Category Archives: Interviews

An Interview with ‘Anandhotep’

It is a brand new year. And I have brand new interviews lined up on Scribbles@Arpita. Presenting before you all today is the ever so quirky Anand of Anand’s Parodies & Caricatures. Anand is a blogger and caricaturist with a great sense of humor, so it is best to let him do the talking! Here we go!

1. Tell us about yourself.
And…the interview begins! Why do interviews always start with this question, is a question that demands an answer! Speaking of demands, I am reminded of myself – a thirty-some common urban Indian man of today, who is always in demand. Don’t get me wrong. The sort of demand I am referring to, is the demand for unpaid labor, unfelt emotions, and uncalled-for duties. I am a self-proclaimed representative of the Indian family man who runs chores for his mother, mediates the household quarrels between the two women who rule his life, and tries build a bridge between his passion and his work, while struggling to keep a lid on the mouth of his volcanic family that can erupt any moment.
2. How long have you been creating caricatures?
For a while now. I was inspired by another artist, who wants to remain anonymous. I always had good control of the pencil and from the childhood, a passion for geometric drawing – but caricatures happened quite late in life. But all said, I think that if you can draw and you have a quirky and somewhat snarky way of looking at life, caricatures happen automatically!
3. Tell us about the QSM magazine. What inspired you to take up this project?
qsm-magazine-issue2The QSM magazine ( just happened to me. I took the blogging101 course, and realized that readers liked my humor and my caricature-renditions. So I thought why not put them together and present a magazine to my readers. So the decision was quick, but it’s implementation was killing. Wifey went ballistic. She nearly smashed my computer, because after sitting on my butt and programming for 8 to 9 hours a day, I’d spend about 5 hours on the magazine, every day! Mom went on her usual routine of how the demure dusky diva had enticed her brilliant, IITian son and changed him into an artist-programmer. If Mom and wifey happened to learn that my blogger friends were responsible for my descent…they might join forces and come after you with a red-hot frying pan and a rolled up magazine respectively.
4. Anandhotep fans want to know, how appreciative is your Mom about QSM? Has she read any edition?
She detests it. Her son had fallen from the sky and managed to get his diapers caught in theanandhotep-the-qsm-magazine branches of programming – he still could’ve earned a decent living (thank god, he learned to program; as an artist he’d have starved!) In her opinion, the QSM Magazine is that storm that will unhinge him even from programming and toss him into the abyss of obscurity! “Puttar ji, thookan nal papad jai tale jaande” (Son, you can’t fry finger-chips in saliva…or words won’t pay your bills!) That I am still publishing the magazine, proves that she hasn’t read any edition! (There are times when I feel grateful for her being far-sighted!)
5. Your pet dog features prominently in your blogposts and QSM (and is one of my favourite characters). How long have you had her? Tell us something about her that we don’t know already.
She is the love of my life (and wifey is mighty jealous of her.) That she has me wrapped around the pinkie of her left paw, is wifey’s opinion, and I concur. She’s had me for almost a decade now. She’s bilingual and has a vocab of more than a hundred words (Hindi and English combined.) All I can say is that among the ladies of the house, she appreciates my efforts the most.
5. Scrolling down the digital pages of QSM makes me feel that if someone really has the passion to pursue his/her hobby, then a day job is hardly a hindrance. Tell us how you balance life and your art.
I work from home, and while this arrangement gobbles up my weekends, it also saves me the commutation time. I take time off between projects (if I can,) but being responsible for paying the rent and putting food on the table, does put a certain pressure on you. You are right, passion for creating what I consider the best Indian humor magazine out there, keeps me going, despite all the hurdles. I wake up early (at 4,) and work on the magazine for at least two hours before everyone else in the house is up. The only adverse fallout of this is that I am now expected to prepare the morning tea and rouse everyone else.
6. Do you feel a good caricaturist is also a good humorist?
Not necessarily. While both possess humor-tinted glasses, they must express what they want to in their own ways. I think I am a jack of both the trades, but a writer needn’t necessarily draw or the vice-versa. A lot of excellent caricaturists believe that language is only a tool to communicate with the client, and they never stop to burnish it; similarly many writers think of drawing as something that must be left either to kids or professionals. This is why one may not be the other; not in most cases.
7. What are your future plans with QSM? Do you plan to pursue a self-publishing route for it, or will it always be free (for our delight)? Do you have other projects in mind?
I’m looking for humorists who want to find an intelligent and appreciative readership. I’d also love to find caricaturists/cartoonists who’d like to contribute to the magazine. If I find great authors and artists, the QSM Magazine will grow, because then I can spend some of my time improving the design and focusing on promoting it. The third issue of the QSM Magazine (  literally flew off the shelves of QSM humor has an international scope but an Indian flavor – so regardless of where you are and who you are, there would always be something for you in the magazine. I cannot say if it will always be free, but till I have the support of the readers, I’ll try to keep it free. I’d like to request the readers of the QSM magazine to help me promote it. Share its link/icon, tweet about it, write to me with your thoughts, write for it – do whatever you want with it – and do double; there won’t be any trouble! (I must’ve caught this bigg bugg from Bigg Boss 9!)
8. Any message for the readers for the New Year?
Get some Quirky, Snarky, Malarkey in your life! Have fun, poke jokes, draw to your heart’s fill, write to make the world smile, and subscribe to the QSM Magazine! Heeng lage na fitkari, aur rang aaye chokha – to kyon nahi, hain ji? (You don’t have to pull out your wallet, nor do you have to swipe your credit card, then why stop yourself from sampling the cerebral delights of the QSM Magazine? Right?!) Do what makes you happy, because the quest of happiness begins at home.

QSM on the Web:
The QSM Magazine Online: The QSM Magazine
QSM Magazine’s FB page at:
My twittering-self:

Do follow Anand on his blog for more of Quirky, Snarky, Malarkey! And don’t forget to sign up for your copy of QSM!

P.S: All the caricatures published in this post are created by Anand. The images are subject to copyright.

An Interview with Alex Bruty – Mentor at WoMentoring Project

Those of you who have read my last post on the WoMentoring Project know who Alex Bruty is. For the uninitiated, Alex is a wonderful mentor at The WoMentoring Project where upcoming female authors are provided free mentoring by professional literary women. Also, she has been my mentor since August this year. To know more about this project, read on!

In Conversation with Alex Bruty
Interviewer: Arpita

Tell us about the WoMentoring Project.

I think the WoMentoring project is best described as a pay-it-forward initiative. It was born out of the realisation that there are many ways new writers can get help and feedback on their writing; for example via degree courses, professional editing/feedback services, but all these things cost a lot of money. What if someone is really talented and needs a little bit of help, but can’t afford to pay for it? More and more it seems that whether or not you climb the ladder in any sort of creative pursuit, is greatly dependent on your bank balance. So, WM being a free service is vitally important. People come to WM for a variety of reasons, the mentors range from highly-respected writers and agents, to new writers like me. The aim is to provide mentees with feedback on their writing.

Tell us about your own creative writing journey and how you came to be a part of the WoMentoring Project. How long have you been part of this project?

I’ve always written, but started to take it more serious around eight years ago. Before that I wouldn’t have dreamt of showing anyone anything that I’d written. That’s actually part of the reason that, around a year and a half ago, I volunteered to be a mentor with WM. I’m really just starting out myself, but I know what a leap of faith it can be to show someone something you’ve written for the first time. Cost is not the only prohibitive factor in someone not wanting to join something like a writing group or course. There are lots of talented people who are frightened to show anyone their writing- you could say it’s the literary equivalent of stage fright. If you just want to write for yourself, that’s great. But, if you eventually would like to get something published, then I’d say feedback is pretty essential. That’s what I feel I can offer a mentee, a safe environment to test things out, explore their writing and find out what they can improve on. I know that the short stories I’ve had published wouldn’t have been accepted had I not been through the long learning processes that I have, so to pass on some of that knowledge to someone else is a real pleasure.

What do you love most about this project?

I think the best thing for me is seeing not only the growth in literary voice of my mentees, but also their growth in confidence.

Mentoring can be educational to both the mentor and the mentee. Tell us about something that you learnt while mentoring for The WoMentoring Project.

Mentoring just refreshes everything you already know, but forces you not to let it lapse! So, in that sense, it reinforces good habits. Also, on a more personal level with you, Arpita, I am learning not only about Indian culture, but about the lack of opportunities to do creative writing courses that there are in India.

What is it that you look for in a good short story?

To be immediately transported into another world. Writing short stories requires many different things to novels- the obvious one being there is less time to absorb yourself into the setting and get to know the characters. For this reason, the writer has less time to ‘grab’ the reader, so it has to be immediately engaging and concise. For my own personal taste, I like to read about something that I’ve never considered before; or, to read a writing style that is truly distinctive.

Suggest three writers that an aspiring short-story writer must read.

I’d probably recommend they read something that is in the same vein as the genre/style they are writing in, and then, the exact opposite, something that they would never consider writing, just to compare and contrast different styles and consider all the options that are available.

My own personal three favourite short story collections are The First Person and    Other Stories by Ali Smith; No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July and The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales by Kirsty Logan.

Tell us about one creative writing exercise that has helped you the most as a writer.

The one that helps me the most is freewriting because it’s just raw and you don’t get a chance to self-edit. It’s basically writing down the first things that come into your head and letting your thoughts spiral, it often takes you somewhere you wouldn’t automatically go. It can even get a bit weird sometimes, in an out-of-body type of way, like it’s not really you who’s in charge of the pen/keyboard…or maybe that’s just me! Most of it will probably be unusable, but it’s very freeing and there might just be that one amazing line hidden in there somewhere.

If you were asked to give three tips to an aspiring author, as far as the structure and voice of writing is concerned, what would they be?

A tutor of mine would always say ‘find the uniqueness within your writing’. I think this is particularly applicable to the voice of a character, or a story. At first it could sound like obvious advice, but it requires you to be really honest and ask yourself if you are creating something that is unique rather than a pastiche of someone else you admire, or even something that you’ve written before.

I’m not a fan of formal structural advice, as I think it can halt creativity. I’d prefer a really messy, unstructured first draft that can be edited later, rather than trying to keep to a pre-destined structure that might stifle creativity. Having said that, structurally, I often find that new writers tend to get muddled with where exactly in a story they have said something. For example, certain knowledge might be assumed at the beginning of a story without them actually writing it on the page. In contrast, sometimes too much information is given at the wrong times and it can slow a story down. Try not to get too expositional and bogged down with details that aren’t needed. And remember that dialogue can often be a great way of picking up the pace of a piece if you feel things are getting a bit static.

An Interview with Kaisy Wilkerson-Mills – Co-Author of ‘The Dystopian Nation of City-State’

Back in May I published a guest post on co-writing by Kaisy Wilkerson-Mills, co-author of The Dystopian Nation of City-State. Today Kaisy is back with us for a QnA about indie publishing, the genre dystopia and more.

Tell us about The Dystopian Nation of City-State.

dystopian 1 completeKaisy: The Dystopian Nation of City-State is a futuristic nation set in the year 3211.  It is a horrible place where the government controls all aspects of its citizens lives.  From entertainment and sports to health care and education, the residents are forced to comply with unreasonable rules and procedures.  Unfortunately, the residents believe this is normal, and they do not fight the system.  And, well, there are the Illegals and a couple of doctors who attempt to debunk the system.

What do you think attracts the reader to dystopian literature?

Kaisy: Dystopian literature is frightening because it is somewhat realistic.  Certain events could actually happen.  Dystopian literature is a steal peak into the future of a society.

Tell us about your writing process. Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

Kaisy: James and I have a structured process.  We constantly talk and outline each chapter, section, or short story.  “Seeing where the idea takes us” usually happens in the outline/prewriting stage.

If you were to write in any other genre except dystopian/sci-fi/fantasy, what would it be?

Kaisy: Oh my!  I don’t know!  I think it is safe to say the James and I could attempt any genre EXCEPT romance.  No “crotch novels”, please.

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?

Kaisy: James and I edit and proofread all of our writings.  I am an English teacher, so I can handle most of the grammar and style issues.  James is the lead creative force, and I fill in and proofread.  We make a great team!

Do you think that the book cover plays an important part in the buying process?

Kaisy: Oh yes!  Most readers “eat with their eyes”.  The cover and the title draw the readers to the literature.  It is just as important to create a intriguing title and cover as it is to create the story itself.

The indie author must also be a good salesman/woman. Your take?

Kaisy: Yes, indies need to be charismatic and bubbly, but the word “salesman” may be a little strong.  No one wants a pushy salesman.  If the author is excited about his or her literature and the story is great, readers will take note.

Tell us about something interesting/amusing that happened while promoting your book.

10665226_354663418049537_4933671362393152080_nKaisy: This actually happened the other weekend. I was at Crystal Coast Con promoting City-State’s short stories, and someone asked, “Cool star.  What does it mean?”

Ooops!  Well, the Seven Point Star is City-State’s national symbol, and I had forgotten that James perfectly laid out the Star.  James assigned a word/theme and an explanation for each point of the Star.  I couldn’t remember this information!  FAIL!

As an indie author yourself, what advice do you have for fellow indie authors?

Kaisy: Don’t quit your day job, and BE PATIENT!  Novels and short stories are not written in a day.  Use and trust the writing process.

What lies ahead for Kaisy and James after the City-State Adventures?

Kaisy: James and I will be releasing our first novel, StarChild, chapter by chapter on our blog. You all will get to read StarChild as we create it!  There are three parts to StarChild, and James and I are planning a trilogy!


To know more about the Dystopian world and read the StarChild for free, follow The Dystopian Nation of City-State on WordPress. The City-State Adventures are available via Amazon.

In Conversation with Kelly Miller – Author of the Detective Kate Springer series

If you are a mystery lover, sit tight! Today our guest is Kelly Miller, author of the thrilling Kate Springer Detective series (Book #1: Dead Like Me, Book #2: Deadly Fantasies). I received a copy of her second book through a giveaway and I can assure you that the author delivers exactly what she promises in her website: “detective novels with as much emotion as fast-paced plot

So, without much ado, let’s get behind the scenes of what mystery writing entails with the lovely Kelly Miller!

Author Kelly Miller
Author Kelly Miller

Have you always wanted to write mystery? If you were to write in any other genre, what would it be?

Kelly: I’ve always been intrigued with the mystery genre, not only in books but in television and movies. For years, I’ve soaked up everything I could—how to hook an audience, what makes a good story, why a reader keeps on reading. I’ve absorbed it all, mulling it over in my brain for a couple of decades, and then one day I just sat down at the computer and let it all out.

If I were to write in any other genre, it would definitely be paranormal. I’m intrigued with all things supernatural, everything from ghosts to psychics. I’ve considered writing a paranormal mystery but so far no story idea has come to me. Maybe one day . . .

Tell us about your next book, Splintered. Any release date yet?

Kelly: Here’s the book blurb (still a work in progress) for my third book which is the first in a new series:

Life turns from bad to worse when Maddy Eastin’s impulsive plan to win back the loving attention of her absentee father backfires. Word of her failed scheme quickly spreads and when mockery escalates to cyberbullying by abusive classmates, Maddy and her failed stunt become headline news. But the worst is yet to come . . .

When Hank Fry sees Maddy Eastin on the evening news, his already fractured psyche completely splinters. He finally surrenders to his true nature—a moral code molded by a sadistic father who taught Hank that girls need proper training to become the perfect subservient woman. When Maddy vanishes, she’s labeled a runaway even though her mother believes she was a victim of foul play. Will detectives discover Maddy’s in trouble before it’s too late?

One of the things I love most about Splintered is that it’s written from the viewpoint of five very different and extremely flawed characters. So readers not only get a glimpse into the heroine’s state of mind, but they also get to see how the story unfolds through other’s eyes.

Once the edits are done (hopefully by the end of September), I’m hoping to get the book published through Amazon’s crowdsourcing imprint, Kindle Scout. This is a great new pilot program where authors put their book’s cover and first chapter online at and readers can vote for their favorite story (you only get 3 votes). Amazon editors then read the books that are Hot Trending and decide if they’d like to publish it. If my book is chosen, all those who voted for it will receive a free e-copy! The best way fans can find out when voting opens for Splintered is to sign up for my newsletter at

What are you currently working on? What is next for Detective Kate Springer series?

Kelly: Right now I’m diligently working on editing my third novel, Splintered. But once that’s done, I’m going to start a third Detective Kate Springer book.

Cover of Deadly Fantasies by Kelly Miller
Deadly Fantasies Cover Image
Dead Like Me Cover Image
Dead Like Me Cover Image

I’ve missed the characters in that series, and I’m ready to see what’s in store for them next. This book will be unlike the previous two because I always want to give my readers something fresh. At the end of the second book, Deadly Fantasies, Kate and her best friend Lucy were on the outs because of Kate’s meddling in Lucy’s romantic relationship with Charles Kent. Anyone who knows Kate well will understand that she can’t just walk away from the friendship. So the third book will be the adventure the two ladies go on to solve an old case while Kate tries to mend their friendship. The story will take them to Lucy’s hometown in Ohio to delve deeper into Lucy’s history of how her younger sister was murdered.

Tell us about the research that you do for your books.

Kelly: I love the research phase! It’s a chance to get out from behind my computer and visually picture my characters in a setting. It’s very inspiring to my writing process. My latest novel, Splintered, is set it in a small city adjacent to Tampa called Temple Terrace. I spent an afternoon at the police station which is located on the third floor of City Hall. I spoke to quite a few officers and detectives to really get a feel of how their force is run. Every police force has their own little nuances, and I wanted to get a feel for theirs.

I also spent an afternoon riding along with an officer in the marine unit on the Hillsborough River. I took pictures and video along the way all while questioning the officer who was kind enough to be my tour guide. A big part of Splintered takes place on the Hillsborough River, and it really helped me to see the location so that I could expertly craft the scenes. I love highlighting different locations in and around Tampa. Each book in the Springer Series is set in its own unique place. This makes it extra special for my local fans as many know the spots they’re reading about.

What do you think is the most important element in a mystery novel?

Kelly: You have to have an intriguing story as your foundation. An author must have an idea that makes the reader want to know more and will make them willing to stick around to the end. At the core of Splintered is a single idea I had years ago. What would happen if a girl who makes up a story about almost being kidnapped ends up actually being kidnapped in the same exact way she cried wolf. That was the foundation for my book and everything sprang from that one seed.

Having published two books, does the process of writing/editing/publishing the next get any easier?

Kelly: No. If anything, it gets harder. When you’re a newbie—you don’t know what you don’t know. Ignorance is definitely bliss. Then the more you write, the more you learn, and the more you realize you don’t know as much as you thought you did. And I want to make sure all my novels are different. I hate how some authors who’ve been writing for years become so formulaic. Each of their books contains the same plot with just new character names. I think it’s happening more and more these days because of the pressure publishers put on authors to get as many books out as they can in a year. I want to make sure my readers get something new with each story. Yet, the downside is that takes time, so I only publish about once every year and a half.

You have written your books while being a full-time mother. Has there ever been a time when you felt you were neglecting family or your craft?

Kelly: Both. All the time. When my focus becomes too set on one thing, all other areas in my life suffer. It’s a constant juggling act. I find when I do drop one of the balls, that is when it’s time to reevaluate.

Have you ever read your books to your kids? How do they feel about their mother being an author?

Kelly: Since my books deal with adult themes, none of my children have read them, and I won’t let them until they’re sixteen. My middle son is my biggest supporter and salesman. He tells complete strangers that his mom is an author. I’ve gone to speak to his class through the Great American Teach-In program for the past three years. He loves it. I talk about the writing process and how when the kids write a paper for class it’s really no different than what I do for a book. Mine’s just done on a bigger scale. I always ask the kids to guess how many times they think I revised my book. The answers are usually no more than ten times. I love to see their eyes grow wide when I start pulling out reams of paper from a big storage bin that holds all my edits from my first book. The papers stand about 3’ high. Then I explain that’s just how many times I made changes on paper, there were numerous more times I made edits reading from the computer screen. This example helps keep things in perspective for the kids when their teacher asks for only one revision on an assignment.

The one thing that I loved about your writing is the vibrant dialogue. Any tips for our readers on how to write catchy dialogue?

Kelly: Read. Read. Read. Then it simply takes practice to find your own voice and to put everything you’ve learned into action. For the last twenty-five years, I’ve read as much as I can, soaking up the best parts from authors who are masters in their field. The author who I think writes the best dialogue and who I’ve learned the most from is Dean Koontz. Read any of the books he’s written during the middle of his career and you’ll see how his dialogue shines. The quick wit and brilliant patter back and forth between characters just has me in awe.

Last words for our readers.

Kelly: If you’re an author, write the book you’ve always wanted to read. If you have a passion for your subject, your love of words will shine through and will be contagious to your readers.

If you’re a reader, support authors that you like with a review. In this hectic world we live in, it’s hard enough to break through the noise to get a reader’s attention much less persuade them to take a chance on your book. So do them a favor, write a review. Also mention the name of the book and author on your social networking sites. One favorable word can go a long way!

P.S: To get the latest updates from Kelly, do not forget to sign up for her newsletter on her website. You can also find her on your favourite social network: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.

Ready for some gripping mystery now? Buy Dead Like Me here and Deadly Fantasies here.

In conversation with Jahnavi Chintakunta – Author of Ctrl+Alt+Del

Jahnavi Chintakunta is author of non-fiction self-help book, Ctrl+Alt+Del (Transform your problems into accomplishments). In this interview she tells us how being a Toastmaster led her to write the book and discusses what sets her book apart from other books in the genre.
Don’t forget to grab your copy of Ctrl+Alt+Del on Kindle! It will be available for free on Amazon from July 29th through July 31st. You may also follow Jahnavi on her blog, Recharge your day and her Facebook page.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m Jahnavi.  I am an electrical engineer turned software engineer turned author. My electrical engineering career was born out of necessity, and the following transformation to software engineer happened owing to the IT boom. Circumstances and luck played a role in both these cases. However, the transition to author was born of out of a choice to reinvent myself.
Tell us about your book.
My book Ctrl+Alt+Del (Transform your problems into accomplishments), as the name says, is about converting hurdles in your life into stepping stones to success, and thereby thriving in your life. It’s a step-by-step approach for a wholesome and abundant life filled with success and happiness.
Tell us about the context in which this book was written.
I am a Toastmaster (Toastmasters is a Non-profit organization which helps in developing public speaking and leadership skills). Every year in toastmasters, there is an International speech contest where the speaker has to speak for 5 to 7 minutes about any topic.  When I participated in the club level for the first time in February 2013, my speech title was ‘Ctrl+Alt+Del’, and I spoke about how I had once been able to overcome a personal trauma by diverting my thoughts to more productive avenues, and thereby getting through what would have otherwise been a worrisome period .I was the first runner-up of the contest.
I felt that I had more ideas to share about this concept and that it also needed a bigger audience. So I started penning my thoughts, resulting in this book.
How did you come up with the title of your book?
As mentioned above, I was preparing for my speech in the contest. There is a rule of three in speaking  i.e if you say something in three words or three parts, it is more effective than other number of things. This principle also applies to writing.  I had divided my speech content into 3 parts. I needed a title which connected these 3 parts. Then, suddenly I got that idea. I don’t know exactly how. May be I got that title because I was a software professional and I clicked ‘ctrl+alt+del’ several times a day.  May be!
How does it feel like to have put your thoughts in the form of a book?
After I finished my book, I was overwhelmed with joy. I had done something that I never imagined I could do.  Also, writing that book was like writing self affirmations. I was penning my thoughts as if I was talking to my troubled soul. It helped me sail through my tough times.
How is your book different from the other self-help books in the market?
Many self help books are huge and it takes a lot of time to read a single book. I deliberately kept my book small, because, I felt that the readers are busy with their own lives and they should be able to get to the crux of the matter fast. You don’t want an already worried person to worry about the size of the book. The language, the style and the content is easily understandable and a recap of the main points is provided at the end of each chapter. Further, my book consists of a lot of anecdotes which the younger generation can relate to.
Has writing this book changed you or your life in any manner?
First of all, writing the book gave me lot of self confidence and inner peace. All my efforts paid off when I got a good feedback from my friends, colleagues and managers at work.
As a self-published author, how did you market your book?
As a matter of fact, I couldn’t do serious marketing for my book till now. This is because, a couple of months after I published the book, I moved from India to the United States. It was a huge change for me and in the last one year, I had so many personal situations due to which I didn’t have enough time to get back to my book. I hope I would be able to allot sometime in the coming few months.
Now that your first book is out there, what are your future plans as far as writing is concerned?
I have ideas for 2 more nonfiction books: One is about ‘shortcut to success’ and the other about my experiences in America. I have to work on those ideas.
Will you self-publish your next book or try traditional publishing?
As you know, self publishing is much easier than traditional publishing. It is much easier to share the book with everyone, if it is an ebook. I would prefer self publishing for my next book as well.
Last words for our readers.
I would like to enunciate the core lesson of my book:
Never, ever let your life’s problems defeat you. However tough your situations may be, as you begin looking at the positive aspects of your life, you will not only begin to appreciate your life, but you will also find a way to emerge as a winner. Do Ctrl+Alt+Del!

In conversation with author Joanna Barnard

Joanna Barnard is the winner of 2014 Bath Novel Award for her first novel, Precocious. It is coming out on 2nd July and is now available for pre-order on Amazon. 

Precocious is about Fiona, a woman who meets and starts an affair with her former English teacher. Interspersed with the present-day relationship are flashbacks to her time at school and the crush that developed into a relationship back then. Events unfold that force her to re-visit her version of the past.

Joanna is also a fellow WordPress blogger. Her blog-post about the initial struggle to find a publisher for Precocious (which was then called Being Different) to finally winning the Bath Novel is a brilliant documentation that every newbie author must read. You can also read about her journey as an author in this beautiful interview.

In conversation with author Joanna Barnard

Interview by Arpita Pramanick

In one of your blog posts you mention that you wrote your first story aged six, and published one in an anthology when you were nine. So, should we say you have always wanted to an author?

Definitely! I had other ambitions from time to time (I even wanted to be a nun, briefly, probably because I thought it would be like The Sound of Music!), but I always came back to writing.

How has life changed since the Bath Novel Award?

The award was a huge turning point for me because that’s how I met Juliet, who’s now my agent. From there followed the publishing deal with Ebury and the opportunity to write full-time. So life has changed dramatically and it’s really exciting.

Was giving up your day job post-Precocious an easy choice?

Yes and no. It’s nerve-wracking leaving behind a secure job, but I wanted to devote my time to  writing the second book. I knew it might only be short-term but I think if you get the chance to live your dream, you should go for it!

Precocious is written in second person. Was it easy writing in this POV? Is there any special reason for choosing this point of view for this book?

Well, it’s first person technically because it’s narrated by Fiona, but it’s addressed to Henry [the teacher] so yes, it reads like second person. There are some challenges with keeping up the ‘you’ voice for a whole novel, but it felt right for the story. It works in terms of the plot but more importantly, it’s true to Fiona’s character: she’s obsessed with Henry and thinks of everything only in relation to him.

You are currently working on your second book as part of your two-book deal with Ebury. What is it going to be about? Have you decided on any names yet?

I’m undecided on the title and I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s a family story told from multiple viewpoints – it starts with a child getting hurt and everyone has a slightly different version of events. The family starts to implode as all their secrets and lies come to light.

Does the extensive editing process for your first book make the writing process of the second book easier?

Sort of. I suppose the experience of the first one means I know what to expect, and what ‘good’ should look like, but this can be restricting in a way, too. The temptation is to ‘edit as you go’ and try to make each sentence as perfect as it can be, first time around, but this prohibits you getting the story down. So at the moment I’m trying just to write, finish the first draft, and worry about edits later!

For your first book there was no deadline, but there was no promise of getting published either. For your second book, there is a deadline, and you know you’re going to be published and read widely. Does the deadline add to any pressure?

Well, first of all, it’s a really nice position to be in so I would never complain! And as pressures go, there are far worse. But yes, it’s a very different experience having a deadline. There’s that sense that you’re writing ‘for’ someone, whereas with Precocious I never knew whether it would ever be read by a wider audience. Also, I’m really proud of Precocious, and I want to improve as a writer, so I challenge and put pressure on myself all the time to make this book even better.

In this fast changing world of publishing where more and more authors are going the ebook and self-published way, do you think a newbie author should still give traditional publishing a try? If yes, then why?

I think there are pros and cons to both and authors should think about what they’re trying to achieve. From my perspective, a major advantage of the traditional route is scale: you will get wide distribution in a way that is very difficult to achieve going it alone. But also, if you’re lucky (as I have been) you will get a team of people around you who are incredibly supportive and whose guidance will help improve your work. Writing can be a lonely business as it is

I have been following your blog and see that you often share short stories on the blog. Have you ever thought of publishing an anthology of your shorter works?

Not yet, but you never know! I actually find short stories really hard to write, but I like to use them as ‘exercise’ when I need to get away from the novel for a bit.

If Joanna Barnard is not writing, what is she doing with her time?

Spending time with my son, who’s five. He’s a total joy at the moment. I’m also studying – I’m training as a psychotherapeutic counsellor, so that takes up quite a bit of time, both theory and practical. I read A LOT. I also love walking and, occasionally, running – I think it’s important to get fresh air and exercise when you spend most of your day sitting at a laptop or notebook!

Lastly, where do you see yourself in the next five years of your writing career?

I know I’ll still be writing novels and I hope that people will still want to read them! That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do and all I wish for.

In conversation with Doug Lance, Editor-in-chief,

On 18th April, 2015 I received the happiest news in my writing career. One of my short stories, I am Mala, was accepted for publication in eFiction magazine. On May 1, it was published and is available now on Amazon and eFiction website.

Today, I have with me Mr. Doug Lance, Editor-in-chief, (the umbrella enterprise of eFiction), who, thankfully agreed at once when I asked him for an interview. Thank you so much, Doug, for doing this. Here’s what he has to say:

Tell us how the Fiction Magazines started and how the journey so far has been.

I started FMDC in college in 2010. It started as a simple, free blog site. I continued to work on it and develop it further. It grew quickly and became my full time job by 2012.

What kind of stories is eFiction looking for?

eFiction is looking for great literary fiction that is topical and relevant to the most popular events and ideas online.

How is a story, for example I am Mala (selected in Vol. 06, No. 02), chosen for publication in eFiction?

Stories are voted on by our volunteer curators, then selected by the assistant editor.

What is the hardest part of being an editor?

My job as Editor-in-chief of FMDC is not a typical EiC job. This company is building magazines that have never been possible ever before. The company is structured like no other in the planet. I’m constantly innovating and building systems that have never existed before. That is difficult but I would not have it any other way.

As an editor, what are your pet peeves?

The only pet peeve I have is people who do not follow guidelines. I don’t like people who just shotgun blast their stories to every market. I prefer folks who take the time to read my magazines and write for us specifically.

On writing and self-publishing: An interview with Tammy L. Gray

The world of publishing has been revolutionized by the digital domain. No longer does an author need to go door to door of the traditional publishers begging them to read her work. Online bookstores like Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and Apple have brought to the fore fresh talents through self-publishing.

Today, I give you Ms. Tammy L. Gray, Kindle best-selling author for her Winsor series and Mercy’s flight. She self-published her first novel of the Winsor series, Shattered Rose, two years back on Kindle. Her genres encompass Romance and Young Adult. In her books she says that her mission as a writer is “to provide clean, culturally relevant romances that incorporate messages of hope and healing.”


Shattered Rose is available for free on Amazon Kindle, and it was through that I came to know Tammy. With the very first few pages she had hooked my attention, so much so that I finished to novel in a single day. I intend to go back to it from time to time, for such is my love for Avery, Parker, Jake (that’s the one I loved best, in spite of all his flaws) and Issy. Y

You can imagine my delight then, when after hardly much convincing, Tammy agreed to be interviewed for this blog, which is also the first interview on Scribbles@Arpita. Thank you so much, Tammy.

So, read on as Tammy talks about the writing process in general and gives out these great tips on how to be successful in the world of self-publishing.

When did you first decide to write a book and publish it?

For the last ten years, I felt a call to write a book about self-esteem and how Christ is at the center of our worth as women. I didn’t know what it would look like, but I just knew I would write it one day. In November 2012, after a very hard weekend, I felt absolute surety that it was time to write my book. Only, instead of a non-fiction memoir, I decided to write a fictional story about a young girl who suffered from a terrible sense of self worth.  I published that book in April 2013, and the response was so positive that I kept on writing.

You first self-published your books 2 years back.Tell us about the journey so far.

After I finished writing Shattered Rose, I did go through the process of trying to find a literary agent so I could get a publishing deal. What I found what that the window is very small when it comes to traditional publishing. They are looking for very specific types of books. My book really didn’t fit within any of the boundaries. So, I decided to self publish at that point. It’s been a fantastic experience for me. Amazon makes self-publishing easy and I’ve been very successful in sales through the eBook market. Now, I am considered a hybrid author. I have books that I self publish and also books that were published through a publishing house.

What have you learnt in the process of self-publishing? Any tips for new self-published authors?

Look for high quality, freelance cover artists and editors. This is the biggest thing. You want to produce a high quality book with a great cover. That will get readers to pick your book out of millions on Amazon. Once you do that, use the price marketing tools to bring in new readers. I highly recommend you have 2-3 books ready to go before you self publish. Amazon likes quantity, so the more books you have uploaded, the better they are seen. After the first six months, put your first book out for free. You will have thousands of downloads.

Do you edit your books yourself?

No. I have beta readers and also editors that I hire out.

What are the required skills to be an author?

We all have different talents or skills, so I can’t say there is any one type. But I will recommend that you get some training or education on writing craft. Margie Lawson academy is very good. Also, there are great plotting and characterization books on the market. Your first book will not be your best one, but with each new novel, you learn and grow and get better and better.

Do you think the promotion that an author has to do today (especially on social media) takes a toll on her creative self?

No. It takes a toll on your time, but if you are careful to organize your time, then you should be able to write and market effectively. Marketing has always been a must. It just looks different in this technology era.

Most of the published fiction books these days are novels. Is the short story dead?

I really don’t know. I don’t read short stories or write them, but I’m sure with research, you can find a way to do it effectively. There is a website, WATTPAD that is good for uploading stories. It’s free, though.

Does the process of writing get easier with time, as one writes more or does it depend on the topic/genre the author it writing on?

Yes and no. Yes, the process gets easier. As a writer, you find your voice and feel comfortable in your skill. You know what works for you and what doesn’t. You have a trusted circle that can help you stay focused.  No, because the more you learn, the more you realize you need to learn. So as you get better, you continue to see flaws and challenge yourself. If writing ever stops being a challenge, an author should probably take a step back and see if they are growing.

Tammy can be reached at her Facebook page. Also, do check out her website for all the latest news. Picture Coutesy: Facebook