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The Perfect Timing

I believe in the perfect timing. And I encourage you to do the same.

In 2003, I began my writing adventure. I was thirteen, and a horrible writer. In 2011, I wrote my first novel. I launched my book on my 21st birthday, and never did/never will cover the cost of that project. In 2015, my first professionally published novel hit bookshelves. I thought it would change my life. But on a monumental level, it did not. Counting the years, it has been awhile since I started. But am I where I dreamt I’d be in the start? No. Will my time come? I believe so. When? I don’t know.

It’s easy to throw in the towel whenever dreams and goals don’t come to past. Why? Because we live in a world where everything is accessible with a snap of a finger. We’re accustomed to the promptness, that our patience has ebbed. And when we don’t see our dreams realising one year, two years, three years down the road, we call it quits. With the lack of patience, we give up on the most important things in life – we fail to realise, that the things that matter, don’t run with earth’s timeline. And with that ignorance, we move on… never achieving what we initially set out to achieve.

I’m no stranger to the thoughts of giving up. In high school, I loved writing. But because I didn’t win any short story competitions, I thought I wasn’t good enough. And yes, I wasn’t – I wasn’t good enough. So, I stopped writing stories and went into poetry. But if I kept writing – practicing and honing the craft – I could’ve been good enough, and perhaps be better than I am today. Due to the lack of immediate results, in an era of instant gratification, I questioned my passion. But thankfully, I decided to try again. And since then, I’ve learned to be patient – to trust in the perfect timing.

I know it’s scary to put faith in something we cannot see. Time is not physical, and the concept of the perfect timing could actually take decades to materialise. Heck, we might not even live to see its arrival. In this case, ignorance isn’t bliss. However, such ignorance holds the power of believe.

Passion is driven by believe – without believe, there’s no passion. But believe requires the metaphysics of time. It is of this world, but doesn’t abide by worldly laws of seconds, minutes, and hours. Hence believing in our dreams – constantly fanning our passion – can only be achieved by faith in the perfect timing, where dreams come to past and where lives are changed.

If you want to achieve your dreams, you have to believe – even if it takes years, even if you don’t see the results in your youth, even if it only presents itself generations later – there’s a perfect timing for everything. And as ignorant, laughable, and foolish as it may be – to have such a conviction – it is worth the lifetime.

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Going… Going… Gone!

I’m here to announce my absence this week and the next. If you’ve been around for awhile, you probably know why. You see, I don’t skip a post unless I have to. And by have to, it’s usually when I’m not around – when I’ve fled from reality. So, where did I go after a sprint through Platform 9 3/4? Whose land am I traversing inside the antique cupboard? What’s worth breaking the space-time continuum to put life on hold? Well… head on to instagram to find out!

In the meantime, while I’m frolicking in the land of the rising sun, feel free to catch up on the posts you’ve bookmarked for rainy days. But if you’ve been a dedicated reader – God bless your lovely soul – you can find my other passions on my personal/travel blog and fitness blog. Yes, I have other passions aside from writing. Which reminds me… I need to write book 2 of the Raindrops trilogy when I get back! Busy times ahead.

So, back to my holiday, I’m going to stop write here – no, not a typo. Oh, and before you click away, like me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter! Because, you know, this is the only time I’m brazen enough to self-promote. *insert grinning emoji*

Here’s a cute kitten GIF to keep you entertained for two weeks. D’awww!

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2017 in Others

 

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Shampoo | Tiles | Shadows

There I was, hunched over the sink for a quick wash. It had been weeks since I left the office, and the only time I was ever alone involved lemon-scented shampoo. Unfortunately, such bliss was consistently short-lived. Just as I turned the squeaking tap off, the restroom door slammed open.

“He’s ready, chief,” my corporal reported.

Tossing my towel at the small-framed man, I crossed my fingers and stalked straight for the interrogation room. I had hope it was the end. That case had gone on for too long – those gruesome bodies and their weeping families – it was time to put it all to rest, as it should’ve been years ago.

“No more games,” I said.

“I was never playing one,” he replied.

“Good. So let’s get to it.”

A man in his mid thirties, with a healthy physique, and a head full of hair – dyed to conceal his premature aging – he mirrored the ordinary. But beneath the average and harmless facade was a monster. I had proof he’d stabbed and numbered his victims over the last fifteen years. And for the first time, I’d caught him.

“Do you plead guilty to the murder of-”

“I didn’t do it,” he casually interrupted, sliding into a comfortable position on his chair.

“You didn’t do it?”

“Without reason. I didn’t do it… without reason, detective. You’ll thank me if you knew.”

I frowned. I entered with intentions of withholding emotions, but that proved more difficult than expected. For one, I had an urge to knock his teeth loose – the devoid of remorse was provoking. But the first to lose their cool would lose the game. And I wasn’t going to lose again.

While I thought of a response to spur a direct confession, my antagonist straightened himself. Leaning forward, he added, “They were bad people, detective. All of them.”

“And that gives you a reason to kill?”

“A good reason.”

“Madeleine Matthews was a seven-year old math genius, about to change the world with her gift, before you brutally ripped her open. How was this child a bad person?”

“One day, she would be. Trust me, I know.”

“So you’ve decided to play god.”

“It’s all part of a greater plan, detective.”

“I see.” Done with the man’s crooked sense of justice, as it merely challenged my self-control, I went for the answer the nation needed to hear. “So, God, where are the other bodies?”

“What bodies?”

“Number three, five, six, nine, twelve, fifteen-”

“Not here.”

“I said, no more games,” I warned.

“I’m not playing any games, detective. They’re not here. You can search the whole country, and you’ll never find them… here.”

“I’m going to give you another chance. You either tell me now, or after I break every bone in your body.”

“Fine. Number three was sprawled on the bathroom tiles of his home in 1956,” he calmly replied. Apparently my threat made no difference, as he’d yet to lose his placid mien nor regain his sanity. “Number five was hung on a tree in a park in 2017. Number six-”

“Which park?”

“August, 2017.”

“I asked which park, not when.”

“It’s May, detective – it doesn’t matter which park. Shall I continue? Number six was left in a river in 1872. Number nine was buried in her backyard in 2038. Number twelve was-”

I slammed a hand on the metal table. “Enough,” I said. “You’re not making sense.” Rising from my seat, I glanced at the two-way mirror. Was my team hearing what I was hearing? Were they deducing him insane or concluding it as part of his game? I contemplated rounding them for a discussion, but I couldn’t shake off the anomalous feeling in the room.

“You’ll find them, detective – if you go back, or if you live long enough. All they are now… are shadows,” he said.

“Do you work alone?” I asked. Despite his modus operandi, it seemed as though he was implying something more with his grotesque accounts of history.

“Yes.”

“In 1873 and 2030?”

“In 1872 and 2038, yes.”

“Why the sporadic numbers and years?”

“I’m not stupid, detective. If I logged linearly, I would’ve been long caught. And not by you.”

“So you wanted me to catch you?”

“I need to tell you something, detective. But you wouldn’t take me seriously outside of this room.”

“I don’t take you seriously now. Do you expect me to believe you can… time travel?” I scoffed.

“That’s not it.”

“Then what is?”

He waved his hand, signaling me toward him. Chuckling, I strode to his side and leaned in.

“Tell me,” I prompted.

“I’m your son,” he whispered.

Pulling back with a laughter of disbelief, I rested my hands on my hip. “I don’t have a son,” I stated.

“Number twenty-six was bagged in the boot of her car in 1988. Her name was Sarah Weber. Sound familiar?”

At the mention of the name, I froze. Yes, it sounded familiar. And so was the beautiful face that came with it.

“Did you murder Sarah Weber?”

“Don’t worry, father. Once I leave this room, you’ll never see me again. I just wanted to meet you, that’s all.”

“You’re not leaving this room, son.”

“Oh, I will.” He smiled. “You’ll see.”

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Shampoo, tiles, and shadows were words given by monkeyeverythingblog. And this story, well, it was inspired by a Korean crime drama I’ve been binge watching. Since I expected a plot twist that didn’t occur on screen, I decided to write my own crime piece with these three ‘horror-inducing’ words. What do you think – would this make a decent drama?

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. Since I didn’t go the horror route, perhaps you can do so. It would be pretty cliche though, but who’s to say – my story above is pretty cliche too.

*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 May 11, 2017 in Original Works

 

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Travel & Write

I love traveling – most of my friends, and even some of you, know that. I actually make it a priority to travel at least once a year. And because I’m not living in luxury – despite few assuming so, due to my escapades – I save as much as I can every month to make travel possible. It has become a ‘need’ in my life. But why?

There is, of course, the reason of ‘taking a break and seeing the world’. That’s the best reason anyone can give. It’s also a very legit one. But aside from that, I’ve found another reason to travel: inspiration. Traveling has inspired my writing. In fact, it has made me a better writer. Flights of fantasy frame a tale, but an experience gives it life. I endeavour to travel because I believe it gives my stories life – it makes them real. But how so, you ask?

#1 Cultural Understanding

Whenever I hop on a plane, I subject myself to a culture unlike my own. There’s a whole new way of doing things in a foreign land – a new mindset, upbringing, and belief. This unfamiliarity is the perfect opportunity to broaden my perception of the world. It corrects my former notions, and opens my mind to different possibilities. This understanding helps in my writing, especially when trying to break from a mold.

Often times, we box our characters in an ideal world – a world with a common set of cultures and beliefs. We do so because it’s safe – it’s what we know. But by experiencing other cultures in the real world, we gain a new understanding. Through the diversity, we’re able to sculpt a story from a fresh perspective. And by infusing the variety of life, we make our stories relate-able. Such stories live beyond the final page.

#2 Sight Beyond The Picture

There’s a difference between seeing a picture of an icy mountain peak and actually seeing it in person. There’s a set of emotions that come from sight beyond a picture. When you stand before a colossal work of nature, you’ll find yourself lost for words – awed at its magnificence. But when you look at a picture, you only feel a pinch of that emotion. You cannot grasps its magnitude and beauty, and your imagination will have to fill in those gaps.

When you’ve seen something in reality, your capacity to describe becomes far greater. The hustle and bustle, of a crowded street, is easier written when you’ve been jostled by the swarm of bodies. Compare that to a snapshot of Shibuya crossing, you can only imagine being sardined. Writing through an experience will leave a sense of reality with your reader. But to paint a real picture for them, you have to see its reality for yourself.

#3 Play Of Emotions

How important are emotions? Very. A writer needs to feel, before a reader can do so. But how can you feel anxious, overjoyed, fearful, and excited in writing, if you’ve not felt it in reality? There are many emotions aside from the common, everyday Inside Out posse. To know what it feels to be truly lost, is to be truly lost. To know what it feels to be wonder-struck, is to be truly wonder-struck. To know what it feels to be… you get my drift.

Traveling gives you the opportunity to experience and play with emotions you normally don’t. It helps you grasps the true meaning of a word. It helps you explain it in words, drawing from your very own encounters. Invoking emotion in a reader requires an author who knows that emotion inside out. And the only way to know an emotion is to feel it.

I know I’ve sold traveling as if it’s the best thing a writer can do. I also know that traveling may not be a luxury for some, while it may not be a priority to others. Whatever it is, I want to encourage you to see the world. You don’t have to board a plane to do so – you just need to try something new. Explore a part of your city you’ve not traversed. Try exotic dishes at a foreign restaurant. Befriend somebody from another country. Go out and experience the world first hand. Trust me, it’ll make a whole lot of difference in your writing – this, coming from a wanderlusting author.

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Growing Your Audience

This is a subject many have brought up. I guess… the first thing people do, when they visit my blog, is check out the subscriber count. And a four-digit number is pretty big for most blogs. However, that number doesn’t actually equate to active readers. Having gained a following over time, I cannot confidently say that everyone reads. People come, people go – some stay and lurk – and I don’t have control over my audience. But, I can most certainly grow it. How? Well…

#1 Know Your Audience

The first thing you have to ask yourself is ‘who’ – who’s your audience? Is your audience children, potterheads, Japanese, fitness junkies – who are the people you want reading your blog? This is one of the most important questions you’ll have to ask. Establishing your target audience is of top priority, whether you’re running a blog or writing a book. It’s crucial, because the people who read matter as much as the content you publish. If one is without the other, your blog will just be your blog.

#2 Find Your Audience

Now that you know your audience, the next step is to find them. When I first started this blog, I went on a hunt for readers. Since my initial target audience was potterheads, I scoured the internet for Harry Potter related blogposts. Once found, I’d read them and leave an opinion in the comment section. Doing so helped me build an initial following of Harry Potter fans, who read and supported my fan fictions.

This isn’t something I do anymore – with the amount of writing I need to get done, I don’t have the time to go on a manhunt. However, I can safely say that this is the quickest way to grow your audience. You have to first go to people, before people come to you.

#3 Study Your Audience

Do you know your audience? Yes. Have you found them? Some. Great! Now study them.

Your blog will evolve over time, and along with it… your audience. As mentioned above, you have no control over who reads your blog. You cannot beg readers to stay, nor can you shoo them away (even if you wanted to). They have their own desires – their own needs and wants. So how do you keep them engaged? You study them.

Head over to your stats page and you’ll know where your readers are coming from, and which post grabs their attention. Put two and two together, and you’ll learn what your readers are looking for – you’ll discover what piques their interest. But of course, we don’t just blog for our readers. We blog for our own personal reasons too. And with that said, we’re not obligated to accommodate to their wants. However, knowing what they want, will help you find a middle ground – where you can meet your need, while meeting theirs.

Growing your audience takes time – some people take longer, some people take shorter. So build your empire at your own pace. You’re not in a competition with that other blog. You don’t need a million subscribers by midnight. Racing against a non-existent clock will only result in a burnout. And you don’t want to risk your passion for a follower count that isn’t constant. Just do what you can, while focusing on what’s important: your craft.

At the end of the day, your craft is more powerful than your comment on Draco Malfoy’s hair. Your craft is what keeps people reading. Your craft is you. And the worst thing you can do, is lose yourself in your quest for numbers.

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Undaunted | Corgi | Trove

“Let’s go, Pup. They’re coming,” I said.

My trusted friend, an adorable brown-patched corgi, bounced to my side. It didn’t have a collar when it first showed up, so I called it ‘Pup’. I know, it sounds strange. Who would abandon a corgi? But it happened, and I’m glad it did. Because unlike me, Pup knew the map of this foreign land. Pup was part of this world. And boy, I would’ve been long caught if not for this little fellow.

“We have to get there before they do,” I added, pulling the room door open.

Pup barked in reply, and trotted into the crimson carpeted hallway. It promptly headed to the stairway. And just as I caught up, I heard the expected elevator ding. Pup heard it too.

Placing a finger over my lips, I gestured Pup to the stairs. Together, we shuffled down in a fury. I can’t recall the floor we were on, but it was a seemingly long descent. Oddly enough, we touched ground without a gasp for breath. Once in the lobby, I pointed at the revolving door, and said, “Lead the way, Pup.”

Pup hopped in place, and dashed toward the exit. As though having eyes at the back of its head, Pup kept a steady pace. What a funny sight it must’ve been – a man tailing a puppy. But neither of us spared a second on passers-by. We had to reach the cave, before the mercenaries did. We had to find the trove, before shots were fired. We had to live up to our name, coined by the people forever on our heels.

“Keep going, Pup!” I said, as we entered a crowd.

Pup and I were in a country rich with culture, brimming with men, and dense with low-rise shops along mucky, narrow streets. A great chatter rose from its heterogenous society – the noise as obstructing as the bodies. But thankfully, Pup only had ears for my husky voice. And I, only had eyes for its smooth coat.

Swivelling through the hustle and bustle, we made our way to the end of the winding street. Tearing free from the suffocating mass, we spotted the beach. But the second our feet aligned, an eruption of gunshots ensued. I snapped toward its source and found a scurry of people. With no time to lose, I waved Pup to follow.

Jumping over the stone barrier, we raced along the ocean tide with the east end in sight. It was where the wall of a great mountain stood. It fringed the peachy sand, homing the hidden entrance to Blackbeard’s treasure… or so some said. One can only hope at that point of time – with the gunmen bolting after us, the truth would determine our fate.

“Will we live, Pup?” I shouted, in competition with the evening waves. “Will the treasure be ours?”

Arf! Arf!

“I take that as a ‘yes’.”

Arf!

For a moment, I had confidence unbeknownst to men – thanks to Pup. But when my feet skidded five feet short of the sawtoothed wall, pessimism settled. From a glance, I knew there was no entrance. Hoping my initial deduction was erred, I brushed aside the navy green vines. Unfortunately, in dread, I was proven right. Did I read the clue incorrectly? Was Pup mistaken? I’ve not once failed to piece a jigsaw puzzle. And Pup had a track record of finding the right places. So, how could we both be wrong, at the same time?

“We’re done, Pup,” I said.

Now, you must know, I’m not a quitter. Nor am I a stranger to danger. But when bullets are bound to whizz my way, I have no plans to offer myself as target practice. The treasure could wait. I’ll get back to it… once I can account for my life.

“We need to find an escape,” I added.

On cue, Pup galloped to my left and halted where the ocean met the mountain. Calling me over with its bark, Pup turned to look upward. When I hesitated, Pup nuzzled against my leg.

“I can’t leave you,” I said. “We’ll find another way.”

Arf! Arf!

“No, Pup.”

Arf! Arf! Arf!

“I said, no.” I grunted, thoughtlessly lifting my gaze above. And there, right before my eyes, was an opening in the wall.

Arf!

“I see it! But…”

Peering over my shoulder, my burly antagonists were minutes from accomplishing their mission. With weapons lock and loaded, the odds of me finding another escape was slim. But, I knew I couldn’t leave Pup to those men. What would they do to Pup? I didn’t want to imagine. Still, as shameful as it is to admit, I considered saving myself. I’ve not doubted Pup’s intelligence, so perhaps the corgi had a plan. With this belief, could I leave my friend behind? Could I abandon Pup for safety and possibly, gold?

Arf! Pup prompted. Arf! Arf!

“I… I…”

Never have I faced such a dilemma. But before my mind could be made, a pang shot through my right shoulder. It sent my entire back tingling. Did I just take a bullet? I didn’t hear a gunshot. Frozen in fear, I faced no mercy – another pang erupted, and then a third. And since third time’s a charm, I snapped awake.

“Oi! Are you going to sleep through the day?” My sister hovered over me, with her hand poised for another smack.

“You just ruined my dream,” I muttered.

“Oh? Was it about a girl?” she teased.

“No.”

“Then?”

“I… I dreamt…Well, it was something about a treasure. And a dog.”

“Like in those Disney TV movies?” she asked with a chuckle. “What were you guys called – the Undaunted Duo or something?”

I frowned. “We didn’t have a name. Or… did we? Whatever. Go away.”

“The treasure hunting boy and his corgi – ah, that would make a great show for ten year-olds.”

Groaning, I yanked my blanket over my head. Whatever the dream was, it didn’t sound as silly as she’d imagined it to be. But I guess… I would never know, would I?

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Undaunted, corgi, and trove were words given by Calvin Ng on Facebook. What a plot twist, eh? No? Not really? Well… OK. I tried though. Recently, I’ve been having dreams about being chased – for whatever reason – and I thought, why not write about a chase dream. So, here it is. I hope it’s a decent story… from something so random.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. And, as an added challenge, write it based on something in your life – that’s as random as random gets.

*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 April 20, 2017 in Original Works

 

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100 Words, 6 Years Later

I wasn’t a good writer. I’m not a good writer now, either. But when I look back at my older works and cringe, I know I’ve come a long way. So if you feel like your writing isn’t great, I want you to know that you’ll get better. If you keep writing, you’ll improve. And it’s OK to admit that you suck. One cannot progress by already being the best.

To prove my point, let me show you the opening of my first novel and the opening of my most recent novel. Right off the bat, one seems more interesting than the other.

The Dreamer, 2011

Another day indoors. Tad sighed as he stared blankly at the book in front of him. He wanted very much to be out in the field playing ball with his brothers instead of reading a 500-page manual on “How to un-root an Energy Canister”, as though removing an Energy Canister was the job only for a highly professional engineer, if that was the case the world would have plenty of them. 

Tad shut the book forcefully and peered out the window. He could see his brothers being interrupted by his father in the middle of their game. He knew automatically that they were being ordered to get back to work. 

Trails of the Wind, 2017

Father is alive.

Those three words echoed in the depths of his cloudless mind. Standing before the wide glass window, he watched as day ended its shift. While night clocked in, the clear amber sky gracefully gave way to the moon. And in the peaceful arrival of darkness, the kingdom below lit with cheerful, vibrant lanterns – a reflection of the starry canvas above.

As the crackling logs in the fireplace warmed the bedchamber, Robb made up his mind. His heart was certain. And there were no more questions.

Father is alive.

Perhaps to you, I did a pretty decent job with The Dreamer. But if I handed you the entire book, I’m sure you’d change your mind. The Dreamer was self-published in 2011. It was my first ever novel, and I’m unashamed of it. I had to start somewhere, right? So I’ve left it in the world to be judged. Because at the end of the day, it’s the book that signifies the start of my adventure.

As for Trails of the Wind, I wrote it in 2015 but only finished editing in January. Currently, it’s being pitched to publishers. It’s part of a trilogy and I’m hoping someone would give it a shot. I know I would one day write better books than this. But for now, it’s the best I’ve written. Perhaps another six years down the road, I’d cringe again.

The great thing about writing is this: no one starts great. Sure, there are those who make headlines upon their debut. But what we don’t see are the years those authors spent on improving their skill. They could’ve been writing without a single soul knowing. Unfortunately, when they make their first appearance, many assume they’re literary geniuses. Many choose to compare themselves to a best-seller, without reading the backstory. And by doing so, many feel inadequate despite their potential.

Now, I’m not saying literary geniuses don’t exist – I think there are geniuses out there. But I doubt any success can come without constant devotion to one’s craft. Even geniuses have to put in work or their talent goes to waste. So stop comparing yourselves to others, and start comparing yourself to yourself.

The best gauge of improvement is through your own works. Acknowledging that some aren’t great isn’t a confession of incompetence, but a proof of determination. And determination is all you need to reach the finish line. You can be a great writer one day, dear reader. Today might not be that day, but that day would surely come if you don’t give up.

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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