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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Creative Writing and Hobby

I have a hobby of making bead jewellery. I attend bead shows every year, one of my guilty pleasures. The process of designing and handling natural stones silences my mind. It stimulates my creative side, especially when I am stuck in my writing.
Kazuri Copper Bracelet
This week, the writing challenge began when the protagonist in my novel (work in progress) fell in love. I had to get the romance right, for her age, and her innocence.

I made Kazuri bracelets, and this creative process cleared my thinking and helped me understand the kind of love the protagonist is looking for. So with the new bracelet dangling on my wrist, I’m all set to complete her love story.

Check more on Instagram: Kazuri Silver and Kazuri Stretchy - the beads used are a gift from a friend in Kenya.

Kazuri—the Swahili word meaning small and beautiful.

Link to Kazuri Story

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Timeline Process of the Novel

Me writing the timeline. 
I am half way through my novel and suddenly I know the ending. It’s really exciting.

I am a pantser for sure. I do not know what is happening next in the story and I do not write in a chronological order either.

I’ve experienced this with my first novel, The Beggar’s Dance. I was half way through the first draft and the ending came to me. This is when I wrote a timeline to have a clear vision of where the characters were in the story. Once I’d done that everything fell in place on it’s own.

It is happening again with my next novel. So I’ve got the timeline done. Now it’s all about filling the blanks.

Photo: Me writing the timeline. I didn’t know that my dog, Zorro, was resting behind me. Glad my hubby took this picture

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Judge, 23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards

I was very excited when I received a great review from  "Judge, 23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards,” on my novel, The Beggar’s Dance:

The following is the judges's review:

Quote
The story opens with an intriguing and grabbing hook.

The plot is intriguing because it’s a foreign situation for us. We like Juma and we want to keep reading to see if he survives the streets. He grows through the loss of his mother and having to be on his own. We have great sympathy for Juma. His voice is just right for his age and situation, so we are intrigued by him. He tries to improve himself, makes mistakes and learns from them. Well done.

The voice of Juma is young and foreign, so it feels real and draws us in. It's clear you had a great heart for this story and it comes through in the writing.

The dictionary in the back is a nice touch and helpful. And I like that you still define the words within their context. The writing is clean and easy to read.
Unquote

Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding.” See below evaluation as received for The Beggar's Dance.

Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5
Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5
Plot and Story Appeal: 4
Character Appeal and Development: 4
Voice and Writing Style: 4

Monday, February 1, 2016

What inspired me to write my first Novel - The Beggar's Dance


When I was ten years old, growing up in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, one evening, I watched a young boy (about eight years old) with his mother, begging. I wondered why I was in the comfort of a car, enjoying an icecream treat and he was on the sidewalk begging? I couldn’t understand so I went back to find him, but never saw him. For a very long time, I would think of him and try to figure out how he’d have spent his day and survived—not realizing that I was writing The Beggar’s Dance all along. It took me many years to understand that there was nothing special about me; I was just born lucky. This childhood encounter was the seed that led to the unfolding of Juma’s story.

The protagonist, Juma, is my imagination of a beggar I once met. He seeks freedom from the life of a beggar. It's his inner spirit that leads him on a journey of hope and survival. 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Sadhana Shivdasani - my imaginary guru

I was three years old when my dad took me to the movie theatre, in Mbeya, Tanzania, where we lived. I discovered how grand our world was through the Hindi Cinema. It was magic. I was mesmerized with the songs, colours and language as I watched the movie Rajkumar, starring Sadhana. I was completely in love with the actress. She was a beauty—her voice, her hair, her smile, her fashion—everything about her was a reflection of what I wanted to become. I can go on forever speaking of this beauty queen.
By age five I was certain that Sadhana and I were destined to be together. So I asked my dad if he could marry her.
“I’m already married to your mother,” Dad said.
“But Sadhana is so beautiful,” I said.
"So is your mother."
Now let me make it clear that I love my mum very much and she is a complete beauty as well. But Sadhana was someone I desperately wanted to meet. Sure enough my scheme of splitting my parents and having my dad marry Sadhana didn’t work. So I captured her in my imagination, think up a dialogue then act and pretend to be her. She became my imaginary guru.


When I watched her in Waqt, a Yash Chopra production, released in 1967, I wished I had a piano to play music and sing like her. Instead I danced and swirled my body around a curtain and sang the song, smiled, played pretend. My family would laugh at me. But I did not let my imagination die, because Sadhana kept me alive.
I remember every Sadhana movie and where I'd watched it. Such as Ek Phool Do Mali at Shan theatre, in Nairobi, Kenya. Or many more memorable movies like Intequam, Arzoo, Mera Sayaa, Mere Mehboob, I’d seen them in Dar es Salaam with my parents, mostly at Empire Cinema or Avalon theatre.




I had not seen Woh Kaun Thi, which was released in 1964. Mum had told me the story and I’d dreamed to watch it one day. Then finally, it was showing at Cameo Cinema when I was around eleven years old, but it was rated as not suitable for children due to a ghost story. I was really mad at my dad when he could not convince the ticket master to allow me to watch the movie. I cried and cried. Then at age thirteen, when I lived in Arusha, Tanzania, Woh Kaun Thi was showing at Metropole Cinema, a special Saturday afternoon show. No one realized how important this movie was for me. I could not convince any one to go with me, but my aunt gave me money for the admission. So I walked to the theatre, got myself a ticket, and finally watched the movie—alone.


Though, Sadhana quietly disappeared from the Hindi Cinema in early seventies, she remained my imaginary guru.

Rest in Peace, Sadhana Shivdasani (September 2, 1941 - December 25, 2015)

(video clips shared from various You Tube channel)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Downsize my Home: What a Joy

The month of July has started with so much happiness. I feel energetic and excited about life itself.

Wow! what a joy to downsize my home. I can't even remember the half things that I gave away. It's amazing when one does not miss the materials they once had. 

And when my 89 year old uncle-in-law came to visit, he blessed us (hubby and me) with much happiness and love. I felt that we'd made the perfect decision ever. The best was the flowers he brought for us, which we're enjoying on our patio. 


Monday, March 9, 2015

Celebrating The Beggar's Dance

Reading an excerpt from
The Beggar's Dance
The Beggar's Dance book launch was a celebration with people who supported me during this five year writing journey.

Joyce Gram introducing me
www.gramediting.com

My editor Joyce Gram shared her story about how much she enjoyed working on this project before introducing me.






 
The party getting started - emcee Liz Schofield

I am blessed with family and friends who helped at the event - my husband, my son, my sister-in-law Zain, my brother, my goddaughter and two friends, Rozy and Zahra, and fantastic emcee Liz Schofield.


Book signing with Gloria Barkley
www.gloriabarkley.ca


Highlights worth mentioning:

  • My mum crying before I had even started the presentation.
  • Gloria Barkley attending and getting my book  signed.
  • Me wearing high heels for the three hours. 


Moments I shall cherish forever.