Rejection with feedback

It’s frustrating to be rejected and not know why. Very few mags offer feedback with rejection. That’s why it’s special when you find one that offers feedback.

I found a rejection mail (2013) from Every Day Fiction. It was one of my first fiction pieces and I really wanted to know what readers thought of it. Their rejection offered valuable critique. 
Praise doesn’t help any writer improve their craft, it lifts spirits on bad days but nothing else.

The stories they published- delivered to my inbox made my day. I had read Rheea Rodrigues Mukherjee’s story ‘Small Adjustments’ in this mag (You can read it here, if you like: https://everydayfiction.com/small-adjustments-by-rheea-muk…/) and then followed other works of hers online.

The magazine also has ‘Every Day Poets’ that offers feedback for poems too. They pay for submissions too. Not sure of changes in the magazine in the past 5 years but thought it was worth mentioning.


Pasting the feedback below so you get an idea:

Thank you for your submission to Every Day Fiction. I regret to inform you that we are unable to use it at this time.

There is some excellent writing in this piece, and I liked the contraposition between the likes/loves…but overall the story left me very confused, and I was unable to become really involved in the characters or the plot. 
— Nicole Dunaway

What great description! And I like/love the contrast of the words. The observation of another human being. The raw emotion. In terms of “story” the end really threw me. My mind tried to latch on to some reality, some space in which the characters lived. I thought, maybe sci-fi with the shattering of a holographic illusion, but in the end, I can’t decide. I need to be more firmly grounded in a setting to fully understand what’s going on with the cracked frame. 
— Dustin Adams

There was an elegance to some of the lines in this story that were really nice. It did create a strong visual image of the woman for me. I didn’t like the repetition of the phrase, “He liked the way”. I think the writing would have been stronger without it. I felt like this was really going well, but it didn’t end. Who was the crazy guy staring at the picture? Who was the woman in the picture? Who was trying to get him out of the room? Why was he in love with the girl in the picture? Why had he locked himself in the room? These are just a few of the questions raised in my mind that were never resolved. 
— Kent DuFault

I love what this sets out to do, juxtapose what he likes about her with what he loves. It’s a nice tool to pull the story along. But I agree, though elegantly written, there is too much confusion over what is happening in the story and why. Also, I feel that the prose needs some more polishing. Aside from some typos, I think this would benefit from more use of commas, or perhaps just breaking up some of the longer sentences. As many of them are punctuated (or rather not punctuated) now, it doesn’t read as smoothly as I think it’s intended to. Much of the effect of the elegant prose is lost when readers have to stumble through long awkward sentences. 
— Sealey Andrews

I have to admit that I found this piece rather confusing — is it possible that “she” is his reflection in a mirror, and that this is about transgender exploration? That’s the only interpretation I could come up with. There are some very nice lines in this piece, and some beautiful imagery, but I think that most of our readers would struggle to find a clear plot in this piece. 
— Camille Gooderham Campbell

Unfortunately due to the insanely massive amounts of submissions in our slush pile, we cannot reconsider your piece at this time.

We wish you good luck in placing the story elsewhere.

Sincerely, 
All of us at Every Day Fiction


 

Updated: 2018 Half-yearly log

This list is for those looking for something to read, watch, learn, explore.

i) Novels/ Collections

ii) Articles (Non-fiction)

iii) Talks/Interviews

iv) Films (Including Adaptations)

v) Sitcoms

vi) Short stories

vii) Poems

viii) Songs

ix) Writing Prompts

x) Deal with rejection/self-doubt

xi) Exciting news of writers I admire

xii) Call for submissions

xiii) Dance- choreography

xiv) Comedy

 


i) Novels/Collections:

Second-half of 2017 reads, they are really good books:

2017

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, When I Hit You by Meena Kandasamy, Insects are just like you and me except some of them have wings by Kuzhali Manickavel, Eunuch Park: Stories of Love and Destruction by Palash Krishna Mehrotra, The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, Polymorphism: Stories by Indira Chandrashekhar, Cancer Ward by Aleksandr S., Kafka on the shore by Haruki Murakami.

2018 reads:

 

  1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

THE HELP

Bought this book after watching the movie several times. The book was brilliant, written from three points of view. Aibleen, Minny and Miss Skeeter. The writer has done justice to each voice and doesn’t play favourites. Thoroughly enjoyed the book.

2) Letter to his father by Franz Kafka

kafkaaa

I had only heard that Kafka had had a troubled relationship with his father and wanted to know exactly how. The book allows you to be Kafka and feel what he went through.

3) The Trial by Franz Kafka

kafkaaaaaaa

Isn’t this book cover amazing? So is the book. I had only read Kafka’s short stories before this and I felt ‘helplessness’ run through out his stories. ‘A Country Doctor’ is just one example. Here is a brilliant adaptation of the story.

This feeling of helplessness was much much more in this novel. The way Kafka plays out events describing the confusion, frustration, helplessness of Josef K is masterful. His style is captivating and I was hung up on this book for a long time afterwards.

I then immediately watched the movie (1962) afterwards. It was as mesmersing as the book. Remember Anthony Perkins from Psycho?

anthony

 

4) Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

rebecca

This book begins with an eerie feeling, suspense and I soon wanted to know, what exactly happened at Manderly? Then the story is narrated by a young woman and I was hooked immediately because of her timid, self-doubting nature. The story then turns into tale so frightening you won’t sleep well.

I watched the movie afterwards and it didn’t disappoint.

rebeccaaaaaa

5) This is how you lose her by Junot Diaz

this is how you lose her

The voice of Yunor is catchy and the stories easily flow. After a point the Spanglish  feels normal and you just continue to read. I wonder what’s Diaz’s next, especially after the recent allegations.  On this note, Do you think a writer’s work must be treated separately from them as person? (It was difficult for me to read V.S. Naipaul, I just couldn’t get rid of his comments from my head but I read Miguel Street and A House for Mr. Biswas and thought they were good works.)

6) Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth

philip

‘Shame isn’t for writers. You have to be shameless.’- Philip Roth

This book will take you through the guilt, shame and anger of a Jew boy.

7) The Marriage Plot by Jeffry Eugenides

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I had heard a lot of Jeffry Eugenides, I happened to watch ‘Virgin Suicides’. The story intrigued and puzzled me. I had heard so much about his book ‘Middlesex’, I have half-read it, whatever I read of it was good. The Marriage Plot is about relationships among other things, the three main protagonists are memorable and relatable. Eugenides effortlessly moves the past and present in this book.

I recommend watching this interesting discussion between Zadie Smith and Eugenides here.

8) Leila by Prayaag Akbar

leilaaa

This cover is of the Indian version. Had read rave reviews so I decided to read it. It didn’t disappoint. You can read Prayaag’s interview here. It is being adapted into  Netflix show. The cover of its UK version is out and I love it!

mm

 

9) Fever by Robin Cook

rob

A decade ago, I was hooked to Cook’s medical thrillers. I revisited this book of his to observe the basics of storytelling. Scene setting, pacing, character introduction and development, showing vs telling, dialogues, plot development and more. Genre fiction/Popular fiction is often looked down on by literary readers but I think there’s a lot to learn from them. It’s tough to write intriguing stories filled with suspense, drama, characters that make you so invested in the story that you want to turn the page.

10) Serious Men by Manu Joseph

serous men

I had read his second book ‘Illicit happiness of other people’ first, I had loved it. Manu Joseph believes in entertaining the reader. His second book has a hook, we want to know why Unni killed himself, in his first ‘Serious Men’ we root for Ayyan, Oja and his son. We know father and son are upto something. The plot gets interesting  as we are introduced to two intellectual rivals in the Institute of Theory and Research. A workplace love story brews and adds a twist to the story. 

It will be adapted by Sudhir Mishra. Read here.

11) The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

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The Buried Giant is Ishiguro’s latest. It is a fantasy novel following an old married couple in search of their son. It is filled with warriors, ogres, a dragon and more. I liked the book but Never Let Me Go was and will always be the best.

12) The Book Thief

book thief

Currently reading this. So far so good.

This exchange between Markus and Tishani is insightful.


 

ii) Articles (Selected):

  1. Veere di Wedding film review by Harnidh Kaur
  2. The World of Raymond Chandler and The Big Sleep
  3. Michael Ondaatje’s Speech
  4. Jane Austen’s unfinished novel ‘Sanditon’ to be adapted into a TV series
  5. We Need to Stop Leaving Women Out of Discussions of Latin American Literature

  6. Emily Nemens Has Big Plans for The Paris Review and She’s Taking Submissions

  7. Robert Galbraith’s New Book ‘Lethal White’ Is Coming Out In September 2018 & It’s Sure To Be A Must-Read For J.K. Rowling Fans

  8. In Conversation: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

  9. Through the lens, darkly: Bergman at 100
  10. Remembering Ashapurna Debi, Who Penned Universal Stories in Bangla

  11. 39 Women Who Write Nonfiction

  12. The One Story and the Many – by Anjum Hasan

  13. First Woman Wins the Strega Prize in Fifteen Years
  14. Empress Nur Jahan and the politics of erasure in modern India
  15. How a Malayali couple brought Russian literary magic to Kerala
  16. The Adventurous Writer Who Brought Nancy Drew To Life
  17. Preti Taneja’s ‘awe-inspiring’ reimagining of King Lear wins Desmond Elliott prize

  18. Girl, Interrupted, 25 years later
  19. Sarah Jessica Parker’s Literary Imprint Takes Off  (Read the review of the book )

  20. 8 Memoirs By Women With Unconventional Jobs

  21. Jon McGregor: ‘I have never been asked how I juggle writing and fatherhood’

  22. From Urdu to English: Translator Musharraf Ali Farooqi chronicles his journey
  23. Mike McCormack wins €100,000 International Dublin literary award with one-sentence novel

  24. The lost art of public reading

  25. Elena Ferrante describes the writing process behind the Neapolitan novels

  26. 17-year-old student behind Bhopal’s two-month-long Agatha Christie Crime Festival
  27. If I wake up at an early hour and write 500 words each day I will, in time, have a book’

  28. How Satyajit Ray’s The Alien hovered above Hollywood before nosediving into oblivion

  29. Fantasy fiction is sidelined, despite the wisdom it has to offer

  30. Olga Tokarczuk wins Man Booker Prize 2018

  31. Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie wins 2018 Women’s Prize for Fiction

  32. A literary collective is translating 100 classic novels across Indian languages
  33. 2018 COMMONWEALTH SHORT STORY PRIZE SHORTLIST
  34. 12 MYSTERY NOVELS FOR FANS OF LITERARY FICTION

  35. Philip Roth Dies at 85

  36. Breathing Space: The body my immigrant parents may never understand

  37. October film review by Sayantan Ghosh

iii) Talks/ Interviews: 

  1. Prayaag Akbar and Manu Joseph
  2. Manu Joseph and Tishani Doshi
  3. Adichie addresses the undergraduate Harvard Class 2018
  4. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Be The Change

  5. Philip Roth unleashed

 

iv) Films (Including adaptations):

  1. Black Swan

black swan

2. Birdman

bridman

3. August: Osage County

osage

More from Hollywood seen this year: No Escape, Get Out, Rebel in the Rye, Eat- Pray-Love, Ex Machina, The Plurge, The Trial, Rebecca, The Monkey’s Paw, My friend Dahmer, Call me by your name

Bollywood: Hichki, Hindi Medium, Sanju, Veere De Wedding, October

REPEAT VIEWS in 2018 of films seen in previous years:

Hollywood: Room, The Namesake, Red Dragon: Hannibal Lecter, The Reader, We need to talk about Kevin, The Kite Runner, Whiplash, The Machinist, A Clockwork Orange, Never Let Me Go, Shutter Island, Shawshank redemption, The Shining, Frances Ha, Mistress America, Cracks, Insomnia, The Boy in Striped Pyjamas, The Pianist, Dunkirk, A Beautiful Mind, Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, Revolutionary Road, Midnight in Paris, Misery, Arrival, Adaptation, 12 Angry Men (1957).

Bollywood: Titli, Masaan, Oye lucky lucky oye, Queen, Piku, Dangal

Malayalam: Drishyam

Irani: A Separation

Marathi: Sairat

Japanese: Norwegian Wood


v) Sitcoms:

  1. Brooklyn Nine-Nine

amy

2. Luther (Detective/Crime)

luther

Other sitcoms/drama series I have enjoyed are Modern Family, Veep, Fresh off the boat, The Goldbergs, Blackish, Black Mirror, Greys Anatomy, Friends, Hercule Poirot series…


 

vi) Short stories (Selected):

  1. The Husband Stitch by Carmen Maria Machado
  2. Tentacle by Ang Kia Yee
  3. The Cathedral by Raymond Carver (Listen to  the narration here)
  4. As You Would Have Told It to Me (Sort Of) If We Had Known Each Other Before You Died

  5. The Night Doctor by Javier Marias
  6. Joan of Mazgaon by Zenisha Gonsalves

vii) Poems (Selected):

  1. Backwards by Warsan Shire
  2. Do you love me by Robert Wrigley
  3. Chicken Dinner by Suhit Kelkar
  4. Cardi B Tells Me about Myself by Eboni Hogan
  5. Mute by Charlie Smith
  6. Reclamation by Rohan Chhetri
  7. Buzz by Michael Creighton 
  8. Offline by Neharika Gupta
  9. 6:59 am by Shane Koyczan
  10. Ode to Red Lipstick by Megan Falley
  11. Blame by Laura E. Davis
  12. June Rain by Nabanita Kanungo
  13. Abortion Poem by Laurin Becker Macios

  14. Swear Words by Aimee Nezhukumatathil
  15. The Poet’s Occasional Alternative by Grace Paley 
  16. Open for Business by Ranjit Hoskote
  17. Marriage by Ellen Bass
  18.  Guidelines by Lisa Suhair Majaj 
  19. The Art of Disappearing by Naomi Shihab Nye 
  20. Let me put it this way by Simon Armitage 

 

viii) Songs:

1) Never let me go sound track- The pier by Rachel Portman

I listen to this tune on loop.

gg

2) Madari – Clinton Cerejo feat Vishal Dadlani & Sonu Kakkar, Coke Studio @ MTV Season 

NEHA

 

3) Rang de basanti

rang

4) Abhi mujh me kahin

abhi mujh mei

5) Faded

hh

6) Girls Like You by Maroon 5 ft. Cardi B

lilyyy

7) New Rules by Dua Lipa

dua

More songs that made this year bearable:  Beat it, Saad Lamjarred- LM3ALLEM, Maston ka Jhund, Slow motion angreza, Ziddi dil, Dhaakad from Dangal, Patakha guddi, Koi kahe kehta rahe, Bumbro, Ambarsariya, Bahara, Malhari…

These are only some of the songs that have made the first half of 2018.


ix) Writing Prompts:

  1. Visual Verse, a lit zine edited by Preti Taneja

Every month, they come out with a different image. That image is the source, the text is upto you.

   2. Eclectica’s word specials

Eclectica is one of the most reputed magazines. Every issue they have word prompts. Four words.


x) Deal with rejection/self-doubt:

Esme’ Wang’s Encouragement Notes

Signed up for this, as I figured why not? They have been really useful. Will helps in times you doubt your ability.


xi) Exciting news of writers I admire:

  1. Suhit Kelkar’s chapbook ‘Centaur Chronicles’ has been released

suhit

2. Tanuj Solanki’s book ‘Diwali in Muzaffarnagar’ has received rave reviews

diwaliii3. Rheea Mukherjee’s forthcoming book

Rheea4. Arjun Rajendran won the Charles Wallace Fellowship for  Creative Writing 2018

His poem ‘Marie Gertrude’ at House of Words.

arjun

5. Manu Bhattathiri’s forthcoming book

Manu

6. Jhilmil Breckenridge’s book has just released

reclamation

7. Soniah Kamal’s book is available for pre-order, it will be released on Jan 15th 2019

soniah

8. Tejaswini Apte- Rahm’s story has just been published in Helter Skelter

helter

9. Lavanya Shanbhogue-Arvind has released a new magazine along with writer Smita Sahay

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10. Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar’s next book from Speaking Tigers

hasnda

11. Anjum Hasan’s latest book

anjummm

12. Tishani Doshi’s next book, a novel titled ‘Small Days and Nights’ will be published by Bloomsbury in 2019

13. Poornima Laxmeshwar’s poetry book is forthcoming from Bombaykala Books

14. Mihir Vatsa’s book ‘A Highland in the East’ will be published by Speaking Tiger Books next year.

15. Manjiri Indurkar was a finalist for the Baltic Residency, Sweden, 2018, and is the winner of the Villa Sarkia Residency, Finland, 2018. Her memoir will be published by Westland next year.

16. Sharanya Manivannan’s novel will be out soon.

17. Sumana Roy’s latest book, Missing, a novel is out from Aleph

18. Urvashi Bahuguna won the TOTO creative writing in english 2018.

19. Sohini Basak’s first book ‘We Live in the Newness of Small Differences’ is out now.

20. Roanna Gonsalves’ short story collection ‘The Permanent Resident’ is now published by Speaking Tiger Books in India titled ‘Sunita De Souza goes to Sydney and other stories’.

roanna

21. Akil Kumarasamy, former fiction editor at Jaggery Lit Mag, has her debut book published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

half gods


xii) Call for submissions:

  1. RL Poetry Award 2018

rl poetry award

2. Best Indian Poetry 2018

rlfpa

Linda Ashok’s post (As on FACEBOOK): I am now ready to accept submissions of poetry published in all languages of India and in English by Indian poets who are not away from India for more than 5 years now. 

Either poets can submit their works or editors of magazines and journals (online/print) can nominate works for consideration. No works from solo or group anthologies will be accepted.

*Poems must be published between Jan to Dec 2017.*

Send upto 5 works to my FB page at Linda Ashok. Works published in regional languages must be accompanied by translations in English. Please ensure that such translations are perfect as they’ll be judged on the basis of what the translations will offer.

Please be aware that all copyright concerns must be already taken care of by the poets/editors concerned.

NO HAIKU/SENRYU/MONOSTITCH

Poems will be selected on the basis of merit alone and not my personal relations, so do not approach me otherwise.

DEADLINE: AUG 1, 2018
There’s NO FEE/NO PAY. AUTHORS & EDITORS & MAGAZINES, all will be duly ACKNOWLEDGED.

3. Juggernaut Contest- Plot Number Two Journal

1 2

4. TOTO award for creative writing 2019

5. Srinivas Rayaprol Poetry Prize 2018

srinivas


xiii) Dance -choreography

A choreography of Galti Se Mistake that i enjoyed.

g

 

Muqabala- Dance Champions MJ5

MJ


xiv) Comedy

Why tabla players are never respected by Kenny Sebastian

tabla

When You Meet Your Ex’s New Girlfriend (ft. Karlie Kloss)

super


 

Hope this post is helpful and wish you a very fruitful rest of 2018!

New story published- The Muse

Celeste heard vessels being moved around. She watched the lioness devouring the deer. Alone. Something looked odd about the lioness devouring the deer all by herself. No cubs. She wondered if Maya and her husband wanted to have kids. Maya returned with a glass of Fanta, she gave it to Celeste and then wiped her hands with the towel she held in the other hand. ‘Can you promise to keep a secret if I help you?’ Her eyes pleaded and Celeste wondered if the secret had anything to do with their family planning. What if she told her she wanted to have kids but her husband didn’t as they would be a hindrance to his art? She had heard he was quite severe.

Read the full story in Coldnoon

Open for Business

Received this beauty today.

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Naturally, I read ‘Open for Business’ first.

The note about the poem at the end of the book says:

‘Hanv saiba poltoddi voita’ (‘I’m going across the river’), a Konkani song indelibly associated with Goa, belongs to the genre of deknni, a modern musical form that uses folk imagery and allusions. ‘Hanv saiba’ was composed by the Goan musician Carlos Eugenio Ferreira (1860-1926) in the last decade of the nineteenth century. The protagonist of the song is a temple dancer who tried to convince a boatman to take her across a river, to where a wedding celebration is in progress, and where she wishes to perform. The riverine boundary is a coded reference to the continual shifting of the border between Portuguese-ruled Goa and the Hindu territories that neighboured it between the sixteenth and the eighteenth centuries, especially during the Old and the New Conquests. For people in Goa, this meant the division of families and communities, the fraying of older social relationships and the emergence of new solidarities.