Archive for May, 2010

Filipino Martial Arts – Kali/Arnis/Escrima

I’ve always wanted to take some kind of martial art when I was a kid.  From preschool to grade 2, school only lasted from 7am-12nn. I remember rushing home after school, gobbling down a quick lunch and switching on our little TV to watch those afternoon kung fu shows. Those black and white shows –originally  Chinese–were dubbed in English. I didn’t mind that the actors’ lips were never quite synchronized with the words supposedly coming out of their mouths.  I was just interested in the action-packed plot lines and the cool martial arts moves.

Watching a young Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee was enough to inspire me. My dream goal was to get a black belt in any martial art. Of course, the only black belt I ever got was the one I bought at the nearby mall.

School got busier as the years went by. Once I graduated from college, I quickly joined the work force as an English teacher. And teachers rarely have time to achieve their dream goals. They’re always so busy checking papers or encouraging their students to follow their dreams.

I never thought I’d get the chance to achieve this particular goal, as life often gets in the way of dreams. But being the determined (or  stubborn) person that I am, I decided to start pursuing my dream goals one by one.  Last April I joined our city recreation program for Filipino Stick Fighting (Doce Pares multi-style martial art system).  I instantly fell in love with the program.  They teach us all sorts of fighting techniques (stick/sword fighting, empty hand, dagger) and the class instructor is pretty easygoing (and very patient).

It’s an extra hundred dollars a month, but the class is well worth it.  I get to learn self-defense, fulfill a childhood dream, learn about martial arts (which is very helpful for the kind of book I’m writing), as well as get my weekly dose of exercise.

I was quite happy when I heard about the Filipino Gatorade Propel Commercial which featured a young lady kicking ass with her Escrima sticks. (See video below)

I wish the video were longer. Or better yet, I wish someone would make a movie or something featuring this kind of martial art. It’s not as well known as Taekwondo or Karate, but it’s just as deadly (if not more) and more importantly –a hell of a lot of fun to learn.

I may not get that black belt anytime soon ( I hear it takes at least 5 years for this specific martial art) but at least I’ve taken the step to fulfill one of my dream goals.  After all, reaching one’s goal is important, but it’s not as important as trying.

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Legend of the Seeker – Save Our Seeker

I watched the season finale  last Sunday and if we didn’t have guests at home,  I probably would have burst out crying.  Why? Well, the cast was blindingly spectacular as usual (Just watching Bridget’s hair flying in her fight scenes makes me weep) and the writers of the show soaked the final episodes with suspense. (I literally held my breath during commercials). But that isn’t the reason behind my “almost-nervous-breakdown.”

The reason is that I couldn’t believe that the show was at an end. I mean, I’ve known since April that the show was getting axed (they announced it on my birthday, of all days!) but like many of the show’s fans, I refused to accept this as fact. Which is why I am calling last sunday’s episode a SEASON FINALE, and NOT the  SERIES FINALE.

Many of my favorite shows have been axed by TV networks who don’t see the value of shows which make you think, feel or otherwise engage your imagination. They would rather stand by trashy reality shows because they don’t cost much to make and they actually have wide viewership.  These networks are only contributing to the already diminishing intellectual capacity of all their viewers.  They’ll turn us all into mindless zombies if they keep on removing shows like LEGEND OF THE SEEKER.

Some people might not like the show because it hasn’t stayed true to the book series written by Terry Goodkind. Funny thing is that Terry Goodkind himself lends his support to saving the show . It makes sense, you see. – fans of the show sooner or later become fans of the book series and any show that makes you want to read is worth keeping around.

As a (middle grade)  fantasy writer who’s trying to break into the mainstream, it is very important me for me to be constantly reading/watching in my genre. Fantasy shows like LEGEND OF THE SEEKER not only provide me with intelligent entertainment (just figuring out the plot twists is enough to keep one’s brain active for years) , but also inspires me to create my own stories.

There are so many reasons this show is worth saving.

1. Bridget Regan’s hair (I honestly don’t know how she keeps her hair looking fabulous even after kicking a lot of ass) -along with the rest of her

2. Craig Horner’s expressive eyes and his particularly muscular frame.

3. Tabrett Bethell’s endless quips  combined with her sexy leather outfit should be enough to keep any show going.

4. Craig Parker’s drawling monologues and his biceps.

5. Bruce Spence’s witty remarks.

6. The show’s amazing special effects ( I particularly love the slow-motion technique they employ during fight scenes)

7. The ever-changing, always surprising, complex plots (I love the writers of this show, whoever they are)

8. The super supportive fans (like myself) who will follow the show wherever it goes. (I don’t care if TVland buys the show and I have to watch it at 2am).

Obviously these aren’t the only reasons behind LEGEND OF THE SEEKER’S AWESOMENESS.  But these are all I can think of for now.  (Fellow fans are free to add their own thoughts and reasons to this blog).

Just take our word for it. LEGEND OF THE SEEKER is a great, great, great show. Just listen to the Save our seeker theme song and you’ll understand why we fans would like to save this show.  I for one have joined the save our seeker campaign. Why? Because this show is worth it.

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

J.K. Rowling has left the building. Or has she?

She may have finished writing the Harry Potter series, but the Harry Potter culture continues to thrive.  Fans look forward to the two movie screen versions of the last book. And when that’s over — throngs of them will fly to Orlando, Florida ‘s Universal City where the new HarryPotterland has just finished.

Just goes to show that great books never die. The characters live on in the hearts and minds of their faithful readers–and in theme parks.

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Who Do You Think You Are

Watched two episodes on last night and I have to say I am hooked!

Channel: NBC

Premise: Celebrities travel all over the world to discover their ancestry. They discover family secrets, walk on roads their ancestors have trodden on generations before, and change their perspectives about themselves.

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Reading Book Series

I’ve always loved reading book series.  When the story is good, I get so involved in the characters  and I become so emotionally attached to them. I gasp when they gasp, cry when they get undergo emotional episodes, laugh when they show their funny side and get angry when other characters try to bring them down.

Good characters become good friends and as an avid reader, I like to accompany these new found character-friends on their adventures. I’d like to share their ups and downs and see them through to the end.

Sometimes I get impatient and I want to know what happens right away.  I finish Book 1 in a really good series and I drive up to the nearest bookstore to get Book 2, only to find out I have to wait another year before reading the next one. I pace and bite my nails and wring my hands in frustration when this happens, then resigning myself to the waiting, I pick up a new book and start a new series all over again.

Before I started writing my novel,  I’d have imaginary conversations with my favorite authors about their books. I’d either:

a.  Encourage them to hurry up and finish their novel so I can read it already

b.  Holler at them for leaving me with a cliffhanger, then taking their sweet time in writing the next book

c. Beg them to just please, please write the next one already so I can find out what’s happened to my favorite     characters

My imaginary conversations always end up with my favorite author turning her nose up in disgust at my outbursts or  sighing patiently, then shuffling away to her office to do as I’ve said and finish the next book.

Of course, we never truly understand what a person goes through to achieve something, unless we ourselves experience the same thing.

When I took up writing my fantasy novel a year and a half ago,  I learned for myself how difficult writing a novel really is.  I began to see my favorite authors in a new light. Now that I’m going through it myself, I understand completely the lengths they go through just to make deadlines and publish the next novel in their series.

My imaginary conversations with them have considerably changed. Nowadays, all I do is have very short (For their time is very valuable) phone conversations with them to tell them what  an excellent job their doing, to express my gratitude that they even took up writing and to shower them with praises about how wonderful they are.

Most days though, I barely have time to have imaginary conversations with my favorite authors.

I’m too busy slogging through my  own novel.

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Letting the Manuscript Stew

November 25, 2009 (Century)

I’m the process of editing my book.  I’m in the process of distancing myself from the manuscript I’ve just finished, to be exact.

It feels weird not to be writing everyday, but I am nevertheless thankful for the break. I’m reading all these books about self-editing and taking notes. All the books I’ve read so far have been very helpful. I’m already getting ideas on how to edit my work and on what to change.

I’m excited to dive into the whole editing thing. I know it’s not going to be easy but I’ve promised to commit to the task with one goal in mind: To edit the manuscript and come out with a novel that will make any agent or publisher say: “This is it. Our next bestseller.”

All I really want is to take the story I love and make other people love it too. So if I have to edit it three thousand times, I will.

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First Draft

November 13, 2009

Today I finished writing the first draft of my novel.

Wow. I can’t believe it. Maybe in a few hours it’ll finally sink in.

I finished writing the first draft. Now all I need to do is let is sit for a month, focus on other things and then edit it three times.

Holy cow! I finished the first draft!


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Literary Agents

September 10, 2009 (Batang)

I’m so excited to have my book published that I’m already making random searches for Literary Agents in the area.

Which is funny because I haven’t even finished writing the first draft of my book yet.

I’m halfway there, though. Currently I’m working on chapter 13. I can write a chapter a day if I’m inspired. Mostly though I just finish one or two scenes per day, which means I can finish a chapter in 2-3 days. I write pretty fast because I spent 6 months plotting my entire book. I think it’s been helpful since now I can just look at the outline I made for that scene and write the scene out.

But man, am I excited! It’s probably not going to be as easy as I imagine it would be – to publish a book I mean. There’s going to be a lot of waiting around for agents to reply, but I don’t care. As long as my book gets published, I’ll be alright.

So I’m thinking that I’ll finish writing the first draft of my book sometime in November or December. In January, I’ll start editing the book. I’ll do the first edit while I’m working on my working papers and do the second edit while I’m waiting for the interview. I think I’ll also start sending out query letters while I’m doing the 2nd edit since it’ll take much time. By the time I get my magic numbers, hopefully I’ll find an agent whose willing to work with me. For some reason I get the feeling that finding an agent will be fast. Maybe I’m just vain – or incredibly optimistic. I just have a feeling about this book.

Anyway, I’m lucky to be living in LA. There are many agents around here since its one of the major cities in the world. Plus most of the literary agents here work for film rights as well as publishing rights.

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Finished Plotting

July 22, 2009 (DS_Celtic-2)

After outlining my story for almost 6 months, I finally finished plotting my fantasy book last Wednesday, July 15th. I spent the next day copying the scenes and pasting them into section sheets. I printed out the section sheets and had them bound at Staples. The following day, Friday, July 17th, I finally started writing the first chapter of my book.

It was an exhilarating feeling to finally be able to write out the story that had been forming in my head since the year started. When I finished plotting, I felt like I had already accomplished something major. I was right to outline my story the way I did, plotting out scenes and sections. It really is helping me write out the chapters more quickly since I know what’s supposed to happen next.

I love writing. I’ve always loved it – but I’ve never really had a true passion for it until I started the process of writing my novel this year. I’m always itching to write and my day doesn’t feel complete until I’ve added a few more words to my story. The slow economy has affected the amount of paperwork I do at my daily job, but I view it as a bonus on my part. It only gives me more time to write my book.

I don’t know if writing a journal entry first thing in the morning will help or hinder the process of writing my novel. On one hand, it might loosen up my writing consciousness as well as my fingers. On the other hand, it might get me too tired to work on my novel. Maybe I will write an entry every morning. I think the benefits far outweigh the detriments.

It feels wonderful to be writing again. I know I am committed to finishing this book. I hope my future readers see all the love and passion I have put into writing the book. All I can really hope for is to finish a book that everyone will enjoy reading as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

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Finally Writing

June 15, 2009

On a Business Trip, San Francisco, CA

It’s been awhile since I’ve written any journal entries. The last entry I had was in March of this year. A lot has happened since then. I’ve been very busy with so many activities. We have a lot of group events and happenings. 

Yes. It’s true. I’ve started writing again. Well, at least I’ve started plotting my first ever novel. I always thought my first book would be a memoir about my teaching years. I guess I was wrong. I’ve had this idea about a young adult fantasy book for a long time now and I found myself more excited at the thought of writing it than at the thought of writing my memoir. So I said, what the heck – I might as well write what I enjoy reading.

It really is difficult to start writing a journal entry after two and a half months of inactivity. The truth is, work has been busy lately. I’m finding myself busier nowadays than I have been before. It might be because I’m not only doing actual bookkeeping work, but I’ve also been stealing some time to plot my novel.

I really am excited about this novel. It’s my new obsession. Everyday at work I try to steal some time to plot my novel. I’m almost half way through and I can’t wait to get to plotting the very end just so I can start actually writing it. My goal is to finish writing it before the year ends. It will be a nice Christmas gift for myself, my family and my friends.

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