Tag Archives: writing routine

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 27: Shanghai International Literary Festival 2012!

Thrill of my life–I’ve been invited to the Shanghai International Literary Festival 2012!!!

It’s not till March next year but I’m already excited 🙂 My first literary festival outside of Singapore! Amy Tan is going to be there and A.B. Yehoshua and Alan Hollinghurst and Nury Vittachy…

My late mother was Shanghainese and I’ve never been to Shanghai before so that adds to the excitement and anticipation. If you believed her, not only were Shànghǎi rén the most cultured, Shanghai women were the most beautiful… in China you ask? In the world, I suspect she thought! Of course, as I mentioned she was Shanghainese herself so there may be some bias there! 🙂

So now I’m trying to figure out how to make travel arrangements, will see if I can get help with the airfare–but I’m going to say ‘YES PLEASE’ to them first and I’ll get there one way or another!!

And I’m going to get my first look at 8 Plays tomorrow. Ruth at Epigram says the books have come in and I can go get them to take a look (thank you Ruth!!)

It was very hard to settle down to do any writing with all the excitement so I ended up doing a lot of laundry, cleaning dogs’ teeth, walking dogs a bit more than usual… and then finally when I was too tired to fidget I sat down and got my words for the day in…

Not the greatest writing in the world but I don’t want to break my rhythm/ routine just because I’m bouncing off the walls being happy! There will be time to smooth things out during the rewrites. For now–marked out plot points and Forced the characters through their paces making them describe what they saw/ felt/ ate/ suspected/ wore… believe it’s harder to write when I’m happy than when I’m sick!

And I thought of a great idea for a mystery novella, an extended short story really. I’ve got the structure all in my head and think it will flesh out quite nicely at around 20,000 words.

Crazy thought: if I can finish the first rough of The Lizard’s Tail before December I can write the Novella in December, January and bring it over to Shanghai with me in March !

Well better to dream big than not dream at all right? Tonight I’m very very happy. And I made my word count for the day. And treated myself to seedless grapes. Life doesn’t get much better than this!


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Posted by on September 27, 2011 in Life Happens, Uncategorized, 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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Day 12: Still Playing With Characters

Starting my 2nd week of writing. Last week wasn’t much fun trying to deal with fever/ phlegm in addition to word count and I’m hoping this week goes more smoothly.


1) On one hand I have box files full of notes and clippings and photocopies including a clear outline that goes from beginning to denouement including major clues, red herrings and a nice climax…

2) On the second hand I’ve got a head full of characters that keep multiplying and giving themselves new characteristics and habits–one just gave herself a matriarchal grandmother and another a five month old baby… both essential to the plot, they say…

Sceptical Author : To my plot?

Irrepressible Characters : Well to a plot that will work out even better than your plot. You can keep your storyline, think of us as adding onions, garlic and a stock cube for flavour…

SA: But I like my plot, my timeline, my writing schedule and all the stuff you’re suggesting means more research…!

IC: Don’t you want to write about a grandmother who took over her dead husband’s business, adopted her dead son’s polio stricken daughter (who grows up to be Su Cheng) and sends her to English School because even if she can’t find a husband she may be able to get a job in the Civil Service as a secretary in an age when Civil Servants were demi-gods… the ‘gods’ of course being the Europeans.

SA: I guess…

Over the weekend I went to look at some houses and a lot of photographs of buildings that were around in the 1920’s. And I ‘found’ a great house for my murder site. Except it wasn’t where I wanted it to be so I’ve relocated it…


It was not yet eleven in the morning when they drew to a halt outside the Douglas house on Cavenagh Road. Here, out of the city it was hot and bright, the leaves on the few roadside trees hung limp from drought. They alighted and Su Cheng told the driver to wait outside with the car. The gates stood open but there seemed no one in attendance. The house was a two storeyed bungalow, longer than it was wide. The height of the lower storey was at least twenty feet, probably in an attempt to increase ventilation. Like most European houses built after the Great War it was made of brick below and wood above with verandas that ran along the whole length of the house on both sides on the ground floor as well as the upper floor. Even from the gate there was an air of waiting stillness about the place, as though no servants were on duty mopping, washing, wiping or serving tea.

There were two policemen standing in the shade outside the front of the house. There was no body to be seen but on the driveway just outside the sheltered porch there was a large dark stain where blood had soaked into the gravel.

“Excuse me Mam this is restricted area,” one of the police constables came forward to address himself to Miss Blackmore as the two women approached the porch. He did not acknowledge Su Cheng.

“We have come to help with the girl who died,” Miss Blackmore announced. “I am Miss Blackmore from the Women’s Mission Service Centre and this is my assistant Miss Chen,”

The policeman looked relieved. They had obviously been instructed to keep outsiders away but a European woman who knew about the death could hardly be considered an outsider.

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Posted by on September 12, 2011 in Life Happens, Research, Writing Life


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Day Five: Writing In Sickness and in Health

I have a drippy head cold, rats!

But I’m still on target for word count, largely because I just scribbled in low hanging fruit… for example I wrote the intro today.

Along with the ‘this is a work of fiction though actual historical characters and buildings appear’ disclaimer bit I put down some things I’ve learned about my heroine sleuth…

Sophia Blackmore (1857-1945) the first woman missionary sent by the Methodist Women’s Foreign Missionary Society to Singapore was born in Australia to a family which had migrated from London. With the support of the Reverend Oldham she helped to found two girls schools (known today as the Methodist Girls’ School and the Fairfield Methodist Secondary School) and set up a boarding home for girls. Known initially as the Deaconess Home because it also housed single lady missionaries and teachers and then as Nind Home after Mary C. Nind, the home served as residence to school-going girls as well as runaways, mui tsais, abandoned girls and orphans who became known as The Blackmore Girls.


I love the sound of ‘The Blackmore Girls’!

And now I am going to bed…


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