Thursday, October 1, 2015

Poet Naomi Shihab Nye quote about BITTER ALMONDS

Lilas Taha's great gift in BITTER ALMONDS is to create characters and scenes so richly resonant with life and vitality, that the complicated, lush world of the Middle East feels as tangible and close as any world you are living in. Crucial in our strange days?  Perhaps more than anything.”

Naomi Shihab Nye, author of HABIBI

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Dear Bretha Von Suttner: Wake up!

Today, I made it to the Peace Palace in The Hague, The Netherlands. Though the building itself is impressive, the mission behind it is vital, I found myself in turmoil once I learned about its major founder: Bertha Von Suttner, mother of the peace movement and the first woman awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1905.

The Czech-Austrian pacifist and novelist spent her life advocating for the construction of the Peace Palace and the establishment of the International Court of Justice for the settlement of conflicts threatening peace. The palace opened in 1913 with most world leaders attending on the premise that justice leads to peace, and peace leads to justice.

Bertha died of cancer in June 1914, just few weeks before World War I broke out. She witnessed the build up to World War I and continued to advise against international armament to the last breath. I just can't get past thinking how she must have felt seeing all her dreams, efforts, and life's work literally go up in flames, worldwide

If Bretha, the author of Lay Down Your Arms, somehow comes back to life and travels to the future - our present - what would she say?
How would she feel?
Could she hurt more?
Would she hope less?
Would she forsake her dreams?
Would she call our tremulous state World War III?
Would she write another pacifist novel?
And more importantly, would we read it?

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Toddler And The Sea

So I’m two years-old and, because I’m special, I was given a miracle: I can tell you my thoughts. I don’t know where I’m from, or where I am now, or where I’m going. I can only tell you what I’ve experienced so far.

Are you ready?
Here we go:

I’ve filled my stomach on my mother’s milk when I was smaller. It was warm and plenty.
I’ve slept on my father’s shoulder when I was too tired to walk. It was comfortable and wide.
I’ve smelled my grandmother’s breath when she kissed me every morning. It was fruity and sweet.
I’ve bounced on my grandfather’s lap when he tried to stop my crying. It was soft and a bit awkward.
I’ve popped soap bubbles my older brother blew in my face when we bathed. It was fun and magical.
I’ve kicked a football around and didn’t fall on my face for the first time. It was very satisfying.
I’ve danced with my cousins to derbakkeh drums and oud strings. I liked their music.

I’ve heard noises coming from the sky. They sounded like thunder, but were not followed by rain, only ash and cement chunks. It was too loud.
I’ve hidden in a closet to wait for the man with the heavy boots and shiny long rifle to leave our house. It was scary.
I’ve crawled under metal wire with sharp spikes. They hurt when my skin caught on them.
I’ve felt the sun burn too close, too hot. The only moisture came from my mother’s eyes.
I’ve seen my uncle lay very still in the street, a circle of red paint spread around his head.

I’ve bobbed up and down on a boat. I was sick. I only saw water.
I’ve slipped through my father’s hands. I didn’t float.
I’ve heard him cry. His voice went hoarse.
I’ve swallowed water. It was too salty.
I’ve breathed sand through my nose.
I’ve been cold, very cold.

I’ve arrived.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


An extremely thoughtful reader left this Amazon review for Shadows of Damascus:

"If you do not read this book you are missing a remarkable 'works from the heart.' This is a 'first-hand' account. Here we have the clear opportunity to follow the prior life based logical reasoning of a young woman who's entire life is blown to bits by a war and then counter-war in her middle-east country. How she is saved from those that would 'use' her and, her attempts to conform to a western civilization culture are the underlying themes of the book, but in addition there is another theme that everyone needs to read and absorb, which is the cultural difficulties which she AND her associates must go through. I will say no more other than I found it gripping, enlightening, sometimes difficult to understand the emotional stances of the characters, but in the final analysis I found this a very strong 5 star book. I only wished I understood more about the fundamentals of middle east thinking. You will find yourself caring very much about the destinies of the principal characters."

For a writer dipping her toes in the published world like myself, it's very rewarding to see that my intentions for writing this story came through the script.

Monday, June 15, 2015

CRW 2015 Award of Excellence Contest Finalist

I'm pleased to announce that my novel Shadows Of Damascus was chosen as a finalist in the Mainstream w/Romantic Elements category of the Colorado Romance Writers 2015 Award of Excellence Contest. To see the finalists list on the CRW website, click here. Winners will be announced at the CRW conference in Denver, Colorado on August 8, 2015.