Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – August update

We’ve had a couple of great days, as we always do in the third week of the month. The WritersMic Meetup was terrific, with another batch of varied reads. If you think you’d like to come and read or to listen, sign on at the Meetup link above. We’d love to have you!

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Just some of the Rendezvous members – looking happy after the meeting

On Wednesday, a dozen or more of us showed up for the Writers’ Rendezvous at Barnes & Noble in Westport to be deafened by the sound of jackhammers – inside the store. Worse than that, the area being worked on was the café, so we were deprived of coffee too! Undeterred, member Gina Ryan suggested we meet al fresco, which was lovely until the construction trucks drove by, causing yours truly to signal them rather rudely and to absolutely no avail…

The item that caught everyone’s interest actually came at the very end of the meeting, when we go around and say what we hope to get done before we meet again. Member Elizabeth Chatsworth casually said “I’m going to have my computer read my novel aloud.” An eruption of questions prompted her to explain. MS Word has a text-to-speech feature which will read your work, without much expression, but accurately, so you can hear where you might have repeated yourself, skipped a word, or said something clumsy. I’m a fan of reading one’s work aloud – it helps me see where the flow becomes wonky, but when I do it I’m apt to supply a missing word, or even replace something without noticing. The computer doesn’t care – it will read what you wrote while you take notes, or stop it to correct things. Elizabeth supplied me with a link which explains how to enable the text-to-speech feature in Word. She also sent me the info on a free tool, Natural Readers, that claims to sound more natural. I’m not sure how much better it is, but it does offer different accents, if that’s your thing.

The Ridgefield Writers Conference is happening from September 22-23 at the Ridgefield Library. Run by Adele Annesi and Rebecca Dimyan, it features a great list of presenters. It is a juried event, so if you want to attend, you’ll need to send them a one page sample of your writing. Check the site for details.

Dogwood, Fairfield University’s Literary magazine, is open for submissions to their next contest. They charge to submit, but offer prizes in poetry, nonfiction, and fiction – three prizes of $1,000 each for the best story, essay, and poem submitted.   Enter by clicking this link.

Member Ed Ahern found this article about author etiquette on Amazon and, incidentally, how to avoid trolls. Among the suggestions are: Don’t spam/Never trade reviews for books/Never diss other authors/Don’t pay for customer reviews /never respond to reviews/Always report abuse/avoid certain sites/Don’t stray from your genre…

Along the same lines, here’s one on how to get book reviews as an unknown author by Jason B Ladd on the Creative Penn website. This is a good website to subscribe to if you’re an indie author. Joanna Penn, who runs it, has succeeded as an indie author (she may even have coined the term) by working very hard. I began by listening to her podcast, where she interviews fellow authors while she was still writing her first book, and then subscribed to her blog.

For those of you looking for an agent, Publishers Marketplace produces a daily email you can subscribe to, which will keep you abreast of all developments in the publishing world. It’s called Publisher’s Lunch and although there’s almost too much information if you’re not looking right now, you might want to make a note of it.

Looking for help with your query letter for a novel? Writers’ Relief has some suggestions. You can read the article here.

If you need beta readers, or you want to become one, Goodreads can help. One of their groups is Beta Reading and Editing, and you can post your willingness/availability/charges, or look for someone to read your work. They will send you occasional email updates, but to get the most from it, you should check it regularly yourself. I don’t need to tell you that the advantage of having a beta reader you don’t know is that they don’t know what you’re trying to say, either. And if they don’t get it, they’ll tell you so. Don’t rely on your cousin Antonia!

Finally – enjoy the rest of the summer – our next meetings will be on September 19th and 20th. Look forward to seeing you there. If you have anything to add or correct, please let me know in the comments.

And if you like this blog, please follow it. Thanks!

 

 

Need a good title? Try Shakespeare..

Everyone else does, apparently, especially crime novelists. I wonder if it’s because so many of Shakespeare’s expressions sound sinister these days. Maybe it’s because there’s so much death in his plays, most of it violent. But I’m sure you can recognize a Shakespeare title without thinking twice. When I search just for Murder Most Foul on Goodreads, I gave up counting after I got to 38 books.

Here’s an article by Moira Redmond of Clothes in Books, published in the Guardian this week. And she’s only restricted herself to titles from Hamlet, so heaven knows how many others there are. All suggestions welcome.

If you’d like to read more about Moira’s blog, see my previous entry about her.

Books about books for book-lovers…from Sally Allen

My friend Sally Allen at Hamlet Hub Westport keeps coming out with great posts about books, reading and writing. Here’s last week’s, which I thought was a propos, since it’s time to be thinking about what to get our book-loving friends for Christmas or Hanukkah. here’s the beginning of the article – click on the title to read the rest of it.

Tuesday Tales: 5 Books About Books

What serious book nerd doesn’t love a reading memoir? This is when you read a book about someone else reading books. If this sounds a little postmodern, well, yes. But it’s great!

Besides exponentially expanding your reading list (gulp), books about books provide insight into and create a conversation around how reading matters to different readers, which is just about as fun to talk about as plot and character, setting and mood. The serious book nerd has his or her own ideas, of course, but experiencing the multiple iterations of reading’s value expands the sense of possibility.

How popular is this kind of book? One page at goodreads.com lists—wait for it—418 books about books. I’m going to provide a much shorter list of great books about books, and they were all released this year.

“Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” by Robin Sloan

After art school graduate Clay Jannon loses his job designing logos for a bagel company, he takes a job working the late shift in the titular 24-hour bookstore whose most requested inventory is books written in a mysterious, indecipherable code. As Clay works to uncover the relationship between his quirky customers and their books, he draws on the resources of his friends, wrestles with the limits of technology, and discovers the nature of immortality.

Sloan’s debut novel reads like a delightful mystery (meaning no one is killed), with a cast of imperfect but kind and ethical characters pooling their knowledge and traveling across the country to help Clay discover the secret behind the bookstore’s existence. But what they really find is the meaning of life. If you like to feel good after you finish the last page of a book, you will probably adore this novel.

My favorite read of 2012, it’s a multi-layered story that also has one of the best last lines ever. And did I mention the cover glows in the dark? It’s a metaphor.

Read about her other 4 suggestions here and follow her on Twitter  and Facebook