Book Reviews, reading

What I’m Reading

Remember when I said I had embarked on a reading spree? That’s dwindled just a little. Since I last wrote in, I’ve finished My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite and a couple of other books. I loved the dark humour and the lithe female serial killer, though it seemed to me a little like an abrupt end.

A shorter more truncated list this time, but still containing valuable gems that I would urge you to check out!

One Way to Love (Book 1 of the Jasmine Villa series) by Andaleeb Wajid

Andaleeb Wajid has deservedly earned the title of ‘The prolific author you may not have heard of’! She writes easy-to-read books featuring Indian women, primarily romances but she’s dabbled successfully in horror too! This is the first of her books I’ve read, and I loved it! Its simple but absorbing, an enchanting realistic tale of love-cum-arranged marriage.

Arrivals and Departures by Vrinda Baliga

This is the author’s second collection after Name, Place, Animal, Thing. Any short story by Vrinda Baliga is guaranteed to delight, and collection doubly so. The relationships depicted in her stories, the elegant turns of phrase, and the varied settings – what’s not to love?

Less by Andrew Greer

I’m late to the party for this book. I know it won the Pulitzer Prize in 2018, but I had bought it and let it languish. Criminal, I know. I’m only about a quarter of the way through and I can tell you to go read it immediately if you haven’t done so already!

What are you reading now? Any book you would like to recommend?

Lit Journals

Market Spotlight: Ilanot Review

In 2017, I had written a story in epistolary form as part of a prompt. Once I’d revised it to my satisfaction, I searched for markets and came across Ilanot Review, a journal from Israel!

Their call for submissions mentioned a ‘Letters’ theme for their upcoming issue. It excited me to find a market that looked a perfect fit, but to be sure I scouted their archives and read a few of the stories and essays available online.

After due diligence, I submitted my story ‘Perils in the Post’. I was quite excited about this story, because it was my first story in letters and also my first story not based in the modern era.

The acceptance mail arrived quite quickly, within a week. I went back-and-forth for edits with the editors as usual. After a few days, things were all set and ready to go. The changes had greatly improved my story, and three months later the issue was published online. You can read my story here.

This is not a paying journal. The quality of stories is quite good and enjoyable.

Fortunately, their submissions window is currently open, until 15th December for their winter issue themed ‘Home/Work’. If you have anything that suits the theme, be sure to send it across right away!

Book Reviews, reading

A Series so Fowl

Many years ago, after I’d consumed the entire Potter series and embarked on the hunt for another series to fill my world, I came across a golden-covered shiny book designed to attract the eyes of passersby. I opened it, and, as I am wont to do in the middle of a crowded bookstore, started reading.

Here’s the first page:

Ho Chi Minh City in the summer. Sweltering by anyone’s standards. Needless to say, Artemis Fowl would not have been willing to put up with such discomfort if something extremely important had not been at stake. Important to the plan.

Sun did not suit Artemis. He did not look well in it. Long hours indoors in front of a computer screen had bleached the glow from his skin. He was white as a vampire and almost as testy in the light of day. “I hope this isn’t another wild-goose chase, Butler,” he said, his voice soft and clipped. “Especially after Cairo.”

It was a gentle rebuke. They had traveled to Egypt on the word of Butler’s informant.

“No, sir. I’m certain this time. Nguyen is a good man.”

“Hmm,” droned Artemis, unconvinced.

Passersby would have been amazed to hear the large Eurasian man refer to the boy as sir. This was, after all, the third millennium. But this was no ordinary relationship, and these were no ordinary tourists.

They were sitting outside a curbside cafe on Dong Khai Street, watching the local teenagers circle the square on mopeds.

Nguyen was late, and the pathetic patch of shade provided by the umbrella was doing little to improve Artemis’s mood. But this was just his daily pessimism. Beneath the sulk was a spark of hope. Could this trip actually yield results? Would they find the Book? It was too much to hope for.

A waiter scurried to their table.

“More tea, sirs?” he asked, head bobbing furiously.

Artemis sighed. “Spare me the theatrics, and sit down.”

The waiter turned instinctively to Butler, who was after all, the adult.

“But, sir, I am the waiter.”

Artemis tapped the table for attention.

“You are wearing handmade loafers, a silk shirt, and three gold signet rings. Your English has a tinge of Oxford about it, and your nails have the soft sheen of the recently manicured. You are not a waiter. You are our contact Nguyen Xuan, and you have adopted this pathetic disguise to discreetly check for weaponry.”

Nguyen’s shoulders sagged. “It is true. Amazing.”

How could I resist? I swooped it up.

The movie version will be out in 2020 so stock up on this and read it before the film releases! Take a sneak peak at the movie trailer here.

If you read one and can’t get enough and you’re looking for more, I have great news for you – Eoin Colfer has a new book out featuring characters of the same family! The Fowl Twins is set for release later this year.

You can bet I’ll be reading the new book as well as rushing to the cinemas when the movie comes out. I sincerely hope the movie retains the humour of the books.

Eoin Colfer is quite prolific and has penned other books as well. The one I’m most fond of is The Half-Moon Investigations.

Have you read Artemis Fowl? Or any of Eoin Colfer’s books? Which is your favourite? Any other YA or MG series you would like to recommend? Let me know in the comments below!

Humour, My Writing

Happy Boss’s Day… to My Toddler!

A mid-week blog post to share the publication of my humour piece on the special occasion of Boss’ Day in Arre! You know how parents always bow down to the wishes of the littlest one in their family? Not sure about you but that’s me all the way, and here’s my ode to my three-year-old for being a tough taskmaster on his direct reports:

Happy Boss’s Day to My Toddler, the CEO of My Household

Have a read and hope you enjoy it!

My Writing, Writing

Writing and Editing Resources

To begin with, I have another publication announcement this week, but fear not – resources abound too!

I just found out that I placed second runner-up in eShe’s first ever Flash Fiction Contest. The theme was ‘Women and Work’. The word count was 100. And the contest was restricted to women writers.

No fancy prizes other than a certificate and a notebook, but I’m still quite pleased as the topic is one I’m very passionate about.

Check out the winners list here.

On to the resources!

A discussion on a writing group I’m part of spurred me to make a list of sites that have useful articles for revising and editing fiction:

Nail your Novel
Novelist Roz Morris churns out a feast of useful articles on writing and editing your written work to perfection. Her book of the same name is another useful recourse.

Anne R Allen

Writer Anne R Allen maintains this blog along with bestselling author Ruth Harris. This site offers a wealth of information that helps you get your stories written and honed for submission.


Writer and Ex-Literary Agent Nathan Bransford’s blog

Nathan Bransford worked as a literary agent at Curtis Brown and has also authored the bestselling MG series Jacob Wunderbar. His book How to Write a Novel is one to add to your bookshelf.

A couple of articles specifically on editing include:

10 Things to Do Before Editing Your First Draft

Ultimate Guide: Structural Editing For Your Novel

In other writing news, I conjured up a last-minute entry to the Bath Flash Fiction Award which granted me this badge:

What have you been up to? Any writing links or resources you would like to share? Let me know in the comments!

My Writing

Open

A brief blog post today to hold the fort while I go off pandal-hopping during Durga Puja.

I’m happy to share the publication of my story Open in Spark!

This has an interesting story behind the story. I had written it long back when Orkut was decommissioned, but subsequently set it aside as I wasn’t too happy with it. The other day I was randomly browsing various literary journal submission guidelines and I came across Spark. By coincidence the theme was ‘Secrets’ and by another fantastic coincidence the theme deadline was that very day!

I spruced up my story the best I could and sent it off. It was accepted a week later and has gone through three rounds of edits (the editor helped me improve the portions that had left me unsatisfied).

The theme for their November issue is ‘The Wait’.

Check out the details here: http://www.sparkthemagazine.com/write-for-us/

Do read my story if possible and let me know what you think!

Lit Journals, Writing

Market Spotlight: The Writer

The Writer is one of the oldest, most venerated magazines for writers in the world. It was started in 1887 and continues to churn out issues packed with so much useful information that you could never cover in one sitting.

They host several contests for writers on a regular basis, including short stories, flash fiction and essay contests.

A year ago, I came across their essay contest which had a theme of ‘Your Writing Life’. As a software professional who dabbles in writing on the side, I felt quite passionately about this subject and had already begun an essay about how I’m constantly engaged in a tug of war with both my work and my creativity pulling at me.

I read a lot of past winning entries in both the fiction and nonfiction contests, and then I set about completing the essay and revising it. As I subscribe to their newsletter, I received timely reminders for the deadline. I have a habit of editing and revising right up until the last minute, and I’m sorry to say I did the same for this submission. My delays are mostly self-inflicted, as I worry about the quality of my writing and whether its worth the hassle of the entry free (a substantial $20!).

In fact, I dithered until the very last moment for that reason, wondering if I should splurge, and finally something pushed me to take the plunge.

Months passed, and I fully expected to receive a rejection, though I hoped for a shortlist at least. In their previous fiction contest, I had been pleasantly surprised by an encouraging note stating that they loved my story and I had made it to the final round but not placed.

So, it was with some trepidation when I woke up one morning and found an email from The Writer. The first few sentences were standard, thanking me for my entry and saying my piece had not been selected as a winner.

The last sentence perked me up: they would be interested to publish it in an upcoming issue! I did the dance and emailed them back right away saying I’d love that.

They offered me publication in the September’18 issue and $75 payment, which was credited into my Paypal just about a month later.       The whole experience was smooth and I would love to write for them again.

Here’s a link to their submission guidelines. Subscribe to their newsletter to remain updated about their contests.

Have you written for The Writer? Do you subscribe to their magazine? And if you have any tips for winning writing contests, let me know in the comments below!