“Tongue of Slip” by C P Belliappa

I simply loved this book as it made me chuckle from time to time. My wife mentioned that it has been so long since she saw a book elicit such a response from me! The book I talk of is called, ” Tongue of Slip: Looking Back On Life With Humour” by C.P. Belliappa, published by Rupa Publications in 2014.

When it was first published, little would the author have known that his book would bring so much cheer in the dreadful times we are living in. I would heartily recommend this book of light humor to anyone looking to cheer up in these stressed times. It is something like the “Buck U Uppo” made famous by Wodehouse, if you get what I mean!

Let’s start with the author. C. P. Belliappa? The name sounds familiar, you may think. Isn’t he the guy who used to write “middles” in the Deccan Herald amongst other publications? Or wait! Is he the guy you met in Goa?? The well known Charlie Peter??? But you need to read the book to find out for yourself.

Writing a fiction novel is not easy. Writing a short story, I consider even more difficult. Writing a well-crafted ” middle” has to take the cake! It looks easy but it is not, take it from me. C P Belliappa has mastered this art and this book is perhaps based on some of them fleshed out in more detail.

I am sure these tales ( over 50 in number) from locales ranging from his beloved Coorg to Chennai to China will hold your attention as they did mine. There are delightful nuggets in there but I don’t want to spoil your reading.

Look out for stories about the chap who was hungry all the time while at school; the prankster at college; the Pomeranian with a huge appetite for food and more; and the sales girl trying to flog a time share deal as if her life depended on it (which possibly was the case – of her budding career, if not her life!)

Thank you, Mr Belliappa. You made me laugh spontaneously on reading your stories. I bet this would be a common reaction amongst many more who will read your book.

Highly recommended!

Storytelling Podcasts

Guess what? I have got hooked to listening to podcasts. Sure, I had heard of podcasts even a decade ago but at that time my focus was on writing. So I used to read a lot and write as much as I could but I didn’t really listen to podcasts. It was only recently that my attention was drawn to podcasts by none other than WordPress which I have been using for my blogs for years together.

I saw that blog posts in WordPress could be converted without too much effort to very basic podcasts! I found this quite interesting and made one myself. A Book Review of ” The Girl Who Lived” by Christopher Greyson using Anchor. This excited me in a big way.

Could I convert some of my short stories to podcasts? I had to find out ! So I explored the world of short stories and podcasts. It was thrilling to find there are many websites devoted to podcasts of short stories. For example, I discovered this website from Bustle called 10 Storytelling Podcasts You Need To Listen To If You Love Short Stories!! Bustle is part of Bustle Digital Media, said to be the fastest growing publisher in modern media with 84 million readers!

To start with I explored The Moth and loved the very first story I heard. It was by Stacy Bader Curry in the podcast In Service Of in Moth Radio Hour.

I also enjoyed The Short Story Masterclass by The Aerogramme Writers Studio. In this, leading writers share their experience and thoughts on writing short stories in a podcast series produced by Thresholds, an online international short story forum based in the University of Chichester in collaboration with Small Wonder Short Story Festival.

There is so much there to learn and enjoy. If you have time – while on a flight, on a road trip, while waiting for someone, or just being free to do what you like- do dip into a short story using the podcast mode. There are so many talented people out there who have the ability to tell a story so well that you will ask for more.

“Tongue-In -Cheek: The Funny Side Of Life” by Khyrunnisa A.

If you are looking for delightful light reading, a book to pass time and, and improve your mood in the bargain- here’s one for you. As the title suggest, “Tongue-In-Cheek: The Funny Side Of Life” is a collection of short stories or should I say “middles” by Khyrunnisa which indeed capture the funny side of life.

Not everyone has the talent to see and describe a situation with humor. On reading this book, I can vouch that Khyrunnisa most certainly has this gift in abundant measure. She writes of situations which you and I have come across in our daily lives: finding a snake in the garden; the rush for the wedding feast; the mandatory jewelry worn in weddings; booking a seat in a bus the Indian way; the perils of maintaining an aquarium (more commonly known as a fish tank in most Indian homes), amongst many others.

In most of these anecdotes, the author brings in her husband thereby allowing us readers to take a peek into moments of married life that most readers would relate to quite easily! She jokes easily about the way many people pronounce -or rather mispronounce -her name. The best part of this book is that you can dip into it at your convenience. Reading story No: 10 long before Story No: 1 doesn’t matter in the least. Not being connected with each other, they can be read in any random order.

I understand that the author is an Asst Professor of English and has written many books for children. After reading this book, I, for one, would love to read more of these tongue in cheek stories from Khyrunnisa. I liked her wit and writing style . Here’s hoping someday she will write and publish another book -as entertaining as this one!

“The Writer’s Digest Handbook of Short Story Writing Volume II” : Ed. Jean M. Fredette

All of us who love writing, and reading of course, can do with periodic reminders on how to hone our writing skills. That there is no end to learning is well known. In this context, I was happy to recently read, ” The Writer’s Digest Handbook of Short Story Writing: Volume II“, edited by Jean M. Fredette. 

This collection of articles on short story writing was published by the well-known Writers Digest Books in 1991. I came across this book in our Club library. It is striking that all the points made still remain relevant though nearly three decades have gone by since the book was first published. It is edited by Jean M. Fredette , who was an Acquisitions Editor of Writer’s Digest and has edited several of their books.

The only thing that has changed has been the process of submitting a manuscript. While the principles remain pretty much the same, much of the process has got simplified thanks to the progress in technology. We can now submit manuscripts over the internet, no longer being bound to print and send the manuscript in physical form in many cases. However, do check the submission guidelines mentioned by the publisher.

Seven chapters encompass a wealth of material in this book, covering sections such as, ” Getting Started”, ” Craft and Technique”, and ” Marketing The Short Story”. Each of the chapters have contributions from distinguished authors who have generously shared their experience and expertise. Principal amongst them are Adela Rogers St. John, Lawrence Block, and John Updike.

From very basic points which we sometimes overlook ( like repeating words/phrases so often that they jar) to more sophisticated aspects like Sentence Structure, Transitions, and Dialogue, this book has tips for the novice and the experienced writer alike.

Reading this book reinforced in me why writing is really a craft. The material in this volume really applies for any kind of writing . It is not restricted to short story writing as the title implies.

“Life In The City” Work In Progress After NaNoWriMo 2014

I am delighted that I successfully completed NaNoWriMo 2014 where the challenge was to write a novel of 50,000 words during the calendar month of November.

” Life In The City” is a collection of short stories, 14 in all, which capture different aspects of life in a city in contemporary India. Since I live in Bengaluru ( recently made the official name for the erstwhile Bangalore) most of my stories tend to be set here. I guess the issues are the same in different cities of India. While the stories are largely a figment of my imagination, I must confess that the inspiration for at least a few of them came from real life incidents as reported in the daily newspapers.

The stories feature a wide variety of characters and situations which I hope most readers will be able to easily relate to. They involve, amongst others, an elderly woman who gets a fresh lease of life; a bored housewife caught up, thanks to her addiction for the internet, in a net of deceit; and, a couple who settle down in Bengaluru to come across ghosts from the past.

This is now work in progress and I hope to share more details of this project with time.

“Life In The City”

As mentioned in many posts in this blog, November finds me busy with NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month, an international event in which we aim to write a novel of 50,000 words in the calendar month of November. The rules permit the writing of short stories too as long as the collection has a common theme. This year, like in 2012 when I did an anthology of short stories called, “A Bouquet From India”, I have embarked on writing a collection of short stories once again.

The common theme is that they are all set in the cities of India, a land I know best having lived in different parts of this vast country, all my life. It was natural then for me to select, ” Life In the City” as the title for this year’s effort. Continue reading ““Life In The City””

Stock Take on Writing Projects

Ok, the A to Z Challenge is over, my third novel, “Let The Dead Stay Dead ” has been released on Wattpad, and NaNoWriMo is still months away. This is a good time to stock take on my on-going writing projects. This exercise which I do from time to time, not only keeps readers informed of my work but more importantly acts as a compass for me to prioritize my time and energies. I would advocate all writers should do the same, with the frequency of such a stock take dependent on their specific requirements.

Continue reading “Stock Take on Writing Projects”

Interesting Links

A confirmed web surfer, I am always on the hunt for things that may help me improve my writing.  Here are a few things which caught my attention over the last week:

  • “The Emotion Thesaurus” by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi is an interesting dive into what are the giveaways when people express emotions. Designed for the writer to be factually correct when he/she captures the moods of their characters, and writes about their body language and mannerisms, this book is truly one of its kind. A must for the book shelf of every serious writer.

Continue reading “Interesting Links”