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#BlackMuslimWriters: Shaheda Richardson Feature


In continuing with our #BlackMuslimWriters campaign, we spotlight writer and poet Shaheda Richardson. She shares a sampling of her captivating writing with us and some of her background as well.

Q: Please tell us a little bit about yourself. 

SR: My name is Shaheda Richardson. I have studied English Literature at North Carolina Central University. Throughout my life I have been avid reader, and an advocate for literacy. I currently write for my own blog ‘Reading The Diaspora’ and am working on a book of short stories, and a novel.

Q: Why do you believe writing is so important in our current climate and why is telling your story necessary? 

SR: As creative people, we have the unique ability to defy what may confine us, and advance humanity through the efforts of our minds, and our pens. Throughout our history, African Americans have used artistic expression to expand our culture beyond the oppressive circumstances we have been subjected to. We have written our stories, and our poems, and our songs in defiance of that which has sought to stifle us. Writing has expanded our voice, experience, and influence beyond the chains of chattel slavery, the subjugation of repressive laws, and this current climate of resurrected bigotry. Those of us who belong to both the family of African-descended people in the United States, and the global family of those who proclaim “There is No God but Allah”, have a unique opportunity. I would consider it a personal responsibility.

We must expand our voices further in this climate of growing racism and xenophobia. I cannot alter history with my words, but I can shift attitudes, and appeal to the best of what is within us. This is as our tradition, to speak to, and for those oppressed among us. As Muslims, it is a divine command from God, as African Americans, it is our legacy, and repayment for the sacrifices of our ancestors.  As writers, we can use our talents to illuminate what is most beautiful about us, as well as the challenges we seek to overcome.  This is our power, it is what dignifies us, and what advances the whole of us into greater enlightenment.

A sampling of Shaheda’s work: 


For Nabra Hassenen (2017)
For Abeer Qassim Hamza Al-Janabi (2006)
For Rekia Boyd (2012)
For Mary Turner (1917)


Do Not teach your daughters how to run away,

Or look over their shoulders,

Do not teach them to watch their backs, or peak through fingers

Order them to Raise their gaze, About-face, and Square off

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Sakeena is a freelance writer, author, and founder of the Muslim Writers and Publishers Association. Her dream is to help Muslim writers share their stories with the world. She is currently working on a memoir and preparing for the launch of MWPA.

How to Write Memorable Characters

How to Write Memorable Characters


The shadow of a story in your mind, you sit down and begin to write.

Too soon however, you are stumped and your mind wanders in circles. Your hero just cannot seem to find their footing in your story. Your dialogue is stale, your story becomes stagnant.

What happened?

Chances are, even with a fleshed-out plot, if your characters are not motivated, unique, flawed, and dynamic, your story will fall flat. Your readers will fall out of love with even the most deliberately crafted prose.

To keep readers engaged, create characters that are memorable and three dimensional, from protagonist and villain to sidekick and supporting character.

Follow this guide to create characters that are human, believable, and worth rooting (and reading) for.

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Amani Marie Hamed is a Muslim-feminist film critic/blogger, in addition to being a professional cat-snuggler with a crippling chocolate addiction. Amani lives and works in San Jose, California (mostly watching Netflix and pitching social justice-laced movie reviews to online magazines) with her brothers and her cat/feline overlord, Kirin.

Word Count Woes? How to Break Out of the 'Content Mill' Mindset

Word Count Woes? How to Break Out of the ‘Content Mill’ Mindset


The topic of rates for article writing and copy-writing came up in a networking group I’m in and it really got me thinking (AKA riled up!)

Hear me out.

I want to address something for all those who are struggling as freelance writers and working to find their place on the scale that is FREELANCE PAY RATES (capitalized because I want you to read that in a loud announcer voice in your head!)

The group was discussing whether $.01 per word is a reasonable rate for an article that needs intense research and development. 

I really wish we could, collectively as writers and publishers, get off this “per word” rate merry-go-round. It is, quite frankly, complete nonsense! 

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Janet Kozak is the Community Manager for Noor Kids as well as the Founder of and Her passion is Content Marketing. Janet helps businesses and bloggers craft PR and Content Marketing strategies for their brands.

Janet’s bylined articles are featured in dozens of print and online publications including; About Islam, Al Jumuah, Islamic Horizons, The Islamic Monthly, Productive Muslim, SISTERS Magazine, and Women’s INC. She’s also been interviewed for The Huffington Post, Glassdoor, Work At Home Success, My Corporation, The New York Public Library, and NBC News.