Yesterday/today is the beginning of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and reflection, with extra emphasis on family and community for Muslims around the world. It is one of the aspects of Islam that I really appreciate and admire. BBC has some cool resources, if you’re interested.
Like most Americans, I was sadly ignorant about Islam for most of my life. This changed in 1999 when I was hired to research and write a book about Saudi Arabia for very young readers. I set about reading everything I could about Islam and talking to people about life in Saudi Arabia. The people at the Saudi Arabian embassy let me use their library, and I interviewed the wives of several Saudi diplomats to get a clearer picture about life for kids in their country. The editors of my book did a lot of chopping – I was not at all happy with the finished project. But the experience was valuable and enriching for me.
If you’ve never heard of her, I’d like you guys to look into the work of Rukhsana Khan, a gracious and gifted author who has written many books that touch on Islam. Teachers should be sure to visit her website – it has a wealth of info and links to Muslim resources.
One of the best things about America is that we are all free to choose our religion and worship in peace.
Today I have to get ready for this weekend’s conference in Colorado, and try to find my desk. Right now it is hiding under the six inches of paper that accumulated these last couple of weeks I’ve been hammering on my book.
I want to clear up a misunderstanding about my writing process. The draft I finished Monday was Draft #5. In some ways, it could be considered a first draft – it is the first draft that I consider good enough to show to other people, and there are elements that are rather different that the other four drafts. My novels seems to take 7 drafts. I thought for sure I could do this one in fewer, but my character had other ideas. I am still celebrating the fact that I got it done. Fifty tons off the shoulders makes it easier to walk around.
I also want to celebrate hearing from Max, who are corresponded with me a lot. He finally got to watch the SPEAK movie and this is what he wrote:
I just recently purchased the DVD version of Speak from Barnes and Noble. I took it home and watched it that night. I was very surprised. It did have a lot of differences from the book, but they were good differences. I loved this movie, even though it didn’t have the bathroom chatroom. At first, Steve Zahn didn’t seem like a likely person for Mr. Freeman, but he really pulled it off well. And the dramatic scenes were amazing. I also saw the behind-the-scenes. You looked great! I got through about 3/4 of the movie with the commentary on, but then I had to go out and eat dinner. I loved hearing you and the director’s opinions and little facts on everything. It was so awesome. I wrote a journal entry about what I want to be when I grow up for my texas history class (we have journals due every week). I told her I wanted to be a writer and mentioned your book. In her response, she said that she had read your book and that it was amazing. In my next journal entry, I wrote about the movie, and she was very excited. I am letting her borrow it. Thanks for doing such a great job with this book and giving the rights to make the movie.
Thanks, Max!! ( I would love to see what you get to study in Texas history. That sounds fascinating.)