Our final meeting of the year was surprisingly well attended, considering how close it was to Christmas. Maybe people were taking a break from the seasonal rush. In any event, we covered a lot of ground, with authors asking each … Continue reading
This month’s meeting found a group of energized writers at the Westport branch of Barnes & Noble – now with a new Starbucks, thank heavens. Meetings are so much more relaxed with a cup of joe, I find. Doesn’t make sense, when I come to think of it, but… A mixture of regular and new members made for an lively discussion, as always.
Member Gilda Dangot Simpkin will do a talk about her newly published memoir My Baby Chase at the Ansonia Library on Wednesday evening at 6:00pm. Publishing karma suggests that if we show up for other writers, they’ll show up for us. J
Member Kate Mayer has a couple of readings coming up. The first is on October 11 at the Newtown Cultural Arts Commission. She follows that with a reading as a part of the Kids are Alright program, Oct 22, 3pm, at New Rochelle Public Library. The reading is organized under the auspices of Sarah Lawrence College by Read 650. Check the link for submission guidelines.
The Booth Library in Newtown will hold its Connecticut Writers Read event this Saturday, September 23, from 2-4pm. Always interesting, and a great chance to meet other writers.
3 Birds Productions is holding its Second Norwalk Community Storytelling Event: Secrets on October 3rd, from 7-9pm at the Ischoda Yacht Club in Norwalk, CT. $10 admission includes one drink and snacks. Cash bar thereafter. 21 years of age. RSVP, please: Info@3BirdsProductions.org
Local author Sophronia Scott is launching her new novel, Unforgivable Love, a retelling of Dangerous Liaisons set in the glittering and dramatic world of 1930s and 40s Harlem. The event will be held at the Cyrenius Booth Library in Newtown CT, on Thursday, October 5 at 7:00pm.
Upcoming classes and workshops
September certainly seems to be the time when activities for writers really kick off. All the local schools are beginning classes, and it’s not too late to sign up for something if you’re interested. Here are a few ideas:
The Westport Library’s Westport Writes program is starting the year with a mini conference on Sunday, Oct 1, from 1-5:00pm. The program actually starts with a luncheon from 11 am-1 pm with a keynote by novelist Rachel Basch (The Listener, The Passion of Reverend Nash) designed to be a pep talk for writers. Registration required.
Among the other speakers are Michael Kingston, the creator of Headlocked, Christopher Mari and Jeremy K. Brown, co-authors of the Amazon bestseller sci-fi thriller Ocean of Storms, and literary agent Dawn Frederick, founder of Red Sofa Literary.
The WestportWrites program is also offering two classes: Advanced Writing begins on October 3, with classes every two weeks from 1-2.45pm. Introductory Non-fiction begins on Thursday October 5th, from 1.15-2.45pm. More details about the program here. Classes are run by Mary-Lou Weisman, whose latest book is Playing House in Provence.
The Fairfield County Writers’ Studio is beginning its fall classes soon. Here are just some of their offerings, but there are many more. Rachel Basch Creative Writing starts Sept. 26; Victoria Sherrow Writing for Children and Teens Level 1, Level 2 begins Sept. 28; Jacqueline Burt Cote Writing & Motherhood:Finding Your Voice starts Oct. 3; Stephanie Lehmann Writing the Novel begins October 4;They add new workshops each week, which you can find here.
Gotham Writers in NYC is hosting two open houses on September 26 and 27. You can sample a free one-hour class in your preferred genre to see if it’s for you by signing up here.
Write Yourself Free, now in Norwalk, is accepting enrollments on a rolling basis. Find out what they’re offering here.
Odds & Ends
There are a number of useful blogs for writers out there – among them are the one written by Jane Friedman editing, and another by Sandra Beckwith, on how to promote your book. The Creative Penn has an article on ways to improve your WordPress website using various plugins. I find Joanna Penn worth following since she interviews a variety of people about how to write and how to publish.
Member Alex McNab recommends a new book by the great New Yorker nonfiction writer John McPhee, Draft No. 4, a guide to writing long-form nonfiction. If you’d like to find out more, check out a terrific Q&A with McPhee by one of his former Princeton students at the Barnes & Noble Review.
See you next month!
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!
What a great first-of-the-year meeting we had on Wednesday. I think everyone left with ideas for new goals to set and how to get them done. More on that later, but first:
If you have a book you’d like to pitch to an agent, take advantage of the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio’s Pitch Party in Westport on January 28th from 10-12. $25 to pitch, $15 to sit, sip mimosas and see how it’s done… For tips on how to write a query letter, Alex McNab suggests Jane Friedman’s site, and also taking a look at Query Shark, for info on how not to write one.
FCWS is offering a broad selection of classes, in addition to this unique event. Hit the link to find out what they have.
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:
Unicorn Writing Conference Manhattanville College, Westchester March 25
Writers’ Digest Conference, NYC August 18-20
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.
Book Riot, an online site that sends me updates on all sorts of book-related topics, has a post to inspire anyone who’s having trouble writing: a list of books that will help to get you started.
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!