Thursday, July 7, 2016

Romancing the Rains...

What is it about the rains that makes a pluviophile's heart go a flutter?

Is it the first raindrop that lands on your head unawares till your fingers that were carelessly combing your unruly hair discover it prompting an impromptu giggle?

Is it the uncanny godliness of the fresh-earth smell that bowls you over?

Could it be the damp nose of your dog that feels drier but cooler and more lovable than usual?

Is it the shorty drizzle or the longish, plump droplets that travel faster than your shamelessly stark ogle and reach the ground?

Is it that heart-skips-a-beat feeling that brings back fond memories of your first brush with romance?

It could be a million things, or more.

I feel it is more about 'romancing the rains' rather than 'romancing in the rains'. It is like falling in love with the idea of love, not with a specific person. But then the person, even if imaginary, would be a welcome treat!

A perfect rainy day is one that allows you to laze in your den with your favorite murder-mystery, a hot cup of coffee, and your dog curled up next to you. You can listen to the sound of the rains and appreciate the magnificence from your window or balcony. And of course, you have a soulful 'raga' playing in the background. It could also be a 'ghazal' or a 'soft romantic' Arijit Singh number. Total bliss.

The perfect rainy day could also be one when you are by the sea -either at the beach or in a cafĂ©, gazing at the beauty unfolding in front of your eyes. All you do is appreciate what you witness and immerse yourself in that unrestrained love.

Ah well... a perfect rainy day could also be one which brings old friends or family together - a chance encounter perhaps.

As your mind wonders and wanders, enjoy romancing the rains :)

Thursday, June 30, 2016

How hard-hitting are betrayals?

No, I am not talking about betrayals in love. How often have you been cheated by friends? Or is that also ‘cool’ these days? Regardless of how we look at it, I am sure most of us have tasted deceit in friendship at least once in life. 
Sensible people don’t waste time thinking about it. They cut off the disloyal person from their life and move on. Sensitive people sulk, write blogs, and waste a lot of time before finally accepting the fact that they have been fooled.

I don’t know if I would characterize myself as sensible or sensitive. Perhaps it depends on the person and your relationship with him/her. Some betrayals make you feel bad but you ignore them as they don’t matter. Others might leave you angry, upset, irritated, or shocked.

The worst kind of betrayal is that which comes from someone who has mastered the art of pretence. You will be ignorant of the skilful way the ‘friend’ will extract information from you and use it to suit their interests. While you trust the person in good faith, you will have no clue what they are up to behind your back!
The reveal will shock you and the puzzle will look impossible. When you see your friend enjoying the exact opposite things they swore to you they abhor, don’t be surprised. This is just the beginning. You will soon find them hanging out with the people they said were in their ‘hate’ list.
Then you need to stir your memory bank a bit so as to allow it to replay some incidents that had irked you when they had occurred. For instance, once upon a time, this person had relentlessly cajoled you to badmouth people they claimed they hated (the same people they have befriended now)! You thank God now that you had refused to utter anything negative back then.
If that is not enough, your so-called friend will try to sweet-talk you into something again, unaware that his/her true colours have been revealed to you. If you ignore, s/he will sever ties with you and make it look like you broke the bond!
Be patient. Your puzzle pieces will come together.
So, next time before you make the statement - “My friend XYZ can never do that,” think again. As the saying goes: “Never say never.”

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Challenges of Being 'One Book' Old!

Before my first book The Sinister Silence was published (my second isn’t out yet!), my goal was to ‘get published’. Like Arjuna who focused on the ‘bird's eye’ with single-minded resolve, my aim was to get ‘published’. It was a gruelling process and in one of my earlier blog posts, I recounted my journey from writer to author .

However like most first-time authors, I realized that once you are published, your challenge has only begun. Here's why!

1. Managing expectations – If people have liked your book, your next book must be even better. It is a writer’s responsibility to challenge herself to come up with a better second book. So, keep writing, come what may!
2. Managing distractions – Authors are tempted to google their names, check Amazon rankings every now and then, stay ‘social’ and connect with readers. This may get tiring after a while. Remember: A writer’s mind needs to be fresh so that new ideas can reside there.
3. Keeping up the momentum – A book launch or reading is not enough! You have to keep at it, generate interest among readers in multiple ways all the time!
4. Online visibility – Thanks to technology, people don’t just buy books from physical bookstores anymore. The online community is overflowing with activity – people buy online all the time. So staying visible online – real-time – becomes important. But a writer can’t always do that. You need to write - remember?
5. Book reviews – Getting a professional to review your book is another challenge. The number of authors getting published is increasing every day. Ditto with the number of reviewers. There is also the option of subscribing to 'review packages'. I am not comfortable paying money to get my book reviewed. But then, it works well for some authors, which is good. So those who don’t opt for ‘paid reviews’, don’t get XX number of reviews to showcase on social media. So, you have lost a certain percentage of audience there too!
6. Review on Goodreads – Unlike Amazon or Flipkart, the reviews listed at Goodreads are not necessarily from people who have purchased a book through an online store. Anyone with a Goodreads account can randomly rate/review a book. Someone may just dismiss your labour-of-love with a 'one rating' even if they haven't read it! So new authors - please don't lose sleep over reader ratings :). However, Goodreads is a nice place to be for those who love reading and enjoy maintaining reading lists.
7. Building your brand – Attending book-readings, talks, events etc. and interacting with people to increase your reader-base is important, especially if you are only a-book-old. If events are not possible offline, authors can also organize such events online. The challenge is that you will need to invest a lot of time from your daily schedule for such activities. Rome was not built in a day, you see!
8. Active blogging – is important to stay 'alive' in your reader’s mind. The curiosity around the book will die down a few months after the book release. To stay connected with your readers, you need to stay in touch through your writing.
9. Time management – This is crucial, especially if you already have a day job. To market your book, schedule promotions, and interact with readers while at your full-time job is no mean feat. Plan your time and time your plan. Set goals with deadlines. 
10. Writing your next book – This is THE most important thing to do if you want to live the life of an author. To seclude yourself and continue writing amid all the distractions, temptations, and book promotions is a tough call. Nevertheless, like Arjuna again – the focus should be unwavering. A writer needs to write - that's the core requirement. That is your true calling.

Good luck to all new, old, and aspiring writers! Cheers to your writing journey!