Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Shivaya

Nov 30, 2016

"HOW TO BECOME A BEST SELLER" - Story Mirror Creativity Workshop III

Sharing some of my thoughts on “How to become a Best Seller” from the 3rd Story Mirror CreativityWorkshop, which was organized in association with Story Mirror, ApparaoGalleries, Madras Photo bloggers and Aspiring Authors Group. The  speakers at the workshop were budding author and poet Sulaiman Sait, Director Brindha Sarathy, famous cartoonist of Hindu - foremost Krishna Devotee Keshav and Film Director / Producer as well as a fine Tamil Haiku writer NLingusamy

If you like to know more about the workshop III, please check this post by Madras Photobloggers. For the details on the upcoming Workshop IV on 17th Dec @ Apparao Galleries, please register here and checking on the 'Going' Tab.

HOW TO BECOME A BEST SELLER
The agenda of my talk was to get the aspiring author to understand what goes on behind making a best seller and how a budding writer can work on the ideas to get to the top. The agenda of my workshop was...


And here are the main point from the workshop.

BASICS

First things first , to make your book a best seller, the content is the king. Write a great story with beautiful language, flesh your characters with interesting matter and thoughts, you have a winner at your hands.
Second, as I keep repeating in my talks the powerful words of Milan Kundera, “Any work of art has to have a purpose of its Existence”. Your book has to have a purpose to suastain interest in the long term.
And finally the 3rd basic thing is to “Write the Damn Book” as Naresh Fernandes advised me some years back when I was looking for the way to publish my first book, “Songs of the Mist”. This is what the enthusiastic budding authors forget to do and waste precious amount of time in contemplating, thinking and finding the right / any publisher to publish the book.

MARKETING

Find your champions: The best and the most powerful advise that I can give, in terms of marketing your book, is to find your champions, usually they consist of your friends, relatives and colleagues.

Create your champions: And equally powerful advise you should thing about , in the process of becoming a best seller, is to help others become a best seller. This way you will create your own champions.

APPROACH



Keep the buzz going
Find New angles, Promote in new ways, Launch in new places
Workshops, Book Clubs, Training
Create a platform to share your thoughts, ideas and reach out to your readers
Write something that other’s can find use for e.g my post on Hindu Lit For Life is used as archive for the official Hindu Festival Page. Click here and click on the "Archive Blog" tab. Below is the case for IndiBlogger's BNLF Curtain Raiser, which was used in their portal for their mega blogging event last year, Oct-Nov.



In the end, here are some key points that you need not only to keep in mind but also actively pursue. Sharing also some of the pictures from the Story Mirror Creativity Workshop III. If you would like to attend the upcoming 4th Creativity Workshop, please register here...

Take-aways

1. Advertisements on FB, Twitter and most of the social media’s do give ROI. Personal Emails do, personal interaction do. SO create an email List
2. Keep the interaction going on, help before asking for help
3. Celebrity Endorsements, High Value Influencers, High Profile Publisher’s don’t work in terms of ROI
4. Book Readers, Review Bloggers, Book reading communities work. Get on to them
5. The best turn around is your own website, blog or group is. So create each one of them and invest your time and effort on it.


6. Write the next book, get your book translated, publish Kindle versions of supplementary books
7. Create workshops, help in learning curve of your readers, provide value of your interaction
8. Solve a problem, provide support without any need of reciprocation, become an expert in your niche area
9. Focus on your area of expertise



10. Get one blurb that counts, Get an introduction by some one of authority or expert in your area, ask for their help in spreading the word.
11. Utilise Amazon’s marketing tools

12. Finally, get your champions together, which will come from your family, friends and network.

TO ATTEND THE NEXT WORKSHOP ON 17TH DEC @ APPARAO GALLERIES - CHENNAI, PLEASE CLICK HERE AND CHECK THE 'GOING' TAB.
__
Shashi 
ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

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On Writing Fiction                  

Nov 29, 2016

SPOTLIGHT: "Shadow in the Mirror" by Deepti Menon - A Psychological Thriller

Spotlight is my small effort to support upcoming authors in their effort to reach their readers. And yes, it is FREE, however to be featured in this section, you need to go through a selection process, please click here for details.

Shadow in the Mirror’ by my friend Deepti Menon, published by Readomania is a cliff-hanger in which myriad lives come together. Here, as you read on, you will find many eras colliding, as they are all connected by threads in a tapestry that needs to be unraveled, one thread at a time,


As I interacted with her for this post, I liked her confidence about the book. She feels that through its language, pace and interesting theme her book will engage and sustain the interest of her readers. And as I went through the book “Shadow in the Mirror”, it seems to be true.

“I have always been a staunch supporter of the English language, If my creation ‘Shadow in the Mirror’ stands up like a beacon as an example of good creative writing and a story well told, that will be purpose enough for its existence.” - Deepti Menon

She writes with aesthetic enthusiasm as well as for the sheer love of the written word. She says, “My writing may not have an overt tinge of social value, but it does subconsciously highlight social issues, in its own way.”

“Shadows in the Mirror’ was twelve years in the making. Though she completed writing it in two years, she kept rewriting, editing till it got published in October this year.


BRIEF NOTE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Deepti Menon is the author of two books, ‘Arms and the Woman’ and ‘Deeparadhana’. She has worked as a journalist with several publications, and is now a freelance editor. Short stories with deft twists and tongue-in-cheek articles that tickle the funny bone are her forte. She is working on her next book plan to be published by next year.

Deepti Menon lives with her family in Chennai.

HER INSPIRATIONS
Life itself inspires me to write. Ideas throw themselves at me wherever I am – during a walk in the park, while watching a movie, reading a book, talking to friends, sometimes even during a bout of shopping. Anything that makes me think, smile or shake my head gives me inspiration.

HER CHALLENGES
As I have mentioned above, I love the English language deeply. My biggest challenge was to write a thrilling story that would keep my readers on the edge of their seats, without taking away from the beauty of the language, and without stooping to debase the language in any manner whatsoever.

QUOTES FROM THE BOOK
“It was strange how old memories suddenly flash-bulbed in the mind, flickered for one brilliant moment, and were just as soon lost in oblivion.”

“Suddenly the descending darkness entered her heart, as the moon went behind a cloud. Just like the cloud hanging over our lives, she thought with a shudder.”

“Well-meaning elders would give dollops of good advice to all young couples.  “Name your child ‘Krishna’ and ‘Rama’. If they are naughty and you end up calling out their names a thousand times, you might end up attaining moksha.”

THE STORY
It all begins with a death. Nita, a pregnant woman falling from a balcony becomes the string that unravels the plot. Her death casts a shadow over many lives; her heartbroken father, her husband, and Vinny, a young journalist drawn in by the whiff of foul play and murder.
What follows are stories within stories, eras and worlds colliding with each other, leaving behind splintered relationships and mesmerizing slices of lives that appear to be drawn together and driven apart by the whimsical strings of destiny.
As events cast their shadows ahead to link the stories of Vinny, Kavita, Roma, Krish and Nita in an unrelenting knot, a journey starts to uncover the truth. What is the secret that links Nita’s death to the other characters? Will Vinny be able to unravel the mystery?
From intimate diary entries, letters, to bantering over a meal, and sharing memories while spring cleaning, this novel de-familiarizes the ordinary, presenting a kaleidoscope of our own pasts, broken edges and pulsating hearts.

______

Deepti’s favorite spot for writing is a comfortable armchair in her drawing room, with a little white table on which sits her laptop. She finds it an apt spot because of her books in the shelves all around her. The nearby television set serves the purpose of a much-needed break besides being the heart of her home.

SOME INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT DEEPTI
a. I wear rose-colored spectacles that help me to see the world as a beautiful place. I am a die-hard optimist!
b. I love humor in all its avatars, which is why I enjoy reading PG Wodehouse.
c. I am a proud daughter, mother and grandmother, and enjoy all these roles equally.
d. Being a Sagittarian, I have a tendency to put my foot in my mouth at times.

She considers herself lucky to be in a space where she’s doing exactly what she loves i.e. writing full time. She considers teaching for many years as an achievement of her life as well - interacting with young minds, influencing them, and being influenced by them.

HER FAVORITE
GENRE:
Drama, Literary Fiction and Mystery.
BOOKS:
1. ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ has always been a favorite ever since my mother first narrated it to me. I love the grandeur of the plot, the pace of the action and the realistic characterization. The theme of revenge has also been played out magnificently.
2. Another wonderful book is ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, which brings out the lofty ideals of humanity, equality and the bane of racism. The book is a masterpiece as it reveals how one strong man can uphold his ideals and come out triumphant.

CHECK OUT 'SHADOW IN THE MIRROR' @ STAR MARK AND ODYSSEY
YOU CAN BUY ONLINE AT AMAZON … Click here.

__
Shashi 
ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

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Ink on Water by Shubhrata Prakash                    

Oct 31, 2016

READER: You suffer reading the book 'The Days of Abandonment' by Elena Ferrante

“Women without love lose the light in their eyes, women without love die while they are still alive. “ - Elena Ferrante in her book 'The Days of Abandonment'

Now that I guess will give you a little idea what kind of suffering the book painted as our Sans Serif Book club members plunged into reading after equally powerful reading of '"The Virtue of Selfishness" by Ayn Rand last month. Over a period of time, our Book Club has matured into a serious group of passionate and discerning readers. That was quite evident, when we discussed  with great passion, ‘The Days of Abandonment’ by Elena Ferrante on 27th Oct, at probably the most aesthetic environment of Apparao Galleries. Every one had a perspective to share. We all could relate to ‘The Days of Abandonment’ by Elena Ferrante (link leads to Europa Website of the Author) since each one of us have our own share of pain and difficulties in life.
Let me begin with some of the common underlying thoughts of our members. Most of us agreed that the manner of  the dog ‘Otto’ death was something that we could not digest as well as to the idea of 'how can a mother let her own sick child be sick without being able to get to a doctor'.  Well the author did gave a reason why Olga could not, but I don’t want to give the details here as it is a review, however here is something that I can quote from the book...

“Now I associated it with Otto’s death and it no longer moved me. I discovered that it had become like the memory of the odor of an old man who on a bus, has rubbed off on us the desires of his dying flesh.” - Elena Ferrante
 
Sans Serif Book Club Member's discussing the book
Another thing that stood out from every one’s comment that it was quite difficult to empathise with the situation where Olga, however she was depressed, was not able to open the lock of the door, over such a long period of time.

Having said that, to give credit to Author’s exquisite prose for most of us, it was quite painful to read the book as the raw emotions were sprinkled across the 'almost blood stained' pages Ferrante wrote on.

“In those long hours I was sentinel of grief, keeping watch along with a crowd of dead words.” - Elena Ferrante

I am sure whoever the Author - Elena Ferrante (It's a pseudonym) is and where ever she is, she must be having goose pimples, as we kept remembering her words, talking about her for almost a month and specially so on 27th Oct.
 
Listening to Prema Ma'am's thoughts about the book...
Sujatha Ma'am, Meera and me 
Now before I share my own thoughts about the book and the writing… here is something about the Author…

___
A Brief Note About the Author
Elena Ferrante is the pseudonym of an Italian novelist. Ferrante's books, originally published in Italian, have been translated into English, Dutch, French, German, and Spanish, among other languages. Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels are among her best known works. She was named one of the 100 most influential people on the planet by Time magazine in 2016.

Ferrante is the author of a half dozen novels, the best known of which is the four-volume work known as Neapolitan Novels, about two perceptive and intelligent girls from Naples who try to create lives for themselves within a violent and stultifying culture.  The Story of the Lost Child (2015), which was nominated for the Strega Prize, an Italian literary award.

Ferrante has repeatedly argued that anonymity is a precondition for her work and that keeping her true name out of the spotlight is key to her writing process.

Curtsy: Wikipedia
___

My Thoughts
In the land of Chetan Bhagat, Amish Tripathi and many more authors popular or unknown, including me, we keep trying to be recognized as an author, she chooses to remain anonymous. I salute her for her words…

"Books, once they are written, have no need of their authors."-  Elena Ferrante

To see our name on the book cover, is mainly driven by our ego and then partly by a desire to be recognised as an author by people of divergent fields, sometimes including people from our childhood, schools etc., by whom we would like to be recognised. There are, of course, practical reasons for it too but then purposely denying the recognition, she seems to me to be at the level of detachment, which is preached in the Bhagwat Gita. So I respect Ferrante for that.

Now coming to the book let me begin by quoting these lines…

“I found my self alone, frightened by my own desperation.” - Elena Ferrante

And that’s the beauty of her writing. You suffer reading her words, the pain of Olga. It is so intense that you feel like skipping those painful pages, which was quite difficult for me as I don’t like to leave even one word unread. It is a story of 40 year old woman, Olga, who after marriage was uprooted from her known surroundings and sets up her home in a new town. Ferrante does not waste much time, going straight to the heart of the action in the first page itself as Olga's husband declares his desire to move away.

As the sense of abandonment grew on her with each passing day, she returned to her Poverella - an old abandoned woman from her childhood memories, which in my view created a ulcerous wound that oozed with colors of pain as Ferrante brilliantly painted in her book.
 
“… After a lot of shouting that often woke me up in the middle of the night, that seemed to be flaking the stone off the building and the street as if it had saw teeth - drawn-out cries and laments that reached the piazza…” - Elena Ferrante

As the pages turn over, she begin to resemble more and more like her Poverrella, even taking on her abusing language as preferred means to communicate her deep sense of abandonment.

And as Olga settled deeper into the rigor mortis of her abandonment, she started to question her own feelings and thoughts about her husband in powerful words of Ferrante…

“A long passage of life together, and you think he’s the only man you can be happy with, you credit him with countless critical virtues, and instead he is just a reed that emits sounds of falsehood, you don’t know who he really is, he doesn’t know himself.  We are occasions. We consummate life and lose it because in some long -ago time someone, in the desire to unload his cock inside us, was nice, chose us among women. We take for some sot of kindness addressed to us alone the banal desire for sex. “ - Elena Ferrante

If you look at the book in terms of characters, I felt somewhat cheated, when she did not flesh out Olga’s husband character who had abandoned her. It did leave a gap about why he actually abandoned her? Was it lust for young daughter of his colleague's widow or it was love? It was the only thing that left me asking for more explanation in the book. Love, it seems has its own shades of grey, but her husband was painted more black than the grey it may have been. Probably when Olga reflected these words, it was more for him than herself…

“What a complex foamy mixture a couple is. Even if the relationship shatters and ends, it continues to act in secret pathways, it does not die. It does not want to die.”

5 years earlier, Olga had objected to her husband kissing the young girl, and that’s how the family moved away from hers but still, in my opinion the relationship was based on lust and despite my fellow members objecting to this opinion, I still feel it was lust. The husband had already abandoned Olga, 5 years back. Lust is a powerful driving force as our brains are so  structured to crave after what’s available right then and there.

That was what probably got her to go upto her neighbour one night to feel, as the Author puts it in the pages, as a desirable woman. By end of the encounter, I felt her agony like, paraphrasing the Author, 'unfolding skin to show the raw bleeding wound'.

In the end, let me close my views about the book with a thought… In times of desperation, human mind seeks to do what it can to survive powerful and debilitating emotions or situations and over a period of time it does so by suffering as much as it can, with memory replays again and again. But in the end, it settles down, more resolute and detached. That’s where the beauty of Elena Ferrante’s writing comes into action as she finishes the book with a perfect closure. I would have liked to quote those words, but then it will be a better for you to find your own closure in the book.

However here is a thought from my book, ‘Songs of the Mist’, to give you an idea of what that closer meant to me. 

“People walk out of our life, leaving the sheer emptiness of the background with a clarity that has nowhere to go.” - Calliope in first book of "The Monk Key" series.


Finally leaving you with some quotes from the book “The Days of Abandonment”

“Favor has to be answered by another favor, and the courtesies become a chain that imprisoned us.”

“A long passage of life together, and you think he’s the only man you can be happy with, you credit him with countless critical virtues, and instead he is just a reed that emits sounds of falsehood, you don’t know who he really is, he doesn’t know himself.  We are occasions. We consummate life and lose it because in some long -ago time someone, in the desire to unload his cock inside us, was nice, chose us among women. We take for some sot of kindness addressed to us alone the banal desire for sex. “

“… and I felt something move inside me, a jolt of grief so intense that the tears seemed to me fragments of a crystal object stored for a long time in a secret place and now, because of that movement, shattered into a thousand stabbing shards.  My eyes felt wounded…”


“I thought of beauty as of a constant effort to eliminate corporeality. I wanted him to love my body forgetful of what one knows of bodies. Beauty, I thought anxiously, is this forgetfulness. Or may be not. It was I who believed that his love needed that obsession of mine.”


__
Shashi 
ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

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The Philosophy Book                        

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