Important Announcement!

Hello friends, reader and fellow writers!

The ebook version of my book Stranger Paths, The Magic in The Madness is FREE on Amazon today and the next 2 days!

I would love to see it in your library and hear your thoughts about my journey from Iraq to America, from war to hope.

I hope you join the child I was, as she stood watching missiles brighten the darkness of her village, smiling as she hopes for a change. I hope you see the positivity leaking through my pages bit by bit as poems continue on. I wish to share the untold story of my people, of the civilians at war, of the children that had no choice but to accept their fate.

Our days are numbered but our numbers mean that we have survived so much, that we’re all the same.

Episode 2- The Hounds

Episode 2

Fearing Light

Tee drove and we didn’t talk for most of the drive. He didn’t even ask for my name, and I’m sure he didn’t give me his real name. Why wouldn’t he? I looked at him: “Tee?”

He turned his head at me and raised a brow: “Yeah?”

“I’m hungry and I really need to pee. We passed a lot of gas stations already.” I said.

“I guess we could stop, I just don’t know where these creatures hide.” He said.

“Well, they didn’t follow us out of the building and we didn’t see any of them all day.” I said as I was jerked by his expert car race driving, apparently.

He made a violent U-turn and parked by a gas station. He got out of the car, leaned down to the car window and said: “Are you just gonna stay there?”

I wrinkled my forehead and said a hesitant: “n…o.”

I got out of the car, as he walked into the gas station I said: “I’ll be right in.”

I saw the store next door, it had a faded maroon sign with white letters saying ‘GUNZ AND AMMO’ I decided to use a brick to break the glass on the door and unlock the door (I’ve seen it done in so many movies, couldn’t help myself. And yes, the door turned out to be unlocked). I loaded the car with ammo for two shot guns and as I was bringing a second load of guns, pistols this time, to the car Tee walks out of the store with cookies and expired milk.

He raised an eyebrow and with a cookie hanging out of his mouth he said: “what are you carrying?”

I gestured to the gun store with my head and put the guns in the back seat.

“Have you ever shot a gun?” I asked him.

“I’ve taken a safety class…have you?”

I replied: “Yeah of course I have. Not proud to say it, but my uncles go hunting and we used real guns in their farm. It’s their property OK!” I said defensively.

Tee shook his head: “I don’t care…I’m… I’m glad!”

“I’m competitive so I did pretty well at target practice.” I said proudly.

“Oh, you had target practice?” He asked.

“Yeah, every Sunday!” I said.

“Well, look at these newspapers.” He handed me a page and dropped few cookies that he picked up quickly.

“5 second rule.” He said as he put a cookie in his mouth.


“I see how you’d miss such a vague problem in your city.”

I looked at him angrily: “what about you, Mr. ‘T’ why are you still here… missed the signs too?”

“NO. I told you! I came to find my girlfriend. But clearly, she listens to the news. My phone died on my way here and I lost it while I was running away from those creatures. She hasn’t been answering her phone anyways. I think we broke up last month when she came over.”

“you think?”

“well…I’m not sure. She said we should see other people and she said she loves me and the past two years have been great. We had sex. Next morning, she left before I woke up. Came back here and I never heard from her again!”

“Well you guys did break up. Break up sex is almost as good as make up sex huh?”

“Ye..ah.” he said. Short pause then he continued “Let’s get going, I got us canned food and blankets AND (he emphasized) a can opener!”

“Great, I said, as I got into the car. Where to now?” I asked as I looked at him.

He handed me a protein bar: “well, lady, we can keep driving till we run into someone. Or spend the night at the gun store. The sun is setting, we—I—have been driving for six hours.”

“Well, I said, the gun store’s door is broken. Not the safest place, the gas station has too many windows. Let’s look for a more secured place, less windows maybe.”

“Like a prison, maybe?”

I replied: “Well the police station is back where we came from. This town we’re in is pretty small and they don’t have a police station that I know of.”

He looked at me, opened his mouth as if to say something important than said with a high-pitched voice: “What’s your name again?”

“Lana, I’m Lana…I haven’t said that before.”

“said what?”

“My name.”


“you asked what’s my name “again”. But I haven’t told you my name!” I said loudly.

“Oh, OK…cool.” He started driving ignoring my remakes. “I guess keep an eye on the buildings around us. These newspapers say that these creatures seem to fear light.”

We both said at the same time: “explains why they didn’t follow us outside the dorms!”

We chuckled and looked at each other with a smile that soon faded away. We realized that the sun is setting in few hours and we needed to find a hiding place SOON.

In case you haven’t read episode 1. Here it is below!

Episode 1

The Hounds

I was determined that it was O.K. that the government was making a big deal out of nothing. Like the tornado sirens that were never followed by a tornado, flood warnings, and ‘terrorist attacks’ that never manifested. I had a test the next week. It was finals week. I went to the corner store and bought as much dry food as I could fit in my dorm room. My room had the prefect set up, a microwave sitting on top of a yellowish mini-fridge. The brown counter top was bursting with ramen noodle packages and the fridge was stuffed with energy drinks and vitamin water. I felt prepared for the next few final weeks. I studied most of my days and avoided classmates as much as I could. That day, I decided to take a nap at three in the afternoon. As I laid on my mattress that lacked sheets I noticed the tears on its light-blue box spring. Then I noticed that the clouds seem to find a permanent home here, lingering above campus. I thought; haven’t heard the cheerful bird songs in days. Come to think of it… I haven’t heard much lately. The parties that never stopped across the hall seem to have ended—finally!

I changed my voice mail message to “I’ll talk to you when finals are over.” I must have a had hundreds of messages by now. 70% of them were from my boyfriend JAMES. We had been together (on and off) as-long-as I could remember. We’d met when we were 15 years old, and well, we’ve been together ever since. He’s not into change and I’m not into confrontation so we went to different schools. He stayed in Michigan and I moved down to Florida, it’s nicer here. I would have a tan on those skinny pale bones if I didn’t have so much studying to do. The goal is to get into the medical school down here. James wanted to be a wildlife biologist, somewhere up north was his plan. We were two busy individuals, so it’s a perfect situation. When someone asked me if I was single, I don’t have to lie and say that I’m not! James called me a lot, but my parents usually understood that I needed to study. This time they had left 55 messages on my phone. I didn’t get why they keep calling me. “IT’S FINALS WEEK PEOPLE.” I thought.

Now it’s been a few days of quietness. “It’s too quiet here. It’s like everybody has left. The reconstruction on this third floor has stopped for no good reason. Maybe I should go to the store and watch the news or something, a break from microbiology is not such a bad thing.” I thought to myself.

I decided finally open my dorm room door. As the door creaked open, a loud howl came from down the hall and a white animal rushed toward my door. I closed the door fast and ran toward the fire exit through my window. I rushed down the stairs thinking that the large dog-ish creature was following me. I stumbled and ran into a person—a guy on the fire escape. We didn’t talk or pause we just ran down the stairs, seemed like we were running for similar reasons. After going down the three floors we realized that nothing is following us.

I thought we needed to get out of this place then I asked: “Do you have a car?”

He said: “yeah! I don’t have much gas though I’ve been driving for few days to come here and see my girlfriend. She hasn’t answered my calls. You think she would after the horrifying news.”

“What news?” I asked confused.

“The…the ‘outbreak of the creatures’ the white hounds.” He replied with a sarcastic voice.

“So I wasn’t imagining? The… the…”

“It looks like they’ve evacuated the campus, didn’t you notice?” He asked.

“Well I have a bathroom and a microwave in my dorm room. It’s still being renovated, my floor that is, so no one wanted to live up here but me and those partiers across the hall. We get to do whatever we want since we are more isolated from the other floors of the building.”

He scratched the back of his head and nodded then said while looking distracted: “Well, I’m ahhh… call me ‘T’.” After a brief pause he continued: “So let’s find a car with good mileage per gallon and lots of gas, shall we?” I nodded. We walked around the campus’s parking lot till we found a hybrid car with over half a tank of gas. He said: “Well these are hard to hot-wire.” I looked under the car and found a spare key under a hidden spot.

I smiled saying: “My boyfriend has this model, he’s always said that it’s stupid to leave your keys there because it’s a known ‘secret spot’ in these models for keys”.

“Well I’m glad this person didn’t think so.” Said Tee. We got in the car and as Tee started driving we wondered about our destination. Where will we go? We weren’t sure. As far as this car can take us, that seemed to be the plan for now.

Self Love

Don’t forget to nurture your soul

You lost your pieces
Those that made you, you
And now you wander
Forgetting what you loved
To do

How to Self Publish, Easy Steps with Images|Part 1


My name is RJ Zarkani, I recently self published my book on Amazon with zero money down!

Stranger Paths, The Magic in The Madness

Poetry Collection

Hope this post helps you bring your book to life!

If you are wondering “Can I do this?”

Yes you can!

Here’s a list of what you need to get started

  • Book Title, and subtitle (if you wish)
  • Compelling content (longest part!)
  • Book cover design (Get creative)
  • Advertising ideas (can use social media, google, Amazon, Kindle…)
  • Decide on book size and dimensions
  • Get started on publishing !

You can always hire someone on Fiver or other websites like Fiver to help with editing & book cover design

What I did:

  • I compiled my poems and divided them to different chapters using Microsoft Word
  • I edited my own content and got my boyfriend to double check it
  • I used one of my own photographs as a book cover
  • I used Photoshop to edit the cover, using KDP’s book cover template

Now you are ready to PUBLISH!

  • Go to and set up an account
    • (This is not an ad for KDP, not getting paid for this)


  • Watch the video, it’s so helpful!
  • Sign in
    • You will see this
      • (without my info, hopefully)


You can choose to create a Kindle eBook, Paperback, or BOTH! I did both as you can see above

Clicking on on the “+” to the eBook or Paperback you will see a form that you need to fill out



Description is so important! Having a great book with no or little description is tragic. Readers will never know why they should invest in your book, out of the million books on Amazon. Give them a taste of what they’ll be buying, entice without giving it all away! I suggest looking up other books on Amazon and seeing their description. Mine is seen below:

amazon my book


When choosing keywords, make sure to be specific and to not reuse words that are already in your book title, description, or category (these are already used by Amazon to direct readers to your book). Keywords will help readers find you when they search Amazon. The category selection will help readers find you as well!

Keywords tips: go on Amazon and write what you would lookup to find your book, let’s type “books” and see what pops up, you can get an idea of what is frequently searched on Amazon


amazon serch

My book is a poetry collection so I also searched “poetry”

amazon src 2

You can also search the category of your book and see what pops up

Use this tip as a general starting point. You can edit your keywords later!

Click save as draft if you need to come back to finish it later!

That’s all for today’s post, stay tuned for the next post!

Best of luck on your new adventure!

Time to make your dreams a reality 🙂