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 – November update Part 2

I’m back with more suggestions for ways to keep your writing life going. For example…

Award-winning author and writing teacher Nora Raleigh Baskin is running a four-week workshop program for the Connecticut Library Association starting December 1, from 6-7:30pm). The cost for the entire program will be $100 for CLA members and $125 for non-members. Class size is limited, and each participant is expected to commit to the entire workshop series. Each session will build on the one before, so participants are asked to commit to the entire series. This program is a fundraiser for the Connecticut Library Association. Your fee goes back to CLA. because Nora Raleigh Baskin has donated her time and considerable expertise for the fundraiser. 

The Writers’ Rendezvous is a big supporter of the  Connecticut Press Club and its Awards contest, which is now open for submissions. If you’ve published anything in 2020, you may enter, and since there are 61 categories, you should be able to find your niche. They include all kinds of writing, as well as editing (of others’ published work), photography, graphics, radio and TV, websites, podcasts, advertising and PR, and a host more. You may submit up to three entries in any given category, and up to ten entries in total. The early deadline (which avoids an extra fee) is January 27, the deadline for books is February 3, and the final deadline is February 10.

Inkshares is a publisher with a difference. They work by crowd-funding your book. This article gives you Continue reading

Writers’ Rendezvous – September update

Elizabeth Chatsworth

Thank you to the members who persevered to get into the meeting when I had a Zoom fail this month. On the plus side, we were a select group, which gave us a chance to talk things over. Feeling overwhelmed by the current situation seemed to be a theme, so it was nice to have something to celebrate.

I’m delighted to tell you that Rendezvous member Elizabeth Chatsworth‘s debut novel was featured on the cover of Publisher’s Weekly on August 31. Please support her by marking it as want-to-read on your Goodreads page, or better yet, pre-ordering. (It takes a village, folks!) It’s called The Brass Queen and is a great read. Check out the details including an excerpt at the link.

Fairfield County Writers’ Studio is beginning its virtual fall classes this week. Each class lasts six or seven weeks and is limited to six students, so everyone gets personal attention. They include a class on food writing, taught by Rebecca Dimyan, A creative writing craft class taught by member Carol Dannhauser, two classes on writing for children and teens Continue reading

Writers’ Rendezvous: August update – Part 2

Here’s more information you may find of interest. Among other things, I will be running the Monday morning write-ins from 10-11:30ish indefinitely. So if you’ve had trouble concentrating, or sitting down to write, do not despair. Contact me for the … Continue reading

Award-winning Rendezvous!

The list of award winners in the Connecticut Press Club’s annual contest has just been published, and I’m delighted to say that over thirty awards were won by members of the Writers’ Rendezvous. Several won in more than one category. … Continue reading

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: January update – Part 1

We had an energizing meeting yesterday, with tales of successes, help sought and given, and goals set for the writing year.  Several of us targeted getting published as something to work toward this year. To encourage you in achieving those goals, there are plenty of events and classes to inspire you around here.

on-publishing-collageStarting with a forum at the Pequot Library this Saturday, January 18, from 11-1pm. The topic is On Publishing and will feature Fairfield University’s MFA Director and author Sonya Huber and incoming MFA director, author and Fairfield University English professor Carol Ann Davis, as well as me. Come armed with questions and we’ll help you figure out how you can make 2020 your year to be published. Free.

Mary-Lou Weisman, bestselling author, personal essayist and memoir writer, offers an eight-week workshop at the Westport Library for those who have had some experience in writing memoir and personal essay, who want to improve their writing. Eight-week sessions begin on January 9 & 23, February 6 & 20, March 5 & 19, April 2 & 16. The classes take place every other Thursday, from 12:30-2:30pm and to be accepted, you need to submit a sample of your writing. For more information, contact Jennifer KellerClass size is limited to 10.  $15.

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Allison Dickens

Among its many other offerings, The Westport Writers Workshop is offering eight Saturday workshops that you can take in your pajamas, using Zoom. It’s an easy-to-use free video conferencing program that allows for multiple participants, audio and video sharing, screen sharing, working on a whiteboard, and recording. Email WWW to ask about a free Zoom demo class that will help you get comfortable with how it works. The eight Zoom workshops run from January 25-March 28 and include this one from 10-12pm on January 25: Putting Your Best Foot Forward: Query Letters. It’s taught by editor Allison Dickens, and the workshop will discuss tactics for writing successful query letters. And you’ll get the chance to submit your query letter for critique.

As you can see, getting published is what it’s all about this month. The Storyteller’s Cottage in Simsbury CT is offering a series of workshops on getting traditionally published. Author Dawn Metcalf will share her experience publishing five young adult fantasy novels with Harlequin Teen, including Luminous and the four-book Twixt series. The sessions take place on Wednesdays from 10-12pm. They include How to Write a Query Letter, January 22, How to Pitch Your Work, January 29, and How to Actually Finish Your Manuscript on February 5. Cost: $45 per class. Other workshops include How to Become a Freelance Writer and one on reviewing theatre.

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Libby Waterford

Westport Writers Workshop is offering a panel on publishing: Traditional Publishing, Self-publishing, and Everything in Between: What’s Right For You? at the Westport Country Playhouse on Saturday, February 1, from 2-4pm. The panel will feature local writers Allison Dickens, Jessica Speart, Libby Waterford, & Heather Frimmer. $25

If you were published in 2019 and live in Connecticut, don’t forget to submit to The Connecticut Press Club’s annual Awards contest. To enter the contest, follow the directions on the contest site. The early deadline to submit entries — and avoid a one-time additional fee of $25 — is January 28. The final deadline for books is February 4 and the final deadline for all other entries is February 11. There are 61 categories including 17 just for writing (news, fiction, poetry, etc) and others for websites, blogs, design, advertising, PR and even speeches. Email CTContestDir@charter.net with questions about the contest. And email ctpressclub@gmail.comif you would like to be a judge.

Amy Oestreicher will be the featured speaker at an author luncheon at Bernard’s Restaurant in Ridgefield on January 30 at 12pm. Amy will read from her memoir, speak briefly during the prix fixe lunch ($35.00), and conduct a Q & A. Reservations: 203-438-8282.

The WestportWRITES program at the Westport Library is offering a free workshop entitled Sharpen Your Journalism Skills on Sunday, February 9 from 2-4pm.  Using elements of lyric writing like hook, word choice and finding an angle, journalist Robin Chung will guide participants through a two-hour workshop with hands-on components that promises to bring fresh insight to the work of the journalist.

Best-selling author Jane Green (left) will be in conversation with memoirist Dani Shapiro on February 12 at 7pm at the Westport Library. They’ll be discussing  Shapiro’s latest bestselling memoir, Inheritance. The evening will include audience Q&A and a post-conversation signing. Tickets: $40 for general admission seating, plus a copy of the book. 41zbrxnNkjLOr $100 for a 6:00 p.m. pre-event VIP reception with Dani and Jane, special reserved seating at the front of the Forum, plus a copy of the book.) Purchase tickets here.

Part 2 will follow on Monday. Don’t forget to check out these and other events on the Writers’ Calendar page. And in the meantime – have a productive weekend!

 

Writers’ Rendezvous: December update

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:

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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

Writers’ Rendezvous: November update – Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of the Writers’ Rendezvous update. I’m enjoying the last relatively free weekend before the holidays are upon us and thinking about all the writing events and contests I can still submit to. Here’s the first:

47249137_10217896453506821_8817750592366575616_oThe Connecticut Press Club’s Annual Communications Contest is ready for your submissions. If you live or work in Connecticut, and have published anything at all in 2019 (there’s still time, folks!), you’re eligible. To enter, follow the directions on the contest site. There are sixty-one different categories, so there’s sure to be one for you. Email CTcontestDir@charter.net with questions about the contest. And they’re looking for judges, so if you’re willing to volunteer, please email ctpressclub@gmail.com to let them know. The fee for CT Press Club members is $25 for the first entry and $15 for each additional entry. The non-member fee is $30 for the first entry and $20 for each additional entry. The early deadline to submit entries Continue reading

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous: May update- Part 1

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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