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Growing Your Audience

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

#1 Know Your Audience

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

#2 Find Your Audience

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

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

#3 Study Your Audience

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Undaunted | Corgi | Trove

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arf! Arf!

“I take that as a ‘yes’.”

Arf!

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

“We’re done, Pup,” I said.

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

“We need to find an escape,” I added.

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

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

Arf! Arf!

“No, Pup.”

Arf! Arf! Arf!

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

Arf!

“I see it! But…”

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

Arf! Pup prompted. Arf! Arf!

“I… I…”

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

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

“You just ruined my dream,” I muttered.

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

“No.”

“Then?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in Original Works

 

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100 Words, 6 Years Later

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

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

The Dreamer, 2011

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

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

Trails of the Wind, 2017

Father is alive.

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

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

Father is alive.

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Being The Best Writer

Before I begin, I want you to know that you can now grab a paperback copy of The Battle for Oz on Amazon at only $8.33. If you’ve not read my book, here’s a chance to do so at a 50% discount! Buying this book will support my authoring career, allowing me to write more stories for you. So visit HERE to grab your copy today!

So, back to the topic at hand: being the best writer.

If you’ve ever wondered how you can be the best writer, wonder no more. Here are 3 things you can do to be the best writer ever! Trust me, it works.

1. Stop Caring

This is applicable in life as it is in writing. If you want to be the best writer, you have to stop caring about what others think of you. You have to stop entertaining passing judgements. You have to accept, that as a writer, you cannot please everyone. You are you. Seeking the approval of someone who doesn’t like your work simply holds you back from moving forward. And dwelling upon a dislike only makes you self-conscious. This self-consciousness can mold an opinion into truth – which is not the truth. So stop caring about the world’s perception. Perceptions aren’t reality.

2. Find Your Purpose

Why do you write? Do you know that knowing why you write makes you more self-aware? We all have a purpose in life, and we all certainly have a purpose in writing. Knowing our purpose helps us stay true to ourselves. It drives our passion, it reflects our identity, and it reminds us to be us. Whether you write to inspire, to be read, or to share, our writing comes from a meaningful place. These meaningful, purpose-filled words make us unique. And these same words express our uniqueness.

Yes, I believe we’re all special snowflakes. As derogatory as some like to use the term, it’s the truth. There’s no one like you, and knowing who you are makes you a better writer.

3. Endeavour To Improve

If all this while you thought I was writing about being the best writer in the world, let me clarify now: you cannot be the best writer in this world. There’s a sea of writers, honing distinct voices, that it’s impossible to benchmark this skill and talent. So perhaps the better title for this post would be: Being The Best Writer You Can Be. And the only way to be the best writer you can be ever (!) is by endeavouring to improve in your craft.

Writing is a life long journey. When you choose to become a writer – out of passion – you choose to do this for as long as you live. You may not be ‘the best writer you can be’ today, but the more time and effort you put into improving yourself, you will be ‘the best writer you can be’ one day.

“Ah, well Jeyna, I know all this,” you say.

Well, so do I. I’ve said this before in my previous posts. And though I’ve not specifically written a post about it, I’ve repeated myself like a broken record. However, I publish this post today with a single goal: I want to remind, both you and myself, that we can be great writers by staying true to ourselves.

We don’t have to change to fit into a best-seller mold. We don’t need to repurpose our dreams to be accepted by readers. We just have to strive to be the best we can be. And, let’s not just practice this in writing but in life too. Because the only time we experience life at its fullest is when we experience life as ourselves.

(Not-so-random plug; I recently launched my fitness blog over at blogspot. Besides writing, fitness is also a passion of mine. If you’re into it too, I’d love to have you there as well!)

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Pink | Apocalypse | Massage

The neon pink sign flickered overhead. Its buzzing no less perturbing than the placid stray cat by the door. In fact, the sound of its malfunction was comforting. Any sound, for that matter, was comforting. Perhaps there was hope after all.

Welcome to my world. Or, shall I say, what’s left of it. Before this dreary mess, hope wasn’t a preposterous pipe-dream. There was a time where, despite the toil of survival, laughter and cheer prevailed. A time of sound, I call it. Sound of cars whizzing down the highway. Sound of steam hissing from the coffee machine. Sound of trees rustling in the evening breeze. Sound of another – breathing, moving, living. But then they all came to a stop. The world ended – the apocalypse. Sound lost its dominance, as the living that made it drew their last breaths. And the world, as we know it, became silent.

I’ve lived in this quiet – alone – for a while now. There was a time I actually enjoyed it. After the chaos ended, the absence of even the faintest noise was solace. The peace, accompanied with the ringing in my ears, chased the maleficent thoughts away. Alas, it was short-lived. Soon I wanted to hear something – the howling wind, the dripping tap, the heavy footsteps. Soon, I needed it. Unfortunately, there were none. I could make my own to fill the void – to help me keep my sanity – but they weren’t organic. They weren’t real or true. They were contrived. But just before I lost all hope, I heard it – the sliding of paper from under my apartment door. It was deafening in my muted world. Its sound and its black, slanted words, offered to feed my hunger.

So, there I was – under the sign of the dingy massage parlour embracing the buzz. I would’ve continued in my languor, but the creaking of the door broke the spell. As it opened from the inside, I saw my first human. He was a six-foot, clean-shaven man.

‘Are. You. Sure?’ he mouthed. He didn’t speak as though to deprive me further.

“Yes,” I replied.

The man nodded and gestured for me to enter. With hope, I did. Into the forsaken foyer, heavily laden with dust, I went. But inside was noone.

“Where are they?” I asked. “You said there were people.”

Shutting the only exit, the man spared no word and took the lead. I was tempted to ask once more, but I tailed him like a lost puppy instead. When we finally came to a stop, it was before another door. This time, he spoke.

“If you live, you live with us,” he said – repeating the offer on the paper.

“And what must I do to live?” I asked.

“Fight,” he replied.

The man pushed the door open, and a breath-snatching reverb hit me. It was overwhelming. My eardrums thumped. My chest tightened. And I hesitated. In the presence of my heart’s desire, I contemplated.

Ahead was a descending flight of stairs, and at its foot was a room lit in dim neon light. Rising from the unknown were disembodied voices. They shouted my name. And their calls wrapped me around their preternatural fingers. So instead of turning back, where it was bright and familiar, I shuffled down the stairs. Oh, how quickly I regretted it. The moment my feet stepped onto the solid ground, I received a nerve-shocking blow to the jaw. And just as I stumbled backward, a cheer erupted.

Where were the people? Attempting to get my bearings, I found myself in the dark. Despite the light, I could barely grasps my surroundings. Everything was a blur of swirls, alike the sky in a post-impressionist painting. What was happening? Where was I? I knew I had to fight to live – to live with these people – but how, when I couldn’t see?

“I can’t see,” I shouted.

There was no response. The cheering continued as a hand reached for me. To spare myself from another painful punch, I repeated, “I can’t see! Stop! I can’t see!”

To think those words would make a difference proved my naivety. Yet in the oddity of the entire experience, they did. Declaring my weakness, a white light flicked on – blinding me in an instant – as the voices quieted down. And in the return of silence, my eyes adjusted. Where I was, was an empty basement with moulding walls. There was nobody around, not even the man who’d ushered me in. And I was alone, in silence, again. What was going on? Had I lost my mind? I must’ve.

“Hello?” I called. “Is anybody… there?”

No reply. No echo. No ghostly creak. Nothing.

“I can fight now,” I muttered. “I can see now.”

Silence.

At that moment, I knew the only person I’d be fighting was myself. There was only me in this world. But as long as I could see, I could fight – whatever the fight was.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Pink, apocalypse, and massage were words given by Vincent Lim on Facebook. If you have no idea what this story is about, great! It’s up for interpretation.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. But before you do that, leave a comment below with the 3 most random words you can think of. I need your creativity to stir my creativity.

*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 March 30, 2017 in Original Works

 

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I’m Not Done Yet! Or am I?


Am I done with this novel? Is it good enough? When can I say I’m truly done?

As a writer, I always ask myself these questions. But the fact is, one can never say a novel is truly done. There’s no benchmark. There’s no checklist. There’s just me… and my novel. I’m the judge of when it’s complete. And yet, I cannot judge. I wonder if the extra rounds of editing would make my book worse. I oscillate between editing again or leaving it as it is. I don’t know what to do! Help! The uncertainty drives me crazy. But recently, I’ve come to a realisation.

Whenever I edit my novels, I mostly dislike what I read. I’m rarely happy with the text before me. I always think my story sucks – that I’m not a good writer – and I know I’m not alone. But in the midst of that, there’ll be a moment in time – a second of contentment – that hits me like an unforeseen kiss. It’s rare. It doesn’t happen as frequently as I hope it would. And it only transpires after I’ve grown tired with my work. This emotion comes after my self-loathing is replaced with fatigue.

Have you ever felt worn out from all the editing? Have you told yourself, “I’m done. I’m not touching this again. I’ve done all I can”? This brief moment of unexpected tranquility is how I know I’m done. Because… it only sweeps past me after my final round of editing. And by ‘final’, I mean I decided it would be the ‘final round’ before even starting work. How convenient, right?

You see, subconsciously, we know when we’re done. We can sense it. It’s an innate ability. Like how animals can sense an earthquake, it’s a gut feeling we writers have. But the two things holding us back – driving us to spend years on a single book – are doubt and fear. We doubt we have what it takes. We fear we’re not good enough. So we keep at it, on the same piece of writing, not realising that by working on the same thing over and over again, we’re not growing. We’ve boxed ourselves. We’re unable to learn by exploring other stories within us. We squeeze our creativity, then question why we’re not good enough. And when that moment of contentment hits – when we’ve come to believe we’ve given our all – we quickly brush it aside. We disregard the prompt that’s telling us to stop. And we repeat the vicious cycle of wondering, questioning, and not knowing when it’s done.

I, personally, don’t believe we should work on a single piece of work for years. I know I say this with The Slave Prince being a novel I worked on for 3 years, but I wrote plenty of other work during those 3 years too. And by honing my craft, I’m able to better The Slave Prince as I find my own style and voice. Am I done with The Slave Prince now? Yes. Very done. I’ve given my all. And there’s only so much I can do where I am, right now.

Moving forward, I’m ready to dive into new worlds. I’m ready to challenge my creativity and imagination. And I know I cannot do that if I’m stuck on the same book. Don’t let the question of ‘done’ stop you from moving forward. Because in reality, we’re never done. We will always grow, and we need to let ourselves grow.

So take it from me. The next time a wave of surprising satisfaction washes up your shore, after your ‘final round’ of editing, ask yourself these:

Am I done with this novel? Yes. Is it good enough? No. When can I say I’m truly done? Never.

You don’t have to publish your novel tomorrow. But you most certainly need to start writing something new. Only then can you free yourself from a curse, so cruel, it robs you of your much needed ‘happily ever after’.

The End.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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My Existence As A Writer

How often does life corner you to think about your existence?

For the most part of my life, I knew I wanted to write. Writing is my passion – it’s my calling. Writing is my purpose – the only thing I have that truly defines me. But how much of my writing has made a difference? How much of my writing has inspired, provoked, and brought about change? Well, to be honest, not much.

In this unexpected season of my life – where change has forced me to question – I realised I’m not writing enough to make a difference. Or at least, I’m not using my words enough to do so. I write for fun, for leisure, to pay the bills, and all for what? What I’m doing brings no fulfillment. And I cannot imagine living the next 50 years as such.

Hence, I’ve decided to make a couple of changes in my life and on this blog. And for the first time ever, I’m going to stop a project. You see, I’m the kind of person who endeavours to finish every race. But when I begin questioning the race – dreading to put my best foot forward – I believe I should stop. It’s not quitting. It’s realigning why I do what I do. Thus, I’m calling an end to Beneath The Crimson Star. This blog series, as cool and fun as it might sound, serves no purpose. The story exists to challenge my imagination, but I find no drive in that reason alone. So in replacement, I intend to write stories that matter.

Moving forward, I want to share more on my writing journey while publishing thought-provoking stories you’d enjoy. I’ve monitored the ‘likes’ and I’m able to gauge your general interest. In no way I intend to make this blog about me alone. I want it to be about you too, and I plan on giving you my best. So if you have any questions – in regards to whatever – ask away. If my words can help you realise your full potential, while I uncover mine, I’m more than happy to share them with you.

Wow. Apologies. This post reads rather personal

Honestly, I never thought I would question my existence. I always believed I knew, until I took a step back and found myself in a meaningless monotony. This brief existential crisis has made me more self-aware. It brought me to a conclusion that I want to write with a purpose – that I want my words to have meaning 7 days a week. Writing to pay the bills isn’t how I want to live this life. And I hope that in this paradigm shift, you would continue to stand with me. I don’t know where life will take me from this point onward, but I’m hoping I’ll be at a place where I can make a difference… and truly live.

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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