This new world of ebooks

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I have been publishing ebooks for almost a year and the first thing I realised is that most people don’t even know what ebooks are. I am talking of India and a very modern city like Mumbai.

They say, I would love to read your book but I don’t have a kindle.

Do  you have a smart phone, I ask them.

They do have a smart phone but hold it out helplessly, totally unaware of what to do with it. To make an account and download an ebook is almost beyond their capacities. They ask sons or grand daughters to do it.

Or just shrug because its too complicated to contemplate.

I can understand most people being unaware of the online world, but this applies not just to the usual person who uses an expensive smart phone for nothing but making calls to their children abroad – it applies to other writers as well.

It will take time, especially for writers who have been around for a while but ultimately, they will have to deal with this strange and confusing new world. Their old world is dying. Bookshops are closing. The single narrow and crowded road which lead to a publisher contract is getting lost amid the brand new highways which are opening up for writers. Yes, you can ignore it – but it won’t go away.

In my book club the word ‘book’ still means the print variety. Now, however, a few Kindles have appeared. Most readers still order their print copies online or search the few remaining – and shrinking – bookstores.

I don’t like reading an ebook, its very uncomfortable, some of them say. I like reading a real book.

They are probably hunched in front of a computer unaware that the easiest way to read is an ereader. Or even a smart phone or tablet. No use telling them about it.

It seems that, for most people, the very vast and rapidly overwhelming online ebookstores are invisible. For them its still the few shelves crammed between colouring and children’s books. That space grows smaller as chocolates and gadgets grab the shelves once devoted to shiny new bestsellers.

I have news for all those people.

Ebooks is a one way street. Once you start reading ebooks you are not going back. Once you start writing ebooks, you may add print books or even publisher books, but it will always be ebooks. Like most technological advances it goes only one way.

I am lucky to be here so early when the whale has not turned – though that is due – so I can get a ringside seat as the seasons of writing and publishing change. With one difference. The old ways will not be coming back.

One world will shrink and shrink until its a pale ghost of what it was. The other will expand exponentially until it grows so overwhelmingly huge that it just can’t be ignored. I leave it to you to guess which is which.

the taste of sea breeze

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Its finally out, the anthology of our Mumbai INhaiku group. After two years of monthly meetings, even in the pouring rain, we put together a collection of haiku and related forms.

Its been fun getting it together for our second year. Everyone cooperated and helpd with the sometimes tedious task of editing and formatting. So here it is our first anthology. Take a look at haiku and senryu, tanka and the collaborative form of renku. And a new form too – renbun. Here it is.

final cover small

Available as an ebook from Amazon and you can download it free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Amazon.in           Amazon.com       Amazon.uk      Amazon.jp

My fifth book in the  self publishing journey and this one was great fun to do in collaboration. I also enjoyed doing the cover – summer fishing boat – a very Mumbai sight. You often see these brave little boats with colourful flags even in rough seas.

 

Summer issue is out

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The summer issue of the World Haiku Review is up.

whr june 2016

The beautiful cover painting is Persimmons by Susumu Takiguchi.

Plenty of Haiku as usual, some on summer themes, some scifiku, haibun and One hundred haijin continued.

Its an interesting issue. Do take a look.

The making of a cover

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One of the things I really enjoy is being able to do my own cover. Of course, it is a time taking process and I conceptualize the cover when I begin the book. The cover is ready long before the writing and helps to keep me focused during the long process of writing, rewriting, editing, formatting and uploading. I put it as wallpaper on my phone to keep reminding myself.

My minimal art experience, and a lot of study, is now coming in useful. I draw the central image first, digitally, and then add texture, backgrounds and all the rest.

This is the cover for my latest book, 5 Minute Delight. It went through many steps to get to this point. After I published the book many people told me that they really loved the cover.

delight small

 

It took a long time to get there and these are the steps – and some missteps which I took. The first ideas did not work. I kept redoing it until I liked the result.

making delight cover 2

I knew I wanted a bright and cheerful cover, but not one which looks like a children’s book. I decided on a flower and chose a sunflower. I drew out the flower but somehow it just did not work. The colours never seemed to gel and the impact just was not there. The first panel at the top left shows the first attempt and then, I tried to play with the colours but gave up on the sunflower.

I looked around for another flower and thought of the rare blue Himalayan poppy, a favorite flower of mine. The third picture on the top row is my rough drawing of it growing out from a book. The book is about visualizations so that image seemed to fit.

The flower did not look real. I studied photos of it went back to work. The three photos on the right show the progression as I chose a blue – yellow, contrasting colour scheme, finished the flower and added the background. The size turned out wrong so I had to resize it as you can see in the bottom panel on the right. The drawing was too big and not enough room was left for the title.

After all, its a book cover not a piece of art. It’s like an ad for the book so title takes precedence. I reduced the size of the drawing.

And finally I got what I wanted. Then I only had to add the text. Which took another few days playing with fonts and placement. Then I sent it out to a few friends and they approved.

I had lots of fun doing it and liked the end result.

Now on to the next book and the next cover.

Reading poetry this Friday

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This Friday, the 10th of June I will be reading my poems at Cappuccino Readings, at Starbucks, Horniman Circle, from 5.30 to 7.30. The theme is Earth. Rain. Poetry. I will chose some rain poems to read even though monsoon has yet to hit Mumbai and we are still sweating it out, looking hopefully at the sky for the first black clouds. A little bit of rain poetry would be welcome right now.

capuchino readings

I have been attending these evenings for quite a long time now and really enjoy them. It’s a comfortable friendly atmosphere and an interested audience for poetry, which is not always easy to get. Its also a very beautiful building, with high ceilings and lots of character.

If you love poetry give it a try.

Do come and join in a delightful evening of coffee and poetry.

Quick meditations at Somaiya centre

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Next week I will be doing the meditations from my book, 5 Minute Delight, at the Somaiya centre. The book has 46 very short meditations and I will be doing some of them with you.

The meditations are strongly visual and nature based and created for you to do them on your own but they are particularly powerful when done in the group and guided step by step.

Do take this opportunity to experience them live with me. It would be great to see you there.

Here are the details.

somaiya center

Somaiya Centre for Lifelong Learning brings to you

‘5 Minute Meditations’

A workshop by Rohini Gupta

on Tuesday 7th June 2016 – 6.00 pm to 7.30 pm

5 minute meditations are very short meditations which can be done in a few minutes to de-stress and relax you.

In today’s world, stress is a huge problem and relaxation is often difficult. Here is a simple approach. Fill the mind with happy vivid nature imagery and you can’t help but relax. It’s quick and easy and can change the texture of your whole day.

I will be leading several of these tiny meditations to give you a taste so that you can continue at home. They can be done any place and any time and can give you a short and refreshing break from days full of tension and tough chores.

 Fees:  Rs 500/-

 Venue:
Somaiya Centre for Lifelong Learning
2nd Flr, Somaiya Bhavan,
45/47 Mahatma Gandhi Road,
Above KitabKhana Flora Fountain,
Fort, Mumbai 400001.
Call: 7045932204 | Mail: learn@somaiya.com

5 Minute Delight

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My latest book is up. A book of tiny meditations to relax and de-stress you. Just published and available as a ebook on Amazon.

delight small

46 little meditations which take no more than five minutes of your time. The powerful visualizations will keep your mind happily occupied. Take a quick and relaxing meditation break with your coffee break.

You can get it here –

Amazon.in

Amazon.com

Amazon.uk

I had a lot of fun writing this book and years of work have gone into it. The meditations have been developed by working with groups over a couple of decades. Trial and error until I found the ones which worked the best. I had the scattered notes over the years. I put them together and added a few new ones for this book. My classes may recognize a few, but not all of them.

I had fun doing the cover too. I knew I wanted a flower and at first I tried a sunflower. Just a few yellow petals, but it did not work. Finally I decided on this rare flower – and a favorite of mine – the blue Himalayan poppy. It seemed to symbolize the magic and the delight which I hope the meditations will bring you.

Here is a sample meditation so you can see what they are like.

The Valley of the Flowers

Create your own Valley of the Flowers, just like the one in the Himalayas where there are flowers as far as the eye can see. You can have that too – in your mind.

Look around your room and imagine it full of flowers. Turn your sofa into a row of flowerbeds. Let roses bloom or add a pool of blue lotuses. Let the walls dissolve into a field of sunflowers.

Visualise your favourite flowers growing all around you. Look at the brilliant colours and shapes. Inhale the wonderful perfume.

In the mind you have no restrictions at all. Seasons and species do not count. All species can grow side by side and bloom around the year. Space is not a constraint either, even if you are in a very tiny room. It can blossom into a vast garden in your mind.

Every species can bloom together. Lotuses can bloom on land and poppies can sprout from water. You can have a carpet of marigold or a mountain of lilies. Mayflower can have orchid petals. Anything goes and these flowers never go out of bloom.

Be lavish and be creative. Enjoy the Valley of the Flowers right there around you anytime you like. Challenge yourself every time to create more and more wonderful flowers and more exciting and beautiful vistas.

***

This is a very cheerful little visualisation which you can use any time life seems grey. Give yourself a boost by imagining the flowers. The more you let your imagination go, the more happiness this meditation can bring you.

Become a child again and just lose yourself in a fabulous world of flowers.

Send in your summer haiku

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Its summer and time for the another issue. Have you been writing spring and summer haiku? Here is your chance to send some in.

Submissions are now open for the spring/summer issue of World Haiku Review.

whr-small

The themes are Agape and Eros or spring and summer subjects but they are only guidelines and you do not necessarily have to follow them.

The Deadline is Sunday, 28 May, 2016.

Please send in your best – make sure it is not published elsewhere and please read the guidelines carefully HERE.

Look forward to reading your work.

Flash fiction at Litmus, 2016

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I’ll be doing a flash fiction workshop at Litmus this month.

Minimum length, maximum impact, a short story workshop.

At Todi Mills, 9th April, 12.30 to 1.30 pm.  There is no charge.

I will talk of flash fiction, introduce you to the genre, read some stories and leave you with enough to write your own. If you want to write or learn about this exciting new genre come and participate. See you there!

litmas poster

About Litmus

LITMUS is an experimental word-fest that explores the word at the crosshair of technology & tradition. The event has a combination of panel discussions, workshops and performances which celebrate the ‘word’ in all its variations; be it in the form of dance, film or typography. LITMUS is curated by For Young India (FYI).

After organizing the festival highly successfully the last two years in Bengaluru, FYI deemed it’s time for it to take place in Mumbai on the 8th and 9th of April this year.

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