Fourth NaNo’s a Charm?

For the past three years, I have failed at NaNoWriMo… and it was not for lack of ideas either. As of now, I have at least six ideas in mind that need – no, are begging – to be written, but have been forced to stay in the deepest, darkest recesses of my mind because I simply do not have the time. Life does not allow you to sit down and write when you’re juggling a team of 20 people, freelance work, housework and a growing social life… not to mention a hunger for reading that isn’t getting fulfilled either. Sigh.

BUT this year I have come prepared. This year I have equipped myself with the ultimate writing desk!


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The best things in life are surprising.

I am someone who has no patience for surprises. I have this urge to find out about things before they actually happen, and get all antsy when I don’t know what’s coming my way, even if I know for a fact that it will be good. When I think about it, it really is an amazing feat on my part that I do not flip to the last chapter with every book I read. But endings are sacred to me – and let’s face it, you can’t really enjoy an ending without knowing the beginning.

Still, I have to admit that sometimes it is better not to know.

I was jolted awake yesterday morning with the insistent ringing of my doorbell. I was greeted – after hobbling around for a couple of minutes frantically looking for pants to go with my short, short night shirt – with purple balloons, cake and streamers and a whole chorus of “Happy Birthday, Zen!” Let it be known that I have never been surprised on my birthday. I always expect or know what’s going on, and I already thought we had a plan for the day… so for them to show up at my door like that, I was actually so speechless I forgot to blow out my candles, and I just stood there with puffy eyes, grinning like an idiot, before I got pulled into hugs and kisses and a little bit of, “Zen, why are you in jeans?”


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It’s my favourite month again.

It’s been a year, but the best month has finally rolled around. Of course I’m a bit biased. Okay, very biased, but my birthday month trumps all. Around this time of year I list down reasons to try and convince you of the glory that is October. I’ll be doing that again this time, only… I have one more reason to celebrate.

You see, on the 18th of October, I will have made it through my first year of living here in Dubai, by myself, completely independently. This is a huge milestone. One of the biggest in my life. Many thought I couldn’t do it, that I’ll cave and go back to the shelter of my parents’ home in a few months, but… here we are. I don’t have everything figured out yet, but I feel genuinely proud that I’ve managed to come this far. Despite all the hardships and the struggles, I’m happy.

Now that we’ve got all the mushy stuff out of the way, let’s get on to the list. I know everybody likes a list.

tumblr_mtjjk0PQAT1qaxstho1_12801. FALL. In Dubai we don’t get to experience all the lovely colours of autumn, but the temperatures have definitely dipped. On my way to work the other day I actually enjoyed the littlest of cool breezes and didn’t arrive to the office in a melting mess. Continue reading

It’s that time of the year again… HAPPY CHOCOLATE DAY!

Well, technically, International Chocolate Day falls on the 13th of September, but I had driven myself into a sugar coma yesterday and absolutely could not muster up the energy to put up a post. That said, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t get a celebratory post even if it’s a day late, right?

Okay, okay. I just want an excuse to share pictures of the things I ate. I feel this would be best expressed through a timeline.

10 a.m. I had a delicious, warm, buttery chocolate croissant. The only thing that could’ve made it better is chocolate sprinkles.

#1 in Zen's Intl. Chocolate Day 2015 Celebrations

#1 in Zen’s Intl. Chocolate Day 2015 Celebrations

12 30 p.m. Lunch time. I opted for a triple chocolate muffin with a gooey chocolate centre that exploded in my mouth (and got all over my fingers) with each bite. It was one of the best muffins I’ve ever had.

#2 in Zen's Intl. Chocolate Day 2015 Celebrations

#2 in Zen’s Intl. Chocolate Day 2015 Celebrations

5 30 p.m. After work I went to my favourite sugar haunts, and after debating between a 10-tier chocolate cake and a Ferrero Rocher cheesecake, I opted for the cheesecake, thinking it would be lighter. Boy was I wrong. Continue reading

Puppet Parade is free on Kindle today & tomorrow!

THIS IS IT. I’ve waited a long time to do this, but I’m finally making use of KDP Select! My fantasy novel, Puppet Parade, is available for free download on Kindle today and tomorrow (21 & 22 August).

Sophie does not know how she looks like. For as long as she can remember, mirrors have been forbidden to her, and her appearance has been touted as hideous… a blemish on the face of her family. When she gets the chance to escape her locked room, she runs and never turns back.

Oliver has forgotten all about the outside world. As far as he is concerned, he only needs his precious puppets to survive. Yet, when they come to life and abandon him without a second thought, he is forced to leave the sheltering comfort of his workshop in search of them.

As they embark together on a wild goose chase for the runaway puppets, they unwittingly step into a prison more sinister than either of them could ever imagine, where the line between puppet and master becomes much less clear – and much more deadly.

Do grab a copy, spread the word if it’s not too much trouble! Meanwhile I’ll sit here and eat my celebratory cake and try not to worry too much about my book stats. xD


Editing is a HUGE pain.

Nearly a year ago, I asked you all to pretend my book didn’t exist. I had become extremely critical of my old writing, and I could no longer bear having a book that I did not feel proud to read myself, let alone ask others to do so. So I started working on the second edition. I did not imagine it would take so long, but so many things have happened in the last year and I really, really fell behind.

BUT I’M DONE NOW. Finally oh my god. I did not think it would ever be over.

I have edited Puppet Parade to a point where I could read it without cringing inwardly. I don’t think it’s perfect now, but at least I don’t hate it, right? Right?

The book has now gone from 131 thousand words to a little shy of 105 thousand – that’s around 26 thousand words deleted, each unnecessary, a filler that added nothing to the story, but I was too hung up on these words. I didn’t want to kill them. This time, however, I hacked and slashed without a moment’s hesitation. Here are some things I noticed in this blood bath: Continue reading

Letting Go

I have always found it difficult to let go. I could probably describe myself as a hoarder… of things, feelings, relationships, jobs… I have a collection of currencies that I began when I was six, and a collection of boarding passes that I’ve started since 2007. I also collect cards, pens, notebooks, books and even broken gadgets. Once a thing acquires any sort of sentimental value, no matter how small, I cannot bring myself to throw it away. Once I become emotionally invested in something or someone, I can never forget about them or the feelings they’ve left within me.

I’m supposed to be on holiday now, taking a break from the stress of months and months of exhausting work. But I cannot stop thinking about it. I can’t stop worrying about what’s going on. I check my email regularly, I try to make sure everything’s going smoothly. I can’t wait to get back so I can grab the reigns again. It’s terrible.  Continue reading