Monday, April 8, 2019

Author's Interview: In Conversation With Ruchi Singh




I had read Ruchi Singh's book Jugnu by chance. It falls under my favourite genre ---that's romance plus, some of my reader friends had cool things to say about this book. The problem {for me} was that the book was available in ebook format ---a format I found difficult to read. Then one day, I downloaded this book. Just like that. 

The moment I started reading, I was hooked. Surprisingly, I finished it in a single sitting---on my phone. Yes, it was that gripping! Now, it's one of my favourite romances. Then, naturally, I downloaded her first book, Take 2. Liked it too.

Recently, I read 'Guardian Angel', her latest book. Enjoyed it {However, Jugnu remains my favourite}. So, I've realized that Ruchi Singh's writing style works for me, always. I feel a connection with her characters {most important thing for me}. You can feel their emotions develop.

Today, I am so pleased to have Ruchi Singh on my blog. She has some interesting things to say. So, let's chat ---



Image result for ruchi singh jugnu


Welcome to my blog. Tell me about your writing journey ---that moment when you realized that you wanted to be a writer?


RS: Thanks for having me on your blog...

It happened by chance in 2013, when friends and family suggested I should write. It was like an epiphany that yes I can, and should write. 

Since I am very fond of novels, so I began with a novel. I immensely enjoyed writing Take 2, the joy in creating something new is quite potent. And when I won the Indireads Short Story competition in Oct 2014, I knew I will become a novelist. Recently winning the TOI WriteIndia contest was an awesome experience and added motivation.

What's the most essential element of a gripping story?

RS: The characters and their evolution through the story arc.

I couldn't agree more! Would you like to tell us about your writing process? Do you follow any writing schedule?

RS: There are no hard and fast rules. I normally need a broad level plot and framework to be in place before writing. In case of a thriller, the plot is complex and I have to work out on the timeline so I do it on paper, then I begin to write. 

For a romance where the focus is on emotional conflict, I go by my instincts and the characters I have created. 

There is no fixed schedule. When I am writing the first draft I mostly write everyday, but if the writing spree is interrupted it becomes difficult to start again. But it’s a good idea to write daily. 

Please tell us about your next book?

RS: I am writing an emotional romance which is again set in Kasauli, the backdrop of my second novel Jugnu. I’m also planning and plotting the third one in 'Undercover' series. There are lots of ideas floating in my mind, but very less time.

What's more difficult ---completing a book or marketing that book? Do you think social medial plays an important role in promoting your book?

RS: Its difficult to choose between the two, both have different challenges. But if I have to pick one it will be completing a book. Writing an interesting story which appeals to the readers is the key to the next step which is marketing. Marketing is not a phase, it's an ongoing task and can be done at one's own pace.

Social media plays a very important role in marketing. It's probably most effective, fastest and lucrative way to take your book to the audiences. 

I am on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, where I post the excerpts and reviews of my books. I blog at iluvfiction.com about books and people can read my flash fiction.

Is there any particular genre you find it difficult to write in?

RS: I think I can only write Romance and crime, rest all are difficult for me.

What would be your precious advice for new/aspiring writers?

RS: This would be a cliched answer, but still:

1) Read ‘On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft’ by Stephen King and follow it.
2) Buy a good editing tool and use it
3) Write, write, write and edit, edit, edit. 




Friday, April 5, 2019

Watercolor Paintings: Painting Without Reference Photos

So, I would consider it as a development. That I have painted some landscapes without any reference photos and paintings are not bad, I think. However, I would not encourage myself to do that often.

I always need a reference photo to paint. When it comes to painting, my imagination is very limited, so yes I would call it a development.

Sharing some of my paintings that I painted without any reference photo.



Also, I have started to feel comfortable painting on large sized paper. OK, not that large but A4 size. I usually painted on A5, as earlier I didn't feel confident enough to try on A4. These two paintings are on A4 size paper, without any reference photo.



So, what do you think?



Sharing with Paint Party Friday




Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Book Review: Summer Holidays by Koral Dasgupta





 Name of the book
 Summer Holidays
 Name of the author
 Genre
 Family Drama
 No. of Pages
 256
 Publisher
 Rupa Publications
 Price


'People misbehave with their loved ones, they take them for granted because they believe in a tomorrow when things will get sorted. But what if there was no tomorrow?'

---Koral Dasgupta, Summer Holidays

This quote is actually the gist of the story. 

The female and male protagonists {Mira and Rishi} of this story are siblings who haven't met in a long time {16 years} because of an ugly fight between their parents {Also siblings}. One fine day, they connect on Facebook and got in touch. They practically share a flat while studying in the same city {without telling their parents, of course}.

While Rishi and Mira bond really well, their parents' estrangement bothers them terribly. So, they make a quirky plan!

What's the plan? Would it work? You will have to read the book to know the answer. 

Family drama. Sibling love and bonding. With a hint of romance. Well, romance is always welcome but family drama/sibling love is not really my favourite genre when it comes to novels. 

To be very honest, the first impression was not very good because of the very same reason. Also, the book cover seemed a little dull. I thought this story deserved more vibrant cover. Still, I enjoyed reading this book! I'll tell you why.

The first thing I noticed {after the cover} and liked about this book was Rishi! He is so mature and witty! His dialogues are so thoughtful and interesting. 

'Spend it {time} to buy fun but never give away to the undeserved.'

Characterization is good, actually. Most of the characters seem relatable. Except Shiraz. Now, I don't feel good saying this because Shiraz is an important character even though he is practically not there. 

'Shiraz was your hero,' Mira says to Rishi but frankly I didn't find anything heroic about Shiraz. I felt this character needed more space. I was looking for something substantial that confirms Rishi's deep bonding with Shiraz {that he remembers him fondly even after 16 long years}.

There's another problem ---Rishi remembers too much. And so vividly. Rishi was just five when the fight happened so it bothered me that a boy remembers so much that he experienced at the age of five {and when he was even younger}.

Bonding between Rishi and Mira is endearing and very well expressed. There's a little bit of romance {in both Rishi and Mira's personal life} that's really entertaining. It acts like a refreshing change in the story. The author has created space for romance very nicely.

The author earns brownie points for writing this book from multiple points of view that switch frequently. This has been done so skillfully that it doesn't disturb or confuse you.

I liked the quotes ---

'There was no bigger solace than drowning in work when tense or sad. Perhaps the sense of helplessness inspired an energy that brought out the best in you.'

Overall, it was a sweet and entertaining read. If you are looking for an interesting, light and thoughtful read, Go for it.


I received this book from the publisher for an unbiased review.






Saturday, March 23, 2019

Author's Interview: In Conversation With Sudesna Ghosh



Sudesna Ghosh is a versatile writer who writes novellas, short stories and children's stories. She also writes non fiction. In fact her first two books are non fiction.

Interestingly, we got in touch on Twitter because of her first book 'What Would I Tell Her @ 13 {published by Harper Collins India}, as I needed some inputs for my article and she was so kind to share her insights.



Then I read her short story 'It Started With A Cup Of Coffee' and I can say that it was one of the best short stories I read in 2018. It's a sweet story, engaging and very well crafted. 

Recently, I read her latest novella 'My Small, Thin Indian Wedding'. As the name suggests, it's about a wedding ---Reema's wedding. Reema, unlike many other girls, wants a simple, quiet wedding but obviously it cannot be everyone's favourite idea. So, it's not going to be easy.

My Small, Thin Indian Wedding is a modern take on love and relationship. The theme of the story is nice. I liked the well placed humour and wit. Also, it conveys some thoughtful messages. 

Today, I am in conversation with the author!



Welcome to my blog, Sudesna. My first question is somehow common but important. Why do you write? Do you believe that writing has changed you as a person?

Thank you, Tarang. I’m an introvert and bookworm who grew up with her nose in a book. I also wrote little short stories since my school days, so I guess I always loved being immersed in the world of books.

As someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, writing has given me a vast space to let out my thoughts and feelings. In fact, I become deeply connected to my characters and find happiness in another world. 

And when I write nonfiction, I find myself becoming more and more articulate about matters that are important to me including mental health and writing. Writing has made me a better thinker. Writing gives me company.



What's your take on writer's block? How do you deal with it?

I believe writer’s block exists. It’s terrible when your mind is bombarded with ideas and you can visualise it all but your fingers just won’t move. I usually take long walks and allow myself a break from writing and go on a reading spree instead. Reading good books always acts as inspiration and then the motivation to get back to my own manuscript.

You prefer writing short pieces ---short stories or novella. What do you like about writing short stories?

Some authors have told me that they think novellas aren’t books. Also, most publishers ask for a certain big word count to make printing costs worthwhile. I find many novels too long as if the author has lost a sense of plot and is just going on and on for the sake of increasing page count. If it gets too boring, I can’t finish it. So yes, I can’t write just for the sake of filling pages.

Secondly, there are a group of readers who like reading short works that they can finish in one sitting. 

I love writing short stories and novellas because even when I speak, I like to be to the point and not waste words when not needed :)

You are an avid reader. What kinds of books you like reading. What's the best book you have read in recent times?

Yes, I love reading. I read both paperbacks and e-books on my Kindle these days. My favourite genre is women’s fiction, followed by sweet romance. It’s hard to name one favourite so I’ll name two I enjoyed recently - The Little Village Christmas by Sue Moorcroft, Late Summer in the Vineyard by Jo Thomas.

Adding these to my TBR list! 

What would be your advice to new/aspiring writers?

Read a lot and write a lot. Write from the heart and you’ll find readers who can connect with you, no matter how small that number of readers is.

Well said!



Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Book Review: The Reason Is You by Nikita Singh




Name Of The Book
The Reason Is You
Author
Publisher
Genre
Romance
Number Of Pages
 229
 Price


I remember I had read Nikita Singh's first book some 7 years ago, and I was really impressed for she was probably the youngest published author. After that, I didn't read any of her books except one which was co-authored by Durjoy Datta. So technically, it's my second book by the author. Impressively, she has written some 13-14 books, but considering this very fact this book, to be very frank, disappointed me.

The Reason Is You is a love triangle. Later, I realized that it's the sequel to one of Nikita's book. However, it seems like a standalone book. 

Siddhant, a doctor, is dating Akriti {Also a doctor}. During their very first date, Akriti gets a terrible news that shatters her life. Siddhant tries to console her. Even visits her home to comfort her and never leaves her side. But, Akriti slips into depression and suddenly gets cranky, rude and unreasonable. 

And one fine day, when Siddhant and Akriti are officially a couple, Maahi enters their life ---Maahi, Siddhant's ex-girlfriend.

So what happens now? Is it going to affect their relationship? How is Akriti {Who is already battling depression} going to handle this? And what about Siddhant's feelings? You'll have to read this book to know the answer.

OK, I have already said that I was disappointed. Let me tell you why:

My biggest problem is storytelling. It's dull and somehow lazy. It seems that Nikita 'had to' write the book and she did. 

As I said it's a love triangle. I liked the Siddhant and Maahi angle, especially their text exchanges {I have this thing for texts or emails. I always like it in a story}. I liked the ease in their relationship even though they were not in a relationship anymore. This actually made me curious about the first part of the story. 

The female leads: I liked Maahi's character but Akriti's character was painfully annoying. I'm not sure if depression means being constantly rude, unreasonable, cranky and judgemental, while you're quite open to meeting friends, going out for lunch/dinner and partying. I am not an expert but I thought it was not a very thoughtful portrayal of depression/mental health.

The ending is satisfying though.

Overall, for me, it was an average read. If you like light reads, if romance is your most preferred genre {unconditionally}, then you can try this book. 


I received this book from Writersmelon {if you are a book lover or writer, you must follow this website} for an honest review.







Sunday, March 10, 2019

Book Review: Draupadi ---the tale of an empress by Saiswaroopa Iyer,




I've loved watching or listening to mythological tales since my childhood, but my interest in reading mythological fiction is rather new.

When it comes to mythology, I feel Mahabharata is very advanced, way ahead of its time. And, Draupadi one the strongest mythological characters. So, when I got the opportunity to review Draupadi by Saiswaroopa Iyer {Rupa Publications}, there was no reason to even think twice.

Draupadi by Saiswaroopa Iyer is a well researched, imaginative portrayal of Mahabharat from Uttara's point of view. Uttara tells the tale of Draupadi, the empress when Janamejaya {Uttara's grandson and Arjun's great grandson} wonders why some people judge and blame Draupadi for the Mahabharat War.

While reading the book, I actually forgot that it's Uttara who was telling the story. It was an engrossing read, yes! But when I finished the book I couldn't help wondering  how Uttara knew so much about Draupadi ---her childhood, her intimate moments with her husbands etc. It was actually Draupadi's PoV.

Anyway, I'd take it as creative liberty.

The story is imaginative, as I said earlier. And this is the strong point of any mythological fiction, for we already know the basic story.

Certain things are beautifully expressed, like I loved Draupadi's first meeting with Krishna. Their friendship, their conversation, the way they understand each other.

'Too brave for an intruder, aren't you?' Draupadi said.

'Or too sure that a friend will not be harmed for trying to meet one, where someone like you are in charge, Krishnaa.'

I loved the conversations with her son when she was leaving for the exile. I really liked the way her relationship with her husbands has been portrayed, especially with Bhima. And the moment when she meets Arjun ---the man who was supposed to be her only husband ---for the first time as his wife.

And I am glad the author has dedicated a chapter to Nakul and Draupadi. I liked it.

However, there are certain things that bothered me ----in my very personal opinion.

The author has avoided the unnecessary details, which was OK but I felt that sometimes the writing was 'to the point'. I missed the descriptions of settings and appearances that create vivid imagery.

And, I was looking forward to the Bhishm and Shikhandi encounter, but that ended quickly as a brief summary.

Also, when I read a book ---any genre ---I look for beautiful quotes {I often share them} but I missed that in this book. There are thoughtful dialogues, yes, but I didn't find any memorable ones. But, I am sharing the one I really liked.

'It takes a warrior to fight till the end. But it takes a true leader to convince people for a new beginning.'

Overall, it was a good, engrossing read. If you enjoy mythological fiction, you must read this one.


I received this book from the publisher for an honest review.




Monday, March 4, 2019

Book Review: The Adventures Of Biplob The Bumblebee by Abhishek Talwar






Name Of The Book
The Adventures Of Biplob The Bumblebee
Author
Abhishek Talwar
Illustrator
Sonal Goyal
Genre
Children’s Book {6+ years}
Publisher
Puffin Books
No. Of Pages
32
Price


Reading children's book is fun. Even more enjoyable when you buddy read with your kid. Isn't it? The new children's book on my bookshelf is about Biplob ---a bumblebee, its adventures in garden with its friends: Various flowers and Balram ---the farmer.

Biplob is kind, helpful, very innovative and everyone's favourite{Obviously}! The story is educative and insightful. Also, children can learn moral values through this story. 

What does this story teach?

We Should Help Others.
We Shouldn't Judge Others Without Knowing The Whole Truth
It's Great To Come Up With Interesting/Smart Ideas. So Think, Think. Think!
Plus Some General Knowledge About Plants and Other Things.

Interestingly, the story is not preachy. It's entertaining and joyful. 

Children's books are more interesting if they have beautiful and meaningful pictures, for pictures make children more attentive and interested. This book doesn't disappoint on this ground. The book is full of bright and beautiful illustrations. Not just beautiful, but the illustrations make it easier to understand certain things.



Overall, a lovely read!

I received this book from the publisher for an honest review






Saturday, February 23, 2019

Watercolor Painting: Sunshine and shadows

I have not painted anything in the last 4-5 days {for some unavoidable reason} except one that turned out bad. It happens when I am not totally engrossed. There's no quick painting for me. And I know there would be an obvious and expected hesitation in my brush strokes when I will sit down to paint. :)

I am a beginner and a self taught watercolourist. So I struggle to paint so many things at this stage including sunshine and shadows. I try to practice whenever I find any such reference photos. Sharing what I tried recently.



Reference Photo: Pinterest

How do you like it? Do you think I managed well? The sunshine and the shadows?

Also, I tried a skyscape, which I like ---the sky especially. It was inspired by Peter Sheeler's YouTube tutorial painting.


Also, I wanted to ask you something ---have you ever painted plein air? I find it very fascinating. Want to do it but I rarely go out or travel. How was your experience of painting plein air?


Sharing with Paint Party Friday



Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Couple Outside The Door


Photo by Mat Reding from Unsplash.com


What time is it? I can't figure out. Day or it's dark already? It doesn't look very bright. I faintly remember there was a party on the terrace of our building. I don't remember what I did there. I don't even like going to parties. But, if I remember about the party, it means I was there.

And who is this woman inside my house? Standing in front of me. I do not recognize her but it seems that she wants to say something. Right then, a sharp conversation attracts our attention. She turns to look at my main door and I am still wondering who she is.

Two people are talking right outside my door. A boy and a girl. Soon, the conversation turns into argument. Heated argument. I cannot comprehend what they are saying but it sounds like they are in a relationship, and the girl is demanding an explanation and the boy is unable to explain.

Now, they have started shouting. It really irritates me and I want to go and tell them to stop fighting, but it's their personal matter, you see. So, I'll just go and tell them to fight somewhere else. Right then, I hear a deafening sound, like someone has hit something with a heavy object. Again, again and again. The sound seems to be traveling to me, hitting my ears with painful ringing.

The door is slightly ajar and I look through the closed grill door. The boy is hitting the girl. The image is blurry but I, somehow, know he is hitting her. Suddenly, I wonder if the grill door is closed properly. I wonder if the boy has seen me. That I am the witness to his heinous act. A sense of fear grips me. I am about to approach the door when my eyes meet a pair of bloodshot eyes. The boy spots me looking at him. I feel like my shuddering heart has wedged itself in my throat.

The next thing I see that the boy, I do not recognize, is inside my house, his hands smeared with thick blood!

My eyes fly open, my heart still thundering.

Yes, you got it right! This was my dream two days ago. Considering the events I dream about these days, I should be writing crime thrillers. I will, someday. Hopefully. I have noted all my dream ideas, kind of a dream journal. Also, the unknown people I see in my dreams. Sigh!

Do you remember your dreams? Do you see unknown people in your dreams? Have you ever written any story that is inspired by your dreams? Please share, if yes. I'd love to read. I have written a story titled 'Not Without You' {that's inspired by one of my weird dreams}, published on Juggernaut reading app. Click the link, in case you want to read. It's short and free. :)