Friday, July 31, 2015

What kind of friends does your MC have?

Friends are an important part of our lives. I’m sure we all look forward to long conversations with our close friends. We confide in them and cry over their shoulders. They are the reason we smile even in the midst of trouble. Our friends understand us better than anyone else.

The same rule applies when we write our stories. Our main characters too need a clutch of friends. Here is my take on few types of friends we can give our protagonists:

    1.  The Sacrificing Martyr – who will sacrifice his or her comfort to help the protagonist. Just like Hermione and Ron who almost always put Harry’s interest before their own. This was visible especially in the last book when they left the comforts of Hogwarts to be with Harry.

     2. The Fair Weather Friends – who will desert the ship when troubled times loom large. The support of this kind of friends is only for the good times. These friends are selfish.

    3. The Voice of Caution – a lot like Hermione in the Potter Series. This type of friend also doubles as a guardian and conscience rolled into one, giving warning about the repercussions of certain actions the protagonist undertakes. This type of friend can put up a fight if they feel that the protagonist is acting foolish or taking unnecessary risks.

    4.  The Idiot – who provides the lighter moments and is the butt of all the jokes like Neville Longbottom  and Luna Lovegood in the Potter series. These friends are harmless and can rise to the occasion if the need arises.

     5.  The Turn Coat – who doesn’t think twice before betraying the protagonist  when it suits them to serve other interests that clash with the protagonist’s.

      6. The Fool Hardy One – this type of friend leads the protagonist into all kinds of trouble.  

      7. The Wise Ones – who have the answer to most puzzles  bugging the protagonist. These friends can be a great source of help to the protagonist.

     8.  The Dependable Ones – these friends can and  will almost always help the protagonist  and will stick with him or her  through troubled times, through thick and thin. Hermione comes to mind when I think of this kind of a friend.

    9.  The Jealous Friend – this kind of friend is fiercely competitive and sees the protagonist more as a rival than a friend. These friends are extremely prone to jealousy and may even harm in a fit of jealousy.

   10.  The Silent One – who seldom offers an opinion, but can be extremely loyal and protective of the MC.

   11.  The Defender – who gets into all kind of trouble trying to protect the hero/heroine. This type of friend picks up fights on behalf of the MC.

   12.  The Lackeys – who hang around the MC as it’s prestigious to be seen in their company. They are like leeches, they can never be depended upon for help.

What kind of friend/s have you given your protagonist?  Did you ponder over the type of friend you wanted to give the Main Character, or did it just happen as a part of the story? Do you take time to create the perfect friend for your hero/heroine? Please share. We all can learn lots from your process.

Friday, July 24, 2015

My Reading List

I have always been fond of reading books. As a child, in my holidays, I would sit up till late in the night reading my Nancy Drews, Hardy Boys and Enid Blytons. This habit accompanied me in my adult life. 

However busy I am, you will always find me with a book: at the airport, in the hospital, in the doctor’s clinic, at railway stations and everywhere else.
I just cannot believe it when people tell me that they don’t read. Infact, I am shocked when I hear this statement.

This week I was super busy to come up with a post. So, I thought I will take a shortcut and share my reading list with you. Books I have read this month and books I will be reading in the next few days.

1 Daddy’s Gone a Hunting by Mary Higgins Clark (Read it and liked it.) (M.H Clark is my favourite mystery writer.)

2 The Cindrella Murder By Mary Higgins Clark (Read it and loved it.)

3 The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider (Read it on my Kindle, loved it and want to read again.)

4 Living with the Himalayan Masters by Swami Rama (currently I am reading this book borrowed from the library, its giving me goosebumps and making me see yogis in a different light.)

5 Half-girlfriend by Chetan Bhagat (Will be my next read.)

6 All the Bright Things by Jennifer Niven (have heard amazing reviews about it.)

7 Enders Game by Orson Scott Card (have heard a lot about it, eager to read it, bought it from Blossoms: Bangalore’s biggest book shop. If you are ever in Bangalore and you love books, you must visit this place.)

8  5 to 1 by Holly Bodger (won it on Literary Rambles, eager to read it.)

9 A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseni (was waiting for my mom to finish reading it. She loved it.)

What are you reading this month? What are the books on your TBR list?

Friday, July 17, 2015

Interview with Author Elizabeth Varadan

Today, I have an interview with Author Elizabeth Varadan. Elizabeth has written a Middle Grade mystery ‘Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls.’ After I had read and reviewed Elizabeth’s previous book ‘The Fourth Wish’ I had become a huge fan of her writing. Her latest book didn’t disappoint.

Q. Tell us something about yourself?
A. I’ve loved to read and write from an early age, but I only had time to write full time once I took early retirement from teaching. All through college and teaching, I scribbled mainly short stories for adults. But after teaching eight-to-twelve-year-olds for several years, that age range seemed imbedded in my mind, and I started writing middle grade fiction.

Q. What was the inspiration behind Imogene and the case of the Missing Pearls?
A.  I’ve loved mysteries since I was a kid. When I was ten (and an avid Nancy Drew fan) I had a favorite fantasy of being a detective named Imogene and even started a detective club with friends. So, when I decided to write this story, the sleuth was ten, and named Imogene. I wanted Sherlock to be in the story, so it had to happen in Victorian London. And because  Victorian girls couldn’t go out on their own, the mystery had to happen at home. Thus, her mother’s pearls were stolen, but by whom?

Q. What made you incorporate Sherlock Holmes into the story?
A.  I discovered the original Sherlock Holmes stories in my twenties. I’ve always liked fiction set in England, especially during the Victorian Era. After I went through all of Doyle’s stories and novels, I started finding books starring Sherlock Holmes, but written by other authors as if the author were an editor publishing a new work by Doyle. (I have since learned that these are “pastiches”.) After my brother and his wife took me to the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London, I began to think, “Hmmm, maybe I’d like to write a story about Sherlock Holmes.”

Q. How did you go about doing research for this book?
A. It helps that I love research. I started out googling historical sites on the Internet, and then started writing agencies on an “as needed” basis. By the time I was well into it, I was writing letters to museum departments, shipping companies, railroad companies (for timetables in a certain year, and that sort of thing). I read more fiction and nonfiction set in the Victorian era to get a feel for the language, as well as the logistics and place names of the day, and then I looked at their bibliographies to get more sources. I have quite a library of my own, now, for future books, and a nice network of consultants, I’m happy to say.

Q. Are you a plotter or a panster?
A. Panster. I usually start out with a character that grabs me, and a problem, and I work from there. Sometimes I do have an end in mind, but that usually changes once the story is underway. About halfway through, I start “mini-plotting”, figuring out what needs to happen for something else to happen. But I have never successfully started with a plot in advance. I did plot two books once, and they are still in my filing cabinet, unwritten, because the thrill was gone. A finished plot left me feeling the book was finished. Irrational, I know, but that seems to be the way my psyche works.

Q. Any chance of turning this into a series?
A. Yes, I do have rough sketches for two sequels. (Rough sketches are as “plotty” as I get.)

Q. Any tips for writing a mystery?
A. Be flexible, and don’t get too attached to your original plan. The person you thought “dunnit” might not be the culprit after all. It also pays to read mysteries that grab you, because that’s the best way to learn what works. I do have several books on writing mysteries that I have found helpful, but one thing I notice is that they don’t all have the same approach, which is strangely encouraging.

Q. What are you writing now?
A. I’m in the rewrite of a “cozy” mystery for adults. And, as I said, I have sketches for two more Imogene books. I also have a historical YA involving a ghost that I’ve been working on for about ten years. Some books are like that. Between other books, I pick it up and work on it some more. It’s coming along, although I hope it doesn’t take another ten years.

Elizabeth Varadan is a former elementary school teacher. She taught most elementary grades, but her favorites were the middle grades, and she now writes middle grade fiction. She and her husband live in Midtown Sacramento, California, a beautiful tree-lined neighborhood with bookshops and art stores nearby. Her children’s fiction and poetry have appeared in Ladybug, Friends, and Skipping Stones Magazine. Her adult flash fiction has appeared in several online and print magazines, and her poetry has been anthologized in Vine Leaves Journal and The Stray Branch.

Elizabeth blogs at:
Elizabeth Varadan’s Fourth Wish:

Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls is available at:

Thank you Elizabeth for agreeing to do the Interview. We all wish you loads of luck with your latest book.

Friday, July 10, 2015

A Fun Post - Meet my Muse

We writers would be lost without our muses (Inspiration). We put up with all their tantrums, their erratic behaviour of dropping in at the most inopportune times, their mood swings and sometimes their flirty behaviour. All for the sake of getting our stories written.

Just imagine if one day our muses would go away on a long holiday, without a warning. I am sure that would be a nightmare situation for all of us.

I thought I would do a fun post today. I have no idea why, but I have always considered my muse to be a guy. I have given my muse a name, an image and a personality. Today, I will introduce you all to me muse. If my muse were to emerge from the depths of my imagination, he would look like the accompanying picture and embrace all these qualities.

Meet my muse (he is completely a figment of my over active imagination)

Name:  Siddharth (Ever since I came to know that Lord Buddha’s name was Siddharth, I fell in love with this name)

Height : 6 feet tall (it would make my muse close to my dad’s height)

Colour : Fair

Hair : Black.

Body Type : Athletic with a six pack abs.

Profession : I am undecided about this aspect, but I would definitely prefer it if he does something Intellectual (Intelligent guys appeal to me ;) )

Nature : Calm, Supportive and Generous.

Hobbies : Reading, Plays a musical instrument and loves sports (not just watching it on T.V but actually getting all sweaty).

Hope you all enjoyed meeting my muse. Now be good and introduce me to all your muses. Go wild, Go Crazy. Remember to give your muses a name and a body type and hobbies etc.

Picture Courtesy – As I could not find a suitable picture to go with my imagination, I have taken Bollywood Hearththrob Hrithik Roshan’s picture from one of the online sites, as he came closest to matching my imagination.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

IWSG Post - Saying Goodbye to a Manuscript

It’s time for the seventh IWSG of the year. The year sure has picked up speed and is flying past swiftly. IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) is an online group of writers that posts on the first Wednesday of every month. This amazing and awesome group was started by the adorable Alex Cavanaugh – Author of Amazon bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm, CassaFire and Dragon of the Stars. In blogoland Alex is known as Ninja Captain. I have decided to give Alex another name- Super A (as it’s my birthday month, I know he will forgive me).

IWSG is a cool place to hangout online for writers. We can talk of our writing worries, fears, doubts, insecurities and anxieties and help, support, advice and encourage each other. Check the IWSG website for awesome writing tips.

For this month’s IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) post I was unable to choose my Insecurity because currently there are two insecurities fighting with each other to occupy my mind space. Yes, my insecurities not just trouble me, they even trouble each other.

My first insecurity is lack of time for the first 10 days of this month. I have family obligations to fulfil, so I know that my writing will definitely take a backseat during these ten days.

 But, the main insecurity this month is that I am unable to say goodbye to an old manuscript. This particular story was very close to my heart. I made the mistake of querying too fast for it. Many of the agents I queried for this manuscript asked me to send another MS and a few asked me to keep them in mind when I queried another book. Though I have gone on to write a few more books after that particular MS, I often revert to it and try to make it better in whichever way I can.

I know that as a writer I shouldn’t linger on any one particular book and should write as many as I can. But, I just am not able to say goodbye to that particular story. I tweaked it last week for the hundredth time. Sometimes, I feel I am wasting my time polishing a story that has no takers. But, honestly I am helpless. There is a strange attraction to it.

I would love to know if this has happened to you all. Has a particular manuscript refused to let go of you? Have you clung on to a particular story inspite of having moved on to other stories? Deep down do you harbour a wee bit of hope that the particular manuscript will finally get published?