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!

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!