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A Royal Pain

It’s been awhile since I posted something like this. I assume you have to be famous to write such a post regularly. Alas, I’m not. But no matter the frequency, to be able to write this is a blessing. Hence, here I am – on this rare occasion – to make a public update regarding The Slave Prince. And if you supported the book during the contest, or have pre-ordered it, this will be good news.

As of this month, The Slave Prince starts production. Yes, the ball is rolling! But despite the celebration, I have my work cut out for me. Unlike The Battle for Oz, The Slave Prince is receiving extensive developmental editing. This means I’ll be rewriting and editing the content a whole lot. With the first dev letter being 14 pages long, one can assume there’d be more where it came from. So… I guess it’s time I book a room in Alpenwhist. After all, it would be a while before I leave.

Since it’s just the start of production, I’ve spent the past few days responding to the general issues present in my book. At the same time, I’ve drafted a rewrite outline to be discussed with my dev editor. Also – hoping to get the book in your hands sometime in 2018 – I’m putting the writing of the sequel to my trilogy on hold. I can’t juggle two novels at the same time. But have no fear, my blog will still be here – I’ll be posting as usual.

So with all that said, it looks like everything would be smooth sailing… right? No, I joke.

Writing and producing a book isn’t easy. You probably know this. But often times, we forget. In fact, after I’d completed my countless edits of The Slave Prince, I naively thought I was done. I heaved a sigh of relief. Then, I received my first dev letter. Then, I realised I wasn’t done. And I know, I still won’t be done once I pass developmental editing. Copyediting will include another series of rewrites and edits. It would be another season of change for the book. And when I finally let go of The Slave Prince, it would be publication day. From that day on, I can only hope my hard work pays off.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying all these to deter you from writing. You know me – I’m an advocate of chasing your dreams. My reason for sharing this is to cheer you on. It’s tough – I feel you, bro. But we can do it – we have the strength to trudge through every phase of writing. And, it will all be worth it. Whether our book sells by the millions or the mere hundreds, the act of bringing them into fruition is worth our blood, sweat, and tears. We just need to stay focused and don’t lose heart. With the finish line in sight, let’s give our very best in every leg of the race.

Now, if you’re a reader, I’d like to drop you a message too. I know not all books are great – I’ve read some pretty dreadful ones. But if you could give writers some slack, that would be wonderful. If you could be kind with your reviews, we would appreciate it. I know hard work doesn’t excuse horrible writing. And I know, you have every right to dislike and leave as many 1-star ratings as you deem fit. Personally, I’m fine with that. But, you can also be kind. Go easy on your words and encourage writers to be better. Choose to build dreams instead of tear them down. Because who knows, your 1-star review might just birth the next bestseller.

As I’ve said before, writing is a journey – there would be ups and downs, easy days and hard days, great sales and no sales, fans and haters. But, we don’t choose our craft because it’ll be smooth sailing from start to finish. We choose our craft out of passion. No matter where we are – no matter who we are, whether writer or reader – let’s live with passion. It gives us a purpose, and it makes life so much more interesting.

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2017 in Others

 

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The Art of Handling Rejection

I’ve ran two crowd-funding campaigns, pitched multiple books to publishers, and I’m now on a hunt for an agent. It’s safe to say, at this point of time, I’m immune to rejection. Really – it doesn’t elicit any response from me. In fact, it makes me happy – it’s a relief to encounter rejection. Because rejection is better than silence… and rejection means there’s one less reject in the duration of my quest. But, is there an art in handling rejection?

How does one define art – how does one grade the quality of art? Why are some pieces higher in value, while others are sold cheap in the market place? Why are splats of paint hanging in a gallery, while the strokes of a picturesque countryside are left in an attic? What determines art? Perspective – art is about perspective.

So back to the question: is there an art in handling rejection? Yes – perspective.

I like to look at rejection in the perspective of a job seeker. You see, when you’re looking for a job, you don’t expect a callback from every company you apply to. And for the few that invite you to an interview, there’s no guarantee they’d hire you. Even if you nail the tough questions, you might be rejected. Fortunately, you’re well aware of this. If you’re not, you’ll soon realise it’s reality – you’ll apply, you’ll receive a few calls, and you’ll be rejected. But, you’ll eventually find the one. And in the midst of the hunt – in need of survival – you have no time to think about your rejections. You move quickly to the next opportunity, because an opportunity matters more.

With this perspective, does a rejection really matter? Should you give it more than a second of your day? No, because there’s another opportunity waiting. And if you don’t seize that opportunity, you’ll never know if it’s the one.

Just like art, the art of handling rejection is about perspective. How much weight you give each ‘thanks, but no thanks’ is determined by its importance in your perception. If it is of little significance, you won’t be fazed. If you focus on the opportunities, you won’t linger in the past. So, how are you perceiving rejection? Are you giving it more time than you should? Are you letting it blear your future?

During both my crowd-funding campaigns, I was under 3 months of stress. I hustled everyone I knew. And the more I hustled, the more rejections I received. But despite being upset, I couldn’t dwell on each rejection. In order for The Battle for Oz and The Slave Prince to succeed, I needed to find someone who’d support me. I couldn’t waste time convincing those who wouldn’t, because I hadn’t convinced those who haven’t. Thankfully, despite rejection being a part of my journey, it didn’t change the fact that both my books were a success.

Having experienced waves of rejection, I know its value – it amounts to little when you’re desperate. It has no hold over your passion. And its presence will not affect the outcome. The only thing that rejection does is make you stronger – you’ll be bolder and more determined than before. And despite its negative connotation, experiencing it is a good thing.

Today, I embrace rejection. I’m unafraid of it’s daunting shadow, gladly welcoming it in my life. It has taught me to focus on my passion. It has made my dreams worth chasing. And the more opportunities I seek – the more rejections I face – the closer I’ll be to my goal. That’s my perception – my art… of handling rejection.

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Why Do I Write?

I am a person of few words. Well, not in writing. But I’m a person who speaks few words. I think more than I should, and I keep most of my thoughts to myself. For me, it’s difficult to articulate my thoughts without giving them thought. Hence, often times, I just don’t say them. It isn’t something I do by choice. It is who I am. So, why do I write?

I write to share a part of me. It’s safe to say that those who read my words know me better than those I’ve spoken to – that is if you’re not within my minute, trust circle. I find it easier to express myself with literal ABCs – such is the case. And taping away at the keyboard is a peaceful, freeing, and comforting activity. Perhaps such a notion is incomprehensible for the verbal. But this is why I write: to be heard.

I am a person who lives for today. But, I’m also a person who lives for tomorrow. I worry not about my future, yet I live to leave a legacy. It’s ironic, yet it isn’t. I desire to be someone whose name lives beyond the grave. This is something I do by choice. It is fuel for my passion. So, why do I write?

I write to be an inspiration. I don’t know if my words written today, or tomorrow, would make a difference. But if I can inspire one life, I’m achieving what I’ve set out to achieve. If I can move someone to chase their dreams, I’m leaving a legacy. Perhaps not an astronomical legacy, where I’d go down in history, but this is why I write: to change lives.

I am a person with worlds in my head. These worlds home characters, with great desires for an epic journey. They want me to tell them. They need me to tell them. I cannot stifle my creativity, because it simply cannot be stifled. My mind is already crowded as it is, and clearing it is something I have to do. So, why do I write?

I write to take you on an adventure. My stories will not please everyone. They could possibly bore you. And perhaps, only a handful are worth reading. As an author, I don’t know which stories are good and which stories are bad – I cannot predict a story’s success. But when there’s a story to tell, I need to tell it. I will strife to tell it. This is why I write: to breathe life into fiction.

I am a person who is far from extraordinary. I live in a third-world country, grew up in a middle-class family, went to university for a degree, and now hold a day job like the average jane. To some, it seems like I have it all. But an impression is not reality. I’m not a prodigy. I’m not the chosen one. I’m not even sure if I have talent. And this is my actuality. So, why do I write?

I write to give hope. I am a nobody. And if I can accomplish a hint of success, so can you. If I’m allowed to dream and chase my dreams, so are you. If I am persevering, so must you. I don’t know where life would take me – just like you, I’m clueless – but I’m willing to keep honing my craft. If I can see the worth of my art, so should you. This is why I write: to insist that our dreams are important, and to prove that we can.

I am a person whose journey hasn’t ended. I have a long road ahead of me. Or perhaps, a short road – only God knows. But at where I am today, I know there is much to do and much to experience. Today isn’t the end for me. Today could just be the start. In the unknown, this much I know. So, why do I write?

I write to tell my story. As long as I’m still breathing, I hope – through my story – I’m heard, I’m inspiring, I bring forth tales of wonder, and I challenge you to keep your passion alive. I hope to share what I’ve learned, to give through my words, and to leave an account worth reading. This is why I write: to be a living testimony, and to reflect the one who called me.

So, who are you? Why do you write – why do you do what you do? We all have a reason for our passion. I’ve shared mine – what is yours?

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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3 Ways To Crush A Writer’s Block

Currently, I’m working on the second book of my trilogy. And as I’m trying my best to tie up book one and prepare for book three in this middle book, I find myself struggling to keep the story exciting. In fact, closing one adventure while prepping for another has never been this difficult. Of course, I knew writing a trilogy wasn’t going to be easy. A trilogy is a huge commitment and requires more layering than stand-alone novels. However, I didn’t expect to hit a block barely midway into the series. It’s frustrating. I’m tired. But I need to get it done! So to get past this stage, I’ve been practicing 3 things. Hopefully, these 3 things would help you too… should you be in a similar predicament. After all, stuck is the worst place any writer can be in.

#1 Vocalise Ideas

Personally, I find that voicing my ideas help me generate more ideas. The more I say them out loud, the easier it is to fix and improve them. Yes, I know how talking to myself makes me look. No, I’m not crazy. In fact, I voice my daily thoughts more frequently than I should. But off late, I’ve been internalizing my ideas. I’ve been keeping them boxed, that they’ve gone stale. Realising this, I decided to give them some fresh air – bouncing them off my room wall, behind closed doors. And lo and behold, a plot twist recently hit. So, if you’re not already monologuing, I suggest you give it a go. You never know what crazy idea would come your way, simply by acting a little mad.

#2 Dive Into Similar Works

Disclaimer: I’m not promoting plagiarism. You should never copy someone’s work. But, there’s nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from others.

As my trilogy is about a young king, set in a medieval world of magic, I’ve been diving into similar works of its genre. I’ve been watching countless historical dramas, to grasp palace politics while exposing myself to old world architecture. Because I cannot travel back in time and work as a palace maid, it’s impossible for me to write a story based on my experience. Hence, the only way for me to gain perspective is to embrace the works of others’.

I seek to be inspired by parallel worlds – to see it play out before my eyes, and to live vicariously through works of fiction. And not only do these stories oil the gears of my own, I’m left thoroughly entertained too.

#3 Run Head First

I’ve probably mentioned this before. Wait, I believe I’ve mentioned it before. But, I’ll say it again: to get a story moving is to write it. A story cannot write itself and it needs us to finish it. So despite the herculean block, shadowing us from the finish line, we have to charge forward. We have to crush that block by writing the most horrendous chapters. Yes, you’ll need to rewrite them. And yes, you’ll want to weep at the horror of your own words. Trust me, I know. But thankfully, those words have been written – you can go back and fix them, because they’ve been written. So run head first. Charge at the wall. It’ll hurt, but the pain is worth the finish line.

As I strive to complete my book this year, I hope you endeavour to finish your own projects too. We’re all on the same boat, navigating the rough waves. But no matter what comes our way, we’re the authors of our stories and we have the power to bring them to an end. No block is too big for an author to overcome. And knowing this, there’s no stopping us.

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Guitar | Bittersweet | Condescending

Bittersweet – the kind I like.

“Have a piece. It’ll calm the nerves,” she said, gently pushing the box of chocolates toward me.

I hesitated. The thin pieces, wrapped in translucent plastic, inclined along the grooves of the package. I doubted it calmed the nerves, but chocolate was a luxury these days. Still, I hesitated.

“No thank you,” I replied.

“Are you worried?” she asked. “Don’t worry. We’ll be there with you.”

She gracefully strode to my side – her long, white robe trailing behind her. Hands clasped together by her waist, she gave a pleasant smile. Unfortunately, it was devoid of my needed assurance. Yes, they would all be there – the elders, as they call themselves. But these people, with their glorified title, would be standing behind me – far from any range of fire.

“I know,” I merely replied.

“Nobody will harm you,” she added. “Remember, you’re the chosen one – the son of man. You speak the truth, and the people will listen.”

Such blasphemy. How did this happen?

All I wanted was to live. And there I was, about to give the last speech of my life. I knew the odds. In this so-called revolution, there were those who’d give their lives to save the world. Some would shed their blood to protect mine, while others would shed theirs to have mine. But I wasn’t one of them – not on the ruling end, and never on the opposition. I merely sought to preserve my life. Being the chosen one was supposed to save me – at least, that was what he said.

“You have the mark. Do you know what this means?” he asked.

“It’s a scar. I fell off my bike when I was a kid.”

“Nobody’s going to ask you how you got it. They just want to believe you exist. And you do.”

“So what, you think I should be the chosen one?”

“Hell yeah. Do you actually think you’ll survive this? When they start cutting the population, you’ll be the first to go – just saying. You have no talent, you’ve not held a job for more than a month, and you’re empty, up there,” he said, poking my head.

He was my friend, yes – a friend who was, more often than not, condescending. And as his friend, I was immune to his candid vocabulary. Sadly, little can be said about others. If only he kept his mouth shut, he would still be alive.

“Imagine what you’ll have as the chosen one. They’ll put you up in a mansion. Feed you food you cannot afford, even before all this. And you know what, I’m sure if you ask them for anything, they’ll give it to you,” he added.

“And what if they find out I’m not the chosen one? What then?”

“You die. But you’re going to die anyway,” he joked.

I thought he joked. I thought he joked about everything, until they came knocking on my door.

The day after our chat, he left in the early morning, claiming he needed to fix his guitar. I didn’t find it odd. He’d been practicing Chopin’s Marche Funebre for days – I thought it natural for the instrument to finally give way. Little did I know, he’d went ahead with a plan we never discussed.

“They’re here!” he announced, hurrying to let the devil in.

I wasn’t a religious person, but I knew to not give the devil a foothold. Instantly, as those black-suited men entered my safe haven, a wave of dread swept over me. And since then, I’ve tried to stay positive. I’ve tried to survive.

When they put me through a physical exam – scrutinizing the scar on my heel – I hoped to be excused as not-the-chosen-one. I hoped they’d see how ridiculous it was to make such vague claims about the saviour. Alas, nothing went as I imagined.

When they provided me a tutor – teaching me their crooked doctrine – I prayed they would see my incompetence. I prayed someone else would declare himself God and take my place. Alas, no one had a friend as brazen as I did.

When they prepared me to be their leader – bribing me with the splendor of my supposed calling – I wished it was all a dream. I wished to wake in my dingy bedroom, free from their unyielding grasp. Alas, reality was a harsh wake-up call.

Now at the fringe of death, made to declare my own sovereignty – of which I, myself, didn’t believe in – I wanted to live. I wanted to run. Alas, I was ushered out the door, into the velvet carpeted hallway, and up a stage set before an audience. They weren’t all friendly – I could see it in their eyes. And as I cleared my throat before the single microphone, I attempted one last time to survive.

“Please,” I said. “Help me.”

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Guitar, bittersweet, and condescending were words given by lielabigail, allowing me to write another open-ended story. Don’t you just love this kind of fiction? I joke. But I won’t lie, making readers question the end makes writing so much more fun.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words to write a piece of your own. Also, if you could give me more sets of words below, we can save the world. I cannot do this writing challenge without you. So please… help me.

*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 June 15, 2017 in Original Works

 

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Creating Believable Characters

I remember the day I faced reality – the day a reviewer of The Battle for Oz said my characters were two-dimensional and un-relatable. That both Alice and Dorothy were kind of weird, and that neither grew throughout the tale. My first response was, well, defensive. But after thinking it through, I had to agree. You see, I’m no master at creating believable characters. Believe me when I say, character development is my weakest spot. And knowing this, I’ve been trying to improve. But… how?

How does one create three-dimensional characters? How do we make them relatable, and help them grow? How can our characters move readers on an intimate level?

The thing about writing is this: despite the many resources, some things have to be learned through experience. And almost literally, character development is one of those things. Literally. You can read stacks of books, but if you don’t see it – feel it – your characters will remain flat on its pages. What do I mean by that? It’ll be easier to explain by telling you what I did, and am still doing.

Are you ready? Here’s the big reveal: my secret to creating believable characters is… Well, it’s really no secret. It is, however, something we may have overlooked – something so basic – something that is of us. It is… human psychology. Yes, the understanding of the human mind. I’ve come to discover that studying and observing human behaviour is the key to creating believable characters.

I first dived into this study out of curiosity – I wanted to be able to read people for fun. As an individual with a habit of watching others, being able to interpret expressions, gestures, and speech patterns was a bonus. So, I scoured the world wide web. And from what I’ve gathered, I can now spot attraction, notice physical habits, and I’m more aware of my own thoughts and actions. But how do these skills actually help with character building? It starts with the approach.

With this insight, I approach my characters not as their author but as a friend, parent, mentor, sibling, acquaintance, rival, and passerby. I also help my characters approach others via the same state of mind. Simply put, I present characters based on how other characters perceive them. I create an impression through the eyes of others. Because in reality, that’s what we do.

Science says it takes seven seconds for us to judge a person we’re meeting for the first time. We don’t do it on purpose, but we do it anyway. The way a person speaks, stands, and expresses emotion, tells us whether we like them or not. In seven seconds, we either have a foe or an ally. In seven seconds, we either come off as awesome… or not so awesome. Just by knowing this fact, isn’t it interesting to see how your characters fair with each other?

What did Thom think of Seanna on the road to Daysprings? By presenting first impressions, characters have more depth when they prove those impressions right… or wrong. And since they’re defined by another, it is our job to help them prove themselves. Which brings us to our next question: how do we do that without spelling things out? Ironically, readers don’t want to read a character – they want to discover a character. So how do we send readers on an expedition, while providing the exact coordinates to the treasure? The answer is in body language.

I had a fun time writing Trails of the Wind, specifically the scene where the antagonist entered stage. I’d set to fill his character with habits, he himself wasn’t aware of. Right off the bat, he taunted with false guffaws, slow claps, and finger snaps. He smirked when he contradicted himself. And, he rarely failed to announce his arrival either verbally or physically. I’m pretty sure you, with your innate ability to read character, don’t like him already. And just like that, you have a grasp of his personality – not a firm grasp, but a grasp nonetheless. My goal wasn’t to present his personality intrusively, but subtly. And body language is always subtle.

Personally, understanding human behaviour has helped me in creating believable characters. As I observe, discover, and challenge, I see and feel the world differently. And from my experiences, I’m able to translate ideas into depictions. The day you grasps the very nature of us beings, is the day your characters do the same. And guess what, you don’t need a master’s degree. You just need to pay a little more attention to those around you.

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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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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