Today, Sandcastles turned one. And it is sometimes appalling how fast time flies. There is a giveaway contest running on Instagram on the occasion until next weekend, ending on December 7th, 2019.
I created this anniversary trailer today and gave a voice-over for the first time in my life. To be honest, I am very shy when it comes to speaking or facing a camera. So, have not ventured to youtube or IGTV yet. But when I tested this today, for a moment, I felt like, wth, just do it. Go put it out there and there it is! Lol.
So, if you haven't grabbed a copy of Sandcastles yet, take it from me - I may not write like that again. It is my debut work, but there is a compelling passion stitched into its words and pages, when I wrote that book. Those people I lived with for years and some days, I miss them so badly. Even as I wrote my second novel and began the third, I miss being with Selena, Ria, Trisha, Neil and Vincent. I miss those characters who dwelt in me and lived through my fingertips so much like they are family. I miss the Sana who wrote that book as well because these days, my writing and thought process are very different from those days. My themes of interest too have undergone some change although it will always have something to do with childhood, growing up, love, traumas, family and mental health.
My writing rants aside, I have decided to do something through my blog. I get several questions from aspiring writers about writing, mostly about how-to's of which I can only speak from my experience, and much about publishing as well. And it is becoming difficult for me to answer them individually because these topics are unarguably wide.
So now on, each blog post will have something that will help you forward in your journey as a writer - lessons learned, tried and tested tips that work and writing motivation in general. I will also share links to useful articles that have helped me and guided me along the path over the years.
Hence, The Writeous Way shall become true to its name, Insha Allah. :) Are you game?
Of course I will rant at times. But I will do this, too.
So, peeps, what are you reading now? What is you favourite genre? And what do you want to know about writing? Leave your answers in the comments so that I address them in the next post.
Reading Now: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
So until next time, Adieu!
Onto the little things of joy first - well, the first one of it! Guess what?!
Sandcastles went all the way up to the Shortlist for ARL Literary Awards for Best Author, 2018. Being one among the last five to compete for the award among a hundred and more titles is the best thing to happen to this debut novel of mine!
Here goes the Certificate of Appreciation for getting nominated!
Some Rant and Don'ts!
Although I have had a few moments of glory and pride this past month, I had been overworked and slightly off the grid due to personal reasons. Writing fell back really bad and my work in progress was literally crawling on all four. These episodes are a part of my life and I do get over it from time to time. And this time, when I finally felt better, I wrote a short piece about why it is okay to be depressed at times and how it feels during such phases.
I, for one, have been at it since long. Perhaps since my late teens. And poetry and writing in general was catharsis and therapy for me. Major life changes can be huge setbacks when we are in a position facing it. And here's my two cents about what someone who goes through such a major life change and is having a hard time adjusting to it and even accepting it, doesn't want from you:
This does away with almost everything you would try with someone who is depressed. And you are probably wondering, well, what is this woman thinking? Or why is this woman thinking for us?
I am thinking for myself. And giving you the shoes you need to wear before you jump the gun with solutions to other people's problems (which is a sugarcoated form of judging). Here's what works almost always:
Respect their spatial needs. Be there when they ask for it - that is if you want to be.
Well, now, peace!
The Art of Acceptance - there's my latest article on Acceptance and Contentment at The Post India published today. Give it a read although mostly, I wrote it as self-help. ;) What if it helped one more person? :)
And the next best thing to happen was....
Recently, I embarked on one of my all time dreams - apart from being an author - I started painting. I always cowered from getting to know the canvas, brushes and paints like acrylics and oil paints. I confined to the limitations of sketching pencils, colour pencils and lately a bit of oil pastels. When I finally touched the canvas with paints, the unwinding effect of using art for therapy was immense. Believe me, splashing some colours really does away with some amount of distraught when you are not at your prime. And when the writer's block (yes, it happened) came up very badly, this helped to purge. That is my first seascape. :) Pretty rad for starters, right? Checkout my instagram (click the icon on top or bottom of the site) for my previous works. New ones on the way!
So that's about the news. I post all updates on Social Media on a regular basis. However, getting around to writing a blog post is still a monthly or longer process for me. But then, my current project is progressing very well and I am racing towards the end of it.
As usual, however, reading is falling behind. And now I've got one more thing to do - art. Whatever it takes to fill the emptiness inside. :)
Have a lovely day ahead, all!
Love and peace,
Latest article: The Art of Acceptance
Summer has rolled in all of a sudden here in Kerala, erasing the wintry chill without a trace. Even the night air is warm and the days are burning sunny. At times, cool breezes blow in and one such breeze held this awesome news that an author can only sometimes dream of!!!
Sandcastles was published on November 30th, 2018 - just eligible by hairline luck to be submitted for participation in ARL Literary Award 2018 - a new award launched in 2018 for various categories like Best Author, Best Debut Author, Best Poet, Most Popular Book, Most Influential author etc for books published between January 2016 and November 2018. Sandcastles being a debut novel, I submitted it under Best Debut Author Category and Best Author Category, to test myself. Well, guess what?
Sandcastles has secured a place in the ARL Literary Award 2018 for Best Author Longlist announced on February 10th, 2019!!!
Can you believe it? Sometimes I can't but maybe, you should check out the book for yourself and decide. ;)
I will be back soon - as soon as possible, that is - with some points on writing. Day before yesterday, I had an interactive session to talk about my journey to Sandcastles in the monthly meet up of The Wordsmiths Club in Calicut. In the quaint seaside Bokchoy Beach Cafe, overlooking the Calicut beach, it was a warm gathering of word lovers. However, time
constraints made me skip elaborating on writing techniques and much more.
So, soon I will be doing a few posts on what I think can push you into writing better, writing regularly and effectively. Let's see how it can fare. Yeah?
Reading Now: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Writing Now: The Storyteller
So long! Have a great week !
I know I'm not a very regular person when it comes to blogging. But then, I do juggle a lot everyday. And with Instagram and Facebook page presence, everyday, there is a kind of microblogging. But I got a few moments today and thought, I might as well tell here what I have been telling for a week. Just for the record. :)
The largest book fair in India has commenced - Delhi World Book Fair at Pragati Maidan witnesses around 25K footfalls every day of the fair. This year, it is from 5th to 13th January, 2019.
Sandcastles is shelved there and whoever's roaming the place, do get to the stall of Kharidobecho book shopping stall - Stall 78, Hall 12, Pragati Maidan.
On January 13th, I will be out there as well, from 11 AM to 1 PM, signing books and chatting. Looking forward to meeting y'all whoever's going to be there.
Reviews have begun coming in. A few book bloggers are on Sandcastles and they have had the sweetness to give me honest reviews full of love for the book. Check out the first few reviews here. Organic, unpaid reviews in return for a free review copy - totally at their disposal. :)
Well, that's about news!
Further, for the convenience of those who have any difficulties placing your order for Sandcastles at the publisher's store, I have whipped up a simple order form on this website to place your order and make your payment through secure methods like Paytm QR Code, BHIM UPI, PayPal or Direct Bank Transfer (IMPS or NEFT) without any extra steps. All you would need is Paytm, BHIM UPI or mobile banking linked to your bank account which enables easy transactions through mobile apps.
I have also added a column asking to enter the account holder name or account number or your UPI ID, so that I can confirm who made payments so as to process the orders. So ensure you enter all details correctly including the choice of payment method and you are done. Alternatively, you can opt for COD (Cash on Delivery) which will be done through VPP, but with a considerable delay since I will have to wait for the books to arrive from the publisher.
So if you are not in Delhi, go ahead and check out my brand new order form where you can grab it for ₹260 with free shipping. :)
Now, what are you waiting for? ;)
Off with Sunday stuffs now!
Last year, I took a sabbatical from Facebook, called it a 'virtual detox' and it went on for 7 months. I had written about it in a post about writing here - how it helped me - yeah, it helped me finish half of the first draft of the second book. Later, I had set out on an editing spree with my mentor, kneading, cutting and shaping Sandcastles into a readable,
I had a huge break from that work in progress - the second book - and it really just got stuck for me. For months, I simply didn't even open the file. I wanted to but couldn't.
Often, such writer's block is a lack of courage and sense of direction. I was overwhelmed. I knew the ending. I knew how it went that way. I just had to fill in the pages to reach there as best as I could. But I couldn't write. I let myself loose - tried not to force-write. But once my debut got settled and finally found a home, I began thinking - what next?
I had excuses not to write. I had excuses for everything. I let myself believe those excuses. And then, I realized, excuses were just justifications for lack of priority and not lack of time. And when it comes to writing, I cannot think of it as anything less than a priority. Writing is important to me but I was not getting it done!
I opened the file. I have had change of thoughts and scenes over the time. Even writer's blocks cannot actually interfere with the streaming of the story images in the head. I had to get it out if I wanted to get it read. I discussed the prospectives with my ever-supportive mentor and editor-in-one friend, Prof. Varghese C. Abraham.
This past week, I have been editing and making changes to it with my newfound brilliance. Lol. Yeah, right, wiser as we grow older. :D
Today was a lovely Sunday - one of the most satisfying one I have had in recent times. Low carb cooking is really easy on me. I spent double time on laundry, the semi-automatic washing machine giving me time to edit the manuscript written so far. Around 51K words had been down in it during the virtual detox time. Now it has dropped down to 49K. Now building up again.
And these days, I spend as little time as possible online and definitely, it works. It is a whole globe of distraction away from your brain. But just now, I realized a few things about my writing journey that called to be shared.
1. The writing journey of the first book and that of the second are totally different. A lot of factors differ. Especially the level of passion. Writing is always a passionate affair for me but when I wrote my first book, there was a blissful oblivion, a race against the destiny. I wrote to find the story. I wrote to know what happened to them and that will be obvious to the reader. I was halfway through the book when the real twist of the story flashed to me. It was like being let in on a secret. Discovering a hidden truth. Unraveling it as I wrote. I think that propelled my writing forward.
As for this book, I already know what happened to everybody. I have even the end written (which will change. Sandcastles no more has the same beginning I had written in the first draft - LOL!). I just need to tell the world what happened and why and how. I find myself having to settle down with a sense of purpose now. Nevertheless, it is a story I need to tell and that is keeping me at it. But before I opened the document this time, I made a few changes to the story-line, changed the setting and decided to add and take a few aspects in the story. So, now, it feels like I have to discover how that makes the characters behave. Voila! So, take a detour when you are blocked, writers out there!
2. I chucked my side job - content writing - to become a full-time writer. Horrifying? True that I can't go on an online shopping spree like before when I feel depressed. But that's good - I'm running out space in my room.
The reason was, being a job that took my writing skill, it really meddled between passion and profession. One was love and the other was duty/responsibility or whatever it is. I was constantly in emotional dichotomy. I was always told passion cannot feed me but it looked like for the time being, I had enough food around me.
My medical practice doesn't interfere with writing. It gives me some extra time which may not be easily available at home as a family woman. But when I had pending works and deadlines and when it called for my creativity and writing skills to complete them, it really took a toll on my creative writing.
I realized I was doing neither of them well.
I had to make the cut - now or never. I chose writing over money. I know it is a test of luck but I was more concerned about the test of faith. I had to have faith in my own words. I resigned from the job because whenever I opened worksheets, I felt bad that I was not writing what I wanted to. And whenever I thought of writing my book, I was using the job to excuse myself from my own passion, feeling guilty. I have decided to take my passion as my profession for real now, apart from medicine and psychology.
So here I am, not dichotomied anymore. I killed my excuses and opened my manuscript.
And it feels like heaven. For once, I have done the right thing by myself.
I have taken the writeous way. :)
The only regret is I should have done it earlier. But then, better late than never!
What has been that one decision that changed your life for the better?
Let me know. :)
Reading now: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn.
Just look at that. How the girl rains the sand over her sandcastle. How the sun rises behind her. How lonely she looks. How lovely the cover looks...
This is it materializing. One dream down. 😊
Thanks to some people who made this happen, especially Mr. Devbrat Dubey of Turquoise Publishing, who extended me the traditional contract , believing in my writing.
My author life story is gonna come up here over a few posts. The series will talk about writing techniques, editing tips and some things that a new writer will want to know on the journey from manuscript to book.
Meanwhile, why not pre-order your copy while it is on sale at the publisher's website? Click on the button below this post. If you dig signed copies or reside abroad, kindly get in touch through contact page with your address details.
Show me some love, yeah!
"When the soul was wanderlust, there was only one way to move on - taking the journey. The walk in the desert was a blend of reality and surrealism. Every poem an oasis, but every page a mirage. This shiny blue mirage that drew me in to dive in and quench my parched soul..."
Mirage is love from a safe distance, beauty from within, a relief to the believing eye. Mirage is what keeps the journey going on, for the sake of love and hope. Mirage is 'reflections untouched'...
This is what I think of The Mirage. :)
This is a quick and short announcement post. The Mirage is out. :) Get your copy on Amazon.com. More links later. I got the opportunity to contribute a poem to this lovely book. Thanks to the author Nithin Jacob for that.
Last week, I finished editing the third draft of my novel. The editing was a targeted one - killing more than my darlings. For those who are struggling with their own fiction book drafts will know what I mean. If I had known what a double-edged blade the word count was back when I had begun the story, I would have had less to massacre. But a few things I know now are real good things. :)
The darlings are often flab.I am sure a lot of the good bits in a story often dissolve in the process, but then we all are pretty emotional with our first drafts. The task was daunting, more so for me because my word count was herculean. It was a highly emotional, foolish, 250K words long first draft. And I did a wipe-out in three drafts and brought it down to 140K words. I have stopped at that because I am still its author and to shrink it further, it needs a second eye - a more objective one. Albeit, the work I did on it is not slight and I am proud of myself about that. And all along, I have kept the plot in tact.
April came with a lovely news. A cool online journal accepted my poem for publication in their Spring Issue 'Love and Ensuing Madness'. I had already shared the news about my poem 'Valentine Box' appearing in the 'Rat's Ass Review'. For those who missed it, here's the link to the journal's page with my poem.
And then came the acceptance email from Ashvamegh International Journal of English Literature. As one of the two featured poets of the journal's May 2016 Issue. All five poems that I had sent them for publication have been included. And then again, for anyone who missed the announcement, you can read it here: Sana Rose - Featured Poet for May 2016.
A PDF copy of the May Issue of the Journal can be downloaded from the link below. Or feel free to visit the website at ashvamegh.net and get it from there while you checkout the previous issues.
What are the books on your to-read shelf this season? I have a couple of classics and literary stuffs and some women's fiction, too.
Currently reading: Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto
To read this monsoon:
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
And a few other ebooks, too. :)
I'm having more fun than ever now. The baby jargon has developed into baby words and the toddler-on-the-loose is all the more specific and noisy. This summer was way too sticky, melting warm and I feel exhilarated to see the heat has toned down considerably. I hope it will be raining cats and dogs by the time I am back with next post. :)
Until then, adieu!
Finally, that email has come. :)
It was quite unexpected, because Poetry doesn't sell.
However, some people do work for it. And keep up the hopes. And my second collection of poetry 'The Room of Mirrors: Reflections in Verse' is finally with a publisher.
I don't want to flaunt my rejection letters, or say I received a hundred and one of them. I have been rejected, yes. But I believed that what mattered was that the book was out there for poetry lovers to read.
I had decided that I would do an ebook of it as well, just like my first book (which became an E-book not from rejections, but from termination of the contract for good because poetry deserves better) - in case it was rejected again and again. My poetry was changing, and this collection would get old in no time.
But just before the inevitable sigh of disappointment, I got it - a very positive letter from the editor of a good literary publisher with markets I adore.
The manuscript is going into their editing process shortly. Cheers to poetry and those who value it!
I have been in a very elite mood, and for those who have been stalling, here is a word - because I just did it!
P.S. If you would like to take a look inside my head - the poet, writer and art lover - and if you're on Instagram - give me a visit : instagram.com/sanarosewrites - and follow me if you think my gallery is worth revisitng. :)
So this is it. The makeover. Welcome to the revamped website!
Join me on Facebook to follow my writing journey everyday. And you can get snippets of poetry in images on my Instagram page or in the Gallery in the menu.
Meanwhile, I will just wind up this welcome post by announcing that the FREE EBOOK WEEK for March 2016 is on from tonight. You can either email me here or write to me on my Facebook page linked on the right with your email address. The first five to intimate will be sent the ebook of The Torrent from My Soul: Poems of A Born Dreamer as a link to download.
Today, from the muse:
Until next time, hopefully with more words and news. :)
A blog on the art of writing and life as a writer.