Monday, February 29, 2016

My piece in the Irish Times on Isis and Grendel

It can be found here.

An appropriate way to launch the official pub date of the novel, though of course it is sad that the article needed writing in the first place.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Cats in my writing

They always seem to be there. In my play AN UNDIVIDED HEART, there's a Zen puzzle about a cat. In my play SEVEN AFFIDAVITS ON AUTHORITY, there's a character named Cat. And in JIHADI: A LOVE STORY, well, they're all over the place.

I think it's probably because they're the ones most likely to answer in the affirmative when I ask them whether I should keep writing.

Click on the image below to see my Pinterest board devoted to people almost as cool as their cats.

 Almost as cool as their cats

Monday, February 22, 2016

Mr. Trump's rhetoric crosses the line: He speaks approvingly of Muslims shot with bullets soaked in pig blood

Leaving aside the entertaining question of what sound bites he might produce as Commander in Chief, I invite the Department of Justice to consider whether his latest outrage constitutes a criminal incitement to violence.

One vaguely recalls some legal principle involving shouting "fire" in a crowded theater.

Below is from the New York Times.

The Work In Progress

It's finally clicking. Still messing with the opening,  but I know where it's going now. Happy about that.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The root cause of Islamic extremism? Religious illiteracy.

This excellent article from Madiha Walker makes a powerful case. If we (by which I mean Muslims and non-Muslims of good will) are serious about addressing the extremism undertaken in the name of Islam, then it follows that we must support responsible, accurate religious instruction. We must advocate on behalf of Quranic values and rigorous inquiry -- and we must reject the dismal pseudo-scholarship and the cynical pedagogy of both ISIS brutes and Islamophobes.

A must-read article!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The JIHADI: A LOVE STORY blog tour

Every one of these events was a blast. The tour was coordinated by the amazing +Orenda Books.

Click here for a summary of early reviews of the novel, which have been beyond my wildest dreams. 

You know, from the gorgeous Mark Swan banner above, this looked like nothing so much as a big rock and roll tour ... without the groupies, drugs, alcohol, or, you know, physical proximity. But intellectually -- yes, exactly like a big rock and roll tour! I began it by asking, "Will all in favor please applaud?"

The motion carried. One abstention.

DAY ONE: For, my spirited defense of Stephen King's principle that "inspiration is for amateurs." The rest of us commit to a daily word count. You can find this post here.


DAY TWO: Steve Wright of had this to say about the book when he reviewed it last month:

He then conducted a great, thoughtful interview. You can find it here.


DAY THREE: Jackie Law of features my guest post, which answers these questions:

* Why did you call it that?
* What's the book about?
* What happens in this story?
* Why is the story told in two voices?
* What gave you the idea for this book?
* Is the book pro-terrorist?


DAY FOUR: A very nice review from Bibliophile Book Club. "...breathtaking ... a piece of modern literature unlike anything I've read before ..." 


DAY FIVE: Great Q&A with Shaz's Book Blog.


DAY SIX: Wonderful review from Steph's Book Blog.


DAY SEVEN: A cool giveaway and excerpt from the novel at Aggie's Books.


DAY EIGHT: An innovative "travel guide" to the novel from The Book Trail.


An impromptu, unscheduled stop at day Eight and A Half (cue the Fellini music) from Crime Fiction Lover, who called the book "a highly original, engaging, and thought-provoking literary thriller."


DAY NINE: Guest post on Crime Thriller Girl's blog: Pantser or Plotter?


Day Nine and a Half (cue the Revolution Nine excerpt) was notable another unscheduled detour, one that pretty much made my month, the Irish Times running my piece comparing ISIS to Grendel.


DAY TEN: Liz Barnsley shares a review that leaves me speechless:


DAY ELEVEN: Tony Hill gave the book a great review that made me wonder whether I was dreaming:


DAY TWELVE: 4.5/5.0 review from Louise Hector: "Complex, compelling, and important ... captivating throughout ... the makings of a modern classic." 


DAY THIRTEEN: SHOTS magazine runs my essay "Are Thrillers Literature?"


DAY FOURTEEN: Victoria Goldman calls the book "intriguing, addictive, brutal, gripping, tragic and brilliant." And a snarky cat weighs in, too.)


DAY FIFTEEN: Claire Thinking offers a brilliant review of the book, and deploys a memorable phrase in the lead paragraph, "love amongst the wreckage." Wish I'd thought of that.


DAYS SIXTEEN AND SEVENTEEN: Some thoughts on postmodernism, postcolonialism, and Islam from yours truly.


DAY SEVENTEEN: A wonderful post from Reading Room with a View called the novel "a brilliant read."


DAY EIGHTEEN: A really nice writeup from Espresso Coco and an excerpt from the novel.



DAY NINETEEN: Wonderful review from Raven Crime Reads: "T.S. Eliot, fused with Homeland, with a soundtrack of the Beatles ... a heightened socially- and culturally-aware literary thriller." That, my friends, I will take.


DAY NINETEEN AND A HALF: Tripfiction delivers a sterling review "(a great and thought-provoking book") runs an in-depth interview, and posts a photo of a book-loving cat! Wins all around.


DAY TWENTY: West Camel, one of the book's two front-to-back editors (the other was Safie Maken Finlay) writes movingly of the book's impact on him as a reader.

And I closed out with a guest post on Safie Maken Finlay's site, the one piece of mine, I think, that came closest to capturing the point of the whole undertaking: The Fear Algorithm.

Thanks so much to all who took part, and all who followed along! 

Get the latest updates on JIHADI: A LOVE STORY here!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Literature is the key to coexistence

Coexistence is a global conversation, and literature is, I think, the only way it is going to happen in our lifetimes. Here is a conversational opening on which I worked for eight years.

Tea Party Racists Pretend to Love the Constitution, but ...

... refuse to act on the Senate's Constitutional responsibility to vote on Supreme Court nominees.

Catch up on reality, please. The people funding this movement pull its every string, and they hate American democracy and its institutions. They are manipulating and exploiting their simple followers for their own purposes.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Watch this video. Then tell me the Trump campaign isn't about making America white again.

Brave, articulate African-American teen volunteered for Trump for a week. Then had this to say. Bravo James Patterson!

MUST WATCH MATERIAL for America as it ponders electing a xenophobic fascist to the highest office in the land.

No. I don't think Parliament should vote to bar Donald Trump from UK soil.

I think they should vote to let him into the United Kingdom.

And refuse to let him out again. Until he recovers. Sometime in January, 2017.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Two Landmarks, Plus One

Ten thousand followers. Thank you, everybody!

And  here's another landmark: My books came in! They are GORGEOUS! Great work from Karen Sullivan, Mark Swan, and everyone at Team Orenda!

To celebrate, here's something from an altogether different Landmark. Putting this into practice.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Snarky Cat presents the JIHADI: A LOVE STORY blog tour

 Click here to learn more.

I'm back, despite the fact that this didn't go well last time.

They promised me tuna if I wrote this, so whatever. Check in starting February 21 (or 21 February, depending on where you went to school) for reviews and fun, and watch for my review of Yusuf Toropov's, um, thing on March 6. Or 6 March. You figure it out.

 Click here to learn more.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The five books I'm reading, February edition

I read multiple books simultaneously. It sometimes takes me a while to finish a book. Now that we've got that out of the way ... click on the images and perhaps you will read them too.