The Next Big Thing: Week 22

I am doing a blog hoppy thing. This is the first time.

I was tagged by two awesome writer people: Alexandra Tys O’Conner at Whispering Minds and Anne Woodman at Writing by the Numbers. You have to go and visit their great blogs. And read and comment and make new  writer people friends.

So here I go.

1- What is the working title of your book?

Miscegenation. Long uncommonly used words just fascinate me.

2- Where did the idea come from for the book?

When I moved back to Canada after many  years I happily observed many mixed race couples. Also there is a lot of unrest in the other half of the world and I thought what if we just blew ourselves to bits while fighting and the survivors were extremists who decided no more inter racial marriages. They want a Pure Blood Society of the different races believing this is going to avoid all the genes from getting crazy and self destructive. I have a Master’s in Biochemistry and genetics really fascinates me.
3- What genre does your book fall under?

Science Fiction (YA)

4- Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I have absolutely no idea, but I think Johnny Depp should be in every movie. He just should.


5- What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

This is the most painful question in the history of questions. This is the first sentence/hook/pitch from the query:

Welcome to Arya, where being different will kill you.

6- Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I am hoping (read praying, begging, crying, moaning, struggling ) that it gets represented by an agency.


7- How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took one month.

8- What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

It is about a racist society. The only other YA I have heard about that deals with racism in a similar way is Vril: the Power of the Coming Race.

9- Who or What inspired you to write this book?

There are so many paranormal type characters but I haven’t read one with a djinn in it yet. I wanted to write a novel with a djinn as one of the characters. So one of the races is of djinns.

10- What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

A lot of action ( I love action movies/novels) some romance ( the one where they can’t live with each other and they can’t live without each other) science stuff for science stuff fans. Angry teenagers for emo kids and rebellious stuff in memory of James Dean.


Now check out these blogs: (you guys have one week! Try to post it on Nov 7!)
1. storiesbywilliams

2. Writerlious

3. Life behind the Pages

4. Cape Cod Scribe

5.  Life As We Show It

6. Mythbroakia

 

Black and white cats are awesome

Our cat, Patchy Patch, is so awesome. Most cats are. And she loves to jump. This is her:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=YxZorzMIcYE

My daughter put her video up on You Tube. She is the most adored member of our family and can get away with murder, but she is such a sweetie. She doesn’t have any Diva demands like many cats, she does not come and sit on my head at 6 a.m demanding to be fed but waits patiently for everyone to get up and then she wants to be petted first. Her stomach is her second concern not her first. The only problem she does have is falling into the toilet whenever someone forgets to put the lid down. Which is often.

No, this is not Patchy, I would not embarrass her by posting a picture of her at her worst. This is someone else’s cat I found on Google Images. How could anyone do that to their cat?

She is the subject of many photographs shot by my five-5-year-old, Twin 1, who knows more about my cell phone than I do.

I don’t know how Patchy manages to keep her patience with a persistent five-year old who continuously sticks a camera up her nose.

Twin 1 takes pictures of everything. She says she is going to be a cake decorator when she grows up. I seriously doubt it.

(Cat in the toilet is courtesy of Google Images the rest are courtesy of Twin 1)

It’s Always a Good Time

I yelled at the kids to go to sleep early one Saturday night in the summer vacation so we could get up early and be out of the house by eleven at the most. I woke up at 11:21. Everyone was up before me. No one realized that they could not actually leave the house if I was still snoring away. So I had to start yelling again as soon as I woke up. They just wanted to let me sleep in, isn’t that sweet? The day I need to wake up early, they finally let me sleep in. My kids make sure my vocal cords get plenty of exercise every day. The thing is I don’t really dream of being an opera singer.
After ranting about the height of negligence that my kids and their father have been endowed with, I started making brunch and packing picnic food. I had marinated the chicken the night before. Good thing I have an obsessive compulsive disorder with organization. Unfortunately this does not go good with my absent-mindedness. But that is life. Isn’t it ironic, don’t ya think?
Picnics are loads of fun with five kids. I pack enough stuff to make you believe I was going away for a month. 5-year-old twins mean you need lots of extra clothes and towels. You never know who is going to decide to get carsick. They’ve been trained to give a 5 second warning so I can catch it in a plastic bag.
So I make an Olympic record for the best time in the ‘make breakfast, feed kids, pack picnic, yell at kids to get ready, close all lids on toilet seats, feed cat, and push everyone out the door’ event. We get in the car and as soon as we are in the kids start fighting over seats. No one wants to sit at the back with the twins. I can’t blame them. Who the hell enjoys catching vomit in a plastic bag?
We had to stop to buy buns and drinks. And coal. And lighter fluid. Because husband does not have any sort of obsessive compulsive disorder and efficiently tunes out when I start listing off ‘things to do’. So I sit in the car while he buys stuff, and try to ignore the kids who are arguing about who will sit where on the way back. I receive a phone call from husband, “I can’t find the buns”.
By 1:45 we were sitting outside the second grocery store because husband could not find coal at the first. After 25 minutes he comes out smiling. Success. It took two people 25 minutes to find lighter fluid. We finally move on. On the road husband realizes someone’s door is not closed right. At the first red light we all open and slam the doors really fast, green light we drive on but one door is still not closed right.  Change radio station because no one likes the song. Yell at kids to stop yelling at each other. Next stop light, door open, door slam, door still not closed thank you ma’am. Kids still yelling at each other about whose door is not shut properly. Teenage daughter only has enough strength to hit her brother in the back of the head and that is all. For anything else her hands seem to have no life. Have to change radio station every two minutes. Husband wants to know why all the songs sound exactly the same. We pull into someone’s driveway and husband gets out to close the door shut.
Teenagers are now commenting on all the ‘swoggy’ people they see on the way. As if they are full of swag themselves. Change radio station.
At the lake finally, more bickering among offspring. Who will pick up what and why they get to pick up that particular object. Deciding on the perfect spot takes about 20 minutes, but by now I have started to tune everyone out. It is such a beautiful day. Warm and sunny. We are finally settled, I just want to get in that water. I walk in and my longed for peace is replaced with horror. The water is freezing. God dammit!
“We don’t even have to try it’s always a good time..O o o ..”
(All images are from Google Images)

 

Guest post by a published author. Who is not snobby.

I had a day off today. So after sending all the kids to school I promptly went straight to my laptop? No I went straight back to bed. And continued to snooze blissfully till 12: 45. Now I am eating french toast and drinking hot tea and typing with sticky fingers because after you pass the three kids mark and 35 you no longer care about these things. Your biggest luxury is sleeping in and not being woken by five snarling monsters kids.

Mike Allegra is a published (non snobby) author.  He is also very, very funny. When I am feeling sad, mad or bad I go to his blog and have a good laugh. He also has great tips for writers, so you have to go and visit him here: heylookawriterfellow

Yes, now you know you have to visit. And his wife has a great way with animals. Definitely visit here.

His book  Sarah Gives Thanks is going into its second printing. Congrats! It is a touching story and has beautiful pictures.

I pestered him to do a guest post for my blog. And this is the first guest post here. So hurray for me. If you write then you are probably in some sort of critique group and you have probably come across some people who are ready to cruelly tear your work apart ( they have been published) or get violent when you give them honest suggestions( they will never be published). But Mike is a very nice, down to earth published author who does neither. Here is his entertaining and informative account of  critiquing.

Criticizing Critiques: A Critical Study ( Mike Allegra)

It was my turn to critique the manuscript and I wasn’t looking forward to it. It wasn’t because I didn’t like critiquing (because I do) or because I didn’t like the manuscript (although I didn’t) , it was because the critiquee – let’s say her name was Helen – was not interested in hearing anything but praise. No matter how I couched my constructive criticism, Helen’s response always hovered in the neighborhood of hostile.

Most of the other people in this writers’ circle had taken Helen’s cue long ago and used their time to offer up bland, non-specific kudos for her manuscripts. But I’m sort of stupid, I suppose. I just can’t say, “It’s good! Really good!” when I don’t think the manuscript is really good. I don’t see the value in doing so. I always try to critique others the way I want them to critique me.

I began Helen’s critique on a positive note. “I really like your idea,” I said. “It’s playful and fun. And I think the approach you took is dead on. It’s a perfect subject for a rhyming picture book.”

Helen beamed.

“But I noticed that some of your rhymes aren’t really rhymes.”

And Helen’s smile faded. It might have been my imagination, but her face seemed to suddenly fall into shadow. But I sallied forth, because, again, I’m stupid.

“For example: ‘pat’ and ‘path.’ Or ‘pane’ and ‘way.’ The words share the same vowel sounds, but they aren’t rhymes.”

I looked up from my notes to see if any of this was registering. Certainly none of the stuff I was saying could get her really angry this time. A rhyme is a rhyme, after all. There’s nothing subjective about a rhyme.

But, well, yikes. Was someone holding a flashlight under her chin?

“No one will care about that,” said Helen. Her tone announced, “How dare you care about that!”

Helen’s remark was followed by the squeak of half-dozen chairs as they, ever so slightly, pushed back from the table.

But I went on. Remember: I’m stupid.

“Also I noticed that the meter varies from line to line. Here you have 13 syllables and here you have 11. This one is 10.”

“It’s 11,” Helen said.

“No, it’s 10,” I said.

And that touched off a rather prolonged simmering discussion over what constitutes a syllable. Helen and I spent some quality time counting together.

Yep, it was 10. Helen didn’t acknowledge this fact as much as change her line of attack.

“No one will care about that either,” she said.

But that wasn’t true. I’m a someone and I cared.

Well, sort of.

I certainly didn’t care if Helen got published – which I doubted she ever would because she was an unpleasant, cantankerous crabby pants who didn’t know that “pat” and “path” didn’t rhyme – but I did care that my efforts were being treated so shabbily. Helen certainly didn’t have to accept anything I said – it was her manuscript and she could do what she wanted with it – but I took quite a lot of time to review her story, the least she could do was give my comments a little respectful consideration.

“Okay, I’m done,” I told Helen. I wasn’t really done with my critique. I was done with Helen and her rotten, dismissive attitude.

Of course, such dismissiveness doesn’t only have to be delivered by an ungrateful critiquee. I once heard a critique by a fellow I’ll call Don. On one fateful night he told an aspiring writer that her “characters were vague.”

Don didn’t elaborate beyond that, making his critique pretty vague as well. The aspiring writer, a bit of a doormat, I’m afraid, wrote down Don’s remark verbatim, as if she could later tease something of value out of it once she got home.

To her discredit, she didn’t ask for any examples of vagueness or any suggestions as to how to make the characters less vague. I would’ve asked such questions; I doubt, however, that Don would’ve been able to answer them. It’s hard to be specific when you don’t bother to read the story you’re critiquing.

Critique groups are essential to the writing process. They should be exploited for all they’re worth. But every group dynamic is different. A single Helen can suck the joy out of what should be a very supportive and constructive environment. A group that contains too many Dons can make the critiquing process almost useless.

I never returned to Helen’s group after she and I counted syllables together. Apparently I set off a chain reaction. The group disbanded a month later. As for Don’s group, (there were actually a few “Dons” in that group), I left that one too, and never looked back.

Eventually I found a good critique group that provided – and continues to provide – a thoughtful, constructive, and tough assessment of my work. Some comments I agree with, others I ignore, but I almost always drive home energized, eager to tackle another draft.

That’s what a writers’ group should be like.

Choose your group wisely. Stay in the group only if it helps. Leave when it doesn’t. Your writing deserves the best critiques you can find.

And please be sure to critique others the same way you want them to critique you.

Thanks so much Mike for doing the first guest post for me. And I swiped your wonderful doodles too:

Isn’t that great?

All images are from heylookawriterfellow except for snoring mom from Google Images.

Aachoo Season

I started a blog on blogger called Desi Mom Eh? But I am so used to word press that I didn’t have much fun, so I am moving all my stuff here. This was the first post I did:

Gross eh?

I got this from Google Images and I really hope no one sues me for using it. I didn’t have any pics of my kids’ runny noses or I would have used them. Honestly. Even if it meant them growing up with psychological problems because their mom posted a picture of their snotty noses on a blog. Anyways it is that season again when kids sneeze and manage to get slimy green mucous on everything. I have a ‘desi totka’ for you. A ‘totka’ is something old village women used. I think. That is what I always thought anyways. But I am not an old village woman. I am a stunningly beautiful, super skinny woman with five kids who doesn’t look a day over 32. Seriously. I hope my teen doesn’t read this.

My kids get really bad colds every time the season decides to change. So I take some ginger crush it and then squeeze the juice into some honey and convince my kids to get it down their throats. It actually tastes good and it is quite effective.

Take about a one inch piece and crush it in a handy-dandy mortar with a pestle which everyone usually has lying around the kitchen. Well at least desis do. If you are not a desi you can make do with a rolling-pin. No rolling-pin? You seriously need to stop buying all those microwavable dinners and actually cook once in a while then eh? Once the ginger is all crushed up it will start dripping out ginger juice. Squeeze this into a clean little jar and pour a few tablespoons of honey in. If it tastes too sharp and gingery add some more honey and you can store this. Get your kid to have a teaspoon three or four times a day. I convinced my twin girls that honey made your skin glow and your hair grow long. Yes I lie to my kids. I do it often and very convincingly.

If you, or your loved ones have been affected by the changing weather then we can help. Sorry I had once written some pages for a law firm’s website. So this is a recipe for this really awesome herbal/green/cinnamon whatever kind of tea. I am dedicating this to my friend Monica who had a really

sh—y cold today. Poor baby I hope you feel better.

Do you have?

1. Cinnamon. The one from Sri Lanka is called Ceylon cinnamon and is the best. You can get it at your nearby Indian store. This is the one you should use. Here is some good info if you are interested: http://www.healthdiaries.com/eatthis/10-health-benefits-of-cinnamon.html

2.Ginger. You can get this everywhere. Stop using those ready to eat things and do some cooking damn it! Ginger is good for lots of stuff like colds and even migraines : 10 Health Benefits of Ginger. I realize I messed up the name of the first link. Sue me.

3. Cloves. You can get this wherever you buy spices and it is easily available at all Indian stores. And you should have it in your kitchen. Really you should: Cloves Nutrition Facts.

4. Turmeric. Indian store! 20 Health Benefits of Turmeric.

In a sauce pan put three cups of water, two-inch piece of a cinnamon stick, a few thin slices of ginger ( 2 to 4 depending on how you like the taste), two to four cloves and 1/5 tsp powdered turmeric or a small piece of the solid stuff. You can use less if it bugs you too much. Boil it on low until about 2 1/2 cups remain or even just two if you like it stronger, add a little honey to sweeten it. Drink it two times a day. Or whenever you want to. This is also good after a heavy meal. Oh and it is good for weight loss too, first thing in the morning.

I hope these were helpful. What do you use in Aachoo season? aaaaachooo…..ewwww.

(All Images from Google Images)

Having Doubts

I was reading through ‘when in doubt’ quotes because I am in doubt. When I am not procrastinating, I am busy being in doubt. I found some enlightening advice and I thought you could use it.

“When in doubt, don’t.”  Benjamin Franklin

“When in doubt, do it.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

“When in doubt or danger, run in circles, scream and shout.” Laurence J. Peter

“When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap.”
Cynthia Heimel

I found all this extremely helpful. Especially running around in circles and screaming, it relieves the tension and gives the kids a good laugh. And if you think you are making a fool of yourself, act like an intellectual so you seem ‘brilliantly creative’ to everyone else.

Seriously though doubt is so hard to deal with, all the advice says ‘just write’ and keep writing. As Dory would say “just keep swimming”.

 

But how do you convince yourself? Sometimes I just want to lock my laptop up and throw away the key. Just forget about the whole thing. Sometimes I just sit there and cry while I eat plenty of chocolate. I am not good enough, there are too many people already writing, I don’t have a Master’s degree in English Literature, I don’t post enough on my blog, I don’t have any articles or short stories published in any of the ‘big’ magazines, I am not a member of any affiliation for writers, I don’t have time, I do have time but I can’t do it, I have too much housework, I will end up not giving the kids enough time and they will end up disturbed juvenile delinquents, the kitchen floor needs to be mopped. The thing that is behind everything is doubt that I just can’t write at all. And I thought it was just me, but apparently even published writers have their doubts: How to Conquer Self Doubt and Just Write

And if that inspires you enough then you might want to try writing a short story for this competition: Young Adult Fiction Competition

They extended the deadline, so if you stop doubting and get writing you can make the dead line. Good luck.

(All Images from Google Images)

Parents Just Don’t Understand

Sometimes after I have finished yelling at my kids, I wonder what it would be like to be in their place. Then my imagination goes a little wild and takes on different personalities, like a desi teenage boy. Here is an article I wrote for Dawn when my imagination was him.

Yo! You have crazy parents dude? Man I’m telling you they don’t understand anything. It’s like after 30 their brains stop working. And if your parents are Desi, man you have the worst type of parents ever! Desi parents? They speak desi, they think desi, they act desi, they spend desi. You can’t help but think “Yo old man why are we here? You should have kept us all in Desi Land!” And they tell you they came to give you better opportunities than they had. But man they can only think with desi brains and all those opportunities go out the backdoor. All my white friends, they don’t have it half bad. They’re lucky man. At least their parents speak the same language. Don’t believe me?

I had a pain in my tooth, had it for days man. Kept telling my mom I’ve got to see a dentist, you know what she tells me?

“Aye Allah! Who knows what that man will do to you putr! Here put this in you mouth.” Then she shoved a broken clove into my mouth and shut it so hard I almost bit my tongue off.

“This tastes like ‘bleep’ Ma!” And I tried to spit it out but she grabbed my face in her hands. Dude you won’t believe the hand muscles desi women develop from kneading all that dough!

She made me stuff cloves in my tooth for one month. Then the dentist told me I’d have to get a root canal. My old man wasn’t too happy about that. Not the pain I’d go through. The cost man! Dude, desi parents have desi wallets. Literally. My old man bought 42 wallets from his last visit to Desi Land. He got them off a thela for Rs45 each. That’s less than 45 cents. You can’t imagine his joy when he tells everyone he meets how much he saved on those wallets. You can’t imagine mine either. Anyways he tells the dentist,

“Just pull the tooth out! He doesn’t need that one much, he has plenty of others.”

“Mr Chaudry we need to eliminate the infection otherwise…” says the dentist.

“Otherwise what? No one will be willing to give their daughter’s hand in marriage to him?” says the old man.

That night he tried to pull my tooth out himself with a pair of pliers. Lucky for me I’m the only son and my mom beat him off with her rolling pin. Those desi wallets are like black holes, nothing ever seems to come out of them dude. Asking desi parents for money is like asking the cute white girl in your class to a high school dance with you. The answer is always ‘NO!’ Desi parents wait till Boxing Day to buy you stuff. Yeah they don’t give you the money. They take you shopping dude.

“Oh putr, look at this! 70 per cent off! And in your size too!” says Ma.

“Ma it’s got a picture of Justin Bieber on the front, everyone will think I’m ‘bleepin’ gay.”

“Tauba tauba! All that ‘bleep’ was not enough for you? Now this ‘bleepin’ stuff!” She’s least concerned about the Chinese couple who have covered their kids’ ears. “What is wrong with being happy? And he is such a decent boy, look at that innocent smile.”

“Ma! It’s something a kid would wear.” I try to drag her away.

“Are you not my kid?” The old man asks loudly and everyone in the shop turns to look questioningly at Ma.

“Man! Stop being so loud Dad, come on…” I try to drag them both out.

“No, this matter must be settled!” He glares at me then at Ma. “Is he not my kid?” By now there is a crowd wondering at my legitimacy. I pick up the Justin Bieber T-shirt.

“Alright! I love Justin Bieber and I want to buy his ‘bleepin’ T-shirt because I’m happy ok?” I scream and everyone gasps.

The seven dollar shirt hangs in my closet. Justin Bieber smiles at me every time I open the door to get the Rs800 Leisure Club shirt my cousin managed to send me with the old man.