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Why You Should Stop Trying To Fit In

Should you stay true to yourself or create to be on trend?

As creators, we often find ourselves wrestling with this question. We often contemplate if we should just follow the crowd. After all, it seems to be the way to go if we want to succeed. But… is it worth it?

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Original Works

Faith | Work | Love

“Tis’ the season to fall in love,” she said. “The snow is falling. The mistletoe is waiting. If anything, Christmas is when you find the one.”

“Right,” I replied. “But-”

“Just look at the movies! And don’t get me started on Hallmark,” she added.

“And your point is…”

“My point is that this is your season,” she said, with a gentle nudge of the shoulder.

With a halfhearted smile, I returned to the unopened files on my desk. As the week-long holidays were just around the corner, I intended to complete the remaining work at break-neck speed. Alas, my colleagues often found their way to my workstation with invites to Christmas and New Year parties—none of which I had any intention to attend.

“So you’re coming to the office party, right?” she continued. “You’ll get to meet the guys from the other departments.” She winked.

I sighed. If only the party wasn’t mandatory—our manager had invited each and every person with a personalised card—I would’ve skipped out. “Yea, I guess,” I replied.

“Great! Who knows, you might just find the love of your life,” she said with a beam.

“Awesome.” I gave a thumbs up before plugging in my earphones.

Oh, how easy I’ve made it for everyone to think that I was a Grinch. After all, I hadn’t shown much enthusiasm for the holiday. But truthfully, that wasn’t the case—I adored Christmas. I loved sitting by a decorated fireplace as the Christmas tree lights flickered on the surrounding walls. I enjoyed the company of family and friends as we shared a warm cup of eggnog after a hearty Christmas dinner. I didn’t even despise the music—I would prepare my very own Christmas playlist in November. But things had changed—Christmas was no longer about faith, love, and hope. Christmas was all about finding the one. And just like she said, don’t get me started on Hallmark.

If only I could celebrate Christmas the way I wanted to. If only I could make this holiday my own. If only I could return to the good old days—building a snowman with my sister, guessing the gifts under the tree, and singing cheesy carols without shame. And just as I thought about home, there came a ping from my desktop chat.

‘Wanna go home for Christmas?’ my sister sent.

‘Flight is expensive now,’ I replied.

‘So you’d rather spend it with people trying to hook you up?’

I chuckled. “Are you going back? I thought you couldn’t.’

‘I changed my mind,’ she said. ‘I forgot what Christmas was like.’

‘Me too.’

‘I’ll see you at home then,’ she added with a wink emoji. And at that moment, I knew that she had bought her air tickets—that she would be home for Christmas, experiencing the very meaning of the season that had been lost for many years. This year, my sister had the courage to choose her own holiday story—did I?

That night, before I slipped under the cosy covers of my bed, I made up my mind. I had no plans to stand under a mistletoe at my office Christmas party—unfortunately, I would have to gracefully decline the invite. I also had no plans to fall in love—to write my own cliche Christmas romance. There was, after all, more to this holiday. And since it was still my choice on how I wished to celebrate it, I chose to do so in a way that mattered to me.

‘I’ll see you at home,’ I hit reply. And then, to both my mother and father, I sent, ‘I’ll be home for Christmas. It’s where I belong.’


Faith, work, and love were words given by Caroline Guisson on Facebook.

This bite-sized piece of holiday fiction was written to remind us all that we still have a choice on how we wish to celebrate the end of the year—whether it’s falling in love, spending time with family, or using this time to reconcile, let’s celebrate in a way that matters to us.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story with the three words given. As the words are pretty ‘Christmas-y’, you could write your own Christmas story—perhaps a piece on what this season means to you.

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

3 Words, 1 Story © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

Writing Journey

How To End A Bad Year

We’re almost a month short of 2020 and I’m sure that not all of us have had a great year. I, for one, underwent a few challenging seasons—from the betrayal of the people I trusted to the questioning of my self worth, approximately six months of 2019 wasn’t the best. In fact, there were times when I wondered if things could actually get better—was there hope of a brighter new year? Was there actually a light at the end of the tunnel? So if you have had a rough year, you’re not alone. And let’s be honest—after what we’ve gone through—stepping into the new year feeling hopeful… is easier said than done.

Personally, I refuse to see my 2019 as a failure. Despite the deep waters and dark valleys, I did learn and grow from all the negative experiences. But as I entered the third quarter of the year, I was afraid in believing in a better 2020. I didn’t want to hope only to be disappointed again. I found myself asking, what if… it doesn’t get better? What if… the monsters get stronger? What if… it is all downhill from here? And that is when I realised—every year in my life isn’t meant to be the best year ever. Every year in my life is simply a chapter of my story—a story that will have both joyful and heartbreaking moments. And when I look at 2019 from this perspective, I uncovered my missing hope.

I found my hope in 2020—not as a greater year than 2019 but as a year that will advance my story. Frankly, I’ll never know what’s in-stored for me in the new year—2020 might be just as tempestuous, or perhaps there will be rainbows. But alike the adventures I had embarked on in 2018 and the storms that I overcame in 2019, the coming year will speak for itself. It is a new chapter with its own plot that will eventually become a part of my lifelong story.

So, how do you end an unfortunate 2019 with hope? Embrace it. Accept that 2019 has passed—a chapter that is about to close—and look forward to the next page where you’ll be entering a new stage of your life. And whatever 2020 has for you, remember that it is but another chapter of many more to come. After all, your life isn’t defined by a single chapter but your journey from one to the other.

Original Works

Circle Of Chalk [12 Genre Months]

‘I was sixteen. I was sold to a brothel after my father’s death. And just when I caught a glimmer of hope—a glimpse of survival—I was framed for murder. If, for a second, you thought that our dystopia had ruined all chances of a meaningful life, think again—all I ever wanted was to escape the gallows.

‘The year was 1259—one thousand, three hundred, and fifty-nine years after the Red Sun grazed our earth. What was once a thriving planet, with expeditions to the moon, had become a wasteland. Our people were forced to start over and our nations returned to their primeval state—to a past where famine and plagues descended upon the poorer folks, where the kings were chosen by the gods, and where my father died a poor man.

‘My father had accumulated creditors over his many years of Wei-Qi—a game he sought to master, in hopes of reclaiming the very wealth he’d wasted from it. Upon his death, I was sent to the House of Red Lanterns to repay his debts. It was the home to unfortunate women who danced in silky crimson dresses, plucked lyrical string instruments, and served sweet tea and cakes to its male guests amongst other unspoken services. It wasn’t a place for a child. But in the midst of its hopelessness, I saw a light. My saviour entered the brothel’s rosewood halls as a tax collector—the man who soon made me his second wife.

‘I knew. I was well aware—I wasn’t saved because of love. I was rescued from a life of prostitution because of my youth. I was young and fertile—I could bear the tax collector’s child, and I did. I gave birth to his one and only son, and became the mother of the heir to his fortune. Alas, that didn’t sit well with his first wife. It was bad news for the lady of the house—bad enough news for her to murder her husband, frame me for his death, and claim my child as her own. And that is why, Judge Bao, I am writing this to you. I need you to save me.’

“Another letter from the portal?” Dominic asked.

“Yes, as though our own universe isn’t filled with enough injustice,” I replied. “This Judge Bao is getting out of hand. Someone over there has made me out to be a hero.”

“Well, you did solve that one case with the butterfly dream,” Dominic said. “You’re quite the Sherlock Holmes.”

“Please, don’t get started with Sherlock Holmes,” I replied as I handed the letter to Dominic.

Standing from my oak desk, I headed to the bookshelf in my private study. Surely, its occupants had the answer to the hapless girl’s case. Perhaps one of the great kings of the past could free her from her inequitable predicament. But just as I retrieved a thick leather-bound book, an idea struck.

“Are you still getting those letters—the Sherlock ones?” Dominic asked. “I thought they stopped.”

I chuckled. “Stop? See that pile over there?” I said, gesturing at a box brimming with unopened envelopes. “They keep coming. Heck, I’d rather be a beekeeper at this point.”

“You’re afraid of bees,” Dominic stated.

“Precisely. Now read that letter and give me some advice, Watson.”

Dominic retreated to an armchair by the lit fireplace. And after a brisk read, he said, “This seems pretty straightforward.”

“Yes, I’m sure. So how do we help her?”

“I have no idea,” Dominic said. “If I did, I’d be you.”

“You’re always of great help,” I said. “Thanks for being here.”

“You’re welcome, Solomon.” Dominic hopped off the armchair. “Better get to replying that poor child. The gallows is a deadly place to be.”

“Yes. Death waits for no man.” I shooed Dominic to the double doors before returning to my desk. Hopefully, with the right instructions, the magistrates on the other side would save yet another soul—hopefully, that would be all from that universe for a while.

‘Dear fellow judges,

‘It has come to my attention that the tax collector’s second wife is being framed for a murder she did not commit. But to say that she is innocent without proper investigation would be a crime. Thus, I have found a solution to unravel the truth.

‘Before the girl is unjustly sentenced, draw a circle of chalk around the heir of the fortune. Then, instruct both the lady of the house and the girl to pull the child out of the circle. Whoever refuses to hurt the child in the process is the true mother of the boy. And though that will not discount the murder, it will reveal the true liar.

‘Best regards, Judge Bao’


12 Genre Months © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

Videos

What Happens When You Give Up?

Before you make your decision, find out what happens when you choose to give up.

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Original Works

Disenchanted | Syncopation | Avalanche

“It’ll do you good, honey,” my mother said. “It’s only a year.”

The boarding school nestled at the foot of Mount Avalanche—a white brick building, accentuated with bay windows that overlooked the emerald-green garden with its ever blooming flower beds. The grand Victorian-esque structure had once served as a haven during the third world war. But five years after our last city was razed to the ground, the sanctuary opened its oak doors to final year students—promising those who graced its pristine halls a better future in the new world.

“We’ll get you at the end of the school year,” my father added, just as the towering iron gates swung open.

My parents were part of a humanitarian organisation on a quest to find and document all survivors of the war. As many still lived in the rubble of their desolated towns, it was their job to bring them back to civilization.

“I just hate…” I hesitated to continue. It wasn’t the school, despite the rumours of its strict and unorthodox regiment. It wasn’t the thought of living alone either—having done so countless times before. “Just… just be careful,” I said.

“We always are,” my father assured.

As the car rolled up the pebbled driveway, my only concern was of my parents’ safety. They had been assigned to the north, where ruthless scavengers were known to loot. But little did I know, my apprehension was displaced—the danger wasn’t in the wasteland. The danger was here.

“Have a good year, honey,” my mother said. “We’ll call whenever we can.”

After a hug and a peck on the cheek, I bade my parents farewell. And from that point onward, I found myself trapped in the facade of an academy—discovering the secret to its promise on the very first night, snugged under the covers of my soft feathered bed.

It began when the lights went out—a disconcerting rhythm, with offbeat syncopation, resonated through the dormitory. The music echoed down the empty hallways and filled the sleeping garden with its unsettling nature. Yet, the other students were unfazed. They remained sound asleep as though the erratic cadence was a soothing lullaby.

Seeming as though I alone could hear it, I believed it was a figment of my imagination. After all, the rhythm was oddly familiar. But as I struggled to sleep with the disturbance, I couldn’t place where I had previously heard of the discord either. And when morning arrived, my daily schedule left me with little room for contemplation.

From one class to the next—language, arithmetic, the sciences, and extra curricular—I could barely catch my breath. Students were given five minutes to walk to their next class. And meal times were kept brief—every single body moving in perpetual haste. It was only when the sun retired that I finally recalled the night before. And by then, the strange music had returned.

The soundtrack of chaos—there it was again. Was it still just in my head? Unfortunately, the exhaustion from the arduous day ushered me to sleep. Despite the peculiarity, fatigue drowned the noise. And in the hopes of a peaceful slumber, a memory filled the darkness of my eyelids. Oh, how I wished it was a pleasant recollection of the past—a sweet and comforting dream. Alas, I was swept into a disenchanted world—a time where the smoke and thunder of war robbed me of my simple life… and my sister.

“Let’s go back. It’s not safe,” she said, as the siren of an incoming attack shook the trees of the timberland.

“Yea, let’s go,” I echoed.

My sister and I hadn’t travelled far from our backyard. We had only followed the walking trail for fifteen minutes, escaping the harsh reality for Mother Nature’s comforting embrace. Alas, even Mother Nature couldn’t shield us from the war. It was there, amongst the sky-scraping pine trees, that the enemy struck—an air raid that ripped through my sister’s chest while I cowered behind a fallen tree trunk.

“Eva?” I called. “Get up. We have to go.”

I knew—I had found my sister sprawled on a bed of dried leaves. Her small body limp and lifeless on the forest floor. And I knew—I was simply too afraid to face the truth. Then, the siren stopped.

I snapped awake. Dawn had arrived at the academy. And at the chime of the first bell, my routine began—a regiment that, after a day, I had surprisingly acclimatised to. Every morning I would be awakened by the same nightmare. I would then shuffle through my draining classes, with short meals in between, only to return to the distressing memory. It was a never ending cycle with no answers and dead end questions. What was going on? I lost my grasps on reality. And it was only at the end of the school year that I finally understood—I now knew what a better future meant in this new world.

“We missed you!” my mother exclaimed.

“I missed you too,” I replied. “Why didn’t you call?”

“We did but you were always in class,” my father said.

“It must’ve paid off.” My mother beamed. “Your teachers said you did well in your tests. They’ve even recommended you to the New Order.”

“The New Order?” I asked.

“You’ve always been a fighter,” my father replied. “Think you want to enlist to defend our country?”

“Oh, sure,” I replied without thought.

“Eva would’ve wanted that,” my mother said as she gave me a tight hug.

“Yea, she would,” I echoed—Eva would’ve wanted it. That I knew… for sure.


Disenchanted, syncopation, and avalanche were words given by Ryan SMJ on Facebook.

Honestly, these three words weren’t easy to bring together—it was certainly a challenge on my end. But somehow, I managed to concoct something from them and I can only hope that this makes a decent read. So… if you have any thoughts on this story, be sure to leave it in the comments below.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story with the three words given. It might not be easy but it’ll definitely push the boundaries of your imagination and skill.

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

3 Words, 1 Story © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

Writing Journey

Whispers of the Wind Is Now On Wattpad!


Read Whispers of the Wind on Wattpad for FREE!

And since you’re here, which cover style do you like better?

Photo Concept VS Minimalist Direction

What Is ‘Whispers Of The Wind’ About?

Royalty. Magic. Realm Travelling. 

Seventeen-year-old Robb is the king of Zeruko. He, and his twin sister Myra, ascended the throne after their father’s passing. According to many, King Daemon-arch-nemesis and ruler of Tentazoa-murdered the late king. But despite the claims, Robb believes his father is still alive.

With a desire to bring his father home, Robb leaves Zeruko with his trusted friend Spion. The pair travel to the realms of the universe through the magic of raindrops. From the hazardous trip behind enemy lines to the festive East Asian-esque Meihua; from the kingdom hovering above the clouds to the heterogeneous society of a tunneled realm, every step in his journey uncovers a gem of his past, present, and future. And in one foresight, Robb learns the daunting fate of Zeruko.


Why Wattpad?

You. Me. Fantasy.

I’ve been on Wattpad for a while now, but I’ve never really paid much attention to the platform. As building a Wattpad readership requires as much effort as a blog, I chose to spend my resources here. That being said, you will find my short stories on Wattpad too as I compile and upload them yearly. Which brings me to my YA fantasy series.

While I’m in a limbo on what to do next—pulling Book 1 off Swoonreads, and contemplating between the publisher, agent, or the self-publishing route—I didn’t want to keep the series from you. After all, it has been a while since I’ve announced of another book. Hence, Whispers of the Wind is now available on Wattpad.

By publishing the chapters on Wattpad, I hope to generate more conversations about the novel with you. The platform allows for comments at every paragraph and chapter, giving me better insights on what you think about the story. Wattpad also creates a space for us to have conversations outside of the books—a great way for me to connect with you on a more personal level. So, if you’d like to embark on this adventure with me, head over to Wattpad now! I’m really hoping to see you on the other side.

Note: You’ll find the first 3 chapters of the book on Wattpad. Fret not, the subsequent chapters will be published every Saturday starting November.

 

Writing Journey

How To Find Your Passion

There are countless voices across the internet, sharing tips and tricks on how you can discover your purpose in life. It is, after all, one of the most common questions—one we ask ourselves at least once in a lifetime. And so I thought, perhaps I could share my take on this too—perhaps there is something in my past that aided in my own process of uncovering my passion for storytelling. But as I scoured high and low, I realised that there was nothing. I didn’t undergo a process. There wasn’t a lightbulb moment. And that was when I knew… I didn’t find my passion.

If you haven’t found your passion, this is for you.

It’s great that you’re trying, testing, and exploring—embarking on new experiences in search for that uncontrollable love for the very thing that will define you. But as you set out on this quest, remember this: you don’t find your passion, your passion finds you.

There’s nothing wrong in the hunt but knowing that passion isn’t forced will put you in the right mindset. Just like how you can’t ‘make’ yourself fall in love with someone—no matter how hard you try, no matter how great that person is, no matter what others say—the same rule applies with your passion in life. And strangely enough, you’ll find that the one you connect with the most is sometimes the one you least expected.

The fact is, I didn’t choose storytelling—I neither tricked nor trained my brain into crafting tales and adventures. My passion for storytelling came from within—it was an innate desire to imagine, to create, and to push the limits of my reality, without any effort on my end. I didn’t look for it. I didn’t strive to make it mine. My passion found me… all on its own.

So if you haven’t found your passion, fret not. We uncover our own passion and purpose at varying stages. Even at crossroads—in moments of uncertainty and wonder—our passion is within us. And don’t be surprised when it changes. Because passion and purpose can change to meet the different seasons of life. Simply believing that you’re not left out—that YOU have it too—will remove the very burden that is perhaps stopping your passion from finding you.

Original Works

The Songbird of Andromeda [12 Genre Months]

I had long searched the galaxies for the songbird—the bearer of unparalleled beauty, the heir of unprecedented grace, and the keeper of the songs of the universe. She was known by all men—her transcendental voice echoing from the stars both near and far. Alas, no man has ever laid his eyes on her. And it was my mission to be the first.

Ninety-seven light-years from my planet, I travelled to the brightest star in Andromeda—the navel of the steed, Alpheratz and Sirrah. After a millennium of mapping the constellations, I had found the source of the songs. And if the stories were true, I would find the songbird in its blazing core—her wait for her saviour finally over.

Alpheratz and Sirrah was an incandescent mercury-manganese star. It was a blinding furnace, deathly to the voyagers of the galaxies. But I came prepared—my spacecraft was a creation of Jovian, the Father of the Sky. Upon my arrival at the outer atmosphere, my gifted vessel remained unscathed by the perils of its roaring nature. And it was there that I heard a song. It was called, ‘Epsilon’.

‘Return to me my fifth star, the son of Pegasus. From distances near and far, and across the universe. Remember our promise, the vow we made for us. Remember me my love, oh break heaven’s curse.’

Epsilon—a melody of despair, the story of the songbird’s fate, and a call for salvation. But it was more than a ghostly tune one would hear on the fifth day of each century. Epsilon was the name of her beloved—the fifth son of Pegasus, cursed by the Gods to forget his eld. It was only Epsilon who could free her—only Epsilon who could hear the words that made the music. It was only Epsilon who could find her. Granted, if he could remember.

If he could remember her tender smile, adoring gaze, and loving touch. If he could remember the rise of stars that bowed at her majesty—a shimmering of light upon her celestial being, as they fought for her hand in marriage. If he could remember the moment she chose a lowly and insignificant star—the epoch of their story. If he could remember the promise that they made to never part. Epsilon had to remember.

‘For my heart can no longer bear, the void of this despair. Still with faith, I believe that you are there. Remember dear Epsilon, of how they tore our souls apart. Remember dear Epsilon, the missing piece of my heart.’

Epsilon had to remember the night that the Gods descended—the night that the Gods discovered their vow. Epsilon had to remember the curse—how he was made to forget the songbird and was sent to live on a foreign planet, ninety-seven light-years from home. Epsilon had to remember the heavy chains that bound his bride, trapping her for all of eternity. And until he remembered it all, they would remain as separate pieces of the same heart.

“I remember, my songbird.”

No man has ever laid their eyes upon the songbird but it was my mission to be the first—to be the only. When I remembered—the reason for the ache in my chest, the meaning of each melody that filled the vast universe, and the promise that I had made beneath the heavens—my quest began. And after aeons of searching for my lost love, I had finally found her.

“The wait is over, dear Andromedae. I remember.”


12 Genre Months © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

Videos

How To Be Satisfied With Your Work

As creators, we can never be satisfied with our art. There’s always room for improvement, always something to be fixed, always a missing link.

Alas, chasing satisfaction isn’t what we should be doing. Rather…

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