Ten of us gathered for the Westport Writers’ Rendezvous on Wednesday, and applause was in the air, because that evening we celebrated the Ct Press Club Awards with a smashing party at the Delamar Hotel in Southport, CT. Novelist Jane Green, presented the awards, and kept the party moving. Among winning members and friends were: Alison McBain, Deborah Levison, Ann Lineberger, Megan Smith-Harris, Aline Weiller, Kate Mayer, Diane Lowman, Catherine Onyemelukwe, Heather Frimmer, Marlou and Laurie Newkirk, Gina Zammit, Lauren Busser, and Sarah Galluzzo. It was wonderful to be in such good company.
Thanks for following my blog, and for letting me know that you find it useful. Hope you find Part 2 helpful, too. You can read Part 1 by following the link at the bottom of the page.
On Wednesday, May 15, at 6pm, the CT Press Club will be hosting its awards evening at the Delamar Hotel in Southport, CT. Congratulations to the many winners who are part of the Rendezvous family, including Ann Lineberger, Kate Mayer, Catherine Onyemelukwe, Lauren Busser, Gina Zammit, MarLou Newkirk and Alison McBain. Looking forward to seeing you at the event. 🙂
There’s so much going on that I’ve split the latest update into two again. More to follow next week. I’m delighted to report that several of our members have been contest winners recently. Connecticut Press Club Awards went to Kate … Continue reading
I wasn’t able to be at Wednesday’s get-together, but I understand members had lots of positive happenings to report, which is fantastic. Alex McNab hosted in my place, and did a great job, I’m told. Thanks, Alex. A local storytelling … Continue reading
It’s as though the entire writing world has woken up at once and is raring to go. If you’re not prepping for NaNoWriMo, or going to mini-conferences, you’re probably at write-ins, or book signings. And among the main providers of opportunities for writers are the local libraries. Read on for activities in Westport, Darien, New Rochelle and Durham… A propos of NaNoWriMo, where your daily counts soon become an obsession, member Elizabeth Chatsworth recommends a useful goal-setting tool for checking your progress called Pacemaker. And it’s free.
Sunday, October 22, 1-5pm Darien Library: Get ready for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) by developing your plot in during the Busy Writer’s One Hour PlotWorkshop. The hardest part of plotting is just building a workable framework so you can get on with the actual writing. Taught by Roman Godzich – free. While you’re at it, check out their Writers’ Workshop (next one on November 16, 7-8.30pm).
Saturday, October 28, 12 – 2:30pm: Member Susan Israel will be reading from and signing her books at Elm Street Books in New Canaan
Saturday, November 4, from 1-5pm: At the Durham Public Library – A Writing Workshop with Alice Mattison: Join acclaimed novelist and writing teacher Alice Mattison to explore the question, “What Does Your Novel Want?” Space limited. Registration required Register Online or call (860) 349-9544, ext. 1.
Saturday, November 4, 1-4pm: WestportWRITES mini-conference: Discovering the Feminist YA Voice with Authors Jennifer Mathieu and Micol Ostow. At the Westport Library. Free.
Sunday, November 5, 1-5pm: WestportWRITES mini-conference: Write Your World, exploring writing that celebrates a more inclusive world. Features a keynote by author and Lambda Literary Award finalist Chavisa Woods (Things to Do When You’re Goth in the Country). Novelist and Chocolatier Nikki Woolfolk will present an interactive workshop exploring race and representation in storytelling. And author Stephen Graham Jones (Mapping the Interior, My Hero) At the Westport Library. Free.
Preceding every mini-conference, there is a Writers Survival Camp at noon (register online) that focuses on activities to help you survive the writing life.
Westport Library Write-In: Come work on your novel in the company of other writers. As if that weren’t enough, they are planning a new podcast series: One-Shot Stories from the Westport Library, as well as a WestportWRITES compilation/anthology to be published on their newly acquired Espresso Machine. (See my earlier blog post to find out what that is!)
I found this interesting article from Amazon: A publishing checklist for authors. This is part of a new Beta service/blog called author insights, and offers a simple way of knowing what Amazon wants/expects you to do, if nothing else.
Once you have all your ducks in a row, there are several ways to pitch your work, and those of us who’ve tried them have had some success. The first three Pitch Mad, Pitch Madness and Pitch Wars, which takes place every August. They’re run by author Brenda Drake. Pitch Wars offers a two month mentorship for winning submissions to help get you an agent. Pitch Madness is a contest held every March, where writers enter for a chance to win requests from the participating agents. Writers submit a 35-word (max) pitch and the first 250 words of their completed manuscript on submission day. Then a team of readers choose the top sixty (60) entries to go onto the agent round. #PitMad is a pitch party on Twitter where writers tweet a 140 character pitch for their completed, polished, unpublished manuscripts. It takes place quarterly, and the next one is scheduled for December 7, 2017.
These contests work – there’s proof on the site.
Another, similar idea, is offered on Query Kombats, by Melissa Hauck. The rules are a bit complicated, since it’s a knockout contest, so hit the link to find out more. Her second contest is Nightmare on Query Street, whose submissions closed today, but at least you have time to plan ahead for next year…
If you need a hand finishing your work, you can take an online class with Catapult.com. One of our members is trying one, and promises to let us know what she thinks of it.
Lastly, here’s an intriguing, not to say, Quixotic, place to submit a hundred word story (or two). The César Egido Serrano Foundation is a non-profit whose objective is to use words and dialogue to promote understanding between different cultures and religions. The competition first prize is $20,000 for the best short story. All entries will be evaluated by an international jury of great prestige, and the finalist’s stories will be published. A maximum of two stories per person of no more than 100 words each, should be submitted via this link.
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!
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.
The Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence is holding their fourth annual Publish and Promote your Book Conference on June 24.
And if you’re not at that point, perhaps you’d like their Joe PapaleoWriters’ Workshop in Cetara, Italy, July 8-15, which combines writing and painting.
Member Bernice Roque has provided a link to the new blog article, the first part of a 3-part series. It gives you ideas for organizing your book project more effectively. Check it out.
Writers Digest has an interesting post with suggestions of what to do after attending a writing conferences
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.
Writers’ Relief, that very reliable service for writers, now offers web design services. Even if you don’t use them, their blog is worth signing up for, because of its writing tips. Here’s the latest on the evolving trends in author web design:
November get-together began with a discussion of the recent election. Having got that off our collective chest, we agreed writing might be a way to deal with the situation. With that in mind, there’s plenty going on in the writing world.
First, I need to thank Kate Mayer for her great blog post about holding oneself accountable. She’s been writing a blog post a day throughout November as a challenge to herself, which I know she’s going to complete. She gives the Rendezvous some credit for helping her achieve her goals, and I know our meetings have something to do with it, because she’s not the only one. Reason enough to show up!
On December 16, the Fairfield Public Library will be hosting a one-day (9-5) panel, So You Want to Write a Children’s Book featuring Patricia Reilly Giff, Susan Hood, Susan Ross, Christine Pakkala and former workshop instructor Michaela MacColl, Rosemary Wells, Tony Abbott and about a dozen other top names in children’s publishing. Free, but you need to register.
If you’re writing for children, FCWS is offering a class beginning on December 2, Writing for Middle Graders and Young Adults. Taught by Nora Raleigh Baskin, the six classes will run for seven weeks (not on the 16th – see above) on Fridays, 12 – 2 p.m.
A propos, it’s time to sign up for new writing classes/workshops if you’re interested. All three Westport sources are offering them, so check them out here:
Byrd’s Books in Bethel runs a series of classes on writing by Judith Marks-White. The next one is on December 4, at 3pm, and costs $20. Email events@ByrdsBooks.com or call (203) 730-2973 for moe information.
The magazine Poets & Writers, is holding a conference: Inspiration, in San Francisco on January 14-15, 2017. (Feels strange to be moving into 2017 already…) It’s far from here, of course, but their line-up of speakers includes Juan Felipe Herrera; best-selling novelist and author of Purity, Jonathan Franzen; New Yorker staff writer and author of The Orchid Thief, Susan Orlean; acclaimed poet and former United States Poet Laureate Kay Ryan; writer and activist Ishmael Reed; and renowned poet Jane Hirshfield. And the Early bird registration (up to December 4) is only $175. You can’t beat that.
Here’s an interesting article on 9 Important Legal T ips For Self-Publishing Memoir And Nonfiction. It’s from Self-publishing Relief, and offshoot of Writers’ Relief, and worth a read.
And if you are self-publishing, here are some books on how to deal with copyright: How Authors Sell Publishing Rights, by Orna Ross and Helen Sedwick; The Copyright Handbook and Kris Rusch’s Business blog posts. Kris also has a new book on Contracts coming out soon. Ross and Sedwick have also produced a podcast to help you get started, called Business Mindset Means a Rights Mindset.
Creative Non-Fiction is calling for submissions on a variety of topics for upcoming issues. They include science and religion; adapting to new situations; real life Frankenstein stories; and stories for their new monthly True Story publication (one story of 5-10,00 words per issue).
Kate Mayer also told us about attending Bindercon, the conference and community for women and gender variant writers. (I feel very clued in just typing that.) It’s a bi-coastal conference, and Kate went to the NYC one at the end of October. There’s another in LA from April 1-2, if you’re in that neck of the woods. For more info about the organization and the conference, click here, or check their Facebook page.
Writers Read is taking place on Tuesday, December 6, at the Fairfield Public Library from 7-9. It will be the last one hosted by Alex McNab, so I’d love you to come, even if not to read, to say thanks to Alex for hosting it for so long. Because of the way the days fall in December, the Writers’ Salon will be ther eon the 2nd, from 4-6. Hope to see you there.
At the halfway mark for NaNoWriMo, I keep bumping into people who are giving it a go. I did mine a few years ago, and I recommend it as a great way to learn to write without self-censoring. When I printed out the first draft, I made a title page ‘Horrible First Draft’, which it was. But at least I had a novel to work on. Among the writers I’ve run into are Tessa McGovern, of the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio, who’s also helped organize a series of events for NaNo writers at the Westport Library – putting her money where her mouth is, I guess. She was right on schedule with her novel.
At a talk given by the redoubtable Alice Mattison on Thursday, I was able to encourage a poet who was writing a novel and had got to the ‘Oh my god, this will never work,’ stage. She looked a bit more cheerful after, I think.
And yesterday I met a 13-year-old, working on her second one, which according to her teacher, contains inappropriate material (underage drinking) and is too gory (vampires will do that…). Sounds good.
Have a great Thanksgiving!
It’s been a week since the last Westport Writers’ Rendezvous, and I should have published this post sooner. But I was away over the weekend, and I was doing some of my own writing, too, which all writers understand (I hope) has to come first. It was a great meeting, as ever, with several new faces, and there was a lot to talk about. Far from slowing down in the summer, the number of author workshops and events seems to be multiplying.
Among the upcoming events we discussed were the Memoir Workshop on June 25th in Westport. Run by The Company of Writers, the cost is normally $300 (including lunch), but the organizer, Terence Hawkins, is offering a specially discounted rate of $200 to Writers’ Rendezvous members. The workshop leader is Blanche Boyd, a professor at Connecticut College, and a published writer.
BTW, The Company of Writers’ website also offers a list of indie presses, most of which accept direct submissions from writers. The site is worth a look.
Also on the 25th is a workshop run by Jan Kardys of the Unicorn Writers’ Conference, in Newtown, CT. It’s called: You Wrote a Book – Now What? Click on the link to can check it out.
June 26th sees an interesting development in book launches. Nora Raleigh Baskin, middle grade and YA novelist will launch her latest novel, Nine, Ten: A September 11th Story, on Facebook at 8pm. Check it out – it’s an intriguing new idea.
On June 28th, The Westport Library is offering a 2-part workshop called Writing Scripts for Television. It will be run by GiGi News. Part 1 is on June 28th and part 2 takes place on August 25 – both from 6.30-8.30pm. Register here.
Barnes and Noble in Westport, CT, is running a couple of excellent events next week. On June 29th, at 7pm, authors Nora Raleigh Baskin, Linda Legters and Stephanie Lehmann will discuss their paths to publication and changing views of success and art. Free. (Click here for my interview with Linda Legters.)
Alex McNab wanted me to remind you of these other events:
Tues, June 28, 2 pm: Afternoon Tea with Author (The Bridge Ladies, The Forest for the Trees [about writing & editing from editor’s perspective]) Betsy Lerner at Fairfield Public Library, free.
Tues, July 5, 7-9pm Writers Read and Fri, June 8, 4-6pm Writers’ Salon at Fairfield Public Library, free.
Tues, Aug 23, 6-8pm DartFrog Books publishers are offering a pitch session for self-published authors at Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT. Look for the sign-up form at http://dartfrogbooking.setmore.com/
One of our members is still soldiering on, checking out book marketing companies. It’s not easy to know who, among the crowded book marketing sector, can actually deliver in terms of book recognition, never mind sales. There are various companies that offer packages of services, but the consensus seemed to be that these aren’t likely to provide much in the way of promotion, and one is better off going it alone.
Which led us to a discussion of the value of editors – this without any prompting from me. As you know, I have a bee in my bonnet about editing, and it turned out that we had three among us. They agreed that it as best to submit 10 pages to an editor before hiring them, since the writer and editor must be compatible – on the same page, so to speak. This makes sense to me, because there are as many different styles and points of view as there are writers. If you’d like me to put you in touch with them, let me know in the comments.
For those wanting to print copies of their own book, the Espresso Machine by On Demand Books is located in New York, and can print your book while you wait. I’ve used it to print the first draft of one of my terrible novels, and I found it very useful for editing, since I left it in Courier type and double-spaced, so I could make written changes. (What is doesn’t do is improve the terrible first draft…)Much easier than doing it all on the computer. The machine itself is located in Shakespeare & Co, the independent bookstore on Lexington Avenue, and the company now offers other self-publishing tools as well.
Our most frequently published member, Ed Ahern, publishes short stories in many places, among them Ember and Spark. Recently, one of his stories, published by them, was accepted for a project that brings stories to young readers in eBook form to encourage them to read. And there’s a strong possibility it will be made into an audio version by Audible, too. The project is being coordinated by Plympton, so check them out. If I gave you all the details, it would be another whole post, but I’ll ask Ed to tell us more at the next Rendezvous.
Ed found Ember and Spark via Duotrope – it works, people!
Kate also mentioned that she’d been paid to be a beta reader of a book. We all need beta readers for our own work, so if you know how to find them, let me know.
Write on, until next month!