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”

Favorite Character Question is Major Author Bait

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From all the characters you’ve created, which is your favorite and why?

What kind of f—

Okay, I smell a setup. My kids tried asking me something like this. It didn’t work then either. Which one of my characters got you? Was it Raad?

It was Raad. He’s so narcissistic. It’s bad enough he wrecked my concentration until I got his characterization finished. Now, he’s gotta try to force some sick confession out of me? Sit your butt down, Raad, and wait for me to release Building on Broken Dreams to show your…self to the world.

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I said to sit down!

Maybe it was Zaida. Continue reading “Favorite Character Question is Major Author Bait”

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.

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

Food and Romance – Bean Pies for the Heart

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Share a recipe for a food that comes from one of your books.

Yay! Food is so a part of my romances. I like to use some of what characters eat as symbolism.

For example, in My Way to You, I have Regina either making or eating eggs to represent the fragile but nourishing nature of the developing relationship between her and Simon. They are so good for each other, but things constantly threaten their ability to be together.

But, I’m not sharing an egg recipe. I’m picking something that Regina’s brother Marcus and his wife Toni eat.

Marcus Kent loves him some Toni. He calls her sweetness, and she is the main person to bring him to equilibrium. Basically, she got him on lock, and he goes out of his way to make her happy.

In one scene of My Way to You, Marcus treks from Harlem to the famous Abu’s Homestyle Bakery in Brooklyn. Abu’s is a historical landmark for New Yorkers, especially African American Muslims like me. They have some serious oven action going on, and whenever I get a chance to travel the 2 hours, I stock up, because the cakes and pies are everything.

Toni has a similar liking for the bakery, so Marcus picks up a box of assorted pies for her.

Check out the excerpt.

Continue reading “Food and Romance – Bean Pies for the Heart”

Failsafe from Failing Students

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What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

Failure, or fear of it, is very effective at making both the timid and bold hesitant. Even just the thought that success won’t be achieved is enough to keep one stagnant. So, having the barrier produced by a fear of failure is refreshing and makes the mind run rampant.  Mine has, and I shall now have at it.

As I went through school as a kid and during my college years, I encountered one disturbing constant. My education was always tainted by implicit and explicit bias and racism from either my fellow students, faculty or administration. Continue reading “Failsafe from Failing Students”

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