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 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:
- Decide what domain name you want – one for you and one for the title of your book
- 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.
- 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.
- 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…
Barnes & 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!
A relatively small but hardy group of us, including three new members, met yesterday – thanks for coming out in such bad weather! There was a lot talk about, so if you couldn’t make it, you can catch up here.
The Connecticut Press Club and the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio are co-sponsoring a workshop, Podcasting 101, this Saturday, led by Ben Bogardus. It takes place this weekend, Saturday, March 18, from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. $75. Register here
Patrick McCord of Write Yourself Free in Westport, is offering a free introduction to his Master Class method from 1-3pm this Sunday, March 19. If you’re interested, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a spot (limited places available). Their regular classes begin next week.
The second WritersMic Meetup will take place next Tuesday (March 21st) at Panera’s on the Fairfield/Westport line, from 7-8.45pm. Bring up to around 1000 words to read to a friendly audience of other writers. Sign up at the Meetup link if you can.
A number of online writing courses have been crossing my desk more frequently recently.
Gotham Writers Workshop of New York runs 33 of them, from how to write articles, to writing for video games, some starting soon. There’s an introductory video you can look at, to see how they work. Cost: $400 for 12 classes.
Kristin mentioned a course she had taken at with Tom Bird in Arizona. He is a proponent of the handwritten manuscript, and believes in accessing one’s interior creative flow. You can try his method online, or sign up for a virtual writing retreats. There’s a free online workshop coming up next Thursday, March 23. He also has a workshop entitled: Write Your Book in a weekend, with an introductory video.
And Westport Continuing Ed is offering online writing classes via Ed2Go. $99 buys you twelve 2-hour classes, and the next series begins today, March 15. There are 24 different classes to choose from, including ones on designing your blog, writing fantasy, children’s and YA fiction, or publishing and selling your eBook, among others.
We talked about the ways to simplify submitting work for publication. One way to find an agent is through Query Tracker who have a list of 1592 agents and a method for keeping tabs on what you’ve sent where.
The Unicorn Writers Conference and the Book Publishing Discussion Meetup are both run by Jan Kardys, an agent herself. The Conference takes place on March 25th and offers a chance to meet agents and editors. The Meetup is monthly and you can take 10 pages to be critiqued, if you want to.
Book Hive is an online service that specializes in focus group research by beta readers in several genres. You get a 35-page report with plenty of feedback to help you perfect your novel/memoir etc.
And new member, Paul, suggested a quirky website Everyone Who’s Anyone in Publishing, that gives you contacts for lots of agents. He warned they might not all be up to date, however, so caveat emptor!
Alex McNab found an interesting article about how to make a perfect pitch (their title) by Sophie Masson, and another by Brian Klems, published in Writers’ Digest, that explains the differences between Mystery, crime and thriller novels. And here’s an article from Holly Robinson about how to start writing again if you’re stuck
Also from the Writers’ Digest, and article on how to find an online critique group. You can read it here.
I thought The Writers’ Cooperative website looked interesting. It’s a website you join for $3 per month, which offers a chance to publish your articles on writing, as well as giving help and support to writers. If you’ve tried it, please let me know how you liked it, in the comments.
The Writer’s Hotel isn’t a hotel at all, it’s a writers’ conference taking place in NYC from June 7-13 this year. The conference offers Master Classes in Fiction, Nonfiction & Poetry, and as you can see, lasts 6 days. Broadly speaking, (if I’ve understood it correctly) there are workshops in the morning, with lectures and meetings with agents in the afternoon. Cost $2500, plus hotel and dinner.
Last but not least, as a result of submitting with Duotrope, I had a piece of flash fiction accepted by the Dime Show Review within 7 days. You can read it here (only 163 words, so it won’t take long!)
See you next month
So here’s the update from Wednesday’s meeting of the Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – for those who were there, and those who wish they had been…
A number of interesting topics arose. Ed Ahern mentioned that he’d been interviewed for The Two Sides of You, a book about bi-hemispheric people – those using both sides of their brain with equal facility. I mention this because I know the author, who belongs to a generation not generally known for their technological interest, never mind savvy. Yet Elaine Breakstone managed to publish this interesting (not just because I know her!) book, finding a cover designer, using Createspace to help with the layout, and putting it up on Amazon. Point is, if she can do it, you could too.
Alex McNab had his first fiction piece published in Still Crazy, suggested by fellow member Jacque Masumian. This is why we meet – to encourage each other and tell each other what works.
One submission tool that comes up at virtually every meeting is Duotrope. I mention it again for new members, and also for those of you who find submitting an overwhelming task.
Several members asked about how to write a really good query letter. We talked about Query Shark, a website run by agent Janet Reid who takes apart query letters she thinks aren’t any good, so you can see what not to do. One Rendezvous member suggested not sending a query letter to your top agent preferences first, in case the letter needs modification. After you’ve sent it to your second tier list, and modified the letter (assuming you don’t get an acceptance) submit to your A list.
An interesting article in Atlantic Monthly talks about the rise in women crime writers. I find this interesting, since in my book, so to speak, women authors have dominated crime since the 30’s (Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and forward). I guess what the writer is getting at is that women write better psychological crime – solving the crime isn’t just a technical puzzle, it’s an emotional one, too. Add to that the fact that over half crime readers are women, and you can see why women crime writers are so successful. A quick check of our membership shows a number of women crime writers among our members, but so far, no men.
Dogwood, the Fairfield University Literary magazine, is soliciting submissions for their 2017 Literary Prizes. If you don’t want to compete, but would like just to submit, you can do that, too.
Talking of submissions, here’s an article on why you should aim for 100 of them. Some of our members are working on it!
For non-fiction writers, Creative Nonfiction is running a workshop in Havana (Cuba) from January 31-February 4, 2017. It’s co-sponsored by the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, and will be led by Lee Gutkind, editor of Creative Nonfiction. It’s called: Bringing Havana to Life, and at least one of our members is setting her novel there. Even if you’re not, Havana? Sounds great.
I heard about Plot Control software from a friend. It’s designed to help with screenwriting, but as we know, plot structure doesn’t vary much between genres. However, this is not the only one out there. You might also look at Movie Outline, Save the Cat, and Final Draft. I think most of these will work for fiction, too, but don’t quote me.
For those people already published on Kindle, you can, in fact, sign your book for buyers. I asked A.J O’Connell about it when I interviewed her a while back. You can read more about Authorgraph here.
As ever, Writers Read will be at the Fairfield Pubic Library on Tuesday, August 2nd, from 7-9pm. On August 3rd, Jay McInerney is talking about his latest book at the Darien Library, and on Friday, August 5th, the Writers’ Salon will be meeting at the Fairfield Library from 4-6pm.
See you next month!
It’s been a week since the last Westport Writers’ Rendezvous, and I should have published this post sooner. But I was away over the weekend, and I was doing some of my own writing, too, which all writers understand (I hope) has to come first. It was a great meeting, as ever, with several new faces, and there was a lot to talk about. Far from slowing down in the summer, the number of author workshops and events seems to be multiplying.
Among the upcoming events we discussed were the Memoir Workshop on June 25th in Westport. Run by The Company of Writers, the cost is normally $300 (including lunch), but the organizer, Terence Hawkins, is offering a specially discounted rate of $200 to Writers’ Rendezvous members. The workshop leader is Blanche Boyd, a professor at Connecticut College, and a published writer.
BTW, The Company of Writers’ website also offers a list of indie presses, most of which accept direct submissions from writers. The site is worth a look.
Also on the 25th is a workshop run by Jan Kardys of the Unicorn Writers’ Conference, in Newtown, CT. It’s called: You Wrote a Book – Now What? Click on the link to can check it out.
June 26th sees an interesting development in book launches. Nora Raleigh Baskin, middle grade and YA novelist will launch her latest novel, Nine, Ten: A September 11th Story, on Facebook at 8pm. Check it out – it’s an intriguing new idea.
On June 28th, The Westport Library is offering a 2-part workshop called Writing Scripts for Television. It will be run by GiGi News. Part 1 is on June 28th and part 2 takes place on August 25 – both from 6.30-8.30pm. Register here.
Barnes and Noble in Westport, CT, is running a couple of excellent events next week. On June 29th, at 7pm, authors Nora Raleigh Baskin, Linda Legters and Stephanie Lehmann will discuss their paths to publication and changing views of success and art. Free. (Click here for my interview with Linda Legters.)
Alex McNab wanted me to remind you of these other events:
Tues, June 28, 2 pm: Afternoon Tea with Author (The Bridge Ladies, The Forest for the Trees [about writing & editing from editor’s perspective]) Betsy Lerner at Fairfield Public Library, free.
Tues, July 5, 7-9pm Writers Read and Fri, June 8, 4-6pm Writers’ Salon at Fairfield Public Library, free.
Tues, Aug 23, 6-8pm DartFrog Books publishers are offering a pitch session for self-published authors at Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT. Look for the sign-up form at http://dartfrogbooking.setmore.com/
One of our members is still soldiering on, checking out book marketing companies. It’s not easy to know who, among the crowded book marketing sector, can actually deliver in terms of book recognition, never mind sales. There are various companies that offer packages of services, but the consensus seemed to be that these aren’t likely to provide much in the way of promotion, and one is better off going it alone.
Which led us to a discussion of the value of editors – this without any prompting from me. As you know, I have a bee in my bonnet about editing, and it turned out that we had three among us. They agreed that it as best to submit 10 pages to an editor before hiring them, since the writer and editor must be compatible – on the same page, so to speak. This makes sense to me, because there are as many different styles and points of view as there are writers. If you’d like me to put you in touch with them, let me know in the comments.
For those wanting to print copies of their own book, the Espresso Machine by On Demand Books is located in New York, and can print your book while you wait. I’ve used it to print the first draft of one of my terrible novels, and I found it very useful for editing, since I left it in Courier type and double-spaced, so I could make written changes. (What is doesn’t do is improve the terrible first draft…)Much easier than doing it all on the computer. The machine itself is located in Shakespeare & Co, the independent bookstore on Lexington Avenue, and the company now offers other self-publishing tools as well.
Our most frequently published member, Ed Ahern, publishes short stories in many places, among them Ember and Spark. Recently, one of his stories, published by them, was accepted for a project that brings stories to young readers in eBook form to encourage them to read. And there’s a strong possibility it will be made into an audio version by Audible, too. The project is being coordinated by Plympton, so check them out. If I gave you all the details, it would be another whole post, but I’ll ask Ed to tell us more at the next Rendezvous.
Ed found Ember and Spark via Duotrope – it works, people!
Kate also mentioned that she’d been paid to be a beta reader of a book. We all need beta readers for our own work, so if you know how to find them, let me know.
Write on, until next month!
Our May meeting of the Westport Writers’ Rendezvous was made even more interesting by several new members. I never know what’s going to come up, but new members always add something to the mix. If you’ve anything to add to this list, please add it in the comments below. Thanks!
Among the upcoming events I want to mention is The Connecticut Press Club’s Awards dinner, which is taking place this Wednesday, May 25th at the Saugatuck Boat Club in Westport. $40 gets you drinks and hors d’oeuvres and a chance to meet fellow writers of all types. There were around 40 categories of awards this year, so there’s a place for everyone to submit next time round. Please RSVP by emailing Michele Turk email@example.com immediately!
Terry Macmillan of Waiting to Exhale fame will be presenting her latest book, I Almost Forgot About You, at the Wilton Library on June 7th at 7-8:30pm. The event is free but it’s a good idea to register on line.
One of our members, Mary Ann West, is launching her new book: House Grab – a True Crime Story on Saturday, June 11th from 6:00 PM- Sunset at The Pavilion at Longshore Park, Westport, CT. Since she’s combining the event with her birthday, she’d love you to bring a new or genty used book to be donated to local charities. For more details, connect with Mary Ann on Facebook
Jan Kardys, who organizes several literary events, including the Unicorn Writers’ Conference, Is running a one-day workshop for writers on June 25th in Newtown, CT for a cost of $45 per participant. Here’s a quick rundown: Part 1- The Craft of Writing. Award-winning filmmaker, playwright, author and teacher Bob Zaslow will demonstrate the six elements of effective writing. Part 2- How to Get Published. 35-year publishing veteran, Jan Kardys, will call on her experience working for ten of NYC’s biggest publishing houses to talk in depth about the big three types of publishing: traditional, self-, and blended and which one is right for you. Part 3- The Craft of Design. Unfortunately, today people do judge a book by its cover. Glen Edelstein, former art and design director for Bantam Dell Publishing, will teach you about the elements of good design: from covers to interiors to typefaces, as well as special features bookmarks, flyers and banners. Parts 4, 5, 6- Three Connecticut published authors, Including Tessa McGovern of the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio, will discuss their own writers’ journeys to success and answer questions. You can register here
Writers looking for constructive criticism should check out the Easton Writers’ Workshop. Recommended by Ed Ahern, it’s a Meetup that happens once a month (I think). The next meeting is this Saturday, May 28th, at 11am. Here’s the link.
The next events for writers at the Fairfield Public Library will be
Writers Read, on Tuesday June 7, from 7-9 pm and Writers’ Salon, Friday June 3, from 4-6 pm. They’re out of their usual sequence in June because the first Tuesday comes after the first Friday.
Some of our members have announced their new websites. They are:
Kate Mayer: KathrynMayer.com
Jacqui Masumian: http://www.jacquelinemasumian.com/ (hosted by Weebly)
And Susan Israel: http://www.susanisrael.net/
BTW, Susan will be appearing at Barnes and Noble in Westport to launch her latest crime novel, Student Bodies, on June 30th at 7pm. Come and support her!
Ed Ahern sent me this. It’s an article by a young woman whose job it was to read short story submissions. It’s witty but quite pointed, too. Any of you writing shorts, should take a look.
Here’s the article we talked about on how to promote your book relatively painlessly, by Kimberly Dana. Many of these are simple ideas that you can begin doing now, even if your book isn’t finished.
Alex McNab found this interview by the Book Doctors (the people who run Pitchpalooza) with author John Dufresne. About two-thirds of the way down he talks about book promoting and platform, if you’re interested.
Alex McNab’s latest blog post, with Sinatra biographer James Kaplan, is now up at the Fairfield Writer’s Blog.
Something a little different – Do you love books? This could be your dream job! Elm Street Books in New Canaan is looking for a part-time bookseller (3 days, permanent, no summer positions). Must be available to work on weekends. Please email resume to:Kathleen@elmstreetbooks.com
New members looking for places to submit, should take a look at Duotrope and also Beyond Your Blog. Their approaches are quite different, but they can give you ideas. Both are used by some of our most regularly published writers.
Talking of submissions, the next deadline for Glimmer Train is June 30th. They publish fiction of various lengths, and there are prizes for the best.
I attended a lunch with Pulitzer prize-winning author Anna Quindlen the other day, so I took the opportunity to ask her what she felt about editing (my hobby horse). She said she wouldn’t dream of publishing without her books being edited by her long-time editor, and didn’t understand her friends who did so. Editing makes a book so much better. I feel vindicated…
Until next time – happy writing!
It was great seeing both old and new faces last Wednesday at our November Westport Writers’ Rendezvous. We had a record number of attendees (22), and plenty to talk about, with good ideas coming from all directions. Here are some of them:
For those of you wrestling with disorganized longer projects, these are the online Scrivener courses taught by Gwen Hernandez, which I’ve taken. Inexpensive but effective. The next one for beginners is in February.
Bernice Rocque recommended Zazzle, an online retailer that allows users to upload images and create their own merchandise, or buy merchandise created by other users, as well as use images from participating companies. Bernice has made note-cards using her own photography, which she uses as marketing/branding tools.
Ed Ahern enjoyed the World Fantasy Convention he attended recently, and felt the exposure to writers and publishers was worth the trip to Saratoga Springs. You can check out next year’s convention here.
We talked about ways of self-publishing, including crowdfunding a book via Kickstarter or another entity. There’s a British company called Unbound, which crowdfunds books, giving writing related rewards depending on the level of funding. Worth looking at. And there’s a full article covering this on a website called Winning Edits.
Someone asked about Writer’s Relief. They offer a range of services to help authors get published, from helping to design your website, to finding an agent, to identifying places to submit short stories, etc. You can check out both them, and their fees, here.
There’s also Query Shark, with lots of (pretty ruthless) suggestions for writing query letters
Leslie told us about an article by NYC professor Susan Shapiro pertinent to memoir writing. She talks about writing the humiliation essay and its potential to jumpstart your writing career. Read it here.
Via Janet Luongo, one of our members: How Writers Write Fiction -a free online 8 week program of IOWA Univ. I think it’s offered every year. Pulitzer prize-winners are among the brilliant authors who teach through video; great reading lists, assignments, peer feedback. Worth passing on to writing community. Certificates are offered for $50, which I did earn.
To find places to submit, and succeed with submissions, Ed Ahern swears by Duotrope. And he should know; he gets published all the time.
For those looking for beta readers (people to read your book before you look for an agent and give you honest feedback) a friend of mine recommends Book Hive.
I mentioned an app I find very useful. Evernote can save a snapshot of a web page, allows you to write with your finger to make a note of something (and voice too, I think). I use it for notes, reservations, recipes etc, and it syncs them across all my devices.
Lori Pelikan Strobel is looking for women dog owners to interview. If you’re interested, contact me and I’ll pass on your email.
eChook is looking for submissions of romance and women’s fiction, 35,000-75,000 words long. The submission guidelines can be found here.
Our next meeting is on December 16th. If you’d like to get notifications of upcoming meetings, sign up at Meetup. Look for Westport Writers’ Rendezvous.