Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Keeping the voice

I finally began in earnest today on the refinement of Turbulence. Getting rid of the rough edges and questionable passages. Making the story clear while keeping the voice.

This is very important. Writing is more than stringing words together in a grammatically correct fashion. To write is to give vibrancy to a character. And each character has his or her own way of speaking and thinking.

So my editor did give me a few suggestions for smoothing out some passages. I've already conquered the most difficult. While I was doing this, I remembered that it is very certainly not only what you say, but how you say it.

Whatever you do, always remain true to your characters.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Right Time to Write

I have some pressing writing to do. Over a week ago the editor sent me the third Echoes Series book, Turbulence, with her suggestions for a few changes. Not major. Shouldn't take long at all. But I haven't done them yet.

Last week I was ready. I would wake up on Monday morning and dig right into it. But when I woke up I discovered my laptop gone and all my plans changed.

So now I have a new laptop. I did look at the manuscript yesterday, and made one small change. Today I haven't been able to tear myself loose from cyberspace.

It's probably just an excuse, but sometimes I feel I need the right time, the right mood, to write. It didn't happen today.

I hope it happens tomorrow.

Monday, September 25, 2006

I didn't get much writing done because. . .

I have a new computer, alhamdulillah! And the best part is that my 22-year old son bought it for me. He works long hours hauling boxes, saving for his college tuition, but he insisted on doing this. And during Ramadan. What a great kid.

So last night and most of the day today I spent my time downloading programs, getting my new computer to look like my old one. I successfully downloaded software for the printer--a major accomplishment for me--and now I'm ready to go.

I can't wait to start writing again. I've missed it greatly. But today I had to lay the groundwork. Tomorrow I'll get down to business, insha Allah.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Pulling it all together

On Sunday night, the last time I used my laptop, I had a sudden breakthrough on my upcoming book, Ripples. I was typing along, when I realized I had my theme.

When I first write my books, they are littler more than conglomerations of scenes. There is a story line, but it's weak. As I continue to write and revise, my story becomes stronger. But sometimes I can go through many drafts before I find the one element which will pull everything else together and create a novel from all those separate stories.

In Ripples, the fourth book in the Echoes Series, the main character is Isaiah--Chris's oldest son. In Echoes, Isaiah was a baby. He was briefly mentioned in Rebounding. In Turbulence, which will come out early next year, insha Allah, Isaiah is a young man. When I came to Ripples, I knew basicaly who Isaiah was, but I had a hard time drawing the lines of his personality. He's a complex character, and I've had to struggle to highlight all the different aspects of his personality.

Finally, on Sunday, I discovered the common thread which would unite the story and give it consistency. This thread also helps to define Isaiah and his conflict.

I won't give it away, of course. I just wanted to share that. No story is complete without the ties that bind.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


We never appreciate something until we are without it. Breathing, eating, drinking, sleeping are all natural. Most of us take our health for granted. And we also forget to thank Allah for our wealth.

I have finished Day 3 without a laptop, and I never realized how very much I depended on that machine. Tonight my publisher emailed possible covers for the newest book, Turbulence. But our family desktop can't open the documents. My laptop could.

So often today I thought about things I needed to do, then realized I couldn't do those without my laptop. My professional life is on hold.

We must be grateful for all of our blessings. They can disappear in a flash.


My laptop is gone and I am practically computer-less. I do have this desk top, alhamdulillah, but it's slower and I must share it with the rest of the family. I waited until 11:30 tonight for my turn at the computer.

The worst part is that I can't write. I tried to use the CD for my most recent work, but couldn't access it. I don't want to start anything new on this computer. And because I must share it I can't write when I want.

Insha Allah, my husband and son have promised to buy me a new laptop on Saturday. Until then I will have to make do. I'm watching more TV than usual--not a good thing--simply because I can't think of another way to pass the time.

I need to work on my stories. I can't concentrate. I can't even think clearly. I guess I can't call myself anything but a writer.

Three more days.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Writer's Tool

I learned how to type when I was in high school, and since then I have rarely been away from a keyboard. When I was young I bought a small typewriter where I clicked away telling stories late into the night. I gradually moved up into larger typewriters. And, finally, computers. Word processing is a dream compared to the old days.

For the last several years I have always had a laptop. Always a Toshiba, actually. I found my first Toshiba by accident, many years ago, when our neighbor was selling his. It was in excellent condition, loaded with software, and it served me well for at least seven years--as I get older, time begins to blur.

When my old Toshiba began to fade I bought a new one. Faster and larger, with CD/DVD capabilities. I spent many hours with my new machine.

But this morning I came downstairs and found it gone--the space it had occupied on my desk was empty. All day I have been quietly mourning the loss. And I feel lost without my own keyboard to pound.

My laptop didn't just walk away, of course. There were signs of a break-in. My cell phone and charger are also missing, along with some money. I think that's one reason I'm still awake.

Now I must share the family desk top with my kids and their school assignments. I waited three hours to use the computer tonight. Homework always comes first. But I have two books in progress. One has come back from the editor and needs some simple changes. The other, the fourth book in my Echoes Series, was finally starting to show progress. Last night I made a major breakthrough in the story. This morning it was gone. (Alhamdulillah, I do have CD copies of my story files.)

I'm anxious to get back into writing. But I think I must wait until I am able to buy another Toshiba--although I did see a very nice Sony on sale.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Foreshadowing and subtleties

This is my latest challenge. I want to introduce a major plot twist. I admire authors who surprise their readers. But how much foreshadowing should I allow? How many hints? How bold will my hints be?

"Subtle" is one of my favorite words in the English languages. Even the spelling of the word confirms the meaning. But a writer has to find the balance. Some surprises. Some hints. Just the right measure of both. And stir.

Another of those little things which defines good writing. I'm working on it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


I should have discussed this topic much earlier because it is, in fact, the reason I write.

Inside I am a jumble of memories and emotions. If I try to bottle them up, I sometimes feel I will explode. So when I feel tense, or when I simply want to enjoy myself, I write.

A few words I read tonight triggered a flood of emotions. I quickly wrote them into a poem. And I feel better.

Maybe that's the reason so many people are writing these days. There is a wonderful release. Whether the piece is a personal narrative or a novel very loosely based on actual life, the writer can let go of all those jumbled up feelings and thoughts. And breathe deeply.

I write. . .therefore I am.

Don't dig too deep

When I was writing Echoes, I came up with a great plot twist while in the shower. But (for those of you who haven't read it yet, I won't give anything away) I went too far. My original idea took on a life of its own and led the story in an entirely different direction.

This is a frequent problem for me. Tonight I was writing a husband-wife argument. Those are always fun. The problem is, I dug myself so deep--made the issues so important--that I couldn't find a way out.

I finally reached daylight, with a little cliffhanger because the problem isn't resolved, only tabled. Eventually, though, I will have to finish the argument. And someone is going to win. Maybe while I'm taking a shower in the morning I can find a win-win situtation. I doubt it.

The moral of all this is: Create conflicts for your characters. But always provide an escape hatch.

Monday, September 11, 2006


I'm so happy and I know all praise is due to God for the easy times in my life. So, alhamdulillah.

My upcoming book, Turbulence, has been a very passionate project for me. I started writing this story in 2004, and from the beginning I had a clear idea of where I wanted to go with it. In some ways it's a story close to my heart.

All was going well until one morning when I turned on the computer and discovered that the first 80 pages of my first draft had disappeared. I called on two computer experts for help, and neither was able to recover the lost pages. They were gone forever.

Fortunately I knew the plot so well that reconstruction wasn't as difficult as I'd thought it would be. Of course, I was much more careful after that.

I toiled with my characters each day, developing them along the way. About halfway through I discovered something very important about my main character. When I write novels, I don't feel like I'm inventing stories. Rather, I'm exploring and discovering. The signs were there all along. I don't know why I didn't see it sooner. I think I was in denial.

I kept reading through my manuscript, fine tuning passages and keeping the story fresh. Finally I turned the story over to the editor.

She just informed me that, except for a few small changes, I am good to go. That is such great news. Sometimes books need major revisions. Rebounding did. It's wonderful to hear that Turbulence is right where it should be.

And it should be available to my readers at the beginning of next year, insha Allah. I hope you enjoy it.

Now I'm working on the next book in the series. I'm taking a different approach with Ripples. I'm still in the early stages, and I think it's working. By next summer I hope Ripples will be ready to join Echoes, Rebounding, and Turbulence.

And I can't wait to get started on Silence--the final book in the Echoes Series. I have many ideas. Hopefully in a few months I'll start writing and see if they work.

The moral of the story is--keep writing. And rewriting. And rewriting. And I think you'll get there. I hope I am.