In the weeds

When I started this project, I thought I’d have all this time to keep notes of my progress. I was going to create this testament to freelance struggles I could offer up as a reference to those who came after me. What I forgot is how time consuming it can be. Fortunately, I’m at a place where most of my work comes from editors I already know, or from networking with clients who need a writer for their website or annual report. I don’t do a lot of blind pitches. Obviously.

A big part is the editing. Editing your own writing is hard work. It seems like it shouldn’t take that long…just read through what you wrote, clean up the typos, make sure what you are saying is clear and precise. Sounds easy. That took me an entire afternoon. Next comes writing the pitch letters, getting the formula right, obsessing over every word. That’s an entire evening of work. Then there’s trying to find the right editor to send the pitch. It’s a fruitless Google search at every turn.

Last week’s March Pitch-a-Thon goal was to edit one previously written piece I had yet to publish and write a pitch letter for said piece. This week’s goal: to send it out and start researching my next project. I did want to note that I found two resources especially helpful last week: This piece on the Billfold, especially in regards to pitch length and whether to include the essay.

If personal essays are your thing, I would also recommend Jessica Olien’s Personal Essay Writing Workshop, an online course offered by media website Mediabistro. There are writing tips and exercises, which I found to be some of the best I’ve ever received, but she also has a wealth of information about pitching to publications that will save you lots of time learning the hard way.

First ever March Pitch-a-Thon

Is there anything worse than a blind pitch? Whether you’re writing one or getting one, pitches can be a painful process. To new writers, the successful pitch formula is an enigma never to be mastered. To editors, poorly written pitch letters litter their inbox like grocery store plastic bags. After five years of on-again-off-again freelancing, I still have trouble creating a pitch editors will bite on, at least when it comes to the blind pitch.

Each April, I teach a half-day freelance writing workshop at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications in Manchester. A big segment of the seminar is spent on pitching. My advice is to get to know some editors first and find out what kind of stories they are looking for. Do they want you to submit a completed story first, or do they want a short pitch to consider first? How long are their pieces? Will taking a few photos improve your chances of landing a story? What parts of the publication are easiest to break into? Etc…

Eventually I get to the blind pitch – a.k.a. pitching an editor whom you’ve never met or spoken with before, typically at a larger, national publication. Really that’s what everyone is there to hear, getting their byline in Real Simple or Field and Stream. It may be my lack of confidence in front of a crowd, but when I explain to them that the best I’ve ever been able to get out of blind pitch are a few emails back from an associate editor, followed by silence, I can see disappointment flash across their faces.

Next month, I am slated to teach my Freelance Writing Workshop again, this time for a full day. For this extended seminar, I’d like to come armed with new and useful information, and if what they’re really want are tips on blind pitches, I figured I better get some together.

Hence my self-imposed first ever March Pitch-a-Thon. For the month of March I will focus at least one day a week and all additional down time to pitching as many publications as possible. The emphasis will be on publications where I don’t know the editor and where I’ve never pitched before – blind pitches. I’ll provide updates here, as well as some samples of my writing and pitches, as a resource for my future seminar students. It’s also one of those public shaming, deadline-driven initiatives to ensure I actually get things done.

Here’s my to-do list as I open my first ever Pitch-a-Thon:

  1. Make a list of stories you can rewrite or re-purpose for a national publication.
  2. Conduct additional research or editing to get these pieces ready for submission.
  3. Write those pitches.
  4. Find the right editor to send my pieces and get those pitches out the door.
  5. Come up with a list of stories I’m going to research and write from scratch, and a list of possible publications to send them.
  6. Gather sources, photos and other important information editors would want to see with my pitch.
  7. Write and submit the pitches.

While I tackle #1-4 this week, I threw this little Eat Pray Love-style pep talk to watch (at the top of the page).


Tech Girls

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Girls Technology Day looks like it was a blast. It was certainly a blast writing about it.

High School Students Explore Computing and Engineering at Girls Technology Day

The computer tech boom of the past decade has created many new and exciting careers for young people, but what troubles people like Mihaela Sabin, associate professor and coordinator of the Computing Technology Program in the Division of Science and Technology at UNH Manchester, is that too few young women are entering the tech field.

“One stereotype that prevents girls from being interested in computing is about how technology professionals are perceived,” said Sabin. “Girls in middle school and high school imagine a lonely programmer working on a laptop, she said, with little collaboration or communication with co-workers and team mates. Unfortunately, many girls see working in technology as kind of geeky and lacking meaningful social interactions.”

Read more here:

Beth LaMontagne Hall

Portsmouth, NH, 603-373-8153

email: website:

Writer and editor with marketing and magazine experience; award-winning journalist with nearly 10 years of experience in New Hampshire daily news; and public relations specialist experienced in writing for both American and international clients.


BLH Writing Solutions, Portsmouth, N.H.,   Founder and Editor-in-Chief   1/13-present

Operator of a freelance writing company serving communications and marketing firms, non-profit organizations and magazines. Specialize in business and travel writing, web content, social media content, inbound marketing content, case studies, email newsletters, and promotional materials for businesses.

Louis Karno & Company, Concord, N.H.,   Public Relations Contributor   2/09-present

Write promotional copy, case studies, web content and other materials for both short and long-term projects. Clients including Covering New Hampshire, Waterville Valley Resort, Bistate Primary Care Association, and the Portuguese wine cooperative Vini Portugal.

New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester, N.H.,   Staff Reporter/Columnist   10/09-12/12

Covered Manchester politics and wrote a behind-the-scenes column about City Hall. Regularly wrote on tight deadline and quickly learned complex government programs and budgets. I strove to translate often-confusing material into interesting and accessible stories.

Freelance Writer, Portsmouth, N.H.,   12/07-10/09                                                                                   

Freelance writer for local and national publications, including local newspapers, the Associated Press, Campaigns and Elections Magazine, and Yankee Magazine. Balanced multiple assignments for various clients on a wide range of subjects, from national politics to local farmer markets.

Campaigns and Elections, Washington, D.C.   N.H. Political Correspondent   4/07-12/07

Covered the New Hampshire primary and state politics for this monthly magazine and its website, As sole reporter for the website, I wrote news stories, took photographs, and maintained event listings. Also wrote a daily email newsletter targeted at political insiders.

Portsmouth Herald, Portsmouth, N.H.   Staff Reporter   9/04–4/07

Covered general news in Maine and New Hampshire including personal features, town politics, and local crime. Created and wrote a political news column for the 2008 presidential primary and coordinated an award-winning right-to-know project.


Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications, Manchester, N.H.,   Workshop Instructor   2011-present

Created a one-day workshop on freelance writing, stressing the importance of balancing multiple assignments, staying organized, and the ability to write in different styles.


MA, Creative Writing and Publishing   Emerson College, Boston, Mass.,   December 2002

BA, Music; English minor   University of Miami, Coral Gables, Fla.,   May 1999


2011 New England Newspaper Press Association Award, 1st place in health reporting at the New Hampshire Union Leader for uncovering a bone marrow registry’s questionable billing practices.

2007 New England Newspaper Press Association Award, 1st place in government reporting for leading and writing an investigative news project at the Portsmouth Herald on public access to government records in the seacoast region.

Writing about the home office in the home office

As I noted in my Stay Work Play post, I’ve been working from home off and on for many years now, but my current job is the first where I actually have a home office. My first “home office” was my kitchen table, followed by a cheap desk in the corner of our living room. Today, my home office occupies half of my finished attic. Although it’s way too hot in the summer and a little too frigid in the winter, the privacy it affords is invaluable.

Below is a sample from my most recent SWP post, in which I cover the perks of being employed from home. Might I also add, it’s nice for a quick swim break, too?

5 Best Things About Working From Home

I have worked from home off and on for a variety of employers since 2007. My first assignment was running a political website for a Washington D.C.-based company during the New Hampshire primary season, then I started “stringing” for news organizations like the Associated Press and the Portsmouth Herald. In 2009, I had had enough of the freelance life and took an office position in Manchester. There I stayed until about a year ago, when I had my first child and decided working from home was where I wanted to be.

Working from home is something many New Hampshire companies embrace, whether it’s full-time, one day a week or just once in a while. I’ve found that some companies prefer to have me work independently from home, especially after I prove I can meet their deadline, or at the very least are willing to discuss how working from home can be incorporated into my office job role.

If working from home is something you want to ask your boss about, I say go for it. Just remember, it is not for everyone, especially those who need to feel the boss is watching to get stuff done. But if you are deadline driven and organized, working from home has major advantages. Here are a few:

BLH Writing Solutions blogs for The Quechee Club


As Editor-in-Chief of BLH Writing Solutions, I’d like to announce I will be working with Means-of-Production marketing services to launch a new blog for The Quechee Club in Vermont.

Like it’s name suggests, The Quechee Club is located in Quechee, VT., a quick drive from the Dartmouth-Hanover area and about an hour north Concord. Part of my task is to highlight not only The Quechee Club community and wealth of amenities, such as golf, skiing, tennis, private lake, athletic club and pool, but to also shine a light on all there is to do in the Quechee area.

Unfamiliar with this part of Vermont, I took a trip up the other day and was surprised to learn how much there is to do in the area. There’s a Simon Pearce gallery and restaurant, the Montshire Science Museum and the headquarters of King Authur Flour nearby (which may not sound like a big deal, but kinda is). There’s also the vast hiking and kayaking opportunities and of course the famous Quechee Gorge.

There is certainly no lack of material to cover. As I get started on the project this week, I’m looking forward to working with all the great people at Quechee and becoming an expert on the area.

My past year

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Part of the reason why I decided to go back to freelance writing and working from home is because of this little lady, my daughter Evelyn. She was born a year ago July 12, a point at which time began to take on a whole new meaning.

In those first few weeks, the days were drawn into long, seemingly unending cycles of feeding, crying, napping and my futile attempts to return to some sense of normalcy. As I tell my friends, that first month was the longest in my life.

But then the routine sank in and I started getting more than mere morsels of sleep — up to five hour uninterrupted! Heaven! Fall made way into the dark of winter and my daughter and I started getting to know each other.

In January, I began to feel the itch to write again, to be a part of the working world, so I reached out to my writing, editing and marketing contacts looking for a way to still be at home yet ease my way back into the workforce. There have been some tough weeks, but in general, launching BLH Writing Solutions has been everything I hoped it would be. I have the opportunity to work with creative and interesting people, write as much as I can and still the flexibility to spend time with Evelyn.

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On Sunday, my family gathered to celebrate the birth of my daughter. I made yellow cupcakes and a homemade chocolate frosting, which she accepted with the predictable messy results. There was torn wrapping paper and struggles to open toy packaging and in the end a couple tired tears, but overall a successful first year celebration.

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My husband and I talked later that evening about how this birthday celebration seemed to us not to be just about my daughter turning 1, but a chance for us to quietly celebrate making it through that tough first year. It made me realize why that first birthday celebration seems so important. It’s a baby’s first steps into childhood and a parent’s chance to heave a huge sigh and enjoy the fact that the longest days are over.

In the past year, I’ve raised a newborn through infancy, learning every step of the way. And I started a new business, too. It’s been a wonderful year.