Sunday, February 29, 2004

Short takes
Sage advice for aspiring authors
Randeep Wadehra

The Writer's Guide to Getting Published
by Chriss McCallum. Indus. Pages x+182. Rs 225.

The Writer's Guide to Getting PublishedONCE upon a time writing used to be an esoteric art. Troubadours, playwrights et al were sustained by princely patrons. Later on, jilted lovers and assorted failures in life took over writing. They poured their tales of woe on paper, fictionalised the narrative a bit and then went in, generally a heartbreaking, search of publishers. Most writers died in penury while publishers fattened themselves on profits from posthumous editions. Critics made a living by churning out intellectual discourses in prestigious publications. Scholars tried to understand the why's, when's and how's of the writer's life and craft. So, post-obit glory was the only reward for the poor penpusher. This is no longer so. Writers now get a far better, although not necessarily equitable, deal.

However, today's marketplace is highly competitive, making it imperative for aspiring authors to get expert guidance. Something that The Writer's Guide to Getting Published offers to do. There are genre-wise chapters on short stories, novels, poetry and song lyrics, screenplays, scripts for theatre, and articles for variegated markets. McCallum provides useful information on various aspects of writing and publishing, right from preparing your work for submission to finding suitable publishers and approaching them. Legal aspects concerning plagiarism, copyrights, libel etc too have been dealt with.

Despite a plethora of publishers it's not easy to break into the business. It's still a buyer's market. As the book's preface cautions, it's not the most brilliant of writers who get published, but those who're able to meet the demands of editors. In other words the market defines the type of work that would be acceptable for publishing. This is where writers are expected to conduct research on their own.

Expectedly, there's a chapter on internet. E-publishing is catching up in a big way. It's a la mode to download e-books onto your palmtop and read them while travelling or at your convenience. E-mail is perhaps the fastest and cheapest way of reaching out to publishers around the world. But is it reliable? What precautions should be taken to protect your rights as a creative person?

Truly, today the writer's world is no more dreary and despondent. Yet it's, in a way, more challenging. To meet the challenge you need information of the right kind. This book does exactly that. Don't let initial failures daunt you. Keep honing your craft by reading good literature and books by experienced professionals, and yes, keep writing.


Success Secrets of the Rich and Happy
by Bart A. Baggett. Sterling. Pages 442. Rs 250.

Success Secrets of the Rich and Happy How does one become successful in a given field? Is it something that's preordained, or do one's efforts have a bearing on the shape that one's future takes? Baggett feels that our brainpower has a lot to do in making us rich and happy. Human mind is a programmable creative machine. We can de-program ineffective mental programs and design new ones that help one achieve cherished results. But this is easier said than done. Is there some way that enables us to change fixed mindsets?

This book aspires to "transform" your mind with the help of, among other things, certain tools. What are these tools? Well, for starters, there's the business of defining your highest goals. That's easy enough. You're also advised to change your handwriting and fulfill six human needs like nutrition, finance etc. Replacing your enfeebling belief systems with ones that empower you to become a person you choose to be is something you'll have to work on real hard. He advises you to ape successful people ha, we do that all the time, don't we?

In the chapter Personality Success Secrets, Baggett sagely reveals, "It has been said that the person with the most flexibility wins." If you didn't know this already, you ought to buy the book.


A-Z of Natural Therapies
by Judy Jacka. Indus. Pages xviii+350. Rs 200.

A-Z of Natural Therapies So you've had a sumptuous feast and are contemplating the world with a benevolent, almost indulgent, eye. No? Oh, you're having this burning sensation in the tummy? Yes, stomach inflammation is quite common now, what with junk food, pollution and adulteration of all sorts assailing the human body. So how does one get rid of this discomfort? Decoctions of assorted herbs, homeopathic formulations, vitamins and minerals can all help, asserts Jacka.

Vegetarianism's in, so is alternate therapy. More and more people are realising the need for eating food that preserves and even enhances health. With growing awareness of allopathic drugs' after-effects, the need for more beneficial medicinal systems is being increasingly felt. This is where Judy Jacka's book comes in handy. It states that natural therapy scores over holistic approach in curing various ailments. The natural way emphasises love and care for patients.

Various maladies have been listed, along with their respective causes and case studies. Appropriate treatment is also suggested in detail. Whether it's abdominal migraine or Bell's palsy, gallstones or hay fever, gout or venereal warts, all have been duly studied in this book.

Good for reference purposes.