Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Guest Post by Sunayna Prasad, The Life and Lessons of a Young Author


When Child Characters Need to Rely on Adults

A while back, I have watched a video about developing children’s novel characters. The person in the clip said that the characters have to make their own decisions at all times. She also said that adults should be kept out of the story as much as possible. I’d say, “Yes and no.” It really depends on your story’s setting and plot. If it’s olden times in history, when children were expected to have more independence and it was considered standard and safe during that time, then it make sense to keep adults out. Or if your story is set in another country that has different laws from the US about child safety and restrictions, then being 100% independent can work as well.

However, if your story is set in modern times, and in a country like the US, Canada, UK, etc., depending on your novel plot, it can be harder to keep adults out of the story. Of course, you shouldn’t have your child character ask his or her parents for homework help. But, depending on the kid’s age, they can’t do certain things too independently, otherwise, readers could expect CPS to show up at the character’s home.
Bringing me to the purpose of this post, I am now going to give examples of when a child character needs to rely on an adult.

1: Provide family income and shelter

This is an obvious one, even if it doesn’t play a role to your story. You cannot have a kid live by him or herself unless your story is set in a very poor place or a very old time, like an ancient civilization. But it’s just not possible.

2: Being Driven

Unless your character is old enough for a license, he or she is going to need to depend on an adult to drive him or her. That being said, they can still think about their own decisions while in the car or whatever vehicle he or she is in.

3: Having certain papers that require parent/guardian signatures

From legal documents to school permission slips, a child will need to have an adult sign these types of papers to make the story believable. Unless it’s necessary for your plot to have the kid forge the signature, he or she has to get an adult.

4: Being escorted in places forbidding un-accompanied minors

With so much security and surveillance today, it would be hard to have a child character go somewhere like what is mentioned above without adult supervision. Of course, this also depends on your setting. But if it’s modern times in a nation like the US, then it would only be believable if the kid is escorted by a grown-up.

Other than these exceptions, your child character should make his or her own decisions and be independent.

The Life and Lessons of a Young Author by Sunayna Prasad : A Review


BOOK TITLE: The Life and Lessons of a Young Author

AUTHOR: Sunayna Prasad

ISBN/ASIN: B07FFBMS3V

GENRE: YA Non-fiction

NUMBER OF PAGES: 19

FORMAT: Digital

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank iRead Book Tours for this review copy.

SUMMARY:

Whether you are young or old, The Life and Lessons of a Young Author can offer those who dream of finding the right path in the world of writing and publishing. Sunayna Prasad shares her experience as a young author and discusses what went well for her and what she suggests to those who long for success.

Talking about her life as a published writer, Sunayna Prasad teaches you the rules of the writing craft and the standards of the publishing world, as well as additional tips and tricks. The Life and Lessons of a Young Author can help you choose your own writing and publishing paths.

FIRST IMPRESSION:

The first impression when I got this book was thinking it was short, and wondering how many details it could contain. The title gave me little clue as to the nature of the book, but the summary answered some important questions. The impression I began with was positive.

REVIEW:

It is hard to come up with a book that details all the trials and tribulations of any particular journey. Once someone has reached a secure position in any field, it becomes hard to recount the struggles and bring them out in good detail. It is a gargantuan attempt to say the least. The author, Sunanya Prasad, has chosen to write this book that details the troubles of the initial stages of her journey while she is still traveling. And that was, in my opinion, a good attempt with fresh interesting perspectives.

The first person narrative of the book worked for me until the first few pages. When the author was detailing the initial stages, the struggles sounded very personal. Each and every author goes through similar kinds of struggles and will relate with every word in the initial chapters. The lessons learned from these were clearly portrayed and would turn out to be important advice for all authors irrespective of their age and experience. The organisation of the book was good, and the language was simple and lucid enough. The book covered all the interior details of what is basically a lonely journey, the writing process. This makes the book a must read for anyone who thinks they are struggling alone.

But there was a noticeable downside that cannot be ignored. The writing process is a solitary journey, but publishing is surely an effort that involves multiple people. Even though it is written by an author who has published many books in different means, the book does not detail the possible complications that might arise in the other legs of the journey. Concepts like editing and publishing rejection have been covered, but superficially, and from the author's single perspective. Since the book has been titled 'lessons' of a young author, it would have been better to include those other perspectives, especially a bit more information on how editing would affect a book, and what changes it might do to a raw and unpolished manuscript. This is where I felt the book lacked some crucial information, and sounded like a monologue from a single window. The book details very less, also, about post publishing marketing and sales, which are must haves for this title and what the book set out to do.

Overall, the book is a booster for anyone who writes. It tells you how you are not suffering alone, and either motivates you to finish your manuscript, or details what could go wrong with what you think is the perfect book ever written. Either way, it is a must read.

WHAT I LIKED:
  • Anyone who reads this book will realise that they are not alone in the struggle.
  • The book covers the most important conceptions about publishing that are otherwise shied away from. Special mention for that.
  • Content wise, the organisation is sequential and addresses many issues regarding publication.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
  • The author's take on obtaining / getting reviews needs some polishing.
  • As an editor myself, though I agreed with her views on self-editing, there is a lot more to proofreading than what has been mentioned in the book.
  • The book is singularly written from one main perspective. Other perspectives would be helpful too.
VERDICT:

Must read for authors who are unaware of potholes on the road to publishing. Brownie points for the honesty in writing.

RATING: 3.5/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sunayna Prasad has been writing since she was six. She continues to write fiction and non-fiction today and has even won a Pacific Book-Review award. She lives in New York, and when not writing, likes to create art and cook.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Paperback.

PRICE $1.99 for Kindle, $6.38 for Paperback.

BOOK LINKS: Amazon



Friday, July 27, 2018

Guest Post by R D Maddux, Author of Boy on The Beach


It’s amazing what 39 years can do to a culture

There’s a span of thirty-nine years between the present day, San Diego, setting of my novel, Boy On The Beach, to the flash-backs of another era. So much of what our current West Coast culture is today was put in motion by the generation that came into their adulthood during the late 60’s and 70’s. 39 years ago, the riotous days of the counter-culture were morphing into the disco era. But in communes along the coast of California and the hippie hangouts in the Redwoods of Mendocino, the last hold-outs of the “free love” scene were still lost in the passions of their hedonistic choices. In some ways these two eras are completely different. But in some ways, not much has changed. By setting these two seasons in contrast and bringing the protagonist past into direct conflict with his new identity I think I’ve been able to explore a deeper conflict that our present society must deal with as it faces the choices it made years ago. Many believe that we are set on a course as a society where we eventually will have to “pay” for the sins of our past. Boy On The Beach sets in contrasts two eras. One where we’ve sown to the wind and one where there’s a tornado heading our way. It also unblinkingly addresses a possible payback that may be coming but hints as well at a possible hope-filled future our characters could never have imagined. 

Never thought this idyllic setting would work for a mystery

I love this wonderful city where I’ve lived for 30 plus years. The beach, the great weather, the great people. But I’m fascinated how all this idyllic world can be the perfect setting for mystery and intrigue. By putting the nightmare of unresolved issues from my character’s past and his hope of success here in San Diego, I’ve been able to create a story of intrigue and fascination that will leave the reader wondering right up until the last page. 

Building suspense can be a suspenseful process

The writer is always challenged with the tasks of creating suspense if they’re writing a mystery. But as I put the details of this story together I was personally amazed as the story built on itself to its surprising end. But in the process, I was faced with some big challenges. How do you take your average real estate developer and put him in a place where his life is suddenly turned around and he’s left in a state of uncertainty about his future? No, it’s not just having the bottom fall out of the market. No, it’s something completely different. You bring his past crashing down on him just as his dream project starts to come to fruition. Then you throw in a romantic element, not merely because you want to make the story more marketable but because it really works and it’s true to life. So how do you build the suspense? You reveal that current nightmares are not just dreams but a reality that you tried to forget and now it’s rushing back into your world and you can’t control it.

It’s great when your friends really like your novel

I’ve been amazed at my friend’s response to my novel. A lot of times, as an author, you have those friends who encourage you to develop your gift. They praise your writing, but you wonder if it’s sincere. Well when I released my latest novel I asked them to read it and give me their honest opinion. Well, when they started putting their reviews on the Amazon page where my book is marketed I was really stunned. So many of them gave their honest and eloquent opinions. There they were, those 4 and 5 stars. Not there merely because I was their friend but because the story really gripped them, and they couldn’t put it down. I was wowed and thankful. Now I just hope those readers who don’t know me will be equally impressed.

A psychological thriller set within the sound of the surf

Often when we think of the beach we think of a place of tranquility and refreshing. But I’ve used this setting to create a mystery of intrigue that even the gentle lapping of waves against the shore cannot dispel. I’ve wondered what would happen if I put my “everyman”, comfortably ensconced in the idyllic world of San Diego beach life and brought some of the unfinished business from his past back into his life. What will he do when confronted with the ghost of his younger years and hopes of success in the dog eat dog world of competitive real estate development in this southern California city. What will he do when his dreams run into the reality of the nightmares of his past.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

R.D. Maddux has story telling in his blood. Since he was young he’s always loved a good tale. He’s been writing seriously since he was in high school and college. His novels range from Mystery and Intrigue to Sci-fi/fantasy. With Boy On The Beach he’s set the story in modern America, to be exact, on the West Coast of California. He’s a native of the golden state and has been a resident of San Diego since 1987. Before that he grew up in northern California and lived in the Sacramento Valley and Bay Area with sojourns in some of the beautiful parts of our state.

Living in California for over 60 years he couldn't help but watch the way things have changed in our culture and the impact this coast makes on the rest of America and the world. So even though Boy On The Beach is fiction, like most serious novels, it is not without a context and comment on issues we all face in our changing world. It takes place in real locations that are very familiar to him and its characters, which are fictional, no doubt have their counterparts in the real world. Boy On The Beach is a story of intrigue, suspense, revenge, love and redemption with flashbacks to the era when sex, drugs and rock and roll set our culture on it's inevitable journey to our present day. This idea has been rattling around in his heart and mind for a decade and it's finally coming to the page.
Note: Readers Muse thanks the author for his wonderfully written post!


Boy on The Beach by R D Maddux : A Review


BOOK TITLE: Boy on the Beach

AUTHOR: R.D. Maddux

ISBN/ASIN: B06XJMD34B

GENRE: Mystery / Thriller

NUMBER OF PAGES: 304

FORMAT: Digital

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank iRead Book Tours for this review copy.

SUMMARY:

Andrew Foster, a real estate developer in San Diego, is a man suddenly haunted by his past. Memories, like specters from his former life of sex, drugs and rock and roll have come crashing into his current world of business in this sunny coastal city. The ominous, repeated appearance of a black SUV at the beach where he meets his sister each week, has triggered fears that it’s payback time for a bad choice he made years ago. ​

​To add to his frustrations, his hopes of a big breakthrough in the San Diego real estate market haven’t come to pass. He’s starting to wonder if his visions of success will ever come true when an investor offers to finance his dream project. Soon things start to fall into place for Andrew in business, life, and even love. He starts dating the beautiful and business-savvy Nicole but even with her at his side he can’t seem to shake the ghosts of his past. As the relationship with Nicole deepens, Andrew opens up to her about the many loves and adventures that have taken him from the crazy days of living in Big Sur and Joshua Tree to business success in San Diego. Her wise insights help him face the character flaws that have caused him to fail in his past relationships.

Rounding out his social life is his once-a-week task of assisting his sister with her nanny job watching a young boy named Chandler. They build sand castles on the beach and enjoy the beauty of nature together. But the now ominous weekly appearance of a strange car at the beach has awakened Andrew’s fears. Is the boy in danger? Or worse, has an enemy from Andrew’s past come seeking revenge and now Chandler’s caught in the middle?

A strange twist of events threatens to destroy Andrew’s dreams, but as he searches for answers, a sudden revelation offers hope of a future he never imagined. ​



FIRST IMPRESSION:

The book's cover was simple and straightforward, revealing only a bit about what kind of story this would turn out to be. But the summary is a bit more detailed, setting the scene and pace with care, giving the reader a clear picture of what the novel would cover. What piqued my interest in the summary was the detailing on the regret of one's actions in the past. When a lead character is anguished by a past decision, the consequences of which travel into the present, the novel should carry off not one, but two timelines with coherence. I was eager to begin reading the novel for this particular reason.

REVIEW:

One of the first things I would say about the book is positive. It is not easy to carry out different timelines with such ease, and mingle it with different points of view in the story. The author does both beautifully, even though sometimes it is hard to keep track. The story feels exactly like it should, highlights of an old man's long life, the mistakes, the attitudes, the redemption and remorse arc. This is where Andrew becomes simultaneously unlikeable and relatable because all people at some point have made mistakes that have made them regret for the rest of their lives. Those with stronger conscience feel the brunt of these past mistakes like an albatross around the neck. Those who read of Andrew and his life would see parallels not in his behaviour but in how the same life can mean two different things during youth and old age.

But where the book falters is in its uneven pacing. The narrative feels long, and though it is descriptive and beautiful, some things could have been left without such detailing. This rich prose does not suit the mood of the story in some places, lending the reader to confuse view points and lose track of the important crux of the story. The talented writing is a bit overdone, giving a bit more than readers would expect of the novel. And the extra bits are what seriously affect the speed of the otherwise thrilling tale. The narration would have been termed befitting for a different genre, but for a thriler, the book needs more action and suspense than detailing. The language was a treat to read, and has some memorable quotes that I would take back.

The book gets marks for being engaging, being true to the timelines it was based in, even with the alternating points of view. The experiences seem realistic, and totally believable. The book would have been a walk in the memory lane for anyone who grew up 40 years ago in California. It is for this reason that it may also seem a little off the mark for those who cannot understand the time period or the inside references that are scattered in the narrative in places. It takes a special kind of writing to make the readers understand, in vivid clarity, what life was like back then. The author wins in bringing the scenes to life, but also keeps doing it in places where it is not strictly necessary. The resultant of this writing is a book that can be cherished in subsequent readings for the words and descriptions but would dampen the excitement and the thrill of the reader the first time it is read.

The redemption arc of Andrew as a character becomes the focal point of the story. His justifications and remorse, his mistakes and regrets get the limelight. Omitting all the details in this review, the book is a treat that would either stay with the reader in all aspects, or take the reader tens of pages to get into the groove of the story. Overall, Boy On The Beach made to my good list, and I would read some parts of this book again, but that is only for the writing.

WHAT I LIKED:
  • The book's message about our actions and consequences is worth remembering.
  • The ending gets a thumbs up
  • The timelines are woven seamlessly.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
  • The adrenaline of the beginning slowly recedes into some heart clenching descriptive narrative. This slows the pace noticeably
  • The narrative is like a journal that not many can effectively follow. The changing view points can get confusing after a while.
  • The book uses some references of the time that might be missed by some readers, but this is not a deal breaker.
VERDICT:

Relatable, vivid tale of a man's life, his mistakes and their consequences. The book shall grow on the reader when read the second time and after.

RATING: 3.8/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



R.D. Maddux has story telling in his blood. Since he was young he’s always loved a good tale. He’s been writing seriously since he was in high school and college. His novels range from Mystery and Intrigue to Sci-fi/fantasy. With Boy On The Beach he’s set the story in modern America, to be exact, on the West Coast of California. He’s a native of the golden state and has been a resident of San Diego since 1987. Before that he grew up in northern California and lived in the Sacramento Valley and Bay Area with sojourns in some of the beautiful parts of our state.

Living in California for over 60 years he couldn't help but watch the way things have changed in our culture and the impact this coast makes on the rest of America and the world. So even though Boy On The Beach is fiction, like most serious novels, it is not without a context and comment on issues we all face in our changing world. It takes place in real locations that are very familiar to him and its characters, which are fictional, no doubt have their counterparts in the real world. Boy On The Beach is a story of intrigue, suspense, revenge, love and redemption with flashbacks to the era when sex, drugs and rock and roll set our culture on it's inevitable journey to our present day. This idea has been rattling around in his heart and mind for a decade and it's finally coming to the page.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Paperback

PRICE $6.81 for Kindle, $14.95 for Paperback

BOOK LINKS: Amazon



Sunday, June 24, 2018

A Cage of Desires by Shuchi Singh Kalra : A Review


BOOK TITLE: A Cage of Desires

AUTHOR: Shuchi Singh Kalra

ISBN/ASIN: B07CVJ8S6Z

GENRE: Contemporary Fiction

NUMBER OF PAGES: 175

FORMAT: Kindle

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank the author for the book, the recommendation and her request for a thoroughly honest review.

SUMMARY:

'There's a kind of love that makes you go down on one knee, and there's the kind that brings you down on both. You don't need the latter, because no matter what you do, you cannot make anyone love you back.'

Renu had always craved for love and security, and her boring marriage, mundane existence somehow leads her to believe that, maybe, this is what love is all about. Maya, on the other hand, is a successful author who is infamous for her bold, erotic books.

What do these two women have in common? How are their lives intertwined?

Renu's thirst for love and longing takes her on a poignant journey of self-exploration. The answers come to her when she finds the courage to stand up for herself, to fight her inner demons and free herself from the cage of desires . . .

FIRST IMPRESSION:

Since I had already read two books by Shuchi, I had an idea of what to expect where the writing was concerned. The summary was short and to the point, and the book cover gave me an idea of what the story may contain. The blurb that compares two contrasting personalities, how they will affect the lives of the other and what common points they might have, piqued my interest. The cover image is enticing, and reflective of the genre this book is based on, not revealing much but still garnering readers' attention enough to pick it up and read the book back summary.

REVIEW:

A Cage of Desires - is a very tastefully written piece of fiction that touches upon many cross genres including mild erotica, self exploration and women empowerment. The book is a bit of everything, but does not overdo anything. The story is simple yet profound, the narrative holds the reader with a lot more factors than just descriptions. What attracted me first to the story was how evenly it paced out. There were highs and lows, but they were all balanced throughout, not clashing with the pace of the plot or wrapping up with hurried and abrupt jumps between scenes.

Renu as the docile housewife who is stuck in a loveless marriage and has two kids, and who spends her days tending to her aged father in law and maintaining the household on the meager monthly income her husband sends, is a character who will stick in the readers' minds immediately. Anyone who has closely watched the big indian families of the past few decades can name at lease one Renu who is the spineless backbone of the household, the thankless woman whose days begin before dawn and end after midnight. It is with this character that the story draws its readers in. And in perfectly etching the confusions faced by a middle aged woman whose priority list does not include her own self, the author scores a brilliant tale. Maya as the bold author whose books are devoured by masses and who writes things most people cannot even begin to imagine, but love to read on paper - is the kind of woman who are admired from afar but not accepted up close.

The book follows Renu's life, and the twists and turns that happen when temptation crosses her path. The trajectory of Maya and her life is also brought out well, giving a contrast that highlights all the issues that happen in the Indian society. The story's biggest plus is the narrative, putting forward the erotic parts without crass details, having believable characters and shifts in their behaviour, and being totally unapologetic about conveying the stark realities of Indian marriages, social pressures and the double standards that come with them. Some parts are predictable, and the seasoned reader can guess the story's path before the actual suspense is revealed, but that was not the point of the story, which I guess was written to convey something else entirely.

Overall a book with good English, no major noticable grammatical flaws and smooth plot transition. I loved the narration and the characterisation though I could not find any specific character that I wanted to root for. The writing shone through with brilliance in some places, with a few profound words that could serve as good reminders about love and life.

Here are a few I liked.

Everything was in its place, and yet nothing was.

That's the thing about truth - it doesn't flinch, it doesn't falter, it sears and burns. And the truth singed her heart, scarring it in places she never even realised existed.

Is love about possessing someone? Is it about owning someone? Love is free, unfettered, like the air and water. Like our love is.

There's a kind of love that makes you go down on one knee, and there's the kind that brings you down on both. You don't need the latter, because no matter what you do, you cannot make anyone love you back.

Not all stories have a beginning and an end, because they are not stories at all. They are journeys.

WHAT I LIKED:
  • The book was bold without resorting to crassness. That is a huge plus.
  • The character transitions were believable and clear
  • The book was unapologetic about what it wanted to convey and did not shy away from detailing the troubles faced by some married women in patriarchal families in the country.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
  • Two big suspense reveals are timed in such a way that the narrative itself reveals them indirectly a few pages before the actual mention. The suspense could have held on till the actual reveal to make the novel more interesting.
  • The individual characters are hard to root for, and lead the readers to not take any side clearly.
  • The story would have remained the same without the prologue, which served to quell the biggest question of the plot.
VERDICT:

Loved the boldness, the clean writing and the smooth pace of the story. Good read.

RATING: 4/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shuchi Singh Kalra is the Amazon bestselling author of two novels-Done with Men and I'm Big. So What!? Her short stories have appeared in Love across Borders, Stories for Your Valentine and NAW Anthology 2013. In her freelancing career of over a decade, Shuchi has written for major print and online publications such as Femina, Good Housekeeping, Hotelier International, Huffington Post and Home Review, among others. She has also been listed among the top women authors to follow on Twitter. Website: www.shuchikalra.com


Twitter: @shuchikalra

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Paperback

PRICE Rs. 175.11 for Kindle, Rs. 225 for Paperback

BOOK LINKS: Amazon