A.R Sara

A breezy & intense eternal teen with a zest for the here and the now

Category: Author Space

Creative Writing Workshop

While vacationing, a sweet opportunity presented itself. An invitation to conduct creative writing workshops for the primary grade students and interact with the teachers of Lakshmi Narayana Nursery and Primary School. A progressive school situated in a lovely and quaint village on the pristine foothills of Kodaikanal.
On entering the school premises I was impressed to find the environment conducive to creativity, individuality, imagination and learning. It had a perfect blend of modern infrastructure and teaching methodology and imbibed the charm that comes with being in the vicinity of a hill station.
 
After a warm reception by the school management and staff, I was introduced to a set of exuberant children on a pleasant and breezy weekday morning.
 
The children’s animated responses during both the sessions I conducted was commendable. I was delighted to find the children enthusiastic, feisty, expressive, confident and imaginative. It was exciting see their thoughts, musings, stories unfold colorfully when given creative prompts, encouragement and guidance. The interaction with the teachers was lively and stimulating.
It was a pleasure to find that the school reflects and reinforces my belief that creativity cannot be forced but has to be nurtured.
 
Thanks to Rohini Sounder at Lakshmi Narayana Nursery and Primary school for inviting me.
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A trip to Haziq & Mohi Rare Books Shop

Few years ago a random post on an online book club grabbed my eye and my interest. One that persistently drew my thoughts back to the subject of that post, even weeks later.
The post had been about a shop that stocked old and rare books. An antiquarian bookseller. I loved the sound of that.

Being a self-proclaimed connoisseur of books, not just for the words within, but also the look, texture and smell, I could not resist digging in, to find more information about this book store.
Online searches revealed something riveting. The shop boasted of distinguished clientele from across the world. Scholars, academicians, book collectors, authors, historians and libraries from all over, were some of its customers. My interest spiked as I read that the renowned historian and writer, William Dalrymple had visited this book shop. A shop he had apparently stumbled upon by chance. This was around the time he was looking for research material, which he eventually sourced from this shop for his critically acclaimed bestseller “White Mughals.”  I was intrigued and excited to say the least and grew determined to pay a visit to this place. I was thrilled to find out the shop was located in my hometown. The desire to visit the book store grew. During the next visit to Hyderabad, on the very second day, I set out to find the place.
Google map showed the location as somewhere near Charminar, which happens to be a familiar landmark since childhood. Little did I realize it will turn into a mini adventure of sorts to locate the elusive book shop.
Google map displayed a message, indicating I had reached the destination while all I could see were odd shops all around me, nothing stocking anything close to books as I stood perplexed at the crossroads, in the vicinity of the majestic Charminar.

I went in search of an elusive book store,
Intrigued by its surrounding lore,
Located in a faraway place yet near,
Internet claimed it was not a bookshop mere,
Google welcomed me to a place I could not find,
Was this place real or just in my mind?

I found myself going in circles as I explored the area carefully. The object of my search was nowhere in sight. A sense of the surreal gripped me. I could not help but feel that the world moved at a different pace here. The quaint looking shops selling curios, perfumes and other bric-a-bracs, right down to the people, their gaits, clothes…all hinted at a place that had soaked up ages of history.
I crossed a narrow street lined with rusty cages filled with birds of all sorts. Mostly pigeons, ginny fowl and crows. A strange and curious assortment of birds. All of which cackled, clucked and cawed in unison at the sight of me. Whether they were helping me find my way with their birdie say, that was incomprehensible to me or seeking my help I could not tell. So I just went about my way shrugging off my bewilderment and the mild impulse to linger there a little longer.

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I enquired about the book shop, with some passers-by and shop-owners, but just received blank looks and a shake of head…indicating cluelessness about my query, I suppose.
I wondered if I was caught in a time warp. The feeling grew in intensity as I relentlessly continued my search. I believed I was close to finding it and not ready to give-up and call it a day. I began to systematically cover each and every narrow lane, my eyes keenly scanning all the shops, each one unremarkable yet imbibing a unique charm.
Then just like that my gaze landed on the very place I was looking for, while I was halfway down an old winding alley.

Voila! There it was! The almost nondescript and inconspicuous shop revealed itself to my eager eyes. It humbly sported a fading signage displaying the name of the store.

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The shop just occupied a narrow stretch of area that touched the parallel running lane on the other end, with entrances to the shop from both the lanes.
As I stepped in, the rich and musty smell of old books stormed my senses. I found myself flanked closely by shelves on both sides. So narrow was the walkway, that you can only walk in a single file, as it can allow only one person to snugly pass through at a time.
The shelves were stacked with various books from the floor all the way up to the ceiling, giving the place a charmingly quirky feel, like an enchanted place that had materialized right out of a fantasy story book. Or rather like I had stepped into one. I almost expected Gandalf or Professor Dumbledore to step out in front of me any time. A thin veil of translucent dust covered all the books, adding to a sense of ancient magic hovering in the air.
Soon a wizened old man materialized from a little room on the side, that was almost concealed by the overflowing shelves. With a kind and polite smile he invited me to explore the other room. It was crammed with more books on all sides, arranged all the way up to the ceiling which seemed to be the norm here.
The structure of the shelves were obscured by books of every size. Again covered in the same ancient layer of dust. I could tell the books have been tenderly cared for as I slowly browsed. I relished the sight of the staggering collection of books in mostly English, Urdu,  Arabic and Persian literature, spanning more than a century. Books on the Deccan history, Asaf Jahi dynasty period and more. I noted many of the books were from the pre-independence era.
After a while, the elderly shopkeeper guided me to another extension of the shop across the street and I treated myself to yet another impressive display of more rare and old books. Of course I was not fooled by the dust and realized I needed deep pockets to be able to afford many of the books here. Finally after browsing for countless moments found something that fit my humble budget, to my extreme delight. Or was it that the books found me?! I walked out of the treasure trove of a book store clutching my precious finds with a mounting sense of excitement.

A 19th century edition of Pippa Passes – a verse drama by Robert Browning.
A 20th century edition – Collection of William Wordsworth’s poems.
Both the books encased in leather bindings with beautiful etchings and rich texture. Filled with the wonderful old book smell, apart from words within to lose oneself in!

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Author & Book Spotlight – Lorkum’s Quest

So happy to share that Litventure is spotlighting author A.R.Sara and “Lorkum’s Quest” book from 18th March to 24th March 2018 on their page Litventure and their Facebook group ‘For Writers By Authors’. It is my pleasure to invite you all to the activities that will be conducted there every day of the week starting today.
Looking forward to seeing many of you participate there. Prizes to be won!!!

Click on the below link to participate – https://www.facebook.com/Litventure/posts/2066730663616557

Lorkum’s Quest is available on Flipkart and Amazon https://www.amazon.in/dp/B06XVYD16Q in Print and Kindle formats.

Puppy Chronicles – Sally arrives

Meet the newest addition to our family…Sally.
A collector of raw potatoes.
A chaser of toads and smasher of tomatoes.
An explorer par extraordinaire, who spares no corner in the house.
Snacks on grass when is she not on the move, guided by her ever-inquisitive sniffing nose! 
Prone to silent mischief though she hardly ever barks.
With a soulful gaze and a calm demeanor, she has found her way into our hearts.
Potty trained in a snap, except for the occasional misses.
Her daily routine is rather simple and neat.
Eat, play, snack, explore, sleep, sneak out to poop & pee, walk, jump, run and repeat…
Yes, we have adopted a sweet and smart indie pup!

She is almost four months old now and she is such a sweetheart! She has blended right into the family, winning our hearts. She is intelligent, well-behaved yet sassy, affectionate, social, and endearing. For the kids, technology time has been replaced with some old fashioned playing with the puppy, taking her for walks. Time spent with her is stress-relieving for the kids and older folks too.28516227_10156313236816209_7114678840614637501_o

Power to publish at your finger-tips

It can be a bold and daring step, yet an exhilarating one, to go beyond pursuing your passion for words as a hobby, and re-defining your career to follow your passion.

Sharing some thoughts on what you gain from self-publishing and the associated challenges, based on the experience I have gathered over the last six years in the self-publishing space.

Benefits: When the power to publish lies at your finger tips…

  1. Full and complete control over the release of each new or revised edition of your book
  2. Access to all your books’ sales reports, depending on the distribution platform.  The access can be near real-time with online platforms like Amazon, Flipkart. With brick and mortar book stores it can be a month or more.
  3. Control over pricing and transparency.
  4. Flexibility to promote your book, when, how and the way you see fit.
  5. A deep sense of satisfaction and fulfillment at having self-published and having turned into an “Authorpreneur”
  6. Learn, Grow & Explore. It presents an opportunity to go beyond your comfort zone to explore, to learn and grow with each book you publish. You develop insights into each and every step in the self-publishing life-cycle, as you form a virtual self-publishing team of enablers to cover editing, proofreading, book design and other aspects. If your earlier experience was in an unrelated domain, then you are introduced to a whole new world that revolves around creativity and you begin to empathize with traditional publishers, authors, editors, printers and other team players in the publishing space.
  7. Freedom and flexibility – You call the shots. You write and publish at your own pace and set and follow your own milestones. That can be an unbeatable feeling if you are able to embrace the challenges that go with self-publishing, in the right spirit.

 

Challenges: With great power comes even greater responsibility 🙂

  1. Owning the risk and responsibility. It is an independent and creative venture and you own the risk for all the time, energy and effort that you put in and the monetary investment too…in case you have invested in editing, cover page design, marketing, branding, maintaining inventory, bulk printing, etc.,
  2. Market Trends. You need to follow and keep track of the pulse of the market, explore new self-publishing platforms and enabling tools, new and innovative ways to present content and promote and price your book and market it accordingly.
  3. Tackling the maverick image of a self-publisher and the negative connotations around self-published books. This can be seen as a challenge or as an energizer. It depends on whether you perceive this as liberating and empowering or as disheartening. If you are considering self-publishing your first book, it is important to be aware that self-published books do not carry public acceptance or open approval as traditionally published books do. But this is slowly and steadily changing.
  4. Chances of Traditional Publishing in the future decline. An already self-published book will be outright rejected by traditional publishers, if you interested in the same book being traditionally published in the future, unless of course the self-published book becomes a runaway success. Self-publishing a book, could also reduce the chances of your future manuscripts being accepted for traditional publishing.
  5. Self-publishing demands entrepreneurial skills especially if you are planning on doing this long term…ie., writing and publishing your own books. ROI analysis. If you are not already gifted with business acumen and skills for an independent venture, it can be an acquired skill and be a learning in progress as it is for me. It helps to have a strategy and a time-bound plan in place towards tackling each step in the publishing process, after you have decided to self-publish your book.  Important to decide which parts of the publishing life-cycle to outsource, be it proof reading, editing, typesetting, cover design, book launch, marketing, etc., and the associated monetary investment.
  6. Promotion & Marketing of your book is a significant part of the self-publishing cycle. Consider all the below as you put-together a plan. Book launch, pre-order option, promotional offers, press release, social media promotion, Book tours and Author talks, etc.,
  7. Balance Distribution Channels with investment and expected returns. As you expand your brick and mortar distribution channels and expand beyond a “Print-on-demand” model, you will need to carefully weigh the risks versus returns.
  8. Reasonable and sustainable Book Sales are not guaranteed, leave alone making it a bestseller. This applies to most of the traditionally published books too, considering the bestseller formula still remains elusive at best. Cannot force readers, reviewers (who may or may not be writers themselves) to read something that does not appeal to them. The book promotions should spread the word and entice the readers to pick up the book in the first place, for the writing inside to even stand a chance to draw or pull the readers. Paying someone to read your book is out of the question as it just defeats the purpose, doesn’t it! Ultimately, the book with a story-line that holds “mass appeal” and also gets most of the other things reasonably on track, like narrative style, character development, marketing and an “undefinable quality” will go on to become a bestseller or at the very least a well-loved book with a fan following. As a writer if your passion for writing matches the popular genre and topic, then the chances of your book becoming a bestseller are high. But that cannot and should not stop a writer from writing and sharing with the world. For that matter it should not and cannot stop a self-published author from spreading the word about the book!

As a self-publisher you are prone to come across instances when it feels like the challenges far outnumber the benefits of Self-Publishing. A rather daunting and discouraging feeling. But it is important to hang-in there and not let it get you down. This particular passion for self-publishing your creative work demands persistence and a long-term investment of your interest and commitment. Over time and with each new book, a Self-Published author’s tribe of readers will slowly and surely grow.

© 2018 RajaRajeshwari Nagasigamani

Lorkum Villain

A scary sketch of Lorkum by my little brand ambassador! “Lorkum’s Quest is not a book to be read at night when no one is in sight… No, really! It is page-turner clearly. It will make your nerves tingle and chills run up your spine… In Lorkum’s lines be sure to look for the signs. Decode the clues on time else you shall lose. Google Lorkum’s Quest if you are ready to put yourself to the test.

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Stumpo

“I came to be known to all as Stumpo, the runaway tree stump. I ran far and I ran so hard, till my roots hurt and my bark gathered dust.”

Stumpo, from “The book of flames”

Books for all ages!

A heartwarming pic sent to me by a young-at-heart fan of A.R. Sara books. She was thrilled to find the books at Crosswords Bookstore, Bangalore.IMG-20180105-WA0088 The delightful expression on her face as she reads “Nutcat the wise” speaks for itself!

Goes to prove A.R. Sara books are for the young, old and the ageless!

Feel free to write in and send your pics with your copy/copies of A.R.Sara story book/s and favorite lines if any from the books, to arsarafables@gmail.com to be featured here! 🙂

The books are available globally in Print and Kindle versions incase you are wondering… Here’s where you can find them on Amazon —–

https://www.amazon.com/A.R.-Sara/e/B009T38JUC

https://www.amazon.in/A.R.-Sara/e/B009T38JUC

Ofcourse the print versions are available on other online retailer sites too…just google for A.R. Sara books along with the book title you are looking for.

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Happy New Year!

Wishing Everyone a Happy New Year 2018!
May this New Year shower us all with happiness, warmth, empathy, understanding, love, health, joy, freshness, peace and success!
And here’s a special New Year wish for all the patrons of the written word…
May the new year be filled with a bountiful of diverse reads; some that may give a fresh new perspective of the reality around while others carry us away to faraway lands to acquaint us with people we have never met before and situations we have never experienced before and fill us with eclectic emotions.
May the new year see all our writings shared with the world go viral, all the books we published be well read and climb the bestseller lists and all those stories and thoughts deep within us find expression in words!

Express yourself

The next best thing you can do for yourself after diet, sleep, exercise and reading is to express yourself in words.

Yes, writing can help…

make you self-aware and poised,

articulate the feelings that cannot be voiced,

discover yourself all over again,

heal those invisible wounds and diminish the pain,

keep the blues away,

brighten your day,

prioritize your colliding thoughts,

share those unspoken after-thoughts,

bring clarity to your clouded emotions,

delay and control your reactions,

make you focused and sure,

state your views in leisure,

purge the all-consuming negativity

and nurture your creativity!

Even a sentence a day can go a long way!

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