Attitude is Everything

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. As we’re all fresh off the Oscar train from last night (if you watched it), today’s post is about attitude.

Last night, Anne Hathaway and James Franco hosted. I was looking forward to a great show. Unfortunately, there were moments were the jokes went flat leaving me saying, ‘huh?” Hathaway was funny, quirky, even weird at times, but she seemed to be having as much fun as possible.

I love James Franco in his movies, but during the Oscars, he fell flat. He didn’t seem to connect with the viewers and I could tell that he was thinking about the names of the presenters on the show. He seemed to be reminding himself of the names so he wouldn’t forget. He also seemed to be too serious to the point where the funny moments were unfunny.

What does this have to do with you Freshman Writers? The problems that Franco experienced are the same ones that writers do in presenting their work.

An editor can look at a query letter, article or blogpost and KNOW that a writer is nervous, insecure and unsure of him or herself. What gives a writer away? The tone of the piece, lack of details and even a lack of enjoyment in writing. Franco showed all of us that attitude is everything and his left me feeling that he could’ve easily stayed home and let Hathaway do the job by herself.

Before applying for a writing job or sending out that query letter, Freshman Writers, have someone look at the piece for you. If you don’t have a proofreader, let it sit before you revisit the piece. Read it as a reader, highlighting the good and the bad. Then tweak the piece to show your best self. Let the editor see your strengths and enjoyment of writing.

More than anything, your attitude reflects how you feel about yourself as a writer and your work is a key example of that. Let the best of you shine!

Happy Writing!

National Life Writing Month

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is about National Life Writing Month. Not only do we have turkey and Nanowrimo going on in November, we also have life writing.

What the heck is life writing anyway? From my searches online, I’ve found that life writing is about autobiographies, biographies and memoirs. Really, anything having to do with sharing personal narratives through the written word.

It’s funny that I’m writing this on the heels of the release of Mark Twain’s autobiography and my decision to put it on my wish list for Christmas. I’m intrigued to read about the life of a man who’s touched so many people with his written works.

And even funnier that I write this after beginning a poem yesterday about being the daughter of immigrants. I’d been thinking of writing about my life as a child speaking Spanish at home and English everywhere else. It’s not a memoir or autobiography, but the poem is a look at my childhood as an interpreter/tutor/bilingual child.

So Freshman Writers, today’s prompt in celebration of National Life Writing Month is to write anything based on your personal life. If you’ve started a piece already, try expanding it or start a new one. For those of you who may be reluctant, try writing in a journal. Feel free to keep it for your eyes only so that you can be as open as possible.

Happy Writing!

A Hiatus

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing.

I’m writing briefly to say that I’m taking the rest of June off and hope to start-up again in July. Work and home issues need my full attention for a while. That and I need to get plenty of rest since I’ve been highly overworked and stressed.

Make sure to read past posts here and to take care of yourselves, Freshman Writers.

Happy Writing!

Today is National Day on Writing

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. I received my newsletter from the National Association of Memoir Writers this morning and found out that today is the first ever National Day on Writing as designated by Congress.

Writing is such an important part of everyday life, whether you’re sending a handwritten letter to your parents or an email to a colleague.

So your challenge for the National Day on Writing – share why you like to write. What draws you to the writing process?

Happy Writing!

Writing a Tribute

Hello Freshman Writers. Today’s post begins on a sad note as Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon have all passed this week.

When someone passes away loved ones gather to say goodbye to the person remembering different things about them. So, today’s exercise is on writing a tribute. You can check your daily newspaper’s obituary section to find samples of tributes to those who’ve gone ahead of us. You can also do a search for tributes as well.

Tributes can be in the form of an essay, letter or song. It could be a poem, too. Really the point is to share your feelings about the person and say your goodbye.

Below is a tribute I wrote when my former pastor died about a year and a half ago. It was published in the Letters to the Editor section of Catholic New York.

A Holy Presence

My name is Heiddi Zalamar and I’m currently a parishioner of St. John Chrysostom Church.
Up until nine years ago, I was a life-long member at St. Athanasius Church. I’m also a
graduate of St. Athanasius Elementary where my six year old is now a student.
Our family life has been blessed by Fr. Smith’s presence. From my first communion until
now, Fr. Smith has been an integral part of my church life. He was an amazing friend and
priest who dedicated himself to the people around the community. When my mother passed
away five years ago, Fr. Smith officiated the funeral mass. I realized how much he loved
my family when he cried during her eulogy. It was then that I knew what his love was for
my family and, indeed, the love he carried in his heart for our community. What I’ll miss
most about his is his wonderful singing voice. His voice touched my heart and his
homilies lifted my spirits. With every homily, Fr. Smith helped me connect the teachings
of the church to my life; to help me connect with God. 
During his funeral mass last Wednesday, I was overwhelmed with the love I felt for him as
well as that of my fellow parishioners.

Now that you’ve seen one take on the tribute, pick someone special in your life. Tributes aren’t just for those who’ve passed on, but also for the people we have in our lives. Write a poem for your mom, a song for your child or a love letter to your spouse. Write a special tribute to the one you love!

Happy Writing!

Boston Globe reaches a deal with Newspaper writers!

According to the Associated Press, The New York Times Company (owner of the Boston Globe) and the Newspaper Guil (largest union in the country) have tentatively reached an agreement that would keep the Boston Globe running and writers working.

For now, the 137-year-old newspaper will keep its doors open and writers employed.


Exclusive Content no more

Hello Freshman Writers. Some breaking news today. This morning on 1010 WINS, I heard that five newspapers will now share content including articles and pictures. After doing a bit of research, I found an article on that shows three of the papers are based in New York and two others in New Jersey.

What does this mean for writers? It means stepping up your game. For newspaper writers, it means less pay for the same work. I don’t know how I’d feel abut receiving a flat rate payment for an article that will be shared with four other newspapers. Granted, two are in another state and two are upstate (only one here in the city). But, the challenge for writers now is to make ourselves even more appealing to editors.

Just something for you Freshman Writers to think about.

Breaking News for Writers

Breaking news for writers – 1010 WINS News made an announcement this morning that the Christian Science Monitor will no longer be producing a print edition due to effects of the economy. A newsstand owner interviewed on 1010 WINS stated that people just aren’t buying print newspapers anymore.

According to Jon Fine’s article in BusinessWeek, The Monitor  is a Boston-based independent publication funded by the Christian Science Church that will be scaling back from a daily to a weekly publication next April.

What does this mean for writers? It means that the chances of getting published in print will decrease as the Monitor scales back. It also means that many other publications may go from print and on-line to on-line only editions. You’ll still be able to see your name published, but only by going on-line.

While this is glum for us writers, it doesn’t mean that we won’t get our shot. It means that we writers have to work harder to succeed in getting our articles, essays, etc out there for people to read.  So writers, how will you stand out?