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Have You ever received unexpected Positive Reviews?

A to Z stories

Stories from A to Z

Two years ago, I wrote a collection of Flash Fiction: A to Z Stories of  Life and Death, which started from Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.

That was in 2011. I appeared in a few blogs for interviews and guest posts hosted by a few very kind blog friends, made sundry posts on Facebook, then stopped. It was an experiment in publishing an ebook, and that’s where I left it. Till date I have no idea how many copies have sold on Amazon– those excel sheets intimidate me, and since I figure I can’t be making more than the price of a dozen or so coffees, I’ve let sleeping dogs lie. (I’ll never make a successful Indie author, I can see that, sigh.)

Imagine my surprise when I received a tweet recently, from a reader who was recommending my book. On a whim, I googled up A to Z Stories of Life and Death, and these are the reviews I found:

At the Conscientious Reader by Stephanie Hasty: “I gotta tell you, I’m pretty impressed with these stories and they remind me a lot of Annie Proloux’s Wyoming Stories and Sue Miller’s book Inventing the Abbott’s and Other Stories. They are sparse and true and sexy and tragic. They are about life and each one has a taste of bittersweet.

At Echoes of the Pen by Paul Ruddock: “As a European reader, I was captivated by the author’s accounts of life in other cultures, many of which are saddening and hard to comprehend; our (European) notions of poverty and depravation are quickly turned on their heads by the honest and sensitive way in which they form the backdrop to the stories. Elements of the storyline in each case often deliberately remain unwritten, i.e. implied or hinted at, forcing the reader to use their imagination and interpret each story in their own way and really think about what they are reading. Some of the stories conclude with a glimmer of hope for the future set against the harrowing circumstances of what’s gone before; others do not, which for me really gives them added authenticity – life isn’t all about happy endings.”

At Keep Calm and Write On by Kristy Feltenberger Gillespie:” Twenty-six bite size stories comprise A to Z Stories of Life and Death by D. Biswas. In just a few paragraphs, Biswas manages to tell a complete, captivating story.”

At Different Frontiers by Fabio Fernandes: “She decided to blog not posts, but short narratives. Narratives of love, death, pain and hope. If you like flash fiction, this collection was made for you. Biswas’ stories are short, (very) sharp shocks – cultural, emotional shocks.”

Animal My Soul by Martin Raybould “Damyanti describes herself as someone who “lives more in the head than the world” but these stories are far from being disengaged from the real world. They tell of people torn by indecision or intent on some desperate course of action, of abusers and victims ….and of fish!  In P for Perilous, a character seems to speak for her:  “The stories I have told you, they’re quirky no doubt but they’re real, somehow”.

In book form you can set aside a few minutes to sample these “bite-sized stories” one at a time or binge on them all at once. To savour their flavour best, I’d recommend the former .

My favourite opening line is  “Raju woke up each morning to the sight of his mother’s rear end” in O for Okay and the story I liked the most is I Have A Secret , the story of a 50-year-old woman isolated by unexpressed homosexual inclinations who painfully reflects “I know now why no man’s body could ever satisfy me. Not even my husband who gave me three children”.

Whatever the subject matter, the compassionate voice of the writer draws you into these worlds and, like all the best short stories, what she leaves out is as important as what is included.

I have seen reviews of the book before on Amazon, Smashwords and Goodreads, but the ones above are new and completely unexpected because I put no effort into promoting the book beyond leaving them in the sidebar of this blog and Amlokiblogs.

I’m so thankful to these readers who found the book who knows how, read it, and devoted time and effort in publishing a review on their blogs. This gives me so much hope– that my writing perhaps has a life beyond my pen and paper.

It makes me feel happy that someone, somewhere, read my stuff, and liked it enough to spend time writing about it– with no effort or knowledge at all on my part! I see writers and reviewers at odds everywhere, but my reviewers, thankfully and incredibly, seem to have only kindness for me.

Makes me wonder– I have flash pieces lying here and there, should I collect them, or edit and write new ones and make another book? On this blog I have these that I could find that aren’t already in the collection: Hymn of Faith, Shadow of Your Smile, The Last Day of a Southern Summer, Beautiful Eyes, Let’s go for a walk– You and I, It wasn’t her fault. Then there are the 26 stories I wrote for the A to Z Challenge in 2012.

Maybe after I’m through the second draft of my WIP, I’ll find all these scattered stories, cull them, replenish them, and do another collection of A to Z Stories.


Have you ever received unexpected positive reviews? Do you write or read flash fiction? Would you buy a collection like A to Z Stories of Life and Death?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Gene'O says:

    I say collect them and get them to press just as quick as you can.

    I love this post, btw. The respect you show to your readers here is laudable.

  • Brenda says:

    This warms my heart. I love the reviews you found. Makes me want to read your book, definitely. And makes me want to publish my short stories, my little fairy tales. Or my haibun. Or poetry. Really, I like to read everything and write everything. I am intoxicated by the written word and its interaction with life. I am enjoying your blog.

  • Damyanti, thank you for stopping by Bold Blind Beauty and congratulations on the positive reviews on your book. I’m new to blogging and am amazed by the different writing styles, volume of blogs and the networks of people drawn to specific blogs. It’s fascinating and the nice thing is with the vast amount of people around the world and taking into account varied interests there will always be something for everyone. Thank you again and I’ll be sure to be on the lookout for new posts from you.

  • The River says:

    What a great sign to keep going. I hope you do Damyanti.

  • Jen says:

    What a lovely gift, those reviews! And what a fun way to get an e-book: the A-Z Challenge! Best of luck in the challenge this year (I re-discovered your blog thanks to your post over at the Challenge blog…happy to find you again!)


  • MoonGyrl says:

    Congratulations on your works, you have a very nice expression of the written word. Just wanted to let you know that I nominated you for Field of Flowers Award, if you choose to accept. No worries if wish not to.

  • bronxboy55 says:

    It’s no surprise at all that you’re getting such positive reviews. Your writing is fresh and unique. I think you should publish another collection.

  • swraynes says:

    This is amazing! Congrats to you. I definitely think you should pull some other pieces together and keep going!

  • ilakshee says:

    But isn’t that wonderful! Do go ahead with more!

  • That is uber exciting news! Makes me want to actually publish something!

  • juststormy says:

    I have nominated you for a Sunshine Award for the beauty you bring to blogging. You may accept the award at “Little Wing” . If you don’t have time to accept the award, I understand completely. But I wanted to let you know you are appreciated. Have a great day!

  • Hi! congratulations on all your great reviews! and i’ve nominated you for a liebster blog award (check out my blog for more info 🙂

  • I’m a big fan of flash fiction. Congratulations on so many positive reviews for your work!

  • Jayne says:

    It’s so nice to know that somewhere out there, your work is being appreciated and shared. That’s good energy.

  • mollyovenden says:

    Damyanti, thank you for having a look at my blog. I was happy to find that you are in love with writing as well. Well done for posing questions in your posts, such a good idea to get people involved. Looking forward to learning from you.

  • gretaallison says:

    You deserve to pat yourself on the back. That really is a fantastic achievement.

  • What an awesome happening Damyanti :)… Fabulous..I have to get a copy for myself now…I am a sucker for short stories from life…. Congratulations and a big applause.. 🙂

  • Mohenjo says:

    Reblogged this on James' World 2.

  • This may be cliche, but sincerely, I wish your blog More Power 🙂 I’ll try to be active in writing fiction as well.*crossing fingers*

  • feltenk says:

    Yes, def write another flash fiction collection! 😉

  • rhchatlien says:

    Congratulations on the pleasant surprise! My book’s only been out a month, so no unexpected reviews yet. But I’m hoping. 🙂

  • Alison Juste says:

    Can’t say that I have (not that I published anything). The last unexpected ‘reviews’ I got were on a writing website (I long since abandoned 😡 ).
    But that is inspiring indeed! Congrats 😉

  • tedwardredd says:

    That’s amazing 🙂 congrats

  • This is your editor talking, D. Gather up the old stories. Edit them. Write new stories. Edit them. Take the best and put them into a collection. Put the rest away for the next round. And holler if you need me further.

  • I now wish I’d written you a reader fan mail instead of a blog post 🙂 I loved these stories and another e-book sounds like a great idea.

  • J.R.Barker says:

    Yes, I decided to google my book one day, just out of boredom, and I found a lovely review comparing me to Jane Yolen on GoodReads, I didn’t know if GoodReads existence then so it was a double surprise.

  • That’s great! Congratulations.

  • Anita says:

    Really lovely! Wish you lots more 🙂

  • Adi says:

    Fantastic! I know that can happen sometimes.

  • Abraham says:

    Very good for you!

  • Wow, that’s great! Congratulations on the wonderful reviews and I hope you have continued success…it’s the best feeling in the world to know people are enjoying what you’ve written 🙂

  • Cimmorene says:

    You have every right to feel good about yourself for things like this, D. You put a lot of work into them. I love it when other storytellers get the respect they deserve. I can’t wait to read more of your material. I hope, one day, to hear you’ve read something of mine and found it worth your time.

  • marianallen says:

    Oh, yes, please do make another collection, dear Damyanti! I love your writing so!

    • Damyanti says:

      Marian, see what I mean by kind words from friends? Though we have never met, you’re a good friend, and way too kind with my writing 🙂

  • The reviews well deserved, but yes, I agree it’s especially satisfying to read of a stranger’s appreciation when it comes ‘out of the blue’ so to speak. It’s also worth bearing in mind that for every published review you get there are probably several more readers who also enjoyed them too but just haven’t reviewed them in print or online – not because they didn’t enjoy them but simply because not every reader has any inclination towards writing themselves, but you can be sure there are many more times as unknown fans out there too. And please put together another collection; I’ll be first in the queue to read them…

    • Damyanti says:

      Paul, thank you once again for your review, and your kind words here.

      Like a lot of writers, I’m an insecure soul, a huge self-critic. Validation from a reader like you is a good thing to cling on to when the words won’t come, or when I hate each syllable I write.

  • BTCarter says:

    Wow, that’s great! A welcomed surprise, I’m sure.

    ” should I collect them, or edit and write new ones and make another book?”

    I’d say, yes absolutely! You’ve got that following for those stories, I’m sure the readers want more and the reviewers would be interested in knowing you have more to tell.

    • Damyanti says:

      Of course, it was welcomed, and so this post in gratitude. Every time I really hate my writing, which is every week, I’ll come back and look at these comments and find the courage to put another word on paper.

      I’m considering another collection, but feel hesitant, afraid. I like writing, but publishing? It scares me a little.

  • Austa Gio says:

    Congratulations! Always good to hear encouraging words from strangers and friends alike 🙂

    • Damyanti says:

      Thank you. Encouragement from friends is welcome, but the unexpected ones from strangers are a shot in the arm, a sort of validation of being able to communicate across time and place.

  • Writers are their own worst critics. The readers proved you wrong, and I’m glad they did. I enjoy writing flash fiction so will look for yours.

    • Damyanti says:

      You’re so right, Michelle, I automatically hate most things I write, because I wrote it, and because they must be bad. So it is nice to have an absolute stranger say otherwise.

  • Sarah Mae says:

    It’s amazing to get bonus praise. I dont know about you, but it always seems to come just when you need it-I love pingbacks because you get that immediate love, but there is something extra wonderful about stumbling onto total strangers talking about you (and in the best way possible). Keep writing and publishing- that’s how you end up getting to do this forever!

    • Damyanti says:

      Yes, Sarah, that’s what it was– a sort of reassuring pat in the back, that I’m not completely wasting anyone’s time when they read my book.
      I never find writing a waste of time, myself, because it is something I have to do, and though it is sometimes torturous, it also brings a lot of fulfillment.

      But it Is very nice to know that my writing has a life beyond the time I spend on it.

  • Rose Red says:

    I’m definitely interested in reading these stories! I had never heard of flash fiction before I started blogging a couple of months ago, but I love the idea of it.

    • Damyanti says:

      Thanks for checking them out :). Flash fiction is very satisfying– and amazing folks like Lydia Davis have made a brilliant career out of it.

  • Congratulations!
    You should put together another collection. Those who liked your first one will buy it.
    And yes, i still get surprise reviews on my books, from people I don’t even know, and that is just awesome.

    • Damyanti says:

      Thanks, Alex.

      Depending on how soon I can finish my WIP, I’ll try and do another collection. It was a load of work though– I was never happy with the stories, and still hate a few of them.

      Good reviews for your books are hardly a surprise– they’re not only good, but also very well marketed 😉

  • randee says:

    What a nice surprise for you. I have a couple of teaching books that I don’t really promote either. Every now and then I’ll get an email from a reader who’s reading the book and using it in the classroom and finding it so helpful. It’s like, “Oh yeah, my book, it’s out there, people are reading it.” I will have to check into your book!

    • Damyanti says:

      That’s So nice, right? I’ve never had a reader email– that would completely make my day :). Thanks for checking out my book!

  • Awesome! Goes to show that as long as you have something out there people will find it. Inspiring.