The Freeditorial Contest (Not Supported by WritetoDone)

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It’s finally time to reveal the winners of the Freeditorial Contest.

Warmest congratulations to them!

Read on to know more about them, their work, and how they won the Freeditorial contest.

Heather Rolland won the First Prize for her story Queen of the Catskills.

She is a writer, lover of Belgian Malinois dogs whom she rescues, mom and Catskill hiker extraordinaire.

She has also co-directed and produced the short documentary The Mica Movie: Life is short. Bite hard! chronicling one of her rescue dog’s journey through the 35 highest peaks of the Catskills despite advanced age and terminal cancer. Heather has hiked these peaks wearing a ballgown, a project she delights in calling her ballgown hiking adventure.

She worked as a psychotherapist for 16 years, leaving the field to ghost write, before landing her dream job—getting paid for hiking.

Reading young adult novels with her daughter was how Heather stumbled into fiction writing, and has published three novels.

She wrote Queen of the Catskills specifically for the contest, trying the short story format for the first time. “It was love at first ink smudge,” she says, “riffing off the notion of writing about a contest for a contest, and borrowing the plot from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I believe my delight in the characters, setting, and plot made the story a winner on every level.”
Heather had been actively fundraising for The Mica Movie and had a fan base and audience, which she used strategically to win the first prize. She:
  • Offered two rescue organizations—American Belgian Malinois Rescue and North American Dutch Shepherd Rescue—$1000 each if she won.
  • Reached out to the Catskill hiking community, the Hudson Valley writing community, friends and family, creating a small army of passionate helpers.
  • Earned some press online, on social media, and on radio.

You can read Heather’s winning story here, and browse her blog Yoga Pants, Hiking Boots and Facebook pages Queen of the Catskills, Peeka Mouse and The Mica Movie. Find her on Instagram: catskillshalia and browse her Amazon author page here.

Joe-la Dowdy has been awarded the Second Prize for The Appetite of Sin.

An Ob/Gyn physician, she says, “delivering babies… has got to be the best job in the world.” She has enough passion to spill over into the writing of horror/fantasy fiction.
Joe-la DowdyHer writing inspiration is living legend Stephen King, whose writing Joe-la discovered when she was in 6th grade. She not only read everything he wrote, but also studied his writing, to fuel her dream of becoming a writer.

Her other great inspiration is nature. She lives in Norther Michigan, a nature lover’s paradise. Just to be outside among the trees and craggy coasts of the Great Lakes is pure Zen for her.

Medical school made her put aside the writing life, but she picked it up despite a busy professional schedule and a family life that included raising two children.

Joe-la used several strategies to win a prize on this contest. She:

  • Shared the link to her story on Facebook, asking all her friends to download, read and then share it onward, with their Facebook friends.
  • Posted a motivational post on her blog, with the link to the story at the bottom so people who enjoyed the post could read more of her writing.
  • Made and pasted flyers throughout the hospital where she works. The flyers had a synopsis of the story, giving the link to the full story, and a  request to “read a free short story and help a local author.” Joe-la’s physician husband did the same at the hospital where he works.
  • Posted it on local business’ announcement boards.
  • Requested a few local businesses to post the link on their Facebook pages.
  • Enlisted a friend to give out flyers with every purchase at their rummage sale.

You can read Joe-la’s winning story here, and read more of her writing on her blog The Petulant Muse.

The Third Prize goes to Muthi Nhlema for his story Ta O’Reva.

A civil engineer by training and a writer at heart, Muthi is married to the woman he considers his muse. His work as a Monitoring and Communication Specialist gives him a lot of writing practice.

Muthi nhlema
Muthi is passionate about movies, literature, and telling stories because “it is in them we find the soul of humanity.”

Walter Matthau’s film Hopscotch, about a disgruntled CIA operative who is trying to write a memoir revealing the truth about the world of espionage, initiated Muthi’s writing journey. As the film revealed the capers of the entire espionage industry trying to stop the spy from completing the manuscript, Muthi wondered how words could cause so much trouble.

He was hooked.

A “closet literary critic,” he thought he needed to earn the right to criticize another’s writing, and a writer was born.

Given that he lives in Malawi where internet connections are both expensive and unreliable, Muthi could not rely on friends and family alone to give his story enough downloads to qualify for a prize. Here are the strategies he used to win a prize on the contest. He:

  • Approached people with over 5,000 followers on Facebook, asking them to read the story and requesting them to post a message on their wall, encouraging people to download the story.
  • Publicized the story on controversial online national newspaper Nyasatimes, whose subscriber base of over 100,000 was responsible for almost 1200 downloads.
  • Used Facebook and What’sApp for regular updates and progress, requesting people to share, and keeping the link to the story alive and trending. Updates included feedback, which encouraged more people to read the story. One reviewer was an actor in the movie District 9, a fact we used to spread the word to even wider audiences.
  • Created a one-minute promo and shared it on What’sApp, YouTube and Facebook. Watch the video here.
  • Tracked downloads daily, and developed and tested new marketing ideas to keep the story in the public eye.
  • Had a sales team comprising friends and family, the “foot soldiers” for the promotion.

You can read Muthi’s winning story here.

Congratulations to all the winners. Well done!

Please add your congratulations in the comments below.

Want to share your experience of participating in the contest? Head to the comments!

About the author:
Mary Jaksch is Editor-in-Chief at Write to Done. Grab her FREE report How to Write Like an A-List Blogger. Mary has helped thousands of students successfully create outstanding and profitable blogs at  A-List Blogging and is the blogger behind Goodlife ZEN.

Note: The WritetoDone team was not involved in determining the winners as Freeditorial decided to pick the winners solely on the numbers of downloads of each submission.

Image credit Heather Rolland: Beth Adams


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