Saturday, 26 September 2009

Character Interview with The Years of Silence Heroine Maya Seif

First, let me share with you one of the messages I got lately from Christine in Canada which absolutely made my day:

The whole premise of your novel touches my heart. I am in love with Maya and Yusuf and their story of true love and soulmate connections is so important to me. Keep writing---the world is truly blessed with your words in it.

Thank you so much Christine! I'm actually blessed to have readers like you. =)

And AT LAST here's the interview with the (FICTIONAL) heroine of my debut novel Maya Seif as promised (sorry about the unintentional delay). And to everyone who is asking: No, I'm NOT Maya. :)

Some of the Basics First:

Full Name: Maya Seif
Birth Date: 15 July 1981
Astrological Sign: Cancer
Birth Place: Alexandria, Egypt
Hair Color: Brown
Shape and Features of Face: Round face, "delicate" features
Eye Color: Hazel
Social Status: Married
Current Location: New York, US

Maya, how do you see yourself and how did the author see you?

I see myself as a very romantic and emotional person. I've changed throughout the book. At first, I had low self-esteem and I was struggling with an abusive husband. Then I became stronger and more determined. I would say the author, Marwa Ayad, saw me really well.

What was/is your biggest disappointment?

I would say I experienced a couple of disappointments throughout the novel; if you read the novel, you'll know what I'm talking about.

What, if anything, haunts you?

The darkest times in my first marriage and that ill-fated day when I had to go to the hospital haunt me from time to time; but to be honest, I've let go of the past and forgiven myself and anyone who has wronged me.

Has anyone ever failed you?

My ex-husband failed me.

Have you ever failed anyone?

I've failed myself before, but that's all changed, thankfully.

Do you keep your promises?

I do, yes.

Why, after sending Yusuf that last email, did you close your email account and change your number right away (a question from a reader)?

I was very disappointed in him and I felt I'd been lied to and deceived. I didn't want him to contact me again and thought it was best to put it all behind me; that's all I could think of at the time really.

Who is your first love?

Yusuf :)

What is the most important thing that ever happened to you?

Reuniting with Yusuf.

Since the release of the book, the author has received many messages and emails from women either in abusive marriages or divorced and many of them could relate to your story; what advice, if any, would you give such women, Maya?

I would tell them to be strong and stand up for themselves. They have to love and respect themselves enough to realize that no woman should put up with abuse of any kind, be it physical, verbal or silent. Learn to speak up; don't accept the unacceptable! Every woman deserves to be happy; don't let anyone take that away from you.

Finally, how are you and Yusuf doing now... what is life like now for you both?

Things are great! We're both blessed to be together; life isn't perfect all the time but when you share it with your soul mate, things are pretty different. We're still in the US and I'm a very busy mother with two kids now. :)

Thank you, Maya, for this lovely interview!

Don't forget, no matter where you live worldwide, you can buy a copy of my novel via this link.

Also feel free to read more about The Years of Silence on my website. You can also join my Facebook page and/or group to stay updated.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Writer's Block Again!

I hate writer's block. I want to write, fill my blank screen with words. I hear my dear characters talk inside my head; and I listen... so why can't I write? Or is it lack of focus?

Is it the fact that I'm too emotionally involved with them? Or is it the fact that I want to keep writing this novel for months because I love it so much? I'm not sure.

Anyway, here are several tips I've tried in the past which still help me (which means I ought to get offline now, at least!):

1- Unplug the internet

Forget about Facebook, GMail, Twitter, Instant Messengers and all that for a while and see how it goes.

2- Listen to music

3- Get some/more coffee (my favorite tip) :)

4- Stop thinking and start writing... whatever it is you write!

5- Eat healthy food and snacks to nourish your brain (more protein, fruits, veggies, nuts...etc.)

6- Take a shower, bath... or just be near a body of water

This works for me! I actually didn't know the exact reason behind this until I read about it in WRITE IT DOWN, MAKE IT HAPPEN by Henriette Anne Klauser. Moving water helps with creativity because of the negative ions it produces.

Positive ions are produced by machines and technology: computers, televisions, refrigerators, cars, airplanes, heating units and air conditioners...etc. Negative ions counter the exhausting effect of positive ions which is much better for immunity, the respiratory system and mood.

7- Read a book and return to writing later

Got any more tips? Please feel free to share!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Ramadan Mubarak!


Ramadan has always had a very special place in my heart; mostly because of the serenity and peace that seem to fill the air all around; after all, devils and rebellious jinn are "chained" during that holy month. That's why it's believed if a person commits a sin during Ramadan, it's because of their own weakness and corrupted self (having been accustomed and addicted to sin...etc.).


Ramadan:
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, sexual conduct, smoking, and indulging in anything that is in excess or ill-natured; from dawn until sunset. Fasting is meant to teach the Muslim patience, modesty and spirituality. Fasting inculcates self-restraint and self-control as the person fasting does not only have to abstain from food and drink, but s/he must also refrain from many other things: backbiting, gossiping, fighting, using foul language etc. Very strict words have been used in this regard:


The Prophet said, "Whoever does not give up false statements (i.e. telling lies), and evil deeds, and speaking bad words to others, Allah is not in need of his (fasting) leaving his food and drink" (Bukhari).


He also said, "If one of you is fasting, he should avoid sexual relation with his wife and quarreling, and if somebody should fight or quarrel with him, he should say, 'I am fasting'" (Bukhari).


It is logical that if the aim of fasting was only to stop eating and drinking for a specific period of time, then the spiritual objectives of fasting, which have been specified in the Quran, would not have been met. In the Quran, Allah specifically says:


O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, even as it was prescribed for those before you, that ye may ward off (evil) (2:183).


Ramaḍān is a time to fast for the sake of Allah, and to offer more prayer than usual. Muslims also believed through good actions, they get rewarded seventy times as much as they normally can achieve. During Ramaḍān, Muslims ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance and help in refraining from everyday evils, and try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds. As compared to solar calendar, the dates of Ramadan vary, moving forward about ten days each year. Ramadhan was the month in which the first verses of the Qur'an were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.

The elderly, the chronically ill, and the mentally ill are exempt from fasting, although the first two groups must endeavor to feed the poor in place of their missed fasting. Also exempt are pregnant women, women during the period of their menstruation, and women nursing their newborns. While fasting is not considered compulsory in childhood, many children endeavor to complete as many fasts as possible as practice for later life. Lastly, those traveling are exempt, but must make up the days they miss.


A person who is observing Ramadan might break the fast accidentally, due to having forgotten it. In such an instance, one should spit out the food being eaten or cease the forbidden activity, immediately upon remembering the fast.


Laylat al-Qadr, considered the most holy night of the year, is the night in which the Qur'an was revealed to Muhammad, the "Night of the Power". Muslims believe it to have occurred on an odd-numbered night during the last 10 days of Ramadan..


"The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. The angels and the Spirit descend therein, by the permission of their Lord, with all decrees. (That night is) Peace until the rising of the dawn."


Ramadan ends with Eid ul-Fitr, with much celebration and feasts. During the month following Ramadan, called Shawwal, Muslims are encouraged to fast for a further six days, known as as-Sitta al-Bīḍ, or "the white six." When fasting is over, Muslims go to Mosques in new clothes to pray the first Eid prayer. They give out presents to the young ones and greet their friends and families. They then thank God for what He has given them.



Wishing all my Muslim friends worldwide a happy, blessed Ramadan insha'Allah. May Allah guide us towards making this Ramadan a source for gathering numerous blessings and getting our major and minor sins forgiven. Ameen.


رمضان كريم

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

News, Recipe and More!

First, the great news for everyone in the US who has been waiting to get my book on Amazon: Lately, BOOK SPOT has been getting more orders for my book in the US and is soon going to be able to ship my book to anyone in the US (from inside the US) for much less, so it's going to be like getting my book on Amazon without extra shipping costs. Order your copy now! http://bookspotonline.com/middle.php?file=bookdetails&bookid=43933

Second, I had the worst flu ever! I actually think it might have been the swine flu. I'm better now, thank God.

Third, let me share with you one of my favorite cheesecake recipes (one of those recipes which -- if you especially enjoy baking-- will brighten up your day):

Classic No-Bake Cheesecake

Ingredients:

For the Crust:
1 3/4 cups biscuit crumbs
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the Filling:
900 grams cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. water
1 tsp. unflavored gelatin

Instructions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C).

To Make the Crust:
In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the biscuit crumbs, brown sugar and lemon zest, and process to mix well. Add the butter and process until the crumbs begin to stick together. Press the crumbs evenly and firmly over the bottom and 2 inches up the side of a 9 x 2-1/2-inch deep springform pan. Bake the crust 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

To Make the Filling:
In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese and granulated sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed until well blended. Beat in 1/2 cup of the cream and the vanilla until incorporated.

Place the water in a small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let soften for 5 minutes. Place the saucepan over low heat and stir until the gelatin is dissolved, then gradually whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup cream. Add the gelatin mixture to the cream cheese mixture and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute. Spoon the filling into the cooled crust. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.

To Serve:
Run a knife around the pan sides to loosen the cake. Release the pan sides and place the cake on a plate. Cut the cake into individual slices and spoon cherries over each slice, if desired.

Makes 12 servings.

Enjoy!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Vote for THE YEARS OF SILENCE as 'Best Book of the Week' at LASR!

Great news and an awesome review!

My novel is nominated for 'Best Book of the Week' at Long and Short Reviews; please go NOW to http://www.longandshortreviews.com/LASR/recentrev.htm and vote for my novel THE YEARS OF SILENCE as Best Book of the Week (click on the link in the poll)! Please tell your friends to do the same, too. Voting ends tomorrow so hurry up! :)

Long and Short Reviews gave my novel THE YEARS OF SILENCE a five out of five book rating (which according to their rating system means my book is superb!) and an awesome review!

THE YEARS OF SILENCE captivates you from the start with its tragic loss and history of violence.... Author Marwa Ayad’s writing is beautiful and her voice is so stunningly real I was certain I was reading the excerpts of a painfully recorded diary. Those who are not familiar with Middle Eastern women or society will be both fascinated and enlightened. She is a promising new author that writes with humility and honor. One can almost feel her taking her first steps out into the world with her arms wrapped gingerly around her “voice”-- a voice I have fallen for. I highly recommend this novel to readers of all genres, and for any ages. -- Long and Short Reviews

Read the whole review here:
http://longandshortreviews.blogspot.com/2009/07/years-of-silence-by-marwa-ayad.html

Please remember that you can order my book online no matter where you live via this link.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Latest Reviews and Updates

Coffee Time Romance (known for their honest, unbiased reviews) has recently reviewed my novel; I got a wonderful review and a rating of four cups (out of five) which -- according to their rating system -- means my book is an OUTSTANDING GREAT READ and should be at the top of your reading list (if not already!) *grin*.

You can read the whole review here:
http://www.coffeetimeromance.com/BookReviews/theyearsofsilence.html

***

I also got another amazing review from Amr Shehata (an Egyptian author whose debut novel G.O.D.'s Delusion is scheduled soon for release):

“The Years of Silence was not a novel I read; it was more of an experience I felt. Every last bit of it touched every last bit of me. Marwa Ayad let me live Maya’s life. Bizarre as it might seem, I suffered when Maya did. I was happy when she was. I felt excited when she was. The reason is obvious: Maya is a fictional character but the experience she suffered is a reality thousands of Egyptian females suffer today. In some parts of the book, it felt as if Ayad was writing about a real life experience which she underwent. It is virtually impossible to believe that Ayad could have written a novel, so mighty, so touching, so authentic, and so romantic, unless she had experienced similar events in her life, or unless her writing talent is ‘that’ vast.

Besides the actual storyline, Ayad depicted the strong bond of the Egyptian family, especially during a crisis. She illustrated the bond between the parents and children, and between the grandparents and grandchildren. In many parts of the book, the five senses Maya felt were demonstrated, which conveys the reader’s mind right into Maya’s, and that is one brilliant touch Ayad has shown. In many points of the novel, I had to leave the book and take a break from the intensity of the events. It felt as if every word was talking about me personally, and I would be certain that every person who read the book felt (suffered) the same sentiment. This is writing at its very best.

This is definitely a romance book every male or female should pick up and read. It would be quite reasonable to say that Marwa Ayad is Egypt’s Danielle Steele."

Amr, your review made me speechless and made my day; I can't thank you enough for your words.

I've also just been informed that my novel THE YEARS OF SILENCE is this month's NUMBER 1 BESTSELLER at Art Book Center Bookstore in Alexandria. WHOA!!!

I'm HAPPY!

Sunday, 28 June 2009

How to Promote Your Book For Free

How to Promote Your Book For Free
by Marwa Ayad


Ever since I published my debut novel The Years of Silence which is currently a national bestseller, I’ve been spending more time online doing my homework. I had to learn the many ways and techniques authors use to promote their book(s). Here are the top tips from the trade:

• You should have your own website! After all, when people google your name, and find a website instead of a bunch of links to different websites or blog posts about you that can surely help with the sales of your book. You can tell the world about you (where you grew up, why you write, your favorite movies...). You can also post a sample chapter from your book, reviews, and upcoming events.

• Blogging is also a way of being more recognized, especially if you’re an active blogger and post comments on other popular blogs.

• Websites that allow you to list your books for free.

• Facebook is surprisingly as I’ve recently learned an amazing marketing tool, especially if you create a public page or group for your book. Posting on similar groups lets others know about your book. Also, your profile starts attracting more friend requests (because you’re an author), and you can invite anyone to your group. It’s working for me.

• Book signings and seminars can boost your sales. Just make sure you have enough publicity at least a couple of weeks before your events. Post it on Facebook, other social networking sites, your website, blog, and anything else you can. Also, connections in this area can greatly help.

• Radio talk shows can do wonders. Imagine talking about your book on the radio.

• Getting reviews is also a guaranteed way of marketing your book (given that they’re good, not bad!)

• Well-written press releases

• Writing articles that relate to your book, with unique, high-quality content

• Free copies of your book to media organizations, so they can review or feature it in their publications (newspapers, magazines or newsletters)

• Promotional materials as brochures, flyers and bookmarks which you can give out at your book signings to your audience. You can also give them to bookstores to spread the word about your book.

• Setup Google Alerts for your name, your book title...etc. By following these alerts you can jump into the online conversation in a timely way.

• How about creating a competition on your website with copies of your book as prizes?

• Networking with other writers and people in the publishing business definitely has its many benefits, too.
Got any other tips? :)

Friday, 19 June 2009

My Book Trailer

Hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed creating it. :)

If you happen to be outside Egypt and don't wait till my book is available on Amazon, you can order my book here. More info is available on my website.


Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Character Interview

**Character Interview with Maya Seif**

That's right, my very favorite (fictional) heroine (of my debut novel THE YEARS OF SILENCE) - Maya Seif - is ready for an interview and I'm going to interview her soon. For those of you who have read my novel, if you have any questions for Maya, please email her at:
maya @ marwaayad.com

She'll pick several interesting questions to answer that don't include any spoilers or aren't similar to questions I'm going to ask her. Questions and answers will be posted soon in the group and on my blog and website. So ask away!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Novel Talk

So I finished reading Girls of Riyadh by Saudi writer Rajaa Alsanea a while ago and I really liked it. There's been a lot of hype about the novel especially people against the book claiming it gives all the wrong ideas and impressions about Saudi girls. Now I've never lived in Saudi Arabia (I've only been once to it) and it certainly doesn't seem like a fantasy novel so why would the author lie?! And she's very clear that she's talking about the lives of some Saudi upper class girls, no matter how shocking or unbelievable that is to some.

In other news my debut novel The Years of Silence is currently a bestseller at various bookstores in Egypt and it's also been SOLD OUT at several bookstores and for that I'm ecstatic! I'm still waiting for it to be available on Amazon.

As for my current novel-in-progress, I'm aiming for 75,000 words and I'm almost half way through it. I'm having some difficulties with my characters because the whole plot has taken different turns, especially with the heroine's two female friends. Some parts are also hard to write being too emotional and draining, not to mention some research here and there. It's not a romance novel per se, it's women's fiction and it would appeal to many women worldwide.

That's it for now. Take care and be well.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Swine Flu: Don't Panic

THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION RAISES PANDEMIC ALERT LEVEL TO ITS HIGHEST LEVEL, DECLARES SWINE FLU PANDEMIC.

And yes, there's no need to panic.

Facts:

The WHO reports 141 deaths globally from swine flu, with 106 of those (75%) in Mexico and 27 in the U.S. Seasonal influenza kills 35,000 to 50,000 Americans each year. It is now evident that the current strain of the H1N1 swine-flu virus is a "mild" version rather than a pathogenic killer like the 1918 Spanish flu. In fact, seasonal flu kills 500,000 people annually world-wide, a staggering death toll that occurs with hardly any of the public losing a moment's sleep over it.

The WHO's classification system designates a virus as a pandemic based on geography -- the number of countries in which it has been found, not the fatalities produced. The WHO announcing "pandemic" will be like shouting "fire!" in a crowded theater. "Pandemic!" could be the title of an apocalyptic disaster movie.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Swine Flu: Update and How You Can Protect Yourself

The World Health Organization is inching closer to raising the infectious disease alert level for the novel H1N1 influenza (swine flu) outbreak to its highest level, indicating that a pandemic has arrived, but has delayed doing so in an effort to prepare national health organizations and populations for the impact of such an announcement, a top agency official said Tuesday in a telephone news conference.

Swine flu is contagious and spreads from human to human.

The symptoms of the new H1N1 flu virus in people are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. A significant number of people who have been infected with this virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting. Also, like seasonal flu, severe illnesses and death has occurred as a result of illness associated with this virus.

Take these everyday steps to protect your health:

* Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
* Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
* Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
* Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
* Stay home if you are sick for 7 days after your symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer. This is to keep from infecting others and spreading the virus further.
* Optimize your Vitamin D levels

Vitamin D levels in your blood fall to their lowest point during flu seasons. Unable to be protected by the body’s own antibiotics (antimicrobial peptides) that are released by vitamin D, a person with a low vitamin D blood level is more vulnerable to contracting colds, influenza, and other respiratory infections.

Studies show that children with rickets, a vitamin D-deficient skeletal disorder, suffer from frequent respiratory infections, and children exposed to sunlight are less likely to get a cold. The increased number of deaths that occur in winter, largely from pneumonia and cardiovascular diseases, are most likely due to vitamin D deficiency.

* Eat garlic regularly

Other important actions that you can take are:

* Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
* Be prepared in case you get sick and need to stay home for a week or so; a supply of over-the-counter medicines, alcohol-based hand rubs, tissues and other related items might could be useful and help avoid the need to make trips out in public while you are sick and contagious.

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Wash with soap and water or clean with alcohol-based hand cleaner. It's recommended that when you wash your hands -- with soap and warm water -- that you wash for 15 to 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used. You can find them in most supermarkets and drugstores. If using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel doesn't need water to work; the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands.

In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

* Fast breathing or trouble breathing
* Bluish or gray skin color
* Not drinking enough fluids
* Severe or persistent vomiting
* Not waking up or not interacting
* Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
* Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

* Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
* Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
* Sudden dizziness
* Confusion
* Severe or persistent vomiting
* Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

Studies have shown that influenza virus can survive on environmental surfaces and can infect a person for up to 2-8 hours after being deposited on the surface.

Influenza virus is destroyed by heat (167-212°F [75-100°C]). In addition, several chemical germicides, including chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents (soap), iodophors (iodine-based antiseptics), and alcohols are effective against human influenza viruses if used in proper concentration for a sufficient length of time. For example, wipes or gels with alcohol in them can be used to clean hands. The gels should be rubbed into hands until they are dry.

Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air. Germs can be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk, for example, and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.

To prevent the spread of influenza virus, it is recommended that tissues and other disposable items used by an infected person be thrown in the trash. Additionally, persons should wash their hands with soap and water after touching used tissues and similar waste.

Other facts you should be aware of:

* A "pandemic" does not necessarily mean what you think it does, it is NOT black-plague carts being hauled through the streets piled high with dead bodies. Nor does it mean flesh eating zombies wandering the streets feeding on the living. All a pandemic means is that a new infectious disease is spreading throughout the world.

* This is NOT the first swine flu panic! (The last time was in 1976)

* Swine flu is a weak virus

* Nearly all suspected new cases have been reported as mild. Preliminary scientific evidence is also pointing out that this virus is NOT as potent as initially thought.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Abuse

It was the same scenario every time: yelling, accusing me of things he didn’t even know and had to invent, grabbing my arm and giving me that I-can't-stand-you-anymore look. It was impossible to believe that was the same man who had begged for my love and affection years ago. He had promised me the world and to never make me cry. I had once been very happy with him. It hadn’t lasted long though.
He didn’t want to go out with me. Not this evening. Not ever. And now he was going to humiliate me. If I fought back, he would storm outside the house and come home really late, or even the next day.
I'll just shut up, I thought. As usual.
I looked at him, calmly, like he had never yelled. I was fed up, disgusted, and dead inside. He no longer intimidated me.
He hurried toward me and grabbed my right arm, squeezing it. I cried out in pain. "Leave me alone!" I shouted, struggling to free my helpless arm from his monstrous grip.
He gave me another threatening look and let me go. Then he slapped me.
The slap slashed my left cheek, and sent me flying across the floor. I screamed in terror, agony, and contempt. How could my husband have turned into a heartless monster who enjoyed nothing more in life than torturing me?
I had allowed him to long ago. I had given him excuses and decided to love him. And that was the bitter price I had to pay.
I looked up at him. I couldn’t see his eyes anymore. They were obscured by rage.

-- The Years of Silence


What are abusive relationships? What are the different types of abuse (many think it's mostly physical)? What defines them? Have you ever been abused? How did you deal with it? And why and how do people get involved with abusive men/women?

My debut novel The Years of Silence deals with an abusive relationship/marriage in the first chapters and through the heroine's flashbacks throughout the novel. That's why I thought we should discuss abuse and abusive relationships (without spoiling the novel for those who haven't read it - any spoilers will be deleted).

First, let me define abuse: Abuse can be physical, emotional or sexual. It involves humiliation, threats, intimidation...etc.

Signs of an abusive relationship include: physical harm (including slapping, grabbing, shaking, pushing, kicking, punching...etc.); aspects of your own life being controlled (examples include what or what not to do, who to stay in touch with...etc.); frequent humiliation; threats to harm you or themselves; twisting the truth so you are to blame for your partner's actions; constant anger and jealousy...

Emotional withholding, control games, lies, broken promises, and infidelity are also forms of abusive relationships.

Emotional abuse is as damaging as physical abuse because it causes long-term self-esteem issues and emotional disturbances.

Abusers are often survivors of abuse themselves. Abusers act out of deep seated shame and feelings of inadequacy. They seek to pull their partner down to make themselves feel better.

Also, abuse can be a family dysfunction that repeats through generations. The abused becomes the abuser and so continues the cycle.

What many don't know is that unwanted sexual advances that make you uncomfortable are a warning that there's little or no respect in this relationship. If someone tells you, "If you loved me, you would do this or that" that's a warning of possible ABUSE. This tells you how controlling that person is and how what matters is for them to get only what they want, not caring about what YOU want.

So, how do you know if you're in an abusive relationship (even though there are many signs like I've explained earlier to tell you)? Ask yourself: Are you afraid most of the time? If you are, then it's an abusive relationship.

Share your stories, comments and feedback!

Friday, 1 May 2009

Review: The Years of Silence by Marwa Ayad

Review: The Years of Silence by Marwa Ayad

The Years of Silence, told in luminous, poetic prose, is the story of how Maya Seif, a young Egyptian woman who has endured hardship and pain in an abusive marriage, finds her way out of that marriage and begins a journey of self-discovery. In the course of her journey, she reconnects with her first true love, Yusuf Omar, the man her heart never forgot.

Maya's divorce from Shereef is instigated by a tragedy. Two years before, Maya had received an email from Yusuf, her first love, but since she had been married at the time, she hadn't felt comfortable with replying. Now, though, she replies and confides in Yusuf. But he's thousands of miles away, in New York, and going through difficult times himself.

As the story develops, they both think, they can marry and be together forever. But a shock lies in store for Yusuf and Maya, one which threatens to tear them apart forever.

The Years of Silence is contemporary romance at its best: compelling, sympathetic characters, a page-turning plot, and a veritable buffet of food for thought about how people can bring each other down or lift each other up, the mysteries of why some relationships work out but others don't. And The Years of Silence offers deep insight into the joys, complexities, and mystery of true love, itself a life-time journey and the most enriching and rewarding of them all.

~reviewed by Thomma Lyn Grindstaff, author of Mirror Blue

*Thanks so much, Thomma Lyn; your review has made me ecstatic especially coming from an amazing author as you! :)

**Read more about The Years of Silence here.
**Join my Facebook group.

Monday, 27 April 2009

The Years of Silence Now Available (Finally!)



The Years of Silence is now available in these bookstores in Cairo:

Diwan, Virgin Megastore, El-Shorouk, Omar bookstore, Sindbad, El-Balad, Afaaq, Madbouly, Madbouly Al-Sagheir, Rose Al-Yousef, Al-Arabi, Kotob Khan, Sanabel, BookSpot, Master's bookshop and AUC Bookstore.

In Alexandria, you can find my novel at Maarouf bookstore (San Stefano Mall); and soon at Clay Cafe and Al-Ramly bookshop (Green Plaza).

Soon in Mansoura, you can get "The Years of Silence" at Books and Beans.

If you happen to be outside Egypt, my book is going to be available hopefully soon on Amazon. If you don't want to wait, you can order my book by sending an email to: sales@malamih.com (the book will be mailed to you and you pay on delivery); or by ordering it from BookSpotOnline using this link: http://bookspotonline.com/middle.php?file=bookdetails&bookid=43933

I want to thank everyone who attended my first book signing last Friday (24 April, 2009) at Maarouf bookstore (San Stefano Mall - Alexandria); it was a blast! I also want to thank Maarouf bookstore family for their efforts and making that day a very special one. :)

Hopefully I'll be having more signings in Cairo and Alexandria in the near future, so stay tuned!

**Thanks for the great reviews and comments. :) I want to share with you the first review which I was thrilled to get for my novel from Rasha Adel (my friend and a wonderful Egyptian poet/writer):


Your book is so beyond belief ... the characters and the scenes are so beautifully depicted and described ... your care for minute details is awesome...conversations and the brilliant flashbacks .. all so captivating and more ... a native experienced author wouldn't have done it better themselves ...Ii hold not one bit against ur book ... It turned out a happy ending eventually .. yet it was so realistic and optimistic ... this emailing thing was so realistic to me ... U r a Queen when it comes to contemporary fiction ... ur style .. I felt like very close, if not better, to a contemporary fiction author called Charlotte Bingham. WOW!

An Egyptian up-and-coming debut author, Marwa's literary writing has been described as heartwarming, mesmeric and intense. THE YEARS OF SILENCE is believed to be the FIRST English-language ROMANCE novel by an Egyptian author born and raised in Egypt.

THE YEARS OF SILENCE Press Release

Update Nov. 2010:

I've been getting many emails asking me about Malamih Publishing House. My experience with them hasn't really been a positive one. It's really sad because this seemed like a promising publishing house. My novel was released 1.5 year ago and I haven't been paid till now even though I did sign a contract stating otherwise.

But there have always been issues with Malamih, payment or not, and with many other writers, too. The lack or organization, the manager's frequent disappearances so there's really no one to talk to if you need to, messy schedules and deadlines, a million excuses and severe lack of professionalism, not making the novel available on Amazon (except very recently and only a couple of copies), no marketing or promotions of any kind (despite the many promises).

I'm grateful that my debut novel was published by an Egyptian publishing house and the quality of the publishing was good. I had a certain vision of the cover, artwork and all that but I think they did the best they could. And I'm very grateful for the success my novel had with all that I had to face with them.

So please don't email me to ask me about them since I've stated here all that I know.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

An Excerpt of THE YEARS OF SILENCE

A silver frame stood elegantly on a table nearby, and the framed photograph was that of Jannah and Ahmed on their wedding day.

I wondered then if Jannah had ever experienced that special spark of love. Her marriage to Ahmed was traditional, as many marriages here in Egypt. Her family knew his, and they had set them up to meet, and shortly afterwards he proposed. They got married, just like that.
She seemed happy, or rather content. She hardly complained about him, except on rare occasions. They seemed to get along fine. They treated each other with respect and care—an essential ingredient of successful relationships. Yet I often wondered if that was enough, at least for someone like me.

I used to wonder often if there was any single element in a relationship that ensured happiness, and stability. A cousin of mine said it was money; her financial security was the most important thing. One friend said passion, another said respect, and a third said romance. My mother said it had to be appreciation. My father said it was honesty.

Yusuf said that that ingredient had to be love.

“So,” I had asked, “you mean true love?”, and he'd said, “There’s only one kind of love, sweetheart. If it isn’t love, it just isn’t love.”

-- The Years of Silence: A Novel by Marwa Ayad - An excerpt from chapter 11

~ An up-and-coming debut author, Marwa Ayad's literary writing has been described as heartwarming, mesmeric and intense.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

I Dreamed A Dream (From Les Miserables)

There was a time, when men were kind

And their voices were soft

And their words were inviting

There was a time, when love was blind

And the world was a song

And the song was exciting

There was a time it all went wrong



I dreamed a dream in time gone by

When hope was high and life worth living

I dreamed that love would never die

I dreamed that God would be forgiving



Then I was young and unafraid

And dreams were made and used and wasted

There was no ransom to be paid

No song unsung, no wine untasted



But the tigers come at night

With their voices soft as thunder

As they turn your hope apart

As they turn your dreams to shame



He slept a summer by my side

He filled my dreams with endless wonder

He took my childhood in his stride

But he was gone when autumn came



And still I dream he'd come to me

That we would live the years together

But there are dreams that cannot be

And there are storms we cannot weather



I had a dream my life would be

So different from the hell I'm living

So different now from what it seemed

Now life has killed the dream I dreamed




I just felt the lyrics so much. And of course, you can listen to the latest sensation - Susan Boyle here. Enough proof to not rely on first impressions!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

American Idol

I've never really been a huge American Idol fan or anything, but there's something about this season. I wonder if it has to do with the top competitors on the show being really talented. I think the last two to compete for the title will be Adam Lambert and Danny Gokey. By far, they're the best two.

My favorite is Danny Gokey. I've been a fan of him since the first episode. There's something about this guy. I mean apart from his attractive looks (and the fact that he somehow looks like Robert Downey Jr.), his talent shines through, and you can't help but admire his awesome voice, and how down to earth he is. Go, Danny, go! I can't literally wait till this guy makes it to show biz and I start listening to his songs! :)

Friday, 27 March 2009

Enlightment

We - women - grow up to believe we're not good enough. We're never really good enough. A man always says/does/knows it better, whatever that "it" may be. We feel inferior to men in so many ways, and some even take it to the next level and compete with men just to prove women can be/do better than men. So, really, why is that gender discrimination?

I think it starts when we're babies: many parents seem overjoyed when the baby is a boy, not a girl. They say it with such pride, like it's a prize well-earned. In our society, many parents give their male children better education and more money. In our society, males have much more freedom than females in many areas.

As young girls and women, we fantasize about the knight in shining armor who shall save, love, take care of, adore us...our whole world will revolve around him, won't it? The media has done a fantastic job with that, in fact. Most romance movies (or any movies for that matter especially Egyptian ones) are about single women seeking love, consumed by love, struggling with love. Before love, the girl's life is empty, meaningless, and once she finds love and gets married...that's when Happily Ever After begins just as The End (sarcastically enough) fills the screen.

Marriage seems the heroine's mission in life: Single, Armed, Seeking Husband is so often the motto. I'm not saying either such movies depict life after marriage as heaven, no.

Even American movies do that. How many movies have you watched about soul mates and love? I believe in soul mates, but I don't think it's what we see in the movies. I've actually written an article about that. You can read it here.

--To Be Continued

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day:

"Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit."– e. e. cummings

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Quote

Quote of the Day
"Life is what we make it. Always has been, always will be."
– Grandma Moses

Monday, 23 February 2009

"The Years of Silence" Available Soon!




Marwa Ayad's debut English-language novel The Years of Silence (published by Malamih Publishing House) is going to be available in April 2009 at bookstores in Egypt, and later on Amazon.

Narrated by Maya (the heroine), this is a story of great love lost and found, and the risks two people in love are willing to take to be together when their love is the greatest risk of all.

Join my Facebook group!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Another Update

Quote of the Day
"Don't let other people tell you what you want."
– Pat Riley


Several friends who are close to me know that I've been suffering from writer's block after reaching 18k in my current novel-in-progress. I think I'm familiar with the process because this is not my first manuscript. I usually take a break for a few days, or a week, then I try to write again. If my characters are still silent, or uncooperative (yes, really), I persist and try and have a talk with my main character. If that fails, too, then something immediate needs to be done. Ninety-percent of the time it means there's something you're overlooking, missing, or that your story is going a way it shouldn't.

So yesterday I realized that the heroine's best friend has a lot to say, and I haven't been listening to her. She has a very interesting story which is going to take a big part of the novel.

That means, hopefully, I should be back to writing again soon. I haven't been in the best of moods, and it's been windy and dusty which is such a weird weather in winter! I also have a cold which is hopefully going to leave me alone soon.

No date of release from the publishing house yet which is actually really upsetting because the book was supposed to be released last month after all.

My uncle (on my mother's side) got back from Germany a couple of days ago. He had a very complex surgery there in his arm which had to do with tendons and nerves. And I called him, of course, when he got back and it was one of those calls that I don't think I'd forget for a very long time to come. It's actually important to know how others view you, especially wise, older relations. And it's even more amazing when you realize that you're viewed as a 'hero' for what you've done, and who you are today. I was touched beyond words.

Thank you, Uncle Mohamed, for your words, insight, and encouragement.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Quote of the Day:

"When I do things without any explanation, but just with spontaneity…I can be sure that I am right."
Federico Fellini

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Quick Update

  • Trying hard to get some writing, and reading done
  • Feeling bad and helpless because of what's happening to innocent Palestinians in Gaza
Please check out Free Gaza. Urgent donations are needed, so donate if you can via PayPal/check/wire transfer. Every little helps. Not to mention how moral support goes a long way, too. May God Bless and Help them.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Quotes Worth Reading

...and believing in:

"A loving relationship is one in which the loved one is free to be himself -- to laugh with me, but never at me; to cry with me, but never because of me; to love life, to love himself, to love being loved. Such a relationship is based upon freedom and can never grow in a jealous heart." Leo F. Buscaglia

"Falling in love with someone isn't always going to be easy... Anger... tears... laughter.. It's when you want to be together despite it all. That's when you truly love another. I'm sure of it." Anonymous

“A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we’re safe in our own paradise. Our soulmate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction. When we’re two balloons, and together our direction is up, chances are we’ve found the right person. Our soulmate is the one who makes life come to life.” Richard Bach

“I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out.” Roy Croft

Find a guy who calls you beautiful instead of hot, who calls you back when you hang up on him, who will lie under the stars and listen to your heartbeat, or will stay awake just to watch you sleep... wait for the boy who kisses your forehead, who wants to show you off to the world when you are in sweats, who holds your hand in front of his friends, who thinks you' re just as pretty without makeup on. One who is constantly reminding you of how much he cares and how lucky he is to have YOU... The one who turns to his friends and says, "That's her..."
-- Author Unknown

I don't pretend to know what love is for everyone, but I can tell you what it is for me; love is knowing all about someone, and still wanting to be with them more than any other person, love is trusting them enough to tell them everything about yourself, including the things you might be ashamed of, love is feeling comfortable and safe with someone, but still getting weak knees when they walk into a room and smile at you.
-- Author Unknown

I miss you when something really good happens, because you're the one I want to share it with. I miss you when something is troubling me, because you're the one who understands me so well. I miss you when I laugh and cry, because I know that you are the one that makes my laughter grow, and my tears disappear. I miss you all the time, but I miss you the most when I lay awake at night, and think of all the wonderful times that we spent with each other for those were some of the best and most memorable times of my life.
-- Author Unknown

Just because someone doesn't love you the way you want them to, doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have.
-- Author Unknown