Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Got me thinking...

Ack... Another, uhm, month I've been gone here. Where does the time fly, eh? Now I know I say this a lot, but this time I mean it. Why else would you see me posting on a Wednesday? Oh well, aside from the fact that I just put the darndest and most harrowing uni semester ever behind me and getting on my own two feet after the other happenings...

This blog is gonna roll again! Twice a week. One for a perception-tunnel type of post (can include links to articles on the Web) and the weekly life-and-writing round-up.

Now since today is not Friday, guess what? Yup, it's the new Perception Tunnel spot on my blog.

A friend of mine recently sent me a link to an article on stereotypes, especially when one is writing multiracial characters. I won't post it here today, coz my focus is on another article I stumbled upon when reading that. It was a post by author Camy Tang, and you can find it here. In it she was talking about how she got the 'revelation' and decided she'd write what she knows best, namely Asian-American fiction.

This struck a chord in me, because she reminded me of me when I started writing. At the time, I had just finished reading the humongous A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. While the political scene-type of plot and descriptions made my eyes glaze over, I was completely taken in by the life and woes of the characters in there. Latta, the heroine, who loved a Muslim boy, Kabir, in the time of India's Partition that seemed to have set the wheels of Hindu-Muslim hate and animosity in motion. Her nagging and drops-in-a-faint-with-nerves-at every-opportunity mother, Mrs. Rupa Mehra. I was lol and most of the time going, this is so much like the life me and my friends live even today.

At around the same time, I watched Bend It Like Beckham, and other culture-type movies such as Bride and Prejudice and American Desi. Movies, and ultimately stories, that called to every young person of Indian origin the world over.

That's it there - Indian culture. Be it my friend who lives in India, my cousins who live in England, acquaintances in America, random strangers in Mauritius - we all share something in common, and that is the Indian culture. We all know that when there is a wedding, you're expected to wear kurtis and churidars or saris that bare your midriff but goodness gracious, girl, your legs should not show! We all know that as long as you're playing Indian music, be it A.R Rahman or movie soundtracks or bhangra, as long as the lyrics are Indian, go on and go balle balle! No matter if the music is telling the story of girl power and how every girl should go out and just hook up with that great-looking bloke for a night of great no-strings-attached sex, it's Indian, you know. Shania Twain and her profound lyrics a la From This Moment does not stand any chance coz, shame, she's Western!

I've grown up in this kind of world, and yes, it is the one I know best. So what better than an Indian-cultural inspired story for my first novel? Now Indian-based is done out there. What would be my difference? Well, no one had written about my land, Mauritius. Mind you, there are lots of Mauritian reads out there, but the Bend It Like Beckham type? Nopes. I had my angle. The rainbow island, where almost every culture on Earth dwells in peaceful harmony. Uh, let me correct that - seemingly peaceful harmony. No, we don't break out in religious fanatism-type of riots or anything like that (thank goodness!) but there are definite little currents running beneath the surface. Like the fact that you stick with and marry your own 'kind'. That friendship is okay with others but remember your 'own'. That 'why would you do like them others?' I guess you cannot escape all that - it's human nature after all. But in all the differences, there are way lots of similarities.

Like every young girl, whether White, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Black, Chinese, gets asked the question at and after she turns 20 - when are you getting married, dear?
Like every mom, from whatever cultural, ethnic or religious belonging, goes into a fainting spell the day she hears her daughter has a boyfriend (usually tipped off by an anonymous phone call).
Like every young person, be it whatever his or her cultural and religious upbringing, having their gaze crossing that of another across a crowded room and going, could he/she be the one and immediately thinking, I hope she's of the same religion/culture/ethnic origin as I am otherwise there'll be hell to pay.

I've written my first story, The Other Side, with all this in mind, and I guess people have noticed. I've been told the issues and situations and the way they were depicted were profoundly Mauritian, but done in a light and humourous way that was light-years away from the usual drudgery of Mauritian literature. This was by Mauritians. I've had Indians telling me I could just transpose the setting for India and the issues would still apply. Even 'weirder' to me was having African-Americans telling me they 'got' the story and plot and issues too coz it had striking similarities with their world.

And then something happened. I was 'told' culture-based 'does not cut it anymore'. I was advised to steer away from the culture-issues even if I did keep the setting. Stories are universal, apparently. I was to focus on characterization and plot and leave the culture threads behind, or weave them in as little as possible coz 'culture-based is not cutting it anymore.'

From this blow and discouraging note, I moved onto culture-free writing, developing the Nolwynn Ardennes novels. I had, and still have, fun with them, but they're not all I wanna do. I want to write about nagging aunties, overwhelming moms, cultural divides, roots, identity, the culture that shapes us into who we are.

As I am now at a point where I can afford to take stock of my writing and decide what to do with it, I realise I miss the culture-based fun. Every time I watch American Desi I laugh just as hard. There is definitely something about over-confident Indian guys who brag that they can cook Indian food and then you see them tossing a chapatti directly on the flame and emptying a whole 1-pound packet of garam massala in a dish of 1-pound raw dhal (lentils)! Every Indian or anyone who has Indian culture in their makeup will laugh at this scene and shake their heads. Or when the hero, Indian-American who is totally clueless, goes to the Indian shop and asks for N-ayyy-n (when it is pronounced N-aahh-n). Or the shopkeeper who is trying to pass the barcode twice to have the customer pay more and the old auntie notices and starts whacking the shopkeeper with her mojri (flat, bejewelled sandals).

Where is that in my writing? Sadly, it's gone. I took the advice I was given and tried to streamline. I was 'scared' by the prospect that every one of my books would sound the same if I had overbearing and nagging old aunties in them. But you know what? Overbearing nagging old aunties is what maketh a big part of the world I know. I recently lost an aunt, and with her I thought we'd lost a whole generation of nagging, question-asking type. But lo and behold - her daughters and daughters-in-law are stepping in as the new wave of nagging, question-asking and overbearing aunties! Which means these type of old ladies will always be a feature and a fixture of Indian culture.

You may ask why I always mention culture and never religion. That's because, to me, religion is between you and whoever/whatever you choose to believe in. And culture is a way of life. A Muslim in India, while praying exactly the same way, will not live and experience the same kind of setup and setting as a Muslim in the countries of the Maghreb or other American Muslims. But a Muslim in Mauritius, a Hindu in India, a Sikh in England, a Marathi in Singapore, a Tamil in Australia, a Jain in America - all of them have one thing in common, and that's the Indian culture and way of life. Complete with nagging, overbearing and question-type aunties! That's what I write about, and if it never sells, well, it is what I write about, in the context of today's modern Mauritian society, a land that is about 300 years old and only stood on its own two feet 42 years ago.

So there you go - my writing as Aasiyah Qamar. Mind you, I'll still write as Nolwynn, but now I'm out to have some fun too. Starting with, you know what, overbearing, naggin-- I'll stop before I get overbearing!

From now till later, Cheers!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It did hit the fan...

...yeah, you know 'what', I won't spell it out.

3 weeks of flux, moves, changes, and yes too, hurt. By now most of you will know that around March 26 I resigned from my position as senior editor for the main line at Eirelander Publishing. What prompted this? It was a part of the flux. I was getting sucked into a sort of sandpit and just couldn't keep my head above at breathable level. Remember the issues with my oil and water and the whole breakdown thing? While all these were formenting in the background (they would've blown in my face sooner or later), well, let's just say sometimes a catalyst comes along. In my case, the catalyst was how I was living my life.

I was busy. Too busy actually. I wanted to be everything, and another thing that 'kills' with me is my desire to help. Need a hand with anything, just ask Z, because she'll never say no. In that respect, I think I take after my dad. Before retiring, he was a career nurse. People were always coming to him for help with medical stuff, or if relatives were admitted to hospital, he knew everyone it seemed and got all the info for everyone.

What I also recall is - for all my dad helped people, to me it didn't seem like he was helping us. Maybe I was selfish, but we'd see him receive a call at 1 in the morning, on one of those rare nights when he wasn't on duty, and a short while later he'd be getting into the car of some relative who needed his 'help' with some hospital matter. He'd usually start duty while still helping that relative, and we wouldn't see him until close to 24 hours later. I grew up knowing my father was almost never at home, and I treasured those moments we did have together. I also knew, and this burnt, that we never heard from these said relatives when none of theirs was in need of my dad's 'help'. But that was the man he was, still is, btw. Ask for his help and he'll never say no. Today as a grown up, I realise that's a wonderful trait of his, but as a kid, I resented it.

And now I was turning into him too. I 'helped' everyone but wasn't there for those who mattered. I 'lived' in my house, but my husband was just the man I was married to, not the one with whom I shared all my woes, dreams, issues, nonsense, like in the past, like not so long ago actually. My son was growing up but sadly, I didn't really know him and the little man he was growing into. And he too knew his mom as 'the woman who was always at her computer and always busy with work'. I never read anythin from my TBR pile; I watched movies with the hubs because otherwise he'd pitch a fit because we never seemed to share time together; on some days lunch consisted of wolfing a protein shake on the way down the stairs to pick kiddo from school, at quarter to 3 in the afternoon; sleep was after working on the PC online in the evening, working on the laptop at night, and working on the PDA phone in bed just before going to sleep around midnight or 1 AM. And in the morning it'd start again at 8.30 AM at the PC to check email before switching to the laptop to work until quarter to 3 when I'd dunk a shake and go pick the kid, to come back again online an hour later.

The fact was, I no longer had any time. I'm very much a perfectionist - when I do something, especially for others, I want it to be perfect to the dot. Without realizing, I will be sucked into the venture and helping out in any way I can. Now if I had no life, that would be great. But that wasn't the case. I was me, I was a wife, I was a mom, and I was a writer.

It came down to a choice - who did I want to be? Strangely, this scene from the movie Cocktail jumped at me - you know where Tom Cruise is eating reheated pizza and doing his assignment where the teacher asked them to write their own obituary. What would my obituary look like if I died today? What would it look like if I continued along the same path I was on? What did I actually want my obituary to say about me?

Certainly not that everyone loved me because I helped at the drop of a hat but the people who mattered said I was there in body but never in spirit and heart. Did I want my husband to ask, why did I stay with her? Did I want my son to tell his kids, my mom never had time for me coz she was always working?

And the writing - let's talk about it. Nothing there. Dry as dust. Forced. Stilted. The problem was - I had no time. Writing was akin to a chore, that I had to fit in with as much gusto as a trip around the house with the hoover in tow (hoover trip that I have to fit in this week, btw, ack!).

I had to face it - I was a writer! Wife and mom and daughter too, yes, but most of all, I was a writer. Not anything else. The choice - writer or everything else work-wise.

Every writer will know and reckon that writing is not a hobby. It's work, it's a job. It takes time, investment, dedication, heart. It takes all your brain and all your soul too.

So the choice came down to - I am a writer. Period. Which meant that while I loved to edit and help authors, that task wasn't me and what I was cut out to do. In a choice between editting and writing, I chose writing, and in the same go, I chose to be a not non-existent wife and mother.

Sadly, not everyone understood my stand. I faced some scathing remarks, some attacks on my person. It was never my intention to let anyone down, but that's how it was construed by some. Thank goodness the people I relied on and cared about rallied around me and I realised how blessed I was to know such amazing ladies. They all 'got it', and hugged and listened and cheered me up.

It hurt me that in a few instances, I saw the real face of some people whom I considered friends. But like every hurdle teaches you, it's in tough times that you realize the real truth, that you see reality for what it is.

But I am moving forward. I quit a job, a prestigious position, and though some would feel like they should regret their lives for such a 'rash' decision, I don't regret it. I'm sad it had to come to this, but I am who I am and the reality is such that I couldn't keep going the way I was. In the process, there are some indelible marks upon my heart now, but this is how we learn, innit?

My goal now? Be the writer I was meant to be all along. I took a detour along the way maybe, but I'm back in stride now. In my personal life, I am getting to know my son better. I am hearing his laughter everyday, a sad fact to mention was that while I was 'working', this 6-going-on-7-going-on-30 little man wasn't laughing anymore. I am getting better acquainted with my husband too, letting the two of us realize why we had chosen to be together for the rest of our lives in the first place (amid some china breaking, of course, but that's us, hot-tempered Indian-origin folks!).

So I am writing, and hopefully, I will have an update for you shortly. I'm thinking of revamping the blog a little too, with some posts of cross-links to life, love, relationship articles I come across on the Net. Sort of like making my Perception Tunnel sub-heading in the weekly post a weekly or bi-weekly happening on here.

All revved up - yes, my mojo is back! I am back too, and let's hope that I won't lose myself anymore!

Thanks to all who stand by me and who in any way, small or big, have touched my life with their presence, words, hugs, and friendship in the past few weeks.

Don't forget:

Live. Laugh. Love!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Aftermath beckons...

Note to writer self - in the aftermath of a black moment, your heroine should be feeling completely silly and stupid. Why? Because that's how I'm feeling now.

I did go through a black moment over the weekend, culminating in the tears and unleashing on the blog yesterday. I cannot pinpoint exactly what led it on - it was one thing built upon another and another and another, and before you know it, you are overwhelmed and fraying at all the edges.

You know the BFF in every chick-lit story? I'm lucky to have one too. She lives thousands of miles away from me but she is always there. She sat me down and had a talk with me yesterday. Her words: life happens, deal with it.

Sounds harsh? Maybe, but she was right. Life isn't gonna go away no matter how much you stick your head in the sand and wait for it to 'pass'. And if it does pass, it's waiting for you around another corner.

That's what I had done, and the past few days were one such corner waiting for me to slam in it. I won't recoil from saying that the issues involved were actually people. The people in my life, those who make me whole when I bring them together and place them as the foundation of my existence. But that's a tricky thing - family. It's oil and water and pepper and salt and sugar and slices of lemon. On a good say, you stir and shake and end up with palatable vinaigrette. On other days, you stir and shake all you want and all you end up doing is making your arm hurt when nothing is mixing. That's when you have to realize - will this mix turn into a salad dressing or not?

In this latter case, it was a not. Actually, it was a not for a long time, I just refused to see it because it was easy to just keep on stirring and shaking when the oil and water were starting to separate. And then you get old and your arm muscles are no longer so strong and you grow tired and get aches and pains. Short of becoming addicted to painkillers, you have no way of keeping on stirring and shaking so everything will keep sticking into a salad dressing.

Strange side note - I am not a foodie, not even an enthusiastic cook. Yet using cooking examples come easy to me. Go figure.

Back to that example - translated to real life, the growing old part for me was actually about growing up. I had (hopefully) acquired the maturity necessary to look at things and know that oil and water will never mix and that I cannot keep hiding in the sand. If this were my heroine, this is the basis I would've given her to get on with her life and move to find her own happiness in her arc. So if I knew all that, why wasn't I doing it? Because writing is fictional, and real life isn't. In your writing, the sh*t may hit the fan but over your plot progression the mess miraculously disappears. Not so much in real life.

That was my dilemma - I had to do this, separate the oil from the water though I couldn't cut either from my life. Face it - we need Essential Fatty Acids and H2O to survive! That was me in a nutshell. Had to scrape off the salad dressing and figure how I could get both so I'd still be healthy yet without the hassle of having to make said dressing. Yeah, I may not be making much sense right now, I know that (beauty of blogging!).

It was hard to do. It nearly killed me. But like every writer knows, a character arc cannot progress if issues aren't adressed and there'll be no hope of HFN let alone HEA. So I did it - separated my oil from water.

And guess what? We're all still alive and kicking. Yes, there was a lot of hurt on the spot, but my mistake? I never gave the people involved enough credit to believe that they'd all hold on tall and strong without me to act as a supporting pillar in the display.

I don't know what consequences this move will have in the long term. If it's bad and the people are hiding it, it breaks my heart but sadly, I can't do anything about that. I tried, and look where it had gotten me. I know now that I may approach a corner and not be afraid of slamming into this particular issue. I know my arm need not hurt anymore from trying to stir and shake an impossible mix.

How do I feel? I'm still numb, I guess. Beneath this particular issue sat a few others, little ones that appear of no consequence but accumulate to something substantial when put together. We're working on them. My water (and I guess by now you know who I'm talking about here) and I are trying to figure out where the waves are coming from and what is triggering such tsunamis on the calm surface of our life together. My oil, well, is trickling along as usual. I just hope I haven't hurt them badly and that God will forgive me if I have. And my little dose of sugar was the sweetest of the lot, of course - yesterday he saw me crying and he came up, hugged me, and said, "can't you go to one of those places where they do massages and put that icky goop on your face and all that?" Yes, in his own little guy words, he was telling me to take a break and go to a spa! I think he'll know how to speak to girls later (yikes!). I told you, didn't I - we don't credit our people with enough good sense.

Yesterday I had a breakdown, a meltdown, and a black moment all rolled into one. I agreed I needed to move forward, and I took the plunge. Strangely, like my heroines, I didn't drown. I just emerged up and out as good-looking as a drowned rat, but you know what? It means I did come out.

I'm not seeing the light just yet, but I know it's there. Up to me now to cut through the brambles of thorns to be able to see the brilliant sky.

And yes too - as soon as my paycheck clears, I am gonna listen to the sugar's advice and book myself to have all that icky goop plopped on my face!!

Thanks to everyone who have listened and bothered enough to try and talk some sense into me at my black moment. Everyone needs people like you in their lives.

Incidentally, did I mention all this gave me an idea for a story...?

In the meantime, don't forget:

Live. Laugh. Love. I am followingmy advice now.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

This is so not gonna work...

... what an awful blog record! The last time I've been here was about a month ago. I could go the same route - where did the time fly? Yes, true, where did it fly? But at the same time, I know I've slacked. I watch every Friday roll by and then I am so busy I go, promise I'll do it Saturday. Then Saturday rolls by, and life is shaking me around like a rag doll.

That's how I feel on most days lately. Like everything is shaking up around me and I can't do a thing about it. You could say that's an easy excuse out, but I have nothing else to propose as reason. Everyday is like a rollercoaster and a struggle fit into one...

Most of you people know me as a chirpy, carefree, easygoing girl. But that's not who I am. Not really. It's a facet of me, the one I take on to face the world. I'm not sure anyone really knows me. People look at me and see wat they want to see. Now if you people are good at reading between the lines, you may have read me like an open book.

Who am I? Writer, editor, mother, wife, daughter, woman. Sum total of me? I don't know.

Why am I getting so heavy this time around, and the post is not even a weeks' type roundup I usually do. The reason could be that change is inevitable.

Around this same week 5 years ago, my life changed completely. I had been married for 3 years, mom of a 22-month old toddler. I'd just turned 22 years old. And I was a complete spoilt brat. March 14 marked the start of a turnng point - while showering I felt a hard lump in my breast. Strangely, I didn't panic. I called doctors, went for a mammogram, booked myself into a clinic to have the thing removed on the 17th. Was I living in a bubble? Maybe. It would burst on March 22 (yeah, that number again. Hadn't realised it was so prominent in there!). On that day the pathology report came back - the lump was malignant and spreading fast. Yes, it meant the word: cancer.

I had received the news in my parents' living room. The doctor in question was my cousin who apparently didn't think of patient confidentiality and just announced to the world, before I'd even heard it, that I needed to have surgery and chemo and all the hoop-la. No, I haven't forgiven him, and never went back to see him ever since. My husband said he'd take me home. I said no. I didn't want to be in the bubble of a car interior. I just stepped out and walked back home, 3 blocks away. The 10 min walk turned into a 20 minute stroll. I was still in pain from the first surgery, still had its gigantic dressing on my left side and its stitches itching and burning me. But in that moment I felt nothing. I stepped on the road, and I listened to traffic, people, felt the air on my face... I didn't talk for the whole day, I remember. The one thing I also clearly recall doing when I got home was that I sat down and prayed.

And then I decided to write. I had been toying with a story, one of those literary types that analyses every detail and can put a teacup on a pedestal so much it was heavy and symbolic and yes, boring. I remember writing on the eve of my surgery, because I couldn't sleep. I remember writing on the eve of every chemo session, because I again couldn't sleep.

And I remember growing up in that 20 minute walk. I remember becoming a writer consciously on that day.

A few weeks later I would meet a woman who would change my life again. Her name was TJ Killian. A confirmed author, she became a CP, a friend, a mentor. I remember she asked me - where do you want to be in 5 years?

5 years have gone by. Am I where I wanted to be? In a way, yes. I'm a writer, I'm published, people are starting to recognize my work. Strangely, it is Nolwynn Ardennes, born just 2 years ago, who is getting more prominence than the 5-year-old Aasiyah Qamar who was born back then.

I am starting to ask myself whether every 5 years is a lapse that prompts you to take stock of your life and reassess your priorities. I am asking myself questions.

Like why did I think of getting a degree? Seems like 8 years ago when I took on that program, it was more because it was what everyone was expecting of me. A good student my whole life, why did I 'cop out' and get married and have kids when I could've had a bright future before me? Sadly, I bought that crap and now that I'm one semester away from completing this darn degree, I cannot cop out and give up. I've invested too much, not just financially but emotionally and time-wise in there to give it up now. Sad, I know...

On some days I regret other decisions I made in my life. If I'm not regretting, I am second guessing. And yeah, that's personal. I'll never regret writing - that has become my life in a nutshell.

What I'm getting at is that - I may be a writer as you people know me, but I am also a person. And that comes with a whole load of sh*t. No other way of saying it. Why haven't I blogged? Because life has a way of catching up with me and twisting me around. Yes, it's a life I chose,  but had I known, would I have chosen it? I am not so sure. Lately I am feeling completely washed out, tired, and in over my head. I feel as if I've lost myself in there... for you see, one thing I hate is conflict. I prefer to dodge issues rather than address them head on because that'd be a further stress I completely don't need on top of everything else.You could say life dealt me a dodgy hand of cards and now I gotta play it. Tough but you gotta bite that bullet... Well, on some days, that gets a bit too much for me.

In the past weekend, I haven't gotten anything done. I've sat down, walked around, lost sleep over where I am at in my life. I've even asked myself if I was having a depression, a break down, a melt down, whatever.

One conclusion I  have reached is that while I may not want to disappoint everyone, I can't please everyone at the same time. I have to pick and choose my priorities, pick and choose my battles, and get over the crap. Would it make a difference if I said at some points, I've wondered if it weren't all crap that I'm living?

Might sound pathetic but in the past week I've received 2 reviews for my book Storms in a Shot Glass. 2 women, total strangers to me, who have enjoyed the story and told the world about it. Would it be strange to admit that this was what gave me a sense of validation? That this support was what kept me going?

Yes, I know - that's sad. I'm sure I've scared a lot of people today, and no, I'm not thinking of ending it! Not my life, not my writing, not my relatonships, and not this blog (lol there, for I wonder if aside from a few dedicated regulars who read my rambles more out of loyalty and friendship than because I have something to say, people don't really give a hoot about what I have to say).

But no, I'm not giving up. I'm just realizing that I need to give a new direction to my life. Face things head on instead of trying to smooth everything and please everyone and in the end hurt myself in the process. Strange - last year I wrote one such woman in a story, and it never dawned on me that she was me in a very big  part...

Change... welcome it, trash it, dodge it? It's here whether we like it or not. I may not like it, but I have to accept it in order to be whole again.Yes, it's 'that' time again...

5 years ago I grew up, but I guess I didn't grow up enough. I still have a lot of work to do in that light, especially now. This morning I cried after I dunno how long, and I think the tears cleansed and enabled me to move forward, even if that forward is a bramble of thorns. Are there a few roses in it? Very few and far between, I'll admit... Some things I'll need to do will break my heart, others will be relief after the initial storm. All of them will redefine life as I've known it so far. I'm scared, and I'm torn, yes. I don't want to be in my shoes... Funny in a twisted way, innit? If this were one of my heroines, I'd have her path all plotted out. But this is real life, sadly, and is there such a thing as HEA?

So if you're still around after reading this, I'll see you soon. And yes, not just every Friday (that I dodge and escape!). I am hauling a lot of stuff, but one thing I cannot give up on is my writing and the connection that gives me to the world. To you people.

Thanks for listening, and the ones who are there - thanks for being there.

And in the meantime, don't forget;

Live. Laugh. Love.

Yes too, I'm gonna take my own advice!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Weeks 12, 13, 14

Hey everyone!

Arghh again! 3 weeks! 3 full, long, awful weeks?? You gotta be kidding me! Where did the time fly? And what on earth has happened in those 3 weeks? Uh, nothing...?

Crikey, what am I gonna do with my life? Oh, idea - to see what's happened, check the Twitter feed on the right of the page. I try and update that one everyday, so at least there's that. Might prove to be a fit reminder for myself as to what's taken place lately.

But to be truthful, I know what took place. I wrote, and wrote, and wrote... and hit an iceberg the size of the Titanic-buster. That's gotten me completely off track. So in between writing and not writing, I've kinda been lost. Strange, wouldn't you say? I'd reply that this is what a deadline does to you. More on this bit in Perception Tunnel.

Otherwise, what else has been happening?

- Kid on the Block
Is being his usual cheeky *big* little self. Someone please tell me - do kids have growth spurts every other month or something? Every time I look at my son it seems to me he's either taller or more bulked up. Yeah, that's right - he bulks up. Nearly 7 years of age, the top of his head touches my shoulder, which makes him close to 5 feet tall already, and when you'd expect him to be a lean, string-bean kind of guy, he's bulky! The works-out-type too! Don't laugh, it's true! He's active in sports at school. Man, if he keeps that up, I may be ending up fending girls off my front door in a few years!
And oh yeah too - he sure is growing up too. Gave him a haircut the other day (yups, I cut his hair, and hubby's too. Saves us like 500 bucks every 6 weeks coz that's how fast they outgrow a cut!). So it's hot here, and I give him a short cut (not buzz, slightly longer, but it nearly dries up with one energetic rub of the towel). Guess what - he's not at all happy! Reason? He wants hair like Anakin in The Revenge of the Sith(yeah, Hayden Christensen, and that's actually long hair! See here, right.). He's not at all happy that his hair looks just like his dad's, coz even though they got literally the same kind of head, dad's got a widow's peak that makes his hair 'cool'. Go figure... and we thought girls were the divas!

- WIPed out
You know what - I'm not touting my horn here - but on the weekend of January 30 to February 1, I actually sat down and wrote over 20K to my WIP. That was like 5 chapters. I saw the story move forward in ways I hadn't imagined, and it was soooo flowing. Really thought I could've made my personal deadline of February 5 on it.
But here we are today and I've got like 4 chapters left to add on it. So yes, it's not near finished yet. What does that mean? I'm a failure as a writer? Maybe. That I'm human? Definitely so. Being wiped out happens, and we writers should really try to prevent this from even being to close to happening. But most often than not, we don't listen to our body, to our gut, that's telling us to slow down. We rush and rush and then we hit the wall nose first!
So where am I standing today? I'm at the black moment. The last time I wrote a word on this WIP was last Wednesday (not the 17th, the 10th actually!). I purposefully took myself off the story to allow it to come back. It's a bit of that strange love 'wisdom' thing - if you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it meant it was supposed to be with you. Or something like that, you get my drift.
Did this with the WIP, even getting acquainted with the idea that maybe I'd have to let my editor know I wouldn't be able to hand this to her. Yeah, I did consider that option. Made my peace with it, if you want, and let it all go. Thankfully the strategy worked. The scenes have clinked again, and my personal writing Titanic repaired her iceberg-torn hole herself. I've not started writing again yet, but I'm going there soon. Wish me luck (just don't ask me to break a wrist!)

- Perception Tunnel
So yes - a deadline. Never really worked with one before. Of course, I've had them for projects, assignments, portfolios, freelance writing briefs, that sort of thing. On a story, nope. Never a 'hard' one imposed by your editor or your pub house. I've always worked within my own own bubble and sked, and this time it was different.
The thing is - life happens. And along with it comes things that do crowd your mind and put you in an unfavourable writing mindset. Not to mention the fact that when you're sorta forcing something to come out, well at one point, you're left with no juice to squeeze. What happens when you find yourself in this boat and you have a deadline on your head? A whole lot of grief and angst. You go through phases - shivering withdrawal-like phase where you keep thinking all paranoid, my editor is gonna kill me! Then comes the angst with all its fiery passion - why can't I do this, dammit??? Then you force it - bl**dy computer, you better inspire me asd I sit before your blank screen. After that you break some china, the geatting-to-grips phase as I call it. Lastly, you're in a zen mindstate - face it, you cannot force it and what has to happen will happen. You free your mind, you brace yourself to face the consequences, and wham! Before you know it, you've been through the trial by fire and you're 'cleansed'. The block, like an opaque veil, lifts and you start seeing your story clearly, really catch the forest for the trees.
An act of faith...? I'm not judging on that!

- Back to the domestic goddess
In between breaking my china (don't worry, it was the chipped and to-be-discarded ones. Not the wedding porcelain!), I did spend quite some time in the kitchen lately. Yeah, that's how bad this block was. I've made liver pate, that's actually tasted good! Swapped the mould for a muffin tin, and ended up with these little patty-like pates. Really easy to wrap and freeze up and control portions. I've baked a coconut-flavoured cake that's reminded me of a cake sold in a now-closed bakery, that I used to buy some twenty years ago (yikes, my memories are getting that old, meaning I'm getting old too!). I've made lima bean curry and chapattis. I've made paella in the pressure cooker. But this is the one I'll be sharing with you -
Chicken Basquaise

1 full chicken, cut into small pieces (you can use other cuts too, like 4-5 thighs, depending on what you prefer)
1 can tomatoes
2 bell peppers (I use green and red, for colour)
2-3 shallots
2 spoonsful oil
4-5 spoonsful flour
1 cup chicken stock (or water, if you don't have any stock on hand)
Salt and pepper

Peel and chop shallots. Cut, clean, and dice peppers.
Season chicken with salt and pepper and cover with flour.
In a deep pan or casserole, heat oil and brown chicken pieces. Add shallots, peppers, and the can of tomatoes. Stir. Bring to boil.
Reduce heat slightly, add stock and stir until the liquid thickens. Bring to simmering, cover, and let simmer for 15-20 mins.
Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley and a side of steamed white rice.

- Reading Log
Thanks to the block, I had to take my mind away from the chaos of the WIP. Consequently got some reading material and browsed through it. The one I literally devoured was The Mephisto Club by Tess Gerritsen. Not my usual type of reading - I'd checked The Surgeon and The Apprentice before and they'd reminded me of CSI episodes on paper. Back then I didn't think I could enjoy this kind of drama on paper (coz I love it on TV. And no, the sights do not repulse me at all!). But thanks to the lack of good romance books out there right now, ones that don't take you for an utter idiot or worse, ones that mistake readers for lobotomy survivors, I turned to the 'dark' shelves at the library to find stuff to read. Thing is, hubby's getting into books too lately, and I usually end up picking up his reading stuff. He's into the 'dark' stuff and half the time I was choosing for him, I found myself going, oh I'd watch this if it were a movie!
So I took the bet on Ms. Gerritsen's work, as much for the book as for the respect I have for her (I had once read that some readers were giving her grief because she'd started out writing romance for Harlequin, and later became known for her gritty mysteries. Apparently, in some twisted logic, that's she'd written romance once meant she'd 'sold out' on the mystery readers! Gimme a break! That's exactly what I told her in an email I shot to her, so much I was incensed by the pointless grief they were giving her. Completely thought I'd shot a stone in water, you know. Well, less than 48 hours later, Ms. Gerritsen had replied my email and when I was reading it, it was obvious to me she had not only read my note but was replying to everything I had said in it! Lol, you can tell me someone else could've penned that, an assistant maybe, but I liked that she'd replied and that she showed consideration for her fans and for people who got in touch with her. She was human, approachable, and that she's so successful didn't seem to have gone to her head. And yeah too, she doesn't seem to take her readers for lobotomy survivors!)
So about this book - you may or may not be familiar with Ms. Gerritsen's duo of female protagonists: Detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles. This duo have been at the heart of many of this author's mysteries, and they're like one of those on-screen duos you just root for from the minute they appear in front of you. They've battled criminals, twisted minds, serial killers. And in The Mephisto Club, they're battling an ancient evil so scary it's literally got you holding the book with one hand and biting your cuticles of the other hand! The writing flows, the descriptions are vivid, and the characters are alive. The evil guy in there, oh my God! You don't wanna encounter someone like that even in your nightmares! But there's also the human factor, like the fact tough cop Rizzoli is having to play referee between... her mom and dad who are on the point of splitting up coz the dad has shacked up with a tart! Tell me if that ain't a slice of 'normal' life!
Go get that book if you're into mysteries and just want to read a good story! Ms. Gerritsen does not disappoint! She walks the fine line between believing in the mystical and the rational side of science and law enforcement, and before you know it, you too are on that fence, right there with Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles!

- Hottie Alert
No pics today because I posted a rather chunky one yesterday at Pop Culture Divas. Check it out, the link is right down here in Promo Maven.

- Promo Maven
I've done a few chats these past few weeks, on Yahoo loops. You'd need to be a member there so that's why I'm not listing them here.
But do check this slightly OT post of yesterday at Pop Culture Divas - New Shoes: Casting Director.. or so I wish... It's about an aspect of writing *wink*

Until next Friday, cheers!!

And don't forget:

Live. Laugh. Love. XOXO

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Week 11

Hi everyone

I'm really sorry I didn't get to post on Friday. Without me realising the week had flown by and then I found myself (still do, btw) with an uncooperating Internet access. Add to it that in between writing on the WIP and with its looming deadline ahead, I was also chatting in Promo this week - daytime for the US readers and loop owners equals late evening for me. I was knackered senseless for most of the evenings and dragging the sleep deprivation all around during the days that followed!

So, here's a fast and furious recap of the past week for me on all fronts:

- Kid on the Block
 At a few months to turn seven, kiddo still had all his milk teeth and there wasn't a hint that any was loosening and about to fall any time soon. I was like, okay - when the permanent teeth will cut they'll dislodge the milk ones and all will be well.
Wrong! Brushing his teeth on Wednesday, what is it I see? Yup, it's a tooth, and it's cutting behind the milk teeth row! *gasp*
No way around it - the milk teeth will have to be removed to allow the permanent one to grow in as it should. And here comes the nightmare - have to take kiddo to the dentist! I get an appointment for Saturday 10 am, and in the time leading up to said appointment, I was living off worry and bitten cuticles!
But, thank goodness, all turned out well. Kiddo asked a lot of questions - Will it hurt? Will there be injections? What's she gonna do?
To which we answered as best as we could. And turns out we were right to do so. Seems like with the fear factor lifted from the whole episode - we were frank with him (yeah, the needle prick will hurt but I don't think it's gonna be worse than being hurt by a small chicken bone poking your gums!), kiddo went in like a big guy. Not one tear. Not one scream, even if he did tense up so much he looked 2 inches taller!
All in all, I was worried for nothing but gosh, did that wear me out!

- WIPed out
I had to make Willow shut up or she'd have taken the whole post for herself. She's ecstatic, btw. Why? Because I am writing! I have instilled the WIP Tuesday and Thursday evenings - nothing but the WIP on those nights, and so far it's working. Added close to 10K on the rewrite of WIP in question, and late on Friday I found the 'aha!' factor I needed to give my heroine's arc the proper direction and dimension it's needed. So far seems like all's falling into place nicely - keeping fingers crossed it remains this way all through. My deadline on this is February 5. I've reached a quarter of the full story right now. I'm also finding my feet in the whole ramped-up sexual tension in the book. Man, I've never had a H/h so intensely attracted to one another before and this is really an eye-opening experience for me to put through!
Oh yeah, ladies - the bloke in question has a devilish-looking tattoo on his right bicep all the way from his elbow to his collarbone. Talk of the bad boy you should never bring home to mom and dad. And now picture this - heroine's never done anything that's not in the parents' good book of girl behaviour. Dilemma, dilemma!

- Perception Tunnel
Fellow writer and CP Chicki Brown awarded me the Happy Award on Wednesday. I now have to post the Ten Things That Make Me Happy, and bestow the award upon 3 other people. Here we go with my list:
1. Hearing my son's laughter.
2. Being in the embrace of my husband.
3. A hug by a loved one.
4. Seeing people around me happy and knowing I may have had a hand in that!
5. Chocolate cake.
6. Waking up beyond 7 am and without an alarm blaring me awake.
7. Not having to cook and still getting a meal.
8. Writing and finding it all falling into place.
9. Seeing people enjoying my books.
10. Going to sleep knowing I accomplished all I'd set out to do during the day.
I am now bestowing this award on
Sandra K. Marshall
Carole Gill
GE Stills

- Reading Log
Indulged in my preferred junk food for the mind - Harlequin 3-book collection. It was about 'bought' brides. Oh well. I only finished one of the books, more for the writer's voice and prose than for the story itself. The other 2 in the compilation? Not exactly worth it. One I skimmed to the ending just to know what happened, the other I didn't even bother getting past Chapter 1 because it was terribly telegraphed and I hated the heroine! Oh well... Sigh.
Where are the good books?????

- Promo Maven
Last week I chatted a lot - been at Love Romances Book Club on Wednesday (its Yahoo loop) and yesterday I was at Love Romances Cafe (again the Yahoo loop), this time with a few other Eirelander authors.
On Wednesday too, I penned my every-other-monthly post for the Pop Culture Divas, on Kids' pop culture today. Come see some Mommy woe there!
I just got notified that I'm up in the spotlight at fellow author Rae Lori's blog, A Writer's Dream, all the way from now to mid-February. Drop by and check out the thought-provoking questions Rae put me through in her interview.

So that's it from me this week. Sorry, no hottie this time around. I didn't have time to look at any hottie these past few days (I know, it's a shame, innit?).
Other tidbit of good news - seems Storms in a Shot Glass is doing quite well in its sales ratings! Yay!!

Until next Friday, cheers!!

And don't forget:

Live. Laugh. Love. XOXO

Friday, January 15, 2010

Week 10

Big hello to everyone! Feels so good to be back - kinda normal to be blogging, you know?

I wasn't gonna have pics up this week but changed my mind at the hottie section! Come on - girls gotta have some lightness in their world, innit? Especially when you know that I've been in over my head, with... Promo! Yup yup, the wonderful world that's the other side of writing!

Mind you, I'm a social butterfly and love meeting new people, forging acquaintances, letting some develop almost automatically into friendships.
It's just the sheer amount of being in all places at all times that's totally exhausting! Yahoo loops, blog interviews, chat rooms - surge of energy when it's taking place but there comes a time when all you wanna do is crash and burn!

So what have I been up to promo wise this week? Check out Promo Maven for the links.

So yes too - Storms in a Shot Glass is out, and it doesn't seem to be doing too bad out there! In between friends who have been pimping the book and only letting me know they intended to do so after their post was up (thanks and wink to Chicki Brown & Bella McFarland!!), I also came across two very nice reviews of the book.

"...Storms in a Shotglass was a story chocked full of sweetness, love, passion and interesting developments. Everyone one even the older generation could learn a little in this book. Nolwynn Ardennes is a wonder to discover for me as a reviewer and reader. I, for one, will be keeping my eye out for any further books by Ms. Ardennes."

This is the gist of what Deb @ Dark Diva Reviews had to say in her fabulous review!

And this comes from fellow author and friend Rae Lori who had a chance to read the book when it was still in its galley form:

"...'Storms' not only centers on Jane Smithers and Michael Rinaldi but also the people that surround their lives. It's as much a contemporary romance as it is a story about coming into responsibility, finding love and forgiving and learning to love our families (parents) despite their flaws and past..."

Click the links to read more!

There you have it - my promo week in a nutshell, but lol, that's just the author's shoes! Here's some more as to what happened!

- Kid on the Block
... went back to school after a 10 week summer break that nearly drove me over the edge and nearly sent him skyrocketing with frustration at being 'at home' for too long. Seriously, what do those schools think - 10 weeks of break? Come on, I know they need a reprieve? Oh wait - I know! Make the kids so bored at home that they'll wish for school to start! Not a bad strategy, except that its us poor moms who may become addicted too too many soap operas or reruns of our favourite hunk's movies just to be able to take the edge off of having a kid 24/7 with you! And no, we don't have summer camp in Mauritius... Sigh.
Anywayz, kiddo is now in Grade 2, and boy has he grown up! Mommy moment here - they grow way too fast... But, he's out of my hair for close to 7 hours a day! Label me a bad mom if you want but this is bliss! Also happens that when he comes home, he just gets inundated with kisses and hugs and lots of sweet-sounding stuff like pumpkin, sweetie, and other French nonsense that I just invented in our baby-cooing days. Okay, I'm off this part before you all die of TMI Mommy episodes!

- WIPed out
Didn't manage to put finger to keyboard this week but that didn't mean the brain wasn't working! Kid-free time meant I could focus on story twists instead of Mommy this and Mommy that every 5 seconds! I've thus mapped out the first 3 parts of my sci-fi and have gotten a better grasp on my fantahistorical. Not allowing myself to think of other stories right now because these two are the to-be-absolutely-written in 2010 projects! So far, so good. Next week I'm ramping up the actual writing though, with rewrites on the ms to Neha's story, Book 3 of the Hemant sister series.

- Perception Tunnel
2010 is supposed to be my last year at uni. Yup, been trudging that degree along for the past 7 years, even if I did have to take 1.5 years off due to health issues. Nevertheless, uni bureaucracy expects that since you registered in 2002, you have 8 years to complete said degree so 2010 is your make or break year. I have 5 more modules to go, on the 30 required to make this communications science degree. And man, they don't say uni final year for nothing! I just registered for semester 1 and got my books in, and the sheer amount of work to be done! Wowzers! I even have a portfolio that I'll have to work for a local school- an integrated comms campaign for them! Thank goodness that when I approached the people at kiddo's school, they were more than willing to help! Lol, in a way, why wouldn't they be happy? Hire a comms consultant to plan that campaign for you and shell out a hundred K at least! They'll be getting it for free from me! Oh well, never mind - what's good is that one thing's clear and I have the raw material to start this project.
So there I was yesterday looking at all the deadlines and then checking my diary to find which dates I'd booked promos, and when you know my mind that forgets everything unless a clear memo or alarm is set, guess what I turn to - the new phone that's got a spiffy calendar and PDA-like settings on it.
Start noting down dates and calculating how much time I'll need to allow this project over that one and adding in delays and stuff...
Result? I am booked solid for almost 3.5 months! Yups, you will be hard pressed to find a day on my phone calendar that doesn't have a markup for something before May 5, 2010!
If I didn't have a headache or I wasn't hyperventialting so far, I was when I looked at that!

- Reading Log
A bad thing's happened to me lately - I'm throwing books at the wall after like 25 pages in. Why? Because there just don't seem to be any good stories out there! They're all so cliche you feel you've read it all just by browsing page 1! Then when the blurb doesn't like give you the story till what happens at the next-to-last chapter, you find you've wasted your time reading a dry as dust voice! Or, the read is so all over the place you get mind-motion sickness just by trying to figure out which lead is what in chapters that change between 5-6 leads at every turn!
Where are the good books, people? In despair I turned to the 'old' names, and miracle of all found Julie Garwood. Slow Burn had me captivated, and I read it  over one single day! Yeah, that's how much I was starved for good books!
All this brings me to - traditional print books seem to be highly overrated today. There's nothing new or worthy there - finding a good book at the library is worse than trying to find a needle in a haystack! Which just gets me thinking - epublishing is the way to go! Just at my publisher Eirelander Publishing alone, I stumble upon books that are well-rounded and off the beaten tracks! I want them all actually!
Just as well my phone reads pdf files - I have a feeling you'll be seeing me lots more with the phone and not a physical book in my hands in the future!

- Hottie Alert
In the past 2 weeks I've seen Avatar (yes, finally got to see it!!) and Episodes 1-4 of the Star Wars series. Got 5 and 6 on the DVD rack waiting to be viewed. I wanted to do a lineup of all the hotties in those episodes but since I haven't seen them all yet, I'll wait until I can add my two cents (that you don't probably don't want to hear, lol!) about the whole series.
In the meantime (I know I showcased this hottie last month but he's just too good to pass up on!), here's the total babe from Avatar that has me completely ogling at the moment! Enjoy!

- Promo Maven
Here's where I was in the past week taking Nolwynn and Storms in a Shot Glass out! on January 8 - Melissa and crew at DDR gave me this gorgeous showcase for the book - big thanks to them!

Interview at Books by Pickles on January 11-12 - where Jen (one half of J&J) interviewed me and showcased the book! Oh, the contest there is still going on till January 17 - leave me a comment and you could win a download copy of Storms in a Shot Glass!

There you are - my past week in a (big!) nutshell!

From now till later, cheers!

And don't forget:

Live. Laugh. Love. XOXO

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sneak peek - Storms in a Shot Glass

Doing something a little different today. Why? Because I have this book that is releasing tomorrow.

Yup, the day is finally here - Storms in a Shot Glass is about to come out! I cannot tell you how excited I am about this! I started this story in January itself, two years ago! I spun through loops and twists and holes with the first 3 chapters and then the first chapter, to give up on it 6 months later, focusing my attention on another work. Then at the end of that year, I decided to dust off this WIP and see what I could do about it.

Surprisingly, it all flowed! Sat down in December with a new draft of Chapter 1 and before I knew it, it was January again and I had written all the chapters of this book. The End was there, in bold type, in front of my eyes!

How did I get there? Well, I found the right 'path' this story had to take. Its name? Tabloids! Coming across all the nonsense that tabloids were filling up everywhere in newspaper and magazine stands, on the web, on television - I kept thinking, those poor people being stalked. Lightbulb moment! Why didn't stalk my characters?

That's how I got the direction I needed for Storms in a Shot Glass, and to make it live true to its name, I cooked up even more madness and mayhem in the plot, created a wacky and totally out-of-this-world secondary characters' cast, and then unleashed my main protagonists in this chaos!

The result? This book! Here's some more about it:

Book blurb:

A little bump is about to cause a lot of ripples.

Personal Assistant Jane Smithers needs a baby as much as she needs the immature boss, bitchy mother and lunatic Russian models cohabiting peacelessly around her. What she also doesn’t need is a man who pops out of nowhere, intent on taking over her accidental pregnancy.

Cold logic and hard facts rule the world of millionaire corporate lawyer Michael Rinaldi. Until he meets Jane, and the insignificant-looking woman plunges him head first into the churning waters of tempestuous emotion and hot-blooded impulse.

Unlikely feelings crop up at the same time relentless gossip escalates. Both realize their respective world has irredeemably changed. The question is - will they be able to live with this reality?

Want a little more? Check out this little excerpt:
Connie Burton knew a good thing when she saw one. She had a flair for sniffling scoops, and right now, she had the feeling she had stumbled upon something major.
Huddled in the seat of her beat-up little car on the outskirts of Tabitha’s Cove, she hadn’t missed the sight of Michael Rinaldi with an unknown woman going into the eatery.
So Nitro Mike, as his nickname went, had someone in his life. The man was known to be as explosive and as unpredictable as nitro-glycerine in the world of corporate law. And in his private life, it was rumored he didn’t have blood but liquid nitrogen flowing in his veins. Now, after a drought of many, many months, one of the most eligible bachelors in London appeared to be on the road to being soon a very taken man.
Connie knew scoops didn’t come much bigger than that. Of course, she had also had a feeling about the football player and that Page 3 model even before anyone had a hint of what was going on. She had, however, made the rookie mistake of telling her suspicions to a reporter friend. The bitch had stolen the rumor and reaped the rewards when she had splashed the story on the front page of Viewstand, the tabloid they worked for.
This time around though, Connie wouldn’t make the same mistake. She’d keep this story under wraps until she had all the details and then she would reap the spotlight for her front-page article.
Being the first one to know who the mystery woman in the life of Nitro Mike was would surely be ‘the’ scoop of the year.
From her first glance, Connie knew the woman was rich. Her leather tote screamed French designer label, and her green knit dress was on display at a high-end shop in Knightsbridge just last month. She appeared classy, aloof even, but then again, she probably had to be when dealing with a cold-hearted magnate like Michael Rinaldi.
Right now, Connie was sure this woman, if the world came to know about her, would be the most envied woman in England after those who would land a royal prince.
The question was - who was she?
Visual-inclined? View the trailer!

There you go! Join me as I countdown the hours towards the release of my debut release as Nolwynn Ardennes!

Till then, don't forget:

Live. Laugh. Love. XOXO

Monday, January 4, 2010

Weeks 5,6,7,8 and a half

Hi everyone!

I cannot believe it's been exactly a month since I last posted on the blog! Ashamed of myself...

We're in a new year too, a new decade actually. So many changes, innit? Where did the time fly?

I have a hard time recalling the past few weeks. Most of them were spent being sick as a dog. Ever happened to you that you do something to make you better but it ends up making you worse? Well, that's what happened to me. On the Friday of Week 4, I took a medical test that is supposed to confirm that I am in good health. What no one tells you is that the test has some, let's say, slight side effects - I was knackered senseless and could hardly lift any limb for the two weeks that followed!

So that crosses out Weeks 5 and 6 off the sked. The rest of the weeks? Well, new year hoopla + kids at home + hubby at home because of the holidays = madness! You know my blokes are beach babes, so guess where I was dragged to most of the time? You got that right - the beach! Not to mention that the family got involved and there we were gallivanting around the south of the island like tourists! Gave me a good morsel for an upcoming WIP, more about this down!

So what else has happened? Check out the down sections:

- Kid on the Block...
... became a real smartmouth. Never underestimate the importance of the father figure - little boys will do what the big guy is doing. Case in point - when you watch a romantic movie or any movie with some bits of romance in there, do not have such blokes close. Hubby aka the role model here, will usually make an obnoxious comment that is meant to totally ruin the moment for me (I'm his favourite teasing project, sigh...), and guess what the little blokes do? Right, no need for me to spell it out. The past weeks made for some heavy temper bursts from me. And yes, the blokes all got the just desserts!

- Weepy Willow Woes
In the words of Willow:
She is writing! What more can I want???

- WIPed out
You may be sick as a dog but work goes on, innit? I have an amazing editor who told me to take it easy, but I also knew I couldn't abuse upon her patience with me.
That's how I found myself doing that Angelina Jolie/Bourne meets Wanted meets Casablanca rewrite on Walking on the Edge. Outcome? 2 brand new start chapters that hit the ground running, a stronger and tighter arc for both the heroine and the hero, and a whopping 14.7K added to the ms!
Now, bitten by the writing bug, and seeing 2009 turn into 2010, what else happens to a writer? She wants to write, especially when her muse decided not to go haunt any new years' eve party and hang with her.
That's how I crossed into 2010 writing a new wip that will be kind of my magnum opus for this year. It's a sci-fi (yes, I decoded enough science stuff to get the basics right on this one!) and one that features a somewhat impossible love story that is however written in the stars by a greater power.
Doing research for this story, which I expect will clock in well past the 100K mark, I needed a music theme to take me along. Did some digging, and I came up with this amazing tune by Finnish band Apocalyptica. Check it out - I hope it blows you away just like it did me!
And yeah, I'm 6.7K into that wip already, prologue and chapter 1 written!

- Perception Tunnel
This brings me to my above mention of gallivanting in the south of the island. A place of rugged and wild beauty that seems untouched by civilization. I can almost imagine this is how it was in the 1800s, when Mauritius was just starting to wake under British rule.
In the past 2 weeks, I've been to places I never thought I'd see. Raw and primal looking coastlines with crashing waves. Roads that border a mountain and that sea water laps on the other side. Indigenous forest where I spotted bats and monkeys just the same way I would expect someone in a carriage in 1840 would've seen them. A nature trail that has like 5 waterfalls one more beautiful than the next that would make a dramatic estate for a landowner in 1840.
Which led to - a story idea, which will be my other big project for 2010. A fantahistorical, that takes place circa the year 1842 in Victorian British ruled Mauritius.

So there you have it, what I've been up to in the past few weeks. I'm getting all revved up for the new year, and I hope you'll continue to join me as I trail down the weeks of this new decade!

- Promo Maven
Speaking of which, do you know this week is when Storms in a Shot Glass comes out? Yup, that's for Friday! I'm so excited I cannot stand still!
In light of this release, I've been at some locations in December and presented my 'case' in a somewhat different manner. Check them out:
At Romance Alley, I made Diya of Light My World meet Jane of Storms in a Shot Glass. Girly gossip? Not that much - come find out what these two very unique women spoke about!
And at Sandra Sookoo's blog, during her 12 Days of Christmas event, all the characters of my previous and upcoming releases came together under my roof for dinner. The result? Uh, chaos... Check it out, and find out how very much of a non-hostess I am!

So that's it for my first post of 2010!

Happy New Year to all, and don't forget:

Live. Laugh. Love. XOXO