General Update

Hey guys! It’s been a little more than a month since my last post. Sorry about that, but lately, I’ve been trying to re-examine this blog’s purpose. I’m a little less into writing book reviews, and since posting my latest draft up on BetaBooks I don’t really have anything to say about writing. I mostly post my artwork on Tumblr or DeviantArt, and I suppose I can post them here as well, but I don’t know if WordPress is really the best medium for art. I know it supports “portfolio” style posts, but I don’t know if it’s going to help me much.

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February 2018 Art

In my last update about my Schoolism subscription, I mentioned that I switched momentarily from the Pictorial Composition course to take a lighting course. I’ve been watching Sam Nielson’s Fundamentals of Lighting, because I think I lack even the most basic grasp of light and colour. That said, I still proceeded with the 2nd assignment for Pictorial Composition, just so I don’t lag too much behind. Here’s some of my compositions:Read More »

September 2017 Reads

Wow, I think I made a reading record last month. 6 books! I’m notorious for being a slow reader, but I don’t know what I happened… I blew through 4 large books and 2 smaller ones.

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Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn

This book got me out of my reading slump. It’s about a noble girl who lived most of her life in exile, until her father died and she was brought back to court life. As someone who is an elemental mage, she holds a lot of power and soon she finds herself embroiled in intrigue.

I love how character-centric this was. Even though much of the plot isn’t action-oriented, I was always wondering what’s going to happen to Zoe next. Zoe was a likeable character, though I think for a character-oriented book, it kind of lacked a character arc.

One of the plot twists that I was afraid of happening happened in the last 5 pages of the book, which was… erm, a bit of a let down. So overall, I enjoyed this book lots except for a few parts, and thank it very much for pulling me out of my reading slump.

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August Artwork

After writing every day during Camp NaNoWriMo in July, I really took the time to focus on art in August. Considering that it usually takes me 2 weeks to make a complete artwork, I think having finished four is good turnout for me. It’s a mix of fanart for The Queen’s Thief series as well as my original project.

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Moribito: Guardian of the Darkness by Nahoko Uehashi

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Okay, I am so excited to review this book. This is the sequel to Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, which is also the the basis of the anime, Seirei no Moribito. I read the book and I watched the anime back in 2015, and I fell completely in love with both. I got distracted since then, which was why it took me so long to pick this book up even though I bought both books at the same time. I really regret it, because… you guys… this book is beyond amazing!

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Writing Woes: My Bad Habits as a Fanfiction Writer

It’s July! That means it’s Camp NaNoWriMo! So far, I’ve been lucky to find the time to write so that I am, on average, hitting my word and plot goals. This month I plan to finish off the first draft to my novel, and I’m trying to do that in around 50,000 words.

The first two times that I participated in NaNoWriMo (the official one last November, and the camp version in April), I tried to employ the techniques I used as a fanfiction writer to churn out enough words and get my story moving. As you know, I have been writing fanfiction for 13 years, so I thought that if I had been able to write for that long, then I must have been doing something right.

I don’t think I was wrong in assuming that. But I think I was wrong in thinking that all the techniques I used to spin out story after story would apply to original fiction. Comparing how much better I’m doing in my third NaNoWriMo than the first two, I think I’ve sorted out which habits I used for fanfiction that aren’t translating very well to my original story.

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2017 May Reads

Alright, in an effort to liven up this blog from my incessant writing woes posts, I’m going to take a moment to talk about some of the books I’ve read this month so far. I think if I read really quickly, I might be able to read one more book before the month is up.

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 Story Genius by Lisa Cron

I’ve been having a lot of difficulty writing the first draft of my story, mostly because I had a hard time really writing from any of my characters’ perspectives. This book was recommended to me in response to that.

I think the most valuable lesson I learned in this book is how every story that captivates readers sufficiently is ultimately a character-driven story. I’ve read many writing books before, and some of them distinguish between “plot-driven” and “character-driven” stories. In Story Genius, Lisa Cron explains why any kind of meaningful story is actually character-driven, no matter if the plot has tons of exciting things going on.

I know, it’s not a ground-breaking concept. Even in my own reading experience, I tend to gravitate towards books where I sympathized with characters the most. And I think her explanation brings home why this is so: an event in a story (in other words, the actual plot) has very little meaning unless the character gives us a context in which to make sense of that event. So really, even your most plot-driven story, if it’s good, is actually anchored by the protagonist.

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2017 Jan – Apr Books Read So Far

Ahh, well, I guess my plan of getting back into writing book reviews in the new year sort of fell through. That’s okay though, here’s a combined post of everything I’ve read so far.

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The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
This one is a reread. The Queen’s Thief series is my favourite book series ever, but the last time I read this book was a few years ago. Because of the new installment in the series next month, I’ve joined the read-along over at Sounis.

The Thief of Eddis is captured by the Queen of Attolia when he was spying for his queen. After suffering a cruel punishment, Eugenides struggles with his identity amidst the onslaught of war and the possibility of… uhm, I don’t want to spoil it for you guys. This is a terrible overview of the plot, but each book in the Queen’s Thief series in general is difficult to summarize, because of the risk of revealing crucial plot twists.

Since my last reread, I’ve forgotten much of the intricacies of the plot. That’s why it’s probably not much of a shock that I found myself reacting to Attolia in much the same way I initially reacted to her. I hated her at first, and then by the end of the book, I just wanted to cuddle her up. I think it’s a testament to Turner’s amazing writing skills that I could undergo this transformation as a reader, not just once, but twice.

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Thick As Thieves ARC Contest

Oh gosh, I hope this would not come across as a school essay. The prompt for this entry is, “Why I should have an ARC.” I think I will echo most of the other entries in saying “I really need one” and “I really want one!” Hehe. But I think I will also customize my response by saying how The Queen’s Thief series in general has affected me as a person.

QT was one of the reasons I became a better reader, writer and artist. Yeah. As someone who didn’t really read much as a teen, reading QT and participating in Sounis really improved my reading skills. I used to be the kind of inactive reader who wouldn’t think twice about certain lines, and so I always missed subtle twists or nuances in stories. QT changed that. I learned how to read better, where to find clues, and how to check my perceptions. In the end, I learned how to enjoy stories all the more because my experience with QT reminds me that there’s more to discover if you just know where to look.

Becoming a better reader also made me a better writer. Even though I mostly wrote fanfiction, QT inspired me to take chances with twistier plots. And because twists require that you actually have some idea of your story’s plot, I really had to learn how to map out my stories before hand. Which is a good thing, because I used to be the kind of writer whose characters would inevitably die by tripping into plot holes. Moreover, I realized the importance of subtlety. Whereas before, all I really cared about were long, flowery internal monologues or commentaries about weather, I now enjoy writing with deceptive simplicity. And I think my stories are better when there’s actually stuff going on, not just a boastful list of thesaurus-based vocabulary.

And finally, to top off this hamburger-style essay, I would say that QT made me a better artist. Well, not even better, but I would say, it made me an artist. I wasn’t an artist for most of my life. I enjoyed drawing every now and then, but it wasn’t until I stumbled upon the QT fandom (and many other book fandoms) that I felt the need to take drawing more seriously. I really love looking at fanarts, but for many small book fandoms, there aren’t many fanarts at all. I realized that just like with fanfiction, if there’s something I wanted to see but nobody else is creating it, it’s up to me to do it! The problem was that I was a very bad artist at first. So I really had to push myself to learn art. Because if I want to see a picture of Eugenides and Irene kissing in that infamous Queen of Attolia tent scene, well too bad, nobody else would give it to me! Or how about a dandy Gen striking a really awesome pose? A buff Sophos? Gen and Irene just being dorky? These images were always in my head, and I wanted to see them manifest in real life. I wanted to share them, and squee with other fangirls about my ideas. I don’t think I would have worked half as hard at being an artist if it wasn’t for QT.

I don’t know if any of these things really justify why I deserve an ARC, haha, and I definitely don’t think I deserve one any more than other fans. But I guess I just want to say that I love, love, love this series so much, not only because of the wonderful characters –who now seem a little more than just imaginary friends — or the amazing plot twists, but also because of the positive influence it had on me.