Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – May update

We had another great meeting yesterday, with several new members, who contributed their points of view – something we value. And the WritersMic Meetup the night before had 11 enthusiastic readers plus guests. I wasn’t able to be there, but member Sheryl Kayne took over the duties of MC, to general acclaim. Thanks, Sheryl!

I’m going to begin the update with some events that are happening very soon.

Dr Suzanne Hoover, a former master teacher at Sarah Lawrence is giving a class on Endings, (how to end your novel) this Saturday, May 20th, from 2-4pm at the Westport Writers’ Workshop.

Also on May 20th, from 11-12.45, Patrick McCord is offering a FREE introductory class at Write Yourself Free in Westport. He has a specific method that can help you structure your writing to make for a better book. Although their main classes started this week, they may still have room for you to join one if you like the freebie.

One of our members, E.V. Legters, is holding a launch party for her second novel, Vanishing Point, on June 4th at the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio from 4-6pm. Come and support her, and enjoy the festivities, and hanging out with fellow writers and readers.

There are several Meetups around for writers, apart from the two I run:

One is headed by Jan Kardys, who organizes the Unicorn Writers’ Conference, in which you can bring 10 pages to be critiqued. The next meeting is on Saturday, May 20th. Check it out here.

There’s a Children’s Writers and Poetry Critique Group meetup in White Plains

Also for poets, the Monroe Poetry Meetup.

A Meetup for Christian writers: Word Weavers of Southern Fairfield County.

And there’s an Open Mic Night in Norwalk Meetup, which includes performances of all kinds, including reading, I think. But check it out by being part of the audience, if you’re not sure whether it’s the right fit for you.

And speaking of telling stories, Barnes and Noble, our gracious hosts in Westport, will be having a regular storytelling evening each month, the first on June 21st. They’re looking for people with a personal story to tell about strong women who’ve had a personal effect on you, experiences where a woman with power helped or hindered you, etc. Like their Facebook page or call in at the store to get updates about how to tell your story.

The New York Pitch Conference, a 3-day event running from June 22-25 offers a wonderful opportunity of meeting agents who might actually be interested in seeing your work. It’s not cheap – so if you haven’t finished your book and got it publication-ready, it’s probably best to wait a while, according to those in the know.

Later in the year, The Ridgefield Writers’ Conference is a one-day event for writers to be held on Friday, September 22nd.

Enter a contest. This one is the Brighton Prize, which exists to find inventive new writing. It’s open for entries until 30th June, and has two categories: short stories between 1000 and 2000 words, and flash fiction under 350 words. The prize for the winning story: £1000, with two runners up getting: £100 each.

Improve your writing or get yourself over the hump by taking a class this summer. There are many around this area. The Fairfield County Writers’ Studio, the Westport Writers’ Workshop and Write Yourself Free are all running classes. IN Rowayton, CT,

Photo May 18, 3 16 55 PM

Drew Lamm: To Taste Life Twice

Drew Lamm has shorter summer series of her unique writing groups for women: To Taste Life Twice.  I’ve been going for some years, and value the peaceful place where I can write with other women, and get Drew’s reactions to the writing. She praises the good, so that we write more of it. And it works. Check the link above and the photo to the left.

If you can’t get to a live class, there are several online options. One is from Gotham in New York, and they have many to choose from – food writing, travel writing, script writing, video game writing, teen creative non-fiction, humor, romance, sci-fi etc

Creative Nonfiction has summer online classes  give you the chance to experiment with new subjects or forms in a condensed 5-week format. Classes begin June 26, 2017 and include topics like digital storytelling, science writing for general audiences, historical narratives and experimental forms. Enroll by June 2 to get $50 off.

We talked about the importance of editors and a couple of people mentioned Allison Dickens, who is teaching a class called Nailing Your First 20 Pages -an advanced workshop in novel and memoir. It’s a one-week intensive at the Westport Writers’ Workshop, from 10-12, July 24-28. Another recommended freelance copy editor was Stephanie Finnegan.

Member Ed Ahern mentioned that the online journal he reads submissions for, Bewildering Stories, will always critique your submission, whether it’s accepted or not. Sounds like a good way of getting some feedback, and maybe publication. They accept submissions in all genres.

A couple of places are offering a free book of writing advice if you sign onto their mailing list. One is from Autocrit, The Secret Formula to Publishing a Best-selling Novel, and the other is from Penguin books, The Ultimate Guide to Writing Advice.

If you’re a friend of Poets and Writers, they give you the chance to list your latest publication in the nest Friends News. It’s too late for this year – entries closed on May 15th, but it’s worth bearing in mind for next year. Any book-length publication of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction published after December 2015 (so 2016 next year) is eligible to be listed, as are forthcoming titles. Chapbooks, translations, and self-published works may be included.

Last but not least, for those of you writing a memoir, here’s an interesting article from The Creative Penn. Six Points to Consider When Writing a Memoir.

That should keep you going until next month. See you then. And if you have any additional info, corrections etc, just put them in the comments below. Thanks, and Happy Writing!

Writing for the soul

556035_420160031404051_632158423_nMy friend Drew Lamm is a Canadian author who has published several works of fiction including a YA novel, Bittersweet, a short story called Stay True in an anthology of the same name, four nonfiction picture books with The Smithsonian and four with NYC publishers.  Her poems have appeared in various anthologies. She’s been running workshops for women writers for over 10 years in Fairfield County, CT, and having met some of the participants, I wanted to know what made these workshops so unusual. I asked Drew how her workshops differ from others available in Fairfield County and New York.

Here’s what she had to say:

DL: These workshops are a party where spirits are fed, souls watered.  I don’t mean to sound cute, but it’s difficult to explain why women keep coming back, some for over ten years. I fashion something essential here, around creating and community – something most of us are starving for.  I offer a safe, supportive, vital place where women discover the poetic/meaning in their lives through writing. I help refresh their true voices and vital spirit.

Their stunning writing often feels more like a bonus, rather than the main fare.  And yet, whether non writers up through experts, they become brilliant at writing easily and naturally.

GC: Tea and chocolate seem to play an important role in your workshops. Why is that?journal-pen-sized-copy1

DL: ‘A teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company.’ (Anon.) The custom of serving tea is ancient, refined and welcoming.  In this harried world, we don’t often pause in our racing to sit down and sip tea together. And chocolate, well, it’s chocolate!  Who doesn’t need to be offered a plate heaped with chocolates on a regular basis?

GC: Do you teach a specific method of writing?

DL: I teach organically, so no and yes.  This is nothing like school, nothing academic.  We’re all natural writers and I discover the truth of this in every workshop.  Last weekend I hosted a Tea and Writing Party, welcoming in seven women I didn’t know, who don’t write.  They balanced their tea cups looking a tad nervous and off we went.  By the end of two hours each one had strong, vivid writing where there was once an empty page. I teach to write visually and through the senses and I craft prompts that get at this easily.  Concrete images are simple, effective and pull treasure to the surface that surprises and delights the writer and then the reader.

 GC: How do you critique your writers?

DL: I zero in on specifically what works and only what works.  When you understand what works, you and your writing deepens.  These pieces are new-born babies and I celebrate this, by pointing out what shines.  Each person’s writing hones and turns to gold with this process.

GC: What do you think your participants find most useful about your workshops?

 DL: Women find the parts of themselves they love, emerging.  We are creators.  We need to create whether it’s art, music, a garden, a loaf of bread…this is what happens here.  I watch women arrive with tense faces and see them leave open, beautiful and looking younger.  This is what occurs when our true voice emerges, when we’re seen, heard and celebrated.  It’s essential.  These workshops aren’t hobbies for these women, but something vital in their lives.  And mine too.

GC: How often do you run these workshops?

DL: Once a week for two hours for twelve weeks.  The winter session will begin Jan. 8th and 9th. I have five groups a week.  Wed. 10 – noon, 1-3pm and 7-9pm and Thurs. 10 – noon and an advanced group 1-3pm.

There’ll be a Women Who Taste Life Twice evening here in Rowayton, CT, on Dec. 5th,  from 7-8.57pm, where women will read short pieces they’ve written and an Irish storyteller will tell a tale.  Any women who might be interested in my workshops or who’d love to come listen in, to take a taste of this sweet and spicy community are welcome to come sip and listen. If you’d like directions or to be on Drew’s mailing list, send her an email.

You can contact Drew via email, or her blog, as well as via Facebook where you can see videos of Drew and her home (where the workshops take place) and Goodreads