True Love Doesn’t Hurt – A Poem By Kaya Gravitter

True Love Doesn’t Hurt

True love doesn’t hurt you. 

True love doesn’t make you feel a pain in your stomach that makes you sick.

True love makes you feel joy. 

Yes, true love can make you angry sometimes.

But I must emphasize, true love does not hurt you. 

I Came to Know Love (عرفت الهوى ) By Rabia Basri (or Rabia Al-Adawiyya)

This is probably one of my favorite poems. To hear it recited, may have you in tears. (English translated version on the bottom.)

عرفت الهوى

عرفت الهوى من عرفت هواك

و أغلقت قلبي عمن عداك    

و قمت أناجيك يا من ترى  

خفايا القلوب و لسنا نراك

أحبك حبين

حب الهوى و حبا لأنك أهل لذاك

فأما الذي هو الحب الهوى فشغلي بذكرك عمن سواك

و أما الذي أنت أهل له

فكشفك لي الحجب حتى أراك

فلا الحمد في …….. يا مولاي…… ذا و لا ذاك لي

يا مولاي …. و لكن لك الحمد في ذا و ذاك

أشتاق شوقين

شوق النوى و شوقا لقرب الخلي من حماك

فأما الذي هو شوق النوى فمسرى الدموع لطول نواك

و أما اشياقي لقرب الحمى فنار حياتي خبت في ضياك

و لست على….. يا مولاي …. شدوى أشكو الهوى

يا مولاي…. رضيت بما شئت لي في هداك

In English:

I Came to Know Love By Rabia Basri (or Rabia Al-Adawiyya)

I came to know love the moment I found your love

And I have closed my heart from everyone except you

And I started whispering to you (O you, the one who sees the secrets of the hearts while we don’t see you ) 

I have two types of  love for you

The  Love of inclination and the love for your cause you are worthy of such

The  Love of inclination is when your remembrance keeps me away from everyone else

And truly the love that you are worthy of is ……when you unveil the veils for me to see you 

Truly the praise in either case, O My Lord … is not mine 

O my Lord, Truly, Praise in both cases belongs to you! 

I have two types of longing for you

The longing cause of the distance between me and you ……..

And my longing to the closeness I feel when I am secluded in your refuge

The longing cause the long distance between me and you is creating a stream of tears 

And my longing for the closeness I feel when I am alone in your refuge is because of that ……

the light of my life has been faded in your light ( it’s nothing compared to your light )

Despite all of my chanting, O my lord I am not complaining my love

O, my Lord, I am content with whatever you have pleased for me.  

How To Be A Successful Indie Author

Don’t expect overnight success from being an indie or self-published author. You have to work for it and in this article, I am going to show you how I became a successful debut published author.

Build Your Network

Build your network way before you are published. As I was writing my debut novel, I was working as a journalist and blogger. This may have given me a leg up on things but my writing history is not what sold my books. I did. While I was writing my novel I was trying to raise my social media following and I still am. I started with Instagram. I made some friends and became a part of a good support group. I also met some awesome writers that helped me grow my network and took interest in me.

Sell Yourself

You have to pretend you are a salesperson, but you are selling yourself. You are a literary prostitute. When you become an author, you become your own brand and have to sell yourself. You have to make people want to put your books on their shelves. You have to make people want you to come to their store to do a book signing or a reading. You have to make people want to write an article about you. Show that you are unique and one of a kind!

Never say no to any opportunity

There will come times when you are given opportunities that you don’t find to be the most appealing to you but an opportunity is an opportunity, take it! Because any opportunity is an opportunity, just like all publicity is good publicity.

Be Persistence

Like I stated before, you have to make people want you. You will have to follow up with bookstores or places that want you to do readings. You will even have to annoy some people to get yourself out there but that is how you become successful. You don’t become a successful writer by sitting behind your laptop and praying success will fall at your feet. I didn’t get book signings at Barnes and Nobles and other bookstores by doing nothing. I didn’t get speaking engagements by doing nothing. I worked my tail off and I still am.

We are Mauna a Wakea (Mauna Kea)

“It is not about the mountain but Indigenous people’s lives. We have been silenced far too long.” 

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If you have been following my writing for a while now, you will know that I am a Native American and a writer for the voiceless. I came across what is happening in Hawaii on facebook because unfortunately, not too many news outlets are yet covering it. So I reached out to a Native Hawaiian (Kanaka Maoli), Tiaree McDonald-Agazaryan, for an interview and asked her about the protesting, which I will refer to as the protection they will be doing in Stevens Point, WI, this Sunday, July 28th, Downtown on the square at 1 pm. 

I am referring to them as protectors because like McDonald-Agazaryan pointed out to me, “they are protectors and not protestors because they are not against science or the telescope.” They are for protecting the Mauna (Mountain) a Wakea or “father sky” and they are anti-location because the mountain is important to the native Hawaiian people and their culture, it also has the utmost sacred significance to the Hawaiian indigenous peoples. 

McDonald-Agazaryan continues, “the reason for the significance of this mountain is because of Native Hawaiian’s look to this mountain for guidance and as an elder who they learn from. The Kanaka Maoli believe it to be the realm of god’s. And to indigenous Hawaiians, it is the burial grounds for their ancestors and chiefs.”

Another reason they are against it is that “the United States government already has 13 telescopes on top of the sacred Mountain but only two are working. The government promised that they would take down the non-working telescopes before they set up new ones. Now the government wants to put up a 30-meter telescope, the largest in the world, on the mountain. This will ruin the water supply that can provide clean water to Hawaii for up to 100 years.”

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I hope this article sheds light on what is happening in Hawaii and brings awareness to it.

Follow #kukiaimauna, #wearemaunakea, #alohaaina, #kapualoha, on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

 

Fellow Reverts Converting for The Clout or Free Stuff

Article By: Ameerah Nahal

Salaam everyone,

Fellow Reverts, we need to have a talk… There is a particular problem that has been weighing on my heart heavily during the last few years since I became a Muslim. I don’t label myself seasoned in any way, but I am firm to the fact that knowledge is power. 

All it takes is one brief moment for someone to go on a quest to seek knowledge in something. In the case for myself, when it came to Islam I sought it out for its message and Alhamdulillah (thanks be to God) I benefitted greatly in this religion. However, I am noticing a trend lately when it comes to new potential reverts seeking out Islam. 

Over the last few years, the Muslim community, in particular, reverts/converts, have found themselves plastered on social media. Many reverts of various ethnic backgrounds have made their presence known via Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. Others have gone about their exposure to the world via local media (such as newspapers) and even StoryCorps. All in the hopes of sharing their experiences in welcoming Islam into their hearts and their lives, while others like myself are behind the scenes about their religious decision. With this comes prospective new members of the Ummah. This in itself is a blessing, and reward for helping your fellow brother/sister surely is a blessing. 

But I’ve noticed a new wave of reverts/converts to the religion who are not necessarily “in it to win it”. In the words of Lauryn Hill, “How can you win if you ain’t right from within?”

With this being said, I am writing to discuss the issue lately amongst us. Entering Islam for the WRONG reasons. As a revert, I came to Islam seeking union with Allah and peace of mind. Islam also aligned with my religious values which made my transition into the religion easier. Some people in my experience accepted Islam for the same reason. However, just like any religion, we will see those who abuse the kindness of others for the sake of attention, clout and for selfish gain. 

Unfortunately, as a member of the Muslim community, this is not something I am appreciative of. When I first converted to Islam, I was alone. I had nowhere to turn, as I was mistrustful and social media when I converted, was not a huge safe space for converts just yet. I did not have the good fortune of meeting converts until 3 years later when other Latino Muslim found me on Instagram through the hashtags #LatinoMuslims and #LatinaMuslim. 

Since I’ve grown in my own platform, I’ve met many reverts like me who found happiness in Islam and feel at ease in their religious beliefs. However, I am also met with people who turn to Islam as a means for personal gain or even to seek ‘clout’ from the likes of people, including prospective reverts. 

With that, I am writing to say: WE CAN’T HELP EVERYONE. 

Imam Ali (RA) was quoted as saying: “Leave alone what does not concern you and leave alone what does not belong to you.”

Why are we back here again? Unfortunately, this has been about as much reason to why women/girls come my way to seek guidance about Islam for the sake of some guy. 

It is a sad reality because to me as a Muslim I feel once again we have failed in providing proper education to the masses about the religion. Realistically we have work to do, ideally, I wish it was possible to educate people as well as stop categorizing Islam as a foreign concept. 

When we discuss the three religions: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, we don’t really pay mind to the likes of our Kitaabis (my nickname for people of the Book ‘al-Kitaab’), but when it comes down to Muslims, we are under a microscope and are dissected down to every move we make. 

Another annoyance I have been having is the level of ungratefulness I have noticed amongst converts. In current time, there are many foundations and organizations and even ordinary sisters going out their way to help others, only to be faced with questioning behaviors and even lying about their true intentions as to why they accepted Islam. 

I myself have faced this similar issue with countless sisters who reach out because they’re amazed at the fact I am Muslim, I am Latina, I am a nursing student who works at a hospital and who happens to have a small following too. When they do reach out to me, unfortunately only 10% of sisters who reach out to me actually enter into the deen for the beauty of the message and alhamdulillah are successful in their growth. 

However, the 90% I do not mention is only coming to me in regards to being ‘friends’, providing resources which they’ll never use, and even going as far as to ask if I know, single Muslim men (or worse, do I know single Muslim Doctors because I work at a hospital/attend school in the Medical District).

This to me is quite disturbing. 

It has even gone as far as to the abuse of resources. Sisters coming to me about how these individuals would take advantage of their kindness. Wasting time, asking questions that do not even qualify for them yet such as marriage. Even going as far as to seeking religion as a means to attention amongst the likes of YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram. In addition, there are women who converted to Islam for… I can’t believe I am saying this… in hopes of getting married off quickly to the likes of a man with financial wealth. I sadly have bumped into sisters who shamelessly admit to their actions (indirectly) and to then find they block me when I call out such behavior. 

So I ask, why make use of something so beautiful for something as trivial as money, a man or even attention from the likes of people who don’t wish good will upon you? 

Women are not the only ones guilty, men have admitted on forums that they would convert to marry a ‘hot Arab’ or ‘hot desi’, girl. Which is gross simply due in fact that these sisters are being objectified and stereotyped. 

However, most of the drama lies in the abuse of the common known Sunnah of the prophet – Polygyny. Polygyny and the mistaken misconception that Muslim women are to be ‘obedient’ to their husband. 

My brothers, this already is a mistake on itself. Focusing on these particular actions alone is setting yourself up for disaster. While that is a Sunnah of the prophet, it is also Sunnah to be kind to the women in your life (mother, sister, daughter, nieces, cousins), it is also Sunnah to be helpful of your wife. Because men have the double standard to their advantage, despite men in the community who are in advocacy for accountability, men easily slip past the accountability checkpoint. 

If we need to boil down to it – it’s solely about intention. Intention and doing your research. Many enter into religion for the message, and that is beautiful. Those who do, have benefitted so much and are ultimately happy. Because they entered into religion with a weary heart and found strength in a religion in which you get reward to SMILE. It is people like this that slowly break the stigma about converts who convert for the sake of clout, men, or even monetary gain. But my brothers and sisters, we need to ask ourselves how we can curb this problem. 

My fellow reverts, I speak to you all that we need to work hard in curbing the issue at the task with potential reverts abusing the kindness of others, for this is poisoning all we have worked with the community and damaging our iman in the process. 

I also ask that we are to take strong caution when facing reverts who are in ‘haram relationships’ with Muslim men/women. We as Muslims have the daunting task of educating people much more than ever before, with reverts having the double whammy because not only are we educating, we are to defend our decision as well to the likes of fellow born Muslims, ex-Muslims, our non-Muslim peers, and even trolls (online or in real life).

Let us enter into Ramadan with a clean heart and be steadfast in our actions. May we hope that through reflection we can find a way to curb this, and truly help those who ACTUALLY want to become Muslims get the help they so deserve. Let us no longer feed the clout chasers. 

I feel so guilty in writing this, but I felt it was time we had this little chat. 

Jazakallah khair. 

How To Write A Novel

I am grateful to all the people who have been supportive and followed my writing journey. My novel After She Said Yes was launched on June 2nd of 2019. What it took to get to this point is crazy. I wrote a 71,000-word women’s fiction novel in only a few months, but the time it took for rewriting, editing, querying, and finding a publisher has taken over two years. I am writing this to share my writing journey with you and what I learned along the way. 

So, let’s get to how this book came to be and I got to this point. 

  1. Come up with an idea. I know this is obvious. But one night when I couldn’t sleep, the idea for this book came into my mind. 
  2. Write a Short Blurb. This goes over what would happen in the novel or what the big plot would be. So where did the idea come from? I sprung up from my bed when the idea came to mind and wrote all that I could think of at that moment in a note on my phone. If you are a writer or artist, you know that when creativity strikes, you take full advantage of it, no matter how late at night it is. 
  3. Having an idea is not enough. This because there are plenty of book ideas I have that started just like that, but I never did anything with them. After coming up with the idea this time, I showed my writing critique group. They thought it was the best idea from the book ideas I have shared with them, so I decided to stick with it.
  4. Be prepared to work. You will work hard and put in all that is in your heart. Now I am currently working on a new novel and I am reminded of just how hard it is to create something out of nothing. But the finished product is always worth it in the end. I find it to be a very fun experience. 
  5. Write an outline with the plot or subplots (I didn’t write a character outline but some recommend it).  Why is writing an outline of your novel so important? Though I updated my initial outline many times, it was very helpful to have it when I had writer’s block.
  6. Write your first draft. Some people recommend editing as you go. I did not do that with my debut novel and I regret it because it made the editing process harder.  I recommend to write a few chapters and then go back to edit anything that doesn’t make sense or doesn’t sound well. 
  7. Celebrate! You wrote a novel, which I can tell you is a huge accomplishment in and of its self. Remember, a lot of people have book ideas but never follow through with them. You were one of the people who did. So congratulations! 
  8. Take a break. Other writers say after this to give yourself a month or so break to reflect on what you have written. (I took a two-week break.) Then after this, go back to re-writing your novel. You may do this a few times until you feel it is perfect. Just kidding, you will never think the book you wrote is perfect but you has to make it as close as possible to satisfy yourself. That is where my next point comes in.
  9. Join a critique group and get beta readers. This is when the writing critique group and beta readers come into play. They helped me so much! I never knew how much blood, sweat, and tears would actually go into the making of a novel. I mean that figuratively and literally. It takes a lot of time, energy, and emotion. I poured my whole self into this novel and the characters, but I was lucky to have a writing critique group to aid me and keep me motivated along the way.
  10. Writing a book is a long journey. There were times I didn’t want to write. There were times when I had writer’s block, but I had to keep pushing myself. I would not let myself forget the reason I started writing in the first place or the reason this novel is so important. I believe my debut novel After She Said Yes will help many women and resonate with many people.

So what is my debut novel about? My novel, After She Said Yes, is a Women’s Fiction Novel about Aurora, a magazine editor in Madison, Wisconsin. She finds her way out of an abusive marriage after catching her husband, Gannon, doing something she could never forgive him for. Battling the wounds inflicted throughout her abusive marriage, she strives to find the strength to be an independent woman again. Aurora is confronted with a rekindled flirtation with her soon-to-be ex-husband’s friend, Melih, a Turkish Muslim man. But will Aurora’s previous marriage stand in the way? Finding surprising success after an article of hers goes viral, Aurora must make a choice. She tells herself to come to terms with the reality that a woman cannot have both a successful career and love. Will she pursue her long-awaited dream job, or choose a shot at love?

I hope this novel shows women that there is a light at the end of that sometimes very dark, what seems like a never-ending, dark tunnel. I have volunteered for women’s shelters. This does not include any of their stories, but I wanted to write this for all of those women I spent time with and tried to help from when I started volunteering at fourteen years old.

Stay tuned for more posts on how I became a writer and the tips and tricks I used to have a successful debut novel!

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I look forward to keeping you posted on more updates on my debut novel After She Said Yes!

Follow Kaya on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Why I Wrote After She Said Yes, Which Sheds Light On Abuse, Divorce, and Mental Health

Written By: Kaya Gravitter

I decided to write about the topics of divorce, abuse, anxiety, and interracial relationships in my novel, After She Said Yes, for a few reasons. It is partly because I have seen and/or experienced these experiences firsthand but these are not the only reason. My love for writing and my life experiences led me to write this novel for the women speaking out against their abusers and for the women who still haven’t. Though the novel is fiction, I wrote this article in hopes my novel may many women who are going through abusive relationships, PTSD, or eating disorders. I also dedicated my novel to all women, so we may always have the strength to stand up to any man who tries to silence us.

Domestic violence and divorce is not just a stigma amongst Muslims but across the board. The woman who is abused in my novel is wealthy, so I wanted to show that no matter how rich or poor a person is, it is hard to leave. I feel it is probably harder for a woman who is financially dependent on her husband, but I do not know. But my whole novel is not on domestic violence, it only covers it in the early parts of the book. My novel focuses on what life is like after my protagonist has left her abuser and her growth after leaving.

One night when I couldn’t sleep, the idea for this novel came into my mind. I sprung up from my bed and wrote all that I could think of at that moment in a note on my phone. If you are a writer or artist, you know that when creativity strikes, you take full advantage of it, no matter how late at night it is.

After coming up with the idea for this book, I showed my writing critique group the blurb that I had written. They thought it was a great idea for a book ideas because it sheds light on an important topic that is very prevalent now, especially during the #metoo movement and women coming forward against their abusers.

My novel, After She Said Yes, is a Women’s Fiction Novel about Aurora, a magazine editor in Madison, Wisconsin. She finds her way out of an abusive marriage after catching her husband, Gannon, doing something she could never forgive him for. Battling the wounds inflicted throughout her abusive marriage, she strives to find the strength to be an independent woman again. Aurora is confronted with a rekindled flirtation with her soon-to-be ex-husband’s friend, Melih, a Turkish Muslim man. But will Aurora’s previous marriage stand in the way? Finding surprising success after an article of hers goes viral, Aurora must make a choice. She tells herself to come to terms with the reality that a woman cannot have both a successful career and love. Will she pursue her long-awaited dream job, or choose a shot at love?

I hope this novel shows women that there is a light at the end of that sometimes very dark, what seems like a never-ending, dark tunnel. In the novel, you will learn about an organization called DAIS, the Domestic Abuse Intervention Services based in Madison, WI, where I had volunteered a few years ago. I talk about DAIS in my novel After She Said Yes. DAIS is not the only place I volunteered, I also have volunteered for other women’s shelters. This does not include any of their stories, but I also wanted to write this for all of those women I spent time with and tried to help from when I started volunteering at fourteen years old.

On June 2nd, you can order Kaya’s novel, After She Said Yes, on Amazon, Books-A-Million, Barnes and Nobles, and many more places, such as your local bookstore. By the end of this week, the novel should be available for pre-order. If you cannot buy it, ask your local library to purchase it for you to read.

Follow Kaya on her website, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to stay updated on her writing and novel release.

A Preview of After She Said Yes, A Women’s Fiction Novel By Kaya Gravitter

I will write to you what I will have on the back of my book and also in the about “the author” section of my novel, After She Said Yes, which will be launching June 2nd, 2019.  It will be ready for pre-sale this week on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, etc. I am thinking about sharing the first few pages of my novel, for a sneak peek, but you let me know what you think. 

After She Said Yes is a Women’s Fiction Novel about Aurora, a magazine editor in Madison, Wisconsin. She finds her way out of an abusive marriage after catching her husband, Gannon, doing something she could never forgive him for. Battling the wounds inflicted throughout her abusive marriage, she strives to find the strength to be an independent woman again. Aurora is confronted with a rekindled flirtation with her soon-to-be ex-husband’s friend, Melih, a Turkish Muslim man. But will Aurora’s previous marriage stand in the way? Finding surprising success after an article of hers goes viral, Aurora must make a choice. She tells herself to come to terms with the reality that a woman cannot have both a successful career and love. Will she pursue her long-awaited dream job, or choose a shot at love?

Kaya realized she loved to write stories when she was only twelve years old. She told her teacher she wanted to turn her story into a play, which was eventually acted out for the school. Kaya’s love for writing and her life experiences led her to write this novel for the women speaking out against their abusers and for the women who still haven’t. Though the novel is fiction, Kaya hopes this novel helps many women who are going through abusive relationships, PTSD, or eating disorders.

Kaya was born and raised in Northern Wisconsin. In 2016, she moved to the Florida Panhandle, where she works as a marketing manager and freelance writer. Kaya has articles published in The Huffington Post, Yahoo News, and several other media outlets. She received a BA with a double major in Political Science and International Studies from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, where she was the editor-in-chief for the diversity newsletter and campus blog. 

 

Follow Kaya on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook to follow her writing.

See How I Wrote My Upcoming Women’s Fiction Novel… After She Said Yes

I am grateful to all the people who have been supportive and followed my writing journey. My novel will be launched at the end of this Month. and I am so excited to announce this. To say how long it took to get to this point is crazy. I wrote a 71,000-word women’s fiction novel in only a few months, but the time it took for rewriting and editing has taken over two years. I am writing this article to share my writing journey with you and what I learned along the way. (Make sure to follow my blog to read the summary that will be on the back cover of my book, to get a sneak peek of my novel.)

So where did the idea for this novel come from? One night when I couldn’t sleep, the idea for this book came into my mind. I sprung up from my bed and wrote all that I could think of at that moment in a note on my phone. If you are a writer or artist, you know that when creativity strikes, you take full advantage of it, no matter how late at night it is.

But having an idea is not enough, there are plenty of book ideas I have that started just like that, but I never did anything with them.

After coming up with the idea this time, I showed my writing critique group. They thought it was the best idea from the book ideas I have shared with them, so I decided to stick with it.

So, I wrote an outline. Though I updated that outline many times, it was very helpful to have it when I had writer’s block.

I learned a few things from writing this novel:

  1. I never knew how much blood, sweat, and tears would actually go into the making of a novel. I mean that figuratively and literally. It takes a lot of time, energy, and emotion. I poured my whole self into this novel and the characters, but I was lucky to have a writing critique group to aid me and keep me motivated along the way.
  2. Writing a book is a long journey. There were times I didn’t want to write. There were times when I had writer’s block, but I had to keep pushing myself. I would not let myself forget the reason I started writing in the first place or the reason this novel is so important. I believe my novel will help many women and resonate with many people.
  3. When I finished writing the novel, the work was not done. I had to find beta readers (aside from my writer critique group) and a professional editor.  I know that I did hire a professional editor, which not all authors do before finding a publisher, but I did that because I wanted to try to make this book as perfect as possible and that really helped me in the long run.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I look forward to keeping you posted on more updates on my debut novel After She Said Yes!

Follow Kaya on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook to follow her writing.