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Stet Blog

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. 

Whether or not you're a member of IWOC, we invite your contributions. Our only criteria are writing quality and the usefulness of the information to writers. IWOC reserves the right to gently edit submissions. For information regarding submissions, contact the Stet editor.


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.

  • 28 Feb 2023 5:27 PM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)

    As you may recall, in my October 2022 blog I sounded the alarm about the ABC Test and AB5 laws that have disastrously affected the livelihoods of millions of freelancers and small businesses in California. Proposals of copycat laws have been taken up in states nationwide, including right here in Illinois. This is not good. 

    To (re)familiarize yourself with an overview of the situation, I invite (urge) you to read the October blog. Here are a few more things I’m inviting (urging) you to do to get a feel for the real impact of these laws and what they could mean for your business — and that of your clients’. These are the easy-to-do actions suggested by Lila Stromer, a New York-based self-employed editor who has been deeply involved in fighting this issue and has been my main source for getting the correct information to you. From her weekly newsletters:

    1. If you do nothing else, take 9 minutes to view this video of Rep. Kevin Kiley  (R-CA), chair of the subcommittee on Workforce Protections in the U.S. House of Representatives. He “takes on the USDOL (U.S. Dept. of Labor) and the PRO (Protecting the Right to Organize) Act,” mentioning “many of the fields that have been harmed” due to California’s AB5 Act and the PRO Act — facsimiles thereof that are attempting to move through the U.S. Congress.  

    2. Read H. RES. 72, a one-page, very digestible resolution proposed by U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA-48).  Summed up as Recognizing the contributions of independent workers and contractors to the American economy,” it gets what freelancers are all about.

    3. From Lila’s newsletter: “Good interview on how AB5/ABC Test destroyed/is destroying freelancer businesses across hundreds of fields. Use the examples listed when making noise to legislators. It also makes clear how many fields were damaged in California by AB5, and what could happen to freelancers if similar bills pass in other states or at the federal level. It also includes excellent advice on what noise to make right now. It’s an interview on YouTube and just about 10 minutes long. Well worth your time!

    4. Express your opposition to any bill in Illinois based on the AB5, ABC Test and PRO Act, all of which infringe on the working rights of Independent Contractors and small business owners. Contact bill sponsors IL Rep. Will Guzzardi (D- 39th District) and IL Rep. Marcus Evans (D-33rd District)

    5. CALL TO ACTIONCall the HELP Committee members to tell them why the PRO Act with the ABC Test is so harmful for freelancers across the nation (since you will probably be speaking to someone who isn’t your senator).

    When contacting legislators, you can briefly mention how and why you’ve chosen the freelance life. In essence, no politician has the right to tell us freelancers how we choose to work and live. 

    This is our fight. Have at it.

    -- Laura Stigler 

  • 01 Feb 2023 6:36 PM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)

    Brace yourself. I’ll be the first to admit this is about a first world problem. Knock wood, it wasn’t tragic. Not life or death. As far as real problems go on a scale from 1 to 10, this one rates about a minus 12. Nevertheless, first world problems can be irksome. Irksome to the point of crazed obsession. Such was mine.

    The one I’m referring to started when I happened to be browsing on Etsy and came across a bracelet. Not an expensive one at all – on sale for $12.00! – but truly delicate and lovely. Seven lapis lazuli stones strung in an intricate silver setting. I had to have it. Had to. I ordered. Two weeks later, it arrived from India. I opened it and it was just as lovely as had been pictured. However, the clasp was of the toggle variety. A tricky little thing that could make putting on a bracelet more complicated than necessary. Oh, well. The bracelet was still too pretty to pass up.

    I attempted to put it on. 15 minutes later, I was still attempting. It was becoming a ridiculous, expletive-ridden struggle. I wanted my money back, and wrote to the seller telling him so. He could only offer 50% refund and told me to keep the bracelet. Deal. But I could not rest. After all, toggles have been fastening jewelry for millennia. Surely Cleopatra knew how to work it. Why couldn’t I? There had to be an answer. 

    Seeking wisdom, I visited the Dalai Lama of modern life’s mysteries: I went to YouTube. Sure enough, there was a demonstration unlocking the secret of this enigmatic doo-dad: “Let gravity do its work.” Aha! I carefully followed the pointers when...Eureka! I did it! I solved the mystery! I was overjoyed. I immediately wrote the seller, telling him to forget the refund. “I LOVE THIS BRACELET!!!” I told him, just to make him happy. “Very good, Kind Buyer,” he replied. “Now I could retire.”

    But that wasn't the end of it. Oh, noooo. Like “A Christmas Story’s” Ralphie with his Red Ryder bb gun, I couldn’t wait to play with the bracelet. Over and over, I practiced The Toggle. It kept working like a charm. Finally I put it away, and went about my business for the rest of the day. Then, right before I went to bed, I wanted to play with the bracelet just one more time, ignoring one of my husband Ken’s oft repeated axioms, “Never do anything technical after 8:00pm.” (One night, after 8pm, I upgraded the software on my iPhone. Big mistake.) This wasn’t a technical matter per se, but the axiom still applied. Nevertheless, I put the bracelet on. Nice! I then proceeded to take it off, when...oh, no. The toggle wouldn’t budge. Wait, what??? It went on so easily! Why can’t I unlock it? I pushed. I pulled. I twisted. I started breaking into a sweat. 

    It is now 2:00 am. Alone in the living room, working under a 60 watt bulb for the last hour, I managed to contort my hand into a claw-like pincer and was able to roll the bracelet off, providing a bit of relief. But still, I couldn’t unlock the blasted thing. Imagine an anchor being caught between two parallel iron bars. It seemed near impossible to undo. I was beside myself.

    The whole thing started taking on a symbolism of nonsensical proportions. All night I was tossing and turning. It’s stuck. I’m stuck. In my dreams. In the city. In a lyric. In life. Every time I look at another piece of jewelry, I’ll forever be reminded of how stupid I was, not leaving a good thing alone. I had to keep playing with the bracelet after hours, didn’t I. When I should have just gone to bed. I’m such an idiot. 

    Naturally, Ken is getting the brunt of all this. But sage that he is, he remained calm, simply stating, “Let it go. It’ll happen. It’s geometry.” It’s true, I thought. The hypotenuse of it, or whatever, will somehow work itself out. I started to make peace with the situation. At least I could roll the bracelet on and off and, wanting to put a good spin on it, thought maybe the fact that the lock was so intertwined, symbolized our marriage. Us. Together. Intertwined -- in a good way. I could live with that.

    Two more days pass. In the wee hours of the second night, I woke up with a start. For some reason unknown, I decided to fiddle with the bracelet one more time. I took the bracelet out of my jewelry box, went to the living room, turned on the lamp and started to push the toggle. I’ve no idea of what I did differently or how it happened, but suddenly the lock released, and snakelike, the bracelet cascaded down into one straight, glorious strand. My jaw, quite literally, dropped. Staring at it in disbelief, I was utterly in shock. Geometry! It was like witnessing Houdini suddenly break loose from his labyrinth of chains. It was magical. 

    The impossible was possible after all.

    Believe it or not, I somehow knew this would turn out right. Because in some way, looking back, the whole incident was kind of like the process of writing, when we get stuck sometimes. We become obsessed and overwrought. How do we get out of it? Three lessons:

    1. Let it go. Talk a walk. Take a nap. Walk the dog. Wash the dishes. When you least suspect it, without knowing how or why, the answer will cascade down from the heavens. 

    2. Calmly say to yourself, “It will happen.” Then leave it at that. That simple phrase puts a positive wave out there, opening the path for your mind, your gift to come through. Always. 

    3. Never do anything technical after 8:00pm.

    Bracelets. Writing. It’s all magical.

    -- Laura Stigler

  • 01 Feb 2023 4:24 PM | Sarah Klose (Administrator)

    Summer in the streets. Garland Jeffreys onstage at Square Roots Festival. Songwriter and singer of blues/soul/rock/reggae. I want to hear him croon Wild in the Streets, Matador, 96 Tears  and more. Sure enough, Garland sings them all, belting out the lyrics. I joyfully sing and dance along.

    Lin Brehmer, the wonderful disc jockey at WXRT, loved to play the rousing song  R.O.C.K. by Garland Jeffreys. I’ve listened to XRT forever -- at home, in the car, wherever, whenever -- and always enjoyed Brehmer broadcasts. I loved hearing Lin exclaim, “It’s great to be alive.” Loved hearing him blast songs over the airwaves and share witty insights. His comforting voice was like that of a friend. He’d say, “This is Lin Brehmer. Your best friend in the whole world.”

    Lin also wrote creative, thoughtful personal essays and read them on the air. This was to answer listener’s questions, such as “Do You Ever Listen to Vinyl?” and “Have You Ever Chopped Down Your Own Christmas Tree?” I enjoyed how he made listeners laugh, think -- and feel good about life.

    Then, a little over a week ago, Lin Brehmer died of cancer. Oh no! Like other long-time Chicago listeners, I don’t know how to mourn a loss that feels so personal. To try to process this, I‘ve done the following:

    - Listened to XRT’s 4-hour tribute twice: live the first time, on the Audacy app the second time (it’s posted there, I believe through Feb 5). There are some great nuggets on there, such as how Lin could quote from Shakespeare as easily as from Animal House.

    - Thought about being at Yakzie’s for the XRT live broadcasts on Cubs opening day. Lin Brehmer with Terri Hemmert, the Regular Guy, rock bands, blues bands, song spoof singers -- all there live, in person, to entertain us. And they did!

    - Searched my photos until I found it: the one from Heaven on Seven, taken on a Fat Tuesday. I was surprised to see Lin Brehmer there. We chatted -- such a friendly guy -- and he posed for a picture with me. I didn’t know he liked that restaurant so much, until XRT said so recently.

    Then I think back...when did I see Garland Jeffreys sing outdoors near the Old Town School of Folk Music? I find a review of the show online. A photo shows him singing into the microphone, wearing a purple shirt like I remember. The text says Garland thanked XRT for playing his music more than they do in New York, where he comes from. The concert was on July 20, 2012. I think, that long ago?

    Lin Brehmer once wrote a beautiful essay about time passing, perhaps titled “What Is Time?” I crank up R.O.C.K., which Lin considered his personal anthem, and sing along.

    R.O.C.K. by Garland Jeffreys

    All of the kids where I come from
    Tell the same old story
    They want to be in a rock 'n' roll band
    Get them a piece of the glory

    You can feel it in a heartbeat
    You can feel it like a soul beat
    You can hear it in the bass line
    You can feel it in the backbeat

    R.O.C.K. rock
    It's sweeping across the nation
    R.O.C.K. rock
    It's coming from my generation
    R.O.C.K. rock
    It's giving me a great sensation
    R.O.C.K. rock
    Wanna hear it on the radio station

    It rescued me from a fate
    That's worse than death
    Just like a destiny
    It gives me new breath

    You can feel it... R.O.C.K. rock...

    Turn it up

    Songwriter: Garland Jeffreys

    R.O.C.K. lyrics © Black & White Alike Inc., Black & White Alike Inc

    -- Sarah Klose

  • 28 Nov 2022 3:32 PM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)

    No, this may not be the cheeriest of Holiday messages, but in the spirit of giving, I thought I might give some advice you can use not just during the Holiday Season (when scams tend to increase), but all year long. It has to do with security – keeping your computer, personal data (bank info, etc.), even your very identity safe from those who wish to do you harm. 

    Actually, this is an updated version of a Stet article I wrote in 2020. I thought much of the info was worth repeating (along with adding a few more really good tips) because recently I was approached by a member who was almost taken in by a scam, and wondered what to do. In this case, it involved the infamous “Apraxia scam.” Google that term to find out all about it. That same scam was tried on IWOC members last year from a different sender. Both times the email’s content was exactly the same, right down to the “Warm regards” signature. Both times the emails contained some of the telltale signs I mention later in this article.

    Harking back to another case in 2020, a member confessed he was contacted for a fabulous writing assignment from Biogen -- a legitimate biotech company. After filling out numerous forms and providing some rather private information, a giant red flag sprung up when he was asked to deposit money in a bank account. He then ceased communication and luckily suffered no harm – other than wasted time and remorse for having been so trusting. 

    How did this all happen? Is it just to IWOC members? Hardly. It could have been that their emails were “scraped” – a process where spammers obtain email lists from other spammers. If you’ve ever provided your email address online, you’re vulnerable.

    So here are 7 of my security tips (plus a bonus tip), some from personal experience, some from what I’ve heard. While they aren’t guaranteed to keep you scam-proof, hopefully they could help prevent such occurrences. 

    1Approached for a prospective job? The person contacting you will most often have their company, their position in the company, street address, email, phone and website in their signatureCheck out the company website. First, to see if the company exists. Secondly, to see if the person contacting you is on their roster. If you come up empty on the company or person, search for the person on LinkedIn and/or Facebook. Any info you’re able to gather will help you determine the legitimacy of the job offer.

    2. If your gut is hinting “Scam!”, Google the company name or subject matter, followed by the word “scam.” Such as “Biogen Scam.” Or “Apraxia Scam.” In both those cases, the scam came right up. 

    3. Sender’s email is weird. Whether it’s seemingly from a prospective client, your bank, credit card company or any company you may have dealt with, if the sender is telling you to click on a link, DON’T! DON’T CLICK ON ANY LINKSLook at the sender’s email address. It’s not Kosher if the address is totally different from the company it claims it’s from. For instance...

    I received an email supposedly from my email provider, with their logo in the message area. Looked good! But uh-oh. They told me that my account “is about to be disconnected, so CLICK HERE TO REACTIVATE!!!” Considering their email address had nothing to do with my provider’s name, plus knowing there was no reason to deactivate my account, I immediately marked it as spam and trashed it. 

    4. But even if the sender’s email address does have the “correct” name, it often can include some nonsensical figures, such as in the Biogen email address, which was followed with a grouping of odd letters after the word “Biogen.” A dead giveaway. That being the case, trash it immediately or relegate it to “Spam” or “Junk.” You can also block suspicious emails. 

    5. What if the email does look totally legit? Closely examine the message area. It might look like a genuine logo or banner. But there most ALWAYS is a tell. Misspellings. Grammatical errors. Poor wording. Two cases in point: 

    a) The Apraxia scam contained this oddity: It was signed, “Warm regards,” and instead of a name, “signed” it with a telephone number. No company name. No website. Nothing. Bizarre. 

    b) Normally I get alerts from USPS when a package is being delivered. The other day I got a so-called alert from That email address sure looked like it was from USPS. But the legitimate alerts are always from “” (Note: not “.net”) Also, within the message, “USPS” (all uppercase) was spelled as “Usps.” Again, dead giveaway. Plus, the info in the message was unlike the usual messaging. Into “Junk” it went. 

    6)  Do not engage. Be it work-related or not, if after taking any of the above into consideration and something smells fishy, do not engage the sender. Don’t ask questions. Don’t ask them to clarify anything. Once you show interest, they’ll feel they have a “live one.” And you may find yourself going down a pretty dark rabbit hole.

    7) When providing your email address online, consider replacing the @ with “at”.  So it looks like:  “Alice at”  I’ve even seen: “Alice at gmail dot com”  Looks illiterate, but supposedly these obfuscations have some degree of success in foiling the scrapers. One drawback is that it may be annoying to business prospects. So this method is up to you. I highly advise to click here to get more opinions on it.

    8) Here's a good link with more tips specifically related to bogus job offers.

    Bonus tip:  Buying or donating online? Before you enter your credit card data, make sure you see the little “lock” image next to the URL. That will tell you if the site is secure. Or not.

    These are just a few of the warning signs that when not heeded, can open you up to computer viruses and worse.  Be vigilant. The best rule of thumb is: Don’t click on anything or respond to anything that looks the slightest bit suspicious. Check it out by doing the Google thing. Or simply call the company that supposedly sent you the email. If it’s legit – or not – it’s safe to say, they’ll tell you so. 

    May your Christmas be Merry, your Chanukah Happy, and may you stay safe and healthy throughout!

    -- Laura Stigler

  • 25 Oct 2022 2:50 PM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)

    In March of 2020, I wrote a Stet article regarding the future of freelancing and AB5, an unpopular bill that was passed in California with the possibility of “copycat bills” spreading to other states. Turns out, that possibility may now be coming to fruition. It all has to do with pretty much eliminating the category of Independent Contractors, from Uber drivers to real estate agents to graphic artists, consultants, photographers to – wait for it  -- writers of all stripes – journalists, copywriters, editors, etc., making it mandatory that clients administer what’s called the ABC Test to determine the classification of the indie contractor(s) they hire. 

    If the Independent Contractor doesn't pass the 3-prong ABC that would classify them as a freelancer, the client must hire them as a full-time employee -- whether or not the client can afford it. Nor will there be any consideration for the Independent Contractor, who may not want to give up their business and become an employee. Should the client-cum-employer incorrectly classify them as Independent Contractors, they could face penalties and a fine. This will not only crush (and in CA, has crushed) the businesses of freelancers, but of small businesses as well. In CA, numerous carve-outs had to be made. It remains a confusing mess.

    The Mandate

    Most recently, the Biden Administration is aiming to mandate the ABC Test nationwide via the "Protecting the Right to Organize Act" (PRO Act). The legislation containing the ABC Test has passed the House of Representatives and now sits in the Senate, awaiting a vote. At the state-level where the ABC Test has been proposed, (NJ, NY), there was a tremendous uproar, as it threatened the livelihoods of millions of freelancers and small business owners. As a recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal pointed out, the ABC Test is a job killer. 

    If the ABC Test ruling doesn’t sit well with you, I urge you to contact your U.S. Senators, telling them to oppose the ABC Test in the pending PRO Act.

    Additionally, please register your opposition to a pending U.S. Department of Labor regulation that would have the same effect on our freelance business. You can comment at

    The pending US Department of Labor regulation contains 6 factors, that would also end our choice to work as freelancers. 

    The deadline for commenting is December 13.

    Spread the word

    In short, the attack on freelancers is occurring at the legislative (Congress) and executive branches (USDOL) of the federal government and in states around the country. The 3-prong ABC Test and the 6 factors in the USDOL regulation are designed to do the same thing: make it too hard to remain a freelancer.

    Freelance writing is the life we all have purposefully chosen. We do so fully cognizant of the pitfalls, but none of them are enough to have us give up the way in which we wish to make a living: with the freedom and flexibility that best fits our lifestyle, and that is completely within our rights to enjoy. Any laws or regulations that impinge upon that right deserve to be summarily sent to the trash heap. Or we just may have to change our name to Dependent Writers of Chicago.


    Fight for Freelancers USA

    Fight for Freelancers USA Press Release

    What is the ABC Test?

       -- Laura Stigler

    Disclaimer: While IWOC in general is opposed to legislative and regulatory actions that are unfavorable to Independent Contractor business operations and that are the antithesis of our mission of helping freelancers succeed, the above article is the opinion of IWOC President Laura Stigler and does not necessarily reflect the stance of all IWOC members.

    -- Laura Stigler

  • 26 Sep 2022 5:07 PM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)

    Let’s give a round of applause for the most recent of our always-popular Roundtables! In this well-attended episode held on September 13, the questions and advice went flying, thanks to Moderator / Board Member, the very affable Anne Hagerty. Setting the table with a “safe space,” Anne made it comfortable for everyone to speak freely about whatever was on their minds. (Writing- and business-related, of course.)    

    I’d like to share some of the knowledge gained during that fruitful hour by going over a few of the topics discussed, just in case they happen to be what is on your mind as well.  (Participants’ names have been omitted out of respect for their privacy.)

    1.  A taxing situation. Speaking of privacy, this topic had to do with concern about providing one’s Social Security number on those

    W-9 forms we often have to fill out when we land a new client. The advice: Instead of entering your SS#, contact the IRS to obtain an E.I.N. number (Employee’s Identification Number). Come tax-filing time, an E.I.N. will enable the IRS to connect with your SS#, while keeping the latter under wraps. 

    2.  Multiple submissions conundrum.  What if you wish to pitch the same idea to several editors of various publications? For fear of offending any of them, do you submit to one at a time? And then how long are you supposed to wait for a response? That could take, like, forever! The upshot advice: For each submission, you could make a slight change on the angle of the topic. That way, it doesn’t look like you’re submitting the exact same thing to all the editors, which could raise a red flag. (And the ire of competing editors.)

    3.  Is it ok to say “no” to an assignment? The consensus: Only when it is so out of your wheelhouse, way above your pay grade, against your religion or moral fiber – or the thought of it just turns your stomach. If it doesn’t do any of those things, just say “Yes!” You’ll surprise yourself at what you can do, and the satisfaction you’ll feel when you’ve tackled it. Plus, taking on something you’ve never done before will add to the diversity of your portfolio. As for the assignment you declined, perhaps recommend another (IWOC) writer who may be perfect for it. (Just make sure you first get permission from that writer!)

    Much more was covered – and discovered in our session. Wish you were there! If you were, thank you so much for attending. If you’d like to mention other helpful advice that was shared ‘round the table, click the dots next to the headline to comment below. 

    -- Laura Stigler

  • 30 Aug 2022 5:12 PM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)
    With a tip of a pink sequined hat to Sir Elton John, I am here to announce that yes, after all these years, IWOC is still standing. Tall and strong. A remarkable accomplishment, considering what the world has been going through in the last two of those years. As you may have heard, other long-standing local writers organizations have not been so lucky and have recently closed their doors. So how is it that IWOC is still here? Three reasons that I can think of, which have nothing to do with luck: 

    1.    An ability to adapt in order to ensure our business continues as usual during unusual times;
    2.    A dedicated handful of volunteers;
    3.    Regular communication with our members to keep their spirits buoyed with announcements of programs, events, job opportunities and more.

    For example, looking back at 2021-2022:

    2021-22 IWOC Programs 

    Like a candle in the wind...

    ...we swayed but always remained brightly lit, zig-zagging between Zooms and in-person meetings, depending on the mandates of the hour. Thanks to Program Chair Jeff Steele and his stellar Program Committee members Vladimire Herard and Betsy Storm, along with contributions by other IWOC members, the following programs were presented to help make us wiser business people, savvier self-marketers, and even spark ideas about writing career options we might never have considered. 

    •  IWOC’S Ever-popular Annual Writers’ Roundtable, where everyone had their say! (This is the only program not recorded, so all participants can speak freely.)
    • Charge What You’re Worth...and Get It (Presented by “no-nonsense” business coach, Katie McManus)
    • Journey Into Travel Writing (Hosted by experienced, peripatetic travel writers Pamela Dittmer McKuen, IWOC members Jeff SteeleCindy Bertram and Kathryn Occhipinti)
    • Communication Challenges in a Disinformation World (Public relations practitioner John Lyday held court)
    • Tips for Perfecting Your Query Letter (Charmingly offered by award-winning writer, screenwriter, and video producer Audrey Wilson)
    • Tips and Myths: Legal Best Practices for Freelance Writers (Clearly explained by Arts Attorney Elizabeth Russell)
    •  Great Site for Source Searches – and More (A treasure trove of sources for writers was unlocked by co-founder Matt Kneller and Media Success Manager Vannyda)
    • Writing About People’s Lives (Panelists Pamela Dittmer McKuen, Danielle Perlin-GoodJeff Steele and author of Bright Lights of the Second City, Betsy Storm – lent their words of wisdom garnered from extensive experience in writing profiles of people.
    • Effectively Grow Your Community and Following (Founder of I Spark Change, Ultimate Success Coach™ Rick Ornelas offered his expertise on how to expand your reach and generate more impact from your writing.)

    Members who missed any of the above can download the podcasts (except for the Roundtable one) on our Member Resources page to benefit from the info- and advice-packed gems. 

    Got ideas for writing- or business-related programs? Contact Jeff. We welcome them all! 

    2021-22 IWOC Parties

    We writers are nothing if not uninhibited revelers once we break out of our writing lairs. Last December, we let loose at our December Holiday Party held at the exotic Star of Siam (A Fine Affair). For our August Greektown bacchanalia, we raised a glass (ok, numerous glasses) at Athena. And this year, we added yet another excuse for writers to go wild: our first Spring Equinox Supper Club, celebrated in April at the century-old Exchequer Speakeasy and Pub. It was “da bomb.” We fully expect the Supper Club to become an annual Spring tradition. Can you feel the love tonight?

    IWOSC Programs

    IWOC members also attended, free of charge, several of the programs offered by our West Coast sister organization, Independent Writers of Southern California. Over the course of the year, they were treated to:

    • Annual Literary Agent’s Panel: How Writers Can Get Represented Today (Panel of top New York and Beverly Hills literary agents seeking writers)
    • What Does Hollywood Want? (For would-be screenwriters and content creators)
    • Writing the Historical Romance Novel
    • Marketing Your Books in 2022 Prosperous Post-Pandemic Promotion
    • Self-Publishing with BookBaby (Steven Spatz, President Emeritus of BookBaby)
    • Everybody’s a Critic! Get Your Writing Noticed by Top Critics – or Become One Yourself
    • Writing the Celebrity Bio
    Events of Interest

    IWOC and IWOSC were not the only ones who put on outstanding programs. We also informed IWOC members about these world class events:

    • Pandramataica Drama Festival for the Alliance of LA Playwrights 
    • Professional Grant Proposal Writing Online Workshop (National Funding Foundation)
    • Online Speed Networking: Meet Your Freelancing Match (Software & Information Industry Association)
    • Make a Statement Writing Workshop (Evanston Arts Center)
    • Spring 2022 Speakers Academy Program (National Speakers Association-IL)
    • American Writers Festival (Chicago Cultural Center/American Writers Museum)
    • A Night of Live Storytelling and Music (ProPublica Midwest reporters)
    • The University of Chicago Press Annual E-Book Sale

    Promoting our members

    Proud of their breaking news and accomplishments, horns were tooted for...

    Perk alert

    If you’re an Associate Member, you can now access the Job Board and Job Sites page. (Upgrade to Professional Level and have your Specialties and Areas of Expertise displayed on the Online Directory – the better potential for clients to hire you!)

    Unlike Elton...

    We’ve no intentions of staging a Farewell Tour. Since 1981, IWOC has been determined to be here for the long haul, far into the future. As for writers reading this who happened to belong to those writer organizations that have closed their doors, we welcome you to enter ours. If I do say, you simply won’t find a writers organization with more amiable people who are happy to help each other succeed. That’s what friends are for.

    -- Laura Stigler

  • 31 Jul 2022 9:42 PM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)

    Believe it or not, IWOC isn't secretly run by a chipper group of hamsters scurrying on a treadmill. It actually takes people to keep this beloved organization going – people! Wait, don’t turn away! It’s not hard work, really. And the more people who volunteer, the easier it is for everyone. Not to mention the more beneficial to IWOC (and you). So I’ve three quick ways members can get involved.

    1)  TO MEMBERS: Please! Nominate a candidate for the Board of Directors. Submit names to the Nominating Committee, by Tuesday, August 30. Who would you like to see on the Board of Directors? Among IWOC members, whose ideas, creativity, energy, street smarts and just all-around get-along personality do you believe would serve IWOC well? If you know someone, do tell. And if that name happens to be yours, that would be the best of all! 

    2)  Run for the Board of Directors. Serving on the Board is not the time-consuming drudgery one fears. It is fun. The time commitment is nominal. Just one 1-hour meeting a month. Plus, you’ve got the bully pulpit for presenting your ideas, bringing them to fruition, and creating the IWOC “of your dreams” – which could help your own career as well as those of your fellow IWOC’ers. To qualify as a candidate, first, you must be an IWOC member. Having been a member for at least one year is preferred, but not required. Appreciating the value in IWOC and having the desire and viable ideas to make it even better are what matter most.


    3)  Come join a Committee.  Maybe this would be more up your alley. Choose a Committee that jibes with your interests, skills or desires. There’s one for Membership, Programming, Public Relations, Social Media, Stet Blog, the Website...or form a new Committee altogether. It’s amazing how simply getting involved in this way can boost your confidence, your enjoyment level – and your cachet on your resumé.

    We all have a stake in this organization. There is a reason you joined IWOC (or may want to), whether it’s to get more work, learn more about the business and craft of writing, find networking ops, or venture out of your writer’s lair to meet new like-minded friends. But keeping IWOC beneficial, relevant, and vibrant doesn’t happen by magic. (Or hamsters.) It needs members getting involved. Please do.

    If you’ve questions about any of the above, please contact me at 

    Not a member? Become one! And start taking advantage of all the benefits that members enjoy.

    -- Laura Stigler

  • 04 Jul 2022 2:11 PM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)

    Moving right along here on our “IWOC Offers That???” tour...Hope you got a chance to explore our previous points of interest you never knew existed? The Meeting Podcasts, Contract template, our Mentor Program, the Rate Survey? Did you take some selfies? Good! Today, we’re going to do a deeper dive into IWOC’s Member Resources page. So grab your scuba gear and let’s jump right in...

    “Cold Call Marketing” PDF: Geez, no wonder no one likes it down here. Just the thought of having to make cold calls leaves most of us...cold. But you know what? After you read Jim Leman’s lively presentation on this tried-and-true marketing technique, cold calling becomes a concept you can really warm up to. Love the excitement Jim conveys about how the mere act of cold calling “excites certain molecules in the atmosphere,” almost magically bringing in business from out of nowhere – sometimes from clients you haven’t heard from in years! Try it. It works. But read Jim’s take on it first.

    “There’s An App (and Website) for That” PDF: Members Betsy Storm and Jennifer Rueff really got their apps together for this one. All kinds of apps divided into categories to help the way you work and even your writing go smoother. Look! There’s a bunch to help you do Research! And over there! Writing-related Websites! Aww, look at that: A grouping that helps manage time. Wait! Here come apps about Billing! Blogging! and – ok, enough rubbernecking. But do check out this wildly informative document. It’s app-solutely fabulous. (A few corrections: the website to “Grammar Girl”: is;  For the “Word Press” app:; for Free Wi-Fi apps, Google “Free Wi-Fi” apps.  

    Hmmm... what else can we discover while we’re down here...Eureka!

    “Get and Keep Clients” PDF. Who doesn’t want to do that? Leave it to member Joen Kinnan to share her wealth of knowledge in a way that’s not only like having a conversation with a very wise friend, but will have you come away feeling almost as wise as she! Timeless common sense advice that’s not always common. Like: “The minute you get an assignment, think of yourself as being part of the client’s team.”  Many more gems where that came from. Dive into this PDF, and you’ve found a treasure.

    Better come up for air now. Maybe grab a bite (I’m in a seafood mood). Then feel free to return to Members Resources to search through the above in glorious detail. 

    Not a member? Join! And have access to the wondrous world of IWOC!

    -- Laura Stigler

  • 31 May 2022 9:02 AM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)

    Alright everybody, back on the bus! We’re about to embark on the second leg of our “IWOC Offers That???” tour, the first having been launched in the March Stet, where we discovered 1) a treasure trove of podcasts and handouts from meetings past, and 2) a “Letter of Agreement” template that can sure come in handy, especially when negotiating with a first-time client. Chomping at the bit to find out what else IWOC offers that may have escaped your notice? Let’s roll.

    First stopOur “Find a Mentor” Program. Wait, what? There’s a Mentor Program? When did this happen? Oh, about four years ago, when we finally got the hint after being asked at every turn, “Does IWOC provide mentoring?” I can now answer not only with a resounding “Yes!”, but that we currently have 17 members representing writing disciplines from across the board, who are eager to share their expertise and knowledge. And the beauty of it is, mentoring works both ways: Whether you get a charge out of taking someone under your wing and imparting your hard-fought wisdom – or if you wish to be mentored and have some of that wisdom imparted to you, our Mentoring Program is a win-win. For everyone.  ("Find a Mentor" is located under the "For Members" tab.)

    Next stop: The Business & Rate Survey. Let’s admit it. Finding out what other writers charge is one of our guilty pleasures. Aren’t you dying to know, say, what journalists are paid for writing a magazine article? What is the going rate for writing a brochure, or radio spot? And white papers: how much does one get for writing those? Our juicy Business & Rate Survey has all the answers, gleaned from IWOC member participants. Why would anyone want to know such stats, other than unabashed curiosity? For one thing, they provide you with a reference point when you’re trying to determine what you should charge for a particular project. You don’t want to price yourself out of the market. Then again, you want to be paid what you’re worth. IWOC’s Business & Rate Survey (posted on the Member Resources page) is invaluable in helping you confidently establish your own rates. 

    Gonna let you off the bus right here so you can mosey around the various points of interest on your own – all located under the “For Members” tab. If you haven’t joined IWOC yet, do it! If you’re a lapsed member, come back! We’d love to see you again. Either way, you’ll be able to gain (or regain) access to the above benefits and so much more.

    See you next time...when I point out even more “IWOC Offers That???”  attractions.

    Happy exploring!  

    -- Laura Stigler

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