Geetanjali Mukherjee

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye 2016!

In some ways 2016 wasn’t the best of years - many negative things happened, many good people died, and in general, the news was more unusually on the gloomy side. As is usual at this time of year, I am taking stock of my own life, and while not everything went swimmingly, I think there were many things to celebrate and be grateful for.

A Personal and Creative Update
On the personal side, I went to India to celebrate my mom’s 60th birthday with family and friends, and it was a wonderfully joyous occasion. I shifted house, and am very happily settled in at the new place, although there are still many things to do (still awaiting the delivery of the living room sofa!) I got back in touch with some old friends that I hadn’t heard from in years, which was also wonderful.

On the creative side, I finally managed to complete the revised edition of my cluster munitions book, and after months of despair, I ended up quite happy with it. I also managed to complete the first draft of a collection of essays that I hope to complete and publish next year. I started a new series of author interviews on my blog, and enjoyed getting a peek into the writing process of fellow authors. I read more books than I had planned to (91) although less than the year before (over 110). I learned a lot of new things on the marketing and business front. I also started a creative collaboration that I am excited about, and will probably share more about next year.

Looking Forward
This is also the time to make goal lists, and while I don’t usually make a list of resolutions, I do have goals and directions in which I would like to move my life. Inevitably things don’t always go as planned, but it is still good to have something concrete to focus towards. My main resolutions for 2017 are to become healthier, fitter and lose a certain amount of weight, as well as to write and publish my first fiction and my aforementioned essay book. I also have other creative projects I hope to complete.

I am planning to take my blog in a new direction, although I am not sure exactly what that is just yet. There will probably be more changes, but the one constant is that I hope to keep learning, work harder than I did this year and keep pushing myself to be more creative and share what I am learning in the hope that others can somehow benefit from my creative journey.

I am keeping this short because a glass of wine is calling my name. I want to wish all those reading this blog a very happy, prosperous and creative 2017!

My Top 5 Writing Apps of 2016

I tend to do a round-up post of my favorite apps around this time every year. While the current year is on its way out, and we are getting into party mode, I have started thinking about my plans and goals for the next year. Which means I am thinking of the tools and apps and methods and systems that I will use to achieve my goals. This invariably leads to me assessing what I used for the past year and how that has changed since 2015, and no doubt will continue to change in the future.

This year I focused a lot more on reading, especially on my phone, because I tried to catch up on my reading in the nooks and crannies, on public transport, while waiting in lines at the grocery store, waiting for the rice to boil - that sort of thing. I also wrote more, but in dribs and drabs and in stops and starts. So while the post is titled apps for writing, I also mean apps that help me as a writer. 

1. Scrivener
Where would I be without this favorite piece of software? I am writing this post on Scrivener, and almost all the posts on the blog this year on it (with the exception of the author interviews). This year Scrivener also finally released its iOS version, although I admit I haven’t tried that yet. I much prefer to write on the computer and only take occasional notes on my phone or tablet. I did buy my very first Mac this year, and switched to the Mac version of Scrivener, which is much, much better. I have also switched to formatting my ebooks on Scrivener, something I heard many authors did but I hadn’t gotten around to earlier. Needless to say, another reason why I love, love this software.

2. Grammarly
I have started using Grammarly towards the last quarter of this year and so far find it extremely useful. I haven’t started with the paid version as yet, but probably will soon; however, even the free version is good enough and helps enough for anyone who has contemplated using it to give it a try. I even got my father using it for his corporate documents.

I don’t really like using it for my daily writing, but after my meticulous multiple rounds of edits, I have run Grammarly through one of my manuscripts, and it found numerous small errors that I am pretty happy to have found and fixed. 

3. OneNote
I used to be a big fan of Evernote, and still use it for archiving things I want to find later, such as articles and recipes. However, for all my daily planning, keeping track of projects and note-taking I have switched almost exclusively to OneNote. Although it isn’t perfect and can be glitchy, I find it's great for helping me manage my many projects, both writing and non-writing related. I finally updated my cluster munitions book this year, and I managed that almost exclusively through OneNote. 

4. Overdrive
You can’t be a writer if you don’t read voraciously, and I am always juggling several books at once. Even though the list of books I own on my various devices is incredibly long, I am always nosing around for more books. This year I discovered Overdrive, which I have access to through my local library, and I have been listening to audiobooks and reading on the app. I finally got through a couple of Michael Lewis’ books and read a ton of books that are too popular at the library but were somehow available through the app. Now my bi-monthly trip to the library has become far less frequent, mostly because while I love paper books, I love the instant gratification of being able to download a book as soon as I think to look for it. This is especially great because many non-fiction books in the genres that I love aren’t always available in the bookstores in Singapore and not all online bookstores allow us to buy books here - maybe its just me or maybe its the location, either ways, its a major pain. So Overdrive to the rescue. 

5. Kobo 
My final app is also a reading app. I love the Kobo app - it's an absolute pleasure to read books on it. It is the best reading app by far, and as far as possible I try to read all my books on it. Aside from the reading experience, it gives you stats on your reading, such as how many pages you have read, how much time spent reading and more detailed info for each book. I also love the quotes feature - you can highlight a quote and share it as an image - and I even shared quotes from my own book using this feature. 

Honorable Mentions:
I would like to mention the Buffer app for scheduling social media updates and Canva for creating images. These tools are invaluable - whether the desktop or mobile versions (I use both). I do have several other apps, but these are the ones that help me most as an author. 

What apps do you use, and how have they changed since the same time last year? I’d love to hear about other tools, so please let me know what has worked for you.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

How I Write: Authors on Their Writing Process - Eliza Green

The last interview of the year is with Eliza Green, science fiction and YA author.

1.         What are your books about? Are you self / traditionally published or hybrid?
I’m a self-published author and I write science fiction books. My books are very character-centric but immersed in a strong science fiction storyline. The stories are set in the near future and are quite down to earth. If you read my books, you might think you’re reading about a future that is happening now or could happen tomorrow!

I have two series right now: one is called the Feeder series, which is young adult. It’s about a girl who is sent to an education facility, but she is plunged into a dangerous game where there can only be one winner.

My adult series is called the Exilon 5 series. It’s a story based on two worlds: Earth and Exilon 5. The World Government has begun to transfer the population from an overcrowded and air polluted Earth to a utopian Exilon 5. But there’s another race living on the new world. Tensions are high and secrets are revealed. I’m currently editing the fourth book in this series. I’m also rewriting the first book, Becoming Human, with my editor to bring it in line with my much improved writing style. I released the first book in December 2012. The time has come to sharpen up that bad boy!

2.         When did you first start writing?
I started writing in 2009. I was searching for a creative outlet in other projects and nothing I tried hit the mark for me.  I got the urge to write when I was frustrated by a book I was reading and wanted to change the ending. Then I thought, “I can change the ending. I can control the story. I just have to write my own book.” So I wrote a different book, a women’s fiction novel and my interest grew from there. The more I learned about writing, the more I loved it.

3.         What's your writing process like? Do you outline? Do you write by hand / type / dictate?
I used to be a pantser, you know, someone who writes by the seat of their pants?  But I found I was getting off topic too easily in my draft and working too hard to rein it back in. My preferred method now is to outline the story into chapters, then write those chapters. That becomes my first draft. I still get the urge to write without planning, but I benefit more if I have an idea of what each chapter is about.
I use a PC. I type pretty fast, so it’s the only way for me to sync with the story in my head. I think faster when I’m not speaking out loud, so dictating doesn’t work for me. Hand writing is too slow. It frustrates me. Typing is the only speed that feels in any way natural.

4.         What's your editing process?
I churn out a basic draft to get the story down. Then I go over it to refine it a lot more, and flesh out the ideas and the chapters. At that point I use a beta to test the story, find plot holes or uncover areas where the story is weak. After, I refine my manuscript a little more, add in technical details and make sure the research is up to scratch. Then I use more betas to test the story with. The version the second betas get is a lot more complete than the one the first beta gets.

After final beta feedback, I self-edit until I can’t do anything more with the manuscript.  I send it off to my copy editor who acts as another beta. And finally, my proofreader.

5.         Any favorite apps / software / technology for writing?
I’ve started to use Scrivener for my writing but I still need to figure it out. Sometimes when you start using these software packages, another one comes along and you’ve got to decide if there’s an advantage to the newer one. I also use Word, which is where I started writing. I still use it to format and upload a final draft to the sales sites.

6.         When in the day do you usually write? For how long?
I have to write in the morning, when I get up. My brain is at its most productive then. I don’t really stick to a time, more of a word count. If I’m writing new material, I try to get a chapter done, around 2k words. If I’m editing, I try to do two or three chapters. I usually hit a wall when I’m in this creative mode. Anything after the wall is counterproductive. That’s when I stop and do other tasks.

7.         Where do you feel most inspired to write?
I write at a specially-built desk in my bedroom. When you’ve got deadlines, you need to find inspiration, not wait for it to come to you. I’m currently looking for good places to write the first drafts of my longer books. I love my desk, but I’m also getting sick of the familiar space. It’s not a good space for me when I’m writing new material!

8.         Describe your desk / writing corner / favorite writing spot.
My desk sits in a nice little nook between the door and my ensuite bathroom. I have a large monitor and a reading lamp, three notebooks filled with to-do lists and two diaries, one for 2016, the other for 2017. I have a desk tidy with all my pens, sticky notes, calculator and highlighters. Rey from Star Wars sits in one corner and protects me from harm!

9.         Do you listen to music while you write? What kind of music?
Yes! I love music and listen to Zero 7 on repeat.  It’s part of my Chillout playlist. The point of music while I write is to have it become background music. When I can kill all distractions, I can concentrate on the task at hand. One or two hours fly by if I’m working on something and Zero 7 is playing.

10.      Do you ever get writers' block? What are some ways you get around it?
I don’t really get writer’s block. I get stuck on weak plots/characters or areas in my story that feel forced. If that happens, I’ll go for a walk. No phone, no music. Just me alone with my thoughts. It can be very helpful to talk yourself through a problem.

If I’m working on a draft, I just try to write something and the ideas usually flow from a few sentences. The writing shouldn’t be perfect. Leave that perfection for your editing. The brain needs to be relaxed for the ideas to come. Don’t overanalyze your first draft writing.

11.      Do you now, or did you ever have any day jobs? Did they add to or detract from your writing?
I worked a full time job during the first 7 years of my writing career. It detracted massively from my writing. I needed to write in the morning, not when I came home tired in the evening. So I managed to do a little writing in work when things were quiet. It took the pressure off. You become very productive when you have little time to write, but it’s not always your best work you’re producing.

I went full time this year and I’m 9 months into it. It’s going really well and I’m happy I took the plunge. Now that writing is my full time job. I make time for it. There are no excuses.

12.      What project are you working on now?

I’m working on Book 4 in my Exilon 5 series.  I’m also writing novellas connected to my Feeder series and a couple of other small novellas. I plan to write the first draft of Breeder (Book 2 in the Feeder series) in January 2017. There’s a lot going on right now!


Eliza Green tried her hand at fashion designing, massage, painting, and even ghost hunting, before finding her love of writing. She often wonders if her desire to change the ending of a particular glittery vampire story steered her in that direction (it did). After earning her degree in marketing, Eliza went on to work in everything but marketing but swears she uses it in everyday life, or so she tells her bank manager.

Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, she lives there with her sci-fi loving, evil genius best friend. When not working on her next amazing science fiction adventure, you can find her reading, indulging in new food at an amazing restaurant or simply singing along to something with a half decent beat.


Orphaned and homeless, seventeen-year-old Anya Macklin is rehoused and enrolled in the adult skills course at Arcis, a secretive and heavily monitored education facility.

But what begins as a supportive programme of growth and learning soon turns into a dangerous game where there can be only one winner.

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