Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – September update

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.

Upcoming events

51bWUtfBDGL._SY346_Member Gilda Dangot Simpkin will do a talk about her newly published memoir My Baby Chase at the Ansonia Library on Wednesday evening at 6:00pm. Publishing karma suggests that if we show up for other writers, they’ll show up for us. J

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.

3 Birds Productions is holding its Second Norwalk Community Storytelling Event: Secrets on October 3rd, from 7-9pm at the Ischoda Yacht Club in Norwalk, CT. $10 admission includes one drink and snacks. Cash bar thereafter. 21 years of age. RSVP, please: Info@3BirdsProductions.org

519WwkCvrsL._SY346_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.

51fViXjR0YLThe 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 1Level 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.

See you next month!

 

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – August update

We’ve had a couple of great days, as we always do in the third week of the month. The WritersMic Meetup was terrific, with another batch of varied reads. If you think you’d like to come and read or to listen, sign on at the Meetup link above. We’d love to have you!

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Just some of the Rendezvous members – looking happy after the meeting

On Wednesday, a dozen or more of us showed up for the Writers’ Rendezvous at Barnes & Noble in Westport to be deafened by the sound of jackhammers – inside the store. Worse than that, the area being worked on was the café, so we were deprived of coffee too! Undeterred, member Gina Ryan suggested we meet al fresco, which was lovely until the construction trucks drove by, causing yours truly to signal them rather rudely and to absolutely no avail…

The item that caught everyone’s interest actually came at the very end of the meeting, when we go around and say what we hope to get done before we meet again. Member Elizabeth Chatsworth casually said “I’m going to have my computer read my novel aloud.” An eruption of questions prompted her to explain. MS Word has a text-to-speech feature which will read your work, without much expression, but accurately, so you can hear where you might have repeated yourself, skipped a word, or said something clumsy. I’m a fan of reading one’s work aloud – it helps me see where the flow becomes wonky, but when I do it I’m apt to supply a missing word, or even replace something without noticing. The computer doesn’t care – it will read what you wrote while you take notes, or stop it to correct things. Elizabeth supplied me with a link which explains how to enable the text-to-speech feature in Word. She also sent me the info on a free tool, Natural Readers, that claims to sound more natural. I’m not sure how much better it is, but it does offer different accents, if that’s your thing.

The Ridgefield Writers Conference is happening from September 22-23 at the Ridgefield Library. Run by Adele Annesi and Rebecca Dimyan, it features a great list of presenters. It is a juried event, so if you want to attend, you’ll need to send them a one page sample of your writing. Check the site for details.

Dogwood, Fairfield University’s Literary magazine, is open for submissions to their next contest. They charge to submit, but offer prizes in poetry, nonfiction, and fiction – three prizes of $1,000 each for the best story, essay, and poem submitted.   Enter by clicking this link.

Member Ed Ahern found this article about author etiquette on Amazon and, incidentally, how to avoid trolls. Among the suggestions are: Don’t spam/Never trade reviews for books/Never diss other authors/Don’t pay for customer reviews /never respond to reviews/Always report abuse/avoid certain sites/Don’t stray from your genre…

Along the same lines, here’s one on how to get book reviews as an unknown author by Jason B Ladd on the Creative Penn website. This is a good website to subscribe to if you’re an indie author. Joanna Penn, who runs it, has succeeded as an indie author (she may even have coined the term) by working very hard. I began by listening to her podcast, where she interviews fellow authors while she was still writing her first book, and then subscribed to her blog.

For those of you looking for an agent, Publishers Marketplace produces a daily email you can subscribe to, which will keep you abreast of all developments in the publishing world. It’s called Publisher’s Lunch and although there’s almost too much information if you’re not looking right now, you might want to make a note of it.

Looking for help with your query letter for a novel? Writers’ Relief has some suggestions. You can read the article here.

If you need beta readers, or you want to become one, Goodreads can help. One of their groups is Beta Reading and Editing, and you can post your willingness/availability/charges, or look for someone to read your work. They will send you occasional email updates, but to get the most from it, you should check it regularly yourself. I don’t need to tell you that the advantage of having a beta reader you don’t know is that they don’t know what you’re trying to say, either. And if they don’t get it, they’ll tell you so. Don’t rely on your cousin Antonia!

Finally – enjoy the rest of the summer – our next meetings will be on September 19th and 20th. Look forward to seeing you there. If you have anything to add or correct, please let me know in the comments.

And if you like this blog, please follow it. Thanks!

 

 

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – December update

First – thanks so much to the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio, who hosted this month’s Rendezvous. Barnes and Noble were simply too full of holiday stuff to have room for us, but we’ll be back there next month. In the meantime, thanks are due to Carol Dannhauser and Tessa McGovern, FCWS founding partners. And we covered a lot of ground, though there’s some additional information in this update which I didn’t get to in the meeting.

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Courtesy Fairfield County Writers’ Studio

First up are the writing classes you need to sign up for now if you want to begin the New Year with a resolution to write more. Fairfield County Writers Studio (see photo left) has a huge variety – check them out here. in addition to classes and workshops, they are having another pitch party on January 28th, with Marilyn Allen, literary agent.

At the Westport Public Library, under the Westport WRITES banner, author and teacher Mary-Lou Weisman will lead a new six-part series for beginning writers, as well as an eight-session series for advanced writers. Introductory Non-Fiction Writing Workshop is on Thursdays, January 12-February 16 from 1:15-2:45 pm.  There’s also an Advanced Non-Fiction Writing Workshop on Thursdays from January 10-April 18. This is an eight-session workshop for those who have had some experience in writing memoir and personal essay. You’ll need to submit some writing beforehand to ensure that you’re experienced enough for this class. Contact the library for more details: mwaterman@westportlibrary.org

Write Yourself Free in Westport is also beginning its new year classes with a series of master classes for mixed genres. Join Patrick McCord Tuesday or Wednesday morning and evening, or Thursday afternoons to get your writing fix. If you’re interested in memoir or screenwriting, you can join specific classes in those genres. Get more info on all their classes here.

A propos of learning new things, one of our members, Alison McBain, attended the one-day workshop on writing for children that I mentioned last month. She’s written a blog post giving an overview of it, so if you want to know what went down, click on the link.

In addition, Alison finished her novel during NaNoWriMo and pitched it via a Twitter event called #pitmad. PitMad stands for Pitch Madness. There’s an excellent article on this one-day event here. Doing this has resulted in several agents asking to see Alison’s novel, which is terrific. You can pitch any genre, so check it out. You’ll need a Twitter account to pitch.

Being British myself, and writing in the British style, I sometimes wonder why people here don’t get exactly what I mean. For any of you writing something with a British character, here’s a very good run-down from Joanna Penn (of The Creative Penn) on how to get the Britishness just right. It might help you understand me, too…

indexThe Connecticut Press Club wants your submissions for the Annual Communications Contest. Last year some people found it hard to submit, but the process has been streamlines for this year. They’ll be sending out a call for entries next week with instructions how to enter your work in the contest. To ensure you’re on their mailing list, email CTPressclub@gmail.com. That way, you’ll get all the information as it happens. There are 64 categories, so if you’ve had work published/broadcast/launched etc during 2016, check the list. The Connecticut early bird deadline is January 17 and the regular deadline is February 6. They’re going to swap judging duties with the Illinois affiliate of the NFPW, which means that they judge Connecticut’s entries and CT judges theirs. Please let the CPC know at the email above if you’re interested being a judge.

I found an interesting article specifically targeted to writers with books they want to promote.  It tells you how to run Facebook Ads that work. If that writer is you, take a look.

Hearst Magazines used to have a collective submission system called the Mix, which allowed you to submit to all their publications simultaneously. Since its demise, it’s been harder to do that. There’s a list of all the Hearst editors in the following blog: How to pitch Hearst magazines now The Mix has gone.

The most popular feature of the annual Unicorn Writers Conference, taking place March 25th , 2017, is the 30-minute One-on-Ones with top NYC agents and editors. For an additional $60 over the basic $325 cost, you get a 30-minute sit-down with the agent or editor of your choice, who will have read 40 pages of your manuscript as well as your two-page summary.  For $150, Unicorn for Writers is offering to help you edit and polish those 40 pages before you submit them to those agents for the conference. You can find out more by emailing unicorn4writers@gmail.com

And finally, here’s the link for BookBub, for people who asked me for it. Pick your preferred genres, and BookBub will send you daily offers on e-books at much reduced prices. They’re books by well-known authors as well as newer writers.

And all that remains is for me to wish all my readers a very happy holiday week (or so). Keep writing!

 

 

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – October update

The Westport Writers’ Rendezvous had a great get-together last week, as always. Here’s a round-up of the news:

Jan Karon of the Unicorn Writers’ Conference, is beginning a series of 90 minute classes to teach writers abut publishing and writing a compelling book. They cost $25 per class and they’ll be presented 3 times a week, on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. They started on Wednesday the 21st, but there’s no obligation to take all the classes. The last classes will be at the end of January. To sign up or get more information email: unicorn4writers@gmail.com.

Meet  best-selling authors (including Jane Green and Linda Fairstein) as well as top literary agents and editors at Barnes and Noble next Tuesday, October 27 from 6.30-8. Free If you can’t be there, you can watch it on Periscope or BookGirlTV on YouTube.

Fairfield Public Library is having a Publish and Polish Writing Workshop on November 7, from 1-3pm. It’s designed for people writing for magazines. It’s free but you need to register.

Write Yourself Free in Westport is running four creative writing workshops on Wednesday evenings starting November 4. $195

Tessa MGovern and Carol Dannhauser, writing teachers and authors. are opening the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio in Westport, CT. Classes and writing retreats begin on November 4. The first class begins November 4 – The Art & Craft of Novel Writing and the second starts November 6: Write Your Novel to Prompts. For more information, email editor@echook.com or call 203 226 6971

If you haven’t signed up to follow it yet, you should follow the Fairfield Writers’ Blog, written by Alex McNab and other guest writers.

Places to submit:

Commuterlit.com is looking for pieces in any genre fro 500-4000 words

NewPopLit.com is looking for short stories (not much more in the way of guidelines

Mused – the Bella Online Literary Review. Deadline for Winter Issue – November 20th

One of our members, Anita Evenson, mentioned (via email to me) that her husband has designed a new app for writers, Novelize: www.getnovelize.com. There’s a special deal if you’d like to try it for 6 months at half price ($2.50 instead of $5 a month). The coupon code is HALFOFF6MOMEET.

Here are a couple of podcasts for writers/readers you might like: The Creative Penn , Helping writers become authors,  and Writing Excuses.

Need book reviews? Check out this repost from The Creative Penn –

Joanna Penn has one of the best sites around for indie writers – she’s a source of constant inspiration and generously shares her knowledge with the rest of us. Her website, The Creative Penn, is regularly listed among the Top Ten Blogs for Writers, and she has indie published the first two novels of her Arkane trilogy, (Prophecy and Pentecost) under the name J.F. Penn. She often asks people to write guest blogs for her, and recently featured this one by Laura Pepper Wu, about how to get more and better book reviews. I thought it was fascinating, as well as useful.

How to Get Amazon’s Top Reviewers to Review Your book

We all want more book reviews but until you have a huge readership waiting for organic reviews can be… well, a long wait!

One way to get more high quality, (usually) well-written and highly regarded reviews is to ask the ‘Amazon Top Customer Reviewers’ to take a look at your book.

Why target the top Amazon reviewers?

While I’ve seen some reviewers with 7,000+ reviews, the Top Customer Reviewer award is not only about the number of reviews one person has churned out. At the time of writing, the #1 top customer reviewer on Amazon has only (!) 671 reviews under his belt.

As always, Amazon uses a complex algorithm to determine…

Read the rest here:

Laura Pepper Wu is a writer and the co-founder of 30 Day Books: a book studio and Ladies Who Critique, a critique-partner finding site. She has successfully marketed several books to become Kindle and print best-sellers.

Laura has recently released Authorlicious, a premium WordPress theme for authors including tutorials, so if you want to maximize your blog success, check it out here: