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The One Time I’m Never Good Enough

The one time I’m never good enough… is when I write.

“But, you’re a writer,” you say.

Exactly. I’m a writer. Yet, I feel like I’m never good enough and never going to be good enough when I write. No matter what people say–no matter the reviews I receive–I find it difficult to believe their words. It’s not that I think they’re lying. It’s just that I can’t see what they see. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this to fish for compliments. I don’t need compliments. More often than not, I have no idea how to respond and react to compliments. The only thing I can say is ‘thank you’. And though I might add a few exclamation marks and a heart emoji, I’m not actually jumping with joy. I might smile, but only for a while. Because the glimmer of hope, that I’m finally good enough, often vanishes within minutes.

Why is this? Shouldn’t I be proud of what I’ve accomplished? Shouldn’t I be confident with what I bring to the table?

No, I shouldn’t. In fact, I can’t. Because in this field, I will always be my own worst critic.

I know I cannot please everyone. I know I cannot produce flawless pieces of work. I know not all my ideas will be good. Yet, in every occasion, I wish I was better. And, I often tell myself that I can do better. But when I compare my work with the more established authors around me, I find myself falling short every time–as though I can never be good enough. And honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever be. Still, in the tug-of-war of finding the worth in my work, I do not stop writing.

It’s strange, isn’t it? Not all my stories will be worth reading. Not all my characters will be loved. Not all my worlds will be captivating. And, most certainly, not all my plots will be exciting. But… I’ll still write them. I will invest my time and money into my creations, well aware they’re flawed. It’s a risk I’m willing to take. Because the only time I’m good enough… is when I accept my abilities and my flaws.

Despite the imperfections and horrendous mistakes, I’ve learned to accept what I can do in every season of my life. Yes, I’m not good enough at writing–I’ll never be good enough in my lifetime–but I can do my best. I may not achieve great success, win awards, and have my works widely read, but I can strive to be better. I won’t see myself as a good writer–only decent at most–and I’m OK with that. Because being good enough isn’t reflected in my work–being good enough is loving myself and the shortcomings of being me.

So, if you’re like me and you feel you’ll never be good enough at your art, don’t beat yourself up. You’re already good enough when you’re chasing your dreams and working on your craft. It’s the perseverance that counts in life, not your popularity score. Even if you’re your own worst critic, you can still choose to be good enough at being you. We can always strive for perfection in our work, but we must also strive to love our imperfections too.

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Posted by on March 15, 2018 in Writing Journey

 

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Sorbet | Curtains | Farewell

It was the best sorbet in town. That was what he told me. I didn’t believe him but I said, ‘sure’. From two weeks of messaging, he didn’t seem like the kind of person who would know much about desserts. The sudden ability to name a cafe–after I called myself a sweet-tooth–was obviously aided by the internet. Still, I wanted to give him a chance. He could be the one after all.

“I’ll have the Tangy Tangerine,” I told the waiter.

“Just black coffee for me,” he said.

Out of the variety of treats on the menu, he ordered ‘just black coffee’. No cake, pie, or sorbet caught his attention. As I suspected, he was as boring as the curtains against the red brick walls–patternless and grey.

“Just coffee?” I asked, after the waiter left.

“I don’t do desserts.”

“Not even chocolate?”

“No.”

What was I expecting? Right as he walked in, in his plain deep-blue shirt paired with black jeans, my assumptions were right. He wasn’t dressed to the nines nor was he sloppy, but he was dull. A straightforward and no-frills-attached kind of a guy–the kind I was actually looking for.

“So, how did you learn about this place?” I asked.

“A friend.”

“Oh, I thought you looked it up on Google,” I admitted with a chuckle.

“I didn’t. I’ve actually been here. It’s a nice cafe,” he stated.

“I see.”

It was a decent joint, but oddly quiet on a bustling day. Despite it being an easy place to find–nestled in the heart of the city–there was no other customer in sight. How does a place as such survive? That thought baffled me, but only for a brief moment.

“It’s a gem–this cafe–unlike any other. There’s no free wifi. The service is fast. And–this might surprise you–it isn’t listed on the internet,” he added.

“But… is the sorbet really good?”

“The others say so. I’ve never tried it myself.”

“The others?”

He nodded. I contemplated asking about the number of people he had previously invited to this hidden gem. But when our orders arrived, I decided it was better not to know.

“So, shall we begin?” he prompted.

“Sure.”

“Let’s start easy: how long have you been on this quest?”

“Quest?” I chuckled. “Long enough.”

“And how many have you met?”

“Before you?”

He nodded. Unlike me, he chose to be informed. But, I didn’t hold it against him. In this game, more wasn’t always better. At least from his perspective, more could mean danger.

“Three,” I answered.

“How much did you divulge?”

“Just the picture.”

“That’s good to know. I would tell you how many people I’ve met before you, but I don’t want to scare you.”

“I don’t want to know–ignorance is bliss.”

“Then in this case, you shouldn’t.”

“But if I did want to know-”

“You can trust my profile,” he interrupted. “I’m not an open book, but what I say is the truth.”

Challenging his confidence, I dipped the metal spoon into my melting sorbet. I had forgotten about it–preoccupied with the purpose of our meeting.

“Go ahead,” he prompted. And just as I had my first taste of the not-overly sweet, fine-crushed ice, he said, “I told you.”

I chuckled–he was right.

“Now, can I see the picture?” he asked.

For the past few months, I had been carrying the picture with me. It was taken by a beach one summer ago, framing two friends about to be sisters–I was in a yellow, floral sundress while she donned a frilly blue top, as the sun dipped into the horizon behind us. But the day that picture was taken, she disappeared. If only I had suspected, I wouldn’t be spending the afternoon with another stranger.

Placing the picture on the table, he swept it up and slipped it into his pocket. Then, he asked, “Name and age?”

“Bethany, twenty-seven. Do you need her full name?”

“No, Bethany would do.”

“Are you sure you can find her?”

“I’m sure. But I’ll only start searching once I see the money.”

“My father is preparing the cash. I’ll be able to get it to you by the end of this week.”

“You can drop it off here.”

“In this cafe?”

He nodded. It was only then I understood why the cafe was barren. But while I hesitated to take another look around, he asked, “What do you want me to do once I find her?”

“I…well… I just…”

The answer was easy. I wasn’t able to request my desire blatantly, but I knew what needed to be done. If only she didn’t betray my trust. If only she paid for her crime. As much as I didn’t want to take justice into my own hands, I had to. If not for her, my brother would still be alive.

“I want to say goodbye,” I said.

“Well then, enjoy your sorbet,” he replied. “It’s on the house.”

As he rose from his seat, leaving behind an untouched cup of black coffee, I knew I would never see him again. And just like my silent bid to Bethany, I wished him farewell… and good-luck.

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Sorbet, curtains, and farewell were words given by Patty Uy on Facebook. I remember Patty asking for a romance story with her previous three words. So, I decided to give her another but with a twist.

Now, it’s your turn! You have until the end of March to write a story of your own with the three words given. Anything can happen with these three words. Hopefully, yours isn’t about revenge too.

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

3 Words, 1 Story © 2018 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2018 in Original Works

 

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Read The Slave Prince For… FREE!

Yes, you read that right–you can read The Slave Prince for FREE and BEFORE EVERYONE ELSE!

The Slave Prince–my latest novel–is set to launch on May 29, 2018. It will be in online bookstores, as well as physical shelves in the US and Canada. But before it becomes accessible to the general public, I’m creating a platform for you, as my blog reader, to read the book first.

As a pre-launch campaign, I’ll be sending 100 readers the digital advance reader copy of the novel. A digital advance reader copy, aka an ARC, is what it says it is–you will get to see the maps and read the story before the rest of the world. But, how do you become one of the 100 chosen readers? It’s simple.

I’ve created a google form, for you to request for the ARC. The first 100 people to complete the form will find the ARC in their inbox. Just like that, you have a free book! However, there are a few things to note.

As some of you may know, I am an indie author–Inkshares is my crowd-funded publisher. The Slave Prince received a full publishing contract after winning the Geek & Sundry Fantasy Contest in 2016, where over 300 readers banded together to pre-order the book. This means, that even though I have a publisher, I still have to play a part in marketing the book. Hence, an ARC and the readers chosen to read it are very, very, very, very, very important. VERY IMPORTANT.

By requesting for an ARC, you are saying ‘yes’ to lending me a hand. You will be using your word–an extremely powerful tool–to help The Slave Prince succeed. You’re not just reading another fantasy book, but you’re believing in me and what I have to offer. That is why I require a few things from you when you request for the ARC. What are they?

#1 READ it! Some people request for free things without actually getting to it. This stops others, who are genuinely interested, from having the opportunity to read my book. So please, read it. It’s a kinda cool story.

#2 SHARE it on social media. You may think that tweeting and Facebook posting about the book does nothing, because your friends don’t read or are into science fiction. But, I want you to know, your word as a reader has an impact. It is powerful, valuable, and influential–converting on the fence readers when they stumble upon the book later on.

#3 REVIEW it either on your blog, Goodreads, or Amazon–all platforms if possible–by May 29th. You don’t have to give it 5-stars. In fact, I don’t want 5-stars if you don’t think it deserves 5-stars. What I want is your honest review–let me know what you think, because your thoughts are important to me. By reviewing the book, I learn where I’ve fallen short and where I’ve succeeded. You’ll also help others discover my book too! And that, my dear reader, will help my novel greatly.

#4 SPREAD the word! Tell your family and friends about my book. Double post about it on your social media platforms. Rave about it if you truly like it. And, if you want to own a physical copy, buy it! Gift it! Help this nobody, Malaysian author, become somebody to someone out there.

What I’m asking may or may not be a lot–depending on what you perceive as ‘a lot’–but it affects the outcome of my novel. It determines its success. So if you want to play a role in making this novel known, by simply reading and sharing it, then fill up the request form now–be a micro-influencer today!

REQUEST FOR THE SLAVE PRINCE ARC NOW!

 ____________________________________________________________________________________________

THE SLAVE PRINCE

Release Date: May 29, 2018
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
*Free worldwide delivery on Book Depository!

For fifteen years, Thom believed he was a prince of Alpenwhist. He had climbed the castle turrets to survey his kingdom, learned to duel with the sharpest blades, and stirred up palace intrigue in disguise. That is, until one day when his identity is suddenly shattered by the revelations of a blind woman: He learns that he isn’t a prince at all, but a wretched slave.

In a kingdom where ruthlessness is part of everyday life, Thom fears this new truth could be deadly. He takes flight, running from the life he knew and the one he despises, but the call to free his people beckons him home. Armed with a magic stone, which instructs him through surreal visions, he must topple his once beloved brother who has since become a tyrannical king.

A fantastical retelling of the story of Moses, Thom’s adventure forces him to question if he can succeed in his quest without truly understanding who he is. Because it seems he must unravel his past, present, and future before he can set his people free.

READ THE SLAVE PRINCE FOR FREE

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2018 in Others

 

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The Myth of Politicus and Zhen [12 Genre Months]

“I’m here to see Professor Lin. My name’s Rob Whelan–I made an appointment.”

The secretary–who looked like a student of the university itself–scrolled through a list on his tablet. When he found my name, squeezed between a Professor Doherty and Doctor Lyon, he rose from his seat and gestured at the oak door to my right.

“She’s expecting you,” he said.

Already late for the appointment, I thanked the young man and stalked into the mahogany-themed office–a uniform decor of the historical establishment.

“You’re late,” she stated.

Lin was seated behind a polished wooden table, surrounded by books stacked high on the carpeted floor–the bookshelves against the four walls offered no space for the newer editions.

“Sorry. Bad habit,” I replied.

“Have a seat,” she prompted.

Lin’s dark straight hair, deep set eyes, and thin lips were the same as how I remembered them to be. But on that sunny afternoon, Lin wasn’t in a pink, silk gown. She donned–what most educators in a place as such would–a dull, black and white suit.

“It’s been awhile. How’s your book doing?” she asked.

“Not good. My publisher wants another. Soon,” I admitted, planting myself on the velvet armchair across her desk.

“And… that’s why you’re here.”

“Partially.” I smirked.

Lin chuckled. “So, what do you want to pick my brain on?”

“The myth of Politicus and Zhen.”

“What about it?”

“I have a few ideas to run by you.”

“Something you could’ve done via email.”

“True. But I wanted to see you–it’s been awhile, like you said.”

Lin and I met when we were ten. She lived with my family for two years, while her parents had ‘some issues to sort out’. We kept in touch after she returned home. And, once in a few years, our families would get together for Christmas. But since she began teaching at the university, it was almost impossible to meet her–she was a fourteen-hour flight away and always working on the holidays.

“We can catch up later. Let’s get to work first,” she said.

“Right. So, Politicus and Zhen–do you think they could’ve actually existed?”

“The Empire of Chrysus isn’t in any historical records, neither is King Politicus and Queen Zhen. I would say their story is parallel to Greek mythology.”

“But, I did some reading online, and some people theorise that Queen Zhen was the youngest daughter of Emperor Gaozu.”

“None of Emperor Gaozu’s daughters left their country. That’s a fanboy theory, Rob. But, a good one to roll with. Is that your intended direction?”

“No. I just wanted to know what you think.”

“I don’t think they’re real.”

“I see. Personally though…” I hesitated.

“Personally what?”

“I believe otherwise,” I stated. Lin raised her eyebrows. But as her lips parted to question my belief, I continued, “Anyway, do you think it’s possible for Politicus to retain his memories after each life?”

“The original tale didn’t say he could. But since you’re writing fiction, anything goes.”

“Do you think, that with his memories, he can help Zhen remember their past?”

“How–with true love’s kiss?” Lin chuckled. “Wait, is this new book a romance novel?”

“A little romance doesn’t hurt.”

“The themes of this myth are greed and violence. The consequence of Politicus’ brutality was an eternal curse–witnessing the death of his lover in each life cycle, with no hope of happiness. You can toss in a little romance, but a happy ending will be far-fetch, not to mention, cliche.”

“He can break the curse.”

“By wakening Zhen’s memories?”

“That’s a good idea, isn’t it?”

“Not really. It doesn’t quite make sense.”

“Why?”

“Is your story set in the twenty-first century?”

“Yes.”

“Then first off, Politicus claiming to be Politicus will make him seem insane. Nobody will believe him, let alone Zhen. Secondly, Zhen recalling her memories won’t save her since thematically, the myth isn’t about love. What I logically foresee, is Zhen living in an endless loop, well aware she only has twenty-nine years each cycle. And, the idea that Politicus helped her remember–under the pretense of breaking the curse–paints Politicus as selfish as he was before. It won’t be a show of love. Making the love of your life aware of eternal damnation isn’t love. Love is Politicus suffering alone until he breaks the curse, which is unlikely to involve wakening Zhen’s memories.”

“Right.”

“But, that premise can make quite an adventure–Politicus and Zhen working together to free themselves from the curse.”

“It just… doesn’t make logical sense to you.”

“It doesn’t.”

I sighed. Why couldn’t I see it before? Still, I had to ask. “One more question,” I prompted. “If you were in Zhen’s shoes and Politicus awakened your memories-”

“I might grow to resent him,” she interrupted.

I nodded. “Well, I guess it’s safe to say romance isn’t my forte.”

Lin chuckled. “Stay away from romance, Rob. Stick to your action-adventure-treasure-hunting stuff. It’s what you’re great at. Honestly, I thought you were going to ask me about Politicus’ sword of vengeance. The sword makes a good set-up.”

I forced a smile. “It sure does.”

There was no need to ask about the sword–I knew a lot about it already. And she was right; the sword did make a good set-up. It brought upon a curse I could only blame myself for. But trust me, I’ve tried. No matter how far and wide I’ve searched–in this lifetime and the ones before–I’ve yet to find anything that will break this eternal damnation. But admittedly, I am selfish to wish I wasn’t alone. Is it wrong to desire recognition from the one I love? I’ve lived more than a thousand lives with her by my side, but not once has she looked at me the way she did when she first died. Even in this twenty first century life–a month and fifteen days before her death–there was no love in her gaze. And, if I didn’t want her to resent me, I will have to watch her die… again.

“Free for dinner tonight?” I asked.

“No questions about the sword?”

“None.”

“I should be free tonight.”

“Great. It’ll be awhile before we get to meet again.”

Lin chuckled. “That’s life, isn’t it?”

I nodded. “That’s… how it always seems to be.”

Perhaps in our next life, I’ll finally break the curse—ending this vicious cycle–and make what Zhen calls a cliche ending… our reality.

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12 Genre Months © 2018 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2018 in Original Works

 

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No ‘Proper’ Post This Week — It’s The New Year!

This post has been scheduled in advance, since I’m not around to physically hit publish–as this goes up, I’m likely at my aunt’s place for my yearly family reunion dinner. But wait, isn’t the New Year on January first? Well, yes and no.

If you live in Asia, you might find yourself an extra holiday around January or February. Schools will be on a short break, while most companies close for a few days. After all, it’s the Lunar New Year!

The Lunar New Year is a tradition for East Asians. If you’re not married, you’ll follow your parents back to their hometowns to visit your relatives. You’ll also receive red packets containing money. There’s a reunion dinner, house visitations, and… a lot of sitting around and snacking on festive treats. So, with the excuse of being away, I’ve not written a proper post for today.

For those who’re celebrating the Lunar New Year, I hope you have a great time with your family. For those who’re on holiday because of it, I hope you also have a great time with your family. And for those who wished they had a break but don’t live in Asia, I’ll be back next week with what I hope to be an exciting post (if my schedule goes as plan). So until then, have a great week ahead!

GET SOCIAL WITH ME!

Guess what? I’ll be posting excerpts of The Slave Prince on my Facebook and Twitter timeline leading up to its publication. If you’d like to sample what’s in store, follow me on these two platforms. But… if you’d like to get even more personal, I’m on Instagram! I don’t post much about writing on Instagram but focus more on my other two passions: travel and fitness.

FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2018 in Others

 

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Square | Exhausted | Populate

We all have stories to tell–stories of adventure, love, grief, and misfortune. Stories that shape who we are and the decisions we make in life. In every galaxy–on every living and dying star–stories flood the cosmos. This is my story, on a planet I call home, Bevattna.

Bevattna nestles in the Andromeda galaxy. It doesn’t belong to any solar system–static amongst many others. It has four moons orbiting its cobalt blue surface. And yes, the blue you see sweeping across this planet, from your expensive telescope, is indeed water.

Bevattna is a beautiful place covered by a great ocean–so I’ve read. No one knows how our people were able to populate–how we even began civilization–but we do know we’re a thriving race. It’s amazing when you think about it–being supported by an air bubble system beneath our concrete, man-made surface. How did we come so far? But my story isn’t about my sun-kissed countrymen and the advancement of our technology. My story begins in a square room I live, eat, sleep, and breathe in–the room I’ve never left since birth.

This room is white–blinding white. The white walls reflect the single fluorescent lamp hanging two feet from the white ceiling. A white, rectangular table sits at a corner by the white door, accompanied by a white chair. A white bed frame, nailed to the white concrete floor, cradles a white mattress covered in white bed sheet. All is white, and the only other colour in the room is me–the absence of light. So, why am I here? I don’t know.

Every day–breakfast, lunch, and dinner–a hand, in a white glove, will slip through a flap at the bottom of the door. The flap locks immediately after I receive my food tray, often bearing the same meals daily–a sandwich and a glass of milk. What do people eat beyond these walls? I don’t know. It’s a wonder I’ve yet to find myself exhausted by the lack of variety. It’s odd, don’t you think–I have no complaints.

After my last meal, I find the highlight of my day. It’s the most anticipated hour because I get to leave this room. Three knocks will come from the door. The knocks are an order to face the opposing wall. Once I position myself, I’ll hear the click of the lock and the faint grind from the hinges of the door–you have to really listen. A series of footsteps will then make its way toward me–one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight–before a pair of hands slip a blindfold over my eyes. The same hands will guide me out of the room, along a pathway I imagine to flank more white walls, before I arrive in another white room. When the blindfold comes off, it looks like I’ve never left.

This room is white too, except that there’s nothing but minute–almost unnoticeable–holes in the walls, ceiling, and floor. I can’t remember who taught me this, but in this room I’ll remove my white gown and place it over a hook on the door. Then, the hissing begins. Two seconds after, a burst of water escapes the holes–first clear, then foamy, then clear again. This room provides me my daily bath and dries me with a blast of warm air. It sounds fun, doesn’t it? But that’s not the reason why I’m telling you this. My story, up till today, has always been the same. Day in, day out, I write the same words on a blank piece of paper. But today, my story changes. Because today, when there was supposed to be three knocks, there was none. Instead, I heard the click of the lock.

All I’ve done since is write and wait. I’ve been waiting for my bath. I’ve been waiting for the person to arrive. I’m not sure if he or she is late. I don’t know what happened and why the schedule changed. I’m contemplating about going to sleep. But will the light turn off at the same time today? Will I receive my meals tomorrow? Something isn’t right and I don’t know what to do about it. Is this where my story ends, or is this where it starts over?

I’ve considered leaving this room, but I’m afraid the walls outside won’t be white. What if they’re black? That’s not how I’ve imagined them to be and it scares me. I’m not sure why I’m scared to leave. I only have one piece of paper and a pencil that is now blunt–I cannot write a list of why I think I’m scared. The only thing I can do, once this page is filled, is wonder and wait.

Perhaps if the light don’t turn off tonight, I’ll peek outside. Maybe if the meals don’t arrive tomorrow, I’ll leave this room. If you–whoever you are–are reading this, without me by your side, it means I’ve started a new story. But if you find me with this paper, clutched to my chest… well, my story–amongst a great many others–is over.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Square, exhausted, and populate were words given by Matthew Lok on Facebook. Like a majority of my 3 Words 1 Story pieces, I started with no idea where the story is heading–forcing me to leave the dull white walls I often find comfort within. Though I’m not sure how well a story as such will sit with you, I can hope some find it enjoyable… or, at the very least, intriguing.

Now, it’s your turn! You have until the end of February to write a story of your own with the three words given. If you choose to take on this challenge, be sure to link your work in the comment section below!

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

3 Words, 1 Story © 2018 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 8, 2018 in Original Works

 

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Mapping My Universe ft. John Robin

One of the most enjoyable phases, during the production of The Slave Prince, was having two maps cartograph-ed by my author friend, John Robin. Now, if you’re an author, having your fictional world realised on paper is an amazing feeling. It takes the publishing experience to a whole new, fantastical level. It makes your work feel legit, as though it’s ready to play with the big boys! So truly, I am very grateful for the work John has done. And today, I’m giving him the spotlight.

Having worked with him, I believe John can give great insight on world building from a writer/cartographer standpoint. As a writer himself – authoring A Thousand Roads – he is able to approach this facet of ‘creation’ from a unique perspective. So whether you’re a writer, an artist, both, or neither, what he has to say will certainly make an interesting read. But… before we get to the Q&A, let’s take a look at what he has done for the realm of The Slave Prince.

FROM DOODLE TO ART
*Click image to enlarge*

CHATTING WITH JOHN ROBIN

Me: So John, let’s start with how you begin mapping a universe?

John: This is actually the hardest part for me. I always need a starting point. Usually, when it is my own world, I will begin one map by expanding another, or drawing beyond the boundaries of others where I have been curious about what lay beyond them. I just need a starting point, then my pen tells me where to go.

I find it much easier to draw someone else’s fantasy universe because I can always ask for a sketch. In your case, with The Slave Prince, the two sketches you provided me were excellent because I was able to begin translating your vision into something produced by my own hand.

Me: Do you incorporate your own imagination into the maps?

John: Absolutely. Most of the flourishes that end up in the final map are discoveries that happen in the process of doing. For instance, the forest south of Alpenwhist on the kingdom map wasn’t in the plan, but our work developing the world map beforehand reminded me there are woods south of Alpenwhist. So, I drew the woods. I didn’t expect there to be so many details in the forest, but the process of drawing revealed surprises, as it always does for me when trees are involved.

I cannot explain how this happens. It’s a bit like writing a book I suppose: one might see many plot points, but there are the surprises that come a few paragraphs from when you write them, and they radically change the story. Aragorn in Lord of the Rings was a character like this, apparently – just walked into the story, but what an important player to the whole trilogy! This is much like how I’d describe my imagination at play when I draw a map. Be it my universe or someone else’s, the map is a drawing and it has a life and a story, much like a book. The lines are the storytellers, and I am their obedient scribe.

Me: What do you find challenging in each project?

John: The hardest part for me is usually the final touches, especially the labeling. I prefer to write my own labels in a styled script by hand, but as I learned in our work together, these don’t translate well in a smaller map on page. I learned a lot about incorporating fonts and spaces in Photoshop after the drawing was complete. However, I do want to develop my own fonts based on my handwritten letters for future. It was liberating working on the second map (Alpenwhist kingdom map) knowing I could draw it without placing any labels. In the case of the world map, which I drew first, I wrote in all the labels by hand, then had to meticulously erase every one to replace them with a font. The advantage of this was that the space for the label was created. What this taught me was to leave space for labels on future maps, and hopefully begin my own carefully crafted letters for future use.

Me: What do you enjoy about cartography?

John: Drawing a map tells me the story of a world. Seeing how mountains span, rivers bend, forests arise, coast lines bend and shape, lakes appear on empty page, islands dot the seas – all these things tell me a story. Not just in the shapes. Often I will see a stand of trees and know it has an important history or should have a name. Or, I will label a territory and the story behind it comes to mind just in how the name sounds once I write it down. Drawing maps is what, for me, makes a fantasy world feel truly alive. In fact, when I go to the fantasy section and look for new fantasy books, it’s the maps that I turn to right away and tell me whether I want to enter this new world or not. It was, after all, the map of Wilderland in The Hobbit, on my grandmother’s bookshelf, that I would flip to many nights before I knew how to read, that eventually pulled me to fantasy and my own map-making.

Me: Does cartography help you in your own writing endeavours?

John: Yes! There is a storytelling that augments the narrative form I experience when writing. It sharpens world-building in ways that listing details alone would not do. In a way, drawing a map is a third level of engaging with a fantasy world beyond writing and world-building. A bit like M.C. Escher’s drawing hands, one feeds the other, and the other feeds it, and it circles on and on into deeper levels of imagination.

… 

What did I say – it takes someone who can channel both of his amazing gifts to be able to build worlds from a unique perspective. I’ve found myself trusting John in the decisions he has made for my world and I have no regrets. Thanks again John, for playing such an important role in the production of The Slave Prince! You the man!

I hope this post has given you some insight on cartography and how it can build a fantasy world. I’ve learned a lot from working with John, and I’ve learned some more just from this ‘interview’. If you’d like to know more about John and his works, take a peek below! I’ve included some extras for those who’d like to give this man and his talent a chance.

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MORE ON JOHN ROBIN

John runs a blog at TheEpicFantasyWriter. He’s also the senior editor of Story Perfect Editing Services and founder of Dreamscape Cover DesignsIf you’d like to get in-touch with John on social media, he’s on Twitter and Facebook!

A Thousand Roads 

Release Date: October 31, 2018 (eBook) / January 19, 2019 (Paperback)
Genre: Dark epic fantasy

Disclaimer: this novel is intended for adult readers. It contains sex, violence, coarse language, and dark subject matter.

Azzadul, the god-king, the Lord of Light revered by many. When the darkness corrupted him, he became the Dark Lord, feared the world over. His magic, once a gateway to immortality for his people, delved instead into horrors as he sought ever deeper levels of mastery. Children were stolen from their beds, coveted for his blood-rites. When he vanished, it all ended, and the people of the world tried to forget, to move on…

Jak Fuller has always wanted a home. An orphan born ten years after Azzadul’s disappearance, he has wandered far and wide, trying to forget the memory of a burning woman. When he comes to Fort Lasthall, on the outskirts of the Dark Lord’s former kingdom, he hopes to finally settle into a peaceful life. Instead, he finds himself unnaturally compelled by a dark, terrible voice, a voice that knows him, calls to him. A sense of destiny that fills him with fear.

New powers are rising in the dark places of the world. A master of fire-rites called Talamus the Red, arch-foe of Azzadul, seeks to enslave the world with a magic he has been developing for the many centuries of his life. Ready at last, there is only one weakness in his plan, an obstacle he is determined to destroy: a boy, bound to an old magic that just might resurrect the power of Azzadul.

The very power bound to Jak, before he was even born…

PRE-ORDER JOHN’S DEBUT NOVEL NOW!

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2018 in Writing Journey

 

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