Blog

Sign Up To My New Mailing List!

It’s been on my mind for a good while, now…

People keep telling me, I need a mailing list.

The thought scares me. So much jargon and technical words that flummoxed me.

Clientmoji

But…

I did it!

I set up a landing page where you can subscribe to my newsletters!

Just click the link below to get added!

https://www.subscribepage.com/ritubhathal

I can assure you, that unless I make a silly mistake with learning how to send emails, I will not spam your inbox.

What will you get from me?

  • News about my writing journey
  • Sneak previews of covers and new release dates, ahead of the rest of the world
  • Freebies and offers (I am writing a Chickpea Curry Lit style story as a special treat for my subscribers.)
  • Tips and tricks that have helped me
  • Recommendations of books to read
  • And tidbits about the life of Ritu!

(Dont ask how I’m going to send those yet, I am just excited I got on the mailing list train!)

Thank you, in advance!

My Writing Journey

My Literary SatNav #Writing

Today, in a(nother) Facebook group I am a member of, a question was asked.

Are you a planner or a pantser?

Now, I have always laughingly referred to myself as a Plantser – a mixture of the two.

I was asked what I plan, and where I pants, and I came up with this analogy of my Literary SatNav.

Let me explain.

I have a basic idea of where I want the story to go, who will be present at the start and how I want it to end.

Then the characters are given the destination (aka the end)… with key places I want them to visit on their way.

They are like my Literary Satnavs. They take me to my conclusion in their own way.

It’s like a roadtrip with imaginary friends.

Sometimes I have to stop the writer car, let the engine idle, while I reprogram the route, because we’ve gone wildly off the map, but most of the time, it works.

We even pick up hitchhikers along the way, in the form of new characters who I didn’t even know existed! (Note to younger readers – I am not advocating picking up hitch hikers in reality, but extra characters, that’s a different matter.)

There are the key points we’ll stop at, as I specified when I originally gave the characters the basic travel plan, to savour the scenery, but more often than not, we carry on down the road to our HEA – our Happily Ever After.

It worked for me with Marriage Unarranged.

Here’s hoping they are as good at guiding me and my story this time too!

What? You haven’t read it, yet? Well, what are you waiting for?

Head on over to Amazon to download or order your copy using this link – http://getbook.at/MarriageUnarranged

Check out the Goodreads reviews here!

Blog, My Writing Journey

Writing My Way Through A Pandemic

Well, hello there, my dear readers.

Firstly, can I apologise, profusely?

I have been very naughty, not posting on here properly for the last six weeks or so, thanks to this ‘thing’ that is happening around the world.

What thing?

Oh, come on, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

That coronavirus, or more specifically, COVID-19.

It sure is a surreal world we are living in right now.

Who would have thought that something regarded as a flu of sorts, would bring pretty much all of the world to a standstill? (I know it isn’t like the flu at all, but that is what most people thought at first.)

As reality slowly hits, people you know become affected, infected, and either recover, or the other option. I, personally know of at least two people who have passed away, including a member of our family.

It’s serious, you know, this pandemic.

And amidst all this pandemic we have been given a gift.

The gift of time.

Well, it didn’t feel like a gift, initially.

One minute, we were dealing with a few absences at school. Told to watch out for anyone in the family with a cough or temperature. Then BAM! Schools closed, restaurants, pubs, bars, theatres, cinemas closed. Other businesses closed offices and encouraged employees to work from home.

It was like being thrown into a parallel universe. One where I was still going to my day job, as a teacher, but to empty classrooms, and just a handful of children, key worker’s kids, so I could help with childcare.

Obviously, with so few kids, not all staff were needed, so we were given a rota to work from. That meant more time at home, to make sure my own family were settling into this new normal. Online learning for them. Working from home for my hubby, who has taken over the dining room with his computers.

‘Great!’ I thought, initially. Lots of time to write!

Because, between you and me, I’ve been getting some nudges to get book two written and out. Folks who have read Aashi’s story in Marriage Unarranged, have really bonded with the cast of characters, and want more.

If you haven’t already, check it out by clicking below!

Now, it’s a good thing that I had some ideas before I published this one, but I didn’t have much time to get words on a screen, or paper, for that matter.

So now, all this time, handed to me on a plate.

Perfect!… Right?

Er, no. Well, not for me, and especially not at the beginning.

I felt a block. Mental, emotional, physical, writer’s BLOCK.

Nothing worked.

My mind went round and round, but wouldn’t focus on my little world with Aashi and her family.

I couldn’t even read like I usually do. Normally, I would read 2-3 books a week, but right now, I couldn’t even concentrate on someone else’s words.

TV and films were the same.

Instead, I kept on refreshing the news, to see what was happening. Social Media tried to plant all sorts of seeds in my mind. I tried to scrabble through the rubbish to find the nuggets of truth.

Then, one day, I just stopped.

I realised that I was driving myself slowly crazy.

My morbid curiosity was rubbing off on the children, and my hubby was getting tired of talking about things too.

So I stopped. Well, not the social media. I can’t totally leave that. But I became more selective with things I was reading. And I only checked the news once a day.

And slowly, the writing mojo crept back, peeking it’s head over my shoulder as I perused things on my computer.

“Come on, Ritu. It’s time, don’t you think? I’ve got a cracker of a story here for you. You know you want to write it, don’t you?”

My Writing Mojo

And it was right.

Using the time I wasn’t refereeing between the kids, making food, or cleaning the house, I uncovered moments to reread the words already written.

I found time to really tighten my character bible. I actually have a real Character Bible that I bought and filled with names, descriptions and traits when writing the first book. This was going to be important for me now. Many old characters would feature, but there would be new ones introduced too.

I researched, too. There are elements of this particular story that I haven’t had first hand experience of, and I wanted to make sure that everything sounded realistic. So, armed with my notebook, I trawled websites, and am in the process of finding people to talk to, so I can nail the main element of the storyline.

And finally, and most importantly, I began to produce words. My manuscript has grown by around eight thousand words, which is wonderful. I have been helped by taking part in online writing sprints.

Do you know what writing sprints are?

You set a timer and see how many words you can write in that given time. Sometimes, having a little deadline chasing you motivates you to get those words down. Being alone is fine, but having company is even better.

Obviously, we can’t be with others at the moment, but there is always the internet! One of my favourite, and extremely supportive writer groups on Facebook, Rebel Authors, have been running live writing sprints at various times of the day, where you can be accountable to someone, and get productive. In fact, to make it even more fun, Sacha Black, the organiser, has even arranged a weekly Poison and Prose sprint session once a week, where you can bring your choice of poison, be it alcoholic, or not, and enjoy some funny conversations in between sprinting.

Me with last week’s poison!

Other days, I have logged into Facebook, and author Lizzie Chantry has a writing group where she has a dedicated writing hour. Again, it is not essential, but having that online accountability makes you focus more.

If I am not writing part of the manuscript, I am formulating new blog posts or author interviews I have been invited to take part in. In fact I even wrote an article for Cysters.org, a charity for individuals with various hormonal issues. If you want to read, please do, by cliicking the link here.

Writing articles…

And now I need to set my routine for the next few weeks, keeping this new normal in mind. I will be going into school some days, either for half days or full days. I will be at home for others, where I can use the time the children are doing their online learning to write.

There doesn’t appear to be an end in sight, yet, for these strange times, so I can get this next manuscript ready, hopefully in much less time than the nearly twenty years the first one took!

See, every cloud has it’s silver lining, doesn’t it?

Have any of you found your creativity stifled in the current climate, or are you flourishing?

Marriage Unarranged, Marriage Unarranged Blog Tour, My Writing Journey

Blog Tour Ready!

Wait, what?

How did that happen?

It feels like only days ago, I was thinking this book would never get published, and now, it’s happening, and in a week, on Sunday the 9th February, 2020, my book baby will finally be delivered!

It’s been a wonderfully crazy lead up to this stage, and the Blog Tour starts tomorrow too, so I’ll be sure to share the posts on here in case you miss them.

This week has been emotional for a few reasons. Happy emotional, that is.

I have had some lovely words sent to me, from an advanced reader, that brought tears to my eyes.

That kind of encouragement really keeps a writer going.

Then I found out that I had my first review on Goodreads! And it was five star! More tears!

And my cover has been entered into this week’s Author Shout Cover Wars. If you fancy voting for my cover, please, click here – Author Shout Cover Wars – to support this little Indie Author! How awesome would it be to win that accolade on the day of publication?

I have been told I really need to get writing on that sequel, and I know I do, too. The ideas are brimming, but my exhaustion has kicked in again so I find myself drifting off, whenever I have spare time, rather than writing. So, I treated myself to a new MacBook Air skin and keyboard overlay. Something cute and pretty. And it has really made me want to get back to it again!

Whaddya think? Pretty, huh?

Right, before I fall asleep again, let me remind you of the Blog Tour schedule, and I’ll be back with regular updates on the posts!

Seven days and counting, EEEEK!

To pre order the Kindle version, click here. The Paperback will be available from the publication day too.

My Writing Journey, Uncategorized

Tweaks And Things – You Can Always Make It Better

So, I have my book baby in my hand.

It’s been read, reread, checked and checked again.

No room, or chance for error, right?

Wrong.

I received a (much appreciated) email from a reviewer, alerting me to a couple of missed punctuation marks and silly niggly spelling errors. She is aware of how much this book means to me, and knows how I want to put as perfect a version out there, as possible.

But how is this possible? As I said before, I read and reread countless times!

The problem is that I am too close to the story. No matter now much I read it, I gloss over bits, so end up missing thoes niggles.

I requested ideas from my main writing support group on Facebook (details below) and was given some great ideas:

  • read using a ruler so the next lines can’t distract you
  • read backwards, either from the bottom of a page up, or even from the end of the book to the beginning
  • read it out aloud in a monotone voice (impossible for me, as I am one of nature’s storytellers, and when I read aloud, I have to use expression, and accents – ask the kids in my class, and my colleagues), or
  • use a narrator facility available on most word processers like Word, and even Siri on your MacBook. Hearing your typed words spoken, can help to pick up certain discrepancies

These, along with the help of a proofreader friend of mine, allowed me to pinpoint some silly errors that grammar and spelling software would miss. Continuity errors were caught by said friend too.

Finally, I have a tweaked, polished proof, all uploaded again, and squeaky clean (well, almost. There might be a few naughty bits, but then, romance needs a teensy bit of sauce to, doesn’t it?)

And I have been busy writing content for some of the Blog Tour posts. All the bloggers I approached, have responded, and I officially have a tour planned! Next step – create the Blog Tour Banner!

I even arranged for my first book merchandise – a bookmark!

Another thing I did, was experiment with pens. Now, if you know anything about me, (and most writers), you’ll know that I am a stationery addict. I can never have enough pens or notebooks, and all the other stationery inbetween! I convinced myself that I need a special type of pen for signing my book. I am a bit specific. I love purple. My fountain pen has a bottle of purple ink that I use to fill it with. But, the ink bleeds on the paper in my book, so it’s not perfect for signing. And then, Amazon did this…

Okay, so Amazon didn’t actually do it, it was me. But think of me as the addict, and Amazon as the dealer. I have enough purple pens to experiment with, and to write with for a good long time now! Can’t say “I can’t find a pen!” now.

And then I did another thing. I mentioned a Facebook group a little earlier in the post. The group is run by our very own Sacha Black, and is called 13 Steps to Evil – Villain Masters. This group have been huge in helping me along with the last few months of my journey to getting published. From weekly accountability threads, a safe place to ask questions and get advice, writing prompts, and timely funny writer/villainous memes, to genuine friendships – I have found my writer people! Now, Sacha not only writes amazing fiction, superb writing guides and informative blog posts, but she has also started a podcast called The Rebel Author Podcast. I’ve listened to most of the episodes, and read the transripts of all. So good – I highly recommend. She’s already had some great guests, and it’s only ten episodes old! Well, now she’s branched out into her very own merchandise, and I just had to get my hands on some.

Here I am with my large mug, slouch T-shirt and spiral notebook. I know what I’ll be drinking out of, whenever I write now! Today’s Chai Latte tasted great! And if you want to check out her merchandise shop, click here.

Oh, and something absolutely amazing happened today. Someone I don’t even know posted my book and the preorder link on a Romance Facebook group. I am speechless!

Right, I must get back to that Blog Tour content, but I’ll be back soon, with a banner giving all the dates and details.

And, what are you waiting for? You know you want to put your order in!

It all started ended with that box…

Aashi’s life was all set.

Or so she thought.

Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.

But then Aashi found the empty condom box…

Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.

Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.

And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something…

Marriage Unarranged, My Writing Journey

New Year, New Book. What Next?

Well, I can’t quite believe it. Here we are, finally in 2020. A new decade too.

And this is the year I will officially become a published author!

Pub Day is not far off, around 6 weeks, and the nerves are jangling like crazy.

In my last post, I announced the offical publication date, of 9th February 2020, and it felt like an age away. But time has a habit of running away with you, when you have something lined up, doesn’t it?

So, I have my book, officially on preorder, kindle version, and the paperback to be available from the publication date. Right here – getbook.at/MarriageUnarranged

There was a slight kerfuffle with the cover. Somehow, even using all the information KDP give an author and cover designer, the first wraparound, or print cover, fell short by 0.088mm! And it all makes a difference, so after tweaking, and resubmitting, we finally got the measurements right.

I was so excited. This meant I could order a proof copy, and finally see what my book baby would look and feel like in a reader’s hands.

Then I pressed Publish Now, instead of Save.

I woke in the morning to an email from Amazon KDP congratulating me on my new live paperback!

Eeeek!

No!

That wasn’t meant to happen!

Thankfully it had only been live for minutes, so I managed to ‘unpublish’ it and order my proof…

It came, yesterday, on the 31st of December. What a wonderful present 2019 gave me, on it’s way out.

Here she is! 🥰

I sat, stroking it, flicking through the pages. I mean, look at it. It’s a real book! And it’s mine. A lot of time was spent sharing the news on social media, because you have to keep that buzz going, and I have had such lovely comments from people all over the world. (I just hope they buy the book, too!)

Hugging my book baby

But that is not it. There are still a lot of little niggly things that need doing. My next job is to proof read the print copy. I have to make sure there are no errors that have missed my eye in all the other rereads – spelling mistakes or formatting errors. And I’ve been doing the same with the ebook version too.

Ready to proof read!

But, that’s not all.

There is also promotion to do, and I have been contacting and organising a blog tour to coincide with the release. I believe I have got responses from pretty much all the bloggers I approached…now to write content for the posts!

And I have arranged for a social media Book Blitz too, where the cover and blurb will be showcased across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for the week preceeding the release. I feel rather pleased with myself, but I’ll be happier when I actually get that content written!

And what of the rest of the year?

Well, there is no time to sit back and rest on my laurels! I still have a life to lead, and I am hoping that you readers might want more, so I have my goals for 2020, writing wise, set out.

2020 Writing Goals

And there you have it!

Wish me luck, my dear Peeps!

getbook.at/MarriageUnarranged

Described as Chickpea Curry Lit – Chick lit with an Indian twist, and not jsut for chicks, you Chap(patti)s too!

It all started ended with that box…

Aashi’s life was all set.

Or so she thought.

Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.

But then Aashi found the empty condom box…

Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.

Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.

And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something…

Marriage Unarranged, My Writing Journey

Of Blurbs, And Other Things

Did you think that writing a book was the hardest part of publishing?

Well, let me tell you, you’d be wrong there.

Yes, writing a story, in excess of 85,000 words, is a mammoth task to undertake, and can take forever (don’t I know it! 🙄) but once you have written all those words, words that can only come from you, as it’s your tale, there is still quite a lot to do.

Skipping the submissions process, if you decide to find an agent and/or publisher, you have to get to grips with things like cover design, formatting, marketing, blurb writing…

Yes, blurb writing.

The hardest thing EVER!

Honestly.

Condensing your whole story into a measly few words, making it engaging, finding a hook – NOT EASY!

And I have been battling with my blurb for the last few weeks, taking to the book shops and online bookstores to research blurbs.

It’s a vast world out there in Blurbia… You have books with two-sentence blurbs. Then there are ones that go one for 300 words, taking a whole back cover up. Some in-between. Some start with a question. Some end with a question.

So, I spent a long time writing various versions, talking to my editor, beta reader team, and a trusted Facebook group, to get feedback and suggestions for improvement.

Obviously, you end up with some conflicting opinions. Some aren’t familiar with your genre so can’t help as practically as others. But this is when you sometimes have to go with your gut.

A couple of years ago, when I finished the first draft, I came up with a simple blurb. After all the tweaks, and the addition of a couple of sentences, (having added plenty more, then taken them away) I finally have my finished blurb!

Want a read?

Aashi’s life was all set.

Or so she thought.

Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.

But then Aashi found the empty condom box…

Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.

Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.

And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something…

Marriage Unarranged – ritu bhathal

And, I am pleased to announce, that, as you can see in the above graphic, my book finally has a Publication Date!

9th February 2020

Stick it in your diary, Peeps, or even better, if you fancy, you can click the link below, and pre-order your ebook from Amazon RIGHT NOW!

getbook.at/MarriageUnarranged

If you are more of a hard copy reader, then no fear, that will be out on the official publication date too. They don’t allow for pre-orders on paperbacks, unfortunately.

So, there you have it, Peeps.

My journey to becoming a published author is headed in the right direction, and credit where credit is due. You have all been so supportive over the last few years, encouraging me to go for it. Well, I have! So, thank you all!

Bitmoji Image

Please, let me know what you think of the blurb, and if you decide to pre-order, thank you yet again!

Marriage Unarranged, My Writing Journey

When It’s Time To Commit #CoverReveal for Marriage Unarranged

Photo Credit Kimberley Farmer. Banner produced on Canva

It’s been a while, and for that, I apologise, my dear readers.

I haven’t been wallowing in a puddle of misery because I got another rejection.

Nothing like that. Unfortunately it has been my health that has held me back from progessing further.

You see, I made a decision to become an Indie Author, and self publish my baby!

And, in order to self publish, there are a few things that need to be done.

  • Finish editing my book – so close, I am just in the throes of discovering my crutch words… cringe-worthy!
  • Sending it to my editor for that final look over
  • Formatting the text for paperback as well as e-book
  • Writing the blurb
  • Writing acknowledgements, etc. for inside the book
  • Setting a publication date
  • Designing a cover

Wait. What?

I actually have an item on the list that I can strike off?

Well, yes, actually, I do!

I have been hiding this for a while as I had my cover designed a few months back by the talented Rom Com author Kirsty McManus, who designs her own covers, and has done for many others too.

And so… drum roll…

May I finally present the cover of my soon to be published novel, Marriage Unarranged!

Oh my goodness, that was really nervewracking.

So, what do you think? I’d love to hear your opinions, my dear reader Peeps!

And I look forward to being able to give you a publication date before long too!

Thank you guys, for all your support. Seriously, you don’t know how much it means to me!

My Writing Journey

No Doesn’t Always Mean No

Credit to Photo by Jessica Lewis. Produced by Canva.

Yup, you guessed it. I heard back from the publishers.

And it wasn’t quite the positive response I had hoped for.

They loved the idea… but felt it wasn’t quite the story concept for them.

not crying

No, I’m not crying.

Why?

Because there’s that age old adage: Every cloud has a silver lining.

Meaning you can find a positive in anything, even the negative, and that is the way I live my life. I’ve taken plenty of knocks in my life, personally and professionally, and I have always found something to feel good about in each situation. The writing game is no different.

Previous to this submission, I submitted to agents, and the ones who read what I had sent were all extremely positive, but not able to offer representation for various reasons. One was really keen but wanted more polish on my then manuscript before considering representation. This was one response I had.

“The world needs your story.”

Agent Feedback

So, it can’t be all bad, can it? But what can I do, going forward?

I know my story isn’t unworthy. The feedback from my beta readers has already told me that. I have a few more tweaks to do, as suggested by a couple of them, which I didn’t implement after submitting to the publisher, as I thought I would let the story rest, whilst they were pondering.

The next decision to make is what I want to do next, publishing wise. Do I want to try submitting to another set of agents/publishers? Or is it time to take that bold Indie step?

I have a list of publishers and agents I could submit to.

But I am much further along the Indie process than I thought, really. I have a prospective cover already. I have the means to format my book. I already have a host of bloggers willing to help promote when the time is right.

One thing I haven’d done is set up a newsletter and built a mailing list, because at this stage, I don’t know what I could send out regularly, to subscribers that would even interest them!

I just need the gumption to do it.

What do you think?

Should I take the plunge and go it alone (with all of you for support, obviously!) or do I try and submit again, chasing the traditionally published dream?

Bitmoji Image

Help a writer out, Peeps!

My Writing Journey, Uncategorized

When You’re Still Waiting… What To Do

Waiting.

It’s painful.

Seriously.

I feel like I’m in limbo.

It’s been six weeks (or just over, actually) since I submitted my manuscript to a publication house. They said they aim to reply to all queries within around six weeks.

And in that six weeks, I have started back at school, and felt the most deadening exhaustion ever. I haven’t been able to get creative at all.

But, if I had the right energy levels, what could I be doing? What could any writer be doing?

  • Start thinking of another project to take your mind off the current situation
  • Take a little mental break
  • Read – both fiction and non fiction
  • Take part in little challenges (or big – I signed up to NaNoWriMo this year, but whether I could actually write 50,000 words in November, is anyone’s guess!)
  • Build up your social media audience
  • Consider starting an email newsletter (Still thinking about this…)
  • Read some of your older work – you may see something new in it.

Aside from trying to get my energy back, I have read a lot (when I don’t fall asleep with the book in my hands) and invested in some new craft books to help improve my writing. And I have been looking for my plans for book two and three too.

But honestly, my creativity has taken a real hit with this tiredness. And not hearing back from the publisher yet, has me on edge.

What is keeping me going, keeping me for letting go of my dream, is the encouragement from others who have been with me on this journey. My beta readers, who know what my story is, and one in particular who was so excited to hear that I am planning a couple more stories involving the characters in my first book.

Surely that must mean something, that someone wants to know more about these figments of my imagination?

Hearing back from this publisher in a positive way will be a certain type of validation for me, but if that doesn’t work out, I’ll be heading on that Indie trail, with the confidence that at least 5 out of 5 of the people who read my manuscript enjoyed it and were excited by it.

That’s gotta mean something, right?