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!

 

Sincerely,

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.

Information Overload?

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is about information overload. There is no shortage of ways we can get the information we need and even the information we don’t need. According to Brownielocks, October 20th is Information Overload Day.

I know I get very overwhelmed by all of the information out in the world especially that on cyberspace. Here are some tips to keep information from overloading you.

1. Find the one medium that works best for you. These days we can get information from television, radio and online. Figure out which of these is more convenient and practical for you. Stick with the one you use most and chuck the rest.

2. Clean out your inbox. I’m an email junkie. I admit it, I have an email problem. Recently, I went through my inboxes (I have three) and deleted emails that I simply don’t read anymore. I also unsubscribed from any groups or subscription lists that just take up space. If you don’t read it, you don’t need it.

3. Limit the number of email addresses you have. I have one for fun, one for writing and one that I’ve kept for a million years because it was my very first email address. By keeping separate accounts, I’ve found that I can better organize my information.

4. Life is busy, but multi-tasking can make it worse. I read my personal emails on my way to work. I have my emails connected to my Blackberry so I have them organized there. Since I commute to work, it saves me time to read and reply to emails. But, I’ve also learned to put my phone away one stop before I get off. I’ve missed my stop once or twice because of my inbox.

5. Check in on your lunchhour. Lunchtime is a great time to check your email or catch up on your favorite bloggers.

6. Limit your RSS Feeds. I LOVE to read and have subscribed to several blogs. But, I reached the point of hating the number of feeds that I get and don’t have time to read. So as I cleaned out my inbox, I also cleaned out my RSS Feeds. Again, if I don’t read it, I don’t need it.

Hopefully, these tips can keep you from being overloaded. And remember, information helps you write, but too much can keep you from writing. Happy Writing!

 

5 Ways Business Cards help you

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is about business cards. October 9 – 15 marks ‘Build your business with business Cards” week.
As writers just starting out, maybe the last thing you Freshman Writers thought of was a business card. ‘What do I need a business card for, I’m just starting to write?’ I had the same thought when I first started writing in 2005. I had a hard time just figuring out what I would write. A couple of years later, I received an offer from VistaPrint for 250 free business cards. (I’ve used them a couple of times since then and it is a great service for writers starting out.) I checked out their website and took them up on the offer. I only paid for shipping and handling.

Business cards are useful for so many things. Here are some ways you can use them:

1. Getting a card helps you find your niche. In a limited space, you only have so many words to describe who you are and the writing you do. Having to write your pitch in a few words can help you find your writing groove.

2. You can list your talents in one place. If you already know what your writing niche is, you can simply transfer it to a card. By putting “writer” on your card (along with your other skills) you let clients know what they can expect from you.
3. You can accept yourself as a writer. One of the biggest challenges that writers face at any level, but more so as beginning writers is acknowledging that you ARE a writer. After receiving my cards, I had something tangible that says I am a writer.
4. You can let others know what you do. Business cards are great for networking especially at events or gatherings. If someone asks for your number or email, pass them a card.
5. Business cards help you showcase your work. By getting a business card, you can list your website or online portfolio. This way, potential clients can view your work and contact you right away.

Business cards can help you grow as a writer. But remember, being a writer is about doing what you do best – writing. Happy Writing!

3 Ways to Be Kind to Editors & Writers

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is about being kind to Editors & Writers. September marks Be Kind to Editors & Writers Month. We all know that there’s so much negativity in the world today. This month, I wanted to share my tips for spreading the love. Here are some ways to spread kindness all around and keep the positivity going. Enjoy!

1. Be polite. Remember that good manners (online and off) speak volumes about who you are.

2. Sharing is Caring. Freshman Writers, you have expertise in something. Share what you know if a writer/editor asks. And even if you don’t, pass it along to others in your circle. You never know who you can help.

3. You get more flies with honey than vinegar.  The world of freelance writers is small, even though cyberspace can seem huge. People communicate to one another; especially editors & writers. Stay positive on-line and share negativity offline with trusted friends. When I get upset about something, I talk to friends offline to gain perspective. In this way, I get my feelings out without hurting anyone’s feelings.

Hopefully, these tips will help you keep the positive energy flowing all around you; both online and off.

Happy Writing!

Love Note Day

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is in celebration of National Love Note Day according to BrownieLocks.com. I’m a sucker for a great love note so I thought we could use this as a prompt. Share what you like about love notes and even one of your own! Below is my contribution. Enjoy!

Happy Writing!

 

Dear Son,

Little boy, you’re the center of my world. You’re my motivation to get up everyday to work hard. You’ve pushed me far beyond my limits and even my dreams. You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me and I love you. You’re my favorite kid in the whole, wide world and I live for your smile. Remember that I’ll always be there no matter what.

Love,

Mami

9/11

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

I hadn’t planned on writing today. I planned to rest today. Given the solemnity of the occasion, I really wanted to stay home to rest and reflect. Then a friend of mine over at Mommylink’s asked me to share my 9/11 story. Everyone has one, but as New Yorkers, ours can be very unique.

So, in honor of the many loved ones lost, I encourage you Freshman Writers to write your story. Express your thoughts and feelings about that day. This is how writers live on, through poignant messages and stories. Please come and share them here as well.

9/11 – We will never forget.

5 Tips on Handling Rejection

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is about something that touches writers all of the time – rejection. Yes, to some writers who’ve dealt with it, rejection is a hard blow. Especially after putting in hard work and heart into the writing. To others, rejection is motivation to keep on going; to keep tweaking the writing; to keep the pen moving.

After hearing about The Help movie, based on the best-selling book by author, Kathryn Stockett, I was amazed to learn that her manuscript was rejected an amazing 60 times! 6-0! According to More Magazine (on Yahoo Shine),  Kathryn Stockett went through 60 rejections before her manuscript was accepted on try #61. I couldn’t believe it! She’s made of strong stuff indeed. And in sharing her story, she revealed one tip that kept her going until her writing was accepted.

1. “Give into your obsession.”  Kathryn simply zeroed in her focus on her manuscript. Over and over, she worked on it. Writing and writing until she felt it was ready to send out. Which leads me to the next tip:

2. Find a space for your writing to grow. Kathryn went so far as to rent a hotel room to work on her writing after her daughter was born. Find a nook just for you to write in. Which brings us to tip number three:

3. Have supportive friends and family.  Someone had to be there with the little one while Kathryn was writing – that was her hubby. Nothing helps a writer more than to have people who understand your compulsion to write. Even if they don’t write themselves. Having a support system can help you when (and it happens to all writers) you DO get rejection.

4. Celebrate the first rejection. Kathryn shared her first rejection letter with friends. This is a great way for writers of all levels to reframe the idea that a rejection is truly a rejection. Sometimes, writers can get caught up in feeling sorry for themselves and then stop writing. Here, Kathryn took a lemon and made lemonade by cheering and then getting right back to work.

5. Don’t quit. Kathryn didn’t stop writing. She kept going. One of the easiest things to do after a rejection is to quit; to think that you’re just not cut out for writing. Kathryn pushed through this and kept working. And you Freshman Writers can do it, too.

Freshman Writers, I hope Kathryn’s story inspired you the way it inspired me. She stuck to it and now her book is a best-seller that has been made into a successful movie. Cheers Kathryn! I salute you! Thank you for inspiring Freshman Writers, readers and movie-goers everywhere!

Happy Writing!

Travel down Memory Lane for Ideas

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post was inspired by my lack of ideas last week for a parenting blog that I write for. I just could not come up with anything current to blog about.

I actually went back to the blog to read posts by other writers there. We all have children of different ages. My son though is probably one of the older kids written about on the site and sometimes I just run out of things to say.

Cruising on the site for awhile found me laughing at the adventures in potty training that some of the other moms had posted. I laughed because their posts reminded me of my own problems with diapers and potty training. So, I decided to go back in my memory to write about my own adventures. And it worked! I came up with two posts on the spot and then a couple more for future publishing.
Writing consistently for a website can be challenging when you’re idea bank has been exhausted. If you Freshman Writers are stuck on ideas, try going down memory lane to see what ideas jump out from the past. You never know where it’ll take you.

Happy Writing!

It’s All in the Taste

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is one of a series on using your senses to get your writing going. If you enjoyed my posts on sight, sound and smell, then you might like this one on the sense of taste.

I’m a foodie. I LOVE all kinds of food in moderation (Otherwise, I’d look like Willy in the Free Willy movies). My favorite thing about any meal is the very first bite. I can taste the big flavors and nuances of more subtle flavors in the dish. As a writer, I’m able to describe why I love the taste so much. So here’s today’s challenge for you Freshman Writers should you choose to accept it:

1. Line up a spoonful each of – salt, sugar, lemon juice and coffee grounds. You can use any flavors you’d like so dont’ worry about sticking to this list. It’s just to give you a starting point. Make sure to keep a glass of water nearby to cleanse your palate after trying each sample.

2. Have a pen and notepad ready to jot down your initial thoughts.

3. Let the tasting begin! Start with a sip of water and try the first item on your list. So if you taste the salt first, what does it remind you of? Do you think of a specific dish or event? And don’t cheat by saying it’s salty. Use other words to describe the flavors.

4. Write something down for each flavor until you complete the exercise.

5. If you have trouble finding the words to describe flavors, try watching Andrew Zimmern on Bizarre Foods. I love his show and he is great at sharing his thoughts on specific flavors and textures of food.

Bon Appetit and Happy Writing!

Use Your Senses – Smell’s the word

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is the next in a series about writing using your senses. We’ve already covered seeing and hearing. Now, it’s on to our sense of smell.

According to the Social Research Center, the human sense of smell can detect thousands of odors such as  dinner being ready, fire (eeek!) or even things invisible to the naked eye. We have two small odor-detecting patches high in our noses with millions of cells that allow us to distinguish various smells from one another.

Today’s challenge for you Freshman Writers is to use your schnoz to help your writing along. Open your window and inhale. Then write down what you can detect. Do you want to go towards or away from the smell? Have at it and let your nose do the writing!

Happy Writing!