Why I love Writers’ Organizations

I belong to a number of writing organizations, and have always found them interesting, though not necessarily vital. But this year has brought the value of the groups I belong to sharply into focus. In years past, I would join a group, attend occasional events, and skim their newsletters, while I wrote mainly on my own and hoped for the best. Sometimes I’d be asked to speak at a meeting. Occasionally I’d benefit from a new idea about how to tackle a specific craft element of writing – handling a dual timeline, structuring a personal essay, finding an editor – but these were largely peripheral to the main role writing played in my life. 

This year, though, I found myself with no writers’ meetings to go to, no conferences, and no workshops. I found that, to my surprise, I missed the company of other writers. And then my organizations stepped up to the plate.

I have to confess that I stepped up pretty early myself. I run three groups for writers: a monthly open mic, a monthly get-together where we talk and exchange ideas, and now a weekly write-in too, which I was asked to organize by the Pequot Library in Southport, CT. I transferred all meetings to Zoom beginning in March, and found, to my surprise and delight, that people from other states, and even Canada, who’d never have been able to join us before, were now attending. I was finally meeting people I’d only corresponded with until then.

Back to the writing organizations. I’ll start with ones I’m a member of. If they’re not right for you, there are bound to be others that are, and I’ll post a list of those tomorrow.

The WFWA, (Women’s Fiction Writers Association) holds daily (sometimes twice-daily) write-ins, where I check in, write for 90 minutes, and check out. I’ve been writing every day since the pandemic started-not something I could have said before. They run webinars with workshops on craft, book marketing, and more. And the joy of webinars is that you can watch them afterward if you can’t make the original time slot. Although there is something to committing oneself to a particular time that makes one more likely to stick to it. Through these activities, I’ve met dozens of new writer friends across the country – sometimes even from abroad.

The CTRWA (Connecticut Chapter of Romance Writers of America) holds monthly meetings for its members. They used to be held an hour away – now I can attend from the comfort of my office. The talks they offer can apply to almost any kind of fiction writing, and the camaraderie has made me new friends. To be a member, one has to belong to the national association (RWA), which has been controversial this year, resulting in a real effort to make the organization more aware of diversity issues in membership and publishing.

The Authors Guild is, as its name implies, for all authors. Among the services they provide are lawyers who will look at any contract (with an agent or publisher) and give you feedback on whether it makes sense or has unforeseen pitfalls. They can help you design a web page, and they have a daily conversation thread where you can ask for advice on any subject, knowing that other members will have experience with that issue. They also keep tabs on any industry controversies regarding pirated work or slow royalty payments, for example.

The CPC (Connecticut Press Club) is open to writers, bloggers, novelists, web designers, public relations, etc – in short, anyone connected with communications via the written word. Their annual Awards contest gives members a chance to enter their published work for a possible award, and they host occasional evenings with celebrated members of the writing and publishing world.

CAPA – the Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association has introduced me to new writers and ideas for how to publish your book. They too have monthly online meetings. 

I’m an unofficial member of the MWANE Mystery Writers of America’s New England Chapter. Not because I’m writing mysteries, but because I read them, attend conferences, and go to the occasional meeting. And I’ve interviewed some of the members for this blog. I first came across them at their annual conference, and learned a lot at the workshops they held there. I had to leave the room during the discussion of the decomposition of corpses,(way too detailed unless you write crime!) but in general, I found the sessions interesting and useful. 

You can find many of these entities on Facebook, if you’d like to see what they do, or ask members questions. More organizations tomorrow! 

 

Writers’ Rendezvous: April update – Part 1

Zoom. That’s the way I’ve been getting together with my friends, my writing groups, French conversation groups and, of course, The Writers’ Rendezvous people. And the great advantage of Zoom, is that it’s allowed me to host people who usually … Continue reading

Writers’ Rendezvous: November update – Part 1

I was at the Plumb Library in Shelton recently, as the featured speaker for the monthly meeting of SW CAPA, the SW chapter of the Connecticut Authors & Publishers Association. I gave a talk about Overcoming the Obstacles to Getting your Work Published, and you can watch the YouTube video here. Go to minute 16, to avoid listening to audience chitchat before the main event! If you’d like a copy of my notes, with links to all the helpful sites I mention, email me via the contact page, Continue reading

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous: May update- Part 1

CT PC

Jane Green presenting the award to Alison McBain for the anthology When to Now. PC Keeler was one of the contributors.

Ten of us gathered for the Westport Writers’ Rendezvous on Wednesday, and applause was in the air, because that evening we celebrated the Ct Press Club Awards with a smashing party at the Delamar Hotel in Southport, CT. Novelist Jane Green, presented the awards, and kept the party moving. Among winning members and friends were: Alison McBain, Deborah Levison, Ann Lineberger, Megan Smith-Harris, Aline Weiller, Kate Mayer, Diane Lowman, Catherine Onyemelukwe, Heather Frimmer, Marlou and Laurie Newkirk, Gina Zammit, Lauren Busser, and Sarah Galluzzo. It was wonderful to be in such good company.

ALCThere’s a chance to meet several authors this month. On Friday, May 17 at 7pm, Armando Lucas Correa, author of the international Continue reading

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – July update

We had a smaller group yesterday – the effect of summer, no doubt, but the conversation was animated and a number of people got answers to questions like “How do I go about getting a website?”

The answer to that one, by the way, was:

  1. Decide what domain name you want – one for you and one for the title of your book
  2. Get that name registered on any social media you can think of. You don’t need to use the social media site yet, but you want to be able to in the future.
  3. WordPress, Wix and Squarespace were recommended as sites that would let you design and manage your own website. There are sites on the web where you can compare the relative benefits of these, before you make a decision.The New York Times ran a recent article about making your own website, too.
  4. A recent blog post by Jane Friedman, writing guru, might help answer the question, too. So You’re an Author Without a Social Media Presence: Now What? (Thanks, Alex McNab for this and other suggestions further down the page.)

And talking about websites, one of our members, Elizabeth Chatsworth, has an audio sample of her writing on her site, even though the book isn’t finished yet. It’s a good idea and worth listening to. in the spring, I went to a class on how to record a podcast, which may now come in handy, since there’s a decent chance I may be able to publish one of my stories with an audio version available in the online version. You never know…

B&N storytelling 071917 editedBarnes & Noble in Westport, our gracious hosts for the Writers’ Rendezvous, have started a series of storytelling evenings, which, as it happens, are also on the third Wednesday of the month, and worth putting on your calendar. You’ll hear people telling their story without reading it, and it’s remarkably inspiring. Here I am, telling my story, and in spite of my accidentally pained expression, I’m having fun.

For blog readers or members who live in Norwalk, 3Birds Productions is having a community-building evening of stories next Tuesday, July 25 from 7-9pm at Harbor Harvest (7 Cove Avenue in Norwalk). The theme is Maiden Voyage, and you have 5 minutes to tell your story. Or you can come and just listen (from anywhere).

A couple of members asked for links to Autocrit, a software that does an edit on your writing and finds, in addition to typos, repetition, etc, a lot of your quirks, so you can change them if you want to. Duotrope, where all the best places to submit are listed, should be bookmarked by now!

I came across an article entitled Does Amazon KDP select help you sell more books? It’s not too long, so an easy read, and the general conclusion seems to be that Kindle Direct Publishing  works well for one 3-month enrollment per year, but perhaps not more.

Alex recommends an interview with Crime/mystery novelist Walter Mosley in The Paris Review  – Art of Fiction series, and a New York Times article about Junot Diaz writing a children’s book, headlined Child to Novelist: ‘Tell Me a Story’

Last month I mentioned CAPA, which I joined. Their local chapter has regular meetings in Shelton, and they’re also affiliated with APSS – the  Assn of Publishers for Special Sales, who offer special rates at events where you can sell your book.

A couple of free ideas: Penguin books is offering a free Guide to short story writing for download. And if you’re missing your critique group or want to start one but members live in various different places, Zoom Room offers free videoconferencing to help you out.

I’m going to see the movie Dunkirk this weekend, partly because my Polish father was one of the soldiers rescued from the beaches there. The Poles don’t often get a mention, but my dad, who was in France when war broke out, fought with the French and then the British. I happened to write about him on my personal blog a couple of weeks ago, if you’d like to read it. And if you want to read more posts like it, feel free to follow me!

Stay cool!