Corona Karma

I don’t often have time to write additional posts between Rendezvous updates.  And I know that some writers are finding it hard to write right now, even though they have the ‘leisure’ to do so. These are strange times, so I began to think about how life would be in the writing/publishing world after this is over.

It struck me that there are a number of things we can do to make sure that this business of ours survives and does well. And if you have any additional ideas, let me know in the comments 🙂

If your book launch has been canceled, think about ways of having one online. People may have more time to attend and be entertained, and if they like you and your book, they’ll buy! Facebook Live seems like an easy place to start. (Note: If you’re published by a traditional publisher, make sure you have permission to read your book aloud online. s. It shouldn’t be a problem, but better safe than sorry.)

gcimOr you could video yourself reading from the first chapter, and post it with an offer of a special eBook price, to encourage people to buy. If you can add Continue reading

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous: March update

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)Zoom picture

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.

The Westport Writers Workshop is offering all its courses via Zoom. Those of you who have tried it already will know how simple it is Continue reading

Writers’ Rendezvous: February update

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 Monologues tomorrow 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.

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Westport Writers Workshop is offering a series of write-ins Continue reading

Writers’ Rendezvous: January update – Part 2

Welcome back! Here’s the second list of events and suggestions this month. And check out the Writers’ Calendar for more.

41zJFP9zbwL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_On February 12, from 7-9pm and just in time for Valentine’s Day, Tracy Strauss, author of the new book I Just Haven’t Met You Yet, and Gina BarrecaHartford Courant columnist and UCONN Distinguished Professor of English, will discuss Writing About Love: How to Find It, How to Lose It, and Whether You Want to Bother With It At All. Tickets: $20. Copies of Tracy Strauss’ book, will be available for purchase and signing.

Norwalk Public Library is offering a free eight-week writing workshop with Kim Kovach beginning Monday, March 23 from 10:30-12pm. New and experienced writers are welcome to explore writing Flash Fiction (1,000 words) and Micro Fiction (300 words). Weekly homework assignments encourage participants to dive into writing. Registration required.

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Sonya Huber

Another program in the WestportWRITES series is Pain as Metaphor: Writing on Disability and Illness. The workshop with Sonya Huber takes place on Sunday, March 22 from 2-4pm and will delve into the generative and restorative power of metaphor, as used in her book, Pain Woman Takes Your Keys and Other Essays from a Nervous System, to portray and explore the experience of chronic pain in a healing way.

Join Danbury book designer, artist and poet, Shelley Lowell, and Greenwich TV researcher and genealogy teacher, Janeen Bjork at the Danbury Library on March 28, from 10:30-2pm for a presentation on how to write a history of your family. Contact kmostacero@danburylibrary.org for more information.

Connecticut Center for the Book is now accepting submissions for the 2020 Connecticut circle-ctbook-01Book Awards. These awards recognize the best books by authors and illustrators from Connecticut or books about Connecticut. Categories include: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Books for Young Readers broken into three subcategories: Picture Books, Fiction, and Nonfiction.  The final deadline for all categories is April 17 and entry fees start at $40.00. Click here for submission guidelines.

CLA-LogoIn conjunction with the 2020 Connecticut Literary Festival,  which is to take place on October 10, 2020, the Central Connecticut State English Department is planning to publish a literary anthology of Connecticut writers. They’re looking for previously unpublished work in the categories of fiction, creative non-fiction, (2,500 words max) and/or up to two poems. For details and how to submit, click here. Submissions deadline: March 31.

Those looking for critique groups or partners might be interested in a new website called critique match. CritiqueMatch is an online platform that connects writers, published authors, and beta readers to exchange feedback and gain skills. While the service is in beta (trial) mode the service is free and might be worth trying.

The 50 best online critique groups include ones that critique query letters, ones for people who only have 10 minutes a day to write and critiques of your first 13 lines, to make sure you’ve hooked the reader.

Here’s an article on the best writing software with reviews by Dave Chesson at Kindlepreneur, a writing and marketing guru.

BookBaby, a website that offers all the services necessary for self-publishing, is offering a free book: Five Steps to Self-Publishing.

And here’s another on how one author did her own marketing in order to get onto the USA Today bestseller list.

 

 

Writers Rendezvous: January update – Part 1

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.

on-publishing-collageStarting 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 KellerClass size is limited to 10.  $15.

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Allison Dickens

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.

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Libby Waterford

Westport Writers Workshop is offering a panel on publishing: Traditional Publishing, Self-publishing, and Everything in Between: What’s Right For You? at the Westport Country Playhouse on Saturday, February 1, from 2-4pm. The panel will feature local writers Allison Dickens, Jessica Speart, Libby Waterford, & Heather Frimmer. $25

If you were published in 2019 and live in Connecticut, don’t forget to submit to The Connecticut Press Club’s annual 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 ctpressclub@gmail.comif 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. 41zbrxnNkjLOr $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!

 

Writers’ Rendezvous: December update

Only three courageous souls braved the icy weather to read their work at the WritersMic this month, but today’s Rendezvous had 14 attendees. Yay! It was held at the Fairfield County Story Lab, where we were hosted by the owner, Carol Dannhauser. Members admired the shared writing spaces available,  as we sat around drinking coffee and eating festive cakes and cookies. A person could get used to this! Here’s some of what we discussed:

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Photo: Catherine Sebastian

Join extraordinary memoirist Joyce Maynard at the  Fairfield County Writers’ Studio for a one-day Master Class on personal storytelling on Tuesday, January 7, from 10-2:30 pm. ($125) /10-4 pm. ($175). The numbers are limited to 20, and you should register immediately if you’re interested, since places are going fast. Writers who wish to attend must submit, in advance of the class, the first 750 words of a work of first-person Continue reading

Author interview: Zeb Appel

zebLike other members of the Westport Writers Rendezvous with publishing news, Zeb Appel shared that her debut novel, Good Luck and a Benevolent God, was published this summer by DartFrog Books  not just in the US, but around the world. The book is about the colorful life and death of Mandy Flanagan, an Irish girl from the South End of Boston who elopes to New York in the twenties, how she navigates a good part of the twentieth century, and finally retires to the suburbs of Wallingford, CT. It has a great review from Kirkus, including this quote: “Appel writes in the natural prose of a raconteur, rising occasionally to the level of lyricism when praising her heroine.” I enjoyed the book too, and the way it demonstrated how stories and people intersect in their lives—what keeps them together and forces them apart. It’s a great book club book, with plenty to discuss.

I’ve followed some of Zeb’s progress via our meetings, but I wanted to know more.

GC: How did your experience as a playwright help or hinder you in writing a novel? Do you think it influenced your prose style?

ZA: Actually, my creative writing life began as a student writing poetry and short stories. These were published in literary magazines and university publications. About ten years ago I started writing plays, short and full-length, comedies and dramas. I took a class at the Hartford Stage, joined organizations and went to shows. This was fun. I learned about dialog and performance, the delivery of words, what sounded natural and what fit that particular character. This works in fiction, too. I always read my work aloud no matter what form it takes.

appelGC: What was the impetus for writing a novel at all? Just to try something different? To write about this particular character?

ZA: I am just a storyteller who writes in different forms. For me, poetry is an intimate experience while plays are public and must engage an audience. “Good Luck and a Benevolent God” originated a while ago in a workshop led by the New Haven writer Alice Mattison. Back then, it was a handful of (humorous) linked short stories about an eccentric family. Alice called it a ‘baby’ novel. Even though it ‘grew up’ to be the full portrait of a woman’s life, it still retains that ‘linked short story’ flavor about key characters and their adventures. This device (emphasizing character over plot) labeled it literary rather than commercial.

GC: Can you tell us something about your journey from first idea to publication?

ZA: Well, I don’t outline but will draw a relationship chart with major events to ‘see’ that it works logically. Initially I just write about something seen or heard that I want (need) to shape into a poem, a story or a play. My reader-friends critique and I use outside (paid) editors. But I’m fussy. I can always find fault with my work and will endlessly revise and mush the words around unless someone takes it away from me.

At present, I don’t have a literary agent (that may change). I find querying tiresome and the process to place a book with a major house too slow. A friend referred me to DartFrog Books. They liked the book and agreed to publish in less than a year and pay royalties like a traditional press. (They have since changed their business model.) They edited and formatted the content, and also designed a dandy cover. Plus, I enjoyed a book release signing and giveaway at BookCon in NYC.

GC: Mandy is considered eccentric, partly because she’s ahead of her time. To me she seems admirably independent. Is she based on anyone in particular?

ZA: My nana played slide piano on an old upright in her little house and a crowd sang along. I come from a family of four girls and we are a headstrong ornery bunch with our own sense of timing. Like most Americans, our family history is colorful. Of course I am part Irish so I enjoy a good story, music and beverages, like Mandy.

GC: You cover sixty years of New England life. How did you research the historical settings?

ZA: It was fun. The best background came from an estate. But I wasn’t writing a historic novel, so whole chapters about events like WWII had to be removed from the final version because it was too long.

GC: And finally, what’s next?

ZA: The final draft of my suspense novel, “The Median” is almost done. It’s about a woman’s breakdown, a truck driver and the startling event that changes their lives.

You can connect with Zeb on her website and at zebwrites@gmail.com, and via Facebook, and Goodreads.

Westport Writers Rendezvous: August update – Part 2

Happy you rejoined me. 🙂 And, as you will see if you read far enough, this is all about me.

The Brooklyn Book Festival will be held from September 16-23 in a variety of venues around Brooklyn (of course). It’s one of America’s premier book festivals and the largest free literary event in New York City. Presenting almost 200 national and international literary stars and emerging authors, the Festival includes a week of Bookend Events throughout New York City, a lively Children’s Day and a celebratory Festival Day with more than 300 authors plus 250 booksellers filling a vibrant outdoor Literary Marketplace (September 22).

The Westport Writers Workshop is signing people up for one-day Saturday workshops beginning in September. Among them are: Honing Your Pitch  with Allison Dickens,  (September 14), Facebook For Writers w/ Jessica Grunenberg  (September 21), Twitter For Writers, also with Jessica Grunenburg, Learn to Outline (How to Write a Novel & Not Lose Your Mind) with Jessica Speart on October 5, Revise and Love It with Marie Cordell (October 12). Each costs $75, and runs from 10-noon or 10-1pm.

SFestThe Saugatuck StoryFest runs from September 26-28 and kicks off with Beyond Earth: The Stories and Science of Space Continue reading

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: July update

We had a great meeting on Wednesday, with lots of ideas for writers on how and where to submit, editing techniques, and congratulations to members recently or about-to-be published.  To keep this month’s update down to one post, I’m forging ahead.

On every third Thursday of the month, The Darien Library hosts a free Writer’s Workshop for writers of any genre and level of writing ability. Next meeting: Thursday, July 18, from 7-8:30 pm. They critique up to ten pages of written work in a friendly, constructive atmosphere. The meeting is directed by Laura Cavers, MFA. If you’re interested in joining the Writer’s Workshop for the first time, email Laura to get started.

41hnNV7tBgL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_On Sunday, July 21 / 2:00pm – 3:00pm The Storytellers Cottage is hosting a chat with a published author about the secrets to becoming a successfully published writer. July’s Featured Author: Penny Goetjen author of The Empty Chair, Murder on the Precipice, and  Murder Beyond the Precipice. National award-winner Goetjen writes murder mysteries where the milieu plays as prominent a role as the engaging characters.

Pequot book sale Pequot Library’s 59th Annual Summer Book Sale takes place from Friday, July 26 – Monday, July 29, from 9-6pm. Prices vary day to day, from most expensive to begin with to almost free by the end. They often have over 60,000 books for sale, so there’s definitely something there for you.

The Storyteller’s Cottage in Simsbury is also offering a class on Saturday, July 27, from 1-2:30pm, titled: Get Published: from Ideas to Instagram. Topics include: Opportunities on websites such as Submittable, preparing manuscripts, and deciding between a traditional publisher, and indie publisher or self-publishing. What to expect from publishing companies and editors. Revising and editing. And some of the most popular ways authors market their books from traditional bookstore signings to blogs, to Instagram. Good value at $30.

camouflageNorwalk Public Library is hosting two authors in August. Ivy Keating will be appearing on August 7 from 12-1:30 to talk about her book Camouflage, and on August 9, also from 12-1:30pm, Scott Kimmich will be discussing his trilogy of fantasy novels, Ordeal by Fire.

The Masters Review is now accepting submissions for their Summer Short Story Award for new writers. The winning story will be awarded $3000 and publication online. Second and third place stories will be awarded publication and $300 and $200 respectively. All winners and honorable mentions will receive agency review Deadline August 31.

Registration for the 2019 Ridgefield Writers Conference is now open! The conference takes place Friday, September 20, from 6:30-9pm at the Ridgefield Library. This year’s theme is storytelling, and the keynote is acclaimed writer, teacher and New Yorker poet Charles Rafferty. They also offer an agent, editor and publisher panel with Q&A, and three breakout sessions, for poetry, fiction writers and nonfiction. For details, visit Ridgefield Writers Conference. To register, click on Ridgefield Library Events. $25.

The 2019 Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize awards $5000 each to winners in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Winners are published in the spring issue of the Missouri Review and honored at a reading and reception in Columbia, Missouri, in late spring. Deadline October 1. All contest entries are considered for publication in the magazine.  Entry fee: $25-30. Submit here,

The New York Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America is offering two Burstein scholarships worth $1000 each this year to aspiring mystery writers. The purpose of the scholarship is to offer financial support to writers who want to take a specific class, attend a conference, or do specific research as demonstrably necessary to a mystery work they are creating. You don’t have to be a member of the MWA-NY Chapter, and submissions are open until October 9. Check the link above for how to submit.

If you want to pitch your book to an agent you could consider attending The Gotham Writers Conference on October 25-26. They promise genuinely to connect writers with agents and give a close-up look at how to get a book published.  Day 1 includes five panels and presentations. Day 2 is for pitching roundtables. Anyone can attend Day 1, but you must be selected to participate in Day 2. Space is limited.

Those of us with complete manuscripts have to decide how and where to publish. If that’s you, take a look at this informational chart from Jane Friedman, writing and marketing guru, about the key book-publishing paths. It is available as a PDF download—ideal for photocopying and distributing for workshops and classrooms—and the full text is also shown at the link.

Authors Publish is offering a new free book: 182 Short Fiction Publishers. It’s a very helpful guide to places where you can submit. You can download it at the link above.

Once you’ve decided, check out WriterBeware, which has an excellent newsletter that does what it says on the label. Each issue reviews publishers that have caused problems for authors or that misrepresent themselves. These are often self-described as hybrid publishers, co-publishers or partner publishers. What this means, essentially, is that you pay them to publish. This may be worthwhile in some cases, but it’s helpful to know which of these companies are on the level. Worth signing up for.

dreyerSome of you will have attended Dreyer’s evening at the Westport Library on July17, where he discussed his book, Dreyer’s English. If you’re interested in getting your work edited, it might be helpful to know what kind of editing you need. Member Alex McNab has a blog post to enlighten you, describing the Five Stages of Editing.

Don’t forget to check out the Writers’ Calendar for more events for writers, and – keep writing!