Archives for posts with tag: writing

Kindle Sale begins today. From Friday 8th-Friday 15th 2017, you can get Faces in the Water for just $0.99 or 99p. Click on the country link to buy it now: UK   US

When I was a little girl, I wrote stories all the time. My favourite one was about a pair of magical tap shoes that transported the child who wore them into a strange and mysterious land with weird, stinky monsters, who were actually much nicer than they looked! I think I even won a prize at the local book store for writing a story, although I can’t remember what that was about. I wrote and wrote and told stories and imagined and dreamed, right up until I started GCSEs, and then I think school got busy, and there was homework and sports and dancing to do in my spare time. I still wrote at school, but I stopped writing stories when I was at home. It wasn’t until I started university that it occurred to me I had lost a part of me when I stopped writing. I wanted to take an optional creative writing module as part of my English and Theatre Studies degree, but they wouldn’t let me apply without a portfolio of work.

Well, I didn’t have a portfolio of work!

All my life, I had considered myself a writer; writing and storytelling was what I did. But all of a sudden, I felt like a fraud. How could I be a real writer if, at the grand old age of 19, I didn’t have a portfolio of creative writing?!

So that was that – I wasn’t a writer anymore. And as my first year at university went on, I decided I wasn’t a dancer or a performer anymore either, and that I was terrible at netball and sports in general. I stopped doing the things that made me feel alive: I stopped socialising and performing and writing and playing sports. I studied (but not very well), I went to the gym, and I locked myself away in my room a lot. Needless to say, it wasn’t the best time of my life.

I remember very vividly the time I started writing again because in that moment, a little spark of ‘Sarah the writer’ was rekindled and I began to remember who I was again. I was on holiday with my family in France, and I was sitting on my own at the top of a grassy meadow that looked out over the fields below. I had drawn my knees into my chest and bowed my head to rest on them. Bright, golden sun shone through the curtain of hair that had fallen across my face, making it glitter and sparkle. I felt safe and peaceful, as though I had been transported into a magical space all of my own, and a story came to me about a young girl who lived in a little wooden hut on the edge of a forest. This girl could talk to the sunlight; she could cup it in her hands and mold it like clay.

That was the start of Faces in the WaterTen years later, after several rewrites, I finally finished my first novel. Most of the story had changed from that initial moment, but the essence of it had stayed the same. At the heart of it, there was still a shy but determined young girl trying to keep hold of her identity.

Two years ago, I finally published Faces in the Water. It is a book that is very precious to me: it got me through those tough early twenties when I was still trying to work out who I really was; and it carried me right the way through to my early thirties, when I finally found the confidence to say to people, ‘I am a writer.’

Unfortunately, I missed Faces’ 1st birthday (I was too wrapped up in enjoying maternity leave and writing cute Christmas stories for my little girls!) but this year, to celebrate the 2nd anniversary of Faces in the Water finally being published, we are having a Kindle sale. I am launching a countdown sale from today (8th December 17) and for the next seven days (until 15th December) you can pick up the Kindle edition of Faces in the Water for just $0.99c or 99p. So, what are you waiting for? Click on one of these links now and go and buy it: UK download; US download. And then tell all your friends about it too!

Oh, and if you enjoy it, don’t forget to pop back to Amazon to leave a review or send me an email: sarahmahfoudhz@gmail.com.

Happy reading!

Sarah

x

Author and Editor

www.sarahmahfoudh.com

www.rawmixture.co.uk

www.instagram.com/mahfoudhsarah

 

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Last week on my Instagram feed (@mahfoudhsarah), I wrote about how much I love this time of year:

The changing weather, autumn colours and the approach of Christmas (yep, I said it!), seem to send me into creative overdrive!

And it’s true. At this time of year, I always start trying to draw again (trying, being the operative word!), and I want to do lots of crafts and write new stories, and bake. And I absolutely love making books. In fact, I’ve just come across a little book I made for a friend’s wedding a few autumns ago.

It is just a cute little love story I laid up into a hand-bound book. It is by no means a super-polished masterpiece, but it was written from the heart and I thought it would be nice to share it with the world. So here it is. You can also download the PDF version here.

I hope you enjoy it. xx

 

 

Happy-ever-after

© 2017 Sarah Mahfoudh.  All rights reserved.  

QuoteThe light flickered into existence on the horizon, and Emerald felt the familiar burn of desire ignite in her chest. It was exhilarating, and frightening and utterly unquenchable.

Quietly, so as not to wake her housemates, she eased the window up, scrambled onto the extension roof outside, and jumped down to the damp grass a few metres below. She set off at a run the moment her feet hit the ground, the glimmer of the distant firelight filling her eyes and her mind, and the allure of its promise racing through her blood like a drug. In the cold, starlit night, she crossed fields and streams, scrambled over hedgerows, and veered around trees.

The autumn wind whipped her hair back from her face so that it could whistle soft words in her ear: ‘Not far, my love. Not far to happy-ever-after.’

She smiled and pushed on.

But a cloud, watching from above chuckled. ‘Nothing lasts forever,’ it rumbled. ‘Everything changes.’

Fat, heavy raindrops tumbled from the sky. ‘T-u-r-n-b-a-c-k,’ they warned as they drummed against her bare arms and face. ‘T-u-r-n-b-a-c-k.’

‘You see,’ said the diminishing cloud. ‘Soon I will be a stream, not a cloud. Nothing is constant. No love will last forever.’

‘Shhh,’ hissed the wind.

spreadEmerald merely smiled and kept on running. She took no notice of the water that streamed down her back and plastered her hair to her face. Her heart was light and her soul sang for joy as she came ever closer to her one true love.

After a long while, she reached the bottom of a mountain, and there, way above, burned the fire that had called to her. She started to climb, but the mountain was steep and high, and her legs soon became weary. She climbed and climbed, and climbed some more, as the night grew thicker and a sharp frost crept across the rocky ground. But as hard as she climbed, the fire never seemed any closer. The longing in her heart started to weigh on her mind, and her elation turned to hopeless despair. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she sank to her knees, breathless and exhausted.

 

The night grew still: the wind had stopped its wishful whispering, and the grumbling cloud had poured itself onto the fields far below.

Up above, the sky sparkled with billions of crystal stars that chimed down at her, telling her she was nearly there. But they were too far away for her to hear. Emerald closed her eyes and wept.

The earth shuddered beneath her. ‘Everything worth having must be worked for,’ it reminded her. ‘Climb.’

And after a moment’s pause, she did. She climbed and climbed, and climbed some more, but she no longer dared to hope that she would find what she was looking for at the top.

At long last, she hauled herself over the peak of the mountain and there, just a few paces away, burning so brightly the whole mountain-top was stained orange in its glow, was the fire that had called to her from miles away. And all around couples danced to a secret melody that only they could hear.

The people were exquisite: the women’s gowns dripped with jewels, whilst their long hair fell to their waists in glorious curls and their animated faces were flushed with the spirit of the party. The men, adorned in silk, were equally divine with their chiselled features and piercing eyes that flashed in the dancing light. Emerald’s heart gave a bird-like flutter. She would meet her one true love tonight amongst these lustrous, enchanting dancing folk. How could she have ever doubted it? She could sense him, just beyond her sight, perhaps at the other side of the fire or in the feathery shadows that wavered at the edge of the light.

She took a step forwards into the flurry of dancers. None of them looked at her, but they twisted outwards gracefully, leaving an open space that led into the centre of the circle. She kept on walking, feeling the pull of her life-long dream; and then suddenly, unexpectedly, she was gathered up into an embrace, and before she knew what was happening, she was spinning around and around in time to an invisible orchestra. The music swelled as the mountain-top and the fire vanished to be replaced by the majestic marble arches and polished floor of a Fairy ballroom.

And now the radiant, laughing couples looked at her and beamed as she danced past, but she looked beyond them to the great hall and what she saw made her gasp, for the walls were covered from floor to ceiling in diamonds that shivered and twinkled in the hypnotic candlelight.

It was all so delicious – so awe-inspiring – and it was some time before it occurred to Emerald that she had not yet looked at her dancing partner. But he, of course, was the reason she was here: it was the beating of his heart and the fire of his passion that had drawn her to this place. Her pulse quickened and her legs trembled. Slowly, she turned her head to look at her one true love and her breath caught in her throat. He was the most divine being she had ever seen: his high cheekbones, his glistening eyes, his wonderfully bowed lips – everything about him was perfect, and yet … And yet, he was not the one. She did not love him.

Instantly, the room went dark, the music stopped, and Emerald stumbled forwards as the weight of her dancing partner’s body was ripped away. She fell to the ground, lost in an impenetrable darkness. There was not a sound; not a gust of wind or a trickle of water. She turned her face upwards, but there were no stars. Beneath her, she could feel the jagged rock of the mountain.

How had it all gone so wrong? How could she have lost everything in just that one glance?

Perhaps there really was no such thing as true love, she thought miserably as she curled into a ball and closed her eyes against the empty blackness. Perhaps she had spent her life wishing for a fairy tale that would never come true. Well, at least she knew now and she would never again waste time wishing and hoping.

She did not know how much time passed in that desolate nowhere, but when the soft thud of footsteps brought her back to her senses, she opened her eyes to find that the world had reappeared in a roseate haze. She was at the edge of a wood that looked out over a lush, green valley. She knew this place well. On the other side of the trees was the dreary little village where she woke up every day and got dressed for work, where she cooked dinner and passed her evenings in front of the telly. It was as far from fairyland and happy-ever-after as anywhere, and yet, as she watched the burning sky on the horizon turn from pink to red to fiery orange, her heart skipped (just once) at the possibility of a new day.

But no: she didn’t want to hope anymore, so she turned away just as the sun peeped its head up over the edge of the world and sunlight burst across the valley. She refused to let herself be comforted by the warmth of the sunrise on her back. She stepped towards the shade of the trees, keen to be swallowed up in the woody gloom, but as she did so another figure stepped out into the light.

‘Seb,’ she breathed.

Normal, ordinary, good-hearted Seb, who she had known ever since school, grinned at her and her heart leapt.

‘Emerald, what are you doing here?’

heart

At the sound of his voice, Emerald found herself smiling. She raised her hand to her mouth, needing to feel the curl of her lips to believe that it was true. And of course, it was! Where the glorious valley and dazzling sunrise had failed to bring her hope, one utterance from Seb had brought the wonder of life flooding back to her. She gazed at him, struck dumb by this revelation, and as she looked into his eyes, her soul stretched its wings and floated up from the depths. Blissful warmth flooded through her and she felt the colour rise in her cheeks. Seb looked back at her with a bemused smile, waiting for her to reply, but she couldn’t speak or move; she simply stood and stared and wondered why she had never before noticed how dazzling his smile was or how his eyes glittered with a disarming mischief or how indescribably, irrationally happy he made her feel.

She walked towards him and held out her hands, and he took them without hesitation, looking straight into her eyes. Emerald beamed inside and out.

 

A light breeze flittered past her ear. ‘Well done, my love,’ it sighed. ‘I think you’ve found your happy-ever-after.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cloves & Ginger began life as a healthy-living blog around five years ago. It was a platform for me to share a few recipes and workout ideas, and write about healthy food choices. Over time, my idea of what healthy-living means has broadened. Healthy-living is not just about eating well and doing the odd exercise session – it is about finding the right balance in every area of your life. Put very simply, being healthy means having a healthy body, a healthy mind, healthy relationships, and a healthy environment, which means that in order to be healthy we need to do the things that nourish our bodies and minds.

I have always needed to exercise on a regular basis to stay sane; but over the past few years, I have come to realise that finding time to write every day is just as essential to my well-being. If I miss a few writing days, I begin to feel down and grouchy, and then I notice that my other healthy habits (like eating well, exercising, dancing, walking outside, and having fun with my family) all begin to go out the window too!

There is a wonderful saying doing the rounds on the internet at the moment:

 

Make a list of things that make you happy.

Make a list of things you do every day.

Compare the lists.

Adjust accordingly.

 

I love this little nugget of wisdom. For me, this is what health is: finding the things that make you feel alive and energised, and then trying to do those things as often as possible.

Up until now, I have mostly kept my creative writing work separate from my healthy-living writing, but if being creative is part of my healthy lifestyle, it seems only fair to let it become part of the Cloves & Ginger blog too. This is all a rather long-winded way of warning you that you might begin to notice the occasional post about my latest novel or an extract from a story popping up on here.

I hope you continue to visit Cloves & Ginger and enjoy the range of subjects I share.

My YA fantasy novel is available to buy on Kindle (US link; UK link) or in print, here. To find out more about my writing and publications, please visit www.sarahmahfoudh.com and feel free to get in touch at any time by emailing me: sarahmahfoudhz@gmail.com.

for kindleA short while ago, I wrote a non-health and fitness related blog, telling you that my children’s picture book, Lilly Mae, had just been published. I hope you will all indulge me once again and allow me to tell you about an even bigger project I have been working on – my debut Young Adult Fantasy novel, Faces In The Water.

I started writing this story quite some time ago (over ten years ago, in fact) and it has taken me a long time to get to a point where I am happy to share it with other people, but I’m finally there and I’m really proud of it.

For a sneak peek at the first chapter, head over to my writing website here.

Faces In The Water is available now on Kindle  (US & UK) and in print.

Happy Reading.

x

 

OK, so this is not really health and fitness related but since I’ve been sharing my love of writing with you over the past couple of weeks and since one of my main goals for the February ‘Love Yourself’ project was to make time for writing, I’ve decided you’d forgive me for mixing things up a little bit. One of my children’s books is finally published! I’m so excited and it was just the boost I needed to keep me motivated and inspired this month. I’ve just written a blog post about how it all began over at the publisher’s website, here, so I thought I might as well share the good news with you lot as well.

My lovely little picture book, Lilly Mae, is a collaboration between myself (the writer) and my extremely talented sister, Ruth (the illustrator). It tells the tale of a feisty little girl who lives on a cloud and changes the weather according to her moods. If you’re at all interested in children’s books and beautiful design, please do head over to our website and take a look www.lillymaebook.co.uk.

Right, there we go: shameless plug and bragging over. I shall return to well-being related posts tomorrow. 🙂

x