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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!)

 
2 Comments

Posted by on April 6, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Making A Comeback

makingacomeback

‘To achieve a success after a retirement or failure.’ – a reliable dictionary I found online.

I am making a comeback. The Slave Prince is making a comeback.

My last publishing success on Inkshares was in January 2015. My last publishing failure on Inkshares was in January 2016. (What a coincidence!) But what is failure, really? Giving up. So that’s why I’m back.

When The Slave Prince didn’t make it to the top 3 in the Sword & Laser Collection Contest, I was disappointed. But I knew, from the get-go, that I wasn’t going to give up on this book. And when the opportunity arose, I would put it out there again.

The opportunity has arrived… in the form of the Geek & Sundry fantasy contest.

The Geek & Sundry contest opens now till November 1st. The top 3 books with the most unique reader pre-orders (a.k.a most reader headcount) will receive a full publishing deal with Inkshares!

Obviously, The Slave Prince is at risk of failing again. But I’m not going to fail, because whatever obstacle stands before me, I will dig under, I will climb over, and if I have to, I will break my way through. (Sounds like I’m giving myself a pep talk, eh?)

I don’t think I’ve said this before, but The Slave Prince is an important book to me… far more important than The Battle for Oz. If I could turn back time, I would’ve funded The Slave Prince first. But alas, I’m no time traveller.

The Slave Prince wasn’t just written for fun, but for me. The Slave Prince, Thom himself, reminds me I can do anything if I believe. The adventure reminds me that perseverance can make the impossible possible. And the premise… the premise reminds me of the power of child-like make-believe. (Why am I tearing up? This is weird.)

Every time I revisit The Slave Prince in my editing rounds, I am reminded to believe in myself and keep contending for the impossible. If it were another book, I’m not too sure if I’d feel the same way. So here I am, hoping you, my dear reader, will stand with me and this book.

I know my book isn’t the best book out there, but I hope the story speaks to you. I also hope… you’ll give me a chance to make this comeback real. You have the power to make a difference in my life, and I’m really counting on you to walk this road with me. Without you, it’ll be a lonely journey. That said, thank you so very much for reading all the way to the end! And please grab a copy on your way out. I would be eternally grateful.

theslaveprincecover2

About the Book

The Slave Prince follows the tale of Thom, a mischievous teenage prince who discovers his lineage in the slave race. When the calling to be the chosen one arises, he relies on the power of a magical dagger to save his people.

Book page: https://www.inkshares.com/books/the-slave-prince

First few chapters can be read on the book page. Additional bonus backstory HERE.

*Ps, I’m so close to making the top 3, a little push from you will take me there. A little push might move me up to #1 too! 

 
4 Comments

Posted by on August 4, 2016 in Others

 

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Write What You Know

writewhatyouknow

Should you or should you not?

‘Write what you know’ is a statement you’ll hear the moment you decide to be a writer. It’s a cliche advice with two camps: the camp that supports it and the camp that doesn’t. There is no unanimity with this notion. Having both pros and cons, it naturally creates opposing beliefs.

Should you write what you know, you save time. You save money. You don’t have to put in as much effort, as when you’re writing what you don’t know. Writing what you know is easier. But writing what you know also puts you in a box. It doesn’t expand your horizons or challenges your ideas. In a way, it makes you complacent. So should you or should you not, write what you know?

Let’s take a step back and look at the statement from a different perspective.

As people with expanding intellect, we have the tendency to complicate things that aren’t meant to be complicated. Simply taking this advice as it is will give us the answer we need.

Write what you know.

You know the sky is blue. You know salt is salty. You know silk is soft. You know birds chirp. You know death is heartbreaking. And you know the joy of reunion.

You also know the sky changes colour as the day progresses. You also know salt makes food less bland. You also know silk clothing is comfortable. You also know a chirping bird can be both annoying and pleasant. You also know life goes on after death. And you also know memories can bring about laughter.

You know a lot, don’t you?

So should you write what you know? Yes. You should.

Writing what you know doesn’t just encompass what you’ve learned in school. In fact, it shouldn’t encompass head knowledge at all. Writing what you know is simply drawing from your experiences as a human being, and giving life to whatever you’re writing.

When I was writing The Battle for Oz, I hadn’t read the original book I was spinning from. I only read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz long after the book was completed. I also didn’t read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland until after I was done reading Oz. Heck… I didn’t even finish Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. However, I still managed to complete The Battle for Oz with the help of Google and what I already know.

With my own life experiences, I was able to create a story without even being a fan of the original works. And that itself, made The Battle for Oz my book. Your book and your story is yours because you’re writing with what you and only you know. No one can write like you, or craft stories like you, because they’re not walking in your shoes or experiencing life as you do. The statement that ‘everyone has a story to tell’ holds true.

At the end of the day, writing what you know is only natural. Writing isn’t grounded in the knowledge of a genre or a specific idea, but writing is grounded in you. Knowing yourself plays a big role in writing. And focusing on putting yourself in your works, instead of merely gathering knowledge, makes a piece all the more believable… and all the more unique.

You don’t have to be the best, most knowledgable writer in the world, to write what you want to write. You can write about anything and everything, as long as you know yourself.

Now… for some Calvin and Hobbes humour.

calvinhobbes

I hope this post answers this question, should you be looking for an answer. But even if it doesn’t, I hope you’ll write with you in mind.

You know a lot. Don’t underestimate yourself.

(Edit: Based on some comments, I’d like to clear a possible misunderstanding: I’m not saying don’t do research and write from solely what you know. Do research. But don’t ever feel like you don’t know enough to embark on any writing journey.)

 
24 Comments

Posted by on July 28, 2016 in Writing Journey

 

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Dealing with Criticism

dealingwcriticism
Not-so-fun fact: No one can escape criticism.

Whether it is constructive, whether it is for our works, or whether it is based on what we believe in, we will always be judged. The question is: how do we deal with it?

Personally, I receive the most criticism in my written work. Freely putting my work out there has invited many opinions, and some of them aren’t very nice. So how do I deal with these not-so-nice words? My approach happens in 3 phases:

#1 Resentment

What do you know about writing? If it’s so easy, go write your own book. The plot sucks? Well, trying plotting your own novel. Wait, you’re not a writer? Ha! Haha! You talk big for someone without experience. Pfft!

I previously blogged in Does Blogging Help? on how blogging has helped me learn from and accept constructive criticism. But receiving criticism on the blogosphere from people who genuinely want to help me is different from receiving criticism from people who don’t.

When The Battle for Oz was published, advance copies were given in exchange for honest reviews, copies were placed in numerous bookstores for anyone to purchase, and free copies were thrown in giveaways. The more copies sold meant the more copies read. The more copies read meant the more reviews given. The more reviews given, the higher the chances of negative words to be written.

My response toward the first few negative reviews was outright resentment. I ranted and vented about them to my family. I posted passive-aggressive Facebook statuses. I went to bed angry. But the more I encountered such reviews, the number I grew toward them.

I’m not saying I’m resentment-free. I still internalise a sarcastic comeback toward said reviews, but I no longer rage over them. I believe it is normal to resent negative words. That’s what makes us human And that doesn’t mean we’re sour grapes. So if you need to deal with criticism with a little resentment, do so.

*Disclaimer: Please do not act on your emotion in a way you would regret. Do not verbally abuse a reviewer, and do not hunt them down and smash a bottle of wine on their head. As someone who is being watched (even by a few people), you want to live a life that inspires. Not a life that sets bad examples.


#2 Reasoning

Maybe you don’t like my book because it’s not what you usually read. Maybe you didn’t know this wasn’t an adult book. Maybe you just don’t get my writing style. Maybe you set too high of an expectation.

The second phase I go through after my ears stop steaming is reasoning. I try to find a reason why someone had something bad to say about my work. This phase is not about justifying the critique, but justifying my work itself. This is where I question whether my work is horrible or decent. And the only reason I reason… is to make myself feel better. But my response toward all the reasoning is crucial.

You see, when you start reasoning with criticism, you start asking the big questions in life: why do you do what you do? Are you good at it? Should you give up? Is this passion worth it?

How you answer these questions determine where you go from there. Your answers will either build a strong foundation in self-faith or torch your dreams to ashes. My own answers have only grown my passion for writing. I am not without self-doubt, but I choose to believe I’m more than a negative review. Reasoning reminds me why I’m doing what I’m doing. Reasoning helps me keep the end goal in mind.

#3 Realisation

Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has a right to an opinion. But I won’t let an opinion change my dreams, and I certainly won’t let an opinion change who I am.

Some days I reach this phase fairly quickly, some days it takes a while. But every time, I will come to realise that opinions do not have the power to tear me down or force me to change. Opinions are opinions, no matter how tactless they are. They are not a command or a law. They have no control over my life.

I can choose how I want to take a criticism. If it’s constructive, I learn from it. If it’s hateful, I use it to drive me toward my goal. I don’t write for the approval of men, I write for me.

Some people will tell you not to read reviews or critiques, because they are discouraging and they stir unwanted emotions. Personally, I encourage you to read and take negative reviews. You’ll learn to tame the monster within, you’ll discover more about yourself and your passion, and you’ll drive yourself to be better. There is always something positive to take out of negative circumstances. And dealing with criticism (not running from criticism) is one of them. When you come to this realisation, nothing can stand in your way.

So, there you have it: the phases I go through to deal with criticism. I’m not sure if this post is of any help, but if there’s one thing I’d like you to take away from this, is that you’re not alone. I face criticism – I have my own haters – but I choose not to give up and work toward becoming better. I hope you’ll face criticism the same way too.

Criticism has no power to alter your dreams. Only you have the power to do so.

 
19 Comments

Posted by on May 26, 2016 in Writing Journey

 

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No Posts on 21 & 28

Heads up dear reader, there will be no posts today and on the 28th of April. That’s because I’m taking a vacation in the picturesque island of Tasmania! It’ll be a silent two weeks, but I’ll be back 🙂

If you’re missing me already (which I highly doubt) you can use the lack of posts to catch up on The Clubhouse, read already published short stories and fan fictions, or spam me with comments. I’ll also try to be active on Twitter. So if you wanna come along my little trip, you can do so over social media 🙂 I’ll try to tweet pictures daily, as proof I’m still alive and well. That should be fun. Haha! Also, did you know I have an Instagram account?

*Oh and don’t forget to join the Goodreads paperback giveaway of The Battle for Oz! Also, submit your comment HERE to win the e-book version! You only have 4 days left to enter. 

Don’t ask me why this is here. I just thought it fitting. And I don’t even know why.

 

 
6 Comments

Posted by on April 21, 2016 in Others

 

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Monday Giveaway

mondaygiveaway

*TL;DR: Read the bold-ed words.

Phototastic-25_3_2016_3c0a52c3-badb-4ed3-9450-101a4fe90704Prior to the launch of The Battle for Oz, my publisher threw a Goodreads giveaway. 20 copies were up for grabs and over 1,000 people entered. I’m still in shock at the number of readers interested in the book. I know some books get way more participants, but for me, 1,000 is a lot! So anyway… now that it’s a little over six months, my publisher and I have decided to throw another giveaway.

Just like round one, there are 20 paperback copies to be won. And don’t worry, despite the blog title, the giveaway is not just open for today. In fact, it runs from March 28th to April 25th. The only downside is this paperback giveaway is only open to residents of the United States and Canada. Unfortunately, my publisher cannot extend it globally… yet. However, they’re more than happy to give 10 free e-books to my readers living outside of US and Canada.

So, if you’re living in the US and Canada, you can enter the Goodreads giveaway HERE. But if you’re not from either of these two countries, you can leave a comment below stating who you like better, Dorothy Gale or Alice Liddell, and stand a chance to win an e-book! Sounds cool?

I’m not sure if any of my blog followers won the Goodreads giveaway the last round. I saw a familiar name, but I cannot be certain. This time, I hope one of you do win a copy. It would be awesome to hear your thoughts on the book. So be sure to join! You have close to one month to enter, and I don’t advise waiting. What if you forget? Ok, ok, fine, I’ll remind you when the date is nearer. But if you have nothing to do now, enter/leave a comment today!

That’s it! I used a lot of ‘so’s in this post didn’t I? So I better end this here. Happy Monday dear reader! And thanks for always sticking around 🙂

 
3 Comments

Posted by on March 28, 2016 in Others

 

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Does Blogging Help?

doesblogginghelp

If you’ve been on the blogosphere for a while, you’ve probably asked yourself this question. Heck, if you’re new, you’ve probably asked this question as well. More so if you’re a creative individual who’ve been told over and over again that blogging will help in your pursuits. And even more so if you’re a writer, as it’s been advised and advocated by writers everywhere.

Well today, I just want to tell you that blogging does help. This is my fifth year on WordPress and I wouldn’t have stuck around if it didn’t. So as a personal testimony (and hopefully as an encouragement for you to keep on blogging), I’ll share how blogging has helped me over the years.

*These lessons are what I learnt as a writer, but I’m sure they’re applicable to any form of creative work.

#1 Becoming A Serious Writer

You know what they say: if you want to be a serious writer, you gotta have a blog. Well, let’s just say I started blogging without this in mind. In fact, I started this blog for two reasons. One: to post the first chapter of my first novel, and two: to deal with my Post Potter Depression (PPD is real, guys).

If you’ve been here since the very beginning, you’ll know that all I wrote back then were Harry Potter fan fictions. It was my first time diving into the fanfic world and I was a complete newbie. But because I was upset Harry Potter was officially over, I needed to write to make myself feel better. And while I wrote, I was taught to take writing seriously.

Back in my fan fictions days, i had a habit of not capitalizing my ‘i’s’. It was me being a lazy writer and i was awakened by the fact through the comments i received on my stories. After the revelation, I began taking writing a little more seriously and started capitalizing. It wasn’t so hard holding down SHIFT, to be honest. But if it weren’t for those comments, i would still be typing like this.

Those early days of writing snapped me out of my delusion of being a good enough writer and forced me to see how naive and immature I was. Simply put, blogging forced me to grow up.

#2 Becoming A Better Writer

The desire to become better naturally came after deciding to take writing seriously. Blogging itself helped with the process.

The comments I received during my fan fiction days kickstarted this learning journey. With more people reading my stories and more comments pouring in, I knew I needed to improve. So I took every advice and polished my works as best as I could. When I ultimately transitioned to posting original works, I paid closer attention to my writing style and attempted different genres.

I wanted to be a better writer for myself and for you. And because of this blog and its readers, I’ll always endeavour to outdo myself and be the best writer I can be. Without this platform, I wouldn’t put much effort into writing. And without the much needed practice, I wouldn’t have improved over the years (or at least, I’d like to think I’ve improved. Haha!).

#3 Accepting Criticism

Oh, how we hate it when a stranger trashes our precious piece of work. What do they know, right? Sadly that’s reality, and it isn’t something we can escape.

I’ve had my fair share of criticisms – some harsh, some kind, some insulting, some gentle – and they all started on this blog. Though I must say, bloggers are generally nice. There is rarely any hate on the blogosphere, except for a tactless few. Dealing with different comments taught me to accept that there’s still room for improvement, that not everyone will like what I write, and that some people should be forgiven. It has taught me to embrace constructive and thoughtful criticism, and ignore those that leave nothing but heartache.

Unfortunately, this lesson has yet to end (and I doubt it ever will). There are times where I still struggle in facing harsh reviews on Goodreads, but my blog has prepped me in advance and for that I’m grateful.

#4 Believing In Myself

I won’t lie, I still doubt myself these days. But when I receive personal emails and read wonderful comments, I’m encouraged. Those words are like nitro to a car running dry. And without the faith of readers I’ve never met, I wouldn’t have shifted gears and started writing and posting original stories.

It it because of you that I braved myself and put up my own short stories and blog series’. It is because of you I stopped fearing being plagiarized (as though my writing was so awesome to begin with) and hit publish. It was because of you I stepped out of my comfort zone and attempted different genres.

The shift from fan fiction to original works was the biggest move I made on this blog. I was nervous because the readers then were mostly subscribed for my fan fictions. There was a probability that many would unsubscribe when I made the switch. Thankfully, no one did. And that itself made me believe in myself.

Yes, I still have doubtful days. Yes, I still question if I have what it takes. But your emails, comments, likes, and reblogs, have the power to turn those days around. Don’t think your comments are worthless. Your comments mean a lot to me and they make a big difference in this writing journey. So… would you like to leave a comment now? Oh, please do!

#5 Receiving Support

When I started the crowd-funding campaign for The Battle for Oz in October 2014 (wow, time really flies), I reached out to you on this platform. Though not everyone responded, some of you did. Now if you didn’t respond, please know I don’t hate you. I was a nobody… I still am. And I didn’t expect to receive an overwhelming support. But to the few that responded, supported the project, shared it with your family and friends, gave a shout out on your own blog, I am extremely grateful.

If it weren’t for this blog and the readers who were willing to back an unknown writer, The Battle for Oz wouldn’t be published. I’m hoping that one day, should I attempt another crowd-funding campaign, more of you would be onboard. Still, all the support I’ve received up to now has been a blessing. And I’m very thankful to have you as my reader.

Well, there you have it… my testimony of how blogging has helped me.

The biggest challenge for every blogger is the discipline to be consistent. It’s my challenge as well. Sometimes, I wish I could skip a week with a lame excuse. But knowing that blogging, even when I don’t feel like it, is helping me in my writing journey, I keep at it. So if you’ve lost the mood to blog or you’re growing tired of having to blog, I encourage you to keep going. Don’t give up so quickly. Blogging is the kind of activity that takes time before you see its fruits, so just be extra patient.

Now, for some quick shameless plugging: if you have no idea what to blog about, you can join my 3 Words 1 Story writing challenge. This once a month prompt should be able to help you produce at least one post a month. There are no rules and it’s fun. Go check it out! Okay, shameless plugging over.

I hope this post has been somewhat encouraging. I’m an advocate of blogging, not because it gives you a web presence, helps you reach out to fans, and all those things people say – which are true – to help you grow your business, but because blogging helps you polish your craft and gives you the courage to be better in it. You can do it for the business, but you should also do it for yourself.

As I like to say, always blog for YOU!

 
47 Comments

Posted by on March 10, 2016 in Writing Journey

 

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