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)

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Monday moodlifters (apart from that rejection letter)!

So I was video-surfing on YouTube yesterday and chanced upon this lovely artiste: Laurel.

That’s it. Laurel. I have no idea who she is – Google doesn’t even know her by her mononym yet. She is that new.

But a deeper search provided some answers: Laurel Arnell-Cullen, a 19-year-old British girl who’s been writing songs since she was 12. This instills a deep sense of shame in me. What was I doing when I was 19 – or 12, for that matter – instead of writing gorgeous songs like hers?

But I’ll stop talking now and let her music speak for itself.

This one’s called Fire Breather. It was used in episode 16 of The Vampire Diaries season 5. I haven’t watched it yet, but apparently it was used for some Delena scene (meh, whatevs).

That voice! That beat! Excuse me while I punch the crap out of the Replay button.

This one is called To the Hills:

Oh. My. Gosh. I DIE. Can we just pause whatever we’re doing and LISTEN to her?

Those words! Those imagery! Can’t you just imagine a scene already? SO dramatic. I filled 6 pages of my notebook just listening to her – wrote a short story too, although that could be attributed to re-reading Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor.

I NEED MORE!

Her songs are like a delicious mix of Lorde and Lana Del Rey, perfect for writing some sweeping fantasy story – which, I admit, is an idea I’m kind of toying with. I PROMISE I’ll come back to Neverland … someday. For now, I don’t want to pin myself to a story that’s not working and restrict myself from working on anything else.

Speaking of a story that’s not working, I just received my first non-form rejection letter – i.e. a personal rejection letter, which is what you get after a literary agent decides to look at your manuscript – for Until Morning.

A form rejection letter goes like this:

Dear author, I apologise for the impersonal nature of this letter, but after careful consideration I have decided to pass on your manuscript blabbity blah blah more depressing blah. 

So a personal rejection letter is a tiny step up – still depressing because it’s like having your crush lead you on before telling you he’s not into you after all.

Wait, where did THAT analogy come from?

Anyway, here’s the first heartbreak for Until Morning:

Dear Joyce,


Thank you so much for allowing us to read the first 50 pages of UNTIL MORNING. Catherine and I were very drawn in by your expert use of lyrical language and cleverly imagined scenes. Unfortunately, I think we will have to pass on the project, as it’s just not quite right for us. The work is of such high quality that it deserves an agent who will be able to grant it his or her full attention. 

I do regret that we have to pass on this, but I am confident that you will find an excited agent soon. I wish you the best of luck in your continuing search for representation and publication.

All best,

Andrew

Office of Catherine Drayton

 

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Sigh. So close. So damn close.

Happy things? Much needed.

I’m weirdly obsessed with deer art these days:

by AnnyaKaiArt on Etsy
Deer cookies
by CirqueDeArt on Etsy

And this boy:

And adorable babies:

Speaking of babies, isn’t this picture of Prince George so darn adorable?

Image from Elle.com

Awwww! Those cheeks!

Also, in a bout of Harry Potter nostalgia, I found an article listing out 6 possible spinoffs and oh yes please to all of them!

I’ve been going on for ages about a Marauders spinoff (more James Potter and Sirius Black bromance; more James Potter, period):

The Marauders Art Print by sevillaseas on society6.com

but a Founders spinoff and Auror spinoff sound intriguing too. See what happens when you write a richly imagined series? SO much room for potential spinoffs!

Also, if you haven’t already seen this, you should. Gorgeous photography by Katerina Plotnikova. So many story ideas zinging around. I mean, look!

Okay, a little too many antlers for this post.

Peter Pan quote

Have a great week, everyone! :0)

Happy 2014!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! We’ve finally made the leap over to 2014, and I believe things are only going to get better from here :0)

How has 2014 been for you so far? They say the first day of the year sets a precedent on how you will spend the rest of the year. I don’t really believe that because I think it’s never too late too start over even if you fall off the wagon. But I do believe in starting the year right. So after my loooong looooovely swim, I spent an hour and a half editing Blood Promise in the morning, woke my dad up, fetched my grandmother to the temple, had brunch with my dad and went shopping for Chinese New Year decorations after that at Chinatown.

The decorations for Chinese New Year are pretty much all up. And my dad and I walked up and down the streets in the blustery weather to capture some shots.

These flying horses look so portentous against the steel-grey sky. I am just itching to write a story based on this photo. Something for Indigo Tides, maybe?
This one was right in the middle of the road junction.
Horses galloping down Chinatown under a shower of golden coins.
Guess we weren’t the only ones getting started on our Chinese New Year shopping
Melon seeds, anyone?
How cool are the Chinese-mask lanterns in this bakery!

And finally, my dad convinced my my hair didn’t suck (my hairstylist wrecked my bangs – I’m sorry, but he did), and he made me pose for this photo. It doesn’t look that bad here thanks to the wind.

Oh, and I was reading Laini’s old blog today and I learned she’s a new-start/Monday/New Year-lover like me! This is an excerpt from her old post back in 2009 (yes, that’s how far back I’ve read, because that’s how awesome she is to justify my trawling through her old posts):

I love a new year. I love a new week, even — Mondays feel like a time for beginnings, for making new commitments, you know? So, a new year is like the emperor of Mondays, the perfect time to spiff up one’s life and routines, make new routines, break some bad habits, start fresh. It is possible to form new habits — as proven by the fact that since painting the bedroom and getting new linens back in June, we have made the bed every day. Which, er, wasn’t the case before. Nothing like new bed linens to entice one to make the bed every day! So: what is the life equivalent of new bed linens? How to spiff up your life? Your writing habits?

So. New reading/writing habits (or ones I’d like to keep) for 2014:

1. Write something every day, be it a blog post, a short story, a scene, a chapter, or even a miserable paragraph.

2. Read something every day. In fact, read more than I do now. Back when we didn’t have Internet (I feel old saying that), reading was about the only form of entertainment I had so I read more. But now with the Internet, there are so many other things you can do other than read, and I feel like I’ve fallen back on my reading. My Goodreads to-read pile has 186 books, at last count!

But, you know:

3. Be constantly updated on publishing news. You have to learn all you can about the place you want to go, after all. Being in the know can only up your chances in the game.

4. Be more of a perfectionist in my writing. And less impatient to see results. I tend to hurry the writing/editing process because I’m to eager to see the end product and start querying agents. But you can’t really rush this. Because you only get one chance to impress an agent before he or she decides to toss your manuscript into the slush pile. It has to be PERFECT. Or at least somewhere close to it.

And some mood-lifters for the first workday of 2014,

*dies of cuteness*

(Speaking of cute babies, Laini Taylor’s daughter, Clementine, is impossibly adorable! I die every time I see a picture of her! She always seems so happy, like her parents. Arghh, so much happiness and cuteness – such a perfect family.)

And more cuteness (of a different sort):

Yes, I am completely shallow. What’s your point? ;0)

And something to ponder over for the day:

And with that,

Have the best year of your life yet!

Excuse me, what just happened?

So I woke up to a bunch of text messages asking me if I’d lived through the riot that broke out in my area last night.

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Apparently, a bus driver had run down a Bangladeshi worker around 9.23 p.m. last night and killed him. Then a mob of 400-odd people went batshit crazy and started flipping over police cars and burning an ambulance and slugging it out with the policemen who arrived at the scene. Ghurka soldiers had to be deployed to break up the riot. It was nuts.

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Get the full story here and here.

I went home around 10 p.m. last night, after meeting up with the gang, and didn’t notice anything amiss except that there seemed to be more people in my area, which is near to where the furore broke out. I just scowled at everyone on my way home, as I usually do, in case they try anything funny. It’s just something you cultivate after twenty years of living in an area swarmed with male labourer workers.

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That’s some scary shit right there – the riot, not my death stare (or Diana Agron’s).

Honestly, though, after hearing what my dad told me about these foreign labourers and their partying ways, a part of me isn’t surprised something like this happened. It was some time around Deepavali, and the place gets really rowdy on public holidays – the roads are deadlocked with foreign workers partying and shit. My dad was sending his female colleague home and had to drive through the Little India stretch. This bunch of drunk foreign workers just leaped in front of his car and started doing this lewd dance.

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My dad locked the car doors and barrelled through. Good thing they had the bird sense to get out of the way.

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Let me just state that I am not against foreign workers in general, and their nationality isn’t the point of contention here. It’s their behaviour that pisses me off.

Maybe it’s all the pent-up rage against us, the locals, or the government and their rules, or their shitty lives in general that made them act out like that. And I know there are honest, non-trouble making foreign workers out there who helped to clean up the place after the riot and that I shouldn’t condemn the entire forest because of a few trees blah blah blah. But come on, they went nuts in a country that hasn’t gone nuts since the 1960s. They set stuff on fire and killed someone (a man was crushed under the bus) and injured our local police. Call me small-town, but this kind of violence just isn’t the norm in Singapore.

I’m not going to let up on my death stare, though. And I really hope no one was hurt too badly, especially the policemen, firefighters and innocent civilians. The press must be having a field day with this, as are the various ministry departments. I guess we know what’s going to come up as a bone of contention at the next election.

Monday mood-lifters and a gathering of playwrights

Monday! First, THIS: some helpful advice from ex-literary agent and author Nathan Bransford.

Planning and improvising are the two basic ways to find your plot, but there’s only one way to find your voice: start writing, and keep writing until you find it … Write your way to your voice.

It took me a while to find Sean and Ian’s voices. If you recall, I’ve received feedback from a literary agent who said that Sean and Ian from BLOOD PROMISE sounded too alike. But after I managed to distinguish what it is that sets them apart – by narrowing them down to three adjectives each (i.e. Ian: angry, vengeful, brash; Sean: concerned, skeptical, protective) – I set about amplifying these qualities and tweaked their voices as such. Hopefully, it’ll work better this time. I can’t trust myself to be objective about my own writing; I need my critique partners! My saviours.

Speaking of BLOOD PROMISE, I’ve found a few images that fit the idea of the characters I have in mind. Pinterest, man. I’m addicted. But it’s also opened my eyes to so many visuals that lit my brain on fire. Follow me, if you’re interested!

APRIL, the changeling struggling to keep her craving for human souls in check:

This is April from Sean’s POV – because of his colour-blindness, he sees her eyes as a startling shade of blue. This leads to a twist that I won’t reveal here, of course.
I actually had the Australian model Gemma Ward in mind for April. April is not conventionally beautiful. She has eyes a little too widely spaced apart, a button nose and lips that typically curve in a sad wistful bow. Still, she’s meant to be beautiful in a strange otherworldly way.
SEAN, who moves to Frosty Island with his mother after he hears the news of his best friend’s disappearance while vacationing with his parents on the island: 

He’s the closest I can find on Pinterest. The Sean I have in mind is someone with an easy smile, dimples, and wide friendly eyes. Your favourite boy-next-door.

Maybe this one might be a closer approximation of him:

But nah. He’s my Peter Pan. Not quite Sean.

Case in point:

Oh Donghae, you are just too precious. (Can you tell I’m obsessed with this little boy? Ha.)

Ahem. I digress.

IAN, who moved to Frosty Island to live with his aunt Mel after his parents died on this island a week ago in an alleged car accident:

This one’s perfect. From the hardness of Ian’s features to the danger in his eyes, that spark of recklessness when he realises he’s got nothing left to lose anymore.

Anyway, how was your weekend? (I never have any idea whom I’m talking to whenever I ask questions like that on my blog. I’d love to hear from you if you’re reading my blog! Comment away; don’t be shy. I promise I’ll reply. Nicely.)

Yup, that’s pretty much me. Except this weekend, I finally went for the annual play-writing gathering last Saturday. It’s actually the final reading for the semester’s EN3271 play-writing students, but Huzir invites the ex-students back for a gathering of sorts. He opens his house up to us and have us all gather around in the living room for a cosy reading session – so generous.

It was so lovely to see my writing comrades again, and reminisce about the times when we stayed up to finish our plays or scramble to print out the copies for readings in class. I took both EN2271 Introduction to Playwriting and EN3271 Advanced Playwriting (both conducted by Huzir), because EN2271 was the most rewarding class I took in uni.

It’s wonderful to be part of a writing community and have people to commiserate with when the writing isn’t going well. Before that, I’ve never had writer friends or been part of a writing group, and the class made me see how rewarding it is to be part of one. It’s nice to be able to hear other people’s stories, share your own with them, and exchange ideas on how to improve one another’s scripts. It’s nice to have them root for your characters and have your classmates act out your characters; to hear Huzir’s insightful and immensely constructive and honest feedback on your writing; to have a group of writer friends you can keep in touch with after graduation because writing will always be the thing that bonds you all together.

These two play-writing modules have given me so much, and for anyone in NUS undecided on whether to try out for these modules, my advice is to TAKE THEM. THEY WILL BE THE MOST FUN CLASSES YOU WILL TAKE IN NUS. At least, for me it is. I’m not forcing anyone! *runs for cover*

There were close to thirty people who attended last Saturday’s gathering, including this semester’s playwrights. I didn’t manage to get everyone in the photo, but here are some of us. To those not in these photos, sorry! Next year, we’ll take a proper shot all together.

We basically just decided to make a 180-degree turn because we were profiled against the sunlight. The rest were by the refreshments table or in the washroom, so here’s us. I’m obviously the one in pink 😉

The plays this years were great! Funny and poignant character-driven stories. But the feedback was the best, especially when it was served with a dose of candour and insight. All the best with the final rewrites, playwrights! (That totally rhymed.)

Till next year, guys! And all the best for NaNo!

Unfortunately, I missed Lord of the Rings: Return of the King as a result of attending the gathering. When I realised it was airing on TV afterwards, I was like:

And here are your Monday mood-lifters:

Man, I miss this show! GILMORE GIRLS was funny and smart and sweet – almost everything you could as for in a TV show. It ended on a crappy note as it was slated for another season which, sadly, never came to fruition.

Some Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings crossover for you?
I totally heard this in Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice.
Oh, Siwon. You are such a derp.
And on a less creepy note:
All together now: AWWWWWW.
Have a great week, everyone!