What commencement is really about (hint: not you!)

 

I was talking to a friend lately and he told me he was not going to attend his commencement (i.e. graduation) ceremony. Until recently, I had no idea there were people – and many of them, at that – who don’t attend their commencement ceremony.

 

“Why wouldn’t you?” I asked him.

 

“Because I don’t believe in going to uni to get a degree,” he said. “So going on stage to receive it is against my principles.”

 

Seriously? I wanted to ask. Are you really going to skip commencement because of this principle? While I have nothing against his belief – university IS more than just getting a degree – I think it’s too staunch a conviction for which you’re choosing to forgo your graduation ceremony.

 

It was at this point that I remembered I’d had a similar response as him towards it.

 

My own commencement wasn’t too long ago – just last year, in fact. (I graduated one year late because of some glitch in the system. Long story. I’m over it.) But the memory wasn’t as warm and fuzzy as it could have been. And it was entirely my fault.

 

I couldn’t care less about it. I’d thought the whole thing was contrived, putting on a huge cheesy smile as I posed with my scroll. I’d thought it was no big deal, since I was just one of the few thousands that year who was donning that robe and going on stage to receive that scroll. There was no need to make a big fuss about it.

 

But it WAS a big deal. If not to me, then to my dad.

 

 

 

He had been looking forward to my commencement, preparing his outfit for that day, scoping the place days beforehand for parking spots, making space in his SD card and charging his camera battery, asking me if I was inviting any of my friends to the ceremony…

 

And I had let him down. I had no idea where to go and what to do on that day, and was almost late for the ceremony. All because I couldn’t care less. All because I thought it was no big deal. We could have arrived earlier and taken photos, chilled, and I could have shown him around a little before the ceremony began. But we did none of that, because we arrived on the dot and I had to scurry into the hall with the rest of my cohort while donning my robe.

 

I would go back and do it all over again PROPERLY if I could.

 

 

 

I received my scroll and my dad and I posed for photos, but the moment was incomplete. Imperfect. Marred by my indifference. My dad didn’t smile as proudly and joyfully as I knew he would have.

 

You see, commencement isn’t really about you. Sure, it’s an entire elaborate ceremony – robes and speeches and all – dedicated to handing out certificates to you and your peers. But it is NOT ABOUT YOU. It’s about your parents. Your guardians. Your friends. Your teachers. And everyone else who had put in time and money and effort to see you through to that moment.

 

So even if you think attending your graduation ceremony is pointless – “no big deal” (I will never forget the look on my dad’s face when he heard me say that) – don’t deny the people who most deserve to see you walk through that moment the experience. Attending it – being fully involved in it – is the biggest thank you you can say to them.

 

[This might be a little late, but if I hadn’t made it explicit enough, thank you to everyone – especially my dad – for everything you’ve invested in me so that I could attend my own commencement ceremony. Thanks to my dad for the late-night cramming sessions, the looooong journeys on weekends to the tuition centre, the time and money spent on my books and tuition classes and little treats whenever I felt tired along the way. It’s been a fruitful 15 years.]

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sun, sea, sky, and other happy things

Busy busy week ahead, not least because I’m aiming to write at least 30 more pages (7,500 words) for Neverland by the end of this month! So here’s some photo-dumping* before I’m on my way.

*I kid: I don’t dump them, I stick them here very nicely, just like how I used to colour neatly within the lines when I was little.**

**Snort.

Anyway, since our travel plans for this month fell through (Taiwan will be postponed to the end of next month instead) and Dad had the weekend off, we went looking for places that would satisfy our shutter cravings. And where better to snap some pretty pictures than at the beach?

Hello, blue lovely. Thanks for making the weekend beautiful.

EVERYONE is happier at the beach.

The ground was a little parched due to the dry spell that’s beset us since the start of the year. But look, blue skies!

Ah, the sea. I love it so painfully much I might just set my next story here. (Red December Skies doesn’t count.)

Saturday’s weather was glorious. The sky was blue with a vengeance, but the sea breeze kept the heat from encroaching.

Easties really have the loveliest view. (Easties, by the way, are those who live on the East Coast of the island. They are supremely smug – and understandably so – about the fact that they’ve got an unobstructed view of the sea, an entire boardwalk of cafes and quirky seaside joints, and near-immediate access to the beach. They are also supposedly more mellow than people living elsewhere on the island.)

After cycling, it was still too lovely to leave, so Dad and I just sat on the beach and talked. But we eventually left when dusk fell, with sand between our toes and sea salt in our hair.

Even the view on the way home was gorgeous. The weather was obviously showing off that day, doing little pirouettes in its tulle dress. Look what I can do! Look how pretty I can be!

You glorious, glorious day.

Sunday turned out to be just as serendipitous, with cool north-easterly winds and more cerulean skies. So after brunch, Dad and I played tourists for the day and went to Gardens by the Bay.

Dad and his giant chocolate ice-cream waffle

Enjoy the lovely weather while it lasts, guys, before the haze sets in!

On a different note, can you believe February is coming to an end already? How did that happen? Feels like I’m still spinning on the remnant excitement over New Year’s. Still, it’s not too late to make things happen! You still have 10 more months to make 2014 your best year yet! Get cracking and be amazing!***

***That’s a lot of exclamation marks. Might need to tone down the chirpiness.

And since it’s the start of the week (again, where did all that time go?!), keep happy with these mood-lifters!

Kos Island, Greece
Paper lanterns
I have a strange, sudden obsession with lamps and lanterns these days. Something to work into a story, perhaps?
Hello, little thing

And hello, pretty thing

I hope you find that magic in your week! ❤

Valentine’s Day lovelies

Too many links and pictures to share this Monday! But first, a recap of the weekend.*

*Which is probably just a nicer way of saying, “Here’s some photo-dumping and inane rambling.” But there you go.

Saturday was spent writing.

 

And writing.

 

And more writing.

 

By Sunday, I was ready to break out of the house. After our usual brunch, my dad and I went strolling around town and booked a trip to Taiwan in late March. Yay, travel!

I really believe that it doesn’t matter where you go or what you do that matters, but the company you keep. My dad and I don’t go to special places often, or eat or live extravagantly, but I always have a good time with him, even when we’re just rambling around town, taking photos.

Because the tour agency was in Chinatown, we ended up walking around the area. (Yes, again. It’s funny, but from architecture to shops to people, there seems to be endless things to discover no matter how many times we visit that place.)

 

 

 

 

 

And because I am irrationally obsessed with flowers, I went a little shutter-crazy here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So that’s that for the weekend. And now, link salad!

1. Being a writer is a lot more like sitting alone with your computer, ploughing through the suck of your own doing, sending out query letters and hoping and wishing and praying for someone to love your story. Sometimes, reality falls short of our expectations. But thank goodness for critique partners, awesome writers who write beautiful books, and green tea!

2. This infographic shows the million and one things you’re doing wrong with your script, which can also be applied to any story you’re writing.

3. By the way, I never realised how snarky Disney characters were until this post! For instance,

 

 photo sleepingbeauty_zps39601b7a.gif

 

 photo alice_zpsa23eb28d.gif

 

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Check out the article for more!

 

3. And since it’s Valentine’s Day week, here’s a slew of Valentine’s Day-related stuff that made me laugh out loud.

 

Something for the LOTR fans:

 

And something for singles who have plans to avoid Valentine’s Day (and the obnoxiously lovey couple or ten that are bound to appear on every other street):

 

Some grumpiness to counter those overheard love confessions and sightings of couples in matching outfits?

 

Just so we’re clear, I’m not anti-Valentine’s Day. It’s just funny how so many snarky memes have sprung up because of some holiday that now means overpriced flowers and Valentine’s Day lingerie (because, of course, Valentine’s Day is important enough to have special lingerie dedicated to it) and couple’s dining promotions more than anything else.

Speaking of love, what do you love? I’m going to list 5 things I love, and I’d love to hear your list of 5 things you love! It’s too cliched – and not to mention maudlin – to write a post on the 5 people I love, so let’s keep it light, shall we? (Of course, if you want to mention the people you love, by all means confess away.)

Go like this:

I love:

1. Lovely prose

From Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor

 

From Lock and Key, by Sarah Dessen

 

From Wonder Show, by Hannah Barnaby



2. Happy babies

 

3. Pretty faces

 


4. Whimsical art

 

by Kathy Hare

 

The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry



5. Beautiful nooks and crannies in the world

Mykonos, Greece

 

Pretty lilac!

 

Atlantis Bookstore, Santorini, Greece

 

Tellaro, Italy

 

Do share your loves (and toss me a link to your list)! Pass it on, too, so more people can know about love-ly (geddit?) mood-lifters!

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to just be about people or, more specifically, your other half. It can also be about the FEELING of being in love with someone or something, being passionate about someone or something. The feeling, not the thing. Share the things you love, and EVERYONE can be in love every day of the year, not just on Valentine’s Day.

Wow. This has been too much sappiness for one post. Think I’ll stop now, before I start vomiting rainbows and unicorns.

Unicorn Vomiting a Rainbow by TheIckyMan on Deviant Art

 

Have a lovely week! (Okay, okay. I’ll stop with the love puns now.)

petal happiness (and other Monday mood-lifters)

Monday started off a little wet, but thankfully I managed to get some swim time in. Nothing like a good long swim to put you in a terrific mood!

It’s been a busy start to the week so far, with a writing assignment I’m doing on the side, a novel I’m writing on the side (more on that later), and my regular full-time job. Plus, blogging. Still, I’m not complaining, because all these tasks require me to write. And I’m just doing what I love.

 photo rapunzelinlove_zpse345427d.gif

LOOOOOVE! Happy happy Monday, everyone!

So, a quick recap of the weekend (hope yours was great!):

Saturday morning, I woke up to an email from a literary agent who had expressed interest in a manuscript I sent her previously (I think it was Blood Promise):

 

Dear Joyce,

Happy New Year! 

How is Neverland coming along…? If it is ready, may I request the manuscript? In the current market climate, I think it is the most saleable of the three.

Best,

Emmanuelle

 

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Squeeeee! I think I squealed out loud on the way to the bathroom as I checked my email. It was seven a.m. Still, it’s never too early for good news.

Now comes the not-so-good news.

It’s not ready yet. Neverland is still half-baked. In the works. (And other annoying cliches.) It’s going to take me at least a month before I dare to send it out to an agent, to get it perfect. AT LEAST a month.

But I’m afraid her interest in my manuscript would have waned by then and she decides she’s not going to want to look at it by the time I’m done.

So I’m going to pound this monster out at top speed, notwithstanding my other assignments and tasks.

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No time to wait for inspiration to strike. No time to wallow. No time to whine about writer’s block and complain about the mid-story goblin chewing up my story. (Yet, there’s still time for blogging. There is always time for blogging!)

Which explains why I spent the better part of my Saturday writing Neverland. After brunch with my dad, who had the weekend off (a rarity), I wrote.

My dad took evidence:

Why yes, I always look this gorgeous when I’m working. Thanks for noticing.

And here’s a piece of the result of my work:

I clocked in 3,500 words on my first day! Which, while has been done before (back in my Lambs For Dinner days), is rare. And you know how when you see good results upon embarking on something that you become more spurred on to keep it up?

So I did the math. To keep up this productive streak, I’ll write about 500 words on my lunch break, and another 1,500 after work, or just all 2,000 after work. An average of 2,000 words a day on weekdays, and an average of 3,000 on weekends, that would add up to 16,000 a week and *gasp* a full-length novel in less than 5 weeks!

Of course, give or take a few days, since it would be impossible to keep to this schedule everyday, what with Chinese New Year coming up (which means time for socialising) and what with the need to preserve my sanity (which means spending time with my family, reading, and ogling at pretty faces things).

Family
Reading
More reading
Pretty … okay, pretty faces.

I wanted to get the same amount of writing done on Sunday, too, but it’s not every day that my dad has a weekend off and we wanted to make good of it.

So after our brunch (yes, with my dad, there can only be brunch, not breakfast, because he likes – and needs – to sleep in), we rambled around town, ran errands, went shopping for flowers, then ran some more errands before finishing off with a simple but lovely dinner.

We didn’t get anything at the nursery because it’s still too early to buy the tangerine plant and everything would fall off the branches by the time Chinese New Year rolls around. But! We did get a little shutter-happy.

Shutter-happy and petal-happy!

Gotta love flowers. Such a mood-lifter!

(If you recall, When the Lilies Turn Orange, my first standalone novel I wrote when I was 18, was set in a nursery. I may or may not go back and rewrite it – hint hint – if I have the time. Which I don’t. At least, not now.)

Now for some lovely quotes to end this post:

Anne Lamott on writing:

Writing can be a pretty desperate endeavor, because it is about some of our deepest needs: our need to be visible, to be heard, our need to make sense of our lives, to wake up and grow and belong.

 

And Lovely Laini is inspiring once again:

I would guess that the major problem writers face when getting their novels finished is the doldrums. They lose their initial excitement and let this get the better of them. The most common question I get in emails is some form of: how do I get back into my story? How do I fall in love with it again? Well, this is my answer, these two methods. You could just slog it out as is, determined to finish at all costs, but the things is: if you are bored, your readers will be too. So don’t be bored! Ever! Shake your brain like a snow globe and make the glitter swirl. Yes, you will be picking glitter out of your brain for years to come, but it is worth it!

Brainstorm brainstorm brainglittersnowstorm!

Some writing advice by Eric Vance Walton:

It’s very easy to romanticize the writer’s life but most times it is far from glamorous and is one of the most difficult things you will ever do. To be a successful writer requires a mega dose of hard work, commitment, good networking skills, optimism, and also a healthy dose of luck. If you have the discipline to hone your craft writing can be equally as rewarding as it is difficult.

And finally:

(Wow, this post was supposed to be a quick one. Where did all that time go?)

And have a great week!

on fresh slates and pretty horses

It feels like forever since I last spent a day with my dad. Ever since he got transferred over to Westgate Mall, we’ve been seeing less of each other, and most of our conversations take place over the phone or via Whatsapp.

But he finally had Sunday off, and we were determined to make good of the day! We’d originally intended to catch The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, but because of a couple errands to run we decided to just chill and not rush to the theatre. There’ll be plenty of time to watch it.

Instead, we had a long, lazy brunch, after which we took yet another selfie in the same lift. Ha, call us creatures of habit.

Yes, it’s a horribly grainy photo, because I was trying to press the shutter before more brunch-goers could enter the lift and wonder what the hell these two vainpots are doing.

Later, we went shopping for 2014 calendars and stationery at Bras Basah’s Popular bookstore. Simple pleasures :0)

There’s something about shopping for calendars – it sort of symbolises the expectations we have for the coming year, like by getting something to organise ourselves for the coming year we can make it our best year yet.

And since 2014 is the Chinese year of the horse, my Chinese zodiac (plus, I just can’t get enough of horses – so powerful yet graceful, how can you NOT love them?), I’m having high hopes for 2014. I know, I know, I shouldn’t build up my expectations and wait for things to happen but go and make them happen instead blah blah blah, but sometimes you just want to believe that the next year will treat you good, that you’re in safe hands no matter what you do.

Then we cruised around Chinatown (another perk of spending the day with my dad, I finally got to drive again! How I’ve missed driving!), where the decorations for Chinese New Year were halfway up. I didn’t manage to take photos because I was driving, but it was all golden horses galloping down the entire stretch of Chinatown, cresting and dipping, while gold coins are strung across the street from lamppost to lamppost. The coins looked a little messy, but the horses were pretty.

Ooh, pretty horses! Now I need to look for images of those on Pinterest.

by Marcia Baldwin

horse art 2

Carousel horses! Something so magical about them, don’t you think? That may be why so many of my stories take place in an amusement part, and the important scenes take place at or around the carousel.

Anyway. I’m actually more excited for Chinese New Year than Christmas. Probably because Christmas means the year is coming to a close, while Chinese New Year, which marks the beginning of spring, is the start of All Things New.

I’m a sucker for new things. It’s why I love dawn, and – weirdly – Mondays, and the New Year, the writing the first chapter of a novel, more than dusk, Sunday evenings, and Christmas and writing The End. There’s just something about the start of a new day, a new week, a new year, that is so … invigorating. Like it’s brimming with so much potential, so much room for something wonderful  and serendipitous to happen.

If you ever do wake up at dawn, when first light is just beginning to pervade the sky, smell the air. Smell it. Then look up at the sky.

Don’t you feel happier already? Instant mood-lifter, and all you have to do is wake up early! (Okay, now I sound like one of those annoying morning larks.)

So yeah, Christmas what? I’m all about Chinese New Year. New beginnings, fresh slates! Always welcome.

Which do YOU prefer?

*

An update on the “too many books, too little time” situation: I charged down to Kinokuniya last Friday on my lunch break and bought Fangirl and Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.

Such adorable covers! How could I resist?! I’m getting excited thinking about reading them already. Whee!

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Yup, Jeremy Renner conveys it pretty well.

In fact, so infatuated with the pretty pastel-y covers was I that I did this:

Because we all need some colour in our lives.

feeding your soul

So it’s Monday again. Gosh, how quickly we’re zipping through the year. We’re almost done with 2013? Where did the last 300-odd days go?!

Anyway, so I know I intend for this blog to be mostly about writing, but I don’t want to be one of those writers who go on and on about the craft and their book and writing process and blabbity blah blah blah. So here are some updates on the personal front before I end with something writing-related again.

1. Last Saturday, I went for my first ever facial and pedicure. I know, it sounds unbelievable that a 23-year-old city girl has never experienced either of those, but I’ve just never really cared about stuff like that before, and I don’t have older sisters or mom to bring me to these places. My friends aren’t really into facials and pedicures either. I don’t know – it’s strange. But the bottom-line is: I’m not a facial or pedicure virgin anymore!

My dad’s the one who kept nagging at me to go for a facial and start paying more attention to my face, so I’ve been scouting several places to do one. But then Body Contours, a body-grooming spa, randomly contacted me in the middle of the workday and offered me a complimentary trial session as part of their marketing plan. I Googled the company and found that it seemed relatively credible, so I headed down for my appointment.

Of course, before anything else there was the sales talk by the manageress, who wanted me to throw down 800 bucks as deposit for a laser treatment package, which she almost had me convinced I needed because my skin is RAVAGED by the effects of my environment and age. (We Libras are notoriously indecisive and impressionable.) But after half an hour of dithering, I eventually decided to try out the skin renewal facial before making any drastic commitment.

My biggest problem is blackheads, and to say that the beautician was appalled at the state of my skin is an understatement – she kept tutting at the state of my skin, though not in a mean way. While they don’t look blatantly terrible in photos and upon first glance, up close my pores are HUUUUUGE. Plus, they’re clogged up with accumulated dirt and oil. So all in all, UGH.

What ensued was A LOT of steaming (the heat was very unpleasant, even though a lot of girls seem to enjoy that), kneading, squeezing and pinching out the crap in my pores (which HURT), before essential oils were rubbed on, along with a cold mask (which was the loveliest part, since it felt good and smelled lovely, all mint-y and lavender-y).

I ended up signing up for the facial package, for which I tossed down a $500 deposit for 6 more similar sessions. It’s actually quite worth it, in retrospect. At least my pores can breathe now, and they aren’t crater-like anymore when you scrutinise them up close (which I wish you wouldn’t do, because hello I’d like my personal space, thanks).

And as for the pedicure, it was $40 at City Nails, which I know isn’t the best deal out there, but it’s in a mall near my house so I’m okay with paying for the convenience. Besides, the shop was spacious and bright and each customer is led to a private booth (unlike many nail salons, which are usually cramped and everyone can see each other). The service was good, too. So that was $40 well spent, since my calluses are gone and my cracked skin is healed.

I just realised how much we have to do to maintain the condition of our bodies as we grow older. From dry hair to cracked heels, clogged pores to crooked teeth, there is so much to look out for. I would just leave them be if I could, but my dad has always emphasised the importance of personal grooming, because like it or not, people tend to associate more positive character traits with a person who keeps herself in tip-top condition. His words, not mine. And I suppose there is some truth in that, but phew, personal grooming is hard work!

(I know, First World Problems. I apologise for my insensitivity.)

2. MAMA 2013, aka MNet Asian Music Awards on Friday evening was a blast to watch, particularly with pop acts like Icona Pop and Big Bang present. Newbie group EXO performed well too.

I’ve never really been a K-pop fan. In fact, less than a year ago, my impression of K-pop fans are rabid tweens who fangirl over pretty boys and pretend very hard that they’re Koreans living in Korea. My interest in Korean pop culture only extended to the occasional K-drama, and it was only a few months ago that I started listening to K-pop and tried to pick up Korean. All thanks to Super Junior. And this boy:

Ahem.

The way I see it, you may turn up your nose at other brands of music and stick staunchly by your cool-as-shit indie music, reject other cultures and other types of pop culture. But then you’re just restricting yourself to what you know and allow yourself to be exposed to.

After I started watching Korean dramas, I learned of many other stereotypes and archetypes that are different from those in American dramas. There are new narratives to be discovered in different cultures, different personalities and way of life, and that can only make your book characters richer and more varied.

Likewise for music. There are only so many times you can listen to P!nk or Adele without wanting to stab yourself. And while I regularly source for new music online such as this:

And:

What’s a few more options for some listening pleasure, right? It doesn’t really matter that I don’t understand half of what they’re singing, as long as the music’s good: it either sets the right mood for a scene I’m writing, or gets me pumped up and grooving (in the privacy of my room, of course) … Wait, do people still use the word “grooving”? Ah, whatever.

And really, K-pop is just harmless good fun. (We need some of that on this cold, grey and wet Monday.)

 

Girls Generation with their catchy track I Got A Boy.

Bittersweet by Super Junior, which was perfect for writing several scenes in UNTIL MORNING.

Some Fantastic Baby by Big Bang to get you leaping out of your seat!

Still hopped up from the previous track? Here’s more: I Am The Best by 2NE1.

See? Does it matter that it’s in a foreign language? Music is a universal language on its own! Music is meant to be fun and engaging! If you open yourself up to new music, you’ll discover a world even larger and richer than the one you’ve cooped yourself in.

sarah dessen quote

And while we’re in the vein of music recommendation, this track by Bassnectar helped immensely while I wrote a scene for BLOOD PROMISE:

 

While this track by Paper Kites is soooo lovely – it reminds me of Where the Wild Things Are, for some reason:

The band’s just released its first full-length album, and their songs are just as pretty!

 

Also, this one called Safe Hands by Paper Aeroplanes is bittersweet in some way:

Hope you enjoyed those tracks! And if you have anything to recommend, do share! I am ALWAYS on the lookout for new music, regardless of genre or nationality. My soul is starving, and only music and stories can satiate it.

3. Here’s me and my dad taking a selfie (there’s something to be said about the world we live in for the fact that it’s the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year) after our usual Sunday brunch.

He’s been transferred to the west end of the island, so this will be our last Sunday brunch together in a long while. He gets occasional weekends off, but they’re rare. Plus, now that he’s working further, we’ll get less time to spend together. Which sucks. But if I look on the bright side, it means the time we spend from now on will be even more precious. On my more emo days, I wish I can provide sufficiently for the both of us so my dad doesn’t have to stress so much at work or just kick back and do the things he wants to do instead of what he has to.

Okay, I’ll stop before I get completely maudlin.

So finally, as promised, I’ll leave you with some beautiful writing quotes:

“There are some books which refuse to be written. They stand their ground year after year and will not be persuaded. It isn’t because the book is not there and worth being written – it is only because the right form of the story does not present itself. There is only one right form for a story and if you fail to find that form the story will not tell itself.”  

~ Mark Twain

“Giving up is for giver-uppers. It’s the lamest thing ever. Your book is just a book; it can’t beat you. You are a real live person with will and imagination and typing fingers! You are superior to it in every way. How could it possibly beat you? That’s just silly. Of course you’ll win.”  

~ Laini Taylor

~ from CORALINE, by Neil Gaiman

“I think that the reason I write what I write is because of the passion and urgency and hunger of those younger years, the intensity of that period of becoming, when we are dreaming ourselves into being.”

~ Laini Taylor

Hope the writing’s going well for everyone! Keep feeding your soul and keep telling stories!

(Speaking of stories, I am just about done with the BLOOD PROMISE rewrite. Just one final tweak in the climax to make, then a complete hawk-eyed read-through, before I beg and beseech my critique partners to read it. In the meantime, I’m finally getting round to reading THE DREAM THIEVES by Maggie Stiefvater. Yay!)

Have a great week!

“We’ll move to our house after you graduate next year, okay?”

“Okay.” We had been discussing this for a while now.

“But I’m afraid you might get lonely.”

“Lonely?” I echoed, like the word was too unfamiliar to me, when in fact I had become really acquainted to it.

He nodded.

“Lonely?” I said again, trying to inject more incredulity in my voice.

Again, he nodded.

“Nah, I won’t get lonely.”

“It’s just,” my dad said, “when we move out of grandma’s house, you’ll be at home alone most of the time. I’m afraid you might turn into a hermit, or something weird like that.”

Clearly, he doesn’t know he transformation’s nearly complete.

“Nah, that won’t happen. By the time we move to our house, I’d be working. I’d have colleagues. I’d have a social life.”

Reassurances are promises without the finger-locking.