Free eBook this weekend only

Silhouette of the Past is FREE on Kindle this weekend.

Sometimes it’s best to keep the past dead and buried……

A stormy day, a corpse and a group of suspects.

Three years after the death of Maribeth, seven people have gathered together at the same place for a business deal. Little do they know that they were about to witness another death at the Tiscayne Country Club. This time there is no ambiguity. It is murder! Unfortunately, Amber Levinson, who had gone to deliver the gardening supplies to the club on that stormy day, gets caught into the web of deceit of these powerful and influential people.

When Detective Myers points a finger of blame at Amber as his prime suspect, she has to figure out who the killer was. With the help of her assistant Dave and cousin Marlene, she starts digging into the secrets and motives of the people at the country club.

Can Amber unravel the mystery and solve the murder to prove her innocence?

Find out in this cozy mystery novella, The Silhouette of the Past.

Available exclusively on Kindle

10 Books Every Mystery Lover Should Read

Being an ardent mystery lover, I chose to list out the ten books every mystery lover should read. It is not easy to choose just 10 of them from this vast genre. If you haven’t read them yet, give them a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Here are my recommendations:

 

 

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith

Bury This by Andrea Portes

The Silent Wife by A. S. A. Harrison

And Then There were None by Agatha Christie

 

 

Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

An Unsuitable Job for a Woman by P.D. James

The Circular Staircase, Mary Roberts Rinehart

In The Woods, Tana French

 

Well, if you love suspense and mystery, I am sure you will have a hard time to stop yourself from flipping straight to the last page and see what happens.

Happy Reading Guys!!!

 

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From First to the Second Draft

If I ever thought that writing the first draft was a difficult task, I was in for a surprise. Harder ordeals await further. My first draft made me cringe. I couldn’t bear to read it.

But some things are needed to be done. So I pushed myself to read it once. I mean read it till the very end without a pause to edit it. The temptation to edit it straightaway was very hard to resist.

 

 

Here are some observations made while going through my first draft:

The outline I had originally plotted had changed. I mean it had changed a lot.

My story had several plot holes, which glared right back at me.

The characters of my story, though perfectly developed in my mind, didn’t look well etched in my draft.

The scenes required a little more description for the reader to visualize it the way I intended them to.

Some things were repeated in more than two chapters.

I had paid a lot of attention to some characters and some were ignored.

The end of the story seemed a little abrupt or hurried, as if I were just trying to get it over with.


 

Having made all the above observation, I thought of starting off with my second draft. For the first few days, I just didn’t know how or where to start from.

Then I came up with a plan. Here it is:

First, using the application, Calibre, I converted the first draft from a Word document into a  .mobi format.

I transferred the .mobi file to my mobile phone to read it on Kindle.

Then I read the entire story and while doing so, I highlighted the areas that needed my immediate attention.

I marked those areas with a small note of what needs to be done.

Then I reached back to my Word document on the laptop and used the ‘track change’ option.

Finally, I started with my second draft.


 

After every new scene that I added, I had to go back and read it to see the effect of it on the overall draft or the chapter. It was very exhausting.

Yet if we persist and see through the draft till the end, we learn many new things that the first draft hadn’t taught us.

 

Here are some things I learned while writing the second draft:

We desperately need beta readers right from the end of the first draft to let us know if the story is plausible in the first place and to point out some glaring discrepancies in the plot that escape our eyes in spite of repeated re-reads.

At least for the first timers, second draft is still not the phase where we can afford to start the editing, no matter how much we crave for it.

Rewriting the scenes can be cumbersome if we need to change the story line even slightly.

Adding new characters, if any, in the story while writing the second draft can create a herculean task to include the character in the entire sequence of the story and make us feel as if we are back to writing our first draft.

Not a single plot hole should remain unplugged by the end of the second draft.

Inter-weaving the sub-plots together is essential.

We need to check for any sequence of events in the story that needs to be relocated to another chapter to create better impact.

Now is also the time to add more emotional depth into the story.

Again, you need fresh pair of eyes to read the draft and give you a perspective and feedback from the readers point of view to proceed to the third draft which after editing, may hopefully turn out to be your manuscript.


 

This was my journey through the second draft. Now I wait for my beta readers to give me some valuable feedback. Till then I am on a break. I think I earned it.

 

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10 Blog Post Ideas

Shilpa Niraj

I have been asked by many people lately to share a few ideas as to what exactly can a new blogger blog about if they wish to start a blog. The most difficult question they seem to face is to find a theme for a blog. By theme, I do not mean the appearance of the blog. To come up with new posts regularly, one needs a theme to be consistent in the topic selection for each post. Here are some ideas that can help form a consistent source of blog posts.

10 blog post ideas:

  •  Reviews

Write stellar reviews for any or all of the following:

* Book

* Movie

* Restaurant

  • Fiction

Posting fiction can be a great way to display our work as a writer’s portfolio. We can choose any or all of the following:

* Short Story

* Flash Fiction (not more than 1000 words)

* Drabble (100 words)

  • Poetry

Choose a favorite form of poetry to make a blog post:

* Limerick (5 lines)

* Octaves (8 lines)

* Free Verse

  • Lists

Compile a list of top 10, 20, 50 things about a specific topic that would be useful the the readers.

  • Photo posts

A picture could be better than words, choose any of the following to make a blog post:

* Photo of the day

* Photo of the week

* Photo story

  • Inspiring quotes

Share some motivational and inspiring quotes on a particular topic in the form of a blog post.

  • Recipes

This is a great way to display our culinary skills to the world.

  • Travelogue

Travel experiences can make a wonderful blog post with some fantastic pictures of the destinations we have been to.

  • How to

DIY posts can be a great help to people.

  • Interviews

Posting interviews of people from our field or genre of work is a great way to connect with them and get more traffic to the blog.

 

Each idea can be a niche theme of the blog or a few ideas can be clubbed together to form categories for the menu options. This can help to create a platform to showcase the expertise of the blogger and also serve as a portfolio of work.

 

10 Things I Learned While Writing the First Draft.

 

It’s been 15 days since I started working on my first draft for the novella that I intend to write and publish. Here are the few things I learned in this journey that has just begun and this draft is my first step towards the huge task that I have taken up:

  1. Research is essential before starting the first draft and Google is our best friend.
  2. Plot outline helps eliminate the writer’s block.
  3. Show; don’t tell strategy didn’t work with my first draft. At first I used Tell; don’t show strategy to complete the raw draft else I would be stuck in the first chapter forever. I plan to Show, not tell, in my second draft.
  4. I had to curb my urge to edit the draft as I wrote. Don’t look back was the mantra I told myself over and over again.
  5. The character sketches may change as we advance in our story.
  6. New characters can be introduced in the story that are non-existent in the plot outline to make the story more convincing.
  7. Keep it short; we can weave the elaborate scenes and dialogues in the second draft.
  8. Friends can be helpful in finding loopholes in the outline of the story told so far. We can tell them the story even over the phone to get their feedback or suggestions. It helps.
  9. Reading our first draft may make us feel elated about completing the first milestone. At the same time we may feel that it’s the worst piece of work we have ever read. Don’t fret. A lot is yet to be done.
  10. This is just the beginning. The real work starts after completion of the first draft. There’s still a long way to go.

I have promised myself a week long break after the first draft.

Till then, happy reading and happy writing!!! 🙂

 

10 reasons why a blogger needs an Editorial Calendar

IMG_20150519_152813

Blogging is a task that requires some amount of consistency in terms of frequency of new blog posts in any given month. It doesn’t make sense to write one blog post every 2-3 months. Also, higher the frequency of posts, greater is the dilemma of generating new ideas and implementing them in the form of a blog post. This is where an Editorial Calendar can be useful.

Editorial Calendar is the schedule or the outline of the content planned for your blog for a specific timeframe, like maybe a month or a year. It can be made in the form of a Spreadsheet or a Document or simply download templates available on the Internet.

Here are some of the reasons why we need an Editorial Calendar:

  • Gives us time to think about new blog post ideas.
  • Creates consistency in content production.
  • Brings discipline in writing blog posts.
  • Gives us an overview of the quality of the content.
  • Helps us manage our time efficiently.
  • It takes some pressure off in meeting deadlines e.g. when we are asked to write reviews of books, restaurants, events in a particular time frame.
  • Allows us to schedule posts in advance for the time when we may be occupied with other things on professional or personal front.
  • Helps us to diversify the content by giving us a bird’s eye view of the monthly or yearly schedule.
  • Serves to balance the content in terms of categories in our blog.
  • Keeps writer’s block at bay.

But we also need to ensure that our Editorial Calendar is flexible enough and the deadlines we set for ourselves are reasonable. Planning ahead always helps.

My Editorial Calendar for June 2015 is ready. What about yours?

June 2015

Glimpses of Hongkong – My Clicks

Strolling across the streets of Hongkong last September, here are some moments I captured:

 

Hongkong Street

 

 

Hongkong Tower

 

 

Hongkong Prada

 

 

Hongkong Sea View

 

 

Madame Tussads Hongkong

 

 

Hongkong Bay

 

 

MonoRail to Peak Tower

 

 

Hongkong

 

 

Hongkong Bay View

 

 

Hyatt Regency Hongkong

 

Special moments make special memories.

I love to travel. Do you?

 

Kim Taught Me……

Yes, I am referring to Kim Kardashian and No; she doesn’t even know that I exist.

It is in recent times that I realized the importance of socializing and being a complete introvert, I found myself fumbling miserably in the social scene. After reading articles on ‘how to socialize’ on Google, I still couldn’t understand and implement it in real life. That’s when Kim rescued me, well not literally but virtually, by her famous game Kim Kardashian : Hollywood.

Kim Kardashian

I had to download the game on my android phone and there began my journey into the virtual world to become a socialite/celebrity. The game starts with me being on E list and I was supposed to rise to A list.

So on my journey to A list in this virtual world, I learnt a few things I would like to list out

 

 Talk to everyone.

Small Talk

Get over your parents advise of “Don’t talk to strangers”. Just talk to everyone. Introduce yourself to people. Start conversations. Silence will get you nowhere. Network with everyone. It’s an era of networking. Isolation would do no good.

 

Dress impeccably

Dress impeccably

If you want to get noticed in the social scene, be glamorous. You need to have a huge wardrobe comprising of the best of dresses, footwear, accessories and handbags. You never know whom you would walk into across the street so be your best dressed at all times.

 

Dating is costly

Date

Romance is expensive as it needs plush restaurants, exquisite food and wine. According to this game, it is mandatory to go on dates else you could be dumped and lose your popularity.

 

Throw parties

Parties

Hosting parties can make you very popular so learn to be a good host. You can get a lot of fans by throwing lavish parties at your home.

 

You need a lot of energy

Energy

Stamina is essential in this race. Without energy, not even the simplest of tasks can be performed. It takes a lot of energy to walk the ramp, attend promotional events, throw parties, and attend parties or even for dating. Maintain your energy levels.

Now that’s called ‘Play and Learn’.

 

A Game of Poker

poker

Couple of months ago I decided to host Poker parties at home. I had to learn to play poker first as I had only seen it on television or movies earlier. No one I knew of, played poker. So after asking a few friends and acquaintances, I realized that Google would be my teacher. So I went through many websites recommended by google.com to take lessons in poker. After a few days of reading about the game, it was time to try it out. So I had to download a game of poker on my android phone. After a month I figured out that I learnt enough to at least win some games with the android phone so it was time to bring in the human element. So I asked a couple of friends to join me at home for a game of poker. I had to teach them how to play but they picked up pretty fast compared to the time I spent on Google and Android. So after three poker parties in a month, I got a few insights from this brilliant game of cards.

  • Be on guard.

Your posture and expressions can give away a lot more than you may know. A fidgeting finger or a simple frown or a causal smile can change the course of the game. Control your reactions and emotions.

  • Learn when to let go.

Knowing when to hold ‘em or when to fold ‘em is the key. Being emotional on holding on when you can cut the losses by folding can cost you a lot.

  • Life isn’t fair.

Stop cribbing about a weak hand and use the hand you are dealt with. You may be surprised that even a pair of deuces can sometimes be powerful enough to win the game.

  • Poker can teach you a lot about yourself and others.

This game teaches a lot of behavioural and psychological aspects of yourself you didn’t know about as well as of others.

  • Know when to bluff and when not to.

You can’t always bluff; neither can you always play without bluffing. Its all about your image when it comes to bluffing. Be unpredictable enough so the opponent will not be able to catch it.

  • Strategize.

Hone your instincts and strategize your moves. Shift gears and keep the opponents off-balance.

  • Its just a game.

Be a good loser in case you lose. Throwing a fit of rage or getting very upset will do no good. It’s a lesson in sportsmanship. Play and have fun.

If there are any poker players reading this, feel free to add lessons you have learned in the comments.

Oh, I love poker!!! Do you?

Cards

5 reasons why I love Perry Mason

To those who do not know Perry Mason, here is a brief introduction. Perry Mason is a main character of the detective fiction written by Erle Stanley Gardner. He is a criminal defense lawyer who establishes the innocence of his clients by brilliant detective work and strategies. More than 80 novels have featured Perry Mason. No. This is not a book review. These are just my personal thoughts about the famous fictional character. Now back to the reasons why I love Perry Mason:

  • Perry has an uncanny ability to think beyond the obvious.

In The Case of the Caretaker’s Cat, he says: “Remember one thing about me – when I start fighting I don’t hit where the other man’s expecting the punch. I always hit in an unexpected place.”

  • He is extremely unconventional in pursuit of his goals.

In The Case of the Lucky Legs, Perry quotes: “I’m one of the biggest gamblers in the world. I gamble with human emotions instead of with cards.”

  • He usually is on the edge of trouble and law yet with his tricky defense strategies gets his clients out of trouble.

In The Case of the Cautious Coquette, Perry is forced to set up an elaborate trap of brilliant deception to avoid being implicated in murder.

  • Perry never gives up on difficult and almost-hopeless cases.

In The Case of the Caretaker’s Cat, Perry says: “A lawyer isn’t like a shopkeeper who can sell his wares or not as he chooses. He holds his talents in trust for the unfortunate.” In The Case of the Drowning Duck, he says: “You can get what you want out of life – if you fight hard enough for it.”

  • He is not keen to jump into any relationship like how usually handsome heroes are supposed to in other conventional novels.

Perry knows he is not the type to settle down and is too committed to his work and the excitement it brings in.   Oh, how I wish Perry Mason was a real man and not just an imagination of the author. I would definitely be head over heels in love with him.   PMSeries   Perry Mason Books Series available here.

Women Empowerment – A perspective

A much spoken about issue around the world is Women Empowerment. We hear it from politicians, celebrities, social activists and so on.

Women Empowerment in simplest words means to give power or authority to women.

What power exactly are we talking about?

More women are getting degrees than men and are playing bigger role as workers, executives, entrepreneurs, managers, investors and so on.

Lot of discussions and debates are heard and read about – tools for women empowerment, the benefits and a lot of barriers towards women empowerment and how they should be overcome.

It would be interesting to know different perspectives about women empowerment from different women whom we meet or encounter in our lives. What does it mean to each of them? What empowerment means to each woman may be different and complex.

Perspective

So I asked a few women around me about their take on women empowerment and here are the responses that I received –

  • Massum Pawar – Academic Co-ordinator

“An empowered woman is a woman who has the power to take her own decisions and stick to them at all times. A woman with power to control her life, knows her rights and claims them when needed. She is unchained, free in thoughts and actions.”

  •  S. Patkar – Entrepreneur – Digital Media

Mentally strong and healthy, highly energetic, very good in communication such that people get influenced by her, a woman who is in control and has an aura she carries along with her is an empowered woman according to me.”

  • Sujata Shetty – Architect

An empowered woman is energetic and strong-willed. She is sharp, witty and kind.”

  • Deepali Parkar – Entrepreneur

“A strong woman who is an inspiration to others, a woman who has the right amount of grace and grit to shape her life and a will, determination and freedom to achieve her ambitions is an empowered woman.”

  • Vaishali Kamat – Homemaker  

“A woman who has the power and freedom of decision-making and is in control of her life, thoughts and actions, is an empowered woman. She is determined and positively motivated and can be an inspiration to the people around her.”

  • Kajal Sharma – Human Resource Consultant

An empowered woman is financially independent, determined and has the authority of decision-making. She is ambitious and a respected member of the society.”

  • Deepa Valecha – Customer Service-Head (Telecom)

Women empowerment means equal rights and opportunities given to women compared to their male counterparts in every arena of life, be it financial, professional, personal and social. Women now are enabled to take more personal decisions, about their higher education, marriage, etc.”

Many Indian women are now demanding visibility and a share within their family, at work and in society.

May we all continue to be empowered.