Posts tagged ‘Passions’

Author’s Interview..Ruchi Vasudeva, Mills and Boons, Harlequin Author by Sufia Khatoon

Here’s my interview on Being Bookworms, hosted by Sufia Khatoon.

Welcome to another edition of Being Bookworms Author’s interview session where Sufia Khatoon has interviewed Ruchi Vasudeva, Milland Boons, Harlequin Indian Author, the writer of two successful books Bollywood Fiance for a day and You can’t fight a Royal attraction…

We Being Bookworms team are delighted to welcome Ruchi Vasudeva.

I had a great experience knowing you and reading your work. A review coming soon of Ruchi’s books and I am happy to say that she is a wonderful writer, full of surprises and a very dear friend. We wish her all the best, waiting patiently for you other titles.
Best wishes….Sufia

Q1: Being a doctor how difficult it is to find time for writing and juggling two professions at the same time?

Ans: Thank you for hosting this interview, Sufia. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Juggling a medical career and writing is certainly not something I’d advise anyone to do! *smile* Having a job and family means hands quite full, so at times it gets quite tough to find writing time. To write one needs seclusion and I, at least, write better when I’m either alone or somewhere where there’s no chance of getting disturbed. Which is near impossible because at home every one has a claim on your time. At work too I’m busy. But the good part of a great story idea is that it writes itself. The characters will compel me to tell their story no matter if it’s just fifteen minutes I have free. So, all that word count piles up and holidays and weekends help a lot *grin*Photo

Q2: Writing happened to you with winning the passion contest by Mills and boons, have you always been a writer by heart?

Ans:I think so, yes. I used to write stories and poems when in school. I liked to present my essays in new ways than the usual way of introduction. One favourite starting point for me used to be “since the dawn of civilization” No matter what the topic was, eg value of books or my grandmother’s chair (yes, I was given that topic once) I would start with the dawn of civilization phrase and go on to the topic. It worked quite well *grin*

Q3: To many writing is a form of expression, to some a way of escapism from the mundane lives, What is writing to you?
Ans:A series of ideas popping in my mind and forcing me to put them down! It’s something of a compulsion I’d say *smile*

Q4: How challenging is writing a novel? Does one need to be very serious to take up this profession?

Ans:Oh absolutely. Anyone who wants to write well has to be quite dedicated and determined. There is so much to learn. The craft of writing comes way before the art. So it’s certainly not anything you can do just whiling away the time. On top of that, nowadays, writers have to learn about the publishing and marketing side, study the trends and genres. I’d say as a profession, it’s quite demanding.

Q5: Most of us have a writer in us, but few have that passion to pursue it for life, Do you think having a lot of expectations can be harmful as we know is not easy to get published especially now when everyone seems to write?

Ans:In any profession, we have to begin low and go up. If one is willing to work hard, there is no harm in having ambition and I believe there is no lack of opportunity. But writing offers no time-bound progress as occurs in most other jobs. A book might take ages to sell while another book of the same writer might hit the charts as top seller. Don’t expect miracles but be willing to swot, I’d say. Have goals like making your work the best it can be, rather than unreasonable expectations like winning awards with your first book. Goals make you more focused and productive.

Q6: You first novel Bollywood Fiance for a day seems to have been inspired from Bollywood, and so does your other novels. Tells us how important romance and Bollywood is for Indians and Why doe sit inspire you so much?

Ans:For most Indians the two are nearly synonymous. Bollywood films and especially songs ooze with emotions. I can’t say exactly why I like to think of Bollywood as a setting. It’s something that happens unconsciously; maybe because I have grown up watching movies like YC’s Lamhe and others of that genre.

Q7: You can’t fight a Royal attraction is a sequel to your first book, usually a love story in Mills and boons end in a first novel only. What made you write sequel and telling Saira and Rihaan’s love story? Can we expect another sequel to this story in future?

PhotoAns:It wasn’t really a deliberate effort to make it a sequel. I was discussing ideas with my editor and she wasn’t keen on the one I was suggesting at the time. So I put forward this tentatively because Saira’s character had inspired me during the writing of Bollywood Fiance for a Day itself. My editor Kathryn loved it, so I went ahead and the book was formed.

As for another sequel, I have story ideas in mind for Mia and also for Viren of the second book. But they’re not always easy to chart out. Let’s see what happens.

Q8: How do you start writing your story, Do you start with a plot or just start writing and the characters develop eventually?

Ans:Usually for me the story begins with an idea revolving around two characters. Gradually I flesh out the idea and develop the characters. It takes time to situate the idea into the real world because imagination has no foundation in logic and what initially looks good might turn out silly when you actually write it out. So under the left brain direction, there is a lot of tampering and repair and what eventually emerges is quite different from the original. Once the characters and their world is ready then all I have to do is listen to them and let the story unfold. The writing is fairly quick after that.

Q9: Tell us something about Saira and Rihaan?

Ans:Saira is young and spirited. She believed in love and married early, being a little headstrong. She is the sister of the first book heroine. The marriage didn’t turn out well and now she’s divorced and feeling hurt. She has no career and sees no direction in her life. At this point she meets Rihaan.
Rihaan is a loner and somewhat reclusive. He has no desire to get involved with Saira but out of friendship for her sister and her brother-in-law, he takes her under his wing. However, the attraction between them escalates. A twist of fortune places him at a defining moment in his life when his past collides head-on with his future.

Q10: Are your characters in your novels inspired from real lives? How important is inspiration and travelling for a writer?

Ans:Inspiration happens from real life but only to an extent. I do pick up some traits from real people initially but then as the characters start to speak, they assume their own personality. That’s also because they have their own world, their own past and present. So like every human being they are unique. I might discard the traits I had got inspired from once the characters get their own skin so to speak *smile*
Travelling and interacting with people is important for inspiration, I believe.

Q11: Now to get published most writers are choosing the romance or chiclit genre, knowing this is widely read. Do you think a writer should write form the reader’s point of view or write what he or she observes around rather than following the stereotypes?

Ans:The hardest question to answer is what will sell well. I think writing to expectation can profit neither the reader nor the writer. An easy way to decide what to write is think of what you love to read. These days published works are very genre specific so if you pick your favourite genre, you’ll know what comprises it and you’ll find it easy to write for it. But one shouldn’t be afraid to experiment if one has complete belief in the story. And certainly don’t write romance or chiclit just because they sell good.

Q12: Many Indian writers are doing wonders with their impeccable storytelling skills, but recent writers are lacking it, Can you tell us what our new enthusiastic writers need to focus on?

Ans:I’m myself a relatively new writer so really can’t presume to tell anyone anything. I can share what I have learnt and am still learning about writing. It’s that for one thing, one has to know about the craft of writing. The story structure, the goal, motivation, conflict of the character must be properly charted out. I heard it said and will repeat here : there is no shortcut. You learn to write by writing and by having the attitude to learn. Don’t be in a hurry to get published. Try to hone your skill. Take every rejection as a step to learning more.

Q13: You won the Harper Collins’ short story contest, can you tell us something about it and how do you feel?

Ans:The contest was an initiative of Indiblogger in collaboration with HC India. They asked for love stories inspired by real life situations to be selected for publication in an anthology. It was thrilling to win and I’m looking forward to getting published with them.

Q14: How important is participating in contest for newbies? Does research really help in shaping up a novel?

Ans:Contests are the way publishers are roping in new talent these days. Having won two of them and got a publishing break through both, I’d say they are a great opportunity for writers. Just one should read the guidelines very, very carefully and obey the rules to the letter.
Harlequin holds the Passions contest every season for aspiring Indian authors. Right now this is underway. The last date to submit is 25th Jan, ’14. You can check out the details on Harlequin India website.
Research definitely opens new portals for a host of ideas. The more you research the better you can shape up the story world and the characters. For example in case of Rihaan, the more I learnt about his background, the better I could visualise

Q15: Many assume that writers can earn in millions if once published, tell us how does the publishing thing works, and is it really true that once published, there is no looking back?

Ans:If you sell to a renowned publisher and get a great contract, you can earn well but if you think one or two books will land you in the lap of luxury, then no! You’re sadly mistaken if you presume that!
Writing is a job like any other and you have to work at it and be consistent. It’s probably tougher than most jobs because there are long hours but no paycheck at the end of every month to look forward to, in the beginning. When you sell your first work, it feels as though you have arrived but it’s not so. Be prepared for your expectations and your pride to take a lashing. But stick in there – if you really want to succeed – and gradually you will see results. Since publishing world makes a snail look like a jet plane as far as speed is concerned, you’ll need loads of patience. Make sense of what makes successful writers successful and try to work out those principles. It might help.

Q16: Mills and boons is known for its steamy sex scenes, many feel that its just erotics that mills and boons produces, but that is not entirely true. Did you had nay such inhibitions when you were writing about your characters. Do you think a steamy scene is a must in any love story to make it more real or its better avoided?

Ans:It all depends on the story and the characters. All Mills and Boon are not explicit. Take my book for instance. Mills and Boon have many genres and allow the authors free hand in writing what they are comfortable with. For myself, I leave it to the characters. That said, when you’re writing a love story, you have to show some sensuality to make the emotions convincing.

Q17: When you first touched your published novel and heard praises for it, how did it feel?

Ans:Awesome, absolutely out of this world…I could add more superlatives here because I’d have to use many to describe what I felt. Hearing genuine appreciation from a reader who has harmonized with your work is very rewarding indeed. It’s a feeling hard to beat.

Q18: You are a bookworm we know, which writers inspire you and why?

Ans: Getting published is tough. I know so many authors who are writing, taking care of families as well as tackling a job. I salute all those writers and get inspired to do more by their example.
As for writings, my favourite are Agatha Christie’s whodunnits and GPhotoeorgette Heyer’s timeless Regency novels.

Thanks, Sufia. Enjoyed answering your questions.

Ruchi, Best wishes and lots of love.

Hope you are really liking the way we are bringing you tips and the real world of the writer’s…tells us whom should we interview next
warm regards,
Sufia Khatoon, Being Bookworms

Being Bookworms is a praiseworthy project started by the multi talented Sufia Khatoon. She is artistic, devoted to charity work and dedicated to supporting readers and writers. Being Bookworms is an effort to bring readers and authors together and promote good readership. I congratulate Sufia on her work and wish her the best for future.

Six Tips for Writing First Chapters of Your Story

Nowadays, writing competitions have become quite the thing for publishers to draw in new talent. Having found my way into publishing through a writing contest myself, I’m all for participation in these kind of online hunts. Some require a full manuscript like the Harlequin SYTYCW. Most others however just require your story’s synopsis and a partial. Like the Passions contest that Harlequin holds every season in December-January for aspiring Indian authors. It is ongoing and you can check out the details here. Last date to enter, 25th Jan, ’14.

So how to go about preparing for a contest? They say, well begun is half done. Well prepared is target secured. Any contest is both difficult and rewarding. Difficult as it takes nerves to enter and rewarding because one always learns from experience. Writing contests are no different except that an aspiring writer contestant is especially sensitive to rejection. It’s important when you enter a contest to first keep in mind that ANY outcome is possible. Second, to repeat to yourself, ‘I’ll give it my best shot.’ Over and over. If you do, you’ll have no reproach for yourself at least, however it ends…and who knows you may be next one shortlisted! From my experience of entering writing contests, and winning both of them, I’ve compiled some tips. Also I’ve included the input from all I learnt during the writing of the initial chapters of my first book, Bollywood Fiancé fora Day and the second, You Can’t Fight A Royal Attraction I’ve listed them in order of what looks important to me:

Opening scene: The opening scene should draw the reader in. Right into the world you have created. What is your character doing as the story opens? What is she/he feeling? Is your character worried while driving? Does she accidentally miss the turn signal of car in front? What happened then? Create a situation where the readers (or your judges) can’t help but read on to find out what happens next.

Build a problem: Is your heroine (or hero) in trouble? Why? Who could help her? Why wouldn’t she take help from him? Always go deep into a character’s reasons. Why. That simple word leads to so many possibilities. The late Penny Jordan, romance author extraordinaire once said, the most important of the tips her editor gave her was: always ask why.

Interaction of characters: In romance you have two main characters. Have them in the scene together as soon as possible. That sounds like a tall order for a first chapter. You would say, what about explaining the setting, the situation, the background? But just think, if you don’t show them together here, you may miss the chance to make a strong initial impression. The first chapters, mostly first three are asked for in a partial, should not just set up the story but also hint at the first turning point. So have your characters interacting as soon as possible. Show what the heroine feels for the hero and he for her. How do they happen to be in the situation? Is it planned? Or coincidence? Does she want to avoid him? Will she succeed? Build up the curiosity factor.

Tension: Show the tension between the characters. Awareness. Attraction. Conflict. Does she drop something in her confusion when near him? Most heroes aren’t bumbling but a little tug at his necktie would be endearing, don’t you think? Tension between Hero/heroine is a must in a Mills and Boon! 🙂 And even in other genres, tension, implied and manifest, is a desirable ingredient.

Sympathy for the characters: Have the reader sympathize with your character. If the hero turns the heroine’s troubled aunt out of her house, it’s a very strong conflict between the characters but would the reader sympathize with someone like that? Would you? You’d most likely kick such an insensitive brute. Always keep your character if not lovable, at least understandable. For more on characters, go here.

Make it read-worthy: Last but not least the grammar. Spell check. Read. Revise. Watch your tenses. Double check your verbs. Make your presentation the best it can be. Also always follow the specifications given under the contest rules.

So do remember, begin with a strong opening scene, build a problem, have your characters interact and show tension between them. Make your characters lovable, always spell check and make your work presentable.

Sharing your work can be scary. If you’ve submitted or made a decision to submit your entry to a writing competition, you’re already to be congratulated. If you’re reading this to improve it, double congratulations, because you have decided to go after this writing thing and you’re already interested in making it better. So are you trying your luck? Good luck to all the entrants and remember, if you’re pursuing your dream, you’re a winner!

Write with love,


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