Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014: a year in review


The only time I wish I were on wordpress would be at year end when they do that snazzy year end review thingy, instead of me having to do this manually.

The numbers for this year has been a little dismal - not that I actually tracked anything (I'm just comparing stuff now for the heck of it).
I wrote slightly more posts this year (149 vs 125) but there was a drop of page views from 63K to 53K. Then again, I haven't really been concentrating on my blog, other than the A to Z challenge every April and occasional blog tours and friday flash posts.

Okay, I don't understand these stats - how did the total number of page views for the same post drop from 770 to 754? Mmmmmm


Unreliable blog stats aside, I don't know how to sum up this year.

I would say that the highlights of the year would be my two working trips to San Jose and the new friends I've made along the way. Other than that, I think I've been coasting through most of the year, fighting against procrastination and just being too darned comfortable where I am. It's been a year of evaluation and reevaluation, and in the midst of the peaks where I know where I'm headed and the troughs where I'm convinced I'm heading the wrong way, there's a sense of maybe, just maybe, taking steps in kind of the right direction. I hope.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas!



I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

---

It's hard not to get sucked up into the inherent consumerism that surrounds Christmas nowadays. It's hard to remember what it's all about.
And yet we must.
Because if we do not, who will?

---

A
Star
A star
Dancing in 
the night
The 
Child
The Child
Sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light

---

And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. 

Sunday, 21 December 2014

#thecolornoise launch: great music

Pretty... also pretty expensive.
I came out of my hermitage to attend The Color Noise's long awaited EP launch. As all things Malaysian, it started off late.

The night started off with Pastelpower, Cherie Ko's electronic project.

According to Facebook, her genre is pastelwave... whatever that means. I can't say I'm a fan. For one, she suffers from the local artist malady - incomprehensibly garbled lyrics. I had no clue what half her songs were about, or rather, I could only hear/understand the lyrics of maybe half of each song. Secondly, I guess this isn't quite my genre. It felt mindlessly repeating without any build up.
But yay for tea-making references, at least in the first two songs!

I guess this is the song I enjoyed the most:





This was followed by Son Of A Policeman (SOAP), also known as SabunBand. SOAP is hilariously Malaysian and my first reaction was "why have I not heard of them before?"
Oh right, I haven't been going out much.

They've apparently been around since 2012, though the band members seem to have changed up a bit. They're great entertainers - and super plus point, other than my lack of Mandarin skills, everything else they sang was super clear.

Josh and Zijunn are great vocalists.





Next up was Kien Lim. I normally love his stuff when he plays in China House, but for some reason or another, when sandwiched between SOAP and The Color Noise, his performance felt a little too mellow.

I'm guessing the line up was probably arranged according to popularity or name (in Penang, at least), but I would have put Kien Lim after Pastelpower and before SOAP just because of the drop in energy. Then again maybe they wanted the solo/band to alternate. I don't know.



And after all that... The Color Noise only came on at nearly eleven.


It was a long wait, but I guess worth it. Seems like they have a great fan base already - a bunch of screaming fans went up to the front to jump and dance. A bunch of people at the side were also dancing along to the music (also probably thoroughly drunk by that time).

The music was tight and the synth over the guitars adds a very nice (and not so common) layer. Often you get very rock/guitar sounds or very piano/electronic sounds (compare Pastelpower and SOAP), but The Color Noise merges these two to have a very nice rock sound layered over with the synth. The only minus like really minus point is... again... I don't get half of what Daryl is singing.
Surprise of the night, I guess, was the strength of Reuben's harmonies. You don't normally hear him sing that loud.

Anyway, photos here!




Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Christopher Datta's book is on sale!

Touched with Fire, Christopher Datta's #1 best selling Historical Fiction is on sale now for only $0.99.

touchedwithfire"A tremendously amazing story for History lovers!"

"A fantastic story that engaged"

"An excellent example of entertwining a love story with historical facts"



$0.99 December 15th-19th



Touched With Fire, a novel of the Civil War inspired by the true story of Ellen Craft.

Ellen Craft is property; in this case, of her half-sister Debra, to whom she was given as a wedding gift. The illegitimate daughter of a Georgia plantation owner and a house slave, she learned to hate her own image, which so closely resembled that of her “father:” the same wiry build, the same blue eyes, and the same pale—indeed, lily-white—skin.

Ellen lives a solitary life until she falls, unexpectedly, in love with a dark-skinned slave named William Craft, and together they devise a plan to run North. Ellie will pose as a gentleman planter bound for Philadelphia accompanied by his “boy” Will. They make it as far as Baltimore when Will is turned back, and Ellie has no choice but continue. With no way of knowing if he is dead or alive, she resolves to make a second journey—South again. And so Elijah Craft enlists with the 125th Ohio Volunteers of the Union Army: she will literally fight her way back to her husband.

Eli/Ellie’s journey is the story of an extraordinary individual and an abiding love, but also of the corrosive effects of slavery, and of a nation at a watershed moment.


Announcing the release of Fire & Dust, book two in the Fire Trilogy

fireanddust"If you thought you knew the Civil War, think again. In Fire and Dust, Christopher Datta takes you beyond the clatter and gore of the battlefield to reveal the very hearts and minds of the Confederacy. His characters will haunt you like a rebel yell, sounding down through the years to touch you with their sacrifices, their struggles, and—most of all—their humanity." -Karen Lyon, Hill Rag Magazine






In the fall of 1863, there is still a chance to prevent a Union victory in the Civil War.

Robert E. Lee’s most trusted senior commander, General James Longstreet, takes two Virginia divisions west to unite with General Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee. Longstreet arrives just in time to join in the Confederate attack on the Union army at the battle of Chickamauga.

As the fate of the Confederacy is decided, this epic saga plays out against the backdrop of the love stories of Mexican war veteran Sargent Sam Davis and the recently widowed Sally O’Grady, and of the young, poor and naive private Harry Kolb and Rachel Shaw, the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner. Their tales bring to vivid life the forgotten watershed moments of September, October and November of 1863, a period that more than any other determined the outcome of the war.

Fire and Dust narrates the history of the Civil War as it really was, and makes you a front row witness as the destiny of the Confederacy unfolds.




About the Author

Chris1
Born in Washington, DC Chris Datta, Foreign Service officer, has been on numerous battlefields for his job and country. He has seen mass graves, brought war criminals to justice and in this new chapter, Datta brings readers a stunning historical account of the American Civil War with Touched with Fire. His attention to detail is superb, and his experiences abroad have given him ample stories to tell for years to come.

His action packed life has taken him across the world from the United States to Liberia and Southern Sudan. Not only serving in active war zones but often battling tropical diseases, Datta has nurtured his fascination with civil conflict by diving into the history books and historical records of America’s past. His research is meticulous, and his attention to detail creates vivid pictures of the past.

Monday, 15 December 2014

We have a winner!

You know what... I was so busy/lazy the past weekend I almost forgot that I had to select a winner for the giveaway. Hahaha.

But I remembered and went to rafflecopter to pick the winner.

Ms KK, Xpresso Book Tours will be contacting you sometime on/after Dec 17 to send you the ebook.


Friday, 12 December 2014

Beauty

You are beauty
In the brokenness
    Held together
By cellophane tape
And raffia string
    Keeping back
The tears that
Tear you apart

Broken
But not irreparably so

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

#bookreview: The Ghost at Retreat Lake by Dan Rix

The Ghost At Retreat Lake (Timeloopers, #2)The Ghost At Retreat Lake by Dan Rix
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fresh out of the crazy, unnerving, time looping events in A Strange Machine, Iris, Cory and Noah watch with horror as a future Iris Strasser crawls out of the machine and dies in front of their eyes.
Still, Cory Holland, like the annoying prick he is, insists that they go for the senior class lake retreat, because... it will be extremely fun.

Except it's not. A series of close calls and strange happenings further unnerve Iris Strasser, and it's all she can do to convince Cory to stop ogling girls and flirting to listen to her concerns. However, Cory's not as clueless as he pretends to be - even whilst he's enjoying himself zip-lining and swimming (and annoying Iris), he's also trying to work through the events to figure out just what's happening with the Chronos and the strange codes he's found.
Getting the two of them to work together is a huge problem - one that may end up in both of their deaths. But that's not enough. If they don't get Anneliese Faye's cooperation, they may never solve the mystery of the ghost at retreat lake.

Reading The Ghost at Retreat Lake had me confused at times - it honestly felt as if there were dual story lines, or at least dual versions of Cory in the book. Part of it, I suppose, was because of the extremely opposite viewpoints used - between Iris' perception of Cory and his own perception of himself, I was beginning to wonder whether the timeloop had created another version of Cory! There didn't seem to be a similar duality with Iris though. Maybe because Iris sees herself more clearly than Cory does?

Rix again shows his mastery at meshing seemingly random and unrelated events and story lines so that they begin to make sense - and he addresses at least one concern I had from the first book - Edgar Faye. (One thing I'm hoping very hard does not happen though is this burgeoning "romance" thing between Cory and Iris. It's just no no no no no, you are NOT right for each other.)

Of course, he just *has* to end at a cliff hanger and ask you to wait for book three...

I received a pre-release copy of this book in exchange for an honest review


View all my reviews

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Syiok Sendiri - a not quite review


SYNOPSIS (from PenangPac's website)
Syiok Sendiri! A Very Merry Malaysian Christmas!' is the first installment of the 'Syiok Sendiri' series, a comedy-variety project we are hoping would be an endless saga of celebrating the spirit of 'self amusement' on stage. Expect drivel material, not-so-high-brow stuff, and occasional 'siapa makan cili terasa pedas' (tak faham, google la ye!) moments. But ingat ye, no need to be tersinggung and all ok. It's all in good fun. So datanglah beramai-ramai to penangpac from 5-7 December and join the Syiok Sendiri crew as we celebrate Christmas...a la Malaysia.

* For Mature Audience ONLY !
---

I caught Syiok Sendiri!: A very merry Malaysian Christmas! today. On kind of a whim. Well, not really a whim. I knew a couple of people who were involved in it and since I was feeling bored and unmotivated to do anything today, and there were tickets, mah go lor.

Syiok Sendiri is a "comedy-variety performance", which was truly funny (only if you understand the Malaysian context) and very varied. There was a Christmas performance, a drag queen, some keyboard warriors, annoyed flight attendants, a gossipy sales girl, a very cinapek Scrooge, catwalks, a game show, bollywood, errr too many things to remember right now.

I have to say that it was really rather well done... and rather deliciously seditious. Don't go if you're easily offended or if you don't quite understand what satire is.

Two more shows tomorrow (Sunday)! Tickets are RM35 each.

---

Performance wise, I would say that the cast did a great job overall. I especially loved Kanchana and Isabelle - I would say that they were the most natural and realistic of the six.

One major weak point I would have to point out would be that since that Stage 2 is really a very small stage, and I sat right in front because, well, because, there could have been more emphasis placed on facial expressions. This wouldn't really be relevant if this had been done on a bigger stage, say Stage 1, where the audience are really quite far away from the performers - I think the body language was pretty much consistent - but being that close up, there were several instances where it felt like the actors broke character a little based on their facial expressions.
Or maybe I'm just expecting too much facial expressions. I don't know.

Anyway.

Catch it if you can.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

A #giveaway! In time for Christmas!

So... I finished NaNoWriMo... as in I completed the 50K words... but the story isn't quite done yet. But I got lazy.

Anyway, while I get back to actually finishing the story, here's something to entertain you - remember the book I was blitzing in November? The Expatriates?

Yeah, well, I have a copy to giveaway. Check that out here. Special additional entries available if you show some love for Love in Penang. ;)

Don't have a copy? Find out where you can get one here. Or, well, pretty Amazon widget just below. (P/S - if you're from Malaysia/Singapore, it's cheaper in the local bookstores listed in the link above. Also, if you're anywhere in San Jose, I'll be there in Jan!)



Anyway, distractions aside... ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE.

Friday, 28 November 2014

#fridayflash: Dreams

I dreamt about you last night, and you let me lean into you instead of moving away. I breathed you in hungrily; that warm, familiar, earthy smell of comfort and food, of confidence and peace. And instead of making space, you reduced it and you let me hold your hand, just because. So instead of waltzing around the words that keep us apart, we finally spoke the truth to each other; the truth of our hopes and dreams and the way we wanted to intertwine like vines, instead of claiming our separate oases, like cacti.

Then I woke up to a cold, empty bed, to the hard reality that my dreams make you into something you wish not to be, to the knowledge that the space between us is of your doing, and no matter how I try to close the gap, you will always move away. So I try to stop myself from becoming the person I swore never to be; the jealous non-girlfriend who grasps at will o' the wisps, the broken-hearted woman who becomes a bitter spinster, the unhappy single aunt at every occasion. I've given up on you, so I try to let you go.

But I can't. And my dreams cannot change you from the man you are becoming; a man in love with someone else.

---

Theme: Metamorphosis

---

A mini break from nanowrimo.

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
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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!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

#bookreview: Megan's Way by Melissa Foster

Megan's WayMegan's Way by Melissa Foster
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

When Megan Taylor's cancer strikes back with a vengeance, she makes a decision to stop taking her medication so that her 14-year-old daughter, Olivia, would not have to watch her health deteriorate over a long period of time. Megan's Way follows her journey to, and after, death, and explores the impact it has on Olivia as well as her group of friends.
I guess people have their own ways of thinking, but I imagine that having a longer span of time with Megan, even if she were sick, would have been better for Olivia, than to watch her die so quickly. To each her own, I guess.

As much as I would have liked to give this book a better rating, everything from the middle of the book onwards culminated, for me, in a what-the-heck-did-I-just-read ending. Part of it stems from ideological (or maybe theological) differences, as there are very vague semi-religious rituals in the story which seem to be a mix of Buddhism, paganism and a belief in God (I hesitate to say Christianity, though there were frequent prayers to "Lord" and "God" which, in a Western society would normally indicate Christianity/Catholicism) which left me rather confused. And then there was the prophecy/foretelling by the fortune teller in the beginning of the story which doesn't appear anywhere else until it is mentioned again at the very end, leaving you with this strange aftertaste of, "so what did it really mean? Did it actually mean anything?"
The flashbacks, while helping to tell the back story, were also, I felt, a little overdone. I don't know. I don't think there would have been a better way to show all the back story that Foster wanted to reveal, but it just didn't sit well with me, especially having so many of them in the last half of the book. Maybe there could have been more revelation in the beginning half.
Finally, there is the revelation of the convoluted sexual relationships between the four friends (Megan, Holly, Jack and Peter) which leaves you reeling as to WHO ARE OLIVIA'S REAL PARENTS???? (I hope that's not a spoiler. Hah)

I really don't know how to rate this book. I normally leave 1 stars for books that I had trouble finishing, but I didn't have trouble finishing this even though I didn't really like it. The writing was okay enough for me to continue and get to the end. I guess it's somewhere between a 1 and a 2.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

#bookreview: Paths of Alir by Melissa McPhail

Paths of AlirPaths of Alir by Melissa McPhail
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To write a good summary of Paths of Alir is almost impossible - so many things happen in this book, with so many separate threads aligning and so many new ones spinning off. When I first opened it on my kindle, I was shocked to see a reading time of 15 hours (which managed to adjust itself downwards to maybe about 9) so I just *had* to go and check out how hefty the tome would be in print. It clocks in at 782 pages as compared to Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archives which stand at about 1,000+ pages each. Not bad. I could knock someone out with this in hardcover.

Giving too much detail in this review would constitute spoilers for Cephrael's Hand and The Dagger of Adendigaeth (though if you're reading this review, you should probably have read the first two), so I'll keep it brief and to the bare minimum (also, there are so many key players now that it's impossible to talk about each of them).
Bjorn van Gelderan's plans are slowly taking shape - his Players are stepping onto the field and changing the game. Together with his sister, Isabel, he continues to move the pieces and guide the players in this intricate, high-stakes King's Game. Losing will only mean the destruction of Alorin and T'khendar.
More rude awakenings await the remaining Vestals and Adepts in Alorin, and Tanis, revealed in The Dagger of Adendigaeth to be more than he seemed, finally finds home - which raises a host of new questions in his quest for his past. Phaedor, of course, is being as evasive as ever.
Of the three val Lorian princes, Ean is coming into his own - his skills, and his memories, are returning in spurts, even as he wrestles between rescuing his brother Sebastian or his loyal men. Under the hands of Taliah hal'Jaitar, Trell's position is only getting worse - will he break under Taliah's torture?

Threaded through the dramatic storytelling, Paths of Alir struggles with this important question, aptly asked by Pelas: "Do you choose your path, or does it choose you?"
It's hard to decide. On one hand, Pelas starts to question the immutability of his nature as a Malorin'athgul and struggles against the compulsion his brother has put on him, Trell continues to strive for honour and dignity in the midst of torture, and Ean and Isabel's paths start to intertwine due to the choices they make. On the other hand, Shail and Darshan still work towards destruction despite evidence that they can change, and Taliah has submitted to her brokenness and darkness by walking the twisted path of mor'alir.

The one slightly negative thing I'd add to this otherwise great review is that Paths of Alir turns much darker than the preceding two books, delving much deeper into torture & humiliation scenes, which may overall feel a little BDSM-ish. It's not very explicit, nor is it gratuitous, but I guess it should be mentioned for those who might not like/appreciate reading these kinds of things (i.e., sorry, not for the kids).

* I received this ebook as a review copy from Novel Publicity.

View all my reviews

Review of Dagger of Adendigaeth here!
Review of Cephrael's hand here!

About the Book - About the Author - Prizes!!!

About the prizes: Who doesn't love prizes? You could win one of two $50 Amazon gift cards or an autographed copy of The Dagger of Adendigaeth! Here's what you need to do...
  1. Enter the Rafflecopter contest
  2. Leave a comment on my blog
That's it! One random commenter during this tour will win the first gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win--the full list of participating bloggers can be found HERE. The other two prizes will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form linked below or on the official Dagger of Adendigaeth tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!

About the book: A Pattern of Shadow & Light Book 2

At long last, the reason for the blessed Adept race’s decline has been discovered: powerful beings known as Malorin’athgul are disrupting the Balance and preventing Alorin’s Adepts from awakening to their gifts. Who are they? Where are they? And how can they be stopped when they wield a power meant to unmake the universe itself?
In T'khendar...Prince Ean val Lorian has forsaken his companions in blood and battle to join the traitorous Fifth Vestal in T’khendar in the hopes of gaining some insight into the tragedies that plagued his Return. Now he must confront the man he's long thought of as his enemy and discover the role he is meant to play in the First Lord’s darkly magnificent game.
The Vestal Raine D’Lacourte has followed his traitorous oath-brother Björn through six kingdoms and into the distant realm of T’khendar seeking explanation and atonement. But the condemned realm harbors shocking secrets, and Raine soon realizes he’s facing his greatest enemy yet—not in Björn, but in the truth.
Elsewhere in Alorin...the young truthreader, Tanis, faces a new villain in the fiery-eyed man he followed from the café in Rethynnea; the soldier Trell struggles to reconcile his growing feelings for the girl he rescued from the river against the guilt of his unknown past; and in Tambarré, another truthreader named Kjieran van Stone treads the incense-filled hallways of the Prophet Bethamin’s temple hoping to uncover a plot of treachery and betrayal before the Prophet demands his soul.
The time has come for each player to claim his role in the First Lord's masterful game. All will be tested, but only time will tell how many can survive the dagger of Adendigaeth.

Get The Dagger of Adendigaeth through Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About the author: Melissa McPhail is a classically trained pianist, violinist and composer, a Vinyasa yoga instructor, and an avid Fantasy reader. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, their twin daughters and two very large cats.

Connect with Melissa on her website, Facebook, Twitter,or GoodReads.
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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

#bookreview: The Dagger of Adendigaeth by Melissa McPhail

The Dagger of AdendigaethThe Dagger of Adendigaeth by Melissa McPhail
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Following from the events of Cephrael's Hand, Melissa McPhail weaves intricate patterns of intrigue and mystery, hope and despair as time and events in Alorin march inexorably on.

In The Dagger of Adendigaeth ("Dagger"), Prince Ean val Lorian throws in his lot with the traitorous Fifth Vestal, Bjorn van Gelderan, positioning himself as a player in the game of Kings. Trell of the Tides is coming to terms with his past and trying to reconcile it with his future. The Fourth Vestal, Raine D'Lacourte, has his own battles to face as many truths, long shrouded in mystery, begin to surface after he plunges into T'khendar in pursuit of his enemy. Tanis, the young truthreader, is also thrown unexpectedly into an adventure of his own when he impulsively follows a stranger with dark thoughts.

McPhail manages to juggle an amazing breadth of events in this one book, interweaving them so simply and yet so intricately that each new revelation leaves you astounded. It's as if the dangling questions you didn't know you had from Cephrael's Hand has been subtly answered - whilst she leaves enough clues that you think you know what will happen next, oftentimes you realise that there was much more to it than you thought.

I could hardly put down Dagger, sacrificing precious sleeping time to be able to read! Looking forward to reading Paths of Alir once I catch up on some sleep.


View all my reviews

Read my review of Cephrael's Hand here.

About the Book - About the Author - Prizes!!!

About the prizes: Who doesn't love prizes? You could win one of two $50 Amazon gift cards or an autographed copy of The Dagger of Adendigaeth! Here's what you need to do...
  1. Enter the Rafflecopter contest
  2. Leave a comment on my blog
That's it! One random commenter during this tour will win the first gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win--the full list of participating bloggers can be found HERE. The other two prizes will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form linked below or on the official Dagger of Adendigaeth tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!

About the book: 

A Pattern of Shadow & Light Book 2 

At long last, the reason for the blessed Adept race’s decline has been discovered: powerful beings known as Malorin’athgul are disrupting the Balance and preventing Alorin’s Adepts from awakening to their gifts. Who are they? Where are they? And how can they be stopped when they wield a power meant to unmake the universe itself?
In T'khendar...Prince Ean val Lorian has forsaken his companions in blood and battle to join the traitorous Fifth Vestal in T’khendar in the hopes of gaining some insight into the tragedies that plagued his Return. Now he must confront the man he's long thought of as his enemy and discover the role he is meant to play in the First Lord’s darkly magnificent game.
The Vestal Raine D’Lacourte has followed his traitorous oath-brother Björn through six kingdoms and into the distant realm of T’khendar seeking explanation and atonement. But the condemned realm harbors shocking secrets, and Raine soon realizes he’s facing his greatest enemy yet—not in Björn, but in the truth.
Elsewhere in Alorin...the young truthreader, Tanis, faces a new villain in the fiery-eyed man he followed from the café in Rethynnea; the soldier Trell struggles to reconcile his growing feelings for the girl he rescued from the river against the guilt of his unknown past; and in Tambarré, another truthreader named Kjieran van Stone treads the incense-filled hallways of the Prophet Bethamin’s temple hoping to uncover a plot of treachery and betrayal before the Prophet demands his soul.
The time has come for each player to claim his role in the First Lord's masterful game. All will be tested, but only time will tell how many can survive the dagger of Adendigaeth.

Get The Dagger of Adendigaeth through Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About the author: 
Melissa McPhail is a classically trained pianist, violinist and composer, a Vinyasa yoga instructor, and an avid Fantasy reader. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, their twin daughters and two very large cats.
Connect with Melissa on her website, Facebook, Twitter,or GoodReads.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Becoming Holy: a continuum.

But you see, holiness is really a continuum.

Yes, we know that we are made righteous through the finished work of Christ, and that His blood has covered  all our sins, making us holy in His eyes. But that's the end game. That's the final judgement. In this life, in this plane of existence, we're not there yet. The Bible says "be holy as He is holy." (I Peter 1: 14 - 16) If we are already holy, that wouldn't be an instruction. It would be a statement: You are holy as He is holy.

It says be. That implies becoming.

It means that we live a continuum between holy and sinful, somewhere between saint and sinner, neither one or the other; both at the same time. Our religious binary says that it cannot be so. It tells us that you can only either be a saint or a sinner, good or bad; you cannot be both.

And yet we are.

Because even as we succeed day by day, we also fail day by day to live up to God's standards and that is the struggle, the battle that we have to live in. At this point of time, in this very second, you could probably say to yourself, "as far as you know, I'm living right. I'm in the perfect will of God." And yet ten years from now, if you're still alive, the likelihood is that you'll probably look back on this very moment and say, "Oh God, how wrong I was! I was such a sinner."

Because we are still becoming. We're on a journey. We are not there yet.

The problem is that we cannot accept this truth. So we turn away people who are struggling more than us, with sins more obvious or "awful" (in our eyes) than ours, saying that they cannot join the club until they've turned away from their sin. Except that the only way they can fully turn away from the sin that plagues them is through the grace of God poured out in their lives and experienced in the body of Christ, where they are given worth.

And there is that excuse, of course: I'm only human. 

Of course you're only human. That's what God made you to be. You'll be susceptible because of the fall. You'll make mistakes. You'll change your mind. You'll fall over and over again. You'll get into messes and blame everyone and everything around you. You'll have raw instincts that move you to aggression and hate and lust. You can always claim, "I was born this way. I don't know any better!"

And yet the truth, oh the beautiful truth of this remains: You are human.

You have a choice. You don't need to give in to your baser instincts, though sometimes you will. You don't need to follow whatever the world tells you you are. Because you are a rational being with free will, and as freely as you can decide to do wrong, or to continue living where you are, you can just as freely decide to live one day better, live one day a little more righteous, live one day with a higher expectation of yourself. And even if you fail on that day, you can decide to live that way again the next day, with the full grace of God covering you, until one day you realise that you've won that battle.

And that is the grace the church needs to extend.

Not a political correctness that says "It's alright to live in sin. We welcome you anyway."
Not a righteousness that says, "We can't accept you because you're gay/you don't live right/we don't like your lifestyle."
Not a permissiveness that says, "Look, come in anyway, and you can do whatever you want in the church."
But a church that looks with love and says, "You know that we hold these standards. We understand that you struggle. Let's struggle together and see if we don't come up on top of it. Because while God is holy, he is also merciful. And the grace and forgiveness He has extended will continue to cover you, even as you come to know Him. And we believe that as you come to know Him more, you will be changed by Him, and your battles will no longer be your demons, but your victory grounds."

Because that is where we all live, regardless of our sin.

In the continuum of sin and holiness.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Happy belated birthday, Francis!

Photo stolen from Yuin's FB

I wanted to write this on Wednesday night and have it scheduled for posting bright and early on Thursday, but what do you know, that didn't happen. Hah. Also, I am too lazy to look for photos. So I stole that off FB.

We haven't talked or met up for the longest time ever; maybe we should soon. I've known you for -what - close to 20 years of my life, during which we've played off each other, from everything between Sunday school class mates, boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, uh.. fairy godfather and uncle/niece (well, technically cousin). Which makes for a rather interesting spectrum, when you think about it.

Here's to the future, and all the exciting things it will bring! May the Lord make your paths straight that you may walk in it with favour and confidence. May He guide your steps that your feet may not stumble; may He bless the works of your hands and the fruit of your lips that you may be a beacon wherever He places you.

Haha, yes this picture again.
Happy 30th, Fran!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Where I've been, where I'm going - an update

I suppose I should give an account of where I've disappeared to.
I decided to take a break after the stupid #30to30 challenge I put myself on. That was an exercise in self-flagellation, I think. Hah.

And then I was trying to complete the script for this year's Christmas that I've been thinking/working on intermittently since April. I'm in scene 3 of 4 and I hate it already so I highly doubt this thing is going to end and/or work. Gah. This weekend will be the last ditch effort (I said that about last weekend) but seriously, if it doesn't end this weekend, I'm giving up.

Mainly because on Sunday, I'll be meeting up with 3 other writers and Yasmin from Penang Women's Development Corporation (PWDC) to talk about a new project - Voices: The realities of women - a programme for this year's George Town Literary Festival (GTLF). SO. That's a new project (short term) on the slate so I won't have time for regrets over a script that isn't working.

I only have a dance for the Nov #215live and a drama workshop coming up in November to worry about AND OH THE STUPID NONSENSE... I just realised my drama workshop is on the same dates as GTLF.

*halp*
meh.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

On the contrary, my dear...

I would like to suggest that you're not lazy.
You're just dragging your heels because you refuse to do what needs to be done. Partially because it would mean that you have to give up some (most) of the ways you enjoy wasting time and partially because it will open you to a whole new level of rejection, dejection and depression.

Because you know that you will never always be good enough.
Because you know that you will never always know what you're doing.
Because you know that you will never get the kind of validation you need because it doesn't exist.
Because you know that you will start hating yourself more and despising your talent more and criticising your work more the more you create, especially the more you can't create.

And you hate that level of insecurity.
You hate that level of inconsistency.
Most of all you hate that you need to change, because change is scary, and unfamiliarity and fear is what makes you insecure.
And you hate that.

So you drag it out over the years, taking one tiny step at a time, always wondering why you never move.
But you have.
And you can't go back.
Yet you refuse to move forward.

So you rant and have panic attacks in the middle of the night, kicking against the establishment whilst complaining that no one supports you and no one understands, and everyone is not where they need to be in an effort to not have panic attacks in the middle of the night because everything is moving too quickly and you're not prepared to GO.

So you say you're lazy.
Because you don't know how to move.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month...

On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Ask the priests about the law: ‘If someone carries holy meat in the fold of his garment and touches with his fold bread or stew or wine or oil or any kind of food, does it become holy?’” The priests answered and said, “No.” Then Haggai said, “If someone who is unclean by contact with a dead body touches any of these, does it become unclean?” The priests answered and said, “It does become unclean.” Then Haggai answered and said, “So is it with this people, and with this nation before me, declares the Lord, and so with every work of their hands. And what they offer there is unclean. Now then, consider from this day onward. Before stone was placed upon stone in the temple of the Lord, how did you fare? When one came to a heap of twenty measures, there were but ten. When one came to the wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were but twenty. I struck you and all the products of your toil with blight and with mildew and with hail, yet you did not turn to me, declares the Lord. Consider from this day onward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month. Since the day that the foundation of the Lord's temple was laid,consider: Is the seed yet in the barn? Indeed, the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have yielded nothing. But from this day on I will bless you.”
The word of the Lord came a second time to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month, “Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I am about to shake the heavens and the earth, and to overthrow the throne of kingdoms. I am about to destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations, and overthrow the chariots and their riders. And the horses and their riders shall go down, every one by the sword of his brother. On that day, declares the Lord of hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant, the son of Shealtiel, declares the Lord, and make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you, declares the Lord of hosts.”
Haggai 2: 10-23 
I've written about this before, probably many times over. The latest one is here
Every year, I feel that it's this year, it's time. 

And then I feel that I have so far yet to go. 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

#30to30: Day 1 - Opening the door to something new

Tomorrow, when I wake up, something will have changed. Actually, I should say tonight, before I go to sleep, something will have changed (since I normally sleep after midnight).

It's probably only going to change in my head, the way I've been thinking about it so much this past few weeks, but it's still a tangible change, in a way.

Tomorrow I leave my twenties behind.

It feels awfully grown up and matured, which I'm not.
It also feels awfully old, which I don't want to be.

And yet it will be the same, because it's just another day that will pass, just as the other 10,957 days have passed by.
Then again, there's significance in numbers, sometimes, so maybe this could be a door to something new.


Monday, 22 September 2014

#30to30: Day 2 - on fitting in

Once, all I wanted was to fit in.
Then, all I wanted was to stand out.
Now, I'm wondering how I can do both.

I want to be recognised for who I am, not who my parents are. (It's annoying how often I still get this) I want to be remembered as an individual, and not as a part of a group. I want to be known as a person, and not just a face.

I want to be valued as me, to find my place and my space where I know that I belong, despite everything. That would be 'fitting in' enough for me.

I don't need the whole world anymore.