What The Judge Is Looking For In Your Short Story

If you don’t know yet (gosh where have you been?) there’s an ongoing short story writing competition organised by MPH. If you know about it, you will surely know that the deadline for submission is 31 March 2009.
I got to know of this through Derek (as always, the footie fan keeps me updated on movies and books and now, writing competitions).
Derek is always urging, no, egging me to write that fabulous story of all time. Derek dear boy, I am on a race to find that bloody muse of mine. I don’t know if she’s gone for good or if she only re-appears when it is 2 days to the deadline. Somehow, if I haven’t thanked you, I thank you (Derek, not the muse) for somehow egging me along on my writing adventure.
I don’t know what’s worse – not finding my muse OR finding out that my ex-creative writing lecturer (and present client) is going to be one of the judges of the MPH Alliance National Short Story Competition!
Robert Raymer (of the Lovers and Strangers Revisited fame) will be one of those people judging the submissions! Arrrrrgh.
But he does give a lot of clues as to what sort of stories he is looking for. The kind of best-of-the-best stories. Not soppy. Not cliched. Not rehashed from movies we like. Not set in Paris or LA. Not another drama of Wah Lai Toi.
If you are in Sarawak or Miri to be precise, you can ask Robert all the silly questions of writing as he’s going to hold a workshop on 8 March. Lucky you.
Or hop over to his blog and fire away.
It’s a lovely long post on what judges are really looking for in a damn fine story but Robert tells it best. Plus the downloadable entry form is also on his blog.

MayaKirana Gets a Mention

Thanks to Robert who gave me a heads-up yesterday.
He was nicely profiled in The Malay Mail’s Cyberspot (5 January 2009) page and Mayakirana was mentioned. People will be wondering, who the heck is MayaKirana?
Anyway, it’s a good start to 2009.
Thanks, Robert! You have a sexy new year too.

Mentioned in The Malay Mail, Thanks to Robert

Anyone who reads this blog knows that Robert Raymer used to be my Creative Writing teacher when I was an undergrad in USM about 10 years ago.
Fate made us meet again some 3 years ago when we were both speakers at an event that KDU Penang was organizing then. We met up, exchanged news and thought that was it. He was moving to Sarawak anyway as he had taken up a new teaching position at UNIMAS.
Yet, as always, as Paul gleefully reminds me, there are no coincidences in life. We meet for a reason. And that reason may not be clear to us in the beginning but soon makes sense.
In the end, Robert became our client because as a writer, one needs to get the word out there. What better way to show it than through a website that collects all the awards and stories/books in one place for editors and book publishers to find him? It’s a one-stop website for all you ever need to know about Robert Raymer, the author, the teacher, the self-confessed fan of The Secret.
But it went a step further with a blog. I knew instinctively that a blog was the best thing for Robert because he writes and writes and has so many ideas. He needed to share them online.
And so he has. For the past 2 years, he has been blogging in between writing his novels, signing books at MPH, promoting his newest book, Lovers & Strangers Revisited and juggling teaching at UNIMAS. And in addition to raising a young family – he has 2 young boys!
Anyway, go read the interview in the Malay Mail where Robert gets to talk about blogging, what he has gotten out of it and yippee, even I get a lovely mention and blog link! (Thanks Robert!)
What a way to start one’s Thursday huh!

Turning Life into Stories

If you’re a closet writer (like me lah) and want to learn from a real writer for free (and get to ask all those burning questions on writing short stories etc), do make yourself free for Robert Raymer is coming to Penang this Merdeka weekend.
He will be doing a whirlwind promo tour of Penang to promote his new book, Lovers & Strangers Revisited. (He lives in Kuching, by the way).
Tomorrow he will be at Institut Perguruan Persekutuan P.Pinang from 9 am to conduct a workshop on “Writing Narratives and ‘Neighbours’: Making Choices” This is open to the public.
You can also catch him at MPH Gurney Plaza at 3pm tomorrow where he’ll teach you how you can turn your ideas into short stories, using examples from Lovers and Strangers Revisited.
Finally, if you’re still keen to learn more from the man who recently won 4th place in the 2008 USA National Writers Association Novel Contest, you can still meet him on Sunday (Hari Merdeka) at the Little Penang Street Market. He’ll be selling books at one of the stalls and giving a reading at Segrafedo at 12 noon.
I’ll be there as a friend and supporter as well as pick up a few writing tips myself.
So if you love writing and want some tips to hone that craft of yours, make a date with Robert this weekend!

Prose and Poetry in Cat City

This is quite late a post but I have very limited Internet access in Kuching. Don’t ask me why. It’s either some bloody dial-up (which works not) or have to go to a cafe with wifi access. Going to Kuching can be quite trying for me, at times. I wrote this post on 3 Aug which was the day the event was held, so read on (I shall stop being so grumpy today).
Stories about Backstreet Boys, a sea witch who seeks to break her own spell, corny love poems, Freddy and his 3-horned, 8-legged monster of a cow, the anguish of waiting for a love that never comes and the story of a wild boar piglet called Pumba reared in suburban Kuching – these and more were the creative expressions of a bunch of Kuchingites who shared on a Sunday afternoon at Bing, a coffee place in the heart of Kuching’s Chinatown (also known as Padungan).

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A Little Weekend Gossip

It’s been way too busy for me these past 2 weeks.
First I was in Langkawi for 3 days and when I got back, I was whisked away by my 2 girlfriends for a girls’ only weekend getaway (it happened right here in Penang la, I didn’t go anywhere exotic but just had an overnight in Evergreen Laurel) and now that I am catching my breath a bit, I will be packing again to go off to Kuching for a week.
And when I get back after that, I will be going off for the gala dinner in KL (remember the MWW Awards thingy?)
It culminates in a posh dinner in The Westin and an audience with the Tengku Puan Pahang, Tunku Hajjah Azizah).Actually I met the Tunku about 2 years ago when she launched a fertility website we designed for a client but that’s another story for another rainy day.
A scheduled luncheon meet with Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen was also in order about two days after the gala dinner but I declined. I decided that I would really need a rest after such frenzy and though meeting Datuk Dr Ng would be a treat, I think too many things leave me too breathless.
My sis had sms-ed me that my face was in the MWW magazine this month but I had hardly any chance to pop into a bookstore to grab a copy (what with me going about Georgetown like a typical tourist).
Luckily my staff bought a copy and was raring to show it to me when I got into the office this afternoon. If you could, do SMS and vote for yours truly. I would be deeply grateful and honoured if I do win any of the awards on 15 August (when the gala dinner is scheduled and the winners announced). My 15 minutes’ claim to fame, so to speak!
I will be in Kuching for a bit of R&R but all my so-called R&R’s are often fun and productive for business too. This time, I will be meeting two friends of mine when I am in Cat City. We’re going for a reading at BING, one of the local cafes next Sunday.
Well, Robert will be doing a reading since he is the published author (his new book is out now so here is a shameless plug for a dear friend and client *smile*) but it seems he intends to drag me there so I can help him do a reading! Let’s see what happens.
I hope to blog more once I am in Kuching. Work in the office often leaves me with very little time to blog which is a delicious irony because most of my work revolves around writing! Such is the case for most people anyway. The paying work gets done first before anything else. Ouch.
Hope to write about a tonne of stuff I did over the past week and my girly-girl weekend which was slightly marred (imagine sitting between 2 arguing women and both are my good pals from uni!). Errgh!

Coffee, Curry Puffs & Robert

If you are a fan of Robert Raymer and his books, you’ll be pleased to know that Robert will be in KL on 26 July to launch his newly published book, Lovers & Strangers Revisited under MPH.
Robert used to be my creative writing teacher when I was in USM. He read one of my soppiest stories ever. That piece still makes me cringe if I re-read it.
And now he is our client. What a strange way fate brings people together.
We’ve now become firm friends and pop by to visit him and his family whenever we get to Kuching, Nic’s hometown.
Anyway, don’t fret if you can’t make it for Robert’s KL reading. He will be here in Penang, at the Penang Street Market on 31 August to sign books and read from his new book (pssst.. this is how his new book looks like).
Check out Eric Forbes’ blog for more info on Robert’s book launch and more. (Eric is a book editor by the way.)