Update [February 2015]

Feature Posts

Being swamped with Lunar New Year preparations and the anniversary of the Tiger and myself this month, I did manage to squeeze a bit of time for writing and blogging. Therefore, I do apologise if this month seemed quite sparse around this area.

These posts were come of my favourites for the month:

Writer-y Endeavours

February pretty much rushed through writing-wise. After an incredibly fruitful peer review session on the last day of January, it has been squeezing time to write and get ready for the Lunar New Year. Despite everything, I still had fun. And managed to get a few things done on the literary front as well.

Looking at my writing schedule, I would have to say it’s picking up – If I wanted to be optimistic. Haha!

Coming up soon!

  • More reworking for the Mentor Access Project – which means more meetings!
  • The shortlisting for the Fantasy Anthology, “Escape from Reality”
  • More uploads on Wattpad
  • …it’s going to be a busy month, literarily speaking.

I’ll see you this coming March!

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Blanket Fortress Play: Lunar New Year Games (with a Sneak)

Blanket Fortress Play

 

My cousin Jezel often has her birthday close to our Lunar New Years. Last year, I got her Get Bit! as a birthday present and we played it over the Lunar New Year just so she knows how it works. This year, I got her a game more suited to something she’s interested in – Sushi Go!

BMO's ready!
BMO’s ready!

Inside the Box

Being the quick, casual game that it is, Sushi Go! comes in a tin and the full deck of Sushi Go! cards and the rule book.

Setup

Like the inside of the box, the setup is quite straightforward as well. With the deck of cards in the middle, each player is dealt the amount of cards according to the number of players playing in the game:

  • A 2-Player game gives each player 10 cards
  • A 3-Player game gives each player 9 cards
  • A 4-Player game gives each player 8 cards
  • A 5-Player game gives each player 7 cards

Thus far, we have only played up until four players, so I’m going to base my experience on that.

The Game We Played

I played three games with my Aunts Jac & Fiona, and my cousin Jezel. Jezel and I have this thing going on where every game I have bought her seems to always result in her winning the first game we play after opening it. Therefore, I was about to dive in and see.

While playing...
While playing…
My (almost) winning hand at the last round! (Lost this round by 3 points)
My (almost) winning hand at the last round! (Lost this round by 3 points)

This game is a little different, where you scored with the cards you put on the table, or “discard” from your current hand, before you pass the rest of your hand to the person next to you. The cycle starts again until there are no more cards to take.

Sushi Go! is played with three rounds, with the scoring of each card stated at the bottom of the card. Some of them get really tricky (ARGH PUDDINGS!!!) and some required building sets so count your cards! Each count is then counted up and brought forward to the next round.

For people who like a quick game with a twist, Sushi Go! presents a fun, laughter-filled environment for family and friends. Simple to pick up, Sushi-Go! was created by Phil Walker-Harding and published by Gamewright. You can find out more about the game here.

Gameplay Winners: Jezel & Aunt Jac

BONUS PLAY

Wheee! I didn't really like that I was Mirt the Moneylender but oh well.
Wheee! I didn’t really like that I was Mirt the Moneylender but oh well.

Many thanks to Ben (Creator of Char Siew Space) and his iPad version of The Lords of Waterdeep! The Tiger and I had a lot of fun!

Gameplay Winner: Me =)

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Book Bites: Digital Writers Festival 2015

Book Bites

Running from 11th to the 21st of February and part of the Emerging Writers Festival, the Digital Writers Festival features a large stream of videos and Google Hangouts for writers in Australia and around the world, discussing various new formats of publishing, storytelling, and a series which I am starting to fall in love with – 20-minute Cities.

One of the things I really enjoyed about the Digital Writers Festival was how accessible it was. Over the hustle and bustle of Chinese New Year, I managed to catch a few videos, all uploaded on days before I was able to catch the livestreams. Despite the fact that I probably had no chance of participation, the uploaded videos were still a good way to enjoy the topics discussed for those without the time or presence to enjoy the festival fully.

I managed to catch “Graphic Contents”, featuring graphic novelists showing their work-in-progress and upcoming works in various forms. With backgrounds in animation, independent publishing, and illustration with the need for technical knowledge, the content presented here was interesting, to say the least. I especially liked the concept behind Cameron Baker’s MOTE and his quirky stories, click here to watch and find out!

I also managed to catch “Audiofiction Experiments”, featuring Justin Wolfers and James Brown reading a jumbled up manuscript of sentences surrounding the same theme. While perspectives changed and the subject matter shifted quite a bit, the elements of this experiment still managed to rope me in for 30 minutes of pure entertainment. You can find out what they have in store here.

The speakers were quirky and brilliant, communicating their ideas quite well in that span of time. My only issue was how sometimes the video would lag or people will get disconnected, disrupting train of thought while watching them sometimes. However, technical issues like will come up on a fully-online experience.

Lastly, 20-Minute Cities takes one on a 20-minute literary tour of UNESCO Cities of Literature like Melbourne, Krakow, and Edinburgh. Watching the Melbourne video made me want to return again (as if I needed another excuse), and I’m definitely looking forward to the rest of the videos.

So, perhaps this can be another option of engaging readers and writers all over the world. I’ve only watched a few videos so far and they have been enjoyable. Perhaps this could be another avenue to reach out to?

P/S – The videos are still up! Enjoy the Digital Writers Festival here.

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Muse Moment #4: Full Circle

Muse Moment

Creativity,
They think, they wander, herding
To higher ground, safe.

They listen, but stray,
Their energy explosive,
Branch to branch, upbeat.

Observing, they shake
Their heads. Perfection is their
One, crowing option.

The loyalists bark,
More concerned with keeping faith
Through moody settings.

They set out to help –
Perfect companions – though snouts
Point to finer things.

Ever so curious,
They scurry to find out more,
Resourceful, clever.

Despite the shortcuts,
They push on through, bull-headed,
Getting the job done.

Courageous stripes speed
Past ambitions, achievements
Reached, ready to pounce.

The compassionate,
The gentle, the sincere wait
In patients warrens.

In the grand palace
Sits the majesty, leading
In charming aura.

Analytical,
Slithering dangerously,
Gregariously.

Going round the globe,
Independently bringing
The galloping end.

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Decode: Adventure – Saving Nature, Saving Humanity

Decode Adventure

It has been a while since our last escape game. This time, we were quite determined to save nature, and in turn, save humanity.

Robin joins us on our escape!
Robin joins us on our escape!

This Escape Game was a little different. Unlike the usual locked-room escape games we were used to, this was held at the Gardens by the Bay, and we had to run around to gather the needed clues. At the same time, there was no designated slot (unless you signed up for Time Attack!), you just came when the game opened, during any time you want.

Sarah, Raven, the Tiger, and myself headed to the Gardens when the game opened at 11AM. And then, we were off!

Is it there?!
Is it there?! Photo courtesy of Sarah Coldheart.
Working it all out.
Working it all out. Photo courtesy of Sarah Coldheart.
And when Sarah managed to catch the both of us
And when Sarah managed to catch the both of us. Photo courtesy of Sarah Coldheart

I cannot divulge anything with regards to the clues given because it just takes the fun out of everything. It’s a bit like a fun exam – if you don’t know how to get about to solving it, try another angle. “Cheating” just puts a damper on everything.

That being said, I enjoyed this version through and through. While the puzzles were still enjoyable, the action of running around in a bigger area adds to the excitement. Therefore, it felt like escaping was not just a game, it was imperative.

For those who were curious about our results, I think this picture says it all:

Wheeee!!! Photo courtesy of REG in Singapore
Wheeee!!! Photo courtesy of REG in Singapore

One of the volunteers gave us a snippet, telling us that this setting was just a test-run for something bigger. I’m not going to say much, but watch out for what REG in Singapore have in June 2015!

Note: LAST GARDEN will be running until the 22nd of February.

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Next-in-Reading #40: Kami & KAZE

Next in Reading

Title: Kami & KAZE
Author: Wena Poon
Year: 2014
Publisher:
Sutajio Wena

””Kami kaze,” he pronounced it in the proper Japanese way. “It’s not one word. It’s two. Two separate, beautiful words.””

I look forward to Wena’s books, and they never fail to disappoint. This time, she has done it again.

Set in post-World War II Japan, Kami & KAZE is about Kate, an American Public Health Officer, her relationships in Japan (her mother, her driver, Shinji, her colleagues) and her struggles to aid Japan to recovery. The daughter of a war photographer, Kate heads to Japan for a better outlook, and eventually learns to appreciate the divine winds which seem to blow against her direction.

In a series of understated scenes, Wena manages to capture the tension between the liberal Kate, fighting advances and unmentioned sexism in her everyday work life, and a more conservative Shinji, whose wisdom in the cultures of Japan and his tragic past, very well. Kate’s banter with Shinji in the car brings out the situation both of them are facing in post-War Osaka – Kate’s well-intentioned interventions are often met with obstacles, mostly to do with her own ignorance or her unintentional lack of respect of Japanese culture.

Shinji, on the other hand, holds a stiff upper lip despite the tragedies set upon him during the war. Unwilling to participate, yet saddled with the threat of execution if he did not draft himself into the army during his teenage years, Shinji experienced the loss of his father and sister, having to masquerade himself as a woman to avoid the authorities. While empathetic to Kate’s well-intentioned programs, he reminds her of the importance of the culture to the people, educating her as they go along.

Kate’s mother brings about the other look at the Americans during this particular period – one of haughtiness in an you-better-be-grateful-that-we’re-doing-this-for-you way. While she was quite unlikeable initially, spewing assumptions like no one’s business, she ends up becoming the ignorant comic relief of the story as she attempts to assimilate in order to have a better relationship with Miko, the housekeeper and Shinji’s mother.

The story was short and sweet, but I felt that it was a good length to encapsulate Kate’s and Shinji’s understanding of each other and start of their freedom from their past. Any longer, and I felt that it would have started to drag. On an added note, I loved the little snippets and photographs at the end of the book, especially the phrase which went “How long more should I write to meet the minimum amount of pages?”

Wena’s writing always feels genuine to me, stories which hold a soul that only the writer can bring out. To find out more about Wena’s works, and all the other awesome things she does, click here.

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Muse Moment: The Nerd Table

Muse Moment

He stared down at his khaki shorts and leather sandals. Adjusting his backpack, he pretended to wait for a friend at the corner of Bar Naked, while the proprietors down the row brought their tables onto the closed road.

In the essence of things, he did not need to pretend. He was waiting for his friends, the reasons why he had agreed to this outing in the first place. The posters glistened in the sunset, and standing banners quickly rolled up. He craned his neck from across the road, his first step hesitant.

It had been a while, was he going to enjoy himself again?

“Are you here for the event?” a lady with a clipboard approached him. By some strange process of hypnotic walking, he found himself half a step away from the registration table. Or barrel, by the looks of it.

“Kinda,” he said, “I’m actually under someone else’s name.”

Names of friends were exchanged and written. Passes, lanyards, and goodie bags received, he climbed the steps into the bar. He was ready. Or at least, that was what he told himself.

“Drinks?”

He looked up to a cheery waiter in his uniform black polo, scanning the menu at the corner of his eye, he took a second too long.

“Ginger Ale, please.”

With a drink in his hand, he was quickly whisked to the bar’s open mic, slowly assimilating as an underdressed backpacker with a drink in his hand. Settling into his corner, he kept his eye out. And when the host took the microphone, the fidget from his ankle spread to his hip.

People entered, each stream bringing in a new slew of unfamiliar faces. It was not until the event guests were about to be announced when a familiar poke of a head at the corner of the door raised his eyebrows.

“You guys are late,” he said.

“We had to get ready,” she replied, “It has been a while.”

The event panel started with unfinished conversations. Conversations which quickly turned into smiles, eye contact, and eventually, unbridled laughter. Unabashed honesty filled the air with quotes which made everyone gasp, only for it to turn into another round of guffaws. Despite the contrast in appearance and interest, it was difficult not to enjoy himself in the discussion of food, family, and social issues.

Among the tweets, microblogs, selfies, hashtags, and photographs during the session, he was certain that this night would be immortalised on a blog in some corner of the Internet somehow. He let himself go, his own laughter louder and heartier than he could imagine, even before the panel came to an end.

Clutching onto their juices and sodas, they weaved pass the liquor and beer tables, back to the corner table he sat himself at.  He turned to his friends and their t-shirt, jeans, backpacks, and sling bags, and smiled to himself.

The nerd table was present.

(Note: This piece of flash fiction was inspired by Nika Harper’s Creative Writing Challenge on Season 1, Episode 1 of Wordplay, and the Fly Social Event at Bar Naked on 31st January 2015. For a better coverage of the event, please check out Sarah Coldheart’s post here.)

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