Friday, December 16, 2016

The lazy December Mood has caught me

By the end of the year, I always run out of my writing, reading and reviewing steam. It’s like I’ve been running on the writing treadmill for 11 months, that come December, I need to ease down, not just to a slow walk, but I come to a complete standstill. My writing suffers, my reading pile starts escalating and my mood drifts away, to God knows where?

Though Christmas is something we Indians don’t celebrate, but as the schools close down for the winter and the new year holidays, by and large, the holiday mood catches up with me. I tend to take it easy on all fronts. My writing slows down (I stop thinking of my characters and start thinking about myself). I hardly read books at this time (I'm too distracted) and therefore am unable to do any reviews. I tend to shop a lot during this period (there are sales everywhere) and meet all my friends for lunches and coffees.

I justify this lazy phase with the thought that even the editors and agents will be on a holiday and no one will respond even if I query and submit at this time.

I hope it’s just not me, but that this happens to everyone (that way I’ll feel less guilty).

What does the month of December do to your productivity as a writer? Do you work hard during this month or do you take it easy?

P.S. I’ll be on a break till 4th January 2017 when I’ll return with my IWSG post. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and very Happy New Year in advance.

Picture Courtesy.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

IWSG Post – Where do we see ourselves 5 years from now

It’s the last IWSG post for 2016. IWSG aka Insecure Writers Support Group, an online group of writers, posts on the first Wednesday of every month. In our posts we usually discuss our writing related worries, anxieties, fears and insecurities. Other writers who have undergone similar situations help us out with their advice and suggestions. Check out the IWSG website for amazing writing tips. Read the other IWSG posts here.

We writers can never thank Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh (author of the Amazon Bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm, CassaFire and Dragon of the Stars) for starting this awesome group. Honestly, if not for Amazing Alex, we all would never have met.  

I love the December 7th question: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there? 

Five years from now I see myself having an agent and also a few books published. I also hope to win an Indian award for writing in these five years (yep, these are all big goals, but what’s life if we don’t dream big or aim for the skies).

To achieve these writing goals/aims/dreams I’m writing different books (as I never know which book will be successful). I’m also writing a wide range of genres as well as for different age groups. I hope to atleast have two adult novels published in these five years, as well as several middle grade books and a few picture books (I’ve already started submitting my earlier books to more publishers.)

I’m eager and excited to read where do all my writing friends hope to see themselves five years from now! 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Revising Old Manuscripts

Ever since I had a R and R (revise and resubmit) offer from an editor last month, I have been on cloud nine. With that editor’s insightful and helpful feedback, I have attacked my manuscript with gusto and am revising it with a whole lot of enthusiasm. When you know what exactly to fix in your story, revisions become a cakewalk.

Infact, after that particular editor’s comments on one manuscript, I’m rewriting all my stories from the past one month. You can even say that I’m on a revising old manuscripts road trip. I’ve literally pulled out all my earlier written work:  be it middle grade or picture books, and am tweaking them slowly, chapter by chapter. The result is pretty decent (atleast I think so).

I feel that it’s not just important for writers to write more and more, but also to go back, atleast once, and rework/rewrite previously written stories. As the more we write and read other people’s books, the more we can see the faults in our own work. With this new writing wisdom, it becomes easier to tackle and revamp older manuscripts which now occupy space inside our laptops.

I tweaked two picture books a couple of days back and sent it to an editor and hopefully the middle grade manuscript too will leave my computer by the end of the month.

Do you revisit your previously written stories? Or do you forget about them and move on to the newer ones?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

IWSG Post – My Favourite Aspect of Being a Writer

This will be the second last IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) post of 2016. Whoosh! The year has hurtled past, leaving barely two months in which I’ve scramble around finishing my writing and reading goals.

I sometimes wonder how did Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh (author of the Amazon Bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm, CassaFire and Dragon of the Stars), start this amazing online group for writers.

IWSG members post on the first Wednesday of every month. In our posts we discuss our writing insecurities, anxieties, worries and learn from other writers who are at different stages of their publishing journey. There is a wealth of information on the IWSG website.

I love the idea of IWSG members answering a question in their blog post. This has made it so easy for me (as well as many others) as I sometimes run out of topics to blog about. Now all that I’ve to do is to answer the question for the month and my post is ready.

November 2nd Question: What is your favourite aspect of being a writer?

My favourite aspect of being a writer is being able to live my fantasies through my stories. Many times my characters do the things that I’m unable to do, they visit the places I’ll never be able to visit. And I also like the idea that I’m entertaining readers through my words.

I’m eager to read what is your favourite aspect of being a writer?

Friday, October 28, 2016

Meet Lynda Young - Author of Cling to God

Lynda and I know each other from a long time, a few weeks after I started blogging in 2010, I met Lynda. I came to know of critique partners from Lynda’s blog: I won a 10 page critique on her blog, Lynda’s amazing feedback and suggestions set me on the road to finding a CP. And when I came to know that Lynda’s book Cling to God, A Daily Devotional was releasing on October 18, I wanted to be a part of her blog tour. Lynda was gracious enough to do a guest post telling us about her writing process.

The Writing Process for Cling to God
Lynda R Young

 A big thank you to Rachna for lending me her blog for today. She asked me to share a little about the writing process to get my debut devotional, Cling to God, to a ready state.

First up, it didn’t start with me saying, “I think I’ll write me a collection of devotionals with an inspirational thought for every day of the year.” If I’d done that, I doubt I would’ve finished. Even the sound of that makes the task seem far too daunting. No, it started as quick personal thoughts jotted down in a journal, triggered after reading the Bible.

I was a youth leader at the time, also the chairperson of Elders at my church. It was easy to share some of the thoughts during Bible study, or as a devotion before a meeting. It wasn’t until I’d filled my journal that an inkling of an idea blossomed: It might be possible to turn these into a book to share with even more people.

Once the book idea formed, the only changes I made to my writing process were that I became more diligent, writing more than one devotional thought when the occasion struck me, and perhaps more mindful of the audience I was writing toward. I also edited them multiple times and collated them into a meaningful sequence, some relating to specific days of the year. I even polished up my Excel skills and created a spreadsheet to keep track of the verses, themes and dates. I then sent the book off to my late aunt who was a professional editor, then addressed all those red marks the manuscript came back with. Then it was query time.

For a long time it sat in the proverbial drawer, collecting real dust. That “drawer” was a bookcase shelf next to my computer, and the manuscript with all the printed spreadsheets, along with all my scribbled notes, stared at me every day. And the stare got glarier the longer I let rejections conquer me.

Years later… (Yes, I let it sit there for years and watched it get buried by other notes for other projects) life changed. I was reminded about the shortness and preciousness of life. Rediscovering the manuscript, I dusted it off and read through it again. It was good. Good enough to share. It was wrong not to share it. Initially I thought self-publishing was the way to go, but quickly shied away from the steep learning curve. So after another update and edit (because I’d changed an awful lot as a writer) I sent it out again and to my shock it was accepted.

Did you ever start a project that changed over time? What’s your writing process like?

Cling to God: A Daily Devotional.

by Lynda R Young

Release date: October 18th, 2016
Published by Freedom Fox Press

Tagline: Cling to God in the chaos of life…

Blurb: Cling to God is a book of devotionals for every day of the year. The aim is to encourage Christians in their faith, to help them think about their beliefs and learn more about God. The devotions are short and inspirational so that people with busy lifestyles will still be able to spend time with the Lord each day. It will appeal to a wide Christian audience, to those new in their faith as well as those matured beyond milk and honey.

Author Bio: Lynda R Young writes devotionals, articles, and speculative short stories. In her spare time she is also an editor, game developer, artist, and dabbles in photography and all things creative. She lives in Australia with her sweetheart of a husband. You can find her here: Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Lynda's Blog 
Lynda on Twitter
Lynda's Author page on Face Book
Lynda on GoodReads

Buy Lynda's Book for Kindle 

Buy Lynda's Book on Amazon

Lynda's Book on Nook

Here is wishing Lynda loads of good luck from all of us.

Friday, October 14, 2016

How Do I Write My Story?

I always have the beginning and the ending in my mind whenever I start writing a short story/a novel/a picture book/a feature for the newspaper. It’s the middle part that I get stuck in. I’ve learnt to circumvent that by introducing new complications, new characters or twisting the plot in another direction to keep the wobbly middle from drooping.

I always work on a basic outline for my books.

Inciting Incident. I start with the Inciting Event/Incident that is responsible for throwing the protagonist headlong into the path of trouble/conflict or problem.

Plan. It’s what my Main Character decides to do to thwart the obstacle, to bypass the roadblocks and overcome the Antagonist.

Game. Here I work on the protagonist and the antagonist’s strengths and weaknesses. Who has the odds stacked against them? Who is the Dark Horse? 

Changing Obstacles. The obstacles in my story keep changing growing in size and changing their direction and shape. This change of direction can get the protagonist into more trouble and make the antagonist more powerful. I also introduce sub-plots here.

Plot Twist. I like to have a few plot twists in place where I bring in new characters or put the protagonist in unexpected situations.

Dark Moment. I don’t know why I’m a big fan of this plot point. I always have this dark moment where my main character is left completely alone. He or she has to now trek the route to victory only on the sheer strength of his or her own efforts. External help may or may not come. But the fight that was started has to be waged and the battle fought.

Epiphany. I love this particular plot point. It’s the moment of illumination when things fall in place and the path ahead is clear as though someone has shown the protagonist a roadmap complete with detailed directions.

New Plan. With the moment of Epiphany I make the protagonist charter a new course of action, make fresh plans. I charge the scenes with tension.

Cliffhanger. The Cliffhanger brings my protagonist and antagonist together, not exactly face to face but both of them have their own plans to tackle each other.

Climax. Where the final battle is fought. The protagonist is all set to do or die, while the antagonist is all ready to kill or be killed.

Ending. Where perfect resolutions find their true place and all the loose ends are tied together. 

My stories are based on this outline but I also tend to deviate between these plot points.

How do you all write your stories? I would love to know your plotting method!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

IWSG Post - When do you know your story is ready?

I can’t believe that we have reached the 10th month of 2016. This year has flown past at an amazing speedy that’s made me giddy. It’s time for our monthly IWSG post.  IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) is the place we writers hang around online, sharing our writing insecurities, anxieties, worries, clearing our doubts and learning from each other. As all the writers are at different stages of their publishing journey, there is a wealth of information on the IWSG website. We post on the first Wednesday of every month.

We all have to thank Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh (author of the Amazon Bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm, CassaFire and Dragon of the Stars) for starting this awesome group.

The October 5th Question: When do you know your story is ready?

When I feel I have done all that I can to get my story in the best shape possible, I know it’s ready for submission to editors and agents. When I feel I can’t change anything anymore I know that my story is ready to be sent out. And that is after several revisions with the help of my critique partners and my own frequent rereads.

Nowadays I trust my inner editor a lot. I know instinctively that I need to work some more on my story before pressing the send button. For my last manuscript which I will start querying from this week, I was reluctant to start querying for it as I felt that it wasn’t ready to be sent out yet.

I’m eager to read all your posts to know when you all know/feel that your story is ready.

Friday, September 23, 2016

I Wish……..

I wish I had Hermione’s Time-Turner wherein I could keep turning it to get extra hours in a day. Extra hours in which I could read both books and blogs. My To Be Read pile is so high with books: both old and new, that it may bury me one day soon. And how many ever blogs I visit in a day, I know I have missed many blogs.

I wish I could clone myself so that each Rachna could work on one book. At this point of time my mind is swamped with 3 stories : a MG Mythological Fantasy with Indian Gods: Ganesha and Kartikeya. I have written around 15 chapters. Have gathered a 100 page research for it and my brain is working out the plotline.

The characters of a dark fantasy which I had abandoned a few years back at 21,000 words are jumping around in my mind, screaming for attention.

And from Monday another storyline: a love story has settled in my mind. Sigh. I badly need clones. If anyone has any idea how to create clones please let me know (Alex, If you are reading this (I know you are), please tell me how you manage to write those bestsellers of yours, create music and visit a zillion blogs and still have time to watch movies and keep yourself fit. I’m sure all of us will be eternally indebted to you.)

I wish I could come up with low calorie versions of my favourite food. All the foods I love are so high in calories: Brownies, Ice-creams, Chaat, Pakoras, Halwas, Pizzas, Cakes and Cookies.

I wish I could invent a machine which burns my calories while I am sleeping. That way I can sleep for an extra hour everyday instead of wearing out the soles of my shoes while jogging and walking early morning and picking up all kinds of allergies.

What do you all wish for yourselves?

Friday, September 16, 2016

My Writing Happiness

I am happiest when I am writing (a lot) and reading (a lot) and sending out submissions (though I do suffer from anxiety then, I am also thrilled to be sharing my work with agents and editors and getting closer to a publishing contract) and ofcourse blogging (by this I mean visiting all my close blog buddies and seeing what they have been upto behind my back).

Even if one of these elements is missing, then my writing happiness goes for a toss. And the actual writing suffers. I end up writing crappy scenes, which I eventually discard.

From last two weeks I have neither written a lot, nor read a lot, nor visited any blogs. But I have sent a few queries out. And completed the research for my Ganesha and Kartikeya book and written just a few chapters.

I plan to change all this now. I’m planning get back into my rhythm of writing, reading and blogging. Starting from today I’ll visit all my regular blog buddies (feeling bad that I have not been able to visit your blogs from the past few weeks), work on the Ganesha book and read a book every week.

What gives you all writing happiness? What disrupts your writing happiness?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

IWSG Post - How do I Find the Time to Write?

It’s time for another IWSG post. IWSG aka Insecure Writers Support Group is a online group of writers, we post on the first Wednesday of every month. IWSG posts give us a chance to discuss all our writing related worries, anxieties, fears and insecurities. Other writers who share similar worries help us out with their advice and tips. Check out the IWSG website for amazing writing tips. To read the other IWSG posts, click here.

We must thank Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh (author of the Amazon Bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm, CassaFire and Dragon of the Stars) for starting this awesome group. With IWSG, Amazing and Adorable Alex has ensured that we writers have a buffer system to let off all our writing stress and worries. So, if you see writers trawling the cyberspace, with a spring in their steps, thank Alex for it.

The IWSG question of this month is ‘How do you find the time to write in your busy day?’

Frankly speaking there are days when I just don’t find the time to write, I need to pull that precious time out of my life. Till last year when I was teaching creative writing in college (though it was only part time), it would take me nearly one and a half hours to commute to and fro, add to that the teaching time, the time I would need to prepare for my classes and the time required to correct those assignments, more than half my day would slip away from me, leaving me no energy to do anything else. Added to this was all the free-lance feature writing and book reviews I did for the newspapers. To this I would also add my blogging. That left me with very little time to actually work on my books. I realized then that I was also compromising on my reading.

That’s when I realized I needed a break from college. And features writing (though I still do book reviews for the newspapers.) A separation from both these activities has freed up my time leaving me with more time to actually write my books. And read a few.

I have realized that we writers need to wage a war with so many activities to get a little time to write. I have also sacrificed TV for writing and reading. I just see half an hour of one show, Monday to Friday. That’s it. I have reduced many activities to find more time to write and research for my books.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Celebrating the release of Mark Noce’s Between Two Fires

Today I am super-duper excited. It is the release date of my wonderful Critique Partner Mark Noce’s historical fiction Between Two Fires. I have just a few words to say “Read The Novel.” Trust me when I say it, his story, characters and pacing will just not let you go until you reach the last page. Mark is a master of feverish pacing. There is intrigue in every chapter. And the character of Queen Branwen will keep you turning the pages. Mark has blended fantasy with a historical setting and woven a love-story inside it. The result is a breathtaking book.

Praise from Bestselling Authors for Between Two Fires
“A spirited ride through a turbulent slice of Welsh history!” – Paula Brackston, NYT Bestselling author of The Witch’s Daughter
“A fast-paced read that has a wonderfully visual style and some memorable characters. Mark Noce combines Welsh history with a touch of folkloric magic in this promising debut novel. Lady Branwen is a strong and engaging narrator and the turbulent setting of early medieval Wales makes a fine backdrop for an action-packed story.” – Juliet Marillier, Bestselling author of Daughter of the Forest and Wolfskin

Synopsis of Between Two Fires
Saxon barbarians threaten to destroy medieval Wales. Lady Branwen becomes Wales’ last hope to unite their divided kingdoms when her father betroths her to a powerful Welsh warlord, the Hammer King.
But this fledgling alliance is fraught with enemies from within and without as Branwen herself becomes the target of assassinations and courtly intrigue. A young woman in a world of fierce warriors, she seeks to assert her own authority and preserve Wales against the barbarians. But when she falls for a young hedge knight named Artagan her world threatens to tear itself apart. Caught between her duty to her people and her love of a man she cannot have, Branwen must choose whether to preserve her royal marriage or to follow her heart. Somehow she must save her people and remain true to herself, before Saxon invaders and a mysterious traitor try to destroy her.

Places to Buy Between Two Fires
Release Date: August 23, 2016

Mark Noce writes historical fiction with a passion, and eagerly reads everything from fantasy to literature. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, he’s an avid traveler and backpacker, particularly in Europe and North America. He earned his BA and MA from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where he also met his beautiful wife. By day, he works as a Technical Writer, having spent much of his career at places like Google and Facebook. In addition to writing novels, he also writes short fiction online. When not reading or writing, he’s probably listening to U2, sailing his dad’s boat, or gardening with his family.
His debut novel, Between Two Fires, is being published by Thomas Dunne Books (an imprint of St. Martin's Press and Macmillan). It is the first in a series of historical fiction novels set in medieval Wales.

Mark's Social Media Links 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Tackling Writer Envy

After reading a few books: adult fiction, young adult, middle grade as well as picture books, I have been afflicted with a strong bout of Writer Envy. Everything in these books, from plots to characters, from writing styles to themes, from settings to the various subplots, had me gasping in awe. 

Even in my wildest dreams, I would never have been able to conceive of such plots, create such complex worlds and plot twists. 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? Whew! Just thinking of this gives my brain a strenuous workout.

I am super envious of writers who write Sci-fi Space Opera (are you listening Alex Cavanaugh), of writers who write historical fiction (Mark Noce that would be you), writers who write murder mysteries (Patricia Stoltey, you are one of them) and writers who write amazing flash fiction (Patrick Stahl, take a bow) and when I read the introductions Michael Di Gesu writes, I am completely speechless.

I feel my stories are so simple when I compare them to the greats. Though I write the first drafts fast, it takes me a long time to revise and polish the manuscripts. Sometimes I struggle to work on the book I am writing.

Instead of succumbing to jealousy, I strive to emulate these writers by writing more, trying to add different elements into my stories, getting more feedback from my Crit Partners and working harder at my craft. Every time 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 occupying the shelves?

P.S. Let’s 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, August 12, 2016

My Multitasking Responsibilities

This month I’m going to be super busy. I have a whole lot of books to read and review, starting with my amazing Critique Partner Mark Noce’s Historical Fiction ‘Between Two Fires,’ which will be releasing on 23rd August. Two Indian newspapers have already commissioned the review from me. I am super excited about this. Infact, the editor of the paper and I had a long chat about Mark’s book. She told me that in my review I can mention the fact that Mark is my critique partner and that I had read the book in its manuscript stage.

I am also working on a Ganesha and Kartikeya story (I have already plotted it, writing on foolscaps sheets really unleashes my creativity, I plotted the book super fast.) I have written around 13,000 words. It’s a story that takes place in 521 A.D. I am quite excited about it.

I am also trying to write a query letter and synopsis of another Middle Grade manuscript Scavage. I am also trying to research agents.

After taking part in few Twitter Pitch parties I have started writing short pitches for all my stories. These pitches help me to see my manuscripts in another light, from another angle. Here are the pitches for Scavage.

MEOW. WOOF.A slip of the tongue can get pampered cat princess masquerading as a stray dog into trouble with a wild pack of dogs.

To survive on the streets, cat princess Brunella turned into a stray dog Bruno, must kill other dogs without using dark magic.

To survive on the streets, Brunella a cat cursed to be a dog Bruno, must either kill the tattooed Rover dogs or be killed by them.

I am also reading a lot of books, across genres. Can you believe it I not just read a non-fiction book but also reviewed it for two newspapers?

With so much happening I haven’t had the time to work on my love-story (Forever Mine). If you all remember I had completed the first draft in two months (April and May) and had planned to get back to it in July after leaving it aside for the month of June. I was out of town thrice in July, hence I will be able to work on this book only by the third week of August.

How is August going for you all?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

IWSG POST - My First Piece of Writing

It’s the eight IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) post of 2016. Whoosh! That’s more than half the year that’s flown past us. IWSG is a online writer’s group started by Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh (author of the Amazon Bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm, CassaFire and Dragon of the Stars).

IWSG members post on the first Wednesday of every month. In our posts we share our writing insecurities, anxieties, worries, clear our doubts and learn from other writers who are at different stages of their publishing journey. There is a wealth of information on the IWSG website.

A couple of months back Super A (my secret nickname for Alex) announced that every IWSG post will have a question which members can either answer in their post or can even make it the topic of their post (I’m sure Alex can read minds, he must have seen our blank minds trying to come up with a topic for IWSG every month, no wonder he came to our rescue by giving us ready-made topics for the month.)

AUGUST 03rd QUESTION: What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?

My first piece of writing was, a long time back, in my first year of college. I was sixteen. I had written a short story (around 1500 words) about a rabbit. I don’t remember the story but I clearly remember sending it to the children’s supplement of a local newspaper. After a couple of weeks when the story didn’t appear in the paper, I marched to the newspaper’s office and called the editor from the phone in the reception.

She said that as I had written it in long-hand, on foolscap sheets, she would need to get it typed before she could publish it and that was the reason for the delay. I asked her if she could give it back to me so that I could get it typed. She was surprised but agreed to post it back to me.

I don’t remember what I did with that copy. Somehow it disappeared from my files. I think I must have lost it when I got busy with my first-term exams. I laugh when I recollect my stupidity. Just imagine, foolish little me asking the editor for the story back, when she was eager to ask her assistant to type it for her!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Where Does Inspiration Strike You?

Writers are victims of the elusive muse who appears and disappears at will. Like lightning, our muse can strike us any time, any place and anywhere. Sometimes, even twice in the same place.

My muse tends to be very generous whenever it suits him (yes, my muse is a male). Don’t ask me how I’ve come to that conclusion. I just know it. Call it a Woman’s Instinct. Just like my mom knows when I'm dodging the truth.

There have been times when I’m at a party enjoying a marathon chat session with my favourite cousins and my muse is whispering important plot points in my ears. Then, I realize that I was foolish enough to bring a tiny clutch purse which had turned up its nose at my scribbling pad and pen. Then, I quickly wipe my hands on a paper napkin and type the plot points as a message and save it on my cell phone as a draft.

Once, while having lunch with my friends, I made notes on paper napkins, borrowing a pen from a guy having a drink at the next table.

Inspiration has an amazing way of striking me when I least expect it. One of inspiration’s favourite place to visit me is when I’m on my daily morning walk. While walking the ideas keep dropping into my head fast and furious (I get grumpy during the monsoons when I’m unable to go for my regular walks).

Sometimes inspiration strikes me when I’m reading blog posts. I’m not going to name the bloggers (because they may demand a percentage of my royalty for inspiring me).

Sometimes, I feel like tying up my muse in my room, so that he is available 24/7. Sadly, that's not possible.

Where does Inspiration strike you? Which is its favourite haunt? How do you cope with its demands? Any funny incidents that come to mind? We would love to be inspired by the stories of your inspiration.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Trying to Avoid Falling into the Trap

Last week I read a thriller by my favourite author. After I read it, I had just one thought running through my mind: I wish I hadn’t wasted time reading it. I felt cheated and disappointed. I’ve read all the books by that author and this book was a cut, copy and post job: the plot was a rehash of another book, the characters had been pulled out from all her other books and the storyline plodded through an expectable route with nothing new to offer.

I wondered why that veteran writer actually wrote this book. This book was an exact clone of her previous books. Word for word. I passed the book to my sister-in-law and she (though she isn’t a writer) said the same thing. Infact she went as far as telling me that she is skipping pages to come to the end.

The worst mistake we writers make is Falling Into The Trap. We can fall into this writing trap due to several reasons; overuse of certain types of clichés and stereotypes, use of a similar style of narrative in every story we write, even though the books aren’t a part of a series, use of similar settings, use of similar protagonists, using predictable sub-plots and plot twists.

I attribute this to the fact that once the writers have discovered a successful formula, they want to milk it for all its worth. Perhaps they endorse the view why mess with something that has worked well. But they forget that what readers adored once, may not find takers again.

Many times I have a strong feeling of Déjà vu when I read the next set of books written by few writers. I feel I have met the characters before. Even the setting has no novelty, it’s the same one as the last book written by the author. The problem faced by the main character and the way the conflict has been resolved is something I had guessed halfway (very often much earlier) through the book.

These authors fall into a self-made trap. They can avoid this by writing something new in every book. Roald Dahl’s books : George’s Marvellous Medicine, Twits, Mathilda, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate factory, all had something new to offer. So did Rowling’s books.  Though the seven potter books had the same setting of Hogwarts and the same set of characters, each book had something new to offer. There were surprises and shocks aplenty, new entrants who took us unawares, several times the plot took unexpected twists that had readers eager to know what would happen next.

Have you ever felt that a particular writer is falling into the trap? How do you personally manage to avoid the writing trap? Please share, we all can learn from your experience.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

IWSG Post – Not Writing Fast Enough

 It’s once again time for our monthly IWSG post. We post on the first Wednesday of every month. IWSG is the place we writers hang around online, sharing our writing insecurities, anxieties, worries, clearing our doubts and learning from each other. As all the writers are at different stages of their publishing journey, there is a wealth of information on the IWSG website.

Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh (author of the Amazon Bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm, CassaFire and Dragon of the Stars), started this amazing group. We all are thrilled to be a part of Super A’s (my nickname for Alex) group. It’s not easy to emulate this helpful and kind guy. But we are trying.

I’m co-hosting this month’s IWSG with Yolanda Renee, Tyrean Martinson, LK Hill, JA Scott and Madeline Mora Summonte.

This month my insecurity is not writing fast enough. When I see some of these writers bringing out two to three books in a year, marketing them, blogging, reading, working on other books, I feel quite insecure. I wonder how do they it. I’m barely able to work on one, max two books at a time. If I concentrate on my writing, my reading suffers. If I tackle my features and book reviews, my writing slips. It’s so difficult to juggle all these balls in the air and not drop a few of them.

To make the IWSG Day more fun and interactive, it has been decided that every month a question will be announced which members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt us to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. We can include our answer to the question in our IWSG post or let it inspire our post if we are struggling with something to say. 

The July 6 question - What's the best thing someone has ever said about your writing?

One of the best compliments I’ve ever received is when the Principal of a reputed school in Bangalore spoke about my book ‘The Lion Who Wanted to Sing’ in her graduation day speech. She called my children’s book motivational and inspiring and urged students to emulate the lion when pursuing their dreams. When I heard about this I was super-duper happy.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Navigating the Tough Maze of Titles

  Whenever I read the titles of some of the books, I’m quite green with envy. The titles are simply mindblowing. They are not just intriguing, they also convey the essence of the story.

 I wonder how the writers, or maybe it’s the editors of the publishing houses who come up with these awesome titles, do it.

Once upon a long time back I hated giving my stories and features (I write features for several newspapers) titles. If I gave titles they would be boring and dull. The editors always changed my story titles.

My journalism teacher in college would always complain that my features were very interesting but not the titles. She constantly urged me to choose better titles for my articles and features. According to her my titles never did my writing justice. She would say, “Coming up with catchy titles is an art that every writer must master. People read articles based on titles. Boring titles show that the feature may also be boring. Catchy titles are useful in attracting people’s attention. Titles should be engaging, catchy and interesting.”

This habit of coming up with mediocre titles followed me when I started writing for newspapers. Often the titles of the features and stories I sent were changed. And changed for the better.

I constantly wondered how other writers came up with such awesome and amazing titles. Jealousy and envy stabbed my heart whenever I read their titles. Days later when I discussed this with a writing friend, she agreed. She too was tortured by titles. But her advice was something I just loathed. “I never give titles for my stories, the editor will anyway change it. So why waste time?”

To become title savvy, I pondered over the titles of the books I read. Did it suit the story? Was it a perfect match? Slowly I transferred this detailed attention onto my work. What was I trying to tell my readers? What was the article/book all about? How could I sum up the work in a few words? What was the best way to convey what I had written? Which words correctly describe my story?

 It was a tedious task, but eventually I got the hang of it. Nowadays the title trauma no longer affects me. For the past several years, the editors have thankfully retained most of my titles.

What about you all? Do Titles Trouble and Torment you? Or, are you the lucky ones who come up with winners? Do you have any title tips that you would like to share?

P.S. My next post will be on 6th July as IWSG co-host

Friday, June 10, 2016

Should chapters be of the same length?

Some time back, one of my writing friends who had taken the independent publishing route as most of the agents had turned down her book, told me while chatting online, that she was adjusting her chapters. I asked her what did that mean. She said she was making sure that all the chapters are of equal length.

I was stunned. For my two previous manuscripts, I hadn’t paid attention to this detail. Infact, if you ask me, I won’t even be able to tell you the word count for the chapters or the number of pages for each chapter. I just know that the prankster book has long chapters and the book about a boy and a magic spirit has short chapters. But whether the chapters are of equal length or not, I won’t be able to tell.
I don’t pay much attention to chapter lengths. Neither while writing my books nor while reading someone elses. I am more interested in ensuring that the chapters end on a suspense or cliff-hanger mode. I also love giving each chapter a title.

For the current manuscript I’m writing, I worked on this detail. I’ve just completed  the first draft, so it’s going to undergo a seismic change. I have ensured all the chapters fall in the 1200-1700 words range (that’s the best I could do).

I checked the chapters of the book I am currently reading. The chapters are all of unequal lengths. I was thrilled to see that I’m not alone where unequal chapters are concerned.

I’m sure no editor or agent will reject a manuscript because one chapter is longer than the other.

Should we worry about chapter lengths? Do you think unequal chapters can hamper a book? Any advice will be appreciated.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

IWSG Post - No Insecurities this month

I just can’t believe it that we are in the sixth month of the year. That this will be my sixth IWSG post of the year. 2016 is racing by faster than the previous years. Someone please ask it to slow down as I have so much to do this year. IWSG aka Insecure Writers Support Group is a online group of writers, we post on the first Wednesday of every month. In our posts we discuss all our writing related worries, anxieties, fears and insecurities. Other writers who share similar worries help us out with their advice and tips. Check out the IWSG website for amazing writing tips. To read the other IWSG posts, click here.

For starting this wonderful group, we must thank Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh (author of the Amazon Bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm, CassaFire and Dragon of the Stars). Alex is a super musician, an amazing blogger, a wonderful human and a brilliant writer (psstt…there is nothing this magician can’t do).

This month I’m not going to crib and grumble, but I’m going to celebrate my small achievement. The reason I’m doing this is because I want to inspire other writers to push their writing muscle. Not only have I written for a different age group but also a different genre.

I finally finished the first draft of my first adult novel. YES, I DID IT. It took me two months (I started the novel on 1st April), I diligently wrote 1000 words a day and by 31st May I have nearly 60,000 words. Now I’ll leave it aside for a few weeks and work on two other books.

I will be working on an illustrated book (the publisher has since shut down its operations and I have claimed back the rights, the publisher has specifically asked me not to use the illustrations and only the text) to rework it in a chapter book format, and I will also be working on another manuscript I had abandoned a few years back. I had written around 23,000 words.

With the help of my Picture Book critique partner Laura Renauld, I have also revised two picture books. Yes, I am keeping myself super busy and all this has been accomplished because I have given myself a strict writing schedule of 1K words a day. If I missed a day’s word count, then the next day it would become 2K words. That was the only way to do it.

How have your past few months been writing wise? Are you stretching your writing muscles?