Category Archives: My Learning Experience as a Writer

Second Novel Underway

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I started writing my second novel this past August.  It is proving to be a lot more challenging than my first novel.  The research is  the most difficult, as finding time during the day to read so that I can write at night has been tough.  I am fifty-seven pages into the new novel and 17,000 words.  I kind of came to a halt last night.  I am trying to determine where to go with the story.  I have so much more that I need to read up on before proceeding.  When writing about real people from history, it tends to be a lot harder than writing about someone completely fictional.  Historical fiction has always been what fascinated me, when picking out stories to read, so I figured that is what I should write about, but I believe after this novel, the next one will be completely fictional.  I want to try my hand at something different.  It may be a while before that happens as this story I am writing is progressing slowly.  But, I do believe in the end it will be a fabulous new take on a historical figure.  It’s an idea that hasn’t been done before, so I will keep plugging along until it is amazing.

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No Drama for this Mamma Please!

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Isn’t it amazing that even as we get older, no matter how hard we try, we always end up in the middle of someone’s drama.  Whenever you get a group of women together, there will always be drama. I mean no matter how hard a person may try to be the nicest, most outgoing and friendly person, someone will find fault in them. Maybe they are jealous that you have more friends than them, or you are cuter than them, or maybe just because they are bored with life and need to have something to fight about.

Twice this year out of no where, I have gotten calls from people whom I thought were friends, whom I changed my mind about since. You know how the story goes. “So-in-So said that you said blah blah blah.” Even if you try to defend yourself, it does no good, because then you just look more guilty, even if you aren’t. These type of situations really piss me off.

It just happened to me today. I got a call from someone out of the blue, and it was as I said. “Someone said you said that you aren’t happy with me etc etc.” When I went to explain that, “#1 I wasn’t the one who said what she heard and that I was obviously misunderstood, but that I had heard some  other people discussing her and #2 it wasn’t me who had an issue with her yadda yadda yadda.” So then this particular person wants to know who was talking about her. At that point I cut it off. I told her to just be mad at me, because I wasn’t throwing anyone under the bus or perpetuating the situation. I mean for God’s sake, I am a 40-year-old woman, wife and mother of five children. I am not some young teenager who is going about gossiping. Quite frankly I am the type of person that if  I have something to say about you, I will say it to your face.  That is unless I like you enough to just say nothing at all and let whatever you did to piss me off slide.  In fact, I am a really nice, big-hearted woman unless I am unjustly wronged in some way, and then I can be the biggest bitch you ever saw.  It took every fiber of my being this afternoon not to tell So-in-So to go take long jump off a short pier.  But, boy was I mad.  There is nothing more frustrating to me than to have someone tell me, that someone else told them, something I supposedly said, and it wasn’t true.  I have flash backs to highschool and the cliques and gossiping that occurred there.  Grow up people.  Get a life!  Stop starting trouble for others just to make your life more entertaining.

God, I hate Cooking!

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Making bread in bread machine.

Image via Wikipedia

Today was a perfect example of why I should not ever enter the kitchen with the intent to cook a meal. 

Mid-morning, I whipped out my handy-dandy bread machine recipe book and decided to try to make French bread. I gathered all the ingredients and poured them into the machine, turned it on and walked away, thinking that I had just made the easiest bread ever.  Ten minutes later, I go to look at the progress of the bread and notice that the rotating hand inside the machine which is supposed to be mixing up the dough is not moving.  I call to my husband with an SOS.  We tried everything, but couldn’t figure out what was wrong.  So, I poured the bread dough, which wasn’t actually dough yet, into another bowl and tried to get it to form into the right consistency.  It was a disaster.  I finally got mad and threw the dough back in the bowl and stomped out of the kitchen.  During my tirade, my husband had decided he would  disassemble the bread machine to see what the problem was.  After tinkering with the machine a bit he discovered a belt had come off and that was why the machine wasn’t working.  He diligently worked on getting the belt into place, which wasn’t easy as the belt was very stiff, but he finally got it back into place.  Yeah husband!  At this point my dough that wasn’t really dough yet had been sitting out for about 30 minutes, but, unwilling to throw it away, we decided to put it back in the machine and see what happened.  The machine timer started and dough was on its way to finally actually becoming dough.  Entire time for bread would be three hours.

During the afternoon, my husband and I started to prepare Kabab Hala, which is basically steak, cut into thin strips and fried in a skillet with onions, garlic, tomato sauce and lots of spices, which is served over white rice.  After my husband cut up the meat, he handed it over to me to add spices and start cooking.   I started adding the spices I like.  I noticed I was out of black pepper in the shaker, so I searched out another container in the spice cabinet.  Unfortunately, the ignorant people who designed that particular spice receptacle, made the holes way to big.  Knowing my luck with cooking, I wasn’t about to try to sprinkle any on the meat from that container, so I poured some in my hand, pinched some and sprinkled it that way.  Once that task was done I moved on to opening the tomato sauce.  I was about to pour the tomato sauce into the skillet when I had a nose itch.  Forgetting that I just had black pepper in my hand, I rubbed my hand across the top of my nose and face.  Instantly, my left eye started to burn and tear up.  I had gotten  black pepper in my eye. I yelled for my husband and he came running in to take over on the meat, so I could wash out my eye. 

While I was recovering from the incident with my eye, the timer on the french bread went off.  I opened the bread machine and dumped the bread upside down and out of the cooking pan.  Judging from the look of it, I had just managed to cook the hardest bread ever.  I mean you could have really hurt someone if you had thrown it at them.  I just stood there staring in disgust.  My husband, trying to save the situation says, let me cut it and see what it tastes like.  He saws through the loaf and takes a bite.  “Um, it’s really good, honey,'” he says with a mouth full of bread.  I can tell from his expression that he is lying.  I just squinted my eyes at him and shook my head.

“I know it sucks, but thanks for trying to make me feel better,” I said.

“You have the worst of luck when it comes to cooking,” he replied.

I am the only person I know that can follow a recipe to a “T” and still have it turn out crappy.  “God I hate cooking!”

Daily Post: Topic #253 What is your favorite way to procrastinate?

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I can think of one million ways to procrastinate, but the biggest obstacle to overcome in getting anything accomplished these days is the computer and Facebook.  Since joining the Author’s Helping Authors group on Facebook, I have spent way to much time reading all the posts, and following links to helpful sites.  I get so wrapped up in reading posts, the time flies and I find that I have accomplished nothing at all that I was supposed to have done for the day.  I should be spending my sparse free time on my second novel, but got stuck on page ten about two weeks ago, and haven’t touched it since.  I think I lost interest in it, and maybe need to move on to something else.  Most likely though, by the time I get through reading and posting on Facebook and my blogs, I am sick of the computer and just can’t stand the thought of being on it anymore.  Sometimes I lose track of time and then I am forced to jump up and hurriedly clean house, wash the laundry and do the dishes before 5:00 pm when my husband gets home.  Just like right now, it’s Saturday, and I should be thoroughly cleaning the house for the week.  So, what am I doing instead?  Blogging.

Poem entered into today’s contest

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The following poem was created using only book titles off the bookshelf above.

THE STORY OF ZAHRA

One of PRINCESS SULTANA’S DAUGHTERS

THE WOMEN OF SAND AND MYRRH

Full of GRANDMOTHER’S SECRETS

And ARAB FOLKTALES

Traveling THE ROAD TO TAHRIR SQUARE

Wearing a VEIL OF ROSES

She leaves the THE HOUSE OF OBEDIENCE

And DREAMS OF TRESPASS

Or an EXIT TO EDEN

THE ARABIAN NIGHTS

Are full of NADIA’S SONG

SAND CASTLES

Like ATLANTIS RISING

Remembering STOLEN LIVES

SEVEN DAUGHTERS AND SEVEN SONS

Making THE CHOICE

A TRUST BETRAYED

UNEXPLAINED

Chasing TOMORROW’S DREAM

SCHEHEREZADE GOES WEST

Whispering to ANGELS & DEMONS

Searching for the EYE OF THE PYRAMID

Through the fog of the EMPIRES OF SAND

But, wait, MIRAGE

THE PERFUMED GARDEN OF CHEIKH NEFZAOUI

She never left the HAREM

by Tina Douthat Marreez September 2011

Contest Contestant

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I did the funnest thing tonight.  One of my author friends on Facebook told us about a contest that is starting tomorrow which involves writing a poem using only the titles of the books you currently have on your book shelf and then taking a picture of said books as proof that you only used titles you had on hand.  It was great fun until it got to time for taking a picture of the books I used. I incorporated 27 titles in my diddy and it was hard as hell to take a picture of all of them at once.  First I tried making a tower of them, but all the titles wouldn’t show up or there was a glare. 

Then I put them in the shape of a upside down pyramid (which looked cool) but still couldn’t get all the titles to be readable. 

Finally I put them all back in a row on my bookshelf and took the picture.  Simplest ended up being the best.  So an hour and much cursing later, I finally got a decent shot of the books to send with my poem. 

Attack of the little lizards

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Finally, it rained enough today in Las Vegas, that it cooled down substantially.  I thought I would take advantage of the cool weather and go outside and sit on one of my lounge chairs in the back yard.  I was about to sit, when I looked down and there were two lizards already enjoying my chair.  I started screaming bloody murder when one of them proceeded to jump from the chair to the ground in front of my right foot. The other one had stayed put.  My husband, thinking that I was being accosted by someone, comes flying out the back door to find me standing on one foot like a flamingo statue with a look of horror on my face. 

“What the heck is wrong with you?” he yelled out. 

“It’s a lizard!” I screeched, pointing at the lounge chair.

“A lizard?”  he asked.

The lizard on the ground darted past my foot and I again screamed.

“Stop yelling the neighbors are going to think I am over here killing you,” Yehia said.

My son, Omar, who had been inside playing joins us outside to see what the commotion is all about.  He looks down and sees the lizard on the chair.

“Cool, let me get it mommy,” he said.  Omar creeps up on the lizard that is still perched on my chair and proceeds to try to scoop it up.  The lizard takes off running and jumps off the chair to the ground.  My son does not give up easily and chases it up and over and under again until he finally has the lizard by its tail.  He is looking very proud of himself, when the lizard again tries to jump out of my son’s hand, thereby losing its tail.  It lands on my sons shirt front, where it then proceeds to run up and down and around him and up his back.  It at was at this point that my son starts to scream and twists around in circles.

“Awww.  Get it off,” Omar yelled out.

“Get that thing off him Tina,” my husband shouted standing at a distance.

“You get it Yehia.  You are the man,” I replied.

“I’m not touching that nasty thing,” he said making a face.

All the while my son is running around in circles trying to get the lizard off of him.  Finally, the hero of the hour steps up to help.  My four-year old, Farrah reaches out and knocks the lizard to the ground, and in his haste to get away, Omar accidentally steps on it.

You would think that would be the end of the poor lizards life….but it wasn’t.  Farrah picks it up and flips it over.  The lizard is still moving.  She exams him thoroughly.

“Look mommy, I see it’s penis!” Farrah announced proudly.  I nearly choked on my own tongue when she said that, but of course I had to have a look.

“That’s not its penis, Farrah,” I replied.  “It’s part of his guts.”

Upon hearing that news, Farrah wrinkles up her nose and unceremoniously chucks the lizard across the yard, tailless and squashed.

Should’ve, Could’ve, Would’ve

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I was so terribly depressed today.  Reading more and more bad stuff about my publisher everyday.  I am so disappointed that in the same year, I could be so happy that my dream had finally come true to having that dream trampled upon.  I feel humiliated, stupid and just down right pissed off.  I have been trying really hard to keep it together and not let the misery take over, but if finally did today.  I didn’t even realize it until everyone kept asking me, “What’s your problem today?” and the worst part when my son, who is 5 says, “Why are you being so evil today?”  I started the day badly and continued by bitching about everything and being down right ugly to everyone, including my children.  I didn’t know myself, exactly was causing me to be in such a funk, but after my son commented on my bad behavior, I ran upstairs and cried hysterically.  Not something a mother wants her children see her do, but if I hadn’t cried, I may have just completely lost it.  I had been holding back on the emotions I felt and it all came crashing down.  After all that has happened, I was really feeling that the world is a really horrible place, full of atrocious people, willing to take a person’s dream and crush it under their feet, just to make a buck. I imagine them sitting in their offices, laughing their asses off at all the fools that have fallen for their devious schemes, while  those of us who were naive enough to fall for their ploys, languish in our own stupidity and suffer. 

Everyone keeps telling me to move on and just forget the book.  It’s gone now for seven years and there is nothing you can do about it, because the publisher’s lawyer is even nastier than they are.  I WANT MY BOOK BACK.  If I had heard bad things about my book, or I truly believed it wasn’t worth fighting for, I wouldn’t.  But, the unfortunate thing is that is a really great novel.  I have had raving reviews from everyone who has read it.  Many have told me that once they started reading it, they just couldn’t put the book down.  So, how do I just throw it away to a pack of hungry hyenas? I haven’t figured out just yet, what my plan of action will be, but I will do something, that’s for sure.  In the meantime, I am hoping that my pity party is over and I can truly move on and stop thinking, “Should’ve, could’ve, would’ve.”

Simple Poetry

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Over the years, I have come across poetry that was so hard to understand that I needed a dictionary handy just to get through it.  Whether it was poetry written by intellectuals, or someone writing with a thesaurus, trying to find the most difficult of words to describe something, I don’t know.  I have written poetry my whole life, but it was never difficult to understand.  Words came to my mind and flowed out through my fingers onto paper.  I didn’t seek out the most difficult words I could find, but words that just came out of me.  There has to be a place in the world, for plain old simple styled poetry.  I have to say that the other day I posted a poem on a Facebook Group posting for authors, and I got a comment back by one of the authors that really pissed me off. 

Her:  “Are you writing poetry for yourself, or to be published? Poetry is a gorgeous, complicated world, but tender writer beware. There’s a LOT to it.”

Me:  “I don’t aspire to be a poet, although I write poems. There’s a lot of difference between poetry written by the common man and someone who has been afforded the good fortune of going to an ivy league college for instance. There is poetry out there that is supposed to be awesome, that I need a dictionary to decipher and to be honest, I just am not that interested. I would much rather know what the common man has to say and be able to understand it easily.”

Her: “Great poetry has nothing to do with an ivy league education, and everything to do with an obsession with words put together in fascinating ways, steeped in long tradition.”

Me:  “Possibly so, but if a normal person can’t read it, what’s the point?”   …there are a lot of different types of poetry, just as there are a lot different types of writers and readers. I just don’t think simple poetry should be discounted in any way.

Her: “Simple is not easy, and is worlds away from diary style thoughts dashed onto paper. Real poetry involves great deliberation and style. Careful, concise word choice. Since you have so little space to express your ideas, each word is much more important.”

Me: “I am no Shakespeare..nor aspire to be. I write what moves me.”

These comments made by one individual to me, made me feel highly defensive.  Should one person’s way of writing be the same as another’s.  Whose to say that something can’t just come to me in an instant and go down on paper and it couldn’t be fabulous.  I don’t agree that writing a poem has to be a long and drawn out affair.  Maybe I am wrong, but that is my opinion.

Here is the poem that I had posted, let me know your thoughts:

Center Stage

by Tina Douthat Marreez

When the music slows, it finds me center stage and all alone. 

The spotlight encircles me and all at once my voice pierces the silence like a knife.

It is not me, but someone I have become. 

I sway and trill and the audience is enraptured. 

My voice carries as if for miles,

bringing chills to my own skin.

Rising and falling

High and clear

Faster and faster, to the final high note,

it leaves me breathless and the audience in applause. 

For a brief second I am lost in the moment of glory.

Then the dancers burst forth from the curtains and move past me.

I can smell the heat of their bodies and they dance and sing.

The air around me is whirling.

It whips at my skirt and teases my hair.

As we hold hands preparing to take a bow,

I can feel perspiration wet between fingers.

It’s trickling down my back from the heat of the stage lights.

My heart is pounding and I feel truly alive for the first time.