Saturday 30 May 2015

Guest Post by Neil D'Silva

Neil and I connected through his brother Roy who I had worked with previously in Pune. Soon, we began chatting about my books and marketing strategies. It was around the same time that Neil launched his first book – Maya’s New Husband, which went on to become a bestseller. Today, Neil shares his experience with budding authors and interested readers on my blog. 

Thanks for sharing Neil and all the best for your forthcoming projects!

Maya’s New Husband: How I Wrote a Bestseller

Despite being a debut novel, Maya’s New Husband has gone on to rank at #1 on Amazon shortly after its paperback release, win awards, and earn a considerable amount of critical appreciation. People usually ask me questions on how I did it, and this is my humble attempt to guide others who might wish to take something from my experience.

Be Inspired

You cannot write a good book if you aren’t inspired by a story. Do not go looking for inspiration; let it hit you. This inspiration could be just a thought, or a story you hear, or something you see, but it should have an impact on you.

For me, it happened when I was on a holiday in Goa. While spending a cozy evening with my wife in the balcony of our room that faced the Calangute Beach, and seeing the happy couples holding hands and sharing their love, a thought entered my mind—How much of each other do these couples really know? What if one of these has a dark unmentionable secret?

The idea shook me to the core. Thus, the grain of Maya’s New Husband was born.

Build an Outline

You may be a plotter or a pantser, it doesn’t really matter. I am a bit of both. I plot the beginning and the end of the story, and a few of the vital scenes that occur in between. But a lot of the flow occurs when you actually sit down and write. If you are really convinced in your work, trust me, your story will begin writing itself.

Feel Your Characters

In any story, the characters are the most important. Every aspect of them has to be pat down, and the author must know fully well how the characters would react in different situations. With my book, I started with the titular husband first. I closed my eyes until I could actually see Bhaskar Sadachari in my mind, every wrinkle on his face, and I put him into different situations mentally and decided how he would react. I did the same with the protagonist, Maya Bhargava, and the rest of the characters. For me, it helped to establish physical traits first and then the behavioral aspects.

Being True to Genre

My book is a horror-thriller. When I began, a question that loomed large in my head as to how horrific I wanted it to be. Tales of aghoris and tantriks are common. But I intended to write a very different tale. Though it had a dark aspect of our Indian lore as its basic theme, I wanted it to be an urban story. I wanted no clich├ęs. Hence, I decided on all-out, no-holds-barred horror.

At times, the story was so chilling that I could not write it at nights. I had to shut down even in the middle of a totally intriguing scene, because the horror was that difficult to take. But that made me sure of one thing—this was the right direction to take if I was writing horror. Horror is, after all, meant to horrify.

That’s the way it should be. You should feel the genre you are writing in. If it is humor, you should laugh at the jokes first. If it is romance, you should feel the pangs.

The Writing and The Editing

I wrote Maya’s New Husband quite fast, and for that the credit goes to NaNoWriMo 2014. The initial manuscript of the book was written in this month of November, and I became a winner as well. That was my first accolade for writing. I wrote around 3000-6000 words a day. Once you have the entire outline in your mind, the going gets easy.

I moved away from the book for three weeks and then got to editing around mid-December. Editing was furious, and I did my own stuff as well as incorporated suggestions from various people I had sent the book out to. Every word was weighed against its value, and the final product was ready by January 2015.

A Book Is Never Done

I always maintain that the actual work of a writer begins after penning the words ‘The End’. Completing a book is of no avail if no one reads it. For Maya’s New Husband, I did quite a few things, including creating a platform on Facebook and Twitter, building my website to reflect my writing, collaborate with other writers for cross-promotions, submit my book to awards (MNH has won at the Literary Awards 2015 in The Entertainer category) among other things.

But the best bit of advice I can give is this: The greatest advertisement for a writer is to write another book. So don’t stop! You never know which of your books will hit the mark, and that will create an interest in your other books as well. I wrote The Evil Eye and The Charm three months after MNH and that has helped me immensely.

So, keep writing, and take care!

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Monday 18 May 2015

Review of God's Table


God’s Table
The Last Supper


Santosh Avvanavar
Jyoti Byahatti
Dr. Sandeep Huilgol


A noble couple. In noble professions. He’s a doctor and she’s a teacher.

What do they discuss over meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner? They are perturbed by the social, moral, economical and anthropological issues plaguing our country these days.

Meet Amrita and Robert, a couple who will speak on behalf of you. Witness their daily discussions on problems you think are worth talking about. Education, Medication, Elections, Corruptions, Honour Killing, Child Marriage, Social Media – you name it and the disease has already made deep wounds in our country’s body and soul.

God comes to rescue along with Amrita and Robert. Delve into the gospels and teachings of God to find a solution to each malady, if you wish to accept it.

Authors Santosh Avvanavar, Jyothi Byahatti and Dr. Sandeep Huilgo present a unique fiction in conversations to remind you how God would have faced and erased a few of our society’s key problems.

More about the book

The book begins by talking more about “The Last Supper” the painting by Leonardo Da Vinci. It refers to the gospel of John to highlight the issues that have spread around us and threaten to break us slowly. The book itself is divided into 12 categories which are referred to as the “Menu.” Each category takes up one issue and this is put forward as a dialogue between Amrita and Robert. To draw the conclusion, a Godly man, Paul has been used.

Along with the above, the book also contains an author’s profile which gives you a better idea of the writers who have contributed towards the writing of the book!

Hits and Misses -

 Having reviewed a few more books by Santosh Avvanavar, I would like to mention that I appreciate the passion that he has to highlight some of the issues that we face in our lives. This book which is written by 3 writers, talk about various issues for e.g. Euthanasia, Honor Killing, Death and Abuse. Cleverly written in dialogue form, each story shows the amount of research and information his colleagues and he have gathered and put into the writing of this book.

Having said that, the book could have been better! I feel a nicer cover would have been more appealing to readers. Apart from that the sentences are very simple; there is repetition in some places along with very long dialogues. Also a few grammatical errors here and there tends to draw attention away from the interesting topics mentioned in the book. Another thing that I felt about the book is that in some instances it shows one person’s perspective only instead of humanity as a whole…this makes the book sound as if the authors are preaching!

The thought process behind the book is commendable, but if the authors had paid a little more attention to the little details mentioned above, then I am sure the book would have attracted more readers. I would like to end by wishing the authors success in their careers. I look forward to reading more books by them!

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Saturday 9 May 2015

Interview with Author Santosh Avvannavar

A God-fearing man, a kind-hearted human and a person who uses his skills and knowledge to write about social issues with the intention of drawing the attention of readers to the problems at hand and then working together to provide a solution for the same. Santosh Avvannvar is all of this and much more! Recently I sent him a mail asking him if he was interested in doing an interview for my blog; he replied in the affirmative. Here are the questions I asked the writer and this is what he has to say about himself, his work and what makes him choose the topics he does.

Me: All your books I have reviewed so far have a social message…how does the idea germinate? How do you zero in on a certain theme?

Santosh: Thanks for an interesting question. Let me give a brief on this, Second Heart, a book on awareness of Kidney issues through fiction stories ,was through a brain-storming session with Dr. Sandeep Huilgol, which was done over a cup of coffee. Title is Untitled was a book that has a focused structure preparation based on the social issues that I have read about through various sources. Then I went in search of such stories and it needed patience and persistence to pen down their views. Black, Grey and White began with a workshop on Sexual Transmitted Diseases by Dr. Saurabh. This led me to search for stories related to the myths surrounding HIV/AIDS. The book, Surrogate Author was out of an idea from Devdas and critics have helped shape the book. It’s similar to the books - The Departing Point and God’s Table. I believe in brainstorming to write a variety of stories.

Me: Since most of your books have been co-authored - Tell us a little about the pros and cons involved in this process.

Santosh: Teamwork is advantageous for most tasks. People with complementary skills are a great help in reaching the objective. Dividing tasks help to achieve them much better. However, sometimes there could be a lag in taking the work forward. Having said this, some collaborations may not be promising if one of the authors sees it just as an opportunity rather than a collective effort. This is more of a learning phase.

Me: I am sure that you have received a lot of reviews about the topics you choose to write about and the style you write it in…..what is the nicest and the most critical review you have received?

Santosh: The first name that comes to my mind is, book blogger Maniparna Sengupta. I like her carefully articulated reviews, which gives out negative criticism in a positive way. In other words, I see that her writing has an assertive style which is inspiring to read. I also noticed that she has never shunned away from writing honest reviews irrespective of personal expectations as a reader. I see her as an example of a good critic!

Me: How long does the whole writing process take?

Santosh: Most of my writing has been done over a span of 10 years.  A lot of backlog was also there as some books take a lot of time like for e.g - Get a Job WITHOUT an Interview took nearly seven years. Ideally books related to social issues take me about a year to write. I foster the process with the help of an editor who works along with me and completes the editing work as soon as I complete a chapter.

Me: What other books are you working on?

Santosh: I am presently working on the biography of a business leader and am hoping to wind up the writing by May end. Apart from this I am also working on two interesting books, one on Lucid dreams and another on the life of a Quality Engineer. These books should be available in stores by the end of this year.

Me: You are into a lot of other things…how do you find the time to write?

Santosh: I pen down points whenever there is little time between tasks. Apart from this, I have a fixed schedule to script a story. I don’t attend to phone calls and neither do I browse the internet during this time.

Me: How do you spend your time on weekends?

Santosh: I am in constant search of stories. Sunday’s I attend church in the first half and spend the remaining time meeting new people.

Me: Who is your favorite author?

Santosh: The Bible has a good and positive impact on my understanding and writing. Next to it are M. K. Gandhi’s books. I also enjoy reading Subroto Bagchi’s books.

Me: What is your favorite quote?

Santosh: There are several ones; however here is one …
“One does not need to create assets for future generation, make them an asset instead.”

Me: If you had one wish, what would you wish for and why?

Santosh: To put a smile on the faces of the underprivileged children! This wish would make it worth being named "Santosh" (Happy).

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Twitter - @GuptaRach