Bangalore based Short Story Lovers Meet Me at Atta Galatta on Saturday, 28th February, 2015 at 6.30 PM

If you love short stories, you’ll love this event called Brief Encounter, hosted by author Madhavi Mahadevan and Atta Galatta.

It’s a regular event, and this time I have the privilege of being one of the writers who will get to meet short story aficionados! And yes, I’ll also give you a taste of my new book – Breasts and Other Afflictions of Women: Stories, published by Authorspress, India.

 The other person who you will get to meet apart from me, Madhavi and the good folks of Atta Galatta, is story teller par excellence Deeptha Vivekanand who runs regular story telling workshops for children and adolescents.

So if you love short stories, as a writer and/or as a reader do join us at around 6.30 PM on Saturday the 28th of February 2015.

Atta Galatta ‘s address:

Atta Galatta,
134, KHB Colony, 5th Block,
Bangalore 560 095
Phone: +91 80 4160 0677
96325 10126

More about Madhavi at


More about Deeptha Vivekanand at


Look forward to seeing you! :)

Submission Call for Poetry – Barak Valley Express : Memorials in Text

This is a one of a kind submission call. You need to be really and truly connected to Barak Valley to be able to write poetry on the subject. In case you are wondering what or where Barak Valley is, and in that case this submission call is not for you, Barak Valley is a lush and serene place nestled in Southern Assam. Take a look at Wikipedia

I am copy-pasting the editors’ submission call for those who are  connected and interested:-

Call for poetry submissions
Barak Valley Express : Memorials in Text
(Editors: Arjun Choudhuri, Deborshi Brahmachari)

Barak Valley Express : Memorials in Text is an anthology of narratives that commemorate the region called Barak Valley, and the many ways in which its intrinsic, particular identities have come to be configured in the personal memory of those people whose lives are inextricably tied to this place, and to its pasts, its present and its future. Since when the Sylhet Referendum and the Radcliffe Award caused a primary upheaval in the geopolitical character of this region, the valley, known popularly as an “island of peace”, has steadily moved towards becoming an island in the most literal sense of the term, with ruptures and disconnections affecting almost every sphere of its social and cultural existence. Naturally, these ruptures have affected exoduses of many varied origins throughout the last few decades with generations and families leaving this island never to return again. Which is why, all across the world now, there is always a Barak Connection waiting to made.

But wherever these children of the valley go, the constant cultural nostalgia that lives in their hearts for a home in the past, for a familiarity that no longer is in the present seeks expression. Some of them end up writing, uttering this nostalgia, this need for rememoration, and are named as poets and authors. Others end up simply living with that and never expressing it. But, the past doesn’t really disappear, and even when forgetting takes its toll on the character of the present, the inherent desire to recall, for the act of rememoration to manifest itself as commemorative practice and as memorialisation holds sway over it all. And between the two poles of remembering and forgetting, a negotiation is reached in the psyche of the individual. The resultant is a selective narrating of the past in the present, an intertext of sinuous proportions.

The narratives in this anthology are such memory texts in the form of essays, memoirs, prose tracts, translations and poems which present an intersection of personal and collective memories of the valley. Since each of these narratives commemorate, and memorialise a different image of Barak Valley, one which may, or may not be culturally predominant, we have seen fit to name them all memorials in text. Memorials which utter, and narrate diverse versions of a multifarious past. The first part of the title of the anthology is a play on the name of the railway service that runs across the valley, and the idea of mnemonic expression about the valley besides being the title of an iconic Bengali poem by Amitabha Dev Choudhury.

For purposes that are obvious, only invited contributors were listed for the prose section. However, we have decided to place an open call for poetry submissions in English since, as we see it, the practice of English writing in Barak Valley has gathered a somewhat heartening momentum over the last few decades. We feel that even that bit of narrative practice needs to be represented in this proposed volume. Please look at the submission guidelines below for more details.

Submission Guidelines :

1. Who can submit? Anybody, actually. But if you read the concept note, you’ll see that we’d prefer to publish writers who can, and will write about their connection to, and the role that the valley plays even now in their lives. Regardless of where they live, and where they’d been born.

2. All submissions must be in English. A minimum of three and a maximum of five poems may be submitted. Only email submissions will be considered. These should be sent in a separate MS Word document and not pasted in the body of the email. Formatting should be 12/ Times New Roman/ Single spaced. The subject line should read: “BVE_Poetry_Your Name”.

3. Submissions close on 31st August 2013. Copyright for all selected submissions, and all inclusions in the anthology shall rest with the authors with first anthology rights to the editors. If the authors want to republish these at any time in the future then a no objection statement must be obtained from the editors. In that case the publication must be cited as an extract from the present anthology.

4. The editors will not benefit in the least from the future sales of the anthology. All proceeds from such sales shall be forwarded to charities and the statement of any donations shall be publicised duly. No individual royalties will be assigned to any contributor, therefore. Authors’ copies of the publication may be forwarded at the discretion of the publisher. The editors do not have any say in that matter.

5. Please adhere to the submission guidelines. Unformatted submissions will not be considered. All submissions must be sent to Deborshi Brahmachari at


FLASH MOB 2013 Celebrates Flash Fiction Day with a Contest. I Entered!

Writing colleague Kulpreet Yadav (author of India Unlimited, Lifi Publications, India) pointed me to this interesting new contest –

Flash Mob 2013 Flash Fiction Day Contest.



Read my story below the contest details!

To quote from the site: “Flash Mob is a hybrid blog carnival and competition celebrating International Flash Fiction Day. To enter the mob, post a previously unpublished work of flash fiction (300 words or fewer, not including title) to your own blog sometime between now and June 10 (closing date of contest).

Then send the following (1-4 below)  to

1. the link to the story

2. the story text in the body of your email without your name attached at the top

3. a brief bio

4. a picture of yourself looking mean or cool or funny or arty–nothing boring, no nudity.”

It’s that simple. For more  details go to their site.

And now for my entry – trust me I’m more nervous about posting a piece of unpublished literary endeavour, however small, than in submitting to picky magazines! Somehow there is a lot of comfort in knowing that an editor has endorsed your work before it gets to see the light of day. Anyway, this is in support of Flash Fiction, a form I love but have yet to perfect. So here goes –


 (291 Words)

In the shuttered room, the children sat down to play. Faces serious, they met the board where the words would form. With quiet hands, they took the letter tiles out of the bag. They rolled the dice one by one, until the one that would go first was chosen. They fashioned words, turn by turn. There were no arguments. No challenges. No one cheated.

Scrabble had become a post lunch ritual ever since their home had become a house of bereavement. Just like the rest. No one went out any more. Schools were closed. Shops remained shut. Hospital beds lay empty.

The village seemed to have petrified upon a mound of dread, waiting for death to strike. The children understood. They kept their naturally joyous hearts subdued. Their songs stayed cloistered in their throats. Their laughter condensed into smiles, secret ones. They did not clatter up and down. And when they clapped, they stopped their palms from touching in the nick of time. So the air crashed silently between their hands.

The children played in the attic, where they felt protected from the blinding sun outside; and the disease too. It occurred to them that this disease was a creature with a mind of its own. That it did not strike randomly, preferring to pick its victims with care. The grownups were afraid. The children were not. But they kept the reason to themselves.

There were just the two of them still alive, but they were not alone. They had siblings, and friends and playmates, dozens of them, from the other side. And they had promised, each other and one and all, that they would stay together, for as long as it took. And, that come what may, they would be children, always.


Blog Runner, With Five Tagged Writers!

More than a month ago, writing colleague and friend Nabina Das  wrote a post in her blog and tagged me:

And I am quoting her here:

Chain mails might sometime seem too compelling in their appeal. But writing about writing is quite fun, especially when a writer tags me. Taking the cue from Nabina Das, here’s my post. I took a long time getting to it. Sorry. Quoting from Nabina’s blog again: It is tough to write about one’s own writing, but fun as well. And somewhere along this exercise, things become clearer to you, about your writing goals, aspirations and small pleasures.

We each tag five more writers, and they tell five more and so on.

Now, this post won’t bring you instant recognition or snazzy awards. Also, no guarantee one would score brownie points in heaven by passing on this post.

Message for tagged authors:

Rules of the Next Big Thing

***Use this format for your post ***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress) ***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing: What is your working title of your book? Where did the idea come from for the book? What genre does your book fall under? Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Who or what inspired you to write this book? What else about your book might piqué the reader’s interest?

Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged. Be sure to line up your five people in advance.

Okay so here is Nabina Das and below that my five tagged with or without their permission, writer friends:

Rajat Chaudhuri

Dipika Mukherjee

Hansda S Shekhar

Kulpreet Yadav

Gay Degani

There may be more to follow. So calling all my writer friends, if you want to answer those questions, please do and email them to me. I’ll post them here in my blog if you don’t have your own!

Now to find the As for those Qs! Phew! I know, I know I am horribly late with this! It’s so darn hard to write about myself, sorry Nabina I took so long!

Q1  What is your working title of your book?

Ans 1 Actually there are several, because I have begun half a dozen books, ranging from children’s to adults. I’m feeling sheepish about this, but at this time I have that many manuscripts in various stages of development. Having said that, I do have a title, two titles and they are the final titles because they have both been accepted for publication by Lifi Publications, India. The first one is a novel – Culling Mynahs and Crows. The other one is a book of short fiction – The Vanishing Man and Other Imperfect Men.

Q2 Where did the idea come from for the book?

Ans 2 The book, my novel, sort of grew into its present avatar, if I may call it that. It began as a dream I’d had a long time ago about a man who wanted to set things right in the world, except that his methods were controversial and he was a murderer. Somewhere down the line, another character took over, became more important than the serial killer. The story became different, and it was no longer the killer and his philosophy, but the effect of that on certain people, and that became the focal point, the crux of the story. I like to think of Culling Mynahs and Crows as a book that grew organically.

Regarding The Vanishing Man and Other Imperfect Men, these are stories that I’ve written during the past decade and most, possibly all, have been individually published in journals all over the world. These stories are about men, as the title suggests; their failings, idiosyncracies, cravings and needs. The men are all Indian, but not necessarily urban. They come from all walks of life.

Q3 What genre does your book fall under?

Ans 3 Literary fiction. Ditto for the short story collection.

Q4 Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Ans 4 This is too tough for me. I honestly have no clue.  And, anyway most of my favourite actors are dead or too old.  May I scout around among the newbies and return to this one?

Q5 What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Ans 5 The novel: How many will Agnirekha fell before she finds herself, and how much can Agnishikha endure?

Q6 Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Ans 6 As I said, Lifi Publications, India are publishing my books; sometime during the middle of this year – 2013.

Q7 How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Ans 7 The first draft took me around three months. It, the novel, was 250 pages at that time; now it’s 480 pages or so, long.

Q8 What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Ans 8 I haven’t yet read any that I can compare Culling Mynahs and Crows with. This is an awkward question for me. I also don’t think this is an easy book. I am anxious about reader-response.

Q9 Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Ans 9 I don’t think there was anything or any person in particular that triggered off this book. You could say I went into a state of mind after watching, reading, hearing etc. and the first character was born from that debris of information or  more appropriately stimuli.

Q10 What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Ans 10 The book is set in the Calcutta and Bengal of the 80s, when jobs and opportunities were going away from the state. More and more Bengalis were leaving for greener pastures. This is a favourite haunt of mine, theme wise. I am obsessed with Bengal’s condition, much of which fills me with anger. I don’t know about the pique bit. That’s not for me to say. But anger is an emotion I can understand and relate to, though not necessarily empathise with. The book’s actions take place in Calcutta, Bisrampur – a silk and cotton mill town that I made up located somewhere in Murshidabad district, and finally in the USA. Most of the actions take place within a week, in Bisrampur. The after math continues in Calcutta and spills over into the USA. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I haven’t written Kolkata. It’s Calcutta, Calcutta, all the way. Mostly because the book is set at a time when the city was Calcutta or Cal as we still call her.  There are certain observations made by Agnirekha, one of my main protagonists, about expatriate Bengalis. I don’t know how that will be received by expat Bengalis when, if, should, they read the book once it’s published. 

To Ugliness – A Submission Call

I am guest editing the April issue of The Four Quarters Magazine whose theme is “To Ugliness.” Deadline March 10, 2013.

For my part, I am specifically looking for prose from unsolicited submissions. Poetry is of course welcome, as always. But since the poetry slot tends to fill up faster, and most of my solicited writers have poetry on their minds, I’d like to concentrate more on prose. Fiction and nonfiction alike. Don’t feel deterred however, if you only have poetry. Send it on.

General submission details are crystal clear in the website:

Please read several issues before submitting if you haven’t read The Four Quarters Magazine before. It’s free, so you don’t have any excuse! 

Here’s a bit more about the theme:-

To Ugliness

Is ugliness ‘good’? Is it ‘bad’? Is it ‘evil’? Is it only the Other of the Beautiful, or of beauty? Is it the harmonious form that harms and is malevolent? Or is also the benevolent ‘grotesque’, the kind ‘misshapen’? Is it the ‘macabre’? Or is it the ‘fair’? Does Ugliness elicit only disgust and fear, and repulsion? Or does it necessitate, among other things, a certain level of appreciation for its resisting presence in this world that shuns and negates as inappropriate all disharmonious aspects and forms? How do we then respond to the ubiquitous presence of the Ugly in our contemporary living and existence?
To Ugliness, therefore, we address these questions, and seek to attend to its more innate aspects in this issue of The Four Quarters Magazine which has as its theme this phrase ‘To Ugliness’. We invite submissions of poetry and prose writing, fiction or nonfiction, translations from any language, graphic …narratives and artwork suited to the theme in question. The deadline for submissions for this issue is March 10th, 2013.
Happy Writing!

Avis Hickman Gibb Presents a Plate of Bits!

In her own words, Avis lives in Suffolk, England with her husband, one son and two cats. She gained a BSc. in Environmental Chemistry more years ago than she cares to admit, and worked in the fledgling computer industry whilst still a babe-in-arms. She has been a story–teller for as long as she can remember.  She discovered a talent for Chemistry in her second year of senior school and went on to read Environmental Chemistry at Salford University.  She put this to good use in the Information Technology industry, working for several manufacturers, eventually specialising in Stockbroking and Fund Management software in The City of London. She retired from the fray to raise a family. Avis can be contacted here:

Avis Hickman Gibb

But she still loves to tell stories!A few weeks ago she published her flash fiction collection  in an e-book. Entitled A Plate of Bits it’s available from Amazon. But before you scurry your fingers off to get her book, here is a bit part of her interview which will be up in October in Flash Fiction Chronicles:

Me: How did A Plate of Bits happen?

Avis: A Plate of Bits is a collection of short, and short-short, of my work from 2007 until mid 2011.  For as long as I can remember, I have been a teller of tales – but only for my consumption.  Then in late 2006 I decided my New Year’s resolution for 2007 would be to do something about my writing – kind of put-up or shut-up, call my bluff.  After all there’s only so long you can tell yourself ‘I could have been a contender’.

I joined the online writers’ community WriteWords and joined a group there called Flash Fiction I.  I was hooked from the first week.  I found the concept so immediate, so accessible – take a prompt and write to a set word target – what could be simpler?  I added, as I think a lot of Flash writers do, a time limit to produce a piece.  I like to belt out the first draft in about an hour.  But the tweaking – ah that can take days!  When I find myself deliberating for half an hour at a time the merits of using that word there, or deleting that word, I realise the piece is ‘cooked’!

When I started my writing was not disciplined.  The experience I gained from writing flash has taught me a lot about structure, about saying what I want to say in a direct and (I think) clear manner.  Of course with flash the reader may be called upon to work a little more than a reader of a novel, or a short story.  The more words in a piece, the more colour and details of the story can be filled in for the reader.  Flash is stripped down fiction, and sometimes the story seems to start in mid action.  But a good flash will have the start and perhaps the end implied within it.  It will be up to each reader to decode and interpret.

Me: What is a typical writing day like?

Avis:  My writing day recently has been filled with too much boring, technical stuff.  I have just finished (using a new venture a couple of tech-savvy friends and I set up called Hawkmoth Press) converting my word processed file of collected bits into the shiny new eBook A Plate of Bits. I am only just now looking at cleared schedule where I can plan to actually write each day.

So this will be settling down late morning to put in four hours before a late lunch.  The earlier morning is taken up with walking.  Then later in the day after a couple of hours off doing boring stuff like laundry, I’ll probably have another bash at the keyboard – but probably editing.   And that will hold true for five-ish days of the week.

I do have my own spot in our study, but at the moment I am camped out in the dining room as my desk has had to be shifted due to a damp patch making an appearance after a drain pipe overflowed thanks to a leaf blockage.  The joys of owning an old house! 

Hawkmoth Press Logo

Me: Tell us about Hawkmoth Press.

Avis: Well, basically when I first decided I wanted to dip my toe into the electronic publishing sea. I thought – how hard can it be?  I am more than technically competent – after all I worked all those years in, on, beside and with computers for heaven’s sake!

But the more I delved into the “what was involved”, the more befuddled I became.  And there I was one day with a friend, pouring my woes out over a cup of tea.  Long story short, we set up Hawkmoth Press to aid authors convert their word processed book into an eBook.  There is only one conversion process at the moment – to Kindle.  But as Amazon is the market leader, and as the Kindle Select Programme is a very good way to dip a toe in for a new author, this is no bad thing.

Now my book is converted I’m back to doing what I love – writing.  But I feel relieved that when I have another book to sell, Hawkmoth Press will be available to me for the conversion.  They’ll work with an author to produce the best version of a work that’s possible.  The author is involved at all stages, and is responsible for all copy editing choices.  But the great bonus they offer is a second bite at the conversion cherry.  They convert what an author sends and return a fully functioning MOBI compiled eBook for that author to check.

Something I have found during converting A Plate of Bits is the very small screen of an eReader sometimes does funny things to line layouts.  And sometimes you want to rearrange the prose so it sits better on the reader’s screen.  Hawkmoth’s second bite allows an author to check through this first stage book and change all these little niggles, and a mass of others – like hanging full-stops, premature line wraparound, and other stuff – and then they will for no extra cost produce the final fully uploaded Kindle book. If you’re good enough, there’s also the possibility of an author page home at Hawkmoth Press, if you have no web-site of your own.  I’m there, along with a kernel of other authors.  Go check me out @ http://www/ .

Avis: I am a complete Kindle convert!  I resisted buying one of the readers – I like paper books, I said.  I like to hold them in my hands and feel the rustle of the pages, I said.  Then I figured if I was going to sell on Kindle I should see what the fuss was about.  I now have over 160 books on my Kindle.  I carry it around in my handbag, I can read at the drop of a hat and it doesn’t weigh anymore with all those books in it!

Forms of fiction best for Kindle?  I can see, as for with any eReader, that if the book had lots of pictures in it that might not… sit well on the small screens of the eReaders.  But in my humble opinion just about any form of fiction or creative writing will be just as well represented on an eReader screen as on a dead-wood book! (Dead-wood – paper, get it?)

And the trends?  Phew!  That’s a trickier one than I think you realise! The access Amazon, and all the eBook seller sites, allows to a reader is tremendous.  I think this is the real revolution that is talked about.  No longer are the books and stories available to the reading public only those that a literary agent, publishing house editor or retail shop decide are the ones that will be sold this year.  The choice of e-Reader reading matter is truly astonishing – trawling through just Amazon’s lists to see the choice will show you that.

Okay, write some, perhaps a lot, of these are rubbish; but those eBooks that are badly written, have too many errors in them, are badly formatted, or just plain boring will fall to the bottom of the heap – thus allowing the good stuff to float.  But it’s definitely not a case of publish and leave your little masterpiece to get on to the legendary Amazon lists all by itself.  As the author, you have to do stuff to help.

Only look at the Fifty Shades phenomena and you should appreciate the power of the common readership.  How, if enough people hear about – and buy – a book, it will be a success.  Without the assistance of agents, publishers, editors and all.

Remember Avis Hickman Gibb’s complete interview will be up in October 2012 in Flash Fiction Chronicles

A Plate of Bits

Meet My Friends at Pangea Once More!

Pangea an Anthology of Short Stories from Around the Globe launched a couple of months ago. Edited by Indira Chandrashekhar and Rebecca Lloyd, Pangea is published by Thames River Press  UK.

You can also buy the book here.

To learn more about Pangea activities go to their blog

As it turned out, some of my writing friends and colleagues (who also write flash) had their fiction in the Pangea anthology. So I did a series of interviews in Flash Fiction Chronicles as part of the launch activity. Afterwards I realised that I had come up with a varied and interesting range of flash writing practices and approaches.

Click on the links below to find out more.

Working Together: Stories for the World by Authors Around the World – Pangea  –

In this post the editors Rebecca Lloyd and  Indira Chandrashekhar talk about the process of putting together the anthology. Authors Vanessa Gebbie and Oonah V Joslin, who had been interviewed by me in Flash Fiction Chronicles before also share their views here. The rest of the links are self-explanatory.

Introducing Pangea Author: Sarah Hilary

Introducing Pangea Author: Andrew Charman 

Introducing Pangea Author: Jennifer Walmsley 

Introducing Pangea Author: Tom Williams 

Introducing Pangea Author: Fehmida Zakeer


And, oh, if you’ve enjoyed my posts at Flash Fiction Chronicles before or would like to read them, I have archived them in my blog in a separate page – Rumjhum’s Ruminations. I’ll keep it updated so you can catch each month’s post here as well.

Story in University of Chester’s Flash. Anam Cara’s Poetry Competition

A flash story by me was accepted by The University of Chester’s biannual literary magazine: Flash, which publishes short short fiction of up to 360 words. This is happy news for me, as I share space with many great names! Woo woo! :)

Flash is a print magazine, and I’ll get my contributor’s copy, soon.  My name’s already up in their website!


In slightly older news, but of great significance to me and my writing life is the link to my first prize-winning story (flash fiction) at the Anam Cara website: 

I wanted to shout about it in my blog straightaway, but had butterflies in my tummy, because I need a VISA to get there. This wonderful news has already been shared a few times in Facebook, by my well wishers and friends. I’m still waiting for VISA clearance as of today, and am superstitious enough to hold my happiness in my fist, real tight, until I’m sure. Guys pray for me so I can get there and attend the workshop run by Vanessa Gebbie!

That’s not all.

Take a look at the site. Anam Cara, as the name suggests, is truly a friend of your writerly and artistic souls.

And if you write poetry, well, there’s a chance you just might get lucky like me! Anam Cara has a poetry competition on now, and the theme is a picture. Take a look, the information’s all here –

The last date for submissions (by email) is 29th May. Go for it. And, Good Luck!  :)

Fishing in Literary Waters with Clem Cairns

Here’s this month’s interview, up at Flash Fiction Chronicles:

For those who still don’t know, Clem Cairns and Jula Wharton are the two main people behind Fish Publishing.

Their flash fiction contest is still open, until 20th March. So there’s still time if you have something to send. Fish also runs two online courses, one for Memoir and the other for Flash Fiction.