May 6, 2015

Four opportunities for writers to win some real estate (and maybe a new career)


A writing career isn’t always a lucrative proposition, but I’ve noticed that there’s suddenly a number of opportunities for writers to win a place to live. Now that I have a list of four, I think we can safely declare this concept to be a trend. Send in your entries and thank me later!



1) Maine Inn

Janice Sage, the proprietor of the Center Lovell Inn in Maine (it’s located an hour from Portland and two hours from Boston), became the owner of the inn in 1993 by winning an essay contest,  so now she’s running a similar competition. To enter her contest, writers need to compose a 200-word essay (Sage told the New York Daily News that she is looking for entries that “convey why they think they have the talents and the stamina to carry on the successful business I’ve built”) and pay a $125 entry fee.

The winner will receive the inn—which must be maintained as a country inn and restaurant for at least one year—and $20,000 to get started. The bed and breakfast is apparently worth $905,000, and if she doesn’t receive at least 7,500 entries, Sage says she will return the entry fee to each contestant.

The Center Lovell Inn has a screened-in wrap around porch, seven bedrooms for guests, two dining rooms, and it was built in 1805.

Read the official rules here. Entries must be postmarked by May 26, 2015.




2) Alabama Goat Creamery

Leslie and Paul Spell own a goat farm in Alabama, 85 goats, tools, and all the equipment needed to make goat cheese, but they want to move to Costa Rica to “help missionaries start goat farms.”  Inspired by Janice Sage’s Maine Inn contest above, they’ve decided to give it all to the winner of their essay contest, which requires participants to write a 200-word essay and submit a $150 fee.

Read the official rules here. The submission period ends on October 1, 2015.

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3) Virginia Horse Farm

Randy Silvers and Carolyn Berry were also inspired by the Main Inn contest (the model must be so popular because it raises publicity and the owners can raise some money with the submission fees). They own a 35-acre horse farm in Virgina, a two-bedroom rental cottage, a five-stall barn, a carriage barn, a woodworking shop, a shed, and equipment. They  are willing to give it away to someone who writes a essay of 1,000 words about “why they want to live on a farm in rural Essex” and submits a $200 entry fee. According to the Free-Lance Star, the couple hopes to raise enough money to “buy a small place and pay for their grandchildren’s colleges.”

Read the official rules here. The submission period ends on October 1, 2015, but if your entry is postmarked by July 1, 2015, you can submit a 2,000-word essay.





4) A House in Detroit

The “Write a House” contest seems to be the only opportunity that would actually allow time to write. Applicants must have a publication history, a fairly low income, and be a US citizen. The submission process involves submitting a less than 2,500- word piece of writing, and a $15 or $25 dollar entry fee depending on when you submit. Here’s what you win:

The winning writer will receive a two-bedroom, 1100 square foot bungalow in the Banglatown neighbourhood, north of the city centre. The successful candidate will need to commit to living full-time in the city and to engaging with the literary community of Detroit. After an initial two-year probationary period, the deed to the home will be signed over to the writer.

The judges are:

Read the official rules here. The submission period ends on June 5, 2015.




Claire Kelley is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House.