Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – October update

We had our usual excellent get-together on Wednesday, and as always, we covered a lot of ground, from upcoming events, to publishing ideas. Here are some of the many upcoming events in our part of the world:

For the poets among us, the Dodge Poetry Festival is happening in Newark this year from October 20-23.

The Fairfield County Writers’ Studio in Westport will be hosting an open mic on October 29th from 2-4pm. Different from other open mics, in that, if you choose,  you can have your performance critiqued  – with helpful suggestions for improving your presentation.

Book Riot is a website/podcast/newsletter for readers about reading. Their conference, Book Riot Live takes place in New York from November 12-13, and will have a host of speakers, including Walter Mosley, among others.

The Groton Public Library will be hosting its Annual Authors’ Festival on November 5, from 12-3pm. Over forty Connecticut authors will be there, reading, signing books, and giving attendees a chance to talk to them one-on-one. They’ll have refreshments and door prizes, too. Call 860-441-6750 for more information.51eenpcnryl

And finally, Susan Israel, our own crime novelist, will be in conversation with author Jim Valeri at Banks Square Books in Mystic on November 15th from 6-730pm. She’ll be talking about her latest book, Student Bodies.

In other news, the Connecticut Author Directory highlights the literary heritage of our state through a compilation of contemporary and historical author profiles. It’s compiled by the CT Center for the Book. If you live in Connecticut (or were born here but live somewhere else), have produced work while living in CT, written at least one single-author book, and your book is available for purchase or in libraries, you’re eligible to be included. If you’ve self-published, but your book has been reviewed by professional literature journals, you’re also eligible.

And talking of reviews, Kirkus Reviews is offering a 5 Step Marketing Guide that will walk you through the 5 most successful steps to marketing your book. Topics covered include: Ways to establish credibility as an author, guidance on how to leverage your current or future paid endorsements, instruction for selling your book rights – which can be the most lucrative result of independent publishing, and direction on how to invest your money into selling your book. All useful stuff.

Authors First, which bills itself as a virtual writers’ conference, is running its third annual novel competition, open to any work of previously unpublished fiction 40,000 words or longer. The winner will get $5,000 and a contract to publish with the Story Plant, a Stamford, CT publisher. Submission guidelines here.

Those of you Nano’ing this year will want to participate in the Westport Library’s encouraging events. On October 31, they have an all-night write in, starting at midnight, with coffee and snack available, to get you off to a flying start. And to finish the month, there’s a last-minute write-out (new one on me, but you get the drift. GC) from 9pm-midnight. Details of these and other writing events on the Library website.

Jan Kardys, literary agent and organizer of the Unicorn Writers’ Conference, has a Meetup for people interested in book publishing. She covers some of the same ground we do, but it’s possible to have work critiqued too.

Beyond your Blog, a website for bloggers, has an interesting article on the main reasons bloggers lose their connection with readers. It begins with ‘sporadic publishing’ and gores on through readers’ pet peeves (bad writing/editing) and more. Worth a read for almost any social media efforts you’re making.

Writers Read will be at the Fairfield Public Library from 7-9 on Tuesday, November 1, and the Writers’ Salon will be there at 4pm on Friday November 4th. I, on the other hand, will be out of the country.

Enjoy the Autumn!




My real name is not Gabi Coatsworth

It’s my husband, Jay. He keeps asking me why I don’t use my proper name when I’m writing. According to him (and the US Passport office, and Social Security), my name is Gabi Coatsworth Wilson. And he could do without the Coatsworth part. That’s because Coatsworth is the name of my first husband.

Here’s the thing. When I divorced my first husband, I kept the name Coatsworth, because my maiden name (was I ever a maiden…?) was Grajnert. It was a German name that had been Polonised over the years from Greinert to Grajnert – same pronunciation, different spelling. No-one in England could pronounce it when I was growing up, and Coatsworth was such a relief – it sounded so British, and people knew how to say it.

Then I moved to the US and married Jay – sorry, William J. Wilson, and the world became more complicated. At first I was thrilled to be Mrs W.J. Wilson. But my kids’ teachers insisted on calling me Mrs. Coatsworth whenever they called me to report some new piece of erratic behavior. I think Jay was quite glad that the Wilson name wasn’t being tarnished as a result.

Then I got a job at British Airways. I’d applied as Gabi Coatsworth because that was the name on my resume, and I had a reputation of sorts. Jay complained:

“You’ve got the job – why don’t you tell them your real name is Wilson?” he said.

I checked the British Airways telephone book for the USA. There were 12 Wilsons in it already. And no Coatsworth. So that decision was easy.

When I started writing, Jay was thrilled. No more resumes, he figured.

“Now you can be Gabi Wilson,” he pointed out.

I had something to point out to him.

“Wilson,” I explained, “is near the end of the alphabet. I don’t want my bestselling novels to be shelved so low that people will have to crouch to find them. It’s so…undignified.”

“On the other hand,” I continued, “Coatsworth comes near the beginning of the alphabet, and will be shelved higher up. Besides,” I said and this clinched it for me – “I’m only competing with Elizabeth Coatsworth. She wrote children’s books and died in 1986, so essentially I’ll have Coatsworth to myself.”

Since then, my husband has continued to remind me, rather sadly, that I am his wife, and should be proud to have his name. I am proud. Honestly. But have you googled Gabi Wilson recently?

Here she is – multi-talented, piano, guitar and a great bluesy voice. And she’s about 14….  She’s fabulous too. But I could never hope to compete with her….Listen to this: http://youtu.be/BsXOuT5oF5w

And Holy Cow – now I hear she published a book of poems when she was 8. You can buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/Anything-Earth-Poems-Gabriella-Wilson/dp/1598790838

So, a veritable child prodigy. But I don’t despair. People will have to crouch down to find that book…