Guest post: Challenges I faced in Writing

I’m sharing an excerpt from the guest post at Surbhi Sareen’s blog about the challenges I faced during my writing journey.
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Thank you for hosting me at your blog, Surbhi. Today I would like to talk about the challenges faced by writers.

Writing is the process of translating thoughts and images in your mind to the keyboard or the paper as the case may be. In as much, it looks to be a fairly simple process. But when you are writing fiction, those images and thoughts have to follow a particular cadence. They have to be woven into the pattern of logic and sequence. Ask any writer and they will tell you, writing – serious writing – is the hardest thing to do, especially over long periods.

Let me take you through the challenges I have faced as a writer. Let me know if they resound to you.

Initial stages:
When I first thought about writing and ventured to write, I often found this question staring at me in the face and echoing in my ears. Why are you stuck to the keyboard? I had no idea that taking a character through internal monologue could take up a WHOLE EVENING! My family was often exasperated at the amount of time I spent on writing. Their expressions conveyed that they thought I was wasting my time. Their attitude changed with time, but starting out that was a big hurdle to face. I couldn’t explain that the problems of the characters had become more important than the mundane chores of daily routine. Try saying that aloud and you’ll get the idea. We writers live so much in our heads that it takes time to unwrap our concerns from fiction and transfer them to fact. Unfortunately, people around us have no idea what we’re going through. However, I stuck with it, formed a sort of writing routine, disciplined myself not to let writing encroach on family time and eventually they realised writing was here to stay.

During the learning curve of discovering writing was not just art, but also craft, I learnt about:

Grammar
Characters’ motivation.
Realistic setting.
Convincing villains or indeed any secondary characters.
Am I riveted to and surprised by this story?
You might take a note of these things as a checklist for your book.

During the publishing journey:

Like every new writer, I had some vague idea that finishing a book was all that was required to become an author. This was dispelled rapidly when I clicked the submit button and offers of raving publishers failed to materialize. Rejection. Just that word is enough to set up any writer’s back. When we can see the gold in our work, why are the publishers so oblivious to it? It took some attempts to finally have it sink in that finishing a manuscript is just the beginning. Getting published was a real and Avenger style seemingly implausible hurdle. Eventually, I hit upon bright times. I gained a lot of experience. It is not wrong when they say, the failures are those who give up. When you stick to it, the breakthrough comes to you. However, at every step, a steep learning curve awaits you. During this process, I learnt three things:

Contracts are never fair to the writer.
They are not that unfair once you get used to it.
You have to decide what you want out of your writing career: i) Money ii) satisfaction of being published iii) independence to make your decisions regarding your work.
Writing is best regarded as a hobby, not a profession.
Above evaluation is subject to change.
Those are quite hard lessons to learn. But as they say, what doesn’t put you off, you makes you better. Well, they don’t say it. I do J

After getting published:

I’m sure most writers can’t figure out why they are compelled to write. There is just an internal drive. Sometimes it can fade out when the rush of everyday life takes over but it comes back before long. Publishers only accept a handful of submissions depending on the ‘brand’ that they are maintaining. So self publishing makes a lot of sense. However, before stepping into it, it’s essential to review the pointers above.

Once I had taken the decision to self publish, it still didn’t hit until much later how much work was to be done. In self publishing, you are on your own. So, that was really exhilarating in a sense because, well, you OWN your book, blurb, font size, cover and what not! Then it slowly began to sink in that I’d have to work and build these things. And build them to a standard competitive to the publishers’. I was staunchly fixed on one decision. I wasn’t going to splash a lot of money on writing. I had no idea what kind of returns there would be, so lean spending seemed a sensible option. I bought least cost pictures, got hold of free cover maker software and took the plunge. After two months, I was seeing money. It seemed pretty unbelievable at first but gradually, the steady trickle became an accepted fact. However, the moment I relaxed my hold and stopped looking at numbers, the sales fell. It sank in that I was losing writing time because I had to take care of spreading the word about my books.

Marketing

Let me not even touch the subject of marketing. It’s a writing time eating insect which throws you into a perplexing soap opera of doubts. If you are a relatively introvert type like me, you don’t want to have to do anything with it. However, unless you have written just to get rid of the story in your brain with no desire to reach anybody, you want your book to be seen. I heard and absorbed terms like platform, social media, promotions, blog tours. Took quite a while getting used to, I can tell you.
Read the rest of the post at:
https://captivatingmode.wordpress.com/2016/04/07/challenges-i-faced-in-writing/

GUEST POST: 5 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER WRITE A HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Here’s an excerpt from my guest post over at romance thriller author Aarti V Raman’s blog:

I feel I should make it clear that the key word here is not romance but historical.

Don’t take it the wrong way. I love everything to do with dates. I find delving into the dark mysteries of bygone times, intriguing. The prospect of tracing long lost footprints through the lens of my imagination is nothing short of magic to me. But having written and published two historicals, after one very rudimentary effort earlier on, I feel I can talk about writing historical romance with some assurance and I’m pretty sure all historical authors will agree with what I’m saying here.

Why shouldn’t you write a historical?

1. This is something you don’t realize until you actually begin to describe a scene properly in your story. This is especially true if you’re writing fiction set in the ancient world or –like me – in the early middle ages. It starts with an innocent looking gesture you want your character to make. Your hero is holding a drink in his hand… wait, you ask yourself, did they drink back then? Off you go to research wines and after poring through the material available – which consists of researching wine making to its roots and the exact method of preparation of mead – you can finally nod in satisfaction, ah yes, they did.

Wait, you say again, after typing not more than half a word. Would a king have a different sort of alcohol from a commoner? What sort of vessel did they use anyway? Glass, clay or gold? What was the shape of these vessels?

So you see, you can forget about the story. It will take you the whole day just to get that one gesture right.

2. Consider this. At a point in the story, I had to find if my hero could get on a trading ship in order to pilfer it (he sort of needed to) so just in case I had to mention the area etc., I decided to look up the maritime history of the Middle Ages. You wouldn’t believe the stuff I found! Did you know that the ancient ships in India were built without using nails because it was believed the iron immersed in water could be dangerous for the construction?

Trade was rife because of silk and spices produced in the region. Cargo weighing several  was transported – as much as 75 or maybe even more. Even elephants could be transported by sea route. In fact, there are records of transporting rhinoceros and elephants to China by those ships. The more I read, the more fascinating it got. In the ancient times, the trade with the Romans was so flourishing that Roman gold to the tune of 1000,000 pounds found its way into India annually…!

At this time I glance absently at the time – oh my God three hours have gone by! My writing time has evaporated into a thin mist and my WIP reproachfully at me, demanding what has all that got to do with me?

Take it from me, it’s way too hard to stick to just writing when you are working on fiction of the times of yore.

3. Another reason why you should spare yourself the persistent pain of penning a historical is the confusion surrounding ancient history. The more you dig the facts, the more you find them contradicting your earlier findings.

In one instance I had to refer to the humble beginnings of ancient emperor Chandragupta Maurya. There are multiple theories of his origins. Some medieval theorists say he was the son of a Nanda emperor, the lineage which he later defeated. Some ancient texts maintain that he was of a small Kshatriya, warrior, clan. A popular belief holds he was raised by peacock-tamers while it is even postulated that he was the grandson of a peacock-tamer. Which version would the reader find most believable? The process leaves you stymied.

4. Let me not even mention the parlance you unconsciously pick up…

Read the rest at:
https://aartivraman.wordpress.com/2015/08/03/guest-post-5-reasons-why-you-should-never-write-a-historical-romance/

#Wednesdaywritingtips: Sharing #writingtips from #authors

Hello and welcome to another installment of Wednesday writing tips. On Wednesday I put up writing advice pertaining to various arenas of writing given by authors based on their own experience. I started this section as Writerstipswednesday but now think Wednesday writing tips is more suitable, so have renamed it. Many thanks to Devika for her help in selecting the hashtag 🙂 If you share this, please use #Wednesdaywritingtips to connect the posts.

Today I have authors talking about writing craft, using ideas, adding pace to your writing and some plotting advice from yours truly.

Tess Woods, Harper Collins author has this valuable advice about giving your ideas more meaning in your story. She says:

“The best advice I have received with my own writing was to make sure that everything you write about is relevant to the story. If you describe a pet bird, then you better make sure that bird then features somehow in the plot or there was no point mentioning it. This cuts out a lot of excessive descriptions and keeps the pace nice and fast to keep readers engaged.”

Have you had trouble keeping track of your ideas while you try to put them in the plot? Our memory is most treacherous and the things you are sure you will remember will slip out of your grasp.

Sharon Boothroyd of Kishboo e-mag has this to share regarding keeping ideas and reworking them.

“Keep an ideas book, so these ideas can develop into a story. Jot a list of titles, and write a story for the title. Always re-draft rejected stories and think of another place to send them. Start a story with a line of dialogue -a question is a good opening. Describe all the senses in fiction – smell, taste, hearing, touch and sight. Always finish a piece of work. Keep writing!”

Devika Fernando, romance and fantasy author, relates how she adds pace to her writing:

“I find it very useful to write each chapter of my book in a separate Word document in the beginning. It makes it easier to search for something I want to clarify or rewrite during my rounds of revising editing. It also helps me to make sure that I have a good first line that grabs the reader’s attention, and an equally great last line that makes the reader want to find out what happens next. Another advantage is that I feel motivated to write the whole chapter in one go, so I can ‘close’ the document and start afresh on another chapter.”

Those who like to take pen to paper before fingers on the keyboard will resonate with Deep Downer‘s experience. This advertising professional-turned-author has this knack of getting editing done efficiently. His take:

“Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer my fountain pen (a Mont Blanc; yeah I’m a showoff) and a notebook to write the first draft. I feel I write faster that way, and the flow of thought is expedited too.
What it also does is, give me an additional avenue for editing, while I’m typing it on the laptop. That’s my first edit. After I finish typing, I let it rest for a couple of weeks, besides giving my eyes a change of scenery. After the cooling-off period, I open it again, afresh, and start editing the heck out of it. It usually then takes three rounds of editing – with at least a week between each of them – before I send it to the betas and/or start with proofing.”

Thanks Tess, Sharon, Devika and Deep Downer for sharing your writing tactics.

Here’s my input for today: “While plotting your story, do not go into the nitty gritty details. It will take the surprise element out of your writing. If you can’t think of what should happen after X, leave some space and go on to the event Z. Y will come when you get down to writing it. Take my word for it. Who knows you may find Y split into Ya, Yb and so on and you might get some nice subplots to add twists to your tale. So don’t plot too much. Trust the process.”

That’s all for today. Stay tuned for more in writing by following #Wednesdaywritingtips

If you are a published or aspiring author, you are welcome to participate in Wednesday writing tips by sending in your writing tips and sharing those of others. Send in your writing tip for Wednesday writing tips by using contact form of this blog. Please add your website/blog link and a one line bio.

Review versus rating

If you are a writer who has published, you must have had your brush with the reviews and ratings for your book. We all love a five star, don’t we? But it strikes me as I course over the reviews of my book that sometimes even a low rating is okay if the reviewer has appreciated your book and directed the right type of readers or readers who are likely to have a taste for that type of fiction to your book.

So I’d like to ask all authors out there – which is more important to you? A good review or a better rating? Would you be happier if you had a higher rating but the reader left some criticism that you couldn’t digest or a low rating like the situation I described above?

Review versus rating…let’s hear your take on it!

Guest post by Sundari Venkatraman – Tips on being a self-publisher and being successful 

Today I have author Sundari Venkatraman on my blog. She has recently released her new book ‘The Runaway Bridegroom’ on Amazon which is her third self published book. Please welcome her for her chat about how to be a self published author and be successful in this tough market.

Take it away, Sundari! 🙂

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Thank you Summerita Rhayne for asking me about my favourite subject!

As I have mentioned during many interviews, I had tried to get my books into traditional publishing for 13 years. Later, I managed to publish one book through Indireads. But even before Double Jeopardy, I had four and a half books to my name and had published all of them as weekly series on my blog. Luckily for me, Indireads refused to publish these books for whatever reason. When Rubina Ramesh suggested self-publishing them on Amazon, I jumped at the chance. Exploring the option with help of Rasana Atreya’s blog on self-publishing, I found that it’s a very simple process where I needed to invest in a cover and editing only. After that, all I had to do was upload the book and market it.

 

On being successful, I think it was nothing short of a divine plan. I am a fan of social media and have always been active on my blog (Flaming Sun has 5,91,008 hits as I am writing this); facebook, twitter and google+. Having worked for a couple of websites under the Network 18 umbrella, what I realise is that the only way to promote yourself via social media is to promote others.

 

  • Visit blogs and post “relevant” comments (believe me, people know when you post something inane without reading the article)
  • Share others’ posts when you find them relevant or interesting (just ‘like’ing is not enough; that does not help spread the word)
  • “Shout” about other authors’ works (you can be truthful and talk about those that you genuinely found interesting but take that extra few seconds to actually spread the word). When your twitter account is connected to facebook, the post automatically gets tweeted.
  • Create an author page on Amazon and encourage your friends to ‘like’ the page
  • Add all book reviews that you have written to Amazon page. The reviewer ranking works to an extent. I prefer to add on Amazon sites of all countries as the reviewer ranking varies with each one.
  • Most importantly, get yourself a blog tour. I get mine done through The Book Club and believe me when I say that sales soar after the tour. It’s a great help as many bloggers get together to review, spotlight and interview the author. Then there are those guest posts that are gaining popularity. People are keen to know what makes the author tick and a one-question plan works better for blog readers than a lengthy interview.

And the rest, as they say, is history J

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Thanks for sharing your views and experiences, Sundari. It’s lovely to know about your positive and encouraging attitude and I’m with you on this that authors helping authors can multiply visibility for all involved.

This post is a part of the tour for Sundari’s book, ‘The Runaway Bridegroom’

 

 

 

 
THE RUNAWAY BRIDEGROOM
by
Sundari Venkatraman
 
 

Blurb

 
Chanda Maheshwari’s family is shaken when her thirteen-year-old bridegroom Veerendra runs away immediately after the wedding. The eight-year-old child doesn’t even understand the impact on her life. Unable to face their neighbours and friends, the Maheshwaris move from their village to Jaipur and begin a new life in the city.
 
Fourteen years later, Chanda is studying in a Delhi College. She takes up a temporary job at RS Software Pvt. Ltd. and falls head-over-heels for the boss of the operation. But what about  Ranveer Singh? Is he interested in her?
 
Ranveer’s secretary Shikha is desperate to make him fall for her. All she wants is life-long security with a rich man. But it’s nerd Abhimanyu who keeps getting in the way. Abhi is Ranveer’s second-in-command and Shikha isn’t keen on him as she’s eyeing the main chance. 
 
When Ranveer appears to show interest in Chanda, she’s faced with a new problem. Astrologer Vidyasagar insists that she would get back with her husband Veerendra. Does anyone want to know what she wants? 
 
Chanda feels torn between the man she has fallen for and the family values that have been instilled in her. Will she ever find happiness? 
 
Buy @
 




Meet the Author
 
 
Sundari Venkatraman has authored four ebooks so far, The Runaway Bridegroom being the latest. Three of her books, namely, The Malhotra Bride; Meghna and The Runaway Bridegroom have all been self-published on Amazon under the banner of Flaming Sun. All three books are regularly seen on Amazon’s Top 100 Bestsellers’ Contemporary Romances list. 
 
A great fan of Mills & Boon romances over the past four decades, Sundari has always believed in ‘Happily Ever Afters’ and all her books promise happy endings. 
 
The Runaway Bridegroom talks about ‘Child Marriage’, an evil perpetrated even in the 21st century in a country like India. While a large number of the country’s population live in the cities and lead modern lives, there are many who follow old customs unaware of the negative impact on the lives of the younger generation. 
 
The book is a work of fiction and of course does not preach. The author has but made an attempt to bring this ancient custom to the eyes of the modern public around the world while bringing a simple solution to the protagonists, the victims of child marriage. 
 
“I hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I loved writing it,” says Sundari Venkatraman. 
 
You can stalk her @
         
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 Blog hosted by Summerita Rhayne, author of sensual romance, Against All Rules