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Dina Porell, author - longlist finalist in Golden BaoBab's Prizes for Literature competiton

September 28, 2014
I have always been a major bookworm, and can't imagine life without a dozen paperbacks hanging around, just waiting to be read. As a child going to the library was part of our weekly routine, and I learned a lot about other cultures through my appetite for words and stories.

Considering this I was more than happy to learn about Golden Baobab, an organisation whose strapline 'Inspiring African Children's Literature' clearly reflects their mission: to fill bookshelves and stores around the world with high quality, memorable stories, written by people hailing from across the African continent.

Since 2008 the Golden Baobab Prizes for Literature have recognised talented African writers and illustrators who produce excellent work in the field of African children's literature. The 2014 competition is now at the longlist stage.

I was recently lucky enough to interview someone on that list, self published author Dina Mousa who was born and raised in Cairo Egypt, 

Dina, tell me something about your background, and how you became a writer.

I graduated from business school, having majored in Business Administration, however I really didn't enjoy working with numbers. I thought hard about what I do enjoy - writing and travelling - and from that moment I decided to spend my life doing those things as often as possible.

What kind of writing do you do?

I enjoy writing both fiction and non-fiction. I am an animal lover, which is reflected in the stories I've written for a younger audience: 'Alex the Cat' and 'A Tiger's Story'. I self published them both under my pen name, Dina Porell.

How did you learn about the Golden Baobab Prize for Literature competition?

I found out about it during an Internet search, and I was excited to see such a great opportunity for African writers to break into the market and share their words. I really wanted to be a part of it so I entered the same day!

How does it feel to be on the longlist?

I feel very honored to be on the list, and to be considered for a prize alongside so many amazingly talented authors.

What do you know about the general literary scene in Egypt?

Well the economic crisis seems to have had an impact on the publishing industry, as it has in the rest of the world.Things will recover eventually, and the need for fresh names and stories will be great.

How about the literary scene for children there?

There has been a long standing unwritten rule that children's literature in Egypt should focus on happy stories, with nothing dark or sad. I think this ignores what children really want or are smart enough to absorb.From a certain age they become aware of what is going on around them, and both society, and writers, should acknowledge that. I think that we should respect children by talking to them about what they want to read, and then producing that variety for them.

I'd like to wish Dina good luck for the remaining stages of the competition, and I'll be watching out for the results when they are announced.  


Part 3 - the last of the links to unique and must read blogs from my MA Professional Writing peers.

September 20, 2014
I need to write this post today. Not only because it will take my mind of the itching that's driving me mad, though that's a bonus. (The itching is caused by meds I need to take after having dental surgery a few days ago. It was bad enough when they made me stupid and sleepy, now add hive-ridden to that list!)

Having lost most of Saturday to the sleep monster I need to feel inspired, awed, and motivated, three things that are guaranteed when I delve into the minds of my fabulous MA writing pee...

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MA Professional Writing - more about my fabulous peers

September 17, 2014
I'm an active member of several Facebook groups, but the one I love the most is the magical space carved out by (all but one) of my MA cohorts. It's crammed full of creative ideas, information on all sorts of stuff and lots of fun.

We are currently hurting towards another deadline, having worked all summer on creating or enhancing an online brand/identity, and the standard of work being produced is inspiring. In a previous post I linked to three of the websites my peers have created, and now I...

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MA Professional Writing - showcasing my talented peers (part 1)

September 13, 2014
Ever heard the saying 'you don't know what you don't know until you learn about what you didn't know and then you know that you know it'?

Perhaps not, considering it hardly trips off the tongue.Still, as someone who has spent most of her working life learning on the job I really appreciate the concept. It's this that drives me to strengthen my knowledge base, to improve on whatever I do alongside actually doing it.

That's why I signed up for an MA in Professional Writing through the University ...
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Pictures from summer in the UK

August 31, 2014
Tomorrow I return to work after the usual long break between the spring and autumn semesters.) I am always excited about meeting new students and getting back into a routine, but not so keen on the prospect of cooler weather ahead.

When memories of my fabulous six weeks in the UK start to fade I'll be coming back to this post. It will remind me just how lucky I am to have amazing friends and family on both sides of the world.

Food: because it's a treat to eat things I don't usually see

 Costa Co...

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Re-entering orbit - things I'd forgotten about Korea

August 13, 2014
Six weeks. Less than 50 days spent out of South Korea and it feels like I have been away more like six years!

Here are just a few of the things that I'd forgotten about while I was away:
  • the toilet is way low. The sinks in the bathroom and kitchen are the same. I need a strategy to avoid the backache that washing dishes brings on.
  • I can't flush loo paper. (Mind, I spent the first few days in the UK fishing it out of people's bathroom bin so this will feel normal again pretty soon.)
  • people tend to...

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Air France - my first experience

July 30, 2014
As part of my quest for new experiences I chose to make my much anticipated annual Seoul - UK trip with Air France, rather than my usual Seoul - Amsterdam - Teesside journey with KLM. The switch was sparked by niggling concerns over the future of Durham Tees Valley, (the airport just a couple of miles from my UK base), leaving Newcastle as the only, and slightly less convenient, alternative.

Intensive Googling left me with two carrier options, British Airways and Air France. With similar fligh...
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Recording happy days

June 16, 2014
I enjoy following the photographic records of #100happydays that so many of my friends are collating on Facebook, although I will probably never sign up for the project myself.

The reason?

It's pretty simple. As I saw more and more people make a positive effort to record the good stuff in their daily lives I realised that I already notice that stuff. I did used to wonder if I was:

a bit weird for experiencing child-like joy at simple pleasures


unusual in noticing the small things that create t...
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The Sewol Disaster

June 7, 2014
I haven't posted anything new to my blog since the devastating Sewol ferry tragedy. It has been such an overwhelmingly sad few weeks, and something that has changed the way a lot of people here think about things: well the foreigners at least.

Safety awareness isn't a priority.

I smile now when I recall asking my very first boss here when I would get the expected health & safety induction. I had no idea then that such things generally don't exist here in South Korea. In the seven years and seve...
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A fabulous blog about frugal living

April 11, 2014
Blog snob?

There are few blogs that I find interesting enough to bookmark and actually visit regularly, so it's always a treat to find something that catches my attention.

Money talks!

I've never been particularly motivated by money, but planning for life post global nomadism has put finances firmly on my agenda. I made a decent start to 2014 by actually applying for a tax refund. It was worth trading some of my sanity to battle with several Korean websites to get a little cash back from the gov...
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About Me

Valerie Ann Hamer Global nomad, writer, teacher


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