When Ayan Pal Talks About The Difference Between Search And Research

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, Session 6 will be with Ayan Pal on 21 May 2019, author of ‘Confessions On An Island’.

The difference between search and research

By Ayan Pal

I began my tryst with research during Engineering, not for any academic purpose, but to fuel my passion for writing instead. I was working on a historical crime fantasy set in pre-Independence India and the UK and needed to get my facts right, no matter what.

My primary source of inspiration was my prized possession – The World Book Encyclopaedia, a gift from my mom. However, the golden gilded copies could not help me complete my tour de force. In fact, it was an utter failure. I was simply searching for whatever I could find out and trying to fit them into the plot thus making it lose its level of thrill.

Thus, despite have a rock-solid story, and dollops of imagination, a lack of ‘proper’ research made my writing cumbersome and unpalatable. In short, even the ‘world’ was not enough! Having learned my lesson the hard way, I used any and every opportunity thereafter to understand how research can help one elevate one’s writing and make it more thrilling, irrespective of whether it’s a novel, short story, speech, or even a post on Facebook!

Let me begin with an exercise to try and try to use a plot point through Potassium cyanide – a poison most of you would be familiar with for its many references across crime fiction.

Option 1: It was the 24-year-old Ponnuthurai Sivakumaran from Sri Lanka whose paved the path to avoid interrogation if captured for Tamil Tigers. His act of defiance was simple – swallow cyanide hidden within the uniform as a capsule. As he stumbled upon the ground, his mouth frothing, and beginning a slow painful death, a new militant hero was born.

Debrief 1: The above option is an example of using half-baked research by scrounging through undependable sources like Wikipedia. Even though there is documented evidence about the said militant having committed suicide, his exact age and the details of where the capsule was hidden is clearly a figment of the author’s imagination. The last sentence is an absolute flight of fantasy that is more of an ill-construed opinion not based on facts. For starters, cyanide causes almost instant death, thus making the sentence unrealistic as well as incorrect.

Option 2: An Indian man MP Prasad, a goldsmith, who committed suicide left a hastily scrawled note describing the taste of the fatal toxin, the Hindustan Times newspaper reported on Saturday. “Doctors, potassium cyanide. I have tasted it. It burns the tongue and tastes acrid,” he wrote, according to the paper.

Debrief 2: I have just two words to say here – dull and boring. No attempt has been made here of using a fact to elevate the writing in any which way. While this is an example of great research, where the source is also quoted, is it necessary? Would it have been better maybe had it been done in a subtler way, say an Indian character reading the Sunday Morning Herald in Australia suddenly exclaiming to his wife about the taste of cyanide, causing her to immediately stiffen and get an idea that could change their lives forever?

While the above two pieces of writing, though flawed can actually be appreciated for conducting some sort of research, let’s look at an example that became a social-media sensation for its thrilling tone and seemingly factualness.

Option 3: There was a very recent murder case in Australia where an Indian woman killed her husband by giving him crushed Apple seeds. She & her lover have been convicted and sentenced for 22 years & 25 years in prison. I never knew till now that apple seeds contain Cyanide. I searched for the info & was surprised to find that apple seeds do contain Cyanide. This is also one reason why insects hardly hit an apple crop. They know instinctively maybe. Please ensure that the seeds are removed before eating apples. Especially children should not be given a whole apple. Instead cut, remove the seeds before giving it to them. You can google for the veracity of my observation if you have doubts. And do spread the message around to as many people as you can.

Debrief 3: This post is based on an actual case of cyanide poisoning in Melbourne, Australia where Sofia Samand murdered her husband Sam Abraham along with her former lover Arun Kamalasanan. On 21st of June 2018, the Supreme Court jailed Kamalasanan for 27 years and Sam for 22 years. Shocking, isn’t it? But not entirely true. You see, the actual incident had the woman giving her husband orange juice laced with cyanide. However, this half-truth looks almost believable with Google likely to throw up numerous results about the fact that apple seeds do contain poison. Imagine writing a book or delivering a speech to be recorded for posterity (say a TED Talk) based on fake news. What would that make people think about you?

The need to impregnate a sense of expertise and authority in the reader’s and/or listener’s mind through the use of factual data is a must, provided you vary of sources of data and actually speak with experts if you cannot experience it yourself to ensure you get the facts right no matter what.

In my novel ‘Confessions on an Island’, I have used vivid descriptions as well as dialogs to share a whirlpool of facts that not just help you understand the settings better, but also present clues that you will be able to relate with when the denouement presents itself. It being a psychological thriller, and with me being an Engineer and not doctor, I decided against doctoring the reactions of the characters and/or basing them on what I was most likely to do.

They were instead based by researching about patients who have faced similar mental issues, interacting with people with disorders like Bipolar, and actually feeling some of the many things that the characters faced. There were research and facts, there were various sources, but they were also used in sporadic amounts to ensure the content never overwhelms the countenance.

In my opinion, research is like the thread that holds the pearls of any story together, one that stays in the background and lets the real assets – the story, characters, plot, and twists shine. It is a foundation upon which the greatest of stories can be built. The moment it tries to become a pearl in itself and stand alone as a tour de force, you will end up losing the sheen in your writing, causing the carefully collected pearls to needlessly scatter.

The next time you try and pursue writing your next story, speech, or even that social media post, may the force of research be with you. Amen!

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When Archana Sarat Deconstructs Writing About A Criminal Mind

, Session 5 with Archana Sarat, author of Birds Of Prey and Tit for Tat.

Getting Into a Criminal’s Mind

By Archana Sarat

There are two pillars of a crime novel – A hero, who fights the crime and a criminal who commits the crime in spite of the odds around.

Why should a writer get into a criminal’s mind? 

It is imperative for a writer to do so to get better writing and reading experience. The writer should examine closely the reasons for a criminal to commit a crime because usually, a harsh punishment doesn’t deter a criminal.

How does crime happen?

Though there are multiple reasons, broadly there are three.

  1. The Crimes due to Poverty.  The divide between the rich and the poor is a compelling factor but most often a criminal is known to explain away his stance without any remorse.
  2. The Crimes due to Addiction like Alcohol or drugs
  3. The Crimes due to Passion. Could be psychological issues like neglect during childhood, lack of love or anger issues.

 

Archana also adds that characterization is very important.  Fleshing out a 3-dimensional character who doesn’t disclose his/her true motives and extensions, is a difficult task as a criminal has many shades.  The other challenge is to buildup the criminal and simultaneously get the hero to deconstruct.

  • Research deep into the crime.
  • Analyze the criminal’s mind.
  • A writer should be careful not to give away all the clues at once.
  • Hence multiple drafts are needed to get that added punch. All this hard work will determine how well the novel will get crafted ultimately.

Archana, the author of ‘Birds of Prey‘ was drawn to crime-fiction as she was compelled to talk about child-sexual-abuse. Crime-Thrillers can be used as instruments of change if they can make even one person rethink. If the cause of the crime can be identified and that cause can be done away with, there could be lesser distress.

Archana is in the process of penning another crime-thriller. (Grey Rocks)

As she confesses, writing about a villain or about crimes of passion is more challenging.

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When Archana Sarat Talks About Getting Inside the Criminal’s Mind

Screen Shot 2019-05-04 at 1.40.25 PMCrime writing is an adrenalin-inducing genre of writing. Readomania has a big and proud list of authors and titles from the genre of crime writing and is bringing them all together for the Crime Writing Festival 2019 in the month of May. Throughout this month, every Tuesday and Thursday, Readomania’s thriller authors will feature in live Twitter discussions and answer budding authors’ questions on everything ‘thrilling’.

The Readomania Crime Writing Festival will also hold a contest on the best ‘original short crime fiction’, the winner of which will receive an ebook publishing deal with Readomania’s digital imprint, ReadoShots. There will also be book giveaways to the best question asked twice every week.

So, be on Twitter this whole month of May and tune in to the Readomania Crime Writing Festival 2019.

Here, Archana Sarat talks about ‘getting inside the criminal’s mind‘. It is gripping.

5th session of on by  16/5/19, 8PM on ‘Getting Inside the Criminal’s Mind’ The best question wins a copy of her book.

Getting Inside the Criminal’s Mind

By Archana Sarat

Narrating the story of Swarna, in Birds of Prey, through her own eyes, can easily be called as the biggest writing challenge I’ve faced till now. Here was a woman loved and respected by all; she was timid and caring. She loved children and could never harm another living creature. How could she ever be a criminal? A perusal through the newspaper every day is enough to acclimatize us to the fact that criminals come in all shapes and sizes, gender and background. A qualification, or lack thereof, makes no difference to the mind of a criminal.

Causes of Crime

While the government seems obsessed with dealing with the results of crime, it is the duty of writers to ponder about the causes of crime. When we understand what made our criminal what he is, it helps us write and understand him better. Every criminal is aware of right and wrong and they know the potential consequences of their actions. Still, they can shut off this awareness long enough to commit the crime. While some of them regret their actions later, most of them have a fanciful tale of how it wasn’t their fault.

While all criminals refuse to take personal responsibility for their actions and blame others, there are others who would do ‘anything’ in their pursuit of money, power, and control. Some of our politicians are examples of this! For some criminals, this is an easy way out. Stealing the music player or the tyres of a parked car can be an easy way to fill the pocket when compared to working for an entire week to earn the same money.

Understanding the different kinds of criminals, and the causes that shape them can help us write them better. Poverty is the first and primary reason why most people turn to crime. Sadly, the divide between the haves and have-nots is continuing to get wider; crime will only increase in such a society. It is not surprising that most criminals are from the poorer sections of society.

Not all criminals are poor. Some of the goriest crimes are perpetuated by the ruthless rich. What makes a rich person commit a crime? What drives him? What makes him lose his empathy? A history of childhood neglect and abuse is one of the most common reasons for crime in such sections of society.

Not all criminals are abused. Sometimes, a man has everything —a loving family, a good job, financial security—but still, he becomes a criminal. Mostly, in such situations, the man falls prey to a habit of alcohol or drug abuse. A problem of addiction, coupled with low self-esteem, could prove to be dangerous.

Not all criminals are addicted. Sometimes, a person commits a crime in a moment of passion. A flash of fury can be dangerous if a person does not know how to control his anger. One interesting thing to explore in such situations is why does the person have anger management issues?

Not all criminals are angry. Sometimes, the cause of crime runs deeper. Just like any other physical or mental ailment, this kind of criminal suffers from the lack of a sense of empathy and a sense of understanding. Right from a young age, this criminal cannot control himself from injuring others. Sometimes, he feels guilty too. However, his lack of empathy soon overpowers his guilt and he continues his life of crime. This kind of criminal requires psychiatric help.

Stepping into the Shoes

When I wrote about child sexual abuse in Birds of Prey, one of the first questions that was shot at me was whether the abuse was my personal experience. While I was delighted that I could write in such a manner that readers mistook it for a personal experience, writing those particular chapters was traumatic and distressing.

Before working on those chapters, I read extensively about child sexual abuse. Next, I went through medical examination reports and postmortem reports of actual crimes. Some of them had explicit photographs that still haunt me and give me sleepless nights. After that, I had the opportunity to speak to a few victims. I spent more than a month on this research to understand the level of brutality and callousness needed to perpetuate such crimes.

I put myself into the shoes of the victim and agonized over every hurt and every wound. Words froze and it was one of the worst writer’s blocks that I went through. I couldn’t believe how one could do such things to poor, innocent and helpless children.

It was time to put myself into the shoes of the criminal. This can be one of the most challenging activities for any writer. Unless you are a seasoned criminal yourself, it could be near impossible for you to imagine why you are doing what you are doing. This is where it helps to understand the causes of a crime. Now, you have situations to put yourself into that shows you why you became such a person.

Finally, the words started to flow, and the book was written. Getting into the mind of a criminal and exploring your way through it is a must for every aspiring crime writer. It is definitely not a pleasant experience and could scar you for life, but it makes your writing stronger, sharper and better.

 

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When Anurag Anand Talks About Writing Political Thrillers in Sensitive Times

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Crime writing is an adrenalin-inducing genre of writing. Readomania has a big and proud list of authors and titles from the genre of crime writing and is bringing them all together for the Crime Writing Festival 2019 in the month of May. Throughout this month, every Tuesday and Thursday, Readomania’s thriller authors will feature in live Twitter discussions and answer budding authors’ questions on everything ‘thrilling’.

The Readomania Crime Writing Festival will also hold a contest on the best ‘original short crime fiction’, the winner of which will receive an ebook publishing deal with Readomania’s digital imprint, ReadoShots. There will also be book giveaways to the best question asked twice every week.

So, be on Twitter this whole month of May and tune in to the Readomania Crime Writing Festival 2019.

Here, Anurag Anand talks about political thrillers.

Writing Political Thrillers in Sensitive Times

By Anurag Anand

Cloaks and daggers and a little bit of gore,

A thriller is but life and a tad bit more.

Greed, lust, ambition, and passions,

Myriad motivations make up its core.

Such a cocktail when one sets out to stir,

Of politics and politicians and their heirs…

The rope is tight and the margin so thin,

Of ruffling feathers there’s always a fear.

The times are sensitive, they say…

For, by old rules, they’ve long ceased to play.

There’s the white and there’s the black,

As we go on to write an obituary for the grey.

A writer’s role, as he takes on such a task,

Is, to be honest, and sincere to his readers’ ask.

And to stand by his pen in the wake of accusations,

Of tilting right or to the left or standing on half-mast.

       Politics ranks right up there with Cricket and Bollywood in terms of the passions it ignites amongst us Indians. The myriad characters and machinations that make up the political landscape are discussed and analysed at length at roadside eateries and office cafeterias alike. Come election season and this buzz magnifies, permeating our lives in more ways than one would wish for. It was this widespread appeal of the subject that got me thinking of a story that finally took shape of an exciting political thriller, The Assassination of Rajat Gandy.

Once I was satisfied with the way the story structure had shaped up, I got down to penning its expanded version. This was the easy part. I had enough material from lifelong observation of the Indian political system – greed and lust for power, duality of behavior and fractured moralities – to allow the characters to chart their own course through the pages of the manuscript. Here, the only choice I had to make was whether or not I should mould my characters on real people. I opted for a balanced approach, drawing inspiration from living politicians, but only just. This allowed the story to develop its own unique flavour, without compromising on its relatability for the readers. After all, it was an honest political thriller that I had set out to write.

It was only once the manuscript was ready and I began sending it out to potential publishers that the sensitivity of the subject dawned upon me. Many of the A-list publication houses loved the plot but were weary of commissioning it for they believed it had the potential of ruffling a few feathers. An unwarranted eventuality that they were not willing to risk for the sake of putting out an exciting story.

Their stance wasn’t entirely surprising. The political narrative in the country has never been as polarised as it is now. People are wedded to political ideologies and personalities almost in a manner of blind faith, not willing to acknowledge any faults in those that they side with and unable to see any positives in those that they oppose. I have seen, on social media and otherwise, normal discussions on politics taking ugly turns and friends turning into foes on this account. Passions have undoubtedly been running high, and it is only fair for entities in the publication business then to want to steer clear of any possible controversies.

I went through the manuscript again, chopping, pruning and rewording the potentially flagrant sections, without compromising the essence of the story. I sought opinions from my friends in the legal fraternity as well, before recirculating the story for evaluation. At this stage, I had realised that the one thing that my story couldn’t be accused of – was being politically motivated. If it had to attract brickbats, it would do so from both polarities of the political spectrum. It was an honest story that didn’t take sides. And this, to me, was a source of much confidence as an author. By way of my sincerity of approach, I had managed to create a sense of balance about the story, albeit not in the appeasing sense, and it was now time to put it out there and let the readers pass their verdict.

I was fortunate that the team at Readomania shared my passion and belief in the story and were willing to burn the proverbial midnight oil to get the book out in record time. The Assassination of Rajat Gandy is now out on the stands, and if the initial reader reviews are anything to go by, it has turned out exactly the way I had hoped it would.

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The Awakening

selective focus of cow photo

I sit next to Gauri, the new calf, half mumbling, as she swats the flies off her back with her tail. “They are marrying me off Gauri! Already!” I whisper. “To a man who is as old as Amma.” Gauri nods. She understands everything I tell her. She also doesn’t think I am stupid like the rest of my family.

Amma says, I should be happy. At least I got an alliance. That too without much dowry. They wanted just a calf, to take me! Will you come with me Gauri?” 

Gauri nods again, this time softly. I think she is searching for her mother worried about the impending separation.

*********************************************************

I and Gauri set foot into an alien home, both alone and scared. We become each other’s confidantes. My new husband, though a man, turns out to be an animal in disguise. While Gauri, an animal by birth, is as humane as possible. As I often sit crying next to her, tending to my sores, I see tears in her eyes too.

Why is he so horrible to me Gauri? Doesn’t he see how young and frail I am? Why did Amma marry me off to this monster without any cross-checking? She used to call me her doll. Was I her burden just to be offloaded on any? He doesn’t even let me talk to Amma. I miss her terribly.

Gauri only moos in solidarity.

**********************************************************

Years crawl by. I’m an Amma now. Though I had to abandon my new-born girls, for that flag-bearer of a son. I was still sedated when the husband took the girls away. I shudder when I wonder what was done to them. I never had the courage to ask the husband. I didn’t want to face the ugly truth. Living in ignorance is safer. In hindsight, maybe they had it easier – rather than living in hell.

My routine is spectacularly simple. Rise in the morning, make food, feed the animals and the husband, send the son Shyam to school, work in the farm, wait for the night to fall, wash, cook, eat, wait for the husband to finish his carnal business and roll off while I grit my teeth and stare at the stars twinkling through the holes in the thatched roof, wash myself and fall off to a dreamless sleep.

This routine is so rammed into my barely registering system, that comforting tears have dried up.

Gauri has also become a mother. But in her case, the female progeny are welcomed with festivities.

I still talk to Gauri and she still moos, occasionally nods. But she has become busier and frailer tending to her growing flock.

Days roll by. Uneventfully. Heavily.

*******************************************************

One evening, the husband comes in agitatedly.

We have to safeguard our cows. Nothing is safe around here. We men, are teaming up and will be doing rounds of the village once the night falls. Give me my roti quickly.

As he takes a morsel, he throws the plate and beats the hell out of me.

Bloody woman, been married for so long, yet cannot rustle up a decent meal. Gauri is the only plus point of marrying you.

Taking his lathi he storms off. He doesn’t see that the lathi is blood tinged and that my forehead is bleeding.

After a while, I get up, wash my wounds, apply some turmeric on them and check on Gauri as instructed.

Gauri licks my hand. She knows. She understands.

Husband comes back after hours with his friends. They are all laughing and talking about teaching some wretched infidel, who was caught carting cattle, a bloody lesson. An example has been set and surely there wouldn’t be a repeat. Even if there is, this time there will be mayhem awaiting the scoundrels.

I shudder involuntarily.

The rowdy gang celebrates with Toddy. The friends leave soon. Husband demands freshly cooked food and sex.

I feed him broth and lie down. He hungrily attacks the food and me. This time I feel utterly violated and debased. I have slept with a murderer. That is a new low, if possible, in my utterly nondescript life.

As he snores, I pick up Shyam, my little satchel and run for my life.

Because the broth had a generous quantity of rat poison.

Before that, I cuddle Gauri saying “I have to leave you Gauri for I am just a wife. He will look after you well because you are the cow. This tyranny has to end now…I have tried to stop this monster from hurting more people. In doing so, if I end up dying, so be it. Just breathing, bearing, living is not enough…I have to do more. If I hope to live for some time I have to make a run for it. Destiny willing, we will surely meet someday.

She doesn’t moo. But she agrees.

What happens tomorrow?

That will depend on my catching the early morning train before anyone spots me.

I am Janki and this is my story…So far!

 

‘House-Wife’ Unplugged

promisesThe humble ‘house-wife’ has to be a pro at so many concepts to make sure her house runs like a well-oiled machine. Don’t believe me?

For example –

Chemistry

She can instinctively rattle off what spices go into which item and unnecessary condiments can ruin a culinary delight.

She easily manages to have a rapport with all the teachers and tutors or with the moms of class WhatsApp group

She can smell the chemistry or the budding romance of her brats.


Physics –

She very adroitly balances so many distinct personalities at home.

See-saws between twenty activities simultaneously.

She is the fulcrum. On the flip side, try applying force on her to get work done! You will just have to accelerate your way out of the tempest that could get unleashed.


Maths –

She knows what sells where at what rate.

Commodities pricing is her playground. Try beating her at this purchasing game.

Just watch her divide the food amongst family. No one remains hungry or unhappy. She also remembers every single mark her brat gets, using it to leverage as and when the situation demands.


Arts (Dramatics/History/Linguistics) –

The stories she can spin at bedtime for the moppets can put a Shakespeare to shame 

Her recounting of all the past misdemeanors to win an argument can put the Gyaani Google, out of business.

Words? Words are all she has, to make the heart melt!


EQ – By god, she knows how to make the maids stick and tick. That itself a herculean task to accomplish.

She knows when to pamper the child and when to bullshit the hell out of her brat. Can see through husband’s tall tales uttered to get out of a sticky situation.

IQ – To manage the above said, her IQ has to be stratospheric ain’t it?

Still any doubts?

So, husbands, you have some very big shoes to fill in.

Time to ramp up your act.

Lady, time to flaunt that killer smile and walk ten feet tall!

/author’s note – it is just a funny write-up, no agenda involved whatsoever – Amen */

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Kahani Ek – Teen Endings

 

Kahani #1

“Neha, I’ve chosen a boy for you”

“But Daddy I love someone deeply”

“Girl, Mine works in a Fortune500 company”

“Daddy, mine says I’m his good fortune, has 500 nice things to say about me”

“Neha, my Raj will take you for a cruise on the Thames, for dinner by the Eiffel Tower”

“Daddy, my Rahul will take me to Tirthan and serenade”

“Neha, think about your FB profile after marriage!”

Neha thought deeply.

After fifteen days NehaRaj updated her FB, Instagram with pictures of her honeymoon in Europe with hashtags like #soulmate #truelove

Love is also being practical!

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Kahani #2

“Neha, I have chosen a boy for you”

“But Daddy I love someone else deeply”

“Neha, My choice works in a Fortune 500 company”

“Daddy, my choice says I’m his good fortune and has 500 nice things to say about me”

“Neha, my choice, Raj, will take you for a cruise on the Thames and for dinner by the Eiffel Tower”

“Daddy, my choice Rahul will take me to Nainital and serenade”

“Okay Neha, how do you like your FB profile to look?”

Neha thought deeply.

After a few days, Neha updated her FB profile, Instagram with pictures of her checking into a Grad-School with hashtags like #LoveCanWaitStudiesCan’t  #LifeGoals

Love is also about loving self! Deeply!!

*************************************************************************************

Kahani #3

“Neha, I have chosen a boy for you”

“But Daddy I love someone else deeply”

“Neha, My choice works in a Fortune 500 company”

“Daddy, my choice says I’m his good fortune and has 500 nice things to say about me”

“Neha, my choice, Raj, will take you for a cruise on the Thames and for dinner by the Eiffel Tower”

“Daddy, my choice Rahul will take me to Shimla and serenade”

“Okay Neha, how do you like your FB profile to look?”

Neha thought deeply.

After a few days, Neha Rahul updated her FB profile, Instagram with pictures of her checking into an Airbnb with hashtags like #LoveMakesTheWorldBetter #LifeGoals

Because Rahul completes Neha! Neha treasures Rahul

Because True Love is a difficult treasure to find and hold onto!

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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. 

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