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

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

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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Sweet Snapshot Sunday #4

One post ago I mentioned that I was going to be moving. At the time, I didn’t really believe it. Even though I was packing and having such a difficult time deciding which books I should take with me, it still hadn’t sunk it that in a few days time I was going to find myself in an entirely different country. For some reason this made me very depressed, and I was susceptible to random bouts of crying.

Thankfully, that’s behind me now. I guess I should give a bit more information… I’ve moved to Dubai, UAE. Some of you might remember that I’ve spent the first 19 years of my life there before eventually going to Lebanon. This country is more of a home to me than my actual home country. It’s where I grew up, it’s where I feel comfortable, it’s where I feel free to be myself. It’s changed a bit in the few years I was away, it grew and developed… but I still see in it the home I once left behind.

But I’m happy now. I’m starting my independent life. I take the metro to work every day, I have morning walks by the edge of the lake on my way to the office, I’m taking charge of my work, I’m hunting for an apartment, I’m getting all my paperwork in order… and I’m also of course discovering all the new dessert spots in town. ;)

Triple Chocolate Cake

Triple Chocolate Cake

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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