Want to become a better writer?

While I have always loved to read, I started writing later in life without the benefit of an education in literature. Since I began my career as an author, I have been devouring books to improve my craft.

Here are some of the books I have read and recommend to my fellow authors:

Let’s Get Digital: How to Self-Publish, and Why You Should 

By David Gaughran

For any author on the self-publishing journey, this book introduces you to the basics. It is a great starter book that simplifies the journey and highlights the most important aspects.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

By Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott welcomes you into her life and bares her mind to you in this book. This is no easy task for most of us. It is almost like shedding one’s clothes and allowing the world to see you vulnerable.


Anne shows a budding writer how to do this with humor and self-deprecation. There is nothing earth-shattering revealed in this book about writing. Most of the advice offered here would be familiar to any aspiring writer or an experienced writer wanting to improve their craft.

Still, I found it useful to read this book, if only to know my struggles as a writer are not unique to me.

Recommend: For aspiring and experienced writers who want to hone their craft. 

Characters and Viewpoint 

By Orson Scott Card

As an author, I like to read books that help me improve my craft. This book is written in an easy-to-read style while imparting a lot of knowledge. I enjoyed the writing samples sprinkled throughout the book that conveyed information more readily.
For my Land of Magadha series, I choose first-person POV because a few fantasies I had read used it. This book discussed all the POV and its merits. I might use third-person limited POV for my next series based on what I learned here.
I recommend this book for aspiring writers and current writers.

Writing the Blockbuster Novel

By Albert Zuckerman

As an author, I am constantly looking to improve my craft. This book gave me a lot to think about.

Daily Meditations: Writer Tips For 100 Days

By David Garland

This book is available for free on the author’s website. I read it slowly, about a chapter or two a day. Lots of nuggets for writers on how to become better. Highly recommend for novice writers.

How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy

By Orson Scott Card

I write historical fiction currently. I plan to write a historical fantasy series soon, so I decided to read this book. While the marketing sections are outdated, the craft of writing SF/Fantasy is still very relevant and has many useful tidbits about world-building.

Recommend for new authors or new to SFF authors.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

By Stephen King

f you read one book on writing, make it this. An authentic voice is such an elusive thing. Stephen King does it so effortlessly. 

To imagine him facing near-death halfway through the text and still producing such a great book speaks to his skills as an author.

I learned a lot from this book and highly recommend it to all my author friends.

Wired for Story

By Lisa Cron

Stories have been with us since we lived in caves. We crave them and know instinctively as a reader what makes a good story. But this skill does not translate so easily when we are writing. 

I realized this when I wrote the first draft of Heir to Malla. I knew the story, characters, and plot very well. I could imagine each scene vividly. But when I wrote it down, I left key parts out. My mind filled the blanks. Unfortunately, since my readers cannot read my mind, they were left in the dark. Thankfully, with the help of my editor, I fixed this in subsequent drafts. 

This book spells it all out for us authors—how to craft a story that resonates with our readers—along with common pitfalls to avoid—plus an insight into the human brain.

I recommend this book to all my fellow authors who want to better their craft. 

Story Genius

By Lisa Cron

Nothing in this book is earth-shattering. As readers, we instinctively recognize a great story. But that same instinct does not serve us well while writing our first (or fourth) novel. Writing seems to require a different set of thinking neurons. 

Author Lisa Cron gives readers a step-by-step blueprint to write a layered, nuanced, and engaging novel.

As we write more books, we will develop our own shortcuts. In the meantime, the techniques mentioned in this book, especially asking Why, will serve authors well.

Recommend for aspiring authors and for ones interested in improving their craft.

Newsletter Ninja

By Tammi Labrecque

Recommend this book to all authors who want to start a newsletter and to authors struggling to engage readers in their current newsletter.

In easy-to-understand terms, Tammi shows us how to engage and keep our fans happy. And unlike other social media, newsletters use one of our existing talents as writers, our ability to create magic with words.

This book is a keeper on my bookshelves.

How To Market A Book

By Joanna Penn

While several of the tactics mentioned in the book are outdated, the overall strategies are still very valid for marketing fiction and non-fiction books. The other neat thing is this book highlights the other books, websites, podcasts, and blogs so an author like me can continue improving our craft.

Would you read this tale?

I have written over 50,000 words in my new tale of love. The series is based on an ancient Indian custom called svayamvara. In a svayamvara, a princess chooses a suitable groom from among the gathered suitors. Here is a sneak peek:

Princess Lalitha searches for her father, who fought in a battle against King Dushyant. When Lalitha is injured, a metalsmith rescues her. He accompanies her on the journey back to her kingdom, and there is nothing convenient about the feelings Lalitha develops for him. Her father had promised to hold a svayamvara, a groom-choosing ceremony, for her. With no male heirs, Lalitha cannot succumb to temptations if she wants to rule her kingdom.

King Dushyant was fighting to avenge his father’s death. He did not anticipate saving Princess Lalitha or escorting her to her kingdom. While he had hidden his identity from the spirited princess, his icy resolve to keep his heart untouched began to melt.

Neither can afford to surrender to the current of attraction sweeping them. But the author has different ideas for them.

If you are interested in reading my other historical fiction books, start here.

Are you a fan of Happily Ever After?

I love reading books with happily ever after endings. The ten romance novels I have read this year pay testimony to that. Reading a well-written romance novel can feel like drinking a cup of hot coffee while watching the sunrise. No one does it better than Jane Austen. Capital L love her books. Who is your favorite romance author?

However, writing a happily ever after story requires a different mastery. Unlike the Land of Magadha series, where death came without an announcement, the protagonists in my historical romance novel have to survive to the end to declare their passion. I have written over 50,000 words in this tale of love without killing my star characters, though I came close a few times.

The series is based on an ancient Indian custom called svayamvara. In a svayamvara, a princess chooses a suitable groom from among the gathered suitors. Sometimes, there might be a contest, and the prize for the winner is a wedding. In Ramayana, Rama strings a bow to win Sita’s hands.

The slender maiden glanced at him; she glanced
And uttered not a word, nor heeded how
The grass-twined blossoms of her garland danced
When she dismissed him with a formal bow.

The Dynasty of Raghu, by Kalidasa

Looking forward to sharing updates about my work in progress in the coming weeks.

A sneak peak

I want to share an update about my work in progress. I am writing a historical romance novel set in medieval India. She is impulsive, and he is calm, except where it concerns her.

Princess Lalitha rode along the narrow forest path, her heart hammering against her ribs. The wind rustled against the branches as she and her tired mare advanced slowly in the descending darkness. She had left her Aunt Chitra’s house two days ago and had journeyed nearly non-stop since then. Only finding the fate of her father kept her moving.

Sneak Peak of Anna Bushi’s WIP

Can you a write a story in six words?

I did for a contest and was humbled to win first place.

I am immensely grateful for local organizations that support artists, including writers. Oceanside Cultural Arts Foundation is one such local organization that hosts the Write On Oceanside event.

They conducted a six-word story contest. I have never participated in a contest before, and I write 80k to 90k words novels. There is always a first time for everything, and I decided to craft a story in six words.

Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway bet his literary friends that he could write an entire story in six words. The group put $10.00 each into the pot, then Hemingway wrote, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

(Source: Write On Oceanside website)

I am in awe of his talent. I have years of practice ahead of me to reach his level. As the first step in that journey, my short won first place at the contest.

He collapsed, and death united them.

Anna Bushi

Well, what do you think? I would love to hear from you. One day, I hope to write his backstory. While not short, my complete trilogy is available in Kindle Unlimited for binge reading.

I am writing a historical romance series

Yes, you read that correctly.

This series of historical romances will center on the ancient Indian Svayamvara traditions. Svayamvara offered the bride a chance to choose her mate. I have sprinkled references to this ceremony in the Land of Magadha trilogy. Some svayamvara’s involved a challenge, and the bride would garland the winner. In Ramayana, Rama strung the bow to win the hand of Sita.

Each book would tell the story of a royal couple. Romance with a healthy dose of royal court intrigue is what you will find in the pages.

These novels will feature a happily ever after ending, but the road traveled will be bumpy.

How is my writing coming along? I am writing the first book in the series and falling in love with my characters. I have written ten thousand words, and they are starting to feel real to me. I will share their names soon.

While waiting for this book, read my free novella to get a taste of medieval India.

Happy Mother’s Day

Mothers and mother figures play a prominent role in my Land of Magadha trilogy.

Stepmother

In Heir to Malla, you meet Queen Charu, stepmother of Meera and Jay. Is she an evil queen? Not quite. I featured her in a blog post.

Tears welled in my eyes anyway for the mother I lost, and my stepmother who got her wish to wear the crown but knew no real happiness.

Princess Meera

Grandmother

Grandmothers and the tales they spin can be magical. Meera’s grandmother plants seeds in her mind of what her life will be like as a queen. I wrote about how my grandmother inspired my writing journey.

Even my beloved Padi may not be worthy of my beautiful and brave granddaughter.

Queen Mother Priya

Sister

The wonderful sibling relationship between Meera and Jay features prominently in my trilogy.

“The one our mother taught us?”

“I don’t remember her, let alone her voice. I only remember you singing to me.”

Jay

Aunt

Of course, many aunts act as mother figures in the story.

He cried out for his mother last night. I watched as Aranya comforted him tenderly and calmed his demons.

Jay

A mother’s love is complex, and I enjoyed exploring the different layers of it in my story.

Anger surged in me like a fire that was fed new wood. I needed to protect my child.

Meera

What is your favorite portrayal of mother in fiction?

Cover Reveal

Burden of the Crown

This book concludes the story of Meera and Jay and is a culmination of my eight years writing journey. 

We first meet 19-year-old Meera and her 16-year-old brother, Jay, in Heir to Malla. In the first chapter, our protagonist dreams about marriage and love. The chapter ends with her learning that her brother has gone missing in enemy land. 

What follows is a tale of love, adventure, and royal intrigue set in medieval India. From the gods worshipped to the food served at the feast, the book offers a taste of 9th to 11th century India. I enjoyed writing this coming-of-age story, especially Meera’s. At the start of the book, Meera is a traditional princess, content to let her father and brother manage the affairs of the court. Then things change for the worse, and she is forced to take charge of her destiny.    
 
Meera and Jay return to face the consequences of their actions in War of the Three Kings, set a decade after book one. This book starts with another Meera chapter, showcasing her domestic bliss, with a peek at her heart in conflict, and plunges into chaos with a death of a beloved monarch. I loved the many storylines in this book, some happy, others tragic. One, in particular, tore my heart. My characters are not playing with blunt swords anymore. So the outcomes are unpredictable. 

Burden of the Crown will wrap up Meera and Jay’s tales. This series has been a magical ride for me. Some of the arcs started in book one conclude in this book. It has been an absolute joy writing about this land, where I could let my imagination run wild. I will share an excerpt soon.

Happily ever after is a myth

I love books with happy endings. They are like a warm blanket on a cold rainy day. But, in real life, our emotions come in waves. We are sad, happy, angry, jealous, all on the same day.

Even with my writing, I finished the final book in my trilogy with mixed emotions—glad to have completed the story to my satisfaction—at the same time, saddened to say goodbye to these characters.

My stories reflect that. I hope they bring you joy. Also, I hope they move you to tears. Read my books and fall in love with the characters. 

Reading a story can allow us to find ourselves when we see our emotions reflected on the pages. A character’s journey can help you find courage for overcoming adversities in your life. Let my tales tug your heart.

Land of Magadha Trilogy: Epic historical fiction saga

Heir to Malla: Missing brother. Broken father. Rogue prince vying for her kingdom. Princess Meera is fighting for her land. Will she have to sacrifice her heart to save it?

War of the Three Kings: Deadly secrets! Vengeful king! Can Meera stop her kingdom from descending into chaos?

Burden of the Crown: Conclusion to the story of the Malla siblings is coming in Summer 2022.

Conversation with Nivedita Ramesh

Nivedita is a marketing consultant turned full-time mom who dreams up a lot more stories than she writes. She is currently trying to keep it all together – a house that cannot run itself, a toddler that runs everywhere by herself, and fragments of an erstwhile life. She lives in Bangalore. You can read her blog here.

Here is my conversation with her:

Nivedita, as an aspiring writer, what are some of the questions you have for me?

Anna Bushi

Hi Anna, it was so inspiring to go through your blog and read about your books! You have shown that it is possible to make something about the stories that are constantly jumping around in my head. I have so many questions for you! Here are some:

Q1. Why did you choose the self-publishing route?

I had many stories bubbling inside me, and I wanted to share them. Self-publishing gives me a lot of freedom with what stories I can tell. I write historical fiction loosely based on medieval India. If I had gone the traditional publishing route, these stories might have never seen the light of day.

Depending on your goals, you have to decide whether traditional publishing or self-publishing is the best option for you. Self-publishing is like a small business. The author is responsible for editing, cover, marketing, and more. This work might be daunting for some.

Some authors are interested in awards and recognition. For them, traditional publishing might be worth the wait.

Q2. How do you balance a career / paid work / full-time job with writing? As a related question, how do you manage your daily life – parenting, housekeeping, time to relax and unwind, and writing?

It is a struggle on some days 😂. I began writing only when my kids were older and more independent. At each stage in our life, we have to ask ourselves what is important to us right now. And find time to do it. It also means saying no to things that are not important. Time is a great equalizer. Every day, we all get the same 24 hours, nothing more or less. I write almost daily, even if only for a few minutes. It allows me to unwind from the stress of my everyday life.

Q3. Why did you choose to write historical fiction? What was your inspiration behind choosing medieval time?

I loved the stories I read about ancient Indian kingdoms, especially Chola and Pallava kingdoms in the south. A Tamil Author, Kalki’s books were a significant inspiration. I found it fascinating to think of someone born to rule. What their struggles and challenges would be. I also find it easier to explore themes like duty vs. self or women’s rights in this setting, far removed from today’s world.

Q4. What are the resources that were helpful for you while researching your novels?

I read several books on the craft of writing. I also read several historical fiction books. I studied the culture, food, and laws of the medieval period. Since my protagonists are royal siblings, I created a fictional land rather than set my story in a real kingdom. Though this is a work of fiction, I researched weapons, clothing, and spices to make sure they were in use during that time. For flowers and trees, I used old Tamil literature. For medicine, I used Ayurvedic text and several published articles for guidelines. Museum websites are a great place to research jewels and weapons. Internet is a treasure trove of information. From battle wounds to poisons, I have searched for some weird details.

Q5. Can you take me through your writing journey? Did the story pan out as three books from the start? Did you make an outline and flesh out the characters before writing the novel?

I wanted to write a series from the start. In my first story, I started writing without an outline. I stumbled and made a few mistakes along the way. For my next novels, I created a rough chapter by chapter outline. Though I deviated from the storyline in my final story, having this synopsis helped me.

Q6. This question is very specific to novel writing, mostly because of its length. How do you edit it? I struggle to remember details and edit a 2000 word short story.

I wish I had a photographic memory. I keep a glossary of all the characters and their physical features, relationships, etc. Plus, I have an outline of the book where I tracked how many days have passed, seasons, moon phases, etc. I have two beta readers who read my chapters and provided valuable feedback. All of this helps, plus I re-read the book a few times before sending it to my editor.

Q7. Having successfully self-published three books (and with more on the way, undoubtedly), what pointers would you offer unpublished authors like me who have novel-length stories that they want to publish? What are the things to look out for while self-publishing?

Writing, like any art form, is not an easy way to make a living. So first make sure there is a passion to write. Then determine what stories you want to tell. Pick one of them and write a two-page summary of this. Read a craft book on fiction writing. I have a few in my Goodreads profile. These help with creating engaging characters. Become friends with fellow writers to form a support group.


Then write consistently, whether it is every day or every week.


For publishing, I recommend finding an editor to edit the novel. And getting a good cover for the book. There are many Facebook groups (SPF Community, 20booksto50K) dedicated to self-published authors where you can ask for advice or just read past posts. I highly recommend joining a couple of these.
Most important of all, every author’s journey is going to be unique. Set your goals and march towards them.

Happy Writing!