Hopes and Goals for 2007

I read with a mixture of admiration and envy of my writer friend Ted Mahsun on what a good year he has had in 2006 in terms of writing.

As such, he has motivated me to achieve the same for next year – so I have set a list of hopes and goals for 2007.

1. Set the target of planning and writing 6 short stories.

2. Developing a story frame work for my novel and seriously finish writing the first and second chapters of it.

3. Complete the 30 Books to read challenge – 2 to 3 books per month

4. Write a simple book review of each of the 30 books that I read this year.

5. Attend or organise writer meet-ups.

6. Write 10 poems and perform at least one in public

7. Attend the short seminars/talks at MPH’s KL Writers Club.  

8. Develop or write a few short plays and submit them to any of the theatre groups.

9. Never stop writing and reading no matter how tired or exhausted I am – either on blogs, in my writer’s pad or exercise books.

2007 Reading Challenge – 30 Books to Read by end of the year

This post was carried over here from my original post at my other blog site.

The whole year of 2006, I can safely say that I’ve only read about 23 books (not inclusive of manga and graphic novels, since I am actually looking/admiring/ogling at the pictures more than the corny dialogue), half of that number were James Lee’s Mr Midnight series of children’s horror/thriller/fantasy storybooks which I got free from interviewing him.

I have also read two of Neil Gaiman‘s books – Neverwhere and American Gods, both of which moved me very much, made me ponder hard about certain questions about life and simply affected me. His books has certainly influenced the style of my writing as well and made me want to attempt my own brand of fantasy storytelling.

Gaiman is certainly one of my current top five biggest modern-day literary idols whom I admire and considered as my writing influence. The rest includes J.K. Rowling who needs no introduction, Frank Peretti – the master storyteller of supernatural Christian fiction, Anthony Horowitz – the hardworking British author of the Alex Rider series and Stephen King, the horror fiction maestro.

However, I realise there’s a great need for me to read more extensively beyond my favoured genres (fantasy, supernatural, children & young adult) if I ever want to be a better writer than I am good now. As Samuel Johnson, one of England’s greatest literary figures, says:

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.”

I will certainly take Johnson’s words to heart and start, on 2007 onwards, to read as much as I could. I have decided to set a target of a minimum of 30 books to finish reading by the end of the year 2007. I don’t think that this is a lofty taget, this is pretty much achievable and considering that I am avid reader, it shouldn’t be a problem for me.

This list of 30 books was pretty much inspired by the challenge which I read over at Bibliobibuli. The challenge was originally put forth by MizB of the Literary Cache blog and the number of books was supposed to be 12 for the year 2007, one book per month. I decided to personally up the ante by setting my personal target of 30.

The list that I have put forth below may be subject to change, though I would most likely try my best to refrain from doing so. I have thought over the books that I want to read carefully and had did a quick research on each of them on Amazon.com.

Some of the books on the list have attracted my attention for quite a bit but I had not worked up the courage to pick up any of them because the genre was not my cup of tea. This would be the chic-lit and romance novels, genres which I normally would do anything to get far away from. However, for the purposes of self-enrichment and self-exploration, I’ll give two books from this genre a try. I resolve to also read about two books or more per genre, including my favourite genres. Without much further ado, I present to you my list of 30 books to be read by 31st December 2007, 11:59pm :-

1. Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman (an Antholgy of Fantasy Short Stories)
2. His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik (Fantasy) READ
3. Confessions of an Old Boy: The Dato’ Hamid Adventures by Kam Raslan (Novel/Satire) READ
4. The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad (Classic Action)
5. Lucas by (Young Adult/Children’s Fiction)
6. The Book of Names by Jill Gregory & Karen Tintori (Suspense Thriller/Historical Religious Fiction) READ
7. Speak of the Devil by Richard Hawke (Crime Thriller Fiction)
8. If You Could See Me Now Cecelia Ahern (Novel)
9. Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle (Novel)
10. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (Sci-Fi Novel)
11. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card (Sci-Fi Novel)
12. Stardust by Neil Gaiman (Fantasy Novel)
13. Lord of the Flies by William Golding (Allegorical Novel)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (Novel)
15. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (Romance Novel, Classic)
16. This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti (Christian Fiction) READ
17. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin (Classic Fiction)
18. State of Fear by Michael Crichton (Sci-Fi Techno Thriller)
19. Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce (Dramatic Novel)
20. Eragon by Christopher Paolini (Young Adult/Children’s Fantasy Adventure Novel)
21. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding (Comedy Fiction)
22. Castaways of the Flying Dutchman by Brian Jacques (Young Adult Historical Fiction with supernatural elements) READ
23. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Novel)
24. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt (Memoir)
25. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett (Comedy/Fantasy)
26. In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar (Literary Fiction)
27. Honk if You’re Malaysian by Lydia Teh (Local Interest – a collection of stories on Malaysian life) READ
28. Needful Things by Stephen King (Horror Fiction)
29. Come to Me a collection of love stories by Amy Bloom (Fiction Anthology)
30. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (Young Adult Fantasy Adventure Novel)
READ

A Christmas Short Story

This is a story which I conjured up from my mind after coming home from church today. Let me know what you think.

Jason came back from work late that night. Exhausted, he could not bring himself to feel any of the yuletide cheer that one normally associates with Christmas.

He had been held back by his employer, the ratty-looking employer who had wanted him to look into some suspicious entries on one of the accounts. A few phone calls here and there and after cross-checking thrice with another two colleagues who were already on their plane flight with their families to some far-off place for a vacation finally revealed that said “suspicious account” was nothing more than a miscalculated amount. And thus, the said account had to be re-done all over again, which took Jason a whole two hours to complete.

By the time he arrived home, he was weary, his vision blurred with numbers, and his thoughts full of unutterable curses. They were directed at his colleague, whom he thought to have such poor mathematical sense that it’s a wonder his colleague had managed to become an accountant.

After hanging up his jacket in the closet, he surveyed his little studio apartment located in one of the busiest streets in
Kuala Lumpur. He could hear the din in the streets below from the inside of his apartment, something which he had tried in futility to block out ever since moving here at the beginning of the year.

 But strangely tonight, the din outside had only made the silence within his apartment all the more deafening. He couldn’t have felt more alone right now in his own very home. With a heavy sigh, he set about putting his things in the living room in order – rearranging the cushion on the couches neatly, stacking up the magazines and newspapers that were strewn about on the floor, putting the TV & ASTRO remote controls back in the drawer and taking out the trash and dumping them down the garbage chute.

When he returned, he smiled to himself in a satisfied way and thought that the place looked at least habitable rather than some smelly bear’s den. He went into the kitchen to make himself a cup of hot Milo but realised he had ran out of hot water. He just dumped the contents of one Milo sachet into a cup, filled it with tap water and nuked it in the microwave.

Within a minute, Jason was standing at his balcony outside, looking down at the streetlife of Kuala Lumpur’s famed Bintang Street. Sipping his Milo slowly, he watched and listened in silence at the cornucopia of lights and sounds that seemed to envelope his entire being with an array of emotions. He was soon hopelessly depressed and was plunging deeper into the depths of his own dark world.

He had half a mind to fling himself off the balcony down twelve floors below. It would be a grand way to go, he’d figured. Better than dying alone in an empty apartment with no one bothering to know what had happened to him.

Somewhere down below, from one of the big shopping malls, he could hear strains of “You better not cry…you better not shout…`cause Santa Claus is coming to town!” from the evergreen Christmas song ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’. He scoffed at the song. Santa Claus indeed!

Without knowing what happened, Jason soon found himself sobbing profusely, the tears kept flowing thick and fast. He dropped his half-finished cup of Milo, the cup smashed to pieces and the contents splashed all over the floor and Jason slumped onto the floor leaning against the metal bars of his balcony.

“What’s going on? I just don’t understand! This isn’t the life I had wanted…this wasn’t what I had in mind! I’m just so lost…aimless…I’m just so tired…” Jason sobbed to the world – to the people deaf to his cries of anguish and hopelessness below, to the people who has friends, who have the money to splurge, who seems to be enjoying life while he, Jason, was bawling his eyes and nose out.

“Everyday is just so routine…Wake up, work, work, work, eat and sleep…so tired of it…how can anyone live like this? How can I go on like this?” Jason continued in his rants to the world.

“THEN, STOP WALLOWING IN YOUR SELF-PITY AND CHANGE!” a chirpy high-pitched voice shouted loudly behind him, causing him to jerk in fright and he turned his head slowly to see who had shouted behind him.

A strong breeze appeared from nowhere all of a sudden, sending cold shivers down Jason’s spine. The breeze got stronger and it was forming a mini-tornado right in his own living room! A bright glow emanated from the core of the windstorm, growing brighter and taller, filling the entire apartment in bright white light.

With a loud sparking sound, a magnificent figure in white appeared on the table facing Jason who was still slumped outside the balcony, staring right at the white figure with a mixture of astonishment and fear.

“You’re Jason, my good fellow, aren’t ya? Well, pleased to meet you too,” the white figure said brightly as he stepped down from the table and approached Jason in small graceful steps.

“Wh-who are you? Wh-wh-what are-are you…?” Jason stuttered, wiping his eyes in disbelief, his jaw hung opened in shock.

“What are you? Blind? What’s all in white and appears out of nowhere from a ball of light?” the white figure chortled.

“Um…uh…a gh-ghost?” stammered Jason.

“A ghost! A GHOST? Well, I never! You need to get that head of yours checked, boy! A ghost indeed! Everyone knows there’s no such thing as ghosts!” howled the stranger clothed in white who puffed out his chest in indignation.

“Uh…uh…sorry…but it isn’t like I have visitors from outta space visit me everyday…” muttered Jason defensively.

“Outta space! Darn it, boy…” groaned the white figure, who now reached down and offered Jason his hand, which he took hesitantly “It’s bad enough that I got a crummy, self-pitying no-hoper like yourself for my next task, I got one who doesn’t even know an angel when he sees one right in front of him!”

“An…angel??” Jason breathed out the word in surprise and disbelief.

“Yes, an angel. I am what you call an angel and not a word out of you about the wings…” the angel warned Jason just when Jason was going to ask about the angel’s wings.

“Uh..ok…sorry…well, um…what’s an angel doing in my apartment? Don’t you guys…like…got better things to do…like help people rather than wasting your time on folks like me?” Jason enquired.

“There you go again…part of your problem is the fact that you’ve got low self-esteem and a severe lack of confidence,” the angel said pointedly.

“You’re not very nice for an angel…” Jason squeaked quietly.

“Oh yeah? Well, let me see you try handling human beings like your sort for centuries and still try to be nice!” the angel said in a huff.

“Um…okay…so what are you supposed to do to help me?” Jason asked, feeling a little stupid but still hoping for a miracle. The angel read his thoughts.

“Right, miracles, signs and wonders…that’s what everybody wants out of me and Him nowadays. There’s no easy way out of your troubles, Jason. Me and Him…we just can’t hand out miracles, signs and wonders like they’re kiddy candy bars. The Big Boss just don’t work like that. You want your miracle? You want to see some signs and wonders? You, no matter what your troubles are, gotta earn it like everybody else,” the angel explained.

Jason nodded, his head low, feeling ashamed that he had been so foolish to think that there could ever be an easy way out from his current rut.

“Then, what are you going to do…uh…you got a name?”

“Oh, where are my manners… Of course I got a name. I’m Angel Sander, the One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty Sixth Angel from the Human Assistance Regiment… H-A-R for short…at your service,” Sander bowed deeply.

“Ok, Sander…um…I don’t even know what I want in life anymore. I’m just tired of living…”Jason sighed as he plonked down on the nearest couch.

“We all know the confusion and the desperation and the defeat that’s wrecking your soul and spirit, Jason. We’ve heard it almost everyday since the day you moved in here. I’ve been assigned to watch you since that day and I’ve only been given permission to make contact with you now when you’re at an all-time low,” said the angel in a much kinder, less biting sort of way.

When Jason didn’t say anything except but to look down on his toes, Sander continued, “Any change that you want happen have to start from your own initiative. The Big Boss and us angels can only guide you and lend you our strength.”

“So you mean that I have to have the courage to change?” asked Jason.

“Yes. Only you can, Jason. The Father is all seeing and all knowing but alas, He doesn’t control how you lead your life. He doesn’t make the decision on how you lead our life. You choose your own way. And everything that you’ve chosen has led you to this day,” said the Sander. 

“I don’t know if I could. I want to…but I’m nothing special, Sander. I’ve never been good with people personally. Besides work, there’s nothing much else…I could never be like those people down there in the streets partying and enjoying their lives,” mumbled Jason.

“Jason, no one wants you to be like those people. You’re your own special person. Each and everyone was made in their special way. No man is the same, not even twins or triplets or how many ‘…lets’ The Big Guy decides to give, none of them would be entirely the same.”

“I don’t know, I don’t know anything anymore…” said Jason forlornly.

“All right, get up Jason. You and me, we’re going a little trip down memory lane,” said Sander as he grabbed Jason’s hand and pulled him off the couch.

Before Jason had any chance to react, he felt as though the pit of his stomach was being sucked into a void of some sort. The slow twirling ceiling fan was the last thing he saw before he blacked out.

End of Part One

Final Harry Potter Title Revealed!

Harry will be a handome 17yo in Book 7!As with most fans of the Harry Potter series, I wait with bated breath for the day the seventh and last book in the series is released. Hopefully, it would be on July 31, 2007 to coincide with the same day Harry Potter’s fictional birth-date.

Until then, I took great delight in letting you know that the title for the seventh book has finally been revealed! Guardian Books was the one that let it out, so check their site for the full story!

So what’s the title? *Drumroll, please….” Dum dum dee dum clang…. It’s HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS!!!

What’s the Deathly Hallows? I’ve got no idea meself, but it could be…just may be Voldemort’s family origins, just like Harry’s parents are from Godric’s Hollow. It could really be anything, really. Like it could also refer to the place where Harry and Voldemort have their final duel to the death! Boy, I’m really so bloody excited about what the book is gonna be like. Hopefully it’s as thick as the fifth o sixth book, I can’t bear to read finish the book so fast and leave the Harry’s fantastical world behind. I wonder how Rowling is going to cope?

Harry Potter fans should check out the following sites for more up-to-date news regarding the happenings in Harry Potter’s wizarding world:-

1. The Leaky Cauldron

2. J.K. Rowling’s Official Website

3. MuggleNet

4. Bloomsbury, UK publisher of Harry Potter’s books

Hola, Bienvennido, Konnichiwa, Salam Sejahtera and hello!

Hopefully I got the first three greetings right! 🙂

I haven’t transferred any of my posts from my Reflections of The Eternal Wanderer site yet, but that will come in due time. Meanwhile, get a kick out of my Introductory Message that I had put up on this page.

Be patient and I’ll be back soon…er…like tonight the earliest…and if not…that’ll be tomorrow. 😀