All posts by Tina

Crowdsourced Storytelling: Twas an Unfortunate Night

Members of the #MYWriters Facebook group* participated in a crowdsourced storytelling exercise where each person takes turns to contribute two words to complete a story.

We have 1,215 members to date, and about 50 members participated in the online exercise within an 8 hour time span, so you can imagine the awesome and creative havoc caused!

Here is our combined story:

 

TWAS AN UNFORTUNATE NIGHT…

It was an unfortunate evening, when little Brandon ventured out to see of Devil’s Wearing Prada red stilettos. Brandon thought he died of drinking. When suddenly, Xenovia flew past the green dragon with no strings attached. Then she drank bourbon while spit dribbled off her pointed chin, (in) drunken stupor, reflecting despair.

The dragon wept fire.

Wine bottles and cheese start molding into gold. Brandon was elatedly pungent. But then, alive again. A wizard picked up their hat together with musty mold. A robot belted out My Heart with gusto. The Catalonian openly bleeding all over the face of diarrhea. But now – not now. Then when? One day. When the sun turned green. Or the moon moons. Moon turns into sushi.

Sun down.

Glittery vampire sucked oranges and vomiting green dragons. And plenty of them. Of slimy bloody oranges. A witch juicily smiles, rubbing her sides with her Sharpie marker that’s shaped to fit his nose so rotund and photogenic, yet probing.

Branded decided and dreamt about his again, against the wall. Fatalistic fate woohoo, danced the night and go to sleep. In Neverland, Salak Selatan.

Samir now and dream. He wasn’t. What happened?

Not again!

Will I? No siree. He refused to abide to unrealistic electric dreams. Too weird.

He wanted to kentut all over, but then could not vanish completely in putrid. And then, somewhat awkwardly, stumbled on reciting poems.

Suddenly, lightning. Brightened the mystic night and split into mountains.

Meanwhile, the postman said, “Flying mushroom,” when he cart-wheeled continuously and entered while munching Mr. Potatoes. Blue Cheese was not fully aware that everyone are psychotic like me.

But then, my cow gone crazy over the KL tower despite (the) gruesome green warts.

“Look up!” said none of the idiotic fools.

Who usually sleep naked and play sadistic Monopoly? Soap bubbles, when will I see soap bubbles floating on lucid dreams in my secret territory, silly imagination, like dancing runs wild?

Hates chatting, standing erect suspense is.

The murder that still tickles me. The murderer got caught just as she undressed. The moment only to whip out an itsy ice cream coated cake.

But, alas…

Sugary cocaine, my friend.

“No!!!” yelled Yilda Runeguts.

Brandon glanced up at the cataclysmic being who seemed lost but found pieces of tuna-filled pitas laid out on brown Sunshine bread. So he tembak kaukau until his exposed heart bled profusely.

THE END

 

Well done, everyone!

We’ve just proven that writing can be fun too!

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*This writer is founder and moderator/administrator of the Malaysian Writers Facebook group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/malaysianwriters/ which is described as “A platform and community for writers of fiction, non-fiction or poetry of Malaysian citizenship/permanent residence or non-Malaysians who write and work in/from Malaysia; who are published or aspiring; writing in any genre, via any medium and in ANY language (includes short story writers, columnists, journalists, bloggers, editors, copywriters, scriptwriters and literary translators).

#BookNerdProblems

In a Book Appreciation Club I belong to, members started discussing all the Book Nerd Problems that we faced. Some were downright hilarious, all utterly Malaysian, and absolutely true!

So I thought it might be fun to share it with all of you.

 

Here you go:

#BookNerdProblems

  • Finding something to eat for lunch that won’t splash and spray all over my book.

  • Wanting to read on a long road trip…. but gets nauseated 

  • Hoping the movie adaptation will be as good as the book and getting disappointed every single time. frown emoticon
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  • no time to read.. but have to work to get money to buy more books to read

  • Definitely ‘Too many books, so little time”.

  • My daughter, an only child, says she has many frens. I asked “Where??”, she replied ” All my books, they are my best friends, and I guess I hv thousands of them..”

  • I can never sell my daughter’s books without permission, for I think book nerd loves reading same book repeatedly.

  • I hv to smack my girl sometimes bcos she reads inordinately, sometimes oblivious of danger, sleeping time and meal times. And I am really mad when she leaves her school work to the last minute.
  • Reading my book while stuck in a traffic jam, while waiting for the lift
  • Staying up late to read till the early hours of the morning . …on a working day. Yikes! ‪
  • Worrying abt which bag i have to use bcos it must be able to fit the current book I’m reading.
  • ‪Going on a trip n worrying whether I brought enough reading material. What happens if i run out halfway?
  • Going to KLCC n worrying abt not hvg enough time in Kino bcos I’m always rushing.
  • Finally – having to use 2 hands to eat laksa and also hold a book open at the same time!
  • My daughter reads during meal time, even stands to read during the meal
  • Reading during Hari Raya! (the Muslim equivalent to Christmas Day)
  • Can’t eat without a book, a habit since I was a kid. Makes my food taste better.
  • I brush my teeth with the book propped up on the shelf in the bathroom. I guess my mom should have smacked me then!
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  • 
‪Now is eating time, and still my girl must hide books, shun me, and sneak to kitchen. I was rather mad, firstly, bcoz it isn’t good for digestion, second, it takes her almost 1½ hours to finish, third, that makes her oblivious of importance of real timing in life
  • My most pro move is being able to read while stirring the pot, while watering plants and while vacuuming. The last very unsuccessfully, unfortunately
  • Finding a hairdresser who will let me read my book during the haircut, rather than engaging in meaningless conversation!! Any recommendations??
  • Talking too much and excitedly about a book only then to realize I talked TOO MUCH and being socially weird. Hahaha

  • I need that kind of hairdresser too but they always insist to remove my specs which render me blind – how to read? I need to go for LASIK — need permanent solution
  • Searching for a book nerd’s group for children between age 9-10, let them meet and chat over the same books, over and over…

  • Exam week is coming but I’ve got to start with a new book ahhh… all the time

  • Misplaced/lost my books more that twice, when asked everyone in the house they told me, no one steals your book, saying that books aren’t worth stealing. Gahh that hurts!!! my books are *in smeagol’s voice* my precious

  • Getting neck ache from sleeping on your book after reading in bed
  • My middle girl sometimes reads upside down. Seated on the plush single-seater sofa, feet up against the sofaback, torso against the seat, and head jutting out below with the book suspended between her thin hands… *Haih*
  • Agonizing over which book to get because you can’t remember which of that author’s books you already own…

  • My elder girl will go inside the book…. Call out to her 10 times also cannot hear wan…must rampas the book…lol..then she will be like “ah.. Wat mummy, I nvr hear u calling.”… Ahyoo wat to do…
  • ‪When I was a kid…I will read under my blanket w torch light… And my mom will always catch me….lol…and now I do it too w my book light under my comforter…… Can’t sleep without reading..
  • When reading on my mini ipad in bed at night, I fall asleep and the ipad slaps me on the mouth, causing a lump/bruise to emerge around my lips where it fell. Next morning, my office mates give me a look as if I’m a victim of domestic abuse 

  • Books including hardcovers n phones n tablets falling on my face too. Lol. Oh, i do tht pose on the bed n sofa too…book nerd ‘yoga’. Keeps the blood flowing to me ‘ead!

  • Haha, book nerd yoga reminds me : after hours spent sitting around reading, I felt guilty for not doing any exercise so I started figuring out exercises that I could do while reading – planking is good, so is down-dog with leg lifts
  • When I’m reading while walking towards the office every morning after I had my breakfast. Nearly bump into the signage ehehhehe.
  • Always sneak a look at the book when the traffic turn red also
  • Having to wait to discuss a book with a friend when you’ve finished ina day but they’re not finished in a week!

 

Don’t Give Up Your Day Job!

by Tina Isaacs


An interesting discussion began amongst my local writing community today. One lady was making plans to write full time and posed the question in our group timeline inquiring on the kinds of jobs she could do if her writing career didn’t work out.

Having contemplated the same idea myself not so long ago, I shared with her an epiphany that came to me after interacting with many writers from around the globe. And so I thought I’d share it here, in case anyone else is facing similar crossroads in their writing careers.


Now, lemme give it to you straight:

Many, or I should say most, writers DO NOT make enough money to subsist on writing alone. Especially if you have other dependents too. There are even writers who have had NYT Bestsellers who cannot afford to give up their regular paying jobs, although they consider themselves ‘full time’ writers. 

The fact is, unless you have written a multi-million bestseller like JK Rowling, Stephen King, Nicholas Sparks, Harumi Murakami, EL James and Stephanie Meyer, or unless you have a millionaire husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/life partner who is willing to pay for everything while you write, write and do nothing but write, then hell, yeah, you have to juggle work and writing at the same time. 

Ask any of the prolific writers in your community whether they have given up their paying jobs to survive purely on book sales, and I can guarantee you find less than a handful who’d say yes (and not be lying to your face).

One established Malaysian writer told me: it’s great pocket money and that once-a-year-bonus to buy that little something extra for yourself, but it doesn’t pay the bills.  

So, as someone put it, DON’T GIVE UP YOUR DAY JOB! 


If you are one of those who must do something related to writing, then there are many jobs out there that actually assist you in furthering your writing career while you do it: 

  • get a Masters/PhD and become a college lecturer teaching English or creative writing, or with an English or Literature Degree so you can teach English or creative writing in schools/learning centers; 
  • become an editor, proofreader or copywriter for a periodical or publishing house [some of these positions require an English Degree too, although some allow you to advance based on experience];
  • freelance by writing and submitting articles or blogposts for periodicals which pay you. Many are constantly looking for well written pieces. Here are some useful links: http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com/…/30-types-of…/ and http://thewritelife.com/find-freelance-writing-jobs/… and you can find more if you participate in your local writing community and follow their bulletin boards;
  • get a regular job writing blog or web-content, or book reviews;
  • become a news journalist, reporter or columnist for a print/online periodical;
  • if you are good at translations, try to get into literary translations;
  • many writing competitions have cash prizes too, so you can give those a try while you practice your writing.

There are thousands of options out there; you just have to know where to look. But, be warned, it’s also a highly competitive market, so you have to be tenacious, hard working and good at it before you can make any headway.


When I had reached those crossroads in my writing career, and after having gathered all the advise from fellow writers friends, I decided to write part-time while maintaining my day job to pay for monthly expenses. Surprisingly, after making that decision, it lightened a burden I hadn’t even realized I was carrying, worrying too much about which career path to take.

Oh, I haven’t given up on my dream to push for a successful writing career. It’s just that having come to that epiphany, I write with a managed expectation of what a writing career can bring me.

With clearer expectations in mind, I began figuring out ways to make all my professional experiences count in my fiction. This I did by weaving into it little anecdotes and observations during my lifetime as a litigation lawyer, because one always remember that a good writer aims to WRITE WHAT ONLY YOU CAN WRITE (in other words, ask yourself what makes you unique?); this is what translates into your individual writing voice. 

Also, I went on to capitalize on my legal experience by integrating it into my writing, starting with my two non-fiction side-projects – a guide to legal practice for newbies, and a book on Copyright & the Author.  

Calendar of Annual Writer / Literary Events in Malaysia and Asia Pacific

 

CalendarI was compiling a list of literary events and festivals for writers in the geographic region near Malaysia, for the Malaysian Writers community*, so that we as writers can be more aware of promotional and professional development opportunities nearby.

It occurred to me that other writers might benefit from it too.

So, here it is..


 

JANUARY

Kolkata Literary Meet

 

International Kolkata Book Fair

 

Pesta Buku Selangor

 

FEBRUARY

Kolkuta Literature Festival

 

Apijay Kolkata Literary Festival (AKLF)

 

Delhi Poetry Festival, followed by New Delhi World Book Fair

 

Taipei International Book Exhibitipn

 

Bangkok International Book Fair

 

Digital Writers Festival (ONLINE)

 

MARCH

Asia Pacific Poetry Festival

  • 2015 – 1-7Mar, Hanoi, Vietnam
  • see Vietnam Tourism guide http://www.vietnamtourism.com

 

Irrawady Literary Festival

 

The Bookworm Literary Festival

 

Asean Literary Festival 2015

 

APRIL

Kuala Lumpur International Book Fair

 

MAY 

Dunedin Writers & Readers Festival

 

JB Arts Festival, inclusive of JB Writers & Readers Festival

 

Auckland Writers Festival

 

Sydney Writers Festival

 

Asian Festival for Children’s Content Singapore

 

Emerging Writers Festival

 

JUNE

A Cooler Lumpur Literary Festival (formerly Kuala Lumpur International Literary Festival)

 

SAARC Literary Festival on South Asian Poetry

 

JULY

Hong Kong Book Fair

 

AUGUST

Bendigo Writers Festival

 

Melbourne Writers Festival

 

SEPTEMBER

Brisbane Writers Festival

 

OCTOBER

Asia Pacific Writers & Translators Conference

 

Bali Emerging Writers Festival (BEWF) / Ubud Writers & Readers Festival

 

Singapore Writers Festival

 

Hong Kong International Literary Festival

 

NOVEMBER

Victoria Writers Festival

 

Georgetown Literary Festival (GTLF)

 

Hong Kong International Literary Festival

 

 

I would welcome and be grateful for any input to correct the above details or any omissions. Feel free to drop me a note! 😉

 

 

*This writer is founder and moderator/administrator of the Malaysian Writers Facebook group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/malaysianwriters/ which is described as “A platform and community for writers of fiction, non-fiction or poetry of Malaysian citizenship/permanent residence or non-Malaysians who write and work in/from Malaysia; who are published or aspiring; writing in any genre, via any medium and in ANY language (includes short story writers, columnists, journalists, bloggers, editors, copywriters, scriptwriters and literary translators).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Limericks on Writers’ Self-Doubt

by Tina Isaacs

 

Here are five limericks* I prepared on writer’s self-doubt, negativity and that dreaded writer’s block

*Limericks are short poems, often comical and sometimes bawdy, with five lines and an aabba rhyme scheme

 

 

There once was a literary author

Who got stuck when writing about her

She knocked on that block

And thumped on her clock

Decided to write on whatever

 

 

Jamal was on a type-writing frenzy

But one day the ideas just went hazy

He did him some prompts

That oiled up his joints

And his book just knocked them all crazy

 

 

She wanted to read such a story

And she wasn’t concerned ‘bout the glory

She put down her book

And decided to look

How she could write a story more gory

 

 

It was nearing the deadline they gave

Of when his draft had to cave

He pushed aside doubt

Remembered he’d enough clout

To write fabulously until his grave

 

 

The doubters said she couldn’t write

Enough that she hadn’t a bite

She told them to shove it

Where sun’s shine don’t hit it

And showed them in time she was right

 

 

L