Why I’m a Hardass Pitching Editor

edited writingHi there:

My name is Lauren Tharp. In addition to running my own writing business, I’m the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Be A Freelance Blogger. And while I’m pretty happy-go-lucky on the forum, I’m a complete hardass behind the editor’s desk.

No, really. I’m a hardass by the very definition of hardass:


Noun, Slang: Vulgar.
1. A person who follows rules and regulations meticulously and enforces them without exceptions.


But there’s a good reason for this.

And it’s a reason that you, as a writer, should be aware of — whether you decide to pitch an idea to me or any other editor.

Querying: Every Editor Has the Same Number One Rule

Want to know that every editor I’ve ever spoken to has had to say about pitches/query letters?

The writer needs to follow the guidelines.

I’ve said the same thing myself, numerous times:

And you know what writers say in reply…?

“It’s really not that big a deal…”

“Can’t you make an exception for me…?”

“Why are you such a stickler for the rules?!”

“I’m so great, I don’t have to read the guidelines!”


Most freelance writers/bloggers are professional enough to “get” why the guidelines are important. But for those who aren’t — or are simply curious — here’s exactly why I, and every other editor worth their salt, is a friggin’ “hardass” about the rules: See more ›

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People I Know: Samar Owais

Happy 2015, Everyone! My first “PIK” interviewee of the new year is Freelance Flyer‘s Samar Owais.

Samar’s a freelance writer and blogger whose name is pronounced like “Summer.” She’s based in Dubai and is absolutely gorgeous:

Samar Owais

Samar Owais

How I Know Samar

If you’ve downloaded my free e-book, The Freelance Writer’s ABCs, you may remember a quote from Samar in the “V is for Vending Machine Mentality” chapter. Yep. I’ve been following Samar’s work for quite a while! :) And, at some point, one or both of us reached out to say “hello.”

Since Samar is based in Dubai, UAE, and I’m in Los Angeles, whatever time it is “AM” over here, it’s exactly that time “PM” where she is! So when I’m still up poking around online at 4AM, I get to chat with 4PM Samar about our lives as super cool freelance blogger ladies.

And, on a more personal note, Samar is quite the make-up expert. I’m still not as skilled as she is application-wise, but she’s definitely encouraged me to branch out a little (I now own a hot pink lipstick and sometimes attempt putting on eyeliner!). But, I think, that speaks of Samar as a whole: She’s always encouraging and motivating those around her to try new things to better themselves (and their businesses!).

So enjoy this (e-mail) interview! Find out how Samar Owais got her start, what’s next for her blogging business, and how you can follow in her ever-glamorous footsteps.

My Interview with Samar Owais See more ›

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Happy Holidays from LittleZotz Writing! (2014)

holiday card 2014

Blog posts will resume on 01/14/2015!

In the meantime, feel free to keep an eye out on my “Upcoming Events” calendar for any guest posts/articles I’ve written elsewhere. Or, you can follow me on any of my social media outlets:

You can also get “News” about my life — and some writing-related stuff! — on my personal site, LaurenTharp.net. So I’m not leaving you completely! I’m just taking the holidays off from work. <3

Thank you SO much for reading! Please feel free to keep sending me your questions and comments. I reply to every message I get.

See you all in 2015! I’ve got some great stuff planned that I can’t wait to share with you!!


PS: If you love the LittleZotz Writing blog, please consider nominating it — and other blogs you love! — for The Write Life’s 100 Best Blogs for Writers list! (I’m still so grateful to you all for nominating me this year! And it would be the best 30th birthday gift to be on the list again in 2015! :3)

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People I Know: Anca Dumitru

Anca Dumitru is a freelance writer who specializes in helping B2B companies share their success stories through written content. Read on to find out how she got her start, what her favorite part of the job is, and how you can follow in her footsteps…

Anca Dumitru

Anca Dumitru

How I Know Anca

The story of how I met Anca Dumitru is very similar to last month’s PIK interviewee, and the month before’s PIK interviewee, and the month before that’s as well! We just happen to run in the same circles.

However, Anca and I then started writing for some of the same publications. We wrote for the same blogs. And we even scored cover stories for the same magazine! We even shared a difficult client and ended up swapping notes on how to handle his wily ways.

Over the past year, I’ve grown to admire Anca not only for her writing skills (which are stellar), but for her willingness to help out a fellow writer (namely me!). Anca has become one of my go-to writer buddies when I have a “Hey, have you ever had to deal with…?” freelance writer issues.

My Interview with Anca Dumitru

1. What do you do?

I’m a freelance writer and content strategist. I help midsize B2B companies boost their lead flow and revenue by writing their customer success stories (also known as customer case studies).

Anca covering an event in Brighton, UK (2011).

Anca covering an event in Brighton, UK (2011).

2. How did you start?

It wasn’t an easy start and neither a clear path for me.

I used to work for 16 years for a large logistics group in Romania, Belgium and Germany. Five years ago I was laid off from my corporate job, which left me with a financial cushion, yet with no direction whatsoever as to what I wanted to do next. See more ›

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25 Ways to Stop Writer’s Block and Get Creative (Even When You’re Not “Feeling It”)

Writer's Block

Illustration by Ramiro Roman, Jr. (But I added in the angry face and the letters…)

I was asked to look at creativity — or a lack thereof — from a writer’s perspective. A task which forced me to get creative as most of my preventative measures against “writer’s block” have been set to “autopilot” over the years!

But, after sitting down and really thinking about it (and by using a few of the methods I’m about to share!), I was able to come up with a list of 25 things I do when I need to write something and I’m just not feeling it. So, without further ado…

My Top 25 Ways to Unlock Your Inner-Writer’s Creativity

Note: These tips are “general” tips to defeat writer’s block — whether you write fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or whatever! If you’re looking for something specific to journalism or blogging, click here.

1. Get some sleep.

Eating food and taking a shower are also great, but sleep is a “biggie” that I forget more easily than the other two. And it’s SO important. The more you deprive your brain of sleep the more your brain, well, just doesn’t want to function. You don’t just “feel” stupid — you actually become stupid. And when you can barely function on simple day-to-day survival activities, how can you expect to do something creative?

2. No self-editing until it’s done.

Editing is all about finding errors. And, yes, there will always be errors. But if you start focusing on what you’ve done “wrong” before you’ve even finished…chances are you’ll never finish. Save the editing for last.

3. Just write — even if it’s crap.

The hardest part is getting started. Once you’ve started: Don’t stop. Just keep writing. When I was writing The Ballad of Allison and Bandit (my YA novel), I ended up tossing an entire chapter that was just utter horrible unadulterated c~r~a~p. But I was glad that I’d written it. Because just the act of writing it helped give me the momentum I needed to write the good stuff! See more ›

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People I Know: Laura Spencer

Laura Spencer is a copywriter, content specialist, blogger, and editor. And I’ve found her thoughts on writing to be extremely valuable over the years! (I think you will too!)

Laura Spencer

Laura Spencer

How I Know Laura

If you’ve been reading my blog or following me online for a while, chances are you’ve seen me mention Laura Spencer. She’s one of my favorite bloggers and I link to articles she’s written pretty much weekly!

When I first decided to open my virtual doors for business back in 2010, I felt a bit lost. So I began scouring the Internet for freelance writing advice. And one writer kept popping up again and again with the articles that were the best of the best: Laura.

It got to the point that I recognized articles had been written by Laura before I’d even seen her byline!

After a while, I reached out to Laura online. And now, four years later, I am so honored to have her as a featured guest on my humble website. It’s my hope that other fledgling freelance writers will find this interview and be as inspired as I was. Enjoy! See more ›

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People I Know: Valerie Bordeau

Freelance writer and online strategist Valerie Bordeau is the creator of The Freelance Writers Academy, the host of The FWA podcast, and the head Lady in The Kingdom of Paidalot. Read on to see how she got her start, what’s next, and how you can follow in her footsteps.

Valerie Bordeau

Valerie Bordeau

How I Know Valerie

Like last month’s interviewee, I met Valerie simply because we run in the same circles — everywhere I was, Valerie was there too! Out of curiosity, I subscribed to Valerie’s newsletter (which is gold, by the way) and followed her on her various social media outlets. But, in the end, it was Valerie who reached out and made first contact, saying: “I’ve been following your work for quite some time and I’d love to have you on the show.”

The “show” she was referring to was The Freelance Writers Academy Podcast. And I’ve been featured as a guest twice…so far! ;)

I’m going to keep this intro short as I’m sure Valerie will have more-than-enough to say on her own. However, I will say this: Valerie is funny, sweet, and genuinely wants to help other writers succeed. You’re going to love her. See more ›

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Do You Need a Break? 9 Articles to Help You Get Over Burnout!


Take a break. Smell the flowers. Or wear them.

Hi, Everyone!

This is going to be a bit different from my “usual” blog posts.

It seems like the past few weeks — the past few months, really — have been tough on a lot of us (or perhaps all of us!). Are you feeling it? I know I am!

And I know my fellow writers are too.

I’ve collected a few of the recent posts I’ve found by some of my favorite bloggers on dealing with burnout/stress/depression/exhaustion. I found them helpful these past few weeks and it’s my hope that you will too.

With two exceptions, all of those posts were written within the past few weeks! Yikes!

Take it easy on yourselves. If you need to take a break: Take a break!

Anyway, I hope you find those articles as useful as I have.

LittleZotz Writing will return to its regularly-scheduled programming now.


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People I Know: Williesha Morris

Williesha Morris is an adorable freelance writer/blogger/administrative consultant. Read on to see how she got started (and how you can follow in her footsteps!).


Willesha Morris

Willesha Morris

How I Know Williesha

To put it simply: Williesha and I travel in the same circles.

Nearly every writing-related blog I frequent, Willi was right there too! We commented on so many of the same articles that I finally couldn’t contain my curiosity. “Who is this Williesha Morris?” I thought.

I clicked on her name on one of her comments and was taken to her website. I looked around and liked what I saw. But, it was her articles on interracial marriage that finally caused me to reach out and introduce myself. As part of an interracial couple myself, her writing truly touched me — and we’ve had several lovely conversations because of it.

Since I’ve now known Williesha for over a year, I can proudly call her one of the “People I Know.” And I think you’ll enjoy getting to know her as much as I have. See more ›

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7 Steps to Continue Writing During a (Personal) Crisis

Streetcar Named Desire

Fan Art by me.

Maybe you’re late with the mortgage payment because your paycheck “got lost in the mail.”

Or maybe your mother fell down the stairs and broke a few bones.

Or maybe your father died.

Or maybe you found your husband in bed with another man, he committed suicide in front of you, and the process of you slowly going mad has been suddenly exacerbated by your abusive brother-in-law.

Whatever it is: Something has gone terribly wrong in your life.

You’re going through a personal crisis. And yet, you’re still expected to write — to work.

I know. It doesn’t feel possible. But I’ll try to help you get through this as best I can… By sharing with you the seven steps that I take when my life crumbles to ruins.

1. Take a Break.

Something horrible just happened! Go easy on yourself.

Depending on what’s happened, your break may last an hour…a day…even a week. Take the time you need to recuperate.

Your break doesn’t have to last forever. Just long enough for you to feel a little bit better — a little more yourself. See more ›

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