Friday, 30 September 2011

#fridayflash: Imago dei

Sheril glared at her reflection: short, dumpy, too-dark skin, flat hair, eyes just a little too far apart.

“Hah! Who looks like god? Not me, certainly,” she grumbled aloud, certain that the comforting words the preacher had said this morning in church was just another miasma of religious pretension. “You can’t fill this lacuna with your empty words. Empty is empty and empty fills nothing.”

Mama would think her crazy to be talking to her reflection, but sometimes she thought Mama was crazy to believe in a god who would leave her in this hellhole with a missing Papa who could not even spell Cheryl right, stupid Latino.

“I certainly do not want to look like you either,” a voice said, startling her. “No, do not oscitate. I understand there has been a glitch in the spacetime continuum that has brought me here right at this moment, which has proven to be quite synchronistic, don’t you think?

Sheril stared at the bearded man reflected behind her left shoulder.

“Ah, all sorted out now,” he said, smiling.

“Who are you and what do you do in my room?” Sheril asked, turning to look behind her.

There was no one there.

---

Prompt: the second campaigner challenge.

Write a blog post in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should:
  • include the word "imago" in the title [check]
  • include the following 4 random words: "miasma," "lacuna," "oscitate," "synchronicity," [check]
If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional and included in the word count), make reference to a mirror in your post. [check]
For those who want an even greater challenge (optional), make your post 200 words EXACTLY! [check]
The 200 words was hard, this time. It kept getting either too long or too short. Like my post on rachael's blog (see link above) if you like it! It's number 167. :)

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

#bookreview: The White Road by Lynn Flewelling (goodreads crosspost)

The White Road (Nightrunner, #5)The White Road by Lynn Flewelling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Saddled with Sebrahn, a magical creature who can heal, kill and raise the dead, Seregil and Alec set off on a journey back to Plenimar, where an alchemist had created Sebrahn out of Alec’s blood, to find a way to prevent it from ever happening again. For exactly the same reason, they are hunted by Alec’s long-lost kin, intent on capturing him and Sebrahn before anymore tayan’gils are created out of Alec’s blood. Also hot on their tail is Seregil’s old nemesis who desires Sebrahn for his healing power.

I only picked up The White Road because it was on 50% discount and it had a Legolas-looking persona on the cover (not that I like Legolas, but I like elves and elvish stuff in general). I had browsed the blurb and found it to be about two heroes searching for “the truth about this living homunculus - a journey that can only lead to danger… or death”. I mean, what could go wrong with a fantasy with elves (she calls them faie, but anyone with a decent background in reading fantasy would know the words are interchangeable) and magic and dangerous adventure? I did take the precaution of reading the list of “also by Lynn Flewelling” to find out if it was part of a series, but didn’t find any indication. No “So and so series” with list of books or “book #XX of the something-or-other chronicles!”

Boy, was I wrong. After the first chapter, I started thinking that there was too much back story to the book for it to be a stand alone. Then again, The White Road was written as a complete novel in itself - whilst I wondered if there were prior books (maybe one of the also-bys) to the series, I didn’t find it difficult to follow the story. A quick google search later informed me that this was book 5 of the Nightrunner series.

It was altogether a tantalising read, one of those books that just don’t let you put it down. I mean, it took altogether about 5 hours, on a working night, up until 2AM to for me to release that final sigh of relief, so go figure.

Note:
I went back to the bookshop a few days later but couldn’t find any of the other books. I suppose Flewelling’s not popular enough to be high on the list of imports. On the other hand, I’ve only ever found the Ender series (Orson Scott Card) during warehouse sales, and you hardly see any Eddings on the shelves anymore, so maybe it’s the poor reception of fantasy books in Malaysia that’s causing the problem. A third deterrent could be the fact that the two main protagonists are in a homosexual relationship. Um, yeah, way to go, censorship board.

View all my reviews

Friday, 23 September 2011

#Fridayflash: An uneasy love

This is a short story I started working on for the Writer's Digest short story competition. As usual, I bit off a little more than I could chew in my choice of topic... so I may or may not finish it, depending on whether I figure out where they're going (or rather, whether they figure out who they really are and define the relationship [the one thing I ever learnt from Boundless was DTR, not that I ever had a chance to use it], if that makes sense). More notes after the story, because you may or may not agree with where I'm coming from. Don't read it if you're a bigot.
---

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

pre post camp post,

if that even makes sense.
I wanted to do a long post about camp. But I've been terribly busy at work trying to clear the backlog, and then I spent forever writing up (or rather editing) a travel advisory for the GCF delegates coming for the planning meeting for EAGC 2013 and my eyes can't stay open a moment longer. [Evangel asked me, don't you ever sleep? You sent me this at 2 AM and I see you online now (that was about 10AM on Tuesday morning).]
But I'll just leave you with a thought I've been mulling over since the session on discernment: what would you do different if you were to really know who and whose you were?

The other thing I have been mulling over would be to come up with some kind of blogging and/or writing schedule.
This would generally look something like this (with reference my past blogging trends):
Sundays (or sometimes Monday nights) - some deep reflective post and/or rant involving church, worship, cell group and God.
Fridays (or sometimes Saturday mornings) - #fridayflash
I should probably add in a day for updates on writing progress (hah! What progress?) which could possibly on Wednesdays, just to even it up.
We'll see how it goes. (This normally means that nothing will happen because I get too busy and/or lazy)

Friday, 9 September 2011

#Fridayflash: Now was forever

The door swung open; the aisle stretched endlessly before her. She smiled blankly, instinctively. The music swelling in her ears was overshadowed by the pounding of her heart. The first day of the rest of her life, and she stood there, like a fool, with an empty stomach. At least there was nothing to throw up.

How did I get here? The pink roses trembled, the baby buds she had asked for suddenly seeming alien in her freshly manicured hands. A steady arm held her, a familiar voice whispered in her ear, “Ready, my little princess?” Twenty-six years of being the baby of the family would be changed in the next hour; had in reality been changed yesterday at the Registrar’s office by the signatures of five people. What have I done?

It had seemed so simple, so magical, a year ago. He had asked, she had answered. And now, now was forever. Now was…

She was aware of the smiling face bobbing by the altar, so comforting and yet so unreal. She took the first step toward him, almost tripping on her dress and in her wobbly heels.

Her wedding train trailed behind her; the door swung shut.

---

Prompt: The first campaigner challenge!

Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count.[check]

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: "the door swung shut." (also included in the word count)[check]

For those who want an even greater challenge, make your story 200 words EXACTLY![check - according to Scrivener, at least]

This was quite fun. Also, rather inspired by my cousin's wedding and the recent spate of engagements. People, can you stop getting engaged and married already? Or at least find me one so I can join in the fun! Haha.
On writing matters, I find that I'm using commas a lot. Please let me know if it feels too disjointed or truncated. I'm not sure if it really works. 

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

How He Loves Us.

Awesomest.

And yet, so forgettable, in the midst of the hustle and bustle and the rush and the buzz. But at the core, oh, how he loves us.

Haggai 1:7-9
Thus says the Lord of hosts, "Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified," says the Lord. "You look for much, but behold, it comes to little; when you bring it home, I blow it away. Why?" declares the Lord of hosts, "Because of My house which lies desolate, while each of you runs to his own house."

When things seem pointless, a timely point to consider.

Working on my weekend worship set now. :)

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Piracy: The complex Malaysian Christian stand

So I was talking with this guy, Caleb, at my cousin's wedding dinner on Sunday night and we somehow got from music into books and into piracy (the copy-your-content-and-sell-it-cheap kind, not the Captain-Jack-Sparrow kind) and online file sharing.
And you know the thing about piracy is, it's not good. It's not nice and it's not Christian. To put it harshly, it's stealing. Sort of.

I mean, I write. I post stuff online. Right now, all of it is free, because most of the stuff I do is blog. Or write articles for people. But I would really like to write a publishable novel, and I might go the e-book route through Smashwords or Amazon. And if I do that, I would really like all the money for those sales to come to me. Like, if each person were to buy an e-book and the royalty comes to me, rather than say if A buys it and then passes a copy to B who passes a copy to C.
Then comes the other thought - what's so different between that happening with an actual print book and that happening with an e-book? I mean, I often borrow books off other people (which is, in fact, A buying the book then passing it on to B and passing it on to C). The difference is - there is only ONE actual print book, as compared to THREE different copies of the digital version.
And how about buying second hand books? I buy A LOT of second-hand books. The money still doesn't go back to the original writer/publisher, does it? It's all very complex. Why is the re-selling of second-hand books legal, but the re-selling (or sharing) of a digital version not? The argument goes back to the number of copies of the book available, doesn't it? There will only always be one ORIGINAL copy of the print book (let's not talk about making photocopies) whereas, there could be many, many copies of the digital version by now.

I also sing and act non-professionally. I know the amount of time and trouble it takes to get things right. Writing a song is a work of art, crafting everything together and getting the arrangements in shape is not only time-consuming, it's expensive if you're going to hire out. It's not good enough to say that oh, but the singers/actors/production houses are so rich anyway it's not going to make any difference to them. The reason they are able to get rich is because they sell A LOT of albums/shows. If you're a new artiste, fresh off the racks, in all probability you're not going to make enough to break even. If you pirate every album or movie you come across, there will be NO industry left because they won't be able to cover any of the costs! Yes, burning a copy of the album is super cheap. But the technology and the time and the effort it takes to come up with the original product is not insignificant.
A music album would need at minimum the band and the singer(s), the graphic designer (to come up with album art or at least the little logo thingy if you buy it off itunes), the composers/song writers (assuming that these songs are not written by the band/singers themselves), the guy who does the musical arrangement (may or may not be a separate person) and the sound engineer (or whatever you call the person who mixes the sound together) - I'm probably missing out a lot of other people (marketing, maybe) and don't forget that while they're doing all this stuff, they need money to keep themselves alive. Then there's the equipment - piano/keyboards, guitars, drums, whatever other instruments are being played, sound desk and all the recording devices, microphones, amps, mixing software...
True, you could probably do without a lot of these and record everything off your laptop, but the sound isn't the same, is it?
A movie? There's the director, producer, actors, cameramen, gaffers, video editors, computer graphic-y/animation people, costume designer, music director... if you've ever stayed to read the credits THAT'S A LOT OF PEOPLE INVOLVED. Let's not start on equipment.

And yet, the thing is, I don't think many Malaysians realise this. It's just a movie to watch, or an album to listen to and if you can get a perfectly good copy for RM4 where the whole family can watch together, why bother going to the cinema at RM8 - RM10 per person (imagine if you have a family of 5) or an original VCD/DVD which may be between RM30 - RM50?
I admit, I do hunt for bargain VCD/DVDs (often priced between RM12.90 to RM19.90). Nothing wrong with that - it's still the original. I don't know how the royalties/payments work that way, but I'm still buying the original product. (I suspect the distributing shop takes the hit, but these are usually obsolete/old/overrun/written off stocks anyway).
Actually, scratch the "Malaysian". I don't think most of society realises this anymore. The concept of paying for value has kind of gotten thrown out the window in recent years. There's so much free stuff around that people feel entitled to having other stuff free, and get outraged when they're asked to pay for it. What's so hard about doing all this artsy stuff anyway? is the kind of reaction you get, as if writing a book can be done in a day. Or writing a song is just a hobby. It may be a hobby for you, but it's a livelihood to others. And if they don't get paid, they can't continue giving you the content you want.



The problem for me, as a Malaysian, is that it's pretty much a way of life, a culture almost. Music and movies are often overpriced for the average person (especially if you're a student) and I admit to having copied music/e-books from friends before. And sometimes there are some great stuff that doesn't come here officially/legally and the only way you can get hold of it is through online file sharing (or the local pirates).

And there's that saying that if your stuff gets pirated and sold on Batu Feringghi, that's when you know you've made it as an artist...

So I don't know. It's wrong. It's plain confusing.
It's a stand I suppose one has to make and I'm trying to. It's difficult.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Review: A to Z Stories of Life and Death (goodreads crosspost)

A to Z Stories of Life and DeathA to Z Stories of Life and Death by D. Biswas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Birthed out of a month-long blogfest, D. Biswas’ A to Z Stories of Life and Death presents 26 short stories organised according to the letters in the alphabet. Beginning with the innocence and wonder of a child finding snails in her Aquarium and ending with a fiery funeral pyre in Zone, the stories run the gamut from love, murder, sex, abuse, addiction, myth, sickness and mourning - all revolving around the issues of life and death. 



Majority of the stories are very poignant vignettes focusing on slices of life, with several longer flash fiction in between. Reading them makes you feel as if you are collecting memories from various sources and trying them on for size. Each story has its own personal twist - the endings are never quite what you expect - and most would leave you with a tear in your eye.



What I like about Biswas’ writing is the descriptive way she writes, which helps put you right in the middle of the scene. She is very good at invoking emotions and making you feel the story without a sense of detachment.





View all my reviews

Saturday, 3 September 2011

A blogger game!

Got this off Kimberly's blog:
Here's how it works. I'll post 10 random things about myself. If you're interested in playing along, post 10 things about yourself on your blog. If the user account you post with doesn't link over to your blog, be sure to leave your blog url so I can check out your 10 random things. :)
Okay, so here goes:

1. I'm typing this off my iPad whilst chilling at my cousin's house (this is also for you to excuse my poor editing skills while on the iPad because I normally edit everything once I'm home on my comp, but I'm not going home until Monday so that's not about to happen.)

2. The first dish I learnt how to cook was Maggi Mee (instant noodles) at about age seven, using the microwave.

3. I haven't much advanced from there since then. If i need to cook anything, it's bound to be something microwaveable.

4. I'm friendlier online than offline (apparently). I think it's something to do with the way I look like I'm frowning if I think too much. Or possibly the book I usually carry around in case I end up alone.

5. I love singing! Especially in harmonies!

6. Unfortunately, I usually pretty much hate karaoke.

7. I wrote, acted and directed a musical once. (a friend wrote the music and songs, I did the script). I still wince whenever watching the video. Which I avoid watching like the plague.
8. I love describing myself as a bean counter (though I'm not exactly one) so I can watch the puzzled looks on people's faces while they try to figure out what that means.

9. I once had this German word craze for a few months in high school which made a friend buy me a German-English dictionary for my birthday. I hardly used it so it's almost brand new. Anyone wants it?

10. I do most of my writing between 11pm to 2am, even if I start off by sitting in front of my computer since 9pm. I don't really know why.


So that's it from me! Looking forward to yours :) Have a happy campaign, people!

P/s I know I said I'm away til monday. But I got bored and couldn't resist

Friday, 2 September 2011

Away!

Just dropping by to hang up my "away" sign. I've gone 4 hours south to Kuala Lumpur (and parts of PJ) for my cousin's wedding. This is only the second cousin in my family (on my mum's side at least) to get married, so it's a pretty momentous thing. The rest of us 'older ones' are still single... I'll be back on Monday for the first campaigner's challenge thing. So meanwhile, follow me on twitter and read the awesome posts from my awesome writer warrior friends. P/s I'm still trying to figure out what's the best way to link up all the campaigners in my group for ease of following for my and my readers. Tips? Leave 'em here!