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MyKitaab podcast in India features experts in the publishing industry in an effort to helps authors get published. Jaya Jha, founder of Pothi.com and InstaScribe, was featured here. We get to know more about the woman behind the organization. Jaya left Google where she worked for some time with a better idea of what an organization should like. This alumnus of IIT Kanpur and IIM Lucknow is also one of the most viewed contributors in the publishing space on Quora. Jaya talked about her books Moving On, and her collections of poems in Hindi called Kuch Pal and Tumhare Liye as well. She also spoke about her venture Summary Town.
Jaya has mentioned an important tip for writers- they need to work on marketing their brand or creating a platform as early as a year before release of the title, be it fiction or non-fiction.
For more publishing gyaan, listen to the podcast here: http://mykitaab.in/podcasts1/pothi
The phone rings. Mrs. Padma Suresh picks up the cordless receiver and sees the caller ID and takes the call. It is from her daughter Shreya.
Mrs. Padma Suresh (PS): Hello, today my leg pain has returned with a fury. I just finished cooking and not able to stand also. I was better when I walked to the temple today all the way and back.
Shreya (S): Oh oh! Why…
PS: Just spoke to Lakshmi about an Ayurveda doctor. It seems his medicines are very good. Anyway I have started on the medicine given by the ortho specialist. The pain subsides for few minutes only, but. God knows if the doctor is good.
S: Give hot water massage and………
PS: Yeah, I did that yesterday before going to the jewelry shop. You know I gave my ruby necklace for repair. New one, it broke.
S: I didn’t know you bought one.
PS: Oh! Two months back. Oh yes…yesterday I ordered for a ring…4 gms. But while sweeping it hurts….. So after few days I will remove it anyway.
S: I thought you had a maid.
PS: Maids…bah! They take my life out. Give them money and suffer because of them.
S: At least you can rest a while.
PS: Maids are for lazy people. They demand too much. Rs. 400 a month for washing vessels. I could save that amount for few months and buy a jewel instead. Oh! My paining leg. I think I should see a neurologist next.
Did you finish cooking?
S: Yes yes I finished just now. I made……..
PS: What will you make? A sambar and one vegetable. Not like me. I used to make sambar or something gravy, 2 vegetables and rasam every day. We ate very well and I still cook like that. You people are lazy. Eat well so that you will have a worry-free healthy body later.
S: Children are busy with exams.
PS: Let them study, let them study. As for you, don’t waste time doing your office work. Pray every day. Are you reciting the sloka I wrote down for you last month when I came there? Recite that 24 times every day. Only then children will study.
S: They are working hard…..
PS: They may………. but how do you think you people got good marks. I used to recite the same sloka 1000 times a day. Where ever I was, whatever I was doing I went on reciting the sloka. You may have studied hard but it is the sloka which did its magic.
S: How is father?
PS: What for him? He is hale and hearty. It is me who is suffering with leg and knee pain. See my leg is swollen at the ankle. I am not able to go anywhere outside. How I used to walk to temples every day, such long distances. I used to take half an hour last year, now I think I will take even 2 hours for same distance.
S: You should have avoided all that…………..
PS: Hush! If I did not walk, I have to spend on auto rickshaw or bus or spend on petrol for car and driver salary.
S: You could have used transport, your leg would have been okay.
PS: Forget it I will be better soon. I have to become better to attend Savitha’s wedding. I am planning to wear the silk sari I bought last month. My latest. It is a beautiful orange colour sari with dark blue border. You know I bought raw silk cloth for the blouse. Quite expensive but will look beautiful and make the sari more attractive.
S: Oh good!
PS: Should ask the maid next door to do the cleaning for that day. But that woman will ask for 50 rupees. No other go, have to give her and get the work done.
PS: By the way, the priest from Vellore came. I gave him 5000 rupees donation for some puja. God knows how much he will pocket and how much will go for the puja. But I have to give for such donations so that our family health, wealth gets better.
Yesterday night, I dreamt of a cow giving birth to a calf. I think someone in our family will be blessed with a child soon.
S: Oh mother, all our families are full with 2 each. Please shift your dreamworks to some other family please.
PS: You people are always critical of whatever I say. Why did I order that ring yesterday, you know?
I saw the design in my dream and I was praying to Swami Ayyappa. Maybe the lord wants me to come to his temple at Sabarimala. That is my next venture.
S: Mom, first please make your leg alright. Then think about travel. Two days back only, you returned from Tirupati.
PS: Don’t talk in the negative to me. You are all spoil sports. Ok, shall I put the phone down.
S: I have to go to school to pick up…………
S: Oh Man! Same every day. But still have to call, otherwise I will get scolded for that too. (sigh)
Pothi.com’s Note: Shamila Janakiraman has published her collection of short stories through Pothi.com. The books is available in print and e-book formats at the links below
Also check out “Just Retired” by Amar Agarwala
Our apologies for the delay, but we are finally here. The contest this time was judged by Pothi.com founders – Jaya Jha and Abhaya Agarwal. We’d let them do the talking.
We’d like to clarify at the outset that it was a writing contest. So, the judgement is on the writing and not on the character that has been written about. Every life is unique and hides many interesting stories to be told. If they didn’t come out in the sketch, the storyteller must bear the blame.
Before announcing the winners, we would like to point out some common issues we saw with the entries. The task was to present a person to the world. The entry was supposed to make us vividly see the person. But many people got caught up in how they felt about the person, or in fewer cases how the person was always so good to them. A character sketch should bring out the character of the person, make him or her live and vivid for us. That you adore a person, or find her kind and caring does not tell us, the reader, anything about that person.
In other cases people went on a praising spree, listing down the achievements of their subject. It was not a competition for finding the best person the world will know. By themselves achievements do not tell us anything. What a character sketch should look at is the person behind those achievements, or failures, or outward fame or smiles. It should bring out the whites, and the blacks and the shades of grey in between.
So while we read about many inspiring lives and feel humbled by them, most of the pieces failed to provide a unique perspective and thus failed to break out of the crowd. So in choosing the winner, a unique perspective emerged as the top criteria.
Now coming to the winning entry.
The entry from Shamila Jankiraman is set up as a phone call from a mother. The constrained setting keeps the narrative tight and the conversation flows naturally. Without needing to be explicitly stated, the bond between the author and the character can be easily felt.
Congratulations Shamila! Prize details will be sent to you by e-mail.
Another entry deserves a special mention. The entry by Amar was one of the few entries where the author maintains the status of an observer without being a part of the proceedings. The character of Bidhan Chandra Deb is painted in darker shades but author still leaves sufficient scope for him to redeem himself.
Both the entries will be posted on this blog shortly.
In a sense, writing a good character sketch presents a dilemma. On one hand, you need to know the person well enough to make the sketch meaningful. On the other hand, the more you know, the harder it is to write as an objective observer. Striking a good balance between the two is what makes for a good and engaging piece.
Till the next writing contest!
We apologize for the delay. We will announce the results by the coming week.
Wish you all a Happy Diwali.