Wednesday 13 June 2018

Writers, are you still writing?

The writing business is such where only a few make it and many do not. Those are the statistics and they can be quite depressing.

When I started writing, I began with nothing but my laptop and an idea. I do not have siblings or parents and because I've never been in touch with an extended family, the prospect of having families turning into fans and reviewers was void. Regardless, I published my first novel and crossed my fingers, hoping that someone might read it. That was almost six years ago and I am still writing.

Of course when one puts a book out, they want to be not only read, but also to be able to make a reasonable living out of it. However, such a possibility becomes available to only a handful of authors. So are they lucky? Would the others be correctly classified as the majority unfortunates?
How do you label yourself?

I consider myself successful. Perhaps, my definition of success is slightly different from what others might perceive it. Starting from basically nothing, I am grateful for the response and appreciation I have received over these past few years. You see, success is very subjective. It all depends on your goals in the industry. Do you want to be a bestseller? Do you want to earn $20 to $30k a month? Or do you want to be simply read?

I wanted to follow my passion of writing. That was my objective in writing. I was basically hopeless at everything else. I was usually depressed slogging through jobs I hated and doing my best living up to standards set by others. I soon realized, I had lived half my life doing everything else but doing what I wanted to do. When opportunity presented itself, I grabbed it with both hands and set off to fulfilling my dream. Telling stories.

What are your goals? Have you experienced instances of not wanting to write? What were your reasons? Remember to always revert back to the basics. What got you started on the writing path in the first place.

We live in a fortunate age and time when everybody is giving an equal platform to publish their books. Gone are the days where we had to depend on publishers and literary agents to approve of our work. Some of the best books in literature happen to come from self-publishers such as The Martian by Andy Weir and Still Alice by Lisa Genova. Yours could be the next. Just don't quit. Because if you don't put your thoughts, your ideas and your book out there, no one else will.

Not everyone is going to like your books. Not everyone is going to appreciate your unique concept. Some may win with a single try, while others would have to work harder at it . But so long as you're trying, you're still in the game.

But there's one other primary lesson life has taught me in this rat race of becoming the best. Chase your passions and success will chase after you.

Friday 8 June 2018

An Assassin and His Blind Love Interest

Why, you may ask, would I write about a central female character who is blind? As one reviewer shelved, "DNF. Goodluck with this one".

I am fascinated with assassins and they always seemed to sport a strong, beautiful woman on their arm. Women who always happened to look perfect in comparison to the fantastic flaws of the hero. Check out a good assassin oriented movie like well, Assassin, starring Sylvester Stallone. Or Bourne Identity? Or Hitman?

But the weird me began thinking, what if... what if his love interest was blind? What would his challenges be, taking into account the chaotic world he's lived in? How would he protect the woman he loved then?

A Jar of Dreams and A Jar of Hearts documents the life of Eric Tanner who does just that. Faced with the consequences of the decisions he has made all his life, he only begins to realize that the price for those decisions may well probably be blind Anne Mullen, the woman he has hopelessly fallen in love with.

Was I able to successfully impart the angst, heartache, the tensions and the conflicts Eric Tanner was faced with? I hope so. As another reviewer puts it:

I loved how the love story part of this was so well-developed. It felt so real.
Medavis66, Goodreads                    

It was a proud, teary moment for me as I scannd through reviews pouring similar sentiments for the books because these two books were probably two of the hardest I had ever written. There were times I had doubted myself for ever pulling it off and there were certainly times I wanted to shelf them away for good. 

Having a blind character navigate her way through each page was a challenge. I certainly saw her in my mind but how do I show my readers exactly what I was seeing? And what of Eric Tanner's flaws? He is a murderer. He may have a conscience but he still was a murderer. Did he deserve Anne?

I took to the movies and binged on romances with blind leading characters such as At First Sight (1999), Blind (Netherlands), Fanaa (India) and Always (Korean).

Always (Korean) Trailer with English Subtitles

And I did not regret it because I was ecstatic when I found out that there were readers who enjoyed them just as much. I understand that the concept may not be suited to everyone out there, but the books served as an important lesson to me as a writer.

Never give up on a dream. If I worked hard at it enough, everything was possible!


Wednesday 6 June 2018

Why I chose to make my Mulan modern?

I have been asked by a few people why I chose to use modern language in an otherwise historical setting of Mulan.

The reasons were simple in my mind. Or at least I thought so.

Mulan was never meant to be a history text book. It is a romance catered to the larger audience of romance readers of which many I believed would not have wanted to wade through the dictionary to find the meaning of an archaic term or to return twice or thrice to a sentence only to decipher its meaning. I wrote it in a simpler and modern format for the very same reasons Disney had its Mulan characters speaking in modern English- it is meant to be an easy, entertaining read for a wider audience.

Disney's Mulan

My purpose of writing Mulan stemmed from the need to see this legendary warrior be given a romance which I missed in most re-tellings. I wasn't quite satisfied with the romance Disney gave me and I can't blame them when their primary audience were children. And the Chinese version was just too darned serious, focusing on her growth as a soldier rather than on the romance.

The Chinese movie version of Mulan

As a writer, there were times also where I was conflicted with the many forks I was faced with while writing Mulan. Do I make the characters homophobic as they would have been in Ancient China or socially tolerant of homosexuality?

I decided to opt for the modern road because my primary objective was again Mulan's romance and not on the social norms of Ancient China. I believed that delving in the social taboos would have opened a whole new can of issues and resolutions which would have in turn swayed away from the romance.

On the whole, my journey while writing Mulan had been quite an adventure. And to know that there also have been readers out there who have been searching for a romance for Mulan has been exciting.

If this is your kind of Mulan which you don't mind reading and reviewing, then please feel free to drop in to request for a free review copy.

Sunday 27 May 2018

My new gender bender romance, MULAN

So I wrote a book called 'MULAN'.

No, Mulan doesn't belong to Disney.  The earliest record of this legendary warrior was found in an old Chinese poem called 'The Ballad of Mulan'. Her historic existence however is questionable. 
I first read of Hua Mulan in 1982. I was about six or seven years old at the time, but her story left such an indelible impression, I have been enamored by her ever since. 
Of course, when the Disney version came out, I was one of those who rushed to the cinemas. I even gobbled through the much rather somber Chinese version, starring Zhao Wei. 
Finally, I found the courage to write my own rendition, suiting it for the romance fanatics like me. I hope it is one you will enjoy. 
So if you're up for a free copy to read and review, just fill in your details by following the link below!

Thursday 21 September 2017

Should Romeo & Juliet Be Taught in Schools?

My 14 year DS came whining to me earlier this year about having started his first ever Shakespearean literature in school. And thus there started a continual battle between trying to convince him of the literary contributions the great Bard had made and why his works should be studied, and then agreeing with DS about why Romeo & Juliet should not be taught in schools. Yep, it was the star-crossed lovers he had a particular despise for.


Having once been in my son's shoes, twenty and more years ago, I can understand why he finds it difficult trying to appreciate Shakespeare. We have long moved on from the Early Modern English the plays were written in, and so it does take a lot more effort in trying to understand it. Usually when one picks up literature, they see it as a means of entertainment. A 14 year old can hardly call Shakespeare entertainment when he has to continue resorting to the dictionary to understand the language. A paraphrased translation helped a little, but any Shakespearean fanatic will tell you it is just not enough. So of course, I encouraged him to read both. I mean what good is Shakespeare when you can't say "To bait fish withal". "I'll use it as fish bait" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

However, I had to agree with DS, albeit reluctantly, that R&J should perhaps not be taught in schools. He could not find the relevance to his world no matter how much he tried. Schools often pick R&J as an introductory text to Shakespeare's works, believing that it would be the one students would most relate to. After all, Romeo and Juliet are about their age and madly in love, and that's something they can identify with, right?

Eh... not so much according to DS. He pulled out their ages- Romeo was perhaps 16 and older and Juliet was 13 years old. Therefore Romeo became a pedophile. He was in love with Rosaline bfeore falling for Juliet, so did that make it love or lust at first sight? He after all had a sickening penchant for pubescent girls. Capulet dictated Juliet on her love life and DS threw up his hands calling him a despot and a misogynist tyrant who did not believe in female empowerment. Sampson was chauvinistic and had urges to rape, Romeo was a murderer, Juliet was just too young, a three day affair- 6 deaths, the play was sexist and Shakespeare would have been vilified as a plagiarist today for never crediting Bardello for his inspiration... Argh! I almost had me tearing my hair out of my head, answering his questions.

The argument that this is how it was five hundred years ago was only met with how is it relevant now? Why am I studying this? Society has changed for the better. Leave the past in the past. And for godsakes, move on!

I sat for a long while after that, trying to figure out a way to help him appreciate Shakespeare. It was only then I understood I could never really do that. I had no right whatsoever to force Shakespearean literature down his throat. He would only barf it up again. Interestingly, I also remembering groaning at Shakespeare at his age. My love for the ole Bard began in my adulthood. I realized then that my son wasn't acting so out of character after all.

Shakespeare was a business man, first and foremost. He recognized he had a talent for writing and found a lucrative potential in theater. So he did what any person would do. He put quill to paper and made a hell lot of money. His audience was primarily men, drunk men, so it was inevitable that his plays were going to be sexist. It still happens today. Put a group of hammered men together and watch the sexist jokes fly. Well, usually.

So is my son unappreciative of Shakespeare? I suppose not. If I'm not going to have my 14 year old son read Fifty Shades of Grey today, why would I expect a 14 year old to study it in class five hundred years later only because the language has suddenly become archaic? Cringe. I know. Not the best equivalent.

In ten more years though, when he is adult enough to understand the low brow humor of Shakespeare, I am certain he will begin to enjoy Shakespearean literature. That is, when he finally becomes the target audience that Shakespeare had created his plays for.

For now, instead of Romeo & Juliet, give him a Shakespeare he probably might understand. Like Macbeth or Hamlet. I have a suspicion he would probably relate better to those. After all, aren't their themes more rampant in the movies and this digital game age? Ahh... but I guess that is an argument best left for another post.

Saturday 9 April 2016



Well, at least the inspirations behind it were.

Writers write for a different purpose and mine was always to bring a change where I could, an awareness where needs be, other than of course the joy of simply putting words to paper and creating new universes.

I didn't plan out to write "The Yearning". It just came about like most of my other books- through real life experiences.

I once read an article about a pregnant woman suffering from brain cancer. This was her first baby and she didn't want to terminate the pregnancy. As expected, it didn't aid her treatment and unfortunately, she passed away a little after the baby was born.

Yet Another Unfortunate Case of a Pregnant
woman with Cancer- Cara Coombs
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I was most certainly affected by the story because I spent a lot of time long after that wondering what had become of her husband and child and the grief her husband had to bear during her illness and after her death. I had even cried a little as the woman spoke about her cancer and coming to terms with the fact that she might never see her daughter grow or share the joys that came from watching her turn into an adult.

I filed the story away somewhere in the corner of my mind, never thinking much of it except to sometimes sympathize and wonder how the baby was doing now. A few weeks after that, I read another article on a woman who discovered her husband was having an affair with a woman only after he was shot down by his lover's husband. She spoke about how she was devastated as the police reported their findings. This was certainly not how she wanted to know about her husband's infidelities. She suffered from psychological trauma as a result since she never really found closure.

It was then I found prospects in a possible story. Here was a widow with a tragic past and there was a widower with another tragedy in his life. These were not stories I plucked out from twenty or thirty years ago. These were recent incidents that actually happened in the past five years. I felt these would be experiences readers would relate to in this day and age. But for some reason I hesitated, believing that there was still a backbone it lacked.

And that is when I discovered the plight of the ranches in Arizona, particularly Cochise County where farmers were struggling with smugglers trespassing through their properties. There have been many reports of ranch owners being hassled, robbed and even murdered by traffickers. And yes, there were rape trees reported as well. Whether the rapes were actualized is unclear, but there definitely were trees littered with female undergarments for the sole purpose of intimidation and invoking fear into anyone who saw it.

A Rape Tree
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And here I found my purpose to write this story. I can only hope that this problem will be resolved as soon as it possibly can. I can only pray that all those who are affected by it are safe and protected.

Saturday 17 January 2015


Warning: Contains Spoilers to Red Collar

Cinderella has been one of my all time favorite childhood fairy tales. Perhaps, it was the dream of being swept off the feet by a prince or the possibility of a poor damsel finally achieving her victory that attracted me to the tale. Sometimes, I do think it was the secret wish of having a fairy godmother just like Cinderella's. Whichever is the case, Cinderella continues to woo many small girls because of its charm and magic.

Kate Ripley of Red Collar  is a Cinderella of a very tainted sort. She is not just poor but she is also riddled with the burdens of her poverty stricken family. So when she loses her job because she won't succumb to the advances of her horny boss and is at her last straws on finding another, she finally agrees to become a sexual escort.

And thus begins her adventure with the mysterious CEO, Clayton Reid.

1. Why did Kate become an escort when she refused the sexual advances of her boss? This doesn't make sense!

When Kate is made redundant, she thought it was only a matter of time before she would find another employment. She would never have guessed that she was going to drag her resume on for the long haul. She probably would have persevered in her job hunt. However with the sudden responsibility she had to take on as the sole breadwinner for her family caused her to panic. In addition, her mother's dire need for medication pushed her into the escort business. 

This is not an original premise. In fact, one has to only scour the internet to find women who have been forced into prostitution because of their desperate financial needs.

According to "women are in legal prostitution for the same reason they are in illegal prostitution, a lack of alternative survival options. Most women in prostitution did not make a choice to enter prostitution from among a range of other options. They did not decide they want to be prostitutes instead of doctors, engineers, lawyers, pilots. Instead their 'options' were more in the realm of how to get enough money to feed themselves and their children... Most women end up there only because other options are not available."

It further quotes researchers on saying that "When prostituted women are asked, consistently around 90% say they want out of prostitution immediately, but the decision is out of their hands and in the hands of their pimps, their husbands, their addictions, their children's bellies...If they are because they cannot leave, then prostitution is not a freely made choice."

And that is exactly what Kate plans when she accepts Clayton's offer of mistress and secretary. She is buying time during which she honestly believes she can find another respectable employment. As a result, she sacrifices her dignity for the sake of her family.

2. Clayton's offer to hire Kate as his mistress makes him a jerk.

You know, it probably does. But keep in mind, Clayton never did expect to fall in love with Kate. 

Like Clayton, there are numerous incidences of employers having office affairs. What makes Clayton different is that he doesn't want to be tangled in the emotions that could arise from such a liaison. He likes his relations cleanly cut and diced.

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The reader does come to know towards the end of the novel that Clayton had first set his eyes on Kate in Madame Madge's parlor. He was introduced to Madame Madge by Bob Whitton who presumably had been soliciting her services. When Madame Madge offers Clayton her services, he declines. This evidently proves that Clayton is not in the habit of hiring escorts. 

But when he does spot Kate in Madame Madge's massage parlor, he is attracted to her. And when he does inquire about her, he discovers that she used to work as a secretary. This fact affects him, seeing that she is resorting to the business of escorting out of her desperation for finance. Knowing that he is in lack of a good partner during his social meetings and the want to have a secretary who would understand her boundaries without entangling herself emotionally with him, he feels that they would serve each other's needs. His honorable intentions to save her from the abusive business of sex prostitution is however somehow marred in his sudden possessiveness to keep her with him forever.

3. How could Kate fall in love with the very man who contracted her services?


Some readers may claim there isn't one redeemable quality about Clayton that could have caused Kate to have fallen in love with him.

But how do people fall in love? lists a variety of factors that contribute to why people fall in love in

Regardless of how Kate initially feels about Clayton, his physical attributes and his success attracts her. And these constitutes her first steps to loving Clayton.

Kate has struggled to achieve what she's got in her life. And when she discovers that Clayton has worked equally as hard, she is fascinated by him. And finally when she meets his perfect loving family, this somewhat seals her affection for him as she secretly begins to wish to have a part of that happiness. Something which she had never quite received in her own gloomy childhood.

In addition, Kate associates sex with love, proven by the seriousness of her past relationships. And although she first refuses to believe that she is in love with Clayton, the more she spends time with him, she inevitably can no longer sever her emotions from the sex. On the whole, the time she spends with Clayton still plays a crucial role in why she falls in love with him- and vice versa.

4. Kate and Clayton and their misunderstandings

Yep, there are misunderstandings abound. And here's why.

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Kate and Clayton come from completely contrasting social backgrounds. Their behavioral principles differ. Their perspective on life is different. What did bind them together were their core values and their passion for each other. But these were not enough to make them trust each other completely from the very onset. Especially when one has contracted the other for his own needs, and the other despises him for having hired her.

But as they slowly came to know one another, both intimately and emotionally, they did begin to contemplate the idea of remaining in the facade of a proper relationship.

5. The big one! What the f*** does Red Collar even mean?

Nothing, if you're searching for a literal meaning.

The Red Lights of Prostitution
Red Light District- Amsterdam

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The color red, though has long been associated with sexuality, eroticism and immorality and thus significantly became a color of prostitution. History states that prostitutes in some cities were required to wear red in order to announce their profession, or display a red light indicating it a house of prostitution. And thus arose terms such as 'Red Light District', which is still found today in cities such as Bangkok and Amsterdam.

For Kate, her contract with Clayton Reid was just a job- a scarlet and tainted one. And for this reason, I coined the term 'red collar'.

Kate was fortunate that the first man who contracted her fell in love with her. However, this is only a tale. A fairy tale even. There are real women caught in the circle of sexual abuse and slavery. Hopefully, they will also one day find their prince to free them from their chains of enslavement.

RED COLLAR is available at all Amazon Stores