We had out first Virtual Writers’ Rendezvous via Zoom yesterday, and I’m so glad we did. Thirteen of us managed to sign in, and it was a wonderful way to connect. And, as you can see, I look much younger on Zoom. (Just kidding – that’s not me…) The reason the Rendezvous exists is as an antidote to the isolation of writers. And nothing will stop us connecting! (Photo below courtesy of Zoom)
Naturally, there were almost no events I could recommend, since everything for the immediate future is canceled. But the internet is a wonderful thing. Here are some of the things you can do to stay in the writing groove.
Twenty writers attended out meeting yesterday – and they had a lot to share. Mary Grace Dembeck’s children’s book, I’m Mad at the Moon, was published this month, Richard Seltzer has a publishing contract, and member V.P. Morris is launching her first weekly podcast series on August 27. The Dead Letters Podcast is a suspenseful audio drama in 25-minute episodes, focusing on the lives of five women who, over history, have received mysterious letters that warn of death and destruction if they don’t do exactly as the sender says. Find it on all the main podcast platforms: PodBean, iTunes, Google Play Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher
Here, as promised, is part 2 of this month’s news. Be sure to check out the writers’ Calendar page for all the events I’ve come across that might be of interest to writers. And keep writing!
Jane Friedman, book marketing guru, will be in New York for BookExpo next week, and on May 29 she’ll be teaching a 3-hour evening workshop (in partnership with Catapult) on how to build a sustainable business model for your writing career. Click here to learn more and register.
Thanks to the intrepid crowd who braved wet weather – and the aftermath of a small, but efficient, tornado which tore through Connecticut leaving a trail of fallen trees and dark homes behind – to come into the warmth and bright lights of Barnes & Noble in Westport on Wednesday. We had lots to talk about – you can find the highlights below.
Up first, this Saturday morning, May 19, (but after the Royal Wedding…) Fairfield County Writers’ Studio is offering a master class by best-selling mystery author, publisher and all-around great guy Chris Knopf. Titled:The Secret Life of Successful Mysteries, it’s geared toward mystery writers, but all novelists will benefit from Chris’ expertise. From 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or thereabouts Continue reading →
We had another great meeting yesterday, with several new members, who contributed their points of view – something we value. And the WritersMic Meetup the night before had 11 enthusiastic readers plus guests. I wasn’t able to be there, but member Sheryl Kayne took over the duties of MC, to general acclaim. Thanks, Sheryl!
I’m going to begin the update with some events that are happening very soon.
Dr Suzanne Hoover, a former master teacher at Sarah Lawrence is giving a class on Endings, (how to end your novel) this Saturday, May 20th, from 2-4pm at the Westport Writers’ Workshop.
Also on May 20th, from 11-12.45, Patrick McCord is offering a FREE introductory class at Write Yourself Free in Westport. He has a specific method that can help you structure your writing to make for a better book. Although their main classes started this week, they may still have room for you to join one if you like the freebie.
One of our members, E.V. Legters, is holding a launch party for her second novel, Vanishing Point, on June 4th at the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio from 4-6pm. Come and support her, and enjoy the festivities, and hanging out with fellow writers and readers.
There are several Meetups around for writers, apart from the two I run:
One is headed by Jan Kardys, who organizes the Unicorn Writers’ Conference, in which you can bring 10 pages to be critiqued. The next meeting is on Saturday, May 20th. Check it out here.
And there’s an Open Mic Night in Norwalk Meetup, which includes performances of all kinds, including reading, I think. But check it out by being part of the audience, if you’re not sure whether it’s the right fit for you.
And speaking of telling stories, Barnes and Noble, our gracious hosts in Westport, will be having a regular storytelling evening each month, the first on June 21st. They’re looking for people with a personal story to tell about strong women who’ve had a personal effect on you, experiences where a woman with power helped or hindered you, etc. Like their Facebook page or call in at the store to get updates about how to tell your story.
The New York Pitch Conference, a 3-day event running from June 22-25 offers a wonderful opportunity of meeting agents who might actually be interested in seeing your work. It’s not cheap – so if you haven’t finished your book and got it publication-ready, it’s probably best to wait a while, according to those in the know.
Enter a contest. This one is the Brighton Prize, which exists to find inventive new writing. It’s open for entries until 30th June, and has two categories: short stories between 1000 and 2000 words, and flash fiction under 350 words. The prize for the winning story: £1000, with two runners up getting: £100 each.
Drew Lamm has shorter summer series of her unique writing groups for women: To Taste Life Twice. I’ve been going for some years, and value the peaceful place where I can write with other women, and get Drew’s reactions to the writing. She praises the good, so that we write more of it. And it works. Check the link above and the photo to the left.
If you can’t get to a live class, there are several online options. One is from Gotham in New York, and they have many to choose from – food writing, travel writing, script writing, video game writing, teen creative non-fiction, humor, romance, sci-fi etc
Creative Nonfiction has summer online classes give you the chance to experiment with new subjects or forms in a condensed 5-week format. Classes begin June 26, 2017 and include topics like digital storytelling, science writing for general audiences, historical narratives and experimental forms. Enroll by June 2 to get $50 off.
We talked about the importance of editors and a couple of people mentioned Allison Dickens, who is teaching a class called Nailing Your First 20 Pages -an advanced workshop in novel and memoir. It’s a one-week intensive at the Westport Writers’ Workshop, from 10-12, July 24-28. Another recommended freelance copy editor was Stephanie Finnegan.
Member Ed Ahern mentioned that the online journal he reads submissions for, Bewildering Stories, will always critique your submission, whether it’s accepted or not. Sounds like a good way of getting some feedback, and maybe publication. They accept submissions in all genres.
If you’re a friend of Poets and Writers, they give you the chance to list your latest publication in the nest Friends News. It’s too late for this year – entries closed on May 15th, but it’s worth bearing in mind for next year. Any book-length publication of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction published after December 2015 (so 2016 next year) is eligible to be listed, as are forthcoming titles. Chapbooks, translations, and self-published works may be included.
We had another lively meeting at the newly refurbished Barnes & Noble in Westport this week. The refurb has given us a bigger space to meet in – thanks! Twelve of us got to grips with things, and here’s some of what went on. I’ve listed them in date order.
It’s rather late notice, I know, but TONIGHT (April 21st) the Westport Writer’s Workshop will hold a celebration featuring readings from a number of writers. Among them is Fairfield University’s Low-Residency MFA Program Director Sonya Huber, whose latest collection, Pain Woman Takes Your Keys and Other Essays from a Nervous System, was published in March; A propos, Sonya has written a blog post about all the available book awards, and provided a handy list here. Did you know you could nominate yourself for a Pulitzer? Free and open to the public, 7:30 PM at 323 Bar & Restaurant in Westport (323 Main Street).
Glimmer Train, the highly respected literary journal, is looking for submissions for their fiction (3,000-20,000 words) and very-short fiction award (300-3,000 words). First Place gets $2,000-3,000, so – worth a try. Deadline April 30.
The Westport Writers’ Workshop (WWW) is presenting a mini-conference as part of the Westport Library’s WestportWRITES program It’s on Sunday, April 30, from 1-5PM. Topic: creative writing and social justice. A selection of speakers will be led by WWW’s Executive Director, Valerie Leff.
On Sunday, May 7 at 10:00 a.m, the Connecticut Press Club is sponsoring a workshop with Susan Maccarelli, founder of Beyond Your Blog and its eponymous podcast. Macarelli’s website and newsletters give you tips and strategies for submitting your blog posts to other websites. To be held at the Westport Writers’ Workshop. Details here.
On May 14, Colm Toibin, Irish author of Brooklyn, will be speaking at the Westport Library. Register here.
Our next WritersMic evening will be held on May 16, 7-8.45ppm in Westport. Join the Meetup for details and updates.
Creative Non-fiction’s annual writers’ conference will be taking place in Pittsburgh, PA, from May 26-27. Suitable for both novices and experienced writers, the conference aims to help you write better. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with literary agents, get concrete advice from industry insiders, hear what different kinds of editors are looking for, and focus on specific skills in inspiring small-group sessions.
Gotham Writers in New York are holding a Be A Hero Contest. They’re looking for a 50 word story – that’s right, 50 words (or fewer). The title, if you have one, doesn’t count as part of the word count, so I guess you could have a really long title if you need more exposition… The story should be about someone who fought for the right thing in a way that called for courage and commitment. This can be a personal story about, say, your father rescuing you when you were lost in the woods, or a public story about, say, Rosa Parks not moving to the back of the bus. It could also be a made-up story, even an artful retelling of a favorite, such as Erin Brockovich or A Tale of Two Cities. Entries must be submitted online by midnight Eastern May 29,
Moving into early summer, on Saturday, June 3 from 9- 5 p.m, the Mystery Writers of America/New York Chapter is holding a fiction writers’ conference at the Ferguson Library in Stamford. The full-day session will cover subjects like great beginnings, structure, revisions, etc, and will be taught by established members of the MWA. Publishing professionals will also be on hand. $75 per person (MWA members $65), includes all sessions, plus continental breakfast, boxed lunch and a coffee/wine wrap-up party.
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.
The Writers’ Store has a range of recorded webinars you can purchase, as well as live classes. Check them out here.
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!
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!)
So much good stuff from the meeting last Wednesday, and more streaming into my mailbox since that I thought you might like. So here goes:
First, the first WritersMic Meetup is taking place tomorrow, Tuesday, February 21st, at Panera’s in Westport from 7-8.45pm. If you’d like more details, join the Meetup online, and you’ll get reminders every month. I’m planning to hold them on the 3rd Tuesday of each month. You can bring a 5-minute (or less) piece to read, and we’ll get through as many as possible.
This Saturday, February 25th, the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio is offering a morning workshop led by Kim Caldwell on the route to publishing your book. She’ll discuss the main paths to publication – self-publishing, traditional publishing, independent presses, digital-only and more. And she’ll explain what you need to know before you choose your path, what factors influence that choice, and a host of other topics you might not have explored. $45. Register here.
The Poetry Foundation is running the Emily Dickinson First Book Award – designed to recognize an American poet of at least 40 years of age who has yet to publish a first collection of poetry. They’re looking for one book-length poetry, and will publish the winning book as well as offering a $10,000 prize. The competition is open to any American citizen forty years of age or over who has not previously published a book-length volume of poetry. Submissions close on February 27!
Stalwart member Kate Mayer sent me this information about the storytelling event Listen To Your Mother NYC. The show is nationwide, but this may be the last year it runs. Auditions need to be scheduled by appointment via http://listentoyourmothershow.com/nyc/.
Kate took part in 2012 – she was touching and funny, of course – and met some incredible writers. Men, women, anyone can audition, the only requirement is the topic motherhood. Auditions take place in New York Feb 26-March 2, and the actual event is on May 6th.
The Unicorn Writers’ Conference is taking place March 25 in Manhattanville College, Westchester. Check my previous post for details.
The Connecticut Book Awards are back in business, and it’s time to submit. The awards include a category for books for young readers, both authors and illustrators, as well as fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The deadline for submission is April 21, 2017, and the winners will be announced this October. Your work should have been published in 2016, have a valid ISBN number and you should be a resident of Connecticut or have set the book mainly in Connecticut.
More information about guidelines and entry fees, as well as how to apply, is available at the Connecticut Center for the Book website.
The Connecticut chapter of Romance Writers of America is offering a two-day mini-conference open to all writers, April 1-2, in Norwalk. The morning session is entitled Winning the Promo Game: a practical class focused on helping authors develop a personalized promotional strategy that reflects their work and personal style. The afternoon will cover The Romantic Plot: form vs. formula
Gotham Writers in NYC is running a contest everyone can enter. They’re looking for a 50-word (yes really -50 words) on the theme: Be a Hero. Deadline: May 29.
Submit a 10-minute Play at Darien Library. Playwrights are invited to submit their final scripts for consideration to the Catherine Lindsey Actors/Playwrights contest by April 7th. They accept musicals, monologues, short scenes from full-length and one-act plays. When writing your piece please keep in mind that the number of cast members is limited, only one play may be submitted per person, and plays must be 10-minutes long or less. Please limit your plays to 10-pages double-spaced, 12 point font.
A number of writing classes are also available at various venues in Fairfield County and New York. In the City, Gotham Writers is offering what they describe as a ‘rush of classes’ both in classrooms and online. I’ve tried them and found them very useful when I first began as a way of finding an instant critique group led by an experienced published writer.
The Westport Writers Workshop has classes starting in Westport, Avon and Ridgefield. Subjects include memoir, fiction, the journey of writing for women, and personal essay.
The Connecticut Book Awards are back. These awards recognize the best titles of 2016 written by authors who reside in Connecticut. Book award submissions will be accepted starting January 2017 and will close in April 2017. For more information, please visit the Connecticut Center for the Book website.
The Connecticut Press Club is still accepting entries for their Annual Communications Contest. The only criterion for submission is that you must be a Connecticut writer and that the submission should have been published/broadcast/launched etc in 2016. The submitting process is still more complicated than it should be, but if you’re interested, don’t give up. They’re accepting entries until February 6. To ensure you’re on their mailing list, email CTPressclub@gmail.com. The deadline is February 6.
One of our members, Sheryl Kayne, is producing a book for which she’s seeking contributions: Grandmas and Grandpas by Many Other Names. This is an opportunity to celebrate grandparents. She’s looking for stories and/or photos about your own grandparents or yourself as a grandparent to accompany stories about fictional grandparents including Little Red Riding Hood’s as well as Heidi’s and Willy Wonka’s Grandfathers. She’s accepting contributions through Valentine’s Day and the E-book and softcover will be launched mid-April in time for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Grandparents’ Day. Contributors receive a free E-book. Contribute here.
Bernice Roque, one of our members, is offering a useful (and free) task managing tool specifically aimed at writers. If you feel you can’t keep track of things, this might be a good solution for you. Contact her through her website.
Elizabeth Chatsworth, another member, has been having some success with the grammar-checking tool Grammarly. It claims to find mistakes which Spellcheck doesn’t, and there’s a free version which should be worth trying out.
Among writing conferences coming up in our neck of the woods this year are these:
BookBub is a great resource for authors looking to reach new readers for a debut or a series, to boost books up on the best-seller list, and even drive sales for backlisted books. Authors see an average earning increase of almost 200% when their book is chosen as a Featured Deal. GoSpark Press is offering a webinar; How to Maximize BookBub is set for February 2, 2017 at 4 p.m. PST (register here), and will help you figure out how to make Bookbub work for you, if you’re already published. Plus, it’s only $10…
Larry Brooks is a Californian writer with a great website called Storyfix. He coaches writers and now has a new virtual classroom which provides, to quote, “Hardcore Training Videos For Serious Authors”. He’s offering one free training module, one of five currently available. Here’s the link to “Essential Craft for Emerging Novelists,” an 81-minute hardcore craft training experience. Worth a look.
At our monthly meetings we set ourselves a goal to be accomplished by the next meeting, I’ve vowed to submit more work for publication this year, so I’ll be signing up with Duotrope. Now that I’ve said it in writing, I’ll just have to do it!