Friday, 28 August 2009

Writer's Block Again!

I hate writer's block. I want to write, fill my blank screen with words. I hear my dear characters talk inside my head; and I listen... so why can't I write? Or is it lack of focus?

Is it the fact that I'm too emotionally involved with them? Or is it the fact that I want to keep writing this novel for months because I love it so much? I'm not sure.

Anyway, here are several tips I've tried in the past which still help me (which means I ought to get offline now, at least!):

1- Unplug the internet

Forget about Facebook, GMail, Twitter, Instant Messengers and all that for a while and see how it goes.

2- Listen to music

3- Get some/more coffee (my favorite tip) :)

4- Stop thinking and start writing... whatever it is you write!

5- Eat healthy food and snacks to nourish your brain (more protein, fruits, veggies, nuts...etc.)

6- Take a shower, bath... or just be near a body of water

This works for me! I actually didn't know the exact reason behind this until I read about it in WRITE IT DOWN, MAKE IT HAPPEN by Henriette Anne Klauser. Moving water helps with creativity because of the negative ions it produces.

Positive ions are produced by machines and technology: computers, televisions, refrigerators, cars, airplanes, heating units and air conditioners...etc. Negative ions counter the exhausting effect of positive ions which is much better for immunity, the respiratory system and mood.

7- Read a book and return to writing later

Got any more tips? Please feel free to share!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Ramadan Mubarak!


Ramadan has always had a very special place in my heart; mostly because of the serenity and peace that seem to fill the air all around; after all, devils and rebellious jinn are "chained" during that holy month. That's why it's believed if a person commits a sin during Ramadan, it's because of their own weakness and corrupted self (having been accustomed and addicted to sin...etc.).


Ramadan:
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, sexual conduct, smoking, and indulging in anything that is in excess or ill-natured; from dawn until sunset. Fasting is meant to teach the Muslim patience, modesty and spirituality. Fasting inculcates self-restraint and self-control as the person fasting does not only have to abstain from food and drink, but s/he must also refrain from many other things: backbiting, gossiping, fighting, using foul language etc. Very strict words have been used in this regard:


The Prophet said, "Whoever does not give up false statements (i.e. telling lies), and evil deeds, and speaking bad words to others, Allah is not in need of his (fasting) leaving his food and drink" (Bukhari).


He also said, "If one of you is fasting, he should avoid sexual relation with his wife and quarreling, and if somebody should fight or quarrel with him, he should say, 'I am fasting'" (Bukhari).


It is logical that if the aim of fasting was only to stop eating and drinking for a specific period of time, then the spiritual objectives of fasting, which have been specified in the Quran, would not have been met. In the Quran, Allah specifically says:


O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, even as it was prescribed for those before you, that ye may ward off (evil) (2:183).


Ramaḍān is a time to fast for the sake of Allah, and to offer more prayer than usual. Muslims also believed through good actions, they get rewarded seventy times as much as they normally can achieve. During Ramaḍān, Muslims ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance and help in refraining from everyday evils, and try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds. As compared to solar calendar, the dates of Ramadan vary, moving forward about ten days each year. Ramadhan was the month in which the first verses of the Qur'an were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.

The elderly, the chronically ill, and the mentally ill are exempt from fasting, although the first two groups must endeavor to feed the poor in place of their missed fasting. Also exempt are pregnant women, women during the period of their menstruation, and women nursing their newborns. While fasting is not considered compulsory in childhood, many children endeavor to complete as many fasts as possible as practice for later life. Lastly, those traveling are exempt, but must make up the days they miss.


A person who is observing Ramadan might break the fast accidentally, due to having forgotten it. In such an instance, one should spit out the food being eaten or cease the forbidden activity, immediately upon remembering the fast.


Laylat al-Qadr, considered the most holy night of the year, is the night in which the Qur'an was revealed to Muhammad, the "Night of the Power". Muslims believe it to have occurred on an odd-numbered night during the last 10 days of Ramadan..


"The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. The angels and the Spirit descend therein, by the permission of their Lord, with all decrees. (That night is) Peace until the rising of the dawn."


Ramadan ends with Eid ul-Fitr, with much celebration and feasts. During the month following Ramadan, called Shawwal, Muslims are encouraged to fast for a further six days, known as as-Sitta al-Bīḍ, or "the white six." When fasting is over, Muslims go to Mosques in new clothes to pray the first Eid prayer. They give out presents to the young ones and greet their friends and families. They then thank God for what He has given them.



Wishing all my Muslim friends worldwide a happy, blessed Ramadan insha'Allah. May Allah guide us towards making this Ramadan a source for gathering numerous blessings and getting our major and minor sins forgiven. Ameen.


رمضان كريم

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

News, Recipe and More!

First, the great news for everyone in the US who has been waiting to get my book on Amazon: Lately, BOOK SPOT has been getting more orders for my book in the US and is soon going to be able to ship my book to anyone in the US (from inside the US) for much less, so it's going to be like getting my book on Amazon without extra shipping costs. Order your copy now! http://bookspotonline.com/middle.php?file=bookdetails&bookid=43933

Second, I had the worst flu ever! I actually think it might have been the swine flu. I'm better now, thank God.

Third, let me share with you one of my favorite cheesecake recipes (one of those recipes which -- if you especially enjoy baking-- will brighten up your day):

Classic No-Bake Cheesecake

Ingredients:

For the Crust:
1 3/4 cups biscuit crumbs
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the Filling:
900 grams cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. water
1 tsp. unflavored gelatin

Instructions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C).

To Make the Crust:
In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the biscuit crumbs, brown sugar and lemon zest, and process to mix well. Add the butter and process until the crumbs begin to stick together. Press the crumbs evenly and firmly over the bottom and 2 inches up the side of a 9 x 2-1/2-inch deep springform pan. Bake the crust 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

To Make the Filling:
In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese and granulated sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed until well blended. Beat in 1/2 cup of the cream and the vanilla until incorporated.

Place the water in a small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let soften for 5 minutes. Place the saucepan over low heat and stir until the gelatin is dissolved, then gradually whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup cream. Add the gelatin mixture to the cream cheese mixture and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute. Spoon the filling into the cooled crust. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.

To Serve:
Run a knife around the pan sides to loosen the cake. Release the pan sides and place the cake on a plate. Cut the cake into individual slices and spoon cherries over each slice, if desired.

Makes 12 servings.

Enjoy!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Vote for THE YEARS OF SILENCE as 'Best Book of the Week' at LASR!

Great news and an awesome review!

My novel is nominated for 'Best Book of the Week' at Long and Short Reviews; please go NOW to http://www.longandshortreviews.com/LASR/recentrev.htm and vote for my novel THE YEARS OF SILENCE as Best Book of the Week (click on the link in the poll)! Please tell your friends to do the same, too. Voting ends tomorrow so hurry up! :)

Long and Short Reviews gave my novel THE YEARS OF SILENCE a five out of five book rating (which according to their rating system means my book is superb!) and an awesome review!

THE YEARS OF SILENCE captivates you from the start with its tragic loss and history of violence.... Author Marwa Ayad’s writing is beautiful and her voice is so stunningly real I was certain I was reading the excerpts of a painfully recorded diary. Those who are not familiar with Middle Eastern women or society will be both fascinated and enlightened. She is a promising new author that writes with humility and honor. One can almost feel her taking her first steps out into the world with her arms wrapped gingerly around her “voice”-- a voice I have fallen for. I highly recommend this novel to readers of all genres, and for any ages. -- Long and Short Reviews

Read the whole review here:
http://longandshortreviews.blogspot.com/2009/07/years-of-silence-by-marwa-ayad.html

Please remember that you can order my book online no matter where you live via this link.