Fiction Lounge

Self-Editing Tip: Effective Story Endings.

Effective Endings

Effective story endings don’t merely satisfy the reader. It awes them.
An unforgettable ending will immediately make the reader want to re-read the book from the beginning. It will leave the reader chewing on the last scene long after closing the book. If your ending is effective, it will hook the reader into buying and reading your next book.

So, how do you create such an ending? What are the types of endings you can weave into your story? Let’s discuss.

Types of Story Endings:

The Happily Every After

In this ending, the author explains what happens to the characters in the future by following their lives. It is a way to tie up loose ends. These endings can sometimes feel rushed, so remember to foreshadow each character’s story arc.

Also, it doesn’t mean the ending has to be happy. Even if you’re leaving the reader heartbroken with a bittersweet ending, remember that it has to ‘feel’ right.

The Surprise

In this type of ending, the author switches up the story and take the readers by surprise. These ending are especially popular in Mystery or Thriller genres and are sometimes referred to as the ‘twist.’

Remember that though these endings are unexpected, they must make sense upon reflection. Again, there should be plenty of foreshadowing throughout the story for the twist to make sense.

The Cliffhanger

This ending is used when an author doesn’t want to reveal everything about the character because they have a sequel in mind. It seems like the close of a chapter and gets the reader excited about the next.

But these are also the most controversial of all endings, especially because they are so hard to do well. If you are not careful, you’ll make the reader feel cheated instead of satisfied, especially more so if you’re a new writer and the reader doesn’t know when (or if) you’ll write the sequel!

The best way to create a cliffhanger ending is to tidy up all the plot points so the reader is satisfied, but let them know that a lot more is coming the character’s way.

The Perfect Loop

This type of ending brings the reader back to the opening line/scene and feels like their journey has come full circle. This ending requires planning and editing to feel authentic instead of forced.

The Moral

Sometimes, the last paragraph or the last line sums up what the author wanted to convey to the reader all along. Remember not to sound preachy though!

Now, let’s discuss how to craft a satisfying ending that ‘wows’ the reader.

How to Write Effective Story Endings.

Effective Story Endings are Born from the Story’s Conflict.

The conflict gives readers the reason to keep turning the pages of the book. In the end, the readers expect a payoff. They want to know the answer to the question you have been asking.

Effective Story Endings are a Result of the Character’s Actions.

Yup. Your character’s actions. Things you described in the beginning and middle of your story. Not hand of God. No deus ex machina, which, by the way, is the topic I will cover for X.

Endings are much more satisfying if the character makes them happen. The character faces the conflict head-on and a battle ensues. Maybe they’ll win or maybe they won’t. Either way, the reader is there to cheer them on. Now, wouldn’t they feel cheated if the fight were ‘fixed?’

Satisfying Story Endings Make the Reader Feel.

Happy. Heartbroken. Pensive. Thrilled.

If you bring your characters and the conflict to life between the pages, the readers will care.

Here’s a cool poster to help you remember.

Effective Story Endings

Further Reading

The Last Fifty Pages: The Art and Craft of Unforgettable Endings by James Scott Bell.

Elements of Fiction Writing: Beginnings, Middles and Ends by Nancy Kress.

What kind of ending do you like best? Do you ever face problems while crafting your endings? Let me know in the comments.

Sign up to my newsletter for more tips like these. Subscribers get to download Self-Edit Your Fiction Like a Pro free.

Next up on the blog: F for Find & Replace.
– Dola.

Self-Editing Tip: Dialogues in Fiction

Editing dialogues in fiction

Dialogues in fiction writing is a vast topic. So much so, that whole books have been written on this topic. It would’ve been a folly to cover everything about dialogues in a single blog post, so I thought of giving you a handy checklist instead–something you can use every time you sit down with your red pen to edit dialogues in your fiction manuscript. Here it is:

Dialogue in Fiction: A Checklist

  • Dialogue in fiction has three purposes: increase tension, advance plot, and reveal character. If your dialogue doesn’t do either of these, cut it off.
  • Use dialogue to miscommunicate. Have characters lie. What is left unsaid or hinted at increases conflict.
  • Give your characters different voices. Have them chose different words, and speak with varying rhythms and styles. Make sure not all the characters in your book sound alike. Use appropriate words for your character, for example kids speak differently than adults.
  • Don’t explain everything. Dialogue isn’t like real world conversation.
  • Dialogue isn’t fluff; it’s important communication between characters.
  • Avoid repetition of character names after each uttered sentence. What’s being said should be distinct enough to leave no doubt as to who’s speaking. That said, if the dialogues go on for some length, use character names here and there so as not to leave your reader confused.
  • Keep your dialogues tight. In real life, people hesitate, use words like ums and ers. In fiction, skip these pointless words.
  • Allow characters to speak over one another, cutting off each other’s words. Just like it happens in real life.
  • Limit dialogue tags to the basics of said and asked.
  • Don’t have pages and pages of dialogue. Alternate it with action, description, and narration. Don’t permit characters to speak at length without interruption, whether it’s by another character or an action or some description. Give the characters some actions while they speak.
  • Don’t use dialogue to preach your pet message.
  • And, Punctuate dialogue correctly.

Here’s an infographic that you can download to help you remember correct punctuation for dialogues.

Punctuating Dialogue.

Further Reading:

  1. Dialogue: The Art of Verbal Action for Page, Stage, and Screen by Robert McKee.
  2. How to Write Dazzling Dialogue: The Fastest Way to Improve Any Manuscript by James Scott Bell.
  3. Writing Vivid Dialogue: Professional Techniques for Fiction Authors (Writer’s Craft Book 16) by Rayne Hall.
  4. Internal Dialogue (Busy Writer’s Guides Book 7) by Marcy Kennedy.
  5. Self-Edit Your Fiction Like a Pro. Get your free copy by subscribing to my newsletter.

Some writers excel at writing dialogues. Others have to work really hard to get it just right. Which category are you in? Let me know in the comments.

Coming up: E for Endings. Stay tuned.
– Dola.

Self-Editing Tip: Comma Splice

What’s a Comma Splice?

A comma splice is an error. It is a sentence in which a comma is incorrectly used to separate independent clauses in a compound sentence. A comma can be used to create a compound sentence, but such a sentence would need more than just a comma to be correct.

For example:
Your report is late, we were depending on you.
Fish travel in schools, whales travel in pods.

To confirm there is a coma splice, check if you can replace the comma with a period. Since the above comma splices can be divided into two sentences, it confirms that the original sentences are indeed compound sentences.

Your report is late. We were depending on you.
Fish travel in schools. Whales travel in pods.

The above examples are simple. A comma splice can get confusing in a long sentence when there are other commas present.

For example:
When I was sixteen, my mother gave me a pretty, milky-white pearl necklace, it belonged to Lady Ashley Lamb, an ancestor who married beneath her social status.

The third comma in the above sentence is creating a comma splice and is incorrect, but the other commas are correctly used. The sentence can be easily fixed thus:

When I was sixteen, my mother gave me a pretty, milky-white pearl necklace. It belonged to Lady Ashley Lamb, an ancestor who married beneath her social status.

Correcting a Comma Splice

Here are some common ways to fix a comma splice:

1. Separate the comma splice into two sentences using a period. But be careful of overdoing this because this results in short, choppy sentences–not something that is always desirable. Long comma splices are good candidates for this correction method.

When I was sixteen, my mother gave me a pretty, milky-white pearl necklace. It belonged to Lady Ashley Lamb, an ancestor who married beneath her social status.

2. Follow the comma with and, but, or, or another coordinating conjunction. This is the most common method of fixing a comma splice.

Fish travel in schools, but whales travel in pods.

3. Replace the comma with a semicolon. This method works best when you think the sentence doesn’t sound right with a coordinating conjunction.

Your report is late; we were depending on you.


  • A comma splice occurs when only a comma is used to separate two independent clauses.
  • To confirm there is a comma splice, see if you can replace the comma with a period. If so, the sentence is indeed a comma splice and should be fixed.
  • To correct a comma spice you can (1) use a period to break the two sentences, (2) separate the two parts using a comma followed by a coordinating conjunction, or (3) use a semicolon to separate the parts.

Further Reading

Between You & Me – Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Morris
Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style

Have you written a comma splice before without knowing what it was? Do you think you will be able to recognize one and fix it after reading this? Do you have a question regarding comma splices? Let me know in the comments.

The next self-editing tip will be D for Dialogues. Stay tuned!
Want my editing tips in your inbox? Subscribe to my newsletter and download Self-Edit Your Fiction Like a Pro FREE. 
– Dola.

Self-Editing Tip: Blurb

Blurb or Book Description

Blurbs sell books. That’s their primary function—to get your books in the hands of readers. Its goal is not to give away your story but to compel the reader to pick up the book. You might know of it as a book description that is printed on the back cover of the book or appears on the description field of retailers like Amazon.

In this blog post, I’ll show you what to include in a blurb and help you deconstruct a blurb of a self-published bestselling novel to put things in perspective.

Parts of a Blurb


This is your hook, your chance to grab the reader by their throat. Make it short and make it punchy.

Most authors do not use a tagline, which is a mistake in this mobile age where almost everyone is browsing on their cell phones and only a few lines of the description text is displayed. This is your chance to make the reader click on the Read More button to read the rest of the blurb. Put it in bold—make it stand out.

Main Character & their Primary Conflict:

You might have a great story, but the primary reason a reader will pick up a book is if they care enough for your main character. This is the paragraph where you need to introduce your main character. Tell us in a sentence who they are and what they want.

Make the next sentence about their conflict—the challenge they are facing to get their goal. In the third sentence, raise the stakes. Tell the reader what your character stands to lose. Their job? Their sanity? The love of their life? How about their world and everyone in it? The higher the stakes the better. Without consequences, a conflict lacks drama. Some authors also like to add a dramatic question in this paragraph to establish what’s at stake.

Add some paragraphs, some white space here so the reader doesn’t have to look at a big blob of text.

Selling Paragraph:

In this paragraph, show the reader why this book is for them. It’s also an opportunity to let them know what genre the book is, if it is part of a series etc. Identify a bestselling book or an author or a famous main character that shares the market of your book and mention it in this paragraph, so that you have an opportunity to let their fans know that your book is what they have been looking for.

Call to Action:

Most authors end their blurb with a synopsis and hope the reader will scroll up and buy. The CTA asks the reader to do it, which much improves the chances of it happening.

Deconstructing a blurb:

Let’s see a blurb in action. This blurb is from Mark Dawson’s The Cleaner. Mark Dawson is a million-selling author and ranks among the Top 100 authors on amazon dot com.

MI6 created him. Now they want him dead. //Punchy tagline.

John Milton is an assassin for the British government, but he’s old and tired and wants to quit. Unfortunately, that’s impossible. Milton knows too much. The only way out of his job is in a box – there are no exceptions. //Main Character.

Milton goes on the run and meets a young mother who needs his help. Her son has been tempted by a life with a glamorous gang and the charismatic criminal who leads it. Milton must get the boy out of trouble – before it’s too late. //The Conflict.

And when his old agency sends another agent after him, the odds against him are stacked even higher. //Rising Stakes.

If you like Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp, and Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne, you won’t be able to put down the compulsively addictive John Milton series. //Selling Paragraph.

Scroll up and click Look Inside or Buy NOW. //CTA.

Notice how long the blurb is? Only 150 words. You may take a few more, but short is your best friend here. Normally, 150-250 words is the sweet spot you want to hit.

Further Reading

Writing Book Blurbs and Synopses: How to sell your manuscript to publishers and your indie book to readers (Writer’s Craft 19) by Rayne Hall

Do you have a question about blurbs? Did you find this post informative? Let me know in the comments.

Coming up tomorrow: C for Comma Splice. See you with a new tip.
Want my editing tips in your inbox? Subscribe to my newsletter and download Self-Edit Your Fiction Like a Pro FREE.
– Dola.

Self-Editing Tips: Apostrophe

Apostrophes are not that simple, no matter what people might say. As English language has evolved, their use has become increasingly complex. It doesn’t help that different style guides give contrasting advice regarding its use. I am an editor and in my line of work, I see even experienced writers getting confused when it comes to these little pests. If you can get just this one thing right while self-editing, you’ll save your editors a lot of time and effort. Believe me, they’ll love you for it.

Apostrophes are always the closing single quotation marks. So, the first thing to remember is that the tail of the apostrophe always points to the left—something to watch out for if you’re starting a word with an apostrophe. For example: ’Twas dark outside. The reason we need to pay special attention is that most writing programs like MS Word autocorrect the opening apostrophe ’ to a single opening quotation mark ‘ like this. You’ll have to manually change it back.

Apostrophes are mostly used for three purposes:

  1. To specify contractions or omissions.
  2. To indicate possession.
  3. For plurals.

Let’s explore each of these one by one.


These are used to show that a letter (or more) has been left out. To check if we’ve used the contraction correctly, you might need to expand it and check. Here are some examples:

You’re late for dinner = You are late for dinner.

He’d like some ice cream = He would like some ice cream.

It’s a long walk home = It is a long walk home.
It’s been a long night = It has been a long night.

Note: Be careful not to confuse it’s with its. The latter is a possessive pronoun (and a topic for another blog post) not a contraction, and so it doesn’t take an apostrophe. Did you know that it’s and its are among the most common confusing words?

Also note: The only case where we use two apostrophes if two letters have been left out is when they are separated by another letter. For example: rock ’n’ roll. And make sure both the tails are pointing left.

Possessive Apostrophes

When indicating possession, we add an apostrophe after the thing that is doing the possessing.

Apostrophes for singular nouns is simple—just add an apostrophe followed by an s. For example:

Tim’s shoes = The shoes of Tim.

This situation can get tricky if the name ends with an s such as Rob Williams or Miley Cyrus (and this is where I see most authors tripping up). To show possession, you need to add an apostrophe after the s. But remember: There’s no fixed rule about adding another s after the apostrophe. You could drop the additional s if it causes difficulty in pronunciation. Follow your instincts and write it as you’d speak it. If you’re confused, read it aloud and see if how you wrote it makes sense. For example:

Did you see Miley Cyrus’s new video?” makes more sense than saying “Did you see Miley Cyrus’ new video?” But “Rob Williams’ new video” sounds better than “Rob Williams’s new video.”

But what if our noun was plural? In such cases, we need to add the s first to make the word plural and then add the apostrophe. For example:

The farmers’ market” means a market of many farmers. If we had written it as “The farmer’s market,” it would have meant the market of one farmer.

The same rule applies for family names too. Where you put the apostrophe depends on whether you are talking about the whole family or just one member.

In cases of plural names ending with an s, in case we want to refer to the whole family, we need to make their name plural by adding -es and then an apostrophe. For example:

The Woodses’ house is as pretty as they come.

If the house belonged to any one member, we would have said: Mr. Woods’s house is as pretty as they come.

However, not all plurals are made by adding an s or an -es, are they? There are irregular plurals (woman, but women) and to make their possessives, we need to add the apostrophe and then an s. For example:

The women’s section has better choices.

Note: Possessive pronouns don’t take an apostrophe. Remember “its”? 😉


To specify plurals of lower-case letters, use an apostrophe. For example:

Do’s and don’ts of fiction writing. Because “dos and don’ts of fiction writing” won’t make much sense, would it?

To specify plurals of upper-case letters, you can safely drop the apostrophe as there is no ambiguity as such. For example:

The students need their IDs to enter the building.

Further Reading:

I highly recommend Fucking Apostrophes by Simon Griffin. That small book packs a punch.

For style related information regarding apostrophes, check out The Chicago Manual of Style if you use US English or New Hart’s Rules if you use UK English.

A final thought:

We are humans. We will make mistakes. So, don’t beat yourself up if you misplace an apostrophe or two. And if you have a doubt or a question, please feel free to comment and ask. 😊

Are you a pro when it comes to apostrophes or do you find them confusing? Did this post help to put things in perspective? Let me know.

Coming up tomorrow: B for Blurbs. See you with a new tip.
Want my editing tips in your inbox? Subscribe to my newsletter and download Self-Edit Your Fiction Like a Pro FREE.

– Dola.

#AtoZChallenge Theme Reveal: Self-Editing Tips for Writers.

Beginning April 1, Mondays through Saturdays, I will share a self-editing tip for writers on my blog. And since this is for the A to Z April Blogging Challenge, every tip will have something to do with the alphabets A-Z, in chronological order.

26 Steps To a Better Writer!

Tips from a professional editor.

If you are a writer, check this page every day for a new way you can improve your writing. The tips may be related to the art and craft of writing, developing brilliant characters and plots, finding your author voice, grammar and punctuation, or even how to make MS Word work for you! So, whether you write blogs, fiction, creative non-fiction, articles, or academic books, there will be something for you here!

Can’t wait for April to get started?
Check out my Freebies page to subscribe to my fortnightly editing newsletter and download Self-Edit Your Fiction Like a Pro free. The 27-page PDF offers self-editing tips for fiction writers.

See you in April!
– Dola.

P.S: Do you want to join the #AtoZChallenge? Hurry! Official sign-ups close April 7.

Guest Post – Importance of research in mythological Fiction by Usha Narayanan

I have Usha Narayanan–Bestselling author of Mythological Fiction–on my blog today, talking about the importance of research while writing mythological fiction, especially when the possibility of hurting religious sentiments is always present when writing about gods. Over to Usha.

You have focused on a very significant issue, Dola. Thank you for that and also for featuring me on your blog! To me, it is important to capture the spirit of our epics and puranas, not belittle or mock the gods or make them speak and act in a coarse manner just to attract eyeballs! Many of us are unfamiliar with our ancient literature and my aim is to focus attention on their richness and the way in which the sages embedded deep truths within their colourful stories. My intention is to promote introspection and elevate our thinking to the level of the gods, rather than bring them down to ours. This respectful treatment makes it unlikely that anyone will be offended by my stories.

Even when I add doses of fiction to write about Ganesha’s or Ravana’s love for their brides in ‘Prem Purana,’ I ensure that the stories are not just entertaining but also elevating. You will see how the gods and asuras exhibit human emotions like jealousy and despair, but the final takeaway is always love, dharma and faith. Another key element is ensuring that the women are portrayed as strong, significant individuals, for I deeply believe in that. The women in ‘Prem Purana’, and Mayavati in ‘Pradyumna: Son of Krishna’ and its sequel ‘The Secret of God’s Son,’ are equal in strength and wisdom to men, if not superior.

During my research I avoid bizarre interpretations and controversial angles that I feel are often written in order to garner publicity. Instead, I write stories that I hope will enable the younger generation to appreciate the wisdom of our ancients, and that they will see how relevant they still are. I hope ‘Prem Purana’ will provide readers an enjoyable experience. Through your blog, I request readers to post a few lines on Amazon and Goodreads once they have read the book. I’m waiting!

Do check out Usha’s latest book Prem Purana that features three love stories of deities and asuras.


Usha Narayanan
Blog Tour by The Book Club of PREM PURANA by Usha Narayanan
Stories of love and extraordinary devotion 
No one is untouched by love, not even devas and asuras, kings and nymphs. And when they face life’s unexpected tribulations, their love also undergoes trials. Read how Ganesha took myriad forms to please Riddhi, Siddhi and Buddhi, how Ravana shared an unbreakable bond with his true love, Mandodari and how Nala and Damayanti’s relationship was tested till almost nothing remained. 
Tormented by passion, wracked by betrayal, torn by the agony of separation, love in its many splendored forms is the origin of these incredibly endearing stories of Prem Purana. 
Ganesha stood with Brahma’s daughter Siddhi on the sacred soil of Kailasa, offering worship to the linga that Parvati had installed. He glanced at his companion’s proud face, knowing that he had embarked on a rough path in attempting to win her over. For now, however, he had to focus on his confrontation with Parasurama whom Shiva had blessed with his great axe.
Siddhi watched from a safe distance as Ganesha bowed to the warrior and requested him to wait until Shiva granted him permission to enter. But Parasurama angrily pushed him aside and strode towards the cave. Ganesha intercepted him, causing the angry warrior to raise his axe to threaten him.
Finding that his antagonist would not listen to mere words, Shiva’s son extended his trunk by many lengths and wound it around Parasurama 100 times. He then raised the warrior into the skies so that he could see the seven mountains, the seven oceans and the seven islands of the earth below him. Then he whirled him around and showed him all the lokas including Vaikunta, where Lord Vishnu presided on his lotus throne with Devi Lakshmi. With his yogic power, Shiva’s son granted Parasurama a vision of Goloka, the purest of realms, where blue-hued Krishna resided with Radha and his gopis.
After showing Parasurama how insignificant he was when compared to the primordial universe spanning endless time and space, Gajamukha dropped him gently on the ground outside Shiva’s cave. He smiled at Siddhi who stood dazed, clinging to a tree for support, as she too had been granted the supernal vision by Ganesha’s grace. She realized now that her cheerful friend was called Vakratunda not because of his crooked trunk, but because he was the one who straightened out the crooked.
Parasurama recovered from his stupor and saw that he was lying on the ground at Ganesha’s feet. Incensed by this humiliation, he sprang to his feet and took up his mighty axe. The parasu hurtled towards Ganesha with a deafening roar. Siddhi trembled, certain that her friend would not survive the dire power of his father’s weapon.
Strangely enough, Gajamukha made no attempt to counter Parasurama’s axe. Instead, he joined his hands in worship to the parasu and stood calmly as if reconciled to his death.
Siddhi heard a horrific crack as the parasu struck one of Ganesha’s tusks and severed it completely. It fell to the ground with a crash, smeared in blood, looking like a crystal mountain covered in red chalk. Shiva rushed out of the cave, followed by Parvati, who turned into fiery Durga when she saw that her son had been wounded. She discerned what had happened and raged at the warrior who stood before her with the axe that had returned to his hand.
‘O Parasurama!’ she said. ‘You may be learned and wise and the son of a great sage, yet you have allowed wrath to overcome you. You received your parasu from your guru, Shiva, but abused your gift by using it to wound his son. Ganesha, on the other hand, allowed the axe to sever his tusk due to his respect for his father’s weapon. What next will you do, Parasurama? Will you assail mighty Shiva himself? Presumptuous warrior! I curse you this day that though you are an avatara of my beloved Vishnu, no one on earth or heaven will ever worship you!’
Parasurama cowered before the angry goddess whose fury grew by the moment. ‘It is only due to Ganesha’s forbearance that you are still alive, for he can kill a hundred thousand Parasuramas in the blink of an eye,’ she said. ‘But I am unwilling to be so tolerant and will end your life today!’
Durga rushed towards him, with her trident aimed at his head. Parasurama stood unarmed and unresisting. He closed his eyes, joined his hands together and surrendered to Krishna.
‘Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya!’ Parasurama chanted, invoking his god with his last breath.
At once, Krishna appeared before him, lustrous and omnipotent, granting him protection with one raised hand. Durga stopped mid-stride and gazed at Krishna. Her wrath vanished, dissolving like mist in the light of the sun. A beatific smile adorned her face. She offered him a reverential welcome along with Shiva.
Krishna addressed them gently, a calm smile on his face. ‘I have come here to rescue my devotee,’ he said. ‘Though Parasurama has committed a grievous sin, I request you to forgive him, Parvati. He is your son too, for you are the divine mother, the refuge of all creation. As for you, Parasurama, you have to undertake a severe tapasya to attain forgiveness. Worship the Devi who animates the three realms in the form of the gentle Gauri and the fierce Durga. Seek the blessings of Ganesha who is now Ekadanta, the lord with one tusk.’
Having offered his counsel, the lord returned to Goloka. Parasurama prostrated himself before the gods and laid his axe at Ganesha’s feet in tribute. He then retreated to a distant mountain to begin his worship. Parvati took her son into her mansion, to coddle him after his fierce encounter.


Grab your copy @ | | Flipkart


About the Author


Usha Narayanan had a successful career in advertising, radio and corporate communications before becoming a full-time author. Her bestselling novels span multiple genres: ‘The Madras Mangler’, a suspense thriller; ‘Love, Lies and Layoffs’ (Harlequin) and ’Doctor Stalker Spy’ (Juggernaut), lighthearted romances; ‘Pradyumna: Son of Krishna’, ‘The Secret of God’s Son’ and her latest ‘Prem Purana’ (all from Penguin) that have been praised as ‘Indian mythology at its fiercest and finest.’ Two new books are in the offing. When she is not travelling, writing or editing, Usha reads everything from thrillers and romances to the puranas.

Click here to check out all the titles by the author…

Praise for Usha’s books:
‘Like the best of our mythological tales, Pradyumna: Son of Krishna too is a multilayered one…There is valour, there is cowardice, there is glory, there is shame, there is sex, lies and deception.’
The Secret of God’s Son is a compelling read on mythological tales.’ – The Sentinel


Prem Purana is so good! I am impressed at how Usha can write about Ganesha with so much personality while at the same time showing him as a cosmic divine being. ’ Dr Laura Gibbs, Professor, Indian Epics, University of Oklahoma 
You can stalk her @
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MY GOALS FOR 2018: Never too old to start dreaming


It’s that time of the year again–time to take stock of the year gone by and time to make new plans for the coming year. 2017 has been a mixed bag, both at the professional as well as personal fronts. While I had zero famine months the whole year (thank you dear clients), I suffered from ill health in the second half of the year (Jaundice, Tennis Elbow, and Cervical) which meant some missed deadlines and unhappy clients. I also failed to publish my novel which I’ve been working on since ages. Therefore, setting–and prioritizing–my goals for 2018 became all the more important. While I did set goals every year, they were in my journal where nobody could see them. This is the first time I’m posting them online, hoping that doing so will help keep me accountable. So, here we are, my goals for 2018:

Professional Editing







Here are the things I will aim for w.r.t my freelance editing career:

  • Join an international society of editors, probably the SfEP, in January. A membership of such a prestigious organization would mean I’d uphold excellent editing standards every time. My clients will know they are dealing with a professional who takes her business, and their manuscripts, seriously.
  • Acquire the necessary training credits and proof of experience needed to move on to the Intermediate level before July.
  • Offer a wider selection of editorial services. Possible services could be translation, transcription, editing graphic novels or academic editing. Explore more possibilities as and when I find them.
  • Enroll in diplomas/ refresher courses/ workshops as a part of continuing professional development.
  • Improve my editing process by doing the following:
  1. Improve editing speed. My current speed is approx. 1000 words per hour.
  2. Learn the use of macros to do time-consuming tasks quickly and efficiently.
  3. Track the time taken to complete projects so I can estimate better and meet all deadlines, every time.
  • Improve my marketing efforts by doing these things:
  1. Improve the look and functionality of my website. Have been trying to do it myself for a long time. Probably best to take the help of a professional, especially since the said professional is my husband 😉
  2. Ensure branding across all platforms, whether online or offline.
  3. Get my visiting cards printed.
  4. Start my editing newsletter. Start with a manageable frequency—perhaps once a fortnight—then increase frequency to once a week by the end of the year.
  5. Write a lead magnet to offer to my newsletter subscribers in exchange for signing up.
  6. Start blogging regularly on things related to editing/writing/reading. Aim for one blog post a week. Integrate video blogging if possible.
  7. Publish regularly on the website and Facebook page.
  8. Make a list of ideas for blog posts in advance and keep adding to the list.
  9. Write a series of booklets on editing to help authors. Publish the first two booklets in 2018, hopefully in March and September.
  10. Update my regular resume into a functional resume.
  11. Cold-email publishers for freelance editing opportunities.
  12. Create and use Messenger bots to complement my existing marketing strategies.
  • Meet CA and streamline my business process. Take advice on registering a company, paying taxes etc. Create a separate bank account for my editing business.


Professional Writing










Below are the things I plan to do for my author-self. Wish me luck, friends, because last year I failed on *all* of these. 🙁 Hope the coming year will prove to be better.

  • Improve my writing process.
  1. Write for two hours every day.
  2. Create a writing timetable and a detailed publishing schedule and stick to it.
  3. Purchase Dragon. Use dictation for writing to improve efficiency.
  • Streamline my publishing schedule.
  1. Finish writing Poison Pen, the first book in the mystery series I’ve been planning, by 15 January 2018 and send for beta-reading.
  2. Publish Poison Pen in February.
  3. Publish at least four fiction books of the same series in 2018.
  4. Publish two editing booklets in 2018. (Repeated, I know. But I *do* have to write them first 😉 )
  • Join ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors) towards the end of 2018.
  • Improve my marketing efforts.
  1. Create Author website and Facebook page. Ensure branding among the editing website as well as these.
  2. Start my author newsletter.
  3. Write a lead magnet to offer to newsletter subscribers.
  4. Learn how to use Facebook ads to get visibility and generate sales.
  5. Learn about Messenger bots and start using one.











Of course, I had to set goals for my favorite thing to do 🙂

  • Chose the reading goal as two books a week, which means reading 100 books in 2018, discounting 4 books for emergencies. This year I aimed for 52 books but I surpassed the goal and read sixty-three books as of 19 December 2017. Hope to close at sixty-five books. Gotta challenge myself harder 🙂
  • Use Goodreads reading challenge to stay on track.
  • Read more books related to the craft of writing and editing, say 30% of the total number of books I read. So, 30 books out of the 100 should be craft-related.
  • Review all books I read on the blog, even if they are short reviews.











This one is a toughie because these require my adherence *every single day*. Not sure how many I’ll be able to follow, or for how long, but I’ll aim for the stars for sure. 🙂 Well, here I go:

  • Regularize sleeping patterns. Wake up at 5 a.m. every day and sleep by 10 p.m.
  • Write Morning Pages every day. Write in a Gratitude Journal every night.
  • Maintain a detailed planner and bullet journal.
  • Exercise daily for one hour in the morning.
  • Take regular breaks during editing and writing. Follow Pomodoro method.
  • Join a gym and get fit.
  • Eat better.
  • Practice meditation, affirmation, and visualization.
  • Volunteer for the causes I believe in–AAP SM, Apna Sapna Vidyalaya, NaNoWriMo, and ICF.


Did you make it this far? Thanks! Go on now, tell me about *your* goals for 2018 in the comments. Better still, write a blog post and post the link here and I’ll make sure to hold you accountable to your goals. Together we win, remember?





Scorpio Superstar by Sundari Venkatraman

Print Length: 150 pages

Publisher: Flaming Sun (Indie published) 

Publication Date: September 16, 2017

Sold by: Amazon Asia-Pacific Holdings Private Limited

Language: English

Available on Kindle Unlimited 

Genre: Romance 

Kollywood superstar Chandrakanth, also known as CK, is a true-blue Scorpio, communicating with his eyes and believing in showing more than telling.

His website and social media consultant Ranjini is a Piscean through and through, fiercely independent, believing in affirmations and declarations.

It is love at first glance for Chandrakanth when he meets Ranjini; so strong are his feelings that he proposes marriage on their second meeting. Ranjini, fascinated by his starry persona, gets swept off her feet. The two get married without much of the world knowing—including CK’s aunt and ex.

The two women set out to settle their scores on Ranjini who suddenly begins to feel a strain in what was a fairy tale wedding.

While passion reigns on the one hand, there’s trouble in paradise on the other. Although CK is by her side, the Scorpio in him expects her to trust him implicitly. But can the Pisces in Ranjini accept him at his word?

Does the tension then get to their relationship? Can love survive without affirmations? Or is declaration the only way to profess one’s love?

It would be great if you can add this book to your TBR

Sundari Venkatraman is an indie author who has 22 titles to her name, all Top 100 Bestsellers on Amazon India, Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada and Amazon Australia in both romance as well as Asian Drama categories. Her latest hot romances have all been on #1Bestseller slot in Amazon India for over a month.

Even as a kid, Sundari absolutely loved the ‘lived happily ever after’ syndrome as she grew up reading all the fairy tales she could lay her hands on, Phantom comics, Mandrake comics and the like. It was always about good triumphing over evil and a happy end. 

Soon, into her teens, Sundari switched her attention from fairy tales to Mills & Boon. While she loved reading both of these, she kept visualising what would have happened if there were similar situations happening in India; to a local hero and heroine. Her imagination took flight and she always lived in a rosy cocoon of romance over the years. 

Then came the writing – a true bolt out of the blue! And Sundari Venkatraman has never looked back.

Click here to check out all the titles by the author…

Sundari Venkatraman is a member of the panel of the #PentoPublish #contest on #AmazonIndia #KDP

Watch a video:

Media spotlight:

Amazon Newsroom

The Hindu

Media Infoline

Tech Observer

You can stalk her @


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Spotlight – The Royal Roommate by P G Van



My purpose in life is to protect you… 
Sid is Army strong and sinfully sexy. He is tasked to investigate a woman suspected of having connections with a rebel group. The style of investigation was not his choice, and he is asked to move in as the roommate of the person of interest, Amy. 
Amy was thrilled to start her internship in San Francisco and wasn’t expecting a man with rock-solid abs as her roommate. The moment she laid eyes on him, she knew he was bad news. 
The attraction was undeniable and they both wondered how long they could hold on to their resolve. Sid didn’t want to sleep with a suspect even if she was wildly beautiful and sexy. Amy wasn’t interested in a fling. 
Just when Sid is about close his investigation and declare Amy’s innocence, he finds out something about her that changes everything. She becomes the most important person in his life.
Grab your copy @


About the author
P.G. Van
P.G. Van lives in San Francisco and she published her first novel, Destiny Decides… in October 2015 and cannot stop writing. She loves to spend time with family and is a strong believer of retail therapy (mostly shops for boots and purses!!). She enjoys giving her readers an escape to the world of love and romance.
You can stalk her @


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