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Archive for December, 2009

Yesterday, this friend of mine and I decided to do lunch. And not our usual Guru da Dhaba lunch, but buffet lunch with booze and soup and salad and hors d’oeuvres and entrees and desserts.

Since it is the middle of the month, naturally we are broke. Enter Ubuntu. Some of you may have seen it. It’s opposite YRF studios, in the lane off Babalji Telefilms, exiting onto the Link Road. It has intrigued me since the day it opened. I’ve always imagined it to be like a Carnivore-eat-all-you-can-turn-the-flag-upside-down-when-done type of place.

But apparently, it was only me that the restaurant intrigued because it failed to take off. In order to boost traffic they have recently started advertising a lunch buffet of Rs 299 including a free alcoholic beverage and taxes.

So it was decided that we’d meet at Ubuntu. The challenge was to get there and sidle in quickly because neither one wanted to be seen at the loser eaterie. And, of course neither of us wanted to be seen there alone.  So we made a pact.

Since we are both more or less equi-distant from the place, we’d call each other the moment we hopped into an auto so that both would be spared the ignominy of arriving there early.

Accordingly, my friend called in at ten to one to say that she’d got a rickshaw. I figured I’d give it another five minutes and hail one down myself. After all she would have to traverse the tricky Link road where there’s no accounting for traffic. 

I had almost flagged down an auto when it occurred to me that a section of the Link Road is being dug up. So I hastily snatched back my arm, called my friend that I was two minutes away and started walking. Any minute, I expected my friend to make a pissed off call demanding to know where I was. So, when I was at Balaji, and the call still didn’t come, I decided to do the honours. 

“Where the fuck are you?” I began crossly. “I’ve been here ages!”

“Um, I got stuck in traffic,” she said. “I’m almost there.”

I disconnected and turned into the Ubuntu lane and who should I see? My friend strolling in from Fun Republic! We both grinned at each other sheepishly and walked up to the maitre d’ and guess what? Somewhere down the line, the loser eaterie had become a happening one and they were full up! *Sigh* It was back to Guru the dhaba and good old fashioned home cooked Punjabi fare.

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I was invited to a book launch recently. That is not to say I don’t generally get invited. I do. But whether or not I go depends on the convenience factor. As a rule I don’t venture beyond Bandra. Is there a game changer? Of course. There’s always a game changer. Booze.

So I go to this book launch where after the usual ceremony – the introduction, the reading, the q&a, – the wine was uncorked. I asked the waiter if they had any wine. And he said no, they just had beer and whether that would do. I usually like wine but in crisis situations, like this one was turning out to be, I’ll drink anything with an alcohol content upwards of 3 % (it was light beer).

And so the merriment began. I got to meet other like-minded authors and we formed a kind of community. You know it’s strange, but I’ve been a writer for, like, forever and I don’t have a circle of writer friends. So this was hugely exciting, like me, the plain jane, was being initiated into the exclusive club of prom queens. Already I could see me and my new BFFs spending lazy days in decadent pursuits like five hour Martini lunches. I would then stagger home and miraculously come up with literary gems.

After the event was over, my new BFFs decided to take my initiation to another pub / restobar / lounge whose name and location will come to me once the alcohol haze lifts. We began by ordering another bottle of wine and some eats. Again, I might remember what I ate if my brain cells revive. I have a feeling they’ve been totally vitiated, though.

We started exchanging notes about our lives and I was amazed at the varied and exciting lives these beautiful and talented people have led. One is openly gay, one experiments with her sexuality and has had multiple partners of both sexes, one has had a spouse and a lover simulataneously for ten years and also experiments with one night stands. They are all the ultimate in Bohemian chic. As I sat listening to the funny, entertaining and frankly risqué stories of their lives, it became clear to me that I might have been accepted into the prom queen club but I was just an ugly duckling pretending to be a swan. Sigh.

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IN STORES NOW!!!!

  

Please check the Piggies on the Railway – A Kasthuri Kumar Mystery page (tab on the blog header)  for updates, excerpts, press coverage and other opinion.

Tribune India, March 28, 2010 –  ALAS! Lady-detectives, Indian lady-detectives are elusive literary creatures. Enter Kasthuri Kumar aka Katie, detective with a buzz and two bumbling feet. And ‘seasoned’ chick-lit writer Smita Jain pulls her off with elan. So apart from the mysteries the book holds (the title being one of them) what works is the plot. Ludicrous in parts, hilarious in others and mad-hatterish for good measure…you will feel the author’s relish as she takes on one preposterous situation after another playing out a rather cheeky plot.

The writing is breezy, racy. The language is colloquial and fun, irreverent too. And it is not just her characters, even the sub-plots are funny, eliciting that smile while you sit there unbelieving that someone could actually write all this down!

Tehelka, April 2, 2010 – WITH JAIN’S first novel, the bestselling Kkrishnaa’s Konfessions, being spun into a film, her second effort heralds a new mystery series. This chicklit-detective romp follows sassy investigator Kasthuri Kumar as she tracks a missing Bollywood starlet…entertaining.

The Statesman, New Delhi, April 4, 2010 – There’s a new type of detective hitting the Mumbai beat, Kasthuri Kumar, a.k.a. Katie. Smita Jain is a script writer for TV serials and knows what makes a popular page turner with a frothy mix of sex, humour and twists and turns of the plot…Enough to keep chick lit readers entertained with her crisscrosses for a pleasant while.

ALREADY OUT  

    

“Since I had had the misfortune of laying my hands on the cursed telescope my life had gone berserk, I thought miserably. I had witnessed a murder, been shot at (by a supari killer, no less), spent a night in the slammer and seen a man killed right in front of me. But having my story and screenplays stolen — that really took the cake.”    

How far would you go to get what you want?    

a) Steal b) Scam c) Seduce    

For Kkrishnaa, the 20-something, impulsive, gutsy and unapologetically ambitious scriptwriter of television soap operas, the answer would be d) all of the above.    

And what she wants most right now is to retain her long-running, hugely successful primetime show Kkangan Souten Ke. Unfortunately for her, she has writer’s block and knows it. What is worse, her Creative Director knows it, and is threatening to hand over the pen to Kkrishnaa’s erstwhile love and current adversary, Dev Trivedi.    

Kkrishnaa must find inspiration if she wants to keep the show. So she decides to spy on her neighbours, a decision that unfortunately leads to her witnessing a murder. And thence ensues a rambunctious, rollercoaster ride as Kkrishnaa desperately attempts to keep her job, resist Dev Trivedi’s charms – and oh yes – avoid getting killed….    

A wickedly funny, rip-roaring read.    

Businessworld     

A Whodunit with a little bit of high level office politics, good dose of humour and romance…. author Smita Jain knows her job….makes the narrative pacy…     

Time Out    

A toothsome devil’s food cupcake of a novel…. has the right blend of wit, sex and twists to keep this reader interested.     

Deccan Chronicle     

Move over Bridget Jones, We now have our own Kkrishnaa, writer of TV soaps, young, attractive, single, and living alone in the big bad city of Mumbai… just what the urban English-speaking professional young woman was waiting for. The style is clever, irreverent and witty. It is an action filled page turner… an unpretentious, rollicking romp through the lanes and by lanes of Mumbai.     

Financial Express     

Wow, when someone pulls off a clever mix of two popular genres and indigenises them to boot, that’s quite a coup.     

Indian Express    

You don’t have to like Kkrishnaa but you sure can’t ignore her… hilarious, rip-roaring.    

Mail Today     

Healthy dose of what goes behind making melodramas with a lot of dhang dhnag schvoom schvoom moments…effortless pace and stylish prose has the ability to hook her readers.    

People    

Action packed…entertaining read…never a quiet moment…suitable for a Bollywood action flick.    

The Pioneer    

Pacy read for the monsoon…light, fun writing is still a good bet.    

Mid-Day    

Refreshingly young, wickedly humourous.      

     

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There comes a time in everyone’s life when one has to go back to the basics. Nowhere is it seen more plainly than in sport where peaks and troughs are regularly hit and are painfully evident to see. It is amazing how a sportsperson who is, as sports commentators are fond of saying, ‘timing the ball sweetly’ or in  ‘fine nick’ the week before can struggle to get a racket/bat on the ball in the very next week.

Sometimes the lean patch can last a long time and while it persists, can slowly erode the player’s confidence till she doesn’t believe she can compete with the, again as sports commentators are fond of saying, ‘the best in the field.’ To break this vicious cycle they are advised to go back to the basics. Focus on your rhythm, footwork and hitting through the ball cleanly. Focus on winning just the very next point. Then the next. If you do that, your confidence will slowly return and soon you’ll be able to strategise ahead for a clutch of points and then the whole match.

I hope you can see where I’m going with this. (And no, I haven’t turned into a motivational speaker or a sports psychologist).

As you know, it’s been slow going for me for some days now on the writing front. Much as I tried, I just couldn’t figure out why. And then I realised I was thinking about writing the whole novel, that is 100,000 words. And to make matters worse I’ve started two. So that’s at least 250,000 words.

Think of it like that and the task seems daunting. The trick is to focus on writing one scene well. Then the next. Soon, as you get a grip on the language and the characters you’ll be able to write more than a scene at a time and before you know it, the novel is finished. Voila! Simple, isn’t it?

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You know, it occurred to me that I’ve been waxing about writing for so long – what one needs to do to get published or produced or whatever – and I left out the most important thing. Luck.

You can have talent by the oodles, dedication and determination but if you haven’t got luck you’re pretty much toast. On the other hand, you can average to zilch talent but if you have the lady on your side you have nothing to worry about. Perhaps my placing too much on mere chance stems from the industry I come from.

While luck plays a role in any field in life, its importance is exaggerated in mine. Every day I see talented people struggling away, unable to make a mark. On the other hand you have a music director (I shall refrain from using names), whose sole talent in life is creative stealing. *Gasp* you guessed???!!! And here I was soooo careful.

Of course what I’m saying could be pure baloney. As one erstwhile leading tennis player, talking about the favourable percentage of close net and line calls that regularly went his way, said, “The harder I practice the luckier I get.” Perhaps in sport. I mean, that is one area you need to have some skill. And hone it. You just can’t wake up one day and bend it like Beckham. *Sorry* I couldn’t think of a more original one.

Elsewhere, I think, luck is a necessary and sufficient condition for success. So all you aspiring writers, singers, musicians, you too can get lucky. It’s really a question of practice. *You too can win* Do I sound sufficiently like Shiv Khera? God, where did that name come from? It’s been ages since we heard it! There was a time where he was everywhere. And then he just disappeared. Guess who the lady deserted.

BTW, what do you think of the title of this post? I dithered between luck by chance and oye luck luck oye and chose the latter. I am a Dilliwali at heart. What to do, I’m like this only.

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Okay folks, we have decided on the cover. Almost. I spoke with my editor yesterday and it is going to be one of four designs from the last post. We may tinker with a bit, experiment with different colours, try out different fonts, but it’s going to be one of them.

In light of this I have taken the liberty of removing the other, earlier cover options from the site. Given that we are not using them, they are not my property (since becoming an author I have discovered a new found respect for IP *pats oneself on the back*).

While we were on the subject of Li’l Piggies, I also asked her if there was any chance of the book coming out in Jan 2010, in time for the Jaipur festival. It seems there isn’t. The earliest target was, and remains Feb 2010 *Sighs*.

Meanwhile, the proofs have been proof read and finaled. So I should be able to publish some extracts very soon. There is still the small matter of the blurb, which my editor and I are working on. Other than that, my work on the book is finished. Finally!  

I have also started on my third (Kkrishnaa sequel, tentatively titled Kkrishnaa’s Kandid Konfessions) and fourth (a new genre for me) books simultaneously. Which is a bad idea unless you can multitask and my multitasking extends to eating and drinking at the same time. I suspect I will have to take it sequentially only after all.

I am also meeting my producer today for a discussion on the second draft of the Kkrishnaa’s Konfessions screenplay. Will have more to report after the meeting. Ciao until tomorrow.

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I know I haven’t been posting, but it’s been an insanely crazy week. Anyhow, some more cover options arrived. I like. Especially the last four ones. Methinks, we’re getting there. What do you think?

PS: Bear in mind, it is a breezy chicklit-cum-murder mystery.

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