Posts Tagged ‘Westland Books’

10/27/2012 ~ Banned?

Friday, October 26th, 2012

A few days ago I uploaded “Slither” to Amazon Kindle. I received an email (copied below) saying they would not be offering my book for sale because “the book contains content that is in violation of our content guidelines”.

I thought maybe I was now in the revered company of George Orwell, D.H. Lawrence, John Steinbeck, Toni Morrison, and so on. But, it might just be the cover art – a Gauguin nude – that violates their guidelines. Or the fact that the title says clearly that it is carnal prose. It could even be that someone read the whole book and decided it would be a “poor experience” for other readers  – they say in the guidelines “We don’t accept books that provide a poor customer experience. Examples include poorly formatted books and books with misleading titles, cover art or product descriptions.  We reserve the right to determine whether content provides a poor customer experience.”

There was no explanation as to what specific content violated their guidelines, but reading through those guidelines made me reluctant to ask. They could fit my book into any of those violations, after all (Copied below).

This book is now available for .99 at Smashwords

Oh and, the print version is available on Amazon.

 

The email from Amazon:

From: Amazon.com <title-submission@amazon.com>

Date: Tue, Oct 23, 2012 at 8:02 PM

Subject: Alert from Amazon KDP To: (my email address) Hello, We’re contacting you regarding the following book that you submitted for sale in our Kindle Store:

3018507         Slither ~ carnal prose by Urmilla Deshpande

During our review process, we found that your book contains content that is in violation of our content guidelines.  As a result, we will not be offering this book for sale.

Our content guidelines are published on the Kindle Direct Publishing website.

To learn more, please see: https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A1KT4ANX0RL55IBest Regards, Marigold J.

Amazon.com Your feedback is helping us build Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company.

And here are the content guidelines:

Content Guidelines
Your books and other content (such as book titles, cover art and product descriptions) must adhere to these content guidelines.  We reserve the right to make judgments about whether content is appropriate and to choose not to offer it.  We may also terminate your participation in the KDP program if you don’t adhere to these content guidelines.

Pornography
We don’t accept pornography or offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts.

Offensive Content
What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect.

Illegal and Infringing Content
We take violations of laws and proprietary rights very seriously.  It is your responsibility to ensure that your content doesn’t violate laws or copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity, or other rights.  Just because content is freely available does not mean you are free to copy and sell it.

Public Domain and Other Non-Exclusive Content
Some types of content, such as public domain content, may be free to use by anyone, or may be licensed for use by more than one party. We will not accept content that is freely available on the web unless you are the copyright owner of that content. For example, if you received your book content from a source that allows you and others to re-distribute it, and the content is freely available on the web, we will not accept it for sale on the Kindle store. We do accept public domain content, however we may choose to not sell a public domain book if its content is undifferentiated or barely differentiated from one or more other books.

Poor Customer Experience
We don’t accept books that provide a poor customer experience.  Examples include poorly formatted books and books with misleading titles, cover art or product descriptions.  We reserve the right to determine whether content provides a poor customer experience.

01/26/2011 ~ New Madhouse Review – 2

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

http://johncheeran.blogspot.com/2011/01/madhouse-true-stories-of-inmates-of.html

By John Cheeran
Here is an awesome book.
Madhouse: True stories of the inmates of Hostel 4, IIT-Bombay is going to be a trendsetter. It puts together utterly common and uncommon moments from the lives of a group of students, achievers of some sort, for they cracked the JEE to get in to the IIT.
Though all the recollections in Madhouse are specific to one of the hostels in IIT Bombay – there are 9 others, including a ladies hostel (hostel 10) but you don’t have to be an IITian to enjoy these true stories on hostel food, ragging, pondies, phone, entertainment programmes (EPs), copying, girlfriends and other assorted adventures.
These stories cover a timeline of less than 10 years (roughly a period ranging from 1972-1985) out of IIT Bombay’s more than 50-year history.
It’s an unputdownable book, especially if you remain young at heart. Any reader should be able to recall more than one occasion from his student/hostel life similar to that Madhouse speaks about. These colourful tales do make you nostalgic of a time of infinite freedom and immense pressure to live up to parental expectations.
Madhouse shatters a few myths regarding how above average and brilliant the guys and girls who make the cut to the IIT are. May be, after reading these true accounts, you would feel that what a bunch of quirky, degenerate and spoilt characters are these people, with no qualms about flouting rules of all kinds.
Some of these tales are absolutely wacky. Bakul Desai (contributing editor and a successful businessman based in Hyderabad) wanted to bring an elephant to the campus for the H4’s EP (entertainment programme). An enterprising Bakul, in his desperation, went to Antop Hill and had a negotiation with underworld don Varadaraja Mudaliar for renting out an elephant without knowing who the guy was. Later Bakul tells how they invented ways to use the public coin phone in the hostel without inserting coins. I burst out laughing when he described the day when a telephone department official came with a big bag to collect all the coins from the phone box but only to be shocked when he opened the box by the sight of matchsticks, broken strings, crumpled computer cards, rubber bands, clips, pins and an assortment of wires made of steel, copper, plastic, a wad of chewing gum and a 50 paise coin in the middle of it.
Who thought IIT students could be so enterprising?
Most of the heroes and heroines of Madhouse have done well in life. Many here recount that they learnt more by bunking classes than from classrooms.
Sudheendra Kulkarni, who was a commie then at IIT Bombay has traveled quite distance to become BJP ideologue and now an advisor to Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee. Manohar (Manu) Parrikar is another H4 inmate who became BJP chief minister of Goa and now the opposition leader in the assembly.
Urmilla Deshpande (editor) and Bakul Desai (contributing editor) deserve a toast for putting together this book. It was Bakul who took the lead to get the project on track. Urmilla played her role as a sensitive editor to perfection by letting these stories speak by themselves without the writer in her taking over to shape them. She realized that in these stories style and content were inseparable. She should know having married an H4 inmate Hashish Koj La (Ashish Khosla).

Posted by johncheeran at 12:17 AM

01/26/2011 ~ New Madhouse Review -1

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

http://thebookloversreview.blogspot.com/2011/01/review-madhouse-true-stories-of-inmates.html

As soon as someone mentions IIT, it conjures  respect and awe but also at the same time we  imagine a non-interesting, studious and serious life. What many don’t know is the whackiest, weirdest fun is had in the hostels of IIT.  The life at IIT Hostel always intrigued me, since I am married to an IITan. Anyone who is married or has dated an IITan would agree that it is almost like a secret brotherhood, the stories and the fun or things that they have done in those years remain strictly between them. It is almost sacred and not for public sharing. One knows a wild time was had, weird nick names shared, whacky things done but it is never discussed with families.

Madhouse: True Stories of the Inmates of Hostel 4, IIT Bombay is a book that will give the reader an insight of what goes around these hostels. It is a compilation of all the ex-students of IIT Bombay who lived in Hostel 4. Starting from their ragging days to their graduation ex students have recalled memorable incidents of their life in hostel.  The compilation is specifically of IIT Powai, Hostel 4 passouts but the episodes will give the reader a fair insight into the life at IIT.  Happy stories, funny stories, laugh out loud stories the book has it all. Most of the stories though are from the students of 80s.

Reading the book made me realize why these men bond just so much, how friendships are made forever, why such elaborate efforts for a reunion are made whenever even a single friend comes visiting from abroad.  The shared experiences, the shared jokes, the shared past every time they meet come alive. Even as an outsider you can’t help but notice the bond of friendship, trust they share.

The book, as one reads it, one can figure out the tremendous effort that would have gone into getting stories from all the ex-students, considering most of them lead busy lives in different corners of the world.

Excellent initiative but honestly a book that would be enjoyed strictly by people who have lived in that hostel.

11/29/2010 ~ Madhouse reviews and press

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Midday review “The baap of 3 idiots”

http://www.mid-day.com/whatson/2010/nov/201110-Madhouse-Hostel-4-IIT-Bombay-book-novel.htm

And various sightings…

11/22/2010 ~ More Madhouse!

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Madhouse: True stories of the Inmates of Hostel 4 is an anthology of memories from now slightly above middle aged (is that end-aged?) guys who were in IIT Bombay’s Hostel 4 in the 80s. Some of the stories are funny, of course. I should know, I edited this book. But my favorite are those that inadvertently and unintentionally hint at what it must have been like to be a young male in a repressive time and stressful place. There is more to this book than alcohol and bhang induced hallucinations. You have to read between the puns and look between the tales to really see these young men as the sincere, insecure, driven, sometimes lonely and confused people they were.

I wonder if they learned anything from their time there. They got engineering degrees, so I will assume they learned something about science and technology and how the world works. But I wonder if they learned anything about the way people work. I am curious about the way these guys brought up their own kids.

I can answer some of my own questions, being one of those kids. And I have seen my own children partially (I say partially because I’m the other parent) brought up by one of these IIT graduates. There are no engineers so far in my family – but while editing this book, I began to understand some things, if not all. For example, while I have a tendency to ask my kids, “are you having a good time?” their Hostel 4 father is more likely to ask, “what happened to the other 2%?” when he sees his child’s Algebra paper.

These guys spent five or more years in the company of others from all sorts of families, and from all parts of the country. The one thing they all had in common was a certain kind of intelligence – the kind that got them through the qualifying exams. I often wonder what the political and social views of these men are, and if they did in fact internalize the obvious and not so obvious lessons from their H4 experience. I wonder how many of them are socialists, how many atheists, how many of them live their lives within the social constructs that they came to Hostel 4 from, and how many think of themselves as the elite of the elite.

This was an extremely interesting project, it brought me into contact with IITans other than my own husband and fathers. It was a lot of fun to do it, to read through stacks and stacks of stories, to sift through the funny and serious and even grim ones, to argue with the committee about censorship and honesty, to understand their reasons (which didn’t always jibe with mine) for keeping something or removing it, to give in to changes for the sake of sales – something I have never done as a writer but had to because the proceeds from this this book were being donated to a charity.

I will never do a project like this again. I say that because, along with what I learned about IIT graduates, I learned a lot about myself. For one, I don’t enjoy working with groups of people. Especially when there are no other women in the group to bring a dose of normalcy. I learned that I am not charitable – I just didn’t care about the plight of the mess workers in IIT Bombay, especially not over literary considerations. I loved the work itself – reading, sorting, editing, re-arranging, re-writing. But in the end I have to say, if I had two or three lifetimes I might edit in a bit of one. But I love writing, and would much rather be doing that.

Which reminds me – I have promised my editor a whole book by the end of the year. I must get to it!

11/14/2010 ~ Madhouse:True Stories of the inmates of Hostel 4

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

This book is available for preorder at: http://www.iitbombay.org/initiatives/hats/hostel4/madhouse-book-order

When my husband Ashish Khosla, once an inmate of Hostel 4 himself, told me a tale about one of his hostelmates going to lectures on a horse, I was not impressed. Though he is not given to flights of fancy, I thought he was perhaps making a lot of a single incident. Then he showed me the photograph. It had that unmistakable stamp of the early ‘80s in style and substance, and there was the white horse, and its rider, on their way to a lecture on organic chemistry. I realised that it was not a one-time event. I also commented then that it would be a fabulous book cover.

One thing led to another, and in March of 2010 I was given the privilege and frustrations of editing this book.

I have known IITans intimately through my life– my father, step-father, husband, boyfriends and many good friends. I made several good friends during the creation of this book. None of what I read and heard explains these guys, though. I still cannot tell whether they chose this gruelling and most prestigious of educational institutions because of the way they were, or they became that way because those five years they spent at IIT.

In spite of censorship (some language of course, and some entire incidents were left out due to the sheer indecency of the matter) it is quite clear that these boys – and they were boys then, indulged in very questionable behaviour. There was substance abuse, and it wasn’t the substances that were abused. There was people abuse – in fact abusing each other in picturesque and imaginative ways was a normal pastime. There was delinquency and there were criminal acts. Instincts of various nether levels were indulged endlessly and continuously. This book has chronicled many instances. It is my feeling that these memories are stronger than mundane ones of lectures attended or disciplines learned or even engineering degrees earned. In any case, these were more interesting to both listeners and narrators, and now, writers and readers.

There is something that I must make clear to the readers of this book. In spite of all the unsavoury behaviour, I must point out that these same rowdy and rude young men are now captains of industry, science and technology, some are prominent in the political and social arenas, and most are productive members of society. I say this as a reminder, because while reading about their early lives in their own words, a reader might, understandably too, forget this fact.

It is my feeling that in safe and tranquil IIT Bombay, these young men felt free to experiment physically and intellectually. The feeling of safety came from having made it into IIT – not an easy task. All they had to do now was make it through the next five years, and life after that could only be easy.  They were far from the rules and conditioning of their homes, thrown together with  some like and some utterly unlike themselves.  They had unbound and yet protected freedom that allowed them to find themselves. And they looked hard, and pushed themselves and their mates over and under and any which way they could beyond known boundaries.

I think such investigations, that might be thought of as foolhardy at best and immoral at worst, informed their morality. These men left IIT with a degree, and also with a self-made morality. Like the degree, that morality, though not conferred, resulted from a process. It involved hypothesis, argument, experiment, and conclusion. It is more personal, and more solid  than the societal rules and regulations that pass as moral code.

As a project this one was interesting to me in another way. Here was a large number of stories coming to me as they were remembered. One or two or three of the guys are good writers, and I had no trouble with their pieces, other than chopping down some unnecessarily verbose bits, or changing the sequence of the narration to make it more appealing to a reader, moving the twist to the end, emphasizing foreshadowing, deepening suspense. But some of these guys are not writers. They simply put down in words their memory and feeling about an incident with a few relevant and irrelevant details, and sent it off to me. These are the ones who taught me something about writing. In the beginning I would think, this story has meat, if only I write it in my own words. So I re-told the story, in my own “better” words. And every time I did that, I found that the whole feeling and content changed. I learned firsthand something I had struggled to understand for a long time – something I knew to be true in theory, but didn’t understand until this project: that style and content are inseparable. That by adjusting Raj Laad’s piece to make it sound more like me, I was in fact losing the voice of Raj Laad, of course, but also his perspective. And it was his perspective, in his words, which was the content of the piece – not the sequence of events . And I promised myself I would not convert all these pieces to fit an acceptable grammatical or linguistic correctness, and I would not make the stories into a homogenous list of rude and crude incidents in the lives of teenage boys from a certain hostel. I hope I achieved this.

(Excerpt: My introduction in the book.)

Kashmir Blues acknowledgements

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

Kashmir Blues

When I received the pdfs from Westland/Tranquebar for Amazon uploads, the acknowledgements page was missing. This page is, of course, in the printed version of the book, but not in the digital format.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

Without the dedicated reading of the first draft by my brother-in-law Paul Mitchell, and the detailed reading of the last by my editor Prita Maitra, and her (gentle) insistence on getting it right and not letting me get away with vagueness or laziness, this book would not be what it is. My heartfelt thanks and love to you both.

My sister Meithili Mitchell was part-time editor as well, not always voluntarily, and sometimes even under (vague and unspecified) threats. My love and thanks to you.

Nikhil Khosla, my friend who happens to be my brother-in-law, thanks for sharing your knowledge.

Thank you Lu Vickers, for all your help. Your comments and suggestions were invaluable, and I know the book is better because of them.

My friends who gave me valuable criticism and welcome praise. You make my writing better, yes, but also me: Urvashi Khosla, Richard Bush, Sheila Curran, Joseph Hellweg, Jane Macpherson, Julia and Philip Sura, Robert Draper (who also took out the garbage and changed lightbulbs), Tracy Sumner, Shashi Deshpande, Suhael Merchant.

Sukhi, Tissa, Ashish, and Saheli, your patience and tolerance sustains me, and your encouragement and expectations make me reach beyond my own perceived limits. In writing and in life.

Frank-Udo, I used your name without your permission. This Frank is named for you and not any other. But there the resemblance ends. I did not know you were in the world when I wrote it, just hoped that you were.

Prolification…

Friday, February 19th, 2010

photo by StilfehlerMy next book, Kashmir Blues (Westland/Tranqubar), will be published later this year. It made me acutely aware that I was finished with that book, but did not yet have another in the works. Life was taking too much time, all the daily eating and walking and children and cats…

I decided earlier last week to begin the process of completing my next book. I decided to write, or try to, 10,000 words a week. When I did the calculation, I realized that if I actually did write 10,000 words a week, I would have a novel in 10 weeks! I’m assuming that an average novel is about 100,000 words – my first two have been around that length.  So if I give myself a little wriggle room, I could have a novel in four months. And three a year.  Will I have readers for these novels? If I find someone to publish them, that is? Now that I can’t answer without writing them. So… back to work!

Deccan Herald Review

Thursday, December 24th, 2009
Painfully ever after

Painfully ever after

#mce_temp_url#

Tranquebar Times interview

Friday, December 18th, 2009
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Tranqubar Times
Tranqubar Times