December 23, 2011

Word Cloud

I decided to run a test on my own blog, to create a word cloud in which you the words you've used the most have the greatest font.  Here's what it came up with:

I'm rather proud that the word I use the most in my blog is "Universe," hehehe.  But that's the geek in me.  You can get your own word clouds here, if you want--have fun!

December 18, 2011

Poetical Universe

Continuing with my physics research (hey, gotta not sound too stupid when writing my scifi portions), I came up with this quote from Brian Greene... It's again about our universe, and how galaxies came to be, and about how the microcosmos (quantum field) is tied to the macrocosmos (our universe at large populated by billions of galaxies):

"According to inflation[ary big bang theory], the more than 100 billion galaxies, sparkling throughout space like heavenly diamonds, are nothing but quantum mechanics writ large across the sky."

Aaaaah, so beautiful! And fascinating!

With that side note of poetry, I'm now headed back for more cosmology/quantum/Higg's-fields/theoretical-physics reading!

PS: To those who are intrigued, Mr. Greene does a rather good job at explaining the various theories (including the one mentioned here) in his book The Fabric of the Cosmos.

December 17, 2011

Big Bang Theory Factoid

Doing research for a book is so much fun, that I sometimes lose sight of my original goal (which is why I’ve restricted myself to the 20 books already in my possession I’d purchased for such research).

For instance, reading Brian Green’s The Fabric of the Cosmos, I found out how scientists came up with a little theory called “The Big Bang” (though most of you probably knew of it already. . .).

It’s all about how our universe wants to get bigger than the ox, and temperatures:

“Just as a bicycle tire gets hotter and hotter as you squeeze more and more air into it, the universe gets hotter and hotter as matter and radiation are compressed together more and more tightly by the shrinking of space.  If we head back to a mere ten millionths of a second after the beginning, the universe gets so dense and so hot that ordinary matter disintegrates into a primordial plasma of nature’s elementary constituents.   And if we continue our journey, right back to nearly time zero itself—the time of the big bang—the entire known universe is compressed to a size that makes the dot at the end of this sentence look gargantuan.”

And this ties in with the fact that cosmic observations (starting with Hubble in 1929) show that the universe is currently getting larger and larger (from seeing other galaxies moving further and further away from us, and at a speed proportional to their distance from Earth, and noting that our universe is getting colder).

Isn’t this a cool factoid?  Ok, enough dilly dallying, back to my research!

December 15, 2011

What Every Storyteller Wants To Hear...

Going through Neil Gaiman's and Al Sarrantonio's Stories (a compilation of fiction stories), I came across these very true (and straight to the point) words of Neil's, how the key to a good story was held in four words...

"And I didn't realise it until a couple of days ago, when someone wrote in to my blog:

     Dear Neil,

     If you could choose a quote--either by you or another author--to be inscribed on the wall of a public library children's area, what would it be?


I pondered for a bit.  I'd said a lot about books and kids' reading over the years, and other people had said things pithier and wiser than I ever could.  And then it hit me, and this is what I wrote:

     I'm not sure I'd put a quote up, if it was me, and I had a library wall to deface.  I think I'd just remind people of the power of stories, of why they exist in the first place.  I'd put up the four words that anyone telling a story wants to hear.  The ones that show that it's working, and that pages will be turned:

     "...and then what happened?"

The four words that children ask, when you pause, telling them a story.  The four words you hear at the end of a chapter.  The four words, spoken or unspoken, that show you, as a storyteller, that people care."
Neil Gaiman, Stories, Foreward

December 3, 2011

My Own Home

That's it, folks! I actually bought my own domain name and set up a temporay website :D  Soooo happy!  The website itself is very basic (with a cool pic that makes me look like an old school Russian writer), but will be developed further as my writing career progresses.

Patience, my friends, patience (or so I tell myself every day).

My own home, my own home... lalala

December 1, 2011

Boring Party? No Problem...

“If I’m at a dull party I’ll invent some kind of game for myself and then pick someone to play it with so that I am, in effect, writing a scene. I’m supplying my half of the dialogue and hoping the other half comes up to standards. If it doesn’t, I try to direct it that way.”
—Evan Hunter

         How much more interesting would the evening be, if you started a conversation with “did you know that my neighbor got killed last week?    Yeah, it's the usual: Bored kids, annoying parents…  Except they caught a bunch of 10th graders performing some kind of voodoo ritual in the gym the other month and then one of the kids committed suicide…” 

Yeah.  Making up random stories for random people sounds kinda fun, actually.  I think I may try it.  I wonder what genre though…  Scifi?  Fantasy?  Horror?  Crime? 

On a side note, my boss came to work with a sword today.  Apparently he's been to some regressive hypnotherapist and now believes he's a knight of the round table.  I've been officially named his valet and spent the day dragon hunting...

November 17, 2011

The Cruxiness Of Planning

When, about 6 months ago, I decided to get back to my novel (I’d taken a side trip to script-writing), I figured I’d do it with a plan!  *Boo yeah!*

Why?  Simple reason:  when I first started working on my story, it was a simple one.  A neat, boxy hut made out or wood.  But, as I wrote on, I kept coming up with more ideas.  Cue in more rooms, more floors, perhaps a balcony here and there…  Started doing revisions (aka took out some rooms, remodeled others, and added still more).  And some more revisions.  And yet again, until my neat little hut turned into this:

I know, right?

So instead, I’m doing it the “right” way.  Or at least the right way for me.  Which is to plan out my entire series ahead of time, then write it (I have a feeling this will save me a lot of rewrites).

My inspiration came from reading that J.K. Rowling had planned all of her 7 books ahead of time before writing even book 1.  Which is quite a bit of work, let me tell ya.  I mean, look at this page of story planning from JKR, and that’s just for the Order of the Phoenix! 

(Thanks harrypotterforwriters for the borrow!)

So despite this taking much longer than at first anticipated, I know I’m on the right track! 

Go plotting!

November 11, 2011

In Memoriam

11 November 1918 – End of World War I.

Day when the Germans signed a peace treaty with the Allies. 

Total accountable casualties:

9 million soldiers dead.
21 million soldiers wounded.
5 million civilians dead.

Reason for war:  European internecine power struggle.  (Isn’t power a usual motive for such things?  Though I think religious fervor might be another strong reason.  I know, that’s the cynic in me talking.  However, I do believe many have fought and still do for what I call a Greater Ideal.)

Other wars since then?  Yep, many.  Too many.  I started listing them all (found this neat website here), but realized that my post would end up being depressingly huge.

So instead, on this Veterans’ Day, I’ve decided to focus on those almost never mentioned in history books, the soldiers who, whether for noble reasons or others, have put their lives on the line for their country.  May they never be forgotten.

Letter from 19-year old Lance-Corporal Frank Earley writing back to his father, a day before he departed):

Sunday afternoon, 1 Sep, 1918.

My dear Father,

It is a strange feeling to me but a very real one, that every letter now that I write home to you or to the little sisters may be the last that I shall write or you read.  I do not want you to think that I am depressed; indeed, on the contrary, I am very cheerful.  But out here, in odd moments the realization comes to me of how close death is to us.  A week ago I was talking with a man, a catholic, from Preston, who had been out here for nearly four years, untouched.  He was looking forward with certainty to going on leave soon.  And now he is dead – killed in a moment during our last advance.  Well it was God’s will.

I say this to you because I hope that you will realize, as I do, the possibility of the like happening to myself.  I feel very glad myself that I can look the fact in the face without fear or misgiving.  Much as I hope to live thro’ it all for your sakes and my little sisters!  I am quite prepared to give my life as so many have done before me.  All I can do is put myself in God’s hands for him to decide, and you and the little ones pray for me to the Sacred Heart and Our Lady. 

I hope that you will not move out of the old house yet.  Write and let me know when anything happens.  I see that you went to Preston a few days ago.  It seems years and years since I tried to get drowned in the canal. 

Well I have not much time left and I must end. 

With my dear love.  Pray for me.

Your son


November 1, 2011

Saving For A Rainy Day?

"When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes."
~Desiderus Erasmus

And that about sums up my philosophy...

October 5, 2011

Unified Field Theory

Current Writing Stage: Discovery (aka research).

That’s right, like Joan Rowling before me, I’m planning out my full book cycle ahead of time, to make sure the whole story flows smoothly.  Otherwise, how could I ensure a good sense of continuity without jarring if I don’t even know what’s going to happen later?

However, I’m juggling with so many different topics right now (all quite exciting, I can assure you.  Well, in my opinion if that has any weight), that I feel like I’m on a quest to discover the Unified Field Theory.  And considering not even Einstein managed to figure it out, I’m sure you can see this quest of mine is no joke.

Unified Field Theory:  physics theory that’s supposed to find the relationship between all theories explaining our universe (ex: nuclear, gravitational, electromagnetic, other).

Still, I enjoy all of this quite a bit.  Math has taught me that, in order to solve big, complicated problems, I just need to break them down into smaller, manageable portions, and that’s exactly what I’m doing here.

And I’m nearly done!  For starting with the New Year, I’ll finally be able to progress on to the next stage:  Planning :)

October 4, 2011

To Be The Next Monopoly Creator You Need To Be...

Anything, really.  Except, perhaps, a worker at a big toy company.  Just kidding :)  Though the following quote is interesting...

"I learned that the most successful games actually came from independent investors, like me, rather than research and development departments at big toy companies.  Monopoly was created by an engineer, Pictionary by a waiter, and Scrabble by an architect."  ~Tim Walsh, inventor of TriBond and Blurt! Board Games in an interview by Mary Bellis.

And if you make it a fun one, it's a definite plus!

September 30, 2011

Doc, Is The Dinosaurs’ Extinction Contagious?

(Still) doing research for my book, I fell on this really interesting article that explores several possibilities for the dinosaurs’ extinction.

The one (and only) possibility that had been floating around in my head since I first heard of dinosaurs was of a Huge Catastrophe: imagine meteor crashing down on earth, causing supervolcanoes to erupt around the world, starting wave after wave of tsunamis and earthquakes…

I much prefer the ending of The Land Before Time
But “What Killed Dinosaurs?” brings up a good point: 

“Extinction is not a simple event; it is not simply the death of all representatives of a group.  It is the cessation of the origination of new species that renders a group extinct.”

So... what if it wasn’t Huge Catastrophe that came a knocking but instead, oh, I dunno, Massive Epidemy?  If so, what kind was it?  Dinosaur Flu?  Or something so far out there it could’ve come from outer space…  like global radiation from gamma rays that destroyed their reproductive organs, pretty present from our Galaxy’s Ever-Generous Center?

And if the latter, could we catch it too?

September 27, 2011

Strange Sky Creatures

In doing research for my Epic Story (hu-hummmm, do I hear laughter?), I ran across this interesting set of stories about sky people, storm wizards, and their demonships (yes, yes, there are such stories, dating back to the 9th century).

And I ran across this terrifying picture:

Can you imagine a world where our sky would be populated by creatures as monstrous as those found in the ocean?  They would prefer to sail high above terra firma, in the stratosphere and mesosphere where the air is exceedingly scarce so that if those creatures were to get too close to our own sea level, they would "drown."  However, they would occasionally be known to descend upon us and cause terror (kinda like how whales beach and no one knows why). 

You know what?  I'm really glad our skies are (currently) monster-free!

September 26, 2011

The Art of Creating Realistic Goals

One thing I abhor, is when I'm not being productive.  If that's the case, I end up going to bed feeling guilty, then I can't sleep properly (a fact that's exacerbated by the fact that I have crazy dreams). 
So a way to get rid of that yucky feeling, is to set goals for myself.  Goals that are reasonably achievable.  It's also a great way for a writer to progress through his/her work:  set a goal to write so many words/pages a day/week, and you're good.  Soon enough, you'll find yourself with a mass of paperwork that requires loads of editing (well, that's what happens to me).  Key, of course, is to keep to your goal.  You can also set yourself goals for the mid- and long-term.

Here's an example (taken from my list of mid-term goals--so over the next year or so):
  • Finish planning out my sff series.
  • Finish book 1 (pre-editing).
  • Make at least 1 person laugh every day.

Here's another example (taken from my longer-term goal list):
  • Get published.
  • Live young, happy and healthy for the next 400 years.
  • Meet aliens (so long as they don't use me as a lab rat).
See, isn't it fun to plan out your life?  What are your goals?

This is not the alien type I wanna meet.


This is!

PS:  I didn't show my daily goal breakdown because, frankly, it's not quite as exciting as the longer-term goals...  It mostly consists of work, study, reading, and writing, with some fun with friends interspersed here and there.

September 15, 2011


The lesson I've learned this week as a writer (though I'm sure it can be applied to many other subjects) is the following:

Don’t write when you’re uninspired.  For if you can’t see the story, and if you feel no passion, then how are you going to make the readers see and feel?

And thus do I continue to make progress on this long road to becoming an author.  Cheers!

~The Writing Apprentice

September 14, 2011

From Dreams To Story – Part 1

I’ve been trying to wake up at 5:15 every morning for the past week, but every time my dreams (nightmares?) intervene and the result is...  Epic Fail.  I just get so caught up in them, even though some hyper-buried consciousness of me knows it’s just a dream.  But I want to know the ending, and I want the ending to be good (aka I get the hot guy and all the monsters are out), so I struggle with Mr. Sandman to get what I want… and keep on snoozing till 6:20 am.  Big sigh.

Here’s a small taste of what I dreamed last night.

Belgium, the sun’s actually up before I am.  Now that is a surprise.  But not a happy one, ‘cause it means I’m late for work.  Again.  I mean, I’ve had to skip work a bunch of times lately:  once because I claimed to be sick so I could go on a long-planned trip with some friends, and a second time because I was really sick.  There may have been a couple of other times as well, but with the memory of a rabbit, I don’t quite recall.

I rush down the stairs of my house, my footsteps as heavy as jackhammers on cement.  Which, of course, draws my dad’s attention (my dad always wakes up on time, and certainly never runs late).
            “You’re late,” he says from behind the living room door where he’s probably drinking a cup of coffee.
            Now tell me something I don’t know. 
            “They might fire you,” he adds as I make my way down to the ground floor.
            Well there you go, that’s something I didn’t know.  My guts knot up in a way they haven’t since I gave my last piano recital.  What will I do if I lose this job?  I have so many debts to pay off!  My student loans, my car loan, my credit cards, and I barely have a dime saved up at the bank on the side.  What if I can’t even make rent?
            Ok, so you probably think that, living with my parents, they probably wouldn’t kick me out.  But this is my dream, ok?  And in this dream, my parents would make me pack my bags and tell me to see if the sun shines brighter on the other side of town (though they would be more correct saying that I should check what kind of greys are on the other side).
            I scramble to put my Inspector Gadget raincoat on, don’t even bother to lace my shoes and storm outside to my beat up car.  It’s a relic that car, truly.  Grey (hey, not much color here, ok?), elongated, kind of squat.  In short, not very pretty to look at, like a fish that’s been left out for too long (a week, perhaps).
            The motor coughs to life like a rheumatic lion (sorry, it appears to me that there are just way too many animals in my story, but it’s too late to undo), and I floor the pedal.  My car lurches forward, pauses for a second, then continues on its merry way, towards work. 
          “Thank God,” I exclaim under my breath.  If this box on wheels can make it all the way, I might manage to get there on time.

            But there’s lots of traffic, and just as I'm about to cross one of the main avenues, the light turns red to let a darn tram through.  I love public transportation, don’t get me wrong, but only when it doesn’t inconvenience me.
            Finally, the light turns green for me, and I speed off.  There’s a small road that cuts through a portion of the woods that abut the street I’m taking, and if I can make it, I’ll be able to pass all these other crazy drivers that are slowing me down.  The side road is made of gravel that shoots out from under my wheels like bullets from a machine gun.
            “Sorry, sorry!” I shout at some poor pedestrians taking cover, despite the fact that I know they can’t hear nor see me.
            Something explodes, and my car dies.  Just like that.  There’s no smoke, no grinding of the engine, no last whimper.  It’s like the engine's been euthanized right before me.
            Biting my lower lip, I get out of the car, pop the hood open and take a look—not that I’m a mechanical whizz or anything (in fact, I’m not a whiz in anything), but I have learned how to add more fluids to my car when needed (any fluids: oil, coolant, transmission, brake, you name it.  And yes, this isn't the first decrepit vehicle I happen to have owned).
            But there’s nothing I can do about the horror that’s staring me in the face right now.  Well, it would be staring at me if it weren’t dead already.  For there, taking up a big portion of my darling motor (everything is darling to you once lost, even if you were never really happy with it beforehand, unless it’s a severe case of diarrhea, in which case I’m more than happy to kick it to the curb--apologies if I’ve offended any sensitivities), is a giant shrimp. 
            Yes, you’ve read me right.  A giant, orange-pinkish shrimp has managed to weasel its way into my car and has eaten a crucial part of my motor (don’t ask me which or how, I don’t know).  My car still ran fine just so long as the shrimp was alive (somehow the pieces were still working from inside its digestive tract—hey, this is a dream, it doesn’t have to make sense).  But one of those gravels must have accidentally killed the monster and now I’m out of a car.
            Tears well up in my eyes—my dad was right, I’m so gonna get fired!  And then I won’t be able to pay my bills, and I’m gonna end up on the streets, and everyone’s gonna hate me!  (Hey, you try to be reasonable when you’re faced with some of your worst fears.)  I grab the shrimp still stuck inside my car, pull it out with a pop, and fling it in the bushes.
            “It’s all your fault!” I scream, outraged that such a pathetic little creature could create so much trouble for me.  “You've ruined my life!”
            I notice then the two little ladies I’d nearly killed, frowning at me with utter contempt, whispering to each other what must be a thousand curses against me, my reckless driving, and my trashing the neighborhood with sea monsters.
            Cowered, I pick up the dead crustacean.  It’s all slimy and all those paws (legs?) ick me out. What am I supposed to do with a shrimp that’s the size of my hand?  Will someone get mad if I toss it in the trash?  It is biodegradable, isn't it?  Unless...
            An idea forms in my head and I smile despite the tension that pervades my body.  I swing the shrimp before my face as if it could understand me.  “With you as evidence, there’s no way my boss won’t believe me when I explain why I couldn't make it on time.”
            “Alessa!  What are you doing here?”
            I swirl around at the rumbling voice that's called out my name.  It’s none other than DeeGee, one of the principals at my company, on his way to grab his daily coffee.  He waves hi to me with a bright smile. 
            “There’s no need for you to go to work,” he says.
            “Really?”  I can feel my eyes light up.  The huge weight of Responsibility lifts from my shoulders.  I can breathe again!  Did the office unexpectedly close?  Maybe they had a prawn infestation that's killed all of their servers.
            “Yeah, they fired you this morning,” DeeGee adds without missing a stride.
            I stare at his retreating back.  The whole weight of the world comes crashing down on me like an anvil.  I drop my shrimp for the second time that day.
            As I contemplate my remaining options—tough thing to do when brain is functioning as proficiently as my late car—DeeGee looks over his shoulder.  “You may try to plead with the Board,” he yells over the traffic din.  “Maybe if you beg well enough, they’ll let you come back.”
            A shudder runs through me.  No one’s ever seen the Board of Directors before, which has only added to their mystique.  Some say they’re these super old men who oversee the running of the city from their church spires.  I don’t know why they live there.  Perhaps they’ve always been fans of Victor Hugo.  Or perhaps, like Quasimodo, they’re so horrible to look at that they’ve decided to hide there (of course, considering their impressive age, I can imagine their ghost-white flesh sagging off their faces would gross out most of the population). 
            But if that’s the only way I can get my job back, then I don’t care.  With a renewed sense of hope, I turn to the cross street where another tram is now stopped and stare at the large, gothic church in the distance.  If I can face down a giant, metal-sucking shrimp, I sure as hell can take care of a bunch of gaga men.  Right?

Of course, this isn’t the end of my dream.  There’s more to come (and it will, in my next post, promise… unless I forget about it, I told you I had a rabbit’s memory).  But at least now you can understand why I had to stay asleep to finish my quest, right?

September 13, 2011

The Tree Frog's Fable -- A Korean Children's Story

I've finally finished reading/translating my first Korean children's story, and I have to say, I'm quite excited about it (though I have to admit I don't remember half the words I learned while doing it).

And reading this story reminded me of all those tales I loved hearing and reading while growing up.  They're simple, colorful and usually have some kind of lesson at the end.  Kind of like Les Fables de Jean de la Fontaine, or those Full House episodes (and no, not the kdrama one)...

So here's my translated version of the story, with below (for those of you who are curious) the Korean version.  Enjoy!

Word of the day:  gaegul (개굴):  ribbit.

The Tree Frog's Fable

     Once upon a time, lived in a Korea village a tree frog and his widowed mother.  The tree frog loved his mother, but he was a troublemaker.  He was a child who went West when his mother told him to go East, and did this when she told him to do that.
     Mother tree frog said, "Ribbit, ribbit.  Today's warm and sunny.  Go play with your friends in the stream. Ribbit, ribbit."
     So then the tree frog went to play alone in the mountain.
     The next day, mother tree frog said, "Don't go too far today.  I've heard a snake has come."
     However, the tree frog went to find his friends.  "Ribbit, ribbit.  Don't you want to go on an adventure?" he said.  "Let's go find a snake."
     This kind of behavior continued on and on.  The mother tree frog's heart was troubled.  Eventually, the mother caught a disease.  Even then, the tree frog didn't listen to his mother. 
     Mother asked, "What did you do to that plant tree?"
     That's right, he'd cut the tree.  The mother tree frog's health gor worse, and she knew it wouldn't get better.  Before she died, the mother asked a request from her son, "When I'm dead, bury me by the stream, don't bury me in the hill."
     Actually, the mother wanted to be buried in the hill but because she knew her son well, she told him the opposite of her wish.
     "Ribbit, ribbit.  Mom, please don't die.  Ribbit, ribbit."
     But it was already too late.
     The tree frog was sad.  "Ribit, ribbit.  Because of me, mom is dead," he thought.  "Because I never listened to her words, she got sick.  I will listen to mom's last wish."
     The tree frog did what he though was correct and buried his mother by the river.  Then he came to see his mother's grave every day.
     One summer day, heavy rain started to fall down.  The rain didn't stop and cotninued to fall for many days.  The rain grew the river all the way up to the mother tree frog's grave, until it was covered in water.  The tree frog got worried and with a sad sound cried, "Ribbit, ribbit.  My mother got washed away!  Ribbit, ribbit."
     That's why, when it rains, frogs cry by the rivers.  And that's also why when people in Korea do the opposite of what they're told, they're called Cheong Kaeguli, tree frog.

청개구리의 교훈

     옛날 옛날 한국의 어느 마을에 청개구리가 홀어머니와 살고 있었어요.  청개구리는 엄마가 시키면 뭐든지 반대로만 하는 말썽장이였여요.
     엄마 개구리가, "개굴 개굴.  오늘 날씨가 따뜻하고 화창하구나.  친구와 냇가 가서 놀으렴.  개굴 개굴." 하고 말했어요.  그러자 청개구리는 혼자서 산에 가서 놀았어요.
     그 다음 날 엄마 개구리가 "오늘은 멀리 가지 말아라.  뱀이 나올지도 모른단다."  하자 청개구리는 친구를 찾아가, "개굴 개굴.  얘들아, 모험하러 가지 않을래?  우리 밤 찾으러 가자." 핬여요.
     이런 일이 계속 되자 엄마 개구리는 속이 상했어요.  결국 엄마는 병이 들었어요.  그래도 청개구리는 엄마 말을 듣지 않았어요.  엄마가 나무를 심으라고 하자 청개구리가 무엇을 했을까요?  그라요.  나무를 베었어요.  엄마 개구리의 건강은 나빠져만 갔어요.  엄마는 병이 낫지 않을 것을 알았어요.
     엄마가 죽기 전에 아들을 불러 부탁했어요.  "내가 죽으면 냇가에 묻어다오.  언덕에 묻지 말고."  사실 엄마는 언덕에 묻히기를 바랬지만 아들을 잘 알기 때문에 소원을 반대로 말한 갓이었어요.  "개굴 개굴.  엄마, 돌아가시지 마세요.  개굴 개굴."  그러나 이미 늦었어요.
     청개구리가 슬퍼서 "개굴 개굴.  엄마가 나 때문에 들아가신 거야.  내가 너무 말을 안 들어서 병이 나셨어.  엄마의 마자막 소원은 들어드려야지."  하고 생각했어요.  청개구리는 엄마를 냇가에 묻고는 자기가 옳은 일을 했다고 상각했어요.  그리고는 매일 엄마 산소에 찾아왔어요.
     어느 여름날, 큰 비가 내리기 시작했어요.  비가 그치지 않고 며칠 계속 내렸어요.  이 비로 냇물이 불어 엄마 개구리의 무덤까지 차 올랐어요.  청개구리는 엄마 산소가 물에 잠길까 봐 걱정이 되어 슬픈 소리로 크게 울었어요.  "개굴 개굴.  우리 엄마 떠내려간다.  개굴 개굴."
     그래서 비가 오면 개구리들이 냇가에서 운답니다.  또 그래서 한국에서는 뭐든 반대로만 하는 사람을 청개구리라고 부른답니다.

September 9, 2011

The Life Of A Swordsman

Barely have I finished The Darkness That Comes Before that I'm already plunging into another book. Well, technically, I'd already dived into my current book, Lev Grossman's The Magician King, when I decided to do a side trip along Bakker's shores.

But fear not!  It's not because I don't like TMK. Au contraire! I actually find this adult fairy tale (for it has all the elements of one, truly), and its sarcastic undertone. I suppose Harvard and Yale do produce excellent products, such as this writer...

     'A frigid spitting mist was blowing in from the ocean. [Quentin] could see After Island clearly now; they'd be landing soon. He decided he was done. He should at least change out of his pajamas before he set off in search of the golden key.
     "I'm knocking off, Bingle," he said. He placed his practice blade on the deck next to Bingle's other two. His arms felt like they were floating.
     Bingle nodded, not breaking his own rhythm.
     "Come back to me when you can do half an hour," he said. "With each arm."
     He performed a spectacular no-handed roundoff that looked like it was going to take him right off the forecatle deck, but somehow he swallowed his inertia just in time to stick the landing. He finished with his blade jammed between the ribs of some imaginary assailant. He withdrew it and cleaned the blade on his pants leg.
     That was probably a few more lessons own the track.
     "Be careful what you learn from me," he said.  "What is written with a sword cannot be erased."
     "That's why I have you," Quentin said.  "So I won't have to write anything. With my sword."
     "Sometimes I think I am fate's sword. She wields me cruelly."
     Quentin wondered what it was like to be so unselfconsciously melodramatic. Nice, probably."'
The Magician King, by Lev Grossman

A definite read for those who are interested to see what would happen if adults found themselves in Fantasyland.

September 7, 2011

Gambling According To A Harlot

'So many men, [the harlot] had found, harboured a void of some kind, a place accountable only to other men. Then the real seduction would begin.
"Tell me," she sometimes purred, "what have you seen that makes you more... more than other men?" Most found the question amusing. Others were perplexed, annoyed, indifferent, or even outraged. A rare handful, Achamian among them, found it fascinating.  But every one of them answered. Men needed to be more. This was why, she had decided, so many of them gambled: they sought coint, certainly, but they also yearned for a demonstration, a sign that the world, the Gods, the future--someone--had somehow set them apart.'

The Darkness That Comes Before, by R. Scott Bakker

The book, first in a trilogy, is quite philosophical through and through, though that may have to do with the fact that the author studied philosophy.

Though it starts off somewhat (at least in terms of action), it has managed to somehow implant its barbed hook in me and reeled me in not just with its interesting thoughts on human actions and interractions, but also with its events of epic proportions.

I definitely recommend the book, but only to those who find pondering over the intricacies of the human mind interesting.

July 28, 2011

Love According to Dr. Seuss

"We are all a little weird and life's a little weird,
and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours,
we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love."

~Dr. Seuss

And I think that about sums it up! Enjoy your weirdness... and that of others :3

July 26, 2011

Drive and Desire

Desire is the key to motivation, but it's determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal--a commitment to excellence--that will enable you to attain the success you seek.
Mario Andretti

July 5, 2011

A Joke Is A Very Serious Thing

Or so said Mr. Churchill.

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve given any update as to my writing…  and that’s because there was no major update to give.  I spent the last year taking a screenwriting class, only to find out in the end that my stories (or the ones I like anyway) were too complicated to be features.

All the great things are simple, or so said Mr. Churchill.  Still though, I like my stories to be a tapestry of interwoven plots and subplots that in the end, form a beautiful (if complex) picture.  So... I finally returned to my book series (not that I’d ever planned on quitting it altogether, but I took a—rather long, might I say—pause via Hollywood).  And it’s been a BLAST! 

Granted, it was a necessary break, for it permitted me to improve on my story planning.  Which is key if I don’t want my chef-d’oeuvre-wannabe to become a rather unpalatable blob.  Ah, and to think that I once felt I was so close to success already (hey, I HAVE had one of my sorry-isn’t-good-enough-for-an-excuse manuscript versions read by an agent—or at least the first few pages).  But some very well-targeted missiles from my brother’s very discernible mind put me back in place.  Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary, as Mr. Churchill once said.  Well, in my case it’s true, and I can already feel the tinglings of a job well done when concatenating my research and ideas into a coherent background for my Vis Viva Cycle.

Well, I shouldn’t count my chickens before they’re hatched, eh?  After all, this is a rather arduous journey. 

So what does this post have to do with humor?  I’m coming to that.

As I’m striving to become a better writer, I get the chance to read lots of fun books, and noticed something in my favorite fantasy writer’s book Best Served Cold.  See, I found myself chuckling in a number of passages as a result of a repeated but oh-so-successful process.

And what is this process, may you ask?

Repetition of a point/word/expression throughout the said passage (or chapter or book).  Why is it funny?  Well, first of all, said point/word/expression is somewhat funny to begin with (usually sardonic).  Initial chuckle or, if more stuck-up than me, slight trembling of upper lift.  But then the point/word/expression’s later repeated.  And then again, and again, until you end up laughing at it.

If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time - a tremendous whack.  As Mr. Churchill said.

In this case, the repetition creates a sort of inner joke between the writer and the reader, drawing the latter further into the story.

And after this wonderful realization, I shall now resume my studying/reading/writing session.  After all, Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential.

Or so said Mr. Churchill.

July 3, 2011

Ancient Egyptian Love

Love, how I'd love to slip down to the pond, bathe with you close by on the bank.
Just for you I'd wear my new Memphis swimsuit, made of sheer linen, fit for a queen--Come see how it looks in the water!
Couldn't I coax you to wade in with me? Let the cool creep slowly around us?
Then I'd dive deep down and come up for you dripping,
Let you fill your eyes with the little red fish that I'd catch.
And I'd say, standing there tall in the shallws:
Look at my fish, love, how it lies in my hand,
How my fingers caress it, slip down its sides...
But then I'd say softer, eyes bright with your seeing:
A gift, love. No words.
Come close and look, it's all me.
~Love Songs of the New Kingdom, translated from Ancient Egyptian by John L. Foster.

June 26, 2011

Summer's Soft Surrender

The Gentian weaves her fringes -
The Maple's loom is red -
My departing blossoms
Obviate parade.

A brief, but patient illness -
An hour to prepare,
And one below this morning
Is where the angels are -
It was a short procession,
The Bobolink was there -
An aged Bee addressed us -
And then we knelt in prayer -
We trust that she was willing -
We ask that we may be.
Summer - Sister - Seraph!
Let us go with thee!

In the name of the Bee-
And of the Butterfly-
And of the Breeze - Amen!

~Emily Dickinson

Just a reminder to enjoy sweet Summer's embrace while we can =)

June 24, 2011

Just relax...

"In the United States of America, roughly 80% of those who visit a doctor's office are ill because their immune system has been damaged by stress." ~ William Sullivan

May 24, 2011

Becoming a god - Tesla's Way

"What I said in regard to the greatest achievement of the man of science whose mind is bent upon the mastery of the physical universe, was nothing more than what I stated in one of my unpublished addresses, from which I quote:

'According to an adopted theory, every ponderable atom is differentiated from a tenuous fluid, filling all space merely by spinning motion, as a whirl of water in a calm lake. By Being set in movement this fluid, the ether, becomes gross matter. Its movement arrested, the primary substance reverts to its normal state. It appears, then, possible for man through harnessed energy of the medium and suitable agencies for starting and stopping ether whirls to cause matter to form and disappear.

At his command, almost without effort on his part, old worlds would vanish and new ones would spring into being. He could alter the size of this planet, control its seasons, adjust its distance from the sun, guide it on its eternal journey along any path he might choose through the depths of the universe. He could make planets collide and produce his suns and stars, his heat and light; he could originate life in all its infinite forms. To cause at will the birth and death of matter would be man's grandest deed, which would give him the master of physical creation, make him fulfill his ultimate destiny.'"

~Nikola Tesla, Transmission of Electrical Energy Without Wires (1904)

A very interesting piece, for sure, and very reminiscent of Pinky and the Brain, in terms of grandness.

But is mastering physical creation really man's ultimate destiny? And if so, how close are we to achieving it?

May 9, 2011

Pride and Prejudice

Elizabeth Bennet: (…) I wonder who first discovered the power of poetry in driving away love?
Mr. Darcy: I thought that poetry was the food of love.
Elizabeth Bennet: Of a fine stout love, it may. But if it is only a vague inclination I'm convinced one poor sonnet will kill it stone dead.

~Pride and Prejudice

I find that writing bad poems helps expunge any sad feeling I may nurture--definitely recommend it as medicine! :)

What about you?

Broken Tin Man

What once had filled me with such joy and made me whole
Has turned to bitter acid and bored a wide hole
Straight through the well-polished sheets of my brand new heart.
And all it once contained is now leaking away
Down my tin cheeks; all that’s left is rust and decay.

What strange feeling is leaving me felled as a tree?
No mill wrighting can fix this sudden amputee;
No helicoils may weld back what’s been rent apart.
I open my chest, unscrew the metallic scrap
And stare… Where there was a heart, now stands a vast gap.

And the wizard who gave it me has departed
Out of reach in some land as of yet unchartered.
There is no more magic left or any dark art
For those scrapped in this arcane world of joy and pain.
Like Humpty, I can’t be put together again.

March 8, 2011

Running A Marathon

I know, crazy title for one who can barely jog. But really quite apropos, methinks (though methinks hates to admit it, methinks has been wrong at times…).

Ran across (pun not initially intended) a cool article that talks about “Going For The Dream.” And here are some of the most juicy parts:

A – Make sure you have a vision.
Well, I have lots of those, so check. Do you?

B – Give yourself the time to make it.
Which is really hard for me. Hey, I grew up in this modern, immediate-gratification society too (contrary to what others might think, Belgium is pretty up-to-date. And no, smurfs are a long extinct, like the dodo. Unless…).
However, as mentioned in the article and in this interesting book (Outliers: The Story of Success), if one works hard for 10 years, one will become a pro. So the key is to stick with it, and work.

C – Kaizen
This one I added myself – but I feel it really encompasses what the remainder of the post says. For more info, see my previous post here and ScreenwritingU’s more detailed version here.

So really, the key is to not give up on your dream, work hard, improve, and be patient. You’re in it for the long run, after all!

January 24, 2011


"You can achieve incomparable levels of skill through incomparable spirit and commitment." ~ Michael Jordan

Yesterday, on a conference call with my ScreenwritingU fellows, I learned about various philosophies that are to help me as a writer. And this is when I (re-)learned of this fabulous Japanese philosophy: Kaizen (改善).

It was a breakthrough. The concept is simple--try to improve yourself (or in my case my writing) every day, by just 1%. And by the end of the year, you'll have improved by 365%!

So I've decided to follow the Kaizen way and find a way to improve my writing, every day. Be it conceptualizing, improving my grammar, my descriptions, my dialogues, my characters--anything! But this way, one day, I too will achieve incomparable levels of skill!

Goal #1: Wake up 1 hour early every day and actually get some writing done!

PS: If you're interested in listening to more philosophies that help a screenwriter achieve success, ScreenwritingU will be hosting a class starting January 31, 2011, for free, on facebook and twitter!