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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2120742
Rated: E · Letter/Memo · Personal · #2120742
New to my port? Little time, too much to read? This should help.
Thank you Samberine Everose for the beautiful awardicon that graces this letter!

Signature for winners of Quill Awards for 2017
Best New Portfolio 2017

Dear Reader,

you are my favourite person in the world. Without you, I would not be me. The writer part of me would wither and whither would I flee? *BigSmile*

THE BACKSTORY (skip if you're not interested in how my writing journey made me stumble onto WDC)
My short bio mentions that I have been writing for over two years now. I started two months after my son Lynx was born in July 2014. I wrote him as the protagonist in my first attempt at a novel "Was Eternal - Hope Falls [GC], and finished a really terrible and boring first draft in three months that no one would read, except me. I loved it and hated it. It was beautiful and terrible. I begged my friends to give it a try, and the staunchest of them gave the dense prologue a try. None survived. My sister lasted a page. I had discovered the cure to lectiophilia.

I refused to give up. Two plus years later in late December 2016, I finally finished my 10th major edit/overhaul and was desperate to push it out to publishers for review. I had rewritten the same 200,000 word story 10 different times, possibly making it worse every time. It became my Frankenstein monster. Every single one of its flaws (I thought) was clear but dear to me. I badly wanted it to succeed, but what I really wanted was approval and encouragement -- not an endorsement of the patchwork quality of my amateurish work, but of my heroic and unnoticed efforts.

I checked out online publishers, and saw a novella contest by Tor.com for high/quest fantasy. The deadline was in 6 days. I wrote like a madman and churned out "The Fifth Claw [13+] by the January 12th deadline. It's been 4 months and I've gone from 88 to 13 in the queue to be read. In my fantasy world, the novella is the bait for publishers to ask about my novel. That will probably never become reality, sadly, but one can hope, right? (Update: My novella was rejected, and till this day no one has asked about my novel -- I am a prophet!)

Next I tried my hand at https://publishizer.com's 'Queerly Lit' book proposal contest, and came up with "Balls! When A Girl Has Them - The Novel [13+]. I cut my teeth on drafting book proposals and managing fail online fundraising campaigns from that experience. But the five out of twenty chapters I managed to conjure up somehow caught the attention of 4 different publishers. Sadly they were either self-publishing companies or hybrids, who offered to publish my work only if I paid them between $1500 to $2500 for their packages. Too poor to afford such options, my dream of a big traditional publishing house arriving at my door with a palanquin to parade me down the street in victory, and present me with a big, fat advance flew like a cuckoo out the window.

Then came WDC. I didn't know what it was. I signed up on a lark, and tried my hand at one of the contests "The Dialogue 500 [18+]. A depressing month later, I popped back in and received a dose of ambrosia -- I won! Really? I needed more of this drug, and so I started trying out for more contests, which brings me to Robert Edward Baker ...

His first review of one of my stories was the best thing I had read for years (note that I had previously been obsessed with my Frankenstein monster, and the only other literature I made time for was Facebook and student essays... okay, I confess I read the news too). I heard the celebratory music -- you know the one you get when your character levels up in a game? I felt my brain expand. I saw on my stat sheet -- +1 narrative structure, +1 character development, +2 use of language. Woohoo! Two years of hard work had made me no better, no worse as a writer, but one insightful review? I upgraded my membership immediately after that, like I was shouting to my wife, "Where's your credit card?!"

Master Bob continues to be one of the writers who helps me hone my craft most, especially my unrefined language and weak sense of poetic structure. But I've since come across so many other amazing writers and poets here, who will all eventually find their way into "Insatiable [E], where I list all the very best writing and writers on WDC I have read (in my opinion). The great writing and ideas I come across here inspire me to up my game, and better my writing.

And so this is where you come in. Thank you for your patience in reading my backstory. Now it's time for the fun and work to begin!

If you're a hardcore fan who's trying to systematically go through every single item in my WDC portfolio, here are chronological lists of everything I've written:
2017 in Words  (E)
A list of everything I wrote and put up at Writing.com in 2017, including notes.
#2144504 by Azrael Tseng

Now of course you may simply just skip to any of the folders in my portfolio and choose to review whatever catches your eye to read. I like to dabble in different genres, so you should find something worth your time no matter what your preferences are. But if you want to help me out, these are the items I really want to improve, because I know there's something not quite right about it and I need your input!

Dead Man's Grin  (13+)
To get to heaven, you gotta go through hell.
#2163385 by Azrael Tseng

This is my first attempt at steampunk western. Do I need stronger, more likeable characters (especially the protagonist)? Are the steampunk elements too superficial and cosmetic, or just bland and unexciting? What did I do right and wrong here? Any feedback, especially from fans and more experienced writers in this genre, will be most helpful and appreciated!

The Fifth Claw  (13+)
What would an Oriental dragon do to become a god on Earth? Quill HM.
#2116635 by Azrael Tseng

If you enjoyed the above story, or like reading about dragons in general and kungfu, then you may enjoy this 9-chapter novella. I feel like this may be my unique entry into a fantasy market already saturated with dragon stories of every kind. By using Oriental dragons to hook dragon fans, I hope to introduce Eastern philosophy, history and culture that is part of the heritage I grew up with to Western readers. I would deeply appreciate any kind of feedback on this work, especially with regard to whether it is a publish-worthy effort. If not, which areas need to be improved for it to become so?

Perfect Paws  (13+)
Anthropomorphic furry fiction inspired by Terry Knight. Quill Award nominee.
#2161198 by Azrael Tseng

Another first attempt, this time at anthropomorphic aka furry fiction. Meant to be a scifi mystery, I tried writing from the third-person omniscient narrator perspective for the first time and got some feedback about viewpoint errors. What are the rules regarding the God perspective? Did I succeed in making the Wers a critical component of the story, or are they cosmetic in function? Did it feel scifi-y enough?

i've decided to reorganise this part to list my most recent writings by genre, as well as my recommendation(s) for older works in that genre.

For an adventure story from my mountain-climbing days, check out
Off The Roof Of The World  (E)
A high-altitude expedition across treacherous terrain hits an unexpected end. True story.
#2164756 by Azrael Tseng

This poem is from a dark period in my life
You Would Have Been Loved  (E)
For our first, our much beloved child. Shadows & Light HM. Quill winner.
#2160349 by Azrael Tseng

Another poem, this one from my childhood!
Growing Ghosts of the Gobi  (13+)
A trip back home tracing ancestral roots finds ghosts... 1st Place ATWI52W contest.
#2126356 by Azrael Tseng

Evergreen Recommendation: Not my most polished piece, but this one's deeply personal
Where You Stand  (13+)
For my mother, and all she suffered. 2nd Shadows & Light, 1st Love Shouldn't Hurt.
#2120829 by Azrael Tseng

Historical Fiction
More of contemporary history, this is supposed to be somewhat inspirational as well.
Noodle Soup For The Soul Blind  (E)
A blind chef turns to her noodles for an answer. 1st place Character Flaws Contest.
#2164859 by Azrael Tseng

An origin story for one of my many characters in the Was Eternal world, with a slight dash of romance
Chasing Desire  (13+)
The truth shall set you free. Historical Fiction, Spiritual Fiction & Supernatural (2nd).
#2164020 by Azrael Tseng

Probably the most awesome female samurai who ever lived and died the bushido way.
The Last Heads Of Tomoe Gozen  (13+)
Even the best must fall. Historical Fiction contest winner.
#2153359 by Azrael Tseng

Evergreen Recommendation: Flash fiction for Outlander fans.
On The Scattered Bones Of The Hebrides  (E)
The last voyage of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Writer's Cramp winner.
#2115907 by Azrael Tseng

Science Fiction
My first attempt at pure punk fiction, set in the Was Eternal world as well.
Stairway to Spaceport Z  (18+)
A quest for noodles sets a punk rocker against celestial forces.
#2166196 by Azrael Tseng

Short sub-2000 word version of the 5000-word version, this should appeal to fans of James Herbert.
Ootheca Earth  (18+)
Cockroaches... why does it have to be cockroaches?
#2165184 by Azrael Tseng

My first attempt at steampunk, which I'm still learning about.
The Case Of The Palimpsest  (E)
Why would anyone want that drawing? Writer's Cramp, Grim Blunt, & Twisted Tales winner.
#2126919 by Azrael Tseng

Still very much a first draft, this story is set in Japan's famous Suicide Forest.
The Forest Needs To Feed  (18+)
A spirit of lust wanders among the trees. Screams winner.
#2167011 by Azrael Tseng

This is actually the second story from my collection of stories about the diverse people living in Singapore.
Burnt Out  (18+)
How much more can she take?
#2161516 by Azrael Tseng

A 2018 Quill nominee, this one is centered around Native Americans.
Cry of the Llano  (ASR)
Can a young Kiowa prevent a tragic massacre? 1st Place Journey Thru Genres, Quill HM.
#2150678 by Azrael Tseng

Evergreen Recommendation: My folder dedicated to tales to make you gasp won the 2017 Quill for Best Short Story Collection. There's probably something in here that'll make you scream or find out what the last thing you ate has been doing inside you.
My Pandora's Box  (GC)
For what we shouldn't let out... shadows on wings often come with a sting. Quill winner.
#2114400 by Azrael Tseng

For pet lovers everywhere.
Old Enough  (E)
What can eighteen years mean? 1st place Shadows & Light contest.
#2168447 by Azrael Tseng

A celebration of nature as well as of the family, this touches on the second-most important festival in the year for Chinese every autumn.
Pieces of Once Full Moon  (ASR)
A family beset by tragedy celebrates the Mid-Autumn Festival.
#2168001 by Azrael Tseng

A dark, satirical poem about surviving the apocalypse.
Sixty Feet Under  (E)
How long can we escape from reality? Rebel Poetry winner. Quill Award Honourable Mention.
#2164608 by Azrael Tseng

Evergreen Recommendation: Inspired by the manner of my grandpa's passing, when he could no longer recognise his family gathered around him.
Waiting For Me  (E)
The ravages of time spare no one. 1st place Shadows & Light contest. Quill Award winner.
#2130057 by Azrael Tseng

Published Pieces
One of three stories of mine to appear in Plot Pourri, an anthology of short stories by Singaporean writers, this was my second attempt at scifi.
The Giveaway  (E)
Who, or what, can you trust? 1st place Short Shots March '17, Quill award nominee.
#2116264 by Azrael Tseng

Inspired by a horrific true story, this mixes heart-wringing with the macabre.
Days Of Never Letting Go  (18+)
Death is no barrier to love. 3rd Place Quotation Inspiration contest.
#2125900 by Azrael Tseng

This one is a short but true account of my days as a teenage runaway sleeping on the streets.
The Boy Who Ran  (13+)
I started running at 13 to escape Dad’s fists and kicks. This is my story. 1st WFTH.
#2126614 by Azrael Tseng

Published on The Pangolin Review, this short poem won a Quill!
My Tiny Bit of Green  (E)
What we do, and undo... 2nd Place Earth Day Challenge. Quill Award winner.
#2119566 by Azrael Tseng

Like every other writer out there, I want to be published and recognised for my writing efforts. With self-publishers and writing sites like WDC, this actually wavers between dreamscape and reality. So my bigger, grander dream is...

To be financially comfortable enough to travel around the world writing people's stories for them. Why?

This was the real reason I started writing in the first place -- I wanted to 'immortalise' my thoughts and ideas in fiction for my son, so that he would always have and know that part of me. And I believe that is what many people want -- for their children and grandchildren to know their stories, and to know them.

The catalyst for this came in April 2016 when my grandmother passed away at 94. It had always been at the back of my head to one day learn her dialect and communicate with her enough to learn her stories. She had 9 children, survived World War II, lost two children (one to Japanese yakuza) and spent most of her life searching for the lost son who was never found. She had bound feet, developed a hunchback from years of hard labor, and was a character fit for a novel and a movie. But I never learnt her stories -- not from her own mouth.

It made me realise how many people might leave our lives and our world without anyone really knowing them, and it made me very sad. So instead of just making up stories, I figure -- why not help other people write down their life stories, add a dash of drama or a rippling of romance? Then I would present their written stories back to them as a gift to pass down to those who would read and know them.

Sigh, that's my dream.

© Copyright 2017 Azrael Tseng (azrael.tseng at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2120742