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Life, Literary Conference, Nonprofit Life, Parenting, writing

Resolution Who?

I heard July was the new January.

Back to resolutions!

It’s a new tomorrow!

Just another six months and maybe I’ll get into the swing of things!

It’s been a humid few months and Ramadan was a doozy. An incredible doozy with 4.75 becoming my new favorite number (more on that later).

Highlights to look forward to:

  • Book Cover Reveal!!!! #pieces
  • Muslim Women’s Literary Conference in Toronto!! #MWLC2018
  • Ribaat on the Road #ribaatsummer2018
  • and an extra special secret pending flight confirmations

Toodles, new friends and oldie goldies.

May this be a summer of consistency.

 

 

Book Reviews, Life, Parenting, writing

#ReadYourWorld

Multicultural Children’s Book Day is ALIVE and thriving today, January 27th!

I was thrilled to take part in this amazing phenomena of enjoying and promoting diversity in literature, especially children’s literature. Not only was I impressed with Drummer Girl’s ability to connect with readers and win literary awards back to back to back – but the books I read and reviewed as a Multicultural Book Day Reviewer were inspiring and so telling of the intense power children’s literature has on creating positive cultural change.

dg

Carole P. Roman is a Social Studies teacher turned children’s book author with an interesting series of books. With this series, readers are delightfully taken into her vantage point as an educator of humanities and culture and swept away onto a platform that can resonate with young readers. With each book, the gap between an unknown place and people becomes narrower until a relationship develops with the young protagonists.

As a person that comes from a diverse background and writer myself, I admit to being weary. Were these series of books going to be a flat attempt at looking into different cultures? How would they speak to me and my children who could relate authentically to another language, a separate set of customs, and draw light on a demographic that’s categorized as foreign?

 

Once I put down my hater-ade and reminded myself my social studies teachers were my absolutely favorite while I was in elementary school, I was pleasantly surprised.

The If You Were Me and Lived In… series crossed the globe and handled everyday topics from different cultures in a smooth fashion. I especially enjoyed If You Were Me and Lived in Mars due to its imaginative lens into a world outside anyone’s reality.

Rocket-Bye was perfect in it’s rhythmic exploration of something adventurous toddlers could fall asleep to at bedtime. The language is easy for early readers as they find their way through the story and build their own foundation as readers.

Oh Susannah, It’s in the Bag will prompt a converastion with grade school children on how to handle stress and overwhelming feelings . With such a big life lesson straining between the pages, the explosion was comfortably wrapped into the calm closure and support of the Susannah’s parents arms.

A wide thank you to the 5th year of the Multicultural Children’s Book Day festivities found in the blogosphere and social media platforms. I’ll enjoy browsing more books to add to our personal library and reading lists.

 

(Drummer Girl Picture Credit: Thanks Mamanushka!)

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/18) is in its 5 th year and was founded by Valarie
Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise
awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school
bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of
young readers, parents and educators.
MCBD 2018 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. View our 2018 MCBD
Medallion Sponsors here: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/2106-sponsors/mcbd2018-
medallion-level- sponsors/
View our 2018 MCBD Author Sponsors here: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/2106-
sponsors/2018-author- sponsors/
We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the
book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this
event. View our CoHosts: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/about/co-hosts/
TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and
crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm.
Join the conversation and win one of 12-5 book bundles and one Grand Prize Book Bundle (12
books) that will be given away at the party!
http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/twitter-party- great-conversations- fun-prizes-
chance-readyourworld- 1-27- 18/
Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta
Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and
Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom- empathy-kit/
Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our
official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.
Life, Parenting, writing

WRITING RESOLUTIONS FOR 2018

I have a number of resolutions for this new year. Last year flew by and with it, a myriad of intentions and plans that snuck away in the middle of the daily grind. I imagined happy writing places in great detail to ensure I was mentally prepared to conquer any obstacle that wiggled its way into my ability to write regularly. My work spaces were set up with all the necessary tools within reach. I prepped my coffees, teas, and treats for missions accomplished. I was even blessed to have a number of planners and journals to keep me motivated and aware of my writing goals. The preparations were foolproof.

And even so, I failed miserably.

I wasn’t able to keep up a regular writing cycle. I mused and fell asleep. I wrote in my head and let the thoughts drift away before my fingers hit a keyboard. The bubbling soups, dinging laundry machines, and alarms signaling pick ups and drop offs were the roadblocks that kept my writing (and reading) at bay.

This year, I want to aim for less pomp and circumstance. I’ll have the essential keyboard and idea on hand and give it a whirl before thinking too much. I can squeeze out 10 minutes of solid writing time before my brain cells snooze and my fingers begin to slur the typed words.

January 2018 comes as a fresh, unblemished year. My writing goals can be crafted and re-crafted; the intents and purposes shifting with the seasons (or pseudo-seasons, as we have in Houston).

I thoroughly enjoy the idea of stereotypical writing dreamscapes. A corner in a cozy cabin warmed by a crackling fire or a busy coffee shop with a cup of joe next to a laptop. The rustle of papers accentuated by the striking of a freshly sharpened pencil or a large desk with billowing curtains overlooking a vast sea. All these images (and then some) hold a firmly nostalgic place in my writing life.

What I have in reality, though, is starkly different.

Five kids don’t leave many pencils freshly sharpened. Coffee shops weren’t made for a trio of toddlers and laptops don’t remain unmarred by sticky hands or spills for long. Seas equal beaches, which equal grains of sand stuck to your eyelashes, and cabin fireplaces…well you can only imagine the allergies.

So this year my resolution is to write with what I got, not what I dream of having. To pull up the big girl pants and get to work!

Some goals I’m going to keep in mind and keep me chugging along on the daily, weekly, and monthly:

  1. Daily writing – fiction, nonfiction, blogging, or articles
  2. Weekly reading – the goal, again this year, will be 50 books
  3. Weekly review of writing topics – make sure I have topics on hand when I get to sitting down and writing
  4. Monthly assessment of writing – do more of what’s working and toss out what’s not

Do you need a daily or weekly team to help you stay motivated and keep working toward your writing goals this year? Join the Daybreak Press Writing Circle on WhatsApp as a virtual support system and keep company with those who are walking a similar path. Join in at bitly.com/daybreakwritingcircle

Originally published on the Daybreak Press Blog 

Book Reviews, Life

YA Novels

Originally published on the Daybreak Press Blog.

Books that are geared towards teenagers and young adults are one of the most popular and growing genres in the literary world. The Guardian even notes that over half of young adult novels are read by adults. Whether its fantasy, science fiction, chic lit, or historical fiction – young adult books have a beautiful authenticity that brings in readers by droves. What makes this genre so popular and appealing to the masses?

Nostalgia seems to be the biggest bait for adult readers of young adult novels. Not only do readers have an opportunity to slip back into times that they can look back on having survived – they can revel in moments that have passed by reliving memories drawn out by the characters in different books.

The element of escapism doesn’t escape the scene either, pun intended. Diving into a young adult novel carries an adult reader away from the responsibilities of day to day life and can be relaxing and meditative. Not all adult novels are melancholic or serious, but YA lit offers a fresh naiveté that may appeal to readers who want to experience life through a young person’s Experience…again.

Young adult novels are also crucial in helping their intended audience develop empathy and the ability to cope with interpersonal relationships in a healthy way. Stepping into someone else’s shoes can begin the journey into both self-discovery and outward exploration – helping readers learn to figure out why people who are different do things the way they do. What changes, circumstances, and beliefs lead them to what they’re doing now?

Let’s take a peek into three young adult novels and what they can bring to readers, whether they fit the intended audience demographic or not.

Sophia’s Journal. Sophia’s Journal is a young adult novel that’s also a time travel adventure. The main character hits her head in a river and is transported to pre-Civil War Kansas. There, she has to discover way to stay true to her Muslim identity while being surrounded by injustices like slavery and native American oppression. With some wholesome romance thrown in, this book may be the perfect holiday treat for history buffs and adventure-loving teens.

An Acquaintance. An Acquaintance follows the story of a Pennsylvania girl’s fight against the rising Islamophobia in her community and the growing affection she feels for a new boy at her high school. This young adult book takes readers into the intimate life of a Muslim teen girl who tries to balance her faith, her heart, and her relationships while keeping her head above water. Relatable characters will increase the chances that this book will bring the reality of Muslim Americans’ experiences to readers who may not have experienced them before. Read the first chapter excerpt HERE!

Picking up the Pieces. Picking up the Pieces chronicles the lives of one happy family in a small southern town. After returning from a trip with Doctors Without Borders, one of them is diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Faced with this reality, the rest must come to terms with the fact that their idyllic life may never be the same. This novel journeys into the world of understanding that everyone battles their own demons – young and old, men and women, parents and kids. Can the family’s unraveling hope be preserved? Watch for Hannah, Dahlia, Noreen, and Adam’s story – coming to you February 2018.

Sit back this winter with a few cups of tea or cocoa and delve into these young adult novels that will question your perspectives on the presence of Muslims in American history, the life of American Muslim teenagers, and even how the stigma and uncertainty of mental illness can tear a family apart…or bring them back together. What are you looking forward to reading the most?

Life, Nonprofit Life, Webinars

Social Media & Your Writing

Writers and book lovers have been using social media as a platform to establish a presence and gain more exposure for their work for years. This concept may seem intimidating to beginning writers or those who are nervous about displaying their creative work for such a wide and public platform. There are some essential ways to not only gain a level of comfort in what is being shared online, but also utilize social media as the perfect track to becoming part of the wider community of authors, poets, journalists, bloggers and more who are working together to raise their voices up through social media.

One of the most significant aspects of your writing identity online is your actual identity. There has always existed a phenomenon in which people felt it easier to share their work while hiding behind a pseudonym. For early female writers, using a male pen name made their work not only marketable, but accepted into a publishing house (S. E. Hinton, for example). This common practice may allow some safety for you to post whatever your heart desires without the fear of personal ramifications, but can limit your ability to validate and claim your work as your own – especially if you are interested in marketing yourself to a larger publishing company.

For those of us involved in the publishing process, the easier it is to ascertain who the person behind a specific piece of writing is, the easier it is for us to feature them on a platform where they can gain even more exposure for their work. Your readers and followers want to know who to applaud for your talent! Check out Platform: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World for ways to ensure you can make a mark on social media and build your own tribe of followers.

However little or much you know about social media is not a deal breaker. Having an account on popular platforms makes it easy to observe what fellow writer are up to. During NaNoWriMo, even Instagram is abuzz with pictures and motivational messages from writers who are busy making their manuscript dreams come true. Author Saadia Faruqi noted on the Daybreak Press Publishing Webinar that writing is a lonely business – so establishing a community and connecting with others who are in the same field is a huge help for those long, slow segments of time in which inspiration is low or the wait time to get published is longer than you had imagined. (Glaciers melt faster!)

To get started on a social media platforms and begin sharing your work, jump in with eyes wide open! Follow writers, publishers, and other people you find interesting and see what posts they have featured on their pages on a regular basis. You’ll notice that the good social media accounts not only display their work, but also include other information like where they get their inspiration, motivational tips, fellow authors and their book promotions, references to writing tools they’ve used, and even personal snippets of their everyday lives. You can mix, match, and decide where your comfort level lies when beginning your writing journey on social media.

 

Keep in mind some simple Do’s and Don’ts to help you along!

 

Do ENGAGE with other accounts while you post on your own.

Don’t just post or re-post something without a personal comment or connection

 

Do FIND writers in your niche or locality: there are plenty of people who can help you get feedback on your work and vice versa. Along with other local writers, you can create wonderful opportunities to network and grow together in writing groups, book clubs, and discussion circles.

Don’t forget to use tags and hashtags to connect your work to larger movements – if you notice there’s a significant day or moment that fits into your writing, connect to it with a hashtag.

 

Do PROVIDE catchy images and captions to go along your posts, especially on visual platforms like Instagram

Don’t assume all posts and pictures have to be your own – there are free stock images available online that can provide high quality pics for your posts.

 

Happy writing, everyone!

 

Originally published on the Rabata Daybreak Press Blog

Life

A Settling

The past two weeks have been intense. Hurricane Harvey did unimaginable damage to the Houston area and we’ve only started seeing the dire and long term ramifications.

Also unimaginable are the Hurricanes Irma and Jose that are wrecking havoc and causing anxiety across the Caribbean Islands and Florida.

Sitting on the other side so recently after our own preparation to face a natural disaster is unnerving. Watching news reports, studying whether maps, and calling relatives who are being urged to evacuate but getting stuck in congested, frantic traffic has overwhelmed our sense of peace.

hasbi allahu wa ni’mal wakeel. 

God is enough for me and He is the best disposer of my affairs.

The first and second Ribaat Retreats held sessions studying the names of God. While we focused more on the collective 99 names in the most recent program, the first retreat captured my attention in my own relationship with each different name.

Allah has designated 99 names for Himself – and each one is such a manifestation of His glory and encompassing divinity that even a semester length long course didn’t seem enough to fully embrace their meanings.

Wakeel. The compilation of Imam Bukhari’s collection of Prophetic narrations quotes this name in a prayer invoked by Prophet Abraham (a) as he was thrown into a fire.

hasbi allahu wa ni’mal wakeel. 

God is enough for me and He is the best disposer of my affairs.

Wakeel. Popularly translated as representative, agent, and authority. An entity that is entrusted in taking care of you. This is what we have to hold on to during trials.

Faith.

hasbi allahu wa ni’mal wakeel. 

God is enough for me and He is the best disposer of my affairs.

 

Life

#HoustonStrong

Take a moment, please. Send a prayer for those working on site and behind the scenes around the clock – many suffering their own losses – to help save the people of Houston. I’m humbled to know so many who’ve manned the front lines of rescue efforts, shelter accommodations and organizing aid to save a life, any life.

Parenting

Minimalism Revisited

 

minimalism revisited

I’ve been de-cluttering different parts of our home as we get closer to the Fall. Fall equals so many fresh beginnings, new adventures and brand new chances to try out new ideas or revisit old ones.

One of my favorite articles reflecting on my own parenting techniques is Raising Minimalist Kids. Check it out here for a quick read on how to keep your home de-cluttered. This year marks 3 years since we moved to Houston and we’re still riding the minimalist wave!

Raising Minimalist Kids

 

The Up Parenting Creek team was my first foray back into blogging after a long hiatus. Megan and her beautiful team are full of knowledge, special reflections and great insight on different parenting tactics for anyone to benefit from.

Minimalist sleep is still an adjustment – even 5 kids later!