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Brian J. W. Lee is a writer. When he's not writing, he's plotting to plunge the world in a deep chasm of terror, darkness and screams. Sorry, did I get carried away?

Thursday, 30 March 2017

A Return to Pulau Purba

It has been set in stone, etched carefully in it. A sow was sacrificed on said stone, and the blood of a hundred virgins splashed upon it. I am writing an interquel to The Keeper of Pulau Purba (to the right over there, as you can see, and don't trip on the borders, my website is a little dark).

The interquel will be exclusively available on an anthology put together by a fellow horror writer. It will be accompanied, shoulder-to-shoulder, by 19 other stories written with claw marks and gashes.

Tentatively, the story will be set on the titular island itself, and it will revolve around all-new characters - though who knows? Characters from the original novel might just wander in or something. We'll see. My characters have a habit of doing that.

I'll leave the big picture out as a surprise.

Will let you guys know. See ya! :)

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Making Do

In my last two posts, I talked about the winds of change, how things can seem to be on the climb at one moment, then take a tumble again. Well, the storm has blown over, and in its wake, there's rebuilding to be done.

As I settled into my new routine and seat in the telco company, I think to myself that I can survive it all. I have done it before, I will do it again. In fact, it had been worse before. I'd gone through 24 months of military service, which I despised, and I was still able to nurture my interest in writing in that time. Although I didn't even come close to being as productive as I am now, I'd still done something.

Which leads into my next point. Looking back at who I am 8 years ago, and who I am now, there's a stark difference. I'd gone from doing nothing but practicing writing with fan fictions to throwing out at least 1,000 words a day of writing or 2,000 to 4,000 words of editing a day. And I plan to do even more than that.

Right now, the editing of my second book has been coming together swimmingly, and it is my hope that I can do both editing and writing in a single day.

By day, I guess I'll do my job. I'll even try to do it well. But the telco company will get what they paid for. If they want a wage-slave or an indentured servant, then that's what they'll get, nothing more. It's perhaps my revenge that I can earn half of the spending money they're paying me (excluding CPF or in American terms, 'social security') with just 4.5 hours a week as a tutor. It's laughable, considering that I work 42 hours a week for them.

By night, like Batman with a pen, I'll do my real job.

I have evolved furthermore. I believe I have less need for entertainment, as it seems enough that I read on the train and derive it from my writings and teaching tuition. The weekends are there for the raw stuff, I suppose - like computer games and movies. Still, they are still important, considering that they can inspire.

Anyway, I have rambled enough for now. Off to start a new short story!

Thursday, 23 March 2017

The Hurricane of Change

Yesterday, I talked about how my life has been changing, from bad to good to excellent, how I might soon be experiencing a true freelancer's life, with an emphasis on the 'free' bit - which would be a huge, huge boon to my writing career.

Turns out, the one time I've been so optimistic, I turned out to be dead wrong. I'm bound by contract to work for at least three months in a telco company, and I had to let go of my opportunities for a life as a tutor-of-fortune.

I had thought the terms binding me wouldn't be enforced. My experiences thus far had lead me to that conclusion - and this is the first time the recruitment agency outsourcing me happened to be serious about the $1,000 processing fee. I wanted to say 'fuck you' to everyone's face, but I seriously don't know if I would end up saying that all the way to a judge in court.

One thing led to another, and everything led to the worst day of my life... At least this year, right after my birthday. It's a case of the butterfly and the tornado, folks. Being an expressive person, I talked about yours truly entertaining to leave for a life of tutoring to a new friend there. He talked to my trainer and my trainer talked to my manager. I got shut down and shot down hard at work. I had to cancel my plans to take on a new tuition assignment, and I got shot down on the phone with the tuition coordinator.

And now I'm here, writing a lengthy rant post instead of editing my book. I'll get to it in a minute before my brain shuts down for maintenance till the next day.

I guess my next point is this: no matter what people say, no matter how the people of the office talk about how they have embraced an open environment with no judgement and all the good things, cue the milk and honey rivers roaring past the aisles, the corporate life is still absolute SHIT.

I mean fine, for most people (or half, conservatively), it's good enough. But put a damn writer in the office... and hoo boy! Time for the drama to unfold! Here, have a look at what a writers in office can't do:

- A writer can't be self-expressive. Any tiny bit of information leaked through that could be used to harm you will be used to harm you whether your colleagues intend it or not.

- He can't feed his imagination, more so when it's in a place where even frickin' music is banned.

- He can't write, obviously, or have to sneak it under the radar it might not be worth the effort.

- He is disadvantaged when it comes to making friends and connections, unless he's a manipulative asshole. Certain places will draw certain types of characters. I don't think the office is filled with the creative types, do you?

- He can't excel even at the job because he ticks differently, and requires a different environment to function. See above for details. Sure, he can try and may produce results, but don't expect anything excellent.

- And more.


But whatever. I've been through this before and I can do it again. Basically, my editing/writing will continue to be slower, although I might try to make up for it during the weekends. At least that hasn't been taking away from me this time.

The editing of my short story collection has been going at a steady pace despite.

But I plan to start work on my anthology short story soon. That's right, I'll be featured in another collected works book! More details in the future.

Well, it's time to go back to my favourite activity. Sweet sleep will take me for just below 7 hours, then it's back to the grindstone.

At least tomorrow would be Friday.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Winds of Change

It has only been a couple of weeks since my last post up in my House of the Raven, but my life has been changing rapidly like never before. As a gauge, my life had remained a routine affair before my Batam trip for 11 months while I was on a previous job, and 4 years while I was in university. So now, in just two weeks, I have been contending with shifts in both my lifestyle and fortune multiple times over.

Last week, I was jobless, with some chum change coming in from my side income as a tutor. I spent half my time reading, playing games and upgrading myself in subtle ways, the other half finding a job and writing (WRITING - the most important thing ever! Don't lose focus, you dog!). I was afraid that my ambition as a writer will be compromised by the lack of disposable income. Coming in as a close second, I was afraid that my life has become an irreversible mess with no prospects and future.

While I would never consider it a curse or anything bad, my relatives (the good ones, so no problems there) came to visit last week, stayed at my place. I was displaced from my room to the study room, where I slept on a thin mattress on the floor. While my grandma and aunt were fun, and I can certainly take a little discomfort (not even that, and I've fared well enough on the forest floor whenever I served in the army), it served to emphasize how hard the winds of change are blowing.

Then all of a suddenly, I was shortlisted and interviewed for a second time. Eventually, I was hired and started work on Monday, which was the 20th of March. It is a telco company, and the money looks fine. After training and probation, and if they want me on board, I could be looking at $2,200 a month, counting in performance bonuses. More if I do OT, and perform exceedingly well.

But it was a customer service job, with a million protocols, systems and rules to follow, with telco products to maintain. As a result, training is tough and consists of cramming manuals into your head. There would be interpersonal drama and politics (of course). At the end of each day, there would be little room for writing... Or almost no room if I have to do OT (which would be regular, they said) or happen to teach tuition for some side income... All this for a below-expected salary of $2,200 for a university graduate.

But another option hovered over my head, never ceasing to spear my brain every five second or so. I had recently expanded my side income form tuition by nearly twice. And there are many opportunities to turn it into a full-time job. The benefits? Very high pay while working short hours. I could earn $1,800 by working 15 hours a week. Or $3,600 30 hours a week. Even more if I graduate to teaching higher levels. It means freedom, and the energy to create and write. But there are disadvantages of course - I risk instability of income, and there are no benefits.

This leads to another recent shift, precipitated just today, when my trainer at the telco company caught wind (heh) of my considerations. Basically, right now, I am leaning towards sprinting out of the corporate world and office like a man chased after by demons with horns and wings and forked tail, and making my bucks as a tutor-of-fortune. I'd already expanded my tuition income from $600 to $900 (to be transparent) even as I took notes in my telco training.


Basically, what this means for my next book is that my progress has been a little slower. My pace is average at best, far from the 50% extra speed I planned. Basically, I've been falling asleep on my desk while editing my book due to this fiasco.

Potentially, this is ending soon, and potentially, if everything goes well with my tuition venture, I could be heading towards a golden age of writing, when I could keep increasing the speed of my writing or editing unchecked.

Or I could be looking at the most fiscally starved year of my life if I couldn't get enough tuition assignments... So, no pressure!

Saturday, 11 March 2017

The Peephole into My Next Book

For the past half-a-dozen or so posts put up over a period of three months, I had been alluding to what is to be my second book. While I have given you guys a few snippets of what it will contain here and there, I haven't given you guys the big picture, everything in one go. So that's what I am going to do now. I'm going to pull the veil off Frankenstein's Monster, so to speak.

Here's the offer: It's a short story collection which puts one Elephantiasis-afflicted foot in the horror genre and the other (thinner) foot in a whole sushi platter of other genres. I estimated it to be about 100,000 words long at the start of the project. I may have already breached that figure by a few thousand words as I am filling in any holes in the plot and description for draft 2.

So expect a whole host of genre pieces, some that are indisputably, undeniably, obviously horror with sprinklings of other genres or sub-genres while the horror in other pieces may not seem obvious at first.

I have yet to figure out a title for the collection, but all I know for sure is that I don't want it to be something as generic as 'Brian J. W. Lee's Horror Stories Volume 1'. Gee, I wonder who would name their books like that? Anyway, here's the rundown of the stories to be featured within...

Short Stories

Sesame Seeds (Working Title): A corporate executive discovers a renewed infestation of ants in his home, and decides to kill them on sight. Little does he know that these aren't just any kind of ants... A body horror due to infest the omnipresent Amazon stores.

Agoraphobe (Working Title): In the distant future, against the backdrop of an overpopulated Singapore which is the result of two centuries of social engineering, we follow a disenfranchised working-girl as she goes about her daily life, navigating the treacherous concrete jungle and rivers of people. Only, sometimes the most treacherous thing is the person you invite into your home... An experimental dystopic horror, projecting the future from the Amazon stores.

The Hatch: Every building has secrets, whether it is that apartment no one seems to ever want to live in, or the rooftop where no one cares to go. A mechanic discovers the secret of the office complex he works at, something he can never unsee... A psychological horror, haunting Amazon soon.

Sprint: Few of us do it. Marathons, half-marathons... Hell, some of us couldn't even manage a fun run. Now, imagine having to run for your life... In the middle of an ultra-marathon set in the jungles of Malaysia. A unique and experimental blend of sports horror, whose season starts in Amazon next quarter.

Faceless: Glade's End. An idyllic and slow village where Jacob, a new adult, whiles away his days after the conclusion of his academic pursuits and stint in the village militia. Peace is broken when his father returns from the nearby primordial woods of Restikeria Forest after going missing for four days, severely ill with an incurable disease. As he wastes away, Jacob is forced to investigate the seemingly endless forest for the cause, and perhaps even a cure. What he will find at the end of his journey may threaten his sanity, just as it has taken his father's...

The ultimate on the list in terms of genre crossing and bending, this is also the longest story to be featured. It's going to be a mouthful, but here goes... A dark science-fantasy horror adventure... Coming soon.

Cedric's Run-Off: A biomedical researcher wrongfully barred from his profession makes ends meet by volunteering to be a test subject. Things did not go right in the latest experiment, and he becomes the ocean from which a new sapient civilisation emerges... Invading Amazon next quarter.

Vinegar: A new neighbour moves in next door to Henry's, a polytechnic graduate whose life is already changing drastically. Unlike Charles, his childhood friend, this solitary neighbour is mysterious, and the day she moves in, the strong smell of vinegar invades his room from her apartment unit. There are secrets to be revealed... On Amazon.

The Facade: Written even before The Keeper of Pulau Purba, a lost manuscript found again. Penned down months before the debut novel was even conceived in its current form, The Facade was written as a Final Year Project for my graduation. Coming back to it, I found the story surprisingly worthy of publication despite flaws both in the narrative and grammar.

The Facade is a story told from the perspective of a young but successful executive on the fast track. Just when he thought his unbroken chain of successes and celebrations can never slow down, metaphorical ghosts from the past emerges to haunt him, dredging up old wounds and misgivings. A peek into an earlier Brian... To be re-graded on Amazon. (Hope I get an A instead of a B this time :D)

These short stories will be accompanied by an equal number of flash fictions for pacing and to allow readers to rest. They will have their own self-contained universes, to be glimpsed at for a brief moment.

Well, that's it for now. I've been busy editing, and the second draft will be done surprisingly soon. Other than that, my debut novel, The Keeper of Pulau Purba, is now on sale at $0.99! Here's the link: Click Me! (Or Click the Book Cover at the Side)

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Events on the Horizon

As the weeks rolled by, I have been busy, bit by bit piecing together my next book. Without going into another writer's report, I'll just say that my next book is just a few drafts away from publication. Throw it to an editor (without fracturing his/her skull), format it for an e-book, slap a cover on and then BAM! My second book, quick as fast food, scary as gross obesity and cancer. It's amazing how time flies that I've hardly been able to post... Though it's partly due to neglect that I haven't been updating this blog.

Anyway, I am aiming for a June release and promotion, and possibly an October Halloween promotion, in both cases I am hoping to be able to make back about 50% of my capital. My goals, however, can be stretched either way:

'Sustainable' Worse Case Scenario: I continue on the course, making only 25% of my capital back. More books required before I go beyond this line. I'll be transparent here, out of the $300 I'd spent on The Keeper of Pulau Purba, I'd made about $60 back. Blown up to say, $800 grand-total in expenditure after this year's Halloween promotion, I would need to earn $140 to hit this milestone.

Goal to Hit Right Between the Eyes: 50% of my capital. This will have to be calculated at multiple stages. On my short story collection's launch, I would have spent about $500 grand-total, which meant that I will have to earn another $190 more. What I am hoping is that my two books would work to promote each other. "Hey, if you like me, I got a baby brother here who needs love too! Watch the teeth though..." The Keeper of Pulau Purba would be saying.

However, if I stagger my promotions to be inclusive of Pulau Purba, I would be spending $600 total, and would have to earn $240 back from promoting both books.

In the lead-up to Halloween and on Halloween, I would be spending another $200, to push the grand total expenditure to $800, which meant I had to earn $340 from the now to when sales dry up.

Best Case Scenario: My short stories collection somehow does better than my debut novel, and help to earn about 75% of my capital (with some help from my debut). That would be earning $600 from $800.

My dream scenario? I actually start turning a profit... Heh.

So that's all folks! A book in a few months time, up to 4 promotional campaigns to the end of March, and I haven't mentioned that I'll be starting on a follow-up to The Keeper of Pulau Purba after June!