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Contest Winners

Stephanie Gibeault Contest Winners
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Stephanie Gibeault

Winning Entry: Can Dogs Predict Earthquakes?

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Welcome to the Winners’ Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL and IFW Contest winners. Today we’re celebrating winner Stephanie Gibeault! Her article “Can Dogs Predict Earthquakes?” came in First Place in our Nonfiction STEAM Article Contest.

 

What contest was your winning entry submitted to?
Nonfiction STEAM Article Contest
 
How many writing contests have you entered?
Many!
 
Please give the title of your entry and a short summary of the article.
“Can Dogs Predict Earthquakes?”
This article is about whether or not dogs can sense oncoming earthquakes by hearing high-pitched seismic sounds.

What inspired your winning entry?
I find dogs fascinating, particularly their senses. Their noses are legendary, but they can also hear sounds we can’t. When I came across the research study described in the article, I knew I wanted to explore that.

How has entering this contest helped your writing?
Entering any writing contest is a great way to find inspiration. The theme of the contest can point you toward a topic. Some even come with writing prompts that spark an idea. This particular contest helped me tighten my writing because I had to get across scientific concepts in under 500 words.

How did the critique in the Winners’ Workshop help you?
Listening to the insightful and thorough critique of all the entries was helpful. I realized how important sources and the bibliography can be to an editor and how accuracy is key.

Are you a full-time writer? If not, what is your “day job”?
Yes, I’m a freelance writer. I write articles for adults for the web and magazines. And in my free time, I work on my writing for kids.

How long have you been writing?    
I’ve been writing for over 8 years.

What will you do with your piece now that it’s been recognized?
I will submit it to children’s magazines with the hope that it gets published in one.

Any fun plans for the prize money?    
Online shopping

What do you do when you’re feeling discouraged or blocked? Do you have any tips for your fellow writers?
As a freelance writer, I have to meet deadlines. So, I’ve developed some tricks for when I feel blocked. One is to start with a rough outline rather than expecting a smooth first draft. But my favorite tip is to use a sand timer. (I have a 5-minute and a 15-minute version.) I make myself write until the sand has dropped, then I can take a break. It’s amazing how often I don’t notice the last grain fall because I’m immersed in my writing by then.

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