It's been twelve years, seven months, twenty-three days, eight hours and around thirty four minutes since I stupidly told my husband I would fast for Ramadan to support him.
Neither of us knew then that the well-intentioned but badly thought out promise would live beyond the month it was supposed to. It was a short, spontaneous gesture of love that I told myself I could stretch out over thirty days if I really tried.
And try, I did.
As I write this, Muslims all over the world are beginning their first day of fasting for the holy month of Ramadan. If you're not familiar, then it's a stipulation within Islam whereby you go without food and water from sunrise to sunset, engage in extra prayer and ritual and avoid toxic thoughts and speech for a whole month. There's a lot more to it than that, and if you'd like to find out more, I'd recommend this link.
I've learned bits and pieces about Islam over the fifteen years I've been married to a Muslim, but never have I learned as much in such a short space of time as when I fasted for Ramadan, back in 2010.
At the time, we had just moved to the Highlands of Scotland from the sun-soaked land of Turkey (where the hubby is from) and not long since become parents. It all sounds good on paper, right? But, in reality, we were both kind of shell-shocked from all the change we'd had and the icy blast of the Scottish Highlands wasn't doing much to soften the blow. Plus we didn't know anyone, we were skint as hell and I was coming through a nasty bout of postnatal depression.
However, when my husband told me Ramadan was coming up and looked at me all doe-eyed and sad, well, the hormones must have got the better of me. Before I knew it, I was managing garlic bread cravings like my life depended on it and figuring out ways to refrain from licking the walls when my baby 'decided' he didn't want his yogurt.
And just because I'm a total sucker for a challenge, not only did I fast for the whole month, but I also bloody well blogged about it each day. You'd think that parenting a tantrum-prone, yogurt-hurling toddler on an empty stomach would be enough, right?
But skip forward these twelve years, seven months, twenty-three days, blah, blah, blah and I'm kind of glad I did embark on that blog. Because if I hadn't, I may not be sitting here now, typing on the first day of Ramadan 2023, telling you that I have written an actual book about it.
That's right. Those blog posts that came from the dwindling energy reserves of a perpetually exhausted mum of a Beast-Child, were good for something. I may have taken my own sweet time about it, and the Beast-Child may now be a Beast-Teen, but I have transformed those blog posts into a book you can actually hold in your hands or ping onto your Kindle as of TODAY.
I must warn you, however, that if you're looking for a blow-by-blow account of my own experience during that landmark month in 2010, you'll be sadly disappointed. Because this new book of mine, aptly titled, 'My Little Ramadan', is fictionalised to delectable levels. As a shamelessly self-certified storyteller, I just couldn't help myself.
I already have three novels out in the world, so it wasn't hard to turn it into fiction. The #lifesisyourstrilogy is also loosely based on my own experience, at a time when I was discovering that the grief and torment of heartbreak can actually be a gateway to self-love, gratitude and magic. Sometimes I wonder what the hell is wrong with me that I have this kind of response to big life events. Where most people might be getting a new haircut or taking up a pottery class there's me whipping out the plotting post-its and eyeing the Sunday Times Bestsellers list with caffeine-crazed precision.
Surely the haircut and the pottery would be easier?
Anyhoo, I carried on the story of Jess, of Life Is Yours fame, so she could be the one to do the whole Ramadan thing. Just like I did twelve years ago, Jess hopes that by engaging in this spiritual practice, she might reveal the secrets to motherhood, life and everything. Instead she gets a wake-up call to life that's as harsh as the hunger pangs and her distinct lack of garlic bread fast becomes her tiniest worry.
Here's the blurb, if you fancy it:
One moody Turkish husband, one screaming toddler, thirty days to find true happiness . . .
After marrying Mesut, the man of her dreams, having an adorable little boy and moving to a beautiful Scottish seaside town, Jess knows she should feel more grateful. But motherhood is so tough and the cultural gap between her and her husband is starting to show.
As Mesut prepares for the Islamic month of Ramadan, Jess figures she should support him. She decides to go nil-by-mouth from sunrise to sunset for thirty days, hoping that some spirituality might rub off on her, especially if she records it all on her blog.
When the blog becomes the talk of the town, Mesut objects to his faith being made public. But Jess is certain Ramadan will make her a better person as well as a better mum. With thirty belly-growling days to get through and thirty blog posts to write, could divine intervention be just around the corner? Or will it tear apart everything she loves?
If you've read this far then I'm guessing you're kind of into it. Or at least into ME and my shameless storytelling shenanigans. And for that, I want to thank you.
Writing a book is a flip-load of work, there's no denying it. And when people ask me how I've done it four times, whilst also parenting, managing a household, working full time and navigating the shit-show of life in general, I really don't know how to answer them. I'm not in this for the socially-constructed belief that we exist solely to work our fingers to the bone. I don't want to write these books to somehow prove some ridiculously diligent concept about myself that doesn't really exist. I just want to tell stories. And when you want something with your whole heart, your whole self, you just find a way.
So, even though this blog post serves as a BIG thank you to anybody who's still reading and has supported me in my shameless storytelling endeavours, it's also a request. Okay, there are several requests, but I wanted to give you a bit of variety . . .
If you haven't already, please sign up to my Readers List where you'll get a FREE copy of my first book, Life Is Yours, as well as occasional, non-spammy bookish updates
Please buy any or all of my books (they're ALL free on Kindle Unlimited). Not only does this give me a teeny slice of royalties to help put bread on the table, but it also gives those Amazon algorithms a kick up the arse, making my book more visible to new readers
If you've enjoyed any or all of my books, please pop a review on Amazon and / or Goodreads - said algorithms will get another kick up the arse and magical things will happen. Just a star rating and one line is enough!!!
Tell people you know and like (that bit's crucial) about my books. I don't know about you, but if one of my like-minded friends tells me I MUST watch that show, follow that account or read that book, it propels me forward like no social media ad ever could.
And just to show you it's not all take, take, take, I want to give you something too. I want to invite you to a party. And not just any party. I am inviting you to a book-launching, pyjama-wearing, glee-giving, shoulder-shimmying party of joy. And it doesn't even matter about geography because I'm utilising the unrivalled powers of Zoom to make sure that ANYBODY can come along. You, my dear friend, are invited to the My Little Ramadan Book Launch!
Tickets are limited just because I want to keep the experience intimate and engaging, so get yourself booked by following this link now. Tickets start at just £3.50 and there are other pricing options if you want bookish goodies along with your ticket. I can't wait to see you there (it's also my 45th birthday that day so double celebrations!).
Right, that's it - now that My Little Ramadan is in the world, I'm off to book myself a haircut and a place on my local pottery class (aka start planning the next book).
Go well . . .
P.S. I just want to wish all of my Muslim friends and family lots of love and light for your holy month of Ramadan. You're amazing and you can do this! My kitchen is always open between Iftar and Suhoor if you want support and sustenance. xxx
P.P.S. If you enjoyed this blog post then make sure you sign up to get ALL Abigail's bookish news as and when it happens. You'll also bag yourself a copy of Life Is Yours - the first book in the Life Is Yours Trilogy. Sign up here.
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