Roma is a communication coach and a writer from Pune

Helping others carve a niche in the field of communications

Roma believes she is destiny’s child and loves to embrace life as it comes. She stated off as an engineer and soon found communication and creative writing to be her calling. Today after writing two books, she has started her own communication academy with the intention of giving back and helping students open up and communicate well to reach their full potential.

She comes from a small backward town in Uttar Pradesh . Roma traveled extensively during her growing up years as her father had a transferable job and in later years for her work, spanning eight Indian states and across umpteen number of countries for job related assignments.

Roma is a communication coach and a writer from Pune

How did you decide to start your academy?

It’s a million dollar saying that our experiences in the childhood shape up a significant part of our future. I was five, a grade 1 student, when dad was transferred to Tamil Nadu in the eighties. While I didn’t understand an iota of the particularly tough Tamil language which my class mates and everyone spoke and they didn’t get a word of my Hindi, we managed it with some words of English for a considerable time.

About the same time, as I commenced my journey in elocution on stage as a first grader, I bagged the first prize. What a boost it was to my morale and I basked in the glory. No one taught me the nuances or the voice modulation but I loved leaving no stone unturned to improve upon my previous best and scanned voraciously the limited sources available at that time.

Creative writing and public speaking became my passion. I tried ever genre of it and immersed myself in literature. Listening to world’s best orators gave me a high and I stepped into Shakespeare’s characters in my dreams. Poetry was my all-time favourite and I would scribble on every tiny piece of paper I could grab. I always wanted to write and speak and always yearned to master impeccable communication skills.

Whether it was anchoring for a week long inter college cultural fests or a national debate, I felt honored when I was always considered the first choice. By default the notice boards were adorned in my articles and poems. My communication skills helped me bag my dream jobs which took me round the globe and I was happy writing on and off.

But it was only during my maternity career break that I realized this set of skills was my true calling. I always dreamt of opening a communications academy for one and all where I would aid them overcome their fright of speaking their minds without the slightest fear.

Since my childhood, I have met children and adults who are an ocean of knowledge but find it extremely difficult to put it into words and literally shiver if put on stage. While I cracked the interview the one who groomed me for the answers probably didn’t communicate it that well and so was rejected.

Public speaking undoubtedly is an art which not only enables you to put yourself strongly across the table but also creates a lasting impression on the minds of the listener and same goes for creative writing too. With God’s grace, I materialized this dream of mine and started this academy after working sleeplessly on the modules for several months and still continue to do so. The idea is to teach the basics and nuances as well as the X factor to help them come out of their shells and have a strong foothold wherever and whenever they choose to express themselves.

What is unique about Roma’s academy?

There are quite a few mass com academies currently running in India who groom the students for specific vocations while mine differs from all of them completely for it is not vocation centric but it is individual needs centric. Plus I don’t have an age bar and anyone from six to sixty years and beyond are welcome. The modules I create are meant to bridge the gap in the skill set of an individual which prevents him from expressing his intellect in front of a set of strangers or a crowd. Students are trained in batches as well as individually, as need be, on professional microphones, pseudo stages and in real time simulation case studies in a fun way so that it becomes a way of life for them over a period of time and the fear just melts away and vanished forever.

We made very humble beginnings with just the basic infrastructure in this academy and kept the fees nominal to give it maximum reach and accessibility to one and all. We envision expanding our services and offer certified courses in due course of time.

What benefits will students derive from doing a communications course?

A communications course helps a student express himself at the right place in the right way without the slightest fear. Additionally it liberates him of the inertia that holds him back as we render to him a new inertia which forces him to not only express but express smarter and smarter with regular practice sessions.

What is your advice to parents?

I would urge parents of young kids to motivate the precious pieces of their hearts to express themselves as much as possible. Let them participate in everything so that the inhibitions to face a crowd or strangers take a backseat early on. Early exposure and strong communication skills makes a child smart and wise. It is also vital to his safety these days. Do ponder!

Connect with Roma

You can read her everyday musings on her blog www.trulyyoursroma.com .If you have any queries please feel free to email her at roma.shobhit.sinha@gmail.com

#FreelancerFriday Being an author the self-published way- Interview with Preethi Venugopala

Today on Freelancer Friday we have with us, Preethi Venugopala who is an established author and talk with her about her journey from being a civil engineer to a self-published author. So, without further ado, lets dive in-

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background?

First of all, thank you, Neha, for having me over on your wonderful blog.

I am a civil engineer turned blogger turned author. I have published two novels, one novella, a few short stories in various anthologies and a few kids’ books. I also edit manuscripts. I have also an avid interest in portraiture and graphic designing.

How did the idea of writing a book come up?

The thought to convert an idea into a book came quite by chance. To be truthful, I saw the story of my first book in a dream. I noted down the major scenes and characters once I woke up. Then I tried expanding it into a novel and succeeded in it.

All I had written before writing my first book were a few short stories in inter-collegiate story writing competitions. The fact that I won the top prize both times might have been an indicator as to where I was headed eventually.

What do you mean by being a self-published author and difference between traditional publishing?

Self-publishing is a misnomer in a way. It is indeed the form of publishing where the writer is in charge of everything, the editing, the cover, the proofreading and marketing. Everything is under our control. We even decide the release date. But we don’t do it all ourselves. In self-publishing, the author need to find the professionals to do the above works and pay them from his/her own pocket.

In traditional publishing, though, you just submit your completed manuscript to the editorial team at the publisher. They do the editing, proof reading, cover design and releasing the book in print and eBook forms. The writer is paid an advance upon signing the contract. The publishing rights remain with the publisher for the contract period.

The con about the traditional publishing route lies in its unpredictability. Even if you submit a manuscript and sign a contract, you do not have much control over the cover design, release date or the final shape of the manuscript. A book may get published years after you submit it to the publisher.

The con of self-publishing is that the future of the book will depend upon the professionals the writer chooses to invest on.

How was the journey to being a self-published author like?

I have had a rollercoaster ride as a self-published author. My first book ‘Without You’ as of today has 268 ratings on Goodreads and 62 reviews on Amazon. All of them organic. I have published my second novel A Royal Affair which is also being received well.

But my path was not without roadblocks. I saw all the ups and down that comes in the way of a self-published author. There were haters who did what they could do to pull me down.

But there were also readers who wrote me long letters and suggested my book to others.

I am thankful that most part of the journey has been pleasant.

Your memories associated with the first book?

First book is always close to heart. I still remember biting off all my nails waiting to hear from my first beta-reader. If I hadn’t got the encouragement I got from her at that stage, I wouldn’t have become an author today.

I remember the happiness I felt the day the book was launched, signing the book for friends and readers and posing for photos.

I remember the first mail from a reader and also the first review I received.

Such things will always be cherished.

How did becoming a self-published author help?

I began as a traditionally published short story writer. All my short stories (5 stories published in different anthologies) got me readers. From these, I didn’t earn even a rupee.

But after I self-published my first novel, I began to earn from my writing. Also, I began to be recognised as an author.

My submissions to traditional publishers were given more importance than before. Recently, I signed two contracts with Juggernaut books. One for a single short story and the other for 9 short stories. I was paid for my work.

In a way, self-publishing made the journey to become a traditionally published author easier.

Is it a satisfying alternative?

It is a very satisfying and easy way to earn from your writing.

When you are a self-published author, you get to know the exact details of the number of books that are being sold, the number of pages that are being read and also the region where the book is being read or bought by logging onto your Amazon KDP account. It doesn’t matter whether your book is selling thousands of copies per day or just a few copies. Every detail is available to you.

All these details are never available to any traditionally published author without the data being tampered with by the publisher if I believe the tales I heard from many of my traditionally published author friends.

With Amazon KDP, it’s very easy to become addicted to self-publishing because of this transparency.

I know many other self-published authors as well who are making a living just from their eBooks.

Another point is you don’t need to wait for long to see your book published when you are self-publishing. If you’re going through the traditional route, there is a waiting period of minimum 6 months or a few years to get your book published.

Using Amazon KDP, your book gets published within a day and it becomes available to the reader immediately.

 You have recently released your latest book, tell a bit about that?

A Royal Affair is a story about second chances in love and a unique quest to find a lost relative in India undertaken by a British girl. It is my second published book though technically it is my third completed manuscript.

It tells the story of Jane and Vijay, lovers who were separated by circumstances, and thrown together again years later.

It was a very interesting book to write as I have never written a foreigner as main character or about a royal family in any of my stories or novels.

 

How much have you evolved from your first book to now?

When I published my first book, I didn’t know anything about self-publishing. But over the years, I have learned a lot through trial and error.

I guess I have become a better writer after I graduated from Anita’s attic last year under the able guidance of Anita Nair.

Your tips and suggestions for those looking to be a self-published author?

Over the years I have learned quite a few things about self-publishing yet every day comes with new insights.

The most important things to take care about when you are self-publishing are:

  • Write a good book:

This might sound silly but only a good book sells. Just putting anything out there doesn’t work. Readers are the gatekeepers in self-publishing, and unless your book satisfies them, they won’t consider buying you next time.

So, learn to plot, structure and write according to your genre.

  • Invest in a good editor, beta readers and cover designer

Don’t publish without getting your book edited by a professional editor. Even if you are a good editor yourself, don’t publish what you edited yourself. Our brain camouflages errors we make. But another person will be able to spot these errors better.

Beta readers will tell you whether your book is working. Find someone who loves reading the genre you write. Don’t send your romance book to a reader who reads only thrillers.

Your book cover can make or break your book in a way. If your book cover doesn’t appeal to a reader among the many book covers on Amazon, they might not buy it.

  • Market your book well

In self -publishing it is very important to market your book well. If you don’t post about your book on Social Media, nobody is going to know about your book or buy it. So, do not be ashamed about bragging about the reviews or best-selling ranks to your followers. You have to build an interest in the readers about your book.

Some invest a lot of money in this, but I believe you should not invest too much in this area. If you have built an author platform on social media, that works best than paid marketing.

You can connect with Preethi on the following links

My Website: A Writer’s Oasis

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads Author Page

Facebook Page

Twitter/ Instagram : @preethivenu

 

Book Review – The 23rd Girl


Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

Today’s post is special! I feel extremely proud when a fellow blogger takes the next step in this writing journey and decides to publish a book. Writing a book is no small feat. I can only imagine the effort, toil and struggle that the writer must have gone through while finishing his book. So, today’s post is special, as I review a book by a fellow blogger Rohan Kachalia. This is his first book and is co-authored with Divya Ratan, published by Half Baken Beans Publishing.

About the Author

Rohan is an avid reader and a writer and blogs at www.rohankachalia.com His short stories and poems have been published in various anthologies. His book, the 23rd Girl is his first co-authored book.

About the Book

It’s a nice easy read. The protagonist, Rashv character is well developed and is easily identifiable. You will know aleast one Rashv in your life, who is sweet, sauve, confident and has a never say die attitude. He is happy in his flaws but seems lost on the bigger picture. This book is about his obsession with the number 23, how he discovers the connection, how it becomes larger than his wishes and how he finally realizes his folly.

While the main character is Rashv, the other important character of the story is Roohi. Sadly Roohi comes in the frame a tad too late. A few characters that were there at the start of the novel like Rashv’s Mom aren’t found later on. The story gains pace after Roohi enters the story. Rashv’s character is well established and you know how he thinks, why he thinks and how will his reaction to things be, however the same is not true with Roohi. While we know about Rashv’s obsession with the number 23 and why he acts in a certain way, we do not know why Roohi is careful and guarded when it comes to love? I would have loved a more evolved character of Roohi. A bit more time spent on the ‘whirlwind’ romance that the two experience, would have been great.

The characters created are very relatable and it does give some semblance to the belief that few hold in this world for numbers or letters or the likes. There are some really cute lines interspersed in between which are sweet with a tinge of philosophy. My personal favorite is “There is a reason why you should always listen to your heart. They are like a non-complicated GPS. Hearts see a single road when mind sees two.” Beautiful isn’t it? Overall it’s a good read.

Wishing Rohan all the very best and hoping to see a book authored by him in the near future.

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge

The pianist #FridayFotoFiction


Indian Bloggers

“Khwaab ho tum ya…” wafted through the air and reached his ears, as he sat down to read his morning newspaper. He stopped peering over the newspaper with a magnifying glass and started humming the music as his fingers involuntarily played an imaginary piano in the air. Eyes closed, a smile lingering on his lips, he was a serene picture to behold except for a small tear that rolled down the corner of his eye. Rustom missed his piano and a life as a musician in Hindi film industry.

In the new era, musicians were replaced by electronic music and computers. Regaled into the past, Rustom continued playing at events but once arthritis made his fingers painful and stiff, he had to let go. Today all that was left was albums of pictures from his heydeys and such mornings when an old classic transported Rustom to the bygone era.

Linking up this post to Tina and Mayuri for #FridayFotoFiction

 I want to take my Alexa Rank to the next level with My Friend Alexa

Tina Basu

A Treasure of Deeds

blog ill 1 busblog ill 1 busblog ill 1 busblog ill 4 busYusuf was a bus conductor. He wasn’t highly educated, nor was he extremely pious. He was a simple guy who loved his family. He was hardworking and a simple person. A typical day for him meant getting up early, completing his religious prayers, helping his wife with some chores, and depending on his duty shifts either dropping or picking the children from school. He was a private man. He lived in a ‘basti’ in Mumbai, and harbored dreams that his children should be well educated and get good jobs. He had friends from all religions and he never considered his two daughters any less than a boy.

Yusuf didn’t read many religious books nor did he consider himself a scholar of Quran, but believed Allah blessed people who worked hard and helped others and lived by this ethos. So at times he would buy a ticket for a rag picker who looked too tired to walk home or calm down a crying school girl when she realized she forgot the bus money at home. He did such small gestures as and when possible. He called them ‘Neki ka khazana’.

One day Yusuf was on the night duty. It was their last run before the bus would be driven into the bus depot and the driver and Yusuf could go home. As it was a night run and the route on which their bus plied was majorly empty and lonely they did not expect many passengers. The few passengers that had gotten into the bus at the start of the journey got down. The driver said “Now if we don’t get any more passengers we might be at the depot in the next half an hour” Yusuf agreed and was happy as it was a holiday next day and he had promised his daughters to take them to Chowpaty.

As the driver and Yusuf chit chatted about the plans next day, they saw the lights of a car blinking away at a distance. The driver slowed the bus as they reached near the car and they saw a young girl peering over the open bonnet. Yusuf asked the driver to stop and asked the girl “Kya hua madam? Gaadi shuru nahi ho rahi aapki?” (What’s the matter? Did your car break down?) She looked up and nodded and said “My vehicle broke down and I am waiting for an auto or a cab to come by” Yusuf informed her that this part of the road was usually empty at nights and she might not find an auto or cab. He asked her to get in the bus and they could drop her till the depot which was in the heart of the city, from where getting a cab or rickshaw would be easier. She looked uneasily at the empty bus, but realized she had no other alternative. She got into the bus cautiously. Yusuf realized her uneasiness and said casually, she should inform someone at home about her problem and the fact that she is boarding a bus. He even offered their depot address and phone number for her relatives to contact.

She felt reassured by his thoughtfulness and smile. She settled down and the bus started down the lonely strench. Just as they crossed a party lawn two young men got into the bus. They seemed to be a little drunk. As they got into the bus, they eyed the girl sitting at the back. They smiled at each other and started making way towards the seat where she was sitting. Yusuf and the driver knew these men could mean trouble. Yusuf quickly got in the way and said “Pehle ticket nikalo phir baitane jao” (First take the tickets and then go) As the men fumbled with their wallets, he addressed the girl “Beti tum bhi aake ticket le lo” (You too come here and buy the ticket) The girl realized that Yusuf was asking her to sit at the front of the bus near the driver and open door. She quietly made her way past the men and sat in front. He then told the men to go sit at the back. As they protested and started acting rude, Yusuf and driver stole a quick look and he simply said “The smell of the liquor makes the driver vomit and we don’t want an ill driver on this empty road!”

As the driver drove the bus in full speed, Yusuf said a quick prayer and stood between the boys and the girl. The rest of the journey was uneventful and they reached the depot in the next 20 minutes. As all got down, the girl saw someone who had come to pick her up. She thanked the driver and Yusuf and quickly made her way to the waiting car.

The next morning, Yusuf saw a number of calls from the bus depot. He called back and was informed to reach the depot in half an hour. He got worried and hurriedly got ready to reach the depot.  As he reached the depot, he saw his friend the driver from earlier night pacing around impatiently. As he saw Yusuf he said “Even you have been called on a holiday! What do you think is the reason? Hope our holiday is not cancelled.” Just as they were discussing the possible reason for such urgent summons, they saw the girl from the earlier night smiling and coming towards them. “Hello my name is Aalia. I am a reporter with Peoples Voice newspaper. I would like to take your interview.” Now they were totally baffled. Yusuf asked “Madamji hamara interview kyu?” (Why take our interview?) Aalia said “We are so used to reading about unruly drivers, rapist cab drivers, rude conductors that drivers and conductors are seen with a preconceived notion of being repugnant or atleast impolite. You changed my attitude yesterday and now I want the world to know my story and see you all in the same light” I just want to know what made you do what you did yesterday. Yusuf and the driver just smiled and said “Madamji we did not do anything great. We have children, wives and sisters. It’s just something any decent man would have done” Yusuf added “My daughters too go on their own to school or tuitons. I can’t be with them always, but I believe if I help someone with my deeds Allah ensures that there is someone to look out for my daughters as well! Neki ka khazana kabhi zaaya nahi hota.”

Illustrations by – Smitha Patwardhan

Love means…

Chavvi had it all. She was smart, intelligent, beautiful, hardworking and determined. Being intelligent had ensured that her school and college life was breeze. After school, like all students scoring above 90% she had opted for Science stream. She didn’t hate it, so she told herself that it was the perfect choice and went on to be among the few toppers in her college. Again when it came to choosing what next, she went with what her peers were choosing. She decided Medicine was not her thing and hence she opted for the next best thing – Engineering in Computer Science. She finished it with above average scores and then joined an IT company.

Like every girl, she had her girl gang that was with her right from school days and they shared gossip, crushes and dreams. Dreams of a perfect tomorrow with their prince charming.  Meeting up for coffee and long walks had been a thing with her girl gang since high school and that tradition continued even as they started working in different fields.

It was time for their weekly meet-up and Chavvi was super excited. She had to share this with her friends. She raced up to her bike and wore her helmet. As she reached the coffee shop she saw two of her friends were already there. She waved at them and quickened her step. Just as they sat, the last of the member joined in.  They all were aware of Chavvi’s excitement. Anu, one of the friends said “Out with it, I can’t handle the suspense.” Chavvi quipped “You know Sameer, from office? He proposed to me yesterday and I said Yes! My parents are fine with it and Sameer said he will talk to his parents this weekend”, she gushed. Everything was moving so quickly, she could hardly believe her luck. “Sameer might have to go onsite for long term, by year end and I want to get married before that. I can’t think of staying apart for so long.” After the initial shock, the usual rounds of congratulations and gossip and giggles continued.

Sameer came from a conservative family while Chavvi came from a more modern background. Her mother had been a working woman and she encouraged and instilled qualities of independence and great self esteem in both her daughters. So Chavvi knew she might have to make a few changes to her lifestyle to adjust in her new family and she was fine with it. The “girl meets the family” day came and Chavvi was a tad bit nervous. She smoothed some imaginary creases from her well pressed peach salwar-suit and looked into the mirror. Her long black hair was neatly pleated. She looked beautiful as always. She looked into her watch and was just picking her keys when she heard Sameer outside. He had come to pick her up. She loved these small chivalrous ways.

She went to his house and met his family. They all loved her and she too was instantly comfortable in their company.  Chavvi realized that though the family had traditional way of living, they weren’t orthodox and nor were they narrow minded. She enjoyed their company. By the end of the evening everybody were talking on the lines of making it official and having both the families meet each other. Chavvi couldn’t contain her happiness. Her life really was perfect.

As her courtship days progressed Chavvi suddenly became aware of Sameer’s possessive attitude. It seemed harmless at first, but later it felt as if he was keeping tabs on where she was every hour. She was expected to dress differently, the once loved look of a formal skirt and top was suddenly ‘too much’ When argued the prompt reply was, she supposedly looked better in Salwar Suits and as it is post wedding she would be expected to wear just that. Chavvi who was known for her quick decisions, started hesitating before taking one. She was suddenly explaining herself more and more. Whatever she did never seemed enough or right. Her friends and family was beginning to notice the change.

Around the same time, her friend Anu was planning to start her own venture. She was a fashion designer and was planning to start an online store. She approached Chavvi to help in designing the website and becoming a partner in running the business. “Chavvi I have always loved your style. You have a creative flair in you and I want you to tap it for this venture. I want you as a partner not just as a friend helping me design my site. I will teach you the technicalities but I want you to be a part of my dream. Think about it.” Chavvi was super excited when she heard about it. “I will discuss it with Sameer, she quickly replied. She was surprised at her own answer, but kept quite.” As soon as Anu left, Chavvi called Sameer “Anu has a great idea for her online store. She wants me to help build the site and be a partner. Isn’t that great?” She quipped. She was so excited about it that she could hardly contain her happiness. Sameer just listened and finally said “I don’t think it’s a great idea for you. First of all you work in such a good company, why do you want to waste time building a site? Secondly I am sure Anu has no money to pay you for the site and hence she is asking you to be a partner. Third you are a computer engineer not a fashion designer, why get into all this and waste time. Rather I think you should leave the job once my onsite project is confirmed. After that till wedding you can enjoy and then travel with me.”

Chavvi was stunned to listen to this. “Why should I leave the job. I had informed the manager earlier and he was confident of finding me an onsite assignment along with you. If that does not work out I can always look for a job there or maybe start with Anu and then manage things from there. I am sure Anu and me can work it out.” She said. “Are you crazy? You are too naïve. I never liked Anu and I am sure she is just trying to extract work from you. Why do you even have to work?  Stay at home, learn some good cooking from my mom and we will have a great time.”

By now Chavvi was too dumbfounded to speak. She just managed to say “I will call you later and hung up”. When she did not come for dinner, her mother came to her room and found her lying in her bed listlessly staring at the ceiling fan. “Chavvi is everything alright?” her mother asked. Chavvi sat up and hugged her mother. She did not know where to start, but she knew she had to tell her mother. She told her about her conversation with Sameer. “I don’t understand! That’s not the guy I fell in love with. I realized that I was changing but I thought it was a part of being in a relationship” Her mother put her arm around Chavvi to comfort her. “Chavvi I will not comment on what Sameer should and should not do, but there are a few things that concern me and I need to tell you about it. Since you have been in this relationship I have lost my confident, determined and go-getter Chavvi and in her place have seen a new confused, doubtful and always hesitant Chavvi evolve. That is not my daughter. I did not raise her to be that. I did not say anything as I was not sure if this change was self inflicted or due to external circumstances. A relation should not alter your personality, your trust in self and life. I believe that every relation in our life should be enriching. It should add something to our personality and give us a new dimension, and vise-versa, only then does it mean that both the individuals involved give equal respect to each other’s thoughts and wishes. Respect for the partner has to be the most important quality in any relation. If a relation is changing you against your wishes then it is necessary to take a step back and think hard.”

Suddenly everything was clear. Chavvi hugged her mother and said “Yes mother I forgot my worth while trying to please others. I will never ever do that again.” She had her dinner and slept well in many months. The next morning as she got ready for office and stepped out of the house, she found a new confidence. She reached office, met Sammer and said “I don’t think our relationship will work. I love you, I really do, but I love myself more. I want a guy who completes me and you don’t match up to that.” So saying, she walked off with a smile on her face and a confidence to be herself.

Photo Credit - http://sootzy.deviantart.com/art/Love-169384761

Photo Credit – http://sootzy.deviantart.com/art/Love-169384761