soniaraowrites

about writing and other such passionate matters

HAPPY HOURS

 

HAPPY HOURS

HAPPY HOURS

Wikipedia describes Happy Hour as a marketing term for a period of time in which a public venue, such as a restaurant, bar, bowling alley, stadium, or state/county fair, offers discounts on alcoholic drinks, such as beer, wine, and cocktails.

Well, I am just going to hi-jack the term and use if for the writing that we do during NaNoWriMo (nanowrimo[dot]org). Writing can be fun and must be fun, but when it is solitary it can get a wee bit easy to procrastinate and then very soon we realize that the burden of unwritten words is weighing us down and that sends our mood further southwards.

This is where the Happy Hour comes in. Since the last two years I have made it a point to conduct online write- ins where wrimos from all over the country converge to write the personal pre-determined number of words. So, all those that have been at work the whole day or have goofed off or could not write for some reason or the other, know that they have one more chance to catch up with their word counts during these sessions which could be held for an hour or more. These hours see a lot of kidding around, banter and of course, writing, too. By virtue of being the ML, I would post prompts at these sessions and all would write to them. But this year, the wrimos have been pro-active and themselves held write-ins that continued late into the night or have begun early in the mornings and sometimes even in the afternoons on popular demand. Word sprints were yet another aspect of these sessions. And the payback is that majority of the wrimos completed their 50K words much before the end of November.

So if one is Happy that the Hour was well-spent in writing then can not such hours be rightfully called ‘Happy Hours’?

Writing Tip#8
Do write to the prompts given even if you feel it does not fit your story because sometimes the prompt can open up another perspective or twist to your story. (Sonia Rao).

 

This is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge and today’s letter is ‘H’.

Read about the theme as well as the ‘A’ post here. You can find the others in the A-Z Blogging 2014 category on the right.

Pic courtesy: Wikipedia

Gracias…

NaNoWriMo Donation Station

NaNoWriMo Donation Station

If one thought that NaNoWriMo was just an online novelling activity held every November then that would be a very one-dimensional view of the world’s largest online creative writing initiative.

No doubt it began life, almost thirteen years ago, as a lark by Chris Baty to get his friends involved in an activity which would stretch their zones of comfort while, at the same time, be tons of fun.

Today with almost three hundred thousand persons around the world writing a novel, we come across wonderful stories of wrimos who have fought oppressive circumstances and emerged victorious or regained their self-esteem which years of verbal/physical/ mental abuse had snatched away from them, because they took up the challenge of writing 50K words in one November. A wonderful therapy, of sorts.

Many, like me, found the community and resources to write a novel, when they did not know where to look. And as a NaNo ML I’ve had an opportunity to make contact with some amazing people who have become friends and at the same time it has all been very soul-satisfying.

It also conducts the Young Writers Programme in which thousands of children are provided resources to reach their creative writing goals.

The most wonderful part is that participation in NaNoWriMo is absolutely free. It is a non-profit organization and depends on donations to continue with its yeoman service. Even the goodies for the winners (anyone who writes 50K words in a month is considered a winner) is sponsored by enthusiastic companies with a view to encouraging writers.

I like to show gratitude to NaNoWriMo, to say gracias, by making a donation. There are other ways to donate too if one is short of cash. Find out more by clicking on the Donate tab when you land on the home page of nanowrimo[dot]org. Donating cash, though, makes you an angel (yes, you get a halo on your profile).


Writing Tip#7:
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name. (William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

 

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2014 and today’s letter is ‘G’.

Pic courtesy nanowrimo[dot]org

A Fardel of Fillers

(fardel: (n) a bundle; filler: (n) anything that adds bulk)

I confess.

I am as guilty as many other wrimos, of padding my manuscript with fillers during NaNoWriMo.

Writing 50K words can be a stretch if one is pantsing a novel. Just one word, or a sentence and we are off, flamboyantly, on our fantastic novelling journey. When one begins writing a novel without having researched, outlined or planned it, there could come a time when one runs out of inspiration or even relevant matter to write about. It is dangerous to carry out research during the course of NaNoWriMo because the deep pits of the netherworld of research can rise up like a sinkhole and engulf you, leaving you floundering with a gasping-for- breath low word count and an unfinished manuscript.

And it is okay to add fillers to your fantasy (the novel) during NaNo. Some of the many popular ways it is done is by writing recipes in detail of the food being consumed in that particular scene while some wrimos name and describe each and every object present in that particular setting. I have at one time rambled on about monsters under the bad and ended up with a story of a boy suffering from ‘Monstritis’ which might not work in my novel but perhaps I could turn it into a short story for children.

The fardel of fillers, which makes the novel unnecessarily bulky and a burden during editing, shows up mostly fourth novel onwards (the first three novels are pretty easy to write) and it can be tackled to a certain extent by having well thought out characters and a well-defined conflict.

Have you ever added fillers to your NaNo novel?

Writing Tip #6: I have this feeling of wending my way or plundering through a mysterious jungle of possibilities when I am writing. This jungle has not been explored by previous writers. It never will be explored. It’s endlessly varying as we progress through the experience of time. These words that occur to me come out of my relation to the language which is developing even as I am using it. ( William Stafford).

 

This  post is part of A-Z Blogging Challenge 2014

Today’s post is of course based on ‘F’

The Evil Editor

The ghosts of all  books one ever read.

The ghosts of all books one ever read.

If you dare to edit your novel during NaNoWriMo the ghosts of all books you have ever read will take to squatting over your novel as well as your imagination and they will cause such a creative block that you will need many NaNoWriMos to complete one manuscript. The situation might sound drastic and it actually is, too. Because it really happens! These ghosts have been responsible for many a blocked writer and unwritten stories.

Unlovingly called the Evil Inner Editors, these ghosts are powerful and the only way to circumvent their influence is to tell them that you are going to write the worst story ever (this is scary to them because that was essentially the line/lie they were going to feed you to scare you and now they have no more weapons in their ghostly arsenal) and if they are nice and quiet in November you will let them read your manuscript in December. Now, this is a sneaky thing to do because you are going to need their services after NaNoWriMo ends if you want to make your Nano novel publishable. Instead of begging them to help you out in November you have turned the tables on these Evil Inner Editors into making them beg you to allow them to help you.

Once you’ve mastered the art of controlling these ghosts, you must continue to add to the ghost brigade by reading more and more books from your genre of choice ((to get a grip on the style the genre demands) and other genres to get new ideas for stories.

 

Writing Tip#5: If you look at it (Writer’s Block) as an opportunity, you will find a way to strengthen and broaden your ability to create characters and story. You’ll see that maybe you need to go deeper into your story and strive for another level of richness, full of texture and dimension. (Syd Field in Screenplay)

 

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2014

The letter of the day is ‘E’.

Pic courtesy Velinov

Daily Discipline and Deadlines

The box  tells the final figure while the graph gives the true picture.

The box tells the final figure while the graph gives the true picture.

There are two kinds of people doing NaNoWriMo.

Those that write 1666.666 words on every day of the 30 days of November and sail easily into the winning enclosure and get the winners ribbon without too much of disruption to the schedule

The other type is the one who procrastinates in a major way and writes erratically, sometimes just 80 words and other times, stuck to the keyboard, churns out a total of 10K words in a day.

Which is better? It will definitely depend on the personality of the writer but the second method can cause not a little bit of stress towards the end of the month when the deadline approaches, and that is exactly what motivates some wrimos to really go for it.

This is then the USP of NaNoWriMo. The deadline works like the prod that everyday life is not able to provide and the community of other wrimos adds the fun element to the intrinsically solitary pursuit.

In addition, NaNowrimo makes it easier to do it the first way with its word count widgets and graphs and other techno knick-knacks. As you update your word count everyday and see the graph rising, it motivates one to do it again and again everyday till one crosses the 50K mark.

I belong to the second category and every year I determine to do it the other way but so far I have not succeeded even though I have been a winner all the years since I first started in 2009.

Perhaps this year…

What kind of discipline do you follow? Daily or the deadline-induced?

 

Writing Tip #4: “What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks, the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it as if the muse’s convinced I’m serious and says, “Okay. Okay. I’ll come.” (Maya Angelou)

 

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2014.

My theme for 2014 is here.

This post is about ‘D’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charismatic Chris Baty

Reality is over-rated. Write.

Write a book. Change the world.

And then from the NaNoWriMo tagline: The World needs your novel.

CHRIS BATY (pic courtesy www.chrisbaty.com)

CHRIS BATY
(pic courtesy http://www.chrisbaty.com)

Chris Baty is the man responsible for the above words and it can be safely said that if there was no Chris Baty there might have been no NaNoWriMo (nanowrimo[dot]org). Not that he even had an inkling in 1999, when he gathered up with a few friends to write a novel of 50, 000 words in a month, that it would become this gargantuan online creative writing activity by its 14th year in 2013.

It has been an interesting journey for Chris, beloved of hundred of thousands of wrimos, world over, for his Bat-y sense of humour and intense positivity and motivation. Baty believes that one must bring a sense of child-like wonder and a sense of fun to any act of creation and if you ask him why he writes stories he will say, “to make people laugh,” which I believe can be one of the best reasons for writing.

While on NaNoWriMo, from 21 friends of Baty in the first year, it went online the next when 140 people joined up. It was in the third year, when an unexpected 5000 joined up that Baty knew he had something on his hands which had a life of its own. And what happened after that is history, of sorts. In 2013, the participation crossed 3,00,000 worldwide.( Baty would not be amiss in wondering why the TED Talk folks have not approached him yet).

Chris Baty has been synonymous with NaNoWriMo (Executive Director) for almost 13 years but in 2012 he stepped down and is now associated with it as Board Member Emeritus which allows him the opportunity to remain connected with NaNo in a significant role but also have the time to work on the many books he wrote in so many Novembers. In fact, Chris Baty is the only known person who has been a winner in all the years of the existence of NaNoWriMo (Well, that is a heck lot of novels to work on).

Anyone attempting NaNo for the first time could benefit by reading Chris Baty’s ‘No Plot? No Problem!’ and his co-authored, ‘Ready, Set, Novel.

Chris Baty is a busy man even today as he writes, takes classes and gives talks and travels all over the world meeting up with the tons of wrimos who have become friends, virtual but dear.

And he’s also started Chris Baty Studios in his living room from where all fascinating posters (such as the one below) are thought up and designed.

One of the many posters from Chris Baty Studios

One of the many posters from Chris Baty Studios

Writing Tip #3

1) Everyone has a book in them. (Actually, that’s not totally true. Everyone has a bunch of books in them.)
2) Writing one of those books will change the way you see yourself, deepen the way you read and make life feel a little more magical.
3) You can have about a hundred cups of coffee in one sitting before the caffeine becomes lethal.

(Writing tips courtesy Chris Baty).

 

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2014

Some blogs I’d love to explore after April, too: Muse n Motivation, The Bumbling Bookworm, Elizabeth Darkley

Confused about my A-Z theme? The answer is here as is the ‘A’ post. Read about the NaNoWriMo Buddy system (‘B’).

Today, is ofcourse ‘C’.

(Please note all pics used here are from www.chrisbaty.com and are copyrighted).

Bibliography:

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2012/11/21/chris-baty-the-terribleminds-interview/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-henry-sterry/national-novel-writing-month-founder_b_3151852.html

http://smallprintmagazine.com/showcase/interview/interview-chris-baty/

BUDDIES

According to experts, any solitary activity, whether it is a diet programme or a physical fitness regimen, has a greater chance of success if the ‘Buddy System’ is used.

What is a buddy? In this case, it could be your BFF or in the absence of that, one who can hold you accountable for reaching the targets you have set for yourself. Perhaps you decide to go for a jog every morning. Or perhaps you set for yourself a target to write in your food diary daily. You are then expected to contact that person and inform them whether you have done your target activity for the day. This very process of being accountable to someone else for your actions acts as a great motivator to do what you were supposed to do.

Now, what can be a more solitary activity than writing?

A writing buddy is a must, then. And NaNoWriMo (nanowrimo[dot]org) lets you choose the writing buddies you want from among the lakhs of other wrimos, worldwide.

Screenshot - NaNoWriMo Writing Buddies

Screenshot – NaNoWriMo Writing Buddies

When I just began doing NaNo, I made a lot of buddies. Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo, Lindsey Grant and Sarah Mackey of the Office of Light and Letters which runs NaNoWriMo were some of them, amongst others. I am an erratic writer, not writing at all on some days and then writing upto 10K words in a day. I would often check the word counts of my buddies and then scamper to raise my own if I found the gap becoming uncomfortably bigger.

Impromptu buddies would sprout up during the writing sprints and challenges being conducted in the NaNo forums and mutual motivation and encouragement led to a substantially pumped up wordcount on those days.

As an ML, I have a large number of wrimos that buddy me and I encourage that because towards the end of the month, I have easy access to their word counts and if anyone of them is just a few thousand words short of becoming a winner I can goad them on, gently but firmly. As Neil Gaiman said, “Finish what you have begun.” And the feeling of having a completed first draft is priceless.

Writing Tip#2: Always know how your story is going to end. Say, you want to go to Churchgate from Andheri. If you explore the travel options there are many. You could go by bus, train, car or even walking if you are so inclined. You could change the modes of transportation on the way, even. If you don’t know the way you can ask for directions. But if you do not know your destination and you go to the ticket counter at the station you will have no answer for the question, “Ticket to where?” Ultimately you will remain stuck, and coming back to the novel, this happens somewhere in the middle of the book. So, always know how your story is going to end.

 

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2014.

 

Some writing buddies of mine also doing the A-Z Challenge:

Parichita Singh, Rubina Ramesh and An Angry Indian Chick, amongst others.

So, ‘B’ it was today.

 

Authorial Aspirations

Last year I bumped into A-Z Blogging Challenge towards the end of March and having been an irregular blogger took it up to push myself out of my own comfort blogozone. I blogged to the letters without a theme and yes, it did get a bit stressful at times.

This year should be different (and of course, less stressful), I decided. Camp NaNoWriMo is in full swing this April. So, why not blog about my journey with NaNoWriMo as the Asia::India ML which I have been since 2011? And perhaps throw in some writing tips – from writers of yore and also some from me (with five first drafts written and one being edited, and having access to thousands of Wrimos writing one every year, I could share an insight or two, no?).

Okay, don’t shudder. It is not going to be about Me, Me, and Me.

I aim to present to you a fun peek into the life of a NaNoWriMo ML as well as the agony and the ecstasy of writing.

Today, then, is about Authorial Aspirations.

WRITING AT CAMP NANOWRIMO

WRITING AT CAMP NANOWRIMO

Writing for me came as a ‘should’. There was always this teeny-weeny voice (‘The Voice’) within me that piped up at the strangest of times saying, “You should write.” Should?!?! Should?!?! Well, no-one says ‘No’ to ‘The Voice’. So, as a practicing fashion designer I looked for ways to write. Even as a trained jewellery designer. Articles for trade magazines and newsletters were followed by editing opportunities from newsletters of local environmental groups. It was all good.

And then, one day in 2009, ‘The Voice’ wanted me to write fiction, more specifically, a novel. Which is when I bumped into NaNoWriMo (nanowrimo[dot]org), on 31st October, 2009 and wrote my first novel in the month of November, that same year. And the next year too.

In 2011, I became an ML (More about this at ‘M’, perhaps). For the past two years I had been totally focused on writing my own novels. But now, besides writing my own novel I had to be the Main Motivator for others who too retained a desire to write one. In fact, helping other writers fulfill their authorial aspirations and reach their writing goals seemed to give me even greater satisfaction than writing my own novel.

This doesn’t take away from the fact that writing my first novel was so much wonderful fun. Words just flowed. Colourful characters were born with ease and they melded well with each other. There was a plot, too. And interesting conflicts. Perhaps, some day I might edit it.

Writing Tip#1: First drafts are best written speedily. Yes, a lot of the writing might be crap but the speediness puts the thinking brain on hold and brings forth the feeling brain which is where all the best stories come from. (Sonia Rao).

 

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge being conducted by the lovely Arlee BirdDamyanti, Alex and others. Today’s letter is of course, ‘A’.

 

 

BANKING SPIFFY WITH KOTAKJIFI

If Mark Zuckerberg ever worried that the youth of India was going to desert Facebook he can stop now because Kotak Bank is ready to change that in a jiffy. In fact, with KotakJifi.

Banking via Facebook and Twitter? Well, in a way that is pretty unconventional, is it not? “Unconventional” could then be the unofficial theme of the Indiblogger meet conducted with Kotak Mahindra Bank at Café Zoe, Mumbai on Sunday, 23rd of March, 2014.

Selfies and Usies

Selfies and Usies

In High Spirits

In High Spirits

Unconventional was the venue where wine flowed as much as laughter even as selfies and usies ruled the day. Unconventional was the 3-way mode of conducting the event as 3 cities – Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore – connected via live feed and proceedings from Mumbai were telecast live to the other two cities. And the most unconventional aspect of the meet was the secret guest who turned out to be Mr. Chetan Bhagat, the literary idol of millions of Indian youth who claim that his are the very first novels they ever read in English. Unconventional too, because money and writers are generally not spoken of in the same breath (the authors who make a living writing books are few and far between or so I have heard).

Kotak Bank can then proudly and arguably take a bow as the very first bank ever to encourage its patrons to bank via social media. In fact, you cannot join if you don’t have a Facebook account.  And no, they did not tell us what happens if you ‘deactivate’ your FB account.

Now just get a grab of some of the features of the New Age digital banking phenomenon called Jifi:

  • Zero balance account
  • Request for balance updates, cheque book etc. via Twitter
  • A platinum Debit Card
  • You can gain points for sharing information about Jifi with your friends (social points) and when you use your Debit Card to make purchases (transaction points). These points can be redeemed as they are a type of currency (no, not Bitcoins).

Yes, I can see your eyes gleaming. If you are a parent of a young teen, you can already see yourself getting out of the bind of having to raise the pocket money every quarter. And if you are the young teen I can see your excited impatience for registering with Jifi via your FB account and then sharing it with ALL your friends so that you can make a cool packet along with the pocket money that you are already getting.

Yes, social banking is here to stay. It is ‘New Age’ and like all such things it might not appeal to the old or those we call ‘Senior Citizens’. In fact when a young blogger tweeted to Chetan Bhagat and Kotak’s Head of Consumer Services that her grandparents did not have a FB account, so how could they open a Jifi account, she was advised politely to guide her grandparents towards the other types of accounts the bank provides. They do have an answer to all types of banking needs, it seems.

The spirits were high – both literally and figuratively – at this meet and even Chetan Bhagat did not spare himself as he cracked quip after quip against himself but while also subtly pointing out that he has often been the convenient fodder for blogposts and newspaper articles.

Besides the serious matter of digital banking, singing, dancing and playing group games also served to make this Sunday a well-spent one at what was a real four and a half stars event.

Go on, then, ask to be invited to join Jifi because once you join you get 100 social points. And then the fun can begin because with KotakJifi ‘likes’, ‘shares’ and ‘comments’ now matter.

 

This post is part of the Indiblogger KotakJifi Exclusive event held for the launch of KotakJifi – Banking is now social.

(All pics courtesy Indiblogger.in)

Don’s Wife by Vinod Pande – A Spotlight

 

Don’s Wife by Vinod Pande

 

The Blurb
 
Lethality of beauty and inner radiance brutally felled, after several dastardly attempts on her life in different cities of the world, Kamini, the firebrand leader of the emerging new party, the icon of the youth, the idol of the world of glitter and glamour, the revered social reformer, the enigmatic wife of the dreaded underworld Don Harsh Jadhav, assassinated by unidentified gunmen at the unlikeliest of places, right at the front door in the porch of her own house. With mere two mortal shots, death had snatched her from life and what a life! She could launch a million ships, both with her beauty and her exceptional brilliance. A fulsome life but a born rebel. Defiantly left all this to marry a man she loved, a man, she was to learn rather late in the day, was the son of one of the most feared mobsters in the country. A woman who went beyond, beyond the societal mores in her passionate relationships. Then, then the world did not remain the same. A saga began. A saga of revenge and hope, of aspirations and betrayals, of human tragedies and triumphs. A story of tall men and even taller women where heroes are not only heroes and villains are not only villains. Story of Kamini, more powerful in death than even in life
 
Buy @
 
Meet the Author
Vinod Pande is a producer, writer, editor and award winning director whose body of work includes films such as Ek Baar Phir (1979), Yeh Nazdikeeyan (1982) and Sins (2005) among many others. He has also made popular TV shows such as Airhostess (1985-86) and Reporter (1992-97). He worked as programming head for Sahara TV (1997-2000). “The Don’s Wife” marks his debut as a published author. 
Stalk him @
       

This post is part of the blogtour for Don’s Wife by Vinod Pande and is being conducted by The Book Club.

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