Writers Rendezvous – January update Part 2

Welcome to part two of January’s update. This includes some free writing workshops, suggestions for finding more reader reviews for your upcoming book, and more.

On Tuesday, February 9, at 3pm, member Barbara Anne King (The California Immigrant) will be appearing at the Norwalk Library in a discussion on Zoom of her new novel, The Apple King, to be published February 3.  The book is the second historical novel in her Monterey Bay Series, based on the Croatian immigrants who settled in California in the 1930s. Register to get a Zoom link by emailing Cynde Bloom Lahey, or call (203) 899-2780 ext. 15133.

The Connecticut Romance Writers Association (CTRWA) allows non-members to attend two meetings a year to see whether membership appeals to them. Meetings are held monthly, and each one has a guest presenter with topics of interest to writers. The next meeting, On February 13, will host bestselling thriller author Hallie Ephron, (Careful What you Wish For) giving a workshop on Writing Character-Driven Fiction. She’ll cover topics appropriate for any novelist: creating a character web, developing a character arc within the novel’s three-act structure, mining the gap between what’s visible and what’s hidden, developing a character arc within a scene, and the importance of back story in driving plot, and how to use it effectively. Email connecticutrwa@gmail.com if you’d like to attend.

Jane Cleland, writer of the Josie Prescott series of cozy mysteries, and also a writing teacher, is offering some free online workshops that could benefit any writer of fiction. Here are the details: February 20: Thematic Writing (How to use figurative imagery, atmosphere, and allegories to add richness and depth to your writing) and on March 13, The Perception Gap (How to use your characters’ views of the world to create compelling and twisty plots.)

Finding readers to review your book can be difficult, but I’ve come across three companies that may be able to help. If you can recommend others, please let us know in the comments.

Booksprout app

Booksprout is a company founded in 2015 that helps increase your book reviews. Rather than signing up for numerous newsletters, checking multiple websites, and missing new releases by their favorite authors, readers can follow them in their app. It provides a single location with mobile notifications so that readers never miss a new book again! Authors need reviews on launch day in order to build trust quickly. With our ARC Management feature, they can reduce time spent delivering eBook files and following up with readers all while maximizing reviews. There’s a free version, and ones for $10 or $20 per month with more features.

Bookfunnel is a similar service, but also allows you to collect the email addresses of those who’ve downloaded the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of your book. Depending on your price point, there are other benefits too. Prices range from $2 to $20 per month, with a contract for a year.

Lastly, Story Origin provides the same services and is completely free because it’s in Beta (meaning they haven’t figured out all the wrinkles yet). It might be worth a try if your budget is tight, since you’ve nothing to lose, and they have a number of tutorials on the site to show you how to use it. Here’s a list of the opportunities they offer.

Published to death is a blog for writers that covers a multitude of subjects, including agents, self-publishing, and submissions. A recent post listed 49 places to submit to for the month of January. Because it’s late in the month, some of the deadlines have passed, but there are still plenty left. They cover all kinds of genres, so subscribe to keep up to date.

Lastly, in case you’re spending too much time on your phone and would like to break the habit, you could do worse than try Forest, an app that allows you to “grow” a virtual forest while you’re not on your phone. When you accumulate enough points, the people at Forest will plant a live tree for you.

So you can do the world a bit of good along with yourself. 🙂

Keep writing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writers Rendezvous – January update Part 1

Since yesterday was Inauguration Day, we had a smaller number of writers than usual, but that included some new members, which gave us a chance to get to know each other. I’m still loving the way Zoom meetings can expand my horizons, so I can meet people who would be unlikely to show up in person, because of distance. Here’s some of what we discussed.

If you like or write historical fiction, you may want to attend this virtual event at 7pm on Thursday, January 21. Darien Library and Barrett Bookstore will host authors Marie Benedict (The Mystery of Mrs. Christie), Melanie Benjamin, (The Children’s Blizzard), and Greer Macallister, (The Arctic Fury)  for a historical fiction panel that will delve into their most recent novels: The Children’s BlizzardThe Mystery of Mrs. Christie, and The Arctic Fury.  Register here.

Here’s an unusual Short Story Challenge run by NYC Midnight Movie Making Madness. This international creative writing competition, now in its fifteenth year, challenges participants to create original short stories in as little as 24 hours.  The challenge consists of four rounds.  In the first round—January 22-30—writers are placed randomly in groups and are assigned a genre, subject, and character. Writers have eight days to write an original story of no longer than 2,500 words. In further rounds, the number of words decreases, but so does the time allowed for writing the story. For more details, check here.  One of the benefits of this challenge is that feedback from the judges is provided for every submission and there are cash prizes for the winners.

Allison Dickens

The Westport Writers Workshops has many workshop classes, among them their popular series of One-off workshops on various topics of interest to writers. These include My Lessons In Self-Publishing with Libby Waterford and Allison Dickens this Saturday, January 23, from 10-12noon. Getting Your Book Published will be held on Saturday, February 6 (10a-12noon). Here’s one every novelist can use: Learn to Outline: How to Write a Novel and Not Lose Your Mind with Jessica Speart, on Saturday, February 20 from 10am-1pm. Others are available and WWW is always adding new ones.

Writer and teacher Tessa McGovern is offering a free one-hour writing sprint and ask-me-anything session every Tuesday at noon. Hosted by Westport Library, participants chat about successes and obstacles, write for an hour and then have 39 min  to ask Tessa anything about writing or publishing. More information and the link on her website (link above).

On January 27 at 7 pm The Connecticut Press Club is offering a virtual Boost Your Brand Workshop, led by Javacia Bowser. The workshop promises to teach you how to: define and convey who you are, what you want, and what you stand for as a writer; build relationships with other writers, bloggers, editors, and agents; use social media to manage your brand’s reputation, and grow your audience before you launch your book or blog. Free to Connecticut Press Club members, $15 for non-members. More information and registration here.

Courtesy of the Poets’ Salon, the Meetup for Poets: The Sunshine State Book Festival will be held online all day on Saturday, January 30. It will feature 100 authors writing in eighteen genres. You can preview a sampling of the author booths right now – each author will have their own video presentation and list of books to browse online. Free.

The Big Moose Prize contest is open to traditional novels as well as novels-in-stories, novels-in-poems, and other hybrid forms that contain within them the spirit of a novel. Each year Black Lawrence Press will award The Big Moose Prize for an unpublished novel. The prize is open to new, emerging, and established writers. The winner of this contest will receive book publication, a $1,000 cash award, and ten copies of the book. Prizes will be awarded on publication. Deadline January 31 and submissions are now open.

The Mark Twain House is offering a six-week online writing course with author Dana Meachen Rau (Who is series) for a six-week writing course! Each session runs on Zoom from 4 to 5:30 p.m every Thursday, February 11 through March 18. This six-week writing course is offered in conjunction with the Page to Stage Short Story Writing contest co-sponsored by The Bushnell and The Mark Twain House & Museum. More information to come! Registration is $150 and grants you access to all 6 sessions. This course is limited to 10 students. Registrants will receive a Zoom link in advance of the first class. Register here.

Member Elizabeth Chatsworth allowed me to interview her for her book launch last week. If you’d like to see how it went, here’s the link.

That’s about half the information for this month. Check out Monday’s post for more events, and ways to increase your book reviews, particularly before you launch.

Meanwhile, keep writing!

Writers’ Rendezvous – December update

In spite of a gray day during which many people were out running holiday errands before the predicted foot of snow began to fall, nine people showed up for the Writers’ Rendezvous. This gave us a chance to discuss some … Continue reading

Writers’ Rendezvous – November update Part 2

I’m back with more suggestions for ways to keep your writing life going. For example…

Award-winning author and writing teacher Nora Raleigh Baskin is running a four-week workshop program for the Connecticut Library Association starting December 1, from 6-7:30pm). The cost for the entire program will be $100 for CLA members and $125 for non-members. Class size is limited, and each participant is expected to commit to the entire workshop series. Each session will build on the one before, so participants are asked to commit to the entire series. This program is a fundraiser for the Connecticut Library Association. Your fee goes back to CLA. because Nora Raleigh Baskin has donated her time and considerable expertise for the fundraiser. 

The Writers’ Rendezvous is a big supporter of the  Connecticut Press Club and its Awards contest, which is now open for submissions. If you’ve published anything in 2020, you may enter, and since there are 61 categories, you should be able to find your niche. They include all kinds of writing, as well as editing (of others’ published work), photography, graphics, radio and TV, websites, podcasts, advertising and PR, and a host more. You may submit up to three entries in any given category, and up to ten entries in total. The early deadline (which avoids an extra fee) is January 27, the deadline for books is February 3, and the final deadline is February 10.

Inkshares is a publisher with a difference. They work by crowd-funding your book. This article gives you Continue reading

Writers’ Rendezvous – November update: Part 1

We had a great meeting yesterday, with contributions from everyone who attended. People are getting things done in the writing sphere. Maybe not quite as much as they’d like to, but making progress all the same. Kudos to them all … Continue reading

Writers’ Rendezvous – September update

Elizabeth Chatsworth

Thank you to the members who persevered to get into the meeting when I had a Zoom fail this month. On the plus side, we were a select group, which gave us a chance to talk things over. Feeling overwhelmed by the current situation seemed to be a theme, so it was nice to have something to celebrate.

I’m delighted to tell you that Rendezvous member Elizabeth Chatsworth‘s debut novel was featured on the cover of Publisher’s Weekly on August 31. Please support her by marking it as want-to-read on your Goodreads page, or better yet, pre-ordering. (It takes a village, folks!) It’s called The Brass Queen and is a great read. Check out the details including an excerpt at the link.

Fairfield County Writers’ Studio is beginning its virtual fall classes this week. Each class lasts six or seven weeks and is limited to six students, so everyone gets personal attention. They include a class on food writing, taught by Rebecca Dimyan, A creative writing craft class taught by member Carol Dannhauser, two classes on writing for children and teens Continue reading

Writers’ Rendezvous: January update – Part 2

Welcome back! Here’s the second list of events and suggestions this month. And check out the Writers’ Calendar for more.

41zJFP9zbwL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_On February 12, from 7-9pm and just in time for Valentine’s Day, Tracy Strauss, author of the new book I Just Haven’t Met You Yet, and Gina BarrecaHartford Courant columnist and UCONN Distinguished Professor of English, will discuss Writing About Love: How to Find It, How to Lose It, and Whether You Want to Bother With It At All. Tickets: $20. Copies of Tracy Strauss’ book, will be available for purchase and signing.

Norwalk Public Library is offering a free eight-week writing workshop with Kim Kovach beginning Monday, March 23 from 10:30-12pm. New and experienced writers are welcome to explore writing Flash Fiction (1,000 words) and Micro Fiction (300 words). Weekly homework assignments encourage participants to dive into writing. Registration required.

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Sonya Huber

Another program in the WestportWRITES series is Pain as Metaphor: Writing on Disability and Illness. The workshop with Sonya Huber takes place on Sunday, March 22 from 2-4pm and will delve into the generative and restorative power of metaphor, as used in her book, Pain Woman Takes Your Keys and Other Essays from a Nervous System, to portray and explore the experience of chronic pain in a healing way.

Join Danbury book designer, artist and poet, Shelley Lowell, and Greenwich TV researcher and genealogy teacher, Janeen Bjork at the Danbury Library on March 28, from 10:30-2pm for a presentation on how to write a history of your family. Contact kmostacero@danburylibrary.org for more information.

Connecticut Center for the Book is now accepting submissions for the 2020 Connecticut circle-ctbook-01Book Awards. These awards recognize the best books by authors and illustrators from Connecticut or books about Connecticut. Categories include: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Books for Young Readers broken into three subcategories: Picture Books, Fiction, and Nonfiction.  The final deadline for all categories is April 17 and entry fees start at $40.00. Click here for submission guidelines.

CLA-LogoIn conjunction with the 2020 Connecticut Literary Festival,  which is to take place on October 10, 2020, the Central Connecticut State English Department is planning to publish a literary anthology of Connecticut writers. They’re looking for previously unpublished work in the categories of fiction, creative non-fiction, (2,500 words max) and/or up to two poems. For details and how to submit, click here. Submissions deadline: March 31.

Those looking for critique groups or partners might be interested in a new website called critique match. CritiqueMatch is an online platform that connects writers, published authors, and beta readers to exchange feedback and gain skills. While the service is in beta (trial) mode the service is free and might be worth trying.

The 50 best online critique groups include ones that critique query letters, ones for people who only have 10 minutes a day to write and critiques of your first 13 lines, to make sure you’ve hooked the reader.

Here’s an article on the best writing software with reviews by Dave Chesson at Kindlepreneur, a writing and marketing guru.

BookBaby, a website that offers all the services necessary for self-publishing, is offering a free book: Five Steps to Self-Publishing.

And here’s another on how one author did her own marketing in order to get onto the USA Today bestseller list.

 

 

Writers Rendezvous: January update – Part 1

We had an energizing meeting yesterday, with tales of successes, help sought and given, and goals set for the writing year.  Several of us targeted getting published as something to work toward this year. To encourage you in achieving those goals, there are plenty of events and classes to inspire you around here.

on-publishing-collageStarting with a forum at the Pequot Library this Saturday, January 18, from 11-1pm. The topic is On Publishing and will feature Fairfield University’s MFA Director and author Sonya Huber and incoming MFA director, author and Fairfield University English professor Carol Ann Davis, as well as me. Come armed with questions and we’ll help you figure out how you can make 2020 your year to be published. Free.

Mary-Lou Weisman, bestselling author, personal essayist and memoir writer, offers an eight-week workshop at the Westport Library for those who have had some experience in writing memoir and personal essay, who want to improve their writing. Eight-week sessions begin on January 9 & 23, February 6 & 20, March 5 & 19, April 2 & 16. The classes take place every other Thursday, from 12:30-2:30pm and to be accepted, you need to submit a sample of your writing. For more information, contact Jennifer KellerClass size is limited to 10.  $15.

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Allison Dickens

Among its many other offerings, The Westport Writers Workshop is offering eight Saturday workshops that you can take in your pajamas, using Zoom. It’s an easy-to-use free video conferencing program that allows for multiple participants, audio and video sharing, screen sharing, working on a whiteboard, and recording. Email WWW to ask about a free Zoom demo class that will help you get comfortable with how it works. The eight Zoom workshops run from January 25-March 28 and include this one from 10-12pm on January 25: Putting Your Best Foot Forward: Query Letters. It’s taught by editor Allison Dickens, and the workshop will discuss tactics for writing successful query letters. And you’ll get the chance to submit your query letter for critique.

As you can see, getting published is what it’s all about this month. The Storyteller’s Cottage in Simsbury CT is offering a series of workshops on getting traditionally published. Author Dawn Metcalf will share her experience publishing five young adult fantasy novels with Harlequin Teen, including Luminous and the four-book Twixt series. The sessions take place on Wednesdays from 10-12pm. They include How to Write a Query Letter, January 22, How to Pitch Your Work, January 29, and How to Actually Finish Your Manuscript on February 5. Cost: $45 per class. Other workshops include How to Become a Freelance Writer and one on reviewing theatre.

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Libby Waterford

Westport Writers Workshop is offering a panel on publishing: Traditional Publishing, Self-publishing, and Everything in Between: What’s Right For You? at the Westport Country Playhouse on Saturday, February 1, from 2-4pm. The panel will feature local writers Allison Dickens, Jessica Speart, Libby Waterford, & Heather Frimmer. $25

If you were published in 2019 and live in Connecticut, don’t forget to submit to The Connecticut Press Club’s annual Awards contest. To enter the contest, follow the directions on the contest site. The early deadline to submit entries — and avoid a one-time additional fee of $25 — is January 28. The final deadline for books is February 4 and the final deadline for all other entries is February 11. There are 61 categories including 17 just for writing (news, fiction, poetry, etc) and others for websites, blogs, design, advertising, PR and even speeches. Email CTContestDir@charter.net with questions about the contest. And email ctpressclub@gmail.comif you would like to be a judge.

Amy Oestreicher will be the featured speaker at an author luncheon at Bernard’s Restaurant in Ridgefield on January 30 at 12pm. Amy will read from her memoir, speak briefly during the prix fixe lunch ($35.00), and conduct a Q & A. Reservations: 203-438-8282.

The WestportWRITES program at the Westport Library is offering a free workshop entitled Sharpen Your Journalism Skills on Sunday, February 9 from 2-4pm.  Using elements of lyric writing like hook, word choice and finding an angle, journalist Robin Chung will guide participants through a two-hour workshop with hands-on components that promises to bring fresh insight to the work of the journalist.

Best-selling author Jane Green (left) will be in conversation with memoirist Dani Shapiro on February 12 at 7pm at the Westport Library. They’ll be discussing  Shapiro’s latest bestselling memoir, Inheritance. The evening will include audience Q&A and a post-conversation signing. Tickets: $40 for general admission seating, plus a copy of the book. 41zbrxnNkjLOr $100 for a 6:00 p.m. pre-event VIP reception with Dani and Jane, special reserved seating at the front of the Forum, plus a copy of the book.) Purchase tickets here.

Part 2 will follow on Monday. Don’t forget to check out these and other events on the Writers’ Calendar page. And in the meantime – have a productive weekend!

 

Writers’ Rendezvous: December update

Only three courageous souls braved the icy weather to read their work at the WritersMic this month, but today’s Rendezvous had 14 attendees. Yay! It was held at the Fairfield County Story Lab, where we were hosted by the owner, Carol Dannhauser. Members admired the shared writing spaces available,  as we sat around drinking coffee and eating festive cakes and cookies. A person could get used to this! Here’s some of what we discussed:

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Photo: Catherine Sebastian

Join extraordinary memoirist Joyce Maynard at the  Fairfield County Writers’ Studio for a one-day Master Class on personal storytelling on Tuesday, January 7, from 10-2:30 pm. ($125) /10-4 pm. ($175). The numbers are limited to 20, and you should register immediately if you’re interested, since places are going fast. Writers who wish to attend must submit, in advance of the class, the first 750 words of a work of first-person Continue reading

Writers’ Rendezvous: November update – Part 1

I was at the Plumb Library in Shelton recently, as the featured speaker for the monthly meeting of SW CAPA, the SW chapter of the Connecticut Authors & Publishers Association. I gave a talk about Overcoming the Obstacles to Getting your Work Published, and you can watch the YouTube video here. Go to minute 16, to avoid listening to audience chitchat before the main event! If you’d like a copy of my notes, with links to all the helpful sites I mention, email me via the contact page, Continue reading