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Samreen Akhter

Samreen Akhter

Samreen Akhter is a finance graduate, an entrepreneur and now a first time author who decided to finally turn to her lifelong love of writing to narrate happy stories and making her readers believe in the power of believing and magic!

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Success! Cactus & Cupcakes sold 1 pre-order by Dec. 8, 2016, was pitched to 15 publishers, and is in discussions with publishers.

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https://vimeo.com/187665263

Cactus & Cupcakes

Life gives you both, but, with a little bit of hope, you get more of cupcakes!

A romantic comedy that narrates the lives of Zaara, Arjun and Saahil who struggle through their lives only to discover that while life can be complicated, it can be a colourful one too!

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Romance Romantic comedy
Kolkata, India
83,000 words
100% complete
4 publishers interested

Synopsis

The world already has a lot of problems to deal with - poverty, global warming and starvation, to name a few. This novel serves as a haven of peace, love and happiness to those who are looking for a break from all the depressing news and activities that are taking place around us everyday. The best thing about this novel is that it reminds its readers that faith and love still exists out there. We just have to keep an eye out for them and they will, eventually, come to us.

Being brought up in a strict household but also being highly educated, I was constantly at war with myself. At home I was around religious parents, and outside, I was surrounded by high intellectuals, making me yearn strongly for the freedom that has been a right denied to me to a great extent. After a traumatizing experience in my early twenties, being almost forced to marry a complete stranger and calling things off last minute, I quit my job to return to an old passion - writing that helped retain my sanity.

My book is meant for everyone out there who is going through a tough phase in life - be it love, parents and self-discovery. Like me, Zaara never gave up and so, the world, finally bowed down to her and slowly, but steadily, it all worked out and she got the happily ever after that every one of us deserves.

Outline

The book is about three friends and so, it is only justified that they each get a chance to explain their lives and points of view.

The story unravels from the perspective of these three characters and the narration switches continuously among the three of them.

There are 59 chapters along with an epilogue where the reader moves from one character's life to the other and then to the next one.

I chose this method of narrating the story as I feel that since the story is about the three of them, the characters should be given a chance to explain themselves to the readers - their interpretations, their excuses for their behaviour, their feelings and their reactions.

Audience

This novel is meant for girls of all ages, right from their early teens to their late sixties! It's a feel good novel, and in a world, where depression, sadness and anxiety are now becoming common, this book brings with it an old, but forgotten and much needed reminder - NEVER GIVE UP BELIEVING IN YOURSELF! That's because, miracles happen to those who believe in it.

It's a romantic comedy and according to the research conducted by me (the links are pasted below), romantic books sell like hot cakes in the market.
1. http://www.therichest.com/rich-list/which-5-book-genres-make-the-most-money/
2. http://writerswrite.co.za/the-17-most-popular-genres-in-fiction-and-why-they-matter
3. https://www.statista.com/statistics/322187/book-genres-revenue/

Author

Samreen has a background in finance but writing has always been her first love. Since her degree demanded it, she took up a job once she completed her education. However, she turned to writing whenever she got a chance. Eventually, after dabbling in the corporate world for a while she decided to pen down her first novel - Cactus & Cupcakes.

Promotion

Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter - posts shall be put up everyday to garner as much attention as possible and create a buzz around it. Personal emails shall be sent to everyone I know with a request to check out the novel and help in spreading the word, too!

An author website will soon be up. I am already in talks with a web developer to come up with a user-friendly and responsive website where I shall be interacting with perspective readers on a regular basis.

The bonuses that I'm offering are also attractive and will help sell my novel to a huge audience.

Competition

1. Alphabet Weekends - by Elizabeth Noble : A story of two friends, Natalie and Tom, who have been friends since childhood and how Tom is madly in love with her. After suffering a major heartbreak, Tom, helps Natalie recover, only for her to realize that true love has been staring her in the face this whole time.

2. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants - by Ann Brashares : Four friends navigate their difficult lives and the common thing that helps them make memories and never give up is an old pair of rugged jeans.

3. Montana Sky - by Nora Roberts - Three sisters who don't know each other, unite at their father's funeral only to fight one common enemy hell bent on ruining their lives.

4. Career Girls - by Louise Bagshawe : Two good friends, but now bitter enemies, compete with one another to be right on top in their respective careers and will stop at nothing to bring the other down.

5. Mixed Doubles - by Jill Mansell : Three friends, in their thirties, decide to sort themselves out now, be it finding that special someone, leaving that special someone or just maintaining him. However, the new year has new (and unexpected) plans for them....

My book is inspired by these novels and talks about a strong female lead who is fighting all by herself, but doesn't forget to be kind and loving to others, no matter what life may throw at her. For example, she knows who she likes and goes after it, irrespective of the consequences. She knows what she wants and isn't afraid to chase it down.

Samples

Arjun

‘There is someone waiting for you in your cabin, Sir.’ Ragini informed me at the reception when I reached office balancing my briefcase along with a grilled chicken sandwich and a shot of espresso that was suppose to be my breakfast that day.

‘And why did you let him enter?’ I asked, trying not to drop anything.

‘Well, Ganesh said that you would be upset if I didn’t let him in.’

Ganesh was the clerk and had been working with us for more than three decades now, unlike Ragini, who had just joined B.S. Jewelers and Sons last week. If Ganesh was going around trying to get new employees into trouble, he would most certainly be answering to me this morning, I thought as I walked toward my cabin.

‘There you are!’ Puneet boomed as he saw me step in. ‘Come in! Come in!’

‘Thank you for giving me the permission.’ I said sarcastically. ‘What brings you in here this morning?’

‘You remember we have a meeting with Marigold Investments right? This week? On Friday?’

His concerned look made me laugh. ‘Puneet,’ I said, ‘If I start forgetting my meetings, I don’t think I’d be running this business with my Dad.’

‘True, but I just thought I’d remind you - wait, are you wearing yellow socks?’

Oh man, Puneet had become very particular about clothes ever since he married Simran, a budding fashion designer. All of a sudden, the man who once went around wearing baggy jeans became a big fan of slim fit shirts and wrinkle-free trousers. It had become a bit difficult for me to hang around with him in my casuals since he now seemed to be a man who even went to bed in his formals.

It was true that I had pulled on yellow socks that morning as I couldn’t find any other clean pair in my wardrobe and it was also true that I wasn’t expecting the fashion police to greet me first thing in the office.

‘Well, yes.’ I answered as I lightly tugged at my trousers to let him have a good look. ‘Looks amazing, right?’

With a horrified look he scanned my socks. The gave up realising that he’d rather have me with yellow socks than not have me as a friend at all.

‘Just make sure Simran never sees them. She’ll ask me to disown you, and, seeing those socks, I will be tempted to obey.’ He warned. ‘Anyway, what was I talking about?’

‘The meeting…that you thought I’d forgotten about…’ I said.

‘Yes, and - ’

‘And, you’ll also be glad to know that I’ve booked our tickets, for the three of us. We’re leaving day after, on Thursday. By the way,’ I took my seat with a smug expression on my face, ‘you’re welcome.’

‘Who else is accompanying us?’ He gave me a blank look.

‘Simran. Your better half.’ I joked. ‘Also, I haven’t booked the return tickets for the two of you. I’ll fly back on Saturday morning.’

‘Why?’ Puneet’s clueless expression remained unchanged.

‘Well, you guys never really had a honeymoon and I thought that since our work was getting over by Friday, the two of you might just want to spend some time by yourselves. That’s why.’

Puneet had recently started working on his plan of starting the LunchBox ATM which worked just like an ATM, except that it disposed food to its customers, instead of the usual cash. I had warned him that my involvement would be very limited as I was taking care of the family business too and after taking a look at the cash flow projections, I had agreed to help him out with the funds as far as I could. However, since my funds weren’t sufficient for this plan, we had approached a few investment companies with our ideas and Marigold was one of the interested companies. We had been called by a few more investment firms but we wanted to give Marigold a shot first, since it was one of the best in the market.

It was while he was mulling over quitting his job at J.P. Morgan for this start-up that he met Simran, the love of his life. She was a budding fashion designer based out of Mumbai and had recently received a chance to intern with Ritu Beri, a world renowned fashion designer. I still never understood, why Simran gave up all of that to be with Puneet, who immediately quit his job to start working on the LunchBox ATM.

‘That’s actually not a bad idea.’ He smiled to himself.

‘What isn’t a bad idea?’ Dad asked as he suddenly decided to breeze through my cabin. ‘This old man wants to know what you both are discussing?’

‘The trip to Delhi, Uncle.’ Puneet answered.

‘What trip is this?’ Dad looked at me.

‘You remember I told you that Puneet and I are working on a new idea?’ I reminded him. ‘It’s for that.’

‘Aah, yes.’ Dad nodded. ‘Good, you’ve been working very hard, you need to take some time off.’

‘But Uncle,’ Puneet started, ‘Arjun will be back by Saturday morning.’ He said innocently.

I knew it was all planned. He wanted to try and set me up with someone out there. He had been jealous of my bachelorhood ever since he got hitched.

I glared at him.

‘Why Arjun?’ Dad asked.

‘Nothing Dad.’ I said.

Dad kept looking at me.

‘I mean, we have that new store launch happening at Salt Lake next week. I need to take care of that, too. That’s why I’m coming back early.’

‘You don’t have to.’ Dad stated. ‘Ashok and Varun are a part of this business too. They’ll handle it.’

‘But Dad, I - ’

‘Puneet.’ Dad said, ‘make sure my son has some fun out there. This man hasn’t taken a holiday for a over a year now.’

‘Gladly, Uncle.’ Puneet smiled slyly as Dad left the cabin. ‘Ready to have some fun, Arjun?’ He asked as he laughed and took a big bite of my now-cold-as-ice sandwich.

‘It’s cold.’ he complained.

‘Thanks to the two of you.’ I mumbled.

‘Relax bro! Just have some fun with us. It will be a good weekend, I promise!’

‘Get out, Puneet. I have a lot of work lined up for the day.’

‘Anything for you.’ He walked toward the door with my sandwich in his hand.

‘Wait,’ I said, ‘I thought you said the sandwich was cold.’

Puneet turned around and took another bite from the sandwich. ‘Indeed, it is. But it tastes too good.’ He opened the door and looked back at me again. ‘And please throw those yellow socks out the window once you get back home; they’re a disaster.’

He left me alone with just my cold espresso for breakfast.

Zaara

‘Where are we going?’ I asked Saahil as we drove off to an unknown destination.

We had decided to meet up that evening. Even though it was close to my deadline, I had stepped out of the house to meet him before Dad could get back home. Mom had been screaming at me as she saw me leave, but, instead of reacting, I just softly shut the door behind me as I walked out to get in to Saahil’s car.

‘Not telling you.’ He smiled trying to concentrate on the road.

‘Come on!’

‘You’ll see.’ He said. ‘Just get ready for some mouth watering pastries.’

‘Oh!’ Now I knew. ‘Then we’re going to meet Stuti!’

‘How did you know?’ He really seemed that surprised.

‘I’m not forgetful, you know?’ I told Saahil. ‘I know she’s a baker and that she has just opened Cottage No. 12. You mentioned pastries; there can be no other place where heading off to.’ I smirked at my own brilliance.

‘Well, then, I’m going to have to tell you that you’re right.’

‘What did you give her by the way?’ I asked.

‘A food processor.’

‘Really?!’ I was judging him already.

‘Hey!’ He said without looking at me. ‘No need to judge me. She had been complaining that she needed one. Being the caring brother that I am, I thought it would be good if I gave her something that she needed.’

By now we had reached the quaint little bakery and Saahil was looking for a parking spot.

Once that was done, we got out and headed for the bakery.

It was not as empty as I had expected it to be in the evening on a weekday. A pretty lady with shoulder length hair, smiled at us and waved us over to a table in the centre of the bakery.

‘You must be Zaara!’ She said in a chirpy voice as I shook hands with her.

‘And you must be Stuti.’ I smiled. ‘Congratulations for this place. The decor is too pretty and the pastries on the rack look delicious.’

‘I hope you find them as delicious as they look.’ She said as she took off her apron and joined us.

‘What would you guys like to have? Something sweet or savory?’

‘Whatever is edible right now.’ Saahil joked.

‘Not very funny.’ Stuti rolled her eyes at him. ‘Wait, let me get you guys some blueberry and orange muffins and red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese filling.’

‘Sounds wonderful!’ I exclaimed as she called over a guy to take down our orders.

‘Thank you for telling Saahil to get me something,’ She said once the guy had gone to get our muffins and cupcakes, ‘Otherwise, this idiot would have never thought if it.’

‘But I thought he had already placed an order by then.’ I said, feeling slightly confused.

‘Or maybe I did that just after I met you.’ Saahil laughed.

‘Well,’ I smiled, now that I understood that he had actually listened to me and ordered something for her after that date, ‘nice to know that I could be of some help, here.’

By now the muffins and cupcakes had arrived and I was just about to dig in to them when I heard an unfamiliar voice.

‘Saahil?’

I turned around to see a beautiful, waif-thin girl looking at Saahil. There was a guy standing behind her looking a bit uncomfortable.

Saahil got up to meet her. ‘Kiran!’ He said. ‘It’s been so long! How are you?’

‘You mean how I coped up with you dumping me unceremoniously?’ It was hard to miss the bitterness in her voice.

‘I didn’t dump you.’ Saahil said. ‘We were just two very different people and dating each other was not going well for either of us.’

Stuti and I were feeling extremely uncomfortable now. I looked at her because looking at the two of them would only make things more awkward.

‘Hi Karnesh.’ Saahil shook hands with the guy behind her. ‘How are you?’

‘Good, man. How have you been?’

‘Good, good.’

‘Nice to meet you Kiran,’ Stuti got up as neither Kiran nor Karnesh were acknowledging her presence at the table.

‘Nice to meet you too, Stuti.’ Kiran said, ‘Though I can’t say the same about your brother.’

There was now an awkward silence around us. I decided to focus on the muffin and hoped that she would leave us alone soon so that I could taste that sinful looking dish.

‘Who’s this girl?’ Kiran asked acidly. ‘The girl you dumped me for?’

I was surprised at her tone. My eyes moved from Saahil to Kiran and then back to Saahil.

‘What?!’ Saahil was as surprised as I was at this question of hers. ‘No. No! Not at all.’

‘I’m not an idiot.’ Kiran stated. ‘I can see why you left me. You found someone else.’

‘Kiran, I - ’

He didn’t get to complete his sentence as that is precisely when she punched him squarely in his stomach.

He groaned as he held his stomach and Stuti ran around to him thinking that he’d fall. I got up to help him, too.

Before we could do anything, Kiran, now looking satisfied, turned around with her head held high and walked out of the bakery, Karnesh following closely behind her.

‘Oh my god!’ Stuti was saying. ‘Saahil, are you okay?’

‘I got punched in my stomach by my crazy ex girlfriend.’ He moaned. ‘Of course I’m not okay, you idiot.’

‘Shit! Sheetal!’ Stuti screamed. ‘Get me a glass of water.’

‘How will water help?’ Saahil asked still holding his stomach.

‘I don’t know what else to get.’ She admitted.

‘Just let me sit in peace. The pain will go in a while.’ He said as he put his head down on the table embarrassed at the fact that everyone was looking at us now.

I was just sitting there, wondering what to do. I periodically rubbed my hand over Saahil’s back to see if he was okay.

Eating didn’t seem like the right thing to do.
After a few minutes, Saahil lifted his head. I’m sure he was feeling better now. He gulped down the glass of water that Stuti had called for.

‘My ex is still the psycho that she used to be.’ He gave me a weak smile. Must have been a strong punch.

‘I can’t believe you dumped such a beautiful girl!’ I exclaimed. ‘She is really pretty, and from what I saw, still hurt.’

‘She is crazy.’ He answered. ‘She is extremely possessive and controlling. I know she is beautiful, but her craziness comes with it too. And that is not something that normal guys like me can put up with.’ He finally let go of his stomach.

‘I can’t eat anything.’ He informed Stuti, ‘I think I’ll puke if I do.’

He turned to look at me, ‘She’s stronger than she looks.’

‘Plus she thinks you cheated on her, which is not even true!’ Stuti added.

‘Please!’ Saahil said, ‘Let her think what she wants. Once she makes up her mind, no matter how ridiculous, she won’t listen to anyone. There is no need to tell her that the break up was equally hard for me. She won’t believe it.’

‘Who was that guy behind her?’ I asked both of them.

‘Her brother cum bodyguard.’ Stuti answered and then laughed at her own joke.

Saahil and I, both looked at her. Me not sure if I was expected to laugh too and Saahil, pissed at her for laughing.

‘Well, it was funny!’ Stuti said, ‘You getting punched by your ex; very filmy I must add.’

Saahil just shook his head in frustration.

‘I think this date is over.’ He informed me, looking a tad bit disappointed.

‘Do you really think I haven't understood that yet?’ I said.

‘I should be dropping you off now.’ He tried to get up but sat down squirming in pain.

‘It’s fine!’ I said and placed my hand on his shoulder and looked at him. The guy was still in pain. ‘You need to take rest, I’ll reach home by myself.’ I got up to collect my bag.

‘Are you sure?’ He asked.

‘Really Saahil?’ I said. ‘Do you really think I won’t manage? You just take care of yourself.’

I looked at Stuti now, ‘It was very nice meeting you and even though, I couldn’t taste these,’ I looked at the untouched beautiful pieces on the table, ‘I’m sure they taste like heaven.’

Stuti got up to see me off. ‘I’m sorry it ended the way it did. But okay, it was wonderful having you over. See you soon!’

She tried to sound cheerful but it was evident she wasn’t happy about seeing her brother get punched in her own bakery.

‘You guys take care, okay?’ I said as I was just about to leave. ‘I’ll see you soon.’

I finally left the bakery, hoping to God that Saahil recovered soon and promising myself that I would stay as far away from that Kiran as was humanly possible.

4 publishers interested
Agora Publishing logo Agora Publishing

Agora publishing is a Canada based company, founded in 1997 with the aim of making book publishing accessible to all writers across Canada and internationally. Our main goal is to simplify the whole publishing process and help authors to avoid the so called 'publishing gatekeepers' out there so that they can easily publish their work worldwide. We bring the best ...

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Mascot Books logo Mascot Books

We are a full service book publishing company that works closely with independent authors in every phase of writing/editorial, book production, book marketing, and book distribution. Our roster includes bestselling authors who have previously traditionally published, first time authors, and authors at various levels in between. What separates Mascot is our hands-on approach to publishing. We work closely with each ...

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ShieldCrest Publishing logo ShieldCrest Publishing

ShieldCrest are book publishers based in the UK who fill that vital gap for talented authors where mainstream publishers are unwilling to give them that chance. We strive for excellence and invest in our authors and are listed in FreeIndex as the number one independent publisher in the UK for price quality and service rated author satisfaction. We publish books ...

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Virtualbookworm Publishing logo Virtualbookworm Publishing

Virtualbookworm (VBW) Publishing was founded by a writer frustrated by the long wait time and occasional heartbreak often associated with the publishing industry. After researching the various "alternatives," he discovered a number of subsidy publishers that would publish any author ... for a price. Unfortunately, many reviewers (and readers) thumb their noses at books from such houses, since all it ...

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The author hasn't added any updates, yet.

  • Ayesha Ahmedabadi on Nov. 14, 2016, 9:56 p.m.

    I can't wait to receive this book! I'm sure it will be a good read!

  • Brazier Gregory on Nov. 23, 2016, 11:35 a.m.

    Hello, I'm Gregory Brazier; Private investor. I opted for the financing of projects to financially support all serious people with projects. Contact me if you need. Here is my mail:[email protected]

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