Posted in First Novel

6 Tips to keep your book on track

Over the past few months I’ve started experiencing a strange feeling. It’s the type that makes you hot under the collar, and it’s all to do with my writing.

At a coffee shop last week I hurriedly washed down a hot chocolate just so I could get home and carry on writing. Sometimes the feeling is so overwhelming that it frustrates me. But all is not lost, I’ve been learning to manage it better. Hope this works for you.

(1) Visualise the finished book


While you may not know what the book cover looks like right now, visualise. Visualise it sitting on the shelf of a book shop or part of someone’s personal collection. I’ve been known to pop into local bookstores just to see where it would sit snuggly.  It’s the end result that drives us on

(2) Don’t sit in silence

Some say it’s best to stay quiet about your work until it’s finished. Here I mean your nearest and dearest. By way of general conversation I’ll keep my family, friends and work colleagues up to date.  Talking about my writing, my progress spurs me on. It keeps the fire inside me burning. By talking I feel in touch with my work and this excites rather then frustrates.

(3) Get fresh air, get me time

I find time out is key and that’s not time away doing chores. Taking walks, any distance or in any weather opens up the lungs and refreshes the body. The stimulation results in fresh ideas flowing through your mind. Ideas that can come from the sounds of the outdoor.

(4) Change your scenery


Try not working from the same fixed location. I don’t use a laptop much for writing and we have one of those all-in-one computers. I variate the locations for when I want to write. To compensate for not using a laptop I often hand write sections and chapters. To really mix things up I have a collection of notebooks. Some are yellow paper, some grids and I’ve even used a dot notepad. But the most important thing is to work in different places, indoors and out.

(5) Writing blocks don’t need to last hours

My holiday for the festive period started on 23rd December. From this date to when I go back (2nd Jan) I identified the days that I would dedicate to editing my draft novel. What I find is writing in shorter blocks help. I could sit for a couple of hours at a time but in the past found it has a negative effect; but one size doesn’t fit all. My preference is 45 minutes at a time or maybe a set number of chapters. After which I’ll take a break, play a few games of table tennis if the kids are home. Making writing enjoyable and in manageable chunks.

(6) Never think why it’s taking so long

I started writing my current (and first) novel in December 2015. As I type these words I have finished the final draft which has gone through many iterations. I am hoping 2020 is publish year. But over the past few years I’ve often heard the words book finished yet? Why is it taking so long? While this can often deflate you, don’t be deflated. Don’t say to yourself it’s taking me too long but say look how long I’ve been committed to something, I’m proud of myself!

Every person has a story in them, you just need to put pen to paler and let it out. #happywriting

Posted in First Novel

Invitation Accepted

Book update: An Austin, Two Singhs and The Road

Extract Ed2

Inder and Gurcharan Chhatwal, like many other Asians before them,  toiled with the thought of leaving their homeland to come to England in search of work. Post the Commonwealth Immigrants Act in 1962,  this meant obtaining a government-based work voucher; some were successful, others not so lucky. But this story wouldn’t have existed if the brothers weren’t successful in obtaining their voucher.

Enjoy the snippet on this post, the authentic work voucher obtained by Inder Singh Chhatwal in 1963.

Voucher Front

In the coming weeks I will be visiting the multi-cultural town of Slough to better understand what life was like during Inder and Gurcharan’s time, also hoping to visit the houses where they were renting when they first arrived.

Related posts: A Story needs sharing

Posted in First Novel

Chhatwal Brothers: A Table Chat

It’s July 2015, following a brief conversation with Inder and Gurcharan Chhatwal, and with their kind permission, I decide I will capture the details of their road trip from Slough to India in late 1960’s.  Over the coming months I devise a set of questions and through an exchange of WhatsApp messages get an idea of some of the countries they had passed through on their way to their homeland.  Being mindful that I don’t want to waste their time and hence deliberating over how best to organise myself, I reluctantly pencil in a date in December to meet up with them both.

It’s December 2015, I wake up early with anticipation as in the next few hours Inder and Gurcharan will be arriving and I know these are two very punctual individuals.  I had been organised and set up the meeting space in my kitchen/diner the night before.  The olive oil in the cooking pan is nearing optimum heat and my wife is ready to dip the pakora (onion bhaji) mixture into it, ready for when our esteem guests arrive.

An hour later I am sitting around my dining table with Inder and Gurcharan, the recorder on my smartphone capturing every detail of the road trip being retold.  The brothers smile and chuckle as they recount the details, there are tears developing in their eyes, but these are of those good memories.  As we take a break to have something to eat, a realisation kicks in that this is more than just mere research or jotting some notes, this is a story that needs to be shared.  For a brief moment I am the passenger in the car but at the same time I am filled with sadness that I would never be bold enough to emulate something like this.  As our chat comes to an end and the Chhatwal brothers take their respective paths home, I am ever so grateful for the opportunity they have given me, I start tapping away on the keyboard with excitement like a kid who has the whole sweet shop to himself.

Me with Inder (left) and Gurcharan (right) Chhatwal
Me with Inder (left) and Gurcharan (right) Chhatwal

My first book – An Austin, Two Singhs and The Road

Posted in First Novel

My First Book: An Austin, Two Singhs and The Road

In 2015 a friend of mine told me he was travelling from Gravesend (UK) to Amritsar (India) by road, in a jeep.  A few days later, in a passing conversation two of my uncles informed me they had done a similar journey in 1967, from Slough (UK) to India in a Morris Austin Cambridge Estate.  It took them across 9 countries and over 21 days to complete, and before embarking on this road trip they had never driven out of London.

In December 2015 I started  interviewing them both just for research purposes, to capture some of those memories and experiences.  Then over a cup of tea I mentioned what a good idea it would be to make this into a book, their comment was would anyone be interested in reading it?  From that moment I was motivated to share their story with the world.

So since 2016 I have been on a journey of writing their story and with the turn of 2017 I am on track to share it with you!

Join this site to be part of something very special and I will keep you updated on the progress of my first book and reveal snippets of my interviews with the two gentlemen in question, the Chhatwal brothers.

An Austin, Two Singhs and The Road