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PB23Bunch Features: Omar Abed

Hello, friends! Can you believe that we're closing out the month of September? This year has really blown by quickly for me. I hope that you're all enjoying lovely fall weather, eating all things pumpkin and apple, and gearing up for spooky season!

Another month means another PB23Bunch Feature! I'm super excited to be highlighting Omar Abed today. It's been so fun to get to know Omar through our debut group and I know you're going to love this interview. So let's jump right in.

Kailei: Hi, Omar! And welcome. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your writing journey?

Omar: Hello!

I didn’t realize it at the time, but my writing journey started in middle school, when I discovered my love for poetry through Poetry Out Loud, a national poetry recital competition. I did okay at the time, but nothing spectacular. In high school, I started writing my own spoken-word poetry. At the time, I was still shy about my interest in poetry, but to me, it felt more like music and rap. The words flowed, and helped me cope with some tough emotions and situations at the time. Still, my writing was private, for my eyes only.

I continued to write poetry through college, as an outlet for my technical engineering coursework. I needed something creative to offset the numbers and formulas. When I was in grade school, I loved the strict rules of math and science - how there was always a correct answer to find. English seemed too subjective and opinionated. But as I immersed myself in engineering, I craved a balance, and found myself drawn more toward writing.

Still, I graduated, got a job in software. But with no end in sight for work, my creative outlet was craving some public attention. I started to post some of my spoken word poetry online. One comment stuck with me. It was from a librarian, a friend of a friend, who said “If this was reworked a bit, it would make a great children’s story.”

From there, I saw my poetry in a new light. I self-published a book as a gift to my wife, which taught me about the publishing process… and quickly taught me that self-publishing was not right for me. I searched for an agent, sending over 300 personalized emails and narrowly avoiding giving up completely. Finally, Connor Eck at Lucinda Literary took a chance on me, and I couldn’t be more grateful. It felt like the end of a long road, but really it was just a brand new beginning.

So, that’s my writing journey. (So far!)

If I’m not writing books, I’m probably writing code. I’ve been a software engineer / web developer for nearly 10 years. When I’m not writing, I’m probably running around with my 2-year-old son, playing basketball, or watching movies with my wife.

Kailei: I love that so much, Omar! That desire for balance and the need to be creative is something that I think will resonate with a lot of people. I also think your experience with self publishing is so interesting. I am really impressed with people who can do that because it seems like such a daunting task to me. So now that you're on the traditional publishing route, what inspired your debut book?

Omar: Most of my children’s books are written in rhyme. It’s just my default mode. I love the lyrical rhythms and how it can feel almost musical.

But sometimes, rhyme isn’t what’s best for a story. And many editors prefer to avoid rhyme. It has to be precise, so that it flows the same for every reader.

Well, I was trying to sell my first manuscript (which rhymed) and got lots of critical feedback. Editors said things like “The rhyme isn’t enhancing the story for me” or “I enjoy the plot, but try it without the rhyme.”

I struggled to write poetically without rhyming. Everything that came to mind rhymed… or almost rhymed, but not quite. That’s where THE BOOK THAT ALMOST RHYMED was born. I wanted a chance to indulge the side of me that couldn’t force everything to rhyme, while also giving into my rhyming tendencies.

Kailei: Every time I hear you talk about your book, I can't help but smile. It really sounds like so much fun and I can't wait to read it! What message would you like for your readers to walk away with?

Omar: Two things:

  1. I would love to inspire readers to think creatively about books and their structures.

  2. I hope my story reminds us to be patient with the ones who look up to us. Whether they’re siblings, children, or friends, they are learning from us. We should be proud of that fact, and carry that honor with grace, even when we have to stretch our patience more than we think is possible.

Kailei: That is beautiful, Omar. So, when does your debut hit shelves?

Omar: Early 2024

Kailei: Can't wait! Before I let you go, where can we follow you online?


If you’d like to check out my self-published book, YOU, ME, AND A TREE, you can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and more.

Kailei: This has all been wonderful, Omar. Thank you so much for joining us and for sharing your story! I can't wait to see where this journey takes you.


Omar is generously offering one lucky reader their choice of a PB MS critique or a Query Critique. To enter:

  1. Follow Omar on Twitter

  2. Follow PB23Bunch on Twitter

  3. Retweet THIS tweet

For bonus entries:

  1. Tag a friend in THIS tweet

  2. Subscribe to this blog and comment below

Winner will be announce on Twitter. Thank you all for your support!

About Omar Abed

Omar Abed is a Palestinian-American writer of picture books and computer code. He hopes his writing brings adults and children together in ways that only a shared story can. In his spare time, Omar enjoys running around with his two-year-old son, playing basketball, and watching movies with his wife. He's based in Philadelphia, PA and Northern Virginia.

About PB23Bunch

The PB23Bunch is a diverse group of 12 authors and illustrators with Picture Books debuting in 2023. We cannot wait to get our books in your hands!!

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