Category Archives: Guest Blogs

Life is Bigger (A guest post)

Today is the final post of the series of guest posts on fear. Today’s blogger is Belinda, someone I have known through the blogoworld for sometime now. I really enjoy her wonderful posts and her insights into life and I am happy to provide a peek into her thoughts through this post. Thank you Belinda for bringing out the silver lining around fear via this post.

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Contributor: Belinda O.

october-2016I encourage my cats’ fear of strangers, at least, I don’t discourage it. If a stranger comes to the door, particularly someone carrying tools and wires or other unknown entities, the cats hightail it down the stairs and under the bed. There they’ll stay until they’re certain it’s safe, and if they fall asleep (which they often do), even longer than that.

Fear helps keep my cats safe. If I’m not home, I want them hiding if a stranger enters. In the same way, I follow my fears to a metaphorical space-under-the-bed at times as well. Call me overly-cautious, but I believe in better safe than sorry.

That’s fine when the fears involve dark alleys, like the one that leads to the dumpster behind my work place. I’m supposed to take the garbage out every night before I leave, but I don’t do it after dark. It’s deserted and a set-up for danger. If my boss forced the issue and told me to “take the damn garbage out anyway,” I’d quit. Fortunately, she has a healthy respect of – fear of – dark alleys herself.

As a child I had unnamed fears as a result of abuse in a time before my memory really began. I say unnamed, I refer to it as a time without memory, but the fears actually were very specific, I just didn’t know how to verbalize it. As time went on the memory became duller and the fears broader.

I held myself back from so much that could cause ridicule or shame, and in doing so, I also held myself back from doing things that could have enhanced my life and increased my self-esteem. I didn’t see it that way, however, preferring to stay safe.

As an adult, I fully faced the pain, but lifetime habits are hard to break. The fear remained.

It took an incident that was surreal on the one hand and starkly real on the other to break down some of what continued to hold me back, fears that were so intrinsically a part of me I didn’t recognize them. I still am challenged with some of it. I don’t know if it will ever end, and I pray I never face what I faced before to stop it completely.

That fear is bigger now than the one I faced since I was learning to walk. Still, I refuse to be felled by either.

Life is bigger than our fears, it is bigger than our failures. It is made up of so much more than what we believe in when we’re younger, and there is always more to discover.

Life is bigger than our fears.

About Belinda:

Belinda works with social media & public relations for small businesses and non-profit organizations, with a growing focus on diversity and minority perspective.  Prior to this she worked with individuals with developmental disabilities.

Belinda believes in the power of words, written, spoken and unspoken. She believes what we write and what we create unleashes who we are, even to our own surprise.

Blogger Links:


Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions expressed in the guest post are solely the guest’s. The owner of this blog makes no representation as to the originality, accuracy or completeness of any information in this post.


Fear and Faith: The Two Faces of the Coin Called Life (A guest post)

We are well into week 3 of January. I am here again with the third guest post on Fear, as part of the series of guest posts. Today’s blogger is Seoti,. someone who I had a chance to live with during my college days. She has beautiful penmanship and that comes out very clearly in today’s post.

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Contributor: Seoti Bhattacharyya

img_20161213_190918“Heads, I win; tails, you lose!” Fear used to say, every single time. Life for me was a long, dark stretch of fear-filled path for years. Some of these fears, like the fear of ghosts and monsters, were born and nurtured in my mind’s dark recesses, fathered by an overwrought imagination; some were born out of external events, caused by external agents – miscreants, child abusers, bullies in school – that tried to rob me of all that was good in me and left dark impressions on my mind. These fears started to rule my waking thoughts, my hours of sleep, my every move, my very life, in fact; my dreams turned into nightmares, I lost my sleep, my peace of mind, my confidence; I even lost my ability to help others for a time – no wonder that; how could I think of helping others if I couldn’t help myself? My life became a veritable hell, filled with depression and fear, and I started to feel as if I was constantly descending into a bottomless abyss. I started to be afraid of going to school and facing bullies, of going out and facing people, afraid of predators prowling in human form, but I was equally afraid of staying at home, alone: the walls seemed to come rushing at me, smacking their gaping jaws, wanting to swallow me whole. My fears wouldn’t let me be, not even for a moment; they would chase me to the edge of my sanity and persistently try to push me over.

Not anymore, though. Fear doesn’t own me anymore; it doesn’t rule my life or dictate my every action. I’ve had a few good influences in my life, at various times; but if I’ve to name a single good influence that mattered a great deal more than the others, I’d have to name my ever-optimist mom as that influence. She has seen me through the most trying times, when even my shadow seemed to have left my company, so to say; she has taught me to remain unabashed even when I feel broken or shed tears; she says it’s normal to feel this way sometimes and that it doesn’t make me weak, not if I start to rebuild myself by picking up my broken pieces and gluing them together, using my experiences, into a new whole. She taught me to glean every bit of good from every single experience and use it to help myself and others. It is from her that I learnt that fear and faith are two faces of the same coin and that only faith can put one’s fears in check and help one overcome them. Mom taught me how to be so positive and full of faith in the power of good that, no matter what happens, I can let go of it like water off a duck’s back and go on with my own life, after taking the intended lesson; after all, stagnancy is death; but the fight to survive, putting one determined step in front of the other, is what defines life and makes it worth all the pain. I still have fears, quite a few of them, actually; but I’ve learned how not to let them become my masters.

I’ve changed; my experiences and my faith worked together to bring this change in me; I’d contemplated dying even, at times; but Time has healed my wounds, though the scars are there still, like the marks of pride of a battle-scarred knight; and what hasn’t killed me, has only made me stronger.

About Seoti:

Seoti Bhattacharyya used to work as an editorial assistant in a reputed publishing house in Kolkata; currently, she is preparing herself for PhD entrance and pursuing a Masters in English in distance mode, while also enjoying being married. Writing short stories, poems and essays on various topics is her artistic pursuit; blogging is her way of making herself heard. She first started writing when she was twenty-five and since then, she has adhered to it seriously. She finds that writing helps her reach out to people and connect with them on a whole different level; therefore, she now thinks of writing as her purpose in life. She is an avid reader and horror, fantasy and detective/thriller fiction top her reading list. She has just started working on her first novel and finds it a mixed experience. Every fortnight or so, she takes time out of her schedule to write blogs on topics that interest her. Her hobbies are travelling, learning languages, listening to music and watching movies.

Blogger Links:

Blog | Twitter | LinkedIn

Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions expressed in the guest post are solely the guest’s. The owner of this blog makes no representation as to the originality, accuracy or completeness of any information in this post.



Slots are still open for Blurb On – the Blurbing event that I am hosting as part of publication of my second book, How I tamed the dragon named fear. If you’d like to participate, feel free to drop me a note using the contact form below.


Fear: My bae (A guest post)

This Saturday I bring you the second post of the series of guest posts on Fear that will be published on this blog through this month. Today’s contributor is Rachana, a very special friend. She reviewed the ARC of my second book, How I tamed the dragon named fear and called me up at 11.20 PM in the night to tell me how the book made her feel. It was the first time I was talking to her on phone and we ended up chatting past 12.30 AM. Both of us are wannabe authors – so the connect is natural. Thank you Rachana for the simplicity and honesty with which you wrote this post. May you conquer your fears over the course of time.

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Contributor: Rachana Sita

Fear: My bae

img-20170113-wa0000I feel privileged to talk about fear that I have known since childhood, more anything else.  It’s like a mole or scar on the face, which always exists and which will create unnecessary insecurity if given importance.

Even our shadow will leave us alone in the darkness but fear never had and never will. Of course, it’s like a possessive boyfriend who always claims to be with you but only triggers you, provides you insecurity and who only brings out the worst version of you.

And we get easily caught up in it – sometimes without even realizing and sometimes without knowing it and sometimes not knowing how to walk out of it.

I had many fears and I still have many. Fears also get upgraded with time. The older we get, the bigger fears we face.

I fear darkness.

I fear rejections.

I fear relationships.

I fear the unknown future.

And many other fears which will pop out anytime like an uninvited pimple.

If I were to pick, I can’t single out one particular incident when I was afraid. Fear has been a part of my everyday life. I am afraid of waking up late, getting late to work, not bringing the proper output which will please the boss, not being truthful to myself.

Fear suffocates me and sweats me while my heart starts racing like a sports car and I will blindly follow the orders of the fear.

No matter where I am whether – in the middle of traffic or a concert or in a meeting or on the stage hosting something or talking about something, if fear arises and takes charge- I’ll be doomed for that day making myself a clown and bagging some embarrassment or regrets. I even started rejecting many things because of this oh-so-normal fear.

And fear never comes alone. It always brings its best friend anxiety which would be the origin for many bad decisions. I don’t even want to talk about anxiety; it almost convinced me to go a psychiatrist.

Lately I realized that I was the one giving it so much importance. I was one letting it to take over my brain. I was the only one allowing it to me make stupid decisions.

And I strongly decided that I will recognize what sort of fear or anxiety I am facing and slam a door right on its face. I didn’t want to make it a friend or an enemy as both requires attention. It should be like spam message which will be deleted even without opening.

On an important note, I also used to be insecure to talk about my fears- I had a fear of being made fun of. But then I realized that talking about fears will only help to sweep them off with the broomstick just like cobwebs.

Finding the right problem will only helps to find the right solution as every problem comes with its own solution.

I believe that the pivotal thing which can be done is firstly to discover the existence of fear and then not giving it much importance and ignoring it like an ex-boyfriend.

Having fear is completely okay.

Everyone experience some kind of fears and it’s okay to have them unless you get steered blindly by the fear.

I congratulate Arpita on her second book which is also about fear (My favourite topic though). It is so wonderful and awesome to write about something which bugs everyone.  To share something which we learnt in our life and to spread positivity is very motivating. I wish you all the very best girl! Keep writing!

About Rachana

Rachana did Electrical Engineering. She worked in Wipro as a VLSI project engineer which rewired her brain and she decided to flourish her dream to be a writer. She writes short stories of fiction and fantasy. She is a newbie reader and loves the smell of the books. She loves coffee and always wanders in her fantasy-world where she finds many fascinating characters and stories. Her dream is to get identified by her fictional characters. She also loves travelling to new places.



Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions expressed in the guest post are solely the guest’s. The owner of this blog makes no representation as to the originality, accuracy or completeness of any information in this post.

Street Harassment: Fear of the Road (A Guest Post)

Today is the first post of a series of guest posts on Fear that will be published on this blog through this month. Today’s contributor is Pradita, who I have come to know through the world of blogging. Pradita is a wonderful woman. The best thing about her is that she is very clear in her opinion. Once again, thank you Pradita for writing this piece – I understand how much courage it takes to be able to share something like this in a public forum. Especially, in the light of the recent events in Bangalore, I think this conversation could not be better timed. More power to you!

||Guest Post||

Contributor: Pradita Kapahi

Street Harassment: Fear of the Road


Pradita Kapahi

There are millions of women out there, who’ll agree that its not easy being a woman in this country. We’ve idolized women in religion, we call them Devis, the Holy Mother and what not; we’ve given them the right to vote, the right to earn a living, the right to voice their opinions; the right to lead a dignified life…  But does it actually amount to anything in the face of the constant criticism and the comparisons we face in daily life?

How many of you women have been subjected to sexual harassment like child-abuse, rape, marital rape, molestation… or even something as seemingly harmless as eve-teasing or catcalling? I’m sure a lot of you will say you’ve had at least one of those happen to you. And if you haven’t, as a woman, had the misfortune of having experienced any of these, I’d say you are very lucky, and you should cherish yourself for being one of the unscarred women out there who are vastly, a minority. I’m glad you didn’t encounter these experiences. Not all experiences need to be ‘experienced‘ in life.

But today I don’t want to draw your attention to sexual harassment of the more severe kind. I’m here to talk about the grey area of eve-teasing, catcalling or street harassment and the fear it induces in women.

Catcalling? Street Harassment? Eve -teasing What’s that?

It’s when you get wolf-whistles or leery stares, gestures, or comments of a sexual or otherwise derogatory nature from random strangers on the road.

Whistling at someone is harassment?

Yes, it could be, if your intentions were wrong and if the woman in question was offended by it. And I’ll tell you my story and then you can decide why it is a form of sexual harassment.

I used to take a bus to work initially, before the Metro in my city started on that route, and city buses have always been crowded, stuffy and slow at rush hours. You could either avoid taking them and take the more expensive cabs and even more unsafe rickshaws, or just shut-up and hop onto one and suffer the two hour long ride…. and everything that came with it.

On one such occasion, I was sitting on an aisle seat and the bus was stuffed with commuters. So much so that one couldn’t even lift their hand without rubbing into another. Suddenly, I felt a hand brush along my thigh. I ignored it, thinking it must be an accident. Even if it was intentional, these things happened a LOT on buses, Metros and even on crowded roads to complain about. A girl learns to ignore them.

But the brushing happened several times, at various other places on my body. And each time my suspicion grew stronger, till the sixth-seventh time, when the ‘brushing’ reached my chest, I looked up angrily and spotted a leery looking man, who couldn’t have been older than me (I was 23 back then), staring down at me and obviously enjoying himself at my expense. I shouted at him, people around him looked angrily, but no one said a word to him….

10 minutes later he was at it again. Rubbing against my arm, my chest, my back (I’m being modest here) and there were several times when I told him off, but neither did he stop, nor did anyone else force him to. Like I said before, the bus was stuffed, so there was no way people around me could have missed just how many times I had angrily told this guy off. 

Around an hour later he got off at a stop mercifully and had the audacity of blowing me a kiss, which everyone around me saw but ignored. It wasn’t just unbelievable, it was downright disgusting the way he took pride in what he did. And the most incredible thing is, he was back on that same bus next day to repeat his misdemeanor, at which point I asked the bus driver to stop so I could get off. 

Back home I told my parents about what had happened. They were understandably enraged and aghast and told me to stop taking that route or stop taking that bus altogether, which is what I did. But the point is – “I” had to adjust my route and my way of living for that miscreant, when it should have been the other way around.

This is a prime example of a lewd gesture that is not exactly molestation but is not harmless like lewd looks or whistling. This is what you can label as street harassment.

And this is not the only time something like this happened to me. There were many other times. Like the one time when a middle aged man waved his ‘junk’ at me and my two girl-friends and followed us like that for a couple of blocks on his bike. Or the time when a middle aged man made catcalls and other sexually degrading gestures at me, yet again on a bus. Or that time when a guy grabbed my backside and then ran away when me and my sister chased him down. There are many more of such incidents, including some graver offences that I don’t wish to bring forth here. All of them happened in broad daylight. Because I was taught to never step out late into the night unescorted. Why? Because roads are no place for unescorted women.

But that one incident in the bus stayed with me for weeks on end because the guy was back to repeat it. That had never happened before to me, that someone could be back to just harass the same person again. For the first time in my life I was afraid of going to work, I was afraid of travelling even in crowded places, I was afraid of being a woman. I was afraid of the road…

What angered me most was not just that he did it and took pride in it, but also how helpless I felt about it. If I could only raise an alarm, get him thrown off the bus or report him to the police, this would have stopped. But do you know why women who are in my situation never report such incidents, or for that matter, never even go beyond warning such men –


 Of being rebuked…

Of being called a liar…

Of being followed by that man again only to extract much worse revenge…

Of being a child or a woman who needs to keep a dignified face in society…

Of encountering an unresponsive enforcement agency…

These are the reasons why many women across the world don’t report street-harassment. Eve-teasing, catcalling or street harassment is the often ignored part of sexual harassment. That’s because it is not as enraging and not as intrusive as the other forms of sexual abuse. It manifests more in the abstract rather than physical form, and its effect on the victim is also more in the form of mental trauma, but its effects can be very scarring for the victim. The fact is, it is a form of sexual harassment and it should be stopped.

Those incidents that your read about regarding acid attacks on women by road side romeos begin with street-harassment. Recently, a woman in Pune was stalked on the streets for weeks by an irate romeo who later murdered her. The story of her end began on the road. Many instances of sexual abuse begin from street harassment. It becomes even more relevant thus, to put a stop to it, because it could be a precursor for a much worse crime.

Right now, the law in India does not provide much by way of safety from street harassment. Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code gives very basic redressal in the form of imprisonment or fines for eve-teasing. Section 304 provides for assault against women. Frequent acid attacks led to the inclusion of Sections 326 A and 326 B into the Indian Penal Code which make the act of acid throwing or any attempt to do so a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment for several years. But the truth is such matters often go unreported because the law is rendered lame by an ineffective and unresponsive Enforcement Agency and Legal system.

Again I’ll take my own example. Did I go and report that guy or any of those things that happened to me? I didn’t. Why?  Because I knew reporting and taking legal action would be a long-drawn affair, which could further instigate the perpetrator to do something worse to me. And I’m a lawyer! If I have no faith in the law, I can’t imagine what a semi-literate woman who faces harassment on the streets would suffer in the face of unresponsive government agencies and an irate roadside-romeo.

The problem does not however lie in only the law or the enforcement agencies. Like I pointed out above, the law is there. What’s missing is the will to enforce it. And the will is missing because to a large extent we let it happen and suffer with it. Women are taught to ignore it. A woman will change her route to school/college/work but will not report it unless things got very serious. Men are taught to ignore it too, like the ones who were there the day I was on that bus. And let me be very honest, I haven’t seen women doing street harassment. I’m sorry if I’m ruffling some feathers here but that’s the truth from my POV.

Women, we have to teach ourselves to let this fear subside and take cudgels against this seemingly harmless crime. If a woman is afraid to take the road because of stalkers or lewd comments then that is a grave problem and a stigma on our society. We have to teach ourselves that it’s not okay to let it go. We must also help those who need our help to bring this change in the society – victims, the enforcement agencies, the media or the legislature. If you see someone being harassed, confront the perpetrator. Approach whoever you can and pester them to do something about it.

Be the change!

No one else will change for you!

Men, and if you are a woman who has done it, stop doing it or letting it happen before your eyes, and start respecting the privacy and lives of others! Your seemingly innocent diversion of singing ‘dhak, dhak karne laga‘ or ‘choli ke peeche kya hai‘ will not earn you brownie points with anyone. 9 out of 10 women will tell you that if a guy approaches them and gives them an honest compliment in a non-lewd manner, they like it. But waving your junk at us, or making sexual comments, gestures or sounds, is not the way to earn someone’s heart.

Your harmless ‘fun‘ could spell ‘fear’ for someone else…

About Pradita

Pradita Kapahi is a former lawyer and now freelancer based in Pune, India. She has a Bachelors and Masters, both in Law, from India, and had formerly worked in a Corporate Law Firm based in New Delhi. She took up blogging to hone her skills in creative writing and art. She loves reading, writing and storytelling, and her blog reflects just that. She hopes to write stories to enthrall and engage people, and yes, to make the world a better read place.

Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions expressed in the guest post are solely the guest’s. The owner of this blog makes no representation as to the originality, accuracy or completeness of any information in this post.


Guest Post: Will I have to run away after the launch of Mock, Stalk and Quarrel?

||Guest Post||

Contributor: Amrita Mukherjee, Author

amrita-mukherjeeA close friend of mine is truly worried for me these days. His concerns are not unfounded though. He’s read my story The Dress Code which is part of the anthology Mock, Stalk and Quarrel, just now published by Readomania, after a competition was held on satirical short stories under the title Mocktales.

My friend said he laughed a lot after he read the story. I think Readomania Publisher Dipankar Mukherjee also did laugh when he picked up my entry, so did Editor of the book Indrani Ganguly. But my friend believes that despite the peals it brings forth there is a possibility of either brickbats or bouquets after people have read my story.

“And if there are brickbats you might have to run away,” he said over coffee to me one day, still laughing.

“Like Arunima, the protagonist of my story?” I asked him.

I didn’t mind actually. Arunima ran away to the US, I might just hole up in some log cabin in a faraway forest reveling in the fact that I am being persecuted for a story I wrote and making headlines for that. In the process I would get to do some serious writing that is usually impossible between my mom watching TV serials in the highest volume possible, my six-year-old son needing constant attention, my fingers wandering off to Whatsapp and Facebook involuntarily and a thousand other worldly worries clouding my mind.

Still imagining myself sitting in a forest home completely incommunicado, I told my friend, with the customary know-it-all attitude that’s a must wear accessory if you have to survive in today’s world, “You can’t write satire if you don’t take on the establishment.”

animal-farmEven George Orwell, who wrote my all-time favourite satire Animal Farm, found it really tough to get his book published despite being an established journalist and author at that time. Since Orwell’s premise for the book was The Russian Revolution and through the allegory of the animal farm he proved that power corrupts and rights are violated, many publishers did not want to pick up the manuscript.  Even Orwell’s own publisher refused it after sitting on it for ages.

This was mainly because Orwell wrote the book between 1943 and 1944 and at that time UK had a wartime alliance with Soviet Union and publishers did not want to risk upsetting their government by taking on a book that criticized the Soviet Union. It is believed since Second World War ended and gave way to the Cold War the book also met with its phenomenal success.

I bought my first copy of Animal Farm for Rs 7 from a second-hand book stall on College Street. The stall was right in the corner of my college gate – then Presidency College now Presidency University. After stepping into the canteen of my college in the first year, that was mostly abuzz with heated political discussions over cigarettes and chai, I realized this book came up frequently in discussions and I was definitely not being able to contribute to the conversation since I hadn’t read Animal Farm.

It took me a day to finish this thin novel and it redefined the way I looked at politics, power and human relations since then.

The work of a satire – be it witty or serious- is to make one sit up and contemplate. Satire takes on the system from within, questions perceptions, breaks norms and sometimes even suggests alternatives.

That’s why writing satire isn’t easy. After all the dissatisfaction and drafting I went through to make The Dress Code stand on its head, I wonder how the journey has been for my 28 co-authors of Mock, Stalk and Quarrel?

I am sure they, like me, have gone through their moments of dissatisfaction and euphoria as they gave shape to their thoughts. More than I want to read my own story, I want to read theirs. Because that is the best part of an anthology by different authors – there is no method in the madness.

And when the madness is around satire you can’t help but embark on a tumultuous yet fascinating journey to the last page.

Looking forward to Mocking, Stalking and Quarreling together…and running away if necessary.

About the Book

mockMock, Stalk & Quarrel is a collection of 29 satirical stories, penned by prolific writers and bestselling authors, that attempt to mock, question, defy, and raise a voice against issues that matter. The stories were chosen from a nationwide contest conducted by Readomania and compiled in this collection that promises to be an engaging and thought-provoking read. For more about the book and the authors, head to the Facebook page of Mock, Stalk & QuarrelThe book has made an amazing entry at no 29 on Amazon. 

Book Link: Amazon

About the Author

Amrita Mukherjee is the author of Exit Interview published by Rupa Publications, a freelance journalist and blogger.

Author Links:


Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions expressed in the guest post are solely the guest’s. The owner of this blog makes no representation as to the originality, accuracy or completeness of any information in this post.
P.S: Bound by Life, debut book by Arpita Pramanick is currently available for free on Amazon. Download your copy today!

Celebrating a year of Bound by Life with Guest Post by Shilpa Niraj

Hello there everyone!

This day last year I published my first (and so far only) ebook, Bound by Life, on Amazon. It has been quite an eventful year since. The book has sold 14 paid copies and over a hundred free copies. It has also being downloaded at least fifty times via Kindle Unlimited/Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. For a beginning author as myself, I consider it an achievement!

To celebrate one-year anniversary of Bound by Life, I am publishing a guest post by Shilpa Niraj, blogger at Femme Time. Shilpa is set to publish her first novella, A Murder Gone Wrong, on Amazon soon. Today, she shares with you ten tips to write short fiction.


 Ten Tips to Write Flash Fiction

By Shilpa Niraj

We all know that any story should have a beginning, middle and an end. Also, it should have three basic elements, the character, the setting and the plot. But how about when we try to cram up all the elements in an insanely short fiction?

Flash Fiction is a disciplined genre, which helps writers’ to hone their skills. It is an art form that takes ability and effort to fit a good story within the small framework.

To submit a flash fiction online, stories must be between 500 and 1000 words. Brevity is the key. This leads to lot of constraints and restrictions while writing a story that is succinct. Here are some tips that will help in writing ultra-short stories.

  1. Select a single theme for your story.
  2. More than two characters are not advised.
  3. Start at the middle of the story, not the beginning.
  4. Keep the story as a single plot. Sub-plots may not fit into the word count limit.
  5. Do not have multiple scenes.
  6. Unnecessary adverbs and adjectives are not advised.
  7. Remember that flash fiction is not a narrative or an essay.
  8. Create an impact with a twist at the end.
  9. Know when to show and when to tell. You need to select it wisely.
  10. Entice the reader with a great title.

About the Author

Shilpa Niraj has been reading mysteries ever since she first discovered Nancy Drew. An ardent fan of mysteries, she can still go back and reread her favorite books of Agatha Christie and Erle Stanley Gardner. An avid reader and a blogger, she is now eagerly awaiting for the release of her debut mystery novella, A Murder Gone Wrong.

Shilpa holds a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and a master’s degree in Information Management from Mumbai University. She lives with her husband in Mumbai, India. 

When she is not reading or plotting murders for her next story, she is busy exploring new destinations.

Author Links: 


The thoughts and opinions expressed in the guest post are solely the guest’s. The owner of this blog makes no representation as to the originality, accuracy or completeness of any information in this post.




Culebrita – A Guest Post

Hello Blogoworld!

Some of you might remember me introducing my blogging partner, Marquessa Matthews from Blogging 201 course. As part of the course, we decided to guest post on each other blog’s today! 

Today’s post is an excerpt from a novel that Marquessa is presently working on. The main character of the novel is a young woman called Delaney who decides to ditch the responsibilities of her “regular” life, throw caution to the wind by taking a work assignment in Puerto Rico and embraces her new found freedom of putting herself first

Please head on to Marquess’a blog for other excerpts of the novel.

Wish you a happy read! Also, don’t forget to check out my story, Rosenberg on Marquessa’s blog which is my guest post for today.


Guest Post by Marquessa Matthews

“I think I’m going to be sick.”

As soon as I took one look at that tiny plane, I stopped dead in my tracks. My feet were cemented to the ground.

“Isn’t there a ferry or a boat we could take instead?”

Alejandro strategically placed his hand on my lower back to keep propelling me in a forward motion. “We could but in the time it would take to get to Fajardo, with traffic, and charter a boat, we could already be at Ric and Emme’s. Are you afraid of flying?”

I shook my head as the three of us walked up to the foot of the plane, Nate pulling on Aleja’s hand to hurry us up.

“Under normal circumstances, no. But this plane has propellers.” As soon as the words left my mouth, my stomach started to do little somersaults.

“Taking a plane from Isla Grande is the best and quickest option. Don’t worry. You’ll be fine.” Alejandro leaned into me, kissed my forehead and took hold of my sweaty hand. “And it’ll give me an excuse to hold your hand the entire way,” he reassured me.

“Me too! I’ll hold your hand.” Nate bolted around us and grabbed hold of my other hand. Even if I wanted to change my mind, I couldn’t.

The pilot ushered us into the plane and helped us to get settled in. Alejandro teased me about my quickness to buckle up. I rolled my eyes at him. In such a small plane, I needed to mentally prepare myself for every bump and bit of turbulence we could encounter.

“How long is the flight to Culebra?” I tried to make my question sound cool and nonchalant but I wasn’t fooling anyone, including myself.

The pilot turned his head to respond but Alejandro cut him off.  “About 15 minutes.”

“Oh, that’s not so bad.”

As we taxied off, I held my breath, waiting for take-off. As promised, Alejandro kept hold of my hand to reassure me but Nate had totally forgotten his promise. Completely distracted with peering out the window, Nate had his nose smudged up against the window. The warmth of Aleja’s hand calmed my nerves. I had no idea what Aleja and I were doing as a “we” but it felt good. For once, I was determined to just go with the flow and not overanalyze the situation.

Before I knew it, I soon found myself doing the same thing as Nate. I was in amazement of the beautiful view below. The white sands and the turquoise blue and green water were absolutely breathtaking. Picture postcard perfection.


Photo credit: S F photographs / Foter / CC BY-ND

Nate chattered away as he always did, pointing out of the window for me to look at this cloud and that boat. Alejandro wasn’t saying anything and when I turned to him, I caught him simply smiling at us.


“Nothing,” he said and continued smiling. That smile that gave me butterflies.

I relaxed into the ride enough to let go of his hand, pull out my cell to snap a few photos of the scenery below.

“How are you feeling?” Alejandro was always so laid back. If he could bottle the Zen-vibe he always gave off, I would be the first one to buy it online. He always had a softness to his tone that stripped away any temptation I could have had to be anything but myself with him. And I liked that – a lot. Down to earth, intelligent, authentic and a surprisingly semi-introvert. For someone in his position, how could that be?

I could feel the plane descending. “Most of my nerves are gone, thanks to you.” I reached out and touched his thigh, probably lingering a little longer than necessary. I looked at the time on my cell. “Wait, this has been more than 15 minutes.”

Alejandro’s eyes twinkled and he grinned sheepishly. “I lied. It’s more like 30…”

With a grin like that, what else could I do but smile? “Don’t make it a habit. I don’t do well with lies.”

The touchdown was smooth and before I knew it, we were off the plane and into a town car that Ric had sent for us.

As we drove, my nerves began acting up again.

The first time Alejandro had invited me to Ric’s place, I had declined. But this time, Nate had begged me to go and the kid never took no for an answer without a valid reason. Alejandro hadn’t needed to convince me – his mini advocate had done all the work for him.

Sure, the three of us had been spending a lot of time together in our own little bubble but an entire weekend at his cousin’s place made whatever it was that we were doing a little more palpable.  I was more than a little nervous hanging out with part of his family in such close proximity for an extended weekend. Somewhere between “friends with no benefits” and an “intimate couple”, I wondered what Alejandro had told Ric and Emme about me tagging along.

It wasn’t long before we pulled up to a three storey house perched on a hillside not too far from the beach. The intoxicating views of Luis Pena Cay and the warm breeziness of the air, I had never imagined that life could get any better than my little beach house.  But it did get better. And it was stunning.

Ric and Emme were waiting outside for us and a little boy around Nate’s age was jumping around anxiously. We got out of the car and Nate rushed over to the little boy.

“It’s great that you decided to spend a few days with us.” Ric gave me a two-sided kiss and gave Alejandro a quick hug.

Emme’s face showed her surprise at seeing me. She quickly approached showering us both with kisses. “It’s nice to see you again Delaney. No one told me that Aleja was bringing a guest.”

No one meant Ric. Emme turned and gave him the eye.

Ric shrugged, looking guilty with his palms upturned to the sky. “Sorry, I didn’t think of it.”


“I apologize and hope that it isn’t a problem Emme. It was kind of last minute.”

Emme shook her head fervently, her smile genuine. “Of course it isn’t a problem. Any friend of Aleja’s is welcome in our home. It’ll be great to get to know you better. I just wish my absent-minded husband would remember to tell me these things.” She summoned the little boy forward. “Adrian, say hello to Delaney. Delaney is Alejandro’s friend.”

The little boy came forward, extended his hand and said, “Hello.” He was a cutie. It was obvious that looks ran in the family. I shook his little hand and almost immediately, he looked up at Emme. “Can Nate and I go play now?”

Emme gave him a nod of approval and the two little boys ran off towards the housekeeper who stood in the doorway.

“Why don’t we head inside too?”

As Ric and Aleja handled our bags, I saw Emme raise her eyebrows at Ric and he nodded to respond to some sort of secret code they had. I wondered what she was thinking.

The house had a beachy Zen feel to it much like Aleja’s but with a more open concept. Off-white walls, pastel accents to compliment the earthy toned furniture. Everything was simple, light and airy.

“Guys, why don’t you leave the bags at the bottom of the stairs while I give Delaney a tour of the house? Then we can all have a late lunch. Ric, keep an eye on Adrian and Nate before they get into too much trouble.”

Emme was definitely the boss of the house. Ric nodded and led Aleja away but not before he winked at me. Emme caught our exchange.

“Let me show you where you’ll be staying.”

The way Emme glided so gracefully up the stairs, there was no doubt in my mind that she was a dancer or ballerina. Or at least, she used to be.

“This section of the house is where our guests always stay. It’s pretty private.” She opened the door to a beautifully laid out bedroom that could have been featured in Coastal Living magazine.

A king-sized canopied bed filled one corner and the rest of the room was basically a living room equipped with two sofas, a mini bar and a flat screen mounted to the opposite wall. The French doors to the balcony teased a spectacular view of the cay behind the voile sheer curtains.

“Aleja usually stays in here and Nate always sleeps in Adrian’s room. If you haven’t noticed, those two little boys are inseparable, kind of like the two big boys. Then again, you and Aleja seem to be as thick as thieves too, no?” Emme smiled widely. She was reminding me so much of my straight talking Ella who I missed having around.

I couldn’t help but laugh. “Subtlety is not your strong suit, is it?”

We both laughed and I was glad. I could tell that I wouldn’t need to stand on ceremony with her.

“I can surely say that I have never, ever been accused of being subtle. That’s for sure. Will you and Aleja be sharing this room?” She looked me straight in the eye for a reaction.

My hesitation to respond was reaction enough for her. What was I supposed to say? I didn’t even know the answer for myself.

“I’m sorry for being so curious. It’s just that Aleja never visits with, uh, women friends. He only visits with Nate.”

“Oh.” I was the one surprised.

“That says a lot, you know. I mean the fact that he doesn’t make it a habit of bringing women here.” Were her words a warning more than a mere statement, I didn’t know but it didn’t matter – I got the message loud and clear.

Emme led me through the balcony doors and to the balcony doors of the room next door. The room was a smaller version of the room we had just left.

“If you’d be more comfortable in here, you could stay in this room. As you can see, this room shares the same balcony so the two of you could have some…privacy.”

“Thanks for the offer Emme. I wouldn’t mind taking this room.”

She looked at me for a long moment and absorbed what I had said. Without coming right out and asking the question she was curious about, I had given her the answer to what she wanted to know.

“You know, what I’m going to say is going to sound very “high school” but Aleja bringing you here, it shows that he’s comfortable with you – like family. It’s obvious that he likes you.”

And don’t mess with that, right?

“Well, Aleja’s a good man and we are … enjoying each other’s company.” I was hoping that we could we finish this conversation and head back downstairs soon.

Emme read my mind and led me back into the hallway where we had started. “Have you met anyone else in the family?”

“No, just you two and those other friends when we all had dinner at his place that time a few weeks ago. I also met a few people at that music event the other night but there was no family there.”

I was right! I told Ric that thought it was you in those photos I saw online.”

“Aleja did invite me to his parent’s anniversary party. A barbecue with his family and extended family next week?”

Emme’s mouth fell open. “Really? Well, well, well…That says it all. This is a really close knit family, Delaney. It felt like forever before Ric took me to a family function. Have you met Marisol yet?”

“Alejandro’s sister? No, not yet. Why?”

“Just asking.” Emme didn’t sound very enthused.  “Are you hungry? Let’s go eat. Then, we can relax for the rest of the afternoon by the pool or go to the beach. I’ll give you the rest of the tour later.” It was obvious that she was changing the subject.

We headed back downstairs and we did, my brain went into overdrive. Curiosity got the better of me and I couldn’t help myself.

“Emme, why did you specifically ask about Marisol?”

Emme waited until we were almost in the kitchen before turning to me. The patio doors off of the kitchen were wide open and I could see Aleja and Ric outside on the patio with bottle of Medalla in hand while the two little boys had their feet dangled into the pool, trying to kick splash each other.

“I’ll let you make your own impression of Marisol. That’s all I’ll say for now.”

Carefully chosen words from an outspoken woman who had no problem speaking her mind?

That couldn’t be a good sign.

©2015 Marquessa Matthews. All Rights Reserved.

Review of Little Women – A Guest Post

Write me           aGuest PostOn the third Saturday in July, I bring you another guest post in the Re-living the Classics series. In Re-living the Classics, you send me your reviews of your favourite classic which I publish as guest posts.

Today’s post is contributed by Debolina. She is an enthusiastic blogger and freelance writer. Don’t forget to check out her blog and leave a comment for her!

Review of Little Women

Guest Post by Debolina

Do you remember what we did when we were young and did not have the likes of mobile phone, Facebook, iPads and others modern gadgets…we READ!

We still read, but somehow I feel the charm of reading evergreen classics like The Tale of Two Cities, Treasure Island, Pride and Prejudice, Gone with the Wind and others, will never stimulate a young reader’s mind today like it used to do for us. Reading books back then, was like creating a universe of imagination around us. The words were like moving pictures, which created and left memories and emotions in our hearts.

lwOne such classic novel, which still lingers in my mind is the Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Four sisters, a mother, a backdrop of the Civil War and their relationships and dreams made a unique plot, depicting a modern-day woman, at least back in those times. It was like the first look at a ‘new woman’, who is ready to  break free of the shackles of social prejudices and gender discrimination to make a mark for herself.

What is it about: The plot involves four sisters and their mother during the Civil War. The March family consists of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, Mr. and Mrs. March. Mr. March is off to serve the nation as a war hero. Mrs. March also visits him once in a while. The story deals with the lives of the four sisters- Meg, the beautiful eldest sister ad her admirers, who used to teach children in a family; Jo, the tomboy of the family and a talented writer, who helped her wealthy grandaunt; Beth, the musician, who meets a tragic end and Amy, the youngest with curly hair and a charming character. The author has beautifully crafted each and every character. As the story advances, new characters come into their lives- how they influence them and how they interact with them. As the story comes to an end, it summerizes the lives of the characters and where they stand at the end of the novel. This is based on the author’s real life and her family to a certain extent.

What I liked about it: I might have read the abridged version of the novel, but the first thing, which touched my heart is the simplicity of the characters and the story. It felt so familiar as if I knew the March family. There was no royalty or fantasy. It beautifully brought out the nuances of the life of a family torn between war and reality. It talked about love, passion, struggles, devotion, death, happiness and emotions. Being a single child, it brought forth the picture of siblings and their relationships. I imagined how would it feel to be part of the March family. It also spoke about the socio-political environment and the stature of women in the society, which was about to change. It was overwhelming to read about simple emotions of simple characters that I could relate to as a child. I was very fond of Jo in particular, because of her bold personality and of course her flair for writing. I remember this as one of my inspirations  for writing. It left me with lovely memories of the characters, yet a desire to read about the next generation.

What it led to: The popularity of the book, encouraged the author to pen down sequels like Little Men,  Jo’s Boys and How They Turned Out (a sequel to Little Men). Little Women and Little Men have been made into several movies and television series. A 1994 flick starring Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder and Kirsten Dunst was a wonderful adaptation of the book.

About the Author: Born in 1832, Louisa May Alcott became famous as an American novelist. She was a support for her family, who had gone though several financial difficulties. She has also written under the pet name, A. M. Barnard. Some of her other works include A Long Fatal Love Chase, The Mysterious Key and What It Opened, Under The Lilacs, to mention a few. Her commemorative stamp was released by the United States in 1940.

Final Verdict: A lovely saga of sisterhood, womanhood, society and relationships. It is like a well-knit tale of loved ones and how family sticks together and help each other through happiness and hardships. A simple illustration of the tides and times through the eyes of an ‘all-woman’ family. A nice read for those, who like to read about family ties and chemistry among women, bonded by the love of sisterhood. Readers will surely love the flow of emotions and situations, which makes it an engaging storyline. Probably, one of those books, which a mother can handover to a daughter or a sister can gift her sibling or a woman can share with another.

Review of To Kill a Mockingbird – A Guest Post

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Today’s guest post in Re-living the Classics is a review of To Kill a Mockingbird by the wonderful Belinda. I love reading her beautiful personal anecdotes! Be sure to check out her site!

Would you like to have your review of your favourite classic featured on this blog? To do that, contact me through the form given after today’s post. Be sure to mention your name, email and the name of the book you wish to review. Thank you!

Review of To Kill a Mockingbird

Guest Post by Belinda

First, thanks to Arpita for this opportunity to review one of my all-time favorite books. While I originally had planned to take a look at Madame Bovary, current events and the imminent release of Harper Lee’s second book (Go Set a Watchman, July 14, 2015) compelled me to change my mind.

to-kill-a-mockingbird2To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960) is a story of a small town in the southern U.S., where things move slowly but certainly, and a small spark of hope for the future exists. It’s a tale of friendships, family and the forgotten, and how in the end they all fight for each other.

It’s also a story of vast racial injustice and a man not willing to be resigned to it until he’s forced to be. Mostly, it’s the tale of girl growing up and learning about all that happens and all who live in this small town she calls home.

Jean Louise Finch, who goes by Scout, lives with her brother, Jem, and father, Atticus, in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama.  Scout and Jem befriend a boy named Dill, who visits his aunt each year during the summer months.

Scout, Jem and Dill are fascinated by their reclusive and ostensibly frightening neighboring, Boo Radley. For two summers they watch and wait for him to appear. The third year, they’re bewildered to find small gestures of friendship seemingly from the shy man, yet still don’t catch sight of him.

That same year Atticus is appointed to defend a black man accused of raping a white woman. The entire town becomes captivated by the trial, and the consequences of the outcome shape events for months to come in a dramatic and poignant way.

The children’s fascination with Boo and the unfolding of events that follow the trial come together in the final pages in a way true to the rest of the story, the town and its characters.  This type of ending to such a complex story is rare. So often the plot line becomes convoluted or melodramatic.  Not the case here.

 The books narrative style is fluid, with bits of irony used to communicate the complex issues it covers. It’s a story you can read time and again, always with a different perspective: once with a look at racial injustice, another with an eye to class and culture in the American South of the early 20th century. It addresses human nature on a broader scale in the character of Boo Radley and how the town dealt with him in their words and actions.

I can’t recommend this book enough. It captivates me from the first sentence every time I read it, which is about once every three or four years. I couldn’t wait to read it again for this review, and look forward already to the next time.

Would you like to have your review of your favourite classic featured on this blog? To do that contact me through the form given below. Be sure to mention your name, email and the name of the book you wish to review. Thank you!

Thoughts on ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ – Guest post by Shreedeep Gangopadhyay

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Today’s guest post, as part of the Saturday Specials feature in July, is contributed by Mr. Shreedeep Gangopadhyay. He has previously contributed a few pieces of flash fiction for his earlier guest post in May. This month in Re-living the Classics, Mr. Gangopadhyay deconstructs the classic American novella, The Old man and the Sea.

As I have mentioned in my previous post, this month I am looking for volunteers to review the classics. I still have two spots open, so please feel free to contact me to contribute your piece. To do this, use the contact form given below today’s post, clearly mentioning your name, email and the name of the book that you wish to review.

For next week’s guest post we’ll have Belinda share her thoughts on Madame Bovary. Stay tuned, folks and keep blogging!

Thoughts on The Old Man and the Sea

Guest post by Shreedeep Gangopadhyay


Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea”: Never accept defeat in life, we can be spifflicated but not defeated. 

The novella The Old Man and The Sea’ is the last major work of fiction to be written by Hemingway in 1952 which ultimately helped to regenerate the author’s wilting career and prompted a reexamination of his entire body of work. Hemingway was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953 and the Nobel Prize in 1954 for this book. The book was featured in Life magazine on September 1, 1952, and five million copies of the magazine were sold in two days!

It depicts an epic struggle between an old, doyen fisherman and his biggest achievement as a fisherman.  The story begins with the aged Cuban fisherman playing the central character named Santiago who goes on fishing in Gulf Stream with his skiff alone. For the last 84 days, he set out to sea to catch fish only to return empty handed. A boy named Manolin was with him in the first forty days to learn the tricks of fishing. But when the parents of that boy observed the utter failure of the old man in catching fish then they refused him to let fish with the old man as they believed the old man became impoverished and salao (which means the extreme form of unlucky) facing his mortality. So the boy was constrained to fish in another more productive boat which caught three good fishes in the very first week.

The old man wakes before sunrise and does what fishermen do—get in his boat and head out to fish. Every evening, under any pretext, Manolin rushes to the old man when he returns from another unsuccessful fish hunting and helps carry home the old man’s harpoon, sail, accompanies him and brings him food. The old man looks sick and very thin, especially from hunger. The torn sail of his skiff is patched with flour sacks bearing the evidence of the permanent defeat of him. Both of his hands are full of old lacerates and scars created while dragging the heavy fish over the harpoon. ‘But these scars are as old as erosions in a fishless desert’. Everything of Santiago reflects the infirmity and impoverishment lacking the real zeal to live his life to the fullest.

Only his eyes are the exception reflecting the deep blue sea – glittering and invincible too. Just few of these lines can clearly illustrate us a picture of a society. This minute but subtle shade of the lives of the fishermen makes the egoistical interests and inclination clearly visible as motives of their actions and omissions. The central character of the story, battling with the time, has reached to the age of frailty. Yes he struggles for survival, sets out to the Gulf Stream to catch fish. It deftly portrays how the people become isolated from each other when they don’t benefit from someone while struggling to live every day’s life in this capitalist world. At the same time the deep affection and compassion of the boy to the old man establishes firmly that the infinitude of profit and greed never severs immortal bond of humanity among the people.  And as the humanity still refuses to elude, may be people would remain steadfast in fulfilling their dream even in scorching heat and torrential rain. Maybe we keep dreaming of our unfinished dream-even in the feeble hope of reaching the pantheon of the success.  We all can relive the joy of achieving our goal as it is only the humanity and fellow-feeling that serves to play the most crucial role in building up the character, neither profit and neither greed nor the prolonged reign of capitalism does that. The story tells us about a true friendship evolved between two persons having a vast generation gap. We see the boy trying to help the old man regain his confidence and finally, after couple of failed attempts make him agree to hunt for the big Marlin fish. On the morning of the 85th day, Santiago does as promised, sailing his skiff far before dawn on a three-day odyssey that takes him far out to sea.

The story captures the true pictures of the fishermen colony in Kohima which is at 12 mile north from Havana, the capital of Cuba. The fishermen are determining the relations among them according to the financial status. It becomes evident when Manolin is forced to leave Santiago’s boat for his relentless failure.  However what we have witnessed the social and marital life of fishermen and that of the others in Bengali writer Manik Bandyopadhyay’s, Padma Nadir Majhi, is not seen here. In this novella, the character of the society is not nearly as important as the character of the person.  As I’ve already mentioned, this classic is about the story of a person and his indomitable optimism and can-do-spirit. He struggles and dreams of his youth—of lions on an African beach. Literally, Hemingway himself reached his last days when he wrote this novel, last of his four novels in 1952. But that doesn’t make us believe that his age (he was 53 then) stirred up to pen such a globally accepted novel. It was the immense experience that he earned for a long duration helped him illustrate this novel. And finally the story transforms into a metaphorical piece. We have reached near, very near the supreme truth of life sailing aboard Santiago’s skiff.

Finally all his hard work pays off when he snags the ridiculously big fish, bearing tremendous hardship to hook and land that great fish. The story mostly deals with all this struggles of Santiago that lasted for three days. He took the fish as his brother but it didn’t waver his determination to kill the fish after an earth-shattering battle of strength and of will power. Unfortunately the story ends without a happy ending. On the way home, the old man lashes the fish to one side of the boat which is attacked by a Mako shark followed by a group of sharks tearing away lumps of the fish’s flesh. But he fought tooth and nail with his harpoon, club and finally nothing but a simple knife beating them off. However by the time he anchors the boat at the shore, sharks have almost devoured the marlin’s entire carcass, leaving a skeleton. However the old man has regained his lost pride of being a doyen among the fishermen.

Hemingway, in his illustrious life, engaged with the first and second world war including the military insurgence of Spain in 1936. He had been maimed severely multiple times straddling from being hit with mortar shell to plane accidents but still he survived at the end with his sheer perseverance and will power. And that’s why most of his characters were portrayed with this magical power of keeping hope alive even in the extreme adversity. We can think of Santiago as a character whom Hemingway had built with all those qualities to believe his strength and never say die attitude evoking wondrous feeling to the readers.

The first and last word of this novella is all about not giving up the hope of accomplishing goal. We got to keep our hope alive while struggling for survival and struggling for supremacy. The author makes the old man Santiago tell a very witty but thoughtful quote: ‘Man is not made for defeat. Man can be destroyed, but not defeated!’

Last but not the least, I must thank Arpita for giving me this classic novella.

I hope you have enjoyed this piece by Mr. Gangopadhyay. If you’d like your review featured, don’t forget to contact me!