Prompt to Publication | Shwetha HS
Today we are celebrating Shwetha HS. Since 12 Short Stories started in 2017 we’ve seen many of our writers go on to publish and accomplish great things with their writing. The Prompt to Publication emails are all about celebrating these writers and their wonderful stories.
I hope these interviews will help you and teach you how to use 12 Short Stories to build your author platform.
Author feature: I’d like to introduce Shwetha HS.
Shwetha has been a member of 12 Short Stories since 2018. She completed the challenge in 2018 and 2019.
How has 12 Short Stories helped you write and publish?
Shwetha HS: I came across 12SS through another writer-friendly group called Wrimo India. At that time, I was lacking the discipline to sit down and put my pen to paper. Yes, I first write the story by hand and then type it into my computer. With 12SS, I saw the possibility of making myself write, even if it is only once a month and only to meet the deadline. Many times I have written the stories on the morning of the deadline! But with 12SS, I never felt like quitting.
Some of the short stories I wrote on 12SS have been published in a few international journals and anthologies. In fact, the very first short story I wrote as a part of 12SS was selected for a magazine right away. Eight out of the eleven short stories in my recently self-published short story collection, Creator’s Image, were written with the 12SS community.
What did you learn that you applied to your work
Shwetha HS: I learnt how to express what the story needs with the exact number of words and how to show and not tell, which is a very important skill.
Did the feedback help?
Shwetha HS: Apart from providing deadlines, the 12SS community gave me feedback and the motivation to polish my writing skills and edit my stories to make the word flow better for the reader. Of course, I need editors, but with the feedback, I reduce the work of the editor.
Did the deadlines and wordcounts help?
Shwetha HS: Of course. Otherwise, my book would not have come out at all and my other stories would not have been published in international journals and anthologies. Creator’s Image is dedicated to Mia Botha and the 12 Short Stories community.
Shwetha H S is an ambivert writer, a daydreamer and a food technologist. Her works have appeared in magazines like Aftermath, UnBound, Indus Woman Writing and others along with a short story in an urban horror anthology, ‘City of Screams.’ She is also a poetess; her works are compiled in ‘Blues Brewery.’ She is currently working on two novels, two novellas, and comics.
Shwetha’s favourite story on 12 Short Stories
Shwetha HS: The very first short story I wrote on 12SS is my favourite. It is called Dummana, written for the prompt, The Bridge. Read Shwetha’s favourite 12 Short Stories story.
Prompt to Publication | Shwetha HS: Read excerpts from the stories in short story collection “Creator’s Image”
Creator’s Image: Mind consoled itself and tried to understand every new development that had stemmed out of the powers it had granted and saw that these life forms could only decide for themselves and not for others. Also, they had not altered the surface of the marble much. Rejuvenated from its sleep, frustrated with life forms, and determined to get them back under its control, Mind was up and ready to play its games again.
Said and Unsaid: While a thought-engrossed Payal hired an autorickshaw and went on her way back to the hotel, Vineet had reached the heart of Coorg having searched for Payal everywhere at the bus stop, including looking inside the buses. He showed Payal’s picture to people asking if they had seen her. Their responses did not help him. Unable to think of what else to do, he walked back towards the hotel and continued asking people on the way if they had seen the girl in the picture. In this manner of inquiry, he spotted a boy getting into a truck and went to give his contact number to the boy, so the boy could call him if he saw Payal on his way. By now, Vineet was sure she had not come to this vicinity. Vineet showed the boy Payal’s picture.
‘She was sitting right here a few minutes ago,’ the boy said pointing at the steps in front of the bakery.
‘Where did she go?’ Vineet frantically asked.
‘What do I know about her whereabouts? She was crazy, talking to herself. But the last I saw her was when she got into an autorickshaw.’
Without waiting for a response from Vineet, the boy got into his truck and drove away. Guessing that Payal went back to the hotel, he too hired an autorickshaw and asked the driver to drive fast to the given address.
Change in Paris: Divya would have strangled her mother-in-law if she could dive into her phone, but she reigned her anger in.
‘Have you told Gaurav about this, maa?
‘Of course, I told him in the morning. But I asked him not to tell you. I wanted to give you this surprise.’
And I will be surprised if I ever become pregnant with your son’s child, thought Divya, laughing to herself.
Here We Are: She hands over the box to me. I stare at it for some time. She has made up her mind. Otherwise she would not have put so much effort in collecting all my gifts to her in this box. I open the box to see its contents – a ceramic mug with our photo printed on it, our first outing’s framed picture, a beaded bracelet that I had got for her in a local fair, a book that she wanted to read so much but was doubtful to spend money on it as there were no reviews, and a small box. I don’t know what is there in that small box. I have not given it to her. I look up at her. She is watching me, my every movement, every expression. I look down into the box again, pick up the small box and open it. It has many chocolate wrappers stuffed in it.
Doses of Dreams: A vase falls at the bedroom door. The old lady’s eyes move in the direction of the sound. Praveen too turns around. There is a swift movement of a shadow inside the bedroom. Soon they hear Lakshmi’s sobs. For a moment they worry about her crying and stressing herself, but then a look of relief comes over their faces when they realise that she knows the truth now.
To Each His Own: While the old man drank his monetarily-free-in-return-for-his-story coffee, the baristas were back at their work. They were talking to him and working simultaneously. Multitasking, an occupational hazard, thought the old man. They asked his name and told their names to him. None mattered to the old man, who sat gazing at the ‘arrival’ gates and spoke to the baristas. Finally, the same barista who invited the old man for a coffee got to business.
The Glorious: They stood watching the woman and the girl haggle with the shopkeeper for a red lehenga. From their body language, the three men could understand that the shopkeeper kept saying no and the girl kept asking to reduce the price of the lehenga in her hand. After a minute, the girl was pointing out at their racks of sarees and said something. The men thought she must be saying that she would buy a saree too from him and he should give them more discount. The shopkeeper did not seem to be interested.
Check, Mate: I filled the dog’s bowls with Pedigree and water. He can eat and drink whenever he wants without disturbing me. I picked the newspaper and pulled out the additional sheet with party pictures and health tips on the front page. I unfolded the additional sheet to find the serial I regularly read. I found the author’s email ID at the bottom of the column and the editor’s email ID at the top right corner of the page. I loved the serial and always wanted to send a fan mail appreciating their work. But I never thought I would be sending the kind of words that I intended to send now. With the editor in CC, I shot an email to the author.
The Kingdom: When the girls finished colouring, they heard footsteps coming up. They hurried to hide the map and colour pencils in time and slopped on their beds pretending to be reading random books. Their mother opened the door of their bedroom.
‘What are my princesses doing?’ she asked smiling at her daughters.
‘We are reading, mommy,’ the girls answered in unison.
‘Aren’t you girls hungry? It’s already late.’
The girls looked at the wall clock. It was eight o’clock. Dinner time. They walked with their mother, leaving behind their plans of expansion for the kingdom for the next day.
Branded: Kishore sat down next to her on the couch.
‘I will tell you only if you promise me to stay true to your feelings after listening to my story behind this tattoo. Do you promise?’
Kavipriya placed her hand on his outstretched one.
Tears of the Goddess: When the morning came, there was a ruckus at the temple, and in the whole village. People were scandalised looking at the widowed goddess in the temple. The man in white from the previous night filed a complaint of vandalism at the nearest police station. But Raju continued making more idols and expressing his condolences to any customer who spoke to him of the tragedy while buying idols from him. In intervals, he looked up towards the sky but found no clouds looming above the village. It pleased him. He became more confident and made more and more idols.
Shwetha HS: Creator’s Image, the titular story, is the first short story I ever wrote back in 2015. I always wanted to write but after the first one, I just wrote in a haphazard manner, like putting stray words in a shelter. I didn’t know anything about the structure of the story, I still don’t know much. But I slowly learnt the art, and I am still learning more and more from many other writers. The more I learnt, the more stories came to me and the more I wrote.
I was very apprehensive about publishing my short stories for the world to read. I worried about how the readers would react. What if someone didn’t like it and wrote a bad review? Then I realised that I cannot please every reader. I myself am a reader. I like the work of some author’s, but not of others. Likewise, some readers would like my short stories and some won’t. I braced myself and put my short stories into a collection and published them. At that moment, I felt like a carpenter. I had made a piece of furniture and assembled it to make something comfortable for a reader to sit in. I was readily vulnerable to receive feedback from the readers. I was vulnerably happy when the first copy sold. Buy the book.
Shwetha’s magazine publications:
‘Ibu, my toy is still there,’ he said, and before his mother could respond, he jumped out of her arms and ran to the tree on which they were before the trees fell.
Bapak, who was sure that his son was hiding with his mother, saw his wife running after their son running towards the fallen tree. He too ran after them but the logs that fell around him deterred his pace. He wished he wasn’t seeing what he saw happening in front of him.
A man committed suicide at Dummana a week ago. He had crossed the bridge along with his wife to go to a homestay on the other side of the river where the couple were to spend four days. A security guard remembers this man’s face as he looked perturbed on the bridge on the day he checked in at the homestay with his wife. But the security guard did not pay heed to this man because he was there with his wife. It came as a shock to the villagers when he jumped off the bridge and killed himself. But the shock soon turned into confusion and slowly became a realisation, thanks to the explanation his wife gave on why they were there to spend four days and that they were not aware of Dummana’s reputation.
The couple read the menu to order food. Sumukh signals a waiter, informing him that they are ready to order. When the waiter comes over, takes their order and turns around to go back, Shivali gets busy looking around. The kitchen’s door is behind her and she does not notice a face peeping through the looking window at them. She does not even notice Sumukh drop his left hand beside the table to give a go-ahead signal to the face at the kitchen door.
Well done, Shwetha.
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