Are you part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group? #IWSG #amwriting

Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for organizing and hosting the Insecure Writer’s Support Group every month! Go to the site to see the other participants.


Insecure Writer's Support Group

Insecure Writers!

I had dropped out of this group, because I could never remember to post on the right dates, and was on hiatus for a while– but so many of my blog-friends are on it, I have always read the IWSG posts.

The premise of the group is simple– we writers can be an insecure bunch, we need all the support we can get and who best to support us than our fellow-writers?

The avowed purpose is:

To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

I’ve signed on again, and have scheduled drafts for the rest of 2015, so I don’t forget. If you’re a writer, I strongly encourage you to join this group, as well as their Facebook page.

You’ll find all kinds of advice ( they even have a free book of excellent advice), commiseration, encouragement, and you’ll make some excellent friends! Alex, the founder of this group, has been a good blogging friend for years– and being the Ninja Cap’n, he knows a ton about writing, blogging, bloggers who write, and writers who blog.


Not a writer, but know someone who is? Are they insecure about their writing? If you’re a writer, do you feel the need for a safe place to vent, recuperate, seek advice? Are you part of the  Insecure Writers’ Support Group? If yes, what has been your best experience about this group and why would you recommend it? (I really would like to hear from those whom Insecure Writers’ Support Group has helped over the years!

In the spirit of bonding with writers, here’s another event you could take part in: involves posting an excerpt from your work, or from a book you’ve read: the Spectacular Settings Challenge.

If you haven’t yet joined the Damyanti at Daily write Facebook page, please do. Hope to see you there to join in the fun!

Do You Read more Men or Women #Authors ? #amreading #books

Woman in Silhoutte Publishing Sunday Morning Thoughts

Women in Publishing

Back on familiar ground after my personal blog issues last month, to Reading and Books. My favorite topic in the world..

For as long as I remember, I’ve never bothered about the gender of the authors I’ve read. Been the sort of reader who’s completely un-curious about authors’ personal lives. Writing fiction, as far as I’m concerned, has nothing to do with gender, and I don’t care what V.S. Naipaul had to say on the topic.

But then I read articles like this one, by noted author Kamila Shamsie, in the Guardian:

As a snapshot, let’s look at the Man Booker prize over the last five years. Ever since the women’s prize for fiction – formerly the Orange, now the Baileys – was set up 20 years ago in response to an all–male Booker shortlist, the Booker has been the prize to which the most attention is paid in gender terms, and the question of the prize’s judges and gender came up last year when only three women were on a longlist of 13. In response, one of the judges Sarah Churchwell said: “We read what publishers submit to us … [If] publishers only submit a fraction of women, then that is a function of systemic institutional sexism in our culture.” So I asked the Booker administrators how many of the books submitted in the last five years have been written by women. The answer was, slightly under 40%. This isn’t an issue around the Booker alone. I’ve been uncomfortable with the imbalance between male and female writers in terms of the books that get submitted for prizes that I’m judging on a number of occasions.

So these days, I try to be more aware of the gender of the authors I’m reading. I don’t read much narrative non-fiction, but that’s going to change in the rest of this year. I will consciously try to pick the 9 fiction and non-fiction authors I haven’t read from Powell’s list of 25 women to read before you die.

Looking through the list of authors I’ve read, I find that in my childhood I read mostly men, because those were most of the classics, other than a few like Alcott, Austen, Elliott, Mary Shelley etc. As I grew up, I had access to more books by women, but on the whole, I think I’ve read more men than women, and I’d rather redress that balance. Have started with Eimear McBride and A. M. Homes this week.

Would welcome suggestions from you: literary, contemporary, crime and fantasy by women authors, as well as short story collections. These are the fiction categories that interest me the most these days. Also open to some narrative non-fiction– it’s a segment I’d like to read more of.

And I would like to know:

Does the gender of the author matter to you when you pick a book to read? Please qualify that with the genre you read: romance or scifi or crime or literary etc. Does writing fiction have anything to do with gender? Do you know if you’ve read more books by women than men? What books by women would you recommend to me and all the readers of this blog?

If you’re reading this, do not have a blog, and want to join the discussion, head over to Daily (w)rite’s Facebook page and the thread on gender bias in writing and publishing.

Want to know more about New Asian #writing ?

As part of my ongoing guest post series in this blog, David LaBounty from The First Line Magazine recently answered questions on writing.  Today I’m pleased to welcome Jane Camens, who co-edited the recently released New Asia Now edition of Griffith Review, Australia’s leading literary magazine.

I’ve asked her questions related to her role as an editor, and also as the co-founder of Asia Pacific Writers and Translators (APWT). In the comments, you can add questions of your own, and she might drop by to respond.

rGriffith Review: New Asia Now

Griffith Review: New Asia Now

1. What drives the Griffith Review Magazine? Can you tell us about the New Asia Now edition?

Griffith Review is renowned for the quality of the writing it runs, both non fiction and fiction, featuring writers and subjects ahead of the wave in Australia. Its readership includes many policy makers, which makes it an influential publication that can move opinion.

I was invited to co-edit the New Asia Now issue both to help introduce new writing from Asia to Australian readers and to continue a literary dialogue of engagement with the many countries in our region. The founding editor, Julianne Schultz, and I both believe that Australia’s future is tied inextricably to Asia.

2. What do you look for in a story you accept for publication?

I speak only for the New Asia Now issue. First, I want to say that we received a lot of quality writing from around the region, much of which we couldn’t use in this issue because we sought a balance in the number of pieces we ran from different countries. We sought to represent voices from almost every country in the region because in every nation there are writers whose work connects universally. In all the many strong essays we’ve chosen, we have looked for quality writing that sheds new light on understanding a country, and sometimes Australia’s engagement with that country.

3. What tips would you give unpublished writers who are trying to get their first story published in a magazine?

In every issue of Griffith Review, the editors look for essays that are well researched and raise the level of debate on issues. For the fiction, just great writing of the moment, perhaps dealing with a contemporary concern, is most likely to catch the attention of the fiction editor.

4.  You are the co-founder and executive director of APWT. Tell us more about the organization, and why writers need to be part of it.

Asia Pacific Writers and Translators  was started to bring writing mentors, publishers and agents together with emerging writers in the region, after a model I’d worked with in the UK in 2004. At that time there were few opportunities for emerging writers in most Asian countries to make direct contact with established writers and Western publishers so APWT began to hold annual events (‘conferences’) around the region. The concept also aimed to inspire more universities in Asia to include creative writing as a subject with their curricula, and this has happened in some small degree.

5. What sort of events does APWT organise?

APWT’s events around the region rely on invitations from host organizations which provide venues and catering. We put together a program and promote the event to our members and friends who, coupled with our social media presence, now exceed 5,000 individuals around the world. APWT is an inclusive association and welcomes everyone interested in writing from our region. We also run a magazine, the Leap Plus.

APWT’s next conference, in October this year, is in Manila. The Association doesn’t have a funder-backer so we rely on everyone wanting to join the events to find their own funding. This year we’ll promote the New Asia Now issue of Griffith Review at the Manila gathering.

5. Could you talk to us about your impressions of English fiction writing in Asia?

This question is rather too general, because in all cases writing is about individuals, not nations. The reason APWT now includes literary translators, not just writers (the organization was originally called just AP Writers) is because I strongly believe that there’s no point trying to write a great work in English if English is not your mother tongue. We need great translators as well as wonderful writers in every language. I’d rather see good writing translated (well) than seek writing only from writers fluent in English. Of course we’re seeing good writing originating in English from those countries where English is learned early. It’s sometimes useful to have an outsider’s eye, even if the outsider is from within a culture. Writers everywhere tend to stand a little outside.


I’ve loved the editions of Griffith Review I’ve read before, and would encourage you to pick up a copy. The New Asia Now edition carries insightful features, essays, poetry and fiction which give voice to emerging Asia. Volume 2 of this edition is available exclusively as an eBook: download it here.


Jane Camens: Author, editor

Jane Camens: Author, editor

Jane Camens founded Hong Kong’s international literary festival in 2001, with Sri Lankan writer Nury Vittachi. After completing an MFA in Writing at Vermont College in the USA, and receiving an MA at the University of East Anglia, UK, she returned to Australia and founded the Asia Pacific New Writing Partnership, an international collaboration of universities, literary organizations and others interested in supporting new writing from the region. Jane won the 2010 Fish Publishing Short Story Prize.

Have you read the Griffith Review? Interested in writing from Asia? What do you think about work in English and translated works– do you think enough fiction in other languages is being translated into English today? Do you have questions for Jane Camens?

If you’re reading this, do not have a blog, and want to join the discussion, head over to Daily (w)rite’s Facebook page!

#Blogging Question: Do You Drop Your Blog Links in Your Comments?

Donatella Versace Sunday Morning thoughts

Do You respond to all comments?

The Cherished Blogfest wrapped up last weekend, and I now feel a little lost.

I renewed lots of friendships, and made a few new friends despite not doing such a great job of the challenge myself. Finally wrapped up visiting all blogs on Monday, and who knows, I may have missed a few. I’ll be combing through the linky list again– it shall remain live for the next few months.

I did feel annoyed with something though: a lot of bloggers decided to leave their post links in my Cherished post comment thread.

Bloggers do this often, and I delete the links while making the following exceptions:

1. The link takes me somewhere relevant to my post, or the ensuing discussion (I’m ok with including links to posts the commenter has made on the same topic– but not during a blogfest– everyone’s posting on the same topic.)

2. The bloggers’ gravatars don’t lead to their blogs, and the only way to visit them is to click on the link. This is fine, I think– it lets us connect across blogging platforms.

I look at it this way: if a gravatar links back to a blogger, that second link is not necessary. If everyone has just one link to their blog in my comment thread, why should certain bloggers have more, just because they decided to add another link?

I don’t care if a link takes a reader away from my blog, as long as the link is relevant to the discussion (see pt 1 above). I’m not into blogging for the hits– more of a fan of chats and friendships.

Don’t like the idea of some commenters snagging that extra link to their blogs, that’s it. The link doesn’t offend me, I just delete it as a matter of principle: all visitors to this space shall be treated equal.

Another thing. I’ve spoken about this before: I DO NOT like Blog Awards. Not Versatile, Not Liebster, not Inspirational or Creative or what-have-you. I find them a waste of time: something like chain mail, only on blogs. I still receive 2-3 awards a month, and this despite my No Award Acceptance policy on this blog. I delete all award links.

Do you think my deletion of links too harsh? Should I let them be? I’ve asked for opinions on my blog comments policy ( and now I try to respond to comments, though I don’t always get to all of them) and the no award acceptance policy (which most of my audience seemed to agree with). Now I need to hear your opinion on links in comments.

What do You do on your blog? Do you feel offended if a blogger leaves links in your comments section? Do you delete links– which ones? Do you have commenting tips for me? Do you leave links at blogs you comment on? What do you have in mind when you do so?


What is your #Cherished Object? #Blogfest #blogging

At Daily (w)rite, I stick to discussions, opinion, travel, writing.

While I’m always myself, it is a redacted my-self on this blog. But in the interests of remaining honest, I have to step into a new territory today. The personal.

This is because a month back, I suggested and got involved with hosting the Cherished Blogfest: along with Dan Antion , Paul Ruddock, Peter Nena, Sharukh Bamboat, I invite you to talk about an object you cherish, and why. I tried to talk about other things, but the object that surfaced and wouldn’t be denied, is here now. As a writer, I’m used to being vulnerable, but I can always hide behind the guise of fiction. No such curtains in this post.

It is a photograph. Very simple, and as photographs go, not well-framed. It shows me and a bunch of schoolmates, back when I was fourteen or fifteen, maybe younger. That girl with those two ridiculous pigtails, in a blue sweater, scarf tied around her neck, is me.

Memories on a Sunday Morning

Cherished Object: Memories

But what makes me cherish the photo, despite the bad lighting, despite forgetting the names of some of the girls, losing touch with others (which gives me a pang sometimes), is the girl who sits right beside me.

We’ll call her D, this smiling girl, her white collar uniform shirt buttoned high, one of my two best friends from my schooldays. We sat on the same bench each year of school, shared our food, notes, jokes, secrets, lives.

A few years after this photograph was taken, after I’d finished college and joined an institute, I went home for the summer and discovered why D hadn’t answered my letters, the birthday cards, in a while. This was a time in India when we still didn’t carry cellphones, when long distance calls remained out of reach for a penniless student. Letters were still relevant.

D never wrote long letters, how are you, I’m doing well, school’s good. She was studying to be a doctor. I tossed all her letters, but I liked receiving them, and knowing she was well. I was going to meet her that summer, like all the summers before.

She had strangled herself, just taken a long cloth and swung it from the ceiling fan, when her parents were out for a dinner. She’d sent her little brother out on an errand. She’d known I wasn’t around, had gone and met my parents and chatted with them over tea and snacks, a week before she killed herself. My parents didn’t have the courage to tell me when I was far from home.

Decades later, I don’t have her letters, or the cards she made me for my birthday or new year. Youth is so careless. Everything seems like it would last forever: friendships, lives, happiness.

This photograph is the only one I have of her in an informal setting, at a school picnic one random winter at some dam or park or resort. This snapshot,  with the containers of food our moms had lovingly packed, a teacher, the girls, some of whom remain friends on Facebook, some I’ve lost touch with, and D.

Stupid D, who always topped the class, the school, the brightest of us lot, who couldn’t take the insult of being failed by a teacher for the first time at medical school, stupid, stupid girl, young, too young and clueless–who thought grades mattered enough to end her life–and change the lives of so many: her parents, her friends, everyone who knew her.

I’ve stared at this photo in the past years, and imagined her growing up, growing older, falling in love, getting married, becoming a mother.

But there she sits, a teenager on a sunny afternoon, surrounded by classmates, ‘tiffins’ full of food, steel dinner plates (in the days before the scourge of plastic and thermocol), a skinny street dog behind her (photobomb, right there) and that confident half-smirk-smile she always wore. And there I am, by her side, unknowing that one day, this photograph would be all I’d have of her, as I sit at my table, writing.


Cherished Blogfest

Cherished Blogfest

Are you taking part in the Cherished Blogfest? If you are, this weekend (24-26 July) please post about your cherished object, and visit others on this LINKY LIST. Share on all social media with the hashtag #CHERISHED. If you haven’t signed up yet, you still can, the linky list is open for two more days. What is an object you cherish? What sort of memories does it bring back? Would you like to write about this object?

If you’re reading this, do not have a blog, and want to join the discussion on short stories, head over to Daily (w)rite’s Facebook page!

What Questions would You ask the Editor of a Literary Magazine? #writing #fiction

Call for submissions First Line Magazine

The First Line Magazine

As part of my ongoing guest post series in this blog, Elaine Chiew recently answered questions on writing.  Today I’m pleased to welcome David LaBounty from The First Line Magazine.

The First Line Magazine’s motto is as simple as it is commendable:

 The purpose of The First Line is to jump start the imagination–to help writers break through the block that is the blank page. Each issue contains short stories that stem from a common first line; it also provides a forum for discussing favorite first lines in literature. The First Line is an exercise in creativity for writers and a chance for readers to see how many different directions we can take when we start from the same place.

Feel free to leave your questions for David LaBounty in the comments section, and he might stop by to answer them.


1. What drives The First Line Magazine? What are your plans for its future?

I used to say we started TFL to stave off middle-class malaise, but now I’ve come to look at it as a source of cheap entertainment. I want to create an enjoyable collection of stories, so that when I go back and look at an issue in the future (be it five months or five years), I’ll still be proud to have paid for those stories.

Our plans for the future are simply to keep on keepin’ on.

  2. What do you look for in a story you accept for publication?

Something that makes me forget I am an editor reading a submission. Stories that can do that almost always find their way into TFL. However, I am also on the lookout for diamonds in the rough – stories that sparkle, but need a little polish to make perfect.

  3. What would you like to see more of in the submissions to your magazine, and what would you like to see less?

I completely understand when editors spell out types of submissions they don’t like to see, but it seems so limiting. (How do you really know what you want until you read it?) I’ll give an example: I can usually tell when someone has tacked our first line onto one of their existing stories, which, in the early days, annoyed me. But then I read a wonderful story that was in no way inspired by our first line. I called the writer on it, and he sheepishly admitted to the crime. Then I took his story and started a new literary journal with it.

We only have two rules: start your story with our first line and don’t change it in any way. Beyond that I am open to anything. Even stories I would never publish can be entertaining for me to read for other reasons.

A Character's Writer's Block?

Publishing Stories in a Literary Magazine

4. What tips would you give unpublished writers who are trying to get their first story published in a magazine?

Edit twice, submit once. Repeat (if rejected).

5.    Name 5 short stories that are your absolute favorite.

Stories I liked years ago, may or may not hold the same place in my heart today, and some I hated in my youth, speak to me now. Someone once asked me what my favorite song was of a band I love, and I answered: “The next one I hear.” My favorite short story is the one I read next that moves me.

6.    What was the last book/s you read? Would you recommend it to Daily (w)rite’s readers? Why or why not?

My book reading is just as eccentric as my short story tastes: plays, old Star Trek novels, baseball biographies, working-class mysteries – I also review books, so I am always receiving potential bestsellers to pass judgement on. I’ve recently, returned to my zining roots. There’s an unpolished passion in zining that still speaks to me, and I spend too much time swimming in hand-copied, saddle-stitched ephemera. I hesitate to make reading recommendations, unless I really know the person.

7.    What is your comment on the future of literary short stories and novels?

As long as people have the itch to write, and I don’t think that will ever go away, we’ll have plenty of short stories and novels to read. Who will read them? I have no idea.


David published my story in the last issue, and we spent a few emails back and forth discussing changes. It was one of the best editorial collaborations I’ve ever had– David’s suggestions were insightful, and he was very open to new changes I made, always able to see the vision of the story. I’ve read the other stories in the issue, all beginning with the same line. It was fascinating to see the directions in which various authors have taken the prompt: get yourself a copy to enjoy the different journeys.


The First Line Magazine submissions

David LaBounty

David LaBounty‘s name is attached to bad poetry, micro fiction, children’s stories and plays, and general interest articles for newspapers and magazines. He’s written stories for literary journals and essays for scholarly journals, and his book reviews have appeared in daily and weekly newspapers. When he isn’t filling zines with self-centered tripe, he edits and publishes Workers Write! and The First Line.

Dear readers, do you read literary magazines? Like short stories? Have you heard of The First Line Magazine? If you write, do you submit to literary magazines? Been published? Do you have questions for David LaBounty?
If you’re reading this, do not have a blog, and want to join the discussion on short stories, head over to Daily (w)rite’s Facebook page!

Why do #Food and #Fiction Mesh So Well Together? #writing #foodfiction

As part of my ongoing guest post series in this blog, we had David Bumpus from the Lunch Ticket Magazine answering questions last week. Today I’m pleased to welcome Elaine Chiew,  award-winning author, and editor of the Cooked Up  anthology.

This anthology includes stories from names like Ben Okri and Chitra Bannerjee Divakaruni, and is an absolutely delightful read, because it is all about Food, Food, and more Food. Food is one of my favorite topics– one of my pleasures in reading a book is finding the description of (an often unfamiliar, and sometimes only too familiar) food or a meal, and to languish in the deliciousness of it.

Feel free to leave your questions for Elaine in the comments section, and she might stop by to answer them.


Do you love Food Fiction?

Cooked Up: Food Fiction from around the World

1. Tell us about your writing journey. When and how did you start writing fiction?

In 2005, I began writing after I had my first child, probably due to an avalanche of maternal hormones (After years in the investment banking industry which sapped me of fellow feeling or the ability to feel anything, this rush was unexpectedly welcome).

2. What aspect of writing a short story do you find tough, and which one do you find easy? Why?   

Each aspect is an element in an organic whole, and thus, I find it depends on each story. In some stories, the voice comes immediately (Leng Lui for Pretty Lady) so it felt deceptively easy. In others, the ending takes awhile to come around (one that feels true to the story and its characters, what’s called “earned” — e.g. Run of the Molars.

3. What tips would you give unpublished writers who are trying to get their first story published?

Try online litmags but read them first (widely and frequently). Support the community.

4. Name any 5 short stories that are your absolute favorite.

This switches around, because when you reread at different points in your life, different things speak to you. If I were to teach a short story course though, I’d always include:

a. Lorrie Moore’s. People Like That Are The Only People Here.
b. Alice Munro’s Floating Bridge
c. Haruki Murakami’s The Ice Man
d. Raymond Carver’s A Small, Good Thing.
e. The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien

5. Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? What’s your recommended cure?

Two tried and true methods:
1. Work on something new. But make sure you come back to yr block.
2. Walk. Make tea. Cook. The mind does not stop working just because the fingers stop typing.

6. Tell us more about the anthology you edited: Cooked Up. Is there a target audience? Why do food and fiction mesh so well together?

Cooked Up is for anyone who loves food and anyone who loves short stories. People open up whenever there is talk about food. Food especially enhances story-telling. Food is so ever and omni-present in our lives, as is story-telling. We eat to live, but likewise, we tell stories in order not just to make sense of our world, but also to live.  We aren’t properly human unless we tell stories, from early cave-dwellers onwards.   No surprise either that a lot of people’s earliest memories are of food and of someone (possibly a parent/grandparent/relative/carer) telling them a story even as they are being fed.  I’m constantly amazed that even the most unapproachable or taciturn of humans smile and have something to say about their favourite foods, and the act of explaining why that is their favourite food is already a telling of a story.

7. How did you go about compiling the anthology? What did you have in mind when you chose the stories to go into the collection?

I solicited emerging literary talents whose work I admired (some of whom I’d interacted with on social media) and others whom I wrote to out of the blue (one, I chased up by attending an event he was speaking at and then pitching the anthology to him on the spot!) I was looking for stories where food as a theme is front and central (or highlighted its significance and cultural meaning), stories where food acted as trigger, signifier, enabler of story. But in the end, it had to be about the story. The story was paramount.


Editor: Cooked up: Food Fiction from around the world

Elaine Chiew: Editor, Author


Elaine Chiew is a London-based writer and her stories have won the Bridport Prize, been shortlisted in the BBC Opening Lines (2015), MsLexia (2014) and Fish Short Stories Competitions (2012), among others, and published in anthologies and literary magazines (most recently, in Unthology 7 (Unthank Books, 2015).

She is the editor and organiser of Cooked Up: Food Fiction From Around the World (New Internationalist, 2015).

Are you a foodie? Do you love food fiction? Any food-related short story or novel that resonated with you? Why do You think Food and Fiction might go well together? Why does food succeed in bridging barriers and forging connections? Want to share the recipe for a comfort food? (I admit to taking comfort in food when I’m stressed– would love a few recipes from around the world!)
If you’re reading this, do not have a blog, and want to join the discussion on food and stories, head over to Daily (w)rite’s Facebook page!
If you want more blog friendships, join our Cherished Blogfest— more than a 100 bloggers are taking part!