Two New Writing Opportunities!

Yes, it’s true. Just got to know about two new writing opportunities!

Call for Asian short stories.

This one came to me from writer Dipika Mukherji who edited the previous  collection (The Merlionand the Hibiscus) along with Prof. Mohammad A. Quayum. This is a call for Asian short stories to be published in a volume by Marshall Cavendish an International publisher in Malaysia. The details are all here in Sharon Bakar’s blog Bibliobibuli.

Just to make it even easier for you I am quoting from Sharon Bakar’s blog word for word: “Asian and Asian diasporic writers, new or established, are invited to send short stories in English for a volume of NEW ASIAN SHORT STORIES to be published by Marshall Cavendish (Malaysia). The book will be edited by Prof. Mohammad A. Quayum whose details are given below. We invite short stories not exceeding 6000 words and NOT published or submitted for publication elsewhere to be submitted to the editor electronically at, by 15 February 2010. The book will be released in September 2010, and all successful contributors will be sent a complimentary copy of the book upon publication.” Nevertheless, please visit Sharon’s blog as you can interact with her there in case you have doubts/queries and also read the comments.

Call for Chicken Soup for the Romantic Indian Soul.

This one is from Raksha Bharadia, who is the author of ‘Me’ – A Handbook for Life (Rupa & Co), ‘Roots and Wings’ – A Handbook for Parents (Rupa & Co) and Chicken soup for the India Soul (Westland). She will be compiling individual experiences for “Chicken Soup for the Indian Romantic Soul” to be brought out by Westland Publishers.

Contributors will get their bylines and a 3 – 4 line profile in the book. Westland pays Rs 1000 per story and two copies of the book.  Bloggedand published work are acceptable.  Stories and poems should be non-fiction, ranging in length between 300-1200 words. Authors retain their copyrights.  Please send your stories to: before 30th September 2009. For more information or queries please contact her at the mentioned email.

Guidelines for a Chicken Soup for the Soul Story

1. Tell an exciting, sad or funny story about something that has happened to you or someone you know. Make sure that you introduce the character(s).
2. Tell your story in a way that will make the reader cry, laugh or get goose bumps (the good kind!) Don’t leave anything out — how did you feel?
3. The story should start with action; it should include a problem, issue or situation. It should include dialogue and the character should express their feelings though the conflict or situation. It should end in a result, such as a lesson learned, a positive change or pay-off.

What a Chicken Soup for the Soul story IS NOT

1. A sermon, an essay or eulogy.
2. A term paper, thesis, letter or journal entry.
3. About politics or controversial issues.
4. A biography or testimonial.

Story Specifications

Stories and poems should be non-fiction, ranging in length between 300-1200 words.
 If the story or poem you wrote is published by us, you will be paid Rs 1000 per contribution.
You will also get two copies of the book.
Feel free to submit more than one story or poem.

The sections

Finding True Love
Love and Romance
Romantic moments
Romance and Marriage
Memories of Love
Lessons in Love
For Better or for Worse
The Flame still Burns




I am not much for author reads and book launches and stuff like that – blasphemous words since I am a writer myself, and hey, I am aware I am axing my own legs! Be that as it may, a couple of years ago I let go of Kiran Desai’s presence at Landmark simply because I did not see why I had to go meet her even though I loved both her books! The only famous author whose book reading I attended was Amitav Ghosh – another one of my favourite writers – but that was because a friend needed company.  The smaller (compared to the above two mega stars) book readings/launches that I have attended were to show love and support for my writer/poet friends and acquaintances. And that is something I will always do. So…

When I received an email from Mridula Koshy about her book readings in Chennai and Bangalore, I told myself now here is a writer who takes her profession seriously. I like and respect professionalism in people from the creative disciplines. I shot off an enthusiastic mail and then uploaded her book reading announcement on my blog. What I did not know then was Mridula Koshy was not just going about her writerly business in a professional manner, she was being downright sincere.

I was one of the early birds at the Taj Connemara today. Very early in fact because the members of Madras Book Club the co -hosts of Mridula’s book reading (the other two being Prakriti Foundation and her publisher Westland/Tranquebar Press)  always like to enjoy their tiffin of snacks and Kaapi before settling down to attend to the author, the reading gets delayed by a good forty five minutes as a rule.  Luckily for me I did not have to sit by myself for long. Mridula was early too and I walked up to introduce myself, wondering if I was doing the right thing.  It is always awkward walking up to a published writer; you don’t want to come across as a sycophant or someone who gushes over anyone remotely connected to the media. But I think I did gush at the end!

I might as well have walked up to meet not a school mate, but someone who shared the same institute with me, there was that feeling of instant connect. I also  felt instantly protective. She was poised, polite and perfect in every way, so why did I feel protective? I haven’t quite figured that out. All I know is that I also liked her instantly.  And then she told me  that  writing to  people who blogged was something she had done on her own and not at the publisher’s behest, because she wanted to get across to real people who read books and would therefore write real reviews.  I realized then that she was more than professional, she was genuinely sincere.

As the evening progressed and she went and sat upon the spotlit seats, flanked by K. Srilata the poet and writer and Ranvir Shah founder of Prakriti Foundation,  reading an excerpt from her book in her clear voice, responding to Srilata’s questions and discussions, and then taking questions from the audience, I had many glimpses of her genuineness. Her frank, free of any guile responses charmed me. At one point, a member of the audience asked her about the “semiotics” in her work which he preceded with a two minute talk on what I assumed was a pseudo-intellectual take on her writing, and she simply pushed the mike towards Srilata, who teaches Creative Writing at IIT Madras,  saying she could answer that. Now most writers are subjected to this kind of literary scrutiny by one or two members of the audience. (I saw it happening to Amitav Ghosh and have heard of similar stories about other writers). Frankly, I think that these people are aspiring writers or worse still, literature students who think that outside of them nobody is truly qualified to analyse this whole literary thingumajig! Since I have a literature background I should know! ;) Anyway, to come to the point, Mridula, did reply to the  literary smartaleck,  having composed herself in the thirty seconds that Srilata took to respond. What charmed me about her was the absolute simplicity of her answer and the gracious way she handled  a person who was being self important.

Straight forward, genuine and gracious, that is how Mridula Koshy the writer came across to me. But there is more; thoughout the evening, begining with her brief interaction with me, right through her reading and question answer session, I got a sense that here was a very intelligent person with an acute sense of observation, and a mind that often detached itself to look over everything, including the self.

Much of what writers are made of seeps into their books, their words, their make believe worlds. I have not yet read the whole book “If It Is Sweet.” Even so, I am certain that I will read stories that have picked into the nooks and crannies of ordinary lives, sifted through the contents and spread them out tarot card fashion between the soft bound covers of her book. And yes, I certainly look forward to this writer’s successful journey into the literary landscape.

PS: A couple of  things – sadly my camera battery ditched and I couldn’t take photos! I know I haven’t quoted her at all, but these are my impressions and there were enough journos there taking notes etc. so they will surely quote and misquote Mridula. Oh, and I gushed before I left, (unlike me but couldn’t help it!) ” Stay this way, don’t change!” What I meant really was, “this almost childlike and incisive truthfulness is precious and rare, this is your voice, hold on to it!”

Now Chennai & Bangalore get to Find Out “If It Is Sweet!”

I read a couple of her short stories on the internet and really liked them. Here’s an example, which won first prize in the 2008 India Currents Short Story Competition. Now Mridula Koshy has a whole bunch of short stories neatly packed into a book brought out by Tranquebar Press. Her book has been launched in Delhi and  Mumbai.  It is being launched in Chennai and Bangalore next week. So all of you who are located here and near abouts, please come! :) 

The Chennai Launch:-

Madras Book Club in association with Westland/Tranquebar Press and Prakriti Foundation cordially invite you to celebrate the publication of


–  A collection of short stories by Mridula Koshy

On tuesday 11th August 2009 at 6.30 pm at Conemara Hotel, Chennai. K. Srilata, Associate Professor IIt Madras, will be in discussion with the author.

 The Bangalore Launch:-

Toto Funds the Arts in assocoiation with Tranquebar Press is pleased to invite you to the launch of

If It Is Sweet by Mridula Koshy

Eminent author KR Usha will be in conversation with the author.

Date and Time: 13th August 2009, 6.30 pm onwards

Venue: Crossword Bookstore, ACR Towers, 32, Residency Road (G.F), Bangalore

Praise for If It Is Sweet 

  ‘… in language that’s affecting, tender … Mridula Koshy’s writing is deeply attentive and fearless, the work of an extraordinary Indian moralist with an unmistakable gift.’ – Jeet Thayil  

Mridula Koshy’s voice is fresh and new, animated by a love of language and people that makes these stories remarkably strange and yet disconcertingly familiar.” – Sidharth Deb. 

“If It Is Sweet is a book of savage beautiful writing, whose empathy and curiosity flood over the usual barricades of imagination — and remind us indeed, what real writing is.” – Rana Dasgupta

Mridula Koshy was born and raised in Delhi till she migrated to the US. There she worked as a union and community organiser. She currently lives in Delhi with her partner and children. Her short stories have appeared in publications in India and abroad. If It Is Sweet is Mridula’s first book and has won rave reviews and a very wide readership.

Usha K R has been writing fiction in English for over two decades. She began with short fiction, which was published in various magazines and newspapers such as Debonair, Femina, Savvy, New Quest and Deccan Herald. Her novels include: Sojourn (1998); The Chosen (2003); and A Girl and a River (2007), which won the Vodafone Crossword Award for Fiction, 2007. Her next novel is forthcoming from Penguin India in 2010.