Interview

Interview with Anshu #priyasks

The author of the day is Ms. Know-it-all powered with a great memory. She is social, a chatterbox who can talk to anyone and everyone. She is known as someone who speaks her mind. She knew that she was meant to be a story-teller when her best bed-time stories as a child were the ones she made up herself. And she could barely read then. She would just let her vivid imagination take over. Not much has changed. Even today, she enjoys creating fascinating characters and plots. 

She is a fitness freak who likes to work out at least 4 days in the gym. The remaining days she practices Yogasana. She is also a big believer of Ayurveda and dadi ma ke nuskhe. She likes to treat common ailments with kitchen remedies. Not many know that while traveling, she prefers carrying her kitchen ingredients rather than allopathy medicines. 

Introducing… Anshu

Anshu Bhojanagarwala is a popular parenting blogger. She also likes sharing her thoughts on health and parenting on her blog, Firsttimemommy, which is one of the top 20 First-Time Mom Blogs. However, The one activity she finds the most joy is getting her hands dirty while tending to her kitchen garden. She is so proud of her potted plants!

It was while teaching her daughter important values so that she would grow to become a strong and independent woman, that inspiration struck Anshu. That’s what led to creating ‘Tara’, her protagonist in the e-book.

anshu.jpg

 

Q. Your protagonist is a strong woman. Who or what is the inspiration behind this character?

A. I believe all women are strong. If they don’t come out as strong, it might be because they haven’t searched within and haven’t realized their true strength yet. The character of Tara is not inspired by a single woman, but from a host of strong women, I have had the privilege of meeting and knowing in my life.

Q. Is there anything different in your book on Amazon? New scenes, perhaps?

A. Yes!! I have taken certain liberties and added a little more drama to the book. The story as you know was a part of BlogChatter’s AtoZ writing carnival and was first published on my parenting blog. I was not comfortable writing a certain scene on my parenting site. But when I was publishing it on a much more global platform, I thought of adding that scene. Just to be clear, it is actually relevant and lends more credibility to the protagonist’s decision.

Q. I loved the climax of your book. Did you have another climax in your mind? Would you mind sharing with us?

A. Thank you. But, if truth be told, then yes. I had another climax in my mind. I wanted Tara to see her husband in a new light and start accepting him. But then I realized, that a wife who had been in love with another man all these years couldn’t suddenly turn to her husband claiming that she loves him. It would have been wrong both for the husband and wife. And that’s not how my Tara was. If she was selfish, she was just too. And she took the right decision at the end.

Q. What is the message that you wanted to convey through your book? If any?

A. There are several messages that I wanted to convey through Tara. Firstly, my protagonist, Tara has a dusky complexion and because of which she suffers humiliation at various instances in her life. Sadly, the bias towards skin color is still prevalent in India and is affecting the young minds.

My second takeaway for readers from my book is that life can rebegin at any age. One just needs to have ambition and determination.

And my third message is that don’t let someone control your feelings. Don’t get vested so much into someone that that person becomes the reason for your happiness and sorrow.

Q. What are your most treasured childhood memories?

A. Visiting the Gauri Shankar temple in Chandni Chowk with my grandfather whenever I was visiting Delhi. He would get extra prasad (spicy black gram) for us, kids. I haven’t had tastier prasad than that.  

I have also some fond memories of chewing on gajjak from the gajjak shop opposite my grandparents’ house in Old Delhi and climbing the neem tree in the backyard of my parents’ home in Ahmedabad.

Q. What are you currently writing about?

A. I am working on a book that is a complete entertainer where you will encounter drama, sex and murder mystery. I am in the final stages of edit, and I hope to publish it by this year end. Fingers crossed!

Additionally, I am also writing an anthology of short stories; some of which are pure fiction while others are inspired from the various events that have occurred in my life.

 Q. If you could Time travel and meet one person from history, who would it be and why?

A. That is an interesting question, also a very difficult one because I can name at least ten people from history I would like to meet. That is the reason, instead of naming one person, I would like to go one step ahead and love to find myself in the golden era also called ‘la belle epoque’ (the beautiful era) in Paris. Paris during 1871-1914 was the literary or the artist’s hub, apart from being the center of haute couture and bohemian lifestyle.

I would like to attend one of the cercles littéraires where I could meet the likes of Maupassant, Proust, Oscar Wilde, Emile Zola, Renoir, Monet, Pablo Picasso or Rodin and see them for real instead of reading about them.

Q. How do you overcome Writer’s Block?

A. Once I realize my mind is blank or there is a lack of coherence in my thoughts, I switch off the laptop. For, come on, it is no use staring at a blank word document. I watch TV to take my mind off writing. I also take this opportunity to read. There have been times when I was inspired to write after I came across an interesting line in a book.

Q. Describe your process for research while writing.

A. The first rule of thumb for any writer while doing research is to observe and listen. You need to observe your surroundings, people and the events taking place around you. Also, listen to people. A good writer is a good listener first. I have come up with many interesting plots after listening to people. I jot them down and develop into stories later.

Google is a great research tool. There is hardly anything that Google can’t give you the answer for.

I reach out to people who I know can help me if I am writing on something particular and they have experienced the situation. Real experiences help in developing a more genuine description, narration, and plot.

Q. Share some valuable tips for publishing and marketing your e-book.

A. Read your book a few times. Every time I read it, I come across an error that I had overlooked in the previous readings. A smart way is to read out loud. You will be able to catch the errors quickly.

Ask your friends, family or close acquaintances to read your book and give you an honest opinion about grammar, language, characters or plot. I have a few close friends who message me with the mistakes in my writing. I appreciate that more than ‘hey, I loved your book or story!’

Network a lot. Social media marketing is like a party where you need not only be present but also constantly circulate. Build a good network of friends and followers who will be the torchbearers of your book.

 

canva image (2).jpg

Book Blurb ContentTara is a dreamer, who likes to live in her past. After a bad breakup, she chooses to marry but fails to accept her husband. A chance meeting with her ex-lover makes her want to take the tabooed path. Will she give in to her passion or save her marriage? Or maybe she will listen to her heart and break free?

Read what Matheikal, Aesha, Lavanya, Ruchi has to say about the book before you hit the Amazon link. You can also see Anshu’s dramatic reading video and follow her on GoodReads.

@anshuwritesdo comment and let us know how this interview experience was for you. And do read, share and comment on your fellow author’s interviews as well. Here’s wishing Anshu all the best for the eBook and all her future endeavors. Wishing you lots of success!!

You can read Romila’s interview on  Ashwini’s blog. And Anshu has made my day more special by posting my interview on her blog. Thanks, Anshu! 🙂 This interview is a part of a series of interviews conducted jointly by @anshuwrites, @ashwini and yours truly. You can read my previous interviews with PareshMaheshwaran, SitharaamKathakali, MahakNatasha, LavanyaJayanthiSayan , Tina, MeghanaNupur, Sona, Nidhi & Roma.

Interview

Interview with Roma #priyasks

Her exuberance is what makes today’s author different from the others. She is the warmest person I met virtually. She loves to love and loves to smile. The tougher the life becomes the broader she smiles. She can impress you with her Bharatnatyam steps and her swimming strokes, equally. The biggest weapon in her kitty is her ability to read faces.  She is an unbalanced Libra who can go to any extent to help others. 

Presenting… Roma... who spreads the aroma of love all around.

Known to the world as Truly Yours Roma, the author Roma Gupta Sinha has been scribbling her heart out on every little piece of paper she has managed to grab, from the age of four. Otherwise, a qualified techie with over ten years of experience working all over the globe, she has a knack for telling stories, stories that touch and provoke your soul and stay in your hearts forever.

She has been felicitated with numerous awards for her writings including ‘Women of the Year 2015’ and is often found weaving some inspirational words on her blog http://www.trulyyoursroma.com. She believes she is born for a purpose and yearns each day to be the face of positive change in the society she lives in.

‘Destiny’s Favourite Child’ is her third book after her first release ‘Dare to Defy the Destiny’, a non-fiction did really well and her second, a chicklet romance, ‘The Fragrance of True Love’ which was a soulful tale of two resonating hearts became a bestseller.

roma.jpg

 Q. You have published 3 books. Which book is the closest to your heart and why?

A. My three books are my three babies and tell me can we ever pick a favorite from three of our children? Also, the three books are poles apart from each other. All I can say is they are the softest pieces of my heart and they undoubtedly mean so so much to me. They lay a strong foundation for my vision in life.

The first one was a significant mission I closely associate my life to, titled ‘Dare to Defy the Destiny’, it’s a non-fiction anthology of twenty-six thought-provoking true tales of Indian Women, some inspiring and some heart wrenching but each leaving our conscience pricked to become the face of positive change. I have met each of the protagonists at some point in my life and I had promised myself to let the world know their tale. The strength of my emotions for the subject aided me solely in pulling off my first book.

You won’t believe the second one ‘The Fragrance of True Love’ is an innocent lovely story, a fiction novella, of a girl Priyam whose traumatic past stands in front of her glorious future, is my first attempt at serial fiction. How Meer enters her life and changes her world is what this chick-let romance is all about. This book sold really well and got raving reviews.

The third and the latest one ‘Destiny’s Favourite Child’, the one that we are discussing today is my autobiography and it happened by chance when a co-blogger and a dear friend coming up with an anthology on commoner women who made big in life, who had read the titbits about my life on my blog, approached me to write my life story for him. I did that bit for him but when some of the people closest to me read it, they said it had a potential of a book and thus I did it albeit very reluctantly after taking permission from the generous blogger buddy.

Q. How difficult is it to write an autobiography? What challenges did you face while writing this? How did your folks react when they read your book?

A. It certainly is an emotional upheaval and a gutsy task to pen your life for the public eye. But I had to do it for I had to tell the world, my journey from being chosen to be thrown on a trash bin as a newborn to where I have reached today. I had to do it to inspire another Roma in another part of our country to be able to summon up the courage and turn the tide of the time in her favor.

The challenges were umpteen. First was to overcome my own mental block of making my private life public. Then, I had to set limits, to what extent can I give our facts. Given the fact that I am a very blatant and brutal writer it was all the more difficult because I may be offending some people as I have to be true to myself and my readers. I have deleted and added chapters multiple times to make it an inspirational read. Like the last chapter which says, ‘ I forgive you, dad!’ , made me cry bitterly while penning it but I have to do it. Trust me penning an autobiography was a Herculean task for an emotional girl like me.

My folks well, it’s a mix. My husband and son are proud of me that I summoned the courage to speak it all. I received a lot of love of my friends and readers on the same for the candidness and honesty with which the account has been penned. Some have chosen to be quiet over a few chapters while otherwise feeling elated and proud but one of my school friends who has always seen me bubbling with happiness and energy has actually written back to me that he can’t believe all this is true at all. So I have taken many by a big surprise too. 😊

Q.  You say that you are a suitable example of ‘Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory’. Please tell our readers more about it.

A. I am in fact the most suitable one and ‘Destiny’s Favourite Child’ is all about it. I hail from a very small town from Uttar Pradesh where way back then the tolerance for a female child was terribly less in comparison to today. My parents were well educated and I guess a gender bias was never on their mind but my paternal grandmom who herself had six daughters despised girls. She ill-treated my mom and when my mom birthed me, a female child her miseries only grew further. I listened to all the malicious ways of the world in my mother’s womb and still decided to survive and face it head on and didn’t perish though born in a small room without the help of a doctor or midwife because I was meant to be here, speaking to you all. I was the strongest and I survived as Darwin said.

You will find scores of other examples in this book which would prove to you that I am one of the best examples of Darwin’s Theory. I not only survived but did it to a fairly good level, if I may say so 😃.

Q. Share some childhood memories that you cherish.

A. I cherish the times I had spent with my mom the most. She has been my guiding light and has made me what I am today. I used to miss her a lot when I lived with my maternal grandparents and later in a hostel for 13 years. She left for the heavenly abode very early in life and my tribute to her including all the poems I had written for her which are included in this book is probably very very close to my heart.

I was my dad’s princess. I remember how he took pride in my achievements and motivated me to soar higher and higher.

I also have very fond memories of holding my little brother’s hand and taking him everywhere I went why is actually all the same till the present day.

Q. Where do you draw so much positivity and love for everyone you come across?

A. I am a total people’s person. Loving others unconditionally is a way of life for me and gives my heart eternal joy. I firmly believe that what you give out to the universe is what you receive back and thus I give out lots of warmth and smiles to whoever I meet in the real and virtual world. It is how I am always, truly yours Roma and I pour in the same love and energy on my blog too. I try my best not to offend anyone and evaluate a situation from their perspective which aids me to maintain calm in most occasions.

Q. Since you like to travel so much, would you like to tell us about your best holiday?

A. They are actually so many. I am actually a total travel freak. But last year I took a vacation with my two boys in Thailand and since the little one has grown up a little now, we had crazy fun. Also, a holiday to Kashmir with hubby ten years ago remains very very close to my heart. My solo Europe trips are memorable too♥️.

Q. If you were to choose a Patronus which animal would you choose and why? 

A. Maybe a Dolphin 😊. It is sharp and intelligent yet warm and caring. Like it exhibits no limit to the amount of skills it can acquire on training, the writer in me wants to stretch beyond her limits and acquire more skill by focused training. A Dolphin is my forever favorite It can entertain you to any level exactly like the writer in me aspires to.

Q. How do you overcome Writer’s Block?

A. I travel to a nearby weekend Getaways or sometimes distant planned vacations. Soaking myself in mother nature’s charm or curling up on the bed with my favorite book often does the trick for me. I also take breaks if my mind is not processing what my heart wishes to pen and start after a few days afresh. For that matter, any form of art seeks rejuvenation and I don’t create a ruckus around it.

Q. Describe your process for research while writing.

A. Weaving of the real in the reel is absolutely indispensable to establish the connect and make your reader engage. I always keep this in my mind and scribble points on a notebook as I research so that they stay in my brain and can get subtly weaved inside my work.

Q. Share some valuable tips for publishing and marketing your e-book.

A. The first and the foremost please be very very convinced that you have given your best shot. Once you would be convinced you will be able to sell your work to the audience much better. Before you hit the publish button build in certain x-factors in your book which is unique and exclusive to you, with which your readers identify you. Now when you market your book use exactly these points to make your audience relate to you and grab a copy of yours.

Build your clan. I may be a very good writer but I must have a strong network or blogger buddies, friends and followers who become instrumental in my promotions. Not because they are paid but because they relate to your work.

Don’t shy away from promoting yourself. Promote yourself everywhere on social media, in communities, in WhatsApp groups, through direct email to your contacts, through word of mouth or whatever way you can. I even distribute free copies for initial promotions.

The visibility matters dears and ironically calls for a bigger effort than penning the book.

roma book.jpeg

Book Blurb: The author enumerates several reasons why you must pick the autobiography of this tiny mortal who is not a celebrity or a person of big stature but just a girl next door. You should read it to know how a girl child who listens to all the malicious ways of the world in her mother’s womb feels petrified even before her birth but still decides to survive and take the challenge. You should read it to know how despite destiny’s chosen games against her, she not only proves herself time and again but remembers to make her mark. You should read it to know how a commoner with zero support system still manages to live life queen size. Also, you should read it to know about this bold and beautiful’s rare ability to dream and Move Mountains to fulfill her dreams. She indeed is ‘Destiny’s Favourite Child’.

Read what Rashmi has to say about the book. Do check out Roma’s GoodReads page. You can also see what Roma has to say about her book HERE, before you download the book from Amazon.

@RomaGuptaSinha, do comment and let us know how this interview experience was for you. And do read, share and comment on your fellow author’s interviews as well. Here’s wishing you all the best for the eBook and all your future endeavors. Wishing you lots of success!!

This interview is a part of a series of interviews conducted jointly by @anshuwrites, @ashwini and me. We interviewed newly published authors and tried to get to know them better. We also asked them for tips on writing, publishing and marketing an eBook.  Do read all the interviews on Anshu’s, Ashwini‘s and my blogs.

Read Anami’s interview on Anshus blog. And head to  Ashwini’s blog to read Surbhi’sinterview.  This interview is a part of a series of interviews conducted jointly by @anshuwrites@ashwini and Yours truly. You can read my previous interviews with PareshMaheshwaran, SitharaamKathakali, MahakNatasha, LavanyaJayanthiSayan , Tina, MeghanaNupur, Sona & Nidhi.

Interview

Interview with Nidhi #priyasks

The author of the day is a food scientist turned data scientist, a homemaker, and full-time storyteller. She lives her life to the fullest.  She believes that she is a vampire who loves rains and works more efficiently at night.  She is a woman who exudes confidence and is passionate about learning new skills, dancing, designing furniture, playing tennis, and above all shopping.

Let us now meet Nidhi…

Three things Nidhi cannot live without are books, notebook, and camera. She is a big-time foodie yet a gym freak. GS Nidhi a voracious reader who believes, “A writing pad and books are your best friends.” 

nidhi.jpg

Q. You stories are unique, yet, realistic. Which one is your favorite and why?

A. All are my favorite. You are asking a mother to choose her favorite baby. They all are my favorite because of two reasons:

    1. This book is my first baby and it took me almost 4 years to get it published.
    2. Second, my dad loved them.

Q. Any story inspired from true events?

A. All of them in some way or the other are inspired by real-life people or events. For example: “Innocent Dream” My husband gave me a trinket of ‘love, faith, and hope along with a turtle stuff toy, on our first date. (FYI: it was an arranged marriage).

Another story “Listen from heart”, Tarang’s character is based on my cousins who are deaf and mute and are 100 times talented and better than me.

Q. Which 3 things do you keep in mind while writing short stories?

I do not keep anything in my mind while writing them. The story comes to my mind and touches my soul, I just write that either in the diary or on my blog. I believe whatever you write if it comes from your heart, it will definitely touch the heart of the reader. I remember one guru mantra from my mentors that whatever you write, read it over and over again to achieve perfection in your storytelling. I am trying to be a story-teller not a story –writer.

Q. As an author would you love exploring various genres or do you think one needs to find a niche to become well-known?

A. As I said earlier, I consider myself as a story-teller. A story-teller can tell stories of all genres depending what they want to convey and to whom. In my personal opinion, if you are a good storyteller, despite any genre, you will become famous.

We have legends who wrote in a different genre and are equally famous for example Paulo Coehlo, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, Munshi Premchand, Sudha Murty, and many more.

Q. Did you learn anything about yourself or about life while writing this book?

A. Every day is a new learning experience. You write what you have experienced in life or what you have learned from the experience of others. I have learned how to be happy in every situation as whatever happens is always happens for good. While writing, I experienced 12 different lives of 12 different people. I learned patience in these 4 years to get a right platform to publish it. Earlier, I used to reject any book just like that,  now I have learned that every piece of writing by any author is like their baby, it’s a result of their hard work and I am no one to judge their work as good or bad writing. I respect everyone’s work and always gives my personal honest opinion in a way that can help both of us to improve.

Q. Your idea of a perfect day?

A. On a beautiful day when rain is pouring down heavily, I am sitting in my balcony with a cup of my green tea and a book.

Q. Share your best/ most favorite memory.

A. When I wrote my first story and emailed it to my friend Pritha who is also a writer and published author.

She replied to me, “Nidhi. Your stories will change lives. Well, my eyes were too blurry to write much else. Also, u know I won’t write what I don’t mean. Wanted to tell u. Your stories feel like gifts from Him in the new year. Subtle reminders of what I need to focus on etc. Grammar check is required to do that for sure. But I am getting to know u as u are through this and will reserve my comments till I can articulate them well.”

(Above is the reply I received from Pritha. Sorry dear for sharing it here.)

Q. Do you have any advice to share with fellow bloggers/ authors about writing or publishing an e-book or a book?

A. Never ever get scared of criticism, accept it wholeheartedly, it will help you to improve. If it’s a shaming, again accept it wholeheartedly as your work will speak for you. Just write it from your heart and feel it from your soul.

Q.What is one superpower you wished you had?

That I can read all the books present in this world in this lifetime.

Q. How do you fight writer’s block?

A. By meditating and again start writing

Q. Where do you get inspiration from?

A. From you all.

Q. How writing/publishing an ebook has evolved you as a writer?

A. It’s a continual process, I still am not evolved, but trying to. (Abhi to Ande mein crack hi hua hai, dragon ko aane mein waqt lagega)

 

Copy of Wheel of time (1).jpg

Book Blurb Content: These are 12 people, 12 tales and 12 months. Which says “When The Unexpected Leads to Expected”.

Book-related links- Download link of the book. Nidhi’s GoodReads Page link

Read what Venice, Nupur, Preeti, PragunMeenal & Sonal have to say about the book.

@Nidgratefulsoul, do comment and let us know how this interview experience was for you. And do read, share and comment on your fellow author’s interviews as well. Here’s wishing you all the best for the eBook and all your future endeavors. Wishing you lots of success!!

Read charming Rohan’s interview on Anshu’s blog. And head to  Ashwinis blog to read humorous Priyanka’s interview. This interview is a part of a series of interviews conducted jointly by @anshuwrites@ashwini and Yours Truly. You can read my previous interviews with PareshMaheshwaran, SitharaamKathakali, MahakNatasha, LavanyaJayanthi & Sayan , Tina, MeghanaNupur & Sona.

Interview

Interview with Sona #priyasks

The author whom I interview today is extremely polite, sensitive, and camera shy.  She loves to sing in the kitchen as she brews her coffee. While sipping the aromatic beverage, she enjoys listening to Hindustani classical. She is fascinated by different cultures, hence it is not a surprise that she wants to learn different languages. She is also keen to learn new dance styles like the salsa, provided she finds a good partner. 

Let’s have coffee with Sona…

Sona Grover is an author and blogger, enthusiastic about books, travel, and nature. She loves to experiment with different cuisines. She is fascinated by various folk forms and the stories shaped by different cultures.  She is a second- time author and has written  ‘Through The Mist’ with 4 other authors.

Author Summary_Sona.jpg

 

Q‌. Your first chapter is ‘know your why”. So do you mind sharing with our readers why do you write?

A. I write to experience the sheer joy of creation. It is addictive, you know.

‌Q. You say “I have faced many of these conundrums on the path to being the writer I wanted to be”. Which is the biggest conundrum that you had to face?

A. To write by hand or to type away? To organize my thoughts beforehand or to write spontaneously? To research before writing or to fill in facts after I have written? I realize that what works well for one project may not work well for another. I am still exploring.

Q. You talk about finding your muse. How to do that? Where do you get inspiration to write?

A. I would like to say that inspiration is everywhere but the fact is that we writers have to be in a state of readiness to accept those influences as inspiration.

I need enough time at my disposal and a personal space to be at my creative best. Late nights solve that easily.

Deadlines are another important factor in finishing a WIP. They make me feel energized. I accomplish so much at the last moment then I would otherwise.

‌Q. What have you discovered about yourself and your writing style that you would like to tell your younger self?

Write more and more. Write like you are obsessed. I would want to say this to everyone, not just my younger self.

Incidentally, it was after attempting to write a full-length novel in 30 days, for NaNoWriMo that I considered myself a writer. It was the quantity that did the trick.

Q‌. As an author would you love exploring various genres or do you think one needs to find a niche to become well-known? How does one find the genre that suits one’s style?

A. I can’t imagine being stuck writing only one kind of stories or only a similar type of articles. But before finding a niche, it is imperative to find your ‘writing voice’, which comes from a place of authenticity.

Q. Apart from being a writer, I admire you as a reviewer as well. Can you share some tips on how to write a good review?

A. I started my blog a few years back with a burning desire to share my views on the books that I have read. Initially, I was writing about my feelings when I read the book. Gradually, I got more analytical in terms of the plot, the characterization, and the writing style. I also try to state the premise of the book clearly for the reader to understand what to expect from a book.

Q. Do you have any strange/ quirky writing habits?

A. I like to pretend that I am not writing when in reality I am deep in writing. Often, I can’t dedicate enough time to sit down and write, so I write in bits and pieces, in stolen time slots. As a result, I write a lot of my blog posts on my phone, on a commute, waiting in reception areas, even at bus stops.

At home, fiddling with my phone (for writing) does not raise the suspicion of my children who rush to claim my attention the moment they feel I am seriously engrossed in something. I have dedicated my book to them, by the way.

Q‌. How do you overcome Writer’s Block?

A. Last year, I was trying to finish my novel. I was working on a strict deadline and more than halfway through I realized I was looking at some serious plot holes. To work out the story in my head, I went for a long walk. Over the next few days, those walks became longer and I had to resort to running. All that physical activity fired up my brain neurons sufficiently for me to get working on the story again.

Q. ‌Describe your process for research while writing.

A. I find the research process a little distracting when I am finishing an article or a post. I write my outline of the article, fill up the details and make notes to myself where I need to research the points. The margins of the first drafts are filled with remarks like, ‘think of a suitable name’, ‘is that even a word??’, ‘this sounds stupid but check it up later’, ‘look up the stats for murder by ingesting pesticide’…etc etc

‌Q.  Share some valuable tips for publishing and marketing your e-book.

A. First and foremost, know your own book, it’s genre and who are the people who would like to read your book. My book is aimed at experienced and aspiring writers so I make sure that I stalk my potential readers both online and offline. Just kidding, there.

Secondly, it helps to have a community or an eager readership before you get the book published. It helps to have a social media presence. A blog contributes immensely to the personal brand building.

Lastly, book promotion is an ongoing process. You as the author are the one most responsible for your book and you may find yourself keeping it in the public eye for a long time.

20180515_161913_0001.png

 

Book Blurb Content: Finding Your Writing Flow will inspire you to pick your pen and explore your authentic voice. 

Simple and profound at the same time, the book guides you through self-doubt, offering tips on recognizing your passion for writing, finding inspiration when you feel stuck, staying productive in your writing projects, getting better at your craft and renewing yourself as a writer.

Book-related links- 

The Amazon link of the book.

Sona’s first book can be downloaded here.

Do check out Sona’s GoodReads page.

Praises for Sona’s book- 

Nupur says ”If you’re a beginner author looking for tips from another author, this short diary style book may suit you”.

Romila says “Finding Your Writing Flow by Sona Grover has to be praised for its sound advice, its clarity and the warmth of its style. It is a book for everybody who wants to learn how to write or who needs to do some writing”. 

Rashi says, “I loved the book ‘Finding Your Writing Flow’ for its simplicity and to-the-point tips. The author has kept it short and comprehensive…It is a book which one can refer to time and again to clear self-doubt, get guidance on writing tips and to enhance writing skills”- in 

Huma says,  “It motivates the readers to explore and develop their unique writing voice. While it is easy to read and follow, it is a wonderful resource of writing tips… This book reviews and offers solutions to conquer the common writing issues faced by the writing community in general”.

Aesha says, “The book is very well structured and is a suitable guide for new writers and bloggers…This book puts into perspective various aspects of writing and about what goes on in a writer’s mind.

And Sayan says says, ” …written on such an important subject and having been so candid in her explanations, examples, and descriptions of what goes on inside the writer’s mind and heart. I would recommend Sona’s eBook as a must read to everyone who wishes to write well and dreams of oneself as a writer”.

@Writenlive1 do comment and let us know how this interview experience was for you. And do read, share and comment on your fellow author’s interviews as well. Here’s wishing you all the best for the eBook and all your future endeavors. Wishing you lots of success!!

This interview is a part of a series of interviews conducted jointly by @anshuwrites, @ashwini and me. Read Anupriya’s interview on Anshus blog. And head to  Ashwinis blog to read Amrita’s interview. This interview is a part of a series of interviews conducted jointly by @anshuwrites@ashwini and Yours Truly. You can read my previous interviews with PareshMaheshwaran, SitharaamKathakali, MahakNatasha,LavanyaJayanthi & Sayan , TinaMeghana & Nupur.

Interview

Interview with Nupur #priyasks

Today’s author is an adventure junkie. From the thrill rides at amusement parks to trekking at the Valley of Flowers, she enjoys it all. She maintains that the sunrise is best appreciated from a cliff. She prefers sunrise to sunset as she believes ‘sunrise embodies the potential of a new day’. She is a nature lover, no wonder her favorite color is green. She loves the color so much that she once gave a branch of Gulmohar leaves to her teacher instead of flowers.

Presenting the trend-breaker and a trendsetter… Nupur Maskara…

Nupur Maskara is short and likes writing short stuff that packs a punch. Expectedly, she began her career in advertising and is now in content writing. Her friends have branded her frequent blonde moments as Nupurisms. 

nupur.jpg

Q. What inspired you to retell the epic ‘Gita’?

A. Arjuna’s cold feet on the battlefield is something anyone can identify with. The Gita is a great philosophical self-help book. I was getting lost in commentaries on the original text. I wanted to read the original, but Sanskrit intimidated me. When I found a verse translation, I grabbed it. It struck me that it would be interesting to capture Arjuna’s perspective on Krishna’s Gyan. I decided to try my hand at it. Poetry is great for expressing emotion, so I wrote poems in Arjuna’s voice.

Q. What are your views on ‘karma and reincarnation’?

A. Karma yoga is one of the paths Krishna recommends, the others being Gyan yoga and bhakti yoga. Our bodies are the site of action, so it’s important we use them for good deeds. We can break the cycle of birth and death by not being attached to material items and practicing yoga, thinking of Brahman.

Q. What’s the biggest misconception about the Bhagavad Gita you’d like to clear up for our readers?

A. That it’s a religious text. It’s not- it’s a summary of the Upanishads and a world-famous philosophical work.

Q. How will you convince an atheist or agnostic to read your book or ‘Gita’?

A. The Gita is a self-help book with a philosophy and they should read it with that perspective. It does not endorse a traditional view of God as a deity, idolatry or ritualism. We are all connected, even with inanimate things. Being part of a greater whole gives meaning to our life and purpose, making us more tolerant of our fellow human beings.

Q. Do you follow the teachings of ‘Gita’? How has it changed your life?

A. Non-attachment is the main takeaway of the Gita. I do follow it- whenever I find myself getting upset if I don’t get my way- I try to remember to take a step back and remind myself not to be attached to material things, people, anything. This immediately calms me down and helps me do a better job. I also focus on karma- doing my work, regardless of the fruit- this has helped me do well at work.

Q. What was the biggest challenge you faced while writing this book?

A. I have translated the first chapter verse by verse and didn’t have time to do the remaining seventeen similarly. That’s my next project. Self-editing is a challenge- my father was my biggest critic, pointing out parts that seemed stilted and suggesting how to improve them.

Q. What has been the toughest criticism you’ve been given as an author? What has been the best compliment?

A. Someone said my poems are too personal. This helped me to rework them so that they would resonate better with readers. The best compliment has been that a reader said I have captured the flavor of the Gita in today’s language.

Q. How do you overcome Writer’s Block?

A. Read great writers, take a walk, gaze at nature, do something new- basically get material for writing. Once I make up my mind to write, especially if there’s a deadline to prod me, something emerges. Having an idea which I want to flesh out makes it easier. Then when I sit down to write later, I’m not blank- the thinking’s already done.

 Q. Describe your process for research while writing.

A. For non-fiction, I read the first ten results on Google, make notes, add my view. For fiction, if I’m working on a character, I observe people with a similar temperament or recall those whom I’ve met previously who have traits I can draw on for my character. Share some valuable tips for publishing and marketing your e-book. 

I’ve designed my ebook twice – Canva images can’t be downloaded, so I redid it for Kindle. Kindle Create is easy to use, but if you want to print your book later, keep that in mind while selecting images. Color images get expensive for offset printing or photocopying.

Your network is your best support for marketing- they will forward your book’s link and encourage you to keep going. I’m also planning to bring out a print edition, as many people have asked me for one.

Insta Gita.jpg

 

Book blurb content-

The Bhagavad Gita is a unique text. Short but power packed, it is part philosophy, part self-help, and part poetry. Translations can be tantalizingly enigmatic, and commentaries can suck the life out of its verses.

This book has explanations where needed and presents Arjuna’s reaction to Krishna’s teachings, in poetry. Arjuna gets little airtime in the Gita. As Everyman, he voices our dilemmas about being human and trying to follow the path of the Gita.

Book-related important Links 

Nupur’s GoodReads page. Her Dramatic Reading Video is interesting. You can read Sona’s review of the book here & can download the e-book here. 

@nuttynupurs, do comment and let us know how this interview experience was for you. And do read, share and comment on your fellow author’s interviews as well. Here’s wishing you all the best for the eBook and all your future endeavors. Wishing you lots of success!!

Do read Sonia’s exciting review on Anshus blog today, while on  Ashwinis blog you can read Rashmi’s interview. This interview is a part of a series of interviews conducted jointly by @anshuwrites@ashwini and Yours Truly. Do you read my previous interviews with PareshMaheshwaran, Sitharaam, Kathakali, MahakNatasha, LavanyaJayanthi & Sayan , Tina & Meghana .

Interview

Interview with Meghana #priyasks

I have a smile on my face as I present to you the ‘happiness agent’. She believes in happifying each and every moment of life- for herself and for others. A nature lover, a true bibliophile, movie buff, and a kiddo at heart. She is a meditation and yoga enthusiast! Her blog and writings render wings to her expressions. When she is not blogging or writing for clients, you will find her daydreaming or reading. 

Allow me to introduce… Meghana Pawar…

Meghana Pawar is a Professional Content Writer, Editor, and a Lifestyle Blogger. She is a personal growth junkie, currently working in the arena of Digital and Print Media.

Author Summary (1)

Q. You mentioned in the blurb that the book is the story of your friend. Is it entirely based on real incidents or have you taken the creative liberty?

A. Yes, Ria’s Diary is inspired by a real story of a friend. Well, honestly, I have kept things as real as possible while trying to make it interesting for the readers as well. The story is in itself very entertaining and has layers, so, you will notice that it is very ‘to the point’ and it does not diverge much from what actually happened just for the sake of it! There are times where the readers may get a little Bollywood feels and the 90s kids are up for a treat, I feel!

Q. How easy or difficult it was to write the story of the life of someone you know?

A. I was clear that I did not want to expand the story just for literary reasons or for word-
counts. Since it’s a real story and sensitive subjects are discussed, the main challenge was to be true to the crux and write without hurting anyone’s feelings. The names of people, places, and characters have changed for the same reason.

Q.We all are excited to know who the ‘special someone’ in Ria’s life is? Is it someone we know? Hrishi? Nikhil?

A: Well, for that you may want to read the book till the end!

Q. Is there going to be the next Diary anytime soon?

A: Honestly, the book – Ria’s Diary was not planned. It just happened like it had to; special thanks to the #BlogchatterEbookCarnival. And about my next book, well, I have a storyline that has been with me for over a year now which I haven’t yet penned. I will soon bring it out to the world!

Q.Do you remember the first story you ever read and the impact it had on you?

A. The first book I read was “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens” when I was 13. The book has so many heart-touching and inspiring stories that have stayed with me till today. I literally have read the book over four times. I highly recommend the book to all the teenagers.

Q. Tell us about your writing process and the way you brainstorm story ideas.

A: I am a content writer and an editor by profession. So, writing is a part of my job and it
does come naturally to me. Becoming an author has always been a dream and now I know that it takes a lot of discipline and consistency to write a book. So yes, writing every day is key so that you get in the flow. Talking about ideas, I am my most creative self when I am happy. Also, I meditate a little every day and have noticed that after my meditation ritual, my mind settles down and creative ideas pop up easily. Travel also does the same for many. Also, whenever I get an interesting idea, I make sure I note it down immediately else, there is a high chance that I forget it later. 😛

Q. What is the best writing advice you can give to the first-time writers?

A: Just start! Most of us think too much and never really start. The best advice is to just start and not worry about how good or bad it is! Work on your write-up by polishing it in the editing phase. It is very important that you take your own good time to edit and rework on the first draft. Write first and edit later, i.e. after a short break works best for me.

Q. How do you overcome Writer’s Block?

A. Organizing your thoughts first rather than just starting with a blank mind can help. Switching off and doing a completely different thing, taking a break and reading other creative stuff also helps! Worry less, smile more and no block can bother you!

Q. Describe your process for research while writing.

A. If writing about some technical things, research is of utmost significance. While writing fiction as well, if I have something which I am not completely sure about say for example a medical term, then I make sure I do my search, look up on google, read related books, and talk to relevant people.

Share some valuable tips for publishing and marketing your e-book.

A. Writing a book is one thing, getting it published is another. However, with e-books, the publishing procedure is simple and convenient since you need not look for a publisher. Self- publishing is easy when it comes to e-books. Marketing is crucial if you want to spread the word about your book. I am making the most of social media to talk about my book, Ria’s Diary. Also, getting your friends and fellow authors or bloggers to talk about it helps.

Book Blurb Content: Ria’s Diary is an episodic tale of a brave girl who fought the most gruesome battles, wavered pain, and heartbreaks that life presented to her with grit, determination, and a smile. Inspired by a real story!

You can read Meghana’s review of the book here & can download the e-book here. 

@MeghanazExpress, do comment and let us know how this interview experience was for you. And do read, share and comment on your fellow author’s interviews as well. Here’s wishing you all the best for the eBook and all your future endeavors. Wishing you lots of success!!

Meet Shipra on Anshu’s blog today, while on  Ashwini’s blog you can read Namratha’s journey as a poet. This interview is a part of a series of interviews conducted jointly by @anshuwrites, @ashwini and Yours Truly – Paresh, Maheshwaran, Sitharaam, Kathakali, Mahak, Natasha,LavanyaJayanthi & Sayan and Tina.

 

Interview

Interview with Tina #priyasks

I take immense pleasure in introducing today’s author. She believes, she is perennially living in an alternate world. She’s pretty sure that Alice from ‘Alice in Wonderland’ is her alter ego – ever curious and in the quest for the truth. An Alice who can put the mad hatter to shame for her ability of designing and donning multiple hats with panache; each hat adorned with colorful feathers. She is an author, a blogger, a professor, a dancer, and a dreamer. 

Allow me to introduce… Tina Sequeira…

Tina Sequeira is an award-winning author and blogger. Tina is a published Goodreads author with two books to her credit, ´Soul Sojourn´ (2017) and ´Bhumi´ (2018). She is listed among the ´Top 35 writers of 2017´ by India´s leading online platform for youth, YouthKiAwaaz. She is the recipient of the Orange Flower Award 2017 by Women´s Web in the category of ´Writing on Work´ (2017). She was among the top 5 Finalists in the category of ´Parenting´ (2017), ´Humour´ (2017), ´Poetry´ (2017) and ´Personal Blogging´ (2016) for the Orange Flower Awards by Women´s Web. Her articles are regularly published on leading online platforms such as Youth Ki Awaaz, Momspresso. Women´s Web, Readomania to name a few. 

She has earlier worked in elite IT companies such as NCR Corporation and Microsoft India, been an academic professor teaching management to graduates and postgraduates before turning to writing. 

tiiiina.jpg

 

Q. Which story is closest to your heart in your anthology? Why?

A. To be honest, each and every story is close to my heart. I know it sounds like a classic cliche. A diplomatic answer. But, every story is indeed special to me and I look at each of them with great pride. They are my babies after all. Another ´done to death´ line..hahaha!

But, cliches are cliches for a very good reason. However annoyingly predictable or diplomatic they seem, they are in fact, closest to the real truth.

I must admit though that there are some stories that I spent more time on than the others. Some stories were a breeze to write. Some stories, the words had a longer birthing or labor time.

However, to still answer your question – If I had to pick only one story which is the closest to my heart, I will pick the very first fiction story that I wrote – ´Karma´. This is my foray into fiction writing.  

Q.Where do you derive inspiration from?

A. Every writer is sitting on a gold mine as far as inspiration goes. It is all around us and within us. All you need to do is look and pay attention. From people within your four walls and outside to newspapers to books to art to music to personal stories to the wild imagination, there´s inspiration everywhere as far as writing goes. All one has to do is be a seeker.

Q. Did you intend to become an author as a child? How did you begin writing?

A. Yes, I always harbored a dream to become an author since childhood. My father is a voracious reader. He used to buy me books instead of dolls. Neither was I ever fascinated by dolls and toys. Books were my toys and imagination was my playground. Back then, I binged on classic literature. I loved the good old adventure stories by Mark Twain and Alexandre Dumas. Mystery books by Sir Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie thrilled the voyeur in me. I shed a tear while reading touching the tales of Little Women by Louise May Alcott and Black Beauty by Sewell. I loved the feminist protagonists of all Sidney Sheldon novels. I laughed uproariously at P.G.Wodehouse´s sense of humor. I marveled at Shakespearean literature which has a sparkling timeless quality to it. All these great minds triggered the desire to be an author someday.

Interestingly, I never saw it as an occupation back then. The dream was to become an author in my retirement post 60 years. You know, when I am done with all my responsibilities – career and home! As a child, I envisioned myself as a late entrant. A gloriously grey haired author with uncool soda bottle glasses (which are back in trend by the way). I saw myself as an author of a book or two at the max. Not anymore!

Today, with the onset of technology, it’s much easier to write. It´s much more convenient to write on a computer or laptop as opposed to pen and paper or longhand, as they call it.

Don´t get me wrong, writing is still a tiresome job and one needs oodles of passion and patience. But, it is simply nowhere as strenuous as it was in the olden days of the longhand form. Imagine writing a first draft on a piece of paper, editing it and then revising to write it all over again for the consequent drafts till you make it to the final one. Phew!

Becoming an author is an achievable dream today.

Let me give you a glimpse of my writing journey. I began writing in my adolescent years. I maintained a personal diary where I bared my heart and soul out in words and doodles. Around a decade back, I started blogging thanks to my younger brother who urged me to jump onto the bandwagon. For the longest time, blogging was a mere extension of my personal diary. The only difference was that in the past, I scribbled on the pages of my diary. While now, I was typing away to glory on blogspot.com. Also, I was an intermittent blogger for the longest time.

It was my return to India in mid 2016 (after a long stay in the US) that proved to be the turning point as far as my writing goes. Blogging had become a huge rage here unlike when I had just started in 2006. A lot had changed. There were so many new names, new sites, new platforms. I decided to resurrect my writing.

I started writing for an online platform called Women´s Web for the first time. It was a humble start as I wrote merely out of passion alongside a full-time job.

In 2017, I decided to work from home and that is when I took to writing seriously. I wrote for several other leading online platforms and participated in various writing challenges. This opened the door for me to various opportunities – such as becoming a self-published author, winning writing awards and recognition, gaining a diverse readership base, starting my new blog ´The Tina Edit´ and most importantly, being part of a vibrant writing community.

This is my writing journey till date.

Q. Give 3 reasons why people should buy your book?

A. I was very sure that my first book would be an ode to the Indian woman. The idea for´Bhumi´ germinated in 2017 and became a reality in 2018. Three reasons people should buy my book-

  • It´s more than what anyone can ask for from an ebook. You get 26 short stories that are written from and with a lot of heart. And art!
  • For its real and dignified portrayal of women characters – non-stereotypical, diverse and non-judgemental. Quite unlike the mass representation of women that we see through the male lens.
  • For my writing style which I choose to believe is simple and beautiful in ´Bhumi´. I have made a deliberate effort to keep it so.

Q. What’s more important to you? Character or plot?

A. Both! It depends purely on your idea, the style of writing and the genre. For some of them, it makes more sense to have character driven stories. For some, plot-driven stories work best.

In a genre like mystery, a killer plot is a given. Not having one is criminal. In a genre like romance, the plot can take a backseat and let the characters take center stage and do all the ´show and tell´.

That is why I don´t write away books merely because they have a straightforward or unimaginative plot. There are several factors to be considered before writing it away for one mere reason. As long as the book engages me and delights me on other fronts, I am a happy reader.

Q. Which of your characters would you like to meet in person and why?

A. All of them! Why not! I would love to meet each and every single character in my book. It would be so cool to enter into their world, say ´Hi´ and tell them how much I enjoyed writing them.

I can see myself chilling out with most characters in the book – be it Saira from ´Crazy courage´, Sofia from ´Dried roses´,  Sahruda from Énding´, Dinaz from ´Lioness´shares´, Mira, Aisha and Diana from Ón the beach´, Ramona from ´Unbridled´to name a few.

I would give a big tight hug to Ira from ´Fat Chance´, Haima from ´Karma´, Meena from ´Mirror mirror on the wall´ and Rosie from ´Naked Illusions´.

I would most likely take the liberty to punch Sunil from ´Mirror mirror on the wall´ or Shami from ´Karma´. I would give an equally eloquent counterattack speech to Dr. Shikha Sharma on toxic femininity and would call her bluff.

I would spend the day with the kids, Shanaya from ´Instant gratification´ and Tanya from ´Switch´ and tell them how they represent hope for the next generation of women.

I would tell Chavvi and Anurag from ´Yours Ably´what an endearing couple they make and how brave their love story is!

Q. What do you think your favorite character thinks about you?

A. My favorite character in the book is Bhumi. The character is loosely inspired by my mother. She is my biggest role-model for her giving, forgiving and courageous nature. She is giving to the point of being sacrificial. Forgiving to the point of being bitten again. Courageous to the point of opening your heart and letting it be vulnerable and broken again. She gives you endless chances to change.

Like Christ says – ´Forgive your enemies seventy times seven’ or ´Love your enemies like you love yourself´. It is just too tall for any human to reach such an enlightened state. Mother Nature displays this magnanimity…this divine quality.

Hmm! What would Bhumi think of me? Bhumi, my favorite character would think that I am highly tolerant, non-judgemental and think differently than the rest. Most people would never see a passive character like Bhumi being strong, wise or courageous. But, I personally think she´s the strongest and bravest of all the characters in the book. She knows how the world including her own family members work. Yet, she doesn´t fall away from the right path to succumb to the ways of the world – selfishness, manipulation, opportunism, greed, lust. She stands tall and strong like the mighty earth herself, not getting swayed by easy provocation and temptation. She is extraordinarily mature, ethical and inspiring.

Q. How do you overcome Writer’s Block?

A. I know this one is another cliched. But true again as most cliches are, the only way to overcome the writer´s block is to write. You can only remove the block from the way if you get into the ring and get started. Face your block, look it in the eye and fight it. Once, you get going, the block miraculously gives way to more words and stories. Quite an irony isn´t it when the block suddenly becomes the impetus! But, that´s pretty much how it pans out at the end.

Q. Describe your process for research while writing.

A. Some writings call for a lot of research, given the topic or subject. For example, I recently submitted an article for Women´s Web. The topic was parenting an ADHD child. I googled to learn more about the ADHD condition, parenting challenges and also set up an interview with a parent of an ADHD  child.

The writing process can vary depending on what you write. Let´s say for fiction, I try to steer away with some of the cliches in the storyline. So, I read lots of stories to pay close attention and catch those cliches. That forms the basis of my research as well. For character development, I try to recollect someone I know and visualize what they would most likely be doing in my plot. Would they fit in or stand like the odd one out? Do I want them in or out?  There are no fixed rules or processes for writing. No ´one size fits all´ mantra!

There is no singular structure that I follow for my writing expect this: Freewriting – Revise – Proofread – Edit

I might repeat it again from the ´Revise´ stage based on the readers´feedback. I plan to revise ´Bhumi´ all over again before listing it on Amazon in a couple of days from now.

Q. Share some valuable tips for publishing and marketing your e-book.

A. Self-Publishing is easy today. Anyone with a computer can self-publish. The trick is to market them and get people to notice and buy your book.

It depends on what your purpose is ultimately. For me, I decided to venture into self-publishing to test the waters before plunging right into it via traditional publishing.

It´s true that I have published two ebooks. But, I did not market my debut ‘Soul Sojourn’ at all. However, I do plan to foray into marketing both my books this year and learn a thing or two from the experience.

Bhumi_FinalCoverpage_20May

Book Blurb Content: A proud Indian citizen, Tina revels in being a woman. Voila! ‘Bhumi’, her debut fiction was born.´Bhumi´ is an ode to womanhood. In ‘Bhumi’, you will see real women come alive unlike their stereotypical counterparts on the celluloid. With ‘Bhumi’ in your hands, you can read 26 short stories at leisure at your comfortable pace. You can pick and begin from any chapter in the book because each chapter is a complete story by itself. Tina hopes that her readers will discover the simple joy of reading.

you can view her GoodReads page. You can read My review of her book and hear straight from the horse’s mouth; her dramatic reading video. Link to the BlogChatter page where eBook has been uploaded.

@tinajsequeira, do comment and let us know how this interview experience was for you. And do read, share and comment on your fellow author’s interviews as well. Here’s wishing you all the best for the eBook and all your future endeavors. Wishing you lots of success!!

Read Huma’s interview on Anshus blog. And Ashwini today is in conversation with Deepa. Check out other interviews in the series conducted jointly by @Ashwini_Menon, @anshuwrites, and Yours Truly – Paresh, Maheshwaran, Sitharaam, Kathakali, Mahak, Natasha,LavanyaJayanthi & Sayan.

Interview

Interview with Sayan #AuthorChatter #priyasks

The author of the day has the childlike love for the airplane’s window seat. So, imagine this author sitting in an airplane, holding a book in his hand, and enjoying the view of the azure sky, while I interview him. Where is the plane heading to, you ask? To a beach destination, as he enjoys the sea for its expansive magnanimity. The magical colors in the western sky at sunset work for a wonderful background as he listens to the waves’ tales, and that’s how he gets inspired to tell his own.

Meet… Sayan Bhattacharya…

Born in 1974 in Kolkata and a Post-graduate in English Literature, Sayan’s professional career spans twenty years, initially in banking and financial services and presently in the FinTech industry. An avid traveler and reader, Sayan’s passion for writing is his hobby and a medium to showcase his own kaleidoscope of life’s stories.

Author Summary_Sayan

 

Q. I like the amalgamation of history and mythology? How were you inspired to write on this genre?

A. I have always been fascinated by the Indian mythological tales and equally by the chequered history that our country has had. However, there is not always a clear link between where mythology ends, and recorded history begins. During some of my reading on the subject, I was inspired to explore this area and taking up the history of ancient cities was probably the best way, as such cities carry mythological references and the stamp of history.

Q. Which story according to you is the most fascinating one in your book.

A. Well, going by the feedback from readers and reviewers, I must say the story of Lahore is the most fascinating one, as many people do not know its mythological origins and its historical heritage. Further, Lahore has featured prominently in almost all centuries and important periods of Indian history. Add to the fact that now the city falls outside the geography of India, it is indeed fascinating to know about its historical links. The same could also be said about Multan, Peshawar, and Qandahar, which also feature in my e-Book.

However, my personal favorite is the story on Hastinapur, the mighty capital of the Kauravas during the Mahabharata era. While many are familiar with the name and its epic reference, they may not be aware of the story of Hastinapur before or after the Mahabharata: how did the city originate and eventually get destroyed, only to remain as a tiny town today.

Q. What was the biggest challenge that you faced and how did you overcome it?

A. I must say that my biggest challenge was the ‘problem of plenty’! First, there were many cities which qualify as ancient cities of India and it was difficult to leave out one over the other. So, I had to apply certain ground rules based on which I selected the cities: for example, the city had to have been in existence before 1000 AD (which is a tipping point in Indian history). Also, in this edition, I have focused on the ancient cities of North India or ‘Aryavarta’ as it was known in mythological India. Second, the challenge was to fit these cities alphabetically into the A2Z sequence. Of course, I took a deviation in X and Y, but logically both Xuanzang and the Yavanas (though not cities) were an integral part of Ancient India.

Q. Historical fiction is quite popular with the readers. Do you plan to write a historical fiction in future? Why or why not?

A. I am glad that Historical fiction is getting popular with readers and it is very encouraging to note that people are showing genuine interest to read history when presented in a more engaging and story-telling manner.

I certainly have plans to write historical fiction in the coming days. In fact, there are two writing projects that I am working on, which belong to this genre:

First is a novel based on more recent history and set in the backdrop of the India-Bangladesh relationship. The story and characters are set in the context of the Bengal partition of 1947 and then the Bangladesh Liberation War or 1971. This novel, titled “My Land Across the Border”, set against a historical backdrop and details events of the times, is more a fictional thriller which searches its answers in the fold of history.

Second, I intend to expand my research and blog-posts on the lost imperial city of Kanyakubja, (today’s Kannauj) and the history and fate of the Kanyakubja Brahmins, into a full-fledged historical novel. In February and March, I have written a six-part series on the mythological and historical story of the lost city of Kanyakubja on my blog, which has received good readership and reviews. The next initiative will be to write a historical fiction based on this city and the life of the famous Kanyakubja Brahmins during the ancient times.

Q. When was that point in your life that you realized that being an author was no longer going to be just a dream but a career you were going to turn into reality?

A. Well, this goes about six years back, when I was writing a series of connected blog-posts on a very personal experience that had left a deep impact on me. As the series of posts unfolded, the idea of putting it together as a novel came up. I wanted to share the story with the world and I thought that writing a book would be the best way to do that. The result was my debut novel “Friendship Calling” which I self-published by end of 2013. As more and more people read the story and shared their views, reviews, and feelings with me on that story, I became more convinced about the power of story-telling and my abilities to weave stories from real-life incidents.

My second novel “A Case of Connections” published in 2016, was written with more characters, complex plot and on a wider canvas. Once again, good reviews and encouraging comments from my readers have boosted my confidence as a story-teller and writer. Thus, began my journey of being an author, and I am still learning!

Q. What other secret talents do you have?

A. I love traveling and somehow can very quickly develop a sense of the roads, locations, and directions about the place. My family and friends always cheer me on that when we are out traveling. Adding some dashes of information and history about the place, I have often thought that I may well be a tour-guide someday, showing my country around to people and making them better aware of our heritage.

Whilst I love reading and writing, what gives me the most pleasure is ‘story-telling’! It has a great power and you can pack a lot of ingredients into it, viz., history, information, fiction, fantasy, imagination and come up with a delightful story to entertain your listeners.

Q. What’s the most amusing thing that happened to you?

A. I still remember the night when I was narrating a bedtime story to put my son to sleep: the original story, based on ancient history of two fictional kingdoms of south India, ended soon but my son still not having slept, I continued to add fiction and fantasy and weave on the narrative, until we suddenly realized that it was almost 4 in the morning and we were completely immersed in the imaginative world of the story! Well, though the purpose of the story was grossly defeated (the bed-time story kept my son awake rather than making him sleep!), both of us enjoyed the story immensely. My son still reminds me that I need to write that story down someday!

Q. How do you overcome Writer’s Blocks?

A. Oh, I suffer from Writer’s Block quite frequently I must say! I find it very difficult to write to deadlines, and to write something just because I have not written for a while. It is more about the content and the urge to write about it that pushes me to my writing desk.

When I think I have been hit by the Writer’s Block, I take to reading or trying to imagine a story plot (I have so many of them going on in my mind anyway!). As I tend to write primarily based on true life experiences, I try to overcome the Block by writing about some experience which I always wanted to write about but haven’t done yet.

Q. Describe your process for research while writing.

A. Research is very important while you are writing. I always want to give my readers a cinematic experience while they read so that they feel transported to the scene. To achieve this, mere descriptive words are not enough, you need very minute detailing. Such descriptions and detail can be extremely convincing and valuable to your readers if you have done your research well.

For example, cities come alive as characters in my earlier novels. The descriptions of different parts of Mumbai and Kolkata in ‘Friendship Calling’, or those of London and Brussels in ‘A Case of Connections’ help he readers to virtually be in those places and ‘see’ action in front of their eyes. My research on these cities during my visits and planning the story around these locations was very important.

Then, while writing the e-Book on Ancient Cities of India, I had to ensure that the information presented to the readers is verified, authentic and validated. In content based on history, factual accuracy is extremely important. Also, you need to provide valid references to support your comments or facts, so that the readers can validate them or read more about it from those sources.

While the primary source of research remains the internet, I make it a point to validate the information before absorbing it for writing purposes. This I do through cross-references and by reading up other books and documents on the topic. To authenticate a small piece of information which you want to include in your story, you may have to spend a few hours of research effort on it. But overall, it is very interesting, so I enjoy the research process totally.

Q. Share some valuable tips for publishing and marketing your e-book.

A. I sincerely wish I was better at doing this! I have always adopted the self-publishing route and have been lucky to have got some good publishers for my books. I think it is important to know how the publishing industry looks at you as an upcoming author and the catch and salability of your book or e-Book in the market. The self-publishing route gives us that comfort of publishing our work the way we need to and saves us the heartburn of rejections and indifference of so-called larger traditional publishers.

Marketing of your e-book should be with the aim to reach it to as many people as possible, rather than counting sales numbers. As an author, the greatest joy remains when people read our work and share their views on it. Social media channels are important, but word-of-mouth is equally a strong vehicle to market your e-book. I would say, adopt these few handy ways, which are economical and don’t need much effort:

  • Talk about your e-Book at every possible opportunity in your circles, when you converse.
  • Keep the links of the e-book handy on your phone, so that you can share them immediately via Whatsapp, DM on Twitter, Messenger Chat / Text, Bluetooth, etc when someone shows genuine interest.
  • Keep a downloaded version of your e-Book on your device, show that you can show it to people when a related conversation goes further.
  • Occasionally bring back pictures and quotes of your e-Book on your profile and status, as that sparks interest among your circles.
  • With close friends and family, request them to share the links or put in a word of mouth to their circles which you may not have access to.
  • However, please don’t over-do the push in your enthusiasm. We don’t want to be that disliked ‘Insurance Agent uncle’ in every other family, whom people want to stay away from in social gatherings!

 

ACI_eBook_Cover.jpg

Book Blurb Content: This eBook presents to you a graphic retelling of the stories of select ancient cities of India. Packed with mythological tales and historical anecdotes each story lets you re-discover ancient India in a new light.
Written in light story-telling fashion, this compilation will make you time-travel to the past and take you through many mythical and imperial cities in different historical eras. Scattered across ancient undivided India and the subcontinent read about the cities of the past and their destiny as it has turned out over the centuries.

Important Links for eBook “Ancient Cities of India”

Blog Chatter website e-Book Download link, Link to dramatic reading video

You can read Reviews of eBook “Ancient Cities of India” by fellow authors Rashi, RomilaNupurTomichanKathakali.

@Sayan74, do comment and let us know how this interview experience was for you. And do read, share and comment on your fellow author’s interviews as well. Here’s wishing you all the best for the eBook and all your future endeavors. Wishing you lots of success!!

Read an entertaining interview with Balaka on Anshu’s blog. And Ashwini had an opportunity to have a rendezvous with Reema. Check out other interviews in the series conducted jointly by @Ashwini_Menon, @anshuwrites, and Yours Truly – PareshMaheshwaran, SitharaamKathakaliMahakNatasha, Lavanya, and Jayanthi.

Interview

Interview with Jayanthi #AuthorChatter #priyasks

The author whom I am interviewing today,  is a programmer, a passionate InfoSec professional,  a technical blogger. Let us welcome… Jayanthi . Jayanthi is a wife and mother and has lived in the US for 14 years. After she quit her job, she found solace in technical and personal writing that allowed her to keep in touch with her educational qualifications.

jaya.jpg

Q. Having lived in the USA for 14 years, what is the biggest cultural difference between India and USA?

A. I think we in India are much more conservative by all standards. The way we dress, behave and move around with our peers and our elders will all be different. We are unconsciously more co-dependent and not totally independent, supporting each other through all the highs and lows of life. I think joint families still exist in India because of this…

Q. What is the biggest challenge that Indians face when they move to the USA?

A. I think the cost factor is a big challenge for us when we move from India. Everything seems more expensive when we move there first. There is one common thing that everybody does when moving for the first time – multiply every price by 68! ☺ (or, the current conversion rate) and wonder if we really pay the same amount in India..
Not having enough family around is another challenge too – but we learn to adapt with the help of friends and others around you…

Q. You talk about myths about the USA in your book. Which one is the most deep-rooted myth?

A. I think most of the time – people think that life is very easy in the US and you start earning lots of money quickly. But there is a lot of sweat and tears to make it happen and the adage “no pain, no gain” is true for any country.

Q. What is the one thing that we take for granted about India? What did you miss the most about India in the USA?

A. Definitely, the social life. We have so many dadas, dadis, nanis, chachas, chachis, second cousins, third cousins in India and there are so many festivals and marriages in India. You sorely miss all those wonderful and intricate family relationships after a while.

Q. What personality traits and qualities are most important for anyone who wishes to be a writer? Any advice for the novice starting out?

A. It would be good to have a lot of passion for the subject that you want to write about. Understanding and feeling the subject and getting into the character for a fiction will all be great pluses for anyone who wishes to be a writer. Sometimes, the difficulty might be just the “how to start writing” – I am sure if one starts the writing process with a good plan… ☺ everything will fall into place…

Q. Tell us about your journey as an author?

A. It has been a fascinating experience moving from being a blogger to an author!  Each step of the journey has been “Can I do it?” or “Should I do it” to “Yes, I should do it!” to “Yes, I have done it!!”
I had made technical e-learning modules for organizations before but had never published an e-book on Kindle… so it makes me feel superhuman!! ☺

Q. Which genre have you never dabbled in, and want to try someday?

A. I have never written anything apart from technical articles and personal muses and journeys but maybe I will venture into fiction one day!

Q. How do you overcome Writer’s Block?

A. I have never experienced one… as I have many ideas sitting in my drafts…  but I would suggest to write, write and keep writing – however little, it may be or however insignificant it may be…

Q. Describe your process for research while writing.

A. I do assimilate a lot of ideas throughout my day. For my technical posts, I read a lot of blog posts on similar topics and watch a lot of Youtube videos on the same. Once I am done with all the reading, I think of a perfect topic to sail through my writing. My technical posts do take more time to pen because of all the research.
On the other hand, my personal posts have mostly bordered on my personal experiences and thoughts and as soon as I find a perfect topic that I feel strongly about – I write it in under 30 minutes! ☺

Q. Share some valuable tips for publishing and marketing your e-book.

A. Publishing the e-book was easy, once, I was done with the writing part. But, I am still learning the ropes of marketing my e-book. I have listed it as an e-book on the Amazon and have advertised my e-book on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Quora and hoping for lady luck to wave her magic e-wand! ☺

India or US.jpg

Book Blurb Content: A number of individuals in their 20s, want to go abroad and once they are abroad, they start missing India. These individuals posts grasp the see-saw of most Indian families trying to balance Indian values and American life. The book can be downloaded from the Amazon link. Do read Medha’s review. Here is a link to dramatic reading video– & Link to GoodReads page

@jayaaugdo comment and let us know how this interview experience was for you. And do read, share and comment on your fellow author’s interviews as well. Here’s wishing Jayanthi all the best for the eBook and all her future endeavors. Wishing you lots of success!!

This interview is a part of a series of interviews conducted jointly by @anshuwrites, @ashwini and me. Read Ravish’s interview on Anshu’s blog. You can read Monika’s interview on Ashwini’s. I also enjoyed interviewing PareshMaheshwaran, SitharaamKathakaliMahakNatasha and Lavanya .

Interview

Interview with Lavanya #AuthorChatter #priyasks

The author I’m interviewing today is ‘Ms. read-a-lot’. She is the creator of the characters, Maya and Hari whom I fondly call ‘Matahari’. I often wondered if there are any characteristics that she has in common with Maya or Hari. And she admits that Hari shares her sense of humor. Having penned 3 books, she also knows how to use a pencil to sketch beautiful portraits. If she could paint the world with one color, it would be turquoise blue.

Allow me to welcome… Lavanya Srinivasan!

Lavanya is a CA working for an international bank. She is passionate about mythology and fantasy. She would love to spend time with her character, Hari.

Lavanya.jpg

 

Q. Which story you found the toughest to write and why?

A. My first published novella “Maya and the Mind Mystics” was definitely the toughest as my writing career was rather fresh at that point of time. Writing, the plot, the character cast, and the narrative came naturally but I was dumbfounded when I realized the editing, the typesetting, and the formatting are almost as difficult as writing the novella itself. Fortunately, I had great fellow writers to help me out.
Kanika of the “Tania” tales fame gave me a lot of pointers. Needless to say, we both connected so well that we are now involved in quite a few writing projects together
one of which is the twice-weekly Nina & Nana cartoons!

Q. What personality traits and qualities are most important for anyone who wishes to be a writer? Any advice for the novice starting out?

A. I know that there is plenty of advice on the web about how to write especially the one
about having a solid writing time every day. I have always felt that writing shouldn’t be a chore like cooking or washing that you do every day. Most of my writing has been the product of short bursts of creativity that usually is far more productive than if I sit at the prescribed time daily to write 500 words every day. However, each person has their own style and what works for me may not work for others. There are plenty of writers out there trying to break out big but I would caution against haste. Don’t follow the popular cliche or rush into finishing that book if it’s not your thing. Follow your instincts and like I always say the hand knows what’s it’s writing before the brain does. If you have been following my blog, you will know that I follow my own advice. I only write stuff that I enjoy.

Q. What would a fly on the wall see if he watched you while you are writing?

A. Probably the fly would see me curled up on my windowsill with a notebook typing furiously. The views outside of my apartment in Hong Kong is fantastic and I love looking at the gently rolling hills on one side and the glittery glitzy buildings in the distance. The fly would probably find it extremely difficult to break me out of my concentration as I have a one-track mind (which is probably not a cool thing to say in these days of multitasking) but this trait has served me well in my professional career as well as writing.

Q. Tell us about your journey as an author?

A. Writing came to me as a corollary of all the reading that I have been doing right from my school days. I have been a bibliophile since primary school when I started out with Enid Blyton. I devoured Perry Mason, Agatha Christie, and Wodehouse in quick succession and was always on the lookout for the next fictional character I could vicariously live through. Needless to say, Harry Potter arrived. My writing career as an adult received a big morale booster when my opinion piece was published in ​“The Hindu” open page. There was no looking back after ​that.

Q. What’s the hardest thing for you about writing?

A. The hardest thing for me is making time to write. I have a full-fledged finance career
that I am proud of, looking back at all the hard work I have done to reach the point where I am in right now. Writing poses a stiff competition to my musical interests when both of them vie for my time. I play the veena and gave my first public performance earlier this year. But at this point, writing is definitely winning the game!

Q.Which one is your favorite character? And do you plan to write another book/story
about his/her journey?

A. My favorite character of all time is Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. It’s probably uncool to say this of a prudish Victorian character in these days of women empowerment but Elizabeth was actually ahead of her time when Jane Austen wrote about her. Stripping aside the social norms of her era. What I really admire about her is her wit and the determination to live her life in her own terms. Of course, Lord Emsworth in the Blandings’ Castle (PG Wodehouse), Agatha Christie’s Poirot, Nynaeve in the Wheel of time by Robert Jordan and Hermoine Granger of Harry Potter fame all jostle for the second spot not to mention Pollyanna and Anne of Green Gables!
My favorite character from my books is, of course, Maya as I envision her boldness and strength in wading past through all the obstacles that the world throws at her. Another Maya book is definitely on the way (She featured in “The God, The Girl and The Gem” that was published in April this year) but it needs to wait a while until I finish a completely different book that I am writing now. Elizabeth Bennet would probably make an appearance on my blog. Watch out for her!

Q. If you could spend time with a character from your book, who would it be? What would you do?

A: Definitely Hari who appears in both “Maya & the Mind Mystics” and “The God, The Girl and The Gem”! He is witty, fun to hang around with and is sure to keep my spirits up no matter how dreary the situation is. But I would watch out for his tricks though!

Q: What is your favorite part of the book?

A: I am going to choose from my third ebook – “The Cockatiel complains and collected works” – there are two parts of the book that I really like, if I may say so myself. Wribulizer that appears in the Blue Moon story seems like such a cool tech to have today but I can only dream on! I had two pet cockatiel birds, Scooby & Luna before I left India, so I know first hand how adorable those birds are. Luna was especially affectionate and would stay on my shoulder for a ride while I cleaned house. Scooby used to love using my feet as a trapeze, so I used to swing my feet up and down while he sat on in apparent enjoyment. I always wondered what Scooby and Luna would tell me if they could talk – that’s how the cockatiel complains story came into being!

Q. How do you overcome Writer’s Block?

A. To be honest, I haven’t encountered it so far. Like I said, the harder part for me is to
devote sufficient time to write all I want. My hand knows what I want to write before
the brain does!

Q. Describe your process for research while writing.

A. I am a huge fan of collecting stories around world mythology so needless to say I know
lots of arcane stuff about Indian epics Mahabharat and Ramayan apart from Greek, Roman and Norse mythologies. For my first two books, I draw heavily on elements of these for which, of course, I did a lot more of research and reading while developing the characters. The beauty of Indian epics, of course, is that I learn something profound every time I read them. While that may be also due to my evolution as I grow older and life’s experiences change me, I am awed at how much of valuable life
lessons relating to psychology and society at large is hidden in these epics. The fact that these were written many thousand years ago before the advent of modern society stuns me even more. More to the point about research, I sometimes spend a week trying a learn a single fact before I use it in the book. The authenticity of the back tales is really important to me.

Q. Share some valuable tips for publishing and marketing your e-book.

A. Like I said earlier while the writing part itself is important, it’s really the editing, formatting, typesetting and all those “boring” tasks that really add a finesse to the book. Don’t skip those!
Writing is a hot field these days and competition is heavy, so marketing depends a lot on what form of the book you come out with. I prefer to Indie publish as I cannot spend the time that’s required for traditional publishing but then again to each person his own! For Indie publishing, you require a lot of discipline as you own the publishing process from start to finish. Sending review copies to book reviewers, spreading Sending review copies to book reviewers, spreading the word out on twitter/ FB/blog are all a part of the process. Knowing your target audience and making sure that the word reaches them is important!

  blogchatter.png

Book Blurb Content:  An interesting collection of short stories with tales ranging from why the moon is blue to the complaints of a cockatiel, the story of a girl who gambles way her life credits to the tale of a tribal warrior, a celestial journey to a missing damsel and many more! Read Jai’s review & here is  My review of the book. Here is a link to the book & Good reads page. Here’s wishing Lavanya all the best for the eBook and her future endeavors. Wishing you lots of success!!

@Lavmuses, do comment and let us know how this interview experience was for you. And do read, share and comment on your fellow author’s interviews as well.

Fellow authors, I hope you enjoyed the interview. We would love to know your views. Do comment and share your thoughts.

Read Pragun’s interview on Anshu’s blog. And head to  Ashwini’s blog to read Neha‘s interview. This interview is a part of a series of interviews conducted jointly by @anshuwrites, @ashwiniand me. You can read previous interviews with PareshMaheshwaran SitharaamKathakaliMahakNatasha.