Thursday, June 23, 2016

Sunday, June 19, 2016

This Just In: William Shakespeare backs REMAIN in EU Referendum

Bulletin from Stratford: The noted playwright and poet has joined Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, in calling for a REMAIN victory in the June 23rd vote. Via courier, Mr. Shakespeare forwarded a passage from SIR THOMAS MORE in defense of his position:

Thursday, June 16, 2016


"Ramadan is the (month) in which the Quran was sent down, as a guide to mankind and a clear guidance and judgment." (Q 2:183)

Monday, June 6, 2016


Ramadan is here, a blessed month, the month in which the Holy Quran was revealed.

For us Muslims, this is a month of sustained prayer, fasting, and reading the holy scripture. On this first day of fasting, I wanted to share something I have not shared before about an important event in the development of my novel JIHADI: A LOVE STORY.

Maybe three years ago -- don't ask me for the precise date -- I was working on the book, trying to figure out which verse of the Quran would make the most sense as the "touchstone" scripture for the central character, who begins the story as an Islamophobe and ends up embracing Islam. What verse would he stumble upon? Read and reread? Become curious about? Return to during times of trouble?

I had been casting around for weeks for the right verse, the verse that would capture the essence of the story, and I had a long list of candidate verses. But none of them quite fit.

Then one day, I walked into my study, and as I did, my iPhone, which was on my desk, started playing these verses from the Surah of the Sun:

(In Arabic, not in English.)

I did not know then, and I don't know now, what caused that particular surah to play from my playlist. I know I didn't touch the phone.

Later that day, the same thing happened, again, without me touching the phone.

It could have simply been a software hiccup. It could have been something else. I really have no idea. All I know is that it was perfect for the book. I wrote it in and gave thanks to Allah for it.

This didn't happen during Ramadan, but Ramadan seems an appropriate time for me to share it.

May Allah accept our prayers and fasting, may He magnify the best of our deeds and forgive the worst, and may the Quran He revealed to us in this blessed month guide us to the straight path.

Friday, June 3, 2016

WOW. Superb one-sentence writing seminar for fiction writers from Brooks Landon

[Skip all this stuff in small type if you want. On the other hand, if you'd like some background to what Landon shares below, this may be helpful. A "cumulative sentence" is a sentence that adds modifying phrases to a main clause as it goes along and isn't afraid to unfold its meanings at length. Good fiction doesn't rely solely on cumulative sentences -- short sentences are important, too -- but skipping cumulative sentences altogether leaves the reader with an empty husk of a book. The key is to vary sentence length. This relatively short sentence, for instance, helps you keep up. As does this one. The last sentence of this paragraph, by contrast, is much longer. Now, then. In the cumulative sentence reproduced in big bold type below, the main clause is labeled (1); the subordinate modifying phrases are labeled (2), (3), (4), and (5); and the subordinate modifying phrase that turns into a coordinate modifying phrase, due to a repeated structural element, is labeled (5).]

[This sentence from Landon is pure gold. I have read it dozens of times. It's a template for great writing.]

[Here we go. A one-sentence writing seminar for fiction writers.]

(1) Cumulative sentences can take any number of forms, (2) detailing both frozen or static scenes and moving processes, (2) their insistent rhythm always asking for another modifying phrase, (3) allowing us to achieve ever-greater degrees of specificity and precision, (4) a process of focusing the sentence in much the same way a movie camera can focus and refocus on a scene, (5) zooming in for a close-up to reveal almost microscopic detail, (5) panning back to offer a wide-angle panorama, (5) offering new angles or perspectives from which to examine a scene or consider data. 


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Fiction Writers: Seven Reasons to Hit a Daily Word Count of 1000, Six Days Out of Seven, No Matter What

1. Stephen King says you should, and there's a pretty good chance he knows what he's talking about. He doesn't give anybody a day off, though. I found the day off necessary. So I gave it to myself.

2. You will actually be a writer. When you ask yourself what it is that you do here on earth, what your job is, you can answer with that one word, "writer," and be sure you are telling yourself the truth. You're not trying to write. You're not hoping to get around to writing when the inspiration hits you. You're not thinking about writing. You're a writer. A writer writes, whether or not the writer "feels like it" at the moment. An unwriter doesn't write. Waiting until we feel like it is a game we play. Writer's block is a game that we play.

3. You can set the rules up however you want. I make the rules very lenient. Things like blog posts can count if I want them to. Terrible first drafts I would never show anyone, even under torture, can count if I want them to.  Backstory scenes I know will never make the book can count if I want them to. My own rules are: The main draft of the novel has to move forward in a way that adds to its word count; the same text can count for the next day if I edit it heavily enough, and yes, I am the one who decides what "heavily enough" means; blog posts count because they sometimes inform the content of the novel, but they can't be the only thing I write that day.

4. You will establish a personal routine of writing six days out of seven, which will bring shape and purpose to your life. Whatever else is happening, whatever is going well or poorly, the writing is happening. That will be good for you and good for those with whom you interact.

5. You will learn to edit your own material, or get better at it if you are already doing that. By generating a lot of text, more than you could use for your story, you will get personal experience with deleting things that don't work.

6. You will create more clarity on your own personal issues. It doesn't sound like that's what you're out to achieve here, but it happens, whether you mean it to or not, and once it begins happening regularly, you will begin to wonder why everyone doesn't write a thousand words a day. We've all got problems. If you write a lot, you will eventually get a more profound understanding of what your problems really are, and begin to develop an understanding of what the best ways to deal with them are -- and aren't.

7. You will stumble upon magnificent ideas. Often, they will come in the space between words 900 and 1000. Don't ask me why. They just do. I think they must have a sense of humor.

You may find this link helpful.