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Write To Challenge

writetochallenge

Over the years, I’ve come to realise that writing isn’t just writing. In order to become a better writer, I’ve got to do more than writing.

You see, writing isn’t just about writing my niche genre, building familiar worlds, and creating characters I can relate to. Yes, it’s good to have a label under my name. And it’s natural for me to keep building it – heck, I should build it. I should master the art of my choice. But in order to become a stronger writer, I have to expand. I have to grow. Just like a kingdom, once established doesn’t remain stagnant, I need to push the boundaries of my world. But… how do I do that? Do I change my writing style and publish novels in different genres? No, I don’t. I simply experience – experience what I’ve never experienced.

To grow as a writer, I need to write beyond the comforts of my pigeonhole. I need to write outside of what I’m accustomed to. It will make me extremely uncomfortable, yes. I will struggle to convey my thoughts. And potentially, I’ll create disastrous pieces. But in order for me to become better, I need to take the leap of faith. I need to explore the vast universe and adapt to its varying nature. I may not be a master of all realms, but I have to experience them. And who knows? I might just write a decent piece.

There’s a reason why writing challenges and writing prompts exist. They don’t merely serve as a filler for when you don’t know what to write. These challenges, as they are called, challenge a writer to write something different. Despite not being good at a particular genre, world, or character, taking the challenge helps one get better. It is the stepping outside of a comfort zone that carves a writer. It is the embracing of something new that broadens the mind.

Personally, I’ve endeavoured to write in other genres, embrace different worlds, and toy with characters. I’ve written and will continue to write sci-fi, romance, mystery, and other genres outside of fantasy. I’ll mould different worlds with different cultures, beliefs, and eras. And I’ll create protagonists whom I’ll dislike more than the antagonist itself. Even if I don’t excel in these challenges – even if I don’t write novels through them – I’ll write anyway. I’ll write to challenge. I’ll write to challenge myself, my imagination, my skill, and my potential. I’ll write to challenge, because I know it has helped me in many ways. And I’ll write to challenge you, to write to challenge too.

I’m not just saying this on a whim. Through past experiences, I’ve grown from the challenges I put upon myself. From Dr. Slubgob’s Letters, a novella about a demon and his quest for the truth, to The Clubhouse, a blog series with characters I disassociate from; I’ve learned to construct deeper worlds and fuller personas. I’m still not good in either arenas – I don’t think I’ll ever master them. But, I have improved. And with a long way to go in my writing journey, I’ll continue to challenge myself.

This 2017, my writing goal is simple: write to challenge. As this year revs its engine, I encourage you to adopt this goal too. In fact, I encourage you to adopt this goal in general. It isn’t just for writing, but for anything – for areas you want to see growth. And If you stick through it, no matter the obstacles, you’ll come out a finer jewel than before.

Also, it can be quite fun.

quote-the-further-you-get-away-from-yourself-the-more-challenging-it-is-not-to-be-in-your-benedict-cumberbatch-6-89-37

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Posted by on January 5, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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To Write 100 Books & Die

towrite100booksanddie

Fellow blogger Zoey told me she is interested in hearing my self-publishing experience. So to start off this new year of blogging, I’ve decided to fill you in on what it’s been like for me. But before I get into my five years in this indie industry, let me share with you my writing goal. It’s pretty straightforward. My goal is to write 100 books and die.

Simply put, I want to write as many books as I can in my lifetime. Whether or not it becomes my full time career, whether or not I become a bestselling author, whether or not the world knows my name, I just want to write. Money and fame are not my goals as an author, they are added bonuses (bonuses I would love to have, of course). But ultimately, writing and writing and writing is my goal. That is why I chose to go indie.

I’ve self-published five titles independently: The Dreamer, Dream World: The Lost Child, Raindrops, Magnum Opus, and Dr. Slubgob’s Letters. Have I ever thought of pitching these books to publishers? Yes. Did I do it? Only once for The Dreamer. Why only once? Because the work that goes into it equals to another book being written. This is a personal statement: I rather spend time writing than looking for a publisher.

Of course, the self-publishing work that comes after writing a book is not easy. There’s editing, designing, publishing, and marketing. Being that I don’t have the finance to fund myself, my books are not given a paperback chance. Having no money to spend on professional editing, I edit my books with the help of beta readers. The cover design of all my books were done by friends who were willing to do it for free (quick tip: be friends with artists/designers). Asking for free help is something I had to do, and being honest about the struggle of being an indie author is something my artsy friends understood. I thank God for having friends who would do book covers for free – these people could charge me for it, but were willing to ‘collaborate’ because I was budget-less.

After all the pre-production work is done, to the best of my ability (note this: I don’t release books I’m not happy with – I’ve ditched some stories too), I export my books into pdf and place them on Gumroad. Gumroad hosts my books online and emails them automatically to buyers. They only take a small percentage out of the sales, much less than Amazon. The reason why I don’t put on Amazon is because of the tedious process (call me lazy) and the low royalty rates. Yes, the book might sell more copies on Amazon, but I prefer to use a platform I have full control over (price, format, and earnings).

Have I made a lot of money from those five titles? No, and it doesn’t matter… because I’m still writing.

I believe the reason why I don’t make much money from my books is because of poor marketing. I had a marketing module in university, but the 4p’s of marketing is a surface level skill. I fail at promotion because the only platforms I have for promotion is here on this blog and on my social networking accounts. Even here/there, I don’t expect great responses. And that’s how it is as an indie author.

I have been doing this for five years, and only a year ago did I attempt to try a new form of publishing: crowd-funded publishing. Last year, I learnt so much from the production of The Battle for Oz through a successful crowd-funded project. I had no idea how tedious the full process of editing was! But just like self-publishing, crowd-funded publishing is not for everyone.

The truth about self-publishing is this: it takes work and you might not earn the money you deserve from all the work. But you have full control and you get to see it come to life. Knowing this, I’m favouring crowd-funded publishing so much more, but that itself is a different ball game.

If you’re wondering which route to take, I suggest you first ask yourself what your writing goal is. Why do you write? And base on your answer, see which route best suits you. I chose self-publishing and going indie because I want to share as many stories with the world. I’m fine dying as an unknown writer, as long as I’ve inspired a few lives with my work. But to some, this is not something they want. And there’s nothing wrong with that, because we all have different writing goals. What’s important is you do what works best for you.

So there you have it, my experience in self-publishing. It’s pretty general as I still have a lot to learn. I’m not sure if I would continue on this self-publishing route or plant myself solely in crowd-funded publishing, but no matter which path I take, I still have a lot to learn. This is the best I can share with you at this point of time, and I hope it helps 🙂

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If there is something you would like me to share, leave a comment below!

Zoey has also asked about my writing process and if you’re keen about the same topic, let me know. Like I said in my A New Year, A New Journey post, this is going to be a different blogging year. I want to interact with you and I’m hoping to build a community of readers through this blog. Hopefully, the shift in blogging will help me in my authoring career. But even if it doesn’t, I hope it helps you, dear reader, in one way or another.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend ahead!

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2016 in Writing Journey

 

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A New Year, A New Journey

2015 has been good.

It was a year I self-published my novella, Dr. Slubgob’s Letters, and crowd-published my novel, The Battle for Oz. It was a year I started to earn royalties… for the first time in my authoring career! And a year I pulled through The Clubhouse series. 2015 was also a year I finished the first book of my first trilogy. It’s safe to say, I wrote a lot this year.

So what’s up for 2016?

Honestly, I’m not sure. I don’t know where my authoring career would go in 2016. I don’t know if there would be a 2nd print run of The Battle for Oz. I don’t know if The Slave Prince will be a success on Inkshares. And I don’t know if I should also crowd-fund the first book of my trilogy. But what I do know is the change I want to incorporate on this blog.

Blogging in 2015 was slow. The growth in readership wasn’t large. But that isn’t what’s bothering me. To be honest, the interaction with you is what I’ve missed throughout 2015. So for 2016, I intend to change things up.

Being that The Clubhouse series has to finish (as I don’t like leaving stories hanging), I’ll be posting a new chapter every fortnightly in 2016. In the weeks in between those chapters, I’ll either post short stories, talk about my experiences, voice opinions, and maybe share personal tips and tricks – all under the sun of writing and fiction. I hope that this variety will get you responding again. I won’t deny, it’s been lonely having no one to talk to. And I’ve thoroughly missed you.

Do I sound like a clingy ex? We haven’t broken up yet, have we? Oh, no, we haven’t. If you’re still here, we haven’t. So let’s rekindle this love affair. If you have any topics you’d like me to cover, do let me know. Having a livelier blog is my goal for 2016. Speak up if you have something to say, I’m all ears! If you don’t like commenting, because it’s not your thing, my inbox is always open to emails and I check it everyday.

With that being said, I just want to add a thank you for your faithful following of my blog. I know I didn’t do much in 2015, but I’ll make sure 2016 is better. Thank you for staying on board in this slow current and thank you for the constant support. Please remain seated because the ride isn’t over.

Cheers to a Happy New Year, my dear reader. May your 2016 be filled with lots of adventure and fantastical experiences. I hope it would be a great year for you, as I hope it would also be for me. Let’s have a memorable year together! *cue imaginary fireworks*

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2015 in Others

 

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Dr. Slubgob’s Letters

Slubgob

The fireplace crackled softly in his quiet mahogany themed office. He had just returned from a class graduation ceremony and he was too lazy to move from his chair behind the desk, even if he was starting to get a chill from the lack of heat in the room.

He often blamed his age for his inability to stay on his feet for long hours, but it was simply a lame excuse. The fact was, Slubgob had grown to be rather sluggish after his retirement and it was not a trait to be celebrated, unlike his apathetic personality. Nobody could blame him though, for he had nothing else better to do these days. He was filled with head knowledge and the lack of fieldwork left him reading old dusty books to kill time.

Having surrounded himself only with books, Slubgob was rather surprised when he received the invitation to the graduation at Tempters’ Training College for Young Demons. He actually thought the invite was out of respect. But when he found his seat three rows from the stage, among the bored, agitated and noisy parents, Slubgob knew he was there to be made fun of. Makallous, the newly appointed principle, had invited him just so he could whisper among his fellow subordinates of how the ‘old one’ had finally left his glory days to rot in an office.

When Slubgob realised the childish plot, he decided to keep his ego and remained seated throughout the ceremony. He didn’t want to give Makallous anymore joy in seeing him leave.

Joy, what do any of us know about joy, Slubgob thought.

Finally finding himself so close to a sneeze, Slubgob hurried to the fireplace and added more wood. The temperature was fluctuating these days and Slubgob could only suspect more victories from the enemy. He hoped their father below had not suspected the change, for if he did, they would all be in trouble. Though none of them would end up taking a beating as bad as Makallous.

The imagery of Makallous being punished made Slubgob smile. Why would Slubgob be in trouble when he did nothing, nothing at all?

This sedentary lifestyle isn’t so bad after all, Slubgob concluded silently, returning to his desk.

As he reclined in his chair, ready to catch a shuteye, he noticed a letter sitting on top of his stack of reread books. Scribbled on the brown envelope was his name and when he turned it over, he saw no seal or name of whom it was from.

Slowly taking out the letter, oddly finding himself not at all interested at what it had to say, Slubgob found himself staring down at three words, so poorly written that he started to wonder if he now needed glasses.

“Please help him,” Slubgob read aloud, after a few attempts of trying to piece the alphabets together. Signed beneath the three-word letter was an initial, one he recognised all too well.

That would explain the bad handwriting, Slubgob thought.

Bledbrush was a very old friend who fell from grace. He lost both his hands after he failed a special assignment that was personally handed to him by their father below.

Perhaps he wrote the letter with his feet. The sudden flashes from his rusty imagination made Slubgob laugh.

“Oh Bledbrush, this is your job,” Slubgob said with a sigh. Slubgob did not need to guess whom the letter was referring to as he began thinking about his godson.

Bledbrush had a son named Vilefire. Vilefire was part of the graduating class that morning, and at the memory, Slubgob recalled not seeing Bledbrush among the group of parents.

Where was Bledbrush? Was he in trouble?

Bledbrush used to be a good friend, until he messed things up. The community was kind enough to accept his son, but Bledbrush was no longer welcomed at family barbeques or invited to any festive celebrations. He went from the number one Tempter to the number one outcast, and in Slubgob’s honest opinion, he deserved it.

Bledbrush was to lead his patient away from the enemy, but instead, he lost him to the enemy. That patient ended up leading an entire generation in the enemy’s ways, wasting all efforts and destroying all future chances of winning any of them back.

Pitiful… Pitiful Bledbrush. Should I help him? Slubgob asked himself.

With such a father, Vilefire had no choice but to fend for himself. Forced to make up for his father’s abhorrent reputation, the boy could definitely use Slubgob’s help.

“That’s a poor way of asking for a favour, Bledbrush. The enemy forbid, your manners are appalling. But… I’ll help you anyway,” Slubgob said, as though speaking to someone across his desk.

Just as he had decided on that, a knock came from his office door.

“What is it Mrs Gregious?” Slubgob asked, slightly annoyed at the disturbance. His caretaker knew better than to disturb him at any time of the day.

“I have a letter for you, sir,” Mrs Gregious said, as she opened the door and hurried to his desk to hand him the letter.

“Another one?” Slubgob was surprised at the amount of attention he was getting that day.

Mrs Gregious nodded and left without saying another word.

Not hesitating, Slubgob tore the letter open and read.

Dr. Slubgob,

This is to inform you of the disappearance of former Tempter Bledbrush.

If you have any information on his whereabouts, you are to report immediately.

Demons who withhold information will not be spared.

Signed,

Dartloath

(Captain of the H. G Security)

“Ah. Well done Bledbrush, you angered our father below. You should think twice about making it a hobby,” Slubgob said, as he shook his head in disappointment.

That explained the letter from Bledbrush, and Slubgob was glad that Bledbrush’s letter was just that. Anything more would get him in trouble.

Contemplating on what to do next, he decided to give Dartloath a call. If Mrs Gregious decided to speak about the mysterious letter he received earlier, he would not be able to have a day without the Hell’s Ground Security knocking on his door. So, he decided to come clean.

That night, Slubgob invited Dartloath over for dinner. Dartloath was not as old as he was, but the towering demon was well into his age. He also had a scar on his right eye, making it the eye no one dared to look into.

“Doctor, I know you are one with little friends and surely I am not one of them. What is the reason for this dinner?” Dartloath said, just as he emptied his glass of wine.

“You have enjoyed my food and now you fear not in jumping into questions and reasons. I respect the thickness of your skull, Dartloath.”

“I waste no time. I am a busy one.”

“Of course. Well, earlier today I received a letter from Bledbrush, he-”

“Does it say where he is?”

“No. He simply asked me to look after his son, who happens to be my godson. But, I think I do know where he is.”

“You do?”

“Yes.”

“What are you waiting for? An invitation to dinner at my house instead?” Dartloath did not like waiting, it seemed.

“Tell me this first, what are you planning to do with Vilefire?” Slubgob replied, as he took another bite at his red meat.

“We’re keeping him under surveillance. Bledbrush might attempt to contact him and vice versa. We-”

“Now, tell me what Bledbrush did that made him run,” Slubgob interrupted, completely ignoring the steam that was rising from Dartloath’s head. Literally.

“It’s confidential. Our father below gave orders not to disclose any information on Bledbrush’s offense.”

“How interesting.”

“So, where is he?” Dartloath snapped.

“Well, since Bledbrush is not down here, he must be up there, frolicking with our fellow patients,” Slubgob replied with a smile.

“Do you think this is funny, old one?”

“No. I’ve simply told you all I know. Now if you would excuse me-”

“Where’s the letter from Bledbrush? I want to see it,” Dartloath interrupted him this time.

“You won’t be able to read it. He writes with his toes now that he has no hands,” Slubgob casually replied as he got up from his seat. “Just take my word for it. I called you here, didn’t I?”

“I’m not sure what your reason is for such an invite. You know, it is true what they say, a lonely, bored old one is what you are,” Dartloath replied without hiding his spite. As he stood up, he tugged his suit and left without even thanking Slubgob for the delicious meal.

Not taking any offense, Slubgob returned to his office and decided to write a letter to Vilefire. With a mystery as such, he foresaw less idle days in his office and it excited him. Slubgob could also put his knowledge to the test and do a real field task at last. If it got him in trouble, he could always pretend to be senile.

Pulling out his favourite fountain pen from his desk’s drawer, Slubgob stared briefly at the flickering shadows that dominated his office before he began to write.

Dear Vilefire,

You are probably wondering why I am writing to you. To be honest, your father sent me a letter asking me to help you. I suspect it could mean to help you in your new assignment, but it could also be a plea to keep you from harm’s way, now that he has fallen from grace again.

I know I have not been a very good godfather to you, but I am not one to build relationships. As you might have heard from your lecturers in college, or even your fellow classmates, I am as unfriendly as an alligator and as cold as a snake.

Oddly, I find myself writing a letter to you, hoping to do your father one last favour. He was once a good friend and a good Tempter, and you would do well not to forget that.

Of course, I will not barge my way into your mediocre life, but if you would like my assistance, I am sure to have more head knowledge than anyone you have met.

Write back to me once you have decided. There is no rush, only the time wasted to do great things for our father below.

Your willing Godfather,

Dr. Slubgob

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

You have just read Chapter 1 of Dr. Slubgob’s Letters. Want more? Grab the entire novella HERE!

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2015 in Book Teasers

 

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The Devil’s In Town

As promised, a new book has finally clawed its way onto my digital bookshelf. I now present to you, Dr. Slubgob’s Letters!

Dr Slubgob

When a demon flees, a favour is requested, and the hunt begins, the truth becomes the only answer. 

After the disappearance of former Tempter Bledbrush, Dr. Slubgob receives a letter of plea to guide Bledbrush’s son, Vilefire, in his new assignment. But that short letter stirs up curiosity in the old demon’s soul and his quest to find the truth of Bledbrush’s disappearance begins.

Set in the world of The Screwtape Letters written by C.S Lewis, get ready to dip into the boiling waters of hell and uncover the fate of these fallen angels.

Sounds interesting? You can grab the e-book HERE at 1.99$.

If you’re one of the first few to read this post, then you’re in for a treat. I’ll be giving away 10 free copies using the code: devilsadvocate. The first 10 to use it will get a 100% discount off the book. So be quick!

Aside from that, I would like to give a shout out to Jason Lee. He is a graphic and motion graphic designer and he designed this book’s cover. Click on his name to check out his portfolio. Should you need his expertise, be sure to tell him I sent you 🙂

That’s all for now. I hope you enjoy this new novella! If you would like to leave a review, you can do so on its Goodreads page. Happy reading!

*Dr Slubgob’s Letter was initially a blog series that ran on this blog in 2013. After much editing, it is now in the form of a book. 

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2015 in Original Works

 

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6500 & A New Book

6500

When was the last time I did a thank you post? I think it was during the 5000’s. I decided not to write these posts so frequently, not because I’m not grateful for having you around, but because I don’t want to water down my gratitude. Hence, I have decided to say thank you every 500 new subscribers. So, here I am again!

A big thank you to all 6500 readers of my blog! Thank you for paying my blog a visit, reading my stories, liking and commenting on them, and for spending your precious time on my little space on the internet. The daily growth of my blog is a huge encouragement. Having you say you enjoy my stories, whether new or old, whether original or fanfic, really makes my day. Thank you so much for being my reader and I hope you will continue to support me as I tread the waters of this big ocean of writers.

Thank you!

Now apart from my little gratitude segment, I would also like to announce that I will be releasing a new book in May. No, this is not The Battle For Oz, but another spin off.

If you have been following me since 2013, you would have remembered the blog series called Dr. Slubgob’s Letters. It was written based off C. S Lewis’ book, Screwtape Letters. This year, I was happy to discover that C. S Lewis officially entered the public domain. Which means, I can now self-publish Dr. Slubgob’s Letters!

Of course, my writing style has changed since 2013. So, I’m spending a lot of time editing, editing, and editing this piece of work. Once I’m done, I’ll convert it into a novella. I also have a graphic designer friend working on the book cover. The moment both parts of the book are ready, I’ll put it for sale. Don’t worry, there will also be a giveaway.

The reason why I decided to ‘re-publish’ Dr. Slubgob’s Letters is because The Battle For Oz is still in the process of publication. It has just completed the editing stage and will take a while before it hits the shelves. I wanted to give you something else to read before that book is published.

My plans for my unpublished works has changed since The Battle For Oz was successfully crowd-funded. I might even crowd-fund another novel in the future but for now, I’m just going with the flow. I hope The Battle For Oz will propel me forward as an author and give me a chance to play with the big boys soon. So, if you’re interested in checking the book out, please do so. It’s on Inkshares, Amazon, and a few other online bookstores if you would like to pre-order it.

791 copies have been pre-ordered so far – only 209 before I hit the 1k mark! Would you lend a hand? It’s a milestone I have yet to achieve 🙂

Anyway, there will be more news to come as time goes by. For now, know that I’m releasing a novella soon. I don’t want to write a short story out of this, so I’ll end it here. Once again, thank you so much for your support and readership. I really appreciate it. I hope you have a good weekend and continue to stay awesome!

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2015 in Others

 

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Writing & Milestones

writingandmilestones

I’ve recently been posting ‘thank you’ posts at very random milestones, but I’ll be setting it straight soon.

Anyway, since we’re on this topic, I just want to say thank you to all 5,690 subscribers! It’s nice to know that even though I’ve completely moved out of fan fiction and started my own blog series, new readers are still coming on board. Thank you for that! I really appreciate the support. I’m not a great writer, but I certainly have great readers 🙂

Now, on to random updates…

#1 The Battle For Oz Project

Exitium CoverThe crowd-funding project is currently at the 58% mark and I have 37 days left to complete the funding. Do you think I can do it? Could this finally be my big break? For one, I surely can’t do it without you!

So if you feel like spreading the cheer this season by giving a passionate dreamer an early Christmas gift (or birthday gift cause my birthday is just around the corner, tee hee), do head to the project page and pre-order a copy of the novel. Your support will leave a ripple in my life and I would greatly appreciate it.

*If you don’t know what this project is about, the project page will fill you in. Just spare me an extra 5 minutes and give it a read.

#2 The Clubhouse

How has it been for you? It gets better, I promise. The beginning is a little slow as I myself have very little control over how the story evolves, but I do hope to include some interesting twists along the way. Honestly, it has not been easy writing those chapters but I’m glad you still read them and vote every week.

I can only gauge the number of readers based on the votes, and though it may only be a few, I’ll still keep it up. The goal of The Clubhouse is for me to practice character development and I’m just happy you’re tagging along 🙂 Besides, once I start something I make sure to finish it. No one likes it when a TV series gets cancelled halfway, am I right?

If you have any suggestion for the series, do let me know. The comments on those chapters are scarce and I could really use some feedback.

#3 New Books In 2015

Or at least I hope it will be 🙂

I have plans to release a bunch of new books next year. If The Battle For Oz project is a success, I might have the chance to use the profit from that book to publish my other books in paperback too!

Currently, I have a few books just waiting to hit the market. How far these books can go really boils down to the success of The Battle For Oz. So echoing what I’ve said earlier, please check out the crowd-funding project.

Books I plan to publish in 2015:
– The Slave Prince (Novel)
– Dr Slubgob’s Letters (Novella)
– Love Tank (Novelette)
– AND of course, The Battle For Oz (Novel)

#4 Thank You Again

To end, I just want to say thank you once again. I’ve come a long way as a writer and perhaps I still have a long journey ahead, but your support has helped me push forward. I honestly do not know if I would make it one day, but having readers like you remind me that I can. Thank you for simply being here. I hope you will continue to stick around, even if the only success I have as a writer is this blog 🙂

Thanks for being awesome and have a good weekend!

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2014 in Others

 

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