Categories
Editorial

Whispers of Stones

When the mountains and grass
had life, stones whispered
how the world came to be…

'Stonehenge', Daily Star

And as the world came to be, there was war — war that seems to rage in some part of the world or other. The British Museum has an exhibit which states the first battle was staged 13,000 years ago… in what is now Sudan, long before the advent of written history. This was even before the advent of people who built the ancient Stonehenge which was constructed around 3000-2000 BCE. And battles still continue to rage. The Jebel Sahaba casualties in Sudan 13000 years ago were less than 100. But the current conflicts claim in terms of tens of thousands which prolonged could stretch to millions. The last world war (1939-1945) which lasted for six years had a total of  75-80 million persons who perished. Ukraine-Russia conflict has within five months had a casualty count of more than 14000. And yet weapons and nuclear arms continue to proliferate decimating humanity, nature and towns, destroying homes, erasing ruthlessly and creating more refugees. The only need for such battles seem to be to satiate the hunger of the warlords secure in their impenetrable fortresses while tens of thousands are annihilated and natural or nurtured landscapes lie emaciated, mutilated and polluted.

What would be a good way of ending such wars?

Tagore sought the development of better instincts in humankind as an antidote. He wrote in the last century: “Any teaching concerning man must have human nature for its chief element. How far it will harmonise with human nature is a matter of time.”

With wars getting deadlier and more horrific, we can only try to awaken, as Tagore suggests, the better nature in man to move towards a peaceful world. What would be a more effective way of doing it than writing with the hope of a kinder and accepting future?

For that let us start with translations of the maestro Tagore himself. We have a song about the season — monsoon, ‘Monomor Megher Songi (My Friends, the Clouds)’, translated by Professor Fakrul Alam, a painting by Sohana Manzoor interpreting the lyrics and a transcreation of Nababarsha or New Rains’ was shrunken into a popular Rabindra Sangeet and reduced to twenty lines in English by Tagore himself. The connect with nature is an important aspect that enables humans to transcend petty concerns leading to dissensions of different kinds as evidenced in the maestro’s humorous feline skit, translated by Somdatta Mandal. A translation of Dalip Kaur Tiwana’s ‘The Bus Conductor’ from Punjabi by C. Christine Fair adds zest to this section. Fazal Baloch has translated a folktale from Balochistan involving the supernatural and Ihlwha Choi has taken on the cry for peace on behalf of Ukraine while translating his own poem in Korean. The Nithari column has a story by Jishan in Hindustani, translated to English by Grace M Sukanya, showcasing the struggle of a youngster during the pandemic – rather a sad narrative, which though fictitious has its roots in reality. 

Our poetry section touches upon the timelessness of dissensions and darkness with Michael R Burch’s poem on Stonehenge and Supatra Sen’s poem on Ukraine. This has been allayed by love poetry by Maid Corbic from Bosnia. George Freek’s poem ruffles with its reflective lines. And in the midst of it all, is poetry by Ryan Quinn Flanagan reflecting on the seven stages of man. Will the process of aging or human nature ever change? I wonder if Rhys Hughes can find an answer for that in humorous verses as he has shared in this issue. In his column, Hughes has written about an imagined anthology of short stories.

Our short story section has echoes of humour around felines by Manzoor, somewhat in tune with the mind frame seen in Tagore’s skit on this issue. Humour rings tinged with an apparition in Erwin Coombs’s narrative – should one call it dark humour or is it just his style? Paul Mirabile goes for gothic darkness in his meanderings around Italy.

Strangely, we seem to have a focus on short stories this time. Keith Lyons has interviewed Steve Carr, a journalist, a publisher and writer of 500 short stories who is questing to create a ‘perfect short story’. Reading out excerpts from her short story at a literary festival in Simla, Bollywood celebrity, Deepti Naval, was in conversation with eminent film journalist, Ratnottama Sengupta. She spoke of her literary aspirations while unveiling her autobiography in verse, A Country Called Childhood. This conversation has been shared by Sengupta with Borderless. It is interesting to see how Naval’s reactions to social malaise contrasts with that of the film director, cinematographer and actor, Goutam Ghose, who was present during the unveiling of her book. He had responded to communal violence by making a film on Lalan Fakir extolling virtues of love and kindness, called Moner Manush (2010) and then made a book on the film called, The Quest (2013) which has beautiful translations of Lalan Fakir’s lyrics by Sankar Sen.  

Our non-fiction sections seem to be hosting multiple travel stories across UK by Mike Smith, along the Australian coastline by Meredith Stephens, on the Himalayas with Ravi Shankar and an unusual visit by Hema Ravi to a farm in US where animals that had been used in Disney films in the past are homed. Our environmental columnist, Kenny Peavy, actually wrote about his cycling trip from Thailand to Indonesia on a bamboo cycle made by a Singaporean! And from Japan, Suzanne Kamata explored a museum in the neighbouring town of Mure. The museum on a hill hosts the art of American Japanese Artists, Isamu Noguchi.

We do have non-fiction that moves away from travel: noir humour by Devraj Singh Kalsi and an essay by Candice Louisa Daquin on a very interesting subject – ‘Is it Okay to be Ordinary?’ Is it?  Dan Meloche has written a literary essay on Canadian novelist Andre Alexis’s award-winning novel, Fifteen Dogs: An Apologue (2015). While Meloche spoke of how the novel departed from Orwell’s Animal Farm, his narrative brought to my mind a novel closer to our times set in England by Jasper Fforde called Constant Rabbit (2020) – this a science fiction while Alexis’s was an apologue or an animal fable. Fforde did use the rabbits rather well to highlight the current times.

We have book excerpts of two recent books that I would call really outstanding. One of them is Aruna Chakravarti’s The Mendicant Prince, which is being released this week, and is based on the evergreen contentious case of the prince of Bhawal that has even been explored even in cinema. The other, Dadamoni: The Life and Times of Ashok Kumar by Nabendu Ghosh, has been published posthumously and is not a translation from Bengali but written in English originally by this trilingual writer.  

Called ‘Dadamoni’ affectionately, iconic actor Ashok Kumar is regarded as “the one personality who symbolises Indian cinema’s journey from Bombay Talkies to Bollywood”.  This book has been reviewed by Indrashish Banerjee, who calls it ‘a reflection on the Hindi film industry’ as well as a biography. Rakhi Dalal has reviewed Booker winner Geetanjali Shree’s Mai, Silently Mother, a Sahitya Akademi winning translation of her Hindi novel by Nita Kumar, reiterating the dialogue that had been kindled on motherhood last month by Rinki Roy Bhattacharya and Maithili Rao’s The Oldest Love Story (2022). Bhaskar Parichha has reviewed Prosanta Chakrabarty’s Explaining Life Through Evolution plotting how life evolved on earth. Parichha tells us: “Meaningful, wide-ranging and argumentative, this is a must-read book. It will propel us to imagine and reimagine life around us.” Another book that sounds like a must-read has been reviewed by Meenakshi Malhotra, Tagore’s Gleanings of the Road, translated by Mandal. She tells us: “ ‘Gleanings’ represents the quintessential Tagore…Ably introduced and translated by Somdatta Mandal, a renowned Tagore scholar, the translation captures the iridescent and luminous quality of Tagore’s prose and its chiaroscuro effects.”

There is more to tempt. Please stop by on our contents page and take a look.

We would like to hugely thank all our contributors and readers for being with us and helping us grow. I would like to thank my team, who despite hurdles they face, always lend a helping hand and wonderful words from their pens or computers to get Borderless on its feet. I apologise for the delay and thank you all for your patience. Special thanks to Sohana Manzoor for her fabulous artwork.

I wish you all a wonderful July and peace in a war-torn world. We are all affected by the ongoing conflicts. Let us hope for peaceful and just resolutions.

Thanks.

Mitali Chakravarty

borderlessjournal.com

Categories
Interview

Carr is Driven to Write Fast

Short-story writer, publisher and writing advocate, Steve Carr, has helped many writers around the globe get published for the first time. The author speaks to Keith Lyons about his prolific output and the best way to conquer writer’s block by being abundantly productive and creative.

Steve Carr is on the quest to write the perfect short story. But perfectionism isn’t putting him off the challenge. Since his first short story was published half a dozen years ago, he’s had over 600 short stories published internationally.

The native of Cincinnati, Ohio has travelled extensively outside the United States, serving as a military journalist in the Army and Navy before switching to fiction. As well as his work appearing in print and online in magazines, literary journals, and anthologies, eight collections of his short stories have been published, including ‘A Map of Humanity’ in 2022. He’s even released a paranormal/horror novel ‘Redbird’.

He was editor of literary magazine ‘Short Story Town’ and is the founder and publisher of Sweetycat Press whose goal is to support emerging writers by providing opportunities to getting published, primarily in anthologies.

When did you first discover your talent for writing?

From the earliest grades in school, I excelled in writing and English. By the time I reached high school the word had gotten around with the English Composition teachers that I had talent as a writer. In my senior year I had an English teacher, Mrs. Katz, who went out of her way and far beyond the curriculum to challenge my writing abilities. She encouraged me to pursue a writing career after I completed high school. Thanks to her support, and my own curiosity about what was happening in Vietnam (during the war), instead of going to college I enlisted in the Army to become a military journalist.

What encouraged you along the way to express yourself through writing?

My teachers in school and I took to writing the way fish take to water.

Tell us about your career as a military journalist? What did that involve? What kind of writing did you do in the army and navy?

I attended the prestigious joint military school, The Defense Information School, where I learned journalism and photojournalism. My intention was to go to Vietnam to see and report first-hand on what was happening over there. Fate intervened, and I was sent to the District Recruiting Command in Jacksonville, Florida as an Information Specialist, which involved me travelling around Florida and Georgia writing articles about the war about the war, as conveyed to me by military channels and returning soldiers, for local newspapers. I spent three years in that position and decided to end my enlistment to begin my college education in Cincinnati, where I’m from. Being the restless sort, I got bored after my Freshman year and enlisted in the Navy, and following the path of my favourite writer, W. Somerset Maugham, who had trained as a doctor, I enrolled in the Hospital Corps School, to become a Navy medic (a Hospital Corpsman). Because I did well during that training, I was offered the opportunity to attend the Neuropsychiatric Technician Program in San Antonio, Texas. Completing that, I was sent to the Portsmouth Virginia Naval Hospital where I quickly advanced to the position of the only enlisted instructor for the Psychiatric Technician School, Phase II, and for the next three years I worked with psychiatric patients while also teaching. During that time my writing was entirely medical/ psychiatric-based. That proved as beneficial to my writing as the skills I learned in the Army as a journalist.

Where in the world did your early career take you?

It took me first to the Army and then to the Navy. I traveled to a number of states and saw things and experienced life in ways I never thought possible or imaginable as I grew up.

How did you get into fiction writing?

My path as a writer, leading me to writing fiction, zigzags all over the place. If writing plays can be considered writing fiction (which it is), it wasn’t until after college where I double-majored in English and Theater, completed after my enlistment in the Navy, that I turned to writing plays, resulting in a few of them being produced in several states. During the next few years while writing plays I also wrote grants for non-profit health care providers, another unexpected benefit to my eventual path to writing fiction, which didn’t begin in earnest until years later, after I retired from owning my own theatrical production company. Writing fiction didn’t happen until I was mentoring a college student interested in learning to write fiction, and wanting to show him how it was done, I wrote a short story and then submitted it to a publication that quickly accepted and published it. Thinking that was really easy, the same thing happened with my second story. That was where my fiction writing career began.

What’s one of your first success stories in getting published? How did you feel seeing your name in print?

In June, 2016, the online publication, Literally Stories, accepted my first story “Eleanor” about the life of a modern-day reclusive woman who lived on the edge of the South Dakota Badlands. To tell you the truth, I don’t recall how I felt, other than being surprised that getting my first fiction story was so easy. I must have also felt encouraged because I quickly followed that with a second story. 600-plus stories – new and reprints – published since then tells me that from the beginning I must have liked the experience of being published because as evident, I haven’t stopped.

What’s your motivation for writing, given that rewards are scarce in a monetary sense?

I’ve been asked that question a lot, and honestly, I have no idea what motivates me to write. I don’t need the money, so that wasn’t a motivator from the very beginning. Maybe what motivates me is the challenge of writing good fiction. Now, I’m on the conquest to write the perfect short story. Someone told me that I may have already done that and don’t realise it. I have my doubts about that, so I continue to write short story fiction.

Does writing fiction involve a different part of your brain or different process than non-fiction writing such as journalism? If so, how?

The process of journalistic writing and writing fiction is somewhat similar. The best in both forms of writing involves making the individuals (characters) in the work, engaging, compelling and relatable, and bringing the events in the piece to life. For me, writing begins with observation and intellectual curiosity. Both journalistic writing and fiction almost demands that. I have no idea which parts of my brain I’m using, but I think I was wired to observe and give thought to the world and people around me from a very early age.

If writing is a creative process, how does the aspiring writer manage the creative side with the more mundane, organised side, such as having a schedule for writing and submitting, and meeting deadlines?

That’s a hard question to answer since every individual has their own methods and abilities to be organized in anything they do. I have a guidebook, Getting Your Short Stories Published, published by Clarendon House Publications, that is available on Amazon, that provides the method I use for organising my writing and submissions. Even in that I caution the reader that it is my method, and it may not work for everyone. If I can be conceited about the guidebook, it has some very useful information in it, including the importance of knowing grammar and punctuation, why reading the submission guidelines is essential, and understanding how editors evaluate submissions.

How do you get motivated to write?

Motivation has never been a problem for me. What helps is that I set goals and quotas: how many stories do I want to write in a given month? How many words do I want to write on any given day? Am I on track for my yearly quota of published stories?

Where do you get your ideas, and how do they form into a story?

I begin with a title that has popped into my head, not always inspired by anything in particular, but sometimes a result of reading a news article or seeing something happening while outside. I’ve also been fortunate enough to travel, to meet lots of interesting people, and I have a very fertile imagination born of a love of art, music and movies, so those things are always stirring around in my head. Once a title has been formed, I then think about how the story will begin and end. In that way I am a “plotter,” (someone that plots out the entire story). I fill in the middle as I write. In that way I am also a “pantser.”(someone who flies by the seat of their pants all the way through their pants).

What’s your actual writing process – and is it fuelled by anything?

I don’t really have a process. I tend to write in shifts throughout the day or night, mostly when I feel like it. I have goals, as I said, but I don’t allow myself to become stressed if I lag behind or don’t meet them. I enjoy the process of writing, of seeing the words, sentences and paragraphs appear on the blank page.

How do you find out about opportunities for submissions, for example for literary journals and anthologies?

I have a subscription to Duotrope which is a publication search site. Their fee for use is either $5.00 per month or $50.00 per year. The great thing about them that is unlike any other search site is that they send out a weekly email that lists publications looking for submissions. I get about 80-90% of my submission opportunities from Duotrope. They can be found at https://duotrope.com/search/catalog.aspx. I also subscribe to Authors Publish https://authorspublish.com/ and to a number of publications that send out monthly newsletters and calls for submissions. I also find opportunities for submissions on social media, both in the large number of Facebook writing groups I belong to, and on Twitter. There are a number of editors who like my work and ask for stories from me.

What do you attribute to your incredible success in having over 600 short stories published?

This is going to sound like bragging, but I’m a good writer. I have a thorough understanding of short story structure and I write stories that have a broad appeal. I was told by another editor that I’m a “commercial writer,” meaning I write what readers want. I also write stories based on what publications are looking for. I found out early it was a waste of time and energy to write a story and then try to find a home for it. I use what the publications are seeking as prompts, and then I write a story from the prompt. I also write a lot of stories, so it’s a simple law of averages that the more stories I submit, the more of them get accepted – of course if only they are well-written. I also write in every genre which is extremely helpful in being able to adjust my themes, plots and characters to match a genre. 

Tell us about your efforts to support emerging writers through Short Story Town and publishing anthologies with Sweetycat Press?

Short Story Town is a Sweetycat Press online literary magazine that paid emerging for their stories and narrative poems. It will be closing down on June 1 after a year of operations to allow me to focus on the anthologies. Under the Sweetycat Press publishing imprint over 1,000 prose writers and poets worldwide have had their works published. The anthologies are varied and each one has a theme. So far Sweetycat Press has published an episodic crime anthology titled The Whole Wide World, an anthology titled Landscapes & Cityscapes, followed by A Love Letter (Or Poem) To . . ., Stories and Poems in the Song of Life, Beautiful: In the Eye of the Beholder, and Movement: Our Bodies in Action. On July, I will be giving out $900 in combined cash awards in the Jewels in the Queen’s Crown contest to 20 writers poets who have had a prose work or poem published in one of the anthologies judged by a small panel to be the best of the best.

What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

Never take advice about writing from anyone who has less experience with writing than you do. Readers are important but being told what a reader likes or dislikes about what they read is a lot different than being told how to write. Also, don’t get freaked out about a rejection. Everyone gets them. Shrug it off and move on. A rejection will never cause you physical harm.

And your next projects?

An anthology will be published from the Jewels in the Queen’s Crown contest and then two anthologies are planned for later in the year. Anyone interested in writing a story or poem for inclusion in an anthology should check in regularly with the Sweetycat Press website https://www.sweetycatpress.com/ Unfortunately, I don’t pay the writers/poets whose works are accepted, but the anthologies do provide platforms for showcasing a writer or poet’s talent and skill.

Steve Carr’s Twitter is @carrsteven960. His website is https://www.stevecarr960.com/ He is on Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/steven.carr.35977

Keith Lyons (keithlyons.net) is an award-winning writer, author and creative writing mentor, who gave up learning to play bagpipes in a Scottish pipe band to focus on after-dark tabs of dark chocolate, early morning slow-lane swimming, and the perfect cup of masala chai tea. Find him@KeithLyonsNZ or blogging at Wandering in the World (http://wanderingintheworld.com).

PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL

Categories
Slices from Life

Infinite Possibilities & Mysterious Riddles

A new book launched this month enables unimpeded international travel with open borders. Readers can easily fly to destinations around the globe, as Keith Lyons finds out. 

There are no pre-screening forms to fill out, no health tests required, and no quarantines to endure. You don’t even need to mask up. That’s right, you could instantly be transported to another world, another country, another place. That’s the unexpected bonus for borderless readers in the The Whole Wide World (Sweetycat Press), a unique crime fiction anthology co-authored by different 80 writers, with each chapter set in a new location. 

Locations include Chennai, New Delhi, Bangalore, Kochin, and Kolkata, as well as the Maldives, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Japan. Through the wonderful medium of the printed word, access to exotic places can only happen virtually — through the imagination — rather than in real life.

The newly released detective book was written and produced during a time when most of the world’s 7.9 billion population have been under Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns, stay-at-home orders or cross-border travel restrictions. However, armchair travelers and avid sleuths can follow the twists and turns of a transnational manhunt crisscrossing the globe. 

The plot centres around efforts to solve one of the greatest heists ever pulled off, with Detective Curly Knucklewad and his assistant Wanda Wowzer pursuing leads and clues in search of the thief who stole a secret recipe.

Authors selected for the anthology include award-winning detective writers, lawyers, TV news correspondents, and college English professors. There is even a Vietnam War Top Secret counter-insurgency writer and press agency photographer.

Sweetycat Press publisher and editor Steve Carr wanted the experimental project to highlight not just the 80 authors selected for inclusion in the book, but also diverse settings throughout the planet, ranging from Kolkata’s Chinatown to ‘Indian Switzerland’, Ooty. “The book is really a global initiative, with contributing authors from 18 countries around the world, including the United States, Australia, India, and Canada, as well as the Maldives, Nigeria, Israel, and Mexico. As a result, The Whole Wide World takes readers on a journey to nearly two dozen nations, as well as under-water, back to the 1970s, and to the final frontier: outer space.”

Mr Carr says although contributors were given a short brief with just two main characters and the master plot, and the book was compiled in the order the submissions were received, suspense is maintained throughout the novel. “Each chapter has a unique location, with every author bringing their own fresh perspective, voice and tone to the manhunt. The parts range from comic to chilling. Even though the locations jump around from one episode to the next, incredibly each instalment builds anticipation and follows on from the previous part, with the storyline remaining consistent.”

For some contributors, such as Myanmar’s San Lin Tun, English is not their first language: “With around two billion people speaking or reading English, I am pleased to have my work and my location represented in this global project. Many of the original Sherlock Holmes stories were adapted and translated into the Burmese language in the 1930s, so in placing my episode of the crime caper in Myanmar, I am following in the footsteps of that tradition. I have always wanted to write Yangon Noir, and this anthology gives me a chance to showcase it.”

The short action-packed episodes of ‘The Whole Wide World’ will have broad appeal, says Thailand-based travel writer Christopher Winnan, author of Around the World in Eighty Documentaries.”This new book about an international manhunt is a great idea, and in this post-pandemic world, it shows the value of co-operation and collaboration beyond borders, as well as the value of armchair travel in exploring the world in a more sustainable, zero-carbon way. The Whole Wide World joins the list of ‘must-reads’ for 2021 for any stay-at-home sleuth-hound, amateur private investigator or wannabe gumshoe. Ultimately The Whole Wide World is about re-discovering the joy of international travel and place, something almost all of us are missing right now.”

The Whole Wide World publisher Virginia-based Sweetycat Press (www.Sweetycatpress.com) was founded in 2020 to support and encourage new writers, and each year produces a Who’s Who of Emerging Writers. 

With some of the biggest names in crime fiction failing to make the cut and new debut authors among those shortlisted for the Scottish McIlvanny Prize this week, Mr Carr believes readers might discover some exciting new talent in the pages of The Whole Wide World, even if they don’t solve the case with Detective Curly Knucklewad. “Readers are fascinated by the characters, the tension of their relationships, and the unresolved mystery, as well as the broader themes of intellectual property theft, the quest for answers, and ultimately, human nature.”

.

Keith Lyons (keithlyons.net) is an award-winning writer, author and creative writing mentor, who gave up learning to play bagpipes in a Scottish pipe band to focus on after-dark tabs of dark chocolate, early morning slow-lane swimming, and the perfect cup of masala chai tea. Find him@KeithLyonsNZ or blogging at Wandering in the World (http://wanderingintheworld.com).

.

PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL