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! ❤

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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.)

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.

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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!

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!


Look what I found in my dad’s Pictures folder!


That’s me at some inconceivably young age. I didn’t even have teeth. And my dad told me I’d always squeal and laugh when he tossed me onto the bed and I landed in the middle of the pillows.


That’s when I was two, I think. My dad said I was in the middle of looking through a photo album when he softly called my name and I looked up. That’s when he clicked the shutter.

I can’t even remember this. But my dress matched the window display, for some reason.

That’s when I was about five, maybe. I was nuts about that pair of shades.


My eighth birthday! That was when my dad bothered buying me a cake. Later, he told me, there was one year when I smeared cake all over the floor. Nobody bought cake for me after that.

Obviously, that was taken during Chinese New Year. I don’t wear that at home on normal days.