Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Holidays and a Blog Break

This will be my last post of 2012. Writing wise I had a good year. I wrote a lot. The query process taught me several useful lessons which I hope to incorporate in my next lot of books. I took part in a few blogfests, made lots of blog buddies. I learnt a lot from the online writing community. And hopefully I was able to share something useful.

Forgot to tell you all that I won loads of books; the hard copies as well as the ecopies.  I even managed to read quite a few of them.

Next year I want to pursue my goal of publishing more seriously. I want to think of the other options available to writers. To be honest, I need to spend some time thinking of these options. I have decided to talk with other writers and find both the pros and cons of these options.

Can you believe it, I did not end up on Santa’s Elf Pete’s Nice person list. Not one of my dear writer friends nominated me. Sigh. I hoped atleast one person would put my name there. Well, I will try hard to be on that list next year.

I plan to catch up with my reading in the next few days. I will ofcourse be writing. What are your holiday plans? Reading? Writing? Travelling?

Wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

See you all in the first week of January 2013.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

HELP THE ELF: I Found Santa’s Missing Nice List!

When I read about this blogfest on my dear friend Angela and Becca's blog: The Bookshelf Muse, I knew that I just had to take part in this.

Hi everyone! As you may remember, a few weeks ago PETE the Elf had a touch too much Eggnog at the Holiday Christmas Party and as he stumbled home, he lost Santa's NICE LIST.

The North Wind scattered the papers to all four corners of the world, and The Bookshelf Muse put out a call to help find them in order to SAVE CHRISTMAS.

Ever since I read about it, I've been on the lookout. And then today, EUREKA!

Yes that's right...I found part of Santa's missing NICE LIST. There it was, fluttering in the wind, half caught under the corner of my welcome mat. And shock of all shocks, I recognized the names, and I bet you will too.

My heart swelled with happiness when I saw the name of my two awesome crit partners, it did not come as a surprise to me, as I always knew that these two are angels in disguise and there is no way they will not feature on Santa's nice list.

Here it is below:

NAME: Mark Noce

LOCATION: Mark Noce Stories

NICE LEVEL: 95.63%


OBSERVATIONS: Mark is a great critique partner, he is very generous with his time and he always catches any mistakes I make in my stories. He is critical without being harsh or rude. He is always eager to read any stuff that I write and rewrite. And he gives awesome and insightful feedback. He is a sweet and adorable guy and typical of a guy: he is a man of few words. But each word is worth its weight in gold.
 Psstt..let me tell you a secret. Mark and his wife are going to become parents around Christmas. I am super excited for them.

RECOMMENDATION:     a) Coal                   b) Gift

The second person is:

NAME: Kim Koning

LOCATION: Dragonfly Scrolls

NICE LEVEL: 95.63%


OBSERVATIONS: Kim is a wonderful critique partner, she is a very warm and affectionate person. She is eager to help people she considers her friends. Once you win her trust, she will be your friend for life. She is also very undemanding and selfless. She also has the patience of a saint as she has read my book three times and will not think twice before reading it again.
Pstt...let me tell you a secret. Most people mistake her for a model or an actress.

RECOMMENDATION:     a) Coal                   b) Gift

~ ~ * ~ ~

Because poor Pete is dashing all over the place trying to hunt down the rest of Santa's missing Nice List, I decided to take care of this one myself. Mark and Kim, I feel so blessed to know you! Enjoy the gift I sent to your inbox and have a wonderful Christmas! Hugs from me.

Photo credit:
assorted gold baubles ( / CC BY 3.0

How about you, Readers? Is there someone you'd like to say Happy Holidays to, or tell them how much they mean to you? JOIN US! There's plenty of days left until Christmas, and sometimes a kind word can lift people up in a way that they really need. It's as easy as sending a free ecard or email note, posting on a Facebook wall or sending out a tweet. So go ahead and spread some kindness and cheer!
Do take out time to check the other people on the nice list at The Bookshelf Muse.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Dishing out Delicious Dialogues

I just read a book three days back, it was a MG book about a small boy who finds a monster underneath his bed. The book was dialogue heavy. Infact, I could say that the entire book was like a conversation between the boy and his monster. Many people have told me that they prefer a book that has pages filled with dialogues.

I will share nuggets about dialogues which I have gathered from several sources, including my own insights from the books I have read  and liked and also from the assignments of my students: why I liked some dialogues more than the others.
1.  Dialogues should be as natural as possible. For this we have to be good listeners. We should listen to how people talk. Stilted and forced dialogues hampers a great scene.  

2.  Long Dialogues are boring. Just like long descriptions can put readers to sleep so can long dialogues.

3.  Dialogues with too much information can grate on the nerves. It becomes obvious that the author has made the dialogue a dumping ground for information overload. Add the information little by little.

4. Overdoing of dialogue tags detracts from the actual dialogues. Sometimes  “ she said,  he replied, ” are better than fancy dialogues tags which distracts the readers’ attention from the actual dialogues.

5.  Whenever there is a dialogue between two people, dialogue tags can be done away with. The reader is intelligent and is capable of understanding which character is saying what.

6.   Dialogues should always be authentic and real. We should do our research to check for the authenticity of dialogues: will a doctor talk like that, would a policeman say this, will a teacher speak in this way, will a teenager use that word?

7.   Dialogues should always be broken with action. This way our readers will remember that our characters are real people engaging in some action.

8.   Racial stereotypes and slang must be avoided, unless its the character's trait that he/she speaks slang.

9.   Dialogues should and must contribute to the plot.

10.  The purpose of the dialogue is to advance the story, flesh out the character and ofcourse provide the reader a welcome break from long descriptive paragraphs. And the dialogue should do all that.

11.  Dialogues should suit the occasion and the scene. You can’t have people cracking jokes with a dead body lying around, unless they are the murderers.

12.  Dialogues can identify characters. It would be fun to make certain characters speak in a certain way. I like the way Hagrid spoke in the Potter books.

 Dialogues are the fun part of my manuscripts. One of my dialogue sins is overdoing on dialogue tags (I hate to repeat a dialogue tag, I prefer to add variety). I also have a tendency to write long dialogues. What about you all?  How do you all tackle dialogues? Any dialogue guilts that you would like to admit?  

Friday, December 7, 2012

Make Believe Blog Tour

Today, I want to highlight one of my earliest writing friends online: Lynda R. Young, is a warm, approachable and a wonderful person, as well as a super blogger and writer.  Lynda and I met while blogging and she ended up becoming a great friend.

Let me share a secret with you all. I won a prize on Lynda’s blog. It was a 10 page critique of a manuscript. After several reminders by Lynda, I hesitantly sent her the 10 pages. It was the first time I was opening myself up for critique by another writer. Lynda was gracious and generous with her feedback. Infact she urged me to find critique partners who would help me with their feedback. She told me that geographical location would not be a problem, as I could find crit partners anywhere in the world. Thanks to her insistence I have two wonderful Crit Partners.

I am thrilled and excited for her. Lynda’s short story titled Birthright, published by J. Taylor Publishing in the Make Believe anthology, launched on Monday 3rd December! Make Believe is currently available in e-book format and includes Paranormal Romance and Fantasy stories inspired by the image on the cover. Congratulations, Lynda!  

Birthright by Lynda R. Young 
Christa can mask the pain and hide the scars, but running from a birthright is impossible. 
She’s tried to escape her grief by fleeing to a small town in Florida. Much to her frustration, the locals think they recognize her even though she's never been there before. To make things worse, a man named Jack spouts outrageous theories about her. 
Both spur Christa to bolt, to start fresh yet again, but there’s something about Jack that intrigues her enough to stay. The only problem? Someone else wants her to leave, and they won’t stop until she’s dead. 

About Lynda R. Young: 
Lynda R. Young lives in Sydney, Australia, with her sweetheart of a husband who is her rock, and a cat who believes world domination starts in the home. She writes speculative short stories and is currently writing novels for young adults. In her spare time she also dabbles in photography and all things creative. You can find her here: Blog, Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

Purchase Make Believe: J Taylor Publishing, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. 

Lynda, way to go! You are an amazing writer and a dear friend and I couldn’t be more excited for you. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Adding Humour in our Stories

Humour is one of my favourite elements of a story/book. If a book can make me laugh, then I tend to read the book again and again. I love books with lots of humour.

Humour is one of the most important elements in our stories and also the hardest to get it right. As writers we have only words at our disposal to depict humour and create humorous situations. I have discovered that there are several ways to add humour in our stories. Here are a few of them.

1.      The names of characters/places/people/objects can be funny. 

2.       Characters can be given some quirks: a twitch, a distinctive style of   
        talking or a weird way of dressing to evoke humour.

3.       One of the best ways of adding humour is through descriptions. Funny descriptions like “she had spread like melted butter.” “A bee could get lost in the hair on his body,” evoke humour.

4.      We can conjure up a Comedy of  Errors through our words.

5.       Dialogues are a perfect place to add humour.

6.      Another way to add humour is through internal conversation.

7.      We have to find new and funny way to say the same thing.

8.     A fantastic way to add humour is via Satire and Irony. Irony is the use of
       words to express the opposite of their literal meaning. Satire is the use of
       irony or wit to attack something. But its also extremely difficult because  
       if not handled well it can  leave the reader confused. I seldom use satire
       and irony as I am not very confident I can do them justice.

9.      Funny metaphors and similes that give a comical twist to a familiar image in a reader's mind are a perfect way to add humour. “ He was as thin as a breadstick.”
       “His chin wobbled like jelly.”

10. One of the best advice I have received for adding humour is to stir the senses. Sensory
      Humour is giving funny descriptions when describing something with  
      the five senses: especially while describing sounds, tastes and smells.
Do you like humour in the books you read? How do you all add humour in your stories? Is there any humour secret you would like to share? Please tell us, we all can learn from it.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Why writers should be members of libraries?

As a kid I would look forward to my Saturday morning visit to the library close to our house, accompanied by my elder sister. She would generously pay the weekly rental charges for all the books I would borrow for a week from her pocket money. When that library closed down, I was heart-broken. The library owners offered the members the books at one-tenth of its price. Needless to say I bought many books.

A few years later we became members of a club near our house. This club has an awesome collection of books: childrens' books, both the classics and the latest best-sellers, as well as adult fiction and non-fiction books.

For us writers reading books is like doing homework. We need to read both old and new books, get familiar with different plots and themes, learn new styles of writing. Nothing can teach us all this better than books.

As it’s not possible for us to buy every book that hits the shelves, borrowing it from a library is a great option. Not just due to financial constraints, it’s also because of lack of space (we would need a mansion to store all the books that we read) being a member of a library will serve us well. And in case we don’t like a book, we are not stuck with it, we have the option of returning it back and borrowing another book.

I love my weekly visits to the club library. I browse the shelves, flipping through the pages to see if the writing strikes a chord with me and then I borrow the book. I have noticed a strange thing; whenever I borrow a book, I tend to read it fast. But for books which I buy, they just raise the height of my TBR pile.

What do you all feel about libraries? Are you members of any library in your town? How often do you visit a library? Or do you prefer buying books from book shops instead of borrowing them from a library?

P.S. I finally started my Author Page after procrastinating for ages. Take a look and let me know what you all think.

As I will be travelling, my next post will be on 30th November. What will keep me occupied during the flight and airport stopovers are the books I have borrowed from the library. Till then keep writing.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Getting the readers emotionally involved

I have been reading many writing craft books where the writing instructors speak about getting the readers emotionally involved or invested in, both the main character and the story, right from the first page.

The theory is that the faster a reader’s emotions are invested in both the main character and the story, the more tuned in they will be, the more eager they will be to turn the pages and know what is happening to the main character and the story.

I have noticed that this theory has lots of truth in it. Every book that has the problem that the main character faces right in chapter one eg: Will Katniss be chosen for the Hunger Games, which faction will Beatrice choose in Divergent, will Sara and her mother be able to leave Sara’s brute of a father and start a new life, will Sadie and Carter be able to save the world from Apophis (snake) in The Serpent’s Shadow, ensures complete and undivided reader attention. Atleast these books made me read them from start to finish.

Most writing craft books I have read talk about grabbing the readers’ emotions as soon as possible, and one way of doing that is by ensuring that the main character has the readers’ sympathy. If that has been done then the readers will read on to know what will happen next in the story.

In a nutshell the advice we are getting is that we should push the problems our protagonists face in the story, right into the first chapter to snag reader interest. No hanging around till the middle of the book for it to happen, because by then the reader may have lost interest in the story.

What’s your take on this? Do you believe in this theory? Have you followed this in your own books? Do you agree with this logic? Please share your views?

Here is wishing all my blog buddies a very Happy Diwali (13th November).

Friday, November 2, 2012

My NaNo Woes

Every year I tell myself that this year I will do NaNo (National Novel Writing Month, writing 50,000 words in 30 days). By October, mysterious forces start working in my path to throw a multitude of obstacles in my way. This year too is no different. I was quite enthusiastic about NaNo. I had even decided on what project I would work on. I had even kind of worked out my daily writing schedule. I had also visualized myself completing the 50,000 words. Sigh. God had other plans for me.

I decided I would outline the NaNo book in October. But the moment October arrived, just like the past two years, life and writing waylaid me. This time it was revisions and edits. I ended up editing a collection of long short stories, a Picture Book, I even wrote two new Picture Books (I have never written a Picture Book before, so I really don’t know how it has turned out.) I also started revising a book I had written 4 years back. I don’t know why I did all that.

In November we in India also have our main festival Diwali. If I were to do NaNo, I would lose out on quite a few days as Diwali is my favourite festival. This year, I will be travelling in mid November for nearly 10 days. So, NaNo is really out of my reach. Maybe next time I will do NaNo and not let anything come in my way.

For all my blog buddies taking the NaNo bus, I wish you lots of good luck. I will be cheering you folks from the sidelines as usual. For those who have done NaNo earlier what was your experience like? Did you complete the 50,000 words it takes to win NaNo? What happened to your NaNo book? Is it out on submission? Is it published? What are your views on NaNo?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Tackling Writer Envy

After reading a few Young Adult books (Hunger Games, Divergent, and What She Left Behind) and few Middle grade books (Holes, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and 3 books of the Kane Chronicles) I have been afflicted with a strong bout of Writer Envy.

Everything in these books, from plots to characters, from writing styles to themes, had me gasping in awe. Even in my wildest dreams, I would never have been able to conceive of such plots. The ease with which some of these writers write is awe-inspiring. I am constantly amazed at the number of books/series some writers bring out, one after another. I wonder how do they do it?

Sometimes I struggle to work on the book I am writing and there are few writers who write two series, side by side. Whew! Just thinking of this gives my brain a strenous workout.

Instead of succumbing to jealousy, I strive to emulate these writers by writing more, getting more feedback from my Crit Partners and working harder at my craft. Everytime I read amazing books I go over my own books and search for ways to improve them.

Do you like me suffer from bouts of Writer Envy? Does your jaw drop at the themes few writers tackle? Do you feel a pang of envy when you see books after books written by these writers fill the shelves?

P.S. Lets all hope, that our books may give some budding writer in the very distant future a case of Writer Envy. That would really make it worthwhile.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Next Big Thing Bloghop

Hi, blog friends! I was tagged by my blog buddy Alexia Chamberlynn to participate in the 20th week of The Next Big Thing Bloghop. It's fun because you get to talk about one of your WIPs, and I've chosen one of the books I am currently revising.

What is the working title of your book?
The working title is Rahul and the Magic Spirit.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
The idea like most of my ideas just popped into my mind. I don’t really remember how exactly I stumbled upon this idea.

What genre does your book fall under?
I feel it falls under Juvenile Paranormal Fiction (if such a category exists) with lots of comedy elements in it.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
If Darsheel Safary (of the Taare Zameen Par fame) was a little younger I would have chosen him. Can’t think of anyone else now.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
I am still working on that. In a nutshell it would be something like this. Nine-year old Rahul Sharma, battling exam fears and a fear of bullies, finds it difficult to control his temper, especially after he is granted an ability to do magic by a Magic Spirit he frees from imprisonment; his magic becomes disastrous for his school teachers and classmates.
I know its not the best one sentence description of my book, but its all I could think of at this point.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Hopefully it will take the traditional publishing route. I will not be querying this book, but will approach Indian Publishers directly.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
First draft took me one month. After that there were a few more drafts. I am revising it now after more than 3 years. I wrote a few other books after this and literally moved on with my writing life. Then, for some strange reason I decided that in October, I will revise this book and another one which I had written alongside this.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Not sure which books I can compare it with. But I would like to say that if a child has enjoyed Roald Dahl’s books and the Wimpy Kid Diaries, they will like this book.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
This book was inspired by my nephew when he was in junior school. At that point he was prone to getting nervous before exams. He is past all that now, but the idea germinated in my mind at that time.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It will probably make them revisit their school days. I don’t want to say anything more as I am revising it now, so I really don’t know how it will all turn out.

I am tagging three blog buddies (they have all agreed to be tagged). They are Mark Noce, Ellie Garrat and Robyn Campbell. You can check Alexia’s post here.

I hope you all enjoyed this post and I also hope you all have a great weekend.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Do you pay attention to your sentences?

For the past few months, I have been studying the way other writers use sentences in their stories. Using sentences in a perfect way is an art form which some writers have mastered and others (like me) need to concentrate and work hard on.

Great sentences have a zing to them. I have noticed that long sentences tend to drag and the pace slackens. Long sentences are good for inner dialogues. Well, we need lots of words to describe our inner tension. So the opportunity to use long sentences is grabbed by writers at that point.

But for descriptions, short sentences can be more effective. They hurry the description along.

She sashayed into the room. Like a Diva. Tall. Slim. Fair. Beautiful. Hair that rippled like water. Skin like satin.  

Shorter sentences also add tension. The abruptness of single word sentences can be quite impactful. Shorter sentences give a feeling of pace. They literally speed the story to the finish line.

I ran. The men sprinted behind me. Gaining speed. Closing the distance between us. Their hot breath fanned my neck.

Even for dialogues short sentences are more effective. It’s crisp and crunchy, much like potato chips.

“Listen to me. Go away. I want to be alone,” she said. “With my thoughts…”

I have noticed that great writing has a generous mix of long sentences interspersed with shorter ones. This keeps the fluidity of the pace. Paragraphs of long sentences can turn off readers. But when short sentences are mixed in, the attention doesn’t waver.

I have a confession to make. I am the wrong person to give any advice on sentences. At one time I wrote sentences that were so long that you could wrap your index finger around it two times over. My editor’s suggestion was “ keep the sentences shorter, please.” I am still working on that aspect of my writing. Hopefully, I am getting better. I am sure my two crit partners will be able to make out the change.

Do you notice the sentence structures while you read books or do your eyes just soak in the story without paying attention to the way a writer has created her sentences? When it comes to writing your own stories, do you ponder over the sentences? Or are sentences just a way to get the words across?  What’s your sentence style? Please share. If any of you want to share examples, it will be a great way for us to learn.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Books are the best teachers

 I have got back both my writing and reading groove. Big time. This week I read two YA books: Divergent by Veronica Roth and What She Left Behind by Tracy Bilen. Both were wonderful, well written, with great characters and plots that kept me completely hooked to the pages of the books.

Both the books taught me several things:

     1.  Both start with the problem. There is no long-winded first chapter getting to know the MC. We are plunged into the conflict right in the beginning. In Divergent it’s the Choosing Ceremony for the MC Beatrice ( Tris). In What She Left Behind, Sara (the main character) and her mother, plan to leave their house due to Sara’s  abusive father.

         2. Both the books, especially What She Left Behind have small snippets of back story told in a unique way. Sara sees something, it triggers another memory and she is transported back to her childhood. There is just a paragraph or two. That’s all. The backstory is told in such a way that at no point did I feel that it was an info dump.

         3. Both the books have loads of surprises. It’s like the two authors decided the surprises and sprinkled them throughout the book. I took three days to finish the two books. You can just imagine how much writing I must have done in those three days.

         4. The supporting characters in both the books come across as warm and likeable people. Though there are a certain number of people in the two books who are detestable, it’s a deliberate effort on the part of the authors. I liked Christina and Uriah a lot other than Tris and Four (the two MC’s of Divergent). In What She Left Behind, I liked Alex and Matt, both support Sara like two loyal friends.

         5. Sara's voice grabbed me from the first page. I just fell in love with it. Even Tris was super, I  loved her voice too.

My personal take was that both these writers are effortless story tellers ( I am sure they must have struggled like the rest of us in the course of telling these stories) who know how to hook their readers. Have you read both or either of these books? If yes, what did you feel about them? Which book has made you drool over the writing, story, character and world building in the recent past? 



Friday, September 28, 2012

How Critiquing improves our Writing

One of the best ways to improve our writing is by critiquing other writer’s work. There are several benefits involved. One is that we get into an analytical mode. We analyze the cause and effect sequence when we read someone else’s story. If something jars (maybe it’s a description, a scene, a resolution, a character detail) we catch hold of it immediately. We also transfer this skill to our own stories. The more we critique, the better writers we become.
I find it easier to see the mistakes in someone’s elses work (my mom would remark that I have this genetic fault of being extra critical, we will discuss that in another post). With my own work I tend to be biased. I also end up overlooking my flaws and mistakes. It’s only when my crit partners point it out that I realize it, though that shortcoming in my writing would have been under my nose all the time.

Everytime I critique my CP’s work I end up getting more than I give. I think I benefit more from it than they do. For one, I become aware of the errors housed in my own writing. I also know what mistakes to avoid. I also know why certain scenes work and why others do not. When I critique I feel like I am looking into a writing mirror.

 My take is that critiquing is a simple and effective way of honing our skills. And another fact is that a new pair of eyes is beneficial. We get a fresh perspective on our writing. Someone unconnected with a story can bring fresh insight into it. As long as our comments are not harsh or unjustified, it’s a win-win situation.

Do I need to add the loads of good karma we accrue when we help out another writer/person?

Does doing a critique of someone else’s work  help you become a better writer? Does it make you aware of your own writing mistakes? What’s your take on critiquing? I would love to know if critiques are like staring in the mirror for you too?   

Friday, September 21, 2012

Few Changes in my Writing Life

From the past few months, I have seen several changes in my writing life. I was a big fan of writing long hand on sheets of paper. But, for this current WIP, I have forgotten how to write as I just open a word document and start typing. I am saving lots of time this way. And, its easier to go back and tweak something this way.

I had started my writing career by writing short stories. Its ages since I have written one now. I hope I have not forgotten how to write short stories.

I have also adopted the index card method. I am finding it a great tool to plot the book. I have just one regret. I wish I had discovered this method much earlier.

I am also adding lots of sensory details in my writing. Its something that my Crit Partner Mark Noce pointed out. Keeping Mark's feedback in mind, I am also writing shorter sentences and adding details which I have a tendency to overlook. Shorter sentences is making a huge difference to my writing.

I have also been reading a lot. I finished book 1 and 2 of the Millenium Trilogy by Steig Larsson. The books are simply awesome.

You all can see that there are several changes in my writing life. I hope they are all for the better. What are the changes in your writing life? Anything new and different you all are doing? We would love to hear all about it.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Dealing with the inner editor

My inner editor is an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent nuisance who makes my writing life hell. His sense of propriety is so high, that it takes tremendous effort from my side to scale the walls he builds around my first drafts.

He has started interfering with my plot, character motives, scenes and has thrown my writing rhythm off kilter. I was wondering why this time my first draft is taking so long. Usually my first drafts are quick. I can get them down either on paper or on the laptop in a jiffy.

It’s all because of my inner editor sitting on my shoulder, squinting at the screen, its eyes narrowed with disapproval, its face contorted with disgust, its shrill voice screaming a flurry of instructions. Practically every instruction starts with “ don’t write like this, this is not appropriate, why have you written this, mellow that down, how can a school girl think like this, how can you think that about a teacher, that’s not appropriate behaviour for a ten year old Indian school girl/boy, that boy is not a role model,  this is just not right.”

By the time I finish arguing with my inner editor, I have wasted precious writing time. The deadline for my first draft has come and long since gone. I have another deadline looming large. I still have to write the last few chapters. Make that the last one third of the book.

Many times I have shut down the laptop to silence my inner editor. This time I decided enough is enough. I can’t let my inner editor bully me. So I packed his bags and sent the bully on a long holiday, as I need to write the first draft my way.

The moment I kicked it out, I got several plot points in picture. I have gone over the earlier scenes and made the changes. This separation is doing me lots of good. It’s given me the much needed breathing space to write the first draft my way. When my inner editor returns, it will probably die of shock. It’s a risk I am willing to take. I also know that quite a lot of what I am writing now will get the axe when I visit the city of edits. I really don’t mind that as I am enjoying my writing after days.

I would like to know how do you all battle with your inner editors while working on your books? How do you deal with a moralistic inner editor who is driving you up the wall? How do you all silence your inner editors? Please tell us. We all can benefit from your experiences with your  inner editors. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Interview with Author Lydia Kang

Lydia is one of my earliest blog buddies. She has an amazing blog The Word is my Oyster. Though her Medical Mondays posts can sometimes make one nervous, they are absolutely informative and an eye opener. Lydia graciously agreed to this author interview and she sent the email back within half an hour. I am sure she has a time turner, that is the secret of all the things she can do in a day.

Q.  Tell us a little about your YA sci-fi novel Control?

A. It’s a near-future, soft sci-fi novel about a 17 y/o girl, Zelia, who loses her only family left—her sister—and needs the help of a foster home full of illegal, genetic freaks to help her. Oh, and she maybe falls in love too!

Q.  Where does inspiration for your characters come from?

A. Out of my head. Some classic romatic relationships (like in Austen, Bronte) often inspire me. Others, I just literally write down a list. This person is going to look like this, be humorous, look like a jock, but have a secret soft spot too. Stuff like that.

Q.  I read in your bio that you work part time as a primary care internal medicine physician. How do you balance your medical duties with your writing schedule?

A. I am lucky in that I work part time as a doctor. My writing takes over every other corner of my life outside of being a doctor and having a family.

Q.  Are you a plotter or a panster?  How long does it take you to write the first draft?

A. I plot my novels; I pants the scenes. As the years go by, I’m finding that my first drafts take longer and longer. My inner editor won’t shut up; but as a result, my revisions are not nearly as bad as they used to be. Right now, a first draft might take me 4 months. (Compared to the first novel I ever wrote—one month!)

Q. What is your writing schedule like? Do you have a word count you tackle everyday? Or do you go by the number of hours you clock in?

A. I try to write 10,000 words a week, in first draft mode. In truth, it may range from 4000 words to 12,000 words. (those 4000 word weeks usually have some writer’s block/plot issues going on)

Q. How was your journey to getting an agent? Any query tips for my readers?

A. For all the down and dirty details, I blogged about my querying journey here:
My tips would be to keep your query letter under 300 words, have a killer hook, and don’t tell your whole plot, just limit it to what happens in the first 50 pages and lay out the stakes of the novel. Oh, and grow a very, very thick skin.

Q.  Is there a writing craft book you cannot do without?

A. No, not one. I’ve taken a little bit from various books and blogs to help me write.

Q.  What are you working on now?

A. I’m tweaking a MG novel (a magic dystopian) and trying to finish the sequel to CONTROL.

Q. How do you balance everything: your medical profession, writing, blogging and looking after your family?
Any time management skills you would like to share with my readers?

A. Oh boy. Well, blogging was hard to do three times a week, so I cut down to twice a week. My readership fell a little with that, but I feel so much more free now, so that was worth it. Doctoring takes up very specific times in my life, so there’s no wiggle room there. On my writing days, I try very hard to actually write, and not waste my time. I also write late at night, and am sleep deprived M-F. I  make it up on weekend mornings when my kids wake up and get their own breakfast. Though I loved it when my kids were babies and little toddlers, my sleep deprivation is way more in control now that they have a little independence.

Thank you, Rachna, for having me over on your lovely blog! You’ve been a blogging friend almost since I started blogging, and I love your writing posts!

About Lydia: Lydia is a doctor, blogger, mom, and author. Her YA sci-fi book, CONTROL, will be out summer 2013 from Dial Books (Penguin). She is ravenously omnivorous and has a salt-tooth. She’s also strong for her size, kind of like an ant.

Thank you Lydia, for this amazing peek into your writing life.