Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – April update

We had another lively meeting at the newly refurbished Barnes & Noble in Westport this week. The refurb has given us a bigger space to meet in – thanks! Twelve of us got to grips with things, and here’s some of what went on. I’ve listed them in date order.

It’s rather late notice, I know, but TONIGHT  (April 21st) the Westport Writer’s Workshop will hold a celebration featuring readings from a number of writers. Among them is  Fairfield University’s Low-Residency MFA Program Director Sonya Huber, whose latest collection, Pain Woman Takes Your Keys and Other Essays from a Nervous System, was published in March; A propos, Sonya has written a blog post about all the available book awards, and provided a handy list here. Did you know you could nominate yourself for a Pulitzer? Free and open to the public, 7:30 PM at 323 Bar & Restaurant in Westport (323 Main Street).

Glimmer Train, the highly respected literary journal, is looking for submissions for their fiction (3,000-20,000 words) and very-short fiction award (300-3,000 words). First Place gets $2,000-3,000, so – worth a try. Deadline April 30.

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The Westport Writers’ Workshop (WWW) is presenting a mini-conference as part of the Westport Library’s WestportWRITES program It’s on Sunday, April 30, from 1-5PM. Topic: creative writing and social justice. A selection of speakers will be led by WWW’s Executive Director, Valerie Leff.

The American Society of Journalists and Authors is holding its conference in New York from May 5-6. Their focus is on the business of writing, getting your personal essays published etc.

On Sunday, May 7 at 10:00 a.m, the Connecticut Press Club is sponsoring a workshop with Susan Maccarelli, founder of Beyond Your Blog and its eponymous podcast. Macarelli’s website and newsletters give you tips and strategies for submitting your blog posts to other websites. To be held at the Westport Writers’ Workshop. Details here.

On May 14, Colm Toibin, Irish author of Brooklyn, will be speaking at the Westport Library. Register here.

Our next WritersMic evening will be held on May 16, 7-8.45ppm in Westport. Join the Meetup for details and updates.

Creative Non-fiction’s annual writers’ conference will be taking place in Pittsburgh, PA, from May 26-27. Suitable for both novices and experienced writers, the conference aims to help you write better. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with literary agents, get concrete advice from industry insiders, hear what different kinds of editors are looking for, and focus on specific skills in inspiring small-group sessions.

Gotham Writers in New York are holding a Be A Hero Contest. They’re looking for a 50 word story – that’s right, 50 words (or fewer). The title, if you have one, doesn’t count as part of the word count, so I guess you could have a really long title if you need more  exposition… The story should be about someone who fought for the right thing in a way that called for courage and commitment. This can be a personal story about, say, your father rescuing you when you were lost in the woods, or a public story about, say, Rosa Parks not moving to the back of the bus. It could also be a made-up story, even an artful retelling of a favorite, such as Erin Brockovich or A Tale of Two Cities.  Entries must be submitted online by midnight Eastern May 29,

Moving into early summer, on Saturday, June 3 from 9- 5 p.m, the Mystery Writers of America/New York Chapter is holding a fiction writers’ conference at the Ferguson Library in Stamford. The full-day session will cover subjects like great beginnings, structure, revisions, etc, and will be taught by established members of the MWA. Publishing professionals will also be on hand. $75 per person (MWA members $65), includes all sessions, plus continental breakfast, boxed lunch and a coffee/wine wrap-up party.

June 8-11 sees the National Society of Newspaper Columnists conference in Manchester, NH. The society is open to bloggers as well as more traditional columnists.

A couple of us were looking for suggestions as to setting up an author’s website. Among the suggested software companies were: WordPress, Hootsuite and Weebly.

And finally, one of our members, MarLou Newkirk, had a story published on an interesting website called Motherr. Read it here.

Write on…

 

 

Pitchapalooza comes to Westport February 13th. Be there.

Last July, I wrote a post about Pitchapalooza, a sort of American Idol of books, created by literary agent Arielle Eckstut and author David Henry Sterry, AKA The Book Doctors, They’re coming to the Barnes and Noble in Westport CT next Wednesday evening, and if you live anywhere nearby, and you write, you should be there. The evening is free, and a portion of all purchases (all day – any purchases!)  at that Barnes and Noble that day will go to the Fairfield Public Library , which is co-sponsoring the event.

Briefly, anyone with a book they’re writing, an outline for a book or even just an idea for a book, can go and pitch their book/outline/idea. The organizers will draw 20 names out of a hat, and then off you go. The catch? You only have one minute in which to do it. A panel of four industry insiders that includes Eckstut and Sterry gives constructive feedback on everything from idea to style to market potential and more. At the end of the evening, the Judges choose a winner, who receives a half hour consultation with Eckstut and Sterry.

I went in July, and as I sat and listened to other people pitch their ideas, I realized that my own pitch was going to be pretty bad. As I listened, I sat revising the 200-word pitch I’d prepared. (200 words takes about one minute.)

When my turn came, I got up and began my pitch, but about 35 seconds in, I literally lost the plot of my novel. I couldn’t remember what happened next. They were kind, and said it had promise. But the moral of this is that you NEED to have your pitch honed and ready for any occasion. And it needs to be good.

So – if you have a book or an idea for a book – go.

If you haven’t – go. Because just listening to other people’s pitches will give you an idea of what’s involved in getting an idea across to a publisher. Everyone who goes will come away with concrete advice on how to improve their pitch as well as a greater understanding of the ins and outs of the publishing industry.

The Book Doctors, co-founded by Eckstut and Sterry, is a company dedicated to helping authors get their books published. Their book, The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published, contains all the information you’ll ever need, taking you through the entire process of conceiving, writing, selling, marketing and promoting your book. Arielle Eckstut has been a literary agent for 18 years at The Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. She is also the author of seven books and the co-founder of the iconic brand, LittleMissMatched. David Henry Sterry is the best-selling author of 12 books, on a wide variety of subject including memoir, sports, YA fiction and reference. They have taught their workshop on how to get published everywhere from Stanford University to Smith College. They have appeared everywhere from The New York Times to NPR’s Morning Edition to USA Today.