How to Get Rid of Santa

I felt very much like one of Ms. Hannigan’s girls, growing up as a Hindu child in north Florida. “Santa Claus, who’s he?” When friends called in the afternoon on Christmas Day, asking me what I had received, static filled the line on my end.

Wanted: Santa Claus

In the years since, the holiday season became a tradition of giving and exchanging gifts between the doting auntie and uncle my brother and I had become to our three nieces. The tree, the gifts, the anticipation were part of their childhood, if not ours.

There was no pretense of Santa in my father’s house. His insistent “Who gave that? Who? How much?” said after each present was opened – always in ascending order of our ages, beginning with the youngest niece.

Fast forward to becoming manager of my own house and the Christmas tree is decorated by little ones while adults scurry around the kitchen putting the finishing touches on the Thanksgiving dinner table.

Santa and I have a continuing contentious relationship now that I am a parent. Why should he get all the credit for my hard work all year? I haven’t raised the idea of Santa to our sons. But I didn’t need to, when Mickey’s Magical Christmas could do it for me.

The recent crackdown in Doha against Christmas, is seen as a competition with the December 18th observation of National Day, inappropriately flashing holiday glitz in hotel lobbies and street poles.

Teddy Bear Tea apparently is no longer allowed to have Santa to grace the occasion, the entire reason any parent would spend close to $100 for an afternoon’s entertainment.

“We are not allowed to have Santa this year, ma’am,” said the apologetic hotel receptionist.

Schools have been banned from trees, winter performances, and snowmen. Nurseries, however, have not, as I found out being summoned to my one year old’s Christmas party in the middle of the workday.

My ambivalence to Santa has been challenged.

Is Imitation the Best Kind of Fan Flattery?

By Linh Ngan

In July, I released my 6th ebook, a labor of three years of love, a contemporary romance set in Qatar, called Love Comes Later. I waited to see what readers’ responses would be and was not disappointed at the latest self-taught lesson in writing, marketing, and publishing.

Two things stand out: 1) if academic work is for a select audience, then fiction is for everyone. And 2) if I want people near and far to have a crack at my book, then I have to stick with novels. You may disagree with me (which is allowed and please do share) but my stats don’t lie. In my previous eleven months of publishing electronic titles, I felt like a salmon going upstream. Trying to get reviews or bloggers to notice my book was tough. In the six weeks since this title has been out, there are 27 reviews and 43 likes. That’s more reviews than all the other books had a month after release and more downloads during the free period of any of my books to date.


I did also put quite a bit of PR muscle into this release and have to congratulate Sandra for her entry on the Kindle Fire giveaway as to how people fall in love and why e-readers are especially important for women. Maybe it was all the PR and not the genre.


Even so, my conclusion: People love a good novel more than memoir or short fiction. Many readers used social media to tell me they couldn’t put this book down. One said she read while she cooked. Another said she was in the process of finishing it and would have a surprise for me in a few days.


“What’s the surprise?” My husband asked. I had no idea. She had so intrigued him, he kept checking back with me.


“Did she tell you the surprise?”


A week later, I could say yes. She had loved the book so much, she didn’t want it to end. So she had written an epilogue for two of the two main characters! I’m sharing some of it with you here below. Her style is very different from mine – much sexier! – and as I read my characters’ names speaking lines I hadn’t written for them, I felt mixed emotions. On balance though, I’m taking it as it was intended – a positive sign that an aspiring writer took her hand to telling a story, imitating characters she admired.


How do you feel about fan fiction? Is it the ultimate compliment? Or like designer brands, is imitation worse than flattery?


Love Can Wait – Epilogue ** By DohaSu


Abdulla was adjusting his gutra in the mirror, when he caught Sangita looking at him.


“I promise we’ll find a new apartment.”


“Its okay, Fatima will always be a part of our lives.  As long as you’re okay with me adding a few personal touches…”


“Of course.”


Sangita removed her shayla and the pins that held her hair in a bun and shook her hair free.


“You know that you don’t have to wear it?”


“I want to. For you. I like the idea of you being the only man to see my hair and skin.”


Abdulla’s eyes burned with longing for Sangita and he strode over to embrace her. He’d been resisting doing this the last few weeks, as he’d been afraid that he would not be able to restrain himself. Though wounded, he’d accepted that he would not be her first but was contented to be the one and only from now on.


“I’ve been wanting to do this…” he said as he pulled her towards him and ran his fingers through her hair again and again.












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Love: Capitalism's Best Seller

Cover design by Hamda Al Kuwari and Fatima Al Salat

We hear songs, watch movies, and yes, read books about that most elusive of emotions: love. No matter if your culture practices arranged marriages (Indian/Arab) or not (the west). No matter if your parents are divorced (fell out of love) or not. No matter if you are married (harder to stay in love?) or not. I could tell you how at one point in human history marriage was thought of a business transaction, a way to consolidate wealth within families or across countries. Or that modern society has not eased up on women to have a man (and a baby or two) in order to think we have it all. You’re smart. You know these schemes around the world’s most sought after prize — finding one’s soul mate.

Love is at the core of contemporary culture. Despite your best efforts, there’s no way to avoid it. From Bollywood to Hollywood the themes are the ones passed to us by the Bard himself, William Shakespeare. Star crossed lovers; repudiated love; timid love; the plot lines are as familiar as the headlines for celebrity breakups. Were, for example, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes ever in love? Or was it a career furthering scheme drafted in the cold light of day between agents? What will happen to Suri Curise, the tiny fashion maven?

Those are questions for a very different story than the one I wrote inspired by the dreams, wishes, and desires of young people living in Qatar.

Love Comes Later is my second novel, a meditation on how non-western people of this generation will find happiness. I’m excited to say the book is now available for purchase on

As a writer I’m not immune to the questions of the commercial love machine. After all romance readers account for a large portion of book sales year round. Romance writers are like country singers; they come out with albums on a yearly basis and their fans make them best sellers. I’m not sure if I’m going to become what’s called a genre writer and stick only to romance from now on. This story, of three protagonists, Abdulla, Hind, and Sangita, came to me as a love triangle.

I can tell you that based on the five books I’ve released this year, the novel is the one everyone gets excited about. Short stories and essays may get a passing look, but a novel still seems to inspire more wonder and likelihood of risk on a new author. This new project will help me further test my hypothesis… or you can share your thoughts on my theory and enlighten me.

If you like your romance more visual than textual, then have a look at the book’s YouTube trailer. As always, writers need readers, so please take a second and let me know what you think!



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