Tag Archives: erin dalpini

BigDifBooks — Making a Big Difference in Kids’ Lit . . .

by Erin Dalpini

Dreaming of becoming a published author? Here’s an avenue you may not have considered—publishing a kids’ book. It’s simple, it’s fun, and it’s free, that is, if you work with BigDifBooks. This up-and-coming company’s transforming the way children’s literature is published, thanks to the marvels of e-book technology and a group of folks committed to sharing great stories with kids.BigDifBooks

Tom Watson, founder of BigDifBooks, joined us again to discuss his passion for children’s literature—the inspiration behind his company—and more. (By the way, if you missed our last post on BigDifBooks, check it out here.)

Freelance-Zone: Why did you make a website for kids’ books? Why might a freelance writer want to write a kids’ book?

Tom Watson: The whole idea is to give kids (and parents) access to original stories for very little money–or none at all. I probably wouldn’t have started our company if I wasn’t a parent myself, to be honest. I’m kind of a kids’ book snob. Continue reading BigDifBooks — Making a Big Difference in Kids’ Lit . . .

Review: Peter Bowerman’s The Well-Fed Writer (2nd Edition)

By Erin Dalpini

“Have you ever dreamed of becoming a writer but never took it too seriously, because after all, the words ‘starving’ and ‘writer’ are pretty much joined at the hip?” asks freelance copywriter and author Peter Bowerman in his updated edition of The Well-Fed Writer.

Well, have you?

Bowerman’s query brings up the quintessential conflict that faces all freelancers and wanna-bes at one point or another in their careers—how to write away the workday, without having to pinch pennies.

Maybe you’ve already made it past that point.

Great. This book is still worth your while.

Or maybe when you read the opening question, you thought, “Yeah, that’s pretty much me in a nutshell.” That’s even more reason to check out Bowerman’s aptly-named The Well-Fed Writer, in which he shares a slew of industry secrets that will assist you in successfully marketing yourself and your writing.

Compartmentalized into useful chapters such as  “Money Matters: How Much to Charge and How to Get Paid,” “Learning to Love S&M (Sales and Marketing),” “Where’s the Business?” and “The Well-Networked Writer,” this book touches on all the fundamentals of freelance copywriting while maintaining the spunk and attitude often lacking in the average guidebook.

I have to admit I was quite skeptical about “commercial” freelancing when I first started reading The Well-Fed Writer. Continue reading Review: Peter Bowerman’s The Well-Fed Writer (2nd Edition)

How to Publish a Children’s Book

by Erin Dalpini

BigDifBooksThink back to when you were five years old: coloring and make-believe filled up your days, naptime was a daily requirement rather than a luxury, and if you were anything like me, you probably listened to (and soon read) a lot of children’s stories. As a budding young writer, perhaps you even made up some of your own. And maybe, deep down, you’ve had this itch to write a children’s book, but never had the chance to publish due to fear of rejection, rejection or repeated rejection. (Ugh!)

Now there’s a way to realize that dream, thanks to BigDifBooks.com, an online publishing company that is changing the way kids’ books are published. Freelance-Zone caught up with Tom Watson, the founder of BigDifBooks, to find out what makes his company so special.

Freelance-Zone: What is BigDifBooks?

Tom Watson: We’re an online publisher of children’s books with two specific goals: we want to provide really inexpensive–sometimes even free–original stories for kids, and we want to provide writers a chance to share a children’s story without jumping through the hoops of the traditional publishing world. Continue reading How to Publish a Children’s Book

John Updike’s Writing Wisdom (part II): Write Daily, Read What Excites You

by Erin Dalpini


Want to be happy? Do something every day, so says Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, a bestselling book and popular blog.

It sounds pretty mundane, but according to Rubin, it works, and it can apply to any sort of habit—making the bed, working out, doing the dishes—do it every day and you might find “pleasure in the routine.” Getting into a daily habit, I think, is is a great way to keep from procrastinating doing something you know is good for you, but is hard to start doing–like flossing. Or in my case, writing. And writing query letters.

You see, I have a day job, which is actually writing-based, but outside of that job I find it sometimes incredibly difficult to motivate myself to get to work on a new project or, heaven forbid, just do some good old-fashioned free-writing or journaling.

In fact, inspired by Rubin, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to write daily.

Um . . . it’s March right? Still working on that.

Continue reading John Updike’s Writing Wisdom (part II): Write Daily, Read What Excites You

Try This: Write a Greeting Card

Happy birthday! Although it’s more likely in this digital era that you’ll receive Facebook posts and texts acknowledging your day of birth rather than a hand-written greeting, the average American still receives more than 20 greeting cards each year, contributing to an industry that grosses an estimated $7.5 billion a year, according to the Greeting Card Association.

I venture that’s because there’s something special about giving or receiving the perfect birthday card. You know, the one that fits to a T the personality of the recipient, the birthday card you receive that makes you laugh out loud. But who writes those funny or sentimental messages? Who keeps them fresh?

OatmealStudiosLogoEnter Oatmeal Studios, a humorous greeting card company, and their pool of freelance writers and artists. Do you have what it takes to be a greeting card guru? Dawn Abraham, Editor at Oatmeal Studios tells all . . .

Freelance-Zone: Oatmeal Studios has been around for about 25 years. Can you tell writers a bit about the company?

Dawn Abraham: Actually, Oatmeal Studios has been around for more than 30 years. It started as a family-owned business with a few designs and grew into a large, alternative humorous card company with sales internationally.

FZ: How did you come to be involved with the company? 

DA: I started writing for Oatmeal in 1986 and because I lived nearby, it was a natural progression for me to start working in the company part-time as an assistant editor in 1987; I have been working here since then (with one break when my kids were little)…

Continue reading Try This: Write a Greeting Card

John Updike’s Writing Wisdom (part I): Book Reviews

by Erin Dalpini

I’m working on a new project—a book review of a contemporary novel I recently read; although I’ve done this before, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what makes a fantastic book review.

Last fall, when I was doing some research for a review of Toni Morrison’s newest novel, A Mercy, I dabbled around on the Internet to see what others were saying about this book so that I could join in that conversation. I’d already read the book and had formed an impression of it, but I knew I needed to know what the experts thought.

One of the first pieces I found, a review in the The New Yorker caused me to sit up and take notice—it was an engaging, entertaining, and also gave me some new insight into the novel. When I looked for the byline, to my surprise, it was the literary legend John Updike. Updike, though best-remembered for his extensive body of fiction (short stories, novels, poetry), produced an equally-impressive array of literary criticism and essays. In short: the man was prolific. And he had an extraordinary way of making a book review anything but mundane. This piece was sharp, witty, informed, concise—essentially, it was the best book review I’d ever read and it left quite an impression on me.

So, returning to the writer’s block, I was curious: what did Updike have to say about writing book reviews? And what do modern day writers do when they have an obscure question like that?

Right. Turn to Google.

I was fortunate early on to stumble across a post (from a book blog I promptly bookmarked) pointing to hidden treasure: an older post, from the blog of the National Book Critics Circle, citing helpful tips from the master himself (one that’s so dated it redirects readers to the new host that, from what I can tell, does not have the piece archived). The advice is from Updikes’s Picked Up Pieces, a collection of his assorted prose. Three points (of six) I found incredibly helpful… Continue reading John Updike’s Writing Wisdom (part I): Book Reviews