Ruckus Reader is here!

Parents, got an iPad or iPhone? Do your kids hijack your electronics to use apps? In search of apps perfect for your little readers? Look no further than the Ruckus Reader.

Specially made for kids, Ruckus Media offers a variety of apps for young readers through 8 years old.Very user friendly, kids can choose to have the story told to them or read it out loud. Cool graphics, great music and classic stories come to life with the Ruckus Reader. The kids can use the apps over and over again for reading fun!


And that’s not all. Parents, the Ruckus Reader also “gives parents feedback on how their kids are doing and tips on how to help.” It reinforces national educational standards for preschooler through second grade. The Ruckus Reader has been given thumbs up from Daily Candy,, Five Minutes for Mom and Mediabistro. To learn more, check out Ruckus Reader today!

Discovery’s Last Flight (and the remaking of a dream)

Today’s flyover of the world’s most traveled space shuttle marked the end of an era. And has brought me a measure of sadness. Not for the end of the space program as I (and many others) know it, but also an end to something my son hoped for.

When Atlantis flew for the last time, kiddo and I were both very sad. I recalled all of my memories of the space program. Shuttle launches were routine for me. The flights happened regularly and I didn’t think it would come to an end. I remember the Challenger and Columbia tragedies clearly. But, even in the face of these two disasters, I felt it was important for the space program to continue.

Kiddo has said for a very long time how he wants to go to outer space. I’ve long encouraged this goal, especially as he’s shown a great aptitude for science and math. I’ve told him that he can do anything and be anyone he wanted to be –  including an astronaut.

Since the last space mission in July 2011, kiddo and I have been rethinking his goals. He wanted to be an astronaut and physicist. He’s been very consistent on this idea for over a year. What I’ve suggested is that he include his love of space and become an astrophysicist. He’s slowly warming to the idea and I’ve been thinking of ways to keep encouraging his love of space.

So, while shuttle flights have ended, the closing door has allowed us to feel the breeze from the open window. I do believe that kiddo will get to space one day and I will be one very proud mom.

Catching up with myself

This week brought me one major accomplishment – passing my licensing exam. I rarely share it here, but one career goal is to be a licensed professional in my field.  No more waiting for the exam date, no more stressing out over what I know or don’t know and no more darn studying.

I’d been studying for seven months now and felt stuck in other aspects of my life because I was waiting to pass this one exam. I stuck with it because I knew that gaining my licensure would open many doors.  I’m in shock right now that something I set out to do six years ago has finally come to pass.

I realized that this morning as I shared the news with a friend. Six years from the time I started grad school until now. The first thing I wanted to do was sleep because I hadn’t slept well for several nights prior to the exam. To suddenly have the weight of this lifted from my shoulders and see this huge goal achieved has really caused me to stop and reflect on what I want to do next.

Of course, the next step is to find a new dayjob with my shiny, new license (ie better pay and better hours). Then I started thinking of what else I wanted to accomplish because I really can do anything I put my mind to.  So, I thought about my writing.

I’ve felt stunted in the writing process simply because it wasn’t my central focus for the last several months. I still wrote, but not in a planful way because I didn’t make the time for it. My time was for studying and building up my self-confidence for the exam.

I’ve now been doing research on breaking into magazines (yet again), but with small goals in mind. I’m starting with fillers just to get my feet wet. I’m also doing research on effective blogging so that I can grow The Freshman Writer blog as well as to market myself better as a blogger in general.

I can see that my writing talent now is in blogging. Since I know I can blog, why not put my energy into it? Other ways I’m catching up with myself is to focus on things that I love doing – writing, reading and having time to myself. I really missed just being me.

Getting my Supergeek on

Today finds me studying while kiddo’s in karate class. What am I studying for you ask? I’m studying to for my license to practice mental health. I’d pretty much avoided it all week though I read a few case studies to refresh my memory.
After nearly three months of a break (since I failed the last time I tested), it has been hard getting back into Supergeek mode.
I studied for a half hour or so, reading over the study guide and trying to access the info stuck in the farthest reaches of my brain. Lol I solved this by playing Spider Solitaire in the computer room here at the rec center.
I’ve realized that being surrounded by all of this information at work (trying to review case studies there, too) isn’t enough to refresh my memory. I figure that reading until my brain feels fried will be sufficient.
More supergeekiness to follow.

Every Writer needs help

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is based on an article I read on Yahoo about Jane Austen. Turns out that one of the greatest writers ever  – sucked at spelling and grammar.

An Oxford professor read through a little over a thousand of Austen’s hand-written materials and found that Ms. Austen missed the mark on good writing. According to private letters, Austen’s work was edited by William Gifford who gave a polished look to “Emma” and “Persuasion”.

What does this mean for you Freshman Writers? Simple, every writer needs help. You cannot make it in the writing world alone. And the great thing about being on a computer is that you have many resources available to help you get your writing published.

Remember that success comes from hard work, but also from learning. And learning comes from your peers. Make sure to check out other writers online, read writing magazines or network to get connected to someone who can offer you a helping hand.

Happy Writing!

Gaming for a good cause

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. In the hustle and bustle of being a writer and doing everything else that I do, I realized lately that I haven’t been allowing myself much fun. I then remembered a website that my friend introduced me to a couple of years ago.

It’s called “Free Rice” and was developed by a concerned father who wanted to help his child improve vocabulary for the SAT’s while also collecting funds to provide rice to needy families through the UN World Food Program. It’s a great game for Freshman Writers to play when they need a break from writing. It’s also a great reminder of the fun that writing can be.

Check it out today. Help grow your vocabulary as well as feeding the hungry.

Happy gaming!


Friday Check In

Just checking in this rainy Friday here in New York City.

So far, I’ve been keeping up my writing goals for the month. Posting three times a week at my parenting site as well as posting here and at The Freshman Writertwice a week. I may rethink how many blogposts I do for The Freshman Writer as it seems I get visitors even when I don’t write. It’s a good thing that visitors come, but I want to have something to offer when they do.

I’ve been researching the genre of the personal essay and reading up on it. I know I’ve started a few of them, but haven’t really done much lately with anything that’s not an article or blog post. In addition, the day job has been particularly stressful this month, but with careful planning have kept up my writing goals.

I’ve also been thinking about the on-line course I’m taking. I don’t know if I’m cut out for on-line learning, especially if there is no contact between the instructor and myself. I actually thought about writing an article about why on-line learning might not be working for me and then giving it in as my homework assignment. I haven’t heard back yet on my emails to the instructor (which go through the course website first) and wonder if I’ll only hear from the instructor once a month.

With all of this going on, I’ve also been thinking about doing more magazine writing since I’m not getting too many responses for online writing jobs. This week so far, I haven’t applied to any though I have some that I want to apply for. Maybe I’m just tired of not getting any bites. Or maybe I just need to evaluate my submission emails.

I’ve found some great magazine markets and hope to at least get started on submission letters. We’ll see how it goes. Still, I’m here and writing. Take care!

Writing Fears

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing today. Today I want to talk about writing fears.

One of the things that can plague writers is fear. This can take on many forms. It can be a fear of a blank page or rejection or of success. How can you get over your writing fears?

You can read up on it. One book I read about overcoming writing fears is Raplh Keyes’ book titled “Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear” (2003, 229pp). This book really helped me see that writers need to write. Period. No matter what others say or think of them. Keyes gets into the fears that keep writers from writing. This book is a quick read and I’m going to read it again.

You can write. The act of putting something down on paper or up on the blog helps me as well. There’s nothing like seeing a full page of my handwriting or a blog post up for the day. Just get writing.

You can talk to writing friends. Creating a network of writer pals will help you Freshman Writers because you will have a support system. It is much easier to think badly of yourself and your writing if you don’t have anyone to cheer you on. So, get a Twitter or Plurk  account or join an online forum like Absolute Write. Better yet, join a writing group where you can meet up regularly. That way you’ll have a friend or two asking you about your work. And then you’d have to write just to have something to show them.

I hope these tips will help you get over your writing fears and get to doing what you love…Writing!

Happy Writing!

Checking In

Well, my writing has been petering out lately. I’ve been working hard at my day job and it has been very stressful. It has also had a huge impact on my writing. I’d been staring at the computer so long at work that I didn’t want to get on the computer at home.

But, things have been looking up. I’ve been writing more for the Examiner site and I’ve been journaling alot because of feelings that have been festering. The journaling has helped and the writing is coming around.

I’ve had a couple of articles done for the Examiner site and I also posted over at the Freshman Writer. To wrap up for this month, I want to write my posts ahead of time for the Examiner site and I also want to finish my third homework assignment for the writing course. I emailed my instructor today hoping to get a response. I like the course except for the online part. I need the interaction with others and I’m finding that I’m not motivated to write. I also feel super disconnected with my writing buds lately because of the job-related stress. I’ve been keeping up with Plurk and Twitter, but haven’t been touching base with my Absolute Write pals.

So, to end the month on a good note – I want to write several pieces tomorrow so that I can post them over the next few days. I also want to get cracking on some reviews for kids music groups. 🙂 That’s all from me. For now. 🙂

Last Chance to get a Discount!

Hiya Freshman Writers! Today’s your last chance to get in on the discount from Elain Appleton Grant for her course, Magazine Basics! See below for the savings!


Magazine Basics Course

Posted in Articles, Courses for Writers tagged , , , , , , at 3:41 pm by Heiddi Zalamar

Hiya Freshman Writers! Just wanted to come back and let you know that Elaine Appleton Grant has offered a special to you.

If you email Elaine by February 1, 2009, you’ll get a discount from the course. If you choose the premium class, you’ll get $25 off as a discount. If you choose the basic class, you’ll get $10 off. As you know money is tight these days and every little bit helps. Take advantage of the course. Not only will you learn about magazine writing, you’ll also keep some money in your pocket.

Take Care Freshman Writers!