Friday, 26 July 2019

New Release: The Lost Princess by Preethi Venugopala

Romance lovers have a treat coming their way. Preethi Venugopala's third book in the Sravanapura Royals series is out now. If you love romance, a royal Indian setting and loads of drama, this is one novel you need to check out right away.

The Lost Princess 

HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO TO PROTECT THE ONE YOU LOVE?


Ishaani, the newly crowned nightingale of the Indian music industry has it all: a dream career, a loving family and loyal friends. Yet, the man she has loved all her life will not warm up to her. Rajeev, a hotshot movie director, has feelings for Ishaani. But she is his sister's best friend and has been like another sibling to him. Yet, what can he do if he feels compelled to make her his own?

Then, Ishaani's life changes overnight. She is no longer a lowly commoner but a princess. She has to make some tough decisions to protect the man she loves. Her choices lead them both down a path filled with shocking revelations and devastating consequences.

Will true love prevail? Or will the many twists of fate tear them apart?



Excerpt:

Talking to your best friend can be excellent therapy. But it can be a headache if you’re in love with your best friend’s brother. Ishaani was realizing it the hard way.

"I saw the screenshot you sent. I can’t believe that idiot replied with a ‘thank you’ to your WhatsApp-essay! Why are you wasting your time on that slob? I’m ashamed to call him my brother."

Ishaani moved her mobile phone away from her ears as Rashi’s voice began to grow shriller and louder by the minute.

"Girl, don't shout. I can hear you alright. I didn’t write an essay, okay? And he might be busy." Ishaani rolled her eyes and cursed herself mentally. In her eagerness to get over her frustration, how
did she forget that Rashi loved to troll her brother?

"It qualifies as an essay. It might not get an A if you submitted to Mrs Ellen. But it would definitely win a prize for the longest and cutest WhatsApp message till date."

Ishaani chuckled. After putting the phone on speaker, she placed it on her bed. Picking up a scrunchy from her dresser-drawer, she rolled up her long hair into a top bun. Their high school English teacher Mrs Ellen would have called it purple prose. But a girl had to say what she had to say. Who texted perfect literary pieces to crushes? Long winding flowery sentences with a lot of smilies and ellipses were her style. Before writing to him, she had watched Rajeev’s ZBC television interview twice. And she could be eloquent when she wanted. No wonder Rashi had called it an essay.

"You know your brother's word quota per day. I’m happy he replied this time. Usually, I have to be content with the blue tick." Her silly heart raced when blue ticks appeared on the WhatsApp- messages she sent him. How pathetic!

Ishaani lived by only one rule. She welcomed anything that put her in the vicinity of her long-time crush, Rajeev Ratnam. The elusive movie director who owned her heart. It didn’t bother her that he either ignored her or treated her like a mere acquaintance when they met in public. And when she happened to meet him at his home, he treated her like he treated Rashi. Like a kid who needed guidance at every point in her life. Yet she always rallied her spirits by focusing on what was important. She loved him. Nothing else mattered.

"Keep munching the crumbs he throws at you and he would never treat you to a proper meal."

"No worries. I will cook him a lavish dinner instead. One day soon," Ishaani said, sounding
more confident than she actually felt.

"Don't waste your culinary expertise on him. Cook Mughlai biriyani this Sunday. I’m coming."

"Done. What will I get in exchange?"

"What do you want?"

"Full details about his shooting schedule." That way, she could accidentally bump into him without appearing too clingy.

"Say whaat? Not interested in the list of the handsome actors he roped in?"

"Nope." Why the heck would she need a list of handsome men when she had lost her heart to ‘the most handsome one’ among the lot.

“Aren’t you interested in the list of the actresses who might throw themselves at him?"

“Not at all.”

"You know what? You’re a tragedy waiting to happen."

Ishaani snorted and bid her friend goodbye before disconnecting the call.

To know more about Preethi and her books do visit her website 




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Friday, 19 July 2019

#MovieReview - Stree: More Glib than Ghoulish

Bollywood's track record of horror films is not much to write about. The Ramsay Brothers' body of work in this genre is the most popular and also extremely cringe worthy - the ghouls are more likely to make you laugh than cower in fear. However, to be fair, the filmmakers worked with shoestring budgets and the VFX age had not dawned yet. The Ramsays have their die-hard fans till date, if only for their campy style and absurd plotlines.

So when Stree (released in 2019) was billed as a horror-comedy, I was a little skeptical about it. Soon critics and fans alike were raving about it and it became one of those 'sleeper hits'. Recently, thanks to streaming channels, I had the opportunity to watch it and here is my review.

Stree (Woman) has an interesting premise. A small town is haunted by a female ghost who only kidnaps men during the three nights of a festival that is celebrated annually. All the men avoid going out at night and to counter the evil powers of the ghost have the words "O Stree, please come tomorrow" painted on the outside walls of their houses. The words are painted with a "ghost-repelling" mixture. The invitation to 'come tomorrow' is a quirky take on Indian behaviour of welcoming even unwanted guests to their homes. These quirky touches do add an element of refreshing humour. The lead actor (played by Rajkumar Rao) essays the role of a small-town ladies tailor with tremendous panache. In fact, the role seems to be an extension of another character he played in Bareilly Ki Barfi where he was a shop-assistant in a saree shop.

The most interesting thing about this film is how it up-ends the stereotypical associations -- instead of damsels in distress you have men at the mercy of a woman ghost. This instantly cues in humour and there is a situation when the men have to dress up as women to avoid the clutches of this blood thirsty spirit. However, the humour is inconsistent and relies mostly on some snappy dialogue and great acting by the immensely talented cast of characters.

But where the film flounders is the plot development and the loose screenplay. References to patriarchy, status of women in society, all of which find play in the story, could have been more satirical and spoof-ish but end up serving the plot in a convenient and superficial manner. The entire backstory of how the lead character's mother was a fallen woman and hence not acceptable to society is dealt with in a couple of scenes in a most lackadaisical manner. Perhaps the biggest flaw is the lame ending. The story ends on a pretty bizarre note -- the ghost ends up exorcising itself. Seems like the filmmakers were bent on fulfilling their promise of  a story "based on a ridiculously true phenomenon".



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Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Understanding the Business of Writing

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Welcome to Week U of Authors' Tips - A to Z of Writing. 

If this is the first time you're visiting this series, here's a quick recap:

Authors share their tips on writing fiction and each week we talk about various aspects of writing. This week, I focus on Understanding the Business of Writing.

Read on... and don't forget to share your thoughts in the comment box.


Get this straight all you aspiring writers. Writing is a business. For those who think it's your passion that fuels your writing and will do so for the next 5,10 or 15 years... here's a little reality check. Two years after you have poured your blood, sweat and tears into your debut fiction novel and found no publisher wanting to publish it, the passion will shrivel up and die very soon.

Sure, you might be the one-in-a-million breakthrough writer to find a publisher who is willing to sign you up for a three-series book deal and a six figure advance. A second scenario, and a more likely one: you are signed on for a book deal but the advance is a pittance and after the initial euphoria, you find that your wonderful book is just one of many other books in your publisher's 'schedule'. Your book is neither awarded the prominent display in book stores nor the marketing support. Before long you're just another mid-list author with a title to your name. By the time you get down to writing your next book, your passion has dimmed and only sheer willpower and grit keeps you going. And the hope that the next time around, your publisher will give your title a little more attention. Maybe. Maybe not.

So here are a few things to keep in mind if you are really serious about your fiction writing and don't want to end up with only a single published title to your name and many dashed hopes of a brilliant (money-making) writing career.

Treat Writing Like a Business Enterprise

Chart out a Business Plan for your writing career. Keep in mind that no matter how brilliant your writing is, your debut book is only an entry into the world of publishing. You need to build your body of work over a period of time and there is only way to do it - by writing consistently.You may choose to work on one big writing project (a novel for instance) at a time or a combination of one big and a couple of smaller projects (short stories). But having a plan ready and working on it without burning yourself out is the smart way to do it.

Create a Digital Footprint for your Work

It's important to have an author platform - be it a website or social media channels (like Facebook/Twitter/Instagram) where you can showcase your writing and build your reader base. Again consistency is the key. Choose the channels that you're most comfortable with and that help you connect with your target audience. A little bit of research will help you figure out where the readers who like to read your kind of books hang out -- and engage with them.

Making Connections

While writing is lonely work, there is a also a more 'social' aspect to it. Connect with like minded authors. Make sure to check out their work and offer support. And you'll be surprised by how much support and encouragement you'll receive in return.

Emerging Writing-Related Opportunities

There are scores of opportunities out there for the enterprising writer -- from doing writing workshops, ghostwriting, writing short scripts for filmmakers and more. Keeping yourself updated on emerging writing related opportunities is part of growing your writing business. It's definitely a good idea to attend a literary festival or two in a year to identify potential opportunities and network with potential collaborators.

Writing is a career like any other and approaching it with the right mindset will help you become a more successful writer. Good luck!

Here are some useful resources on the business of writing:

The Creative Penn

Jane Friedman

David Gaughran


Happy Writing! And do share your thoughts in the comment box below. :)

Don't forget to check out the other U posts in this series:

Devika Fernando on Using the Senses

Preethi Venugopala on Unique Selling Proposition