11.25.2014

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

11.10.2014

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!).

11.03.2014

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

10.14.2014

Breaking through the silence

Recently, I was at a good-bye party for an MFA friend who is off to join a Ph.D. program (I'm somehow both envious and relieved that it's not me). This meant, of course, other MFA friends were in attendance. During the course of the evening, one of them who graduated a year after me (in 2014) asked me how much writing I was doing.

Now, this particular friend is a stay-at-home dad with a toddler. He has every excuse not to be writing. He's also active in the live storytelling scene and has an active blog so, to be honest, I wasn't sure what he was so worried about.

But I understood the anxiety behind his question because I feel it too. And really, I didn't feel like I had something very encouraging to say because I haven't been writing much (except here when I can and those poems that are somehow coming out... and also I'm trying to get into travel writing... and also, the Maryland Romance Writers kicked my butt on that 'I don't

10.07.2014

The magic formula for balancing work, writing, and family

I did not expect to feel so at home in the Maryland Romance Writers tent at the Baltimore Book Festival, but they seemed to be the best place to go for nuts-and-bolts craft/writing life talk. Probably the panel that I found the most practically useful was on Sunday: Balancing Writing, Jobs & Families.

This has been my biggest struggle post-MFA (and my family only consists of two people and two cats!). I attended this panel hoping to get the magic formula for balancing everything. I had pen and paper all ready to capture whatever wisdom came from the Published Authors. Here's what I got:
  1. Find a time.
  2. Find a place.
  3. Find a ritual.
  4. Turn off the Internet.
  5. Don't let the guilt get to you.
At the end of the panel (ignoring #5 for a second), I hadn't really written down anything I didn't already know.

Obviously, getting rid of the Internet -- and all other distractions -- is a huge step in the right direction. We all know how much