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!”

Reading · Writing

My Book Hangover

My eyes are bloodshot and my mind groggy after staying up until 9 a.m. today trying to meet a work deadline. Of course, that would not have happened if I’d put the book I’d been reading aside instead of making up my mind to finish it because supposedly I could not focus until it was over. Before I knew it, the clock struck midnight and I had over 10 pages to translate and 30 to edit.

This series has managed to do the impossible and made me love it as much as I love Harry Potter.
This series has managed to do the impossible and made me love it as much as I love Harry Potter.

I usually am able to curb my book hunger, but last night was just impossible. I was reading the third book in the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson – The Hero of Ages. I don’t often review books on my blog unless they’re indies, but this one series had such a profound impact on me that it really does deserve a mention. I’d never before come across a book with a political and magic system so extensive and complex, or one with so many vibrant characters, where every single person had a part to play. The story had so many twists and turns that I could never, not in a million years, see coming. After every book I sat down in awe of the sheer brilliance of the author and his ability to keep his characters alive in my head long after I’d replaced his books on the shelf. Continue reading “My Book Hangover”

Food · Reading · Writing

Sweet Snapshot Sunday #3

It’s time for another one of those posts where I share drool-worthy pictures with the masses and giggle with glee as hunger starts bubbling within you and… er, I mean… what? I don’t do anything like that. I don’t.

*clears throat*

Work has been hectic as always, but I finally allowed myself to leave the house for a few hours and expose myself to some sun. I swear I am so pale you would not believe me if I said I was experiencing my hottest summer in years. Plus I was getting very crabby and was desperate for a breather. I went to one of my favourite “sweet haunts” – Magnolia Bakery. Next to my No. 1 dessert – the Snickers Icebox Pie – I had a Chocolate Chunk Blondie with a layer of chocolate on top aaaand a Vanilla & Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake.

They were all very delicious. =D

Vanilla & Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake
Vanilla & Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake 

Continue reading “Sweet Snapshot Sunday #3”

Reading · Writing

A Writer Who Doesn’t Write.

Of all the things I’ve been neglecting lately and pushing back to the deepest, darkest corner of my mind, I think my writing has collected the most dust. I’m not just referring to blogging – though that has started to  gather some cobwebs – but rather, to what allows me to call myself a writer.

cobwebs

When I first published Puppet Parade in 2012, I was determined to release at least one book a year. More than two years have passed since then and I have yet to make a dent in that resolution. It’s not that I don’t have ideas or works-in-progress, as it happens I have one completed first draft and two novels in the making… and about a dozen ideas for future novels. The problem is that I lack time. Continue reading “A Writer Who Doesn’t Write.”

General · Reading · Writing

How to Choose Your Next Read.

It’s finally come to the point where I have more than 200 books in my possession that I’ve got to read – 60 physical books and around 15o eBooks. It is extremely daunting, and I often spend time gazing at my overflowing shelves or scrolling through the long list on my reader and wondering how the heck will I find the time to read them all, especially if I want to find time to write and work. Of course it would help if I would stop buying more books, but I have no self-control whatsoever. I’ve shared some pictures of my shelves a while back, but here’s how they look now:

I have no more room. As beautiful as all these books look, I'm also terrified by them. Did I mention that they're right above my bed?
I have no more room. As beautiful as all these books look, I’m also terrified by them. Did I mention that they’re right above my bed?

With so many books comes a great dilemma, the greatest dilemma of them all – which book should I read next? If you’ve come here hoping I would answer that question for you, you might end up being disappointed, because I’m at a loss myself. I mean, I’ve tried a couple of ideas… Continue reading “How to Choose Your Next Read.”

Food · General · Inanity

My Vacation in Pictures

Going for nearly three years without a proper vacation can do terrible things to someone’s mental health, especially if that particular someone is a workaholic. So during the month of April, I went away on vacation… which would explain my long absence from the blogosphere. It was something I desperately needed, at a time when I was dealing with a lot of personal issues and work was starting to take its toll on me.

I went to UAE for 20 days during which I stayed with one of my best friends. We had a blast I swear. It was so much fun, so amazing, that it was difficult to imagine anything else. When I woke up in my own room after I came back, it took me a moment to register that I was not in my friend’s place anymore, especially since I’d come to consider it home more than anywhere else. Still though, I had a really good time.  Continue reading “My Vacation in Pictures”

Food · General · Reading

My cure for a bad week.

I’ve been having a less than stellar week, some bad things happened that culminated with the loss of my tablet, the one I use for reading eBooks. To say I was upset would be understatement; I went to bed and cried into my pillow for a bit after the incident happened. I’m coming to terms with it now, and I’m already looking for a (cheaper) replacement as I’ve completely given up hope on retrieving it.

So today I decided to treat myself, and those who read my blog know that there’s no better way to cheer me up than with books and sweets! Yes, folks, it’s time for one of those posts again. I’m thinking it should be a regular segment on this blog! 😉

I discovered that we have the Magnolia Bakery here in Lebanon (I’m guessing some of my American readers will recognize the name). As is the case with any new discovery, I tend to splurge. My sister and I shared a slice of red velvet cake, a Snickers icebox pie with cream cheese frosting, a mini caramel pecan cheesecake, a mini white chocolate macadamia nut cheesecake and finally, a cheese marbled brownie. I was on a sugar high.

An extreme sugar high.

Continue reading “My cure for a bad week.”

General · Writing

I miss writing.

I haven’t written a single word in any of my WIPs in a long, long time… approximately eight months. I haven’t even done any editing on my novel that I was supposed to publish last year, titled The Muse Bunny. I have all but completely neglected my blog, which I used to try to update at least once a week. I miss it terribly, more than I can express. It’s not a case of Writer’s Block, and it’s not that I lack inspiration… it’s more because my creativeness is almost fully contractually bound.

In July 2013 I signed a game writer contract, and it has been a blast. I feel this will be the best job I ever have during my entire life time, and it saddens me that my contract will end next month and I’ll be back to scouring the job market in April… but at the same time, a tiny part of me is glad… the part that yearns to write something that’s actually mine, something that does not fall under the property of the company producing this video game. Continue reading “I miss writing.”

General · Inanity · Writing

Rescue me from your spam queues!

The defendant, Zen of Zen Scribbles, writer, editor and chocoholic extraordinaire, charged with spamming the blogs of several innocents here on WordPress and disturbing their peace, pleads innocent! She has always left comments relevant to the subject matter being discussed in the post, and even when she had nothing substantial to say, she tried her best to be supportive in the very least.

It was a bit shocking for her to find out that for some reason the claimant, Akismet, had flagged her and thrown her into the darkest corners of the blogosphere along with genuine spam, where she was subjected to grammatically incompetent Chinese advertisements and overly enthusiastic individuals singing the praises of blogs they had never read. Not to mention the ones that looked so normal it was difficult to discern whether they were trying to trick her or not. It was a nightmare! If she wasn’t simply interested in being released, she would have pressed charges on the grounds of abuse and mistreatment!

The defendant turns to the jury and pleads with them to review the quality of her comments and decide for themselves whether they are really so bad to warrant being given the spam treatment and banished away from the public.

So… yeah, haha… I’ve found out that the comments I’ve been leaving are getting marked as spam. 😦 It would be awesome if you could rescue me from there, otherwise Akismet will keep flagging me and that’s… well, that’s just mean. Unless, of course, you do not like my comments… so feel free to ignore this message. >.>

While we’re on the topic, do you tend to check your spam folder at all? Have you ever been marked as spam yourself?