Books, Writing, young adult

Ramadan Mubarak!

brown metal cage with lighted candle
Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

Ramadan greetings to one and all! Selamat Berpuasa 🙂

It is a very different Ramadan…but alhamdulilah for all the blessings we do have, big and small. Many things are different, but many things are also still the same. Namely: me finding creative ways to lie down while my kids play around me. Hahaha. My youngest is already 7 months and turbo crawling.

I have three small kids under the age of 5, so Ramadan has been indoors for me for a few years now. One thing is for sure…I WILL MISS THE RAMADAN BAZAARS!! There are online bazaars now, apparently? GetMakan looks amazing, but based in Johor. Let me know if you figure out how to order them tasties in Petaling Jaya :p

Also, if you’re looking for a grassroots way to help Malaysians in need, #Kitajagakita is a wonderful platform.

In writing news….stay tuned! I participated in the #DVPIT twitter competition and garnened a lot of agent interest. I’m so grateful for the support of Meredith Ireland, my #DVPIT mentor who gave me EPIC REVISION tips. Lockdown with kids took on a whole new meaning while I was frantically adding 10,000 words of world-building and plot tweaks, and I am SO happy I had Meredith only a Whatsapp message away. THANK YOU MEREDITH! So much of writing is solitary, so it really helps to have an experienced author believe in your book, and help you make it even better.

 

 

 

Books, Writing, young adult

Finding Jamilah and The Story of Yusuf is up on Amazon Kindle!

Finding Jamilah and The Story of Yusuf is online and available for purchase on the Amazon Kindle store 🙂 If you like coming-of-age YA (Young Adult) fiction featuring Muslim teens of colour, please read it, share it with your loved ones, and leave a review! Thank you for welcoming my stories into your life ❤ May they leave your heart a little warmer.

Book review, Books, Fantasy

Short Stories

red and black typewriter
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

So back in Ye Olde Days when I had hours upon hours of unappreciated free time to devour novel after novel….I loved reading epic fantasies. Now that my hours upon hours of free time are GONE – I’ve discovered the joy of short stories. And I really, really, love them! It’s such a nice feeling to dip and out of a short story collection.

I’m currently reading Mia Alvar’s In The Country. It’s a gorgeously written collection of diaspora stories. She writes so lyrically! I love how universal her themes are: loss, displacement, identity, and the pull of family.

I’m currently listening to The Found And The Lost: The Collected Novellas of Ursula K. Le Guin on Audible. I have another glorious 32 hours to go, and am loving the depths of her story-telling.

Interestingly, when I read short stories like these, it makes it easier for me to get into the zone of writing my own short stories.

 

 

 

Books, Hanna Alkaf, Life, Reading

I’ll be reading at Readings@Seskan!

white ceramic teacup with saucer near two books above gray floral textile
Photo by Thought Catalog on Pexels.com

Love reading? Enjoy writing? Want to support local writers? Come down to Readings@Seskan this Saturday 🙂 The ever-supportive and wonderful Sharon Bakar invited me to read an excerpt from my unfinished short story collection. Thank you Sharon!

I’ve been meaning to attend for so long, and am so excited that I’m actually days away. (InshaAllah nothing cataclysmic happens from now until then, ahem)

***

Update: Hanna Alkaf’s Q&A at Kino was wonderful. I enjoyed hearing her story about her own journey as a prolific reader, and how that shaped her writing. I really appreciated how honest she was about how much hard work writing is.

It was great to hear how supportive her editor (Zareen Jaffery) is in not italicising words in Malay and Chinese. Makes for a much more fluid and Malaysian story. She read her first chapter and I can’t wait to read the rest of it when her book is out on Feb 5th 2019!

Her advice to me? FINISH A MANUSCRIPT. Because I have like three unfinished manscripts, but my “book is in [my] first draft,’ #hannasaid #mustlistenlah

Plus! Her stunning book cover has been revealed! So Malaysian – I mean, just look at Melati’s uniform! Read more here.

Beauty, Books, Poetry, Reading, Writing

Muslimah Writer’s Journey Summit is on!

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Image source: https://muslimahwriters.kartra.com/https://muslimahwriters.kartra.com/portal/MuslimahWriters/post/30

“There is a story only you can tell because you are unique.” – Na’ima B. Robert,

I am SO EXCITED! The content is inspiring, the dashboard looks gorgeous, and the Facebook group is thrumming with supportive sister-writer love.

The Day One line up of wonderful speakers looks like this:

Na’ima B Robert – The Story You Were Born To Tell
LaYinka Sanni – The World of Your Mind, The World of Your Pen
Aishah Adams – Aishah Adams

There’s still time to sign up here! Bit.ly/MuslimahWritersSummit

Books, education

My book launch is at KLPAC on Dec 17th, 3 pm!

Please come and join me and the rest of the “Bitter Root, Sweet Fruit” team on Sunday 17th December at KLPAC , 3 pm 🙂

I’m so thrilled to be part of this wonderful collection of short stories. Thank you, D.K. Dutt Award team, Sharon Bakar and Dipika Mukherjee for bringing my words to life!

The night I wrote this piece, my toddler kept waking up throughout the night. This was long before she was nightweaned, and I was in those “Will I ever sleep again? Will I ever write without interruptions?” modes. I was desperate to meet the deadline, to prove to myself that I could and would still write. Despite that, and perhaps because of that desperation, I channeled all that into my writing. I didn’t expect to hear back from them, and to see my story in a book is beyond exciting!

So, if you’re a writerly mama, don’t lose hope. Short stories, at least, are still within reach – in between all the tantrums, diapers, breastfeeding, weaning, and fevers!

 

 

Book review, Books, Fantasy

Book Review: Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

So when you have a spirited toddler, it can be challenging to sit down and read. This is why Audible is my friend. Yay for audiobooks, which I can listen to in the car!

I’ve always been a huge fantasy fan. My favourite book when I was 12 was Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce.  Here’s a list of some of my fantasy favourites, in no particular order:

  • Margaret Atwood – The Blind Assassin, The Handmaid’s Tale, MaddAdam
  • Ursula Le Guin – Tales of Earthsea
  • N.K. Jemisin – Stone Sky trilogy
  • J.RR. Tolkien – Lord of the Rings trilogy
  • Phillip Pullman – His Dark Materials trilogy

The one annoying thing though, is the lack of diversity in all of the fantasy books I know and love. Except for Le Guin’s, of course. So! This is why it’s been wonderful reading more local Malaysian work – plenty of diversity to spice things up.

I really enjoyed the audiobook version of Sorcerer to the Crown. It’s a refreshingly different fantasy story by a talented Malaysian author, Zen Cho. The two main protagonists are people of colour, which is already a big plus. She weaves a hilarious tale of magical hijinks set in England, against a backdrop of racism, sexism, and all the fun things I love to see deconstructed. Lots of witty banter!

It does take some time to build up to the action, so you’ll need to be patient. Totally worth it though, so hang in there and enjoy the story. Here’s more info on the book from Zen Cho’s website.

Next book review – N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth series.

 

Books, Mark Gonzales, Salaam Reads, Writing

@SalaamReads offers diversity, peace and hope

Salaam Reads, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, welcomes manuscripts about Muslim children and young adults. Folks, start writing!

Check out their upcoming publications: Amina’s Voice and Yo Soy Muslim!

@SalaamReads, thank you for giving a voice to the many, many Muslim stories out there, just waiting to be heard ❤

I’m so excited about the diversity, peace and hope that these books offer. I grew up with Enid Blyton and other books that had characters who looked nothing like me. Now that I have a daughter, I see the importance of her reading books with more relatable characters and themes.

Speaking of which, my daughter loves “My Father’s Farm” and “My Mother’s Kitchen” – gorgeous Malaysian picturebooks filled with native joy, written by Emila Yusof. It’s so cool to see beautifully illustrated Malaysian flora and fauna.

When I point to Dina, the main character in the storybooks, and ask my daughter who that is, she grins, points to herself and says, “Taskeen!” ❤

Books, Life

My book launch in Singapore tomorrow! @wardahbooks

Tomorrow’s the day! My Singapore book launch is at The Malay Heritage Centre, under the banner “Author Sessions at Hari Raya Open House”. Thank you, Wardah Books! Please come down for my book reading and signing, and bring your friends and family. See you there in less than 24 hours 🙂

Admission is free but registration is required – just email ibrahim@wardahbooks.com to register.

Here are the details:

Session 1: Raidah Shah Idil, author of ‘Finding Jamilah & The Story of Yusuf’

Venue: 10:15am to 11am,
Anjung, Level 2,
Museum at the Malay Heritage Centre

Singapore-born Raidah Shah Idil is a writer, poet, storyteller, creative instructor and a Digging Deep, Facing Self (DDFS) alum based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Her debut double-featured novel, “Finding Jamilah and the Story of Yusuf” was published in early 2014. Her writing has been published in The Feminist Wire, SISTERS magazine, Daily Life, Lip Mag and Venture Beat. Raidah’s poetry was recently published in the ‘Armed With Only Our Souls’ online DDFS chapbook by NY poet, Caits Meissner.

As an instructor at Axiom Learning, Raidah teaches children and teens about creative writing, public speaking, and the power of poetry. Raidah has recently taken to the stage and is now a budding spoken-word artist. You can find her turning compost in her garden, hunting for herbs and collecting good stories.

Programme:

Book-reading
Book-signing

Books, Life

My book launch in Singapore, on August 23rd! @wardahbooks

My Singapore book launch will be held at The Malay Heritage Centre, under the banner “Author Sessions at Hari Raya Open House”. Thank you, Wardah Books! Please come down for my book reading and signing, and bring your friends and family. Looking forward to seeing you there.

Admission is free but registration is required – just email ibrahim@wardahbooks.com to register.

Here are the details:

Session 1: Raidah Shah Idil, author of ‘Finding Jamilah & The Story of Yusuf’

Venue: 10:15am to 11am,
Anjung, Level 2,
Museum at the Malay Heritage Centre

Singapore-born Raidah Shah Idil is a writer, poet, storyteller, creative instructor and a Digging Deep, Facing Self (DDFS) alum based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Her debut double-featured novel, “Finding Jamilah and the Story of Yusuf” was published in early 2014. Her writing has been published in The Feminist Wire, SISTERS magazine, Daily Life, Lip Mag and Venture Beat. Raidah’s poetry was recently published in the ‘Armed With Only Our Souls’ online DDFS chapbook by NY poet, Caits Meissner.

As an instructor at Axiom Learning, Raidah teaches children and teens about creative writing, public speaking, and the power of poetry. Raidah has recently taken to the stage and is now a budding spoken-word artist. You can find her turning compost in her garden, hunting for herbs and collecting good stories.

Programme:

Book-reading
Book-signing