Thursday, November 02, 2006
  Writing across cultures
My NaNoWriMo project is a young adult book about a group of Muslim highschool kids (in public high schools) who start up a club, have adventures, and do some good works. While the book is clearly aimed at Muslim middle-schoolers, I'm hoping that non-Muslim kids might find it interesting and fun as well. After all these are American Muslim kids and their culture, while definately distinct from Christian American culture, is not so very different. I'm hoping, in fact, that non-Muslim kids will see, hey these kids may have some different customs but they are just kids, while learning a bit about Islam along the way.

The biggest issue is how to handle things that Muslim kids will take for granted -- like what Assalamu alaikum, or insha Allah, means. Any Muslim kid who spends even a small amount of time at a mosque learns a whole basketful of phrases in Arabic. They need to be in the book. But, it's a bit awkward. Non-Muslim readers will have no idea what they mean, and the Muslim characters wouldn't translate them, or even comment to themselves on what they mean. After a couple chapters, I'm introducing a character who is a convert so some of the phrases could be explained to him (even though he already knows them. I swear even after twenty years as a Muslim I sometimes get very basic instructions from obviously well meaning souls.).

The question is, is chapter three too late? Will non-Muslim kids be put off by a few Arabic phrases they don't know what means, or will they, gloss over them understanding that this is how these kids say hello? How can I sneak in the meanings in ways that are realistic and don't sound like I'm just trying to be informative.

Islam, Writing
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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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