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Freezing | Selfish | Shanghai

For the past forty years, I’ve been searching for the light – a radiant, almost blinding otherworldly light, that settled in the starry sky on a freezing Sunday night. I was nine when it appeared. It illuminated the moment I dashed into the cold outdoors – ignoring the hollering nurses on my tail – as I threw my gaze at the sky. With cheeks wet with tears – vision blurred in the concoction of anger and grief – I saw it. In my clouded and shattered world, it shone.

The light wasn’t man-made. It wasn’t the Christmas’ twinkling decorations, reflecting off the hospital’s glass panels. It wasn’t the glowing street lamps, nor the headlights of the passing cars. Those lights brightened the wintry evening, but were of no comfort to my broken heart. Except for the strange glow, reaching past the moon and the stars. It calmed my racing heart. It stopped the shaking of my hands. It cloaked me in overwhelming peace. And the impression it left, set me on a quest.

On the search for the brilliance of the unknown star, I ventured around the world. From the bustling city of Shanghai to the glass-like waters of Christchurch – I followed the trail of those before me. In my years of research, I’d learned I wasn’t alone – many others, from across the continents, have encountered it. So, I journeyed to where they all once stood – hoping to drown in the celestial radiance once more. But unfortunately, it has yet to shine.

The balcony where a man stood in Tokyo gave no view to the star. On camel back, along a Sahara desert trail – where a great gathering of incandescent bodies rested overhead – I didn’t catch its glimmer. Where, when, why, how – what was behind its appearance? I had no idea. I had countless questions, with no star to give me the answers. But the most unsettling of all – to those around me – wasn’t the star’s supposed existence. It was the reason for my obsession – why was I desperate to see it again?

It has come to a point where my pursuit seems selfish. It has consumed my thoughts, filled the pages of my many journals, and covered my bedroom wall. With years spent on this crusade, I’ve been told to stop – to live life like a normal human being. So perhaps it’s time I do so. Perhaps it’s time I live in the shadows of reality, embracing the hollow within. Perhaps, just like everyone else, I can embrace the turmoil of the world all by my self. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps so. But no. It’s not something I want to do. I won’t give up the light.

There’s an ethereal nature to light. The joy it brings when it brightens a tree in red, green, and yellow. The assurance it offers when it shines from the end of a dark tunnel. The warmth it produces in a deadened and cold room. The life it breathes to a broken and soulless place. Light comforts and secures. It gives sight – it gives hope. So, my dear Lector, don’t stop looking.

You’ve seen the light. And though you may not see it again, you know of the magic it holds. So don’t give up. Don’t let go of your belief. Because this world – this place we call home – is dark. It will always be dark – it will only get darker. And the only thing that can beat its darkness is light. So believe – believe and there’ll always be hope. Search and there’ll always be peace. Embrace and there’ll always be love.

Yours truly,
A Fellow Seeker Of Light

 

“He’s right,” I said, handing the delicate, moldy letter to my comrade.

“I don’t know – no one else has seen the light in centuries,” my comrade replied. “We don’t even know if this person ever found it.”

“We can’t give up. We’ve seen it.”

“We’ve seen a lot of lights this past few months.” My comrade gestured out the only window in the rented room.

Night had arrived in the foreign city. As day came to an end, its people rushed to the comforts of their homes. Vehicles streaked neon as they zoomed past. Buildings illuminated in gaudy colours. It was as bright as day, except for the darkness in the unknown below and the emptiness in the blackness above.

“Those are poor imitations of what we’ve seen,” I said.

“Imitations of what – reality?”

“Yes. What we’ve seen is real. We wouldn’t have found the letter if it isn’t.”

My comrade sighed. He retreated from the conversation and headed toward the bunk beds against the metallic wall.

“What time do we leave this godforsaken city?” my comrade asked, climbing onto the upper deck.

“Twelve noon.”

“Great. Wake me at eleven.”

“Eleven? I don’t want us to rush.”

“Rush?” My comrade chuckled. “We have plenty of time. I have a feeling… we’re going to be doing this for a while.”

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Freezing, selfish, and Shanghai were words given by Doreen. And since it’s the season of ‘lights’, I decided to steer the three words in that direction. Though, in all honesty, I didn’t see that ending coming.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words to write a piece of your own. And… if you’d like to help plan for a new year of 3 Words 1 Story, head over here to leave 3 random words of your own.

*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 December 14, 2017 in Original Works

 

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[VOTE] 3 Questions For A Better 2018

I’ve been blogging for over 6 years now and truthfully, planning for the new year is always a challenge. With every blogging year being an experiment – attempting to balance fictional stories with relatable content, while juggling day job writing and personal book projects – I’m constantly hoping each of my blog post is of value. But to be honest, I don’t know.

I don’t know if you enjoy reading my posts. I don’t know if I’m boring you more frequently than I used to. I don’t know if you simply ignore the email notifications – classifying me as one of those people you used to read but not anymore. I don’t know if my words are impacting you positively. And with a diversity of readers, I don’t know how to appeal to all of you.

Back in 2016, 3 Words 1 Story was well received. There were comments, and many of you left 3-word suggestions. But this year, the engagement has dropped. I plan to continue the challenge because it helps me with my writing, but even then… I don’t know if you would continue to read them. It’s safe to say, blogging is tricky. And planning for the new year is even trickier. So here I am, again, asking for your assistance to help device my new year plan. How? With the 3 polls below.

To be able to create better and more relatable content in 2018, I need to know you better. I need to know what kind of reader you are and the type of posts you enjoy. If you’d like to share any further thoughts, please do so by leaving me a comment or dropping me an email. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love hearing from you. Your thoughts and comments matter to me, because you matter to me. So cast your votes below!

 

 

 

Thank you for ticking off your choices! They may seem like simple questions, but your answers make a difference. If you’d love to help me further, head over and contribute to 2018’s 3 Words 1 Story challenge prompts – I could use your creativity on this one too.

P.S Don’t you just LOVE how it snows on the blog every December? I sure do!

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2017 in Others

 

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3 Words 1 Story (Season 3)

I started the 3 Words 1 Story challenge in 2016, writing a total of 10 stories from the random words you provided. This year, I continued with the challenge – I’ve written 11 stories so far, and I plan to end the year with a final piece in December. Knowing how much the writing challenge has helped me – in my creativity and skill – I intend to go for a third season. But before I enter the new year, I require your assistance.

Truthfully, there’s no fun or challenge when I give myself a writing prompt. In fact, it defeats the purpose of the writing challenge. So while I plan for a new year of blogging and storytelling, I’m rallying you – in this rather random and boring blog post – to leave a collection of three random words in the comment section below.

Here are some prompts to help you choose three random words:

1. What did you eat for dinner?
2. Look up the synonym of a common adjective.
3. If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?
4. A word you heard that you’re too lazy to Google for its definition.
5. What is one thing you’d hate to receive as a gift?
6. An obscure word you found while flipping through the dictionary.
7. The first thing you see when you look to your left.
8. A place where you can be yourself.
9. How are you feeling today?

Do you have three words in mind? Leave a comment! No, leave two comments! Or, if you’re feeling it, answer all nine questions and leave three comments! I thank you in advance for your helpful and totally ‘random’ words. Hopefully, with your assistance, there’ll be enough comments to choose 12 sets of words before 2018 begins. Then, we can run this challenge together in the coming year. That would be way more fun, don’t you think? So let’s do this!

If you’d like to read the stories in the 3 Words 1 Story challenge, you can visit its dedicated blog page. But if you prefer a ‘book’ format, head over to Wattpad – the 2016 stories were published as a collection, and the 2017 collection will be released once the final story is written.

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2017 in Others

 

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3 Reasons Why You’re Not Finding Success

You’ve been at your craft for a few years, but you still haven’t found success. You’re wondering why it is so, and you’re beginning to question the value of your work. Are you not good enough? Are you doing something wrong? Why is it so difficult to get a big break? Let me tell you why.

#1 You expect to be famous overnight.

So often we dream of becoming an overnight success. We imagine what it would be like to have a video go viral or a scout offering us a million dollar deal. We imagine what could be, and we hope for it to be true. But even though there’s nothing wrong in hoping for great things, we sometimes expect our hope to reflect in reality. And that’s when we fail.

Hoping for rain and expecting rain are two different things – both approaches result differently. Hope keeps our passion alive – it pushes us to persevere and believe in our dreams. But expectation does the opposite – it questions our efforts and discourages us from dreaming. So… you can hope to be famous overnight, but you shouldn’t expect it.

I’ve personally seen people give up on their dreams because their efforts didn’t result in their expectations. It’s disappointing and almost always annoying. Why? Because they’ve barely begun. They think that 3 years into their craft should result in success. And with that expectation, they’re relying on success to keep them motivated. But despite success being a great motivator, it shouldn’t be the only motivator. This leads me to believe they don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing.

#2 You don’t know why you’re doing what you’re doing.

It takes years to find success. I wrote my first novel almost 7 years ago, and I still haven’t found ‘success’. I’m not a millionaire. My recent publishing deals are the result of hustling my personal network. And there’s no way I can survive (let alone feed myself) by merely writing fiction. But, I know why I’m doing what I’m doing. I even wrote a blog post on why I write.

The purpose of my writing is my motivation. I don’t need overnight success. I hope for it, but I’m at peace with the thought of never being famous. It doesn’t bother me, nor does it challenge my efforts, when my hope doesn’t reflect my reality. And I can say all this because my reason redefines my success. Success isn’t fame and money – ‘success’ is something else.

#3 You don’t define your ‘success’.

If you live by the world’s definition of success, which is often money, power, and fame, you may never find it. But if you redefine success to complement your purpose – in life and in your craft – you will find it. And hey, if you wish to keep the world’s definition, by all means do so. But don’t aim for success without knowing your reason. It is your purpose that’ll lead you, motivate you, and bring about the success you hope for.

By default, finding success isn’t difficult. It’s our perspective that makes the quest a challenge. It’s our expectation that makes it ‘one step forward and two steps back’. But if we hope for it and persevere with a purpose, we will find it. It may not be in the form of money and fame, but it’ll be the kind of success that is meaningful, valuable, and personal to us.

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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The ‘Numbers’ On Your Creative Passions [Statistics]

According to statista.com

the revenue of eBooks in 2022 will be 13.5 million US dollars. In five years, there’ll be a 2.3% revenue growth. This means the digital publishing industry will continue to expand, and that you should start publishing digitally. It’s the only way to succeed.

the rock genre holds 14.3% share of music album consumption in the US. It is followed by pop and country at 13.4% respectively. This means that rock, pop, and country are the most popular genres, and that you should change your music direction to include them. It’s the only way to succeed.

the most popular film genre in the UK is documentary. Animation and fantasy rank last on the list. This means that there’s little viewership for animated and fantasy films in the UK. So if you’re a UK filmmaker, you should start making documentaries. It’s the only way to succeed.

the top selling video game genres in the US are shooter at 27.5% and action at 22.5%. These fast-paced games make up 50% of the video game market. This means that other genres – role-playing, strategy, adventure, and racing – aren’t as salable, and that you should stop developing click-based adventure games. It’s the only way to succeed.

the leading countries in art auction sales in 2016 are the US (582 million US dollars), UK (399 million US dollars), and China (362 million US dollars). France comes in fourth at only 41 million US dollars. This means that art outside of these countries do not auction at high prices, and that you should reconsider pursuing art if you don’t reside in any of them. It’s the only way to succeed.

the percentage of people who’ve never been to the theater, opera, or playhouse in Germany is 57%. Only 39% occasionally visit, and the remaining 4% are regular attendees. This means that performing arts isn’t a growing culture in Germany. So if you’re in Germany, you should pursue a more lucrative career. It’s the only way to succeed.

the percentage of adults in England who dance ballet is 0.6%. Those in the circus, 1.2%. Those who write poetry, 3.1%. Those who craft (calligraphy, pottery, jewellery making), 4.4%. If you do any of these, you’re in the minority. What benefit is there being in the minority? Do something everyone else does. It’s the only way to succeed.

While reading the above, did you shake your head in disagreement? Is it safe to assume you disagreed with the deductions made from these statistics? If you didn’t at first, you probably did at the end. But if you think any of these claims are viable, therein lies the problem.

You see, there’s no ‘only way to succeed’. If you believe in the ‘only way to succeed’, you will not succeed. Statistics and research articles are great, but they shouldn’t determine your direction in life. Sure, one thing sells better than the other. Conveniently, some countries perform better than others. But ultimately, it is your passion that matters.

Don’t put a number on your passion. Don’t box yourself with facts. So what, if your creative passion is least likely to succeed? So what, if you don’t come from a first world country? At the end of the day, you determine your success. We may live in a world where some are more privileged than others, but having a passion is a privilege in itself. And if you have the privilege to dream, don’t allow your environment to rob you of it.

Forget the numbers. Dream big. Pursue your passion. And succeed against all odds.

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Nightmare | Lantern | Murder

The three-headed monstrosity, with emerald green scales, wide bat-like wings, thick murderous whipping tail, and six pairs of black beady eyes, rose from its slumber. It shattered the still night – bursting through the glistening waters into the starry canvas above. Screeching in fury, it lowered its gaze at the sailing party that boldly awakened it.

“What do we do?”

“Cast the invisibility spell!”

“What? We didn’t summon it to hide.”

Beep, beep, beep.

“Use the lightning spell!”

Beep, beep, beep.

“Whose is that?” I asked.

Beep, beep, beep.

“It’s mine. Sorry guys, we have to end the game.”

“You gotta be kidding me.”

“I’m sorry. You know how my parents are like.”

I peered out the window of our wooden treehouse. The night was young – families still roamed the streets – with boisterous excitement in the air.

“The kids are still out. And your house is ten feet away,” I stated.

“It’s late. And I don’t want to die.”

“Your house is just there,” I repeated.

“I have to go.” He maneuvered past me – careful not to knock over our game pieces – toward the rope ladder. “I’ll see you guys at school, alright,” he added. And with that, he left.

“Buzzkill,” I murmured, rising to my feet.

The twins followed suit and we grudgingly descended, what we called, our ‘Adventure Fort’.

“See you guys on Monday,” I said, jogging to my bicycle.

“See you,” the twins replied in unison. “And don’t let the Jack-O-Lantern get you!” the twins added, cycling off in the opposite direction.

The murder had ruined a promising weekend. And honestly, I couldn’t understand the paranoia. People died all the time. Crazy people existed. To me, the commotion was exaggerated. Whether it was the Jack-O-Lantern or the Serial Santa, learning about another death by another killer was plain old news. I didn’t gasp, question, or cry. I was nonchalant – never a victim, but so was the majority. It baffled me that half the town wanted to cancel the weekend.

As I sped down the street, where parents ushered their children for their final ‘trick-or-treat’, I decided to ring a few doorbells. Knowing my parents didn’t mind if I stayed out late, I cycled into one, then two, and then three more driveways until my backpack brimmed with treats. After which, I headed home – it was almost midnight and my street had gone to bed.

That night, I expected nothing out of the ordinary. Strolling into my house, I shuffled straight to the dining room and emptied the contents of my backpack on the table. But it was then, I heard a noise. It was a series of thuds, alike a banging on the wall – muffled and periodic. It didn’t come from above, but below.

“Dad?” I called.

The thudding stopped. I shrugged it off and returned to separating my treats. The night was still for five minutes. Then, I heard another sound. This time, it didn’t come from below. As though something heavy was being dragged, my curiosity spurred my feet into action.

“Mum?”

I strode to the back of the house. Arriving in the kitchen, I fumbled for the light switch. But just before I made the flip, I caught sight of a figure in my backyard through a window.

The figure donned a red check shirt beneath a blue denim jumper. With a large pumpkin head resting on its shoulders, it hovered over a lifeless creature. Inching closer for a better look, the dead creature’s form came into view. It wasn’t a large animal, as I’d previously assumed – it was a person.

I gasped – hands cupped over my mouth. I didn’t know what to do. Should I run, hide, or call the police? Was the dead person one of my parents? No, it was merely a trick – an elaborate trick my father occasionally played on me. But, I hesitated. I didn’t dare to face the figure outside.

Backing away from the darkness, the kitchen lights flicked on. I jumped startled and spun toward the doorway. My heart pounded in my chest, as I stared at the person before me.

“You’re home early,” my mother said.

“It’s… it’s midnight,” I replied. Then snapping my head toward the window, I said, “There was someone outside.” Gesturing at the now vacant backyard, I stuttered, “I-I-it-it looked like the Jack-O. It wasn’t you, was it?”

“No,” my mother replied.

“We need to call the police,” I said. But just as I headed for the phone, my father stepped into my path. “Dad! Someone’s outside. You have to call the police.”

“There’s no one outside,” my father said. “I just came from outside.”

“So it was you?” I asked. Then gazing at him from head to toe, I noticed his brown-stained shoes and sweat-covered shirt. “What… what were you dragging?”

“Happy Halloween!” my father replied, with a childish grin. “I got you, didn’t I?”

“That was a trick?” I frowned – it was a horrible trick with no pay off. “But-”

“It’s late,” my mother interrupted. “You should go to bed.”

Before I could respond, my mother led me to my room. She didn’t answer any of my questions. And it became obvious. As the clocked ticked into the night, I laid still and awake in my feathered bed. I couldn’t sleep – not with the haunting sound of dragging bodies below. How many were there? I didn’t want to know. All I hoped for was day to arrive – the end of this nightmare. That’s right, it was simply a nightmare – a figment of my imagination, just like my three-headed dragon.

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Nightmare, lantern, and murder were words given by Kurotsuba. You might have noticed I drew inspiration from Stranger Things and the classic Goosebumps stories. As I didn’t have much time to work on this piece, I just went with the theme of the season. Hopefully, it isn’t too weak of a tale from being rushed.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words to write a piece of your own. The real challenge is writing out of theme. I wish I had more time to do so, but perhaps you could give it a go.

*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 October 26, 2017 in Original Works

 

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Top 5 Email Questions [About Blogging] Answered

I get emails… once in awhile. And they usually contain the same questions. So today, I’ve decided to answer them publicly! If you’ve thought of sending a similar enquiry as the ones below, you don’t have to any longer. But if you still want to drop me a ‘hello’, please do – I love hearing from you.

#1 How Do I Grow My Blog?

SS asked, “What are the ways in which I could gain more readership? I would love people to comment on my work and tell me how I’m doing.”

I answered, “My tip for gaining more readership is simple: visit other blogs, read their content, and leave a comment. The blogosphere is a community, so you have to put yourself out there. Greet others first and introduce yourself. Don’t do it just to promote your blog, but do it to make other bloggers feel ‘read’. In return, most of them will pay your blog a visit.”

This is a question I get asked a lot. In order to give a complete answer, I addressed it in a separate post awhile back. You can read it HERE.

#2 How Do I Sell ‘Stuff’ On My Blog?

LF asked, “You gave me a great idea to sell my music on my blog and I was wondering how I could do that.”

I answered, “I use a platform called Gumroad. I upload my e-books on their platform and they handle the delivery to my buyers. They only take a small cut from the sales as a fee. You can sell your music on Gumroad too.

“Being that you’re not allowed to sell anything directly on a free WordPress blog, I customised my bookshop page to look like a store. The ‘buy now’ link leads readers to Gumroad. You can do the same for your blog.”

#3 What Should A New Blogger Do?

BD asked, “Any tips for a newcomer?”

I answered, “I always tell new bloggers the same thing: be yourself, have fun, and visit other blogs in the community – that’s how you slowly build an audience.”

#4 How Does One ‘Copyright’?

DV asked, “Could you please guide me as to how I could make the site copyrighted?”

I answered, “The only copyright you can put on a blog is a copyright statement, like what I do with my posts (the copyright symbol and the year). Unfortunately, that’s as much as you can do on free blog sites.”

#5 Can I Request For Feedback?

AA, EO, AS, RR, RC, SG, and BA asked, “Would you check out my blog and let me know what you think?”

I answered, “Sure!”

I won’t turn down requests to visit your blogs. However, I will decline requests to read your novel. As I’ve been asked a few times, I’d like to explain why.

Reading a novel takes time. And giving constructive feedback takes an even longer time. Hence, I only accept beta reading requests from authors I have personal relationships with. I also only ask for beta reads from people I’m close to. I’m honoured and flattered that you’d like my feedback, but I suggest you do the same. Why? Because…
… you’ll accept blatant truth more easily from those closer to you.
… family and friends who say ‘yes’ will give 100% of their attention to your work.
… you can trust them not to steal from you – I don’t plagiarize, but you don’t know who will.

That being said, if you want me to read a post or story you’ve published on your blog, feel free to ask! I’ll be more than happy to drop by.

Hopefully, I’ve answered some of your outstanding questions. But if you have more, you can drop me an email. As I’ve mentioned, I love reading your emails. Whatever the content may be, a message from you is a gem to me. Wow, that was cheesy… it’s the truth though – I have no reason to lie.

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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