Writers’ Rendezvous: September update – part 2

Here’s the second half of the September update, with lots of events, places to submit, and a couple of useful websites for authors, including one that helps you generate your plot, if you’re stuck.

romanIt’s never too soon to begin preparing for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November, so Roman Godzich, author of No Higher Ground, is offering a NaNoWriMo Plotting Workshop at the Storytellers Cottage in Simsbury on October 19 from 1-2:30pm. This workshop will help you develop an outline of a plot for your NaNo novel. You’ll learn how to lay out the three acts of your story and how to define your protagonists and antagonists and their goals, plus you will walk away with a full outline for your novel. COST: $30. Pre-registration required.

New-England@3x-1-768x1366Bank Square Books in Mystic, and Avon Books (the romance imprint of Harper Collins) are co-hosting KissCon New England at Mohegan Sun on Saturday, October 26. Tickets are $10 and include a mass-market romance paperback. Authors Ilona Andrews, Loretta Chase, Tessa Dare, Megan Frampton, Caroline Linden, Sarah MacLean, Nisha Sharma, Joanna Shupe and Olivia Waite will be speaking and signing books.

If you’re writing flash fiction, here’s your chance to submit to CRAFT’s first flash fiction contest for unpublished stories up to 1,000 words. Three winning stories will each receive: $1,000 and publication in CRAFT. Deadline October 31.

The annual Dorothy and Wedel Nilsen Literary Prize for a First Novel is to identify and publish completed fiction manuscripts (novels, novellas, and linked collections) of high literary quality by authors who have not previously published such a work. (This includes self-publishing.) Prize: $2,000 and publication. Deadline November 1. Details at the link above.

Bateau Press is accepting manuscripts for the annual Boom Poetry Chapbook Contest.
The winning chapbook is a handmade, hand-sewn, letter pressed work of art. Winner gets $250 plus 25 copies. Print run of 400 chaps.  $14 entry fee includes a copy of the winning chapbook (or any chap in their catalogue). Deadline: November 1.

Hold the Date: The Fairfield Library’s second annual Writers’ conference is scheduled for Saturday, November 2, from 9:15-4:30pm. I’ll be one of the speakers there, and I’ll let you have more details as I have them. You might want to sign up now, though, since spaces will be limited to a hundred, and some have already gone. Free.

jeff gOn Sunday, November 3, from 4-6pm, the Pequot Library’s Meet the Author guest will be Jeff Gordinier, food and drinks editor of Esquire magazine, among other things, talking about his latest book, Hungry: Eating, Road-Tripping, and Risking It All with the Greatest Chef in the World. It speaks of the four years spent traveling with René Redzepi, the renowned chef of Noma, in search of the most tantalizing flavors the world has to offer.

blackCrime Bake, which takes place from November 8-10, in Woburn, Massachusetts, is the premier conference for crime-fiction writers and readers in New England. It offers numerous opportunities to meet and network with agents, editors, and authors in a small, friendly environment. Updates will tell you if it’s sold out yet.  This year’s guest of Honor is British writer Ann Cleeves, author of the Shetland crime novels, and those featuring Vera Stanhope.

Andrea Penrose returns to the Pequot Library on Saturday, November 9, from 11-1pm for a craft talk on A Writer’s Life. She will be talking about: inspiration, historical fiction, publication journey, critique groups, and what a regular writing day entails. Attend with your questions and get ready to be inspired.

Authors Publish has produced a list of publications currently open to reprints, so if you have published work you’d like to see published again, now’s your chance. Sign up for their newsletter to be updated regularly.

Seeing it Clearly Now,  a blog for people of a certain age, has a rolling submissions policy for fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

If you can’t think of what to write and need a hand, try this British website: Plot Generator.

And if you’re looking at independent publishers and want to check their credentials, try Writer Beware, which monitors publishing scams.

And–keep writing!

Writers’ Rendezvous: September update – part 1

So happy to see twenty or so members at today’s Rendezvous. I love the way people stay on after, to ask questions, introduce themselves and generally have a good time. Partly because of the local super-event, the Saugatuck StoryFest, which is happening soon, I’ve split this update into two. Here’s Part 1.

The Pequot Library is presenting From Tension to Tenderness: Healing the Mother/Adult Daughter Relationship, tomorrow, Thursday, September 19, from 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Hear from member Marlou Newkirk and her daughter Laurie, the co-founders of motherrr.com, which focuses on healing this dynamic relationship.
This Saturday, September 21, take advantage of the free monthly Memoir Writing Workshop with Brian Hoover, 10:30-12:00, in the Bridgeport Library’s History Center, 925Broad Street, 3rd floor.

SFest

Saugatuck StoryFest takes place September 27-28.  (With one exception, below). There’s much to interest readers, but of special interest to writers are: Continue reading

Author interview: Zeb Appel

zebLike other members of the Westport Writers Rendezvous with publishing news, Zeb Appel shared that her debut novel, Good Luck and a Benevolent God, was published this summer by DartFrog Books  not just in the US, but around the world. The book is about the colorful life and death of Mandy Flanagan, an Irish girl from the South End of Boston who elopes to New York in the twenties, how she navigates a good part of the twentieth century, and finally retires to the suburbs of Wallingford, CT. It has a great review from Kirkus, including this quote: “Appel writes in the natural prose of a raconteur, rising occasionally to the level of lyricism when praising her heroine.” I enjoyed the book too, and the way it demonstrated how stories and people intersect in their lives—what keeps them together and forces them apart. It’s a great book club book, with plenty to discuss.

I’ve followed some of Zeb’s progress via our meetings, but I wanted to know more.

GC: How did your experience as a playwright help or hinder you in writing a novel? Do you think it influenced your prose style?

ZA: Actually, my creative writing life began as a student writing poetry and short stories. These were published in literary magazines and university publications. About ten years ago I started writing plays, short and full-length, comedies and dramas. I took a class at the Hartford Stage, joined organizations and went to shows. This was fun. I learned about dialog and performance, the delivery of words, what sounded natural and what fit that particular character. This works in fiction, too. I always read my work aloud no matter what form it takes.

appelGC: What was the impetus for writing a novel at all? Just to try something different? To write about this particular character?

ZA: I am just a storyteller who writes in different forms. For me, poetry is an intimate experience while plays are public and must engage an audience. “Good Luck and a Benevolent God” originated a while ago in a workshop led by the New Haven writer Alice Mattison. Back then, it was a handful of (humorous) linked short stories about an eccentric family. Alice called it a ‘baby’ novel. Even though it ‘grew up’ to be the full portrait of a woman’s life, it still retains that ‘linked short story’ flavor about key characters and their adventures. This device (emphasizing character over plot) labeled it literary rather than commercial.

GC: Can you tell us something about your journey from first idea to publication?

ZA: Well, I don’t outline but will draw a relationship chart with major events to ‘see’ that it works logically. Initially I just write about something seen or heard that I want (need) to shape into a poem, a story or a play. My reader-friends critique and I use outside (paid) editors. But I’m fussy. I can always find fault with my work and will endlessly revise and mush the words around unless someone takes it away from me.

At present, I don’t have a literary agent (that may change). I find querying tiresome and the process to place a book with a major house too slow. A friend referred me to DartFrog Books. They liked the book and agreed to publish in less than a year and pay royalties like a traditional press. (They have since changed their business model.) They edited and formatted the content, and also designed a dandy cover. Plus, I enjoyed a book release signing and giveaway at BookCon in NYC.

GC: Mandy is considered eccentric, partly because she’s ahead of her time. To me she seems admirably independent. Is she based on anyone in particular?

ZA: My nana played slide piano on an old upright in her little house and a crowd sang along. I come from a family of four girls and we are a headstrong ornery bunch with our own sense of timing. Like most Americans, our family history is colorful. Of course I am part Irish so I enjoy a good story, music and beverages, like Mandy.

GC: You cover sixty years of New England life. How did you research the historical settings?

ZA: It was fun. The best background came from an estate. But I wasn’t writing a historic novel, so whole chapters about events like WWII had to be removed from the final version because it was too long.

GC: And finally, what’s next?

ZA: The final draft of my suspense novel, “The Median” is almost done. It’s about a woman’s breakdown, a truck driver and the startling event that changes their lives.

You can connect with Zeb on her website and at zebwrites@gmail.com, and via Facebook, and Goodreads.

Westport Writers Rendezvous: August update – Part 2

Happy you rejoined me. 🙂 And, as you will see if you read far enough, this is all about me.

The Brooklyn Book Festival will be held from September 16-23 in a variety of venues around Brooklyn (of course). It’s one of America’s premier book festivals and the largest free literary event in New York City. Presenting almost 200 national and international literary stars and emerging authors, the Festival includes a week of Bookend Events throughout New York City, a lively Children’s Day and a celebratory Festival Day with more than 300 authors plus 250 booksellers filling a vibrant outdoor Literary Marketplace (September 22).

The Westport Writers Workshop is signing people up for one-day Saturday workshops beginning in September. Among them are: Honing Your Pitch  with Allison Dickens,  (September 14), Facebook For Writers w/ Jessica Grunenberg  (September 21), Twitter For Writers, also with Jessica Grunenburg, Learn to Outline (How to Write a Novel & Not Lose Your Mind) with Jessica Speart on October 5, Revise and Love It with Marie Cordell (October 12). Each costs $75, and runs from 10-noon or 10-1pm.

SFestThe Saugatuck StoryFest runs from September 26-28 and kicks off with Beyond Earth: The Stories and Science of Space Continue reading

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous: August update – Part 1

51tDpVmnPWL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_Twenty writers attended out meeting yesterday – and they had a lot to share. Mary Grace Dembeck’s children’s book, I’m Mad at the Moon, was published this month, Richard Seltzer has a publishing contract, and member V.P. Morris is launching her first weekly podcast series on August 27. The Dead Letters Podcast is a suspenseful audio drama in 25-minute episodes, focusing on the lives of five women who, over history, have received mysterious letters that warn of death and destruction if they don’t do exactly as the sender says. Find it on all the main podcast platforms: PodBean, iTunes, Google Play Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher

Gotham Writers in NYC offers writing courses in a wide variety of genres, and for all levels of expertise.  To encourage you to take a look, they are offering a free course to the winner of their 27-word Story-in-a-Bottle contest. Imagine finding a bottle Continue reading

Author interview: Elissa Grodin

ElissaGrodin_-10EditI’ve always admired crime and mystery writers. Their ability to mislead the reader, and the way they place clues and red herrings through the manuscript, has always fascinated me. Although I love to read these books, I almost never guess who the murderer is, which is what keeps me reading. Elissa Grodin’s latest novel, A Handful of Worldliness, had me guessing (incorrectly) as one by one, suspects were eliminated. The crime-solver in this novel, Edwina Goodman, is a professor of physics at a small college in New England, and although the main investigator is her policeman boyfriend, he can’t do it without her. I needed to interrogate the author…

GC: I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of a female science professor as the main protagonist in a mystery story. What gave you the idea for the character?

elissa gEG: I’ve long been interested in the philosophical idea that objective reality is illusory—the idea that there are myriad ways of seeing any given thing or person or event.  Everything is open to interpretation.  It is human nature to assume that the world really is as we think it does.  But life—and death—are much more complicated than that.  That’s where science comes in.  Theoretical physicists like my character, Edwina, spend their lives looking into the nature of reality, and trying to describe it as accurately as possible.  In my books I use murder as the punch line for the kind of mayhem and confusion murky, superficial thinking brings about.  So, her constant questioning of what we think we know, helps reveal the truth.

GC: The initials of her name, Edwina Goodman, are the same as yours. Does this mean she’s an alter ego?

EG: Yes, Edwina is certainly my alter ego.  If I could wrap my mind around mathematics – which I have a very hard time doing – I would have liked to have become an astronomer.  My siblings gave me a lovely telescope for a recent birthday, and I take it out every so often to stargaze.

GC: I like the way you include physics as a way to help figure out whodunit.  How easy is it to incorporate this relatively esoteric knowledge into your detective’s crime-solving?

EG: Physics is a very useful way to explain much of what goes on around us.  For example, one of my characters is a raging narcissist. Once you know that about him, you can interpret, and possibly even predict his actions, by applying Newton’s 3rd law of motion: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  A narcissist is likely to react in a specific way, given a particular set of circumstances—like lashing out when slighted or criticised.  Edwina uses informed logic, aided by a ferociously good imagination, to figure things out.  Her ability to connect the dots doesn’t necessarily depend on physics esoterica.  It’s just fun to throw a little bit of that stuff in once in a while.

GC: Your writing career started with books for children. What prompted the switch to adult fiction?

EG: The opportunity to write children’s books happily came my way some years ago, but I always had it in mind to move on to writing adult novels.  I developed a taste for mysteries from my mother, who was a great reader of mysteries, her favorite author being Agatha Christie.  Writing mysteries provides a somewhat larger, and more satisfying canvas on which to record the ideas I’m interested in.

GC: Do you outline your mystery novels before you start writing, or do you simply sit down and type? Why do you do it that way?

EG: I’m not nearly clever enough to hold all the subplots, and red herrings, and things in my head, so yes, I outline before I start writing.  Before I begin on a book, I know who the victim is, who the murderer is, how the murder is committed, and why.  I do a fair bit of filling in as I write, but I have the basic plot line figured out at the outset.  I rewrite incessantly.  You have to.   I also discover things I didn’t realize I wanted to say as the writing progresses.  Writing is self-discovery.

GC: What does the future hold in store for our heroine, Edwina Goodman?

EG: She’s a brilliant physicist, so certainly, she will continue to have career success.  And, I expect she and Will might get married one of these days.  We’ll see.

Keep reading to find out! You can follow Elissa on her website, as well as on Facebook, and Goodreads.

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous: July update

We had a great meeting on Wednesday, with lots of ideas for writers on how and where to submit, editing techniques, and congratulations to members recently or about-to-be published.  To keep this month’s update down to one post, I’m forging ahead.

On every third Thursday of the month, The Darien Library hosts a free Writer’s Workshop for writers of any genre and level of writing ability. Next meeting: Thursday, July 18, from 7-8:30 pm. They critique up to ten pages of written work in a friendly, constructive atmosphere. The meeting is directed by Laura Cavers, MFA. If you’re interested in joining the Writer’s Workshop for the first time, email Laura to get started.

41hnNV7tBgL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_On Sunday, July 21 / 2:00pm – 3:00pm The Storytellers Cottage is hosting a chat with a published author about the secrets to becoming a successfully published writer. July’s Featured Author: Penny Goetjen author of The Empty Chair, Murder on the Precipice, and  Murder Beyond the Precipice. National award-winner Goetjen writes murder mysteries where the milieu plays as prominent a role as the engaging characters.

Pequot book sale Pequot Library’s 59th Annual Summer Book Sale takes place from Friday, July 26 – Monday, July 29, from 9-6pm. Prices vary day to day, from most expensive to begin with to almost free by the end. They often have over 60,000 books for sale, so there’s definitely something there for you.

The Storyteller’s Cottage in Simsbury is also offering a class on Saturday, July 27, from 1-2:30pm, titled: Get Published: from Ideas to Instagram. Topics include: Opportunities on websites such as Submittable, preparing manuscripts, and deciding between a traditional publisher, and indie publisher or self-publishing. What to expect from publishing companies and editors. Revising and editing. And some of the most popular ways authors market their books from traditional bookstore signings to blogs, to Instagram. Good value at $30.

camouflageNorwalk Public Library is hosting two authors in August. Ivy Keating will be appearing on August 7 from 12-1:30 to talk about her book Camouflage, and on August 9, also from 12-1:30pm, Scott Kimmich will be discussing his trilogy of fantasy novels, Ordeal by Fire.

The Masters Review is now accepting submissions for their Summer Short Story Award for new writers. The winning story will be awarded $3000 and publication online. Second and third place stories will be awarded publication and $300 and $200 respectively. All winners and honorable mentions will receive agency review Deadline August 31.

Registration for the 2019 Ridgefield Writers Conference is now open! The conference takes place Friday, September 20, from 6:30-9pm at the Ridgefield Library. This year’s theme is storytelling, and the keynote is acclaimed writer, teacher and New Yorker poet Charles Rafferty. They also offer an agent, editor and publisher panel with Q&A, and three breakout sessions, for poetry, fiction writers and nonfiction. For details, visit Ridgefield Writers Conference. To register, click on Ridgefield Library Events. $25.

The 2019 Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize awards $5000 each to winners in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Winners are published in the spring issue of the Missouri Review and honored at a reading and reception in Columbia, Missouri, in late spring. Deadline October 1. All contest entries are considered for publication in the magazine.  Entry fee: $25-30. Submit here,

The New York Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America is offering two Burstein scholarships worth $1000 each this year to aspiring mystery writers. The purpose of the scholarship is to offer financial support to writers who want to take a specific class, attend a conference, or do specific research as demonstrably necessary to a mystery work they are creating. You don’t have to be a member of the MWA-NY Chapter, and submissions are open until October 9. Check the link above for how to submit.

If you want to pitch your book to an agent you could consider attending The Gotham Writers Conference on October 25-26. They promise genuinely to connect writers with agents and give a close-up look at how to get a book published.  Day 1 includes five panels and presentations. Day 2 is for pitching roundtables. Anyone can attend Day 1, but you must be selected to participate in Day 2. Space is limited.

Those of us with complete manuscripts have to decide how and where to publish. If that’s you, take a look at this informational chart from Jane Friedman, writing and marketing guru, about the key book-publishing paths. It is available as a PDF download—ideal for photocopying and distributing for workshops and classrooms—and the full text is also shown at the link.

Authors Publish is offering a new free book: 182 Short Fiction Publishers. It’s a very helpful guide to places where you can submit. You can download it at the link above.

Once you’ve decided, check out WriterBeware, which has an excellent newsletter that does what it says on the label. Each issue reviews publishers that have caused problems for authors or that misrepresent themselves. These are often self-described as hybrid publishers, co-publishers or partner publishers. What this means, essentially, is that you pay them to publish. This may be worthwhile in some cases, but it’s helpful to know which of these companies are on the level. Worth signing up for.

dreyerSome of you will have attended Dreyer’s evening at the Westport Library on July17, where he discussed his book, Dreyer’s English. If you’re interested in getting your work edited, it might be helpful to know what kind of editing you need. Member Alex McNab has a blog post to enlighten you, describing the Five Stages of Editing.

Don’t forget to check out the Writers’ Calendar for more events for writers, and – keep writing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous: June update – Part 2

Here, as promised, is Part 2 of the June update. Lots of author events, contests, and places to submit your work:

The Norwalk Public Library is offering two creative writing series: An ongoing poetry workshop on the first Monday evening of each month, and creative writing each Monday, from 10:30-12pm, beginning July 8. Free. Details here.

A quick reminder that I’ll be interviewing Amy Oestreicher about her extraordinary memoir, My Beautiful Detour,  on July 11 at Barnes and Noble in Westport at 6:30pm. She’ll be reading, and signing her book. And there’ll be refreshments Continue reading

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous: June update – Part 1

Some twenty of us gathered this month at the Westport Barnes & Noble—almost a record! There was lots to talk about, so this post covers Part 1 of this month’s update. First, and most important, the Westport Library is reopening … Continue reading