Garden sheds and Spanish Steps

Roald Dahl famously wrote from his garden shed. John Keats based himself in the heart of the Eternal City, at the foot of the Spanish Steps.

photography of lighted bridge

Whether it is a blogger, scriptwriter, poet or novelist, each has their particular ‘Creative Space’ where they produce their masterpieces.

So, what is that elusive, stimulating place and how do you find yours?

The answer depends on where you are most relaxed and least distracted. For inspiration to flow unabated, the mind must be calm and receptive.

body of water between green leaf trees

For some, busy coffee shops and book stores provide the perfect ambience to spark their imagination. Others prefer the tranquillity only nature can bestow, and sit under a tree, by a bubbling brook or, in a park in the middle of the city.

Truth is, you don’t need to go anywhere to find your writing nirvana. Curling up on the sofa with a notepad and pen can be just as rewarding from a creative perspective.

With some trial and error, you too will make your own creative space.

 

New year’s resolutions and other disappointments

Yes, it’s that time of the year, again. Everyone is taking stock of their highlights and achievements over the past year. I usually plan to do two or three things every January, and by the time December rolls in, I would have forgotten two or three of them.

This year, miraculously, I managed to stay on track. I’d intended undertaking some things that scared me. However, I knew I won’t be able to face my fears without some help. It came in the form of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique, also known as Tapping), which freed me from a number of phobias and fixations, to the point where I can comfortably share my fears.

Though I’d been writing for many years, I struggled to share my work, even with close friends and family. Through EFT inquiry, I was able to understand the root causes of my reluctance, which revolved around exposure. Nervousness, self-consciousness and a general lack of confidence in my writing had held me back from publishing my novels.

Having worked those issues out, I plucked up the courage to start small, by writing a blog. As the blog started to receive positive feedback, I felt empowered to share more, and eventually took the humongous step of publishing my debut romance, Krish. At first, I didn’t publicise the release. However, as the download numbers increased, and positive feedback poured in, I felt encouraged to overcome my greatest hurdle, Social Media. I recently signed up to Tweeter (@BhogaytaNina) and Insta (@NJBhogayta). Still getting the hang of them… Don’t know how to get the links.

For once, I’ve actually managed to complete my to-do list for the year. How about you? How are you getting on with your new year’s resolutions?

 

Free book offer! Limited time only.

A dark, seductive and irresistibly captivating love story, Krish weaves romance and revenge in a hypnotic dance…

When Nicole Hill lands a new client, the magnetic yet disturbing Raphael De’Angelo, her carefully orchestrated life takes a dangerous turn. In the blink of an eye, everything Nicole holds precious is snatched away from her.

Too late Nicole discovers how deadly and twisted the alluring powerbroker can be. But she isn’t going to back down without a fight. De’Angelo was going to pay for destroying her life.

What Nicole doesn’t realise is that the more she craves revenge, the closer she draws to the deceptive De’Angelo, and the more peril she courts. It might become impossible to escape his enthralling web of deceit…

Krish by N J Bhogayta is FREE TO DOWNLOAD with KindleUnlimited for a limited time only. Download a copy at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Krish-Part-N-J-Bhogayta-ebook/dp/B07J2N1QL1/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1538828392&sr=1-2&keywords=krish

Laziness, boredom, whatever…

For the past few days, I have struggled to find the zest for writing. Maybe it’s the weather, or just plain laziness? Whatever, I keep finding distractions like Instagram or Netflix. Even drying up dishes has suddenly taken priority over knuckling down to pen Krish Book II.

In fact, I’m not reading either. Though there are my usual two to three novels on the go, I have left them to gather dust on the coffee table. Very strange behaviour indeed, given my love for books.

Frustrated with the inertia, I decided to kick-start my lust for creativity with visual aids and poured through some holiday snaps. Here are a few that inspired me. Enjoy!

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The truth about me

It had been a morning like any other in the office, me battling my usual demons, oblivious to the fresh hell the next call would bring. That day, I met Raphael De’Angelo for the first time.

De’Angelo turned out to be the most intolerable client I’d ever had the misfortune of encountering. For reasons beyond my comprehension, he seemed hell-bent on destroying me, and I couldn’t escape the powerbroker’s immense reach. Cornered, I was left with no other option but to fight back.

Though I am weary and scarred, our battle is far from over. No-one can predict the outcome. However, I am ready to tell the world where it all began, starting with the truth about De’Angelo, who he is and what he did to me.

My real name is Nicole Hill. I’m twenty-six years old and I work in the city. I am fairly ordinary except for one very bad thing I did five years ago… Click link to continue reading my story https://www.amazon.co.uk/Krish-Part-N-J-Bhogayta-ebook/dp/B07J2N1QL1/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1538828392&sr=1-2&keywords=krish

 

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Forever and ever romances

There is something wonderful about the classic romances like Pride and Prejudice, Romeo and Juliet, Jane Eyre. No matter how many times I read them, they never get boring. In fact, there is always something new to be discovered, like a description or a mini arc that hadn’t been noticed before.

These stories are so captivating, I can even remember the names of the minor characters, which is rare for me given I can’t readily recall the authors of the  three books I downloaded only last night.

As a romance writer, I often wonder about the magic ingredient in the stories that help them live on forever, enduring through the ages. Is it the chemistry between the lead characters? The beauty of the prose that lures the reader in? Happy endings despite the odds? Or, how the characters break all the rules, go to extremes to be together, even embracing death?

If anyone has the answer, I’d love to know!

The heart of a reader

On of the best and worst things about creative writing is its subjectivity. Beauty is truly in the eyes, and heart, of the reader.

No amount of formal education automatically endows a person with the gift of storytelling or, a flair for wordsmithing. A key learning point during my quest for a literary agent, was the realisation that my educational background and work experience, which though relevant in the commercial environment, meant very little in the literary world, despite the fact I wrote two hundred page reports in my day job. Creative writing it turns out, is very different to producing corporate reports or marketing materials.

Unlike a curriculum vitae, in a manuscript submission for a novel, it is the quality of the writing alone that counts most. The writer’s past literary experience is helpful, however the story has to stand in its own right and speak for itself. After all, that’s what matters to readers.

How to write a synopsis

Following on from When to submit to literary agents? and How to write a cover letter, here’s my experience of writing a successful synopsis.

At the start, I’d assumed a synopsis is essentially the flashy blurb on the backs of book covers. It is not. The blurb, though exciting, provides a mere gist about the novel, whereas a synopsis, equally enticing, outlines the whole story including the ending. That is not to say every twist and turn has to be declared. The key characters and major plot points are sufficient to give the agent/commissioning editor an idea of what to expect, and compel them to read the manuscript.

The length and level of detail required varies by agency. Between one to three pages is common. There in lies the challenge, condensing a ninety thousand word book into a single page. By the way, these are at least 1.5 line spaced pages with size 12 point text, which further limits the amount of information one can squeeze in.

On learning this, my initial reaction was horror, thinking I would never be able to shrink all the twists and turns of the story into three pages, let alone one. However, forced to do so, I deployed a simple technique. I pulled out the most salient points from each chapter and summarised them into a maximum to two sentences. Those formed the basis of my detailed synopsis.

The next step involved reducing the document down to a single pager, which turned out to be fairly painless as I picked the main sentences which best conveyed the storyline.

The reduction exercise yielded additional, unforeseen benefits:

1. As I re-read the chapters, editing requirements which hadn’t been addressed came to light.

2. Listing the main points of the book in the order they occur, highlighted the structure and flow of the story and where they could be improved.

 

 

 

 

 

How to write a cover letter

Remember the misadventures? This is one of them. In the early days, I happened to be under the impression that a novel had to be picked up by a literary agency and, as luck would have it, I managed to sign with one. Here are some helpful points regarding cover letters.

When it came to querying literary agencies, I was surprised to discover how varied their submission guidelines were. In general, most agents require a cover letter, synopsis and sample pages of the manuscript.

Preparatory work is required in producing the draft cover letter.

1. The first step was to clarify the book’s genre. Krish is a modern love story with a dark, thriller-like edge, so I had to find agents who represented commercial women’s fiction, romance, and cross-genre novels. Based on that search criteria, I drew up a list of agencies to query.

2. The cover letter is the interface between the writer and the agent. A positive first impression will encourage the agent to peruse the sample chapters, therefore it has to look and sound professional, and clearly show you’ve done your research. Make it short and to the point, allowing the synopsis and sample chapters to do the talking.

3. In the opening line explain why you have chosen to submit to that particular agent and, why the novel might appeal to them. Then provide a ‘hook’ or ‘elevator speech’ for the book. This is a very brief synopsis. As a rule of thumb, it should be no more than a couple of lines. The purpose of the hook is to entice the agent to read the submission. Too much description is unnecessary in the cover letter if you are submitting a full synopsis as well.

4. Next, in a sentence or two, provide the background and setting of the novel, and explain why you wrote it. Here it is useful to include your inspiration for the story and personal experience of the subject matter.

5. Mention your educational background, particularly courses/qualifications relevant to writing. Any previous publications would also be beneficial in building credibility.

6. Clarify whether the manuscript is complete, giving the total number of words. Do also mention whether the book is a one-off or part of a series.

7. It is helpful to outline the target audience of the book. One can also mention similar books in the market to indicate potential readership.

8. I was asked by a couple of agents where I saw Krish sitting on the shelves in the book stores. Worth covering this point in the letter when dealing with cross genres.

9. And finally, don’t forget to provide your contact details.

Once the draft cover letter is done, it can be tailored according to the submission guidelines for each target agency.