What toppings do you put on your pizza? Is pineapple a real pizza topping?
I was raised in a large family of four kids, so needless to say (but I’m going to anyway), the battle over pizza toppings remained a stable part of Friday night eating. My mother’s children had an expanse of tastes that made it necessary for her to have each of us take weekly turns to decide what would go on top of the tomato and cheesy goodness. When it was my turn, my brothers and sister groaned and complained to Ma that she was wasting a chance to have something new and different on pizza night.
Write about a metaphor you used in one of your books. What does it represent?
Metaphors can be a valuable literary device to integrate symbolism in their works that will activate readers’ imaginations and offer them a different way. By directly comparing two different things, authors can give qualities to the first thing through the use of the second. In this way, writers can “show” instead of “tell” important aspects of a story or character as well as convey an underlying message through the thematic use of a metaphor throughout the plot.
Hey, romance addicts. Another week, another thought-provoking blog hop post. Let’s take a look at what we have this week.
Do you write diverse characters? If so, how do you avoid cultural insensitivity?
It’s interesting that this week’s blog hop question asks about diversity in writing. I spent the weekend fielding questions on social media, from white authors about including diverse characters in their books. It’s also ironic that the blog hop posing the question is not very diverse. As far as I know, I am the only contributing blogger who is identifies as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color). No, Italians and the Irish do not count. Let’s not go there. Anyway, onto my answer.
Of course, I write diverse books. just look at my covers.
As an author who identifies with multiple marginalized social intersections, I write to purposefully highlight a range of backgrounds and experiences in my characters. I think diversity is a stable part of literary expression for many BIPOC authors and that the main group challenged to understand the importance of diversity—and how to integrate into their work—is white authors.
Attempts to expand diversity in literature seem to present as a challenge and threat for authors who need to develop a greater appreciation for diverse literature and resist the cultural messaging that centers on whiteness.
Hey, romance addicts. I hope everyone is having a fabulous week and is geared up for the weekend! I am geared up for this week’s Open Book blog hop post. Let’s check it out.
What do you wish you had an unlimited supply of?
A nice, theoretical question is the perfect way to end the week. We live in a world filled with limitations. Our world is shaped by boundaries, which ensure that there is a constant balance of imbalance. I could not think of one thing of which I would not like unlimited anything, because it would only exacerbate my inability to escape the constraints of my existence. I don’t want to seem pessimistic–well, maybe a little–but bear with me.
Do you have a favorite piece of literature? What is it and why is it your favorite?
Hey, romance addicts. I know it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog hop post, but I couldn’t get in front of the camera to do a video. So, I’m getting back to basics and doing what I do best, writing. Let’s do this!
I don’t have one favorite piece of literature. The literary world is far too expansive to settle on one text. However, some books that influenced and inspired me come to mind.
A fellow Muslim romance writer? I am here for all of it! I was thrilled to learn about Sara Allen and her extensive work writing in a genre often frowned upon by Muslims, despite the rich history of sensual literature in Islamic culture. She has written seven books, including her latest, Disposable. Check out the blurb.
When Caryn Blake, a prominent, black litigation expert, walks in on her cheating husband entertaining his latest girlfriend, she goes a little crazy. After everything she’s done for him; giving him the space to live it up, while she makes the moves securing a name for herself and fame for both of them, the betrayal is just too much. However, revenge is bitter-sweet, especially when it’s taken too far.
What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
For people dedicated to the craft, writing is an impactful part of their lives and identities. I mentioned in another post, “I acquired and honed skills to interpret and craft words, using a range of prose (and a tiny bit of poetry) to harness the resilient power of language for liberation and resistance.”
Endeavors to generate words can be powerful and empowering, making writing a tool and art form requiring commitment.
Dedicated writers pick up their pens [or fire up their keyboards] to share their perspectives and stories. The better ones know that wordsmithing involves layers of composition, drafting, editing and revising—all of which require development. Only deluded writers think that their skillsets are fine and they don’t need to hone them.
How many hours a day do you write? How long on average does it take you to write a book?
When I saw this week’s Open Book Blog Hop prompt, I laughed because it coincides with some realities I have had to face while participating in NaNoWriMo this month. The month-long writing challenge is meant to get writers to sit themselves down and finish a set goal during November.
Although I signed up for NaNoWriMo years ago, I had not participated. Why? That’s for another blog post. This year, someone encouraged to consider using NaNoWriMo as a tool to complete book four in the Brothers in Law romance series. Brandon and Hawwah want their story out there, so I agreed. I am half-way through the challenge and only have a little over 4k of my 50k goal achieved. I have been writing but not just the manuscript.
I never get writer’s block. I may say I do but not really. What I usually experience is more like a hurdle to clear and keep things moving. A basic definition of writer’s block is, “the condition of being unable to create a piece of written work because something in your mind prevents you from doing it.” Other definitions describe it as an inability to write—as if there a mystical wall keeping words stuck in the mind or a force imprisoning creativity. There are reasons why a writer can’t write, and it is not always psychological or due to “having something on your mind.”
Through years of academic, professional, teaching and coaching writing, I learned a few things about the ominous “writer’s block” and the external and internal factors that drive writers to fall back on what is ultimately an excuse, a justification, for a blank screen. Covering everything in one post is not possible. So, I will highlight some prevalent ones.
What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
I may (or may not—I admit to nothing) base a character on someone I respect or despise, so I will have to be salty and sweet with the response to this week’s OpenBook blog hop post. Let’s start with the people I like.
I’ve explained in a Black Glue Podcast interview how the Prophet Muhammad served as inspiration for the male characters featured in the Brothers in Law series.
I reflected on the Prophet (Muhammad’s) life and how he was as a husband … lover … someone out in the community and how he transitioned between those things. What he did when his women were mad at him, and what he did when his women were acting out. [The brothers in law] don’t act exactly like the Prophet, but there are characteristics each one of them has.
Simon is the one who keeps things at a level where it doesn’t get too bad. He doesn’t allow things to get to him as much. Marcus is the alpha, alpha. He’s the leader. He expects things to happen the way he needs for them to happen because he’s progressing the nation. Adam is that inner reflection.
Book reviews can invigorate authors, but it is not all rainbows and sunshine. Negative reviews may drain and stress writers. In this episode, Lyndell talks about the need for anybody sharing their words to put reviews in their proper perspectives and avoid having them crush creativity.
What are the best two or three books you've read this year?
This was supposed to be an easy question but not so much for me. I read a ton of different things over the course of the year. In addition to reading novels, I am always looking for books that will help me improve my writing skills as an author and writer.
I also am constantly gathering titles to read and analyze with my colleagues at the Muslim Anti-racism Collaborative. I am a strong proponent for life-long learning inside and outside of one’s professional spheres. My collection of books that help me develop as an anti-racism trainer, instructor, managing editor, and self-published author grew quite a bit this year. A few of them gripped me, so it is difficult not to mention any of them.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I tend to be a character-driven writer. I have a bunch of people stomping around my head demanding that their stories be told.
Yeah, kinda like that. Because they are at the base of my writing, I usually have to structure a plot based upon what the main protagonists in a story want, the obstacles that get in the way with that, and how they change from the beginning to end of the plot. So, an organic plot structure is at the crux of my writing.
I also have a drill-sergeant for a writing coach, who doesn’t believe in just writing and letting a story evolve, at least not at the fundamental level, which plotting a story mainly involves. I think that is what confused me at first, and I also see it when I mentor writers. I had the tendency to think of details as essential to structuring a plot. They aren’t, and once I got used to sifting through them to the core components of a story, I have become better at having a solid plot on which to build it. Continue reading “#MFRW- Character-Driven Plot Building”→
Have you ever made yourself cry (over what you did to a character) while writing a book?
I try to make my characters as realistic as possible—a difficult feat in romance. It’s too easy to fall into romanticizing (pun intended) even the flaws of a character, especially the two main protagonists.
MFRW 52-Week Blog – How books can influence daily life.
I have books e’rywhere. I think each room in my entire house (basement included) has a book. Yeah, I checked.
Fortunately for me, I married a bibliophile. When we married and I moved into his apartment, he sat my boxes of books in front of his wall-high shelf filled with books. Our collections have been growing for over 27 years. Our kids caught the book bug as well.