Monday, May 22, 2017

Book Review: The Girl Who Loved a Pirate

The Girl Who Loved the Pirate

Blurb: The ‘Pirate of the World’ is locked up in a high-security jail in Malaysia. He is desperate to reunite with Dao-Ming, his girlfriend.
Andy Karan, an undercover spy from India’s top-secret organization, ‘The List’, is on a mission to find his colleague’s murderer in Goa. He has a plan for the pirate. A plan that will kill two birds with one stone.
Their playground is the high seas off the Indian coast. With the all-too-common rave parties in Goa, a new drug called ‘magic’ is altering the inter-gang dynamics.
But can Andy trust the pirate? Or his own instincts in an unfamiliar terrain?

About the Author:

Kulpreet Yadav is a bestselling author, motivational speaker, startup mentor, and Founder-Editor of Open Road Review, the leading ‘Literature and Culture’ online magazine of South Asia. Kulpreet’s latest novel, The Girl Who Loved a Pirate, is India’s first thriller based on marine piracy & hijacking. Passionate about Creative Writing, Kulpreet also mentors aspiring writers at schools and colleges and has spoken at many literary festivals in India & abroad. An ex-armed forces officer, he lives in New Delhi.

My Review:

Andy Karan, an investigative journalist and an undercover agent belonging to India’s secret agency called ‘The List’, takes you with him through this book on an unforgettable adventure that plays out in Goa, Malacca, to the crime filled interiors of the drug mafia and the intriguing world of the Pirate of the world, Ba-Qat.

The author has weaved a memorable love story too into this action thriller between the beautiful Dao-Ming and iron-willed pirate Ba-Qat.

The prologue and the Epilogue gives a different touch to the writing style and throws light upon the character of Andy Karan and the backstory of Ba-Qat respectively.

‘The Girl who loved the Pirate’ is filled with action sequences. The part I liked most was where Ba-Qat captures the North Korean ship. The details the author has included makes sure you will have bitten off half your nails by the time you reach the end of the sequence.

The language is simple and hence the book is an easy read. The depth in the details is proof of the research that must have gone into the writing of this book.

The book takes a bit of time to capture your attention initially, but once it does, it races to the finish line without a hiccup and you turn the last page with the satisfaction of having spent time reading something wonderful. 

Recommended to all thriller lovers.

Rating: 4/5 

Friday, May 19, 2017

This House Of Clay and Water by Faiqa Mansab

On 24th of May 2017, Penguin Random house India will bring you an intriguing story of forbidden love written by the beautiful and talented Faiqa Mansab. 
This House of Clay and Water 
 The lyrical title is taken from the first line from a verse of Shams Tabrez:

In this house of clay and water,

My heart lies waste without you…

Faiqa feels Shams Tabrez wrote this verse for this very story she had to write hundreds of years later. She confesses she is a little mad about words and the connections they can make over time and space.

Follow Faiqa on: Twitter  Penguin  Website Instagram
Faiqa Mansab has a Masters and an MPhil in English literature. She did an MFA in creative writing from Kingston university London in 2014 with a distinction. Her award-winning thesis culminated into This House of Clay and Water. 
She lives in Lahore with her family.  She also teaches creative writing as visiting faculty and conducts creative writing workshops for writers. 

Category: Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Random House India (forthcoming 24th May 2017)
Set in Lahore, This House of Clay and Water explores the lives of two women. Nida, intelligent and lonely, has married into an affluent political family and is desperately searching for some meaning in her existence; and impulsive, lovely Sasha, from the ordinary middle-class, whose longing for designer labels and upmarket places is so frantic that she willingly consorts with rich men who can provide them. Nida and Sasha meet at the famous Daata Sahib dargah and connect—their need to understand why their worlds feel so alien and empty, bringing them together.
On her frequent visits to the dargah, Nida meets the gentle, flute-playing hijra Bhanggi, who sits under a bargadh tree and yearns for acceptance and affection, but is invariably shunned. A friendship—fragile, tentative and tender—develops between the two, both exiles within their own lives; but it flies in the face of all convention and cannot be allowed.
Faiqa Mansab’s accomplished and dazzling debut novel explores the themes of love, betrayal, and loss in the complex, changing world of today’s Pakistan.
Want to read it right away? 

You will have to wait till the 24th of May 2017 to read it. 

But, you can preorder it from the below link.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Gratitude Note for May 2017

May 2017 has been happy from the beginning.

I had my mother giving me company at home, the kid had no school and the hectic blogging month of April was behind me.

 Reminiscing old memories, talking late into the nights and guiding each other in areas of our own expertise became our main pass time.

 While the kid and me introduced Amma to the magic of Google, Whatsapp and YouTube, she patiently corrected the mistakes I was making as a home maker. Teeny tiny tips brought in a world of difference.

Most importantly, I became more disciplined in her presence. Ordering food from outside was not to be heard of, home-made food, that too prepared from fresh ingredients became the norm.

I am grateful to her presence here and for the chance to be able to take care of her.

It became all the more happier day before yesterday when my short story ‘The Rumour’ got published on the Juggernaut App. It also happened to be my brother’s birthday. So, double happiness.
Image Source

At Anitasattic, Anita Nair used to tell us how writers are like scavengers who dig through their pile of memories to create something memorable.

For writing this story, that was exactly what I did!

Many of my friends have contributed to this story unknowingly.

I am especially grateful,

1) To that batch with whom I went on a trip to Munnar as their guide while I was a guest lecturer at GCEK. The story has Munnar as backdrop and I have used memories from that trip to add colour to my story.

2) To that classmate who poured her heart out to me one summer afternoon. I shared the story with her and she loved it. She was happy to read her own experience becoming fodder to a story.

3) To all those fun days spent in ladies’ hostel.

4) To the never-ending laughter riots in the college bus.

5) To all those hours of Antaksharis in class!

Story Blurb:

Rohit broke Tara’s heart when they were in college. She’d sworn never to see him again. But years later they found themselves making a journey together. Herding a bunch of Engineering students in and around Munnar!

The forced teaming up seems like a disaster to Tara. Will it open a can of worms like it had happened years ago?

Read the book here:

Happy to note that it has become the topper of the charts on Juggernaut this week and the short story of the week.

Thank you Universe for all the blessings.

And a big Thank you to Anita Nair for all the encouragement and guidance.
Here is what she tweeted about my book.

Linking this post with #ThankfulThursdays being hosted by Tina or Amrita, Mayuri and Deepa 

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Creative Woman's Journal from Matrikas

“A good journal entry- like a good song, or sketch, or photograph- ought to break up the habitual and lift away the film that forms over the eye, the finger, the tongue, the heart.
 A good journal entry ought to be a love letter to the world.” 
~ Anthony Doerr

I love journaling. Be it the morning pages, creative journals, dream journals, bullet journals, or reading journals; my journals are close to my heart.

Hence, when I received the Creative Woman's Journal from Matrikas for review as part of the 'scribble your heart away' campaign, I was excited beyond words.

Reason? It is the prettiest journal I have ever owned.
Take a look at it yourself.

Isn't it gorgeous? The cover has a beautiful golden feather (or quill) with the word 'write' printed to the right side of the feather. Golden dots decorate the entire cover. I was impressed. A Golden quill that urges to write!


1) Adult Coloring Pages:
This beautiful journal has eight adult coloring pages that feature art inspired by nature. Butterflies, flowers, dragonflies and fruits are printed in these pages waiting for you to color them.

2) Blank Pages to doodle
In order to indulge your creativity further, there are blank pages where you are invited to doodle or draw or paint.

3) Personal memoranda page
This is where you can record your personal details and brand the journal as your own.

4) Places to visit page
A page has been allocated to create a list of places you wish to visit. 

5) Names and Address page
This page is dedicated to recording details about your important friends along with their address.

6) A paper pouch for keeping important papers with an elastic band for safe locking.

7) Sticker pages

Another wow element in the journal are the stickers that cater to your various lists and moods.My favorite one says,'Do it Now.'

8) Books to be read page.

Note down the list of books that you wish to read in this list.

9) Ruled pages

Scribble away your thoughts in the ruled pages that make it easy to write neatly.

10) An elastic band which acts as a pen holder.

Take a look at this video which takes you into the inside pages of the Creative Woman's Journal.

Do you wish to own this journal? Go to the Matrikas Website and order one for yourself.Trust me, it will be worth every penny.

Or if you are a blogger, hop onto their Facebook Fan page for participating in the 'Scribble your Heart Away' campaign-2 and get a chance to review the journal. There are prizes to be won too. Take a look!

Click to enlarge
Hurry, the last date to register is May 12th.

Disclaimer: I received the product for free from Matrikas. The review is unbiased and is my own opinion about the product.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Zodiac Signs and Writers

Long ago during a summer break from school, I came across a small book which predicted that according to my birth star I would become someone who will make a career using words. 

When I told this to my family, they chorused I would become a lawyer. Wasn’t I an expert at winning arguments at home?

But God had different ideas for me. I became a blogger and a writer.

Image source

I believe in all things esoteric. Zodiac signs declare that the movement of the celestial bodies is closely related to human characteristics and behavior. ‘As above, so below’. 

I am fascinated by them. I find they are almost accurate representations of persons as far as my experiences go.

I found this interesting list on the internet where writers are classified according to their Zodiac signs. 

According to this list, I belong to the category of ‘The Haunted Mythologist’. 

I have many eminent authors like Sylvia Plath, Neil Gaiman, Fyodor Dostoevsky, John Keats, Chinua Achebe and Margarette Atwood for the company. What a blessed list!

Apart from such fun classifications, writers can use the Zodiac list to create character sketches.

While I was writing my debut novel, in my first draft, I had written the male lead as a September born. 

But as the story required his birthday to fall in the month of July when the female lead visits his place, I changed his birthday to July 3 in the second draft. 

Then while researching for adding details to my characters, I came across a Zodiac description of Cancer men (men born between June 21-July22).

 I was completely shocked as the characteristics I had described in my hero was typical of a Cancer man. That too considering that I had completed writing the first draft of the story assuming he was born on a different date.

 I used my research in my book also which was loved by many readers who wrote to me about it.

After this discovery, I check the compatibility of the star signs of my protagonists after I assign them their fictional date of births. 

If they are not compatible, they need to change their birthdays without delay. (*Wink) 

I believe the characters we write about in our stories do exist somewhere. The infinite source from where we writers get our ideas is, in fact, the supreme consciousness.

 Hence, we are tapping into something divine, which becomes solid and 3-dimensional through the words that we use to narrate our stories. 

Do you believe in Zodiac Signs?

 During this A-Z April Challenge, I am exploring the A-Z journey of writing a Novel with examples from Literature.

The Letter of the day is Z

Linking this post  to Blogging from A-Z

Have you read the Letters A, B, C, D, EFGH  I  J K  L M N  O P Q R  S T U V W X and Y?

Saturday, April 29, 2017

You Can Become a Published Author

According to statistics, 90% of bloggers aspire to become a published author. Out of that 97% do not finish writing what they begin. 

If you have written a novel, congratulate yourself, sit back and bask in the glory. You persisted in chasing your dream while the others were busy being busy. You have become a member of that rare 3% who succeeds in completing their novel.

April A-Z Challenge this time might change this statistic I guess. The percentage of people who are going to emerge as winners are surely going to be very high. People who persist for a whole month, writing every day for a month.

 Blogchatter is going to guide the A-Zers registered with them to publish their eBook using their A-Z posts, get it reviewed and market it as well.

A book is born through hours and hours of dedication. There is no short cut.

As Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

In this era, publishing has become easy with the advent of many self-publishing platforms like Amazon, CreateSpace, Kobo etc, authors are able to find a platform for their stories easily. Get a detailed insight into the various online platforms available here.

Many of the bloggers I know are publishing eBooks based on their A-Z challenge.

Anmol Rawat is planning to terrorize his readers with an A-Z anthology of Horror stories.

Tina Basu is about to make her readers drool with an eBook of desserts.

Paresh Godhwani is writing an A-Z memoir about Travel in the Local Train.

Dr. Amrita Basu is publishing an eBook about the A-Z of fruits.

Vinodini Iyer is publishing a collection of A-Z letters to her son filled with wisdom to face life in its many facets.

Deepa Malhotra Gandhi’s eBook is filled with A-Z parental wisdom.

Mayuri’s eBook is a collection of her favorite Indian sweets with an associated memory or incident from her life.

Roma Gupta Sinha is writing a heartwarming love story.

Upasna is writing the A-Z about minimalism.

Many of these bloggers are already published authors. This time they are taking the e-route via Blogchatter. 

If you wish to read these posts before they are taken down, rush to their blogs.

Though my initial intent was to convert my A-Z posts into an eBook, I realized these posts were bringing organic traffic to my blog as my theme was A-Z essentials of writing a Novel, which is a much-searched topic online. Hence these posts will remain on my blog.

As this month is proving, the distance to getting published can be just a month.

Are you planning to publish an eBook using your A-Z posts?

During this A-Z April Challenge, I am exploring the A-Z journey of writing a Novel with examples from Literature.

The Letter of the day is Y

Linking this post  to Blogging from A-Z

Have you read the Letters A, B, C, D, EFGH  I  J K  L M N  O P Q R  S T U V W X?

Friday, April 28, 2017

X-Ray Vision for Editing

Once we finish polishing the final draft of the novel, the next process is submitting it to an editor for in-depth editing.  This is the final and most important step in the creation of the novel.
Image Source

The editor we employ needs to understand what we want to convey through our book.
I have read books where the editing was pathetic.

Recently, I beta-read a book after its final draft and found it wonderful. When the book got published, it had lost all its magic. During the editing process, in order to conform to their word count limits, the editor had cut out many scenes which were crucial to the story and gave depth to the characters. I felt so bad for the writer.

Another book I beta-read and gave feedback as having many excesses came out like a shining gem after being edited by a brilliant editor.

This kind of X-ray vision is what we seek in an editor. The ability to step into the shoes of the writer and reader simultaneously to understand both the perspectives. The editor needs to use his/her X-ray vision to study the following details.
  1. What does the writer want to convey in the various scenes? 
  2. Will the reader understand what the writer wants to convey?
  3.  Is the scene necessary?
  4.  Is the writing concise and apt?
  5. Is the prose grammatically correct?
  6. Are there plot holes?
  7. Are all the threads closed at the end of the book?
  8. Are the characters three dimensional?
  9. Is the showing and telling balanced?
  10. Is the word count appropriate for the genre?

Editing is categorized into developmental editing, line editing, copyediting, and proofreading. Usually, in a publishing firm, different editors are in charge of each of these tasks.

Developmental editing looks at the big picture and analyses the entire story for inconsistencies in the story arc, character arc, plot holes etc.

Line editing is the editing at a paragraph level where each paragraph is given attention to and scrutinized.

Copyediting looks after the grammar, usage and consistency issues.

Proofreading addresses how things look on the page. Typos, repeated words etc are weeded out.

Kill your darlings is the favorite phrase of the editors. But the writer should have faith in his/her story and the final word should always be theirs. The darlings need not always die.

We should not allow any editor to mutilate our creations. If they enhance our writing with good editing, well and good. But if they strip down the essentials, it is time to put your foot down.

As the writer of the story, we often have the characters fully developed in our mind. We often know what drives them, their likes and dislikes.

 In order to show them in their true magnificence, we often add scenes which flesh them out on the pages. An editor might think they are not necessary.

 If it so happens, explain why you did it and why the scene is important. If the editor can convince you why it is not needed, then go with it.

Otherwise, stick to your opinion and convince them why it is necessary with valid arguments.

After all, it is your story and you should tell it your way.  

During this A-Z April Challenge, I am exploring the A-Z journey of writing a Novel with examples from Literature.

The Letter of the day is X

Linking this post  to Blogging from A-Z

Have you read the Letters A, B, C, D, EFGH  I  J K  L M N  O P Q R  S T U V and W?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

What If Questions

What if questions govern a writer’s life in a multitude of ways.

To begin with, it helps a writer create.

A story idea might originate from a simple ‘what if’ question.  A spectacular twist in the story comes out of a ‘what if’ idea.

The various dimensions of a character become evident as answers to different what if questions. The pace of the story, the character arc, the climax, the ending… every element becomes different from a similar story when the writer attempts to give life to a ‘what if’ idea.

A writer brings in variety and newness into the scene ideas, the dialogues, and the conflicts by asking many what if questions.

What if the villain turned out to be an extraterrestrial? Such a question is bound to change the genre of the story.

What if the characters begin to speak as if they were given different scripts? It can lead to hilarious situations or create conflicts.

What if one of the characters dies unexpectedly? This technique is widely used. ‘Kill your darlings’ is a tactic often adopted by authors when writing a book series. The Harry porter series sees the death of at least one prominent character in each book.

Yet, ‘What if’ questions also hinder creativity. It is one of the main questions that can bring in fear. 

Some of the common what if questions that trouble writers right from the beginning of their writing career are:
What if I am not meant to be a writer?
What if I am not able to complete this novel that I have begun?
What if this book turns out to be the worst book ever?
What if I face multiple rejections from agents and publishers?
What if the book never gets published?
What if the readers hate what I write?
What if the critics tear my book apart?
What if this book doesn’t match the popularity of the previous one?
What if I earn peanuts as a writer?

What if… such fears haunt the writer and the result is often ‘Writer’s Block’.

It is for us to decide whether we will use this simple phrase to create a question that will make us create or block our creativity.

Do you think what if questions are powerful?

During this A-Z April Challenge, I am exploring the A-Z journey of writing a Novel with examples from Literature.

The Letter of the day is W

Linking this post  to Blogging from A-Z

Have you read the Letters A, B, C, D, EFGH  I  J K  L M N  O P Q R  S T U and V?


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