Wednesday, 30 September 2009

85 Hacks to Help Your Freelance Writing Career

Deb posted this great article, 85 Hacks to Help Your Freelance Writing Career ,which though targeted for freelance writers, could also apply to book writers. Some tips like researching or having a dedicated work space might seem obvious, but when you read all 85 tips, I am sure you will find at least few things that you never thought of, or hadn't considered important. It is especially useful for Freelance Writers at the beginning stages of their career. When we think about becoming a writer, we just think about what to write and a market to publish it, but that's not the end of it. Freelance writing is a job that involves managing your whole career by yourself, as well as managing your life so that it doesn't take over everything. Some of these tips should help out with that.

Monday, 28 September 2009

A Hobby to Replace a Hobby

Writing used to be my hobby. It was something I did it in my free time, for fun. It is still something I do it in my free time. It is still fun (most of the times). But it is no longer a hobby. Now it's a dream of a lifetime. An ambition to achieve. Something to strive for. Recently it occured to me - when I was beating myself up for not being productive - that all the obsessing doesn't help. If I am not writing for whatever reason, moaning at myself (mentally) is hardly going to make me creative. So I decided that in those times, I needed to do something that was relaxing, fun but also something that would help me loosen up and be creative at the same time. And the answer was already there in the back of my mind, on a long list of things I would like to try - Art Journaling, Drawing, Painting. I am obsessive about journaling, but I want to take it to a different level by including art rather than just words. I enjoy drawing/painting, but I am not very good, so I need to learn. And as a result a new blog is born. Journal Addict is my blog to record a different journey. All about journaling and creativity. It's about being creative without obsessing about success - because I only want to be a paid writer, not necessarily a paid artist. It's about fun, joy, and the pleasure of making something with your own hand. So if you fancy a look, pop over and see if you enjoy it.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Writers Bureau Progress

I just sent off assignment F9 for Writers Bureau, a short story assignment. While updating my spreadsheet, I checked over the dates of all the assignments and here is the productivity measure: Assignments/Submission Date 1/ March 1 2/ March 14 3/ March 26 4/ March 30 5/ April 10 6/ April 13 7/ April 14 8/ July 5 9/ September 26 March and April were clearly the most productive, because at the time my main focus was on these assignments. Then the next three months were focused on my books, so the assignment pace slowed. But even so, I am quite satisfied with my speed. As far as I am aware, I think the next assignment will the last fiction assignment. I know that will take me ages, because I have got to write a partial script, and since I have never attempted a script, no idea where to start, and haven't yet thought of a story. But it should be a good experience. Though this course isn't a miraculous cure for publishing, because of it, I have tried many different forms of writing, which I would probably never had tried on my own initiative. It has increased my general knowledge about different forms of writing, and of course now I know from experience what I like or don't like. So the script thing should be an interesting experience too. What have you learned from trying different forms of writing?

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Short Stories Vs. Flash Fiction

I dislike writing short stories, yet I enjoy flash fiction. This preference is in accord with my extremist personality of “all or nothing.” To explain it more logically: Flash fiction is usually no more than a scene. It is a moment captured in time, less than 1000 words, often less than 500. With all my flash fiction pieces, I have started either for a challenge or with a prompt. It’s been fun. Regardless of whether it’s publishing worthy or not, it doesn’t take very long to write it once you get going. In contrast to that, short stories say between 1500 – 3000 words (though they could be much longer) require minimum 2 characters, fleshed out enough to carry the story. It requires beginning, middle and closure with a satifying ending. It requires much more effort and time. And for me, it’s always been difficult to come up with short stories, because they are what I call “middle ground”. They aren’t short enough like flash fiction to create as a snippet, and they are not long enough like a book to delve deeper into plot and characters. They are in the middle – and I resent putting in a lot of time for what turns out to be a 1500 words long story, often without much hope for publishing because markets are so limited and so rigid about their guidelines or for lousy pay (if any). Flash fiction, even unpublished or simply published for free, in my opinion is worth the effort, because it is more like a creative exercise. It teaches you to tell a story in a few words. It acts as a creative jump-start to get the juices flowing, and the commitment of time is so short that I don’t feel resentful if I don’t think it’s good enough to be published. With short stories, the frustration of coming up with suitable ideas for suitable legnths, the investment of time in creating characters and plots, and then creating a story, editing it – it’s just all too much. And as I have found again and again, not worth my time, because more often than not, the process gives me no joy, and the final product while often all right, still isn’t the kind of thing I get immensely excited about. Whereas flash fiction pieces, however short, usually contain far more satisfying stories for me. How do you feel about the two? Is there any particular reason why you like more one than the other?

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Procrastinating - CAN'T STOP

It's 15:11. I have been up for over six hours, and haven't written anything. I have a plan to work on several short pieces this weekend, and continue planning the novel. I've got the files open with the short pieces. I look at them. I read them. Then I stop. It is so incredibly frustrating. I don't really know why. In some ways that is the good thing when writing a first draft of a book - it's one continuous story, and so you keep going. But with shorter pieces, I find it much harder. September has been over all disaster in terms of productivity. I really want last little bit of this month to be different. Just thought I would rant publicly a bit. Now, I will attempt to get something useful out of this day. After I scream a bit. Or A LOT.

Writing Advice from Professionals

Here are links to some great videos with advices from well-known writers. We all like to hear those few words from those who have made it, wondering perhaps if their advice is what we are missing. Obviously that's rubbish. But, I still enjoy reading/watching this kind of thing, because it reaffirms to me: If they can do it, so can I. And so can you. Writing Advice from Stephen King Writing Advice from Nora Roberts

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Keeping Journals

Jamie at Variety Pages suggested doing a post about journals. Since I am totally journal obsessed person, I volunteered rather eagerly. Technically, there is a difference between a diary and a journal. A diary is a day to day recording of one's life. More like an accounting ledger. A journal is suppsoed to be a recording of one's thoughts, feelings and reflections. My own journals are a combination of both, so here when I use the term "Journal", I mean a combination of both factual events, as well as reflection on those events. Historically, journals were a popular thing. It is very common to find that a lot of educated men and women kept journals. But today, it is no longer the case. In my personal life, I don't know a single person who keeps a journal. That in my opinion is a real shame. We may think our life is not exciting or fascinating, but neither was Virginia Woolf's in her own time, or Cesar's in his own time (hey, battles were an everyday event. There was nothing different about them). Besides, the purpose isn't just to record, but to analyse, and to free oneself from one's own preconceptions. When you journal, you are making memories. For yourself, if you choose to keep your journal private. Memories change with experience. As we grow as people, the things we remember, shift in perspective. But if you have it written down in black and white, then you know exactly how you felt when you were sixteen, and if today is any different. Do we have to understand it? Of course, we don't. But we are writers. Writers get into characters' heads. We write about people. We feel them. And you know what - the scariest thing of all is to get inside one's own head, to raise questions that you do not know the answers to. Journaling with honesty takes courage. I have been keeping journals regularly since 2002. I know that I will always keep regular journals, because I very much regret not keeping them when I was younger. As of today I have: A regular journal: I write in this almost every day, or fairly regularly. This is where whatever's happening in life goes, and various thoughts, goals etc. Anything I want to. I also work on improving my journaling techniques. My first couple of journals were more or less diaries, or full of miserable rants. Then as I read over them, I learnt that I needed to focus on happy things too. Now, I am working on learning to make my journals more visually attractive by adding non-written stuff (semi-art journaling) into it. I am still working on it, because by nature, I like neat, tidy writing. A Dream Journal: I only write in this one when I have dreams that stick in my mind. My dreams are by no means enlightening thunder bolts. They are weird, and mixture of usually more than one country. But I write them anyway. Tarot Journal: This is also irregular one. I write in this when I pick up a tarot deck. This is actually a mixture of tarot reading, as well as creative-writing prompt, because sometimes I use Tarot Cards as writing prompts. Travel Journals: Every time I go away somewhere, I write a travel journal. This is another area where I am working on improving my skill. Writing Journal: This is every-day writer's journal, which I started keeping only recently. Here, just misc. writing stuff. So these are the journals, and they do not include all the scribble pads and post-its I may use. Some pictures of my journals:




Need an Inspiration or Challenge?

Here you can have both. Carry on Tuesday Every Tuesday, you will get a writing prompt which is usually the first line of a poem or a novel. Some prompts are for poems or novels, but of course you can write what you wish. Also, if you wish, you can join in other people who commit to writing a piece on that prompt and share it with others. Three Word Wednesday Every wednesday, you can find three words here that you can use to write a story. Of course with all the back archives available, you don't need to wait for Wednesday. So let the muse start musing...

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Book Review: The Year Zero

For Book Review Blog Chain for AW, which can be found here The Year Zero: The True Story of Life In Britain 2000 Years Ago - by Dr. Matthew Kleinman & Nicholas Davies The title in the subject line might have made you think you would be reading about a science-fiction novel. I doubt many people think of Year Zero (unless you are historian or something of the sort). I certainly never did. It is also most unusual for me to review a non-fiction book, because I read far more fiction than non-fiction. But this is recent in my mind, and I think it’s worth reviewing from both a reader’s and a writer’s POV. This isn’t a new book. It was published in Year 2000, but since we are talking about thousands of years old history, nine years is hardly an issue. As someone who used to cry before history exams in school, fearing total failure, I’ve grown to love history since I graduated from college. I am by no means a historically obsessed person, but I enjoy it – especially ancient history. The reason might surprise you. Old history presents a world quite far removed from our own – bit similar to fantasy or science fiction world. So in my mind, this is another form of alternate world, just based on facts. I don’t know much about ancient British history, but the last thing I wanted was to read an old text-book type history book that would put me to sleep. That’s where this is different. For a historical, non-fiction book, this is amazingly easy to read. It’s written in a causal style; more like an essay, rather than your typical history book. It is neatly divided into sections, and within it, written in short paragraphs and sections, so when you want to stop, it’s easy to pick up again. That’s the good point from a reader’s point of view. From a writer’s point of view, writing style or words or techniques is by no means brilliant. It is casual, yes, but it also gets repetitive sometimes and prose isn’t exactly poetic. So the writer in me doesn’t think of these authors as good writers. However, the repetitions have an advantage for the reader. You read something a few times; you are more likely to remember it. In my opinion, the book serves its purpose, which is to tell you about the life of Britons in the Year Zero, and times surrounding it. We start off with the background information of the original tribes on the Island of Albion. The authors have tried to recreate what life would have been like for those tribes, using several resources. One of the most important things to remember is that there are no written records from those tribes, because even the most educated people of that time – Druids – had the tradition of not writing anything down. Their knowledge was passed through oral re-telling. The first written records are from Cesar, when he invaded Britain. Fortunately for us, Cesar was very good, and by all appearances, quite honest in keeping his records. The rest of the evidence comes from archeological finds. What I find very appealing is that this book provides information about people’s day-to-day lives. How they lived, what they ate, how they survived, and how their politics worked. We learn about their relationship with other tribes, about their religion. We learn about the Druids, and their fierce desire to protect their knowledge, and keep it within selected group. We learn about the impeding threat of Roman Invasion. I would expect 2000 year old civilization (if it could be called that) to be vastly different from the world we know today. Yet, many of their customs and traditions exist today. The similarities between Druids pagan religion and some of the world’s religions today are unmistakable. From details of the business of slavery that boomed in Roman Empire, to details of marriage customs, the authors build a picture that is very easy to imagine. Then Cesar’s invasion, success, and changes. Over all, I believe for anyone interested in this particular era of history, this is definitely a useful read. It won’t make you an expert, but it will give you the background you can mull over, and then investigate further what interests you.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Paradise of Ghosts - AW Blog Chain

Paradise of Ghosts
Every morning I stand in the garden, looking across at the point where the sky swoops down to embrace the sea, which leaps up to meet the sky half-way; a quick, frenzied embrace and then they are apart again. The Eternal Yearning, Jake named it. Two entities that are never quite together, yet can't bear to separate. I look at it now, day after day, and wonder what it feels like. Sad maybe, but with each seperation there is also hope to be reunited again. I wake up at nights, seeking that hope. I yearn for the touch and the smell that once used to be familiar, but is slipping away, leaving me bereft. I haven't forgotten him. I haven't stopped hurting for wanting him. But his scent no longer lingers on my body. The memory of his skin against mine no longer fills me with an all-consuming fire, but is rather a whisper that merely caresses me before fading away. I look at the horizon, at the Eternal Yearning, and suddenly it is all too much to bear. Here, in this paradise that we built together, I am all alone because Jake decided seeking the answers to make his paintings more real was more important than being content. He wanted to feel the pulse of life, unravel the rainbow of its colours. Our peaceful blanket of white - not even a colour, but a safe haven - wasn't enough. Now, there is no white for him. Just another non-colour. No light. Just darkness beneath the earth; his body left in that colourless place by one of the shades of grey he had gone off to explore in the slums of London. His painting of the slums, of the hungry eyes peering at me, remains unfinished. I often think of throwing it away, but something stops me. Perhaps because that half-finished painting, of the world that destroyed me, belongs here now. In my new world, made of no colours. Just shadows and ghosts for me to chase, but nothing of substance to hold onto. I turn away from the Eternal Yearning. Without substance, there is no hope, and without hope, what am I but another shadow in this paradise of ghosts. *** This was the flash fiction piece for September's AW Blog Chain. My three words for LilliCray are: Diana Dreaming Castle List of the Participants: Fokker Aeroplanbau Forbidden Snowflake RavenCorinnCarluk Lostwanderer5 LilliCray Aimeelaine Claire Crossdale bsolah Angyl78 FreshHell Lady Cat ealexis Crayonz Razibahmed Proach Tara McClendon MGraybosch shethinkstoomuch

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Afraid? Who Me?

Oh my god, there is actually fear in me somewhere. The realisation wasn't exactly like a bombshell, but it was sudden and unexpected. But the thought popped into my head, and I knew it to be true. I have met many writers afraid of writing, and I never understood that. Afraid of rejection, I can understand. But of writing? That made no sense. I have no problems starting book after another. After all, if I didn't like it, I could always continue working on it. So what's this fear then? I was afraid of trying shorter pieces. Not necessarily short stories, because there is no love lost between me and the short stories, but shorter, non-fiction pieces. I have been meaning to try them. There are tons of rough doodles lying about the tons of trees sitting in my living room. But rough doodles they remain. I haven't properly tried. It was just now, while I was thinking about the two travel articles I have promised myself to do this week that it occured to me there is a reason behind my procrastination. You see, with a book, it's easy. A book takes ages. A book has to be as perfect as possible. That long lead time makes me feel that I have got time to get it right before it will ever get to an agent. But not so with an article. Even at the beginning stage, at the most it may take a week to edit and polish it, if I were to take it slow. Then I have to submit it. Then, more than likely, it will be rejected. I have had a fair few rejections from short stories, and they are not exactly pleasant surprises, but it hasn't stopped me from sending them. So why this sudden realisation with articles? To be honest, I have no idea. It's just there. My procrastination is only partly laziness (oh well). But now that I know it, there is no excuse. Unless I try it, I will never know whether it is for me or not. I promised this blog to have two articles planned and one written this week. So I shall. Even if what remains of the week is day and a half. If I don't report on that by tomorrow, you are free to punch me across the cyber space.

Friday, 11 September 2009

A Day That Rocked The World

September 11, 2001 I was just across the river from NYC, in northern New Jersey, asleep in my dorm. The phone rang, and someone said (funny, can't remember who called me) to turn the TV on. After several moments of fogginess that addles the brain in waking moment, I realised what I was being told. I didn't have a TV in my dorm, so I went to the library, and there we all watched the twin towers. A lot of people on my campus knew people who were in the twin towers. Being just across the river, it was too close to home. I knew about wars being fought somewhere in the distance, seen the pictures and news, but this was different. This was happening less than hundred miles away. It was personal. I remember walking around in the lower part of the twin towers, browsing in shops. I was young enough to feel the horror at the shattering of confident youth attitude that "this could never happen to us." Since then there have been far too many terror attacks that have been "personal" but September 11 for me, and I believe for many other people, remains the one that perhaps changed the way we look at the world.

A Brand New Blog

I have started a new blog here. It's going to be a blog about travel and travel writing. This blog will continue to be devoted to writing. I didn't want to split focus here by rambling about travelling and pictures and what-not, so I thought a seperate blog would be a better idea. If you are interested in travel, travel writing, or anything travel related then I hope to see you there. P.S. I really love the name (even if I do say so myself) - "Voyages and Words"

Thursday, 10 September 2009


I have permission to post this cool badge from Eric. It was created based on an initial discussion on what does BLOG stand for, and creative responses to it. It's way cool, and so we are passing it around. As always there are rules to follow:
  1. Tell us your favourite superhero and why
  2. Copy the badge and post it to your blog
  3. Present the badge to five other worthy bloggers
  4. Post links to five people you nominate
  5. Comment on their pages to let them know they have been nominated

My favourite superhero: Superman. He is just one cool dude. Not to mention one superhero who doesn't act like a tortured teenager caught in emotional drama. Ok, I am not a big fan of pants outside part, but still with all his confident personality on one side and shy, reserved side as a Clarke Kent, and his burning torch for one woman - he represents all the good stuff: a guy next door, who isn't just nice and dull. A bit of adventure, a bit of mystery, and a bit of romance.

Five people I nominate - my criteria of selection is based on regular "blogmans" who post consistently, and keep us updated:

  1. Jenna - As the Plot Thickens
  2. C R Ward - Random Thoughts
  3. Jamie - The Variety Pages
  4. Lady Glamis - The Innocent Flower
  5. Jim Harrington - Quotes on Writing

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Honest Scrap Award

Fellow Blogger C R Ward has given me "Honest Scrap Award" for which I am most honoured.
Rules: 10 honest comments about yourself pass the blog onto seven worthy people
  1. Getting blog awards make me very happy, because it tells me that someone likes my blog enough to make that effort.
  2. I don’t mind Starbucks taking over the world. Despite my love of travel and experiencing different cultures, I like the consistency of taste in my coffee
  3. I am very possessive of my things and of my time.
  4. If Virtual Reality technology comes to full force in my life-time, there will be trouble, because I love dreaming. Living in dream world is much easier than working to make the dreams come true.
  5. I get cravings for chocolates and for spicy food. Usually not at the same time.
  6. I want to see a whole shelf in a book shop, with my name on the books.
  7. While essentials of my personality remain unchanged, I am still trying to figure out my values and beliefs – they have changed considerably from teenage to adult phase.
  8. I hate phones. The only thing I like about a mobile phone is that I can use it for SMS.
  9. I love Taco Bell’s Hot Sauce. I get my family to bring bags over every time they see me, and I always bring some back when I go to USA. I can use that sauce with practically anything. (I have run out, and won’t get more till December. L)
  10. I have never tried any alcoholic drinks, and never been tempted. The control freak in me doesn’t want to weaken my mental state by drinking.

There are plenty of good blogs I follow and plenty that inspire me and teach me a lot, but as this award is for honesty, I am passing it on to three people whom I feel I have come to know because of their blogs. Their posts reflect their voice. It makes me feel that I know them as more than some blogger miles away. It makes them stand out as a person, each unique and individual. Jamie @ Variety Pages: I know she has already been nominated by C R, but she still gets my nomination. With her regular posts on updates of her goals, progresses and stumbles, and chapters of her writing, her blog is full of her honest journey as a writer, and as a person. Adam @ The Editing Hat: He writes, he screams, he babbles, he shares his joys and troubles, and he celebrates other people’s successes on his blog. There is nothing pretentious about his blog – just pure Adam. Eric @ Working My Muse: He shares his journey with the rest of us, and in the process raises interesting questions. Sometimes he knows the answers, and sometimes he doesn’t, but he still makes us think. His blog reflects the knowledge he is gathering as a writer, and the passion he has for writing.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

What Will I Write This Month?

While I let the ideas gather in my head for my fantasy novel, it’s time to attempt something I have procrastinated on for a long while. I have always fancied travel writing. At least I think I have, because I haven’t actually tried it. My experience of travel writing is this:

  • When I was 13, I went on a tour from school. We were invited to write an essay about it, and the best one (mine) was selected to be published in the school magazine.
  • I have been keeping travel journals for last few trips.

That’s not much to go by, especially because I know my travel journals aren’t nearly as good as I would like them to be. I am improving, but not there yet. So is travel writing for me? I have no idea. I like to think so, because I love travelling, so combining my love of writing with that of travel seems like a perfect plan. I have postponed trying it for a long time, so this month, while I am bit stuck regarding my word target, I make a public proclamation that I will give it a go. So few small goals to begin with: Deadline: 13/09/09 Finish journaling Berlin trip Plan at least 2 travel articles Write at least 1 of them Wish me luck for this new venture.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Resisting the Temptation

While attempting to plan my re-vamped fantasy WIP, there are several places where I don’t know what will happen. I know what the main themes of the story are. I know how the story ends. I know all the stuff the hero has to face. I know what the villain wants. But what I don’t know is the middle bit. I don’t know how the villain and the hero are going to collide over and over again, before they can get to the final conflict. That is obviously a huge issue. Today, for several minutes, I was tempted to just start writing. I thought I should just start the draft and see what happens. I even wrote first few sentences. After a short while, I deleted them, because that attitude is precisely what made a mess of previous WIPs. If I don’t have the answers now, I am not miraculously going to have them later on. Well okay, I may have some answers later on, but that could be achieved BEFORE starting the draft with some patience. Alas, patience and I have quite a frosty relationship. But I am resisting, because I know it is purely impatience that’s pushing me. The answers to those questions will come, but sometimes it just takes time. Not all ideas are ready at moment’s notice. I need to give them time to stew. So as impatient as I am, I will give it some more time, and keep brain-storming. I don’t need to have every little detail planned out in advance, but I at least want to be able to have major points outlined before I start writing the first draft. That may mean that I won’t complete this draft in time to start a NaNo draft, but I will have to cross that bridge when I come to it. It may also cause bit of a trouble with my 30K word target this month, but hopefully, I shall find something else to write. With this story though, I am going to be patient, and I am going to try writing it in a different manner than what I have done so far. This method may or may not work, but only by trying different ways I can figure out what works best for me.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Do You Read Enough?

One of the biggest irony for most writers is that as they write more - because they love stories - there is less time to read. Majority of us aren't full time writers, so time is short as it is. Once you get into the discipline of writing, do you still make time to read enough? Earlier this year when I started to write regularly, for first few months, my reading reduced considerably. I was aware of it, and I didn't like that. I had all these piles of books waiting to be read, new worlds to be explored. So I made a conscious decision not to let that happen. That was the reason behind keeping the record here. I still update it, and it's great to see the list grow. I already read a wide variety of fiction, so my new goal is to read a little more non-fiction (other than writing craft). And for 2010, I intend to challenge myself to read 101 books. What about you? Do you devote good time to read, just for the pleasure of it? PS: This is a scheduled post, while I am having a short break in Berlin. I will reply to any comments upon my return.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Picture Writing Prompt

I love this picture. It is at once peaceful yet compelling; light and dark. Just looking at the picture raises so many questions, and from questions come stories. Hope it inspires you.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

A Dose of Inspiration

This is a scheduled post, while I enjoy a little city break in Berlin. Hope this massages your muses a little:
  • In most branches of human endeavor there is said to be a right and a wrong way of doing things. In writing there can only be your way, whether you pose as an aesthete, or whether you frankly admit you write for money. - Jack Woodford
  • Do not hesitate to give your hero lusts of the flesh, dark passions, impulses to evil; for these dark powers, fused with their opposites - the will to good, the moral impulses, the power of the spirit - will do to your character precisely what the opposite powers of fire and water do to the sword blade. - William Foster-Harris
  • Writing is very much like bricklaying. You learn to put one brick on top of another and spread the mortar so thick. - Red Smith
  • The novel of a thousand pages begins with a single scene. - James Scott Bell
  • When you steal from one author it's plagiarism; if you steal from many, it's research. - Wilson Mizner
  • Let your characters have their way. Let your secret life be lived. Then at your leisure, in the succeeding weeks, months or years, you let the story cool off and then, instead of rewriting, you relive it. - Ray Bradbury