Friday, December 19, 2014

Holiday Plans, Blogging Break, Writing and Reading List

2014 has flown by at the speed of lightning. It has also been a year that has thrown the maximum surprises in my life: both professionally and personally. I have enjoyed both the highs as well as the lows (there was so much to learn from the lows). I have met some amazing people this year. I have also read some wonderful books.

All the writing lessons I have learnt gave me the courage to revise two manuscripts, write a third one and charter unknown territories where my writing was concerned.

From the past several weeks I have been on a heavy duty book promotion spree and have visited several schools as a part of Author Interactive Sessions. It’s been amazing meeting my adorable readers (the students) and interacting with the teachers and the school principals. Needless to say, I have been ignoring my own writing.

I desperately want to go away to the mountains, but as there are no such no holiday plans to travel anywhere, I will be home bound and writing a lot over Christmas and New Year as well as catching up with my reading.

 I am also taking a blogging break till January 2015. I will be back with the first IWSG post of 2015 on January 7th.

Though I won’t be blogging, I will still be lurking around and stalking all of you and seeing who eats the most cake and pudding and who parties the most!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, a very Happy New Year and a relaxed holiday in advance. Hope 2015 fulfills all our dreams and desires and is a wonderful year for everyone in every way.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Choosing names for our characters

I find choosing names for my characters an extremely difficult task. For my initial stories, I took the easy way out by naming only the main and secondary characters. These names were chosen at random; the first name that popped into my head became a character’s name.

But all this changed the day I got a call from a publisher saying that they were interested in publishing my books. After the contract was signed, my editor sat down with me to brainstorm names for every character, even characters whose claim to fame was a solitary appearance in my illustrated books for children. My editor was very firm that readers, especially children, bond with characters and it’s absolutely necessary to give them names. My editor had said that “nameless characters will never become memorable.”                
When my story was commissioned for a puffin anthology several years back, the puffin editor called me to ask for few changes in my story, before winding up she asked me why I hadn’t named the watchman’s cat. For me she was just the watchman’s cat : a nameless creature. Not only was I clueless regarding how to answer her question, but there was also silence from my side. How was I supposed to think of a name during a phone conversation. “Can I go with the name I have chosen,” she asked? The name hater that I was I agreed to go along with the name she suggested. Anything to avoid that task.

But all that has changed now. Perhaps the change has come when readers tell me that they identified with Leo, Bunny, Caspar, Kiara (the names of the characters in my earlier books). This appreciation has worked as a major incentive to name all the characters.

For the books I have written now, I take the trouble to give the characters nice and unique names. I even research the names.

I decided that just naming every character wouldn’t be enough. They were given individual personalities to match the names. Each name conjured up an image of the teacher or a student fitting that name. Nowadays I am always on the lookout for new names.

What about you all? Do you name your characters with the first name that jumps into your mind, or are these names the product of a meticulous research and hard work. Do you have any name tips to share with us?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

IWSG Post – Fear of Lack of Time

This will be the last IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) post for 2014. Next year will bring an entire new set of anxieties, worries, fears and doubts. IWSG has become my favourite place to air my writerly concerns. Here I can freely talk about my doubts, fears, worries and insecurities without being judged or laughed at. Because I know that many of you all must be battling the same fears.

IWSG started by Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh (the author of the Amazon Bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm and CassaFire) posts on the first Wednesday of every month. IWSG is an online group of writers where we all share our doubts, fears and insecurities as well as support and encourage each other. The IWSG website is a wonderful resource for writers.

This month my fear is lack of time. I read somewhere that a writer gets the maximum amount of time to write their first book, after that there are sundry things occupying a writer’s life space: book tours, book signing events, author interactive sessions etc.

I worry that I am not getting enough time to devote to my next book. If I am not going on school visits organized by my publisher (Scholastic), then I am attending a writing related event or managing the million and one things a published author does, or catering to my family duties, or managing my online presence, completing the book reviews for the paper. The little time I can steal from life I devote to writing.

Day by day my writing time is becoming less and less. I feel I may not do justice to my next set of books. I hope this is just a passing phase and I get more time to write in future.

Does anyone else feels like this? How do you handle the lack of time to write?

P.S. IWSG has brought out a book The IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond. The book is available free for everyone. Check the IWSG website for details on where to download it.