#28Letters Writing Challenge, Articles, Writing, Writing Challenge

Day 5 #28Letters: Dementia

At first, it’s the little things. A name. Some place. A memory.

Then it becomes a few names. A lot of places. Many memories. It’s like, you step into a merry-go-round which has just started spinning, and then it speeds up, round and round and round, and you get lost and dizzy as the objects fly around you again and again and again, until they all become blurs, flashes, smudges, while you remain rooted on the ground, confused and disconcerted.

At first, you panic. But then, you become numb.

Even when you don’t recognize the face looking back at you.

#28Letters Writing Challenge, Articles, Writing, Writing Challenge

Day 4 #28 Letters : Guilt

She’s gone.

Cursing, his knees buckled. He slumped to the floor. It’s Gina’s fault! He’d told her he didn’t want to see her anymore. But when she opened her door to him naked and flung herself at him, he hadn’t been able to resist her. Afterward, he’d been disgusted at himself for breaking his promise to his wife.

Someone must have seen him leaving there and told Maila, and she’d left him just as she said she would if he’d cheat on her again.

“Hey, you.”

He lifted his eyes. She’s still here! He hugged her knees and cried unabashedly.

#28Letters Writing Challenge, Articles, Writing, Writing Challenge

Day 3 #28Letters : Buti Ka Pa

Apologies, but this poem that I wrote is best rendered in the Filipino language. 

Buti ka pa, naka-move on na                         

Samantalang ako, eto, hindi pa.                   

Kaloka, kataka-taka

Anyare sa ating dalawa?
Dati, nilalanggam tayo

Bigla na lang naging buro.

Bakit kasi kontrabida

Iyang ex mong may sira?

Binuko ako sa nanay mo

Di ako marunong magluto.

Sabagay, buti na’ng nangyari

Kesa naman laging kunwari

Sanay akong humawak lagi

Ng marumi, maitim na kawali.

Pero teka, ganun ba talaga

Kababaw ang iyong pagsinta?

Para akong ipinagpalit

Sa isang pinggang pansit

Puso ko’y tinapakan

Dahil lang sa aking kapintasan.

Hindi pala ‘buti ka pa’

Ang dapat kong sabihin,

Kundi ‘buti na lang’

Di ako naging kusinera!

#28Letters Writing Challenge, Articles, Writing Challenge

Of Drabbles and Day 2: #28Letters

This is a continuation of my previous post about#28Letters, a Writing Challenge by #8Circles Creative Community which calls for writing a 100 word story (or a drabble) of any genre.

A bit of knowledge-sharing before I post my Day 2 story:

Like I’ve said, a Drabble, also called Micro Fiction, is a short work of fiction/prose/poetry with only 100 words. Typically, fictional works are identified by length of written words:

  • Flash Fiction – 100-1000 words
  • Short Story – 1,000-7,500 words
  • Novelette – 7,500-20,000 words
  • Novella – 20,000-50,000 words
  • Novel – 50,000-110,000 words
  • Epic, also called Super Novel – over 110,000 words [from Writing World]

There’s also what is called Twabbles now, stories written in Twitter. You write a story making use of the maximum amount of characters in the famous social networking service. A 240-character tale!

Do you know of any other fictional work based on word length? Comment below and share what you know. Sharing is caring!

But regardless of word length, these works of fiction should have the same attributes: they must have a beginning, a middle, and an end. So, for a drabble, imagine how hard it is to write a story comprising only of exactly 100 words (title is excluded in the count) which tells a complete story–not a vignette, not an excerpt.

A drabble is like any story, it should have a beginning, a middle and an end. The beginning sets up the story, the middle is the meat (the progression of the story) and the end provides the conclusion. Many of the best drabbles have a twist in the tale — the start and middle will take you in an expected direction and then the end turns that around.

https://drablr.com/how-to-write-a-drabble

The goal for writing a drabble is to exercise brevity, to test the author’s ability to weave a full, interesting and meaningful tale with a concise number of words. It helps develop a writer’s skills on the economical use of words. It also develops a writer’s craft through practice in a fun, challenging way.


Here’s my Day 2 story for #28Letters February 2019 Writing Challenge:


She hesitates, licks her brittle lip with her blackened tongue.

“Go on, do it.”

“But what if…?”

“I’m always here for you.”

“You can’t walk fast like before.” 

He shows off his toothless grin.

“I can roll.”

“And lose you too?”

“You won’t.”

Nodding, she lifts her rotting forefinger, scratching the skin under her eye. It wobbles in its socket, pops out, dropping to the blood-splattered ground.

He dives, his decomposing body preventing its further escape. She kneels, gropes for her only eye and puts it back in its place.

“Told you I’d catch it. I always do.”

What do you think of my Day 2 Drabble? Is it funny, scary, or gory?

To read my Day 1 story for #28Letters, click HERE.

#28Letters Writing Challenge, Articles, Writing, Writing Challenge

Day 1: #28Letters February 2019 Writing Challenge

I’ve been under the weather for the most part of January and I’m finding it hard to regain my muse. This writing challenge came at a most appropriate time. It will push me to write 100 words every day for the whole month of February 2019, and may just be the boost I need to be able to continue the visual novel I’m currently working on.

#28Letters is by 8Circles, an FB Page for 8Letters, a creative community. Cindy Wong, a prolific travel blogger, writer and author, is the founder of 8Circles, 8Letters, and its bookstore, 8LettersBooks where Filipino-authored books are curated and promoted. Check out the link!

So, here goes nothing:


#28Letters Day 1:

“Again?”

“Not my fault.”

“Really? Whose fault is it this time?”

Shoulders shrugging.

Breath exhaling.

“How can we fix this? Talked yet?”

“No. Won’t waste my time.”

“Should’ve thought of that before.”

“Please, don’t start.”

“Don’t you ever get tired of this?”

“I don’t want this!”

“Well, what do you want?”

“Not possible.”

“How is it not possible?”

“I’m tired. I’m hanging up. See you tomorrow.”

“Hey! I’m trying to help here. What is it you want?”

A deep breath. A mournful sigh.

“You…and me.”

Silence.

“But it isn’t possible, is it? Because you’re in love with someone else.”


Articles, Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Replicas (2018)


(This post contains affiliate links. You can find my disclosure at the end of this post.)

 

Keanu Reeves as William Foster in “Replicas”

I really wanted this movie to be good. Especially because Keanu Reeves is the lead character. I’ve been a fan since I saw him in Speed (1994) with Sandra Bullock. But unlike Matrix (which is a very successful franchise financially and critically), this scifi thriller failed despite its interesting premise:

William Foster is a brilliant neuroscientist who loses his wife, son and two daughters in a tragic car accident. Utilizing cutting-edge technology, William comes up with a daring and unprecedented plan to download their memories and clone their bodies. As the experiment begins to spiral out of control, Foster soon finds himself at odds with his dubious boss, a reluctant accomplice, a police task force and the physical laws of science.

For one thing, the plot has so many holes. True, fiction is make-believe, but it should also be plausible. Advancing the time setting to the year 2430 or thereabouts would have helped, I think. Setting the story in the present time makes it hard for viewers to believe in an out-of-this-world ultra-advanced cloning procedure (17 days and you got yourself a clone) and neural map extraction and insertion.

Also, how can you steal not one, but three, big cloning pods, ride them in a huge truck and manage to snuck out from a heavily-guarded biomedical facility without anyone noticing it, and without Keanu and his accomplice having any suspicion about it being too good to be true? Toward the end, it is revealed that the robbery was known all along and that Foster was allowed to do what he did to see if he could succeed, and that surprise! there’s a tracking device in each of the cloned bodies. Maybe I missed that part, but I don’t understand how it got there, or how a cloning pod, where a body was bred into adulthood in murky water, was able to insert a tracker inside the clone that can be disabled through electrocution.

Aside from the above, there are still many holes that leave questions in a viewer’s mind. I could go on and on, but I’m stopping right here and let you be the judge.

It seems, too, that Keanu couldn’t wear off his John Wick personality. As a grieving husband tormented into making a decision as to who among his family he will not clone, as well as many situations he found himself into, he is not very believable. It was hard to emphatize with him and invest in his character. Versatile actors like Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman have this uncanny ability to take a viewer into a different sensory experience regarding their character for each genre they star in. Keanu, sadly, hasn’t been able to take off his poker face, mumbling, grunting, limping style here, much like in Siberia (2018), another disappointment.

But the special effects are truly remarkable. Never mind that it borrowed some of Minority Report’s technology. In that regard, I’m not complaining. Hey, it’s scifi.

I sincerely hope Keanu would pick a tight-plot movie to star in in the near future. With a string of flops behind him, he desperately needs it.

 

This post contains affiliate links. I am a participant in the Apple Affiliate Program and Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, both affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to apple.com, amazon.com, and any other website that may be affiliated with them.

Watch REPLICAS on iTunes: 

<iframe src=”https://widgets.itunes.apple.com/widget.html?c=us&brc=FFFFFF&blc=FFFFFF&trc=FFFFFF&tlc=FFFFFF&d=&t=&m=movie&e=movie&w=250&h=300&ids=1447927921&wt=discovery&partnerId=&affiliate_id=&at=&ct=” frameborder=0 style=”overflow-x:hidden;overflow-y:hidden;width:250px;height: 300px;border:0px”></iframe>

 

 

Articles, Book Reviews

Book Review: They Called Me Wyatt

(This post contains affiliate links. You can find my disclosure at the end of this post.)


I recently reactivated my Reviewer Account on Netgalley and was surprised that it’s been a year since I’ve read a book from there. Probably because I have my hands (and Kindle app) full of books from Bookbub, Bookscream, Book Cave, and Love Kissed, where I am subscribed. (For those who don’t know it yet, these are sites that mail you books at sale prices or even free. You’re welcome ☺️). Truth be told, I still have MANY, MANY books to read but I couldn’t resist picking this one up.

The blurb of They Called Me Wyatt was nothing short of intriguing. Read for yourself:

They Called Me Wyatt
by Natasha Tynes

When Jordanian student Siwar Salaiha is murdered on her birthday in College Park, Maryland, her consciousness survives, finding refuge in the body of a Seattle baby boy. Stuck in this speech delayed three-year old body, Siwar tries but fails to communicate with Wyatt’s parents, instead she focuses on solving the mystery behind her murder. Eventually, her consciousness goes into a dormant state after Wyatt undergoes a major medical procedure.

Fast-forward twenty-two years. Wyatt is a well-adjusted young man with an affinity towards the Middle East and a fear of heights. While working on his graduate degree in Middle Eastern studies, Wyatt learns about Siwar’s death, which occurred twenty-five years ago. For reasons he can’t explain, he grows obsessed with Siwar and spends months investigating her death, which police at the time erroneously ruled as suicide. His investigation forces him to open a door he has kept shut all his life, a spiritual connection to an unknown entity that he frequently refused to acknowledge. His leads take him to Amman, Jordan where after talking to her friends and family members and through his special connection with the deceased, he discovers a clue that unravels the mystery of her death. Will Siwar get justice after all?

See what I mean? I was hooked. I wasn’t too keen on the cover but the premise definitely got me reading the book. Aside from wanting to know who killed her, this different kind of reincarnation was a fresh take on a fictional work. And I wasn’t disappointed.

The book is divided into two parts. Part I is wholly from the point of view of Siwar, the Jordanian girl who was pushed to death on her 25th birthday, and whose consciousness transferred to Wyatt, a three-year old with whom she shares her birth date. The how and the why of her reincarnation, if you can call it that, was not explained. Maybe because it simply is unexplainable.

There are laughable incidents when Siwar realised she’s in a different body. They served as a breather from all the mystery and darkness that surrounded her murder. 

I avoid looking at myself in the mirror. The first time I saw the face of a blue-eyed three-year old Caucasian looking back at me in the mirror, I shrieked. Both Noah and Krista laughed at my reaction.

There is another annoyance to my new status. I’m very uncomfortable with my boyhood. I have a penis and testicles and the whole package. I try not to look down there when Krista changes me, but having a penis is hard to ignore. It’s always protruding, always there.

In Part II, the point of view switched between Siwar and Wyatt, who is now a fully grown-up man, extremely interested in Middle Eastern culture, with her niece as his girlfriend. The development of Wyatt’s awareness of Siwar’s presence in his mind and her hand in almost all aspects of his life was convincing and unnerving. It raises many questions as to his true identity and personality, though. How much of Siwar was Wyatt? Who, really, is Wyatt? Or, worse: Is there really a Wyatt?

For the most part of the book, Siwar’s loneliness, regrets and sadness prevailed. Dying young has robbed her of many things in life. She had many dreams and aspirations which were cut short by a murderer. But perhaps, the most glaring of all her misgivings was her disappointment in dying with her virginity intact. Her insecurities and repressed sexuality resonated throughout the book. In relating her life story, the author brings us a vivid glimpse of Arabic, specifically, Jordanian culture, and how girls are treated (or judged?) there, especially when it comes to having relationships with boys. The narratives involving Siwar’s involvement with several boys foreshadowed the solution of the crime. The twists and turns are enjoyable and the murderer turned out as someone you’d not imagine it to be.

There are a few typographical and grammatical errors which could have made reading this book more pleasant. But all in all, They Called Me Wyatt is a fine work of fiction that is at once humorous, poignant, and suspenseful.

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. You can pre-order the book here.


Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com, and any other website that may be affiliated with Amazon Service LLC Associates Program.

Articles, Movie Reviews, Reviews

Movie Review: SEARCHING


(This post contains affiliate links. You can find my disclosure at the end of this post.)


Initially titled “Search,” this seemingly unobtrusive movie received The Audience Award: NEXT and the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize for outstanding feature film about science or technology at the Sundance Film Festival last year (2018), before it was bought for $5 Million by Sony and retitled, “Searching.” It went on to be a financial and critical success worldwide.

And well it should be. The story of a determined father searching for his missing daughter may be cliché, but this film brought it to a whole new level. And I’m not talking about gun-crazy, across-the-world, Liam Neeson-kind of movie. “Searching” is a compelling, ingenious take on the good and bad sides of the power of technology in our modern times. And not just technology. This movie was an eye-opener on other things, things we may have intentionally, or unintentionally, turned a blind eye to.

David Kim becomes desperate when his 16-year-old daughter Margot disappears and an immediate police investigation leads nowhere. He soon decides to search the one place that no one else has — Margot’s laptop. Hoping to trace her digital footprints, David contacts her friends and looks at photos and videos for any possible clues to her whereabouts.

The story was largely told using screens of, you name it, iPhone, SmartPhone, MacBook, FaceTime, YouTube, Gmail, and many social media platforms. Modern technology at its best. But it was done expertly and beautifully so as to render it intriguing and suspenseful instead of boring and monotonous.

John Cho who played David Kim was perfect for the role. His acting was excellent. Intense but artistically restrained. He is a father emotionally laden by his daughter’s disappearance—fear, guilt, confusion, anger, shame intermingled, grappled inside him. But he is also a father with a good head on his shoulders, and he used it to full advantage. He remained focused, utilising every technological means he knew, and never once did he let his emotions rule over his mind. He was unwavering and resolute to the very end.

{ I felt hope when Searching is hailed as the first mainstream Hollywood thriller headlined by an Asian-American actor. Maybe another successful mainstream Hollywood movie with a lead Filipino actor will not be long in the making? }

This movie is like a compass: there’s always a North and a South, an East and a West… of many things. Technology can be good. It can make life easier; communication faster; chores simpler. It can help find missing persons; capture an offender; solve a crime. But it can also be bad, when it is used to estrange oneself from family and loved ones; keep secrets; tarnish one’s reputation; mislead people. A parent’s love can be good. It can fuel an unrelenting determination to find a missing child, whatever it may take; to look past her imperfections made known only now; to hold on to the hope that she is still alive and therefore they have a chance to rebuild and rebond their connection. But it can also be bad, when it pushes one to lie, use police resources wrongly, and even kill, to cover up a child’s misdeed, however unpremeditated it may have been. Having friends can be good. But it can also be bad when they’re not really friends at all, just people who’d use you for a moment of online glory or fame. Being solitary can be good. And it can also be bad, leading to bouts of depression and shutting out of people who truly love us. Being an expert in technology can be good. But it can be bad, either, when one uses it to invade others’ privacy without consent and without restraint. And the list goes on.

Emotional yet technical. Suspenseful yet hopeful.

There are many things in this movie than meet the eye, all relevant and thought-provoking. Complete with twists and turns that will make your heart palpitate, this film is worth the awards it received, and much, much more. Highly recommended! 🦋

You can buy or rent this movie here.


Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com, and any other website that may be affiliated with Amazon Service LLC Associates Program.

Articles, Inspiration

The Worth of Us

Photo by Elena Cordery on Unsplash

Sometimes we need to be reminded of this. You know, those days when you’re feeling down and low and worthless. When you’re feeling insecure about your writing, and you’re thinking, is this worth my time? When someone’s criticism or bad review gets to your nerves and you just want to hide under the covers and stay there. When some people don’t take us seriously or appreciate us the way we want to.

This quote is for you, and for all of us writers who go through those kinds of days. Because no matter what others say or do, it doesn’t make us any less valuable. It doesn’t make our creativity any less good, or original, or distinctly ours.

This doesn’t mean that we don’t consider other people’s opinion about us or our works. We do, especially from people close to our hearts. And we try to change for the better, to improve our craft. But we don’t let them break our spirit and define us, or our creations.