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in random words |


Task #17 of 101.1001 is to outline book / story ideas.

Since nano is done this year, it’s worth using some of the momentum for writing and related. I have ideas dating back a long time, yet I never get round to starting, let alone finishing them. It’s not good. As time goes by, I get more ideas and the backlog gets bigger. Definitely not good. Anyway, it’s all in Evernote:

lamplight universe

  • lamplight
  • lamplight follow-up with Kian and Anna in Albania and the Balkans
  • shep (nano 2009)
  • the house on the lake (nano 2013) — indy and pete building indy’s dream house with a green roof

melody universe

  • party planner (nano 2014) — melody is trying to organise a retirement party for her dad and meets restaurant manager samantha
  • melody on church (tight, nano 2005) — sam’s dream of starting her own restaurant becomes embroiled with melody’s strange obsession and sam’s own family weirdness
  • in pieces (nano 2006) — sam’s descent into insanity while melody decides she wants to be a nun, needs a happy ending

healing series

  • short story prequel, robot sheepdog project, how they met
  • short story ghost
  • the actual novel where MC1 goes to oxford to gain closure with joey’s parents and meets MC2 in bath

london stories

  • drive (nano 2011) — minicab driver and missing child
  • tips (nano 2012) — heir hunters at harrow road

work travel

  • work travel go (nano 2015) — tech startup CEO goes undercover at travel destination, meets volunteer
  • how the hosts met — 1990s story of how dee and sm met, why sm needed wheelchair 25yrs later

master will universe (obviously need to change names)

  • days of innocence lost (earth as a short story prequel) — may be expand to novella length?
  • days of innocence returned — 150 years from now, w has been a good vampire, reinventing herself every few decades, enrolling in universities to try to find a cure for cancer. and then t comes back
  • there was a third planned but I can’t remember what it’s about


  • summer into winter — inspired by david harsent’s book
  • bigtown — post apocalypse universe, hacker vs tyrannical dictator
  • magic — need to find the outline
  • 12 races in chicago (nano 2010)
  • spotter — what if the world’s most tragic person invented a time machine to go back to history to eliminate disease, disasters and wars? the world’s population has grown to the point where it is impossible to sustain, and going to the future reveals everyone dies of famine; spotters are sent out to mark people out for elimination or retention, what if a spotter spots the wrong person
  • unmasked — short story, starts in a blind restaurant

in challenges , random words |


Task #15 of 101.1001 is to complete nano 2015. Got to 50k on day 15, but to truly complete means having it validated on the nanosite and getting the winner’s badge. Validation started today, and I validated at 52,219. Scrivener gives me 52,282 and google docs 52,199—there’s always a discreprency when using different tools.

There’s an achievement badge for updating wordcount 30 days in a row, so I’ve been writing a few hundred words a day to keep it going. I’ll try to remember to continue until the 30th. I think badges reset every year so I’m not entirely sure why I’m so keen to get the badge. I suspect it’s OCD, that I can’t bear to have one greyed out badge amongst the entire set.

in challenges , random words |


6297 words | 50345 total

Done. I’m surprised and happy about finishing on day 15. I barely managed the goal 2k during the first week (blue vs red on chart). Once I got some peace and quiet and am mostly over jetlag it got better (blue line growing exponentially). Did a big push today, and the characters helped. Resolved a big conflict and made a lot of progress in the relationship. These are good characters, I quite like them. There is a good crew of side characters too. Originally I didn’t think this story is publishable, now I think there are possibilities.

If novels were 50k in length, I can type in THE END. But they are not, so I’m giving the characters another adventure. A change in location, trying to find a little conflict, developing the relationship further, happy ending. I say this every year, that I’ll try to contine writing until the story is finished vs stopping at 50k, but I never do. Let’s see.

The traditional statistical part of the yay, 50k post:

  • 50,345 words in 15 days = average 3,356 per day
  • highest wordcount day = day 15 at 6,297 words
  • lowest wordcount day = day 03 at 1,305 words — I was surprised I got any words in, that was the day of my flight
  • dares used = 1 — Mr Ian Woon only, didn’t even look at the dares thread
  • total nano years = 11
  • lifetime nano words = 568,301
  • finishing on day 15 is the average finish day
  • quickest finish = 10 days (2004)
  • slowest finish = 23 days (2011)

Validation is from the 20th this year. Oh, remember the book I was reading? I got distracted by #paris news cycle, I finished nano before I finished the book. Wrist pain update: painful from the first day, relieved by wearing brace all day and using the smaller foam roller on hand, wrist and arm.

in challenges , random words |


3633 words | 44048 total

Woke up to the sad news of the tragic terrorist attack in Paris. So awful. Spent the morning glued to the livefeed from the guardian and NYT (they took down the paywall) as well as twitter. Hence no writing got done.

The target was to get to minimum 2000, so am happy that I found more. It’s a day off for the MCs, They started the day with declarations of love (yay!) and then spent the day touring a chocolate factory (yay!) and more kissing. Going okay.

in challenges , random words |


5096 words | 40415 total

For most of the day I had the flat to myself. Distracted with reading and cooking. Just managed to squeak past 5k.

The thing about the middle third of a novel is, there never seems to be enough material to go around. I can’t just have one conflict, one suspicious act, then it all gets resolved straightaway. Have to drag it out, have more discussions, more layers.

Today is also love your ML day. I have friend who was ML for a while, when nano was still small. Don’t know if she’s even involved anymore. #weloveML

in challenges , random words |


5116 words | 35319 total

Some years I’m done by day 12, it’s my highest ranking finish day—4 times in total. Anyway another 5k day is worth feeling good about. I finished the book I was reading and immediately moved to the sequel. It may become a race, finish the book first or finish nano.

And finally at 35k we make a move to act 2. A little intrigue, some suspicious behaviour and look! first kiss. The story and characters are surprising me in how well they are coming together. I shouldn’t jinx anything though.

The next nano event is backup day, which falls on the middle sunday, I think. I hope I’m sufficiently backed up. I’m writing in scrivener, which gets copied every day to google docs and a word doc. The scriv file, the word docs and the xls tracker are saved on the mbp, dropbox and my flashdrive. Basically everything is on the mbp, somewhere in the cloud and on my flashdrive.

in challenges , random words |


5025 words | 30203 total

A 5k day to get to 30k, it’s all good. Which is a relief because I started reading a book last night and: a) it’s a good book; b) I shouldn’t be reading during nano. It acts as a good reward system though—get to x and read a chapter.

For a nano that wasn’t well planned, the pieces are coming together quite nicely. I don’t just write, I do research and look stuff up as I go along. So far, I’ve have information not just on work travel but mapped out the past trips of MC2, who’s been doing this for 9 months. Other research include flight departure & arrival times, art exhibtions at airports, a brewpub beer menu, shower facilities at a beach, the nearest mcdonald’s to an airport, alaskan tribes, ATV riding on sand dunes, sunset times, rice & water proportions to make congee for a layman. I quite like this doing research as I’m writing, in fact I haven’t taken out my handwritten planning sheet yet.

Mr Ian Woon has made his annual appearance. This year, he is an outfitter ATV expert who takes guests from the ranch on four wheeler trips on the sand dunes of southern oregon.

Of course at 30k, my left wrist has been hurting for a few days. Hurting a lot today, I have the brace on almost the entire time.

in challenges , random words |


3958 words | 25178 total

Halfway on day 10. Reasonable progress. I’ll be fine if I finish on the 20th; I hope I can finish earlier.

Chapter 4 is done. MC2 completed her long journey to the destination and MC1 was the volunteer who picked her up from the airport. The sign spelled her name was wrong so they had a humourous introduction. There’s already some mild flirting.

in challenges , random words |


3685 words | 21220 total

I think this is the first full day I’ve stayed in, without going out. I suppose I have to start running again some time. Ah well.

Received some very sad news in the morning, that our friend had passed away. Lots of tributes and heartfelt posts on fb. She would have wanted us to carry on living our lives in full as before.

Took it easy with the writing, didn’t stress myself out too much. Around 1k in the morning, more in the afternoon and another 1k after dinner. Finished chapter 3, MC1 arrived at the destination and met a bunch of side characters. I took time out to create the side characters in scrivener. In chapter 4 it’s MC2’s turn to travel. A longer flight, with 2 layovers. They will meet at the end of the chapter.

in challenges , random words |


2500 words | 17535 total

Went out to Jamie’s Italian for my niece’s birthday lunch, had a mussel pasta that was actually quite bland, the gelato dessert made up for it. Too full for dinner, just had a plum.

Got to an even 2500 words for the day and it’s a good point to stop. Not very often do you get even wordcount like this.

MC1 had breakfast at the airport, then boarded a flight heading west. There was a layover, which added words. It’s an actual flight, I got the details on departure, arrival times, layover times and even layover terminal map. She arrived, got a rental car and found a place to have a late lunch. Everyone is proceeding to the destination slowly.

in challenges , random words |


2022 words | 15035 total

It’s #doubleupday, and we’re encouraged to:

  • double your wordcount or daily goal
  • donate $25 to get $50-level goodies
  • enter into the Grand Prize and hourly prize draws

I didn’t double my daily goal or anything ambitious. Tired today, so utilised an old trick to add wordcount, wrote 1000 words explaining sharing economy. Seeing that MC1 is the CEO of one such startup, it’s not too far off track. In the editing process, information dump (or writersplaining, a sibling to mansplaining) like this will be deleted or dramatically cut.

Anyway, day 7 and I’m at 15k, which looks more impressive when it’s converted to a pie chart. It’s a good achievement considering I spent almost one complete day travelling and the next 4 days jetlagged. But if I’m only at 30k next weekend, I’ll be disappointed.

Just started chapter 3 after 2 lengthy introductory chapters. MC1 is in the process of flying to the destination, hence the discussion about uber vs taxi and airbnb vs hotel. She’s not even at the airport. There will be some more padding about flying tomorrow, hahaha. MC2 isn’t on the same continent, so she needs to find her way there. Not before saying tearful goodbyes with her friends.

in challenges , random words |


1735 words | 13013 total

Tired. Napped in the afternoon, went out with mm to happy hour then quick dinner. The very low expectation goal was 1000 words, glad I got more than 1667 to keep on track.

in challenges , random words |


2253 words | 11278 total

It’s Bonfire Night. Celebrated with a whisky, small one because I’m sleepy. Woke up at 5am, went out to the post office to pick up a registered letter and stopped off at the supermarket to get food. No fridge, so limited in selection. Bought carrots and kale to make carrot soup. The kale came in a big bunch so used the stalk in the soup too which was an improvement in flavour.

Continued with chapter 2, it’s dragging a bit now, but good for nano. Averaging 2256 words after 5 days, extrapolating finish on the 23rd.

in going places , mind babble , random words |


1945 words | 9025 total

Day of the flight. Car’s cousin Mike kindly took me to the airport and I was checked in and through security in no time. Bought a Balvenie triple cask 16 that we first tasted in Heathrow, then bought 4 pork buns at wow bao for lunch. Beer at the bar next to the gate was expensive, $11.

The flight was full, and I got upgraded to premium economy. Here’s the dilemma, which is the better seat: an aisle seat in economy or a middle seat in premium economy? I would have preferred an aisle seat but the lady sitting next to me was nice and slept most of the way. The additional seat width and leg room were good in helping to make 15hrs pass faster.

Disappointed that there wasn’t much to watch, no big action film, no Bake-off and too many old tv programs (Prime Suspect s1, Entourage s1, ugh). Watched Spy (funny, good) and The Hundred-Foot Journey, which was a real gem. An Indian family’s car broke down in the middle of the French countryside and they decided to settle down roots, opening a restaurant directly opposite a Michelin-star establishment. War ensued, but of course it was a happy ending in the end. Helen Mirren was brilliant in this predictable feel good movie, perfect for watching on the plane.

PE had better food. Filet steak and creamy shrimp on rice. I had half a glass of wine, but mainly stuck to coke zero and sparkling water.

Door to door was 20hrs, and I lost most of Wednesday. Got home around 9.30pm, showered and unpacked quickly.

My nano time is based in Chicago so when I woke up at 5am there was enough time to write and assign it to day 4. I wanted to get around 1000 words in, and am pleased that I got almost 2000.

in challenges , random words |


1305 words | 7080 total

My flight is at 2pm so there was time in the morning to get some writing done. It would have been nice to get to the 1667 minimum but I’m pleased at the progress. Chapter 2 introduces MC2, sitting at a bar with a view of a nice bay sunset. I’m not being very creative this year, I’m using locations I’m sure I’ve used before, but these are locations I’m familiar with. If/when this one ever gets moved to the possibly publishable list, then I’ll rewrite.

in random words |


3029 words | 5775 words total

My last full day in Chicago, I’m still home alone. Another brilliant blue sky day that was too good to stay in all day. I continued with the story, getting 1000 words in before heading out. Walked 2 miles to a really nice supermarket, with so many great fruit & veg, meat and other goods I so desperately want to buy. But I can’t. I limited myself to a thin sliced porterhouse, which was on discount. One artichoke and some biscuits for Mum and Gis. The steak, together with leftover kale and two green tomatoes I bought at the Mexican supermarket yesterday, was for lunch.

Packed up both suitcases and tidied up a little. Watched a bit of tv then wrote some more. Made dinner of cornish game hen and artichoke. Watched more tv, writing some more during comercial breaks. Finished chapter 1 after the program finished, MC1 is introduced. The chapter dragged on a bit, isn’t as punchy as a first chapter as I’d like. Quite pleased that I reached 5k on day 2.

in random words |


It was funny to see last night on #nanowrimo people in Australia and Asia already starting. For the next few days I’ll be at the end of the nanoday, before doing back to being at the start. I’ll miss a day or two when I’m on the plane which is okay.

There was also the #moranstrong 5k to run this morning. It was supposed to be yesterday but a) it was raining heavily and b) I had a bad cough. Wrote about 1000 words before setting out.

oldshopsign2015 bbshadow201501

Had lunch then went outside for a walk since it was such a nice day, and such contrast to yesterday. It was about 1 mile to Blue Island “high street” which was mostly closed except for a few eating places, a bakery, two liquor stores, a Mexican supermarket and a few bars. Not a very prospering town centre. The strange thing was that I encountered barely any pedestrians during the walk and back. May be 10. A few people waiting for the bus, a couple of cyclists, two men smoking outside a bar. I guess people simply don’t walk here. Americans are so dependent on their cars.

Came back before 4pm. The clocks changed last night so sunset was earlier. Wrote some more. I’m most proud of the 520k lifetime average. Aiming at 2500 per day.

in random words |


It’s almost nano time again. Year 11. I see many more people signing up, because nano has gone mainstream. I also see many people saying this is the month they will add 50k words to their 30k manuscript. Sigh. Another problem with going maintream. Traditionally, and for purists like me, nano means starting a novel from scratch and getting to 50k words. But no, the faq has been changed:

Traditionally, NaNoWriMo works best when you start a brand-new project. It may be an arbitrary distinction, but we’ve seen that novelists do better (and have more fun) when they’re free from the constraints of existing manuscripts. Give yourself the gift of a clean slate!

That said, we welcome all writers at any stage. Outlines, character sketches, and other planning steps are encouraged. Just be sure to only count words written during the month.


Anyway, I’ll continue to do it the traditional way. This year, I struggled to come up with a theme. And took a long time before I was able to come up with some semblance of a plot. But I finally was able to scribble a pageful of stuff. I may have to resort to more dares than usual.

The setting is based on a review I read on workaway, a sort of airbnb for working holidays. The website matches hosts who need help, for instance at a farm, with volunteers who offer around 5hrs of work a day in exchange for room and board. The comments on the review was that the location was great but the host was disorganised and volunteers were not treated with respect. Got me thinking along the lines of undercover boss meets secret diner. Let’s see at the end of the month if it works.

in random words |

At breakfast we ran into a newbie conference attendee and we had a great chat. She is an experienced reader, runs a reading group, is well travelled and knowledgable about many things. Hopefully will be able to participate more in the organisation. I think I made a new friend.

The first panel I went to was about how to do research when writing about a foreign country and times. The panelists were divided into the method writing camp, who insisted that the only way is to visit the countries involved; and the practical camp, who said that it’s not always possible because of distance, cost and sometimes danger. One writer writes about an invented country, so the method method doesn’t work. I had things to do so didn’t stay for the entire panel.

The next session was an extremely fun one, where well-known authors told a story and we had to vote on whether they were telling the truth or not. We learned that KK may or may not have 19 pairs of shoes; Rach may or may not have sat on the lap of another panelist; KG may or may not have been married to a man; LL may or may not have taken acid and MKM may or may not have ridden on a Harley with a motorcycle gang. This session should be repeated every year.

After lunch I went to a masterclass about the history of our books from the 1920s until now. Great class, delivered professionally and, even though it was in lecture format and a subject I’m neither familiar nor usually interested in, not boring at all. I felt woefully inadequate as I had only read one of the books on the list, and everyone in the class was waxing lyrical about this or that classic that spoke to them.

Next panel was about research. Well moderated and less contentious than the morning’s session about foreign countries. Agreed with the authors that evernote and scrivener is great, as is mindmapping. It’s important to have a balance between information dump and not enough information. It’s also more respectful to the readers to state correct facts, even if they are uncomfortable; than to make mistakes in books.

The membership meeting was next. Opening remarks by the Director was followed by financial reports and updates on awards and the new website. I also received a volunteer award and my 5-year pin. Yay.

nolatemp015mothers nolatemp016mothers

Since I had a meeting, A and I went quickly over to mother’s for dinner. Real southern food in a no-frills setting. We lined up against a counter, gave our order and found seats. The wait staff took our receipt and brought our food. I had baked black ham, the glazed outer crust which is normally the bit that gets the marinade. Very nice. Served with a choice of 3 sides, I had turnip greens, green beans & tomato and red beans & rice. It’s never going to win any prize for presentation but it’s honest, simple food. The fried shrimp and oysters and seafood looked good. I hope I have another chance to try before I leave.

in random words , techtalk |


This is the first year I’ve used scrivener for nano. They’ve offered nano winners 50% off for a few years now, and I took advantage a few years ago. I ported LL over to scrivener, and that’s where I’ve been editing since. It was just a matter of switching from google docs, which I now use for backup.

Scrivener is a fantastic app, some say it’s the best dedicated writing tool on the market.


Lots to like:

  • clean interface — I can even hide the file structure on the left and have a full page view, even with the navigation, i have most of my screen to type in
  • hierarchichal container structure — instead of one flat file or multiple files like in traditional word processors, the scrivener file structure is a dream to work with and navigate, it’s easy to go to any chapter and any section, and to move sections too
  • character and place profiles — brilliant to create backstory and to remember features
  • research — write notes, clip webpages, import diagrams
  • word count at a glance — the entire manuscript, selected chapters and sections
  • name generator — this is fun, and is particularly great during nano, to take the headache out of thinking of names
  • compile — no need to worry about formatting and front matter like table of content
  • export — exports to all sorts of formats like rtf, doc, pdf, epub

And all this in one global file and one workspace. No need to toggle between tabs and apps. There are features I don’t use, like the corkboard view, colour scheme or split screen. I hide the inspector and don’t use it to its full advantage. I don’t use project targets. I’m sure there are features I’m not even aware of.


The biggest complaint is that it’s not mobile. The app is still stuck in the web 1.0 era: it sits on the mba and the global file is only saved on the mba. Although I can install the app on different computers, I can’t just open it wherever I like and be synced to where I was. I have to backup to dropbox and remember to save back to dropbox when I finish. It can import webpages, but pales in comparison to Evernote in terms of clipping and ability to store and organise research articles.

Since the promised iOS version has been delayed and delayed and delayed, other apps have come to the market. The most prominent is storyist, which is 50% off for nano winners and is similar in look-and-feel to scrivener. Another one I recently came across is novlr, which is web-based, like google docs. Then of course it’s possible to use evernote as a writing tool, even though its text editing feature isn’t very good.

I may give storyist a try, if the 50% discount extends to the ios version. The fact is, scrivener is too good at its job for me to jump ship, I’ll live with using it on the mba and wait patiently for the ios app.

note: I came across an interesting article from a scrivener user that makes a point I hadn’t realised. It’s great for writing, but if you’re lucky enough to find a publisher, edits are done in Word, using the awful, awful track changes tool. Hmm. My copy of Word is 2003 (yes, really) although I suppose I can use Open/LibreOffice. We’re back to web 1.0 flat file eras. Ah well, moot point.

in 101.1001 , challenges , random words |


Task #14 of 101.1001 is to complete nano 2014. It’s one of those tasks I put in there because I knew I’d get it done. It’s not me trying to show off or anything, the fact is that I’ve finished all the nanos I’ve started, so the odds are very good.

I’m very pleased they opened up validation on the 20th this year, I think it’s the earliest they’ve done so. Actually I don’t see why validation isn’t available on day 01, since there are people who challenge themselves get to 50k in one day, and the validation code surely hasn’t changed in years.


Anyway, I validated at 60k words, but actually only 57k was written in november. I could have deleted the pre-nano words when I copied over to validate, but I couldn’t be bothered. Details, details. I got to 50k on day 12, which is pretty good. (My average finish is day 15.) Since day 12, I’ve slowly written a few hundred words a day. I’m not sure if I’ll finish it now, or leave it till later. It’s not a bad story.

in challenges , random words |


3050 words 50081 total

Another year, another nano finished. The story isn’t done, let’s see if I have the interest and motivation to finish it this month. I may be able to carry on this year, I’m not tired of the story yet. There’s a good 10-15k left, and if I can stretch it out to 20k, it brings me to 73k overall and a good length. Even though there is A LOT of editing and probably deleting needed. That’s the point of a first draft.

in challenges , random words |


3254 words | 47031 total

I spent most of the day frustrated. In the morning, firefox updated to v33.1, and then decided not to load all google sites. This meant no search, no google maps and no google docs (plus no gmail, no youtube—it’s amazing how we rely on google). Important because the next chapter was about the MCs going on a road trip and I need to look at distances, routes and sights. I tried skipping to the next chapter but I find that I can’t write out of order. I was pretty mad.

I’m extremely glad I’m writing on scrivener and not google docs this year.

I was able to get search working by using, and I google maps worked perfectly fine on the ipad. The problem was solved after dinner by deleting all google cookies, clearing the cache and restarting the mba. I should have thought of it earlier but it never occurred to me that updating firefox would screw things up like this. Not sure what happened.

Yes, even though it would have been good to push to get to 50k, it doesn’t matter. 3000 words needed tomorrow, I’m relaxed.

in challenges , random words |


3374 words 43777 total

Today is my niece’s birthday. We went for dinner at the crêpe restaurant near their home, her choice. I was busy in the afternoon, and we left early to go to the market beforehand. Great dinner, good food. I had buckwheat crêpe with ham, egg, emmental, roquefort and salad, we had a couple of large bottles of cider. Little one was very happy with her presents.

In terms of nano, today was a short day. 3000-odd words is not bad. I’m not in any hurry because, touch wood, there is no way I won’t make 50k. Let’s see how I feel, whether I want to finish the novel or finish at 50k.

I incorporated one of the dares:

have your characters get involved in a food fight
BP: if it takes place in a place you wouldn’t expect a food fight
DBP: if it takes more than 1667 words to describe
TBP: if it’s important to the plot

So MC2 got fired because she called her boss on him taking money from the restaurant’s bank account. Although ultimately all profits go to him, as the owner, it wasn’t the right thing to do. So her best friend decided to hold a food fight party to cheer her up. That satisfies the dare.

BP: best friend’s family owns a swimming pool supply and maintenance business. The food fight party took place there, they had pools and gardens set up on display so it was easy to clean up.

DBP: the entire section of party planning, the actual party, the fight and the après fight party was 4568 words; the part dealing specifically with fight prep (had to prepare all the food), actual fight and declaration of winner was 2089 words

TBP: was it important to the plot? The entire story is going from party to party, as the MCs’ relationship strengthens. This food fight party was to transition between MC2 getting fired and the next section, of them going on a road trip. I guess it’s important to the plot.

in challenges , random words |


5000 words | 40403 total

No one sets out deliberately to write exactly 5000 words in a day, and neither did I. When I came to an appropriate stopping point at the end of today’s writing—the end of a section—I saw that I had 4999 words. So it was easy to add a single word to the last paragraph bringing me to exactly 5000. I’m now at 40k for nano, 80% done. Not bad.

Today is Remembrance Sunday. I was delighted to see I could get a poppy the other day when mm and I had lunch at the Marriott. There are still some isolated pockets of Britishness left, it’s one of the unspoken aims of #occupyhk, to retain the heritage. One of my favourite quotes for Remembrance Sunday is from Laurence Binyon’s poem For the Fallen, which was first published in The Times in September 1914:

At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them

I can’t incorporate Remembrance Day into my story, since it’s set in Nashville and my characters are too young. I did have them have a discussion about Memorial Day menu in the restaurant where MC2 works. I could have written a poppy in, but it would have felt forced.

Coming up: a food fight party and a surprise party for MC1. The entire story has been written from MC1’s pov so I guess the trick is to establish the surprise party without her knowing about it and then having the surprise element.

in challenges , random words |


5369 words | 35403 total

What is surprising is I’m 35k (actual total 39k) in and I’m not hating the story. There’s enough to story to write on, and my MCs have only been together 4 months. May be I’ll bring them to 6 months together, or 1 year. Find other events and parties. End on a high note.

Today is what the nanofolks call #doubleupday. They want us to double our daily wordcount target, double the time we write, and in return they will double the rewards for donation. Since my A goal is 2000 words, I’ve been doubling up almost every day. I’ve done 10k days before; but with my wrist in this condition, it’s not something I particularly want to do these days.

Anyway, the first saturday or sunday is usually back up your novel day. I make sure I have backups. I’m writing in Scrivener for the first time this year, the .scrv file is copied to dropbox and the flashdrive every night. I also copy what I’ve written to both google docs and Word every night, the .doc is copied to dropbox and flashdrive. So basically there are copies on the mba, google docs, dropbox and flashdrive. That’s more than doubling up, right?

in challenges , random words |

The Collywobbles
flickr / ministryofstories under CC

4458 words | 30034 total

I got to 30k. Looking at last year, 30k was on day 8 so I’m one day ahead. One of these days I’ll do a chart comparing daily progress of all 10 nanos. That’d be a busy chart, heh.

All but about 300 words written today was for one chapter. And I had the MCs spend the entire chapter making lunch. Cooking, discussing about cooking, tasting and eating. At the beginning of nano, Carleen posted as one of her words of the day the word collywobbles, and the word made me laugh so much that I said I’d include it as a challenge. So here is the passage:

Melody settled on her usual seat against the open counter and watched as Samantha marinated chicken in a soy, honey, mirin and ginger sauce, then checked a pot of simmering mushroom broth to which she added a tablespoon of miso paste. On her chopping board were diced onions and crushed garlic.

“Asian styled chicken?” Melody asked.

Samantha sighed. “I wish.” She picked up a packet of arborio rice and shook it at Melody. “Lenny challenged us to a cook-off. He and Rich wanted to add deep fried teriyaki chicken with a miso and mushroom flavored risotto to the menu.”

Melody made a distasteful face. “Gives me collywobbles just thinking about it.”

“Collywobbles, that’s perfect. May be we can name the dish fried chicken collywobbles with risotto,” Samantha said.

This is also the point in the story that I feel as if I’m repeating myself. I keep having those déjà vu impressions that I wrote the risotto cooking scene already in another nano, but I can’t remember which one because I don’t re-read them. May be it is time to re-read and edit some of them.

in challenges , random words |


3658 words | 25576 total

Had lunch with mm at the marriott lounge — salad, noodles, curry, a little pasta, dessert. She had a 50% off card she borrowed from a friend so we took our time and sampled as much of the food as we liked. Afterwards we walked around occupyhk main site, it’s the first time she visited. Still lots of tents and more artwork. We came across an origami station and a display table with umbrellas, pikachu and giant duckies. Very cute.

Got home at 7pm, so with futzing around and shower, writing started at 9pm. Two hours and 15 later, I got to 25k. Halfway in 6 days, that’s about right, looking at the past few years.

This is the point when the story gets a little rambling, some of what I wrote will definitely need to be either rewritten, moved or deleted altogether. I’m not bothered, it is what it is. The point is wordcount, nothing else. Heh, I’m not only preaching to the converted, I’m preaching to myself.

in challenges , random words |


3607 words | 21918 total

Happy Guy Fawkes!!

No fireworks, and I have more than 8335 words. At almost 22k for nano it’s pretty good for day 5. Also, I know I’m only counting nano words, but overall the novel is at 25k, which is a nice landmark to reach.

Most of the latest chapter was at Vegas where the MCs’ best friend and sister eloped to get married. It’s sort of a portend to what may happen to our MCs, somewhere down the line. Their friend is stinking rich, so they got the best suite, superstar service and had a 5-star wedding banquet (as much as a meal for 4 can be a banquet).

Oh, and Mr Ian Woon showed up. He was the officiant at the wedding.

in challenges , random words |


3239 words | 18311 total

Went running and then a little bit of shopping at the market. Barely hit 1000 before dinner. I noticed I’m too distracted during the day and most of my writing is done for around 2-3hrs at night. Decided to finish early today, before 11pm. Want to read a bit.

A fb conversation led me to post about my tracking spreadsheet. I didn’t make it, someone shared on the nano forums a few years ago (I just went to look at the original, it was 2009, back when it was called a report card). I’ve used this every year, changing the dates at the beginning of each nano. There are other versions floating around. I fixed some of the charting idiosyncracies so people using it won’t have to manually adjust. So far, about half a dozen people have asked for it. Good stuff.

in challenges , random words |


5064 words | 15072 total

Another 5k day, good stuff. MC1’s best friend gets introduced and there’s another party. This one wasn’t as successful as the previous one, ending pretty much in disaster and tension all around. I was reading nano2005 yesterday to get a sense of how these character feel about each other, and I wanted to foreshadow the tension. The sequel takes place 13 years after this, but first impressions are so important.

I also managed to, gasp, write a 300 word sex scene. The last few years sex scenes have taken the form [insert sex scene here] so I’m quite pleased I got this one in. I remember one of the most important writing lesson of show-not-tell, and I was afraid that I wasn’t showing my MCs more in love. Hence the little sex scene.

in challenges , random words |


5880 words | 10008 total

Yay, 10k in 2 days.

Started in the afternoon, took a while to hit the 1667 mark, but once I got over a small hump, it was fairly smooth sailing. I got to the end point of the short story, with MC1’s planned party successfully completed. Trying to add some more background and family interactions. There is a bunch of side characters (both MC’s best friends, MC2’s family and sakura festival people) still to be introduced and of course more parties to be planned.

The wrist is…okay. Need to wear the brace whenever I type.

in random words |


4128 words

Another year, another nano. I’m writing PP this year, and starting the wordcount at 3604. Reached 7732 today, so nano wordcount is 4128. Going forward, I’ll just report nano wordcount.

I’m sort of an old hand at this, hahaha I have no excuse. This is my 10th nano. I’m still smarting over missing 2007, but I have to get over it one of these days. For the past few years I’ve adopted a relaxed approach:

  • basic: 1667 words
  • BP: 2000-2500 words
  • DBP: 2500-5000 words
  • TBP: anything over 5000 words

It’s worth remembering:


Anyway, I’m on chapter 4, the MCs have already met, stalked each other, had the beginnings of getting-to-know-you conversations, kissed and faced a family emergency. I’m around 2/3rd of the way through the original short story, so I haven’t padded it out too much. The plan is to go into the party in question in more detail, then expand from the short story to other events and parties.

In terms of wrist pain, this will be a tough year. I injured my left wrist I think when I was doing weights. It’s the same left wrist that gets RSI during nano, so it has been occasionally painful the last month or so already. Something is visibly swollen, I don’t know what it is. I’ll just have to push through and wear the brace more often.

in 101.1001 , challenges , random words |


Task #13 of 101.1001 is to read Mythology for Dummies. This is one of the incomplete tasks carried over from the 2007 list.

I didn’t have an arts education. Although I read steadily as a kid, it was fiction or those big general knowledge books. I knew about various myths but never paid much attention to them, and certainly never remembered much or was able to associate mythology references in books I read.

There are a lot of books on mythology. A lot of general, beginner, summary type of books. The dummies series seem to tackle subjects in a casual manner. The tone of the writing was definitely on the silly side, with chapter titles like “Snow, Ice, and Not Very Nice: Norse Deities.” Almost 1/3 of the book was devoted to Greeks and Romans. Extremely superficial coverage of European, Middle Eastern, Eastern and American mythology. Some of the sections were more description of religions than mythology.

It was an easy read, and I like that the authors didn’t try to make mythology sound mystical or serious. May be too light-hearted in places. What did I learn? Mythology around the world and along history was remarkably similar. Some version of a god or gods creating the universe, some gods bigger and older than others. Lots of murder, jealousy, incest and illogical behaviour. They married each other (sometimes at the same time), bred like rabbits, had a tendency to fight or kill each other off for no good reason, then are consumed with remorse.

I was interested in the Greeks but lost interest in the Romans. Had a hard time keeping track of the names and relationships. Nordic mythology was interesting, as was the legend of King Arthur and his Knights at the Round table. Too brief on the rest. I guess a book I’ll keep around for reference if and when I need it.

in challenges , random words |


Task #26 of 30in30 is to write 1000 words for PP.

I said I wanted to build up some momentum for PP, so I made myself sit down in the afternoon to get 1000 words. Start wordcount=2472, finish wordcount=3604 so actual words written=1132.

The story is set in Franklin TN. Here’s when I wish I still lived in Chicago. It’s about 8hrs to drive there, so research in person is feasible. Lots also to do in nearby Nashville. Important things happen during the cherry blossom festival in April. MC1’s dad worked at Nissan and they even offer factory tours. Plus of course, the bourbon trail distilleries are on the way from Chicago to Nashville.

in challenges , random words |


Task #25 of 30in30 is to outline this year’s nano.

Original plan was to write spotter this year, but I don’t feel like it, mainly because I’m having too much fun with it in my head and writing it down will take the fun away. In any case I want to get some momentum going for party planner, so I’m going to tackle PP this year. And since it’s already outlined, I’m sort of cheating on the task, but whatever. I’ll call it auto-completed.

I’m also cheating on nano because there’s about 2,000 words already written. Technically, nano is supposed to be writing 50k words from scratch. But hey, I’ve been doing nano enough years to know that it’s the spirit of writing 50k new words that count and it’s about time I joined the nano rebels group for a year. I just did a calculation and this will be my 10th nano.

in random words |

crossposted to medium as Getting the World to Read.


Today, Monday 8 September, is International Literacy Day. The day has been celebrated since 1966, after the World Conference of Ministers on the Eradication of Illiteracy adopted the view that literacy is a means for development and an integral part of the development process.

To mark International Literacy Day, there are events in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chile, New Zealand, Rwanda and other countries celebrating and promoting literacy. The big UNESCO event at Dhaka has two parts. First, a conference on the 2014 theme of “Literacy and Sustainable Development” with special emphasis on Girls’ and Women’s Literacy and Education; second, prizes will be given out for outstanding performance and innovative practices in literacy.

Former Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, wrote about 15 countries that have joined together to become Learning Champions to focus on improving literacy and numeracy in the world’s poorest countries. The first country to launch the initiative was Kenya, with countries in South America, Asia and the Middle East to follow.

It is well accepted that increased literacy leads to better quality of life, improved health and economic success. To that end, it is one of the most important aspect of humanity. From UNESCO:

Literacy is a human right, a tool of personal empowerment and a means for social and human development. Educational opportunities depend on literacy.

Literacy is at the heart of basic education for all, and essential for eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, curbing population growth, achieving gender equality and ensuring sustainable development, peace and democracy.

The numbers [pdf] are staggering, and staggeringly desparate:

  • 16% of the world’s population are illiterate
  • 64% of illiterate adults are female
  • 61% of illiterate youths are female
  • 171 million people will be out of poverty if they had basic reading skills
  • 15% fewer child deaths if the mother had primary education

There are numerous initiatives aiming to help and improve literacy — IBBY, the World Literacy Foundation, Room to Read and World Reader are just a few examples of organisations and programs doing various things in the area of literacy and education.

Although there have been progress, such as primary school enrollment reaching 90% in developing countries (as of 2010), there are concerns about the quality of education in all, even developed countries. In the UK, as reported by The Guardian:

One in six adults in Britain now has a literacy level below that expected of an 11-year-old

The most commonly read material by children is text messages.

Text messages.

srsly? SMH.



I can’t imagine not being able to read. The earliest books I remember reading was a children’s weekly magazine that had short stories and cartoons. At school one lesson a week was going to the school library and borrowing a book to read. I read abridged biographies of composers, that was my interest area when I was about 7. Growing up, I devoured Enid Blynton, the Hardy Boys (didn’t like Nancy Drew that much) before moving onto classic science fiction and fantasy. Even now as an adult I love paranormal adventures and mystery thrillers. Romances are my guilty pleasure.

As part of a 1001 day challenge I have been keeping track of my reading and I’ve read over 90 books in 9 months. My most recent book was a funny paranormal adventure with a sarcastic and annoying main character who happened to be Death’s daughter. Very engaging read, and I would love for more people to read the book. I would assume that everyone I tell about the book will have the ability to read it; whether they choose to, that’s another matter.

Today I went grocery shopping and there are so many things I take for granted because I can read. Bus numbers and destinations, road signs, shop names, product names, prices, even the doorcode to get back home. All assume an ability to recognise words and numbers. Imagine only relying memory to know which road to take, or only recognising items by colour or size, or not even knowing how to write my name. It’s unimaginable.


What can we do to help global literacy? I don’t know. I know it’s a problem, but not until today when I looked into International Literacy Day more carefully did I realise how severe the issue is. I bought one of the One Laptop per Child laptops because they said for each one bought, they’d donate one to a child. I hope it helped a child somewhere.

There are so many charities and causes vying for our attention nowadays, global literacy needs is its equivalent to the ALS ice bucket challenge. May be we can challenge someone to read a book and donate $1 or donate $100 to a reading charity. Or may be we can start small:

  • give a book as a gift and include a note about literacy is so important
  • get involved in reading / literacy charities — start by going through a useful list of 150+ such charities
  • donate our used books — to the library, to a school, to a local organisation. Some charities collect used books for developing countries, some sell books with profits going to literacy causes
  • support, donate to our local libraries
  • spread the word

I don’t know what I can do aside from becoming better informed and writing about it. I know I should get more involved in charitable giving and may be it’s time I did more. i know reading and writing are topics dear to me. And on that note, I’m off to read another book.

in random words |


Bought 16 books. Between a discount code and a gift certificate, total out-of-pocket was around $100 meaning I averaged $6.25 per book. The majority were full priced although there were a couple of novellas at lower price. Still, $6.25 per book, that’s a Mcdonald’s meal.

I actually could have reduced the spending if I used up all the balance on my gift certificate. One of the things I work very hard to overcome is not saving the last piece of something. It seems to be human nature, that the last chocolate was the best. May be it’s the freshest on our minds, or somehow we perceive that because there won’t be more, it must be preserved and saved. Mum a good example, there are many many single pieces of chocolate, cereal bar, snacks wrapped up in her fridge: almost always the last piece remaining. I’m trying to stop myself doing that as part of a general trend towards minimising clutter. I’ve also been burned — “best” pieces that I’ve saved to enjoy later have a tendency to spoil.

I tend to spend around $50 a month on books, and since I hadn’t done a big order since May, I feel good about the big order today. My aim is to slowly use up the gift certificate balance, may be $10 or so each month. This way, the certificate lasts longer and I can work in any sale or incentive available. This is apparently a savvy way to spend gift cards:

Get the most bang out of a gift card by spending it on already-reduced merchandise

I think I’m doing better at the not!hoarding business. Every time I’m tempted to save the last piece, I remind myself of the chocolate crickets [warning: insect pic] from Wittamer I was saving up but had to throw away because they got mouldy. Every time I buy something, I think about where it will go and how often I will use it. I will use up every $ on the gift certificate. I don’t want to add to the $44bn in unused gift cards sitting out there (okay, I won’t be adding to that because I’m not American, but imagine the global figure).

in random words , techtalk |


Yet more people on my twitter and facebook feeds telling the world about their new blog. SMH. And most of them are WRITERS. I wish they’d learn the difference between blog and blog post. grrrrr.

Stop. Take a deep breath. Remember what SB&T has been teaching.

Let it be.

Alright. Do something else. What shall I blog about today? How about using random topic generator. As one blogger described it,

a tool for bloggers utterly devoid of inspiration and internal thought process

Good one. Sometimes though, I do find myself utterly devoid of inspiration and internal thought process. The most exciting I did in the last 24hrs was I cooked pork chops and okra for dinner. I could write about that, I suppose. How to pan-fry okra without them going slimey. Except I’ve done that already. Or that I made a packet of instant grits, added too much water and had to use up another packet. Note to self: add instant grits to US shopping list.

So, back to random topic generator. Not sure how random it is, or how many topics it has in its database. It splits topics into 12 categories, so let’s try a few of them.

in random words |


I’m trying to continue with the momentum I’ve built up for PP and have been busy doing research online. The story is set within the Japanese community in Tennessee — Nissan and Toyota are two of the biggest employers in that region. I’ve bookmarked corporate websites, the local Japan-American society, newspaper articles, and even the nashville cherry blossom festival. I also came across an interesting book, Japanese Industry in the American South which is, according the its blurb:

an anthropological case study that describes whole industrial cultures found in three Japanese industrial plants in the American South. This book searches for answers to these questions: Why are Japanese industries coming to the American South? To what extent does Japan industrial management in the American South replicate the industrial relations model used in the home plants in Japan? What are the reactions of Americans toward the Japanese expatriates? At the same time, the book looks at the profound impact that the Japanese have had on Southerners.

Just reading the first few pages piqued my interest already. And then I looked at the price. $48 for the paperback and $39 for the kindle version. Seriously?! Yes, I recognise it’s an academic book, and someone had devoted much time and effort into researching and writing the book. But the way academic publishers artificially inflate the prices of their books is increasingly seen as out of date and even stupid.

However much I want to support all writers by buying their books, I’m refusing to pay exorbitant prices for an almost 20 year old book. Luckily there are many second hand options, so for around $5 including shipping I should be able to get my hands on a copy.

p.s. no, it’s not in the library system.

in challenges , random words |


Task #23 of 30 in 30 is to finish the outline for PP. Working title Party Planner, this is supposed to be the next writing project since LL is finished (again) and a few people have very kindly offered to help beta read it.

PP is already a short story so the challenge is to expand and build from 4,000 words to 70-80k. I wrote it for a challenge a while ago and I think it was Carleen who said I could make it into a full length story. It’s a sort of prequel to nano 2005, which in turn is a sort of prequel to nano 2006, so some of the characters and situations have to tie in. It’s good because I can foreshadow. How many people have books 2 and 3 in draft form when they start working on book 1?

Outline is surprisingly not complicated, just a series of people relationships. The story progression is pretty straightforward too. I wonder if there is enough material for a full length story. We’ll see.

in challenges , random words |


Task #25 in 30 in 30 is to find an appropriate font for the cover of LL.

I have some ideas for the cover, currently evolving around a faint background of grids and the title displayed like a stock ticker. Not yet at the stage where I can put it together in photoshop. I went looking for some LED display fonts that are free for personal and commercial use. Just tried them out in yellow against a green background.

From top: TPF, ride the fader, bazaronite, krungthep, TRS million, repetition. Not sure if any one of them scream out to me, I guess I won’t know until I actually attempt to put the cover together. Right now they all look like some sort of theatre / circus announcement and not ‘financial’ enough.

in challenges , random words |


Task #26 in 30 in 30 is to read a new author. The author is Sandra Moran and the book is Letters Never Sent.

For some reason I didn’t manage to speak with Sandra at Dallas last year, although I obviously saw her and took this pic. I was running around too much and too focused on getting pics I guess. I certainly hope she will be at Portland this year. I found out that we both run, so hopefully we have something in common to talk about.

One of the first things Carleen told me to do after the con was to get Sandra’s book and read it. Part of it was set in Chicago against the backdrop of the World’s Fair; she told me how realistic the description was and how I would recognise the street names, buildings and the atmosphere of Chicago in the 1930s. She also said (and read her review) that it’s a must read book and I always listen to her recommendations.

Here’s the blurb:

Three women, united by love and kinship, struggle to conform to the social norms of the times in which they lived.

In 1931, Katherine Henderson leaves behind her small town in Kansas and the marriage proposal of a local boy to live on her own and work at the Sears & Roebuck glove counter in Chicago. There she meets Annie—a bold, outspoken feminist who challenges Katherine’s idea of who she thinks she is and what she thinks she wants in life.

In 1997, Katherine’s daughter, Joan, travels to Lawrence, Kansas, to clean out her estranged mother’s house. Hidden away in an old suitcase, she finds a wooden box containing trinkets and a packet of sealed letters to a person identified only by a first initial.

Joan reads the unsent letters and discovers a woman completely different from the aloof and unyielding mother of her youth-a woman who had loved deeply and lost that love to circumstances beyond her control. Now she just has to find the strength to use the healing power of empathy and forgiveness to live the life she’s always wanted to live.

I usually pick thrillers or paranormal stories before ones that have historical elements, mainly because I’m not that interested in history. That said, I thought the way the book weaved between the 1930s and 1990s was done brilliantly. I loved that the 1930s wasn’t written as flashback, or as told by a storyteller in the 1990s. There were more details and we learned more about the characters and interactions of the older MCs, Katherine and Annie. And then we come back to the 1990s and we see how the daughter, Joan, was affected by the story of her mother. I also loved how the story unfolded, there was so much depth that it was a delight as each layer was revealed.

So often, we get characters who are tall, dark and impossibly beautiful, who are CEOs in their twenties, live in huge mansions and can walk on water while juggling. Ugh. We don’t get this in this book. America in the 1930s was economically and socially a very different time from now, and the hardships and social pressures were depicted realistically. Some of the actions and decisions made by the characters weren’t stellar either, and that makes them so real and so compelling to read.

There was a twist at the end of the story but I figured it out quite early — very shortly after Joan arrived at her mother’s house. The middle part of the book I wasn’t quite sure I’d gotten it right, and I was so happy when it turned out to be true. (I’m trying to be vague and non-spoliery here). I wasn’t obsessed with the clue though, I was busy being caught up with the story itself.

I have a couple of small criticisms. There was a mention of London Times, just in passing. It’s one of my pet peeves because there is no such paper. Secondly, there were two tiny, minute geographical inaccuracies about Chicago that only someone who is OCD will notice. Or perhaps streets were different in the 1930s and therefore I am wrong. Sometimes I get caught up with these small things and I end up not liking or even finishing the book, but it wasn’t the case here.

It’s a testament to the quality of the writing that I finished it, and immediately scrolled back to the beginning to read it again. It’s one of those books that stay on your mind long after you finish, and you can’t help but think about the characters or the setting or a particular scene.

in 101.1001 , challenges , random words |


Task #11 in 101 in 1001 is to read a book in one day. Something I have done quite often. Not one of the Potter books I’d just finished, especially the later ones. Of course, one of these classics would have been okay.

I had the pleasure of meeting Gerri Hill last summer at Dallas; and I’ve read many, if not all, of her 20+ books. Her newest is Weeping Walls which has the same MCs as a previous book, Keeper of the Cave. It’s something she has done several times before, using the same characters or bringing back characters as side characters. It works, because these are good characters.

This book is somewhere in between a mystery, paranormal adventure and romance. The FBI team works well, the 4 agents have distinctive personalities and their interactions are realistic. Also it’s great not to have superhero characters, one of the characters is afraid of ghosts and the others also have their hangups and shortcomings. We don’t need heroes who can fly, walk on water, write prize-winning novels and knit a scarf at the same time.

The case the agents are investigating is a missing person that links to cold cases and involves a haunted house. The paranormal aspect was unexpected, although after the prior book, I should have known. It wasn’t rammed down my throat, and I appreciated not being scared shitless — I don’t read horror stories and there’s a reason why.

The romance is not about two people meeting and falling in love. They did this the other book. This is about what happens after the initial falling in love, and there is skill in writing this stage of a relationship.

I read Keeper of the Cave over a 24hr period too (started late on one day and finished the next). When it comes to sequels I like to read the entire series from the start, and I didn’t mind re-reading. Weeping Walls is a solid, great read. If there is another book with the same set of characters I look forward to reading it again.

in 101.1001 , challenges , random words |


Task #12 of 101 in 1001 challenge is one carried over from the previous round.

I got up to Order of the Phoenix when it came out. It wasn’t my favourite, it felt like it was the Empire Strikes Back of the Potter series with endless exposition of Grimmauld Place, stupid Dolores Umbridge, grumpy Sirius and teenage angst with all the hookups and jealousy. The Dumbledore’s Army arc was great, so that was a silver lining.

I dutifully bought books 6 and 7 when they came out, but then sort of lost interest so they’ve been sitting on my bookshelf following me around the world for years. I saw all the films of course, so I knew what was going on.

It was time to finally finish reading the series. It seems like some sort of cultural heresy that I hadn’t. So I started with Philosopher’s Stone, and the magic came back. Yay! Hard to pick a favourite, I’m going say Deathly Hallows and Goblet of Fire. Despite all the despair and trudging around the country searching for horcruxes, DH was extremely well written. Plus, Neville! Easily my favourite character outside the three. Goblet of Fire I loved the whole idea of the Triwizard tournament, and it was IMO when Harry started growing up. Shame about Cedric, I hadn’t expected it when I first read it, was still sad upon re-read. A strange tidbit is that Mum’s copy of Goblet of Fire is an American version (all mine and all her others are UK) so it was odd to read about people running toward something and all the other American spelling. Didn’t really fit with such a British book and set of characters.

The great thing about reading the books now is that I don’t have to rush to find out what happens at the end. And hats off to the filmmakers, the casting was so spot on that I can picture very clearly all the characters and scenes while I’m reading. Made it very, very enjoyable. In fact, I might re-read the whole series again in a while.

in challenges , random words |


The nanosite is always very generous, google docs and word both counted 50365 but the site validated at 50370. Fantastic. I get the usual winner’s certificate and a bunch of images. In the past the images were random square or horizontal or vertical banners. This year their sizes are targeted towards appropriate social media sites so there are ready-made fb, twitter etc images. I’ll keep my avatar till the end of the month, unless I’m feeling particularly obnoxious I won’t change my profile pic.

I’ll see how the next year goes, whether I have time to write Spotter. I should finish LL as a priority so Spotter will likely be nano 2014. This is the earliest I’ve ever planned and outlined a nanonovel.

in challenges , random words |


Wordcount validation starts every year on the 25th, so I was looking at the nanonovel for the first time in almost 2 weeks. Played around with tag clouds. It’s quite obvious the story is about 2 characters called Indy and Pete, and about building a house. Cool stuff, the website has a random button that changes font, layout and colour. I had a fun 10 minutes randomising.

in challenges , random words |


4350 words | 50365 words total

Done it. 50k in 12 days, good stuff. Second fastest nano, the 3rd time I’ve done it in 12 days. 10 days in 2004 is safely tucked away as the fastest and unlikely to change. In stealth mode too, aside from my online friends and mm, my RL friends and family don’t know about nano and didn’t know I was doing it. It’s not something they are either interested in or are bothered about.

The next part of the story brought them to a wedding. Since one of my MCs was an ex-banker I went back to LL and inserted her in as a very minor character. This wedding was between my LL MCs, so it was an opportunity to bring back some old characters. Fun. After that I had about 1,300 words to 50k and it was either write something simple and easy or start another chapter. I opted for enjoying a soak in the bath and then a small accident the next day at the site. Nothing serious, cuts and bruises.

I’m not sure I’ll continue with this story for the rest of the month. I should spend spare time finishing said LL, that task is years overdue.

Anyway, good timing for reaching 50k. Lots going on the next 7-10 days.

in challenges , random words |


5888 words | 46015 words total

Had the morning and almost the whole afternoon to write, and got to the end of chapter 10, which sees the relationship between the MCs develop in a good way. The roof lining, windows and doors have been fitted, so the house is sealed and protected from the elements. Lots more to do, finish the exterior walls, finish the deck and porch, plant the roof plus all the interior work.

I have (I don’t want to jinx myself but it seems feasible) one more day of writing to reach 50k. The story is only about halfway at 50k so it depends if I have time or motivation to carry on. I’ll see when I get to the finish line.

This evening was dinner to celebrate my niece’s birthday. Went to a dumplings place because she saw these chocolate dumplings in a magazine and wanted to try. They were very good, like chocolate fondant with the melted chocolate oozing out when I made a hole. A good choice.

in challenges , random words |


3764 words | 40127 words total

Alright, I sort of cheated. I knew I was going out on sunday, so I finished at around 8pm on saturday, saved all the files, submitted my wordcount and filed it all under day 9. Then I wrote some more so I can bank some words for day 10. All in all, 9000 words for the weekend and does it really matter I wrote 7k on saturday and 2k on sunday vs 5.5 on saturday and 3.5 on sunday? It’s just so psychologically the daily wordcount chart looks prettier. I’ve missed whole days before.

The point is, I got to 40k. 80% done.

So at 40k in a romance, it’s time for the first sex scene between the MCs. I don’t write sex scenes during nano, only

[insert sex scene here]

and later

[another sex scene]

When / if this story is edited, I’ll work on those scenes. Oh joy (not).

Anyway, they had a great weekend, visited the art museum, saw some new architecture, had some good food, and spent a lot of time in bed getting to know each other. It’s now the end of chapter 9 and they’re back home. Complaining a little because they have to spend the night apart back at their respective homes to run errands — laundry and sorting through bills and stuff like that. But there is a promise of being together back at work on the site and also nights to come.

In some books, and stuff I’ve written, when things go so well something angsty happens that the MCs have to overcome so their relationship gets back on track and becomes even stronger as we near the end of the book. This story I don’t feel like putting up roadblocks to ruin their relationship. Not the huge ones like being disowned by family or an abusive ex showing up or a natural disaster, may be a elating to the construction or a minor injury.

So, where did I go today? Went over to mm’s, our plan had been to drive out to a new spot at the country park and go hiking. Had to postpone due to bad weather. Instead we stayed at her place and watched bbc lifestyle, drank a whole bottle of prosecco and polished off a whole bag of prawn chips. Nice afternoon. I was home by 8.30pm.

in challenges , random words |


5428 words | 36363 words total

A boring kind of day reading, watching tv, writing. It’s also nano marathon day:

Join us on Saturday, November 9 for day-long noveling madness in person and online, and donate to help us reach our $50K goal. Keep NaNoWriMo running the course for years to come! All the glory of a traditional marathon, none of that pesky training. Just you, your novel, and a deep and abiding love of helping others discover the joy of writing.

I can’t go to an in-person event obviously, but I did follow on twitter for a bit. I’m at 5.4k for the day and 36k total just after dinner. Good point to save everything. I’m using writely (aka google drive), saving to word and the doc is also saved on my flashdrive and this year there’s the additional backup at dropbox.

In terms of the story we’re now at chapter 8. The rest of the roadtrip passed by uneventfully. “Mostly roadkill” as one of the MC described it. They checked into their hotel (one room, two beds) and visited the green roof supplier whose name was, ta-da, Mr Ian Woon. Lots of opportunities for exposition about types of green roofs, growing medium and what vegetation to use. Then it was onto dinner at an Italian restaurant, drinks at a nearby pub and at the end of the section they were asleep wrapped in each other’s arms. Awwww.

in being healthy , challenges , random words |


4307 words | 30935 words total

5.10km 40.47min 8.00min/km (12.52min/mi)

The 5k is going over to the small park and running around the jogging track, the football field and the basketball court. I sprinted the last 200m to try to get the pace down below 8, got it to 8min exactly, need to run faster.

The 30k is getting to the 30k mark in nano. I said I was gonna do it yesterday at 26k, and I did it. I’m using well-used nano tricks — road trip, dream sequence and talking to yourself. We’re now at the beginning of chapter 7, and they just started driving. The dream sequence, which included a nice intimate distraction, and the talking to yourself both occurred in the car. There’s the whole night and a long way to go. Who knows what will happen next.

I’m getting into the story, the MCs are growing on me. They also made me laugh in this exchange. Indy and Pete (Petra) are the MCs, Anders is Pete’s brother and Indy’s architect. When edited, the clunky language, the “she said” will all be edited out. This is nano, only wordcount matters.

“Who says I’m having a house warming party?” Indy challenged.

“Oh, you’ll want to. You’ll definitely want to. How else will you get to meet The Great Anderski,” Pete said tantalizingly.

“The Great Anderski?” Indy felt stupid, repeating what Pete said. The Great Anderski sounded like—

“The Great Anderski hails from coldest Siberia and is the greatest magician that has ever come out of the great country of Russia,” Pete said dramatically, rolling the r of Russia. “Or, well, Anders when you’ve fed him a couple of glasses of vodka.”

“That sounds like enormous fun. I’ll make sure I have a house warming party, with casserole and vodka,” Indy said. “Do you become someone after you’ve had a couple of glasses of vodka? The Great Anderski’s sexy assistant Petralicious?”

in challenges , random words |


3308 words | 26628 words total

Happy about my 2 achievements today. I finished a deck consisting of the case design, case outline and background material and sent them to the professor. I hope that if I get the chance to write more cases, it’ll take me less than a week to complete this first step. Then again mm was so encouraging, she said that a week is good progress regardless of whether it’s my first time or not. She looked through my previous draft and liked it, even though I completely rewrote it for the final draft.

Achievement #2 is getting to the halfway mark on nano. At this rate, according to the nanosite, I’ll finish on 14 November. Depending on how much time I can spend on it this weekend, it may or may not be the right date. In any event, I’m at or about where I’m comfortable. I think the past 3-4 years I’ve settled into a routine. My official goal is still 2000 words, but I’m able to hit 3000 so it’s working for me. Tomorrow I’ll aim at hitting 30k.

Chapter 6 is finished. Work started on the frame for the roof — a strong lattice of plywood is needed in addition to the steel wall frames to support the soil and turf. I rewatched the Grand Designs episode this is based on, and the soil and turf isn’t as heavy as I thought — they also use a thick layer of wood as the base for the roof so I’m on track. The personal story gets better, they have an unexpected and unexpectedly sweet first kiss and are about to hit the road on their road trip.

in challenges , eating and drinking , random words |


3236 words | 23,320 words total

Had a nice lunch with mm, at our usual happy hour place. The first time we’d had lunch there. I got there early, because they didn’t take reservations, and got us a good window seat. Carrot and lemongrass soup, roast rump of lamb with cous cous and ratatouille, lemon meringue pie. The portions were not that large, well suited for lunch.

Stopped off at the supermarket, then had to wait a long time for the bus. Half the afternoon had gone by the time I got home. Sorted some of the papers I needed to read then got started with nano.

Finished chapter 5 at a good place, the MCs got to know each other better over dinner. Chapter 6 is about putting up the roof frame and going to a supplier to pick out what plants to go on the roof. I know one of the rules of nano is no editing, but I realised that with soil, plants and water the roof will need a huge amount of extra reinforcement and support I had to go back to add a steel frame to the wall frames — can’t have just 2x4s and OSB supporting all that.

I also placed the supplier at a place 12 hrs’ drive away. A road trip is on the horizon.

in challenges , random words , workstuff |

3675 words | 20084 words total

I signed and sent back a service agreement and spent almost the whole day researching. Because I’ve now been hired as a researcher for the business school at the local university to research and write a case study abot a large conglomerate. The service agreement is per case, so I don’t know if there will be any more after this. The morning was spent looking for background information on the company and the afternoon writing the case synopsis. It’s slow-going. I’ve never written an MBA case study before and I find I have to think about what to write and how to write it. I’m only halfway through the case synopsis.

So after 5-6hrs of internet searching, clicking around and typing what did I do for the rest of the day? I typed some more. Wrote a bit before dinner, had dinner, showered then wrote some more. It’s great to reach another milestone, 20k in 5 days is pretty good. I’m now on chapter 5 and they are putting the walls up on the house. I learned about the difference between plywood and OSB (which I typed out fully as oriented strand board every time — 3 words vs 1 word, it’s a cardinal nano rule), that 16” on center is the standard spacing between 2x4s in the frame, and the importance of studs in giving support for large windows. Paradoxically, although the walls of the house are going up, the personal walls between the MCs are starting to break down, they actually went for dinner together after work. That’s the writing for tomorrow, to write the dinner conversation and interactions.

Oh, and Happy Guy Fawkes Night!! Since nano and bonfire night will always overlap, I thought I’d combine the two and make an avatar.

in challenges , random words , techtalk |


3549 words | 16409 words total

Most of the afternoon was spent looking for and buying a printer. After speaking with the salesperson and getting information about how much ink cartridges cost, eventually I got an HP 5520 over an HP Envy 4500. Seems that over time the running costs are lower, we’ll see. Around US$110, but with credit card points and a supermarket voucher gift, the actual amount spent was around $85. I did have to spend over 2 hrs setting it up. Had to download the drivers and work with Mum’s slow internet. Repeat for her laptop. Stupid HP, installation was easier on Mum’s windows machine and there are still glitches when scanning to my mba.

What with Monday night being a busy TV night (Deadliest Catch, TAR and there used to be MKR), I tried to fit in nano whenever I can. Happy with the wordcount today.

I should add titles to my chapters, corresponding to where they are in terms of house building. If chapter 3 was the first meeting between the MCs, then chapter 4 is tearing out the defective floor frame and starting fresh. Things are going pretty well with the house, but the MCs haven’t moved beyond the sort of awkward formality of people who have just met.

in challenges , random words |


6067 words | 12860 words total

Five, six thousand words on a Sunday that I stayed home all day is okay. I’m pleased that it’s only taken 3 days to pass the 10k mark. Not completely liking the story so far, too much exposition. It’s kind of turning into a step by step guide to how to build your house. But I need all the filler I can incorporate because I haven’t planned on a drawn out story between the MCs. At least they have met and begun to build (pun not intended) a tentative working relationship. They are circling each other, trying to get their professional interactions on the right track, no wonder after all the set backs that our homeowner had to suffer through. Personal interactions will develop out of this hopefully.

in challenges , random words |


3676 words | 6823 words total

Started at 4.30pm, with distractions and other stuff, finished at 8.30pm. Still working on backstory. First chapter is done at 4000-ish words. Now comes the first obstacle, there is a danger the house won’t get built or there will be a long delay. Setting up for the MCs to meet, may be at the beginning of chapter 3.

In other news, I need to look for a printer.

in challenges , random words |


3147 words

It’s November, which means it’s nano time again. I see all these people on fb and social media telling their friends about nano and how they’re gonna do it or how they can’t / won’t / don’t know how to do it and I want to shake my head and ask them “have you been doing nano since 2004? Where were you November 2004? Stop talking about it like it’s the newest thing that you just discovered and are now imparting your discovery to the world.”

And then I read about these people who have already written x words and want to add 50k words to their novel, or people who want to write 50k as blog posts or a play or a technical manual, or people who want to edit 50k of their manuscript and I want to tell them that nano is defined as writing a 50k+ word novel in 30 days from scratch. These people are writing, congratulations to them, but they are not doing nano.

And then these people on the forums who have already reached 50k — there are always people who get there in a day and there are always others who cry “cheater” — I tend to give them the benefit of doubt. Then I remember, yet again, that nano is all about achieving my own goal and I’m not competing against anyone and I shouldn’t give a shit what others are doing, whether they are nano-ing or whether they have low IQ and dont get nano or whether they cheat.


I had a meeting this morning, so I didn’t start until mid-afternoon. The experience from the past couple of years is to set a reasonable daily target of 2000 words instead of 5000 words. At 3000-odd I’m partway through the first chapter, which is mostly backstory; in a finished novel it’ll probably get heavily edited or rewritten elsewhere, but it’s fine where it is right now.

I’m also sticking with the outlined novel about building an eco house by a lake. This has not been the story in my head lately, the other story is about a parallel world where some time travel element has eradicated all wars and disasters in the past thousand years. Supposedly good, but the world population has grown to a point where there is not enough food and water. Drastic measures are being taken by the ruling governments where the plan is to create a catastrophic event to eliminate most of the population. Spotters are sent out all over the world to mark those to be eliminated first. The personal story is about a spotter who accidentally marks someone she is attracted to and their struggle with a big brother system to try to overcome that. Anyway, it’s an outline for another time. Need to focus on green roofs, larch cladding, an idealistic homeowner and a by-the-book contractor. Sparks need to fly!

in habitat , random words |

This year’s nano is inspired by a Grand Designs episode that featured two women who built a beautiful, eco-friendly, grass-roofed, larch-cladded house on the Isle of Skye. Grand Designs, for those unfamiliar, is a UK tv program that follows home building projects. While that description seems bland and boring, it is quite the opposite. Most of the homes featured are unusual, thoughtful and frankly covet-worthy.

This is one of my favourite episodes because this one was all about following and realising a dream. From a young age, one of the owners have dreamed of having her own house with a grass roof, and this is the story of how she achieved that. The episode is also about compromise, and living within one’s means. The resultant house isn’t grand: it’s only 90m2, with one bedroom and an end window that would have been spectacular if it were higher. There’s a wistful and sort of inspriing quote that comes out of this:

better to have a small amount of something you love than to have too much of something you don’t need

I also found another inspiration recently, of a young couple who build a glass house from recycled windows. It’s a peaceful, fantastic house with another story about another couple. Theirs is also about a dream, but also about creativity and finding a particular way of life.

The practical side of me questions these designs. Do houses with grass or flower roofs really work? Won’t they flood or collapse? A house with top to bottom windows sounds so precarious, surely it can’t withstand heavy rain or strong winds?

But that’s me. If everyone were like me, these projects would never have seen the light of day.

I’m almost done outlining the story. The MC inherited some land and a dilapidated hut/cabin. She wants to build her ideal house, but has to balance between her past life and lifestyle with her idealistic view of her future life. The second MC has already achieved her ideal orderly life, and she doesn’t need creativity or dreams, or so she thinks. Hopefully I can come up with some good interactions and character development. Still have to do some research into the logistics of house building, find info about where to set the story and decide on the supporting cast. The house itself will be a character in the story too, since its growth is so intricately tied to the growth of the MCs. It’s almost like I can name chapters based on each stage of the process.

in going places , random words |


Starbucks breakfast of sausage sandwich again. On the program today: keynote speech, membership meeting and more sessions. It was an emotional meeting, our ED announced she was stepping down after having done a brilliant job in turning around the organisation. The silent auction ended at lunch, with lots of donations like books, photos, paintings and souvenirs. I brought a selection of “unfortunately named Japanese chocolate” like collon and melty kisses.

By the afternoon I was getting irritatble and tired. Running around the sessions and being alert constantly whilst jetlagged was quite taxing. Plus a couple of people had been a little rude. They probably didn’t realise we weren’t professionals and not exactly being paid for this. We gave up our time, and our opportunity to attend sessions to help out. I only managed during the whole con to attend one full session, the others I only caught a snippet. So I took a rest in the main room.

Ha! Rad comes in and I had to get to work again. Sigh.

Dinner with A at iHOP. I had chicken and waffles and a salad. And the root beer float I wanted from In-N-Out. All in all, too much fast food.

Highlight of the con was the awards ceremony. I was allowed to go inside the closed stage area early to set up the tripod and camera. Turned out to be a good spot, I caught a few winners as they came off the stage and got them grinning happily. So happy for them.

After a few pictures at the dance, I declared myself off duty. Not much of a dancer, besides no one asked, heehee. Left at 11pm, well before the best bits.

in going places , random words |


Breakfast was from Starbucks opposite the hotel. Needed the energy for the running around today. Special speaker, author auction, author autographs as well as all the sessions. The author auction brought in over $8,000 for the scholarship fund, with 3 authors going for $1,000 (the top bid was $1,050). Needed the early afternoon rest and early dinner of steak at Humperdinks.

Karoke night theme was western so there were many hats, boots and costumes. Singing and dancing. And photography. And whisky. Adrian brought a bottle of Glenfiddich and I brought small bottles of Yamazaki and Hibiki. We were happily drinking away when the hotel intervened and told us off. Guess they only wanted us to buy from their bar. We put the whiskies away in a bag.

I was pretty wiped out with all the running around. Stayed for the traditional “I Feel Pretty” tribute and left before the end. Was going to shower and sleep but ran into a problem reading my CF card. Panic stations. After an hour, of poking into the card reader with my swiss knife and restarting the mba, it was fixed. Phew. We’re up to 4,500 pics between us so far.

in going places , random words |


The proper start of the conference. Welcome from the Executive Director, welcome to the newbies, then lots of sessions. Very organised — track 1 was master classes, usually with 2 parts; track 2 was panel discussions and track 3 chats and readings. A and I decided that we’d both try to go to all sessions to get maximum chance of getting good pictures. The one challenge was that tracks 1 and 3 were at lobby level but track 2 was up at the top floor. Lots of riding up and down on the lift.

Honestly, I couldn’t remember which sessions were which. Some I stayed longer, some I just stayed long enough to take enough pictures. Lunch was included, sandwich buffet, chips and dessert. Soft drinks were plentiful and constantly in supply.

There were more sessions in the afternoon. I skipped one because I met up with Adrian for our whisky exchange. I got a VAT 69 at DXB and she got me a Blanton’s. We ended up opening the VAT 69, teehee. I love my Blanton’s.


Dinner was at Sue Ellen’s, a small party hosted by Allison and Ro. Had barbeque with lots of sides. Really nice, I went for seconds. I was pretty tired when we got back to the hotel, in bed by 9.30pm.

in random words |


Was up till 3am last night reading, and spent most of today reading too. Jane Fletcher’s Lyremouth series. Probably the 3rd or 4th time I’ve read the books but I still like them. Just broke off for half an hour’s swimming, food and then tv in the evening.

in outside interests , random words |


Registered for the 2013 GCLS conference, which will take place at the end of June in Dallas. Got the early bird x2 ticket with A. Getting flights will be more of a challenge, so I need to start researching earlier. This will be my 5th con, I think. But I won’t get my 5 year anniversary badge because I forgot to renew one time so I had to restart a few months later. Ah well. It’s a great conference, and I’m looking forward to readings, lectures and the annual catch up with friends. Not to mention visitingTexas again and may be this time I’ll shell out for that $200 cowboy hat.

They have a silent auction at the conference, and this year’s chocolate shoe went down very well. Not sure how to top that next year, I wonder if I can get my hands on some strange Japanese candy. Failing that, there’s always melty kisses, the winter special editions are hitting the shelves now.

in challenges , random words |


Validated at 50,758 words. Winner’s goodies collected. Another purple year.

in challenges , random words |


3,579 words | 50,755 words total

My 8th nano is done. At the rate I’m going, this particular novel will reach 100k, there is still quite a long way to go with the story. The missing friend has been found, having been in a car accident somewhere up north. Our MCs go visit, and more intrigue is revealed. Once they get back home, the friend’s son gets into trouble, and MC1’s status as anti-terrorism sleeper agent is put at risk, as is her budding relationship with MC2, because of the need to keep undercover. But I’ll stop here, if I have the inclination to write, I should work on the LL rewrite rather than continue with this story. There are many other stories ahead of it in the queue.

I think I may have hit upon a nano-winning method. I’ve learned to write filler. Lots of it. The words add up when I use descriptions and spend a chapter or so on backstory. Bear in mind that I’m not a descriptive writer, and my method of advancing the story is usually dialogue — short dialogue — it’s not very natural. A large chunk of these 50k words will not pass the first read through test, so a 100k first draft is reasonable, expecting 10-20k to be cut.

I’ve also learned that having a smaller 2,000 word daily target as opposed to tough 5,000 words is better, and I don’t get too stressed. So I don’t finish on the 10th, it’s not the end of the world. Carving out a 2 hour block in the evening is good discipline too.

There’s hope for me. I may become a real writer one of these days.

in challenges , random words |


1,295 words | 47,176 words total

Was out from 6am to almost 11pm, went with parents to a large airshow. It was interesting, except that it took a good 5-6hrs each way to get there. Parachutists, biplanes, space rockets, tanks, commercial planes, various aero acrobatic displays, and more. Tired, tired, tired.

But I didn’t want to log a zero words day, so I sat and wrote the beginning of chapter 10. Time to get some police resources moving on finding the missing friend.

in challenges , random words |


3,300 words | 45,881 words total

Chapter 9 is done, and it’s loosely the end of Act 1 — setting the scene. After the burrito breakfast, it’s time to get back to work. A couple of developments bring the story to the next act. The missing friend’s son (the prime suspect in her disappearance) suddenly re-appears but is resistant to questioning. Then I throw in a clue about why he might have taken her away — it’s all to do with money and a race to identify beneficiaries to an inheritance. It’s always money isn’t it.

Today my left wrist starts to hurt really badly. Every year it’s the same. Every year I complain. Too much typing and my left wrist protests. Well, not long to go now, so the left wrist just has to grin and bear it.

in challenges , random words |


3,524 words | 42,581 words total

The start of chapter 9 brings the morning after the night before. But fear not, all is good and there is no awkwardness which again speaks to the chemistry between the two MCs. They wake up, chat comfortably, get themselves organised logistically, and enjoy a cooked breakfast together. This is a relationship that doesn’t seem to have angst or conflict. Yet.

And on day 15, more than 40,000 words in, Mr Ian Woon finally makes an entrance. He is mentioned as an instructor specialising in teaching Mexican food in a cookery school.

in challenges , random words |


2,275 words | 39,057 words total

Two thousand odd words in 1.5hrs isn’t bad, especially considering we’ve come to the love scene part of the story. I’m glad that our two MCs have good chemistry and are able to communicate easily, taking away a lot of the first time awkwarness. The scene wasn’t hard to write per se, all I can say is that I used to be much better at it. Lack of practice.

in challenges , random words |


4,045 words | 36,782 words total

I wrote over 4,000 words today. That’s really good. They’ve now gone to the police about the disappearance, and there’s nothing else to do tonight. Oh, except to go talk to MC2 and get to know her better. Here’s the romantic part of romantic mystery.

in challenges , random words |


2,513 words | 32,737 words total

Continuing at my rather leisurely pace. Chapter 7 which is mostly background, is finished. A whopping 7,972 words. That must surely be a record. Now that the MC has seen what the son did to her friend, it’s time to involve the local police. Meanwhile, the MC’s romantic interest, our second MC, has appeared but up to now is still a secondary character, albeit one on whom our MC has a gigantic crush.

in challenges , random words |


2,014 words | 30,224 words total

The first few years I did nano, I wrote and wrote and pushed myself furiously. 2004, 2005, 2006 I was done by the 10th or latest the 15th. Last year when I finished on the 23rd was the longest I’ve taken for a nano. This year, I’m deliberately slow. I wrote 2,000-odd words this morning, and even though I could have gone further than the 30,000 total, I took it easy. 2,000 words a day isn’t to be scoffed at, it’s just a lot less than my usual nano speed. However, I think this is more realistic and I imagine more like how real writers write. (If any real writers are reading this, and write more than 2,000 words a day, feel free to chastise me for being presumptuous.)

I’m still working on the backstory bit. It’s now the turn of the son of the MC’s friend who has gone missing. His point of view, what went through his mind, what brought him to that point where he did what he did.

in challenges , random words |


2,148 words | 28,210 words total

My niece’s birthday today. We went to an indoor skiing place, where the slope operated like a conveyor belt. I tried both snowboarding and skiing. Very strange experience. Absolutely nothing like a real slope. And I’m out of practice.

In terms of nano, I did my writing in the morning before I left. Got my soft daily target of 2,000 words. I’ve detoured a bit, started writing some background. Our MC was watching some CCTV surveillance tape, so I wrote what she saw from her POV (the story is in first person) then I wrote the backstory of what actually happened. Things are getting interesting for our MC, who is trying to search for a friend who has disappeared. The surveillance tape showed the missing friend meeting her son at a cafe, having a heated discussion and then he grabbed her and dragged her away.

in challenges , random words |


2,728 words | 26,062 words total

Chapter 6 is finished, at a whopping 5,606 words. Made some headway into chapter 7 too. The massive chapter 6 helped push me past the halfway mark. Nice.

in challenges , random words |


2,066 words | 23,334 words total

I was going out for after work drinks with mm, so I did my writing in the morning, bookending lunchtime and hitting my target of 2,000 words for today. It’s going pretty well. I’m dragging out the action and including a lot more trivial stuff and description and repeating dialogue than usual. Still working on chapter 5.

in challenges , random words |


2,543 words | 21,268 words total

Spent the morning watching the results of the US election start to come in, quite exciting. Had to leave to go to SZ to pick up my other 3 lights. Bless my parents, they came with me and between the 3 of us we managed to get the bulky boxes on the train back home. By the time we got on the train we saw that President Obama had won re-election. It’s a good thing. I trawled the news sites for articles to get updated.

The custom is I write after dinner. Today I finished at 10pm. And here is the state of play after a week. Pretty much on track with plenty of story left. It’s good.

in challenges , random words |


3,382 words | 18,725 words total

Got my first light, the ceiling light for the living room, and lugged it by myself up to the flat. It wasn’t heavy, just a big bulky box. Came down to the office to see mm and worked out where we should go for a short break. Had a glass of rioja with her also, at the place nearby that had cheap HH prices.

Becoming a habit now, start writing after dinner. I gave myself the target of 17k words, then I can watch tv or read or play a game, but I didn’t need the reward, I just carried on writing. Chapter 5 is done. It helped that this chapter has more dialogue than the previous ones. Boy I’m a rambling fool this year. If I ever revisit this novel, I need serious serious editing. But then, that’s the point of nano. I remember not being very keen on last year’s, but reading it a bit before I started this year made me realise there’s some potential if I ever get round to working on it. May be in a year’s time I’ll feel the same about this one. Ah well, no judgment until 50k words.

in challenges , random words |


2,675 words | 15,343 words total

I had to go order the living room lights, go to the flat to check out the progress of the windows, and wait for the gas people to deliver the hob. Then went to Ikea to look at narrow shelves for the kitchen.

TAR was on at 10pm so that left after dinner and after TAR. Managed to hit 15,000 before the start of the show, so that’s where I’m leaving it for the day.

in challenges , random words |


5,083 words | 12,668 words total

Didn’t go out today. Hit 10,000 words mid-afternoon which meant I had a little reward of playing on the wii for a bit. Just tennis and baseball, nothing special. The rest were written after dinner. Chapter 3 is finished and I’m about halfway through chapter 4. Narrative is all over the place, but I’m doing a good job padding. Not feeling too stressed, I can continue writing for another hour or so, but I’m done for the day. A 5,000-word day and 12,000 words total, those are good milestones.

in challenges , random words |


2,522 words | 7,585 words total

Went with my parents to SZ to order lights for my flat, we went mid-morning, had lunch, went to the shop, walked around some other shops, had dinner and took the train back. The end result is, I only got started after 9pm.

2,500-ish words in 2 hours, not too bad. Very rambling though. We’re at the end of chapter 2 and barely into the scene setting. I had one character ask my MC a question, then had the MC think about her response to the question for a couple of paragraphs before she actually replied. So, thoughts and dialogue were almost exactly the same. Good old nano tricks.

in challenges , random words |

2,756 words | 5,063 total

Had to get up early to go over to the flat. Spent almost 5 hours there, waiting for deliveries: oven, air-con, extractor. Since there’s no furniture, I had to either stand, walk around, or sit on the floor. Brought the kindle so I wasn’t bored. Could have brought the mba to write, was too tired, so decided against it.

Home by 5pm. Chatted to mm, played a little. Settled down to write at around 7pm. Got distracted by dinner (big bowl of fruit) and parents coming back from their days out. Target was to reach 5,000 words, and it’s done.

in challenges , random words |


2,307 words

I had lunch and dinner plans and was out all day, so it didn’t leave a lot of time. Luckily I didn’t need to leave for lunch until 11.45am, so I did my best to fit in a couple of hours in the morning. Happy about the good start.

in challenges , random words |


November tomorrow. Time for nano. I’m as ready as I can be, considering. After 8 years, I know what prep I need:

  • story outlined — this year there’s even a drawing!
  • spreadsheet updated for 2012
  • google doc ready and saved
  • flashdrive for backup at hand
  • new icons uploaded

Not making any predictions or target. Relax and enjoy it, that’s my motto for this year.

in random words , techtalk |


I’m thinking of buying Ian McEwan’s latest book, Sweet Tooth, a layered intrigue set in 1972 during the cold war.

I do a little comparison, amazon uk £8.09 ($12.99) and amazon us $13.99. Even without the small price difference, I want the UK edition because I prefer the cover and I’d like to read it in the English it was written (I’m assuming it gets “translated” to US English). There’s just a couple of tiny problems:

  • my kindle is registered to my US account, so it will automatically go to
  • won’t let me buy kindle books if I’m outside the UK

It’s not just amazon, WH Smith, kobo and ebook all sell a DRM epub version (just ignore the dirty word DRM), all impose geo restrictions, I guess by IP address. What if I were travelling, does it mean I have to wait till I get home to buy? What a ridiculous concept.

The twist is that amazon lets me buy the paper book from anywhere in the world but not the ebook. Apparently it’s due to contractual agreements. This post talks about Australia but is a good illustration. It’s also from 2010 and hints that things are changing. Riiiiight. It’s now 2012, isn’t it time for country boundaries in the electronic world to go away?

I’ve spent enough time on this today, there are other things vying for my attention. I’ll read another book (from an international-reader-friendly publisher/seller — thanks Bella!) or I’ll play bad piggies or whatsapp mm. It’s likely that Mr McEwan will never get my sale, the US book comes out in November and I doubt I’ll remember. Fine. I’m just one insignificant person, Random House doesn’t care about me. The problem is that Random House and the other Big Publishers insist on putting obstacle after obstacle in the way of legitimate book buyers, who then get frustrated and what will they do? They’ll give up and not buy the book. If the book is that good, it’s not like the buyer roll over and wait like a meek little sheep to buy at the store and price that Big Pub dictated, right? The best case scenario is to use a proxy, then at least there is a sale. Nowadays, unfortunately, the more likely outcome is a torrent, and that’s an ugly unending downward spiral.

in random words |


And the sunday before I go home was spent reading Taken by Surprise by Kenna White, who I sat with for a couple of lunches at GCLS. I wish I had more opportunity to get to know her better. This book won the lambda literary awards this year, it was a lovely romance. Just enough angst and again, a great supporting cast. The setting was Aspen, and who wouldn’t want to be in a romance set against the mountains of Aspen? Sigh.

in random words |


I spent the saturday before I go home reading Rhapsody by KG MacGregor, here’s an excerpt. To think that just a week ago I had the honour of singing karaoke with KG at the GCLS conference, as part of her “Greasers” 50s group. These writers are so accessible.

It was not a question, I had to finish the book in one day because I wouldn’t have been able to sleep if I hadn’t. It is truly excellent work, deep and subtle, with realistic, believable characters that we want to get to know better. Love the ensemble nature of the characters too, and also the PG rating. I couldn’t help but think about the characters’ future and I see a lot of love and happiness. I think eventually, one of them will say “it’s time,” and it will be time.

in going places , random words |

Keynote speaker this year was Jewelle Gomez and I really have to put my hand up to admit to absolutely having no idea who she is. Her speech was great though, and there was a lot of history and thanks we owe her for paving the way. The membership meeting followed and this year it wasn’t as contentious, the board did a great job for this con and after a few years together things have settled down. Finances look to be in good shape too, to everyone’s relief.

After lunch I went to part 1 of a talk on writing mysteries. Main lession learned, every suspicious character must have a secret. And the difference between a mystery and a thriller: in a mystery the crime has already taken place and it’s the detective’s job to solve it; a thriller is more often than not a race against time to stop the crime. The final session was a well attended one on romances. A and I were doing laundry so we were in and out. The silent auction also finished and I got outbid on Lee’s leather jacket, I don’t have room in my suitcase anyway.

Big break in between. Rested. Went to the bar. Went to DQ for dinner and then got dressed for the awards. I had a union jack tie, sneakers and big floppy hat, it seemed to have been a hit. The awards were fantastic and I couldn’t clap enough for the winners. The dance followed, and this is the part of the con I usually enjoy least. I had a beer, congratulated the winners, had a few pics taken and disappeared up to the room while everyone was still dancing.

in going places , random words |


The day started with a tribute to Barbara Grier, truly a pioneer. I must admit that I didn’t know a lot about her until she passed away, and how everyone who met her had something wonderful to say, how she made a giant impact and would forever be remembered.

The author auction followed, and raised $3,400+. Lunch was sandwiches again. After lunch a few of us went to the Mall of America, target was Best Buy. We split up and I went over to look at the kindle fire stuff, ending up buying a case and protective screen. Back to the con and I then attended a session on series and sequels, a panel that included 3 authors with ongoing series as well as an editor. Lots of pertinent information and great discussion. The final session I attended was on soldiers and spies, I wasn’t there for the full session, wanting to rest a little. I didn’t have anything for the authors to sign at the author autograph session (ebooks now) but I still went to enjoy the atmosphere.

Dinner was at TGI Friday’s. I have to say how much I love the location of this year’s con. The hotel rooms and the conference rooms are in the same tower, making hopping back to the room a mere lift ride away. Within walking distance of the hotel there are: subway, burger king, DQ and Friday’s. No more having to go to Disney to have expensive food. I had a steak with 2 vegetable sides, then a bourbon shake which I could only partially finish.

Back to the hotel room to change for the karaoke. Someone had suggested 50s night as a theme, so I brought a black shirt, the leather jacket and converse hi tops. Pol did a wonderful job with my hair and with my sunglasses on it was a tai chi moment. Our group gained the nickname of the greasers, under the leadership of head greaser KG. Sang a few group songs, including “I feel pretty” in tribute to one of our members who passed away a couple of years ago. Didn’t stay till the end, left at around 11.30pm.

in going places , random words |

bid start teddy bear picnic

Up at 7.30am, made proper tea (both A and I brought our own tea bags, knowing the state of the tea in the US) then down to the coffee shop to get a croissant to prepare for the first session. The President of the GCLS said a few words, then turned it over to 3 illustrious local members for tips on where to go in the Twin Cities.

I went back up to the room to skype mm about Provence hotels so missed the start of the first breakout session. I didn’t want to interrupt ongoing sessions, the one that didn’t seem like I’d disrupt was the one with newbies, aka the con virgins. Didn’t participate, as it’s already my 4th year. There are something like 24, 25 newbies this year, wow. After the break I went to a session about keeping the audiences at the edge of their seats. I learned that the tricks included: go quick, go slow, build fear and never kill the main character!

By then the silent auction had officially begun, the items were nicely laid out. Aside from the chocolate shoe and whiskey, I had a bunch of stuff from the UK that I grouped into a teddy bear picnic: a teddy bear, Jamie’s newest cookbook, cadbury’s chocolate, hobnobs, PG tips, a brolly, a picnic mat and a couple of bottles of Magners (and glasses). I hope the bidding goes high.

Lunch was sandwiches provided by the con, this is a new perk and is really appreciated. Roast beef sandwich, chips, cookie, yogurt and an apple. After lunch I went to a session on writing dialogue. Started with a writing blast where in 10 mins us the students wrote about our experiences during momentous events like JFK assassination and 9/11. Some people read theirs out loud, they were all great and very personal. The speaker was great and informative and I learned a lot. I didn’t go to the second half, opting for one of the sessions I was looking forward to, of first time published writers talking about their book(s) and how they came to being published. I must say, inspirational stuff.

4.30pm now. We did laundry and I continued research on Provence hotel. We have 6 responses and I was able to eliminate 4 because of price, location or reviews that aren’t as good. 6pm I went down to the bar to meet up with friends. Had a blue moon and 2 new bourbons: Basil Hayden and Booker’s. RM wanted me to try and get Booker’s for him but I did not like it. No nose until I added water when it opened up a little. Far too spicy and difficult to drink I couldn’t even finish it, ugh. Had a grilled vegetables flatbread pizza too that was quite good.

Then it was back to the room to change into swimming things for the hot tub party. It was just a bunch of us sitting in the jacuzzi chatting. I met some new people and new friends, it was great. Back at a decent hour and to prepare for the second day tomorrow.

p.s. chocolate shoe bid at $40.

in random words |


Bought 6 new books just now. Still have a few unread from the 8 I bought in December. All set for vacation next week.

p.s. the image is from the very old palm ereader software, what memories, eh?

in challenges , random words |


The validator opened today, so I did the usual, got my 2011 novel validated. They gave me 50,264 words, so writely was only 3 words out. Lots of winners badges in different sizes and a pdf cert. Another purple year, yay.

in challenges , random words |


2195 words | 50267 words total

Another nano done. Yay! What better than to end with the MCs finally getting time alone — perfect hotel room, nice walk, excellent dinner, hot tub and then spending the whole night to get to know each other. There is still some more story, if I wanted to continue. But things are so perfect between them, it seems a good place to end this year.

in challenges , random words |

2944 words | 48072 words total

Less than 2000 to go. And things are just starting to heat up between our MCs. I have things to do tomorrow night — watching Masterchef and baking a cake for a colleague’s leaving party. It’ll be great if I can finish tomorrow.

in challenges , random words |

2275 words | 45128 words total

800 words at work. It’s quite distracting so I’m grateful for any writing that I manage to do at work. Went running after work, for the first time in a month. 5k at just aound 6min/km, pretty good. There are still far too many people on the track, grrr.

Now that I’m only 5,000 words from the 50k target, I can afford to skip some descriptions. The MCs have driven the lost boy back to his mother, and I wanted to describe the village that his mother lives in, but I don’t have a visual. So I just put in a placeholder and moved on with the chapter. Chapter 14 is done, and Chapter 15 starts a new act in the novel, so to speak. They’ve reunited mother and son and happily moved on. Now time for both MCs to get to know each other. Thing is, I suspect I’ll just stop at 50k, and there’s tons more story to write after that. We’ll see.

in challenges , random words |

2337 words | 42853 words total

It’s an odd feeling, to have a nanoday starting with 2-, still. It’s Mum’s last day, we went for a nice lunch at Bayswater then she spent the afternoon packing while I tried to write a little. I made her a nice steak sandwich to eat on the plane, we were too full for early dinner and I knew she won’t get fed till very late London time. Got the zipcar at 5.30pm, got her to heathrow at around 7pm. She went inside immediately so I came home. It’s quiet without her.

Writing is okay, the story is slowing coming along. I wish I had the motivation to really get into turbo mode and do the usual 5000 words a day. I’m close anyway, and I’m actually more inclined to continue at this 2000 words a day pace so I finish sometime this week.

in challenges , random words |

1084 words | 40516 words total

I knew we were going out the whole day, so I tried to write as much as I could in the morning before we went out. Went to the Christmas market at the Southbank (disappointing), then to Westfield Stratford (horribly crowded, never again) and then to visit RM. Had Turkish dinner near his place, after dinner sat at the coffee shop and chatted for a long time (nice).

It’s been a long day, so I’m going to call it a night. I’ll try to catch up either tomorrow or next week.

in challenges , random words |

3007 words | 39432 words total

Wrote 1100 words at work today, nice. Took Mum out to dinner at Belgo’s, but since there was nothing on TV, I still managed to start on the nano at around 9.30pm. This is the most I’d written in a day this year. It’s the morning after the night of many kisses for the MCs. Time for a special breakfast and then making plans for the road trip to take the boy back to his mother.

in challenges , random words |

2549 words | 34152 words total
Wrote 800 at work, and then finished the rest of chapter 11. Chapter lengths are a bit longer than usual, at over 3000 words. Anyway, end of chapter 11 = first kiss.

in challenges , random words |

2201 words | 31603 words total

Well, I made 30k. Took until day 15, ugh. This is my slowest progress in 7 years of nano. Comparison of day 15 results:

  • 2004 — 50,078 | finished on day 8
  • 2005 — 50,141 | finished on day 15
  • 2006 — 50,305 | finished on day 10
  • 2007 — DNS
  • 2008 — 50,277 | finished on day 15
  • 2009 — 50,057 | finished on day 12
  • 2010 — 41,106 | finished on day 18
  • 2011 — 31,603 | target to finish on day 24

I have good reason, and to be honest there is a certain relief at writing at this slower pace. The go-getting Aries in me is protesting wildly, but the part that wants to spend more time with Mum has won. Even though it’s just eating dinner at the kitchen bar table or watching TV together, I want to spend the early part of my evening this way. I wrote 675 words at work today, to ease some of the pressure. I only needed another hour at home to get up to the 2,000 word daily target that I’ve set myself. It’s all good.

in challenges , random words |

2142 words | 29402 words total

I wrote about 600 words at work today, a first this nano. Just typed in an email and sent it to myself. It’s so inconvenient to have google docs blocked, and can’t save anything onto flashdrives. I think I’ve done a great job of dragging things along this nano. The MCs and the boy were going to go shopping for clothes and stuff for the boy and they are still stuck at mcdonald’s and only just managed to get into MC1’s car. I thought the novel would be crap (after all, that’s my definition of a nano novel), but it’s gradually growing on me.

in challenges , random words |

2020 words | 27260 word total

Went to Camden market then Leicester Square with Mum. We’ve been out every single weekend for 4 weeks and the crowd was getting to me. Too much interaction, no, not even interaction, it’s proximity, to people is very draining for me. I need people to be away from me, far far away, and it’s getting on my nerves.

I had to cook dinner as usual, so not able to start on nano till around 8.30pm. Not in the mood, but I have to carry on. Chapter 9 is done. Our MCs finally got in touch with the lost kid’s mother, who is on her way to her weekend country home for some function. After getting over the disbelief that someone would abandon their lost child to the company of strangers, the MCs made the no-brainer decision to bring the kid to his mother. Cue start of road trip.

in challenges , random words |


2572 words | 25240 words total

I didn’t expect to be able to get this much written today. Went to Borough Market, Canary Wharf and South Bank with Mum today. Still managed to get home to watch Strictly. So didn’t get started till almost 9pm. Quite tired from walking all day, and carrying all our shopping.

At this rate, the story will be 100k words. The MCs just met, and have found a lost child. They are working together to get the child back to his mother, but his mother is too busy and it’s difficult to coordinate. All this is to lead up to the road trip portion of the story. We’re already at Chapter 9 and they are still on the phone with the kid’s mother.

in challenges , random words |

2344 words | 22668 words total

Went out for Le Relais steak with Mum tonight, so I’m happy that I still managed my informal 2011 daily goal of 2000 words. I’m pretty tired, time for bed soon.

Anyway, nano won’t be nano without my wrist pain flaring up. I keep cracking it, and the pain and discomfort continues. It’s the same every year. Like I said earlier this week, it’s a routine now. Left wrist pain is a nano routine.

in challenges , random words |

2242 words | 20324 words total

Alright. Got to 20k. Good progression. Chapter 7 just finished. All nonsense of course, the main part of the story hasn’t even started.

in challenges , random words |

2366 words | 18082 words total

This week has been very routine-like: I get home, shower, cook dinner, we eat dinner, watch Masterchef plus anything else interesting on TV. Then I get some free time, mostly about 2 hours, for nano. Compared to past years, I’m extremely slow. But this year is different and I don’t think I’m doing too badly.

One thing missing is running. I’ve only run once since Mum is here. I was walking in the park this morning thinking about running. Then I read probably the most moving race report on rw and I’m thinking to myself, I want to go running. Argh.

in challenges , random words |

2483 words | 15716 words total

The MCs just met and they’re starting to have small talk. Slowly slowly, I’m dragging everything out. Spent a large part of the evening watching TV with Mum, still pretty decent wordcount.

in challenges , random words |

2012 words | 13233 words total

Sort of back on track. I think I’ll aim at around 2000 per day, which is a tame target for me. Spent a couple of hours watching TV with Mum. Not wasted, just a different allocation of time this month.

I found the dares thread, I missed it cos it’s stickied. Anyway, I managed to include both Mr Ian Woon and Marin Woon. They appear early this year, in Chapter 4. Our MC2 was sorting through letters for tenants who occupied the flat she just moved into.

Mr and Mrs Ian and Marin Woon were subscribers to mountain biking and triathlon magazines that were super keen to have them become valued subscribers again

Did I mention that the novel sucks?

in challenges , random words |

1127 words | 11221 words total

Considering we went outlet shopping at Bicester, followed by Indian dinner at Brick Lane, ie I as out all day, I didn’t do too badly. All this was written in 1 hour. Need to go sleep now. There’s a part of me that wants my peaceful life and quiet weekends back, but the other parts are saying don’t be so rude and spend more time with mum.

in challenges , random words |

331 words | 10094 words total

I’d be happy if I get one word today. Drove 2+ hrs to Sussex to visit my niece’s other grandparents. Set up skype for them, had a nice lunch and walked around their harbour. By the time we got home it was past 7pm. Took the bus to Bayswater to have dinner at Nando’s — fast becoming mum’s favourite. Not a lot of time. Fireworks going crazy outside. Too tired to do much writing. Whatever I can get this weekend is a bonus.

in challenges , random words |

2056 words | 9763 words total

Mum and I visited our old neighbour; it was so fantastic to see her. We didn’t get home till 8pm so dinner was late at 8.30pm. Then we watched a documentary about Susan Boyle and I didn’t start working on nano till after 10pm. Wrote gibberish for 2 hours.

in challenges , random words |

2487 words | 7707 words total

So far, doing a chapter a day, today it’s introducing MC2. Sorry about the obsessively boring posts. This will continue until I finish.

in challenges , random words |

2797 words | 5220 words total

Not too bad. 10.4% complete, projected completion 18 Nov-2011 according to my nifty spreadsheet. One thing I love about nano is the stats.

There was a post on the writing prompt thread (used to be dares, I wonder why they changed the name) that gave,

It all started with a paper cut

I used this as my first line. The idea of how to expand came suddenly to me as I sat down after dinner to write, and I wasn’t even in the bathroom! Got a whole chapter out of it, and good basis to develop part of the story. I think I can be quite pleased with progress so far.

in random words |


2423 words

Another year, another nano. Year 8 for me. It’s almost a routine now, I’m not sensing any of the enthusiasm and magic of those early years. Not yet anyway. I still think it’s insane, which is why I’ll continue to participate.

The novel will still suck, that won’t change. Didn’t have a lot of time to prep, the outline is only half done. Time will be a constraint, I won’t be able to write a lot at work and I have to spare time to spend with Mum. May be I could chug along, to get to a decent total then spend the last 10 days after Mum goes home, to shift to a higher gear. We’ll see.

in random words |


I went to the bsb uk author reading at Waterstone’s Nottingham on Saturday. It’s about 2.5hr one way, so I hesitated a lot before deciding that I really should go support the UK/European authors. I booked the train tickets online, and found that first class was only an extra £2. What a bargain, I got 4 seats with table all to myself (both ways), peace and quiet and free tea.

I’ve never been to Nottingham, and the high street is just like any other high street with loads of shops and people on a Saturday. The reading was well attended, over 50 people and 7 readers. Glad to see that the UK/European contingent is well represented. What I liked particularly about this reading is that I got to meet authors that a year ago, I wouldn’t have imagined having the opportunity of meeting. Listening to their reading is a nice way of being introduced to their work. One of the authors actually gave me a free copy of her forthcoming, yet to be published, book, which was so very kind. I read it on the journey back, and will finish it tomorrow, it’s funny and well written.

After the reading, the group adjourned to a nearby pub. I was having a great time chatting with my running friend K and catching up with my NY friend C. It was a shame I had to leave quite early to catch the train home. The event continues tomorrow morning with another session, but I have a long training run. Hopefully I’m still in the UK next year, if they hold the event again.

in random words |


I’ve been trying to rewrite LL for a few years. A. Few. Years. It’s pathetic. For Rachel’s June challenge I made myself get up to chapter 12. Today I found some time and inspiration and I’m up to chapter 15. 25k words, which is just under 1/3 done. And our MCs just had their first kiss, awww.

It occurred to me, I’ve mindmapped all recent nanos, I should sit down and mindmap this one too, seeing that it’s probably the most important writing project of my life.

in random words |


Around this time of November the word validation widget becomes available on It took just a few seconds to validate, and I’m a winner again. Happy.

in challenges , random words |



Another year, another nano. All done.

The story is not finished, we’re only at mile 2 of the marathon, there’s 24 miles to go. Not to mention the post-race celebration. Plus two more races.

IRL I have other things to do, so I’m leaving the story alone till I have more time. It’s not like me to not finish, but I have good reason. Announcement soon.

Writely wordcount is 50,289; Word wordcount is 50,313. I’m going with the former until the official countmeter is available next week.

in challenges , random words |

3,382 words | 47,406 words total

Hopefully I can finish tomorrow, there’s only 2,600 words left to get to 50k and I’m at chapter 10. This should be okay to write, it’s October and we’re at the Marathon. Did I mention this story is about all the races I ran in this year? And which one was the most important? Hmm, I wonder.

in challenges , random words |

2,918 words | 44,024 words total

Almost there. Not sure if I can make 3000 words a day for the next two days, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be done by the weekend. The conflict was short-lived, the MCs are trying to resolve it already. Yeah, definitely an angst-lite story.

in challenges , random words |

3,950 words | 41,106 words total

This was the first time this year I had a chance to write at work. I emailed myself the latest doc and spent a little of the afternoon fixing and expanding the latest chapters. We’re now in August and September, lots of events. Many long runs. And the relationship is being put to the test by a series of miscommunications. Ah, angst.

in challenges , random words |

5,084 words | 37,156 words total

I’m fine with not getting to 40k. Spent too much time doing other things — running, shopping, made lamb stew, had some wine and popcorn with my downstairs neighbours. This is the first time this nano I’ve reached over 5000 words. Considering the story, I’m okay with it.

in challenges , random words |


2,024 words | 32,072 words total

I went to the outlet and did a massive amount of shopping — black trousers for work, black shoes for work, replacement baking sheets, silicon baking moulds, a pair of Nike Free 3.0 v2 shoes; looked for chinos but didn’t see any I liked. On my way back, went to Target and bought bubblewrap, lunch boxes and a bunch of other household goods stuff.

Which means the time I wanted to spend writing was spent shopping or driving. I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine, and when I re-read something I wrote and it did not made sense — all of a sudden talking about “the work clothes era” in the middle of a sentence on half marathon results — I knew it was time to quite while I was ahead.

Plan tomorrow is go for a run, do laundry, vacuum, then spend as much time as possible to write. A plan is 40k; B plan is 37; minimum is 35.

in challenges , random words |

2,598 words | 30,048 words total

On target for today, I wanted to get to 30k to give myself a chance of 40k by the end of the weekend. We’ve reached the huge ramping up that was August and September — mileage, injury and 2 HMs. Also starting to add some possible conflict and angst. Can’t have everything perfect in a relationship too early, right, otherwise the resolution is less satisfying. I’ve also realised that apart from the 2 MCs there are barely any other characters in the story. Very talking heads. Nothing to worry about now.

in challenges , random words |

2,113 words | 27,450 words total

Total writing time, less than 2 hours so not too bad. I’m tired, have been waking up before the alarm. Bedtime.

in challenges , random words |


2,585 words | 25,337 words total

Well, here’s the big sigh of relief at reaching 25k. Halfway to target. I only just started chapter 6 of 12, so perhaps this will be a 60k story. Unlike past years I haven’t done the how many words per chapter statistic, I know chapter 4 was long and chapter 5 was shorter, but I don’t have the wordcounts. Feels good to be not so numbers obsessed, fretting about reaching a certain goal for the chapter. The overall goal is enough.

Bobbi posted a question on my fb status, asking why I do nano. It’s a great question. I nano because it’s what I do in November, it’s as simple as that. With one exception, it’s been like this since 2004. Why do I write, in general? That is a more complex question and today my answer is that i write because I used to be good at it and I want to rediscover that ability. Is it a good enough reason? I don’t know.

in challenges , random words |

2,244 words | 22,752 words total

Every year I complain that the story is crap. Every year I write my nano novel and feel dreadful while writing it. At the back of my mind I think whether I can make anything of it. Every year I promise myself I’d go back, edit it and whip it into decent shape.

Every year, after I finish, I never go back and read it again. Sometimes I’d skim parts, and then I get embarrassed at how bad it is and go straight to the end.

A little below the 2,500 target today. I’m tired, want to go to bed.

in challenges , random words |

3,410 words | 20,508 words total

Woke up at 5.30am, couldn’t sleep. Took care of mafia wars, then wrote a little bit, may be a few hundred words. I got home early from work, had dinner quickly and started at 7pm. I could continue, it’s only 10.45pm now, but I’m going to read and go to bed. I have a 7.30am call tomorrow so it’s another early wake up.

I haven’t spent any time on the nano forums at all, too busy at work. Even if writely hadn’t been blocked I wouldn’t have been able to write much during the day. I’m reasonably happy at my wordcount progress even though it’s my lowest day 8 total:

  • 2004 — 43,177
  • 2005 — 28,136
  • 2006 — 42,801
  • 2007 — DNS
  • 2008 — 25,106
  • 2009 — 35,202
  • 2010 — 20,508

The spreadsheet is predicting a completion date of 18-Nov. I want to pick up the pace and be done by the 16th, which is the latest I’ve finished. I’ll never be able to replicate the spectacular 2004 effort; that first year will forever remain the most memorable and best performing nano in my writing career.

in challenges , random words |

3,775 words | 17,098 words total

Came home at around 2pm, spent the rest of the afternoon putting around — watched an ep of Bones, tidied up the boxes from the yard sale, replied to email, cooked lunch for the week, played games, took a shower, did laundry. The only thing I didn’t do was write, grrr.

Wrote a little after dinner, then watched TAR. Mom phoned just as it was finishing, then mm phoned. So I had a couple of distractions. Went on a little streak after finishing with mm, got a decent total.

in challenges , random words |

1,240 words | 13,323 words total

Race this morning, and now I’m visiting car’s house. Early dinner but we ended up playing monopoly so there was little opportunity to write. My A-plan weekend goal seems daunting; I should come up with a B-plan.

in challenges , random words |

2,806 words | 12,083 words total

Although I got home early, I watched an episode of Bones, laid out my gear for the 15k race tomorrow and did one load of laundry before settling down to write at 8pm. Was distracted still. The overall feeling is I’m not enjoying writing lately and the story is moving along far too slowly. It’s April and the MCs had only just gone out for their first meal. Plod, plod, plod.

in challenges , random words |

1,154 words | 9,277 words total

I only had 1 hour, so I’m reasonably satisfied. I went out after work for drinks and dinner with my colleagues — we hadn’t gone out for a long long long time. I had 3 glasses of wine and too many slices of pizza. Not the best for writing. I’m okay with the more modest daily target this year, I know where I’d like to be by the end of the weekend, hopefully I can make it. The story? A thousand odd words isn’t going to move it forward by much.

in challenges , random words |

2,043 words | 8,123 words total

Started late at 10pm, only 2 hours available for writing today. Still, not too bad in terms of output. The running and racing part of the story is going well, but the relationship isn’t developing. I have to work on that.

in challenges , random words |

3,354 words | 6,080 words total

This is a mindset change for me, to aim for 2,500-3000 words daily as opposed to my “high-flying” normal target of 5,000. I haven’t settled into a routine where I can both write and run yet, my running is taking a back seat right now.

Chapter 1 is done. 5,019 words. Bang on target. The story is kinda bleh. LOL that’s no change. Every year I complain about the story. Every year I end up being okay with it. Not that I plan to show anyone any time soon, if ever, so it doesn’t matter.

in challenges , random words |


2726 words

So busy at work today there was hardly time for lunch, let alone writing. Besides, google docs is banned, and we can’t copy data to flash drives. This means limited opportunity to write at work, unless I email a file to myself every day.

Started at around 8pm and wrote for about 3hrs. The story started very slow, only 1 scene completed and nothing much happened aside from the 2 MCs meeting each other and some conversation went on. I don’t have a very good feel to how it will develop. I think there is enough for 50k words but I can never be sure. This is probably the slowest start in all my nanos. I have a busy november, plus lots of tv and mafia wars, I’ll have to work very hard to keep to my target.

in challenges , random words |


It’s almost that time of year again. Compared with last year I’m actually late with the planning, cos almost 100% of my attention is on marathon prep. But I sat down the last few days and outlined it.

The story this year, not surprising, is about running. 12 chapters, following a year of races. It’ll also be a romance. The progression and ups and downs of training / racing will be echoed by the development of the relationship. For a change I might tone down on the angst. Let’s see if I can manage that.

in 101.1001 , outside interests , random words |


I think I blew this one out of the water. When I started 101.1001 amazon had only just released the kindle and the ebook market was still in its infancy. I thought at that time that I’d try downloading a few ebooks and reading it on the mbp using the ereader software.

I now have 93 ebooks in my ereader (the hardware, heh, the same name thing is confusing). This includes 90 full length books and 3 short stories but excludes the free classics downloaded from sony. I’ve read almost all of them, so yes, I read 5 ebooks…in the last 2 weeks. They cost the same as regular paperbacks, so at an average of $12-13, that’s over $1000 I’ve contributed to the industry since march 2009. Do I get an award or what?

At the moment, I’m using one of the least popular readers, and there’s a lot of “me-too” pressure to get the kindle 3, which ships this week. The formats and industry are starting to settle, there will be a clear standard and device winner soon. Interestingly, I don’t think it’ll be the ipad, it will be a dedicated ereader. I’ve not even been tempted to read on the ipad so far.

in random words |

It’s almost that time of year. I haven’t started putting down ideas and outlines yet. At this stage I only have a vague idea of what I might tackle this year. A romance with running, that’s as far as I’d gotten. Publishable? Potentially, yes.

in random words |
I write like
Cory Doctorow

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

This was all over teh interwebz this week. I plugged in one of my blog posts so I’m not surprised I write like a blogger. And someone I read and respect too. When I put in a part of a short story, it gave me Dan Brown. Ugh. Well, I suppose if I get Mr Brown’s sales I won’t mind.

in arts and media , random words |

youtube link:

If/when I become published I want to design my own covers. I won’t be able to paint or draw them since I’m an awful painter, but I can photoshop and I have definite ideas about what visual elements I want in my book covers.

I have a long way to go and much to learn though. This time lapse video from Lauren Panepinto, the creative director of orbit books shows the amount of skill needed, condensing 6 hours of work into 2 minutes. There’s even a brief interview about her approach. My awe of designers just went into orbit (pun intended).

Comments at bb rightly pointed out how effective this was as a marketing tool for the book. I must admit I am not bought into video trailers for books but based on this particular video, I can see myself checking out the book (due out Sept 2010 and is part of a series). Of course it helps that it’s steampunk and has vampires in it.

in 101.1001 , challenges , random words |

This was written for the author’s challenge for the radlist yahoo group. It used to be that there were more published authors on the challenge but recently more first-time / unpublished writers have sent in their contributions. I know I need to transition to “real” writing, with my own characters and stuff. So when I saw the signup invitation I started thinking about what I could write. This time the theme is “surprise party” and we could interpret freely.

I’m glad I have an archive of shorts and 5 nanos. I focused on nano 2005, which I hadn’t looked at since more than half of it was lost in the NZ flashdrive death incident. If I were to rework it to an original, most of it had to be rewritten anyway. The most exciting bit was finding that I still had the mindmap, so all isn’t lost.

Then it was a matter of writing building the back story (including changing the gender of one of the MCs) and writing the challenge. The result, party planner, is a nice prequel. The original title of the main story was tight, and I’m tentatively changing it to Melody’s on Church. The setting is now at Franklin TN, where Nissan has its headquarters — I met a Japanese HR manager at a networking event and he was telling me a little about life there. The title is the name of the restaurant, and I’ve further defined its cuisine as Japanese-fusion.

The short is the story of how the MCs met. I’m pretty pleased with it, yes it’s a bit fluffy, but hopefully not clichéd. It’s kinda cute and sweet.

in 101.1001 , random words |

I finished posting my latest story on pens. This will probably be my last. Towards the end I double posted 2 chapters each time, just so I can get it over with and finish. I lost the attachment to that place a long time ago — most of my peers have moved on, there are only a handful of good stories, and they are hard to find amongst the less good ones. I don’t want to be dismissive, since I applaud everyone’s efforts in writing their story, but there has been a noticeable decline in quality over the last few years.

The story I posted was the one I wrote for nano08, with a bit of editing and filling in the parts I left blank. I guess at the end it turned out to be a decent story. The comments, few as they were, talked about how raw and dark it was. The timeframe switches back and forth, between the present, a few years ago and a few weeks ago. I also switched pov between chapters — some were written in first person, some in third. I’m not sure if it was too confusing or whether it made sense. I don’t think any of my writing group even knew I was posting, let alone give me comments.

I was tidying up the html on some of the stories on hidden doors, and surprisingly enjoyed reading some of my early work. Well, those I could stand re-reading anyway. I’m going to have to step up and get back to those days if I have any chance of reaching the published stage.

in 101.1001 , challenges , random words |


Am I being a jerk if I say “that was easy”? Because, well, it was. I made good progress every day, not always hitting the 5k target, which I later revised down anyway. I got to 50k by the 12th, and this year I even typed it all with capitalisation and punctuation. None of those time saving tricks for me. Plus I didn’t use any dares.

Officially the wordcount is 50,038, which is lower than the Word and writely counts but I don’t really care. There are parts still missing, and will likely remain forever missing.

How do I do it? I think it’s definitely a case of practice. And being relaxed. I have no deadlines except the 30th; my own soft target is always the 15th. I’ve never found writing difficult, provided I have a story. And I outline. For nano I always outline by chapter. For a project manager like me, having a set goal and an outline is something so familiar that I can slip into the process as soon as the first day of november comes round.

I have to think of a decent storyline for next year’s, because this year’s story is the worst I’ve written in my nano career. Heck, my entire writing career. But hey, quality isn’t the point of nano. A lot of people forget that.

Which brings me to a little rant. I’m a nano purist, I make no apologies for it. I’ve been at it long enough to earn it. I see people who are writing a continuation of an existing novel, or rewriting an already written novel, or worrying about editing, and I cringe. That’s not the point. The point is to write a 50k novel from scratch, without editing. We have edmo in march for editing. And I would have thought ‘from scratch’ is self-explanatory. Ah well, that’s other people. It’s a self-challenge and in theory someone can write a single word 50,000 times and still win. Everyone’s mileage varies. nanochart

in challenges , random words |


I reached 50k yesterday and I’m stopping. Yes, there are still missing chunks but I’m not invested enough in this story to continue. Certain passages will likely end up in other stories.

For those new friends witnessing me do nano for the first time (the witnessing, not the my doing it), it may seem like I’m some sort of writing machine. But really, I’m not. This is my normal nano speed. Bear in mind that this is nanowrimo, when it comes to writing other stuff I ‘perform’ differently. The point of nano is to write a 50,000 word novel from scratch, and write with abandon, ie no editing, no overthinking. And I achieved this. Other notes on this year’s nano:

  • finishing on day 12 is snap bang within my average. I’ve finished between 10 and 16 days since 2004
  • average words per day 4,171
  • 25 chapters
  • average chapter length 1,999
  • longest chapter 3015 | shortest 1152
  • I didn’t do any dares because they moved the thread to the plot doctoring forum and I kept looking for it in the reaching 50000 forum
  • this year’s Mr Ian Woon is a partner in the law firm of Appleby, Esterhaus, Kowalski, Woon and Gregory
  • I donated to OLL and will continue to do so every year
  • I didn’t buy the t-shirt

I will take advantage of the createspace offer of a free proof copy. But not this novel, I’m probably going to ssend nano2006 instead. It’s time I worked on that one, it has a better story. Chef and I have been casually emailing about writing and submitting for publication. My plan is to have at least 3 novels in good shape before submitting my first one. I like to have reserves always ready. In comp terms we call it keeping some back in the attic.

in challenges , random words |


2,883 words | total 50,057 words

I finished. The big push yesterday really helped, as did the 1000 words I wrote at work today. I only had 2000 words to write at home. There was absolutely no excuse.

There are no more chapters to write, the end had The End. Not all chapters are complete, where I couldn’t write the rest of the scene I put in [more], so one of these days when I want to finish this novel completely I’ll go and write those missing parts.

in challenges , random words |

5,753 words | total 47,174 words

I left work early so I had an extra hour. I should have used it to do weight training but I was lazy and opted to write. That’s the eternal dilemma isn’t it, too little free time, too many other things to take care of.

The last few chapters have been long, the story is hitting that ‘final push’ place. I’d like to get to 50k tomorrow, cos I like even numbers and 12 days sound better than 13 days. Fingers crossed.

in challenges , random words |


3,153 words | total 41,421 words

Yeah, the stupid wrist pain has returned. At least it waited till day 10. (Actually day 9 cos it was hurting yesterday.) The end is almost here anyway, so I can live with the pain. I’ll be in wrist braces tomorrow, both of them, looking like those steampunk gloves that my vampire wars character has. Anyway I’ve reached the 40k milestone, which is psychologically huge.

The characters continue to defy my attempt to give them angst, they’re simply too happy to have re-discovered each other. Who can blame them? I’m writing both chapter 21 and 22 at the same time. Chapter 21 is about a nice evening with “steaks and vegetables on the grill followed by whipped cream and rich chocolate mousse spread thickly over her body for me to lick off all night.” Chapter 22 is about helping the SEC inspectors in a fraud investigation. I’m literally writing 1 or 2 paragraphs of one chapter, then turning to the other chapter and writing a passage. Strange how my brain can switch between such different topics. LOL

in challenges , random words |

3,066 words | total 38,268 words

I had a meeting that was cancelled at lunchtime, so I managed to write 600 words at work. I’ve decided to be less demanding of myself and reduce the daily target from 5000 to 3000 words. I suppose I can do that cos I’m ahead, and even with the smaller target I’m aiming to get to 50k by the weekend.

My characters have gone away for a much needed weekend trip to the coast. They’re enjoying each other’s company, going out for great seafood and visiting local attractions. My MC went for a long run along the beach. I wish I were them.

in challenges , random words |

4,181 words | total 35,202 words

I stayed later than usual at Car’s house today. We went to the supermarket, then to the cemetery. Early dinner of a nice big steak her mom cooked for us. I headed out at around 5pm, and got home just after 6pm. By the time I showered, unpacked all my purchases over the weekend and made lunch for tomorrow it was 6.45pm. And TAR started at 7pm. I was too distracted to even watch Iron Chef, the secret ingredient is almond which I don’t like. I’ll catch it on repeat during the week.

To add insult to injury the flapper valve on my toilet broke. Now I have to figure out where the nearest plumbing supply store is. grrrr.

Back to the novel. I did a pretty good job of writing filler material today, padding what was originally one chapter into two. I’m averaging 1,956 words per chapter, meaning I will need a total of 25.6 chapters at this rate. I’ve only outlined 23 so from somewhere I need to find 3 more chapters, or make each chapter longer to catch up.

in challenges , random words |


3,168 words | total 31,021 words

Been up since 7am, we went to the outlet mall at Michigan City. I bought 2 pairs of Timberland shoes, a pair of black Crocs with lining, salt & pepper shakers, a couple of storage jars, a long sleeved Nike running shirt and running gloves. I’m pleased at my haul.

Even though we got home at 4pm and was finished with dinner by 5.30pm, writing was tough. I was bored and had zero motivation. The story crawled along, and I was so distracted that I was hitting word count every hundred words or so.

I’m at chapter 16. I notice that I’ve been doing 2 chapters a day. I’m also not following the outline, I strayed away a bit yesterday and today’s 2 chapters were quite a significant departure. It’s okay though, the main plot is still there. It will just take a different route.

So, some stats after 7 days:

  • Total word count: 31,021
  • Average words per day: 4,432
  • Total hours writing: 25hrs
  • Completion: 62%
  • Projected completion: 13-Nov-09

in challenges , random words |

5,147 words | total 25,229 words

I managed to write about 1000 words at work today, which made the task easier when I got home. I was also home early enough to fit in a run, my first this week. I’m not getting my workouts in…fail.

The novel turned nice today. I had wanted to write more ‘difficult relationship’ stuff, but the characters decided they were having none of that and preferred to spend the weekend in each other’s company, mostly in bed. Hahaha. I love it when characters decide to throw the outline completely out of the window and go all tangential on me.

There’s a group of us doing nano this year. I’m privileged to be writing buddies with actual published authors. And I’m one of the ones who are ahead of the 1667-a-day official target. Except my target is 5000 a day. This is nothing new, I’ve always had a big daily target, and I always finish early. I think I’ll freak out if I ever fall behind.

in challenges , random words |

4,078 words | total 20,082 words

If it’s even possible, I was busier today than yesterday. Booked solid from 9am to 4.30pm, only able to sneak lunch when the 11.30am finished early. So exhausting.

On chapter 11 already. The 2 chapters I wrote today were better. Better flow, better direction. It’s getting towards the middle section of the novel and things are starting to happen. I just wish I can get more rest. At this point, I’m relying a lot on my nano experience to get through the next few days. Just type the words. Keep an eye on the wordcount. Discipline.

in challenges , random words |

3,355 words | total 16,004 words

It was a long, intense day full of meetings and discussions. I was so tired when I got home. Luckily I had leftover risotto, so I didn’t have to cook.

Writing began at 7.30pm. I decided that I hate my novel. There is no story and the premise is thinner than ice. I’m not writing any descriptions and it feels like I’m just writing a very long blog post. This is gonna be a tough, hard slog.

in challenges , random words |

5,023 words | total 12,649 words

Barely managed 180 words at work today, there was just no time. Got home and decided to make mushroom risotto, which turned out to be tasty but time consuming.

Started writing at 7.45pm, got to 9000 words at 9pm — the reward was ice cream and baseball break for 15mins. I just finished, almost at midnight. I’m at chapter 7, but I’m not liking this novel at all. It’s hard to write and it’s not making sense. But I’ll hack away at it.

in challenges , random words |


7,626 words

I started around 10.30am, after the race and shower. TV off, heating on, outline ready. Wrote steadily albeit slowly till lunchtime, when I reached 2200 words. Got majorly distracted by mafia and vampire wars, and still managed to get to 6000 words at 7pm. I had an ambitious target of 10000 but once TAR started I knew I won’t make it. There was TAR, Next Iron Chef and Iron Chef — 3 hours of TV that cut into writing time. I’d done pretty good today, so I’m happy.

I outlined 22 chapters. I was able to split chapter 1 into 2, and that gives me another happy.

in random words |


Only 4 more days till 2009 nano and all I’ve done:

  • finalised the mindmap
  • outlined 9 chapters
  • updated the spreadsheet
  • made a donation to the program

I haven’t even started looking at the dares. This is NOT GOOD.

Plus, I just signed up for one month’s free trial of netflix that Car gifted me. This is EXTREMELY not good.

I don’t feel ready.

in random words |

tempo running in my disney shirt
cushioned by the autumn dunes
killers inside my head (thanks brandon)

fellow runners wrapped up warm
locals sipping coffee before their day
we’ve all claimed our own little space

young lovers strolling on the beach
they have the sand all to themselves
the gulls and i shared a knowing smile

i filed the image away safely
it was hard to run on the soft sand
so i continued on the path

in random words |


via bb, wondermark’s genre fiction generator. For any nano participant who wants some help in planning. Ahem, not that I would go this route, natch.

in 101.1001 , random words |


It took me a while to write the next 20 6-word novels, but here they are. A varied bunch, I think. My favourites: #21 for its cheekiness and #33 cos I have a specific idea for that storyline.

in 101.1001 , arts and media , random words |


I read Michael Ridpath’s first book, Free to Trade, when it came out in 1996. It coincided with the beginning of my career in financial services, and it was unspoken required reading. It painted an exciting, if superficial, picture of what it was like to be on the trading floor of one of the bulge bracket firms.

This one, The Marketmaker, was his third book and set in the world of Emerging Markets. The MC was a Russian scholar who found himself needing money and employed at the premier EM Fixed Income brokerage in the City, specialising in Latin American bonds, but aiming to expand into Eastern Europe.

I had it on my shelves for since it was published in 1999, and it was interesting to read about the markets then. It was before the term BRIC was even invented; before the LTCM failure; and just after the Asian financial crisis. Those were the days when the words banker and excess were synonymous, before all the scandals that eventually brought about Sarbanes-Oxley. It was also interesting to remember that the bulge bracket was bigger then, and there were more players on the street.

Our MC started all starry-eyed at the broker. There was a charismatic owner / mentor; a dodgy enforcer type with hints of mafia links; a best friend who had to make a choice between friendship and own gains; a beautiful, smart heroine who the MC fell in love with; even a cockney, pudgy East End boy. He was in turns fascinated by the City and angsty that he’d sold his soul. Then he discovered by accident something suspicious, and a series of seemingly unrelated circumstances only heightened his suspicion. He and his colleague-new lover were kidnapped, and he managed to escape himself but leaving our heroine in the clutches of evil kidnappers. In keeping with the “financial thriller” theme that the writer is known for, there were thinly disguised i-banks to give the feel of authenticity and much technical name dropping. I couldn’t help wondering if Bloomfield Weiss was Goldman Sachs and there’s no prize for guessing who the large Dutch bank KBN was named after.

The first half had some exciting trading scenarios and a touching philanthropic initiative. The beginnings of the romance was always hovering as a possibility. Unfortunately the financial backdrop faded to exactly that, a convenient background. The kidnap was a little too drawn out, and the solution to the story a tad too incredible. I was sympathetic towards our MC at first, but the Like (fb term) didn’t stay. I felt the writer was checking off cliché after cliché, the characters and story was pretty formulaic. Towards the end it read like an airport thriller and while there is nothing wrong with that (airport thrillers tend to be best sellers), the twists and resolution were pedestrian and I couldn’t wait to get to the last page.

in random words |


Wow. It’s almost that time already. This year’s badges have been released early. Time to get a-cracking. I’ve sort of mindmapped the idea, probably need to flesh it out a little. Then it’s outlining the chapters.

in random words |

I have: a) a small pile of rough paper with ideas; b) beginning paragraphs in writely and c) a few written chapters on the website. I need to get them organised and figure out which stories to work on and which ones to shelf.

full length stories (non fanfic)

  1. Lamplight rewrite — a big undertaking, but this is my best shot at a submittable (I hesitate to say publishable) manuscript. At 76k words it’s the right length, even though I’ll need to re-write at least half the story, to take the fanfic element out.
  2. nano 2009 story — already mindmapped, needs to be outlined. Unless I get completely busy at work, I must do nano this year.
  3. Tight rewrite — this is the nano 2007 story where I lost 20k words after completion when my flashdrive failed. The great thing is I found the outline mindmap that I thought was lost, and the story has enough characters and quirkiness for me to take a stab at it again.
  4. In Pieces rewrite — this was nano 2006. Full of angst and not exactly a happy ending. Possibly too autobiograpical. And because of that it’s a story close to my heart. I know people say don’t write your own story, though I can say most of it is my imagination.
  5. Summer into Winter — gee, this is the story I’ve been trying to write for almost 20 years. Inspired by David Harsent’s book, I’ll read the book again to see how I feel.
  6. road trip story — had this idea recently, not even fully formed. This will be an easy-reading, if formulaic, romance. I wonder if I can write something like that and not make it too angsty.

full length fanfic
  1. Atonement — it’s all outlined and over 5000 words written. And now that Spielberg and Will Smith are talking about remaking Oldboy, I have to get my story in first.
  2. Days of Innocence Lost — EVERYONE wants me to write this, and even E has said (perhaps jokingly, perhaps not) that she’s passing the Master Will baton to me. There is a great story there, almost my legacy. Anyone who has read Earth will, hopefully, want to read more. After they’ve finished bawling their eyes out, and then cried some more. I have to finish this one day. May be the trick is to take it out of the Wishverse and into a brand new universe of my own creation.
  3. Healing series — not exactly outlined, though again I have a good idea where i want it to go. It’s sad at first but very very romantic at the end. A change for me. Has a special place in my heart because it was my first ff idea, even preceding Common Areas. Not a lot of people know that.
  4. Bigtown — this will need to go on hiatus, too many other stuff to write.
  5. Magic — outlined. Very ambitious, complicated and big project. May be hard to get off the ground.
  6. Beloved — the other Wishverse story, a few ideas jotted down on paper. Has too much overlap with DoIL, need lots of thinking.

short stories
  1. The Mashup — almost 4500 words written. I need to finish this.
  2. Master Will Pet boxing / mud wrestling romp — a straightfoward PWP, if I’m in the right mood this will be fun to write.
  3. From the Balcony — this was to celebrate K’s balcony view. Now that she isn’t living at the apartment with the balcony, it’s kinda beside the point. There are elements that can form the beginning of a post S6-fic, let’s see how it goes.
  4. Idle Winds — very angsty, a little autobiographical, has common elements with In Pieces, may be I’ll incorporated it there.
  5. Unmasked — another one I’ve been writing for 10+ years. Shouldn’t take too long if inspiration returns.

I need to retire from my job to finish all these. Sigh, I can wish.

in random words |

To be honest, it took me a long time to warm up to the prospect of going to gcls. If it weren’t for car’s persistence and enthusiasm, i would never have gone. My natural weariness about being recognised, being seen as different, having to be sociable and interact with people.

Turns out, I should never have worried.

I made friends. Bucketloads of friends. I met postie, and had such a wonderful time slipping back into the old accent. What a great mate, drinking buddy and friend. And CR, it was my privilege, what a smart and down to earth person. Folks I’d met already — RS, NS, TT. New friends like ML, LA, LL, too many to list. The big names in our community, KK, KG — there was never any pretension, any of that “I’m a best selling author and you’re nothing” nonsense. Well, there was one person…but such a minority.

People who won awards are actually friends. Not (yet) bestest best friends, I’ve only just made these friends and they have longer relationships with each other. But so welcoming. It’s more than I expected, way way more.

They’ve been an inspiration. I think I need to get back to writing. I’d like to have my name on that nominees list one day. Not too far in the future. I don’t think it’s unrealistic.

in going places , random words |

Today turned out to be a crappy day at the end. It started out well enough, with breakfast and then what KK called “kiss and cry” as good-byes were said. I packed and we checked out of our room. I even went to the membership meeting and … gasp … spoke out.

Just before our bus was due to pick us up the sky opened up. Heavy thunderstorm persisted till we got to the airport. We found seats in the crowded terminal. The flight was supposed to leave at 4pm, and the plane arrived at the gate at 4.05pm, so needless to say we were delayed. The flight wasn’t that comfortable, it was full and I scrunched into the middle seat.

Car was in pain and had been for a few days, poor thing. Her mom was at the airport. To add insult to injury, 3 out of 4 of our bags came but the last one didn’t. It was one of Car’s, but in a twisted turn, was tagged under my name. The agents checked and advised that it looked like one whole cart didn’t make it. At that point, Car and her mom went home and I queued up to register the lost luggage. About 30mins into the queuing, they told us they found the cart, and so we waited another 15mins for it to come out. Okay, nice, relieved. But I had 2 big bags plus my puma bag to haul home. Taxi time. I didn’t get home till almost 10pm.

in going places , random words |

The highlight of today’s sessions is undoubtedly the author auction, where selected authors get auctioned off to the highest bidder for the first dance at tonight’s award dance. I was as usual busy with videoing, even more so cos a couple of authors had confided their plans with me beforehand — so I could get into the best position. It’s good that the other camcorder was fixed so i could roam. The auction was hilarious, with costumes, muscles, lap dances, leather, heels and plain charm. I actually bid on one and won, but was too busy with my job that i didn’t collect. Heehee.

Quite a lot of free time in the afternoon, so postie and I hung out at the pool. Late afternoon it was time to get ready for the Awards Reception and Ceremony. I’d brought my pinstripe suit and M&S shirt — my best work clothes — which I spruced up with a pin, a pinstriped fedora I bought at Disney, and (lol) one extra button undone (still modest though). There were plenty of fabulously dressed people — the suave in tuxedos and suits and the elegant in cocktail dresses and heels.

gcls09227shoes Shoes got a lot of attention, from KK’s shiny heels to someone’s rainbow chucks. Mine weren’t bad either, I wore the silver acupunctures that are perfect for this type of function.

The awards were fun. Lots of authors i recognise. Rach from the vlr won 2 awards, one for debut author, i’m so proud of her. And for that I acquiesced when she dragged me to the dancefloor, although I only lasted just over 1 song. I think I made so many friends tonight it’s amazing.

in going places , random words |

This morning opened with the keynote address from JM Redmann, followed by a coffee chat. Both general sessions, no breakouts. I was videoing again, and paying attention to the interesting talks.

Lunch was provided, which was different from yesterday. Thing about having the conference at the Hilton is the proximity to Downtown Disney, and that there is a 24hour marketplace that sells drinks, sandwiches, snacks and such like. Perhaps the conference can provide drinks and snacks but I guess there wasn’t the budget for it.

After lunch was a session on romance together with lots of ppt slides. I wasn’t overly interested in the next block, but since Car wasn’t well and sleeping in the room and I didn’t want to go upstairs to disturb her, i thought i might as well go to a session. It was on writing series characters, which was pretty okay. The last session of the day I went to a fun and games — it was a hilarioius session of Jeopardy.


There was time to visit the vendors area where booksellers had set up stalls. There’s also a silent auction of goodies like books, posters, action figures, wine etc donated by various people.

Even more people joined for drinks at the bar and dinner. We decided to go to the House of Blues, there were 12 of us at the end.

The evening entertainment was pool and hot tub again, but not before we all sat out a heavy thunderstorm. The pool party was crowded! At one point at least 20 people were sat in the hot tub singing show tunes. I didn’t know any of them, so I left a little early.

in going places , random words |

The conference proper started today. It’s my first time, and I was a little scared. I stuck closely to the couple of people I met last night, and postie naturally. I had my big camera and my new camcorder in my backpack. Got talking with another participant with a camcorder, turned out she volunteered / was asked to record the conference. So I said I’d help too, and with 2 camcorders it should be better.

So I found myself a job and it made my life easier. Less lonely, less unsure of what to do and where to go. I can focus on videoing and photographing instead of talking to people.

I went to a session about writing a realistic beat cop, run by an actual former beat cop. Then there was a coffee chat, a readers’ panel and finally a session on sci-fi, fantasy and horror writing. All very interesting and fun.

As the day wore on, I ran into more people I know either from the reading last year, the vlr or on fb. I’m pretty surprised I actually know so many people (well, about 10). Joined up with a bunch of them for drinks at the bar then dinner at Downtown Disney, ending up at Wolfgang Puck Express where I had a spaghetti with tomato and basil.

After dinner we sat around the pool, just hanging out. Then a couple of them decided they’d go into the pool. So I went upstairs, changed and joined them. Then more participants came, and we had a pool party. Which got moved to the hot tub until lights out at 11pm.

There are many big name writers at this conference, and I’m only a wee little reader. That said, there was no feeling of arrogance, all of the writers seemed to be just regular people. Many of them have day jobs, which made them more down to earth I think.

in random words |

I went to an authors’ reading at women & children first bookstore. The authors, some of whom I’ve interacted with online, are all from one publisher. Car picked me up from PT and we had dinner at a nearby pub/restaurant. I had skirt steak with greek salad, it’s been a long time since I had skirt steak and it looked like a long kebab strip! Washed it all down with 2 glasses of blue moon. We debated whether the american 12oz glass was more than the british pint. Eyeballing it, I think the pint is more.

Anyway, we got to the store before the 7.30pm start and found some seats at the back. Gradually people, and the readers, filtered in. The event was great. Nice and relaxed. These are normal people, no airs, happy that their fans come to support them. Took a bunch of pictures too, I was only one of two photogs throughout the evening. Am extremely glad I took the EOS.

From left: Rachel Splanger, Jennifer Harris, Nell Stark, Trinity Tam, Cathy Rowlands, Anne Laughlin. Full set of 88 pics at flickr.

in 101.1001 , random words |


I’m so glad I made myself do nano this year, and was not too overly freaked out about it. I think I’ve learned a couple of lessons: a) I can write 50k words fairly easily and b) keep to reasonable wordcount targets. Looking back, nano 2008 is characterised by an almost laissez-faire approach. I actually enjoyed it. Naturally nano 2009 may not be the same, I may end up stressing about it, trying to get 5,000 words in every day. The standard has been set, that I finish no later than the 15th.

There’s a thread on the forums called “nano isn’t a chore for me” and I think this is where I find myself this year. I keep wanting to place a qualifier, that it is this year rather than all nanos going forward because I don’t want to jinx anything. I see a lot of people for which writing 50k words is very painful, needing word wars, sprints, write or die or small gifts to keep going. Well, bully for them and I really think that they will get a lot of satisfaction out of winning.

What keeps me going, and makes me return year after year, is the sense of achievement. And the sense of belonging (although I keep very quiet and never post in the forums) to a community. People ‘in the know’ when I mention nano, will immediately get it and there’s a strong bond when I meet another nano-ite. It’s a special feeling.

I know the quality of this year’s novel isn’t great, that I tend to use the same simple words rather than trying to think of a more appropriate description. But surprisingly, aside from not capitalising, the draft is in pretty good grammatical and spelling shape. I’m also easily distracted — I’d write 300 or 500 or 1,000 words and then I need to go do something like reading, check greader or play on facebook. This to me forms part and parcel of the whole experience.

And so, what until november 2009? I think I’ve written myself out of writer’s block a little. I will try to edit this story for publication — either at pens or change the names and…gasp, oh the pressure…go for real. I’ll need to finish those CM wips and dust off Atonement. Making it a 101 task was a brilliant idea, I think that was the final push.

Final official wordcount is 51,477. I have a bunch of winner’s badges, the certificate and of course the chart.


in random words |

It’s amazing how easy it is to not write. I wrapped up the story, condensed may be 10,000 words to just over 1,000. I suppose if I ever want to publish it, I’ll edit it and add in missing parts. There’s the placeholder in chapter 18 that needs to be written in anyway.

The story ended up more a straightforward adventure than psychological thriller. The romance element is very low and absolutely needs to be expanded. For a nano though, it’s remarkably coherent.

I’m flying to London tonight, so additional de-motivation to continue writing. I did most of the packing last night, only last minute stuff and laundry to do today. Plus running. 6km in 43mins, not very good form — my left leg hurts; strength training next week at the hotel I think.

So nano 2008 is done. Quite successful. The validation stuff isn’t due to be online at the site till the 25th, i have to remember to get that done. But now the wordcount according to word is 51,428 words and i updated the official badge.

in random words |


I woke up at 7.15am, even before my normal wake up time. It’s very annoying, this stupid waking up at weekday hours on a weekend. I did see an opportunity to spend lots of time in writing though. As usual I was distracted, but I made myself focus. Chapters 19 and 20 are long, with many sections. Easier to write when it’s broken down.

I got to 50k by 11.30am. The rest of the day was spent reading, bumming around online and mid-afternoon nap. No running, rest day today.

Initially i figured the story will be 70k words. I’ve kinda condensed the last few chapters so it looks like just 1 or may be 2 more chapters. I’d be lucky if the whole story comes in at 60k.

But hey, another nano won. 50,277 words

in random words |

Quiet day at work but far too distracted. Had dinner with mm, went for Korean BBQ buffet which left us extremely full when we left the restaurant. we walked for quite a bit, trying to walk the food off and so she could tell me about her day. I had to go running after I got home, even though it was already 10.30pm, because I was horribly over my calorie intake for the day. I could only do half an hour though — 32.30mins 4.53km.

I had about 800 words do write at home to get to today’s target of 45k. I skipped most of chapter 18 cos it’s the sex scene chapter — i wrote the beginning and the end and put a placeholder for later. i can’t write it now. About halfway into chapter 19, and got to my target.

45,248 words

in random words |

As per the last few days, about 1,000 words at work. Went home early cos I was bored. Running today was 6km in 42mins (7min/km), and a slightly new route. I like this distance, I was aiming for 5km and was pleasantly surprised when I did the sync and saw the stats.

Regular team conference call tonight so I did a push to get done before the call. I targeted getting at least the minimum 1,667 but I’m so pleased that I did more than 3,000.

43,316 words

in random words |

Attempted a little at work, managed may be 1,000. The target today is to reach 40k so when I got home and finished running (37.37mins 5.38km btw) I had just about 2,000 to do. The story is going okay, I’m getting bogged down a little, but it’s not unusual for the middle part of a story when I’m trying to balance between moving the story on and describing things in a little more depth. In a few chapters, that’s when the meaty part of the story comes in.

Needless to say, I got my target.

40,300 words

in random words |

I had dinner plans tonight, with ex-colleagues. I knew I won’t get home till late, so I hunkered down at work today and wrote one chapter. 1,800 words, which is kinda the minimum, but at least I got some done.

Felt full and bloated after dinner so went running for half an hour. This particular route basically taking the long way round the block is 4.1km, and again I did it in 28mins. A little quicker, at 6.48min/km.

Seems like my spare time is taken up with nano, running and planning for nano and running.

37,063 words

in random words |

I wrote for the first time at work, managing around 1,000 words over lunch. I had to go to my Sis’ for dinner tonight, she invited me this morning. So i had to make plans for all my evening activities.

Got home around 8.45pm, changed quickly and did a short run. 4.1km in 28mins, but I ran quicker than usual and broke 7mins/km for the first time.

At the beginning of the evening writing session I was at 33k, the target was to reach 35k. I’m at chapter 14, and things are just getting interesting.

35,201 words

in random words |

I wrote 7,000-odd words today, and it’s not even 10pm. I could continue, I have another 1.5hrs before bedtime and I can probably get another 1,000-1,500 words in. But I won’t.

I’ve noticed with this year’s nano, I’m much more relaxed and not pushing myself too hard. My wordcount goals have been very reasonable — around 2,000 to 3,000 on a weekday and 5,000 at the weekends. It’s not been a struggle to meet the daily targets. Am I mellowing out? I remember the obsessive push to write, write, write in past nanos. Seems to be overly easy this year.

The other possibility is that this is a good story. I have no doubt that at it stands now, it’s pretty unreadable and needs big time editing, but I’ve had this idea for over a year now, and the basis is good. The flow, the characters, the scenes…everything is in place.

The third possibility is that I have slowed down in terms of writing. I feel bad about it, that my productivity over the last 2 years has been low. But this means I’m not burned out, that i have plenty of inspiration and ability. Heh, I’m not really that bad a writer, you know. I have a modicum of talent and when the writing cells are rested, they can come out and do a good job.

I started slow, getting distracted by reading but managed to get to 28,000 by 2pm. Took a nap mid-afternoon and went for a long run. 7km, mostly at a steady pace and minimum walking. Came home, showered, made dinner and started bashing those words out. Finished 3 chapters altogether.

32,136 words

in random words |

I hate waking up on a saturday the same time as i would normally during the week. I suppose it’s the body’s routine.

I wrote steadily during the morning, breezing past 20,000 words. I had 22,000 after lunch.

Went out to buy another pair of Acupuncture shoes (50% off, more about these shoes in December) and then for 2.5 hours of body and foot massage. I’ve been stiff, and my legs feeling very heavy, since I came back from Chicago. So by the time I got home it was 8.30pm, and by the time I’d finished dinner it was 9pm. I decided to take a day off running too, there didn’t seem to be enough time to do both nano and running with the amount of time I had left this evening. How was I supposed to know I’d reach my target before 11pm?

25,106 words

in random words |

I used to be able to write at work. But this is a new job from the last time I did nano, a new company. Even though I sit in my own room, and today I had Pandora on, this has a different feel to my last job. Writing at work just seems so…not what i do here. May be I just need to try it one day. I was busy today, and when I have downtime I spend it reading online papers rather than wanting to write.

I had a conference call tonight. Luckily I was able to escape work early so I got the dinner, running and shower done earlier. I even got a thousand or so words in before the call.

I’m not going to bed yet, so I could have continued and gotten to 20k, but it’s the end of chapter 8 and it’s a good place to stop.

19,188 words

in random words |

I’ve settled into a routine.

  • i get home around 7pm
  • i get dinner
  • while eating i go through my feeds and do stuff online
  • i rest for 1-1.5hrs during which i continue to do stuff online or i try to nano
  • i go running — it’s been the same 5km route this week, I’m getting better at it and my time is slowly getting shorter
  • i shower
  • the rest of the night is nano

I only wrote for total 1.5hrs today, but managed a whole chapter of 2,349 words. This part of the story is relatively easy to write, there is a lot of material, scenes and interactions. I’m actually getting distracted as I want to constantly add padding — descriptions, characters’ thoughts — that are totally uncharacteristic of my writing style. Hee.

16,113 words

in random words |

I started late, at 9.30pm. Earlier during dinner I was uploading pictures from today’s team lunch, and then I went running.

I didn’t want to set an overly ambitious target, considering the time and how I’m likely to be distracted. 2,500 words seemed right. And I got it in less than 2 hours.

13,764 words

in random words |

I started at dinnertime, around 7.30pm. I went running after work, so that was one task out of the way before i sat down to write.

Part 4 was easier to write. The characters were moving about, they had a specific task to do, and there was conversation. I’m never happier when I’m writing dialogue.

Part 5 is a short chapter, only 1000-odd words, but I can’t pad it that much. It only has one scene, and it doesn’t flow with either part 4 or part 6.

11,206 words

in random words |

you get distracted too easily sometimes

This is what Car said when she IMed me to give me encouragement and I admitted that I was trying to write in between watching podcasts. Sigh.

Unlike past years, I’m not getting a lot of opportunities to write at work even though I do get google docs. It’s just that I need to…work…at work.

I got home at around 6.30pm and knew I had to do the following before bed: have dinner, roast the drumsticks for lunch tomorrow, go running, write, watch TAR. The instinct was to run, then do the rest. But after working out the available times, it was better to do the cooking while eating dinner. Then while I was waiting for the hour before I can exercise I can write and check greader / fb / all the rest.

TAR went out of the window cos my tv reception went bonkers. I’ll catch it on youtube.

See about all the distractions? Haven’t even described how I’ve written. I was aiming for 8000 tonight, but I guess 7700s is good enough.

7742 words.

in random words |

I woke up with mm snuggling against me. what a great start to the day. After dropping her off at church, I went straight home. There were lots of distractions today — not as many feed posts as usual which was good, but lots of activity on fb. I got tired after lunch and found myself on the couch at 2.30pm. Next thing I knew, I woke up and it was almost dark outside — it was 5pm already.

Made a quick dinner of bratwurst and salad. Was contemplating going for a run at around 7.30pm when my friend CL called — she is visiting on a business trip. We chatted for a bit, and then decided to meet up. So I took a taxi down to her hotel and we had something to eat. By the time I got home it was 10.30pm, and by the time I showered it was almost 11pm.

Still, with all the distractions I managed a decent amount of writing. The story is hard to write, harder than I anticipated. Even though I’d outlined all of it, the outlined chapters are too brief and I’m finding it a challenge to pad the words. I know that, because I’m not a detailed writer, preferring to skip whole scenes and descriptions. It’s a discipline to write about movements, thoughts or backstory that I may otherwise have left to the readers’ imagination. I’m on track though, which I’m pleased about.

5,766 words.

in random words |


I didn’t start writing at midnight even though i went to bed at 1am. I was really tired, very very hungry (didn’t eat anything after my run) and truth be told, i forgot about nano.

I seem to be doing a few unthinkable things lately.

I woke up at 4.30am, and I remembered then. After going through my routines — google reader, check email, facebook — I made a start on my 2008 novel. This year’s novel is a mystery/psychological thriller type.

I wrote sporadically for a couple of hours, then got tired enough to go back to bed. Woke up eventually at 10am and wrote some more. Got to 1,000 words before lunch. Took a break for running and shower, then had to rush out cos I was meeting mm.

I knew 5,000 words is too ambitious for me in my current weakened state. Anyway, I’d outlined 25 chapters, so as long as I get one chapter done a day, and 2,000 words per chapter, I’m on target. I need to shower and go to bed soon, so I’ll just finish today with one chapter.

2,208 words.

in 101.1001 , random words |

Something good came out of being jetlagged and can’t sleep. I ended up Friday night (well, Saturday early hours) writing a response to the fractured fairy tales weekly potluck challenge on the Bella/Spinsters Ink Books Forum. The idea is to create a new fairy tale or fable, “fractured”, or in our case, “queered”.

My first idea was to write one about Goldilocks, the jock, the femme and the baby butch. But someone else posted one about Goldilocks and the thick-haired bears before I even started. Sure, I could have written my version, but I didn’t want to seem like I was competing, you know. Especially cos the other entry was by one of the published authors, all of whom I feel have a superior status than us readers on the forum. I’m not complaining or anything, but my experience with forums is that any time an admin or moderator posts, it has more impact somehow.

It didn’t matter, there are so many fairy tales to choose from. So I started thinking about Cinderella, and it was so darned easy to queer it up. Give her a toolbelt and change her name to Dell, cos “Cinderella” is so girlie. Add 2 evil stepsisters (Lipstyck and Celesbyan), a sassy fairy godmother, a Princess Charming and instead of glass slippers, rainbow crocs. It was always going to be modernised, so I put in references to twitter, 2009 cars and Rachel Maddow. Hee.

And there we have it: Cinderella, Modern and Gay. I don’t think I’ve ever written a post so explicitly gay on this website, so enjoy it.

in random words |


I came out to my colleagues that I’m a writer. We were at this presentation skills workshop and the facilitator asked everyone to go around and introduce themselves. He included some interesting facts about himself but mostly people stuck to the boring name-job-how long they’ve been with the company-hiking/walking/scuba diving spiel.

So when it was my turn I told them I’ve written 20+ short stories and 5-6 novellas, explaining what a novella is. Then I told them about nano. The instructor remembered, and at the end of the workshop today he told me good luck.

I don’t think it registered to my colleagues. Not about the importance of writing to me anyway. Probably a good thing.

in random words |

125writing rules

Spotted via pick the brain, this cool poster.

So, what about these 12½ rules of writing.

  1. If you write every day, you get better at writing every day
    An interesting observation. Practice, practice, practice. I think it’s right, but I also think everyone has their limit or, to put it nicely, potential. No amount of writing practice will make me Hemingway. So the real question is, will I be satisfied with maximising my small potential, or will it be better to not fulfill it so I am under the illusion that I can make it bigger if only I tried harder? Hey, look at the view of the pyramids from here!

  2. Get a writing routine and stick with it
    This I agree. I know how difficult it is to get back on track once the momentum is lost. Work, other engagements and most of all, business trips, are the biggest culprits in my writing career.

  3. If it’s boring to you, it’s boring to your reader
    It goes without saying. If I am not invested in the story, how can others?

  4. Poetry does NOT have to rhyme. Poetry does not NOT have to rhyme
    lol poetry is “feel” I think. But who am I to say, I haven’t written poetry since I was in college.

  5. Resist stereotypes, in real life and in your writing
    Though, sometimes stereotypes work. Especially if they know they are walking, talking, fire-breathing stereotypes. The trick is not to deny that I’ve written a stereotype.

  6. Writers read. Writers read a lot. Writers read all the time
    The problem of course is reading more books that will improve my writing, rather than books I want to read for entertainment.

  7. Make lists of your favorite words and books and places and things
    Heh, I did that for a long time when I was younger. I’m glad I did cos I go back to those lists often.

  8. There doesn’t always have to be a moral to the story
    No. And sometimes there doesn’t need to be a proper story either.

  9. Always bring your notebook. Always bring a spare pen
    Notebook noteschmbook. Bits of paper will do.

  10. Go for walks. Dance. Pull weeds. Do the dishes. Write about it
    Just recently I had a thoughtflash on the bus and an idea for a story. So yes, it is possible to discover ideas from the mundane. Besides, I do my best thinking in places like the bus or the bathroom.

  11. Don’t settle on just one style. Try something new
    I’m not sure about this. Isn’t it better to get good at one style before trying a new one? Otherwise you’re spreading yourself too thin?

  12. Learn to tell both sides of the story
    For me, this is less important than Show, not Tell.

  13. (or 12½) Stop looking at this poster. Write something!
    Yeah, time to prepare for nano. There’s also a short story competition in my local paper, and a call for submission from the respected publishing house.

in easily amused , random words |

Sometimes I’m posting non-stop on food, or macs, or music. These couple of days, it’s been memes. Huh.

This one is a few months old, and I can’t trace its origins. The heading is the dialect meme, but it’s really to do with which version of English you most commonly use. Despite globalisation of the language, I find that it takes less brain power for me to use British words, there are American words I never get.

  1. A body of water, smaller than a river, contained within relatively narrow banks.

  2. What the thing you push around the grocery store is called.
    shopping trolley

  3. A metal container to carry a meal in.
    lunch box

  4. The thing that you cook bacon and eggs in.
    pan, or if I want to be more specific a frying pan

  5. The piece of furniture that seats three people.

  6. The device on the outside of the house that carries rain off the roof.

  7. The covered area outside a house where people sit in the evening.
    balcony, or if on the ground floor between the house and garden it’s the conervatory

  8. Carbonated, sweetened, non-alcoholic beverages.
    soft drink

  9. A flat, round breakfast food served with syrup.
    pancakes, but thin ones not thick American ones

  10. A long sandwich designed to be a whole meal in itself.
    bap. I know the answer is supposed to be sub, but that for me is short for either a submarine or a substitute

  11. The piece of clothing worn by men at the beach.
    swimming trunks or preferably please have them wear surfer dude shorts

  12. Shoes worn for sports.

  13. Putting a room in order.
    tidying up

  14. A flying insect that glows in the dark.

  15. The little insect that curls up into a ball.
    I have no idea

  16. The children’s playground equipment where one kid sits on one side and goes up while the other sits on the other side and goes down.

  17. How do you eat your pizza?
    um, knife and fork

  18. When private citizens put up signs and sell their used stuff.
    garage sale

  19. The evening meal.

  20. The thing under a house where the furnace and perhaps a rec room are.

  21. The thing that you can get water out of to drink in public places?
    water fountain

in random words |

Came across this on a bunch of writing LJs earlier this year. Now that it’s almost time to register for nano, I thought it’s timely.

  1. Three authors that have inspired or influenced my writing are:
    Brett Easton Ellis: Less than Zero in particular
    David Eddings who taught me the importance of telling a good story
    David Harsent: more known as a poet but his book From an Inland Sea had a mood that I’ve tried to create many times but without much success

  2. The hardest part of the writing process for me is:
    anything descriptive. I can’t write paragraphs and paragraphs of scenery or one person’s thoughts on the flowers in her garden

  3. One book I have always intended to read, but I haven’t yet is:
    the Count of Monte Cristo

  4. (True or False) I sometimes read non-fiction for pleasure.
    false. I’m afraid to say I have no patience for non-fiction. The only non-fiction I read are travel guides, which don’t really count

  5. (True or False) I came from a family that read a lot.
    true. I’m lucky enough to come from well educated families on both sides. My grandmother on my dad’s side was highly literate, in a generation some of whom didn’t know how to write their names. She taught me to read some quite complicated books even before I was a teenager

  6. My favorite movie adaptation of a book is:
    lord of the rings. I’d never be able to read the books, I tried. I know I’m not alone in this

  7. The most boring book I ever read all the way through is:
    none, if I find a book boring, I’d never finish it

  8. Poetry is:
    one of those things that’s just beyond my reach, like the word that’s on the tip of my tongue

  9. My favorite place to read is:
    where there is no noise

  10. The funniest thing I have read recently is:
    the guardian’s assertation it’s proven that teabags taste better than leaf tea because over 96% of British households use teabags. Get real! 96% of households use teabags because they’re convenient

  11. The most mind challenging thing I have read recently is:
    the independent article on consummation, very thought-provoking

  12. When I stop by my local library the librarians must think:
    did you come in here for the air-con?

in 101.1001 , random words |


They come to me in drips and drabs, but here are the first 20. The first 8 are my entries for the forum challenge. The winning entry was the first one.

It’s not exactly based on any real event or whatever, it was just a feeling. Symbolism, if you will. The idea is to create sufficient depth so the readers’ minds can take it to the next step. The other ones that I like are #15 and 20. And then there’s #6, which appeals to the geek in me.

in 101.1001 , random words |

For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.

Ernest Hemingway called this 6-word story his best work. In those concise few words, he told a story, but not the whole story. I think the idea is to introduce enough elements in order for the readers to interpret the story. Why were the shoes never worn? Miscarriage? Duplicate baby gifts? Why are they being sold? Where did this ad appear? The brevity and complexity are outstanding.

It’s a popular writing challenge topic. Blackbook magazine ran one in 2004, from 25 influential writers.

“Forgive me!” “What for?” “Never mind.” — John Updike

He remembered something that never happened. — AM Homes

All her life: half a house. — Jamie O’Neill

Wired magazine ran one for 6-word sci-fi stories.
Gown removed carelessly. Head, less so. — Joss Whedon

The baby’s blood type? Human, mostly. — Orson Scott Card

Corpse parts missing. Doctor buys yacht. — Margaret Atwood

Commas, see, add, like, nada, okay? — Gregory Maguire

Smith magazine took it one step further by asking for contributions to 6 word memoirs from the public. A book came out of that exercise.

Recently on a writing forum I visit, there was a 6-word novel challenge which attracted a lot of entries. This week I found out that one of my entries came in the top 3. Wow. The prize is a signed copy of a book by the author who posted the challenge. Except I already have that book, so she was very kind and promised me a signed copy of her next book.

It was fun to do, and I’m going to amend my 101 in 1001 list, replacing a duplicate entry with the task of writing 101 6-word novels. I’m going to post these on the 6wordnovel twitter account I created for this purpose.

in random words |

On the bus on the way to work I had a flash of an idea for a new story. This one may make it as a book albeit a small book. Sigh, I wish.

I’m debating whether to work on this or the fanfic I’ve already outlined for nano. Though, I’m being oh so optimistic that I can write something, anything. There’s the pressure of #23 of 101.1001, there’s the horror of missing another nano, there’s all the stuff going on this year.

Timely post by Nury Vittachi on book titles.

A friend called me yesterday to tell me he had writer’s block. He was writing something he was “almost certain would be a major bestseller”, but had come to a complete halt. “How far have you got?” I asked.

“I’m just working on the title at the moment,” he said.

“Yeah, but how much of the story have you written?”

“I’m just working on the title at the moment,” he repeated.

“You mean you haven’t written any of it? Well, what’s the title?”

“That’s just it. I can’t think of one. But I know it’s going to be a major bestseller. I have a feeling in my gut.”

I’m usually pretty okay with titles. I’m okay with first line and first paragraph. I just need to develop more discipline to continue and finish the story.

in random words |

Someone on the lj nanowrimo community reminded us that it’s only 4 months till nano 2008.

Sigh. I can plan to do the story that I was gonna write last year, or think of something easier. I really wish I have the time this year, and I also want to write something that has future publishing possibilities, how nice would that be.


in 101.1001 , random words |

It took me almost 3 months to write 9,000 words, which is kinda shameful if I think about it. I know I can do better but I’ve been in bad form for a couple of years. Still, I finished The Dressmaker’s Hands yesterday. It’s not a CM, cos it’s set in an undefined historical period and it’s too much of a cop-out to force coffee in there someplace. So I created a new category for these non-CM short stories.

The premise is based on the segment of the film Eros called The Hand. That film was split into 3 segments by 3 directors — Wong Kar Wai, Steven Soderberg and Michelangelo Antonioni. For me the segments decreased in quailty so by the time I got to Michelangelo Antonioni’s I was utterly bored. Anyway, Wong’s segment provided inspiration for my story, down to the title. It can be classified as erotica, with a small plot. I feel like a fraud every time I write a sex scene. By committing those emotions into words I’m implying that I know what I’m talking about. Heh. Will anyone believe me when I say all I have to offer is a good imagination?

Like I said, 9,000 words. Car said “so your entire story is shorter than one of my chapters, eh?” Heehee. Even more evilly, I’m posting in 4 parts because there are time gaps between each small part. In any event, my long stories are usually of 1,500 to 2,500 words each chapter, so I’m not deviating from my norm here.

in random words |


Atonement wins best drama at the golden globes. I have the book and managed the first page I think. It’s on my list of books to read. I haven’t yet seen the film but look forward to seeing it.

That’s not the point of this post.

Atonement is the title of one of my wip stories, the one based on Oldboy. As the film is part 2 of director Park Chan-Wook’s Vengeance Trilogy, and it deals with redemption and sorrow, I wanted it as the title of the story.

And now my dilemma is, in light of the similarities with Ian McEwan’s book and the (now famous) film, do I continue with the story title or come up with a new one. I thought about the alternatives but the best I could come up with is Screaming into Emptiness which suits the first part of the story and the underlying desperateness but doesn’t have the gravitas of the original title.

I usually don’t have much trouble with story titles. Generally I prefer ones that are simple but it’s not a criteria that it completely relates to the story. Common Areas refer to the objects and location that overlaps the two time periods — the apartment, the postbox, the common areas of the building. Lamplight was more a mood — that story ended up in a different place than first intended, so it’s hard to compare.

So, what makes a good title? I was interested to read that some classic books started with more … mundane titles:

  • Gone with the Wind was Tomorrow is Another Day
  • Lady Chatterly’s Lover was John Thomas and Lady Jane
  • The Great Gatsby was Trimalchio in West Egg
  • Of Mice and Men was Something that Happened

An interesting suggestion is that a title must appeal to the five senses. It must look (sight) good, is easy to say (speech), sound (sound) appropriate, be appealing / have influence (touch) and has a distinctive quality or atmosphere (smell).

I also came across some advice on the typical types of titles:

  1. a popular expression — The Usual Suspects, Good as Gold
  2. a play on words — Burglars can be Choosers, A Hearse of a Different Colour
  3. a hidden meaning later revealed in the story — Rain Man, Dances with Wolves
  4. from an existing work — The Grapes of Wrath, Absalom
  5. a person or character’s name — Hannibal, Forrest Gump
  6. a place name — Chicago, Jurassic Park
  7. a possessive — Angela’s Ashes, Charlotte’s Web
  8. an association of ideas — The Dead Zone, Misery
  9. an event or activity — Waiting to Exhale, Finding Nemo
  10. a memorable line from the story itself — The Eagle Has Landed, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
  11. a long title can have a rhythm — The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, At Play in the Fields of the Lord
  12. a simple title that fits the story — Roots, The Godfather

Anyway, this doesn’t help me much. I still need to decide if I could continue to use Atonement. The good thing is, the story is nowhere near finished and by the time it’s done the association with the book / film would be diminished with time.

in random words |

so, it’s the end of nano. Which I missed. I don’t regret my decision, but I’m determined to do a non-november nano before november 2008, if that makes sense.

What I do miss are all the graphs and icons I could be posting now. Ah sod it, I’m posting anyway.

p.s. yes I completed nablopomo, but it’s really no big deal cos I wasn’t doing anything I wouldn’t have been doing anyway. Now, to do a post every day for a whole year … that may be a little more challenging.

in random words |

one week till the beginning of November. There’s so many factors conspiring against my participation in nano this year:

• busy at work — the timeline is very tight and we don’t have enough resources
• there’s also that wee global system implementation on top
• need to go to singapore, australia and korea
• write the RKT Christmas story
• I’m almost certain my left hand can’t manage it, it’s been stiff and painful on and off depending on how much typing I do

But a part of me refuses to give up. I’ve got the story outlined — 25 chapters, average 2,000 words. It’s less ambitious than 10 chapters of 5,000 words that I usually do. I know exactly what I want to cover in each chapter.

I guess a compromise will be to do a 30-day 50k challenge, but not during November. Either January or February when things may get less hectic.

Sigh. What to do.

in random words |

After the stages of writing, here are some thoughts on the art of writing.

  1. cut the boring parts — this I absolutely agree with. Exposition and detailed descriptions are as uninteresting to write to me as they are to read.

  2. eliminate unnecessary words — I was interested to read this. I must remember to edit out words like very, actually and really.

  3. write with passion — would have thought it was obvious, write only what you are interested or invested in.

  4. paint a picture — oh man, yes! Show, don’t tell. Every time I read a story where the first chapter is a recounting of the characters’ backstory I groan in frustration. The backstory can be referred to *during* the story, and isn’t it better to reveal it slowly rather than give it all up in one go?

  5. keep it simple — as someone with a not very large vocabulary, I’m grateful for this tip. I use, but I generally keep to words I know. I also don’t like long paragraphs and for that matter, long chapters.

  6. do it for love — the article mentions writing for feedback. Sigh, I used to. And then I got used to having feedback. Then the feedback dried up. It’s disappointing.

  7. learn to thrive on criticism — one of the gratifying things about being in a writing group is that we beta each other’s stories, which has helped.

  8. write all the time — I try, I try. I have so many stories in the queue to be written, it’s finding the motivation. It’s not the time, I can always make time.

  9. write what you know … or what you want to know — true in a way, though I believe that one of the fun things about writing about an unknown subject is the research.

  10. be unique and unpredictable — and to be creative. How many of us wished we were truly creative?

in random words |

I should start thinking about nano. In the meantime, I found some writing tips. Here’s how to write faster, better and easier.


The article calls it a writing routine. I think it’s useful as a guide, and the steps seem to be common sense. Here’s my take.

  1. dream — no, having set times away from external stimuli do *not* work for me. Having scheduled creative time doesn’t work for me, ideas can’t be forced. Perhaps better writers can churn out ideas on demand, in which case all the better for them. I do concede, that when I put my mind to thinking about an idea *and* the circumstances are right, I can get some thinking done. Perhaps this is more the next step.

  2. idea — getting ideas through a new source like reading a new magazine, going someplace new, listening to different music. Basically pushing the brain to a new place. I buy this, and there are plenty of sites online to explore. The danger is, relying too much on the likes of me-fi,, stumbleupon for ideas and more often than not herd mentality creeps in. sometimes it’s recognising that it’s an idea and laterally thinking to make that idea more solid.

  3. plan — oftentimes new writers ask, outline or not outline? I definitely think it depends on: a) the writer; b) the topic; c) the story. Most of my long stories I outline — it works for me because I know I’m not forgetting stuff. some outlines are short, just a few dialogue or description randomly pulled together, sometimes I plan extensively.

  4. research — heh, I can’t imagine writing without google. may be it’s just fact checking, or a more extensive piece of research into a new concept. I have separate folders per writing project where I lump together links and stuff I’ve come across. Interestingly I can’t pre-research too much, I like the just-in-time approach to getting information.

  5. first draft — nano has trained me so I focus on writing and not too much editing. Well, in theory anyway. I find that I’m less bothered by unfinished sections of parts where more factual research is necessary. I’ve been lucky, my first drafts are usually in decent shape.

  6. type — I’d like to call this stage the initial edit. The article advocates writing the draft longhand and then typing it. I can’t do that for the following reasons: a) my handwriting is atricious, when I write quickly it becomes illegible; b) I type faster than I write; c) who writes longhand anymore?

  7. print — yep, I can’t read long stories or articles on the screen, it’s much better when printed. To save paper I print 2-up, double sided which means the font is tiny, but I’m fine with it.

  8. read out loud — sometimes I do that, but not all the time. It helps, especially with difficult passages.

  9. final draft — at this stage it’s pretty much done.

  10. quiet — this isn’t part of the plan, just a suggestion that quiet environment is better for writing. My tolerance for noise depends on what I’m writing; I usually can’t have music or loud noises. Quiet can also apply to a cooling off period between final draft and submission, to let the story settle.

in random words |

Shit. Damn. Fuck. Sod it.

Bugger. Bugger. Bugger.

I can’t write.

Is it November yet?

in random words |

I can’t believe I missed it. Bloggers jumped on the nano bandwagon and came up with national blog posting month. The rules were: “post every day for the month of November. That’s it. No cheating and backdating posts, either.”

Ack, if I’d known I would have done this as well as nano. It’s not so hard to post everyday. But I only found out about it yesterday. Sigh.

There were prizes donated by participants and even luminaries like Heather Champ — I’m not so bothered about the grand prize of 6 months’ free web hosting, but I’m kicking myself that I missed the chance to win a sock monkey, a phone tarot reading, a pack of Shuffle Up playing cards, a $25 voucher from thinkgeek, authentic barbecue sauce and dry rub rib seasoning from the famous Corky’s in Memphis, or the ultimate … nablopomo scarf.

Next year.

in random words |

I got my nano verified. I wished they’d open it up earlier in the month because I almost forgot. In the end it came in at 50,966 words. As usual winners get a bunch of pretty graphics. Our personal word count bar goes from green to purple and we get a bunch of icons we can use in our signatures. The profile page changes and finally we get a pretty certificate.

nanogreenbar nanopurplebar




But what I like most is the graph from the report card which I used to keep track of daily progress. It’s not that it’s a pretty excel chart, it’s just that I came to depend on it daily; and towards the end every 15-20 minutes, to tell me where I was going and how much longer.


in random words |

Don’t feel like writing today. Watched the Amazing Race and read a book. I think I’ll watch the film again over the weekend to remind myself of the mood and stuff.

Nothing much else to report, it’s been a meh sort of day.

in random words |

I noticed the “recent entries” list all start with nano, I may as well change november to nano in my diary. I revised my daily target to 2,000 words, and overall for november to 75,000. I don’t know if I’ll even get that far because I’m not writing Atonement nano style. eeeeep! Too much deliberation and not enough free flow writing.

I’ve also been distracted — I subscribed to a bunch of new channels on my broadband tv and have been watching those. sigh.

in random words |

I’m going to do a second nano, although it doesn’t strictly follow the rules — I am going to try to make some headway into Atonement, which I already have about 500 words written. I seriously don’t think I can write 50k before the end of the month because I will want to edit and think this one through. With the dark subject matter, I can’t use the dares either. The good (or bad, depending on pov) is I have a detailed outline. I’ll see how far I can go, 25k will be good though if I can get 50k I’ll be extremely chuffed.

My wrist is going to hate me, it’s just recovered. Oh, and I’ve hurt my back, can’t make any sudden movements. Tell me I’m crazy.

in random words |

These were the dares I took this year.

  1. Mr Ian Woon — the proprietor at a pub called “The Pub” frequented by the characters.
  2. Include an 82 year old lady who owns a sports team — Mr Ian Woon’s mother.
  3. Begin your novel with a character waking up to the sound of an alarm clock.
    + if the character is an MC
  4. Oh, it’s nothing that a cyanide capsule won’t fix — MC’s friend re: severing relationship with their ex.
  5. I am going to spork you to death — ch 6.
  6. Well, this is a good quality long, awkward pause — ch 3.
  7. Please don’t make me kill you — ch 3.
  8. All stressed out and no one to choke — ch 1.
  9. Salt/pepper shakers shaped like old coke bottles — ch 5.
  10. Have a character wear bright orange shoes
    Bonus points- if another character says “Those shoes are not approiate for back-stage wear.”
    Double Bonus points- if at the time of that stament they are nowhere near a threatre and neither character is an actor.
    Triple Bonus points- if another character says in responese “They aren’t even approiate for dating wear.”
  11. Have a character go into a restaurant and order ‘the usual’ — MC’s friend did that in Mr Ian Woon’s pub.
  12. include a scene in a park with a wildflower garden — MC and friend in Golden Gate Park.
  13. The only things one is allowed to throw out the window of a car in motion onto a highway (in California, at least) are water and chicken feathers. Your characters test this out — MC and friend again.
  14. Include a Spontaenious Chicken Situation — torture description.
  15. Include the quote “He’s not the sharpest light bulb in the bush.”
    Bonus points if the dialogue after that is: “Why would a light bulb be in a bush?”
    “Why do you think he’s not the sharpest one?”
  16. Have cryptic messages written on cars in the dirt/dust/possibly scratched into the paint pass by the main character randomly. Bonus points if they have nothing to do with the plot — I had a forest green Range Rover with random messages, but I forgot after 3 appearances.
  17. Include a sign that says “Don’t touch this sign, Edges are sharp” in big bold letters, and then under it, in smaller print, it says the speed limit. And at the very bottom of the sign, in very small letters it says “Bridge out ahead” — in NY
  18. Include a note in a library book with it’s last page ripped out — turned out to be a major plot point.
  19. God comes to save the MC, but he decides that he doesn’t believe in God, so God leaves, and the MC is in big trouble again — ch 8 dream sequence.
  20. 15 chickens appear somewhere in your novel — yet another major plot point, how MC and friend met.
  21. Have someone die in a tragic laundry accident — ch 6, minor character.
  22. Include a character named Lorelai Mary Sue Sunshine Twinkle Tap Dance Sparkles in your story — imaginery friend of son of said tragic laundry accident victim.
  23. Use the word defenestrate in a sentence in context.
  24. Include a woman wearing a fedora — server in Korean restaurant having an All Beef Special Cowboy promotion.
  25. You’re making up a diease now — ch 5.
  26. Heaving bosom — ch 6.
  27. The world’s going to come to a very quick end if you don’t shut up — ch 4.
  28. Have an MC shout “Don’t look at me, I’m naked!” while walking the street — ch 1 recap.
  29. “Good morning!”
    “It’s too early to be morning.”
    “You’re right. It’s way too early to be morning. This time of day is stupid.”
    “Good stupid.”
    “Good stupid!”
  30. Include a character who will only eat the slices of bread at the ends of the loaf - ie the ones that are all crust — pizza.
  31. There were bagpipes involved — ch 3, random chat talk.
  32. It tastes like concentrated EVIL — ch 7, airline cocktail.
  33. Use the word waffle as a verb.
  34. Someone gets a tattoo removed — a major event in ch 6.
  35. Have a trailer (not a double-wide, a small one) in which every inch of the interior is covered with Christmas decorations.
  36. No shit, Sherlock.
  37. Incorporate an Asian woman, dressed as Bozo the Clown, riding on a Harley.
  38. Have one character tie up another character with a rainbow scarf — not exactly tying up, just talk of it. Epilogue.

Dares I wanted to take:

  • You learn more if you don’t knock.
  • I like you. You smell responsible.
  • Dinner is ready when the smoke alarm goes off.
  • Remember my name — you’ll be screaming it later.
  • You, me, whipped cream, handcuffs. Any questions?
  • I bought some powdered water, but I don’t know what to add.
  • I like you. You remind me of when I was young and stupid.
  • I was trying to daydream, but my mind kept wandering.
  • My mother is a travel agent for guilt trips.
  • This isn’t an office. It’s Hell with fluorescent lighting.
  • Have a character who works in a casino with a name taken directly from the Bible. Bonus points if the casino was in fact built on the old site of a church.
  • Char A: “I like girl brownies but not boy brownies”
    Char B: “What makes them boys or girls?”
    Char A: “The boy brownies are the ones with nuts in them!”
  • “Pumpkin bowling is part of the gay agenda!”
  • Include the invisible pink unicorn in your novel.
  • Have your characters mourn the loss of a restaurant.
  • “Just get in the coffin.”
  • Have a character watch an Underwater Pumpkin Carving Competition.
    BP if said character participates.
    DBP if the water is around 47 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • “Grumble grumble growl hiss bitch whine piss moan…”
  • “Why be difficult when, with a little effort, you can be impossible?”
  • “I didn’t go invisible again, did I?”
  • “Black holes, apparently, swallow up entire universes, planets, and galaxies. Isn’t is wonderful?!”
  • Include a bakery that has bread on display but refuses to sell it.
    +BP if there is a sign outside saying something like “Bread - $1 a loaf”.
  • General Systems Error: Please sacrifice two chickens and a goat to continue.
  • “I’m really sorry, but my IQ is over eighty. You wouldn’t be interested.”
  • “Please don’t eat my hat.”
  • Find a way to use the phrase “podcasting amateur cartographer” in a non-humorous way.
  • “You make me want to pull out my ovaries and beat you with them.”

in random words |

I finished the story off, skipped most of what I had in mind for the final chapter and made it the epilogue. Added about 100-odd words and ended it. I could have drawn it out, may be gotten another chapter of 5,000 words, but it didn’t seem worth it.

Two options going forward: 1) start training for the 10km run; 2) do a second nano and write 50k for Atonement. Both options are good, perhaps I can try to combine them.

in random words |

I wanted to continue and finish the story, but it’s like all motivation had been sucked out of me today. I’m still fighting the very painful left wrist; it’s wrapped in a wrist brace now, and actually resting it on the mbp is okay in terms of support, except my finger movements are kinda restricted. I finally remembered I have an ice pack hidden somewhere and it’s now in the freezer — can’t use it till it’s gotten to the right temperature though.

To make matters worse, when I looked outside the window this morning the air was an extremely ugly brown and I knew pollution levels would sky-rocket. Needless to say I started sneezing almost immediately. The first 60mg of terfenadine didn’t do anything and I had to take a second dose before lunch. And now I feel the effects wearing off and am contemplating a third 60mg. I just took 2 panadols, may be it’ll help a bit (how?).

All this whining is an excuse for not writing a single word today. Sigh. I was also thinking of making a start on Atonement, but I won’t do that until I’ve either finished the nano story or decided to shelf it.

in random words |

I reached 50,000.

Today was my niece’s birthday so I had dinner with my family at the yacht club. I had written may be two sentences at work, which didn’t count. Dinner was early so I got home about the same time as I would have normally, given how busy I’ve been recently.

Wrote for about 15 minutes while waiting for the hot water, showered, then really started at about 9pm. I was counting every 15-20 minutes, I had about 1,800 words to go till the target. I rushed through the last few sections, there wasn’t much of a plot for this part of the story. The whole point was to get to 50k.

This wasn’t much of a chapter in terms of moving the plot forward — though to quote Chris Baty’s book, plot, what plot? The last chapter especially, though I can see why it could be there, if I were serious about the story, it’ll have to be seriously edited. There’s another chapter to go before the story is fully completed. I’m not sure if I want to, but the option is always there.

Just before 10pm, the word count in Word is 50,051 although the official nano site verified figure is 50,035. It doesn’t matter, I got to 50,000.

My wrist decided to be very painful tonight, so I think I’ll reward myself by taking it easy.

in random words |

I suppose it’s inevitable. That I’d hit a small wall eventually. Busy at work and got dragged out to lunch, so I didn’t even have a chance to open the files, grrrr.

Started writing at 8.30pm and was extremely distracted, lethargic and just plain bored. Really wanted to read a book or to troll the nano forums. But word count beckoned. I had to resort to stopping every 15-30 mins and counting words, to make myself focus on the writing.

Oh, and padding. The obligatory dream sequence made an appearance, followed by a brief analysis of the dream (repetition is a wonderful word count booster). Food as well, a description of a lengthy dinner served on a long haul flight added quite a few words — the flight was business class so there were more courses and more choices, heehee.

I may have either lost some words or I entered an interim word count incorrectly. It doesn’t matter, I stopped at around 11.45pm. Almost finished.

Hands and wrists — not too bad today, just the left one still cracking like nuts but not too painful.

47,635 words.

in random words |

I got to 39,000 at work today, I was able to sneak in some time in between meetings and running reports and doing general stuff.

I’m beginning to spend more and more time on the nano forums, probably due to boredom and the need to do something for a break. There are over 36,600 participants who have entered word counts and I’m on the third page when I query a listing based on word counts. The rate I’m going, and based on my vaguest of vague outline, I may end up in the 60k words mark for this story. That is, if I continue with this after I get to the magic 50k.

I started writing at about 8-ish and finished at around 11pm.

Hand update — left wrist is stiff, plus the back of the hand too. New today — similar pain is developing in my right wrist though it’s more concentrated in the wrist area and not the whole hand running up my arm in the case of my left. Typing badly too, more typos than usual.

42,801 words.

in random words |

Another ghastily busy day, what’s worse is that it didn’t get busy till the afternoon. I got home just before 8pm. I was able to write a few hundred words at lunch — but didn’t get round to counting exactly how many.

Was quite focused when I finally was able to sit down and start. Wrote for about 3 hours and finished at 11.45pm. I suppose I can continue to get to 37,500 (75%) but chapter 6 is just done. Someone on the forums recommended that we don’t end a writing session at the end of a chapter or section, so that when we start again we can pick it up immediately at when we stopped. heh, different styles I guess.

Someone also classified wrimos into roughly 4 categories:

  1. those who enjoy taking on the dares, the challenges, and writing as much silly stuff as they can; padding is a game, and writing nonsense is half the fun
  2. those who hope to turn out a fairly reasonable first draft of a story, though they aren’t too concerned with preparing for it
  3. those who write fanfic
  4. those who have a specific idea of writing something they hope to polish later and send out in submission to publishers

There is heated discussion between the groups, and a certain amount of disdain for someone not in a particular group. There are those who do nano strictly for fun; and there are those who take it very seriously.

I thought I was a category 2, but I’m definitely a type 1 this year. I am serious about my participation in nano, witness my basically telling everyone to leave me alone, but I’ve never been concerned with publishing or in this year’s case, even wanting to read it again after I finished. Is it a waste of energy, a painful wrist and all those words? Not really. I know now that I can do it, year after year, and that’s why I like it so much.

Painful hand report: today is not too bad. Mostly my wrist.

37,237 words.

in random words | | comments (2)

Busy at work, I think I wrote like 30 words only. I was even working at lunch and didn’t leave the office till 7pm. Took me an hour to relax, have dinner and shower. I started at about 8.30pm and finished at around 12.15am. It’s not going too badly, the story is at a point where I know it makes no sense, and this is one story i will not permit anyone to read.

The discomfort in my hand comes and goes, the only thing that bothers me is that it gets stiff and cracks like a nut.

32,634 words.

in random words |

I felt fine today, no ill hangover effects remaining. Set myself a target of 22,000 words by noon. I was may be 5 minutes late, got to 22,082 at 12.05pm. I’d had a craving for ham & egg sandwich earlier, but since i didn’t have any bread, that was out. Anyway i made a 2-egg ham omelette for lunch.

The next target was 24,000 before going out. I wanted to go for a walk, and I needed to go to the supermarket anyway. I got to that target too.

The next target was 25,000 before starting to make dinner. I was horribly distracted, kept wanting to watch a dvd or read a book and a friend IMed me also. But 25,000 words were done before dinner. For someone who just went to the supermarket I didn’t have much, so I had vegetarian noodles.

After shower and more distractions, I really sat down to pound the rest out. The logical target would have been 30,000 but it seemed too much, and mentally it was a huge barrier. I had revised my target to 28,000 for the day. Wrote in splurts for the 2-3 hours after my shower, and now I’m on a new document in writely.

I finished at 10.30pm and I’m pleased with my progress. Not forcing myself or typing for hours and hours has been good for my hand. It still hurts but for someone who is more than halfway done, it’s in tolerably good shape.

28,245 words.

in random words |

Woke up 10-ish, and should have stayed in bed. Was soooo tired and sleepy. I think I can’t drink that much anymore (heehee). Couldn’t get the energy to do anything but sit at my desk and surf around the internet, wishing the paracetemol will work quickly. Finally relented at 2pm and stretched out on the sofa for a nap. The weather is definitely getting cooler cos I needed my duvet.

Woke up at 5pm and felt a little more awake. Had the rest of the roast potatoes that I made a couple of days ago and realised I didn’t have lunch. Heehee.

Wrote for an hour or so until it was time for Survivor. Then another hour and a half afterwards. I’m quite pleased that I’m able to get enough words so I can stop at around 11pm. My hand is still stiff, but not too bad, considering today was short bursts and I had some rest.

20,554 words.

in random words |

Everything I wrote today I wrote at work. We had a wine and cheese party which went on for a long time, for a few of us. Then I joined them for dinner at this Thai / Vietnamese place. It was fantastic, but now it’s like 12.45am the next day and of course I’m way behind the quota for today. Plus a little bit drunk! heehee. I’m gonna be hungover tomorrow morning.

15,042 words.

in random words |

Wrote again during lunch, and during the afternoon at work. The target was to reach 8,000 by the time I left the office — I got to 8,100.

I know this isn’t good writing, it’s borderline stream of consciousness loosely held together by the semblance of a plot. The good thing is, I’m still not done with my chapter 2, so it gives me buffer for later chapters. I could push myself and finish it tonight, but I won’t. I’m taking it easy and not making myself write every waking hour. It’s just before 11.25pm and I’m calling it a day. My left hand will surely thank me.

There is a thread on the nano forums called “this is going better than I’d hoped” and there are people who actually finished! Looking at the author list, there are a lot of people who have exceedingly high word counts. Ah well, I’m happy. This is the most I’d written after 2 days.

Someone also posted a site where we can test our typing speed. I scored 76 wpm, which isn’t bad. That’s speed typing to a printed text and doesn’t include the creative thinking process that is writing. When writing, on average I’m doing 1,000-ish words an hour.

In other very distracting news, November 26 things is up. eeeeeep! I want to make it a reward for finishing nano as early as possible.

12,136 words.

in random words |

I started around 12.10am and wrote for just over an hour. I got to 1,061 words before I went to bed, I thought it was a good start.

Wrote at lunch and sneaked in a little time during the afternoon, the aim was to hit 2,000 words at work, which I managed to do.

The inner editor is still in control, I was re-reading and making changes, capitalising and keeping to nrmal punctuation and spelling. I’m hoping that it’ll go away by the weekend. I’ve now vaguely outlined 10 chapters plus an epilogue so it’s the usual 5,000 words per chapter target. Talking about target, I’m officially setting 2,500 words a day when in fact I want to hit 5,000 a day.

Yes, it’s now just after 11pm and I’ve decided to stop for today. I could be getting another hour or so but I’m trying to avoid burnout. More importantly, I’m trying to rest my left hand, no surprise that it’s hurting already, sigh.

The routine is — write in writely, save doc in mbp, save in flashdrive, email to myself. Update xls, update nano site, write post.

6,031 words.

in random words | | comments (1)

nano 2006 starts tomorrow, or 0.01am if I’m still up by then.

I’m woefully unprepared this year compared with last. I have no plot, just a feeling. No pretty mindmap with all the characters’ details. No characters actually. *shrug* I was organised and disciplined last year, but get too caught up with other things (vacation, Christmas RKT project) and forget to backup the finished product and BAM! flashdrive malfunction and the whole thing is lost. So organised and disciplined is out. Let’s see how it goes.

in random words |

I kinda knew it, but now it’s happened so many times I have to acknowledge it.

I can’t write when I put music on or if there’s any more than ambient sounds. I need the quiet.

Oh, and a little wine helps too.

in random words |

I missed the news, even though it doesn’t matter for me, writely is open for registration again.

I adore writely. It has become my wp tool of choice, even though it has fewer functionalities than Word. I’m addicted to its clean interface, autosave, tagging, online access and collaboration features. The only feature I want is to be able to edit my stored collaborators list because I made a typo on one and I’m reminded of it everytime.

Apparently Safari and Opera support aren’t quite there; if they want to be a niche player, it’s these little things that need to happen The lemmings who use Windows and IE are probably Word users, they generally don’t want to venture out of their little comfort zone and try fun stuff like macs, firefox and writely. (see how I steer the convo to “macs are great” so smoothly?)

May be I’m being selfish, but I wanted it to stay invite only, and in beta, for as long as possible. Don’t want it to be diluted by too many users, you know.

in random words |

Woke up this morning and the person in my writing group who was supposed to post today was sick, and couldn’t post.

We mobilised quickly, got one of the writers who was supposed to post in 2 weeks’ time to swap; and put together a quick “we interrupt your regularly scheduled programming” announcement. It was great teamwork.

In chat this morning were a couple of newbies, teenagers. Came in and went crazy with the emoticons, so we put them on ignore. They whined and complained that we weren’t talking to them. So we did … raised a conversation topic and asked everyone to discuss. Then they complained that we were using big words. OMG that’s so hilarious. One of them in particular was rude and tried to shock. We worked pretty well together as a group to let them know in no uncertain terms that their behaviour was unacceptable.

I mean, come into a chatroom for the first time, the most important thing to do is to listen for a while to get a feel of the participants; and then be polite and respectful. It’s the internet, but manners are important too.

The baiting was so fun that I stayed home and didn’t get a chance to run my errands before needing to go out again.

in random words |

I saw blurb for the April fools challenge a couple of weeks ago and have been thinking about it. This challenge is where you specify yourself how many words you want to write in April. The only criteria is to go on their forum and say “My goal is xxx words.” You can write anything, in any language … the idea is to set a challenge for yourself.

Not going for the 50k like nano, don’t think I have time. I’m beginning to get some of the motivation and inspiration back, so I think that time permitting, the next few months will be okay for writing. I think 20k is workable.

in random words |

Came across this in a couple of LJs, to review your own stories for 2005. I know it’s a bit late.

Stories I wrote :

  • 7 CMs: Educating Dawn, Indulgences, French Nature, Juste Milieu, Working Lunch, Heatwave and She’s Here
  • 5 challenges: Blanked, Home & Away, All the Time in the World, Song of the White Lady and Sex & the Clean City
  • 2 collaborations: Earth and Highland Fling
  • 1 finished long fic: The Amazing Kitten Race
  • nano: I got the required 50k within 2 weeks, but lost most of the story in a flash drive accident

My favorite story: Earth for its impact and power. All the Time in the World for its sweetness and because it’s a continuation of CA and because of how quickly I wrote it.

My best story: Earth, it touched on a subject a lot of people don’t want to think about, let alone read in a fic. All too often fics are fluffy and idealistic, and of course they have a happy ending. Nothing wrong with that, most readers want to read to escape, not be reminded of RL. I know Earth was a difficult read, but my hope is that it managed to affect people, make them think, in ways that an ordinary fic couldn’t.

Best received I think was Episode 10 of KR, where they went to Sydney and dressed up as Smut Bunnies. Everything worked that chapter, like maru said “the stars were all in alignment.” Of course having a kickass co-writer was the reason.

Story most under-appreciated by the universe, in my opinion: KR. It had a dedicated following, but was probably too clever / obscure / fact-heavy for mainstream tastes. Towards the end, the snark and snark-on-snark may have gotten too inside joke-y.

Most fun story: hard to say, I can’t write fun or humorous. Blanked I suppose, I had a good time writing it and the humor worked.

Sexiest story: strangely enough, it isn’t Highland Fling although it’s basically a sex romp. I would say, Working Lunch. There wasn’t any actual sex in the story, they sat across each other in a restaurant for the entire story, but the intent was clear.

Hardest story to write: Earth. Reading it caused all sorts of emotional responses (my beta read it once, cried rivers of tears, and said she won’t read it again until I have the entire series finished), think about how it was to write. I had to pull on all sorts of personal experiences to write it.

Looking back, did you write more fic than you thought you would this year, less, or about what you’d predicted? Much much more. This was my first year writing, and I never in my wildest dream thought I’d write so much. Sometimes I think I’m burning out.

What genre/topic/fandom did you write that you would never have predicted in January 2005? A short story from Dawn’s pov; a reality show crossover; so much smut.

Did you take any writing risks this year? What did you learn from them? Difficult to say, considering everything was something new for me. The riskiest was probably getting a group of the best active writers together and collaborating on a series. Elemental turned out to be of such stellar quality, beyond everyone’s expectations that it’ll be hard to repeat.

Do you have any fanfic goals for the New Year? Get myself out of my current bout of writer’s block. Don’t put so much pressure on myself to write, which is the main contributing factor for the block. Try to finish Lamplight.

in about me , random words | | comments (1)
You Should Be a Film Writer
You don’t just create compelling stories, you see them as clearly as a movie in your mind.
You have a knack for details and dialogue. You can really make a character come to life.
Chances are, you enjoy creating all types of stories. The joy is in the storytelling.
And nothing would please you more than millions of people seeing your story on the big screen!

in random words |
My mind is filled with patterns of thoughts that would consume me.
Three hundred pages of emotions crush me in painful delight.
I will take any token that could sustain me,
Just tell me where I should hang my boots.

in random words , techtalk |

Not even the manufacturer could retrieve the data from my dead flashdrive, so the nano is gone. I was trying to act blasé but it’s tearing me up inside. I keep saying it’s crap, but at least it was crap that I wrote and that perhaps one day I could return and edit. I was proud at how fast I wrote it (15 days) and I suppose I have no one to blame but myself for not backing up.

After various back and forth emails, imation was kind enough to send me a replacement flashdrive, since it’s still under warranty. Brand new, of course, and it’s blankness will surely mock me.

in random words |

Pretty graphics. First and foremost the ubiquitious little green bar that is so mesmerising. The nanosite introduced this cool flash profile screen where it tracks your progress, the progress of your writing buddies and shows an excerpt of your novel, all in a nice flash animation. I did a screengrab. The chart is from the report card.




in random words |

My thoughts on nanowrimo.

It was a new thing last year, when I discovered it. I can’t even remember how, but it was almost too late. I pushed myself, I had a lot of support from mm, and there was a huge adrenalin rush when I finished.

This year, I started on time, I pushed myself initially, but when I got to 20k by the end of the first week, the thrill was almost gone — there was never a question that I’d fail. I don’t even want to go to all the trouble of editing, designing the cover, and printing a copy this year.

I know that this year’s story is not as good and the writing is more workman-like, it started well, there were some nice passages. Then it got bogged down in repeated hashing of similar themes. In other words, it was a good, averagely nice piece, but there were no flashes of brilliance.

I’m better at writing now. In between last year and this year, I started writing and posting fanfic. And I joined an online writing group. Being associated with people I now consider as friends (even though I never met them personally and have only had voice conversations with a few) because of common interests and shared sense of fun. There must be something dorky about people who spend an inordinate amount in front of a computer, and are home on a weekend night, that they want to congregate together.

The concept of writing buddies on the nanosite is good too. We can mutually encourage each other, and secretly compete against each other.

Will I do it again next year? In the words of Magnus Magnusson, “I started so I’ll finish.” I can’t imagine not adding 2006 to my list of nanos won. Don’t want a break in the ol’ record, eh?

in random words |

List of dares taken and used.

Dares I used:

  1. Mr Ian Woon - the Director or Mortal Remains Transportation at Air Trans Pacific.
  2. Include a pastry chef - that's Chef Harley, who Sam hired at short notice. Chef Harley used to work at the Hotel McFine, before that under the legendary Sugar Mary at the Three Marys restaurant.
  3. A young character who is obsessed with a certain college/university - that's Sherry's kid sister, who is obsessed with University of St Andrews cos that's where Prince William attended.
  4. Have a character contemplate death while eating a ham sandwich - Sam's flashback to 3 years ago, after the accident.
  5. Have a character with silver hair - Sister Dorothy has short silver hair.
  6. "Bad wolf" - Melody's description of Abe, at the party. justin's dare.
  7. A walk-on gets hit by a speeding bus, gets up, dusts themselves off, and walks away. Bonus points if only the MC sees it - Melody sees that at the pizza place, a skateboarder is chipped by a bus but he just walks away.
  8. Have a cameo of one of your online writing forum friends (Nanowrimo site or other sites...), but don't tell them about this cameo until Nanowrimo is over - I included cameos for the entire group (12 people).
  9. A character who keeps a journal, but instead of writing the date, writes the number of days s/he's been alive - Sam does that.
  10. Include in your story at least once an entire LJ entry that your MC writes that gets accidentally erased. Double points if you also include the replacement post. Triple points if after both those, s/he decides not to post anything, and just keeps it to themself - yep, Sam did that too.
  11. "Great googly moogly" - Sam to Melody re: sensationalist journalism
  12. Kitten poker - in the same conversation as "great googly moogly."
  13. Death by penguins - more sensationalist journalism.
  14. Murder a character with a tomato. Poison is okay, multiple tomatoes are okay - speculation that Wendy was trying to poison Roy using poisonous tomatoes but was poisoned herself.
  15. Two characters engage in a debate over which is better/more useful/whatever, a scarf, or a towel - flashback of Melody arguing with Abe.
  16. Ken's Deli Connection - where Sam bought lunch.
  17. "You aren't a college student until you've seen a vending machine pushed off of a 4th floor balcony... Call me when you get to college." - Melody talking to Emmy at the pizza place.
  18. "That is just so wrong on so many levels." - Melody to Sam about the tomato poisoning speculation.
  19. "There's a bomb in the lasagna!!" - Abe making his entrance to the restaurant.
  20. "Gosh. You're such a Juliet." - Melody teasing Rob about how he liked to keep his skin soft.

Dares I took but didn't use:

  • Have a character die in a freak trombone accident.
  • Include a character who is obsessed with pencils, and who, if he/she does not have a pencil on his/her person at all times, will have a mental and emotional breakdown.
  • Someone who loves their computer and carries their laptop everywhere. And if they run out of battery in the middle of their adventure and don't have immediate access to an energy source, instantly throw a fit. Same goes for someone who is addicted to their mobile phone and can't get a signal.
  • Have a character who refuses to speak.
  • Have a character who treats an inanimate object as pet (talks to it, gives it a name, etc.). Bonus point if it's something really random, like a fork or a chair.
  • Have a character who wears a variety of witty shirts, but gets profoundly pissed off when s/he sees people staring at his/her chest. Works best for a female MC, obviously, so bonus points if it's a male. Double bonus if it's relevant. Triple bonus if the char wears a shirt that says "STOP STARING AT MY SHIRT!"
  • Have one of your characters wear 7 wrist watches on his hand.
  • Include a character that brags over minor accomplishments. "I got a great parking spot at Wal-Mart today." And they must really brag, like they're actually proud of it.
  • a character that only eats purple things.
  • Have a scene focus on winning a stuffed toy at a carnival
  • Have an adult character go into a restaurant, strip, then put on a bib. Make them claim to be a messy eater.
  • Have your MC try threaten to kill another character with a spoon. When asked why a spoon, the MC must answer with "because it would be painful."
  • Write a scene where your MC defends herself or himself with pepper spray.
  • Include an animal stampede through the busy streets of wherever your story is taking place.
  • Have a bank robbery interrupted by a second bank robbery in the same bank. Have the thieves try to rob each other.
  • Have someone say "the case is afoot!" and "elementary, my dear Watson" but your novel cannot be a mystery.
  • Have an argument between at least two characters over a teddy bear.
  • Have one character hide something incriminating and against Christianity in a Bible/book on religion.
  • Smash up a computer.
  • Include a funeral to which nobody wears black, as per the expressed wishes of the deceased before he/she passed away
  • A book is passed among the characters. Must be passed on to at least 5 characters
  • A jar or bottle of grape jelly must appear in your novel--at least five times.
  • Have someone refer (at least three times) to oversteeped tea.
  • Have the recurring theme of a ticking clock.
  • "Fire bad, tree pretty."
  • "I have no idea. No one ever tells me anything."
  • "Now, if I really wanted to stalk someone, it wouldn't be him."
  • "But you CAN'T do that with a fork."
  • "Stop being an ass magnet."
  • "I'll get to the pomegranate later!"
  • "Psh. I hate being a Nun. I wanna be a pirate!"
  • "Hello kitty has no mouth"
  • "It's so cold I'm getting goose nipples!"
  • "This is the worst headache I've ever had in the history of my head."
  • "You can't have a relationship based on cereal preferences!"
  • "What the muffin?!"
  • "Bitch, do you keep your brains in your glasses?"
  • "It's purple, and it's shiny, and really quite stylish."
  • "I wish there was something like ice tea... but warm."
  • "I am going away! We just happen to be going away in the same direction."
  • "She's a baby, not a bomb!"
  • "My hands smell like onions."

in random words | | comments (1)

I finished.

I had the dinner party, but focused too much on the food and not enought on the character development or dialogue. *shrug* I just wanted to get it over with. I don't think the story is as good as last year's, hence the blaséness. Having said that, I'm less stressed than last year. I took the last few days easy, no more than 2,000 until today. My wrists and hands are a little sore, but defnitely not as painful as before.

There are things I had planned, a little cliffhanger at the end, more about the poisoning in Australia, more about Rob's big change, Melody wanting to be a nun, the restaurant opening, Ruby going on Survivor, and definitely more on Sam and Melody patching up their marriage. But the ending presented itself, and I wrote it, and c'est fini. Did one spell check, I'm not bothering with the small caps and editing. Don't think I'll look at it for a while.

Official nano count is 50,141 words, though on Word it's 50,129. Either way, it's over 50k.

in random words |

Almost there.

A hellishly busy day at work, yet another project landed on my desk this morning, and the timeline is tight for this one. It’s interesting but I wish there were more guidelines about how to do these projects, every time it’s like starting from scratch. So now I have 5 projects:

  • global performance evaluation project

  • set up and implement functions in a medium sized country office

  • same in a smaller office in another country

  • a survey system

  • new confidential m&a project

Got home after 8pm, retrieved the delivered goods from the supermarket, quickly made dinner, then conference call at 8.30pm. Sigh, I used to work till 9 or 10 and it’ll be fine, but those were my “aggressively climbing the corporate ladder” days. Not anymore.

I only have one scene left, of the dinner party, right now the guests have just started on the appetizer.

48,209 words.

in random words |

Steady, for the weekend, progress. A thousand odd words. I could push myself and get the 4,500 I need to get to 50k, but why the unnecessary stress? I have may be an hour before bed and I might write more, but I’m stopping my today’s word count now. They are at the restaurant, trying out the new food, next chapter is the last, and it’s all about the dinner party.

45,508 words.

in random words |

Long day, and as expected, not productive. I’m getting into some funny typing habits, not putting capitals at the beginning of sentences or names and expecting to be autocorrected when I type “nto” instead of “not”. At least I haven’t used the “will not”, “I am” and “do not” padding tricks. Yet.

Got another thousand odd done today. Better than nothing.

44,040 words.

in random words |

Went out for dinner and then spent most of the evening checking the board and group, went to bed without writing any more. All I did were the thousand odd words I wrote at work.

42,517 words.

in random words |

Last year, I finished by day 9, so having a nano day 10 is a new experience for me. But then I was under such a tight and unrealistic deadline last year, and my boss was away so I shut my office door during the day and wrote like a maniac.

This year there isn’t the need to push myself like that, and I’m trying to enjoy it a little more. It’s been so busy at work that I haven’t been able to write anything. I even went out for lunch with my colleague so I didn’t have spare time at lunch.

My left hand is hurting a lot, the most it has since I started nano. It’s mainly the little finger on my left hand, if I type too long, it feels very numb and there is painful tension where it joins my palm. My left wrist is also not in very good shape. Somehow I wished it was my right because I have a wrist brace for my right hand (which is fine, no pain). Why didn’t I buy both braces? Silly me.

I feel myself slowing down, I know the 50k is up and I know what the final 2 chapters are about. But I need to get there first. Chapter 8 is filler in a big way. Melody goes to the clinic with Rob and most of the chapter is descriptions about the procedures and side effects of Rob’s treatment. This is the sort of chapter that will get pared down or totally deleted if/when I come to edit.

Still, I should have reason to be proud. 41,371 words.

in random words |

Between conference call and missing the first hour of the 2 hour TAR special (meaning I have to watch it from the top again at the repeat showing) I had less than the normal time to write. I’m still on chapter 7, but managed to finish it tonight.

I’m not in a nano-ing mood, but I will keep working hard the next few days. I changed the timing of the events somewhat so I can have them earlier, and I can write about them. I realized I’ve basically written it so the 50,000 words take place over a week, but there are events that will take place the week after, so I might even continue after I get to 50,000.

36,063 words.

in random words | | comments (1)

Distractions getting worse and worse. I can’t write for more than 20 minutes at a time before I need to do something else, even if it’s clicking on another website, getting a drink or something. I’m also pretty tired, need sleep. I’m also feeling a little sorry for myself, nothing in particular, just a general malaise-y feeling. It could be the stupid weather, which has decided to become warm again.

33,224 words.

in random words |

Caught up to what I should have been at when the weekend ended, so I guess I’m a day “behind”, but I won’t think about that. Downloaded the nano report card which is an excel spreadsheet that gives a pretty chart, and predicts when I would get my 50k, at the rate I’m going. 12 November, that’s what the report card is saying.

28,136 words.

in random words | | comments (5)

The weekend target was 5,000. But I only started after 9pm tonight and I’ve been horribly horribly distracted. On the nanosite they’re saying the weekend is the best time to write, but it’s the opposite for me, too much happening, I need to be at home with nothing on my mind.

I’m not so bothered though, I can work harder during the week.

22,525 words.

in random words |

I wrote an amazing total of … 180 words. It isn’t even worth uploading to the nanosite or to justin’s site. I had g13 conference in the morning and we met up after her yoga for a teatime snack and body massage. I was tired and the 2 hours was well spent. Had a simple Shanghainese dinner and reached home just in time for Survivor. Hee.

I’m tired. I was going to write a little but I’m going to bed.

So today’s word count is a paltry 20,247 words.

in random words | | comments (3)

The first chapter without a meal in it, the conversations and descriptions about coping with bad bad news from abroad took longer, and the strain filled breakfast I had in mind will get shifted to the next chapter.

She’s here tonight, and she is soooooo supportive! I decided to trim my weekend quota from 5k daily to 5k over the entire weekend. If I write more then it would be a bonus, but I want to spend some time together, and I don’t want to get all stressed about it.

20,062 words.

in random words |

My left hand is beginning to hurt a little, ouch. Plus I was SWAMPED at work today, attended an interesting presentation by an overseas visitor, ran a bunch of reports, put together a step-by-step guide on how to run these reports, sent out an invitation for next monday to do a demo of the system to the group, polished up the proposal, did some analysis on another project. I literally worked through lunch, didn’t have time to read anything or, worse of all, write.

Got home later than usual, by the time I sat down to start writing it was almost 8.30pm. Today’s chapter is split between Sam and Melody’s pov — they both make an effort to have dinner at home, to find some together time. There’s a little cliffhanger too.

12.54am. 15,022 words.

in random words |

Only wrote about 1,300 words at work today, I was for a change busy working on an impromptu proposal for my boss, something that should not be any of my concern but she needed help. Had a 9pm conference call and TAR was on at 10pm.

Still, chapter 2 is done. This one is from Melody’s point of view. 10,148 words.

in random words |

I started just after midnight. I’d been rushing to get my Holiday fic finished and I cut it real fine, finishing that one about half an hour after my self-imposec deadline. 11,000+ words, unedited. When I want a break from nano, I’ll go back and edit it.

Wrote about 350 words before tiredness overcame me. I usually need a break after I finish a story but this time I went ahead without one. Plus, I’ve been staying up late. So I decided not to be a nano hero and get some sleep on this first night.

Wrote a little during work. Busy day, I could only manage a little at a time. A few paragraphs before lunch, a longer section at lunch, some more just before I left for the day.

My aim was 5,000 words before bed, I’m at 4,664 right now, but I have another half hour or so before I’ll start thinking of bed.

justin made a cool little page so a group of us can log in and compare our word counts. Thanks, justin.

ETA: 1.41am. 5,327 words.

in random words |

nano starts tomorrow, so what better to post about than books?

When a book makes the Time 100 Best novels from 1923 to the present, it’s pretty much made it. Obviously some people disagree, and Matthew Baldwin at the morning news compiled a list of reviews from amazon that gave those books only ONE out of FIVE stars. Makes me wonder if I was reading the same book as these reviewers.

The Grapes of Wrath (1939)
Author: John Steinbeck
“While the story did have a great moral to go along with it, it was about dirt! Dirt and migrating. Dirt and migrating and more dirt.”

Lord of the Flies (1955)
Author: William Golding
“I am obsessed with Survivor, so I thought it would be fun. WRONG!!! It is incredibly boring and disgusting. I was very much disturbed when I found young children killing each other. I think that anyone with a conscience would agree with me.”

The Sun Also Rises (1926)
Author: Ernest Hemingway
“Here’s the first half of the book: We had dinner and a few drinks. We went to a cafe and talked and had some drinks. We ate dinner and had a few drinks. Dinner. Drinks. More dinner. More drinks. We took a cab here (or there) in Paris and had some drinks, and maybe we danced and flirted and talked sh*t about somebody. More dinner. More drinks. I love you, I hate you, maybe you should come up to my room, no you can’t. “I flipped through the second half of the book a day or two later and saw the words dinner and drinks on nearly every page and figured it wasn’t worth the risk.”


in random words |

nanowrimo 2005 launched today. Well, it was more like they added a new announcement on the main page. What’s so funny is they have to disable registration temporarily because of one of their servers exploded. Hmm.

Am I doing it again this year? I doubt it. I had time and energy and inspiration to write last year, this year I’m so distracted with other projects I won’t have the focus to sit down and ignore all my friends and churn out another 50,000 words.

in random words | | comments (1)

I feel restless, like the spring weather.

Sunny one minute.

Cloudly the next.

Heavy showers erupt with no warning.

And then disperse just as quickly.

My need for self-discovery is as unreachable as the quickfire flash of lightning.

It roars at me as loud as the crack of thunder.

I wonder if this will be a hot summer.

in random words |

People are telling me they like my writing, this is happening more and more. Everytime this happens I feel like I want to hide, or blush, or deny vehemently. All I know is, I like doing it, I wish I can be better, I wish I’d learnt more, read more, be more perceptive, all those necessary qualities needed to be good.

I wonder how I read? I can never tell. Do I come across as ponderous? Whimsical? Quiet? Am I better at narrative or dialogue? What aboue descriptions? Characterisation? Pacing? I have no idea.

So, really, how do I read?

in random words |

The nano book arrived. I got off the taxi from the airport, dragged my bag up the steps and the porter at the management office told me I have a package.

I collected the rest of my mail and when I got home I showed mm the package and asked her to guess what it was. She got it in one.

It’s here!

The white edges of the cover showed up, I wonder why they told us to use their template if it was going to be like that. Otherwise the formatting is great, the font may be a bit too large, the margins too. Well, it just makes it easier to read.

I read the first chapter, it’s a different feel, reading it on the screen or on a bunch of printed A4 paper. The feel of reading it in book format is completely different.

Like it should be better. I haven’t read it in nearly 2 months, and I must say, in book form and re-reading it now, it’s not that good. The whole chapter needs to be re-written and tightened up.

But I’m not going to. I don’t intend to publish it. I want to leave the rawness and blemishes there, keep the energy and the knowledge that I wrote all of that within 10 days.

in random words |

From writers weekly, via, a website I came across on the wordpress support forums today while looking for examples of people using WP as a cms, to display entries and articles like the way I use MT for the non date-based sections here.

This grabbed my attention:

Think NaNoWriMo was tough? WritersWeekly has a 24-hour version.

For the pleasure of spending $5, prospective writers can register for a 24 hour short story contest run by WritersWeekly, a freelance writing ezine. The contest starts noon (Central Time) on 9 April and only 500 people can participate.

Unlike nanowrimo, this one actual has prizes — top 3 prizes are cash $200 - 300 plus some goodies. There're also 20 honourable mentions and 60 randomly drawn prizes. So the chances of taking something away is quite high, especially if not all 500 participants manage to submit.

The topic and wordcount requirements are emailed to participants at the beginning of the contest, to prevent people pre-writing. That's cool.

So now the dilemma is — should I enter? What will I be doing that weekend? Isn't it that week we planned to go away? Can I write on the fly like that?

Looking at the WritersWeekly website more closely (first time I've heard of it), it's owned by a POD company that charges writers like a few hundred bucks for the privilege of being published. With the recent comments on the nano forums about people's dubious regards for this sort of enterprise, it kinda leaves me a bit skeptical of the company. But then again, it's just a competition, I can disregard what the parent company does, right?

Eep, it's already nearly 50% full.

in random words |

I discovered, through the nanowrimo forums, that *2* copies of the book was ordered. I know one is my "order", but who was the other? It seems like the people at may have ordered a copy, may be for their records?

Anyway, I think it's pretty wise of them. According to their instructions, I set the royalty to zero, cos I haven't read it properly and not edited. Once I edited and am happy, I can get an ISBN and set the price properly and all that, or I could retire the book. So they're getting it at cost, just their own printing costs, and before it disappears. Yep, it's real clever of them.

Do I mind? Do I think they're being sneaky? May be they should have told us, but then they gave us this great offer of free printing, I'm okay about them having a copy for whatever reasons they have, as long as it's not made too public. Then again they have thousands of books, so it'll probably get buried.

Which is fine finey mcfine by me.

in random words |

I finished editing the book already last week. Used the preset 6x9 template and copied the text into it.

Set the margins to 1", justified text. Debated on which font to use, the template came with Garamond but I really don't like serif fonts, so I used Verbana.

Formatted for each chapter, indenting the paragraphs, this is new to me, haven't done indents for ages and ages. But paragraphs at the beginning of each chapter and after each section break don't have indents, so it's a matter of manual formatting. Yuck.

Each chapter title has its own page, on odd pages, so, more formatting.

The footer on text filled pages has a top border line and page numbers, but the blank pages and chapter pages don't. So more formatting and manual page numbering. Total page = 190.

Fun with Word, yeah.

Then to design my own cover. Played round with various colours and, surprise surprise, background is dark blue. The image uses one of the photoshopped versions of the Nice chair. Spent some time writing the backcover, not that easy.

Created an account in lulu, uploaded the content. They usually accept .doc but I converted to pdf already, after a couple of mishaps with embedded fonts it was loaded successfully. Then loaded the front and back covers as jpg.

Then picked the spine.

And I'm done. ID is 98805.

in random words |

I'd noticed it already, but a) didn't think I'd get it edited on time and b) had reservations about publishing/printing a draft copy. But I looked and looked and thought and thought.

So finally I decided, may be I should.

For nanowrimo winners, they've been able to negotiate 2 offers, one from iUniverse that costs USD309 and includes printing, cover design, 5 free copies and listing on the likes of amazon. Deadline 1 March 2005.

The second from lulu is less sophisticated, but it's free (in US, Canada, I think for countries outside they only charge postage). The catch is the author has to do all the formatting, uploading and cover graphics.

I don't want to pay $309, though the idea of having a listing on amazon and is tempting.

The offer from lulu has a deadline of 15 Jan. And since I haven't started seriously editing, I didn't think I could make it.

Then it occured to me, just do as much initial editing, get rid of typos and yucky parts, and get a copy in my hands. Why not? Cover design? It's not like I'm a complete beginner at Photoshop, shouldn't be too hard, especially when they have ready made templates already nicely sized.

So, next project. Finish editing. Finalise cover design. Add the front pages. Format the body. Send it off and get a nice printed, bound copy.

Gotta get it done by this weekend though.

in random words |

From yahoo news.

Irritating words of 2004 include: flip flop when used as a verb, improvised explosive device or what once was known as a bomb, carbs, "You're fired", uber, wardrobe malfunction, blog, body wash or what used to be soap.

These are taken from the Lake Superior University Banished words list.

Strangely enough, some of the banished words have been voted words of the year by the American Dialect Society. Words like blog and the 2003 entry, metrosexual.

Just to show, each to their own.

in random words |

This from yahoo news.

This year's most politically incorrec term is master/slave, which some find racially offensive.

Which is true, given the phrase's historical context and how totally unacceptably slavery was.

So how come it's returned to semi-mainstream vocabulary. I don't mean using it in D/s situations because that's a whole area the mainstream is not ready for and by its nature, politically incorrect anyway.

Apparently some computer idiot coined the term to describe primary and secondary hard drives. Just what sort of insensitive geek would think of this term, the mind boggles, why not use primary and secondary drives?

Other politically incorrect terms mentioned include "non-same sex marriage" to describe heterosexual unions, "waitron" for waiter or waitress and "higher being" for God, which only makes me think of Cordelia Chase, hmmm.

in random words |

Or, how I wrote 50,000 words in under 10 days.

SPOILER ALERT: If you want to read the novel and don't want to be spoiled, don't read this post cos not only is it long, it does give the ending away.


In the beginning there was an average person who liked sports (played basketball in school but gave it up once work started), a little music (was forced to learn the piano at a young age), acted in a drama or two (strictly amateur stuff at college) and writing.

It was writing that held the greatest interest, and there are small black notebooks of random scribblings, lyrics and other stuff.

Years passed and projects that were started were abandoned.

Then came fanfic, which was devoured by the truckload. And then writing fingers started to itch. Lo and behold, lots of ideas but not finished. The only finished fanfic had just over 2,300 words written over a long weekend inspired by an imaginary real incident.

Then came the discovery of nanowrimo by accident. It was 21 November 2004.

The mission was to write a minimum 50,000 word novel during the month of November. Start writing on 1 Nov and finish on 30 Nov. From scratch.


It was already the 21st, that left 10 days. Other people had had nearly 3 weeks' headstart.

So what? Just try. It's not a competition, word counts are entirely controlled by self discipline, at the end, "winners" get a nice pdf cert, some icons they can use as avatars, and a sense of self satisfaction. But someone can submit the same word 50,000 times and it'll get through.

Here's how I did it.


Day 1. Sunday night.

The idea was hers. I told her about the challenge and she immediately came up with the premise. A woman loses her fiancé just before the wedding, goes into deep depression, only sees him in her dreams so she takes to sleeping a lot. Her work suffers, her friends are worried, not sure of the ending, may be eventually she stays in the dreamstate and joins him, ie leaves our reality.

I did a quick calculation, 50,000 in 10 days = at least 5,000 a day. Considering I was in the middle of writing Common Areas and it's taking me anything from 3 days to a week to write a chapter target of 1,500 words, that is a tall order.

I start thinking about it but I haven't made a start. I created a separate category in the original writing section though, each part will be an entry.

Day 2. Monday.

It starts of with an examination of what is normal. She is a normal person, with normal ideas, past, ambitions. I want to emphasize the normal-ness of it all. That tragedy can hit anyone anytime.

The beginning of the dream is also normal. The couple wakes up, brush their teeth, have breakfast, go to work. I imagine a suburban house, an average looking office, nothing is supposed to be out of place.

The phone ringing in the dream brings us back to reality, she struggles to get up, and go to work. I have her working in a bookstore, cos it's the best I can come up with, it's not that original but nevermind. I introduce a couple of co-workers, nice people who are concerned about her. There's a small side thread about their effort to buy out the current owners.

She falls asleep and has another dream that starts off in soft colours and hugely romantic. Then suddenly it goes pear shaped and he appears on the bed in what I imagine his state was when he got killed.

The middle of the chapter is padding, I took some wordage on stages of grief and added her thoughts about each step.

Finally it's a bit of backstory about how the dreams started and what she has been dreaming about so far.

Scene to remember, one that I bring back at the end of the story: they meet for coffee (in the dreamscape) and the first words he says to her are,

"For some reason they don't have brown sugar, normal white ok?"

Day 3. Tuesday.

The most obvious place to start the next part is her thinking back at the nightmare. This is followed by the friends going to a club and meeting more people. I don't want so many characters, but there has to be a few other characters apart from the main ones.

By part 2, we already know the name of our MC, who is Katy. The dead fiancé is Brian, the co-workers are Fatima and Rusty. I introduce a few more, Mei Lan ("their circle's nearest impersonation of Jenny Shimizu"), Daria van der Tak (an attorney introduced by Mei Lan) and Conrad (a pretentious git who pretends he's a high flying financier). Conrad disappears after one more appearance, but Mei Lan and Daria really evolve as characters, by the end of the novel they have fairly major scenes. So much so that it's probably possible to base a future novel off these two characters.

I might change their names though. At least Mei Lan's, which is a blatant attempt to pad the word count, by using a two-worded name. I didn't make so much use of the van der Tak though.

There's a second side thread about how Katy is struggling with Brian's employer about beneficial interests of his insurance, pension, 401(k). That's why she needs an attorney. I did a whole lot of research on the net about the rights of common law spouses when it comes to cases like this.

For US, it depends on state. There are 11 states (plus Washington DC) that recognise common law marriages to the extent that the parties live together, act as if, and represent to the world-at-large that they are married. The intention to be married (like registering, booking hotels etc) as well as proof of intent such as loan applications, joint accounts, deeds are used when the courts need to determine whether or not a common law marriage exists. A good point is, there isn't usually a need to determine unless it's a case of will contest, divorce proceedings or wrongful death claim.

So she has an arguable case. I haven't presented whether they lived together but the apartment is certainly in their joint names. Plus the wedding's arranged, they have the license already, the intent is certainly very strong. The way I see it, because there's no will, there has to be some hoops to jump through before the probate is finalised, but unless there's strenuous objections from his family (conveniently, his parents have passed away and he has no siblings) or other claims, she has a claim.

Made a start on part 3. This is the part where everything starts off well but then unexpected people keep turning up and unexpected things happen.

They got their financing from the bank manager and have a party to celebrate. Lots of people come, more chance to develop the minor characters. Lots of feel good factors there.

Day 4. Wednesday.

After the good comes the bad.

After the party Fatima's mother suddenly shows up demanding money and gets dismissed. Needless to say she will be back again to wreak havoc.

Some boys causes small damage when they overturn a jar of marbles. This actually happened that time I was at Forbidden Planet once, these things rolled everywhere and took a while to recover.

When Katy gets home she finds a letter addressed to Mr and Mrs Brian and Katy, which causes a mini-breakdown. Which leads to a dream.

Then comes the first of the Very Important Dreams. No longer normal every day dreams of brushing teeth, this time they are somewhere symbolic, at a railway station, with Brian supposedly leaving, for somewhere. She doesn't want him to leave and appeals to a nearby angel, who refers her to

"the Woman Upstairs"

Part 4 starts with a visit to the cemetary. It figures that she visits him regularly, perhaps making it a ritual. The touching of the name on the headstone is inspired by Paths by Justskipit, I hope I'm not infringing on any copyright there.

She said to me I have to include some scenes that describe their lives together, I didn't want to do flashbacks but I did make her do some reflective thinking.

Day 5. Thursday.

I'm bad. I'm surfing the net and writing during the day. At work. Yikes.

I surfed around the nano website and ventured for the first time into the forums. Came across people who were finished, others who were behind. But lots of encouragement.

And Dares. Oh my, dares. Ideas, preposterous situations, challenges, apparently a tradition. Some seem impossible to incorporate but as I read through the thread I copied the ones I thought were promising. I went back to the last 2 parts and incorporated some of the dares. It's fun.

The third side thread, about Mei Lan's growing feelings for Daria which gets revealed when she and Katy have lunch together. I find it easy to write Mei Lan, and to a certain extent Daria, much more so than Katy, who seems a bit too depressed for me.

A fourth side thread, where she blurts out that she had a one time affair, which is supposed to set up future scenes of guilt, but not really utilised at the end. Deep down, probably just my inner smut kitten wanting a little attention.

Wrote the first part of part 5 which is the dinner party. Shameless padding where I put in planning the menu, the actual recipes and stuff like that. Katy and Fatima plays matchmaker to Mei Lan and Daria.

What Mei Lan wears, a ruffled Pirate Shirt, I got the idea from Master Will, who was wearing a Poet's Shirt at that first moonlight party. Didn't want to be that extravagant, and found a pirate's shirt at amazon. The wide yoke and the criss crossed laces at the front were so perfect, shows off a bit of cleavage too, hehehe.

Day 6. Friday.

One of the Dares is to include Thanatos, the god of death. I did some research, mainly at wikipedia, on this god and Greek mythology on the whole. Perfect. Thanatos had a twin, Hypnos who was the god of sleep. Even more perfect.

Thanatos and Hypnos will appear in one of her dreams, how fitting is that?

I wanted to explore a bit more about the Woman Upstairs and Take-charge Katy's demands. So I stick them in a waiting room and make them go through an interview with a panel of "judges" to see if their demands are met. Kinda like St Peter at the Gate.

I have the 2 gods, then I decided to add representatives from other species, like aliens, humans, animals, robots. Couldn't figure out the animal part, but the robot the obvious choice is the one from Metropolis, the original robot in the original sci fi film by Fritz Lang. I asked my non sci fi focused colleague about aliens and she came up with Superman. Great, cos he can represent humans too.

The interview scene was surreal but very easy to write. The whole idea, and that wasn't actually done very well, is that the interviewees see whoever they want to see. So the penguins before them could have been interviewed by others, and not this particular bunch. I named the panel the gods and robots goon squad.

I wrote most of this at work. Bad me.

Had to go to a dinner Friday night, missing precious time. I was pretty angsty at that stage, all too aware that I was running out of time. And my temper was bad too.

After dinner when I got to her place I wrote a little about the aftermath but that was it.

Day 7. Saturday.

My first full day for writing. And it did not go well.

I was too distracted by my usual places. Fanfic, fanfic, fanfic. Plus WaTchers and The Chosen had new eps which I'd missed. So I was reading them, or surfing through wikipedia. No good at all.

A whole morning and afternoon and all I managed was writing about going to the con, that's after reading a whole load of material about Comic Con, tarot stuff and scraping the bottom of my mind for anecdotes.

Luckily at the back of my mind I'd already been planning for the next downturn — of the bookstore being broken into and vandalised. CSI experience became handy. What I didn't realise was that Fatima's mother turned out to be the culprit which will lead to Fatima leaving. I know now why people sometimes say characters have a mind of their own, I didn't expect Fatima to leave.

Again the ending of the story came from my best girl, who suggested that Katy runs into a double of Brian at a Christmas fair and they talk but this new person has different personality to her Brian and things happen that may or may not be good.

So I was desperately calculating. At the end of Saturday I was at 33. I can't have the Christmas fair until at least 40, preferably 45. I have the Woman Upstairs issue to resolve, at that stage I had no idea who that woman is. That's towards the end of the story, not till the mid- or late-40s. So I have something like 10,000 words I have to fill and no new scenes.

Day 8. Sunday.

Was a very hard slog that I got through by sheer determination.

I took out a character mentioned early in part 1, her therapist, and wrote in a visit. I wrote in a replacement for Fatima which led to a little sci fi trivial pursuit. The funniest line, when Rusty says to Mei Lan, "I'm sure Daria will go ga-ga for your Lara" when they were talking about costumes. Plus of course the significance of both 42 and 50,000.

Then a Dare of putting a recipe for chocolate cake somewhere in the novel, as an interlude. Did that.

Still not enough words. So I used another tried and tested method. Katy writing a letter to Brian to express her feelings. It was long and rambling but it summed up her feelings.

A further interlude, again thanks to my inner smut kitten, of my version of truth and dare, they took turns describing their first sexual experience. Oh I'm bringing out the clichés now.

Day 8. Monday.

I had my office door closed for most part of the day.

Which brings me to the first of the dream finales. The gods and robots goon squad make an appearance, and she finds Brian. They have a night of perfect sex.

In the shadows of candlelight that shone unabated, they danced the slow dance of long lost lovers, as if it were the first time, or their last. It was not a greeting, nor a farewell. It was simply a finding and also a closing. For they had cast the circle now, and a circle had no beginnings or endings.

Aaaannnd I'm at part 10.

The Christmas market, again backstory and padding.

Then she spotted the guy, the one who looks like her Brian. But it was just a glimpse, under the influence of a fair bit of alcohol.

I'm at 45,863 when I leave the office, just over 4,000 to go.

The second part of the dream finale was easy, it's all about the carousel in the room that I've always dreamt about. They get on, it spins faster and faster and they get to the place where souls are judged. They meet the goon squad again and still there are no answers.

I know now who the Woman Upstairs is, it's no one, or rather, it's Katy herself. That in order to get over the grief, to learn to live again, and all that psychobabble stuff, she has to face herself.

The only person who can help her is her

So I write in a bit where she faces off with Thanatos, because ultimately it is his show, this journey is all about facing death. At the end when she is having the argument with him, and the others try to intervene, she says,

This is between Death and me.

and then finally,

"I am the Woman Upstairs, look at me."
The face in the mirror was her own.

So I got to 48,000+. And I knew there was only the one little ending scene, more of an epilogue. And I was around 1,000 words short. Damn.


I took her back to the market to finish her Christmas shopping, I gave her a small flashback about a winter coat, I made her think about the ending of the dream.

Then I told her,

She truly believed she would not dream of Brian again. Though she was saddened by the thought, it was not as devastating as she expected it to be, nor did she feel guilt at that realization. He had gone on ahead, euphemistically, with Thanatos, although she was sure he gone some place upstairs.

Heaven, if you will.

It was time to move on.

The last scene would be better off in an epilogue but it's only 290 words. She runs into the double guy and the first words he says to her are,

"For some reason they don't have brown sugar, normal white ok?

And I'm done.

in random words |

Dares claimed and used:

  1. Mr Ian Woon. Done. Part 3. He was the bank manager who approved the small business loan that Katy and Fatima needed to buy their bookstore.
  2. Include the line "Mummy did love me! Mummy was just busy. She had a lot of meetings to go to." Done. Part 3. Fatima's mother said something similar when she barged into the store demanding money.
  3. One character asks what time is it and the other answers 4.30. Done. Part 3. In the dream sequence at the railway station Katy asked Brian what time it was twice and both times it was 4.30.
  4. A stone armadillo painted bright pink, except for its head, which was purple. Done. Part 3. Same dream sequence had an angel stroking said stone armadillo on her lap.
  5. A religious object falls on a character and after they discover what it is they say "holy shit". Done. Part 3. A jeweled crucifix fell on Katy and she wonders why an object from the vampire section was hiding among the lightsabers.
  6. A character puts a bag of popcorn upside-down in the microwave, the popcorn then explodes. Done. Part 4. Brian did that one movie night.
  7. Have a character pass out after eating an apple. Done. Part 4. Mei Lan's date at the bookstore party did that, but we only heard the incident mentioned afterwards.
  8. Refer to something coming upon your character "like a mugger in Central Park, up from behind and scary as hell." Done. Part 4. Party animal Mei Lan used it to describe her burgeoning feelings for another character.
  9. Include a completely awkward love/seduction scene. Done. Part 4. She had a one time thing with a co-worker, it was awkward, embarassing and unintended. She never told Brian that she cheated on him.
  10. Warm onion, another nanowrimo anagram. Done. Part 5. The appetizer at the dinner party was warm onion tart.
  11. Incorporate whatever image is on your calendar for the month of November somewhere in your novel. Done. Part 5. My Good Food calendar has a recipe for Portugese Roast Pork with sweet sour vegetables, which was the main course for the same dinner party.
  12. Refer to your favorite novel at least three times. My favorite novel is probably The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway, but my second favorite is Bret Easton Ellis' Less Than Zero which was the one I used:

    • Part 5. The warm onion tart had milk, cream and cheese filling, but she knew she could not skimp on the milk or cream, using dairy that had less than zero percent fat content made the mixture curdle.

    • Part 7. It was a rainy day and there was a less than zero chance of sunshine that day.

    • Part 8. How do you measure temperatures less than zero?

  13. Have a previously unmentioned fire extinguisher randomly go off. Done. Part 5. In the gods and robots waiting room.
  14. What two male penguins do together is their business. Done. Part 5. As discussed by the gods and robots.
  15. Include the God of Death (Thanatos) in your story somewhere. Done. Part 5. Thanatos and his twin Hypnos were part of the gods and robots questioning squad.
  16. It's against my programming to impersonate a deity. Done. Part 5. Maria the Robot from Metropolis Fritz Lang Nineteen Twenty Seven was the robots' rep in the gods and robots goon squad.
  17. Have a dark and forbidding character say "come to the dark side, we have cookies."Done. Part 6. At the con. "No one wants to be a white hat anymore, that's so out. Come to the dark side, we're way cooler, we can do what we want, we can control the universe, most of all, we have cookies," her friend the Gentleman used this to entice her to volunteer to be made up as a demon.
  18. Start one of your chapters (or the entire book) with: "On every other morning, the sun rose serenely in the east, casting glorious rays of light over xxx. Today, it thought better of it and decided to sleep in." Done. Part 7.
  19. Include a recipe for chocolate cake in your novel. It may be a separate chapter, but it should preferably just randomly appear in the middle of the story, then the story continues as if the recipe wasn't interrupting it. Done. Part 8. Kinda. She decided to have a weekend cake sale at the bookstore and made half a dozen chocolate cakes.
  20. Include the fact that the word 'hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia' means 'the fear of long words'. Done. Part 8. In the letter about how there is not a big enough word to describe how she missed him.
  21. I couldn't find you to tell you where I was. Done. Part 8. Katy wrote it in her letter to Brian.
  22. "If you stick that thing in me one more time I swear to God I'll break it in half!" It can mean whatever you want. Done. Part 9. Daria's tale.
  23. 3 references to a cup of oversteeped tea. Only managed it once, in Part 4. When Mei Lan commented that a cup of oversteeped tea was like a cup of poison.

Dares I thought I could use but didn't:

  • Have someone say, "You just got salt in my ear, you bitch!" in public.
  • Refer indirectly to nanowrimo and the 50,000 word count. i.e. have someone trying to do 50,000 of something in a month
  • Have a scene revolve around the dilemma of grass being green and whether or not the color is a matter of perception
  • Mention a helicopter passing over head at odd moments.
  • Include line "Where the hell are your pants?"
  • Make a character dance on a table. Bonus if they do it in a very suggestive manner. Double bonus if they are completely sober at the time.
  • Have someone get their nipple pierced for no apparent reason.
  • Have a character who interrupts normal question to ask "I'm sorry, could you spell that please?" in at least two different conversations.
  • Use the line "Uphill, both ways," and have it be true in context.
  • Include the sentence "The lamp just stood there, like an inanimate object."
  • Name a chapter "Hair dye, Fake Nails, and a Fish."
  • Include a female Betta fish named Agatha.
  • Have a character collect nail polish from the bargain bins at chemists and places like that. They must never let anyone else near their collection.
  • Mention how hard it is to cut your nails when they have nail polish on them.
  • Include the line "Running into trees is not sexy." somewhere in your novel. Bonus points if the speaker is referring to a redhead running into a tree.
  • Include a person who does not know what a slinky is. Bonus points if s/he tries to guess and gets it completely wrong.
  • Have a math nerd (or, alternately, a non-math nerd for added fun) use the following pickup line: "are you a derivative function? because i want to be tangent to your curves."
  • Have someone throw a blender at another character. Bonus points if they're not in a kitchen at the time.
  • Have someone eat a piece of fruit that is not a banana in a sexual way.
  • Include an animal stampede through the busy streets of wherever your story is taking place.
in random words |

It's finished. I don't have any more scenes to write. I had to really stretch the last part.

I kind of massaged my submission. Changed words like "I'm" to "I am" to help with the word count. Is that cheating? Grey area, I guess.

According to the MT word count it's 49,037 words.

But that's for entries only. Counting the find-and-replaces, the title, the intro, the chapter titles and chapter summaries it's 50,078 words.

word count 50078

Saved into Word, and did some "encryption" as recommended by the nano folks, using the replace function again. Word count is not affected but the words are not that recognisable.

  1. a = bb
  2. r = h
  3. you = zxbq
  4. th = pem
  5. en = d
  6. l = k
  7. o = cha
  8. s = ge
in random words |

It was a hard slog today. The ideas I had before had all been written up and slightly padded. I knew what was coming and the direction of how wanted to story to end, but I was at 33,000 words this morning and the climax can't start till at least 40,000, preferably 45,000. I knew I had another 2,000 to finish off for Part 7 but I was very stumped for Part 8.

At the end Part 7 was short which made Part 8 even more difficult.

Anyway, Part 8's done now. I'm not finished for the night but I thought I'd check-in now. Hopefully I can manage another late 1,000. That'll be great for the home stretch tomorrow.

42,173 words.

Edited at 1.39am: it's now 2 hours later and it's at 43,177 words. Not very good huh.

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What's a wrimo's best friend: google and wikipedia.

What's not a wrimo's best friend right now: new episodes at WaTchers and The Chosen.

33,166 words.

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Depending on which word count tool I use, I get different results, sometimes as much as 100 words.

I use the MT word count plugin by Adam Kalsey, the MS Word counter and an online word count script. Because I don't have Office at home I can't just rely on the Word counter, and because the MT plugin only works with published entries, I can't use it for draft entries either. Anyway it's just a rough idea.

26,873 words.

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I discovered dares. They're real fun, but have sidetracked my story into a weird direction. Amazingly I've completed 11 2/3 dares already. What's with the fraction? Some dares you have to do 3 times, so each time is 1/3.

I thought I could write more, but it's slow.

22,228 words.

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It must be a coincidence. Most times whe I do a word count it's always something like 1598, 4989 or 14981. Always just short of a milestone.

16,373 words.

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End of Day 2.

It's like going on the treadmill, the first incline looms. I think that reading so much fanfic has helped. The story isn't great, but I can still come up with scenes.

10,288 words.

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This is going to be a very boring (for you the reader) 9 days in the run up to 30 November. Because I'm going to drop almost everything and concentrate on nanowrimo.

First, where is my work? It's parked over here.

Secondly I'm going to try to remember to post an update everyday.

I think the image isn't working, but for those interested, I'm at 5,080 words. Still a huge long way to go.

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I'm hopelessly late. It's already 21 November.

Can I do it? Write 50,000 words by 30 November? It's national novel writing month.

I can try. I'm not sure if I can even type 50,000 random words by then. Sigh.

I need more time! arrgghh!

I started a new category in innermost room called Blink. I'll try.

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In order not to spoil anything, I'll link to its definition rather than post it here. Look it up, it's worth the while, really.


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Note: I should put a R rating on this post, because of the topic.

I was trying to make sure I have the correct spelling for this word that describes a compendium of demons and mystical beings as it pertains to a particular universe.

a collection of stories providing physical and allegorical descriptions of real or imaginary animals along with an interpretation of the moral significance each animal was thought to embody.

Like a BtVS bestiary would contain descriptions and myths surrounding vampires, hellgods, praying mantis ladies, bringers, and such like.

Now I know, but when I googled it, I didn't know how it's spelled properly and typed bestiality, thinking it's something similar.


1. the quality or condition of being an animal or like an animal;
2. conduct or an action marked by depravity or brutality;
3. sexual relations between a human and an animal.

The website with that name, let's just say I have quite a high tolerance / indifference level for things other people do that don't affect me. But I was wigged out, and feel decidedly uncomfortable. Now, I'm not condemning people who practice zoophilia, and I'm glad to read it's no longer considered a disorder. It's just that I can't get my head around the concept.


While on shiver-worthy topics, check out the list of philia/s. Some are downright weird, some are just kinda silly.

I can't believe I actually wrote a post on this.

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I finished writing Coffee Moods, it's over at hidden doors. It's not the first fic I started but it's the first one I've finished.

At only 2,300 words it's a baby. Just thoughts in a coffee shop.

Before we went away I was writing this vamp fic set in the future, I was doing ok, slow steady progress -- 1,000 words each update, like 10 days to 2 weeks. It's kinda difficult, I mean how will the world look like in 150 years' time, what will the demon population be like, are there slayers, do I follow Chosen, do I follow Fray, questions questions.

Anyhow it was that Sunday in London when I was on my own, being marginally depressed and isolating myself within my iPod. Then the shop assistants in the gift shop at Carnaby kept talking to me, but not in the annoying way shop assistants usually do, and I felt a kind of, I dunno, I really don't know.

And when I went outside I was suddenly hit with this idea, of having a T who is still shy and insecure being noticed by other people while on her own. To have her think about her relationship again.

Originally I wanted more insecurity, more doubts, may be even trouble on the horizon. But I want to post it eventually and I have to comply with the rules so it's not so fat ot.

Started actually writing it in my head in London, but really writing the words was on Friday. And it's finished in 4 days. I should be happy about it.

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oh by the way, I don't think I can write poetry anymore. The last one I wrote was dated September 1990 (okay did I just implied I'm kinda, um, old?). It's really not that good. But what the fuck, this is my site I can put whatever I like on it, even though it sucks right.


Tell me now that you love me
I need to know
Tell me how much you love me
And don't let go

Hold me till my tears are dried
I need you so
Hole me tightly by your side
Please don't let go

Give me time to remember
Your smile your touch
There's just time to discover
I need you so much

I cried for the day
When you could tell me how you really feel
I looked for a way
That could let both our broken hearts heal
I wanted so to say
If only we can find a way
I hope we can both stay
True to our promises

Tell me now that you love me
I need to know
Tell me you'll always love me
Tell me
Before you go

One last thing, I've always been young for my age (and it's not some lame excuse for juvenile behavior and mindset), this was written when I was pretty young and hadn't been involved in any relationship with anyone. Hell if you told the me of that time how this whole relationship thing would turn out, including which team I ended up batting on, there'd be so serious blowing of circuits.

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There is a large mountain of paper I'd printed out as writing research. What a strange collection.

Oxford University - courses offered, information on all the different colleges. It's been a long while since I've been there but I think I can visualise, in any case I have writer's licence, right?

Robot Sheepdog Project - this topic continues to fascinate me. That the project was initially conducted by researchers in Oxford (amongst others) is no co-incidence, I discovered it while surfing around the Oxford site looking for interesting research. It ties into my synopsis so neatly.

Scottish clan history - this need to be extended to cover the other celts, the Irish and Welsh. Then may be I will focus on particular areas.

Wiccan Rede and glossary of terms - once I started reading about wicca I realised how familiar and intuitive it is, the ties to nature, the celebrations. The best part is the freedom on the part of the individual to choose the way they practice, there is no compulsion, no rigidity, nothing that is considered unnatural, forced, artificial. The Catholic in me is horrified, but at the same time I can't help wondering, that if the wiccan religion can accept and encourage co-existence with other religions even within the same person, how come the Catholic Church feels obliged to exclude and condemn anything that doesn't conform to their teaching? Shouldn't there be acceptance and tolerance in the world?

Mystical significance of numbers and number patterns - ok that's me trying to bring together 2 extremes. But are they really extremes? It's surprisingly how much they can be related.

What I don't have yet:

  • legends surrounding Arthur and the knights of the roundtable
  • mystical places in Britain, particularly in the west country
  • healing through music
  • Venice tourist guide

I know. Strange collection.

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I haven't made much progress with Bigtown in over a week, I wrote like 3 lines, that's it. It was going so well before this block. I know there's a few paragraphs I need to rewrite cos it's too much exposition and doesn't flow with the story. I hate the temptation to go with too much backstory and exposition. The next part is very important, not so much to the plot of the story, just the development of the characters. It's dialogue between the 2 main characters and it has to show development in their professional and personal relationship. Way harder than I imagined. I have scenes planned for future chapters but I need to have this one in the bag before moving on.

Now I totally understand why writers have muses, cos I. Need. One. Now. Sigh.

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I don't look in a dictionary often enough but I looked up 3 words today.

Dichotomy. Divide into 2 parts, usually contradictory. Black and white. High and low. Ups and downs. Except nothing is that clear. Not anymore. Not ever.

Vestige. Trace, sign. As in - she stretched and rubbed her eyes to chase away the last vestiges of sleep.

Protestation. Declaration of protest. Actually I was looking it up to make sure I've used it properly.

I'm writing again. Picking up the various pieces of stuff that I start but never finish. I don't know where to find plots or situations that aren't boring or clichéd.

1. The relationship story that's been going on since forever, like college. Don't even know if I want a happy ending or one of those no-ending type of endings.

2. The one that's supposed to be for this short story competition entitled "Unmasked". Inspired by the Blindekuh. Except the competition is long over and the winners' works already published. Not that I'd ever enter it, even if I finish, some of the later parts may involve some heavy breathing.

3. The fanfic about grief and loss. And new beginnings. And ghosts and spirits.

4. The prequel to that fanfic, before the grief and loss. Except there's sadness and loss in the beginning.

5. A Wishverse fanfic about grief and loss. And power. What's with the grief and loss anyway?

6. Another fanfic about undercover agents and double crossing and witness protection program. There's a romance in there too.