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You are now entering the world of my thoughts.

This blog is my diary of works in progress. The only way a writer can improve upon her skill is to practice, practice and practice some more. Here, in this place of quiet peace, I pen to paper my thoughts and creativity. Welcome to my world.

Copyright © 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 SN Taylor, All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tweet Nuggets

Tweet Nuggets to share. Sorry there is not much. I did not have much time this week to come the twitterverse.

Patricia AKA  wants to interview self-published fiction writers.  via  

What To Tell Yourself When You Get a Bad Review via  (A thoughtful post)

The Secrets to Getting More Book Reviews (even if your book is already out)  via 

Book Buzz: Teacher Study Guide for If I Should Speak

         Earlier this year, I was asked to create a teacher study guide for the novel "If I Should Speak," by Umm Zakiyyah for use in middle schools, high schools, and English language learning classrooms worldwide. I just received a copy of the teacher study guide from the publisher! Yay, this makes my fourth published teacher study guide. :)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday's Muse: Cover Reveal: Rise of a Rector by Heather McCorkle

It's finally here, the cover reveal for Heather McCorkle's Rise of a Rector, the final novel in her channeler series (due out this October). To celebrate Heather is giving away two copies of her historical fantasy novel, To Ride A Puca. Before we get to that though, here is the cover:

To add it to your Goodreads lists click here. If you'd like to check out the rest of the channeler series (her novella Born of Fire is now FREE on Amazon & B&N!) you can do so on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. To win an eBook of To Ride A Puca, all you have to do is help Heather spread the word. There will be two winners! To enter fill out the form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Author Interview: Umm Nura: The Jannah Jewels Series

Greetings everyone!!! I feel really bad that I have not been posting on my regular schedule but it has been a very busy month for me. God-willing, I will be starting back to my regular postings. Today I will start it off with an author interview!!! :)

Meet Umm Nura. She is the author of the Jannah Jewel Series. This series features four adventure seeking time-traveling friends on a mission to save the world from a power hungry entity seeking world domination. These girls are fierce, determined and intelligent, each with a unique ability that serves the group. Here's more about the author herself!

Thank you for joining us today Umm Nura. Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a homeschooling mom of two beautiful girls, 3 and 1.  I am a Masters of Arts graduate with a degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on Spirituality in Education.  I have been a public school and private school teacher for grades K-12 for 10 years.  Prior to becoming a teacher, I was a Youth Liaison for 7 years.  Currently, I work for a homeschooling organization, in which I am a Learning Consultant for various families in British Columbia, Canada and writing stories part-time.  My hobbies include sports, graphic design, photography, calligraphy, gardening and playing with my little ones.

What are your earliest memories of writing?

Probably writing "more than what was expected of me" in school... Grade 5 comes to mind... when I wrote pages of pages of a story when we were only supposed to write something short and sweet.

Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?

I didn't think I would ever become a writer.  It was something that was encouraged from professors and writing mentors that had a look at my work.

What inspired you to write the Jannah Jewel series?

I was taking Japanese Bow and Arrow - Archery classes when the inspiration came.  I absolutely fell in love with the story of the bow and arrow and researched what Islam had to say about it.  I have always loved playing sports as a Muslim girl who grew up in Vancouver, BC (where Nature is your ultimate playground with the ocean, mountains and abundance of greenery here). I wrote the Jannah Jewels series mainly as inspiration for young girls and boys to continue being physically active and to re-new a sense of confidence and pride of being a Muslim in this day and age.

What do you hope that readers will take away from your book?

To take pride in the years of Golden History that Islam has to offer our young people... for young people to take initiative of the future and make change... to be able to identify with Muslim characters in an engaging story much like other mainstream stories with their main characters... to want to seek adventure, to explore and love being Muslim while doing so.

How can your book be used in the classroom?

Teachers can use Jannah Jewels in a variety of ways... I see it fitting in across the curriculum... mostly, I hope that Jannah Jewels encourages more engaging and fun reading material along with all of the other great literature out there.

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?

Whenever possible to actually read the book before passing it over to their children! And, I'm a strong believer in that a child is never too old to continue being read to... (I love being read to as an adult!)  I know families who have "reading circles" with their teens and I can't wait to continue this tradition with my children when they are older.

Are you working on a new book?

I just finished my first picture book called, "Hijab and Basketball" which seems to fit right in with the FIFA people lifting the ban of headscarves in national sports.  All praise due to Allah (God)!

What has been your most rewarding experience since being published?

The countless emails from parents who are so happy that their Muslim child can read a story with Muslim characters and it's so fun and cool.... and also countless emails from young girls and boys asking me to hurry up with the remaining books in the series.  Haha!  

What advice you would give to new writers?

Everybody has a voice.  Everybody has a story to share.  Yours is needed in our growing world today.  Ask Allah to place barakah (blessing) in your writing and just go for it!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Muse: The Rule of Three

So, last Saturday I babysat two  super fun, energetic, and happy little girls. Toward the end of the evening as it got close to their bed time, we sat down, *phew* and watched a really fun and educational cartoon called Umizoomi. It was during the viewing that I noticed something that I had never noticed before. The story had three segments, each segment had three obstacles, each obstacle had three hurdles to overcome. Wow! The rule of three really stood out.

What is the Rule of Three?

The "rule of three" is a principle in writing that suggests that things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things. A series of three is often used to create a progression in which the tension is created, then built up, and finally released.

But is there something really to the art of writing with the rule of three? Does it really make your writing more effective, more engaging, more entertaining? I'm not sure, I have not really experimented with writing with this particular rule. However, it does make a lot of sense. And when I look back at some of the children's books I have read, where the element of three is used, the books are definitely more appealing.

So, just what makes it more appealing? Well, what I have learned so far is that:

three is the smallest number of elements required to create a pattern
* three is easier to remember because of its brevity
three is often used to create increasing tension in a story and finally release usually with a twist.
* our brains are wired to respond to things presented in groups of three

And every day I am learning more. Now it is time for me to go back to my manuscripts and see if I can apply this rule to my stories and see if it improves them, make them more effective, engaging and entertaining. :) And to think all this came from watching a kid's cartoon! :D

Check out these blogs 
Copy Blogger: How to Use the "Rule of Three" 
The Write at Home Blog: The Rule of Three

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tweet Nuggets

Welcome to Tweet Nuggets where I share some interesting tweets I read on my feed. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. :)

@Damyantig : Books Against Bullying Campaign #YA #Indie #Authors wanted! @InkMuse ( I think this is a great cause!!!!! )

@AdviceToWriters: Six Guidelines for Writing Creative Nonfiction: #writing #writetip

 @Damyantig: According to this author... all self-published/indie writers are lazy wannabes! via @PandragonDan (great rebuttal in defense of self-published/indie writers)

 @Booklove101: Discussion: Author Interviews & how to ask the questions that matter. via @Lit_Explorer  ( I do a lot of interviews as well so this was very helpful to know)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

2nd Summer Giveaway Hop Winner!

I am pleased to announce that the winner of the Summer Giveaway Hop is ..........

!!!!!! Janita !!!!!!

Congratulations Janita! You will receive an email very soon!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Editing... the hardest part of writing!

 I love to write. Sometimes the words just flow out of me like water out of a fountain when my muse is tickled. But the hardest part of the writing process, which happens to be the most important part of the writing process, is the editing.

When it comes to editing my work, I absolutely hate it. I can manage somewhat with spell check and the occasional grammar check but the nitty gritty of checking for flow and consistency, point of view, voice and word choice, I mean really, what makes a word unnecessary?

One of my picture book manuscript is driving me nuts! For one, I am having a hard time deciding what is essential to the story and what needs to be cut out to make it meet its word count without losing my story. To me, all of the words are important or at least I think they are. When can I use modifiers, adjectives, adverbs, and descriptive nouns; how do I use dialogue that is not disguised as info dumps or conversation fillers.

One of the best things in the world is to have a second (third or fourth) pair of eyes to go over a manuscript. They are so important! They catch all of the little things (the really important things that a publisher would cringe at) that my eyes have become familiar to and therefore do not see.

If I am ever going to get anywhere with my manuscripts, I will need to step up my editing game. I foresee some editing classes, even if they are online, in my future!

How do you feel about editing your own work? What tips can you share with us that you have tried and really worked for you?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Author Interview + Giveaway: Nabeel Akbar

Today, I would like to introduce you do, Nabeel Akbar, author of, To Catch a Bug, Castle Park, and Down the Hill We Go. Leave a comment below for a chance to win a free app code and don't forget to check out Nabeel's website!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born and raised in Toronto, my parents emigrated here from Pakistan.  Growing up in Canada definitely had a huge part shaping the books I wrote in two ways.  We don’t always realize the abundance of children’s books available to us here.  So many of these mainstream books are full of imagination, adventure and wonder.  The stories are very creative and original, as is the artwork.  I wasn’t a big reader as a child, but I did read a fair share.  Stuff from Robert Munsch and similar authors were always a lot of fun to read.  Those types of books played a part in shaping my own writing, and then of course there was my own childhood.  I grew up in the suburbs, and there were quite a few kids in my neighbourhood that were the same age range. And all of the kids were of different races or colour, which is something I wanted to try and show in my stories, because I think it’s a great reflection of not just Canadian kids but Muslim kids.  We were outside all the time.  Winter was snowball fights and tobogganing, summer was spent playing neighbourhood games, sports, swimming and water fights. 
What was your favorite children’s book growing up?

Where the Wild Things Are.  Great story, full of imagination, wonder and adventure.  The illustrations created a bit of suspense, which made them very captivating.  It’s the type of book a kid can read over and over again.

As a picture book writer, how did you learn your craft? What are your natural strengths? Greatest challenges?
I believe with writing you need to read a lot and also write a lot to improve your skill. I was also fortunate to have a lot of memories to relate to and also a lot of younger relatives I’m close with whose experiences I could draw on to come up with ideas my stories.

What was your first published book and what inspired you to write it?
The first book I wrote was Down The Hill We Go, but the first book to be published was To Catch A Bug.  When I first sat down to write, I remembered how we would build ramps out of the snow and jump our sleds over them and so I built the story around that. It took me four days to write it, I then showed it to my wife who really liked it, then to the rest of my family.  Everyone thought it was good, and that really encouraged me to write more.  I thought about doing a series of books and within a month I had completed Neighbourhood Safari (not yet published), Castle Park and Summer Splash.  I thought “Daze of Fun” was a good title for the series.  I remember when the completed hardcover copy came in the mail.  Alhamdulillah, it was a great feeling.  I was very happy with the way it came out.  Another thing which I felt good about was that I had accomplished something which could potentially be a lasting contribution to the community- something people could enjoy and perhaps even benefit from.

The snow has fallen and the school's are closed.
Jibraeel and Amanah can't wait to get to the park
and enjoy all the exciting activies Winter brings!

How has publishing changed since you published your first picture book?
As I published my first book recently, not much has changed.  There is a lot of demand for ebooks and book apps for mobile phones and tablets.  Seeing the popularity of these mediums increase we decided to also develop apps for three of our stories.  I wanted some shorter stories, but something with a twist or joke at the end.  After some time I had Midnight Snack, To Catch A Bug and Colours of My Imagination. The idea for To Catch A Bug came from a charity picnic we attended.  My niece and nephew were picking up caterpillars from a tree, when they saw how terrified my wife and sister were, they started to chase them around with the caterpillars! 

What has been the most challenging and rewarding part of publishing your books?

Self publishing is very challenging because you are handling all levels of work, writing, book designing, printing, distributing and even marketing. Before self publishing, I waited almost a year to hear back from publishers – due to some of the content, I was only sending it to Islamic book publishers – so there weren’t that many.  All of them declined, some said they didn’t even read the manuscripts because they were too busy.  The books were written in rhyming verse, and one publisher replied back that they weren’t looking to publish poetry, but if I have a children’s story, then they will look at it.  It was pretty frustrating because I felt they were unable to understand the idea behind them.  I decided that I would just self publish them which wasn’t difficult.  One of the publishers, Kube Publishing (formerly known as Islamic Foundation of UK) agreed to be the distributor, but I had to pay for all the book printing costs, which can be quite expensive – not to mention the artist fees.  I then came up with the name Kids Will Be Kids for my publishing company and thought about putting together a website once the first few books were ready.    Finding an artist wasn’t too difficult as my sister had a friend in art college and I also had a friend who is a really talented illustrator.
The most rewarding thing is when I receive comments from complete strangers who love our books and appreciate the effort we are putting forth.

What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?

I love spending time with my family and being outdoors, playing sports and just being active.
What do you hope that readers will take away from your books?
I want kids to smile and laugh when they read these books.  I want them to feel that Muslim kids have just as much fun as any other kids, and I hope they will see how easy and natural it can be to incorporate the rememberance of our Creator in our everyday language.  

Are you working on a new book?
At this time I am not working on a new book.  Alhamdulillah, I have several stories waiting to be published.  We are focusing a bit more on mobile apps, and Inshallah another youtube video.
What author inspires you the most and why?
I would have to say Robert Munsch, he has touched the lives of so many people and continues to produce enjoyable stories.

How can your books be used in the classroom?
I think they are great books for story time in the classroom.  Kids find them to be funny and relatable, and teachers get a great opportunity to show how zikr (remembrance) of Allah can be used in any conversation.
What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?

Don’t limit yourself to focusing on books which are about lessons only.  Some parents might frown on fictional stories, but it’s important for children to read all kinds of books, it really helps them to become creative and imaginative thinkers as they grow older.  Let your children pick out their own books, and then you can sit down and screen them together in case of inappropriate content.  In such a situation, it can be a great opportunity to discuss and teach our children about our lifestyle as Muslims, the beauty and benefits of such a lifestyle.

Thank you so much for joining us today, Nabeel!

Jazakallah Khair for giving me this opportunity to speak about what we’re doing at Kids Will Be Kids Publishing!

Member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators