Monday, 24 November 2014

Voices: The Realities of Women

Hello everyone!

I'll be reading a short story I wrote this Friday, 2pm at The Whiteaways Arcade.
So if you're free, do come and lend some support! :)

Visit the facebook event here, or head on to the George Town Literary Fest website for more info on the festival!

See you there!
*so excites*

Sunday, 23 November 2014

The Expatriates book tour - an excerpt, and interview, and a #giveaway

Just a final reminder that there's a book tour happening that's ending today!
(Also, stay tuned for a coming giveaway related to The Expatriates! :)


First, an excerpt from The Expatriates, Book One: Song of The Sending by Corinne O’Flynn

“Well, it’s not dead.” Charlie let out a nervous laugh.
“What should we do with it?” Sam asked.
Hollis took off his t-shirt and proceeded to wrap the bird like a burrito. “We need to protect her wings in case she thrashes. She’ll wake soon.”
I looked at Hollis, stunned. “How do you know that?” I asked. And what else did he know?
“This,”—he cradled the wrapped bird in his arms—“is a very important messenger. It’s called a Sending. They don’t do that sort of thing anymore—change an animal like that.” He shook his head as if lost in thought. “It changes them. Their brain. Something big must be going on back home. There’s only one person who could have sent her to you. And if I’m right, then something’s really wrong.”
“What kind of wrong?” Sam asked, his forehead wrinkled with worry.
Everything in me flashed to attention at what Hollis said. “Back home?” I asked. There was no way.
Hollis stared at me, saying nothing.
“Hollis, what do you mean back home?” I repeated. I’d always known we weren’t from here, from the Modern World—the human world. All of us, everyone in Sweetwater’s, were originally from a place called Bellenor, which used to be connected to this world by some magical force—until the bridge collapsed. Or so I’d been told. “You all said Bellenor was destroyed. Back when my mother was a kid. Before I was born.”
“I’m sorry, Jim,” he said. “We had no choice.”

Then, a mini interview with the author:

Do you write in one specific genre?

At this time, I am focused on my fantasy series, but I have a constant tug from many different things in my writer-mind. I have ideas for sci-fi, creepy thrillers, some paranormal stories. I don’t feel committed to one genre overall. I have learned to let my passion drive me to the next thing, so I write these ideas down and add them to my idea book and get back to work on whatever is burning brightest.

Do you find it difficult being an indie author when so many others are doing it?

Just the opposite. I am an indie author because so many are finding success in self-publishing. There is a huge movement going on, as if we all weren’t aware, and I feel fortunate that I found the courage to take that leap.

What makes your book different from others in the genre?

THE EXPATRIATES is a fantasy adventure about a boy who discovers he’s being hunted for his power. It’s a fast-paced story with animals and magical creatures who are portrayed differently than readers of the genre have seen before. And while it is a hero’s journey, there is a lot of intrigue and lies on the road to discovery.
_________

Book & Author Details:

The Expatriates #1 by Corinne O’Flynn
(Song of the Sending)
Publication date: October 15th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Synopsis:
They told him his world was destroyed.
And they were the last to escape.
They thought he was safe.
They were wrong.


Jim Wales can communicate with animals, but that’s not why he lives with a traveling carnival. Turns out his family’s been hiding him there since he was little, since someone started hunting all the scholars. Jim is a scholar—someone who can manipulate energy using magic—and he has no idea.

When a message arrives from Jim’s father—who supposedly died twelve years ago—Jim’s whereabouts are discovered, their carnival is attacked, and his mother is kidnapped. On the run with a strange glass map and a single coin, Jim finds himself racing to reclaim the father he thought he’d lost, plotting to save his mother, and discovering the truth about who he is.

But going home isn’t the same as being safe, and trust is everything.

What readers are saying:

"Told in a beautiful, flowing style full of colorful images and adrenaline-pumping action."

"Pop some popcorn, sit back ... and enjoy the thrill ride, right up to the end, which leaves you begging for more."

"Captures your attention from the start and then guides you through a roller coaster of adventure, drama, mystery, magic and young love."



Purchase:
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-expatriates-book-one-corinne-oflynn/1120628321?ean=2940150751088



AUTHOR BIO:
Corinne O'Flynn is a native New Yorker who now lives in Colorado and wouldn't trade life in the Rockies for anything. She loves writing flash and experimenting with short fiction. Her novel, THE EXPATRIATES (Oct. 2014) is a YA fantasy adventure with magic and creatures and lots of creepy stuff. She is a scone aficionado, has an entire section of her kitchen devoted to tea, and is always on the lookout for the elusive Peanut Chews candy.

When she isn’t writing or hanging with her family, Corinne works as the executive director of a nonprofit. She is a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Mystery Writers of America, and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. You can find her online at her website, Facebook, or Twitter @CorinneOFlynn.


Website:  http://www.corinneoflynn.com
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/oflynnbooks
Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/CorinneOFlynn
Newsletter:  eepurl.com/YNic5
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22917879-the-expatriates

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 21 November 2014

#nanowrimo 2014: Update 3

So... I'm terribly far behind. I should have broken 30K by now, but I haven't. *sigh* But anyway, random excerpt below for random people. I don't have half as much good stuff that I would like, but the way it's going I'm only at the beginning of the story and I've already reached 27K, so maybe this would actually turn out to be full-ish length novel of maybe 100K instead of dying of lack of story at 50K as it usually does.

That's progress, isn't it?


---

When they had finally made their way out of the city, Abernathy slowed his pace and shook his head, with tears streaming down his face.

“I don’t understand,” Adam said.

“It has always been like this,” Abernathy replied. “Always when you tell the people that God’s judgement is near, that his wrath is upon them, they will try to bribe Him. They will bring of their ‘offerings’, thinking that the more they bring, the more God will listen. But they ignore the finer points of the law - the ones that say to bring the best into His storehouses, bring of your first fruits and not of your leftovers. To them, anything they bring to God is good enough, because they put themselves first. The point of their worship is themselves, not God. God has no place in their hearts.”

Adam looked backwards the the gates that were now closed to him. He wondered if he would ever find his place back in the city he had called home once more. The walls of the Capital stood tall and forbidding, the thick gates seemed to say that he could never return. In the distance, the towers of the Castle stood high above all else, the flag of the Kingdom waving in the soft breeze.

“And how is this different, Abernathy? How is this different from the ways that we seek to please God in order to bring about blessings to ourselves and the kingdom?” Adam asked in a soft voice. “How is this different from me trying to be the penance, trying to take on the weight of the world, when I don’t know who God is and I’m not sure if I’ve ever known?” There was anguish in his voice that started even Adam himself - he had never thought himself so passionate or so burdened.

“Tell me, Adam son of Capital, why you do this? Why have you taken upon yourself this Penance and the Blood Sacrifice? Why do you volunteer yourself to be the Sin Eater for the Kingdom?”

Adam opened his mouth a few times, trying to get the words out, but failing. It seemed as if all the glib answers that often appeared in his brain had slunk away and were now cowering under the light that the priest was shining into him in quest of the truth.

“I - I do not know,” he said humbly. “It felt right - it felt as if it was what I was meant to do. It felt as if God were approving of my sacrifice.”

“Why did it feel that way?”

Adam searched deeper into his heart. “Because I understood then that the people needed it. That for the sake of the people, someone had to complete the Berith Melach, and if the law required the firstborn, then I would be the one who would have to fulfil the law.”

“Did you think of yourself and what you would gain?” the priest pressed again.

Adam shook his head slowly. “I - I thought first of all that I would lose. I thought about how I would lose my kingdom, the kingship my father had bestowed on me - that the Council of Peers had gifted to me. I have to admit, I almost refused. I wanted to refuse. I was too selfish - how could you take my kingdom from me just after you had given it to me?”

Adam had stopped walking. He stared into the distance as he talked, dimly aware of Abernathy by his side. “Why would a good and loving God give me everything I had ever dreamed of only to strip it away within the month? What was the point of that? What was the point of serving a God who would simply punish you for the sake of other people?” He turned to the priest with fire in his eyes. “And that was it, Abernathy, for the sake of the people. That was my turning point. To be able to rule well, to be fit to be called the King of the Kingdom, I would have to sacrifice it all for the sake of the people.” He fell silent, his shoulders slumped, his head bent low.

“So you said yes.” The priest’s voice was low, as if he were sharing a secret. “And that what makes your sacrifice acceptable, Adam son of the Capital. Because you think first of God, and the fulfilment of the law, you weigh the cost to yourself and the gains to your people and you do not consider yourself - but you have faith. Faith that what you do will be for the good of the Kingdom.”

“Is it not wrong to be so selfish as to think of the cost and all I have lost?” Adam asked with tears in his eyes.

Abernathy held him in a tight embrace as he sobbed. “No. It is only human. God didn’t say that we can’t grieve over what we lose. He just says that we need set aside that grief and trust Him.”

The two men walked along the road in silence. As they travelled, Adam drank in everything that he could: the sound of the birds chirping, the shade of the trees as they covered their path, the crunch of leaves and twigs under their feet, the rustle of the animals that scurried away around them, the breeze that caressed them so gently.

“I feel as if this is the last time I will see these things again,” Adam remarked.

Abernathy chuckled. “How morbid you are, my son. It’s not as if the Holy City does not have foliage and animals, you know.”

“I know - but these are the trees and the animals of my city and my childhood. It would just somehow be different, as I am growing different.”

---

AND I DON'T KNOW WHY ABERNATHY. It was some random name from another random story which got stuck in my head. I need new names. :(

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

#interview with @CorinneOFlynn (and a #giveaway)

So I meet all sorts of people (especially writers) on Twitter, Triberr and the blogosphere - One of them is Corinne O'Flynn who's just published a book!

Since I'm supposed to be writing mine, I'll just leave you with a short interview with her as part of her book tour. (Also, giveaway at the bottom!)

---




Tell us about your book.
THE EXPATRIATES is the first book in a new YA fantasy series about a teenage boy, Jim Wales, who discovers his family’s been hiding him in a traveling carnival because he’s being hunted for his powers.

When did you start writing?
Creative Writing was always my favorite class in school, so I’ve been writing for a long time. I didn’t aspire to write novels until I was in my twenties. I lacked a compass for that goal, however and ended up taking loads of writing courses over the years. I have probably always wanted to “be a writer”, but my novel didn’t find me until I was well into my thirties.

Who or what influences your writing?
This is one of those questions where the answer changes by the day. At the moment of this writing, I am feeling the influence of Neil Gaiman, Diana Gabaldon, Phillip Pullman, Stephen King, Susan Kaye Quinn, Kate Morton, and Gillian Flynn. I read across all genres and find that it keeps my mind percolating and fresh. 

Which comes to you first, the characters or the story?
I don’t think you can have one without the other, and finding that balance is important in fiction. I tend to be driven by plot more than character, especially when plotting out a story, but it doesn’t matter how fabulous your plot is if you don’t have characters who are impacted by that particular plot in ways that are specific and meaningful to them. 

---

Book & Author Details:

The Expatriates #1 by Corinne O’Flynn
(Song of the Sending)
Publication date: October 15th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Synopsis:
They told him his world was destroyed.
And they were the last to escape.
They thought he was safe.
They were wrong.


Jim Wales can communicate with animals, but that’s not why he lives with a traveling carnival. Turns out his family’s been hiding him there since he was little, since someone started hunting all the scholars. Jim is a scholar—someone who can manipulate energy using magic—and he has no idea.

When a message arrives from Jim’s father—who supposedly died twelve years ago—Jim’s whereabouts are discovered, their carnival is attacked, and his mother is kidnapped. On the run with a strange glass map and a single coin, Jim finds himself racing to reclaim the father he thought he’d lost, plotting to save his mother, and discovering the truth about who he is.

But going home isn’t the same as being safe, and trust is everything.

What readers are saying:

"Told in a beautiful, flowing style full of colorful images and adrenaline-pumping action."

"Pop some popcorn, sit back ... and enjoy the thrill ride, right up to the end, which leaves you begging for more."

"Captures your attention from the start and then guides you through a roller coaster of adventure, drama, mystery, magic and young love."



Purchase:
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-expatriates-book-one-corinne-oflynn/1120628321?ean=2940150751088



AUTHOR BIO:
Corinne O'Flynn is a native New Yorker who now lives in Colorado and wouldn't trade life in the Rockies for anything. She loves writing flash and experimenting with short fiction. Her novel, THE EXPATRIATES (Oct. 2014) is a YA fantasy adventure with magic and creatures and lots of creepy stuff. She is a scone aficionado, has an entire section of her kitchen devoted to tea, and is always on the lookout for the elusive Peanut Chews candy.

When she isn’t writing or hanging with her family, Corinne works as the executive director of a nonprofit. She is a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Mystery Writers of America, and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. You can find her online at her website, Facebook, or Twitter @CorinneOFlynn.

Website:  http://www.corinneoflynn.com
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/oflynnbooks
Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/CorinneOFlynn
Newsletter:  eepurl.com/YNic5
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22917879-the-expatriates



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 14 November 2014

#nanowrimo 2014: Update 2

An excerpt, as promised.

---

“I have decided,” the Princess announced to no one in particular, “that something must be done to prevent this marriage.” She looked over to where the maids were studiously ignoring her. They were heartily sick of this conversation and line of reasoning by now.

“Does any of you have any ideas?”

No one replied. The Princess continued pacing the room.

“There are, after all, many things much more important than marriage. I suppose if I decided on one of them, Father will have to allow me to pursue it instead of simply getting married to god knows who. The question, however, is what should I do?”

Continuing to talk to herself, she found her way into the kitchens where Magda presided over the huge cooking pot, wooden ladle in hand.

“Magda, you have to help me,” she said, standing in front of the pot and peering into its contents.

“What is it, sayang?” Magda replied.

“Father comes back from the Capital tomorrow and I need to find an excuse by then as to why I should not marry this prince.”

“Why do you not want to marry him?”

“Because I don’t know him, and I resolve not to marry anyone I don’t know. What if he is the youngest son of many and never amounts to anything much? I would have lost out on a greater match.”

Magda rolled her eyes. “As I have said, sayang, you should meet him first before you decide -”

“No, no, Magda. You cannot take my father’s side! He has no right to simply draft me into a marriage as if I were a soldier that he can force to fight on his side.”

“The Tun doesn’t do that.”

The Princess ignored her comment. “What if he is ugly or stupid or just plain unlikeable? No. I must find a way out of this.”

“All you can do is delay the inevitable, sayang, unless God himself wills it.”

“Ah! God!” A look of glee spread over the princess’ face.

“What? What is it?” Magda asked suspiciously.

“A pilgrimage! I should seek the face of God to find out if it is his will for me to marry this prince!”

“Do not take God lightly, my princess,” Magda said warningly, waving the ladle at her. “A pilgrimage is not something you can simply embark upon -”

“It is the perfect excuse,” the Princess interrupted. “I will avail myself to the service of God - by the time I journey to the Holy City and back, whatever urgency my father and this prince has to try to make a match will be over, and I can go back to my own plans.”

“And what if God does answer you?” Magda asked, narrowing her eyes. ‘What if the Almighty decides to call you into His service?”

The princess looked at her uncertainly. “Well, I highly doubt it, but I will cross that hurdle when I come to it. Don’t be such a sourpuss, Maggie dear. I’m sure God won’t expect me to do anything of the sort.”

She turned on her heel and flounced out of the room, ignoring Magda’s mutters.



Tulen stared at the princess’s retreating back with her mouth gaping.

“Oh, shut your mouth before a fly goes in, child. You look like a goldfish,” Magda grumbled.

“How could - why - I - I don’t understand,” Tulen said, flustered. “She - why?”

Magda grunted in reply. “The girl is need of a good smacking. Unfortunately, Magda doesn’t have the right to do so,” the old woman said, more to herself than in answer to Tulen.

“But will she truly - how can - punish her - won’t God?” Tulen tried again.

“Sayang, I can’t answer your question if I don’t understand what you’re asking.” The ladle waved in the air. “In order to ask a question, you need to put the words in the right order.”

“But…” Tulen gave up.

Magda chuckled at her. “Yes, the princess often has that impact on most of us. It is hard to fathom her mind, to understand the strange things that she does. But it is not our place to correct her. The Tun has made that clear enough to us.” She shook her head and waved the ladle upwards. “He is too lenient with her, allowing her to be headstrong in all the wrong ways. Her waywardness will be upon him, for he has allowed it. I have told him before and warned him, but he cannot find it in his heart to reprimand his precious only daughter.”

“Will he really allow her to go on a pilgrimage just to get out of this marriage?” Tulen finally found herself able to phrase a complete sentence.

Magda shrugged. “Most likely yes. If she phrases it in the right way, and oh, she knows the right way to wrap her father around her little finger, the he will grant her all that she wishes. I am quite surprised that he had not asked her permission about the marriage proposal in the first place.”

“Then will we - who will - I mean,” Tulen took a deep breath. “If she goes on this pilgrimage, who will go with her?”

Magda looked up at her sharply, taking in the breathless hope on her face. Her face softened. “Ah, I see. Well, that will really depend on what her father says. We shall see, Tulen. We shall see. Who knows, God may grant you your heart’s desire.”

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

#bookreview: Nazi Goreng by Marco Ferrarese

Nazi GorengNazi Goreng by Marco Ferrarese
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Nazi Goreng starts off pretty mildly with Asrul, the naive young Malay from Alor Setar, first meeting the neo-Nazi skinhead, Malik, after he gets beaten up by a gang of Indians. In fact, the first part of the book is generally benign and frankly a little slow, as Asrul and Malik move from the backwaters of Kedah to the bigger city of Penang.
Things begin to pick up when Malik gets them involved with the Iranian drug dealer, Mr Porthaksh, then quickly spiral out of control. From petty acts of ethnic violence, Asrul soon finds himself involved in more dangerous situations, such as gun-toting Nigerians and a Chinese triad, Sio Sam Ong.

Marco Ferrarese introduces me to a Penang I hardly recognise, although I've lived here almost all my life. I don't deny that these things do happen - and maybe this book is a way to build awareness of the tensions that I live so blithely unaware of, for the sole reason that I avoid these places in the dark. It seems as if the city has a different night life from what I think - if, in fact, these are based on true facts.

I suppose my dislike of this book mainly stems from the copious amounts of sex and swearing. He drops variants of the f-word as if it were candy, allowing it to pepper most of the dialogue, and often uses c*** or b**** to describe women. I obviously don't move in the same circles as Ferrarese does; the dialogue he writes doesn't seem real to me.
Overall, the language Ferrarese uses to describe women, mainly through Malik, are extremely derogatory, and he tries often to disabuse Asrul of his "naive" view of women. These are then proven true when the two women that Asrul actually interacts with end up having sex with him for the sole reason of gaining his trust to use and/or trick him. In fact, of the four main women characterised in the book, two sleep with Asrul to take advantage of him, and the other two are forced to perform oral sex on corrupt policemen whilst their immigrant boyfriends are being thrown off a cliff. I'm not sure what view Ferrarese has of women, but from this book, it seems rather bleak.

Marco Ferrarese has his moments - the story is compelling and intricate enough to make you want to continue reading, which is why I'm leaving this as a two-star story, even if I personally did not really like it. Perhaps part of the reason this book seems unbelievable to me is the rose-tinted glasses I view Penang with. I know it's not perfect and definitely no utopia, but I would rather live with a biased view of the peaceful and gracious people that the Malays are (except maybe some politicians) than to think of them as these foul-mouthed, irrational, sex-obssessed thugs that Ferrarese makes them out to be.

View all my reviews

Friday, 7 November 2014

#nanowrimo 2014: Update 1

It's been a little quiet here because I've been busy, and November started.

I'm not quite sure I'm ready to post any of my writing for the current novel as yet (I'm quite far behind, and I'm not sure I like what I'm writing yet), but I'll just leave you with my concept/synopsis/blurb thingy then.

---

Working title: Absolution

The prophets have long foretold that the time of judgement is coming. The End of Days is near.
As the Heir to the Kingdom, it falls on Adam to take up the role of Sin Eater: performing Penance on behalf of the Kingdom to ensure their salvation. Dressed in sackcloth, he sets out alone from Capital, crossing the Desert of Bones, only hoping that he reaches the Holy City in time to present his sacrifice and complete the Covenant of Salt before the End of Days is set into motion.

Princess X of the City of Dreams is on a pilgrimage to the Holy City to seek direction for her life’s work, and to try to get out of that annoying arranged marriage to the prince of the Capital. In her entourage are her former nurse, Magda, and the street waif that Magda picked up. On the way, they meet a wandering beggar who claims he is heading to the Holy City to complete the Covenant of Salt before judgement is brought upon the Kingdom.

Tulen has lived the past decade of her life under the guilt of having killed her younger brother. His body was never found and the local priests announced her innocence, but she has never known peace since then. When Magda offers her a chance to join the Princess’ pilgrimage to the Holy City, she jumps at it, hoping that she would finally find absolution for her soul.

--
-

Also, she's Princess X because she still doesn't have a name. Urgh.
Anyone want to give me a name? Her father is currently called Tun Nadir. Don't ask me why.

Oh. And here's the widgety thingy!