Third Flatiron

I’ve always been a fan of the science fiction and fantasy journal Third Flatiron. Their Spring anthology, “Monstrosities,” is now available in ebook format on Amazon 

It is available free to Kindle Unlimited members. 

The 20 satirical, fantasy, and horror stories contained in the book would be a great read while you wait for spring to finally kick winter to the curb. 

Click here for details. 

Submissions are now open for their Summer 2018 issue (“Galileo’s Theme Park”). 

Check their website at http://www.thirdflatiron.com for info and deadlines. If any of the themes inspire you, consider sending along a story for consideration. 

The Drive: To help them continue publishing great stories and paying writers well, please subscribe (it’s only $1/month) or support us on Patreon at patreon.com/thirdflatiron. 

F or NF?

Ever since I picked up creative writing, I have written a mix of fiction and nonfiction. I launched my writing career with a nonfiction humour piece that found publication in a major Indian women’s magazine called Femina. I followed it up with several more pieces of humorous nonfiction, but I tried my hand at writing fiction alongside as well. In this endeavour, my efforts met with less success. My critique group rightly ripped my stories apart, but I persevered and managed to get a few shorter pieces published to begin with.

In the years since, I find myself equally divided between fiction and creative nonfiction. Some days I pick up my laptop determined to write a short story but it doesn’t flow and a nonfiction piece comes quite easily instead. On other days when I begin an essay, the muse doesn’t cooperate and prods me towards a short story instead.

I’m at the stage now where I go with the flow. Earlier I used to stress about it, mistakenly believing that I should stick to one and master it rather than dabble in different genres and fail spectacularly in all of them.

However, when I researched this problem a little, I found that most writing websites advising trying genres to test one’s mettle and also one’s interest. I have not found myself gravitating to any one particular field yet. Even within fiction, I write a mix of YA, contemporary realist, speculative and magical realism stories.

To add to this heady mix of fiction and creative nonfiction is poetry. I find it tough to write poetry, even though I have had poems published but those are more on the humorous side. My muse often pushes me towards poetry as well. I have written a few serious poems but so far I haven’t tried to get them published, convinced as I am that they are spectacularly poor and don’t deserve publication. However I haven’t got them critiqued either. Poetry is something I plan to tackle later, when I have wrapped up penning the stories and essays that I have already ideated first.

A number of classic novelists were excellent essayists as well. You can read them on Project Gutenberg, like this collection by George Eliot.

A few of my writer friends do attempt to write both, but some are devoted to one particular form of writing – say science fiction or perhaps children’s stories, or even journalistic pieces that involve research and reporting. I admire and envy their single-minded focus, considering my writing is nowadays all over the place.

But after years of experimenting with different types of writing, I realized my attempts would never go to waste. I count all of it towards practice.

And as the old adage goes which we learnt when we were children, practice makes perfect.

At least, that’s what I have pinned my hopes on.

What is your favourite genre of writing? Do you feel moved to experiment in different modes of writing as well? Do let me know in the comments below!

My story up on Juggernaut

I recently posted about my story The Demons of November up on Juggernaut. It has garnered good ratings so far.

Here’s the opener:

The Demons of November

The rooftop of our tenements affords us a direct view to Bansilal’s farmhouse just opposite. The ugly purple curtains framing his picture windows are drawn apart in that artistic style as if he’s hosting a play in his living room. Soni trains the binoculars at the window – the bania is entertaining guests. His maid must have served them exactly two biscuits and a cup of tea. He wouldn’t part with any more than that from his pantry.

Soni demands to know – is he really chatting with friends, or executing one of his “transactions”?

We each take a turn with the binoculars, but none of us can spot cash changing hands. It might be a personal visit, but with Bansilal one never knows.

The new government had marched in one day armed with bulldozers and razed the slums, leaving us homeless. They promised us new tenements, but no timeline. Shakti Uncle witnessed our plight, and eased his conscience by handing us the keys to his flat before he headed for the Gulf for a company posting. Then the water turned bad and Pinki fell ill with amoebic dysentery, and we had to hustle to buy her medicines. A week to the day of her recovery, Jivan Uncle tumbled down the stairs and fractured his leg in a freak accident.

The tenements came much later.

We light up a cigarette and pass it around. This is taking more time than we’d planned for.

The guests leave. Minutes pass, then the maid opens the door. A man enters and slumps down on the divan facing Bansilal. His bald pate shines under the chandelier lights in the bania’s house. He runs a hand over his head.

Jivan Uncle stubs out the cigarette and touches my shoulder. “That’s our cue, Amar. Let’s go.”

#

Security guards fall in two categories – the ones you can pull aside and slip a little more cash than they’re used to, and the other burly kind who’re gunning for a fight. The latter can knock down most opponents with a glare of their bloodshot eyes and a punch with a well-rounded fist. Bansilal’s guards hold steadfastly loyal to him – I don’t understand why – but it means Soni and I need to use our hands and knees. It doesn’t faze us. We dispatch them easily.

##

If you liked what you read and want to know what happens next, click through to the Juggernaut site/app and grab the rest of it! It’s free for your reading pleasure! Please do leave an honest review and rating and let me know what you thought of it!

The Millennium Enters Adulthood

Happy New Year Everyone! A warm welcome to the 18th year of the current century and indeed, of the millennium!

Each December I undertake a detailed review of the year gone by. You can read my past year-end summaries here, here and here. 

The first quarter of the year whizzed past in adjusting myself to a regular workday routine after six months of maternity leave. Glancing through my records, I observe that I actually began writing and submitting around April. 

I finally took the advice of this article and started sending out my stories to multiple venues at a time, and I’ve hit 100 rejections for the year! 

I also have 8 acceptances to show for my efforts. 

The growth I see this year is in my writing which I believe has improved. The evidence is visible in the form of a few personal/higher-tier rejections I received from some of the most reputed literary journals. It may sound strange to brag about rejections but anyone who writes and submits will know exactly what I am talking about. 

On the other end of the spectrum lies my disappointment at not placing in the contests I entered though I believed the stories were of good quality.  

I had hoped to close the year on a win, but by the onset of the festive season, that hope blurred and eventually died down. I imagine all the editors shut down their laptops and headed out for the ragged mountains or sandy beaches, or simply snugged close to the loved ones while tearing the wrapping off their Christmas presents under the light of the tree. 

I’d have shared more detailed stats for the year but I’m not really sure they are that useful. The main thing to note is that submitting your writing amounts to a numbers game. The more you submit, the higher the chances of acceptance. 

I will continue to plod my way through 2018, trudging through my archives digging out stories to be revised and submitted, and hoping for the best. I remain, as always, incurably optimistic.

What are your resolutions for the new year?

What I’m Reading

Every so often, I list out the books I’ve managed to eke out precious time to read. The time constraints imposed by a day job and a baby means I have less time to read than ever before, so my annual totals are nothing to write home about. I have dipped from an average of 3 books a week to perhaps 1 or 2 a month.

Despite that, however, I recently read and enjoyed five rather popular and well-reviewed novels.

 

The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang

I recently joined a readers group on Facebook that has fuelled my reading like nothing else has before! This one was recommended by one of the members there who had posted the link to it as it is available online. This is an amazing science-fiction novella, though the title might scare away potential readers who might mistakenly believe it is a software engineering textbook. The story revolves around “digients” – digital pets who are trained to grow and gain intelligence, and how their human owners strive to maintain them.

 

The Circle by Dave Eggers

Here’s a book that I wanted to read before watching the movie. I had read so much about it but finally I caved in and read it. A young girl called May joins a Google-type company, and while initially she’s lost at sea, she eventually gets sucked into its vortex. Reviews online have criticized it for adding nothing new to the conversation about tech companies like Google becoming an overarching monopoly, which I agree, but I enjoyed reading it nevertheless and totally recommend it.

 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The TV show is making waves on Hulu but I haven’t started on it yet. This is another one that I wanted to read first before watching the show, and I’m glad I did. It’s dark, foreboding, but page-turning, more quiet and literary than a thrilling adventure. For some reason it brought to my mind Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, though they have nothing in common apart from both being dystopian novels. Read it at leisure, and wait for the drama to slowly unfold.

 

Carrie by Stephen King

I have to shamefully admit here that I have NEVER read a Stephen King book other than On Writing because he writes primarily horror! I am very squeamish and even violent or gory thrillers give me sleepless nights. But I caught the movie version of Carrie and generally knew the story, enough to know that it was well-within my tolerance limits. So this became the first Stephen King novel I have read. And I, of course, loved it. I am glad to have read it and will be seeking out more of the same, non-gory stuff that he’s written. This one is not gory (in my opinion, YMMY), and recommended for all who are on the fence like me about Stephen King.

 

 

Unbroken by Nadhika Nambi

I came across this on my Juggernaut app and simply started reading without any context or background, knowing only that it was YA. A few pages in, it dawned on me that the protagonist Akriti is in a wheelchair, which is probably what fuels her acerbic chain of thoughts.

I have to say – it was an engrossing read. The author writes sensitively from the POV of the teenager, who is suffering twice the regular teen angst thanks to her situation. My only gripe with this book is that the character of the brother is a bit of a Mary Sue – almost too good to be true, but nevertheless, this is a great read for young and old alike!

 

Note: All links above are Amazon affiliate links.

 

Have you read any good books lately?