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Day 41: SWF Opening Tonight!

SWF Opens tonight!

And thankfully my word count is right on target for the week so I’m taking the weekend off writing to go watch/listen writers writers writers!

Very ‘light’ festival for me–one panel (Ideas), one set of post competition comments (Golden Point) and one presentation (Books Actually) and the rest of the time I’m free to enjoy all that’s happening.

Frustrating that so many things I’d like to sit in on are happening simultaneously!

 

Meanwhile Orchid Chan is on target at 15, 092 words–will have to start tidying and streamlining next week–and the History Mystery has passed the 35,000 word mark, which means I can stop to breathe a little, at least over the weekend!

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Posted by on October 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Day 43: Focus On The Writing

Very glad I’m excited about the writing I’m doing now… have decided what’s over is over or rather what’s been published is out of my hands. It’s all a learning process right? At least the writing part is still fun and I can’t think of anything else I could love to do as much.

Though I must say the book looks good!

Especially in the hands of the doyen of Local Theatre…

Singapore's most glamorous academic, Dr KK Seet

 

Though it seems to have shocked Step-Brother and friends…

 

Casey Lim and Chien-Seen Chiu

 

Nothing throws my sweet Robin--sorry, the respected Dr Robin Loon--off balance!

 

Getting over a bit of a health blip but all’s stabilising now. Have sketched in the ending for the Orchid Chan novella and during practice this morning was thinking of all kinds of little things to add in but will wait and see. It’s supposed to be a Short novella and I’m already at 12,500 words without developing my motives and red herrings!

I should be able to take The Lizard’s Tail to 30,000 words by this weekend. Just received some information about the French nuns who were working in Singapore and Malaya at the time–wonderfully relevant. Actually Singapore during the period between the wars was a fascinating place. I have to keep reminding myself I’m not writing a history though now I’m thinking of classifying the ACF book as a mystery-documentary!

 

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Day 41: Good and Bad…

The Good: Richard Lord has agreed to be my editor/first reader for the ACF manuscript. I’m very very happy because I like him, he’s both good with words and able to understand my sttuutter when I get excited talking about what I’m writing PLUS he’s very experienced at the editing side of things as well as working on NAC projects!!!

The Bad: Blood test today not so great… I took some cold medication that didn’t agree with me, my INR was shot and just to prove it I’ve got a big bleeder in my right eye that makes writing a bit tough… but it’s really more self pity than anything else.

Bright side to that is, Prof K says nothing wrong with me flying to Shanghai or spending six months in Paris (fingers crossed, fingers crossed, fingers crossed) and I have a list of English speaking doctors so I’m hoping, hoping, hoping…!

And my Orchid Chan novella is going well–I know it’s not just about word count but I’ve reached 11,385 words and I think there’s enough bone and muscle under there to survive the fast edits I’m going to have to do to push/pull/cut it into shape. Probably will have to write about 40,000 words in order to cut down to the target 20,000…

But now I’m going to bed with an ice pack, two dogs and lots of self pity…

 

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Day 40: Looking Forward to Singapore Writers Festival!

And of course Shanghai though I’m trying not to let myself think about that yet, it’s too big and exciting and upsets all the other little things that have to be lived through (and written through) as well as I can before then. Amy Tan will be there!!! Plus a whole bunch of other people who I have to get started re-reading before next March…

But on the home front I’m still plugging away…

I’ve got the skeleton of the novella down and reached 10,286 words on that. That one’s a bit stressful because I don’t know how much time I will have for revising and revision time is usually the time when I get to adjust the ‘real’ feeling and direction.

Still if the worst happens and I don’t get this one published in time for Shanghai I’ll still have a pretty decent structure to work on…

And I will still have the history mystery of course. Which surprisingly or not is going pretty well right now. I’m keeping my fingers crossed this keeps up over the next few weeks with the writers festival going on. I have just one panel discussion (26 Oct) and one discussion cum launch of 8 Plays (4th November, 7.30pm at Books Actually) so aside from those days I’m free to attend as many of the talks and discussions as I can get myself too!

Wish it would rain some more. I think I write better (more anyway) when it rains… now I keep wanting to go outside.

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2011 in Writing Life

 

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Day 34: Writing & Publishing

 

8 Plays is published, I have copies here so I know that… but I’m not sure what happens next. Do I take it round to bookshops myself? Do I organise a book launch myself? I’ll do what needs to be done except I don’t know what that is! I wanted to give copies to the libraries I’ve been reading/writing/working in as a ‘thank you’ but the publishers said not to. Does anyone else have any suggestions?

The publishing/distributing/business side of things is definitely much much harder than the writing. Fortunately the writing is still fun… I need something to take my mind off the rest of the business!

I’m still on word count target with The Lizard’s Tail and I’ve started my first Orchid Chan novella! This is the beginning of Orchid Chan and the Chinese New Year Murder!

 

1 The Eve of Chinese New Year

Orchid Chan had been warned not to expect too much of Chinese New Year in Singapore. But she would never forget her first Chinese New Year in the island city. Her first murder investigation  started on the eve of her first Chinese New Year and changed her life forever. It all began when a man was murdered in the house next door…

Mrs Orchid Chan was sitting on one of the stone benches in the small square park in front of the Chan house along Jalan Mas Puteh. It was a very private area and cars could enter only through Jalan Mas Puteh, a feeder road that led to the park and ran around it. There were rows of terraced houses on all four sides of the park. Like most of the other houses there the Chan house was a two storey house with large long rooms but a narrow front and a driveway only big enough for one car. Because the Chan house was at the end of that row terraced houses they had a slightly larger garden and on the other side was the power station that served the housing estate. The Chan house shared a common wall with the Pang house, where all the terrible things happened but you will hear about all that later. For now let Orchid explain an important detail about the geography of the place. Behind their row of houses was a narrow granite ledge and then a drain. Even though all the houses had gates in their back fences or doors in their back walls these were seldom used because there wasn’t anywhere to go. Across the drain there was a steep grassy slope and at the top of that was the hedged fence that surrounded the Clementi Stadium. Husband Chan did not like the stadium because before it was built the hill had been full of trees and when he was a boy he used to go exploring there with Arnie Pang from next door. Orchid liked the stadium. She liked walking around it with BaoBao (when she got a chance to walk with her own son!) and it was not the fault of the Clementi Stadium that Arnold Pang was no longer friends with Husband Chan. Arnold Pang did not even visit his own father next door. Orchid knew this but she did not find out why until later.

To get to the stadium from their houses you had to walk to the end of the row. There was a gap there between them and the row of houses that stood perpendicular to theirs and a narrow flight of stone steps cut into the slope and led up to the carpark of the Clementi Stadium.

All the houses faced the small park. Two rows of houses were back to back with the houses that opened onto West Coast Walk and West Coast Road and behind the final row of houses (at right angles to the Chan House) was a row of shophouses. There was a playground in the park, a square patch of sand with a swing standing in it. Normally Orchid Chan liked this park. She liked playing with BaoBao there, either sitting on the swing with him in her lap or playing football with his big foam ball. But today BaoBao was with Mum Chan (Husband Chan’s Mother) in the house and Orchid was feeling homesick. She had been married to Husband Chan for over three years now, BaoBao was almost two years old. They had all moved to Singapore when Husband Chan’s Shanghai posting was over. Of course Orchid Chan had known when she married a Singapore man that she would one day be moving to Singapore. She had even liked the idea—Orchid was always up to trying something new—but now after almost a year in Singapore, Orchid Chan was sitting alone outside the house and wondering whether she had made a mistake.

Orchid Chan had lived in Shanghai all her life. Her mother had also been born in Shanghai. Her father came to Shanghai to study, met and married her mother and as a consequence never left. Shanghai had that effect on some people. But then Orchid’s parents were of the romantic generation.

Orchid Chan was of the 80’s generation. But though a Balinghou, thanks to her romantic, artistic (and therefore not very wealthy) parents she was not a fuerdai that grew up with rich parents and a silver spoon in her mouth. From the time she was in her teens she had been far more practical than her parents. And by the time she was thirty years old Orchid Health Blooms which she had started with support from her parents was a successful business in Shanghai. It is not easy to make a success of a start up business. That was something she was very proud of doing. She was proud not only of the financial success but the hard work she put in and the discovery that she could succeed at something she had no way to prepare for—except to stand firmly on each step as she achieved it, look around and decide where she should start to carve out the next step. Then why did she throw it all away? Orchid Health Blooms was the first shop in Super Brand Mall, perhaps even in Pudong and possibly even in Shanghai to offer a combination of Traditional and Western herbal cures and teas incorporated into artistic floral arrangements. These were works of art you could take apart to use. It had been Orchid’s bright idea—she had always had bright ideas, perhaps too many, which made it difficult for her to focus on studying the right answers to school exams. But in this case Orchid Health Blooms had paid off and had enough regularly subscribers to go on turning a growing profit. When Orchid Chan (who at that time was still Orchid Wu) had sold the business she had made enough profit to pay her parents back double what they had loaned her.

Orchid had been very pleased with herself when she gave the cheque to her parents. She had not been so happy when her mother told her, “We have enough to keep going so we will keep the money for you, in case you ever need it,” and her father said, “Remember you can always come back to Shanghai.”

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2011 in Writing Life

 

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Day 19: Monday…

The best that I can say is that I’m still on track with the writing/ word count for The Lizard’s Tail. I’ve introduced the victim, the murderer and suspects and the first lizard but I’m tired… spent the weekend working on the new novella and feel like I haven’t had a break in too long!

‘The Lizard’s Tail’ was also the name of a NaNoWriMo piece I wrote two years ago… that on rereading I had to split into three separate threads, one of which in a very warped way I hope to work into the present book. I love NaNoWriMo–it’s great for bulking up on tons of ideas… even now I’m wondering whether I can squeeze in an entry this year–

Marvellous Mentor Mukul says ‘focus on writing one thing at a time’ but if I separate writing one project on week days and the other on weekends that counts right? (well if I just took weekends off I probably wouldn’t be so tired, so…)

But I’m faithfully sticking to my Daily Health Challenges so I’m hoping those will do something towards keeping me from turning into a tub of lard at the computer. I swear I haven’t done a full practice for so long I can feel my body has changed and I probably wouldn’t be able to! I know–the longer I stay off the mat the harder it is to get back on but still I don’t get back on… I should just set the alarm earlier but sleep is another thing I need every extra minute of right now!

And I’m terribly behind in my own reading but Have Finished with the Golden Point short stories judging reading/ re-reading/ points assigning/ re-re-reading/ meetings with my fellow judges the wonderful Dave Chua and Meira Chand

It was great fun reading all the entries though so painful we couldn’t choose more winners–so many were so promising in so many different ways!

And we liked/ loved/ hated different stories for different reasons… yes, there were very very many discussions. But we managed to agree on the final list that we’re all happy with… still Top Secret till they announce the results at the Singapore Writers Festival of course!

And now… trying to decide whether to do yoga or go out for a long slow walk with the dogs… it’s wet but the rain has stopped so there’ll be lots of mud and smells and bugs and maybe even rats to scrabble after–doggie bliss in other words!

 

 

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Day 15: Growing Shoots

Current growth on my Daily Challenge Tree!  Patchy I know but the best I could manage and I really love how it looks. Wish I could print this out as a poster for my wall!

Level 8

Level 9

 

Level 9

Level 10

Level 11

 

If I get my week’s word quota done today I’ll take tomorrow off the book–trying to do a 5 min video this weekend & I need to script something. I know most people seem to be able to look into a camera and be articulate but when I look into the camera without preparing a script all that comes to me is the shelf behind it needs clearing or dusting, so…

Other things growing right now:

1. Just saw the cover of 8 Plays and it looks fantastic. Thank you Epigram! Hope it’s going to be out by the Singapore Writers Festival

2. Need to do blurb & synopsis for mystery novella that I’ll be writing in December… another ‘break’ month gone. But last year losing my December break last year resulted in the Mudskipper which I’m very pleased with.

Still I really need to factor in a break soon. Was reading Scott Dinsmore this morning talking about the benefits of doing nothing. The problem for me is that every time I clear nothing space even More things rush in! I’m not complaining. So far they’ve been very good things (especially those that rush in barking and wagging!)

3. I know I should forget about the manuscripts that are out of my hands — The Mudskipper and Aunty Wang –but part of my mind keeps going back and niggling at what I could have written differently or I should go back and change now… but no no no I will wait for feedback.

So enough dithering–back to the Book! And if I hit 12,000 words today I won’t be back till Monday!!

 

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2011 in Health/Fitness/Balance, Life Happens, Writing Life

 

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