Safina Mazhar Workshop

Safina Mazhar.

First known for her fan-fiction; fantasy author Safina Mazhar captured the imagination of teens across the globe and went on to write the Power of Four series. Now Mazhar is returning to her Glaswegian roots, to share writing tips in a Mitchell Library Workshop (on December 19).

Mazhar said: “I have been writing novel length stories for over seven years. I wrote a Harry Potter fan-fiction named, The Dark Prince Trilogy, and published it on Somehow my stories gained an impressive readership, and a lot of people ended up liking them, reviewing them, and writing their own fan-fictions based on them.”

This series of stories were translated over 12 different languages and accumulated over 21 thousand reviews. Building upon this success, Mazhar decided to establish her own legacy of novels.

 She said: “After years of writing and enjoying it, I decided to try my hand at an original piece; The Power of Four Series.

“The Power of Four series tells the story of Aaron Adams, who discovers a secret about himself, on his fourteenth birthday. It follows his journey to discover who he really is and what part he has to play in a dangerous war.”

Keen to share her inspiration with readers, Mazhar agreed to host a Creative Writing Workshop at Glasgow’s Mitchell Library, in association with the Young Muslim Glasgow (YMG) Group.

YMG Volunteer and Event Organiser, Dr Sahira Dar, said: “Safina Mazhar is a local Muslim who young adults will be able to relate to – she went to a Glasgow school and understands the challenges facing the city’s youth. This empathy makes her passion more infective and her success more inspiring.”

Dar explained that the workshop aims to encourage kids to not only read and write, but to break social barriers.

She said: “Reading and storytelling are cross cultural passions that can unite people from different backgrounds.

“Ethnic and religious minorities can often be pigeon holed; so we must show our youth good examples of successful professionals from all spheres; to inspire them and introduce them to areas they may not know.”

The workshop welcomes novice writers and will build skills from the bottom up.

Starting at 10am, attendees will enjoy introductions and ice breakers.

Dar, said: “We have asked the young adults to bring a book by their favourite author and to share their thoughts on this choice.”

Then the day will be split into two workshops with the morning session covering writing techniques and, after a complimentary lunch, the afternoon running a creative writing circle. The workshop will finish at 3.30pm.

Dar explained that the workshop was aimed at 11-16 year olds from all backgrounds.

She said: “Tickets are £10, and prior to attending registration is required at EventBrite website.”

She concluded: “We hope the workshop will inspire youths and broaden their horizons.”

Merchant City Festival

Merchant City Festival

Preparations have begun for this year’s Merchant City festival and it promises to be the biggest yet. Running twice the length of previous events, the 2015 bill will span July 25 – August 2.

Festival Executive Producer, Lorenzo Mele, said: “The 2014 Festival was exceptional because it supported the Commonwealth Games, acting as the cultural centre for the programme. Last year’s festival brought the city alive with outdoor content and that will continue this year.”

The outdoor content is expected to include acting, circus performances, and of course music.

Mele said: “The festival will include lots of different art forms, but its central element will be music. We have two outdoor stages every year and this year they will host a variety of artists, playing everything from rock, to RnB, and dance music.”

The Brunswick Street Stage will have a marquee with large screen and bar area; while the Emerging Talent Stage will showcase new bands.

Indoors, the Blackfriars Stage will once again feature music acts, but this year it will also become a comedy hub.

Headline comedy and music events will be cost ticketed, however Mele explained the majority of festival events will be free.

Bargain-seekers can enjoy a variety of performances and workshops throughout the day.

Mele said: “We want the festival’s daytime schedule to appeal to as much as the night; so we are hosting a weekday family zone, in Merchant City Square, from 27 –31 July.

“The festival will have interactive workshops for toddlers and parents; music for adults; and this year – for the first time – a programme for those 55 and older.”

Mele welcomed guests from all ages and walks of life.

He said: “The Merchant City Festival is good at bringing the focus on art, but also at attracting members of the public who wouldn’t usually go to gigs.”

He described plans to attract shoppers with interactive fashion and beauty events.

Mele said: “The team are examining ways to make the fashion element of the festival interactive, with things like upcycling and accessorising workshops.”

He added: “We have a Barcelonan act coming to the festival, called Osadia. This group create fantasy makeovers, taking people from the audience and transforming their look with hair and make- up sculpture.

“Osadia performed at the festival last year and they were hugely popular, so we look forward to having them back.”

Another international act Mele anticipates being a hit, is Dutch musician-come- chef: The Screaming, Cooking Prince; whose act does what it says on the tin.

As well as international acts, the festival will showcase home-grown talent.

Mele explained: “One of the highlights will be a UK dance performance called Fragile; a world Premier show from the Motionhouse dance company. It will involve around 25 performers dancing in, on and around JCB diggers. It should be quite spectacular.”

He concluded: “The Merchant City Festival really does have something for everyone. As well as great acts there will be stalls selling food from around the world.”

The festival’s themes include: Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink, and Glasgow’s Year of Green; these themes provide inspiration for organisations hoping to participate.

Organisations hoping to participate in Merchant City Festival can apply for grants of up to £500, through the Get Involved Fund.

Proposals should include specially planned activities that incorporate city space.

Budget festive fun



Christmas is a time of joy, but shopping and parties can leave you skint before the big day. So instead of throwing money at it, why not take Noel back to its humble roots. Here are my five tips for budget festive fun.


  1. Bake it off, I bake it off…

Baking is pretty cheap and an easy way to get your house smelling festive. Among the meagre ingredients of your kitchen there’s bound to be a treat. Only got eggs and sugar, well then you can bake meringues! Or combine cereal and melted chocolate to make crispy cakes. No need for cook books, just enter your ingredients into Supercook website and it will provide the recipe.

Missing some vital tool (like an electric whisk) well why not ask your neighbours if you can borrow theirs, Christmas is a time of sharing after all. You can reward this generosity with some of the aforementioned cake.

  1. Give it away, give it away now…

Christmas is a time for giving, so it’s nice to include a bit of philanthropy. Can’t afford a donation? Then why not round up your old clothes and bric-a brac to give to a charity shop. One man’s junk is another man’s kitsch, so clear out the old and make room for the new. To find a charity shop near you, search your post code on Charity Retail’s search engine.

  1. Singing in the rain…

Carol concerts are a great way to get into the festive spirit; not to mention a cheap night out. From churches to high streets, every town has them and they are usually free to attend. You might not be Christian, you might not even like singing, but there is something magical about a candlelight chorus that’s had to resist.

One venue that runs a schedule of concerts is Glasgow Cathedral and details of these concerts can be found on its website.

  1. Watch me now…

With Christmas films the old ones are the best; so look out the TV guide and get them recorded. It’s a Wonderful Life, The Vicar’s Wife, White Christmas and Meet me in St Louis are just some worth digging out. Don’t have a smart TV? Then download sites, charity shops and libraries are good places to source them. But if you do have a bit of cash to splash why go to the Glasgow Film Theatre, which dedicates some of its December bill to such vintage views.

  1. Read all about it…

Libraries, among other council buildings, host great Christmas events. Not just linear celebrations, but interactive craft and literary workshops. This year Dennistoun Library revamped its interior to look like Narnia’s winter wonderland, a perfect setting for its C.S. Lewis- fest. Admittedly this was aimed at kids, but it shows the free festive events that could be under your nose! For Christmas events in Glasgow, check out Glasgow Life’s website.


So take heed, Yule tide celebrations need not cost the earth. Get out there and deck the halls.