Writing

Virtual Australian Muslim Writers Festival!

I’m so excited to share the news about the very first Virtual Australian Muslim Writers Festival, from Sept 25 to 2 Oct. Please share widely and register – it’s free! I’m looking forward to refilling my creative cup. It’s always so validating for me to listen to Muslim writers, and Aussie Muslim writers hold a special place in my heart.


podcast

Podcast coming soon

I’m so excited to share that I’ll be uploading my very first podcast episode very soon. Stay tuned!

I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to drop me suggestions on my Contact Me page. My discussion topics will include:

  • How I got an agent
  • Surviving querying
  • Improving writing craft
  • How to finish writing your first draft
  • How to revise your book
  • What’s it like being mother-writer
  • Coping with working from home with small children in lockdown
  • My favourite books for different age ranges
  • Maintaining my authenticity as a Muslim woman of colour
  • Dealing with rejection
  • Finding the right writing mentor(s), critique partners and beta readers

Fantasy, Life, Love, Writing

My latest SBS Voices piece is up!

I’m thrilled to share my latest op ed on SBS Voices: Malay phrases I won’t be using on my children.

Speaking of being a mother and a writer, this article resonated with me SO MUCH: The Heartbreaking Ingenuity of the Mother-Writer. I could read this article a billion times and love it more each time. Only fellow mother-writers could relate to the creative, exhausting, hair/hijab-pulling methods we use to get our words down!!

As many of you would know, I am an avid SFF (science fiction and fantasy) fan. My latest obsession is the Green Bone saga by the brilliant Fonda Lee. Jade Legacy is coming out in November, and Fonda Lee has started up a one-year-only Patreon which gives patrons exclusive access TO COOL THINGS. Her series is incredible! Asian-inspired, which I absolutely love. No shortage of strong, complex female characters alongside believable male leads.

I absolutely love Fonda Lee’s Jade City and Jade Legacy. One thing she wrote about so brilliantly, which I have never read elsewhere, is the diaspora experience. I’m a returnee to my Malaysian motherland and to have her write about what it’s like to be a foreigner, how it changes you so irrevocably…that was really validating, to see reflected back to me. I was born in Singpaore, moved to Sydney when I was 12, lived in Jordan from 25-27, married at 28 then moved to Malaysia at 30 and I’ve been here for almost 8 years. All of this shapes me, my parenting, my writing – the lens through which I view the world and interact with it.

Family, Life, Love, untigering, Iris Chen

Reconciling Asian Values with Peaceful Parenting

If you’re an untigering Asian parent like me, check out this INCREDIBLE recording. Iris Chen is an unschooling Chinese American mother who inspired my article as well as my daily commitment to untigering.

I loved listening to her conversation with Joline from Chapter Zero Singapore, Syazana from Sassy Mama Singapore, and Justina from Raised with Wonder in Malaysia. My people! It’s so validating hearing them share their stories which are so familiar to mine. I love the beautiful parts of Malay culture and want to embed that into how I raise my kids, but I reject the toxic parts. It’s an ongoing process for me, my husband and my children. One day at at time. We have the gift of living with my elderly mother-in-law, so that’s another layer of nurturing for my children.

If you love her content, you have the option of supporting Iris on Kofi.

Life

Eid Al-Adha Mubarak/Selamat Hari Raya!

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

A little late, but here it is. For those who celebrate, I hope you had a good, safe and reflective Raya. This is yet another lockdown Raya for my household in Malaysia. Vaccinations are rolling out though so reaching herd immunity is something to look forward to.

I’ve been learning a lot about staying still and counting my blessings during this time. All it took was a global pandemic to keep me in one place :p I miss my loved ones overseas and am so, so grateful for technology.

My latest article for SBS voices is up – My Malay-Indian kids help me get closer to my roots.

I’m working on another book! What it is exactly remains to be seen LOL. I’m leaning towards Muslim romcom or a Middle Grade fantasy. SFF (sci-fi and fantasy) will always be my first love, but after writing and revising my YA contemporary fantasy, a genre change could be refreshing. Wait and see eh.

I’m a very intuitive (read: chaotic panster) writer so I start off with immersing myself in audiobooks. I’m jotting ideas or sparks of inspiration now in an actual journal, using actual colourful pens!

Some non-SFF audiobooks I’ve really enjoyed so far are:

Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

The Other Half of Happiness by Ayisha Malik

Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jallaludin

Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalalludin

Family, Islam, Life, Writing

Selamat Hari Raya/Eid Mubarak!

Selamat Hari Raya/Eid Mubarak! My kids are all asleep after an exciting and exhausting first day of Eid. We made it, alhamdulilah, to the end of Ramadan. And what a Ramadan this has been. May we meet many, many more. May there be an end to global oppression.

We’re back to MCO 3.0 in Malaysia. Inconvenient but necessary because Covid19 numbers shot up once again. This is my second Raya/Eid in lockdown…I miss my family and friends back in Sydney. I don’t think we’ll be able to fly back to visit anytime soon, so in the meantime, we have our family Whatsapp groups, video calls, messages….this is our new normal. What a test of patience.

In writing news, my latest article on SBS voices is up: I loved reading fantasy growing up but there were never any characters like me. Stay tuned for more!

Books, Parenting

My very first IG giveaway win and ARC!

Ramadan Mubarak to one and all!

Fasting with three small kids close in age is not for the faint for heart, so this beautiful book, Misfits In Love, arriving today (thank you Sajidah, Aisyah and Irdina!) was such a treat. I’ve been loving what I’ve read so far and the notes on the margins by the author and fellow readers like me! I’m so thrilled to get to write my own responses in the margin too!

I’ve been listening to audiobooks since my very first newborn and I forgot how gratifying it feels to hold an actual book in my hands. I’ve always wanted an ARC but have no idea how to get one, so being part of S.K. Ali’s Street Team remedied that hehe.

Also, I highly recommend deleting Twitter from your phone for a calmer Ramadan (and life, overall) experience.

I still have IG though and am AMAZED at the magic of reels, gorgeous #bookstagram…wow. Wow! What magic is this?! Such beautiful pictures of stunning books on decorative fabric along with fresh, glowing faces of bookstagrammers!

Plus – book swag! (I managed to take this photo without any of my kids sticking their hands, feet or faces in woooo)

Yayyy

I’m also so excited that Alhamdulilah, I won S.K Ali’s giveaway for Once Upon An Eid hurray. Yet another special gift for me this Ramadan.

If you haven’t already read any of her books – go for it! Love From A To Z is my absolute favourite of hers, being the halal love story that it is.

If you’re a fasting mama of little ones who keep waking up during suhoor/sahur because they just KNOW something is up…you’re not alone. Hang in there! Apparently they all grow up and move away some day. And until then, we’re making memories.

Life, Love, Parenting

Ramadan is almost here

It’s literally days away from Ramadan! How did that happen? Wow, time does pass. I feel like this amazing owl gif captures my whole 2020-2021 mood.

Speaking of Ramadan, I promised my kids I would try extra hard not to be grumpy and be extra patient with them in Ramadan haha. It’s such a special month, and I can already imagine all three of them joining in our buka puasa/iftar/breaking of our fast after watching Upin and Ipin. I’m hoping the Ramadan bazaars will be back because they’re such a treat….but with SOPs like masks and social distancing in place. Wait and see, eh.

My three kids are already almost 6, 3.5 and 1.5! Part of me is like noooooo they’re growing so fast and the other part is calculating when all three will be in preschool/school :p My 3.5 yo made me smile today by telling me, “Narwhals are beautiful!” AW. She’s not a fan of manatees. Yes, my 6 yo is currently obsessed with Octonauts. My husband and I cannot get “Creature report!” out of our heads gahhhhh.

There’s been a lot of really awful racist book twitter happenings (click here) reflecting very real-world harm. BUT! If you’re a BIPOC author like me, please, please, please, keep writing your stories. They matter. You matter. Your stories matter. Our stories matter. Flood the gates of traditional publishing with our stories until more and more change happens.

Note: I don’t need to eat Pocky to feel more Asian. I BLEED POCKY.

Stay tuned for more updates!

Poetry

I’m almost done with revisions!

So. Alhamdulilah, I’m out of my revision cave! I’m so, so grateful for the expert editorial eye of my literary agent, Alli. Under her expert mentorship, my book has gone from good to GRRREAT.

That just means that I’m that much closer to going on submission, which is a whole other level of nerve-wracking anxiety, woo lol. Once I’m on submission, I’ll have loads of time to be anxious – I mean, channel my energy into looking after my health! This pandemic feels endless, but it will end.

If you have a polished novel that fits Alli’s #MSWL, I strongly recommend querying her.

In the meantime, I’m thrilled that my poem, Home, has found a beautiful new home. Enjoy!