June 22, 2017

In Conversation with Howard Roark...

Hi Howard

Congratulations for your book ‘Newton's Law Reversed: Conflict - Some evade, some efface, while most embrace: 1’! It is a pleasure to have a conversation (though not face-to-face) with you about your literary journey. Just like an intriguing title, your literary journey also sounds very interesting. This short session will give my readers a sneak peek into the making of this book.

1.   Tell us a little about yourself, perhaps something not many people know.

I have an emotional core protected by a cool mantle of mischief, reticence, and jubilance. I’m one to appreciate the small pleasures of life, the efforts behind simple conceptions, and as well, the glory of mammoth creations.

2.   Music or silence: what do you prefer and why?

Music is the intoxicant I crave within silence, and silence is the relief I seek amidst noise. However, while writing, I prefer the gentleness of silence.

3.   Have you written any other book (s) that have not been published?

I have a fistful of short stories that I have not published. They are from my early days of writing - raw, jarring, and cutting.

4.   What do you think about ebook revolution?

The ebook revolution is great for the new age reducing a publisher’s / author’s carbon footprint. Also, this facilitates low-cost production and distribution. However, I do recognize and accept that today abounds with readers who still prefer to hold, smell, and feel the book they read. I’m fine with either as long as the reading habit persists.

5.   Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

I prefer that the characters hijack any story. I abhor the presence of a nagging narrator in a plot. Beauty lies in a scene unraveling through conversations, and actions that flesh out the characters involved, and lets the readers form their own biased opinion, rather than pushing the author's. You see, the book is as much the reader’s, as it’s the writer’s, so the writer shouldn’t overstay his welcome in the reader’s cognizance.

6.   What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you?

It’s the energy that I put into my book at the beginning. I had written a third of the book (in terms of the number of words) in 2 weeks, and I surprised myself there, especially when the rest of it took a good part of the 4 years that followed. Well, the amusing part is that I have never known myself to be so dedicated in doing anything of substance, so I was amazed at the passion I discovered with writing.

7.   What is your favourite part of the book?

I like all the parts where Akash’s (the protagonist’s) ego takes a beating, since to me, he represents the over-confident, bragging, and careless youth phase of anyone’s life, and that’s a period of life that I like to laugh at, specifically due to the immaturity, and the follies that define it in general. Thereby, it amused me to ensure that his defeats were persistent, painful, and embarrassing.

8.   Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do?

I am a full-time Software Engineer with Cisco Systems, and I’m also a qualified hypnotherapist, with which I help out friends/family. Also, I’m a freelance Android App developer, and a home automation enthusiast.

9.   What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

The toughest in terms of being incredible was when my book was termed boring, and something that has no value. Well, I should only say that my book is not for all to enjoy. My writing does not satisfy the roller-coaster-seeking, adrenaline-craving youth, but does only those who wish to experience a mind, a perspective, and a long drive along a coast, with nothing for company but the steady drone of words, and a silence without.

10.                     How was your experience working with Leadstart Publishers? Would you recommend their name to aspiring authors?

In today’s rush to seek quick business and hasty opulence, service and nobility have taken the boot behind the back seat. However, I have been having a good relationship with Leadstart from the very beginning. Although Leadstart has been my first and only publisher experience, I must say that I have been satisfied overall with their approach, and performance and that I would indeed recommend Leadstart to aspiring authors.

June 18, 2017

Book Review: Winning like Virat: Think & Succeed like Kohli

Winning Like Virat: Think & Succeed like Kohli
Author: Abhirup Bhattacharya
Publisher: RUPA Publishers
Rating:  2.5/5

Virat’s phenomenal success cannot go unnoticed. A middle-class boy, hailing from Delhi, etched his name in the Indian Cricket and the world went crazy after him. Not only is Virat a remarkable player but also has a killer personality and is pulchritudinous. ‘Winning like Virat’ is a non-fiction work that elicits the secrets that helped Virat succeed. The author aims to expose the readers to the best way they can emulate the qualities in their lives.

With uncomplicated language and pleasant print quality, the book has the potential to attract a lot of readers. This is not only because of the cover (that has Virat’s picture) but because the book promises to bring into light the qualities that constitute Virat’s personality. But the cover’s flawless façade masks the content that offers nothing new.

How many of us have read ‘Win and Think Like Dhoni’ by Sfurti Sahare? Well, compared to this, ‘Winning like Kohli’ is a bummer. The title is similar to the book that is already in the market. The content is equivalent to old wine in a new bottle. Most of the information has been just cited (scoop whoop, times of India). There is little mention of Virat’s story. For an instance, the first two chapters mainly focus on the mentor-mentee relationship, about how important the mentors are. But the examples could have been better had the author quoted some of Virat’s life stories. Also, the author beats around the bush when he tries to highlight the importance of Mr. Rajkumar Sharma in Virat's life.

Grammatically, the content is fine. But content-wise, I was unhappy with what the book offered. The author has tried to derive the lessons from what has either been reported by media or has been printed in the articles. But the desperate attempt to showcase this as brand-new goes in vain.

Overall, the book should not be judged by the face value, for the content is repetitive and the facts like ‘Kohli is calm under pressure’ makes the author’s researching prowess arguable.

Buy this book from:

Book courtesy: Rupa Publishers


June 15, 2017

In Conversation with Leni Varkey...

Hi Leni
Congratulations for your book ‘Kuttan’s Dilemma’! It is a pleasure to have a conversation (though not face-to-face) with you about your literary journey. Just like an intriguing title, your literary journey also sounds very interesting. This short session will give my readers a sneak peek into the making of this book.

1.   How did you get to be where you are in your life today?
I started writing poems when I was eight years old. This was inspired after coming across a book full of poems written by my late grandfather. I never published any of my works before. Writing has always been a part of my life and my diary has always been my best friend. This story has a lot of elements from my childhood like the guava tree and Achayan but the story is completely fictional. I felt there was a need in the market to convey the core message in the book which is to approach your parents no matter what your problem is.

2.   How do you feel about alternative vs. conventional publishing?
I feel conventional publishing will have more exposure as India is a country still in its infancy when it comes to the digital world.

3.   What process did you go through to get your book published?
It was very simple. I sent the manuscript to the then editor. Then we decided on an illustrator and my ideas were conveyed which he was able to translate in his drawings. After a few editings here and there, the process was over.

4.   How do you find or make time to write?
Early morning or late night.

5.   What do you like to read during your free time?
Dan Brown books.

6.   What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Evoking the emotions of a child.

7.   How was your experience working with Leadstart Publishers?
It was wonderful. It was my first attempt at publishing so they guided me every step of the way.

In Conversation with Madhavi Hadker...

Hi Madhavi

Congratulations for your book ‘Over a Cup of Coffee’! It is a pleasure to have a conversation (though not face-to-face) with you about your literary journey. Just like an intriguing title, your literary journey also sounds very interesting. This short session will give my readers a sneak peek into the making of this book.

1.   When did you first realise that you wanted to become a writer?
When I got an opportunity to work & stay in Panchgani as a Residential school teacher, I was very excited! However, as I settled down and started working, I felt very lonely. It was at that time when I started writing short stories and articles.

2.   How did you become involved with the subject/ theme of your book?
Since childhood, I had the habit of writing a diary. In my diary, I wrote about my experiences, my secrets, my fears, the tough times I had and the times I felt on top of the world! I also loved to note down beautiful thoughts, anecdotes and all the exciting events with my friends/colleagues in my personal diary. Later, all these lovely incidences became the subject of my book.

3.   Can you share some stories about people you met while researching for this book (the ones that could not find place in this book)?
Definitely. I shall send you one of them to be published as a guest post.

4.   How do you feel about e books vs. print books?
 E books today have their own advantages – like they are easy to carry & use, it is convenient & saves space. However, I still treasure the concept of print books. I love holding a book in my hand & feeling it, smelling its pages & marking my favourite paragraphs in books! I also love the concept of lending a great book to a friend as a “must read” or to have a huge library of your all-time favourite author. This cannot happen if you are into e books.   

5.   What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
All the illustrations have been personally sketched by me. Also, all the stories are based on true incidences that have taken place in my life (except for the 1st story- Confession.) These two things make my book stand out from the crowd.

6.   Do you write more by logic or intuition, or a combination of the two?
I write as a combination – logic and intuition. 
7.   What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?
It took me around 10 years to write this collection of short stories & 5 more years to get it in print. This is what many people haven’t asked me.

8.   Have you ever gone on any literary pilgrimage?
Yes, I have gone on a literary pilgrimage after reading Ruskin Bond’s book –‘The Children’s Companion,’ as well as his short story collection ‘Time stops at Shamli.’
All the stories are written so beautifully & have mostly been set in the very pretty hill-stations called Landore, in Mussorie or in Dehradun. So, when I visited this pretty hill station, I could literally visualize Ruskin Bond’s long walks through the winding roads, the pretty, pink cherry trees & the different animals like the squirrels, rare birds & the majestic tigers …along my walks.   

9.   A common misconception entwined with authors is that they are socially inept. How true is that?
I don’t think that this statement is true. Many authors spend a lot of their time mingling with other authors as well as with other people to find out more about their own style of writing and how to improve it. They usually mix with different people coming from various fields. They definitely do take interest by reading/studying different types of books, attend & give talk-shows, & observe a lot while travelling – in order to get new ideas for their own collection of stories/novels and articles.

10.                     And finally, the clichéd question: How was your experience working with Leadstart Publishers?
I would like to thank Leadstart Publishers. As a new writer, it is really hard to find publishers who will be interested in your project. It is because of the platform created by Leadstart that my book was able to reach a wider audience. It was a pleasant experience.

June 13, 2017

In Conversation with Savita Nair...

Hi Savita

Congratulations for your book ‘Tell me your real story’! It is a pleasure to have a conversation (though not face-to-face) with you about your literary journey. Just like an intriguing title, your literary journey also sounds very interesting. This short session will give my readers a sneak peek into the making of this book.

1.   How long have you been writing?
Well, to tell you the truth, I’ve been writing since childhood…when I was 10 years or so, I would write poems about pets and my holidays and people I met. I never really stopped writing, though it was only in the last five-six years that I started writing in a more disciplined manner. As in, devoting time every week to some amount of writing.

2.   If given a chance to write a biography, whose biography would you like to write?
The Late Actress Mae West or Poet Dorothy Parker. I admire firebrand women, women who can tell it as it is, these two ladies are my favourites. Dorothy Parker is my writing inspiration and she embodies a lot of what I want to say. So yes, I would have loved to write their biography. In today’s time, I truly admire J.K. Rowling, I’d love to write her biography.

3.   Are the poems in your book inspired by true incidents?
Yes, a lot of what I observe in real life goes into my poems. All the emotions aren’t mine, a lot of them are borrowed, but they’re all real for sure.

4.   How did you decide that you wanted to publish a collection of poems?
I used to keep writing poems and publishing them on Facebook and my blog. A lot of people would ask me why I haven’t published a book yet. I guess the pressure got to me.and the lazy person I am, I finally got around to compiling a collection of my poems and asking publishers if they would consider publishing it.

5.   Which among them is your favourite poem?
Tell Me Your Real Story – the title poem is one of my favourites. It’s about what I truly believe most of our urbane conversations lack – real-ness.

6.   What is the best compliment you have ever received?
I think the most heartfelt compliments are the ones that make me feel that my writing has made someone feel..I mean really feel! Once a woman told me “I wanted to get into your brain when I read that poem” and I thought that was incredibly flattering.

7.   Have you thought of joining with another author to write a book?
I really haven’t given it thought, but I have had several conversations about books and poetry with other writers. It’s all very exciting.

8.   How was your experience working with Leadstart Publishers?
Super awesome. They’ve been a guiding light through this entire book experience of Tell Me Your Real Story, right from agreeing to publishing it to proofing to editing to cover design to book launch activities. They’re the complete package and very organized about it. So if you’re a first-time novice writer who wants to be published, I’d advise you to approach them right away.

June 11, 2017

Book Review: 37 + Grace Marks by Vishal Anand

37 + Grace Marks

Author: Vishal Anand
Publisher: Srishti Publishers
Rating: 2.5/5

“The Illiterate of the 21st century won’t be those who can’t read and write but those who can’t learn, unlearn and relearn.” The traditional idea of being educated is to have glorious scores on the mark sheets, a good paying 9-5 job, and an ideal money-saving strategy. But with time, some perspectives have changed too. Now, people believe more in the fact that education is not learning of facts and figures but the training of the mind to think.

“37+ Grace Marks” touches the same issue and narrates the story of Viraj, an engineering student, and his friends. The novella is built around one major idea that the students bear the brunt of college rules. Be it attendance or dreary shower by the teachers, the students are the ones who come apart at the seams. The novel explores the precarious personality of Viraj, who is a round character that evolves throughout the story. Once jaunty and carefree, Viraj’s psyche is altered when Nimisha enters his life. Rejected in love (twice), his desperate attempts to balance his life with good marks also fails. Left with no other option, he decides to call it quits.

Viraj’s wobbly personality is not very amiable. There are certain missing links in the story; some chapters have not been linked to each other properly. Another point that I would like to highlight is the biased perception towards determined achievers. The plot might seem relatable to most of the students who are either still studying or have completed college. But for the ones who are (were) diligent achievers, the emotions seem distant.

Coming to the technicalities of the book, the cover of the book is apt; the title, however, fails to impress. A subtler title would have been better. I was rather peeved at the frivolous mistakes (like on page179 when the doctor acknowledges Nimisha because her father was his friend, the line that quotes the same is: “His father and I were college friends.”). The incorrect use of pronoun here irked me a lot. Other than this, the casual or I would rather say the colloquial use of language is something I disliked (for example I removed myself from the front of the door).

Other than this, the previews were for the author and not the story. Generally, it is the other way around. With a baffling blurb, the story failed to strike the right chord. Amidst very high claims, the plot has nothing new to offer. The character of Nimisha could have been given more importance and this could have been used to make the ending a little unpredictable.

Best wishes to the author.

Buy this book from:

June 10, 2017

Book Review: The Tree with a Thousand Apples by Sanchit Gupta

The Tree with a Thousand Apples
Author: Sanchit Gupta
Publisher: Niyogi Publishers
Rating: 4/5

Kashmir, the lost paradise, was once as peaceful as sleep. Capped with lush green trees and meadows, this land offered serene and tranquil time in the lap of nature. However, the entire scenario has changed now. Amidst political altercations and physical rampage, Kashmir has now become the bane of many lives. People who once lived happily there, are now living a miserable and fearful life. 

Read more here.

June 03, 2017

Book Review: Dying to Live by Monisha Gumber

Dying to Live

Author: Monisha K. Gumber
Publisher: Leadstart Publishers
Rating: 3/5

These days children love to read. It feels so good seeing the seventh graders reading books that not only offer complicated perspectives but also offer good language. On this note, Monisha Gumber’s ‘Dying to Live’ fails to live up to my expectations. No, it is not because of a quirky cover. Instead, the font style and the informal language used is something that acted as a turn-off for me.

‘Dying to Live’ is a story about Megha, a strong, determined girl who has a bee in her bonnet about becoming the best. She has the best of both worlds- she is good in academics and she aces the extracurriculars. But still, she sulks and does something unthinkable. Teenage years are considered to be the fragile years because that is when one’s personality is molded. Megha’s strong-mindedness helps her overcome the obstacles and that is what the story is all about.

I did not quite like the presentation of the text in the book, for the teenagers are not kids who love unorganized and random text. They prefer reading novels/ novellas that have the elements of the plot placed and timed accurately.

The editing of the book is fine and the artwork adds to the content. Overall, the book is worth one shot as you never know how it might surprise others.

Best wishes to the authoress!
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Book Review: A Symphony of Chance Encounters by Sayujya Sankar

A Symphony of Chance Encounters

Author: Sayujya Sankar
Publisher: Notion Press
Rating: 2.5/5

The sky takes on shades of orange during sunrise and sunset, the colour that gives you hope that the sun will set only to rise again.
~Ram Charan

Life is not simple as it comprises of different shades of joy, grief, pain, love, greed and lust. Just like the sunset marks the end of a day (either joyful or remorseful), the sunrise gives us the hope for a new beginning. ‘A Symphony of Chance Encounters’ is a collection of short stories and poems that reflect some of the very common emotions and help the readers realize what life is all about. Cherry picking t instances from lives of different people that can pervade through the soul and leave a lasting impression, the authoress has tried her level best to present a good collection on the platter. But owing to the evident variation in the language and several grammatical errors, the overall quality of the book loses points.

The cover of the book has been creatively designed; the blurb doesn’t give out much information though. Some of the stories seemed out of place; a more precise selection would have worked well.

Overall, the book offers an insightful experience altogether. I would not say that the book is a must read but instead, it is a light read.

Best wishes to the authoress!

Buy this book from:

June 01, 2017

In Conversation with Kiran Manral...

Hi Kiran,

Congratulations for your book ‘Once Upon a Crush’! It is a pleasure to have a conversation (though not face-to-face) with you about your literary journey. What’s different is that I will be asking you questions that are not quite related to your latest book. So let us start the gossip session, shall we?

1.   What is the inspiration behind your book ‘Once Upon a Crush’?

Once Upon A Crush came about listening to stories from folks about the various crushes and office romances they had had over the years, how it is absolutely unsuitable to swoon over someone at the workplace and yet inevitably one always does, given one works in close quarters with them for so many hours.

2.   Which is the first book that made you cry?

My passbook always makes me cry. Seriously though I think the first book that made me cry was Jane Eyre.

3.   What are the common traps for the aspiring young writers? Have you come across any such malpractice?
  Traps are plenty in every field, I think the best thing for writers to do is to not be too greedy to be published and to serve their time in practice of their craft.

4.   What is your writing kryptonite?

My keyboard. And my fingers.

5.   Do you think women authors are more emotionally inclined towards their book characters?
I think there is a balance of emotional involvement with one’s characters and a certain amount of detachment one must feel in order to let the plot develop and that is true of any writer not specifically women authors. Unless that is in place, it isn’t possible to write a story that moves out of the realm of self indulgence.

6.   Do you hide any secrets in your book that only few people can find?

Not really. I write a story. And readers are free to read what they will into it, hidden or overt.

7.   What does Literary Success look like to you?

I wouldn’t know actually. I think having your books living on after you would make for literary success.

Now, here are some Rapid Fire Questions. This section of the conversation is meant to give the readers a glimpse of your personality. 

a.   Do you google yourself?
  Of course. It’s good to know that if I die the internet will remember me.

b.   Favourite cartoon character
He Man

c.    Favourite author moment
Readers queuing up to have their copies of my book signed.

d.  Favourite motherhood moment
My mom telling me I’m a good mom

e.    Dream job
What I’m doing right now

f.     Dream setting for your book
Intergalactic, in a parallel universe.

And finally the cliched question: How was your experience working with Leadstart Publishers?

That went like a breeze. Thanks Kiran for this short and sweet conversation. I wish you luck for your future endeavours.