Books · Reading · Writing

2015 in Reading

At the beginning of 2015, I challenged myself to read 60 books, upping the number from 50 books in 2014. Unfortunately, 2015 was difficult. Very difficult. Though I tried to maintain a positive attitude throughout the year, I think now that it was mostly all on the surface, and my happy façade started deteriorating towards the end. Many things happened, and – caught up in the midst of it all – I was only able to read 33 books.

Goodreads believed in me till the very last minute, but I sadly failed it.
Goodreads believed in me till the very last minute, but I sadly failed it.

Actually… some may argue that I didn’t really read 33 “books”, because 22 of these were graphic novels and manga volumes. Now I don’t know about you, but I consider these to be books, because creating a graphic novel requires the same work and trouble that go into creating a novel, if not even more. So they do count towards my challenge and that’s that! Continue reading “2015 in Reading”

Books · Reading · Writing

If I weren’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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Continue reading “If I weren’t a writer, what would I be?”

General · Writing

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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Continue reading “Fourth NaNo’s a Charm?”

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.”

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.”

Food · General

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

Continue reading “Sweet Snapshot Sunday #4”