My Author Ego: It’s Big; Who’s Asking?

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Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

Ego is an often vilified human characteristic.  Regarding one’s self-image, confidence, and esteem, we all need some ego.  Without a healthy ego, a person can become easily manipulated and hesitant to take the risks needed to put herself out there and achieve life’s goals. Self-published authors especially need that last one in spades. 

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Authors take big risks by releasing their work into a world that may be unkind. Writing something that readers may arbitrarily skewer for a plethora of substantial and tedious reasons is damn scary.  I once had someone give my book a lower review because they thought I didn’t show how the main character was Muslim (the character wasn’t) and another because they didn’t like “all of the racism” in an interracial romance.

Yeah, exactly. It takes a humongous ego to read helplessly while people slice and dice away at something that took blood, sweat, and tears—I am not exaggerating—to create.  Continue reading “My Author Ego: It’s Big; Who’s Asking?”

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”

Pens, Knives, and Guns: The Power of Crafting Words

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What was an early experience when you learned that language had power?

I think humans have an innate appreciation for the power contained in language. We have a need to communicate from the moment we leave the womb. Crying, whimpering, whining and cooing are all methods that infants have to convey their feelings and desires.

It can be so strong that many mothers and primary caregivers learn the meanings behind each utterance coming from the tiny person, finding it almost impossible to ignore. The impact of our children’s infant cries frazzled each one of my nerves, motivating me to satisfy or wreak havoc on whatever or whoever was upsetting them. People didn’t start calling me Mama Bear for nothing.

Yeah, kinda like that. So, knowledge about the power of language is something intrinsic. We know its influence on those around us. When people are past the infancy, “cry to get what I want stage”, it is important to recognize how compelling words can be on one’s mindset and those around them, especially words strategically used to convince, inspire, anger and degrade—some of which may become branded in one’s psyche, influencing their internal dialogue and actions. Continue reading “Pens, Knives, and Guns: The Power of Crafting Words”

#OpenBook – “Masculine Energy” and The Woman Writer

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What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

I remember listening to a male lecturer talk about women, men, and gender relations. One thing that stuck with me was when he went on this diatribe about women who have a lot of what he called “masculine energy.” He waxed for what seemed like forever about how a woman who dares to have a lot of masculine energy is a problem because she will always be ready to challenge a man. He claimed that such women are too assertive and authoritative and proclaimed that he could tell when there is such a woman in his midst.

After I laughed my…head off, I cringed a little at the incendiary generalizations he made, that make life hell for women. I won’t go into an analysis of how his language dangerously allocated certain human behaviors like confidence, ambition, critical thinking, power, and resistance as masculine and categorized women embodying any of these characteristics as “manly” deviants straying from their feminine nature.

I won’t highlight how someone privileged by gender can be guilty of reinforcing oppression by demonizing those struggling against their subjugation, discrediting them as misfits. Really, men need to stop that nonsense, especially those disguising themselves as progressive but are actually just as chauvinistic as their fellow misogynists.

Continue reading “#OpenBook – “Masculine Energy” and The Woman Writer”

#OpenBook: Sleep-No Substitutes or Exchanges

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#OpenBook – If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

Sleep is a beautiful thing with a ton of benefits, including:

  • May Help Prevent Cancer. …
  • Reduces Stress. …
  • Reduces Inflammation. …
  • Makes You More Alert. …
  • Improves Your Memory. …
  • May Help You Lose Weight. …
  • Napping Makes You “Smarter” …
  • May Reduce Your Risk of Depression…
  • Helps Body Repair Itself… [source: VeryWellHealth]

Yeah, yeah. I know. The question’s premise is that sleep is not necessary. That’s the thing, though. I need to sleep. It’s one of the best things in life that I get to do.

I haven’t been able to sleep for more than four hours since my oldest child was born. My babies snatched my sleep from me, and it looks like a solid six hours will never return. So, I have had to adjust my sleep to be able to still partake in and enjoy it. I started napping in the afternoon to make up for lost sleep. I hit my bedchamber [yup, I’m going archaic] and dare anybody to interrupt my daytime snooze. Continue reading “#OpenBook: Sleep-No Substitutes or Exchanges”

Laughter as Armor and Shield

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What’s the one thing guaranteed to make you laugh?

Hmm…

Tough question. Is the laughter a sarcastic “you’re an idiot” or a full-hearted “that was hilarious” type of thing?

I laugh for so many reasons, not all of which involve anything being funny. Like when my former boss and her supervisor had me in the office jeopardizing my job because their friend/co-worker didn’t like that I ignored her unprofessional email tantrum. Continue reading “Laughter as Armor and Shield”

#OpenBook: Smell That? The Stench of Child Sexual Abuse

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If your childhood had a smell, what would it be?

One of the things most people remember about their childhoods is the scrumptious mixture of scents of a well-cooked meal at home. They revel in memories of swirls of seasonings in the warm air wrapping them in comfort.

Well, that would not be the smell of my childhood—not totally. For me, caustic fumes of abuse defiled such wonderful aromas, threatening to completely choke out my humanity.

gas-mask-1714087_1920*Alert – Filters Down*

Continue reading “#OpenBook: Smell That? The Stench of Child Sexual Abuse”

#OpenBook: Half-Charged and Ready to Go!

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#OpenBook How do you recharge?

I’ve spent most of the past twenty years of my life running on fumes. I became a mom to my beautiful daughter in 1998—and never slept again!

Well, I slept, but not much because her brother was born the following year. AND the babies kept coming. By the time my oldest was five, I had my fourth baby and forgot what having a good night sleep or a relaxing day was.

If that wasn’t enough, my dumb…self decides to go to college and finish a few degree programs—work—engage in community organizing, and have two more babies. Throw freelance writing and authorship (writing, publishing, promoting, etc.), and relaxing is truly an alien thing for me. Continue reading “#OpenBook: Half-Charged and Ready to Go!”

#MFRWAuthor- Anger & Food: A Deadly Combination

Stress Eating: The Whys and Wherefores

Anger is the main emotion that makes me stress eat. I will be basically cool with life and eating decently—then BOOM!

Papa Bear or one of his male cubs do some man shenanigans…the little ones act up…someone on social media tries it with me—and I am heading for the kitchen.

Anger increases my appetite like a forest fire, and I consume food like flames old tree logs.  I tend to rationalize the need for my greediness. I tell myself that I “deserve” a treat and it will help me relax.

I tend to look for something sweet first. I don’t drink, smoke or do drugs. Sugar is my primary addiction.

Continue reading “#MFRWAuthor- Anger & Food: A Deadly Combination”

OpenBook-Grand Delusions of Global Change

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What have you done to make the world a better place?

Nothing. Seriously. I’ve done nothing to make the world a better place, and neither has anybody else.

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This planet is vast with numerous societies and cultures. No one person can make everything better for everyone. We can positively influence our social spheres and may even have some impact on others, but never in totality.

That’s not life or the world works.

That being said, there are things I’ve done to try and affect positive shifts in cultural mindsets in ways that increase the potential for positive change. Continue reading “OpenBook-Grand Delusions of Global Change”

OpenBookBlogHop-Layla Writes Love 2019 Goals

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Share your writing goals for 2019.

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I’ve been asking writers and authors to share their 2019 writing goals all last week.

I reached out to romance authors and ask them to tell readers some of their goals for this year, and I did the same for Muslim authors on the NbA Muslims blog on Patheos.

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It was great reading what authors and writers had planned as well as including some of my goals. I also took a moment to take part in an Instagram author’s challenge post.

 

I’ve been busy planning and goal making. So, I’m going to use this Open Book Blog Hop post to round up all of the goals I made and maybe add a couple of more.  Here we go! Continue reading “OpenBookBlogHop-Layla Writes Love 2019 Goals”

Things More Important than Names

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What do you want people to remember about you?

From the time I was very young, I’ve heard people expressing a desire or encouraging others to “make a mark” in the world or “leave a legacy.” The notion is usually associated with doing something on a grand scale to ensure that one’s name is not forgotten. However, I think we get sidetracked by the “name” part of people remembering us. Continue reading “Things More Important than Names”

Damsels and Beetles – When Fear Trumps Fierceness

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I know many people see me as the stereotypical strong Black woman who ain’t scared of nothing, but I have my fears, and this week’s Open Book question come me feeling all kinds of creepy. Like really? We had to go there?

This fear of mine causes me to experience a heap of ridicule from my husband and sons. They laugh their butts off while I’m yelling for them to come and rescue me from this abysmal pest.

It happens at least once a summer. I’m chillin’ in my bed; it’s usually dark with maybe the tv or computer running—or both #multitasker. Then a clickclickclick begins to permeate the room. My heart rate ratches up; riveted to my spot, I usually peer at the ceiling, searching for the horrible intruder filling me with dread. Continue reading “Damsels and Beetles – When Fear Trumps Fierceness”

Papa Bear’s Porch Seat

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In this week’s Open Blog Hop, writers are asked to describe their favorite piece of furniture and any story there might be behind it.

My favorite piece of furniture isn’t because I enjoy it but because the man that I love and share my life with does. I affectionately call him Papa Bear on social media because he prefers that I don’t use his full name. I also like it.

I’m blessed with 27 years of marriage to a man that works damned hard for his family’s security. Continue reading “Papa Bear’s Porch Seat”

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