Writers Rendezvous – January update Part 2

Welcome to part two of January’s update. This includes some free writing workshops, suggestions for finding more reader reviews for your upcoming book, and more.

On Tuesday, February 9, at 3pm, member Barbara Anne King (The California Immigrant) will be appearing at the Norwalk Library in a discussion on Zoom of her new novel, The Apple King, to be published February 3.  The book is the second historical novel in her Monterey Bay Series, based on the Croatian immigrants who settled in California in the 1930s. Register to get a Zoom link by emailing Cynde Bloom Lahey, or call (203) 899-2780 ext. 15133.

The Connecticut Romance Writers Association (CTRWA) allows non-members to attend two meetings a year to see whether membership appeals to them. Meetings are held monthly, and each one has a guest presenter with topics of interest to writers. The next meeting, On February 13, will host bestselling thriller author Hallie Ephron, (Careful What you Wish For) giving a workshop on Writing Character-Driven Fiction. She’ll cover topics appropriate for any novelist: creating a character web, developing a character arc within the novel’s three-act structure, mining the gap between what’s visible and what’s hidden, developing a character arc within a scene, and the importance of back story in driving plot, and how to use it effectively. Email connecticutrwa@gmail.com if you’d like to attend.

Jane Cleland, writer of the Josie Prescott series of cozy mysteries, and also a writing teacher, is offering some free online workshops that could benefit any writer of fiction. Here are the details: February 20: Thematic Writing (How to use figurative imagery, atmosphere, and allegories to add richness and depth to your writing) and on March 13, The Perception Gap (How to use your characters’ views of the world to create compelling and twisty plots.)

Finding readers to review your book can be difficult, but I’ve come across three companies that may be able to help. If you can recommend others, please let us know in the comments.

Booksprout app

Booksprout is a company founded in 2015 that helps increase your book reviews. Rather than signing up for numerous newsletters, checking multiple websites, and missing new releases by their favorite authors, readers can follow them in their app. It provides a single location with mobile notifications so that readers never miss a new book again! Authors need reviews on launch day in order to build trust quickly. With our ARC Management feature, they can reduce time spent delivering eBook files and following up with readers all while maximizing reviews. There’s a free version, and ones for $10 or $20 per month with more features.

Bookfunnel is a similar service, but also allows you to collect the email addresses of those who’ve downloaded the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of your book. Depending on your price point, there are other benefits too. Prices range from $2 to $20 per month, with a contract for a year.

Lastly, Story Origin provides the same services and is completely free because it’s in Beta (meaning they haven’t figured out all the wrinkles yet). It might be worth a try if your budget is tight, since you’ve nothing to lose, and they have a number of tutorials on the site to show you how to use it. Here’s a list of the opportunities they offer.

Published to death is a blog for writers that covers a multitude of subjects, including agents, self-publishing, and submissions. A recent post listed 49 places to submit to for the month of January. Because it’s late in the month, some of the deadlines have passed, but there are still plenty left. They cover all kinds of genres, so subscribe to keep up to date.

Lastly, in case you’re spending too much time on your phone and would like to break the habit, you could do worse than try Forest, an app that allows you to “grow” a virtual forest while you’re not on your phone. When you accumulate enough points, the people at Forest will plant a live tree for you.

So you can do the world a bit of good along with yourself. 🙂

Keep writing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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: October update – Part 1

I love the Zoom meetings we’re having with people from across the country. Writing can be lonely, but the lockdown has brought to the fore this great way of communicating. So, the WritersMic on Tuesday welcomed people from as far … Continue reading

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:

joyce_maynard_final_credit_catherine_sebastian

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 – March update Part 2

As promised, here’s part two of this month’s update. And I’ve updated the Writers’ Calendar, which you can find by clicking the tab above. What a great time to be a writer in Connecticut! We have one more winning member in the CT Press Club awards. Gina Zammit won for Specialty Articles –  Insta Hit (Business) and The Coastal Traveller at the Delamar West Hartford. Well done!

53912536_10156555110728172_3833466682018365440_nThe Norwalk LitCrawl is happening on Tuesday, April 9, 2018 from 5:30 to 8:00 pm and will benefit Norwalk Reads. Enjoy Norwalkers reading aloud from their favorite poetry. 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. at the Wall Street Theater; 7:00-8:30 p.m. at the Fat Cat Pie Co. $10 donation will benefit Norwalk Reads. Please buy a ticket online by donating $10 to Norwalk Reads.

Although it’s sponsored by the Connecticut Romance Writers Association (CTRWA), anyone is welcome to join this online writing class, by Geoff Symon, Federal Forensic Investigator, from April 22-26 Especially valuable for crime writers, I think, since it’s all about wounds, weapons and other things a forensic investigator needs to know. Only $20 for CTRWA members, $25 for non-members.

Anna Quindlen will be appearing at the Mark Twain House in Hartford on Monday, May 6 at 7pm.  In her new work of nonfiction, Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting, Quindlen explores the role of being a first-time grandmother. She writes with wisdom, humor, and wit about family, female relationships, and being a parent/sister/friend/mother-in-law. A copy of the book is included in the ticket price of $30, and a signing follows the talk.

IMG_4838On May 9, from 7-8:30pm, I’ll be leading an Book Odyssey Author Night at the Storytellers Cottage in Simsbury, CT, featuring: Elizabeth Chatsworth,  Roman Godzich and Alison McBain. This is one of many author events they hold there. If you love losing yourself in a book about time travel, deep sea expeditions and the world beyond,  join us for this exclusive author night featuring these incredible Sci-Fi authors! Meet each author and hear readings from their latest books. Signed copies will be available for purchase. Enjoy a light reception after. If sci-fi isn’t your thing, don’t worry, each author has written several books from other genres as well from romance to history and YA. Register for $5

51e5JDPpl7L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_ d baldOn May 16, at 7pm, the Mark Twain House & Museum presents author David Baldacci, who will talk about his new thriller, RedemptionThis Mark My Words event takes place on Thursday, May 16, at 7 pm, at the Immanuel Congregational Church, across the street from The Mark Twain House in Hartford. Since this is a fundraiser, tickets to the talk include a copy of the book and cost $40—if you’d like to attend the VIP reception, $90.

CrimeCONN 2019 takes place at the Ferguson Library in Stamford, CT on Saturday, May 18 from 8:30am-4:30. This year, the one-day mystery lovers’ conference takes as its criemconntheme: Lawyers, Guns and Money. Panelists include a ballistics and firearms specialist, and prosecutors and defense attorneys from the world of white collar crime.  Plus, a panel on the craft of writing with some of the most admired instructors in the country. $50 per person. $45 per person for Mystery Writers of America members, friends members, seniors and students. Early Bird registration (before April 19) is $40.

The-Last-Time-I-Saw-You-Liv-ConstantineOn Thursday, May 23 at 6:30pm. as part of it Friends Author Series the Ferguson Library, Stamford is hosting a panel of thriller writers, Featuring Lynne Constantine (one of the two authors writing under the name of Liv Constantine), author of The Last Time I Saw You, Wendy Walker, author of The Night Before and Kate White, author of Such a Perfect Wife. Tickets are $15 and include a wine and appetizer reception. Reception at 6:30 p.m. Presentations at 7 pm. Book sale and signing. Registration to open in late March.

The 2019 Housatonic Book Awards, hosted by the Western Connecticut State University MFA in Creative and Professional Writing, are now open for submissions. The contest is for work published in 2018. Awards include a $1,000 honorarium with an additional $500 travel stipend in exchange for the opportunity to lead a one-day, three-hour writing workshop. Winners also will give a public reading during students’ week-long residency at WCSU. Genres accepted include fiction, poetry, nonfiction, middle-grade and young adult literature. The submission fee is $25. Application deadline: Friday, June 14.

Expressing Motherhood is a stage show that showcases stories about motherhood.  The show is built for the non-famous, non-published, and people who want to get out and express themselves. The average cast consists of ten people, and the lineup changes for each show. Performers submit in advance, and are chosen based on the power of their stories. There are no auditions. Thrown Stone’s Connecticut performances of Expressing Motherhood will take place on Tuesday, July 23, at 7 and 9pm, at the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance. Compelled to share your own powerful story of motherhood? Submit before May 1, and Thrown Stone Co-Artistic Director Jason Peck will be in touch.