Thursday, June 29, 2006


Some people are talkers. Others are writers.

The most important thing isthat we don't stay isolated, but reach out to communicate with others.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Am I any good or should I just throw this in the trash?

I once read that when Stephen King wrote his first novel, "Carrie," he didn't think it was good enough so he threw the pages into the trash. His wife retrieved the novel and persuaded him to get it published.

Every writer has moments of self-doubt. What am I doing? There are millions of writers and they are all better than me. Why am I doing this? Shouldn't I be doing something more productive? How wil my writing make a difference? Am I being selfish? Am I any good?

These thoughts are very common. We writers live in our own worlds. Our greatest hope is that someone else will find value in our words. And, of course, it would be nice to make a little money. But that's not the incentive.

The incentive is recognition. You did a good job. You are a talented writer. That's what we want to hear.

Sometimes I'm tempted to hang it up and go get a real job. But I love what I do, I hope that I'm good at it and I want others to be touched by my words.

So it's on to the next book for me.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


A chaplain provides comfort to those in distress. In recent years, the number of Muslim chaplains has grown.

This is the role of Yahya. Joshua is away from home and oppressed by his circumstances, but he finds comfort in his weekly visits from Yahya. He finds someone to listen, and someone to take his mind off his troubles.

Yahya is a quiet man. A minor supporting character. Someone who comes into Joshua's life when he needs him most.

Yahya is not a revolutionary. But he changes the world through his gentle presence.

Monday, June 26, 2006

The right length

Everything is measured. Our hours, our days. Our clothes and our homes. The portions we eat. The mattresses we sleep on.

Writing must be measured also.

If I am writing about action. Adventure. Strong emotion. I want the sentences short. Quick. To the point.

If I am writing about a warm summer's day I could write sentences which weave through the page, exploring all the nuances of summer and how it feels to be alive on such a glorious day.

Life is measured. So must our writing be.

Friday, June 23, 2006


Before he was sent to Iraq, Troy was just a regular guy. Married to Courtney, his high school sweetheart. The father of a sweet little girl named Danielle. Life was nearly perfect.

But he went to Iraq and life was never the same. He and Courtney tried to save their marriage and even had another child--a boy named Alex. It wouldn't work. Troy was addicted to meth and although he never wanted to hurt Courtney, he sometimes did. Finally she had enough and left, taking the children with her.

Troy continued his descent, falling deeper into his drug use--which was fuelled by his memories of the acts he was forced to commit in Iraq. He missed Courtney, Danielle, and Alex, but he couldn't stop.

When Joshua and Troy met, Troy was very close to hitting bottom. Troy hated Joshua, and Joshua felt like hitting Troy. But eventually they formed a friendship which helped Troy regain something of himself.

He wanted nothing more than to be a good husband to Courtney and a good father to Danielle and Alex. But sometimes life isn't fair.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Ahmed Ali aka Abu Hamza

When Joshua Adams first met Ahmed Ali, Ahmed was a teenager. Joshua was in his early 20s. The two became friends. Praying together in the mosque and playing together on the soccer field.

In Rebounding, eleven years after Echoes, Joshua is a family man. So is Ahmed, who is married and has a young son named Hamza.

All Ahmed wants is to follow his religion and provide for his family. But complications arise. A father-son conflict in Chicago threatens Ahmed's happy life thousands of miles away in Karachi.

Abu Hamza is not a terrorist. Just a son, husband and father trying to get by each day. Even so, he will be pulled into circumstances beyond his control.

All in the name of fighting terror.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Getting ready for publication

My newest work, Turbulence--the third book in my Echoes Series--is nearly ready to send to the publisher. I've tightened up my story lines, excised superfluous verbiage (or deleted unnecessary words), and double-checked my grammar. Last week I printed out the manuscript. Last night--yes, while my son was in surgery--I started my "final" read-through.

My son came through the surgery well. By the time we were able to see him, he was partially awake and responding.

My manuscript isn't fairing quite so well. On every page so far I've found at least one necessary change. Sometimes more.

My worst errors were made through carelessness. In one place I wrote "(character's name) said." The problem is, this character had not yet given his name. I wasn't paying attention.

Most of my corrections are small. Reworking phrases to make them smoother. Rearranging sentences and, occasionally, paragraphs. Checking my grammar.

The thing with manuscripts is, they're never done. I thought I was finished a week ago. Now I know how much work I still have to do.

But it's late. I'll get started bright and early tomorrow, insha Allah.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Writing From Life Experiences or Life Imitating Art Imitating Life

No, I'm not in Dallas yet. I don't know when we'll be going. Plans can change in the blink of an eye.

I'm working on Turbulence, the third book in the Echoes Series. In that book, one of my main characters is hit by a car and ends up with a broken leg. I researched broken legs in terms of pain and treatment, looking for just the right degree of injury. I think I did a pretty good job.

This last Saturday, in the early a.m. hours, I was able to test my knowledge of broken legs as my husband and I waited in the emergency room with our 13-year old son. Who had been hit by a car. Fortunately, alhamdulillah, his only serious injury is a broken leg.

Many things run through your mind as you sit in an emergency room in the early a.m. hours, trying to stay awake and waiting for a doctor or nurse to tell you what comes next. One of my many thoughts was my story line in Turbulence. I congratulated myself on coming very close to the real experience, while making mental notes on what I need to change when I have time to get back to the manuscript.

Of course I thought about my son, his level of pain, and the prognosis for his leg. That was uppermost in my thoughts. But I also sneaked a few minutes to think about my story. And then I was sorry that I had no one to share my insights. No one to say, You did a good job on that story line. Such is the occupational hazard of the writer--living a story which exists only in your mind.

My son is home, and doing well, but he needs to go for surgery tomorrow because the bones are not aligned. As I suspected, a tibia can be difficult to mend. That's how I wrote the story.

Hopefully the surgery will go well tomorrow. His leg will be properly aligned and in six weeks he'll be able to walk without a cast again. Insha Allah.

I'm tempted to take my manuscript to the hospital with me to take my mind off the operation while we wait. It sounds strange--working on my book while my son's leg is being cut open. But if it helps me relax, it could be a good thing. Most of today I've been a nervous wreck.

I like to create a little trouble for my characters. But my son's experience was very similar to my story line. If I lived in the Twilight Zone I would be very careful.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Maybe I'll see you there!

In a few days we'll be hitting the road and heading for the Southwest. A little change of scenery is always nice.

If you live in the area, you may want to come to the ISNA conference in Dallas. There are great speakers and a good program. I'll have a booth there too. Come by to say "hi" or "salaam" and check out my newest book.

If you live in the northeast, you can go to the ICNA convention in Hartford. Br. Kemal will be selling my books at his booth.

I love summer. Always so full of possibilities.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A New Look

I have an announcement.

My book, Echoes, is being republished through Muslim Writers Publishing. It will be available soon, insha Allah, with a whole new look.

Echoes tells the story of Joshua Adams, a young American Muslim and recent convert. Echoes is the first book in the Echoes Series.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Little Maryam

Maryam Adams is a special little girl. She was born in the backseat of her father's car, on the way to the hospital. When she was one day old her family life was disrupted. She had a rough start. But Maryam is a survivor.

She has to be. She has five brothers--three of whom are close in age. And she came after Luqman. That's enough to keep her on her toes.

Maryam appears to be soft, but she has an inner strength which will get her through many difficulties.

Her birth was the first step of a challenging life.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Luqman Adams, A Sensitive Child

Luqman is a challenging child. Energetic and sensitive, he keeps Joshua and Aisha on the alert.

He demands attention. He makes noise whenever possible. And any disruption in the family routine disturbs him.

These traits will not change much as Luqman grows older. He will continute to be both energetic and very sensitive. And these traits will cause him some real problems.

Luqman is a caring child and his natural childish exuberance is intensified. He's a handful.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Muhammad Adams

Almost every family has one. The kid who can't stop asking questions, can't stop talking.

That's Muhammad.

From morning until night, he rarely lets up. Always questioning, probing.

Muhammad is a nice boy. Sincere and caring.

But rarely quiet.