Kissing The Demon by Amrita Kumar | Book Review

If you have decided to embark on a writing journey, either professionally or as a hobby, you will soon realise it is a feat akin to kissing the demon. Fortunately though, Amrita Kumar, with the repertoire of her experiences spanning four decades, lays out a simple and effective method to traverse this seemingly arduous path.

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She starts from the absolute beginning – why one should write, for that is the most important question a writer must be able to answer. Not to anyone else but to the self.

Once that is established, she goes on to explain the integral elements of creative writing: plot, characterization, narration, setting, dialogue, that help form a compelling story. She explains with examples which are relevant to the aspiring as well as the seasoned writer. Kumar draws parallels from notable films as well as award winning and popular books to drive the point.

What is most important, however, that sets this book apart from almost all others on the subject of writing, is that she dedicates an entire section to the publishing process, specifically tailored for the Indian writer.

Starting from when, how and where to look for a publisher and/or agent, pitching your manuscript, waiting for a response, negotiating a contract, understanding advances & royalties, to the actual editing, and finally publicity/marketing, she brings focus to an otherwise blurry image that few debut writers can claim to have fully understood.

Last but not the least, she also helps with tips and tricks to manage the complicated balance of dealing with everyday life, and staying fit while indulging in an altogether sedentary writing habit.

You may choose to read this book before you start writing, or after you have written a first draft, nonetheless it has a wealth of information on both creative writing and publishing that you would otherwise rarely come across. One you cannot afford to miss.

Title: Kissing The Demon
Author: Amrita Kumar
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers India
ISBN: 978-93-5264-303-5
Edition/Year: First Edition 2017
Format: Paperback
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 268
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 Stars

Available on Amazon.

About the Author: Amrita Kumar is an anthologist, novelist, writing-mentor and creative writing teacher. She began her career in the godowns of Daryaganj to select books for a chain of bookshops, moving on as research writer for the Department of Culture, Government of India, then on to publishing as associate editor, Penguin India; editor-in-chief, Roli Books; managing editor, Encyclopedia Britannica; editor, Indian Design & Interiors magazine; and vice-president, Osian’s Literary Agency. In addition, she has freelanced for Rupa & Co., HarperCollins India and Oxford University Press.
She lives in New Delhi.

Picture Source: aquamarineflavours.wordpress.com
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Profit & Loss | Visual Poetry

It has been a month since I started taking a creative writing class at the British Council. The modules cover various aspects of creative writing that include short stories, flash fiction, and also different forms of poetry.

While I have tried my hand at writing a few poems and Haikus, I don’t consider myself capable of writing poetry, except for a few rhyming lines I may have penned here and there.

Nevertheless, I was quite intrigued by a relatively newer form of poetry I was introduced to, called Visual Poetry.

Literary theorists have identified visual poetry as a development of concrete poetry but with the characteristics of intermedia in which non-representational language and visual elements predominate.

Academic Willard Bohn prefers to categorise the whole gamut of literary and artistic experiment in this area since the late 19th century under the label of Visual Poetry and has done so in a number of books since 1986. From his reductionist point of view, “Visual poetry can be defined as poetry that is meant to be seen – poetry that presupposes a viewer as well as a reader”.

As an optional exercise, we were given a few themes and asked to create a visual poem on any one of them.

The theme I picked was ‘A mountain peak’ and my visual poem looks like this:

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(If you can’t read my uneven handwriting, you can read it below:)

Profit and Loss
By Ashima Jain

He runs across the valley
And drops into a gorge,
Struggles to climb some hills,
Wondering how much more.
Then he sees a mountain,
Its peak – the place to be.
If only he can reach that height,
Of his shackles, he’d be free

What do you think of this? Do you see the theme in this graph? Let me know by sharing your feedback 🙂

Any writers reading this – Have you seen or written any visual poetry. I would love to see it. Do share in the comments below.

This post is participating in #MyFriendAlexa because I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter.

Picture Source: aquamarineflavours.wordpress.com

A Matter of Style | Short Story Winner for August 2017 Muse of the Month | Women’s Web

A Matter of Style - Ashima Jain (Muse of the Month - August 2017)

The August 2017 writing prompt for the Women’s Web Muse of the Month Writing Contest is from the Indian film – Angry Indian Goddesses:

Indian women are policed and shamed for their choices, whether it is the kind of clothes they wear, or other things they do – woe betide the woman who smokes! And this is not just in their homes in middle class societies – it is everywhere, even in case of supposedly ’empowered women’. What women want is freedom from this and be able to make their choices without being judged.

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via GIPHY

Inspired by this cue, I ended up writing a short story titled A Matter of Style that addresses a different view of the judgement on the clothes we wear. Interestingly, it has been selected as one of the top stories for this month’s contest.

To read the complete story, click here.

As always, I look forward to your feedback/comments. 🙂

Picture courtesy: womensweb.in
Media Courtesy: giphy.com

The Accidental Artist | Winner | Memories from Books Contest

Just like the surprise showers that brought some respite from the scorching May sun, I received some delightful news last evening.

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The Accidental Artist – A short story (flash fiction) I wrote for Readomania’s Memories from Books contest – was adjudged the Second Prize winner.

The cue for this contest was to write a fictional story, inspired from real life incidents, about your dearest memory with a book.

The Accidental Artist weaves a fictional story around my earliest memories with my favourite book. To this day, I vividly remember sitting by my mother’s side as she read it out to me.

To find out more about this book and be a part of my experience, follow the link to read this story – The Accidental Artist.

Don’t hesitate to share your own stories around your favourite books so we can relive some wonderful memories together 🙂

Image courtesy: Google Images.

A Day in Early Spring |Telegram Magazine | February 2017

Here is a magazine that has gained quite a following among writers since its launch in July last year. A literary magazine, Telegram aims to rekindle the flames of quality Indian fiction. They are a monthly journal of short stories, essays, book reviews, poems and much more. As the literary magazine culture disappears from the country’s newsstands, coffee houses and bookstores, it leaves a gaping hole for the discerning reader. Telegram hopes to cause a ripple in the direction of good stories, fiction and essays.

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Out with their eighth issue this month, the magazine includes a short story written by me for their February theme: Shades of Love.

Even though global warming and climate change have impacted our weather cycles, the month of February can’t help but evoke a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Add to that, Valentine’s Day bombards everyone’s timelines and love dominate our feeds, from which there is no escape.

A Day in Early Spring celebrates just one such love story where the fragrance of soon-to-arrive spring, coupled with the blissfulness of love, is enough to wrap you in its enigma.

The issue is now live on Magzter.com, the world’s largest and fastest growing cross-platform global digital magazine newsstand.

Click here, to read it online or download to your Android/iPad/iPhone device, and revel in its ode to love.

Image Courtesy – Telegram Magazine

A Step Out of the Box | Winner for February 2017 Muse of the Month on Women’s Web

As those of you following my writing are aware, Women’s Web runs a monthly contest on its website, based on a writing prompt.

In 2016, these writing prompts were either a direct quote from the featured author of the month, or a quote from one of their published works.

In 2017, Women’s Web introduced a new Muse of the Month series, one with a contemporary twist. Instead of selecting a quote or phrase from a book, the cue is a feminist GIF/video clip from a movie – either Bollywood or Hollywood.

For February 2017, the writing cue was a scene from the film Piku, where Piku confirms that if her friend wants to marry her, her 90 year old father comes along with her.

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via GIPHY

My entry for this month, based on the above cue, is titled ‘A Step Out of the Box’. It discusses the dilemma a married woman faces, in providing care for her ageing father who is living alone, away from his children. The story touches upon a concept that is still alien, but calls for attention in today’s times to bring a progressive change in our society.

To read the complete story, click on the Facebook post below.

Media Courtesy: giphy.com

Following Rules – Short Story on Readomania

Here is another short story, which was written in the genre of humour/satire, sometime last year. It received a very special mention for the quality of writing and has now been published on the Readomania website.

Following Rules is a humourous take on how we, as a society, tend to complain about issues which, in fact, may have been created by us.

Pratichi considers herself to be a responsible driver who stays within the confines of road and traffic rules. She is also a bit a feminist, and believes women drivers are unnecessarily given a bad name.

So how does she manage when she is running terribly late on one of the most important days of her life? Can she stick to the rules while all the rule breakers zip past her? Or will she succumb to the pressures of traffic.

Find out more by reading the full story at Readomania.com.

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If you have any such crazy traffic experiences to share; they could be yours or someone else’s; tell me, so we can all have a hearty laugh together. 🙂

Image courtesy: Google Images.

Book Announcement – Kunti’s Confessions and Other Short Stories

The year 2017 could not have started on a sweeter note for me. Earlier this month, Women’s Web announced a book containing short stories that represent the very best of short fiction published on their website in 2016. I am honoured and thrilled that this book includes a short story written by me.

Kunti’s Confessions and Other Short Stories, was launched on 7th January 2017 at the Orange Flower Awards in Bangalore.

Drawing inspiration from leading contemporary female authors in India today, including Anuja Chauhan, Anita Nair, Jaishree Misra, Jhumpa Lahiri and Namita Gokhale, every month readers of Women’s Web send in their own short fiction based on a writing cue from a novel by one such author.

Fifteen of these short stories have found their way into this book and they reflect some of the quiet joys as well as deepest fears of Indian women today.

My story, Personal Effects was selected as a winning entry for their December Muse of the Month Writing Contest and I have received wonderful reviews for it from the Women’s Web community of readers, and friends. No doubt, it comes as a wonderful surprise that it is included in this publication.

The book is now available for purchase on Amazon (as ebook) and Pothi (paperback).

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I am positive you will enjoy reading this as each of these stories emerge from the reality of women’s lives today and will therefore, resonate with all of you.

Don’t forget to leave your feedback on Amazon and Goodreads.

Image Courtesy – Women’s Web

Time to Smell the Flowers | #ILoveMyWork | Writersmelon

Back in November 2016, Writersmelon gave a writing prompt and asked to spin a little story around it.

The prompt was #ILoveMyWork and the idea was to write about the work you do, the work you’d love to do or whether the work that you’re doing is what you love.

An hour before the deadline, a limerick popped in my head which I recalled from something I wrote about a year ago. I thought it would make for an interesting insight into the work I did before and what I did now.

So I added about 150 words to it, just to make it worth its literary weight (in the literal sense), and sent it off as a laugh.

No wonder it came as a surprise when it got selected in the Top 10 entries.

Read it here: Time To Smell The Flowers. I am sure many of you will relate to it.

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Image Source: Stock Image from Dreamstime.com as also used on Writersmelon.com

Personal Effects | Short Story Winner | December 2016 Muse of the Month | Women’s Web

I am not sure exactly how I happened to stumble upon the idea behind this story. I do remember though, that I had been working on another piece of short fiction when the phrase ‘Personal Effects’ popped into my head. I knew right then that I wanted to use this.

I kept playing with it for a few days, unsure of the direction to take it in, until I read the December 2016 theme for Women’s Web Muse of the Month.

It was a line from the book, Shakuntala: The Play of Memory, written by Namita Gokhale – “There is love and understanding in this knowledge. There is sorrow.”

Suddenly, the story began to take shape and all the pieces fell into place.

Without a doubt, I am elated that ‘Personal Effects’ has been selected a winner for this month’s theme by Namita Gokhale, Founder director of the Jaipur Literature Festival and an author known for her adaptations of classical myths and literature.

You may follow the Facebook link as shown above to read the complete story.

Don’t forget to leave your comments on it. Your feedback will go a long way in helping me improve myself. 🙂