The sequel to The Warped Web is coming…
The sequel to The Warped Web is coming…
I came to writing my previous post How I Write My First Draft Of A Novel In 3 Months after having been asked many times how long or how fast I could write a novel. So in this post, I will let you in on my writing life and show you what my typical day as a writer/author/publisher is like.
Depending on whether I am in the drafting or publishing phrase, every day can be different in terms of what time I wake up or how busy I get.
(*Names have been changed for privacy purpose)
7am: Good morning. I wake up and first thing I do is go on my personal group chat where I keep in close touch with two of my childhood friends, *Coco in Malaysia and *Winnie in Australia. We have a tight-knit, unbreakable bond, and no distance can break that. Anyways, we chat every single day, and I wake up every morning to their messages. I would spend ten minutes replying to them.
7:10am: As much as I love my girls, I have to leave them and climb out of bed to get my son ready for school. He’s not hard to wake up. Sometimes he’s already up before me. I always have a quick shower in the morning for a fresh start. It wakes me up instantly.
7:25am: My son and I are already in the kitchen. It doesn’t take me long to get ready if I don’t have someplace to be in the morning, such as my work taking me into central London. My son has a quick bowl of cereal. As for me, depending on how I am feeling, I would decide whether to have my Starbucks’ filtered coffee which I can prepare at home or grab the one at my son’s favourite bakery.
7:35am: No matter what, my son and I are out the door at this time. We then head our way via walking to his favourite bakery. We live seconds away from the bustling streets of coffee shops and bakeries, but there’s one that we go to every school morning.
7:40am: We are at the bakery getting my son’s favourite chicken pasty, one for breakfast and one for school. After then, we hurry to my son’s school bus which is at a waiting spot only a few minutes away. The bus leaves at 8am sharp.
8am: I am home by this time. I prepare my morning weekdays favourite breakfast, hash brown and runny eggs alongside my second round of coffee. I then bring my breakfast up to my office room and eat it at my desk in front of the laptop. While I eat, I check on my many emails.
8:20am: I am a fast eater. Once breakfast is finished, I go straight to work. If I am working on drafts, I like to usually work in bed. I also don’t just work on one draft of a novel alone. I tend to work on two to three maximum. So I will split my time doing about an hour on three chapters each, depending on how much there is to write on one chapter alone. There are times when I have to proofread/edit my authors’ work. In that case, I put their work first before mine and work on them for as long as I need to. I don’t usually take more than two weeks.
11:45am: Lunch time for me. During the weekdays when I am working, I like to have healthy homemade egg noodles with chicken and salad for lunch. I prepare it the evening before as I like to have it at a chilled, overnight temperature. Every now and again, I would have some chocolates after my lunch to give me the bit of energy boost. I am not a fan of healthy snack bars or the energy ones. Besides, like the saying goes, life is too short not to have chocolates, right?
12:10pm: Once again, I am a fast eater. After lunch, I relax a bit and check my group messages from Coco and Winnie and reply to them.
12:15pm: I go back to work.
*There are days when I catch up with my fairy godmother aka editor on work and personal stuff over the phone.
3:15pm: I stop working here and get ready to pick up my son at his bus stop. If he has swimming practice (go Team GB!) I would then have to pick him up at school. From now until 9pm is ‘mommy’s time’. I give my son all the attention and spend time with him, whether it’s watching him swim, going shopping, or having ice-cream. My mother-son bonding time is very important to me, and I would always put him first on top of everything else.
9pm: It is my son’s bedtime. Once he’s tucked in bed, I continue with some more work. This time, unless I am proofreading/editing, I will have Netflix on. As mentioned in my previous post How I Write My First Draft Of A Novel In 3 Months, I cannot work in a quiet environment when writing. I will only have the TV on while working at night, and during the day, I will have the music on. Also, I am very much a night owl. This is the time where my imagination becomes extremely active. And I tend to write more in the space of an hour than I usually would in an hour during the day.
11:40pm: My husband is home from work and we spend a few minutes catching up on our day.
12:10am – 1am: I go for a run or fast walk on my treadmill (sometimes up to an hour). I find it hard to workout during the day. I just can’t set my mind on it. I would workout five days a week.
1:15am: After a nice shower or bath (I would take about twenty minutes in the bath) I go back to work. Yes, my mind is still active at this hour.
2:30am: Here is where I stop working and watch Netflix or read a book in bed. Occasionally, I will message Coco and Winnie.
3am/4am: The lights go out. Goodnight and see you at 7am.
It does seem like I’m working in the comfort of my own home, which is good. However, every work that I do have deadlines. And I’m used to the little sleep I get. It’s waking up and doing what I love and being who/what I am that gives me the boost and motivation to keep on going.
So there you have it, an example of my ordinary weekday.
Memeng the publishing cat is a long time fan of Mr Whiptail. In fact, he could see himself playing one of the roles.
©Vivian Head, Biddy Lee 2019
William went to give his new friend a hug, but then backed away.
“What’s wrong?” asked Spike.
“I wanted to give you a hug to make you feel better, but I am not sure how
to get past all your prickles.”
Spike laughed again.
“They’re not actually called ‘prickles’ you know. They are
called ‘spines’. Do you know I have more than five thousand to protect me and
every year they are replaced by new ones so they stay nice and sharp.”
I have often been asked many questions regarding my writing. How long does it take you to write a book? Where do you get your ideas from? Is it hard for you to write? Do you enjoy writing? Do you take your time? So in this post, I will share with you how I get my full draft done. This is my way and how I get things done. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to finishing your first draft. It’s all about getting it done.
Having a new idea for a book can be exciting. For me, I’m always excited when I have new ideas, and I often tend to have more than one idea at the same time. It is impossible for me to have just one idea alone. I could look at an apple and an idea/inspiration could just come to me without me having to do anything. With all these ideas, I have a small brown book where I carry with me to keep my ideas in. It doesn’t matter how I write it down. It could be as brief as writing ‘looking at apple’ or ‘seeing apple dance’. Others might not understand what I’ve written, but it’s my own way of understanding it.
Taking the Pick
With all the flying ideas in my head, I choose one that I can see myself writing a story about. There are times when I can combine two, or more, different ideas into one. As a writer, I like my stories to be like movies. I am a huge movie fan, and I like my stories to be seen as something that could be played into movies. Don’t get me confused for being a screenwriter. I love writing books, and when readers read my works, I want them to be able to picture what is going on in their head, like the inside of their heads are playing a movie. If you know me as a writer since from the beginning, you would know where my tagline comes from.
“Every story plays a movie in the head.”
Now Write and Brave It
Once I’ve picked my idea, or ideas, I then think about the ending. I always think about the ending and have an idea as to how my story would end. This way, it helps me with the rest of the storyline. I don’t like to waste too much time thinking about what to write. I start writing the storyline in brief points for each chapter until more than halfway through the story. It doesn’t matter if I do not know what would happen in one chapter. I think hard and keep the ending in mind. It’s easy said than done, but by not thinking too much, I can allow my mind and the pen and paper to do the work. I also don’t just like to write in any notebooks. I like to write in good quality, fancy ones. I just like the feeling of it. But no matter how good quality or fancy the notebooks are, the writing itself is always messy, quick and over the place. This is what I call good brainstorming. After writing down the storyline points, I start to write the actual story entirely. I have also often been asked if writing the entire story via pen and paper would take up a lot of my time. The answer is no. I tend to write fast, and writing down helps to make my story grow. If I were to type it up on my laptop/computer straight away, my mind would freeze. It would not work. At this point when I’m writing the entire story, I don’t worry about the grammar or making it perfect. In fact, my writing at this point is over the place, and if someone were to read it, they wouldn’t understand what was going on. Only I could understand my own mess. The most important thing is to write the story. After drafting every chapter or two, I type what I’ve written onto my laptop/computer. This might seem like a lot of hassle, but it’s not. I can work faster this way than working straight from my laptop/computer. It doesn’t take me long to work on a chapter. Of course, sometimes I get writer’s block or I’m stuck as maybe the storyline for a chapter is not working out. That’s what the storyline brief points are for. I can change things around, and if need be, re-write a chapter, so long as I have the points to keep me on track. Once I’ve written close to halfway through the storyline, I finish with the rest of the brief points for the rest of the chapters until the end. In my opinion, the overall timescale should take no longer than three (or maybe four) months. This is because during this period, the mind is fresh with the storyline and ideas. But I feel that the longer I work on it, the less I will feel connected to the story, and therefore losing the touch with the storyline. A story will not work if there’s no passion towards it. And if there’s no passion, then the readers won’t be able to connect with the story.
(copyright material) – Draft for Who We Were
You can never expect to see a nicely written draft from me. I believe that the messier the draft, a better written story will come out of it, because it shows that the ideas are pouring out of the head. It’s all about getting the ideas down than having neat handwriting at this point.
(some of my fancy notebooks from Paperchase)
Now it’s time to polish the draft from its mess and make it as perfect as possible. Yes, it’s time to proofread and edit. This process should not be rushed, but of course, it shouldn’t take too long either. I have three ways for this process. Firstly, read the entire story and edit out what is not needed or doesn’t make sense. Here is where I fix the mess and make it work. Don’t be afraid to edit out words/sentences. My advice is that it’s always better to have a well written story than to have it judged by its quantity. Secondly, read the entire story again, except that this time, you pay attention to the grammar. And thirdly, read the entire story once again and see how you feel with everything polished. You can, of course, re-read the entire story several times more until you are happy with it. For me, I do not take more than a month for this process, or else, I will keep finding irrelevant mistakes to edit. It does happen.
Off to the Fairy Godmother
Once I’m happy, or satisfied, with the polished draft, it’s time to send it off to my fairy godmother, also known as my editor, or fairy god-editor. Every author, or writer who wishes to publish a book, should have their own fairy god-editor who will add their magical touch to the draft to make it a finished product. Believe me, any great authors out there have their very own fairy god-editors, because when it comes down to it, we can never see our own mistakes. That’s when the fairy god-editors comes in and give the draft some magic. I could have the option to just send my fairy god-editor my unpolished draft, but then it wouldn’t seem like it would be my writing when it comes to the finished product. Having a fairy god-editor look through my works will enable me to learn from my mistakes and become a better writer.
For me, it’s always important to stay healthy and have a clear head when writing, especially that I tend to work till late nights and have little sleep. If I’m distracted or in a foul mood, it would be impossible to write. And when I’m writing, I always make sure to have some food and coffee with me wherever I work. Never go hungry writing. I always make my writing space a comfortable and happy one as it relaxes my head. I like to work in bed while listening to nineties hip pop music during the drafting period or early stages of a book. I can’t work in a quiet environment or else my mind would wonder. Also, the distractions at this stage serves as an inspiration. And when it comes to the ‘serious’ polishing stage, I work at my office desk with no distractions. It is also a good idea to do some exercise. Nothing too extreme if you’re not a working out person. Trust me, it’s another way to relax the body and mind. For me, I like to run or fast walk for forty minutes to an hour five times a week. Lastly, it helps to have a long shower or bath. I have a remedy where I use my favourite organic shower gel and scrub three times a week where it relaxes me and puts my mind in a happy place.
Remember, there is no right or wrong when it comes to the stages of writing. This is my way. Happy writing!
Well done to two of my fabulous authors, Vivian Head and Biddy Lee, for getting a 5-Star review on their children’s book, The Wanderings of William Whiptail.
Reviewed by Edith Wairimu for Readers’ Favorite
“Written by Vivian Head and illustrated by Biddy Lee, The Wanderings of William Whiptail follows the delightful and whimsical adventures of a mouse traveling to live with his cousin. William has lived in London for years now and longs for a break from the city’s hustle and bustle. Having to scuttle through the crowds and dodge a myriad of obstacles, London is becoming too much for him. He decides to embark on the long journey to the countryside. William realizes soon enough that his heavy luggage is only weighing him down. Leaving most of his things with a small homeless mouse, he moves on. The trip takes him to beautiful and wonderful sights, and dangerous routes with menacing predators amidst opportunities of magical wishes and a chance at love.
The work is told through captivating scenes and colorful illustrations which feature images that evoke imagination. The story is full of suspense as William leaves one place to go to the next and encounters different characters. While some are friendly, one character views him as a potential meal and many times he encounters dangerous situations. William’s access to three wishes adds to the suspense as anticipation grows in trying to find out how he will utilize them. In some ways, William is imperfect, sometimes prone to making up good tales. Different situations in the book also reveal his opinions of various characters. This makes him authentic and realistic. The Wanderings of William Whiptail is a captivating story whose twists make it even more entertaining.”
Even though William Whiptail is a children’s book, I can honestly say that even adults love it.
“I loved it and would recommend for children and adults.” – Amazon user
“This was such a delightfully sweet little book with wonderful illustrations. Even my elderly mother enjoyed reading it! – Amazon user
The sequel William Whiptail’s Words of Wisdom is now available.
(*Name has been changed for privacy purpose)
Recently, I came upon a post by a childhood friend from high school which caught my attention. The post was about growing old and creating a bucket list. It was inspiring to see the many things she wanted to do before she was forty years old. It wasn’t until last year (2018) when another one of my childhood friends, *Grayson, from America came to visit me in London that our long spirited conversations got me thinking about creating my own bucket list. You see, Grayson and I go way back. We met at a young age at the beginning of our teenage years. Our mothers were good friends, and she was right with me by my mother’s dying bed. She was like a second mother to me. Ever since then, I somehow see my mother in Grayson and his mother, as strange as that may sound. So when he visited me and we both reminisced about our childhood days in Bangkok, I somehow thought about my life and how I wanted to live it. That was when I thought about life in general. There were many things I wanted to do, especially one that is at the very top of the list, and that is a road trip in America. However, this road trip is different than the one you may have in mind. It will be a nineties, Chevy Chase’s National Lampoon, the movie Road Trip, American Pie kind of road trip starting from San Jose, California all the way to New York City. Grayson and his wife will be joining me on this trip. They had even come up with a rough plan on the routes we would take and the states we would cross. I didn’t want to follow the famous Route 66. So with the help of Grayson and his wife, I am going to create my own route. My bucket list is going to involve stopping at the states we have to cross and doing something memorable. I have to be adventurous. For example, if we stop at Texas, I would have to ride the mechanical bull. Every day, I will document my trip on this blog and take many pictures along the way. And I will have a souvenir box filled with memorable souvenirs from each state. How fun is that? This road trip will also mean a lot to me as my father had wanted to take me on a trip to New York before he was to retire. Sadly, he passed away when I was eighteen before he could retire. My parents loved America, and they have been traveling there since before I was born. So in honour of them, I will be bringing a special framed family picture along with me. It would be like they are with me on the trip. It is what they would have wanted. The framed picture is almost twenty years old, and my mother put the pictures inside it herself. It hasn’t been opened or rearranged. Her touch still remains within the frame.
This road trip will not be my first. When I was really young, we had a road trip during the winter season from San Francisco to Florida and then Washington DC. From there, the road trip finished, and we flew to New York for the rest of the vacation. For my road trip, I want to travel during the spring or summer.
Starting from today, I will keep my bucket list open, meaning I will keep adding the things I want to do to the list and the states I wish to cross. Rather than have a confirmed list, I am going to list down the things I hope to accomplish. And those of you who have any ideas as to what I can do, please share. I do not know the exact states I will be crossing, but any ideas beforehand would be thought of and appreciated. The trip will not be anytime soon, but it will definitely happen. Three years tops at this moment.
1) Meet Mr R.L. Stine (and also try to write as many books as him in life)
I grew up reading books by Mr R.L. Stine, and I particularly fell in love with the Fear Street series. Mr Stine isn’t just a favourite author of mine. His books means a lot to me. And even though I am fan of other authors, Mr Stine is different as I grew up feeling a connection to his works. Even my mother encouraged me to read his books. Sadly later in my teens, I had to give away my many collections. But that still didn’t stop me from getting inspired by his works. It wasn’t until recently that I started retrieving his original Fear Street series on Ebay. It is hard, as not all of the titles are available on sale. Some I had to pay hefty price for it, but it was worth it. I mean, it’s Mr Stine we’re talking about.
I hope I get the chance to meet Mr Stine somehow. I will do my best to see if there is an event at the time of my trip, a meet and greet possibly. It would be a dream come true and to have him sign some of the original format Fear Street books.
2) Mechanical bull ride
Why not? You sometimes see it in movies and it does make me wonder if it’s really difficult to ride one. It is something very ‘American’ and I plan to do it. Besides, I wouldn’t find the mechanical bull anywhere else in the world. And I plan to ride the bull with a cowboy hat on. It’s the right way to do it. To be honest, I am terrified as I don’t want to break my neck falling off, but then again, it is once in a life time American experience.
3) New York University (NYU)
There was a time when I wanted to go to college/university in America. Even though I was attending a British international school, I still wanted to further my studies in America. I wanted to attend NYU and study either English or Law. But little did I know my path in life would change and I would end up going to London town. However, it would be nice to have a brief visit to NYU just to see the place where I could have ended up.
4) New Orleans
I have never been to New Orleans, but I’ve known of its unique and vibrant party atmosphere in the French Quarter on Bourbon Street and would like to experience it. For those of you who don’t know, I love to write about ghosts and the world beyond, and I do believe in that existence. Therefore, I wouldn’t mind visiting some voodoo witchcraft shops and have a spiritual reading done.
5) Visit a Gilmore Girls and American Pie kind of town/neighbourhood
I am a huge movie fan, and I like watching…and re-watching films and TV series addictively from the eighties, nineties and early twenties, particularly Gilmore Girls, American Pie and National Lampoon. There is something about the scenery and settings that always captures my attention. It makes me want to be there. Maybe what I see on TV is different from reality, but I rather experience it for myself.
6) San Francisco
(my parents in San Francisco way before I was born)
San Francisco was my parents’ favourite American state because of its calmness. I especially like the houses that line up along the steep road/hill. While in San Francisco, I would like to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge a few times. I always get mesmerized when I see the bridge on TV. There’s always something about it that makes me feel drawn to it. I guess visiting San Francisco will be in a way for my parents. I am going there on their behalf.
7) Rocky Mountains
Just like with the Golden Gate Bridge, I get mesmerized by the American wilderness, especially with its pine trees.
Ok, this was Grayson’s idea. Chicago is Grayson’s home ground, and I was told by him that we HAD to stop over in Chicago. It’s not optional. I have never been to Chicago, therefore, I can’t say much.
Driving through a desert was inspired by me by Chevy Chase’s National Lampoon series.
10) New York City
I want to take a picture with the frame at the exact same spot where the picture above was taken.
New York will be the last stop where my road trip ends. I will then spend about a week there before heading back home to London. During my time in New York, I would like to stop by The Hamptons. I am a bustling city person, and I have always loved New York. I can’t live without the hectic city life around me.
During one night, I would like to dine at one of those elegant restaurants that plays lively, romantic and classy Frank Sinatra kind of music. I find that this kind of atmosphere suits and defines New York. New York, New York.
Well, that is all for part one. They will be more to come as the list grows and the adventure continues…
It is that wonderful time of year again (no not Christmas) where I wish my blog a Happy Anniversary. Seven years ago around this time, I started my blog. I remember feeling timid and scared. What would bloggers think about my writing? What can I even write about? What if the blog is a failure? What if I make an embarrassment of myself? Even though these thoughts were flying in my head, I still knew I had to give it a go. If it didn’t work out for me, then so be it. And so, I wrote my very first blog post. It was about the London 2012 Paralympics and how it gave me inspiration and hope for my son. Once it was posted, I didn’t know what to expect. How would I know bloggers were going to read it? Or how would I know if it was a failure? Few minutes later, I had my answer. Bloggers began to like my post. It wasn’t a huge traffic, but still, it meant something to me. People were actually reading my blog. And from then onwards, it did not stop. There have been a few bloggers who have become my genuine online blogger/author friends since the beginning till this day. So as a little celebration, I would like to share with you some memorable posts.
Chinese Rice Balls
Yes, the famous Chinese Rice Balls post. I’d even posted a few posts on it, including one on how to make them. I have a friend in Malaysia who always made them in glorious colours which inspired me to have mines coloured, although not as glorious looking as hers.
Blogger of the Year 2013
I received Blogger of the Year 2013 not long after launching my blog. It was such an honour. As a writer, author, blogger, I always want to remain humble about what I write. I didn’t want to make this blog a ‘business’ or ‘work’ place. I wanted bloggers to see the real me. The blog is where I make mistakes and not have to worry about sounding commercial. It is a place for me to be ME. I especially love it when bloggers reach out to me with their thoughts about anything and everything. So feel free to reach out.
A Chinese Christmas Carol
A Chinese Christmas Carol was my very first published book. Back then long before I launched my publishing house, I did quite a few posts on the book. There were many topics I could write about regarding the book, like its background story and characters, which allowed me to draw away from the book itself. The plot of the story is a sad one, and it was inspired by a true story. There were times when I found some ‘things’ hard to write, but I still wanted to let it out. And best of all, I had the support of the bloggers. So thank you. Little did I know that I would later on decide to bring out a new edition to the book and turn it into a series.
I studied art and design at university, and one of the projects I had to do was to come up with a creative gift to give to a favourite person. Back then, Amy came to mind when I was given the project. At first, it took me a while to come up with a creative gift, and the chocolate idea was last minute when I saw an empty chocolate container laying on my bedroom floor. The chocolates were made into shapes/items that symbolizes the connection in life I had with Amy. In the end, it only took me one night to make my ‘chocolates’ out of play dough and have it painted with brown acrylic. When I had to present it to the entire class, most were impressed by my idea. Some even told me that they had wanted to ‘steal’ and eat the ‘chocolates’.
Who We Were
Who We Were is my first book that was launched at the same time as the publishing house. It was supposed to be a stand alone book to begin with. Then shortly after it was published, I had friends, family and some fans asking if there was going to be a sequel. After much thought, I decided to make it a trilogy before later making it into a five-book series. When I sent the book for review, I didn’t expect much as I didn’t want to be disappointed. Two weeks later, I received the five-star review. No words could describe how I felt.
Blogging101 – My Sexy People
Blogging101 was an online blogging university to help bloggers blog and engage better with one another by completing one blogging task a day for a short period of time. I found the tasks enjoyable and always looked forward to the next. On my third task (day 3), I had to engage with other bloggers by selecting a few and describing their blogs. I then had to follow back a few other bloggers and explain the reason why I chose them. It was a very engaging task which I thoroughly enjoyed, and I had even made a few blogger friends along the way. Sadly, Blogging101 had to shut down.
So I have presented some of my memorable and favourite posts, although all my posts are my favourite. I look forward to the next anniversary with more memorable posts to share.
The well-loved English mouse, William Whiptail has finally arrived back in town, and he can be found in most major bookstores, especially Waterstones and Blackwell’s in UK and Amazon.
William Whiptail is so pleased when he finds a new friend to share his next adventure with. He wants to search for the Book of Knowledge because he has one very important question to ask it. Can it help William in his quest?
I am so excited to be representing this children’s book for the second time and having to work with the remarkable Vivian Head and Biddy Lee. Rumours has it that William Whiptail might become an ongoing series…
For those of you who have read it, please don’t forget to share your thoughts. I’m sure Mr Whiptail would be glad to hear from his fellow reader friends. Happy reading!
For those of you who have followed me from the very beginning will know that it was a long road for me to build my publishing house. And in the end when it was finally done, I was excited. There were so many stories in my head that were swirling all at once like a tornado, ready to be published. At that time, I wanted to stand out as a different kind of publisher. But I didn’t know how. It wasn’t until recently that I noticed most of my inspiration has a common Chinese theme. It has always been right in front of me. I just never realized it.
I grew up in a Chinese-Malaysian family and was brought up in the English international field. However, my mother did not want me to lose touch of my Chinese roots, so at an early age, she would fascinate me with everything about the Chinese culture, including its culture, traditions, beliefs, myths and ancient legends. And when I began writing at an early age, I combined many of my then-already thriving imagination with those from my Chinese inspired imagination.
So it wasn’t until recently that I found a niche in the publishing market, and that’s turning my publishing house into one that mainly publishes and represent stories of both English and Asian Chinese themes. It is the best of both worlds, just like my background. Although I am open to other genres, there is a limitation.
I am always finding new ways to improve on anything that has to do with writing and publishing, and I and glad one of that was finding the perfect niche to my publishing house. I hope my fellow readers will continue to join me on my forever ongoing writing and publishing journey and enjoy the stories I have to offer.
Until next time, happy reading with love!