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

IMG_20150821_154406

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.”

Books · Reading

Introducing my new bookcase!

I raided my local IKEA recently, and part of my loot was a gorgeous black-brown BILLY bookcase. It arrived on Saturday, and I have spent the last couple of days contemplating how best to arrange my books. You see, I’m not used to having so much space. Usually my books have to double-line or sit on top of each other or squeezed super tightly together, but this bookcase is big… bigger than anything I’ve had. Of course, it helps that I don’t have all my books here with me; I had to leave them all behind in my parents’ house when I moved, but I am planning to rectify this.

When my friends asked how I plan to arrange my shelves, I promptly said, without any hesitation, “By height, of course!” They groaned and called me old-fashioned and told me to think of a more original way to arrange everything. And… well, I thought they could have a point there. New bookcase, new rules, right? This is the result.

The bookcase is six shelves in total, but I don't have enough books with me to fill 'er up.
The bookcase is six shelves in total, but I don’t have enough books with me to fill ‘er up.

There are two things to note here:

  1. For the first time in my life, I did not arrange my books by height. Just you wait though, I’m sure my OCD will drive me nuts by the weekend.
  2. The pretty colour transition! I love looking at it! I experimented a bit, tried arranging them by series, then by genre and by author name, but then turned back to this pattern. True, it means that books of the same series aren’t nestled together, but… for now I think it’s lookin’ good!

What do you think? Should I keep it this way or switch to another shelving pattern? How do you arrange your books?

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.”

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.”

Books · General

2014 in Reading

2014-12-30 01.48.33
Last book of 2014!

2014 was many things… good, bad and ugly… but at least it did not throw any 1-star books at me! Of course a lot has changed in the course of this year, and I’ve had a lot to reflect upon… but the one constant has remained my love for reading (and determination to beat the Goodreads Reading Challenge). Around this time of year, I like to look at my stats and pick out the few that really stuck with me. And okay, okay, I’ve read some books that made me feel that I’ve wasted my time, but I still think I’ve had a pretty decent share of good ones, and I wrapped up the year with a pretty book (and some amazing sweets but that’s besides the point)! But first, let’s see how I checked out on the resolutions front!

DONE

  • I read 50 books in 2014! It was a close call, having finished the 50th book yesterday, but I made it!
  • I read one children’s novel and one middle grade novel and liked the latter more. That is important because the children’s one was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and I wasn’t all that enamored by it.
  • I didn’t stop reading any books! On a roll for more than two years now!
  • I’ve written a review for every single book I read this year. I even went back and wrote reviews for some books I read years ago.
  • I was not lured by pretty covers. Well, I was lured by a book or two, but I think I improved!

Continue reading “2014 in Reading”

Reading

Bookish Questions!

Lately I’ve been quite busy with my apartment hunt and finally finding a place and moving into it that I haven’t had the chance to visit this blog much. I’m still epic busy, but I’m gradually settling in and will write a post about it later, but until then, here’s a book meme I stole from Maggie – it looked like fun! Feel free to answer them yourself! 😀

You have 20,000 books on your to-read list. How in the world do you decide what to read next?
I don’t. I have enough trouble deciding with 60 books on my to-read list, let alone 20k! The best way to go about this would be an automatic book generator or something, because let’s face it, eeny meeny miny moe won’t get past the first 20 to 30 books! 



You’re halfway through a book and you’re just not loving it. Do you quit or are you committed?
Committed to the very last page, though I start skipping passages if I get too bored. The only time I’ve quit a book is when the content became way too explicit for me, borderline an erotica.

The end of the year is coming and you’re so close, but so far away on your Goodreads reading challenge. Do you try to catch up and how?
That happened to me once. I cheated and lowered the number of books. >.> I’m so ashamed. Thankfully, right now I’m just one book away from winning my 50 books challenge, so yay. Continue reading “Bookish Questions!”

Reading

Rebuilding My Bookshelves

One of the most difficult things about my move to a different country is the fact that I had to leave more than 90% of my books behind. They were too heavy and there was no way I could cram them all into my suitcases… unless I was prepared not to pack anything else. So I only brought twenty books with me, and they’ve been looking at me forlornly from their single small shelf since I got to Dubai… so sad was their appearance that I had to find them company. Fast.

My big pile o' books.
My big pile o’ books.

I arrived here on the 18th of October. Since then I’ve accumulated 11 news books, bringing my total to a whopping 31. I’m trying hard not to bring that number up anymore for the time being, but it’s proving to be so incredibly difficult. The bookshops here are absolutely lovely, and far bigger and better than anything I found back in Lebanon. One particular bookshop, Kinokuniya, was so big I needed four hours to browse through it. And even then I was barely thorough. I was so overwhelmed by the fact that there were many books there that I’d been looking for and hadn’t been able to find before. My wallet complained. Loudly.

So yeah. I bought a lot of books. And I found myself buying a lot of hardcovers too. I usually buy paperbacks, but in the face of all the gorgeous hardcovers I came across I could not resist. This country has corrupted me. But for now, I’m just going to highlight a few of my favourite picks! Continue reading “Rebuilding My Bookshelves”

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?”