New year's resolutions

Photo by K B on Flickr
I love that the new year gives the perfect opportunity to reevaluate and create some new goals. Last year, I wrote up a list of goals to achieve throughout the year, and I broke them down into categories to help. I didn't fulfill all of them, but it was nice to check things off throughout the year (I taped it to my wall next to my calendar). I haven't done the same thing yet (mostly because I try to remind myself that they should be goals for the whole year, and I keep thinking of things I only want to do RIGHT NOW), but being a better writer is always in the front of my mind. So here are my writing goals for 2015:


My 2014 book roundup

It’s been a great year for reading. This year, two things influenced my reading: 1) being part of a book club and 2) #readwomen2014. When I’ve had a choice, I’ve chosen female authors this year; most of the exceptions are male grad school classmates (and my book club read male authors as well). I've also been making a more conscious effort to read non-Western or POC writers. This isn’t an exhaustive list, and it’s not in any particular order, but here’s what I curled up with this year (I confess that a few of these are unfinished – I won’t tell you which ones haha):

Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey
Mapping the Stars by Rachel Wooley


The morning after the #FergusonDecision

I'm having a hard time staying attentive at work today because I can't keep Ferguson out of my mind. Last night, I heard about the results of the grand jury and I looked at social media a little bit, but mostly I didn't think about it because I knew that I'd get too sad. But today I can't get it out of my head.

I don't know exactly what happened between Michael Brown and Darren Wilson on August 9. I wish there had been a trial so the entire story could have been investigated (although the fact that Wilson is a police office probably helped him avoid an indictment). Our country is hurting so badly over this that it's difficult to get emotions out of the way, and maybe a trial --held somewhere outside of St. Louis -- would have helped.

There's a young man who's unjustly dead. This is clear: Michael Brown didn't deserve to die for his actions. I can't help but


To wait or not to wait

There’s an article circulating the Web that you may have seen; it’s entitled “I Waited Until My Wedding Night To Lose My Virginity And I Wish I Hadn’t” by Samantha Pugsley. Last week, I saw a second article in response; it’s entitled “Dear Girl Who Waited And Wishes She Didn’t” by Savanna Hartman.

These two articles basically sum up the two main arguments for and against the conservative Christian stance on marriage and sex. The first one is written by a young woman who had internalized the purity doctrine so completely and so young that even when she was married, sex still felt dirty and sinful and painful. The second cautions that a popular article about not waiting could influence impressionable young girls who might then give themselves to men who don’t love them, abuse them, and take advantage of them (which was Hartman’s experience), and Hartman reassures her readers that she had never felt shame having sex within marriage like she had outside of marriage.

But combined together, these two articles lose track of two extremely important points:
  1. It’s okay not to wait until marriage if you’re ready and you understand what sex is and means.
  2. It’s okay to wait until marriage if you have decided for yourself—and for no one else, not even a deity—that it’s what you want to do.
I am married and so I’m going to try to respect my husband’s privacy in this post (pity the poor person who marries a writer!).


Guest post: An interview with Kelly Ann Jacobson, author of Cairo in White

I recently met Kelly Ann Jacobson since we're both writers in the D.C. area. When I read her novel Cairo in White, I had all sorts of questions. Luckily, I have a blog, which gave me the excuse to ask them; Kelly graciously accepted.

1. What inspired you to write Cairo in White? What did you hope to accomplish with the novel?

During my time at George Washington University, I was dating an Egyptian man. I was a women’s studies major, and I asked him what it was like to be gay in Egypt, to which he responded that they didn’t have gay people in Egypt. That conversation stuck with me, and in my first fiction class, I started a story about an Egyptian lesbian who sneaks into her lover’s house, only to end up in an arranged marriage. I meant the story to be just a short story, but Zahra stuck with me, and then her daughter appeared (to my complete surprise!).

2. Half of the novel takes place in Egypt – have you been to Egypt or did you rely on research

Yes, I actually went to Cairo for eight days while I was dating the Egyptian man and got to spend some time with his family there. I absolutely loved it! I put a lot of my personal experiences into the book, but I still had to do a lot of research, especially about the foods and the histories of certain places. I initially visited Cairo in 2010, and unfortunately did not get a chance to go back to do more research because of the political