Would You Live like a Tree?

Be like a tree, humanitarian, community

Would you like to be  a tree?

I’ve been wondering about writing, life and fiction in the past few days.

Work-wise they have been tough. I’ve had to draw on the reserves of stillness within me, and let the ‘I’m a tree’ part take over.

Today I would like to ask you a question about the sort of person you see yourself as, or the sort of person you would like to be. I know I want to live like a tree, and I’m far away indeed from achieving it.

What about you? Would You live like a Tree?

If you have an opinion but don’t blog, please join the discussion on the Damyanti at Daily (w)rite Facebook Page!

What Settings in #Fiction have you never forgotten? #writing #reading

As part of my ongoing guest post series in this blog, we had Jane Camens , guest editor of Griffith Review: New Asia Now answering questions last week. Today I’m pleased to welcome authors Denise Covey and Yolanda Renée, who are here to talk about a wonderful event, an opportunity for all writers.

Their community, Write Edit Publish (WEP), is a great way for

Readers to find or talk about books they like,

and for

Authors to

  1. Post excerpts from their work (published or in-progress),
  2. (or) Write new flash fiction 
  3. Receive feedback (if they want to)
  4. Gain new readers.

Feel free to leave your questions for Denise and Yolanda in the comments section, and they might stop by to answer them. Take it away, Denise and Yolanda!


Fictional settings Blogfest

Memorable Settings in Fiction


What better place than the blogosphere to learn more about the writing craft? Yet nowhere could I find exactly what I was looking for, an online writing community that not only challenged my writing, but one where I could get instant feedback on my work, and therefore improve.

You know what they say…if it’s not there, invent it, so I took the plunge, contacted a favorite blogger friend, Francine Howarth, and RomanticFridayWriters (RFW) was born in 2011. We started weekly flash fiction challenges with a word limit of 400, then we upped it to 1,000 words. Francine eventually moved on to take the Regency Romance world by storm, so Donna Hole stepped into the breach. We then changed the romantic elements requirement and found a wider audience. RFW segued into WEP, opening up to more genres–added to flash fiction, non-fiction and poetry, we offered photography, art and playscripts. By now I was operating without a co-pilot which was no fun, so recently Yolanda Renee  agreed to become my new partner. Good choice. Yolanda is full of enthusiasm to see WEP take its place in the vibrant writing community, offering its unique blend of camaraderie, critique and challenge.


When I discovered the RFW’s website (now WEP) in 2012, I joined without hesitation. The opportunity to work on writing a short story and receive immediate feedback was exciting. I posted my first Flash and requested a full critique. I not only got the critique but my every question answered. This was ideal, and the opportunity to learn came not only through my writing but also by reading the work of others. I was hooked. I’ve used the work created for the challenges in my books, and I’ve re-written pieces as contest entries. The opportunities are endless and inspiring. This online community is a success story — many participants have gone on to publish multiple novels.

When Denise asked if I’d co-host, I agreed immediately. Flash fiction is an addiction, and this semi-monthly 1000-word challenge is the icing on the cake. If you’re considering taking the plunge, please do. You’ll be surprised by the quality of the writing, the variety of genres, the supportive feedback, and the networking opportunities made possible simply by participating in WEP.

Submissions are open for WEP’s latest challenge, Spectacular Settings: Click the link for the guidelines and to sign up. Mark Twain once said “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream.” And we will add…”Write!”


Denise Covey

Denise Covey

Denise Covey hails from Down Under, where she publishes short stories and travelogues. Approaching the finish line on her first novel and romance series, she is about to hit the NYT best-seller list. When not writing, she teaches English to her rapt students who think she’s way cool. She also has a wild imagination.

Yolanda Renée

Yolanda Renée

Yolanda Renée is a flash fiction addict. She is the author of Murder, Madness & Love, and Memories of Murder, published by Curiosity Quills Press. She left the corporate world to seek a new adventure in the world of writing. Flash fiction challenges like WEP help fulfill that desire.



If you’re a reader, what fictional settings have remained with you? If you’re a writer, what settings in your work do you want to talk about? Care to join the Spectacular Settings event? The post can be an excerpt from a book or a short story or flash fiction you’ve read, you’re writing, or have written– so it can’t get easier than that. You can ask for feedback on your work, if you so wish.

Go sign up now!

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

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!

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!

Do you hate E. L. James ? #fiftyshades

Fifty shades of Grey Merchandise!

Fifty shades of Grey Merchandise!

James is worth nearly 60 million pounds. She’s sold more than 125 million copies of her book worldwide, one of them to me.

I didn’t have the stomach to finish it, because the language quickly got in the way of the images in my head, which, I have to admit, were none too pleasant in the first place. I’m nobody’s prude, but I like my erotica well-written.

Erika Leonard James got taken out on Twitter recently, according to this article on Guardian:

But alongside the serious queries came a deluge of questions that made fun of James’s much-criticised prose style, including jibes such as “Do you get paid per adjective?”, “Have you ever held a dictionary?” and “Did you ever consider using a thesaurus, or did that sound too much like hard work?”

As well as her writing style hashtag users also referenced the similarities between her work and that of Twilight author Stephenie Meyer with questions such as: “What’s the minimum distance you have to stay away from Stephenie Meyer at all times?” and “Did you see the abusive relationship of Bella and Edward and think ‘hmm needs more abuse’.”

While others were more creative in their criticism, with queries such as: “How many roads must a man walk down before he devotes an entire room in his apartment to the abuse of young women?”, “50 Shades takes place in 2011 but Anastasia, a journalism student, is mystified by the concept of BASIC EMAIL?”

A whole lot of readers, and let’s face it, a ton of writers, are not pleased with her. I read some of the tweets, and was sorely tempted to retweet them. I held back though.

Yes, her books are badly written. A simple edit could make them so much better. And while I can’t accuse her of inspiring abuse, as some have done, I do cringe at the dumbing down of English writing.

But people (presumably, mostly women) all the way from US and UK to Brazil and China are reading her– so there’s a gap she fills. I don’t think I, or anyone, has the right to look down on folks for their reading tastes– people will read what they want to read.

And if you give James credit for nothing else, she’s a good businesswoman. The empire of merchandise she’s building, based on her novels, is proof positive.

She is a real person, according to Daily Mail:

Her husband no longer writes out of the garden shed and she has graduated from a table in the sitting room: instead, both have their own studies. She moved her sons from their state school to a private sixth form and was the first person in the UK to buy a £60,000 red Tesla Model S electric sports car when it was launched last year. Pictures this week also showed her driving a blue ‘Chelsea tractor’ complete with a number plate ending ‘SXY’.

But, despite the Hermes and Tiffany bracelets she has bought herself, Leonard in many ways remains resolutely down to earth, slipping seamlessly between her new life in LA, where she can sometimes be seen sipping wine in the garden of the £1,500-a-night Chateau Marmont hotel, and her old life in West London. She continues to frequent her favourite pub in Ealing, where she goes to play Scrabble or take part in the weekly quiz night or simply for Sunday lunch with her family.

And while she has become a fan of regular manicures and pedicures, she still has her hair blow-dried in Acton, does her own supermarket shopping and walks her two Westies, Max and Mini. She even taught her youngest son to drive recently. Quietly, she has also made vast donations to charity — according to her company records, in the region of £1.2 million to date.

And it is this part, the part of E.L. James being a human like any of us, (despite her freakish success, her deplorable writing skills and Everything Else : I’m not posting excerpts because this is a PG 13 blog, and the internet is so awash that a simple google search would tell you more than I ever can)— this is the part that holds me back.

What has she done, after all, other than produce some bad fiction? Does being on the internet give people the right to bring anyone down? Yes, she’s a public figure, and as such, ‘fair game,’ but must we put her on trial for making money out of incompetently-written smut? She’s a wife, a mother, and isn’t robbing anyone, or misappropriating funds (unlike most corporates and politicians). I might change my mind, but this is what I think right now.

What about you? Do you think E. L. James deserves the flaying she gets? Have you read any of the books? Do you have opinions on her writing, and its effect on the publishing world? Have at it in the comments (keep it PG13).

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!

What Makes An #Editor publish a Short #Story in a #Literary #Magazine? #writing

Stories in the Lunch Ticket Magazine

Lunch Ticket Magazine

As part of my ongoing guest post series in this blog, Melissa De Villiers recently answered questions on her writing.  Today I’m pleased to welcome David Bumpus from the Lunch Ticket Magazine. Feel free to leave your questions for him in the comments section, and he might stop by to answer them.


1. What drives Lunch Ticket? What are the plans for its future?

Lunch Ticket is Antioch University Los Angeles’ literary magazine, and as such is bound to uphold AULA’s mission to promote social justice by publishing without hesitation meritorious work written by underrepresented and underprivileged voices with the hope that getting their words out into the world will help enact change. As for its future, we’ve been tasked by the university to be the best magazine we possibly can while maintaining that mission. As a relatively new publication though—we’re only just entering our third year of being online—we feel like we’ve only recently finally established ourselves in the literary journal landscape, and we hope that future editors will carry the magazine forward towards realizing its full potential.

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

In pieces of any genre, we look for mastery of craft and an awareness of social justice. But by mastery of craft—since that’s a pretty general and nondescriptive term—I mean not only that the sentences are meticulously shaped, but that the writer demonstrates a clear understanding of and mastery over the form of their piece: that the structure is well-designed and compliments the function and intention of the piece; that the author doesn’t give in to any overused and diluted tropes; that every detail and nuance is charged with purpose. We want pieces that are fresh and original and have a sense of urgency about what they need to say.

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

We like pieces that challenge the status quo, both on the page and off. We want pieces that make us question the way we think and feel, and also challenge our expectations of certain genres. We want less pieces that assume and uphold norms and normative modes of thinking. We want less pieces that follow well-worn grooves. We want pieces that challenge our assumptions, that promote progressive modes of thinking.

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

Focus on your craft first: make sure your writing is clear and crisp, and that everything you do is purposeful and contributes to the piece as a whole. Secondly, read the magazines you want to be published in, and then submit what you think would be a good fit. Every magazine has their aesthetic preferences, and you have to send them what they’re looking for if you want to be published by them: it’s unlikely that if you write realist literary fiction you’ll be published in a genre magazine, or if you write experimental poetry you’ll be accepted by a more traditional publication. Submit to the markets that publish what you write, and only after you’ve taken the time to familiarize yourself with them.

5. Please link us to three of your favourite pieces on Lunch Ticket.

I can’t play favourites unfortunately, but I can provide links to a few pieces I found particularly powerful and that I think fully capitalized on our mission:
1. Days 2. Poetics of Resistance 3. Self Portrait: Chicken Dinner 4. Three Thai Poems 5. Weird Gelatinous Things.

6. What is your comment on the future of literary magazines?

It’s hard to say what the future of literary magazines will be because there are so many changes happening so rapidly. I do think that digital publications will continue to outnumber and outgrow print publications though, and that this could potentially create a market that will change not according to the desires of those who can fund the biggest magazines but whose changes will be dictated by the wants of the readers: having the ability to create and share publications has never before been so easily or widely practiced, and never have independent publications been able to have as wide a readership or reach. Because of this, publications can orbit whatever flag they plant in whatever territory or niche they want, and I think the readers will now determine who flourishes and who won’t in a way we haven’t seen before. We no longer have to only read what’s being published by the big names who tell us what we should read because they’re the only ones who are publishing anything: we can seek out what we want to read, because someone out there is publishing it. And if not, then you can create and share your own publication.


Lunch Ticket Magazine: David Bumpus

David Bumpus: Lunch Ticket

David Bumpus holds an MFA in Fiction from Antioch University Los Angeles. As an undergraduate, he studied Mathematics and Philosophy at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. For a year and a half, he served as the Editor-in-Chief of Lunch Ticket, Antioch’s literary journal committed to promoting social justice. He is also a sponsored motorcycle racer.

Dear readers, do you read literary magazines? Like short stories? Have you heard of the Lunch Ticket? If you write, do you submit to literary magazines? Been published? Do you have questions for David Bumpus?
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!