Archive for February, 2017

Alienate Thyself (01 min read)

Via: Daily Prompt – Center

 

 

Norma instantly made friends when she joined university. It was a first, given that she was generally a reserved person after having dealt with obesity-related body shaming all her life. Her parents had made her go to fat camp after her high school graduation. The program had worked wonders. Norma had yet to get used to her much smaller frame.

The truth was that, up to that point, her entire life had been centered around being overweight. While it was nice to have trendier clothes to choose from, Norma wasn’t sure if her newfound popularity was because university presented a society more susceptible to her quiet intellect or because she was now a size eight.

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The Escape Artist

Via: Daily Prompt – Jiggle

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Image: Zaireen Lupa

Mickey’s spirit was contagious. When he was alive, he would keep our entire household occupied with his antics. Throughout the day, our emotions ran the gamut with admiration, contentment, joy, surprise, vigilance, apprehension, exasperation, submission – all according to how Mickey was behaving at the moment. One thing we never became was bored. Even when he was resting, he would engage our attention by continuously swishing his tail. He had us enthralled.

But oh, boy! did he get into capers! One of the most common scenes in our home was him getting out the balcony or window, his body shimmying through the bars, his bottom jiggling with effort, while we rushed from all sides to grab him before he escaped. “Quick! He’s getting away!” was something every one of us said numerous times a week. He got away every time despite the practice he gave us. He loved the outdoors, our Mickey. And it wasn’t that we wanted to keep him locked in; Mickey just kept getting into scrapes with the neighborhood cats and returning hurt. Mickey was very trusting of others.

The most gullible yet empathetic feline I have ever had the privilege of making acquaintance.

 

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WRITING CHRONICLES #09: Five

Via: Daily Prompt – Arid

Some five years ago, an interview with a college consultant motivated me to start blogging. A brief meeting with him informed me of the budding world of independent publication when he questioned me why I’m letting a delay in studying creative writing keep me from becoming a novelist. He showed me his friend’s WordPress blog and how this friend had set up an enterprise for himself online, already with a few novels published beyond the traditional channel. This consultant had practically chastised me for not taking the initiative on my own and I am so grateful to him. I don’t remember his name or his friend’s blog site, and I wasn’t yet convinced about self-publishing a “book”, but I was ready to start focusing on building a career as a novelist.

So I opened this blog on February 25, 2012, with the hope that having a live audience would shame me into finally finish writing a full novel. In the end, I did sort of self-publish a novel on this site with serialized posts of the chapters. And even though procrastination ensued now and again, and for long periods at a stretch, I so appreciate the habit working on this blog instilled in me. I started the blog with the objective “It’s a site to make sure I write” and it made sure I wrote.

The career path I was on, tough I enjoyed, did not harbor an everlasting appeal for me. Life seemed barren, my dreams left to dry without nourishment. Now? I live, I thrive.

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Image: Vinegar and Brown Paper

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Boo-boo! (01 min read)

Via: Daily Prompt – Baby

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Is there any other baby who warms our hearts as universally as this child? Baby’s Day Out is the stuff classic cinemas are made of. From story to casts to settings, it is one of those synergic movies that never gets boring. Baby Bink and The Villainous Trio take us on a journey where not a moment is spent without entertainment. Is it any wonder that cable TV has been broadcasting it since it came out in the mid-90s?

So I wonder why the heck it has a 5.9 rating on IMDB. I just rated it 10. If you love this movie as much as I obviously do, do stop by and rate it 10 also and let’s see if we can boost it up as it deserves. The link is on the movie title above.

Also… Hello! The kid made the term “boo-boo”, as in pain, into “boo-boo!”, as in a book. Even if it wasn’t for his guileless antics, I was sold. Imma gonna watch it now. Sigh…

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Harangued (03 min read)

Via: Daily Prompt – Slur

“You know you want to,” the sultry voice whispered in her ear.

Alesia quickly averted her eyes from the man seating at table-06 and looked at Sara. One of Sara’s dark eyebrows was arched and she was sporting a smug smile. “Excuse me,” Alesia asked, trying hard not to look like a caught deer.

Sara swung her long faux locs off a bony shoulder before she launched at Alesia. “Girl, I’ve known you for over two years since you took up waitressing here and I have never seen you look at a man the way you are checking out blondie over there. Don’t play dumb now. Act on it.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Alesia turned away and began fidgeting with the bread display on the counter, hoping her coworker would take the hint and return to whatever she had been doing before snooping around.

Sara didn’t take hints very well. “When was the last time you went on a date?”

“Please, God?” Alesia muttered, rolling her eyes heavenward.

“I’m serious. When was the last time you went on a date?”

God clearly was preoccupied today and the woman next to her was relentless. Answering the question might get Sara off her back sooner. “Maybe a couple of months ago.”

“Make that five.”

Alesia turned back to Sara, mouth agape. “What did you do? Mark it on your calendar?”

“I don’t have to. Your dates are so few and far between, they make for pretty memorable ocassions.”

Spotting a diner preparing to leave, Alesia made her way to the back area to collect the cleaning spray and sponge. “Yes, well, bussing tables at the LaGuardia doesn’t really provide one much opportunity for finding dates.”

Sara followed. “I see what you mean. After all, we only get about a thousand men dining at the Bon Voyage Café daily who fall within your age demography.”

“And over 52% of them are not from New York; not to mention married or otherwise unavailable from the rest of the pool,” Alesia threw over her shoulder. “I read our traffic report from last year too.”

“You’re right. That doesn’t leave nearly enough eligible and local men for you to choose from.”

Sarcastic Sara may be but she did score a statistical point. Alesia bounced back to her usual tactic as she straightened her uniform and grabbed the cleaning products before heading back out. “I don’t have time to date.”

“Everybody has time to date,” Sara retorted, dogged as ever.

Alesia turned and began arguing in an earnest whisper. “What do you want? Do you want me to go ask that guy out? Would that get you to stop haranguing me?”

“I don’t harangue but sure,” Sara replied, crossing her arms over her perky breasts with all the dignity of a self-righteous do-gooder friend.

“For how long?”

“A week.”

“A year.”

Sara snorted.

“You’re right. That is too much to hope for from you. How about six months?”

“Two weeks.”

“What? I won’t take anything less than a quarter year.”

Silence.

“Fine, a month. I ask out that guy and you stop badgering me about my dating life for a month. Regardless of whether or not he is available and interested,” Alesia added with last-minute ingenuity.

Sara mulled it over, humming the tune from Jeopardy!

“It’s my life, Sara,” reminded Alesia on an aggravated sigh.

“Okay. I’ll back down for a month. But you’ll have to really give it a shot. Turn on the full charm and no slurred performance.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Alesia made her way around the counter towards the table that recently emptied, buying time as she wondered how best to approach the stranger. He looked very busy as he clicked and typed away at the laptop before him while silently working his way through the café au lait she served him earlier. Yet he really was a beautiful specimen of a man.

“I knew you wanted to.” She heard Sara call after her.

She did. And it had been ages since a man piqued her interest.

This is a discovery excerpt from a book, Fly Me to the Moon (Book #03),  I plan to write as a follow-up to my novel I’ll Be True. Currently, I’m outlining Book #02 of the series, Coming Home to You.

 

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The Schedule (01 min read)

Via: Daily Prompt – Rhythmic

 

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Image: Pixabay

 

 

05:30 – Wake up, freshen up

06:00 – Go for a run at the park

07:15 – Return home and shower

08:00 – Have breakfast, go through the news

09:00 – Sit down to write

12:00 – Prepare lunch

13:30 – Eat lunch while reading or watching movie/TV shows

16:00 – Take writing outside for a walk or a cafe; on Mondays and Thursdays, do the groceries

19:00 – Prepare dinner and eat while reading; on Fridays, meet up with Joan at a location of her choice

21:00 – Write some more

23:00 – Go to bed, read until falling asleep

Rinse and Repeat.

Life is down to a science, a slow dance to the rhythm of humdrum.

Like the thumps of a ball hitting the wall during a steady game of squash.

On Friday, February 24, 2017, at approximately 20:35, Michele will meet Bob at a bar in Soho.

And her walls will fall apart.

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Wednesday Reflections #08 – The Nearly-Weds by Jane Costello

Via: Daily Prompt – Hideout

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Title The Nearly-Weds

Author Jane Costello

Genre Chick Lit, Contemporary Romance

Publisher Simon & Schuster UK

Publication Date July 07, 2009

Format Paperback

ISBN 978-1-84739-088-2

Synopsis: After being jilted at the altar by her boyfriend of seven years, Zoe Moore is on the run from her past. Falling back on her experience in early childhood development, she seeks sanctuary across the pond from Liverpool in Boston to become a live-in nanny for a young family of four with the prospect of even an all-expense-paid summer holiday in the Bermuda. Upon landing in the land of dreams, however, she learns that there has been a change in her arrangements and she now will be looking after two children, aged six and three, in Boston with their widowed father, Ryan Miller. Zoe is an instant hit with the children but warming up to daddy is another ballgame altogether. Unfortunately, the father is the heart-stopping gorgeous kind with the bite of a barracuda. As Zoe navigates a life in a new country with the help of a band of new friends (other British nannies in the affluent neighborhood and their myriad of romantic prospects), she has to also deal with checking her hormones whenever Ryan is around even while fending off his attacks on her competence. It is obvious that Ryan is not coping well with the death of his wife and has spent the past two years boozing, womanizing and becoming exhaustingly efficient at his job as VP of Communications. But when sparks fly between them, it isn’t always amid altercations. Still, sex with the boyfriend is strictly a no-no, not only because of the unprofessionalism but also because he is bad news for a woman already trying to fall out of love with her ex-fiancé. Except, her ex-fiancé Jason doesn’t seem to want to lie low either.

Experience: This novel gave me a lot of mixed feelings. First of all, it took me about 03-04 days to get into the mood for the novel and then again 03-04 days to finish reading it. This happened despite the fact that the chapters are very short (mostly ending below 05 pages) and the writing was quick paced. So what was the problem? The style of Costello’s writing.

Usually, a 419-page Chick Lit of British comedy would take me 02-03 days to complete on regular workdays (I’m a meticulous reader, or in other words, slow). But this novel had me rolling my eyes and sighing with a bit of discontent by chapter 05. Don’t get me wrong. Costello made me laugh quite a lot by this time with the witty self-effacing first-person narration from the single POV of Zoe Moore [who doesn’t like a protagonist with a healthy dose of insecurities, right?], but Zoe Moore thinks and talks in similes to the point of exhaustion.

Even though it is my first time reading her work, I could immediately surmise how pop culture savvy Costello is because the aspect blossomed on every page – nay every paragraph – of the book. I thanked my lucky star that I was brought up in the West during my formative years and have been a fan of American television since because otherwise I would have been spending as much time on Google researching to understand the content of the book as reading it [and possibly more than Costello spent while writing it]. E.g. the kids, when challenged to quickly put away their toys, is not merely enthusiastic, they’re “possessed by the spirit of Mr. Sheen”. Even when she is running away from her second home, depressed as hell and sobbing, she carries out her luggage to the taxi as though “dragging the dead body of a large yak”.

But it’s not only Zoe but her mother and new friends who also speak this way. The mother I could understand because maybe Zoe picked up her tendencies from her but when other characters began showing the same speech pattern, I began wondering if it was just a thing with the British characters or was Costello mixing up character appeals. So I was really spending a lot of time sorting out who was talking when. In fact, if we cut out the constant bombardment of similes and metaphors, I think the book would end with about 300 pages. I kid you not.

Fortunately, later in the book, individual character approaches do begin to emerge. For example, the male characters have fewer tendencies to exaggerate their statements and the similes and metaphors are kept mostly out of their dialogues [thank god]. The children show certain unique characteristics and so does Zoe’s dad. But these characters have much fewer dialogues. Yes, even the hero. For most of the book, Ryan is kept in the background of the scenes although fresh on Zoe’s mind. He only picks up in making appearances halfway through the novel, which I found refreshing. Hence, I would shelve the book firmly in the chick lit genre more than contemporary romance.

Actually, far as the plot goes, I thought it was very well planned. The gradual development of Ryan’s character was a required element to help Zoe adjust to her recent relationship trauma. While Zoe had not recovered from the jilting-by-Jason fiasco till the near end of the novel, that she had a healthy six months on the job before sleeping with the boss works out as well as the fact that Ryan’s wife had been dead for more than two years before he can come to terms with the death. Really, all of the characters were very believable and the plot too was very relatable. If Costello could have just skimmed it on the adding-of-the-similes a bit, I would have few bad things to say about it. [To be fair, I plan to read at least one more of her book to see if this was something she incorporated for Zoe’s character or is it really her own personality seeping into her work.]

There is one aspect that I could really commend Costello for, though. It is her keeping Zoe so secretive. For a character who has such natural tendency for humorous overtures, Zoe sure kept it mum throughout her yearlong stay in the USA about her failed wedding. Costello’s ability to keep the topic consistently on Zoe’s mind but never bring it to her lips was a very intelligent addition to the suspense. It certainly kept me wondering what would happen once she finally revealed why she ran away from home. And this also actually adds to another consistent element of Zoe’s characteristics – that she has a tendency to make a run for it when her romantic relationships show a first sign of failing.

Recommendation: Really, it’s a good story. I enjoyed it despite the writing peccadilloes once I adjusted myself to reading through the similes. In fact, my eyes eventually were trained to skip phrases upon contact with words such as “like” and “as”. Still, I would suggest you read it on the tab with Wi-Fi access if you are not Western pop culture savvy.

 

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Lakeside Rendezvous

Via: Daily Prompt- Glitter

 

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Image: Pexels

 

This just wasn’t working. And she certainly could not appreciate her traitorous heart for soaring at the idea that he claimed a right to feel – something – for her. It was not that she simply found it flattering he was pursuing to make her a part of his self-appointed assignment. It was definitely something more, a need to know he felt possessive of her. But that just wouldn’t do. “Where is that insufferable camera of yours,” asked she, affecting indignation.

Matthew smirked. “You didn’t think I’d bring it into the water, did you? You’ve already ruined one of my telelenses. This time, I’ve left it safe and sound by the tree.”

“Your camera lens deserved to be ruined! They would’ve been fine if you weren’t sneaking around the countryside taking pictures of people despite their prohibition.” She knew she was yelling again, but she could not help it. The man sparked a lot of contradictory feelings within her, none of which she could be content with.

Matthew leaned forward, his jaws set stiff. “If you’d kindly remember, I hadn’t yet been prohibited from taking anyone’s pictures when you ruined my lens. And my lens wouldn’t be currently in gadget heaven if you weren’t the type of woman who literally jumps the gun without thinking about the consequences of her actions first.” He straightened again, his smug smile back on his lips. “And as for the prohibition stipulated on me presently, I choose to ignore it because it obviously does not come from the most reasonable character.”

Elaina shook in her spot. Not because she was wet and the cold was starting to set into her bones. No, it was the rage. She did not know why she felt it. His decision to continue photographing her could prompt her indignation, her outrage, maybe even a choice to report him to the authorities – but this – this pure haze of wanting to teach him a lesson and perhaps resort to an act of violence just so that he would go away and leave her alone she could not fathom the origin of. Maybe it was an overreaction, maybe it was being unreasonable as he accused. But she suddenly wanted to be unreasonable and commit to something drastic – anything to prove to herself that he was only a nuisance and nothing more. She turned and began trudging her way to the grassy bank.

“Where are you going?” Matthew called after her and she could hear him following.

“Getting out of the water,” returned Elaina over her shoulders.

“Finally something sensible,” sighed her opponent.

“Oh, yes, very! And then I’m bringing your camera back for a swim.”

“What?” she heard Matthew’s startled reply and began running now that she was out of the water.

Matthew followed close on her heels and before she knew it, he had grabbed the waist of her shirt and she felt her back slammed against his front, her breath leaving her body in a whoosh. “Let go of me!”

She fought hard but was no match for his strength. He struggled but managed to turn her around until she was facing him and he had his arms tightly wrapped around her. “Oh, no you don’t. You’re getting nowhere near my camera. What is wrong with you? Where does all this rage come from?”

“From having my privacy violated!” shouted she, continuing to struggle.

“Stop struggling!”

“And what, let you have it easy?”

“There’s nothing easy about you.” Matthew dropped his voice so that it was deep and husky and oddly intimate. “But I now have you where I want you and I can assure you that I’m not letting you go anytime soon, so I suggest you stop fighting me.”

And Elaina did. She stopped fighting him. The change in him was so abrupt and unexpected that she could do nothing but what he asked. And suddenly, she noticed that her breasts, hips, thighs were all pressed to his length. That her toes barely touched the ground as he had her in his grip and raised against his body. That his mouth was mere inches from hers. That his eyes looked hungry. For the second time since he had chased and caught her, she felt her breath sharply leave her body.

A soft smile touched his lips and warmth lighted his eyes. “There. See? That wasn’t so hard, was it?”

Elaina only stared. He was so beautiful. She had noticed that about him before but now his beauty seemed different. His hair was curled and slightly matted and dripping water. His eyes were dark and intense and rimmed with sinfully long lashes for a man and water from the creek still clung to them, glittering with trapped sunlight. His nose was straight and strong just like she could feel his body to be, pressed against hers. But it was his afternoon stubble that most fascinated her now. It looked prickly but not in a bad way. And before she knew what she was doing, she raised her hand to touch his chin to learn how his beard would feel against her fingertips.

Matthew groaned and Elaina jerked back her hand. “Sorry,” gasped she.

He shook his head and swallowed before replying. “Don’t. Don’t say sorry. Don’t be sorry.” He paused, then added, “Why did you touch me?”

Elaina lowered her eyes. She knew what had compelled her to touch his chin but she was not about to divulge that emotion. “I don’t know,” she lied instead.

She did not think it possible, but one of his arms tightened around her waist further, pressing her body closer to his, all while he raised his other arm to place his hand on her cheek and tip her chin up, forcing her to look back into his eyes. “Don’t you,” asked he, just before he closed the distance between their mouths to kiss her.

This is an end excerpt from Chapter 06 of my novel I’ll Be Truewhich I had posted 05 years ago on this website. If you wish to read what follows, it is available in my post, I’ll Be True (Chapter 07).

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Un-grained and Guilty (02 min read)

Via: Daily Prompt – Blur

So what do you do when you like a song that goes against the grain with you?

It’s a hit song, Blurred Lines. It’s that music, both the composition and the arrangement; the exclamations inserted in the lyrics at the right moments; the rosy filter in the video.

Even the lyrics produces a chuckle, right down to “what rhymes with hug me?”

But it’s so WRONG! Just wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong!

The first time I saw it, I was shocked into stupefaction. When my senses returned, I turned it off immediately. Then I told my feminist sensibilities to get a grip and watch what the enemy produced.

How can something produced in such poor taste sound so good?! I got hooked even as I hated everything it portrayed. From the lyrics to the music video. Even the damn hashtags were a good catch – cheap – but effective nevertheless. A road accident so gruesome that you can’t tear your eyes away…

I wondered, how could those girls participate in such a travesty to womankind? I tried to reconcile myself with the idea that if I am a true feminist, I should applaud them in their boldness.

But I don’t think Thicke meant it as a feminist movement to depict how the women of today are sexually liberated. I think it was meant to do just what it does – titillate the testosterone. Because there are men who do believe they are placed on earth as god’s gifts to women. Urgh! This song would be right up their alley, now, wouldn’t it?

It has inspired some great parodies, however. I have come to enjoy many of them. My favorite is the feminist version, Defined Lines by the Auckland University law school. No, I don’t think it’s content is extreme at all. It’s on par with the original in its tonality.

Hey, hey, hey! At least, it gave us an opportunity to #CLEARTHEAIR …

bigot

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WRITING CHRONICLES #08: The Writing Voice

Via: Daily Prompt – Translate

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Image: Wikimedia

The changing larynx is not a burden only for the pubescent teenager to bear; from time to time, the writer may have to deal with it too. I know I have been feeling a transformation in my writing voice ever since I began the fiction writing course in January.

When I started writing my first novel, I believe I was greatly mimicking the voice of Sandra Brown, whose romance novels were the first I ever read in the genre and was inspired by. Over time, as I began reading the works of other romance novelists, ranging from contemporary to historic to even paranormal, my voice began to blend and develop its own personality. A cross between somber and sarcastic, furthered by my ornate sentence structures.

But before I move on to explaining my latest writing dilemma, let me try defining what the writing voice is. It is the unique blend of attitude, tone, and style that showcases your personality when you write [or use any medium of creativity, really]. It also reflects your beliefs, emotions, and values, usually with an attempt to present them in a way you find acceptable, or rather, in the way you think readers will be able to relate. Sounds pretty complicated, right? It isn’t once you get into the throes of your creative passion but it can be lost in the translation. But the following may help to break it down:  Read the rest of this entry »

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