My paramour

4a6563e0e31b5

Oh ssshhhiiiaaat! Copy-pasted this from iTunes. Hope that’s ‘kay. No one sue me! I wuv Paramore! I buy their songs! It’s in my veins! >_>;

I should be writing. Really. Planning an outline, even though I’d rather keep my pants on and tight through the whole ride, especially now that I’m gearing up for my first NaNoWriMo! Yeah! But nah. I’ll watch live Paramore concerts on YouTube instead, and check out Hayley’s Twitter. I think my favorite look is the weird iTunes Festival look, like she came from a Tim Burton film. Also, the green hair and getup in Wango Tango, and I’m like, fuck, I’m in love. NSP help me.

Stop. Just stop. I am stopping! In this post, I’d like to talk about (hashtag) #writing. The things I’ve picked up along the way in my career as a journalist, as someone who has been writing since being a little kid, and as someone who started reading books only in his early adulthood (17). I had a long-ass post but deleted it cause it was too long. So here’s the rundown!

  • If you write to make a living, you will feel the Pressure of ever stacking bills. It won’t be enough unless you’re a big mainstream and well-known writer like Neil, King, Martin, and Rowling.
  • Some aspiring authors continue to believe they will sell their book as easy as ordering kinky stuff from Amazon and make millions from it. Ignorance is a bliss, I guess.
  • Daydreaming is awesome. No, really, keep on doing it. I started when I was bored shit in my first grade class. But if you’re going to do it all the time, make sure it’s about your story and not the glory you want.
  • With so many things happening and so many stuff around, it’s easy to get distracted: Social media notifications, Ninja Sex Party has a new amazing song about pee-pees and vajayjays or a legit cover for once, binge-watching Voltron, the stain in the window that needs cleaning, the trash that needs to be taken out, ice cream in the fridge, reading blogs about writing, writing a blog post. Time goes away faster than you think, and if you feel bad for not writing anything, well, That’s What you Get. *Insert guitar!*
  • Don’t wait for the Muse. It doesn’t exist. Even if you have to slog through one word after another, feeling shit, it’s okay. It’s like building a house, Brick after Boring Brick. You need that chapter completed before moving on the next one.
  • Be Careful in Playing God while worldbuilding, crafting magic systems, mapping landscapes, setting histories, developing characters. There’s so much going on, it’s so easy to have one or two inconsistencies. That could work in your favor, to create a deeper, more sophisticated story that requires a lot of thinking. But more often inconsistencies will feel alienating.
  • I used to believe you can be productive even with the TV on, or while listening to songs. I guess it works differently. With songs, I often end up imaging myself doing a badass solo that puts Eddie Van Halen and Jimmy Paige to shame. Some people can write better with songs or OSTs. But TVs? In fact, not just that, even WiFi. Nope, you want to write seriously? Turn it Off, all of it, and focus on writing.
  • Negative feedback will sting. But know the difference between a good negative feedback over a bad negative feedback. Get beta readers who will say, “Hate to See Your Heart Break but this book sucks, you need to change the pacing, the character is too perfect, etc… etc…” If someone says your book sucks because they said so, punch them.
  • I’ve come to learn florid writing is dazzling and nice to read. But sometimes, I’ve seen writers try a little too hard. This isn’t to belittle or to harm, but it’s true, especially in a few self-published books I’ve read, they tend to over-describe and their attempts to sound sophisticated, just, doesn’t work. Sometimes it’s best to write something plain and clear that is easy to digest and imagine. You wouldn’t want your readers to pause and try to Decode what you’re trying to say. It ruins the story’s flow.
  • Now is the only best time to write.
  • Just keep on writing like a Monster.
  • Write in your Native Tongue. If you will write in another language, make sure you have enough mastery over it. I’ve met a lot of aspiring authors who didn’t have English as their first language, but writes in that language anyway. Some are good, and, some needs work, but that’s alright, learning and failing and then succeeding is how we roll.
  • I know I keep saying you need to write, write, and write, get absorbed into your own world, spill all the blood of goats in sacrificial tributes to complete your manuscript, but it’s important to have an Escape Route to unwind. Breath some fresh air, go to the mall and buy something nice, meet people, observe the world around you and you can apply it to your story.
  • When you start punching those keys with fervor and fury, don’t stop. Keep on writing as if there’s an Emergency, as if there’s a gun pointed to your head and will go off if you stopped for more than three seconds! (There’s actually an app that deletes the entire manuscript if you stop writing! It’s called the “Most Dangerous Writing App.”)
  • Scream Hallelujah when you finish that draft!

I have no conclusion. I just really want to stop writing, even for a smidgen of my time, and watch a damn Paramore video. Is that too much to ask?!

 

On films and videogames

Both films and videogames have had important impacts in my life. As an aspiring novelist, I drew my inspirations and influences through the visual medium I saw on screen, cause, I hated reading at that time, I really did until my early adulthood. It was through videogames and film that was I able to experience the worlds shaped by H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Philip K. Dick, J.R.R. Tolkien, among others. To this day, I continue to draw inspirations from the things I see, allowing me to craft things in greater detail—or so I like to believe. In any case, the top 3 films and videogames below hits closer to home more than anything else I’ve experienced.

Film

“Alien”

Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi horror, “Alien,” is and will always be among my top 3 favorite films of all time. I remember my first encounter with it at the tender age of five or six, alone in the living room at night, turning a heavy knob to change the channel, making loud “thud, thud, thud” sounds: First there was some late night news from then RPN 9, and hitting channel 13: A man was screaming as people looked down on him with confused horror in their faces. The man stopped screaming and this dick-shaped thing burst from his chest, all soaked up in blood and gore. It’s the most violent metaphor I have seen on film about sex. Oh, H.R. Giger. You are missed, truly.

“American Graffiti”

The end of high school life means massive mental reconfiguration. Well, of course college years are awesome, the level of freedom someone attains can lead to world-shattering disasters, orgies, or both. In some cases, college life means you’re legal, you can go to bars and have a drink, and think yourself an adult, where you’re soon to start paying bills and the inner struggle to do the responsible thing. But high school life is, how shall we put it, innocent? Pure? It’s a life full of misadventures, an age of ignorance and arrogant. It’s that phase in life where it’s all right to make “some” mistakes and learn from it, a phase where you continue to struggle with the ropes of life until you have a tight grip on it and yank that shit down and hold it in your hands. That’s how “American Graffiti” is to me, the constant search and yearning for that white Ford Thunderbird. When Curt turns the Blonde, the one who he had been desperately searching the entire night, down, because he needed to leave, that’s the responsible thing. No matter how sad that is. It’s a journey where the best of times needs to be settled down as you get on a plane to adulthood, getting ready to embrace newer things ahead.

“Stand by Me”

If you disagree that the greatest films ever shown to mankind, then you can go away, die, and burn in hell, because “Stand by Me” is the greatest film ever. I’m not even being subjective here. It’s just plain fact that this film is the best thing there ever will be in modern and future cinemas. Don’t even say “Citizen Kane” is best god damn film of all time, just because everyone says so, I dare you to explain what made Orson Welles’ magnum opus the best of all in film history? You can’t and you won’t, because “Stand by Me” is a billion times better and I’m just shouting at you like a little kid, ready to get violent just to prove my point!

For reals though, “Stand by Me” is everything what I have ever wanted as a kid: A treehouse, a quest in the wild, misadventures and campfire, getting chased by a dog or a train, having friends that I can stand by with.

 

Videogames

“Digimon World”

I’ve always had an obsession to Digimon ever since I first heard about it as a youth. I’ve even had distinct dreams, almost a premonition, a poster of which highlighted the next Digimon that will evolve and what it will turn into. So, when I got the “Digimon World” for the PSOne, I was more than thrilled to run around with either an Agumon or a Gabumon trailing after me like a Pikachu in “Pokemon Yellow.” It’s an exciting mix between playing “Monster Rancher” and owning the Digivice-like “Tamagotchi.” In “Digimon World,” you actually get to train a Digimon, coaching it to various exercises to boost up specific stats, feeding them and rationing your food as you travel, and making sure they properly shit in the toilet (seriously), all while roaming around the vast Digimon world, rescuing and recruiting Digimons to populate the city. Only the wonderful exotic sights of Tifa Lockhart can beat that.

“Xenogears”

I got this game almost the same time as “Digimon World,” also for the PSOne. It was the first big game for adults that I’ve played and on my first playthrough, couldn’t exactly quite grasp how deep and sophisticated and heartfelt “Xenogears” has to offer. Also, it has kickass mechas, a unique gameplay mechanic, a frightening boss music, and a bitch slap plot twist (in a good way).

“Breath of Fire III and Street Fighter II”

I’m cheating the system, fuck it, but it’s a tie between these two. In Capcom’s glorious days, when it was a significant games publisher before it went all-out remaking “Resident Evil” time and time again, they put a lot of impressive games. “Breath of Fire III” and “Street Fighter II” among them. The former caught my attention and held onto it with an iron-grip, because it early adventures of Ryu, Rei, and Teepo. How, both Ryu and Teepo were orphans, and turned out to become epic motherfuckers that literally can rule the world. There were also a bunch of mini games and several side quests that all added to spicing up the game. It was also a time when you collect things in-game they actually added value to the gameplay and isn’t just “1 out of 10 notebooks.”

And “Street Fighter II” was the first game I played with my mom when she first came home with a SNES from the states. It was among our first bonding moments, I played between Ryu and Ken, then went on full Guilde (cause, ‘murica) and she played Chun Li. We’d play together after school, on the weekends, we’d also play “Super Mario World,” but we weren’t good at it at that time, so we often switched back to punching each other. It was good, sweet times before she had to leave and it wouldn’t be until several years later that we saw it each other again.

The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree

51X7dPucYiL.jpg

One of the few book covers of The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree by S.A. Hunt

Holy shit! Did I just do another self-published book review? Damn right I did. This one’s by S.A. Hunt, and this is another Western fantasy story, with bits of horror elements thrown here and there. To save some time, is it every bit as worth it as a lot of people say it is? Damn straight it is.

I have seen people compare this book to Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” and C.S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia” and some have pointed out that it’s a bad thing. I don’t understand why, since dark western stories and people magically walking into another world are nothing new. If anything, S.A. Hunt traps us into a world that is rich in lore and ideas that matches a woman’s skirt: Long enough to cover the subject, short enough to be interesting. (I read that in a journalism book and I was blown away by it, the original unedited quote turned out to be from Winston S. Churchill.)

The early onset parts were damn good. From the prologue’s one-shot scene, to the protagonist’s arrival from the airport, and his seemingly increasing obsession to learn more about what his father had been doing before the event’s of the prologue happened, were total page turners. This entire sequence has been called out once as an “over exposition.” I disagree with that, I felt that this entire process moved too fast. Give or take, “The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree” would have been a better book if it gave us more time with the characters exploring the mysterious phenomenon they keep on experiencing. That’s not to say that this book wasn’t fun, because it’s full of it.

There were just two others things I didn’t like. First, there were times where S.A. Hunt tried a little bit too hard to be florid. I don’t mind a little poetry in writing, but you tend to run into one too many in this book, and many of them were awkward in a not-too-cool way.

The second thing I didn’t like in the book, is how the characters from characters easily accepted the idea that our heroes are from another world. I suppose that just shows how strange this alien world is, where inter-dimensional travel is something far more believable than someone who had lived their entire lives in a faraway country.

As the book progress, the more it edges into an epic fantasy with guns. We’re guided, step-by-step into this new world: We feast on one of the many cultures, see exotic sights and races that would freak out the next person on Earth. The story may start out dry at first, because of the protagonist’s strained relationship with the people around him, but just around the corner of this book, things do lighten up in a bright cheerful manner. (I am talking specifically about the “table scene,” which was hilarious.) I like to this that is a metaphor in some way, in how life is beginning to seep back into protagonist’s life.

Here’s the Amazon page of S.A. Hunt’s “The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree,” in case any one out there who read this post hasn’t read the book and is interested to check it out.

 

Bloodrush: Scarlet Star #1

bloodrush-cover

Book cover of “Bloodrush” by Ben Galley

I’d never thought of enjoying someone wallow in their own misery, trudging through one disaster after another and to rise on top to watch it all burn, in such a light mannered tone.

“Bloodrush” by Ben Galley was something I found enjoyable.

There were some fair bits of over description of things. Some chapters felt too long. And, for a long time, it felt like the book was going nowhere in its plot. But you know what? That’s just damn fine. This isn’t just some mystical man-child savior destined to save the world – at least, not yet as far as I know, it’s a coming-of-age story where a boy learns the ropes of life.

There’s family drama in it too, and the usual cowboys vs Indians we’ve seen a few dozen times in Western films. Though it’s no “Dances with Wolves,” more like “Thor” when he first steps into Earth. There’s a lot more going on in the story with just enough side stories to keep things interesting.

Magic in the book caught me a little off guard. Until about halfway through the book, all the magical stuff came in the form of mythical beasts and strange landscapes. Though I suppose a magic system shouldn’t had been excluded from the equation, no matter how late it arrives, the book cover features a sigil, which reminds me for some reason witchcraft or shamanic symbols. As for the magic system itself, did I like it? I think I do. It involves ingesting something and taking its power. It’s hard to talk about it without some bloody spoilers.

I found the book cover ever misleading. We have here folks, is what appears to be a gunslinger, holding a rifle. The story is about a 13-year-old boy who hates guns and has nothing to do with the book cover whatsoever, no matter how nice it looks. I figured the gunslinger was probably one of the other major characters in the book, as our little bitch of a hero comes to meet new people out in the frontier. I’m sorry to say I’m a little disappointed by the outcome of that speculation.

All things considered, “Bloodrush” is a page-turner. I’ve enjoyed most moments in the book. There were a few paragraphs and wordings I felt that needed to be rewritten – but who am I to say that? I might be suffering the same thing with my own stories.

I have taken the quick opportunity to link Amazon’s “Bloodrush” page here.

Train to Busan

Holy shit. That’s my reaction to this film. I held my breath the entire way.

The hype is real. If you haven’t seen it right now, then do yourself a favor, and go watch it at this moment. Skip school, ditch work, and grab your friends or family, and take them out for this ride.

If there is one thing about Asians is highly efficient in making a film, it’s evoking emotions.

“Train to Busan” is terrifying, sad, and sweet. Its characters are flawed and frustrating.

Unlike most, if not all, zombie films, where the origins of the zombie outbreak are never explored. “Train to Busan” takes a moment to actually tell us what exactly happened.

It is rare for such a thing to come from a zombie film. Some of the greats have had their time and withstood the test of time, to become legends, hushed whispers among hardcore fans of the genre – nearly all of them has come from George Romero.

“Dawn of the Dead,” (1978) “Night of the Living Dead,” (1968) “Zombieland,” (2009) and “World War Z” (2013) are the only films that come to mind where zombies have been mildly entertaining and were actually good films. It wasn’t the zombies that made these films great, it was the characters. Each one had a character arc of their own,

Make no mistake, “Train to Busan” is all about the characters. All suffering with human dilemmas that is a stark contrast to their current situation. It’s a film about family, it’s cast is full of traveling families, it explores kinship, survival, and how fear can drive a mob mentality to a single train of thought.

Majority of the film takes place in a train, a single ride from one end of the station, to the other end. It is because of this tight space that causes a sense of claustrophobia. If there is anything to analyze in this film, it’s how modernism has driven us apart from our families.

“Train to Busan” is an entirely different beast. If films such as “The Good, The Bad, and The Weird,” and “Snowpiercer” had not put Korea in the map as a fine source of international films, then this one will.

Project Crown

These are harsh times for me. I haven’t gotten into writing my manuscripts in a long time due to stress in my day job and other matters. It has made me getting back into projects Ashes and Sherlock difficult.

So, to get back into a writing groove, I have started Project Crown. It was an idea that took off around mid 2015, but never really explored it until a few days ago while riding the train to work.

Project Crown will be a revenge story with bits of romance, family issues, political conspiracies, gangs, betrayal, and supernatural mumbo jumbo.  It will also include, weird magic, giant walking war machines, powered armors, and whatever else I can think of that will fit in the settings.

I still have no pitch for this. But through my day-to-day commute, riding trains and buses, the story has been mapped out pretty well. I see the beginning, middle, and end. It will be a standalone, about 120,000-150,000 words at most, maybe.

I’ll add more details eventually. I don’t expect to finish this story in a while considering Ashes and Sherlock are top priorities. But meh, who knows.