My 2016 Wrap Up


I’m not going to give you that ‘time flies’ nonsense today. I mean obviously time flew this year but I think I’ve done so much in these last 12 months that if I look back, I can actually account for the time. Anyway, I wanted to wrap up this year by giving you guys a little run down of my year because some memories are worth documenting.

I got my drivers licence

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In January, I finally passed my driving test (after three tries) and I got my driver’s licence. I honestly don’t know how the heck I managed to hypnotise anyone to let me be on the road legally if I’m being honest.

Anyway, in less then a month, I will be taking off the triangle that we are required to stick on our cars in the first year of getting our license and I will be officially off probation.

I won’t lie. Driving has been one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. I can drive but I hate it because it terrifies me to no end. As a result of that, my dad has had to literally force me behind the wheel as often as he can so that I will practice.

And while I still do have a very very long way to go, I am making progress. In fact, just last week, I took the car with my brother (who can’t drive yet) and I drove to the airport to pick up my dad who was flying back home from a business trip.

I consider that to be my first solo drive because obviously my brother could not help me if I ran into trouble. This was the first trip I’ve done without another licensed driver in the car and I couldn’t be more proud of myself.

I did my first internship


This year, I did my very first internship. I did six months at Youth.SG and I enjoyed my time so much. I really grew so much in that time and I made so many friends who I still keep in contact with today.

I honestly can’t believe how much my internship shaped me. In a way, I think it forced me to grow up and to face a lot of the things that I’ve always found to be quite terrifying like meeting new people, going to new places and doing new things.

Another awesome thing was the people. As I mentioned, I made so many new friends in my internship and I really feel like we all became a sort of family. In school, I was so used to toxic people that I just expected that from Youth.SG. But instead I found some of the most genuine and loveable people ever and I am so grateful for the six months where I got to feel wanted and important.

I mean everything I did was celebrated while I was at Youth. Yes I got into trouble sometimes (for not keeping to the house style mostly oops) but I felt really valued there. Like what I wrote was important.

In fact, I went back to visit the office a few days ago and everyone was so happy to see me and it made me feel so good.

All I can say is that I am so grateful to Youth.SG and I really owe them a lot.

I covered loads of concerts


Because of my job, I got the opportunity to go for many concerts this year to review them. I saw The Sam Willows at the Music Run, Greyson Chance,  Jay Chou,  Sam Tsui and Kurt Schneider, Tiffany Alvord, Gentle Bones, Selena Gomez and Simple Plan. Yup. Looking at that list I really do realise how blessed I’ve been.

I also got to meet and interview Greyson Chance, Charlie Lim and Jai Waetford which was incredible.

I covered loads of events and met loads of people


One of the best things I did this year was to freelance. I wrote for a number of other publications after I left Youth.SG and because of that (and also Youth.SG), I managed to go to a lot of very cool events and openings this year.

This year, I got to cover the Illumi Run, the launch party of the Music Run, the opening of the Friends cafe in Singapore, Singapore Writer’s Festival, the media preview of a new gameshow, media previews of movies and so much more.

These events were so much fun but above that, it really helped me to build my confidence. I can now attend an event and if I’m alone, I don’t really care. Many times, we are sent to cover events alone and because of that, I have been forced to learn how to function on my own. A skill that I previously did not have.

I put out my Working on the Dead series


This year, I pitched a very  adventurous series. If you’ve been following me for a while, you would know that this series was the Working on the Dead series. Essentially this article led me to some very crazy places.

I ended up watching two embalmings, going for a Buddhist encoffining, watching an embalmer clean and place a foetus into a coffin and even following a funeral director and a coffin to the fright terminal to watch them load the coffin into a plane. I talked to so many amazing people in the funeral industry, had some creepy experiances, broke down many times and achieved one of my biggest successes to date. It was epic.

I got two of my articles promoted on social media

One of my proudest achievements this year was that two of the articles I wrote for Youth.SG got promoted on their social media. That means that they paid Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to have my article pop up everywhere. It was really surreal especially when a  friend found one of my articles being promoted on 9Gag.

I experienced my first relationships


Okay here’s where I come clean. The boy that I was all messed up about a little while ago was the second guy. Earlier this year there was another guy who liked me and we went out and texted and that kinda stuff.

Unfortunately I just felt like he and I didn’t really get each other in the way I wanted us to so I ended it with him. Very uneventful in my opinion because I wasn’t even upset which yes, I do feel bad about because I think he actually liked me but yes. It happened.

Anyway, this year I experienced my first brush with relationships. Yes they both ended before they really began but it’s given me a lot of perspective when dealing with guys.

I read 61 books


Last year, I read 114 book. So this year was quite an insane drop to 61 books but also I know that with my internship and my cousin’s wedding, I barely had any time at all so I’m not too disappointed. I’m just glad that I reached my Goodreads goal (even though I had to tweak it here and there along the way).

I went clubbing for the first time


A while ago, I made the decision that before I turned 20, I wanted to go clubbing at least once. That very day, I got an email inviting me to cover the soft opening of Zouk’s new location in Clarke Quay.

So I went with my best friend and she and I had such a good time. We drank and I got so high and we danced and we got hit on a couple of times and I had such an incredible time. Certainly a night I’ll remember (kinda haha) for a long time to come.

The best part was that I got home at 5.30am, had breakfast with my parents and then we went straight to church without sleep because my parents’s rule (really my grandma’s rule) is that you can club till all hours as long as you make it to church still. So that was really fun.

So there you go. My year in a nutshell. Obviously a lot more happened this year but these were some of the highlights. I truly am so happy with how much I grew and learnt this year. You know a lot of good and a lot of bad happened this year but I think I can still very proudly say that this was one of the best years of my life.

I mean ever since I was 10, I’ve been working towards becoming a writer and this year, I finally got to see what it really means to be a journalist and I am so happy with my career choice. I have so much passion for what I do and this year really showed me that I can really do this for the rest of my life.

Emotionally, I grew so much stronger as well. I think getting my heart broken this year was the most devastating thing to happen and I still am feeling the aftershocks. You know every time I see a picture pop up on Instagram or when I see that he’s liked one of my pictures or that he’s watched my snapchat story. There’s always that jolt. But I’ve grown so much stronger for that and it’s only because I’ve grown stronger that I don’t regret him at all. I’m just a really sentimental person.

In some ways though, I think I’ll never love as carelessly again and that is something that I both resent and appreciate. With him being my first real something, I think I threw myself in and I allowed myself to love him with everything I had. I don’t think I’ll ever do that again. I think I finally get why people say that once they’ve been hurt, it’s hard to learn to love again. I’ll never let myself be so vulnerable again.

Aside from that, meeting so many people and getting to see such cool things as part of being a journalist was such a huge part of my year. I feel like meeting all these people just opened my eyes to a world that I would have never gotten to see if I didn’t do what I do.

Just this week, I got to see a 16 week old foetus who had died a day before Christmas. I watched an embalmer wash the foetus and place her in a coffin and it was so sad but also so fascinating. I mean who gets to say that they’ve seen that? I am constantly discovering new things about my world and I love it.

2o16 will always be the year that I grew up. It will be the year that I formed some of my closest friendships. It will be the year that I learnt what it means to push yourself to your limit. What it means to be brave. What it means to be kind and gentle in the face of extreme cruelty.What it means to be mature. What it means to carry on even though your world is shattering. 2016 will always be the best year of my life and I hope it was yours as well.

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Cover Reveal: The Talisman Chronicles by T.M. Franklin

T.M. Franklin, author of the best-selling MORE Trilogy and How to Get Ainsley Bishop to Fall in Love with You has an exciting new release coming on January 17th – and it doesn’t have only ONE cover – it has SIX!

The Talisman Chronicles is a six-part serial, which will be released every Tuesday from January 17th-February 14th. It builds off the Amazon best-selling short story WINDOW and tells the story of a group of teenagers who find some unusual items in an old chest . . . items that give them incredible powers.

But they receive those gifts for a reason. And one day soon, they’ll need to use them to fight for us all.

Add The Talisman Chronicles to your Goodreads TBR HERE.

Or follow T.M. Franklin on AMAZON to be notified when the books are available.

And if you’d like to join the Talisman Chronicles Release Day Party – with giveaways all day long on January 17th, join the Enchanted Publications Facebook Event page. It’s going to be a blast!

About T.M. Franklin

T.M. Franklin writes stories of adventure, romance, & a little magic. A former TV news producer, she decided making stuff up was more fun than reporting the facts. Her first published novel, MORE, was born during National Novel Writing month, a challenge to write a novel in thirty days. MORE was well-received, being selected as a finalist in the 2013 Kindle Book Review Best Indie Book Awards, as well as winning the Suspense/Thriller division of the Blogger Book Fair Reader’s Choice Awards. She’s since written three additional novels and several best-selling short stories…and there’s always more on the way.

Connect with T.M. Franklin

Web Site | Facebook | Amazon | Twitter |Instagram |Pinterest | YouTube

 

20 Things I’ve Learnt at 20

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Hello guys! It’s my 20th birthday today! I can’t believe this is the third birthday that I’ve spent on here. It’s a little strange to know that as this blog grows, I’m also growing. I feel like I’ve managed to clock a lot of pretty major milestones and experiences here and it’s just pretty incredible and special.

So last year, on my birthday, I put up a post called 19 Things I’ve Learnt At 19 and I thought in keeping with that, I would give you guys 20 things that I’ve learnt since I turned 19 a year ago.

1. Office politics is a very real thing. Do whatever it takes to be liked by your boss and you will see many doors open for you.

2. Remember that sometimes, being right is not as important as respecting authority. Your superiors will never like you if you constantly push for what you feel is right and when you disregard them. Remember. They are your superiors for a reason.

3. People will always be jealous of you for some reason or the other. The idea is to ignore them, recognise that you are fantabulous and keep moving on.

4. I know this is said many times, but believe it when I say that real friendships develop when you guys are there for each other during the heartbreaks, the failures and the loss. No strong friendship was ever built on sunshine alone.

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5. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Even though many signs may point to someone wanting to be in a relationship with you, always proceed with caution until you can be absolutely sure.

6. Communication is very important in any relationship and it can really break or make it.

7. Games are for children and if you still insist on playing them as an adult, you will find that people will avoid you like the plague. No one enjoys being with someone who plays games with them and their feelings.

8. No matter what, always treat people the way you would want to be treated. How would you want to be let down? How would you like your best friend to respond when you tell her you’ve been hurt? Treat people as if they were you.

9. Speaking of treating people right, remember also that you will never please everybody so sometimes you need to make the decision to do what’s best for you even if it means that you aren’t very nice to people. You are important as well.

10. Post the pictures that make you smile instead of the ones where you look perfect or the ones which you know will get you loads of likes. Post the blurry picture where you’re laughing weirdly at a joke that was just said because you will look back at that and you will remember and you will be happier then if you had posted that perfectly staged photo.

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11. Nothing amazing will ever be achieved if you are constantly comfortable and constantly doing things by the book. Bend the rules. Push yourself to do things that you may be terrified of or that most people are terrified of. That is what will make you great.

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12. When you’re young, do all the crazy things you want in terms of your career. Make decisions on a whim, dare to do things that are usually not done and say things you shouldn’t say but that people need to hear. If you mess up, this is the only time that you can feign that you did not know the rules and where you can get away with it. If you succeed, you will reap the benefits of that for a very long time to come.

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13. New experiences are important. Try everything even if you think you may not like it. You never know what kind of fun you could discover.

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14. Make plans with people. Sometimes you need to make the effort to keep a friendship from just fizzling out and that’s okay. Do it because friends are very important and you should never be petty about things like this.

15. You’ll never find love when you’re actively looking for it. Take a step back and just live. Love will come.

16. Don’t respond in anger every time. Sometimes you need to pick your battles and know when to let things go even if it’s the hardest thing to do.

17. Having a quiet chat with a friend over food or a drink is as good as therapy. Do it often.

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18. Say yes to as many things as you possibly can because experiences shape you and even though you might feel out of place at an event, you still have that experience and that’s what matters.

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19. If you’re feeling sad, try this: Walk into a Starbucks and order a chocolate chip frappachino with extra java chips, a shot of hazelnut, a shot of mocha and extra whipped cream. This is a Nutella Frapp (a recipe my best friend and I created through trial and error) and it will cure even the worst of days.

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20. Being happy is a conscious decision that you have to make every single moment. You can choose happiness or you can choose to be sad. You can choose to be excited about the prospect of school next week or you can choose to be miserable about it. Make the right choice and life will always work out.

So there you have it. It was a lot more lengthy then last year and that’s because I really learnt so much this year and I’ve really come so far. Honestly this year, I think I grew more then ever. I’m so proud of myself and I truly hope that some of these things helped you out as well. It’s important to me to know that what I put out can impact someone positively.

Here’s to being yet another year older. I look forward to continuing to grow and learn with you. Lots of love as always.

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Excerpt: Gilded Cage by Sherry Ficklin

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Gilded Cage

The Canary Club Novelettes, Book 1
Author: Sherry D. Ficklin
Published: December 1st 2016
Publisher: Spark Serials
Genre: YA/Historical/Romance

The Canary Club series consists of three novelettes which together form a stunning prequel to the full length novel, The Canary Club.

About the book:

 A dazzling story of star-crossed lovers set against the backdrop of gritty prohibition-era New York City and the dangerous gangs who ruled the streets.

Masie, the flaxen-haired daughter of notorious bootlegger Dutch Schultz, returns home from boarding school to find her family in crisis.Her mother is dangerously unstable, her father’s empire is on the brink of ruin, and the boy she once loved has become a ruthless killer for hire. To keep her family’s dangerous secrets Masie is forced into a lie that will change the course of her future–and leave her trapped in a gilded cage of her own making. As she watches her world fall apart, Masie must decide whether to take her place in the hierarchy, or spread her wings, leaving the people she loves, and the life she despises, far behind her.

 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | GoodReads

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Excerpt:

It’s dark when I finally roll to my feet, wrapping my lavender satin robe around me. I wait until I’ve heard Daddy and JD leave before sneaking from my room and out onto the terrace. Butler has left a plate of pasta for me, covered with a tin lid to keep it warm in the hopes that I might eat. My stomach growls at the scent of garlic and pesto, chipping away at my pathetic attempt at a hunger strike.
Taking my seat I lift the lid and dig in, stopping only long enough to breathe and drain a bottle of red wine. By the time I’ve finished I’m full and sleepy and enjoying the soft tingle of drunkenness as it spreads through me.
Maybe that’s why I don’t hear the front door. I don’t hear the footsteps approaching me from behind. I don’t even hear his breath until I feel the weight of his hands on my shoulders, rubbing in gentle circles. “How you feelin’, Mas?” Vinny asks.
Relaxing back into the chair I look up, unable to keep the sour grin from my face. “Never better.”
Releasing me he steps around the table, helping himself to a seat. “That’s not how I hear it. I hear you lay in bed all day feelin’ sorry for yourself”
“Can you blame me?” I ash harshly, straightening in my chair.
He’s still for a minute, then pulls the fedora off his head and plays with it in his hands. “I’m sorry about your ma, she was a fine lady.”
I snort, the booze in my belly making me bold. “She was a nut job and everyone knew it.” Now he looks up, his thin lips downturned at the edges, “She was good to me.”
Signing I stand, helping myself to the crystal decanters on the tray. “She loved you like her own,” I offer gently as I pour myself a drink. “It’s the only thing she was good at, loving people. Wasn’t great at taking care of them, though.”
She’d tried to take care of Daddy at first. I know she always secretly hoped he’d change his ways, as if her love could make him a better man. But, as much as they may want to, people don’t really change. Time passes, choices are made, but we are who we are in the end.
“Is there anything I can do?” he asks, twisting in his chair to look at me

.
I just hold up my glass, “This seems to be helping.”
Standing, he walks over, taking the glass from my hand and swallows back the contents in one gulp. “Never drink to feel better, Mas. That’s not how the stuff works.” I frown, pushing past him, “Don’t tell me what to do.”
He stops me, grabbing my arm and pulling me toward him until the tip of his crooked nose is touching my forehead, “I’m not gonna let you throw yourself away like she did.”
His words are sharp and they cut like glass.
I shut my eyes against them, against the closeness of him, the heat radiating off his body, the smell of bourbon on his breath. Part of me demanding to push him away, the other part wanting to lose myself in him.
“You left,” he continues, his tone accusatory. “You left so you wouldn’t have to watch—but I watched. I watched the light in her go out. I won’t watch that happen to you, Masie. I can’t. So you’re going to have to be strong. Because we need you. I need you. It’s awful dark here, Mas. We need you to be the light.”
The first tear slips from beneath my closed lids. Maybe it’s the desperation in his voice, or the fact that he’s right, but something in his words strikes me to the core. It’s tempting, far too tempting, to drink the pain away, to let it eat me from the inside out until there’s nothing left to hurt.
But I can’t.
I can’t be like my mother. I won’t.

 

About the Author:

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Sherry is a full-time writer from Colorado and the author of over a dozen novels for teens and young adults including the best-selling Stolen Empire series. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs.
Sherry also writes New Adult fiction under the pen name Ranae Glass and appears as a guest speaker at several conventions annually. You can find her at her official website, http://www.sherryficklin.com, or stalk her on her Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/sherry.ficklin. She is represented by Nadia Cornier of Firebrand Literary.

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