THE DREADED REVISION PROCESS

I’ve been meaning to write a series of posts about my publishing journey with the hope that it might help someone who is in the querying trenches. My last post was a while ago after I’d just signed with my agent. Since then I got a book deal (dreams do come true!) and now in less than a year THE LOVE AND LIES OF RUKHSANA ALI will be out in the world. Some days I still have to pinch myself to believe that it’s actually happening.

So I thought it might be helpful if I write about what the process has been like for me so far.

Revising With My Agent

After signing with my agent in November of 2016, we got down to the business of revisions. My agent is highly editorial and very hands-on which is exactly what I wanted and needed. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have clear communication, especially during your initial conversations. It is so important to be on the same page as far as what you both expect from this relationship, because hopefully it will be a long-term one.

Now, obviously your agent offered to represent you because they already loved your writing. But this doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty of room for improvement. One of the things I learned during the revision process is that there is always a way to make your writing even better. Your agent can guide you through this. They are a sounding board, someone who is in your corner and wants the book to be amazing as much as you do. Remember this when you first get your edit letter and take a very deep breath. But then don’t forget to let it out.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind as you go through the edit letter:

-You may not agree with everything your agent says. And this is perfectly okay. It is your book after all and no one knows your story and your characters as well as you do. But an agent offers a different perspective, an experienced set of eyes which is something really invaluable. But again, it’s completely fine to disagree on things. What you don’t want to do is take it personally and react from that mindset. I think many of us wish/think that we’ve written this fabulous novel and an agent will read it and absolutely love it and not want to make any changes because of said fabulousness. I’m sure that happens for some people, but for most of us whipping a book into shape so that it’s ready for submission can be a grueling process during which we convince ourselves many times that what we write is utter garbage. Or maybe that was just me.

-Don’t rush the process. I admit that I’m definitely guilty of this. I am a very impatient person, so it took a lot of discipline for me to hold back and not rush through any revisions. Reminding myself that my agent was devoting her time and energy to give me thorough notes helped. I wanted to improve my manuscript with each revision. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t right away. You just have to keep going, stepping away when you need to, doing something unrelated to writing just so you can approach each revision with a clear mind.

When I look back at those few months I spent on revisions with my agent, I am so grateful that I had her excellent notes and open mind to guide me through it all. My book is so much better because of it.

Next up: Revising With My Editor

Review: WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI

First of all let me say this: I’ve been waiting  with bated breath for WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI by Sandhya Menon to come out ever since I heard about it. I mean, a Bollywood style YA? What’s not to love? So when I recently got my hands on an ARC I was thrilled. Unfortunately it took me a little while to start reading because dear hubs, also an avid Bollywood fan, got his grubby fingers on it before I did and so I had to wait patiently. By the time he was done and I started, we were on our way to Santa Monica to attend YALLWEST. You can read all about that experience here.

I was still reading it on the plane and when we landed at LAX we decided to grab some lunch. Afterwards I got lost on my way back from the restrooms as one tends to do (okay maybe not most people, but I am directionally challenged). Anyway, while I was wandering around the terminal trying to locate dear hubs, who do I spy but Sandhya Menon, the author of WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI. Of course, since I’d never met her before in my life, I couldn’t be 100% sure. But like Rishi, I believe in kismet and also, I knew she in the lineup for YALLWEST and it wasn’t that far-fetched that she would also fly into LAX. So unlike a normal person I did not quietly continue the search for my husband, who by this time was no doubt panicking about his lost wife. No, I actually walked up to her, confirmed she was indeed Sandhya Menon and not some other unsuspecting passenger and proceeded to give her an exuberant hug. I can’t imagine what she must have thought about being accosted by a complete stranger in the airport (okay, maybe I can. She will probably always travel incognito from now on).

Of course she was perfectly lovely and gracious. She didn’t even run away the next day when we went up  to her after a panel at YALLWEST. My husband was not too impressed with my stalkerish behavior but after he met her and we chatted for a few minutes, he was convinced that things were fine.

The sad thing is, in all the excitement, I forgot to take a picture with her and worst of all, I DID NOT GET AN AUTOGRAPH!! I had the book in my purse the entire time.

Anyhow, I finished the book and let me tell you it was glorious!

I cannot say this enough: it was beyond amazing to read about a character who could have been one of my daughters. They are South Asian, children of immigrants, a leg in each world and they hardly ever get to see themselves reflected in YA. My older daughter, now 22, was an avid reader all through elementary and high school. There were no books with characters who looked like her or came from a similar background. So as I was reading, there were many moments of feeling connected and rejoicing.

What I loved most about this book was that it showcased two very different kinds of South Asian teens. Dimple is fiercely independent, has her own idea of what she wants her life to be and fights her parents, while Rishi is more traditional and feels responsible for his parents’ happiness. With so few books out there featuring POC it becomes more important to convey to readers that no culture is a monolith. South Asians are not all alike, any more than people of any other ethnicity.

And then there were the scenes with her parents and other relatives. Sandhya’s sense of humor is delightful. I could hear the voices in my head as clearly as if I were watching a Bollywood movie or drama. It was fun and light, while at the same time tackling the deeper issue of two very smart and driven young people finding their place in the world.

I can’t wait for this book to come out soon and watch people rave about it.

Italicized Non-English Words In Fiction: Why I hate Them

I hate reading books where every word that isn’t English is italicized. I feel as if the author is assuming that I am not intelligent enough to look up an unfamiliar word or that I am so content (read arrogant) in my knowledge that I cannot be bothered to learn something new. Learning words in another language to me is akin to opening the door to a whole other world. A world with different nuances and meanings than the one I am accustomed to. Who wouldn’t want that? Who wouldn’t want to learn more about another cultures and other traditions? It enriches my world and gives new meaning to my life when I have access to other lives, other experiences. It makes me feel connected to people in a way that is hard to describe. It’s about delving into something basic, so fundamental that it transcends words and language. But most of all it’s just so wonderful to realize that despite all the outward differences, the sounds and accents and appearances we are all ultimately connected to each other by love and joy and pain and suffering. So when I see a word italicized only because of its otherness, I feel as though a door is closing in my face. I feel as if I cannot truly connect. And that makes me sad.

Day Six of my blog tour with Diverse Book Tours

Misty Iputi over at mistyiputi.blogspot.ca was yesterday’s host for Day Six of my blog tour with Diverse Book Tours. If you would like to check out her review of Realm of the Goddess please go to:

http://mistyiputi.blogspot.ca/2015/02/realm-of-goddess-by-sabina-khan.html

Day Two of my blog tour with Diverse Book Tours. Host: Jessica Jackson

Jessica over at thepsychoticnerd.blogspot.ca was today’s host for Day Two of my blog tour with Diverse Book Tours. You can check out her review of my novel Realm of the Goddess at http://thepsychoticnerd.blogspot.ca/2015/02/blog-tour-realm-of-goddess-by-sabina.html

Free Kindle Book: Realm of the Goddess

My YA Paranormal Fantasy Realm of the Goddess is available for free download Dec 27 and 28, 2014. Grab a copy if you like Indian mythology, kick-ass heroines, romance, exotic locales and lots of action.