Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Book Spotlight: The Secret of Plants in the Environment by Rishikesh Upadhyay

Plants are sessile organisms that are unable to move but face the challenge of ever-changing or adverse environments. The study of the development of environmental changes in tolerant plants is fundamental for the maintenance and streamlining of high crop yields and plant adaptation in natural environments. The identification of genes that lead to changes or stress tolerance is urgently needed for the growth and development of plants in their natural environment.

The Secret of Plants in the Environment addresses environmental concerns such as the different types of stress situations and plant adaptation to changing environments, including the positive and negative effects of stress on the growth of crops, the beginning stages of plant life cycles, and plant output. This book seeks to discuss the impact of environmental changes or stress on plant life, environmental stress physiology, and adaptation mechanisms. It highlights the impact of environmental stresses on plants and crops under changing environments and gives a comprehensive overview of how plants respond to such environments. It also dwells on some important aspects of environmental change or stress as the main issue affecting the survival of plants at the early stages of their life cycle. In addition, it serves as a helpful guide to the students and to all professionals engaged in teaching and research on environmental-related subjects.

Book Links:

Amazon   Barnes & Noble

About the author: 

Rishikesh Upadhyay is an Indian author, lecturer and research writer.

Currently, he is a lecturer of Plant Stress Biology and Biochemistry in Assam University affiliated college, India. He believes in and writes about Plants and its environment. Much of his work is confined to teaching and researching physio-biochemical and environmental stress responses in plants. 

 Connect with the author on:

Twitter Goodreads Bookbub

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Without You: 6 lessons I learned from my debut book

Last month marked the 6th year anniversary of my debut novel 'Without You'. The paperback of the book was released on June 3, 2015.

'Without You' marked the birth of a novelist. It also assured me that I could create a story that could grab the attention of readers. But it gave me many life lessons as well.

Let me share some of the lessons I learned through my debut book. Hope you find these lessons informative as well.

1) You cannot please every reader

Even though the majority of the readers have loved the book, there were odd voices here and there who absolutely hated the book. These voices and opinions emerge every now and then. Initially, it hurt to see my book baby torn to pieces by ruthless reviewers. Now I accept the fact that not every reader is going to love my book. It is all about perceptions. Ignore haters. Take feedback from genuine readers and cherish them.

2) Self-publishing can make you financially independent

It was with 'Without You' that I stepped into the world of self-publishing. When I began there were hardly any Indian writers self-publishing. My first month's royalty from the book was 4944.39 rupees. This was back in September 2015. It was my first paycheck from Amazon and literally the first royalty I earned. From then on, my earnings have gradually increased with the addition of every new book. I earn a comfortable passive income now through my books strictly through self-publishing. 

3) You don't need to be an expert at the craft to start writing. You can learn on the job.

When I began writing 'Without You' , all I had was the experience of writing a few short stories. But I knew I had a story to tell. I had been an avid reader since childhood and the words that got imprinted in my mind poured out in the form of stories.
 I belong to a tiny town in Kerala. Being a small-town girl, I had many limitations. English is not my native tongue though it was my primary language, I made errors. 
As I was used to reading classics mainly, my sentences used to come out as lengthy and complex. But I was determined to work on it. I sent my story to a professional beta-reader before approaching a publisher. The response from the beta-reader was positive and I sent it to a publisher who accepted it.

4) An editor can make or break the book

The first edition of my book had a few grammar errors and run-on sentences even after multiple rounds of edits by multiple people. I decided to get another round of edits done. I asked a few professional editors to edit a sample chapter and eventually selected the editor who messed up the least with my voice or story. Some editors tend to give the story their voice, instead of retaining the writer's style or voice. Thankfully, my editor was good and she has stayed with me to date.

5) You don't need to spend thousands/lakhs of rupees to market your book if you have build your brand online

I had been a blogger before I became an author. I had built a social media presence as well by the time I released my book. This helped me greatly. I see newbie authors nowadays investing heavily into marketing. Most use the wrong methods. Bulk purchases, bulk reviews, fake reviews, fake articles and fake awards. If you go down that path, whatever money you earn through your writing will go down the drain. The downside is you will have to opt for these methods every time you release a book. Do marketing wisely. Don't fall into the lure of fame and forget why you started writing in the first place. Earn genuine readers and build a readership base.
The reviews and ratings I received for 'Without You' both on amazon and Goodreads are all organic. It has over 600 plus ratings on Goodreads and 120 ratings on Amazon India. 

6) Write from your heart 

The most memorable praise I received from my mentor Anita Nair was that I write from my heart. And perhaps that was the reason why 'Without You' succeeded as well. 
The story was told through the eyes of the female lead and is comprised only of what she saw, heard and thought. I didn't know then that this type of narration is a popular new trend in modern fiction called the Deep point of view. I learnt about it later on and could understand why the majority of the readers who wrote to me praising 'Without You' told me they felt like they were Ananya, the female lead, as they read the book. Deep point of view does that to a reader.

'Without You' is still one of my most popular books and amazon selects it frequently for promotions. It gave birth to the Sreepuram series as readers wanted to know the stories of the other prominent characters in the book. I have written three books in the series now and two more on the way. 

Did you find these lessons helpful? 

Have you read 'Without you'? 

If no, it is available on Prime reading now for Free.
Free to read if you have Kindle Unlimited membership as well. 

Preview the book here:

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

How Storytel Rescued the Writer in Me


With the raging pandemic, we have been forced to change our routines.

In the absence of maids, I have to deal with finishing my household chores while working full time and also writing.

As a writer, I have to read more books. Like Stephen King says ‘If you don't read more books, you don't get the tools to write.’

Sadly, for me, with all the additional chores, I couldn't find time to read during the lockdown.

That was when I discovered Storytel. And literally, it saved the writer in me. It has transformed me into a listener alongside being a reader and author. I am glad that I can still enjoy my book time while managing my household chores.

Storytel is an audiobook app that you can subscribe to and listen to as many audiobooks as you want during your subscription. The app has more than 2lakh audiobooks to choose from and in 12 languages! I am also enjoying the books in Malayalam.


And all this comes with a monthly fee of INR 299/- only! Ideally, you would spend this amount on just one book. With Storytel, you can listen to as many as you want! Isn't that amazing? Not only this, but you can also download the audiobooks offline to listen to them later. This is an escape everyone should take!


I think the narration quality of their audiobooks is just perfect. It is like your favourite person reading out a book to you as you go through your daily chores. During these times, there’s nothing anyone needs more than this!

Storytel also has a section where the authors and celebrities narrate the book for you. You can find Jeffrey Archer's book being read by Lorelei King, Anupam Kher reading ‘Toba Tek Singh’ and Rahul Bose reading ‘Love letters’ and many more.

Audiobooks come in handy while one is cooking, travelling or cleaning – it simply makes gaining knowledge a lot more convenient and easier. Plugin your earphones and you are all set to get transported into a different world!

Let me tell you some of the interesting features among the many that Storytel has to offer:


      Sleep Timer: It has a sleep timer that allows you to set a sleep timer by clicking on the clock icon on the player. A menu pops out giving you the option to set the time. Once you do that, a moon icon appears on the timeline in the player showing when the set time. I would use this after a tiring day where I’d love to fall asleep while listening to an audiobook, reminds me of my good father narrating a story to put me to sleep in childhood.

      Speed Control: The speed control option allows you to control the speed of narration of the audiobook. Everybody has their own pace of listening and this feature is just the right addition.

      Bookmark: Another facility that we get is to create our own bookmarks. If you find any part of the book interesting, you can add a bookmark. Just tap on the bookmark symbol on the app and save it in case you want to go back to it again. I personally like to bookmark my favourite lines from the audiobooks. 

Now to tell you about the four audiobooks I listened to during this month.

This book is based on a series of lectures given by Harari at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The book tells the entire human history from pre-anatomically modern humans through agricultural and scientific revolutions. It's pretty intriguing and engaging. It looks at how Homo sapiens survived through the years and how we became what we are today.


The Healthy Writer by Joanna Pen

There are many health hazards associated with the territory of being a writer. Anxiety, depression, sleep problems, neck problems, eye strain, stress, loneliness, digestive issues. You name it, writers have to deal with it.

In this book, the author talks about how she dealt with her own struggles with being healthy. With her co-author Dr Euan Lawson, Joanna Penn teaches us how to reduce pain, improve health, and build a writing career for the long term.

This book was really an eye-opener for me.


The magic of thinking big by David J Schwartz.


I have read this book before as an e-book but I went back to listening to it as this has some very important lessons for anyone who understands the power of goal setting. And the experience of listening to it was entirely different. I feel ideas get imprinted more when you are listening to something.

Why I killed my husband by Anita Nair

This book is narrated by my mentor, author Anita Nair herself. That was added plus for me. This story can be anyone’s story but at the same time, it gives the feel of a thriller. It will keep you guessing and also has the typical Anita Nair brand of humour that will make you laugh out loud.

As you can see, Storytel pretty much rescued me from a reading slump. 4 audiobooks in a month. Not bad at all. It infused the writer in me with brand new ideas.

 Want to check out the app?

There is a limited period 90-day offer available as of now at INR 375/-only and I think you should grab this offer right away -

 What are you waiting for? Open your ears to stories!

Monday, April 5, 2021

My 6-Step Process for Writing a Book while Working Full-time

“Go from wanting to become a Writer” to “being one.”

You have been toying with the idea of taking that plunge into writing.

But you work full-time.

You can't find time to write.

I get you...

I work full-time too.

I have a 6-step process that helps me

accomplish my writing goals.

Want to adopt them?

Let's begin...

Step 1: Guard your time: Practice Saying No

Scenario one: 

You have fixed working hours. A colleague asks for help.

You agree. He is a friend, after all. You slog at the computer for hours

solving another man's problem.

Scenario Two:

A get-together is being planned. You are unanimously chosen as the organizer. 

They say you are the smartest of the bunch.

You agree. 

You devote your free hours to planning and making the event a grand success.

Scenario Three: 

Your friend calls whenever you are both free. You spend

hours on the phone discussing other people's problems and despairing

where the world is going.

Are you someone who can relate to any of the scenarios mentioned


Do you have difficulty using the word 'No'?

Shield your time. A second gone is lost forever.

Step 2 : Prioritize: Fix a writing time

Even if you are a productivity superstar, writing can often get sidelined.

So, make writing your top priority.

Fix a time that suits you.

Promise yourself that you will write daily.

You don't need to dedicate hours to a writing project every day.

A few minutes at a time. Half an hour daily. A dedicated hour.

It can be anything.

Write a sentence, write a paragraph, write an entire chapter.

Get some writing done.

Remember, little drops of water make the mighty ocean.

Step 3: Plan

Like any project you undertake, your writing project also requires careful planning.

Whenever you get time, think about your book.

Allow it to get completely formed in your mind before you even start

If you are writing a novel, think about what you want to happen in the opening scene.

Think about the dialogues your characters might say.

Ponder on who your characters are? What makes them tick?

Decide how you want the story to progress.

Get clear on how you want the story to end.

Make post-it notes and pin them above your writing desk.

 Record voice memos if an idea comes to you while you are driving.

Keep a journal to jot down all new ideas.

Step 4: Create a blueprint ( Learn to plot)

Writer's block is one common problem that most writers face.

One of the reasons this occurs is because they do not know how to take the story forward.

Just like how an architect needs a blueprint to carry out construction,
you need a clear outline for your book.

In step 3, you must have created the necessary building blocks for your book.

In this step, you will arrange them and create a clear blueprint for your story.

Write down in detail what happens in each chapter of your book.

This will help you enormously when you sit down to write.

Step 5: Focus, Write!

Now that you have your blueprint ready, it is now time to get some serious writing done.

Switch off the internet.

Put your phone in silence mode.

Set the timer for 30 minutes and just write.

Let nothing distract you when you write.

Laser focus.

Enjoy the process!

Step 6: Set clear writing goals, reward yourself

Every day, set realistic goals according to your schedule.

Work towards it as much as you can.

Relax. Put on a piece of soothing music, and conquer your daily goal with a smile on your face.

If you achieve your daily word count target, pat yourself on the back.

If you reach your weekly word count target, reward yourself.

It can be anything.

A book you have been planning to buy.

A long bubble bath. A walk in the park.

Dinner at your favorite restaurant.

A quick weekend getaway.

Keep your writer self happy!


So let's recap...