Conversations With Colleen: Meet Author, Ritu Bhathal

Conversations with ColleenThe October Edition

Hello everyone! This week I’m thrilled to bring you one of my most favorite people in the blogging world, Ritu Bhathal. Not only is she a successful blogger, but she is also an author and a poet… and that doesn’t include all the other jobs she has. I asked her to pick three or four questions from my huge list HERE. We all aspire to be successful authors and the best way to learn some of the tricks of the trade is to ask questions.

I met Ritu shortly after I started blogging in 2014. I can’t tell you how many times our paths have crossed over the years as we participated in poetry and writing challenges. If I don’t know how to do something concerning social media, Ritu is there to show me how. And that illustrates the kind of person that Ritu is. She’s always there to lend a helping hand.

In fact, last year, Ritu didn’t miss a week in writing a poem for my weekly poetry challenge. That’s pretty impressive in my book. ❤

Please meet my dear friend, Ritu Bhathal:


Author & Poet, Ritu Bhathal

Ritu Bhathal was born in Birmingham in the mid-1970’s to migrant parents, hailing from Kenya but with Indian origin. This colourful background has been a constant source of inspiration to her.

From childhood, she always enjoyed reading. This love of books is mostly credited to her mother. The joy of reading spurred her on to become creative in her own writing, from fiction to poetry. Winning little writing competitions at school and locally gave her the encouragement to continue writing.

As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and teacher, she has drawn on inspiration from many avenues to create the poems that she writes. A qualified teacher, having studied at Kingston University, she now deals with classes of children as a sideline to her writing!

Ritu also writes a blog, a mixture of life and creativity, thoughts and opinions, which was awarded first place in the Best Overall Blog Category at the 2017 Annual Bloggers Bash Awards.

Ritu is happily married, and living in Kent, with her Hubby Dearest, and two children, not forgetting the furbaby Sonu Singh.

Having published an anthology of poetry, Poetic RITUals, she is currently working on some short stories, and a novel, to be published in the near future.

Hi, Colleen. Thanks so much for this interview. I’m happy to be here with you.

Tea time

I’m thrilled you’re here, Ritu. I even made P. G. Tips tea to celebrate your visit! Now, I’m going to ask you a question I hope you will answer. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Ideas are aplenty in my brain! But I have one fully written, unedited manuscript, which took me 17 years to write! There is one other series I wrote on my blog, which came to a natural end, that I think could be worked upon to create something too.

I also started another piece, which I think will be a good start for another contemporary fiction piece. Though I know many are aware of my love of poetry, and my anthology, I have also written children’s rhyming fiction. I have one versed story complete and two others that need finishing… oh, to have an illustrator!!!

Any unemployed illustrators out there? Ritu needs your skills! Sorry, I got carried away… Okay, I’m serious now. Ritu, what inspires you to write?

What inspires me to write, both blog posts and creatively is life. I always jokingly call life, and all experiences within it ‘Blogger Fodder’ but it’s not just a base for a post, but it’s also a great resource to pull from when writing fiction and poetry. Usually, the season we are in will inspire my verses, and the general mood around me will influence the direction of my fictional writing. I feel that we are so lucky to have this opportunity called life, that to use all the gifts it bestows upon us, to create engaging literature, is gratitude.

You have such a marvelous attitude and love for life. It shows in everything you do. So, do you have a day job other than being a writer? And do you like it?

I do indeed have a day job (besides writing, mothering, and wife-ing) and that is being a teacher. I wanted to teach from a very young age, seven to be precise, and it gave me great pleasure to finally get into a classroom I could call my own!

The life of a teacher is tough, with high expectations put upon us all, causing many to leave the profession. So far, I have taken the challenges on the head; teaching is all-consuming, and during the term, I often suffer from extreme tiredness, (mentally and physically) so this does impact my creativity.

But I love being a teacher. To be the one to influence all those young minds, and help to build a foundation for what I always hope will be a lifelong love for learning, that’s what it is all about. The day it becomes too much, I will step back, or if my second dream of writing was to flourish, then I would maybe stop, but right now, I couldn’t, financially, and to be honest, I don’t want to!

Thanks, Ritu for stopping by for a chat. I always enjoy spending time with you. P. S. I had to share my favorite of you and your husband on your wedding day. You look so beautiful! ❤


I’ve read and reviewed Ritu’s book, “Poetic Rituals,” whose name is a clever play on words with her first name. Read my review HERE.

Social media

How to contact Author, Ritu Bhathal



And by clicking the following link, you get to my author profile on Amazon, where you can find the link to my poetry book, Poetic RITUals.

k luv u bye Thanks for stopping by to meet Ritu Bhathal. Check out her book. I loved it. ❤

Special Guest Post: “Using Canva Like an Expert,” by Marsh Ingrao

Guest Post banner

In today’s busy writing, blogging, and marketing world there is one constant – We do our best when we learn and share with each other. I have been blessed to belong to one of the best author/blogging communities around the web. Today, I begged asked, Marsha Ingrao, to share with my readers her tutorial on how to use Canva. I can attest that it works because I created the graphic above from her instructions on ❤

fairy dust wand

What to Do When You Need an Expert Graphic Artist

Authors need to create or hire an expert graphic artist to create book covers, headers or illustrations for marketing on their blog and on social media. They may be asked to speak somewhere, and they have to create a flyer.

Their blog post may require an infographic like the one below. The problem is that many of us who write do not have an artistic bone in our bodies. Worse, we may be operating on a tight budget that doesn’t include hiring an artist.

The good news is that we don’t have to.


The Trade-off to Finding an Expert Graphic Artist

You could exchange work with an artist who can’t write, but that’s hard to find.

Others of us have sneaky ways of being an expert graphic artist. Mine is

You can use any photo editing program you wish. Some people swear by PicMonkey. Others put their nose in the air and tell you that only Photoshop or other Adobe products will work. I’ve tried both of those, but I choose Canva.

Reasons I Recommend Canva

  1. It’s free.
  2. The text comes out clean. When I use Photoshop, large text is pixelated.
  3. The templates are pre-sized.
  4. Photos and clip art are free or no more than $1.00. But there’s more.
  5. Canva has 30 hands-on tutorials to teach the art of being an expert graphic artist. You can learn the basics of illustrating in about an hour or two just by going through the step-by-step slides and making the changes they suggest right in the example. If you don’t get it, there’s a clue link that shows you how or why you do that task. Some of you are probably going to drop out right now and spend an hour studying.

But don’t go away, just yet. Bookmark the tutorials because you may go back time and time again. Here are a few quick tricks from the tutorials you can use as a writer.

Simple Steps to Start Using Canva.

  1. If you have pictures, upload them.
  2. Choose the type of media you are creating from the templates. If you don’t find what you want, you can create a custom size.
  3. If a preloaded template works for you, it takes about 5 minutes or less to change the text.
  4. Without a model, you will see a blank screen. On the left side of the screen is a menu. One of the choices is “Background.” You can choose a design background or stick with plain. Pick your background color. There should be a tiny box at the top with a color sample. Click on the box and

  5. change the color.
  6. Insert your uploaded picture by clicking on it or dragging it over to the screen. Tips for using pictures.
  7. Size the image until you are satisfied with the look. You can choose frames from the menu and picture snap into them. I wish physical frames worked as well as these virtual ones.Or you can click in a group of pictures using the menu called” Elements, then Grids”
  8. You can add elements, another menu. I like to add boxes of different colors. Lines draw the eyes to where you want them to go as well.
  9. Add text.
  10. Download your beautiful project. If you have the free version, I think you have limited choices of formats. I always used jpeg. For $10 a month upgrade, you get other choices like png.

Tip One KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid)

To a teacher “stupid” is the ultimate cuss word, but to myself, it’s a great reminder.

Before the Tutorials


This example is pretty simple. I used a template for the text, and I like the look. However, it does not have the importance that the title indicates. This is not a party library even though I might have a party personality and like the font.

This is an A+ library. The best books, the best authors reside here in my hand-picked collection for you.

The insinuation here is that if you are in this top-rated collection, then you must be a pretty good author.

After the Tutorials


After I worked through this lesson, I changed my Always Write photo above by taking out some of the stars. I also changed the font to make it more scholarly rather than partying at the library.

The tutorial suggests that using large and small fonts together is good. Combining bold or italics and normal fonts add interest.

Canva recommends changing the letter spacing so that the large and the small lettering covered about the same width. So I made that change after reading another tutorial. The spacing button is on the top bar to the right of where you find the color box. If you can’t find it, click “Need a Clue.”

Tutorial six teaches about aligning the words to make a point or fit the photo. You also learn to enlarge the font of the most important words. The main font should fill the space.

Which of the two do library illustrations do you think is more useful and why?


Tip Two: Use Grids

In the second lesson of the tutorials, you crop pictures and put them into virtual grids. I experimented with several grid templates as I wrote this post.

Grids are fun and easy. You drag your uploaded picture or a Canva picture to the canvas, and if you put it in just the right place, it pops right into the grid, like a cracker into someone’s mouth.

You don’t have to crop the picture. It will snap into place no matter what size it is, but unless the photo is the roughly the same shape as the grid, it distorts.


Therefore, if you want to crop it first to get the parts you like best to show, then drag it, to the canvas, but don’t move it until it clicks.

Sally Cronin asked me to do a guest post on her blog. I had never thought about advertising before the fact until just recently.

Why not, authors? Make announcements on your Facebook Page, Twitter, Linked In and other social media with a Canva collage of pictures you might use. In this case I used pictures that did not all get included. I liked the pictures, but couldn’t find a place for them in the post.

Here’s another tip. Sneak in a bit of your brand, even on a guest post. See the touch of turquoise? That’s me!


Tip Three: Color

This next slide was simply a fun creation to teach the use of analogous colors or three colors next to each other on the color wheel. The slide is a template, which makes it super simple to use.

Speaking of Color: KISS Again


You will recognize the next picture which illustrates a couple of elements.

By the way, when I use only one picture, I don’t go to the effort of using a grid. However, I notice that my top and bottom borders are different sizes. Don’t worry if you have an astigmatism. Grid lines come up to tell you when you’re in the zone.

The suggestion of keeping colors simple and choosing only three makes this picture striking.

To eliminate most of the colors, I experimented with Canva filters.

After I used the filter, I changed the background color to match the darkest blue in the picture. I had to do this by sight, but you can use hex codes if you already know the color you want. The hex code appears when you hover over the color button.

Next, I matched the text to the slightly yellow clouds. Compare this to the canva project above with the same picture. Which do you like better? It gives me two ads to use without spending very much time on the second one.

What to do When Something Is a Bit Off


This is a newsletter infographic. You can buy all sorts of pictures that contain computers. They are only a dollar from Canva but why not take several pictures of your own computer?

In this next example, I chose three colors from the photo, and the green just happened to match the wire basket on my table as well as the picture on the computer.

This photo had a problem. When I tried to insert my photo into the screen, it would not align with both the top and the sides.

So, I solved that problem by adding a black rectangle “element” to cover the screen, then inserting the photo on top of the “new” black screen. Unfortunately, I need to go back and resize my new screen.

In order to pick out details, you can enlarge your workspace on Canva, but sometimes I don’t think I need to do that for a quick fix. In this case, I should have.

Interestingly though, the alignment mistake turned out to the good. I can now change the picture to reflect the topic of what I’m writing. Maybe it’s my book cover or a picture from the book.


I hope you see how versatile this tool can be. You can upgrade to get a few other amenities like additional downloadable formats. Trust me, you don’t ever need to upgrade to do what I showed you today. It took about an hour to read through the first nine tutorials, upload a few photographs, and create these illustrations.

For questions, you can email me at

If you would like me to create Canva images for you, I can do that too, for a fee. However, why not do it yourself? You, too, can be an Expert Graphic Artist.


Thank you, Colleen, for inviting me to write a guest post for your blog. I hope your readers love it. 🙂

Marsha 🙂

Related Articles

How to Use Canva to Create Easy Social Media Posts in 2017

How Turned Me into a Graphic Artist

Marsha Ingrao


Marsha Ingrao researches tips for bloggers, writers, and photographers to keep them moving forward toward their goals. A former teacher and instructional consultant for 25 years, Ingrao experiments and gives readers the heads-up regarding best practices for their blogs. As a reader, she reviews books and provides additional exposure for indie and traditionally published authors. As a teacher, she trains virtual assistants to provide services, especially in social media. Ingrao has one book published by Arcadia Press, and one self-published by Lulu.


Special Delivery Thanks for stopping by to meet Marsha. Now get creating on

100 Best Writing Websites: 2017 Edition

Make 2017 your best writing year yet with our list of the best writing websites. Enjoy! ❤

Source: 100 Best Writing Websites: 2017 Edition

#Loveuary❤ – Rules And A Prompt List Of Sorts!

Ritu is sponsoring a “Loveuary” for February! She says: “As you know, I am embarking on a month of love related posts, be it creative or thoughts from the heart. I don’t know if anyone is interested in accompanying me on my journey of ‘love’ but if you are crazy enough to join me, here are the rules.” You will want to check out this post to see what you can come up with! ❤ Sounds fun!

But I Smile Anyway...

loveuaryAs you know, I am embarking on a month of love related posts, be it creative or thoughts from the heart. I don’t know if anyone is interested in accompanying me on my journey of ‘love’ but if you are crazy enough to join me, here are the rules.

  1. Below are a set of possible prompts, if you need them. They are a mixture covering many aspects of ‘love’.
  2. Please don’t feel tied to this list, you can post whatever you want, as long as it’s love related, be it poetry, prose, opinion, photos, or even songs!
  3. If it makes life easier, tie it in with other prompts or challenges you may already take part in. Just remember the #Loveuary tag and ping back to my daily post!
  4. I will aim to post daily at around 5am GMT, so if you are taking part, try and link back to my #Loveuary…

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Author Interview: Hugh W. Roberts

A great interview with Hugh Roberts about his new book. Check it out! ❤

Write Through the Night

Hugh W. Roberts is a new author, and has just recently published his first book, Glimpses, a collection of short stories.  Besides this, he is a blogger, and has a really inspirational story.  It was my pleasure to have the opportunity to ask Hugh a few questions and learn more about both his book and his life!

You have dyslexia, and make no secret of it. What was it like growing up with this, and do you think it caused people to see you differently?

While growing up, dyslexia was not an acknowledged condition. Teachers told my parents I was either slow and/or not very intelligent for my age. You can imagine how that made me feel, while sat alongside my parents, knowing that sometimes the words I wrote or read just seemed to get jumbled up. I was often taunted by other children about all the mistakes I’d make…

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Spotlight on #Blog Visions for 2017 ~ New Year’s Delight

Here is a great gathering of authors you’re going to love! Happy New Year! 🎉🥂


Flower Garden by Lucie Stastkova Image courtesy of Lucie Stastkova

I’ve thought for some time now that I’d like to have a theme for my blog. Many of the blogs I follow have themes I find most enjoyable. I’ve asked several of these folks to be my guest, tell us what they envision for their blog in 2017, and include their images and links.

I want to thank all of those who responded and wish them great success in the New Year. They are listed below in alphabetical order by first name. Please visit their sites, like and follow, and perhaps download a book or two. Enjoy! 


Allan HudsonAllan Hudson ~South Branch Scribbler

2017 will see the South Branch Scribbler hosting a variety of authors with some artists, photographers, and musicians. I have a lineup of terrific folks for the first three months of the New Year and am adding more weekly. I will be trying…

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» Writing Is My Job.

I like to think that I am a work in progress when it comes to my writing. I haven’t gotten paid for anything I’ve written (yet) but I am going to keep working on perfecting my craft. Don’t get downhearted… read this and keep writing and learning. ❤ Click the highlighted link at the bottom of the post to read more.

Every writer, at some point in their career, has heard the words, “Writing isn’t a real job.”  Only another writer can truly understand the frustration of hearing those words and being made to feel as if your dream is only a waste of time.  It can be even worse if someone suggests that it is time to stop playing around on the computer and find something meaningful to do.

Source: » Writing Is My Job.

#WQWWC – Writers Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge – “Unity”

It’s Ronovan again. Yep, my week to host the challenge. First of all make sure to visit last weeks comments for all those who participated in the Autumn theme.

This week I chose ‘UNITY’ as the theme.

Make sure to put a link to your entry this week in the comments section. You can also do a ping back in your post so people that read your blog can find us and join in the fun. Remember you can do Flash Fiction, Poetry, or pretty much anything as long as you include a relevant quote.

There’s a lot going on in ‘Merica that seems to be pulling us apart. Underneath it we know we’re together, we’re a nation. But we need it to be more than an underneath thing. It seems like big things to overcome: politics, race, gender, and so much more. But it all starts with each person. We each have to overcome how we were brought up and what we were taught to be norms of society. I grew up in a rural Mississippi area, but somehow I ended up one of the least racist people you’ll meet. We had a few African Americans in our school and I got along fine with them, just like I did with the ones I ended up in school with in a city school in Georgia for a while. Maybe I was intentionally going against some of what my family was saying, or maybe there was some underlying truth they were teaching that I picked up on in spite of there occasional verbalizations.
I’ve chosen a few quotes I thought appropriate for the theme. I hope you enjoy.
“Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” Mattie Stepanek
“Where there is unity there is always victory.” Publilius Syrus
“Even if a unity of faith is not possible, a unity of love is.” Hans Urs von Balthasar
“No doubt, unity is something to be desired, to be striven for, but it cannot be willed by mere declarations.” Theodore Bikel
“You don’t get unity by ignoring the questions that have to be faced.” Joe Weatherill
I think that last one is a huge one. So many of us through the years have ducked and covered in hopes the troubles will pass over. And yes, they do pass over, but they come back around and end up scarier the next time.
Much Respect and Love
Ronovan of RonovanWrites