Tag Archives: novel

NaNoWriMo 2017!

Hola novelists!! It’s less than an hour for NaNoWriMo to start. I hope you all have your plots, character sketches and outlines ready. How long has it been for you prepping for the start of November? How long have you been waiting for this day to arrive?

Ask me!

Unlike the last couple of years, I did not even remember NaNoWriMo arriving until last week. Needless to say, I have zero outline/plot/character sketch.

What I have currently are rough ideas for three short stories. So, I am going to cheat a little and go ahead with the idea of creating a short story compilation this NaNoWriMo. I am looking at 15 stories right now as a target, each approximately 2,000 words – so that totals to 30K. Yes, I am not planning on winning NaNoWriMo! I am focusing only on Writing Month for now. Those of you who have been followers of my blog from its early days know that I started this journey with the aim of writing more and more fiction. The idea was to use this blog as an author platform.

However, close to three years since I started this blog, I find myself going more and more personal in my entries, which have made this blog more of a personal journal than an author’s blog. I cannot promise that it will change too much in the next few months, but I do want to get back to writing more fiction.

The idea has always been to publish one book per year. Early this year, I published How I tamed the dragon named fear, a non-fiction on overcoming fear. It’s not been as successful as my first book, Bound by Life, a compilation of short stories. I have also tried my hand at multiple novels – none of which ended in a complete draft.

Yet, for quite a few days, I have been finding a strong urge within myself to form stories, and short stories are my natural way of self-expression. For those of you who’re interested, here’s a small one I shared on the blog earlier.

I will be back with more updates throughout November on how the book is going. But before I end, I want to give you guys a sneak peek into what I want this book to be:

“A collection of urban short stories, with a tinge of day-to-day humor.”

Until later, write more, stay creative! ❤

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.

Starting my first novel…

I wrote as a kid. I wrote for my school magazine.

I wrote when I was at the brink of joint entrance examinations, for admission in college. That was back in 2011. At that time, the internet connection in my home was new and the package we bought was a peculiar one: from 9 p.m. at night to 9 a.m. in the morning. So, I pretty much fought with my younger brother for my time slice of  Google. www.writing.com was my online home at that time. I wrote poems, sometimes stories and entered contests. Reviewing was an important part of life at WDC (that’s  short for writing dot com) as well. I also took a few courses on creative writing there, learning bits of Freytag pyramid, plot, and grammar.

Then college happened. I went to live in a different city (Kolkata). Adjusting to my new life sapped a lot of energy. So, I wrote less, and lesser. I was too worried about whether I would finish college successfully, and do well.

There were a few moments in between though when I thought I would publish my first novel by the time college finished. But serious writing did not happen.

As I made transition to my final year of college, the worm in my head worked overtime, itching to have me write. I even started, I daresay, a novel: about a girl from a traditional high-society Bengali family, who is married to the guy she loved for four years. I had even traced out the plot-line. I had written the first two chapters. But then I realized, I did not really know the girl yet. I could not see my character in front of my eyes, in flesh. So, eventually the novel lost its way in the dreary desert sand of Life.

These days I have been searching a lot about creative writing videos, among other things. There is indeed an itch that would not go away. I searched about Pulitzer prize winning novels and downloaded the free ones I could get at Amazon Kindle. I read how the writing process was the easiest part, and finding the editor and the publisher was toughest. I read about the initial struggle of J.K. Rowling. The Bath Novel award was another thing that appeared in my webpages few days ago. I read about how the 2014 winner struggled with her novel Precocious before she won the Bath award. I found her journey really interesting. I nursed with this idea then: what if I use Bath Award 2016 as a motivation to pen out my first novel? The award did not matter, as of now, getting people to read my writing is fair enough of an inspiration.

Last night I made a discovery: Kindle self-publishing at https://kdp.amazon.com/

It was like a genie out of the lamp for me! So, I had finally found a publisher for my yet-unwritten novel: Myself! Hurray!

The idea is to finish the novel by the end of this year. This morning I wrote the first chapter, and I am happy with how it has turned out. I am not much of a planned writer. So, I write as I go. Let’s see what the journey takes me to!

Whew! I am so excited!