I’m always happy when members of the WritersMic and the Rendezvous are published for the first time. Tom Cowen came to read at last month’s WritersMic, and his moving article has just been published in The Good Men Project. It shines a different light on Father’s Day. Read it here.
Back to writer events coming up. On June 23, the Westport Library will host historian James Carter for a free talk on his new book, Champions Day. The book looks at the end of old Shanghai through the lens of one day of horse racing in 1941 China. More information about the event and how to order his book here. If you pre-order the book via the library, you can get a signed bookplate from the author.
In spite of this being NaNoWriMo (National Novel-Writing Month) month, sixteen of us showed up to hang out with other writers. A couple of our members were ahead of the game in terms of numbers of words written, some had stalled but were gamely going to keep trying. Either way, well done, I say!
If you’re looking for a quiet place to work (on your novel or any other writing) The Fairfield County Writers’ Studio is having open days on November 17, 18, 20, 21, 27 and 28. Hours vary, so be sure to check their site.If you have taken a paid workshop with them, you can come in and write for free on those days. If you haven’t, you can buy a one-day pass for $25. They’d like to know you’re coming, so either register here, or email them at info@FCWritersStudio.com.
There are a lot of writing events happening around us – here are just a few:
Next Tuesday, November 21, is WritersMic night at Panera’s in Westport 7-8.45PM. Come and read something for five minutes or so, or come to listen.
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 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.
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.
Nineteen members showed up for Wednesday’s meeting – thanks for coming! The night before, we had a great WritersMic Meetup in Westport, with content as varied as fiction, memoir, articles, poetry and even a prize-winning eulogy! Link to either of the pages here to join the Meetups.
Meanwhile, there was lots to talk about at the Westport Writers’ Rendezvous, and time for some networking at the end. Among the things discussed, in date order (where appropriate) were:
Write Yourself Free in Westport is offering a free introductory classthis Saturday (June 24) from 11-12.45pm, to familiarize you with their method of writing workshop. It gives you a structured way to get that novel or memoir written, and is definitely worth trying. In addition to a range of summer classes for adults, they’re also offering a series of classes for children (3-6th grade). More info here.
Also, this Saturday (June 24), Jan Kardys, founder and director of the Unicorn Writers Conference is having one of her regularly scheduled Meetups, at which you can offer up to 10 pages for critiquing by her and other participants. At $10 per meeting, it’s money well spent. If you can’t make it this time, become one of her Meetup members, and you’ll be on the mailing list for future events. She also offers editorial and other services for writers.
Glimmer Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award for New Writers is looking for submissions. Their deadline is June 30, 2017. It’;s worth entering, since they consider all entries for publication. The first place wins $2500 and publication, 2nd place gets $500, or $700 if published. Third prize is $300, or $700 if published.
The Writer’s Digest Conference is scheduled for August 18-20 in NYC. It costs $469, and for an additional $99 you can add the Pitch Slam, which offers: a one-hour Pitch Slam time slot on Saturday, August 19, a pitch perfect session (9:00 AM on Friday, August 18), entry in the Query Letter Directory and a query letter webinar: Query Better Basics for Books. The main conference has Lisa Scottoline and Richard Russo among its keynote speakers, and sessions cover craft, getting published, the business of being an author, platform & promotion and genre studies. You can register at the link above.
If you’re a horror writer, there’s the Horror Writers Association. Their conference is held in the early spring, but you could check them out.
The Good Men Project, an online magazine with 3 million readers each month, is looking for submissions on a range of topics. Topics include art & entertainment, dads and families, health, wellness, the soul, and so on. Submissions are via Submittable, and you may have to set up an account to join the Good Men Project, but it has a ready-made audience.
And speaking of Submittable, they handle submissions for many publications – you may have used them already. They also have a regular newsletter, with suggested places to submit. Submissions aren’t just for prose, they include screenplays, poetry, radio (NPR is looking for pitches for StoryLab) – even films and art. You can sign up for the newsletter and get free suggestions for your work.
Member Alex McNab mentioned a couple of commencement speeches with particular relevance to writers. The first is to the NY Times digest of 2017 commencement address highlights. He cited Colson Whitehead, with a near perfect precis of three-act structure. And his old pal Billie Jean King offers a smart way to think about writing a long story—just substitute the words “writing a book” for her uses of the word “life.”
Alex also reminded me that the current issue of Poets & Writers, is the annual Agents issue, with lists of agents, interviews with them etc. A good place to see who’s out there.
Finally, if you’re thinking of self-publishing, take control of the publication of your book with the IngramSpark Guide to Independent Publishing. It walks you through the publishing process: pre-production, formatting and binding, book marketing, creating your title metadata, preparing your files, and more.It sounds like a good guide to self-publishing, and you can download a free sneak peek of the guide before you buy.