This year we started off a little late with our challenges as there have been many changes in the BWC, our members know what these were. We are gradually hitting our stride and we have the first of our monthly challenges ready to publish.

Our Reviewer Pankaja Srinivasan

Pankaja Srinivasan

Pankaja Srinivasan has been a journalist for thirty years. She has worked with Indian Express and India Today, and is currently the Senior Deputy Editor heading the MetroPlus edition of The Hindu, Coimbatore. The Hindu is a highly respected newspaper in South India and has been a daily newspaper since 1889.

Pankaja was educated in Kolkata and Delhi, she began her career in Star & Style, in Mumbai, in the 1980s. She has been with The Hindu since 2006. She enjoys food, travelling, Hindi film music, and writing about all three.  Pankaja is also the author of two children’s books, Kaka and the Mouse (June 1, 2010) and more recently, The Case of the Stolen Smells, both published by Karadi Tales Co.

Thank you Pankaja, for making the time from your busy schedule to read and comment on our writers’ entries.

51kj0CX6W0L._SY415_BO1,204,203,200_         51UHFiYfSbL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

The Prompts

Number 1 – This passage could be something to respond to, not something that needs to be the first sentence or included in the story. It’s just food for thought.

“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.” Stephen King, Different Seasons

Number 2: This is a visual prompt to which the writers had to respond based on the questions below.


What’s it like to live here? How do you get from one place to another? Can anyone else get in? What was it like growing up here compared to where you are now?

Number 3: 

Write a story toward the ending below: If it no longer suits the sentence when you’re done, then change it, but at least start with the intention to reach that ending.

“Maybe they’d meet again one day. Maybe they wouldn’t. It didn’t matter any more. She waved good-bye.” Gail Carson Levine, Writing Magic.

Number 4: A bonus photo


How do you feel about your book being somewhere in here? What’s it like to live here? Who owns this shop?

Out of Place by Sarah Clarke

(Prompt #4) Based on the bookshop picture

Roland retrieved the key from the depths of his left hand trouser pocket.  The pocket was one of those deep ones that seem to go on and on, just too far to work your finger to the bottom and just too narrow to scoot the contents out easily.

Every morning it was the same.  It had to be the same.  Despite the hassle, the key had to be in this pocket and in this pair of trousers and no other. Otherwise his day would be a disaster.  He was convinced of that.  His mother was constantly on at him to chuck the trousers out but he couldn’t.  No, he wouldn’t.  Who cares if the colours were faded and there were patches on top of patches? The trousers were the constant in his chaotic world; a world where his mind was never still.  The key in his pocket was calming.  He could fiddle with it without anyone noticing, turning it round and round so many times a day that it was probably the shiniest in the world from its action against his fingers. He liked to think it had magic properties.

Roland wiggled the key out of its hideaway.  He loved the way it glistened in the sunlight making it look golden.  He wondered how something so plain and ordinary could be so much more beautiful when viewed through a different lens. There were so many parallels with his life.  Roland let out a sigh and slipped the key into the lock, turning it with a sharp click. As usual the unlocked door was stuck and he had to give it a big shove. It sprang open and Roland stumbled into the bookshop.

Immediately Roland sensed something was out of place. How could that be?  He had been the last to leave the store yesterday and he had checked the shelves at 5.29 as he always did, just prior to closing time at 5.30.  Even though he had counted 5,347 books at the last stock take, he knew the exact location of every volume.  In fact, every book had its rightful place and no one was allowed to move them.  There was no browsing in this bookstore.  Customers came and asked for their book and without fail he was able find it, in what to onlookers seemed an illogical mess. Sometimes they tried to catch him out by asking for a book they had handed over years ago, a book given to his father for safe keeping long before Roland took over shop.  He was proud that had never been wrong.  Not once. Not ever.

This was no ordinary bookstore – it was a safe keeping store for precious books, books that the owners loved with all their heart and soul. Books that brought back cherished memories.  Books that had special meaning to the owner and hidden messages within.  Books that people didn’t want to throw out, though they knew they should.  Books they hated to lose and wanted to keep in a safe place, away from the prying eyes of the Electronic Book Enforcement Agency who were trying to eradicate the use of all hard copy books in their quest for complete control of the knowledge bank.

Roland’s eyes scanned the shelves.  Yes, there were 3 books out of place; one on pile 17 adjacent to the door, the second on pile 56 behind the counter and a third on pile 89a, a pile reserved for special edition books – the ones with hidden mistakes that made them doubly treasured by their owners…

 Shoring Secrets by Preeti Rana

(Prompt: #3) “Maybe they’d meet again one day. Maybe they wouldn’t. It didn’t matter anymore. She waved good-bye.” Gail Carson Levine, Writing Magic.

“I can’t be happy then sad then happy then sad…gladdening or saddening….what is this weaving…. wefts through warps as if my feelings are on an old clackity wooden loom….gloom is better…. it embraces me in a soft muslin hug so I can rest my head against her breast knowing she can keep me there forever…she doesn’t waver….but waits…I know she waits… I feel her breath on my nape… till I settle back into her after some restless urge or a surge of joyous escape…..that finally tires me… and I’m back in that old familiar hold…to her pat pat pat…..feeling her weathered, knowing hands smoothen my hair….tucking the strands behind my ear…..there-there…there’s nothing….yet she croons …in a lullaby rocking…. These are the depths that I lie in…. hammock-ed between saturated memories…sometimes to the tune of yaman or malkaus … so this is my secret shore with my sand castles…. here the waves and I touch toes….we breathe together…form ripples in the sea air and sand ….maybe we’ll meet again one day…. maybe we won’t….. It doesn’t matter anymore….I wave good-bye as if he sees me….but careful to turn away sooner than him…before eyes meet and my myth dissolves…forms another hill by a salty lake.”

Note: I am awaiting a response from our third entrant. But in the meantime, thank you Sarah Clarke and Preeti Rana for participating.