Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – March update

A relatively small but hardy group of us, including three new members, met yesterday – thanks for coming out in such bad weather! There was a lot talk about, so if you couldn’t make it, you can catch up here.

The Connecticut Press Club and the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio are co-sponsoring a workshop, Podcasting 101, this Saturday, led by Ben Bogardus. It takes place this weekend, Saturday, March 18, from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. $75. Register here

Patrick McCord of Write Yourself Free in Westport, is offering a free introduction to his Master Class method from 1-3pm this Sunday, March 19. If you’re interested, email them at  writeyourselffreeinfo@gmail.com to reserve a spot (limited places available). Their regular classes begin next week.

The second WritersMic Meetup will take place next Tuesday (March 21st) at Panera’s on the Fairfield/Westport line, from 7-8.45pm. Bring up to around 1000 words to read to a friendly audience of other writers. Sign up at the Meetup link if you can.

classA number of online writing courses have been crossing my desk more frequently recently.

Gotham Writers Workshop of New York runs 33 of them, from how to write articles, to writing for video games, some starting soon. There’s an introductory video you can look at, to see how they work. Cost: $400 for 12 classes.

The Writers’ Store has a range of recorded webinars you can purchase, as well as live classes. Check them out here.

Kristin mentioned a course she had taken at with Tom Bird in Arizona.  He is a proponent of the handwritten manuscript, and believes in accessing one’s interior creative flow. You can try his method online, or sign up for a virtual writing retreats. There’s a free online workshop coming up next Thursday, March 23. He also has a workshop entitled: Write Your Book in a weekend, with an introductory video.

And Westport Continuing Ed is offering online writing classes via Ed2Go. $99 buys you twelve 2-hour classes, and the next series begins today, March 15. There are 24 different classes to choose from, including ones on designing your blog, writing fantasy, children’s and YA fiction, or publishing and selling your eBook, among others.

We talked about the ways to simplify submitting work for publication. One way to find an agent is through Query Tracker who have a list of 1592 agents and a method for keeping tabs on what you’ve sent where.

The Unicorn Writers Conference and the Book Publishing Discussion Meetup are both run by Jan Kardys, an agent herself. The Conference takes place on March 25th and offers a chance to meet agents and editors. The Meetup is monthly and you can take 10 pages to be critiqued, if you want to.

Book Hive is an online service that specializes in focus group research by beta readers in several genres. You get a 35-page report with plenty of feedback to help you perfect your novel/memoir etc.

And new member, Paul, suggested a quirky website Everyone Who’s Anyone in Publishing, that gives you contacts for lots of agents. He warned they might not all be up to date, however, so caveat emptor!

Alex McNab found an interesting article about how to make a perfect pitch (their title) by Sophie Masson, and another  by Brian Klems, published in Writers’ Digest, that explains the differences between Mystery, crime and thriller novels. And here’s an article from Holly Robinson about how to start writing again if you’re stuck

Also from the Writers’ Digest, and article on how to find an online critique group. You can read it here.

I thought The Writers’ Cooperative website looked interesting. It’s a website you join for $3 per month, which offers a chance to publish your articles on writing, as well as giving help and support to writers. If you’ve tried it, please let me know how you liked it, in the comments.

The Writer’s Hotel isn’t a hotel at all, it’s a writers’ conference taking place in NYC from June 7-13 this year. The conference offers Master Classes in Fiction, Nonfiction & Poetry, and as you can see, lasts 6 days. Broadly speaking, (if I’ve understood it correctly) there are workshops in the morning, with lectures and meetings with agents in the afternoon. Cost $2500, plus hotel and dinner.

Last but not least, as a result of submitting with Duotrope, I had a piece of flash fiction accepted by the Dime Show Review within 7 days. You can read it here (only 163 words, so it won’t take long!)

See you next month

Sailing above London in a boat of your own

What’s wrong with this picture? Could it be that there’s a boat perched on – not to say about to fall off of – the top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the South Bank Centre in London?  What the heck is it?

Photo: Charles Hosea

It’s a gorgeous one-bedroom ‘installation’ with two decks which provide incredible panoramic views of the Thames and famous London sights like the Houses of Parliament and St Paul’s cathedral. It was built by Living Architecture and designed by David Kohn Architects in collaboration with the artist Fiona Banner, and is designed to stay ‘afloat’ through 2012 as part of the London 2012 Festival. It’s called A Room for London

View from the loo – Photo: Charles Hosea

Why?  It’s a studio retreat for artists, musicians and writers – just one at a time. Each month a different writer checks into the Room and spends several days writing a new work. Then the writer records his/her work and it’s available to listen to as a podcast from the Guardian or on this website. There’ll be twelve readings in all under the umbrella title of A London Address.

Projects include a one-off performance by British actor Brian Cox of Orson Welles’ unmade film “ Heart of Darkness” based on the novel by Joseph Conrad.You can watch the video here until June 30th.

International writers, including Caryl Phillips, Jeanette Winterson, Sven Lindqvist  and Michael Ondaatje, have stayed there and written new works under the banner : A London Address, which you can hear via podcasts here:

One of the chief sponsors is Artangel,  a London-based not-for-profit that commissions art projects and installations by contemporary artists around the UK. Here’s what they had to say about the idea behind the boat:

The original Roi des Belges

An intimate space in a cultural quarter with a sweeping view of one of the world’s great cities, A Room for London is more than a hotel room: it’s an observatory, a retreat and a studio, whose design was inspired by the Roi des Belges, the boat that Joseph Conrad navigated up the River Congo in the late nineteenth century, before writing Heart of Darkness. There is a deck, a crow’s nest and a cabinet of visual curios – and a centerpiece bed which slides on rails to make the most of the views over London. Before departure, guests will be invited to fill in a logbook in the ‘bridge’ of the boat, detailing what they have experienced during their stay, out of the window as much as within themselves. An octagonal library with a carefully curated selection of books and twin desks looking out across the river enables visitors to use the Room as a remarkable studio space.

And members of the public have been able to rent it for a one-night stay. They’re sold out now, of course, but there are plans afoot to place it somewhere else next year, so there’s hope.