All posts by Erin Dalpini

Best Gifts for Writers – Holiday Edition 2010

by Erin Dalpini

By mysza831 via flickr

Once again the holiday season is upon us. Lately it seems my to-do list has been a mile long, the usual tasks drowning amidst a sea of holiday duties: deck the halls, trim the tree, buy that secret Santa/white elephant/charity gift, troll the ancient yuletide carol, etc., etc. Oh yes, and on top of that all the relatives are now asking what I want for Christmas! Hmmm . . . what to ask for for the gift exchange?

Luckily, I’ve never had a problem with asking for what I want, and you won’t either, once you check out Freelance-Zone’s top gifts for writers for this holiday season.


Moleskine notebooks – Count yourself among the likes of Oscar Wilde and Ernest Hemingway while penning your musings in these minimalist yet elegant notebooks. Perfect for travel, taking notes, sounding off, and sketching, Moleskines come in several sizes and styles. See how toting one around can inspire you to write whenever inspiration strikes.


Smartphone upgrade – What better way to keep up with client emails, remember the milk, and manage Twitter and Facebook accounts while on the go? If you’re a writer and you’re often on the move, a slick, upgraded smartphone like the HTC Droid Incredible (Verizon), Blackberry Bold 9700, or the iPhone 4 is one of those essential items one can’t help but covet. (Assuming you don’t already have one!) Continue reading Best Gifts for Writers – Holiday Edition 2010

Five Tips for Writers for Avoiding Procrastination

by Erin Dalpini

It’s 2:35 p.m. and your piece is due in less than two hours. You’ve known about it for a couple weeks, but here you are with a deadline looming and no copy to show for it. Clock ticking, heart racing, palms sweating, you type and type—like a no-nonsense secretary—and manage to finish your piece well with ten minutes to spare. Proof it, attach it, hit send. And pour yourself a cocktail.

I’m sure this isn’t you.

But if it is, take heart. Up until college, I was quite possibly the worst procrastinator when it came to writing. Somehow, I still managed to get high marks on my papers, but not without the stress and lost sleep that curses habitual procrastinators. Not to mention, I lost out a lot on the writing process, since I was turning in work that could have been better polished. Over the years, I learned to change my ways for the better, and you can too.

Arm yourself against the procrastinator’s curse with these five suggestions:

1. Dive in. The best way to avoid procrastination seems like the simplest one. You have a pile of papers or file folder awaiting your attention, or you’ve just received an assignment (yess!), but your Id would rather eat some pizza or catch a good flick. Pick up that folder, open that email or file, take a good, long look, and just dive in. Allow yourself to get completely immersed in the creative process of planning and drafting your assignment, which is always a good reminder of why you chose to write anyway (rather than doing anything but to avoid a looming project). Continue reading Five Tips for Writers for Avoiding Procrastination

Writers’ Bookshelf: “Toxic Feedback” by Joni B. Cole

Writer’s Bookshelf: Toxic Feedback by Joni B. Cole

Book review by Erin Dalpini

J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, John Grisham, and Stephen King. What do these writers have in common? Their first novels were rejected at least a dozen times (in King’s case, dozens), before being published. Imagine what we would have missed out on if those writers took to heart the negative feedback they received in the form of rejection letters or unanswered queries. Negative feedback stinks. But far worse than negative feedback is toxic feedback, the kind of commentary that makes any writer want to curl up in the corner and wallow or worse yet, stop writing all together.

Experienced writing workshop leader and author Joni B. Cole knows a lot about this kind of feedback. So much, in fact, that she decided to write a book about it. In Toxic Feedback, Cole addresses not only the problem of toxic feedback, but also proper responses to it.  If you’ve ever suffered from a severe case of “It’s all wrong”-itis—I’m looking at you, fiction/creative nonfiction writers—take note: this is definitely your go-to book. Toxic Feedback is a light-hearted, engaging look at the best (and worst) ways to process feedback, and how to, a-hem, go about dishing it out in a polite manner.

“As a writer, you have no hope of surviving, let alone thriving in, the feedback process if you don’t first recognize your own role in creating the kind of toxicity that can result in literary paralysis or an assault charge,” asserts Cole. Continue reading Writers’ Bookshelf: “Toxic Feedback” by Joni B. Cole

Book Review: “Travel Writing 2.0” by Tim Leffel

Timleffelbookcover_03By Erin Dalpini 

What’s the ultimate freelance assignment? You know, the one all writers dream of?

Probably getting paid to vacation—and then write about it.

But travel-writing veteran Tim Leffel says that getting there is anything but a holiday. In his aptly titled Travel Writing 2.0, Leffel takes readers on a journey through the hard realities of what it takes to be a successful travel writer in today’s competitive new media landscape. With some exceptions, it’s not much different than what it takes to be a successful, non-traveling freelance writer.

Importantly, Leffel wants readers to know that travel writing is not for the faint of heart. Continue reading Book Review: “Travel Writing 2.0” by Tim Leffel

Join Writing Organizations, Submit Often, and Never Give Up: An Interview with Judy Lockhart DiGregorio

by Erin Dalpini

Judy Lockhart DiGregorio has a knack for telling funny stories. When she realized that she could share her talent on paper, her career as an author began to take shape. Tenacity, creativity, and a special touch for lightness led her to numerous credits, awards, speaking gigs, and two books. Freelance-Zone caught up with the published author, humor columnist, actress, and speaker to find out more about her background and what led her to success as freelancer today.


Judy Lockhart DiGregorio
Judy Lockhart DiGregorio

Judy Lockhart DiGregorio: I started writing stories and light verse in elementary school. . I always loved working with words and won my first writing contest in the eighth grade when the El Paso Times named me first place winner in an essay contest where we wrote about our feelings about being an American (or something like that). They took a photo of me and put it in the paper, and I was famous for one day. I always did well at essay writing in school. In college I majored in English and did quite a bit of writing on literary topics that didn’t really interest me. In hindsight, I should have majored in journalism but didn’t think about it at the time.

FZ: What are you doing now in the field?

JD: I am a monthly humor columnist for a local publication. Continue reading Join Writing Organizations, Submit Often, and Never Give Up: An Interview with Judy Lockhart DiGregorio

Looks Like Somebody’s Got a Case of the Mondays

by Erin Dalpini

Cup of JoePicture this: You’re lying comfortably in your bed, dozing away and your alarm begins to ring. You roll over, shake yourself from your dream and groggily rub your eyes. That tell-tale, occasionally maddening noise is a reminder that no matter how early it seems, it’s time to leave that cozy bed for a day of work.

Whether or not you set your alarm clock every morning, most freelancers can relate to that grouchy feeling that we all get now and then– you know, a “case of the Mondays.” Continue reading Looks Like Somebody’s Got a Case of the Mondays