Books I’ve Read Recently

I have a weird reading pattern lately. I can’t seem to read steadily. Either I will gobble a bunch of books one after the other, or have long stretches of time where I just cannot get into any book.

The good news though is that I actually reached my Goodreads challenge with this recent batch!

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Anina

Today I want to talk about one of my protagonists, Anina.

It’s still a little strange to sit down and decide, “Yes, it’s time to talk about a character,” because part of me feels like it’s still premature. Although my story had already gone through multiple beta readers, a developmental edit, and a line edit, sometimes I still feel like I’m at that earlier stage where at any moment, my story can crumble to pieces, and I’d have to make yet another major revision.

However, I do think that it’s time to open up a little more about my story. Many of you have been with me since the inception of this blog, and I have been posting about my writing process since late 2016. Since then, I have ranted about the woes of writing, blogged about NaNoWriMo challenges, and shared all the artwork I made related to this novel.

Yet in all that time, I’ve never really talked about the components of my story in fair detail. I’ve dropped character names, but who are they really? Why should you care about them? Why do I feel like spending years and years crafting their story? What kind of world do they live in?

So I’m hoping that in this new series of posts, I can share with you more information about the different pieces of my story and what inspired them.


Anina is a sixteen-year-old girl who is looking for a way to gain magic. She has been searching for a few years, but nobody had been able to answer her. One day she hears of a reclusive mage up in the mountains who dabbles in illegal magic. Hoping that this person can help her, Anina decides to seek her.

Unfortunately for Anina, when she arrives at the Hermit Mage’s house, the mage herself is nowhere in sight. Even worse, she finds the king’s warriors trying to arrest the mage’s son, Sano. Without meaning to, Anina gets caught up in the conflict, and ends up fleeing the scene as an accomplice of a fugitive.

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Butuan Gold

Is it too early to start talking about a new story, when I am nowhere near the finish line with The Malicious Wind?

Well, early or not, I am quite eager to share this new idea that’s been brewing the last few months. Partly because I am incredibly excited about this idea (that sometimes I wonder about shelving TMW and starting on this), and partly because I would love to hear what you all think about it.

Premise

A double-heist set in 15th century Kingdom of Butuan (now a province of the Philippines), the story follows two groups of characters.

The Dimatulak family are expert con-artists who have swindled their way through the Tagalog nobility. Bored and looking for a new challenge, they set their eyes south to Butuan, a kingdom brimming with gold. Rumours tell them of an underground treasury with more precious minerals than all the islands of the archipelago combined. Doing what they do best, the Dimatulak family comes up with a plan to steal the treasure.

On another part of the archipelago is a rag-tag group of former servants and slaves, who have recently survived a shipwreck. With no money and no master, they hear of similar rumours and decide that freedom and wealth would suit them better. They bring together their skills from hardened lives to empty the treasury and fill their pockets.

Unbeknownst to both groups, they set the robbery to the same time: the upcoming lunar eclipse. Both are more than prepared for their own heists. Unfortunately, they didn’t prepare for each other.

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My Art Process

It’s always fascinating to me to see other artists’ processes of making artwork, so I thought I’d post mine. I’m only an intermediate artist, so this is probably not going to be as complex as others you might have seen. Actually, I think my process is pretty straightforward.

Before I jump in, these are the tools I use:

I used to use GIMP, but these days I mostly just use it to manipulate images once most of the painting is done on Krita. (I love open source software, by the way, as you can tell.)

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Tuesday Tunes: UDD

I’m starting a new series of posts where I share some of my favourite music. Whenever I’m involved in any kind of creative process (ie. brainstorming, writing, drawing, and yes, even programming), I like to have a steady stream of music in the background. It’s actually pretty surprising to me that I could have gone this long on social media without really talking about music, considering how they often inspire my stories and art pieces.

You’ll notice very quickly that most of the artists that I’ll feature are foreign (at least, foreign to the mainstream North American music scene; not necessarily foreign to me). I would say that on average, I listen 90% of the time to Asian artists, and only 10% to North American / European artists.

I’m really excited to begin this series, because I feel like there aren’t a lot of people who listen to the same music as I do, and I would love to introduce these talented folks to a new audience, or meet like-minded fans.


Up Dharma Down

Kicking this series off is one of my favourite bands, UDD (once known as Up Dharma Down)!

UDD is a Filipino band whose music is a little difficult to describe. Some say they are alternative-rock, others say electro-pop. The band itself refuses to be boxed in by genre, so perhaps that’s where the difficulty comes from. Their songs range from rock with jazzy undertones, to short upbeat instrumentals, to pop with 80s/90s flair. Like I said, a little hard to describe. In the 15 years since their formation, they’ve come out with 4 albums, each packed with songs that span a wide range of genres.

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Names from my WIP

For those of you who have been following me for a while, you would know that my current WIP (tentatively titled The Malicious Wind, by the way) is inspired largely by precolonial Filipino culture. However, the setting isn’t exactly precolonial Philippines, just something more or less based on it. So the names I’ve chosen are also based on Filipino words, but with some letters altered.

Names based on Tagalog words

There are two groups in my story that are derivatives of the Tagalog peoples: the Katamans and the Dayungans. In the story, they are in conflict with each other, which is why I chose to base them on the same group. Otherwise, I think I would be drawing inappropriate or inapplicable parallels where the conflict is concerned.

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Quick Update

Hello guys! I know it’s been a while since my last post. I am very much aware that I am more sporadic than heat waves here in Canada (not impossible, just rare and unpredictable), and I am hoping to rectify that. I know I’ve said this before, and you probably don’t have a very good reason to believe why it should be different this time, but I am actively planning a blog post schedule. It turns out that I do have a lot of things I want to talk about; it’s just that in the past few months, I have been too lethargic to believe these posts are worth talking about. But I think with a bit of effort, I can make them interesting for you guys.

I also want to get back to blogging more regularly, because the writing process is so solitary! Maybe I feel so lethargic because I just don’t have that sense of community. Maybe I’ve been experiencing something of a chicken-and-egg problem.

Here are a few ideas I have for upcoming posts:

  • what inspired certain aspects of my WIP
  • ideas for my next stories (yes, I have lots of ideas — the problem is finding the time to work on them!)
  • art-related posts like the Schoolism courses I’ve been taking or my process for completing a piece
  • book reviews, or at the very least, things I’m reading or planning to read
  • personal posts about things I deal with as I figure this “author” thing out
  • music — yup! I have never posted about music before, but I listen to lots of music, and I have been meaning to share my favourites for some time now

Feel free to suggest other ideas as well. Like I said, my blogging skills have stagnated a bit, and I am not up to date with the blogging world. What would you guys like to hear about from me?

Back on BetaBooks

Hi guys! I have uploaded the newest version of my novel on BetaBooks here. The previous one is disabled (not deleted, so I can go back and reread readers’ comments), so if you’ve signed up to read the old one and can no longer access the link, this is the new one.

I know that I have been negligent in giving updates, but part of that is because I’ve been focusing on working on the product, and I’m unsure what would be of interest for me to share. Not to mention, I have been incredibly distracted lately by… of all things, Idol Philippines, hahaha! Oh man, what a poor excuse.

To get me back on track, I have picked up several books that will hopefully allow me to focus on building a brand surrounding my novel, and to a certain extent, my author persona. I think the main reason I can never get traction in making official artwork and setting up that website I’ve been planning for many months, is because I don’t really know how to present this product yet. I don’t know how to design my site, or what feel the artwork should give that will be consistent from piece to piece.

For a long time, I’ve been intimidated by the marketing and branding field, feeling like I know too little for a bit of reading to help me get better. Now I feel bad that I didn’t pick up this book sooner. How to Style your Brand lays down the basics of branding in such a straightforward way that is incredibly helpful for newbies like me. Certain sections are formatted like worksheets, designed to really get you into the right mindset. Working my way through this book, I already feel incredibly inspired.

Another thing I’m struggling with is just writing posts on my blogs (which you can all probably tell, considering how infrequently I do it, heh). When I learned of this book, I bought it right away, because I really need help figuring out how to leverage my blogs into something that will be helpful for me as an author.

So hopefully these books will help, and during the next few weeks, I will really try my best to polish up my online presence.

Winding Down

You know, I never really thought about it until now, but Canada Day marks the 2nd half of the year, doesn’t it? Since it’s on July 1st and everything. And I guess I didn’t think about it that way for a long time, because for most of my Canadian life, I’ve been a student, and I only thought of July as the start of summer. But now that I’m working, and I tend to think in quarterly, or even year-long milestones, July 1 seems a lot more significant.

That also means I have a day-off today, and because I work for a nice, very Canadian company, we’re given extra long weekends during the summer. So I spent the last 4 days mostly at home, recovering from the epic failure of my driving test last Tuesday. I watched a lot of YouTube and I ate at a lot. I tried to do things that would make me feel better.

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