book review only wheat not white varsha dixit

Book Review: Only Wheat Not White by Varsha Dixit

Just like always I downloaded it with the intention of reading instantly. I remembered it when most Indie Indian authors were busy disappointing me with their lackluster writing and books.

For some reason I thought it’s traditionally published. Anyways, let’s talk a little about the story….

Genre: Contemporary Romance.

Main Characters: Eila Sood, Brett Wright.

‘Only Wheat Not White by Varsha Dixit’ ~~ Synopsis:

Eila moves to America in a bid to improve her family’s relationship with her estranged elder sister. Seven years ago when Eila’s sister Sheela married an American, their parents refused to accept the match and severed all contacts.

After suffering a stroke, her mother expresses the wish to reunite the family. Her father gives in and Eila finds a job in the US and heads over there to mend fences.

It doesn’t take Eila long to find out that there’s something not quite right with Sheela’s marriage. At first, Eila thinks it makes her job to reunite the family easy. She’s not fond of her brother-in-law Steve and does everything in her power to avoid his attempts to talk with her.

Eila begins her job and soon finds out that they are cutting her work hours. But she’s happy that she would not be left jobless. Her relief is short-lived when she finds out that Sheela and Steve are separating.

Though, Steve would continue to support his family, her sister wants to run her home on her own. Eila decides to help Sheela get back to work and support the family financially as long as she’s in the US.

Despite her reluctance, Eila takes up a second job as an accountant at a strip club. Unfortunately, even the strip club is closing soon or rather being sold and Eila would be out of a job soon enough.

After meeting the prospective buyer, Brett Wright, someone she keeps meeting and dislikes, she thinks good riddance. Eila says no to Brett’s job offer, but had to go back asking for a job. In the meantime, Eila begins to help people around her with their relationship problems. While having no idea what is happening between her and Brett?

The attraction is mutual. But the only problem is from her side. She doesn’t want to become the reason for her family’s hurt this time around. One time was enough. But Brett may not understand her reasons.

Review:

Face palm moment. What are these authors writing? Another successful dud produced by yet another Indian Indie Author of allegedly ‘successful Contemporary Romance’.

I would love to know the definition of ‘successful Contemporary Romance’ in their words as I’m not getting it after reading their books that are worse than fifteen years old first attempt.

First thing first, I want to know from which angle this sorry qualifies as the ‘Contemporary Romance’. What a mockery of Romance ‘Only Wheat Not White’ makes, I don’t even know where to begin the dissection. But dissect I must and will.  

The plot is a bundle of mess. I’m not surprised because chances are no editor ever read and corrected it, leave alone editing it. Or if someone did waste their time, then they truly wasted their time as they had done no editing or maybe has no idea about sane plot building. That editor must also not into Romance genre.

Some questions these Indie authors’ books make me think every time I read their books are:

Have they ever read more than one Romance novel in their entire lifetime and which one? Have they read any recent Romance books from the real bestselling authors? How many Romance novels in a month, forget it, in a year they read?

Anything less than 50 is unacceptable, at least, in my books. And ‘I’m writing’ is no excuse when what you’re writing is nothing short of crap. Maybe that’s why it seems they have a twisted or rather no understanding of the genre they are trying to make money off.

Here are the flaws in the ‘Only Wheat Not White’ that an editor should have asked the author to fix before uploading this mess:

(Actually, an Indie author must learn basic editing, plotting, different POVs and do some editing in the end. Also, there’s nothing like practicing your craft.)

1: It’s Raining Exclamation Points!

I didn’t have to wait too long in this story to spot exclamation points. When I say they are raining, I mean, every paragraph has a minimum of two or three exclamation points. If you love your stories with exclamation points sprinkled like dust, this story is 100 percent for you.

The main character – Eila talks, thinks and walks in exclamation points. I couldn’t believe it. Who thinks in exclamation points all the time? Forget that. Who talks like that all the time? She even mumbles in exclamation points. Even the secondary characters are into the exclamation point madness.

If I thought previous Indian Indie authors’ books, I read, are riddled with exclamation points, I was in for a rude surprise. ‘Only Wheat Not White’ could win all awards in the category ‘most tortured use of exclamation points in fiction’ if there was any such award.

A couple of questions for Indian Indie authors in love with exclamation point:

Have you always in love with an exclamation point or it’s a contagious disease you got from your group?

Are you aware that sprinkling so many exclamation points in your story seems like a desperate attempt to hide the fact that the plot and characters are underdeveloped? It’s also makes you come across as an amateur writer, who, I repeat may not have read extensively in the genre.  

So far almost every one of them have it e.g. ‘Scorpio Superstar’Destiny’s Girl‘No escape from Love’ and now this one.

Another similarities these books have — underdeveloped plots, uninteresting characters and uninteresting stories that are going nowhere. The worst part, the authors don’t seem to know they are writing Romance or rather how to write romance without making romance readers angry.

Pro Tip for the Clueless Indian Indie Authors: Get the exclamation point disease either under control or get it cured because a good story is not dependent on exclamation points to express everything. Use it with caution.

 

2: My New Pet-Peeve: Shifting POV + Shifting Tense.

Oh my… did I really think exclamation points were driving me crazy?

If you want to know how inexperienced an author is in her writing, then pay attention to the shifting POV and tense. Since shifting POV is akin to a headache, you’d not have to pay closer attention. All you need is the knowledge of POVs and then the torture begins. If you know your POVs then you’d not have to search, unfortunately you’d not be able to stop your eyes from spotting it.

The author writes the first paragraph in present tense, which mind you could have been written in the past tense without losing its meaning. What’s the point of writing the first paragraph in present tense and then shifting to the past tense?

Then the second paragraph’s in the past tense. I should have stopped reading right there and then. But no, I love to torture myself sometimes so I continued. Summer heat must have gone to my head.

The narration moves smooth for a couple of chapters, i.e. till you reach chapter three and bam – the author decides to shift POV so you could know what the secondary characters are thinking. No, just no! This is madness.

To add to the ongoing madness there are inner monologues. Just wonderful, like all the other torture isn’t enough. Head-hopping along with exclamation point rain continued until this mess ended.

Pro Tip For The Clueless Indie Authors: Learn about POVs. One search in Google would take you to sites explaining different POVs and what shifting POV and tense is. It doesn’t take more than a half hour to learn. Once you have you’d be able to spot it in your work. And probably would stop torturing your readers in your next book?

 

3: Is It A Romance Novel?

From which angle this book falls in the categories ‘Romance or Romantic Comedy’. There’s no romance and there’s nothing funny in it. Saying it’s a mess is the only description.

Maybe it’d fall in the drama category? But probably not many want to read that and get a headache. It’s not as if real life is drama free. And if you’re going to get a drama then at least it should be of your choosing in fiction and also it must be good.

On some level, it seemed, sometimes, the author remembered that a Romance Novel these days have a hero’s POV. Hence the torture of shifting POV whenever the author felt like the story is lacking Brett’s POV.

The blurb makes it sound like a Romance novel, it’s anything but. Their love story plays out in the background and the rest is filled with unemotional and boring family and secondary character drama that could have been kicked out mercilessly.

But then there would have been no story. I got the impression that the author had no idea how to make the story 80 percent about Eila & Brett story and the rest about trivial characters.

That’s what happens when you don’t invest your time reading the genre you want to write. That’s the impression I got at least. Why waste time writing a genre you have no time to read?  

Pro Tip For Wannbe Authors Who Thinks Becoming An Author Is A New Fashion Statement: If you want to write Romance, invest your time not just reading good & bad Romance novels, but also paying attention to what it’s format is. There’s no point reading books after books, without analyzing everything from cover art to the author’s writing style to blurb and the format etc. etc.

If you one day want to join the league of Romance authors. Chances are you would want to become an Indie author then all that knowledge would only benefit you.

 

4: Idiotic Secondary Characters and Their Mess:

There are so many secondary characters that this mess could win another award called, ‘too much crowd’ in the plot.

Then it seems you have to know the names of every pedestrian character walking through the story, but that of the hero. Because, of course, he’s the least important character in Romance and should be treated as such. You would get his name around 50 percent. Before that the author unsuccessfully tries to build up some kind of chemistry between the Eila & Brett. While all the time keeping the hero hidden.

Nope. This is not how Romance format works and no you cannot get away by messing with it. If you don’t want to write much about hero then write Chick-lit instead.

If you want to add secondary characters, then make sure: they are either interesting or they’ve their own stories coming next or you just don’t add them. Also not every tom dick harry secondary character needs a name.

I have come to believe that authors who don’t have a good love story or don’t know how to develop it, depends heavily on secondary characters and their dramas in a Romance novel.

Yes, life is not about only two people, even if they fall head over heels in love with each other. But fiction is not a place to show reality. Romance readers don’t care about it and wouldn’t read your book if you want to disrespect the genre. If you’re listing your story under Romance then it better be that.

The only time I have read and liked stories with secondary characters and their POVs is when I read Michelle Willingham’s series ‘Secret’s in Silk’ & Maggie Fenton’s ‘The Regency Romp’. But I still have not developed any love for secondary characters roaming wild in the Romance fiction.

 

5: The Main Characters:

Since the author has wasted words on secondary characters’ drama and useless details, there’s not much interaction between Eila & Brett. I don’t even know why they fell in love. So believing they fell in love enough to want to get married makes no sense. At best they are attracted to each other and are going nowhere. That’s called lust, not love.

Then I have problems with Brett’s character. He comes across as an ‘entitled’ idiot when Eila tells him why they cannot date and he almost calls her a name (I’m guessing the word he’d have uttered is ‘bitch’). Yep, that’s what you’d like to hear from a man who just a few seconds ago said ‘you’re the one’. And when you said ‘but…’ then he promptly proceeds to call you names. Because, of course, he’s entitled to have you. How dare you think about anyone else but him and what he wants? Excellent!

Some love he has for her that he doesn’t even want to invest some time understanding where she’s coming from. If someone who professes his love to you and insists it’s true, then I don’t think that person should call you names the moment the first obstacle comes in sight. What kind of a love that is?

I was wondering what amazing names he’d call Eila some months into their relationships when he has trouble controlling his entitlement issues, when they are not even dating.

I get it that the author’s probably trying to go for much needed conflict and the genre trope of the Alpha male, but ended with an idiot instead. But to have a conflict, you first need to build a relationship between the main characters which is missing. Instead of giving you the story the author promises in the blurb, she added the background noise.    

 

6: The Writing Style and the Plot Development:

I cannot say it enough, there’s no plot or character development. Then the writing style itself is most boring. The author seems determined to add all the boring details that could make you yawn. It probably would have been a readable story if all those words were invested in developing the main characters and their love story. Isn’t that what the blurb is about – the main characters?

There are so many useless details of Eila’s boring life that you’d apply 80/20 rule and still would not miss reading the story. Meaning: if you’re determined to finish this mess, you’d skip a few sentences/paragraphs and trivial drama of secondary characters without missing anything important. Not that there’s anything important to miss.

The one thing the author promises with blurb and keyword i.e. Romance and fails to deliver on that too. When the author is selling this book as a Romance novel, then why there’s so much nonsense?

I’m mighty tempted to end every sentence with exclamation points because as per Indian Indie authors, there’s no better way to get your point across.

This book was also reviewed at Kirkus Reviews. I’ve read about them. Now I don’t remember why I thought they are unbiased even after taking the money (since money is considered so bad in this industry). It’s not possible that four years ago reviewer didn’t see any faults in this Not a Romance novel.

Saying ‘Romance genre readers’ would like this nonsense is and was an overstatement. Also, if this is the author’s fourth book, then why it still reads like a first draft? Instead of getting a paid review for this nonsense, the author should have invested money in getting this farce of a Romance novel edited.

But that reminds me that the good editors are expensive and getting a professional editor to edit your first drafted is a 100 percent waste of money. You don’t send a first draft to an editor unless wasting money is your prime goal. To save money and get a decent review, you learn to edit and edit your book so it’s readable to some extent. Later, when it earns money you get it edited. There I have even cut the slack!

Reminds me it’s not too late either, as Amazon allows uploading of an improved version of the manuscript. Since this book requires considerable (entire story needs to be rewritten from the scratch to make it fit into the Romance genre) amount of editing, I’m sure Amazon would allow the author to upload new improved and edited version of the manuscript. 

In other news I have finally decoded the mystery of exactly how these Indian Indie authors are becoming bestsellers. They are listing their books under the category ‘Play’ and getting in competition with the dead guys, you know, the one’s most people don’t read these days, like Shakespeare, Seneca and Leo Tolstoy. The dead famous guys are not much competition as per my research.

I wanted to like this story. Just imagine the lost opportunity of telling a story of two people from different cultures falling for each other. But what I got is a mess in the name of Romance and that made me angry. I probably would have loved it, if an experienced Romance author had explored the theme. This mess I would not even recommend to my enemy, so there’s no question of recommending it to a fellow Romance reader.

I get it that most Indies either don’t have money to invest in professional editing or don’t want to until the book makes money. But that’s no excuse for uploading a first draft or the worse – not learning your craft, honing your craft and learning basic editing.

I cannot stress enough that one should learn and practice one’s craft before trying to make money out of it. Not doing so shows two things:

1: You don’t respect your work or the genre or even the reputation you’re creating for yourself.

2: You certainly don’t respect your readers enough to present a readable story. These kinds of manuscripts uploaded to Amazon as final copy is an insult to the readers of the genre.

(Bonus) 3:  Then you hide behind the worst possible excuse – that’s the best I could write so you should be nice to me and my book (I have seen some Indies give this exact excuse for not improving their writing). Another face palm moment! If you want to stay mediocre whom am I interfere with your plan.

Hit or Miss: Read at Your Own Risk.

Ratings: -1star/5.

Buy:   Amazon.com    |    Amazon.in 

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Priyanka Sharma

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