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Trick or Treat with Marzieh Abbas!

Welcome to #SeasonsOfKidLit, everyone! I'm so excited the wonderful Marzieh Abbas is here today to discuss the many new books she has, including her six-book series, Nadia and Nadir (illustrated by Lala Stellune)! Nadia and Nadir are a pair of young Muslim-American siblings living in Houston, Texas with their mom and dad. Like all kids, they enjoy staying busy. Nadia and Nadir are quick to make learning fun in their day-to-day lives. They especially love playing in piles of fallen leaves. Want to know more about Marzieh, Nadia and Nadir, and they many adventures they have in store? Read on...

Q: Hi, Marzieh. Thank you for joining #SeasonsOfKidLit! I’m thrilled to have you! For those who may not have had the pleasure of meeting you yet, you are the author of 12 chapter books (6 of which are forthcoming) and 4 picture books. How fascinating! Can you share more about yourself and your writing journey with everyone?

A: Hi Heather, thank you so much for having me! I’m a baker-turned-author who never dreamt the author dream! I randomly began writing letters to my kids in May 2019. I had recently sprung back from PPD and had put a halt to my very lucrative baking business (that I just couldn’t manage with two kids). Emotions were raging within me- I wanted to channel them into something productive. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I sent it out to International Muslim publishers, but they turned into my first couple of books after a couple of months of sending out queries (the Muslim niche publishers obviously work very differently from the mainstream market.) I was thrilled! In August I took a writing course with Mira Riesberg’s Children’s Book Academy. I applied for a scholarship and won it! I learnt so, so much in a short period of time, made some great friends, and created a book review group called Children’s Book Reviews (CBR Global). It sprang out of a challenge to read a 100 books before putting pen to paper. Around August 2020, I sold my third book, called ABCs of Pakistan, to a prestigious local publisher, In March 2020 I had 2 completed picture book manuscripts, that in hindsight were not query-ready, but at that point I felt confident. The rejections began flowing in and for every rejection I sent out my manuscript to three more agents. During this time, I also queried my current agent and she passed after requesting more work. I continued to take short courses and attend webinars with The Writing Barn and Storyteller Academy and continued to polish my manuscripts and write a couple more. In August I queried another agent at the Seymour agency (with another manuscript) who passed my manuscript on to a colleague (because her own PB list was full). Thereafter I heard back almost immediately from Lynnette Novak, who asked me to send more work. I only had one more manuscript (a revised version of the manuscript Lynnette had already rejected) that I truly felt confident about. I reminded Lynnette about the rejection, but told her the manuscript had been through considerable revisions. She appreciated the changes and scheduled a call almost immediately. When I received her offer, I had 2 more agents interested. I turned them down after I spoke to Lynnette, because I truly connected with her! It’s been a lovely two years of working with her to polish my work further. I mainly write contemporary stories involving Muslim, South-Asian characters.

Q: Your chapter book series, Nadia and Nadir, follows Muslim-American siblings that live in Houston, TX. Can you tell us more about your series?

A: This came out of a WFH opportunity that agented Muslim authors were invited to draw up a proposal for. I was recovering from covid in those days and chapter books were not a format I was writing in, but one I had read a lot of. I had a few ideas for stories and wrote one out, along with pitches for five more. It was challenging, but fun. The editors at Magic Wagon, ABDO Publishing were great to work with and they signed on the super talented Lala Stellune as the illustrator for the series. It was so different from writing picture books. There isn’t really much growth for the main character/s in chapter books. And, there is so much telling compared to showing.

Q: In Nadia and Nadir, Lunch in the Leaves, Nadia and Nadir spend an autumn day playing in the leaves. This truly sounds like the perfect read for fall! What other fun things are included in this story?

A: Oh! I love this question! There’s creative play, leaf people, leaf-heap dives, chai and a barbeque!

Q: That sounds amazing! What other adventures can we expect to see Nadia and Nadir go on?

A: There’s family holidays to Pakistan, cousin-fun, charity drives, beach-fun, Ramadan baking, and discussions about the phases of the moon, hurricanes, and lots more!

Q: What can we look forward to seeing from you in the near future?

A: I have six more titles in the Nadia and Nadir series that I’m working on. I also have my debut picture book releasing in April, 2023, called A DUPATTA IS… It’s an expository nonfiction story about the South-Asian shawl.

I have three picture books releasing in 2024.

  • Another expository nonfiction called HENNA IS…

  • A fictional story titled AWE_SAMOSAS! I bet you can guess what that one’s about.

  • And a PB biography titled YASMEEN LARI, GREEN ARCHITECT about Pakistan’s first woman architect.

And a couple of poems which will be part of anthologies.

This is all truly fascinating and impressive, Marzieh! Thanks again for joining us. We can't WAIT to read your books!

Q: Would you like to leave a Trick or a Treat for the readers?

A: I love tricks! And here’s my tip for #amquerying writers:

Don’t give up! Keep writing! Keep sending your work out there and for every query rejection…send out three more queries. While you do, keep learning from published books, webinars, and craft books and blogs.

And if you’re writing a PB biography, here’s something extra for you!

Thanks so much for these terrific tricks! Everyone, please leave a comment below and thank Marzieh for joining us and for the superb tricks she's shared.

Reminder: Those who leave a comment on all posts will be eligible to win one (1) of ten (10) Rate Your Story Speed Passes.

About Marzieh Abbas:

Marzieh enjoys learning new skills, jumping rope, sipping chai, and observing nature. Marzieh dreams of owning a talking parrot someday. But until then, she lives in Pakistan with her husband and children who inspire her daily. She occasionally writes under the name: Marzieh A. Ali.

For more about Marzieh, check out the below links:

To purchase Marzieh's books, or to leave a review, click here!

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Oct 27, 2022

Thank you for the encouragement, Marzieh! Your Twitter thread is super helpful too.


CJ Penko
CJ Penko
Oct 27, 2022

The covers for the Nadia and Nadir series are truly beautiful - wow. ❤️🍂 Thanks so much for taking the time to offer your advice and share your journey so far!


Jessica Milo
Jessica Milo
Oct 24, 2022

Marzieh, I can't wait to read your many upcoming PBs being released soon!! Congrats on all of your success so far!!


Oct 14, 2022

Congrats on your success. Looks like this was destiny calling, for sure!


Your journey to becoming a children's author is amazing! Congratulations on all your success! Thanks for the the great tips...especially the PB bio ones!

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