How I Wrote my Comic Book by Priyanka Vermani: Book Review

Title: How I Wrote My Comic Book: The Journey

Author: Priyanka Vermani

Genre: Memoir

How I Wrote My Comic Book is as bookish as can be. It is a book about the creation of a comic book- the fulfilment of a long cherished dream and the culmination of an often arduous journey.

Review

Priyanka, the new Mom, has a dream. She wants to create a book that serves as a guiding light and legacy for her one year old daughter, Samaira. And thus starts the journey of creating a graphic novel or a comic book, with limited resources but with limitless imagination and creativity.

This book is a chronicle of all the stages of creating the book, right from the conceptualisation to the finished book.

It is an exhilarating read for creative people, for designers, for artists dabbling in the visual arts and for writers. Each chapter is a gem, touching on one or the other part of the book’s creation process.

What works well

The cover art is lovely. Much work has gone into designing it to showcase what the book is all about. In fact, an entire chapter has been dedicated to how it came together.

The format is well suited to the story of a comic book. The colour scheme and the fonts were a definite change as were the two column format.

There is also a lot of learning if you are into writing. The chapters talk in detail about the conceptualisation, about the innumerable rounds of editing, about the challenges of collaboration, about the hurdles and the self doubts. There is plenty of encouragement too, from the little victories, the undying commitment and the unconventional way Priyanka sets out to achieve her dream.

On the other hand…

I did wish that more care had been taken in proofreading this book because there are many references to the A to Z challenge. Also, a couple of chapters were a little out of sync with the rest of the book like the mother in law’s illness.

About the Author

A Content Marketer with a creative streak, Priyanka has written content for corporate films and many kids learning applications. Based on her experience of her stay in London, she has authored a comic book – ‘Samaria and the Gang in London.’

Verdict

How I Wrote My Comic Book is a behind-the-scenes book about a creative process. Read it for the vicarious pleasure of being part of this journey.

Download this book here.

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Twelve Tales of Christmas by Cathleen Townsend: Book Review

Title: Twelve Tales of Christmas

Author: Cathleen Townsend

Genre: Short stories, Fiction

Synopsis

Christmas isn’t always Jingle Bells and “Ho, ho, ho.” In these Twelve Tales of Christmas, even Santa has to deal with unexpected German shepherds and reindeer who suddenly want to learn the tango. A dryad works feverishly with a teenage boy to save her tree, now in a stand in his living room, and everyone begs Death to hold off for just one more day.

And no one knows what to do with the fire-breathing dragon. He’s not going on the Christmas card list anytime soon.

Come enter worlds of beauty and dread. Join a house hob as he raises his cup of eggnog high, and enjoy yuletide yarns delicious enough to tempt even St. Nick.

Review

The stories in this collection, meant to be a Chritmas vacation read are delightful, surprising and thankfully all positive because no one wants to feel sad in this season. Every story made me smile. Some for the kindness, others for the love. These tales are magical, more than literally so. The language is lovely. The stories touch your heart in unexpected ways. You feel love, empathy, kindness, hope and joy, which is quite a lot for this short and sweet read.

The language is precise, sharp, witty and the stories present different flavours. Christmas makes up the theme and the spirit of the stories but the settings and the protagonists have a lot of variety.

Short and longer stories are mixed together judiciously. There are short bursts of positivity interspersed with longer, deeper ones. The shorter ones usually leave you with a mood and the longer ones with the feel of the characters. At places, the characterisation is surprising and refreshing like Mori and the irritable dragon in the last and the longest story. The narrative voice is very mature and I loved the language. Each story threw up lovely words at me that evoked new feelings.

I really could not decide which were my most favourite stories. Each one seemed better than the last. ‘The Gift’ portrays the mind of an elderly woman so well that the reader is as delighted as the protagonist. I wished ‘Chritmas Tango’ was longer. And ‘Snowflake’ is both poignant and beautiful. These stories tantalise and because they are short, the reader to forced to think up what happens later. ‘Department Store Santa’ shows a world that is hard up. Everyone has troubles but it is possible to forget them in little lovely moments. I loved the sensitivity of ‘The Angel in the Tree’. ‘Dragon Yule’ is a wonderful fantasy read.

This collection is easy enough for a quick read and rich enough to savour. Read it as your mood demands.

Buy this fantastic book here.

How Chris Baty saved me from going down the rabbit hole of despair

Chris Baty needs no introduction to NaNoWrimers. The founder of National Novel Writing Month, in 1999, along with 21 of his friends set out to write a complete novel of 50k words. He has been an inspiration since, both in managing the November event and in pulling writers out from the depths of despair through his pep talks.

I had the fortune to read his book, ‘No plot, No Problem’, just before last year’s writing marathon. I sped read to ensure I knew everything about NaNoWriMo before getting into it. It is a hilarious, easy-to-read and profoundly informative manual on how to tackle the writing and how to conquer the fears, insecurities, the writing blocks and the inevitably super critical Inner Editor. Chris Baty goes into the entire month, moving from week to week, explaining what to expect and what problems the writers are likely to encounter and of course how to handle them. Through sharp wit and unrelenting humour, Chris Baty holds your hand through the entire process of churning out a first draft of a nearly full length novel.

Post NaNoWriMo, it is desirable that the first draft be revised and edited and rewritten to make it a readable book. But even if that does not come about and you feel that the world is not ready for your masterpiece just yet, doing the writing marathon is an incredibly rewarding experience.

Check out the book and sharpen your pencils.

A Wonderful Quest

There are times that a book comes along which is so refreshing and different that it forces you to step out of your mental comfort zone and look for answers.

The Quest of the Sparrows by Ravi ‘Nirmal’ Sharma and Kartik Sharma, the father-son duo, is a read that has inspired me to live an authentic life and to be generous. I am grateful to the Universe for conspiring to bring this book to me which has been such a lot of joy.

The Quest of the Sparrows

Take a look at the philosophy that guided the writing of the book.

https://youtu.be/tZEPfM_z638

Read the review of the book here.

After Life by Matthew O’Neil: A Book Review

Title: After Life

Author: Matthew O’Neil

Genre: Theology, Philosophy

Publishers: Ockham Publishing

Summary

The author of the book faced clinical death at age 14 because of an unusual medical condition. Resuscitated and limited in his physical capabilities, he yearned to understand his own near death experience. Thus began his quest to understand what happens when we die.

Through this excellently researched and well presented book, he aims to uncover the difference of opinion between the explanation that science offers and the beliefs that religion follows.

The book explores the various beliefs held in the Christian world about the concepts of Heaven, Hell, Resurrection and the Soul. The author then moves on to expostulate on the philosophical arguments for life after death and the scientific take on what happens when a person dies. 

Review

Early in his exploration of what happens when we die, the author discovered that there were many fanciful accounts of near death experiences narrated by people. But they only reflected the person’s awareness of contemporary and popular ideas of afterlife. 
This led him to study the various concepts of Hell, Heaven, Resurrection and the Soul in the Scriptures. 

There is extensive research in the book into how each concept has been shaped by various influences over time. The author dives into Scriptures that span centuries such as the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and traces the evolution of concepts beyond the Bible and through the philosophical arguments of the Thinkers.

The author concludes that our modern understanding makes assumptions that is at variance with what the Scriptures have said.
The book is well researched and in spite of the complexity of the subject, the material and the arguments are presented very well. The arrangement of the book into different subjects that relate to the after life are dealt in detail in separate chapters. The chapters themselves are laid out well, with studies from different texts dealt with separately. Each chapter ends with a conclusion, recapping the salient points which makes the understanding much easier.
In many ways, the book is an eye opener because the author makes clear that the events in the scriptures may not be the historical retelling of the events as some of the stories have been incorporated later in the Christian canon.

For a non fiction book, dealing with a serious topic and in a scholarly fashion, the book is written well enough to be very engaging. Personally, I do not know much about the Christian Scriptures but I was drawn in the retelling of events and the beliefs as they changed over time.
In the book, the author wants nothing but to present ’empirical, testable evidence’ and not merely beliefs based on biblical accounts or philosophical discussions on whether or not there is life after death has occured.
He tries to provide an answer to the question of whether we can come back to life after an untimely death? Is it possible to come back to life with our personalities, minds, experiences and all else intact?
Many eminent thinkers and contemporary philosophers are quoted, such as Dr. Brian Weiss, Deepak Chopra and Ian Stevenson among others. I have read the former two and have been impressed by their philosophy and works. Matthew O’Neil has managed to put their studies into perspective without belittling anyone. He deftly separates anecdotes from hard, conclusive evidence.

Verdict 

The book explains one of the most enduring questions regarding life and death. It is a unique blend of philosophy, scripture study and scientific arguments.

Extremely well researched, cogent and excellently presented, it guides the reader through drawing his own conclusions.
I rate this book 4 stars  🌠🌠🌠🌠

Disclaimer: A copy of the ebook was provided by the book publicist for an honest review.

Small Stones – Book

The cracked spine of the book 

digs through my palm 

The rustle of the pages 

brittle with age 

The musty odour wafting up 

Yellowing pages and faded words 

mingle with the bitter coffee 


What are small stones?

A small stone is a short piece of writing (any style) that precisely captures a fully-engaged moment for you. The process of discovering small stones is as significant as the finished creation. Searching for small stones encourages you to keep your senses on the “alive and alert” status. Involve yourself with a new set of eyes, ears, nose, mouth, fingers, feelings and mind. This is Mindful Writing at its best.