The Black Box

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The Black Box

by Tina Douthat Marreez

 She lives within a cold black box.

She sees nothing.

She hears nothing.

She is afraid.

 All at once he comes, and warms her

With his rays like the sun.

He melts away the ice from the box and it opens.

She emerges.

 She sees and hears everything,

As if for the first time.

She opens her arms to him,

And like an eagle she soars.

Then, unexpectedly, though she should have known,

Clouds roll in and shadow her from him.

She plummets down to earth,

And finds herself alone.

 Her heart breaks,

As she slowly turns,

Lifts the heavy lid,

And reenters the black box she calls home.

 She sees nothing

She hears nothing

But, she feels everything.

Her icy wet tears scald her, as they fall from her sun-kissed cheeks.

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.

Getting Started

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Eight months ago, my husband and I were on a trip to San Diego, California. We were bored, and we were talking about anything and everything. Our conversation turned to the revolution that had just occurred in Egypt. We were discussing Mubarak, the Interior Minister, the state of the economy after the revolution etc. My husband’s daughter Samar happened to be there during it all, as she is Egyptian and in medical school in Cairo. In the midst of the conversation, my husband turns to me and says, “You should write a book.”  He knew that I had always wanted to write a novel, but as yet, had never found a topic I felt worthy to write about.

We started to brainstorm title’s for a book about what happened in Egypt. We came up with “My Life, My Love, My Revolution!” The title stuck and as soon as I returned from our trip to California, I started writing. It came easy as my husband and I had been watching all the events as they happened on the international news as well as CNN and FOX News Channel. It was on all the time during the protests and the ousting or Mubarak and the rest of the corrupt government. I spend days and days reading articles on the Internet and then started making phone calls to Egypt to talk to my sister-in-laws and other relatives and friends that had participated in the protests. I gathered stories and events from as many people as I could and then started incorporating them into my story.

My fingers began to fly across the keys and the book began to take shape. I spent the daytime hours tending to my children, husband etc., then I burned the midnight oil writing and revising and researching every step of the way. During those months, I was surviving on very little sleep. My husband was constantly rushing me to finish, so I could be the first one to write a novel about the revolution. Three months and many hours later, my novel was complete; or so I thought. After reading and rereading it to many times to count, I decided it was missing something. So my husband and I brainstormed and concluded that the story needed to include dialogue and storyline from the view of Mubarak and other government officials. So I spent another month adding and enhancing the storyline with what I speculated in my mind, as to what had transpired in Mubarak’s presidential Palace and behind closed doors of the parliament and interior ministry.

By the end of May the book was finished. I started looking for publishers that did not require an agent. I was very green and knew very little about this aspect of the writing industry. I just knew in my heart I had written a great novel and someone somewhere was going to appreciate it. I sent my manuscript off to only two small publishers. One answered me that the book wasn’t their cup of tea and the other one accepted it. Again, I really had no idea what I was doing, and if I hadn’t been in such a rush, I would have chosen more wisely, or waited for something better to come along. But, I didn’t.

Once I signed the contract, the publisher immediately told me they wanted to change the title. I was not happy with that as the title is what led me to the story to begin with, but I worked with them, and we finally settled on Road to Tahrir Square: My Life, My Love, My Revolution. My whole intent was to get the book published here and then sell it in Egypt. I even wanted to get it translated into Arabic. I had big dreams for my novel.

Unfortunately, two months after signing with my publisher, I began to realize that they weren’t really interested in selling my book, they were more interested in making money off of me. Every day 3 or 4 emails would come soliciting opportunities for marketing.  Some examples: “Enter your book ______book fair only $49.99,” or “Hollywood is waiting for you.  Let’s send them a movie proposal only $99.00,” or “Go on a book tour, $149.99”, etc . The books were way over priced and the shipping costs were astronomical. I spent many hours everyday, trying to promote my book on my own, until I finally realized that I was never going to see any financial gain from the sale of my book. The publisher I signed with was corrupt, deceiving and unorthodox. My book was stolen from right under my own nose, because I was naive and uneducated about the business of publishing a book. The great elation I felt when I knew it was going to be published turned to depression and embarrassment for letting someone dupe me as they did. The sad thing is, it took me spending a hell of a lot of money on various marketing schemes with them before I realized I was a fool.  Now, I am told that places like Barnes and Nobel don’t even consider authors published with that company to be real authors.  They won’t stock their books. They certainly won’t do book tours with any author associated with said publisher.  I have even been told that I should just forget about the book and move on as no reputable publisher will take me seriously,  if they see I have published with said devious publisher.  So what am I to do?  I just can’t let it go.  I refuse to let my very first novel just disappear into the hands of thieves.  What I will do next, I am not sure, but it just may be the beginning of Tina’s Revolution.

Hello world!

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My Book

Samar is a young Egyptian medical student who has absolutely no interest in politics whatsoever.  Although she had heard of the January 25th planned protest from Facebook, she never imagined that she or any of her classmates would ever become involved.  As the protests continue throughout Cairo and the rest of the country, the violence escalates. Samar and her friends find themselves compelled to go to Tahrir Square and help the injured protestors there.  The sequence of events that follow and the people that Samar meets along the way, have a profound effect on her and change her life forever.  She finds a strength within herself she never knew she possessed and comes to see the people and country of Egypt in a completely different light.  Road to Tahrir Square: My Life, My Love, My Revolution is a story of not only one woman’s journey, but the  journey of all Egyptians to freedom, hope and love; love for not only one another, but love of country.