Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Short Winner

Finally, some writing related news. My story, Newton's Hope, has just received "joint" first prize in the RSPublishing 'Short Not Sweet' competition for short fiction. The story is available electronically through the publisher's website.

"Newton's Hope is a sojourn of a musing mind as an astronaut orbits Earth. But there is a dilemma which reminds one of the classic quantum conundrum Schrodiger and his cat proposed sixty odd years ago. Except this time the reality of the situation is inside out." - RSPublishing

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Rock 'n' Roll

We are finally set for the shoot on Friday. It’s been one helluva rollercoaster ride already, and it’s seemingly no where near slowing down anytime soon, in fact, it’s highly likely it’ll accelerate in speed and intensity more and more.

We’ve got ourselves a new cameraman and an editor, who from the engaging conversations we’ve had, seem to know what they are talking about and have the actual skills and talent for the job, and that’s a big relief.

I’ve been using the Sony mini-DV HC90E to capture some footage of the making of the documentary. It would’ve been preferable to film it on the Canon XL-1 but that’s now going to be used as one of the main cameras on set.

The crew is complete and ready. The location is set and ready. The candidates are chosen and ready. Cameras are in place.

We are ready to roll!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

On The Way To Pleasantville

Due to unforeseeable obstacles, which I won’t delve into now, the filming of Models of Success has been pushed back a week. We are now looking into next Saturday for the first day of shooting.

The whole team is now working intensively to revise the production schedule and ensure everything falls in the right place. As for the book, I’ve penned down the introductory chapter and two of the interviews/features of women so far.

We also visited the location of the shoot the other day and inspected the environment and surroundings. It’s a beautiful location which we believe is perfect for the film. We are still all upbeat and looking forward to it.

In other writing-related news, I’ve finally received the first feedback on my collection of short stories, Moments, and I am glad to convey to you that it was mostly positive. I met Paul Lumsden, who is an English Instructor at a Canadian college, at the Cambridge seminar and he was kind enough to read my manuscript and give me his impressions on it:

Let me share some of his comments with you: “I particularly enjoyed the narratives of the section ‘In Which We Dream’. ‘Fallen Gods’ your inter-textually playful fable of gods, was a highlight of the collection for me. Your collection demonstrated a wide range of narrative genres (even some speculative fiction ‘Writer's Block’) with related themes of loneliness, being picked on by impersonal forces, searching (and questioning) one's place and identity, not to overlook the violence (the 16 year old with a knife, self mutilating--wielding the knife as a substitute phallic was arresting--some fine writing here.) I thought your placement of the narrative in ‘Lemonade and Snowflakes’ was brilliant, manipulative to a certain degree. Overall, I was pleasantly impressed.”

Saturday, January 21, 2006

One More Time

I bet you’re all wondering about the ‘regular’ updates I promised on Models of Success… well, you are looking at the new co-producer (in addition to being a writer) of the project!

Today, just like yesterday, and the day before, has been a long and mostly positive day. The process is gaining momentum and we are venturing into the heart of the production phase. We have spent almost six fascinating and sometimes frustrating hours - in which the catch phrase of the day was 'one more time' - laying out the audio tracks for the film.

Yesterday I also had a very positive brainstorming session with our graphic designer, who will be working with me on the book. I think we have ourselves a basic idea for the cover already, as well as the interior design. A couple of extra features will also be ‘featured’ in the book. So far, I got three interviews out of the way… seven to go.

Tomorrow is a fate-defining day. We have a very important meeting which will basically give us a clear idea on where we stand in terms of production facilities and equipment, but we are upbeat about it and believe (or hope) it will go smoothly.

I’m hoping to get some photos posted here, soon as I have the time to upload them.

Ciao for now.

Monday, January 16, 2006

You Are 'Vehe'mently Ill

The momentum is building up. We start shooting on Sunday. I’m dead excited, finally a chance to have first-hand filmmaking experience.

The last couple of days have been all meetings, production discussions, interviews and rehearsals. We’ve got a number of people coming on board who we feel we’ll be a positive addition to the project.

One thing I’m already starting to realize when you are involved in such a project is, paying a great deal of attention to detail. And that you have to think fast and talk fast. God, I’ve not spoken that much in such a short time ever!

Regardless, things are looking up and hopefully, come Sunday, the cameras will be rolling.

On another note… don’t we all just love spam! Here is a good reason why (I got this today in my junk mail)…

“Randi (28) here... I vèhemently, havĂ« to come upon counterparts”

Even I, a writer, would’ve had difficulty placing the word 'vehemently' in a sentence. Hilarious!

Friday, January 13, 2006

We Have Take Off

Models of Success is picking up nicely and from tomorrow I will commence with the interviewing the women candidates included in the book. I have already finished the second draft of the first chapter which tackles one of the historical back sories, and after another amusing meeting with producer/writer Art Jones, I’m feeling good about it.

We discussed our approach regarding the interviews, length and content in addition to the book’s layout, design and visuals. I’ve come up with a new concept for the sequencing of the book which Art got very excited about. Hopefully it’ll transpire well on paper.

That’s my quick update on the project for now.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Thank You & Goodnight

Today’s event might have been no where near close to my previous book signing (in which I first launched QuixotiQ) but it was a pleasurable experience nonetheless. My anxiety soon disappeared once I settled down and people began approaching me, showing interest in my book.

To every single person who took a few moments of their time to stand there and chat with me, and those who bought a copy, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. It’s truly heartwarming to see that people are genuinely supportive and interested in literary works by local talents.

And all I had to do was keep smiling and politely ask passers-by if they’d care to take a look! And I’ve gone with this event with minimum publicity and promotion, hoping to feel the reaction of the public. The response, even though somewhat modest, was still very encouraging.

So once again, thank you all for your time and support.

And if you couldn’t make it today, don’t worry, Booksplus still have a number of copies stocked on their shelves. QuixotiQ is also available online through all major online booksellers (ie Amazon, Barnes & Noble).

To view more photos from today’s event, please click here.

(I'd like to take this moment to pay my condolences to the people who have lost their lives performing Hajj in Saudi Arabia. Our prayers go out to their families.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Come & Join Me

The Gulf Weekly ran an interview with me in this week's edition, published today, in which I basically talk about QuixotiQ, writing, and my latest projects. Check it out. (Thanks Olivia for the lovely interview, it was a pleasure. And many happy returns on your birthday.)

You can now also read about the recent launch of my website as well as tomorrow's book signing event at Booksplus, Seef Mall, here. I will be there from 11.30am to 1.30pm.

Anyone interested in a little chatter about books and literature, come over if you have a few moments to spare.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Figuratively Speaking

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think that figurative expressions are as popular in our cultural as they once were. There are quite a few that are still to this day spoken in our day to day life (the likes of ‘burry the hatchet’, ‘my cup of tea’, and ‘cool as cucumber’!). But many, I feel, are being forgotten, gathering dust at the back of our ancient language.

Recently, I came across an old book. I found it on the shelf of the neglected bookcase in the hall. It had the title ‘The Key to English: Figurative Expressions’, which apparently was part of a series of books on the English language published by the Macmillan Company. The first edition was printed in 1966.

Reading through the expressions featured in the 90-page-book I was quite fascinated. Many of those either I couldn’t understand or have never heard or read before. But then I remembered and realized that most of these would’ve made a whole lot more sense 40 years ago. I would doubt that many people out there actually use the expression “take coals to Newcastle” anymore!

At the same time, being a non-native English speaker, I never really had, or felt the urge, to use any figurative expressions. Of course that changed when I began writing and eventually realized that such expressions are an essential part of the language, even if not used as often as it was. Having said that, my girlfriend sometimes throws random figurative expressions at me and I find myself feeling silly at asking what she actually meant by them.

I wonder though, if today, one would, in describing a blunder he has made, dare claiming to have… “Pulled a boner!”

I know I wouldn’t.


Sunday, January 08, 2006

Official Website Launched

You can now log on to www.alialsaeed.com for everything related to me and my work. The official website is finally online. It featured a wide variety of features, and I'm hoping to keep enhancing it over the coming few months.

I've eventually decided to go with a hosting package from Compila.com and so far I'm happy with that choice. I'm still getting the hang of it though, with a little help from my bro.

Any comments? Let me know what you think of it.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Thursday Event & Update

Location: Booksplus, Seef Mall
Date: Thursday, January 12th
Time: From 11.30am to 1.30pm

Look like everything is set for a book signing event this week. A special announcement will be made within the next few days.

Meanwhile, work on Models of Success has begun. I’m currently writing the first introductory chapter which will feature an insight into a historical figure that had a major influence in the Arab and Muslim world

The book will also highlight the success stories of 10 inspirational and influential women, from Bahrain and around the Gulf region, who have had a significant role in our modern society. I will begin interviewing them one by one starting next week.

The aim of the book, as is the case with the film, is to showcase the role and contribution of modern Arab and Muslim women in our world today and present them as role models for the younger generations and at the same time bettering the image of Arab women around the world.

The documentary, Models of Success, is a project of US-based Dream Factory and is being written and produced by Art Jones. It is hoped to be completed and launched by March.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

New Mag in Town

The newest magazine to hit the Bahrain newsstand, Clientele, could easily become the number one English lifestyle magazine in the country. It was launched in November and just has it's second bi-monthly issue published.

From what I've seen so far I'm impressed. Finally a magazine that is both good to look at and to read! The layout, design and visuals are extremely appealing, while the content is varied, balanced and well presented. A publication that one would be pleased to be associated with.

The next few months will determine how well the magazine is going to do and it will depend, on my opinion, on maintaining the highest standards in terms of content and material it offers to the readers. The website www.clientele-magazine.com is still under construction.

Monday, January 02, 2006

New Year, Newly Published!

What a way to start off 2006!

Firstly, in the space of a little over 48 hours, I had two travel essays accepted for a special edition travel guide!

My last minute submissions were kindly accepted by Celeste Heiter, the editor of a travel book focusing on Japan travel experiences, written by writers from around the world. As you all recall, I have visited Osaka, Japan, for four days last April. A trip of a lifetime it was!

My two contributions, ‘Song of the Nightingale’ and ‘Osaka’s Grand Vision’, will appear in To Asia with Love: A Connoisseur's Guide to Japan, a travel guide which will be published this spring by Things Asian Press.

Secondly, and more importantly, I will be involved in a major project here in Bahrain. A US production company is working on a unique educational and inspirational documentary film and I am proud to announce that I have been commissioned to write the companion book for it, or rather the extended book version of the film.

I am genuinely excited about this project and looking forward to working on it. I promise you more info and details regarding the documentary as well as the book itself. Within the next couple of weeks, there will be, hopefully, regular updates on its progress.