Writer Tools and Resource recommendations – Mockups and Adazing

Come November, there is a lot of excitement. It is #NaNoWriMo! It is the birth month of Kindle Direct Publishing. Coincidentally, it is the month where I plunged into the life of an author. Right! My first literary baby Abhaya shall celebrate her third birthday. To top it all, we were blessed with a gorgeous baby girl! Three years into author’s life and one year into motherhood feels like a lot of distance travelled. The joys and intrigues of motherhood aside, my #authorlife had no less excitement. Soon after the euphoria of publishing a new book, lay the challenge of marketing it. The task of continuously having to talk about it without sounding like a sleazy salesman was enough to give me a month long writers block!

It is during these phases that some tools and technologies made my life a tad easier.

Book Mock ups

Attaching the same old book cover every single time I made a social media post seemed boring to me and that in turn affected my frequency of posting it. I realised the importance of mockups, that is presenting your book against different backgrounds and formats, that ‘added a zing’ to the post!

You can see for yourself, the header picture of my site, a wonderful mockup of my third novel Mauri. There are many more that can be used in different posts and contexts! The job of marketing began to get a tad more interesting! Because I discovered Adazing.com

Adazing

Do visit the site for yourself and check out the whole basket of their offerings! 

It was with some hesitation that I spent that amount to buy a set of mockups for Mauri.

Something like this!

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And like this

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And the image I used to create a banner like this

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The ready pictures were mailed to me by team Adazing and the work on my part was to just pay and post!

Check out the book images product here

28 images for $12.75 does not sound like a bad idea at all. Instead of spending clueless hours that roll into days and weeks of being unproductive, spending a couple of dollars and being done with the nagging social posts sounds really wise!

Encouraged by the utility of the product, I was compelled to check out their other products too! Bought their course material on Author blog machine. 

I can’t recommend Adazing enough.   Go on, try one of their free offerings and take it from there.

Happy Marketing

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C for Community – Authors’ Tips – A to Z of Writing

This is my second blog post on a new series. A new series of blog posts titled “Authors’ Tips – A to Z of Writing” that aims to cover all aspects of writing. Authors Devika FernandoPreethi VenugopalaParomita GoswamiReet SinghRuchi SinghSudesna Ghosh and Adite Banerjie
Topics are chosen alphabetically and each of us strive to post a blog post a week. This post shall focus on the topic of writing through demanding times. Well isn’t life as a whole very demanding? Do read on and let me know your views!

Writing may be a solitary pilgrimage. But the life of a writer most certainly need not be. Being a part of writer communities, offline and online can have a tremendous effect on one’s motivation levels.

Here is how being a part of the writer fraternity can power your writing.

Authors on A-Z of Writing

Research and Learning

I write historical fiction. Very ancient historical fiction or Puranic fiction to be precise. My passion of reading source literature aside, there arise a hundred questions in my mind when I sit to reimagine an ancient event; questions like whether a particular technology existed during those times, whether this event could be placed in a specific time period, whether the characters had such and such leanings, whether the philosophy signalled makes sense and so on. Resolving these questions while saving myself from the proverbial research holes (where I start searching for a particular story of Adi Shankaracharya and four hours later, find myself reading about the French revolution with no memory of how my thought train travelled in such a bizzare direction!), requires the company of learned and well read people whose knowledge specialises in the said areas. I have a group of go-to people when I find myself unable to cross every third sentence and they are my saviours.

Emotional Support

Writing is an emotional journey. The intensity of this roller coaster only increases if one is writing a full length novel that encompasses the growth, trials, tribulations, victories, intrigues and odysseys of protagonists. Add to it, the emotional toll resulting from business questions like launch plan, cover design, pricing, reviews, etc! There are many moments where we ask ourselves – Why do we do this to ourselves? But we know that we can’t be without that journey! Who can understand this pain better than another writer? The emotional support that we gain from consoling, cheering, listening, ranting and sharing just can’t be replaced! You have to be a part of such a support group to actually experience the advantages.

Cumulative Social presence

If you have journeyed for a while as an author/writer, you would know the importance of an author platform, the reach you have when you stick out your neck and shout out about your book/blog/content. Imagine if 10 author friends shared the information about it to their respecting platforms! As a writer who gained loyal readers because of this cumulative promotion, I can’t recommend this enough. Just that it works only when you give as much as you take.

Fraternity

As I said, writing is a solitary journey, but making a career in writing is most definitely not. Introversion is a luxury we can’t afford if we dream of paying our bills from our writing income. We need shout outs, we need reviews and recommendations, we need introductions to agents, publishers and publicists, we need connections to other freelancers. In other words, we can never say who in this huge world we might need when. Being a part of author fraternities can make friends out of complete strangers, it can enhance your identity, your profile and add that zing to your very introduction. Fraternities survive by pulling each other through the next hurdle, helping each other break the ceilings, because there is nothing called as competition in the writing world. There is only Co-opetition! (As Joanna Penn says!)

Have you been a part of such author communities? Do share your experiences in the comments!

Also, please don’t forget to check out other posts in the C series by the awesome writers I listed at the beginning! 

C is For Cover Design by Sudesna Ghosh

Co-Authoring by Devika Fernando

Is your Writing Cliched? by Reet Singh

Conflicts, Character Sketch and Climax by Preethi Venugopala

How to improve your CRAFT by Adite Banerjie

 

B for Balancing work, life and writing – Authors’ Tips – A to Z of Writing

This is my first blog post on a new series. A new series of blog posts titled “Authors’ Tips – A to Z of Writing” that aims to cover all aspects of writing. Authors Devika FernandoPreethi VenugopalaParomita GoswamiReet SinghRuchi Singh, Sudesna Ghosh and Adite Banerjie
Topics are chosen alphabetically and each of us strive to post a blog post a week. This post shall focus on the topic of writing through demanding times. Well isn’t life as a whole very demanding?
Want to write that great story taking life in your heart, but you face obstacles. Obstacles that you can’t dare remove. Job, family, kids, friends, social commitments, the list can go on. Each of them having a reason or more to make you feel guilty of sidelining them if you ever do. The usual casualty of this tussle is that which is closest to your heart, that unwritten story or book. Tragic!
Authors on A-Z of Writing
It has happened to me. It still happens to me and I am done sure it will repeat in future. Not just to me, but to every aspiring, struggling and successful writer. Apart from tough will, only a robust process will help us break the never ending wait. That boils down to :
Accepting the reality. 
Even the most successful writers find it hard to allocate large chunks of disturbance free writing time. If not family and day jobs, they have marketing, partnerships and social obligations that fill their day. The only way we can start writing is by realising that a disturbance free writing day is a myth. We have to squeeze in smaller chunks of 15-25 minutes to push our manuscripts. Either by 50 or by 500 words. A friend who is a very successful author is also a highly placed official in the ministry of external affairs. The sheer amount of files that pass through her desk is mind boggling. She says she types her novel in those 5-10 minutes of respite she gets in between her busy paper work! Her strength? Her readiness to accept and embrace those mini/micro chunks of time and utilise it to fuel her passion of writing!
 
Focus on progress, not perfection
Human mind survives on feedback. It takes immense practice and will power to control that urge to seek feedback. Most of us aren’t looking to become a Yogi in the Himalayas, so we would be better off giving the mind what it needs. When you set to ‘perfect’, say your first chapter, the quest might be quite long, for your characters might not be anchored well enough and you keep getting ideas that might drive you on a rewriting spree. But when fatigue claims you, your overall progress would demotivate you. Hence, it is always better to focus on progress instead of perfection and get done with that Shitty first draft.
 
Grow out of device blocks
I am trudging ahead on the motherhood journey. The first couple of months were rather not so taxing on my writing. But as my baby got older, she took an immense interest in my laptop. The key she loves the most is ‘Delete’! You guessed it right. The time I get to sit with my laptop has considerably gone down. I resisted the idea of typing on my phone. But considering the amount of typing I do on Whatsapp and Twitter, I thought 500 words a day on phone itself isn’t an impossible thing to do. Hence I shifted from Word to Google docs, at least as far as my first drafts are concerned. Now, I can focus on that progress, thanks to multi device syncing! I can type as I watch over my little one sleeps, or as I can sneak a couple of mins in between cooking, or when travelling, and it goes on.
 
Negotiate, give,take
A friend was facing a problem with her spouse not encouraging her writing ‘enough’. She used to pour it out in our group over how she hardly gets time to do writing, The peer support advised her to start with negotiating a couple of hours a week to focus on writing and also support the husband in any of his hobbies. Thankfully she took that seriously and started the word count engine roaring. A couple of months down the line, her output impressed her husband so much that he no, religiously strives to give one full day a week to write, edit or do anything related to her business of writing. Giving the support system our time conveys that we take them seriously and showing constant progress on our own goals shows that we take ourselves seriously. Both are qualities that evoke respect. But it is important to realise that all can’t be done in a day. Your day and My day need to be understood and mutually respected. After all, this is a crucial step in relationship building, be it a spouse, a kid or a boss.
 
Wrapping it up
My first novel took me four years. The next one, close to a year and the third, about a month for the first draft!I wrote my fourth novel, typing and dictating not more than a couple of sentences at a time, sometimes typing with a single finger while nursing my baby, holding her in my other arm. Every time, it was a new learning experience. But getting rid of mental blocks we form s the first step to get past any challenge.
 
 

#AuthorpreneurSpeak – Guest post by Author Ruchi Singh

Today’s guest post for AuthorpreneurSpeak is by the very dynamic Ruchi Singh author of four best selling novels. She shares some of the wisdom that helped her scale the best selling lists.

“If you wish to be a writer, write.”

― Epictetus

Nothing can sum up the writing process as clinically as the statement above. But is it that simple?

At the outset writing sentence after sentence seems quite easy but writing a unique story, after story is a different ball game altogether. Typically what I have seen during five years in this field; people, who have been reading or are in love with words, think it’s a breeze, but believe me it gets tough as you struggle day after day for new ideas, inspirations, and motivation.

Am I trying to discourage anyone? The answer is ‘no’, instead I want everyone to get into the field with open eyes and mind. There will be moments of euphoria and dejection, frenzy and desperation, happiness and misery. It’s a virtual see-saw of every emotion in the spectrum.

So here I am with my two cents which I have gathered during my writing journey of nearly five years, observing my own writing patterns and fellow writers.

Set an aim

Setting a long-term goal or aim is of utmost importance. To set an aim one has to navigate through the maze of genres, mode of publishing, editors, designers, marketing etc. Setting of aim also includes knowing your target audience; age, gender, background etc

Learn your art

Whatever you decide to do, you should learn the nuts and bolts of the writing machinery, and how to fasten them together. For this one will need the necessary knowledge, skills and tools and support group around you to help you accomplish your goals. Let’s look at them individually;

  • Process: Write the first draft, improve and improve. Let it sit for a period of time then re-write. After that it is editing, editing, and editing.
  • Language: You should be proficient in the language you have decided to write. The grammar rules should be mastered. Some may say that correcting the language is a job of an editor. No, the editor’s job is not to rewrite your book, but to make the writing consistent, crisp and appealing, and at the end to point out the inadvertent mistakes which might have crept into the narrative.
  • Skills: Creative writing skills need to be honed. One should know different kind of voice, POVs, show and tell, dialogue and monologue, exposition, characterization etc. It’s a complete degree course in the universities, so don’t underestimate the subject.
  • Tools: These days there are various tools to aid a writer. Use them to optimize your time and effort. I am a big fan of Scrivener for plotting and organizing scenes etc. Then there is Aeon, which I have not explored much. Grammarly, Autocrit are good to catch language goof-ups.

Be creative

I, as a thumb rule, discard the first two ideas which come to my mind for any story, scene, character traits or plot, just to avoid commonplace ideas. One has to be creative with plot-line, characterization, and description to make the story a unique offering to the readers. Remember you have to bring them back for the next book.

Perseverance

This is the key to achieve anything in life. The first story is a wonder, the second one is a delight but the third and fourth and the one after that need sheer determination and zeal. At times you might not need the motivation to drive yourself, but most of the times you have to have a strong resolve to complete the work.

Learn marketing

Whether you are publishing through a publisher or self-publishing you have to promote your book. There is no escaping from marketing your book.

With the onset of online media, it is imperative to know both online as well as offline marketing. Social Media presence is very important in the age of the Internet; have a website/ blog, and Facebook page to showcase your work. Use Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to interact with your readers and build your brand.

Having said everything, it is imperative to state that; do enjoy your writing process. The thrill of getting a heart-felt review from a satisfied reader will diminish the pain of spilling the sweat and blood.

All the very best!

About the Author

Author of the bestselling romantic thriller ‘The Bodyguard’, Ruchi Singh is an IT professional turned novelist. Her other published novels are ‘Take 2’ and ‘Jugnu (Firefly)’. Winner of TOI Write India Season 1, Ruchi has also published a short story collection, ‘Hearts and Hots’, besides being a contributing author to many anthologies.

 

When two worlds collide – A #ReleaseDay post by Author Reet Singh

Ever wondered what would happen if two characters from your two favourite books meet? I do that all the time. Reet Singh, has gone a yard ahead and has written this lively conversation between two of her protagonists – Mita from ‘Take One Fake Fiancé’ meets Mohini from ‘No Escape from Love’.

Reet with lights

Reet is a doctor by profession and a successful novelist published by Harper Collins.She recently discovered the Indie world and has made quite an entry with her “No escape from Love.”

And today is the launch day of Take One Fake Fiance!

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Read the conversation below and Take your pick. I’d say pick both books of hers 🙂

‘Excuse me, but I think I know you from somewhere…’

‘Oh,’ Mita looks up from the Lehenga she’s admiring and shakes her head politely. ‘I don’t know – I would remember if we’d met before.’

She would – the girl standing to one side and gazing at her with perplexed curiosity has a face that would launch a thousand ships. Difficult to forget – and then there’s her hair – gorgeous and dark and cascading all the way to her waist.

The girl laughs, a deep, full-throated laugh, and it makes Mita smile in response. ‘What’s so funny?’ she asks, unable to take offense at the lovely creature. ‘I’m Mita, by the way.’

‘Mohini,’ the other girl says, and they shake hands awkwardly considering that Mita has a couple of lehengas in one hand and Mohini has a whole bunch of colorful silk outfits over an arm.

‘Sorry – I just remembered where I might have seen you – weren’t you at the Sheraton in Delhi last month?’

‘I was,’ Mita responds, piqued but still unable to place Mohini.

‘I was there, too, on my honeymoon,’ Mohini says, blushing sweetly. ‘You were having an argument with a rather dashing man about something if I remember correctly. We were passing by and we happened to overhear some of it…’

‘Oh lord, yes. I was forever at war with him – he was the most aggravating man I had ever met.’

‘We had the suite next to yours, incidentally, and your room happened to be on our way to the lifts. Aalok – that’s my husband – and I, we had no choice but to walk by your door.’

Mita grimaces. ‘Was I awful? I hope I didn’t scare you into asking for a change of room?’

‘No, no,’ Mohini giggles. ‘What’s interesting is that one minute you were mad and the next you were kissing him as if there was no tomorrow.’

‘Oh no! You saw that?’

‘Well, your door was wide open…and…’ Mohini frowns. ‘I hope you don’t mind me mentioning it.’

‘No, not at all,’ Mita grins. ‘If it’s any consolation to you, I’m now married to that man, although I loathed him then.’

‘Aw, how romantic.’

‘It is,’ Mita smiles. ‘Listen, Mohini, I’ve promised to join Tanay for a drink before dinner. Why don’t you join us? Bring your Aalok – we’d love to meet him.’

‘Sure. Does Pinkish the pub suit? We could be there at seven.’

‘Sounds good,’ Mita says. ‘Sounds very good.’

About the book

The Blurb

Mita Ramphul is single and fancy-free – and she wants to stay that way for the foreseeable future. Living and working on the idyllic island of Mauritius is the stuff dreams are made of – until she bumps into a man who threatens to destroy it all.

Tanay Devkumar is cynical and shuttered – events in his past have cast a long and deep shadow. Convinced that Mita Ramphul represents a threat to his sister’s happiness, he seeks her out, determined to block her nefarious plans.

They meet in circumstances that can only be described as hostile – suspicions abound and resentments flare on both sides, even as attraction simmers beneath the surface. A series of disastrous events follow and they are compelled to pretend that they are in love and wish to marry.

It is meant to be a temporary engagement – but will Mita be able to resist her fake fiancé or will his scorching kisses make her yearn for something more permanent?

Originally published as “Scorched by His Fire” by Harlequin India, 2014

Take One Fake Fiancé is a refurbished, revamped, remodelled, updated version of Scorched and is available on Kindle.

 

 

Spotlight : Crazy Cat Lady Finds Love by Sudesna Ghosh

Happy to present an excerpt from this hilarious novella, “Crazy Cat Lady Finds Love” by the Journalist turned author and friend, Sudesna (Sue) Ghosh! Having read Sue’s previous books, I am expecting another very lively read. 

Guess the below excerpt proves it!

Would Navin think I was pretty? Would he hold my hand? Maybe he would kiss me if we got some privacy?

“Too many questions, Sue,” I told myself, as the cab rolled on.

Navin sent me a text saying he would be at the café in 15 minutes. He added another text saying he couldn’t wait to meet me finally. Aww. Genuine excitement or was he being polite? I wasn’t the insecure kind but this online dating thing just filled relationships with so much mystery. Never tried it in my 20s.

The Crazy Cat Ladies Club group had three messages; one from each of the ladies, telling me to relax and give them details after he left. I wrote back asking Sunita to let us know about Vivek’s visit that night too. She replied: I will. Sigh.

Turning off my mobile data, I felt my stomach churn as we pulled up at my destination. There stood my date, dressed immaculately in a polo neck tee and dark jeans, feeding a street dog biscuits. The dog wagged his tail and Navin’s eyes said it all – he had the same look in them that I’d seen in my friends’ eyes when we were with animals. Love. It was pure, beautiful love.

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What Amazon readers are saying:

“The author has a wry observational voice that makes me chuckle every time I read her. The cats are cute too and the dude is extra cute! Five full stars.”

“Along with men trouble, dating issues, canine problems, and Cat man, Navin, this book makes the perfect satisfying read for pet lovers and others, alike. if you haven’t considered keeping a pet, you may be tempted to after reading this. very refreshing and a fun great read!”

Author bio

Sudesna or Sue, is a multi-genre author based in Kolkata, India. She has penned My Singapore Fling, A Perfect New York Christmas, Can a Fat Girl Get a First Kiss? and many other books. Her short stories have been published in magazines across India. When she isn’t reading or writing, you can find her trying to keep her rescue cats happy.

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Do grab your copy from Amazon

A day on top and looking back at past decisions.

“Find something that you really are passionate about, Sai.”

Sateesh’s words ring in my ears. My (former) boss had figured out before I could, that m job wasn’t making me happy. I used to work in a Venture Capital firm and the job did have all elements to motivate a professional. So his words came as a surprise to me. I did have a passion. Passion for the stories of ancient Indian past, those from the Vedas, Puranas and the itihasas. I thought that had no chances of becoming a commercial success. I was already struggling with an earlier draft of Abhaya which, at that point of time, was headed nowhere with the traditional publishers (Little did I know that I would be thanking my stars for the same!). I never spoke much about this passion of mine with my boss, but his words implied that the commercials have a way of working out when we take the plunge. Four years years down the line, I realised how true it is!

About a year after that conversation, destiny took me to London and it was not possible for me, as a short term immigrant, to find a similar job. I decided to take the plunge. I decided to believe in myself. I decided to believe more, in the story that chose me as its bard. A voice within told me not to subject my final draft to an indefinite wait loop of the traditional publishing. The voice won. I am glad it did! I Self Published my first novel, learning every bit of the process on the fly, from engaging an editor and a cover designer to learning marketing hands on.

Abhaya, my first novel, not only gave me the feeling of self fulfilment of telling the story closest to my heart, but also paved the way for a journey of learning, of resilience and of pursuing this dream of a full fledged writing career. After an intense year of learning about various aspects of the business of book, publishing and writing, I managed to complete the first draft of my second novel Avishi.

Avishi gave me a different experience. It saw me transit from an author to an authorpreneur. From planning a full fledged book launch to liaising with  bloggers, reviewers and social media influencers, from diversifying my network presences to giving talks, online and offline, pursuing my passion as a profession taught me to be a true professional. To Write. To Publish. To Sell. And To Repeat.

Perhaps the universe wanted to show me that it is behind me, Avishi topped the charts in the formidable Myths, Legends and Sagas category for a day!

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Discount promotions by Amazon had happened in the past but never did I witness this kind of a peak. Avishi also got to touch an over all rank of #19 in the Kindle Paid store. Quoting Steven Pressfield, I felt that my journey from being an amateur to a Pro had turned a corner.

That’s what staying true to one’s heart can do. Do you have stories of experiencing that bloom within when you followed your heart? Do share in the comments.