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.

laptop-writing-579

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!

 

Re-post: 5 Unusual Ways to Experience Books by Sally Allen

Sally Allen is the editor of Westport’s HamletHub  an online newspaper, and blogs about books and literature at Open Salon. She earned a PhD in English education from NYU. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter. As a book-lover, a recent article got my attention right away, with it’s new and unusual ideas for ways to enjoy books.

Here it is:

5 Unusual Ways to Experience Books

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been running into fascinating projects that involve experiencing books in unorthodox ways. By ‘unorthodox,’ I mean not sitting down alone and reading quietly in your head but taking the act of reading into a social realm that feels very ’21st Century.’ And not in the kind of way that involves complaining about e-readers and the death of the book/publishing industry/library.

These ideas all offer exciting new ways to experience books that show how relevant reading is today and why it will always matter. Yes, always.

Since they’re all worth sharing, I’m going to do just that! Click on the link to visit the project then meet me in the comments to discuss:

Around the Watery Part of the World in 135 days: The MOBY-DICK Big Read

In an earlier blog post I sang the praises of “Moby Dick,” a novel that wasn’t appreciated in its time but that readers and scholars have been appreciating the crap out of since around the 1920s.

I don’t know that I convinced any of you to read it because—let’s be honest—it’s a really, really long book, a major time commitment. And when you have so many books to catch your eye (and capture your imagination), classics can get relegated to the back of the pile (especially the long ones). It’s kind of like how New Yorkers never quite make it to the Statue of Liberty.

With this project, you can get through “Moby Dick” with a chapter a day, and you don’t actually have to read it! The book is read TO you by a different person each day (Tilda Swinton read Chapter One!). The project began on July 9, but you can still catch up. Melville wrote pretty short chapters.

Moby-Dick Marathon NYC

Here’s another way to experience the American classic without having to sit down and read it for yourself and by yourself: a reading marathon to be held in New York City from Nov. 16 – 18. The website is pretty brief, but here’s what I can tell you: over 100 readers will gather over three days at three independent bookstores in two boroughs.

And also, the celebration marks the 161st birthday of “Moby Dick,” which was first published on Nov. 14, 1851.

“It Was a Dark and Stormy Night,” the Board Game for Book Lovers

I’m almost speechless with glee at this idea for making reading social—a board game that asks players to correctly identify famous first lines of books, from novels to mysteries to non-fiction to children’s literature to short stories. You can play as individuals or teams. It sounds hard but deliciously fun!

The Shakespearience

Launched this week in the iBookstore is this interactive e-book of Shakespeare’s works. Embedded in the text are translations into contemporary language as well as well-known performances featuring Laurence Olivier, Kenneth Branagh, and Orson Wells. The e-book also offers production notes, photos, and other fun features from famous stagings of the plays. The three included in today’s launch are Othello, Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet.

Reading Parties

Here’s another idea I’m deeply in love with, offered by Book Riot writer Jennifer Paull as an alternative to the traditional book group. What’s the problem with book groups? Maybe that you have to read a book you’re not interested in, or you don’t have time to read the book that’s assigned? This idea takes care of both of these issues.

Instead of picking one book, having everyone read it before the meeting, then getting together to talk about everything but the book that none of you read, make the book group meeting about the act of reading itself.

What does that look like, you ask? Paull suggests setting aside time to read together, as in sitting in a room together and reading. You read the books of your choice, maybe even taking time to read a favorite part out loud to the group, which (incidentally) can be a great way to discover new books to experience in full. Genius!

Do you have a great idea for social reading? Maybe you’ve tried one of these or want to? Tell me all about it in the comments!