Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – May update

We had another great meeting yesterday, with several new members, who contributed their points of view – something we value. And the WritersMic Meetup the night before had 11 enthusiastic readers plus guests. I wasn’t able to be there, but member Sheryl Kayne took over the duties of MC, to general acclaim. Thanks, Sheryl!

I’m going to begin the update with some events that are happening very soon.

Dr Suzanne Hoover, a former master teacher at Sarah Lawrence is giving a class on Endings, (how to end your novel) this Saturday, May 20th, from 2-4pm at the Westport Writers’ Workshop.

Also on May 20th, from 11-12.45, Patrick McCord is offering a FREE introductory class at Write Yourself Free in Westport. He has a specific method that can help you structure your writing to make for a better book. Although their main classes started this week, they may still have room for you to join one if you like the freebie.

One of our members, E.V. Legters, is holding a launch party for her second novel, Vanishing Point, on June 4th at the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio from 4-6pm. Come and support her, and enjoy the festivities, and hanging out with fellow writers and readers.

There are several Meetups around for writers, apart from the two I run:

One is headed by Jan Kardys, who organizes the Unicorn Writers’ Conference, in which you can bring 10 pages to be critiqued. The next meeting is on Saturday, May 20th. Check it out here.

There’s a Children’s Writers and Poetry Critique Group meetup in White Plains

Also for poets, the Monroe Poetry Meetup.

A Meetup for Christian writers: Word Weavers of Southern Fairfield County.

And there’s an Open Mic Night in Norwalk Meetup, which includes performances of all kinds, including reading, I think. But check it out by being part of the audience, if you’re not sure whether it’s the right fit for you.

And speaking of telling stories, Barnes and Noble, our gracious hosts in Westport, will be having a regular storytelling evening each month, the first on June 21st. They’re looking for people with a personal story to tell about strong women who’ve had a personal effect on you, experiences where a woman with power helped or hindered you, etc. Like their Facebook page or call in at the store to get updates about how to tell your story.

The New York Pitch Conference, a 3-day event running from June 22-25 offers a wonderful opportunity of meeting agents who might actually be interested in seeing your work. It’s not cheap – so if you haven’t finished your book and got it publication-ready, it’s probably best to wait a while, according to those in the know.

Later in the year, The Ridgefield Writers’ Conference is a one-day event for writers to be held on Friday, September 22nd.

Enter a contest. This one is the Brighton Prize, which exists to find inventive new writing. It’s open for entries until 30th June, and has two categories: short stories between 1000 and 2000 words, and flash fiction under 350 words. The prize for the winning story: £1000, with two runners up getting: £100 each.

Improve your writing or get yourself over the hump by taking a class this summer. There are many around this area. The Fairfield County Writers’ Studio, the Westport Writers’ Workshop and Write Yourself Free are all running classes. IN Rowayton, CT,

Photo May 18, 3 16 55 PM

Drew Lamm: To Taste Life Twice

Drew Lamm has shorter summer series of her unique writing groups for women: To Taste Life Twice.  I’ve been going for some years, and value the peaceful place where I can write with other women, and get Drew’s reactions to the writing. She praises the good, so that we write more of it. And it works. Check the link above and the photo to the left.

If you can’t get to a live class, there are several online options. One is from Gotham in New York, and they have many to choose from – food writing, travel writing, script writing, video game writing, teen creative non-fiction, humor, romance, sci-fi etc

Creative Nonfiction has summer online classes  give you the chance to experiment with new subjects or forms in a condensed 5-week format. Classes begin June 26, 2017 and include topics like digital storytelling, science writing for general audiences, historical narratives and experimental forms. Enroll by June 2 to get $50 off.

We talked about the importance of editors and a couple of people mentioned Allison Dickens, who is teaching a class called Nailing Your First 20 Pages -an advanced workshop in novel and memoir. It’s a one-week intensive at the Westport Writers’ Workshop, from 10-12, July 24-28. Another recommended freelance copy editor was Stephanie Finnegan.

Member Ed Ahern mentioned that the online journal he reads submissions for, Bewildering Stories, will always critique your submission, whether it’s accepted or not. Sounds like a good way of getting some feedback, and maybe publication. They accept submissions in all genres.

A couple of places are offering a free book of writing advice if you sign onto their mailing list. One is from Autocrit, The Secret Formula to Publishing a Best-selling Novel, and the other is from Penguin books, The Ultimate Guide to Writing Advice.

If you’re a friend of Poets and Writers, they give you the chance to list your latest publication in the nest Friends News. It’s too late for this year – entries closed on May 15th, but it’s worth bearing in mind for next year. Any book-length publication of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction published after December 2015 (so 2016 next year) is eligible to be listed, as are forthcoming titles. Chapbooks, translations, and self-published works may be included.

Last but not least, for those of you writing a memoir, here’s an interesting article from The Creative Penn. Six Points to Consider When Writing a Memoir.

That should keep you going until next month. See you then. And if you have any additional info, corrections etc, just put them in the comments below. Thanks, and Happy Writing!

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – January update

What a great first-of-the-year meeting we had on Wednesday. I think everyone left with ideas for new goals to set and how to get them done. More on that later, but first:

If you have a book you’d like to pitch to an agent, take advantage of the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio’s Pitch Party in Westport on January 28th from 10-12. $25 to pitch, $15 to sit, sip mimosas and see how it’s done… For tips on how to write a query letter, Alex McNab suggests Jane Friedman’s site, and also taking a look at Query Shark, for info on how not to write one.

FCWS is offering a broad selection of classes, in addition to this unique event. Hit the link to find out what they have.

A number of writing classes are also available at various venues in Fairfield County and New York. In the City, Gotham Writers is offering what they describe as a ‘rush of classes’ both in classrooms and online. I’ve tried them and found them very useful when I first began as a way of finding an instant critique group led by an experienced published writer.

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The Westport Writers Workshop has classes starting in Westport, Avon and Ridgefield. Subjects include memoir, fiction, the journey of writing for women, and personal essay.

Kate Mayer, one of our members, published a great blog post on achieving one’s writing goals. her simple method produced great results, so take a look.

The Connecticut Book Awards are back. These awards recognize the best titles of 2016 written by authors who reside in Connecticut. Book award submissions will be accepted starting January 2017 and will close in April 2017. For more information, please visit the Connecticut Center for the Book website.

The Connecticut Press Club is still accepting entries for their Annual Communications Contest. The only criterion for submission is that you must be a Connecticut writer and that the submission should have been published/broadcast/launched etc in 2016. The submitting process is still  more complicated than it should be, but if you’re interested, don’t give up. They’re accepting entries until February 6.  To ensure you’re on their mailing list, email CTPressclub@gmail.com.   The deadline is February 6.

One of our members, Sheryl Kayne, is producing a book for which she’s seeking contributions: Grandmas and Grandpas by Many Other Names.   This is an opportunity to celebrate grandparents. She’s looking for stories and/or photos about your own grandparents or yourself as a grandparent to accompany stories about fictional grandparents including Little Red Riding Hood’s as well as Heidi’s and Willy Wonka’s Grandfathers. She’s accepting contributions through Valentine’s Day and the E-book and softcover will be launched mid-April in time for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Grandparents’ Day. Contributors receive a free E-book.  Contribute here.

Bernice Roque, one of our members, is offering a useful (and free) task managing tool  specifically aimed at writers. If you feel you can’t keep track of things, this might be a good solution for you. Contact her through her website.

Elizabeth Chatsworth, another member, has been having some success with the grammar-checking tool Grammarly. It claims to find mistakes which Spellcheck doesn’t, and there’s a free version which should be worth trying out.

Among writing conferences coming up in our neck of the woods this year are these:

Unicorn Writing Conference Manhattanville College, Westchester March 25

ASJA (American Society of Journalists and Writers) NYC May 5-6

Writers’ Digest Conference, NYC August 18-20

BookBub is a great resource for authors looking to reach new readers for a debut or a series, to boost books up on the best-seller list, and even drive sales for backlisted books. Authors see an average earning increase of almost 200% when their book is chosen as a Featured Deal. GoSpark Press is offering a webinar; How to Maximize BookBub is set for February 2, 2017 at 4 p.m. PST (register here), and will help you figure out how to make Bookbub work for you, if you’re already published. Plus, it’s only $10…

Larry Brooks is a Californian writer with a great website called Storyfix. He coaches writers and now has a new virtual classroom which provides, to quote, “Hardcore Training Videos For Serious Authors”. He’s offering one free training module, one of five currently available. Here’s the link to “Essential Craft for Emerging Novelists,” an 81-minute hardcore craft training experience. Worth a look.

Book Riot, an online site that sends me updates on all sorts of book-related topics, has a post to inspire anyone who’s having trouble writing: a list of books that will help to get you started.

At our monthly meetings we set ourselves a goal to be accomplished by the next meeting, I’ve vowed to submit more work for publication this year, so I’ll be signing up with Duotrope. Now that I’ve said it in writing, I’ll just have to do it!

 

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – December update

First – thanks so much to the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio, who hosted this month’s Rendezvous. Barnes and Noble were simply too full of holiday stuff to have room for us, but we’ll be back there next month. In the meantime, thanks are due to Carol Dannhauser and Tessa McGovern, FCWS founding partners. And we covered a lot of ground, though there’s some additional information in this update which I didn’t get to in the meeting.

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Courtesy Fairfield County Writers’ Studio

First up are the writing classes you need to sign up for now if you want to begin the New Year with a resolution to write more. Fairfield County Writers Studio (see photo left) has a huge variety – check them out here. in addition to classes and workshops, they are having another pitch party on January 28th, with Marilyn Allen, literary agent.

At the Westport Public Library, under the Westport WRITES banner, author and teacher Mary-Lou Weisman will lead a new six-part series for beginning writers, as well as an eight-session series for advanced writers. Introductory Non-Fiction Writing Workshop is on Thursdays, January 12-February 16 from 1:15-2:45 pm.  There’s also an Advanced Non-Fiction Writing Workshop on Thursdays from January 10-April 18. This is an eight-session workshop for those who have had some experience in writing memoir and personal essay. You’ll need to submit some writing beforehand to ensure that you’re experienced enough for this class. Contact the library for more details: mwaterman@westportlibrary.org

Write Yourself Free in Westport is also beginning its new year classes with a series of master classes for mixed genres. Join Patrick McCord Tuesday or Wednesday morning and evening, or Thursday afternoons to get your writing fix. If you’re interested in memoir or screenwriting, you can join specific classes in those genres. Get more info on all their classes here.

A propos of learning new things, one of our members, Alison McBain, attended the one-day workshop on writing for children that I mentioned last month. She’s written a blog post giving an overview of it, so if you want to know what went down, click on the link.

In addition, Alison finished her novel during NaNoWriMo and pitched it via a Twitter event called #pitmad. PitMad stands for Pitch Madness. There’s an excellent article on this one-day event here. Doing this has resulted in several agents asking to see Alison’s novel, which is terrific. You can pitch any genre, so check it out. You’ll need a Twitter account to pitch.

Being British myself, and writing in the British style, I sometimes wonder why people here don’t get exactly what I mean. For any of you writing something with a British character, here’s a very good run-down from Joanna Penn (of The Creative Penn) on how to get the Britishness just right. It might help you understand me, too…

indexThe Connecticut Press Club wants your submissions for the Annual Communications Contest. Last year some people found it hard to submit, but the process has been streamlines for this year. They’ll be sending out a call for entries next week with instructions how to enter your work in the contest. To ensure you’re on their mailing list, email CTPressclub@gmail.com. That way, you’ll get all the information as it happens. There are 64 categories, so if you’ve had work published/broadcast/launched etc during 2016, check the list. The Connecticut early bird deadline is January 17 and the regular deadline is February 6. They’re going to swap judging duties with the Illinois affiliate of the NFPW, which means that they judge Connecticut’s entries and CT judges theirs. Please let the CPC know at the email above if you’re interested being a judge.

I found an interesting article specifically targeted to writers with books they want to promote.  It tells you how to run Facebook Ads that work. If that writer is you, take a look.

Hearst Magazines used to have a collective submission system called the Mix, which allowed you to submit to all their publications simultaneously. Since its demise, it’s been harder to do that. There’s a list of all the Hearst editors in the following blog: How to pitch Hearst magazines now The Mix has gone.

The most popular feature of the annual Unicorn Writers Conference, taking place March 25th , 2017, is the 30-minute One-on-Ones with top NYC agents and editors. For an additional $60 over the basic $325 cost, you get a 30-minute sit-down with the agent or editor of your choice, who will have read 40 pages of your manuscript as well as your two-page summary.  For $150, Unicorn for Writers is offering to help you edit and polish those 40 pages before you submit them to those agents for the conference. You can find out more by emailing unicorn4writers@gmail.com

And finally, here’s the link for BookBub, for people who asked me for it. Pick your preferred genres, and BookBub will send you daily offers on e-books at much reduced prices. They’re books by well-known authors as well as newer writers.

And all that remains is for me to wish all my readers a very happy holiday week (or so). Keep writing!

 

 

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – August update

Welcome to the August update from the Westport Writers’ Rendezvous.

First up, here’s news from the Westport Library and the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio.

The FCWS is working with the Westport Library to create a new program called Westport Writes, designed to guide writers through all stages of writing and publishing. They’ll be offering talks, workshops etc, with the next one taking place this weekend.

You Wrote a Book, Now What? is a 2-hour talk by Jan Kardys. From 10-12pm on Saturday August 20th

Writing Scripts for Television – 6.30-8.30pm, August 25th   

Advanced Writing Classes led by Mary-Lou Weisman begin September 6 1.15-2.45pm. Beginners’ fiction and non-fiction classes are available, too.

A two-part introduction to Scrivener writing software with Chris Friden, on September 26 and 28, from 6.30-8.30pm.

This is just a selection. Check out the complete list of writing events here. All these events are at the library and require registration.

The Connecticut Chapter of the Romance Writers of America is holding its annual Fiction Fest in Norwalk from September 9-11. The conference is open to any writer, and there’s the possibility of having an agent or editor look at your work and give you feedback. Registration closes on August 25th. $209.

A propos of ‘You Wrote a Book…, Jan Kardys is offering a one-day conference in Groton on September 10th, with Marilyn Allen (agent) Sal Gilbertie (herbalist and non-fiction writer) and Katie Henderson, who will tell you about social media marketing, among others.

Alex McNab recommends the ‘away days’ offered by FCWS, where you can spend the day just writing without distractions, and without the internet, if you’re strong enough not to ask for the Wi-Fi password. This how he got to the end of a major edit on his novel.

His latest blog post for the Fairfield Writers is up now. It’s an interview with Betsy Lerner, agent, editor and author of The Bridge Ladies, a memoir, but also of The Forest for the Trees, a book about editing.

Aalicelex also found a good article about hiring a professional editor. You can read it here. And he recommends these two new books on writing:

The Accidental Life: An Editor’s Notes on Writing and Writers by Terry McDonell (Knopf, $26.95) and The Kite and the String: How to Write with Spontaneity and Control—and Live to Tell the Tale by Alice Mattison (Viking, $25)

The Mark Twain House in Hartford is hosting its annual Writers’ Weekend from September 23-25th. It’s a conference that covers many genres and offers more than 30 different workshops. Registration is $180, and you can write in Mark Twain’s Library on Saturday or Sunday morning for an additional $30.

Don’t forget to come and read at the Fairfield Public Library if you can. Writers Read open mic is on September 6,  at 7pm. The Writers’ Salon , a discussion group, is on  September 9, at 4pm (a week later than usual, to avoid conflicts on the Labor Day weekend).

Norwalk Public Library is running several literary/writing events, too. Their next author visit if by Anne Korkeaviki, author of Shining Sea, who will be talking about her most recent novel at 12pm on August 22nd.

Norwalk is also where Leslie Kerr (their author-in-residence) runs the Norwalk Writers’ Guild, which meets every 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month from 5.30-7pm. For those members of the Writers’ Rendezvous who were looking for an evening group, this might offer an opportunity. One session each month is dedicated to discussion of the writing process, then writers can post their work online for critiquing before the second meeting. And the Guild is planning an annual conference next year, too.

Sheryl Kayne is organizing a contest on her website for people interested in Volunteer travel. Details here.

Places to submit: Glimmer Train very short fiction (300-3,000 word) and fiction open (3000-20,000 words) is offering cash prizes for the first three winners in both categories, and even if not a winner, will pay you $700 if they publish your story. Deadline 8/30/16.

Dogwood, Fairfield U’s literary magazine is also looking for submissions in fiction, non-fiction and poetry – deadline: September 5, 2016.

And there you have it. I think there’s enough stuff here to keep you going until next month… As ever – if I’ve made any mistakes, please let me know or correct them in the comments. Thanks!

 

 

 

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – April update

First, a big thank you to the 20 or so people who showed up for the Westport Writers’ Rendezvous today. It turned out to be an interesting meeting, as always. Here are some of the highlights:

The current (May/June) issue of Poets and Writers has a section on writing contests, and they offer a free submissions tracker if you enter huge any of the contests. They’re also offering 25% off advertising rates if you advertise your book in the July/August issue. I only mention this, because I’d forgotten all about print advertising as a way of promoting a book…

Aninka has been going to a class with Tessa McGovern at the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio – Writing Your Novel to Prompts. She highly recommends it, since she’s getting help with the plot structure of her ongoing project, as well as getting back to her desk with new scenes to use in the novel.

Writing-Group

Penny Pearlman recommends an online editing tool you can find at ProWriting Aid.  You can try it for free, and it’s very interesting. Apparently my writing (or the bit they analyzed) was cliché free, but what they picked up on was my English way of expressing myself. It actually gives specifics, not just general observations.

As a corollary (and in order to blame someone else for my writing style), I turned to a website called I Write Like This site analyzes a passage of your work, and tells you whom you most resemble. Apparently I write like Cory Doctorow OR James Joyce. (I tried it twice because I wasn’t sure about the result.) So, Cory Doctorow is a Canadian-British writer, and James Joyce is, you know, James Joyce. It’s a flattering comparison, but I sincerely hope my writing is more comprehensible than Joyce’s. Neither of them is American, which I guess is what the analysis picked up on. Give it a shot here.

Jacque Masumian has just launched her website , and she did it herself using Weebly, which she found easy to use. The results are impressive – check Weebly out here.

Tricia Tierney, our Barnes and Noble angel (she lets us meet there) told us about an upcoming book signing by Betsy Lerner, author of The Bridge Ladies, and also a literary agent. It’s on May 14, at 3pm. If you come to hear her read and speak, don’t bring your manuscript – it might even get you blacklisted (I exaggerate, but you get it…). But she’s an interesting writer and has written several books, among them a book on the writing craft – The Forest for the Trees.

Another bookish event is Connecticut Authors Reading Series 3, hosted by Sophronia Scott at the Cyrenius Booth Library in Newtown, CT on May 1st at 2pm. Free, and refreshments provided, so a really refreshing afternoon all round.

BTW, Sophronia and her son are featured in the Tribeca Film Festival success, Midsummer in Newtown – a great documentary with a lot of heart. Keep an eye out for it.

Byrd’s Books in Bethel hold a twice-monthly writing workshop hosted by Judith Marks-White. It runs on the first and third Sunday of the month at 3pm. Cost $20.

Upcoming events at the Fairfield County Writers’ Workshop include How to Get Published on April 30th, at 10am with Cynthia Manson (agent) and Caitlin Alexander (editor). More information here.

The same day, The Westport Writers’ Workshop has a session with Suzanne Hoover from 2-4 in the afternoon: Essentials for the Fiction Writer. And they are hosting an Open House on Monday, April 25th from 5.30-7.30pm. It’s a good way to find out what they have to offer.

We had recommendations form several members for books helpful to writers:

Mary Carroll Moore: Your Book Starts Here

Blake Snyder: Save the Cat (screenwriting)

John Truby: The Anatomy of Story

Finally – the deadline for submitting to Glimmer Train’s Fiction contest is April 30th.  There are two categories: Very Short Fiction (under 3000 words) and Fiction Open, bit with cash prizes. Every entry will be considered for publication and if chose, will be paid $700. Winners announced July 1st.

Enjoy the Spring, but don’t forget to write on…

 

 

 

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – January Update

We had another wonderful get-together on Wednesday – thanks so much to all of you who came and contributed so much to help your fellow-writers.

One of the first things we talked about was the Connecticut Press Club Awards contest. One has to apply via the NFPW, the National Federation of Pen Women (men allowed), and their website is clunky. But once you’ve registered, and realize that you have to fill in all the separate tabs and save them for each entry, it gets better. I talked to Michele Turk (President of the CPC) about this, and she told me that it would make her job a lot simpler when submitting the CT winners to the National contest. You can submit in any of 64 categories here: http://www.nfpw.org/communicationsContest.php

If you have a novella waiting in the wings (Max 20,000 words) you should submit it to The Malahat Review (Canada). The prize is $1500 (Canadian, but still). Deadline Feb 1. http://www.malahatreview.ca/contests/contests_info.html

May-Lou Weisman is starting her Introductory Non-fiction Writing Workshop at the Westport Library on Feb 4 for six sessions.

We talked about Duotrope – a real time-saver for those of use looking to submit our work somewhere. It lists all the available publications and you can filter them by genre, submission dates, likelihood of publication (easier to most difficult to be get in).

For children’s book writers among us, here is Gail Gaulthier’s Calendar of Children’s book author events, which includes author appearances, workshops, conferences etc. Here’s the calendar I mentioned this morning: http://blog.gailgauthier.com/search/label/CCLC-Connecticut%20Children’s%20Lit%20Calendar This link looks weird, so if it doesn’t work go to Gail Gauthier‘s blog and look on the left for the calendar. One of these is the Big Sur Conference Cape Cod, which takes place in May this year.

Gwen Hernandez, Scrivener maven extraordinaire, is beginning a new season of classes at the end of the month. Fantastic value at $25, they break the learning process down into very manageable daily chunks. Great as a refresher, or for beginners.

Jane Friedman and Joanna Penn have blogs of particular interest to those of us interested in publishing, self-publishing and book marketing. Here’s a link a post in which Joanna interviews Jane about the latest in publishing. Even if you think you’re not ready to publish yet, there’s a lot of interesting food for thought. They talk about the rise in mobile publishing – people reading on their phones or tablets– which will affect the way bookstores sell books. And they talk about alternatives to Amazon for self-publishing. http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2016/01/18/publishing-trends-jane-friedman/

Sandra Beckwith, of Build Book Buzz, a book marketer in Long Island, has a free webinar series on web marketing you can sign up for, beginning very soon. Check it out here.

A number of or authors use video book trailers to promote their books, a tool that seems to be on the rise. E.J. Simon has three books with trailers out, and Leslie Chess Feller has had several videos made of the poems in her book, Monster in My Lunchbox. She used Rozanne Gates to make them. Please contact me or her if you’d like to connect with Rozanne, who’s in Westport, CT. And here’s an article about the importance of book trailers for self-published authors.

Larry Brooks at Storyfix.com is running a free 10-part crash course on Story, which is his specialty. He has a way of looking at a plot and finding the holes or excesses in it, which is very clear and easy to apply to your own work. You can sign up for a series of emails which explain it all.

Hope you find this useful!

 

More stuff for CT writers, via Carol Dannhauser

Carol Dannhauser, founder of the Fairfield Writers’ Workshop and mother hen to many budding authors and writing teachers, was my first writing coach. But please don’t hold it against her. She did her best to make my writing better, and so if you don’t find my writing all that great, the mistakes, as they say, are all mine. She has a great sense of humor and a way of kindly pushing people to do their best, even if they’re not sure what that is. She forced me to submit – to literary journals and the like – for which I will be ever grateful (BTW: This is an unsolicited testimonial.)

birdcraftShe sends out an irregular newsletter, which always has a great deal of useful information for local writers. Her latest one is no exception, and she’s kindly let me reprint it here. It includes local events, suggestions for where to submit, and writing contests. Plus some info on my classmate Randi Oster (memoir finished thanks to carol) and some modest information about the current workshops – starting February 21 at the lovely Victorian Birdcraft Museum in Fairfield CT.

Here it is:

Talk about an inspiring story. No, not his novels (sorry), but his personal story. Rejected by law schools and publishers, Nicholas Sparks spent days selling pharmaceuticals and nights writing novels. His third book (The Notebook, ever hear of that one?) was sitting in a slush pile when it, er, sparked an agent’s interest. The rest, as they say, is history. Almost 80 million books later, Sparks has a lot to say about his own story. You can hear it in person this Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m. at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield. $20. Info here: http://www.edgertoncenter.org/lecture_series.php

Then, check out Abi Maxwell at R.J. Julia in Madison on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. (Info here http://www.rjjulia.com/event/debut-author-month-abi-maxwell-lake-people) Maxwell’s haunting debut novel Lake People has been released to critical acclaim. We love to hear the wisdom first-time authors impart about their experience with the publishing process. Ever illuminating!
To all you writers of children’s books: It’s Tassy time!! The Tassy Walden Awards celebrate and encourage the writing and illustrating of books for children by unpublished Connecticut residents. They award cold hard cash to a winner in five categories: “Picture Book (text only), Illustrated Picture Book (art and text), Children’s Book Illustrator Portfolio, Middle Grade Novel, and Young Adult/Teen Novel.” Go here http://www.shorelinearts.org/tassywalden.cfm to learn the details. But do it quickly! Submissions due April 1, 2013.
Still haven’t worked out the kinks in your children’s book? Why not connect with our favorite children’s book author, Victoria Sherrow, who can set you straight. She runs great classes and works privately with clients. Send her a note here VSherrow@aol.com.
   
Speaking of our favorite writing teachers, we can’t say enough about Sonya Huber, the new creative non-fiction writing assistant professor at Fairfield University. Sonya has thrown open the doors to academia at the university and has rolled out the red carpet to Fairfield writers of all ages. If you haven’t checked out the Fairfield Creative Writing Group, now is a great time to give it a look. (Info here: https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en&fromgroups#!forum/fairfieldcw) Sonya writes “Please feel free to post local literary news, events, and calls for entry.” Send her questions or fan mail at shuber@fairfield.edu or drop by and say hello to Sonya at her reading at the Fairfield Bookstore on Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. Sonya will be reading from her book “Opa Nobody, which she calls “a hybrid of memoir, research, and imagined scenes based on research, all put together in an attempt to summon my German anti-Nazi socialist grandfather from the dead.” The book was just released in paperback.
While we’re on the subject of actual books made of actual paper, if you still buy these (I do, I do!) be sure to drop by Barnes & Noble in Westport next Wednesday, Feb. 13, for an all-day, in-store fundraiser benefiting the Fairfield public library. (There’s only one thing we love more than a bookstore: the Fairfield public library!) Twenty percent of the cost of every single item you buy at B&N on 2/13/13 goes to the library. Yes, that means lattes, DVDs, toys and – oh yeah – books too. But you must tell the cashier or the $$ goes straight to Mr. and Mrs. Barnes and Noble. Afraid your car will still be snowed in by then? You can shop online at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/, click the box that indicates you’re shopping for a book fair, then type in the Fairfield Library Book Fair number 11013935. (They’re also hosting Pitchapalooza that evening. See my recent blog for details. GC)
Submit Already
Wondering where to send your finished piece that doesn’t seem to fit anywhere? Have you checked out Cleaver Magazine? It’s a new online quarterly and publishes everything from poetry, literary prose, dramatic writing, non-fiction, flash and more. They’re accepting submissions now. “We are open to work by emerging and established writers.” Submissions guidelines are here: www.cleavermagazine.com/submissions.
Mason’s Road, the online literary journal of Fairfield U.’s MFA in creative writing, is looking for work for its seventh issue. They’re exploring point of view. “We are looking for unique 
and arresting takes on this topic.”

Info at www.masonsroad.com/submissions Visit www.masonsroad.com to check out the current 
issue.
Our new favorite place to submit poetry is Beloit Poetry Journal. (Info here: http://www.bpj.org/bpj_about_submit.html) There’s no absurd “reading fee,” the editors get back to you quickly and the poetry is great. The journal has been publishing for more than 50 years and its issues are archived online. Very inspiring reading for a snowy day.
We spent lots of time in our winter workshops recently writing about place. Here’s a (way too long and rambling) blog post about place from author David Hood that contains some excellent insights. Check it out if your car’s still snowed in. Says Hood, “In recreating the scene or experience, the writer views place as a character in the story. Similar to developing a character, the place needs to be developed. The writer can use personification to develop the place. It can become nurturing, menacing, foreboding…) http://davehood59.wordpress.com/2010/03/17/how-to-write-creative-nonfiction-writing-about-place/
Contest Time
As many of you know, I do love the ultra-short competition hosted by The Binnacle at the University of Maine. They don’t charge a reading fee; you can put together an entry in a jiffy (but revise, revise, revise!); if you win they give you cold hard cash; and if you’re one of the 50 or so honorable mentions they send you the most adorable “book” imaginable, a beautiful box filled with stories on cards, complete with extra cards of your piece. The clock is ticking on this contest. Entries due Feb. 15. Info here: http://machias.edu/ultra-short-competition.html
You wrote your book!! Your work is done, right? Ugh, if only. Just ask our own Randi Oster, who finished a terrific memoir and is now shopping it to publishers and agents. If you’re in a similar spot, or if you need a bit of help in the agent department, check out what Chuck Sambuchino, over at Writers Digest, has to say about the subject. Chuck writes a host of helpful columns, including this one, http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/agent-advice-agent-interviews, on how to land an agent. It’s a one-stop shop for advice and insight into finding the right partner for your work.
And if you’re looking to fine-tune your work, strengthen your voice on the page, tell a new story or get your arms around your words, check out our workshops! Memoir workshops, writing-to-prompts and traditional writers’ workshops across genres all start Feb. 21 in beautiful downtown Fairfield. They’re inspiring, insightful, economically priced and fun! Feel free to email Carol at Dannhauser@aol.com if you’d like to be a part of these great groups.

All the best,

Life sucks. Then it goes on. Six-word memoirs

Or alternatively: My constant cheeriness drives people nuts. Two terrible examples of a six-word memoir.

 

 

I don’t know if you know Smith Magazine? I may have mentioned them before. They’re a class act, (published by TED Books, a division of the TED Conference), and they invented the six-word memoir, and to date they’ve published seven volumes of them. It’s not as easy as you might think to come up with a really good six word memoir, but you can see some of the winning ones here.

Now they’ve raised the bar slightly, or maybe quite a bit, depending on how talented you are. For their next book, they’re looking for illustrations to go with the memoir, and they have to be done by the author, and – the author has to be a student – of any age. The book will be entitled: Things Don’t Have to be Complicated: The Art of Six-Word Memoirs by Students of the World.

Here are some of the current entries. Try not to get discouraged…they’re good.

You can read the submission guidelines here, and they’re taking submissions through October 15th.

Surely you can do better than I did here?

Still time to submit an audio story

I had this email from the Missouri Review yesterday. If you’ve been putting off entering – now’s your chance.

We wanted to let you know that The Missouri Review has decided to extend the deadline of our 2012 Audio Competition by an additional week. The new online submission system and our pay-by-donation entry fee caused some confusion early on, and we would like to give all entrants a chance to adjust to those changes. Entries must now be postmarked or emailed to us no later than Thursday, March 22nd.

The Audio Competition offers prizes of $1,000 in each of three categories: poetry, prose, and audio documentary. It’s easy to enter! All you need to record your work is a microphone, a computer, and free recording software, such as Audacity or GarageBand. Entries and payments can be submitted online.

All entrants receive a one-year, digital subscription to The Missouri Review. For full guidelines, please visit our website: http://www.missourireview.com/audiovisual/submissions/

Love Connecticut? Enter a 250 word story

The Connecticut Office of Tourism is running a very egalitarian story contest. It’s egalitarian (I hope) because members of the public vote for their favorite story, rather than a panel of judges. This probably means that a story will be judged more on how it resonates with a reader than how well it’s written. Interesting.

The details of the contest make it simple, and free, to enter. The limit is 250 words, which ensures you can enter two or three pieces without much trouble. They’re asking for a photo or video to accompany the writing, but it needn’t have too much to do with the story, judging by the entries so far.  If you’ve been hesitating to submit your work, this is your chance to do so, and be guaranteed some exposure online. Even if only your family votes for you, you’ll still be on your way. Voting will begin on February 23, 2012 and end on May 25, 2012, so you’ve time to come up with something great.

Here are the basic details:

“What is Your Connecticut Story” Contest

  • Each Story must address the theme “Tell us where your passion lies.” We want to hear about the   Connecticut people, places and experiences you love most
  • Each Story must written in the English language and be 250 words or less.
  • Each entry must include an Essay and a Photo and/or Video.
  • Each entry must include first and last name, Zip code, and email address.

There will be one Grand Prize winner and three First Prize winners. The Grand Prize Winner will receive a $1,000 gift card.  There will be three First Prize packages:

1) Connecticut Arts Pack which includes: a) two tickets to the winner’s choice of the Palace Theatre, Waterbury 2012-2013 Season, b) two (2) tickets to the Stamford Center for the Arts, c) two tickets to a performance of Carousel at the Goodspeed Opera House, and d) two passes to the Connecticut Art Trail; worth about $350,

2) Uniquely Connecticut Gourmet Pack includes: a) $100 Stew Leonard’s gift certificate and a Stew’s Choice basket; worth roughly $250

3) Proud Connecticut Home Pack which includes a gift set of Stanley Black & Decker tools, worth $160.

The Grand Prize and First Prize winners will be notified on or about June 1, 2012.

I’ve abridged the rules to make them a bit more digestible, so please check the full rules etc here.