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:
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 →
And here, as promised, is the second part of my February update. There was simply so much to include, that I thought I’d give you a little breathing space. First up: the Bridgeport Library offers a free monthly memoir writing … Continue reading →
We’ve had a couple of great days, as we always do in the third week of the month. The WritersMic Meetup was terrific, with another batch of varied reads. If you think you’d like to come and read or to listen, sign on at the Meetup link above. We’d love to have you!
Just some of the Rendezvous members – looking happy after the meeting
On Wednesday, a dozen or more of us showed up for the Writers’ Rendezvous at Barnes & Noble in Westport to be deafened by the sound of jackhammers – inside the store. Worse than that, the area being worked on was the café, so we were deprived of coffee too! Undeterred, member Gina Ryan suggested we meet al fresco, which was lovely until the construction trucks drove by, causing yours truly to signal them rather rudely and to absolutely no avail…
The item that caught everyone’s interest actually came at the very end of the meeting, when we go around and say what we hope to get done before we meet again. Member Elizabeth Chatsworth casually said “I’m going to have my computer read my novel aloud.” An eruption of questions prompted her to explain. MS Word has a text-to-speech feature which will read your work, without much expression, but accurately, so you can hear where you might have repeated yourself, skipped a word, or said something clumsy. I’m a fan of reading one’s work aloud – it helps me see where the flow becomes wonky, but when I do it I’m apt to supply a missing word, or even replace something without noticing. The computer doesn’t care – it will read what you wrote while you take notes, or stop it to correct things. Elizabeth supplied me with a link which explains how to enable the text-to-speech feature in Word. She also sent me the info on a free tool, Natural Readers, that claims to sound more natural. I’m not sure how much better it is, but it does offer different accents, if that’s your thing.
The Ridgefield Writers Conference is happening from September 22-23 at the Ridgefield Library. Run by Adele Annesi and Rebecca Dimyan, it features a great list of presenters. It is a juried event, so if you want to attend, you’ll need to send them a one page sample of your writing. Check the site for details.
Dogwood, Fairfield University’s Literary magazine, is open for submissions to their next contest. They charge to submit, but offer prizes in poetry, nonfiction, and fiction – three prizes of $1,000 each for the best story, essay, and poem submitted. Enter by clicking this link.
Member Ed Ahern found this article about author etiquette on Amazon and, incidentally, how to avoid trolls. Among the suggestions are: Don’t spam/Never trade reviews for books/Never diss other authors/Don’t pay for customer reviews /never respond to reviews/Always report abuse/avoid certain sites/Don’t stray from your genre…
Along the same lines, here’s one on how to get book reviews as an unknown author by Jason B Ladd on the Creative Penn website. This is a good website to subscribe to if you’re an indie author. Joanna Penn, who runs it, has succeeded as an indie author (she may even have coined the term) by working very hard. I began by listening to her podcast, where she interviews fellow authors while she was still writing her first book, and then subscribed to her blog.
For those of you looking for an agent, Publishers Marketplace produces a daily email you can subscribe to, which will keep you abreast of all developments in the publishing world. It’s called Publisher’s Lunch and although there’s almost too much information if you’re not looking right now, you might want to make a note of it.
If you need beta readers, or you want to become one, Goodreads can help. One of their groups is Beta Reading and Editing, and you can post your willingness/availability/charges, or look for someone to read your work. They will send you occasional email updates, but to get the most from it, you should check it regularly yourself. I don’t need to tell you that the advantage of having a beta reader you don’t know is that they don’t know what you’re trying to say, either. And if they don’t get it, they’ll tell you so. Don’t rely on your cousin Antonia!
Finally – enjoy the rest of the summer – our next meetings will be on September 19th and 20th. Look forward to seeing you there. If you have anything to add or correct, please let me know in the comments.
And if you like this blog, please follow it. Thanks!
I love Flavorwire, where Emily Temple, their brilliant but hard-to-find literary editor, is on the lookout for different ways of looking at books. Last month she published a list of 15 scathing reviews given to literary classics when they first came out; The Great Gatsby, Wuthering Heights, Catch 22 – all reviled. Here are some samples:
On Madame Bovary: “Monsieur Flaubert is not a writer.” — Le Figaro, 1857.
On Brave New World: “Mr. Huxley has been born too late. Seventy years ago, the great powers of his mind would have been anchored to some mighty certitude, or to some equally mighty scientific denial of a certitude. Today he searches heaven and earth for a Commandment, but searches in vain: and the lack of it reduces him, metaphorically speaking, to a man standing beside a midden, shuddering and holding his nose.” — L.A.G. Strong, 1932
On The Catcher in the Rye: “This Salinger, he’s a short story guy. And he knows how to write about kids. This book though, it’s too long. Gets kind of monotonous. And he should’ve cut out a lot about these jerks and all that crumby school. They depress me.” — James Stern, The New York Times, 1951
Joanna Penn has one of the best sites around for indie writers – she’s a source of constant inspiration and generously shares her knowledge with the rest of us. Her website, The Creative Penn, is regularly listed among the Top Ten Blogs for Writers, and she has indie published the first two novels of her Arkane trilogy, (Prophecy and Pentecost) under the name J.F. Penn. She often asks people to write guest blogs for her, and recently featured this one by Laura Pepper Wu, about how to get more and better book reviews. I thought it was fascinating, as well as useful.
How to Get Amazon’s Top Reviewers to Review Your book
We all want more book reviews but until you have a huge readership waiting for organic reviews can be… well, a long wait!
One way to get more high quality, (usually) well-written and highly regarded reviews is to ask the ‘Amazon Top Customer Reviewers’ to take a look at your book.
Why target the top Amazon reviewers?
While I’ve seen some reviewers with 7,000+ reviews, the Top Customer Reviewer award is not only about the number of reviews one person has churned out. At the time of writing, the #1 top customer reviewer on Amazon has only (!) 671 reviews under his belt.
As always, Amazon uses a complex algorithm to determine…