Lit Journals

Market Spotlight: Ilanot Review

In 2017, I had written a story in epistolary form as part of a prompt. Once I’d revised it to my satisfaction, I searched for markets and came across Ilanot Review, a journal from Israel!

Their call for submissions mentioned a ‘Letters’ theme for their upcoming issue. It excited me to find a market that looked a perfect fit, but to be sure I scouted their archives and read a few of the stories and essays available online.

After due diligence, I submitted my story ‘Perils in the Post’. I was quite excited about this story, because it was my first story in letters and also my first story not based in the modern era.

The acceptance mail arrived quite quickly, within a week. I went back-and-forth for edits with the editors as usual. After a few days, things were all set and ready to go. The changes had greatly improved my story, and three months later the issue was published online. You can read my story here.

This is not a paying journal. The quality of stories is quite good and enjoyable.

Fortunately, their submissions window is currently open, until 15th December for their winter issue themed ‘Home/Work’. If you have anything that suits the theme, be sure to send it across right away!

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!

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!

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.

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

Rules of Writing

In a bid to improve my writing, I soak up tons of blog posts and articles online hoping that they contain tiny little nuggets of advice that will prove useful for me. Let’s be frank – not just prove useful, I hope they’ll transform my writing and turn me into a Booker-winning author. Perhaps that’s just a teeny bit too ambitious, but a girl can dream, right?

Websites like Brain Pickings, The Guardian, Aerogramme Writers Studio routinely run a series of these compilations of tips from various bestselling authors. I’ve amassed a whole collection of them!

First learn the rules then break them

Check the resources below and let me know your favourites!

Rules of Writing from 35 writers

Elmore Leonard’s advice to writers

George Orwell’s tips for Effective Writing

Joyce Carol Oates’ 10 tips on Writing

Jonathan Franzen’s 10 rules for writing fiction

PD James’ 5 bits of writing advice

Hilary Mantel’s Ten Rules for Writing Fiction

Michael Moorcock’s Ten Tips for Good Storytelling

John Steinbeck’s Writing Tips

Michael Morpurgo’s Rules for Writers

Sarah Waters’ Rules for Writers

Zadie Smith’s Ten Golden Rules for Writers

The tips in Roddy Doyles Rules for Writers make sound sense:

1 Do not place a photograph of your ­favourite author on your desk, especially if the author is one of the famous ones who committed suicide.

9 Do not search amazon.co.uk for the book you haven’t written yet.

I like this one the best for the utter simplicity of the rules:

Neil Gaiman’s Eight Rules of Writing

Do you have any tips or rules that you always follow? Which is your favourite set of rules? And who’s the writer whose tips have helped you the most?

My Writing

The Mantoux Test

A few years ago, a sudden health scare drove me to the hospital for a couple of medical tests like an MRI and another to detect for TB. All came back negative and nothing worrying, but it did spark a story idea for me.

If a man suspected his wife of cheating on man, who could he approach to help solve his troubles? In my story he consults a godman, who suggests a slightly unconventional approach to detecting the wife’s infidelity.

The story I wrote called ‘The Mantoux Test’ was accepted for publication last year in the Transmundane Press’ Transcendent anthology.

Transmundane Press’ Transcendent Anthology

Click here to read an excerpt!

This post tells the ‘story behind the story’.

And here’s my interview with The Transmundane Press.

Do let me know what you think of the excerpt! If you’ve published anything recently, feel free to drop a link in the comments below!