Sweeping Motions

This is the first post I’m writing as a direct result of a writing prompt, just like I mentioned in my last post.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Sweeping Motions.”

To save you a click, the prompt is:
“What’s messier right now — your bedroom or you computer’s desktop (or your favorite device’s home screen)? Tell us how and why it got to that state.”

What’s messier? Definitely my desk. I think I’m an organized person, but for the life of me, I can’t seem to keep my desk or room clean. I know where my things are, but they’re all strewn about. Take a look.

01 Messy Desk

If you think my table’s bad, take a look at my side of the room (I share a room with my brother).

02 Messy Room

Yeap. My place is barely organized. I don’t think organized is even the right word. Hmm… probably something more like… “functional”. Yes. My place is functional. Like I said, I know where things are if I need them, but I probably don’t need half these things. I really should throw out or donate a lot of my stuff. I guess part of the reason why I haven’t done so is because I’m lazy, and I treat this as a temporary situation.

See, whenever I envision getting my own place in the future, be it a house or just a room, I see it extremely neat and fully organized, nearly OCD-like. A place for everything and everything in it’s place, constantly “updating” my room, getting rid of stuff I don’t use, never having more than I need, and systems to replace consumables. Sort of the way I treat all my virtual items.

If my physical space is untidy, my computer data is anything but. Just take a look at my desktop.

03 Desktop

Ahh… I always feel so peaceful when I start up my laptop and see my streamlined and clutter-free desktop, not to mention the awesome wallpaper of my idol. I use all the icons there on a regular or semi-regular basis, and they’re all organized by their location.

Upper left is for general tools, like the recycle bin, video and audio editor. Bottom left is my work tools, for programming. Sublime is my editor of choice, because it supports multiple languages and changes the colour of keywords. Very useful. Xampp is my local server to help me test web pages I build. Git Bash is my access to Github, an online version control service. And Putty. Hmm. Actually I forgot what Putty is. A simulator I think? I guess I’m not as organized as I said I was XD

The upper right corner is for my games and game services: Magic, Dota and Hearthstone. Nothing else. I haven’t actually used any of my MTG software recently, come to think of it… Anyway, my bottom left corner is for random files and folders I want to temporarily store before either deleting or moving to a permanent location.

If you look at it, my whole left side consists of tools, and my whole right side is for entertainment. Fitting, as far as left-brain/right-brain stuff goes, don’t you think?

And if my desktop is organized, the apps on my phone definitely show my ultimate OCD side.

04 Mobile Device Folders

Every icon is classified in a folder (except the Singtel Menu, I’ll get to that). All the folders are arranged in alphabetical order. Even my icons in the folders are arranged in alphabetical order.

Every. Single. One.

I swear.

The Singtel Menu app icon is outside because it never stays in a folder. Every time I power down my phone and restart it, the icon pops right out of whatever folder I put it in. Eventually, I got annoyed and didn’t bother with it anymore. I never use it and I have no idea what it’s for. And frankly, I don’t care.

If I take a step back and look at everything, I guess I can see why I’m organized in some areas and messy in others. I bought my laptop and mobile phone on my own, with my own money (okay, Dad subsidized my laptop), so I exert full control over those objects.

On the flip side, I was given my desk and room, i.e. I didn’t control them, so I don’t feel as strong a sense of ownership over them as I do for my laptop and phone.

Note: Wow. That was a really good prompt. I had a lot to say, pictures to show and I even finished this whole post (including taking of pictures and doing a once-over for mistakes) in half an hour, just in time for me to leave for my next event. This was a really good idea.

-Jace

Prompt King

As I mentioned in my last few posts, I’ve been having a bit of trouble thinking up more content to write about. I’m barely maintaining my three posts a week with no buffer posts saved up at all. It’s been quite hectic, scrambling at the last minute to write stuff. In fact, I actually wrote most of this post in the middle of lunch on Monday. I was attending a steamboat lunch as part of an event for the Mapping Unit and I was bored.

Yeah, okay, I’m not as disciplined as I’d like to be. I’ve been playing a lot of Hearthstone and Ingress and learning to code iOS apps. XD

It’s not that I’ve totally run out of ideas; I have a few posts in draft mode with a basic skeleton. I just lack the motivation to write in advance. Okay there’s one I’m writing that I can’t post yet, because it’s a summary of the mission series I’m doing on Ingress, which we’re doing part by part because it’s too big to do in one day.

But! I have a solution. I recently searched for writing prompts and exercises and I found this WordPress site that had tips and lessons for writing and blogging. I followed it at first, but I didn’t really like the other posts it was sharing; only the Daily Prompt section. It has a lot of good tips and lessons on writing, blogging and poetry, so it’s quite educational, just not for me. I’m going to take the writing prompts and start, well, writing them as blog topics.

I’d like to execute this in a three part system. First, I’m just going to browse through old topics and see what tickles my fancy. In fact, I already have one topic I’ve bookmarked to write about. I’m just looking for topics that I can actually write about. This reason will make sense later.

Once I feel comfortable enough to write random prompts or I exhaust all the “usable” prompts on the site, I’ll move on to actually writing about the daily prompts. I doubt I’ll have something to say about every topic that they share. At least, not enough to fill what I consider a good post. I write about 500-1000+ words per post and, while word counts do not solely represent the quality of my posts, they do reflect the effort I put in to write them, which is what I want to feel. Anyway, since I probably won’t have much to say on every prompt and I don’t post daily, I’ll combine several prompts into one post, one prompt after another, and see how long I can maintain that.

The last challenge to myself will be to combine the prompts into one single cohesive post; a mix of the different prompts into one single story. I’m probably gonna write a fictional story because that would give me a wider area to explore, although I do admit personal recounts are easier to do. Ah well, maybe I’ll just do the prompts that I have experiences to share normally, then combine the ones I don’t to form a fiction piece.

Now that’s something I look forward to doing.

-Jace

HabitRPG

HabitRPG is a mobile game app that allows you to track your habits and turn them into game actions that earn you gold and level up your character. Essentially, it turns your life into a role playing game where you play, well, yourself. It’s not new, it’s been around for at least a year. I downloaded it last year, but never started using it until recently. I’ve been using my physical notebook to keep track of things I needed to do, so I didn’t see the need to split or duplicate my tasks then.

I’m not sure why I actually started using it. Perhaps I was just bored. I still keep my notebook as a todo list, but I’ve started tracking my habits and using the HabitRPG Wiki to figure stuff out. If you’re a noob, like me, then you really should use the wiki, because there’s a lot of useful tips and tricks and also because I don’t feel it’s intuitive enough. For example, I didn’t know how to delete habits in the previous versions, which is why I didn’t start using it the moment I downloaded it.

The app came with a couple of stock habits (I can’t remember what) that I wanted to delete because I like starting with a clean slate. It was only in one of their updates did I find out you could swipe to bring up the delete option and I felt like a fool. But it seems I wasn’t the only one; the makers of HabitRPG added in a specific and more obvious button to delete habits because their users (i.e. me) weren’t finding the swipe feature.

I’ve played around with the app for slightly over a month now and I still don’t find it intuitive. It’s appealing as a habit tracker and time management tool, but I don’t really get the RPG feel of it. Sometimes, whenever you complete a habit, you can find things like food and potions. Sometimes you’ll get an egg, which can be hatched into a pet, which can then be fed with food until it grows into a mount. I don’t know if the pets/mounts serve any purpose other than for collecting and making your avatar look awesome. I did find out that you had to feed food that’s the same colour as your pet though. Well, you can feed your pet any edible thing you have, but if you feed it something that corresponds to it’s colour, it will grow faster.

The wiki also taught me how to use markup language to create titles to section off my habits, and this is what I’ve got so far.

01 Habits Part 1 02 Habits Part 2

Habits are directional, meaning they can be positive or negative. Being my OCD self, I arranged them in alphabetical order, starting with negative habits. Some habits are mono-directional (only good or only bad) or multi-directional (good if you do it, bad if you don’t).

Sometimes the dinner that is given to us by SAF while we’re on duty is either horrible or too little, so we have to order in. SAF says they spend about $5 per meal for us; I say give us the cash, we’ll order our own food. My usual order is exactly $5 anyway and it comes nice and hot. This habit is currently my only multi-directional habit for now. It’s good if I eat the SAF dinner because I save money, but bad if I don’t because it means I’ll order in and spend money. Having ice cream and milkshakes are self-explanatory, since they’re purely for enjoyment and resisting the urge to eat these treats don’t result in any immediate positive outcome.

The rest of my habits are mono-directional because there’s no direct flip side to not doing the habit.

I need to get back my pull-up strength again, so I’m doing my best to do 20 cumulative pull-ups a day. Well, cumulative in one session, not throughout the day; that would be lame. It’s a quick exercise I can do outside of camp as well, when I come back home from an outing or meal. I recently started doing the 7-minute workout as well (another app) and I quite like it. It’s high intensity interval training (HIIT) and after I did the first session, I actually felt a slight ache in my muscles over the next day, which was good. So far, I’m only doing one 7-minute block each session, but I’ll probably increase it as my fitness level goes up.

The good thing about the app is that it doesn’t lie to you, like some commanders in the SAF do. Ten seconds is really ten seconds in the app, not ten seconds per person. “One more set” is really just one more set, whether or not it’s up to the commander’s standards.

Okay, I’m venting. *breathe breathe*

Due to my asthma, I still can’t run for long periods of time. I can do short one to two km bursts, but that’s about it. I’ve also lost a lot of my stamina because of this. I don’t do parkour as often as I used to, but I’m still keeping up with my tricking, like kicks and handstands.

Since I started this blog, I’ve lost a lot of my fire. I still like writing, just not as much as I used to. Putting it down as a habit gives me a little more motivation to write, although the thought of missing a day is enough to keep me writing more for now (more on this next post). Also, +1 for me for finishing this post XD

The last habit I have is actually a learning session. I’m learning how to do iOS app programming, since my mentor Mr Sim passed me his old Macbook Air. They’re video chapters, and very step-by-step, which is what I need in order to learn. I like this way of learning; copying someone who knows what their doing before eventually understanding enough to make my own adjustments.

There are more functions to the app, but I don’t really understand a lot of it and I don’t plan to use many of those features either. I feel that the app is more tool than game, but maybe that’s a beginner’s bias. I’d like more game features, like actively fighting monsters, having mini games, or even moving around in a game world, but perhaps that might defeat the point of the app.

-Jace

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling twenty-two

Another year has passed and, although I’m not religious, I feel like I’ve been very blessed in many things that have happened to me, as well as in my own personal endeavours.

Really, a lot of good things have happened over the last year and my life has been very easy and relaxed. I haven’t encountered a problem that I couldn’t solve or didn’t know where to find help. There were a few hiccups regarding some relationships with my friends and acquaintances, but there were valuable lessons to be learnt from those.

So I’m now “Mr Perfect Life”.

That’s a running joke in my Life Builder Group (LBG) now. This group was formed after our Patterns of Excellence (POE) course about one and a half years ago (June or July 2013 I think). Actually, this particular group was formed because our original groups had dwindled down to just a handful of people. My original group consisted of eight members (including me), but we dropped to just three, so we found two of our fellow course mates whose group had also experienced a decline in numbers, and formed the current LBG we have now. I think we’ve been together since January 2014 and, although some of us can’t make it to the monthly group meetings sometimes, we’re still a solid group.

LBGs are formed after each POE course as a way for each person to share their goals and also for us to push one another to achieve them. We talk about the challenges we face, share successful moments or life experiences and give each other moral support and advice. The meetings also provide us with opportunities to practice the skills we’ve learnt in POE, such as reframing and goal setting. We used to have monthly meetings, but we’ve recently lowered the frequency to bi-monthly, because we felt that nothing much happens within a month.

Personally, I don’t use the LBG for any of these things, except for giving moral support and sharing things that have happened to me. I use it more for listening to and learning from the other members’ experiences. We’re all of different ages and from different backgrounds, so there’s enough diversity to keep things interesting. My point is, nothing has happened or is happening that I require help, support or advice for. Like I mentioned above: I’ve had no problems I couldn’t deal with. Most of the problems that the others face are communication-related, so I’m learning a ton of strategies from them. My plan for the future is to (hopefully) have a job that doesn’t require me to interact with many people. I’ll network and mingle with others without a paycheck on the line, thank you very much.

I consider myself the comic relief of the group and I treat our meetings more like a gathering with friends to catch up on one another’s lives than something serious (although it should be). One of my highest values is fun, so I do my best to keep things lighthearted. If we’re going to do something, we might as well find a way to enjoy doing it, right?

NS is the biggest thing in my life now and it’s very relaxing. For now, anyway. Being a Security Trooper is probably the best way one could serve his NS time and I was doubly lucky to be posted to a camp with comparably little traffic and less uptight atmosphere. Our commanders are really nice and approachable. Apart from the food, there is literally nothing I can complain about. Since we take turns to do our duties, most of my time in camp is spent relaxing; sleeping, eating, exercising, watching shows, etc. I have this comfortable life until July, when I have to go back for NSTT (I forget what it means; NS Transition Training? LOL). Now that I’m permanently PES C, I don’t have to worry about a lot of things, like IPPT, or reservice. After that, I’ll finally be out on September 4th.

Life will probably become a lot more interesting then.

Because of the lack of challenges, I’ve been setting myself projects to do. Remember the Kiss Experiment? Not to mention maintaining this blog, learning new freerunning tricks, organizing activities, and coding (I’m currently teaching myself Python and iOS programming). It’s not like I’ve been lazing around doing nothing productive (well, okay, I’ve done that too XD).

So this is me: Mr Perfect Life.

-Jace

Milk & Honey – Artisan Yogurt and Dessert Bar

On Monday, my friend Lisa and I went to Milk & Honey at OneKM mall to have frozen yogurt, or froyo. She’d found a 1-for-1 Groupon deal last week and showed it to me. The parfaits looked really delicious, so we took advantage of the deal and decided to go for it together. For some reason, no one else we know seems to like froyo.

01 Groupon Deal

When we arrived, the place was empty, so we were served immediately and had our choice of seats. Hooray for picking a Monday to avoid the crowds XD The place was well lit and quite peaceful while it was empty, though that changed while we were about halfway through our froyos and more people started queuing up. Lisa and I sat inside Milk & Honey’s air-conditioned seats, but there were also shaded outdoor dining areas as well. In hindsight, we probably would have sat outside because the froyo was quite cold and we stayed long enough for Lisa to start shivering a little.

Anyway, I had the Coffee Addict and Lisa chose the Matcha.

02 Coffee Addict and Matcha

Lisa’s Matcha came with a biscuit stick covered in white chocolate. Since she didn’t like white chocolate, she gave it to me. She said that white chocolate is fake chocolate and I’m inclined to agree. I don’t hate white chocolate, but I don’t like it very much either. I prefer dark chocolate because it’s more “atas” (Singlish for “high class”). Lisa argued that milk chocolate can also be atas and just like that we had a running joke: everything was atas now. I was comparing these froyos to the ones I usually have at Yoguru and saying that these were more atas, to which Lisa pointed out that the price was also just as atas. *snigger*

My Coffee Addict was awesome. I started digging in with froyo and the coffee sauce, which actually complemented each other quite well. I’d expected a stronger coffee taste, but it was pleasantly mild. I could taste the froyo first, then the lingering coffee aftertaste. The dark chocolate triangles were nothing fancy, just straight up dark chocolate (yum!). The brownie bits also provided a nice chewiness to offset the froyo texture. I ate the bits without walnuts in them and gave the rest to Lisa, kind of like in trade for her white chocolate biscuit stick. The Coffee Parfait (apparently, “parfait” has multiple meanings) also quite nice, although I don’t think it flows with the froyo. Probably better as a breather between mouthfuls of yogurt. The coffee taste was also quite mild, and the texture was similar to that of a mousse.

…now I want a chocolate mousse.

Nomming mouthful after mouthful, I reached the next layer: coffee jello. I had no idea what to expect, so I just popped one jelly cube in my mouth and chewed. At first, I could barely taste the coffee, then the coffee bitterness hit me as I mushed the jello. The taste wasn’t exactly strong per se, just weird. I think it was put in as more of a texture thing, but I think the brownie bits do a better job. Finally, the last part was the coffee ganache, which was AMAZING! It’s kinda like the chocolate sauce on a Macdonald’s Sundae, but coffee flavoured. This ganache went extremely well with my partially liquid yogurt for a very, shall we say, tasteful finish. :P

I had a bit of Lisa’s Matcha as well, but I didn’t really like it. Okay, the vanilla sauce gave the froyo a distinctly ice cream feel, which was nice, and the delightful little chocolate balls exploded with flavour in my mouth, but the green tea crumble wasn’t really my thing.

03 Milk & Honey Menu

These parfaits are Milk & Honey’s signature parfaits, which was what this Groupon deal was limited to, but you can actually customize your toppings, like any decent froyo shop.

04 Design Your Own Parfait

In summary, I feel that froyos at Milk & Honey are sit-and-enjoy desserts, whereas those from Yoguru are on-the-go treats.

-Jace

Style Points

After writing this blog for over a year, I’m actually starting to notice and kinda feel out my own style. I’m not talking just about my writing style, but also my personality. Like, see, I’m hyper aware of what goes on inside my head. I think I have a higher-than-average level of internal awareness. I’m aware of most of the words that come out of my mouth, the thoughts in my head, and I can foresee most immediate repercussions of my actions.

I talk to myself all the time, internally and out loud. Speaking out loud helps slow down my thought process to give me more time to actually understand or work out what I’m saying/thinking. This blog is the only online place in which I don’t censor my thoughts much, although I do make them as tactful as I can. Everywhere else, I’m quite private. Like on Facebook, my settings are “Friends Only” and my birthday is hidden.

01 Birthday on Facebook

The reason I hide my birthday is because I hate “fake” people. I believe that the effort of remembering someone’s birthday should be my responsibility, not Facebook’s, and I hold that expectation for everyone else as well. If someone is important to you, then you should bother to remember little things like birthdays. Everyone who wishes me “Happy Birthday” because Facebook reminded them just feel very fake to me, and the wish loses it’s meaning. It’s not the reminder that gets me; it’s the seeming lack of effort. When someone wishes me a happy birthday, I’d like to know that they remembered it themselves, by whatever effort they took (jotting it down, setting their own reminder, etc), and not by a hint that I left for the world to see.

The birthday thing works the other way too. Just as I hate fake people, I really dislike coming off as fake (unless, of course, that’s what I want to portray for tactical purposes). I actually do make the effort to remember my friends’ birthdays (I can rattle of most of them off the top of my head), and I do set myself reminders as well. Okay, so maybe this is unfair because I don’t have many friends, but my point is made: I love the friends I do have. The thing is, when I wish someone a Happy Birthday and it turns out that their birthday is stated on Facebook, I feel like my wish is diminished by the sea of wishes that flood their wall. I see my own wish as fake, and thus I feel like the recipient feels it’s fake too.

I guess this is one of the bad things about me. I tend to assume the worst in people. It’s a very defensive move, because I’m constantly predicting what negative things they might do to me or someone or something I care about, and what measures to take to mitigate damage and protect them. That’s the voice in my head helping me to run scenario after scenario until my imagination runs wild. I have enough self-awareness to be able to NOT let it get to paranoia. That said, I’m extra cautious when I’m in a new setting and I always do my best to be as political as possible until I know who my enemies are. Sometimes I think about taking preemptive strikes, but I never actually take action until my target proves himself/herself to actually be a foe. Then again, by that time, it’s not preemptive anymore: it’s revenge.

Not that that happens a lot. 99% of my mental scenarios are just that: scenarios. There’s usually no malicious intent behind a small action, just some angle I hadn’t seen the situation from before. I’m aware of this, so even though I feel I’ve been wronged, I need to prove to myself that there is hostility behind the action before I proceed with revenge. I have a recent example.

In my guardroom, we have double decker beds and the bottom bunk is preferred because it’s easier to put the bed sheet. So we have an unspoken “early guy gets the bed” rule. I was able to get the bottom bunk first, so I put on the bed sheet before I started my sentry duty. When I came back, I found that one of the other guards had taken my bed. Of course, I was more than a little pissed; I had made the effort to put the sheet and staked my claim on the bunk already. But he was sleeping and I didn’t want to wake him up over something this small. It seemed petty to do such a thing.

So I waited til he woke up for his turn, then asked him to put the bed sheet on the top bunk for me, since he took the bottom one already. Reasonable, right? Turns out, he’d thought that one of the guards from the previous shift hadn’t cleared the bed sheet and blanket, so he’d cleared it and put on a new set. After that, I lost my feeling of vengeance.

My point is, I’d assumed the worst, but I managed to prove that he didn’t do it to spite me and therefore it doesn’t warrant my wrath. In the end I sucked it up and set up the top bunk myself without complaint. Next time I’ll be sure to make my dibs more obvious, but other than that, there were no repercussions.

See, I’m aware that I’m pretty selfish, and I think that’s a good thing. But I know that behaving like that is socially unacceptable. In many of my reflective blog posts (like this one), I tend to use the word “I” a lot. It’s something I’m working to change – not too much – just a little, so that I make sure that my selfishness doesn’t spill over into my real life when I deal with real people. Here it’s okay, because, after all, it’s my blog. But it does get very boring to write in first person for my fiction pieces, which is why I’m moving toward third person approaches.

I did have a reason for writing in first person. I thought it would be easier to do so, since I experience life in first person and I can imagine my characters in first person. I thought it would be better to narrate my “thoughts” in first person than in third. Also, I didn’t have to come up with a name for my protagonists, which meant I didn’t have to bother setting a nationality or race.

I have trouble with external specifics. I don’t want to get some fact “wrong” or be racist in any way, so I tend to avoid those situations altogether by not defining them at all. None of my fiction pieces have specific locations except the first THE story pair, which I only did because it was the basis of the story and because I was familiar with the actual location. The characters that I do name all have generic English names which only define gender. I don’t like doing non-English names because I feel like it messes with the aesthetics. The story is written in English, so it should have English names. (Don’t give me flak on the roots of names, thank you very much)

Aesthetics or, as it’s termed in Magic, flavour, is also a very strong point in my style. I like to make sure things make sense, even though they may not be actually possible in the real world. Like, magic has limits or a price, or there’s a theme I keep to. I just want to make sure everything in my fictional worlds is fair, or mirrored, so that nothing is too outrageous.

Because in my mind, everything is balanced.

-Jace

CC

THIS IS MY 200TH POST!!!

Hot damn, I’ve actually physically written 200 posts, including this one. So I probably should talk about what I’ve done since last year. Hmm…

Well, I’m quite happy that this blog is still very much alive and will continue to be, at least til I reach another major change in my life schedule. It’s still and will be filled with whatever I feel like writing. I think dropping down to three posts a week is a lot more manageable, although I have run out of buffer posts for lazy days XD At the point of writing this, it’s literally the last post I’ve written (am writing? will have written? I’m always confused about which tense to use :P), although I do have a lot more topics in draft mode.

I’ve found that personal recounts have been the easiest things to write. Like, duh, I’m just writing out what I did, with a few opinions sprinkled here and there. Posts I write that have a lot of emotion behind it (rage, sadness, etc) seem to be the next easiest. It always feels like the words just flow from my fingers. I don’t really have to think much about what I want to say, just how I want to say it. Of course, I always go back and make sure it’s as diplomatic as possible before I actually release it, unless I’m aiming to insult and injure.

Reviews were pretty tiring to do, because I found it difficult to balance how much should be summary of the context, how many spoilers I should reveal and how much of the post should be my actual opinions. Critiquing something, be it a book, or a movie, or even a person, is really not up my alley.

I’ve also discovered the joys (and pains) of writing fiction. Back when I was still doing a lot of R&D on love, dating and relationships, I created a series called Through His/Her Eyes (THE) which was supposed to be story pairs about how couples I knew in real life actually got together. Well, each story isn’t a hundred percent true; I make stuff up to fill in the gaps. The point was to write something around a kernel of truth. So far, I’ve written three story pairs, but I’ve lost interest in writing them.

I also started and shelved a trilogy I was writing – The Minders Trilogy. I thought I had a cool concept that interested me enough to build a story around: superhuman mental abilities. But I sorta scrapped it, partly because I was in NS Monday to Saturday and partly because I felt it was a bit too ambitious for me. I’ll return to it in future, perhaps rewrite the whole thing, but for now, no more chapters will be coming out anytime soon. If I’m honest, the lack of appreciation for the whole project was a factor as well. I mean, no one is missing my work. There’s no incentive for me to continue. I know I started writing it just because I wanted to, but I guess some support would have been nice.

The most recent fiction project I’ve started is Birthday Stories – short stories I write in dedication to my friends’ birthdays. So far, I’ve done two – True Blue and Slice of Life. My inspiration for this project was actually drawn from three blogs I follow. Not surprisingly, all three are authors in their own right.

K. Jered Mayer, who writes Word Whiskey, actually does write birthday notes. I always enjoy his flash fiction, although he hasn’t done one since December. He’s been busy writing an actual book, As the Earth Trembles, part three in The Convergence Trilogy. He shares a lot of life experiences which are very insightful for me. But no matter what he writes, I can always count on them being nice, long, entertaining reads.

Lynette Noni, Australian author of the newly released Arkarnae, shares a lot on her life and journey as an author, as well as writing tips. She’s really funny and knows how to use memes appropriately, which always gets a laugh from me. I think it was from her that I learnt how to create a mystery; a reader is should be able to jump in the middle of a story and want to keep reading. I can’t remember exactly where I read this from, but I think it was her. The closest post I could find was this one. It’s probably not the exact quote, but my takeaway was huge. I suddenly understood why I shelved the Minders Trilogy: I’d spent too much time building and establishing the world. It stagnated and even I got bored of writing it.

This lesson was very apparent when I read Angela Floratos’ snippets. She writes at My College Odyssey and this was her first snippet. I finally understood that I wasn’t supposed to spoon feed everything to my readers. If the reader just jumped into the story knowing neither head nor tail, like Angela’s snippets, then he/she is more likely to want to find out why. At least, I felt that way. This was how I needed to pique the reader’s curiosity.

During my sentry duties, I have a lot time to just sit there and think. Sometimes I get cool ideas that I can build around, like the sapphire that vibrates when a lie is told to it’s wearer, or the knife that heals your injuries if you cut yourself with it. These two things were the basis of the birthday shorts, and my first attempts at creating mysteries and questions, leaving the rest up to the reader’s imagination.

It was in writing these stories that I discovered that writing in third person is a lot more comfortable for me than writing in first person. I tend to use the word “I” a lot, which I’m acutely aware of even in these personal blog posts and I’m doing my best to stop sounding so selfish. Also, there are more pronouns to use in third person.

Oh, and in case you didn’t notice, the title of this post is the number 200 in roman numerals.

-Jace