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Meet Lucky 13 Golden Heart Finalist Sonali Dev

It’s hard to believe, but Nationals 2013 is nearly here, and today is the LAST of our guest blogs with the Lucky 13s. Today we’re delighted to welcome Sonali Dev, 2013 Golden Heart Finalist in the Contemporary Single Title Romance category. Her manuscript, THE BOLLYWOOD BAD BOY, has already sold, and will be forthcoming from Kensington in 2015!

Sonali’s earliest attempt at writing came when her mother caught her writing couplets about her first grade math textbook instead of doing her homework. Now she combines her mad love for words with her love for Bollywood to conjure up stories that make a crazy tangle with her life as wannabe supermom and domestic goddess, and disgruntled corporate minion. Sonali lives in the Chicago suburbs with her very patient and often amused husband and two children who demand both patience and humor, and of course her characters who can’t stop doing Bollywood dances inside her head.

Here’s a blurb for (the very delicious-sounding) THE BOLLYWOOD BAD BOY:

Mili Rathod has been bound by marriage since she was four years old. But she’s experienced the kind of freedom other girls in her village in India only dream about. All because her grandmother raised her to be a modern city wife. So when the husband she’s waited twenty years for shows no sign of coming to claim her, Mili grabs the chance to come to America on a scholarship to fulfill her other dream- to get a higher education.

Film director Samir ‘Sam’ Rathod is perfectly happy being Bollywood’s favorite bad boy. He has never wanted to be a hero. But he will do just about anything for his own hero- his big brother, even travel halfway across the globe to take care of the ‘wife’ who just crawled out of his brother’s past.

When Sam tracks down his brother’s wife, he finds that Mili isn’t quite the simple village girl he planned to bully into signing divorce papers. She’s a whirlwind, who sucks him into her roommate’s elaborate elopement- complete with enough drama to put his films to shame. Before he can gather his wits or the guts to yank her dreams from beneath her feet, she’s got him drowning in her onyx eyes and forgetting what a jaded bastard he really is. Unfortunately, Mili believes the sparks between them are just friendship and she fancies herself in love with his big brother. Can Sam and Mili learn the difference between what is real and what they’ve believed all their lives and reach for a love that breaks tradition and turns convention on its head?

Take it away, Sonali!

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sonaliprofile1Talking Sisterhoods with The Sisterhood

When the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood asks you to do a guest blog, all you can do (other than a little jig) is try and find something really truly close to your heart to talk about. Something that matters, something at the heart of writing romance, something that the Rubies nailed so poetically when they selected their name.

Sisterhoods.

Because for everything writing romance is—yes, it’s a brutal business, yes, it’s blood sweat and tears, yes, it’s feeding your poor children remnants of pizza for days upon days—it is at its heart the very essence of being a woman. A sister. A devi, the feminine goddess within us all.  In a world where even today we as women struggle to find our footing on the demanding tightrope that hinges between family and motherhood, and ambition and freedom, these stories of men the way we want them, and relationships the way we dream of them are our stories. Stories told only for us, to pander to our souls, to fan our hopes and our sexual desires. Stories of the women, by the women, for the women.

These aren’t those books where we are the shrews, the fuses that ignite the cannons of war, painted in colors of manipulation and greed one minute, and sacrifice and victimization the next. Neither are we bodies, the lyrical curves of our waists, the lush rise of our breasts described to titillate men. We’ve read those books. We might even have believed what they told us, that you put a group of women in a room and the backbiting will start, the catfights will commence. We let them put our focus on that instead of the wonderful, soothing joy the presence of other women brings to our lives. The way they prop us up, the way they hold our hand when we need it, but also the way they kick our butts with steel tipped stilettos of truth when that is what we need. For all the fodder for comedy our group expeditions to the ladies room provide, it is that need to connect, to link arms that makes us who we are.

We are our sisterhoods. I can define the entire journey of my life in terms of my sisterhoods. Starting as far back as middle school, when our little trio tried to sign our allegiance to each other in blood (too much Tom Sawyer, what can I say). And our sisterhood of four in high school, the three women who taught me friendship, and to this day remain the best friends I will ever have. Women so strong, our joke is, a neurosurgeon, a lawyer, a movie producer, and a writer walk into a bar, and no one goes anywhere near them because they’re so bloody intimidating. It was with these girls that I made the passage into adulthood, where I learned the worth of belonging, where I learned to be myself, to be loved without having to conform. They were the best things that ever happened to me at the best time in my life but also the worst most painful time. We suffered through the most horrendous fashion faux pas, muddled through so many firsts, broken hearts, bruised egos, dreams dashed. But together we made our first re-emergences, our first jobs, our first successes as we stepped out into a world that up until then we had only watched through the dingy cafeteria windows of our school.

So many sisterhoods have followed since, each one absolutely irreplaceable and essential to who I am. Women who became family as I migrated to a foreign land, they became surrogate mothers to my children, feeding them and correcting them when I wasn’t there. Surrogate mothers to me even, cooking for me in sickness, packing up my home when I moved, giving me their shoulder not just to lean on but to sob on when the juggling of family, career and marriage brought me to tears.

When I first turned earnest in my quest to be published a few years ago, I expected to find what I had seen in the corporate world—formal, distant relationships, where each stood for himself and all stood for the bottom line. A man’s world that women could only fit into if they pretended to be men in that regard. But boy was I wrong, delightfully, wonderfully and utterly mistaken. Instead what I found was the best darned example of what a formidable force girl power is.  Of how strong and supportive beauty and grace can be. How much fun you can have while still being professional and selling more books than any other genre in publishing. Where women who will salivate over a hot pair of shoes and a slick pair of pecs with you will just as easily stay up nights critiquing your book before you send it off to an editor. Where the shouts to get off your ass and get writing are just as loud as the whispers that tell you that a rejection says absolutely nothing about you.

Where a Susan Elizabeth Phillips will share with you all the wisdom it has taken her decades to gather without a moment’s thought while scolding a newbie like you about getting your act together and finishing your book. Where a Sherry Thomas will read through hundreds of queries for free so you can write your best query and share shelf space with her. Where there is always, always a hand to help you up when you fall and it does not matter if that hand has penned bestsellers upon bestsellers or if it still struggles with the first chapter of that first manuscript.

Sonali with the Aphrodites

Sonali with the Aphrodites

I joined the Windy City chapter of the RWA the day I finished my first manuscript. It took the group precisely one meeting to embrace me into its fold. This was a room full of women who wanted nothing more than to sell books and to get published, and yet all they had learnt, their spreadsheets, their charts, their very hearts were thrown at me so fast and furious I could barely get my thank yous out. I went on to join other chapters and groups and found the exact same eagerness to share of their spreadsheets and of their love of writing. The wonderful Aphrodites, who are my day-to-day writing support group, share goals every week; we brainstorm, critique, inspire and goad. Along the way we root for more than just our writing, we root for lives fully lived.

Many wonderful things have happened for me in the wake of finaling in the Golden Heart, but the most precious gift of all is the sisterhood of this year’s finalists, my Lucky 13s, who once again have shown me that this bond between women who write stories for women is not a fluke. It is either a conscious choice to bring the best part of being a woman to a business, or it is just what you get when you throw a bunch of talented ambitious women together. No, not catfights, but cohesion into a pack, into a living quilt that drapes a business and transforms it into life itself.

Whether or not I get a chance to say my thank yous at the awards ceremony in Atlanta this year, this is what I am thankful for. To every one of the sisters who has enriched my life, Thank You! Without you I could not write. Without you life would be lonely and pointless, much like a visit to the ladies room all by yourself.

***************************

You can find Sonali Dev online at:

www.sonalidev.com

Facebook.com/SonaliDev.author

Twitter@Sonali_Dev

45 responses to “Meet Lucky 13 Golden Heart Finalist Sonali Dev”

  1. Elisa Beatty says:

    Welcome, Sonali!!

    Both your books sound incredibly fun and fabulous!! (I don’t think I mentioned in my intro that you have ANOTHER book coming out even before THE BOLLYWOOD BAD BOY. BOLLYWOOD BRIDE will be out this fall!! Everyone should check your website to read the blurb.)

    Have fun today!

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    • Sonali Dev says:

      Thanks so much for having me, Elisa, and for the shout out about the books!

      I still can’t believe I’m here blogging with you Rubies!!

      Yay!

      Sonali

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  2. Hope Ramsay says:

    Of all the things that being a romance author has brought to me, the most precious are the friends I’ve made. I have no sisters, except those I’ve found among other authors. And I’m with Elisa. I still have to pinch myself to realize that the Rubies have been together since 2009 and I don’t think we’re ever going to stop being sisters.

    Thank you for a wonderful post. It really got my day started on the right foot. And I’ll see you in Atlanta — maybe VERY up close and personal, because I will be presenting the Golden Heart award for single title contemporary manuscript this year.

    Good luck and save travels.

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    • Sonali Dev says:

      Wow, Hope, that is so amazing that you will be presenting the award!

      Speaking of pinching myself, gosh, I have some permanent bruising going on this year.

      So wonderful of you to stop by. See you soon!

      Sonali

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  3. Sonali, how beautiful! No one could have said it better. I so look forward to meeting you in Atlanta next week and greeting each of my Lucky 13 sisters in person!

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  4. Gail Hart says:

    Well said, Sonali! Publishing is not a zero sum game; nothings has been stolen from me if someone reads your book, because they can still read my book. And it’s so much more fun being sisters rather than cutthroat competitors. What would the Lucky 13s have done without Nan’s spreadsheets and Bonnie’s cabana boys and chocolate fountains? See you in Atlanta… soon!

    Gail

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    • Sonali Dev says:

      Gail, I think you hit the nail squarely on the head. Readers are such voracious beasts, the more we feed them, the more they want. So really, supporting each other serves us all.

      I swear if there isn’t a chocolate fountain in Bonnie’s hands when we meet her, I might not recognize her!

      Hugs,
      Sonali

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  5. What an awesome and awe-inspiring post. Like Hope, I don’t have any sisters by blood, but I’ve found so many new sisters throughout my writing journey. The Aphrodites are a wonderful group of ladies and I’ll be rooting hard for you online from afar at the Golden Hearts.

    Good luck!

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    • Sonali Dev says:

      Hi Pamela!
      Yes, the Aphrodites are pretty awesome! I don’t have sisters either, but I can honestly say, I’ve never missed them, thanks to the insanely wonderful women I’ve always been surrounded by.
      Thanks SO much for your suport!
      -Sonali

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  6. Sandra Owens says:

    Sonali,

    Isn’t it amazing? On the day I got my call, I had no clue that I would soon be bonding with a group of awesome women like you and all the other Lucky 13s. How was I to know it would be different from other contest finals…you know, a phone call or an email, you share the news with your family and then wait a few months to hear the winner announcements. No where in between have you found yourself laughing with, cheering on and sharing good news with all the other finalist.

    That the Golden Heart was different was a surprise…a damn good one. So excited to meet you and the others next week, Sonali.

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    • Sonali Dev says:

      Hi Sandra,
      It has been quite a ride, hasn’t it, and sharing in everyone’s hurrahs has just multiplied the excitement ten fold.
      Can’t wait to finally meet!
      Sonali

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  7. Terri Osburn says:

    This blog brought me to tears. So well said. My closest friends are my writing pals. They keep me going every day without fail. I cannot wait to meet you next week. You’re a special writer and I am so looking forward to reading your books!

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  8. AE Jones says:

    Sonali –

    I’m with Terri on this, I have tears in my eyes typing this. You finished off the Lucky 13’s Ruby blogs with a bang! You are so right. Ever since I started writing and formed relationships with my writing sisters I have felt more empowered that ever in my life. Thanks for so eloquently putting into words what we all think about daily!

    Can’t wait to meet you in Atlanta.

    AE

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    • Sonali Dev says:

      AE, you girls are so kind, seriously, I cannot thank you enough. Of course you know what it means when another writer tells you you moved them to tears.

      I’m giving you a huge big hug here,

      Sonali

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  9. Amy DeLuca says:

    Beautiful! Like you, I was amazed and thrilled to find help and advice and support at every turn when I joined RWA and started attending chapter conferences last year. We have stumbled onto the kindest group of women on the planet– what a treasure! And this experience as on of the Lucky 13’s surpasses them all. I’m sure our readers are like ourselves– reading a great book only makes me want to read MORE great books and search out new authors to love. As Julia Quinn said in her keynote at GRW Moonlight and Magnolias last year, “You can never hurt yourself by helping another author”. See you next week, Sister!

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    • Sonali Dev says:

      Amy, you are so right, undoubtedly the kindest women on earth. And that Julia Quinn is one wise lady!

      Thanks so much for stopping by and see you soon.

      Sonali

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  10. Sonali Dev says:

    AE, you girls are so kind, seriously, I cannot thank you enough. Of course you know what it means when another writer tells you you moved them to tears.

    I’m giving you a huge big hug here,

    Sonali

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  11. Savannah says:

    Sonali,

    Absolutely loved your post! Beautiful. Inspiring. True. I feel the warmth of the same sisterhood and I simply could not be a writer without it. Thank you for sharing this so eloquently.

    Love and hugs to you,
    Sav

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    • Sonali Dev says:

      Savannah!

      It’s awful that you are not in the Aphrodite picture, but someone had to take the picture 🙁

      Thanks so much for stopping by, here’s to celebrating the warmth for ever and ever!

      Sonali

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  12. Lovely post, Sonali! I say this while wiping a tear from my cheek. The friends I’ve met since starting my writing journey are priceless. Thank you for reminding me to be thankful. I can’t wait to meet you in Atlanta! Only a few days left. 🙂

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    • Sonali Dev says:

      yay!! Only a few days left. Good thing I’m trying to finish up my WIP. I would have gone insane if I had the time to think about it!

      Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for crying with me 🙂

      Hugs,
      Sonali

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  13. Piper says:

    Awesome post Sonali!

    As Sandra said, it has been a treat to discover that the Golden Heart is a different kind of contest final. It’s a fun ride, and I look forward to meeting you in Atlanta!

    Piper

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    • Sonali Dev says:

      Seriously, who would have thought it was going to be this much fun even before the conference!!

      I can’t wait to meet you either!

      Hugs,
      Sonali

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  14. Nan Dixon says:

    Oh Lord, Sonali,
    I have tears running down my cheeks. You have captured this magic that is the romance writing community.
    I had expected that the business of writing would be like the cut throat business world I knew.
    Boy was I wrong. Supportive isn’t a strong enough word for what happens in this community.
    From the critique to the workshops to rejections — the sisterhood is there for us–if we reach out and embrace them. And we have to take that risk. To tell people – I was rejected again. Because then we’ve earned the right to share those joys that come along.
    It is an honor to be a Lucky 13 with you.
    See you Atlanta — but don’t make me cry again!

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    • Sonali Dev says:

      It’s an honor to be a Lucky 13 with you too, Nan! You’re right, sharing rejection is a risk, but the way of the sisterhood is such that it always always feels better after you get it out.

      Hugs and see you soon,
      Sonali

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  15. Darcy Woods says:

    Sonali! Now I’M all blubbery over here!!! *dabs eyes w/tissue* It’s true. Every beautifully written word–the sisterhood is a force like none other.

    There is seriously no end to the generosity, the wisdom, the kindness, the fierceness and the effing fabulousness of these women! Maybe it’s something to do with fixating on stories steeped in love that makes our hearts that much bigger 🙂

    I am humbled by the greatness that surrounds me, and feel every bit the “Lucky” that I am.

    Hugs & wadded up tissues,
    Darcy

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  16. Sonali Dev says:

    Darcy, I thought you said “I’m all blueberry” here and thought you were still in dessert mode! 🙂

    Yes, absolutely, it’s because we spend so much time thinking about what it takes to have a happily ever after, we learn somewhere along the way that generosity and large hearts are totally essential to get there.

    I’m dabbing your eyes for you. There there 🙂

    See you soon,

    Sonali

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  17. Fabulous post, Sonali! Like AE said, you did indeed finish off the Lucky 13′s Ruby blogs with a bang! Based on my 2010 Unsinkable GH final I knew in advance what a special ride I’d be in for with finalist bonding. But it’s still an amazing thing to experience and can often leave a writer speechless. So I’ll just say — I’m so looking forward to seeing you and all my fellow Lucky 13s in just a few days!

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    • Sonali Dev says:

      Thanks, Jacqui, Seriously, and leaving us writers speechless is quite a task, isn’t it?

      See you soon, and thanks SO much for stopping by.

      Hugs,

      Sonali

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  18. Joanna Shupe says:

    Great post, Sonali! I’m tearing up over here. Way to finish up the Lucky 13 guest spots with class and feeling. You said it all, sister.

    I agree with everything you said. NJRW welcomed me with open arms three years ago and I met my own wonderful Aphrodites, The Violet Femmes. (We’re not as classy over here in Jersey.)

    You know how much I love your writing and I wish you every success, my fellow Kensington author! Really looking forward to meeting you in person next week. Gah!!

    Best,
    Joanna

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    • Sonali Dev says:

      Thanks, Joanna!

      You’re a Violet Femme, how cool is that?! Sounds classy enough to me 🙂 Cannot wait to see you and cannot wait to share in the Kensington debut journey with you!

      Hugs,
      Sonali

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  19. Elise Hayes says:

    Beautiful post, Sonali. The sisterhood found among RWA members of various chapters, GH tribes, and other groupings is simply breathtaking…and an incredible gift that both helps sustain and grow us. Thank you for your post–and best of luck in Atlanta!

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  20. Lovely post, Sonali. I haven’t had as many close-knit sisterhoods in my life as you have (though yes, some), but the Firebirds are unutterably special to me. I would quite literally not have made it all the way through the conference last year without that sisterhood. And now the Lucky 13s are coalescing as a new, richly warm group, and it too will become equally precious, especially after we all meet up in person.

    I think there’s something particularly special about writer sisters, that intense commonality, the shared experience of being in our heads all the time, dreaming up worlds. Nobody else quite gets that. We need that bond.

    I have to check out my local chapters. HAVE TO. September, yes.

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    • Sonali Dev says:

      Talia, I don’t know what I would do without all my girls! Don’t even know how men get by without this. Seriously, given how lonely and internal writing is, without other writers support, who knows what we’d become.

      See you soon,

      Sonali

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  21. India Powers says:

    Lovely post, Sonali! The warmth and support of the sisterhood is a treasure I give thanks for every day. Can’t wait to hang out with you all at Nationals next week!

    Love,
    India, your Aphrodite sister 🙂

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  22. Elisa Beatty says:

    Thanks for being with us today, Sonali!

    Best of luck in Atlanta…and I’ll be eagerly looking for your books once they hit the shelves!

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    • Sonali Dev says:

      Thanks Elisa! (don’t you ever sleep?)

      This was a lot of fun. Thanks to the Rubies for giving us Lucky 13s such a warm welcome!

      Many Hugs,
      Sonali

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