Meet the Author: Q & A with Linda (Widad) Delgado – PART 2

Today we continue our question and answer session with Linda D. Delgado (also known as Widad) in the “Meet the Author” feature. Linda D. Delgado is a former police sergeant, writer (of the award winning Islamic Rose Books series), publisher (Muslims Writers Publishing company), and founder of Islamic Writers Alliance (a network of Muslim professionals working in the literary field of books and the written word. This is the second and final part of a two-part interview (read Part 1).

Q. What are some of your thoughts on why we need to read and how does Islamic fiction fulfill that need?

A. The importance of being able to read well with comprehension (understanding) is critical to children, students at any grade level, and to adults. Literacy is critical to success all through one’s life in education, employment and something as simple as reading street directions. Reading helps to expand the vocabulary of a person/child which leads to a better understanding of the world they live in.

If a child cannot read well, then parents and teachers can expect the child to have difficulty in all most all other studies. When a child, student, adult reads a good fiction story…one that is well-written, creative, interesting, fun, and non-preachy… enjoyment is the benefit. Fiction encourages the individual to enjoy reading which in turn builds on the vocabulary and comprehension skills necessary to be successful in non-fiction reading required for other course work and for employment and everyday living. Reading fiction encourages the reader to expand their imaginations and think of possibilities for many things in life.

Islamic Fiction badge/logo by Muslim Writers Publishing

photo source IslamicFictionBooks.com

Islamic fiction has the added benefit of showing the readers about Islam without the reader feeling they are reading a lesson or being preached to. With so many different genre of IF. One example is historical Islamic fiction. A reader can learn many historical facts about events and people without feeling as though they are reading a text book.

 Q. What can parents, educators and leaders in Muslim communities do to support authors and publishers of Islamic fiction? 

A. I think for parents the most important thing they can do with younger children is to read with their children. For older children I think they should be purchasing quality Islamic fiction books for their youth and teens to read. I think Islamic schools should be ensuing their libraries have plenty of Muslim authored and published books available for students. I also think that principals and teachers should incorporate Islamic fiction books in their language arts programs and also creative writing. A beginning could be the schools promoting Islamic fiction books through the annual and/or semi-annual book fairs Islamic schools hold each year. Instead of promoting secular fiction books, the emphasis should be on Muslim authored books. I also think that teachers and school administrators should provide recommended reading lists of halal Muslim authored/Islamic fiction books for listing on school web sites and schools should use IF books in summer reading programs. Holding creative fiction writing contests also encourages an appreciation for this category of literature with students.

Q. When and why did you start Muslim Writers Publishing Company?

Star Writers by Amtaullah Al-Marwani

photo source Muslim Writers Publishing


 
A. I began researching the secular and Muslim book publishing industries in early 2005 after my dearest friend and author died after a bone marrow transplant for the leukemia she suffered from. We were working together on a book manuscript and she asked me to promise to finish the book and get it published if she did not survive. She died three weeks after the transplant. I then tried to keep my promise by seeking publishing from other Muslim publishers once I finished the manuscript. I was not successful, so I felt that I should create my own publishing business to keep this promise and also to publish my own writing. I also decided to focus my publishing efforts on getting more Islamic fiction books published for older youth and teens and this led me to begin publishing other Muslim IF authors. The book that was my inspiration to become a publisher is, Star Writers. This is a very unique book that teaches Muslims how to write creative, fun, and halal Islamic stories. 

Q. What are some of the challenges authors of Islamic fiction face in getting published?

 

A. IF writers who write stories for very young children… the color illustrated books with limited text… have an easier time finding willing Muslim publishers. For IF authors who write stories for older youth (chapter-style books), teens, and young adults, it is still very difficult to convince most Muslim publishers to publish books at these reading levels. It is also difficult to convince Muslim retailers to make the IF books that do get published available at their bookstores. There are several factors which contribute to the obstacles of getting published and then convincing Muslim retailers to list/sell the IF books:

–Most Muslim publishers were educated in schools where fiction reading was not part of the curriculum and creative writing was not taught. (Countries with Muslim predominate populations) . 

–Unfortunately, a few Muslim scholars have taken the extreme POV that fiction writing is writing lies and fiction reading is a useless waste of time. There are individuals in the Muslim book industry that agree and there are Muslims who refuse to read fiction for this reason. 

–There are Muslims who do not understand that fiction reading is an educational requirement in schools in westernized countries. 

–Many parents of Muslim students in schools today did not read fiction as children/youth/teens so they do not understand its relevance to their children learning and succeeding in today’s school system. 

–Unfortunately Islamic fiction books have been mistakenly characterized as books that are dull, uninteresting, and preachy, are poorly edited with poor publishing book production values. This perception came about from fiction books published a decade or more ago and which were often translations of fiction books first written in other languages. 

— Muslim book retailers often follow Muslim publishers. Because most of the large Muslim publishers are not producing IF books for youth/teens then the books that do manage to get published are largely ignored by Muslim book retailers. 

The good news is that in the last two to three years I have seen a change in this with some of the larger Muslim publishers beginning to look for IF writers/stories for older youth and teens and it is becoming a little easier to convince Muslim book retailers to consider buying and making IF books available to Muslim book readers. Some book retailers and publishers are actually using the word ‘fiction’ on their web sites now. (:
  

Q. As a publisher what are some of the stories/themes you would like to see authors writing about?

 

A. I think that there is a critical need for IF writers to create stories that target Muslim male youth and teens. The stories should be ones boys would enjoy reading. Action and adventure stories, perhaps some book series with a young male character would be a good place to begin. I know that teachers seem to gravitate to historical fiction stories which could incorporate science fiction or fantasy.

 

Q. What advice can you give to young people who wish to become a writer?

 

A. There are several positive things our authors of tomorrow can do to gain skill as a writer and exercise their imaginations and creativity:

–Write every day even if it is for only 5 or 10 minutes. Writing in a journal is one writing exercise that can teach discipline.

–Write creative fiction short stories and ask friends, family and teachers to read them and give feedback and comments. Accept criticism/critique as a very necessary part of being a skilled writer.

–Enter your polished and edited short stories in fiction story contests. Even when you don’t when you benefit from the writing, rewriting the story and editing it so there are few if any grammar, punctuation, spelling , etc. errors.

–Research web sites which offer free writing tips a and offer writing techniques; that teach the technical parts of a book and the “language” of writing such as foreshadowing, prologue, POV, plot, etc.

–When older and if money is available, take a writing class to learn how to polish your writing and improve your techniques and skill.

 

 

JazakumuAllahu Khairan Linda, for taking time out from your busy schedule to answer these questions. Thank you for sharing with us valuable information about the Islamic fiction publishing industry. And for your great advice on writing, which I am sure will benefit many aspiring writers.

May Allah reward you for your dedication in bringing quality books to Muslim communities worldwide, for all the fabulous work you do and continue to do to through your books and to promote Islamic writers and their works.  


Learn more about what is Islamic Fiction (IF) at IslamicFictionBooks.com  

Find more of Linda Delgado’s books and titles published by her company at Muslim Writers Publishing.  

Read Part 1 of this interview here.

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Meet the Author: Q & A with Linda (Widad) Delgado – PART 1

The Guide to Muslim Children’s Books and Media is dedicated to bring you information about authors of the wonderful books your child/students read. Today in “Meet the Author” I interview Linda D. Delgado (also known as Widad). She is a former police sergeant, writer (of the award-winning Islamic Rose Books series), publisher (Muslims Writers Publishing company), and founder of Islamic Writers Alliance (a network of Muslim professionals working in the literary field of books and the written word. This is part one of a two-part interview.

 

 

 

Assalamu alaykum Linda and welcome to the blog.

It was so wonderful of you to consent to doing this interview here on the Guide to Muslim Children’s Books and Media (MCBM) blog. I am looking forward to getting to know the author behind the lovely Islamic Rose Books series. I know that you are also a publisher so I am also hoping you will share some information about the Islamic publishing industry.    

Q. Please tell us a little about yourself.

A. I am a wife and mother (3), grandmother (8), and great grandmother (3). I live in the Southwest, U.S. and reverted to Islam in 2000. I spend most of my time writing, publishing, marketing, and promoting books I write and publish for other authors. I retired after a 26 year professional law enforcement career.    

Q. When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?

A. After retirement I had a heart attack and other health problems ended my plans to teach elementary school. Bored and wondering what I could do, I prayed. Then my 9 year old granddaughter told me that I told really good stories so why didn’t I write them? I said… why not! I then began writing the Islamic Rose Books series.    

Q. What inspired you to write The Visitors (book one in the Islamic Rose Books series)?

 

A. The Visitors is based on the actual event of the Saudi police officers staying in my home as guests while they were in the USA for one year learning English and attending advanced police officer courses with a local police department. I was still working as a police sergeant back then. My granddaughter said I should write about her and her friends too, so I had to write more books and I ended up writing 4 books, the Islamic Rose Books series.    

Saying Goodbye - Book 4 of Islamic Rose Books series

photo source Islamic Rose Books

 

Q. Did you initially conceive it as a series of four books or did the idea evolve as you began the first book?

 

A. When I began writing I didn’t know much about the technical side of writing a book such as every book having a beginning, middle, ending; plot, foreshadowing, POV, and such. I just wrote. I ended up with 28 chapters, but this was way too much content for one book. A dear friend and published author explained to me how I needed to divide the content and then make each book complete…stand on its own. It took a lot more work to do this, but this is how I learned how to become a fiction writer.    

 

 

Q. Why did you decide to do Teacher Study Guides for your books and how are they being used?

 

A. For the past seven years I have used profits from my authored books sales to purchase books for Islamic school libraries. In doing so I came into contact with many teachers and school administrators and also home schooling parents. I noticed that the schools sponsored book fairs but did not promote Muslim authored and published books; only secular books. I also noticed that only secular books were listed on school web site recommended reading lists. So I asked teachers and principals why they were not promoting and using Islamic fiction books in the classroom, recommending these books, and placing them in school libraries. Many said that the secular fiction books had teacher study guides which helped the teacher and enhanced students’ reading and comprehension. I did considerable research and discovered that Muslim publishers had not developed teacher study guides for fiction books they published. I had known for some years that many Muslim publishers also did not publish fiction books for older youth and teens.     

Teacher Study Guide for "The Visitor" by Linda Delgado

photo source Islamic Rose Books website

 

I did more research on the content of TSGs and then worked with a teacher, principal, and class of 20 Muslim students to develop and field test the first TSG we developed. It met with resounding approval from the teachers, principal, and students.     

Using the first TSG as a template, I created a TSG Team to help me develop more TSG for other fiction books I had published. It is expensive to first publish a book and then develop and publish an accompanying TSG. Someone told an online Muslim organization that raises money for worthy causes about my TSG project. This organization raised money from Muslims world-wide to help me pay for the design cost for the additional 5 TSGs my Team developed.     

It took 2 years for this project and unfortunately now that I have some TSGs available the Islamic schools have been slow to respond. However I am very pleased that this year two Islamic schools decided to purchase a couple of Islamic books with accompanying TSG and will be using them in the classroom with their students. It is a beginning of what I hope will one day become standard practice. Our Muslim children and youth need to read quality Islamic fiction and know there are very talented Muslims writing and publishing fun, creative, non-preaching fiction books that are halal but great stories they can enjoy and learn from.    

Q. How has the Islamic Rose Books series been received by the Muslim community and the wider community? What about worldwide?

A. It is difficult to say.  The series has been published and then republished by my own publishing company.  The series has been translated and republished in Indonesia. The DAT translation organization in Egypt translated the series into Arabic and this version of the series I have in pdf ebook format. The books are sold in South Africa, United Kingdom, Malaysia, and in a dozen Muslim retail stores in the USA and they are also available at online secular book retailers like Amazon.com.  I think kids and adults enjoy the books as they are still selling 9 years after I wrote them. I wouldn’t categorize the series as a best seller but sales remain steady year after year. I get lots of emails from both children and adults saying how much they enjoy the books. Many ask me to write more. (:    

Q. Besides the Islamic Rose Books, what other books have you written?

A Muslim’s Guide to Publishing and Marketing, which provides basic information and is what is called a ‘How to’ type book.    

Halal Food, Fun and Laughter by Linda Delgado

photo source Muslim Writers Publishing

 

–I also wrote and published a cookbook titled, Halal Food, Fun, and Laughter. It is unique in that the book includes Hadith and Aya that are food specific, short and funny stories about things related to food and cooking, a few funny food poems. Instead of pictures of food I have illustrations of a Miss Spoon character illustration doing funny things in the kitchen.    

Grandma & Hijab-EZ Family Activity Book

photo source Muslim Writers Publishing

 

–Collaborating with the illustrator for all books I publish, sister Shirley Anjum, we created the book, Grandma & Hijab-Ez Family Activity Book. We used the comic strips I created and which were published, to create 68 coloring pages, I then developed 8 seek & find puzzles and there is a section for parents called “Talking Points” that can be used to discuss the fiqh lessons incorporated in the 8 short stories in the book.    

     

Q. Are you writing any books at present?

A. I am working on a new book series. The first book is in design and I expect it to be published by the end of May, this year. I am already working on the second book for this series. The series is written at the teen/young adult/adult reading level and is a crime thriller genre.    

Part 2 of this interview will follow soon.

 
Visit the Islamic Rose Books series website  to meet Rose and her friends and try some fun activities (recipes, comic strip and interesting facts about places mentioned in the books).    

Learn more about what is Islamic Fiction (IF) at IslamicFictionBooks.com    

Find more of Linda Delgado’s books and titles published by her company at Muslim Writers Publishing.    

Read a review of The Visitor.