Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – June update

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.edi

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.)

And the day after, June 30th, also at 7pm, our very own Susan Israel, crime writer, will be launching her latest novel – Student Bodies. If it’s anything like the last, it will be a great beach read.

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!

And Kate Mayer recommended a site for freelance writers who want to make money writing: The International Freelancer. Check it out.

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – March Update

We had another great meeting on Wednesday, which brought up a number of new ideas – some about publishing. Here’s a blog post about why it’s a good idea to publish via Amazon. This article includes links to others which tell you how to format your file and give you suggested templates.

imagesAnd this is an article about how one sells publishing rights, for those who need to know.

In upcoming events, on March 31st at 7pm, Write Yourself Free is sponsoring a free workshop with Victoria Sherrow on Writing for Kids. Please email Tish Fried at tishpatrick@mail.com to register.

Sisters in Crime, New England, are having a read-in (I invented that word. GC) on Saturday, April 16th from 1.30-3.30 at the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio in Westport. Connecticut mystery writers will be reading from their books and there’ll be a chance to mix and mingle with them afterwards. In the morning, the FCWS will offer a writing workshop called Mystery 101 from 9.30am-noon.

And the day after, same location, Joyce Maynard, NYT bestselling author, in conversation with award-winning author Nora Raleigh Baskin (4/17 at 7p.m.)

The Creative Nonfiction Writers’ Conference will be held from May 27-29 in Pittsburgh this year. Meetings with literary agents are available. More details here.

For some reason, we had quite a discussion about writing poetry. It turns out there are a number of places where poets can meet others and get feedback. One of our Meetup members, Rona, sent me information about the regular meeting on Tuesday nights (7.30pm) at Curley’s Diner in Stamford. One of our regulars, Leslie Chess Feller, wondered whether the group would consider light verse as poetry (see my interview with her here)
The Bigelow Senior Center in Fairfield is the location for a Poets’ Roundtable every first and third Thursday of the month at 1pm. The gentle critique group is run by Emerson Gilmore.
And Garrison Keillor is offering five thousand dollars in prize money to the seven winners of “‘Poems of Gratitude: The Fourth Annual Common Good Books Poetry Contest. Submissions due by April 15th, only one poem per person, guidelines here.

Sophronia Scott is organizing a series of readings by Connecticut writers (not an open mic) at the C.H. Booth Library in Newtown CT. The next one is May 1st from 2-4pm and she already has some good authors lined up. It’s a good chance to meet published writers and ask them about their work.

The Westport Writers’ Workshop is now taking registrations for their Spring workshops here.

Writer’s Relief has an email newsletter you might find interesting. It includes submission listings as well as interesting articles on publishing, editing etc.

Meeting regular, Jacque Masumian, sent me details of her newly published short story “Out of the Park,” now available in the January issue of the on-line journal Still Crazy , only until the end of March. She explained that the download costs $4 payable through Paypal, so if you have a Paypal account and can manage it, please take a look. She’d love some feedback. My question is: Who gets the $4? I hope it’s Jacque.

Bernice Rocque sent details of Carol Bodensteiner’s blog post about her advertising experience with Book Bub which resulted in her second book being picked up by Lake Union, Amazon’s traditional publishing company. Bernice commented that she thinks they rarely agree to promote newly published books. But the article is fascinating because the author gives you actual numbers of books sold, money made etc. Sounds like good value to me.

Alex McNab mentioned the Muse and The Marketplace conference to be held in Boston from April 29th-May1st this year. He sent me three links, in hierarchical order, to Grub Street, the conference, and the manuscript-evaluation sessions. Go for it!

Ed Ahern, our most avid submissions guy (and therefore the most frequently published), mentioned that Duotrope now has listings for podcasts you can submit your mp3 files to. Sounds interesting (geddit?). He is also reading for Bewildering Stories, which is looking for flash fiction (defined as up to 1,000 words). Submit here

Kate Mayer talked about Listen To Your Mother, a storytelling production that
takes the audience on a well-crafted journey that celebrates and validates mothering through giving voice to motherhood–in all of its complexity, diversity, and humor–in the form of original readings performed live on-stage by their authors. (I didn’t write that, BTW. GC) Cities and auditions are usually announced Dec/January and auditions are February, so the shows are decided for this year, but it’s something to keep in mind. .

And here, in a burst of shameless self-promotion (I’m quoting her, here), is the video of Kate from the 2012 NYC performance.

Author Interview: Nora Raleigh Baskin

280493I met Nora Raleigh Baskin at the Unicorn Writers’ Conference in August and was interested to find that she was a prolific writer of middle grade novels, who’s been writing since she was in 5th grade. I read YA novels from time to time, but I wasn’t sure what to expect from a middle grade one. So I read her latest book Ruby on the Outside, because it dealt with a topic I hadn’t seen covered anywhere else in children’s books. It’s about a girl whose mother is in prison for life, convicted of being an accessory to murder. There are many questions about truth and lies, friendship and family, as well as some spot-on characterizations of 11 year-old girls. Apart from being a page-turner, it offers the reader hope that he/she doesn’t have to stay ‘on the outside.’ After reading the book I had some questions for her.

GC: Ruby on the Outside is your 12th novel for middle graders. This is a relatively new genre in terms of marketing. Why did you choose to write for this age group?
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NRB: I’m not sure how new this genre is. I think the YA spin-off is the one that marketers have really jumped all over. Middle grade is what we used to just call Children’s books. It’s what most of us remember from school, Nancy Drew, E.L. Konigsburg, A Wrinkle in Time. In fact, as a writer I feel that these publisher/library imposed categories are very limiting but that’s a whole other topic of conversation. I write for all ages. I write for myself. I write the stories I needed to tell and when I told that story (my first book in 2001) in a 6th grader’s voice it worked best. And so that’s where I mostly stayed.

GC: Your books are often about outsiders. Is there some particular reason why you find these characters interesting?

NRB: I have a strong feeling that all writers, to one degree or another, at one time in their life, or still, feel like outsiders and so have become observers. Writers are viewers, watching and listening and analyzing the world as they see it, and as they want others to see it. For me, it began when I was three and a half and my mother committed suicide but the truth was kept from me for many years. This disconnect between what I had witnessed as a child and what I was being told created an “I-don’t-belong” sensibility. From a very early age I became a “truth-seeker” and that is what I do in my writing to this day.

GC: What’s the most fun thing about being a middle grade author?

NRB: Interesting question. Being a writer is a great profession but writing for children is an added responsibility, at least I believe so. I’m not sure if that qualifies as fun, but is it what makes being a middle grade author important. Just like middle school teachers, who can play very important roles in a child’s life (more so than any other age in many ways), I care about what I write and how it is going to be read by children. I feel deeply that I need to write stories that are realistic and do not offer false hope, but do offer hope. And that present characters of strength, acceptance, and resiliency.
GC: Do you get direct feedback from fans about your books? And do they comment on your amazing ability to capture a young person’s voice?

51Q7daYMuQLNRB: With the internet, Twitter, and FB I get more feedback than I’ve ever gotten. I’ve gotten requests from students doing book reports, complaints from parents about some minor (I mean, teeny tiny) bad word in my basketball book (Have you ever BEEN on a basketball court???) but mostly I get wonderful, validating, and affirming letters from students, teachers, and parents. In particular I hear from many people about my book, Anything But Typical which told the story of a 12 year-old autistic boy from the first person POV. Books move people, make them think, and feel, and care. There is nothing more meaningful than finding out that I’ve achieved that.

GC: What’s up next?

NRB: My next book is being published in August 2016 by Simon & Schuster. It’s titled: Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story, and tells the story of four children across the United States in the 24 hours before 9/11. It is not a depressing or scary story, but again, hopeful.
Other than writing, I’ve lately found myself drawn to teaching. I enjoy very much talking to writers about writing, and helping new writers figure out their creative paths. I have been teaching for years through Gotham Writers Workshops and various conferences around the country and I’ve decided to start offering my own workshops and manuscripts critiquing. I’ve made a new website just for this new teaching venture: LightOnWriting.com. I do hope people will find the site and take an interest. The first workshop,Trade Secrets: Writing for Children & Young Adults, is scheduled for Saturday, November 21, 2015, 10-4 in Norwalk, CT.

You can connect with Nora on Google +Twitter and Facebook.