Wednesday, 24 September 2014


I’m taking a break tonight.

I’ve decided after three months of working on books, reading everything I can about self-publishing, establishing myself as an online presence via social media, joining groups, talking to editors and book artists, that tonight I’m going to do none of that. I’m going to watch television and drown my sorrows in tea and arancini balls. Bolognaise to be exact and chill out with Forever because when Ioan Gruffudd is not playing Mr. Fantastic, he’s pretty awesome.

Except that I can’t.

Even now, I feel the twitch to write something. The fact that you’re reading this blog right now proves how hard it is to let go.  My mind is like a whirling dervish,  spitting out all these ideas of what I could be doing with the hours after getting home from work and before going to bed. Notes for the next book! Look for bloggers to advertise Queen of Carleon! Write a witty tweet to impress Mel Brooks because he’s obviously hanging out for my next tweet! Go join writers groups on Facebook! Read a book to review for the Author’s Cave! There’s so many things to do, to be done, that when sleep comes, it doesn’t.

Instead, I end up lying in bed, taxing the patience of my cat who just wants me to settle the hell down so she can sleep on my feet without interruption.

I have also started checking my smart phone regularly, feverish with the need to see what has happened online in the two minutes since I left the phone to go get a glass of milk. I don’t watch television any more. My friend Dominique’s patience at my inability to sit through at least one episode of the Knicks is going to end in homicide or my being strapped to a chair like Malcolm McDowell in Clockwork Orange.

All this started because three months ago, I had an epiphany.

Not quite as radical as Angel waking up next to Darla and going ARGH but close. Angel fans, you’ll understand.

I’ve been writing all my life. My first story, God help me, was a Star War story so bad the exercise book on which it was written had to be burned to save future generations. Unfortunately, the same could not be said of the Star War Christmas special but I digress. From the age of eleven, I always wrote.

Sometimes I wrote my own stories and other times, I indulged in what I had no idea was called fan fiction at the time.  When the television mini-series V came out, I wrote a bunch of stories set in my native Singapore and...shuddering as I write this... featuring a teenage protagonist who could do everything, including romancing the secret agent that bore a striking resemblance to Michael Biehn.

Apparently I had no idea what a Mary Sue was either.

I took my writing seriously in private. I know I have a fairly decent online reputation as a fan fiction writer but that was a way to keep the mind working because I was convinced I didn’t have the time to write something original. Fan fiction kept my creative juices flowing to a degree. It is really the literary version of a caffeine fix. Enough to keep you going but no replacement for a goodnight’s sleep.

The Children of the White Star was written when I was fifteen. It was my first original story and its been reworked several times since that day. The current version sitting on Amazon is the result of twenty years of development and it's still not done. I plan on sending it to and editor as soon as finances permit. Nevertheless ten years ago, I sent it off to a publisher and did nothing about it when I received a rejection letter with a request for resubmission after I had fixed some issues. Later on, I learned how rare this was though at the time, I was too foolish to take the advice.

I had put this block in my head that unless I went to some coastal town like Monterey, California (like Steinbeck) and took six months off, writing a book could not be done.

Three months ago after a particularly hard day at work, I was sitting at home wondering to myself—do I want to do this job forever?  The answer was no.

Once I removed that mental road block and was honest with myself that I wanted to write, that all I’ve ever wanted to do was write, the rest was easy. I realised that the financial, circumstantial, even timing excuses I gave myself was exactly that—excuses.

Once I decided I was going to be a writer, that was it. The floodgates opened and now, instead of watching Ioan Gruffudd being awesome, I’m blogging while my aracini balls grow cold along with my pot of tea  because I just need to goddamn write something.

Be it notes for the next book, contacting literary agents, checking out Goodreads or trolling the web for reviewers, its like my brain can’t switch off. When I’m at work, I can’t wait for the day to be over so I can get stuck into it again. It’s insane and I don’t think I’ve felt more accomplished. This madness has become passion and its giving me purpose. Even when I attempt to write a query letter, considering perhaps that this whole self-publishing bizzo is a mug’s game (that’s Aussie speak for too damn hard), I’m enjoying it.

So what’s the purpose of this diatribe tonight?

Nothing really, just an apology to Ioan for neglecting him because I’m still in the middle of my epiphany and I’m loving every moment of it.  

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The Queen of Carleon Book Trailer

Well I'm well into the wondeful world of marketting. A blog that wants to do a feature on The Queen of Carleon, requested I do a book trailer so thanks to Fivver, here it is.

Thanks to the following artists whose work I have used for this trailer.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Book Review: The Silkworm by Robert Gabraith

As with the last book written by Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling, I found The Silkworm to be a completely engrossing and enjoyable read. While it falls entirely into the category of pulp fiction, it’s a book that very hard to put down once you’ve started.  For those who have read Rowling’s initial entry into the series, The Cuckoo’s Calling; The Silkworm is a more polished work with the author’s characterisation of the book’s protagonist more nuanced.

In The Silkworm, we are given a view into the publishing world from the standpoint of private investigator Cormoran Strike and his girl Friday Robin when Strike it called on to locate missing author Owen Quine.  It reveals an insular, cynical world that has seems to have little do with promoting storytelling and everything to do with maintaining the status quo among the literary elite. One wonders if Strike's observations about the publishing house Roper Chard and agent Liz Haskell is reflective of the author's own experiences when she attempted to break through this particular glass ceiling.

Not that the authors depicted in this book have any redeeming qualities either. They run the gamut of being either incredibly obnoxious or starved for attention. Anyone who exists outside the literary sphere is immediately marginalised as ‘little people’.  Certainly the way Quine's wife Leonora is dismissed by most of the characters save Strike and Robin seem to indicate this. Her real world concerns of caring for her impaired daughter could not possibly hold a candle to overcoming the horror of an unrealised author’s potential.

When Quine's disappearance becomes murder, Strike is on the case and this is followed by the examination of the author's last book, which is a pretty disturbing bit of writing and possibly not for those who dislike grotesque sexual imagery. Instead of focussing on what happens after the crime has taken place, Strike follows the path of the narcissistic writer and reaches a conclusion that I confess, I did not see coming at all. There is also a neat little twist that makes perfect sense once the reveal is made which is the most satisfying part of a good mystery novel.

In the midst of the investigation, the relationship between Strike and Robin is explored. Robin’s desire to follow her boss’ line of work creates friction between herself and her fiancĂ© and it will be interesting to see if she does make it down the aisle in any subsequent books. The appearance of Strike’s own romantic interest, Charlotte, is kept to a minimum as her hysterics were the only part of the first book I found tedious. Fortunately Robin’s level headed depiction offsets this and plays nicely off Strike’s gruff and unforgiving personality.

Silkworm is a wonderful book and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves an engaging mystery and two very relatable lead characters. Like most murder mysteries, the other characters in the book are often caricatures required to service the plot but  the more bombastic and arrogant ones are ridiculed  in the way they deserve but never spitefully so.

It might be heresy but I think I might like this series more than that other one that Miss Rowling is supposed to have written with some success.

Saying Goodbye to the Scribe

Saying goodbye to the Scribe is hard.

You might think its just a pseudonym, probably one of dozens on the Net but it really isn't.

When I took on the persona of the Scribe back in 1998, there was hardly anyone using the word 'scribe' as a screen name. Now they're all over the place and while I'm not so egotistical to think I had any part in that it does please me to know that I was one of the first.

I've been the Scribe for the last fifteen years and hiding behind the safety of that screen name, my writing has been able to take me to a galaxy far, far, away,  to the old west town of Four Corners and even to Middle Earth. Visiting these places allowed me to become a better writer, provided me a training ground to hone my writing skills and find the confidence to build my own worlds and create my own characters.

But more importantly, being the Scribe has led me to connect with real people all over the world, not just screen names, some of whom are my closest and dearest friends.

I went to United States to visit a friend I met playing a Star Trek Role Playing Game, we drank magaritas and went to Disneyland. I've watched another raise a son all on her own and its been my privilege to be her friend when times have been especially hard on her. I met one of my closest friends over our mutual love for all things Michael Biehn and today I realised her daughter is going to be nine in a month. It was only yesterday we getting drunk and debating whether or not she should buy a boat or a motorcycle.

In the end it was neither, because she found she was going to have a baby.

These moments would not have been possible without the Scribe and now that I'm devoting myself to becoming one of thousands of Indie writers,giving her up is like giving up a security blanket I've had for years. The Scribe was more than just an outlet for my creativity, it produced lifelong relationships with people I still continue to cherish, who exist to me as more than just names on an Instant Messenger screen.

So tonight, I say goodbye to the Scribe and I thank her for everything she's given me this past fifteen years. I'm gonna miss her.