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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.

  • 31 Dec 2021 6:06 AM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)

    The IWOC Winter Holiday Party 2021 came and went. And what a swell soirée it was! Everybody who is anybody was there -- as many as in pre-pandemic days, if not more! Nevertheless, there were many, many anybodies who were not there. Those sweet souls were sorely missed. Perhaps they’ll join us next time? Oh, darlings, let’s hope so!

    The whole affair took place in the Rainbow Room at the Waldorf – oh, wait. Silly me. I’m thinking of something else. This one was at the exotic Star of Siam on Illinois Street, just east of that Great Street. En masse, in masks, we all descended into the restaurant’s lower level, entering a warmly lit room spacious enough should anyone have the wild idea of breaking into the Lambeth Walk.

    The maître d' asked if we would like music piped in. I politely told him, “No thank you, our lively conversation and irreverent wit will be musical enough!” Truth be told, our dear Cole Porter had another engagement and when asked, Noël Coward refused on the grounds he will not play second fiddle – or as he so cleverly put it, second piano to anyone, let alone to Cole. So we went without music – but nothing else!

    Did someone say, “food”?  I was just getting there! Would you like a grand tour of the buffet table? Come this way, darlings. I will point everything out – just stand back a bit, please. In case you dribble. 

    First, there were the hors d’oeuvres, starting with the satays: Spears of grilled chicken and beef, to be dipped in peanut sauce. Yes, peanut sauce! Can you imagine??? There was most flavorful gyoza – chicken & veggie-filled dumplings wrapped in a delicate – what would you call it, noodle? Pasta? How should I know! I never touched a cooking pan in my life! There were rows upon rows of veggie spring rolls, cut in adorable bite-size morsels. And a refreshing cucumber salad steeped in a sweet-sour vinaigrette. Je ne regrette pas la vinaigrette! 

    Let’s move on to the entrees, shall we? There was a bowl of Pad Thai piled high – a dish comprised of noodles and other sparks of deliciousness. There was cashew chicken! mixed with pineapples, pea pods, bell peppers, straw mushrooms and those devilish dried hot peppers (on which I specifically warned the chef to go lightly. Still, one poor gentleman found himself choking on an errant hot pepper hidden amongst the chicken. I offered him my flute of champagne. Crisis averted! Merriment resumed.) And then there was my personal favorite – slender slices of tender beef frolicking amongst the broccoli in an outrageously savory oyster sauce. If I could, I would bathe in it! Dessert: fresh, juicy slices of pineapple and papaya. Exquisite! Sadly, there was no tureen of mock turtle soup, due to the shortage of mock turtles. But we managed. 

    Sated to the brim, everyone was in fine fettle. After my brief, incoherent “Welcome!” speech to the guests, I passed out wee boxes of Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels I procured from a charming castaway in Tahiti who went by the name of Trader Joe. He was hawking these decadent treats from a rather rundown straw hut. Feeling sorry for him, I bought out his entire stock and because of that, he is now retired comfortably in...where else? Tahiti!

    Throughout the evening the banter and laughter flowed as easily as the prohibited beverages. In the end, the floor opened up, revealing a sparkling swimming pool beneath. We all joined hands and dove in, fully clothed, splashing around, gaily singing and screaming as top hats, tiaras, satin heels and sequined masks bobbed about us. 

    It was an affair to remember.

    Happy 192 – I mean, Happy 2022, everyone! Cheers! 

    -- Laura Stigler

  • 30 Dec 2021 6:16 PM | Sarah Klose (Administrator)

    Editor's Note: Post was edited for Stet. To read Audrey Wilson's full article published on her blog, click here.

    You’ve done it. You’ve finished your book. You’ve edited it to perfection. You’re ready to show it to the world. Which means you’re ready for your window to that world; the Query Letter.

    I queried my debut thriller Wrong Girl Gone for nearly five years before receiving a publishing offer, and I learned a lot along the way. For example, your manuscript might be great. Your idea might be pure gold. But a major aspect of publishing is marketing, and if you can’t sell your book with an A+ pitch, how can you expect a publisher to? If you’re ready to take the next step on your journey to becoming a published author, consider the following when writing your query letter.

    1. Personalize Your Introduction - Many agents receive hundreds of impersonal query letters a week. Finding an agent or publisher that’s a good fit for your manuscript takes time and patience. After all, you wouldn’t want to submit your YA Fantasy Romance to an agent who only reps Literary Fiction. Show the person you’re querying that you took that extra twenty minutes to learn about what they’re looking for in a manuscript.

    2. Perfect Your Logline - Essentially, you’re narrowing your story down to three key points: Your protagonist, the setting, and the main conflict. Once you’ve identified those, arrange them into an interesting sentence that tells the agent what’s unique about your book and why they should want to read it. We’ve included an example below, but for more examples, scroll through your Netflix queue.

    Example: Aerial’s life in her small hometown is threatened when a mysterious stranger from an alien planet not only captures the watchful eye of the townspeople, but also captures Aerial’s heart.

    3. Summarize Your Book in One Paragraph - A synopsis is typically a treatment or full description of what happens in your book from beginning to end, while a summary is a back-cover-style blurb that focuses only on the main plot and leaves the reader wanting more. Agents may request one or both of these. For marketable examples of summary, skim the latest bestsellers on your e-reader or at your local library.

    4. Define Your Genre and Know Your Audience - Agents will want to know your book’s genre and demographic. Who will want to read your book? Is it a domestic thriller or a mystery romance? Is it geared towards men or women? What age group does it appeal to? Defining these things doesn’t exclude readers from different groups, but gives the agent an idea of how they might be able to market your book.

    Example: My Book is an LGBTQ heroine-driven sci-fi romance that will appeal primarily to women, ages 18 to 34, who have an affinity for classic sci-fi films of the 1950s.

    5. Choose Your Comp Titles Wisely - Comp titles can be used to describe a variety of elements in your book, from the narrative style to the underlying themes. While it’s good to make sure that one of your comp titles is a book, film and TV show comp titles can be particularly helpful when trying to describe a visual element to your book.

    Example: My Book blends the raw narrative of Catcher in the Rye with the setting and style of Planet of the Apes.

    6. Give Your Background - This is your chance to tell the agent or publisher a little bit about your writing background, experience, and accomplishments. Won an award for that poem you wrote last year? Tell them about it. Have another book in progress? Let them know! Share the top highlights of your accomplishments. (It’s okay to brag!)

    7. Thank the Agent and Keep the Door Open - If the agent requested that you submit the first ten pages of your manuscript, include that, and let them know you’d be happy to send the full manuscript. End your query with a simple thanks, and let them know that you look forward to hearing from them. The key is to stay attentive and interested without appearing too eager.

    - Audrey Wilson

    About the Author

    Audrey Wilson is an award-winning writer, screenwriter, and video producer with a BA in Television Writing and Producing from Columbia College Chicago. Her passion for writing has led her to the publication of her debut novel, Wrong Girl Gone.

  • 31 Oct 2021 11:29 PM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)

    As I sit here in lotus position upon my mountain top (remind me to bring a pillow next time), I’ve come to contemplate something no great philosopher has ever thought of before: The Secret to Happiness. What brings happiness? Living in a country where each is free to pursue their own, it’s no doubt different for everyone. For me, it’s being productive – especially when it has to do with creation. Whether it’s a project I just finished for a client, or having written a song – that’s the absolute best. Where I get most of my “highs.” It can also come from being productive in other ways. Making a particularly succulent beef bourguignon, for instance. (Ask me for the recipe.) Or finally cleaning up my office. (I can breathe better!) Anything, big or small, that I can accomplish to my own personal satisfaction makes me happy. Temporarily, at least. And that’s the catch.

    Creativity. Productivity. As with anything in life that isn’t permanent, it ebbs and flows, often influencing my moods. So what can sustain us in between? Keep us buoyed during the down times? Or all the time? In light of all this heavy pondering, I’d like to share the lyrics of a song I wrote recently that might provide at least one answer. 

    Picture it being sung by a guy. A real character with a twinkle in his eye. Not a spring chicken, he’s been around the block several times and after experiencing life’s ups and downs and witnessing much, has gained this bit of wisdom...


    Written by Laura Stigler-Marier

    Well I may never get to Easy Street

    But I walk to town with shoes on my feet

    No, that ain’t my McMansion on the hill

    But my four walls keep out the evening chill

    And my job may not be what dreams are made of

    But at least...I ain’t been laid off

    Yeah, compared to most my troubles are few

    And the ones I got 

    With the help of God 

    I manage to get through

    Yeah happiness ain’t nothing but an attitude

    And I am one

    Happy son-of-a-gun

    Thanks to gratitude

    Ya know, Easy Street has got its share of potholes

    And what’s behind them mansion doors, God knows

    As perfect as that other side may seem

    Up close, the grass ain’t always all that green

    Rich or poor, we all got our problems

    If you’re got ‘em

    Ah, but compared to most my troubles are few

    And the ones I got 

    With the help of God 

    I manage to get through

    Yeah happiness ain’t nothing but an attitude

    And I am one

    Happy son-of-a-gun

    Thanks to gratitude

    Thankful for my friends

    For my simple life

    And thank you Lord for sending me

    My saint of a wife

    Ohhh, happiness ain’t nothing but an attitude

    And I am one 

    Happy son-of-a gun

    Yeah I am one 

    Lucky son-of-a-gun

    Thanks to gratitude

    It’s all about gratitude

    Thank you, gratitude

    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

    --Laura Stigler

    P.S. If you would like to hear the melody, contact me and I could send the scratch track. Trigger warning: I’m singing it acapella. 

    “Thanks to Gratitude” c2021 Laura Stigler-Marier & Ken Marier

  • 30 Sep 2021 1:59 PM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)

    The honeymoon phase of the 6th term of my Presidency isn’t even over, and already I’ve broken my first promise. 

    Earlier this month we took a survey of IWOC members and IWOC subscribers (non-members) to see how many would prefer to resume IWOC’s monthly programs in person, or to continue them on Zoom, starting in October. Personally, I'm chomping at the bit to resume in person. I, like so many others, are eager to get back to the back-slapping, the light and heavy conversations, the laughing and exchanging of advice and ideas that our pre-program networking hour and post-program dinners have always allowed us. And quite frankly, I’ve a couple of new outfits that I would like to wear to places other than trips to Mariano’s and walking my dog, Chip. 

    Putting my own motives aside, we (the Board of Directors and myself) have decided to heed the Voice of the People. Here is how it all panned out:

    Of the 1,089 surveyed (66 IWOC members and 1,023 IWOC subscribers), we received 53 responses. Breaking it down...

    23 voted for in-person. (16 members, 7 non-members); 30 voted for Zoom (14 members, 16 non-members)

    Reasons given for not attending in person: 

    a.      17 COVID (7 members, 10 non-members)

    b.      4 COVID + location (3 members, 1 non)

    c.       1 COVID + schedule conflict (1 non)

    d.      1 COVID + city crime (1 member)

    e.      3 location  -- too far (2 members, 1 non)

    f.       1 schedule conflict (1 member)

    g.      1 never attended any meetings (1 non)

    h.      2 no reason given (2 non)

    While it is tempting to prioritize IWOC members in our decision making, who as you can see, favored in-person by a narrow margin, we couldn’t ignore how the majority had voted overall. Plus, feeling the weight of responsibility in these matters, the Board also had to take its own concerns into consideration. Even though several of us would have preferred to meet in person, we thought at this juncture, given that the Delta variant is still hanging around, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Therefore, despite my declaration in last month’s President’s Post that the October program will be held in person, the Board has decided it will take place on Zoom. We will reconvene and determine how to proceed for November. 

    We know this is disappointing to many of you who are eager to return to normalcy and be able to talk without having to unmute yourselves, but here is the good news: For those who yearn to get together, we will be starting the IWOC Supper Club, where once each month – or every other month, we can meet and socialize at various restaurants around the city and ‘burbs. Don’t get too excited yet. We are still in the planning stages. But we hope that the idea is enough to get the hearts of all you social butterflies a-fluttering. And then, of course, there will be our annual Holiday Party in December – which, if it’s anything like our recent IWOCFest, should be one heckuva well-attended lively event. 

    Until then, stay safe, stay healthy. The best is yet to come. I promise.

    -- Laura Stigler

  • 29 Sep 2021 11:46 PM | Sarah Klose (Administrator)

    After the cancelled 2020 event, Lit Fest 2021 came back this September 11th and 12th much the same as in past years. The same sections of Dearborn and Polk streets were blocked off — to be filled with tents and tables for exhibitors. And IWOC sublet a portion of a tent from the Illinois Woman’s Press Association (IWPA) as in the past several years.


    What was different this year was our space. Instead of crowding IWOC authors' books and IWOC promotional material onto one-half of an eight-foot table, we had an entire table. This ensured plenty of room for both of our activities. It also provided a comfortable space for the authors and volunteers staffing our exhibit.

    Four IWOC authors (Cindy Bertram, Adela Durkee, Anna Marie Kukec Tomczyk, Joseph Wycoff) displayed their books and were all successful in making sales. They also covered a number of volunteer slots over the two days, supplementing the other IWOC member volunteers.

    A great big THANK YOU to everyone who came out to support IWOC.

    The Lit Fest attendee turnout for the event was less than in the most recent few years but was sufficient to make the effort worthwhile. That was reflected in the 39 sign-ups for our email list as compared to 50 or 60 in the last few years. But those who stopped at our exhibit seemed more interested in our presentations. In all, it was a successful two days in the Printers Row neighborhood of Chicago.

    - George Becht

  • 01 Sep 2021 3:58 AM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)

    “What day is it? Is there an end in sight? And where the heck did I put my phone?” Those were pretty much the questions we all were asking, over and over, during these past 12 months. Every day seemed like Groundhog Day as we tried to create some semblance of normalcy in what was definitely an abnormal year. Having had to shelter in place for much of it, a trip to CVS became my idea of a good time. And dining in an igloo in 20º weather was an experience I won’t soon forget. Lost in the maelstrom of masks, vaccines and confusing mandates, at least there have been some things that served as a calm within. An anchor. A North Star, if you will. One of those things was IWOC.

    Looking back on 2020-2021...

    No lockdown was going to keep us down.

    No way. While some organizations seemed to have lost their way, IWOC carried on seamlessly, transitioning our in-person meetings to Zoom. At 6:00pm on the 2nd Tuesday of every month, we all had a specific destination, and knew when we got there, we could escape for one hour and immerse ourselves in information and amiable discourse that would help make us wiser business people, savvier self-marketers, unleash our full creative potential and even flick on a few light bulbs about career options for writers we might never have thought of otherwise.

      2020-21 IWOC Programs

      Having assembled a year’s-worth of programs was Program Chair Jeff Steele and his stellar Program Committee members Vladimire HerardBetsy Storm and Scott Winterroth. Members who missed any can download the podcasts on our website’s Member Resources page and relive such info- and advice-packed gems as the following, listed in chronological order:

        • Twitter for Writers (presented by IWOC member / Ghostwriter Alicia Dale)
        • Current Legal Issues (by Lawyers for the Creative Arts)
        • Make 2021 Your Most Creative Year Ever! (Global panel hosted by IWOC member / Blogging Instructor and co-founder of Content Academy, Scott Winterroth)
        • How Audiobooks can Increase Your Book Sales (Audiobook expert and founder of Fort Raphael Publishing Company, Kevin Theis)
        • Building Your Website: Hire a Designer or DIY? (Dawn Verbrigghe, CEO of Jottful Website Design and Dorka Kardos-Latif, Online Marketing Manager of Copyfolio, a DIY website builder)
        • Writing for Trade Magazines (Editors Lisa White, Craig Barner and IWOC Member / Journalist Jeff Steele)
        • Unleashing Your Story (Written Legacy Coach Danielle Perlin-Good)
        • Promoting Your Writing with Video (Video Producer Reno Lovison)
        • How Public Speaking can Grow Your Writing Business (Award-winning international keynote Speaker/Trainer Clinton Young)
        • Build Your Professional Brand(Marketing/Communications strategist, speaker, adjunct instructor Susan Caplan

        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:

          • What Writers Must Know About Finding & Working with Representation Today (IWOSC’S Annual Literary Agents Panel)
          • “Drama Pajama” Virtual Conference for Playwrights (Alliance of L.A. Playwrights)
          • How to Write Funny (panel of award-winning film and TV comedy writers)
          • New Film & TV Writing Opportunities in 2021 (panel of distinguished producers, screenwriters)
          • Write More in 2021 (bestselling author and personal coach, Dr. Marty Nemko)
          • Writing Successfully for Children in Today’s Complex Time (panel of Children’s writers)
          • Writing What You Don’t Know. Yet. (journalist-turned-novelist Christina Hoag)
          • Taking Great Photography for Fun & Profit (National Geographic photographer Erika Fabian)
          • Conversation with bestselling author T.C. Boyle

          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:

          • "Craft Your Story for Success" Workshop (Lynn Sanders, founder of Difference Makers Media)
          • Chicago Quarterly Review: Anthology of Black American Literature Group Reading
          • What to Consider when Starting a Podcast with Word Press (hosted by Chicago WordPress Community Meetup)
          • “Make This Your Most Creative Year Ever!” (Scott Winterroth’s proprietary Global Virtual Weekend Summit)
          • Attaining the Ever-Elusive Work/Life Balance as a Freelancer (Upwork Expert Talk)
          • How the Publishing Industry has Evolved in 2020 (Chicago Women in Publishing)
          • So You Want to Write a Novel (best-selling author Kayla Ancrum) 
          • Bestseller Book Marketing Copy Secrets (webinar hosted by author/book publishing consultant Judith Briles, featuring award-winning Copywriter & Consultant Casey Demchak).
          • C3 Word Games (IWOC Member/Ghostwriter Alicia Dale)

          Promoting our members

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

            • Scott Winterroth’s hosting of his proprietary “Make this Your Most Creative Year Ever!” Global Virtual Weekend Summit
            • Jeff Steele’s guest appearance on 1070am radio show, “Multifamily Matters” out of Houston, TX
            • Roger Rueff's webinar based on his book, Discovering the Soul of Your Story
            • Anna Marie Kukec Tomczyk’s publication of her first book, We Are Eagles: Inspiring Stories of Immigrant Women Who Took Bold Steps in Life through Literacy
            • Terry Nugent’s launch of his newly-branded business, Terryfic Writing, LLC.
            • Alicia Dale’s launching of her “First Draft Group” Writing Workshop and “Nonfiction Notes” Newsletter 
            • Francine Friedman’s recently published novel, Beyond the Green
            • Tina Jenkins Bell’s review of Chicago Quarterly Review’s new Anthology of Black American Literature, published in the South Side Weekly

            Speaking of speakers...

            We’ve added a "Be a Guest Speaker" page to our website where experts on any number of topics relevant to writing or the business thereof can request to be a guest speaker at one of our monthly programs. Voilà! We’re attracting requests from across the country. Speaking of which, that’s how we nabbed our October speaker, who will be Zooming in from San Francisco. Keep an eye out for the details. It’s gonna be a good one. 

            By the way, if you happen to know or have a suggestion for a speaker whom you think would appeal to IWOC members, tell us – or if it’s someone you know, encourage them to fill out the form on our Be a Guest Speaker page (under the Calendar tab at Perhaps you, yourself, would like to speak on a topic dear to your writerly heart – or business-minded head? Fill out the form! IWOC’ers love hearing from experts who are one of their own.

            Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! And, oh yes, Jobs!

            Another addition to the IWOC website is a page that's chockfull of links to the hottest Job Sites for Writers. As of this writing, 50 are listed. And ever growing. Accessible to members only, any one of these links can lead to your next profitable gig or long-term client relationship. If you haven’t already, start exploring!

            Perk alert

            The idea that bubbled up last year is now a reality: it’s the Member Referral Awards, where you will get 10% off your next membership renewal fee if you’ve referred a new member. But wait, there’s more! Get 20% if you’ve referred two that same year! Etc. The process is simple. Contact Membership Chair Jeff Steele when it’s time to renew your membership. Let him know who the new members are that you referred, and we’ll create a special coupon code that you’ll enter when paying your renewal fee. 

            Finding ourselves back on track

            At last, like Groundhog Day’s Punxsutawney Phil, we’re emerging from our mandated hibernation. Yes, there’s the shadow of the Delta variant that may have us scampering back into lockdown, but we are more optimistic. So much so that we’re planning our first in-person meeting for October. The only one on Zoom will be the aforementioned guest speaker, who will be displayed on the big beautiful flat screen for all meeting attendees to see and with whom we’ll be able to exchange Q&A. 

            Actually, we already did an in-person “test run” in August when we celebrated IWOCFest at Athena Restaurant, where 20 members – some masked, most not – got together for the much-needed camaraderie and indulgence in a multi-coursed meal worthy of the Greek Gods. It was glorious seeing everyone laughing, talking and knock wood, in good health. 

            But great as the year was (in IWOC terms), let’s close the book on this one and look forward to the next, when we can hopefully find ourselves back to normal at last. 

            A votre santé!

            -- Laura Stigler

          • 31 Aug 2021 9:39 PM | Sarah Klose (Administrator)

            For his 79th birthday, my father requested Ghost Soldiers, a nonfiction book about U.S. Army Rangers rescuing 500 American POWs at a Philippines prison camp during World War II.

            My father served in the United States Army during WWII, in the Pacific Theater, but didn’t talk about his own service until he finished that book. Then he spread his artifacts on the dining room table for us. A black and white photo of him, looking young and slim in his army uniform. An edition of Yank - The Army Weekly. A cloth badge from his unit with the Amphibious Engineers. A hand-written postcard he’d mailed to his sister from Kamakura, Japan.

            In 1943, my father was sent to West Virginia University, to study engineering in an army cadet leadership program called the Army Services Training Program (ASTP). He was 20 years old. The U.S. expected a long war, and wanted future officers who were college graduates. But in 1944, the program suddenly shut down, and sent enrollees to load ships in New Orleans, then work at a cannery in California before being shipped to the Pacific.

            Now, my father opened up maps of the Philippines and Japan, and traced his finger along the paths his unit followed during the war. He shared sad stories, humorous stories. He requested other historical nonfiction books for his birthday and the holidays. We gave him Citizen Soldiers, Lost in Shangri-La, Flags of Our Fathers, With Wings Like Eagles, Shadows in the Jungle, The Girls of Atomic City. I bought him a WWII Vet cap, which he proudly wore when we took him to Veterans Day celebrations, military concerts, and the 75th anniversary of D-Day held at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, IL.

            Tom Brokaw’s book of personal stories told by World War II vets, called The Greatest Generation Speaks: Letters and Reflections, appealed to my father. “I’ve been waiting for someone to say this happened!” he said, after reading one vet’s account of one thousand U.S. planes and bombers filling the sky when the Japanese surrendered on the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945. My father had witnessed the surrender and airpower flyover from the shore. But surrender didn’t mean he sailed right home -- my father was assigned to stay on in Japan for the U.S. occupation.

            He was deeply moved by Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, about the survival and resilience of WWII airman Louis Zamperini. I'd bought him the author’s previous book, Seabiscuit, about a racehorse that electrified the sports world in 1938. He passed the book on to me after finishing it. It’s fun to think about how my family watched another amazing horse named Secretariat win the Kentucky Derby in 1973 -- and then go on to win the Triple Crown. My father was as thrilled as his children, and talked about that horse often.

            My father eschewed novels, mysteries, science fiction. He preferred nonfiction books with a historical bent (some of which read like thrillers). An employee at Women and Children First bookstore in Chicago raved about The River of Doubt, which covered Theodore Roosevelt’s harrowing adventure in the Brazilian rainforest. I gave that to my father, then bought him Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten City, which is also set in the Amazon.

            Since he had an interest in how things worked (he could build, fix or repair anything), I gifted my father The Path Between the Seas, which was about the building of the Panama Canal, then The Wright Brothers, both books by David McCullough.

            When he worked as a patent attorney, my father read and wrote about inventions. Plus, his father (my grandfather) was a printer at the Chicago Tribune. So I bought Paper, a fascinating book about paper and printmaking, following author Mark Kurlansky’s book discussion at the 2016 Printers Row Book Fair.

            For Father’s Day 2017, I gave him Implacable Foes: War in the Pacific 1944-1945. My father treasured the book. He filled it with bookmarks, wrote in the margins, talked of favorite passages, shared even more memories with us.

            Over a year later, it became hard for him to read due to eye problems and cognitive issues, and he thought it best that we stop giving him books. That was hard for me to accept.

            September 1 marks one year since my father died, at age 97. Losing him has meant struggling with a huge hole in my life. There are overarching feelings of sadness, and a tremendous sense of loss. I find myself in a wrestling match, trying to ensure happy moments can rise above unrelenting pain.

            I take comfort in knowing these books enlarged him, enlightened him, and informed his life. I’m grateful for the sacrifices he made. I feel we can never thank him enough. And I’m glad that many of these books helped my father process the emotions that he’d shut down related to WWII.

            Stacks of books. Peace and pain. A jumble of memories, a lifetime of love.

            -- Sarah Klose

          • 01 Aug 2021 9:17 AM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)

            It’s coming up fast! That time of year when we’re scouting for members who would like to serve IWOC by serving on the Board of Directors. However this year, it’s a bit different. Without any arm-twisting, nine out of our ten current Board Members have opted to remain on the Board for the 2021-22 term. I am truly grateful, as they each are important contributors to the well-being of our organization. Plus they’re just great people to be around. Yet that still leaves us with one seat open. One seat! ready to welcome anyone who’s eager to help us keep IWOC strong, relevant and vibrant now and into the future. And have a good time in the process.

            Are you willing to be The One to run? Or know someone who might be? Nominate them -- or even better, nominate yourself!  

            As you mull it over, consider the following qualifications and benefits:

            • To qualify as a candidate, having been an IWOC member for at least one year is preferred, but not mandated. Appreciating the value in IWOC and having the desire and viable ideas to make it even better are what matter most.
            • Serving on the Board is not an onerous task. We meet for just one hour on the 2nd Tuesday of every month right before the networking hour of our monthly program. Since we are resuming in-person meetings, that would be at 4:00pm.
            • We have lots of laughs. Some disagreements. Such is the price of democracy. But the result is a satisfying sense of accomplishment towards the goal of creating a better IWOC.
            • Most importantly, you’ll be able to have a real influence on how IWOC can help boost everyone’s writing career – including your own

            Since 1981, IWOC has been playing a unique and vital role devoted to helping independent writers succeed. This is your opportunity tactively help morph IWOC into your vision of how it can best serves its membersCome join the Board. In doing so, I can almost guarantee one more benefit: You’ll find yourself growing in positive, unexpected ways. To my surprise, I know I did. 

            Note: Please send your nominations to the Nominating Committee – either George BechtJeff Steele or myself -- by Friday, August 13. Questions? Contact any one of us.

            -- Laura Stigler

          • 29 Jun 2021 7:55 PM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)

            In last month’s President’s Post, as you may recall – and if you don’t, you can read it here, I divulged ways in which you can maximize your opportunities to find and land jobs, simply by taking advantage of the resources IWOC offers. Resources that apparently many members have forgotten about or had no idea existed. For my next act, I’d like to offer “7 Job Search Tips to Live By.” Some are forehead-smacking obvious. Some you may never have thought of. But each can be a very sharp arrow to keep in your Job Search quiver, and could work in tandem when using IWOC’s resources to the fullest. However...

            Full disclosure: I filched the tips from a blog by Allison Smith on Please know that this is not an endorsement of It does happen to be one of the Job Sites listed on our Job Sites for Writers page, but that is the extent of IWOC’s (or my) involvement. I simply came across these wise words of career advice and thought they were too good not to share with you. 

            Here are teasers to the 7 tips, italicized to indicate direct quotes from the blog. 


            1. Copy the Key Words

            Want to make sure your resume gets past the robots—a.k.a. the applicant tracking software [ATS] recruiters use—and into the hands of the hiring manager? Use appropriate keywords in your resume and cover letter.


            2. Get an Edge with a Cover Letter

            Not all job ads require a cover letter, but including one gives you an edge. Most ATS programs scan your cover letter as well as your resume. Your cover letter gives you an additional opportunity to provide those precious keywords.


            3. Take the Resume Upload Shortcut

            If you ever have to choose between filling out an online application or uploading a resume, it’s in your best interest to upload the resume.


            4. Keep a Job interview Cheat Sheet

            This is one of the easy job search tips to overlook. Take 20 minutes to write down everything that you’ve accomplished during your time at different jobs.


            5. Help Headhunters Find You

            Not to toot our own horn, but we highly suggest setting up an account on Monster.


            6. Get Relevant Job Listings Delivered to You

            You know how you can fall down a rabbit hole scrolling through all those pages of job listings? Bypass that whole laborious exercise.


            7. Check-in Regularly

            One of the best job search tips we can give you is to be persistent. Know this: Job searching is a marathon, not a sprint. 


            To dig beyond the teasers, please visit 7 Job Search Tips to Live By.  Keep in mind that while some of these are clearly promoting Monster, they can easily apply to most any employment website.


            Happy job hunting!


            -- Laura Stigler

          • 24 May 2021 3:47 PM | Laura Stigler (Administrator)

            In all the years that I’ve served as IWOC’s President – and there’ve been many (in terms of terms, I’ve way surpassed FDR!) – there is one thing that keeps on surprising me about our members. No, it’s not the depth and breadth of talent and diverse specialties that IWOC’s roster represents. That doesn’t surprise me at all. Neither does the willingness to help each other and offer great writing and career advice. Nor is it the love of camaraderie so many of us enjoy (and that will be celebrated when we at last get together for August’s IWOCFest!). Sorry, it isn’t any of the above. It’s this....

            How the majority of members still don’t take advantage of what IWOC offers in the way of jobs, self-promotion and resources. Let’s start with Jobs:

            Writers’ Line Job Board: Are you subscribed? If not, you don’t receive alerts when jobs are posted. I will say, I wish we were always flooded with postings, but on the occasions that jobs are posted, they’ve presented some good (and often great) opportunities. I can personally vouch for that. So if you wish to get a jump on the jobs as they’re posted, go to your profile (you must be logged in), click “view profile” >“email subscriptions” > “edit profile.” Check “Writers’ Line Job Board” and the frequency you’d like to be notified. Then “save.”  You can always unsubscribe. (But why would you?)

            Job Sites for WritersThis is a benefit we’ve added this last year. Have you seen it? No??? Go to the pull-down menu on the “For Members” tab and click “Job Sites for Writers.” On one page, you’ll find a compilation of over 40 reputable sites that post jobs for writers – many of which are exclusively for freelancers. And we keep adding to them. I’ve received feedback from numerous people who have had positive experiences with these. Most (if not all) of the sites listed will send you automatic notices of open positions tailored to your qualifications once you sign up with them and fill out your profile. Certainly beats pounding the pavement (virtual or otherwise) in search of work.

            Profile need a facelift? How does your profile look – that is, the one you’ve posted on the IWOC Online Directory? Does it need updating? Does it convey your writing services, personality, business style, etc., in a way that will attract clients? The Directory is another one of the easiest ways to get jobs – where the clients come to you. The way it operates is, a client will do a search for “freelance writers in Chicago.” Whether they searched on DuckDuckGo, Google or Yahoo, IWOC will pop up on the first page. The client will then go to the IWOC website, click on “Find a Writer” and ferret out writers who fit their requirements. And that is how they’ll find you. So make sure your profile works for you.

            But let’s say the job isn’t quite right for you. Consider recommending another IWOC writer who might be a better fit. Or suggest to the client that they go to the pull-down menu on the “For Employers” tab at, and post the job on our Writers’ Line Job Board. See how we’ve come full circle here?

            Maybe you’re aware of all these job-getting features. Maybe not. But in any case, they are there for you. I urge you to take full advantage of them.

            Be on the lookout for future blogs, where I’ll reveal other career-enhancing IWOC attractions you might unwittingly be missing.

            -- Laura Stigler

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