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Star Guest of the Month

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I'm always pleased to hear the success stories of former students of mine, so I thought I'd start a monthly blog to share them with you. My star guest today is Maya Mawlawi, who took my online writing course a few years ago. Her first book was published in Arabic and last year won the award  'Best Children’s Book in the Middle East'.

I asked Maya to tell us a bit about herself.

Of Lebanese origin but raised in New York, I had the best of both worlds; the deep ties to Lebanese family oriented culture (and the bonus of speaking multiple languages), as well as the freedom that exposure to the West brings with it.  I went to school and university in New York and worked in Advertising at McCann Erickson before moving to Beirut to work at BBDO and experience my fun 20’s in the vibrant party city of Beirut. One husband and three kids later, I enjoy painting and experimenting from my ever expanding cook book collection.  I also truly enjoy developing the ideas that come to my head into easily readable children’s books.

I'm delighted to hear that you've had a book published since taking my course and have also being commissioned to write another one. Can you tell us about your work.

My first book is about two young boys who meet a dangerous stranger online while playing on an Internet game site. This story through a captivating example warns children about the potential dangers of the Internet and provides them with tips on safe "surfing". Furthermore, the heroes of this story solve the problem on their own, avoiding any cliché endings in which an adult saves the day and preaches a moral lesson. It is published in Arabic by ASALA publishers, a leading Middle Eastern Children’s book publisher and aimed at children aged 7-13. My name on the book is Maya Mawlawi Nasser and the official book title in Arabic is “Zeid wu Jad fi warta” meaning Zeid and Jad in trouble.

My next book is about children living with food allergies and will be published as a bi-lingual text in a side by side format in English and Arabic.

The tips you gave me and lessons I learned from your course proved so valuable in making my story the success it was.

 Congratulations Maya. That's wonderful news. And I'm so pleased you found my advice helpful. I wonder if you'd mind telling us a bit more about yourself.

How did you get started writing?

 I have always enjoyed reading children’s books, particularly the works of Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein and at a later age, Judy Blume. I have always been creative and imaginative so I thought, let’s give it a shot.

 Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?

I love to cook and paint. These are the two areas of my everyday life in which I feel euphoric.

What’s your top writing tip for new writers?

Just get started, the hardest part is tackling a blank page but it flows from there. Don’t worry about grammar and spelling and formatting at first, just get your ideas down and go back for editing later.

Great tip, Maya. Thank you for talking to us today. Good luck with your future writing.

If you're a former student of mine and would like to share your success story with us, please contact me.

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