Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – March update – Part 2

As I was saying…there was lots to talk about on Wednesday, so here’s part 2 of the update. Part 1 had the info for contests and submissions with deadlines coming up soon. This one starts with May deadlines…

ASJA – the American Society of Journalists and Authors has it’s conference scheduled for May 18-19 at the Sheraton Times Square. Conferences like this are not always so easily accessible, so it’s worth a look.

Creative NonFiction, the print and online journal, is looking for submissions on the topic of Home by May 21. They’re looking for true stories about finding a place in the world to call your own. Their next topic is Let’s Talk About Sex , with submissions due July 16. They want true stories about doing it—whether you’re straight, gay, or other; alone, in a couple, or in a crowd; doing it for the first time or the last, or not doing it at all. They’re offering $1,000 for best essay; $500 for runner-up. Check their site for guidelines. They also publish a monthly mini-magazine called True Story, which features one exceptional work of creative nonfiction, distributed in print and digitally. These must be previously unpublished works of narrative nonfiction between 5,000 and 10,000 words long, on any subject, in any style.

PitchWars-LogoAnother competition? Not exactly. Pitch Wars is a contest where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each, read their entire fiction manuscript, and offer suggestions on how to make the manuscript shine for the agent showcase. The mentor also helps edit his or her writer’s pitch for the contest and his or her query letter for submitting to agents. Writers send applications (query and first chapter of manuscript) to four mentors who best fit their work. Mentors read all their applications and one mentee is chosen by each mentor or set of co-mentors, and together, mentee and mentor spend two months revising the manuscript and pitch. Submissions begin in July, so check the website for details.

Mslexia, the British online and print journal, has opened for entries in their new
Women’s Fiction Awards. There are four different categories – for every word length, from flash fiction to full-length novel – so there’s bound to be a competition to suit you. And the rewards are better than ever, including generous cash prizes, publication, a writers’ retreat, and personal introductions to agents and editors – plus career-enhancing manuscript feedback, pitch training and mentoring. The categories are Children’s Novel (minimum 15,000 words, 1st prize £5,000), Short Story (300 – 3,000 words, 1st prize £5,000), Novella (10,000 – 40,000 words, 1st prize £1,000), and Flash Fiction (100 – 300 words, 1st prize £500. The deadline is 1 October 2018, so you have time to write!

Handy self-publishing hint: if you publish through Amazon Kindle or CreateSpace, you can distribute through IngramSpark because booksellers will order from them. Otherwise, retailers, particularly the big chains, won’t accept your books.

Member Alex McNab sent me the following to share with you:Two recent quotes from advicetowriters.com: which has a lot of them!

Writing is a muscle. Smaller than a hamstring and slightly bigger than a bicep, and it needs to be exercised to get stronger. Think of your words as reps, your paragraphs as sets, your pages as daily workouts. Think of your laptop as a machine like the one at the gym where you open and close your inner thighs in front of everyone, exposing both your insecurities and your genitals. Because that is what writing is all about. Colin Nissan

I take a very pragmatic approach to backstory. I want to know what moment defined the character’s relationship to their parents, what moment defined their greatest desire, and what moment defined their greatest fear. Those three moments are most of what I need, because those three tell me where the character comes from, what they want, and what holds them back. Stant Litore

And here’s best-selling author Laura Lippman at her recent Wilton Library author appearance: The idea [for a story] is not the hard thing. The execution is the hard thing.

Larry Brooks, whom I’ve mentioned before, is the author of Story Engineering, and offers this Story Structure Cliff Notes at storyfix.com.

Electric Lit has a handy tongue-in-cheek chart for generating a pitch for your novel. I was quite inspired until  I ended up with this: A razor-sharp thriller about a wealthy woman’s desire to withdraw from a fear of spiders?… reminded me of Bob Newhart’s sketch about the roomful of monkeys writing the works of Shakespeare. All was going well until: To be, or not to be, that is the gazorninplat? A classic. Unlike mine.

And Alex recommends an interview with Pulitzer fiction prizewinner Colson Whitehead (The Underground Railroad) about writing, on lithub.com.

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