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2020-2021 Year in Review: Lost and Found | President's Post by Laura Stigler

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

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