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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People I Know: Melissa Dominic

Speculative fiction author Melissa Dominic shares how she got her start, why editing is nothing to be afraid of, and how remembering to enjoy yourself is the ultimate key to success.

Melissa Dominic

Melissa Dominic

How I Know Melissa

Melissa is a fairly new friend of mine, but she’s a sweetie.

Like Paris, last month’s interviewee, Melissa writes part-time. In fact, you may have already read a quote from her if you read my article “What to Do When Writing Keeps You from Writing.”

When I wrote my debut novel The Ballad of Allison and Bandit, I was having a bit of trouble getting it published. (I’d had moderate success with short stories, poems, and non-fiction; but zero experience with novels). Ramiro, my significant other, remembered that one of his fans (Magen Cubed) was a writer and so was her girlfriend (Melissa), so he reached out to them for help.

Melissa wrote back, in detail, with a bucketload of immensely valuable information — free of charge! And I said to myself “I want to meet this beautiful human being who was willing to help out a random stranger!” So I did. And we hit it off.

I think you’ll like her too. See more ›

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Pitchfest is Coming! Pitchfest is Coming!! (FWA Interview)


Hi, Everyone!

I was invited back on The Freelance Writers Academy podcast for another interview this week!

This time I was on to talk about Be A Freelance Blogger’s next PITCHFEST!


Note: I don’t pay…Sophie does! (If you win!)

Pitchfest is a contest in which writers/bloggers publicly pitch their article ideas for Be A Freelance Blogger. If you win, you get published on the blog — and $100 via PayPal! Woo-hoo!

In the interview, I answer questions like:

  • What is Pitchfest and how did it get started?
  • How has the response been to the contest so far?
  • What are the contest rules?
  • How is pitching publicly different than pitching privately?
  • If you pitch publicly, isn’t there a chance your idea will be stolen by another writer?
  • Are there any benefits to following along with the contest even if you don’t enter?
  • What really makes a pitch stand out?
  • What are some of the biggest “no-no’s” when it comes to pitching?
  • If you pitch during Pitchfest and don’t win, can you still send your idea in later?
  • Where can people find out more information and submit their pitches?

You can listen to the interview HERE or, you can…


I recommend the written transcript. It has a bunch of useful links and whatnot added in. ;)

Just a reminder: This month’s Pitchfest starts on June 21st and ends on June 26th. So don’t wait around if you want to enter!

Good luck, Everyone!


PS: The information provided in this interview is good for anyone who wants to pitch to blogs or magazines, not just people looking to enter Pitchfest. Check it out!


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