Sunday, July 27, 2014

Failing Well

Dear reader, I hope the world has treated you kindly, most often it does not. A careless mistake here a blind eye there could cost you. Eternal vigil seems to be the only recourse. But are mere mortals capable of such a feet? I think not. Is it fair to place all of the worlds burden, squarely on one set of shoulders? Atlas we are not.

At times you may feel overwhelmed. Your responsibilities far exceeding your capabilities. Crushing you under their weight. Desperations takes hold and you panic. Where do you turn for solace the bottle? Lighter? Sex or faith? The answer really doesn't matter. As long as you release. Reset and begin a new. Only this time fail hard.

Think of failing hard as the act of failing forward. It is to move from one failure to the next. However the twist is that you move from one point to the other with the same enthusiasm. The idea is to learn from each mistake and fail better next time. That is you figure out what doesn't work and eliminate those unproductive tasks.

For example when you were learning to ride a bike. How many times did you fall? Maybe too many times and you decided to add training wheels. Once your leg muscles got a hang of it you could pedal and remain balanced without any thought.

Same holds true for just about anything else. Nothing comes without practice. Including writing. It takes hard work and dedication. I have learned from those that have gone before me. And I can only teach you what I have done. And I have pieced together 42,000 words into a coherent story. Not remarkable in the scheme of things. But it is a start.

I now challenge myself to do better than the 42K mark. Not just quantity wise, but quality wise as well. I am constantly trying to improve my writing technique. To do that I apply success principles, that have stood the test of time.

I picked up these principles during my stint as a distributor. If I were to distill the wisdom found during that time I would say the key is to compete with yourself. No need to worry about what others are doing. Focus on you. Only you can be you there is no other. In a sense there is no competition in being you. That's something you own. No one can take that from you.

This also confirms the Islamic tradition of risc. Loosely translated risc can be thought of as sustenance or wealth. Your sustenance has been foretold it has been written. Its just a matter of receiving it. No power on earth can keep it from you. This is a comforting notion. You are now free to focus only on you. You don't have to worry about the other guy who is competing with you. Just focus on your performance. If you feel intimidated that you lack "experience". Just realize that experienced people have the ability to last longer and when the time comes, they know how to fail well.

Think of some people who have accomplished mega goals. They reached celebrity status for the goals they achieved. Barak Obama winning the presidential race. Michael Phelps winning gold at the olympics. All of these are substantial accomplishments. But do you think they happened overnight?

I doubt anyone could hold their own if you throw them into a presidential debate. Not unless you give them a chance to digest the nuances of oral debate. This can only be accomplished bit by bit. They would need to start off on a smaller stage, in a secure setting. Perhaps at a school. Where they could be coached. They could even decide if they enjoy going through the rigor of improving on past performance. If they do than they are worthy of the task at hand.

Once they know they have what it takes, they must remain focused. Shooting off your mouth lamenting to all how one day you will be king does not help. Engaging yourself this way attracts criticism. You do not have the time to bother with critics. Focus on your regiment, study your craft, counsel with mentors, be immersed in your art. You are bound to beat your benchmark.

As you take action, you will make mistakes. Do not be discouraged. Transmute those "mistakes" into lessons learned. Think of it as play, this is how children learn about the world they live in, something adults have forgotten. The only way we learn about our craft is if we allow ourselves to play. Don't worry about style, again don't compare yourself to masters of the field. It isn't fair to your success. Explore with no prior notions. Discover how things work on your own. This will serve to cement the concepts in your mind like no other way.

So how does a writer get better? Where do people holding down day jobs go for mentorship? Well one way is through social media. I explain how this can work, in a previous article. Basically if you follow writers on twitter, they promote their next event and will let you know.

But these events can get expensive and the authors have lives of their own and may not always be available. One way I found to solve this problem was video tutorials. Authors, who are willing to share their technique via video, provide a much needed service. Among these is Stephen J Cannell. The creative mind behind such hit TV series as A-Team and Renegade. In one of his videos he mentions how he writes everyday, for hours on end. He doesn't need to write anymore he already made a nice sum doing it. But he wants to keep his edge.

So what does that tell us? We must also do the same to sharpen our skills. This was reiterated in a web series conducted by a Florida State University professor. Watching the web series is very informative. It was great getting into the mind of an accomplished author as he made his way through a short story. The tips and techniques I picked up from their helped me with my current short story. Also be sure to check out Brandon Sanderson's write about dragons. He also follows a similar format and should prove useful as well.

I must admit is not easy taking their advice. Its hard enough to find time during your day for basic needs like eating and sleeping. Now they want us to write every day. The thing you have to ask yourself is, how badly do you want it? Are you committed enough to your dreams to do what needs to be done? If the answer is yes you will most assuredly find a way. In talking to fellow writers I found that they write during their commutes, during lunch breaks or early in the morning. The point is you will need to figure out what works for you.

I was fortunate enough to meet with G. Willow Wilson,  in the aforementioned seminar. She introduced us to the hero's journey, during our time together. Me and some other students asked her where we could learn more. She referred us to Campbel. Which was an absolute godsend. Researching and applying the heros journey to my main character, raza has solved a lot of problems. But I must admit some parts are still fuzzy. That's why I am glad to have learned about Star Wars The Legacy vid. It takes a look at the hero's journey from the perspective of Star Wars. Screening the documentary helped me too answer some questions I had on this topic.

I find it fitting that you can learn to write stories by reading stories. Just by going through your favorite author's books you will undoubtedly pick up on their style, how they structure their scenes, their use of dialogue, plot twists. Now imagine doing the same with a world renowned author leading the way. That is the premise behind Robert K. Silverberg's book, Science Fiction: 101: Exploring the Craft of Science Fiction. I immediately picked up this book, for me it was right on the money. The lessons taught here will surely serve as a handy how to guide of do's and don'ts when it comes to writing speculative fiction. And the chance to read some classic SF is its own treat!

Another idea I have for providing a better reading experience, is beta readers. I want to know what works and what doesn't. I've put up a request here (see row 9) in case anyone is interested. I feel seeking this feedback will help with my next work. The aim is always to get better.

Hope these success principles help you reach your goals! Good luck with any writing projects you may be taking on. Remember to focus on the present, as the frightening future flinches first. And above all else, fail well dear reader...fail well.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Olive Tree

The olive tree is considered a blessed tree by all three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Adherents of these religions have traditionally used its wood to make prayer beads, and there are numerous references to the olive in their sacred texts. In the Torah, in the book of Deuteronomy, the Prophet Moses e describes Palestine as a “good land, a land of olives.” The Book of Genesis says that, after the Flood, a dove brought an olive branch to the Prophet Noah e as a sign that land was near. According to the Psalms, a man’s children are like “the slips of olive trees.” The Prophet Jesus e also made references to the olive tree. The Qur’an says:

God is the light of the heavens and the earth. The likeness of divine light is as of a niche with a lamp inside; the lamp is in a glass; the glass is as if a shining star, lit from a blessed olive tree, neither of the East nor of the West, its oil nearly luminous even without fire touching it. Light upon light: God guides whomever God will to divine light; and God gives people examples. And God is 
cognizant of everything. (24:35)
God swears an oath by the olive, saying, “By the fig and the olive, and Mount Sinai, and this secure city, We have made man in the finest order” (Qur’an 95:1-4). The Prophet Muhammad s said, “Anoint yourselves with olive oil because it comes from a blessed tree.” In his book on the qualities of the Prophet s , Imam al-TirmidhÄ« mentions that it was reported that the Prophet s used so much olive oil that his shawl was often saturated with it.
read full text here


It's with great pleasure that I announce the commencement ceremony for the first ever Islamically oriented liberal arts college in the US. Zaytuna college has been making strides in producing independent Islamic thinkers. This is a momentous occasion for the American Muslim Community and the greater muslim community, aka the Ummah. We are maturing as a people, producing proteges that can represent our thoughts in different arenas. An invaluable service to a populous gripped in turmoil. But don't take my word for it, hear from the students themselves...

 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Icna-Mas Convention

So I hope you enjoyed your memorial day weekend. It's always nice to have time to relax and enjoy the company of your loved ones, any excuse will do! A lot of people head out to enjoy the weather. MW and I did the same. But not to the usual summertime haunts...

Every year around this time ICNA and MAS team up to bring the American Muslim community an annual convention. Its a chance for an otherwise isolated community to come together in a true spirit of unity. Of course that is too easy to say. The reality is that there is substantial discord between the various tribes of Islam. These differences usually center around xenophobia, nationalism and greed. But this is a forum where rubber meets the road. ICNA is a predominantly South asian organization, that is the members and executive committee tend to hail from that region. While MAS is predominantly middle eastern. It goes without saying that these two groups are culturally different. However if we can get along in this microcosm perhaps there is hope in larger arenas.

But enough of the deep stuff. It's also an excuse to have some fun. I took some pics as proof of my attendance. Enjoy!

The Bazar is in full swing!
The kiddie area is hopping!
Scholars are at hand to enlighten the masses
Get you chuska on!
The main session floor where we ended the con with an entertainment session


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Audio Adventures

So if you read last month's post. You would have read about my recap of Comicon 2013. And how I stumbled across Graphic Audio and their fantastic graphic audio books. If you read my smashword interview you will also come to know that this was not my first foray into the world of audio books. Through a nifty voice feature of my Nook's EZ PDF reader I was able to get through my store of pdfs in half the time.

I came to appreciate the rich images that were being painted In my mind when the author's words were spoken. I found this most helpful during my commute. A normal slog through traffic became a fantastical escape into another world. I found myself much more positive minded when I got into work (which can only help your performance). At any rate it beat listening to the radio with its mindless music and biased news commentary.

One drawback however was that I soon grew weary of the flat computer voice, that was being produced by the app. It served its purpose well enough but due to an emotionless delivery I found myself tuning out. Key parts of the story were lost to me, which hampered the experience. I knew I could get better results if only I got audiobooks read by a professional narrator. But with the average cost of about $20 I had to think twice. 

Then came along Graphic Audio (I sing their virtues in the previous post). They were doing a special at the convention and I was able to snag two download codes at a special rate. That got me thinking as to how I could beat the cost curve. How could I get my audio books yet not break the bank? Lucky for me my neighborhood sports a great public library. By virtue of being a resident I was eligible for a library card. I am tempted to make cliche statements about a getting a passport to the world of books, but we'll leave that to Levar Burton. I soon began borrowing CDs and virtually through their online collection. All in all I went through quite a few. So much so I wanted to share my adventure with you fair reader. Here's a rundown...

I have made podcasts part of my audio library. I enjoy hearing from prominent writers, it gives me a chance to learn from them and emulate their techniques. And if the writer happens to write sci-fi, military sci-fi to be precise, all the better. I can get my podcast fix from SF Signal. I raided their website and downloaded as many relevant audio files as possible. I always read to relate. I want something that matches with what I am going through. It gives me solace. The recommendations given in these podcasts must match this formula. For me and as for many others, heading out each day to earn a living is a struggle. My religion goes as far as calling it a holy struggle. Military sci-fi are stories that blatantly portray struggle. It requires fortitude and discipline on part of the protagonist to make it through.

I Give it 4 SadiStars
I was delighted to hear one of the authors recommending John Steakley's Armor. The description he gave suited my literary palette just fine. Plus with a gift card from barnes and noble in hand I took the plunge. I am glad I did. The story of Phelix really struck me. Akin to Starship Troopers he too is dropped into a hot zone full of bugs. In this case its only his schizophrenia that keeps him alive. "Erupt damn you!" And the engine takes over. That cold calculating part of him that kills with abject efficiency. Hordes of monster ants wipes out his entire team. But he, the lone survivor fights on. He beats the odds as he is repeatedly dropped and lives. Even hardened criminals are reduced to whimpering children when they experience his exploits. A lot of times at my job I feel overwhelmed. My inner child beckons me to make it stop. But I know I must soldier on. One task after another. You could be completely drained but the job is not done What do you do then? Like Phelix you get in the zone and give them hell! I highly recommend this if you are looking for a good read (listen?). Oh, and the plot twist at the end is worth the wait.

Dave...Dave...You get 4 Sadi Stars
I was able to get my hands on the acclaimed 2001: A space odyssey, by none other than Arthur C. Clarke. My first taste of his writing came from an anthology of his short stories. I really liked his writing style, he always seemed to have a dramatic plot twist in the last few lines of his short stories. So I was eager to see how he fared in a full length feature. I am glad to say that I was delighted. Right from the start the story grips you. The setting is pre-historic times and the focus is on a primitive tribe of man apes. Barely surviving in their caves they have meager defenses against ruthless predators. It isn't until the unlikely arrival of a black monolith that the tide turns. Their minds scanned and enhanced, they soon devise crude weapons to defend themselves. Human nature soon takes root and they begin to assert their authority on a rival tribe. With a severed cougar head, mounted on a spike. Most of the opposing foe correctly deduced that man apes now had superior arms, by which to attack.

The story jumps to the future, where humans are now exploring space. With a well established presence on the moon, they soon discover another monolith. What will these unearthly object teach humanity now? Notice how I make scarce reference to the widely publicized Hal 9000. For me 2001 wasn't just about a ship's AI going haywire. It was more about the spirit of discovery and reaching man's potential.

Egads man just 2 for you!
I am a fan of Dan Brown, especially of his Robert Langdon books. The Davinci Code, Angels and demons, The Lost Symbol, they're all good. I like how Professor Langdon must save the day by solving one cryptic puzzle after another. He must rely on his knowledge of antiquity to do so. Along the way the reader is enriched with new found wisdom. But without a doubt you read to be entertained, which these books always deliver, why else would they be turned into major hollywood productions? That's why I snapped up Inferno. I was delighted to meet the professor once more. His omnipresent tweed jacket and New England sensibilities on full display. He was already entrapped in another international power struggle, with a beautiful female ally at his side. The reader was taken from one exotic location to the next, classic Dan Brown. I was having a grand old time. When something peculiar began cropping up.

The references being made to various artwork were becoming more and more detailed. I mean it was fascinating for sure but was getting in the way of the story. It began to read like a well researched dissertation. One footnote after another. In previous stories this was done subtly. With just the right amount of action and scholarly prowess. A formula that worked well. But sadly it wasn't the case in this scenario. I had to bail at the 2/3rd mark. I honestly stopped caring about the characters and their struggle. And abandoned the story completely.

Three All Stars 3 Sadi Stars!
Lucky for me my next selection wasn't a total dud. I always enjoyed classic SF. Jules Vernes and H.G. Wells are prominent artist from this genre. It's fascinating to see how authors from centuries ago wrote about fictional contraptions that we possess today yet take for granted. Mr. Wells has had success with a previous audio rendition of his story War of the Worlds. We are all familiar with how listeners were duped into believing that an actual alien invasion had occurred when WOW was first broadcasted via radio. In that same tradition this adaptation of the classic tale takes on a news commentary format. With an all star cast of Star Trek fame this sound bite is an easy sell.

However if you are keeping track of the sadi star ratings you'll note a medium grade 3. I would have loved to given it a higher rating but I was put off by its goofiness. When the pods had landed and began attacking this was a deciding moment. Earth had finally realized that it had been invaded by a hostile force. I hate to admit it but the Tom Cruise movie adaptation did a better job of imparting the gravity of the situation. The redeeming moment of the audio play was Nimoy's stoic performance. He plays a professor whose life has been devastated everything he holds dear is gone. Now living a nomadic life on the fringes of devastated towns and cities he painfully recalls a past life that seems to be only a hallucination. With giving away too much it all ends well. You will just have to give it a listen to find out how.

I didn't get this one that's all I have to say about this one. If you did please beg to differ in the comments. 
What? **

Obi God! *****
John Jackson Miller Has been making waves with his Star Wars books. I first found about his work through his lost tribe stories. I was able to get each part of this story for free (doesn't look like they still do this). I recanted the tale to friends, who loved hearing about the exploits of a lone jedi knight on a planet full of sith! That's why I was eagerly awaiting his next book, aptly named, Kenobi. The publisher even had a booth setup at the aforementioned Comicon, furthering the anticipation. Not quick to fall for marketing ploys I decided to download a free sample, something I always do when considering purchasing a book. In my opinion this is just another advantage of ebooks. Retailers usually have these available for their ereaders, especially amazon and b&n. So with sample in hand I read the first few chapters of Kenobi. Amazingly it just didn't jive with me. I guess I was expecting something spectacular like lost tribe. Don't get me wrong the premise is fairly fascinating. The story focuses on the 20 year gap between episodes III and IV and how Obi Wan stood guard over the young Luke Skywalker. Its a must read for fans of the sage character, a chance to meld with his inner workings. That's why I was willing to give it a go once more when I noticed the audio book version at the library.

I must say this production will give Graphic Audio a run for its money. They too added sound effects to enhance the narration. Maybe not as bold as GA but enjoyable none the less. I liked how they introduced radio chatter when the manuscript called for communication via com link. Oh and the Obi's light saber sounds fantastic. Come for the bells and whistle but stay for the story, that's what I say. Miller delivers a compelling story, with well thought out characters. He takes a closer look at the Tuscan Raiders. They are not one dimensional and mindless as we think. We are shown how Tuscan society operates, where honor and courage are valued. They even have their own belief system which has served them for generations. Yet the author doesn't get too heavy and let's you have fun and have a swashbuckling adventure, all the things we have come to love from the Star Wars franchise.

State of Despair **
So my next selection draws parallel with the previous. Here to a reading sample from well loved author drew dismal results. I am talking about Michael Crichton's State of fear. I actually tried this out a long time ago. But didn't like it. He didn't stick to his usual formula of white knuckle suspense mixed with cutting edge sci fi (ala Prey). But again I was willing to give it a go when it became available on my library's virtual bookshelf. This time the audio version was equally disappointing. Again I didn't care for the characters. The story was slow and lethargic and wasn't spectacular in its scope (like in Congo or Jurassic Park). I believe this being written late in his career had something to do with it. But again this is Crichton's work and you may beg to differ.

Now hear this...3 Sadi Stars
Another author whose name carries weight is Philip K. Dick. He's known for such marvels as Total Recall and Through a Scanner Darkly. I picked up another one of his titles, The Penultimate Truth. Its a fairly intriguing story with interesting characters the villain is really despicable you'll love to hate him. But slow at times. Its about a future earth where nuclear annihilation has driven the world's population underground. To escape radiation. However a few brave souls venture to the surface only to discover a startling secret.

This next title is from Graphic Audio, as of yet I haven't downloaded a full title even though I have vouchers with download codes on standby. I guess I haven't found the right serie to invest in. Although Kevin J Anderson's (yes of Dune fame) Enemies & Allies is looking real good. Based on their free samples I am leaning towards the Nuclear Bombshell series. The dialogue isn't as graphic or vulgar as some of their other titles. And the storyline is crisp and fast paced. I like how they combined the sensibilities of a classic spy story with the punch of a sci fi thriller. Yet they keep things light and humorous, an eclectic mix.

It be da' bomb ****

So what do you think dear reader? Do you agree with my ratings? Are you dazzled by my insightful analyst or dumbfounded by my willful ignorance? Let me know in the comments! DISCLAIMER: All copyrighted material are property of their respective owners.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

RECAP: NYC Comicon 2013

So I know this is a bit late (that's okay, its my blog and I can do whatever the hell I want) but I attended last year's comicon. It was at the Javitz center in NYC. It being my first comic convention I wasn't too sure what to expect. I had heard a lot about it and always wanted to check it out, even despite cooky tales of cosplayers freaking people out.

So I finally worked up the courage to take the plunge. Once decided the first step was to exchange monetary funds for written permission to enter premises. I chose to conduct this exchange electronically, the preferred medium of 21st century citizenry. True to their word, my pass arrived in the mail weeks in advance which really got me excited. There wasn't one for MW, the con was too freaky for her taste. But I had her blessings which counts a lot when you are a desi geek raising a family, while holding down a job where you are suppose to come off as a responsible adult (what's that? No, I don't have issues).

As usual I took the train into Manhattan as soon as I got off, I was swarmed by cosplayers. I found myself ogling some pretty racy costumes, hawkgirl in particular. I had to battle my nafs and focus my eyeballs on something else, spiderman didn't help. But at least I didn't have to whip out my GPS, I just followed the freaks.

At the convention gate they had a checkpoint. You had to get your weapons marked as genuine fakes otherwise they wouldn't let them in. I had dressed up as myself and didn't have any knives, swords, battle axes to speak of, so I was ushered in with no worries. I flowed into the convention center as part of an eager crowd. Entering the main show floor was pretty wild. My senses were instantly assaulted with a dazzling display. The Javitz is a functional yet spectacular structure, my gaze couldn't help going up to the glass ceiling.


I took this pic myself. It came out pretty good, using only my Sony. It looks really good I keep it as a wallpaper on my personal laptop. Serves as a memento of a fun filled day. Cuz what was housed in that glass ceiling was Equally amazing

Bad Robot, the logo for JJ Abrams' Studio
Bumblebee, with anonymous Asian kid
Venom with purple haired girl
I was ecstatic to see that a fellow brother was on the docket. I am speaking of none other than Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad, another shining sadi star. But unfortunately he wasn't there on the day I attended. At any rate it was great to see one of us at such a prestigious event. Shining light on an important topic such as diversity in geekdom.


The organizers had done a bang up job of getting convention goers in front of attractions they were interested in seeing. Of particular note was their app. Although I had trouble with it on my HTC with an ancient version of the droid OS, the matter was magically resolved once I submitted a bug report to the developers. After that I was able to access the app's cool features. The most useful being the show floor. Weeks before the convention I was pouring over the layout figuring which booths and stalls I had to see. The best part was that you could plan out your day. The convention events and panels are divided by interest. I ate up as many writing and publishing events as I could. I still have the app installed and mess around with it every now and then. Which is a good idea as they let you know when the next one is!

One survival tip that I will give you fair reader is to get to your event ahead of time. Don't underestimate the sheer number of geeks you will encounter. The rooms fill up pretty quickly and as seating is first come first serve basis, they will reluctantly close the door on you. I missed out on a few panels due to this. Lucky for me I wised up and was able to catch a few choice ones.

A panel discussing the upcoming Star Wars movies

So when not attending panels I was busy checking out the show floor. After all where else are you going to find celebrities like these:

New and Old Ghostbusters!

But I only got a glance, I had a shopping list to get through. Seeing that the show floor was divided into aisles. I decided in order to get to each stall I will snake my way through each aisle. I started off on the far end and wound my way over. I must admit I wasn't too interested in the comics. I still haven't gotten through all my Star Trek Comics. I blurred past those stalls. I was more interested in immersing myself in fandom. I wanted to be reminded of fantastical worlds as I went about my business. One way to do that was to get another geeky decal for my car. I already have a Starfleet academy license frame and was hankering for more. Something for the back window would be nice. My mind's eye saw the autobot logo or Starfleet insignia or even a storm trooper emblazoned decal. I set about my quest, browsing through catalogue after catalogue but alas I couldn't find something suitable for the family car. I finally settled for a SG1 lapel pin (MW doesn't let me wear it when I am with her, so I pinned it to my gear bag).

Get your SG1 Lapel and you too can join the SGC!


With that taken care of I went looking for a tee shirt. I was looking for something I could wear when I realized I could score some points if I got one for MW (guys it works!). I got her a cute tee with the words "I heart my geek", fitting don't you think? Next up was a DVD after flipping through numerous titles some too hard core for family use, I finally settled on Planet Hulk. This movie really resonated with me. I liked how the hulk was put in an environment where his angst became a virtue. I draw parallels with jobs I have held down in the past my default behavior can either be an asset or liability in a given environment. The lesson I took from this film was to seek out environments that are compatible with your personality, hiring manager will be doing the same. In the end you and all whom you come in contact with will be happier. And if you think that is too difficult don't, the universe has a tendency to group like minded people together.


Before leaving I had to check out an interesting company featured on the app. It turns out that a company by the name of Graphic Audio has taken the concept of audio books and turned it on its head. Imagine how enhanced text looks and feel in a comic so do the sound clips provided by this company. Conventional audio books has one performer reading the text. Sure they make an effort to add inflection to their tone, however it can get dull if the story is not so good. Now think of a radio play with ensemble cast and glorious sound effects. That's what GA brings to the table. If you check out their website you will see that they have many popular titles. The only drawback is the high production cost which is recovered from the listener. Plus a lot of new releases don't show up on their list. You have to rely on conventional mainstays like audibles for those. But do check them out. You can start with some free samples to wet your appetite. Also look for a review on some of their titles on an upcoming post!.


NYC after a long day comiconing,
is that spidey swinging from the empire state?
All in all it was a great day but now it was time to get back to MWand the serenity of domestic life. Don't worry as long as you have a bag of swag its all good.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Muslim Protaginist

I am a firm believer of speaking your goals into existence. Earlier I had spoken about Sadi Stars. People who are promoting a positive image of Islam through their creative endeavors. These endeavors could be artistic works, stories, films and any other creative expression.

I don't claim to know how these things work but I have found that the more you think and speak about your goals, the more you seem to gravitate towards them. For example I got onto twitter thanks to the advice of Mark Coker and his marketing guide. He said to subscribe to twitter feeds of writers you like. This way you have a link with them. They typically tweet about their projects, current events and everyday things they may be dealing with.

I was fortunate enough to get onto Saladin Ahmed's feed. and I was paying attention when he mentioned he'd be in NYC for a writer's symposium, along with other Sadi Stars like G. Willow Wilson, the creative genius behind Ms. Marvel.

With MW's blessings I headed out early Sunday morning. I took the train into Manhattan, I had Googled the best route, but due to construction I had to get off and take an alternative route. It has been said that with each adversity there is an equal or greater opportunity. So to in my situation. although the train dropped me off at a far off location. The hike over to the campus was rewarding. I got on my phone and punched up Google maps. With GPS enabled it instantly threw up a little blue dot, which represented my current location. With that it was an easy guesstimate of where I had to be.

Lucky for me my path cut through Morning Side Park. As I made my approach I soon realized that I would need to climb up a massive hill. I must admit the task seemed a bit daunting. I even thought about turning back. But then I asked myself how important are my dreams to me? After all I went all this way to learn how to be a better writer. Was a little hill going to stop me? I really got into the symbology of the moment. Perhaps if I could cross this divide I would have proven my resolve. Proven my commitment to perfecting my craft. Proven that I have what it takes, that I could look myself in the mirror and be proud of the man I saw. Plus there was a staircase and the view was spectacular:


So over and on wards for me. I had reached the campus which was spread out over several city blocks. The MSA had a done a good job updating the website so I knew when and where I had to be. With the help of friendly staff and students I found my way to the designated classroom. Upon entering I grabbed a seat and prepared to be educated. 

At the podium was 
Michael Muhammad Knight, he had taken a question from a recent revert. She was writing her memoirs, as she wanted to share her journey to Islam with others. She struggled with particularly emotional events in her life. She wanted to know how to craft those scenes. Not only did the author offer some helpful insights, I was also happy to see all engaged in lively conversation. I am sure with all the synergy we produced something wonderful is bound to happen. I offered some advice as well about entering your dream space and not averting your eyes. That you have to enter your dreamspace on faith and reach your white hot center and then equally important return from there. Something I learned from Robert Owen Butler and his writing workshop.

The next session was conducted by maestro Saladin. He looked just like his twitter pics would suggest. The attendees were also equally amazing. Every one had a real interest in sci-fi and fantasy. They could hold their own when it came to the Dune prequels versus the Dune sequels. I found them to be thoroughly engaged and thoughtful people. It was a nice change of pace a real joy to be around with. They all had insightful questions for Mr. Ahmad. Some related to his work, The Throne of the Crescent Moon, others related to the writing process in general. For my question I had to tap my center. I talked about my current project how I would be examining the Aryan. The black covering that encompasses an evil doers heart. What atrocities is man capable in this state? Thanks to my training I safely exited my dream space and continued on with the session at the conclusion of which people got their copies of the crescent moon autographed and I got a snazzy pic with Dr. Adoulla himself!


I have always been passionate about stories for us by us. Just flipping through your TV channels on any given night you are bound to come across an angry Arab threatening someones life. That someone is more often than not an American. Thus instilling a paranoid fear of Arabs and by association Muslims. That's why this symposium really resonated with me. The idea is to have more leading roles for characters who happen to follow the religion of Islam. Something that is sorely needed in a society that is shaped heavily by its media.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

You gotta play this game!!!

So our area got hit by another snow storm. The roads were horrible and I was in no mood to venture out. Stuck indoors, what's an enterprising guy to do? Well I have been listening to Kiyosoki audio books. He's the guy behind the rich dad books. He often mentioned his cashflow games as a way to increase your financial vocabulary and hence your financial IQ. I have been meaning to play and the cold weather was just the right excuse. I fired up my browser logged in and started playing. The objective of the game is to exit the rat race and pursue your dreams. To see how I did check out these screen grabs:




Kiyosaki really hit home with his teachings. Too often we blame others the government, our employer, society, family etc. For our troubles. We don't take ownership of our lives. To take ownership is to be 100% responsible for your actions and the actions of others when they effect you. Instead of getting mad, and thinking "that's not fair", get smarter. See how you can circumvent your obstacles and reach your goals.
In Kiyosaki's opinion one of the best ways to do this is to gain your financial freedom. This can be done via an Multi Level Marketing (MLM) business. Being a computer science major I appreciate the mathematics behind how a growing network starts paying you back. You are able to harness what is known as Metcalfe's law. Which is a very simple concept.

When you are on your own, it's just you. One squared is still one. For every ounce of energy you put in the return is one ounce of energy. However suppose you add someone to your network, an industrious business partner. Now its two squared. For your one ounce your getting four ounces of energy. Can you see how this can skyrocket?

I can hear you, your thinking so what? I trust my instincts, listen to my heart, I have faith in God and move with his will. Good. So do I. Anything conceived by the mind of man, must come from a template. Often times that template is provided by nature. It is God's creations that inspire us to imagine to create to invent. Yes even mathematical principles have their grounding in the natural world. The template of exponential growth can be found when we examine the germination of a bamboo shoot. For years it will remain dormant under ground. Showing no signs of activity. But the farmer faithfully weeds, waters and fertilizes the encasing soil. Day after day year after year, after which there is a sudden growth spurt in a matter of months the bamboo seedling shoots up several feet and becomes a leafy tree. Kum faya kum!

Can you be that farmer? For me personally I had reached a glass ceiling my salary had plateaued, but my ambitions had not. I was open to the idea of trying out this type of business. The low start up cost, low overhead and low risk appealed to me. The training and education provided helped me to be more assertive and self confident. Which benefitted me in other areas of my life. Especially work, a direct result of which was a promotion and better pay. What's more you have a profound sense of hope, the excitement of pursuing my dreams, dreams that I had painfully written off, that exhilaration is hard to describe. You have to experience it.

I urge you to be mentored in this manner, experience it for yourself. If you have been reading my blog you know I am a genuine person. Not some anonymous blog bot spewing out words. Trust is hard won and If I haven't' earned yours I respect that. But I dare you to ask yourself what if? What if, I could buy that home I always wanted? What if I could stay home with my wife and kids? What if my dreams came true? Can you imagine how different your life could be?

Isn't that worth fighting for? Me and my team are willing to fight alongside you. Come and join us!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

New Book Covers!

I am so stoked by my new book covers! They came out better than expected. Funny thing is that they would never have been if I hadn't gone through cokers marketing guide. Here they emphasize the need for professionally done covers. The idea stuck in my mind as I knew I could improve on them. But it wasn't until I stayed up all night watching starship troopers that a new concept for the covers came to frution.

Originally I had concieved of a zombie miner in a space suite holding up the gemcore flag. My drawing skills are moderate at best so I turned to google, image searches of zombie space miner or space marine soon turned up copyrighted images.

So I headed over to wikimedia for some royalty free images. Searches for space in art turned up some spectacular imagery. The producers of which were happy to share with all. So smashed them up in my handy dandy macromedia mx. Choose a color scheme added some titles got mw approval and viola:




Cool nah? I am so fired up, to be doing what I love. To have the courage to go after my dreams. Makes me come alive! What fires you up?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Sadi Stars

In keeping with my new found ideals, that is being inclusive and brave enough to share my dreams with others. I came up with the idea of a brand new blog post. The idea was to highlight those artists that embody the founding principles of Sadisoft.

To reiterate, we at Sadisoft are striving to achieve the means by which Muslims can project a better image of themselves. For the most part this projection or voice is through some form of storytelling. Whether its through the various sci-fi stories, written with a prominent Muslim character. Or video games and multimedia that brings that story world to life. The aim is to produce products that fit this ideal.

It pleases my heart to see others who have also embraced this ideal. So many fellow Muslim artists have done so much in this field. They are the true torch bearers and an inspiration as they lead the way. In the past I have highlighted these fine people on this very blog. Names such as Yusuf Islam, Dr Naif Al-Mutawa, Ahmed A. Khan, The Ebady brothers, Mustafa Davis, Guide US TV and others have been featured here.

But in the months since so many more notable contenders have taken stage. Seeing the dizzying array of stories out there I set out to chronicle them in an article I'd like to call Sadi Stars. A Sadi Star is an artist who has produced work that embodies the spirit of sadisoft. That is an artist who has shown their light on the religion of Islam and on the religion's followers in a positive manner. This is such a huge contribution to the ummah, which is constantly being attacked by mainstream media. In that context it becomes ever important for others to see our voice, our side of the story, our take on current events. If only to paint a more balanced picture.

So without further ado let's bring up the Sadi Stars!!!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

I love being an IBO

Remember how mikey from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would holler "I love being a turtle!" after doing battle with the evil shredder and his foot soldiers? Well I get the same rush when shopping at mega retailers. But not for the reasons you may be thinking. Sure I have their charge card, coupons, plus I buy from the clearance rack, while half the store is on sale. I save a lot and get something I needed. But there seems to be something missing. There is a feeling in the back of my mind. I have just committed myself to paying back the retailer in two months time. Failing which I will be penalized with a hefty interest payment. So who really won?

Often times you have seen me blog about my business. I am constantly praising it for the hope it has given me and MW. The peace of mind it gives us to know we are in control of our future. The future we inhabit can be lovingly crafted by our hands. After all we have to live it, no else will. So why not build a comfortable and fulfilling future?

That's why I buy from myself. I get the same brands that are available at the retailers. With the same deep discounts, but I still get more, like a check at the end of the month. I literally get paid to shop! Who doesn't want that? I can't imagine why people don't get in. Especially since its a low risk business with a 90 day money back gaurantee. Plus a crew of team members willing to serve you and show you the way. How credible and cool is that?

Still not convinced? Well check out these logos which you are paying full price for. Enjoy!


Season greetings to all my readers. I hoped you enjoyed your time with your loved ones. I wish to give you the gift of Financial Freedom. Drop a line in the comment thread and let's connect!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Smash Words Delivers!

I hope you have caught the writing bug as I have. Its wonderful to be able to express yourself in the written word. What's even better is to share that expression with others. Before signing up with Smashwords, I was promoting my work using my own steam. Your own steam takes you only so far. It isn't until you can duplicate your efforts and work with a team that you create real momentum.

Mark Coker the founder of the revolutionary e-publishing website, SmashWords did just that. He had the novel idea of bypassing the gatekeepers and allowing readers and writers to mingle unhinged. I owe a lot to SW for what they have done for my work. I get a kick anytime someone downloads my stories. Its another mind touched by my words. That's a wonderful feeling to have.

To build on that success Mark has served the Indie writers once again, with two free publications. One is a guide on succesfully publishing your books in the electronic form. The other focuses on how to market them once out in the ether. Get them from the author's SW profile from these links:

Marketing Guide

EBook Publishing Success

It's worth the read, these are the latest incarnations of his popular guides. They are packed with all new information, check 'em out. Happy writing!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Adventures in Contacting

If you have been browsing around on the blog you may have noticed that I am an Independent Business Owner (IBO). Part of the fun of being an IBO is that you get to meet all kinds of people. For the most part people are very receptive to the opportunity. The economy isn’t doing so good, even the government won’t hesitate to screw us over. Its no wonder people are hurting and looking for a way out. I found one and can’t wait to share it with everyone.

As noble as that is there is always a burnt sheep. In my book a burnt sheep is a guy or gal who tried “Amway” and found it didn’t “work”. Which is funny as I always wonder what didn’t work them or Amway. Because Amway works just fine its been working for the past 50 years. Its the IBO who has got to turn the crank and make it work for them.

Don’t get me wrong turning the crank takes time, money and energy. I often doubt myself do I have enough of either one of those key ingredients to keep the machine turning? I don’t ever think of quitting, I wouldn’t be able to achieve my dreams if I did. But I do think about slowing down and just play around with the opportunity given to me. That’s when my team steps in:

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These pictures don’t do justice to how committed my uplines and their uplines are to the team. They serve with out question. They are real people who really want to help. They have gone through the same self doubts and struggle as you and I have. They use their wisdom and experience to guide down lines. No one does Amway like my team. That’s why we are the fastest growing team in all of Amway.

So if you have tried Amway and it didn’t work. I urge you to contact me and give our team a try. Your dreams are worth it…

Read My Interview!

Hi guys! Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I know I did I am thankful to MW and her handiwork in the kitchen! She fixed me up with big 'ol turkey which was fun to munch. At the same time we keep the less fortunate in our prayers.

Let me know how your turkey day went...drop a line in the comment box below. And while you are at it take a gander at my smashword interview. Think of it as a self portrait in words.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

ISNA Chronicles: Naseehat

Another important aspect of the convention was the concept of Naseehat roughly translated it means reminding each other to be pious, faithful and to establish good. This is very important to practice within the confines of the Muslim Brotherhood. When we meet and greet our fellow brothers and sisters of Islam we are automatically reminded of the good deeds we must perform, the kind words we must speak, the ibadats (ritual worship) we must perform. Its the old "company you keep" adage in action.

So how can we receive or give other Naseehat without coming off as pompous? After all it's no fun being knocked off your high horse. For me one technique that I have found especially useful is storytelling. The magic of storytelling is that you can convey a message without appearing to be too preachy. Through the voices of your characters you not only entertain but you can also impart an important message to your readers or audience. What's more storytelling need not be limited to just books. There are a variety of mediums including film and photography. All of which were on full display at the ISNA convention. Here are just a few highlights:

I want to start off with a group of people who share my passion for writing, the Ebady brothers. Hailing from Philly these brothers were truly inspiring. They had a booth at the bustling bazaar where they had stacks of books on sale (I even got a poster!). But these were not just any books, these were self published manuscripts of their spellbinding tale, Warrior Saints If you are into mighty warriors doing battle with evil orcs and saving the day be sure to pick up their books. Me personally I see it as a commentary on the current situation of the Mulsim Ummah. Greedy rulers causing mayhem in the lands just to secure their power. Which is causing divisions amongst the people based on nationalities. Topics eluded to in their stories.
      
At the convention I had a chance to speak to one of the authors, which was really awesome. Perhaps the biggest thing I took from that conversation, was inspiration. I could see that there were others who shared the dream of sadisoft. Muslims telling their own story, using the best words, the best prose. As Instructed by our religion. What's more I could see myself doing what they did.

Which was nothing short of tremendous. They had completed two episodes within the fanciful realm of Warrior Saints. I too am working towards completing my second novel. Plus they are working on a computer animated movie of their story. Although I am not there yet, I am working on a trailer for my smashword page. From time to time my motivation ebbs and flow. But I know it can be done. I've seen it done. If they can do it, so can I!

The next artist chosed film and photography as his medium of storytelling. I have spoken about his talk to all my friends. I am talking about none other than Mustafa Davis. He began by telling his powerful tale of reversion. We were so moved by how he found Islam in the "Eastern Philisophy" section of the local Barnes and Noble. He had picked up a copy of the Holy Quran and randomly opened a page. He had happened to land on the opening verses of Surah Maryam. As a devout christian his heart became soft and his eyes swelled as he read the passage. He felt closer to Hazrat Isa then ever before. This shows how Allah can guide his worthy servant to the straight path.                                                   

He continued and told us how he had to shun his passions of music and photography as it was deemed "unacceptable" by his new found religion. He told of the time he smashed all of his guitars and how painful that was but he did it anyway so that he may immerse himself in the teachings of Islam with as little distractions as possible. As he began to travel to other Muslim countries he saw that his hosts had photographs up on their walls. This got him thinking were photographs completely banned in Islam? As he researched this question he came to know that there were no absolutes, Islam did allow for photography as long as the subject was an inanimate object. To some this may seem as a drain on creativity. Artist are told to express themselves freely and that nothing is off limits. This often results in obscene or vulgar artwork to be produced. Mustafa found beauty and simplicity in being able to focus only on pure and clean subjects. It was a creative liberation he hadn't felt before.

After the talk I had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Davis. I was able to share with him my passion for writing. How it stems from my introspective nature, my desire to understand the world. I told him about the works I have produced and he was very impressed. I mentioned how I am struggling with my latest project, I am adding to the complexity of my characters and want to involve them in romantic relationships. Due to my conservative upbringings my creativity always get sapped by thoughts of  "What will my mother think!". He also has that concern in that how will our community receive his work. Even the Ebady brothers shared that concerned, that's why they never use historical figures in their stories as its too much responsibility to represent them accurately and with enough respect. Mustafa continued and explained that you can explore those topics as long as its tasteful and not obscene. Read Rumi he advised, his works on romantic intrigue are well received by Muslims, till this day.                                                                                                                                                                                      
How uplifting this was! I can take my characters in the direction I want to without having to feeling guilty that I am corrupting the masses. Actually the thing is mainstream media is very accessible (its in our phones for crying out loud!) and it has conditioned us to view romantic relationships only in a lustful context. Which actually cheapens this beautiful relationship. Instead of celebrating it we feel guilty and shun it. Which is a terrible loss, a blow to our human nature! Will be making every effort to break away from that mold.

All in all it was great trip MW and I are looking forward to the next one!


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Is it Halal?

So you have been visiting the blog. Reading up on all the cool things that can happen when you go into business for yourself. But you may have some questions. For starters if you adhere to the Islamic faith you may be wondering if this business is Halal (lawful). I am here to tell you that it is indeed halal. But don’t take my word for it. Just take a look at all the Muslims couple who have reached a substantial level in the business.

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All of them can be classified as “Practicing”. They appear to be modestly dressed and while presenting themselves they mentioned how they did not have to compromise on their principles in order to do the business. What’s more the education system that is setup to teach and train fledgling IBOs to make it big in the business reaffirm guiding principles that we find in Islam. Principles we may have forgotten but can be reminded of in this business. Principles like integrity, honesty and self discipline.

Its no wonder that when we apply these principles in our lives we can inspire others. An often repeated example in the annals of Islamic history is the spread of Islam in far off regions like Malaysia and Indonesia. This was done through Arab traders coming to their shores with their wares. Offering a fair price and engaging in honest trade. So impressed were the locals that they soon adopted the religion of these visitors. So in essence we see that we are reviving an old tradition of ours. What’s more there is barkath (blessing, bounty) in trade. Our prophet travelled to Syria to trade on behalf of Khatidja.

What’s more there is dignity in being financial free. Just look around the blog. A new header has been put up. The viewer is encouraged to break the shackles of mediocrity. The importance of being financially independent is further enforced by a hadiths proclaiming how the servant of Allah may attain paradise if he doesn’t ask others.

Once again I implore you. If you are struggling financially. Contact me. My team and I can help.