Friday, 28 November 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014 Winner!


I am officially a 2014 NaNoWriMo winner! That makes it three years in a row!

And I think this is the year that I finished the fastest, and with the most number of "vacation" days. I only started on the 2nd, and I took 5 days off last week to go on holiday. I'm really happy about it, because for the last two years, I finished on the last day of November, around midnight. That shows how close I was cutting it :p

The contrast this year though...
I had a lot of fun being a rebel this year. I got to write a lot of the stories I wanted to write, and I think most of them are at a good length. Too long, and they'd bore everyone. I've also learnt that I can't really write humour stories on demand. I have to be particularly inspired for that to happen.

Anyway, although I intended to be a "rebel", My short story was really dominated by two stories. One was my Nutcracker retelling, which expanded from an intended two-part tale to nine parts. It's also about 12000 words, so it's more than one-fifth of the NaNo requirement and a novelette. The other story is a five-part mystery-type of story called "Found Your Bones", based on a dream I had. The rest of the story are rather disparate, with a lot of them being one shots, and a few being two-parts.

Some of my stories have potential (by which I mean, I will not die of embarrassment if people read them), but some are never going to see the light of day. I'm not sure what to do with them, but I'm very tempted to polish some up and trying to self-publish them.

There's still some time, so I hope everyone is on-track to win. And if you've already won, congrats!

Friday, 14 November 2014

NaNoWriMo Week 2 Update

Week 2 of NaNoWriMo is over! How is everyone doing? I hope you're meeting the wordcount goals!

I'm really happy with how my NaNoWriMo is going so far. I'm a few days ahead now, which means that everything is going ahead as planned. I won't be able to write from the 19th to the 24th (I won't even be near a computer for the 20th to the 22nd!), so I need a nice buffer to make sure I don't fall behind too much.

I'm really proud of my stats. These are my best ever. 
As for the stories, I have found that if I try too hard to be funny, I end up being decidedly un-funny. So, comedy comes from a relaxed frame of mind. Lesson learnt.

The Nutcracker story is progressing nicely, and I have one more chapter and the epilogue (the epilogue is already drafted out too) left. I'm considering adding another chapter though, from the perspective of an OC that I'm writing.

And, I'm started another multi-part short story, based on a dream I once had. It's quite fun to write, and as usual, what I think is a two part is going to be at least three parts.

If you're curious and have a WriteOn account, you can actually read all my stories (so far) here. One thing that I really think is helping me achieve my word count goals is that I aim to post at least 1667 words a day (even if no one sees them). Unlike the previous years, where I didn't let anyone see anything, a few of my friends have actually read a few of my short stories. For some reason, that's a big motivator to keep going.

NaNoWriMo is halfway over! Onward and upward!

Friday, 7 November 2014

NaNoWriMo Week 1 Update


The first week of NaNoWriMo is over! Happily, I'm caught up on the wordcount requirement, which is great because I didn't start writing until the second.

I should have taken a screenshot last night. My average was much higher :p
I didn't get to mention this before I started NaNoWriMo (my cousin was here, so I didn't have time for blogging), but under the encouragement of the awesome Google+ people, I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo as a rebel. Instead of trying to pick up my two stalled works, or do a completely new one, I'm aiming to write 50 000 words of short stories and try to exhaust my muse long enough that she'll stop hopping about so randomly.

For this NaNoWriMo, Evernote has proved to be even more helpful that last year. A lot of my writing is being done on my iPad, and I've even written a few paragraphs on my phone. For some reason, most of my inspiration comes just before bed, so just as I'm about to sleep, I'll bolt up and start typing a few paragraphs (or a basic one paragraph outline for the story).

Since this isn't a story, I've been free to work on whatever my muse says. I've actually got a few stories being written at the same time, but I only report it to the NaNoWriMo word count when I'm finished. It's really fun for me, since I don't have to worry about how the novel is going to progress overall.

Even though I'm doing the short story thing, I realised that the first short story I wanted to do, a dark retelling of the Nutcracker, is turning out to be much longer than I first envisioned. I think it'll take up about 1/3 of the wordcount by the time it's done :p

Another thing that's happening differently this year would be that a few of my stories are already on the Internet for reading. I've written two crackfics based on prompts by my friends, so I uploaded them to Figment for them to read. It's my first time doing parody, but judging from their twitter reactions, I think I succeeded. I'm not sure how many people will understand me though :p

Since I have relatives coming over for 5 days in the middle of the month, I'm really hoping that this writing output continues for a few more days. I'd really like to get a nice buffer for those five days of no computer or writing.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Final Camp NaNoWriMo Update


And just like that, the month of July is over. Which also heralds the start of my (thankfully short period of) exams, which formally started yesterday.

So, here are my overall reflections on my first Camp NaNoWriMo.

Goal-specific reflections:

Neither of my goals were met. I've only finished editing, I think about a third of the novel. And I've only written up till Chapter 16 for Seals vs Penguins, with no end in sight.

But, I'm really happy because I like the pace that I'm working at. Because of my exams, I couldn't go all out like I normally do for NaNoWriMo, and that helped me to get a more sustainable pace of writing. I can't churn out a novel in a month, but I can write three to four chapters a week, and do some revision, which means that its very likely that both goals will be met eventually.

And for Mi & You, it took one month, but I finally have some idea of how I'm going to revise the novel (pretty major changes, compared to the previous ones, which are basically just editing chapter by chapter rather than looking at the story as a whole). I'm so glad my holidays are coming up, this will take quite some time.

Cabin reflections:

While I haven't been the most active cabin member (I may be the most inactive one), I found it really encouraging to have a cabin. I even had one cabin member come to check up on me, when I neglected to update my word count.

I think if I participate in a future Camp NaNoWriMo, I will also take a more active part in the cabin, because it seems like a really good source of motivation (much like Google+ is during NaNoWriMo).

Overall:

I'm really glad that I did this. Although the timing is not the best for me, I did get the motivation I needed to continue writing. The slower pace of Camp worked well for me, and I had a lot of fun.

Of course, it also helped that I found a good writing site where I could get feedback on my works, which really helped in editing.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

My Four Basic Goals Part II

More than half a year ago, I wrote about my goals and narrowed them down to four. If you don't recall, here are my major goals:
  • Make sure university isn't a waste of time 
  • Read and Write 
  • Do something random and learn something new 
  • Help Out 
  • Travel 
  • Discover what I want in my dream job
And these were the 4 smaller goals that I chose to concentrate on, as well as updates:


  1. Do not neglect school for NaNoWriMo: More or less accomplished, since I didn't fail anything last semester. 
  2. Win NaNoWriMo 2013: Done *throws confetti in the air*
  3. Improve all my blogs: An ongoing process, but yes, I've made huge steps. And the Mini Bloggiesta last week certainly helped. 
  4. Help Amberbrook with their social media plan: Still ongoing, since we're revamping the whole process. 
In addition, I've been doing a few other things that fall under my huge goals. They are: 
  • Being the Bloomberg Ambassador (Goal: Discover what I want in my dream job) - I've been learning a lot about my likes and dislikes, and working style when it comes to this. 
  • Volunteered at the Social Business Forum Asia 2014 (Goal: Help out, Discover what I want in my dream job): That was a day where I learnt a lot, not just about social businesses, but how I should view my future. Plus, I got to meet Professor Yusuf! 
  • Camp NaNoWriMo (Goal: Read and Write): I have two goals, to revise last year's NaNoWriMo project and finish Draft 1 of a collaboration story that I'm doing with a friend. 
  • I also took a few MOOCs (Goal: Learn something new). One of them, Understanding Media by Understanding Google really made me think, and the readings taught me a lot that I didn't know. 
Looking back, I'm happy that even without thinking too much, I've been choosing activities that help me to progress towards my goals. But, it's time to redefine my four goals for now, in order to have something definite to work towards. My new four goals are:

  1. Integrate smart learning habits (Goal: Make sure university isn't a waste of time). I'm reading this book called How We Learn right now, and it's got a lot of things about how we can learn smarter and remember more. Summer break is coming up, which is the perfect time to experiment and see what strategies work for me and what doesn't.
  2. Continue revising Mi and You (last year's NaNoWriMo project) as well as writing Seals vs Penguins (the collaboration story) even after Camp NaNoWriMo (Goal: Read and Write). Just because there's no deadline doesn't mean I should stop, in fact, with the holidays, I should be doing more! 
  3. Go back and revise what I learnt in Latin and Ancient Greek, then learn some more (Goal: Do something random and learn something new). Sure, this doesn't have any practical application, but I've bought the textbooks, so I should really continue learning. I'm using Lingua Latina, which is supposed to be a really good textbook. Now I just have to use it! 
  4. Continue helping out with Amberbrook's Social Media plan by creating a posting schedule, assigning social media platform to people and start building a repository of good articles we can share, as well as a list of things we need to write about (Goal: help out). I realised my last goal about Amberbrook was a little vague, so here's something even more concrete. I'll be meeting the team in Singapore during my break, so here's to hoping I get things done. 
And these are my current goals. If you have any suggestions/advice, please tell me. 

Monday, 21 July 2014

Camp NaNoWriMo and Mini Bloggiesta Update

I've got updates for two different events today! The first is Camp NaNoWriMo

Goal 1: Revising Mi and You
Feedback has kind of died off for Mi and You, but I'm still going through the feedback I got last time, so there's still plenty to do! I doubt I'd make my original goal of finishing going through the whole book once before the end of the month, but I think, at the rate I'm going, I'll finish before the next NaNoWriMo. And that's good enough for me.

Goal 2: Collab Story
Again, I've written only 2 chapters (I've just published chapter 11 for feedback). But, it's been getting more feedback than expected, so I'm just happy that people are reading this!

Plus, I'm running into writer's block. So... With any luck, I'll finish draft one by the end of November.



And now for the Mini Bloggiesta updates. If you recall, my goals were:

1. Change the headers for Inside the mind of the Bibliophile and this blog.  Done! Here are the before and after photos:
Inside the mind of a Bibliophile

Before

After
 This blog
Before

After
I'm really happy with how they turned out! More details to come!

 2. Write at least 3 book reviews for Inside the mind of a Bibliophile.  Actually, I wrote 4! And then I read another 2 books today, so I have even more reviews to write.

 3. Write one post for With Love from Japan, Eustacia. Half done. I started on post, and then stopped.

I finished two and a half out of three goals, and I'm happy with that! I can't wait for the next Bloggiesta, I'm sure I'll get more done!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Mini Bloggiesta July Goals

A while back, I was looking for ways to improve my blogs. And lo and behold, I came across Bloggiesta. So, I'm really happy to dip my toes into the bloggiesta by participating in the Mini Bloggiesta, happening from July 19-20.

Since I have Camp NaNoWriMo and exams, I won't be aiming for much. My goals are:

1. Change the headers for Inside the mind of the Bibliophile and this blog. It should look like the headers at With Love from Japan, Eustacia.

2. Write at least 3 book reviews for Inside the mind of a Bibliophile. I currently have 6 unwritten book reviews, so I would like to finish at least half of them.

3. Write one post for With Love from Japan, Eustacia. I know I've promised a few posts to readers, so I should start on one of them.

And those are my goals for this mini bloggiesta. It may not sound like much, but I really hope I can find the time to do at least one of them!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Camp NaNoWriMo Week 2 Update



Woah, two weeks of camp are over already? That's way too fast, it means I'm two weeks closer to exams! Anyway, as you can imagine by the last sentence, exams and other things have impeded my progress. But anyway, goal updates:

Goal 1: Revising Mi and You

I actually got a few great pieces of feedback over the weekend, so I'll probably be able to revise a few more chapters than I expected this week. I'm really happy about that!

By the way, anyone interesting in exchanging feedback? We could do it like a volley - I give feedback for one chapter of your story, you give feedback for one chapter of my story. Message/email me if you're interested (I can provide examples of the feedback I give, so we know what we're getting out of this exchange.

Goal 2: Writing the Collab story

Well, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that I've introduce two more main characters. The bad news is that I've only written up to Chapter 9. But, I do have a few more chapters mapped out, so hopefully I do a bit more writing this week.

Overall:

I think that I'm not going to meet both goals. Because face it, I have exams coming up, and schoolwork is going to be #1 here. But, I think I'll be able to set up a good pace for writing and revising, so with any luck, I'll finish both goals by the end of September (assuming the holidays don't throw me for a loop).

How is your Camp NaNoWriMo going along?

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Camp NaNoWriMo Week 1 Update

The first week of NaNoWriMo is over! Well, a little more than the first week, and for some reason, I was under the impression that the first week wasn't over until I counted the dates. Well, my grasp of time isn't the best at the moment.

So here are the updates for Goal 1 and 2

Goal 1: Revising Mi & You

The revising is going really slowly, and has more or less stopped now. This new writing site I'm on is addictive, but I'm not getting enough feedback as I'd like (and I'm spending a lot of time reading and critiquing a lot of other stories). I've only revised slightly less than 7000 words, which is slightly more than 1/10th the novel. ><

Any one want to give me a kick in the pants by reading and giving feedback?

Goal 2: Writing the collab story

This goal is actually going pretty well. I've written down 6 (rather short) chapters, which means I've only skipped 2 (three if I don't do anything today) days. Plus, I've gotten some feedback on the story and it's pretty encouraging so far.

The biggest acheivement though, is not by my but my +Nicholas Lim. He wrote down a timeline of events that happened before the book starts(for reference) and drew a rough map. It was really the timeline that helped me figure out what to write next.

Overall:

I'm happy with how goal 2 is doing, but not goal 1. I was really hoping to do more revising for this term. But then again, July is the month before exams, and the long-term meds I'm on aren't doing me any good. So I guess any progress is good progress :D

Oh, and I think the cabin thing is working out pretty well. +Amy Dionne checked in on me to make sure I was updating my stats, so that was another good reminder to write.

If I can find any time this week, I'll be trying to do more revision!

How has Camp NaNoWriMo been for you?

Monday, 30 June 2014

Camp NaNoWriMo 2014


Tomorrow is the start of Camp NaNoWriMo! Lured by the words "G+ cabin", I decided to sign up and give it a shot.

- Very short digression: I used to post NaNoWriMo updates at With Love from Japan, Eustacia, but since I started this blog, I figured that this blog is more appropriate than a blog about life in Japan -

Camp NaNoWriMo is supposed to be more relaxed than NaNoWriMo, so instead of one goal, I have three! They are:

a. Go through last year's NaNoWriMo and make one round of edits. For this, I've found this new writing community that I'm not supposed to name yet, so hopefully it'll help with motivation!

b. Do a first draft/outline of the story I'm writing with +Nicholas Lim. At the very least, I should have discovered who the main characters are and have written one chapters by the end of the month.

c. Get to know the awesome people in my cabin! It's the first time I have anything like a cabin, and I'm looking forward to getting to know everyone.

I'll be posting updates on how everything is going once a week. Who's also participating? Let me know if you are (and your posts/your blog where you'll be updating/etc)

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The End of An Excuse For Company

I would like to officially announce the end of An Excuse for Company.

This little magazine, which was created for NaNoWriMo 2012 lasted for 10 issues, and I'm really grateful to all those who helped make it happen. To me, this magazine couldn't have lasted as long as it did without the support of the Google+ community.

For me, editing this magazine taught me a lot of things. I learnt:

How to ask people for contributions. It's still not my strong point, but I've discovered that going about things by myself is tiring and most of the time unnecessary. And also, most of you out there are awesome people who will help with time/advice/submissions.

How to format things according to Smashwords. I must have read the smashwords guide many many times to get the formatting for the book, and the cover right. Thanks to that, I will always appreciate what indie writers go through to a get a book out.

More about deadlines. I'm not, by nature, a schedule-ly person, but An Excuse for Company taught me about multiple deadlines. Deadlines to get the theme fixed, when to start reminding people, and of course, when to get the magazine out by. This is definitely something that's helping me in school as well.

And so much more. I learnt a lot not only from editing the magazine, but from reading all the submissions that all you awesome people submitted.

Even though I would have liked for the magazine to be wildly successful and never end, I learnt a lot from this experiment, and I don't regret starting An Excuse For Company.

There's a whole long list of people that I really need to thank, starting with +Micha Fire and +kat Folland for always being so supportive and going on to everyone who has ever contributed, commented and reshared.



P.s. I really like this name and this magazine, so don't be suprised if sometime in the future (maybe a few years down the road) this magazine gets resurrected :D

Saturday, 24 May 2014

My First BAT Session Proctoring Experience

As a Bloomberg Campus Ambassador, one of my duties would be to proctor (i.e. invigilate) BAT sessions that occur on campus. Today would be my first session, and the first time Kyushu University had a BAT on campus!


I think I should start with the bad news. The bad news is that out of the 7 people who registered, only 3 showed up. The worse news was that none of the 3 brought a computer with them.

But, we managed to make do. I lent one of them my computer, another got my iPad, and the third got the computer in the room. I used my handphone to register the participants and close the session.

Apart from that, the test went rather smoothly. Because there were only three students, I could seat them far away from each other, and there was a certain point at which I stood where I could see all three screens. And since I didn't have anything but my handphone, I just spent the two hours walking around the room and making sure no one had the chance to cheat.

Although not this point. 
This definitely wasn't a perfect first session. But, it finished without too many mishaps, and I got some valuable feedback - I'll be doing my best to make sure there are a few spare laptops for the next session next month.