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

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – March update – Part 1

There’s so much going on that I’ve split the latest update into two again. More to follow next week. I’m delighted to report that several of our members have been contest winners recently. Connecticut Press Club Awards went to Kate … Continue reading

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 – September update

Not sure why September always has that “let’s get back to work” feeling about it, but as if to encourage people to do just that, the events and opportunities for writers keep multiplying. We had eighteen people at Wednesday’s meeting, which provided lots to talk about. IN the interests of space – I’ll start with the upcoming events:

On Monday, September 24, from 6-7:30pm, the SoNo Branch Library will kick-off its Local Children’s’ author series with a book signing with member Kristen Ball, author of A Calf Named Brian Higgins. The event will honor the importance of access to fresh water globally with Millennium Promise.

I’ve just signed up for Wine and Write-in, a series of Tuesday evening writing opportunities at the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio, starting September 25. Led by the inimitable Stephanie Lehman, I’m hoping to work on my next project, a romantic comedy. I understand prompts will be available and all genres welcome. This is just one of many fall classes being offered.

8149356434_5d7396f061_bIf you need an inspiring place to write, but can’t get away on a writer’s retreat, how about three hours of writing in Mark Twain’s Library, for $75? You can do just that this Thursday, September 27, 2018 from 6-9 pm at the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, CT. Space is limited to fourteen writers, and you can reserve your spot here.

And it seems the Mark Twain House is on a roll. They’re running their two-day Writers Weekend on September 29 -30. Events include writing workshops, panel discussions, author talks, book signings, and if you don’t have time to attend the whole weekend, one-day tickets are available. Click here for a full list of presenters and session topics. Keynote speakers include Gary Shteyngart and Jodi Picoult.

cover-medFlash fiction is all the crack, and it’s a gateway to getting published. The Masters Review is running a contest dedicated solely to flash twice a year.  The winning writer will be awarded $3000 and publication on The Masters Review site.  Deadline September 30.

And if you’re not sure how to write very short, Authors Publish Magazine is offering a free book to help you. The Quick-Start Guide to Flash Fiction. is a guide to writing and publishing flash fiction –– Stories 1,000 words or less. The book gives you 60 writing prompts, plus 60 publishers accepting submissions. Download it here:

The book you’ve all been waiting for, When to Now, launches October 1.You want it because it features stories by several members, including Alison McBain, who edited it, Ed Ahern, Elizabeth Chatsworth,  and yours truly. The pre-order page is live on Amazon for the eBook. And right now, it’s only $2.99 for the Kindle version, so you can afford to buy it!

The Westport Library’s creative non-fiction writing workshops begin on October 2 (introductory) and October 4 (advanced). They’re taught by Mary Lou Weisman, author of Playing House in Provence. Register here.

On October 4 at 6pm, former Poet Laureate Billy Collins will be reading from his work in West Hartford. Seating is first-come, first-served. Details here.

The Saugatuck StoryFest is the first annual literary festival organized in Westport, CT, this October 12-14. There’s something for everyone here. More than thirty writers of note have signed up to come, in many genres, including graphic novels and children’s literature, as well as memoir and all kinds of genre fiction. This is a great way to meet them face-to-face. There’s a list of authors and events on this website , and new info is added daily. Almost everything is free. And A Bradbury Evening, a celebration of Ray Bradbury with his biographer, Sam Weller and a live performance of one of his radio plays, is only $10. Don’t miss any of it!

SAVE THESE DATES

Plan to attend the latest Connecticut Authors Reading Series on Sunday, October 21, at 2pm at the Cyrenius H. Booth Library in Newtown. Among the featured authors are Georgia Hunter, Betsy Lerner, Marilyn Simon Rothstein, and Tom Seigel.

The Fairfield Library will be offering a Writers’ conference on November 3. Details to follow.

And on November 8, member Alex McNab will be interviewing author Eric Burns about his first novel after decades of non-fiction books. Details here.

Once you’ve published a short story or a poem, most literary journals aren’t interested in publishing it again. Still, the more a poem or short story is published, the more exposure it gets.and there are publications who accept reprints. Courtesy of Authors Publish.

See you next month. Keep writing!

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 – June update

Another great group of people showed up at Barnes & Noble in Westport today, and we had a good time, encouraging each other, and generally making the writing happen. Several people had things published, some rather unexpectedly. Kathryn Mayer had a piece she’d forgotten about published here, and if you have something to brag about, add it to the comments, so people can find it!

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WWR member Robert Steven Williams (author of My Year As a Clown) is one of the two creators of the film: Gatsby in Connecticut: The Untold Story, which will be shown on Thurs. June 21, 7pm at the Pequot Library in Southport. The filmmakers in this 2018 documentary argue Continue reading

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – March update – Part 2

As I was saying…there was lots to talk about on Wednesday, so here’s part 2 of the update. Part 1 had the info for contests and submissions with deadlines coming up soon. This one starts with May deadlines…

ASJA – the American Society of Journalists and Authors has it’s conference scheduled for May 18-19 at the Sheraton Times Square. Conferences like this are not always so easily accessible, so it’s worth a look.

Creative NonFiction, the print and online journal, is looking for submissions on the topic of Home by May 21. They’re looking for true stories about finding a place in the world to call your own. Their next topic is Let’s Talk About Sex , with submissions due July 16. They want true stories about doing it—whether you’re straight, gay, or other; alone, in a couple, or in a crowd; doing it for the first time or the last, or not doing it at all. They’re offering $1,000 Continue reading

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.