Archive for category The Unclassified Section

Wedding in the Family !!!

Via: Daily Prompt – Fragrance

 

The side effect of having been born and brought up, then living abroad my whole life is never truly bonding with relatives. Worse, with my father’s job as a diplomat resettling us country-from-country every half-a-decade, I sort of built a sense of emotional independence that to outsiders might seem like detachment. I’m the sort of person who is caring about everyone in general but close to only a tight-fisted handful. I won’t call to check up on people but if someone needed my help, I’m there – I like to help.

 

On the practical level, I find that there is just not enough time in the day to keep up with all the friends and relatives one accumulates over a lifetime. On the emotional level, I can never comprehend why anyone would want to keep up with my life – I don’t think I’ll ever stop feeling like an outsider – and therefore, I don’t give others the opportunity to reject me.

They find ways to reject me anyway.

Particularly my relatives. I don’t blame them. My relatives, especially cousins, have grown up with one another all their lives. They know each other’s interests and emotions on the root level. I grew up all over the place, my interests are not similar to theirs and neither are my emotions. My reactions are paused and analyzed while they tend to just lay it all out there. To my cousins, even after interacting with them at family gatherings for the last dozen years that we have been settled in Bangladesh, I’m that aloof girl who is too arrogant too self-sufficient to mix with them. Whereas, I feel that they are more engaged more involved with one another for me to penetrate the fold. It’s a vicious cycle and quite unbreakable.

When my father retired and we finally settled down in Dhaka, I had hoped that I would actually have the time to foster a proper bond with my cousins. This did not happen. The fault is mine. I had to get through my BBA and MBA and then “the corporate life” hijacked all of my attention. I realize now that given that I am the outsider, instead of expecting them to accommodate my lifestyle, I should have evolved enough to fit their calendars.

But instead, I subscribed to the Business Plan. You know, the one that is a grade above the Free Plan where you have not enough at stake to actually care about what goes on and therefore only receive spams but not as premium as where you get your own personal representative to always keep you up-to-date about the newest developments. It’s the plan that promises I will attend the family events just like anyone else but probably will not always be available for impromptu get-togethers and brunches on the side. The brunch invitations never came because the problem with interacting only at family gatherings is not knowing all the secrets that are shared during all the other meetings to understand what the discussions at these gatherings are really about. Still out of the loop.

In fact, it seems that settling down in Bangladesh has done more harm than good. When we lived abroad, I at least had the excuse of national borders to not know what is going on. But now that I live in the country, I have a moral obligation to subscribe to the family newsletter and contribute also by divulging all the secrets of my own dysfunctional life. I sound resentful and sarcastic, I know. No wonder they don’t like me.

Thankfully, I do have a set of cousins with whom I get along superbly. My mother’s favorite-sister-and-best-friend-for-all-purposes lives with her family just down the road. The proximity has made my interaction over the years frequent enough to form a true affection for one another. We share secrets and trade gossips and do all the things that cousins do. Of course, these cousins are some 7-9 years my junior, but I don’t let how pathetic that sounds stop me. I love them with all my heart and am pretty sure they feel the same way about me.

And one of them is getting married! The younger one has been living in the US the past year for his Ph.D. in applied physics and is returning for the tail end of summer vacation to marry his fiance. He will be here for only three weeks but we have been working tirelessly to get all the wedding paraphernalia ready in advance. Do you see that? WE are getting things ready. I’m in the fold of all the engagements and I have thrown myself in to participate and assist wherever I can – with relish. I’m facing all the crazy emotions and hurdles that weddings pose and I’m loving it. Let it be wrong shades of roses or raspberry filling instead of strawberries in the cake, I’m ready, baby!

Which is why I cannot post my regular WRITING CHRONICLES or WEDNESDAY REFLECTIONS the next couple of weeks. I hope the above ranting makes up for the truancy. But I cannot say that I’m sorry for the lapse as it is all in the cause of achieving one of my life goals.

Hooray for me!

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WRITING CHRONICLE #24: the happily ever after

Via: Daily Prompt – Quill & Caper

 

There is a growing trend of romance novels with alternative endings to HEA (Happily Ever After). There’s HFN (Happy For Now) and also conclusions that are not so happy at all – like hero/heroine/both die(s). This post is not about them. I’m a traditionalist when it comes to romance novel endings. I’m perfectly fine putting my romantic MCs through the mills during the conflict phase, but the resolution must be that they live and enjoy a full life together. Anything less than that is an overpromise – nay, a prank on the unwitting reader.

 

Which brings me to my next point. For centuries, happily ever after has received a bad rep (among non-romance-readers, at least) and to no fault of its own. I don’t understand why people feel that romance novels set “unreasonable expectations”; if anything, I believe they set a standard we should all aspire to. Why should a person settle for anything less than happiness in love? What else would be the point? And for those people who think “happily ever after” is equivalent to a permanent cheering charm, let me assure you, it’s not. It means that our couple now knows that to stay together they will have to work at it and face the ups-and-downs of relationship; but long as they are teamed up, they will remain content and it will be okay. In fact, that the couple goes through so many obstacles during the novel to reach that place where they decide they were meant to be together is a testament to their commitment. So happily ever after really just translates to

“Committed ever after. Happily.”

Having said that, for a romance author, attaining closure is not that easy. I mean, as a reader, you must’ve realized how each time you reach the end of a good book you feel that sense of bereavement when finally putting the book down, right? Well, you have spent only a handful of hours getting to know those characters; imagine what the author must’ve felt closing the book on those wonderful characters after giving birth to them and then nurturing them for months, maybe years. So a romance author (or any kind, for that matter) needs all the help he/she can get to give their writing that flourish.

So what does a good romance ending make?  Read the rest of this entry »

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WRITING CHRONICLE #23: prologues, anyone?

Via: Daily Prompt – Passenger & Sail

Image: Wikimedia, CC0

Prologues. Some authors swear by them; some readers roll their eyes at them and skip ahead. Me? I believe that, like most literary devices, prologues have their time and place, i.e. some stories need them while other stories are better off without them. If used with moderation-but-pizzazz, The Prologue is a vehicle that may really put your story into gear and make the reader buckle in. However, writers without a firm handle on the steering wheel may drive their story to an early death [especially when querying], so beware.

Ok, enough with the vehicular metaphors. Here are two lists of when and how prologues may work – or not:

Read the rest of this entry »

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WRITING CHRONICLE #22: ATTN Authors

Via: Daily Prompts – Wheel

submission

I actually don’t have any pompous writing tips or savories for this week. Rather, I have been contemplating a conundrum regarding genres and I’m just going to throw it out there to see if any of you fellow novelists will pick it up and get it rolling:

How important are trending subgenres in selecting the premise for the stories you write?

Allow me to explain a bit more on why this question has been niggling me. I have noticed more and more publishers these days send out CTA for romance novel submissions in very specific subgenres such as:

“Big high concept contemporary romance”

“Sexy alpha-alien science fiction romance”

“HEA or HFN erotic romances without major focus on character development, extreme conflict or drawn-out plots”

Not to sound like a genre snob or anything but I don’t actually know what the first submission call is asking for, haven’t ever read anything from the second one, and regarding the third, well, really? But whatever these subgenres are, they seem to be selling like hotcakes. Somewhere along the lines of Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey, my commune with the genre of romance picked up a crossed connection.

Of course, because I write romances, I searched out CTAs for romance novel submissions but I get the feeling that authors from other genres must face similar dilemmas: to succumb to the trend or write what holds meaning for me as a storyteller?

Any advice, authors?

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#AuthorToolbox 03: head-hopping and migraines

 

In my twentieth installation of WRITING CHRONICLES, I went into great details about the various types of narrators and POVs that may be used in storytelling. A perusal will tell you that jumping POVs in the middle of scenes is one of my pet peeves. Of course, a scene may be told from the perspective of different characters but there are proper etiquettes to these things. When you are having a conversation with someone, how much would you enjoy being interrupted by the other person while talking? Or worse, if a third party straggler just decided to insert themselves into your discussion midway? The narrator and the reader develop a bond over the course of a story that requires similar decorum. Each character must wait their turn to have their say.  Read the rest of this entry »

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WRITING CHRONICLE #21: The Liebster Blog Award

Via: Daily Prompt – Blossom & Bottle

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So! I have been nominated for the Liebster [Blog] Award and I thank Louise Brady over at DRAGONSPIRE UK for it. Louise’s blog has a host of wonderful stories and TV show reviews that fantasy lovers would relish. There are also these little anecdotes from her personal experiences as a writer and editorial intern that aspiring authors may find useful – I know I gained new perspectives from them. Thank you, Louise, for both the nomination and the camaraderie.

The Liebster Award is a fellowship of chain-nomination that encourages bloggers to keep up the good work and flourish, helps readers to discover new blogs and learn more about their writer(s), and foster… fellowship among bloggers. You can learn more about the award from the link above but, here, allow me to move on to the responsibilities that goes with accepting the nomination, i.e. the rules:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog – Done.

2. Answer the 11 questions the person asked you – Well, here goes…  Read the rest of this entry »

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WRITING CHRONICLE #20: Of narrators and POVs

Via: Daily Prompt – Imaginary

hands-woman-apple-desk

I thought I would go back to the basics this week with a brief on the various types of narrators and POVs fiction writers employ. I have gotten my reading mojo back thanks to The Ex-Wife’s Survival Guide by Debby Holt (you can read my review here) and have been indulging heavily in my TBRs since. Needless to say, I have written very little in the meantime but it’s okay for once since I just published a book, yay. But the point is, I was reading a novel over the weekend and it made me reflect on how even established and traditionally-published authors sometimes get their POVs all mixed up. I pondered maybe it’s because once we become “mainstream”, we stop revising the guidebooks on creative writing, maybe we become complacent.

For me, keeping my POV on the straight and narrow is fundamental. Your story is the product of your imagination but that does not mean it does not deserve your full attention in selecting the right devices and techniques to make the storytelling impactful. And jumping POV-to-POV, and selecting different narrative styles in one book is a rookie mistake that should have been corrected during the editing process. So I hit the academic texts and Googled and brushed up on the subject because part of choosing the right narrative style and POV for your story is knowing all the options out there. I thought I’d share my notes with fellow writers here just in case there were others also needing to pace themselves.

Narrator – According to my ‘A’ Level textbook Literature, Criticism, and Style by Steven Croft and Helen Cross (Oxford), the narrative is “a piece of writing that tells a story”. So by means, the narrator is the person, animal, or object that is telling the story. This storyteller is inserted into the text most often as an imaginary entity separate from the author whether or not he/she is a character living within the story. In essence, it is the voice that describes what is happening.

Point of View (POV) – The POV is the perspective from which the narrator tells the story. Whether the narration is conducted from a singular POV or multiple, I have always felt that the POV breaks down and identifies the various components of the storyteller’s voice, i.e. the personality, style, tone of the narrator. It demonstrates to us the level of involvement with which the narrator relates the tale, how far into the story the narrator is willing to insert themselves.

While the narration and the POV are closely related and often overlap, the distinction is that the former is the device with which the plot is moved forward, the characters are revealed, the setting is built, etc., while the latter allows the reader to experience the story from the angle(s) that makes these various illustrated components relevant and relatable.

The most common forms of narrators are the first person, second person, third person limited, and third person omniscient. However, academicians have further broken down the types of narrators to include the [detached] observer or third person objective, commentator, and unreliable narrator. The following is a description of each of these major types of narrators with an example of popular works where they were successfully employed:  Read the rest of this entry »

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WRITING CHRONICLES #19: nitty-gritty to watch out for when publishing

When writing fiction with the intention of reaping glory or sale, it is very important not to become overly simplistic about one’s passion for the act of writing. So you have a great story to tell, so it’s all you can think about, so the high will not be tamped until you have flushed the words onto some surface for later reading. But if you want others to feel even nearly as passionately about your work as you do, it is important to keep your eye on some of these following rules:

  1. Write a story that your audience wants to read not just the one you want to tell. A little compromise can take you a long way. You have built up your writing voice by reading up on a particular genre and know what you enjoy. Well, since the books you are reading sell, there are others with similar needs as yours. Invest in a little research to see what this audience is actually looking for when they pick up the same books as you do instead of relying on guesswork, imagining that your customers are just more of you. Hard data is a trouble worth the results they will get you.
  2. Be honest about what you are writing. I know, it seems to contradict the previous rule, because if you are writing to market to an audience, then how are you also writing the truth? Simple, if you don’t believe in it, don’t dish it. Writing exists on a truth-enhancement continuum. Find your place on this spectrum and go with it. One way to do this is by drafting your ideas, outlines, cluster passages/chapters before going into the research part. You have gotten the passionate bits recorded so now you may calm down and employ some cool calculation. Remember, if fiction writing was not a professional career, it wouldn’t have a whole gamut of systematic rules to getting published.
  3. Hit the nail with a strong opening. When readers are shopping for new books, whether at a brick-and-mortar or at a dot-com, a lot of them will flip the first few pages to see if they can connect with the content. This means they will go through the first chapter, poem, or what have you. Most online book retails also provide a “Look Inside” or similar preview tools to entice shoppers. Your opening scene can be a powerful marketing tool and you should make the most of it. I posted a blog on creating great First Impressions previously that you may wish to check out 🙂
  4. Add viable conflict. Interestingly, this is a point that requires mentioning because a lot of novel (as in, new) writers forget while in the throes of writing that even though the conflict must tempt the readers to turn pages, it must also match your character and plot personality. It’s all good when James Bond is flying through Bangkok in an airborne tuk-tuk but will this the way the good reverend would travel to deliver his Sunday sermons?
  5. Length does matter so it’s best not to prolong the conflict unnecessarily. Despite the fact that I hate when a good book comes to an end, I can appreciate that all good things must be enjoyed in moderation. Adding conflict after conflict, dishy scenes after dishy scenes might be enjoyable to you but will probably diminish the value of your book. When outlining your story, make sure you always keep the scenes and chapters you add remain true to why you are telling that particular story. Nip anything irrelevant when you edit. This is especially true with today’s readers who have endless TBRs to get to.
  6. Don’t info dump on your readers. Again, just because you put in all that effort into your research, doesn’t mean you keep looking for ways to pass on all that you learned while writing. The entire chronicles of Queen Mary’s rivalry with Queen Elizabeth I is probably irrelevant in a historical romance novel about a lowly girl marrying a duke just because the setting is 16th century England.
  7. Finally, write a good blurb. No one knows the story better than you – yet, most authors have a difficult time arranging a summary that emotively allures readers to their novels while not giving away the end. Authors, by nature, tend to bounce back and forth between a state of self-importance and diffidence. Even before reading the first chapter, your audience will judge you by the synopsis on the back of your book jacket. It doesn’t matter how epic your story is, before the word-of-mouth goes viral, you will have to rely on those first few readers. And unless you are able to convince them with a blaring announcement selling them why your story is worth spending a day of their life on, your book will probably languish on their shelves for eternity. When writing the blurb, put yourself in a book reviewer’s shoes and make sure you remember to add that very valuable conflict that makes the story important. It took me only about a hundred try to get my blurb for Bad Daughter to satisfy me, and let me tell you, it looks a lot different from the original blurb I had posted on Amazon. It currently reads like this:

BAD DAUGHTERWhat would you do if you were taught that the price of safety is silence?
At the age of six years, Obaira Osman was sexually abused by her uncle, the memory of which she manages to keep buried for a decade. At sixteen, she is a dedicated daughter, loving sister, and an ideal student. When she wins a national essay writing competition and finds herself wooed by the most handsome and intelligent boy in school, life seems like it couldn’t get any better – even if cultural constraints demand she keeps her love affair a secret. However, after a planned rendezvous, which should have been a simple rite of passage, goes awry, Obaira’s memory of a terrifying past comes crashing around her and she realizes she has been far from being the perfect daughter. Her response is to shackle herself to the rules and regulations of her home environment in order to reclaim the safety she once knew to be true.

What if you one day realized that the cost of silence is freedom?
Over the next two decades, she finds herself atoning for the burden of shame that is her legacy. She attempts to earn back her parents’ faith even while trying to find peace by lending a voice to women who have been crushed by similar forms of abuse – much to her conservative parents’ chagrin. But she is kinder to the women she helps than to herself, as she remains unwilling to accept a second chance when fate takes her across the world to the doorstep of the man who just may be the one to emancipate her tortured soul.

I’m sure there are about a thousand other rules to keep on the lookout when writing fictions to sell, but these seem to be some common mistakes authors make. I know, I am guilty of at least half of them 😐

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WEDNESDAY REFLECTION #18: free! free! free!

Via: Daily Prompt – Survive

FREE EBOOK SATURDAY

Image Designed on Canva

You must be wondering why I’m posting my Wednesday Reflection on a Thursday night-Friday morning. Yes, that is indeed how long I reflected on this issue. And I have decided that this week, instead of reviewing works of others, I shall engage in shameless self-promotion and request review for my own work. After all, it’s been a whole week since Bad Daughter was published via Kindle Select and all the factors – starting from being an unrecognized self-published author to trying to advertise online using the rigidly controlled monetary outflow imposed by Bangladesh Bank to having my book initially under lockdown to appear only on Amazon UK – have cast my book into the pit of obscurity in the reader’s market. Tinkering all day on Facebook Ad Manager to only receive continuous “your ad has not been approved” e-mails (tell me, what is wrong with the above creative?) has not been a ball of laughs either. So I return to my one outpost of comfort, WordPress. A girl has to survive somehow…

I’m sorry to be in such a choleric mood tonight but choleric I am. I went to the bank twice this week in order to get my dollars endorsed so I can run some campaigns on Facebook and Twitter. When I finally returned home successful, I was primed to conquer the world of social media engagement, believing my years of honed marketing communications skills would, at last, come into use for my own product. I had spent all of 2015 and most of 2016 running pre-opening launch campaigns and post-opening promotions for a global chain hotel online so I though this should be as easy as 1-2-3. Not so. My ad, as mentioned above, has been rejected by FB numerous times and all the feedback I receive is a vague “does not meet the Ad Policy Guidelines”. No direction as to which policy it violates. I have tried changing everything from the creative to the target audience to the objectives… it just does not stick. And always the same vague feedback, even upon appeal. With Twitter, I can’t even seem to upload all the information properly before the page routes to error. All this has made me wonder if I am a total web illiterate. In which case, how the hell did I manage a quarter of a million dollars in PR earnings and Social Media engagements for our hotel’s grand launch campaign in 2015?

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Image: Bidinotto

Which brings me to the reason why I was trying to run ad campaigns on Facebook and Twitter. I realize it’s a bit like putting the cart before the horse but I finally have planned out a marketing schedule to campaign my book. My first objective is to simply get people to read and review it. So I have set up a Free eBook Download promotion for this Saturday and Sunday (to run according to Pacific Standard Time) on Amazon. The links to my book (by market) are provided at the bottom of this post and all a reader needs to do is download the eBook and read it via Kindle App, which is available for free on iOS, Android, PC, and Mac. The image to the right says “Buy My Book…” but, this Saturday, purchase is not even necessary. All I’m requesting people at this point is download it for free, read it at your leisure, and if you think it’s worth a review, please return to Amazon and leave a couple of words. Do I sound desperate? Well, it’s because I’m feeling pretty desperate. You might be thinking I’m losing it too soon but my frustration reaps from the deluge of technical difficulties I’m facing. Because, you know, even if I don’t get stellar reviews, it would still mean people read it.

The good news is, at least the Free eBook Download is scheduled for the weekend. Nothing can go wrong there anymore, right? Knock on wood.

Links to download Bad Daughter by Region:

Amazon UK

Amazon Australia

Amazon Brazil

Amazon Canada

Amazon France

Amazon Germany

Amazon India

Amazon Italy

Amazon Japan

Amazon Mexico

Amazon Netherlands

Amazon Spain

And yes, I’m still waiting for the book to become purchasable in the USA, even though I re-selected the country as the primary market.

Update: It’s finally on Amazon US, yay!

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WRITING CHRONICLE #18: A note on Contest Submission & other accomplishments

Via: Daily Prompt – Unmoored

 

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So Friday I finally submitted my story for the Amazon UK Kindle Storytelling contest, as I had mentioned in last month’s blog. My planned 20K-word novelette turned into a 34,480-word project. You must be thinking, ooh… an editing crisis, right? Not so much, I hope. I kept everything that was relevant to get the story to the finish. I stuck to the plot outline, scripted only the scenes necessary to develop my characters, and did not embellish on the descriptive narratives. I stayed 100% flourish-free. At least, I tried.

This is how I can break down my work on this submission:  Read the rest of this entry »

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