baby, querying, Writing

Wow, it’s already February?!

So it’s Feb 2nd 2020. My newborn is almost 5 months. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

giphy
Source: GIPHY https://gph.is/1kw5oF6

 

Alhamdulilah, the blessings of being busy with little ones – time passes, and hey look, there’s another email from a literary agent in my inbox!

I’m thrilled to report that I’m no longer dying from waiting stress. I’m still getting email/form rejections, and I’m also getting really helpful personalised rejection emails from the agents who’ve read my full manuscript.

I even got one super rare and uber helpful revise and resubmit (R&R) request!!! Okay, so it’s not an offer of representation….but now I know that there is ONE agent in the Vast and Unknowable Sea of Agents who loved my book enough to take the time to write me very detailed email on how to make it better, and to please resubmit if I do take on the suggestions. UM YES PLZ THANK YOU!

happy joy GIF by SpongeBob SquarePants
Source: GIPHY https://gph.is/1aRyN80

Based on the R&R and similar feedback from other literary agents, I’ve decided to 1) stop querying 2) start revising my manuscript to make it even stronger 3) hold off on sending out my full manuscript to interested agents until it’s fully revised. My deadline is 2-6 months from December 2019. Wish me luck! I can’t and I won’t give up now!!

Am I still drowning in self-doubt and imposter syndrome? Yup. I make space for those feelings, take a deep breath, exhale, and remind myself that:

1) I wrote a whole book, got it beta read and professionally edited while pregnant with my third baby.

2) Nobody else can tell the story I’m telling.

3) It’s better for me to take my time with my revisions, so that the best version of my book will get read.

4) Even if nobody ends up representing my first book…I can always write another. And another. And another. Rinse, repeat!

5) I have the rest of my life to write, and this intense time of mothering little ones will end. I’m enjoying the cuddles and milky snuggles while I can!

So if you’re also in the querying trenches…hang in there! Keep at it, one day at a time. Keep writing and keep living well until the day the right agent snaps up your book and loves it as much as you do, if not even more ❤

 

 

querying, Writing

Update from the querying trenches

My newborn is 3 months! Alhamdulilah. We survived! In January, my toddler turns 2, and in June inshaAllah, my preschooler will turn 5. One day, I will get more sleep, and more time to write. In the meantime, I am sustained by newborn snuggles/head-sniffing, toddler cuddles and preschooler giggles.

Querying update: I wish I could say something amazing like “AAHHH I GOT AN OFFER OF REPRESENTATION FROM MY DREAM AGENT AND IT ONLY TOOK ONE DAY/WEEK/MONTH!”

Alas, that is not the case for me. I started sending off query letters to literary agents on 11/11/2017 and I’m still waiting for most of them to reply. ‘Tis the season of nerve-wracking waiting…..

bored kid GIF
Source: https://weheartit.com/entry/88164098

…..and more waiting.

As of today, here are my querying stats:

Agents queried: 51

Partial manuscript requests: 1

Full manuscript requests: 2

Full manuscript rejections: 1

Rejections based on query letter and sample pages: 4

Based on that, it looks like my query letter is working, but my first few chapters could do some work. I’ve tightened them up and am ready to send them out into the Vast Unknowable Sea of Agents. As I get more feedback, especially those bittersweet personalised rejection emails, I’ll tweak them some more.

Let it be said: QUERYING IS HARD. It’s hard, opening up my book to rejection. It’s hard, dealing with the self-doubt with every rejection letter. It’s hard, wondering if I should just scrap my whole novel and do a huge edit. And yet, getting multiple rejections is such a normal part of landing a literary agent.

I started writing my book in November 2018 and finished it, tweaked it based on feedback from by beta readers, had it professional edited by @michelesagan, and revised it at least 2-3 times. And I also gave birth in September 2019. I literally gave birth to a my baby boy and a book baby, while caring for two other little humans.

When my inbox checking and fretting gets too much, I tell myself – time to work on my second novel. And then one of my kids wake up/starts fighting with the other one/needs a diaper change etc. lol.

Where are you in your writing and querying journey? What keeps you going?

 

 

baby, Life, Love, Writing

Update

blank business composition computer
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I type this while my 2 month old son lies fast asleep next to me. I really ought to sleep too. Eh, I will, after this. Blissful solitude is something I don’t get much of in the daytime!

So, what’s it like having a 2 month old, almost 2 year old and 4.5 year old?

That, my friend, is a summary of my day.

Alhamdulilah for my three healthy, vibrant and strong little ones ❤

Novel update: I got my query letter, synopsis and manuscript in shape in time for Pitch Wars, but didn’t win a menteeship. Still, it was a great experience. Lotsa supportive writer folk on the Twitter #writingcommunity

Good news: I scored some wonderful literary agent interest through the #DVpit Twitter contest on October 28th! One of my winning tweets:

MEAN GIRLS x GILMORE GIRLS x CHARMED

16F Insyirah moves to Malaysia and inherits her grandmother’s handsome and loyal Star Trek-loving jinn. Take that, school bully. Keeping him means risking harm from evil jinn. Exorcising him could kill them both. #DVPIT #OWN #F #IMM #CON

I’ve submitted (query letter and partial manuscript) to four agents so far and oh, the waiting game, the waiting game. It’ll take weeks, if not months, for the agent(s) to get back to me requesting my full manuscript, and then it’ll be even more waiting to see if I get an offer of representation (or not). Egads. Traditional publishing is not for the impatient. Luckily, I have small children, so I am literally not going anywhere. They are the Jedi Masters of teaching me patience. 

#PitMad, another Twitter pitching contest, is running on Dec 5th. I’ll aim to pitch my manuscript then too.

So how do I write with a newborn, toddler and preschool? In very small bites. lol. Literally. It all adds up! Writing is also how I decompress and make sense of my world ❤ But it’s either write or sleep so eh, one day I’ll feel more rested.

Recent articles I’ve published on SBS:

Being a Muslim doesn’t equal being Arab

Surviving life with a narcissistic parent

Shopping as an introvert is a whole new level of pain

Recent articles I’ve published on Medium:

Mindful Motherhood

Being A Highly Sensitive Parent with A Highly Sensitive Child

Raising A Toddler, While Pregnant

Life with a newborn and toddler

A Letter To The Mother of Small Children Close In Age

OK I GOTTA GO SLEEP BYE

baby, Life, Love, Writing, young adult

Writing update

Belated Selamat Hari Raya and Eid Mubarak!

Wooooo alhamdulilah, I’ve more or less finished my first draft! Truly, it goes to show that consistency does pay off. Sikit sikit, lama-lama jadi bukit! If I can write 60,000 words with while pregnant, with a 4 year old, 1.5 year old – YOU CAN TOO! I couldn’t have gotten this far without the hands-on support from my husband and mother-in-law – thank you for all the help!

My first draft is with my trusty beta readers now, and I hope to get some super helpful feedback within the next few weeks.

I’ve also sent my manuscript to be edited by Michele Sagan, who has been nothing but incredibly supportive from the get-go. Thank you, Michele! The fact that she is an editor, an agented and published author, and a mother of FOUR CHILDREN gives me so many warm, fuzzy feelings. My manuscript is in good hands ❤

So what’s next for me, writerly-wise? Some ideas:

  1. Not to look at my manuscript because I’m at the stage where I’m like…WHO’LL EVEN READ THIS?!!!
  2. Start writing my second novel! Or at least, start outlining it.
  3. Research agents for my first book.
  4. Start drafting query letters to agents.
  5. Keep lurking on @pitchwars and prepping for the December #pitmad.

In other news, I am 37 weeks pregnant. I AM LITERALLY GOING TO GIVE BIRTH SOON. To an actual baby. Not a book baby! A baby baby! This is both exciting and terrifying. Please pray for me and baby. My 4 year old and 1.5 year old can sense a big change is coming, and are clinging to me for dear life…..so let’s just say it’s a good thing I’m no longer worried about hitting my word count :p Now I can just (try to) rest, listen to birth affirmations, and enjoy the last few weeks of being a mama of two ❤

Writing

Belated Selamat Hari Raya/Eid Mubarak!


Photo by mentatdgt on Pexels.com

Belated Selamat Hari Raya, maaf zahir dan batin, and Eid Mubarak ❤ I hope you’ve all had a wonderful Ramadan and Eid, and open housing the Malaysian way. Because here, Raya is for a MONTH lol.

Life with small children often feels like I’m lurching from one sick kid to the next, before Irfan and I inevitably get sick too. Rinse, repeat. Friends with older children reassure me that it won’t always be this hard. One day, one beautiful, beautiful day, I will sleep better. I will not be slathered in essential oils to help me breathe. I will sleep for longer stretches. I will also miss the cuddles, the kisses, the looks of adoration. I will also sleep better. Have I mentioned sleep about 10 times yet? HA! I USED TO SLEEP IN!

Manuscript update: I’ve hit 50,030/60,000 words! ALHAMDULILAH!

https://gifer.com/en/Uhjf

I have less than 10,000 words to go before finally hitting my final word count. Then it’s time to let my manuscript rest, get it beta’d and line edited, write up my long and short synopsis, and then I can start working on my query letter for my agent!!!! AAAAHHH! What has writing a first draft been like for you? How was your revision stage? How did you decide on your agent? Give me all the deets. It’s been pretty solitary, writing my first draft, so I love hearing about the journeys of other writers. It’s encouraging!

I’m also 27 weeks pregnant, and it’s getting more and more uncomfortable to sit for long periods on a regular chair, like a regular person, because there’s nothing regular about being pregnant!!!

Solutions:

  1. Sit on an exercise ball and type at my desk – this is still working pretty well.
  2. Sit on the floor cross legged, cushion supporting my back, and type with my MacBook on a yoga block.
  3. Stretch lots.
  4. Stretch some more.
  5. Drink lots of water and herbal tea.

What’s been super helpful for me is reading Save The Cat! Writes A Novel. I cannot stress this enough. Thank you for telling me about it, Danica! Jessica Brody has done an INCREDIBLE job breaking down the structure in a best-selling novel. I’m also doing her online writing and publishing courses on Udemy. There’s so much to learn, while I write, and I love how much I’m learning!! Okay. Back to finishing my first draft!

baby, Life, Love, Writing

Writing update

So it’s been a while. And yes. I’m PREGNANT. Again. Yup, baby #3, alhamdulilah, due this September. Please make dua for me, baby, my 15 month old and my almost 4 year old. We are gonna be in for a partayyy with 3 kids under 4.5!!!!

https://www.reddit.com/r/gifs/comments/4ewqgq/yeah_its_party_all_night_on_weekend/

I’m working on my first novel – a YA multi-generational family mystery with a backdrop of Malaysian magic realism. Have I finished planning it? Nope. Because I am a panster, with a vague novel outline. SO I kind of know where my novel is headed-ish. I’m 28,389/60,000 words in, so I’m almost 50% in! PRAY FOR ME TO FINISH THIS BEFORE I GIVE BIRTH. Plz. Thanks.

So my plan is to keep at 500 words a day, and I either write in the mornings when my eldest is at preschool, my baby is napping, or in the evenings when my kids are asleep. I’ll keep the word count update here, to keep me going too. Once I’m done, please let me know if you’re keen to be one of my beta readers 🙂

Dictation is my friend! It’s kind of hit and miss with the dictation function Google Docs. What dictation software do you use your on iPhones? Do share.

baby, Beauty, Writing

“The Healing” is published!

I’m thrilled to start off 2019 with my latest creative non-fiction piece, published by Lunch Ticket, as part of their Amuse-Bouche A La Carte series – The Healing. Thank you to the wonderful Lunch Ticket team, for giving my stories a home. I first read Adab at Seksan 🙂

I hope my stories speak to you, especially if you’re an exhausted mother of two (or more) little ones. It does get better.

I vividly remember submitting this 2 am, after yet another night of broken sleep. I’ve come to realise that these exhausting early years of motherhood have given me a kind of creative haze and lucidity – I am both slowed down and sped up. It’s like quicksand and slow motion film, all in one. Do I make sense? Ha. Who knows.