Marriage Unarranged, My Writing Journey, Uncategorized

Encouragement Is A Writer’s Best Friend (+ a Birthday #BookSale)

Some writers are lucky, you know.

They get an idea, and the words just seem to flow.

And when one is complete, the next idea arrives, waiting to be transferred from mind to screen/paper.

But not all of us are that blessed.

Well, I say that, but I have the ideas. They aren’t always fully formed, but they are there, ready to come to life on my MacBook.

For me, time is the hugest constraint. Life as a teacher, as well as a wife and mother, coupled in with Covid-19, the lockdown, and to top it off, a HUGE amount of home improvements, means that sometimes I wonder whether it’s worth it…

Then you get messages like this.

And you find that there are readers out there who have actually taken time and effort to write or post about your book. This post by Jazz of @her_reading_nook on Instagram blew me away, and there was another post filled with more images, too!

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It’s all in the details [of Marriage Unarranged] 📖♥️🌺 __ Trendy ethnic jewelry from: @saggiparanda 💎🤩 __ 📖Review continued from previous post: *𝚀𝚄𝙾𝚃𝙴 + 𝚂𝚈𝙽𝙾𝙿𝚂𝙸𝚂* Aashi, the protagonist catches her fiance cheating on her so the big fat Punjabi wedding is cancelled but the India trip originally for wedding shopping becomes an adventure with her best friend, Kiran + brothers, Sunny & Bali: “Sunny was painfully aware of how hard it was for Aashi to forget the original reason for the trip. Dotted around the various shops were reminders of bridal accessories they should have been buying. The ℂℍ𝕌ℝ𝔸, 𝔹ℝ𝕀𝔻𝔸𝕃 𝔹𝔸ℕ𝔾𝕃𝔼𝕊 their mamaji (uncle) would have been slipping on her wrists. 𝕂𝔸𝕃𝕀ℝ𝔼𝕐, 𝔻𝔸ℕ𝔾𝕃𝕀ℕ𝔾 𝕆ℝℕ𝔸𝕄𝔼ℕ𝕋𝕊 he & Bali would have added to her wrists, which as they dropped off, she would give to her single cousins & friends, with the blessing that they would get married soon too” -Marriage Unarranged📖 Swipe: #IndianFashionHistory #PunjabiFashionHistory On the flight to New Delhi, Aashi falls asleep on a stranger, Arjun! Is Arjun about to be her rebound or soulmate? So bollywood. So brown girl! 🙋🏽‍♀️ 𝚃𝙷𝙾𝚄𝙶𝙷𝚃𝚂: Love the brother+ sister relationship portrayed between Aashi & Sunny (eldest bro) + Bali (younger one). Just in time for #happyRakhi / #Rakhri which means “to protect”, a traditional Indian holiday celebrating brother +sister bond where the sister ties a thread on the brother’s wrist signifying the brother’s promise of being there for his sister through thick & thin 🌺 as a token of love, the brother gives money/ gift in return for the thread💓 Grab a copy of this light read, travel to New Delhi, India & add this beautiful book cover to your reading nook for future #sHelfies 🤳🏻💃🏿 Rom com/ Chick lit isn’t my go to genre but this is like reading a bollywood movie & we all could use a little bollywood/ fairy tale during this time🙃 feel me! • • • #MarriageUnarranged #RituBhathal #AuthorAdmiration #☕️andBooks #I❤️TheSmellofFreshPages #BookBehavior #RomCom #ChickLit #IndianAuthor #PunjabiAuthor #Bookstagram #DiverseBooks #DiverseReaders #Bookish #TheBookLook #BookBlogger #bookstagramIndia #PunjabiWedding #IndianFashion #punjabijewellery #indianjewelry #SonjaAndOve

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And it makes your effort feel worthwhile.

Then, you get little comments from authors your love and respect like this…

Thank you, Zoe!

It spurs you on to try and write more.

This summer holiday has whizzed by, and I grabbed the bull by the horns. I had time, a little, at least, to devote to my writing.

My aim was 40,000 in four weeks.

I didn’t quite hit that, but I was close, and, considering I’ve spent the last week and a half manically demolishing furniture, having a ma-hoo-sive clear out and stocking the local charity shops with copious amounts of donations, and visiting B & Q many times to buy boxes, choose tiles, and bathroom suites etc, I’m not going to beat myself up over not quite hitting my self-imposed target!

I managed 37, 869 words!

I’ve also had my cover comissioned and more or less designed, ready to go, to spur me on. No, I can’t share that yet. Let me get the book written first!

And, what with my birthday, next week, I decided to have a little sale on Marriage Unarranged, so if you haven’t already, grab a Kindle copy for 99p/99c on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk! From Friday 28th August, to Thursday 3rd September. Go on, make a writer’s day, buy a copy!

https://getbook.at/MarriageUnarranged

Oh, and while you’re here, did you sign up for my mailing list?

I am in the middle of writing an exclusive Chickpea Curry Lit story for my subscribers, and there will be news, tips and even recipes! Oh, and you’ll be the first to know about Book Two, and all the exclusive reveals, too!

You know you want to join… go on! Click the pic below to sign up!

Marriage Unarranged, Uncategorized

Author Interview with Ritu Bhathal, author of ‘Marriage Unarranged’

Pop over to Rebecca’s blog for a new interview with me!

Ritu Bhathal

Happy Tuesday, guys. I hope you are all keeping well and safe, and staying indoors?

Today on The Book Babe, I’m delighted to be sharing with you my very first author interview on the blog. It’s an absolute pleasure to be introducing you to Ritu Bathal, author of ‘Marriage Unarranged’ today, and I hope you’ll grab yourselves a nice cup of tea and settle down to enjoy our chat! So kick back, relax, and please do feel free to say hello in the comment section to let Ritu know you’ve popped by. We would both appreciate that very much! So, without further ado, let’s get this author interview underway.

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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…

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?

My Writing Journey, Uncategorized

Playing The Waiting Game

It’s a pretty bit thing, you know, submitting your book baby to agents and publishers.

It was huge enough when I sent my beloved manuscript off to beta readers. But the difference was, I knew I would get some feedback about my story.

When you send your proposal off to an agent or a publisher, you really are heading into the unknown.

I have heard those stories of fledgling authors submitting, and getting the rejection letters or emails, or worse, just not hearing back.

Most reputable agencies will state that they should get back to you within a specific time. But some just don’t. That is scary!

I have had a couple of experiences so far. One agency I contacted, replied with the kind rejection, that they enjoyed my material but wouldn’t be adding me to their list. No real feedback or suggestions, but encouragement to reach out to others.

My #PitMad Pitch

I took part in #PitMad off the cuff in March. (That’s my pitch, up there). If you are unaware, #PitMad is a Twitter pnenomenon in the #WritingCommunity there. Basically, if you have a polished manuscript, ready for possible publication, there are four opportunities in the year where you can write a 280 character pitch for your book, including the relevant hashtags to show genre, and tweet it. Agents use that day to peruse the PitMad hashtag and if they are interested, they like your tweet. No one else is meant to like the tweet. Others can support you by retweeting or commenting. I got one genuine like that time, and contacted the agent, who read my first three chapters and liked it, but felt a little more work was needed before representation could be offered. But she LIKED my ideas. That was encouraging.

Agent Response!

Over the last few months, I was increasingly convinced that I would go Indie and stop chasing that traditional publishing deal. The Beta reader feedback had been very positive. I had a prospective cover. My manuscript was almost ready. I even had a brand new MacBook Air, gifted to me by by Hubby Dearest for my birthday. Perfect for using all that lovely formatting software avaliable to MacOS users, like Vellum…

My Birthday Present

Then, one morning, something clicked in me and I decided to submit my newly polished manuscript again, just once, to a publishing company, Hera Books. They were recommended to me by a debut author, Kiley Dunbar, who has just released her second book with them. When I read her first book, I contacted her through Twitter, and we started chatting. She told me all about the fantastic support she had received from her publisher and how, though they were only digital publishers, there was a wealth of experience within the company. I held back submitting then as in my dream, I am holding a physical copy of my book, not an e-reader…

One day, a tweet pinged up from her, announcing her debut book was being released as a paperback too. Following the success of her ebook, the publisher chose her book as one of two they were pushing for paperback publishing. And then I saw her book on the shelf at a local The Works shop.

There it is!

A paperback! In a shop! That was it. Despite having hit an all time low in my mind, something buoyed me up and I woke up the next morning, read the submission details, collated all the information needed, then pressed send…

The acknowledgment from Hera Books

It’st been just over 2 weeks.

I have 4 more weeks to wait…

I messaged my friend Kiley, to let her know I submitted to her publisher, and she was mega excited for me. She said it would be awesome if I could join the band of ‘Hera Girls’ as she called them. And that made me feel all warm inside.

I’d love to be a ‘Hera Girl’.

But I have to wait…

It’s a good thing we have started back to school now, so I have plenty on my plate to keep my mind off obsessing about time and weeks passing, constantly checking my email for any news. But it is hard playing the waiting game.

Will they like it? Will they hate it?

I’ll just have to throw myself into writing book two… once I’ve got my body and mind back to term-time mentality!

And wait…

Wish me patience, all!

My Writing Journey, Uncategorized

When It All Gets A Bit Too Much

Writing.

It’s an overwhelming business, you know.

If you ask someone who doesn’t write, their image of a writer at work, would be someone surrounded by books, a computer or paper to hand, tapping on a keyboard, or scribbling ideas down furiously.

Or gazing out of the window at a picturesque writers retread, pencil at the ready for any ispiration that might hit.

Or that other chestnut, the writer taking up a table at the local coffee shop, empty cups strewn across said table, and laptop set up, ready for that literary greatness to fill the screen.

Yes.

That’s it.

That’s exactly how all those books out there came to fruition.

A few hours or days to write or type, and a perfect story is created, ready for publication.

NOT!

The writing journey, along with the subsequent editing process, is an arduous one. And though you may spend a lot of it on your bottom, you use up your mental energy more than you realise.

When I decided to really ramp up the writing of my first draft, I used the month of August in 2017 and created my own mini #RiNoWriMo, as November and #NaNo WriMo is beyond me, what with being a teacher in my other life.

So August, that sacred month for teachers, where you get time off, was sacrificed for my writing.

And write, I did!

But I didn’t know how much writing 2,500+ words a day would take out of me.

I started back to school in September an emotional wreck. Not the best way to start the academic year, I’ll have you know. Although pushing myself to write hit word count goals, it zapped me of any energy, and the ability to function emotionally for a few weeks. Writing had become too much.

And the draft still wasn’t finished. I wondered whether this writing malarkey was really for me?

So when I decided that this August, two years on, would be my month for editing, I had to keep my emotional wellbeing in mind too.

#RiNoEdMo has nearly come to a close, and I have worked my pudgy behind off (not literally, because if I had, that would be wonderful, but I digress…) to go through this manuscript with a fine tooth comb. It took me 10 days to finish the first of my ‘final’ edits.

Once it was off to beta readers, I sat back with a light heart, and one heck of a headache.

That mental tiredness had kicked in. It had officially become too much.

Bitmoji Image

So, I scheduled time for me, time with my children and family, time to read.

And, yes, I have revisited my draft, as and when feedback drips in, tweaking easy bits, but I have put it on the back burner so I can get back into my other life mindset. (I hate to call it real life, because writing is part of my real life too, it’s just my alter-life… By day wife, mother and teacher. By night writer and sleeper.)

One week until school beckons to me. One week to get some of that r’n’r. One week to maybe add a few more tweaks Stop it woman, you are meant to be resting!

I have compiled a list of things I do to help me get that ‘me’ time as well as being as productive as possible, within a short timespan.

  • Take regular breaks and hydrate.
  • Give yourself a time limit for how long you will spend on your manuscript every day.
  • Treat yourself when you reach a goal. A bubble bath, a manicure, a drink…
  • If your head hurts, listen to it, and step away for a while.
  • Always have a good book handy to read as a reward.
  • Plan a day out.
  • Change the scenery around you – write in the garden one day, on your bed on another, take your laptop for a trip to a different place. It’s as refreshing as a break.

All little things, but they do help to keep your wellbeing from sinking, as you swim through the ocean of Getting That Book Out There.

Do you have any other advice for keeping sane while writing and editing?