Mini-Update

I have been light on writing-related work this year. No Short Story Challenge, and definitely no other brand new work. I’ve spent most of my available free time on editing and whipping older pieces into shape. Per my records, I have about 28 of these essays and short stories that I need to whittle and carve to perfection, or at least start submitting them if I find I cannot revise and edit them any more.

Despite that I have a couple of acceptances to report. One was my short story targeted for a YA audience, titled Miss Quit which found a home in the lit mag Youth Imagination. I wrote this as part of the Short Story Challenge 2014, and it had been simmering ever since. When I did finally send it out I got a fairly quick acceptance.

The second was my article for writers, titled The Maturation of a Writer at Walrus Publishing. I wrote this last year on the spur of the moment one day, while reflecting on the differences I felt as a more experienced writer now compared to when I had started out.

Do read them and tell me what you think! Feel free to post links to your own recently published work in the comments below!

Of This and That

The last few months have been busy, both with work and a few unfortunate health issues cropping up, no thanks to the absolutely indeterminate weather that vacillates between extreme heat and sudden coolness.

But I’m happy to share a few acceptances that have come my way:

The Curse of the Working Mother in So Glad They Told Me: Women On Getting Real About Motherhood

The Kernel of Truth in Inspired by Gandhi Writing Competition

The Wrath of Sephilemea in Kelly Ann Jacobson’s Dear Robot Anthology

A Legacy of Lies in Cracked Eye

The first two are nonfiction while the next two are fiction. This year has seen an equal mix of my stories and essays finding placement in respectable journals.

I continue to write one story per month for the Short Story Challenge. In recent weeks finding the time has proved a real challenge, but I take the deadline seriously.

A small change to the blog has been affected. My ‘Published Works’ page now links to separate pages for my fiction, essays and other works. The change was long overdue, as the original page was crammed with information and wasn’t easily navigable.

Click on over and tell me what you think!

The Power of Apps

I am thrilled to report that Distant Echoes is doing well and is listed on Amazon as a free download today! Do pick up a copy and post a review! The official Facebook page is here. If you like the collection, spread the word and get your friends to buy it. If you don’t like it, spread the word and get your friends to buy it anyway, because really, what better way to make them suffer?

This experience of self-publishing had me thinking about the Kindle App and the power of apps in general. Here’s a fun fact about me – I didn’t own a smartphone until a year ago. Gulp! Go ahead and ask the question that’s churning in your mind – how did I survive? The truth is I had a nifty iPod Touch for all my smartphone needs, and I cruised along reasonably well with it. However at some point I caved in to the hype and purchased the iPhone 5S, which is now my constant companion and partner-in-crime.

Over a period of one year I added and discarded a vast number of apps from my collection. I generally don’t overload my phone and keep only the apps that I really need and actually use on a daily basis.

In that spirit, I thought I’d share with you the five free apps that I use the most: 

What would writers do without this Dictionary and thesaurus?  Their Word of the Day adds to my vocabulary, and the blog too posts interesting articles on a regular basis.

 

A friend recently introduced me to this app and it’s amazing! Choose your workout and follow the exercises given. It provides YouTube videos to guide you on the right way to perform each exercise. The pro version offers customizable workouts and full workout logs, but the lite version should be sufficient for most people.

 

This is a calorie tracker app which I use, though not as religiously as it’s meant to be used. MyFitnessPal is the best calorie tracker app out there, but I was already a registered LiveStrong user so I continued on it. MyPlate has a great collection of food items that can be logged, including common Indian food items.

Because a girl needs to play! Does this need any other explanation? For some reason this is one game that I turn to whenever I feel stressed. It’s my equivalent of doing meditation.

An awesome app for storytellers. I resort to it whenever I’m stuck for ideas, and it always gets the creative juices flowing. It suggests a character, a setting and a plot, which you’re supposed to use in combination to write a story. I use this to generate ideas for my writing practice, and if the practice turns into a workable sellable story then what could be better?

In other writing news, I am a proud mamma this week, as my post Jill of All Trades was published in Literary Mama. Take a look and tell me what you think.

Do share your favourite apps as I’m always looking to add to my collection!

Distant Echoes

At the beginning of 2014 I joined a group of eclectic writers for the Short Story Challenge, in which we committed to writing one short story for the month. We shared stories, exchanged critiques and reveled in each other’s successes. Nine writers emerged victorious, successfully completing the challenge.

The result is an amazing collection of stories called Distant Echoes, published this month on Amazon. It features my story as well as those of the eight other writers, which includes debut novelists and award winners among them.

This is very exciting for me. Though I am part of other collections available on Amazon such as the Bartleby Snopes Issue 8, eFiction and BookMuse Reader’s Journal, this qualifies as my first foray into self-publishing, albeit not with a book that has my name on the cover. But there is time enough for that. Do check out the collection and help spread the word. I hope you enjoy the stories.

In other news, I am striving hard to write regularly. A sprinkling of successes here and there keeps my spirits buoyed up.

If you feel funny, i.e. if you want to write funny and inject a little humour into your stories, take a look at my article A Shot of Humor on FreelanceWriting.com.

My personal essay Digital Devotion is up on Cecile’s Writers magazine. It’s one of my favourite pieces and I’m glad that it found such a good home.

As always, I continue to write one story per month for Short Story Challenge 2015.

What news on the reading/writing front for you?

New Beginnings and 2014 Wrap-up

Happy New Year, everyone! The year begins on a positive note. My humorous essay Its Not Personal is up at Page & Spine on The Writer’s Table. 2014 had been a stellar year for me in terms of my writing. I managed a grand total of 80k words which amounts to little more than 200 words a day. The breakup is as follows:

19 short stories
16 essays
10 pieces of flash fiction/nonfiction
12 blog posts

I made a total of 165 submissions:
Accepted – 15
Rejected – 108
Withdrawn – 8
Submitted – 23

The rest were no responses, even from markets that don’t have a ‘No response means no’ policy. Those befuddle me a little, but I understand there might be reasons for this, so for me it’s just better to chalk it up as a lost cause and move on.   On the final day of the year I received 3 rejections. Ouch! Luckily I’ve grown too thick-skinned to allow this to affect me! I have renewed my commitment to the Short Story Challenge, and will continue writing one a month for 2015. Among other writerly tasks, revising the stories I’ve written and submitting them is of paramount importance. If I don’t work on that soon then I’ll land up having acquired a platoon of stories and no action taken on them.

It hasn’t been a great year for me in terms of reading as I finished only around 20 books this year, a record all-time low for me. However I’ve made up for it by reading tons of short stories and entire issues of literary journals, both to understand markets I intend to submit to as well as to analyze the components of well-written fiction and non-fiction.

Resolutions are passé, or they should be, at least for people like me who never manage to keep them. However I do plan to commit to my writing and make time for it as much as possible.

What are your plans for the New Year?

What I’ve been Reading

I haven’t been reading much. There, I said it. I’m ashamed to have said it but it’s the truth, especially coming from me – a person who used to finish 2-3 books per week with consummate ease. 

To clarify, I haven’t read too many novels this year. But to compensate, and because I’m writing 1 short story every month as part of the Short Story Challenge, I’ve been gobbling up fiction and essays from literary magazines everywhere, mostly online. 

At the rate of 1 short story a day, I might have easily read as much as 2-3 books a week! 

Despite that, I craved my novel fixes. So I got back in the game with two of the most talked about books that have recently been made or are going to be made into films. 

 

Divergent by Veronica Roth

I came to the Divergent party a little late, because I didn’t know how much I could stomach. I was also worried that it would end on a cliffhanger and I’d be forced to read the sequels just to know what happens next. 

Luckily I’m pleased to report this was not the case. I enjoyed reading the book. It ended on a note that surely promised a sequel, but it is no loss if you choose not to. 

Though I found it very exciting, the premise felt a little too derivative to me. The sorting of people into factions reminded me of the Sorting Hat in Harry Potter, and the violence between adolescents brought to mind The Hunger Games. I understand the appeal, of course, but I’m happy to see the sequels solely on screen, with my niece serving as my guide to plot lines that I may not follow. 

Here’s the trailer for Divergent:

 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

If you haven’t read the book already, then there’s nothing I can tell you about it. I knew that there was a halfway plot twist but I didn’t know what the twist was. Briefly, all that I can tell you about the book is this: 

On Nick and Amy’s 5th wedding anniversary, Amy goes missing. Nick is the prime suspect – because, almost always, it’s the husband that did it. The book is narrated alternately by Nick, and Amy’s diary entries. 

Now that I know the twists and the endings, I can safely say – please read the book if you haven’t already!

The film is out in October. The trailer is brilliant, as is the casting for the movie:

 

Right now I’ve started on The Silkworm, written by Robert Gilbraith aka JK Rowling. So far, all I can say is, JKR is JKR. She hasn’t lost her touch, or her sense of humour, or her writing skills, one teeny bit.

 

What have you been reading lately?

The Short Story Challenge

Well, so much for my weekly schedule! It’s been a month since I posted, and have only the usual excuses to offer – work and life. 

I am very happy to have my story “Pearls Mean Tears” published in the fabulous Tincture Journal – do grab a copy! There’s also a GoodReads link, and an author page for little ol’ me! Having my own author page on GoodReads tickles me no end. 

Note that my absence of blog posts does not translate to a void in my writing. I am pleased to report that I have got plenty of writing done. In a usual year, I get about 10k words of writing completed, and that’s an optimistic estimate, but this year I’ve managed that in the first two months alone. This is thanks in no small part to the Short Story Challenge – 12 of us have taken it upon ourselves to complete 1 short story every month this year. Our host Radhika Meghanathan calls it the 12×12 challenge, as we’re writing 12 stories in 12 months. By a lucky coincidence there’s 12 writers on the group too! 

I’ve learnt a lot by doing this challenge.

  1. It’s easier to complete a story than I think, especially once I’m into it about three hundred words or so.
  2. It’s easier to critique stories that are not your own, mostly also because you don’t have to go back and fix them! I do try my level best to give some suggestions, though.
  3. It becomes easier to spot mistakes in your own work, having critiqued someone else’s.
  4. It gets easier to know how to fix problems that creep up again and again.

Plot problems, incorrect words, abrupt endings – these and many such issues plague my stories. Of course, like all good writers, I diligently plough on, waiting to find that elusive gold at the end of the rainbow.

What have you been writing lately?