I’m always happy when members of the WritersMic and the Rendezvous are published for the first time. Tom Cowen came to read at last month’s WritersMic, and his moving article has just been published in The Good Men Project. It shines a different light on Father’s Day. Read it here.
Back to writer events coming up. On June 23, the Westport Library will host historian James Carter for a free talk on his new book, Champions Day. The book looks at the end of old Shanghai through the lens of one day of horse racing in 1941 China. More information about the event and how to order his book here. If you pre-order the book via the library, you can get a signed bookplate from the author.
I’ve been asking friends what they find most difficult about writing during lockdown, and to my surprise, yet understandably, the most frequent problem seems to be getting started. I’ve been joining free daily write-ins run by the Women’s Fiction Writers’ Association (members only) and also the ones run by the Fairfield County Story Lab (see below).
To encourage people to get going or keep going, I’ll be leading Monday Write-ins at the Pequot, beginning June 29 from 10-11:30 EST, and running through the end of August. Zoom in from anywhere and write. Not much talking, just a chance to write in the virtual company of your friends, old and new. I’m not sure exactly why it works, but it does. Register here, or email me for the link.
Carol Dannhauser, of the Fairfield County Story Lab is running a series of ongoing free events for writers during the lockdown, including two 90-minute write-ins: Wednesdays at 9am and Sundays at 3pm EST. Register here for those, and for other free events for writers, including Writing to Prompts (Tuesdays 2-3pm EST) and several others.
Starting next Tuesday, 23 June, from 12-1pm EST, Tessa McGovern will be leading free weekly Writing Sprints to Prompts on behalf of the Westport Library. Write for 45 minutes, and spend the last 15 mins discussing writing goals and obstacles for the following week. Currently scheduled indefinitely, you’ll find more information at the link above.
This time of social upheaval has brought home to me that I need to learn more about racism and its effects on me and the country I live in. So I’ve been, reading, and signing up for events and classes to help me do just that.
Writing outside of your personal, generational, or cultural experience can be a treacherous road to travel for today’s author. Even with the best intentions, it’s easy to create problematic or harmful content when you’re unaware of what you don’t know. I’ve signed up to learn how to use literary theory and criticism to view my work through an alternative lens. By using literary frameworks, it’s possible to gain insight into alternative perspectives that can help you identify and eliminate problematic and harmful content before you publish. The Beau Monde Chapter of the Romance Writers’ Association is offering a special workshop, Critical Lens, from July 1-31 given by LaQuette, an author who writes bold, provocative love stories featuring multicultural characters. Friends who have taken the class have told me that it has helped immeasurably in helping them successfully include characters of various backgrounds in their writing. The class is open to non-members, and costs $40.
This post covers perennial topics for writers. This business changes so rapidly that keeping up can be hard. I hope this helps. (LB: info provided by Lauren Busser) EDITING I’m always encouraging people to edit their work before submitting it … Continue reading →
We had another great Zoom meeting yesterday. I love seeing new people, as well as the usual suspects. This is a strange time for us all, but I see many positives coming out of it – in particular the creative ways in which writing and publishing are being supported. Check below for excellent online events you can get to without moving from your living room. Member Lauren Busser (right) had several useful links for you. (Thank you, Lauren!) I’ve marked her contributions LB.
If you’re having trouble getting down to writing, and you’d like some accountability, you might try writing 1000 words a day for two weeks, with author Jami Attenberg’s #1000WordsofSummer challenge. The 2020 session will be from May 29-June 11. You’ll receive a daily email encouraging you to write and all levels of writers are welcome. LB
The annual BookExpo in New York is the largest book fair in the country, and part of it, BookCon, is devoted to the public, rather than to the business of publishing. This year they’re doing it virtually, Continue reading →
The list of award winners in the Connecticut Press Club’s annual contest has just been published, and I’m delighted to say that over thirty awards were won by members of the Writers’ Rendezvous. Several won in more than one category. … Continue reading →
Here, as promised, is Part Two of the April update. In addition to all the activities for writers that have specific dates attached, there are several things you can do that require almost no effort at all. (Hooray!)
For example, the Westport Library is offering a whole lot of online programming, from 6-minute yoga sessions with Kerri Gawreluk, to a video series (10 Questions for… which are video interviews with a number of authors with interesting things to say. If you missed any of their great author events recently, this will bring you up to speed. They also have several short author podcasts on their website, featuring local authors. Among them are Jennifer Rosner, author of The Yellow Bird Sings, interviewed by book reviewer Jennifer Blankfein, and a series of three talks on the publishing process by Jane Green. They include: Getting Published, Genres, Editors, and Literary Agents, and most important: Money and Other Insights.
Author Cheryl Strayed is interviewing writers like Margaret Atwood and George Saunders in her New York Times Podcast, Sugar Calling. Listen to them while you’re taking that walk you’ve been planning…
Several people in the group were interested in submitting their work, having realized that they had things they’d written and never submitted. Two places that can help you choose where to send your work are Submittable (free) and Duotrope ($50 a year).
And if you feel you need fresh eyes on your work, you can find critiques at Scribophile
Among the places currently looking for submissions, is the publisher of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. They have several volumes for which they’re currently looking for pieces, including, Age is Just a Number, Christmas is in the Air and Self-Care and Me Time. Check the site for submission guidelines and deadlines.
The Discord App is a forum that allows communication over voice, video, and text. The Screenwriters Network server offers insightful discussions on scripts, writing prompts, technique, script feedback, table reads, and writing groups. It also hosts contests and has a hub of over 15,000 screenplays – and it’s free.
Hybrid Publisher She Writes Press is offering free webinars focusing on different aspects of publishing and promoting your book. They’re free until May 31st. Teachers include Wendy Walker, Kelly Corrigan, and Abigail Thomas, among others. The classes range from 30 minutes to an hour. You can do this!
Another source of learning is Masterclass, which I expect you’ve all seen in online ads. They’re currently offering unlimited access to their classes for two people for a year for $180, and their teachers include David Baldacci, Margaret Atwood, Judy Blume, and David Sedaris, among others.
If you’re writing memoir, you may find this newsletter interesting, It’s recommended by member Kate Mayer. Memoir Monday is a weekly newsletter and quarterly reading series brought to you by Narratively, The Rumpus, Catapult, Longreads, Granta, and Guernica. Each essay in this newsletter has been selected by the editors at the above publications as the best of the week, delivered to you all in one place.
Zoom. That’s the way I’ve been getting together with my friends, my writing groups, French conversation groups and, of course, The Writers’ Rendezvous people. And the great advantage of Zoom, is that it’s allowed me to host people who usually … Continue reading →
We had out first Virtual Writers’ Rendezvous via Zoom yesterday, and I’m so glad we did. Thirteen of us managed to sign in, and it was a wonderful way to connect. And, as you can see, I look much younger on Zoom. (Just kidding – that’s not me…) The reason the Rendezvous exists is as an antidote to the isolation of writers. And nothing will stop us connecting! (Photo below courtesy of Zoom)
Naturally, there were almost no events I could recommend, since everything for the immediate future is canceled. But the internet is a wonderful thing. Here are some of the things you can do to stay in the writing groove.
Around twenty of us gathered at Barnes & Noble in Westport this month, to chat, encourage and suggest writing solutions for each other. Poets, fiction and non-fiction writers including journalists – everyone had something constructive to offer. We are a great community!
And now, first things first. The Westport Library is presenting a performance of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologuestomorrow night, Friday, February 21, to benefit the Center for Family Justice and the Rowan Center – both organizations are dedicated to helping people in crisis. Among the many women appearing, will be yours truly and Mitzy Sky, one of the Rendezvous members. If you can come, please do. The suggested donation of $20 will go to an excellent cause, and if that’s too much for your budget, come anyway. Sign up here.
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.
Starting 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 Keller. Class size is limited to 10. $15.
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.
If you were published in 2019 and live in Connecticut, don’t forget to submit to The Connecticut Press Club’sannual 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 email@example.com 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. Or $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!