Saturday, 30 June 2012

Weekly Drudgery

Deciding What to Read

As authors there’s a certain amount of consideration put into trying to figure out how to make your book stand out, and be something people will want to read. There have been studies and surveys about how people are most likely to discover a new book. (Apparently recommendations from friends is high on the list). But the actual experience of deciding what to read can be so much more complex (and unfortunately for authors, random) than a study ranking single methods of discovery. So I thought it would be fun to chronicle my thought process during most recent outing to the local library. 

Reason for going to the library at all: The book I had out (Little Children by Tom Perotta, the reasons I had selected that one can easily be inferred by anyone who’s read my earlier review on The Sheltering Sky) was about to be overdue, so I had to return it.  

Thoughts while walking to the library: I should probably pick up something with really good prose, to learn from. That book on the new arrivals shelf with the numbers on the cover was supposed to be by some talented Japanese guy, I think I’ll get that. (1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, which I mistakenly had been thinking was by the same guy who wrote Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, apparently being an American I think all talented Japanese authors are the same dude. Awkward.)  

Walking into the library: Some woman and her daughter were arriving at the same time I was. She started having a conversation with the librarian, so even though I instantly saw that the book I was looking for was not there I lingered around the new arrivals shelf so I could eavesdrop. While there I discovered that The Vow was apparently a book before it was made into a movie. My hand briefly went for it based purely on the instinct of being drawn to things I have a prior memory connection to. But then I remembered that I had zero interest in the movie so what were the chances I’d want to wade through it in book form. It turned out the woman’s conversation with the librarian was dullsville. So I moved on to the audiobooks. 
Our library has the saddest collection of audiobooks. I glanced it for something new, there wasn’t anything, so I moved on to the movies. Then quickly chastised myself: You’re here to get something with good prose. 

On to the fiction stacks. I aimlessly wandered into the third row, considered looping back around to the second row, but was blocked by the little girl I mentioned earlier. She came around the corner from the second row and gave me a strange expectant look as if to say: what the hell is taking you so long just pick something you idiot. (But that might have just been my imagination.) 

So I stayed in the third row, scanned the shelves to see if there were any authors I recognized. I was immediately distracted by a book that judging by the spine looked like it had a night sky on the cover. I pulled it out and much to my delight it not only had a night sky, it had vibrant green grass and a maroon bicycle. All it was missing was someone glamping (glamorous camping, google it, it’s awesome) in the background. I had pretty much decided on this book based on the cover alone. I opened it up, scanned the opening paragraph, they mentioned Biddeford, Maine, I’ve totally been there. I was hooked. Then I made the mistake of glancing at the book jacket description. Apparently the main character was some overweight dude who considered himself a loser. My elation at having chosen a book plummeted. Why on earth would I want to read a book about someone who doesn’t even like themselves, that doesn’t inspire much confidence that I’ll like them either. I put the book back. 

A few feet down the same shelf I saw Atonement by Ian McEwan. I’d seen the movie and loved it. Before I could pull it off the shelf I heard the little girl behind me, she was walking along the stacks dragging her fingers along the books as if it were a fence. Out from behind her hand I spotted Dr. Zhivago. (Side note: I have a bit of a thing for Russia.) I had made my choice. Dr. Zhivago it was! I picked it up and thought to myself: Bloody hell this thing is huge, (almost 600 pages). I sat it down and vowed to read it in the future when I had more time. 

I turned my attention back to Atonement. I flipped it open to see if the prose was as good as to be expected from Ian McEwan. It was. But I was saddened to see this copy, the pages were starting to separate from it’s binding. I remembered back to my experience with a poorly bound copy of Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I ended up not finishing the book based solely on the fact that it was a hassle to hold. So I put Atonement back, but as I did I noticed on the cover it said: By the Booker Prize Winning Author of Amsterdam. Well, if I’m looking for good prose a Booker Prize Winner is a good choice. I found Amsterdam two books down the shelf, it was delightfully small, and properly bound. I didn’t even bother to look to see what it was about. I was off to the librarian to check the book out. 

So, in conclusion: there are a lot of factors that are out of your control that decide if your book will get pulled off the shelf, so your best bet is to make the inside as good as possible, so if it does get selected the reader will not only finish it, but recommend it to friends. (Oh and make your MC cool that always helps me pick things :)

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Juicy Shockers #2

Time for another author interview. After our colourful endeavour last week, we have decided to keep our whacky rainbow scheme intact.

This week we have the beautiful Kristen Noel. No seriously, she is so pretty that we had to put up two pictures of her. 


She’s an anthropology graduate enthusiast whose first YA Fantasy Book Lionhead is scheduled to release this October. Talk about mix and match! Oh and she is being published by the awesome Neverland Publishing.

Check out her blog at , follow her ‏@enderawiggin and on Goodreads at She also has a facebook page for Lionhead at

Whew, that’s a lot of following to do! But trust us, it’s all worth it.

Now on to the questions! As usual Pineapple is Brighton and Lightning is Utsav and Splendid Kris is well...Splendid Kris.

Pineapple: 24 and nearly published. You are a step ahead of the two of us. When did you start writing and what was the first thing you wrote?

Splendid Kris: I started writing when I was very young. I'm not sure where I got the passion for it, but I guess it's because I used to devour books and finish them before I even got home from the library. I wrote my first story in 5th grade (about a squirrel!). I was really embarrassed because the principal of my elementary school somehow found out and wanted to read it over the loud speaker. I said no!

Lightning: You aren’t agented. But you have signed a publishing contract. How does this new route work? A new spell to a new world of publishing?

Splendid Kris: I honestly tried to get an agent and was asked for my full manuscript a couple of times, but no offers. Right now, I'm fine not having an agent because luckily I found a publisher willing to work with me and someone who's excited about my work. I'm so grateful for that, even if I don't have representation. I think you have to find whatever works for you and you need to get your work out there through whatever way you feel comfortable with. It's not always going to be a "traditional"
route. I queried both agents and publishers, but Neverland Publishing ended up being the one interested and passionate about my story.

Lightning: Your novel is named Lionhead. We have heard of Lionheart- the awful/awesome Jean Claude Van Damme movie ( So what does your novel have besides an angry growling Jean Claude Van Damme with a mane? Seriously, tell us everything (with a Kevin Spacey smile).

Splendid Kris: I've never seen that movie, I feel like I have to check it out now!
But my story revolves around a hardened thirteen year old girl, who has been abandoned by her parents, and accepted into Lionhead after she discovers she can shift into a fox. Amidst an unusual hatred that arises between the two teenage boys she’s become closest with, she must learn why the small island community had previously disallowed outsiders for over a hundred years.
It deals a lot with themes of friendship and acceptance, which I think is something every young person struggles with growing up. I also think the main character, Riley Bale, will make an inspiring and strong role model for readers of any age.

Pineapple: When is your lovely ferocious book due and what evil tactics are you planning for its advertising propaganda?

Splendid Kris: Lionhead is due out in October! As for advertising, I plan on doing whatever it takes to get the word out there. I know it's much harder with a smaller publisher to market a book, but I plan on using the internet to my advantage. There are so many young readers on websites such as Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter who are always looking for something new to dive into. Luckily, I'm already addicted to all these sites.
If not I'll just hire a witch to put a curse on anyone who won't read it. You know, that old trick.

Lightning: Fantasy is clearly the genre of your choice and mine. Brighton likes to prance about writing a cookbook with a political twist with Jennifer Connelly as the leading lady. Any other works and genres you are currently working on?

Splendid Kris: Haha! I think I'd like to read that book! I've always loved fantasy because of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, but I've been working on some sci-fi stuff also. I really love everything and I'd like to be able to explore every genre. If I read something that I really love, I usually get addicted to that particular genre and want to experiment with it.

Pineapple: Utsav likes to surf the universe and I like playing scrabble. Our books reflect that. Any hobbies/scary habits of yours which transcend into your writing?

Splendid Kris: Unfortunately, I'm not very good at anything so my characters are much better at everything than me (seriously). Usually they're really into books and reading, which is one of my hobbies.

Pineapple: Both of us are facing the hellfire of editing. How are you tackling it and how does your brain adapt to it?

Splendid Kris: I hate it! I think sometimes you have to step away from what you're writing and give your mind some time to rest. When you pull out your manuscript again, you'll be a little less sick of dealing with it and you can begin to make some corrections. I have no real system for editing and someone usually looks over it for me. I think it's important to get someone's point of view. Someone who won't lie to you, but also someone who won't discourage you!

Lightning: We are thinking of making this question a permanent one. Who would you cast as your lead characters and why?

Splendid Kris: This is a great question and I'm so upset I can't think of anyone! For some reason, I can't think of an actress around thirteen who fits that part. I sort of based the appearance of Riley around the main character of one of my favorite movies, City of Lost Children. Her strength in that movie always inspired me, but the actress is much too old now.

Pineapple: We know a bunch of authors the same age as us and you. The urge for writing seems to be strong with this age. Any advice for us hungry wannabes?

Splendid Kris: I think it's the age when you start becoming more confident in your writing and you start to understand your weaknesses and strengths. I just think you always need to stick with it and keep pushing yourself. There's always more to learn. I would also tell anyone to never give up because it only takes one person to be interested in your writing. Someone down the line will see your potential and give you a chance. The last person I queried to was the one who ended up offering me a contract, so you never know.

We wish the best of luck to Kristen with Lionhead and all her other works as well. Please do buy her book and make it famous unless you want the “Boys of Summer” coming over and driving you crazy. We can and don’t try us!

So that concludes another round of Juicy Shockers.

Signing off,
Pineapple and Lightning.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Weekly Drudgery

This post was supposed to go online on Saturday. And it didn’t for the same reason my battle against the ‘hads/coulds/weres and the lys’ took a back seat. It was the war of the laptop crash.

My laptop had been put to sleep while I took a nap. I woke up but my laptop refused to. Now I agree I subject it to almost the same waking hours that I endure myself, but hey, it’s a writer’s laptop. It’s meant to journey with me and my travails of writing and other shenanigans. But I guess it decided it wanted a bit more than that. Besides a two day rest, it also wants an acknowledgment in my novel, which after much duress, I have given into. (Suggestions are welcome as to how it should be framed when my novel gets there). So I had to bear the agonising pain of checking everything on my Iphone and watching TV, which I hadn’t done in almost a decade.

It also had put into me a seedling of horror. What if the hard disk had corrupted and all my work was gone? I do keep a copy of manuscript on an external drive and I suggest everyone should have multiple copies of their MS as well. But the editing of the past couple of weeks had not been uploaded on my back-up and I prayed to the Gods of Atheism to protect my hard disk. And boy did they deliver!

Which brings me back to what this post was originally intended to be about. Editing. I am a new author who knows very little about writing a good book and consequently, my first draft sucked like a black hole. The second draft isn’t much better and sometimes I feel my first was better. When I finally feel happy, warm and glowy (yes, that is a word and I say so!) about just the first chapter, my beta readers and CP’s descend like a hungry swarm of locusts and tear it apart. And they come back and dump the whole thing back to me saying – ‘What sort of crap are you trying to feed us? We may be locusts but we aren’t going to gobble up this trash’. (Side Note before I get killed: Locusts are like angels. I love them, don’t you?)

Most of it is kind and helpful, some of it is harsh and helpful, some are brutal and helpful and a very teeny tiny portion I disregard because as an author I cannot strive to please everybody. The basic rules for editing have been laid down to cut extraneous words. They make your MS shine with its tightness and without losing its flavour.

Editing is painful and I can only hope the road will get bearable as I travel down it again and again. Or atleast my feet will be like a Hobbit’s and I will be impervious to the pain.

As far as critiques go, I think I am thick-skinned. It comes with being a lawyer. How do you think lawyers survive a hundred bullets a day? I love helpful advice but cutting out every single ‘ly’ word crushes my narrative instead of speeding it along. Ditto for telling me to use American spelling instead of British. I agree it may be a bit of an eyesore but please don’t be put-off my story for that simple reason. And if you are please keep your critique. Because filtering the good advice from the worthless in that is painful.

I am absolutely useless when it comes to spelling, grammar and punctuation but I will tell you when a story flows well or not. If you are a Grammar Nazi, by all means blitzkrieg my writing. I love it. But please refrain from trashing anybody’s work simply because it isn’t your kind of writing. The audience, genre and writing style may be completely different from yours. That doesn’t necessarily mean it sucks.

I realise this has been a long rant and I know most of it has been brought about from the severe effects of laptop deprivation. Any thoughts on laptop crashes, editing and sucky crits are welcome.  

Signing off,

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Juicy Shockers #1


Our very first author interview! We thought of naming it Wednesday Waffles but then we would end up eating up the waffles, so we decided against it.

Anyways our first guest is the incredible R.C. Lewis. What an appropriate name for writing, don’t you think? She’s a maths teacher who writes sci-fi and fantasy. Yes, you read right. Even Wonder Woman is powerless before that.

She is currently preparing to submit a YA Sci-Fi – STITCHING SNOW which is a retelling of Snow White in space! Do follow her blog at and on twitter @RC_Lewis.
She is represented by the lovely Jennifer Laughran from the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
Oh and as a special bonus – check out
And follow stalk her @literaticat.

Now on to the questions! (Disclaimer: We claim not responsibility for questions which hurt your eyes.) Oh and Pineapple is Brighton and Lightning is Utsav and Awesome RC is well...Awesome RC.

Lightning: We know maths is the love of your life. And writing is another. How do you handle two loves at the same time? It’s very important advice for guys. And how does one love influence the other?

Awesome RC: Each love has its own time and place. When it's time to teach, I focus on teaching. When it's time to write, I focus on that. My mathy, science-geeky side definitely has an influence on my writing—that's largely why I write science fiction and fantasy.

  We won’t be asking what your inspiration for writing is. But what are the things that make you want to tear your hair out and stop writing?

Awesome RC: Hmm ... Not sure I've come across anything that causes that strong a reaction. But there have been times I've been really annoyed while wrestling with a sentence, trying to get it to say what I want it to without getting all awkward.

    We read a post on Jennifer Laughran’s blog about how she managed to sneak into getting you signed on. So how do you feel about being ninjaed away? And what is the biggest quirk from her you have seen or faced?

Awesome RC: I have no problem with being ninjaed! My query was in her inbox regardless, so now we'll never know if we would've had the same result if she'd just come across it in the normal way. I've been following Jennifer on her blog and Twitter for a long time. Maybe her biggest quirk is her love for kale ... but maybe I only say that because I live in a place where I don't think I've ever seen kale in a store. EVER.

 Now that you are getting to send your book out, you must be (and we know you are) revising.  How do you go about the revisions? What are the major changes you are incorporating and what prompted them?

Awesome RC: Jennifer pointed out a few things I could strengthen with small adjustments, and a couple of more significant changes that could bring the whole story arc together in a more powerful way. I took her notes and broke them down into a checklist. Now I'm working my way through the manuscript and checking off the changes as I go.

  A retelling of Snow White sounds awesome. But we have also seen a few reincarnations coming out recently like the two movies and Once Upon a Time? What is your take on them and how does Stitching Snow leave them in the dust?

Awesome RC: I just recently saw Snow White and the Huntsman, but I haven't seen Mirror, Mirror or Once Upon a Time. I think the main thing that makes Stitching Snow different is that it isn't a straight retelling. It takes influence from the fairytale and launches on a big, science-fiction-based "What if?"

  It must be mind boggling to be agented and now preparing to submit. We are sure our brains will be fried when we reach that stage. What does it feel like preparing to go on submission?

Awesome RC: Honestly, it doesn't feel that different yet. I've been through revisions before, including a Revise-and-Resubmit request with another agent for an earlier story. In some ways, it's less pressure, because Jennifer already loves the manuscript and has signed on—there's not that fear of rejection that I had in querying. In other ways, it's more pressure, because I feel I have to live up to the expectations now ... and rejections from editors are pretty much guaranteed no matter how awesome the story is.

Lightning: What is the strangest thing to inspire your writing? Your pets? Your favourite algorithm?

Awesome RC: Not that strange, but Stitching Snow was inspired by a line of song lyrics. Another manuscript was inspired by several students ranting about being forced into an identity crisis in a situation many people aren't aware of. But yes, math often weasels its way in when it can.

Pineapple: We all love movies made on novels. Well, besides Eragon. Who would you cast as your lead characters and why?

Awesome RC: I haven't really come across anyone that seems quite right for my MC (Essie) and the male lead yet. But a while ago I did a silly blog post where I tried to find roles for Tom Hiddleston in each of my novels, because my sister is a ginormous fan. (

Lightning: We all have writing goals. Ours is to net an agent and be the next J.K. Rowling. Well, except for Brighton who wants to be world dictator instead. What is your biggest writing ambition? A maths novel maybe?

Awesome RC: My biggest writing ambition is to have a novel published ... preferably more than one. I'd love to see my books in school libraries. I think that would be the ultimate. As for a math novel, probably not unless enough of a character and plot to go up with the background of math occurs to me.

We wish RC the best of luck in all her future endeavours. Wait no that came out wrong. We wish her lots of good luck for the upcoming publishing process and her future books.

We hope you enjoyed this special presentation from the “Boys of Summer”.

Signing off,
Pineapple and Lightning.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Book Review! The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles.

To be honest the only reason I “read” (really I listened to) this book was because Jennifer Connelly (Academy Award winner for A Beautiful Mind) was doing the narration, but I am certainly glad I did. The writing was extraordinary. 
The book follows the lives of Americans Port and his wife Kit as they travel across Saharan Africa following World War II along with their friend Tunner. The real draw to this book is the writing itself. The characters are admittedly not very sympathetic, but Paul Bowles writing ensconces you so deeply into the experience that you feel as if you are traveling around Africa with them, which can be understandably uncomfortable at times but it also feels like a great adventure even when nothing much is happening plot wise. I felt like I was headed deeper and deeper into the desert with them, so much so I found myself wishing I had a burnous to wear. 
Not only does the book effectively convey the feeling of place it also delves into the nature of desolation, and solitude. All of these characters find themselves hurtling away from the world and civilization they know and into a vast nothingness and at first must confront each other as there is less and less for them to interact with until finally they face only themselves and their own nature.

My favorite quote from the book: “Death is always on the way, but the fact that you don't know when it will arrive seems to take away from the finiteness of life. It's that terrible precision that we hate so much. But because we don't know, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.” 
There is a very curious turn of events at the end of the book that personally found to be quite strange, and unfortunately there isn’t much to be said about it that wouldn’t be giving away serious spoilers, but if anyone who’s read the book wants to have a mini-bookclub like discussion about it or the book as a whole, let me know. (Also note that for those who have seen the 1990 movie version and not read the book, they end differently) 
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys literary fiction, and letting the strength of description carry you off on an experience of a place you’d never otherwise get to go (unless you build a time machine in which case, take me with you!) For someone just looking for plot and happy endings, don’t bother. 
I also highly recommend getting the audio version. It really adds to the experience. Jennifer Connelly does a great job with the various accents and languages (there is French and Arabic in addition to the English most of the book is in and all of it is either translated by one of the characters or in a context that you don’t need to know anything other than English to listen, but it’s great to adding to the mood to actually hear the various dialects and accents. In reading I tend to skip over such parts, but in listening it really enhances the experience.) The only complaint I had about Jennifer Connelly’s performance was at first the parts she read that were the narration and not a character speaking felt a little dry, but then I realized with so many accents and languages that a relatively unadorned speech pattern was needed to distinguish narration from dialogue. Her performance certainly enhances the overall experience of the book. 

The audio version can be found on Audible:

Funny clip from Anderson where Jennifer discusses working on the audiobook.


Sunday, 17 June 2012

The Post of Two

Welcome to the world of Pineapple Lightning. Where crazy is a motto we live by. And we talk a little about writing and authors and books, only a little bit.

Brighton here is a pudding baking ninja who serves politics with a slice of pineapple. And he makes movies by the day ...or night.

Utsav is space crusading, sports watching, law practicing, tree whisperer/ writing machine. Books are made from dead trees after all.

Together we are the “Band of Brothers”. Wait, no. We aren’t brothers, nor do we play in a band. “Gang of Boys” then, but two does not warrant a gang, so just the "Boys of Summer"! Because who doesn't love summer?

We decided to dive into the huge ocean of blogging because we think with our combined power of awesomeness, the world can be made a little more insane. There are many helpful and informative blogs on writing, querying and publishing. Sigh... Yes, we will link you upto them.

But balance must be maintained in the universe and we, as the Peacekeepers of Crazy, find it our duty to contribute to dilute the ever-increasing load of good advice. We must drive the masses away from the realities of writing and throw them in the murky waters of procrastination and obnoxious comments, which are unfailingly humorous. 

Besides our Weekly Drudgery posts, which will highlight the highs and lows of life around us, we will attempt to do a few author and agent interviews which will not be informative at all. Book reviews might make it to the blog posts as well, if and when we decide a book has reached the standards where it can drive masses blind – literally.

So much for the intro. This is the “Boys of Summer” signing off. 

Enjoy the fruit. It’s shocking.