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Archive for October, 2013

Book blurb – You Can’t Fight A Royal Attraction

My second book with Harlequin will be out soon!! And I have the yummiest book blurb to tempt the readers with…do excuse but I absolutely think so 🙂 Excuse me while I hop, skip and dance away in crazy enthusiasm…

Oh well, I’m back and here’s the blurb I had to share 😀

Playing with fire. Who says it isn’t fun?

The last thing Rihaan needs in his life is to play host to a woman who drives him crazy! Saira is gorgeous, yes, but she’s also wildly infuriating. Yet every time she comes within an inch of him he finds his normally iron-clad control slipping further and further away…

Wanting to protect herself from more heartbreak, Saira knows she should keep her distance from Rihaan —but there’s something about him she just can’t seem to resist… Little does she know that Rihaan is hiding a secret! When it comes to light will it tear them apart —or raise their passion to new, more majestic heights?

It’s coming out in December. Click here to add it to your Want-To-Read on Goodreads.

Platinum day of love

This is my post for the contest Platinum Day of Love

They say love grows – which seems to mean it increases as it becomes older. It doesn’t. How can it – if you already love a person to the fullest? But it matures. It blooms. It can give you happiness like the flowering vine peeking out from between the hard hewn rocks of the daily work-burdened life. Of course sometimes it’s difficult for the delicate vine of love to find its way among the rocks, just as love is difficult to nurture when you are just too busy meeting the demands of day-to-day life including making a living.

After long years of marriage, the initial golden glow wears off. A routine sets in. And you know routines are boring. Life becomes humdrum after the endless repeating of the same pattern. Work, then home, then kids, then again work at home. It goes on in the same re-run. Dealing with the inevitable challenges at the job and bringing up kids who are at times difficult; or any other obstacle to the routine, can really sap your strength.

This year I was facing such a day. It was Valentine’s day. We do believe in Valentine’s day but in the morning, my husband and I hardly had time to wish each other. My husband, a doctor, was working out of the city at that time at a hospital, dealing with over seventy patients per day. I too had my usual busy day. I was used to his coming home late and then he would still be busy, taking care of some admissions plus phone calls from various places etc. It was hectic. I wasn’t expecting anything special. But after dinner, he insisted on taking me out though it was quite late, the roads were almost deserted. But he found a florist who was still open. Painstakingly choosing the freshest blooms, he got for me a most colourful bouquet. Red, peach, pink and yellow, the roses combined to form a heartwarming display and lend their fragrance into my life. The simple gesture meant a lot to me – yes, I’m a sentimental fool – I guess most women are. The thought behind his gesture and the effort, spoke more to me than any valuables money could buy. While returning he went to an open aampapar shop and got aampapar, the dried mango mash, sweet and sour varieties and tamarind rounds. I thought as I savoured the taste that the sour has to complement the sweet. After all we just can’t enjoy only one flavour. And when the sweetness comes after the sourness, it’s all the more treasured.

This is my submission for platinum day of love contest. Yes, love can find you – in the most unexpected ways. The same unexpected way did hubby steal my heart again that day.

Why platinum? Because it’s as timeless, shimmering and as resistant to corrosion of daily wear and tear as true love. 

Ciao!

Five Ways to get past the Writer’s Block

This is an edited post from my old blog. Thought it might be useful for those having one of those days in writing.  So read on…

When words won’t come…

A writer is most happy writing. Yet sometimes our jobs, family life or even writing schedules become so humdrum that words are difficult to put down. Even more likely, the words are there but the will to capture and put them down in proper order just isn’t. This last happens to me more often than not. I can happily daydream perfect sentences and even scenes in my head but when it comes to putting them on paper or the keyboard, it seems too much like work! There is no FUN that writing is supposed to be. So what do we do when we need to get the words from our head to our fingers? Or even get them forming in our head, when creativity just seems as elusive as rain in an Indian summer.
First is it a block? A rock which can’t be got over? Or just a pebble you are looking at from very close up?
Are you making too much of a minor problem? Are you just tired ? That’s the first thing which dries up the drive to write. A good night’s rest or playing hookie from writing if you don’t have a deadline looming can do the trick. It’s very well to tell ourselves we must be regular but Sunday was made for a reason, you know. New experiences, meeting friends, even cooking a new recipe, trying out a new eating place, can all get you away from dwelling too much on your frustrations. Distract yourself from the problem. It has the scientific basis of freeing our synapses from impulse overload so that transmission can resume without the offending psychological fatigue. The reference of psychological fatigue brings us to the next question,

Are you sick of your work in progress?

This doesn’t imply that your work isn’t right or not proceeding the right way. It can just mean that the routine  has got overwhelming. You’ve been ‘living’ inside the heads of the ‘same’ characters day in and out. Thinking in their skin. This can get tiring. It does for me because I write emotional stuff and and to write with feeling can be exhausting. You need to replenish the store. Or sometimes the characters can for whatever reason not just talk to you. (you’ll either get this or think I’m a lost cause.) Staring at the blank page is just not helping. You can do any of these in such a situation :

Take a walk.

I read somewhere it was someone’s top Writer’s Block Curing Tip and it is mine as well. A walk, preferably somewhere you can admire the serenity of nature, will do wonders. Must be why Keats wrote ‘Ode to Autumn.‘ ‘Ode to a Nightangle‘, Robert Frost wrote ‘Birches‘, Wordsworth wrote ‘Daffodils‘. Nature has the magic spray a whiff of which can cure writer’s block and a daily dose serves as a tonic which builds your resistance like Vitamin C building resistance against colds 🙂

Mull in isolation.

Writing begs solitude. Mental if not physical as well. This isn’t always possible. But even if you’re shut up in a room or just not talking to anyone else, it can serve. At a crutch, you can pretend to be reading. If you have music blaring in your ears, it can serve. For me, waiting for something to cook, when family thinks I’m busy in kitchen does the trick 😉 Activities which keep your hands busy while not requiring active mental engagement can serve. Washing dishes, cooking, maybe driving for some…you can devise your own. You can feel and think your characters through in those minutes and sometimes get startling ideas. Of course keep your device or pen handy for these times as memory can be very short term. A blink and it is gone!

Read over what you have written

This can provide insights you have missed. But you must read the right way. The ‘right’ way for me means taking apart every dialogue and thought of the character or characters and see if it really fits them. Have I missed some hidden motivation because I was in too much hurry to pour my thoughts on the keyboard? Or too taken up by the ‘beautiful’ (to me atm anyway) metaphors my brain had come up with? Language and expression has a way of cloaking your character’s real thoughts and motivational twists, I’m still learning this, though it’s happening less frequently than when I began seriously to write. A chance phrase would crop up and I would ignore what my character really would say in a scene just so I could use that phrase which at that time sounded witty. Writing is trickier than driving an obstacle course, I tell you.

Face it, you could just be acting lazy

Yes. Writers are also human beings so why can’t we have our weak moments? But too few of these and you get into the habit of shelving your work. It just wouldn’t call out to you that alluringly if you start to feel it’s a drag. So you have to dredge up enthusiasm when it isn’t there and suddenly after you type half a page, you are IN the story and it’s there. It’s happening. I read in a Reader’s Digest article that the motor system of the brain can influence our emotional state. For instance, smile, even when it’s a plastic smile and sometime later it can become a real one. Start writing, move those muscles, act like you love it and viola! a minute later, you are! Okay, okay sometimes it takes half an hour. BUT YOU GET SOMETHING DONE. Yes, writing is supposed to be something we love to do, but mothers will remember how sometimes kids can make you feel so unloving, yet you mother them. Same is the way with writing. You have to DO it even when you don’t love it. Kick that writer’s block by banging your head against it.

Slack off but only in very small doses. Make up in a big way. Write with love or by gritting your teeth but just write.
Which reminds me, I still have to type the scene that came to me yesterday when I was staring out of the window :p

So did you get anything out of this post? What are your secret tips on beating writer’s block. Do share!

Five tips for Nanowrimo success

It’s that time of the year again. Nanowrimo begins! Soo many of us are gearing up to take part. Are you?

I’m going to share here five tips to meet the furious demand of churning out words and win the coveted badge.

Before you ask, I haven’t won Nanowrimo. Not once. Well, I participated just that occasion. But I have finished 30000 in less than 15 days.  *takes a bow* Twice I’ve also managed  >40k in a month. Of course there are people out there writing more and even more speedily. What can you do to raise your word count, even when you have work and home demands which can be shelved for a short time but not totally ignored? Here are my tips for speed writing your manuscript.

Plan

For some people planning makes them feel more organised while some feel it crushes their creative freedom. However, planning at least the roughest idea of what your book is about, where do you want it to go, etc. will give you a framework of your story. You do plan what genre to write, don’t you? You also plan the location of your story, the characters’ jobs etc. At least during the initial stages of your woriting. So also plan the main dips and curves ahead. Even die hard pansters who ‘wing it’ will find it better going if they have some idea of the main pivotal points and definitely more than an idea of the characters. Their goals. Motivation. Conflict. Otherwise you might find your inkwell and your imagination well drying up before halfway through the month. Might. The advantage of planning is that you still have something to sink your teeth into in those rushed times when your muse gets sluggish. Get your characters charted out. As I mentioned in my short story tips post, one important incident at least from each of their stages of life will help you know the character better.

Choose the story you’re most excited about

What is the thing you have to talk about? The tale it’s ultra important to tell? You can only write when the subject moves you. When you’re bursting to have a go at it. Get thinking. Experience. Find what echoes with you and gets you…no, zings you right into the story world.
If possible write 20-25 pages beforehand. That gives you an idea where you should start the story. I don’t think it’s cheating 🙂 Write them then bury them in some other folder. Start afresh on first November.

Ignore the internal editor

This is self explanatory. It’s very, very easy to get caught in the fatal embrace of internal editor. So it’s crucial that you don’t start with the revision process while you’re writing. This happened to me when I first joined Nano. I went back and read what I wrote and tweaked and tweaked some more…and then I didn’t like this…didn’t like that…it went on and that story is still only 15 pages done 😦 So ignore the temptation to make it ‘just’ a little better. December is waiting to get all that done.

Don’t expect all days to be fruitful

Certain days are bound to be better. I’d write 4k one day then sink to 350 the next. Don’t fret about it. Go catch a movie or read a book. Some days are unproductive; you just can’t help it. But indulging ‘off days’ might be just a case of allowing your imagination the lubricant oil of rest. Once the mind settles, ideas start to filter back. Look out for my upcoming post on writers’ block on how to nurse your creativity back to health. 🙂

Don’t mull on it all the day

You’ll get bored if you keeping things of nothing but your WIP all your waking and sleeping hours. Ultimately, you might start to hate it. It begins to seem like work, instead of fun which it started out being. The moment you get up from in front of the keyboard, try not to go back over what you’ve written. If something brilliant comes to mind, make a note. But don’t go over and over a problem again. If you’ve run into a figurative brick wall, go out and do things in between. Fill your muse with inspiration. Most of us rehash, because when you get a load of writing done, it seems like the most exciting thing in the world but take it from one who did it too many times. Thinking too much about it, spoils your story. Yes, it is the antithesis of my previous planning advice but still it has to be said. Plan what your next scene is going to be within an hour or two of your next writing session. Not before.

Of course all advice in writing varies from individual to individual in its usefulness but these are the general tips to keep you on track. A bonus piece of advice. Don’t limit your writing to your official writing time. Carry your current chapter on your phone, notebook, paper napkin ;)…anything which works for you! In those moments when you have to wait for food to cook, travel somewhere, in the waiting rooms, during lunch break at office…seize the opportunity and scribble. That’s a covert and effective way of building word count. 200 words short sessions pile up into big ones and you get that feeling of achievement which is a spur to do more and more!

Good luck to all Nanowrimo participants all over the world. Go make your manuscript happen.

Did you find these tips worth pursuing? What are your own speed writing secrets? Have you ever won Nano? What most helped you make it? Do share your views.

Link

My interview on the Readdicts’ blog

My interview with one of the Readdicts, Janhvi

Author Interview- Ruchi Vasudeva (Bollywood Fiance For A Day)

Hey guys! Today we have with us Ruchi Vasudeva, the author of Bollywood Fiance For A Day for a fun interview. Do check it out 🙂
AUTHOR INTERVIEW:
 
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
 
I’m a medical professional who lives in Punjab with my husband, two kids and in-laws. Somehow I fell into writing and after much churning and rechurning out of words, my debut book was released this year. I also turned Professor of Physiology and thus August ’13 has become a landmark for me in both my careers. It feels really exciting to have made this far.
2. Describe your book, Bollywood Fiance For A Day in 140 characters or less.
 
She’s been jilted. He’s a superstar out for fun. He drives her crazy with annoyance till she  discovers that he has vulnerabilities too…
3. How did you decide to write Bollywood Fiance For A Day? What inspired you?
 
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how it came into my mind. I was writing a story for the Passions contest held by Harlequin. I had this mental image of a girl who is facing an actor under the glare of cameras and is scared of them. Then the background of another story in which the heroine had been jilted merged into this and poof! I had the heroine true to life in my mind. I sent in the story and luckily I won the contest! Along with other prizes, came an opportunity to develop the story into a novel….read more at the blog http://thereaddicts.blogspot.in/2013/10/author-interview-ruchi-vasudeva.html

Writing a negative protagonist – Three tips

Have you ever written a negative character? What about a negative protagonist? Most writers agree that a character must have flaws. Flaws make a character relatable and grounded. They have her come to life like our own sometimes blundering self. But how deep can those flaws go? What if a character is so entrenched in her goals that she exhibits behavior we wouldn’t expect from a ‘hero’? What if she isn’t an aspiration to the reader? Would you stick to reading such a character past the first chapter?
Sometimes in our life, we show negative shades. We might shout at kids, though it isn’t done, or maybe even react badly to irritations. We might forego others’ needs when we’re caught in our own passions and interests. But we forgive ourselves and move on. Make at times valid and most of the time empty excuses. Mostly these incidents are harmless and understood by people around us. There might be some amount of bad vibrations but mostly the dust settles down.
But in a book, especially a romance novella, do authors have the flexibility to have characters show negative behavior? The heroine, particularly? Recently I read a book in which the heroine was guilty of being unfaithful, not to the hero but her ex. Could anything justify that? I thought it wasn’t done convincingly but the issue was intriguing because of the author’s attempt to explore norms and go beyond the boundaries. That’s the thing about fiction, it’s ever-changing and may have no set black-and-white. Wuthering Heights sets a prime example of characters with less than pleasant shades.
But relating to the category novels, again I’m faced with the question, can it work there? Has the time come to have less beautiful heroines and less perfectly physiqued heroes? But romance novels are more or less fantasy reads, aren’t they? How much can you tamper with fantasy to have a convincing, believable story yet keep that feel-good, oxytocin-inducing elements alive?
Negative traits are hard to accept, be it in people, fiction or romantic fiction. In my view, here’s how you can make it work.
Redemption : If a character finds the true path at the end, their journey through all the error-riddled arc might even be fun to read. It becomes a part of the character’s voyage to discover their true side and hence promises the reader stark optimism, making then stick with the character. But be careful, such a redemption should be hinted at throughout the story. You just can’t morph Joker into Batman all of a sudden.
Positive intermixed with negative: If you have a heroine who wears animal furs, maybe you could balance it with her being devoted to charity work. A protagonist is made up of a mixture of positive and negative so while we disparage the negative we can cheer the positive. Of course the argument remains. How negative? In the above example, I can’t sympathize with the animal killing. Would you?
A plausible past: The character has a reason for being the way they are. That works well to explain their bad side. Past hurts might cause them to behave in this way. In the above example, say, yes, she wears furs but the story might be set in olden times and maybe the heroine thinks of the luxurious fur as symbolic of how far she has come from being a daughter of a slave family. So, speaking for myself, while I can’t really love the character, maybe I can understand and sympathize with her here. What do you think?

I’ve recently finished a rough draft of a novel where the heroine is more negative than positive. She places more value on her goals than even relationships. She’s single minded about following those goals. Which in this instance is not a good thing. And so she must realize. For those who have read my first book Bollywood Fiancé For A Day, this character is a spin-off from the character of Mia in it. If you know Mia, you’ll agree on the quandary I face in making her a protagonist. In the debut book, she isn’t meant to evoke the readers’ sympathy and in fact any editor would advise not to put such a protagonist in a story. But somehow this story happened. One of those where the Muse takes charge and you listen to the story unfold and just put it down. Will I find a place in publishing for this book? In romantic stories, there’s so little scope for negatives. Characters are supposed to be inspiring. Heroines face troubles and heroes take advantage of the opportunity to come close to them. Of course things are changing. But how much?
I’ll keep you posted on what happens with Mia’s story.

What’s your take on negative characters? Do you find Heathcliff and Catherine fascinating or repulsive? Would you write a negative character as protagonist?  Are negative characters ever redeemable? What about negative heroines? Do they have a place in romantic fiction? Would love to hear from you.

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