Tag Archives: writers’ week

Writing Contest Official Results


girl and confettiWriters’ Week and the writing contest were so much fun! More than 550 votes were cast during phase two of the contest!

I’m considering adding a second writing contest in March, so look for more information on that in the next few weeks. I’ll be doing a little market research to determine interest on the part of participants as well as sponsors and prize donors. (If you want to make sure you get this info, I suggest subscribing or following me on Twitter, FB or Google+.)

WINNERS: You will receive an email from me today asking for your contact information. Please reply to this email promptly, so we can get your prizes to you.

First Place

“Ghosts of Seniiti” takes first place. Jake Magee wins:

  • “Ghosts of Seniiti” will be published on Moxymag.com.
  • $100 Amazon Gift Card
  • Literary critique of his query letter and first 30 pages of his manuscript by Natalia Sylvester of Inky Clean.
  • Launching a Successful Freelance Web Writing Career, e-book by Jennifer Mattern of All Freelance Writing
  • T-shirt from Small Business Bonfire

Second Place

“Creative Writing” takes second place. Laurie Skelton wins:

  • $50 Amazon.com Gift Card
  • Professional business card design by KeriLynn Engel of Dreaming Iris Design.
  • 30 Day Marketing Boot Camp for Freelance Writers, e-book by Jennifer Mattern of All Freelance Writing
  • T-shirt from Small Business Bonfire

Third Place

“Business as Usual” takes third place. Stephanie wins:

Some Votes Were Thrown Out

Now, I mentioned Saturday morning that a few late votes were counted in the displayed results. While it doesn’t really impact the contest overall, I didn’t want anyone to cry foul after seeing the numbers changing after the deadline.

The polling plug-in I used was set to close precisely at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, but collected a few results after that. I don’t understand how or why, but luckily the voting log includes a time stamp (see below), so I knew exactly which votes to cut.

Vote for Your Favorite Writing Contest Finalist

like writing contest

First, I owe many, many thanks to judges, Austin Briggs, Melissa Breau, and Michelle Lowery who spent last week reading and evaluating the Writers’ Week Writing Contest entries. Second, thanks to all of you who submitted entries and participated in the rest of the Writers’ Week festivities.

I’m going to skip thanking the Academy and all that crap and just get on with it. I know you’re all dying to find out which pieces made it to the voting phase of the contest.

Top 10 Finalists

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“Why Yes, I am a Total Badass” at What She Said

I’ll be honest: I’m a girly girl. I love all things Ann Taylor Loft; my idea of camping out involves parking my butt at the poolside bar of a Marriott resort; and, oh, how Clinique’s new lid smoothie eye color with the cooling metallic applicator feels like pure bliss on my tired eyelids. Read more.

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“How Vine Leaves Stuffed Nemesis” at Brainfluff

‘You’d be much more attractive if you didn’t have that cloud of midges buzzing around your head,’ I grumbled, waving away the pesky insects. I smoothed out the frown lines that weren’t doing a lot for my wonderful Grecian brow, or high perfect forehead. Read more.
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“Lessons 2″ at Views from Nature

“When I was 13, I thought that everything would be easier once I was an adult,” Rachel confided. She stood at the door to her small loft studio conveniently located a stone’s throw from the cave. Read more.
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“Creative Writing” at Flight of the Tumblebee

Elevators are little more than inverted coffins strung up on piano wire. Except there also are telephones. And, really, that’s not much of an improvement if you ask me. Read more.
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“Fusio Taganinni and the Long Rescue” at Wiley-Davis.com

The difference between good binoculars and bad binoculars wasn’t what it used to be. Even optics had fallen under the domain of cheap but good. Fusio Taganinni wanted to hate his cheap binoculars, but the lenses could reveal a blackened pore at a thousand yards and besides, these binoculars were custom. Read more.
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“The Black Sheep” at {Not} Mommy of the Year

I never did care much for this part. For months I raised them. Fed them every day, made sure they had fresh water, talked to them. I helped in the barn – clipping tails, trimming hoofs and shearing wool. Most of my “help” was standing around watching and handing tools to my dad or Uncle Scott. Read more.
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“I Need To Believe” at The Misadventures of Mrs. B

I used to believe that Santa Claus was real. One night out of every year I’d lay in bed, struggling to stay awake, waiting with bated breath to hear those hooves on my roof. I must have fallen asleep too early, I’d reason the next morning. Read more.
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“Out of the Corner” at Writer’s Challenge

In two weeks I have to go back to the hospital, so Dr. Frey can do my left eye. I don’t know if things will get better or worse. But if something doesn’t change, I’m not going to make it. If things get worse, fourteen days may be all the sanity I have left. Read more.
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“Ghosts of Seniiti” at Writing Works

You can learn a lot from a mother, she thought. I wish I had that chance.
Alone in the endless green of the forest that encompassed her humble village, Alix found she had a lot of time to think. She also discovered that her thoughts didn’t always go where she wanted them to. Read more.
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“Business as Usual” at From My Write Side

“Please don’t make me have to do this again. Please tell me you have the permits with you and you are here in this building somewhere?” Blair’s hands shook as she held the cellphone to her ear. Read more.

 Vote for Your Favorite!

You have until Friday, September 30 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern to vote for your favorite. Votes are logged by IP and a cookie. (Because people who try to game the system suck, that’s why.)

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Writers’ Week Wrap-Up

I’m not going to lie, last week was exhausting. But it was also a lot of fun.

Because Writers’s Week was a first-time thing for me and an experiment of sorts, I confess to being slightly worried at the start that no one would want to participate. Thank God all of you came to show your support.

Before Writers’ Week had even ended, I was asked a few times if I planned to do it again. So I thought I’d state this for the record for any of you still out there wondering: Yes, I plan to make Writers’ Week an annual event on Suess’s Pieces.

I was particularly amazed by the number of pieces submitted to the writing contest. (If you haven’t already started, I highly recommend you make your way through the list and read each entry.)

Writing Contest: Next Steps

This week our esteemed judges will continue making their rounds and evaluating all of the submissions.

Then, next week on Monday, September 26, I will post the top ten finalists as chosen by the judges. At the same time, online polling will open so that you can vote for your favorite entry.

Voting will close at midnight on Friday, September 30.

Winners will be announced on Monday, October 3.

Writers’ Week Sponsors

I can’t say thank you enough to some very generous sponsors and prize donors. They not only supported me and Suess’s Pieces, but also supported and celebrated writing and creativity on a much larger scale. Please visit them and consider giving them a shout on Twitter or Facebook to help me say thanks.


Content by Smiling Tree Writing
All Freelance Writing

Prize Donors

Small Business Bonfire
Dreaming Iris Design
All Freelance Writing
Dear Dr. Freelance
The Freelance Writers Den

Building Your Freelance Writing Career

Today the topic is freelance writing—how to start if you’ve never done it before and how to do it better if you feel like you’ve hit a wall. We’ll cover freelance writing in three sections: the basics of freelance writing, the freelance writing tools I use every single day, and no-bullshit answers to your questions.

Freelance Writing Basics

freelance writerBecause freelancing is one of those things I’ve been doing for a while, I’ve blogged about it a lot. I don’t want to be redundant and rehash what I’ve already covered though. So before I really get into the nitty-gritty of today’s post, I want to link you to some other articles that might be helpful for beginners (and maybe even the pros).

Interested in a Freelance Writing Career?: An interview with Missy from Literal Mom where I answer questions related to time management, breaking into freelancing, establishing fees, and building a portfolio.

Four Clients Every Freelancer Needs: A guest post for Outright.com, a site that helps business owners with accounting and bookkeeping, outlining the importance of blogs, websites, and social media accounts for freelancers.

5 Reasons Not to Be Afraid of a Freelance Career: On Grow with Stacy I explain how you can be shy, poor, ignorant, have a full-time job, and still be a freelance writer.

How to Get Deadbeat Clients to Pay Up:  As a contributor to the Small Business Bonfire Blog, I often write from the perspective of a freelancer. This post tackles ways you can more effectively deal with clients who don’t pay on time.

Top 10 Signs of the Worst Freelance Job Ever: In this guest post, I help you avoid scam freelance writing jobs by identifying some of the most common red flags.

5 Tools I Use Daily As a Freelance Writer

Freshbooks: I invoice clients and track my expenses with this cloud bookkeeping system. If you’re just starting out, you can maintain records for up to three clients for free.

Evernote: I use this for collecting notes and grabbing little bits of the internet that might be helpful for upcoming projects. There is a paid version of Evernote too, but I find the free version has everything I need.

Small Business Bonfire: It’s no secret I’m a contributing writer for the Small Business Bonfire blog and that SBB is also a sponsor of Writer’ Week. But did you know I am also an active member? Some of the past guest authors on Suess’s Pieces are Bonfire members, and I’ve guest posted for other members as well.

AP Stylebook: I have an online subscription that I bought for freelance writing jobs, but I also use it a lot at my day job. I’m such a nerd that I also frequently read the “Ask the Editor” archives for fun.

Google Alerts: Several of my clients have been with me since the beginning. Without Google Alerts to keep me informed about their industry-specific topics, I’d probably pull my hair out trying to brainstorm new topics.

Freelance Writing Q&A

Q: You said no bullshit answers. I want to know how much you charge.

I sense a little frustration in your question, and I think I understand why. Everyone one wants to know how much they can expect to get for their work. The thing is, freelance writers don’t frequently publish rates or share them with the general public. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Part of it is about protecting the freelance writer’s clients. Financial information is considered confidential by individuals and businesses alike, and a lot of freelancers err on the side of caution, even if a client has never said outright, “Please keep our rate agreement confidential.”
  • Part of it is about the freelancer’s ability to maintain flexibility when quoting new projects. Maybe the freelancer wants to charge different prices to non-profits or small businesses and adjusts quotes based on the client’s budget. Maybe the freelancer is having a difficult time finding clients and wants to lower rates for a few months. Maybe the freelancer wants to keep existing clients at an old rate while taking on new clients at a higher rate. All of these things are a lot easier to manage if you don’t publish or otherwise blab about what you charge.
  • Part of it is about competition. Some freelancers don’t publish rates or share them with colleagues because divulging that info means someone out there knows precisely how much they can undercut on a bid.
  • Part of it is that it’s just nunya damn bidnezz. (That’s the no bullshit part of this answer.) I know what it’s like to start out and feel like you don’t have a clue. But I do wonder why it’s acceptable to ask a freelancer what she makes but at the same time it’s uncouth to ask the bank teller or the guy in IT what he makes. Anyway, the reality is that you might not be able to command the same rates as a person with different skills, a bigger portfolio, and more experience. So if you’re new to freelance writing, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to ask someone who’s been writing for 30 years what he charges. Just something to ponder.

Setting rates is many times a trial-and-error sort of process. All freelance writers have to set their fees on their own, and there is no magic number that the pros are trying to hide from the newbies. With all of that disclaimer junk out of the way, I will tell you that once upon a time I wrote 500-word articles for $10 each. It was worth it to me then. It so totally isn’t now.

Q: I’ve been freelancing for 8 months now… I can get jobs consistently, but I don’t really feel like I’m advancing at all. Any advice?
I don’t know where you’re currently getting jobs and how you market yourself, but I can offer some general advice.

  • Stop looking on junk sites for work. Many of my clients look for me, I don’t go looking for them. In fact, my top three clients all found me by doing the same thing: searching Google for “freelance writers in Indianapolis.” If you don’t have a website, get one. If you have a free website that’s 5 years old, hire a professional to make it better. If no one is visiting your super-duper new site, get your SEO on.
  • Make it easy for people to check up on you. Create a rockin’ portfolio and build a LinkedIn profile to serve as your resume. Get testimonials from clients. (Two of my clients decided to hire me before I ever knew they were looking.)
  • Try branching out. If all the jobs you ever apply for are blogging jobs, you probably won’t be able to satiate your drive to be creative. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Some people aren’t cut out to be trapped or limited by a niche or specialty.
  • Are you worth more than you’re getting paid? Raise your rates.

Q: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever written for money.

Most of the stuff I write isn’t weird at all—blog posts and web content for small businesses and large businesses make up the majority of my content. However, there was this one time that a guy asked me to give him a quote for writing messages on his behalf to women on a dating site. He told me that he’d pick the profiles he liked, and then I could write introduction letters for him. I declined. I guess money can’t buy you love or even love letters.

Q: Are you ever going to write a novel?


Q: Can you talk a little bit about freelance writing contracts?

You need to be familiar with writing contracts. Even if you don’t have your own (and you really should have one ready to use), somewhere along the way a corporate client is going to ask you to sign their contract. It will likely cover things like publication rights, compensation, confidentiality, approval and cancellation terms. Always read before you sign.

If you need help drafting your own contract, there are a few free templates online. I’ve used a variation of this contract and so have some of my clients. You can make tweaks here and there to make it fit your unique situation.

As Laura Spencer wrote on Freelance Folder, sometimes drawing up a contract for a small project is a waste of time. However, if you plan to work with a client on a big project or on a long-term basis, I highly recommend you get an agreement in writing. On little projects, you may decide that a simple email outlining the scope and pay is enough. In the end, the decision is yours, and it all comes down to how much you’re willing to risk.

Have a question for me but didn’t submit it? That’s okay! Just ask in the comments.