Writing Process of Daitoku Daiichi – Summaries

Daitoku Daiichi

this busy, dusty world, having accomplished nothing, I suddenly recalled all
the girls I had known, considering each in turn, and it dawned on me that all
of them surpassed me in behaviour and understanding; that I ,shameful to say
for all my masculine dignity, fell short of the gentler sex.” – from the
Dream of Red Mansion.

As I have
interests in books, film, television and video games, they are often major
influences on my work. Although I like to write something innovative, I am also
aware of respecting the work of others before me. It can also be fun and more
meaningful to the reader when my novel references some other work.

One of the
main things I do before planning a story is to narrow down on these ‘selected
works’. For ‘Hot Spring’, the first in the series of Godfrey and Chucky’s
adventures, I spent two months ‘drawing out the essence’ from the Chinese
classic ‘Dream of Red Mansion‘. Since this revered classic had a common
theme with my story idea, I wanted to make sure that I don’t write a scene only
to discover it had been done before. Both my story and “Dream of Red
Mansion” deals with the growing up phase of a young boy in an affluent
household. In both stories, the young boy is uneasy with his father and
fascinated by his aunt. The adolescent is also discovering his conflicting
feelings for two of his female friends. But enough of the similarities for now.

original work has 120 chapters and about 2500 pages. I have the English
translation from Foreign Languages Press. I remember taking 6 months to finish
reading this, and I was sure I didn’t want to write something of that length.
So I did a summary of the timeless work, which helped me to remember some of
the major plot themes I had read before. You have to know how something is approached
traditionally, before you can give it a twist, don’t you?

In short,
the Dream of Red Mansions describes the slow decay of the esteemed Jia family,
and how the young heir Jia Baoyu awakens to spiritual discovery. Stripped bare
of all details, the classic is about a boy living in a large house with plenty
of women.
On the
other hand, in ‘Hot Spring’, the Gao family is prospering, and the story is
about how they overcome a threat to their business. There is still the
wonderful dynamic of a young boy living with many beautiful women in the hotel
and at school. On top of that, the Gao family hotel hosts wealthy tourists
Godfrey and Chucky, and even assists them on the adventure. The hotel’s name,
Red Jade Palace Hotel, is an allusion to the classic novel, and provides an
extra layer of amusement for its fans.

Doing the
summaries beforehand can really help an author to plan out the story well, and
ensure there is no unwanted repetition with a more famous cultural work. For my
second book I am already summarizing the films that I hope to pay homage to.
The same applies when a TV series or a video game inspired your writing
passion. If you want to read a fresh, innovative novel inspired by ‘Dream of
Red Mansions’, you should definitely catch your copy of ‘Hot Spring’ at Kobo

The Wonderful Times of Godfrey and Chucky: Hot Spring


Godfrey is young, wealthy and able-bodied. He has all the women you can imagine, and unbelievably deep pockets. But Godfrey wants more. His Great Greatness wants to rid the world of a menacing scourge, and restore what is truly superior to an elevated position. Why would anyone stop him? Who could possibly stop him?

Chucky arrives as the new assistant, and tries to perform every duty that is handed to him. What challenges for a dull servant! Look at him muddling through! With passports of exclusive privilege, the two adventurers make a splash in tropical Langkawi, where the water is blue and the girls are brown. Then they rendezvous with the locals in Singapore, where pleasures are plentiful and multicolored. Food and money are found in piles. Life in a global city should be, possibly, one of uninterrupted leisure…shouldn’t it?

Desire is a seductively red piece of jade, which resides even in our dreams.

“I am a healthy, strong and sexy male with a life, most of it sex life.” – Godfrey Mann

“I did not know how to reply, since the words were difficult to speak.” – Chucky

Inspired by English and Japanese gardens, Daitoku Daiichi is
committed to sharing scenes of beauty with his readers. He hopes that through
the mansion-like device of the novel, he can host a tea party to serve his
readers exotic delights. In the day, he is a tutor, essayist, gourmet and world
traveler. People somehow love to share their secrets with him, and he wants use
his gifts of perception to tell innovative stories.

Giveaway: 5 e-copies of The Wonderful Times of Godfrey and
Chucky: Hot Spring

Hot Spring Excerpts
Godfrey and Chucky discover a great way to fly.

Just like Master Gawd’s fast car, this big bird-like thing
has seatbelts. We watched a TV program where the Singapore Airlines girls,
called SIA girls, showed us how to evacuate in the event of an emergency. I
looked around and noticed that very few people were paying attention to the TV
program, and my master himself was alternating his gaze between the dinner menu
and the SIA girls that walked down the aisle. From the behavior of my fellow
passengers, I could only conclude that air emergencies did not happen very
frequently, so I felt reassured. They sound quite scary, these emergencies.

My master proclaimed, “They should have given us bigger
seats, don’t you think. There’s just barely enough space for me to stretch my
legs. What if one of those hot girls comes to sit on my lap?” He slouched
forward and wiggled his feet.

“They seem to be busy standing up and walking about to get
us things, master,” I replied, trying to defend the air servants.

“We might even have been short-changed, Chucky. Look at this
picture,” said master, pointing to the Krisflyer magazine. “They got these
first-class seats where you can like, lie down and roll about. That’s the way
it should be, don’t you think?”

“Yes, master. I guess they only have it for the bigger

“They gave us a small plane, Chucky. This sucks.”

I was feeling a little upset because my master was not too
satisfied with our business class seats. It is very important that servants
work hard for the sake of higher authorities. I was actually quite happy that
we could get tickets just like that with our credit card, but I did not dare to
mention it to my master in case he would get angry. Usually when I book the
train in the Eastern Heaven, I have to make reservations beforehand.

Now, I was expecting this to be an unpleasant flight for my
master, but it turned out that things went the other way. The SIA ladies
started to walk down the aisle and gave us these strange-looking black things
wrapped in a see-through bag. There was one lady on Master’s aisle, wearing the
interesting dress with the shape of the female body and hair rolled up into a
bun with a neat, shiny side-parting. There was one lady on my aisle too,
wearing the same interesting dress with the shape of the female body and hair
rolled up into a bun with a neat, shiny side-parting. Both had a mild smile on
their faces and were walking down the aisles at about the same speed. When the
lady walking down Master Gawd’s aisle met Master Gawd, her smile widened and
she started talking a lot in a loud voice. Master Gawd greeted her and
introduced himself as ‘Great Godfrey’, and she chuckled and introduced herself
as ‘Mindy Wong’. Master mentioned that it was his ‘first time on your wonderful
airline’ and she proceeded to explain to Master that she was giving him
headsets for entertainment and that her beautiful dress was called the Sarong
Kebaya. Her English pronunciation was not the most clear and I think I might
have heard ‘headsex’ but I probably was mistaken. From my master’s reaction and
smiling face, the lady must have been quite beautiful and pleasing to his

When the lady walking down my aisle met me, her already-thin
smile almost vanished. She took out a yellow piece of headset and passed it to
me in silence before moving on really quickly. The yellow headset felt a little
tight as I spread it around my ears. I was fumbling about with the controls
while Master Gawd was already fully plugged in and flipping through the
channels. Then the most mysterious thing happened: the same SIA girl whom I saw
just a short while ago comes down the aisle once again. This time she looked at
me, with the same face as before, and spoke:

“I’m sorry sir, my colleague just now gave you the wrong
headset, which is for children. Here is the correct one.” She passed me a black
headset just like the one everybody else had.
I am blinking my eyes looking at this same SIA girl who I
saw moments ago. I think the take-off is making me imagine things, don’t you

“Is there anything else I can get you, sir?”

“Sorry…I mean no. Well, I don’t know, it’s my first time.
Never mind.” I stammered.
The colleague who looked the same as the same-looking
colleague I met before, walked off briskly, leaving me to my confusion. Perhaps
this is what the ancient sages call ‘mystery of mysteries’.

When I was going to the washroom, the curtain happened to be
drawn and down the aisle I noticed a whole new area to the aircraft with many
people inside. The seats looked smaller than ours, and every seat had someone
in it. They were being served by a male steward, and when I asked him what this
area was, he stared at me with a confused look, and replied “This is economy
class, sir.” I felt somewhat relieved that I was not the only confused man on
the aircraft. This economy class seems to be quite popular though.

Our dinner was served to us in small boxes. Master Gawd
exchanged many words and glances with Mindy. I was not used to the descent to
Changi Airport, so I threw up into the throw-up bag. I felt a bit embarrassed,
but Master Gawd did not seem to mind.

My Diary: My Submission Hell!

May 2009
I’ve finished my chicklit novel
A Proper Charlie. To me it’s perfect and ready to submit, but I’m getting conflicting reviews on YWO.

I’ve found an editor,Johnny Hudspith, who will look at my ms for me. We’ve agreed a price and I’m sending him a couple of chapters a month via email.

June 2009
I’ve four chapters back to work on, and Johnny’s edits are easy to read, and I’m glad to say not that many! He’s picked out silly typos and continuity so far. 

August 2009
The first few chapters of Charlie are polished enough and so submitted to Eugenie Furniss from William Morris Agency in London, which represents romance and general fiction. This agency prefers submissions by post. Going by agents’ standard rate of replying I figured Johnny and me will have plenty of time to get the rest into shape if I get a thumbs up.

I never multi submit. I always give a month exclusivity, so shall carry on with my edits while I’m waiting.

September 2009

Received more edits from Johnny. He’s found a lot wrong with the chapters further in. My sentences are too long, and I use too many “ly” ending words.

Sent the first three chapters to Luigi Bonomi agency this month. This is the one. I can feel it!

October 2009
Charlie’s finally all finished and edited. Johnny mainly checked for continuities, spelling and grammar. He genuinely found it funny too, which is what I was aiming at.

I spotted Kate Schafer Testerman, Founder and Agent of kt literary. The submission guidelines said I could enquire by email, which I did. They also specialised in romance and women’s fiction, which A Proper Charlie is.

I wrote my query letter, polished my synopsis and clicked send. Sounds easy doesn’t it? But honestly I sweated blood over the synopsis!

Kt Agency rejected Charlie by return email. Standard rejection, no gloss.

Charlie also came back from William Morris agency today, but even though it was a refusal it was positive – if a decline can be positive!

It was a longish letter letting me know Charlie had been open for debate within the agency – so in that case (to my understanding anyway) it’d NOT been open and read by the junior and turned down by that one person, but passed on as a possibility. A rejection but a nice rejection.

Even though I got two rejections in one month, the latter has left me on a high. Easily pleased?

Sent Charlie to 3 Seas Literary Agency via email.

November 2009
I’m submitting Charlie to Caroline Davidson Literary Agency (CDLA). This has an interesting policy where you send the first 50 pages and the last ten of your ms. They ask for as much detail about the book in the query letter as possible, and want a CV and a synopsis (yeh!!! I LOVE writing synopsis – not!). They also aim to reply within 10 days so that’s good. Fingers and everything possible will be crossed.

S’funny, even though I’ve a box full of rejections (from other novels) I always feel optimistic when I’m pushing the brown envelope into the letterbox.

Had a rejection from LBA (Luigi Bonomi agency) today. A disappointing standard rejection letter. To be honest though, I think I was more disappointed in receiving a poor review from YWO after getting some excellent ones. The reviewer pointed out some errors, which I’ve now put right but then went on to comment negatively about Charlie being a mixed genre. It’s definitely not! Not heard of sub plots? Still the review was constructive and the reviews can’t all be brilliant!

December 2009
Had a rejection from 3 Seas Literary Agency, somehow though (and I know I shouldn’t) I don’t take email submissions as the real deal.

I had a brilliant review on YWO this time. Isn’t it strange how people can read the same story yet have opposing views?

I’ve written to CDLA to follow up on my submission. Just a few lines asking if they’d made up their minds on representing me or not (or had they lost my proposal? Hey, it happens!).

If I haven’t heard from them within two weeks of posting the letter, I’ll start sending out again. Wish me luck!

January 2010
Not heard from CDLA at all. Not sure if that’s good or not, but can’t wait around forever. Sent a submission by email to Makdan Publishing

I received my Writers’ News magazine the other day and on page two I saw Aurora Metro was seeking submissions – very unusual that any agency “seeks”. Had a goosey at their website and it looked very professional and “proper” and so I thought I’d give them a go.

Aurora Metro is an independent publishing company originally set up by a group of women wanting to publish work from their writers’ workshop, and it’s flourished from there. They publish ten titles a year, and seem to be very much a hands-on agency with sounds absolutely ideal for me.

Can’t believe we’re half way through January already. Anyway, not heard a peep out of CDLA. So disappointed as their website boasted they’d reply within 10 days. They haven’t even acknowledged my second letter asking politely if they wanted more time to consider the ms.

This is what riles me. It’s hard enough receiving rejection after rejection, but to have no reply at all?

But this is what we aspiring writers have to put up with; in the end the hard skin grows over our soft malleable one and we become cynical – even to the point where when our work is accepted we don’t believe it and think it’s a windup!

Had a reply from Makdan Publishing. It was by email, but a very lengthy one. I was turned down because they were “concentrating on other genres”. Then they went on to offer advice: While it would be difficult for me to offer specific advice on your manuscript as I have only read a small portion; from what I read, I would recommend working on the flow. While it seems to try and take on a “noir” feel, it gets too choppy in many areas.

Now, critical advice from a publisher is rare indeed, and something a true writer should cherish and learn from. I haven’t re-read Charlie since trying to get it published in October, having wanted to concentrate on my next novel, but I will now.

I shall print it all off, and look through it again to be certain that it’s OK.

February 2010
I printed off Charlie and reading through it I can see where they thought it “choppy”. I’ve re-edited and hopefully put it right.

Should you laugh along at your own work? Is that ethical? I still think Charlie is as funny as it’s intended, but it’s set in the “real world” unlike other chick-lit where the characters are usually rich and famous. I’m not going to send it out again just yet. I want to read through it and try to look through it as though I’m an agent out to sell it.

I’ve sent a reminder to Aurora Metro, because I haven’t heard from them. A polite email asking if they need more time to consider my proposal.

I think Charlie’s ready to go again. I’ve made a few changes. Tightened the flow, and I could see what Makdan meant when they said, “choppy”.

March 2010
Sent Charlie off to Marjacq Scripts, and was careful to follow their guidelines.

A quick rejection from Marjacq Scripts. Did they even bother to read it I wonder? The cover letter wasn’t removed from the envelope and the rest looked untouched. But at least they replied!

Was going to do this anyway even before the rejection, but I’ve decided to send Charlie to Cornerstones for a review. I’ve been thinking about it for some time, and I’ve heard only good about them. They also double up as agents, and only take you on if you’ve potential.

OK, so I packed it off with the synopsis to an assigned reader. Now to sit back and bit my nails… no, I cracked on with my next novel.

May 2010
Charlie came back with a six-paged report. Basically, my chapter endings aren’t strong enough (lots on openings being strong, never endings!), apparently mine doesn’t keep the reader wanting to turn the page. I’ve a strong storyline, it’s funny, characters are strong and likable and my dialogue is excellent so said the reader. Part of the book was a little too slapstick and Charlie needed to be less ditzy. Also, I’d mentioned the Spice Girls (in the opening main character Charlie was going to a fancy dress party and she and her friends were going as the Spice Girls) and was told this dated the story.

But she also said: “I think you are a gifted writer and would like to keep an eye on anything else that you write. However, as I’m not 100% convinced that I would be the best salesman for A PROPER CHARLIE I will have to regrettably pass. But you could submit yourself. I think it’s strong enough to catch an agent’s eye who might fall in love with it. Thank you for waiting for my response and please do keep in touch.”

June, July, August 2010
I’ve pulled Charlie to pieces, and am ready to submit again. I’ve given myself a deadline. If I haven’t found an agent by November 2010 I’m going to POD Charlie with YWO.

I want to get on with my new novel, and I can’t with Charlie still lingering about. Time to draw a line, but not defeat. Charlie doesn’t deserve to be banished to the cupboard-of-rejected-manuscripts. She deserves a cover and an ISBN number.

September 2010
Charlie’s gone to Patrick Walsh, at Conville and Walsh. He agents comedy romance, and so I hope he’ll like Charlie.

October 2010

I’ve gone to America. Not literally, but Charlie has been sent to Wendy Sherman Associates, Inc. in New York via email.

But I’ve a feeling that I’ll be PODding in November.
November 2010
Not heard a peep from September and October’s submissions. What is it with agents and their inability to reply to an email or letter? They’ve no excuse when return postage is enclosed, and they can’t be any more busy than any other organisation!
Anyway, Charlie is with the typesetters so POD here I come!
December 2010
YWO have sent me the finished book of A Proper Charlie, although it’s not “published” as such. I’m reading it as a reader, and trying to find any mistakes or typos.

January 2011
YWO have sent me the finished article of A Proper Charlie for approval. So, I take a red pen and sit down and read. I found a huge chuck unsatisfactory and rewrote it. I found a typo and corrected it. I also rejigged the ending.

Happy with my edits, I sent them the PDF.

During all this process, I’ve become a media whore and blogging all and sundry about my new novel. I’m also organising a press launch and book signings.
February 2011
Once I made up my mind that I was going to POD again, I thought it’d be a quick process, but this has taken longer than I thought. You can quite understand why authors don’t like to write about anything too current, because by the time their book is in a shop it’ll probably be out of date!