You Beneath Your Skin
Book Reviews

You Beneath Your Skin

You Beneath Your Skin Cover reveal

Today it is my privilege to reveal the cover for Damyanti Biswas‘s debut crime novel, You Beneath Your Skin to be published this September by Simon & Schuster, India. I’ve known Damyanti since so long I can’t even remember. Though we’ve never met in person I feel like I know her as well as my in-person friends!

So, without further ado, here’s the cover! The red and black suggests blood, murder, intrigue and suspense – all the key ingredients of an awesome crime story. The shadowy face beneath the title provokes curiosity. It makes you wonder who she is, and what her story might be.

You Beneath Your Skin

Lies. Ambition. Family.

It’s a dark, smog-choked New Delhi winter. Indian American single mother Anjali Morgan juggles her job as a psychiatrist with caring for her autistic teenage son. She is in a long-standing affair with ambitious Police Commissioner Jatin Bhatt – an irresistible attraction that could destroy both their lives.

Jatin’s home life is falling apart: his handsome and charming son is not all he appears to be, and his wife has too much on her plate to pay attention to either husband or son. But Jatin refuses to listen to anyone, not even the sister to whom he is deeply attached.

Across the city there is a crime spree: slum women found stuffed in trash bags, faces and bodies disfigured by acid. And as events spiral out of control Anjali is horrifyingly at the centre of it all.

In a sordid world of poverty, misogyny, and political corruption, Jatin must make some hard choices. But what he unearths is only the tip of the iceberg. Together with Anjali he must confront old wounds and uncover long-held secrets before it is too late.


Check out this book if you like pacy reads that also engage with various social issues.

Pre-order YOU BENEATH YOUR SKIN here.

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You Beneath Your Skin Back Cover

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You beneath Your Skin Damyanti
The Author Damyanti Biswas

Do you read crime novels? What do you think of the cover of You Beneath Your Skin? Would you like to read You Beneath Your Skin, and make a pre-order?


For You Beneath Your Skin, all proceeds to the author would be divided between Chhanv Foundation and Project WHY.

To support the organisations, pre-order HERE.

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Damyanti Biswas lives in Singapore, and works with Delhi’s underprivileged children as part of Project Why, a charity that promotes education and social enhancement in underprivileged communities. Her short stories have been published in magazines in the US, UK, and Asia, and she helps edit the Forge Literary Magazine. You can find her on her blog and twitter.

Writing

To Hell and Back – My Writing Process

A budding writer recently connected with me offline and asked me how I write my stories. My initial reaction was ‘Duh, I just write them.’

But I realized, that’s not really true. After 30 published stories I have a fair bit of process. There is quite a bit of thought that goes in and I do have a process, if not an elaborate one.

First things first, I maintain a document listing out my ideas, and another one for prompts I collect. When it’s time to write a story, I choose one from either, and then I percolate the idea a bit, let it stew in my brain for a day or two so that I have my characters and scenes in place. This is what I call focused daydreaming, and it’s important to the outcome. For me it’s not even during the day – my go-to time for plotting out stories is usually in the minutes before I fall asleep, because that’s when the best ideas hit me.

A day or two later, I start writing. If the story is clear to me then I start typing straight away in Word. Many times, however, I’ve preferred instead to write by hand in a notebook and at some point, transfer the contents to a document. The point at which I transfer varies for each story. Sometimes it’s after a page or two, other times its almost until the end. I don’t always write the entire first draft by hand.

Once I’ve written it out completely, I close the document and forget about the story for a week, longer if possible. When I return to it I do so with a blank slate and renewed focus, and realize that all those quirks I deemed brilliant are not really so.

Then it’s back to the drawing board. I hit ‘Save as’ and create a version of the doc with a tentative title suffixed by date. I’m a programmer so I’m obsessive about version control 🙂

The title I choose initially may have nothing to do with the story, and may land up being just a descriptor, like ‘Friendship breakup story’. I brainstorm titles much later.

I edit the story once, then return to it again after a day or two. This cycle repeats until at some point when I feel it’s good enough, I send it out for feedback to one of my many writing peers. Or if it looks like I might miss a magazine’s submission deadline, I just go ahead and send it with the version I think is best. I try critiquing it as critically I can on my own, but of course it’s always best when another pair of eyes has looked at it.

Then comes the time for submission, which is a separate whole post by itself, but I’ll summarize here. I first try to find markets that have themed issues where my story might fit. If I analyze my published stories and even essays, I find this has the most chance of success. Apart from this, I search up to 5 venues where my stories might fit best.

If the first five lead to rejection (as it usually does!), there’s always the next five and the five after that! So on and so forth the process goes, until its either time to shelve the story or clap your hands in joy because its finally published!

So that’s my process. Not really rocket science, is it?

What’s your writing/creating process like? Any tips you would like to share? Let me know in the comments below.

reading

What I’ve been Reading

Every so often I compile a list of my latest reads, inspired mostly by Nina Badzin who maintains an enviable collection of books she’s finished reading.

Here’s the latest on my pile:

Name, Place, Animal, Thing by Vrinda Baliga

This is a beautiful collection of extremely well-written short stories by my friend Vrinda Baliga. Each story throws up little gems that the reader can savour. The title story could almost be a novella with the multiple aspects and sub-plots within. Though I loved Bonsai and Preparing for Life in a Dead Man’s Home and many others, my favourite remains Stranger Anxiety. The different POV but simplicity of the story and the subject held me riveted, and when it ended, I felt just a little sad, both for the protagonist and for myself.

A great collection, highly recommended. Read it and enjoy.

Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

I’ve read this before but long ago, enough that I can partake of the beauty in the writing and the storyline. If I remember correctly, I’ve even seen the movie version starring the brilliant Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson as well.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

I’ve just started on this number one bestseller, and it’s a fabulous literary read so far.

The Productivity Project: Proven Ways to Become More Awesome by Chris Bailey

I try to mix at least some nonfiction into all the fiction reading I do, and this came recommended from multiple sources. I’m halfway through and finding it useful if not groundbreaking.

All this reading has helped me reduce my ever-burgeoning TBR pile just a little, but not much! I’m eager to read more of the books I’ve purchased recently.

What have you been reading lately? Any particular book you would like to recommend?

Travel

A Thai Trip to Remember

Last week I did something I’d never done before – I packed my bags and joined my school buddies on a trip to Thailand! I was quite nervous about how the kids would manage without me but they did, somehow.

If you’ve ever considered visiting Bangkok and Pattaya, I’d strongly urge you to go for it! The three of us ladies stocked up on our shopping, and we’re set for handbags and purses for life! A great trip to recharge and rejuvenate!

With more than 500 photos crowding up my phone, here are a few of the best.

Lit Journals

Market Spotlight: Third Flatiron

I’ve blogged before about this wonderful science fiction literary journal called Third Flatiron. They publish around four times a year and mostly around a theme.

Their Spring/Summer anthology, “Hidden Histories” is out now, and a perfect read for folks looking for some fun, short summer reads. The anthology’s available in Kindle and paperback at Amazon.

The latest and best news about this market: Third Flatiron will be raising their per-word pay rate for accepted stories to 8 cents, beginning with the Fall/Winter 2019 anthology. As a SFWA Afilliate, their goal is to continue to pay pro rates.

They will be reopening for submissions on July 10 for three weeks. Stories are due to us during the three-week reading period: July 10 – August 3. The theme this time is “Longevity,” and they hope to find some fantastic stories for this theme!

In addition, the editor Juliana Rew has come out with her first novel, “The Unwinding: Gin’s Story,” under her new imprint, Sophont Press. It’s a space opera, book one of a planned trilogy. The ebook for Kindle is available for pre-order on Amazon, and paperbacks will be available on July 1. Kirkus reviews call it “A sci-fi romp that’s vast in scale yet thoroughly playful.”

They also did a wonderful, free podcast of Bruce Golden’s lead story about Queen Elizabeth and Shakespeare, “The Fairy’s Bell.” Check it out here.

Overall this is a great market to submit to, if you have a piece of speculative fiction looking for a home. Check out their submission guidelines and send something great!

My Writing

An Even Keel

I’m pleased to share an essay of mine after quite a long gap. The HerStry blog had put out a call for submissions matching the May theme of motherhood. I sent in my submission and in ten days I got the happy news that it was accepted for publication.

You can read An Even Keel on the HerStry blog here.

Let me know what you think! If you have any work of your own to share, please drop a link in the comments below!

Writing

Short Story Month

Crickets have been chirping here for close to a month because I’ve had no time to pen a blogpost due to health issues in the family. In lieu of all the writing I could have done, I instead did some spring cleaning on my writing-related folders, though we are firmly in the thick of summer here.

May is celebrated as Short Story Month. There’s even a website and a challenge associated with it – write a short story every day in the month of May. If you want to try it even now, you can sign up here. You will get a prompt for each day which would result in at least a flash piece if not a full-fledged short story. I find a short story (of around 3000 words) takes between 3 days to a week to finish the first draft. If I let it linger any longer than that then the story idea and the excitement that drove me to write it fades just a little.

I have never been brave enough to attempt this challenge. The most I’ve done is write one short story per month and even that’s a pretty good pace for me.

Lit Hub has compiled an excellent collection of links in celebration of Short Story Month, including a look at one of the best short stories ever.

Some of my favourite short stories (mainly from the pre-Internet-era) include:

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

I read this story as a tween, and it has stayed with me ever since. Any story by O. Henry is a pleasure to read, but this is one of the best.

A Temporary Matter by Jhumpa Lahiri

The author’s debut short story collection The Interpreter of Maladies won the Pulitzer Prize in 1999, and quite deservingly so. This story introduces the collection, and one of the best of the lot.

Mrs. Packletide’s Tiger by Saki

Saki was the pseudonym of Hector Hugh Munro and there are several stories of his that are more popular, like Sredni Vashtar. I read this story Mrs. Packletide’s Tiger in school, and enjoyed it a lot, especially the humour in it.

The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant

Guy de Maupassant wsa another prolific genius writer of short stories, and this is one of his most famous twist-ending stories. Read it here.

The Luncheon by W Somerset Maugham

One of the funniest short stories by the great W Somerset Maugham. Though his novels are filled with pathos, this particular story wins on humour and irony!

What are your favourite short stories? Are you writing any short stories right now? Let me know in the comments below!