2011 in review

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and celebrating with your loved ones. Just wanted to share the success you’ve brought me in the last year with your support. Thank you for helping me do it! Happy New Year!



Heiddi Zalamar


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,300 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 38 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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!

2010 in review

Happy 2011 Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing.  Just wanted to share this overview of my 2010. And you Freshman Writers did that. Thanks so much for reading and sharing with me. Hoping 2011 is much brighter and better. Happy Writing!


The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2010. That’s about 3 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 75 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 161 posts.

The busiest day of the year was March 24th with 44 views. The most popular post that day was Keep on Educating Yourself.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were twitter.com, absolutewrite.com, bc2b65rm1lv1oxesv668zetmmg.hop.clickbank.net, therenegadewriter.com, and blog.nquentinwoolf.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for choosing a pen name, best pen names, great pen names, sweet pen names, and how to choose a pen name.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Keep on Educating Yourself October 2008
1 comment


Choosing a Pen Name February 2009


About Me September 2008


Pen name anyone? February 2009


About September 2008

5 Tips to Curb Self-Doubt

Hiya Freshman Writers! I’m back on the scene after a long time away and ready to help you Freshman Writers with your writing goals. I got the idea for this post on self-doubt after writing about my own writing challenges this summer. You can read that here and let me know what you think. Can you relate?

Since I know many writers (anyone really) struggle with self-doubt, I’ve come up with some tips to help you Freshman Writers look self-doubt in the face and kick its butt! Here you go:

1. Acknowledge that you have doubts. Everyone has them from time to time. Rather than admit that I was doubting my writing talent, I avoided it instead. Til it came to bite me in the rear end. Admit that you have them because then you can deal with them.

2. Let a friend know about your doubts. It’s always good to have a cheerleader, someone on your side who wants your dream to come true as much as you do. Freshman Writers, you cannot go it alone. A cheerleader has faith in you, can pick you up and help you see what they see – a talented writer.

3. Connect with your mentors. If you don’t have a writing mentor, get one. It can be someone you chat with online or someone you can meet with regularly to talk about writing, goals and life in general.  Also subscribe to free newsletters from your favorite writers. It may not be the same as having a personal relationship with your mentor, but that nudge in your inbox can motivate you to get writing.

4. Get back to basics. In a previous post, I wrote about how to return to the beginning of your writing journey. By remembering how you did things during a successful time, you can see what works to get rid of your doubts.

5. Be good to yourself. My biggest challenge in the last few months was taking care of myself. I didn’t sleep well, didn’t have much of an appetite and couldn’t really take a break. Check out this post where I share tips on avoiding burn-out. Remember that your writing is affected by anything and everything affecting you. Taking care of yourself allows you to take care of your writing.

6. Finally, recognize that you’ll screw up. You are going to have doubts. Period. There’s no way to get around that reality, but there are ways to curb it. Just do what works best to get you believing in yourself and writing again.

I hope these tips are as helpful to you as they have been to me so far. I’ve been slowly working to get each one up and running as well as my writing. Treat yourself well and remember that you have the talent within. You just need to work to get it out.

Happy Writing!

Taking on too much

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is about taking on too much. Even if you are at the beginning of your writing journey, you can take on too much and be easily overwhelmed.

I spent Easter Sunday in City Island with my father, his girlfriend and my son. I was so excited about going because it had been years since I had been there. I spent many weekend afternoons there with my parents as a child and the magic of it hasn’t changed. And this time I was able to share it with my son.

Well, my eyes feasted themselves on a dozen fried shrimp, half a dozen raw clams and fries. Chasing all of that with a pina colada, I knew that I should’ve stopped halfway. I was shocked that I could walk back to the car as stuffed as I was. After running around at a local park, I was still stuffed, but not so much that I couldn’t add a strawberry ice cream sundae. See where I’m going with this Freshman Writers?

Instead of slowing down and really gauging how much I could take on (in this case – food), I kept going and going. Last night, I felt the effects of my chowdown and was sick to my stomach. It was a late lunch so I skipped dinner. Obviously, I skipped dinner.

The lesson here Freshman Writers is to see what is ahead of you, look at what you have on your plate right now and analyze what you can and cannot do. This same concept works for many situations, but especially for writers.

I recently had to let go of a possible writing job because I saw that I could not do the work. After all, with a full time job, part time job, my son and other responsibilities I have, there was no way that I could do the tasks outlined. So I let it go. It was hard because it was a decent paying job with opportunities for growth, but it wasn’t for me.

Freshman Writers, learn to see what you are capable of doing and how much time you have to devote to it. Writing can be a career; you just have to plan it out. And when you can’t, your best bet is to slow down, regroup and start over.

Happy Writing!

Having Faith

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

One of the challenges faced by writers of all levels is having faith in one’s ability to write well. We get stuck in “stinkin’ thinkin'” where we reflect on all the negatives of our work. “I can’t do this.” “Why would anyone want to read my article?” “This has already been done.”  I bet you’ve said one or all of these to yourself. I have.

There have been times when I’ve felt that my writing is not good enough; that no one would want to read what I have to share. How do you (and I) grow to have faith in yourself?

1. Think about compliments you’ve received. I kept my school papers and projects with teacher’s positive comments on them. When I need a boost, I read over them and see how good my writing is.

2. Write down all of your good qualities. Sometimes making a list of my positive qualities helps me see that I can do this writing thing. If you can’t think of any, ask your friends and family to let you know what are your best qualities.

3. Visualize yourself as a writer. Part of the reason some writers do not believe in their work is because they do not see themselves as writers. It took me a long time to say “I am a writer” out loud. I came to see myself as a writer after friends and family told me that they saw me as a writer. The faith that they had for me helped me have faith in myself.

4. Read books about it. I found that reading about other writers with the same problem, lack of faith in one’s writing, allowed me to acknowledge my fears and move past them. Two books that I recommend are The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear and Faith of a Writer.  The first book reviews all the things that keep us from writing. The second is one writer’s look at her own writing fears and faith in herself as a writer.

Having faith in yourself will be a challenge that you will face at one time or another. Several times if you’re anything like me. Hopefully these tips and books will help you see what is already there…That you have the tools you need to be a great writer.

Happy Writing!

Slowing Down

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

Today’s post is about slowing down. Writers often get ahead of themselves by rushing through. Rushing to get your work published can lead you to mistakes and poorly written work. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about taking your time to write.

I took my own advice and you can read about it here. As writers, we need to slow down and find what works for us. We have to use tools and strategies to produce our best writing.

If your feel hurried, your work will show it. Slowing down does not mean the work does not get finished, it means that you take the time to examine the steps you take to produce great writing. How can you slow down, Freshman Writers?

1. Carefully review writer’s guidelines. Take apart the requirements for the writing project.

2. Make sure to give yourself breaks whenever you feel overwhelmed or rushed.

3. Ask a writer pal for help. Go to online forums or call a friend if you need advice.

4. Give yourself plenty of time to include breaks. Whether you need a day or two or (like me) you need a week to focus on other tasks.

5. Know your limitations. I get scared when I take on a new project and without the extra time, I make mistakes. My limitation is rushing myself.

Hopefully, these tips will help you when you need to focus on your writing. To produce your best work, you need to know yourself. Happy Writing!