Heads up dear reader, there will be no posts today and on the 28th of April. That’s because I’m taking a vacation in the picturesque island of Tasmania! It’ll be a silent two weeks, but I’ll be back
If you’re missing me already (which I highly doubt) you can use the lack of posts to catch up on The Clubhouse, read already published short stories and fan fictions, or spam me with comments. I’ll also try to be active on Twitter. So if you wanna come along my little trip, you can do so over social media I’ll try to tweet pictures daily, as proof I’m still alive and well. That should be fun. Haha! Also, did you know I have an Instagram account?
*Oh and don’t forget to join the Goodreads paperback giveaway of The Battle for Oz! Also, submit your comment HERE to win the e-book version! You only have 4 days left to enter.
Don’t ask me why this is here. I just thought it fitting. And I don’t even know why.
I’ve been told, more than once, that my writing is too simple. It has been called juvenile and childish, among other hurtful adjectives. When I first read such comments/reviews, I wanted to cry. I mean, who wouldn’t? Nobody wants to be called a writer who lacks skill in forming complex sentences that wows the audience with such advance vocabulary. I, for one, didn’t. But then I realised, simple isn’t bad, simple is good.
Many well-known writers are advocates of simple writing. Some famous writers have even been criticized for their simple writing. But they never let those comments stop them, and they continue to find success through their simple style.
Faulkner vs Hemmingway
So why do people complain about simple writing? I don’t know. Why do people complain about complex writing? Trust me, I know writers who’ve been told their writing is too complex, they need to tone it down. True story. The fact is, you can’t please everyone.
So let’s keep this simple. Let’s just write.
In reality, not everyone is going to like your writing, your story, and your book. There will be people who hate it and there’s nothing you can do to change their minds. The one thing you can do, for yourself, is to keep writing the way you want to write. Whether it be simple, complex, or in between, just write.
I’ve been told my simple style of writing makes my stories fast pace and exciting. I’ve also been told my simple style of writing makes my stories bland. It’s all a matter of opinion. At the end of the day, I’ll write how I want to write. I’ll keep it simple… just the way I like it. I’ll order medium-rare for my steak, because that’s the way I like it. I cannot stomach it raw, and I don’t like the texture of well-done, but if that’s the way you like your steak, then order it so. Don’t let people tell you how you should write. Every writer has a unique voice. Own up to yours.
You’re not alone.
*Now, I’m not saying disregard good criticism. If there are comments out there that help you become a better writer, embrace it like a long lost friend. But if someone tells you to change your style, tell them to write their own book/blog.
I’ve decided to blog about this today because I’ve come across a lot of writers who question their work based on people’s comments – particularly in style. They’ve contemplated changing their style of writing just to fit into people’s preferences. I’ve been in those shoes myself. But now that I’ve kicked those shoes off, I want to encourage you to do the same.
At the end of the day, you’ll have your fans and you’ll have your non-fans (I’d use the term ‘haters’ but it seems too harsh). Don’t let your non-fans dictate how you should execute your passion. They won’t support you even if you change. So write… write however you want to write. Write for you and write for those who like your style. Write because you like writing and stop asking yourself if it’s too simple or too complex.
Neither of them had seen him coming. And the expression on their faces, the moment they recognised his voice, was oddly satisfying.
“Am I wrong?”
His father responded to the question with a grunt, while his mother fidgeted in her seat. Richard was tempted to apologise for making an appearance, in front of the two oblivious couples, but then decided to keep the truth as a trump card.
“If you don’t like it, I can return it to the kitchen,” Richard offered. Turning to Guinevere’s parents, he added, “I’m just trying to be less of a disappointment.”
Guinevere’s parents didn’t respond, and their silence quickly grew awkward. It went on for a few seconds before his father grunted again and started his meal. That was Richard’s cue to leave. He knew he would be hearing from his father soon. Ten minutes after his departure, his phone rang.
The voice on the other end belonged to his father’s assistant. He spoke in the same distant manner, telling Richard to be at the private bar in an hour. Apparently, his father wanted to talk and Richard was more than happy to oblige. At a quarter past three, Richard headed for the private bar on the third floor. There, he found his father on an armchair with a glass of whiskey in his hand.
“Finally, a father-son chat,” Richard said.
“It is you who have been avoiding me.”
Those words were unfortunately true. Richard was promised a conversation at home, after their encounter at the airport. But since then, he never returned home. He avoided the whitewashed mansion in fear of reality. Now having finally accepted it, it was easier to navigate its unpredictable waters.
“So you sent mother to buy me off?”
“I let her do what she thought was right.”
“But she failed. So what are you going to do now?”
“What do you want, Richard?”
“I don’t know, you tell me?”
“I’m not going to play childish games.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know my life was a childish game.”
“If you don’t know what you want boy, what do you plan to do then?”
“You tell me.”
“Are you serious? I thought I was disowned.”
“We can change that. Come home and help your brother at the firm. He’ll have more responsibilities once he takes over Greengrass, and he could use your help.”
It seems the shareholders meeting was going to be more than just food and annual reports. The prince was officially ascending the throne and only God knows what would happen after he does.
“That’s what’s happening tonight?”
“You do know I can ruin it by revealing my true identity. Is this the best you can offer?”
“What more do you want? Your inheritance?” his father calmly asked. The man never once raised his voice. He was scarily placid. Richard could only imagine the mechanics in his brain, churning out evil plots to get rid of him.
“No. It wouldn’t look good if you went back on your word, would it? Tell you what, I’ll be the disappointment of a son you’ve always wanted, if you do something for me in return.”
“And what is that?”
“I want to know everything. All your plans. I want to be part of your schemes and I want to reap the benefits.”
When his father responded with a laugh, Richard realised how stupid he sounded.
“That’s not going to happen,” his father replied. “If I don’t have confidence in Gabriel, why would I have confidence in you? So, let’s make this simple. You think about my offer and you let me know your decision. You might not have anything to lose, Richard, but once you denounce this family’s name, this family won’t be here to protect you any longer.”
The final statement sounded like a threat. No, it was a threat. If Richard decided to sink the ship, he would have to go down with it. Was he ready for that?
His father didn’t wait for his response and rose to his feet. Richard remained seated as he watched the man stalk to the door. But just before his father left the room, his assistant hurried to his side.
“He’s awake. Should I inform the Cortezs?” the assistant whispered.
“I can hear you,” Richard stated.
“No,” his father replied. Then turning to Richard, he added, “It doesn’t matter. You can add this to your collection of useless facts.”
The father he once pretended to be loving and kind gave him a smirk. And when the back of his cashmere suit disappeared out the door, Richard had lost the game. For a while, he actually thought he had the upper hand. Staring at the floor, wondering what he should do next, Richard didn’t realise Matthias had entered the bar until he spoke.
“I heard everything,” Matthias stated.
“What? Wait, you were eavesdropping?”
“You’re wearing the earpiece I gave you. It’s not my fault you didn’t take it out.”
“So you heard everything?”
“Pretty much. What’s your plan?
“I don’t know. What would you do?”
Matthias shrugged. Then deciding to expand his knowledge on the newfound fact, and to briefly take his mind off the daunting decision, Richard asked, “Have you heard of the Cortezs?”
“I only know of one family with that name.”
“Who are they?”
“They’re the ones running the trial against Jodie.”
“The couple of the dead partner?”
Did Richard hear him right? Yes, he did. At the revelation, his jaw hung open and his eyes grew wide in shock. Unfortunately for his father, the new fact wasn’t useless after all.
“Why? What do you know?”
“You didn’t hear?”
“No. Tell me.”
Richard wasn’t sure if he should disclose it. He wasn’t even sure if giving Matthias the information would be of any help. Perhaps Richard should tell Jodie himself and be the hero of the day. Or perhaps he should play it safe and just let Matthias deal with it. Richard had to choose.
Next Chapter >
(For the chapter list, visit here.)
Prior to the launch of The Battle for Oz, my publisher threw a Goodreads giveaway. 20 copies were up for grabs and over 1,000 people entered. I’m still in shock at the number of readers interested in the book. I know some books get way more participants, but for me, 1,000 is a lot! So anyway… now that it’s a little over six months, my publisher and I have decided to throw another giveaway.
Just like round one, there are 20 paperback copies to be won. And don’t worry, despite the blog title, the giveaway is not just open for today. In fact, it runs from March 28th to April 25th. The only downside is this paperback giveaway is only open to residents of the United States and Canada. Unfortunately, my publisher cannot extend it globally… yet. However, they’re more than happy to give 10 free e-books to my readers living outsideof US and Canada.
So, if you’re living in the US and Canada, you can enter the Goodreads giveawayHERE. But if you’re not from either of these two countries, you can leave a comment below stating who you like better, Dorothy Gale or Alice Liddell, and stand a chance to win an e-book! Sounds cool?
I’m not sure if any of my blog followers won the Goodreads giveaway the last round. I saw a familiar name, but I cannot be certain. This time, I hope one of you do win a copy. It would be awesome to hear your thoughts on the book. So be sure to join! You have close to one month to enter, and I don’t advise waiting. What if you forget? Ok, ok, fine, I’ll remind you when the date is nearer. But if you have nothing to do now, enter/leave a comment today!
That’s it! I used a lot of ‘so’s in this post didn’t I? So I better end this here. Happy Monday dear reader! And thanks for always sticking around
He stared at the ghost in the mirror. The wet hair, pale lips, and the emptiness in those dark eyes – they were not his. The person gazing placidly at him looked foreign. And for a long time, he didn’t know what to call him.
As he glanced at the reflection of the window, framing the thundering world outside, he tried to recall the missing memories. Who was he? How did he get there? What was his name? Everything was a blur – her face, their words, his very own voice. Everything was lost in his hazy thoughts; everything… but a white, ceramic plate.
It shattered at a time much less gloom than this. The sun was warm and bright, and the air was fresh with a green scent. He was looking forward to a new start. But then a plate fell from the counter top and tempered the promising day.
“Don’t touch that,” she said, scrambling toward the toddler inching closer to danger. “Help me, will you?”
He looked up from his phone and spotted her annoyance. She gestured at the shattered glass pieces on the floor, before carrying their child out of the kitchen. Grunting, he dragged himself to clean the mess. Why did she have to drop it? Why was she so careless? When he was done, he snatched his bags and left without a word. There were no goodbyes or well wishes for the day – their marriage had come to that.
It was a sad and undeniable truth. But their marriage had grown apathetic not because either of them had changed. Both he and she, and their little one, were very much the same. He still liked sketching, she still liked reading, and the little one still liked his stuffed bear. But after the invasion, life became different.
The invasion: they came and they conquered. That’s how invasions work. They came and they conquered.
Friendly as they may be, their motive was never changing. They needed this planet. They took it to survive. And if you’re too weak to fend them off, you accept your fate. Those were the rules of the game.
Honestly, he didn’t like the game. And ever since they took over, their lives were never the same. Some would say it was for the better. But better is subjective. Everything was foreign and adapting to the change put everyone on edge. So, he didn’t blame his wife for pulling away. She had every right, and so did he. But perhaps he should’ve approached things different. Perhaps he should’ve tried to truly win the game. Then maybe he wouldn’t have a broken umbrella by the doorway and an empty house. Then maybe… she wouldn’t have gone home.
“I’m leaving,” she said that same evening. He’d just returned from work, soaking to the bone, after the heavy rain had contorted the man-made umbrella.
“To where?” he simply asked.
“Home. And I’m taking our child with me.”
“Home? This is your home.”
“No. This isn’t. This isn’t a home. You’re not here and I’m afraid to be alone. I just want to feel safe again.”
“You will. You’ll get used this. Just give it some time.”
“Get used to this?” She chuckled in disbelief. It was only when she picked up their child did he notice the packed suitcase on the floor. She was serious.
“You can’t leave,” he said.
“Yes, I can. They gave us a choice to return to the ship. I’m leaving with or without you.”
She stalked to the door and he stood frozen. He didn’t feel entitled to stop her, but he didn’t want to follow her either. As strange as it sounded, he wanted to try this new life. He wanted to give it a shot, even if it meant staring at a stranger everyday. But now he wasn’t sure. Who was this man before him? Who was the man with the high cheekbones and the scarred complexion? Why did he get the rose tattoo on his neck and why was he wearing this blue check shirt?
As the earth continued to rage at its new inhabitants, he finally remembered. His name wasn’t John. John was the host with the sad, soulless eyes. And this world… this world wasn’t his. Not the sky, not the trees, not the house, and not even this body. Yet he wondered why, for even the briefest moment, did he attempt to accept it? Why could he look past the foreign face and try to adapt? Why was he willing to lose his identity to live this better life? If this was the gold and glory of a war, why did he feel like a loser?
Perhaps he should return to the mother ship. That’s where his family had gone. That’s where he could be his true self again, until they found a way for earth to sustain their race. But perhaps he should just accept fate. Most of his people were doing it. So why can’t he?
Mirror, plate, and umbrella were words given by angeloflove712. And boy, it’s harder than you think, working with three objects. At first, I thought of doing a crime-sherlock-esque story, but then I decided to go with something that requires a little more reading between the lines. I hope you liked it!
Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. It could be about anything and everything. You might think that makes it easier, but it isn’t. So write away and be sure to link your work in the comment section below.
Also, I’d like to hear what you think about this short story – your comment, constructive criticism, and feedback are much welcomed :) Oh, and if you have 3 news words you’d like to suggest, leave it down below too!
*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of the daily kitchen service, running alongside the dinner’s preparation, she heard her name in a harsh whisper. It was a talent of hers to catch the mention of her name even in the noisiest environment. It meant few people could get away with gossiping behind her back.
Turning to the door where the voice had come from, she saw Zach gesturing her over.
“What?” Guinevere asked, as she slipped past the preparation table. “What is it?”
Zach pulled her out of the kitchen into the corridor, and said, “Your parents are here. They’re dining with the Lees in the restaurant.”
“My parents? With the Lees?”
Suddenly, she had a crazy idea to spike their orders with laxatives. As childish as it was, it seemed like the best kind of revenge for the people who ruined her happy ending.
“Yes, they’re having a luncheon. I just thought you should know.”
Nodding her head, Guinevere thanked Zach before returning to the stoves and knives. No, she wasn’t going to spike the food, but she was going to serve them.
Heading to the expeditor on duty, she demanded the orders of the Lees’ table and insisted she would take the dishes to them. As she had expected, the kitchen staff put up quite a resistance. It was only after threatening to call her parents into the kitchen did they give in. But of course, she was never planning on doing so. It was the element of surprise that she wanted.
“Don’t worry. I know what I’m doing,” Guinevere assured the headwaiter, before picking the plates and stalking to table nine.
Table nine was at the far corner of the restaurant. She had plenty of time to run through all the words she planned on saying upon her service. But ten feet before the table itself, she caught her mother’s eyes.
There was a brief moment where her mother hesitated to call her out. So helping her mother make the decision, she announced her presence instead.
“Mother? What are you… father?” Guinevere feigned ignorance.
“Guinevere?” her father asked with brows furrowed.
“I’m just helping the service staff. I’m also on duty for the shareholder’s dinner tonight,” Guinevere said with a wide smile.
Her mother responded with mutters under her breath. If it were a few decibels higher, Guinevere would’ve gotten an earful on having not dropped out of the clubhouse challenge yet.
Ignoring her parents’ obvious discomfort, she turned to the Lees and placed their dishes down. “Mr and Mrs Lee, I believe these are your orders,” Guinevere said.
“Thank you. Guinevere, is it?” Mrs Lee asked.
“Yes ma’am. The one and only.”
“We’re sorry to hear about your engagement,” Mrs Lee added.
“Oh, please don’t. I hear Wayne’s set to be in trouble. I wouldn’t want to be a part of the politics. Neither does my family.”
“Guinevere,” her mother snapped.
“The rest of our orders have yet to arrive.”
“Oh, right, let me go check on them.”
Guinevere gave another smile before stalking back to the kitchen. She still had three more chances to instigate some tension with four more dishes to serve. If that plan failed, she could always try to seat herself with them. Why were there only three couples having lunch? She really wanted to know.
Once in the kitchen, the headwaiter grudgingly handed over her parents’ dishes. But just before Guinevere could return for round two, the back kitchen door slammed open. There were a few ‘hey!’s and ‘what are you doing?’s before she saw the culprit storming toward her.
“I’ll do it,” Richard replied, as he snatched the plates from her hands.
The headwaiter gasps and attempted to take the plates back, but Richard swerved out of his grasp.
“Wait,” Guinevere said. “Wait!”
She managed to pull at Richard’s collar before he reached the door. And as he stumbled backwards at the sudden force, the headwaiter swooped it and took the plates from him.
“This isn’t how we run this restaurant,” the headwaiter scolded.
“Shut up and hand me the plates,” Richard replied, giving Guinevere a glare as he rubbed his throat.
“Hold on. You don’t want to go out there,” Guinevere said.
“Because your parents are out there.”
“Are you trying to make a scene?”
“Weren’t you trying to make a scene?”
“No, I was just-”
“Oh please, stop with the act.”
“I have a good reason.”
“What makes your reason more important than mine?”
“OK, what’s your reason then? Do you think showing up would put your name back in the family registry?”
Guinevere never thought she would be fighting with Richard. Out of the five, they had the most in common. If she ever had a verbal war, it was more likely to be with Jodie. Yet there they were, brawling over who should send out the dishes.
“No. Then – then what’s yours? Don’t say you’re doing it for any of us. That would be a lie too.”
“It’s not a lie, I can find out-”
Richard turned his head toward the other kitchen staff, and it was only then that Guinevere realised how quiet it was. The whole kitchen had their eyes and ears wide open, witnessing their rather bratty quarrel.
“What are you all looking at?” Guinevere asked.
“Let me serve the dishes,” Richard said calmly.
“I don’t think…”
Everyone was still listening.
Hating the sudden attention they were getting, Guinevere contemplated on letting Richard serve. At the end of the day, they all had issues to solve. Perhaps she should give Richard his chance. The only problem was, would his appearance affect her status? What would the Lees think if she’s associated with their disowned son? Guinevere had to choose.
If you’ve been on the blogosphere for a while, you’ve probably asked yourself this question. Heck, if you’re new, you’ve probably asked this question as well. More so if you’re a creative individual who’ve been told over and over again that blogging will help in your pursuits. And even more so if you’re a writer, as it’s been advised and advocated by writers everywhere.
Well today, I just want to tell you that blogging does help. This is my fifth year on WordPress and I wouldn’t have stuck around if it didn’t. So as a personal testimony (and hopefully as an encouragement for you to keep on blogging), I’ll share how blogging has helped me over the years.
*These lessons are what I learnt as a writer, but I’m sure they’re applicable to any form of creative work.
#1 Becoming A Serious Writer
You know what they say: if you want to be a serious writer, you gotta have a blog. Well, let’s just say I started blogging without this in mind. In fact, I started this blog for two reasons. One: to post the first chapter of my first novel, and two: to deal with my Post Potter Depression (PPD is real, guys).
If you’ve been here since the very beginning, you’ll know that all I wrote back then were Harry Potter fan fictions. It was my first time diving into the fanfic world and I was a complete newbie. But because I was upset Harry Potter was officially over, I needed to write to make myself feel better. And while I wrote, I was taught to take writing seriously.
Back in my fan fictions days, i had a habit of not capitalizing my ‘i’s’. It was me being a lazy writer and i was awakened by the fact through the comments i received on my stories. After the revelation, I began taking writing a little more seriously and started capitalizing. It wasn’t so hard holding down SHIFT, to be honest. But if it weren’t for those comments, i would still be typing like this.
Those early days of writing snapped me out of my delusion of being a good enough writer and forced me to see how naive and immature I was. Simply put, blogging forced me to grow up.
#2 Becoming A Better Writer
The desire to become better naturally came after deciding to take writing seriously. Blogging itself helped with the process.
The comments I received during my fan fiction days kickstarted this learning journey. With more people reading my stories and more comments pouring in, I knew I needed to improve. So I took every advice and polished my works as best as I could. When I ultimately transitioned to posting original works, I paid closer attention to my writing style and attempted different genres.
I wanted to be a better writer for myself and for you. And because of this blog and its readers, I’ll always endeavour to outdo myself and be the best writer I can be. Without this platform, I wouldn’t put much effort into writing. And without the much needed practice, I wouldn’t have improved over the years (or at least, I’d like to think I’ve improved. Haha!).
#3 Accepting Criticism
Oh, how we hate it when a stranger trashes our precious piece of work. What do they know, right? Sadly that’s reality, and it isn’t something we can escape.
I’ve had my fair share of criticisms – some harsh, some kind, some insulting, some gentle – and they all started on this blog. Though I must say, bloggers are generally nice. There is rarely any hate on the blogosphere, except for a tactless few. Dealing with different comments taught me to accept that there’s still room for improvement, that not everyone will like what I write, and that some people should be forgiven. It has taught me to embrace constructive and thoughtful criticism, and ignore those that leave nothing but heartache.
Unfortunately, this lesson has yet to end (and I doubt it ever will). There are times where I still struggle in facing harsh reviews on Goodreads, but my blog has prepped me in advance and for that I’m grateful.
#4 Believing In Myself
I won’t lie, I still doubt myself these days. But when I receive personal emails and read wonderful comments, I’m encouraged. Those words are like nitro to a car running dry. And without the faith of readers I’ve never met, I wouldn’t have shifted gears and started writing and posting original stories.
It it because of you that I braved myself and put up my own short stories and blog series’. It is because of you I stopped fearing being plagiarized (as though my writing was so awesome to begin with) and hit publish. It was because of you I stepped out of my comfort zone and attempted different genres.
The shift from fan fiction to original works was the biggest move I made on this blog. I was nervous because the readers then were mostly subscribed for my fan fictions. There was a probability that many would unsubscribe when I made the switch. Thankfully, no one did. And that itself made me believe in myself.
Yes, I still have doubtful days. Yes, I still question if I have what it takes. But your emails, comments, likes, and reblogs, have the power to turn those days around. Don’t think your comments are worthless. Your comments mean a lot to me and they make a big difference in this writing journey. So… would you like to leave a comment now? Oh, please do!
#5 Receiving Support
When I started the crowd-funding campaign for The Battle for Oz in October 2014 (wow, time really flies), I reached out to you on this platform. Though not everyone responded, some of you did. Now if you didn’t respond, please know I don’t hate you. I was a nobody… I still am. And I didn’t expect to receive an overwhelming support. But to the few that responded, supported the project, shared it with your family and friends, gave a shout out on your own blog, I am extremely grateful.
If it weren’t for this blog and the readers who were willing to back an unknown writer, The Battle for Oz wouldn’t be published. I’m hoping that one day, should I attempt another crowd-funding campaign, more of you would be onboard. Still, all the support I’ve received up to now has been a blessing. And I’m very thankful to have you as my reader.
Well, there you have it… my testimony of how blogging has helped me.
The biggest challenge for every blogger is the discipline to be consistent. It’s my challenge as well. Sometimes, I wish I could skip a week with a lame excuse. But knowing that blogging, even when I don’t feel like it, is helping me in my writing journey, I keep at it. So if you’ve lost the mood to blog or you’re growing tired of having to blog, I encourage you to keep going. Don’t give up so quickly. Blogging is the kind of activity that takes time before you see its fruits, so just be extra patient.
Now, for some quick shameless plugging: if you have no idea what to blog about, you can join my 3 Words 1 Story writing challenge. This once a month prompt should be able to help you produce at least one post a month. There are no rules and it’s fun. Go check it out! Okay, shameless plugging over.
I hope this post has been somewhat encouraging. I’m an advocate of blogging, not because it gives you a web presence, helps you reach out to fans, and all those things people say – which are true – to help you grow your business, but because blogging helps you polish your craft and gives you the courage to be better in it. You can do it for the business, but you should also do it for yourself.