Author: sajeffrey

I write YA fiction.

The unofficial #pitchwars mentee bio

I’m so nervous writing this post. I’m always nervous when it comes to writing because it’s like exposing my secrets. Exposing myself to the rest of the world that I am hideously flawed. Seriously, I’m like Mrs Bennett most of the time with all the jitters.

 

Anyway, let’s get the boring bits out of the way. I am 5ft2, and the smallest person in my group of friends. I am weak but I dream big. I even went to the army.

 

Me in the middle

Me in the middle

No, kidding. I just went for a 3 days taster. And I loved it. I felt like I could do anything and it gave me so much confidence about myself. I told my parents later on that I wanted to join the army. It didn’t go well. My grandma was in tears on the phone line begging me not to go. Meh . . . dramatics all of them.

Anyhow, I signed a contract on my future and studied to become an accountant. Because that’s what I do best. Y’know . . . swiveling on my chair and counting the time before I finish work.

^That’s also a joke (need to work on my sense of humour).

Studying was okay . . . 1382369_10200731883006183_468568730_n

 

But not when one of my modules was this cray-cray:

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Studying kinda broke my mind a little and I went nuts a few times. I didn’t have an outlet to get rid of all these negative thoughts inside me head. Some of my friends chastised me for jumping straight to ACCA professional without doing my degree first. It was a suicide mission.

 

So I started to dream. I created worlds in my head and lived there whenever I needed to breathe. After that, it became so easy to succumb into the universe inside my head whenever I wanted an adventure. I could feel it; my fingertips got tingly whenever I dreamt, and it was glorious.

 

Then one day, I rummaged through my old safe box which contained my diary, letters from penpals and old friends, and a notepad. I realised I wrote a frikkin novel when I was 12 years old.

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Okay, granted it was a Beyblade fanfiction (I’m still a huge otaku) but I realised one thing. I loved writing. And I could transfer this universe inside my head to paper. I could tell the whole world!

And thus I began my journey to a completely different future.

There were ups and downs when I couldn’t transfer the story in my head and break them into words. Words I found, were difficult to express. Which words to use, how to use them, how to weave them all into perfect sentences that can break people’s heart? Then, I read my old diary written when I was an emo teen. I was gobsmacked. Those words broke me. I remember the part when I was feeling depressed (hormones seriously man, give a girl a break, ja?) but I didn’t remember the details of my depression. I had a normal family and school life, so why I felt depressed? *points fingers at my ovaries* But my diary was an eye opener. The words were raw, gritty and full of pain that my hands shook. My handwriting was the usual at the beginning of the pages but it turned angrier and angrier until the paper ripped under the pressure of the pen and filled the empty spaces with angry scrawls. There were so many emotions spilled over the pages and I could feel them crawl up my skin.

I want to write like that. I want to bring life to words. So I practiced and practiced.

 

I wrote Blood Reign in three weeks.

I loved the story. I loved the world building; the transition between my heroine in her contemporary world to her falling into another world. It’s a medieval world infested with monsters and cruel people. I wanted to see how this heroine could fare against death and I wanted to see how she could overcome her fears and survive. I’m a bit sadistic (sorry, Alice). I loved inflicting pain to my characters before giving them a happy ending. I wanted to see how they strive to live on despite living in a world full of bloodshed. The story took me by a storm. I lived and breathed in it.

Map of 'Wonderland'

Map of ‘Wonderland’ (some names are incorrect since I changed it afterwards).

 

Here’s something weird about me. I LOVE gender bender. I love seeing girls dress up as the opposite sex and confuse people. I love to see how romance blossom and a lot of mishaps like a guy thinking he’s gay for liking another guy (who’s actually a girl pretending to be a dude).

I’ve watched tons of Asian dramas about gender bender (hana kimi is one of my favourite). I tried to find books about gender bender and there weren’t many *sadface* I only remember reading the Alanna series by Tamora Pierce and Scarlet, a Robin Hood retelling.

So I wanted my heroine to disguise as a man too. It would make the storyline a lot more interesting, what’s with people thinking that she’s a hero when she’s actually a girl. ‘Wonderland’ is also a world where men rule supreme. It’s very patriarchal and women are secondary class citizens, so it’s quite a funny twist to see how they look up to Alice.

 

Ok, enough of my ramblings. Let’s get to the important part.

 

Why should you have me?

Writing is NOT a hobby. I want to make this work. I want to quit my accounting job and become a writer because I love storytelling so much. I want to bring new adventures to the rest of the world, bringing magic to their mundane lives. I want to be Sandman, who can provide hopes and dreams. Blood Reign is dark. It’s full of violence, bloodshed and death. But it also shows hope at the end of a dark tunnel. It shows friendship, compassion, and sacrifice.

I worked very hard to get this MS to where it is now and I’d love to have a mentor who can help me grow further. Y’know, make me into a butterfly and all that. I have a very thick skin so I won’t mind seeing my work being shredded apart, as long as I can pick up the pieces and turn it into a more powerful story.

Regardless if I get a mentor or not, it has been a wonderful opportunity. I met new friends, new CPs and crazy people who I adore dearly. Thank you, Brenda Drake, mentors, agents, writers and everyone else for this opportunity and fantastic experience. You guys are so damn awesome!

Waffling about waffles

If you know any Malaysians (if you don’t know that I’m Malaysian, well now you know), then you should know that they love food. Malaysia is all about the food and we have so many different dishes all derived from 3 dominant cultures in Malaysia: Malays, Chinese, and Indians.

Anyway, I won’t talk about the food in Malaysia for now. Let’s talk about the food in Britain! UK is famous for their fish and chips and all those English things (I’m a huge tea drinker. The best tea I’ve drank is Tetley and Earl Grey).

In this particular post, I want to talk about waffles.

Btw, can you say this tongue twister?

A waffle with wafer voucher- tongue twister

Warden Watcher’s waistline
waited like a vulture to have a
waffle with wafer voucher
when his waitress,
wearing a western modern dress
with a velvetty strapped watch,
walked away with his water,
when time ran out and finally
Warden Watcher’s waistline missed the
waffle with wafer voucher as he had to visit
Waffing Wufflecupfor a velvetty visit to
waiters’ corner!

– See more at: http://allpoetry.com/poem/1563881-A-waffle-with-wafer-voucher–tongue-twister-by-lifeisjazzy#sthash.8fqkls2G.dpuf

My sister is currently making me waffles (because I won’t stop yapping about it) and I can smell the mushrooms mmmmm….

The best one I’ve eaten is from The Waffle House in Norwich. My parents studied there 20-something-years ago and they always went to the waffle house. So a couple of years ago, we drove there again to eat. And it was worth the 3 hours drive because those damn waffles were so yummy.

chocolate-mousse-waffle
Now before I leave to Malaysia, I had a desire to eat those waffles again but nobody wanted to travel 3 hours to eat waffles no matter how good they were.
So we found out that The Waffle House has another branch at St Albans which is only 1.5 hours drive away yippee.
We went a couple of days ago and I was excited to gorge on those waffles again but what did I get? Disappointment.

plain-waffle-with-chocolate

 

How the hell are they under the same brand and yet the quality of these two waffles were so damn different?

 

Anyway, next stop to my food tour is fish & chips. You can’t get them in Malaysia and the best fish and chips I’ve ever tasted is in Northampton.

Author blog hop

Whoop whoop! I was tagged in a writing blog hop by writer friend, Nikki Roberti. She is an incredibly talented writer so stalk her twitter, blog etc. I loved her MS, The Truth About Two Shoes (lovely title btw). If you’re interested, check out her blog post!

Once again, thanks for tagging me, Nikki! It’s convenient to write this blog post since #PitchWars is just around the corner. I’ll be discussing about the MS that I’ll be submitting for this competition.

So let’s have drum roll, please.

The MS is titled BLOOD REIGN. It can be considered as a dark retelling of Alice in Wonderland (which you can find out more about it under ‘writings’).

What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or historical?

Alice Kane is a seventeen-year-old girl and a fencing captain. This character is fictional.

When and where is the story set?

The story starts off in London, current time. This is before Alice’s mum got murdered, so when Alice is trapped between the killers and a cliff, she jumps.

But instead of death, she wakes up in an unfamiliar world. It looks medieval (no technology and everything is pretty much old-fashioned, but they have magic and monsters). I wouldn’t say Alice got sucked into the past, but rather, she got sent off to a different world.

What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

Hm, her falling into another world is one. Alice is horrified to find this world is infested with monsters and violence. She kills for the first time in her life and faces many deaths afterwards. So it kinda screws up her brain a little. Being in the midst of violence makes her realise that she likes to kill too. And the longer she stays in Wonderland, the more inhumane she’ll become. So Alice is terrified that slaying too many monsters (and bad guys) will turn her into a monster.

What is the personal goal of the character?

Her mother’s death is the inciting incident that leads up to her falling into ‘Wonderland’. Alice is a pretty stoic character. She doesn’t take much joy being in anyone’s company other than her mother.  So losing her mother is a terrible blow to her. It turns grief into vengeance, and she vows to avenge her mother’s death.

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But the problem is that Alice falls into Wonderland. She can’t deliver vengeance when she’s worlds apart. So Alice journeys to find her way home, and the more hatred she feels, the less human she becomes.

Note: This is not a revenge story. I know many writers told me to be careful of using revenge as the personal goal. Blood Reign is much much more than just a simple revenge. Initially, Alice’s goal is just about revenge, but she postpones her personal vendetta for other things: like fighting a war against the queen’s royal army.

 Is there a working title?

Yep, it’s called BLOOD REIGN. It serves as a standalone (but still leaves questions at the end) but in my head, there’s a lot more going on which I can’t fit in Blood Reign.

Where can we see more?

At the moment, I’m still in the querying trenches. Hopefully, we can see this book on the shelves one day. I still accept beta readers so if you’re interested, you can contact me 🙂

 

The next victims?

Mwahaha here are the next victims:

C.C Ford – I beta read her debut novel a while back and it was very interesting!

Anne Marie – My potential CP. She sent me her 1st chapter and the storyline was so damn interesting.

Kimberly Kay – She critiqued a couple of my chapters and thanks to her, my novel improved ALOT. My heroine is a fencer. Kimberly also happens to be a fencer. I’m not a fencer. So you can see where this goes. Kimberly helped me a lot with the technical details and some sword knowledge to give credibility to my story. Can’t do it without her! Plus, she also wrote a YA dystopian novel with such a lovely concept.

Why I wrote Blood Reign

I wrote this post under ‘Writings’ but I’ll also copy and paste it here.

The truth is, reality is cruel. It’s filled with violence and injustice. Look at the conflicts between Palestine and Israel. Thousands died in such a cruel, inhumane way. It’s injustice yet nobody is doing anything about it. Children die everyday in Africa due to poverty. The government is corrupted and only cares about wealth and power. The rich is living on the sufferings of poor people.

But what do people do? Nada. We are helpless most of the time. There are two types of people in this world: people with sympathy and people with compassion. You can sympathise with people facing injustice, but you won’t lift a finger to help them. Maybe it’s due to the lack of money, lack of power, and you might think that you alone won’t change a damn thing so there’s no point trying to help out.  Or maybe you’re just oceans apart.

Then, there are others with compassion. They can’t stand watching injustice so they try and contribute. They donate, go to protest march, fill out petitions, and raise awareness. They feel deeply affected and their hearts hurts from seeing pain. They want to make this world a better place.

I wrote this book because I want to shed hope in a world of darkness. Blood Reign is a fantasy story about a girl living in a contemporary world who faces injustice against her mother. To escape her mother’s killers, Alice jumps off a cliff but awakens in an unfamiliar world in the middle of a blood-soaked battlefield. Here, she journeys to find home but it’s not easy. For one thing, this medieval world is filled with injustice, violence and tons of innocent blood spilled to the ground. There are predators preying on humans and not just monsters, but also people itself: the evil queen, bandits, corrupted officials etc. Civilians live in fear all the time, and despair over deaths.

So Alice’s arrival brings hope. Because she is strong, brave, and even though she has many flaws (her penchant for blood lust), she is compassionate. She can’t stand seeing people in pain. She sticks up to them, save them when they’re in trouble even if it means her death. That’s not to say that she is perfect. Far from it. She breaks down after a fight. She’s racked full of grief because of her mother’s death. Sometimes she’s tired of fighting, and want the whole world to disappear. That’s where her friends comes in. Alice meets very interesting characters along the way: a kind-hearted physician and a runaway slave. They’re the ones who hold her when she falls apart. A hero isn’t just one person. It’s a bond. Friendship is a powerful tool because it gives hope and the will to live on when their lives are unbearable to live. Together, they can change the world.

 

Differences in blogging platforms

One of the difficulties when setting up a blog is choosing which platform to go for (the next difficult part is choosing the theme. It took me ages to pick one).

I’m by no means an expert but I have tried out all three: Blogspot, Weebly, WordPress. I’m more familiar with blogspot. I have my YA book blog on blogspot. It’s easy and very simple to use even for a tech retard like me.

But Blogspot’s layouts sucks. The free ones anyway (I’m a cheap skate). They’re absolutely hideous, and it makes me feel like an elementary schooler rather than a professional. You might get lucky and find some nice themes but if you’re prepared to spend ages on the internet looking for themes, then by all means go ahead. Since I’m an aspiring writer, having a clean-looking blog is always a plus.

 

So then comes Weebly. I’ve been told that Weebly is very easy to manage and has beautiful themes. So I tried it out. And I frikkin loved it!

 

It took a while to get used to the tools provided but once I did – wow! The things I could do on weebly was just awesome. They have tons of beautiful themes (and free whoop whoop!). Subpages are so easy to make, they have different types of pages I can choose (whether or not I want a header on top, small header or ‘landing’ page) and they also have a header generator. Seriously, it’s such a hot platform to use.

But one day after using it, I immediately noticed the problem.

 

NETWORKING SUCKS. This is a HUGE problem folks, because networking is an integral part of the process for writers. We need to connect with other writers, readers and everyone else in general. We need to use word-of-mouth and be part of that powerful writing community. We need friends basically. But weebly has no such tool (you’re such a fool, weebly!). We can’t communicate with other blogs by using our weebly usernames so they won’t be able to one-click straight to our author blogs. There are no option for followers. Sure, you can put on that subscription tool but it won’t be good enough. We need to be on people’s newsfeed in order to gain higher recognition.

 

So finally, I tried out WordPress. This is my first day using it and I’m loving it so far. It’s a bit harder to use; too many techy options and it’s not very direct. But if a tech retard like me can do it, I’m sure everyone can do it too. It only took me 10 minutes to get used to it anyway. The themes are a lot more professional looking. Mine’s pretty cool, huh? And it’s free 😀 And WP also has this option which you can connect directly to social media (facebox and twatter 😉 ) so whenever you publish a post, your twitter feed will automatically update with your WP post.

 

So there you have it! WP rules!