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If you’re writing flash fiction, here’s your chance to submit to CRAFT’s first flash fiction contest for unpublished stories up to 1,000 words.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!

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 – August update

I love the fact that members old and new show up each month to get or offer encouragement to other writers. It’s how I finally got my manuscript edited, so I can now look for a publisher. Thanks, everyone! As … Continue reading

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!

 

 

 

 

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – July update

So here’s the update from Wednesday’s meeting of the Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – for those who were there, and those who wish they had been…lainey

A number of interesting topics arose. Ed Ahern mentioned that he’d been interviewed for The Two Sides of You, a book about bi-hemispheric people – those using both sides of their brain with equal facility. I mention this because I know the author, who belongs to a generation not generally known for their technological interest, never mind savvy. Yet Elaine Breakstone managed to publish this interesting (not just because I know her!) book, finding a cover designer, using Createspace to help with the layout, and putting it up on Amazon. Point is, if she can do it, you could too.

Alex McNab had his first fiction piece published in Still Crazy, suggested by fellow member Jacque Masumian. This is why we meet – to encourage each other and tell each other what works.

One submission tool that comes up at virtually every meeting is Duotrope. I mention it again for new members, and also for those of you who find submitting an overwhelming task.

Several members asked about how to write a really good query letter. We talked about Query Shark, a website run by  agent Janet Reid  who takes apart query letters she thinks aren’t any good, so you can see what not to do. One Rendezvous member suggested not sending a query letter to your top agent preferences first, in case the letter needs modification.  After you’ve sent it to your second tier list, and modified the letter (assuming you don’t get an acceptance) submit to your A list.

An interesting article in Atlantic Monthly talks about the rise in women crime writers. I find this interesting, since in my book, so to speak, women authors have dominated crime since the 30’s (Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and forward). I guess what the writer is getting at is that women write better psychological crime – solving the crime isn’t just a technical puzzle, it’s an emotional one, too. Add to that the fact that over half crime readers are women, and you can see why women crime writers are so successful. A quick check of our membership shows a number of women crime writers among our members, but so far, no men.

Dogwood, the Fairfield University Literary magazine, is soliciting submissions for their 2017 Literary Prizes. If you don’t want to compete, but would like just to submit, you can do that, too.

Talking of submissions, here’s an article on why you should aim for 100 of them. Some of our members are working on it!

For non-fiction writers, Creative Nonfiction is running a workshop in Havana (Cuba) from January 31-February 4, 2017. It’s co-sponsored by the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, and will be led by Lee Gutkind, editor of Creative Nonfiction. It’s called: Bringing Havana to Life, and at least one of our members is setting her novel there. Even if you’re not, Havana? Sounds great.

I heard about Plot Control software from a friend. It’s designed to help with screenwriting, but as we know, plot structure doesn’t vary much between genres. However, this is not the only one out there.  You might also look at Movie Outline, Save the Cat, and Final Draft.  I think most of these will work for fiction, too, but don’t quote me.

For those people already published on Kindle, you can, in fact, sign your book for buyers. I asked A.J O’Connell about it when I interviewed her a while back. You can read more about Authorgraph here.

As ever, Writers Read will be at the Fairfield Pubic Library on Tuesday, August 2nd, from 7-9pm. On August 3rd, Jay McInerney is talking about his latest book at the Darien Library, and on Friday, August 5th, the Writers’ Salon will be meeting at the Fairfield Library from 4-6pm.

See you next month!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – February update

Another great meeting last Wednesday of the Westport Writers Rendezvous – thanks, everyone!

We covered quite a bit of ground, and here are the highlights:
First, I had to congratulate our own Alex McNab, whose query letter was one of the three selected to be passed on to Sourcebooks and Penguin. The contest was organized by the Fairfield County Writers’ Center in Westport, and agent Marilyn Allen of Allen & O’Shea literary agency was the judge. Terrific, Alex!

635897804476249932-2080163357_editor

Two ways to avoid getting the Bad Sex in Fiction Award (it’s a real thing, folks) – get your work edited (see below) and find some beta readers – people who don’t know you all that well, and don’t know what you’re trying to say, and will tell you so.

Book editors
New York Book Editors
Tiger Wiseman uses Ramona De Felice Long

People had great suggestions for places to submit your work:
Mused:  . Unfortunately, the Spring edition submissions just closed (Feb 15th) but they are a quarterly, so submit something for the summer issue.
Bewildering Stories: an interesting, self-described webzine that promises to give you feedback if your work isn’t accepted
The Huffington Post may seem like an impossible dream but here are some hints on how to get accepted:
And a propos of getting your blog published on other sites, take a look at Beyond Your Blog, which has lots of advice.
Still Crazy, with writing for boomers…
Act Two, an online magazine based in Fairfield, is also for boomers.
Scary Mommy is self explanatory, although I don’t think you have to be Joan Crawford to write for them.
Submit your play (musical, monologue, short scene from a full-length play or one-act play) for the Catherine Lindsey Workshop by March 1st. The workshopping is done in Darien.

The Mix is a site run by Hearst Corporation, which issues daily writing assignments that you can choose to write and submit.
Poetry & Writers has a long list of contests, grants and awards here.

A couple of conferences: The Creative Nonfiction Writers’ Conference (Pittsburgh, PA My 27-29)
And the Unicorn Writers’ Conference won’t be happening until March next year.

Online courses:
Tiger Wisemen has taken several online writing courses, and the one she recommends is given by Margie Lawson . In particular, she endorses any of the Deep Editing courses.
Ed Ahern produced a great list of courses that can be taken online. They’re run by 28 Pearl Street, in Provincetown MA, which is an offshoot of the Fine Arts Work Center in the same town. The latter run summer courses in various media, including writing. Check out the websites for more information.
James Patterson teaches a Master Class for $90. No one in our group knows if it’s any good, but he certainly seems to know what he’s doing…
Gwen Hernandez teaches Scrivener online. I highly recommend her courses – they’re inexpensive and paced so that you don’t get overwhelmed.
Creative Nonfiction also offers online classes including advanced memoir, magazine writing and introduction to audio storytelling and podcasting.

Jessica Bram of the Westport Writers’ Workshop will be teaching an all-day class on how to use flashbacks and backstory in your non-fiction writing next Saturday, February 27.

Last but not least  – come and read from your work at the Fairfield Public Library on the first Tuesday of the month – March 1st, as it happens. People who do it swear by it.

 

 

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous

It was great seeing both old and new faces last Wednesday at our November Westport Writers’ Rendezvous. We had a record number of attendees (22), and plenty to talk about, with good ideas coming from all directions. Here are some of them:writers-clock

For those of you wrestling with disorganized longer projects, these are the online Scrivener courses taught by Gwen Hernandez, which I’ve taken. Inexpensive but effective. The next one for beginners is in February.

Bernice Rocque recommended Zazzle, an online retailer that allows users to upload images and create their own merchandise, or buy merchandise created by other users, as well as use images from participating companies. Bernice has made note-cards using her own photography, which she uses as marketing/branding tools.

Aninka, like me is a fan of Book Riot. Aninka listens to their podcasts, I read their newsletters. Either way, they have a lot to say. You can subscribe to both here.

Ed Ahern enjoyed the World Fantasy Convention he attended recently, and felt the exposure to writers and publishers was worth the trip to Saratoga Springs. You can check out next year’s convention here.

We talked about ways of self-publishing, including crowdfunding a book via Kickstarter or another entity. There’s a British company called Unbound, which crowdfunds books, giving writing related rewards depending on the level of funding. Worth looking at. And there’s a full article covering this on a website called Winning Edits.

Someone asked about Writer’s Relief. They offer a range of services to help authors get published, from helping to design your website, to finding an agent, to identifying places to submit short stories, etc. You can check out both them, and their fees, here.

Someone else talked about the Kristin Nelson literary Agency based in Colorado. They have a blog called Pub Rants, which specializes in giving suggestions for how to improve your submissions.

There’s also Query Shark, with lots of (pretty ruthless) suggestions for writing query letters

Leslie told us about an article by NYC professor Susan Shapiro pertinent to memoir writing. She talks about writing the humiliation essay and its potential to jumpstart your writing career. Read it here.

Via Janet Luongo, one of our members: How Writers Write Fiction -a free online 8 week program of IOWA Univ. I think it’s offered every year. Pulitzer prize-winners are among the brilliant authors who teach through video; great reading lists, assignments, peer feedback. Worth passing on to writing community. Certificates are offered for $50, which I did earn.

To find places to submit, and succeed with submissions, Ed Ahern swears by Duotrope. And he should know; he gets published all the time.

For those looking for beta readers (people to read your book before you look for an agent and give you honest feedback) a friend of mine recommends Book Hive.

I mentioned an app I find very useful. Evernote can save a snapshot of a web page, allows you to write with your finger to make a note of something (and voice too, I think). I use it for notes, reservations, recipes etc, and it syncs them across all my devices.

Lori Pelikan Strobel is looking for women dog owners to interview. If you’re interested, contact me and I’ll pass on your email.

eChook is looking for submissions of romance and women’s fiction, 35,000-75,000 words long. The submission guidelines can be found here.

Our next meeting is on December 16th. If you’d like to get notifications of upcoming meetings, sign up at Meetup. Look for Westport Writers’ Rendezvous.

 

The Art of the Sequel

Publishers, like film studios and broadcasters, have been trading off literary hits for decades. And 2013 was another bumper year of literary reinvention.

Earlier this month, a writer was hired to pen a fourth instalment to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson’s hit trilogy that has taken the book – and film – worlds by storm.

Larsson died in 2004 while working on a fourth novel. David Lagercrantz has now been commissioned to take on the characters of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomqvist, as Swedish publishers look to cash in on Larsson’s cult creation.

They are not alone.

This year also saw Sebastian Faulks take on Jeeves and Wooster, William Boyd tackle James Bond and Joanna Trollope take on Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, as well as another spin-off of the ever popular classic Pride and Prejudice, in the form of Jo Baker’s Longbourn.

There was also the announcement of a new novel featuring Agatha Christie’s Belgian crimebuster Hercule Poirot, due for publication next year.

You can read the rest of the article here.