#WIPWednesday -Queen of The Castle

Like a lot of authors, I have files full of book ideas and multiple works in progress. I just released book two in the Brothers in Law series, Sweet Love, Bitter Fruit, and I am preparing the first book in an AMBW Muslim romance novella series, Open to Love.

The first book in the series, Open to Love, is snuggling with editors. I am currently working on book two, a steamy romance with main characters Hafsah and Aqil. Each has reasons to be wary about entering into a relationship, but it gets harder to resist the desire firing up between them.

I hope you enjoy this excerpt from my #WIP Queen of The Castle.

queen of the castle

“Thanks for doing this, man.” Continue reading “#WIPWednesday -Queen of The Castle”

Dry Those Writer Tears: Dealing with Reviews

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Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Ah, book reviews. They can send an author’s heart soaring or sink it like a stone into a deep abyss of despair.  Because a writer is often intimately connected to their works, reviews can have a substantial impact on the creative process.

I have warned new authors to be mindful of the effects reviews have on them, particularly negative ones:

All authors get negative reviews. Reading is subjective. There will always be at least one reader who doesn’t like something about a book, and some will express it in reviews. A lot of new authors are simply not ready for people to express any level of dislike.

Mis Quince Años (13) Continue reading “Dry Those Writer Tears: Dealing with Reviews”

I Don’t See No Stinkin’ Writer’s Block

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How do you move past writer's block?

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.

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Internal Factors

Continue reading “I Don’t See No Stinkin’ Writer’s Block”

LWL Podcast: Naming Characters

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Naming characters can be an involved and frustrating part of the novel-writing process, but it is critical to provide ones that will pique readers’ interest and give them a chance to connect with the personalities making up a story’s plot. In this LWL episode, I talk about the undertaking of finding the most suitable names for my stories’ characters and a little bit of reader drama with one character’s name.

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Continue reading “LWL Podcast: Naming Characters”

Character Building: I Made This

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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.

Sweet

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.

Continue reading “Character Building: I Made This”

LWL Podcast–Book Reviews: Author Drama

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LWL Widescreen (10)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.

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Continue reading “LWL Podcast–Book Reviews: Author Drama”

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?”

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”

Research – A Key Element to Storytelling

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#Open Book

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”

#MFRW Author: Me, Myself, and The Story-Authors in Their Narratives


read-3048651_1920Putting yourself in the story.

Considering stories are products of writers imaginations, it is hard for anyone to say that they don’t put themselves in their stories.  A good plot, messaging, and character personality requires deep reflection. A simpatico relationship with characters is also a must, so all authors become invested in the narrative at some level.

However, that doesn’t mean that every author injects themselves as an actual character. I have yet to do so, although other people are fair game. But, that’s not the point. I have to admit, that there are elements of my experiences in my stories. Continue reading “#MFRW Author: Me, Myself, and The Story-Authors in Their Narratives”

Problems when Working a Scene

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#openbook

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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#openbook

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”

In Vitro: Short Story Audio Clip

WELCOME NEW MEMBERS! (1)Alhamdulillah, I am blessed to have Sabina Khan, a great writer, for a critique partner. One of the biggest challenges we have when it comes to working together is our often conflicting schedules. However, this being the digital age, we managed to come up with a method—at least on my end—to share.

I often leave audio clips of my work for Sabina to listen to at a convenient time. She expressed to me how much she enjoyed listening to me read my work and constantly encouraged me to upload audio clips for my readers.  I was initially hesitant, but I decided to give it a try by reading the first part of the newest Layla Writes Love short story, In Vitro.

Continue reading “In Vitro: Short Story Audio Clip”

#OpenBook: Pouring out Money to Spill Ink

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What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

I will have to split my answer to this week’s prompt into two categories: 1)writer and 2) author. It may seem like an exercise in semantics, but the distinction is important. In addition to my short stories and books, I do a TON of writing in different spheres that have required me to spend money in varying amounts and capacities.

You guys know how I get. Bear with me.

Continue reading “#OpenBook: Pouring out Money to Spill Ink”

#MFRW- Character-Driven Plot Building

blacksmith-3141724_1920#MFRW Plotter or panzer, and why?

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”

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