Thursday, May 2, 2013

My Writer's Voice Entry

Hello readers,

Through the luck of the Rafflecopter draw, I got picked to enter the Writer’s Voice, a multi-blog, multi-agent contest hosted by Cupid of Cupid’s Literary Connection, Krista Van Dolzer of Mother. Write. (Repeat.), Monica B.W. of Love YA, and Brenda Drake of Brenda Drake Writes. (You can read all about it here.) As part of the contest, here are my query + 250!

My Query:

DECIDING HIJAB is a 15,100 worded multicultural, girly YA. 15 year old Yasmeen recently started wearing the headscarf. Along with covering up comes problems. She faces an atheist teacher giving mis-information and getting unwanted attention from a boy.

Some good comes out of this, Yasmeen meets a faithful Christian girl named Jenna and she has a load of questions for her interest in their religion, Islam. They faces many problems, yet that doesn't stop them from being who they are and want to be.

I'm a muslim college student and poet. I have been published in two small Muslim girl magazines and a couple Muslim girl websites. Recently I submitted a poem on Teen Ink and received an 'Editor's Choice' award. I'm also on a Muslim youth magazine editorial board.

Thank you for considering my writing and I hope to hear back soon.

First 250 Words:

I remember as a toddler I always go to the mosque with my mom and sister. It is another Friday, yet we are rushing. My mom didn't get anything to keep me busy or put on my headscarf. At the mosque while everyone is listening, I wander around the room. I like seeing all the women and girls in their scarves. They are colorful.

Getting bored, I go to my sister. I pet my own hair. Then I touch my sister's scarf. She understands what I want, but doesn't have my scarf, so she sends me to my mom. I do what I did to my sister to my mom. She gives me my scarf. I go back to sister to help me put it on. After that I sit down patiently.

We don't stay in the community too long. We always have to move. From state to state, I go to three schools in four years. Finally, in fifth grade my family settled in a small town. I'm Yasmeen and I start seventh grade in a few days. Ramadan is starting, too.

On the first night of Ramadan we have a small iftar at home. The next day my parents invite the community to our house for Iftar. I'm glad I made friends quickly or it would have been more awkward than it actually was. My friend, Noor and I sit in my room talking where every few minutes my brothers and their older friends keep barging into my room.

Love, Fida Islaih
(all writing is mine & copyrighted unless stated otherwise).

32 comments:

Sania Heba said...

I love your premise Fida. It sounds like just the book I'd pick up.
On a more 'critiquey' note, some of the tenses in your sentences don't agree.
Eg: We didn't stay in the community too long. We always have to move.
Shouldn't it be we 'don't' stay?
Well forgive me if I'm wrong because English is my second language. :)

Fida Islaih said...

I'm glad you love it! And you're right about the sentence, thanks for catching that!

Christine Rains said...

Fantastic piece. Good luck with the contest!

Sarah Chafin said...

That's so exciting that your in a contest! Good luck :) I enjoyed the bit you posted.

ali cross said...

Good luck Fida! I think your story would be so well received by the public. There is so much misinformation out there and so much curiosity, too. I'd love to read about an American Muslim girl.

Marieke said...

Good luck Fida! I would love to see more Muslim characters in YA :)

Fida Islaih said...

Thanks so much for the love and good luck!!

Jennie Bailey said...

I love multicultural and this story really tugs at me. I agree with both Ali and Marieke - I would love to read about an American Muslim girl and we do need more Muslim characters in YA! Best of luck to you!

Laura said...

This is one of those stories that I think really needs to be told. Good luck!

Carrie-Anne said...

I really love the premise, and love multicultural books and books about people of different religions. I'm just curious, based on your word count, if this is a novelette? Or was 15,100 a typo?

Fida Islaih said...

It's a novella wanting to be a novel :P But thanks (:

Karen lee Hallam said...

This is a great topic, especially for the age group. With all the confusion about Muslim culture, it would be great to have more perspectives. Best of luck. I would enjoy this story.

Rachel OLaughlin said...

Awesome, Fida! I love that you are writing about something so personal. We all need to see more of your culture in mainstream fiction! I wish you all the luck in the world. :)

Ann Noser said...

This sounds fascinating--I want to read it! Good luck!

Ava Jae said...

What an interesting topic! Best of luck!

Alison Miller said...

Fantastic piece! Good luck with the contest!

Michelle 4 Laughs said...

This looks like a fascinating read. I'd love to see more!

Mari Clark said...

This sounds interesting. Best of luck to you!

Hannah Scott said...

Very cool topic, and we do need more multicultural voices for sure. Good luck to you. :)

Melissa said...

This sounds fascinating!

Mandy said...

Sounds like a great read...and important too! Good Luck!!

Jenn said...

Hey Fida:

This sounds like a book that needs to be written and the larger world needs to see. So I'm already intrigued by the premise. It sounds a bit short at 15k so you could definitely expand on the manuscript itself and more of what this character goes through.

Since the character is going to 7th grade this may be categorized more as Middle Grade than YA.

MG or YA it's a fabulous story and I want to know more about both girls and what they experience and what is expected by them and how they navigate their religious attachments and day to day life.

Good luck and I hope to hear more about this piece!

Fida Islaih said...

Thank you so much for your support and suggestions!! :D

Anne Tedeton said...

I love the concept behind this--two people of different faiths becoming friends, and their journey to understand each other. I think this is pretty vital stuff, and it's NECESSARY, especially in today's world. Yes. Keeping my fingers crossed for you, and regardless of what happens in the contest, please, please, PLEASE keep working on this. I think it really is an important topic, and it could go pretty far AND do a lot of good in the YA market. Thank you for writing this story.

Fida Islaih said...

Thank you so much for your support!! And will keep working on it until it sees publication!

Wendy Parris said...

Fantastic premise. Good luck!

Caitlin Jennings said...

I think this is in interesting and relevant premise, and your background makes you a great person to write this story! That said, 15,000 is really short for a novel. I think you'd need to get this to at least 50,000 for agents to want to take a look. Good luck!! :) (and thanks for commenting on my entry :) )

Annette T Dodd said...

I'm going to have to agree that I think it was probably your low word count that let you down, rather than the concept (which sounds great). (Thanks for commenting on my blog, btw!)

Jamie Krakover said...

Hey popping in for a little critique :)

I think you have a great premise here and a multicultural aspect that you don't often see in books however there are some concerns with length as others have mentioned. At your current word count you are looking at a novella not a full length YA novel. That's fine however if you are looking for a full length book you probably want to be closer to the range of 45,000-60,000 for contemporary style novels with the sweet spot being 50-55k.

I'm not an expert on contemporary, in fact I don't really read it but here's some thoughts on your query that are some more general issues.
You have some vague statements in your query. Lines like "Along with covering up comes problems." Need to be more specific to draw out the story. What kind of problems come with covering up? give us a glimpse of one or two that your MC faces in the story, which you do a good job of giving in the next sentence but I'd link them together. so it reads more like: Along with covering up comes problems like facing an atheist teacher with mis-information and unwanted attention from a boy, Yasmeen struggles with... draw out all her issues.

Here's another example of a line in your query that would work better with more details "They face many problems, yet that doesn't stop them from being who they are and want to be. " What problems do they face. What do they want to be? How do they go about trying to face those problems. Those kinds of details will help draw the reader into your characters and your story.

your 250 has an interesting setting with her mentioning the mosque, however you have some grammar issues in your opening. You also use a lot of short sentences which when strung together make the sample sound choppy. I think a lot of the sentences might be too short for a YA reader. You also tend to start sentences with subject verb, She understands, I do, she gives, I go, varying that up a bit will help your flow.

Keep at it I think you have a good start here with a not often dealt with topic that will be interesting to readers. As with any critique feel free to use what comments of mine work for you and ignore the rest. I wish you luck moving forward with this :)

Fida Islaih said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to critique this, I will most definitely take everything into consideration.

Diana Sousa said...

As some other people have said, the word count is rather low. On the other hand, the concept seems really interesting! I don't think we have enough YA novels about Islam. This needs a bit of work, but I'm sure you can get there :)

Ann Noser said...

I really don't think I can add much to the wonderful advice you've already received. (especially Jamie, Anne, and Jenn) Somewhere in this contest I thought I read you described your book as a "novella wanting to be a novel" and that is EXACTLY what I think you should do! It's a great way to discuss timely, important matters. I wish you much luck.

I think joining a critique group could help you edit/modify any sentance structure issues on a chapter by chapter basis.