Would You write for free?


I recently read this article, about writers being asked to write for free.

People who would consider it a bizarre breach of conduct to expect anyone to give them a haircut or a can of soda at no cost will ask you, with a straight face and a clear conscience, whether you wouldn’t be willing to write an essay or draw an illustration for them for nothing. They often start by telling you how much they admire your work, although not enough, evidently, to pay one cent for it. “Unfortunately we don’t have the budget to offer compensation to our contributors…” is how the pertinent line usually starts. But just as often, they simply omit any mention of payment.

This is partly a side effect of our information economy, in which “paying for things” is a quaint, discredited old 20th-century custom, like calling people after having sex with them….Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again.

I empathize.

I’ve been asked, more number of times than I care to remember, to write for free. Till date, I haven’t written non-fiction for free. Fiction, though, is another matter. Some of my published stories were included in anthologies for free– some of them for charity (which I loved) and some just like that (which I went along with, because these are lit-zines with not much money). A few were paid for, but at a much lower rate than what my clients pay for my non-fiction articles. Apparently, there are very few markets for literary short stories, and most of them don’t pay much, and are notoriously tough to break into.

So far, I’m okay with it, because, I really write fiction as a passion, the way I keep aquariums or garden. Only, I’m much, much more passionate about fiction, both reading and writing, than I ever will be about my fish or plants. So, I’ve never considered making a living by writing fiction any more than I’ve thought of earning money by rearing fish or plants– I’m not saying that’s ideal, just that it hasn’t bothered me so far.

So, should I insist on getting paid for my fiction? (Naive question, some would say.)

As an author, have you written fiction for free? If yes, why? If no, why not? And if you’ve been paid, was it enough to pay your bills?

As a reader, do you ever wonder about whether the people whose work you enjoy get paid? Why, in your opinion, is there a stereotype of a starving artist or writer, but a surgeon, accountant or plumber is never expected to work for free?

Do you think an author should give away free stories like musicians give away free music? Is writing for free ‘good promotion’? Have at it in the comments– I need your opinion here! One randomly selected commenter will receive a copy of Tom Benson’s short story collection Smoke and Mirrors …which brings me to my regular monthly feature:

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BLOGS I RECOMMEND: GIFTS TO FRIENDS

As part of my pledge in my A to Z Reflections post, and Supporting Indie authors I’ll be buying and then gifting books by Indie authors to all my three Recommended Blog Friends today the 16th of June, just like I did on the 16th of May. The idea is to simply pick up books I like, by Indie authors I like, and give them away to folks I like, each month.

These are the three bloggers I recommend today, and I’m gifting them tokens of my appreciation…books that I like!

Blogs you must read!

Blogs I Recommend

         MICHELLE STANLEY:  I can’t say enough about how supportive and kind Michelle is, and also an amazing writer. She is just the reader I can think of for One Beautiful Child, superbly crafted stories by Annalisa Crawford, my blog friend from Amlokiblogs.

              GARY PENNINCK : a dear soul and kind friend, who, while berating the A to Z Challenge has given it more publicity and love than many who have participated in it.  I’m gifting him a copy of The Path Through the Eye of Another by Davey Northcott , a supporter of this blog. Gary is just the sort of guy who would enjoy a lyrical book, full of emotions and a passion to survive, and a ‘good fight for what is right’ kind of story.

             M. L. SWIFT:  a good blog friend, a wonderful writer, and terrific blogger. He has recently come back to blogging after a short hiatus. To him a I gift Smoke and Mirrors a collection of delicious short stories by Tom Benson, another of my supportive blog friends, and a prolific, versatile author.

To all three of you, thank you for your support and I hope you have tons of visitors on your blogs this coming year. I don’t expect you to do anything with the book other than enjoy it, and if you want to support Indie Authors, too, buy a copy for your friends or family!

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Dear reader, what are your thoughts on the questions above? Do you know any of the bloggers I recommend?

By Buying from Amazon, are you Supporting a Bully?


Amazon and Hachette

Amazon and Hachette

If you read or write books, you might be aware of the Amazon Hachette debacle. If you aren’t, this will give you the gist of what Amazon and Hachette are negotiating this very moment.

If you’re an author or reader, (the majority audience of this blog) you’ve all dealt with Amazon in one way or the other.

On the one hand:

Amazon is a behemoth that has leased you your ebooks and is fully able to lay its claim on them any time it so chooses. It could also selectively delete books from your device, without notice.

The New York Times is calling Amazon a Monopsony, the mirror image of Monopoly.

On the other hand:

Amazon has enlarged the book revenue pie for everyone by generating real e-book revenue with the Kindle digital reader, as well as with “the world’s first viable mass-market self-publishing platform,” which has enabled “thousands of new authors to make a living from their writing for the first time in their lives.” (Original article here )

Some independent authors selling via Amazon are celebrating and then,  there are people who’re saying this:

“Unlike almost every other CEO of a publicly-traded company, Bezos does not consider his most important constituency to be shareholders, followed by the board of directors. Bezos knows that if customers are happy, everything else tends to fall into line in the long run…

..Bezos doesn’t ignore profit margins, he just takes them out of the hides of everyone except customers. He pays terrible wages, especially to low-end employees, strong-arms suppliers and business partners to lower prices, and invests in technologies and tactics that will reduce costs, often by firing more people…I would never want to work at Amazon. But I have to admit I like buying from the company.”

This is where my questions come in.

Do you buy books on Amazon?  If Amazon is fighting to lower ebook prices should it win your support as a reader? Do you sell books on Amazon? Are you concerned that the fate of the Hachette authors may one day be yours? Is Amazon becoming too powerful by selling everything from books to electronics to diapers? Do You ever feel that by buying from Amazon, you’re supporting a bully– but that Amazon is simply too good to resist? Have at it in the comments!

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And here are today’s Bloggers I recommend visiting!

As part of helping spread the love in my community, I recommend three bloggers on each post, and today’s bloggers are:

Mishika Jenkins or Harliqueen: She’s a writer, and talks a lot about her writing process, in a way that always makes me go aha, and smile!

Vidya Sury: She’s a ray of sunshine, wherever she goes. Her blogs are for you if you look for positivity and conviction in your blog explorations.

Heather M Gardner: If you’re going to make one new blog friend this June, let it be her– a more supportive and kind blog friend is hard to find.

 

 

Did You have Imaginary Friends as a child? #FridayReads


Imaginary Friends by Melanie Lee SIngapore

Imaginary Friends: Melanie Lee

I met Singaporean author Melanie Lee at a writing workshop years ago, and we’ve been writing buddies ever since. She has recently published her first collection of short stories: ‘Imaginary Friends‘. I loved her book launch and you can see some of it here!

I’ve loved reading these voice-y tales which end with a snappy ‘moral’ — a somewhat snarky word of wisdom for all of us who fall in love, work, and interact in the modern society. For instance, her story Herman the Hopeless Hippo ends with the cautionary note: If you fall for a mama’s boy, you’ll need to have a lot of patience.‘ After cheering her on at her book launch last week, I got together with her for an interview. If you have more questions for Melanie, drop a line in the comments!
1. Tell us a bit about your fiction writing journey.

I remember writing a copious amount of fairytales at 6 years old about princes and princesses. But that habit faded away when I started going to school, and it was pummeled into me that I had to write more seriously and logically for English assignments. There was this fictional vacuum for many years till my mid ‘20s, when I attended a short creative writing course for fun while doing my Master’s degree in Melbourne. I actually don’t remember what I learned from that course, but
it was an important experience because it made me realise that there were all these possibilities to create wonderful new worlds and characters with words. From then on, I began to write short stories and poems for fun, but only really had more guts to show/submit them in recent years.

2. What gave you the idea for your book, ‘Imaginary Friends‘?

I decided that I wanted to take part in the Blogging from A-Z Challenge (this wonderful writing event was introduced to me by none other than Damyanti, whom I regard as a writing mentor even though she tells me I’m being ridiculous). Someone said something about how it was good to have a theme for this challenge so as to have more focus. I thought I’d revisit this idea of imaginary friends because I had quite a few of them when I was young!

3. What is the target audience for your book?

I wrote these stories with no target reader in mind. My publisher positions it as a “kidult” book –something young-at-heart adults might like. But then, some kids as young as 6 have been telling me they enjoy the stories in the book. I actually think it’s more of a “target personality” – the book is suitable for people who love to laugh, perhaps are slightly cynical and are not opposed to sleeping with stuffed toys.

4. Each of your stories has a ‘moral’, tell us a bit about that.

I thought it was a fun and snappy way to conclude each story. But looking back, I guess they are lessons I’ve learned from life thus far. However, they’re not meant to be taken too seriously. I like it when readers tell me they got different “lessons” from a particular story, because really, there are so many ways to look at this world.

5. Which is your favorite character in the book, and the favorite story?

My favorite character in the book is Olivia the Overachieving Octopus. In general, I’m partial towards efficient personalities because there’s a lot of flakiness in this world these days. I like Elly the Egotistical Eraser story the best because I used to have a whole “stationery family” (with names) in my pencil case and I always wondered about the conversations they had when I was not around.

Melanie Lee: Author of Imaginary Friends

Melanie Lee: Author of Imaginary Friends

6. Can we have a taster, a link to one of your stories?

Sure, I shared my Timmy the Tenacious Teabag story on T Ching (a tea website) which you can read here.

7. Where can we buy ‘Imaginary Friends’?

If you’d like to buy the print edition of Imaginary Friends, you can buy it from MPH Online (they do international deliveries). If you’re from Singapore or Malaysia, Imaginary Friends is available at MPH and Kinokuniyabookstores. You can find the ebook at Amazon and Kobo.

Bio: Melanie Lee is a freelance writer based in Singapore. She does a mix of editorial, corporate and creative writing.
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I’ll be giving away two copies of the Imaginary Friendsebook randomly to two commenters on this post in order to support my friend Melanie, who’s been a joy to talk to and write with, along the years. So please leave your comments, interact, chat with Melanie and each other!

As part of my pledge in my A to Z Reflections post, I’m again featuring Bloggers I Recommend Visiting. I also spoke of Supporting Indie authors, so in that spirit, I’ll put my money where my mouth is. 

This time, I’ll be buying and then gifting books by Indie authors to all my three Recommended Blog Friends. (I hope to do this gifting on the 3rd Friday of each month, and more, if my book budget allows it! )

Tina Downey: A cohost at the A to Z Challenge, fab blogger, very dear friend. I’m gifting her a copy of Imaginary Friends‘ by Melanie Lee. She is the sort of girl who would enjoy a humorous book, with fab illustrations and snappy morals!

Paul Ruddock A cherished blog-friend, and amazing supporter of this blog through the A to Z Challenge. I’m gifting him Beyond the Binding, an anthology of short fiction edited by Samantha Redstreake Geary and written by a lot of fellow bloggers. He likes short fiction and loves supporting others, so this charity anthology should be right up his street.

Mary Wallace: One of #TeamDamyanti , who has consistently inspired me with her great cheer in the face of incredible odds. I’m gifting her Doing Max Vinyl by Frederick Lee Brooke. She might enjoy an entertaining, humorous thriller with a lady lead.

To all three of you, thank you for your support and I hope you have tons of visitors on your blogs this coming year. I don’t expect you to do anything with the book other than enjoy it, and if you want to support Indie Authors, too, buy a copy for your friends or family!

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Did you have imaginary friends as a child? Would you like a copy of Imaginary Friends in your inbox? Do you know any  of the three Featured Bloggers? Heard of the three books? Want to buy them?

Does Encouragement equal Support for #IndiePub Authors?


I recently read post by fellow blogger Andrew Leon, Encouragement Does not Equal Support. He is talking about providing encouragement/ support to Indie authors:

“Encouragement is nothing more than patting someone on the back and saying “good luck.” It really doesn’t take anything to do. There’s no real effort involved. Now, don’t get me wrong; encouragement can be nice: It feels good, but, really, it’s completely insubstantial. It doesn’t do anything real.

Support requires an effort. To put it in another context, support is more than just wishing fellow authors “best of luck” with their releases. Support is more than just cover reveals and blog hops. Support is more than just adding someone’s book to your “to read” list on Goodreads….Actual support is buying the books of your author friends…..Actual support is reading the books that you’ve picked up from your friends…Actual support is, after having read someone’s indie release, leaving a review. A real review.”

Authors review authors on Amazon

Authors Reviewing Authors?

I agree with the post, and I think if you’re a reader or a writer (a majority of this blog’s audience) you ought to go read it.

I try, whenever I can, to feature authors on my blog, interview them, and of course, do cover reveals and such. But as Andrew rightly points out, this is hardly enough.

I do buy books by fellow authors, read them too.

I share their books on social media and feature both the authors and their books on my blogs. But I’ve stopped short of doing a review. I’m terrified of reviewing author friends– I could write a balanced review and probably not offend any of my excellent blog friends. But then, I could. So I do everything I possibly can, other than write a review. I know some of them left me a review on the ebook I published in 2011, and I sometimes feel guilty for not leaving a review in return. I do whatever else I can, by sharing them on social media and buying/ gifting their books.

I don’t know whether I fall short of support, but to me, blogging and my online life is a pleasure, and I wouldn’t want to do anything that jeopardizes my online friendships. I’ve read other authors who agree with my POV. For the foreseeable future, this will be my (guilt-ridden, but firm) stance. Let me know yours in the comments– as always your comments teach me new perspectives, and I look forward to learning from you.

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As part of my pledge in my A to Z Reflections post, I’ll feature three bloggers on each post, Bloggers I Recommend Visiting:

Anna Tan: A dear Malaysian blog friend, and editor of the bestselling Love in Penang. Check out her post promoting another fellow author, the excellent Mimi Barbour.

Jemima Pett: A cherished blog-friend, and author of Bravo Victor, and many other excellent books. Check out her post with her giveaway, and supporting other authors.

Lisa Buie-Collard: A consistent blogger, amazing blog-friend, and charming author. Check out her post on Why Indie Authors Need Editors.

(If you visit these bloggers and leave a comment, I’ll automatically include you in a list of bloggers slated for this feature, or for your posts to be linked, tweeted, promoted on my social media profiles.)

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Do you read books by Indie Authors? An Indie author yourself? What is your view of Indie authors reviewing other Indie authors? Do you agree with the article above on ways to Encourage and Support authors? As a reader, how much attention do you pay to a reader review?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: P for Postponement is not an option


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: P for Postponement is not an option

Provided by: Jemima Pett, friend, fellow writer, and one of the magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti

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#atozchallenge: P for Postponement was not an option

#atozchallenge: P for Postponement was not an option

     I sit on me front porch, thinkin’ Sunday morning thoughts, when they drive up, the two fat coppers.

     Where’s Moses?, the taller of the two hooks his finger on his belt, and don’t waste our time.

     Only Moses I know, I tell them, parted the Red Sea.

      No punchin’ the toadstool around me. Moses he turn me ‘to a fairy if I squeal. Better put out for coppers than Moses.

       My nose bust next second, one long whine in me ears, blood on me mouth, warm ‘n icky. Usual stuff.

       The other copper, sliding behind, he throw me against the porch wall. You wan’  to do them Moses you’self? Where’s you’ gi’lf’iend?

           Why cops look more ‘n more like we these days? This one got a missing front tooth. It make his words come all funny.

            He take Angela, Moses do, I want to tell them, ‘n she go with him.

        Every Sunday Angela she take me to church, Be a good man, Jerry, she say, let the Lord save you. You ne’er took a life, the Lord He forgive you, ask for His mercy.

 

Last night she run, not with a good man, but Moses. Moses of stick-ups ‘n blagging, pimp, cop-killer, Mac daddy that drive around Sunday e’enings high on shrooms, or eatin’ coke, lookin’ for bitches to rape.

         Postpon’ment is not an option, Moses say, his big fancy words, you got one life. Take what you want.

         I wanna tell these coppers all that. But what’s the point? She make me wear the mushroom suit every time I do her, there’s the truth of it. Angela want his big brawny spawn, not mine. I’m puny, she say. Some more, these coppers don’t do their jobs, oughta patted me down before slammin’ me.

         I pull out the nine Moses thrown at me last nite, laughin’ in my face, ‘n I fire, once, twice. I fall back, more whine in me ears. The nine it hit me back, but it drop them sure. Then I sit me down, and watch the red slide outta their mean little heads. Ne’er bust a cap, and now this.

        Moses he got it right. Always a first time, and live only once. I’m havin’ me some different Sunday morning thoughts. With a nine, I’m as tall as Moses.  The Lord can save me no more, Angela. I’m comin’ for you.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? What associations do mushrooms have for you?

Have You Read Any of These Books Born from #blogging #atozchallenge ?


Blogging challenges can be fun, but they can also be surprisingly productive. I co-host the A to Z Challenge, (5 days left, sign up now!)and over the years, it has given rise to quite a few books.Have you read any of them? Given a choice, which ones would you pick? Here’s a short list of the AZ babies I can think of off the top of my head:

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

2014 A to Z Blogging Challenge

  Doris Plaster: Home Sweet Nursing Home: An A to Z Collection of 50-word stories on Aging and Healthcare: Today’s nursing homes are no longer “rest homes,” but rather vibrant places where residents, families and friends gather, interact, and share heartfelt memories and experiences. Through a 50-word-story collection of vivid tales, Doris Plaster, LCSW, recounts the realities of life in a nursing home from her Social Worker perspective, and that of the caregivers and residents in 26 short vignettes, that are both poignant and thought-provoking.

Melanie Lee: Imaginary friends : 26Fables for the Kids in US: Imaginary Friends is a collection or 26 short stories in alphabetical order and is exclusively available as an e-book. Author Melanie Lee and illustrator Sheryl Khor are childhood friends who used to imagine that their stationery and water bottles had names and personalities, and would come up with adventurous plotlines for their “imaginary friends”. Inspired by such fond memories from their childhood, they decided to collaborate in producing this e-book as a legacy for their children. At first glance, Imaginary Friends may look like a typical children’s book. However, upon closer reading, you will find that its sophisticated wit and references to modern culture makes it an enjoyable read for teens and adults who are young at heart.

Pamela D Williams: A to Z Devotions for Writers : A to Z Devotions for Writers will meet the specific spiritual needs of writers. Covering each letter of the alphabet, these devotions offer pertinent scriptures, meditations focused on various aspects of the writing life, relevant prayers and “block” busting writing applications. Written to inspire, encourage, challenge, and motivate writers, A to Z Devotions for Writers will not only drive pen to paper but will apply God’s truths to writing.

Christine Rains: Fearless: Abby White was seven years old when she killed the monster under her bed. Now she slays creatures spawned by the fertile imaginations of children, and the number of these nightmares are on the rise. Neither she nor her guide – a stuffed hippo named Tawa – know why. When she rescues Demetrius from an iron prison, he pledges his life to protect hers until he can return the favor. She doesn’t want the help. And how can she concentrate on her job when the gorgeous wild fae throws himself in front of her during every fight? No matter how tempting, she can’t give in to him. To save the children and all she loves, Abby must be truly Fearless.

Rachel Morgan: A to Z of Creepy Hollow Fae: Violet, a seventeen-year-old faerie, spends every day learning how to protect humans from dangerous magical creatures. Catch a glimpse of 26 of her assignments as she battles elves, ogres, and more.

Cherie Reich: A to Z Flashes of Foxwick: In honor of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, A to Z Flashes of Foxwick​ gives a glimpse to the characters, magical creatures, and lands in the fantasy world of the Kingdom of Foxwick. A young dragon befriends a dragon seer. A phoenix bursts into flames in mid-flight. A man must choose between his simple life and one of fame. A queen will find her heart turned into ice and many more!

Angela Brown: Neverlove : For a girl born of privilege and a young man bred for status, a lack of real love had everything to do with the drastic changes of their lives. Abigail – Abused to the point of defeat, seventeen doesn’t seem a bad age to die. Surviving suicide leads her to a second chance at V’Salicus Academy to become a Cleanser, a protector of lost souls. Basil – Perfection is the key to earning his parents’ love. A slip of the tongue lands him in service to hell as the devil’s newest Harvestor, a collector of lost souls to feed his new master’s constant craving.

D Biswas: A to Z Stories of Life and Death: Twenty-six A to Z stories, based on the twenty-six letters of the alphabet, question our moral compass: How do you judge a teacher toying with the sexuality of her teenaged student? A boy who decides to murder his mother? What thoughts rage inside a pedophile serial killer before he shoots himself? They challenge the concepts of beauty, truth, and morality, by revealing the face of the other side.

That last book is mine, and continues to sell in a trickle, a fact that never ceases to surprise me. This year, like I said in my Theme reveal, I’m planning to write stories again. Not that they will necessarily lead to a book. I wrote stories in 2012 as well, but just let them hang around. We’ll see.

Now back to my question: Have you read any of the above books? Did you write a book based on the A to Z Challenge? Care to tell us about it? Can you add more books to the list..I’m sure there are AZ books I missed out. Have you taken part in the April blogging challenge before? Have you signed up for the challenge this year?

 

 

Where, according to you, are #poetry and #art born?


Hakone Open Air Museum

Where Are Art and Poetry Born?

December five years ago, this blog was almost my private domain. Not many visited, still fewer left comments.

As the festive season draws near, I’m feeling grateful to have all the love I do receive now, and to each of my 10,873 followers, a Thank You.

I went back browsing on Daily (w)rite  and found this post and I find it relevant to my life and writing today as well.

This was the essence of the post, these words by Natsume Sōseki, in the opening lines of his brilliant, and beautiful, Kusamakura:

If you grow by reason, you grow rough-edged; if you choose to dip your oar into sentiment’s stream, it will sweep you away. Demanding your own way only serves to constrain you. However you look at it, the human world is not an easy place to live.

And when its difficulties intensify, you find yourself longing to leave that world and dwell in some easier one–and then, when you understand at last that difficulties will dog you wherever you may live, this is when poetry and art are born.

Do you agree with Natsume Sōseki? Where according to you, are poetry and art born? Are pain and difficulties necessary?

Are You Ready to go on a Space Opera Adventure?


This month has seen a few authors on Daily (w)rite, and I end it with Mary Pax, awesome blog friend and a successful author publisher who writes science fiction and fantasy for her growing and mostly worshipful audience! I give you an excerpt from her book, and encourage you to check out her body of work. Take it away, Mary!

The fulfillment of a dream begins with a sincere wish followed by consistent action. Tenacity is sprinkled in heavily along the way and a will to keep moving forward. Then surround yourself with great individuals with the same dream. Keep an open heart and mind. Learn. Participate. They’ll help your wings grow strong. Thanks to Damyanti for being an integral part of my flight.

Life Beyond the Edge: Excerpt

Lepsi:  Beyond The Edge by Mary Pax

Lepsi: Beyond The Edge by Mary Pax

Lepsi raised his eyelids and watched his companions. Only one other had managed to sit, a Quatten lady as brown as Dactyl. How was Dactyl?

The stray thought did him no good. His shoulder screamed, long, piercing, shrill. It didn’t let up. An eon must have passed.

You’ll think only the thoughts I give you. You know no one, nothing.

Searing pain knocked Lepsi to the ground, tormenting him, driving the commands from his shoulder into the indelible parts of his memory. Long after the initial twinges eased, the agony gripping every muscle continued to keep him on his face,. This world’s idea of sunrise and sunset — the fog darkening then lightening again — passed twice. What had he agreed to?

Mary Pax: Beyond the Edge

Mary Pax: Beyond the Edge

Beyond the Edge: Blurb

Some truths are better left unfound.

For two years Craze’s dear friend, Lepsi, has been missing. The murmurings of a haunted spaceship might be a message and may mean his old pal isn’t dead. The possibility spurs Craze and Captain Talos to travel to uncharted worlds, searching. Out there, in an unfamiliar region of the galaxy beyond the Backworlds, they stumble upon a terrible truth.

Meanwhile, Rainly remains on Pardeep Station as acting planetlord, dealing with the discovery of her lover’s dark and brutal past. Alone and questioning her judgment, her introspection unlocks more than heartache. Latent protocols in her cybernetics activate, forcing her to face a sinister secret of her own.

In the far future, humanity settles the stars, bioengineering its descendents to survive in a harsh universe. This is the fourth book in the science fiction series, The Backworlds. A space opera adventure.

Amazon / AmazonUK / Nook / Smashwords / Kobo / Other Outlets

 

Mary Pax

Mary Pax

M. Pax– Inspiring the words she writes, she spends her summers as a star guide at Pine Mountain Observatory in stunning Central Oregon where she lives with the Husband Unit and two demanding cats. She writes science fiction and fantasy mostly. You can find out more by visiting her at: Website / FB / Twitter / Goodreads / Pinterest / Wattpad

Do Books and E-books Co-exist in Your Life?


I take books with me wherever I go. Who knows when I would have a few minutes on hand? Earlier these were big fat tomes, and I wouldn’t mind the weight because I was younger, my back was stronger.

But with e-books, I find I like reading on e-devices — I can still carry tomes, even multiple tomes, and my poor back is none the wiser.

E-books and Book Nostalgia

The co-existence of E-books and Paper Books

Since I read a few books in different genres at any given time, I can read paper books from the library at home, and carry the others in my e-devices. The library in Singapore is one of the best in the world, I think, in terms of service, and the stock and availability of the books it carries– so I’ll never stop reading paper books till it carries them. I can’t remember the last time I bought a paper book though.

So paper books from the library, and e-books that I buy– this how they co-exist for me. Do paper books and e-books co-exist for you? If so, how?

Vikas Swarup’s Six Suspects


Random House India sent me a bunch of books quite some time ago, but what with my novel, the A to Z Challenge  and deaths in the family, I haven’t posted many reviews. I read Six Suspects a few months ago, so my memory is a little hazy. I stuck in post-it notes though, which are now helping me remember details as I browse through the book again.

My Declared Bias: I read and write Literary stories and novels — so mysteries are not my favorite genre.

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 Six Suspects by Vikas Swarup Random House India

Six Suspects by Vikas Swarup

The blurb will tell you what the book is about: Seven years ago, Vivek ‘Vicky’ Rai, the playboy son of the Home Minister of Uttar Pradesh, murdered Ruby Gill at a trendy restaurant in New Delhi simply because she refused to serve him a drink. Now Vicky Rai is dead, killed at his farmhouse at a party he had thrown to celebrate his acquittal. The police search each and every guest. Six of them are discovered with guns in their possession, each of them steaming with a secret motive.

The novel looks at these suspects in flashback, elaborating these very motives. The resulting chapters make for easy reading, though the writing is somewhat stilted.

This is from one of the suspects, a mobile thief, who has taken a job as a servant:

I too, have taken my revenge on the Bhusiyas. Mr. S. P. Bhusiya, the adulterator, for instance, has no clue that the chicken curry he has been eating at dinner time is also adulterated. I spit in it liberally before laying it on the table.”

The plot held my interest at the beginning because Swarup tells us how each of the suspects is related to the other through strange and (increasingly) implausible circumstances. He also uses the backdrop of real events that made headlines in India. But the sub-plots soon entangle themselves into a tropical jungle thick with liana, and the only way to make sense of things in the end is to hack through it, which Swarup does, without much subtlety. I had the feeling this book could lose a few plotlines, and make better sense as a story.

The characters are told, not shown, and they’re not only cardboard, but also melodramatic. Couldn’t bring myself to care for them, one way or the other.

But Six Suspects does a good job of exposing the corruption which India continues to suffer from at all levels of bureaucracy, politics, media and business. Swarup does boil a vile cauldron of these, which stinks as much and as ‘authentically’ as India’s pandemic of corruption does in reality.

The book would have done better with a good editor, who could have balanced story and plot– as it is, Swarup fails in the project he seems to have taken up: write a mystery while highlighting the problems facing Indian society.

Why you could read it: It is an ‘easy’ read once you make your peace with the quality of the prose, and if you are interested in the new, ‘shining’ India, you could do worse than read this book. Some of the voices are interesting, and a few facets of this country, especially the difference between the appearance and reality of its ‘progress,’ have emerged rather well.

Why you could give it a miss: If you like your mysteries to be plausible in their telling, this book is not for you. The plot is riddled with twists and turns, but some of the coincidences are too convenient, and they happen to stock characters with no layers or complexity.

My crib: The editing. Not only do the book’s plotlines need better handling, but also the voices. The most inauthentic, (unsurprisingly, coming from an Indian author), is the Texan forklift operator who speaks British English instead of American– using words like air hostess instead of flight attendant, and pavement instead of sidewalk.

Bottomline, I wouldn’t recommend this book unless you snag it for free someplace and are interested enough in India to want to trawl through it.

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