Friday, November 29, 2013

My Sweet Blog Buddies

To be honest, I started blogging because I was told that authors had to build an online platform. So on March 22nd 2010, I started my humble blog. The first few days saw just a couple of followers with a few comments. Those days I use to blog twice a week.

Slowly as my followers (I have always hated that term, I prefer to call them blog buddies increased) I made a good connection with all of them. Though I have only met a few of them, I think of all of you as great writing friends who are now a part of my writing life.

When my blog buddies sign up with an agent, or a publishing house  I rejoice as much as them. When their books are launched, I celebrate. When they face rejection, I suffer silently with them.

I have completely forgotten the building platform part of blogging. It’s the connection I have made with each one of you that is dear to me. Blogging has given me much more than I asked for: great writing friends and critique partners who worry about my writing as much as I do, who go out of the way to help me with my writing.

What has blogging given you? What was the reason you all started blogging? Please share your views.

P.S.  The picture is of the sweet Kheer Kadam which is my favourite sweet. My dearest blog buddy Alex Cavanaugh had asked me for the picture when I had answered the question in the Super Sweet Blog Award Post. Please don’t blame if you all start drooling. It’s one of the most delicious Indian sweets. I wish I could send you all a plate full of this fabulous sweet.
Pic courtesy: A cookery blog TasteSpotting.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Is it necessary to read in one’s age group and genre?

I have always been bit of an oddball. Honestly, for someone like me, who writes Middle Grade Fiction (ages 9 to 14) and in the Fantasy Genre, I tend to read more books for adults and that too across different genres. Sometimes I worry that If I don’t read books in the age group I write for it may cause problems where my writing is concerned.

Most of the books I read are adult fiction and that to literary fiction with few popular thrillers thrown in. I do try to read MG books, but they more often than not turn out to be bestsellers like the Potter series, Percy Jackson series, Princess Diaries, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and lots of Young Adult books. I have realized that I am enjoying the Young Adult books a lot.

I feel it’s important to know how writers who write in the age group we write tend to treat their characters, stories, plots, sub-plots, dialogues and how they introduce backstory. Reading in one’s own genre and age group is like doing homework. And reading in the age group we write for makes us aware of what is selling, how to treat characters,  how the plots move, so that our stories suit the age group.

I wouldnt want someone to say she has no idea how to write for children. Or her stories don’t interest children at all. That’s why I am trying my best to strike a balance with my reading. Trying to read a few MG books every now and then. So that I am aware of the current trends in the world.

Do all of you read in the age group and genre that you all write for? Does anyone have the same problem as me? What genres do you all read and write? Please share your thoughts.

Friday, November 15, 2013

What has my writing taught me?

My journey as a writer has been quite a long one. In the initial years I wrote short stories and features. Then many years later I dived into the world of  books. Over the years I have learnt several things in this journey.  I want to share these insights with my writing friends.  I am sure a few things will make you smile, and some things will make you nod your heads.

1.  Writing has taught me that writers seldom become overnight millionaires. Infact, fat paychecks and writers are like two railway tracks, running alongside and meeting in just a few cases.

2. Writing has taught me that I may be the boss where my stories are concerned but I am at the beck and call of my muse who decides that there is nothing wrong if he pops into the shower to greet me or that there is nothing wrong with a 3 a.m greeting.

3. Writing has taught me that however much I torture my characters they always have the last laugh by putting their foot down and taking the story in another direction from the one I had envisaged.

4. Writing has taught me the skills of a master juggler: trying to balance writing with life, work, friendship, blogging etc is not an easy task. This entire juggling business tires me big time.

5. Writing has taught me that I am the odd one among my friends. I go gushy mushy over books the way people fall over babies, hot guys, racing cars, bikes, diamonds and chocolates.

6. Writing has made me realize that I have more imaginary friends than a small child. My characters become my friends, sometimes reluctantly and sometimes willingly.

7. Writing has made me realize that I am a closet sadist. I enjoy torturing my characters.

8.Writing has taught me that patience, dedication and hard work will never go waste. Somewhere along the way the rewards are waiting.

9. Writing has taught me to develop a thick skin. Not everyone will like what I have written and not everyone will have favourable things to say about it.

10. Writing has also taught me to believe in my stories. There are people out there who will love my words, maybe they will get inspired by it. I owe it to them to keep writing.

What has your  writing journey taught you? Please share with us, we all would love to know.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Making sense of contrary feedback

A few months back I had submitted 3 chapters of a Middle Grade book I had written to an Indian Publisher. The editor (who I respect a lot) replied that she not just liked my writing, she enjoyed it so much that she read the 3 chapters fast. She had a few problems with certain aspects of the story (based on the outline/synopsis). She asked me if I was open to revising it with their suggestions. I replied yes. She wrote back saying she will be in touch.

I had also sent the same 3 chapters to another publishing house. The second publishing house’s reply left me shocked. That editor had problems with the writing style, she found the writing abrupt. Her feedback was completely the opposite of the first editor. For a moment I was rendered speechless. No one had called my writing abrupt.

My crit partner Mark Noce had loved my voice and the writing in this book. “ Wow! This is by far your best writing yet. I was able to fly through reading it. You have a great story that will really strike a chord with adults and kids alike.”

The writing style that appealed to one editor did not appeal to another. Funny isn't it?

There is no way I would doubt Mark, I trust his feedback completely. Now I am wondering which editor should I listen to? I have no idea who the second editor is, the email was forwarded by her colleague with the editor’s name deleted. Was the second editor being honest or plain stupid by trying to find fault with something that may not have suited her taste? Was the first editor being polite or honest? How have you all handled contrary advice? What do you all advice?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

IWSG Post – Book Envy

This year is hurtling superfast towards its end. I can’t believe that this is my eleventh IWSG post. IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) a writer’s group founded by Ninja Captain Alex Cavanaugh, is a support group for writers, where we talk of our writing insecurities, share ways we circumvent these insecurities and help and support each other. We post on the first Wednesday of every month. Check out the IWSG website. Click here to read the other IWSG posts.

This month I am sharing an insecurity which every writer secretly cradles in his/her heart. Book Envy. Sometimes when we read a few books, the green eyed monster called envy consumes us. Not in a jealous way, but in a way that makes us strive harder to write such books ourselves.

Some writers can leave us stunned, at the story they have created, the sheer magic their words weave leaves us asking for more. Their characters just worm their way into our affections and we start living their story wondering what will happen next.

This happened to me last week when I read John Greens ‘The fault in our stars’. To say that the book affected me in a big way would be an understatement. It left me with my mouth hanging open. I fervently hope that I write one such book in my life. A book that will touch readers across age groups the world over.

Have you ever felt such a strong case of book envy? I feel no jealousy for the author, infact I now consider myself a huge fan of his. Has any book left you envious? Do you hope to write a book that will touch readers’ hearts the world over? Do share your book envy story.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Super Sweet Blogging Award and Diwali Wishes

A few days back, Elizabeth Varadan passed the Super Sweet Blogging Award to me. This was a Godsend as I had not made a blog post for this week with mom’s surgery, physiotherapy and Diwali work.

The rules of the Super Sweet Blogging Award are:

1. Answer the following questions
     2. Nominate five sweet bloggers (I am nominating more)

The questions:

1. Cookies or cake? I wish I could say both. But cookies get a few points more than cake. Any type of cookies: chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal, honey, butterscotch, vanilla etc.
2. Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate any time.
3. Favourite sweet treat? Is a Bengali sweet called Kheer Kadam. It’s my all time favourite sweet.
4. When do you crave sweet things the most? Actually the whole day, but especially during lunch.
5. Sweet nick name? One of my close friend calls me Barbie Doll.

And now my Nominees:

1. Rahul Bhatia: Rahul's Blog and Collections. Rahul is one of my sweetest followers. I love his encouraging comments. He is always the first one to leave a comment on my blog. He has a great blog and his choice of topics never ceazes to amaze me. He is also a closet poet. He is also on top of my favourite list of Indian Bloggers.

2. Rajesh: Destination Infinity. Rajesh is another follower whose blog I really enjoy. He has his finger in many pies and chooses his topics well and writes equally well. He has also published several books.

3. Alka Gurha: Freebird. Alka has wormed her way to the top of my list of favourite Indian bloggers. Her writing almost always leaves my jaw hanging open. This lady has a style that can knock one sideways with her tongue in cheek humour. There is just one word to describe her. Awesome.

4. Alex Cavanaugh: Alex J Cavanaugh. Our Ninja Captain Alex swept me off my feet with his warmth, generosity, efficiency, hard working and sweet nature (relax Mrs Ninja Captain, your Alex is safe. He is my cyber sibling). Alex’s blog is all about his blog buddies. I always wonder how he gathers all the news he shares with us. He is also one of the shyest guys I have met.

5. Arlee Bird. Tossing it Out. Arlee was my Cyber Knight in Shining Armour. He came to my rescue (he was sent by Alex) when I had a truck full of doubts about how to navigate certain aspects of Blogger. And Arlee’s blog is like the man: simply amazing.

6. Al Diaz. Father Dragon Writes. Al is my hug buddy. Both of us have a mutual hugging online friendship going. Al is one of the few people who inspires me a lot. His ability to persevere inspite of everything that is happening, is just too good.

7. Micheal Di Gesu. In Time. Michael is one sweet guy. Helpful, charming and warm. If you read his blurbs ( he has an editing services company) you will want to hire his services ASAP. This guy can do wonders to a manuscript.

8. Mark Noce: Mark Noce Stories. My crit partner is one adorable guy. His critiquing abilities are legendary. His advice is spot on. He is always quick to help me whenever I seek his feedback. He has made me a better writer. He writes wonderful historical fiction. It’s a pleasure to read and critique his work.

Wishing all my friends a very Happy and Safe Diwali (November 3rd)