Salut, mes pivoines! ♡ As I write this paragraph, I am currently sitting at my kitchen table wearing a very, very comfortable sweater that I got yesterday from Ardene. (I love sweaters. Well, who doesn’t?) But as much as I love me some sweaters, they are unfortunately not the topic for today’s post. Maybe another time. I could write a sweater review. (Okay, I’m getting way off topic again. Forgive me!) Today, as part of the Imagine Anthology Blog Tour, I’ll be featuring the lovely Grace A. Johnson in an interview as well as providing some insight, fun extras and behind-the-scenes into the story I wrote for the anthology!
Now, you might be wondering, “wait, anthology? Why didn’t you mention this?” Well, a while ago, the lovely team at Teen Writers’ Nook hosted a short story contest, with the prize being published in an anthology! I chose not to talk about it because I was writing under a pen name, but, well, I couldn’t not sign up for the blog tour… so I guess y’all know now just who Grey S. Park is. *coughs* Anyways… after my interview with Miss Grace, I’ll be sharing a brief insight into what the writing process was like, and a few fun graphics as well! So buckle up and hang on for the ride!
As part of the blog tour today, I’m interviewing my very close friend and fellow Imagine published author, Grace A. Johnson, about her writing life and about her story that was published, Cursed. (Note: the first five questions were put together by the wonderful Issabelle Perry, and the rest are mine!) So, without further ado, Miss Grace!
Was this the first time you’ve ever written a short story? If so, what was something you learned through the process? If not, what do you enjoy about writing short stories?
This was definitely not my first time writing a short story! I’ve actually written and published a few others! I’ll admit that short stories are really difficult for me, because even though I’m not a plotter, I like to know a lot about my characters and the purpose of my story before writing – so with a shorter work, I can sometimes end up spending twice the time developing my character(s) than I do actually writing the story. Otherwise, I like how impactful they are, even in such short form, and how they can be fun glimpses into other styles/genres!
Where did you get the inspiration for your short story? Was it a particular song, book, or something else?
Hmm…that’s a hard one, because the idea for Cursed has actually been around for quite some time, so I can’t remember what exactly inspired it, but I do know that it’s kind of my version of Sleeping Beauty. Well, not the short story, but the rest of the story, which I hope to write as a full-length novel at some point! I love fairytale retellings, but I can’t stand how cliche they are, so I decided to put my spin on Sleeping Beauty by making her a sleeping soul – or, technically, a ghost!
What has been one thing you’ve learned after going through the process to be published in the Imagine Anthology?
One thing I learned? The girls at TWN had to work their butts off to pull all this off! Haha, otherwise, I learned about how helpful editors can be, since I never had any until Kat and Issabelle started editing Cursed! They caught things I couldn’t and helped me make my story clearer! Not to mention they both had some super encouraging things to say!
Can you give us a fun fact of something that happened during the writing and/or editing process? Hilarious typo? Weird fact you had to search? Best edit you received?
M’kay, y’all are gonna laugh at this one. Issabelle messaged me one day, when I was like on the last round of edits, asking if my main character was a girl or a boy. *facepalm* I hadn’t realized that I gave no indication of my MC’s gender in the story at all! Of course, she’s a girl, but I never mentioned that or her name, so I ended up going back in and trying to allude to that. Strange, right?
Do you have any words of inspiration for other young authors?
Always! The best advice I can ever give you is to write for an audience of One. Not for the critics, the peanut gallery, the market, or even your family and friends. They are always gonna have something to say, find something wrong with what you’re doing, or some two cents to put in. But that doesn’t matter. You can’t please everyone, but you can please God, so put Him first in all you do and you will succeed!
Also, don’t ever let anyone put you down because of your age, what you write, or your convictions on anything. God has given you the desire and the ability to write for His purposes, and He’s gonna see you through and equip you with all you’ll need! Don’t ever doubt your calling! Especially if it’s because of the naysayers.
What was the first story you ever wrote about?
Oh, gosh. That’s a tough one, because there’s my first story story, my first novel, and the first ever thing I actually wrote…eh, why not give you all three! The first thing I ever wrote was a story about a princess…actually, make that two sentences about a princess. I was five, maybe. My first story was a mystery based on true events…of my sister and me in Sunday School. And my first novel was about four thirteen-year-old girls who became secret agents. (So original, I know. XD)
Those are some interesting first projects! What first inspired you to write?
Books. In fact, it was Melanie Dickerson’s fairytale retellings that first inspired me to write write (as in, write with the intention of doing something with the writing XD). Once I started reading her books, I started coming up with new things to daydream about! Eventually, those daydreams became outlines for stories!
Oh, daydreaming is the best way to form ideas for stories. Now, a very hard question for you… who is your least favourite of all your characters and why?
My least favorite character? Lord, girl, that’s tough. I honestly don’t think I have a least favorite…I like all my characters for different reasons…but if I had to pick the one who gives me the most grief, it’d be Xavier. And my new character in Bound and Determined, Quinn, he’s extremely difficult for me to write and present the way I want to, so he’s on the not-my-favorite list, for sure!
Oh, characters can be so frustrating! Beyond your Daughters of the Seven Seas series, is there anything else you’re working on/going to work on?
Currently, Bound and Determined is my largest project, upon which I am placing the most focus, as it is a strenuous piece requiring lots of time and attention. At the moment, it is just over 160,000 words and somewhere around 615 pages long. I hope to complete it by the end of the year with a total of 200,000 words at the most – then I will edit it extensively. However, I am also working on Something Bright and Beautiful, although I make no promises as to the amount of progress I will make on it. As of yet, I have written about 600 words. It is to be a direct continuation of my 9/11 short story, Daylight. Also, I am working on Remember Me When, a speculative historical YA romance with Issabelle Perry. I’ve written about 1k in that, with hopes of completely the first chapter soon. On top of that, I have a few other projects on the backburner that I would like to finish outlining and begin drafting; however, I am too busy to start on any of them now.
I hope Bound and Determined shapes up for you! What has been your favourite project to work on and why?
My favorite? Hmm…I’ve worked on SO MANY!! But one that I really enjoyed and that was very smooth for me was The Gift of Her Heart, my Christmas novella! It was so romantic and humorous!
That’s awesome! Are there any topics that interest you to potentially write about?
Mysteries are on the top of the list! Otherwise, I think I’ve toyed with a little bit of everything!
Mysteries are always fun. Are there any genres you hate writing/reading/hearing about?
Any genres I hate? Um, no? I like them all, to be honest! It’s just specific content like magic and homosexuality that I’m not too keen on… to put it lightly.
Oh, I completely understand that. Is there anything you want readers to take away from your writing?
Definitely! I want God to use my words however He will – whether that’s to prick the hearts of nonbelievers or reveal new truths to Christian readers. He weaves specific messages into each story, and I can’t wait to see how He uses them!
That’s awesome! Last question of mine: any words of advice to writers who have just begun writing?
Always! 😉 When you’re first beginning, you’re either extremely enthusiastic or beating yourself up (I did both XD). Always stay upbeat about your writing, but don’t grow complacent. Read more. Learn more. Write more. Try new things and improve in whatever way you can. But don’t force yourself to be perfect while writing your very first novel – that sounds nice, but it’s close to impossible. Make sense? I also recommend connecting with other writers – communities like Kingdom Pen and Story Embers are great places to do so, or even a blog like the amazing Teen Writers’ Nook! You’ll always need encouragement and support from fellow writers!
Thank you so much for interviewing me!! This was a ton of fun!
Thank you very much for answering my questions, Grace! It was an honour to have you on my blog!
My pleasure! It’s an honor to be here!
So that concludes the feature of Grace A. Johnson on my blog! Thank you so much for letting me interview you, Grace; it was very interesting to get to dig into your writing life! Grace featured me on her blog as part of the blog tour recently, so if you’re interested in that, you can read my interview here!
Now, we’ll have a look at how my story evolved, and maybe even get to see some exclusive character and story graphics, too. 😉
The writing process for Angel was a rather interesting one. I had originally written the story simply because I wanted to write a short story (I have a habit of just randomly sitting down and writing a short story in, like, one or two days because I just feel like it, haha). No information about Imagine had come out yet, so I was simply writing a story for fun.
For those who have read my story, you’ll be interested to know how the plot changed and grew over time.
The story started from a tiny little seed, a sentence prompt that my older sister gave me. I can’t remember what the original prompt was word-for-word, but it was something about the wind being in between the trees, filling all the gaps in the world, or something like that. (Props to my sis for thinking that up!) That sentence didn’t make it directly into the story, but ended up inspiring the scene in Angel where Jungsoon and Minji sit in the tree.
The original idea of the story was an interesting one. Jungsoon was originally named Jinyoon, and Minji was only supposed to be a minor character. Had I stuck with the original idea I conceived, the story would have been about a college student named Jinyoon having to deal with a narcissistic girlfriend named Soonha, having relationship struggles, eventually getting into a fight and breaking up with her.
Obviously, the idea changed a lot. There are no girlfriends in it now. 😂 After a little bit of drafting, I decided to make Minji be a bit more of a prominent character. So I decided that the main character would break up with his girlfriend in order to spend time with his little sister.
But after a little more drafting, the idea of the girlfriend felt too strange. The story just wasn’t working for me, so I completely spun the plot on its head, ripped Soonha out, and decided to replace the conflict she would have given with the bullying dudes instead. And from there, the idea flowed very nicely! After I’d done that, it was much easier to write. Lesson learnt: don’t be afraid to change the plot of a story. It is not fun having to force out a story that feels stagnant and doesn’t come to you nicely.
Once I was done, the information for Imagine came out shortly after. I got one of my friends to look over the first draft of the story, accepted her edits, and submitted my story to the contest! From there, the editing process was honestly a very positive experience. I’m extremely grateful to Issabelle for making such a boring thing as editing so fun! She caught things that I had missed and it was very enlightening to look at how the editing process went. I also learned that I hate rereading my short stories after some time has gone by! 😂
To be honest, I feel like my story could have been somewhat better. I feel like what I wrote was uninteresting in comparison to what everyone else had written, but I wrote what I wrote and it’s a big milestone that I was able to be published, so I’m going to put my personal fretting aside and just be grateful for that. Teen Writers’ Nook has been such a Godsend and I’m very thankful for those wonderful young ladies over there! So a HUGE thank you so much, TWN team!!! ♡
Now, everyone likes graphics, don’t we? Well, you’re lucky today, because you get to see three exclusive graphics pertaining to Angel – one for Jungsoon’s character, one for Minji’s, and one for the story overall! (Note: all images are sourced from either Canva or Unsplash.)
First up, Jungsoon’s collage. I think these images represent him pretty well! I used a picture of bleeding heart flowers in it to represent all of the physical and emotional pain he goes through in the story. The colours are muted to represent how he repressed, muted, his own hurt so that Minji wouldn’t know.
Minji’s collage! I think bright colours go with her playful, bright attitude while also showcasing her youthfulness. If memory serves, she’s the youngest of all my book characters, being only a fifth-grader! Actually, here’s an idea that just came to mind… should I write another story with Minji as the POV character? I’m actually rather fond of her now, come to think of it! Let me know what you think!
And finally, the graphic representing Angel overall. I think these images represent the feeling of the story pretty well, even if a bit inadvertently. 🙂
And that’s all for today! I hope that you enjoyed this post and that you’re interested in reading Angel in the Imagine anthology. A HUGE thank you to the girls at Teen Writers’ Nook, because without them, none of this would have ever happened. Thank you so, so, so, so, so much. It’s been such a rewarding experience and I wish to work with them again in the future. (Make a note, readers: if you need someone really nice to edit your story and possibly even publish you at some point, go to Teen Writers’ Nook!)
Please consider buying the Imagine anthology; it would mean so much to me and to the other authors who put so much time and care into making this anthology happen. It’s been such a wonderful experience and I would love to know what you all think of my story and the thirteen others in the anthology. You can order Imagine on Kindle Unlimited and as a paperback here, or you can put it on your Goodreads shelf here. Again, it would mean so much to have a copy of our works in your hands.
Thanks for reading today’s post! It was a rather lengthy one, haha, but worth it in the end. I hope you all enjoyed, and I look forwards to meeting you in the comments below!
Toodles, noodles, and doodles,
~ Kads ♡