December 29, 2016

Questions On True Love By Surrealists

Les amants - René Magritte
I am currently getting acquainted with the roaring twenties for a future story, and fell on this little extract from a surrealist magazine, La Révolution surréaliste, which asked its readers the following questions on love in 1929:

  1. What kind of hope do you place in love?
  2. How do you envision the passage of the THOUGHT OF LOVE to the FACT OF LOVING? Would you, voluntarily or not, sacrifice your freedom for love? Have you done it? Would you be willing, if necessary, to sacrifice a cause you until then thought you should always defend so as not to prove yourself unworthy of love? Would you accept to not become the person you could have become if instead you could fully taste the certainty of loving? How would you judge someone who would betray his/her convictions to please the one s/he loves? Can such a token be asked of someone, could it be received?
These questions, among many, are quite thought-provoking. How would you honestly respond to such questions?

December 22, 2016

The Seeker's Key CINEFANTASY Prize Winner (A Traveling Tale)

Hello everyone!

Winter is here (can't wait till they finally get to say that in Game of Thrones, seriously!) and in a few days, it's Christmas time, my favorite holiday of the season!  Simply because of how enchanting all the decorations are, not mentioning the beautiful songs and hymns.

With the end of the year, and soon the beginning of a new one, comes a renewed sense of purpose and energy. As you will read on my newsletter to come out soon, 2016 has been a very difficult year.  However, things started to turn around for me in October while on my vacation to Japan--my first real vacation in five years!

I'd just found out about an international screenwriting contest organized by the ICFT for a short, fantasy movie script.

A month later, I found out I was one of six finalists (technically seven, as one of the scripts was co-written by two sisters from India) to be sent out to Macau for the 1st International Film Festival & Awards event to present my project, The Seeker's Key.  That was this month.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous over in Macau--sunny and warm, so very unlike the weather we've been having here in Belgium (although the temperatures here are still rather warm for the season).

I got to meet some truly wonderful people, visit the land, and taste delicious egg tarts. Seriously, if you ever go there, you just have to try some (unless you hate eggs, or tarts, or both, in which case you should probably avoid them).

On our last evening in Macau, after the festival's closing ceremony and during the press conference, the winners of the contest were announced and I am pleased to say that I received the second prize for my story!

My trip back was, however, a total disaster. (If you don't wish to know the details, you can skip down to the section next to the Xmas tree!)

After spending a whole day at the Hong Kong airport, I found out that the plane had some unexpected delays, which meant that my connecting flight to Brussels was most definitely compromised (the people who had booked the plane for me had only left me 1.5 hours to unboard the plane, go through customs in Beijing, then go through security again to finally find my new gate, and board the next plane). Despite my asking for help and information from the airline company staff, all I got were smiles and words of appeasement ("don't worry," "everything will be fine," "our staff over there will help you go through everything faster," "you won't miss your plane," or even, "don't worry, there's a plane that goes to your location every day!").

Only once in Beijing did I find out that they were all saying that to pawn us hapless travelers off to their colleagues so we'd become someone else's problem...  And lo and behod, after having a stewardess laugh at me for worrying (I do wish I were exaggerating) I found out upon landing that it was too late, and that I (along with a few other travelers) would be stuck there for 3 days. Lovely, isn't it?
CINEFANTASY finalist presentation - 2016

To make matters worse, though we were told we would be reimbursed for our lost work days lost (at least 2 days' worth), get food (or money for food, since none of us had Chinese yuans), not only did they not have tickets ready for our next flights out (it was up to us to go back to the airport and take care of all of that), but they just dumped us all inside a rickety shuttle that was falling apart. We all were justly grossed out by the hotel it took us to, The Golden Phoenix (more like ashy phoenix, if you ask me).

Have you ever wondered what if feels like to be inside a horror story (minus the actual murderer(s))?  Well, look no further than that hotel. It was in the middle of nowhere--light wooded area on one side, empty land on the other--the inside was nearly as cold as the inside (and trust me, it's cold at that time in Beijing!), nothing was lit up except for the front desk, and next to the entrance was a huge pile of luggage. We found out upon arrival, that the airline company had booked fewer rooms than there were passengers, and so the hotel ladies (not a half-smile to be shared between them) wanted us to room together. Strangers, sharing a room? Don't think so. But they kept refusing to rent us another room (and the airline company hung up on us when we called them to sort things out, never to pick the phone up again afterwards), even when we offered to pay for it ourselves.

Finally, after spending 45 minutes there, we all got our own room key (but were denied food--kitchens were closed, and obviously, being in the middle of nowhere, we couldn't just walk over to a restaurant or foodmart). Another disaster was awaiting me when I opened the door to my room: it was freezing, there were massive, dirty spots everywhere, including on the ceiling where it was clear that there had been a leak, it stank of smoke and mildew, the bedsheets didn't appear to have been changed as there were still evident traces of people sitting and shifting around on the beds, the heater barely worked (it clicked alarmingly when trying to turn up the temperature, and I was afraid it might even explode!), and there was no hot water (unless one calls lukewarm in a cold room "hot").

The giant Christmas tree on the Grand'Place in Brussels
Needless to say, I wanted to get out of there, and fast.  So I booked another flight with another airline, and boy was I glad to land in Europe again!!

Wah, can't believe I spent half of this post talking about the horrid conditions (and I've skipped over many details) which we had to face thanks to that horrid airline company, but it was all just so...surreal. I wish I'd taken some pictures, but the lateness of the hour (past 3 am) and being treated like animals being taken to the slaughterhouse kinda made me forget...

But now that I'm back, I can finally focus again on the publication of Curse of the Fey, which is now set to come out in Spring 2017!  For those of you who have signed up for my newsletter, you are set to receive a surprise with regards to it soon :)

If you would like to do some other reading while you wait, I suggest checking out Leigh Bardugo's Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom duology--it rocks! If you're looking for something for young'uns (and adults alike), The Velveteen Rabbit is also a great tale.

And now, I wish you all a safe and happy Christmas, and may 2017 be good and bright to each and every one of you!

December 12, 2016

Tips On Storyboarding

Here's a great image with some basic (but very important) concepts of storyboarding--of use to anyone in the visual arts and to writers, so thought I'd share :)

For more background info, check out the article on, or read the original article on for even more details!

December 7, 2016


Here's a fun quote from H. L. Mencken
from The Baltimore Evening Sun,
July 26, 1920):

As democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, 
more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. 
On some great and glorious day, 
the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, 
and the White House will be occupied 
by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.

What are your thoughts on this?

November 20, 2016

King Richard The Lionheart

Here's a fun little fact I just garnered from reading Romance & Legend of Chivalry by A. R. Hope Moncrieff...

Remember Robin Hood (my favorite Disney cartoon, actually)?  Well, the real King Richard the Lionheart got his name, apparently, not because he had a stalwart heart--something I strongly believed in my youth-but because the man apparently "thrust his arm down a lion's throat to pull out its heart."

Granted, this could have been an extra exploit added on by some overzealous minstrel singing of the Crusaders' bloody deeds.

August 25, 2016

Being Truly Creative

Came across this excerpt from The Harvard Business Review (Dec. 1, 2015) while reading this pretty cool book I started, The Mental Game of Writing, which I thought was interesting and wanted to share with you:

     "What determines whether the ideas we generate are truly creative? Recent research of ours finds that one common factor often gets in the way: we tend to undervalue the benefits of persistence.
     In a series of experiments we observed that people consistently underestimated the number of ideas they could generate while solving a creative challenge. In one, we brought 24 university students into the laboratory during the week leading up to Thanksgiving and asked them to spend ten minutes coming up with as many ideas of dishes to serve at Thanksgiving dinner as they could. Then we had them predict how many more ideas they could generate if they persisted on the task for an additional ten minutes.
     On average, the students predicted they would be able to generate around 10 new ideas if they persisted. But we found that they were actually able to generate around 15 new ideas.
     Several similar follow-up studies we conducted produced the same result. We asked professional comedians to generate punch lines for a sketch comedy scene; adults to generate advertisement slogans for a product; and people to come up with tactics a charity organization could use to increase donations. In each of these experiments, participants significantly underestimated how many ideas they could generate while persisting with the challenge.
     Importantly, after each study we asked a separate group of people to rate the creativity of the participants' ideas. Across the majority of our studies we found that ideas generated while persisting were, on average, rated to be more creative than ideas generated initially. Not only did participants underestimate their ability to generate ideas while persisting, they underestimated their ability to generate their most creative ideas.
     Why do we underestimate the benefits of persistence? It's because creative challenges feel difficult. People often have the experience of feeling "stuck," being unsure of how to find a solution, or hitting a wall with one idea and having to start over again.
     [C]reative ideas take time. They are often generated after an initial period of thinking deeply about the problem, and exploring different possible solution paths."

And it's true! I've been working dutifully on the Morgana Trilogy every day after work, but coming up with scenes and dialogues and all that jazz that makes a book (I hope) fun to read--even if I've already made a detailed outline and everything!--is going much slower than I'd wanted.

OK, granted, writing 6000 words a day is a big challenge, even (I think) for a full-time writer, and my average 1500 words a day falls way short of that. So I'm afraid I may end up having to push back the publication date for Curse of the Fey after all T.T

I'll keep you posted soon in another entry.

In the meantime, let me know if you discover some amazing fantasy books!

August 15, 2016

On Original Thinking...Basically, Don't Be A Rhinoceros

My French classes during the last years of high school were spent mainly dissecting a bunch of avant-garde, absurd and stream of thought books and essays. One such book was Ionesco's Rhinoceros, a critique of nazism and how some people easily allowed themselves to accept and adopt the evil views (thereby turning into a big, fat rhinoceros).

And here's what Oscar Wilde had to say(1) about thinking outside the box or, should I say, common thought:

Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone elses opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.

I like to think from time to time about how I would have thought and acted had I grown up in another part of the world, or during another era. Would I have been a forward-thinker, brave enough to go against the mainstream? Or would I, like so many others, have been easily indoctrinated, unable to see past the end of my nose (to paraphrase Mary Poppins)?

I'd like to think it would have been the former, of course, but to be totally honest...I have no idea. What about you?

(1) From De Profundis (1897), a letter written while in prison.

August 8, 2016

The War Of Art: On Resistance & Healing

I just had to make another post (as warned in my previous one) on Steven Pressfield's The War of Art because this part he mentions Resistance (aka the Great Tempter away from your heart's task or, in my case, writing) and Healing.

Healing?! you might say. And yes, basically, in this instance "Healing" is used as a way to resist our true calling and getting my butt in the seat to type away! (Seriously though, I will get to it right after I've finished this post!)

Here are some excerpts from his piece on Resistance and Healing that really resonated with me:

The concept...seems to be that one needs to complete his healing before he is ready to do his work. 

[But] what are we trying to heal, anyway? The athlete knows the day will never come when he wakes up pain-free. He has to play hurt.

Remember...the part we create from can't be touched by anything our parents did, or society did. That part is unsullied, uncorrupted; soundproof, waterproof, and bulletproof. In fact, the more troubles we've got, the better and richer that part becomes.

Besides, what better way of healing [our personal life] than to find our center of self-sovereignty? 
Resistance loves "healing." Resistance knows that the more psychic energy we expend dredging and re-dredging the tired, boring injustices of our personal lives, the less justice we have to do our work.

That's it. Simple yet beautiful.

And it hit me to the core because as I've mentioned recently, I totally am guilty of this type of resistance (a repeat-offender, might I add), and when I'm not feeling 100% OK, I do have a tendency to slip into the I'll-get-to-it-tomorrow-when-I-feel-better mode. Yet, there have been a number of times where, despite how poorly I may have felt at that moment, I managed to plunder through my writing and, lo and behold!, felt so much better afterwards.

OK. Now I'm really going back to my writing.  So long, folks!

August 1, 2016

Invoking The Muse

I've been reading and hearing about Steven Pressfield's The War of Art, that I figured perhaps the Universe was trying to give me a hint.

After all, I have been struggling with finishing Curse of the Fey (new job with long hours, a constantly changing schedule, new living environment, and lack of sleep have made me an easy prey to what Pressfield calls the Resistance satan), and in desperate need of inspiration (or what an old teacher of mine would have called a "severe kick to the butt").

So I'll probably post a few interesting bits (though the book is full of them) over the uncoming days, so that I can easily find them again and perhaps share these inspirational or thought-provoking items with anyone else who may be in need like me.

The first one comes from Homer's Odyssey, and is this great storyteller's Invocation of the Muse, one that Pressfield apparently recites every day to start his writerly ritual (gotta get in that groove--anything to get your ass in the chair and get writing, or whatever project you want to accomplish):

O Divine Poesy
Goddess-daughter of Zeus
Sustain for me
This song of the various-minded man
Who after he had plundered
The innermost citadel of hallowed Troy
Was made to stray grievously
About the coasts of men
The sport of their customs good or bad
While his heart
Through all the sea-faring
Ached in an agony to redeem himself
And bring his company safe home.

Vain hope--for them
For his fellows he strove in vain
Their own witlessness cast them away
The Fools
To destroy for meat
The oxen of the most exalted sun
Wherefore the sun-god blotted out
The day of their return.

Make the tale live for us
In all its many bearings
O Muse

July 17, 2016

To Give Up Fear We Must Also Surrender Hope

Being the writer that I am means I've subscribed to countless wirterly blogs. Most of the time I find myself just skimming the info given. But once in a while, I end up reading rather philosophical musings that I find touch a nerve somewhere.

Here's one of them, talking about Camus's Myth of Sisyphus, that bloke who was condemned by his gods to constantly have to push a boulder up a mountain only to have to see it roll back down at the end and have to start all over again.

Yeah, that guy.

So the question is, when there is no hope of change in the end, do you keep on fighting or do you give up?

Here's the rest of David Corbett's post, which may (?) have the answer for you...

July 14, 2016

Thou Shalt Not Make Your Employer Lose Money -- An Interesting Historical Tidbit

Disney's Paperman

It's been a while since I've posted here. While working on the last volume of the Morgana Trilogy, I've also started doing research for my next series, and thought you might like to read about it.

The 10 Commandments of Being an Office Employee at the turn of the 20th century...

Totally feels like Paperman, doesn't it? But like, 100 times worse...

June 13, 2016

Update On The Morgana Trilogy

Dearest Readers,

I know I have been remiss in giving you any kind of update lately, but I'm making up for that now!

The last few months were spent pouring over books, but the wrong kind of books--the ones required to study for a major exam that I just took last weekend. It was very challenging for me to put my writing aside for these studies, but it only convinced me all the more that I simply cannot live without writing (it also made me wish fervently that I could be more like Hermione and a little less like Ron, or even Harry for that matter...).

Now that the Terrible Test is over, I have been working hard at finishing book 3 of the Morgana Trilogy: Curse of the Fey!

Art by Ilya Kuvshinov
The book cover should be ready in a few months, and I can't wait to see what it's going to look like. As for when you will finally get to read the end of Morgan's adventures, my current (soft) target for publication is beginning of December 2016. There will be a book signing, of course, with extra goodies to win as well.

I will keep everyone posted (seriously!) when things become more concrete. Of course, don't hesitate to contact me or comment if you have questions in the meantime :)

Have a jolly great second half of June! I'll be hard at work on my writing (thankfully, I'm more like Hermione in this instance ^.^). 


PS: I know, there are way too many references to HP here, but there's a HP exhibit out all summer over here, and I know the new play's coming out (The Cursed Child which, btw, is already booked till end of May 2017!), so I can't help it :p