* The above image is taken from School of Management Sciences, Varanasi.
Once upon a time, if you needed to get some information about a particular subject, you had to either go to a book store or library.
Back then, I thought the retail staff who worked at bookstores were really cool. I remember this one time when I wanted to learn more about ninjutsu, the deadly art practised by the shadowy assassins known as ninja. That was during the latter half of the 80s, after the airing of the first American Ninja movie.
Because Google wasn’t around yet, I had to take a bus to get to the Times bookstore in my neighbourhood. The entire operation took more than an hour. I had to get down to the bus stop, wait for the bus, take the bus, pound the pavement and, after resting a bit to recover from the tropical heat, search for the the bookstore at the shopping center.
And when I finally reached the counter… Read the rest of this entry →
Gods of the Mountain, Book One in A Cycle of Blades has all the ingredients that make a fantasy novel interesting.
There’s an original magic system… I know, I know. In this day and age, with the massive number of fantasy bestsellers that have already flooded the market, is there even such a thing as an original magic system?
Maybe not. BUT in Gods of the Mountain, there are no long-winded arcane chants or hard-to-get herbal concoctions. Magical effects are instantly activated simply through mental visualization of the Lunari symbols. Pretty handy in a fight. With that sort of system in place, the mages-are-rear-line-support trope no longer holds true.
And that alone gives Gods of the Mountain a fresher look than most fantasy novels.
While we are still on the subject of magic, let’s talk about the gods. After all, they tend to show up when magic’s out and about. Much like rats in a food larder. Well, the gods in the mountain are selfish and whiny so I don’t feel like talking about them, but which bestselling fantasy novel worth its salt doesn’t have heroes or villains rising against the gods?
Much like Raistlin Majere, the ambitious anti-hero of the bestselling Dragonlance series, Gods of the Mountain too has a protagonist who breaks the rules and challenges the will of the gods. Unlike Raistlin though, Faulk, our protagonist, seems to do it out of the goodness of his heart. And unlike Raistlin, Faulk actually gets laid… Oh no! Spoiler alert! Spoiler alert!
But that brings us neatly to the romantic sub-plot. In one corner, we have Yuweh, the aloof and unattainable Messenger of the Lunari gods. She receives a mission to find and capture outsiders guilty of abusing their sacred symbols and journeys to the Tyrian city. In the other corner, also in the Tyrian city, is a former army officer laid low by the death of his former commander and father figure. He lives a life of crime, in squalor, a shadow of his former self. Oh yeah, he’s also one of the outsiders guilty of abusing the Lunari symbols.
Virginal priestess and broken hero. Naive cop and hardened thief. You can see where this is going, right? I don’t know about you but I really enjoy watching unlikely couples get together. And this particular trope also seems to appear frequently in popular Japanese manga.
And look, fans of blood and gore are not going to be disappointed! Because while Faulk warms himself by a naked priestess, a certain disgruntled former Messenger of the Lunari gods skulks around in the shadows as he pits his students, Kessler the Tyrian assassin and Pry the Inqusitor’s assistant, against one another.
As the two unleash the power of the Lunari symbols, hundreds of corpses pile up in the city. And here’s where the explanation for the series title comes in. Cycle of Blades. Because of all the flying swords that are used to create the corpses.
And that’s as far as my explanation goes. If you want to know how to make swords fly and why there’s a need to create mountains of corpses, go read the novel. You can purchase a copy from Amazon.
Loh Teck Yong
It all started with the Divine Disturbance on April 12, 2148, Some musicians revealed their alien forms at a public park and melded into a god form. The unleashed psychic energy caused weird phenomenon such as the dead rising and humans evolving into, well, better humans who could heal amazingly fast.
But all that really has very little to do with this novel. Even the zombies just function as mobile props. Sometimes they are shot at and sometimes they carry messages for secret agents. The role of zombies in this novel could easily be replaced by carrier pigeons really.
So don’t go expecting Birth to be just another apocalypse zombie novel. This is a novel about humans killing one another. Oh no, it’s not as boring as it sounds! When I say “humans”, I mean sewer-dwelling mutants with super strength and surgically enhanced surface-dwelling nerds. It’s as bloody and gory as it gets. Birth is, after all, set in a world where damsels get killed and shoplifters get sent to the chipper.
And Maxwell Quick? Don’t expect him to be yet another good-looking, strong and intelligent hero with good intentions to save the world. He doesn’t work out, drinks like a fish and is currently missing both his kidneys. And he has never saved a damsel in distress either. He just uses them for sex, the bastard.
As for his intentions… He was forced into helping the “good guys” (whoever they are) save the world from the “bad guys” (whoever they are).
It can get kinda confusing, sorting out the good from the bad.
If you like morally ambivalent drama, bastard anti-heroes and government conspiracies hatched in sewers, then you might enjoy Birth by S.T. Gulik. Birth and its sequel, Sex, can be purchased via links from the author’s website.
Loh Teck Yong
P.S.: To better enjoy this novel, please do read the glossary of terms BEFORE reading the actual novel. It can get frustrating at first, trying to figure out what is what and who is who.
* The above image is from Max Pixel.
Although there are a lot of writers who say that this industry is already as competitive as can be and what a writer doesn’t need is more rivals, I think there is room for cooperation. Especially among self-published writers.
And here, I will talk about the 2 most difficult hurdles a self-published writer has to overcome.
Shops Will Reject You
For starters, brick-and-mortar bookshops usually do not carry self-published books. I worked at a bookshop myself so I know everyone, my shop and our competitors, only carry books published by established companies. A small independent bookshop MIGHT deal with individual self-published authors but independent bookshops are dying so we can’t really depend on them.
So how can a self-published writer get exposure and sell his books? Well, other than bookshops, bookworms also head to writers’ festivals and similar events for their fixes. But these event organizers only invite established writers to hawk their stuff. So if you are an unknown writer with only one self-published title under your belt, you are not likely to be offered a spot at such events.
I thought to myself. Okay, what if a ragtag band of unknown writers pool their resources together and have their own writers’ festival? It’s impossible for one single writer to rent a venue and have his (or her) own writer’s festival. Because the costs will be sky high and who would come to an event that sells only one title published by only one author?
It’s a different story though, if a group of hitherto unknown writers suddenly band together to make their debut at an event. Possibly some gimmick will be needed to promote the event but that shouldn’t pose any sort of difficulty to a group of writers. Read the rest of this entry →
WHO AM I?
Hi, my name is Loh Teck Yong, a security guard who’s trying to make it as a professional writer.
Here’s a brief summary of my work history.
I received my first assignment as a security guard way back in 1999, and continued to work in the industry over the next few years. Between 2003 and 2009, I took a long break from security work but finally succumbed to financial pressure some time during the latter half of 2009, and once again mired myself in the industry. I have been working as a security guard (on an on-and-off basis) ever since.
WHAT IS GUARDS GONE WILD!?
A few years ago, I realised that it would be a shame if those stories about my adventures in the private security industry were left to rot by the wayside of memory lane. So I started writing and those collected anecdotes became Guards Gone Wild!.
I sent the completed manuscript to 4 publishers based in Singapore on the 21st December, 2015. As of today, I have been rejected by all 4 of them. Well, exposing the dirty and underhanded going-ons in the private security industry is not exactly a profitable (or healthy) endeavour, so I can understand why the established publishers turned away from me.
And because Singapore has a very small literary market with very few publishers, I shall not waste any more time trying to get published the usual way.
If I want to get my stories out there, I have to do it myself. Through self-publication.
WHY HELP ME?
But self-publication without the support of an established publisher is going to be a difficult and costly endeavour. A noob writer going down this road will have to do and pay for everything himself. Looking for a book cover designer. Paying the book cover designer. Looking for a layout artist. Paying the layout artist. Looking for a copy editor. Paying the copy editor. And so on and so forth. That’s why I need your help to fulfil my dream of becoming a published writer.
Right now, as far as I know, there isn’t any security guard in Singapore who has published a work memoir so, if I succeed with your help, I will become the first security guard writer in Singapore! Help me make literary history!
And help yourself too.
Because in my book, I detailed accounts of various scams perpetrated by security agencies and their guards. The WYSIWYG, Merry-Go-Round and 24-hour Marathon. What are they and how do they affect YOU, the recipient of their service? Also included are stories of bullying and abuses that goes on behind the professional facade of the industry. If you live in a condominium that employs private security, or if your job requires you to interact with security guards on a regular basis, then this book will be a helpful addition to your library
To make a donation or find out more about my crowdfunding campaign, please head over to my crowdfunding page at Pozible:
Hey everybody! I did it!
2 sample chapters from Guards Gone Wild! have been converted to PDF format and posted on my blog. They are not too refined at the moment, but don’t worry! My friend, who did the layout work for the samples, assured me that a professional layout artist will be able to do an even better job for the final version that will go into the book itself.
I also have the Table of Contents out there so you can see how many chapters there are in my book and what kind of stories I have written. Some of the titles are self-explanatory.
And why am I telling you this? Because I am shamelessly soliciting for reviews and likes and comments and so on and so forth! Because I am a writer!
So, come on. If you like the samples, feel free to write reviews or favourable comments. Or just like that post. Or just share it. But don’t copy and post my stories elsewhere.
Okay! Talk to you later!
Teck Y. Loh
And I will throw in a limited edition Guards Gone Wild! postcard as well!
Previously, I made a blog post about one problem I am having with my crowdfunding campaign.
And that’s figuring out what sort of gift I should thank my donors with. I have thought long and hard about this and decided that the first idea I had, giving away free copies of my book, would overwhelm me financially.
So here’a an idea I thought of as an alternative to the free book offer.
For a minimum donation of 10 dollars, the donor’s name will be included on a special Thank You page in my book. And so, anyone who buys a copy of my book will be able to see who are the contributors who helped me make Guards Gone Wild! a reality. And the names will stay in my book, even in future print runs. That’s my way of saying, “I will never forget those who helped me before.”
In addition to getting listed in my book as an honoured contributor, a minimum donation of 10 dollars will also get you a limited edition Guards Gone Wild! postcard with a personal Thank You message written by me.
So what do you think of my idea?
Also, should I leave this postcard idea as it is or should I tweak it?
What if I announce that a donor can get one extra postcard for every additional donation of $10 (on top of the original minimum donation of $10)?
Personally, I am really uncertain about this particular tweak. It seems like it will make my crowdfunding campaign look crass and shift the focus from crowdfunding to raise enough money to produce a book to “selling” postcards.
But because this is my first crowdfunding project and I really don’t know enough about this subject, I feel that it is important to look through every option very carefully before I discard it. And it would be immensely helpful if those of you following my blog can weigh in on this topic.
Is it a good idea to replace the free book offer with the free postcard & a place in my book offer? And if I do that, should I tweak the postcard deal further by offering a free postcard with every extra $10 donated?
Teck Y. Loh