Sirin's son has been kidnapped by the djinn, and she will stop at nothing to find him and bring him home, even if that means marching into the realm of the Unseen on what everyone insists is a hopeless mission. He's gone, she is told. Grieve him, for he is as good as dead. If he is returned to you, he will not be the same child you knew.
But he isn't dead, and Sirin refuses to wait around for an if. She doesn't care that no one has ever returned from such a venture. She's going to save her son, or die trying.
Enter Halah; the only person taken by the djinn who claims to have escaped them, rather than been returned. Only she knows the paths into the Unseen realm and the ways through the kingdom of the djinn, and when Sirin pleads for her help, she agrees.
She can't abandon a child, even one she doesn't know. Even if it does mean returning to the last place in all the realms she ever wants to see again...
Sirin | a desperate, determined mother, chief of her tribe after her husband's untimely death.
Qusaiy | Sirin's son, a six year old boy, renowned for his beautiful voice and excellent memory.
Raoul | Cousin to Sirin's husband and her childhood friend, secretly in love with her, utterly devoted to her.
Halah | escapee from the djinn, living as an outcast at the edge of a village with her best friend and a sootdragon for company.
Ilyas | Raoul's best friend and a fierce warrior of Sirin's tribe, Nilam's twin brother, and a former slave.
Nilam | A Ranger, Halah's best and only friend, Ilyas' twin sister, and a former slave.
Topsy-Turvy & Upside Down
Well, I'm back after another long absence. Raise your hand if you're surprised. No hands in the air? Yeah, I didn't expect there to be. You know the drill: I had a crisis, shut everything down, ran away until I felt better, and came back, shamefaced but determined not to pull the same stunt again.
Anyway, you're not here for my personal woes, you're here for writing! Presumably. I don't know if anyone's still around, actually, but if I shout into the void, perhaps the void will shout back a welcome.
So. You may be wondering what's with this post's title. Well, it references both my recent mental state and also the states of two of my wips: Chronicles of Mourra and Wonderland.
Guess what! The plans I had for both? Shattered. On purpose. I picked up both wips, threw them at a metaphorical wall (aka my debilitating writer's block), shuffled through the pieces, picked up the shiniest, prettiest fragments, got a new frame and some glue, and made two different mosaics.
This extended metaphor is getting away from me, so let me speak plainly. Neither of these wips were working for me, so I took what I liked best of them and made something new. Wow, that sounds way easier than it actually was. In reality this took me literal months and serious angst to do.
Let's jump right into it, shall we?
Writing Updates! P.1
Hello hello! I've been writing and plotting for Chronicles of Mourra, Rivener 2.0, and the Glitch wip, and it has been going incredibly well, due in huge part to my writing buddies! (You know who you are, and I adore y'all).
I've been meaning to let you guys know how and what I've been doing, and I have SO MUCH to share! Which is why this is only part one of the updates!!!! We shall start with...
Chronicles of Mourra
Photo by Darran Shen on Unsplash
Since very nearly the beginning of this iteration of CofM (which, if you've been following me for a while, you'll know is one I've been working on for about ten years, though this latest version is about two years old) I've been wanting to incorporate a prophecy into the plot. The question was how. CofM is, at its heart, my exploration of the Chosen One trope, and what's a Chosen One trope without a prophecy? (See: King Arthur, Harry Potter, Heroes of Olympus, the Lord of the Rings, Narnia etc).
Anyway, so I managed to write about 40k without said prophecy actually being developed or incorporated in any way, and it was like a rock in my shoe, very irritating but ignorable with some effort. But finally I sat down (literally, by my local creek), opened my computer, and tackled it. About twenty minutes and 700 words later, I had...something. A good something!
A few days later, after talking it out with my friend Hyba, I ended up creating loads of backstory, character development, and a complexity to the overall plot that I'd been missing until then, and I am so excited. Here's a quick breakdown of what I've developed, somewhat spoiler free!
Given all this behind-the-scenes tinkering, the 40k I'd already written needed some adjustments to reflect these changes or plant the seeds of future events! It took me about a week and a half of on-and-off-again writing (twice in a little virtual session with Hyba), but I managed to get what I'd written to a place I'm very pleased with! Here's an excerpt, a little descriptive piece I'm really fond of:
To Halah, it reminded her of the rare expeditions of her youth, when she’d accompany her grandfather to the mountains, where he would retreat to his dwelling there for quiet contemplation (though it was not very quiet with his granddaughter chattering to him and demanding he tell her stories).
I hope you enjoyed this! Let me know any thoughts you have, or any questions! I love to talk about my stories so I will probably answer any questions you have, although I may skirt around spoilers. Anywho, I hope you're doing well! Do let me know.
Happy reading and writing!
Also referred to as ‘the Chronicles of Mourra’, or else simply as ‘the Annals’, these are a written collection of Mourra’s history since shortly after its founding as a kingdom nearly eight hundred years ago. They are compiled by a select number of scribes, each the best of former apprentices of previous scribes, flowing in an unbroken chain all the way to Lady Iklimah, the First Scribe of Mourra.
They are written out using a special and secretly formulated ink, rumoured to contain charcoal from the fire of an anqa bird’s immolation, and handam pens constructed from the most expensive wood in the world, oud from the Khadra Woods.
The Annals document the births and deaths of Mourra’s rulers and royal family, notable weddings, major wars, minor battles, alliances made or broken, famines or plagues endured, and other major events of the year. Every Ruling King or Queen of Mourra is permitted to write personal entries to accompany the Annals, and these are compiled in a smaller document titled the Ruling Memoirs.
The Annals, Memoirs, and relevant documents are preserved and maintained on a special floor of the Great Library of Qarun, Mourra’s capital. They are always under guard, so as to protect and be preserved against damage, willful or accidental.
The Annals stand as a testament to time, and it is considered one of the greatest crimes to damage or defile them. The only exception to this is in the case of disownment and exile of a member of the royal family, when their name—as well as any images or mentions therein—are struck from the Annals.
In such instances, any mention of their given names becomes forbidden to every citizen in Mourra.
— this was previously posted on my now defunct tumblr. i hope to continue this a to z aesthetics meme one day!
So I was flipping through my bullet journal yesterday, looking at the very beginning where I wrote all my optimistic goals for 2020 (hah!) and how many I just uh...didn't achieve. (HA!) And one of those goals, listed right at the top, was to try and write 50,000 words of CofM before 2021. To finally make proper headway with my novel, instead of just thinking about it for oh, I don't know, another ten years (😭).
And I was looking at that goal and the way I couldn't cross it out because while I had written (what is to me a very impressive) 20k, 50k seemed such a long way away considering I...hadn't written anything other than fan fiction in about a month.
I just. Got stuck. Got in my own way, stressing about hypotheticals and plot plans rather than just opening the doc and writing a crappy version of it all, so that at least the words existed on paper, ready for me to improve. But something happened last night.
I was talking to my wonderful friend Hyba (who has a novel coming out this January!) and she really got me so excited and rejuvenated about CofM by both listening and exploring possibilities with me. So I sat down, and despite all my own fear and self-imposed pressure, I opened my google doc, and started reading the last chapter I had written.
As one does, I edited a little bit here and there, noticed certain holes and patched them. (At one point, a character takes her shoes off to climb a wall and never puts them back on, which is a problem because then she runs through the city). Then I got to the heading Chapter Eight, and all the blank space underneath.
And immediately I started feeling antsy and bored, a stress response if ever there was one. I had to stop myself several times from opening Youtube, TikTok, Instagram, and my mobile games. I had to stop myself from getting out of my chair and spur-of-the-moment reorganizing all my drawers. I had to resist the urge to procrastinate with all my might.
But I managed to power through all my uncertainty and fear of failure, teeth literally gritted, just to write the first line, which had been bouncing around in my head all day, fully formed. ...And then I wrote a little bit more. And a little more. I recalled the way I had phrased something in an earlier draft, went to find it, and found a whole section that could fit into this chapter with some tweaking and adaptation. (This is why I try to not delete anything).
And then it felt like I blinked, and looked up, and it was 3am, and I had written 20,000 more words! Putting me at 40,000 words total. Meaning I'm only 10,000 words away from achieving my goal, with thirteen days until the end of December! AAAHHHHHHH!!!!
Which is to say, guys. I might actually do it! I might be able to write 50,000 words of CofM before 2021!!! I can't believe it, I have never written this much for CofM before! I honestly doubted if I ever would! And yet! Here I am!!!
You might be wondering why I'm celebrating now and not when I hit 50k. The answer is twofold. 1) I'm literally too excited to keep this to myself. 2) I am still worried I won't hit 50k, and I'd rather celebrate 40k than beat myself up about it. Anyway, enough about me! Have an excerpt from the latest chapter, featuring Halah, my main character, and my darling Ilyas.
❝ Eventually, Ilyas ventured to make conversation with her, though he began rather abruptly. “Did you have another dream?”
Happy reading and writing!
Photo by Mari Potter on Unsplash
You may or may not know that I'm writing a Muslim-themed fantasy epic temporarily titled The Chronicles of Mourra (or CofM for short). I've been working on it off-and-on for about a decade now, which means I've been doing research for it for the same amount of time. I'm quite blessed in that I grew up surrounded by easy access to an excellent Islamic education (any and all ignorance is a reflection of me entirely lol).
My parents especially instilled in me a love of my history, traditions, and religion. Both my parents are educators and storytellers, in different ways, so that I haven't really needed 'outside' research to create the world of CofM (as it stands now). I base a lot of it on my lived experience!
Still, when someone on Facebook asked me if I was able to do my research easily, and lamented struggling to find resources on notable women in Islam, especially in positions of power and leadership, I went on a researching binge and compiled a very non-exhaustive list of resources on magnificent Muslim women.
This is more a jumping off point so you can have a direction when researching online (there's a lot of books out there too!) I focused mostly on medieval women, as there's a wealth of easily accessible information out there on all the incredible female companions and contemporaries from the Prophet's (ﷺ) time. (Although, if y'all want a list of them, do let me know and I'll make a part 2 to this!)
1) Via Ballandalus, a truly excellent online resource on Islamic history:
2) Extraordinary Women from the Golden Age of Muslim Civilisation via 1001inventions
3) Women’s Contribution to Classical Islamic Civilisation: Science, Medicine and Politics via MuslimHeritage
All these links include references that should lead you to more information! I did my best to make sure they're all credible too. Some standout favourite women I want to learn more about include:
Do you know of notable Muslim women of history that are absent from this list? I would particularly like to find more women from outside the Arab world! Comment below and let me know!
Until next time, happy reading!
on writing it out...
So I’ve written a lot of words for Chronicles of Mourra, and felt largely unsatisfied with most of them (just a fact I’ve mostly accepted lol). the current version of draft #1 (all the other version being incomplete) has about 7.8k words and…..I am probably going to scrap all of it once this draft is complete.
Why? Because i don’t think (at this moment, anyway) that any of it needs to be told. But! I need to write it out.
All these words are, currently, backstory and relationship development and largely just me getting familiar with these characters (which, yes, I know I made them myself but that doesn’t mean I know them) (#justwriterproblems). The actual like, inciting incident is probably gonna happen around the 15k mark (maybe even 20k).
And I don’t mind! I mean, I mind a little, but this is actually helpful to me! iIf I know these characters and their backstory at the level of detail I’m currently at, then the beginning I create for the reader (aka in draft #2) is actually going to be coherent and hook this hypothetical reader even though they won’t know everything (yet). Instead, the character relationships and how the inciting incident even came about will be revealed in fun little tidbits.
That’s the plan anyway. Who even knows how this will turn out.
— written Monday, 8 June 2020
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Featuring prompt fills, excerpts from my wips, posts about my writing process, and more.