MuslimStories.Net is Seeking Writers to write inspirational essays, Islamic fiction, and other material for publication.

As-salamu Alaykum (peace be upon you), and welcome to the blog. I hope it will be a great resource for Muslim writers. My intention is to post information about markets for publishing your work, trends in Muslim publishing and other items of interest to Muslim writers. Feel free to leave comments and suggestions on how to make this blog useful.


Monday, March 4, 2013

To Allah We Belong, and To Allah We Return

Some of you may recognize the woman in the picture accompanying this post as Sister Jamilah Kolocotronis, author of the Echoes series of Islamic novels. Sadly, Sr. Jamilah passed away on January 12, 2013 after a long battle with cancer and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). Sr. Jamilah was a devoted mother to six boys, and, if you visit her old webpage, you will see a picture of her lovely family as well.

Sr. Jamilah was a great author, masha’Allah, and an even better friend. I had the pleasure of getting to know her on a deeper level when I edited her novel Ripples. We had many interesting exchanges about her characters and the scenes in her book. Over the years, she also helped me out whenever I needed to interview a Muslim woman for various freelance articles I was writing. I once shared her novels with a close friend who hungrily devoured them one after another, saying that she wished Sr. Jamilah would write faster so she didn’t have to wait so long to find out what happened next in the Echoes series.

Sr. Jamilah had several unique qualities that I really liked. First of all, she was both gentle and humble and never displayed an ounce of arrogance when it came to her work. She had excellent manners and talked about her family frequently. You could tell that she loved her children immensely and cared deeply about their upbringing. She was an independent thinker who hated oppression and cruelty and always stood up for justice. Above all, she had strong faith and used her literary talent to share it with others. Being ill sometimes slowed her down, but it never stopped her, and this is something I greatly admired.

Sr. Jamilah and I lost touch for a while, until December 2012, when I wrote to her regarding a project I thought she might be interested in. She was supposed to send me some files but never did. I waited, not wanting to bother her. Then I suddenly heard that her illness had escalated to the point that she had been placed under hospice care. I wrote her another e-mail, only to hear the next evening that she had finally returned to Allah. With a heavy heart, I closed the laptop and put my head down as I remembered all the ways in which Sr. Jamilah had touched my life. Mostly, though, I could only think about her family and how they would be affected by this turn of events.

It’s taken me more than a month to write about the unexpected loss of such a dear sister. Please make dua for Sr. Jamilah and her family. May Allah SWT shower her with mercy and make her work a form of sadaqah jariyah.

Did you know Sr. Jamilah?

Share your memories in the comments section.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Essay Competition: The Teacher Who Changed My Life

Azizah Magazine is partnering with New America Media (NAM) and other media partners in Atlanta, GA to organize an essay contest to honor teachers.

If you are a resident of Atlanta or its surrounding counties, you can enter the competition in one of the following categories:

1) Teenagers between 14 to 18 years old: Write about a teacher, who is not your relative, who teaches in public or private school in the city of Atlanta or surrounding counties.

Awards of $500 to both the winner and the teacher profiled.

2) Adults 19 years of age and older: Write about a teacher, who is not your relative, who teaches in public or private school in the city of Atlanta or surrounding counties who have changed your life or the life of your child.

Awards of $500 to both the winner and the teacher profiled.

3) Teachers in Memory: Write about a teacher, who is not your relative, who might have passed away or lost contact with, or a teacher who taught you in your home country.

$500 awarded to local school of winner's choice.

Essays can be up to 500 words and must be submitted by January 14, 2013.

Continue reading here for more details and official contest rules.

Write about Muslims for Secular Markets

If you’ve ever wanted to write about Islamic topics, you may have thought that the only way to do so would be to have your work published in Muslim magazines and newspapers. In fact, there are many ways to write about Islam and Muslims for a secular audience as well. One of the easiest ways is to write a profile of a Muslim who is doing something interesting or noteworthy in his or her community.

As I point out on my other blog (Markets for Writers), numerous magazines are seeking profiles to grace their pages each month. Depending on the focus of the magazine, they may need profiles of business owners, artists, athletes, environmentalists, chefs, politicians, activists, writers, extraordinary women, and so on.

There is really no end to a magazine’s eternal need for engaging profiles, and there is no reason why these profiles cannot feature Muslims.

In fact, the Muslim “hook” may be something that actually generates increased interest in your article.

This is particularly true when it comes to profiles of Muslim women. Stereotypes still prevail, and most people do not necessarily expect to see a veiled Muslim woman who is a business owner or athlete, so they are naturally attracted to such topics.

But there are lots of other interesting tidbits about Muslims that can be incorporated into such articles as well. How do the Muslims you are writing about blend faith with their work or other activities, especially when it comes to prayer, fasting, or possible conflicts (such as the need to shake hands with the opposite sex in a Western business setting)? How has Islam shaped their views on various issues, like financial dealings, artistic expression, animal rights, food, or the environment? What is the role of family in their lives? Why did they embrace Islam (if they converted later in life)?

Obviously, each Muslim will be different, and the idea is not to get a unified “Muslim” answer. The article should not necessarily focus on Islam, either. You want to stick to the subject at hand, which could be anything from business to sailing the Pacific. It is not a sermon, and you should avoid preaching at all costs. It is a profile, though, so you don’t want to ignore the most important thing in this person’s life, which, for many Muslims, is faith.

When people read about Muslims in their favorite magazines, this will help them see that Muslims are basically regular people who have many of the same interests and goals that they do. A well-written article may even spark someone’s interest in Islam.

Have you ever written about Muslims for a non-Muslim audience? Tell us about it by leaving a comment below.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The “Secret” is in Your Hands

A lot of you probably remember the 2006 book The Secret. According to the author, the so-called “secret” to increased wealth, health, and happiness is based upon the supposed Law of Attraction, which has to do with projecting positive vibes in order to attract good things to your life.
 
Although I am a big believer in positive thinking (negativity never takes you anywhere good), I believe that the Muslim recipe for attracting wealth better nourishes the soul, leaving one content no matter the outcome.
 
A recent post of mine on my other blog (Markets for Writers) discusses the kind of income one can potentially earn by writing solely for markets that pay 10 cents per word. I suggest that $2,000 is an achievable goal if you are able to write in the neighborhood of 5,000 words per week.
 
In other words, $100 per day, 5 days per week, hopefully giving you plenty of time to relax on the weekends.
 
For many people, this may seem like a large amount of money, especially if you have ever been sucked into writing cheap content for $5 or $10 per article.
 
In fact, $2,000 per month is what I would consider a starting point…the minimum you should strive for if you are able to follow a particular formula that I will, insha’Allah, discuss in more detail in future posts. As many of you already know, it is not the actual writing that usually takes the most time. It is the research and planning that goes into an article as well as the time it takes you to actually procure a paying assignment. In order for you to succeed as a freelance magazine writer, your articles must provide real value to the reader. These days, anyone can go on-line and Google whatever interests them, and magazines do not want articles that simply regurgitate what any regular person can find on Wikipedia.
 
Although I regularly set income goals for myself and encourage others to do the same, I always like to keep in mind that it is Allah SWT who is Ar-Razzaq (The Sustainer, The Provider). For me personally, this means striving to do my best while not stressing too much when things turn out differently than I plan or anticipate.
 
Perhaps the real “secret,” then, is knowing that, whatever happens, it’s all good.
 
The Prophet (PBUH) said: “How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for all of it is good, and this applies to no one except the believer. If something good happens to him, he gives thanks and that is good for him, and if something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience, and he will be rewarded for that, so everything that Allah has decreed for the Muslim is good.” (Sahih Muslim)
 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Catching Up...

Hard to believe it's been almost a year since I last posted on this blog. As much as I have missed the interaction here, I had to take a break from blogging in order to meet all of my writing and translation deadlines. Alhumdulellah, my freelance business has really taken off over the past year. I have been doing a lot of translation work and have also been working on numerous projects that I find personally fulfilling. As I told my kids the other day, I hope never to retire from writing, editing, and translation. The feeling of accomplishment that comes from producing something creative is a feeling that is hard to beat.

Thank you to all my readers who kept this blog on the Writer's Digest list of the 101 Best Websites for Writers for the fifth year in a row. More that 4,000 websites and blogs were nominated in 2012, so it is a real honor to be included on this list.

I received a record-number of writing questions via e-mail this year. Due to serious time constraints, however, I was not able to answer more than a small handful. Insha'Allah I will do my best to sort through these in the near future.

One of the most common questions I receive is how one can earn a living writing. With this in mind, I have written a new e-book (my first, actually). 50 Markets that Pay Freelance Writers 10 Cents per Word is available via Amazon.com. Although it is a Kindle e-book, you do not actually have to own a Kindle device in order to download and read the book. You do, however, need a Kindle app, which can be downloaded for free. The free app will allow you to download and read Kindle e-books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

As the title implies, the e-book identifies 50 markets that pay freelance writers 10 cents per word. Included are guidelines and contact information for 50 magazines, newspapers, websites, and e-zines in a wide variety of genres - everything from sports, travel, and politics to parenting, frugal living, animals, green living, and more. Many of the editors of these publications have stated that they are open to working with new writers, and that they will even help writers polish their writing in some cases. So, if you want to earn money writing for magazines, my hope is that this guide will make a handy reference tool that will motivate you to send your stuff out and take risks with your writing. In my experience, 10 cents per word is a pretty good price-point at which to get started and very doable for new writers.

In future posts, I will explain more about the query process and what it generally takes to get an article accepted. To this end, you may wish to check out my new blog (Markets for Writers), which is intended for a general audience. I will, of course, continue to post here in order to discuss issues of relevance to Muslim writers.

By the way, I am still seeking stories of DUA that came true for publication in a book. Please read the guidelines, and send your stories to amel.abdullah{at}yahoo.com.

What have you been up to lately? Please leave a comment below.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Writers Needed at Nia Prima

Nia Prima is seeking writers to cover topics of interest to Muslim women.

This is a non-paying opportunity.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Editor Sought for 100-page Report

This ad seeks an editor for a 100-page report "on the foods that used to be a medium of exchange (money) in the past." Among other things, the report contains Islamic religious material, including sections on usury from an Islamic standpoint.

If interested in this job, continue reading here.
This blog is maintained by Amel Abdullah, a freelance writer, editor, and Arabic to English translator.