the pilgrimage begins

Hello all,

If you are on this site, you are about to look inside my brain.  In my brain are fantasy worlds and worlds just like this one, there are heroes and villains and people just as boring and disturbed as each one of us.  Welcome to my head.

Every week, I’ll give you something else to read; maybe something long, maybe not.  The topics will range from children’s stories to fantasy tales, to more realistic fiction, to fiction that will make you question, if not your sanity, then certainly mine.

Go to the top of the page and click ‘Menu & Widgets’ to navigate the site if you don’t fancy trawling through the entire blog.  The ‘Stories’ page is precisely that, stories written by me.  The posts are arranged alphabetically, and right at the bottom is the option to search by category.

Read, spend some time, relax, shoot me a line.

Peace,

J

i got a feeling

Dear all,

Once again, sorry for the long delay.  I haven’t been doing much writing lately; mostly I have been planning.  I’ve decided this year that I would like to change direction slightly (but only slightly) and so I’m planning on writing one stand-alone YA novel.

Nothing concrete yet but I’m pretty sure it won’t take place on Eormen.  The idea is that it’s a world that has relied on magic until now, but with magic fading away and hideous diseases encroaching, how will the people survive?

I’ve got a really good feeling about this one and I don’t want to ruin it by rushing into it, but I hope to have it finished before the end of the year.  Also, I’m not entirely sure how much of it I can post here, because if this good feeling continues, I’m probably going to show it to a few agents and see if I can get it sold.

As followers, you’ll of course get a few sneaky peekies, as well as updates on the whole process.  Maybe not as often as I’d like, but you’ll get ’em.

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better late than never

I told you I would see you tomorrow, and then you had to wait until the following year to hear from me, and for that I am truly sorry.

I thank you for your patience, and since it is the new year, I’m going to suggest two things:

1. Instead of making a new year’s resolution, why not write a list of things you hope to accomplish?  Resolutions tend to the negative, the restrictive: argue less with my girlfriend; cut back on drinking.  Why not work on making a few of your dreams come true instead?  Argue with your girlfriend somewhere you’ve always dreamed of going, for example. Last year I set myself the challenge of getting a piece published, and damned if I didn’t accomplish it!

2. Read the second half of that piece you started!

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Perhaps he once planned to divorce her, but staying was easier. He doesn’t have to cook or clean or wash his clothes, and she looks up at him with those doleful brown eyes and she’s just so grateful. She stays out of his way so that he can work, and so that their fundamental incompatibility never surfaces.

He’s trying to find the formula for calculating the path of lightning; once he does that, it’s only a matter of time until mankind can control it.

“He’s so close!” says my mother, on the few occasions we speak.

I could tell him he’ll never be able to do it. Lightning only wants one thing, and it twists and writhes until it gets there. The lifespan of a lightning bolt is a constant, desperate, infinitely-complicated struggle. Impossible to calculate.

Humans, now . . . they’re different.

“Why did they have to take my van?” said one gin drinker to me. He’d lost thousands of dollars’ worth of electronics for his business and the strain was ruining his marriage. I could have told him about failsafes: insurance, GPS, and so on; red flashing alarm systems that deter all but the most naïve or reckless criminals. I didn’t, though. I served him his gin and shared his disappointment.

That’s the difference between the path of lightning and the path of a human: humans follow stories. They fall in and they float, waiting for their happy ending, and eventually they look at life – enormous and cold and merciless – and they look at the story they’ve created, and they make a decision.

And it isn’t: ‘I choose life.’

I read a lot of stories. It’s true what they say: there are no new stories left, only rewrites of the classics. Everybody understands that, even if they don’t know it for a fact. I no longer see people coming through my doors. I only see stories, the same stories, repeating forever.

And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that I’m in a story, too.

You know the one: the genius who rejects her calling, who follows her own path, who changes the world on her own terms and finally makes peace with her estranged lover/best friend/brother.

Mother.

Except happy endings don’t happen to you. They all said I was a genius, so why did it take me so long to realise? I’m going to soak up the disappointment of everyone at my bar, and one day it will drown me, and a few sad drinkers will come to my funeral; the end.

My mother was always disappointed in me, and maybe she always will be, but there are pages left to be written. Our story is thirty years old, it’s strong, and the strongest stories suck people away like rip tides and bind them to anchors on foreign beaches. I can’t let that happen.

Maybe I still have the chance to be lightning.

Tell me EXACTLY what you think of it below!

NaNoWriMo is finished

Dear friends, I have a lot to be happy about.

I have finally completed my third novel – twenty-five days too late to be considered a winner of NaNoWriMo, but completed nonetheless.  I consider this one an improvement on the last one (at least it will be when the rewrites are finished.  It’s rubbish at the moment, naturally, but I’m very much in agreement with Mr Hemingway when it comes to first drafts).

The second thing is, of course, Christmas!  I’m a big fan of Christmas, and I would like to wish you a merry one, whether you celebrate it or not.  You will bloody enjoy the last few days of the year and you will have a pleasant and relaxed time with your families, or so help me I will just wish harder.

I have two stories being published next year and I have received my best ever reviews for a competition piece over at Needle In The Hay.

And because I love you all, I’ll let you read that piece.  Good evening and see you tomorrow!

LIGHTNING

My mother was always tremendously disappointed in me. It was the quiet sort, the kind you only notice when there’s nothing to distract you. The world clears, retreats like the ocean – and there it is; there it’s always been: the anchor in the sand.

It weighs you down, disappointment. Makes it difficult to fight back. Disappointed with your job? Shut up and do it; it’s easier than quitting. Disappointed with the way you look? Shut up and have another burger; it’s easier than dieting. It’s disappointing when your hero dies, doubly so when it’s your father.

My mother’s disappointment started when I became a bartender instead of attending university, and didn’t get any better when she married my mathematician stepfather. Meanwhile, I earned enough money to move out and open my own late-night bar. The long nights don’t bother me; geniuses often sleep antisocial hours.

The bus hiccups over ruts in the road as I draw ever nearer to the house where they live. He’s a genius too, and the paper he is writing will change the world – only it hasn’t yet. It’s been nearly thirty years, and if it weren’t for my mother, he would have been deported long ago, and his chance would be gone.

TO BE CONCLUDED

 

 

the traveller

A little someone has written a book of poems about travelling and I think it’s pretty damn cool.

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This is Tiffany Teoh and I bet you’d like to know a little something about her and her poems.

WEBSITE/FACEBOOK/TWITTER/INSTAGRAM

Tiffany is a Malaysian born Chinese, of Peranakan heritage. She was raised in Kuala Lumpur until the age of 17 and proceeded to live in Australia for 8 years until the age of 25. She is currently hitchhiking and traveling around the world with her fiancé and their puppy. For more on Tiffany, visit her website.

About, The Traveller Series:

The series started from a longing to want to travel after hearing all the good and bad tales from long term backpackers.

Every single piece that made it and didn’t make it in this is book has a special place in my heart as they were the beginning of a journey of a memory that never happened, but a longing that was constant.

We all naturally have it in us to wonder and wander, it’s just a matter of allowing it to take you to places.

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I asked Tiffany a few questions about travelling, since she’s such an expert. I wanted to know about the top ten places she would like to go that do not exist!  At least, in the world we like to think of as real.  These are her answers:

1. Atlantis – because an underwater city would be magical without question.

2. Neverland – I had a crush on Peter Pan and his world as a little girl. I used to have dreams of going on adventures with the Lost Boys and hanging with the Indians by night.

3. Wonderland

4. The last rainforest of FernGully

5. The Golden Bridge between Malacca and Gunung Ledang

6. Ariel’s Grotto – Even for  a surface dweller, Ariel’s collections fascinate me and in turn I like to know what fascinates her. We could talk about her collection over tea, or whatever mermaids drink!

7. 1Q84 – though not really a place (it’s a year, but a year that doesn’t exist, so it’s like a place in an alternate timeline), what fascinates me is that the reality there is so similar to our own yet has taken a different path, plus the sky has two moons, would make some romantic night picnics!

8. Isla Sorna – because I wouldn’t mind having some adventures! Plus the very first book I ever borrowed from a library was about dinosaurs. It was in my first year of school.

9. Tortuga – though it’s a real place, I’m referring to Tortuga in the Pirates of the Caribbean setting. Party with the pirates!

10. Hundred Acre Woods – Philosophising and living day to day in the woods with cute animated animals and stuff toys in their cute homes. So much cuddles and warmth to experience everyday!

giveaway

Giveaway:

Click here  or visit Royal James Publishing’s Facebook page to enter to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card and a digital copy of The Traveller Series by Tiffany Teoh.

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saving time, saving effort, getting dumber

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Lots of things going on in the world just at the moment.  Brexit may be old hat now, but it’s still at the forefront of my mind.  Next comes this election victory/travesty – depending on which side of the fence you were on.  The videos are all over social media, showing one side of the story over the other.  My left-leaning social feeds are showing left-leaning videos from my left-leaning friends; elsewhere I’m sure it is reversed, or exaggerated.

Yesterday, if someone had asked me what I thought about the whole thing, I would have found it difficult to answer.  I keep up with the news (just about), but I do it on the way to work, and because I have many different workplaces, I spend a good amount of time on the way to work, and my mind is usually on just that: work.

Formulating political opinions is not high on my to-do list, but through the news I absorb, I am exposed to many other people’s political opinions; some I agree with, some I do not.  Logically speaking, then, I am gradually forming a complete picture and a complete opinion by exposing myself to various sources.

“Where’s the problem?” I hear you ask.

The problem is that these opinions do not help me form one of my own.  The posts I find myself agreeing with – sometimes to my horror – are not always the ones that closely match my ideology.  I find myself nodding along with opinions I have usually opposed, simply because they are well-worded, well-written, simply because the speaker is a seasoned professional.

How much of this is what I really think, and how much of it is a shortcut from an overtaxed brain?  I already have to think about how to pay my bills every month, whether I have to dip into my savings, how to keep my car on the road to get to my jobs that just about pay my rent – I say this not to garner sympathy, but because I believe many of you are in a similar situation.  Where, in all of this, do we have the time and the peace necessary to sit down and develop an informed ideology?

Isn’t it easier to let someone else do it for us, someone whose job revolves around such tasks?  It would certainly give me a lot more time to finish my third* novel.

But I worry.  I worry that letting someone else do the thinking for me is a dangerous road to go down, but perhaps forgiveable if you are taking it knowingly.  To tread that road without realising it, though – surely, that is worse?

I have re-written that last paragraph a few times, switching the arguments one way and the other, and I just don’t know.

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*yes, I am blowing my own trumpet.  Indulge me.

it’s all right; I’ll just do more tomorrow

clock-1461689_1920So, readers, I’ve just finished a full working day plus three and a half thousand words of fiction.  Why would I do this to myself?

Why, NaNoWriMo, of course.  Why else?

But here’s the kicker: I didn’t need to work so hard today.  I doubled my workload because I didn’t work on the novel at all yesterday.  I had two or three hours yesterday morning, but I didn’t use them to write.  I had a spare half-hour during the day, but I didn’t use it to write.  When it got to the evening I was exhausted, though not so exhausted that I couldn’t write.

But I didn’t.  I didn’t write a word.  It was a pincer attack of:
1. late-night energy drain, and:
2. the knowledge that I would have time to catch up today.

And catch up I did, but now I’m just as exhausted as I was yesterday.  Seventeen-hundred words I can do in an hour, but three thousand, four hundred takes exponentially longer.  The focus required to keep typing drains you.

Not only that, but you also have to know exactly where your story is going, because if you don’t know, you have to stop typing to think about it, and slowly the day gets darker and darker . . . I can plan a good part of the 1700 words in my head, but I don’t have enough detailed material in my brain cavity to work 3400 words without stopping for a break several times.

‘Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today.’  They used to tell me that when I was a child, and when I have children I’ll probably tell them the same thing.

Yet after decades on this planet, I can’t follow my own advice . . .

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