My Top Books of 2016

This year I finished 35 books. While I’ve done much better than last year’s 28, I hope I can steadily climb higher in 2017.

Since 2014 I’ve been trying to read a Classic every year. In 2016 I surprised myself with two of these: Middlemarch and Pride and Prejudice. I loved Middlemarch and chugged along quite happily through the tome, rooting for Dorothea the whole time. I would have loved to pick up another author after P&P, but some reference online lead me to pick up Persuasion, again by Jane Austen, as my next classic. I’m over 50% done with it so far and I’m enjoying the story.

Of the writing books this year, I read two books by James Scott Bell and what’s wonderful is that each book is based on a specific writing topic that can be finished in a single sitting. Both, The Mental Game of Writing and Dazzling Dialogue were quick reads and yet packed with immediately implementable ideas and suggestions. My first JSB book was Plot & Structure which I read at the end of 2015, and I adore his writing style. I have my eyes on his book Short Story next, which I plan to pick up soon.

Since I love the Romance Genre, I tried many new authors this year to check out the women’s fiction category. Pure romance is just fluff and I didn’t want to read any of those. Of the books I picked up, there were quite a few surprise finds. Julie James, Catherine Alliott and Gabrielle Zevin were the most notable among others.

Rounded off this year with my first Horror title, a children’s book called Cirque Du Freak, and my first pyscho thriller, The Girl on the train. Both were quite good, thankfully 🙂

Dear friends, would love to hear of your reading in 2016 and the books you loved (or hated?) 🙂

AtoZChallenge: Z is for Zing

Today is the most exciting day. As I reach the end of a beginning, with A-to-Z 2016 (which in fact I never thought I’d finish), I am so filled with Zing and gratitude. Thought I’d write a little poem to celebrate. 

My heart feels this thing called zing
as it approaches the end of a beginning
the merry slides, the rollicky rides
nothing to beat the crazy times

I’ve had you for company thus far
the merriest and the best i can imagine
and I do wish it lasts much farther
than all the A to Zs put together

Adios Amigos until next time
See you around the next bend!

 

Thank you, friends, for being a part of my journey, and for all your views, likes and comments on my posts. This big Zing thing would never have been possible without YOU. I thank you so much for traveling with me thus far. I do hope I continue to post and that you continue to visit and our relationship flourishes with time.

Love and Hugs,

Sudha

 

AtoZChallenge: Y is for Yes/No

Often times we are plagued by a Yes/No situation. Especially in my life as a writer, I’ve come across this several times.

There’s a couple of deadlines for short story submissions in the same month. There’s a competition here, a prize there. They’re so hard to refuse. They just come piling along and every opportunity seems good. Brilliant, in fact.

And then you’re in a dilemma. Do you do this or do that or do both. And then you worry about how you’ll do justice to all the projects you’ve said YES to when you know that you should’ve said NO. To yourself first.

Many a times, it’s a NO to yourself that counts. To be able to tell yourself that focusing on that one big thing is more important than going after mediocre goals.

And again, you’re back to the dilemma if you’re doing too little. Are you pushing yourself enough?

Life comes full circle. This is when I decide that the best thing to do is JUST DECIDE and then stick to that decision no matter what next shiny thing comes along.

There’s nothing much you can do with such sweet temptations except to LET THEM GO. Have fun with the YES’s and NO’s.

AtoZChallenge: X is for Xpress

Learning to express oneself.

Isn’t that the biggest, most difficult challenge as a writer? Expressing ourselves can be a difficult feat especially when we cannot articulate our feelings too well.

Our gut feeling says we don’t like a book we’re reading. But WHY? That is hard to express. It takes a lot of practice and thinking to properly articulate what we like or don’t like about a book and how we put that down in words.

Then again, it’s always necessary to lay out the pros and cons and let the reader decide for herself.

I’ve rated so many books on Goodreads but although I want to, I’m still discerning how to write a good review. A good review isn’t about giving a 4- or 5-star rating, but about honesty that’s well articulated, and covers all aspects of a book, from characterization to plot to story, and does justice to the work of an author and the curiosity of a reader.

I hope I can do a good review one day. Until then, I’m still thinking about how to express myself veritably 🙂

Over to you!

AtoZChallenge: W is for Winging it

Writers learn to Wing it.

When you have no confidence in your writing, you wing it.

When others ask you what you’re working on, you wing it.

When you can’t write anymore and you’ve emptied your creative well, you wing it.

When no words flow and no sparks fly, you wing it.

When you can’t understand a short story or poem, you wing it.

Basically, in any untoward situation that you can’t handle, you JUST WING IT!

AtoZChallenge: V is for Very

The word Very is banned from the writer’s vocabulary. The literary geniuses say you can almost find a better word to substitute almost any  ‘very word.’ So here’s a promise not to use VERY.

I’m very happy (pleased) to announce that all the very small (few) times I use the word, very, I shall abolish them and try to use very good (great) care to form sentences that use very interesting (engaging) ways to not use VERY.

Let’s hope you find some of these very useful (beneficial).

I’m very afraid (terrified) if the examples will be very good (excellent). But I’m very tired (exhausted) right now, and i feel very worried (anxious) if you’ll understand how very important(crucial) this exercise is for me 🙂

Go ahead, give it a try! Give me some very pretty (beautiful) examples of how the word VERY trips you 🙂 Enjoy!

AtoZChallenge: U is for Unexpected

Unexpected thoughts come to your mind sometimes. Just like the thought of writing came to me. One day I went to a reading, and I saw this writer-singer read from his debut novel, and suddenly when I returned home I just wanted to write. Just like that.

I recently read Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, and I was quite surprised to read that Murakami had such an unexpected calling to becoming a writer too. Until I’d read Murakami, which was recently, I wondered how I’d admit that my desire too came from nowhere. It wasn’t based on anything, except a keen desire to do something with my life.

As I listened to this writer read from his manuscript about a deaf and mute boy who wins an Olympics race, something stirred inside me, and I accepted the intense tug that I felt in my heart.

So, here I am, being the writer that I wanted to be 🙂 Here’s the excerpt from Murakami’s book that I’d like to share where he talks about becoming a novelist. Enjoy!

I can pinpoint the exact moment when I first thought I could write a novel. It was around one-thirty in the afternoon of April 1, 1978. I was at Jingu Stadium that day, alone in the outfield drinking beer and watching the game…Hilton got a hit down the left field line. The crack of bat meeting ball right on the sweet spot echoed through the stadium. Hilton easily rounded first and pulled up to second. And it was at that exact moment that a thought struck me: You know what? I could try writing a novel. I still can remember the side open sky, the feel of the new grass, the satisfying crack of the bat. Something flew down from the sky at that instant, and whatever it was, I accepted it.

I never had any ambitions to be a novelist. I just had this strong desire to write a novel. No concrete image of what I wanted to write about, just the conviction that if I wrote it now I could come up with something that I’d find convincing. When I thought about sitting down at my desk at home and setting out to write I realized I didn’t even own a decent fountain pen. So I went to the Kinokuniya store in Shinjuku and bought a sheaf of manuscript paper and a five-dollar Sailor fountain pen.A small capital investment on my part.

-Haruki Murakami

What beautiful words! It brought such gladness to my heart. If you have an unexpected story to share, I’d love to hear.

Love and hugs,

Sudha