Lynn | Yolo Times

“How about Okinawa?

They say it’s Japanese yet very Southeast Asian at the same time. Also, a bit like Fujian and Taiwan too.”

July 2019
On a quaint island off the southern coast of China


Hidden on a narrow alley of red brick buildings, away from the main streets and crowds, was a cafe with three carefully placed seats. A young woman of not more than 30 was quietly sitting in the center seat, planning her next adventure. She looked at a regional map on her iPad as she took another mouthful of her chai latte. Korea? Japan? How about Mongolia? Hmm, or maybe westwards?

She couldn’t decide, and she was happy with that. Her eyes sparkled, wandered, and roamed. She rested her eyes on the owner, Lili, who concentrated on her latte art. A wing appeared, and then another, and then a tiny head with a handsome body and long tail. She smiled. She has created something worthy, something tasteful.

Lynn exclaimed in Chinese, “Piao Liang!”

“You really think it’s beautiful?”

“Yes, very tastefully done! Now tell me, where do you think I should go next!”

“Hmm, let me see, you want to stay in China or somewhere else?”

Lynn chuckled, “I’ve been in China for quite some time now. Speaking of which, I’ve been on this island, in your cafe for the last 3 weeks. I am so ready for somewhere else.”

“Seoul?”

“Been there.”

“Busan?”

“Been there too.”

“Jeju Island!”

“What for? Only honeymooners go there. I know you love Korea but how about somewhere out of Korea? “

“Oh! How about Mongolia then! I remember you wanted to go see the Naadam Festival.”

“Good idea! No, wait, if I am going to Mongolia, I want to do a two-week kind of thing. It’s too expensive right now. No budget.”

Just then, a pair of Japanese tourists entered the cafe and ordered takeaways.

When they left, Lynn exclaimed with joy, “It’s a sign! Japan it is!”

Lili rolled her eyes, and as she went back to practicing her latte art, she suggested, “How about Okinawa? It’s the nearest to where we are and probably the cheapest to get there. Many of my friends have been there for holidays, and they found the place…interesting? They say it’s Japanese yet very Southeast Asian at the same time. Also, a bit like Fujian and Taiwan too.”

Lynn liked interesting places. She searched for Okinawa on her Google map, did a quick read-up on the location, checked for air tickets and accommodations, and smiled.

Next stop: Okinawa.



Next Chapter






Let’s Connect:

Ethical Dilemmas of a Metaverse Society

Technology in 2063 has developed to the extent that “what you think can exist” in the metaverse. Due to the nature of the metaverse, audiences, especially fan-based communities, often equal the creative and technical prowess of Genesis 0 people with their personalities and characters. Sometimes, Genesis 0 people intentionally encourage such make-believe too.

There are in broad, four camps of people:

Moralists

One camp of people, especially educators and parents, believe that metaverse creators, especially Genesis 0 people who garner the attention of hundreds of millions of followers, must be “clean and moral.” This is because their influence in and out of the metaverse is immense. In their words, “they can light up a match, they can start a riot.” These people tend to think that the metaverse has corrupted society too.

Realists

Another camp of people is entirely against such control on a person’s private life, and that control should only apply to the performed content within the metaverse. Their argument for controlling the performed content within the metaverse may be fictional, but there are actual actors at play, i.e., us. Their prime example will be cyberbullying. You cannot discount cyberbullying just because it is virtual, can you? In addition, the sensory experiential nature of the metaverse is so profound and realistic that the human brain can hardly distinguish it from a real-life experience. “When a person commits violence, such as rape, in the metaverse. It is as if it happened. No, it happened. There are to be real-world consequences.” 

Liberalists

Another camp of people argues that though the metaverse is a public space, every human should have freedom of thought and expression. The beauty of the metaverse is that it is not the real world. And hence, it does not have real-world implications or impacts. And so, “don’t confuse fact and fiction, you cannot fault fiction either. We have two lives: your real-life and your superhero life. Live out your superhero life.” Not every thought is a product or representation of the person too. We cannot incriminate or hold a person accountable for every (private) thought and creation surrounding the creator in the metaverse.

Innovators/Idealists 

This camp of people argues that technology does not corrupt human nature but reveals it. We should continue to grow metatechnologies, and it’s applications for the benefit of humankind. For example, conduct extensive medical simulations and social-economic models within the metaverse to maximize real-world resources and successes. They believe the metaverse is a great equalizer for the world because those who can enter it interact via brain synapses. Their goal is to make the metaverse experience affordable for everyone to “increase the conversion rate of ‘on-screen audience’ to ‘in-screen audience.’ In other words, breaking the fourth wall, allowing more people to experience the metaverse within instead of experiencing it via their screen devices. 



(Updated as of March’22) Amy | Horses Run and Fly

“How does that make you feel?”

“I felt powerless.”


8 Months Ago

Dr. Kim’s clinic was painted a calming blue; her furniture and items were in a neutral color palette. And then there was that signature pop of magenta table lamp next to her seat. She smiled at me gently, eyes indiscernible of her thoughts. I fidgeted in my seat like the schoolgirl that I once was. I knew by now it was her way of prompting me to carry on with my speaking. I still felt self-conscious speaking to her, but I was willing to speak to her.

“The last we spoke was when I was 25. I went home during the holidays, and we fought. Nothing new there. I packed a bag and left. My mom wasn’t at my graduation either when I got my Ph.D. So, you can imagine how unexpected it was when I saw her case file in my intray last week.”

Dr. Kim put her pen down and smiled at me. The sort of smile you would expect from a proud mother to her beloved child. She said, “This is the first time, without my initiation, you choose to share about your mother.”

I could feel my face and ears flushing red. I gave a feeble smile and said, “I don’t know what to do.”

“When you think of your mother, what comes to your mind?”

“A horse comes to my mind.”

“A horse?”

“Ya, a free-spirited horse, running ecstatically on the Mongolian plains, running with the wind, hair in her face, without a care in the world.”

“That’s nice. She sounds very carefree.”

“Ya, she was. She was eccentric and very intuitive. Very sharp, too, even when I last saw her. She was 60 then. Perhaps it was her gift or quality she honed from her travels. She could see through trickery and illusions in a heartbeat. I could not keep a lie from her.”

“How does that make you feel?”

“I felt powerless.”

“Powerless?”

“Ya, she was kind, so kind to everyone she met. People loved her. People loved her even more, when they experienced her stories in the metaverse. Her stories were so different, so unexpected. They caught people off guard, and people liked that. I did share previously she was a Genesis 0, well she was famous for her fantasy stories, but to her, those stories were true. They were not make-believes. “

“Tell me more about the stories.”

“I’m not sure where to start. There’s so many of them.”

“How does it feel to see your mother now?”

“I still feel powerless too.”

“But your mother is in a coma now.”

Dr. Kim’s words felt biting.

“Yes, I still feel powerless, in a different way.”

Next Chapter





Let’s Connect:

WordPress News | Shining a Spotlight on Podcasts

This is an excellent piece on the potential of creating podcasts for your content, potentially growing a new audience for you. I particularly enjoyed reading the types of podcast formats (never knew!) as well as the “Podcast Recipe.” I will undoubtedly be using podcasting as a tool for my blog, and I hope this informative piece will have you look for more of such content!

Interested in podcasting? In this post, we showcase podcasts in a wide range of topics and discuss how to stand out with your own podcast.

Shining a Spotlight on Podcasts — WordPress.com News

(Updated as of March’22) Prelude

“With that, the dragon and her mother disappeared into nothingness.”


Amy stared stone-cold into the water, her body lightly touching the surfaces of the bathtub. She was barely floating. She looked up at the digital clock on her wall:


23:23:00
10.08.2063


7 more minutes left. She was not one to waste a second or two. And so, she closed her eyes and slipped entirely into the water, anxious to feel some sort of weightlessness. Yet, like an amniotic sac of fluid that carried a child to her mother, all that came to her mind were the day’s flashbacks of her mother’s avatar in Sosi Blackbox of the metaverse. In her age 30 form, her alluring presence evoked every floral note and beautiful blooms. Scents. Not something Amy liked in the metaverse. They were disarming to her. She remembered the anxious-inducing hug; the change of mood when her mother realized she was working for Sosi Pharma; the theatrical burst of flames.

It was the 25th trial. The 25th time Amy was with her mother in the metaverse. And yet, no progress on understanding the red orb. She had no clue what she should do. She thought of her mother’s cold, frail comatose body in Sosi Lab, and she felt time behaving like the merciless night tides washing away a ship from shore to the disappearing horizon.

She had to steel herself. How could she convince her mother to speak of the reb orb? Or as her mother called it, the flaming pearl. And then, Amy remembered her mother jumping onto a fire-spitting dragon’s neck and staring down at her with angry tears.


“Send my body back to the hospital! I will not have anything to do with Sosi!”


With that, the dragon and her mother disappeared into nothingness.

Short of air, Amy pushed herself out of the tub and struggled like a fish out of water.

She did not feel so strong, and she did not know what to do.





Next Chapter





Let’s Connect:


John Paul Hernandez | What the Metaverse Means for Digital Writers

John’s latest article is a fantastic read to fire up our imagination on the growing opportunities for writers in the metaverse. We are talking about access to virtual communities, worldwide discoverability (with lots of cross-product marketing), more monetization opportunities with the blockchain, virtual reading experiences, and creative gigs.


All About Historical Fiction | Personal diaries are treasure for writers of historical fiction

This article first appeared in the Historical Novel Review, a quarterly publication of the Historical Novel Society. I’m grateful to Lucinda Byatt, features editor, for accepting the article. Authenticity is crucial to historical fiction. Weaving the right blend of facts and fiction will transform a reader in time and place while staying true to the […]

Personal diaries are treasure for writers of historical fiction — All about historical fiction

The Literary Sofa | My Books of 2021 – Fiction

It’s strange looking back on something nobody wanted: a full year of pandemic. Doesn’t 2021 feel like it’s been dragging on forever?  Despite everything, it’s been a very significant one for me personally and professionally. My second novel Scent came out (followed by the author, which wasn’t the plan but it’s all good); I was […]

My Books of 2021 – Fiction — The Literary Sofa

Monologue

The silly thing about contemporary living is that one can be at home all day yet be mentally edgy and even stressed out.

Welcome to the virtual world, or specifically, the social media world.

You are a little bored and restless. You pick up your phone and scroll through Facebook, Instagram, and even LinkedIn. Yes, you go to LinkedIn even during your free time. And then the stress, anxiety, and envy grow within you as you scroll your feeds littered with milestones and achievements.

And here you are, still figuring out how to be a writer.

Thumbs up for chasing your dream.

And then you stumble upon a live show shared by your artist friend just as a little girl no more than seven with her violin walks up to the microphone and gets ready to play. You click on it and watch that little girl playing her best, albeit out of tune and a little too squeaky for the ears. She makes a mistake or two, not too glaring ones, but surely she notices. She continues, finishes her piece and, proceeds to play her next song.

You put down your phone and laugh at yourself.

It’s my own game I’m playing.

#magicalmondays

告别

一路上,谁也没说什么。麒麟阿姨不停地奔跑,明月就紧抓住麒麟阿姨的脖子不放。

终于,她们来到大明最东部的海岸。他们渐渐地听到海浪声。一浪随着一浪,时缓时急,永不停息。走进靠着海岸的森林后,他们沿着小路往斜坡下走。海水的气息就在鼻尖处。他们来到俊俏且倾斜的大岩石前,细长的树根盘旋着大岩石并随着岩石底下的池水延伸下去。

麒麟阿姨从池水里拿起发着微微白光的大海螺。她对着大海螺说:“老朋友,我来找你了。”

明月和保皮好奇地看着池水,等着 “老朋友” 出现。

只听麒麟阿姨说:“站稳了。”

赫然,森林出现强烈的震动。他们眼前的大岩石也开始不停地颤动。大岩石化成海龟的形态,在大岩石上的两根树根随之化成两条长长的白眉。一对炯炯有神的眼睛睁开。东海神龟醒了。

东海神龟发出沉稳厚重的吼声。

他看着麒麟阿姨,再看看明月和保皮。犹如一位和蔼可亲的老爷爷,他说:“我的老朋友,你来了。”

麒麟阿姨说:“老龟,打扰了。这回有事相求。明神宗之小女明月公主需要赴琉球王国一趟。”

“哦?” 东海神龟想了想,好似在观看过去和预测未来的模样。他接着爽快地答应。

明月对着麒麟阿姨小声地问:“就这样?就这样东海神龟就带我们去琉球国?不用给他什么或做些什么吗?”

东海神龟和麒麟阿姨笑了。麒麟阿姨对着明月说:“这不是交易。”

这时候的保皮就直看东海神龟。东海神龟似曾相似。

东海神龟对明月说:“我的小公主啊,你就叫我神龟爷爷吧。我会带你到琉球王国玄关——那霸。我们现在就出发吧。”

接着,神龟爷爷对着保皮点头,好似在对一个久逢的老朋友问好。

如此突然地就要离开!明月不舍地看着麒麟阿姨。一时间,她的情绪涌上心头,双眼开始泛起泪水与红光。

麒麟阿姨紧紧地抱紧明月。她说:“别怕。到了琉球,耳坠子会指引你到外爷。也记住,无论是什么,包括明珠,都不能促使你去做任何事。只有你能主宰自己。记得,你是明月。”

这一番话让明月的泪水滑落。她边哭边看着她心爱和仰慕的麒麟阿姨。保皮就在一旁安慰明月。

神龟爷爷低着头把明月和保皮抬到他身上。这时,明月和保皮的四周出现像泡沫般的水晶壳。神龟爷爷向不远处的沙滩走去。

明月和保皮转身喊道:“再见!麒麟阿姨!再见!” 可他们的声音却被水晶壳隔开。

麒麟阿姨在原地不动,瞭望着他们逐渐远去,直到销声匿迹。

/第六回