Monday link salad!

A post full of random stuff today:

Funny fashion memes. Anna Wintour meets Mean Girls, anyone? Also:

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Strange things people found in walls. Money and shoes, I get (sort of), but fingernail clippings and hair?

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This old post from ex literary agent (now author), Nathan Bransford that offers a really useful tip for figuring out your novel: creating one-sentence, one-paragraph, and two-paragraph pitches.

A query is basically a two paragraph pitch with some query-related detail. But sometimes you’ll want to use a one sentence pitch (for a bio, if you’re into that whole brevity thing), or a one paragraph pitch (for briefly describing in real life conversation when you don’t want someone’s eyes to glaze over).

My feeling: get it all out of the way at once. Save yourself the headache and come up with a one sentence, one paragraph, and two paragraph pitch before you even start to query. Then: practice and memorize your pitches. You never know when you’re going to need them.

Speaking from experience, it really does help to have a pitch ready even before you plunge into the novel. You get a clearer sense of where your story is going, what the conflict is, and what the stakes are. You also get to pare down your character to his/her most basic trait, the one that defines her and her actions, and the one that you as a writer set out to change by the end of the story.

I should have done that for Neverland. (Actually, I should have done that for all my novels.) Maybe then I wouldn’t have gotten stuck.

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Also, I’ve started blogging for work.

One of the plus points of working for an online fashion retailer is that I get to fangirl over fashion trends and celebrity styles unabashedly in the name of work and write about them. Is this the marrying of two loves?

I’ve written quite a number of these articles so far, but the team is selective about what goes on the blog, and when. Here is one article I wrote about “must-have tops“.

Of course, they’re not really must-haves — people just write that to get you to read the article ;0)

 

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Blood Promise, otherwise known as The Manuscript That Will Not Yield, is in the midst of some radical changes right now. I intend to rip out the awful saggy middle and whip it into something that will put Victoria’s Secret models to shame …

Okay, that’s quite a mean feat. I mean, it’ll be really hard to top this:

Favourite VS angel ever, Doutzen Kroes.

 

But it’s okay. Because I HAVE A PLAN NOW. So let’s do this.

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In the meantime, I will heed this advice.

And this:

 

And keep happy with these:

from allthingsshabbyandbeautiful.tumblr.com

Peter Pan quote

 

Oh, stop. What are you trying to do to me?!

by Gelrev Ongbico

 

The view from the pier yesterday

 

Also, I’m really loving D&E’s new album. Aside from When You Cry, which I shared in an earlier post, this song, Teenage Queen, is another favourite. So catchy and upbeat!

 

And on that note, have a great week, everyone! :0)

monday happy things!

So, a few things:

 

1. Singapore is in bloom!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Said it before, and I’ll say it again. The world is more beautiful with flowers in it.

 

 

2. On a whim, Dad and I visited the zoo on his birthday last Saturday. Pictures will come … soon enough. But first, this:

 

Saturdays – this polar bear is doing it right.

 

3. I am thisclose to giving up on Neverland.

 

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I know, I know. Yet another story that didn’t make it. (To be fair, I might have given up on Until Morning – then called Mint – but I went back to complete it eventually.)

 

But I’ve tried to hold on for as long as I can – 198 pages, in fact – but I can’t ignore the voice that’s telling me this is all wrong – the story is told wrongly, the characters are weak, the conflict falls flat, there’s no heart in the story anymore, and it’s futile to press on for the sake of pressing on.

 

 

I hate quitting in the middle of a story. I feel like a failure, like oh there she goes again, unable to see things through and giving up halfway. But I know that the more I drag this on, the worse the story is going to get, and at some point I won’t be able to return to the place where the story fell apart because I’ve lost sight of it.

 

 

 

So maybe I’m not going to divorce myself from Neverland completely, but I’m definitely taking a break from it. Problem is, I tried getting started on Indigo Tides, and my brain just got equally blocked.

 

 

 

 

Over at Writers Helping Writers, they pointed out three signs you should take a break from your novel, and I ticked every one of them:

… here’s the best thing about these often sad experiences. They really aren’t failures. They’re just stepping stones. As Samuel Beckett said: Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

If you feel you’re writing a dead-end story, take a moment to evaluate your future with it. More likely than not, you’re going to keep on writing, edit your way to a fabulous book, and end your relationship with this story on a victorious note. But if it doesn’t quite work out that way—if you realize you need to move on—don’t count it as a failure. Close the file on your computer, take stock of what you’ve learned, and move on to write your next masterpiece.

 

Rachel Coker over at Go Teen Writers offers equally upbeat advice.

 

But then YA writer Malinda Lo, advises against giving up during the drafting stage:

I think the main thing that causes discouragement during the drafting stage is the idea that writing a novel is an exciting, fun-filled, joyful experience full of blissful, genius inspiration and creativity. Any writer who sits down expecting this experience is going to be thoroughly disappointed and will probably want to give up.

For years and years I struggled with discouragement because those moments of genius came so few and far between. I’d have fabulous ideas and launch right into writing novels, and a few chapters in I’d come to a screeching halt when all the fun seemed to get sucked right out of the story. I’d struggle with continuing for a little while, but soon I’d give up.

In retrospect, I know why I gave up. Those story ideas weren’t exciting enough. The characters weren’t interesting enough. And I expected writing to be fun, because it used to be fun.

I know exactly when writing ceased being 100% fun and games for me: when I decided that I wanted to get published.

In my case, this is how I learned how to not get so discouraged that I wanted to give up:

I chose to write a story that I’d wanted to write forever: a retelling of Cinderella.

When I encountered things in life that forced me to stop writing for awhile, I tried to not beat myself up about not writing.

When I felt ready to write again, I picked up from where I’d left off.

I stopped expecting writing to be 100% fun and games.

I didn’t give myself a deadline; I let myself take my time.

I didn’t start other projects when things got difficult.

I didn’t allow myself to think about getting published while writing the first draft. I wrote the story for me.

 

Yes, maybe some distance will help. Neverland, I will be back! (I promise.)

 

Meanwhile, if you’re experiencing a brain fart like I am right now, here’s something to chase the writer’s blues away.

 

Also, Mondays may be the busiest day of the week, but there’s always time for a little happy:

 

 

 

 

Super Junior M is back! And Donghae is in glasses!

 

 

Oh, Park Bom!

 

Remember when Stefan was the Ripper?

 

 

A very liberating quote
 

A very empowering quote

 

Have a great week, everyone! :0)

I’m back! (Or: a quick summary of my Taiwan trip)

Man, I’ve missed home. Home with its wireless network everywhere, home with its palatable food, and home with its clean, familiar environment.

Taiwan wasn’t too bad, but I remember enjoying South Korea more. I guess the Taiwan experience varies with different people, but for me the hotels were the best part of the trip, with their hot springs and breakfast buffets.

Hot spring in our bathroom at Fleur de Chine, which overlooks the Sun Moon Lake

 

 

 

Mmm, sashimi

 

I know a lot of people loooove the street food in Taiwan, but I found it pretty hard to get used to it. My dad and I aren’t really into street snacks from night markets, so we spent most of our time taking photos and chilling in cafes while the rest were going crazy with oyster vermicelli, bubble tea, fried chicken schnitzel and Taiwan sausages.

We survived on Starbucks and 7 Eleven, the latter for snacks like yoghurt and apples and nuts. The only unhealthy street food I tried was the barbequed corn on the cob, which turned out to be drenched in oil and barbeque sauce.

Shopping was okay – I got a pair of shoes, a Kindle sleeve and a trenchcoat (whee!) – but anything from international brands are crazy expensive since Taiwan imposes a 120% import tax, so a pair of Converses costs upwards of S$100. Anything locally made, though, was a steal.

The people were nice – the service they provide is definitely better than that in Singapore, so that’s a plus. I got to practice my rusty Mandarin, chatting with the service staff.

Environment wise, Taipei was the place that came closer to what I was expecting. Halfway through the trip, my dad and I got pretty nostalgic for Jeju Island and Seoul, and started making plans to go back. (YAY!)

I’ll see you again, lovely

 

That’s all for now! I know I promised lots of photos, but I’ve been swamped with emails since this morning. One week away from work, and it’s a mad rush to catch up on everything. So photos will come in a bit, pinky swear!

In the meantime, it’s Monday! I’m still in a holiday mood, so here are some happy things.

by Crosby Newell Bonsall

 

Have a great week, everyone! :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.)

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!