Saturday, January 16, 2010

Writing for Women with a Cause

Rural Champion Moms Unite! Contest 2010 is organised by eHomemakers in collaboration with Nestle Malaysia Berhad.

What you have to do: Nominate a mother who is committed to understanding and responding to the needs of rural people. Write a 600 word essay to acknowledge her work.

What you will win: It doesn't say on the brochure.

The deadline: March 31, 2010.

For more information on eligibility and criteria: Click here.

Email your nomination to:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Reading Islam is Looking for Writers

If you want to join one of the most prominent da'wa based websites, you can write for Islam Online (IOL). More specifically, Reading Islam, a subset of IOL is in need of writers. This is a paying market and you can contact them here. Below are the guidelines.


Reading Islam invites you to be a part of the team. Should you be interested to write for Reading Islam, send us an email (via the Contact Us page). We will be contacting you as soon as we receive your mail. Expect to be asked for a sample of your writing as well as an updated CV.

Payment for writing is available and negotiated with the editors after acceptance of the article or the proposal sent.

Copyright Issues

Reading Islam expects writers to submit original material. If the material submitted to Reading Islam has been published elsewhere, please make that clear on submission.

Republication of material is allowed only after permission has been given by both the writer and Reading Islam. The website respects the rights of writers to protect their work and will not give other media outlets the right to republish material until permission is sought from the writer.

All republished material should contain a clear reference to Reading Islam as the first publisher.

Editorial Guidelines

1. Writer should be as clear as possible so as not to leave room for misunderstanding.

2. Writer should not attack or propagate any group's ideology. Should remain as objective as possible regarding the different sects/groups within Islam.

3. Writer should uphold proper manners while discussing areas of contention.

4. Writer should not be insulting towards anyone regardless of religion, sex, race, or nationality.

5. Writer should respect all peoples, regardless of their background, who strive to implement the human values that Islam endorses.

6. The length of the article should be between 1000 - 1500 words.

Avoiding Plagiarism

Attribute all information you get from other sources to those sources, whether they be a person, a web site or another publication. Footnotes or source listings are to be used to reference information used in the article as follows:

Book citations

Author. Title, edition. (place of publication, publisher, year), page numbers

For periodicals: journals, magazines, newspapers, reviews, etc.

Author. 'Title of the article'. Title of the periodical or its accepted abbreviation, date, volume (part number of the issue in which it appears) page numbers

For online material

Author or authoring organization, document date or date of last revision, 'Title of the Document', Title of the complete work if any. (The title of the document should be hyperlinked to the original online source). The date the document was last accessed at.


I write for Reading Islam and mashaallah it's a great writing experience. Other writers have also said the same.

Muslim Writers Awards Accepting Submissions

This is a great network to join if you are in the UK and love the fine arts, especially writing. Muslim Writers Awards accepts publications from fiction to published journalism.

If you feel your work warrants recognition and support, there is no harm in looking into submitting to the MWA. It looks like plenty of writers have benefited from their support and programmes.

They also have plenty of programmes designed to cater to those who want to pursue writing as careers or as an important leisure outlet. It is also a good place to network with potential publishers, agents and more experienced writers.
I wish I was in the UK.

Monday, January 11, 2010

I LOVE Passive Income

Who doesn't? Who wouldn't?

Many writers aspire to write, and only write - and that their writing will be able to support their living. A few writers achieve this - those very successful writers who really make their names in their respective niches. I would like to be one of those.

Who wouldn't? Who doesn't?

Anyhow, baby steps of passive income can help realise this dream. My main source of passive income has come from Suite 101. Suite 101 is a content mill that pays perpetual residual income to their writers based on page views and their adsense revenue.

You can literally write what you like, when you like. The "how" is a little complicated, because they have strict guidelines as to the structure, wordcount, word density, etc. But if you follow their informative tutorials, you will learn great tips on how to drive traffic to your articles.

So, in a nutshell - the more, better quality articles you have published with them, the higher your passive income. Maybe you will only earn USD20 per month in the beginning, but it's USD20 more than nothing. Who knows, in a while you may chucking away 20 big G's a month - cetainly gives leeway to concentrate on other things besides work.

[I just received my monthly passive income from them. That's why I'm sharing.] Write for Suite 101, it's a good learning experience.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Screen Animation Writers in the UK

I just could not resist this opportunity to post.

Fine Media Children, a company based in London, the UK, are pooling a team of screenwriters who are fluent in English, creative and dedicated to telling the story of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). They are only looking for writers based in the UK.

The project involves writing one whole season: 30 episodes @ 26 minutes per episode. Experienced writers are preferred. Writers are expected to work in a team and focus on da'wa work throughout the writing of the animation series. This is a paying job.

If you are interested, contact / send your CV in to Hisham Muhra ( now as they are apparently starting interview next week.

Mashaallah what an opportunity. I wish I was in the UK.

Friday, January 8, 2010

When an Article gets Rejected

One of my editors bumped out an article I wrote for their weekly publication today. It is a good thing that it happened now rather than later. It was actually my fault, as I had written here, that I would stay out of politics. That is another reminder to myself: stay out of politics, again.

As a rebound, I have tendered the same article to another publication to see if there is a match. I'll have to make a few amendments to meet the readership there but it will be worth it if it gets accepted.

Freelancing requires one to make the best of every hour spent working. The trade off has to be close to perfect, in order to reduce time wasted on assignments that will not generate revenue. This is especially true for those who have very limited time to spend at the writing desk, like me.

The first step after a rejection - I have learned - is to move on to other options immediately. Unless the piece is timeless, obsolescence is news' biggest enemy - unless you can come up with a different spin of a new flavour.

And after moving on to other options, move ON. Get cracking on the next big idea, the next great project or the next weekly assignment. A rejection is not the end of the world - it provides an opportunity for better focus, especially after learning from that one mistake.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Writing Resumes, Borrowing Resumes

In the past week, I have had two requests for my resume from sisters who were looking into compiling their own. I think I enjoyed writing resumes some years back and well, a practiced skill becomes a fabulous one, especially when you're job-hopping all over the place right out of graduation. You just have to keep your resume updated to the T. All job-hungry, satisfaction-searching graduates know that, and I was definitely one of them.

Alhamdulillah, nearly four years down the line the job-hopping stopped, but unfortunately, so has my resume writing - and I feel the skills needed in composing the most basic document are also deteriorating quickly.

I just handed over my resumes to the two sisters without much advice as to how to write or even improve theirs. It's a shame and I feel bad. I should find the time to do so, because there is no one single way to represent each and every unique person with different qualifications, skills and interests on a single piece of paper.
Even when I was writing resumes for friends earlier in the decade, I would "change" the voice of the document to represent them. All of them got to the job interview - note, job INTERVIEW and not necessarily the job. Only one of them never did have any potential employers call her back, and that was her fault for taking my original resume and changing the name ONLY. Yeah, you know who you are....

Anyway, luckily there are mountains and valleys worth of templates and free softwares to do the nitty-gritty self-marketing for job-hunters nowadays. So it does make life a lot more easier, though I would still emphasise on the uniqueness of each individual.
I should write another post on resume writing, because it is really interesting, and all this talk about resumes is bringing back teary memories. Hmmm, sort of.

In the end, it really is more than just copying off someone else's employment and education history. I remember a friend who customised one resume per application, just to be safe and to "speak" directly to this potential employer. Me thinks he had OCD. But it certainly worked out well for him.
I too had a few samples that were used for different markets and jobs - it was a cover to ensure that my resume wasn't just a simple piece of paper I was sending out. But one that was well thought-for and one that represented my abilities in that particular field.

Well, much like resumes are "kept-in-view," this post is a self-reminder to elaborate a little more on writing resumes. As it can also turn into writing opportunities for some writers. Job-hopping experience is not necessarily needed.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Muslim Writing Resources all on one Blog

It has been a while since I have visited Muslim Writers by Amel Abdullah, who was actually the first editor I wrote for. She later started Muslim Writers and mashaallah, it was one of the blogs I visited the most (during the first year of my writing venture), especially for its extensive list of paying and non-paying markets of Muslim publications. This was what I was aiming for, since I saw my interest in writing a way for subtle da'wa work, making up for my general lack of da'wa work in the other ambits of my life.

Anyway, the blog evolved over the time I visited, and now there are jobs of all shapes and sizes and all sorts of other writing opportunities. Whether you write for leisure or for hard-core income, whether it is fiction or not, technical or poetry; whether you are Muslim or not, Muslim Writers is a gold-mine of writing resources that will make your writing career all that more fulfilling.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Ticked Off

Admin backlog is inevitable for freelancers. Emails, invoices, follow-ups - the list in general can be difficult to keep up with, especially when working alone.

The easiest way to keep on top of work is to write things down. Sounds like a no-brainer? It is! But it is possible to not do it, especially when multi-tasking and in between non-related work chores.

But use a list anyway, whether through an expensive software, Excel, a fancy phone or by a free corporate journal (which is what I use), make a to-do list of what needs to be done and keep it updated every single day.

There is no satisfaction like ticking off tasks, even the most mundane. With every tick, freelancing management gets a little better.

Free Editing, Proofreading and Consultation for Writers

For new writers who need some help, Al-Haqq provides free editing, proofreading and consultation for your work. FREE? In a world where nothing is free, this is great resource for those who need that extra vote of confidence.

Check out the website, and if this is something you need, you are not wasting anything by emailing them.
They even have networks with publishers... so, that book that has been gathering dust in your PC... get it out there and contact Al-Haqq. I'm sure they could at least point you in the right direction.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Whitmore Publishing for Book Authors

I stumbled upon Whitmore Publishing by chance and haven't gotten a chance to read up on it. But on the surface it looks like an option for book authors who do not have a large sum of money to engage with agents / agencies / publishers. It says on the site that "joining" Whitmore is free and royalties are earned henceforth.

If writing a book is one of your writing goals, this may be a very attractive option in getting your work published. But just ensure you have read all terms and conditions and asked them to clarify any ambiguities that you find along the way.

It's Funny

I mostly write for magazines, so I scour the net for magazines of interest from time to time and look up the writers' guidelines, since that's the easiest way to google. Normally writer guidelines would be extremely comprehensive, covering details from the wordcount, topic, by-line, rights, acceptance / rejection rates and the magazines' working timelines when it comes to submissions. Very rarely do magazines list out the writing rates or payments. Generally these are the non-paying markets.

I understand that there are plenty of non-profit publications that need writing contributors. But some publications follow the standard business model and still refuse to pay writers. It's funny as much as unfortunate that there are magazines that feel that writers are not valuable or important enough to be compensated for their expertise.

Once I wrote in to a publication, as I was enticed by their "JOBS" page. I clicked on it and there was a list of posts that needed to be filled. WRITERS was at the top. Wow, I thought, a magazine that values writers, mashaallah. The job post and description for WRITERS, was followed by layout editor, graphic designers, HR admin, finance executive, and another few, (I'm recalling from memory as that was a few years back).

I wrote in immediately to the editor as this magazine caught my interest and the editor wrote back immediately too - just as enthused. Unfortunately, after the pleasantaries, the editor eloquently explained that "the writing posts are non-paying positions, as we do not have enough funds to compensate writers."

I was bewildered and wrote back asking if the other posts warranted compensation. Yes, he said, all of the other jobs are paying jobs.

I get it. You need to pay graphic editors and finance administrative in order to run a business. But the writers? Wait, what do writers do that make them so unimportant. If they can just be discarded, as they are so irrelevant, then remove writers from working for that magazine all together. See what happens then.

It's funny but sad and I can only imagine that it builds to the frustration of other writers too. We have all gotten the "writers should write out of their passion and not for their need of worldly incentives," (aka, income). Sorry, writing is my income and as much as I try to participate in charity through my work, I still need to look for paying jobs. Writing for free can be fun but not having an income is not all that funny.

Fighting the Deadbeat through Freelancing

One of the advantages of freelancing is being able to fight of the drone of the deadbeat. In the corporate world where tasks quickly become daily and mundane, it is easy to lose one's self in the irksome obligations of work, quickly forgetting that there is a world beyond the office. Not all jobs are as dynamic and interesting, and especially if the job does not fit one's interest or fuels one's passion, it is very easy to spiral down into deadbeat mode on a job.

Freelancing is different. Very rarely do freelancers find themselves in long term contracts that promise a steady income. So freelancers are always on the clock, looking out for new opportunities, which inevitably lead them to learn something new.

However, as and when the opportunity to earn a steady income arises, it is often accepted, but with wariness, as freelancing is dynamic and requires continuous adaptation to change. Even with medium to long-term contracts, freelancing requires proactiveness in searching for new jobs, looking up new projects and networking with new people. It cancels out deadbeat phases that occur between jobs or after lucrative contracts are terminated and this can happen for a variety of reasons.

And because the choice to freelance usually stems from one's passion, it is difficult to "get bored." After all, another advantage of freelancing is to expand one's portfolio into different areas in search of new interests and skills. If freelancers are caught in a deadbeat between projects, then there is trouble brewing. Freelancing might just not be right for him or her. Quiet moments between jobs always poses small opportunities, even if it is as simple as starting a blog or picking up a new hobby. Freelancing is full of options, ranging from time-management flexibility to portfolio expansion, and that is definitely the way to go in fighting off the deadbeat.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Three Years and Counting

I can't believe it has actually been three years since I left my job and started my career in writing. Alhamdulillah it has been working out well so far. Every time I feel like I have to audition for Desperate Housewives, faith stops me from throwing in the towel and I am back in the groove of writing again.

This year it is a new curve ball all together. Forward is restructuring, leaving me to wait for their new and improved brand. I can only imagine that it will be awesome and can't wait and to start writing and editing for them again (inshaallah if the opportunities still exist). On the other hand, it has freed up some of my time to look into my other projects and widen my opportunity scope.

It is always good to look at goals. Whether it is annually or intermittently throughout the year. Setting goals means that we are looking towards a positive career path for the given time-frame. Whether or not we achieved them is another matter, but believing that the freelancing route is possible, and when a freelancer believes something is possible, a freelancer is being positive.

A positive outlook is a must and somehow keeping positive has helped build my self-confidence in my career. So much so that my confidence seems to bounce of computer screens and into the homes of others.

Ever since I started writing I have received an array of emails, ranging from: I WANNA BE JUST LIKE YOU and SIS, COULD YOU PLEASE DO MY HISTORY AND CIVILISATION ASSIGNMENT? The latter is funnier although both of humorous on multiple levels. I often receive a follow up too. SO DID YOU DO IT? I NEED IT SOON! MY DEADLINE IS NEXT WEEK! PLEASE HURRY. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE. Heh heh, honestly.

Well until everything else irons out, I will be blogging and plan to look at another book project I am working on. Ad hoc projects are always welcome and I would be lying to say I never look out for them. I'm an eagle when it comes to freelancing. Always circling - or are those vultures? An eagle sounds far nicer.

What I will not be doing are those assignments, English, History - any humanity, no matter how funny those emails are. And of course, I won't be throwing in the towel, as long as Allah wills and neither will I be auditioning for Desperate Housewives.