yes to no-angst Mondays!

Funny how jaded you get the more the year wears on. It’s May now and you realise you haven’t really done anything to take you a step closer to your goals. All you’ve got for your efforts is:

A) a pile of rejection letters (even worse, agents who don’t reply) for a story you miss writing and wish for people to read (the ache is real, people!),

B) no novel actually completed (I’m looking – glaring – at you, Neverland!),

C) a bunch of short stories you don’t know what to do with to get started on your Shiny New Novel, which you haven’t even started plotting

D) a completed novel you’re unravelling (i.e. rewriting). Hopefully, you’ll make it better. Hopefully, it’ll be good enough for the literary agent who requested for a revise-and-resubmit. Hopefully, this will be the one that will get you published again.

But that’s a big hope you’re holding out on. And you don’t know if all this time and effort you’re putting into this is going to be worth anything at all eventually, or you’re just wasting your time and you’re actually not good enough to get published and you probably never will and sob sob self-pity I’m a loser I should just quit.

That was the reason for last Monday’s post on writing quotes.

Okay, pity party over. Time for some happy!

I’m sorry, but once you get started on Harry Potter memes, there is no end to it.

Speaking of Harry Potter (no, I will never stop talking about it or loving it, so get with the programme or drop out), here’s a compilation of all the times Harry was the Queen of Sass.

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One thing led to another (damn you, Buzzfeed!), and I came across this one on Supernatural (otherwise known as The Show That Broke My Heart), as told by someone who’s never watched it:

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Castiel is the only badass who gets away with calling someone an assbutt while holding a Molotov cocktail … okay, not quite.

Another Supernatural post caught my eye:

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Don’t you just love it when good-looking people behave like dorks?

Okay okay, I’m done. Back to writing!

Have a lovely week, everyone! :0)

last post for April!

OMG, IT’S ALMOST MAY.

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WHERE DID A THIRD OF THE YEAR GO?!

Terrible, tragic things happened (I can’t read an article about the Sewol disaster without fucking crying – why do awful things happen to good people? They were only kids, dammit!), the world is still crazy, and it’s already (only?) May. Can 2014 please be kinder?

 

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In other news, author Chuck Wendig dishes some brilliant advice for young aspiring writers. So much gold in this post!

You’re not actually meant to be good. Not being good is how you get better. Not being good means you’re in that formative, fundamental blobby parthogenesis period where The Authorial You just starts to emerge. Not being good is how we are forced to take the time to not just Get Good, but also Become Us. You’re not yet the Author That You Will Become. This is all normal. Be bold enough to suck with gleeful abandon — but also know that your critical urge to be better-faster-now is a good one. Don’t quit. Don’t rest. Force yourself to improve.

You find your voice by doing. And by rewriting. You won’t want to rewrite now. You won’t want to edit. Edits feel like you’re not good, like you’re being insulted, like having to fix it means it was broken to begin with. But recognizing broken things is a value. A skill. You get as many shots at the goal as you want. Let that be freeing, not punishing.

In writing a lot and rewriting a lot, your voice will find you.

 

 

Author Natalie Whipple also shares her wisdom:

Sometimes You Have To Cut Your Losses

I’ve grown to kind of dislike the “Never Give Up” advice. Sometimes you gotta give up on something to move forward. Maybe not on writing as a whole, but on a story idea that is not strong enough to hold its own. Or on a novel that’s been on sub two years. Or on that first novel you ever wrote that has seen 200 rejections. Moving on can open up a new world. I’ve done it a lot. Never regretted it. If you find yourself pining over something from the past, you can always go back, too.

 

So here’s to rewrites and new beginnings, the pain of letting go and moving on.

 

 

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And because I really don’t want this post to end on such a heavy note (I can’t read an article about the Sewol disaster without fucking crying – why do awful things happen to good people? They were only kids, dammit!), here are some happy things for a Monday:

 

Funny signs

 

Advice from children

 

Life hacks to make life simple for girls

 

Cool wedding ideas (not that I’m dreaming of my own)

 

Pretty pictures:

Swooooon. Those colours!

 

Atypalaia, Greece – this is what fantasy stories are inspired by.

 

Oh, you sweet sweet boy

 

 

And lastly, a lovely song:

I may not understand the lyrics, but Donghae’s voice! As sweet as his face.

 

Have a great week, everyone! And happy Labour Day!

mid-week link salad (and some happy things!)

Writing for a living takes a lot more than just ample cash in your bank vault, according to literary agent Carly Watters.

 

Indeed.

 

It takes luck, a wide readership, years of dedication, luck, perseverance and ability to roll with the punches, and oh did I mention luck? Luck for agents and publishing houses to take a chance on your book (of course, substance counts for a lot too), luck for the RIGHT agent and publishing house to pick up your book and sign you on, luck for ever-changing reader diet, luck for movie producers and bookstores to decide to buy the rights from you, luck that you can write full-time and live comfortably, not paycheck to paycheck.

 

Watters paints a stark picture of what it’s like for most writers who aren’t international best-selling ones. Kind of a depressing reality, but no one said this path was easy. Literally, no one. The publishing market is one of the toughest ones to break into. Aside from dealing with writerly angst (don’t dismiss it until you’ve experienced it), the business itself makes being a novelist a difficult game to play.

 

Okay, enough doom and gloom. This was supposed to be an upbeat post!

 

Over at Mythic Scribes, they offered some tips for developing characters in romance novels.

 

And here’s some mind-boggling architecture for you. Number 19 and 21 are my favourites. Imagine living in a spiral building! The rooftop is just begging for a sled race, no? So much potential for a story setting, too.

 

Impulse buy: greeting cards!

 

 

You never know when you need one. And even if you don’t, they make a great mood-lifting collection that you can admire once in a while. I mean, look how cute these are! I ended up buying just six, even though there were a lot more adorable designs available.

 

Other happy things for this thundery week:

 

 

Speaking of TVD, I refuse to believe ***spoiler alert!*** Katherine is dead. She just can’t be dead. She’s one of the most delicious characters on the show – so much potential for mischief and havoc and eventual pathos (see season 5 episode 12). It would really suck if she left and we’re stuck with boring, whiny, indecisive Elena with whom, for some reason, the boys are in love.

 

And speaking of boys, here’s a gorgeous one:

 

 

Yes, they are the same person, in case you were wondering.

 

Also, if you’ve watched the Korean drama, Secret Garden, you’ll definitely appreciate this parody done by Big Bang:

 

 

*choke*gasp*splutter*laugh my ass off*

 

This video has been around for a while, but it still gets me every time! Can I humbly request for Super Junior to do a drama parody too? That would be awesome, thank you.

 

Speaking of awesome (see how neat and connected is today? Ha!), here’s something that will hopefully get you through the rest of this week:

 

a few things before I fly off

Ugh, packing. Travelling would be a lot more fun if we didn’t have to care about the nitty-gritty details like how many pairs of socks to bring or whether we’ve bought travel-sized cleansers or how much money to exchange blabbity blah blah blah.

Anyway, I’ll be gone until 29 March, so be prepared for photo-dumping when I get around to blogging on the 31st!

And so I shall leave you with these happy things:

Plus, you get to swim ALL DAY. Heaven.
Speaking of whom,

Now you know what I do when I’m trying to put off writing the novel.

It is that easy.
And in celebration of finally finishing the final final FINAL (no, really – FINAL) draft of Until Morning, here’s something that my characters kept going on about:
The soft colours at the corners of the world

The exact words were:

“There are times when all magic in the
world seems possible: in dreams, in a story, a painting, in the hour between
night and day when the light at the corners of the world appears the softest. I
call them the soft hours. They are ones that you cling on to long after you
wake up, long after you grow up.”

~ Lexi, Until Morning

In related news, I’m starting to query agents again so FINGERS CROSSED!!!

I really wish for Until Morning to reach you guys. I loved writing it,
and it would be the – sorry for the cliche – biggest dream come true if
it got published on an international platform.

 
Pink makes everything look better

And finally, but most importantly,

Have a great weekend guys! I’ll be back when I get back :0)

Monday (much needed) moodlifters!

I hope this isn’t too much to ask of you, March, but please be kind to me!

Some much needed mood-lifters for today after the fall I had in the morning by the pool (fell on my ass and hit my head and now I’m walking like an old lady):

Here’s some pretty:

by Yoshinori Kobayashi

And some funny:

Oh, RDJ!
Which Olsen is this? Ha, she’s adorable!

And finally, some lovely:

Ugh, awful start to the week (and the month). But this will NOT dampen my spirits. I will heal! I am Wolverine! (Wolverina?)

Hope your week is going better than mine! :0)

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,

 

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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.)

Chinese New Year weekend recap!

Happy Monday!

For those who celebrate, how was your Chinese New Year weekend? Mine involved lots of pigging out and selfie-taking. So much so that I’ve sparked the comment, “Why do you keep taking selfies? Have you never seen your face before?” from a selfie-hating friend. Oh yeah, he’s a riot.

Anyways, pictures!

Remember those horse decorations at Chinatown? They look even more magnificent at night.

On the eve of Chinese New Year’s eve, we had a visitor at the office. And then some.

Everyone, particularly the non-Chinese, were incredibly amused by the God of Fortune and the lion dance troupe that came knocking in a clamour of gongs and drums.

Later, we had the traditional lou hei, where we tossed the mix of raw vegetables, salmon, honey, peanuts, crackers as high as we could without making a complete mess on the table, while yelling out whatever auspicious phrases we knew and our wishes for the Lunar New Year. Most of the wishes went along the lines of getting a promotion/pay raise/a boyfriend and winning the lottery.

When we were done, one of the guys from the International team asked, “So do you guys eat it or do you just play with it?”

Of course we tuck in! It takes a lot out of you to yell and toss things in the air. (I kid.)

Chinese New Year’s eve was the day of feasting, and we were all too busy stuffing our faces to take any photos of the spread. Ah well.

Per our annual tradition, my dad and I went to catch the fireworks by the bay after dinner. There’s something magical about fireworks. All these explosions of colour and light above you as the ground rumbles and shakes beneath you. You feel heady, dazzled, ready to take on what comes next. Like a star being born. Like you’re shaking off the grime of last year, one explosion in the sky at a time. Boom. Clean slate.

That family behind me couldn’t have been noisier. Don’t you just hate it when people talk during a firework display? It’s like being interrupted when you’re reading. You just need some space to appreciate the display in silence, reflect on the past year, and make wishes for the new year – NOT hear some guy behind you go, “Wah wah wah!” nonstop.

Ah well.

While waiting for the firework display, and after it was over, my dad and I got a little shutter-happy.

The God of Fortune in front of the Singapore Flyer
Light festival!
And more pretty lights!
And more!
What’s better than a horse? A pink horse!

There’s this Chinese custom where children sleep late – or better yet, don’t sleep at all – on Chinese New Year’s eve so that your parents can live to a ripe old age. It’s just as well that Dad and I usually go catch the fireworks at midnight. I get to prolong my dad’s life! Those who know me know that I abide by quite a rigid routine: asleep at 11 pm, awake at 7 am, swim at 8 am and start the day by 10 am. But this annual tradition calls for an exception. Besides, the pool’s closed on Day 1 of Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year Day 1 is when the entire family congregates at my grandparents’ place and – yes, you guessed it – feast. Again. Well, there’s the whole exchange of well-wishes and socialising and photo-taking. But food was a major part of the day too.

Again, we were too busy chomping down on my grandmother’s homemade dishes – vegetable and duck soup, stir-fried broccoli and mushrooms and prawns, braised pork belly and abalone stew with and hard-boiled eggs, roasted meats and ngoh hiang, which is this mix of minced meat and chopped water chestnuts and prawn bits rolled spring roll style in fried beancurd skin. HEAVEN.

Images procured from the Web, for the sake of those unacquainted:

Braised pork belly with hard-boiled eggs
Salted vegetable and duck soup
Ngoh Hiang

Is it any wonder my healthy eating habits go straight out the window during Chinese New Year?

Then we had to take the (pretty much) prerequisite selfies too. It’s not every day everyone is all dolled up and together, after all.

With my aunts and cousins on the left
And my dad

I swear by fit-and-flare dresses. They cinch in your waist and make your legs look slim. Bonus if they come in pretty colours like lilac or Ming vase prints!

On the second day, Dad and I caught I, Frankenstein, which turned out to be surprisingly good! I was pretty wary about it given the unfortunate experience with Hansel and Gretel (even the awesome Jeremy Renner couldn’t save it). Remixed classics tend to get butchered despite the best intentions.

But I, Frankenstein was pretty original, and as far as fantasy stories go, this one was entertaining enough without inane or extraneous dialogues. Frankenstein’s monster, in this movie, has become a modern-day demon-hunter caught in the age-old battle between gargoyles (descendants of heaven) and demons. So crazy it’s good!

And on the third day, there was more feasting. I’m starting to sound like an unapologetic glutton. This time, it was Korean barbeque, just because.

And that was it for the weekend! More gatherings to come, in the vein of Chinese New Year. And I’m actually looking forward to them!

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Anyway, this is completely random, but I am SO tempted to get some hair chalk. Have you heard of it before? Apparently, it’s like hair dye, but very temporary – so temporary you can wash it off anytime you want –  so this is perfect for someone who gets bored of her looks easily. With hair chalk, I can finally get pink streaks in my hair … like this!

Look how sweet but punkish Rachel McAdams looks!
You can look completely sweet too, but not boring, like January Jones
Ah, Chloe. I swear, she can do no wrong.

Have I mentioned that Chloe Moretz is one of my style icons? Such a fashion risk-taker but always classy and age-appropriate.

Pink streaks and waves, a la Nina Dobrev? Heck yeah!

And the best part about hair chalks? I don’t have to commit to anything. Just wash with water and shampoo!

Ah, hair chalk. Please stop tempting me!

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So now it’s back to real life, even though Chinese New Year celebrations typically last for 15 days. Back to writing and rewriting and revising and polishing, because damn I am making this year the year my writing dreams come true.

Stephanie Perkins on how to make yourself write even when the going gets tough:

Free-write before you write-write. Eventually, you’ll get so tired of your own whining that you’ll actually go write something.

Ha! Ain’t that the truth. After a while, I realised all my complaining and head-banging (that is, against the desk, not to the music) isn’t leading me anywhere with my work-in-progress. So I decided to push through. Sometimes, that’s all you can do.

Or, you know, you can also blog.

Steph goes on:

I know from experience. I have tens of thousands of freewriting words telling myself how much both my novels and me suck. That negative energy has to come out somewhere, and freewriting is a safe place to say the things you’re most afraid of — and to wake your brain up in the process.

Free-writing. Hmm. Laini Taylor also advocates this practice. I mean, come on. She wrote an award-winning book of short stories based on these free-writes that obviously took her places. But then again, she’s Laini Taylor. She totally has the writing chops to produce award-winning (National Book Award, no less) books.

Writing a novel — a publishable novel — takes work. Real, actual, hard WORK.

This requires an attitude adjustment from, “Oh, what a fun little hobby” to “I will DO this. Even when it gets hard, even when I don’t like it anymore, even when I want to give up. I will keep working until I reach the end.”

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And finally, since it’s Monday, here are some mood-lifters to kick start your week!

Misha Collins and his son West cooking – too cute!

For the complete version (and a bag of laughs), watch this:

Westie, stop being so frigging adorable! I can’t take this! 

Plus, can I just say how incredibly patient Misha is? Guys are the sweetest when they’re good with kids. I like how he lets West make the decisions and doesn’t tell him what to do, just guides and facilitates whenever necessary. Giving your kids some level of autonomy can do wonders for their self-esteem when they grow older.

Check out the earlier episodes! They are just as funny and adorable! :0)

Pink owl cookies – too cute to eat!

You pretty, pretty boy.
Hallim Park in Jeju Island
Jeju-do, I WILL be back again. Soon
Santorini. Some day.
Because that’s the best way to get by

Have a great week, everyone!