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

#AuthorpreneurSpeak – How to Be a Guerrilla Authorpreneur by Adite Banerjie #MondayMotivation #Guestpost

For the third installment of #AuthorpreneurSpeak, I am delighted to publish the guest post by the very knowledgeable Adite Banerjie. Having seen the traditional publishing side of the ecosystem from close quarters, Adite recently turned to Indie publishing. Read on to learn from her experiences. 

There has been a tectonic shift in the publishing world in the last ten years. Getting a book contract from a traditional publisher is no longer the only way to see your name on the cover of your novel. The role of the publisher and/or agent who stand guard as gatekeepers to the publishing world has diminished. Suddenly, it is possible for writers to go directly to readers as long as there is a digital platform on which they can make their work available.

The rise of Amazon and its self-publishing platform (KDP Select) has been a game-changer in the slow-paced world of publishing. It has empowered writers by turning them into self-publishers and marketers of their own books. Speed to market which was once a term that was never attributed to book marketing has become the mantra for writers who have donned a new avatar—as entrepreneurs. Or, more accurately, authorpreneurs.

However, the word ‘authorpreneur’ is not mere jargon. It entails a shift in mindset. It   means that as a writer one is willing to dive into the business side of writing. For decades, writers have convinced themselves—and publishers have propagated this myth—that as a creative person one shouldn’t be getting his or her hands dirty in the business side of writing. But by accepting this argument the writer is signing away the right to take decisions on her own work.

Authorpreneurship offers writers the opportunity to make a call on issues that they have never had a say on—including pricing of books, cover design, marketing and more. But to be an effective authorpreneur a writer has to be willing to take the risk, change gears when required and constantly upgrade herself on the business side of writing.

Most importantly, while learning the new skills of authorpreneurship, a writer cannot forget that her book is the centrepiece around which all her strategies will revolve. So, make sure that the book is worthy enough of being professionally published.

As a newly minted authorpreneur myself, I have been keenly observing the traits of successful self-published authors. As a novice in this game I’ve realized that I need to operate more as a guerrilla authorpreneur to survive in this very competitive arena—and developing some of the following traits would be extremely beneficial.

Be creative: That’s the hallmark of a writer. But the authorpreneur needs to extend her creativity beyond writing and into marketing activities as well. Selecting an appealing cover design or communicating with readers and followers on social media platforms in a creative manner will make her efforts as an authorpreneur stand out.

Dedication: An authorpreneur is dedicated to her publishing timeline. She does not have the luxury of writing as and when the muse strikes. Time management needs to be an essential tool in the authorpreneur’s toolkit. Setting aside time for writing, marketing and online communication have to be factored into her daily schedule.

Learning and experimentation: To grow as an authorpreneur upgrading one’s skillsets is essential. One needs to keep learning from fellow self-publishers and the plethora of online resources that are available freely. But just because some tools have worked for one authorpreneur, there is no guarantee that it will work for another. While experimenting, exercising caution is important and instead of spending a bunch of money—say on a Facebook ad—it would be best to spend small amounts and keep a record of the impact. Every investment has a risk attached to it and being prepared for it is the best way forward.

Reining in expectations: It’s best to be conservative when it comes to estimating earnings from self-publishing ventures. As an authorpreneur’s backlist grows and her skills keep pace, her hard work and dedication are bound to pay off.

Self-Publishing is the way to go if a writer wants control over her creative work. Besides being a very empowering process, it can also be a lot of fun.

Happy Authorpreneuring! 🙂

After five years of being traditionally published, Adite Banerjie has chosen to become an authorpreneur. You can find her books on Amazon. Also connect with her via her website and Facebook Page

 

#AuthorpreneurSpeak – “Living the dream” by Devika Fernando #Motivation

After last week’s featuring of Sudesna Ghosh’s “Becoming an authorpreneur, we have Devika Fernando, an entrepreneur, a writer and a wonderful individual, candidly sharing how she got to live her dream. Read on.

For me, words always held magic. I grew up being read to every day, then quickly moved on to reading even before I ‘officially’ learned reading and writing at school. My love with reading led to a love for writing at an early age. I remember writing my first (very) short poems and short stories when I was seven years old. But then life happened. Studies and growing up as well as the realities of moving and taking on responsibilities got in the way of writing, although I never stopped being a voracious reader.

In my late teenage years, I read my first books by Anne Rice and then devoured all the Vampire Chronicles novels. It was then that I truly said for the first time that “I want to be a writer”. But it was a somewhat vague concept, overshadowed by the fact that it all seemed nearly impossible. It remained a dream for many years during which I kept jotting down story ideas, poems and stories, now in English more than in German because I began to read more and more books in English.

Fast forward to 2013, when I finally decided to make my dream reality and turn a hobby into a job. I stumbled upon the concept of self-publishing online and suddenly it seemed as if a new world had opened up, full of possibilities (and challenges). What had always just been a fantasy vaguely associated with rejections and final fame or a lonely existence and failure was now something that could be approached like a freelance job. And I vowed: I wouldn’t “dabble” in writing or take anything for granted. I would try to make the most of the opportunities and become an authorpreneur.

A common definition for authorpreneur is an author who also acts like an entrepreneur. That basically means you don’t simply write a book but also promote it actively, work with certain tools of the trade and create your own brand. The last part is one of the most important aspects and something an authorpreneur should never lose focus of. It’s not merely about the books, it’s what is associated with the writing and the author. Authorpreneurs need to find their USP and build their author platform on it – whether they specialize in short and hot reads, a certain type of paranormal topics, forbidden romances, a certain language style or something similar like my multicultural romances set in different countries. Part of the author brand are covers, website, social media appearances and promotional methods.

All this can make it difficult to not forget the actual writing, so what I try is to take this as seriously as possible and allocate time to all aspects. I’ll start in the morning by checking my social media accounts and e-mails as well as my book sales and any promotional campaigns that might be running. Then throughout the day – to make use of different time zones – I keep interacting, posting and promoting. I also make sure I write a certain amount of words per day, preferably a complete scene or even a chapter. I don’t permit myself to seek excuses. To me, there is no “writer’s block” or “my muse has gone silent”. I’m the driving force and this is my responsibility on which my success depends. That is, in my opinion, one of the biggest challenges of doing this and also the main aspect that separates an authorpreneur from an author.

I consider myself lucky that I have been able to make a dream come true and that I have the means to be an author, so I make sure I live up to it. A doctor doesn’t refrain from operating because they lack “inspiration”. A teacher doesn’t earn their salary by letting things rest and hoping for a miracle. Likewise, an authorpreneur doesn’t rely on luck and should – in my humble opinion – bring more than creativity to the business.

Do check out the books authored by Devika here.

#AuthorpreneurSpeak Becoming an Authorpreneur – Guestpost by Sudesna Ghosh #MondayMotivation

From today on wards, you shall read a guest post by a successful Author Entrepreneur on my blog, every Monday. I am excited to present the highly talented multi genre writer Sudesna (Sue) Ghosh.

I grew up wanting to be a writer. From writing and sharing my short stories in elementary school to writing short stories for newspapers and magazines in my adulthood, I was always sure about what I wanted to do. The trouble is, the idea of being a writer is a romantic one until you start taking it seriously. Until you start learning about what it entails to be a writer, you dream about writing novels in coffee shops, becoming famous like Rowling and earning millions with your first book. Cut to reality and then you find out how unglamorous and sometimes, non-rewarding the writer’s life can be. In fact, writing is the best reward that you can get as a writer. Writing from your heart and soul – without giving a damn about all those dreams you had before. Instead, the happiest writers are those of us who stay immersed in the satisfaction of writing
what nourishes us. Of course it’s nice to get appreciation but you shouldn’t depend too much on that.

When I was leaving my full-time job at a major newspaper, colleagues warned me about the stupidity of leaving without a full-time job offer in my hands. I told them that I would be writing full time but from home. As a freelancer. “But X and Y left the job saying that they would write a book too and they never did,” one of them said. Well, I told her that I was not X or Y and quite stubborn about doing what I wanted to do. So I spoke with confidence and left with a couple of freelance clients to help me stay afloat.

That was early 2012. In 2013, I did a little networking as freelancers must do at all times and was introduced to the then head of publishing at Harlequin India. Nonfiction writing came easily to me as an ex-journalist and features writer but I had never thought that my first book would be nonfiction. The second book too. But that’s how I got started in the world of publishing, sending sample chapters and proposals and being commissioned to write two books for the publisher.

Two books down the line, I realised many things that drove me toward the path of authorpreneurship. First, that traditional publishing took time – publishers took at least 1 and half years to publish an approved manuscript because there’s just too many books slotted every month. Second, the advance royalty payment was not going to keep my bank balance happy for long. And finally, I wanted to write in various genres and in multiple lengths including short stories which aren’t that easy to get published with a traditional publisher. No, I needed another way to get my writing out there and to get paid for it too.

That’s when I started doing daily research on self publishing and found out the importance of cover design, editing and promotion. Promotion or book marketing, has been an eye opening experience. I have read so many books and articles on the subject and have become addicted to it in a way. Social media marketing is a skill that we indie authors NEED. There is a large audience to tap into and there are ways to make it less time consuming by using scheduling software or even hiring an assistant if you can afford it. In May, I took a Google online course and received a certificate in Online Marketing Fundamentals just because I now know that good online marketing can make or break a book. Or your author brand for that matter.

These days I do live a part of the dream by writing in a coffee shop three days a week. But I also spend a couple of hours a day on social media platforms where I engage with my readers and other writers. Once a week, I make posts using software such as Canva to keep them ready for social media posts. My blog has been online since 2011 but I started taking it seriously only last year after I became an authorpreneur, so I update that twice a week. Keeping my audience interested and attracting more readers is the key to an authorpreneur’s success. Writing the book is just a small part of it.

I identify as an authorpreneur and not just an author because I treat my job as a small business. That involves being disciplined enough to write multiple books during the year, not take breaks from social media promotion, engaging online and offline with readers and other authors all year round, and keeping track of expenses (cover, editing etc) along with monthly income from royalty, freelance articles and speaking engagements/workshops. It’s a lot of work but so worth it as any authorpreneur will tell you!

Hope you loved the post as much as I did! Don’t forget to check out more of Sue’s writings on Amazon and her very insightful and engaging blog.

Complete the draft – Silencing the inner critic (for now) #Writerslife #Productivity

Whenever anyone tells me that s/he is an aspiring writer, the first thing I tell them is to get rid of the word ‘aspiring’. I tell them to sprint through the first draft of whatever has sprouted from the creative depths of their minds. Often, they tell me that they aren’t able to complete the first draft and a sizeable proportion of these aspiring writers are victims of their own inner critic.

Now, this inner critic is a result of two contradicting drivers. Fear and Aspiration.

Fear

“My writing is not good enough.”

“People would laugh at me!”

“I myself would not read what I write!”

“I hate my own writing.”

Aspiration

“I can do better than this. I must do better than this.”

“I shall settle with nothing less than perfect.”

“I shall not stop till I make this the best written piece.”

You would have realised by now, that these two contradicting forces drag your creative self in two opposing directions and as a result, you stay where you are. And you risk staying there forever! If you don’t tell your inner critic to go an a vacation. I say vacation because we would need him back in the editing phases of the draft. But as far as writing the first draft is concerned, he has to observe silence.

Completing the first draft is largely about Momentum. The Creative self hates inertia. She hates stagnation. She is this dynamic being which needs to be on the move. She survives on that. Measure it in terms of word count or chapter count or just the progress of the story, but you can’t stop. You just can’t stop if the reason is this nagging need to perfect the draft till date. The creative self is all about progress, not perfection. As Susan Kaye Quinn candidly puts in, there is nothing called perfect. There is only finished. You can hone your imperfect first draft. But there is little you can do about an unwritten draft.

If you end today at the same point where you ended yesterday, you might or might not satisfy the inner critic, but you shall definitely fail the inner muse. As an aspiring writer who genuinely wants to get rid of that annoying prefix, you cannot afford to fail your muse.

The muse and the critic are like those members of the same family who can’t stand each other. As someone who needs them both, you need to take control and delegate their tasks. Importantly, you need to stop them from interfering with each other.

Let me give an example. I am a new mother and my baby is a perfect example. She is trying to stand with support right now and it is a matter of weeks before she would start walking. When she puts her first steps, all I want from her is to take her next step without losing her balance. What would you call me if I cribbed to you about her wobbly posture, unsteady gait and body language on the day she puts her first steps?

While writing Abhaya’s final draft, I was bitten this perfection bug which made me hover around the beginning chapters for no less than a year and a half! Progress happened when i did these things:

  1. Convinced myself that I would self edit the whole thing only after a whole draft is done.
  2. Plotted the story roughly and pursued the smoothest thread that kept my momentum up
  3. Set a hard deadline for the draft, and for the publishing date.

The rest as they say, is history. But I am glad that I could delegate it between my inner creative self and inner critic well enough to travel through three published novels and a whole draft submitted to the publisher.

What was your story behind sprinting through your first draft? Share in the comments.

 

Networking for writers. The company to keep. #Writerslife

Any writer would emphatically agree that writing is a solitary journey. But socialising with those on the same path is always a pleasure. Or is it? Well, at the risk of sounding super clicked, the answer is “It depends.”

But it does pay to be a part of a network that adds value to it’s members. That happens only if a considerable no of writer members believe in symbiotic connections over parasitical ones. From my experience of three years of author life, here are the networks that worked for me. When I say worked for me, I mean the ones which pulled me out of the snags I faced.

  1. Local meetups where there are at least 30% of writers who are published.
  2. Closely knit peer support groups who almost unconditionally support each other (The kind where you can ask any question and not feel stupid, celebrate each other’s progress, cheer each other, most importantly, give each other a push on the social media and other platforms). I am a part of one such a group called MyNoWriMo and we are practically ‘brothers at arms’, oops, ‘sisters in pens’. The key to successful groups like these is the mutual reciprocity.
  3. Facebook groups with a specific aim or positioning run by dedicated moderators. (“Writer mom’s” “5AMWriterclub”, FWBA etc). One such group, “Writer Mom Life” had a “Write every day” challenge running and it helped me sprint through the crucial part of my first draft. Often, these groups help members overcome specific challenges.
  4. Local charters of professional global networks. – Usually global networks have certain goals and the local charters have passionate leaders who want to make their charter shine through. ( I found the London charter of ALLi quite focussed. We would meet each month and share what we did each month, our discoveries, brainwaves, blocks and snags included).
  5. Culture/Ideology focused groups – I belong to this network called Indic Author network where most of us write stuff echoing the pathos and ethos of Indic civilisation. We have had invaluable sessions, socialised over various courses, have been gifted master courses and what not! The wavelength match too helps. And I got lucky with a celebrity endorsement too!
Now for the networks to avoid (On second thoughts, you may linger for entertainment and have some break time laughs)
  1. Rant groups – Sorry I could not find a better word here. But I refer to the umpteen number of these groups claiming to represent the underrepresented writers. I made the huge mistake of attending one gathering of a network supposedly supporting writers of color. For all the tall claims of inclusiveness, only one community was dominating. Adding to that, the programmes were full of ranting and had nothing of craft or business. Waste of a day.
  2. Large online writers groups with no specific aim. I am a part of one such group where every other day, there is a rant against Indie authors and best selling authors by literary snobs who have a lot of time to post rants but little or no time to share a good piece of advice. If you have a thick skin, these groups have some good entertainment value.
  3. Vanity groups – They charge you money just to let you in. And it is no mean amount. Lots of unrealistic promises are made and you end up losing money, time and motivation. While the above two have some value, this one is to be avoided at ALL costs.

What kind of networks have helped you, motivated you and keep you company in this solitary pilgrimage? Share in the comments

Book Release Post. PI Agency by Neelabh Pratap Singh

Wishing all the best to friend and author Neelabh Pratap Singh upon the release of his second novel, PI Agency.

I love reading crime thrillers with female detectives or investigators. The cover seems intriguing!

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BLURB

A LADY DETECTIVE. A CLANDESTINE CARTEL. A CROOKED BATTLE.

Rashmi Purohit is a failed CBI aspirant. With no future in Indian law enforcement, she turned to working alongside the law. Now running her own agency out of her claustrophobic basement, Rashmi is dying for a notable case and a big break.

A wealthy entrepreneur with a troubled, drug-addicted son seems like the perfect client. But when Rashmi and her impetuous, barely-competent employees stumble into a Dark Web-based investment conspiracy, the detective knows she has kicked a hornet’s nest. Rashmi might just solve the case – but only if it doesn’t kill her, destroy her agency, or make her betray her father’s legacy one last time.

Here is an excerpt from the book.

For the fourth time, Rashmi Purohit called her subordinate, Akshay, but much to her disdain, he didn’t pick up the call.

Where the fuck have these idiots gone? Rashmi thought, throwing the mobile phone on the table. She checked the time on the table clock kept to her right. Bhupender Bhatia might come at any time.

A moment later, Rashmi heard a beep sound. The alarm beeped whenever anyone opened the office’s main door. She quickly glanced at the CCTV monitor. Bhatia is here.

A few weeks ago, a girl named Priya had hired Rashmi to inquire about her boyfriend, with whom she was planning a wedding. Priya suspected that her boyfriend was involved in an affair. She shared a screenshot of WhatsApp chats sent to her by another girl—her boyfriend’s colleague—with whom Priya’s boyfriend appeared to be cheating. The chats clearly showed her boyfriend having romantic talks with his colleague, and she’d sought Rashmi’s help to provide evidence. Rashmi shadowed the guy for a few weeks and concluded the case. Before she contacted Priya, she had dropped a message with the guy’s father, Bhupender Bhatia.

Bhatia stormed into the office.

“Ms Purohit, what a pathetic joke is this?” Bhatia said, his right hand stretched forward holding his mobile phone. The mobile phone showed Rashmi’s message, which she had sent a few hours ago.

Rashmi observed Bhatia’s hand trembling. He is afraid, Rashmi thought. “The truth, Mr. Bhatia.”

“You think it was I who had planned everything?” Bhatia clenched his teeth, putting his mobile phone back inside his pocket.

Rashmi noticed Bhatia’s balled fist inside his pocket. He was standing still, his shoulders raised. Okay, so you want some action. Rashmi tied her hair behind her neck into a ponytail. “Apparently, yes. I didn’t tell anything to your son or his girlfriend, Priya. I called you here to advise you to get things sorted between your son and his love, and I will not tell anyone anything.”

“What do you mean you won’t tell anyone anything? As if you would be in a position to tell anyone anything.” Bhatia swung his fist.

Rashmi jerked back sharply. I was expecting it.

“Long ago, when I was not the head of a transport company,” Bhatia growled, “I rumbled with ten men. You don’t stand a chance, ladki.”

She’d marginally escaped the first blow, but she wasn’t quick enough to dodge the second one. Her mind blacked out for a moment, and she began to fall. She held the edge of the table. She heard her phone ringing. The name displayed ‘Akshay Arora’.

The phone ring distracted Bhatia for a moment, and Rashmi noticed that. She grabbed the table clock and threw it at Bhatia. She tapped on the call accept button on the mobile phone and put it on the loudspeaker. “Arora, where the hell are you guys?”

“Boss, we are out for golgappas,” Akshay’s electronic voice radiated out of the mobile phone’s loudspeaker.

Rashmi had deliberately picked the call and put the call on loudspeaker. She hoped that it would distract Bhatia, and was also optimistic that Bhatia might stop after hearing someone else’s voice.

But only the former happened. A table clock wasn’t enough to hurt Bhatia, let alone stopping him.

Bhatia looked down at the fallen table clock and smirked. “What are you going to do next? Attack me with a toy?”

“Arora, I want you here in two minutes, or else I’ll pull off your golgappas,” Rashmi swore as she picked up a rolling chair and threw it at Bhatia.

Bhatia tried to duck, but the chair hit him anyway.

“Oh, the toy seemed to hit you quite hard.”

Bhatia looked even more furious now. He approached Rashmi, swinging alternatively and aggressively, like a maniac.

Rashmi blocked every blow with her forearms. Enough of the self-defence, Rashmi thought. She lifted her right leg and struck it sharply against the left side of Bhatia’s ribcage. Bhatia bent down a little, crying in pain. Without putting her right leg on to the ground, Rashmi repeated the action, but this time, against Bhatia’s left thigh. Bhatia collapsed on the floor like a demolished building.

Rashmi caught her breath for a while and watched Bhatia lying crumpled on the floor. “I was just respecting your age, uncle,” Rashmi said, finally punching Bhatia’s face.

Intrigued? I am reading the book and it sure promises to be a great read to all detective fiction lovers. Buy your copy from Amazon

ABOUT AUTHOR

Neelabh Pratap Singh is a mechanical engineer by profession and works with the premium British motorcycle manufacturer, Triumph Motorcycles. Apart from being surrounded by superbikes, he keeps himself surrounded with books. He is an avid reader and a passionate storyteller. He started writing as a blogger, writing short stories for various platforms. His passion for storytelling led him to take up the gargantuan task of writing a full-fledged novel. The Resurrection of Evil is his debut book. He lives in Gurgaon with his wife.

Connect with the author:

Email: neelabhpratap.singh@gmail.com

Facebook: /authorneelabh

Twitter: @authorneelabh

Instagram: @authorneelabh

 

How I wrote 100,000 words within seven months of delivering my first born #Productivity #Writerslife

I still remember that numb mixture of joy and uncertainty that enveloped me as I stared at the life changing double line on the pregnancy test kit.

I was going to become a mother!

The long wait for this to happen and the celebration of the news is for another blog post. Along with the exhilaration that followed, there was a voice with in which said I just had 9 months to get as much writing done as I could. Come motherhood, the early phases demand that everything else be kept on back burners (rather pushed off the stove for a while!). Not writing makes me miserable. But I could also not bear the thought of being that selfish mother who neglects her infant for her ‘passion’. At the same time, I was not sure how much justice I could do to this bundle of joy, when the thought of being unable to write gnawed at me from within.

Come the big day and the months that followed, I surprised myself.

  • I edited and published Mauri, a manuscript I had worked upon during my pregnancy. Effectively added more than 15,000 words in the process. (Editor, Vrinda deserves a shout out for the quick turn around)

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  • I wrote the first draft of Draupadi and submitted it to the publisher. A 79,000 word long output after a quick round of self editing
  • I edited and published another manuscript under a pen name, effectively launching the pen name too. Had worked on this last year. Editing phase added another 4000 words.
  • I started upon a new project, implementing an alternate history idea on Ramayana. The manuscript is young and has crossed 2,500 words last Thursday.

Without counting the couple of blog posts, That puts my output past 100,000 words after the big day! In less than seven months. Now that I have gloated enough, let me come to the how part of it.

How did I do it?

100,000 words in 180 days (Removing a month considering the neonatal fortnight and the big move from London to India), the average daily output is about 555 words. Suddenly it does not look like an impossible thing. Of course, creativity muse is not always subservient to a daily routine. Realistically, there were many zero output days and some high spike days, the highest daily output being about 4500 words. That said, a daily writing routine is the biggest factor that keeps you on track, though you don’t need to beat yourself up for some missed days. Other crucial factors were

  • A supportive family – My mother who is even more passionate to see me write my way to success was the crucial pillar of support. The growing baby posed no mean challenge, but with her multi tasking skills assuming their best form, she gave me the much needed breaks to write and also participated in the critiquing process for most of the drafts. My father’s support was no less. I could not have done it without them.
  • Following an outlining process – Plotting and outlining gives me a level of confidence. A feeling that the battle is half won. I spend a good couple of days thinking about the whole plot. It also helps me pin point the blind spots and invest more of story-dreaming time on those areas. Plotting also helps in setting the agenda for each writing session. You can read more about my outlining process here
  • Understanding that momentum is everything – Given that the large chunk of my writing was about the first draft, it was important to take advantage of the momentum and get the draft done ASAP than about honing each scene or chapter. The self critic within me needed to be sent for a long vacation. I could not work with her if I had to complete the draft within the submission date. The last 25-30K words of the draft were done in a span of ten days and momentum was everything before I could afford the luxury of listening to the critic within me. Save the inner critic for the self edit phases.
  • Pomodoro Sessions – For the uninitiated, this is a productivity session where a professional engages in a single task without breaks or task switches for 25 minutes followed by a mandatory break of 5 minutes. Two Pomodoro sessions a day worked a great deal in keeping the momentum.
  • Support groups – I am a part of two groups, one a closed Whatsapp group of ten women writers. We would share our daily word count, cheer each other, share any writing related problems, back each other up with any quick fixes and much more. We had grouped together around last year and have travelled through many manuscripts together cumulatively. Pomodoro idea was suggested to me by Preethi Venugopala from this group.  The second group is a Facebook group called Writer Mom life. The members are all mothers who are writers. I met many who were facing more challenging phases of their lives and my own challenge seemed negligible. Emotional support groups go a long way in keeping you on track. They consist of members who exactly know what each other passes through and offer empathy. Something that a friend or a family member cannot provide even if they wanted to.
  • Reading relevant books – I utilised my feeding time in reading books on Focus, productivity, business and craft of writing. It is easy to dismiss these as old wine in new bottles. But while chasing deadlines and goals, packaging the known ‘wine’ comes in handy, be it in retaining motivation or in putting things in perspective.

That sums it up, my journey in writing through this exciting phase. How do you manage to keep up your productivity through tough phases? Would be delighted to read your stories in comments.

 

 

 

Spotlight : The Princess and the Superstar by Preethi Venugopala

Wishing my friend and author Preethi Venugopala, the best upon the release of the second book of her Sravanapura Royals series. The first book, A Royal Affair had ruled the bestseller lists upon its release and true to her unique style and voice, the new book has also claimed its rightful place among the romance bestsellers in multiple markets!

Really delighted and proud to be spotlighting the blurb and excerpt of the book below:

A Princess in love with a Bollywood Superstar

Saketh Rao aka SR, India’s latest Bollywood heartthrob, has bagged the role of a lifetime: to play Hari Varman, the doomed royal scion.

When he arrives at Sravanapura Palace with his director friend Rajeev Ratnam, little does he know that his life is about to change forever!

Princess Kritika is overjoyed that Saketh Rao will play the role of her ancestor. But when she comes face to face with the arrogant superstar she is determined to scuttle the project.

Fate, however, has different plans for them. The feisty couple is soon head over heels in love with each other.

As they uncover the secrets of Hari Varman’s life, Saketh makes a discovery that can rip them apart and their new-found love.

Will the secrets and lies of the past deny them a future together? Or will they overcome the obstacles to true love?

Get the book from Amazon by clicking here

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Excerpt

Kritika checked the time. It was nearing seven thirty. She was a bit late than usual. But she still had plenty of time to pamper herself and get ready to meet the superstar, who seemed to have won hearts all over the world if she were to believe the fan videos posted on YouTube and various blogs. Yes, she had shamelessly checked the many YouTube videos about him to know more about him. It seemed perfectly normal to stalk his Twitter and Facebook page. He had come across as a friendly and warm person who retweeted his fans often and replied to interesting comments on his FB Page.

She knew half of his persona online was created by his PR team. His social media profiles might be maintained by dedicated teams who would present only the best aspects about him to the public. The real Saketh Rao might turn out to be a total jerk. Yet, she was looking forward to meeting the star in person and decide for herself.

When she stepped on to the road that led to the residential wing of the palace, she was surprised to hear the horn of a car. She whirled around and watched as a silver Mercedes Benz came around a bend in the road and raced towards her.

Vijay had renovated a number of unused rooms in the palace and turned them into luxury hotel suites, thus creating one more gem in his hotel business chain. The only snag in the entire setup was that guests often sneaked into the palace’s residential areas, even though they were marked as no entry zones and had to be turned away by the palace guards. And it irked her very much. She wondered how this car had escaped the scrutiny of the guards. She needed to talk with the head of security. But for now, she would tackle this herself.

She gripped the straps of her backpack and stood in the middle of the road facing the car that seemed to have no intention of slowing down. It came to halt at a mere metre in front of her and she heard the driver swear. She narrowed her eyes and continued to stare at the car, daring the occupants to come out and face her. The passenger door of the car opened and a handsome youth, who looked as though he was jet-lagged and badly in need of a leisurely bath and sleep, got out. He seemed vaguely familiar, but she couldn’t place him immediately.

“Please, miss. May I know why you are blocking our path?” he asked, his mellow tone bringing Kritika’s anger a few notches down.

“This road leads to the residential areas of the palace and is not accessible for guests at the hotel. Kindly turn around and go away.”

“But miss-”

“Enough, no need to explain.” Kritika raised her right hand to stop him from talking any further and snapped at him. The fact that he was trying to justify his action, brought her anger back.

“But we are-”

“As I said, I don’t want to hear any further explanation. Instruct your driver to reverse the car and get the hell out of here.”

The driver of the car opened his door and got out. Kritika’s jaw dropped and her mouth formed an O because she recognised the driver instantly. Saketh Rao, clean shaven, casually attired in a t-shirt and jeans, all six feet two inches of male glory. He removed his sunglasses and walked towards her, his lips curved into his characteristic lopsided smile. He was clearly enjoying her distress. And then the last piece of the puzzle fell into place when she recognised the handsome youth with him as Rajeev Ratnam. Kritika felt her heart racing. If Saketh came near her now, her excited heart would undergo a heart attack.

“Who are you to block our path? We have the adequate permission papers and we were let in by the guards. Move your heavy butt out of our way and allow us to pass.”

His arrogant talk snapped Kritika out of the trance she was falling into. The arrogant snob.

And he had made a personal comment. About her butt!

“Mr! Watch your language.”

“Are you going to get in? Why are you listening to this annoying, attention seeking female?” Saketh was ignoring her outright and addressing his friend.

“How dare you?” Kritika took a step forward and slapped him. He stopped her hand in mid-air and in one swift move, yanked her towards him, momentarily taking the wind out of her lungs.

When she attempted to step back, he tightened his grip on her arm and held her other arm with his right hand. His nearness was doing strange things to her composure. His touch was making her heart stutter, sending electric impulses rushing through her body.

If it was not for the revulsion he had evoked with his arrogance, she certainly would have enjoyed the sensation of being held by him. But now, she regretted the hours she had spent browsing the internet to know more about him. As she had feared, he had turned out to be an outright jerk. She didn’t want to waste her energy arguing with him.

She pushed him with all her strength and then broke into a run, determined to never to cross his path again. She heard him chuckle and it enraged her further.

She wanted to see how they were going to make a film about her ancestor. She would see to it that it got an early grave.

Hope you liked the excerpt! Don’t forget to check the book on Amazon Kindle

Mauri Published. I did it. Again.

Mauri, Book 2 of Abhaya collection, rather the continuation of the story of Abhaya, but from the point of view of Mauri, the daughter of commander Mura is Live on Kindle.

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I did it. Again. Passed through the whole journey. Again. The euphoric feeling of hitting upon a story idea, the feverish phase of plotting. The high phase of starting the manuscript, the drudging patches of self doubt, writing blocks, editing woes, pre launch jitters and what not, but finally hit the publish button! I went through it all. Again. IT makes me feel delirious. It makes me feel fulfilled. It makes me feel like myself. I pray and hope that I undertake this journey again and again and again.

I remember the headless chicken mode I was in after hitting the publish button for Abhaya. I remember the neo-published joy followed by that scary lean time which nudged me towards learning every little thing I could to write better, to sell better, to tell stories better, to sell stories better. I trudged on and published Avishi, almost 20 months later. The learning showed up, propelling me to smash the first glass ceiling as a writer and sprint towards the next.

That is exactly why I love doing this journey again. While you, the readers continue to show your love in terms of beautiful moments like the one I felt after seeing this:

Mauri ranking

The journey is what made me what it takes to achieve the above. What did I learn from the latest cycle? You and I will have to wait till I hit the precious publish button. Again.

Until then, Keep your reviews flowing. Be a part of my journey, my #writerslife.