Friday, July 25, 2014

Making good progress

My current WIP which I have titled Scavage is progressing well.  All the research that I am doing online on dogs is throwing up several scenes in my mind. Initially, I was apprehensive about writing a book about dogs, that too street dogs. I am very scared of dogs. I thought I just could not do justice to this story.

But, as I ploughed through an outline, then did some research, my doubts were assuaged. I felt I could tackle this story. I did a brief outline and started writing the story. I feel better when I actually start the first draft. Unlike some writers, I don’t spend too much time outlining.

Two days back while writing a few scenes, I discovered two strong emotional hooks for my story. I have always felt that strong emotional hooks in a story make wonderful reader connections. I personally (as a reader) connect well with stories where the emotional layers and hooks are strong.

I have introduced 3 new characters. And believe it or not, the three small pups refuse to leave my mind space. I am constantly thinking about them. I am wondering where were they all this time.

How is your writing going? Which stage of writing are you all in? How much time do you spend outlining?

P.S. The idea for this book dropped into my mind when I was visiting Gary’s blog. A picture of his dog Penny threw this shiny new idea into my mind.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Getting back my reading groove

For quite some time, I had lost my reading groove. The pile of books on my reading list was threatening to bury me underneath it. And I am not even going to mention the books sitting inside my Kindle. I keep buying the Kindle version of books and managing to read just a few chapters of those books.

But from the past few days, the reading fairy has been very kind to me. I have been able to read quite a few books. And not just read them, my sub-conscious mind has been analyzing these stories for several elements.

I read Every Day by David Levithan. It’s a wonderful book and I enjoyed it very much. Infact, I am completely in awe of David Levithan’s writing abilities after reading this book. After that I read Wonder by R.J Palacio. Wonder has become one of my all time favourite books. And its protagonist- August Pullman, one of my favourite literary characters. This is one book everyone should read.

Then I read another lovely book The Tiffin by Mahtab Narsimhan. The protagonist of this book – Kunal wriggled his way into my heart. I loved every bit of this book. Now I am reading Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson. I am enjoying it. Maureen’s writing is amazing.

Getting back my reading groove has been wonderful. Nothing makes me as happy as reading a book. And if the story absorbs me, nothing like it.

What books are you reading now? Any book that you would like to recommend to us?

Friday, July 11, 2014

My book cover and crit partner’s good news

I consider myself predominantly a writer of middle grade fiction (for ages 9 to 14). I have always found picture books (for much younger readers) very difficult to write.  A couple of years back, when I was stuck while writing my middle grade fiction, I attempted three picture books. They were my attempts at trying out a picture book. I sent it to Scholastic India last year on a whim. I was surprised when they accepted it. I had written those stories for the fun of it. I was very sure no publisher would publish them.

Last year Scholastic confirmed that they would be publishing it and asked me to include scientific snippets. The book ‘Lazy worm goes on a journey’ was slated to go under the Early Science Category. After a round of editing it was sent out for illustrations. This year I got a good advance for it and the book hit the shelves last week. The book is in hard cover (something I always wanted.) I have to go for some school visits (I will let you all know how the visits go.)

It has been a good experience working with the Scholastic managing editor Tina Narang. Tina is an angel in disguise. She has patiently guided me every step of the way and answered all my questions regarding the contract, advance and other stuff and kept me in the loop where the illustrations, publishing and marketing of the book was concerned.

I have a good news to share with you all. My critique partner Mark Noce signed up with Rena Rossner of the The Deborah Harris LiteraryAgency (he has blogged about it). When I read the first chapter of Mark’s historical fiction ‘Between Two Fires,’ I emailed him that this book would definitely get him an agent. After I read the entire book I was sure of it. This was Mark’s third book I was critiquing. And I was stunned at the gigantic leap he had taken. The book is simply amazing. I don’t mean to say that his other books were not good, but this was by far his best (in every way). I am super excited and elated for Mark.

Do you all have any good news to share with all of us? Hope you all liked my book cover?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

IWSG Post – Conflict of Interest

Another IWSG has rolled into view. We writers eagerly wait for IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group). Started by Ninja Captain Alex Cavanaugh, this group makes it easy for us to vent our frustrations, insecurities, anxieties, fears and doubts with other writers who completely get it. The first Wednesday of every month is IWSG day. Click here for the IWSG website.

Of late, I have been doing many book reviews for the newspaper I write for. Not every book I have reviewed has been great. Some have had bad writing and some weak plots. But they all have one thing going for them: they have all been published by one of the Big Five publishers.

I mentioned in two of my reviews about the writing being mediocre and in another review about the glaring errors in the book. In both the books I mentioned the shoddy editing. My heart would not let me gloss over or ignore these errors. And unfortunately for me, both the books I reviewed and pointed out the mistakes in had been edited by the same editor. And this particular editor has five chapters of one of my manuscripts.

For a few days I was a bit anxious. Had I jeopardized my chances with this editor (because I clearly mentioned in the review about the not so great editing). My worry was whether the editor would reject my manuscript based on my criticism of her work.

Last week, summoning all my guts, I called up the editor and spoke to her. She was really sweet. She asked me not to stop reviewing the books and to be as honest as I wanted to be while reviewing, as the publishing house liked all my reviews (even where I am pointing out their mistakes).That was such a huge relief. I did not want my reviews to clash with my submission’s outcome.

Have you ever had a conflict of interest, where you are worried about the future of your own work? Do you think I am doing the right thing by being honest in my book reviews? What would you have done in my place?