June reads, pink hair, and manuscripts that just. won’t. end.

I couldn’t blog last week because work was relentless (ZALORA’s digital magazine community is going live soon!) and I was nursing a fever, sore throat, headache, and runny nose last week (doesn’t rain, but it sure pours).

Buuuut I’m back – with bolder, brighter, and pinker hair! :0)

I was going to go with just the darker copper this time, but it felt a little too dull. So I went and doubled the pink streak! Here were some hairstyles and colours I considered:

Totally leapt up when I saw this – SOOOOOO GORGEOUS!!!!! *__*
I’d love to go this red, but I’m not as fair as pretty Ms Han Ji Min
So I settled for this slightly browner tone like Tiffany’s
Not gonna lie – I wish I had the guts and freedom to go as nuts as Laini Taylor because look how fabulous that shade of pink is! But my dad will probably flip. Maybe someday, if I ever make it onto the NYT bestseller list, I’ll do this to celebrate!

My dad shook his head at the expanding pink strip as soon as he saw it, but oh well I love it. EMBRACE THE PINK! :0)

*

And as if my May reading list isn’t long enough, here comes another one for June. But with more swoon-worthy tales of literary apothecaries, OCD romance, mysterious guardians, kidnappings, and magical guardians, the reading list just won’t quit! I mean, just look at these drool-worthy tales:

1. Every Last Word, by Tamara Ireland Stone 

A girl with purely-obsessional OCD finds her place amongst a bunch of misfits, and falls in love with a guy who plays guitar and writes poetry. Sorry, but I’m a sucker for stories like this.

2. Emmy & Oliver, by Robin Benway

Touted as a book to satisfy Sarah Dessen fans (that’s me!), a girl meets her childhood friend whose father kidnapped him years ago. Ever since The Snow Queen, I’ve loved the idea of childhood friends who become lovers. Plus, this one has got all the drama and tears, so I don’t care if the plot seems cheesy. It’s not cheesy if it’s well written. And based on the reviews on Goodreads, it sounds like it might be!

3. The Library at Mount Char, by Scott Hawkins 

Father could do strange things. He could call light from darkness. Sometimes he raised the dead. And when he was disobeyed, the consequences were terrible.” Don’t you want to read it already? I know I do!

4. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George

Books to heal a myriad of ailments and undiagnosable woes, a literary apothecary – sounds like a delightfully magically realistic poignant read already!

*

And finally, an update on the WIP that is No Room in Neverland.

It feels like I am NEVER going to finish this story. The word count currently hovers close to 79K. 79K! This is the longest I’ve ever written. Granted, it has two stories in one (Neverland Chronicles, and current day), but come on, 339 pages for a YA contemporary, really Joyce??

I’m trying to convince myself that it’s better to write too much than too little. But that just means you might end up cutting out a lot of scenes that drag down the story. And that’s just as hard as trying to thicken the plot! Conclusions are just as hard as beginnings, if not possibly harder. You have too much to lose by the end of the story to mess it up, so the pressure is ON to tie up the story nicely without making everything too convenient or cheesy or draggy or rushed.

My problem with the first draft of Neverland was that it didn’t have enough of a plot. But this third draft feels like it has TOO MUCH of a plot, and there are so many loose ends I haven’t finished tying up. And I don’t want it to seem like I’m trying to end everything neatly because that’s just lame. A story doesn’t end just because a book does … Am I making sense?

One more scene. Two more chapters. And I’ll be done. And then I can go back and hack out all the extraneous parts. Come on, Joyce. You HAVE to see this through. You’ve spent way too much time and effort on this to stop now.

Writer friends, how do know when to end your story?

Moving Day is Coming!

With the preparations for the new house under way, I’ve been busy packing and getting carried away scrolling through Pinterest for home decor ideas.

You know how you get when you’re on Pinterest. You see something pretty, and you pin it, and you find this whole board full of pretty things, and then you follow this board, and pin some other stuff from it, which leads to new boards full of pretty things. Then you pin stuff from that new board, and find more pretty things that lead to new boards. This is how even light gets sucked into black holes.

But look! So much pretty:

Yes, I’m sensing a trend here. But my dad said I’m only allowed to go crazy with the pink for my room. That last one, by the way, is how my room is going to look, except the walls are pinker. And I hope I can find a houndstooth cover seat (how cute is that!).

Excitement over decor choices aside, though, I’m a little bummed about moving out of my grandparents’. I’ve lived there for practically my whole life, and everything there is familiar to me. The bus routes, the little alleys and shortcuts, how I can just pop downstairs to grab a packet of nuts or batteries or lunch, the lifeguards and old regulars at the pool, the convenience of living so close to town, everything within reach, and how I can walk to the Central Library if I choose to.

Oh, well. This move has been a long time coming, after all. Plus, the new house is really pretty! Guess it’ll just take some time to reconfigure my life.

On the writing front, I am miserably behind schedule. I was supposed to finish editing Blood Promise by last Sunday and have my crit partner read it this week. But I’m only at page 280 of 331 (yes, I hacked away 17 ENTIRE PAGES, about 4250 words – I am terrifyingly long-winded). By this week, I promise!

By the way, book review of Fangirl and The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender to come after I’m done with Blood Promise! Meanwhile, here’s a dreamy piece from Joe Hisaishi to tide you through the week:

 
 

Happy midweek! :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)

a post of random things (it’s Friday – anything goes!)

This is going to be a whole post about random, unrelated stuff. But whatever. Nobody said everything in life has to be related.

1. Have you seen Zuhair Murad’s spring/summer 2014 collection?!?! IT. IS. INSANE. SO. GORGEOUS. CAN’T. FORM. COHERENT. SENTENCES. THOUGHTS. WHAT? PRETTY. I DIE.

 photo vanessahudgensexcited_zpsbee55c06.gif

Get ready for the onslaught of pretty! (Pictures all found from Pinterest – I swear, that site is a Black Hole!)

Don’t these remind you of Elie Saab’s designs? Murad’s creations are pretty similar to Elie Saab (also a Lebanese designer), except that the latter’s designs are a tad more girly and feminine and dreamy, while Murad’s are a little bolder, more risque, and contain sexier elements.

Saab’s designs:

Elie Saab can do no wrong.

Soooooo dreamy and ethereal!!

 photo rapunzelexcited_zps24772edc.gif

❤❤❤

I’ve been in love with Elie Saab’s designs ever since I first laid eyes on them, while Zuhair Murad’s designs are usually a hit or miss for me. Remember those crazy numbers Kristen Stewart wore to the Breaking Dawn premieres?

… Yeah. Not completely crazy about those. Good thing for her makeup in both instances, though.

But Murad’s SS14 collection is LOVE. LOOOOOVE!

2. So it seems apart from writing good stories, being a people person is also vital to a lucrative writing career:

If you’re in business, you’ve got to be a people person … Be genuine, be funny, be yourself. Reach out to your contacts and connections to build bridges. Go to writer’s workshops and befriend everyone there. Talk to everyone you meet in your town, and tell them what you do. Organic and sincere networking is the best way to develop a bridge to success. The friend you meet at the workshop could introduce you to his or her agent. However, don’t go into it thinking about what you’ll get out. Just focus on relationship building and the rest will flow naturally.

This does not bode well for a hermit like me. For the sake of my dream, however, I will do what needs to be done.

3. Here’s something funny that English majors can probably relate to. I know there a quite a few that ring true for me. Most ardently ;0)

Crush on fictional characters?

Check.

(Shiver remains my favourite book from Maggie Stiefvater. There is nothing quite like reading that beautiful, intense story for the first time.)

Geeking out on authors?

YesIWouldThinkSo.

Wow. I really seem thisclose to kissing the ground she walks on. So, check.

In love with my book collection?

Check.

(Speaking of books, I headed down to the bookstore two days ago and got my hands on Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby. Yay for new book purchases!)

And one more thing:

Isn’t that the worst?

4. An update on Neverland: it’s slow going but it’s going. Can’t ask for more than that sometimes. I don’t know where it will take me for sure, or how it will meander towards the end, but I’m having fun on this journey so far.

At least Neverland isn’t as disappointing as Blood Promise.

My critique partner has just finished reading Blood Promise (a million thanks, Jenna!!), and although she was very very kind and constructive with her feedback, the bottom-line is that she didn’t love it like I hoped she would.

 photo samanddeanuglycrying_zps79b446cb.gif

I feel SO BAD, like I’d just wasted her time making her read a substandard story. I actually don’t hate Blood Promise. I actually thought it was better than it had been previously. But I get this way: I’d love my story if people gave me positive feedback, and absolutely hate it when they’re not crazy about it.

And once Jenna said it out, I saw the truth in her words. It did need more work. I probably did need some time away from it, until I heard the story that begged to be told. Because Jenna may just be one reader, but she’s also representative of my target audience. Listen to your readers, I say!

If anyone’s willing to invest some time in reading my manuscript, I’d be happy to hear your thoughts on it! In the meantime, I’m hiding out in Neverland.

5. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bummed after reading Jenna’s email. While I deeply appreciate her forthrightness (why are people so afraid of hurting a writer’s feelings? Just tell me honestly what you think and I’ll be eternally grateful!), I am desperate for some perk-me-up right now.

So…

Awwww!
Paros, Greece
FABULOUS pink hair! LOVE, WISH, WANT.
Russian doll cookies! SO cute.

Can you tell I’m a sucker for guys with hair falling over their eyes?

And finally:

Love these boys (plus the drummer, Harry, who isn’t in here)! They’re one of the few groups that sound good live, write their own songs and have lasted for almost a decade (has it really been that long?!). Long live McFly!