Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – October update

The Westport Writers’ Rendezvous had a great get-together last week, as always. Here’s a round-up of the news:

Jan Karon of the Unicorn Writers’ Conference, is beginning a series of 90 minute classes to teach writers abut publishing and writing a compelling book. They cost $25 per class and they’ll be presented 3 times a week, on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. They started on Wednesday the 21st, but there’s no obligation to take all the classes. The last classes will be at the end of January. To sign up or get more information email: unicorn4writers@gmail.com.

Meet  best-selling authors (including Jane Green and Linda Fairstein) as well as top literary agents and editors at Barnes and Noble next Tuesday, October 27 from 6.30-8. Free If you can’t be there, you can watch it on Periscope or BookGirlTV on YouTube.

Fairfield Public Library is having a Publish and Polish Writing Workshop on November 7, from 1-3pm. It’s designed for people writing for magazines. It’s free but you need to register.

Write Yourself Free in Westport is running four creative writing workshops on Wednesday evenings starting November 4. $195

Tessa MGovern and Carol Dannhauser, writing teachers and authors. are opening the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio in Westport, CT. Classes and writing retreats begin on November 4. The first class begins November 4 – The Art & Craft of Novel Writing and the second starts November 6: Write Your Novel to Prompts. For more information, email editor@echook.com or call 203 226 6971

If you haven’t signed up to follow it yet, you should follow the Fairfield Writers’ Blog, written by Alex McNab and other guest writers.

Places to submit:

Commuterlit.com is looking for pieces in any genre fro 500-4000 words

NewPopLit.com is looking for short stories (not much more in the way of guidelines

Mused – the Bella Online Literary Review. Deadline for Winter Issue – November 20th

One of our members, Anita Evenson, mentioned (via email to me) that her husband has designed a new app for writers, Novelize: www.getnovelize.com. There’s a special deal if you’d like to try it for 6 months at half price ($2.50 instead of $5 a month). The coupon code is HALFOFF6MOMEET.

Here are a couple of podcasts for writers/readers you might like: The Creative Penn , Helping writers become authors,  and Writing Excuses.

A theatre-going innovation

Here’s an interesting development in the world of books and writing. Our local theatre, the Westport Country Playhouse, a venerable institution, is starting a new “literary salon series” called Books Worth Talking About!  The program starts in June and consists of a pre-show discussion with an author whose writing complements the production. I’ve not heard about this kind of collaboration before, but it makes perfect sense to have writers and theatre-goers discussing what they have in common. In particular, the first in the series relates to memoir as a healing medium. Those among us who write memoir will surely find the comparison between two different authors’ work helpful.

Nina Sankovitch

The first discussion, on June 13, will feature Nina Sankovitch, author of  Tolstoy and the Purple Chair:  A Year of Magical Reading,” a memoir in dealing with the death of her sister. She’ll be interviewed from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. by Tessa Smith McGovern, memoir collection editor,  writing professor at Sarah Lawrence and founder of eChook Digital Publishing.

Maureen Anderman

The play that follows is The Year of Magical Thinking, based on the National Book Award-winning memoir by Joan Didion.  Featuring Maureen Anderman, the play is about hope and renewal following the author’s loss of her husband.

If you have a ticket for the play in that evening, you can attend the salon.

Two more salons are scheduled – on  July 18, prior to a performance of Molière’s “Tartuffe”; and on August 29, before the world premiere of the comedy “Harbor,” by Tony Award-nominated playwright Chad Beguelin.

If you’re interested in this new collaboration, you can buy a ticket by calling the box office at (203) 227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529. Tickets are available online 24/7 at www.westportplayhouse.org.

Re-Post from eChook – Free short story app until February 12th

This is a re-post from Tessa Smith McGovern, award-winning author, founder of eChook and teacher at Sarah Lawrence College. She founded eChook in 2010, and after creating an app of her own short stories for iPhone, iPad, and Android, Tessa realized that she had, in effect, become a publisher. eChook’s goal is to give readers around the globe unprecedented access to quality prose by providing them with transformative short stories that they can read on their phones. I have to admit an interest here: Tessa published one of my memoir stories as part of her first collection of other people’s writing: Memoir 1. You can find out more here: http://echook.com/products-page/ Here’s her original post:

How Writers Can Build a Global Readership and Flash Sales in iTunes

Every now and then, we hold a sale in iTunes and every time, we’re delighted with the results. We get hundreds of downloads from dozens of countries around the world – China, Russia, Japan, Australia and England, to name just a few. It’s a wonderfully simple way for our writers to be read by hundreds of people and build a global readership – all with just a few clicks. And it’s all because of the technology that supports iTunes apps.

Here’s how it works: People all around the world download free apps that monitor price changes in the app store. (To find them, go to the app store on your device, search for ‘app price change’ or ‘app deals’ or ‘apps on sale’ and you’ll see different ones pop up. There are about a dozen.) Then these people check their newly downloaded apps to see what’s on sale (reduced price or free) and they download the ones that take their fancy.

But wait, there’s more, and this is the best part…because people around the world are buying new iPhones and iPads every day, there’s a constant influx of new readers coming to the app store. In fact, Apple doubled sales of iPhones and iPads in 2011, and sold 37m iPhones and 15m iPads in that year’s last quarter alone. Common wisdom has it that there are still many unpenetrated markets and that Apple is still far from saturation, so the future looks bright.

What can we say? We love Apple.

Memoir, Vol. 1 and London Road: Linked Stories are free in iTunes now until Sunday 12th Feb at midnight. Just go to the iTunes store and search for eChook.

Quick! I need something to read, and it needs to be short

In an age when a Twitter size concentration span is becoming the norm, publishers are looking for ways to reach new readers by offering them shorter works to read. The British book market is buzzing with new short titles from the major publishers.

Penguin, for example, has just launched Penguin Shorts – a collection of  short e-books from major authors. They’re available across all the digital platforms, but here’s the kicker: they’re only available in Britain. You’d think that with technology being what it is, they could allow a person to buy an e-book in London and download it in the US. They would still get their money and so would the authors, presumably. (I know it’s more complicated than that, but still…)

The Penguin collection includes memoir, fiction and essays and they retail in the UK for about $3.00 per download. Most, but not all, of their titles have been commissioned specifically for this imprint (if that’s the right word), so there’s a new memoir from Colm Tóibín, and short works from Anita Brookner and Helen Dunmore, among others, as well as How To Set Up A Free School – by Toby Young and The Battle of Alamein by Colin Smith and John Bierman.  The idea behind the essays was that instead of waiting six months for a book about some current event, a Penguin Short could be produced from scratch in less than a month. I see some opportunity for new writers here.

Random House is doing the same thing, except that in their case, you can buy some of the stories in the US.  They’re hard to find on Amazon, however. I searched in the Kindle store for Storycuts and found 25 of them, all by Su Tong. I’m pretty sure there are others….They are releasing about 200 short stories, generally culled from their current collections rather than new work.  Ruth Rendell, Alice Munro and A.S. Byatt as well as the famous Su Tong, are among them.  These retail for around $2.00.

And there’s PanMacmillan, who publishes under the ShortReads label. Again, a limited selection of these are available here  in the US, but I daresay there will soon be more of them. Emma Donoghue, Bret Easton Ellis and Andrew Lane are among the authors here. If you want to check for any of these on Amazon (I haven’t checked the other sites) you’ll need to follow the links here, find the titles and then look for them by name. Cumbersome and not exactly quick. In fact, for those of us with a Twitter-type attention span, hunting down these books can be a pain in the neck.

On the brighter side, Tessa McGovern of eChook Digital Publishing has long since had an app available for all e-book platforms, that includes short story and memoir collections designed to be read in about 10 minutes. You can check them out on the eChook website, and maybe submit something for possible publication. Perhaps Penguin and the rest should have consulted her about how to go about this…

Ether Books, based in England, has published digital short stories for an iPhone application for between 50p and £2.39, depending on length, since last summer. The stories are only available on the iPhone, Android and Blackberry, so far as I know, but they should be available in the US. They take submissions, too!

A guest post from Tessa Smith McGovern: plus a free, live, online Q&A

Tessa McGovern

This is a guest post from Tessa Smith McGovern, award-winning author, founder of eChook and teacher at Sarah Lawrence College. She founded eChook in 2010, and after creating an app of her own short stories for iPhone, iPad, and Android, Tessa realized that she had, in effect, become a publisher. eChook’s goal is to give readers around the globe unprecedented access to quality prose by providing them with transformative short stories that they can read on their phones. I have to admit an interest here: Tessa published one of my memoir stories as part of her first collection of other people’s writing: Memoir 1. You can find out more here: http://echook.com/products-page/

And if you’re interested in writing and publishing short memoirs, you might like to bookmark this free online chat: Wed, December 7th 2011 @ 3pm ET: How to Write and Publish Short Memoir, (Ed’s Note: if you aren’t able to attend on the day, don’t worry; the video of this chat will be posted in Story Studio. Sign up on top right of eChook’s home page.) She’ll answer your questions live at 3 p.m. ET at booktrib.com and discuss her three essential memoir-writing tips.

Whether you’re a seasoned writer, occasional journaler, or if you’ve never thought you could write something before, stop by, ask a question, and be entered to win lovely eChook prizes.

Where: booktrib.com
When: Wednesday, December 7 @ 3pm
RSVP: memoirchat@booktrib.com

http://booktrib.com/so-you-want-to-write-a-memoir/

And now, here’s here blog post:

A Prompt to Inspire Your Most Powerful Prose

If the end of the world was nigh and you only had one piece of paper, torn out of a blank-paged journal, and an almost-empty pen – what would you write about?

It might seem obvious, but there are so many things we can choose to write about, it’s easy to forget that readers want to read about what really matters. What is that, for you? What is the one experience that, if you were to scribble word after word on the page, without even realizing it, you’d find you’d stopped breathing?

If nothing from your own life seems to fit the bill, imagine a character. Decide her/his age, name, hometown, personality traits, and situation. What might be the single big event that really mattered to this character?

And then describe this event – or a moment during it – as the event unfolds. Don’t describe the character’s response or how he or she felt, just record in detail what happens. Imagine your eye is a camera, and simply report what can be seen.

Some of your most powerful material can be written this way.