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Interview with author Mukta Singh Zocchi!

Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming author Mukta Singh Zocchi to my blog. Lets talk to her about her endeavors in writing..

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  • Welcome Mukta! Please tell us about how did you discover your passion for writing?

Thanks Aditi for giving me this opportunity. It’s true each one of us has that passion sitting somewhere inside. Some display it at birth. In me, it burst out only after a series of processes like “controlled fusion”.  A habit of reading, learning to research, interactions … without these kinds of things I don’t think I am capable of writing. So in that sense I am not a born writer.

I had a perfect childhood to pick up the good habit of reading.  We lived in IIT campus in New Delhi, my father was a professor there, so I had access to the wonderful library there. I think I must have checked out all the fiction books they kept on their shelves over those years. Back then I did write, but it was all quite childish. Then through the college years and grad school there was relatively less of this reading business, writing certainly did not rise above the zero-mark. When I started to work,  I traveled a lot, had many unusual, amazing experiences – interesting enough that in a decade they started to find place in my stories. Now to answer your question,

I discovered my passion for writing when once after a longish rail trip across India with my family I sat down to write … really in a journal-like manner. I couldn’t stop writing. It felt wonderful to just write about our experiences. This was a phenomenal moment for me. I have been writing non-stop since then.

  • It’s incredible that you publish a magazine in Hindi, especially for the progression of the language. How did you conceive it and what made you decide to publish in Hindi language?

I grew up speaking Hindi and even though my active vocabulary in English is vaster, writing in Hindi feels closer to the creative center of my brain. I get a bigger high. I have no problems overcoming any shortcomings I might have writing in Hindi. I think this must be more or less true with most people vis-a-vis their native languages.

Then, growing up, there  were ample Hindi reading lying around at home… magazines, upanyasa. So, for me, publishing a Hindi literary magazine is not an altogether unnatural endeavor. I have certain impressions about the Hindi reading culture, perhaps those played some role in wanting to do this.

Readers of Hindi tend not to buy books – no one in my family bought them, most of my relatives did not either.  I remember once one of my aunts caught me reading a novel by Gulshan Nanda, I think it was Naya Zamana (someone had left it behind). She scolded me,  perhaps she thought I was too young to read it and in a matter of a few seconds that half-read book was in her purse … So, its pretty obvious, Hindi readership in severely undercounted. This behavior of ours results in a non-robust Hindi publishing scene.

Among other things, I had always had a problem with the quality of the font, the lack of a minimum gloss – very cumbersome for me as a reader of Hindi works. All these are the reasons I am publishing ekalpana. I want people to carry stories, not worries, in their heads. The more people read, the more they’d want to write. There is a lot of sub-standard stuff on the internet. It is important that more people publish work of good quality, set the standard and make it accessible to a large number of people.

  • Tell us a little bit more about your magazine and its content and how readers can access it?

At the beginning of this year (2016) I launched ekalpana.net – an online literary magazine. This September, the 8th issue will be published. Every issue carries 5 short stories in Hindi. We encourage stories from anyone who enjoys writing. What we are looking for is a good literary style and interesting story-telling. The level of the language is also important. I don’t think pidgin-Hindi can be considered literary.

  • What are your long term goals for your magazine?

The only time I do poetry is when I “think” goals. My long term goal for the magazine is to be able to see people sing stories and dream songs. With so many people in the world and so much happening and going on, it is hard to tell how anything would turn out. One makes efforts. With some luck, good things also happen.

  • Have you published anything else, books, short stories, etc.?

I write all the time. My short-stories have appeared in several literary magazines in the US and in India. In 2014, my first novel, The Thugs and a Courtesan hit the bookshelves. That was a very satisfying experience. At some point a few years back I started to write on NRI issues for the Hindi magazine group Delhi Press. Many of my short stories in Hindi have also appeared in Sarita magazine (Delhi Press). You can access all my work at www.muktasinghzocchi.com

  • It’s incredible to hear about all your work! What has been your most rewarding experience as an author?

When I can say the work I have been writing has reached completion I feel most rewarded. You know, its that “coming to fruition of the high, excited levels of mental energies” moment … all writers must be feeling it. Doesn’t matter if the completed work is a short editorial piece or an entire novel.

Of course, one still needs to place their work, etc., but in terms of personal satisfaction all that is not as important. The route to publishing and becoming a talked-about author is tortuous and messy and can I say wicked. When I first started to write, I went through many highs and lows. There were times when I thought perhaps the writer inside me is  a phony character. But the truth is, one keeps writing, and reading, and over the course of time one improves.  I got an award for one of my short-stories in 2007, I was incredulous at first, then as I let that news set in, I felt validated as an author. In that sense, getting that first award was also a rewarding experience.

Mukta, it was a pleasure talking to you. I wish you all the best for your magazine!

Mukta’s magazinehttp://ekalpana.net

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Interview with Pamela Fagan Hutchins!

Let’s welcome best-selling author Pamela Fagan Hutchins and chit-chat with her about various aspects of writing! 

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  • Congratulations on your book release, Pamela! Please tell us what has been your most rewarding experience as an author?

Recently, I’ve coached other novelists who have gone on to experience joy and success from their writing. While I have loved and continue to love each and every review I get, awards that my books receive, and emails and letters and Facebook posts and blog comments and every other heart-warming contact with readers, I am shocked to find how much I enjoy helping other writers achieve their best writing in their stories, and find their own readers.

  • That’s fantastic. I agree, that giving back is highly rewarding. Please tell us, how much research do you do for your books?

I do tons of research for my books. Everything from culture, geography, food, and religion to current and historical events, legal and criminal procedure, and mythology. For Hell to Pay I researched on following topics:

  • The Native American Hopi tribe and its vision question/spirit animal tradition.
  • Lake Meredith and the Colorado river basin in West Texas.
  • Diabetic comas: types, symptoms, treatment, and recovery.
  • Religious cults.
  • The process and rules for adoption in Texas.
  • Crime scene procedure in multi-jurisdictional situations.
  • The process of arrest, charging, arraignment and bail in a first-degree murder case.
  • Snake handling as a part of religious tradition, especially in the Southern U.S.
  • The professional rodeo circuit.

I really enjoy the research aspect of writing. I want desperately to get it right, for my stories to ring with authenticity.

  • How do you go about developing characters of your book?

Most of them occur pretty organically. But it starts with storyboarding with my story partner, my husband. We discuss plot lines and character arcs for years, I write them in outlines, ultimately I draft them into novels, and then I send them right back to him and we do post-writing storyboarding. Sometimes a character is way, way off in a first draft. I’ll go back to the drawing board and ask myself what characteristics define this character, what events have shaped them, and what is in and out of character for them. Ideally, for a protagonist, you then want to put them to the test in every single scene, ratcheting up the tension and pressure on them and seeing how they react. As much as I storyboard and plan, though, sometimes the story and characters take on a life of their own. It’s a lot of fun when that happens, and some of my most authentic characterization comes from just letting them have their way!

  • Dialogues are important in fiction. Do you want to share any tip for writing dialogues?

Dialogue needs to be authentic and it needs to be concise. Authenticity means that it sounds exactly like that character would say it. Concise means that you take that, and you make it shorter.

I am writing a What Doesn’t Kill You prequel novella right now. Six different protagonists in alternative points of view tell it. I’m killing myself on voice and dialogue in this one, making sure that readers will know who said what whether I tell them who it is or not.

The way I check my dialogue by reading it aloud, in character. My husband finds this quite humorous. I walk through the scenes and do the accents and body language.

  • I agree, reading the dialogues out loud is a good practice. Thanks for all the tips on writing! Before you go, tell us which scene in your book is your favorite? Why?

In Hell to Pay, my favorite scene is where Emily reluctantly displays her snake handling skills for her fiancé Jack and his parents. I love it because it shows her conflicted relationship with her past and her parents, at the same time as she is totally tough and brave and doing something most of us would never in a million years do.

 

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Pamela’s Book Links:

Amazon.com : https://www.amazon.com/Hell-Pay-What-Doesnt-Kill-ebook/dp/B019UHL0NY

Amazon.in: http://www.amazon.in/Hell-Pay-What-Doesnt-Kill/dp/1939889367

Pamela’s Website: http://pamelafaganhutchins.com

Why romance sells!

Author-Aditi-Chopra

I was reading an article on different genres of fiction and as we already know romance heads any list! Based on my own experience, I find it easier to sell romantic fiction than other books.

It therefore behooves us to look at why romance sells more than other genres. Here are some factors from my point of view:

  • Romance is inherently positive and instigates a feel-good emotion within the reader. This is a crucial factor in making it the top seller.
  • Whether it is pure romance or erotic, there is a certain rush that the reader feels with the build-up of hero and heroine coming together.
  • If I think as a reader, I may get bored reading romance all the time but after I have taken a break, a light romance always lights up my day!
  • Romance appeals to any age group (especially females) whether they are single, married, young or old, so obviously the target market is huge!

I am sure there are other factors that I haven’t thought of but these should be enough to inspire authors to keep writing more romance!


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Chat with Author Mistral Dawn

Today, I’m welcoming Mistral Dawn, author of Taken By The Huntsman. Let’s get to know her better.

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  • Welcome Mistral! Please tell us how did you come up with the concept of your book? What was the inspiration behind it?

Ha! Actually, a dream.  I had a debate with an online friend about the nature of consent at a time when I was also doing research about European mythology. Somehow the two became entwined in my head while I was sleeping, and Taken By The Huntsman was born.

  • Very interesting! What do you find most challenging while writing a book?

I think the most challenging part of writing a book is the marketing.

I’m an indie author, so I don’t have a publisher to help do this work. Marketing takes an enormous amount of time, but is extremely necessary because, as an unknown author, no one will read my books if they don’t know about them.

  • I agree, being an author is not just about writing, it is so much more. What has been your most rewarding experience as an author?

My favorite part is interacting with people who have read and enjoyed my stories. It’s such a rush to know I’ve been able to entertain other people!

  • That is satisfying indeed! Which book are you working on next? Do you want to share a glimpse of it?

My next book will be about the Winter Court king and his human Anamchara. He’s a fallen god of death, prophesy, and healing (I know, interesting combination, right?), so while he no longer has the powers of a god, he does have some interesting abilities. She’s a human who stumbled into Fairie while running from her abusive fiance on Earth. You’ll just have to wait to see how their story plays out.  But before I write that book, I’ll be writing a short story about Jillian.

  • Besides writing, what is your favorite hobby that helps you relax?

I enjoy taking in kitties who need homes and finding the people who need a kitty to love. Remember everyone, please spay or neuter your pets!!!

It was great talking to you, Mistral! I wish you good luck with your future projects!

Mistral’s Book Links:

Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords

Social Media Links:

Mistral Dawn’s Musings Bloghttp://mistralkdawn.blogspot.com/

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/MistralKDawn

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/MistralKDawn

Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/Mistral-Dawn/e/B00NGXETSM/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Smashwords Author Page: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MistralDawn

Goodreads Author Page:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8549061.Mistral_Dawn

Dialogue vs. Narration

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We have all heard of the “Show and don’t tell” technique in fiction writing. It’s easier said than done, though. As, I am starting to write my next story, I have to constantly remind myself to not let go of this very important technique.

When you start to write a story, it is so much easier to simply narrate it like you would narrate to another person. However, books are different! Readers read books because they want to enjoy the process. They want to be able to make their own conclusions, feel emotions, solve mysteries etc.

Therefore as writers, we have to be aware while writing, if the words written will serve the purpose of stimulating the readers. It is a difficult task that a writer has to keep in mind every step of the way!

Whenever I start to write a new story, I revise my first two scenes (at least) several times until I feel like I have a good balance of dialogue vs. narration. Once I feel that I am in the zone, I keep writing…


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Chat with Author Anita Badhwar!

Author Anita Badhwar publishes children’s books. Lets chat with her today to get to know her better.

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  • Welcome Anita! Please tell us what inspired you to write children’s books?

I was inspired to write children’s books because I have always enjoyed creative writing. I’ve always felt that writing came very naturally to me, and that it was something that I excelled at. Also, I was motivated to write the Little Princess Rani and the Palace Adventures series because I found that there were very few Indian-themed books in the market for children.

  • I agree, it would have been nice to read your books to my daughter when she was little. Tell us a little more about the Little Princess Rani series?

All of the books in this series are based on my childhood experiences. As a child, I remember celebrating Holi in India, which gave me the inspiration to write Rani Celebrates Holi. My second book, Rani and the Safari Surprise! was inspired by a visit to Jim Corbett National Park and Rani Visits the Taj Mahal was based on a more recent trip to Agra, India. Rani Saves Diwali is based on how Diwali is celebrated in my family. My mother is a great source of information and my kids also provide great inspiration for some of the story-lines.

  • We all draw inspiration from others. Which author has inspired you the most? Why?

I think Ludwig Bemelmans, author of the Madeline series has inspired me the most. I remember reading the series in French in Canada (where I grew up) and enjoying reading all the books and simple illustrations.

  • What has been your most rewarding experience as an author?

My most rewarding experience is seeing people who don’t know much about India end up with a better understanding about India, Indian culture and festivals by reading my books.

  • That’s great! Do you have any book marketing tip you want to share with your fellow authors?

I think social media is the best place to promote and market your books. Of course, you need to decide which of the social media links work best for your book genre, which takes some research.

  • Which book are you working on next? Do you want to share a glimpse of it?

I haven’t quite decided yet on a theme for my fifth book of the Little Princess Rani series, but I am leaning towards writing about another festival.

It was great talking to you Anita. Good luck with all your projects!

Anita’s Book Link: Amazon.com

Social media Links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnitaBadhwar

Facebook: www.facebook.com/lilprincessrani

Tumblr: abadhwar.tumblr.com

Instagram: https://instagram.com/ABadhwar2

Interview with Author John Murphy

With great pleasure, I welcome Author John Murphy on my blog today. Lets chat with him about his sci-fi novel and writing in general.

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  • Congratulations on publishing your novel! Please tell us what inspired you to become a writer?

I wanted to accomplish something great with my life. I used to read novels during lunch breaks at work. I always thought that I could do it as well or better. So, I combined the two instincts and began writing in my early 30’s.

My earliest writing experience I recall is from 3rd grade when I created what I thought was a really spooky story. It got me sent to the principal’s office because they thought I might be crazy. If that’s not foreshadowing, I don’t know what is.

I used to carve things as a kid, making space ships out of clay and toilet paper tubes or walnuts. I did a great deal of drawing as a teen. In college, I used to paint murals on dormitory walls, and even in my kids’ bedroom. I’ve always had a creative and inventive streak in me, and writing is just one of several mediums. I took it up in earnest in 1992, completed a novel (after four re-writes, but never published), then began writing a non-fiction Success Without a College Degree a few years later and that changed the direction of my life. After another ten years, I came back to writing fiction, but I’ve been creative throughout. Even while writing my current novel, I’ve been creating graphics that illustrate scenes from the story.

  • How did you come up with the concept of your book? What was the inspiration behind it?

I’ve always been good at making up stories with a little bit of prompting. I read a lot of stories to my kids. However, I’d also make up adventure stories on the fly where the characters were just like them (the kids). Ten years ago I got into making short movies, and I’d create the story around the people I could recruit to be in the video (You can still watch them on YouTube). My youngest son and other friends in their late teens were interested in starring in one of these videos so I set out to write a screenplay.

I didn’t want to deal with drugs, pregnancy or any of the other “teen issues” so I opted for an elite military cadre training on a planet where the atmosphere makes you tell the truth. That was the genesis for the current sci-fi novel, Mission Veritas.

  • That’s very interesting! Who is your favorite character in your book? Why?

The protagonist, Killian, of course. In the ‘movie phase’ of this endeavor, my son was going to play Killian. However, I really like all of them. It is pure pleasure crafting characters, then finding clever ways to ‘characterize’ them through behavior and dialogue. I’m hoping that readers will pick up on the affection I hold for each character.

  • I feel that writing is very gratifying. What has been your most rewarding experience as an author?

Finishing the story. As other writers know, you never feel like you’re quite finished. One can re-write and tweak a story endlessly. Completing the project, getting it edited, proofed, and published means you can move on to the next story and not keep revisiting the first one. I meet a lot of people who tell me they’ve wanted to write a novel, or have started, but have never finished. Out of the gazillion wannabes, I followed through. Writing a novel is a marathon and even if I don’t finish first, I crossed the finish line.

  • How much research do you do for your books?

I can see how historic novelists research their period pieces, but my ‘period’ is in the future, so no one knows. I’m frequently going to the internet to research things about space, physics, and chemistry to make sure things I craft have some basis in science. Most of my non-writing efforts in this endeavor have been divided between studying the craft of writing, and teaching myself graphics so that I could illustrate scenes.

  • What advice do you have for an aspiring author?

Writing fiction can be crazy making. Not so much the writing itself, but getting people’s attention to read it and the marketing aspects. Change your expectations about the endeavor, or it will take a toll on you.

If you were to decide, “This year I’m going to start running and participate in a marathon,” you would be crazy to think you’d finish in the top ten percent. Yet, many new authors dream of their first draft achieving bestseller status, and a movie to be made of their stories. It could happen, but the odds are slim.

It is important to accept reality and derive your satisfaction from other important aspects of the writing process.

One such aspect is that, much like when you read and feel there’s a movie happening in your mind, writing is exactly the same, only better. You get to dwell in that “mind-movie” for months or years at a time, and it’s truly enjoyable because you really like the characters and story. It’s a lot like binge-watching an entire season of a TV show. It’s the best of the best. You never tire of reading your own writing because the author is so brilliant.

Another important aspect is to go into this endeavor knowing that you’ll have to improve your skills.

Many writers jump into it cold with no background. Still, it’s hard to read books on writing, then remember it all when you finally sit down to write. Write a bunch, then read books on writing. Go back, re-write, apply the bits of what you learned, then read more books on writing. Get advice from published authors or hire a critique service. You’ll learn by doing, making mistakes, and fixing them. It’s the same with any creative endeavor, like carving, painting, or making music. Start by assuming your first draft will be terrible and you’ll spend time learning more, re-writing, and becoming better. Resist the incredible urge to self-publish your first draft as an eBook. It’s very simple and cheap, but you’ll embarrass yourself (like I did). You improve through practice, study, and more practice. You’ll likely feel you’re becoming an expert, and there’s a good deal of satisfaction in that. Derive satisfaction from the process and from what you are learning. Writing is free and a pleasurable way to spend your time. If you have a story in mind – start writing! You’ll have a good time and grow as a result.

It was great chatting with you, John. Good luck with your future projects!

John’s Book Link: Amazon.com

Social Media Links:

Author’s website: www.MissionVeritas.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ArmOnToast

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/1missionveritas

Blog: www.ArmageddonOnToast.com