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Belated Happy New Year

A belated Happy New Year to you all!

There should be a surprise right around the corner.


Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Stay safe, have fun, and have a Happy New Year too.

Currently Overseas and a Status Update

For various reasons, I am currently overseas. Unfortunately, internet is slow or intermittent where I am, which will make updates somewhat unlikely for the time being. Depending on the stability and speed of my internet connection, I hope to have The Hungry Dragon Cookie Company available by New Year. Failing that, I will be back in Australia in the second week of January, and it should be available then.

As an aside, it will not be filed under The Unconventional Heroes Series on Amazon due to Amazon not liking unnumbered entries into a series. That is, you can’t have a book be part of a series without assigning it a number, at least, as far as I know. Instead, it will be filed under The Unconventional Heroes Series Side Stories to distinguish it (and any subsequent short story collections) from the main series.

The main reason for doing this is that filing it under the main series puts subsequent titles out of sync (e.g., the next volume of the main series would be classified as Part 5 instead of Part 4). Furthermore, it is a collection of short stories whereas all of the parts of the main series will be novel-like in their approach.

What do you guys think? Does this seem like a sensible thing to do? Let me know.


I have a habit of waving or nodding at people I see around my neighbourhood on a regular basis. It doesn’t really matter if I know them well. If I see someone often enough, the odds are pretty good that I will either wave at them if they’re on the opposite side of the street or nod at them if we are passing each other on the footpath. Since I live in a fairly friendly neighbourhood, I will usually get a wave or a nod back.

You’re probably starting to wonder where I’m going with this. Well, sometimes, waving or nodding at someone can get complicated.

You see, one of the people I encounter regularly is this lovely, old Chinese woman. She goes walking at roughly the same time each day, and she always wears the same jacket and the same bright red hat. She isn’t particularly quick on her feet, but that’s completely understandable. She is old. Very old. So the fact that she’s walking regularly should be commended.

As someone who walks/jogs along almost the same route as her each day, it wasn’t long before I started to wave or nod at her, and she would always wave or nod back. In fact, I don’t think anyone in the neighbourhood can beat her enthusiasm when it comes to waving or nodding back.

After a few weeks of this, something interesting happened. She started talking to me in Chinese.

There was just one problem. I don’t speak a word of Chinese. Well, technically, that’s not completely true. Some of my best friends over the years have been Chinese, so I can recognise the language and sort of swear in it if I have to. Of course, being able to recognise the language or toss out the occasional swear word were not going to help me communicate with this kind, old lady.

It got worse.

I am generally a polite person. So even though I couldn’t understand a word of what she was saying, I would always do the polite thing and smile and nod. After all, even if I couldn’t understand what she was saying, her big smile and happy voice made it pretty clear that she was trying to be friendly. Alas, my attempts to do the neighbourly thing and be friendly backfired.

She now thinks I speak Chinese.

Whenever I see her, she will now deliver between thirty seconds to a minute of Chinese… and I will smile, nod, and pretend I understand, which does precisely nothing to clear up the misunderstanding. Oh well. It seems to make her happy (she lives with her family but none of them ever go walking with her), and it doesn’t cost me anything to smile.

I’m just morbidly curious now to see how long I can keep up the charade. Or I could learn Chinese.


If you want to read more about my thoughts on writing, education, and other subjects, you can find those here.

I also write original fiction, which you can find here.

Progress Report (11-12-2017)

I’m back with another progress report, and I come bearing mostly good news. I’m not finished… but I am very close.

The current collection of short stories that I’m working on is set in The Unconventional Heroes Series, and the stories occur at various points in the timeline. For example, some occur prior to Two Necromancers, a Bureaucrat, and an Elf while others occur after Two Necromancers, a Dragon, and a Vampire.

The good news is that I have finished writing it. It weighs in at roughly 157, 000 words, which makes it just shorter than Two Necromancers, a Dragon, and a Vampire. The collection contains fourteen stories, and you can expect to see all of your favourite characters, along with some you’ve heard of but never actually met before.

The bad news is that I haven’t finished proofreading it yet. I hope to have that done in the next fortnight or so.

In any case, I just thought I’d let all of you know what’s going on.


I have always been enamoured with beautiful handwriting. There is something distinctly old-fashioned yet appealing about a handwritten letter, as opposed to something more contemporary, like an email or text message.

I want to believe that the very formation of the letters in each word gives some clue as to the mindset of the writer. Harsh words written in a harsh hand are far more striking than harsh words neatly typed in Courier or Times New Roman. Likewise, a sentimental expression of deepest affection in the inimitable hand of a loved one can linger for far longer in the heart than a similar message delivered in a well-known and utterly standardised font.

Alas, my handwriting is terrible. Yes, that’s right. It’s terrible. I’m not sure whether it is more accurate to describe it as resembling an archaic form of runes or as simple chicken scratch. Either description would be quite apt, much to my dismay. It is not, I assure you, due to laziness. Like many a dutiful primary (elementary) school student, I studiously worked my way through those handwriting books the teachers claimed would endow me with the awesome power of neat handwriting. I got through all of the books, slavishly following each and every instruction, only to emerge with awful handwriting all the same. It is a remarkable testament to my consistency, albeit the wrong kind of consistency.

Apparently, one of my super powers is the ability to complete all of the exercises and not actually get any better. My bad handwriting is therefore impressive in the same way that drug-resistant bacteria is impressive: you can’t help but admire how hard it is to kill, even as you look for a new way to kill it.

As an aside, my handwriting is almost identical to my brother’s. Indeed, if you were to show our handwriting to someone who did not know us well, they could be forgiven for thinking that the same person had written both. In a more exasperating vein, my twin has stellar handwriting that very much puts mine to shame. Perhaps she somehow stole all my handwriting powers in utero.

This is probably why I do not write a lot of things by hand. I can decipher the cryptograms with ease, but many other readers cannot. For example, if I were to write someone a note pledging them my affection, they would probably respond by wondering if I had given them some sort of puzzle to complete, possible a code of some kind written in a heretofore unknown variant of hieroglyphics. It would not, I imagine, make for the most moving love letter.

It is also ironic that my writing has only made my handwriting worse. That is to say, my extensive use of a computer to write my stories, as opposed to handwriting the drafts as some authors prefer to do, has reduced even further the amour of actual handwriting I do. My already less than stellar handwriting now has the added benefit of lack of practice to help it reach its full potential.

Oh well.

Recently, one of the family friends that I am tutoring apologised for his messy handwriting. Had his tutor been someone else, he might have had a point. Instead, I simply smiled and pointed out that the correction’s I’d written on his essay were hardly any neater. Birds of a feather, I suppose.

Nevertheless, I continue to admire people with excellent handwriting. In the same way that man once envied the bird’s ability to fly, so too do I envy their ability to turn handwriting into an art form. However, unlike mankind eventually learning how to fly, I doubt I’ll ever get my handwriting to be anything but serviceable.

If you want to read more about my thoughts on writing, education, and other subjects, you can find those here.

I also write original fiction, which you can find here.

Good, Better, Best

Good, better, best.

Most of us have heard words to that effect in which we are encouraged to constantly work to improve, making our good better until we can give our best. I think this is good advice, but it can often be misinterpreted, especially when it comes to writing.

One of the single most common mistakes that I see in writing is people trying to perfect something too quickly. For example, I’ve seen many students over the years spend far too long on a first draft of an essay or report because they don’t think it’s good enough. They want it to not just be good or even better. They want it to be their best.

But that doesn’t make any sense.

A first draft is precisely that: a first draft. It’s not supposed to be perfect. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be good. The whole point of a first draft is to provide a rough idea of what direction a piece of writing is taking, so the writer can get some sense of what works and what doesn’t. The real improvement comes in the subsequent drafts that eventually give rise to a final copy that is either submitted or published, depending on whether the writer is a student or an author.

Good, better, best is a process. You start off with something that is ‘good’ or even just okay, and then you try to make it better. From there you keep making it better, iterating through multiple drafts, until you arrive at something you are happy with.

Trying to skip good and go all the way to best is a recipe for disaster. It is far, far easier to improve and fix something than it is to come up with something in the first place. Rather than trying to do everything in one draft or version, split the work load. The first draft might just be proof of principle or a rough outline. The second draft might flesh out the ideas/story, and the third draft might add even more detail. This will allow you to focus on one thing at a time, which is generally much easier than worrying about multiple things at the same time.

To be honest, my drafting process often looks more like this:

Bad, less bad, kind of okay, good, better, best.

And that’s fine. If you have the luxury of being able to make use of drafts, then you’d be foolish not to take advantage. There’s nothing wrong with striving for perfection… just don’t expect to get it first try. Instead, worry about getting your writing off the ground. Once you’ve done that, then you can begin the process of honing and improving it until you’re truly happy with it.

If you want to read more about my thoughts on writing, education, and other subjects, you can find those here.

I also write original fiction, which you can find here.