I hate reading books where every word that isn’t English is italicized. I feel as if the author is assuming that I am not intelligent enough to look up an unfamiliar word or that I am so content (read arrogant) in my knowledge that I cannot be bothered to learn something new. Learning words in another language to me is akin to opening the door to a whole other world. A world with different nuances and meanings than the one I am accustomed to. Who wouldn’t want that? Who wouldn’t want to learn more about another cultures and other traditions? It enriches my world and gives new meaning to my life when I have access to other lives, other experiences. It makes me feel connected to people in a way that is hard to describe. It’s about delving into something basic, so fundamental that it transcends words and language. But most of all it’s just so wonderful to realize that despite all the outward differences, the sounds and accents and appearances we are all ultimately connected to each other by love and joy and pain and suffering. So when I see a word italicized only because of its otherness, I feel as though a door is closing in my face. I feel as if I cannot truly connect. And that makes me sad.
I’ve spent my entire life with a hyphenated identity. I was born in Germany to a Pakistani mother and a Bangladeshi father. Technically Bangladesh didn’t exist when I was born. But Bengali nationalism in what was then East Pakistan was alive and kicking, strong enough to demand a country of its own until in 1971 it gained independence. And I gained a hyphenated identity. In Germany I was the “Indian”- German, then later in Bangladesh, the half-Pakistani and as an adult I am Indo-Canadian. It’s an interesting experience going through life with labels that others put on you, especially when they mean next to nothing to you. As a child growing up in Germany, I was very much aware that I was the other, simply because in small town Germany back then, ours was the only brown-skinned family. Later we moved to Bangladesh where I lived for the next seventeen years. In all that time I only knew a couple of other children whose parents were like mine, but it was not something that we talked about to each other. And although in Bangladesh my skin color was like everyone else’s, there was something intangible that separated me from them. My mother warned me not to speak Urdu in public, because Bangladesh was still nursing wounds fresh from a horrific war for independence from Pakistan. But as a child, this hatred for Pakistanis that simmered just below the surface was not within my grasp. I heard the taunts and jabs that were made at our expense, but I couldn’t understand the reasons behind them. But the feelings were the same. In Germany I was made to feel dirty because of my brown skin and in Bangladesh it was because of where my mother happened to be from. Either way it determined the way I saw myself. It took years for me to accept that none of this had anything to do with who I was. It had everything to do with the assumptions that people made about me based on my last name, my skin color, my religion. When I did realize it, I felt free. Finally, after years of carrying a burden that wasn’t mine, I was able to shed the responsibility of being acceptable. With this freedom came a brand new perspective. I realized that I didn’t necessarily embody the qualities that are automatically attributed to me.
My experiences in straddling cultures doesn’t end with me. I met and married a Hindu man from South India and as a result my children will forever be hyphenated. They will always be seen by some as half-Hindu and half-Muslim, by others as half-Bengali and half Indian, although the fact that they were born in Texas and I am not a full Bengali messes with the mathematics of their heritage. But the way I see it, the fractions add up to a whole and as long as they feel whole with themselves that’s all that matters. The rest is just semantics.
Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!
Hello! I am Sabina Khan and I will be your host for this leg of the hunt.
A little bit about me:
I LOVE karaoke!
And puppies. When I’m rich and famous I want to rescue puppies and cuddle them all day.
I love to learn languages: Currently I speak German, Bengali, Urdu, Hindi and of course English. I’m mastering the art of procrastination in writing by learning Spanish online.
While I was writing my first book I made two new best friends: gummy worms and vodka.
But enough about me. You are currently hunting on the Pink Team!
Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are SIX contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the PINK TEAM–but there is also a red team, a gold team, an orange team, a blue team,a teal team, a purple team and a green team for a chance to win a whole different set of signed books!
If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.
SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE
Directions: Below, somewhere in this post, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the pink team, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).
Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by Oct 4 at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
Today I’m thrilled to be hosting the fabulous Kate Karyus Quinn for the YA Scavenger Hunt.
Kate Karyus Quinn is an avid reader and menthol chapstick addict. She has lived in California and Tennessee, but recently made the move back to her hometown of Buffalo, New York, with her husband and two children in tow. She promised them wonderful people, amazing food, and weather that would… build character. She is the author of ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE, (DON’T YOU) FORGET ABOUT ME, and the upcoming DOWN WITH THE SHINE (April 16th, 2016) all from HarperTeen.
Find out more information by checking out the author website or find more about the author’s book here!
Check out her book here:
Even the lightest hearts have shaded corners to hide the black thoughts that come at night. Experience the darker side of young adult as 13 authors explore the places that others prefer to leave among the shadows. Including stories from: Lenore Appelhans, Joelle Charbonneau, Kelly Fiore, Geoffrey Girard, Justina Ireland, Lydia Kang, RC Lewis, Demitria Lunetta, Mindy McGinnis, Gretchen McNeil, Phoebe North, Kate Karyus Quinn, and Beth Revis.
And that’s not all! Enjoy some EXCLUSIVE CONTENT from Kate:
from THE ONE TRUE MIRANDA LIEU
Wasn’t that awesome? Check out all the authors on the 8 teams in the Scavenger Hunt and discover your new favorites!
To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is…8. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the pink team and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!
Thank you so much for visiting my website! While you’re here, don’t forget to enter the bonus draw I am running exclusively during the YA Scavenger Hunt.
For the BONUS draw, do the following (see the Rafflecopter link below):
-Tweet about #YASH
-Comment on this blog: Who is your favourite goddess from any mythology and why?
Check out other ways to earn points in:
For the bonus contest I will be giving away Ebook copies of my book REALM OF THE GODDESS.
Thank you so much for visiting my blog!
CONTINUE THE HUNT
To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author:
Kai McCarthy by visiting her website here:
My most awesome writerly friend Madhuri Blaylock of the amazing Sanctum Series has done it again. Feast your eyes on the cover of Dutch, the first in her Keeper Series.
Book: Dutch (The Keeper Series #1)
Author: Madhuri Blaylock
Genre: Erotic Romance
A dark raunchy romance
Releases 12th October
Arrogant, handsome, and detached, deadly assassin Dutch Mathew has an insatiable appetite for bourbon, cigarettes, and women. A Keeper for The Gate, the shadowy organization designed to control Death and her Poochas, those reclaimers helping the dead cross back to life, he has three simple rules for anyone sharing his bed: no talking, no kissing, no touching.
Juma Landry is all about talking and kissing and touching. The more talking and kissing and touching, the better.
And as one of Death’s Poochas, the best in fact, she is Dutch’s next assignment. He is tasked with ending each and every one of her nine lives but with her sharp banter, beautiful smile, and hips made for all kinds of wickedness, she isn’t going to make that easy.
Set in New York City and Trivandrum, Dutch, The Keeper Series Book One, is a unique and sexy urban fairytale – a must read for anyone who likes their raunch with a twist of romance and a hint of magic.
Watch for it to hit shelves 12th October
Meet the Author:
Madhuri is that Indian girl everyone thinks is Black, or Spanish, or Black and Spanish. She’s from down South, has lived in the New York City area for more than twenty years, and is proof that you can take the girl out of the South, but you can’t take the South out of the girl.
She loves Old Scout bourbon, tattoos, french fries, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, her mom’s Indian food, all kinds of naughty, filthy things, Friday Night Lights, coffee, and Martha’s Vineyard. She can wiggle her ears, flare her nostrils, and curl her tongue.
She is an introvert who can fool people into thinking she’s an extrovert, all the while wishing she was home alone, not having to speak to a soul, lost in a fantastical world of her own creation.
As the great Charles Bukowski said, she writes because it comes bursting out of her. She cannot stop it, nor does she want to.
She’s the author of the paranormal romance trilogy, The Sanctum, and the upcoming erotic romance, The Keeper Series. In a past life, when she was much sweeter and kind of shy, she developed and published the middle reader series, Ayesha’s Teenage Survival Files.
She does other things to pay the bills.
The other day I was thinking back to the stories I wrote as a child. I was about 7 years old and had moved from Germany to Bangladesh around that time. I had switched from reading my favorite Enid Blyton books in German to reading them in English. Although learning to speak and read in English changed many things for me, what didn’t change were the characters in those books. They were all still white. Every single one of them. I remember being fascinated with everything they did, the interesting food they ate, their traditions and lifestyles. I loved reading about their (mis)adventures and the trouble they got into. As a voracious reader I always enjoyed a wide variety of books, but still…all the characters were white. So it was not surprising that when I wrote my first stories the characters in all of them were also white. They all had names like Nancy or Tom, even though in real life I was surrounded by people with names like Hassan or Seema. It never occurred to me that my characters could be something other than white. They didn’t eat sumptuous Bengali sweets or biryani. They ate fine chocolates and fish and chips. They didn’t wear kurtas or shalwar-kameez. They wore jeans and t-shirts. None of these things by themselves constitute anything untoward at all, but when I look at children’s fiction today and what is available in terms of diverse characters, it saddens me to think that there are still thousands of children around the world who may never see themselves reflected in the stories they love to read. Or even worse, they may never think it possible that they could be super heroes who fight evil. Or that they may be the ones to save the world. It’s depressing. And it’s time for change.
Last week I was fortunate enough to be invited by Walnut Road, a local elementary school here in Surrey, BC to talk to students in Grades 6 and 7 about my book and the writing process. Since this was my first visit to a school I wasn’t quite sure what to expect so I thought I’d share my experience and how I prepared for it.
First of all let me say what an amazing experience it was. The staff and students were extremely welcoming and I couldn’t have asked for a better audience. The students were polite and attentive but best of all they were very interested in reading and writing which made all the difference in the world. They had a lot of pertinent and thought-provoking questions and most of them liked the YA Paranormal genre. Many of them pulled out books they were reading and it was great to see that they carried these books around with them. Since they had recently finished their creative writing unit they also had a lot of questions about the writing process including editing and publishing.
Afterwards I mulled over why I had enjoyed my visit and what had made it successful. Here’s what I came up with.
Engage the students
If they get bored, then you’re pretty much just talking to an empty room. I started by asking them what kind of books they liked and by mentioning some book series similar to mine. They immediately perked up and began to call out books they loved. I knew a lot of them and so I asked them about specific characters and shared what I liked about them. There is nothing better than watching a roomful of 12-13 year olds with eyes sparkling as they talk about books. Really…it’s priceless.
Tell them your story
I gave them a brief idea of what my book was about and that got the conversation flowing. They wanted to know how I came up with the idea, how long it took to write the book and if there were going to be more. I also loved that they talked so enthusiastically about their own writing projects.
Ask them what kind of books they wish they could read
They were thrilled to read a story with diverse characters and we discussed the importance of reading diversely and exactly what that meant. I was blown away by their insightful comments on why we need to broaden our selection of books.
Tell them about writing programs and festivals that are available to them
The students were surprised to hear about the many opportunities there were to learn the craft and how many fun events were taking place close to home.
I am so glad that I had the opportunity to talk to such a diverse and talented group of students. They showed me their creative writing projects and I was very impressed by the talent. It was gratifying to see that many of them pursue this in their spare time and are excited to learn more.
Best part of the visit? A week later I was asked to pick up something from the school office. When I brought it home I was completely choked up. The student had hand written individual letters telling me what they thought about the visit. I couldn’t even get through half of it without getting all teary eyed.
So, if any of you are thinking about visiting a local school and talking to the students about writing and about your book, don’t hesitate. Make that call, set up an date and I am positive it will be one of the best experiences in your life as a writer.
This past Saturday I was invited to do an author signing at the Strawberry Hills Chapters in Surrey, BC. Of course I was thrilled because as a very recently self-published author this sort of thing is just awesome. So here are some things I learned:
1. Have realistic expectations. Unless you are an established author with an existing fan base, it is not likely that you will be greeted by a crowd of people waiting with bated breath for your appearance. It will be more like a small trickle, mostly consisting of a few people who unsuspectingly wandered into the store and happened to stop at your table to check out what you’re selling. That’s when you pounce. Well metaphorically at least. You wow them with your pitch and overwhelming enthusiasm and before they know it they are buying a copy of your book, because it is the genre they read or they think it will make a great gift for someone else. Either way it’s a win for you. Then there will be those people who avoid making eye contact with you because they really just want to browse. After you’ve scared away the first couple of them with your fervent smile you’ll figure it out.
2. It is important to smile. Smile as though your life depends on it, even if your face begins to hurt after the first half hour. Pace yourself by exercising your facial muscles every now and then. Just don’t forget that people behind you at the Starbucks can see you. I didn’t realize it at first until I noticed a couple of kids staring at me in horror as I grimaced in an attempt to get some sensation back in my face. I hope they’re not scarred for life.
3. Be very,very appreciative of the people who work at the bookstore. I was blown away by how supportive they were. They came and checked on me constantly, made sure I was comfortable and that I stayed positive when things were slow. I cannot emphasize enough how much that meant to me as a first time author. Needless to say, having the support of your local bookstore is priceless.
4. Know where the washrooms are…and the music section…and the greetings cards. A fellow local author I met recently warned me of this and sure enough, at least five people asked me about this at various times.
5. Celebrate the small victories. I may not have sold more than a few copies of my book, but I got a lot of exposure which is what my main goal really was. After all, I am a newly self published author that nobody has heard of yet. If I want to change that I have to spread the word. This takes time and hard work. It does not happen overnight, so it’s important to stay positive and good things will happen. I am fortunate enough to have very supportive people in my life and I am extremely grateful to Chapters for giving me this opportunity.