Wednesday, September 13, 2017 8 Comments

My Dearest Book, I Wrote You A Poem!



A dream in my hands
An eager step towards a
Beautiful journey

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

My dearest,
On a lonely, sunny afternoon
A few murmurs, a blurred vision
Floated in my mind
You stirred
A figment of imagination,
An ephemeral dream, I presumed
You smiled, a promising smile that stuck
Refusing to go away
You made me restless
But brought solace too
Giving me a new horizon
You, my little precious book, encouraged 
With a million quirky thoughts
Embracing me and promising, yet again
A new, beautiful journey




Imaginary Garden invites us to write a poem, dedicated to our dearest book. As a first time author, of course, my dearest book is my own book, We Will Meet Again. It was a great learning experience and the connection I developed with my book and characters while writing is exceptionally special!

I loved this idea! Do you like this idea? Then write a poem for your dearest book, and share. :)


Sharing With Haiku My Heart


   

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Thursday, September 7, 2017 6 Comments

Book Review: Empire by Devi Yesodharan




'The strangest flowers,' my brother said, 'have come out of ordinary grass.'

Even though I am not fond of historical fiction (or maybe I haven't tried reading them seriously), I enjoyed reading Empire by Devi Yesodharan (Juggernaut Books). And, it's a big thing as a reader - enjoying the genre you don't read much.

I love books that have women as central protagonists, and Empire, set in the times of Chola dynasty, has Aremis, a strong and only woman warrior, who not only beat all the boys in a tournament but also qualifies to be the throne guard of the Chola King.

'It's not enough to be better than everyone else. I have to be better than their fantasies.' Aremis thinks.

Greek by origin, Aremis or Yavani, still a foreigner among Cholas, has no family and she is not supposed to fall in love. Not allowed to look attractive. 

Empire also tells the story Anantha (Also called as Avvai), the commander of the Chola armies, who develops a special connection with Aremis, which eventually damages the trust she has built in the eyes of the King. Especially when an important battle is waiting ahead!

How her life changes after becoming the throne guard? Why her special connection with Anantha damages the credibility of Aremis? An asset to the kingdom, would she be allowed to fight the battle? Will the Cholas win the battle? You need to read the book to find these (and many more) answers.

Written in first person from two Points of View, this book is intriguing, imaginative, and seems very well-researched. The language is neat and well-suited to this genre. It reflects the culture of the Cholas and spirit of the fighters. 

Characters do (or the author make them do) justice to their roles. The author has expressed the longing and loneliness of Aremis really well. 'There are a few memories so vivid it's like looking at them through a window.'

The fights of Aremis, as a quick-witted, dark warrior with dagger and bow, seem impressive. 

Just one thing - I think, for this story, it would have been better (more vivid - expression/appearance-wise) if it was written in third person PoV.

Overall, this book was a wonderful reading experience, and it has inspired me to read more historical fiction, especially with strong female central characters. If you like reading historical fiction, you must pick this book. Even if you are new to this genre (like me), you should read this well-written book.


I received an (Advance) Review Copy from the publisher for an honest review.


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Saturday, September 2, 2017 1 Comments

Author's Interview: In Conversation With Kanchana Banerjee

I love everything that deals with writing and books. Writing tips, writing journey (struggles), book reviews, book recommendations, and 'author's interviews' -  if I find any such posts, I'm off to read that!

Today, I am in conversation with Kanchana Banerjee, author of A Forgotten Affair (Harper Collins). Kanchana Banerjee is an experienced freelance writer (that reflects in her writing), and switched to creative writing with her debut novel, A forgotten Affair.




She believes, 'There's always a time and place for everything.'

She is one of the most disciplined and dedicated writers I have met (online, actually). So, let's talk!

Welcome to my blog. Tell your readers something about you and about your writing journey.

I always knew writing is what I would do. Nothing else was ever an option. So I worked with few newspapers before becoming a  freelance features writer. Then veered into corporate writing. I also knew that someday I would write a book. Everything else I did along the way was in preparation of that. Now I’m home, in the world of fiction.

You had been a freelance writer for 20 years. What prompted you to write fiction? And, how challenging/different you think creative writing is?

As I said above, it was a natural progression of things. I wrote features for a very long time. Topics I like to write on are – relationships, people profiles, life in general, changing landscape in society & etc. so it’s hardly surprising that I write relationship stories.

You have won the contract of A Forgotten Affair by pitching your synopsis in just 3 minutes. Sounds pretty impressive. Can you please share some pitching tips for aspiring writers?

Allow yourself to be nervous. It’s ok to be. Build on that nervous edge to do your best. Tell yourself again and again that you’ll not let go of the moment. Own the moment. Let your passion speak. Prepare well but don’t read from a script. If it’s doesn’t swing your way, don’t curse yourself. you win some, you lose some. You live to win another day.

Tell me something about A Forgotten Affair – where did you get the inspiration from?



I write on relationships so I observe people around me. I have seen some of my friends and some elderly aunts in the family in emotionally abusive relationships. It has disturbed for a very long time. The fact that women themselves don’t realize and accept that they are being minimized; it just horrifies and angers me.

As a writer, what you think ruins a story?

Over telling or over justification. Don’t tell all about the characters. Reveal bit by bit about them. Keep the reader surprised and anxious to read on and know. Don’t justify a vile character. Allow them to be bad just for the sake of being bad. And don’t let the characters be inconsistent.

Is there any particular genre you find difficult to write? If yes, which one?

I don’t think I would be able to write an erotica. It requires a certain sensibility which I don’t have. 

Would you like to share something about your future projects?

I have finished Novel 2. Novel 3 & 4 are fully etched out in separate folders in my lap top. They all deal with relationships, are reflection of the contemporary times we live in but also very different from each other. I am very superstitious about my writing and believe that if I talk about a work in progress that will never see the light of day. So my lips are sealed.

You are a very disciplined/dedicated writer. Tell us something about your writing process.

The idea of the plot and the protagonist comes to me together. I then allow it stay in my thoughts. I keep thinking, jotting down points and allow the idea to grow. Then I start writing a detailed character sketch of the protagonist and the other primary characters. This allows me to get into the skin of the characters, their life and the story I will tell through them. Then I do chapter outline of first 10 chapters, after which I begin writing. But I have seen that somewhere around 15,000 words, the story decides to take over and tells me, “To hell with the chapter outlines, follow me.” I always heed. The story tells and I follow. I’m very weird in one thing; I need to know the end of the story. So after writing few chapters, I know how I want the end to be. So I write it down. so far I haven’t changed the end. So I know the beginning and the end; then all that’s left is to reach the destination.

Writing and getting published is difficult. What is more difficult  –
Finding ideas
Finishing the first draft
Editing
Marketing?

Writing, ideating is tough but it’s the most enjoyable part of the journey. It’s a happy tough. Editing is heart breaking. I’ve had to chop and delete portions that I loved writing only to realize later that they weren’t doing anything to the story, hence had to go. Marketing is the necessary evil in the whole book journey. For me it is the toughest because marketing doesn’t come naturally to me.

Is there any book that you found overrated/underrated? Have you ever read a book that compelled you to think – I wish I had written this! Which book is that (if yes)?

Yes, I have found a few books over-rated but I don’t want to mention them. books that I wish I’d written – there are many. I wish I’d written Kane & Abel, Palace of Illusions, To kill a mockingbird, Thorn birds, Kite runner…to name a few.

You were very clear about your career since you were a teenager. How did you manage to stay so focused?Please share some insights.

It’s just the way I am. I know what I want and I know what I don’t want. Some people get clarity out confusion and I know what I want. So that’s that.

Any words of inspiration for aspiring writers?

Don’t be in a hurry to get published. Read a lot. Write a lot. Think about what you are writing. Don’t be in a race to write more. write better. That’s what I follow.

Thank you so much for your time. It was a pleasure to have you on my blog!





        
      


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Sunday, August 20, 2017 4 Comments

Book Review: The Girl Who Loved A Spy by Kulpreet Yadav






From the back cover -

'Everyone is imperfect, and everyone deserves to be loved'

Monica - a 30 something ex-model is fighting for love

Andy Karan -  a young ex-army, investigative reporter is fighting for truth

KB - a wicked business man is fighting for money.


'The Girl Who Loved A Spy' by Kulpreet Yadav is a crime thriller that tells about Andy Karan - who secretly works for Indian Intelligence Service, his love of life and his undercover mission to find the truth and save the nation from the vicious KB, the owner of the magazine Andy and Monica work for.

This mission is going to be tough and different for it involves Monica, Andy eventually falls in love with. So, will Andy succeed in his mission? What about his relationship with Monica? Well, you need to read this book to know the answers.

This is my first book by Mr. Kulpreet Yadav and I liked the writing - it's descriptive, creates nice imagery and helps you understand things better. The cover is smart and apt.

Andy's character is admirable. I liked the way the author has compared Andy with his namesake from the Mahabharat - Karan. 'Your name is Karan, and you can never win. Whatever you love will be taken away from you. You are are cursed, Karan.'

However, I felt that no other character makes any impact. Not even Monica and that was disappointing as I was expecting a strong female lead. Also, the Andy-Monica love story seems half-baked, no emotional development is being shown in the story as the blurb (and the title) reflects.

'It's not that Andy wants to live forever, but this is one case he can't afford to lose. Not just for the truth, but for the first time in his life, for love.'

Their love story, their feelings are not intense enough to justify the statement (and the title) above. The thing is that it wouldn't have affected the story if 'The Girl didn't Love the Spy'.

The book is engaging and you will find yourself turning the pages, but I felt the author has made this book a very easy read, giving all the information away beforehand even though there are some points where there was scope for strong cliffhangers and psychological twists to enhance the unpredictability factor (that would have been more thrilling!).

Nevertheless, this book was a nice, interesting read. If you enjoy crime thrillers, go pick it up!

I thank Mr. Kulpreet Yadav for sending the review copy for an honest review.









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Saturday, July 29, 2017 2 Comments

New to Freelance Writing? Things You Need To Know


I am a freelance writer and author (of We Will Meet Again, a contemporary romance). My works have been published in magazines like Good Housekeeping India, Child India, New Woman and Woman's Era. 

So, naturally, anything related to freelance writing interests me. Recently, Blog Chatter, a wonderful blogging community (if you are a writer or blogger, you must follow Blog Chatter) initiated an interactive and enriching discussion on freelance writing. There were some questions that we discussed on Twitter that (and Blog Chatter of course) prompted me write this post.

Here, I am trying to answer some questions and share my learning and experience. Question & image credit goes to Blog Chatter. 

Freelancing is a very broad term. Since, I am a freelance writer, I am going to talk about freelance writing.



My answer to this questions would be 'Yes' but I can't resist myself adding that 'it's difficult'. If you want to consider freelance writing as a full-time career option, you need to be focused and dedicated. It demands a lot of patience as it takes time to flourish. It involves extensive research and smart marketing skills. You need to make serious/long-term professional contacts and most importantly, you must be very prompt when it comes to ideas and deadlines.

Your chances to succeed as a freelance are fairly high if you manage to get frequent international gigs.







Or Do you have a modus operandi for freelance jobs?

The first thing you need to do is to find suitable markets, and for that you should study the market. Never send your ideas without studying the market (magazine/newspapers/websites) and its guidelines. Because if you do this, there could be two adverse effect - 

1) You may not know if your ideas/style is suitable for that particular market. 
2) The editor would know that you are not familiar with the market and it may ruin your (first) impression thus your chance of getting the gig. 

Also, always address the editor by her/his name.

The second important thing is to learn to write striking pitches. Your pitch is your first impression. And, do not hesitate to follow up. Editors are busy people. Sometimes, you need to remind them, and it's okay.




In my opinion, the biggest challenge of freelancing is to market yourself as an efficient writer. Making contacts and building relationship. If you are smart enough to develop the trust and a long-term relationship with the editors, your chances are high. 

Another challenge is to keep your pockets full of different ideas. It is advisable to find your niche, but I believe you should learn to work out of your comfort zone to maximize your success as a freelance writer. You need to find unique ideas (This is another topic for some other time) to stand out in the market. Even if your idea is common, you must learn to tweak them. Think out of the box.

Then, you must have the ability to reach out to experts for interviews to make your pieces authentic. And, last but certainly not the least, you must meet your deadlines!





Honestly, I haven't worked much with foreign clients, but whatever my experience is, I believe they are more approachable and responsive. Money is smooth. But yes, you can't trust blindly just because it's an international market (and money is good). You must check with fellow writers who have worked with international magazines/newspapers. Connect with successful Indian-international freelance writers. LinkedIn can be a helpful source for this.

You may follow 'Make Living Writing'  and 'The International Freelancer' to understand the International freelance writing better.

If you want to succeed as a freelance writer, I would advise you to read 'EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT FREELANCE JOURNALISM (BUT DIDN’T KNOW WHOM TO ASK' by Kavitha Rao and Charukesi Ramadurai. It's a must have for new freelance writers as it will answer most of your questions.

So, that's all for now. I hope you find this post helpful. Please share your insights (even queries, if any). I am all ears! 




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Thursday, July 27, 2017 1 Comments

Book Review: Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie





Purple Hibiscus or rather Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was on my TBR list for a long time. I heard a lot about the author and this book, so I finally ordered this book. It took me some time to finish this this book because I am not that old Tarang (there are so many other engagements/responsibilities that turned me into a relatively slow reader) who could finish a book in a few hours. Plus, I wanted it to go slow. 


Purple Hibiscus tells the story of fifteen-year-old, timid Kambili who lives under the shadow of her wealthy, over-religious and violent father. Kambili, her helpless mother and her brother Jaja are forced to live an entertainment-proof life within the confines of high walls around their house and 'to-be-followed-strictly' routine.


Kambili yearns for her father's 'conditional' love and makes efforts to please him.



'I wished I had said that.' She often thinks when her brother says something thoughtful that makes her father smile.

Her only companion is Jaja. "We did that often, asking each other questions whose answers we already knew. Perhaps it was so that we would not ask the other questions, the ones whose answers we did not want to know.”


When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili and her brother get a chance to stay away from their authoritarian father and live with their fearless and lively aunt, Ifeoma,  a University professor in Nsukka. Though financially weak, aunt Ifeoma’s house if full of life and laughter. In her aunt’s home, Kambili understands the true meaning of life, love, freedom and togetherness.


“It was what Aunty Ifeoma did to my cousins, I realized then, setting higher and higher jumps for them in the way she talked to them, in what she expected of them. She did it all the time believing they would scale the rod. And they did. It was different for Jaja and me. We did not scale the rod because we believed we could, we scaled it because we were terrified that we couldn't.” 

But, how long can she live in her aunt’s house? How her (and Jaja’s) life is going to change? Read Purple Hibiscus to know the story of Kambili’s life.

I like fast paced stories, and Purple Hibiscus is a little slow in the first half, still I did not find it boring because of author’s soothing writing style. I instantly developed a fondness for her writing. It's so beautiful and authentic. It creates vivid imagery. The characters are very well defined. I personally liked the character of aunt Ifeoma, her daughter, Amaka and Father Amadi, a young priest.

There's a reason for every situation and character's behaviour. For instance, Kambili is so timid and silent that sometimes I felt she was not present in the story as a character (however, her fears and anguish are well expressed) but was a mere narrator. But, there is a strong reason of her odd behavior.


For me, Purple Hibiscus is a memorable book, a book that stays with you for some time (even after you have finished reading that). I loved Adichie's writing. Just one thing bothered me - there are so many Nigerian words (without glossary). It did not affect the gist of the story but it disrupted the flow of reading because these words are so frequent that I felt compelled to google search them to get the meaning. 

I'd recommend this book to everyone who loves intense stories and meaningful writing. Even if you enjoy light, fast-faced stories, I'd suggest you to read this one. I am looking forward to reading Chimamanda Adichie's next book, Half of a Yellow Sun. 






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Thursday, July 20, 2017 4 Comments

Show, Don’t Tell – do you follow this rule?




Show, Don’t Tell – this is one of the most common writing advices we often hear. However, you might have read some articles that say, ‘Show, Don’t Tell can be a terrible writing advice.’

Well, showing 'too much' can be a little annoying if not handled well, especially if the writer is not experienced. The new writer may become over-enthusiastic and write in an over-descriptive manner. It may tempt the writer to use too many unnecessary dialogues, in order to erm…‘show’. So, it’s very important to keep the balance.

I understand, as a writer and a reader, the beauty and importance of crisp narration, still I strongly advocate the concept of  – ‘Show, Don’t Tell’ for certain reasons –

It makes the writing authentic – as a writer, when you apply this rule, you use your observations. Things you notice happening around. Like the setting of a room or if the neighbour is watering plants in the her garden etc.

The way people speak. Their facial expressions, body-language and activities when they speak. Like someone tucks her curls while speaking. Or if someone is arranging clothes or fiddling with her mobile (or any other activities) when talking. 

These things are very important for authentic writing.

It creates vivid imagery. Let’s take this example –

Telling – I look out of the window. The weather is mesmerizing.

Showing – A gush of cool breeze caresses my face. I smooth out my curls as I watch colourful blooms flutter playfully. Champa tree, so close to my window that I can touch it if I try, effuses heavenly fragrance. Water droplets, hanging off the leaves, glint like diamond nose pins as sunshine kisses them. 

Get it? Descriptive but it creates nice imagery, no? Writing/narration seems more interesting if it creates vivid imagery.

It helps the story move more smoothly. If you tell everything, you become the narrator; your voice may sound similar. Every character of your story sounds like you, the narrator. And, if it happens, the writing seems dull and tiring, and it may disrupt the flow of the story.


So, these are my reasons. What's yours? What type of writer or reader you are? Do you follow this rule? Please share your views?









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