This post covers perennial topics for writers. This business changes so rapidly that keeping up can be hard. I hope this helps. (LB: info provided by Lauren Busser) EDITING I’m always encouraging people to edit their work before submitting it … Continue reading
Around twenty of us gathered at Barnes & Noble in Westport this month, to chat, encourage and suggest writing solutions for each other. Poets, fiction and non-fiction writers including journalists – everyone had something constructive to offer. We are a great community!
And now, first things first. The Westport Library is presenting a performance of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues tomorrow night, Friday, February 21, to benefit the Center for Family Justice and the Rowan Center – both organizations are dedicated to helping people in crisis. Among the many women appearing, will be yours truly and Mitzy Sky, one of the Rendezvous members. If you can come, please do. The suggested donation of $20 will go to an excellent cause, and if that’s too much for your budget, come anyway. Sign up here.
Westport Writers Workshop is offering a series of write-ins Continue reading
Only three courageous souls braved the icy weather to read their work at the WritersMic this month, but today’s Rendezvous had 14 attendees. Yay! It was held at the Fairfield County Story Lab, where we were hosted by the owner, Carol Dannhauser. Members admired the shared writing spaces available, as we sat around drinking coffee and eating festive cakes and cookies. A person could get used to this! Here’s some of what we discussed:
Join extraordinary memoirist Joyce Maynard at the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio for a one-day Master Class on personal storytelling on Tuesday, January 7, from 10-2:30 pm. ($125) /10-4 pm. ($175). The numbers are limited to 20, and you should register immediately if you’re interested, since places are going fast. Writers who wish to attend must submit, in advance of the class, the first 750 words of a work of first-person Continue reading
We had a great meeting on Wednesday, with lots of ideas for writers on how and where to submit, editing techniques, and congratulations to members recently or about-to-be published. To keep this month’s update down to one post, I’m forging ahead.
On every third Thursday of the month, The Darien Library hosts a free Writer’s Workshop for writers of any genre and level of writing ability. Next meeting: Thursday, July 18, from 7-8:30 pm. They critique up to ten pages of written work in a friendly, constructive atmosphere. The meeting is directed by Laura Cavers, MFA. If you’re interested in joining the Writer’s Workshop for the first time, email Laura to get started.
On Sunday, July 21 / 2:00pm – 3:00pm The Storytellers Cottage is hosting a chat with a published author about the secrets to becoming a successfully published writer. July’s Featured Author: Penny Goetjen author of The Empty Chair, Murder on the Precipice, and Murder Beyond the Precipice. National award-winner Goetjen writes murder mysteries where the milieu plays as prominent a role as the engaging characters.
Pequot Library’s 59th Annual Summer Book Sale takes place from Friday, July 26 – Monday, July 29, from 9-6pm. Prices vary day to day, from most expensive to begin with to almost free by the end. They often have over 60,000 books for sale, so there’s definitely something there for you.
The Storyteller’s Cottage in Simsbury is also offering a class on Saturday, July 27, from 1-2:30pm, titled: Get Published: from Ideas to Instagram. Topics include: Opportunities on websites such as Submittable, preparing manuscripts, and deciding between a traditional publisher, and indie publisher or self-publishing. What to expect from publishing companies and editors. Revising and editing. And some of the most popular ways authors market their books from traditional bookstore signings to blogs, to Instagram. Good value at $30.
Norwalk Public Library is hosting two authors in August. Ivy Keating will be appearing on August 7 from 12-1:30 to talk about her book Camouflage, and on August 9, also from 12-1:30pm, Scott Kimmich will be discussing his trilogy of fantasy novels, Ordeal by Fire.
The Masters Review is now accepting submissions for their Summer Short Story Award for new writers. The winning story will be awarded $3000 and publication online. Second and third place stories will be awarded publication and $300 and $200 respectively. All winners and honorable mentions will receive agency review. Deadline August 31.
Registration for the 2019 Ridgefield Writers Conference is now open! The conference takes place Friday, September 20, from 6:30-9pm at the Ridgefield Library. This year’s theme is storytelling, and the keynote is acclaimed writer, teacher and New Yorker poet Charles Rafferty. They also offer an agent, editor and publisher panel with Q&A, and three breakout sessions, for poetry, fiction writers and nonfiction. For details, visit Ridgefield Writers Conference. To register, click on Ridgefield Library Events. $25.
The 2019 Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize awards $5000 each to winners in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Winners are published in the spring issue of the Missouri Review and honored at a reading and reception in Columbia, Missouri, in late spring. Deadline October 1. All contest entries are considered for publication in the magazine. Entry fee: $25-30. Submit here,
The New York Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America is offering two Burstein scholarships worth $1000 each this year to aspiring mystery writers. The purpose of the scholarship is to offer financial support to writers who want to take a specific class, attend a conference, or do specific research as demonstrably necessary to a mystery work they are creating. You don’t have to be a member of the MWA-NY Chapter, and submissions are open until October 9. Check the link above for how to submit.
If you want to pitch your book to an agent you could consider attending The Gotham Writers Conference on October 25-26. They promise genuinely to connect writers with agents and give a close-up look at how to get a book published. Day 1 includes five panels and presentations. Day 2 is for pitching roundtables. Anyone can attend Day 1, but you must be selected to participate in Day 2. Space is limited.
Those of us with complete manuscripts have to decide how and where to publish. If that’s you, take a look at this informational chart from Jane Friedman, writing and marketing guru, about the key book-publishing paths. It is available as a PDF download—ideal for photocopying and distributing for workshops and classrooms—and the full text is also shown at the link.
Once you’ve decided, check out WriterBeware, which has an excellent newsletter that does what it says on the label. Each issue reviews publishers that have caused problems for authors or that misrepresent themselves. These are often self-described as hybrid publishers, co-publishers or partner publishers. What this means, essentially, is that you pay them to publish. This may be worthwhile in some cases, but it’s helpful to know which of these companies are on the level. Worth signing up for.
Some of you will have attended Dreyer’s evening at the Westport Library on July17, where he discussed his book, Dreyer’s English. If you’re interested in getting your work edited, it might be helpful to know what kind of editing you need. Member Alex McNab has a blog post to enlighten you, describing the Five Stages of Editing.
Don’t forget to check out the Writers’ Calendar for more events for writers, and – keep writing!
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.
On May 30, at 5pm, the Writers’ Workshop Continue reading
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!