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Book Review: Birth, or the Exquisite Sound of One Hand Falling Off a Turnip Truck by S.T. Gulik

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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.

 

 

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New Job Anxiety

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* The above image is from Everyday Health.

Have you ever gotten anxious over starting a new job?

Feel free to share your stories here! I will start the ball rolling!

Here’s my story.

Being a partial hikikomori, I always get nervous whenever I have to go work at a new place.

My anxiety would usually clear up after getting paid for the first time.

This time, I received an offer to work at a 1-person assignment. I should be feeling less nervous since I won’t have to deal with colleagues or managers. But I still can’t help feeling nervous.

Because, this time, the stakes are high. I have to save up enough money for my book publishing effort plus enough to live for a while. Because waiting for the designer to finish with the cover design and the layout artist to complete her work and the printers to finally print and bind the book will take a while.

After that, I will have to hawk my book at public venues, because brick-and-mortar bookstores don’t carry self-published titles. That means I have to pay rent for my booth before getting paid.

Before all that, months before I get everything ready, I will probably have to spend hundreds on Facebook ads.

So yeah, I am feeling pretty nervous.

I also have to wonder what will become of my fitness by then. I have just started running 2.4 kilometer runs at the park. Slowly going back to my peak period in the army. Now, I have to take a long long break from exercising. I have already mentioned this in another blog post, but I will say it again here. It’s nearly impossible to find the time and energy to exercise properly when you have to work for 72 hours per week. Add in the traveling time and it comes to around 84 hours per week.

So I am nervous. And scared. Because how many more years can I throw away? I don’t have that many years left to attempt to master the martial arts anymore. If I grow fat and lethargic as a security guard, my dream of martial art mastery will be for naught!

At the age of 41, this security guard who’s attempting to become a writer AND a martial artist is feeling anxious about his future…

Loh Teck Yong

I Got Into The Papers!

A reporter from the Lianhe Zaobao  interviewed me about my book and plans for the future. The article was printed on Thursday, the 9th of March. Here are photos of the newspaper clipping.

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A Summary Of The Article In English:

The article starts off with a quote from me. About how it has always been my dream to become a writer and as long as I haven’t fulfilled my dream, I will never give up.

Then it goes on to say that I quit being a full-time guard back in 2009, to focus on writing my manuscript. And through my stories, I hope to let more people understand the hardships in the security industry.

I graduated from secondary school with O levels, the article says. And in 1999, I started working as a security guard. Since then I have worked as a dishwasher, kitchen cleaner and sales assistant before returning to the security industry.

I loved reading English books ever since I was a kid. And the article quotes me as saying, “Security guards, while they are doing their job, frequently get abused by unreasonable people and for the sake of making a living, even if their working conditions are bad, they will choose to keep silent. I hope that after reading my book, the public would act a little more kindly towards security guards.”

However, things are not going well for me because I have been rejected by 4 publishers.

The publishers probably thought that stories about the security industry are unsaleable. That’s why none of them were willing to pick up my manuscript. But for the sake of realizing my dream and letting more people know about the lives of security guards, I will not give up.

So I will either raise the money to self-publish or continue to submit my manuscript to other publishers.

And finally, the article concludes with a quote from me.

“J.K. Rowling had her Harry Potter manuscript rejected 12 times, but she didn’t give up and went on to become a bestselling author. So as long as I don’t give up, there’s always hope.”

Okay, End of Translation.

P.S.: Bear in mind that the article was written by the reporter in the 3rd person, but I use the 1st person point of view for my translation because only royalty and cute Japanese girls use the 3rd person when talking about themselves.

Loh Teck Yong (罗德荣)

 

Help Me Become The First Security Guard Writer In Singapore!

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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:

https://pozible.com/project/help-a-security-guard

To Work Or To Write

That is the question. According to many writers, it is difficult to do both.

“I walked eight to 12 miles each day, carrying a heavy satchel. I actually liked being drained that way, as if each piece of paper I put in a mailbox represented a small packet of my own energy. But at the end of the day, there wasn’t anything left for Second Book. I had the stamina to do the job and come home and recover from doing the job and then go do it some more the next day.”

Excerpt from I Published My Debut Novel to Critical Acclaim—and Then I Promptly Went Broke

And I can empathise with Merritt Tierce, the author of the above-mentioned article, all too well.  I couldn’t do it either, working and writing at the same time. When I started working on Guards Gone Wild! I was also working as a security guard at the same time and, just like Merritt, I had no energy left at the end of a work day for any kind of creative work. Read the rest of this entry

A Question About Crowdfunding

I need some feedback regarding my crowdfunding campaign.

Because there’s a possibility that I may fail to raise the targeted sum, I wish to have a way to return the donations to the donors.

And there’s the free limited edition postcard offer. To send the postcard to the donors, I will need their mailing address.

For Paypal users, there’s no issue. I can use the Paypal Return button. And they can include their address in their email to my Paypal address. So that’s convenient.

HOWEVER, for those doing internet banking, how am I supposed to know their bank account number (for the purpose of refunding donations) or their mailing address? Read the rest of this entry

Why Not Lulu?

A lot of people have asked me:

“Why not use Lulu or some other print-on-demand site to publish your book?”

If I have to give a short answer, then it would be:

“Because I don’t want to.”

But I don’t want to leave it at that because that would be rude to the people who are offering me their sincere advice. So I will tell the long version of the story.

I do not want to use a print-on-demand publisher like Lulu because of the following reasons. Read the rest of this entry