Carol Dannhauser, founder of the Fairfield Writers’ Workshop and mother hen to many budding authors and writing teachers, was my first writing coach. But please don’t hold it against her. She did her best to make my writing better, and so if you don’t find my writing all that great, the mistakes, as they say, are all mine. She has a great sense of humor and a way of kindly pushing people to do their best, even if they’re not sure what that is. She forced me to submit – to literary journals and the like – for which I will be ever grateful (BTW: This is an unsolicited testimonial.)
She sends out an irregular newsletter, which always has a great deal of useful information for local writers. Her latest one is no exception, and she’s kindly let me reprint it here. It includes local events, suggestions for where to submit, and writing contests. Plus some info on my classmate Randi Oster (memoir finished thanks to carol) and some modest information about the current workshops – starting February 21 at the lovely Victorian Birdcraft Museum in Fairfield CT.
Here it is:
Talk about an inspiring story. No, not his novels (sorry), but his personal story. Rejected by law schools and publishers, Nicholas Sparks spent days selling pharmaceuticals and nights writing novels. His third book (The Notebook, ever hear of that one?) was sitting in a slush pile when it, er, sparked an agent’s interest. The rest, as they say, is history. Almost 80 million books later, Sparks has a lot to say about his own story. You can hear it in person this Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m. at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield. $20. Info here: http://www.edgertoncenter.org/lecture_series.php
Then, check out Abi Maxwell at R.J. Julia in Madison on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. (Info here http://www.rjjulia.com/event/debut-author-month-abi-maxwell-lake-people) Maxwell’s haunting debut novel Lake People has been released to critical acclaim. We love to hear the wisdom first-time authors impart about their experience with the publishing process. Ever illuminating!
To all you writers of children’s books: It’s Tassy time!! The Tassy Walden Awards celebrate and encourage the writing and illustrating of books for children by unpublished Connecticut residents. They award cold hard cash to a winner in five categories: “Picture Book (text only), Illustrated Picture Book (art and text), Children’s Book Illustrator Portfolio, Middle Grade Novel, and Young Adult/Teen Novel.” Go here http://www.shorelinearts.org/tassywalden.cfm to learn the details. But do it quickly! Submissions due April 1, 2013.
Still haven’t worked out the kinks in your children’s book? Why not connect with our favorite children’s book author, Victoria Sherrow, who can set you straight. She runs great classes and works privately with clients. Send her a note here VSherrow@aol.com.
Speaking of our favorite writing teachers, we can’t say enough about Sonya Huber, the new creative non-fiction writing assistant professor at Fairfield University. Sonya has thrown open the doors to academia at the university and has rolled out the red carpet to Fairfield writers of all ages. If you haven’t checked out the Fairfield Creative Writing Group, now is a great time to give it a look. (Info here: https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en&fromgroups#!forum/fairfieldcw) Sonya writes “Please feel free to post local literary news, events, and calls for entry.” Send her questions or fan mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop by and say hello to Sonya at her reading at the Fairfield Bookstore on Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. Sonya will be reading from her book “Opa Nobody,“ which she calls “a hybrid of memoir, research, and imagined scenes based on research, all put together in an attempt to summon my German anti-Nazi socialist grandfather from the dead.” The book was just released in paperback.
While we’re on the subject of actual books made of actual paper, if you still buy these (I do, I do!) be sure to drop by Barnes & Noble in Westport next Wednesday, Feb. 13, for an all-day, in-store fundraiser benefiting the Fairfield public library. (There’s only one thing we love more than a bookstore: the Fairfield public library!) Twenty percent of the cost of every single item you buy at B&N on 2/13/13 goes to the library. Yes, that means lattes, DVDs, toys and – oh yeah – books too. But you must tell the cashier or the $$ goes straight to Mr. and Mrs. Barnes and Noble. Afraid your car will still be snowed in by then? You can shop online at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/, click the box that indicates you’re shopping for a book fair, then type in the Fairfield Library Book Fair number 11013935. (They’re also hosting Pitchapalooza that evening. See my recent blog for details. GC)
Wondering where to send your finished piece that doesn’t seem to fit anywhere? Have you checked out Cleaver Magazine? It’s a new online quarterly and publishes everything from poetry, literary prose, dramatic writing, non-fiction, flash and more. They’re accepting submissions now. “We are open to work by emerging and established writers.” Submissions guidelines are here: www.cleavermagazine.com/submissions.
Mason’s Road, the online literary journal of Fairfield U.’s MFA in creative writing, is looking for work for its seventh issue. They’re exploring point of view. “We are looking for unique and arresting takes on this topic.” Info at www.masonsroad.com/submissions Visit www.masonsroad.com to check out the current issue.
Our new favorite place to submit poetry is Beloit Poetry Journal. (Info here: http://www.bpj.org/bpj_about_submit.html) There’s no absurd “reading fee,” the editors get back to you quickly and the poetry is great. The journal has been publishing for more than 50 years and its issues are archived online. Very inspiring reading for a snowy day.
We spent lots of time in our winter workshops recently writing about place. Here’s a (way too long and rambling) blog post about place from author David Hood that contains some excellent insights. Check it out if your car’s still snowed in. Says Hood, “In recreating the scene or experience, the writer views place as a character in the story. Similar to developing a character, the place needs to be developed. The writer can use personification to develop the place. It can become nurturing, menacing, foreboding…) http://davehood59.wordpress.com/2010/03/17/how-to-write-creative-nonfiction-writing-about-place/
As many of you know, I do love the ultra-short competition hosted by The Binnacle at the University of Maine. They don’t charge a reading fee; you can put together an entry in a jiffy (but revise, revise, revise!); if you win they give you cold hard cash; and if you’re one of the 50 or so honorable mentions they send you the most adorable “book” imaginable, a beautiful box filled with stories on cards, complete with extra cards of your piece. The clock is ticking on this contest. Entries due Feb. 15. Info here: http://machias.edu/ultra-short-competition.html
You wrote your book!! Your work is done, right? Ugh, if only. Just ask our own Randi Oster, who finished a terrific memoir and is now shopping it to publishers and agents. If you’re in a similar spot, or if you need a bit of help in the agent department, check out what Chuck Sambuchino, over at Writers Digest, has to say about the subject. Chuck writes a host of helpful columns, including this one, http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/agent-advice-agent-interviews, on how to land an agent. It’s a one-stop shop for advice and insight into finding the right partner for your work.
And if you’re looking to fine-tune your work, strengthen your voice on the page, tell a new story or get your arms around your words, check out our workshops! Memoir workshops, writing-to-prompts and traditional writers’ workshops across genres all start Feb. 21 in beautiful downtown Fairfield. They’re inspiring, insightful, economically priced and fun! Feel free to email Carol at Dannhauser@aol.com if you’d like to be a part of these great groups.