Getting back again

I am writing this because I now suck at writing. Much worse than before. The past month was challenging. Since having our first child, things are quite, different. While there is certain release in writing, in the end, it feels like work – I write for my day job, and I write about stuff I’m not too happy about, so yeah, go figure – and I’ve ended up playing more games instead, whenever I could. “Frostpunk,” “Cities: Skylines,” and “Super Mario Maker” have all been very accommodating to my needs, thus far.

I looked back to my earlier written materials. The ones done between 2007 and 2010. The quality of work put in those stories were, vastly superior than what I’m conjuring up these past few months. 2007-2010 were times I had nothing much to do than focus all my energy into creating stories and playing catch up in reading books. Those were times I was gorging through epic fantasies like A Song of Ice and Fire and Malazan Book of the Fallen. At that time, there was only one – ONE – “Kingkiller Chronicle” book, and now there are two. A third one is expected to come out by the time my child goes to college.

Then 2011 happened, I got a PlayStation 3 and then I started my journalism career two months after. Things went on a downward spiral for my original works, I have noticed.

I think much of it has to do with how exhausted I am, and how I haven’t been reading as much. Things disintegrate over time. So does my writing. That’s why I have this blog, I guess. To help me kick things forward again.

In other news, I am almost done with my reading list. Last year I have purchased a large amount of ebooks through Amazon Kindle. Many of them were indie authors. I wanted to shift gears and offer my support to creative artists that are doing it alone. I have read most of the books now, including the established authors that we all know and love. I still have a bunch of physical books that needs to be read. I’m almost done (finally) with Joe Abercrombie’s “The Last Argument of Kings” and I’ve started-ish Scott Lynch’s “The Republic of Thieves.” Though I’m hesitant to continue reading “The Gentlemen Bastard Sequence” because of Lynch’s writing pace. At least, each book appears to be total stand alone.

My next batch of books should be an interesting one. I am eager to get on reading the “Welcome to Night Vale” novel and its sequel “It Devours.” N.K. Jemisin’s “The Fifth Season” rocked my world – pun, intended – so I am more than excited to jump into the second and third books, “The Obelisk Gate” and “The Stone Sky” as soon as I can. Nicholas Eames’ “Bloody Rose” is a serious must-read, but I will have to put that on hold, because everything else on my list are stories with emotionally laden issues, “Bloody Rose” would be the thing I need to break all the ice. “The Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi is high on my priority list, along with Nnedi Okorafor’s “Akata Witch,” “Akata Warrior,” “Who Fears Death,” and “Binti.” Pierce Brown’s “Iron Gold” is something of an overdue read for me, Stephen King’s “The Outsider” seems the perfect re-entry point for me to King, followed by “Strange Weather” by Joe Hill – who, I think, already exceeds his father. Then there’s “Grey Sister” by Mark Lawrence, “LIFEL1K3” by Jy Kristoff, and soon “Darkdawn” by the same author. Finally, Brandon Sanderson’s “Oathbringer.” I will get that book to show my support for him, but in no way rushing to that, considering the fourth book of the “Stormlight Archive” will probably be another two or three years down the road. At least we’ll get the final Wax & Wayne “Mistborn” novel soon, or soon-ish.

There’s a lot more I want to ramble on and about. But I feel I should reserve my remaining strength into working on the WIP. With all of this, I leave you, for no apparent reason, Pink – because I like Pink – and her music video, “Just Like a Pill.”

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Innards #17: Birth

Last week my wife went into an unexpected labor. Four hours later, she delivered our first child.

The delivery itself was only about 10 minutes. From the labor room, my wife was moved to the delivery room. I was asked to wait, to make room for their preparations. I complied. Ten minutes in, the nurse fetched me, and when we both entered the delivery room, the child was already there.

Everyone was surprised by the speed of the delivery. And the sudden change of our timeline shook our entire future.

My wife has two months of maternal leave. I only have seven days, which is a bummer. Thus far, things have been great. My wife and I have so far, spent sleepless nights watching over our child, changing nappies, and whatnot. The most time we were able to spend on sleep was barely 30 minutes. And yet, neither myself nor the wife feel any level of exhaustion.

 

It sucks that we need to go back to work, eventually. But such is the way of life. My writings have gained newfound priority. There’s a bunch of stories that needs to be written and the road to publication, whether independently, or traditionally, is going to be a long and hard one. If there’s any a time to make changes, that would be now.

The Red Whale WIP has progressed from 23% to 27%. A lot of changes were made. Many of those changes I am not too happy about. At the cost of 40,000 words, these changes gave room for a faster and smoother narrative. I’m circling around to see if there’s anything from the old draft I can migrate into the new one. There’s a lot of really good stuff in there.

I still have a few days left to finish what I can finish. In between writing and taking care of the child, I open Steam and have been playing “Wizard of Legend,” “Frostpunk,” “Poly Bridge,” “Brawlhalla,” and, ahem, “HunieCam Studio.” I do hope I get to stream someday and continue to work on the development of YouTube videos with “Super Mario Maker” content, while I still have the Wii U in my hands.

There’s also the pre-development of a podcast I’ve been wanting to make. I have most of the equipment, so it’s just a matter of finding the right time for it.

In any case, onward we go, first, to burp the baby, and then, to write!

Innards #16: Expanse

Some time ago I got it in my head that I can write well because I enjoy it. These days I’m not so sure. Self-loathing is a thing, gnawing at the back of my head. Wouldn’t go away, no matter how much I shoo it off. That’s alright. I like some self-loathing, keeps me sharp, in some way.

In any case, besides sulking in the corner like a whimpering cretin, I’ve sorted out my writing a bit. Things are looking somewhat hopeful, with the baby on its way and the job hunting and all that shenanigans, all things considered, my writings just got the refresh it much needed.

Year of the Red Whale23%

23% is as much as I can give to my current WIP. As of this writing, the Red Whale has about 50,000 words. The prime original word-count was 120,000 and then I decided to cut it down to 80,000. I’m dancing between the two, since I’m going to self-publish anyway. I can go crazy and push through that 120K, or chop things off with clean 40,000-word novellas. Sounds intriguing. But I don’t want to do that. “Year of the Red Whale” is a self-contained story. My challenge now is deciding to maintain the single protagonist perspective or add a few POV characters. There are four candidates to help expand a ton of things. I hope to finish the final draft of this book by the end of February.

Project Ashes: 15%

Oh, humbug. I have 40,000 words written in the first book of Project Ashes. I have parts of the beginning and parts of the end, with little details in between. This is a grimdark tale that is part of a much larger epic. I’m really excited to devote more time into the completion of this story.

Mindfly3%

Crap. Crap. Crap. Project Mindfly is a novella I’m working on for this month’s Apex Publication’s open submissions. I’m not sure where to put this story, if it’s fantasy or horror. I’ll just say it’s weird. Missing person. Body horror. Time travel with a twist. All that gritty stuff. I’ve began writing this story about two years ago but somewhere down the line I stopped to focus writing Project Ashes, which was, ironically, pushed back because of the Red Whale.

Project Sherlock10%

Every now and then I look back at this WIP. I love it and to me, is a fine project after Project Ashes. It’s got miscreant heroes, adventure, a bit of romance, conspiracy, street gangs, assassins, and an epic showdown in one of the unlikely places. It might involve a little bit of magic and if it does, it will probably be tech-based. Like Jedi lightsabers. If magic does get tangled into the mix, then, Project Sherlock will be part of a much larger world I’ve crafted up. The entire concept is really cool and exciting, so I’m putting a lot of thought into it.

Project Sword0%

Holy shit Jon, what the flying fuck is this? A new project? So soon? You still have a bunch of commitments like Project Ghost, “Tunnel Crow Town,” and “The Conductor.” And there’s a whole lot more. What is this Project Sword? Well, it’s a standard sword and sorcery. I wanted something that’s a little bit traditional. Just a bit. I have the characters mapped out and how some of the scenarios will play out. Yes, it will probably begin in a remote village farm. Yes, it will probably involve a main character who wants to live a normal life but is instead force-fed a destiny with big-ass responsibilities. Yes, it will probably have elves and dwarven folk, talking trees, and the such. And yes, it will probably have a pub scene, which is very important to fantasy stories. I got it covered though and I plan to twist ’em all up. My main concern is two of the characters resemble so much from the ones in Project Ghost. So, I don’t know. Should I merge them or what? We’ll see.

I guess that’s it for now. Here’s Red Hot Chili Pepper’s “Tell me, baby”

Red Whale: Quick Update

On Reddit Fantasy a topic about National Novel Writing Month emerged. Writers everywhere started posting stuff about their work-in-progress. I’m still waiting what exactly comes out of the blender out of all the random stuff I put in the Red Whale. Yet, I gave in, and posted something real quick about the “Year of the Red Whale.” Might as well update it here too for the world to see.

Tyrant emperor turned beggar turned criminal thug, burns empire that starts a world war but he doesn’t give a damn cause he’s busy squaring off against necromancers, witches, and basically everyone else he pissed off while he was the emperor.

That’s a mouthful. I probably could have come up with something better, but I didn’t want to write a sales pitch, just to bring out an idea into the open. My original thought for this novel was to set it at 120K words, then it got reduced to 80K. Having recently scraped much of the material, I feel the sweet spot is going to be between 90-100K. This is, if the plot went out of its way again to complicate things. I could revert back to 80K if I manage to control everything and keep the plot simple.

Now, with this shenanigans over, I’m off back to writing.

By the way, this is Ryukahr, my favorite Super Mario YouTuber/Twitch streamer. Give him some love, will yah?

On a side note, here’s Hayley Williams of Paramore doing a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere”

Red Whale: Year One Draft

I started writing “Year of the Red Whale” around October, to participate in NaNoWriMo. I made it to 40K words before the month ended, progress that I’m proud of. Since then I barely made it past the 50K-mark, getting stuck on multiple dead ends. The plot thickened to a messy pile of goo. Then all sorts of ugly things started spawning from said goo after trying to patch things up.

I didn’t think much of it until January. The Red Whale was a NaNoWriMo project, not the main WIP, but still it had ended up as my top priority novel to work on. I kept putting deadlines for myself to complete the draft, after all as a journalist I’m trained to submit on time, but I keep letting myself down. The solution was to get back to the main WIP, Project Ashes, but I couldn’t just let go of the Red Whale and busied myself over it.

Now, a year later, I’m still stuck, making no decent progress whatsoever. I had renovated a lot of scenes and redone several chapters. Nothing helped.

Finally, the nuclear option: Change the entire plot. Keep some scenes, some chapters, some characters, but turn things around. It worked. The pace changed, a lot, and I had to remodel my writing style. I had to cut down some action scenes and then add more action scenes. It feels like a brand new work-in-progress at this point, really. My only issue is, should I add more POV characters? There’s a lot going on, but the only thing that matters comes from the protagonists. So there is that to consider.

My final deadline, I hope, is on December.

Since it’s November and it’s a season for Stranger Things, here’s a Alice Cooper “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” I’d put “The Man Behind the Mask” instead, but, meh.

Now, this is my type of galaxy


One of my bosses in my day job was invited to an event in Singapore to learn more about Samsung’s newest tablet, the Galaxy Book.

It’s a device that’s designed to go head-to-head against the Apple’s iPad Pro and Microsoft’s Surface Pro.

I got my hands on it for a little while and the first thing I noticed was how heavy it is for a tablet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good portable device and lighter than laptops. And, according to my boss, comes with its own stylus and keyboard, unlike Apple where you need to get the Pencil and the Smart Keyboard separately. 

The keyboard that ships with the Galaxy Book is without its flaws. But it’s something you can really type with on the get-go. From my experience, the early moments of the Surface Pro and the iPad Pro’s keyboards were a little jarring and I needed to get used to it, much more than other foreign keyboards I’ve worked with. It also has those satisfying clicks whenever you punch them down.


It also runs on a Windows 10 platform, something I’m familiar with. Though it’s likely 1000x susceptible to malware infection, depending on your online activities. But that’s more of a cybersecurity matter. 

In Philippine peso it’s priced around 40K, about a little more than $1,000. It’s almost carries the same price tag as an aged Apple MacBook Air, which I still consider a really damn good typing machine.

In any case, I like the Galaxy Book. Consider this Certified DAMN!

Press release follows:

The Galaxy Book is Samsung’s latest offering in the workbook segment boasting of combined power and mobility for the go-getters. Working on the go will be a breeze as this workbook is powered by Windows 10 Operating System, pre-installed with a Microsoft Office Suite, and comes with a full-keyboard cover case.


If you’re one who loves taking notes down old-school style, you will surely love the S-Pen. The Galaxy Book’s Advanced S-Pen has a fine 0.7mm pen tip for precise note-taking and drawing. Its high-pressure sensitivity provides a realistic writing experience that will surely delight he writers out there.

The Galaxy Book also helps you keep that corporate style on point. No need to lug around your bulky laptop in that extra bag. This new innovation comes in an elegant all-metal body–only at 8.99mm thin, and lightweight at 648g.

The Simple Advice

I’ve been writing stories since I was in the third grade, I think. I started with horror stories and the following year I ventured to my first fantasy story, which was a bland ripoff of some science-fantasy anime I used to watch.

Anime and film had been my inspirations. Books were never a thing for me until I was much older. So in my younger years, I basically skipped the basics, and did a bunch of experiments I thought at that time were brilliant.

In the end, there were not at all that great. Fast forward a few years later, my first books were Harry Potter one to the “Order of the Phoenix.” I had, at that time, also read “A Game of Thrones” and “The Gunslinger.” And I thought I’ve learned a lot from those.

The first ever epic I’ve written was called “Dragon Wars,” I was in my third year high school, and I’ve gone halfway through it before deciding to show chapters to some friends and to my grandma. Of course my friends liked it, of course they did. Grandma liked it too, so, of course she would give me a pat on the back. However, she added, “You should explore more on writing simpler sentences.”

I refused. I wanted to be eloquent and dramatic! I was thinking, she didn’t get it. She hadn’t read the books I’ve read, which were, what exactly? Harry Potter, Thrones, and Gunslinger. Nah. I wanted to write shit sentences like, “The susurrus of thousands of leaves rustling in the cold and violent night allowed him to see through the prestidigitation and blahblah.”

In short, I was a thesaurus whore, thinking the more complicated words I used, the more lyrical and more poetic my words would sound. I only realized I’d look like an asshole. I looked at Rowling’s books and King’s, and found that all they ever used in their stories were simple words. Words that paint images as soon as you read them. George RR Martin’s prose is just as easy to read, he never used words that would make you flip through a dictionary, or make you pause to wonder what the fuck did that word mean.

As my readings expanded, I learned that most authors just use words so simple, the story moves on in a fluid and comprehensive pace. And it’s a wonderful experience to go through that phase. The problem is this, it’s how you construct the sentences, how you piece together these simple words to bring out readers’ imaginations.

Later I started reading a bunch of books about writing. There’s a lot of useful advice out there that can inspire writers. But I found that “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White to be the best source for writers, because they teach you the most basic form of writing from which you can build upon your own voice.

It’s a lesson I’ve learned the hard way as works I’ve been so proud of were crushed or dismantled by beta readers and critics. It’s an experience worth going through and I like to think that my voice has grown over the years. But I’ll never forget that aspect, where you need to write with simple words to build a story that every reader can understand.