About author, Anita Kushwaha: I was born on Spring Equinox, on the cusp of Aries and Pisces. I’m also a Monkey. (According to the Chinese Zodiac.)
I love the creative process in its various manifestations. I enjoy spending my time writing and teaching yoga. I’ve usually got a couple of books on the go. Baking gets me out of my head. (My remedy for writer’s block.) I’m also a loving wife, devoted auntie and proud cat mom. (My cat’s name is Noodles. He looks a bit like Garfield.)
I love trees, whales and elephants. My favorite color is green. I eat plants. I have no desire to travel to space. But a trip around the world ranks high on my bucket list. Writing has been my chosen method of self-expression from a young age. Last but not least, I bleed red and white, as any proud Canuck.
Describe your writing style in five words: Personal. Reflective. Witty. Touching. Memorable.
What made you want to be a writer? Writing has always been my chosen mode of self-expression from a young age. I started out with journaling and poetry—I have drawers full of notebooks—but then branched out to short stories and novels. For me, writing is more of a compulsion. It’s a drive that I can’t deny.
What was your writing/editing/publishing process like for your first book? The writing process FOR THE LOVE OF CUPCAKES was very enjoyable. I had a lot of fun writing it. I think it was that sense of joyfulness which made its way into the book and is part of the reason why it’s such a light-hearted read. The editing process was an interesting process. I’m always focused on making the manuscript as good as it can be. In other words, I take my ego out of the equation and take any constructive criticism that helps to refine the manuscript. It’s always interesting to see how it grows and charges with every iteration. I found the publishing process quite nerve-racking. It’s difficult to put yourself out there and see how others respond you your work. But, I’m pleased that the feedback I’ve received about the book has been positive.
Hard/paperbacks or eBooks? I happen to love all three for different reasons. When a book really speaks to me, I love to get it in hardcover and let it shine on my bookshelf. Paperbacks are probably my favorite because of the way they feel. And ebooks are great because they are so convenient.
What inspired you to write “For the Love of Cupcakes”? Seeds of inspiration for the story came from my own experiences working at a bakery for a couple of months—although my experiences were nothing like the ones Priya faces in the book. As a self-taught baker, I’d always imagined that working in a bakery would be the ideal job. So, when I was experiencing some ambivalence about graduate school, I took on a part-time job at a bakery. But, it was nothing like I had imagined it would be. Shortly after I had left the position, the idea for the book popped into my head. I scribbled down my ideas and didn’t do anything with them for about a year. Later, when I was waiting to hear about my doctoral dissertation revisions, I found myself with some time on my hands and lots of nervous energy to contend with. Feeling the need for some light-heartedness and fun in my own life, I picked up my old writing notes and started the book. When I started, I wanted to be entertained and so I set out to write a story that was entertaining.
What are you reading right now? ORYX AND CRAKE by Margaret Atwood.
How did you celebrate your book being published? I went out for dinner with my husband and ordered a glass of champagne. He has always been my greatest supporter, so it felt right to have an intimate celebration with just the two of us.
When writing, do you listen to music or watch TV? I always envy people who can listen to music or have the television on in the background while they write. In order for me to be able to concentrate, however, silence must prevail! Music, film and of course writing inspire me before and after I sit down at my computer.
What do you want your readers to take away from your books? Through my writing I hope to share stories that inspire and resonate with readers. With FOR THE LOVE OF CUPCAKES, I hope readers are inspired by the protagonist, Priya Patel, to dream, to act, and to persevere.
If you could meet any author, who would it be? That’s such a tough question! If I had to choose one, however, it would be Margaret Atwood. She’s a formidable Canadian writer whom I admire and who has had a great influence on me. So far the closest I’ve gotten is sitting in the front row when she was a speaker at a local book festival. Needless to say, I was awestruck.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given? The best advice I’ve ever been given with regards to writing is to read A LOT, and to learn how to read like a writer. Other pieces of advice that have helped me are: to write what you know, to keep writing (also known as the ass in chair method), and to approach writing with discipline like any other job.
Can you tell us about any upcoming projects? I’ve recently completed a novel that merges my love of writing and yoga entitled, FINDING OM. My current project is a collection of short stories that deal with the themes of tradition, belonging and identity.
Your National Novel Writing Month Survival Guide
By Anita Kushwaha, Author of FOR THE LOVE OF CUPCAKES
So, you’ve decided this is the year that you’re finally going to get the novel that’s been kicking around your head onto paper. You’ve committed to National Novel Writing Month (i.e. NaNoWriMo). First of all, good for you! It’s a courageous step with the potential for a big payoff—your novel out in the world! In this guest post, I’ve provided some helpful tips to keep you motivated and on track.
- Outline: Having a clear idea of what you want to write about will certainly help you get started at the initial stages of your project. Get back to basics and ask yourself: Who am I writing about? What is the main story arch or conflict about? Where is the story taking place? Why is this story compelling? How does the protagonist resolve the conflict, if at all? You might toss out your outline later. But at least you won’t start off with the nail-biting, sweat-inducing question: What am I going to write about?
- Daily Word Count: Have an idea of how long you want your manuscript to be and set a daily word goal. Are you planning on writing a novella of 20,000 words? Or a 100,000 behemoth? While it’s hard to predict exactly, having a general idea will help to guide your daily progress.
- Edit later: The goal for such an endeavor isn’t to produce a perfect manuscript at your first try. (Although, that would be nice, wouldn’t it? Sadly, it doesn’t exist.) Your task is to type your words out as efficiently as possible. Worry about the grammar and punctuation later.
- Ass in Chair: In order to achieve your goal, it’s important to stay motivated and get the work done. That’s right, writing is work. And writing a novel in a month is grueling work. So get to it!
- Reward yourself: While you want to stay on track and achieve your goal, you also don’t want to suffer a burnout along the way. So, find ways of rewarding yourself. For instance, if and when you reach your daily writing goal, treat yourself to a walk around the block. (Physical activity can do wonders for creativity.)
- Find Support: Writing is a solitary process. And chances are that those around you won’t understand why the heck you are doing this to yourself! But there are writers out there who understand you. The National Novel Writing Month website (http://nanowrimo.org/) is a wonderful resource and has links to help you find a community of like-minded word warriors.
- Celebrate: Give yourself time to enjoy your achievement. It’s always a good idea to let your manuscript sit in the drawer or on your USB drive for a couple of weeks before revisiting it for revisions. Enjoy rejoining the land of the living and then come back to your manuscript with fresh eyes.
“For the Love of Cupcakes” by Anita Kushwaha
Blurb of “For the Love of Cupcakes”:
Priya Patel has wanted to become a baker since the first time she saw the light of her Easy Bake Oven. However, working as an assistant baker at Sugarplum Fairy Cakes isn’t the glamorous life she dreamed about. Priya tries to impress her boss, Helen Bouffant, with creative twists on traditional recipes but her culinary skills are completely ignored as she is forced to scrub toilets and clean up everyone else’s mess. After Priya is blamed for a major screw up at Sugarplum Fairy Cakes, she decides to throw in her apron. With the support of her husband, Arj, and a kick in the pants from her best friend, Mae, she decides to start her own cupcakery.
Just when Priya thinks she’s washed her hands of Helen once and for all, they both enter a charity bake off with a grand prize of $10,000. Priya will have to cook the most creative, delicious cupcakes of her life and defend herself against Helen, who will stop at nothing to see Priya and her cupcakery fail. The competition gets heated but there is one thing that will keep Priya going- the love of cupcakes. Does she have what it takes to win the bake-off? Whose talent will prevail?
**Click HERE to download the first two chapters**