Wednesday, May 03, 2006
  Writing Short
I try to support Muslim writers and new writers of all ilk as much as I possibly can. (My budget sometimes doesn't stretch quite as far as I wish it did...) Aside from buying books, one of the ways I do this is by writing reviews and doing feature articles about authors. I had a blast writing the following review (see below). I had a 100 word limit. Not an easy task to capture the feel of a book in 100 words! There was a time, in fact, when I would have thrown up my hands in despair at ever being able to do so.

However, writing my columnette for the Indianapolis Star ( has taught me a great deal about getting across a point about an important topic in less space that I'd normally devote to, say, describing the setting of a story. It has often been a challenge to cut out everything but the core issue (and to be honest, there are some issues I haven't tackled because they are just too complex to fit into 200 words).

It sems to me that the skill of being able to convey a lot in a few words is increasingly important. People read the headlines and the first paragraphs of a news story or opinion piece, rarely the whole thing. When I get a piece forwarded to me on the internet that is huge, I zone out quickly. Effective persuassion has to happen quickly.

Of course, we also need room for nuance, for complex arguments, and multi-layered approaches to alot of todays problems. But, realistically, most readers won't get to the bottom of that article. Which means as writers, we need to be able to capture the essence of our argument in the first two paragraphs, and then develop the complexity, the depth and width and breadth in the following graphs, realizing many won't ever read them.

Anyway, here is the review. It was fun to write, and, I think, it will really give readers an idea of what this book is about, and what makes it different from all those other cookbooks out there.

Halal Food, Fun, and Laughter

When I was a child I spent a great deal of time in my grandmother's kitchen, chopping onions, stirring stew, or whipping up a batch of cookies, while Grammy told me tales of her childhood. Halal Food, Fun, and Laughter, by Linda D. Delgado, recaptures the spirit of my grandmother's kitchen, combining stories, poems, delightful animated spoon comics, and quotes fom Qur'an and hadith with recipes from around the world. The result is a warm, good feeling inside, coupled with delicious food on your table. It's like having your Chicken Soup for the Muslim soul, and eating it too.

Halal Food, Fun, and Laughter is available at
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.

What I'm reading now

Cane River
An interesting exploration of the gradual whiting of a family through slavery to modern days.

To see an archive of all the books I've read (well the ones I've read and review since I started the blog) with comments, please click here

Causes Worth Supporting

This is just a short list -- a few of my favorites.

English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
Pay a Teacher's Salary in Afghanistan. The Hunger site actually has a lot of worthwhile programs. You can find them all here .
Muslims for Progressive Values. My organization. We can always use donations, of time or money!
Human Rights Campaign for the glbt community
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The ACLU I'm a card carrying member. Hope you'll become one too. The organization that has done the most, as far as I can tell, to pull the countries progressive side together.
Network of Spiritual Progressives. Working to reclaim religion and morality for the religious left.

Blogs Worth Reading

Wanda Campbell also known as Nochipa A very gifted poet and a gentle, compassionate soul. Nochipa and I are on the same page on sooooo many things
Writeous Sister Aminah Hernandez, she's got some excellent latino pieces and always has good writing info on her blog.
Sister Scorpion aka Leila Montour - Leila is a fount of energy, quirky humor, and bad attitude. She's also a talented poet.
Muhajabah Very interesting commentary here. I don't always agree with her, but her pieces are always thought-provoking.
Georgie Dowdell Georgie is a great writer and a good friend.
Louise Marley Another great writer. I think Louise is one of the best sf writers exploring faith themes.
Ink in My Coffee Devon Ellington (who has numerous aliases) who is also the editor of Circadian Poems. A truly inspiring woman with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Ethnically Incorrect With a name like that, isn't a given I'm going to enjoy this writer?
Freedom from the Mundane Colin Galbraith, another excellent writer, from Scotland.
The Scruffy Dog Review This is a new e-zine with an ecclectic mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fic, some really enjoyable pieces here.
Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom Lara, another gentle soul, very thoughtful.
Circadian Poems A journal of poetry, new stuff up all the time.
Ye Olde Inkwell Michelle writes romance and is one of my writing buddies.
Muhammad Michael Knight The original punk Muslim writer. Like him or love him, Mike is always coming up with the unexpected.

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