This Week in Writing and Publishing News

The last few weeks have seen have quite some excitement in the world of books and publishing. Each of the news pieces I’ve mentioned below are fascinating to read about.

A Suspense Novelist’s Trail of Deceptions

AJ Finn’s novel Woman in the Window became a huge bestseller last year. It followed the trend of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. But how much do you know about the author? This article on the New Yorker tells a long and absorbing tale of a writer whose personal life offers more drama than his books. Don’t miss this – worth a read despite the length.

YA author pulls debut novel due to accusations of racism

Author Amélie Wen Zhao had to pull her YA Fantasy novel after early reviewers dismissed the book as racist. This and other instances has created the need for sensitivity readers, though their impact on books and publishing is something we’ll observe in the years to come.

Jeff Bezos exposes Dan Pecker before he exposes him

I think everyone must have read about this one by now. The news was hardly out when McSweeney’s had a riposte ready. Check out I Am Jeff Bezos: Man Of Principle, Champion of the Exploited

Using Literary Techniques in Narrative Journalism

Not a news-related piece, but an excellent one nevertheless on livening up your nonfiction using storytelling techniques.

If all that wasn’t enough, here’s something to tickle your funny bone:

Eat Your Feelings at These New Restaurants for Writers“From the Memoir Bistro to the Rejection Café, we’ve invented 8 dining establishments for the literary”

All these articles gave me more than enough food for thought over the last few days. Anything else that caught your eye but missed mine? Let me know in the comments! ac

Science Fiction in India

I joined a readers group on Facebook last year. It’s a very active group that has a vast number of well-read and articulate readers. A recent post on this group lamenting the lack of good science fiction in India inspired this post today. Allow me to present the science fiction books I have read that have come out of India:

  1. Satyajit Ray’s Professor Shonku series
  2. Anil Menon’s The Beast with Nine Billion Feet
  3. Samit Basu’s Turbulence
  4. Vandana Singh’s books

There are a few literary journals too that publish SF with an Indian or Asian influence.

  1. Indian SF

Sadly this site has gone defunct but the quality of stories published was quite high and the archives are worth browsing through.

This is an international science fiction and fantasy magazine that often features stories with an Asian influence.

Papercuts by Desi Writers’ Lounge is not focused primarily on science fiction/fantasy

Published by the renowned Kitaab Publishers, and featuring a story by (ahem!) yours truly!

Science fiction and fantasy is picking up in India in a big way. Here are a couple of links I found interesting:

The unbelievable meteoric rise of Indian SFF

3 Indian works of Science Fiction

Have you read Indian science fiction? Please do recommend some of your favourite stories/books in that genre! �0

Marie Kondo and the 30-Book Challenge

The internet has been abuzz with Marie Kondo and her Tidying up, and especially the part most relevant to writers and book lovers all over the world has them in a tizzy.

Her philosophy of ‘spark joy’, i.e. pick up an item (in our case we will consider a book) and if it doesn’t spark joy, then dispose of it.

The suggestion to throw away books that we will cherish forever even if they don’t tantalize us in the moment is what caused the controversy. Twitter, the blogosphere and a number of thinkpieces have erupted on it, essentially outraged at the seemingly sensible advice.

She clarified later that you don’t really need to toss your books, you can also donate the ones you don’t want to keep anymore.

Over on Writers Digest, Robert Lee Brewer has issued the “30-book challenge” in response to Marie Kondo’s tidying up advice.

I already declutter as much as possible and have, several times a month, stood facing my bookshelf with a critical eye, trying but failing to home in on titles I don’t mind disposing. I don’t ever throw away my books – I don’t know any reader who would do that – but I donate them to the library near my house who always accept the bounty gratefully.

Even if I tried to keep only 30 books and give away the rest, I don’t know how I would go about it.

Here’s just a tiny snippet of the books that sit on my shelf:

Harry Potter – 7 books

Artemis Fowl – 7

Agatha Christie – 14

Georgette Heyer – 12

Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series – 9 books

Alexander McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street Series – 9 books

Alexander McCall Smith’s Corduroy Mansions Series – 3 books

Jasper Fforde – 3 books

As you can see, that totals to way more than 30 (64 if you’re counting), and this is apart from the all standalone books I’ve acquired, and the nonfiction titles I cherish like Houdini’s biography, Eat Pray Love, Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, and even Capote for that matter. This also doesn’t take into account the 100-odd books lying on my Kindle, some read, some (ahem!) unread.

So, 30 books? Make that 300 and I’d still be wringing my hands about how many you’re making me throw away. Make it 3000 and then maybe I could consider the matter.

What’s your take on Marie Kondo’s “30 books” advice?

World Book Day #Shelfie

In honour of World Book Day today, here are a few #shelfies to celebrate! The books don’t belong to me, unfortunately, and neither does the bookshelf. Both are the property of the erudite owners on whose property I stayed recently. They wisely kept the bookshelf locked! If they hadn’t, I am sorry to say I might have tucked a few under my arm and run off with them!

5 Fantastic Apps for Reading

Before I plunge into the list of apps I use for reading, I’d like to share some happy news first: my story Pearls Mean Tears is published in Penny Shorts! It is one of the few stories I’ve managed to get reprinted. Do pop over and take a look!

The other day, while I was reading stories on Penny Shorts and other literary journals online on my iPhone, a friend leaned over my shoulder and seeing me with my nose buried in the virtual text, demanded to know which apps I used to read. I then realized I had more than one, and in subsequent interactions, I came to know many people wanted options for reading.

Note that all the below are free to download, but may feature in-app purchases.

Kindle

The default app for reading these days is the Kindle. I have no use for a separate Kindle device but the app for the smartphone is invaluable. Don’t ask me how many books sit on my digital TBR pile – it would shame even Amazon itself!

The monthly Kindle deals that roll around at the beginning of each month offer books at throwaway prices!

Blinkist: Big Ideas in small packages

This little app started four years ago and has hit a million users already! It condenses entire nonfiction books into bite-sized “blinks” that can be finished in 20-30 minutes. And if you like the book you can always buy and read the whole thing! But I found this perfect for me – I love reading nonfiction but had stayed away from it due to lack of time. I can finish one book on Blinkist per day easily, and I’m won over enough to sign up for the premium subscription!

They’re currently offering a deal that offers 4 months off!

Juggernaut

An Indian digital-only publisher of books in a variety of genres – romance, thrillers, short stories etc. I downloaded the app with the intention of submitting work to them, though I haven’t yet got around to doing that. Meanwhile the app has me hooked with enticing new releases every week!

Their short stories cost Rs. 10 onwards while books cost Rs. 30 onwards.

Magzter

Whenever I stood at the checkout counter of my local grocery superstore, I gazed longingly at the magazines and wondered when I’d get time to curl up with one at home. Thanks to Magzter I now have the next best thing – a digital version of the magazines! I found the price quite reasonable as well, mainly because I snagged an annual deal.

Price: Annual subscription for Rs. 990 that offers access to 4000+ magazines.

Feedly

I subscribe to a humongous number of blogs, some general interest but others in niche areas of writing and technology. Someday I will have to cull this list, but until then I use Feedly to catch up on all the blogs I follow.

This app and its services are completely free. I haven’t paid anything to use it as yet.

 

What are your favourite apps for reading?