Writers Rendezvous – January update Part 1

Since yesterday was Inauguration Day, we had a smaller number of writers than usual, but that included some new members, which gave us a chance to get to know each other. I’m still loving the way Zoom meetings can expand my horizons, so I can meet people who would be unlikely to show up in person, because of distance. Here’s some of what we discussed.

If you like or write historical fiction, you may want to attend this virtual event at 7pm on Thursday, January 21. Darien Library and Barrett Bookstore will host authors Marie Benedict (The Mystery of Mrs. Christie), Melanie Benjamin, (The Children’s Blizzard), and Greer Macallister, (The Arctic Fury)  for a historical fiction panel that will delve into their most recent novels: The Children’s BlizzardThe Mystery of Mrs. Christie, and The Arctic Fury.  Register here.

Here’s an unusual Short Story Challenge run by NYC Midnight Movie Making Madness. This international creative writing competition, now in its fifteenth year, challenges participants to create original short stories in as little as 24 hours.  The challenge consists of four rounds.  In the first round—January 22-30—writers are placed randomly in groups and are assigned a genre, subject, and character. Writers have eight days to write an original story of no longer than 2,500 words. In further rounds, the number of words decreases, but so does the time allowed for writing the story. For more details, check here.  One of the benefits of this challenge is that feedback from the judges is provided for every submission and there are cash prizes for the winners.

Allison Dickens

The Westport Writers Workshops has many workshop classes, among them their popular series of One-off workshops on various topics of interest to writers. These include My Lessons In Self-Publishing with Libby Waterford and Allison Dickens this Saturday, January 23, from 10-12noon. Getting Your Book Published will be held on Saturday, February 6 (10a-12noon). Here’s one every novelist can use: Learn to Outline: How to Write a Novel and Not Lose Your Mind with Jessica Speart, on Saturday, February 20 from 10am-1pm. Others are available and WWW is always adding new ones.

Writer and teacher Tessa McGovern is offering a free one-hour writing sprint and ask-me-anything session every Tuesday at noon. Hosted by Westport Library, participants chat about successes and obstacles, write for an hour and then have 39 min  to ask Tessa anything about writing or publishing. More information and the link on her website (link above).

On January 27 at 7 pm The Connecticut Press Club is offering a virtual Boost Your Brand Workshop, led by Javacia Bowser. The workshop promises to teach you how to: define and convey who you are, what you want, and what you stand for as a writer; build relationships with other writers, bloggers, editors, and agents; use social media to manage your brand’s reputation, and grow your audience before you launch your book or blog. Free to Connecticut Press Club members, $15 for non-members. More information and registration here.

Courtesy of the Poets’ Salon, the Meetup for Poets: The Sunshine State Book Festival will be held online all day on Saturday, January 30. It will feature 100 authors writing in eighteen genres. You can preview a sampling of the author booths right now – each author will have their own video presentation and list of books to browse online. Free.

The Big Moose Prize contest is open to traditional novels as well as novels-in-stories, novels-in-poems, and other hybrid forms that contain within them the spirit of a novel. Each year Black Lawrence Press will award The Big Moose Prize for an unpublished novel. The prize is open to new, emerging, and established writers. The winner of this contest will receive book publication, a $1,000 cash award, and ten copies of the book. Prizes will be awarded on publication. Deadline January 31 and submissions are now open.

The Mark Twain House is offering a six-week online writing course with author Dana Meachen Rau (Who is series) for a six-week writing course! Each session runs on Zoom from 4 to 5:30 p.m every Thursday, February 11 through March 18. This six-week writing course is offered in conjunction with the Page to Stage Short Story Writing contest co-sponsored by The Bushnell and The Mark Twain House & Museum. More information to come! Registration is $150 and grants you access to all 6 sessions. This course is limited to 10 students. Registrants will receive a Zoom link in advance of the first class. Register here.

Member Elizabeth Chatsworth allowed me to interview her for her book launch last week. If you’d like to see how it went, here’s the link.

That’s about half the information for this month. Check out Monday’s post for more events, and ways to increase your book reviews, particularly before you launch.

Meanwhile, keep writing!

Writers’ Rendezvous – July update: Part 1

I’ve always thought that living here in Connecticut, we’re blessed with almost unlimited resources for writers. Nowadays, with so many meetings and events held on Zoom and similar platforms, distance is no bar to attending whatever you want. I’ve been making the most of this, joining write-in meetings with writers in California, Texas, The Carolinas, and even Canada and Europe. Much safer than actually traveling there. And I’ve made new friends along the way.

All the events listed here are via Zoom, and if I know the link I’ve included it.. If I don’t, I’ve shown you where to get it. The next Zoom event I’m running is a write-in on Mondays from 10-11:30am EST. Join us and write for two 45-minute sessions, It’s amazing how much writing gets done!

Next Tuesday evening, July 21, it’s time for WritersMic, our open mic session, from 7-9pm. You can come to read, or to listen. Contact me for the link if you’d like to be there. Or sign up at Meetup, which will provide the link immediately.

The Connecticut Chapter of the Romance Writers Association (CTRWA) is hosting a writers’ hang out via Zoom this evening, July 16 from 7-8pm. All fiction writers welcome.  The link is highlighted above.

The Westport Library has a couple of author events worth Continue reading

Writers’ Rendezvous: December update

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:

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Photo: Catherine Sebastian

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

Westport Writers Rendezvous: August update – Part 2

Happy you rejoined me. 🙂 And, as you will see if you read far enough, this is all about me.

The Brooklyn Book Festival will be held from September 16-23 in a variety of venues around Brooklyn (of course). It’s one of America’s premier book festivals and the largest free literary event in New York City. Presenting almost 200 national and international literary stars and emerging authors, the Festival includes a week of Bookend Events throughout New York City, a lively Children’s Day and a celebratory Festival Day with more than 300 authors plus 250 booksellers filling a vibrant outdoor Literary Marketplace (September 22).

The Westport Writers Workshop is signing people up for one-day Saturday workshops beginning in September. Among them are: Honing Your Pitch  with Allison Dickens,  (September 14), Facebook For Writers w/ Jessica Grunenberg  (September 21), Twitter For Writers, also with Jessica Grunenburg, Learn to Outline (How to Write a Novel & Not Lose Your Mind) with Jessica Speart on October 5, Revise and Love It with Marie Cordell (October 12). Each costs $75, and runs from 10-noon or 10-1pm.

SFestThe Saugatuck StoryFest runs from September 26-28 and kicks off with Beyond Earth: The Stories and Science of Space Continue reading

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – January update

I’m going to keep the intro short this month, since there’s a lot of ground to cover. Wednesday saw another great meeting, with old hands and new faces, and many successes to report. And here’s what’s coming up in the writing world of Fairfield County and environs:

This Saturday, January 19, Brian Hoover will be leading his monthly memoir writing workshop from 10:30-12:00, in the Bridgeport History Center, located in the main branch of the Bridgeport Public Library. Free.

The Connecticut Press Club is wrapping up submissions for this year’s contest. Anyone who lives or works in Connecticut is eligible to enter work published in 2018. Fees: $25 for the first entry and $15 for each additional entry. Deadline: midnight EST, January 22.

The Moth Mainstage comes to the Westport Playhouse on Friday, January 25, at 7:30PM for a one-night-only performance. Five storytellers, including Westport Continue reading

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – June update

Another great group of people showed up at Barnes & Noble in Westport today, and we had a good time, encouraging each other, and generally making the writing happen. Several people had things published, some rather unexpectedly. Kathryn Mayer had a piece she’d forgotten about published here, and if you have something to brag about, add it to the comments, so people can find it!

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WWR member Robert Steven Williams (author of My Year As a Clown) is one of the two creators of the film: Gatsby in Connecticut: The Untold Story, which will be shown on Thurs. June 21, 7pm at the Pequot Library in Southport. The filmmakers in this 2018 documentary argue Continue reading

Where I Write: Jessica Speart

One of my internet friends, Pauline Gaines of the Perils of Divorced Pauline, runs a regular series of posts called “Blogger Space” in which authors send in a photo of their workplace and write about it.

Jessica Speart

And I follow author Jessica Speart on Facebook and Goodreads. She writes a fun series of mystery novels (nine of them) about a  former actress Rachel Porter, who now works for the New Orleans Fish & Wildlife Service, uncovering and solving crimes in the Louisiana bayous. Her latest book, Winged Obsession, is a non-fiction account of real butterfly smuggling, and it reads like a thriller. So when I saw a photo of her on Facebook, sitting at her laptop with what appeared to be a large furry cat on her lap, I needed to do some investigating myself. And she was gracious enough to answer my questions, even though I had mistaken her dog for a cat, and some of her answers were completely unpredictable…

P.S. A note on blogging etiquette: I checked in with Pauline, who kindly said that she didn’t mind if I adapted her idea and ran it as an interview format. Thanks, Pauline!

GC:  I couldn’t help noticing from your photo that you had a dog on your lap.  What can you tell us about that?

JS: Josie is a Lhasapoo.(I believe this is a Lhasa apso/poodle mix. GC)  She’s a rescue dog that I brought back to Connecticut from Anchorage, Alaska.  I was attending the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention a few years ago and was presented with the idea of taking Josie home with me just minutes before boarding the plane. The decision turned out to be easier than figuring out how to get a dog with “cage aggression” into a soft-sided carry-on bag.  Yet, I somehow accomplished it. She wouldn’t calm down and I ended up hiding her under a blanket on my lap for the entire trip home.  She’s become my constant shadow and writing companion.  She wasn’t feeling very well that day and I wanted to make her comfortable.  A pillow on my lap did the trick.  It’s amazing what we’ll do to accommodate our pets.

GC:  Where do you usually write?

JS: It varies.  There are lots of windows and sunlight in the kitchen.   I like to write there when my husband isn’t home.  Otherwise, I lock myself in my bedroom and office during the day.  It’s become a No Trespassing zone.

GC:  What time of day feels most productive for your writing?

JS: I work best in the morning.  Too many other things are on my mind by the time 3 pm rolls around.

GC:  What’s your favorite snack to have around when you write?

JS: Now we’re getting into dangerous territory.  As Mae West said, “When I’m good, I’m very good.  But when I’m bad, I’m better.”  On a good day, I’ll snack on almonds.  On a bad day, it’s definitely dark chocolate.

GC:   What’s the last book you finished in this spot, and what are you working on in the photo?

JS: The last book I finished was my narrative nonfiction Winged Obsession.  Right now, I’m working on a thriller that has nothing to do with wildlife.  At least, not that kind of wildlife.

So, with a dog, some almonds and some dark chocolate, you, too, can be a successful writer…In the meantime,you can find Jessica on her very attractive website, on her author Facebook page: and on Twitter.