Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – September update

We had our usual great meeting. I’m always amazed at how, in spite of being unscripted, we learn new things, meet new friends and feel good after. If you think you might want to start your own, let me know and I’ll be happy to give you some pointers.

aliceOn Saturday, October 8, from 10-12.30pm, Alice Mattison will present a Master Class at the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio in Westport. She is the author of six novels, including When We Argued All Night, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Her guide to writing, The Kite and the String: How to Write with Spontaneity and Control—and Live to Tell the Tale, is included in the fee for the workshop. Check out the FCWS website for details on this hands-on way to jump start a stalled story or begin a new one.

Try to see Patti Smith in conversation hosted by the Mark Twain House in Hartford on October 13 from 7-9pm. By all accounts (people who heard her in New Haven) she gives a great talk. Tickets are $25, and you should book soon. I think they will sell out fast. Her memoir, The M Train, got rave reviews earlier this year.

WESTPORT WRITES – at the Westport Public Library

For those wanting an introduction to Scrivener, the writing software, The Westport Public Library’s Westport Writes program is offering a free introductory class at 6.30pm on Monday September 26, with a follow-up class on the 28th.  This is a good way to see how Scrivener can help you be a better organized writer. I couldn’t manage my writing without it.

Chris Friden, the teacher of this workshop, will be among the faculty at The Fairfield County Writers’ Studio – who are planning a wide range of classes, master classes and seminars this fall. Please check them out here. There’s something for you here, beginner, professional or a fiction writer who wants to try essay writing.

The following week, on Sunday, October 2, novelist Stephanie Lehman – Thoughts While Having Sex, Are You in the Mood?, You Could do Better and The Art of Undressing– will be doing a workshop on Planning Your Novel.

On Saturday, October 15th, The Westport Library is having its annual CrimeCONN Mystery Conference from 9-5pm.  I went last year and thoroughly enjoyed it.  You can see some of the interviews I did with the authors (Chris Knopf, Daniel Handler, Liz Mugavero, Lucy Burdette)in previous blog posts. The cost is $25, and you’ll need to register in advance. You can find the list of author, and police detectives/crime experts here.

On the same day, there’s an Open write in of the Fairfield County Writers’ Group, a drop-in event where you can join other writers to sit and write among friends from 1-4pm. If you’re practicing for NaNoWriMo, This could be useful, and if you want to get an early start on this month-long November novel-writing challenge, you can do so at the library, with an overnight write-in beginning at 12.01am on November 1. With 50,000 words as your goal, it might be as well to plunge right in

Writers Read will be happening On Tuesday evening, October 4, from 7-9pm at the Fairfield Public Library. Come and read some of your writing to a supportive non-judgmental audience.

On Friday, October 7, from 4-6pm, the Writers’ Salon is hoping to host an experienced local editor for a question and answer session. To be confirmed.

FCWS will be starting a season of monthly open mic readings on Thursday October  6th  from 6.30-8pm in Westport. You can choose simply to read for 3-5 minutes, without a critique. Or you can sign up to get feedback on how to improve your performance, and perhaps be filmed

Get all the details here and contact faculty member Linda Legters at info@fcwritersstudio.com for more information.

On a completely different topic, I’ve begun using AutoCrit, an editing software that can help you get your work into better shape before you hire a professional editor. I discovered that I have a few writing tics, and writing ‘that’ as I just did, is one of them. So, to rephrase – I discovered I have a few writing tics. Another of them is overusing ‘after all’. The program can do much more complex analysis, but I’m not ready for that yet (sentence length, pacing, dialogue and more). After all, I’m just a novice…Check it out.

I met successful self-published author PJ Sharon the other day, whom I’m hoping to interview for the blog in a week or two. She has many great ideas for how to make that success happen. You can see for yourself how she’s doing, here. One suggestion she made for self-published authors was to donate a copy of your eBook to your local library, for people to borrow digitally. And apart from the YA books and other fiction she writes, she’s written a book called Overcome your Sedentary Lifestyle – perfect for writers.

It looks as though it’s going to be a busy autumn. Happy writing!

 

 

 

 

 

Author interview: Mystery novelist Liz Mugavero

10373501_765649160143822_7087428646949612550_nLiz Mugavero is a writer determined to make a living with her writing. Right now, she works in marketing and writes at night (she’s been writing since high school). Based on the mystery series she’s writing, the Pawsitively Organic Mysteries, I’d guess that she’ll succeed. I read A Biscuit, A Casket, which has a Halloween setting in the otherwise charming Connecticut town of Frog Hollow (sadly imaginary, I think). It’s actually the second book in the series followed by The Icing on the Corpse, which came out earlier this year. The first, Kneading to Die, is an Agatha Award nominee, and shows how Stan got to Frog Ledge and turned into a pet chef. I had a few questions for her about how she came to write the series.
She will also be part of the New England Crime Bake, a crime-writing conference in Dedham, Mass, from November 6-8 for those of you who can make it.512d23aChTL

GC: I enjoyed A Biscuit, A Casket – it’s a truly original concept for a cozy mystery. Did you pitch a publisher with the idea, or did they pitch you? (Or tell me how you got the idea and then got it published.)

LM: Thanks for having me here, Gabi! And so glad you enjoyed Biscuit. .Sisters in Crime New England is the reason this series was born. My agent, John Talbot, contacted then-president Sheila Connolly looking for writers to develop cozy proposals. She put the call out to the entire membership and I was one of the writers who responded. We talked about my interests and how we could turn that into an idea that would sell and came up with gourmet pet food. I wrote a proposal and it sold less than two months later, and that was where it all started!
GC: Writing a series must be a little like writing a soap opera, in the sense that you have to have an underlying storyline that continues from book to book. How hard has it been to come up with a cliff-hanger at the end of a book?

LM: I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Stan’s character arc – to me, it’s just as important as the mysteries. So as Stan makes the transition from corporate girl to taking ownership of her business and her life in ways she never really has, she’s growing and changing all the time. She’s looking very closely at relationships in her life, ending some, making new ones, revisiting family issues. The cliffhangers have come from those explorations, and to my delight they’ve manifested quite nicely in each book (so far!).
GC: I know you have another career that must take up quite a bit of your time. How on earth do you find time to get the books written?

LM: That’s a great question! I’ll let you know when I figure out a good answer….

I am on a constant quest to improve my time management skills, and also to be more of a plotter than a pantser. (For those of you not familiar with the terms, plotters plan out the book in advance while pantsers write into the headlights!) I’ve gotten better at that, mainly because deadlines are a great time management boost, but also because I discovered a fabulous book about plotting that’s changed my life. Plot Perfect by Paula Munier – if you’re a writer, buy it! It gives you an easy-to-follow guide to creating your story that makes a ton of sense. I can’t recommend it enough. And even for a pantser like me, sketching out the big picture has made a big difference in focusing my time and attention.

GC: Who writes the recipes for the pet treats?

LM: For the first book, I muddled through the recipes. I didn’t love it, largely because I felt very time-crunched because of the reasons above. Then as I was getting into the second book, fate brought The Big Biscuit into my life. It’s a pet food bakery in Franklin, MA and the owner at the time agreed to become my consultant and provided me with recipes. When he sold the business to his baker, she agreed to keep up the tradition. The treats are lovely and I know they’re healthy, just like Stan wants!

GC: Your heroine is called Stan. How did you come up with that name? And, of course, what’s in store for our heroine Stan in the future?

LM: In a previous iteration of my day job, I was asked to do a colleague a favor during a business trip and get a video of someone in a field office. My colleague didn’t tell me anything about this person, just to “call Stan.” When I called Stan, I expected an older, balding man smoking a cigar on the other end of the line. Instead I got a young blond woman, and I thought, Wow! What a great nickname for a woman to catch people off guard. So I stole it!Murder Most Finicky

In the future, I expect to see Stan evolving more as her own person and businesswoman. In Murder Most Finicky, coming out in December, she’s still navigating the idea of what working for herself looks like after a celebrity chef sets his sights on her as the next big thing. This book was a lot of fun to write. Stan’s stepped out of Frog Ledge in this one, and takes a trip to her home state of Rhode Island where her family is unexpectedly involved in the murder that unfolds.

Stan will also continue to figure out her personal relationships, both with her family and with Jake. I’m excited to see how that will evolve as she starts to take down the carefully-constructed walls she built over the years to focus on external success. She’s really come a long way. I’m proud of her!

You can connect with Liz  on Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter