Muse

Well, he was bound to make an appearance within the pages of my art journal, though I didn’t get him quite right.  Still, it’s nice to get that out of my system, especially since he was the one who got me writing again, after a ten year hiatus.  Why the hiatus?  Well, life happened.  I was miserable though I didn’t know why – till I started writing again, and the house hasn’t been tidy since.

So if you don’t recognize him (it’s hard because I drew the eyes too large), it’s Richard Armitage, from one of his first selfies on Twitter last year.  I should have picked a better picture, but it is what it is.

Today also marks the day that someone on Wattpad was brave enough to tell me what was not quite right with my novel in progress, Loving Ashe.  I basically took the cowardly way out with the ending.  Instead of writing the ending I really wanted, which was quite like “killing” my darling protagonist, I made everything just right and perfect.  No whoa! you didn’t! factor definitely.  And I’m glad she pointed it out because it’s been bugging me all this time – why I took an otherwise perfect novel and gave it such a blah ending when I already had three chapters of that finale done and dusted.

But at least it’s still a work in progress though. It just means maybe this time, I’m writing the ending as it was meant to be.  And wouldn’t you know it?  That novel started out as a Daily Prompt writing challenge right here on my blog exactly two years ago – with Richard Armitage in mind, no less!

Where One of My Stories Finally Gets the Spotlight!

Well, just Featured, really, on Wattpad.

Sorry, but just wanted to blow my own horn for a bit.  So I hope you don’t mind…

Starting today, Sept 16, Broken, my Lucas North/MI-5 story, is now a Featured Story on Wattpad. If you’ve been living under a rock and know nothing about Wattpad, it’s

“a place to discover and share stories: a social platform that connects people through words. It is a community that spans borders, interests, languages. With Wattpad, anyone can read or write on any device: phone, tablet, or computer.

Wattpad

Boasting 25 million members and growing, who read and post (and probably write) stories on mobile 85% of the time, it’s a force to be reckoned in this new digital age.  Hey, R.L. Stine of the Goosebumps series  is on there! 

When I first starting writing again, I used to post it on my Blogger blog (since deleted), and then moved it to a WordPress blog.  Then I discovered Wattpad.  I could catalog my own stories and at the same time read other stories on there.

One writer that I discovered there is Rowena Wiseman, who writes this wonderful book called Searching for Von Honningbergs that you can get from Screwpulp for $1 (yes!  A $1! and it’s really good!  Even her title is sooo cool).

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 8.52.45 PMOn Wattpad, I can gauge how people were responding to my stories, whether by their likes or votes (whatever the yellow star is called on the upper right hand of your Wattpad screen, or the bottom of your mobile screen), or their comments (which I’m sorry to say I never paid attention to the notifications when I started in 2012 because I never thought people were actually reading my stories to begin with), or when they added your story to their libraries.  Some readers are pretty vocal and very encouraging and many others I would like to think are just quiet and don’t comment or click like.  But every time a new reader clicks on a chapter, the Read ticker does a +1, so you can gauge just how many people are reading  your story.

286282030a435d999c54c393d1b582b8_zps5e08a1d5Broken – Lucas North/MI-5 Story is my AU version of Lucas North for Season 7 and beyond.  It started out as a short story (Chapters 1 & 2) and from there, I spent a few sleepless nights till I finally got up and said, Crap, let me just get it all out then…darn muses!

So I’ve been wordy enough as it is.  If you’d like to read some pretty cool fanfic with a lot of twists and turns and rollercoaster highs and lows (we are talking about Lucas North here after all), give BROKEN a try!  If you’ve already read it, thanks so very much!

And oh, yes, check out Wattpad, if you’ve got the time.  There are some amazing gems on there!

Writer’s Block Party

When was the last time you experienced writer’s block? What do you think brought it about — and how did you dig your way out of it?

Writers block hit me from around 2002 – 2012.  What precipitated the beginning of the end for me was a boy, I think, and life in general, realizing that while I was living my life, enjoying my parties, living on the beach and playing beach volleyball everyday – being as American as I could ever be – I was also denying my heritage.  When my brother moved to L.A. it was hard to maintain that American image – especially when family was getting closer and everywhere I turned was a reminder of who I was, who I was supposed to be, and of the expectations of family that I’d turned up my nose to for years.

While I did turn back to my “roots,” so to speak and do my best to fulfill certain obligations expected of me – both from my family and my husband’s, my writing tanked completely.  And I mean completely.  I’d never felt so hollowed out in my life – smiling on the outside but feeling completely empty, really empty, on the inside.  I felt just like Bilbo when he told Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring, “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”

Finally, because in some other life, I must have been good, in 2012, I rediscovered the muse, who helped me back int the writing game, even if I had to start over by writing fan fiction.  Lucas North, John Standring, Thorin Oakenshield – all characters played by Richard Armitage – got the stories flowing.

This year he’s been replaced by another muse, though he/she comes in different guises.  A song, a poem, a photograph, a memory.  And in a month or so, my first book will finally, finally come out, a novel whose rough draft was written in 90 days because this time, the muse would not let go.  If you’ve been following my blog since the beginning, you’re probably sick of hearing about Finding Sam and all that – but at least I can now say that the smile is back.

Most of all, the writer is back.  And she’s left the block party – this time, for good.

Daily Prompt

The King Beneath the Mountain of Gold

One day, your favorite piece of art — a famous painting or sculpture, the graffiti next door — comes to life. What happens next?

539607_10152030701762216_1299604394_n
Thorin Oakenshield by James Hance

The graphite marks shifted, trembled and lifted
blue eyes looking about the room, studying the gloom
of dusk that had descended, the day just ended
and looking at me, said with a feeling of dread,
“I was once a king beneath a mountain of gold,
spoken of in songs and stories of old
I had a dream to reclaim and redeem
the pride of my fathers and lift up my brothers
back into the light, join in the fight
to take back what was ours no matter the hour
but greed overtook me, engulfed me.  It felled me.
What has become of the world where I’m from?
Does the gold still glitter amidst all that is bitter
when I lost what was mine, a stone so divine?
But that was all in the past, for nothing ever lasts
And to the halls of my fathers and along with my brothers
I go now to rest, knowing at last I was blessed
to discern the truth from the follies of youth,
no matter how late it came, I knew its name.
I was once a king beneath a mountain of gold
spoken of in stories and songs of old,
but now I’m dead.”  And that was all that he said.
And the graphite marks shifted, trembled and lifted
till they settled back down amidst the grays, blacks and browns.

Daily Prompt

10 Things I’ve Learned About Blogging

When I first started blogging, I don’t think it was even called “blogging” then.   You just had a webpage – a GeoCities webpage at that!  Remember those days?  I remember that I was too broke to afford Dreamweaver or Frontpage so I learned from scratch using HTML, and when I did, I ended up posting these HUGE, I mean, humongous pictures of everything – especially myself.

Thank goodness, I sobered up and took those Glamour Shots pictures down.  Hopefully no one saved them in their hard drives…

Well, since then I’ve blogged off and on about life, wedding blues (more like panic), knitting, spinning wool, travel, and having a baby.  But that was all done before WordPress, when lo and behold, I found that there’s actually a real community of bloggers just like me!

But just like any community, there are certain things I’ve learn along the way that’s unique to the WordPress – or in this case, general blogging – experience.  Here are just a few things I’ve learned from having my writing blog and my fangirl/review-a-movie-when-I-feel-like-it blog (apparently, fangirling has way more politics than you can ever believe so we won’t even go there).

blogging

  1. Write what you know – or even what you don’t know. Basically, just write.  It’s your blog.  It’s your home on the internets.
  2. Say hello to your visitors.  Respond to their comments, even if it’s just to say ‘thank you.’ And if they have their own blog, please check it out and if you like what you see, click “like” on a post, or even better, follow their blog so that you’ll get updated on their latest posts.  I always like learning about how other people live and the blogging community has allowed me to do that!
  3. Not all visitors and followers are created equal (unfortunately).  Some of them are – like a blog about South American women – just a site that tries to get you to visit another site, usually commercial, selling the services of South American women. I mean, if you’re into those things, then fine.
  4. Don’t worry so much about hurting other people’s feelings when you’re writing about something that appeals to you on your blog (well, barring certain topics that will get the CIA, FBI and the NSA on  your tail).  In this world where everyone takes offense with everything, you’re bound to offend someone anyway, regardless of what you write about.  You could write about cute cats, and someone will still get offended by it.

    Guess he's not a cat person. Image from RAFrenzy (because my HD is now devoid on unbearded Richard Armitage pics)
    Guess he’s not a cat person.
    Image from RAFrenzy (because my HD is now devoid of un-bearded Richard Armitage pics)
  5. Acknowledge visitors who take the time to leave a comment.  Having left a comment on a post that either really appeals to your happy meter, or presses that me-no-happy button, get ready to acknowledge the original poster’s (hereby called OP) response.  Sometimes you really don’t have to respond to a simple ‘thank you’ from the OP, but sometimes there are comments that spawn more comments – and that’s totally fine.  In fact, it’s nice when that happens.  It’s akin to a conversation in the real world, I hear…
  6. Sometimes things might get off-topic or OT.  If so, acknowledge that what you’re about to say is OT and know that maybe the OP might edit it or not even post it.  Or if you happen to be a repeat OT offender, heavens forbid, they might even BAN you.
  7. Get your snark meter up and running.  Other blogs are heavy into snark (which is totally fine – it’s a free country) and if you don’t know what it sounds like (which sometimes I don’t), and you happily comment, you’re stepping into a minefield you may not be ready to be in.  Or a shark pit.  You take your pick.
  8. Crafting that OP-ED.  When you find yourself writing an op-ed in the comment section of someone’s blog, be prepared to craft your reasonable and tactful defense should the OP or other visitors respond back.  This may happen when you stumble upon a post you don’t agree on and hence, there’s your op-ed comment respectly rebutting the OP’s views.  No matter what happens next, this is when tact comes in to play – and some heart meds, too, if you happen to have them.  Or a bottle of whiskey to take the edge off.
    nxdBQX3
  9. When a post or comment presses on those buttons, take a deep breath and take a long walk before you pound your busy fingers on  your poor keyboard.  Sometimes, it’s worth it to really think things through before responding to comments on your blog – and this especially works best when it’s a blog that’s not your own, and the OP might respond to you in a way that you didn’t like.
  10. Sometimes it is enough to just LIKE someone.  Just because the powers that be tell you to comment on blogs to let them know that you appreciate their post, don’t – especially when you have NOTHING to say.  Sometimes clicking the LIKE button is good enough (for me, it is!) But if you do have something else to say other than ‘cool blog post!’ then please comment!

sally-field-oscar-speech-o

So there  you have it – the 10 things I’ve learned so far from blogging.  Or maybe it’s about community?  I don’t know anymore – the lines have become so blurred…

But most of all, have fun!  Isn’t that why we do this after all?

 

Daily Prompt: Unmapped Country

Tell us about the last book you read (Why did you choose it? Would you recommend it?). To go further, write a post based on its subject matter.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us WORDS.

51d256Yx5XL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-60,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_The last book I read and finished was Chrissie Elmore’s Unmapped Country: The Story of North and South Continues. This book starts off from the chapter-before-the-last-chapter of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North & South, or Chapter LI (51 as 52 would be the final chapter).

Besides continuing from the book, it is also loosely based on the 2004 BBC adaptation starring Daniella Denby-Ashe and Richard Armitage, without the ending the mini-series opted to use which, during that time, would have left both their reputations in ruins. Unmapped Country also uses some of the characters introduced in the series, like Mr. Latimer, the banker, and his daughter, Miss Latimer. Elmore writes the book close to the way Gaskell wrote it, which means it was written in the vein of the time. You could literally read Gaskell’s book, skip the final chapter and continue with Elmore’s book without missing a beat.

Unmapped Country: The Story of North and South Continues follows the travails of two characters – Margaret Hale, now a wealthy heiress, and John Thornton, a mill owner who has recently been forced to shut down his own cotton mill due to the economic climate. It follows each character’s journey to certain realizations about life and each other, despite a proud mother unwilling to let go of her son to someone as spirited as the very woman who saves her son’s business, and a society stuck on how this class or that class of people should act and what rightly deserve.

Oh, the many missteps they encounter just to get to first base were so frustrating yet charming at times, but it built up the excitement as I continued to read the book.

It was also nice to read the growing awareness Margaret develops in the struggle to pair her moral ethics with the decisions she has to make regarding her investments and there were a few instances where I found myself saying, “you can’t save the world and stay wealthy at the same time!” – something I’m sure Bill and Belinda Gates are often faced with themselves (on second thought – probably not).

It is a well-researched book about the Industrial Revolution, one that got me digging into my garage for my own book on the Industrial Revolution – only to realize that I may have given it away to the local library by accident.  I like books that do give me enough background of the times, especially if I’m unfamiliar with said times.  And though the narrative often gets bogged down by the research Elmore has made, the events flow from one to the other, eventually culminating in an event that brought tears to my eyes (quite unexpectedly) and gave me goosebumps (again, unexpectedly) and finally to its charming, much-awaited conclusion.

dvd-ns-nlI discovered North and South by accident, while killing time on Youtube.   And when I watched the miniseries the first time, I could not figure out why the main characters were having so many problems. So she is from the south and he from the north? So what? I thought.

It’s not like the American mini-series North and South, which involved brothers separated by a civil war.

So she’s some clergyman’s daughter and he a mill owner? What the heck was the problem? And then there was the issue with the union dispute and the strike and the Irish workers imported in (would they be called scabs then?).

Unfortunately my knowledge of period stories was based primarily on Jane Austen, which I realized now, focused only on a certain part of society (except for Mansfield Park, but then it still focused much on the upper crust of society). So I had to watch North & South the second time to fully understand it. Not only that, I picked up the book by Gaskell and read it before I finally really understood what was at the heart of the story besides a tender love story between two fiery individuals.

Bear with me here – you see, my latest list of read books have been about fallen angels (Angelfall) and chimaeras (Daughter of Smoke and Bone) – so my mind wasn’t exactly into social and economical issues of 1800’s England and the disparity between the industrial north and class-centric south. I had to first extricate myself from the fantastic storylines I was lost in, but when I finally understood what North and South, both the book and the mini-series, were about, I was hooked.

Unmapped Country: The Story of North and South Continues was one of the many North & South themed books I found on Amazon, written mostly by fans of the BBC miniseries and Richard Armitage. While some of the books focused primarily on marital relations or as some reviewers described as “soft porn”, I picked this book because the reviewers said it was the one closest to Gaskell’s vision and way of writing – which worked for me.

Now I’m not going to be hypocritical and say that I never read soft porn (heck, I write it) or have no curiosity about the many scenarios of Margaret and John’s marital relations, or how such things happened during that time (Did they shave? Brazilian blowout? Keep their clothes on? Keep separate beds?), but after just having finished a second reading of Gaskell’s book, I was looking for something that was more loyal to her style – and I was glad I found it in Elmore’s book.

After all, if I really wanted an answer to my questions, there are other books on the list and I do plan to work my way through all of them – eventually.

For now, I’m getting ready to continue reading the saga of the chimaera, Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone) and lose myself into another world so far removed from Industrial England.

firstlook1 firstlook2

Daily Prompt

Fragile – A Nonet

Three in the morning and he can’t sleep
The nightmares keeping him awake
White tiled walls and cold vinyl floors
Visions he can’t yet shake
Though now he’s back home
He’s still alone
Wondering
Dreaming
Home

IMG_0469

*A Nonnet is a type of poem which has nine lines.  The first line has 9 syllables, the second 8 syllables, the third 7 syllables until the ninth will have only one syllable.  It’s supposed to have an iambic meter, where every other syllable is stressed (my first nonet so I have no clue if I’ve followed the iambic meter rule…)

Daily Prompt: The Social Network

Do you feel like you “get” social media, or do you just use it because that’s where all your friends and family are?

Being a Gemini, I’m all about communication.  I majored in Communication and I just love being able to communicate my thoughts and ideas as long as there’s someone willing to listen.

But when it’s two in the morning and my mind is still racing with thoughts and ideas and your boyfriend, after a marathon of sex and all he wants to do is sleep and all I want to do is talk, asks me, “Do you ever sleep?” then that’s when I realized that I needed an outlet other than what real life could give me.

Apparently there wasn’t enough communicating in real life as much as I would have wanted.  With or without sex.

So years and years ago, I mastered Myspace and Friendster, then came Facebook – only with Facebook I realized that I was about to get to know the very people I was so happy to leave behind in high school and barely remembered.

Only now, they were back and Facebook was THE platform to be in.

Then there is Twitter –  and for almost two to three years, I had a Twitter account for my massage therapist persona – only to realize that if there’s a massage therapist on Twitter, it doesn’t mean that she’ll be talking about massage because she’s probably busy massaging some client or getting her real life business going.  So there really wasn’t a lot of time socializing.

And after two years of watching all this unfold on my timeline, all condensed in 160 characters, I realized that tweeting as a massage therapist boiled down to one word:  boring.

Hell, I’d rather hang out with my FB friends, the same ones I couldn’t have cared less back in high school.

So last October, I finally started a Twitter account for fun.  At first it was just about writing – I got myself a pretty simple twitter name, Morrighansmuse – but then I found that if I followed just writers, all I was ever going to get on my timeline were tips about writing or sales pitches about their books and again, it bordered on that one word again – boring.

What’s social media without the “social” part of it?

And so I decided to seek out people who shared something that I was interested in at the time.  I typed in ‘yarn’ and ‘knitting’ and even ‘spinning wool’ but I already knew most of these people from another online social media platform, Ravelry.

Why the hell would I need Twitter to talk about yarn – and worse, condense it into 160 characters?  Twitter obviously does not understand knitters – because we can talk and talk and talk, even while we knit.  So Twitter is mostly a secondary media platform and I really did not want to talk yarn on Twitter.

So I tried another search.  At that time, I had just discovered Richard Armitage through BBC North & South, and so I typed his name in the search box and found the Armitage Army – the Twitter contingent.  Apparently there are many other contingents out there – IMDB, C19, the Real Armitage Army…the list goes on and on.

What’s interesting about social media, as I’m discovering now that I tweet and blog more for fun than I used to in the past, is that I’m actually having more fun doing it.  And in doing it, I actually have learned so much more about it while having fun.

Social media has finally become what it says – social media.

These days, I don’t just tweet with other people about Mr. Armitage.  I’ve met people who do art, who write exquisitely with vintage fountain pens, who create beautiful works of fairies and unicorns and dragons, who do their best to practice kindness each and everyday (though there are those who do their darnedest to do just the opposite) and who make me laugh or smile every time I’m online.

I’ve also finally learned how to use Twitter and master the 160 word limit and practice tact when others forget the meaning of the word – for even online, it’s important to still be polite.

And most of all, when hubby now asks me at three in the morning, “do you ever sleep?” I can simply turn on my iPad and socialize in the virtual world.

But one thing that surprised me the most about all this media socializing is this – as much as social media is all about communication in virtual networks and communities, where ideas are transmitted primarily through keystrokes and mouse clicks, it’s brought me back to the simple forms of communicating, back when computers were gigantic and the postman’s arrival was a main event for most people.

I’m actually getting real honest-to-g*d snail mail.

And that is quite awesome!

Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 1.46.44 AM