Amma & Beta

IMG_2050I took the bite. And I took the plunge finally, after dawdling over the decision for months.  Thus I have come to the profound conclusion (of course subject to market risks) that Binge Watching might be good for the brain but is terrible for the body!

Now that we have dispensed with the conclusion at the very beginning, let us proceed further.

Though my son and most have been raving about ‘Sacred Games‘ I was skeptical about taking the plunge. Why you may ask. ‘She is a prude‘, you may conclude. Well, you will understand my predicament better, once you understand my watching patterns.

Once the family has been fed to my satisfaction and Hmm-Husband vacillating between IPL and sleep while Darling-Dotty wonders looking at her mountainous pile of books, ‘what is the aim of all this grind?’, I finally settle with my plate of piping hot food for some serious streaming on my laptop, content with the knowledge that I have seen this day through.

When the very first scene is all blood and gore, naturally you can’t chew on it. Neither food nor the scene. But yesterday was different.  I was in a benevolent mood towards self, as I managed to finish penning a chapter. I was willing to traverse the whole nine yards. ‘Sacred Games‘ was my reward. Like a true blue binge watcher, gave up on beauty sleep and finished the entire series in less than 24 hours. ( Let me gloat Ya, a record for me 😀 )

All through Ashwathama…Sarama…Yayati, I plodded on, pushed myself,  ‘ab aayega twist, ab aageya twist.‘ Only to have the end credits roll. Concerned that I might have missed a vital point somewhere, I called my son to reconfirm the plot. Apart from the marriage of convenience between Bollywood, Mantralaya, Police, and Ganglands, with religious violence thrown as a seasoning, what else was in the offing? ( of course, this is a very simplistic and uni-directional summarisation of the two-threaded plot)

Wasn’t all this already dealt with in Satya or in Black-Friday?

My son answered, ‘Maybe so. I will Google about Satya. Some Manoj had an awesome role na?”

I counted till three and said, ‘Bhiku Mhatre! Manoj Bajpai!’  Sonny said, ‘Mom, my generation has loved the clarity, the sheer honesty with which this ganging up together has been shown in Sacred Games. It is very raw.’

I: ‘You mean this marriage of convenience between powers-to-be and unsavory fringe elements of the society?’

Sonny: ‘ Yup mom. You will take time to get this!’

At that moment it hit me of how paleolithic I was.

But I wasn’t giving it up so easily. ‘At least you wouldn’t categorize me as pusillanimous. Would you? I am open to watching a farrago of content’

I thought I had the last word.

Sonny: ‘Looks like someone is getting ‘Tharoorised

Uff! Me thinks, I won’t go bananas. I gotta ‘scale‘ it down and watch the boy’s head weight.

Who knows what will crash and when?

We are headstrong alright! Mommieee!

Revolt of the Lamebren: Book 1 of the Super-Dome Chronicles – Manjiri Prabhu

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What if you are born with a termination date? Would you be ready to die at sixteen?

I’m in the midst of completing ‘Revolt of the Lamebren: Book 1 of the Super-Dome Chronicles‘ by Manjiri Prabhu, the feisty lady who wears many hats –  Director of PILF, a filmmaker and an author – very adroitly.

This book is a captivating Sci-Fi work, which is a commentary on the present times, where the man in his greed for the rapidly depleting environmental resources, has become oblivious to the repercussions. Is doom in store? Will the man script any changes to his destiny? Can compassion become relevant again?

In the Super-Dome of the future, Altklugs are born with the super-knowledge and efficiency of 6.25 human years, in their one year.
Zinnia is one of the Lamebren, normal humans missing the ace inputs in this world. As she and others like her grapple with their clipped, carefully monitored and suffocating life in the Super-Dome, they face the looming threat of their termination dates.
Startling events and unexpected dark secrets reveal the decay, cruel intentions and repercussions of the Altklug world, making Zinnia realize that it is up to her to challenge their pre-decided destiny.
Through a vortex of extreme adversities and life-threatening danger as well as painful self-realization, Zinnia bravely fights the world of the Altklugs for justice and equality.
Would she and her friends ace the fight for the survival of the Lamebren and beat their termination dates?

That is for you, dear reader to pick a copy, read and decipher.

I recently had the opportunity of asking some questions to Manjiri and this is what she had to say. The answers are precise, incisive and straight from the heart!

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a) Authors are often asked this question, but everyone has their own reasons. Why do you write? What motivates you?

I will say the same thing that I have said elsewhere…I write because it’s a need, because I imagine, dream, feel, love and reciprocate.

And because I have a story to extract from my interactions, from my emotions, whether in imagination or reality and turn it into a fictitious reality.

I want to create a world of my own and enjoy the trials and tribulations of the journey and finally when it is done, sit back and let the world see my creation.

I write because I want to create memories, because I want to learn, explore and live many lives and travel with many characters to lands known and unknown. To feel fulfilled, to remind myself how blessed I am!

I write because that’s what I can do . . . …and love to do!

b) How did you decide upon the genre of science fiction for your latest book, ‘Revolt of the Lamebren’, considering you are known as the Agatha Christie of India?

Every story needs to be told differently and every idea needs to unfold in a manner appropriate to its complexity. When I contemplated the world of Altklugs in my mind, it was obviously futuristic and had to be narrated as such. I call it a futuristic reality, hence the treatment is not exactly science fiction, but more a futuristic adventure. So, in a way, my instinct of writing mysteries also played a major role in the writing of this novel.

c) ROL talks of a futuristic world, which is not totally impossible. Did you have to do a lot of research in fleshing out this world? We would love to read some examples of how your research was converted into the world, as depicted in ROL.

It certainly was a tremendous amount of work, which began with the unlearning of what I had always taken for granted. For example, what would trains be called in the future? Or what would video cameras be called? I worked around a lot of combinations and possibilities and finally came up with words like Rattlers for trains, Digi-Eyes for cameras, the Snarl for a forest. Or Dissolution Crypts for Death Chambers. Even the lame-brained children were called Lamebren, lame-brained boy was lamebroy and a lame-brained girl is lamebirl.

The process was very exciting and a huge pleasure when I finally saw the Super-Dome and its inmates, including the Lamebren, take a solid, credible form.

d) Why did you choose women as protagonist and antagonist? Is there a hidden message? Do you think women would rule the world in the future?

Women are powerful beings with untapped power. They have the capacity to rule, create, love and nurture but also an equal capacity to hate, destroy and destruct. A woman has two sides to her and it is up to her which side she wishes to project. By having a female antagonist, I acknowledge this dark side of a woman and her capacity to scheme and be cruel. But by having a female protagonist, I establish more, my faith in her, as she counters and stands against her own dark side.

Yes, definitely women will rule the world in the future. In a way, they already do.

e) Zinnia is a very believable character, a strong, brave and determined person, almost like a role model. Did you draw parallels with what women should be in today’s world?

Zinnia is a lot like my sisters Purnima and Sonia. Strong, brave, intelligent, capable and overly emotional. They will do anything for justice and for what is right. And I do feel that Zinnia is a good example of how to tackle issues. She is a child but yet so mature in her outlook, she cares and loves her friends with abandon, is selfless and possesses a positive, unfailing will. There is a lot to learn from Zinnia.

f) Do you think each of us has a Zinnia within us who is constantly fighting for her independence and identity in this patriarchal and misogynistic world?

I do believe that there is a Zinnia within us, operating at sub-conscious levels, questioning and trying to override established norm. Often subtle.

But most of the times, from what I have seen, we are so conditioned and used to reconciling to a situation because of tradition, parental teachings, other pressures that we forget that the Zinnia in us can actually help us establish a new way of life. But first, it is up to us to acknowledge the need to do so, consciously and then allow the Zinnia in us to question and confront that which goes against our better thinking. But yes, she lives within us.

g) Did you enjoy writing this book more than your crime thrillers? Would you write more of this genre?

I thoroughly enjoy every book I write – its conception, journey, research. I wouldn’t write it otherwise. But yes, The Revolt of the Lamebren provided a unique challenge and it was a completely satisfying experience.  I have two more to write in the trilogy and I am quite looking forward to it.

h)RoL must be read for many reasons. What is that one reason that you think it is?

It should be read to understand that if we aren’t careful, we are going to be heading the Altklug way soon. We already are…My one message is clear – there is no option for love and compassion if we wish to survive as a human race.

i) Are the processes for writing a sci-fi or a destination thriller any different?

Every writer has his or her own process of writing. So do I…I sometimes follow a set pattern, sometimes I allow the pattern to follow my gut instinct. A destination thriller requires meticulous planning and research….I have a responsibility to the destination, the reader as well as myself. In a sci-fi like The Revolt of the Lamebren, since the world is all mine, the responsibility is towards this world, my characters, myself and the reader. I am answerable to my own creation. I believe therein lies the difference. Otherwise largely, plot development etc go through similar dissections and journeys.

j) What do you enjoy reading? Does it help your writing? Would you recommend the same to other writers?

I used to enjoy reading mystery novels and have devoured classics but nowadays, to be really honest, nothing seems to satisfy me. Perhaps the writer in me is too critical, perhaps I am just plain bored with what is being written nowadays. But I have yet to read something that will really excite me. I long for that headiness, that excitement of reading a book non-stop, through meals, throughout the night and which will leave me enraptured at the end of it. I haven’t read such a  book in a long, long time.  But I will find it soon – I am very hopeful, that this phase is temporary and that one super book will find me too!

k) You have done many things in your professional life – films, books, events. Looking back, what do you think excites you the most? Did straddling across so many art forms aid in your creative evolution?

It all depends on what mood I am in. Writing certainly excites me but so does a film. Organizing a Litfest is really hard work and the enjoyment hits after it is over.  On a serious note, though, organizing a Litfest does give me tremendous satisfaction.

But I believe that it is my traveling and writing that has really been responsible for any creative evolution in me. The constant need to seek something out there in the world and try to apply and merge those experiences, ideas, and thoughts into my world of imagination, is a continuous, heady process which requires my hundred percent involvement. That connect with unknown landscapes and cultures, the challenging of boundaries and comfort zones is what keeps me clued in, alert and energized and I feel is the source of all my creative energy.

l) PILF is now an established name. How has been your journey as The Director of PILF?

Challenging, extremely satisfying and exciting. I am very proud of what PILF represents, its uniqueness and its potential.

m) Given the increase in the number of literature festivals, do you think they are losing relevance? What according to you is the main objective, the essence of such a festival?

In my mind, a literature festival has to create an apt platform for writers and creative professionals to meet and create new readers and audience. It has to be aspirational and inspirational. There has to be a definite takeaway for the audience. I wouldn’t say there are too many litfests. How can we, when there are so many authors and only some select few get represented at these litfests? A litfest would only lose its relevance when its focus shifts from writers to something more commercial.

n) What is your future vision for the festival?

Clear and vibrant – a better festival, not bigger; a festival which would never lose sight of its real goal; a festival with a heart and a platform for writers and creative practitioners at all levels of their careers. But mostly I would love to create a world of storybooks and magic and a hub of knowledge and creative energy.

o) RoL was your 10th book and that surely makes you a very senior author. What is your view on the future of reading/writing in India?

Every person I meet is a writer. Stores are cluttered with books. I don’t even know if these books will ever be read or sold. I don’t even know if the books I write will ever be read. But I still write – research and travel and put in the time, energy, money and sit in solitude for months to write a 90000-word book, which I have no clue will ever be read. Why do I do it? Why do so many others? Because of an inherent need to share and express something – ideas, message, something. It’s a crazy need – regardless of the future of the book.

I look at these two as parallel entities -the future of books and writers writing because they believe in it, like two separate islands with nothing to do with each other. I believe that these two islands are quite capable of surviving on their own in the long haul.

p) Given the current pressure on marketing books, is a writer expected to be a complete package? Is writing, only half the deal? What pitfalls should a novice avoid?

Certainly – today a writer is expected to be a writer, an actor, a salesperson, a spokesperson, a host, a magician! Sometimes publishers expect it, sometimes authors go out of their way to draw attention.

A novice should just enjoy writing his novel for a refreshing change, at least his/her first book before he gets sucked into the quagmire called promotions!

q) Is popular and accessible writing far removed from deeper nuanced writing? Or is there a bridge joining the two?

For me, there are only two kinds of books – good books and bad books. Good books can be popular, serious, of any genre, multi-layered, accessible etc. Bad books are just plain bad. No matter who writes them. They have no caste or creed. There is no bridge between the good and bad ones.

r) Finally, what would you want the world to remember you as? Manjiri, the filmmaker, the author or the Director of PILF and other festivals?

Manjiri, the Author!

 

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Verbal Violence

marriage3NO‘ isn’t just a word but a complete sentence in itself. Doesn’t need further clarification! ” – AB senior baritoned intensely on the telly.

Uff! How many times will you see this nonsense? Can I see some news now?” Husband took the remote from my hand – grabbed more like it – and began to get high on that raucous pseudo patriotic renditioning of events by that finger-wagging news-caster. I slid down the bed, turned and began to play with my phone.

Without any preamble, the husband switched off and grabbed me. He was panting already. “No, not today, I’m extremely tired.” I tried pushing him gently but he was on the top as always. “This is an everyday story.” I went flat, both in enthusiasm and position. My eyes were wet. He thought passion made them so but only I knew the truth. The deed done in two minutes, he was snoring almost immediately like a boring machine.

I finally slept in the wee hours after liking random posts, happy-couple pics. I woke up with a murderous rage, wanting to pound someone. Husband had been up already, tending to his flower bed in our tiny balcony.

Morning, Why do you get up so late? Now you will rush for work, leave a mess behind, get caught in the morning traffic and blame everyone else for your slothfulness. No wonder your boss doesn’t give you important tasks.

Luckily my brain was still fogged out to get the full blast of his words.

Don’t sulk now. I made coffee for you and told the cook to pack some sandwiches too. Don’t waste time on trying to reverse my instructions to her. Get ready fast. We are leaving in 40 minutes

I don’t remember when I started switching off at his sermons. I walked into the kitchen to pick up my coffee.

The cook smiled at me. “Morning Didi” I grunted in return.

The coffee tasted bitter. As is usual, health-conscious-he decided that one spoon of sugar is enough, knowing fully well that I liked three. As I added sugar, the cook said, “You are very lucky Didi! Saab looks after you so well!”.

Too well!” I muttered.

Where are the sandwiches?” I was mild enough, taking care not show how I felt about her take on my marriage. After all, the husband needed her fawning culinary skills to keep his six-pack thriving.

I sipped the coffee as I scanned the dailies. “You are still here! Go take a bath. We are leaving in 30 minutes. Wear that red dress of yours. It brings out your black orbs very well. I will pick you up from your office at 6:30pm. We are having drinks with the Das’s.” Husband declared.

What? I told you, we have to visit Raji’s studio! I promised her. Today is the last day of her showing.

We can always see her concoctions at her home. Das is my new boss and we can’t say no to him. Good for my career, good for us. Now, go rush. 25 minutes to the takeoff!

Why don’t you go ahead? I will take time, I need to shampoo. I will take an Uber.

Really! Leave the locking to you? Have you forgotten how you left the balcony door open last time and the monkey came in and wreaked havoc? Why spend on Uber when we both are going in the same direction? Why are you wasting time chitchatting? In twenty minutes, I will get the car out. You better be ready.

A hurried bath, and a clumsy effort at getting dressed, I was finally out at the stipulated time. Husband had banged on the bathroom door restlessly 5 times by then. Thank God for my humungous tote, which gladly accepted the dry shampoo, straightener, Kajal and the works. I could spruce up at leisure in the restroom later. I packed in the red dress too.

Why aren’t wearing the red dress I told you to? And please be more presentable than this! We are meeting my boss, not some hippy friend of yours! God knows what you do with all the designer stuff I buy you.” Husband was visibly angry as he locked the front door after multiple checking on the various doors and switches of the house.

I don’t know when his words stopped stinging. “ I will…” I mumbled incoherently.

He dropped me at my office. The entire ride was spent in silence as a punishment to me for my lethargy. I was grateful for the non-communication though.

At 6:30 sharp! In a better shape than this!” Those were his parting words as he sped away.

Have a good day, you too!” I waved at the disappearing car.

Mom called as I swiped my card. “Have you reached your office? Guess who was visiting us? Son-in-law’s Uncle. I was telling him, how lucky you are! How well the son-in-law looks after you…Pray, when will I get the good news?

Somehow the entire building looked blurred through my moist eyes! I must change my mascara and the Kajal pencil.

They keep making my eyes wet.

When Hemoglobin Bani Low

Around mid-March, this year, I started feeling breathless when I walked short distances or climbed a few stairs. I thought this must be due to the pollution in NCR. Afterall I did have weak lungs, thanks to the TB of glands that I suffered in 2013.

On April 5th, 2018, my novel #WhenPadmaBaniPaula debuted on Amazon.in

This was a dream come true for me. A newbie, with no formal training in writing, no literary connections whatsoever managed to churn out a solo novel in a short span of 4 years. I was delirious with joy and somehow my breathlessness and niggling pains didn’t seem to matter. Almost all the forums that I wrote for were very generous in their support for my debut novel.

As I got busy with the promotional activities, I developed a severe ache in my right hand and my back. I could barely lift my right arm. Most of the time I was on pain-killers. I grit my teeth and tried to march along and soon I barely managed to get any work done.

A dear friend Amar suggested physiotherapy. The doctor checked me up and suggested corrective measures. Shortly, I left for Hyderabad to meet with my parents.

First four days were spent catching up and eating. Soon I met with my mom’s doc for increasing aches. The moment he saw me, he ordered a slew of tests.

And then the biggie was dropped via the test results.

My Hemoglobin level was at 5.6 g/dl.

Hemoglobin levels (7 – 8 g/dL), according to new clinical guidelines from the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) is treated as critical often needing a transfusion. Here I was merrily scamping around with a 5.6. Luckily for me, I tested negative for Sugar, therefore, Diabetes, Thyroid. My Liver and kidneys hadn’t been affected so far, BP was fine though pulse remained pretty high.

The Doctor said I now needed a Hematologist working with a reputed hospital for the next steps. But this new doctor had no appointments till July end. We called in another standby doctor who suggested immediate drip with a series of injections spread over 10 days. The whole thing was spiraling out. Panic was setting in. To think I had come to Hyderabad to chill, meet pals and do a round of bookshops selling #WhenPadmaBaniPaula!

As we were mulling our options, we turned lucky. Almost immediately, we received a call from the hospital. A slot had opened up as a patient had canceled his appointment.

The Hematologist suggested an immediate drip with an injection to absorb the medicines that would be pumped in. The top layer of my digestive tract was gone and hence I could stomach only barely seasoned food.

I still remember the horrible night after the drip. My system took time to this new medication. I had a fever, acute gas attack and my back had given away. I spent the whole night standing and howling loudly.  But in a couple of days, I was on a path to recovery.

All because of my family. My wonderful parents and my loving husband with the support of my Darling_Dotty (and Sonny’s calls). I couldn’t have recovered this fast otherwise. I owe it to them entirely.

Before I left Hyd, I met the Doc again with the tests redone.  My Hemoglobin level now was at 7.9 g/dl. I have to undergo tests every month for the next 4 and I am on medication for at least 3 months.

Now you might wonder dear reader why do I bore you with my medical troubles.

The good doctor said I had been functioning at 30% of my capacity. That boggled the living daylights of me. I could do more if I turned fitter.

Most of us Indian women have a terrible Hemo reading. It has become an accepted norm sadly. Our needs come last. Our health is tended to once the family has been looked after. A Healthy Us is paramount for the smooth running of our family and their greater achievements. Because we are the focal point of our tiny kingdom.

Take your tests today before it becomes dangerous. Invest in yourself. You owe it to self!

And today I climbed 6 flights of stairs and I was barely breathless. Very Happy!!

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Kadam Chhota, Change Bada!

Let me at the very outset confess that I wasn’t going to participate in this.

What could I add that hasn’t been said already? But the recent events in my own small sphere have been instrumental in my penning this post.

Scintillating_Sonny has been interning in a new city. A packed semester left him very little time to finalize a place to stay in his chosen city. Scintillating_Sonny was to stay with his seniors from college for a couple days and then move into his own quarters.

As parents of grown-ups, we are simply expected to stay back and watch the scary proceedings while flaunting a benign understanding smile, with tsunamis exploding in our stomachs. Plus transferring the money as and when required. The itch to set things right is so overpowering that your knuckles turn white because you are holding onto the chairs to control yourself and avoid saying ‘I told you! But you just don’t listen to me!“.

Thanks to GyaaniGoogle, we knew all about his trysts with destiny. I think my hotline with God worked because Scintillating_Sonny soon found a place to stay, where all the checkboxes were ticked. (Well Lord Supreme had to respond. I was buzzing him non-stop, 24/7)

During his stay with his seniors, Sonny made the breakfast every day. As luck would have it when he was vacating the seniors’ house, there were no flatmates present. My boy cleaned the entire kitchen, washed the dishes, restocked the fridge, cleaned up the bathroom too. Like a typical mom, I wailed away singing, “Badi nazo se pali Hamara Banna“. It was Hmm_Husband who brought back some needed clarity. “We should be proud of the way we have raised him. Self-sufficient and highly responsible. Take pride in that and stop moping! He is a survivor!

Bhale hi mere Kadam Chhota ho, yeh Change Bada hi hai!

Because Sonny is completely house-trained. Countless times he has rustled up food for the family while I was busy with my own work. Washed the dishes when the maid didn’t turn up.  Hmm_Husband has been the pusher here, saying everyone needs to contribute to the efficient running of a home.

Right now, in her summer holidays, Darling-Dotty is being trained to look after the morning routine of the kitchen.

As a family, we may not be bringing in the revolution. But we are making a small change in our own sphere, where there is no gender associated with chores and all four of us are equal entities making a beautiful whole.

In the FB group (SeniorSchoolMoms) that I admin, Moms query freely and frankly about the educational options ahead for their children and seek assistance for their teenagers’ troubles like cyberbullying, peer pressure, relationship issues.

 I am happy that I have been able to create a supportive and an idea-sharing platform where Moms could be free of harsh judgments.

My ‘Happy Hours’ are 5-7pm when I tutor teenagers of the condo. No topic is taboo enough. We discuss everything.

I often say that Rational Thinking should be the only religion because increased Misogyny is the vile by-product when misplaced machismo gets heralded as exemplary.

When we raise sorted, rational, fair children, unburdened by the narrow schisms of society, we would have contributed to nation building.

The change begins with me.

Let us keep walking.

Every change begins with a small step, whether it’s a change within your family or the whole country! India’s hero, Padman, had its digital premiere on ZEE5, on 11th May. Don’t miss this inspiring true-life story, on ZEE5. Download the app and subscribe nowFor every subscription, ZEE5 will donate Rs. 5 towards the personal hygiene needs of underprivileged women.

From a Blogger to an Author

 There are many writers who are looking to make the transition from a Blogger to an Author.

How does one go about that?

Typically a blogger is someone who writes about anything that inspires. It could be his/her own experiences, observations, opinions on events of the world. The blogs are individual articles which are short and reflecting a core purpose, like a cookery blog, fashion or a lifestyle blog. These are expected to be updated periodically by the blogger. The blogs typically have images and links to other related websites with all the relevant trending hashtags.

With an individualistic content that attracts eyeballs, a blogger can easily build up a dedicated reader base.

An Author is a composer of a literary work, who can pen a novel, a poem or an essay.

Your novel is a reflection of what you observe, learn, imbibe, execute, implement, give and receive in your life’s journey.

Writing a book tests not just your skills or passion but also your discipline and dedication because it is always a long-term project. Most importantly, it is a herculean task to balance the right ingredients in your book and get it published.

So how does one make the transition? What are the things to keep in mind when one makes the move from a blogger to an author?

1) You should be a storyteller first – An intrinsic one at that. The passion to tell your tale has to come from the gut. Because writing a novel involves stretching a larger canvas, stitching it with a deeper concrete theme.

2) Just as bloggers have networks and platforms to showcase their write-ups, there are enough storytelling platforms with churning discussions. It is a good idea to participate in competitions held by these forums across various levels to assess and hone one’s skills.

3) The harshest truth is that there are more writers per square inch than readers. How does one catch the eyeball? Innovating is the key. Tackling different themes or retelling an old tale on a different scale are some of the methods.

4) Give yourself the vital push needed for being a storyteller. Write at least 500 words every day. Add layers and experiment across genres.

5) The ability to develop a keen perspective on life’s twists and turns helps because your story should convey a point either subtly or bludgeon the same in.

6) Being creative is paradoxically all about continued discipline. Because one needs to be diligent and extremely patient during the multiple iterations that your story undergoes – either due to editor’s or publisher’s suggestions.

7) Editing a book is vastly different from editing a blog simply because blogs are shorter and easier to manage. Editing book spanning thousands of words involves great levels of concentration and effort from the writer.

8) One needs to be open to critique and criticism. Sporting a pachyderm helps when someone dissects your heartfelt tale.

9) Have a support system to fall back on in times of self-doubt. Connect with beta readers who will truly tell the worth of your work

So go ahead and take the leap of faith. Get that story out and get published.

#FreeWebinar – I, Anupama Jain, author of ‘When Padma Bani Paula‘, will share with you my experience as a budding blogger to a published author.

 on Sat, May 26, 2018, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM IST @juggernautbooks 

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Featuring in the Top 100, Hot New Releases in Contemporary Fiction, since its debut. 

Pick your copies on Amazon.

When Padma Bani Paula – The background Story

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What do you do when a seemingly harmless email pops up, asking your permission to publish your story?

First, you check the date. Nope, it ain’t April 1st. Then you pinch yourself. Having screamed out aloud, you then trawl the emailer’s online presence. Once satisfied with the credentials, you then succumb and open the gateways to the dreams, that you didn’t know existed!

Five years back, if someone told me, that I would be a story-teller one day, I would have wryly remarked, ‘that’s a tall story’. After all, I’m not trained in the subtle nuances of this tricky language nor did I harbor any dreams of getting published. Ever! Mind you, I had even declared Florence Nightingale to be a promiscuous one! Well, I thought, that was a terrific adjective. 

But when Readomania gave a new direction to the meandering Moi, I started moonlighting seriously as a tale-spinner. Taken up by my giddy new avatar, my mater and pater took their roles of direction-givers very seriously. I would often get FaceTime lessons from them on sentence formation and grammar intricacies. I finally drew a line when my daughter threatened to do the same.

I learnt early on in life, ‘either you like it or lump it’ and the easiest way to cope with life is to laugh at it. I started dabbling in funny pieces, as they resonated with others.

Readomania ran a couple of story-contests where the requisite genre was humor. I wrote a small story based on the ladies around my condo.

This time the Gods and their Goddesses were solidly on my team, though I hadn’t promised them any special services of 100 laddoos or 10 coconuts. This story struck a chord with Readomania and a germ of a novel was born.

And a meeting with the head-honcho, Dipankar Mukherjee, was set up at a happening coffee-shop.

I still remember the first time, I was going to meet Dipankar. I was figuring out mentally, ways to sound intelligent. This was a novel idea you see! I had to assimilate so much and I was barely equipped.  Meanwhile, my excited young daughter came running and offered me her school notebook (with the school logo, picture, and postal address) to take notes. My husband sagely suggested taking my red pen along.

(I also moonlight as a tutor! I tell you, it is all about confidence! With a straight face, you can pull off so many fast ones on the unsuspecting public 😀 )

If only I had recorded Dipankar’s absolutely nonplussed reaction for posterity! What violent churn of emotions went through his mind as he saw me plot-plotting with a red ink pen in a school notebook! Must have had a second thoughts about the whole deal surely.

Now that the story was progressing well (on paper that is), a laptop was the next natural acquisition. I wanted the best ( My dear Mac-Air, my partner in this writing journey) and I wasn’t settling for a gift. After a slog at work, with my husband playing the Santa, on a cold Christmas afternoon, we brought her home.

The setting was ready, yet there was barely a skeleton of a plot.

How much could you stretch a 200-word story? Stretch I did!

Having wound the story up at 22k, I felt I had arrived. Dipankar was patience personified and it was back to the drawing board. Apparently, I had to add more 😀 So I took expert advice.

Deepti Menon and Vasudha Chandana Gulati read the first draft and gave their inputs. Arpita Banerjee was extremely supportive during the initial stages. Indrani is probably the nicest editor one can ask for. I’m sure Gods were remembered by all of them, at various stages. (My dear supportive fellow Readomaniacs )

It was a tremendous learning experience. Multiple layers were added and characters with enough back stories surfaced. Slowly the story began to stitch itself seamlessly.

During these iterations, for a while, my magnum-opus remained just that.

‘A work in progress’! (just like me)

While the rest of the world zoomed ahead brilliantly, inflicting me with those eternal existential dilemmas.

What is the worst emotional hara-kiri an author can do to self during this waiting period?

Get those very colorful and lyrical invites to the book launches of friends, foes, and countrymen, just to add some gravitas ( more like filling the seats actually ). Talk about rubbing salt on the wounds!

Vexed, I continued to attend those book launches, looked wise, picked up a copy, made some noise about how well my 9th draft was coming along (if someone asked, that is) and dragged myself home.

I became an expert at grinning and bearing it. ‘Someday I shall prevail!’ was my clarion call.

Destiny was with me. And just like that, one fine day, the editor sent a cryptic mail – ‘This is good to go’.

And that’s When AJ Bani Author!

A long cherished dream was finally a reality. I made it!

I don’t know what tomorrow holds nor do I want to unduly worry about it. I want to savor this moment, cherish and lock it up forever. Right now, I feel at the top of the world.

I keep my fingers crossed and pray that the world embraces ‘When Padma Bani Paula’ like Shah Rukh welcomes his heroines – Dono Bahein Poora Phelake :D

WPBP – my second chance at acing Karma!

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My labour of love has reached many homes

Now please utter those three super magical words.
‘Bought Your Book’ 😀

Please click on the link shared below 🏵

https://www.amazon.in/dp/9385854615

#Readomania