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Real Life Struggles Of An Author

Often times, the struggle isn’t writing a book. Often times, the struggle is being an author who needs to write a book. I don’t really have a choice–writing is a part of who I am and I just need to do it. It’s a love-hate relationship. And unfortunately, this is where the struggle begins.

If you’re an author, I’m pretty sure you can relate with some of my struggles. If you’re not, here’s an insight to the tug-of-war between me and myself. These struggles make writing both enjoyable and dreadful. Yes, I know it sounds strange. The practise of writing is often like having a sibling you fight with but still love. It’s like owning an old car that keeps breaking down but you can’t sell it off. It’s something or someone you’re stuck with for life–something or someone you don’t necessarily like being around, but you’re too attached with to let go. And thus why the struggle is real.

So, ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to…

#1 Wait, what’s going on? I think I forgot something. Did I spell his name correctly? Was it fourteen or fifteen feet? Which chapter was it that I mentioned her age? Why on earth didn’t I note any of these down?

#2 I’d rather stare at a wall than do any form of writing today. Heck, cleaning the house sounds so much more fun. Should I volunteer to do all the chores? Yes, yes I should– I’ll do anything but write today.

#3 This wasn’t part of the plan, but OK. I’ll just run with it. It seems to be going somewhere better. It’s not like it matters anyway–the time I spent trying to plot the whole thing. Wait, does this mean… Does a story actually write itself? Did I just…. unlock a philosophical thought that I should totally blog about?

#4 The ending is going to be so awesome. I can see it in my head. It’s so freaking cool! I’m so tempted to write it now. I just need to write another ten chapters first though. Ten… not so cool… I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing chapters.

#5 Why did I even start? Why did I think this was a good idea? Why was I so ambitious? Was I even in the right state of mind? I actually have to finish this now. I have to put another idea on hold for a story I’m no longer as passionate about as when I first started. What was I thinking?

#6 Google, ‘types of eye shapes’. Google, ‘shades of blue’. Google, ‘east Europeans’. Google, ‘name of skin colours’. Google, ‘the different parts of a merchant ship’. Google, ‘medieval commoner clothing’. Google, ‘what is ‘magic’ in Latin’. Google, ‘pariah definition’. Google, ‘best TV series to binge watch’.

#7 I’m tired. I should go to bed. But wait, why do I have this sudden urge to write? Why now–when I’m brushing my teeth? Why couldn’t this strange, uncontrollable desire come when I was bored out of my mind five hours ago? What is wrong with me? I’m going to sleep.

Indeed, the struggle is real. Out of these seven points, how many can you relate with? And, if you’re a creative of another form, do you face similar struggles? Or, are your struggles a little different?

I’d love to know the challenges you face in your craft, so list your struggles in the comment section below. Let’s share our love-hate relationship with our passion. Sometimes, admitting that it sucks–being aware that it isn’t always rainbows and sunshine–helps us to keep our end goal in sight. And that’s important–in the pursuit of our dreams, we should never lose sight of the finish line.

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Posted by on July 19, 2018 in Original Works

 

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So, What’s Next?

Recently, I’ve been asked this particular question by almost everyone I meet, “What’s next? Are you writing another book?” So to answer everyone else, who may have this question in mind, I thought to share my response here.

The next, after The Slave Prince, is the Raindrops trilogy.

Or, at least, I hope it remains as a trilogy and not become a series. Why? Because trilogies and series aren’t really my thing. I’ve discovered, through writing Book 2, that writing a trilogy is quite a challenge for me. As Book 1 was completed–sent to beta readers–in April 2016, a handful of story facts have gotten lost in time. I’ve misspelled some of the not-so-important character names, I’ve confused certain plot lines, and… I’ve forgotten how some of the places actually looked like. I had to reread Book 1 before writing Book 2. And yet, even after doing so, I’m still making mistakes!

When I think about it, a trilogy is just a really long book. It shouldn’t be too difficult to remember what I, myself, have concocted. Alas, I’m better suited writing standalones of 60k to 70k words–my sweet spot. And funnily enough, I’ve only just learned this fun fact about myself. However, I am going to complete this trilogy. With Book 1 done, how can I not write Book 2? It would be silly to stop a story when I’m this far in. I just have to tough it out and get it done–you have no idea how many times I’ve coaxed myself to keep going. Why did I even think writing a trilogy was a good idea? This writer, right here, had no idea what she had gotten herself into.

With that said, I plan to pitch Book 1 to agents once I finish the first draft of Book 2–it should be done by this year despite the turtle pace. I also plan to spend a good amount of time next year rewriting Book 2. Honestly, that is about it with my plans. All I can do as a writer is to keep writing–to keep running the race. I don’t know what will happen along the way. I might not find a publisher even after I’ve completed the entire trilogy. Or, I may land a publishing deal next year. Anything or nothing can happen. But, I do know what’s next.

For me, it will always be the next word, the next sentence, the next chapter, and the next book. It’ll always be one story after another. Despite how tiring it may be or how unmotivated I sometimes feel, I’ll keep writing. Stopping midway in this journey is, and never will be, an option.

PS, if you’re curious what Raindrops Book 1 is about, let’s just say it follows the tale of a teenage king in search of his father who many believe to be dead. With the magic in raindrops, this youthful king leaves home to travel to other realms. From the hazardous trip behind enemy lines to the festive East Asian-esque Meihua; from the kingdom hovering above the clouds to the military-driven Bevattna; from the heterogeneous society of a tunneled realm to his duel with the heir of Tentazoa, every step in his adventure uncovers a gem of his past, present, and future. And in one foresight, this young king learns the daunting fate of his own realm. That… is all I can say. Hopefully, you’ll get to read this book one day.

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2018 in Writing Journey

 

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Moonlight Pavilion [12 Genre Months]

As the sky faded from bright blue to pale grey, I hurried to the well in the servant quarters. It had been filled most of the way with cement, topped with a wooden lid. Despite the narrow enclosure, there was enough room. So, I closed myself in and waited–I waited until my watch ticked twelve. And when the two beeps broke silence, I hastily climbed out into the peaceful night.

The ancient palace grounds were different under the starry sky. A mist had settled, the crickets and owls were now awake, and the trees rustled in the cool midnight breeze. There was also something magical in the air, stirring an emotion that sent my heart racing with excitement. Sneaking into a wide pathway, I hesitated not to set my imagination free. For where I stood had taken on a new life–one so real that I found myself startled when a maidservant ran right past me.

She wore a plain white dress, embracing a china vase in her arms. Night shadowed her face, but I knew she was in trouble. Unfortunately, right when I planned to follow her, I spotted two palace guards. They were armed with sharpened blades and stern, unfriendly faces. In fear of being caught, I slipped behind a bush. But when the guards finally strolled out of sight, so was the maidservant. Sighing at the missed opportunity, I headed to the royal garden instead.

The royal garden was a masterpiece at nightfall. Lanterns hung from towering trees, lighting the crystal clear ponds. Lotus flowers floated on the surface of the glistening waters as the fishes beneath rippled the reflection of the moon. I planted myself by the water, listening to a frog croaking in sync with a hooting owl. But halfway through their duet, another joined in. It was a humming of some sort. And oddly, I became determined to find it.

Far from the realm of humans, nature breathed with a passion. The humming grew louder as I followed a narrow path, winding through the timberland. There was an absence of lanterns along the descending route, but the buzzing lights from a million fireflies brought heaven to earth. They guided me until I reached the end of my journey, where a large lake said ‘hello’.

The lake was like any other lake, except for the lonely structure in its center. With red pillars, adorned with paper lanterns at the four corners of the concave roof, the pavilion nestled within the full moon’s reflection. It wasn’t barren, but bore a low table homing parchment paper, paintbrushes, and a tea set. There was also a man, who stood when he saw me nearing his safe haven.

“Who are you?” he asked, as he strolled to the entrance of the pavilion. He donned a silky blue robe with a golden, dragon-embroidered crest on his chest.

“I’m… not supposed to be here,” I replied.

“Clearly.” The stranger eyed me from head-to-toe. Then, with a strange question, he asked, “Are you real?”

Frowning, I asked in return, “Are you real?”

He chuckled and waved me over. After a second of hesitation, I crossed a series of large rocks that made the pathway. And when I finally came face-to-face with the young man, he prompted, “What’s your name?”

“Rose. What’s yours?”

“Sun,” he answered, as he returned to the low table.

“Sun?”

Sun gestured for me to take a seat across from him. “Tell me about yourself, Rose,” he said.

“Myself?” Shouldn’t I be asking the questions? Nevertheless, I replied, “Well, I’ve been travelling a lot recently–exploring one country after another in search of a story. My publisher has been pushing me for a new book, and… I think I might’ve just found a tale worth telling.”

You’re a writer?” he asked.

“I write stories–fictional ones.”

“I’m a poet,” he said. “So, how long have you been travelling? Where have you been?”

“I’ve only been to a few countries in the past month.”

“In the past month? But how?” Sun seemed eager to know.

“By flying, I-”

“You can fly?” Sun asked in childlike amazement.

“No. I take an airplane–a vehicle with wings.”

“A dragon?”

“I guess… you can call it that.” I chuckled. “How about you, Sun? Tell me about you,” I said.

“Ah, well, I’m not really a poet by profession,” he confessed. “I’m, well, a prince–recently made crown prince, and conveniently betrothed to a princess.”

“Congratulations.”

Sun laughed. “Thank you. I’m not exactly excited, but thanks.”

“Being a king isn’t what you want?”

“I want to be a poet. I don’t want to rule or marry a princess I barely know.”

“Sorry. I wish I could help,” I said.

Sun heaved a sigh. There was a brief moment of silence, before he changed the topic. “Do you know what this pavilion is called?”

I shrugged, turning my attention to the unique structure–spreading across the ceiling was a swirling painting of the starry night sky, and sweeping across the floor were pastel koi fishes and blooming lotuses.

“I call it, Moonlight Pavilion. I had it built a year ago as a place to escape reality.”

“Moonlight Pavilion,” I echoed.

“Do you like the name?”

“It’s a nice name.”

We admired the pavilion for a few good minutes. A gentle breeze now settled in the air, and despite having more questions, neither of us said a word–Sun returned to his writing while I sat watching. Strangely, as the minutes ticked by, I slowly drifted to sleep. And, the last thing I heard–in the midst of nature’s symphony–was a question.

When my eyes reopened, day had arrived. I found myself on the floor of an old, abandoned pavilion–parts of the roof had caved in, allowing streaks of sunlight to bask upon my face. Reality has always been vastly different–the lake had dried up, the rocky pathway were missing a few steps, and what was a comforting escape in my head had become a dead and hazardous place. There was no wonder why the area was restricted.

Not wanting to linger on the forsaken ground any longer, I trekked my way back to the main path. Once on permitted soil, I spotted the earliest tour group ahead of me. Quickly joining them, I was certain I could get out uncaught.

As the group shuffled along, the tour guide announced, “Right behind us is a trail to the Moonlight Pavilion. It was built by the twenty-fifth crown prince, who later renamed the structure to Rose Pavilion.”

“Rose?” I muttered under my breath. Wait, was my sanity in question? I couldn’t recall that fact from the time I read the visitor’s brochure. In that instant, I knew my answer to his lingering question. Whether it proved me sane or mad, I knew what I had to do.

“Will you come back, Rose?” he asked.

“It seems… I have to.”

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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 June 14, 2018 in Original Works

 

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This Story Begins In 2005 [#TRUESTORY]

I scrolled through my blog recently and realised that I don’t share enough personal stories. I do address certain topics based on experience, but nothing from, ‘hey, I was once an annoying kid,’ to, ‘wow, I said the cringiest things on Facebook.’ So today, I thought, let me share a #truestory.

This story begins in 2005. It was during those formative years in secondary school that I began exploring other forms of writing aside from short stories. I would write scripts for my school’s drama competitions, and I would write poetry–a whole lot of poetry. I thought I wasn’t good at short stories because I never won any writing competitions. So, I tried poetry instead. But even then–churning out both story-based and self-reflective pieces–I knew nothing about the rules and the mechanics of this art. I just wrote. And whenever I wrote, I would submit my poems to a local newspaper in hopes of being featured in their Wednesday student column.

Then 2007 rolled around. It was my final year in secondary school and I experienced the loss of two family members in a single week. My maternal grandfather passed away a few days prior to my paternal aunt. I wasn’t close to either of them as I can’t speak mandarin or hokkien–two of the few Chinese dialects in Malaysia. And, I only saw them once a year during Chinese New Year. So the loss was a strange kind of loss. I was sad–I cried when I heard about my grandfather, while I was unexpectedly called out from school–but… I didn’t know why.

At their funerals, of which I had to travel from one state to another just a few days apart, I wrote two poems. I used to carry a notebook around for when inspiration strikes, and conveniently, I had my notebook with me that week. Of course, I wouldn’t say their deaths were ‘inspiring’, but it led me to writing a piece titled, ‘Death’ and a piece titled, ‘If’. They were rather morbid pieces if I could say so myself. But it seems… I write better when in unpredictable and uncomfortable situations.

Shortly after those events, I returned to school and my carefree teenage life. Since I had two new poems, I submitted both of them to the same local newspaper. I didn’t expect anything, but twice, my friends hollered at me–after having flipped through their daily newspapers. They came into class saying, “Jeyna, you’re in the newspaper!” You see, my school allowed students a paid subscription to the daily newspaper. These students would receive their copies every morning. I wasn’t one of these students–my dad would buy the newspaper himself–and thus, I had no idea if my work was published. I had to be told, and on both occasions, the announcement from my friends and teachers were awesome surprises. Alas, it only happened twice. There was no third time, despite the dozens of poems I submitted.

Eleven years later, on May 30th 2018–coincidentally a Wednesday–I received a Facebook message from a friend with a snapshot of a different, but also local, newspaper. I knew I did an email interview. I even chose a handful of pictures to send to the journalist. But, I had no idea when the piece would be out. Being Facebook message–oh, how technology has advanced–brought back that same feeling when I discovered I was featured in 2007. This time however, almost a decade later, it wasn’t just my name. It was an almost full-page spread with my picture. Eleven years later… “Jeyna, you’re in the newspaper!”

If you’ve actually made it this far into my story, or if you follow me on Facebook and Twitter and have seen my status update itself, you might have noticed something. It took me eleven years. Eleven… long… years. Not one year, not three years, not even five years to be somewhat recognised, but eleven years. And I say ‘somewhat recognised’ because it’s only the first step. It’s a small accomplishment in comparison to the dream of having my book made into a movie. But, it’s a success nonetheless–one worth celebrating, just like the time my poems were published.

Now, if you don’t mind me asking, how many of you have been at your craft for almost a decade? If you raised your hand, let me applaud you for your tenacity and passion. Perhaps it’ll take you longer to see the fruits of your labour, but you will see it one day. You already have the drive to keep going and you shouldn’t stop. Don’t waste the years of blood, sweat, and tears. It is all worth it. Your dream is worth it. Your passion is worth it. Your story is worth it.

On the flip side, how many of you have been at your craft for less than a decade? If you’re thinking of giving up, don’t you dare! I cannot say you will achieve something in eleven years, but you shouldn’t give up just because ‘nothing’ is happening. Something is always happening when you invest in your talent. The only ‘nothing’, I dare say, is that ‘nothing’ is impossible. It might take you eleven years–it might even take you more, or perhaps less than eleven years–but nothing is impossible. Every step you take toward your dream is the first step toward something big. It’s just the start! And just like those of us, who have been chasing after the stars for many years, your dream, passion, and story are worth it–every muddy road, narrow trail, and arduous climb. After all, every path you take will eventually lead you somewhere.

This is a true story. This is my story. But this can be your story, too.

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2018 in Writing Journey

 

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Who Is Thom?

Thom was raised in a royal household. His parents were the King and Queen of Alpenwhist. For the first fifteen years of his life, Thom had everything he needed. He was granted most of what he wanted. And, he lacked (almost) nothing. He lived as a prince in a grand royal palace. He rode only stallions and dueled with the finest blades. He studied with the best scholars and ate from plates of gold. That was the life of a prince. And as a prince, he did his royal duties and acted princely whenever he made a public appearance. It was second nature to him–being a prince was all Thom knew… until he wasn’t.

Who is Thom? Is he a prince or is he not? Does he have royal blood or is he just an impostor? Who is Thom, really? Thom… is us.

He’s us when we question our identities, when we’ve lost sight of who we are, and when we have no confidence in our abilities. He’s us when we’re unsure of our decisions, when we’re afraid of the future, and when we can’t find a name to call ourselves. He’s us beyond the princely vest, farm boy hat, and beggar cloak. He’s us in, perhaps, a few phases of our lives, when we’re discouraged, doubtful, and hesitant. There’s a Thom in every one of us, and there’s us in the Thom from Alpenwhist.

Though his adventure may be different from ours, what he goes through isn’t foreign. He may not be from this world, but his emotions are reflective of our own. Thom is not a stranger nor is he a friend, but he is certainly someone we know.

Who is Thom? The better question would be, who are we?

As The Slave Prince hits bookshelves next Tuesday, I hope many of you are able to answer that question. I hope you know who you are, what your passion is, and how you want to live your life. But if you don’t know who you are, don’t lose hope. If Thom can discover his identity in such a confusing and troubling time of his life, so can you. He isn’t just a work of fiction–he’s hope that all of us, no matter where we come from and what we’re going through, have a name. We have a name not coined or dictated by others, but a name that truly reflects our inmost being even in the darkest of times. We have an identity we can be proud of–an identity uniquely our own. And when we truly find ourselves, we won’t lose sight again.

Let’s find ourselves, stay true to who we are, and face the unknowns in life unafraid and unashamed. Let’s be the heroes of our own stories, as it is… after all… our birthright.

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2018 in Writing Journey

 

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My Last Letter To Thom

Dear Thom,

Can you believe it? It has been over five years since we started–five years of telling and retelling, imagining and reimagining–and in a little over a month’s time, your story will finally be released to the world. It took us awhile, huh? Time sure flies. You’re even an adult now, and boy do we need to catch up!

So, how’s life in Daysprings? Is Daysprings still the warm and welcoming village I last remembered it to be? How’s Haratio and the girls? Tiger is all grown-up now–is she more like Seanna or Catry? How are the Eklaysians? Oh, and do you still write to Mika? Did you manage to find out who his uncle is? Even though we worked on the book last year, we never really talked about these things. I didn’t even ask about your love life! Yes, I should know. And if you don’t intend to tell me, I’ll just ask her instead. But, all these surface questions aside, how are you…really?

I’m fine–if you’re curious about me. Life in my world isn’t as magical or as adventurous as yours. I have a pretty interesting day job, which can get rather busy at times. As it eats most of my creativity, I’ve not spoken to Robb in months–he seems to be OK with that. I do plan to write the second installment of his story this year though–after your story reaches the masses. And that will be soon… very soon. Wow, isn’t that a little nerve-wrecking?

Honestly, I’m kind of nervous about what people will say about the work we’ve created. So far, the early reviewers have been kind. But… it seems not many are willing to give your tale a shot. It’s unconventional after all. Still, I think we can both agree that the number of books sold isn’t as important as the people who read your story. So let’s just hope that The Slave Prince touches lives instead. That is why we wrote it in the first place, right? And no matter what happens, we’ve done good.

With May 29th around the corner, it saddens me that our journey will soon come to an end. Even though we’ll still be friends, we won’t be seeing much of each other any longer. No more late night conversations. No more coffee breaks. We’ll part ways–recalling our history only when we gaze into a starry night sky. If it is possible, I don’t want us to be like that. But only time will tell if we can continue to work on your story. And until the unknown future comes to past, I wish you all the best in life.

May you go on more great adventures, Thom. May magic beckon you to live more heroic tales. May you never forget who you are. And may you always believe in the power within you. You’re a prince, Thom. A true prince–the Majestas Regia will always remind you of your story.

It has been a pleasure, meeting, knowing, and working with you, Thom. Let’s not forget what we’ve created together. And let’s continue to do great things until the very end.

Yours forever, Jeyna.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2018 in Writing Journey

 

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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!

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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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