News and Updates

In the beginning of 2012, shortly after attending a writing workshop with the fabulous Anil Menon, I revised a story that had been critiqued at the workshop and sent it out to one of my favourite literary magazines – Bartleby Snopes. Within a day I received an acceptance together with some editorial suggestions.

That story was Social Not-working, centered on the perils of social media. The story also made it to their Best of collection for the year.

Bartleby Snopes recently started a series of interviews with former contributors who have books out. I am pleased to share that my interview with Bartleby Snopes is up on their blog. Check it out and tell me what you think!

Also my guest post on The Short Story Challenge is featured on India’s largest book review site Do pop over and take a look. If you’re ever thinking of starting a challenge like ours then the post will prove quite helpful.

In other exciting news, I am pleased to share that I am part of a new anthology that’s scheduled to launch on 30th April – Only Trollops Shave above the Knee! We have all learnt so much from our mothers, so what could more fitting than a tribute to them for Mother’s Day!


What I learnt from my mother Anthology

Only Trollops Shave above the Knee

Apart from all the news, life chugs along as usual. I am reading a little (finished TFIOS – The Fault in Our Stars and loved it!), writing more than I read, and submitting and acquiring tower-high piles of rejection slips, with a few acceptances sprinkled here and there for garnishing.


Tell me, everyone – what’s all the hot news with you?

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

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?

Writing @ the Speed of Thought

My article 5 Tips to Refine Your Short Story is up on If you’re writing a story, do check it out and share it with fellow writers!

This last week I’ve been ruminating on the speed of writing. Alexander McCall Smith mentioned in an interview that he writes at the rate of a thousand words per hour. How wonderful it would be to possess his writing speed! Sentences reeking of beauty seem to spill out of his magic fingers. He even manages to set a scene and convey atmosphere or even posit a nugget of keen human observation. This is no easy task, for this is 1000 words of fiction we are talking about. Even for a person writing fiction for many years this sounds prolific. I suppose the speed and efficiency improves with regular practice, but getting to that stage is a long way away for me.

I can write 500 words of a memory or writing practice easily enough. In fact if you asked me to write a thousand words about an incident of my youth or even what happened yesterday, I’d surpass that speed in minutes. But ask me to spin a yarn and I’d be left stumbling all over the place like a drunkard. No words of beauty or keen analysis in my passages – you would be hard-pressed to locate entire sentences that made sense of their own accord without the supporting structure of the sentences around it.

I suppose I could write that much fiction that fast only if I had planned it beforehand. If the idea comes fully-formed in my head I can just write it out in one sitting, as it occasionally happens. But this is the equivalent of waiting for lightning to strike, not a useful quality for one who aspires to regularly write and publish fiction.

One way is to maintain a tracker to note the number of words you write daily and the time that you write it. This is useful for two purposes. Firstly after you have accumulated a month’s worth of data, you can derive a daily average and aim for this as the minimum you should write every day.

The second purpose is to analyze the timings to find out when is your most productive time. I have maintained a tracker only for a couple of months, but it has confirmed what I already know – weekend afternoons are likely to be the best times for me to spin fiction.

The writer Rachel Aaron has a useful blog post, which turned out to be popular enough that she wrote a book which is now available as a Kindle eBook on Amazon!

I’m not sure how long I will continue with a tracker, nor am I positive that with regular writing and tracking I will ever attain the pace of Alexander McCall Smith, but I can always hope, can’t I?

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?

Re-kindling my love for Reading

Since I last posted, I’ve enjoyed two writing successes:

  1. My story The Facebook Identity placed in Words with Jam’s Genre Spoof contest.
  2. My vignette ‘Singapore City’ was chosen for the Best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal 2014 collection.


These two successes have proved bright lights on a path littered with rejection notes!


Over the last five years, the publishing landscape has changed dramatically with the advent of the smartphone and e-readers like the Kindle. Whenever Nathan Bransford ran his poll, I’d silently vote for the option ‘you can pry my paper books out of my cold dead hands’. Between the library and online retailers offering huge discounts, I didn’t think I’d ever move away from print books.


This year, however, I’ve done most of my reading on my smartphone using the Kindle App. I can’t be thankful enough for this device that has lit up my lunch and snack breaks in office!


Some amazing e-books I’ve read this year:


Lost for Words by Edward St. Aubyn

I’d read quite a few reviews of this book which aroused my curiosity. It is a satire centered on the Elysian Literary Prize, based apparently on the Man Booker prize. Critics disliked it, but I found it extremely funny, and though I hadn’t read any books by this author earlier, I’ve added the Patrick Melrose novels to my TBR list.


The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini

Many years ago I’d seen the movie based on this book, and found it quite touching. I came across it while browsing titles on the Kindle Store and purchased it immediately.

This is a beautiful novel, with simple but lyrical prose that touches the heart.


Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom by Amy Chua

They say if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. If that wasn’t the case then I might have written a separate blog post on this book alone.

The way Amy Chua obsesses about her parenting style, it sounds as if her children have discovered a solution to world peace or invented a viable alternative source of fuel.

Reading this book, I discovered that I’m almost a ‘Western parent’, one who gives their children freedom of choice and doesn’t force the kids to do something they don’t want to. Of course, some tenets of Asian-style parenting are common and ingrained in me –being respectful of parents, aiming for first place in studies etc. But forcing a ten-year-old to practice the piano for three hours straight without a bathroom break? No thank you. I’m happy to forego such madness, even if it means I or my child won’t ever perform at Carnegie Hall.


14 Stories that Inspired Satyajit Ray by Bhaskar Chattopadhyay

Satyajit Ray, who received an Academy Honorary Award in 1992 while on his deathbed, made many films from short stories and novels, but he imbued each film with his own touch even without straying too far from the original storyline. This book contains 14 of the stories that inspired the great director’s movies, and though I’d read many of them before, it was a delight to return to them again.


Also, do take a look at these helpful blog posts I came across recently:

A list of reasons for writers to be thankful

If you’re writing short stories, polish them and send to Short Story Competitions 2015

How to write 1000 words a day every day



Any interesting books/articles you’ve read recently?

Stories to Write

First off, if you want to know what software programmers really do at work, take a look at my Poetic Cyber-war published in the recent edition of Work Literary Magazine!

On the writing front, I’ve been exploring some experimental writing these last few months. You know how writing prompts and exercises push you to attempt different forms? Here’s my list of the kinds of stories I want to write:

  1. List form
  2. Epistolary story
  3. Second person story
  4. Diary entry
  5. News items
  6. First person plural
  7. Chats, tweets or blog-posts

There are other kinds, of course, like prose poetry or dialogue-only stories, but the seven above are the ones I feel most comfortable about trying out.

Each form, I believe, serves a different purpose. The content should be appropriate to and suited to the form, and the form should not be a gimmick. If it is, the reader can easily figure it out and there won’t be any pleasure in either the reading or the writing of such a story.

Each form warrants a certain kind of story, or a certain kind of protagonist. I cannot think of taking any of my stories and rewriting them in one of the ways given above. It simply wouldn’t suit. So instead, I trawl my trove of ideas to find one that will suit the form and make the story come alive.

Of all the above, I have tried a list-type story last month, which went in as my September entry for the Short Story Challenge. I’ve also tried a story written in first-person plural, as in ‘we did this’ and ‘we did that’. For a fabulous example of how to pull this off, please read Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris.

To get these stories working and in publishable shape requires more effort than traditional stories, but I think its worth it just to stretch that creative muscle. Even if its not good enough to be published, it counts as valuable writing practice and a great opportunity to learn what works and what doesn’t, and also to help us writers identify strengths and weaknesses.

Have you tried any experimental stories? Can you think of any other experimental forms to add to the list above?

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