I’m ALIVE! aka May the 4th Be With You

Well I came, I saw, I got COVID, and I LIVED bitches!!!

Quarantine is over, I am symptom free and grocery shopping never felt so good!

Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, now to pressing news.

As someone raised in an Orthodox Christian household I will, without fail, have an automatic thought following someone saying ‘May the force be with you’. Those who went to church on the regular at some point in their lives know what I’m talking about.

May the Force be with you.

And also with you.

lol

But yes, that is the reason today’s post is on Tuesday rather than monday. It is Star Wars Day! May the 4th or, as some are now saying This is the May, holds a special place in my heart. Star Wars is an epic example of storytelling at it’s finest.

While some might argue that it is a fantasy that happens to be in space and others staunchly claim it as sci-fi (I’m in the middle just happy to be here) it cannot be denied that Star Wars, the original trilogy along with its many adaptations, have withstood the test of time.

That is my ultimate goal. Not to be as big as Star Wars (my ego isn’t that big quite yet) but to be something that can be enjoyed this year, next year, and fifty years from now. Another example is the many works of Tolkien.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m not looking for any level of fame from being an author (though it would be a nice fringe benefit for sure). I am seeking to share my stories with an eager audience so that they can be a part of the worlds I create.

It is my greatest hope that not just this generation, but also those to follow, enjoy my books.

Happy Star Wars Day!

COVID & What Ace Representation Means To Me

One of the things authors are constantly striving for is something new. Something different but most importantly, something unexpected. When the idea of making the protagonist of my story ace (asexual) first occurred to me it was simply because it was something I had almost never seen in contemporary literature, let alone fantasy.

Little did I know the impact that decision would have. I received messages from people thanking me profusely for including a character “like them” in a leading role. It was humbling and made me realize that as a Caucasian female there is no lack of literary heros for me to look up to. However, for those with invisible/chronic illnesses (like Ezra’s) or people who are part of the ‘+’ in LGBTQ+ that representation can mean everything.

I remember watching Community and calling my friend who recommended it, excited to the point of being giddy because one of the characters was (like myself) Palestinian. I was thrilled! The idea that I’ve brought even a modicum of that kind of joy to others is almost overwhelming.

My plan is to continue to explore underutilized facets of human nature so that everyone can feel like they are represented.

In other news, April 20th I tested positive. Not for weed, which would have been appropriate on 4/20. No I tested positive for COVID-19. Since then I have been in isolation. I lived a similar life during Shelter in Place but I don’t remember it being this hard.

At least with shelter in place I could go to the store. Aside from walks with Gipsy I don’t even leave my condo. Partly so I don’t expose others but also because I don’t really have the energy. In addition I’m almost constantly dizzy which rules out just driving around just for a change of scenery.

I don’t normally handle isolation that well but who knows. Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of a writer who can’t go outside give me hope that at least my quarantine will be interesting!

Bye for now!

Tiktok

I used wheelofnames.com to pick the winner

I recently held a contest on my Tiktok account page3master for a signed copy of my book. I got a good amount of engagement as far as likes/comments/shares considering it was my first time trying anything like this.

That being said, I know a lot of my followers don’t have or are not interested in Tiktok (stares blatantly at my sister Laura…) so I will also be having contests for free copies based on my Insta as well as my Facebook so keep an eye out for those announcements!

Navigating the world of Tiktok as yet another platform upon which I am trying to promote myself has been interesting for sure. In the past two weeks I’ve gone from around 30 to over 200 followers. To maintain and grow even more will require that I devote more time and attention to it but anything that helps me on my literary journey is worth it! If you’re on Tiktok check me out!

Handle is pag3master

Bye for now!

Baby’s First Birthday & A Foreshadowed Change

Effective this past Friday, March 26th, The Sword & Shield has been available to the public for a year. It is officially one year old, which hardly seems real but apparently it is so I can deal with that reality in a future therapy session.

So many amazing opportunities and experiences have opened up to me courtesy of this debut novel and I would not be where I am without the love and support of my friends and family.

I had hoped to go to more than the three events I was able to attend in 2020 before COVID happened which has left me with a rather large inventory of physical copies. If you would like a signed copy of your own my venmo is ‘Emkho’, it is $18 inluding shipping, and I mail next day! If interested, go to the Contact page on emmakhoury.com and send a message with your venmo username (so I can verify it’s you who sent payment) along with the address where I will be mailing it.

On a related note I have some sad news followed immediately by some fantastic news. My agent, the wonderfully marvelous Alyssa, is stepping back from life as a literary agent to follow pursuits more in line with her dreams. My initial thought was panic (as per usual) but then practical Emma took over. I reached out to Amy, a contact I made at the Writer’s Digest Conference I attended in Cincinnati a few years ago and asked if she knew of any literary agents who might be willing to take me on as a client.

She rapidly and vehemently responded stating that she herself was interested in being my new agent. This, dear readers, was essentially my best case scenario and I was overjoyed. After a ‘getting to know you’ Zoom call she sent me a contract and I signed it.

Emma Khoury is currently under new representation and ready to take the literary world by storm!

Bye for now!

Happy? Anniversary & AUDIOBOOK

This past Saturday marked exactly one year, 365 days, since I was sent to work from home temporarily until covid was over. One year later and I might be going back to the office on a part time basis this fall/winter. At least, that’s what I’ve been told.

It’s been a wackadoo 12 months, that’s for sure.

Ironically, it was not my worst year all things considered. I made positive career decisions at my company, became a published author, took great strides in achieving a healthier me both physically and emotionally, and have been dating someone steadily for the past 2 and a half months.

In the immediate future I look forward to removing the splint I now wear after spraining the tendon that runs down the pinky after falling down the stairs as well as the publishing of my YA novel Seer!!!!

This last week my book was included as part of a multi-book promo that Amazon did wherein my book was 99 Cents! On that day I ended up selling almost 800 copies of the e-book so things like this ended up happening:

And last but certainly not least, my audiobook is done and available for sale!

The Sword and Shield by Emma Khoury | Audiobook | Audible.com

Criticism Can Be Scary

woman and girl lying in bed while holding book

There’s a reason we don’t tell people their babies are ugly, that if they put a bow on their head it might distract from how lumpy and misshapen it is. There are actually many reasons but the one that is most relevant to this post is because that baby’s parents love it (and would probs kick your ass).

Likewise I love my writing. Not all the time. Sometimes it’s a dumpster fire that needs to be extinguished. But when it comes to the final product (as is the case with Sword & Shield, Seer, and my children’s book) I truly love them as they are.

That was the premise of what I wrestled with myself for two hours deciding on last Wednesday morning and then ruminated on the rest of the week. As my weekly readers are aware, I wrote a children’s book this past summer. It has a rhyming scheme which is not necessarily ‘in’ at the moment in the publishing world but it serves a purpose. A publisher responded to my agent regarding the book’s book proposal and said they liked it and would possibly interested if I could produce a version that didn’t rhyme. So I got up at the ass crack of dawn Wednesday morning and sat at my laptop and tried to unravel and reweave a cohesive story.

I couldn’t do it.

Two verses in I was already miserable. It felt like I was destroying the very essence of the story as well as the details that made it special in the first place. With a lead weight in my stomach I reached out to my agent and asked that she let the publisher know about the good reasons for my book rhyming and that I can’t change it while maintaining the integrity of the manuscript.

You have to be open to feedback but also willing to stand your ground when you feel strongly about something. Still waiting to hear if the publisher will want to move forward with the original manuscript but if not, at least I know that when it does get published, it will be a final product I am happy with.

Bye for now!

Sorry I Went M.I.A. Last Week

A lot was going on in my life last week and I had no mental energy to spare for a blog post. That being said, after a quick respite, I’m back on my A-Game!

Updates in the life of Emma:

My agent is shopping a children’s book I wrote out to publishing companies and if you guys could send me some positive vibes and luck that would be greatly appreciated!

I have finished my edits on Seer and now am just waiting for the final proof before the whole thing is approved.

I haven’t written much for The Sword & Shield sequel as of late but that’s about to change. Starting this week I will be dedicating 30 minutes in the morning/30 minutes in the evening to writing and I will not be allowed to leave my desk until I have expended those 30 minutes on writing and ONLY writing.

Re-arranging my external and internal spaces. I’m making some changes to the layout of my condo to take full advantage of the space. In addition I’m going to be going through every piece of clothing I own and either selling/donating it or keeping it and PUTTING IT AWAY. Internally, I went to a seminar that prompted me to buy one of the speaker’s products. It’s a 30 day mindfulness journal and I’m hoping it will help me to realign mentally.

That’s everything that’s been going on in my life,

Bye for now!

5 Ways I Found To Relieve Stress & Clear The Mind

9781722069780_p0_v1_s550x406

So anyone who knows me knows I don’t handle stress well.  If at all.  Ok I don’t handle it, period.  The idea of this post came to me after a morning that I affectionately referred to as ‘2020 condensed’ and a ‘dumpster fire’ as well as a ‘fustercluck’. Over the past couple of months I have gathered a toolbelt of coping skills that I want to share with you because if I can reduce the number of stressed people in the world then I will have made the world a better place.

 Calligraphy

Buy some pens and a guidebook and get started! Trust me.  It is very cathartic.

Learn a New Skill

For my new Work in Progress I am learning the art of reading Tarot cards.  Sometimes the ambient noise of our lives gets to be too much and you just need to focus on one thing.  Pick a new language, a card trick, a special knot.  Whatever catches your fancy.  Just pick something and, when the world begins to get too loud, spend five minutes perfecting that new skill.  Not only will it redirect that anxious energy, but it will help you grow as a person!

TikTok

Now many of you will scoff at this, stating that TikTok is ‘for teens’. And they would be correct. But they would be right in the same way that Disney movies are technically for kids. While that is their target demographic, there is definite spillover into the older age bracket. TikTok allows your brain to go into power-save mode and enjoy some mindless entertainment. The most I’ve ever laughed was a direct result of a TikTok video. Give it a try. You might surprise yourself!

Pet Therapy

Don’t have a fur-baby of your own? Now is the time to rectify that gross oversight. Pets bring that extra level of love to your life and, when you’re doting on them, the bad in your life just doesn’t seem as bad. Even if it’s only for a little while, that brief alleviation of stress is a godsend.

Walk Away/Give Up (Temporarily)

Sometimes you have to take a step back from something to really find your inner zen and focus your productivity. If you try to brute force your way through every situation you’re going to be left with a mess of stress and a mess as far as results are concerned. Take a beat, get a coffee, pet your cat, and start again.

And sometimes, seasonal inspiration will take over. See above for my method of coping during the aforementioned dumpster fire of a morning.

Bye for now!

The People Who Made Us

My Tata and me when I was one and a half.

Whether you believe in nature or nurture, there is no denying that the people in our lives have a considerable effect on who we grow up to be. We are the sum of our parts and those parts are largely made up of the things in life that influence us. Music, current events, people both fictional and real.

Some of those people are with you from the start and some join you after you’ve already begun the journey and how you live your life plays a big part on the quality of people who are with you in the end. This post revolves around someone who was with me from the beginning and left too soon, my ride-or-die, my Tata.

Family and friends are a huge part of why I am the “adult” I have grown into. In some cases I can narrow down a personal trait, quirk or bad habit down to the person it came from. If Tata were to be represented on the pie chart that is my personality she would occupy a significant portion of it. In her last years I probably spent more time with Tata than any other person.

Personality traits that we shared, for better or worse, include but are not limited to:

  • Shopping as a coping mechanism (currently trying to unlearn that one)
  • Being blunt
  • A whackadoo sense of humor
  • etc etc and so on

I will always treasure the memories I have of her and will honor her memory by living my best life and by inserting some of her more hilarious character traits into the people who reside within my fictional worlds.

Bye for now!