Tag Archives: author

Interview with Medeia Sharif

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It’s time for another author interview. I am super excited to be interviewing Media Sharif. Last year Medeia was the person who commented on my blog the most for the year. She has lifted my spirits on many occasions. Today, it’s time to find out more about this fabulous author.

Hi Medeia, thanks for stopping by Writing Like Crazy.

Thank you for having me, Maribeth. I’ve been following your blog for a long time and was pleased when you asked for an interview.

Let’s start out by asking- When did you know you wanted to become a writer?

I started writing poems and short stories in middle school, so I knew back then what I wanted to do.

You are the author of BESTEST. RAMADAN. EVER. –Can you tell my readers a little bit about the book?

It’s about a girl named Almira who’s observing Ramadan for the first time, but she’s also experiencing a major crush when she’s not allowed to date, plus her best friend is also in love with the boy. She’s figuring out the divide between what she wants and what she’s been taught.

What inspired you to write this book?

I wanted to write about the holiday. At first it was going to be centered on two boys, but then the main character came into my head and I wanted to write about her.

Almira seems like a spit-fire of a character. Is she anything like you?

She’s 16 and my high school self doesn’t resemble her in any way. She’s more sociable, happy, and talkative. I was more into wearing black, reading Sylvia Plath, and writing dark poems.

If Almira could change places with someone for a day, who do you think it would be?

She has a thing for Robert Pattinson, so probably Kristen Stewart.

Can you tell us a little about your road to publication?

I wrote adult manuscripts for many years and after I became a teacher I dabbled in middle grade. Then I wrote BRE, my first YA novel. This all happened in 10+ years, so the road was very long. I have many drawer manuscripts behind me.

What was it like to read reviews of your book?

At first it was an emotional rollercoaster, with the highs of a good review and the lows of a bad review. I’ve put things into perspective because you’ll find people who loved it, liked it, and hated it—that’s normal. Some of the more nitpicky reviews are strange to me, because the elements mentioned weren’t even things I thought about while writing the novel. Sure a novel in many ways is a reflection of the writer, but reviews can be a reflection of the reader.

What are you working on now?

I have several MG and YA manuscripts in various stages of drafts, revisions, edits, recently beta read, etc. Some are very different than BRE. One is horror, one is historical, and one is extremely edgy.

Your blog http://www.medeisharif.com is filled with great content. You post tons of book reviews. How many books do you read in a month?

I try to read at least three books a week, so at least twelve a month.What is your favorite genre?

Contemporary YA.

You do it all. You have a blog, you write novels, you constantly update your Goodreads page, you are on Twitter. Where do you find the time?

When I’m on the internet I have many tabs open and try to update things as fast as I can. Having a smartphone also helps. I’ll check on things while I’m waiting in line and for appointments. Also, I’m careful how I spend my time. I don’t watch much TV. If I do, I’m doing something else, like organizing things or cleaning. I have a weekly to-do list and by Saturday I try to cross off most things on it. I’m also careful about whom I spend time with. I surround myself with positive, productive people, not the light stealers and soul drainers. I’m determined to do exactly what I want and need to do without anyone getting in the way.

How many hours a day do you dedicate to the craft?

I aim for an hour, but many times it doesn’t happen. I end up cramming several hours on weekends. I also look more to my weekly and monthly writing goals. Some goals or projects are easier, while some require more time.

I think many of my readers would be fascinated to know you are also an English teacher. What do you love most about teaching?

I love that writing and teaching complement each other. I find myself teaching and grading essays with a different eye after learning the craft. I also have a stronger appreciation of literature and am more likely to notice the little things since I write and review books and participate in a critique group.

Okay, on to the rapid fire part of the interview. I hope you don’t mind answering a few more questions.

1. Do you have a writing spot? I have a desk, but sometimes I move to the couch.2. What was the first book you remember reading? I think it was about a dog and that’s all I remember.
3. What was the last book you read? Cynthia Voigt’s MISTER MAX #1.
4. Do you journal? Sometimes.
5. Where do you come up with your character names? Baby name websites.
6. Do you have a motto you try and live by? Everything happens for a reason.
7. What is your favorite word and why? Defenestrate, because it’s unique and I like saying it.

Medeia, I had a blast interviewing you. I look forward to watching your career grow. May your journey be filled with love, success, and contentment.

Thank you, Maribeth. Those words warm my heart.

Before leaving will you share with my readers where they can find you around the internet.

Blog – http://www.medeiasharif.com/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/sharifwrites/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sharifwrites
Tumblr – http://sharifwrites.tumblr.com/Instagram – sharifwrites
Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4086531.Medeia_Sharif
Pinterest – http://pinterest.com/sharifwrites/

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Filed under Author Interview, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing

Before They Were

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Every writer dreams of becoming a successful author. I sometimes daydream about being interviewed and asked the question, “What did you do before you became a wildly successful author?”
I thought it would be fun to research what some famous authors did prior to getting their break.
Here’s just a few (In no particular order)

1. J.K. Rowling- was a secretary who daydreamed about a teenage wizard while she was supposed to be working.

2. Suzanne Collins-worked as a writer for the Nickelodeon television shows.

3. Stephen King-was a high school English teacher

4. Mark Twain-was a master riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River

5. E.L.Konigsburg-was a bookkeeper at a meat plant

6. Kate DiCamillo-worked at a book warehouse

7. Ernest Hemingway-was a World War 1 ambulance driver

8. Jodi Piccoult- Edited textbooks and was an eighth grade English teacher

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Filed under books, writer's life, writing, Writing

10 THINGS NOVELIST DREAM ABOUT

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1. Seeing their name in Print

2. Signing their autograph

3. An offer from an agent

4. Selling their book

5. Their book cover

6. Making The New York Times Best Sellers List

7. Great Reviews

8. Writing full time

9. A book store filled with their books

10. Their Next Book

What did I miss?

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Filed under books, dreaming, life, novel, random, story telling, story writing, writer's life, writers

A Divergence Test For Writers (Inspired by the book Outliers)

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Happy New Year! I hope each and every one of you see success and productivity in 2013. May you write many words, imagine great stories and read tons of books.

Currently, I am reading the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s a story about success. I’m very interested in the facts Malcolm shares about the world’s most successful people. There are so many things that contribute to a person becoming successful and to be honest it’s simply fascinating. Yes, hard work is at the center (according to his findings it takes about 10,000 hours to achieve success) but so many other things come into play as well, such as birthdays, geographic locations, opportunities and sometimes being in the right place at the right time.

I stumbled upon a chapter in the book that made me think blog post. The section talks about geniuses and the studies done on groups, scholars thought or claimed to be the most intelligent. A test given to them is called the “Divergence test.”  My interest was piqued when Malcolm explained that this type of test requires you to use your imagination. Perfect for writers, right?

So, let’s do it together (the sample he gave) and see what different types of answers we can come up with. Below you will find two words. The book says write as many different uses you can think of for each item, but for this post I will say five. Don’t read my answers until you come up with yours, then let’s compare. Okay, Ready, Set, Go! Be sure to use your imagination, don’t just write the obvious.

1. Brick
2. Blanket

Look over your answers, can you use any of them for a story you are writing? What do you know, this just became a writing exercise.

Here is what I came up with for Brick.

1. Build a House (my obvious answer)
2. Protection (A brick can do some serious damage)
3. Book Ends (Why not?)
4. Use to jump over when running an obstacle course (Be sure to be careful if doing so)
5. If you have a window that won’t stay up on its own, a brick can be used to help prop it up.
6. To stand on if extra height is needed. (I know I said five but I couldn’t help myself)

7. A planter (Yes, I’ve seen it done on Pinterest)

 

Here is what I came up with for Blanket

1. To cover yourself for warmth (my obvious answer)
2. To use as a roof when making a fort (my children do this all of the time)
3. To cushion something if transporting (if you are traveling, you can wrap a blanket around something fragile)
4. To cover a window (think college students)
5. To spread out on the ground while picnicking or a beach while sunbathing
6. To cover a body (Some of us write crime novels right?)

Okay, how did we compare. Now look over my answers and your answers. Can you use them in your story? Perhaps the eccentric neighbor invites you in for a cup of coffee and you notice she uses painted bricks as book ends. You get the idea. I love being inspired, and this book and the test listed in the book did exactly that. I hope I have inspired you today and would love if you list your answers in the comment section. I’m super curious to know what you come up with.

Happy Writing!

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Filed under Inspirational, Uncategorized, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing

Could You, Would You, Be Anonymous?

Back when I was a young girl in elementary school a teacher read a story to our class. I can’t tell you what the name of the story was or the title, but I never forgot the author. “The author of this story is Anonymous,” she said. “Does anyone know what anonymous means?” she asked as she wrote the word in big letters across the chalkboard.

I sat there trying to properly pronounce the word in my mind, curious of whom this Anonymous person was. It was a peculiar name, one I’d never heard, or could barely pronounce. “Anonymous, means unknown,” she explained.

My heart sunk as I tried to process the explanation. How can’t they know who wrote this? I wondered. I had so many questions that I didn’t ask. Like, how was the story found? Did the person regret not letting the world know their name? Why is their identity a secret?

I still find myself asking those same questions every time I see the author listed as Anonymous. This past summer, I read the book Go Ask Alice. I think the fact that the author was Anonymous had a lot to do with the purchase.
I always wanted to come across one of these anonymous authors and pick their brains. In an industry where most of us collect rejections, it seems impossible that a nameless, faceless author would become published, but yet they do. And what is their process? Do they submit just like us? Does someone stumble upon their work, and then take the time to query work that isn’t even theirs? Who gets paid?

I understand someone may choose to be listed as anonymous if a book they are writing may stir up controversy, but what about a poem or a quote? How do these become known and then published. We as writers list quotes everyday on sites such as Twitter or Facebook. Is it possible that one day we will read a quote listed as Anonymous and know it was ours?
Having said all of that, I also want to make it known I always admired Anonymous writers and often asked myself this question, “Could you be Anonymous? Would you be Anonymous?” I never replied with a straight answer. I’d like to think I could but then I say nah probably not. But, I learned a long time ago never say never. Could you be anonymous? Would you be anonymous?

5 Famous Writings by Anonymous Authors
1. Beowulf
2. Arabian Nights: Tales From One Thousand and One Nights
3. (Quote) Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow
4. Go Ask Alice
5. The Book With No Name

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Filed under Fiction, story telling, writer's life, writing, Writing

If My Book Were A Song

You hear a song for the first time and think, I don’t like this song. You hear it a second time and think, I still don’t like it but I don’t hate it as much as I did the first time I heard it. It plays again and you say to yourself, “Hmm, I’m actually starting to like this song.” By the tenth or so time, you are starting to turn it up. Maybe, you’re even singing the catchy verse that repeats throughout, but still you are not listening to it. Then one day, you stop listening to the music and begin listening to the lyrics and realize the story behind this song is awesome.
Songs have an advantage that books do not. Wouldn’t it be nice, if author’s books got played over and over again until people had no choice but to sit up and listen to the story being told? Yeah, that’s not going to happen which is why it is so important authors engage the reader from the get go. I am currently writing a book that I truly am in love with. I really feel like I have thought outside of the box and created a world that is mine alone. But, if I don’t nail the beginning, I may never get anyone to explore the world that lies deep within the pages. There is no tune that will prelude my words, no beat that will beckon someone’s attention and no melody that will drive the emotion. There are only words, words written by an author wanting to tell a story that someone will remember as good as they remember a favorite song.

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Filed under constructing, novel, story writing, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing, Young Adult

From Gold to Junk

 

My father and mother loved garage sales. Each Saturday morning they would wake up very early, outline the sales in the newspaper and drive around looking for treasures. Their idea of treasures differed. My mother loved to find costume jewelry, purses with tags still on them, kitchen supplies and sealed makeup. My father’s idea of a treasure was a first print edition, a series of books or a signed copy. He hunted for books so he could sell them on ebay. Once, he made a four hundred dollar profit and was ecstatic.

Their love of garage sales rubbed off on me. I liked finding high ticket items for pennies. If my father were alive he would be disappointed in me today. He would ask me “Why didn’t you look inside?” The same question I have been asking myself for the last week.

A year ago, I wondered into the giant flea market at our church bazaar. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular. I, like my mother would go directly to the jewelry, hoping to find a unique piece. I skimmed over the bangles, earrings and plastic necklaces but found nothing. I searched the purses, glanced over home decorations but wasn’t impressed.

I ended my visit to the flea market by rummaging through a mound of books. I wasn’t looking to find a first print or a signed copy. I only wanted something to read. After tucking a few under my arm an author’s name jumped out at me. The Tenth Circle by Jodi Piccoult rested atop the literary mountain. I snatched up the book made my purchase and went on my merry way. When I arrived home, I placed the book on the lower shelf of my bookcase and thought, I will read it soon. I wasn’t expecting to receive the Kindle as a gift which meant for a while the hard covered books nestled on my shelf would take a back seat.

It’s a year later, my Kindle is broke, we got a new puppy (Edgar Allen Pug) and I feel like throwing up.

Edgar has a thing for wood, feet, blankets and books. Last week he pulled The Tenth Circle from the bottom shelf and ripped the cover off. Ugh, I thought looking at the strips of book cover lying on the floor besides my shelf. The next day I found the book lying on the floor again. This time the edges were chewed. Puppies, I thought. I might as well read it, I thought again. I curled up on the couch opened the book and wanted to cry. For a year, I had a mint condition signed book by Jodi Piccoult and I had no idea. What’s worse is I am a writer, I should have thought to look.

Do you think if I wrote to Jodi and said my dog ate your book she’d give me a new one? 🙂

Surely, my father was looking down from somewhere shaking his head saying “Didn’t I teach you anything? The first thing you do when you get a book at a yard sale or flea market is check to see if it is signed.”

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Filed under books, editing, emotions, Giveaway, random, Uncategorized, writer's life, writers, Writing, Young Adult