Welcome to my regularly scheduled bi-weekly interview series. I am pleased to share with you the blog of a talented writer, photographer, and world traveler. I have blogged with Yinglan for a while and am pleased to call her a good friend in the blogging world. Please visit her blog here: This is Another Story – About Life, Fantasy, and Everything In Between.
1. Hi Yinglan, Please tell us About Yourself?
Hi, my name is Yinglan Z. and the name of my blog is This is Another Story because isn’t every day in life another story?
I recently completed my second academic degree in Accounting and am currently spending a brief four months in my hometown of Zhongshan, China to get reacquainted with my relatives as well as the place I lived during the first decade of my life. When I am not in China having an adventure, I lead a pretty boring life in the suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah.
At the moment, I am a self-employed translator, working with my mom to update the Chinese version for a software guide widely used by schools around the world. However, my personal goal is to either become a full-time writer or find a job where I’m applying what I’ve learned from my two degrees because isn’t that why I got two degrees?
2. Please Tell Us About Your Writing and Blogging? What do You Hope to Accomplish in Writing?
I began writing in 2013 and the purpose of my blog (at first) was to post the speeches I’d written for Toastmasters, an international club for public speaking. Then, I fell in love with storytelling; thus, my blog for fictional stories began. I wrote fiction and participated in flash fiction challenges during summer of 2014 and discovered fiction writing was a way for me to relax.
Once I began participating in challenges the readership for my blog grew and in 2015, I made the decision to make my blog both a fiction and lifestyle blog to add more variety and so I could write what about whatever I wanted to write about. In late 2015, I made another decision — to change the name to something more fitting: This is Another Story.
“Then, I fell in love with storytelling and, thus, my blog for fictional stories began. I wrote fiction and participated in flash fiction challenges during summer of 2014 and discovered fiction writing was a way for me to relax.” – Yinglan Z
3. When did you really begin writing and blogging? Why is Writing Meaningful for you? Do You Find You Are Able to Help Others Through Your Blogging?
I began writing after I joined Toastmasters in 2011. That’s when I discovered my love for storytelling. Before that, the task of sitting in front of a computer typing and writing an essay or a story seemed daunting to me, although, I don’t know why.
Although I wasn’t diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) until early 2016, I’ve always known I have anxiety issues. I’ve tried various methods to relax – yoga, meditation, music – but none is more relaxing than writing stories.
When I was attending school full-time, working multiple jobs, I would come home to write because it would mean I was able to let my mind drift to another reality even if it was only for a few minutes.
4. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Write? Why is Writing and Blogging Significant to You?
A lot of the inspiration for my stories comes from around me – television shows, movies, current events, (etc). There’s always a story going on in my head and if I let it stay in my head, it’ll drive me insane. Maybe it goes with my stubborn personality? Also, it’s important to record my thoughts and feelings because bottling them up won’t help me or anyone.
“Although I wasn’t diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) until early 2016, I’ve always known I have anxiety issues. I’ve tried various methods to relax – yoga, meditation, music – but none is more relaxing than writing stories.” – Yinglan Z
5. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects? Have You Ever Had Any Writing Published?
I am currently finishing a few short stories for my collection called: A Light in the Dark. I am also in the process of expanding a short story into a novel. Both of those things are progressing slowly due to the number of events I am attending in China but they are coming along.
I published a story in an online newsletter for NLSC – National Language Service Corp – a few years ago about the Mid-Autumn Festival and that was the only piece I have ever published other than blog posts. My future are noted above, to publish a collection of short stories and a novel. Who knows, maybe I’ll submit a piece to a magazine or something when I have time.
6. Can You Briefly Describe Your Writing Process? Do You Prefer Certain Areas if Writing and Reading Genres?
I’m still trying to figure out my writing process. I write whenever a story pops into my head which is usually night time. I’m not sure why, but my imagination feels blank during the day. Maybe it’s the fact I’m tired and my mind is getting ready to dream?
I am also a huge fan of the suspense and thriller genres because those are the stories that keep me at the edge of my seat. I also enjoy investigative and crime-solving stories. I used to like to read Young Adult fiction and the supernatural genre but lately, not so much. Maybe I’m growing up?
“I am currently finishing a few short stories for my collection called: A Light in the Dark. I am also in the process of expanding a short story into a novel.” – Yinglan Z.
7. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Bloggers and Writers?
My advice for new writers and bloggers would be to don’t give up. Keep writing! Most people do not become famous with their first story. Keep trying. Also I encourage you to visit other blogs and comment on other bloggers’ posts. Participate in challenges and sooner or later, other bloggers will pay you a visit and almost always this starts a chain reaction. You discover new blogs and bloggers and their followers may also follow you in return. As well, leave your link and some information at blogging parties and learn to network through and with other bloggers. Be willing to look at other blogs and learn from them as well.
8. For fun, do you have any particular blogs you follow? What Do You Like About Them?
Oh wow, that is difficult to choose since I follow thousands of blogs. I will say my favorite kinds of blogs are photography, travel, and flash fiction. I like these kinds of blogs because I can often learn a thing or two from them.
“My advice for new writers would be to don’t give up. Keep writing! Most people do not become famous with their first story. Keep trying.” – Yinglan Z
9. Can You Please Share With us a Few Favorite Links from Your Blog?
I wrote this poem a long time ago (about 14 or 15 years old) and decided to share it about two years ago. It was written during the phase when I wanted to be a singer-songwriter.
By Yinglan Z.
Your yesterday is gone But your today is here sooner than you think You wish you haven’t gotten everything wrong And you wish you can make all the bad go away And you say
Tomorrow Things are going to be okay Tomorrow It will all change
Your today is gone And you have made no commitment To bring changes Oh and you just kept on saying that
Tomorrow Things are going be all right Tomorrow It will all be bright
Day and day went by You just sat behind your table Waiting for changes to come to you You say, “It’ll be okay” And I say “it’ll be okay when you start making changes for yourself” And you say starting tomorrow
Things are going to be all right Tomorrow It will all be right It will all be bright It will be the day when I set thing right
Thank you to Yinglan for agreeing to be interviewed and for sharing about her writing and her life.
Just to note: Yinglan has returned from her relatives in China and has been visiting my home country of Canada in Alberta checking out The Rocky Mountains in Banff and around Lake Louise. She was recently in Yellow Stone National Park in the U.S. and if you follow her blog, Yinglan’s photographs of her travels are also a huge highlight when you read her posts. She is talented at taking beautiful shots of scenery while traveling and finding interesting places abroad and from around her home.
If you would like to be a part of my bi-weekly interview series please let me know via my Contact Page. See you in two weeks with another exciting interview 🙂
“I had never been summoned to Number 208 [by the park] before; I nervously adjusted my coat . . .” A person could book a pick-up online or by phoning into FedEx but you couldn’t summon a particular delivery person, could you?
“April, it means what I said,” Becky from the warehouse told me on the phone, “I’m not being rude, the lady who lives there wanted you, specifically, at her home.”
The door was open when I arrived. “I’m here,” a frail female voice rasped.
Walking into the house I heard the respirations of a woman on a ventilator. She was all hollows and sallow skin. Her hair was whispy white and thinning. Eyes the color of blue-bells greeted me but they were bloodshot.
The woman grasped a yellow envelope with a trembling hand. She shook the envelope and a key dropped out.
Her shaking fingers held it out, “For me?” I asked.
I took the key staring at it in confusion; it appeared ancient. As I examined it I heard the woman gasp something. I moved closer to her and held her hand attempting to hear her strained voice. She shook her head with a ragged sigh and breathed her last.
Bruno’s days were spent turning the wheel, bored and physically exhausted. At night he returned to his hovel, barely awake enough to eat thin gruel. In the day there was mead to ensure the serfs didn’t rebel.
But the mead wasn’t helping today. Bruno glared at the the serf master, upset he didn’t even know what or why this wheel turned.
One day when the serf master tried to whip them, Bruno reached out and caught the whip grabbing it and knocking the serf master out. He ran as far away as he could run.
Bruno heard in the east, a landowner was giving out pieces of property in return for part of the proceeds; he thought this would be a much better living — at least, he hoped.
(I truly meant for this to be Flash Fiction, but the story just developed. Sorry about the way – over word count.)
Grandma June huffed at Natalie, her granddaughter visiting her at home.”You’re not getting any younger, you’re thirty-eight. You can’t barely have babies anymore!”
Natalie rolled her eyes at Grandma June,”Gran, I’m an elementary school teacher. I like going home and not having to worry about kids.”
June sighed,”It was that man, you were supposed to marry. He’s a thief and stole your heart; I’m right aren’t I?”
Natalie ignored June’s question. She hated when her Grandma or anyone, talked about Christopher. She’d never admit he was her one.
He hadbeen since she was in grade ten and Christopher an attractive senior in high school. It was when he had first asked Natalie out. They’d broken-up, having had incompatible lives with Christopher away at university soon after.
Then, seven-years-ago, they’d ran into each other and started talking and dating again. Natalie had convinced herself this was finally it. Sadly, a few weeks before the wedding, Christopher had disappeared; the memories were agony for her.
Two-week’s later, Grandma June called Natalie up to invite her to a wine and cheese night she was hosting for her neighbours. She had tried to decline but June was adamant Natalie attend.
She arrived at her Grandma June’s surprisingly lively wine party, in jeans and a white t-shirt. She had barely bothered to apply makeup as Natalie had come from the gym and was worn out.
“Oh you came,” Grandma June said excitedly, approaching Natalie as she let herself inside. She hugged June and kissed her cheek, as June poured Natalie a large glass of red wine and filled her plate with bread and cheese. She winked at Natalie and left her alone in a small sitting room to rest before joining the other guests.
“Natalie?” A deep voice said. She turned on the sofa towards the sitting room door. Christopher’s voice shocked her, she had almost doused herself in red wine. His familiar timber filled Natalie with great pain. She peered up at him feeling raw, as if he’d only left her yesterday without explanation.
Tears began dripping down Natalie’s cheeks; she was crying and couldn’t stop herself. Christopher immediately sat down on the sofa beside Natalie and pulled her close; he wiped her tears away with his thumb. She tried to jerk out of his arms, but he wouldn’t let her move.
“I’m not letting you go, ever again,” Christopher swore.”I can’t explain much about why I had to leave you, only that I didn’t have a choice.”
Natalie shoved him hard, “You have nothing more to say, nothing at all?”
Christopher was noticeably upset, “I told you I worked as an IT consultant. But I could never tell you or anyone who I worked for until recently. I worked for Special Forces in the army and I was called out to a job. It’s the only thing I can’t about. The job lasted years, and I wasn’t allowed to contact anyone. We saved countless lives, but it was awful what I did to you and being without you. I’m sorry.”
Natalie rubbed her swollen eyes, “You’re a liar Christopher. You could’ve mentioned something, anything. What do you want now? To stay for a while and then leave?To rip me apart again?”
Christopher buried his face in his hand, before gazing up at her: “I’m out now Natalie. I swear to you I work for regular businesses now, nothing to do with Special Forces or the army. I’ve no more secrets other than experiences of war and blood. I came back here for you, I even moved into a house on your Grandma June’s street. I hoped somehow, you and I could be together again. I love you.”
Natalie made a sound of frustration. Emotions of both anger and feeling relieved assaulted her. Despite her anger at Christopher, Natalie knew inside, there would never be another man for her but him.
To Christopher’ surprise, Natalie moved to sit in Christopher’s lap and be closer to him, to breathe in how delicious he smelt.
“Marry me now and we can do whatever celebration our families want later. I’m still mad at you Christopher but you’re it for me. I’ve always loved you and always will. If you can be with me and never leave me like that again, I can forgive you.”
Christopher nodded at Natalie, saying: “I promise.” He held Natalie tightly and kissed her lips hungrily.
Suddenly, there was a loud knock on the sitting room door and Grandma June walked in, a smile on her face. June’s boyfriend Nigel was with her and so was the local United Church minister.
Natalie looked at Christopher, “Did you do all this?”
Christopher shook his head, squeezing Natalie tight and kissing her cheek. He pulled out a beautiful sapphire and diamond ring set from his pocket. He slid the engagement ring on Natalie’s finger, and Grandma June handed Natalie a ring which had been her Grandfather’s wedding ring.
June smiled at Natalie and Christopher, a gleam in her clever blue-eyes. All was at it should be, she thought as her and Nigel witnessed her granddaughter’s wedding ceremony.
Maryanne frequently found herself on the Greyhound bus travelling here, there, and everywhere. She didn’t understand what triggered the travelling gypsy in her, but she felt when she found what she was searching for, she would finally have a place of her own. She would find a decent job, have a car to drive, and most of all, have people to love in her life.
As if on que, a stray dog yipped and walked out of the alleyway nearby. While she waited an-hour-and-a-half for the bus to Raleigh, Maryanne decided the dog was indeed homeless and picked her up gently. She brought the startled mut on the bus pulling into the station and named her Betsy.
She was Maryanne’s first step towards finding a home.
Time’s clock is forever ticking above death’s throne. The clock’s glass face absorbes the colours of the landscape where death resides. The greyish-green of the stone mass, a floating island, and the pinky-red fire of the sky above and below, reflects on the clock’s face.
The figure of death sits soberly in his throne. The stone carved form a perfect fit for his lanky tall body. Beneath death’s left and right hands, the leering skulls of his first two victims sit. They are from our first two ancestors, people who lived exceptionally long compared to the humans living in modern times. Adam and Eve had tried to evade death, even though they knew he was coming for them. They had been ignorant and had no idea what death actually meant until they breathed their last.
Their souls he’d had to let fly in heaven, gold birds with giant wings exploring their freedom and return to painlessness. He had kept their skulls, though one day he knew he would have to return them. For now, Adam and Eve’s skulls peered eerily out onto whichever soul was before death seated on his throne. Together with the dying person, death watched their last seconds of life tick away. He towered over them in his realm and let their soul sour to heaven or to hell, there was no inbetween except him.
Some souls who stood before him were not afraid. This always amazed death. He was an imposing figure, giant and fearsome, his red hair as consuming flames, and his eyes burning coals. Some humans gazed up at him with what frightened death as wisdom, something they had gained, which few knew, not even him. Their souls flew away and he knew he would never see them again. Other people crumbled before him and he took time to torment them whether they went below or above. He was death after all, a fearsome being.
Yet, he had no control where a soul went. Death had no power to choose or to do as he wanted. He had a job, a task. He was death, he killed; but he was not merely an end. He was also the beginning. What he valued most of all, freeing those souls trapped in decaying bodies or in bodies injured profusely. Death was a contradiction of terms, both good and evil. Souls of faith went above and souls of disbelief went down to hades. Even death was afraid of what lay far beneath him in the abyss.
Thanks to MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie for hosting last Friday’s music prompt challenge. The song this week is: “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter.
“Bay Day” – Daniel Powter
Thomas needed a job. It wasn’t okay to do nothing anymore. His Masters Degree was finished and he had incurred a debt of student loans over the past eight-years. He had recently received his MA in History and he was choosy concerning where he would work — that had been six-months ago.
Thomas had figured he had six-months worth of savings to live on before he had to payback his loans. He knew there wasn’t much luck for him finding a job in academics. His marks weren’t high enough for him to teach or pursue a PHd.
He also felt he required a change, something different in life. Thomas had had his head stuck in history for the past eight-years; he had forgotten so much about the modern world around him. For this reason he spent six-months sleeping as long as he liked, drinking, picking-up girls, restablishing old friendships, and meeting new people; he took life easy after working so hard on his studies– perhaps too easy.
Thomas was facing his first payment on his mountainous student debt and he wasn’t sure how much longer he could pay rent from savings, afford food, or have WiFi. He didn’t want to end up working for Starbucks or some place like that. He wanted a real job; a career which incorporated history.
Yet, Thomas had one terrible interview after another. One older woman interviewing him commented: “You don’t seem to care about anything Thomas. Not your appearance and not your career goals. You say you love history but you have no passion or drive in life. Try applying for other positions in our company when you find your moxie.”
Many employers didn’t want a scruffy looking guy in ill-fitting dress clothes such as Thomas, who didn’t know what he wanted out of life. Either that or they said he could start in a low-paying administration job. No guy with an MA wanted to be a receptionist or work in the mail room.
Now Thomas wished he had taken a job as some guy’s receptionist. He had been too proud and if he didn’t nail his next interview, he wouldn’t be eating soon.
He had spent some money ensuring he was groomed perfectly, hair cut trendy and face shaved clean. His brother’s old suit he had tailored and he bought a fashionabl coloured tie. His black shoes were old but still in and polished, glinting in the sunlight.
The past six-months had been one long badday. Thomas was tired of being hungover and of girls who only wanted him to buy drinks and never wanted any type of connection the morning after. He loved his friends but he knew he had to stop being so proud. Any job which would pay the bills right now was fine.
When Thomas arrived at his interview he tripped over the door as the receptionist led him into the interviewer’s office. There was a burning pain on his forehead where he had rug burn.
The middle-aged guy sitting at his opulent desk chuckled as Thomas sat down across from him.”It’s alright. I’ve tripped plenty of times walking over that doorway. I guess we really should get that ledge fixed,” the man said.”I’m Greg, I’m the owner of this company,” the man said gripping Thomas’ hand and shaking it.
“Oh, its fine. I’m just clumsy. Sorry,” Thomas said nervously and stretched out his fingers after Greg’s mammoth hand shake.
Greg smiled and asked Thomas: “So who are your favourite sports teams? Did you play any sports in university? You look as if you did?”
Thomas had practiced several interview questions and situations with his sister so he was prepared: “I’m a Seahawks fan and love the Seattle Mariners of course. I didn’t play football or baseball but I did golf on the university team. Did decently too.”
Greg grinned at Thomas. He’d won Greg over with simple sports talk and the fact Thomas was great at golfing. The owner continued peppering Thomas with more questions which were typically relayed to work habits. The interview questions were standard and easy enough for Thomas to answer.
“When can you start?” Greg asked after a half-an-hour had passed.”We could use someone to start from the bottom up. Learn the administrative ropes and move into a Junior Account Manager position and beyond. We need a guy who’s willing to stay and learn about the company and grow with us. Are you our guy Thomas?”
Thomas grinned trying to contain his enthusiasm and excitement. Finally, a job he was interested in and a business owner who thought like him.
“I’m most definitely your man Greg. I love history, especiallysportshistory and working for a network that broadcasts hockey and football games and also, looks back on bygone moments in sport’s history is exciting to me. I’m happy to start whenever you need.”
They negotiated a starting salary and Thomas would begin work in two-weeks. He was so relieved to have a job, even though he would begin on reception. Doing a job centred around sports, interested Thomas. It was the end of his bad luck and days spent worrying.
He was so happy, Thomas didn’t notice the car pulling out in front of him in the parking lot. He broke his arm on impact in the crash but luckily, being in a parking lot, the accident was no fault for either driver. Thomas though injured, had the most contented smile on his face. Life was turning around.