I received some wonderful news. I applied and received a grant from Arts Victoria for the development of my memoir. The incredibly talented Alice Pung has agreed to be my mentor in the development of this project and I'm really excited about working with her.
I am especially grateful to have been successful with this grant at this point in my life. Working full time has been challenging and having a mentor will give me some much needed support and impetus to focus on this project.
This project is supported by the Victorian Government through Arts Victoria.
My novel for children Amir: Friend on Loan is officially out. It is published by Garratt Publishing and is being distributed by Cengage publishing. You can read a sample chapter here. It is aimed for Year 7 and Year 8.
To celebrate the publication of Amir: friend on Loan I'm listing a giveaway via Goodreads of two copies. Click below to enter. If you're interested you can buy a copy via My Shop page.
Amir has been best friends with Dragan since they were in kinder and the boys are looking forward to starting high school together next year. Even though Amir’s parents are Bosnian Muslim and Dragan is of Serbian Orthodox background, the boys think of themselves as Australian and their cultural differences have never mattered ... until the Balkan war breaks out. Suddenly their family tells them that they are not supposed to be friends because Bosnians and Serbs are fighting overseas. Can they find a way to keep their friendship in the face of their family’s opposition?
Also I am doing a book author event for Coming of Age: Growing up Muslim in Australia with Demet Divaroren, Irfan Yusuf, Alyena Mohummadally, and Tasneem Chopra on Saturday 29 March at Collins Booksellers, 67 Puckle Street, Moonee Ponds, from 1pm to 3pm.
Last night we had the launch of Coming of Age: Growing up Muslim in Australia at the Wheeler Centre. There were 300 people in the audience and we sold 60 books. How amazing! Here are some photos of the night.
Our three contributors Tasneem Chopra, Irfan Yusuf and Alyena Mohummadally who spoke so eloquently and with great pathos and humour about their experiences of growing up Muslim.
The two editors me and Demet Divaroren getting our poses on.
Look, I'm famous!!! I'm on the big screen!
Now I know I've made it-there is a sketch of me by my friend Jodi Wiley. What an amazing momento!
I'm still buzzing from it all. It's been an amazing ride. Thank you to Demet Divaroren, Tasneem Chopra, and Jodi Wiley for the photos. There is going to be footage of our presentation in a month's time. Excited and kind of scared about seeing it, but anyway.
I've also decided to giveaway two copies of my novel The Good Daughter to celebrate. This will be the first in a series of giveaways of all my books. So if you'd like to enter please click below.
So the anthology is officially launched and it's been getting some good traction with publicity.
It was featured on the Today show with contributor Sabrina Houssami. Sabrina also wrote a piece for the Sydney Morning Herald's Style magazine.
Contributor Alyena Mohummadally was on ABC Breakfast TV, view interview below. She also had radio interviews on Jon Faine here and on ABC Drawing Room hosted by Waleed Aly and talking with Alice Pung here, and Joy radio station here.
There were The Age extracts with Bianca Elmir, Randa Abdel-Fattah, and Irfan Yusuf.
Bianca Elmir was also on radio with Richard Fidler here.
There are two launches. A Melbourne Launch at the Wheeler Centre on Monday 24 February 2014, 6:15PM - 7:45PM, and you can book free tickets here. And a Sydney launch at Abbeys Bookshop Thursday 13 February 2014 at 6 pm, info here.
And I'm very excited to have received advanced copies of my novel for children Amir: Friend on Loan.
I also wrote the teaching notes for Coming of Age: Growing up Muslim in Australia and they can be downloaded from the Allen and Unwin website here.
What an awesome start to the year!!!
So I got my stack of books with copies of Coming of Age. Very excited to hold it in my hands and actually have the tangible proof of all that hard work.
The book will be available for sale 1 February 2014 and I'm already seeing it popping up online in bookstores and here on Goodreads.
Very exciting times ahead. Feel like 2014 has started off with a bang!
I'm so excited to announce that the anthology I've been co-editing has gone to print.
I've been enjoying a blissful few days ever since. The last few weeks before it went to print were frantic with all the activity and stress. Now it's just so nice to sit back and wait for the advanced copies to come to my mail box.
I'm very excited about next year. There are a few things in progress that I'll be announcing as they come into play, but for now I'm going to enjoy life and this window of peace and contentment after all the hard work of this year.
Note: The anthology will be available in bookstores in February 2014.
At the Etchings Launch in Embiggen Books reading from Woman on Fire. Photo by Amanda Summons Photography.
It's been a big week and I'm still recovering. I finished university and I am now officially on the path to being a teacher. It feels so amazing to finally have reached this point and have it all behind me and my future as a teacher in front of me.
Last week was marred by a pretty nasty virus that I'm still not completely recovered from so I don't feel like I've had the time to properly take this in or even to celebrate.
However, on Thursday night I managed to go to the Etchings launch which I was so excited about. My memoir piece Woman on Fire is published in the issue and my husband's short story When I am Dead White was also published in the same edition. Such a lovely moment. I managed to do a reading and it was so nice to be a part of the writing community with all these other wonderful writers.
The theme of Etchings is Visual Eyes and so there are two covers for this edition and you can see me posing with both. It's almost like a his and hers version.
Kevin Brophy launched the issue and he said that today a book is becoming an art form and the Etchings journal is the most beautifully produced journal in Australia, and I couldn't agree more. Looking forward to reading the whole issue and finding out what gems await me. To view the issue click here.
Last week was also big because I very ambitiously embarked on Nano. I can only blame it on the illness affecting my mind at the time. I was a Nano success story for three days, and then stopped. It's just not the right time. I'm burnt out from study and dealing with the rather daunting prospect of looking for a job as a teacher. I have survived my first interview, but it was the most nerve wracking experience of my life and I'm still shell-shocked from the stress of it all. I also have some works in progress that I want to dedicate my time to at the moment and just enjoy the process of writing for a few weeks, without putting pressure on myself.
For the past two years I have been co-editing with Demet Divaroren an anthology of Muslim writers to be published by Allen and Unwin. It has been one of the most challenging and exhilarating things I have ever done and we are squeaking over the finish line. It will go to print in November and be out in February 2014.I can't believe that after all this hard work, sweat and tears it's nearly going to be over!
We're now reaching the exciting stage where we are planning the launch and publicity, and we got our first review and have had our first interview in Books + Publishing Magazine. You can read the review below and if you want to read the interview you can get a free trial and access it.
The review is so great and I can't wait for the book to be out in the world for people to read it. We have so many incredibly talented writers who have shared their stories:
Hazem El Masri
Arwa El Masri
Michael Mohammed Ahmad
It's been an honour and privilege to work with them. For now here's the review:
Books + Publishing Review of Coming of Age: Growing Up Muslim in Australia
Review by Meredith Lewin
Coming of Age is the kind of book that will change how readers look at the world, at others and themselves. This anthology of real-life stories from Australian Muslim authors explores the complexities of growing up Muslim in multicultural Australia—in the 1980s and 1990s but also the post-9/11 landscape, where to be visibly Muslim was suddenly redefined. Pitched at the YA nonfiction market, its strong human interest emphasis will appeal to engaged teenagers and a broader Gen X/Y audience. Aiming to demystify Islam and challenge ‘Islamaphobia’, the contributors succeed brilliantly at highlighting the diversity of Muslim culture and identity. From ‘halal romance’ at Muslim youth camp to female kickboxing, professional football and the Miss World contest, the writers explore how family, friendship, religion, gender, sexuality and culture shaped who they became. Particularly fascinating are pieces by female contributors examining body image, faith, identity and desire that shatter the stereotypes. Together, the stories expose common threads of hope, love, belief and belonging—and the intense alienation and discrimination experienced by the authors. Their individual paths to coming of age, coloured with many shades of humour, warmth, sadness, anger, determination and honesty, will resonate with readers from all backgrounds and beliefs.
And hopefully this is one of many more exciting things to come.
Very exciting day. Had a meeting today with Garratt Publishing to talk about their project Third Space and my novella Amir that is being published by them. I received a hard copy mock up of my book and I've been floating ever since. It looks so beautiful and this is when it all starts feeling real.
This project is about embracing diversity and there are going to be amazing resources available for teachers to introduce these series in the classroom with an integrated curriculum across English, Civics and Citizenship and History.
There will also be author videos available to support the teacher's resources which is going to be great, but boy I'm not looking forward to watching myself on the screen. It will be published early next year so it's going to be soon. Yay. Also excited because it will be aimed for upper primary and lower secondary so a whole new readership for me. What fun!!!
I ran a short story workshop as part of the Brimbank Literary Awards last night and it went really well. There were about 16 participants who were really eager and motivated to learn. I sold some books, had some great conversations about writing, and finally felt the slump I've been in lift.
It has been a really busy first half of the year. I did 3 uni subjects (instead of my usual two) and really found it a strain. Toward the end of the semester I had a bout of illness and a death in the family and for the first time ever had to request extensions for every subject. I only completed my last assignment yesterday and finally felt that whoosh of relief you get when everything is done and behind you.
Part of the reason that I've also been struggling is I had a lot of writing deadlines. One of them I can share now. I was asked by Garratt Publishing, an educational publisher, to write a middle grade story to be published as part of their Diversity series. I had to read the brief, write a synopsis, that was approved, and then write a 10,000 word story to a deadline. It was the first time I had to write to a deadline and I found it stressful, especially amongst all the other stuff going on, but I found it a great experience.
Being pushed outside of your comfort zone really makes you realise what you're capable of. It was such an amazing experience to basically produce a story out of thin air and I loved the creative process and just sitting down and having things happen. I received feedback from the publisher and she loved the story and how layered it was. Such a relief that my instincts are right. So who knows what else I'll produce in the middle grade genre after this. I'm waiting on revisions and publishing details, but suspect it will be published sometime next year.
I'm hoping that the second half of the year will mean more writing time, and that it will be an easier one than the first half. But this might be an empty hope. I have lots of things going on:
Lots of new challenges and experiences. I'm looking forward to stretching myself. Just have to be careful not to burn out the way I have done in the past few months. Fingers crossed I achieve better balance.
I am an author, reader and teacher.