Reader Connections–A Measure of Success

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What does literary success look like to you?

I find it interesting that this week’s question uses the word “look” when it comes to literary success because I have a visual representation of it for me.

Let me give a little backstory. I love Zumba. It is one of the ways I get to release pent up tension and clear my head. I’m usually all over the floor during class, wiggling my hips and shouting as I cheerlead people to go higher and have fun.

 Anyway, last week, one of my zeeps (Zumba+peeps) had mentioned that she wanted to read My Way to You, my first book in the Brothers in Law series.  Like most indie authors, I had a copy. You gotta know how to play the game.

I signed and handed it to her. This week, she tapped me on the shoulder between songs, saying she needed more copies of the book. Word?! She explains what happened in the video below. 

Note – We had just finished an hour of Zumba, and we look it!  Continue reading “Reader Connections–A Measure of Success”

Editing: An Artist Sweating the Small Stuff

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What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

I have spent many years connecting with all types of creatives, including authors, visual artists (painters, photographers, etc.) and graphic artists.  My work at NbA Muslims made it possible for me to interview creatives, and one thing I continually gleaned from those discussions is that the artistic process tends to be individual.

Although two creatives may encounter similar challenges, they most likely do not have the exact same experiences. So, it is always a good idea for them to share their perspectives, hoping that everyone will be enriched by doing so.

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I’ve been a writer for a long time and ventured into authoring fiction a couple of years ago. I have written poetry, prose, journal articles, peer-review academic essays, thought pieces, and creative nonfiction. Each type of writing presented distinct challenges and required specialized writing skillsets to effectively satisfy reader expectation and codes and conventions.  I went into each project like a champ, writing and revising like I was The One

Continue reading “Editing: An Artist Sweating the Small Stuff”

Time Drain-A Writer’s Kryptonite

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What is your writing kryptonite?

I am making this post late in the week due to traveling. I hit mass transit and took an Amtrak train upstate for a writers’ retreat.  My home life includes a daily hustle of juggling the demands that come from being a mother, instructor, and professional writer.

Nope,  I wish it was like that for me. I drop stuff all the time.

I have to take care of my kids. I mean, I made them, so I should feed them, right? They’re cute, so I also like to spend time with them and their dad.  He has a super busy schedule too, and I will drop everything to have couple time whenever he gets a break. I make no apologies. Continue reading “Time Drain-A Writer’s Kryptonite”

Research – A Key Element to Storytelling

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What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I spend a lot of time researching all kinds of things for various writing projects. I need to research curriculum development and pedagogical methods for my work with the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative. I just spent the past few days hitting Google for historical and cultural research while taking part in an anti-racism workshop.

My job teaching at the college and romance scholarship also requires time researching. Before leaving for Chicago, I looked for additional sources as I edited an essay about African American Muslim romance fiction (yes, it’s a thing) and how female protagonists are othered. It is interesting how Muslim authors use the other woman trope in love triangles.

Focus, Lyndell. Okay.

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It may seem that so many demands will make research a tedious exercise. The opposite is true for me. Continue reading “Research – A Key Element to Storytelling”

Problems when Working a Scene

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What was your hardest scene to write?

The challenges that present when writing a scene vary from one writing project to another. A manuscript can have multiple difficult scenes taxing authors, making time drag as the cursor flashes or notebook page sits untouched, leaving them all kinds of frustrated.

Scene troubles may involve persistent issues with the plot’s structure, or they may be thematic and restricted to one manuscript. Continue reading “Problems when Working a Scene”

Why Seasons Matter in Fiction

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Do your stories and worlds reference seasons and do they play into the plots of your books?

Seasons provide important time elements to a story’s plot. The environment in which characters interact is significant in setting the tone and helping readers keep track of how much time has passed between plot points.

Time passage within a novel can be large (days, months, and years) or small (a few moments or minutes), and all of it can affect the story’s pacing, grabbing readers’ attention or losing it. A lot of my novels involve events requiring longs periods of time to pass from the book’s beginning to the end.

Anchoring Time

Continue reading “Why Seasons Matter in Fiction”

3 Writing Traps for Newbies

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What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Writing is a process rich with possibilities for errors. Anyone taking to the pen and pad or keyboard to share their stories and experiences with the world will inevitably trip, fall, get crushed, or end up a blubbering puddle of frustrations and regrets.

Count on all the above because our humanness makes it inevitable. Things will get messy just like us.

I spent years as a writing coach at a four-year college, where I saw students making the same mistakes and helped them hone their skills. When I ventured into professional writing as a freelancer, the easy transition from academic writing surprised me. I became popular with some online Muslim publications (I only write for them for personal reasons) and launched a cultural platform. Save for a few shifts in tone, I had it easy.

I didn’t encounter many bumps in the road of my journey as a writer until I wrote a novel. My strong writing background did not secure me from making some newbie mistakes, and I found many other authors who expressed that they made them. 

Continue reading “3 Writing Traps for Newbies”

Call Me Rufus: Naming Characters

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How do you select the names of your characters?

I recently gave members of my Facebook reading group a chance to help me select a name for the main male protagonist of a Muslim vampire romance I am drafting.

Yeah, you heard right. Just wait for it. Anyway, I had initially selected the name “Rufus” for him. I had my reasons, but readers weren’t even trying to hear any of them. I got all kinds of negative feedback. Some asked how in the world I even thought up such an old-time name. Continue reading “Call Me Rufus: Naming Characters”

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