We had another great Zoom meeting yesterday. I love seeing new people, as well as the usual suspects. This is a strange time for us all, but I see many positives coming out of it – in particular the creative ways in which writing and publishing are being supported. Check below for excellent online events you can get to without moving from your living room. Member Lauren Busser (right) had several useful links for you. (Thank you, Lauren!) I’ve marked her contributions LB.
If you’re having trouble getting down to writing, and you’d like some accountability, you might try writing 1000 words a day for two weeks, with author Jami Attenberg’s #1000WordsofSummer challenge. The 2020 session will be from May 29-June 11. You’ll receive a daily email encouraging you to write and all levels of writers are welcome. LB
The annual BookExpo in New York is the largest book fair in the country, and part of it, BookCon, is devoted to the public, rather than to the business of publishing. This year they’re doing it virtually, Continue reading →
Our May meeting of the Westport Writers’ Rendezvous was made even more interesting by several new members. I never know what’s going to come up, but new members always add something to the mix. If you’ve anything to add to this list, please add it in the comments below. Thanks!
Among the upcoming events I want to mention is The Connecticut Press Club’s Awards dinner, which is taking place this Wednesday, May 25th at the Saugatuck Boat Club in Westport. $40 gets you drinks and hors d’oeuvres and a chance to meet fellow writers of all types. There were around 40 categories of awards this year, so there’s a place for everyone to submit next time round. Please RSVP by emailing Michele Turk firstname.lastname@example.org immediately!
Terry Macmillan of Waiting to Exhale fame will be presenting her latest book, I Almost Forgot About You, at the Wilton Library on June 7th at 7-8:30pm. The event is free but it’s a good idea to register on line.
One of our members, Mary Ann West, is launching her new book: House Grab – a True Crime Story on Saturday, June 11th from 6:00 PM- Sunset at The Pavilion at Longshore Park, Westport, CT. Since she’s combining the event with her birthday, she’d love you to bring a new or genty used book to be donated to local charities. For more details, connect with Mary Ann on Facebook
Jan Kardys, who organizes several literary events, including the Unicorn Writers’ Conference, Is running a one-day workshop for writers on June 25th in Newtown, CT for a cost of $45 per participant. Here’s a quick rundown: Part 1- The Craft of Writing. Award-winning filmmaker, playwright, author and teacher Bob Zaslow will demonstrate the six elements of effective writing. Part 2- How to Get Published. 35-year publishing veteran, Jan Kardys, will call on her experience working for ten of NYC’s biggest publishing houses to talk in depth about the big three types of publishing: traditional, self-, and blended and which one is right for you. Part 3- The Craft of Design. Unfortunately, today people do judge a book by its cover. Glen Edelstein, former art and design director for Bantam Dell Publishing, will teach you about the elements of good design: from covers to interiors to typefaces, as well as special features bookmarks, flyers and banners. Parts 4, 5, 6- Three Connecticut published authors, Including Tessa McGovern of the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio, will discuss their own writers’ journeys to success and answer questions. You can register here
Writers looking for constructive criticism should check out the Easton Writers’ Workshop. Recommended by Ed Ahern, it’s a Meetup that happens once a month (I think). The next meeting is this Saturday, May 28th, at 11am. Here’s the link.
The next events for writers at the Fairfield Public Library will be
Writers Read, on Tuesday June 7, from 7-9 pm and Writers’ Salon, Friday June 3, from 4-6 pm. They’re out of their usual sequence in June because the first Tuesday comes after the first Friday.
Some of our members have announced their new websites. They are:
Alex McNab found this interview by the Book Doctors (the people who run Pitchpalooza) with author John Dufresne. About two-thirds of the way down he talks about book promoting and platform, if you’re interested.
Something a little different – Do you love books? This could be your dream job! Elm Street Books in New Canaan is looking for a part-time bookseller (3 days, permanent, no summer positions). Must be available to work on weekends. Please email resume to:Kathleen@elmstreetbooks.com
New members looking for places to submit, should take a look at Duotrope and also Beyond Your Blog. Their approaches are quite different, but they can give you ideas. Both are used by some of our most regularly published writers.
Talking of submissions, the next deadline for Glimmer Train is June 30th. They publish fiction of various lengths, and there are prizes for the best.
I attended a lunch with Pulitzer prize-winning author Anna Quindlen the other day, so I took the opportunity to ask her what she felt about editing (my hobby horse). She said she wouldn’t dream of publishing without her books being edited by her long-time editor, and didn’t understand her friends who did so. Editing makes a book so much better. I feel vindicated…
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!
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.
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.
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.
Our end-of-year meeting of the Westport Writers’ Rendezvous was a surprise and delight to me. A surprise, because there were 26 of us there, and I hadn’t expected so many with the holidays looming, and delight because we broke our own record. We held the meeting at the newly established Fairfield County Writers’ Studio, where Tessa MGovern and Carol Dannhauser made us feel very welcome. Check out the courses the offer here. They begin in January and there’s something for everyone.
Tessa sent me the link for a Scrivener video tutorial. I’ll post the class schedule for Gwen Hernandez’ Scrivener classes next month. They begin at the end of January.
Gotham Writers Workshop, the New York-based writing school, is now offering one-on-one classes online. You can get professional feedback on a particular project (book, short story, screenplay, poetry) or long-term mentorship. You can also take a private 3-hour class or a private 6 or 10-week course tailored to your interests and needs. There are private grammar sessions, help with applying for an MFA and help launching a blog, among other things. I imagine it’s fairly pricey, but if this is what you need, go for it.
Here are some websites which might be useful to you. I found them courtesy of Larry Brooks, who runs Storyfix, a website and critiquing website. He has a special offer on right now for critiquing your novel ($1300 – a great value, I think, especially if it helps you find plot holes or areas you need to work on). He’s not an editor per se, but he does have a good grasp of how a story should be put together.
This blog post came from Robert Morris, a guest blogger and freelance editor in NYC. You can follow him on Google+. I’m reproducing most of it here, since he wrote it so well.
1.OneLook Reverse Dictionary
You are torturing yourself to remember a word you have in the back of your mind, but you just can’t spit it out? You need this reverse dictionary. Just describe the concept of the word you’re looking for, and you’ll get an entire list to choose from. The word you’re looking for is definitely in there.
You would have to invest a lot of money to hire a long-term editor you would work exclusively with. These editors usually work with published writers and charge amounts that newbies are unable to spend. That’s why you have NinjaEssays on your side! This is an online editing service that evaluates your projects and assigns a perfectly suitable editor for an affordable price. Plus, you can collaborate with professional writers, who can help you improve some aspects of your content!
You are already determined to become a professional writer? Then you need to become part of Reedsy – an online community that connects authors with great editors, designers, and marketers for their books. You can create an author profile for free, upload a portfolio, and start building connections. If you still haven’t discovered a publisher for your first draft, Reedsy will direct you on the right way.
4. Plagiarism Checker
Think about the greatest sin a writer can commit. Of course it’s plagiarism! You want to produce absolutely unique content with no signs of copying, paraphrasing, rewriting, and other dishonest strategies. PlagTracker checks your content and provides a detailed report about any plagiarism involved in it. If you accidentally got too inspired by an online resource and you forgot to provide proper citations, PlagTracker will help you fix the damage before it’s too late.
5. Cliche Finder
Some writers just love clichés. They are not aware of their habit phrases; they use them intuitively and bore the readers with unnecessary fillers. This online tool will help you locate the clichés and overused phrases in seconds. That’s a certain way of making your content less annoying. (Have to say, I couldn’t actually see how to track cliches on this rather simple website. But you could try this website instead. GC)
Daily writing exercises are necessary for your progress. Buffalo enables you to write every day and publish your random thoughts online. It’s a supportive community that’s clean and extremely functional. All you need to do is join and start writing on any topics you have in mind.
7. Calmly Writer
You’ll see an almost blank page when you land at this website. Isn’t that all you need? You’ll access the options when you click on the lotus flower in the upper left angle of the page. You can insert pictures, change the font, download the document in different formats, or enter Focus Mode. You’ll also get character and word count, as well as an estimated reading time for your content. The distraction-free writing environment will make you a more focused writer. (I definitely need this one…GC)
We ended the meeting as we always do, by telling each other what we planned to do before the next meeting (January 20th). With holidays interfering, we tried to keep the goals modest and achievable. Here’s to 2016!
I recently registered for the Unicorn Writers’ Conference, a one day affair which takes place on August 15th in Westchester County, NY. And last Thursday, I attended a talk given by its founder, Jan Kardys, where she explained what it is that sets her conference apart from others. I was particularly interested in the possibility of having professional editors and agent do an assessment of my work, just to see if I’m on the right track. You can find out more below, and if you aren’t able to attend the conference, I think you’ll find Jan’s book really helpful, too. GC: You’re a literary agent, which is a demanding job. When and why did you decide to found the Unicorn Writers’ Conference? JK: Unicorn Writers’ Conference came to life in 2010 after attending many writers’ conferences as a guest speaker throughout the US. It occurred to me that since I had worked inside publishing for 35 years for 10 major NYC book publishers, I could get top editors, agents, and speakers to attend a conference if I put one together. I think writers need to understand the various departments within a traditional publishing company, the role of agents and editors, and how to improve their writing skills.
GC: What are the reasons to attend a conference like yours? JK: What sets Unicorn Writers’ Conference above the competition is the large list of top literary agents, NYC book editors from major publishing houses. Unicorn’s manuscript review sessions are better than our competition – a deal with major agents for 40 pages and a 2 page book summary (all read in advance) for $55 and 30 minutes with an agent and/or editor. Writers have found their agents at Unicorn Writers’ Conference and we have book deals with two major NYC book publishers. GC: How is it different from other writers’ conferences? JK: We run five (5) different workshops for writers every hour. This is an opportunity to meet literary agents, pitch your book, network with other writers, meet printers, sponsors, and learn about the benefits of traditional publishing vs self-publishing. We also select our best-selling keynote speaker from a list of published authors who will motivate and inspire our attending writers. This year the keynote speaker is New York Times best-selling author, Stephanie Evanovich. We carefully cover craft, career, and connections for writers. Unicorn focuses on workshops that will educate writers – agent panels cover copy in marketing books, character, social media, plots, and book proposals. Unicorn selects agents and editors that cover many genres in order to reach more writers, including poetry, fiction and non-fiction. We are proud that Writers’ Digest Magazine interviewed us in their magazine in 2012, and you know you are successful when many literary agents throughout the US and New York City ask to return each year.
GC: What are the main mistakes writers make when they’re trying to get published? JK: The first mistake is submitting your manuscript without having it edited by a freelance editor before you send it off to literary agents, or publishers that will consider unsolicited manuscripts (without an agent). Too often writers are under the impression that a book editor will assist the writer in “rewriting, restructuring and revising the book.” This is not the process today. Agents and editors have higher expectations in today’s marketplace, and they demand manuscripts that are fully edited, in excellent editorial shape, ready for publication, and without any errors, etc. The second mistake is not researching your competition for your book before you write it. Third mistake is not setting up social media before you write your book. Start networking with writers now as it is a long process to build an audience and followers.
GC: Have you ever found someone you decided to represent at your conference? JK: Yes, a former newspaper reporter who wrote a novel set in the 14th century. It is currently under submission. The author originally signed up with John Ware (who attended the conference for many years – a former Doubleday book editor, former agent at Curtis Brown, and agent at John Ware Agency). John died and this author connected with me via LinkedIn and I was blown away about her novel. I can’t wait to sell it!
A young blogger, Dana Sitar, whom I follow write a recent post on a subject dear to my heart: editors and how to handle them. I’m a complete believer in editors, and would almost never publish anything without one. My blog posts are the exception (maybe you can tell?). The snag comes when you’re freelancing. I’ve had my share of editors who insist on an ungrammatical ‘improvement’ to my writing, or who’ve changed the sense of what I was trying to convey by their edits. Dana asks the question: When should you confront, and how? Do read her piece and then I’d love to hear your ideas for how you handle this.
Working with an Editor
A few months ago, I found myself in a frustrating situation with an editor for a freelance assignment. I loved the assignments I was getting, and he gave glowing reviews and useful feedback on the work I was turning in. But sometimes the edits I saw in the final published work were… questionable. I’m no Yes-Man when it comes to work, but I also try to pick my battles, and I couldn’t decide whether challenging his edits was one worth engaging.
When should you question an Editor?
He’s got the reputation of his publication to maintain, so he makes the changes that fit the image he’s worked hard to cultivate. I’ve got my reputation as a writer to maintain, so I worry about the integrity of every article published with my name on it. So how do we reconcile disagreements?
Usually, I just bow my head and bite my tongue. Read the rest here