Haiku to you Thursday: “Hum”

Hum and chirp: dawn song. /

Bang and warble: midday refrain. /

Sigh and buzz: dusk coda.

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Filed under 2016, Haiku to You Thursday, poetry by author

Writing tip Wednesday: “Agent to consider”

New Literary Agent Alert: Amanda Jain of Inklings Literary


Amanda Jain

Amanda Jain

About Amanda: After earning a BA in English, Amanda worked in the trade department at W.W. Norton for seven years before leaving to pursue graduate studies. She graduated in 2011 with a MA in the history of decorative arts. Amanda then joined Inklings Literary in 2014, first as Michelle’s assistant. She is now building her client list. Find her on Twitter.

She is seeking: historical fiction (in all genres), women’s / book club / upmarket fiction, romance (particularly historical, suspenseful, or with a comedic bent), mysteries (particularly historical or cozy, or historical cozies), and narrative nonfiction in the areas of social history, archaeology, art history, material culture, etc. She is also interested in select young adult and middle grade projects with unique hooks and a strong voice.

In all cases, what Amanda is most looking for is a story that completely immerses the reader in the world of the book. She wants to feel the sun on her shoulders, smell the smoke of the battlefield, and hear the horses galloping in the distance. Amanda is NOT the agent to query with picture books, memoirs, self-help, poetry, erotica, science fiction and fantasy, horror, or inspirational fiction.

How to submit: To e-query, type “Query (Agent Name): (Book Title)” in the subject line to query(at)inklingsliterary(dot)com. No attachments. In the body of the email, send a query letter that includes :the title, genre, and word count of your project, a brief blurb about the story, a brief bio including any publishing credits, the first 10 pages of your manuscript, and a brief synopsis (1-2 pages). “Our response time varies for queries, but the general response time is within 3 months for queries, and 4 months for manuscripts. If you have not received an answer for your query after 3 months,” the agency is not interested in the project.

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Filed under 2016, writing tip, Writing Tip Wednesday


Even the sunrise looked like a comma to the folks of Run-On.

Even the sunrise looked like a comma to the folks of Run-On.

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Filed under 2016, cartoon by author, CarToonsday

Monday morning writing joke: “Written up”

Three candidates for a position in a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing were sitting on a bench, each looking at the comments made on his writing sample used as part of the application.

First student: “Mine says I would be better suited to writing user’s manuals for consumer products than creative writing.”

Second student: “Mine says, ‘The convolution of your writing is such that one can only assume that you would better suited for a position at the bar than in the MFA program.”

First student: “I hope they meant law school.”

They both chuckled then turned to the third student. Finally, the second student asked: “What did you yours say?”

Third student: Mine says that ‘from your writing sample we can only assume that English must be your second language and that you have only taken it up recently.’”

“Wow!” said the first and second students in unison.

“Yeah,” said the third student, “and to think I plagiarized from Nabokov.”

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Computer science script for $15,000

Google & The Black List offer $15,000 for scripts focused on Computer Science



Google, the online giant, is partnering with The Black List to offer financial grants in support of developing scripts centered on changing the image of computer science and computer scientists in pop culture. The submission process begins today and runs through July 15.

Beginning in the fall, the script site will grant up to $15K to three screenwriters — one feature and two episodic pilots — as they work to craft their scripts over a six-month period. At the end, each writer will present their work to Google and address how the grant was used to advance the projects. Writers will retain all rights to the work. Writers with scripts on The Black List site are also eligible.

This project is part of an initiative from Google’s Computer Science Education in Media program to encourage and inspire young people, especially girls and minorities — who historically have been underrepresented in the field — to not only use technology but also to create it.

Google would like to see if there were more movies about computer sciences that weren’t the stereotypical nerd movie. Are you an aspiring screenwriter? Do you want to work for Google? If so, Google will actually pay you to write a movie script.

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Filed under 2016, computer, contest

Netflix for books

The woman who is trying to create a Netflix for books

By Neelam Raaj


Chiki Sarkar hates being called a disruptor but that’s exactly what she’s doing to the opaque, incestuous world of Indian publishing. Along with Durga Raghunath, who brings the digital smarts, Sarkar has co-founded Juggernaut, a digital publishing house. She spoke to Neelam Raaj on why she wants to use tech to give dead-tree books a new lease of life.

You’re pitching Juggernaut as India’s first phone publisher. Did you have to rethink the book for the small screen?

When the idea of Juggernaut first came to me in December 2014, I thought about what the phone can do that the book can’t, and I thought Sunny Leone – delicious stories on the screen. But we’re also turning her stories into a physical book. The idea is – Can the physical and digital talk to each other? Can I take the knowledge of who is going to buy our books on the phone and sell them other books?

Sunny will be appointment reading – one story on your mobile at 10pm every night for a week. But there’s a range of reading on the app, including short works of non-fiction, long serialized forms, and a set of short stories that you can buy one of. The cost will be around half of a physical book’s.

What will be your physical vs digital mix?

If we bring 100 books to digital, about 30 or 40 of those will have physical copies too. It will depend mostly on the book and the writer. When we publish authors Arundhati Roy, Prashant Kishore, Twinkle Khanna, Svetlana Alexievich, we’ll publish both physical and digital. But young authors will be tried and tested on digital first. On the phone, we think, people will come for areas around love, sex and romance – stuff you want privacy for. Crime and fantasy tend to naturally move to electronic so it will be a big part of our list. And there’s always going to be a big component of celebrities. Also, I think the only way to get great books in India is to make them up – I did that in Penguin (she was editor-in-chief) too. For instance, I knew I wanted a book on Aarushi so I went in search of a writer.

Do you see yourself as a disruptor in publishing?

I hate this word. Like any other publisher, I think of only one thing – how can I sell more books? Physical books will never die but can I add another way of thinking about publishing books, and can I use it to get more people to read more of my physical list? I’d be very happy if my physical sales go up because of digital.

But I’ll admit I have become increasingly impatient with the status quo. I’m 38, and not 60. I don’t want to be a copout. India is full of people who have good ideas and are following them. Thirty years down the line, I would kick myself silly if I didn’t do this.

Why would an author publish with Juggernaut and not self-publish with Amazon?

The question you should be asking is: why is an author coming to me and not, say a Penguin, Harper or a Picador? We’re not competing with Amazon; we’re a traditional publisher who is asking interesting questions about digital.

How did you get Sunny Leone to write erotica?

We wanted her to write on sex. She told us, ‘Look I don’t want to go all the way erotic. I’ll be sexy, but not pornographic.’ So we kept Fifty Shades of Grey as a marker but we wanted the stories to be empowering for women.

Her stories have a wife asking her husband for sex and being turned down; an overweight girl who fancies a guy who ignores her but things change when she loses weight, and then she changes her mind too.

What is more exciting now – Indian fiction or non-fiction?

Non-fiction, and it’s been that way for the last 6-7 years. We’re in that stage in the life of the country that we want to tell stories about ourselves. The more interesting fiction is coming from Indian languages, Gujarati, Marathi and Tamil.

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Filed under 2016, books, e-book, ebook publishing

Photo finish Friday: “Stack ’em high”

A stack of pallets that would be taller than the car if placed beside it.

A stack of pallets that would be taller than the car if placed beside it.

Held in place with the luck of one strap. Not sure this is speed hump worthy.

Held in place with the luck of one strap. Not sure this is speed hump worthy.

The things you find in your neighborhood on a Friday morning. Parked on the wrong side of the road, too far away from the curb, but those pale in comparison to what is strapped to the top and held in place by a single strap. There were child seats in the car. Two of them. I only hope the children aren’t riding in the car when it eases away from curb and over the speed hump that awaits it, about where the orange cone sits in the lower photo. Maybe the car stopped because of the speed hump. What story or scene could you make of these photos?

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Filed under 2016, photo by David E. Booker, Photo Finish Friday