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!

reading

Chipping away at the TBR Pile

I’m on something of a reading spree these days, having finished 4+books in the last 6 weeks. Granted, two of them are nonfiction books on writing, but that’s how I read anyway. Consuming some writing advice always inspires me to write more and to just keep writing.

The Mummy Bloggers by Holly Wainwright

A funny, heartwarming, female-oriented book centered around three mom-bloggers and the fierce competition between them. I read this pretty quickly and enjoyed it a lot, but I had to overlook the unlikely coincidence that all three women are related in some way or the other (this is not a spoiler – its revealed pretty early in the book).

Unladylike: A Memoir by Radhika Vaz

I read this book almost in one sitting! I found it quite a quick and easy read, and extremely funny! The most hilarious parts dwelled on her childhood and growing up in different places. I’d have liked to read more about her journey into comedy but that is somewhat glossed upon towards the end. Overall a great read!

Show Don’t tell by Sandra Gerth

A handy guide for writers that illustrates the old adage of ‘Show Don’t Tell’ using examples to show both how to do it and how not to do it. I know most of this stuff already, but seeing it laid out specifically to show both how to do it and how not to do it.

Releasing the Words: Writers on Writing by Various Authors

I am mainly browsing through this book so I can dip into the nuggets of advice it contains, on a variety of topics pertinent to writers, from conquering the inner critic to battling writer’s block.

My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

I’m reading this now, and it totally deserves all the accolades it’s got so far! I’d never imagined that a novel featuring serial killers could be so darkly comic! If you haven’t read this yet, please do so now!

Milk Teeth by Amrita Mahale

My second current read, a complete contrast from the other one, features all the drama that happens in an apartment building in Mumbai. Its familiar and interesting and another book deserving of all the accolades coming its way.

I’m really enjoying my reading these days, and I’m so glad I’ve fallen back into the reading habit with such ease. The rush of reading and finishing a good book is unparalleled.

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

Social Media

Caroline Calloway and the Perks of Instagram

Last week the saga of the Instagram Influencer Caroline Calloway exploded in a big way thanks to a wonderfully-written essay by her friend Natalie Beach. Note that I am not calling Natalie her ghostwriter because she categorically states in her Insta feed that she ‘co-wrote’ those captions with her.

If you have no clue what I am talking about here, its best to hop over to these links and get up to speed on the whole thing. A brief summary: Instagram Influencer Caroline Calloway, who amassed close to 800k followers and became internet-famous for documenting her days at Cambridge University in the form of mini-memoirs, turned out to have a friend i.e. Natalie Beach, who helped her write them. Oh, Natalie also wrote her book proposal for the book that a publisher had bought for an advance of $375,000. Oh, also, Caroline bought followers to boost her profile. And one last thing – she did not turn in the book as she was on Adderall and going through a tough phase, and had to return the advance. Oh, and before I forget, she scheduled a series of ‘creativity workshops’ and had to cancel/refund them because she hadn’t planned them at all.

The whole epic tale of friendship unfolds in a multitude of layers and class differences. Natalie, after the essay appeared on The Cut, went from 500-odd followers to more than 10k followers. Caroline, not one to be left behind, grew her Instagram many-fold also. Natalie gave an interview to the NYT a few days later, and admitted that her “inbox is quite full right now”, and she had warned Caroline that she was writing the essay and also about its impending publication. Apparently, Caroline’s entire fan base had been anticipating the publication of the essay and Caroline herself posted daily in nail-biting tension.

I followed Caroline Calloway so you don’t have to! And this is what I have learned over the last few days. (see how I keep learning every day of my life and don’t just stop at the ABCD I learned in my school)

  • She posts as many stories as Instagram will allow in the 24-hour period
  • The mini-essays continue even now after the explosion of her (mis)deeds
  • She is clearly suffering an extreme case of narcissism, which I as an armchair shrink have every authority to declare
  • She’s currently running a series of screenshots of her old posts
  • Her selfies with the hand below her chin is her signature selfie shot
  • She has archived a lot of those old posts that made her famous in the first place
  • Screenshots of chats (that I would deem private) are commonplace on her feed
  • Here’s the zinger – she posted an NSFW pic on Insta the day after her father died.

Check out her feed – I know you want to! While you’re over there, check out mine as well!

My Instagram showcases my inept photography skills. But I have now seen the error of my ways and I am very inspired by Caroline Calloway and will henceforth compose entire mini-essays to accompany the photos I post on Instagram. Lit mags the world over may now rejoice. My submissions and inept cover letters will no longer plague the inboxes of editors all over the world. Instead they’ll be rolling down my Insta feed, gaining followers while you regular folk rot in the very hell-depths of social media.

Jokes apart, its my belief this whole thing is a very well-crafted, well-orchestrated saga designed to fulfill the dreams of both girls. They both appreciate each other’s writing a lot, and let slip only a word or two of criticism in between.

That’s my thoughts anyway, though I hope I’m proved wrong.

Have you been following the scandal? What are your thoughts on the whole saga?

reading, Writing

Writing Resources Roundup

It’s been a while since I did a roundup of useful and exciting writing-related articles on the web. Here’s the latest I’ve been reading:

Ten Writing Resolutions

If you’ve ever followed any kind of resolutions for writing, check this post. It offers a completely different set of resolutions, not the usual goal-setting kind.

How to Outline a Novel

The brilliant Roz Morris has a new post on Ingram Spark that details the various ways one could outline a novel. I am very much a plotter for long fiction, though I move into pantser mode for short stories. This article gave me a few good ideas on how I’d plot my next novel (even if the previous one lies unsold :D)

15 Exercises to Strengthen your writing

Searching for prompts to practice your writing and beef up some of those writing muscles? Look no further than this article from Writer’s Relief.

The Anti-Procrastination App from Hell

Ever yearned to watch your words evaporate in a wisp of virtual smoke? Then try the world’s most dangerous writing app! It will delete everything you write if you stop typing for five minutes. Frankly, I’d prefer that option, because under that kind of pressure anything I wrote would be super-crappy.

Why and Where You Should Start Submitting Your Writing This September

Once you’ve made your resolutions, tackled the prompts, outlined your story and overcome the dangerous writing app, you might have a finished story that you would want to start sending out to suitable venues. Check out this post to read a helpful guide to submitting, and it also includes links to markets. And while you’re there, subscribe to Authors Publish! It’s one of the best resources for writers filled with links to literary journals and publishers accepting submissions.

And bonus exciting news – Margaret Atwood’s book The Testaments is out! This is the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, a book that terrified me but was a brilliant read.

Do you have any exciting writing-related links or news to share? Drop it in the comments below!

Humour

Is Your Family Complete?

When I gave birth to my second child, the words I heard most often from friends and family were, “Congratulations! Your family is complete!” My first child was a girl (woe betide me) and my second, a bonny baby boy. I had done something fantastic and achieved the apparently “perfect Indian combination” of children – one boy and one girl.

Judging by the overly effervescent greetings from of my most well-wishers, I am delighted to report that my family can now be classified as “having all the necessary or appropriate parts”, as per the dictionary definition of complete.

This underhanded compliment left me astounded, so much so that I penned an entire humour piece on it, which is now up on Arre:

Mum + Dad + Beta + Beti: Why Are Indians Obsessed With the Idea of a “Complete Family”?

Please have a read and let me know what you think!

reading

The Grand Georgette

If you’ve been reading books for any respectable length of time, you would have encountered the works of Georgette Heyer, even if for some reason you haven’t read them. (Why haven’t you, by the way!)

Georgette Heyer is the final word in Regency Romance, though she did write detective novels as well that were equally funny and brilliant. She wrote her first book while in her teens, and churns out the wittiest dialogues in her novels.

Her books are often thick and published in tiny print, but I have read them all to ragged shreds and would never part with them.

My favourite books of hers include:

The Unknown Ajax

This is not the most popular choice even for those die-hard fans of Georgette. Most of her books feature lavish balls in London and plenty of shopping, but this has none of that and instead focuses on intrigue and mystery.

Cotillion

The rare book in which (spoiler alert!) the heroine unites not with the handsome devilish rake but the well-mannered and stylish hero. Freddie and Kitty are one of my favourite couples from all Georgette Heyer books.

Venetia

An unusual one in which the heroine does fall in love with the rake but is the rake as rakish as he appears? I didn’t mean to turn that into a tongue-twister but that’s essentially the plot.

Frederica

Another unusual one in which the heroine is not the prettiest girl, her younger sister is.

The Devil’s Cub

This one is more of a conventional romance with a rakish hero who, we hope, will mend his ways by the good influence of the feisty heroine.

Georgette Heyer remains one of my favourite authors whose books form my set of comfort reads. Whenever I want to read something funny and literary but I don’t want to tax the brain with the intricacies of a brand-new plot I reach out for my good old stack of Georgette Heyers and they never fail to disappoint.

Check out this website dedicated to her and her books.

Have you read Georgette Heyer? Which of her books do you love most? Or is there any other author who’s your favourite?