Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Valentine Month Contest - #ShadesofLove



To celebrate the Festival of Love this year I am hosting a fun flash fiction contest along with eight of my author friends. I invite all aspiring romance authors to participate. Here are the details.


Shades of Love Flash Fiction: Nine authors. Nine Prizes to be won!!

All you have to do is write a story based on any of the listed books’ titles and characters. To know more about the books, check out the Amazon links listed below.


1. You can write the story on your Facebook timeline or your own blog and post the link as comment on the Shades of Love facebook event page.  Do mention the book that you have selected as the inspiration for your story.



2. You can send in one entry or multiple entries based on any of the titles.



3. Your story needs to be inspired by the storyline/characters of the book(s) you pick. You can do a spin-off based on the characters. Use your imagination and wow us with a wonderful new scene.

4. You can use the banner for your posts on your blogs and/or Facebook timelines.

5. Maximum word-count: 500 words.

6. Open for India contestants only.

Contest Starts: 14th Feb 2018

Contest Ends: 28th Feb 2018

Prizes to be won: Amazon vouchers worth Rs 2250/- to be won.

There will be 9 winners and each author will pick one winner. Rs 250 voucher
for each winner.

And don’t forget to check the Facebook event page for updates from the authors about their books & characters, inspiration quotes and more…


Happy Writing! And look forward to reading your entries!!


Amazon Links to Books:



Adite Banerjie's Destiny Girl

Reet Singh's The Cure was Love

Preethi Venugopala's A Royal Affair

 Devika Fernando's Tantalising Temptations

Sudesna Ghosh's My Singapore Fling









Esha Pandey's I Will Meet You There

Ruchi Singh's Jugnu

  Saiswaroopa Iyer's Avishi

 Paromita Goswami's The Santa's Gift 



















 

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Cover Reveal of New Edition of My Book -- Destiny's Girl

Five years ago, my first book was published by Harlequin/Mills & Boon with the title "The Indian Tycoon's Marriage Deal". It was an exciting moment for me as a writer and I will always cherish that memory.

Strange thing is that I get to do a re-run of that moment. But this time as a self-published author. I am hugely excited at the opportunity to revisit Krish and Maya's story and bring it to my readers with a new cover and title. There could be no other month more appropriate for the re-launch of a romance than the Month of Love -- February!

The story is now called Destiny's Girl. And it has a brilliant new cover... I am sure you will agree with me!

I did wonder if I should update Krish & Maya's story. But as I went through the manuscript, I realized that my protagonists are now not merely characters in my book, but they have their own fictional lives within the pages of the book. Who am I to change that? So, their story is presented as is, complete with its flaws and foibles -- in real life we don't get a chance to change our past, do we?

If you have read their story, I hope you will enjoy revisiting it again when  Destiny's Girl goes online as an e-book on Amazon (stay tuned for the announcement). And if you haven't read it, I'd urge you to do so!

And now... for the C.O.V. E. R.    R.E.V.E.A.L.  <Drum Roll, please!> :)


So here comes DESTINY'S GIRL....



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Would love to know what you think of the cover.

And wait.... there is some more news. Destiny's Girl will have a sequel soon. It will be the Happily Ever After story of two characters you meet in Destiny's Girl -- Rohan and Natasha.

So, keep your eyes peeled for more updates on the release of Destiny's Girl and its sequel....

May Valentine's Month be full of love and happiness for you all!

The ebook is available at #Amazon and is free on #KindleUnlimited.. Do check it out!













Sunday, 31 December 2017

Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018

Photo by Norwood Themes on Unsplash.com
It's time to say goodbye to yet another year. The end of the year is always a good time for reflection and anticipation.
For me, 2017 will always be a milestone year for two reasons. One of my feature screenplays made it to the semi-finals of the Nicholl Fellowships. Yet another highlight was the making of my short script "7 Lives" into a film. I also had the good fortune to interact and meet with fellow authors and readers at the Noida Lit Fest.

Perhaps the biggest learning for me is this: Every writer's journey is unique. Just like the stories we tell are different, so also are our experiences. While we all  chase "success", it can be interpreted in a myriad ways. Trying to set our own individual goals and go past them is perhaps the whole point of writing. Whether that comes in the form of book sales, write-for-hire projects, or getting your script made into a film, every milestone, every goal counts. So, looking forward to another series of adventures in Writing Land in 2018. 
I hope 2018 will be the best-ever for you too. Have a fun-filled and safe Holiday and don't forget to check out this wonderful short film that my filmmaker friend, Runjiv Kapur, has made on the Joy of Giving. I hope it will inspire you to do your bit when it comes to the "joy of giving". Wish you all a Very Happy New Year!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ga6dIphmXcc&feature=youtu.be



Sunday, 19 November 2017

Trailer of 7 Lives - A short film on #OrganDonation

Dying is a topic that no one wants to talk about. It's not surprising then that organ donation, which needs to be discussed in every family, gets brushed under the carpet.

Come to think of it, organ donation is perhaps the only act that can enable a human being to live beyond death.

Robert Test encapsulates this thought through his beautiful poem, To Remember Me


At a certain moment a doctor will determine that my brain has ceased to function and that, for all intents and purposes, my life has stopped.
When that happens, do not attempt to instill artificial life into my body by the use of a machine. And don't call this my 'deathbed.' Call it my 'bed of life,' and let my body be taken from it to help others lead fuller lives.
Give my sight to a man who has never seen a sunrise, a baby's face or love in the eyes of a woman.
Give my heart to a person whose own heart has caused nothing but endless days of pain.
Give my blood to the teenager who has been pulled from the wreckage of his car, so that he might live to see his grandchildren play.
Give my kidneys to one who depends on a machine to exist from week to week.
Take my bones, every muscle, every fiber and nerve in my body and find a way to make a crippled child walk.
Explore every corner of my brain. Take my cells, if necessary, and let them grow so that someday a speechless boy will shout at the crack of a bat and a deaf girl will hear the sound of rain against her windows.
Burn what is left of me and scatter the ashes to the winds to help the flowers grow.
If you must bury something, let it be my faults, my weaknesses and all my prejudice against my fellow man.
Give my soul to God. If by chance you wish to remember me, do it with a kind deed or word to someone who needs you. If you do all I have asked, I will live forever.


The long wait to the release of 7 Lives is almost over!

As I wait for the release of this short film, I would like to share the trailer with you. Hope you will share it with your friends and family and encourage them to discuss the life affirming gift of organ donation.


 


Saturday, 30 September 2017

Writers need to believe in themselves and their work


Writing can  be -- and is -- a hobby for many people. It  helps them de-stress and relax, connect with readers and writers and provides immense enjoyment.

Writing can be -- and is -- a profession for many others. It helps them earn a living. Screenplay writers, authors of best selling novels, content writers fall in this category.  For them, writing is not only an enjoyable endeavour but it is a form of livelihood. I belong to this category.

In August, I found myself in the happy position of having my script COACHING CLASS placed as semi-finalist in the reputed Academy Nicholl Fellowship (2017). It was a major milestone in my writing journey. From a professional point of view, it meant that it was a kind of a stamp or certificate if you will, for filmmakers who are on the look out for professional screenwriters.

Sure enough, I began to get requests from talent management companies almost immediately and one of the top Indian production companies showed interest too. All very exciting, believe me.

A few weeks later the production company got back with feedback on the script. They were interested and would like to take it forward subject to some conditions.

Changes in one's work is inevitable--especially if you are writing for movies. Film-making is a collaborative business and it's necessary for different departments -- such as direction, cinematography, editing -- to work together to translate the writer's vision into a feature film.  So, some things, while they work on the page might not work on the screen and a writer needs to (based on inputs from the film-making team) make changes to her/his script.

I realized that the production company's feedback and the changes that they sought in the script would be necessary to make the script morph into a movie. However, while I was willing to do that there was a bigger problem with the company's T&Cs.

Their bottomline: they wanted me to make the changes as per their brief without a contract and without being paid for my time and work. Moreover, if they didn't like the changes I made, they could wash their hands off it and I would be back to square one! They would sign a contract only if and when the whole team had approved the rewritten script and I would have to keep working on it till it was considered greenlight-worthy!

My bottomline: My work as a professional writer was being undermined.

You might wonder what's the big deal in rewriting a script for free when there is a chance of bringing it to life on the celluloid screen? Well, look at it this way... suppose you had a legal battle on your hands and you approached a lawyer to fight the case for you? You would be expected to pay the lawyer for his work and time whether or not he/she won the case for you. The lawyer is providing you with a professional service for which he/she needs to be compensated. The same rules should apply to creative professions as well. But unfortunately they don't.

Given that the story is the foundation on which a film is built, it is neither fair not right to undermine the writer's work by suggesting that she work for free and without a contract. Sadly, writers continue to undermine themselves and their rightful position in the industry by agreeing to write for free to get their projects developed into films.

I tussled with the decision but I decided to pass up on this so-called "opportunity". I believe that as a writer we need to respect ourselves and our own work before we demand respect and dignity from the industry.

Did I do the right thing? Would love to hear your thoughts....



Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Story = Conflict

Photo by Tanja Heffner on Unsplash.com


Life imitates art. Or does art imitate life?

Whichever way you may look at it, you can’t get away from the fact that in life and in art, there is conflict. 

While in real life you do your best to avoid conflict, if you did the same in your writing, your story would be dull, drab and downright unreadable or unwatchable. 

Imagine a movie where all characters live happily and there is no conflict.  Or a novel where page after page is a no-conflict-zone?  Boring, right? 

Conflict in your story ENGAGES your reader/viewer. That’s the top reason why you need conflict in your story.  It keeps them watching the movie or turning the pages.  It gives them reason to root for your hero, fear for him and hope that he will be able to bring down the villain or triumph over the obstacles. 

Different types of conflict

Having conflict however does not mean that every scene needs to be a ‘fight’ scene. Conflict can be  about  one person against another.  But it may also be about man/woman vs nature or man/woman vs self. 

While external conflict (man vs man) often is more visual; internal conflict (man vs self) is also needed to help build character arc. 

When you think about your story, make sure you have conflicts of both types—external and internal. If you are writing a superhero story or a Wonder Woman kind of movie, there will be big-bang conflict scenes. Keeping the readers on the edge of their seat. Will she save the world?

A romance will have external conflict as well as internal conflict and that’s where reader engagement will happen. Will they be able to get over their differences and live happily ever after? 

Building conflict into scenes

Design your scenes so that that you can play with the dynamics of “tension”.  Because conflict creates tension. And tension leads to the interplay of hope and fear. 

The best scenes are always those that have an underlying sense of tension. For instance, your scene may be about  a girl leaving her office and taking the bus home. But if you introduce a small bit of external conflict (example: her interaction with a co-passenger who knocks against her) or you have her struggling with a decision—aka internal conflict—(example: should she tell her sister that she lost her favourite pen?) the scene becomes more interesting. 

Layering of conflict

Conflict also plays a critical role in the story’s ‘plot progression’ and the hero’s character arc. For instance if your story revolves around a man hunting down his wife’s killer (like in the movie The Fugitive), you would see him face obstacles at every level.  As his hunt takes him closer to the villain the obstacles that he has to overcome become more and more difficult. That is plot progression. The impact that these events/obstacles have on the hero and how he changes (or not) is his character arc.
And you have your reader/viewer asking: what happens next?

Ultimately then, story is conflict. 

Here’s what Robert McKee, screenwriting guru says:  Story is the fundamental conflict between subjective expectation and cruel reality. Story is about an imbalance and opposing forces (a problem that must be worked out, etc.). A good storyteller describes what it's like to deal with these opposing forces ...calling on the protagonist to dig deeper, work with scarce resources, make difficult decisions...and ultimately discover the truth.

Did you like this post? Share your thoughts below….

Thursday, 31 August 2017

The Story of a Nicholl Semi Finalist



“Writing is a lonely art. You tend to sit on your own in a room without a whole lot of feedback, and frankly, your mother’s feedback, your dad’s feedback is not really what you want because they love and adore you. You actually want to read the tough feedback from professional readers or from the agents or managers that you submit your material to in your great quest to get representation.” – Peter Samuelson, screenwriter.

Contests are a great way to get feedback that every writer needs—to understand what is working in the script and what’s not. I chose to enter my drama screenplay, Coaching Class in the Finish Line Competition in 2016 because they promised to give me feedback for my script. What’s more, based on the evaluation, I could re-submit a revised draft. This enabled me to improve my script taking it to the top of the contest table and winning a first runner-up place. 

While a contest win can be a great ego boost, it actually is much more than that. It enhances a writer’s credentials. Being ranked among the winners of credible contest improves your chances of getting a foot in the door and having your work read by people who make films and are on the lookout for great scripts. 

The Finish Line competition gave me the confidence to approach a number of top production companies, both in India and in Hollywood as well as agents. Meanwhile, the most prestigious screenwriting contest – the Academy Nicholl Fellowships – which is organised by the same people who run the Oscar Awards came up. And I decided to enter Coaching Class in Nicholl’s. If it ranked well,  the chances of it being read by industry professionals across the world would improve manifold. If not, I had nothing to lose!  

In July, results season rolled in. And to my great surprise—and delight—Coaching Class had made it to the Quarter Finals. It was one of 361 (out of a total number of 7100 entries) to have made the cut. Excitement kicked in even though I knew the next leg of the contest would be much tougher. By August, I was informed that my script was only one of 151 scripts to advance to the Semi Finals round. I was well and truly stunned and super happy, once it began to sink in. 

The feedback from the judges was also sent to me.  One judge said, “This drama, set in India, has an interesting, involving story that is full of tension and conflict. Careful attention has been paid to structure and both the main plot and the subplots have strong development.” 

Another remarked, “The characters are richly detailed and their goals and dreams feel appropriate and unique to each of their character arcs. Even the ancillary characters…have interesting backstories.”
More importantly, they pointed out what needed work in the story. Unlike Finish Line though, I did not have the chance to submit a revised version. But reaching the Semi Finals of Nicholl’s has boosted my confidence and given me the calling card I need for future interactions with film industry professionals. 

Even though the script did not make it to the Finals, I feel immensely proud to be walking in the footsteps of two-time Nicholl Semi Finalist Michael Arndt (among many other prominent screenwriters) who went on to win the Best Screenplay Oscar for Little Miss Sunshine.

Samuelson puts it succinctly: "There is no great victory in writing a script that isn't produced unless it was a stepping stone while you were perfecting your craft in order to be able to write a script that did get made into a film. You just need to do it."