Fun With The Kids

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I haven’t written a blog post in almost two full months. Partly I’ve been working on my novel, but mostly it’s because I really want to post something light, funny maybe, and lately, with the distressing state of the world, I haven’t felt that way. But the other night, I had a great time with my kids…

We just subscribed to our free month of Netflix. I know, I know, Netflix is old and I’m so behind. But I wasn’t even sure how it would work here in Egypt, and quite frankly, I totally plan on cancelling before the free month is over. Anyway…so we watched our first movie the other day. We chose ‘The Prince of Egypt’ as our first pick. I was rather disappointed by it all. The makers did it a disservice to the film by removing almost all religious context from the story. Throughout the entire movie, I kept having to tell the kids, “Well, that’s not the real story; that’s not how it is in the Qur’an…and probably not how it is in the Bible.” Disappointing.

After that let down we needed something funny. Scrolling through, we found ‘Ferris Beuller’s Day Off.’ Now, most parents would not encourage their children to watch a movie about a young student who ditches school and goes all over Chicago having a grand-ol’ time. Most parents would not want their kids to get ideas about how to deceive their parents, how to trick their school administration, how to take their parent’s car without permission…and after all this, never get caught. Most parents are far too responsible to expose their children to all of that….

Well not me! As soon as I saw it on the list, I yelled out, “YOU GUYS HAVE TO SEE THAT! It’s such a good movie!”

Clearly, there is something lacking in my parenting skills…but whatever! Now’s not the time to dwell on that…

We had a blast watching Ferris as he played sick, fooling his parents and his friends (not his sister, though!). We loved watching him take the restaurant reservation for the ‘Sausage King of Chicago,’ then sneak out without his father seeing him. His rendition of ‘Twist and Shout’ on the parade float was well appreciated by all (although, the kids probably liked it just because I was making a fool of myself singing along!). They loved watching the beat-down Ed Rooney chase after his car as the tow-truck pulled it away! I wonder if they wished the same fate upon their own principal?

We laughed the whole movie through. It was a great time. And for that, I’m gonna go ahead and count it a parenting win. Not because it was a good choice (because who are we kidding?), but because we spent time together, laughed together, and hopefully, they’ll remember that more than any of the specifics of the movie. (I know, I know…not likely. But it could happen!)

Thank you for reading my post. Please give it a like. If you’d like to read some of my fiction, simply click here to read the character interviews for the women of my latest novel, Behind Picket Fences. The interviews were super fun to write and I think you’ll enjoy them. Again, thank you so much for your support. 


Divided We Fall

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The other day I saw an image quote that said something like race, religion, and politics divide us. Well, I think that’s a load of crap. I think that while race, religion and politics may differentiate us, what truly DIVIDES us is disrespect. We can be different, and still stand together, united, as long as we have mutual respect. When we are divided, then it is not race, nor religion, nor politics which are to blame: it is disrespect, plain and simple.

The truth, which for some reason people find difficult to voice, is that when we differ, we are in essence finding fault with the other opinion. For example: I, as a Muslim, do not believe that Jesus is God nor the son of God. I believe that is false, that it is wrong. And Christians, by their own creed, must believe that I am wrong. But what the hell is wrong with that? What is wrong with thinking another person (or group) is wrong? Nothing! Absolutely nothing…as long as our disagreements are not coupled with disrespect. I have no right to disrespect my Christian brethren. I have no right to disrespect them with words, nor with caricatures mocking their faith, nor with hateful actions. I do not have that right, and they have no right to disrespect me.

But that’s not what happens these days. These days, when people talk about religion or politics, it’s not uncommon to hear someone say, “You’re an idiot for thinking that!” The problem we have in our society today, is that we don’t know how to respectfully disagree. And that disrespect often manifests in the form of verbal and physical hate crimes.

In the Quran (chapter 49 verse 13) it says what is translated as “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another.” God created us with all our differences so that we can LEARN from one another! There is an innate beauty in our differences, if only we could recognize this.

Recently one of my Facebook contacts implied that I have no right to voice my concern about the results of the recent election. She claimed that since my feet do not currently tread on US soil, I don’t have the right to care about what happens there. I am simply enraged by her disrespect, on so many levels. She tried to revoke my freedom of speech, and she questioned my patriotism. She had no right to do either! Yes, I do not currently live in the US, but it IS my home. Not only is my family there, but I was born and raised there. I was educated there, I worked there. It is a part of me. I want to see it flourish, I want goodness for it. I was blessed to have been born and raised there. And although I think I may feel this way no matter where I had been born, the truth is that freedoms and privileges in the US shine above so many other countries. I’m not saying it is a perfect country. No, it is not. There is racism and sexism and all sorts of other prejudices. But the BEAUTY of America is that its very constitution works to keep those prejudices at bay. Its beauty is that at its very core is a promise to strive for a society free of prejudice. I wanted to see it keep moving forward, keep improving. I wanted to see the incidents of hate crimes decline and to see the gap of inequality diminish.

Since the results of the election, there has been a rise in hate crimes against Muslims in the US. Latino students have been verbally assaulted with chants that a wall should be built to separate them. The list does not end there, but the point is clear: the disrespect which the president-elect showed to so many minorities during his campaign is being put into action as hate by at least some of his supporters. And that is the saddest part of this election. It’s not about one man…it was never about one man. It’s about those who show support for division. If this behavior is not quelled immediately, it will undoubtedly grow out of control, and the country will fall. It’s that simple.

I do not want America to fall. The freedoms that it represents are too precious.

So what’s the answer? How do we teach respectful disagreement? How do we teach it with a president-elect who does not show it?

I want to say, as some of my friends have already pointed out, that discussion is the solution. That learning about those who are different from us from those very people may help relieve our fears and grow a feeling of respect.

But if I’m being honest, I do not think that will work. If an adult does not already recognize that they must respect people around him regardless of their race, religion, or any other differentiating factor, I do not think that he will learn it.

I want to be wrong. I want to be wrong about the direction the US seems to be heading in after this election.

I put my faith in God and pray that He will protect my brothers and sisters in humanity from all forms of disrespect.

This poem is my prayer of love for you.


Rays of Love


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I pray the hate never finds you,

I pray you live protected from its jagged blade.

I pray it does not tear at your heart,

That it does not shred you

From the inside out.


I pray the hate never finds you,

I pray you live protected from its jagged blade,

I pray it does not puncture your flesh,

That it does not shred you

From the outside in.



Hide ourselves and our children in the bosom of compassion,

And when hate comes,

Hold up our shields of brotherhood,

Warn it off with our saber of love.

Stand our ground, lock arms,

And let it not penetrate the circle.


Multiple rays of love can melt the hate.


I pray the hate

never finds you.

©Hend Hegazi


(Thank you for reading and liking this post. You may enjoy reading the four interviews I wrote for the women characters of my novel, Behind Picket Fences. The interviews were super fun to write, and I think you’ll find yourself wondering if they are characters from a book or real people. Click here for the interviews.)

Homesick in Autumn


Today it looks like it’s going to rain. I miss the rain.

But I miss the rain that falls on grass and makes puddles. I miss walking with its pitter-patter bouncing off my head and shoulders and its calm wetness melting on my tongue. I miss the rain in a place I still call home, which will soon no longer belong to the family who has owned it for nearly forty years. I miss watching the rain through the bay window. I miss that bay window. I miss my room, next to the bay window. And sitting in the yard, enjoying the soft shade and fresh breeze. I miss the oranges and reds of autumn, and that serene, smoky smell is holds. Oh, I can almost smell it! I don’t go there enough in my mind. And soon, I won’t even be able to go there in body.

After all these years, why do I still call it home? I live ages away from that place now. Here, the rain is not the same. Here, the rain forms rivers on the paved streets and spits grime on my clothes. But this is my true home now. This is the home that shelters me, and in which I live and love. And I am happy here, despite missing the rain. So why do I still call the blue house with the rock in the yard my home?

I spent my childhood there, all my youth. It was the only home I knew for twenty-three years. It will always be home, even once it isn’t. It is not a building, it is an entire system; it is the people, the experiences and the settings that nurtured me. It will remain where I grew up, where I played. It will remain the place that held me so that I could become me.

Today, it looks like it’s going to rain.

I miss the rain.


(Thank you for reading and liking this post. You may enjoy reading the four interviews I wrote for the women characters of my novel, Behind Picket Fences. The interviews were super fun to write, and I think you’ll find yourself wondering if they are characters from a book or real people. Click here for the interviews.)

The Blessing of Bad Writing

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I’m working on my third novel, and praise God, I’m actually moving along at a reasonable pace. So much so, that I’m not even stressed about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) being less than a week away. I’m already in the groove, already have my daily writing time allotted. I’m actually hoping that if I can maintain this discipline, and continue to make my writing a priority, I may be able to finish this novel before the end of the year.

There is only one problem: it’s complete crap. There are some scenes I’m literally cringing at just how awful they are. My second novel was a vast improvement—in terms of writing— from my first. I see it, and many of my readers do as well. And I love that. Naturally, I’d like this one to be even better. But I wonder if I’ll be able to make that happen. And that doubt makes me hesitate. And when a writer hesitates, she can easily get off track, lose momentum. So what to do?

Stop thinking and keep writing…even if it is crap. It sounds almost counterintuitive, like I should really take a break and reevaluate, but no…any professional writer will tell you, sometimes the crap has to be spilled on the page in order to get to the gems. Fixing the bad writing, taking out the useless scenes, improving the language, all that stuff gets done with subsequent drafts. The first draft is the brain spill draft; write it as it comes to you, no matter how horrible it may seem. Maybe there are two conflicting scenes, and you’re torn between which to choose? Write them both; once more of the story reveals itself to you, you’ll know which one to keep. (And you may even be able to use the other one in a different project.) Can’t think of the perfect word to use? Leave a blank space; it will either come to you later as you write or during your editing.

Really, that’s what NaNo is all about; writing, writing, writing, never stopping to edit. And that’s really why so many people can ‘win’ it. NaNo isn’t about producing a publishable novel; it’s about maintaining the motivation to write daily—through the good and the bad—to get so far ahead, you can’t possibly quit, and to give yourself a first draft that you can then re-write and edit into the next bestseller.

That’s what I keep telling myself anyway. I’ll keep you updated.


For a peek at some of my fiction writing (some of my better stuff; I promise it’s not crap!), please click here and I’ll send you the four interviews I wrote for the women characters of my novel, Behind Picket Fences. The interviews were super fun to write, and I think you’ll find yourself wondering if they truly are characters from a book. Check it out.

Climbing the Writer’s Pyramid


Let me start by telling you my favorite part of Stephen King’s ‘On Writing.’ In the early sections of the book, one of the main things that struck me, was his acknowledgment of his wife’s part in his work. Did you know that if it hadn’t been for her, Carrie probably never would have been written? (And if it had never been written, it never would have become a movie!) His wife literally pulled the crumpled pages of his first draft from the trash, and told him he was onto something. I love that he gives her that credit. Throughout the book, he presents his appreciation and love for her so simply, and yet, so sincerely. He explains that she is his Ideal Reader—when he writes, he writes for her; if he can get the right reaction from her, then he knows he’s got it! Can you imagine what it would be like to have your spouse be your Ideal Reader? Or is that just me being jealous because my husband doesn’t even speak the language I write in, let alone read it? At any rate, I love that King was so forthright with something that he could have easily decided was too personal to be in a book about writing. To me, that says something about his integrity.
Throughout the book, I continued to be astonished by the realization that what I go through as an unknown, emerging author is so similar to what he goes through as a famous, established writer. It makes me feel like part of the club, if you will. It gives me immense hope. Well, it did… until I read about his thoughts on the quality of writers. According to King, writers can be represented in a pyramid chart, where the base are the bad writers, followed by the competent ones, the good, and finally the great are at the apex. He makes a note that the great are only the elite, the ones whose work will continue to be read for generations after their deaths. Then he explains that no amount of practice or learning can turn a bad writer to a competent one. Likewise, no amount of practice or learning can make a good writer great. The only progress possible, he says, is to go from competent to good.

Now, with about 50 novels under his belt, King obviously knows writing. And he knows writers, both through his profession as a writer and through his past profession as an English teacher. Compared to him, I know nothing. I should probably take what he says as truth, and just move on. But I can’t. I disagree that bad and good writers can’t make those jumps to the next levels. Maybe that makes me naïve—or just an idiot—but I do disagree.

I believe that with the right amount of training and practice, a writer can always improve, no matter where she ranks on the pyramid. It’s like anything: the more you practice, the better you become. I mean, I probably would agree that you can’t transform a bad writer into a great one, but besides for that, improvement is always a possibility. It’s like me with golf; I have never played golf, and even my performance during the golf unit we had in high school PE (a million years ago) was an embarrassment. I’m fairly certain that my club never once made contact with the ball, let alone sent it anywhere near a hole. But if I practiced for two hours each day and watched some videos and maybe had a patient teacher mentor me for a while, wouldn’t I get better? I wouldn’t be challenging Tiger Woods to any matches (does he still play?), but I would improve. If I were dedicated enough to put in the time, my performance would certainly improve. So why wouldn’t it be the same for writers?

I’m gonna go ahead and label myself a good writer. And while I realize that it is highly unlikely that I can make it to great, I will continue to try. And I encourage you to do the same, no matter what field your passion is in. Can’t hurt to try.

And if you’d like a sample of my fiction writing (perhaps to make a decision about whether or not I should be calling myself a good writer at all!), please click here to join my email list. You’ll automatically be sent the four interviews I wrote for the women characters of my novel, Behind Picket Fences. The interviews were super fun to write, and I think you’ll find yourself wondering if they truly are characters from a book. Check it out.

More ‘On Writing’


I have now finished reading Stephen King’s ‘On Writing,’ and as happens with any good book I read, I’m sad that it has ended. The subtitle of the book is ‘A Memoir of the Craft,’ but really, it is so much more. He takes us through his writing and publishing journey, but he also gives his readers a look into his personal life, the life which formed him into the writer he is. He tells us about how, when he showed his mother the first story he’d written, her face lit up. Then just as dramatically her face fell when he admitted that he’d only just copied it. She encouraged him to think of his own story, certain that he could write something at least as good. He tells us that he and his wife were barely getting by when his toddler daughter spiked an incredibly high fever; they didn’t have the money for her medicine. Then, his first check for a piece of writing appeared under their doorway. He describes how his writing got him into trouble in high school when he created a satirical newspaper, making fun of a few teachers. Each event was a lesson in life, but it was also a step on his way to becoming the famous writer he is today.

When he discusses the technicalities of writing, King often refers to The Elements of Style, highlighting many of its rules. Avoid adverbs at all costs, for example. The difference with King, however, is that he is more honest about it: he tells you the rule, then a few paragraphs later, he breaks it. He points out his transgression, assuring us that sometimes, you just need that adverb… and that’s okay, too. I have recently read The Elements of Style, and although I feel that some of the rules are a bit outdated, I do think it will prove a valuable reference throughout my writing and editing careers; I recommend it to all writers.

King’s humor is sprinkled all over the book. When he discusses checking spelling and grammar and all that fun stuff, he warns that you should only use dialect if you ‘have a good ear.’ If you don’t have a good ear, “Then fuhgeddaboutit.” I could almost hear him laughing as I read this. He uses the word just a few times throughout, but each time, I laughed out loud.

The best thing King says about writing fiction is something that I’ve never heard articulated before, although I think this is how I feel myself. He says the story you’re writing right now, it actually already exists. It’s already out there somewhere, and your job as the writer, is to excavate it and set it to paper. It is a fossil, he says, and your job is to unearth it as carefully as possible, so that you completely preserve its integrity. Perhaps that’s why sometimes we can see it so clearly, and the words write themselves. I wish he had made any mention of how he felt seeing his stories represented on screen. So many movies just don’t live up to the book (from a reader’s perspective); I wonder if writers feel the same watching the screen versions of their books? Or worse, even, because it is their creation that’s been altered? And if they do feel cheated by the movie versions, how do they cope with it? But he didn’t go into any of that.

Obviously, King discloses so much more of his writing knowledge in the book, but I’ve given you some examples of what you can expect. My next post will be my last on ‘On Writing.’ I’ll tell you how King managed to incorporate love into his memoir about writing, and my biggest qualm with it. Keep your eyes peeled!