Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – November Update

November get-together began with a discussion of the recent election. Having got that off our collective chest, we agreed writing might be a way to deal with the situation. With that in mind, there’s plenty going on in the writing world.

img_5200-768x927First, I need to thank Kate Mayer for her great blog post about holding oneself accountable. She’s been writing a blog post a day throughout November as a challenge to herself, which I know she’s going to complete. She gives the Rendezvous some credit for helping her achieve her goals, and I know our meetings have something to do with it, because she’s not the only one. Reason enough to show up!

On December 16, the Fairfield Public Library will be hosting a  one-day (9-5) panel, So You Want to Write a Children’s Book  featuring Patricia Reilly Giff, Susan Hood, Susan Ross, Christine Pakkala and former workshop instructor Michaela MacColl, Rosemary Wells, Tony Abbott and about a dozen other top names in children’s publishing. Free, but you need to register.

If you’re writing for children, FCWS is offering a class beginning on December 2, Writing for Middle Graders and Young Adults. Taught by Nora Raleigh Baskin, the six classes will run for seven weeks (not on the 16th – see above) on Fridays, 12 – 2 p.m.

A propos, it’s time to sign up for new writing classes/workshops if you’re interested. All three Westport sources are offering them, so check them out here:

Fairfield County Writers’ Studio  Among these is a session taught by Beth Levine, one of our members, on writing for magazines

Westport Writers’ Workshop

Write Yourself Free

Byrd’s Books in Bethel runs a series of classes on writing by Judith Marks-White. The next one is on December 4, at 3pm, and costs $20. Email events@ByrdsBooks.com or call (203) 730-2973 for moe information.

The magazine Poets & Writers, is holding a conference: Inspiration, in San Francisco on January 14-15, 2017. (Feels strange to be moving into 2017 already…)  It’s far from here, of course, but their line-up of speakers includes Juan Felipe Herrera; best-selling novelist and author of Purity, Jonathan Franzen; New Yorker staff writer and author of The Orchid Thief, Susan Orlean; acclaimed poet and former United States Poet Laureate Kay Ryan; writer and activist Ishmael Reed; and renowned poet Jane Hirshfield. And the Early bird registration (up to December 4) is only $175. You can’t beat that.

Here’s an interesting article on 9 Important Legal T ips For Self-Publishing Memoir And Nonfiction. It’s from Self-publishing Relief, and offshoot of Writers’ Relief, and worth a read.

And if you are self-publishing, here are some books on how to deal with copyright:  How Authors Sell Publishing Rights, by Orna Ross and Helen Sedwick; The Copyright Handbook and Kris Rusch’s Business blog posts. Kris also has a new book on Contracts coming out soon. Ross and Sedwick have also produced a podcast to help you get started, called Business Mindset Means a Rights Mindset.

Creative Non-Fiction is calling for submissions on a variety of topics for upcoming issues. They include science and religion; adapting to new situations; real life Frankenstein stories; and stories for their new monthly True Story publication (one story of 5-10,00 words per issue).

Kate Mayer also told us about attending Bindercon, the conference and community for women and gender variant writers. (I feel very clued in just typing that.) It’s a bi-coastal conference, and Kate went to the NYC one at the end of October. There’s another in LA from April 1-2, if you’re in that neck of the woods. For more info about the organization and the conference, click here, or check their Facebook page.

Writers Read is taking place on Tuesday, December 6, at the Fairfield Public Library from 7-9. It will be the last one hosted by Alex McNab, so I’d love you to come, even if not to read, to say thanks to Alex for hosting it for so long. Because of the way the days fall in December, the Writers’ Salon will be ther eon the 2nd, from 4-6. Hope to see you there.

At the halfway mark for NaNoWriMo, I keep bumping into people who are giving it a go. I did mine a few years ago, and I recommend it as a great way to learn to write without self-censoring. When I printed out the first draft, I made a title page ‘Horrible First Draft’, which it was. But at least I had a novel to work on. Among the writers I’ve run into are Tessa McGovern, of the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio, who’s also helped organize a series of events for NaNo writers at the Westport Library – putting her money where her mouth is, I guess. She was right on schedule with her novel.

At a talk given by the redoubtable Alice Mattison on Thursday, I was able to encourage a poet who was writing a novel and had got to the ‘Oh my god, this will never work,’ stage. She looked a bit more cheerful after, I think.

And yesterday I met a 13-year-old, working on her second one, which according to her teacher, contains inappropriate material (underage drinking) and is too gory (vampires will do that…). Sounds good.

Have a great Thanksgiving!



Clothes in Books

I ran across an unusual blog the other day. Written by Moira Redmond, a British journalist, it focusses entirely, as its name suggests, on clothes in books, and their importance (or not) to the story being told. I find this interesting, because when I write, I’m never sure how much description of clothing to include. I don’t want it to be distracting, and yet clothing can say so much about a character. Her blog, which she publishes daily, covers all sorts of books, giving an excerpt, a found photo, and Moira’s comments on it. I haven’t read them all, but many are from books written in the 20th century. I wonder whether people were more interested in clothes then?

Here’s one she wrote for mother’s day, with an extract taken from I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith. And this is the photo she chose to go with it…

I capture the Castle

Naturally I had to find out what was going on!

You can also follow her at ClothesinBooks on Twitter.

It’s the Look…

Those of you who read me regularly will know by now that Lisa Winkler of Cycling Grandma is the editor who included me in her anthology of women writers, Tangerine Tango. Her recent post about a blog game called the Look Challenge, caught my attention. Read on and you’ll see why…

Gratitude: The “Look” Challenge, Hurricane Sandy

It’s National Novel Writing Month, a 30-day, 50,000 word, novel-writing challenge.

I’m not participating but Tangerine Tango contributor Dawn Landau is.  Not only is she writing with abandon dawn to dusk, she tagged me in the blog game called the  “Look Challenge.”  Bloggers, who are writing beyond their blogs have a chance to offer a sneak peek of their work.

The rules require that you search your writing for the word “look” and share a few lines. Dawn suggested I provide excerpts from the book.

Here’s what I found:

From Gabi Coatsworth’s essay about her memories shrimping with her father:

“I used to wonder sometimes if the sea would ever come back again. I would look out of my bedroom window, under the eaves of Granny and Grandpa’s house, and sometimes the sea would be right up, covering the pebble beach, and at other times I couldn’t see it at all, it was so far away. All I could see was sand, stretching away to the end of the world. It felt a bit scary, but there is one wonderful thing about sand like that. In the summer, after we’d had supper, my father would take us out shrimping before bedtime.

We’d walk down the drive toward the main road in front of the house. Holding hands in a straggling chain, we would cross the road after repeating the incantation: “Look right, look left, look right again. If all clear, quick march.” This last was, I suspect, my mother’s variation on “cross the road”. She had been in the army, after all.”

From Chris Rosen’s experience in her first hot air balloon:

“Miss Bean, our two-year-old shelter dog, started barking furiously on the deck while I was finishing making the pesto. Looking out towards the mountains, I saw why. A beautiful hot air balloon was floating over the valley and heading towards us! If it wasn’t for our trees, they might have landed on our hill.

I remembered our hot air balloon ride…”

And from Patti Winker’s  memory about clotheslines:

“Most might find it hard to feel nostalgic about any kind of laundry, let alone having to lug heavy baskets outside to dry on lines. Line drying the wash is hard work and not often reliable. Mom watched the sky, constantly on the lookout for ominous dark clouds Read the rest here.

Maybe you’d like to join in? Here’s the idea:

The Look Challenge

Search your manuscript for the word “look” and copy the surrounding paragraphs into a post to let other bloggers read. Then you tag five blogger/authors.

You only have to provide some of your own writing, not for the others (but “Thank you,Lisa”).

So I’m tagging five other writing bloggers:

A. J. O’Connell

Carrie Nyman

Tricia Tierney

Linda Howard Urbach

Alex McNab

Guest post: Alex Cavanaugh tells you how to do a blog tour

A couple of months ago, I became aware of one of the major new ways in which writers, especially indie writers, promote themselves and their latest book online – the blog tour. One of the bloggers I follow, Alex Cavanaugh, was launching his second book, and doing a blog tour. I dawned on me that since doing an actual book tour is often impossible, the blog tour is the next best thing. Actually, it may be better, because the information is all still out there after the blogging has happened. So I asked him to tell me how it worked.

Organizing a Blog Tour

Gabi asked me to explain how I organized my blog tour for my second book, CassaFire. Those two weeks were wild, as was the release date itself, February 28, and I’m happy to share. So, if the idea of cat wrangling doesn’t scare you, read on!

And to make it easier, I’ll give you a step-by-step account of the insanity.

About five-six months before the book’s release date, I started selecting hosts. Since this was my second book, I’d already experienced one tour and knew my book’s audience. I made a list of prospective bloggers with large followings and readers who might be interested in my book. Two weeks and ten stops seemed appropriate. (As opposed to my first tour, which was almost three weeks long with nineteen stops. Too much!)

I sent each host a request, offering either a guest post or interview, and a list of potential dates. I included my book’s full information and links to the cover art and book trailer. All ten said yes! Lucky me. (And I ended up with eleven hosts total. Bonus!)

Several hosts requested review copies, which my publisher sent.

I got permission to do a couple giveaways during the tour.

Three months before the release date, I announced my Catch Fire! Blog Party. (This is where the insanity began.) Those bloggers who signed up were eligible to win one of five copies of my book. Participants agreed to post about my latest book on its release date.

I completed all guest posts and interviews, sending everything to my hosts, along with a jpg of my cover art and all links, three weeks before my tour began. (I know I can procrastinate with the best of them so wanted to stay on top of things.)

I made sure my blog was ready, with a page devoted to CassaFire and to the Catch Fire! Blog Party

A week before the release date, I sent information to the Catch Fire! participants. (Cover art, book trailer code, synopsis, links – all that good stuff!)

The tour kicked off! I checked my host site several times during the day and for many days afterwards. I also had a contest running on my site for any who commented during those two weeks. (Prize package included both books, a mug, a tote bag, and promotional swag.)

Release day. This is where things exploded. In addition to my tour stop, close to three hundred Catch Fire! Blog Party participants posted about my book. (Some a day earlier or later, which was cool.) A lot of announcements went out on Twitter as well. I took the day off from work and spent eleven hours visiting every site that featured my book. (Those of you who read and type faster, I’m sure you could shave a few hours off that time.) I also announced the five winners of my book.

The tour continued, with something new and different every day.

I sent a thank you email to each of my hosts a few days after each stop.

Exhausted just reading that? (GC: Yes!)

It was fun, though, and a lot of people purchased my book. (And now both books are Amazon Sci-fi Best Sellers in the US and the UK.) I’m still doing guest posts and blogfests, keeping the momentum going. I probably won’t do such a massive one-day event again, but I’ll definitely do another tour for my third book.

Now I just have to think of some new Ninja tricks!

Alex has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He minored in music and plays several instruments, including guitar. He’s experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. He’s the founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and a co-host of the 2011/2012 A to Z Challenges. His first book, CassaStar, was released on October 19, 2010. The sequel, CassaFire, was released February 28, 2012. He lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

They Like Me, (sob), They Really Like Me!

I woke up this morning feeling pretty good. Then I opened up my computer and found that I’d been given a Sunshine Award for this blog! Can today get any better? I don’t care – this is great. Thank you so much Limebird Writers  for giving this blog the Sunshine Award! Limebird Writers are a (largely) UK based group of writers whose daily posts are always interesting, sometimes intriguing, and usually useful. Their voices, and their sense of humor, shine through everything they write. Check them out for some great writing ideas.

The guidelines for receiving this award:

1) Thank the person who gave you the award – Thanks again, Limebirds one and all

2) Write a post about it – This is it, folks

3) Answer the questions below – Check.

4) Pass it on to 10 bloggers who you think really deserve it and send them a message to let them know – See below

Answer 10 questions:

Favorite colour: Periwinkle blue
Favorite animal:
Favorite number:  7
Favorite non-alcoholic drink: Water
Facebook or Twitter? On FB you can say more, but with Twitter you can reach more people
My passion:  Being creative: writing, performing, supporting other writer

Giving or receiving presents? Giving
Favorite pattern:  Rainbow
Favorite day of the week: Saturday
Favorite flower: Ones that smell good!

Here are the bloggers I’m nominating for a Sunshine Award, in no particular order, and all for different reasons:

Ten picks for the Sunshine Award:

Sandi Kahn Shelton: Author, wife, mother and all round ray of sunshine. If that sounds as though she’s too good to be true, she’s not. She’s fun.

Madame Bovary’s Daughter Linda Urbach writes wittily about her creation, throwing in a few trenchant comments on the current social scene for good measure. In franglais, naturellement.

The Perils of Divorced Pauline: No self-pity here. Just great writing, thought-provoking posts and a sense of humor, of course.

Cycling Grandma She really does cycle, among other things

That Artist Woman A Canadian art teacher who’s never at a loss for great craft projects that even I can do. Great for those with children around.

Tricia Tierney:Usually contemplative, sometimes poetic, even. But a sense of humor is always within reach.

SchmeightSchmatchers Ivy Eisenberg chronicles her hilarious, and sometimes frustrating, efforts to follow the Weight Watchers program while eating latkes.

GourGanics Sarah Galluzzo not only makes this fabulous salsa but tells you how to use it a million different ways – Yum!

The Garret A.J. O’Connell keeps us updated about her writing efforts and successes.

Not Quite Old: Nancy makes me laugh. Her wry commentary about her life as an age-resistant woman in Connecticut really resonates with me.

In case any of my readers are writers, I also like my own writing blog: The Write Connexion. Not that I’m giving it an award or anything…..