time to return to my editing of Love Re-Born and hope that some of your inspiration rubs off!!Love from Irene
Hi Leela

So sorry I can't be there, as you know election day is a busy one for politicians! But congratulations on your book being published, and I hope this evening's launch goes well
Best wishes
Hi Leela, Thanks for this, I'll pass this on to my team. We put a picture up on our website, please have a look if you have the chance. It was lovely working with you, and please keep us in mind when the second book comes out! Have a lovely weekend
Best Wishes
Leah (supervisor @borders Glasgow)

Borders Launch

The Borders book launch was a resounding success. Lots of people turned up, standing room only. The event's highlight for me was the fact that Ron Grossett of Geddes and Grossett introduced me to the audience with wonderful words, that revealed his deep love for India. He related some funny incidents in Madras/ Chennai and concluded by reading my poem 'This is my ain land' It sounded perfect in his Scots accent. I loved the phrase' 'Twice Born in her tartan sari' , an apt description of my dual identity. For so many people to come out on a working night and queue to buy my book was heartwarming. Two of my pupils whom I had taught and the headteacher of the school I had worked in came over too. Borders did a magnificent job of providing a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. Signing the book was a strange feeling almost wondering if it was really me, an actual author in the world largest bookstore chain.It has certainly fired me to get on with my next book. An exciting offer has come in and I'll reveal it when confirmed. Watch this space!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009


An article in my local council's magazine summer edition. Nice to be mentioned alongside Alan Bissett who is one of Glasgow's 'hot young author'.
Author Leela tells her story
EAST Dunbartonshire Council’s
libraries are hosting events
throughout the year to celebrate
‘Homecoming’, the events programme
celebrating Scotland’s great
contributions to the world.
One of these events showcased one
of Scotland’s brightest writing talent,
Leela Soma, who gave a reading at
Milngavie Library. She is a local author
from Milngavie whose first novel
‘Twice Born’ has just been published.
Alan Bissett, one of Scotland’s leading
young authors also talked about his
latest novel ‘Death of a Ladies’ Man’
which is due to be published in July
this year.
Leela said, “The reading was really
excellent. Everyone seemed to enjoy it
and I think it’s a great way to give new
writers some exposure.”

edlife is produced by the Corporate Communications Team, East Dunbartonshire
Council, Tom Johnston House, Civic Way, Kirkintilloch, G66 4TJ.
For further information:

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