Behind Picket Fences exposes four families from behind their comfortable lifestyles and smiling faces. Sharing the same neighborhood, even spending time together, no family knows the truth about the difficulties the others face.
On the outside, Sidra and Farris have the biggest house and the most expensive cars. What no one sees is their struggle to accept an unfulfilled dream. If they do not adapt to the blows of fate, their malcontent may give birth to deception.
Mariam and Morgan’s modest home exudes the rich scent of family. With children playing in the yard, they seem picture perfect. But financial struggle is their continuous battle, and their only solution may produce an envy which is more destructive than hunger.
Summer and Porter enjoy youth and the freedom of self-employment. But discontentment and mental instability linger between them. If they are not able to bridge the gap, their search for happiness may have a fatal end.
May and Hasan enjoy peace and true happiness. Illness cares not, however, of letting them relish in their blessings. Only patience and time will prove if this unwelcome visitor is simply passing by, or if it will tear their world apart.
An honest portrayal of love and family, Behind Picket Fences opens our eyes to the difficult truths hidden behind each happy facade.
At half past six she began to get worried, but told herself to give him fifteen more minutes. “His will be the next car around the turn,” she assured herself. But the passing of more than a few cars and fifteen minutes made her unable to wait any longer. She dialed his number once, with no answer. She hung up and dialed again immediately. The second time, there was an answer.
“Hello?” the woman’s voice said.
The words Summer had been ready to speak got lodged in her throat and she stood there, barely breathing.
“Hello?” the voice repeated, a little louder this time.
Summer’s hand began to shake and a moment later she let the phone drop from her weak fingers. Her breathing became labored and she raised her hand to her chest to soothe the jabbing, but the pain would not cease. Rather, it spread from her heart and ran all through her body. Her legs suddenly became too weak to hold her and she fell seated to the floor.
What a cruel way to tell me, Porter, she thought as the tears streamed down her face. So cruel.
The guilt in her told her she deserved it. She had deceived him in the worst way possible and broken his heart; why wouldn’t he seek comfort in the arms of someone else?
But then why had he agreed to dinner? Simply to get revenge? To make me feel the pain that I had put him through? Really? Why did I let myself get my hopes up? Why did I think he could forgive me? Why did I not expect him to turn to another woman? All the questions ran through her mind as her heavy breathing turned to sobs and she cradled herself, rocking back and forth. Porter had just shattered the last bit of hope she had been clinging to, and broken any remaining pieces of her heart.
The tears flowed for what felt like hours. When they finally stopped, she stood up feeling drained and jaded. Summer cleaned up the kitchen, her body unable to move at its usual pace. She threw the food directly into the garbage instead of putting it away in the fridge; she wanted no reminders of the evening she had expected to have. Carefully, she walked to her bedroom and stepped out of her dress and into a pair of sweat pants and a tank top. Pulling her hair into a tight pony tail, she turned off all the lights in the house, and paused just outside the bathroom. The medicine cabinet seemed to whisper her name.
Writing Tips for New Authors
By Hend Hegazi
Beginning a novel can be a daunting experience. Writers from all positions on the experience spectrum wonder: Am I good enough? Will people find my writing helpful? Will they like it? What if I fail? But if becoming an author is your dream, your goal, then here are six important tips to help quench the doubt and help you on your writing journey.
1. Use the negative. You know that saying ‘you can’t please everyone’? Well this is also true in writing. You will find a few people who love your writing. You will also find some who think your work is just ok. But there will be others who completely hate your work. Get used to this. Negative reviews are part of a writer’s life and you can not allow them to hold you back from your work. When you get negative feedback, step back and take your time to digest it. When the feelings of hurt subside a bit, consider: is this opinion just spiteful, or is there any truth to it? Be honest with yourself because the negative opinions often hold the most important lessons we need to learn. Take in whatever constructive criticism comes your way and use it to improve. This does not mean that there will be no hateful remarks; there will be. But with those, you must learn to brush them off and continue with your work.
2. Play up. When I first joined the tennis team in high school, I was still learning the basics and was not very good. But the coach taught us an important lesson that can apply to so many aspects of life: in order to improve, you must play against those who are better, more skilled than yourself. When you play against a stronger opponent, you up your game…you have to. I improved in tennis with this technique. And I continue to improve in writing using it as well: Play up by reading works that are at a higher level than your own. And when you write, use a dictionary and thesaurus to help expand your vocabulary (but not to the point where your writing no longer captures your voice). Always play up.
3. Live and take notes. You should keep a notebook with you at all times to jot down ideas that come to you or interesting characters that you meet while running errands. Note their mannerisms, speech, clothes. When you take your walk in the woods, keep that notebook close by to capture the crinkling of the dry autumn leaves beneath your boots, and how the sound differs from those leaves that your dog treads upon. Note the smell of the forest and the sounds of the birds chirping, hiding high in the trees, their colors often left to your imagination. Write it down anyway. When you go on vacation and you’re relaxing at the beach or bungie jumping down the canyon, or whatever…take notes. Well, maybe not while you’re bungie jumping, but you get the picture.
4. Own your craft. You need not be published to be a writer. You need no degree, no permission from anyone. You need only to write and to call yourself a writer. Once you make that commitment to yourself, you’ll take your writing more seriously, and you’ll be on the road to a successful writing career. Own it. Call yourself a writer. When someone asks what you do, say, “I’m a writer.” The proclamation will give you the confidence you need to keep moving forward.
5. Commit to your writing time. Like with everything in life, practice is needed for improvement. With the craft of writing, our practice is both writing and reading, but as we’ve already touched on the reading part, let me stress the writing part. I’m not going to tell you that I write every day. But I do plan on writing every day, it is always my intention. It should be your plan as well. Some people journal, others don’t; it doesn’t really matter the form that your writing takes—all that matters is that you do it. Some write their best in the morning, others late at night. Experiment with different times of the day to determine when you are the most productive at writing, then schedule your writing for that time every day.
6. Be the boss of your work. Sometimes editors (or others you meet along your publishing journey) will suggest changes to your manuscript. Often, you will immediately recognize the benefit of the changes and will even feel gratitude to the editor. But sometimes, you won’t agree with the suggestions. Similar to when you receive negative feedback, step back from the piece for a bit and give yourself time to consider the suggestions. Is the editor saying that something in your piece needs clarifying? Is she saying some portion of your piece should be removed completely to make it more succinct? Would that improve it? Consider her suggestions thoroughly. Many times you will be able to use the suggestions, in your own way, to enhance your work. But sometimes, you won’t agree with the editor. That’s perfectly fine. Your work is YOURS. You owe it to your work to carefully consider all suggestions for its improvement, but you also owe it to your work to deny changes that discount your voice, style or message. You’re the boss; never forget that.
Hend Hegazi was born and raised in Southeastern Massachusetts. Despite her desire to pursue writing as a profession, she graduated from Smith College with a degree in biology and a minor in religion. Shortly thereafter, the winds of life and love blew her to Egypt where she has been living for the past 14 years. She is a full time mother of four as well as a freelance writer and editor. Some of her work has been featured in SISTERS Magazine. Her fiction and poetry focus on the human condition, often shedding light on the Muslim American experience. Hend strives to be God-conscious and aims to raise that awareness in her readers. As a common theme in her pieces, the intimate relationship between God-consciousness and love is often explored. Hend’s debut novel, Normal Calm, was published in January 2014.
You can read her poetry and blog posts on her website, www.hendhegazi.com, and follow her on Facebook. For updates on giveaways and special offers, kindly opt-in to her free newsletter at this link.
Both of her novels are available through most major book distributors, or click here to purchase through Amazon: Normal Calm, Behind Picket Fences.
Hend Hegazi will be awarding one copy of Normal Calm and a copy of Behind Picket Fences (U.S. and International) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.