Moonlake’s Book Discoveries- December 2020

The Hollow by Agatha Christie 

It started off quite unlike any other Christie story- each of the opening chapters read almost like a character portraiture but in an interesting way. But overall, it’s up to normal Christie standards. Hard to say that I really liked this story above any other of hers but it’s not a bad specimen of Christie’s work.

Riviera Gold by Laurie R. King 

After a long absence (like 10+ years), I finally found this series again but it seems like the charm had partially worn off for me. I mean, I still think it’s a solid detective mystery and it still reminds me a lot of the original Sherlock Holmes except that we’ve now got a new strong female detective Mary Russell in the mix. But perhaps I’ve just almost forgotten all about Mary. Nevertheless, she still comes across as a competent and worthy partner to Holmes. 

Nemeton by Christopher Lee

I had my eye on this project back when it was running for Inkshares- I was intrigued by the underlying world and then left it collecting cobwebs on my Kindle bookshelf due to my aversion for Kindle reading. As of the time of writing, I’ve just started it. Expect a fuller report in the March re-run of this serial post for next year. 

What Moves Me: One Step Away

I’ve been trying to get closer to my emotions- I’m predominantly rational with only a tiny wisp of sentimentality so I’m very hard to be moved to tears or be driven by impulse. Not that I have not ever experienced those things, just that they happen rarely and don’t stay with me for long. And I’m starting to find it as a potential impediment to my writing. Well, perhaps not an impediment per se but something that blocks me my way to better. So for that end, I’ve been re-reading a bunch of online novels where I clearly remember I was moved and trying to capture the moment at which I was moved and figuring out the how and why. 

Today I’m going to share one such moment with all of you which I call the “One Step Away” Moment. What it actually entails was actually the reforming of one of the antagonists of the novel, when she realised she had taken the wrong turn in life and changed tact. 

So what am I finding touching about this? I think it’s the idea that one choice or one perception change is all that matters, to eventually spark a whole series of changes that create totally different life outcomes. Personally, I think that’s an especially empowering concept. Have I experienced this first hand? I guess, in some ways, yes, although in my case it’s more of a case of mistaken conception of an academia career in the before case versus a research day-time job coupled with a life-time writing ‘career’ in the after case. So it’s not a dramatic reforming or reversal in life direction in my case, more of a shift in focus. But yeah, it earned my empathy, pure and simple. 

This is my share for today. Come back next week for my December Book Discoveries. And if you have similar moments to share, let me know in the comments. 

Chinese Lore- A selection of Mythical Flora (3)

Li Tree

Physical Description:
A tree with square leaves and yellow flowers that sprouts tiny floss on their petals.


Special Properties:
The fruits it bears are fist-sized. Consuming them will greatly improve one’s memory, might even make someone attain photographic memory.


Zhi Chu

Physical Description:
A plant that looks like okra except that it has red flowers.


Special Properties:
The fruits it bears are like Chinese honey locust with a hard husk outside. Consuming them has a similar effect to drinking Red Bull or other strong energy drinks.


Du Heng

Physical Description:
A plant that looks like spinach and has a stink.


Special Properties:
Putting this grass onto a horse can make it run faster. Consuming it can also heal abnormal growths in the neck area.


Yao Grass

Physical Description:
A plant with vibrant growth of leaves, yellow leaves and fruits resembling the dodder plant.


Special Properties:
The fruits it bears would make you more attractive or likeable.


Lore:
Yan Di (a legendary figure in the prehistoric age who invented farming and herbal medicine, reputedly a minotaur) has a beautiful daughter who passed away before she was married (i.e. young). Her spirit arrived at the Gu Yao Mountain and became the Yao Grass.


Wang shu he

Physical Description:
A large lotus-like plant that is about 1.3m tall and has up to four flowers growing up of each stem.


Special Properties:
Its leaves are curled up in days and only uncurl at nights. Specifically, they only uncurl at the appearance of the moon.


Lore:
Reputedly, they are the tribute paid by a kingdom to the south of ancient China.

Reviving enthusiasm in the Work

To be honest, I don’t have full answers to the issue of reviving enthusiasm in a writing project but based on recent experience, I think the following things have helped:

  1. A writing routine- Lately, I’m keeping to a routine of working on my WIP for 5 days a week and 1 page of writing per writing day plus specific writing related tasks every day of the week 
  2. One of my writing related tasks is the compiling of what I call craft summary, a set of extensive notes on the writing craft. One of the ‘lucky finds’ of doing this is that I re-discovered the section on dealing with procrastination that I had written up for the set of How to Write a Novel online courses that I did a few years back on the edX platform. Which leads to
  3. Doing a side writing project purely for leisure 

That’s my short share for today. If anyone has other strategies, let me know via comments.