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Since its inception in the 1980s, the IWOC monthly newsletter, Stet, has featured helpful news, tips, and information for IWOC members and the entire Chicagoland freelance writing community—including previews and recaps of IWOC meetings and events, book and service/software reviews, and advice for developing and sustaining business as an independent writer. As of January 2018, the standard monthly newsletter format has been replaced with the blog format contained on this page, which allows articles to be posted in a more timely fashion, and members to be more interactive by leaving comments. (Simply click on the 3 vertical dots next to each blog's headline.)

We invite contributions from all interested parties both inside and outside of IWOC. Our only criteria are writing quality and the usefulness of the information to independent writers. For information regarding submissions, contact the Stet editor.

ViSIT THE Stet ARCHIVES

Over the years, the Stet delivery format has evolved from snail-mailed paper copy to emailed PDF/HTML file to site-hosted, aggregated blog. Stet issues in PDF/HTML and aggregated-blog format from 2002 to 2017 are available for viewing in our archives.

  • To view PDF/HTML issues of Stet (published from 2002 to 2015), click here.
  • To view Stet in its aggregated-blog format (published from 2016 to 2017), click here.

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  • 09 Jun 2019 7:25 PM | Cynthia Tomusiak (Administrator)

    Fresh off our Magical Mystery "Life in the Freelance Lane"* tour, I’m seeing a pattern in some of the questions we get asked. No matter where we present, from the American Writers Museum to Skokie Library to the Career Transitions Center of Chicago...to our most recent presentation at Next Door Chicago (a buzzing community hive located in Lincoln Park), budding (or even seasoned) freelancers are consistently inquiring: 1) “Do I need to set up an LLC?” 2) “Do I need a license to start my freelance writing business?” and 3) “Do I need a tax permit?”

    Gonna be totally frank here. When I started out freelancing, none – and I mean none – of those questions ever crossed my mind. Under the heading of “Ignorance is Bliss,” I began my business simply by making cold calls, answering ads and joining IWOC. This was in 1989. Knock wood a million times, I’ve been working ever since. Yes, throughout the years there have been feasts and famines. But overall, the work has been steady. Apparently Ignorance has paid off, and freed me to just dive in and start earning a living doing what I love. Again, knock wood.

    So for the record, let’s unpack each of the questions with as pithy an answer as I can muster.

    1). “Do I need to set up my business as an LLC?” Disclaimer: I’m no lawyer. But from the way it was explained to me, LLC’s do have some advantages, such as:

    • You can set up a 401k, which you can even borrow against should the need arise.
    • It protects you against liability.
    • You can pursue giant clients, who sometimes like that protection.

    Taking all that into consideration, here’s the most sensible advice I’ve heard from experts: START MAKING MONEY FIRST. I also have to say that unless you intend to engage in slander, lies and plagiarism, there ain’t a whole lot you can be sued for when you’re on assignment. But don’t quote me on any of this. Best to consult an attorney. (We have a great one right here in our midst: IWOC member Marci Rolnik Walker of Lawyers for the Creative Arts.)

    2).“Do I need a license to start my freelance writing business?”Not unless you’re planning to also give Botox injections. Or sell booze. Or offer hair weaving services. That sort of thing. In other words, even if you’re getting paid for it, you don’t need a license to write.

    3). “Do I need a tax permit?” Not quite sure what is meant by that. But the only thing related to taxes that I deal with is paying them quarterly, using the 1040-ES (Federal) and IL-1040-ES (State) forms you can download from online. You can also pay online. But I am not a CPA either. So my advice would be to talk to your trusty accountant to discuss your particular situation.

    The bottom line is this: Freelance writing is probably one of the easiest businesses in the world to set up. Yes, you can chase your tail, make sure all your ducks are in a row, get sidetracked with articles and classes that will give you every imaginable and confusing – and even irrelevant “how-to.” Writers are infamous procrastinators, and sometimes, all these “to-dos” are nothing more than procrastination tactics.

    To start working as a freelance writer, all you really need is your computer and a phone. Oh yes, and your talent. That’s it. You’re ready to hang out your shingle.

    Now, as those experts advise: Just. Start!

    - Laura Stigler

    * "Life in the Freelance Lane: Business Basics for Freelance Writing Success" is presented regularly at various venues throughout Chicago and surrounding suburbs. Regular speakers are Jeff Steele and Laura Stigler, along with alternating presenters George Becht, Sally Chapralis and David Steinkraus. If you'd like to join our speakers roster or host a presentation at your venue, please contact president@iwoc.org or scribsteel@ameritech.net

    (Members can comment by clicking on the vertical dots next to the headline.)


  • 03 May 2019 7:28 AM | Cynthia Tomusiak (Administrator)

    Apps, blogs and self-help books aside, arguably the simplest, most effective organizational tool I have ever come across is the Eisenhower Box. Perhaps you’ve already heard of it. Maybe even from me, as I’ve touched upon the subject in last month’s StetBlog about March’s Roundtable. But it’s worth delving into, as it really has helped resolve my perennial Spring Cleaning resolution, “I’ve GOT to get more organized!” Maybe it will help resolve yours. After all, better organized = more productive.

    In a convenient nutshell – or box: The Eisenhower Box was (obviously) devised by the 34th U.S. President himself. And if anyone would have a supremely efficient organizational strategy, it would be a WWII 5-star General.

    So...

    ATTENTION! Note the four quadrants in the accompanying diagram. Particularly the headings “Urgent” and “Not Urgent.” Those two words alone have cleared my brain’s obstacle course, so that when about to attack a particular task, I’m automatically asking myself, “Is this urgent?” Most of the time it turns out to be a covert procrastination trap. A sinister distraction from getting to things that are urgent. Like deadlines.

    As an example of how I incorporate the Eisenhower Box in my day, I will run through the mundanities of last Sunday. (Spoiler alert: If you think the life of an IWOC President is all State Dinners and croquet matches in the Rose Garden, you will quickly be disabused of that notion.)

    The four tasks at hand, NOT in the order of urgency: 1) A Wednesday assignment deadline, 2) IWOC emails, 3) cooking a brisket for two guests, 4) cleaning (for the guests). While everything on that list initially had me in panic mode, I put myself at ease by thinking “Urgent/Important” and “Not Urgent/Important.” Like disciplined soldiers, everything dutifully fell into place and in this order: Cleaning, Brisket, IWOC emails, Deadline. I deleted the “Non-Urgent/Non-Important”-- the trifles that always manage to lure me off course: Polishing a pewter votive, clipping coupons, treating cuticles, catching the Sunday morning news shows – and dozens of others.

    Yesterday (Monday) had presented a whole new list of “to-dos,” demanding a reconnaissance thereof. What I decided to put off Sunday as “Not Urgent/Important,” now has moved to Urgent/Important: The Assignment Deadline. Also urgent: This Post, also due Wednesday. Of the two, paid work takes precedence. So I completed that yesterday, and today (Tuesday), I'm this close to finishing the Post. Wooo Woooo! Missions accomplished!

    Nothing like the feeling of getting one’s to-dos...done. Are yours? Stop reading this and start tackling what’s “Urgent.” Forward...march!

    - Laura Stigler

    (Members can comment by clicking on the vertical dots next to the headline.)


  • 03 May 2019 7:11 AM | Cynthia Tomusiak (Administrator)

    Have you been totally rejected lately? Have you applied for a job or sent something in to a publisher and received a form rejection back? They’re always the same—impersonal, indifferent, coldly standardized. Don’t despair, Jimbo’s here and I am a master of rejection. In my younger days, I was rejected by countless women. Maybe that was because I looked like Quasimodo and had a hump on my face! But most of my rejections came from magazines that shot down the articles or stories I sent in.

    The rejections piled up; in fact, I literally papered the wall with them. Worst of all, they were always form rejections, which inspired my revenge. I found a brilliant way to get back and make a point, which I joyfully share with you now as a way of getting even and who knows?—maybe a way of getting what you want. I devised this rejection of their rejection letter.

    Dear _____________ Magazine.

    Thank you for your recent submission of a rejection letter to my article suggestion. It has been carefully reviewed by our editorial staff and, unfortunately, has been found unacceptable. This in no way reflects on the quality of your rejection; it simply means that rejection is not suited to our purposes at this time.

    We apologize for the form letter, but the sheer number of rejections we receive makes it impossible to respond personally. We wish you luck in rejecting other people and thank you for thinking of rejecting Jim Ardito.

    I sent that letter out and got some wonderful responses back from editors, including a rejection of my rejection of their rejection letter. This letter allowed me to establish a relationship with one editor who eventually did publish an article. See? Being a smart aleck and wiseass can pay off. Rejection? Who needs it? We get enough of it in life—especially if you have a hump on your face! P.S. My picture has been edited.

    Lobster Fra Diavolo (Brother Devil)

    (Lobster in Spicy Marinara Sauce)

    Leap from rejection to utter love and acceptancewith this dish. In Italian, the “brother devil” in the name comes from the addition of red pepper, which adds nicea spicea. This is truly my favorite food in the world and that covers a lot of dishes—the essence of lobster permeates every loving spoonful of the sauce and each strand of luscious linguini. When I was growing up, this was our family Christmas Eve, “White Dish” favorite. My mother did not particularly love it or any shellfish, but she wasn’t selfish so she served it anyway. Oh, reject adding parmesan cheese. That’s forbidden with this recipe and most every Italian fish dish.

    Third, I explained how people buy books in a bookstore or off a rack in a drugstore or from some retailer. Think about it: how do you buy a book? Tons of research shows that readers attracted by a book’s cover pick it up from the shelf, open it or turn it around, and read the blurb on the inside flap or the back cover. Readers who like what they see may then check the table of contents (nonfiction) and read a page or two. If they like that small sample, they may take the book to the cashier and buy it. Or not.

    What youza need:

    3 Tbls olive oil

    10 unclothed cloves of garlic (this dish is spicy!)

    1 onion (chopped)

    Salt, pepper to taste

    ¼ cup oregano, 10 leaves fresh basil, garlic powder, 2 bay leaves

    4 16 oz. cans Contadina Crushed Tomatoes in Puree (if you’re making this, make a lot)

    2 whole lobsters (3 if you can swing it—Super H market in Niles often has live lobsters for $8.00 a lb)

    Red pepper flakes (shakes to taste)

    ½ cup parsley

    1 ½ cups white wine

    What youza do:

    This is gross, but you’re going to have to kill the lobsters or have the fish monger do it. Is there a humane way to kill a lobster? Is that an oxymoron? Who knows, but I’ve read about this and the jury seems to be out as to whether lobsters feel pain and if you can get a life sentence for killing them? The prevailing opinion is that the best way to do them in is to numb them first in the freezer for 15 minutes to an hour, then plunge a sharp knife straight down right behind the eyes. Yikes! Sorry to bring up an indelicate point when discussing a delicacy – and it really is—so don’t hesitate for a second to kill them and cook this anyway. (Sorry, PETA people.)

    After they’re dead and you’ve expressed proper remorse (seriously), cut the belly open. I used to throw out the “tamale” (a.k.a. guts). I now know this is considered a sacrilege since the tamale is a source of much lobster flavor.

    Heat the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onions and then the garlic. Remove these babies, add a little more oil, put the lobsters in and sauté them until they turn as crimson as a Cape Cod sunset. Remove lobsters, put onions and garlic back in, add tomatoes, wine and all the spices. Simmer for around an hour. Add lobsters and cook on medium high heat for no more than 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and go read the Brothers Karamazov. In short, wait a long time.

    The longer you let this sauce sit, the better. Let it rest for at least three hours, but it’s best if you can keep it in the fridge overnight. This really transforms the dish and I strongly recommend it. Reheat the sauce just before the linguini is done. Cook your pasta al denti, pour it onto a platter and add sauce quickly so the pasta doesn’t get pasty. Place at least one lobster in the center, garnish with parsley and serve proudly. The presentation looks spectacular and the taste is incomparable. Your guests will go wild—expect it and accept it.

    - James Ardito

    (Members can comment by clicking on the vertical dots next to the headline.)


  • 08 Apr 2019 8:45 PM | Cynthia Tomusiak (Administrator)

    I had a call a few days ago from a woman who told me she found my name in the IWOC directory and is looking for someone who will ghostwrite her autobiography. She said she’s led a fascinating life and wants to put her story into book form to share with others.

    This is not the kind of ghostwriting that I do. I told her, though, that I had a couple of questions for her along with a suggestion.

    First, I asked what books she reads. She replied that she reads some articles but rarely any books. My response was to tell her that before thinking about writing a book, she needs to read. And read. And then read some more. You can’t write books without reading books.

    Second, I asked her who she thought would buy her book and who would read her book; they’re not always the same. She said she hadn’t really thought about that. I suggested she think hard about an audience because writing the book is only about one third to a half of the project she has in mind. There’s a lot more effort needed to get rid of all those books once you’ve done the work and been published.

    Third, I explained how people buy books in a bookstore or off a rack in a drugstore or from some retailer. Think about it: how do you buy a book? Tons of research shows that readers attracted by a book’s cover pick it up from the shelf, open it or turn it around, and read the blurb on the inside flap or the back cover. Readers who like what they see may then check the table of contents (nonfiction) and read a page or two. If they like that small sample, they may take the book to the cashier and buy it. Or not.

    Then I gave her an assignment. I told her to write a blurb about her book, something that would entice a reader to make that purchase. She has no idea at this point what form her book will take; she hasn’t yet found a writer. But she knows her story. I told her writing a blurb of about two hundred words will help her focus on what she wants to say and how she wants to say it. Most important it will make her think about how to make her story appealing to a reader—and a ghostwriter.

    Writing and publishing a book is a process, and it’s work—hard work. It requires planning, organizing, honing, lots of rewriting, and, before typing a single word, figuring out who the book’s reader is going to be. The process is the same whether you’re going to approach a professional publisher or take the self-publishing route. And so is marketing the book. The days of finding a publisher who will guide and coach first-time authors and then turn their work into a marketable product are long gone.

    I asked whether my caller was offended by my questions and suggestions. No, she said, she was grateful. Our little ten-minute telephone conversation had helped her figure out what a big job lies ahead, how likely or unlikely it is that she’ll be able to complete the task she’s set for herself, and whether it’s worth her time and energy. I wished her good luck and told her to read some books—lots of books.

    - Jim Kepler

    (Members can comment by clicking on the vertical dots next to the headline.)


  • 08 Apr 2019 3:53 PM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)

    Sometimes the best laid plans of mice and IWOC can suddenly go awry. (My apologies to Robert Burns.) Such was the case with “Networking Made Easy,” last month’s scheduled program that had to be cancelled at the 11thhour, due to the speaker’s family emergency. Having been in situations ourselves where life throws you a curveball, we completely understood and expressed our concern and good wishes to the speaker. But we also knew we had work to do. And fast. Like Wonder Woman swooping down in the nick of time, Membership Chair Alicia Dale came through. “Let’s do a Roundtable!” she declared triumphantly, arms akimbo. Bam! Zoom! Pow! The day was saved.

    Roundtables just happen to be one of IWOC’s most popular annual programs in which freelance writers of all levels get together to give and get advice. Upon learning this, any disappointment attendees felt at the unexpected change of topics was fleeting. In fact, they soon came to realize that what we were about to embark on was networking in action! 

    After everyone voted to arrange all 15 chairs in a group-therapy-like circle, Alicia asked one pointed question: “What’s on your mind?” That was it. Topics came whizzing through the air faster than speeding bullets. Concern after concern was each met head-on with sound solutions, backed with common sense and experience. Let’s reverse the rotation of the Earth a bit and touch upon at least some of the topics covered on the eve of March 12:

    Concern: What if, for whatever reason, a client refuses to pay?

    Solutions: There are many ways to approach this one. 1) Sometimes clients aren’t aware of what goes into a project, and you need to get into a dialog. 2) Then there are times when ya just have to “eat it.” And learn from that most effective teacher of all: Experience. Which will teach you: 3) It’s always a good idea to have clients sign a contract that states conditions and terms of payment. Sample contracts are available to members at IWOC’s Member Resources. 4) Arrange up front for a “Kill Fee.” 5) When all else fails, there’s always Small Claims Court. 

    Concern: How do you get new business if you don’t have time to pitch new clients?

    Solution: It’s all about time management. A fantastically simple way to organize your hours is the Eisenhower Box.

    Concern: How do you beat the fear of cold calling?

    Solution: Like jumping in a cold swimming pool: Just do it. Do it enough and you get used to it. Given the cold shoulder? You can’t take it personally because they don’t know you! But always first ask if they “have a moment.” Also, there’s a phenomenon called Cold Calling Karma. Start making calls and seemingly out of nowhere, other opportunities will arise.

    • More great info that was shared: 

    ·        The value of Grammarly
    ·        Finding a quality editor
    ·        When to charge by the hour vs. by the project 
    ·        Resources for job ops and how to structure your fees 

    The evening was chockful of those kind of inspiring and informative thoughts. They always are at these Roundtables. If you missed this one, not to worry. We’ll be scheduling another in the Fall. But for now and to all those who planned and participated in this Roundtable, thank you. You performed heroically!

    -- Laura Stigler

  • 01 Mar 2019 6:47 PM | Cynthia Tomusiak (Administrator)

    A few weeks ago, we unleashed a Survey Monkey out to about 750 of our contacts, made up of IWOC members, former members and those who’ve yet to join. Why did we do this? Guess it’s like those written “interviews” we’d pass around to our secret crushes in elementary school: We wanted to know what everyone really thinks of IWOC. We kept it anonymous, so respondents could feel free to voice their honest opinions, without fear of the Monkey coming after them and wreaking havoc in their homes.

    Last week, our well-trained survey simian fetched the responses. The results had us swinging from the chandeliers.

    The first thing I’d like to share is our members’ ranking of the various features/benefits IWOC offers. Here’s how they all panned out, starting with the top banana:

    1. Informative monthly programs
    2. Online Profile Directory
    3. Networking ops
    4. Camaraderie
    5. Writer’s Line Job Board
    6. Program Podcasts
    7. Opportunity to sell books (such as at LitFest, CWIP Publishing Fair)
    8. Stet blog
    9. Parties
    10. Other (Mentoring was mentioned)

    The fact that Monthly Programs rated #1 was extremely rewarding. Since IWOC’s inception, thinking of interesting, relevant programs has been a major challenge. Yet somehow, we’re still able to offer them every month – one of the benefits that sets IWOC apart from most other Chicago writers organizations. Kudos to our Program Committee for consistently coming through.

    As a close second banana, the Online Profile Directory missed the top spot by a hair. Its appeal is quite understandable, considering it provides members with worldwide, 24/7/365 exposure to their services for the mere price of a Professional membership. Try buying an ad for that kind of coverage at that price! Get one job out of it, and you’ve more than made up the cost.

    The rest of the rankings are self-explanatory, and were followed by a whole bunch of positive comments. Thank you for those!

    There were also some issues raised that deserved answers. But alas, with the respondents being anonymous, it was impossible to address their concerns directly. So I will try here:

    Issue: Location. A few non-members lamented that we always have the monthly programs in Chicago, as opposed to the suburbs. For them, having to travel to meetings was a non-starter. To this we say:

    1. Program podcasts are posted on the “Members Resource” page of the IWOC website, so no need for members to travel. Granted, you won’t be able to ask questions and engage in the lively art of networking, but at least you’d be privy to all the valuable info.

    2. After 5:00pm, $8.00 parking is available (with validation) next door in the Bloomingdale’s building. Also, there are apps (Ex.: Spot Hero) that can guide you to discounted parking in the area.

    Issue: Writers’ needs. One previous member said IWOC didn’t meet their writerly needs. It would have been helpful to hear suggestions as to how their needs could be met. If that response was yours, please contact me to opine.

    Issue: Parties. Apparently one respondent was tired of IWOCFest being held in Greektown. Hmm. To paraphrase Samuel Johnson, “To tire of Greek food is to tire of life.” But popular as Greek has been, there’s no reason not to contemplate changing the venue. We already have some FESTive ideas percolating.

    So what have we learned?

    1. That IWOC is serving its members well. And it shall continue to do so, from offering informative programs to maintaining a comprehensive Online Profile Directory, promoting members’ notable news and providing a hub in which friendly fellow freelancers can congregate to exchange advice – or just to laugh, dine and kibitz.

    2. That there is always room to improve. But this is where we’ll need your help. Let us know your needs, what you feel is missing, Program suggestions – anything! Be specific. And we’ll get busy filling in those blanks.

    Thank you for taking the time to participate in the Survey. Hope you found it more fun than a barrel of – well, ya know.

    - Laura Stigler

    P.S. Let’s jump up and down in appreciation for Membership Chair Alicia Dale, who wrangled the Survey Monkey and made it happen!

    (Members can comment by clicking on the vertical dots next to the headline.)


  • 05 Jan 2019 3:10 PM | Cynthia Tomusiak (Administrator)

    Like those charming monkeys in the zoo, I’d like to throw something at you. Not to worry, though. I’m merely talking about a few questions that will help us figure out how exactly IWOC should move forward as we swing into 2019.

    Do we continue on the trajectory we’ve been moving, ever adding new features, new benefits, new programs, etc.? Or do we evolve into another direction entirely? After much head (and side) scratching, we of the Board of Directors thought why not get feedback from the ones who matter most: You!

    Whether you’re a member, a former member, or haven’t yet made the leap to join, we want to hear from you. So very shortly, a Survey Monkey will be comin’ atcha, bearing only two questions. All responses will be anonymous. That way, Monkey can say whatever Monkey like. Without fear of having to fend off any banana projectiles.

    Thank you in advance for taking a moment to answer. Until then, wishing you all a very Productive, Healthy and Hoo-Ha-Hoo-Ha-Happy New Year!

    - Laura Stigler

    (Members can comment by clicking on the vertical dots next to the headline.)


  • 28 Nov 2018 7:37 PM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)


    Ulrich Sandmeyer 1948 - 2018

    My heart is heavy. Ulrich Sandmeyer, who co-founded Sandmeyer's Bookstore with his wife Ellen in the 1980s, has passed away. The young, idealistic couple created an independent book store that is cherished by local residents and worldwide visitors who stumble upon it as they stay in nearby hotels. In this authentic independent book store, you'll find local authors and not readily-found children's books. A cork board showcases the accomplishments of writers and events of interest to them. Artful greeting cards and grandly designed notebooks are available to inspire readers and writers. It's easy to spend an afternoon in the cozy former printing warehouse with the original restored wood floors that creak as the reader walks through to explore the lovingly displayed books. The young visionary couple was instrumental in establishing the Printers Row community. 

    Printers Row has been an unlikely neighborhood in the center of a commercial environment since the 1980s. Sandmeyer's Bookstore is a structural component of the transformation from a defunct block of printing warehouses into a neighborhood of residential loft living. In the 1980’s and early 90’s an eclectic group of people willing to live without access to a grocery store and endure the risk of petty crime in this unnoticed neighborhood occupied the lofts Printers Row and housing of Dearborn Park. We were all frequent visitors of Sandmeyer's knowing that the Sandmeyers saw the jewel inside the urban grime, the potential the neighborhood held and  it's emerging promise. 

    The vision of this idealistic pioneering couple  transformed the neighborhood into a haven for independent writers. Sandmeyer's was an early supporter of the Printers Row Book Fair that at one time drew a handful of visitors and has now evolved into Printers Row Lit Fest that draws tens of thousands of visitors, artists and authors from around the world to celebrate the influence of the written word and those that are brave enough to invest in sharing it.  The Independent Writers of Chicago, also formed in the early 1980’s, has been a participant in the revolution with an annual booth just steps outside of Sandmeyer's.

    Mr. Ulrich will be appropriately memorialized at Grace Place Community Center in the heart of the Printers Row community he helped to build. Grace Place is an interfaith organization known as a Community Center because there's an old Chicago law on the books that won't allow a bar next to a faith organization. 

    In lieu of flowers, the Sandmeyers suggest donations to the Chicago Public Library Foundation https://cplfoundation.org/. Services will be held Saturday, December 1 at 11:00 AM at Grace Place (637 S. Dearborn St., Chicago, IL).

    As the South Loop Neighborhood continues to transform and grow with expanding universities, businesses and upscale rental living, it will serve us well to remember our roots and the contribution of Ulrich and Ellen Sandmeyer, who with youthful optimism  were willing to risk and invest to create so much. 

    Ulrich Sandmeyer, you will be dearly missed.

  • 18 Nov 2018 2:14 PM | Cynthia Tomusiak (Administrator)

    Jay Newton-Small was desperate. The Washington, D.C.-based founder and CEO of MemoryWell, a site that relates stories of elderly people entering memory care, needed a writer, and she needed one fast. Newton-Small had journeyed to the Chicago area to host family nights at three local nursing homes, where writers would interview residents and their loved ones in preparation to crafting stories. I had interviewed two residents at Brookdale in Hoffman Estates, but was not available for the next day's sessions at St. Paul's House on Chicago's North Side and at Lutheran Home, an assisted living facility in Arlington Heights.

    When Newton-Small found she had more residents waiting for interviews than anticipated, but faced a shortage of writers, she put out an emergency appeal to me. Knowing IWOC's Katherine Mikkelson lived in Arlington Heights, I told Jay I'd reach out to Katherine.

    In near miraculous fashion, Katherine said she would make herself available at a moment's notice to visit Lutheran Home, about a mile from her residence, conduct multiple interviews and turn around the resulting articles in a week's time. Within minutes, I had introduced the two women by email. Katherine found herself with a new client likely to hire her repeatedly for future family nights at Lutheran Home, and Newton-Small had averted a writer shortage.

    It was a case of IWOC's mission – which includes bringing writers and paying clients together for mutual benefit – being fulfilled yet again.

    And on this occasion at the 11th hour.

    - Jeff Steele

    (Members can comment by clicking on the vertical dots next to the headline.)


  • 18 Nov 2018 2:09 PM | Cynthia Tomusiak (Administrator)

    Anticipation built steadily among both attendees and presenters as the minutes ticked down to IWOC's Wednesday, September 26th Life in the Freelance Lane presentation at the American Writers Museum on Michigan Avenue in Chicago's Loop.

    IWOC president Laura Stigler, vice president George Becht and member Jeff Steele had honed their talk across many previous appearances before library, church and civic groups. But this night promised to be different. The three veteran Chicago-area scribes would soon stride to the dais in the recently-inaugurated shrine to America's most glittering literati.

    By the time AWM program director Allison Sansone introduced the speakers, 37 current and would-be freelancers had filled row upon row of Readers Hall seats in rapt anticipation of the much-publicized address. By all accounts, they did not come away disappointed.

    The insightful program laid out a sensible, easy-to-follow guide through the rewards and roadblocks of launching a freelance career. It was followed by 45 minutes of well-informed and discussion-provoking questions from audience members, who quizzed the IWOCans on a broad array of topics, from how to garner assignments and the various ways to charge, to contracts, pay hike requests and strategies to convince late-paying clients to pony up.

    Ably supported by IWOC veterans Richard Eastline, Alicia Dale and Claire Nicolay, who had eagerly joined the fun, the trio of presenters took turns fielding queries, serving up insights earned the hard way over their combined near century in the freelance writing trenches. When it was all over and the IWOC speakers had departed the stage to a round of applause, the reviews were universally favorable. As one captivated attendee wrote:

    “My thanks to you . . . in sharing your experience and ideas! You helped me look at my work from new angles. Although I might be the one freelance writer who is content to get by without ‘maximizing’ profits, I do care about building my business so that I might be able to land new and interesting gigs. Your advice will, I believe, help me do that!”

    - anonymous

    (Members can comment by clicking on the vertical dots next to the headline.)


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