Sarah J. Carlson

Contemporary Young Adult Author

Monthly Archives: July 2014

Bintan beachventure






One of the joys of living in Singapore… Being able to hop on a ferry for 45 minutes and get somewhere like this.

Non-writers just don’t understand…. Wait, how many versions have you written?


how many

So if my non-writer friends often struggle to comprehend how much work it takes to actually write a novel. It’s not just about getting it out of your head. Then you have to sculpt and perfect. The more you work at it, the more you see you can do to make it even better, until you reach the tipping point and you just have to stamp it done.

I THOUGHT I was close to stamping one of my novels done…. Until, during a re-write of the first chapter, I realized why I didn’t particularly care for one of the two POV characters. She didn’t have enough agency. Or spunk. All the sudden she went and completely evolved into a new, spunkier, more exciting character in my head. And now I have to pretty much re-write my entire perpetually-nearly-finished novel. Again. Draft 17 now.


Just kidding, I didn’t really do that, even though that’s kind of what I feel like doing.

It needs to happen, without a doubt. It’s absolutely why my readers were more drawn to the other POV character and why I didn’t even particularly care for her. Still it can be frustrating to be so close to “done” only to discover, crap, I’ve got much more work to do. Anyway, even though I’m feeling a bit lost as I work through it all, I know she will be much more compelling and my novel will be even better. I just have to take it slow and have patience with the character, myself, and the writing process as I work through it all.

Anyone share my pain? Have you ever had battles with your characters as they unfold in ways you don’t expect? What do you tell your non-writer friends?


Best bar name ever


5321_10100543225803665_3778810618962278873_nBar in Boat Quay, Singapore.

Can anyone relate to this? 😛

Cambodian Wedding

A Cambodian wedding photo shoot.  A couple may change into ten outfits in one day.

A Cambodian wedding photo shoot. A couple may change into ten outfits in one day. Obviously the wealthy families. Picture taken during the dry season near Angkor Wat temple.

Doorways, pillars, and corridors of Angkor Wat



All five towers that make up Angkor Wat, meant to represent mountains.


A view of one side of the Angkor Wat complex, taken from the spot where the Khmer King addressed his people below.

Angkor Wat (which means City of Temples) is a temple complex located near Siem Reap, Cambodia, built by the king of the Khmer Empire in the 12th century. It is considered a world heritage site and attracts millions of tourists a year. Wikipedia states that it’s the largest religious complex in the world–the temple itself is massive but the entire area has 2.2 miles of wall around it. The complex even has a moat around it! Amazing, the whole thing. It was originally built as a Hindu temple but was then converted to a Buddhist temple. According to a Cambodian tourism website: “Angkor Wat is a miniature replica of the universe in stone and represents an earthly model of the cosmic world. The central tower rises from the center of the monument symbolizing the mythical mountain, Meru, situated at the center of the universe. Its five towers correspond to the peaks of Meru. The outer wall corresponds to the mountains at the edge of the world, and the surrounding moat the oceans beyond.” It has been damaged by war enemies, treasure hunters, and during the civil war in Cambodia in then 1960’s and 1970’s and fighting that lasted into the 1990’s.

This is my second trip here (very lucky!). This time, I was just fascinated with the pillars and corridors. Every pillar in Angkor Wat has an elaborate carving. Beyond that, I can’t exactly quantify what amazed me about it. I think how perfectly they were aligned contrasted with the erosion of the sandstone over time. Then adding in light and shadow, it was just fascinating. My poor friends and brother, they were like, “Sarah, there’s another door for you.”

There are almost 1800 detailed carvings of the dancing girls (Apsara) throughout Angkor Wat.


It took some patience to get a few of these shots (lots of other tourists), but I got a few that I wanted to share.

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