Dear Penpal

By Shweta Taneja

Trends in plots and publishers, optimistic life tips, insights and inspirations, submission deadlines and most of all, friendship and support. One letter, every month on a Sunday.

Trends in plots and publishers, optimistic life tips, insights and inspirations, submission deadlines and most of all, friendship and support.

One letter, every month on a Sunday.

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Dear Penpal 13: Rejected by a publisher. It's probably not you

Dear Penpal,Do you know why your book was rejected by a publisher. When most writers get rejected, they feel anxious. They wonder if they're good enough, if their writing is of any level, or is it because they don't have connections or influence? It's none of…


Letter 12: How to create work opportunities for yourself

Dear Penpal,You already know how my recent award-winning book happened because of a rejection. The editor who rejected my fiction for kids, was looking for non-fiction books to make children go gaga over science. I pitched her a book on Indian scientists, she…


L11: Let's talk copyright and contracts. And why you need to do them right

Dear PenpalLast week, I received a message on my LinkedIn from a writer. They wanted to know how they could make sure their book is copyrighted before self-publishing. I was amazed that they do not know the fact that as a creator of original content, they aut…


L10: Do you switch genres, as a reader or a writer?

Dear PenpalMore than a decade ago, when I started to write fiction, I didn’t have a genre in mind. I started with mystery, soon heading to fantasy and science fiction and two years ago, wrote a book on Indian science. Currently, I’m writing a sci-fi and at th…


L9: About quitting a book and getting an award, all in the same week

Dear Penpal,Last week, I was on the verge of quitting the book I’ve been working on. I hyperventilated, panicked and thought about all the characters I would be leaving behind, the world that I'd be giving up on. I’ll be honest. Since a few months, the book h…


L8: What’s solarpunk and why you need to write it

Dear PenpalBefore we were plunged into a seasonal pandemic-caused cycle of socializing and distancing, I loved reading dystopian science fiction. Tales about the future where everything was bleak—protagonists struggled in corrupt authoritarian intergalactic, …


Letter 7: May the year of 2022 be your best creative self

Dear PenpalThe last month of the year always makes me sentimental. Does that happen to you too? End of 2020, I announced that a dark period of creative slump I was feeling all of 2018-2019 was over. I had struggled with writing through this period, without re…


Letter 6: Allow your ideas to metamorphose into books

Dear PenpalEarlier this month, I had two conversations – one in person and one over email with people who wanted to write something. They wanted to write very different genres and came to me with quite different questions about the process of writing. Their q…


Letter 5: The joy of running in Monsoon and writing a new novel

Dear Penpal,The other day, I was out running with a friend, enjoying the recently opened city after a traumatic second wave. It was a gorgeous sky (oh the lovely Monsoon skies of Bengaluru!), good company and a lake where pelicans and cormorants lazily scanne…


Letter 4: On rejections and building resilience in writing and life

Dear Penpal,Exactly two years ago, my current editor rejected my brand new science-fiction manuscript. This wasn’t the first time I’d faced rejection. I’ve been writing fiction and non-fiction for two decades now and have a collection of rejection emails, mes…


Letter 3: You became my penpal thanks to two kids & what I learnt from them

Welcome! Dear Penpal is a fortnightly newsletter by me, Shweta Taneja, to support you in your creative journey with tips, opportunities and a few laughs. THANK YOU for being here.


Letter 2: You don't need to be productive always. Zone out, heal and find creativity

Dear Penpal,How has your fortnight been? I’ve already become better.When I wrote to you in April, I told you about the tough time I’ve been going through. Writing it brought me messages, emails and phone calls from a lot of you.Most of these messages were lik…


Letter 1: Dealing with covid-19 and starting a letter of hope

Dear Penpal,It’s been a tough month for all of us. For me too.I heard the news that all my family, six of them, in Delhi were covid-19 positive. I wanted to go to them, help out with food, logistics, hugs, anything really. However, covid-19 is such a creature…