The Rosie Project: More Than A Book Review (1 of 3)

The Rosie Project“A romantic comedy, a mystery, and an entertaining teaching aid all rolled into one” is an gross understatement of what The Rosie Project (by Graeme Simsion) turned out to be for me.

Other than the occasional itches, I haven’t been reading many romance novels. When my sister recommended this book, I had confirmed its quality by the super long waiting list at the library and decided that it’s likely that I won’t be waiting my life. And that is exactly what Don Tillman, the hero of the book, would do in my situation.

Could I have Asperger’s, too?

I was astonished to find out how many traits I share with Don, such as the dislike of time waster, inefficiency, and lack of planning. And I always have a project or two on hand and the one-track mind to get them done. At some point in the book, I understood the reasons behind all the weird looks I have gotten so far in my life.

Digitized drama queen

Unlike Don, I was a drama queen as a child but some how it was stamped out of me along the way. Perhaps it was the pressure to measure up to more successful peers or the stress to survive in a strange land with a new language, my mind had installed virtual mechanical gears into my head and keeps me on zeros and ones most of the time. In fact, I learned to code before I could communicate in English. It can not be a coincident that Don Tillman’s first career attempt was with computer, too.

Somehow, when my super emotional, unorganized, learned by whatever made sense to me methods was no longer acceptable, logic and discipline became the tools I utilized to earned a college degree and my first career. The same tools have served me well in my life but the awareness of the need to change and grow has always remained. And that is what led me to the design field and now as a writer.

Coping with the unexpected

Writing a book, as I had expected, turned out to be a long-term project. I didn’t and still can’t read fast enough to make me the best selling author of the next month and in my case, it might take years but I was ready for it.

What I didn’t expect was life’s many interruptions that doesn’t allow me to be rigid with my schedule. The unpredictable work requests, the needs to care for others, all the real-world responsibilities had turned me into the time waster I detest. I was frustrated and stressed out because nothing (an exaggeration, obviously) seemed to go according to my plan to finish my novel.

Don schedules everything down to the minute and enjoys the peaceful and predictable outcome like I’d like my life to be. Though he was flexible enough to change his plans for the unexpected, he also needed time to let the stress of making the adjusted out of his system.

My symptoms for not having the “flushing out” period results in agitations and anger spikes, then all added up to a complete burn-out, which seemed more pronounced as my expiration date gets closer. The fact that I don’t know when that would come only adds to the urgency.

(more reactions to reading The Rosie Project)

Books I Read in 2014

Here are the books I’ve read all the way through and it includes some I read, more like studied, for work. Books I gave up reading are not listed.

  1. Messenger (3 of 4) in The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry
    [ Though it was a shorter book compared to the first two, it was more powerful. As I read it, I couldn’t help but reflect on the current state of things on Earth. ]
  2. Gathering Blue (2 of 4) in The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry
    [ Lowry doesn’t need big action scene to keep you reading, my concern for the main character rushed me to get to the next page. Her stories are powered by her intention to show us how we may choose to live. ]
  3. The Giver (1 of 4) in The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry
    [ This is a book that requires your full attention, otherwise you’d lost the subtle and thoughtful messages. An image of a full restaurant full of screen-backlight-lit faces comes to mind. ]
  4. An Instrument of Slaughter: (Home Front Detectives) by Edward Marston
    [ I did not like this as much as Five Dead Canaries (newer in this series). For some reason it seems more wordy than I’d like but my schedule was pretty full… ]
  5. Days of Rage (Pike Logan Thriller) by Brad Taylor
    [ It still amazes me how Brad could thread so many different things together to tell a complete story. ]
  6. The Night Searchers (A Sharon McCone Mystery) by Marcia Muller
    [ McCone is the one series that I have not gotten tired of. My writing skill seems to improve every time I read her book. ]
  7. The Ultra Thin Man by Patrick Swenson
    [ Like the friendship between the two detectives, appreciates the absent of overly graphic scenes. Interesting Sci-Fi idea. ]
  8. Monster’s Chef: A Novel by Jervey Tervalon
    [ The characters in the book are confused but the author is not. I did not like the craziness in them but still wanted to know how the hero got out of it. Quick and interesting read. ]
  9. Five Dead Canaries (Home Front Detectives) by Edward Marston
    [ Plenty of twists and turns. Love learning about WWI England via the people and places in the book. Did not like the choice of the murderer, seemed out of the blue somehow. ]
  10. Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King.
    [ The short stories here are dark, as title had promised. Too dark for me. The writing is great though. ]
  11. I Think I Love You by Stephanie Bond
    [ Great read! Well built, interesting characters and their relationships. Well threaded clues, real and false, with twists that kept me turning the pages. A romance mystery that will stay with you for a while after you put it down. ]
  12. Wired by Douglas E. Richards
    [ Love the bio-engeering base plot, interesting characters. Though I’m still a newbie writer, I noticed my reading was interrupted by uses of adverbs and other writing issues. ]
  13. After Life by Rhian Ellis
    [ Though I didn’t like the moodiness of the characters, I was still drawn to get to the end–sign of a skilled writer! ]
  14. The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley
    [ I’ve read every book in the series and it’s getting even better. Flavia intrigued me when she, at age 11, plotted to poison her sisters using her self-tought chemistry skills. ]
  15. Cathedral of Dreams by Terry Persun
    [ Can’t seem to get into it, not a reflection to the writing, may just not be the book for me. ]
  16. Hollow City (2nd in the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series) by Ransom Riggs
    [ The children risk everything to save their caretaker while avoiding WWII bomings and their own hunters. Even better than the 1st book. ]
  17. The Polaris Protocol (Pike Logan Thriller) by Brad Taylor
    [ Still amazed by Brad’s skill in threading so many things into one satisfying ending. ]
  18. The time keeper by Mitch Albom
    [ Only literary fiction I’ve ever finished, simple words, deep meaning. ]
  19. Don’t make me think by Steve Krug
    [ Work–designing web sites for the best user experience. ]
  20. Miss Peregrine’s home for peculiar children (1st in the series) by Ransom Riggs
    [ Fantasy in WWII setting, no flat characters here! ]
  21. The widow’s strike (Pike Logan Thriller) by Brad Taylor
    [ Love every book in the series, first read for character research. ]
  22. The marriage trap by Jennifer Probst
    [ Romance, warm, funny, moving, read for stress relief. ]
  23. The burglar in the library (Bernie Rhodenbarr Mysteries) by Lawrence Block
    [ Funny with interesting heros. ]
  24. Crashed (Junior Bender Mystery) by Timothy Hallinan
    [ Junior Bender is a thief AND a good guy?!}


Shapeless. Tasteless. Scentless.
Though it carries an enormous weight.

Pushing down on your shoulders, your heart.
Squeezing the energy out of you,
acting out like an oil press.
Feeding the greedy entities around you,
sucking up your spirit into a black hole.

Be warned, be watchful.

Drain away the build-up before it overflows and floods all over your life.

(Dedicated to writers struggling to hold on to their dreams while trying to keep all their balls up in the air.)

On Writing by Stephen King

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen KingA friend recommended On Writing by Stephen King after I shared my challenge with plotting out the rest of my first book. Though I never read any of his books, I know he must be pretty good to keep his readers asking for more.

He shared two things that surprised me the most.

He is a slow reader

Since English is not my first language, I’ve always thought being a slow reader is one of the main reason why I may not ever be a good writer. I guess he just kicked the crutch I’ve been using to drag myself down.

He reads for the fun

Almost all the writing books tell me to “study” other books for the plot structures or the writing techniques. Something I could never do. If the book is good, I just want to read it, If the book is uninteresting, I’d stop to save myself time for work or another book. It’s good to know Stephen King, a great writer, reads for fun, too.

Some reviewers of this book did not like that Stephen spent good part of the book on his life journey to be the writer he is today, instead of going straight into the how-to-write part. I thought it is good to remind people to look further back than his successful career.

A Writer in Big Trouble

I’m in big trouble.

As I work on my plot,
I sense the story feels flat.

This morning,
I realized I am in big trouble.

I can’t stand seeing my heros in pain,
as if I’ll be in pain as well.

But in the end,
if my heros don’t suffer,
I, as a writer, will.

Ends Crush in 2 Steps

Sap Drop Cross CutAlways knew the crush wasn’t what it seemed,
Didn’t know how to fix it.

No choice but let it soak
My mind,
My dreams,
My spine.

Learned about your goal,
I can help you,
We can make it real,
I thought.

Understanding struck,
You don’t need my help.

I don’t need to help you.
You are and will do great on your own.

Step 1.
Recognize my pattern.

The tie of crush backing out,
Almost undetected.

Words from a wise friend,
Wrote reflections in journal.
Oh, up till this point,
I only wanted,
Wanted you,
Wanted you to need me.
But never what you wanted.

Step 2.
Recognize my ego.

The lake of crush drained,
A few puddles remained.
I still care,
Heart still smiles,
Feelings now logical.

Debunking Classic Writing Myths by William Kenower

You’ve been clicking away on the keyboard or leaving legible ink on paper but you keep hearing (from inside your head or from people around you) “writing is hard”, William Kenower says differently.

I had a chance to hear his talk on myths of writing, it was illuminating. As he spoke, I checked against my own experiences. Here is what I learned.

I’m most definitely a writer. I would write even if I won’t make money from doing it.

I was writing someone else’s book. Since last November, I’ve been trying to write a romance/sci-fi novel but I stopped completely in mid-January. At first, I thought that was because my heroine didn’t have a clear motive. Now I know I shouldn’t be writing romance since I will never love romance as much as mystery.

When I’m writing, I’m almost always writing. I seldom hear my inner critic when I write, especially during the first draft. I always know I’m in the zone when the world around me simply fades into the background. When I’m stuck usually it’s because the story feels wrong not that I feel wrong. Though I do get frustrated when English gets in my way.

At the end, William Kenower said not to be afraid of the publishers, they need good books to put out there, they want to love what we write.

He said things I’ve never heard from other writers or writing materials. I am glad to know someone out there also believes writing is not hard.

Joy of Writing Is Not Enough

“Isn’t the fun in the writing enough? Why do you dream about having fans?”

joy of writing is not enoughShe asked as I talked about the bio I wrote for my first assignment in “Shape, Write, and Sell Your Novel” (Offered by Long Ridge Writers Group).

“I want to share those fantastic worlds I created with people. It’d be too lonely to be the only one living in those worlds,” I said without having the time to consider more. After we parted, I thought about it some more. A better response I think would be to compare it with cooking.

I love to cook, not only for the process of making steam rolls or flans, the experiments I did to hit that perfect spot. I am the happiest when I see the first bite of my creation sends the taster to another dimension.

And like cooking, what will send me over the moon is to witness readers get transported into the pages, oblivious to the going ons around them, much like the state I am in when I write.

Am I seeking for approval? If my stores are real-life tales about my life, perhaps. But “my stores”, to me means the fictional places, people, and happenings I used to bring readers out of their usual realm and all without the danger of time or space travel at high speed.

So, I’ll say it again. Joy of writing is not good enough, good stories (by anyone) are best shared.

Tell Me. What Could He Be Thinking?

What could he be thinking? by Michael GurianThough part of writing a romance novel is to create fantasy, I still want the male lead to be someone we might know in real life. In my pursuit of understanding men (much easier to accept as a writer, not a girlfriend/wife), I read No More Mr. Nice Guy! and found examples of men who are not yet ready for a healthy relationships.

In What Could He Be Thinking? by Michael Gurian, he opened my eyes to things men do that seem strange and sometimes even illogical to women. Here are a few things that jumped out at me.

A marriage ends when both:

  1. lost their compassion for the other’s pain
  2. no longer have the knowledge of the other’s nature

That is sad to me because 1 tells me that they no longer to care for each other and 2 tells me they are married to a stranger. How did any couples get to this point from being close enough to get married? I cringe at the thought of it.

A man feels by DOING.

I guess that’s why they try to fix women’s problems instead of listening. The author suggests for the ladies to have a group of girlfriends to talk things out. This makes total sense to me. I think most women would appreciate a man who takes action than the one who doesn’t. Besides, by talking his ears off, he might not hear your request for him to jump into action for your sake.

Male Mode of Feeling

  • Delayed emotion reaction.

    Years ago, I asked my then boyfriend a serious question, he didn’t react. I thought he was ignoring me. After a few days, he answered and explained he needed time to consider his response because he didn’t want to take it lightly. So, I’d say this is true. Give him time to think is a really good tip.

  • Respond to emotion by being physical.

    When he’s emotional, he might go for a run, take a drive, or can’t stay put.

  • Masking emotion while processing emotion.
    • leave me along – needing time to recover
    • let’s fight – become dominating
    • it’s nothing to worry about – recalling amplifies the hurt. This should go for women as well. If all we do is retelling the same issue and not making any changes, what we are doing is the carving a deep groove into the pain we already feel. And still no actual improvement in the end.

I’m only half way through the book but I am already a bit more confident in writing more complete male characters.