Tag: Corona Virus

Breaking: Robert Pattison Has Tested Postive For COVID-19

It was just released that English actor, Robert Pattinson has tested positive for the corona virus. Due to this heart-breaking diagnosis comes the renewed halting of ‘The Batman’ just after it’s first days back in production. The movie is still slated of a 2021 release.

Image via The Indian Express

As we all know, due to the global pandemic, ‘The Batman’ and all other television and movie productions were shut down for safety.

There is no comment from a representative or from him at this time. Let us all pray for him, his family and for a speedy recovery.

Featured image via Spectator Life

Five Books to Help You Write That Novel You’re Always Talking About

Is there a killer idea for a novel gnawing at the back of your mind?  Are you stuck inside with some extra time on your hands?  While quarantine isn’t exactly conducive to creativity with all the anxiety and lack of privacy it can bring with it, it is a good time for self-evaluation and getting some extra projects done.  Here are five of the best books on writing from some of the world’s top authors to get you inspired and FINALLY at work on that novel you’re always talking about writing!


1. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

On Writing Book Cover
image via goodreads

Where else could we start than with the King himself?  The master of horror keeps things thoroughly down to earth in this engaging memoir about writing and life.  King’s advice is simple; sit down in the chair every day and do the work. “Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world,” he says.  “The writer’s job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible.”


2. Daemon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling by Philip Pullman

Daemon Voices Book Cover
image via goodreads

Most famous for His Dark Materials, Pullman writes books for children that appeal just as much to adults. This is a rambling book of essays on everything from art and religion to German marionette theatre and fundamental particles, but most of all it is a book about stories that makes you fall in love with them all over again.  Pullman says that writing “feels like discovery not invention.  It feels as if the story I’m writing already exists, in some Platonic way, and that I’m privileged from time to time to gain access to it.  The curtain twitches aside for a while; the moon comes out from behind a cloud, and illuminates a landscape that was previously invisible.”


3. The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman

The View from the Cheap Seats Book Cover
image via goodreads

This one isn’t technically a book on writing but it shows Gaiman’s love for stories and approaches art in a fun, comfortable way. It reveals a lot of the anxiety that comes from sitting in front of a blank page. It’s a motley assortment of articles from various publications and it’s a grab bag of treasures.  Go ahead, reach in.  Did you get a piece on how porn and musicals are basically the same thing? A touching essay on how to deal with pain through making art? A strange, dreamy tale about Gaiman’s future wife dying over and over again? (It’s not as dark as it sounds, I promise.)  Whichever you pick, you will be vastly entertained and hopefully inspired.



4. Let Me Tell You: New Stories, Essays, and Other Writings by Shirley Jackson

Let Me Tell You Book Cover
image via goodreads

The writing section of this book doesn’t come until page 374 and only lasts for forty-two but those contain enough good advice to fill a library.  The essay ‘Garlic in Fiction’ alone is worth the price of admission.  Jackson is one of my favorite writers of all time and an absolute pro at creating subtle suspense and gut-wrenching twists.   “I cannot find any patience for those people who believe that you start writing when you sit down at your desk and pick up your pen and finish writing when you put down your pen again,” she says. “A writer is always writing, seeing everything through a thin mist of words, fitting swift little descriptions to everything he sees, always noticing.”


5. Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer

Wonderbook Book Cover
image via goodreads

This one is geared specifically towards speculative fiction though much of the advice applies to all genres.  Entirely illustrated and thoroughly fun, this one is a bit bonkers in the best way possible.  VanderMeer uses other authors plentifully to map out (literally) the process of writing.  Full of writing exercises and ideas that will call out to the child inside you, this is an excellent way to get those creative juices flowing.



Featured Image via Hindustan Times

5×5: Celebrate Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month

Welcome back to another installment of our series 5×5 in which we ask five authors of similar backgrounds, five questions. This month, to celebrate Asian/Pacific Islander American Heritage Month we spoke with incredible authors such as, Brian Tashima, Alka Joshi,  Julia Kagawa, Mary Choy and Seema Giri.


image via NSVRC

Brian Tashima, independently published his four volume young adult/sci-fi fantasy series, The Joel Suzuki Series.

As a sensitive sixteen-year-old with Asperger’s Syndrome living in a single-parent home, Joel leads a stressful life full of bullies, bad grades and money woes. Figuring that stardom will solve all of his problems, he accepts Marshall’s offer. But once Joel arrives in the new world, he finds himself faced with an unexpected audition that is unlike anything he has ever imagined….

These books were inspired by Tashima’s son. Can you get anymore wholesome? Each book is filled with more magic then the last, so do yourself a favor and check out these books if you are looking for a truly inspiring experience.


Alka Joshi’s debut novel, The Henna Artist is a New York Times Best Seller and was picked as a Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club pick for the month of May.

Escaping from an abusive marriage, seventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone to the vibrant 1950s pink city of Jaipur. There she becomes the most highly requested henna artist—and confidante—to the wealthy women of the upper class. But trusted with the secrets of the wealthy, she can never reveal her own…

If Reese Witherspoon can endorse this page turner, how could you not pick this book up? Joshi spins a masterful tail of self-discovery and female empowerment that echoes very close to home. Even though the story is set in the fifties it is even more relevant now.



Julie Kagawa is the international best selling author of many a series but many of you may know her best from The Iron Fey Series .

The Faery realms have always weathered the clash of Summer and Winter fey, the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. Now a new breed of faery has emerged to challenge both… to their peril. Forged by Man’s insatiable pursuit of technological superiority, the terrifying Iron fey are massing…and the fate of all faeries hangs in the balance. The greatest weapon in this epic magical war? A half-human teenage girl.

She has truly innovated the fantasy genre and as a fan of fantasy and her, she comes highly recommended. Check out her other novels like The Talon Saga, Blood of Eden, The Shadow of the Fox Series.


Mary Choy, excuse me, Dr. Mary Choy PharmD, BCGP, FASHP is the director of the Pharmacy Practice for The New York State Council of Health-System Pharmacists and author.

Healthcare Heroes: The Medical Careers guide gives you the unfiltered, unedited, no-holds-barred version of what it’s really like to be a healthcare professional in the 21st century. This book features some of the best and top healthcare jobs highlighted in the U.S. News & World Report. It serves as a useful resource for readers of all ages, whether they be in middle school, high school, college or already out in the workforce.

Her new book titled HealthCare Heroes: The Medical Careers Guide is nothing short of timely. This book is here to help you with your medical career journey or inspire you to start one. In the wake of COVID-19, this will help shed some light on what health is all about and make you appreciate all of the very hardworking nurses and doctors serving during this time.


Seema Giri PMP is a Holistic Lifestyle strategist, international speaker and award winning author. Her newest project with fellow co-authors, Break Free To Stand In Your Power will be available June 17, 2020.

It is a compilation where authors share their own journeys from breaking free to standing in their power…sharing encouragement, tips,and insights to help the reader break free and stand in their power more fully and powerfully than ever before!

With this book, Giri and her colleagues help us conquer and improve our mindsets. It allows us to break free from who we were born to or where we were raised by teaching us how to live our lives to fullest we can. Do yourselves a favor and pick it up when it drops next month.



Q/A Time!


  1. How has your writing journey/process changed since the COVID-19 outbreak?

Brian Tashima: I’m thankful and fortunate that it hasn’t changed all that much. For me, writing is a solitary activity that I’ve been doing at home for years, so the mechanics of the process haven’t been affected. I suppose there’s been a slight uptick in distractions, as I tend to check the news more often than before, but otherwise, as far as the actual work goes, I’ve been plugging away like usual. Obviously, I haven’t been able to do the in-person promotional events that I used to, but fortunately I can still do things like virtual school presentations and questionnaires like this one. I do feel bad for the independent bookstores that have supported me and I hope that they make it through this challenging time.


Alka Joshi: On March 3, 2020—just weeks before the lockdown—MIRA/Harper Collins released my debut novel, The Henna Artist. Writing the novel to honor my mother had been a 10-year journey, and my heart sank deeper as, one by one, each book event was canceled. Then, on March 11, my editor called: Reese Witherspoon had selected The Henna Artist for her May book club pick! My calendar was suddenly flush—this time with essays, radio interviews, cooking videos and virtual book club discussions. How I interact with readers now is different than what I had envisioned—in many ways, it’s better, more direct, and with a wider reach than I’d thought possible.


Julie Kagawa: Honestly, it hasn’t. Writing is a solitary thing for me, I sit in my office for eight hours a day and I write. I know I’m lucky in that the outbreak really hasn’t affected my writing that much. 


Mary Choy: Initially, my schedule had been filled with speaking engagements, travel to conferences, bookstore events, and lecture halls. With the shift to virtual events, I turned “travel time” into “writing time.” As the world is seeing many healthcare heroes in action, I have been reading and gathering insights to include unique stories and careers for the next Healthcare Heroes book. I’ve also made time to write articles, medical lectures, and be involved with more interviews. I’ve lectured to medical students on the cultural and societal implications within this COVID-19 pandemic and written about how a pharmacy department at the epicenter of the outbreak is leading the initiative to combat COVID-19. With the shift to virtual classrooms, I have been writing educational materials to complement the Healthcare Heroes book for schools to use for their students. During this time of reflection, I am grateful to be writing every day. 


Seema Giri: I feel I am writing more and doing more FB lives to empower people to focus on doing things that are in their control, to be aware, informed and take precautionary and preventive measures but to be careful not to get lost in the negativity. I have even have launched my blog and podcast called Break Free to Brilliance. Covid 19 outbreak happened to occur during the launch of  my second book Break Free to Stand in Your Power Anthology with 17 co-authors. The mission of the book is to inspire, educate and empower people to breaking powerfully free from life challenges to live and shine fully. I feel humbled that my co authors and I have this opportunity to serve and support even more people in this hour of need globally


2. What has been the driving force behind your writing career?

Brian Tashima: Primarily a desire to help make the world a more positive place through my work, not only through accurate and respectful representation of minority groups as characters in my stories, but also via direct philanthropy as well. To elaborate, my main young adult novel series features a protagonist who is both autistic and Asian-American, and I donate a dollar from each book I sell to a nonprofit organization called Autism Empowerment which works to improve the quality of life for people and families in the autism community.


Alka Joshi: Like my protagonist Lakshmi, I’m “eager to learn, to develop my skills, to make a life I can call my own.” These desires, and the desire to reimagine a life for my traditionally- raised mother, who didn’t get to choose whom she married or whether she wanted a career but who made sure that I, her only daughter, would be able to determine my destiny, compelled me to write about my birth nation, its incredibly resilient women, and its rich culture. 


Julie Kagawa: The love of story. Stories that can make you laugh, cry, cheer and rage are the stories that will stick with you forever. It doesn’t have to be in a book, either. Many times I find inspiration in movies, anime and video games. The ones I remember are the ones that had characters I connected with, a world I adored, and a seemingly insurmountable quest or problem to overcome. I try to infuse that sense of story into my own books, and that has been the driving force behind my career.


Mary Choy: The driving force behind my writing career has been my passion for educating and inspiring others. As a professor, I created a medical writing elective and taught students the art of writing to guide them towards publishing their works. I also held writing workshops for pharmacists and equipped them with the tools to publish and present at national conferences. I keep people up-to-date on health information for various medical topics. My writing has helped promote cultural awareness and improve health literacy in leading educational initiatives in preventative care for the public.


Seema Giri: I was encouraged by my peers and colleagues how important it was to share my transformation of being bedridden with chronic pain to becoming a successful entrepreneur and living life on my terms to teach others that the same life transformations are also possible for them.



3. When did you know that you wanted to become a writer?

Brian Tashima: I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I was a kid reading everything I could get my hands on, from novels like The Lord of the Rings and The Sword of Shannara to Spider-Man and X-Men comics, all of which sparked a desire to create similar stories of my own. Over the years, I made some attempts at writing a novel, but I never found the right inspiration or motivation to see it all the way through. Then one day, my then-eleven-year-old son—who is on the autism spectrum and had been reading things like Percy Jackson and The Hunger Games—came up to me and said, “hey, Dad, would you write me a book?” And so that’s when my writing career really began.


Alka Joshi: Shortly after our marriage, my husband pointed out to me that I could be a fiction writer. I’d been writing copy for commercials and print ads for years, never believing that I could be a literary writer. I began with evening writing workshops. My instructors were always so encouraging that I kept going, finally enrolling in a two-year MFA program when the 2008 recession put a halt to my advertising/marketing business. My thesis became the first draft of The Henna Artist


Julie Kagawa: Around 16 or 17, when I decided I didn’t want to be a veterinarian after all because of all the math and science that was involved.


Mary Choy: I knew from a very young age that I wanted to write and started writing in my teens. In a yearly Chinese school writing competition, my essay was chosen and I won a medal. The competition results received media coverage and it was the first time I saw my name in print. This experience reinforced my interest in writing and educating others. When I worked at Weill Cornell Medicine/New York Presbyterian Hospital, a colleague mentioned ‘medical writing’ to me as a potential career path and I knew I had to learn all about it. Medical writers share news and research that is improving health outcomes and saving lives. I published my first research article in a medical journal focused on heart health and life as a writer began.

Seema Giri: I always thought that writing books, sharing stories and empowering others through this medium was for others. I admired them from a distance. I never in my wildest dream ever think that I too would be an author. I feel the writing choose me


4. Did you choose your genre or did your genre choose you?

Brian Tashima: I guess you could say that it’s a bit of both. As a reader, science fiction and fantasy has always been my favorite genre, so when it came time to create my own project, that was naturally the sandbox that I chose to play in. Like they say—write what you know.

Alka Joshi:  My genre chose me. As an immigrant child in Iowa, I wanted to be American, not Indian. But when my mother became nostalgic for India in her later years, I accompanied her on multiple trips to Jaipur—staying for a month at a time—and experienced India’s rich, vibrant, chaotic culture through the eyes of an adult. The sweetest treat was spending so much time with my mother—just the two of us—and delving deeper into her girlhood, her early desires and why she raised me so differently from her own upbringing. So, much to my surprise, my first foray into the literary world became a novel about India. 

Julie Kagawa: The genre definitely chose me. My favorite genre has always been fantasy; its all I read growing up. Once or twice, I’ve tried writing pure contemporary, but then things like vampires and unicorns started showing up in the story, so I decided I was a fantasy writer through and through.

Mary Choy: The genre of writing a healthcare careers book for youth definitely chose me. As a clinical pharmacist, professor, and mentor, I have enjoyed training healthcare professionals, networking, and empowering many students to find their right career path. Upon reflecting and discussing my own experiences about how I got into healthcare, students were most drawn to personal stories. Sharing this knowledge is vital to empowering youth to finding their right career path. Giving curious kids a chance to learn what these brave healthcare workers do is how we can engage and nurture our next generation of healthcare heroes.

Seema Giri: Definitely the genre chose me. I am excited that through this genre I can provide a platform for others to share their brilliant story


5. What is on your quarantine reading list?

Brian Tashima: Some old Xanth novels from Piers Anthony and an essay collection by Ryan Britt called Luke Skywalker Can’t Read and Other Geeky Truths. I’ve also been reading a lot of Japan travel memoirs, like Lost in Tokyo, Across Tokyo, Pretty Good Number One, Tune in Tokyo, and Not One Shrine. Before the pandemic, I had been planning a trip to Japan with my daughter—who is also really into learning the language and culture—and we hope to still be able to make it over there as soon as conditions allow. So, in the meantime, I’ve been whetting my appetite and living vicariously through other people’s experiences. I’ve always felt that reading can transport you to other worlds and places, so if you can’t be there for real, then a book is the next best thing.

Alka Joshi:  It’s difficult for me to read fiction right now; all my social media interactions, essays and interviews are about the world of The Henna Artist. But when it’s a different genre, a mystery like The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey or a multi-generational story set in a different country like Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko, I can totally get lost in it!

Julie Kagawa: Mostly the words on my computer screen. Its Deadline Crunch Time, and I have a couple big projects to get through, so sadly reading for pleasure has been put on the back burner for now. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back to it soon. 

Mary Choy: As we’re all adjusting to the new normal, it’s the ideal time to read some new books as an escape from reality. My quarantine book list that keeps me inspired is a mix of mystery, thriller, love, happiness in business, fantasy, and Asian folk tales. Here’s what’s on my list: Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok, Perfect Distraction by Allison Ashley, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh, and A Shape of the Night by Tess Gerritsen. With young kids at home, I eagerly unwrapped new Harry Potter books that I bought over 20 years ago. I knew they would quickly become fascinated with the magical adventures like I was years ago and still am and have plenty of questions for J.K. Rowling. Additional reads are Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin and Wanda Seasongood and the Mostly True Secret by Susan Lurie.

Seema Giri: The books on my quarantine reading list are Becoming by Michelle Obama, Anatomy of Spirit by Carolyn Myss, The Two Most Important Dates by Dr. Sanjiv Chopra.


Thank you for joining us for this month’s 5×5!


featured image via Bookstr

Feel Trapped? So Do These 6 Literary Characters

Many of us feel trapped these days. For the past several months, it’s been a struggle being unable to interact with our friends and family, and why wouldn’t it? Human are naturally a social animals, interacting with others is integral for our mental heath – even the most introverted of our kind still need to speak with their loved ones every now and again.

In fact, socialization is so paramount to our species that many of the tales we’ve told each other have to do with characters fighting to keep their sanity as they spend months, years, sometimes even decades, separated from human contact. If you’re looking for some cathartic, psychological relief amidst this self-quarantine, here is a list of the top six literary characters that are also trapped.


6. Mark watney – the martian

Image via Amazon

At least your nearest neighbor isn’t over ninety six million miles away. In The Martian by Andy Weir, the crew of NASA’s Ares 3 mission have arrived at Acidalia Plantia for a planned month-long stay on Mars. After only six sols, an intense dust and wind storm threatens to topple their Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV), which would trap them on the planet. During the hurried evacuation, an antenna tears loose and impales astronaut Mark Watney, a botanist and engineer, also disabling his spacesuit radio. He is flung out of sight by the wind and is presumed dead.

As the MAV teeters dangerously, mission commander Melissa Lewis has no choice but to take off without completing the search for Watney, but, of course, he survives the storm (It wouldn’t be much a book if he hadn’t) and has to spend the next eighteen months battling both starvation and isolation as NASA hastily devises a way to rescue him.


5. The young woman – The yellow wallpaper

Image via Amazon

The Yellow Wallpaper is a short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and is a collection of journal entries written by an unnamed woman whose physician husband confines her to the upstairs nursery as a cure for her “temporary nervous depression” and “slight hysteric tendencies” after she gives birth to their baby. The story makes striking use of the descriptions of the room to illustrate to the reader just how long the narrator has been imprisoned, and how, slowly but surely, her grasp on what is real unravels.  She begins to see the yellow wallpaper mutate, and eventually sees a figure she believes is trapped behind the changing patterns. It’s a story that tells the terrifying tale of what happens to a person when their mind is starved of stimulation.


4. Jessie burlingame – gerald’s game 

Image via amazon

TW: For sexual assault

Once I tell you the plot of Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game, you’ll probably be wondering why he’d  dedicate this book specifically to his wife and daughters. Jessie Burlingame and her husband Gerald have recently incorporated bondage into their lovemaking, a recent edition to their marriage that both parties find exciting. Until one day when Jessie finds herself reluctant and asks Gerald to stop after he handcuffs her to the bedpost, but he ignores her.

Realizing that her husband is planning to assault her, she kicks him in the chest, causing him to have a fatal heart attack. At first, Jessie is only horrified at her husband’s death and fears the embarrassment of being discovered naked and handcuffed, but then realizes that the situation is far more dire. She’s up at their lakehouse, and the usual residents have gone home for the season. As Jessie desperately considers and rejects plans, a combination of panic and thirst causes her to see hallucinations of three characters, who all force her to confront her dark past.


3. the boys – lord of the flies

image via amazon

Spending too much time with your family and resisting to urge to claw their eyes out? In the midst of a wartime evacuation, a British airplane crashes on or near an isolated island in a remote region of the Pacific Ocean. The only survivors of the crash is a group of young boys. In the beginning, the boys work together to survive, even establishing a loose democratic structure, but as the weeks turn to months, order begins to break down. William Golding’s Lord of the Flies  allegorically shows us how our impulse toward civilization fights our impulse for power, but also how sometimes the only thing worse than being stuck by yourself is being stuck with people you can’t cooperate with.


2. chief bromden – one flew over the cuckoo’s nest

Image via Amazon


Ever sometimes feel all alone even when you’re surrounded by people? Ken Kessey, author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, shares with us how, sometimes, isolation is more of a mindset rather than a location. Set in an Oregon psychiatric hospital, the book is narrated by Chief Bromden, half-Native American man who pretends that he’s deaf and mute. While Bromden may be the main character, his tale mostly focuses on the rebellious actions of Randle McMurphy, who faked insanity to serve his sentence for battery and gambling in luxury rather than at a work camp, but he soon discovers that the hospital is anything but.

Bromden often retreats into the “fog” when he’s too afraid, a place in the deep recesses of his mind where he can escape from the real world, a place he finds comfortable, yet also a place McMurphy tries to pull him and the other patients out of, so they could confront the cruelty of the hospital staff and live their lives again.


1. Jack – room

image via amazon

Jack is a five-year-old boy who lives with his mother in a place he calls “Room”, a secured single-room outbuilding containing a small kitchen, a basic bathroom, a wardrobe, a bed, and a TV set. Because it is all he’s ever known, Jack believes that only Room and the things it contains (including himself and his mother, who he calls “Ma”) are real. Ma, unwilling to disappoint Jack with a life she cannot give him, allows him to believe that the rest of the world exists only on television.

She tries her best to keep Jack healthy and happy via both physical and mental exercises, keeping a healthy diet, limiting TV-watching time, and strict body and oral hygiene. The only other person Jack has ever seen is Old Nick, who visits Room at night while Jack sleeps hidden in a wardrobe. What Jack is unaware of is that Old Nick has kidnapped Ma when she was nineteen years old and has been keeping her imprisoned for the last seven years. This horrifying tale show us how damaging permanent isolation can be, especially to a child.


featured image via boston magazine