Sunday, 2 October 2016

Penguin Random House



Write Now Live Initiative by Penguin Random House for BAME, LGBTQ & Disabled writers Oct 1st 2016

I was privileged to be selected for this initiative for a mentorship programme for BAME, LGBTQ and disabled writers by one of the world’s largest publishing house in the world. Fifty people were selected out of a thousand applicants for their London day. They have two more days in Birmingham and Manchester. Ten writers will be selected out of the hundred and fifty to get onto their mentoring programme with a possible publishing contract at the end of this selection procedure in February 2017. I am writing this as I hope  writers will think of applying for the next round when it comes next year. It was a wonderfully inspiring, informative day with plenty of opportunity to network with the Penguin Random House team, published authors and agents. We met in their plush offices at 80, The Strand at 12 pm after a lunch of sandwiches and coffee that gave us time to mingle and introduce ourselves we were given an extremely informative talk from the Penguin team on ‘Publishing Demystified.’ This was followed by a panel of authors that included Kit De Waal, Nikesh Shukla, Abir Mukerjee, Satnam Sangera and Matthew Todd


on how they got published. After a short break we were asked our own views on what steps need to be taken by the industry to encourage BAME and LBQT writers to submit their work.  Ideas flowed on more diverse books representing all sections of society, including class, race, religion, disability, ethnicity, gender or sexual proclivities should be the future aim for the publishing industry at large. It was a thoroughly worthwhile day ending with the all-important one to one session with one of their editors going over 6000 words of the manuscript that we had all submitted. The day ended with a goody bag of exceptionally wonderful books to take home. I would encourage writers in our area to look out for this or similar initiatives as the book publishing industry is getting aware of the need for inclusivity.


Here is the  link: http://www.write-now.live/who-were-looking-for

Sunday, 3 April 2016

War Child

Spring has arrived and we have had some lovely weather. The sun has come out and the flowering daffodils makes one heart leap with joy. Colour after the drab winter, life re-incarnating in all its forms makes my soul soar with hope.

International Women's day is now a big event in the calendar. I was at Partick Library, along with three other speakers sharing a few words on 'Women who Inspired me.' I had to start with my mother, who has been and still is, an inspiration to me in every way. She gave me values that I hold dear and that I pass on to my child. She made sure that all three of us sisters had the same education as our brothers and  we never ever felt any lack of equality in the way we were brought up.

It was wonderful also for my husband and I to celebrate our 47 th wedding anniversary in a quiet way. So, I am feeling blessed in every way.

However, mid - March and I was struck by a nasty flu like bug. I could hardly get off the bed for a couple of days. I had to cancel a reading at the Federation of Writer's 'Sudden Fame' Open mic event at 'Aye Write' Festival. The cold also prevented me from attaining any of the events. Such a shame, as the book festival in my own city is something I look forward to.

Good news was around the corner. A short story anthology that I had contributed to over a year ago was getting published on April 4th and I am excited. The anthology is to raise money for the charity 'The War Child' and not a penny of the royalties will go to any of the 15 writers who have given of their time and efforts so graciously for such a good cause.

PLEASE BUY A COPY AND RAISE AWARENESS OF THE PLIGHT OF INNOCENT CHILDREN CAUGHT UP IN THE WAR ZONES IN THE WORLD.

I was very surprised to get a tweet from the curator of Glasgow's Women's Library, Wendy Turner, saying that she had created a Wiki page on me!! How kind of her? Here's a link.
https://www.newikis.com/en/wiki/Leela_Soma

Glasgow Women's Library has also made a podcasts of the anti-sectarian anthology Mixing the Colours. Mine is a very short poem, 'Orange and Green.'  You can listen to the poem here:

http://womenslibrary.org.uk/gwl_wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/mtcaudiobook_13_Leela_Soma.mp3

April showers and the slight warmth in the air makes one ready for the months of brightness and light. Hope more short stories and poems will make their appearance, if I start submitting to the various magazines that are opening their submissions windows. I really should be doing that and finish my  crime novella.

A change of name for this blog was imperative. For some reason the name, Tartan and Turmeric is not showing up at all, so Glasgowlee it is.




Friday, 18 March 2016

February


A short but good month, despite that extra day 29th Feb. I wonder how many young women proposed to their partners?  Or is that too old fashioned now?

I had a lovely start to the month, shopping for a little grand nephew and visiting him in Oslo. Family means a lot to me and I remember with fondness the idyllic childhood that I had in Madras, not just with my immediate nuclear family but the whole extended one with cousins, aunts and uncles. The children especially of first generation immigrants, like me, are far removed from their extended family and miss out on the wonderful grand parents, uncle and aunt, cousin relationship which is precious and adds such richness to one's life. Oslo in its icy grip of winter was a different country from the sizzling hot summer time when we were over in 2014. But the warmth of seeing my family was compensation enough.  It was also poignant in some ways as all the descriptions that I had read in Knaugaaard's novels became more real, the numbing icy cold that cut into your very bones , the icy glaciers and the breath freezing almost before one exhaled it.

I had an interview with a rather a unique project with SIGOHA. "SIGOHA is an online archive of conversations with people who have settled in and around Glasgow having been born outside of the UK. This project hopes to construct a social history of Glasgow and the surrounding area through the stories of people who have experienced living in different cultures and contexts and have come to make their lives here. 

Oral history is the study of history through the stories of normal people. Daily experiences and memories that may seem ordinary to one person might hold great meaning to the right historian. As an oral history archive, SIGOHA is not seeking to find out anything specific, but instead to illuminate a broad section of Glasgow’s history. Through their experiences of living in other countries before moving to Glasgow, SIGOHA participants can provide perspectives on the city that may never have been considered by people who were born in the UK. Furthermore, through participants’ stories of their lives before moving to Glasgow, SIGOHA also documents the histories of many cities and countries around the world."  
Jessica Lawson conducted the interview.




Check it out on this link.

!






On Saturday 27 I was at the opening of a lovely Embroidery Exhibition at the local Lillie Art Gallery. Such a fund of talent and the intricate stitches on different fabrics evoked memories of my aunt's skills in different types of craft. Kirsty Wark opened the exhibition and I had a few words with her. She is writing a sequel to her excellent book 'The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle.'
The last day of the month, yes, 29 th I recorded my poem for GWL 's 'Mixing the Colours' project on anti-sectarianism, another great project to raise awareness on prejudice based on religion, colour or gender.
http://womenslibrary.org.uk/discover-our-projects/mixing-the-colours/mixing-the-colours-women-speaking-about-sectarianism-anthology/

So February was busy and interesting.
I am looking forward to March when even more exciting things could happen as Spring approaches.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

January 2016

New Year, new beginnings! Hope you all had a wonderful break and are ready for 2016 with renewed vigour and positive vibes for reading and writing. The deaths of David Bowie, Alan Rickman, the illness of Clive James all brought one thing into focus. How well they used and in C. James's case are using, their last months to be more creative, and leave a legacy that they could be proud of.

I managed to start reading once the festivities were over. The cold weather makes one coorie in and take out the big TBR pile that one wants to get to. I bought a copy of 'Inspector Chopra' from Waterstone's and it is a delightful romp through Mumbai, with a just-retired detective who inherits an elephant. Though some scenes with the elephant were unrealistic, for example,  going to the mall, chasing after a villain with elephant in tow, the book won with the beautiful sense of setting. Mumbai in all its rawness, the stink of the open sewers, Dharavi, the biggest slum in Asia, the rotting vegetables and description of the exotic places too. That colonial hang up, corruption in high places, with shades of Adiga,  assured a 'best seller' label for this book.

I started looking at the tomes that I had shelved for reading them at a later day. Kingsolver's Lacuna, Don De Lillo's Underworld, and a few others that were on the TBR pile on the bookshelf. I started reading Don De Lillo. The Prologue with a baseball game between the Dodgers and the Giants left me bemused. I re-read the book blurb, perhaps it is a metaphor for the Cold War? I read the first chapter and it was so much more interesting and thought yes, I must go ahead with this Great American Novel. But the Knausgaard that I had reserved in my library arrived and so I picked it up to read. De Lillo is on hold!






Now for Knausgaard. I bought his book 'Boyhood Island' and read it after all that hype that his writing is reminiscent of Proust.   I did want to read a Norwegian author, having visited Oslo recently in 2014. It would be a new experience. I was not really impressed with it. It could have done with thorough editing. So many paragraphs again and again of the weather, the minutiae of life was often repeated. Readable, yes, interesting, if you could skip some of the repetitive paragraphs on the weather, the house, the trips to the friends. But his relationship with his father was fascinating. He was a whimpering boy often reduced to tears with a dominating father who was cruel in so many ways. It made for a voyeuristic read. This one from the library, 'A Death in the Family' is much better. The first page on death has some amazing writing. How society deals with death, the act of repression, covering the body, the coffin always closed, so many observations that made me want to read more. His own behaviour towards his family interested me. Would he be like his dad? How would his own childhood affect his parenting? That fascinated me. I have read most of the book. Again, unfortunately it could do with editing. Same old weather stuff, lots of repetition. For example in the same paragraph we have his coffee making twice! The kettle hissing, two teaspoons full of coffee in the cup etc... but in between these swathes of description there are some gems of prose that you want to read again. I will certainly recommend this book. This is the first in the series of six.

How about my own writing? Novel three is waiting to be finished. I must get the first draft done. I have used every excuse and procrastinated long enough. 2016 must be the year to finish it and get it published. So watch this space.

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