Worldbuilding Workshop!

I conducted my first world-building workshop today at the Substation. Many thanks to Budding Writers’ League for giving me this opportunity. As I have told the participants, I am also learning about world-building.

Started with writing prompts, followed by a brief lecture (of sorts) about world-building and then followed by hands-on work (group work/discussion). Each group was given a ‘world’ or ‘element’ to play with: fire, water, arboreal and underground. The feedback was great too. :)

I would like to thank Mary-Anne (from BWL) for helping out with the projector and the materials for the discussions. I would also like to thank my participants for being such a great class – I want to see you write stories based on your worlds now!

(Apologies for the crappy phone pictures!)

[Flash]: Old Wolves

We met under the void deck of the housing block. Two married women. Old friends. We started by exchanging pleasantries, questions about our children and work, always work.

Then we stared at each other, both of us no longer young. Our crowfeet were as evident as the laughter lines and sorrow lines.

“Remember the time you faced Death down?” She fired the first salvo, she a metal girl at heart. I was the nerd. Where did the time go?

“Yes. And you were the one who kicked his sorry buttocks.”

Well, it was true. She did kick Death’s buttocks. Right until now, he hadn’t really forgiven her.

I stared at her again, at her suddenly gleaming gold eyes.

We were old wolves, old beyond our time.

Mentioned in ZB

That’s ZaoBao for you Singaporean readers.

Close, but not too close

Found out that Wolf At The Door hasn’t made it past the Nebula nomination phase. So, it has been close, but not too close. Many grateful thanks to the folks who have bought, read, signal boosted and supported the novel. I really appreciate it. The fact that it found an audience is humbling enough.

Congratulations to those who are nominated!

Soon, hopefully (yes, it WILL be done), Wolf At The Door will be in print format.

Keeping our past alive

Last night, I watched a performance by a Chinese (Heng Hua) puppet troupe. The troupe is led by a 62 year old gentleman who is now searching for a successor. If not, the art form and troupe dies with him. The performance is under an initiative by the Asian Civilizations Museum (ACM), called Regenerating Communities. The ACM is situated beside the Singapore River, an important landmark in our history as it was used as a vital conduit for commerce and trade. Here are some of the pictures:

The Singapore River

Puppets

Pan Jin Lian (from Wusong Hunts The Tiger, Water Margin)

So I want to fly, is that a problem?

I like looking for on-going themes and motifs in my fiction, probably because I am a Literature student deep down inside (and Humanities, mind you – we are becoming rare in Singapore). I have found a few: fire, transformation, phoenix, trees (casuarina) and food. The predominant one, the one that runs through all my stories like a seam of glittering quartz, is flight.

Perhaps I yearn(ed) for flight myself. Away from so many expectations and obligations. But there you go: flight and the fight for the right to fly. Young Katherine Riley fought for it in The Basics of Flight. In Phoenix Without A Purpose, Minfeng knew how to fly, but had to control her ability (and fire as well). Even my steampunk stories dealt with flight in some way.

Rider, my newest novella, deals with flight in an intimate way. As I write the sequel to this tale, I am feeling as if I resonate more with the main character Lifang. What are you going to do if you are hampered with so many things, including a physical disability? Are you going to give up or are you going to fight for it, no matter what? Perhaps my own experience influenced the decision to write a main character with a physical disability. When I was sixteen, I was diagnosed with hypertension. It shocked everyone, including the specialist handling the case. Before I was diagnosed, I had blinding headaches that would turn my lips pale. My mother thought I was joking. The specialist admitted me straight away. For me, it felt like a death sentence. The doctor warned me not to do anything strenuous for fear of me bursting a vessel and slipping into a coma. He actually used the word “death”. Therefore, in a way, Lifang reminds me of me – wanting to fly, wanting to be someone else. She wants people to listen to her, to understand – in a way, like me. Nobody believed I had/have hypertension. They thought I was making things up.

Rider is YA. It’s not as gritty as the stories out there in the market. It’s SFF, but not hard SFF. Yet I hope that it would connect with YA readers, because it deals with major issues and wishes and desires.

The Apex Book of World SF II is ready for pre-order.

The Apex Book of World SF II is ready for pre-orders.

Edited by Lavie Tidhar.
Awesome cover art by Mexican artist Raul Cruz.

My story “The Sound of Breaking Glass” is in it!

I promised pictures (of the caterpillars!)

My older girl took home two caterpillars last Friday as part of a science experiment. She has been quite excited about it – the school is quite progressive in where it allows the students to blog about their caterpillars. So, when the caterpillars arrived, she was over the moon.

Now, I am not an insect expert (though I read a lot and is a plant/animal geek). I noticed that the caterpillars were… um… spiky. They were big fat black caterpillars with spikes/processes, feeding on leaves I thought I’d recognized. I quizzed older girl on the diet of the spiky caterpillars and she replied: “Mulberry”. I have two pots of mulberry plants (Morus alba, for the scientific-minded), but their leaves did not resembled the ones inside the container. They looked more like the ones of the Australian mulberry, not from the Morus species.

I did my research and voila – the caterpillars are the young of the Malayan Eggfly and they eat the leaves of the Australian mulberry (Pipturus argentus), a relative of nettles!

One caterpillar did not make it through the night. Its companion pupated.

Apologies for the blurry pictures though.

A guest post and Rider update.

… at Patty Jansen’s blog. Many thanks to Patty for giving me the opportunity to talk about Obsidian Moon, Obsidian Eye, sequel to Wolf At The Door.

I also found out that Wolf At The Door is also on the Nebula Awards Recommended Reading List. I am flabbergasted/shocked/happy/elated. :)

Likewise, Rider has a new spiffy cover done by Terrance “Wookie” Hoffman (website). He’s a great tattoo artist and cover designer as well! Many grateful thanks!

Rider is also available on Amazon Kindle: here – priced at 2.99 USD.

Chap Goh Mei/Yuan Xiao 2012

Have a beautiful Yuan Xiao and Full Moon. Let’s light the Lantern Festival with joy.

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