I’m pleased Ritu Bhathal agreed to be my featured blogger for March.
Ritu: Thank you so much Rob for featuring me on your blog! I was humbled and thrilled to be asked, and I do hope you and your readers enjoy learning a little about me and my blogging career!
Tell us a little about your history, where you were born?
I guess I have quite a colourful background in that I was born here in the UK, in Birmingham, to Indian parents, who were themselves, both born in Kenya. As a result, I grew up learning a mish mash of Punjabi and Swahili alongside English! I lived in Birmingham until I was 18 when I went to University in Kingston-Upon-Thames in Surrey, and stayed there for around seven years, then when I married, I moved to Kent.
I have had many memorable trips back to Kenya as a child, to see where my parents grew up, and post marriage, trips to India to see more of my heritage, and the family and villages of my in-laws.
How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
It’s been nearly three and a half years since I started blogging, and I fell into it quite by accident, to be honest! A friend of mine wrote a very candid post about her mental health state, and posted it to her Facebook page. A brave thing to do. I read it and wanted to comment my support and had to register with WordPress in order to do so. As I did the site asked me if I wanted to start my very own blog, and after about thirty seconds of pondering, I decided to go for it! Honestly, I didn’t even know what a blog was to be honest! A little rambling from me, and a lot of advice from many other bloggers out there and this is what culminated! A place where I can be me, be creative, and lay my thoughts on the line. I also like to spread positivity around too via my posts.
3. About the Blogger’s Bash?
The Annual Blogger’s Bash is an event that has been set up by Sacha Black.
It is an event where bloggers are celebrated for their hard work and talent, and you can network with many other like-minded individuals. The last two years have also included inspirational talks by some of the bloggers, and special guests, which have been wonderful!
And there are awards which are voted for over the course of the run up to the event by thousands of people.
It started four years ago, with a simple get together and meal out, and I was unable to make the first one. I hadn’t been blogging that long, and I was a little scared to be honest, to go and meet these people, whose online presence I had come to enjoy. But the last two have just got bigger and better, with more international bloggers, flying in for the event, and I have felt like I am meeting family and friends and not relative strangers!
It must have felt good to win the Best Overall Blogger Award for 2017, were you surprised?
Surprised is not the word! I was up against some amazing bloggers, powerhouses, I would call them! People I had followed for a long time, those I admired, and aspired to have a blog and following like, so to hear that I had actually WON was just jaw-dropping wonderful!
How often do you post?
I don’t have a strict schedule as such. There is a regular slot on a Sunday, Spidey’s Serene Sunday, which started when I found my son’s Spiderman figure in a rather contemplative, meditating pose. ‘He’ finds a motivating or inspiring quote which I discuss, and try and leave my Peeps (readers) with something positive to ponder over. Other than that, I post whatever and whenever something pops into my head. As I like to write creatively too, I take part in several challenges over the week, so there is more often than not, a post a day at least with some form of prose or poetry. Last year I gave myself a silent challenge to post EVERY DAY! It was hard work, but I did it!
You published your first book in 2016. How does it feel?
I feel so proud to see my name on the cover of a book, to be honest! Poetry was an easy start for me, but the ultimate is to see my fiction book finally completed, and out there on people’s bookshelves and e-readers!
How did Poetic RITUals evolve?
I have always enjoyed writing poems and little rhyming ditties. Over the course of life I have penned many verses, and I had kept quite a few in a little book. When I started blogging, I got to know many published poets, and thought, “Why not? I could do this too!” The poems I had posted on my blog always tended to get a good response, so I compiled all my work, sorted the poems into sections, and went about editing the book, via Amazon Create Space and KDP Direct. I had always wanted a book to be out there, and my novel was taking so long, that this was a way for me to get my name on the spine of the cover of a real book!
What have you learned about blogging and marketing from the experience of publishing your first book.
If I am honest, I have not used my blog to its fullest potential for marketing my book. I have promoted it a bit, I have advertised offers on it, and written the odd guest post, mentioning my little book at the end, but that’s as far as I’ve gone. Looking back, I see that there was so much more I could have done, Blog tours, more guest posts, in your face posts ‘selling’ my book, but that isn’t me to be honest
What is your number 1 piece of advice for new bloggers?
My biggest advice is to not expect overnight fame and success. A blog is a very personal thing and can take a long while to establish. To have a good blog, you need the right community behind you, and by building that, you will automatically find the support you need to make your blog feel like a real haven for you
Will you share one or two of your poem with our readers?
The first, a humorous take on the infamous Mummy Tummy!
“Mummy, thank you for that tum
You know, the one where we came from.
That wobbly, squidgy bit of jelly
A comfy pillow, when we watch telly.
We like to play, to squish, to knead
On this, us kiddies have agreed.
Your tummy really is tum-tastic
So don’t do anything too drastic!”
Thank you kids, I needed that
A reassurance, I’m not fat.
So when I go out, I’ll wear some Spanx
And silently, I’ll whisper “Thanks!”
The children love their cuddly mum!
Now…what do I do about my BUM?
And a more serious one, penned during the various terrorist attacks that have hit over the last few years
Brown Skinned and British
I’m brown skinned and British
That’s what I am
Don’t label me by colour
Just see me, if you can
Don’t question my religion
Beliefs don’t mean a thing
Cos in the grander scheme of life
I’m jus’ a human being
So I may pray quite differently
And eat other types of food
But to label me a terrorist
You know that’s kinda rude
Get to know me, talk to me
And then I guess you’ll see
That there ain’t no difference
Between you an’ me
We need to live in harmony
And celebrate our quirks
Jus’ please don’t judge me
By the deeds of other jerks
(C) 2015 RituBhathal
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And by clicking the following link, you get to Ritu’s author profile on Amazon, where you can find the link to her poetry book, Poetic RITUals.