Vanity Publishing and the Step-Treatment of Proofing

Over the years I have written quite a few reviews and essays on books and on Indian writing in English. Through my blog, I have been approached by independent (Indie) authors and relatively new publishing houses to review books, freshly published or advance copies. I welcome such opportunities as they open the window to budding writers and new writing styles. I am privileged to read great stories and wonderful storytellers through this exercise. I post reviews on my blog and on online sales portals, like Amazon, and authors and publishers use my reviews on their social media platforms.

Last month, I wrote to a publisher of Indian writing in English, expressing dissatisfaction over the editing quality of a certain book I was reading. To the credit of the publisher, their representative told me they were soliciting an honest review and I should mention about the weak items I encountered. I didn’t feature the book on my blog but shared my review on a sales portal. So far, so good.

Continue reading

Share and Show: bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark

Posted in being me, bookworm | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Words Fail

I am participating in a #poetsforpeace #peace #collaboration initiative hosted by Here is my entry:

In the graveyard of sin
Peace lies buried again
After dying a million deaths
With its comrades
Hope, joy, and harmony
The fiend of hatred
Roams around naked
Feeding on the last fragment
Of another body burnt to dust
A bewildered soul hovers
Eyes awash with fading tears

Have you forsaken me?
The Earth wails to the sky
Sadly the clouds sweep away
Even the endless rain
Cannot wash away the stain
Of the blood of innocents
From an ochre land of depravity
The graveyard of humanity
My Earth is now parched
Throttled with rust and dust
What elixir will quench its thirst?

The contagion of hatred
Flows in their veins unabated
The rulers and the slaves
And their blistering madness
Hardened hearts, spreading fear
Reigning with violent terror
Pieces of white, pale as death
On a chessboard set, King against king
Men fleeting, floating, drowning
Somewhere a child washed ashore
A broken doll with owner no more

Listless hearts pound
In time with the funeral band
Outside the burning walls
A wail rips the skies
Lost in the screaming headlines
Of carnage, pillage, blinding pellets
Mowed down, blasted, bombed
Desperate, despondent, helpless
Humanity breathes its last
Alone in a hospital bed

Merchants of doom
Selling salves for the gloom
Twines that held together
Ripped, shredded, asunder
Pick up the strands
Weave them into shrouds
Questions galore resound
In the hospital corridor
Will he live? Is he dead yet
Maybe injured; None answer
Eyes then wander
To the writing on the wall –
Silence Please!

And so we remain silent
Words lost in defiance
For how do we answer?
The innocence of our children
Asking why we gave them life
In this world of bloody strife
Whom to blame for the misery
Maybe the dictionary
For it hosts synonyms many
For the word Faith
And one of them
Sadly spells as disharmony

How to disperse this gloom
How to change what words mean
Maybe a collective “No”
To this culture of violence
Can give us another chance
To drink to Peace
From the same chalice

Share and Show: bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark

Posted in being me | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Pleasant Surprise in a Small Package

An avid reader, I categorize Indian writing in English in two categories – those by literary writers, who flourish their pen with élan and churn out a great linguistic experience; and those by non-literary writers, who may not use flowery language but have an exciting tale to tell. The Oath by Dr Kalyan C Kankanala is a fascinating book in the second category.

A medico-legal thriller this book attracted me because I love medical stories and am inclined towards legal drama in both books and movies. When you have politics, medicine, and the law thrown in, the book was bound to attract my attention.  Continue reading

Share and Show: bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark

Posted in bookworm | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Of Choices and a Modern Indian Romance

FadeHow do I choose a book? An interesting book blurb is the first criteria and a curious title the other. I also spend time looking at and analysing the book cover. I chose Fade to White by Shreya Dhanwanthary because of the existential question it posed. When I mulled on the title it lead to many connotations – is it about fading into oblivion or the morose eventuality of being wrapped in a shroud. The book cover was more of a mystery. The soft black net against a white background could signify the black of widowhood. I started this book thinking it was about loss closely related to death. In a way it was but not entirely.

Interestingly, a Google search for the metaphor of Fade to White brings up links related to a cinematographic technique.  “When a film ends with the more traditional fade to black, there tends to be a sense of closure. On the other hand, ending with the much less common fade to white seems to create a sense of ambiguity.” – The concept is closely related to life and death. How does this interplay with this book was an interesting quest for me as I started this book.

Continue reading

Share and Show: bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark

Posted in bookworm | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Modern Indian Dystopian Fiction


Against Ambedkar, Against the World by Harsh Trivedi is a treatise on the existential crisis of the modern Indian youth. A fictionalized account in first person this novel traces the germination of the seeds and the final blooming of the questions “Who am I” and “Why am I” in the mind of the 25-year old JNU student, Mayank Trivedi.

Mayank has a complicated life. He is an intellectual in a group of friends, who are not inclined towards mental jogging, he is in love with a Christian, and he is a Brahmin, who does not understand the mechanics of the caste-system. Mayank’s inquiry leads him to the study and commentary on the Manu Smriti and a dope-induced vision of Dr Ambedkar.  In his fictional avatar the writer documents his understanding and interpretation of class-based society, education, and economy of modern India. Needless to say his account is not rose-tinted. His frustration is rendered into a published work, which changes the course of his life.  Continue reading

Share and Show: bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark

Posted in bookworm | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Busyness of Creative Writing

The proliferation of online writing platforms, ebooks, self-publishing, and start-up publishing houses has ensured that today’s creative writer is extremely busy. It’s also business time for creative writers with more options than ever to get a contract as soon as there is a fan-following.

Now this is the catch – the fan-following. With several creative writing platforms and styles, the only way to get paid for your writing, is to first attract readers. It is a chicken and egg story – you have to write well and attract a niche set of readers, who spread the word. And before embarking on your writing journey, you need to define your target audience and how you are going to get them into your fold. Defining a creative strategy, style, and format becomes as imperative as your creative writing skills and indulgence.

Creative writing is truly self-indulgence. You write for pleasure and to express your thoughts and feelings and in the process aim at spreading knowledge, awareness, or entertain your readers. However, creative writing has undergone a paradigm shift with millennials the biggest chunk of our readers. Writing today takes lesser efforts – no more typesetting and multiple retyping of proofread and edited manuscripts. There is more information available for research and reference. One would expect bigger, bulkier reading material but trends have changed because the age of ultra-descriptive writing is passe. Continue reading

Share and Show: bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark

Posted in bookworm | Leave a comment

Ananya – A New Age Fiction

Ananya by Urmila Deshpande is a debut novel. I like reading new Indian writers to understand the trends in modern story telling. Ananya has a strong and good story line and reminded me of Anne Zaidi’s Gulab. The esoteric and paranormal theme with a young girl as a central character, within a family set up, were the common theme that I could find. However, Gulab and Ananya are books demanding independent reading and interpretation.

41WH+3dylWL._SY400_There are two things, which I liked about Ananya. The first one is the freshness of the slightly embossed cover design. This is the second time (recall, The Shimla Paintings) that I really like the book cover of a debut novel.

The other is the theme – a mix of paranormal, parapsychology, child psychology, auras, new age esoteric principles, such as hypnotherapy, astral travel, astrology, meditation, affirmation, kundalini shastra, neuro-linguistic programming (NPL), with a traditional take on the Divine Mother or Devi. You name a metaphysical concept and its mentioned in the book. The book also explores the dynamics of a modern family and has strong female characters.

The story primarily draws on a mother-daughter relationship and concludes in a life-coaching experience. Its amazing how the writer has summarized many and diverse esoteric principles in a small book, that is primarily a narrative by different characters. Considering the vastness of the subject, there was potential for developing more well-rounded characters and to expand on the narrative. By the time I finished the book, I felt that probably Deshpande was influenced by Coehlo’s The Alchemist and was trying to replicate the genre. Had the writer intended to make it a bulkier work there was ample opportunity to play on the elements of horror as well as the emotional aspects.

Ananya wins with its story but falls short as a great literary experience. Proof-reading and editing remain a weak dimension in this book, which otherwise delves into the infinite stratosphere of the spirit world and the soul. I hope the writer is able to tackle this issue in her forthcoming work. Till then, Ananya, can be a good weekend read and can actually answer some basic life questions.

Continue reading

Share and Show: bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark

Posted in bookworm | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Lost (and Found) Writer …

…. that is virtually me. Since, Arti Honrao published the last volume of the Writer’s Ezine, I am like a lost lamb in the woods. I am still reading a lot but there is no more inspiration, no more deadlines. My last set of comprehensive reading was of Tahir Shah’s work, primarily because I wanted to submit a post on this engaging writer and his miraculous travelling experience. I have read his works but I never got down to writing the article that still traverses my mind. There was no Writer’s Ezine to publish it.

I am quite a disciplined person, when it comes to work. I am organized and I love to work within deadlines. It keeps me focussed and most importantly encouraged. I lost the Pole star with the curtain call on the Writer’s Ezine. By March 2016, I was losing my “sanity.” I felt disoriented and depressed. there was a certain creative fire brewing within me and the only way to quell it was to write. Write for whom, remained the pertinent question!

In 2016, I joined Twitter and entered the #brunchbookchallenge by @htbrunch, wherein a reader had to read and tweet about 24 books within the year. An interesting challenge for a prolific reader like me and by April, I was halfway through the book count. I read some amazing books and shared a few thoughts on @htbrunch.

Using Twitter brought me back to one of my earlier dabbles with nanofiction or mirco fiction. I have always loved this genre because I feel it is a writer’s ultimate challenge to keep it short and meaningful. As a professional technical writer, my job entails keeping writing crisp, clear, and concise. And nano fiction brings the same set of instructions to the table, with the beauty of art, and the flavor of literature.

So, I embarked upon this journey and opened a lonely @tweetoeuvre account. The name suggests that it will be a collection of my literary tweets. Soon after starting this account the stories started pouring out. There are amazing stories lined up in each and every moment, and Twitter is just the right medium to get the stories flowing, smoothly, easily, and with a challenge of comprehensive writing. Its a great art to indulge in. Its bringing me out my low phase.

Interestingly, I had written about how Facebook Stole My Blog and kept me away from personal writing and my blog. I still agree with it but I think moving on to Twitter is going to bring me back full circle to a world of writing. And its going to bring me back to my blog so that I can showcase more of my work. Such are the strange ways of social media and the various tools it employs.

As I draw closer to the written word, the universe also conspired in my favor. I got two simultaneous opportunities to read and review the work of new writers. Self-published author, Vasant Dave’s book Trade Winds to Meluhha is keeping me engaged. Another book will soon be reaching me. The lost writer seems to have found herself. May the written word remain strong and vibrant!

Share and Show: bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark

Posted in being me, bookworm, nanofiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Delightful Collection of Thought-Provoking Stories

51g-+WXXsOL__SX349_BO1,204,203,200_Can you judge a book by its cover? It’s a hypothetical question and the answer will vary with individual experiences. However, all readers will agree to the incessant pull of an attractive book cover. The Simla Paintings and Other Stories by Rita Joshi attracts short story lovers with a promising title but what is most alluring is the picturesque book cover. The cover is a painting by Arun Gupta, depicting two girls painting a scene in colonial era Shimla, or Simla, as it was then known. One look at the cover and you are bound to have this beautiful book in your handbag.

The cover painting is not just quaint but metaphorical. Just like it displays a painting within a painting, and features female painters, the book is also a unique collection of embedded stories, all with a female protagonist and feminine theme. The story collection is slim with 6 stories by first time author, Rita Joshi,  and encompasses her feminine views and oft feminist experiences. Sample this line that could make feminists launch into an anti-patriarchal tirade – “The Drama society needs you. Get on this side of college too. You are not married, you’ve got the time. Teach them drama, teach them mime.” Continue reading

Share and Show: bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark

Posted in bookworm | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Abhivyakti – Tell me a story …

… And I will write it for you.

Everybody loves a good story, specially if it’s their own. However, few people have the time or the inclination to put their story in words. The rich and the famous employ biographers, or ghost-writers, or are covered by journalists, and the media, but the real stories from “round the corner” remain in oblivion.

I write, and I edit, and I know that wonderful stories remain untold, unknown, unsought! Not because they are not worthy of being told, but because no one had the time and resources to listen to these stories, and to put them in just the right content, intent, and format, so that the world could read them.

I offer an opportunity to all my friends, acquaintances, readers of my blog and my extended social network, to approach me with their story, in any format – words, thoughts, audio, pictures – and I will weave in the magic of just the right measure of words, imagery, and pace, and give you a piece that you will cherish.

… And this is just the beginning. When we like what we see, we will work on getting the world to read it!

Start today, and bequeath your story to posterity.

Share and Show: bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark

Posted in being me, job | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment