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Travel & Write

I love traveling – most of my friends, and even some of you, know that. I actually make it a priority to travel at least once a year. And because I’m not living in luxury – despite few assuming so, due to my escapades – I save as much as I can every month to make travel possible. It has become a ‘need’ in my life. But why?

There is, of course, the reason of ‘taking a break and seeing the world’. That’s the best reason anyone can give. It’s also a very legit one. But aside from that, I’ve found another reason to travel: inspiration. Traveling has inspired my writing. In fact, it has made me a better writer. Flights of fantasy frame a tale, but an experience gives it life. I endeavour to travel because I believe it gives my stories life – it makes them real. But how so, you ask?

#1 Cultural Understanding

Whenever I hop on a plane, I subject myself to a culture unlike my own. There’s a whole new way of doing things in a foreign land – a new mindset, upbringing, and belief. This unfamiliarity is the perfect opportunity to broaden my perception of the world. It corrects my former notions, and opens my mind to different possibilities. This understanding helps in my writing, especially when trying to break from a mold.

Often times, we box our characters in an ideal world – a world with a common set of cultures and beliefs. We do so because it’s safe – it’s what we know. But by experiencing other cultures in the real world, we gain a new understanding. Through the diversity, we’re able to sculpt a story from a fresh perspective. And by infusing the variety of life, we make our stories relate-able. Such stories live beyond the final page.

#2 Sight Beyond The Picture

There’s a difference between seeing a picture of an icy mountain peak and actually seeing it in person. There’s a set of emotions that come from sight beyond a picture. When you stand before a colossal work of nature, you’ll find yourself lost for words – awed at its magnificence. But when you look at a picture, you only feel a pinch of that emotion. You cannot grasps its magnitude and beauty, and your imagination will have to fill in those gaps.

When you’ve seen something in reality, your capacity to describe becomes far greater. The hustle and bustle, of a crowded street, is easier written when you’ve been jostled by the swarm of bodies. Compare that to a snapshot of Shibuya crossing, you can only imagine being sardined. Writing through an experience will leave a sense of reality with your reader. But to paint a real picture for them, you have to see its reality for yourself.

#3 Play Of Emotions

How important are emotions? Very. A writer needs to feel, before a reader can do so. But how can you feel anxious, overjoyed, fearful, and excited in writing, if you’ve not felt it in reality? There are many emotions aside from the common, everyday Inside Out posse. To know what it feels to be truly lost, is to be truly lost. To know what it feels to be wonder-struck, is to be truly wonder-struck. To know what it feels to be… you get my drift.

Traveling gives you the opportunity to experience and play with emotions you normally don’t. It helps you grasps the true meaning of a word. It helps you explain it in words, drawing from your very own encounters. Invoking emotion in a reader requires an author who knows that emotion inside out. And the only way to know an emotion is to feel it.

I know I’ve sold traveling as if it’s the best thing a writer can do. I also know that traveling may not be a luxury for some, while it may not be a priority to others. Whatever it is, I want to encourage you to see the world. You don’t have to board a plane to do so – you just need to try something new. Explore a part of your city you’ve not traversed. Try exotic dishes at a foreign restaurant. Befriend somebody from another country. Go out and experience the world first hand. Trust me, it’ll make a whole lot of difference in your writing – this, coming from a wanderlusting author.

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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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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Dream & Doubt

dreamanddoubt

I don’t question my dream. I don’t question the amount of work I put into achieving my dream. I don’t question why I dream. And I certainly don’t question if my dream is worth it.

However, I do question my skill – my talent – and if I really have what it takes to do it. Am I made for this industry? Are my works of any value? Am I making a difference? Do I disappoint my readers? Can I actually produce something that people love? Is there a hint of potential in me? Why am I… not good enough?

I would start a round of editing and go, “Hey, this writing isn’t so bad,” only to think, “This sucks,” moments later. I would crack my fingers, ready for a fruitful day of rewriting, only to sigh at sunset having not achieved my goal. Out of all the days spent at the keyboard, 90% end with disappointment. And don’t get me started on rereads of older works. Boy, if I had soil beneath my feet, I’d bury my head in a jiffy.

So let’s be honest – I’ve never once been assured of my writing.

I’ve never been confident with what I put on the table. I cannot say my works are worth reading, because there’s always something wrong – something I cannot fix. I can give my all. I can drain my emotions. But I cannot be 100% sure I’ve done a good job. And if you’re finding this relatable, then I’ve achieved the goal of this post.

You’re not alone.

It’s nice to know that, huh? Still, it doesn’t change the fact that we still doubt. And as comforting as the words of Bukowski, it’s something we cannot escape.

The problem is that bad writers tend to have the self-confidence, while the good ones tend to have self-doubt. – Charles Bukowski

Despite the assurance that, “Hey! I’m a good writer because I doubt!” we still chuckle and smirk in disbelief. Maybe the saying is true. But whom am I kidding? I don’t believe Bukowski. I’ve not read any of his works. Even if the internet proves he’s a good writer, we don’t know if this quote is true. There’s no substantial evidence to it. So, where does that leave us? Back at square one.

At least, we’re not alone.

I know it’s impossible to be confident in my works. I’ll always be afraid of disappointing my readers. I’ll hold my breath at the sight of a new review. I’ll not know where I stand in this ocean of writers. And I’ll never stop wondering. You probably feel the same way too. However, in the unknown, I will keep writing.

My dream is far too valuable to be shaken by uncertainties. So I’ll live with them – both doubt and dream – the unlikeliest of friends. In spite of their differences, they drive each other. And the result of their friction fuels my passion. At the end of the day, that’s all I need. That’s all you need. The only important emotion, in the midst of our insecurities, is passion. Because passion… is the spell that turns dreams into reality.

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2016 in Writing Journey

 

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Bagel | Rust | Lanyard

bagelrustlanyard

“That’s a stupid necklace,” she said.

Her fingers toyed with the glistening diamond resting on her chest.

“You know what it is, right?” she asked.

Her eyebrows rose condescendingly.

“Yes,” I replied. “My mum wears it to work.”

Her lips curled into a smirk.

“Did she lose her job and gave you that as a present?”

I dropped my gaze to the floor, contemplating on walking away.

“So, are you having dinner tonight?” she asked.

I stuffed my hands into my pockets, knowing what was coming next.

“Or are you too poor to even celebrate?”

I shrugged.

She laughed.

“You’re pathetic.”

She motioned for her posse before shouldering past me. And that was my day at school.

When the bell rang, I heaved a sigh of relief. I was eager to head home. I wanted to run from the chuckles and whispers, and see what my mother had planned. For days, I’d been looking forward to the celebration. Despite knowing it wouldn’t be as grand as my friends’, I was still excited. So I sprinted – my backpack bouncing on my shoulders, as I placed one foot before the other.

“There’s going to be food – lots – and lots – of food!” I told myself, stealing quick breaths in between. “Dad’s – going to be – home. And we’ll – have – the best – family dinner – ever!”

Beep!

My shoes skidded against the gravel.

“Watch where you’re going, kid!” the driver of the black sedan shouted from the open window.

“Sorry!” I bowed and saluted apologetically, before continuing in my sprint. As dangerous as it was, I wasn’t stopping for anybody. I’d been waiting for this day since the letter slipped under the door. No matter how hazardous my route, I needed to get home as fast as I could.

When I finally reached my destination, I took a second to catch my breath. While I gulped the air, stained with a rancid stench, I pondered upon my entrance. Should I take the front door or the window? I decided on the window. I could peek into my mother’s surprise, and surprise her instead.

Jogging into the side alley, I climbed onto the rectangular garbage bin, and jumped for the ladder. Coated in rust, the bars screeched in their descent and I hesitated little as I hopped on. My home was on the third floor of the old, brick building. But the question of its structural integrity never came to mind, as I ascended two steps at a time. Once I reached my floor, I kneeled behind the half drawn kitchen sink curtains and peered cautiously.

My mother was not to be seen. The dining table stood barren, the flattened pillows on the couch remained scattered since morning, and the ceiling fan was frozen in the time I left. There was, however, a letter by the door. And the moment I spotted it, dread hit me like an unexpected tidal wave.

“No. Not again,” I muttered. “He promised.”

Grasping whatever hope I had left, I slipped into the kitchen and snatched the letter from the floor. This time, I hesitated. I wondered if it was worth the read. Was the discovery worth the ache in my thighs and my child-like ignorance? Just before I made up my mind, the front door clicked and swung open.

“You’re back already?” my mother asked. Then seeing the letter, she tugged it from my weakening grip, and added, “You shouldn’t read letters addressed to me.”

“But it’s not addressed to anyone,” I replied. “And I know who it’s from.”

The handwriting drew a memory of when my father held my hand, in attempts to teach me the alphabets.

“He’s not coming home again is he,” I said.

My mother nodded her head, but oddly, with a smile.

“Why are you smiling?”

“Well, if he’s not coming home, it means we’ll have more to eat tonight,” she said.

“But… I want him here. I’d rather have him here than more food. I want him home.”

Aware she was unable to fulfill my wish, my mother remained silent. She simply gave my forehead a peck, before placing the brown paper bags on the table. Then standing by the kitchen sink, she read the letter to herself.

“What did he say?” I asked.

“He’s not coming home.”

“Is he coming home next year?”

“No.”

“Why? Did something happen?”

“No. He’s just not coming.”

The disappointment swallowed my hope in a single breath. Braving myself in the face of the many emotions stirring within, I fought against tears. Then, my mother repeated herself.

“But I’m glad.”

Frowning, I asked, “You’re glad? Because you want to eat more?” I was almost horrified at my mother’s response.

“No. I’m glad he still writes.”

“But he writes broken promises.”

“Yes, but he’s alive. And I’m thankful he still is.”

Now the one lost for words, I retreated to my room. I planted myself on my bed, staring at the ticking clock by the bedside. The urge to cry had vanished, as I thought over my mother’s words. It was only when she knocked on my door that I concluded she was right.

“Are you ready for our feast?” my mother asked in excitement.

“What are we having?”

“For starters, bagel. And in your favourite flavour!”

I smiled and wrapped my arms around her waist.

“What’s that for?” she asked.

“You’re right. I’m thankful he’s alive too.” Then looking up at her, I added, “And I’m thankful you’re alive, mummy. Happy thanksgiving!”

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Bagel, rust, and lanyard were words given by Mr.Hematite. I went with the thanksgiving theme as coincidentally, today is thanksgiving! And despite thanksgiving not celebrated in my country, I thought it’s worth writing about. After all, it’s always good to remind oneself to be thankful.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. If you don’t have a story, here’s another challenge: make a list of everything you’re grateful for this year. I’m sure, that from the list itself, there’s a story to tell.

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

3 Words, 1 Story © 2016 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

 
4 Comments

Posted by on November 24, 2016 in Original Works

 

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Aspire To Inspire

aspiretoinspire

We all aspire to inspire. But how much are we willing to give to be an inspiration?

In the past 3 months, during the Geek & Sundry fantasy contest, I’ve learned that inspiring others requires a whole lot more than just being me. Yes, being me is the start. And doing what I think I do best – writing – is good too. But being me and writing stories have its limits. If I truly want to be an inspiration, I have to give. And by giving, I mean living by example.

It’s tough to live by example. For those in the creative industry – those being watched – living by example takes a conscious effort. Heck, living by example in general, requires purposeful action. Because in reality, nobody wants to be kind on a bad day, nobody wants to be generous when finance is tight, and nobody wants to support during emotionally trying times. We’re humans after all, and our lives include both the highs and lows. So to actually live by example, we have to do more when we don’t feel like it. We have to go beyond merely existing and… give.

I personally do not think I’m a good example. I’m trying to be, though. I’m trying to care about those around me. I’m trying to be generous and lend a hand to the less privileged. I’m trying not to judge others, because I’m flawed myself. I don’t know if all of my actions are inspiring others. But I do know, that when I see comments about how my stories and my dream chasing endeavours inspire people, I don’t want those to be all I have to offer. I want to try to be a light whenever and wherever I can.

Still, I’m not perfect. Trust me, I’ve imagined knocking a helium balloon out of a child’s hand. I’ve feigned ignorance out of the unwillingness to help. I’ve laughed at people’s spelling mistakes, only to realise how I make laughable Korean mistakes myself. I’m also an introvert, so being friendly is the last thing on my mind. But if there’s any consolation, I know I’m trying . And I hope that my stories won’t just be an inspiration to you, but my life will be as well. I hope that one day, Jeyna wouldn’t just be a writer. Jeyna would be a writer who lives by example. Yes, it’s going to be tough. But… you know what? My life is a story itself. And it’s the most important story I have to tell.

Often times, we get caught up in creating that we forget the most important thing: our life stories. My life story and your life story speak more than anything we can physically create. It’s the most powerful and moving tale we will ever write. And when we aspire to inspire, we are drafting this story. Sure, there will be plenty of edits. But at the end of the day, we can give our stories a good closure. Our unique plot lines can make a difference in the lives of every reader we encounter. Unequivocally, our actions will speak louder than words. Can you believe I’ve only realised this now?

I hope that one day, I wouldn’t just be the writer that writes. I hope that one day, I would be the writer that lives. And from one creator to another, let’s write a story that no one can put down. Let’s aspire to inspire not just through creating, but living.

(*I apologise if this post reads a lot like a personal blogpost. I just couldn’t help but share what I’ve learned during the campaign of The Slave Prince. And speaking of The Slave Prince, the book won the Geek & Sundry Fantasy contest! It will receive a full publishing deal from Inkshares! Woo hoo! I’m super excited. Should you like to know more, head over to the book page and follow the book. Updates on the book’s progress will be posted there. Also, if you’ve not pre-ordered the book, you can still do so. It’s at a cheaper price now, and who knows how long it’ll stay that way.)

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2016 in Writing Journey

 

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The Patreon Project

patreonproject

Have you heard of Patreon?

Patreon is a place where artsy-fartsy people share their work, and patrons (that’s you!) come and support their artsy-fartsy-ness. Patrons will commit an amount of money every month to support the creator in their hard work and creativity, giving the creator more time to create and less time worrying about paying the bills. Simply defined, it’s a crowd-funding site without the restriction of time.

Many artsy-fartsy people have been using this site for years. From YouTubers, illustrators, podcasters, musicians, to writers and bloggers, some of your favourite creators are on Patreon. Today, I officially hop on this bandwagon (and hopefully, I can be considered as one of your favourite creators too 🙂 ).

So, what is this Patreon Project?

Well, for many years, I’ve been creating fictional tales and posting them for free on my blog. I enjoy doing it and I love sharing my stories with you. However, I recently thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to earn some money from my stories?‘ Yes, my stories are meant to be free, but maybe someone would like to throw a penny or two into my hat. Hence, the Patreon Project.

The Patreon Project is me taking a step closer toward achieving my dreams of becoming a full-time author. Honestly, I’m scared. What if you think I’m not worthy of your patronage? What if this post blows over your head? But chasing my dreams requires me to take bold steps, and even if I fall face flat and break my nose, I’ll take those step anyway. Even if no one wants to support my artsy-fartsy endeavours, I’ll keep trying… I’ll keep swimming.

This… is the Patreon Project.

Now, you’re probably wondering, are there perks of being my patron?

Of course! I’m not going to leave you empty-handed. Come on, I’m not like that. So here’s what you’ll get:

– *Updates on, and chapters of, work-in-progress.
– Un-blogged and never-before-published stories.
– Discount codes and free eBooks.
– Advance digital copy of self-published books prior to publication.
– Have a book dedicated to you.

*I’ve not told many people about this, but I’m actually working on a new piece of work with an artist. I’m really excited about it! But because we’re still in the early stages, I haven’t said anything yet. However, if you’re a patron, you’ll be the first to hear about it once it’s confirmed (which most likely it will be). You’ll also get to read it first!

So yes, being my Patron has its perks.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you. I really appreciate you taking the time to hear me out. If you don’t mind, please check out my Patreon page as well. You can support me at whatever amount you wish. If $1 is how you roll, then for that $1 I’m very grateful. Every dollar contributed brings me closer to my goal, and to have your support in this journey is a huge honour.

Thank you for considering this. And thank you in advance to my future patrons. Do know that without you, I am but a boat blowing its horn in the storm. You are the ship that helps me sail on.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on June 30, 2016 in Writing Journey

 

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Desk | Engine | Butterfly

deskenginebutterfly

“What’s wrong, Captain?” I asked.

“Our butterfly isn’t working,” the Captain replied.

I strode toward him and spotted the fragile machine lying lifeless on the work desk. The Captain wore a monocle strapped around his head, as he leaned in for a closer inspection.

“I can handle this. The men up deck are waiting for your instructions,” I said.

“All right. Come up once it’s fixed.”

“Yes, sir.”

I watched the Captain exit the cabin before turning to the mechanical critter. Unmoving, it was harmless. But I knew, that once its wings fluttered, it had the power of a God. I also knew, that once it breathed again, the adventure would be over. Still, I got to work.

Unscrewing the top exoskeleton and removing the protective case, I found the source of the problem. There was a deep dent on the butterfly’s engine. It must have had a collision for it to receive such damage. Using a pincer, I detached the heart-like device and lifted it out of the shell. The Captain would be proud.

“You’ll be fine, little one,” I said.

Heading to the shelf across the work desk, I dug through boxes of mechanical hearts. It didn’t take me long to find the perfect fit. In fact, I didn’t have long. Giving the butterfly a new heart, I hit the reboot button and watched as its buggy eyes lit up while its wings flitted in the air.

“Hello there. I’m sorry there isn’t much time to rest, but you’ve got to get to work.”

Cupping my hands around it, I hurried to the top deck where everyone had gathered. When I arrived, our ship steered to face the large volcanic island. We were still far from our enemy’s sight, but they were not far from ours.

Under the pastel moonlight, the island was covered with specks of ember. The glows of the flames illuminated the stone buildings, as the shadows of its people drifted along the walls. I could almost see them. I could almost hear their cheerful music and their oblivious guffaws. I could almost smell their savoury meat pies. Oh, if only they knew what was coming.

“Is it fixed?” the Captain asked.

“Yes, sir.”

I gently placed the butterfly onto the Captain’s palm and immediately, the crew shuffled in for a look.

“You’ve done good,” the Captain said.

“Thank you.” I beamed.

“You just might be ready for the ship.”

“Really?”

“Yes, really.”

The men around me gave me pats on the back. Working and fixing the Unschuld was my lifelong dream. When I met the Captain for the first time, he told me the Unschuld was mine. But before I could own it, I had to learn everything I could from him. And while I did, he promised to protect the vessel for me.

“Thank you!” I exclaimed.

“Now, we must end this quest. Shall we set the butterfly free?” the Captain asked.

“Yes, sir. Set it free.”

The Captain nodded and released the butterfly along the sea breeze. For a while, the butterfly tumbled in the wind. But after a few flaps, it piloted itself in the right direction. A hundred times quicker than its living siblings, it made its way to the island. And as it did, I watched it closely… until the darkness swallowed it whole. From then on, I had to use my imagination.

The butterfly landed on a wooden dock. It gracefully folded its wings and stood motionlessly while the world carried on in its ruckus. The gears in its tiny body began to work, powering a different machine – its brain. Firing electrons to the special chip in its head, a mellow hum swept across the island. No person heard it. No person knew. The people basked in their last moments of ignorance before BAM!

“Raise the flag and blow the horn!” the Captain ordered. “Today, we claim this island as ours!”

The men roared in excitement and I roared along with them. Unschuld and her sisters speared through the waves toward the volcanic island. The final moments of the quest had begun. As the island’s machinery exploded to the surface, the men on-board unsheathed their swords and loaded their guns.

“Are you going to fight today?” the Captain asked me.

“Yes, sir!”

“Then don’t hold back.”

“Yes, sir!”

“Show me what you’ve got!”

“Yes, sir! I’ll-”

“Dinner is ready!”

I looked behind me and then back at the Captain.

“Ignore her,” the Captain said. “We have a battle to win.”

“I made meat pies. Your favourite. You two can continue playing later,” she said, stepping on deck.

At the intrusion, the Captain’s shoulders slumped and so did mine.

“But mum, we’re-”

“After dinner, ok? After dinner you can fight those monsters-”

“Pirates,” the Captain corrected.

“You can fight those pirates and claim their booty. After dinner.”

I wanted to insist that the battle had to happen then, but she was more powerful than any butterfly we’ve encountered. Even the Captain said nothing. He gave in and told me to wash my hands before coming to the dinner table.

“We’ll play later, ok princess?” the Captain said.

“Ok.”

“Make sure to wash your hands properly.”

“Ok.”

“Use soap.”

“Ok dad, ok.”

“It’s Captain, not dad.”

The Captain gave me a narrow stare and I giggled.

“Yes, sir!”

“Now that’s my little pirate.”

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Desk, engine, and butterfly were words given by live60. Now what a coincidence it is that this coming Sunday is Father’s Day. Since I wrote a Mother’s Day story for this challenge, I thought it only fair to write a story for all the fathers out there too. Fingers crossed, I hope I captured the heart of a father with this story.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. Whatever you’d like to write, write. I know it can be quite a challenge, but it is a challenge after all. I find it challenging myself, but I’m always surprised with what I can come up with. So give it a shot.

Happy Father’s Day to all! And happy writing to you.

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

3 Words, 1 Story © 2016 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

 
4 Comments

Posted by on June 16, 2016 in Original Works

 

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