Writing Journey

The Realm Of Many Faces

The tunnels of Dunkel winded, sloped, and forked without any signs of where each turn led. Yet, Spion knew. Left, left, down, right, left— he appeared to have memorised the map of the universe. But that notion itself was quite a stretch. You would have to visit Dunkel more than once to understand how the realm was built. There was a higher probability Spion moved by instinct.

“Are we going in the right direction?” Robb asked, as they ascended a tunnel.

It had been a good hour since they bought the hooded cloak for Robb’s disguise. His calves now ached from the underground hiking as sweat trailed down his back in the stale and humid air.

“It seems we’re going further away from the ground,” Robb added.

“There’s no grid with these tunnels. I have to go by gut,” Spion confirmed.

“I thought so.” Robb hesitated on offering to take the lead, but it seemed silly since he was generally bad with direction. So he asked, “You have no idea where we are then?”

“I’ve been here before. You don’t have to worry. We’re not lost,” Spion assured.

“Right, I trust you. I always trust you.”

After three descents and six corners—close to another hour later— they reached the bottom. With a maze-like route, Robb had no idea how they arrived to the right of the city square. In fact, it was a miracle they made it altogether.

“There should be an inn nearby,” Spion confidently stated.

Stepping into a crowded street, Spion gestured forward and Robb tailed along. Just like the tunnels, getting lost was plausible. The buildings around the city square were unorganised. Some alleys tapered, some pathways widened, some structures tilted, and many walkways led to dead ends. It was as though a giant hand scattered the mud-made buildings and let them take root. There was no city planning involved, and the only landmark for Robb to gain his bearings was the city square.

Keeping Spion in sight, Robb stole quick glances at his surroundings. And in that collection of people, he discovered Dunkel’s unique trait. No, it wasn’t the brown, blockish architecture—to his surprise, it was the people. The citizens of the realm were the ideal definition of diversity. And their differences were impossible to disregard when they came together.

Most of the realms Robb had travelled to homed citizens with similar genetic traits. But Dunkel was the first he’d traversed with a thorough mix, spurring a great many tongues. Despite having learned the universal language, a multitude of dialects filled the air. It only reinforced his theory that the ancestors of the current generation originated from other realms. They might’ve migrated from neighbouring worlds, or they could’ve lost their way during the Sorxcistos’ reign. Robb didn’t see the allure of Dunkel and how it could’ve drawn diverse populations. So the latter sounded more rational in explaining the heterogeneity.

“Interesting,” Robb muttered to himself.

“What is?”

“Nothing. Where’s the inn?” Robb asked, as they turned into the main street.

The street was the widest space by far, with the exception of the city square. But ‘widest’ was an overstatement, as it could only fit five people shoulder-to-shoulder.

“Up ahead,” Spion replied.

With no distinction between the buildings, and not a single one sporting a sign, Robb was about to ask Spion to be specific. But before he could, he heard a voice. It interrupted his train of thought. And aside from what it said, it sounded close—too close for that matter.

“You don’t want to go there,” the voice whispered.

Turning around, Robb expected to see a grimy face. But in the absence of the source was the common crowd shuffling about their businesses. Did he imagine the voice? No, why would he? Unfortunately, with a street packed like a can of sardine, there was no guessing who had spoken.

Tugging Spion to a halt, Robb asked, “Did you hear that?”

“Hear what?” Spion replied. His eyes instantly narrowed.

Then, to prove Robb wasn’t crazy, the voice returned. In its coarse whisper, it added, “They know. They know you’re here, Your Majesty.”


I know, I know, I’ve left yet another seemingly half-baked tale for you. But just like The Realm Of Plum Blossom, this is an excerpt from my newest young adult fantasy series, Whispers Of The Wind

If this snippet has intrigued you, I have good news. The full manuscript of Whispers Of The Wind can be read on Swoon Reads for FREE! You don’t have to pay a single cent to travel through the magical realms with Robb! But why Swoon Reads?

Swoon Reads is a platform where readers decide which book gets published by Feiwel & Friends. By putting Whispers Of The Wind on Swoon Reads, I stand a chance at receiving a publishing deal. And, because it’s May, Swoon Reads will be making their next selection of books within this month itself! So if you’ve yet to check the book out, please, please, please do so. If you’re still reading it, please do leave a comment and a rating at your earliest convenience. Your assistance will increase my chances of being noticed by the editors—increasing the odds of not just publishing deal but perhaps a life-changing deal.

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Writing Journey

The Realm Of Plum Blossom


“I cannot be imagining this,” Robb said.

What Robb thought was a little town wasn’t a town. The source of the fireworks and music was in fact a city—a great city of colourful streets, laughing children, and a glistening stream that routed through.

Stone bridges connected the pebbled shores of the stream, where wooden food stalls ran their businesses. The citizens strolled in loose silk-layered clothing, seemingly dancing as a draft stirred in their motion. The people also held a friendly face, filled with expressions un-repressed. And the second Robb felt self-conscious, he noticed everyone’s hair and eyes—all as dark as his, against a variation of skin tones. It was like he’d returned home, and the sudden desire to stay was a difficult temptation to resist.

Excited to explore, Robb steered his raft to the shore. Not knowing where to start, he took a long panoramic view of the city. When he spotted what looked like palace walls, at the end a wide street paved along two rows of white, brick shops, he headed in that direction.

Already amazed by the stalls at the stream, Robb was wonderstruck by the shops along the street. The single storey buildings selling herbs, fruits, cloth, toys, and even food, was the cheerful and cleaner version of Tentazoa’s dark zone. Every vendor, who laid their items on a table out front, had Cheshire grins as they invited passers-by to take a look. Robb found himself stopping at a few shops, wishing he had money with him. It was hard to put down the hairpin Myra would’ve liked and the bamboo painting that would’ve liven up his bedchamber.

Finally, when he made it to the end of the street, his lips parted. The palace wall rose into the sky, and its crimson red entrance loomed overhead. Armoured soldiers guarded its royal ground, all armed with golden and red spears. But the height of the wall and the dragon carving on the double door weren’t what awed him. Against the fortification stood stone statues, towering like titans, with crowns on their marble heads. They lined from both sides of the door, along the wall, with no end in sight.

“Wow.”

“Wow indeed,” a voice replied.

Turning to the direction of the voice, Robb saw a girl. She was around his age, if not younger. She wore a flowing dress made from layers of white, pink, and red cloth—the colourful attire complimenting her long, black hair, fair round face, and small but cheerful eyes.

“Hi,” Robb greeted.

“Hello,” she said, with a teeth-flashing smile.

“Are these the kings and queens?” Robb asked, as he gestured at the statues.

“Yes. Those are their tombs.”

“Tombs?”

The girl shrugged. “Some say they are. I’ve never really seen a royal burial though. So, you know. Are you new here? You’re new here, aren’t you?”

“I guess… you can say so.”

“Which town are you from? That’s one weird costume, by the way,” the girl said, lowering her gaze to his shoes.

Robb admitted that he did look strange. For starters, nobody sported the colour black. There was plenty of white, but not a single black in sight. And oddly, no one seemed to care about his dressing. No one took a second glance, except for the girl.

“I know. It’s for a show,” Robb said. Then hoping to avoid any further questions, he asked, “Do the princes and princesses have statues too?”

“They do. But you won’t find them here. They’re at the royal temple.”

“The royal temple?”

“Up the bamboo mountain.”


It’s the first week of March! You’re supposed to get a story today. However, I’m in Kiwiland—far from my story machine—taking a break from reality. So instead, I thought I’d share with you a snippet of my already written, but yet to be published, novel!

What you just read is a small part of Chapter 6 from Book 1 of the Raindrops Trilogy, Whispers Of The Wind!

I chose this section because it’s one of my favourite parts in the book. Writing about this realm allowed me to dive deep into the historical Asian landscape of which I have always found to be beautiful and awe-inspiring. So fingers-crossed, you enjoyed this glimpse into the realm of Plum Blossom too!

Now, if you feel like I’ve just conned you into a half-baked story, I did no such thing! You can actually read the full novel of Whispers Of The Wind on Swoon Reads for FREE. Yes, you can embark on this adventure at no cost!

Swoon Reads is a platform where readers decide which book gets published by Feiwel & Friends (an imprint of Macmillan). By putting Whispers Of The Wind on Swoon Reads, I stand a chance at landing a publishing deal. So if you’ve yet to check the book out, please do so! I need you—every single one of you—to lend me a hand in this quest of turning my imagination into a reality.

Writing Journey

[Newest Novel] Read ‘Whispers Of The Wind’ For FREE!

Yes, you read correctly. You can now read my complete novel, Whispers Of The Wind—Book 1 of the Raindrops Trilogy—on Swoon Reads for FREE! Yes, all 61,376 words of the novel for FREE!

But wait… what is Swoon Reads?

Swoon Reads is like the X-Factor of publishing. They publish under an imprint of Macmillan—their publishing decision weighing heavily on reader feedback. So YOU choosing to read and rate my book will help me land a publishing deal! But do note that Whispers Of The Wind will ONLY be on Swoon Reads from 28 January to 28 July, 2019. After which, should the book be not of Swoon Reads’ choosing, I’ll remove it from the site and use the comments gathered to improve the manuscript. So… if you want to read my newest novel, here’s your chance!

Now, what is Whispers Of The Wind about?

“Seventeen-year-old Robb is the king of Zeruko. He, and his twin sister Myra, ascended the throne after their father’s passing. According to many, King Daemon—arch-nemesis and ruler of Tentazoa—murdered the late king. But despite the claims, Robb believes his father is still alive.

With a desire to bring his father home, Robb leaves Zeruko with his trusted friend Spion. The pair travel to the realms of the universe through the magic of raindrops. 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 Robb’s duel with the heir of Tentazoa, every step in his journey uncovers a gem of his past, present, and future. And in one foresight, Robb learns of the daunting fate of Zeruko.”

Whispers Of The Wind is a book I’ve been working on for the past few years. The first draft was completed in November 2015 and has since been rewritten and edited countless times. The book has even gone through a title change! This year, I intend to finish Book 2—its sequel—with hopes of landing a publishing deal for Whispers Of The Wind at the same time.

Okay, so how does Swoon Reads work?

It’s very simple! All you have to do is sign up for an account and you’ll have access to the entire book. Once you’re done reading, please, please, please leave a rating and a comment—if you enjoyed the book, please rave about it! The publication of this book, and possibly the entire trilogy, is in your hands. As you know, I cannot do this on my own.

Remember, the book will only be available until 28 July, 2019. So for all those asking what’s next—what am I writing and what is it about—you can embark on that adventure right now!

Writing Journey

Why You’ll Never Be Ready

If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives. – Lemony Snicket

If I waited to write my first book, waited to start this blog, waited to make videos—waited to pursue my passion… I’ll be waiting for the rest of my life. There would’ve been no stories told, no lives inspired, no leaps taken, no new experiences, no exciting surprises, and nothing to look forward to—the very thing that turned my humdrum existence into an imaginative and meaningful life. Heck, if I waited until I was ready… I wouldn’t be writing this today.

Personally, I don’t believe in readiness when it comes to pursuing our dreams. Readiness is not important, and it shouldn’t dictate whether we write that book, record that song, or enroll in that art class. Readiness is simply an excuse. And oftentimes, we use it as a reason to postpone the important pursuits in our lives. But, what is ‘readiness’ an excuse for? You might not like the answer but I’ll say it anyway—readiness is an excuse to not face the fear of the unknown.

We are afraid of the future. But… not the future in general. Our fear stems from a pessimism at reality that is ingrained in our human nature. Being optimistic is a choice—the believing that even in the darkest times there is still light. Being pessimistic, unfortunately, is often a default. But I’m not saying that being an optimist removes the fear of the unknown—this fear still exists. However, optimism gives us the little light we need—a light that can help us envision enough to take a leap of faith.

You’ll never be ready. You’ll never be able to predict the future either. But you have a choice. Is readiness a valid excuse to delay your dreams? Is being afraid of the unknown a sensible reason to put your life-changing plans on hold? Yes, you might fail. Yes, your work might not be the best. Yes, what you hope for might not come to past. But just because these are possibilities, they are not reasons. Heck, they don’t even exist to be legitimate reasons. Have they occurred? No. Will they occur? Perhaps—you don’t know for sure. And the paradox: not knowing is the reason to start.

Not being ready is a bad excuse to not pursue your dreams. But not knowing what will happen is a great reason to start chasing them. Life can only go two ways—the way we want it to and the way we don’t want it to. We can’t control what will happen nor can we predict the end result. What we can do, however, is choose to discover the other side.

Unlike avid hikers, I dislike hiking. My only goal, while I mutter under my breath about how torturous it is, is to find out what’s waiting for me on the other side. I like the discovery free from my expectations. It motivates me to complete the climb. And… at the very end of a hike, despite how tiring the ordeal, I find my reward—a sense of accomplishment. I now know what’s there! It might just be a plain landing surrounded by more trees, but now I know. And perhaps on my next climb, I will find the amazing view of snow-capped mountains I’ve been dreaming of. Now… there wouldn’t be any discovery without the climb, would there?

So stop waiting to be ready to go after your dreams! Be excited to find out what’s at the very end of each journey. Don’t be afraid to set sail because of the unknown. You might not know where you’re going—you might not end up where you’ve planned—but you’re going somewhere! And somewhere is always better than nowhere.

Others

8 Things I’m Grateful For In 2018

1. My trip to the UK. Though it was not the best nor the most memorable, I finally visited Potterland of which I thought was impossible.

2. My novel, The Slave Prince, finally hitting bookstores after the arduous hours spent on fundraising and editing.

3. My 3/4 page feature in The Sun newspaper. Who knew I would be given that much print space? Certainly not me!

4. My whole CLEO experience—from the photoshoot to the luncheon—that pushed me into the most awkward social situations, which have now made me a little bolder and more willing to say ‘yes’ to social events.

5. The many times I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone, agreeing to ‘things’ I never thought I would agree to, to push my limitations both in my personal and work life. I accepted so many challenges this 2018.

6. Learning a lot from my day job that has helped me to map my personal plans for the future. I never knew I could take such a route on my authoring journey. I never knew I would be so fond of the words, ‘business’ and ‘consultant’. Simply being willing to learn has helped me to see the endless possibilities standing before me.

7. A life plan for 2019 and beyond that doesn’t just involve writing novels but has a more meaningful purpose. Finally, there’s more to do! And I cannot wait to share it with you. So be sure to keep an eye out for the upcoming posts!

8. My friends, especially the (unlikely) people who are so supportive of my plans and have offered a hand to help me make it happen. And my family, for still being a close unit—still going on family trips and spending Sundays together. Hopefully, next year won’t be that much different.

After all that has happened and that is to come, I have a feeling 2019 is going to be an amazing year. 2018 is just the start of my novel, and like all epic adventures out there…. it’s about to get exciting!

Is there anything in your 2018 that you’re grateful for? Make a list!

Writing Journey

Imagination Is A Superpower [#TRUESTORY]

JG Cover

This story begins in 1999. You might be wondering if I got the year right, and chances are, I might be a year off. But let’s just assume it was indeed 1999.

At that age, I had a classmate who was a great storyteller. Her tales were so unbelievably far-fetched, yet oddly I bought every one of them. And because she often sparked my imagination—like how she attained a publishing deal as a nine-year-old—I started creating stories of my own. It began with the haunted Barbie doll that sat on a black dustbin near the library. God knows how many tall tales I concocted about the doll—a doll which strangely no teacher seemed to care enough to get rid of. There was also that haunted storeroom, in the classroom at the end of the top most hallway, with existing horror stories that I added to. Random question: why is everything haunted as a child?

10 points to Gryffindor if you can spot me!

In 2001, I moved to a different city and enrolled in a new school. This was when I took my storytelling up a notch with a group of friends. It was during that season that Charmed became my obsession—what can I say, magic has always been a fascination of mine. So during recess, my friends and I role-played as the Charmed Ones. I was Piper. I had a Leo. My friend who was Phoebe had a Cole. All these names would sound foreign if you have never seen the original Charmed series. But if you know what I’m talking about, you can safely assume we were big fans for having our own Book of Shadows.

A couple of years later, I started secondary school. Role-playing had moved from play-pretend to internet forums. It was in secondary school that I had access to the Harry Potter books, and thus began the sleepless nights and eager evenings to continue a story I was writing with five other Potterheads. And because role-playing was no longer expressed physically, I didn’t just write stories online, I started concocting tales before bed too. In the privacy of my bedroom, I imagined going on adventures with Harry and the gang. I even vocalised the dialogue. It sounds insane but trust me, writing my own stories make me seem more insane—this was just the tip of the iceberg.

However, as I aged up, I gradually stopped with the crazy imaginations… because honestly, it felt crazy to me too. So instead of feeding my imagination before bed, I turned to writing. I wasn’t very good. And people knew that—they were aware I wasn’t the best at stringing words together. I didn’t win a single writing contest. And on two accounts, someone close to me said I wasn’t going to make it—that I should quit because I wasn’t going to be good enough and that I was talent-less. If you’ve had someone close to you put fire to your dreams, you probably know how it felt. Did I believe them? No. Did their words hurt? Yes, so very much. But I was determined to succeed. And so I chose to use my imagination instead.

Born an imagineer, always an imagineer.

Imagination is a superpower. And with great power comes great responsibility. Just like any other superpower, you can use it for both good and evil. You can choose to imagine the worst, where you feed your doubts and crush your dreams. Or… you can choose to imagine an epic adventure where you ultimately become the hero of your story. When such a power is in your hands, the choice on what to do with it is entirely yours. And, I chose to keep my dream alive.

These days, I don’t use my imagination in the same way as I did growing up. As an adult, I channel my flights of fantasy into novels and the positive what if’s into reality. I imagine what could be with a dash of hope in the impossible. Of course, I am not completely free from the monsters of my imagination. But just like in any story, no matter how many times a villain rears its ugly head, it never wins. So if you’re an imagineer like me, start using your imagination in a way that will propel you on your own journey. And if you think you don’t have this gift of imagination, take a look at your childhood—screen through those years where you were free from reality. I honestly believe that the spark is still there, and all it needs is for you to reignite it… again.

Writing Journey

How To Master Perseverance

Perseverance is a skill as much as it is a personality trait. And by personality trait, I believe it is developed through circumstances and experiences in life. You’re not born with it—babies don’t enter the world with a determination to succeed. So, not having perseverance now doesn’t mean you cannot master it. You can develop a skill in pursuing relentlessly. And, you don’t have to wish yourself bankrupt. You most certainly don’t have to jump into a dark hole of grief and regret. You can build this skill in your day-to-day life with one simple principle.

All you have to do… is stop comparing. Stop making success a competition. Stop trying to outdo someone else. Stop hoping for another person’s story, expecting yours to be exactly the same. Stop trying to live someone else’s life.

How often do we question our gift and skill because someone else seems to be doing better? How often do we contemplate giving up because someone else has become more successful? How often do we place ourselves in a box because that is what someone else is doing?

If you want to win your race, you have to focus on the track ahead. The moment the whistle blows, your purpose isn’t to triumph over the people around you but to cross the finish line. It isn’t about earning someone else’s medal, but accomplishing what you’ve set out to do. So yes, maybe it will take a little longer—maybe you won’t be an overnight success. But if you set your eyes on the finish line—when you stop turning your head to look around, in fear of those catching up—you’ll find yourself undistracted. Your goal, purpose, and dream will fuel you, and you’ll find the determination to succeed.

You see, our life is like a book. We are the protagonists of our own stories. We have our own obstacles, villains, and victories. Now imagine if we crafted our stories following a template, hoping to imitate someone else—will doing so make our story interesting? Can we call that story our own? Is it a story we can be proud of? What will happen if all the books in the world have the same length, the same plot, and the same characters? Will we be reading cliches or hearing uniquely individualistic tales?

We were not meant to follow a template. Our stories aren’t meant to be the same. We are not clones and neither are our adventures. So why then are we trying to copy someone else’s journey? Why do we seek the same plotline and strive for the same chapters? Our stories are different and it’s time to embrace it. Let’s accept that some of us will have standalone novels, others might have trilogies, and many will run the course of a 7-book long series. Let’s be prepared for our own hero’s journey, with our own dragon to slay and our own original ending. Let’s not compete with other tales but be inspired by them. We can share the same goals and have the same desires, but let’s all write a story that is uniquely ours.

Writing Journey

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.

Writing Journey

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!”

Read The Online Version

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.

Writing Journey

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.