If I wasn’t a writer, what would I be?

I had a weird dream last night… as is typical with all my dreams, but I digress. I dreamt that I was a writer, traditionally published and successful and famous beyond my wildest dreams. Then along came a witch, and for some unknown reason she cursed me, sent me back to my childhood, took away that one moment that turned me into a writer.

My alarm went off then, and I didn’t know what had become of my dream self, but the mere idea of leading a life without books and writing kinda freaked me out. I have been a bibliophile for as long as I remember, and it never occurred to me that I could’ve been thrown into a reality where I wasn’t. I suppose I’ve been fortunate enough to have parents who liked to read, who took me to book fairs and allowed me to buy the books I wanted. If our circumstances had been different, if they were uneducated or poor, then I might have never learned to embrace books. I would have never considered seeing what my own words would look like on paper.

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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

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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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

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?

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

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.

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