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The 7 Stages of ‘Writing’

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Or should I say, The 7 Stages of ‘What did I get myself into?’

Those who think writing a novel is a single phase operation, I believe it is my duty to inform you that it isn’t. Oh, how I wish it was. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Alas, this arduous truth should not be withheld. Hence, I’ve decided to write this post and share my 7 stages of writing.

Disclaimer: My process isn’t benched at 7. Often times I go beyond when working on a novel. Sometimes I go under when working on a short story. But as my standard guide, 7 is a wonderful number. Do note that these stages do not include planning, and most certainly excludes professional editing.

1. Word Vomit

Mean Girls, anyone? My first stage of writing is vomiting everything in my head onto a word document. It’s just me, getting the story out, while trying to be as creative as I can. However, creative writing isn’t my goal. This stage is about telling, or should I say ‘reporting’, the story as it is. I do build the universe, I do develop the characters, but only as much as it is required to complete the story. Then, once my head is figuratively empty, I move to stage 2.

2. Rewrite

This is where I get creative. I research, google, and expand my imagination to paint vivid worlds and mold believable characters. I endeavour to be as ‘literary’ as I can, one paragraph at a time. Yes, one paragraph at a time – I rewrite every single paragraph. And yes, I detest this stage. If I could skip it, I gladly would. But I can’t, of course. Nobody wants to read word vomit.

3. Line Edit

Once I’ve heaved a sigh of relief, after completing stage 2, it’s time for line editing. I read aloud, test the pacing, check for errors, and split lengthy sentences. I scour for problematic areas. And as an extra step, I send the manuscript to beta readers.

4. Rewrite… Again? Again.

There’ll be areas in my writing that bug me excessively. So in this phase, I rewrite those paragraphs, dialogues, and sentences that rob me of my sleep. I also catch repetitive words in each chapter and find alternatives for them. And while doing all of that, I request feedback from my beta readers.

5. Line Edit… Again? Again.

Since I rewrote, I need to re-line edit. It’s back to reading aloud, testing the flow and pacing, and making minor changes if required.

6. Proofing

Before proofing, I usually take a break. And by break, I mean working on another story (either a new one or an existing one – it doesn’t matter). I try my best to clean my palate of the current work, and only return to it a month or so later. Fingers-crossed, my brain wouldn’t default to autocorrect upon my proofing. Though, let’s be honest, there’ll be mistakes I’ll overlook. Hence, stage 7.

7. Audio Proofing

Depending on the work, I sometimes run audio proofing twice using different voices. I alternate between tssreader.com and speechninja.co. Audio proofing helps me catch what I’ve missed, while testing the tempo as if read by a reader. It’s not a full proof stage in cleaning a manuscript, but it does call out errors. Despite it taking a while, it’s worth the time.

So, there you have it – my 7 stages.

Like I said above, this is just a guide for me to follow. The Slave Prince has gone over 10 stages, with multiple rewrites. Trails of the Wind has been audio proofed 3 times. Whereas most of my stories below a 1.5k word count are only rewritten once.

Also, the stages differ from author to author. I know of authors whose stage 1 is carefully executed requiring fewer rewrites after, and of those who’ve lost count of their rounds. It depends on the individual. But, we can all agree on one thing: no story should be published straight from the head.

If you’re new to writing, I hope this doesn’t scare you. Draw strength from your passion and dream, and you’ll find yourself doing your very best. Writing may seem laborious, but if it’s what you love, you will do it. Heck, you have to do it. It’s your life! And you’ll embrace whatever it encompasses.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Chapter 2: The Last Princess

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In her Startitus, she was the last princess. In fact, she was a forgotten princess. Her mother, the king’s twelfth wife, was barren for most of her life. But a miracle occurred nineteen years ago, and she came into the world as the youngest amongst eight half-brothers and eleven half-sisters. Being the last, amidst siblings desperate to be the first, she was forgotten. The only two people who acknowledged her existence were her mother and her seventh brother. And in her Startitus, they were the ones who mattered.

“Will you be joining us tonight?” Prince Nueil asked. “There’s a seat for you.”

The pair were in their stroll of the city. It was a common activity to kill time, at least for her and her seventh brother, Nueil.

“Are you sure?” she asked.

Nueil raised an eyebrow. “Sure about what – the star?”

“No, the seat.”

“Yes. Of course. But if they do forget, you can have mine.”

She smiled.

“Is that a yes?” Nueil prompted.

“I don’t know.”

She’d very much prefer catching the star outside the palace walls, where there were no fancy performances, excessive food, and siblings who’d look past her. It would spare her the embarrassment of placing herself in Nueil’s seat. And relieve her of the responsibility of faking enjoyment.

“Let me think about it,” she added.

“What’s there to think about?”

Shrugging, she went ahead.

On days as such, she was glad she mattered little to the royal household and to their people. Not a single passerby batted an eye in her direction – no one took notice of the princess last in line to the throne. Nueil, on the other hand, played her personal guard. He may be the seventh child, but he was the second son of the queen consort. It meant he was a brother away from the crown.

“If you keep skipping family events, people will forget about you,” Nueil stated.

“Don’t they already?”

“No. Not yet. My brother still mentions you.”

“And let me guess, he doesn’t like you spending time with me.”

“He doesn’t like anything I do, to be honest. If you’re worried about him, he won’t-”

“He won’t be there tonight, I know.”

“Exactly. So-”

“Look, we’re here.” She abruptly halted before a white brick shop, thankful she could put a stop to the conversation.

The single-storey building shelved baskets, displaying a medley of herbs and spices. It belonged to an aged, famed apothecary amongst the middle class. She’d been visiting the man in hopes of becoming his apprentice.

“What’re you bribing him with today?” Nueil asked.

With a smirk, she lifted the silk-wrapped package in her hand, and said, “Roots.”

“If the royal physicians find out-”

“They know where to find me.”

Nueil sighed, and waved her to her intention.

“I’ll be quick,” she said, before entering.

Unlike the other shops along the dusty street, this had little room for maneuvering. It wasn’t built for walk-in customers, as large clay jars dominated the floor. It mostly functioned as a storage space, with no counter, and a narrow pathway leading to the back room.

“Master Seulgi,” she called. “It’s me. I brought you the roots you wanted.”

“I’m in here,” the man replied.

Slipping past a stack of crates, she found the apothecary by a wooden desk. He was in grey robes – a stark contrast to her pastel pink and white dress.

“Where’d you get the roots from?” he asked.

Master Seulgi had long feigned ignorance of her identity. But, she knew he knew. He spoke formally toward her. He never lifted his gaze to meet hers. And despite declining her request, he didn’t chase her away like he did others. There was also that one occasion where he served her tea in his finest ceramic teacup – one that came from an embroidered case.

“I have my sources,” she replied with a grin.

“A good one, I believe.”

She nodded confidently.

“So, will you be catching the star tonight?” Master Seulgi asked. “I’ve been told it would paint the sky red.”

“I will,” she said. “If you like the roots, I could-”

“With family?”

“Oh, uh, well…”

“Not all of family, I suppose.”

She didn’t know how to answer the seemingly all-knowing man. She herself had yet to decide. So she lingered in silence, hoping he would change the topic – perhaps requesting a rare kind of herb instead. Unfortunately, Master Seulgi wasn’t done with the day’s subject.

“I should tell you something,” Master Seulgi said.

“Tell me what?”

“The star – there’s a prophecy.”

“Yes. I know.”

“Well, you only know half of it.”

“What do you mean?”

As credible as prophecies were, they had nothing to do with her. She wasn’t important enough to be included. Whatever the royal astrologers read of the stars – despite her name – she had not once been mentioned. So as far as the night’s star was in question, she was told it had no affect on her.

“You shouldn’t see the star tonight,” Master Seulgi said.

“Why? Only the crown prince isn’t allowed to see the star. Everyone else can,” she replied.

“The star is for the people, not for the royal family. No royal eye should gaze upon it.”

“Who told you that?” she asked with a frown.

“I, too, have my sources.”

“I see.”

“But not tonight. You shouldn’t see tonight.” Master Seulgi shuffled to a cabinet, before continuing, “I’ll see you tomorrow. If things have yet to change, I’ll consider your request.”

“Are you serious?” Her eyes widened in anticipation.

“Yes. But I’m busy now, and your brother is growing restless.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow then. Would you like me to bring anything else for you?”

“No. You’ve brought enough.”

“Thank you, Master Seulgi. See you tomorrow.”

She shuffled out of the shop in excitement. And when she spotted Nueil, eyeing jewellery at a nearby display table, she rushed to smack him on the arm.

“Ow,” Nueil responded passively.

“He said he would consider! He finally said it.”

“Oh, that’s great. I guess. So about tonight, I-”

“The star.”

“Yes. The star. Are you joining us? You should stop hiding in the shadows, Byolin. You’re a princess. And you would do well reminding people who you are.”

Nueil made a good point. Perhaps it was her compliance that made her forgotten. But what Master Seulgi mentioned, in such a casual manner, rattled within her. Of all the times Byolin honestly didn’t know what to do, this was one of them.

 

Chapter 3 >
(For the chapter list, visit here.)

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Beneath The Crimson Star © 2017 – 2018 by Jeyna Grace.

All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission from Jeyna Grace.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2017 in Original Works

 

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Love | Hearts | Roses

loveheartsroses

It was on a sunny day in the year 1995. I stood by a tree in the park, with a box brimmed with origami hearts – it was what she wanted, or so she told me.

“Hey!” I called, waving her over in the middle of her game of hide-and-seek.

“What?” she asked.

Her hazel eyes reflected my grin, as I handed her the gift. That day, she wore a yellow floral dress with puffed sleeves. Alike a princess, she caught my breath in her innocence and grace.

“What’s this?” she asked. “And who are you?”

“It’s what you wanted,” I said.

“My mummy says I shouldn’t talk to strangers.”

“And your mummy is right.”

She frowned, as bewilderment glazed her small face. I had the urge to reach down – to brush her hair – but I pocketed my hands instead.

“Anyway, that’s for you. Happy Valentine’s Day, Emily,” I said.

“Eww!” she exclaimed. “You’re not my boyfriend.”

I chuckled. And just when she proceeded to unwrap her gift, I left.

1995 was the last year I saw her. It was also the last time I did something for her. But it wasn’t the only time. At least, in this respect, I was in control.

It was on a rainy day in the year 2007. I stood outside the diner, with an umbrella and a bouquet of velvet roses. It wasn’t something she wanted, but perhaps something she needed.

She once recounted a tale of being stood up by her date. The boy blamed the weather for his no show, and she laughed at the absurd excuse. But as I caught the glistening tear, trailing down her cheek that evening, I needed to rewrite history.

Entering the quiet eatery, I confidently strolled to her booth. In the warmth of the building, she wore a polka-dotted, monochrome mini dress. When I halted before her, she gazed at me expectantly. Then realising I wasn’t her high school crush, she turned away. Her disregard of my presence broke my heart. But I wasn’t there for me – I was there for her.

“I have something for you,” I said.

“I don’t know you,” she replied, eyes fixated at the barren street outside.

“Someone asked me to deliver these to you,” I added.

Shoving the bouquet in front of her face, I left her with no choice but to accept it. And when she did, she promptly asked, “Who?” Her dejected mien now replaced with curiosity and anticipation.

“Not whoever it is you’re waiting for, that’s for sure,” I replied. I had to tell her – he wasn’t worth her time.

“Then who?”

“Your secret admirer.”

“I have a secret admirer?”

I nodded. I contemplated on asking if I could join her, but the eyes behind the counter narrowed on me like a hawk. So after acknowledging the presence of the stranger, I turned to her and wished, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Emily.”

“Who’s my secret admirer?” she repeated. “Tell me.”

I shrugged in reply. Then before I raised further suspicion, I stalked into the wet outdoors – leaving her wondering from behind the glass window.

2007 was a memorable year. I lingered for months to see the result of my intervention. It didn’t alter the course of history, but it did repaint a memory in good light. That was my intention all along… after I failed her.

It was on a cloudy day in the year 2017. I stood by the sidewalk, moments before her death. She wore a red, fitted dress – one I told her not to, but she insisted anyway.

“I’m ready,” she said.

“No. Let me try again,” I replied.

“You said it yourself. Nothing you do can save me.”

“Please let me try.”

“How many times have you said that – how many times will you watch me die?”

She wasn’t afraid of death. The fear in her eyes, and the dryness in her voice, were for me. She fought back the tears, threatening to break her in the face of death, for me. And at that moment – the moment I’ve experienced countless times – I knew it was the last. Her words were different. Her countenance was foreign. In this timeline, she embraced her fate.

“Emily,” I pleaded.

“I don’t want you to live your life on repeat. Please let me go this time.”

“I can’t do that. I cannot let you go.”

“You can. And you will.”

“No, I need to go back. There’s a loophole somewhere. I know there is.”

She sighed. Then reaching for my hands, she said, “If you must go back, then go back. But when you do go back, don’t return to this moment.”

“What?”

“Let this be our first and final goodbye.”

“I…”

A wrenching pain wrapped inside my chest. Its asphyxiating nature dragged my soul into a darkness I never knew existed. My throat tightened in response. My head scrambled for words I couldn’t say. And my eyes blurred in her final moment alive.

“I love you,” she said, with a thin smile.

“I… Em…”

“Happy Valentine’s Day.”

That was, indeed, our first and final goodbye. Of all the endings to her life, I’d found the one with the most peaceful facet. And so I heeded her words – I went back.

It was on an ordinary day. I stood before the place I called home. As I reached for the door, ready to accept the life within, the door opened from inside.

“You’re back!” she squealed. “Happy Emily Day!”

With a smile, I picked her up for a tight hug. That day, she wore a navy blue jumpsuit.

“Happy Emily Day, Emily. Did you miss me?” I asked.

“Every second of every day.”

“I missed you too, Emily.”

Every second of every day.

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Love, hearts, and roses were words given by breezyonthebeach. In fact, they were given as a Valentine’s Day prompt last year. I thought, since it’s Valentine’s Day next week, I might as well run with them.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. If you’re not up for a fictional tale, then recount your Valentine’s Day with these 3 words. It shouldn’t be difficult… unless you’re as single as I am.

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2017 in Original Works

 

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Chapter 1: The Crown Prince

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In his Startitus, he was the crown prince. In fact, he was the only prince. His mother, the late queen consort, was the king’s only wife who bore a son – twenty one years ago. That was what he was told. That was what he believed. As the palace has never been absent of politics, paired with trickery and malice, he relied solely on the words of his mother’s family. Who else could he trust but his own? They were his rock. They were his foundation. They were the ones who’d make him king. Whether they were good people, they were family. And in his Startitus, that was all that mattered.

“Master Yohan is here to see you, your highness,” his chief eunuch announced, from outside his bedchamber door.

“Let him in,” he replied.

Master Yohan was his cousin. Born three months apart, they were like brothers – if not for his royal blood. While he was in preparation to be king, Yohan was in training to be his general.

“Your highness,” Yohan greeted, as he went on his knees. When the green wood-framed door closed behind him, Yohan promptly stood.

“I’m in no mood to draw an arrow today,” he said.

“Sword fighting then?” Yohan suggested.

“Did that yesterday.”

Yohan frowned. Catching his cousin’s countenance, he smirked.

“You just want me to say it, don’t you?” Yohan said.

“Say what?” He shrugged, feigning ignorance.

“Not today. I cannot say it today.”

“Fine. Stay and keep watch.” Gesturing at Yohan, he added, “I’ll need your robes.”

His royal garment, of purple and silver, was a dead giveaway of his identity. But knowing Yohan, his cousin wouldn’t agree to a wardrobe swap. No, his cousin wouldn’t even let him go – at least, not alone. Still, Yohan needed to be pushed.

When Yohan shook his head, he said, “It’s an order.”

Yohan dropped his gaze to the wooden floor. The seconds after the royal command treaded in silence. Hands hovering over the sash, that held his pastel blue robe together, Yohan contemplated. Then, Yohan sighed.

“Would you like to… sneak out today, your highness?” Yohan asked, in false enthusiasm.

“Ah, I thought you’d never ask.” Striding to his cousin, he said, “Yes, yes. I’d love that very much.” Then without hesitation, he swiftly ushered Yohan out the bedchamber.

The pair set for the royal library, with a fictitious intention. While the royal escort remained outside the book haven, oblivious to their plan, the cousins changed into the deep red, royal guard robes hidden in the floor boards. Then with the lie they would be spending the entire day reading – not to be disturbed – they climbed out the back window and over the palace walls bordering the forest.

“We have to be back by sunset,” Yohan said, handing him a sheathed blade.

“I’ll decide when the time comes.”

“Why do I have a bad feeling about today?”

“Well if you stopped believing in prophecies, you won’t worry so much.” He tugged at his black, wide-brimmed hat, before descending toward the city.

It was a bustling afternoon. The dusty streets, lined with single-storey white brick shops, thronged with people. Vendors of jewellery, food, cloth, and even furniture hollered at passersby for another sale. It was alike any other day in Startitus, except for the anticipation of night. And on such day, where an eager crowd gathered early along the main street, Yohan’s compromise proved foolish.

“There are too many people today,” Yohan stated. “Maybe we should-”

“We’ll be fine. We’re just two guards making our rounds.”

“I’m all for adventure, but-”

“We’re here.”

He halted before a building, standing detached from any other structure. It stood at the end of the street, three times the size of a shop with two balconied floors.

“Shall we have a drink?” he asked.

“Remember the last time we had a drink?”

Their last visit resulted in a brawl. Yohan had little to no choice but to draw his blade. The confrontation could’ve been less violent if he gave in. But of course, he’d rather clash swords than yield. Unfortunately, Yohan thought otherwise.

“What’s the point of training if we don’t put our skills to use?” he asked. Giving Yohan not a second to respond, he stalked into the building.

Being a few hours past noon, they successfully secured the private room on the first floor. It overlooked the street, and was the perfect spot for the night’s watch.

“I’m starting to sense your intentions,” Yohan said.

“Oh, you are?” And before Yohan could say anything to deter him of his plans, he ordered them a few bottles of rice wine. When the bottles arrived, he added, “My treat.”

“I hope the cost of my head is worth it,” Yohan stated.

“Don’t worry. We’ll return once the star appears.”

“If you die today, so does my family.”

“Nobody is dying today, Yohan. Prophecies are for the gullible.”

“This has nothing to do with prophecies. Look.” Yohan nodded to the street below.

The familiar nobleman, accompanied by five others, ambled toward the restaurant. The group of men were around his age. And their smug leader borne the entitlement of a king – it was in that delusion their blades clanged just last week.

“Shall we leave?” Yohan suggested.

“No. Prove your worth – here’s your second chance.”

“I hate you.”

He chuckled and smirked. Then retrieving his own sword, he waved the blade at the men below.

“You do realise they see you as a lowly guard,” Yohan added.

“All the more fun. Would you like to accompany me?”

“I don’t think I have a choice.”

He climbed over the wooden rails, and lowered himself to a stack of crates by the pillar. Once his cousin joined him, he gave his hat another tug shielding his eyes from view.

“My friends and I want that room,” the nobleman said, pointing at the first floor.

“Sorry, but we’re using it,” he replied.

“Shouldn’t you two be working? I don’t pay taxes for nothing.”

“You don’t pay taxes – your father does, while you drink yourself to death.”

The nobleman laughed. “I only see two dead people today. And one of them isn’t me.”

The nobleman drew his blade, and his friends followed suit. But what they’d counted as five men were more than five. A handful of the nobleman’s posse imitated loitering commoners. Only at the unsheathing of swords, did they make their presence known.

“Now should we run?” Yohan asked. “I’d like to prove myself to a living king.”

“Ah, but I’d like to see the star though.”

“You’ll have to be alive to see it, Haewan.”

His cousin was right. Of all the times Haewan hated admitting it, this was one of them.

Chapter 2 >
(For the chapter list, visit here.)

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Beneath The Crimson Star © 2017 – 2018 by Jeyna Grace.

All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission from Jeyna Grace.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2017 in Original Works

 

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How To Tell An Author They Suck

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You don’t.

Unless you’re their writing coach/ language professor/ English teacher – someone professionally hired – you don’t have the right to tell an author they suck. You might think you do, but you don’t.

“Did someone just tell you you suck?” you ask.

“No. This isn’t a passive-aggressive rant.”

Personally, I’ve not encountered anyone who has told me I ‘suck’. But of late, I’ve noticed a lack of respect for authors. And this disrespect isn’t coming from readers, but from authors themselves.

“What? From fellow authors?”

“Yes. It is unfortunately so.”

It seems it’s now considered kind to tell someone they have no talent. It seems it’s now acceptable to feed one’s pride by trampling over someone else. There is no intention to help, only the goal to hurt and a platform to gloat. And we’re doing it to each other.

Authors are fickle human beings. We oscillate between crippling self-doubt and obnoxious pride. Some of us try our best to stay humble when tempted to boast. But some of us think it’s OK to free the beast and let it wreak havoc. What we often fail to see is that this monstrosity loves to attack the weak. And when targeted at fellow authors, it destroys dreams – it magnifies self-doubt and builds fear. It imposes beliefs and revokes creativity. It tears a soul apart for the sake of building its master. And as a cherry on top of the cake, it burns bridges… forever.

Frankly, this beast isn’t something we should be proud of – it’s not an emotion we should even feed. So from one author to another, can I ask you keep this beast locked inside?

“Well, this beast is quite difficult to cage.”

“I agree.”

Pride is a tricky emotion to handle. But despite it tough to tame, it can evolve… like a Pokemon. If we increase our self-confidence – if we learn to trust in our own capabilities – pride would be a memory of the past.

“But isn’t it the same thing – pride and confidence?”

“No. There’s a difference.”

Those with self-confidence find no need to boast about their accomplishments. They don’t step into a ‘coaching’ role when not asked. And they certainly don’t think they’re better than anyone else. Self-confidence is being aware you aren’t the best, but believing you can be the best you.

Those with pride however, will tell the world of all they’ve done. They’ll see the need to correct someone, and think they’re doing it out of favour. They certainly believe they’re better than many others in terms of skill and talent. And whenever there’s an opportunity, they’ll state it.

“How then do we build self-confidence without crossing the line?”

“We starve pride.”

I know, being humble is easier said than done. I struggle with it too. I want people to know I’ve accomplished something. I want the world to recognise my work. But whenever pride tempts me to gloat, I ignore it. I starve its need to shine. When I read a fellow author’s work, I don’t tell the author what they should do and change. Instead, I encourage them to keep writing. I’m not their editor. I’m not their teacher. I have no right to act as though I am. I also know that when they keep writing, they’ll get better. They’ll improve and find their own voice. And if I’m confident in myself, I won’t be afraid if they outshine me – even if they do, I’ll celebrate.

“But what if I’m just trying to help?”

“There is, of course, a difference between giving constructive criticism and being demeaning.”

To know if you’re feeding your pride, ask yourself this: do I feel ‘clever’?

If your words have the intent to make a fellow author admire you, then it’s pride. Because if you truly want to help someone, there’s no subconscious need to feel important. Your goal is to assist, not to fortify your own strength. But like I said, taming pride is – and will always be – a challenge. The only way to beat it is to make a conscious effort to starve it.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel good about ourselves. We should learn to love ourselves and be proud of what we’ve accomplished. But let’s not do it at the expense of others. Let’s not destroy hopes and dreams in the process. Let’s learn to be confident in who we are and what we can do, without stepping on someone else.

“So wait, how do I actually tell someone they cannot write?”

“To think we’re better than someone is to forget we started somewhere too.”

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Introducing Beneath The Crimson Star!

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What is Beneath The Crimson Star?

When a star explodes in the night sky, its sinking force pulls a pair of twin worlds together. But with the merge comes a war for the new world… and the forbidden love of two royals.

How does this story work?

Every fortnight, a new chapter will be posted alternating between the story of The Crown Prince and The Last Princess. There’ll be a poll after each chapter, allowing you to decide on what either character should do next. Some polls would alter the direction of the story, some will unlock a part of the world, some solidifies a character’s personality, and some will affect the other character’s timeline. Your decision ultimately decides who lives and who dies. It shapes the characters and who they become.

(The polls will close on the Monday after a chapter is published.)

What’s the concept behind this blog series?

East Asia – the driving theme and concept I’m building this series upon. To be honest, I’ve never written a story solely set in East Asia. I’ve done crossovers, the whole East meets West premise, but not one focused on East Asia itself. As someone whose ancestors originated from East Asia (despite growing up in Southeast Asia), I’ve always wanted to craft a story in a culture I’m somewhat familiar with. Though, I won’t deny, what you’re about to read will be heavily influenced by historical Korean dramas. But if you’re like me, and have watched TVBs and Anime, you’ll see how some cultural aspects are shared despite the borders. The similarities are what I hope to bring out in this series.

Why Beneath The Crimson Star?

I want to try my hand at romance. There, I said it. I’m a sucker for comedy and historical romance in television form. Though I do not read romance novels, as I find them too slow for my liking, I’d like to give writing one a shot. However, it’s going to be a challenge. It will push the limitations of my writing. And I can only hope you’ll join me in this escape from reality.

The first chapter of Beneath The Crimson Star will be published in February. You’ll get to cast your first vote then! I’m looking forward to having you on this ride. Fingers-crossed, this new series will be better than the last.

(Click here to view all published chapters!)

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Beneath The Crimson Star © 2017 – 2018 by Jeyna Grace.

All rights reserved. 

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2017 in Original Works

 

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Ridley | Burrito | Pluto

ridleyburritopluto

It was on Wednesday night when a delicious wrap of 223 calories went missing from the kitchen table. The burrito, of greens and beans, had been prepped for a simple dinner. Having not eaten the entire day, I was looking forward to savouring it. But just before I sank my teeth into its glorious flesh, the house phone rang. Briefly leaving to attend a common case of ‘wrong number’, I returned in horror to find my wrap missing. Who had eaten it? There were only two suspects.

The first was Mr Ridley. Mr Ridley wore fake moustaches, as he was very fond of playing detective. He had an unrepressed love for mystery novels. And I wouldn’t be surprise if he created a crime just to solve it.

Minutes before the incident, Mr Ridley was in the hall. A stone throw away from the kitchen, Mr Ridley saw me assembling the masterpiece. When the phone rang, the 46-inch television was playing a rerun of Sherlock. It seemingly grasped all of Mr Ridley’s attention, as he wouldn’t leave his seat to answer the call on my behalf. However, his oblivion of the monotonous ring was suspicious. I toyed with the possibility he feigned ignorance to steal my meal. So, I questioned him.

“Did you eat my burrito?” I asked.

“No,” Mr Ridley replied.

“You could’ve asked me to make you one, if you were hungry. You didn’t have to steal it.”

“Why would I steal your burrito? I don’t even like burritos.”

“That’s the thing – why would you steal, when you don’t like them?”

“Exactly. Why would I?”

“Then who ate my burrito?”

“I don’t know.”

“There was no one else at the scene of the crime.”

“You could’ve misplaced it.”

“I didn’t.”

“Well, it wasn’t me. But if you want me to help solve the case-”

“It was you, wasn’t it? Give me back my burrito.”

“I don’t have it. I never did.” Mr Ridley shrugged.

Seeing as Mr Ridley wasn’t admitting to the crime, nor were there any physical evidence he’d committed it, I had to consider my second suspect. His name was Gregory Pluto Junior. I just call him Pluto.

Pluto lived with Mr Ridley and me. He didn’t have a place to stay, so we rented him the guest room. I’ve never met Pluto until he arrived at our doorstep. He was a friend of Mr Ridley’s, and the pair shared a common passion for adventure and mystery.

On most nights, Pluto and Mr Ridley watched Sherlock together. That night however, Pluto was nowhere to be found. He wasn’t in his room. He wasn’t in the garden. He wasn’t even responding to my call. Where could he be, if not hiding and devouring my delicious dinner? Then again, if Pluto did commit the crime, was he capable of executing it on his own?

Now, I did consider waiting until the next day to question Pluto – when he showed up. He was never gone for long. But, I had an inkling the suspect was nearby. Thinking Mr Ridley might’ve witnessed the crime, I switched the television off for further investigation.

“Where’s Pluto, Ridley?”

“I told you, I didn’t steal your burrito. Now please, let me watch Sherlock in peace.”

“Where’s Pluto, Ridley?” I repeated.

“I don’t know where Greg is. Did you call him?”

“He isn’t answering.”

“Well then.”

“If it isn’t Pluto, then it must be you.”

“I. Don’t. Eat. Burritos.”

“Did you see what happened then?”

“I was watching TV until you turned it off.”

“Liar. You helped him, didn’t you? You know Pluto couldn’t have stolen the burrito on his own. So you helped him. You’re his accomplice.”

“Ha! Now who’s the one reading too many mystery novels?”

“Seriously Ridley. I need to eat.”

“Go make another burrito then. Is that so hard to do?”

“Oh… So you did steal it. Or helped steal it. Just confess – tell the truth.”

“Fine, I ate your burrito. You happy now?”

“No. You’re covering for Pluto.”

“Yes, I’m covering for Pluto. Now give me the remote.”

I narrowed my eyes. Tossing the remote at Mr Ridley, he shifted in his seat in reach for it. And when he did, the front door opened. No, it wasn’t the suspect Pluto.

“I thought you guys would be hungry, so we bought pizza on the way home,” Mr Watson said.

“Ah, real food!” Mr Ridley exclaimed.

“Where’s Pluto?” Mrs Watson asked. “Have you kids fed him yet?”

“No. He wouldn’t answer my call,” I replied.

More confused than before, I thought through my theories. There was Mr Ridley, who could’ve eaten my burrito despite claiming dislike. He was clearly hungry, seeing as he wolfed down the pepperoni pizza. And then there was Pluto, the smart canine that could’ve stolen my food by leaping onto the kitchen table. Whether Pluto had the help of Mr Ridley, it was another theory. So what really happened? Who was the culprit – or should I say, culprits?

For now, it remains a mystery unsolved. Perhaps one day, the truth will surface. And perhaps breaking the fourth wall will help uncover it. After all, ‘nothing clears up a case so much as stating it to another person’. You being another person, what do you think happened?

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Ridley, burrito, and pluto were words given by Mr Ridley. The idea to write a mystery piece wasn’t planned. It came in a snap and I rolled with it, drawing inspiration from The Case Files of Sherlock Holmes. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of mystery. But, it was certainly fun to write.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. And while you’re at it – concocting a story with such random words – leave a comment below with 3 more random words of your choice. Go on, I’m up for the challenge.

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3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2017 in Original Works

 

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