The Storyteller’s Press – a new publisher in Connecticut

Lisa Melikian NatcharianLisa Natcharian launched the Storyteller’s Cottage in a beautiful Victorian house in Simsbury, CT, in 2017.  It began as a venue for various literary activities and events for children and adults—book clubs, author readings, Harry Potter and Dungeons and Dragons Clubs, literary parties (1930s Murder Mystery or WWII Blitz party, anyone?) and plenty more. (Check the writers’ Calendar page on this site.) In addition to all of this, Lisa offers writing coursesSix Months to Your Manuscript, Intro to Journalism and Picture Books 101 among many others. Recently she 750 hopmeadow lightinstalled a writer-in-Residence, C. Flanagan Flynn, who leads workshops and one-on-one coaching, as well as writing for Inkling, (below) the beautiful quarterly literary magazine published by Storyteller’s Cottage. With all this going for it, it’s small wonder that ST is so popular with writers.

Full disclosure: I’m one of four authors featured in an evening called Book Odyssey Night on May 9, but that’s not why I asked Lisa for this interview.

Inkling Spring 2019 coverRecently Lisa added to her impressive list of offerings, by launching The Storyteller’s Press. So far, they’ve published three authors, and I wanted to find out more.

GC: What made you decide to begin such a time-consuming project?

LN: In the two years that we’ve been active in the writing community, we have been privileged to meet scores of aspiring authors.  As we spoke to them in the context of our writing classes and social events, we heard over and over about the difficulties new writers have trying to make an impact as tiny fish in a gigantic sea.  We saw a need for a small, hometown, supportive press, where new children’s authors can launch a career with personalized, caring support.

GC: How does an author get published by you? Do they require an agent?

LN: No agent is required.  Prospective authors may send us a summary of their story idea by email and we’ll respond back with a request for more information if the concept is a good fit for us.  For the first year of our operation as a publisher, we are limiting our range to children’s books.  As we grow, we plan to add additional genres.

813TmqvutuLGC: What makes publishing with The Storyteller’s Press different from traditional or self-publishing?

LN: We fit right in the pocket between traditional and self-publishing.  As a small press that focuses on personal service, we provide a hand to hold on the beginning of the publishing journey.  Whereas self-publishing requires a significant up-front investment on the part of the author, publishing with The Storyteller’s Press does not.  And while traditionally published authors may receive an advance on sales, or may be asked to travel to promote their work, the Storyteller’s Press instead operates on a smaller, more human scale.  We publish small initial print runs and rely on a print-on-demand model after the initial run, reducing financial risk for all involved. Focusing on our local contacts to promote new books, we work to get new authors into local independent bookstores as well as national chain stores.

Truly cover to edit-2GC: Does The Storytellers Press help with marketing the books?

LN: Definitely. With the Storyteller’s Cottage at the core of our local writing community, we are able to quickly garner name recognition for our new authors by promoting them on all our established communication channels, including our website, direct mail, social media, online magazine, etc. New authors are featured in our on-site bookstore, and at a variety of special events, including a launch party, storytime, writing workshop, community fairs and more.  We help authors create a website, blog, Facebook page, YouTube book trailer and any other personal marketing vehicles that they can then maintain. Our staff promotes new authors to the media with regular press releases to our established contacts in the area, and will also submit authors’ names to respected online directories and for a variety of author awards.

GC: This is amazing! And finally, most important for my readers, are you currently looking for submissions, and if so, in what genre(s)?

LN: Yes we are.  We would love to see submissions from local children’s book authors, especially those that have a self-confidence or educational component.  Our current roster includes Amanda Bannikov, whose three books featuring Tippy the Dragon and Kimothin the girl knight all encourage children to get comfortable with uncomfortable situations; Lana Bennett, whose two books featuring Truly the Fairy use mystery-solving to build self-confidence; and Kati Mockler, whose book about magnets teaches children how positive behaviors can attract joy in life.

You can connect with the Storyteller’s Cottage at their website, on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram

 

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – February update: part 2

And here, as promised, is the second part of my February update. There was simply so much to include, that I thought I’d give you a little breathing space. First up: the Bridgeport Library offers a free monthly memoir writing … Continue reading

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – February update: part 1

First, thanks to everyone who showed up yesterday for our 5th anniversary meeting in spite of dire warnings about the weather. And congratulations to member Alison McBain who came First  in the Connecticut Press Club’s Communications Contest for her editing … Continue reading

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – January update

I’m going to keep the intro short this month, since there’s a lot of ground to cover. Wednesday saw another great meeting, with old hands and new faces, and many successes to report. And here’s what’s coming up in the writing world of Fairfield County and environs:

This Saturday, January 19, Brian Hoover will be leading his monthly memoir writing workshop from 10:30-12:00, in the Bridgeport History Center, located in the main branch of the Bridgeport Public Library. Free.

The Connecticut Press Club is wrapping up submissions for this year’s contest. Anyone who lives or works in Connecticut is eligible to enter work published in 2018. Fees: $25 for the first entry and $15 for each additional entry. Deadline: midnight EST, January 22.

The Moth Mainstage comes to the Westport Playhouse on Friday, January 25, at 7:30PM for a one-night-only performance. Five storytellers, including Westport Continue reading

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – December update

Our final meeting of the year was surprisingly well attended, considering how close it was to Christmas. Maybe people were taking a break from the seasonal rush. In any event, we covered a lot of ground, with authors asking each … Continue reading

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous: November update

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and are all set to begin writing again. I always think NaNoWriMo was invented by some guys who didn’t have to cook for their family in November. And how come they never noticed it’s a short month? Oh, well.

Undeterred by these minor setbacks, a hardy group of us gathered at the Pequot Library (our hosts this month and next) in spite of the fact that they were getting ready for their famous Black Friday/Saturday book sale. It’s on tomorrow, Saturday, November 24, from 9-5, and includes DVDs, CDs and Vinyl, as well as books.FCWS

Also happening tomorrow, November 24, The Fairfield County Writers’ Studio (above) is offering their space from 10-5pm for anyone who wants a quiet place to write. They’re Continue reading

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – April update

First things first: Several of our members will be at the Westport Library’s Makers’ Faire tomorrow, April 21, with their books. Among them are: Kristen Ball, Sheryl Kayne, Ann Lineberger, and yours truly. Come and talk to us, and check out the books. There’s no obligation to buy (though we always love that!).
To honor National Poetry Month, I’m starting with poets. Member Alison McBain has put together a list of poetry workshops and readings, open to everyone. She and member Ed Ahern have started the Poets Salon Meetup, which takes place once a month, and where you can take your poetry for critique. Sign up for monthly reminders of meetings, and to connect with fellow poets. Ed also offers helpful suggestions on where to submit, etc, on the Meetup site. th

The Writer’s Group meets on the first and second Saturday of the month from 2-4pm in Bridgeport.

And on April 26, Alison McBain will be reading her work at 7:30pm at the Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn. The event marks the launch of the book: Aftermath: Explorations of Love and Grief, Check the happening out here.

The Westport Writers’ Workshop, which runs writing classes, is now offering a series of one-day classes, beginning this Saturday, April 21. They include Icing the Cake, The Power of ‘What If,’ Writing Through Motherhood, and Navigating the Publishing World. For a full list, see here.

 
The Nonfiction Writers Online Conference takes place from May 2-4 from 12pm-6pm. It looks as though it’s designed largely for those who’ve self -published, since a great deal of the focus is on how to market your book. The keynote speaker is Gretchen Rubin, talking about Habits, Happiness and Productivity for writers, and sessions include Effective Hybrid Publishing, Reach Millions with an Audiobook Presentation and Create Your Own Book Tour. You can check out the agenda online, and if you book by April 28, Sandra Beckwith of Build Book Buzz is offering a 35% discount off the fee of $125. Use her exclusive coupon code – BBB35

If you have a manuscript and you’re ready to take it to the next level, member Veronique Klemow suggests The Manuscript Academy. This online site offers various srvices for authors, ranging from a ten-minute phone meeting, with one page (your query or first page) read during the meeting, for $49, to critiques of your first 50/100 pages for $240/$480 respectively. They’ll critique your synopsis and proposal, too. Veronique felt the money was well spent.

Those of you looking for editors might want to take a look at Joanna Penn’s blog post on The Creative Penn. She lists a number of online resources from Winning Edits, to The Book Butchers. ‘We slaughter your writing, so it can rise in glory from the ashes.‘ There has to be someone on that list who’s right for you

A useful and free resource for finding places to submit is the weekly email from
Submittable. They list different types of publications and tell you whether they pay or not.

And finally, a quote via Alex McNab: You expect far too much of a first sentence. Think of it as analogous to a good country breakfast: what we want is something simple, but nourishing to the imagination. Hold the philosophy, hold the adjectives, just give us a plain subject and verb and perhaps a wholesome, nonfattening adverb or two.—LARRY McMURTRY

Keep writing!

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – March update-Part 1

You may remember me nagging you to enter the Connecticut Press Club Awards Contest earlier this year. If you did, good for you. If not, you might wish you had! Member Veronique Klemow placed first in the short story division, and I came second. Mar-Lou Newkirk placed second in the Writing for the Web section (along with her daughter Laurie). It’s a good way to start Spring!

The fifth Annual Norwalk LitCrawl is taking place next Tuesday, April 3, beginning at the Wall Street Theater at 5:30pm before moving out to read at restaurants – including Aji10, Banc House, Fat Cat, and Peaches – from 6:30 – 8:00 pm. Free appetizers will be provided courtesy of the restaurants, and a cash bar will be available for all attendees. URGENT: If you have poetry of your own (up to 3 minutes) and would like to read, please email Christine Bradley, Library director, at cbradley@norwalkpubliclibrary.org by this Friday, March 30, Include your introduction (why you chose to read that poem, etc.)  to let her know what you will be reading , and include a one or two line bio, that the host can use to introduce you. Also, let them know if you have a preferred venue and the approximate time at which you’d like to read. Tickets are $10.

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WestportWRITES has extended the deadline for their 10-minute plays, because they cancelled the workshop session due to snow, and have to reschedule it. So you still have time to submit. The play must be no longer than 10 minutes, must take place at a table, and have only two characters. If you’re not sure how to format a play, check here. The plays will be work-shopped for the very first Playground Westport, a downtown theatre mini-fest this summer. Submission deadline: 5pm, April 30. Submit to Westportwrites@gmail.com, and put Playground Westport in the subject line.

Southeast Review has extended the deadline for its World’s Best Short Story and Gearhart Poetry contests. Submit your work by March 31st in order to be considered for $1000 and publication in their next issue. This year’s Short Story Contest will be judged by Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler. The poetry contest will be judged by poet and fiction writer Barbara Hamby, a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship. Check the journal’s Submittable page for more information and to submit.

Missouri Review’s annual Miller Audio Prize closes for submissions on April 2. The
entry fee is variable between $10-30 (you choose how much) and includes a one-year digital subscription to the Missouri Review, which normally costs $24. All entries must be 15 minutes or shorter. Multiple entries must be accompanied by a separate donation for each. Previously published or aired pieces are acceptable as long as you, the entrant, hold the rights.

The Westport Library’s next mini-conference will be held from 1-5pm on April 8. The topic is Write Your Business, and will feature guests speakers Alice Mattison and Aubrey Sitterson. Join in-depth discussions about what it takes to make it as a writer in today’s climate, including traversing social media in a way that makes sense to help promote your work and propel your career.

Members Alison McBain and Ed Ahern have started a new Meetup for poets. The poetry discussion/critique group will meet the second Saturday of each month. The first meeting is on April 14 in the Jennings room of the Fairfield Library’s main branch from 10-12 am. You may bring your poetry for critique, or come to hear others. Sign up at the link above for more information.
Member Bernice Rocque will be at the Wednesday Night Writers group on April 18, at the Trumbull Public Library from 6:30-8:30 pm. She’ll be discussing some of the challenges of publishing a print book with color interior pages. If you’re writing a book that includes photographs, and are planning to self-publish, Bernice has a lot of experience in this area, and is worth meeting.

CRAFT is an online literary journal which explores the art of fiction. Their current contest in short fiction (up to 6,000 words) closes on April 30. The first prize is $2000. Simultaneous submissions (previously unpublished work only) are allowed, but please inform them if your story has been accepted elsewhere. As with many contests with cash prizes, there’s a $20 reading fee per story.

The Fairfield County Writers Studio is offering several useful classes and workshops right now, among them, The Ultimate Writers’ Workshop with Carol Dannhauser, which starts March 29, from 12:30-2:30, and The Art and Craft of Novel Writing, Level Two, with Stephanie Lehmann on Mondays, 2:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m., Starts April 16, 2018
Also in April (date to be confirmed) agent Marilyn Allen will be showing us how to write a query letter that grabs an agent’s or publisher’s attention. In this master class, you’ll get insider tips and techniques to accomplish just that.

There’s so much information this month that I’ll be posting part two in a couple of days, just to give you a breather, but all the upcoming time-sensitive dates are here. Happy writing

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – October update

It’s as though the entire writing world has woken up at once and is raring to go. If you’re not prepping for NaNoWriMo, or going to mini-conferences, you’re probably at write-ins, or book signings. And among the main providers of opportunities for writers are the local libraries. Read on for activities in Westport, Darien, New Rochelle and Durham… A propos of NaNoWriMo, where your daily counts soon become an obsession, member Elizabeth Chatsworth recommends a useful goal-setting tool for checking your progress called Pacemaker. And it’s free.

typingSunday, October 22, 1-5pm Darien Library: Get ready for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) by developing your plot in during the Busy Writer’s One Hour PlotWorkshop. The hardest part of plotting is just building a workable framework so you can get on with the actual writing. Taught by Roman Godzich – free. While you’re at it, check out their Writers’ Workshop (next one on November 16, 7-8.30pm).

Sunday, October 22, 3pm: Member Kate Mayer will be reading at Read 650 event at the New Rochelle Public Library. Topic: The Kids are All Right.

Thursday, October 26, 7-9pm: Liv Constantine will be signing her latest book, The Last Mrs. Parrish, at the Fairfield University Bookstore in downtown Fairfield.

Saturday, October 28, 12 – 2:30pm: Member Susan Israel will be reading from and signing her books at Elm Street Books in New Canaan

Saturday, November 4, from 1-5pm: At the Durham Public Library – A Writing Workshop with Alice Mattison: Join acclaimed novelist and writing teacher Alice Mattison to explore the question, “What Does Your Novel Want?” Space limited. Registration required   Register Online or call (860) 349-9544, ext. 1.

Saturday, November 4, 1-4pm: WestportWRITES mini-conference: Discovering the Feminist YA Voice with Authors Jennifer Mathieu and Micol Ostow. At the Westport Library. Free.

Sunday, November 5, 1-5pm: WestportWRITES mini-conference: Write Your World, exploring writing that celebrates a more inclusive world. Features a keynote by author and Lambda Literary Award finalist Chavisa Woods (Things to Do When You’re Goth in the Country). Novelist and Chocolatier Nikki Woolfolk will present an interactive workshop exploring race and representation in storytelling. And author Stephen Graham Jones (Mapping the Interior, My Hero) At the Westport Library. Free.

Preceding every mini-conference, there is a Writers Survival Camp at noon (register online) that focuses on activities to help you survive the writing life. nano

Westport Library Write-In: Come work on your novel in the company of other writers. As if that weren’t enough, they are planning a new podcast series: One-Shot Stories from the Westport Library, as well as a WestportWRITES  compilation/anthology to be published on their newly acquired Espresso Machine. (See my earlier blog post to find out what that is!)

I found this interesting article from Amazon: A publishing checklist for authors. This is part of a new Beta service/blog called author insights, and offers a simple way of knowing what Amazon wants/expects you to do, if nothing else.

Once you have all your ducks in a row, there are several ways to pitch your work, and those of us who’ve tried them have had some success. The first three Pitch Mad, Pitch Madness and Pitch Wars, which takes place every August. They’re run by author Brenda Drake. Pitch Wars offers a two month mentorship for winning submissions to help get you an agent. Pitch Madness is a contest held every March, where writers enter for a chance to win requests from the participating agents. Writers submit a 35-word (max) pitch and the first 250 words of their completed manuscript on submission day. Then a team of readers choose the top sixty (60) entries to go onto the agent round. #PitMad is a pitch party on Twitter where writers tweet a 140 character pitch for their completed, polished, unpublished manuscripts. It takes place quarterly, and the next one is scheduled for December 7, 2017.

These contests work – there’s proof on the site.

Another, similar idea, is offered on Query Kombats, by Melissa Hauck. The rules are a bit complicated, since it’s a knockout contest, so hit the link to find out more. Her second contest is Nightmare on Query Street, whose submissions closed today, but at least you have time to plan ahead for next year…

If you need a hand finishing your work, you can take an online class with Catapult.com. One of our members is trying one, and promises to let us know what she thinks of it.

Lastly, here’s an intriguing, not to say, Quixotic, place to submit a hundred word story (or two). The César Egido Serrano Foundation is a non-profit whose objective is to use words and dialogue to promote understanding between different cultures and religions. The competition first prize is $20,000 for the best short story. All entries will be evaluated by an international jury of great prestige, and the finalist’s stories will be published. A maximum of two stories per person of no more than 100 words each, should be submitted via this link.

 

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – July update

We had a smaller group yesterday – the effect of summer, no doubt, but the conversation was animated and a number of people got answers to questions like “How do I go about getting a website?”

The answer to that one, by the way, was:

  1. Decide what domain name you want – one for you and one for the title of your book
  2. Get that name registered on any social media you can think of. You don’t need to use the social media site yet, but you want to be able to in the future.
  3. WordPress, Wix and Squarespace were recommended as sites that would let you design and manage your own website. There are sites on the web where you can compare the relative benefits of these, before you make a decision.The New York Times ran a recent article about making your own website, too.
  4. A recent blog post by Jane Friedman, writing guru, might help answer the question, too. So You’re an Author Without a Social Media Presence: Now What? (Thanks, Alex McNab for this and other suggestions further down the page.)

And talking about websites, one of our members, Elizabeth Chatsworth, has an audio sample of her writing on her site, even though the book isn’t finished yet. It’s a good idea and worth listening to. in the spring, I went to a class on how to record a podcast, which may now come in handy, since there’s a decent chance I may be able to publish one of my stories with an audio version available in the online version. You never know…

B&N storytelling 071917 editedBarnes & Noble in Westport, our gracious hosts for the Writers’ Rendezvous, have started a series of storytelling evenings, which, as it happens, are also on the third Wednesday of the month, and worth putting on your calendar. You’ll hear people telling their story without reading it, and it’s remarkably inspiring. Here I am, telling my story, and in spite of my accidentally pained expression, I’m having fun.

For blog readers or members who live in Norwalk, 3Birds Productions is having a community-building evening of stories next Tuesday, July 25 from 7-9pm at Harbor Harvest (7 Cove Avenue in Norwalk). The theme is Maiden Voyage, and you have 5 minutes to tell your story. Or you can come and just listen (from anywhere).

A couple of members asked for links to Autocrit, a software that does an edit on your writing and finds, in addition to typos, repetition, etc, a lot of your quirks, so you can change them if you want to. Duotrope, where all the best places to submit are listed, should be bookmarked by now!

I came across an article entitled Does Amazon KDP select help you sell more books? It’s not too long, so an easy read, and the general conclusion seems to be that Kindle Direct Publishing  works well for one 3-month enrollment per year, but perhaps not more.

Alex recommends an interview with Crime/mystery novelist Walter Mosley in The Paris Review  – Art of Fiction series, and a New York Times article about Junot Diaz writing a children’s book, headlined Child to Novelist: ‘Tell Me a Story’

Last month I mentioned CAPA, which I joined. Their local chapter has regular meetings in Shelton, and they’re also affiliated with APSS – the  Assn of Publishers for Special Sales, who offer special rates at events where you can sell your book.

A couple of free ideas: Penguin books is offering a free Guide to short story writing for download. And if you’re missing your critique group or want to start one but members live in various different places, Zoom Room offers free videoconferencing to help you out.

I’m going to see the movie Dunkirk this weekend, partly because my Polish father was one of the soldiers rescued from the beaches there. The Poles don’t often get a mention, but my dad, who was in France when war broke out, fought with the French and then the British. I happened to write about him on my personal blog a couple of weeks ago, if you’d like to read it. And if you want to read more posts like it, feel free to follow me!

Stay cool!