Books · General · Writing

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 my favourite month again.”

Books · Reading · Writing

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

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Books · Writing

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 “Editing is a HUGE pain.”

General · Writing

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 “Letting Go”

Books · Reading · Writing

Fantasy isn’t literature.

“People who write fantasy and science fiction, like you [Brandon Sanderson], J. K. Rowling and many others… you aren’t authors; you’re writers. And these books are definitely not literature because they’re not real.”

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a panel discussion on the merits of children’s literature and how reading and a sense of curiosity and wonder should always be nurtured. The wonderful Brandon Sanderson – author of the Mistborn series –  was there, and he spoke about his own experience with books and writing, and how – as a kid – he only became a reader when his teacher introduced him to fantasy. When all was said and done, one crusty critic blatantly told Sanderson that he doesn’t consider him or the likes of J. K. Rowling to be proper authors, just writers, and fantasy, science-fiction… that’s not literature, simply because it isn’t real.

A fantasy writer myself and a huge fan of Rowling and Sanderson’s work, I was seething. How dare he? But then Sanderson gave such a gratifying answer that left everyone clapping and the man looking around in defeat. He questioned this obsession with reality, what’s so wrong about things that aren’t real, what’s so wrong about imagining things? After all, there were many things that we currently have that weren’t real at some point, and would never have been if man hadn’t thought about them and imagined to be real. That power, that sense of wonder, is important to hold on to. Of course, he didn’t answer in so few words, but that was the gist of it. Continue reading “Fantasy isn’t literature.”

Writing

The Life Enthusiast Chronicles with Zen

The lovely Britt was kind enough to host me on her blog recently! It was nice to talk about the things that make me tick – namely sweets – and the little Zen inside me that I refuse to ever let go. 🙂

Britt Skrabanek

Last month Julie of Les Petits Pas de Juls showed us what it’s like to drop everything, go absorb every ounce of life, and make your own way. In my monthly series, The Life Enthusiast Chronicles, gorgeous human beings from all over talk about what makes them excited to be alive.

Today I’m so happy to bring you guys this lovely gal I know all the way in Dubai, Zen from Zen Scribbles. Zen has been one of my faves for a long time. When I read her posts, it’s like seeing life for the first time. With her delightful views on books, chocolate, and more reading, and more dessert, her sweetness remains with you long after you’ve left her blog.

That kind of youthful joie de vivre is exactly why I asked Zen to be a Life Enthusiast. 

Connect with Zen on Twitter.


Like others before me, I want to thank Britt for this…

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Books · Reading · Writing

Farewell, Sir Terry.

2015-03-13 19.39.28Yesterday Terry Pratchett, author of the brilliant Discworld series, passed away at the age of 66. To say I wasn’t shocked by the news would be a lie. Even though I knew he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and could no longer write his books without the help of his assistant, I still couldn’t accept that his death was imminent. Like… I don’t think anyone could even accept the possibility that J. K. Rowling would cease to exist one day, or even Stephen King. These authors have become so ingrained in the literary world that it would be impossible to imagine it without them. Though… I guess if you think about it, authors are forever immortal. As long as you always see their names on the shelves, they’re never really dead, are they? I’m comforted by the fact that later this year one last Discworld book will be published, one that Sir Terry finished writing a few months ago.

At times like this, I feel the best way to remember these authors is to share some of their best quotes. Here are some of my favourites.

The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.

Continue reading “Farewell, Sir Terry.”

General · Inanity · Reading · Writing

A Bibliophile’s Packing Dilemma

I’m moving on Friday, to a whole new job, a whole new city, a whole new country in fact. I’m excited and terrified at the same time. This is a whole new level of independence and responsibility that I’ve never had before, and knowing me, I will either screw up badly or do brilliantly. There’s no middle ground.

One of the things I’m really looking forward to is having my own place and furnishing it the way I like (priorities, amirite?). I’ve started looking at apartment listings and furniture catalogues already. I have visions of myself strolling through IKEA, seeing my perfect living room/bed room and saying, “This is it. This is so me.” I am also on the lookout for the perfect bookshelf… which brings us to the title of this post.

HOW THE HELL DO I CHOOSE WHICH BOOKS TO TAKE?

*clears throat*

Books, I’ve discovered, are very heavy indeed. 10 paperbacks and 5 hardbacks together weight 6.7 kg (14.7) pounds. I’m only allowed 40 kg for my flight, of which 10 kg have already been taken up by the weight of my bags themselves. Speaking of bags, I had absolutely no idea they could cost so much; I was so shocked! Anyway. I have about 400 books on my shelves, out of which there are 65 books I haven’t read it (give or take). My first solution?

Read All the Books

I thought I was making good progress. I was reading one book per day. But with a sinking feeling, I realised that if I were to read all my books before leaving, I would need to go through at least 6 per day. Impossible. Distraught, I started thinking of other tactics. Continue reading “A Bibliophile’s Packing Dilemma”

Reading · Writing

Is my name against me?

Zeinab Alayan. 

If you were browsing the shelves of a bookstore and came upon a book with that name printed across the cover, what would you do? Would you ignore it, regardless of how interesting it seemed, and move on to another book written by a clearly English native? Or would you give it your time of day because in the end it’s the story that matters?

I know that most of us would say that we’d pick it up. It’s the morally right answer. A book is a book regardless of who writes it. It shouldn’t matter if the author is English or Arabic or Indian or whatever else. Yet I can’t help but think that this is the answer we want to give, not the one we’re subconsciously thinking. Maybe we do discriminate against people with foreign/exotic names without even realising it. I mean… I only caught myself doing it recently… allowing my eyes to glaze over English books with Arabic authors in favour of books with English authors.

I paused. Then I felt disgusted with myself. Then I felt like a hypocrite. For so many years I’ve wondered if the fact that I was an Arab had anything to do with the fact that many agents wouldn’t even look at my manuscript, and now I end up doing the same to others. Continue reading “Is my name against me?”

Reading · Writing

Don’t read my book!

Yes, you heard me. I don’t want anyone reading  the book I worked so hard to write. Not indefinitely, of course, but at least until I correct my horrendous writing mistakes. There are two reasons I avoid reading my books after I’ve published them:  1) I don’t want to find that I’ve missed some awful typos (like writing “nut” instead of “but), and 2) I don’t want to see how bad my writing is.

Sigh.

When they tell you that a writer is their own worst critic, they are definitely not joking. Seeing the words I wrote nearly three years ago makes me cringe. Heck, seeing the words I wrote five months ago makes me cringe. On one hand, that’s a good thing because it means I’m improving and my writing is becoming better and better, but on the other, it means I don’t like anything I published in the past. I’m almost embarrassed by it. Continue reading “Don’t read my book!”