Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – February update

Eighteen of us gathered at the Westport CT Barnes & Noble on Wednesday, to exchange ideas, brag about successes, set small goals and drink coffee. The temperature was around 70, which confused us all for a couple of days, but we’ve come to our senses now. 🙂 Fairfield County is becoming a writers’ hub, with loads of events to encourage our writing. I’ve complied the following in (largely) date order.

Write Yourself Free, based in Norwalk, is offering a unique workshop tomorrow, Saturday, February 24 from10:30 am – 1:30 pm. Patrick McCord will help you come to a better understanding of what happens when some action or person appears to you as true, just, and/or beautiful. $40 WYF students/alumni / $50 new clients. They are also running free introductory classes on the following dates:February 25, March 4, March 8 and March 10. Follow the links to register.

The Connecticut Press Club is co-sponsor of a workshop with Contently on February 27 at The Fairfield County Writers’ Studio at 7:00 p.m. The workshop will show you how to become a content marketing writer, something you should know how to do if you are developing your own website. $25 includes Prosecco and light refreshments. Register here.

For those of you who missed last month’s Pitch party, you can join a live webinar  on March 15 at 5PM PST, run by Pitchapalooza. You get 250 words to pitch your book. Twenty pitches will be randomly selected from all submissions to be critiqued during the webinar. For details on how to submit your pitch, (by 11:59PM PST on February 28, follow this link. The winner will receive an introduction to an agent or publisher appropriate for their manuscript.

If you’re at the point of looking for an agent, you might want to attend the New York Writers’ Workshop Pitch Conference in New York on April 20-22. It’s pricey at $495, but might be worth it if it gets results.

Lilly Danzyger editor at Narratively, the online journal, is teaching a course on writing the personal essay at the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio beginning March 1, mem imagefrom noon to 2pm. Open level, for anyone who wants to develop their first-person storytelling chops. She’ll cover the nuts and bolts, from picking a fresh and exciting topic to writing active scenes and getting at a big-picture idea, and you’ll write and polish one publication-ready essay. She’ll follow that up with a class on advanced memoir writing from 2-4pm.The class is for writers with a book-length work in progress, and is limited to 6 students.

Marcelle Soviero and a group of other published writers will be reading their work at 323 Bar & Restaurant in Westport on Friday, March 2, from 7 – 9 pm. The event is free and you can buy yourself a drink or dinner while you’re there.

The Westport Library’s ongoing program for writers, WestportWRITES, is offering a free mini-conference on March 4 from 1-4pm.Entitled, Write Your Fear, it will show you how to write horror, if you’ve never tried it, or improve if you have.

 

Donald Maass, a New York literary editor, is giving an all-day workshop entitled: The Emotional Craft of Writing: How to Tell the Story Beneath the Surface, on March 10, at the Norwalk Inn in Norwalk CT. It costs $139, and you may register here.

Enter by March 15 for the chance to win $1,000 in the Missouri Review’s 11th Annual Miller Audio Contest. The journal is now accepting up to 15-minute audio entries in poetry, prose, audio documentary, and humor for the 11th Annual Miller Audio Prize, judged by the estimable Avery Trufelman.

And WestportWRITES marches on! The Westport Library is running a series of FLEX:experiences from March 21-25, some free of charge and some with a cost. Check the link for details. One experience that I think is worth a writer’s time takes place on March 23 from 10-3pm. Local authors will be appearing at the library all day. They include:  Nina SankovitchEmily Liebert; Lynne Constantine; and Sally Allen; among many others.

If you’re not attending that event, you might be excused if you’re writing a play for WestportWRITES. It must be no longer than 10 minutes, must take place at a table, and have only two characters. If you’re not sure how to format a play, check here. The plays will be work-shopped for the very first Playground Westport, a downtown theatre mini-fest this summer. Submission deadline: 5pm, April 1. Submit to Westportwrites@gmail.com, and put Playground Westport in the subject line.

Those indefatigable guys at the Westport WRITES headquarters are at it again on April 8 from 1-4pm with another mini-conference Write Your Business. The conference will focus on the business side of writing, including how to promote yourself if you’re self-published. Alice Mattison, author of The Kite and The String will be there to discuss the writing life.

Time travel is a compelling sub-genre of science fiction and fantasy, and the Fairfield Scribes are looking for the  feature story for their upcoming anthology, When to Now: A Time Travel Anthology. Submissions are open between now and May 1. They’re only accepting original stories with a word length of between 2,000-10,000 words. Check their website for complete details.

If you’re having trouble with a longer work, perhaps you can manage a 100-word submission to The Drabble. They’ll even allow you to republish material from your blog. Check their website to get some idea of what they’re looking for.   .

Recommended by our members: Bibisco, open source novel-writing software that helps you organize your work. Definitely worth a look.

And Janet Reid’s blog – she’s a literary agent who offers advice on how to write a query letter.

Amazon offers advertising for your book on a pay-per-click basis. You only pay when someone clicks on your ad and looks at your book. Find out more here.

See you in March!

PS: for those of you looking for places to submit your work, try Duotrope, and Aswiebe’s Market list, which Brian Duggan mentioned in the meeting. 🙂

 

 

 

Westport Wrtiters’ Rendezvous – June update

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 class this 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.

Tomorrow afternoon, Saturday, June 24, from 2-4, members E.V. Legters and Kristen Ball will join CT writer Harmony Verna will be reading from their new books at the Booth Library in Newtown, CT, as part of the Connecticut Authors Read series. Should be fun!WritingbyPhotos8dotcom

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.

New member Tanya Detrick told us about the Connecticut Authors and Publishers’ Association. They offer 12 meetings a year with different speakers all over the state. $48 per year.

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.

I know it’s summer, but keep writing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

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

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – January update

What a great first-of-the-year meeting we had on Wednesday. I think everyone left with ideas for new goals to set and how to get them done. More on that later, but first:

If you have a book you’d like to pitch to an agent, take advantage of the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio’s Pitch Party in Westport on January 28th from 10-12. $25 to pitch, $15 to sit, sip mimosas and see how it’s done… For tips on how to write a query letter, Alex McNab suggests Jane Friedman’s site, and also taking a look at Query Shark, for info on how not to write one.

FCWS is offering a broad selection of classes, in addition to this unique event. Hit the link to find out what they have.

A number of writing classes are also available at various venues in Fairfield County and New York. In the City, Gotham Writers is offering what they describe as a ‘rush of classes’ both in classrooms and online. I’ve tried them and found them very useful when I first began as a way of finding an instant critique group led by an experienced published writer.

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The Westport Writers Workshop has classes starting in Westport, Avon and Ridgefield. Subjects include memoir, fiction, the journey of writing for women, and personal essay.

Kate Mayer, one of our members, published a great blog post on achieving one’s writing goals. her simple method produced great results, so take a look.

The Connecticut Book Awards are back. These awards recognize the best titles of 2016 written by authors who reside in Connecticut. Book award submissions will be accepted starting January 2017 and will close in April 2017. For more information, please visit the Connecticut Center for the Book website.

The Connecticut Press Club is still accepting entries for their Annual Communications Contest. The only criterion for submission is that you must be a Connecticut writer and that the submission should have been published/broadcast/launched etc in 2016. The submitting process is still  more complicated than it should be, but if you’re interested, don’t give up. They’re accepting entries until February 6.  To ensure you’re on their mailing list, email CTPressclub@gmail.com.   The deadline is February 6.

One of our members, Sheryl Kayne, is producing a book for which she’s seeking contributions: Grandmas and Grandpas by Many Other Names.   This is an opportunity to celebrate grandparents. She’s looking for stories and/or photos about your own grandparents or yourself as a grandparent to accompany stories about fictional grandparents including Little Red Riding Hood’s as well as Heidi’s and Willy Wonka’s Grandfathers. She’s accepting contributions through Valentine’s Day and the E-book and softcover will be launched mid-April in time for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Grandparents’ Day. Contributors receive a free E-book.  Contribute here.

Bernice Roque, one of our members, is offering a useful (and free) task managing tool  specifically aimed at writers. If you feel you can’t keep track of things, this might be a good solution for you. Contact her through her website.

Elizabeth Chatsworth, another member, has been having some success with the grammar-checking tool Grammarly. It claims to find mistakes which Spellcheck doesn’t, and there’s a free version which should be worth trying out.

Among writing conferences coming up in our neck of the woods this year are these:

Unicorn Writing Conference Manhattanville College, Westchester March 25

ASJA (American Society of Journalists and Writers) NYC May 5-6

Writers’ Digest Conference, NYC August 18-20

BookBub is a great resource for authors looking to reach new readers for a debut or a series, to boost books up on the best-seller list, and even drive sales for backlisted books. Authors see an average earning increase of almost 200% when their book is chosen as a Featured Deal. GoSpark Press is offering a webinar; How to Maximize BookBub is set for February 2, 2017 at 4 p.m. PST (register here), and will help you figure out how to make Bookbub work for you, if you’re already published. Plus, it’s only $10…

Larry Brooks is a Californian writer with a great website called Storyfix. He coaches writers and now has a new virtual classroom which provides, to quote, “Hardcore Training Videos For Serious Authors”. He’s offering one free training module, one of five currently available. Here’s the link to “Essential Craft for Emerging Novelists,” an 81-minute hardcore craft training experience. Worth a look.

Book Riot, an online site that sends me updates on all sorts of book-related topics, has a post to inspire anyone who’s having trouble writing: a list of books that will help to get you started.

At our monthly meetings we set ourselves a goal to be accomplished by the next meeting, I’ve vowed to submit more work for publication this year, so I’ll be signing up with Duotrope. Now that I’ve said it in writing, I’ll just have to do it!

 

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 – November Update

November get-together began with a discussion of the recent election. Having got that off our collective chest, we agreed writing might be a way to deal with the situation. With that in mind, there’s plenty going on in the writing world.

img_5200-768x927First, I need to thank Kate Mayer for her great blog post about holding oneself accountable. She’s been writing a blog post a day throughout November as a challenge to herself, which I know she’s going to complete. She gives the Rendezvous some credit for helping her achieve her goals, and I know our meetings have something to do with it, because she’s not the only one. Reason enough to show up!

On December 16, the Fairfield Public Library will be hosting a  one-day (9-5) panel, So You Want to Write a Children’s Book  featuring Patricia Reilly Giff, Susan Hood, Susan Ross, Christine Pakkala and former workshop instructor Michaela MacColl, Rosemary Wells, Tony Abbott and about a dozen other top names in children’s publishing. Free, but you need to register.

If you’re writing for children, FCWS is offering a class beginning on December 2, Writing for Middle Graders and Young Adults. Taught by Nora Raleigh Baskin, the six classes will run for seven weeks (not on the 16th – see above) on Fridays, 12 – 2 p.m.

A propos, it’s time to sign up for new writing classes/workshops if you’re interested. All three Westport sources are offering them, so check them out here:

Fairfield County Writers’ Studio  Among these is a session taught by Beth Levine, one of our members, on writing for magazines

Westport Writers’ Workshop

Write Yourself Free

Byrd’s Books in Bethel runs a series of classes on writing by Judith Marks-White. The next one is on December 4, at 3pm, and costs $20. Email events@ByrdsBooks.com or call (203) 730-2973 for moe information.

The magazine Poets & Writers, is holding a conference: Inspiration, in San Francisco on January 14-15, 2017. (Feels strange to be moving into 2017 already…)  It’s far from here, of course, but their line-up of speakers includes Juan Felipe Herrera; best-selling novelist and author of Purity, Jonathan Franzen; New Yorker staff writer and author of The Orchid Thief, Susan Orlean; acclaimed poet and former United States Poet Laureate Kay Ryan; writer and activist Ishmael Reed; and renowned poet Jane Hirshfield. And the Early bird registration (up to December 4) is only $175. You can’t beat that.

Here’s an interesting article on 9 Important Legal T ips For Self-Publishing Memoir And Nonfiction. It’s from Self-publishing Relief, and offshoot of Writers’ Relief, and worth a read.

And if you are self-publishing, here are some books on how to deal with copyright:  How Authors Sell Publishing Rights, by Orna Ross and Helen Sedwick; The Copyright Handbook and Kris Rusch’s Business blog posts. Kris also has a new book on Contracts coming out soon. Ross and Sedwick have also produced a podcast to help you get started, called Business Mindset Means a Rights Mindset.

Creative Non-Fiction is calling for submissions on a variety of topics for upcoming issues. They include science and religion; adapting to new situations; real life Frankenstein stories; and stories for their new monthly True Story publication (one story of 5-10,00 words per issue).

Kate Mayer also told us about attending Bindercon, the conference and community for women and gender variant writers. (I feel very clued in just typing that.) It’s a bi-coastal conference, and Kate went to the NYC one at the end of October. There’s another in LA from April 1-2, if you’re in that neck of the woods. For more info about the organization and the conference, click here, or check their Facebook page.

Writers Read is taking place on Tuesday, December 6, at the Fairfield Public Library from 7-9. It will be the last one hosted by Alex McNab, so I’d love you to come, even if not to read, to say thanks to Alex for hosting it for so long. Because of the way the days fall in December, the Writers’ Salon will be ther eon the 2nd, from 4-6. Hope to see you there.

At the halfway mark for NaNoWriMo, I keep bumping into people who are giving it a go. I did mine a few years ago, and I recommend it as a great way to learn to write without self-censoring. When I printed out the first draft, I made a title page ‘Horrible First Draft’, which it was. But at least I had a novel to work on. Among the writers I’ve run into are Tessa McGovern, of the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio, who’s also helped organize a series of events for NaNo writers at the Westport Library – putting her money where her mouth is, I guess. She was right on schedule with her novel.

At a talk given by the redoubtable Alice Mattison on Thursday, I was able to encourage a poet who was writing a novel and had got to the ‘Oh my god, this will never work,’ stage. She looked a bit more cheerful after, I think.

And yesterday I met a 13-year-old, working on her second one, which according to her teacher, contains inappropriate material (underage drinking) and is too gory (vampires will do that…). Sounds good.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

 

 

Interview with Charlotte Rogan, author of The Lifeboat

I was lucky enough to meet Charlotte Rogan the other night at an event hosted by Write Yourself Free, in Westport, CT. Charlotte is a local resident, and kindly spent a couple of hours talking to local writers and fans about her recently published book, The Lifeboat, described by Sam Tanenhaus of the New York Times as “a really accomplished first novel”. The novel takes as its premise a group of 39 people stuck in a lifeboat after their liner sinks in 1914. The lifeboat is too small, and, unlike the passengers of the Titanic, these people are not rescued for three weeks. Some have described the book as harrowing, but I found it fascinating, as well as beautifully written. The power struggle between the two main characters (other than our unreliable but intriguing narrator, Grace Winter) hinges on the male and female styles of leadership. There are moral dilemmas aplenty, and I predict this will be a firm favorite with book groups.

The book hit #12 on the NY Times hardback fiction list and has been on the extended list for 7 straight weeks – an amazing achievement for a debut novel.  And it’s being translated into 24 languages. What’s interesting about this is that Charlotte has been writing for 25 years, and has several (unpublished) novels under her belt. She took a creative writing class with Harold Brodkey, and then simply wrote and wrote and wrote, improving as she went along.  Judging by The Lifeboat, this method seems to have worked. (Memo to self: write more…) When I interviewed her, I asked Charlotte what had made her decide to publish at last.

GC: What made you decide to try and get the book published?

CR: I think all writers want to be published, but I was busy with my family and I didn’t like doing the things it took to try to find a publisher: searching out appropriate literary agents, writing endless query letters, writing short pieces in the hopes of breaking into print through magazines, making contacts among publishing professionals. Still, I knew I was getting better with each novel I wrote, so when I looked into the future, I could see two equally reasonable scenarios: one where I continued to write only for myself and one where I finally found an audience for my work.

GC: How did you find an agent?
CR: Over the years I occasionally set my mind to finding a publisher, but none of them came to anything until my children were seniors in high school. One day I got a call from a journalist who was writing an article on the challenges for multiples (Charlotte has triplets) of applying to college. Over the course of things, she and I became friends, and after reading one of my manuscripts, she introduced me to her literary agent, who sold The Lifeboat to Little, Brown (note: publishers of J.K. Rowling’s next book. GC) in the fall of 2010.

GC: How much help have your publishers given you in promoting the book? I notice that you have great quotes on the back cover (from the likes of J.M. Coetzee, Hilary Mantel and Emma Donoghue), and interviews/reviews with all the main newspapers/publications.

CR: Little, Brown has a phenomenal publicity department, which has been wonderfully effective at getting The Lifeboat in front of various media outlets. Of course, no one can control which books the reviewers choose to read of the many thousands they receive each year or whether or not they like a particular book. As for the blurbs, I was shocked to discover that finding authors to write them was my responsibility. I didn’t know any authors! I decided to use the opportunity to write letters to my literary heroes and thank them for their books, which are really the things that taught me how to write. Out of fifteen letters, five authors agreed to write blurbs for me: among them two Booker Prize winners, an Orange Prize winner, a National Book Award winner, and a Nobel laureate. I will always be grateful to them for taking the time to help a new-comer.

GC: And as always, writers want to know how a typical day goes…it seemed to me, hearing you speak, that you’re a pretty disciplined person. Is that right?

CR: I am quite disciplined, but how a day goes really depends on the other elements of my life. My family has always come first, and I find that even twenty-something children require a certain amount of time. One of the first things established writers will say to you is to treat writing like a job. That means blocking out distractions and saying no to a lot of things. I am a morning person, so I like to use the morning hours to work. Ideally, I fit exercise, errands, and household tasks into the afternoon, with more work before dinner if time allows. I find it impossible to do more than 2-3 hours of really creative first-draft writing per day, but there are always other writing-related tasks I can do. These include editing, research, and reading books that are inspirational for my work. When I am editing a more finished piece, I might work for 8-10 hours a day if life allows it. Finally, taking care of your physical needs is an obvious but sometimes overlooked element of productivity: eating right, getting enough sleep, and regular exercise pay huge dividends when it comes to writing.

GC: You seem very self-possessed. Do you feel pressured to produce your next novel?

CR: Oddly, I do feel pressure, but only some of it is related to worry about finishing the novel I am currently working on. That’s probably because there are so many new tasks vying for my time. Fiction writers tend to be introverts, but once published, they are given a microphone and asked to speak, set to writing essays for magazines, and interviewed on live radio. Those are things I have never done before, and they have taken a lot of time and energy. But the next big challenge is to balance my time more effectively because I do want to get back to working on my book.
GC: On behalf of my readers and myself, thanks, Charlotte for such an encouraging interview!