And here, as promised, is the second part of my February update. There was simply so much to include, that I thought I’d give you a little breathing space. First up: the Bridgeport Library offers a free monthly memoir writing … Continue reading
First, thanks to everyone who showed up yesterday for our 5th anniversary meeting in spite of dire warnings about the weather. And congratulations to member Alison McBain who came First in the Connecticut Press Club’s Communications Contest for her editing … Continue reading
I’m going to keep the intro short this month, since there’s a lot of ground to cover. Wednesday saw another great meeting, with old hands and new faces, and many successes to report. And here’s what’s coming up in the writing world of Fairfield County and environs:
This Saturday, January 19, Brian Hoover will be leading his monthly memoir writing workshop from 10:30-12:00, in the Bridgeport History Center, located in the main branch of the Bridgeport Public Library. Free.
The Connecticut Press Club is wrapping up submissions for this year’s contest. Anyone who lives or works in Connecticut is eligible to enter work published in 2018. Fees: $25 for the first entry and $15 for each additional entry. Deadline: midnight EST, January 22.
Our final meeting of the year was surprisingly well attended, considering how close it was to Christmas. Maybe people were taking a break from the seasonal rush. In any event, we covered a lot of ground, with authors asking each … Continue reading
I wasn’t able to be at the Writers’ Rendezvous on Wednesday, but Alex McNab ably took the reins and gave me great notes for this update. It seems that January re-energizes writers – perhaps here in Fairfield County, cold weather keeps us stuck indoors and offers more time to write. In any case, there are a number of events going on, and several publications/organizations looking for submissions. Here they are, in deadline order:
Tomorrow, Saturday, January 20, the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio is inviting writers to Reach Your Writing Goals in 2018 from 1-2:30 pm. Register for this event, which includes the chance to chat to faculty members. Free to former students, $15 to others.
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 … Continue reading
Welcome to the August update from the Westport Writers’ Rendezvous.
First up, here’s news from the Westport Library and the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio.
The FCWS is working with the Westport Library to create a new program called Westport Writes, designed to guide writers through all stages of writing and publishing. They’ll be offering talks, workshops etc, with the next one taking place this weekend.
You Wrote a Book, Now What? is a 2-hour talk by Jan Kardys. From 10-12pm on Saturday August 20th
Writing Scripts for Television – 6.30-8.30pm, August 25th
Advanced Writing Classes led by Mary-Lou Weisman begin September 6 1.15-2.45pm. Beginners’ fiction and non-fiction classes are available, too.
A two-part introduction to Scrivener writing software with Chris Friden, on September 26 and 28, from 6.30-8.30pm.
This is just a selection. Check out the complete list of writing events here. All these events are at the library and require registration.
The Connecticut Chapter of the Romance Writers of America is holding its annual Fiction Fest in Norwalk from September 9-11. The conference is open to any writer, and there’s the possibility of having an agent or editor look at your work and give you feedback. Registration closes on August 25th. $209.
A propos of ‘You Wrote a Book…, Jan Kardys is offering a one-day conference in Groton on September 10th, with Marilyn Allen (agent) Sal Gilbertie (herbalist and non-fiction writer) and Katie Henderson, who will tell you about social media marketing, among others.
Alex McNab recommends the ‘away days’ offered by FCWS, where you can spend the day just writing without distractions, and without the internet, if you’re strong enough not to ask for the Wi-Fi password. This how he got to the end of a major edit on his novel.
His latest blog post for the Fairfield Writers is up now. It’s an interview with Betsy Lerner, agent, editor and author of The Bridge Ladies, a memoir, but also of The Forest for the Trees, a book about editing.
Alex also found a good article about hiring a professional editor. You can read it here. And he recommends these two new books on writing:
The Accidental Life: An Editor’s Notes on Writing and Writers by Terry McDonell (Knopf, $26.95) and The Kite and the String: How to Write with Spontaneity and Control—and Live to Tell the Tale by Alice Mattison (Viking, $25)
The Mark Twain House in Hartford is hosting its annual Writers’ Weekend from September 23-25th. It’s a conference that covers many genres and offers more than 30 different workshops. Registration is $180, and you can write in Mark Twain’s Library on Saturday or Sunday morning for an additional $30.
Don’t forget to come and read at the Fairfield Public Library if you can. Writers Read open mic is on September 6, at 7pm. The Writers’ Salon , a discussion group, is on September 9, at 4pm (a week later than usual, to avoid conflicts on the Labor Day weekend).
Norwalk Public Library is running several literary/writing events, too. Their next author visit if by Anne Korkeaviki, author of Shining Sea, who will be talking about her most recent novel at 12pm on August 22nd.
Norwalk is also where Leslie Kerr (their author-in-residence) runs the Norwalk Writers’ Guild, which meets every 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month from 5.30-7pm. For those members of the Writers’ Rendezvous who were looking for an evening group, this might offer an opportunity. One session each month is dedicated to discussion of the writing process, then writers can post their work online for critiquing before the second meeting. And the Guild is planning an annual conference next year, too.
Sheryl Kayne is organizing a contest on her website for people interested in Volunteer travel. Details here.
Places to submit: Glimmer Train very short fiction (300-3,000 word) and fiction open (3000-20,000 words) is offering cash prizes for the first three winners in both categories, and even if not a winner, will pay you $700 if they publish your story. Deadline 8/30/16.
Dogwood, Fairfield U’s literary magazine is also looking for submissions in fiction, non-fiction and poetry – deadline: September 5, 2016.
And there you have it. I think there’s enough stuff here to keep you going until next month… As ever – if I’ve made any mistakes, please let me know or correct them in the comments. Thanks!
So here’s the update from Wednesday’s meeting of the Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – for those who were there, and those who wish they had been…
A number of interesting topics arose. Ed Ahern mentioned that he’d been interviewed for The Two Sides of You, a book about bi-hemispheric people – those using both sides of their brain with equal facility. I mention this because I know the author, who belongs to a generation not generally known for their technological interest, never mind savvy. Yet Elaine Breakstone managed to publish this interesting (not just because I know her!) book, finding a cover designer, using Createspace to help with the layout, and putting it up on Amazon. Point is, if she can do it, you could too.
Alex McNab had his first fiction piece published in Still Crazy, suggested by fellow member Jacque Masumian. This is why we meet – to encourage each other and tell each other what works.
One submission tool that comes up at virtually every meeting is Duotrope. I mention it again for new members, and also for those of you who find submitting an overwhelming task.
Several members asked about how to write a really good query letter. We talked about Query Shark, a website run by agent Janet Reid who takes apart query letters she thinks aren’t any good, so you can see what not to do. One Rendezvous member suggested not sending a query letter to your top agent preferences first, in case the letter needs modification. After you’ve sent it to your second tier list, and modified the letter (assuming you don’t get an acceptance) submit to your A list.
An interesting article in Atlantic Monthly talks about the rise in women crime writers. I find this interesting, since in my book, so to speak, women authors have dominated crime since the 30’s (Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and forward). I guess what the writer is getting at is that women write better psychological crime – solving the crime isn’t just a technical puzzle, it’s an emotional one, too. Add to that the fact that over half crime readers are women, and you can see why women crime writers are so successful. A quick check of our membership shows a number of women crime writers among our members, but so far, no men.
Dogwood, the Fairfield University Literary magazine, is soliciting submissions for their 2017 Literary Prizes. If you don’t want to compete, but would like just to submit, you can do that, too.
Talking of submissions, here’s an article on why you should aim for 100 of them. Some of our members are working on it!
For non-fiction writers, Creative Nonfiction is running a workshop in Havana (Cuba) from January 31-February 4, 2017. It’s co-sponsored by the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, and will be led by Lee Gutkind, editor of Creative Nonfiction. It’s called: Bringing Havana to Life, and at least one of our members is setting her novel there. Even if you’re not, Havana? Sounds great.
I heard about Plot Control software from a friend. It’s designed to help with screenwriting, but as we know, plot structure doesn’t vary much between genres. However, this is not the only one out there. You might also look at Movie Outline, Save the Cat, and Final Draft. I think most of these will work for fiction, too, but don’t quote me.
For those people already published on Kindle, you can, in fact, sign your book for buyers. I asked A.J O’Connell about it when I interviewed her a while back. You can read more about Authorgraph here.
As ever, Writers Read will be at the Fairfield Pubic Library on Tuesday, August 2nd, from 7-9pm. On August 3rd, Jay McInerney is talking about his latest book at the Darien Library, and on Friday, August 5th, the Writers’ Salon will be meeting at the Fairfield Library from 4-6pm.
See you next month!
First, a big thank you to the 20 or so people who showed up for the Westport Writers’ Rendezvous today. It turned out to be an interesting meeting, as always. Here are some of the highlights:
The current (May/June) issue of Poets and Writers has a section on writing contests, and they offer a free submissions tracker if you enter huge any of the contests. They’re also offering 25% off advertising rates if you advertise your book in the July/August issue. I only mention this, because I’d forgotten all about print advertising as a way of promoting a book…
Aninka has been going to a class with Tessa McGovern at the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio – Writing Your Novel to Prompts. She highly recommends it, since she’s getting help with the plot structure of her ongoing project, as well as getting back to her desk with new scenes to use in the novel.
Penny Pearlman recommends an online editing tool you can find at ProWriting Aid. You can try it for free, and it’s very interesting. Apparently my writing (or the bit they analyzed) was cliché free, but what they picked up on was my English way of expressing myself. It actually gives specifics, not just general observations.
As a corollary (and in order to blame someone else for my writing style), I turned to a website called I Write Like This site analyzes a passage of your work, and tells you whom you most resemble. Apparently I write like Cory Doctorow OR James Joyce. (I tried it twice because I wasn’t sure about the result.) So, Cory Doctorow is a Canadian-British writer, and James Joyce is, you know, James Joyce. It’s a flattering comparison, but I sincerely hope my writing is more comprehensible than Joyce’s. Neither of them is American, which I guess is what the analysis picked up on. Give it a shot here.
Tricia Tierney, our Barnes and Noble angel (she lets us meet there) told us about an upcoming book signing by Betsy Lerner, author of The Bridge Ladies, and also a literary agent. It’s on May 14, at 3pm. If you come to hear her read and speak, don’t bring your manuscript – it might even get you blacklisted (I exaggerate, but you get it…). But she’s an interesting writer and has written several books, among them a book on the writing craft – The Forest for the Trees.
Another bookish event is Connecticut Authors Reading Series 3, hosted by Sophronia Scott at the Cyrenius Booth Library in Newtown, CT on May 1st at 2pm. Free, and refreshments provided, so a really refreshing afternoon all round.
BTW, Sophronia and her son are featured in the Tribeca Film Festival success, Midsummer in Newtown – a great documentary with a lot of heart. Keep an eye out for it.
Byrd’s Books in Bethel hold a twice-monthly writing workshop hosted by Judith Marks-White. It runs on the first and third Sunday of the month at 3pm. Cost $20.
Upcoming events at the Fairfield County Writers’ Workshop include How to Get Published on April 30th, at 10am with Cynthia Manson (agent) and Caitlin Alexander (editor). More information here.
The same day, The Westport Writers’ Workshop has a session with Suzanne Hoover from 2-4 in the afternoon: Essentials for the Fiction Writer. And they are hosting an Open House on Monday, April 25th from 5.30-7.30pm. It’s a good way to find out what they have to offer.
We had recommendations form several members for books helpful to writers:
Mary Carroll Moore: Your Book Starts Here
Blake Snyder: Save the Cat (screenwriting)
John Truby: The Anatomy of Story
Finally – the deadline for submitting to Glimmer Train’s Fiction contest is April 30th. There are two categories: Very Short Fiction (under 3000 words) and Fiction Open, bit with cash prizes. Every entry will be considered for publication and if chose, will be paid $700. Winners announced July 1st.
Enjoy the Spring, but don’t forget to write on…
I’m not sure where I came across Mslexia, but I’m very glad I did. It’s an online and paper quarterly magazine for women who write (but I don’t suppose they object if men care to read it too). They’re based in the UK, but their readership is global. Whether you’re published or not, there’s something here for you.
Among the many reasons I found them intriguing is that in addition to interesting and useful articles by other writers, Mslexia provides many chances for new writers to be published. They run high-profile contests for poets, novelists and short-story writers. Among the articles in the current (Summer 2012 issue) are a request for submissions to a women’s short story competition, an investigation into the lack of new gay women novelists, and an article on how to be a great reviewer. This last one interested me because I always feel my book reviews on Goodreads and Amazon are woefully lacking in analytical brilliance. Not only do they tell you how to write a good review, they then say they’re looking for good reviewers, so there’s a chance to actually use your new skill.
Another article was about what it takes to become a professional proof-reader/copy editor. Here’s what one of the editors they interviewed thought was important:
‘Prerequisites for the job? A fanaticism about perfection, an excellent knowledge of the relevant language and grammar, patience to work with the same material for hours on end and willingness to set aside your own creativity and voice to work on someone else’s.’
CLAIRE ELLIOT, freelance editor
They also list events and workshops for writers. Here are a few of the current ones:
A writing and yoga retreat in a beautiful old slate cottage just a mile from the sea in south Cornwall. 26-31 August.
A writing retreat on the beautiful wild island of Tanera Mòr, Summer Isles, North West Scotland, led by poet and novelist Mandy Haggith. 1-7 September 2012.
FictionFire offers creative writing day courses, mentoring, critiquing and editorial advice with novelist and experienced writing tutor Lorna Fergusson in Oxford.
Residential Courses at Ty Newydd Writers’ centre, Wales, include Creative Nonfiction with Horatio Clare (the writer-in-residence I wrote about) and Helena Drysdale (13-18 Aug); The Short Story with Patrick Gale and Salley Vickers (20-25 Aug); Storytelling Retreat with Hugo Lupton and Eric Maddern (24-29 Sep).
Skyros Writers’ Lab on the island of Skyros in Greece offers creative writing courses in Greece for writers, thinkers and dabblers including: The First Novel with Shelley Weiner (11-21 Aug, £995); Life Writing with Monique Roffey (21-31 Aug, £945); A Life Full of Stories with Amanda Smyth (1-11 Sep, £895); Your Writer’s Voice with Crysse Morrison (11-21 Sep, £845).
Almàssera Vellain Alicante, Spain offers low season retreats in their casa rural annexe as well as residential writing courses. 2012 tutors include: Jane Draycott, Mimi Khalvati, Judith Barrington, Mario Petrucci, Jo Shapcott, Nancy Shapiro, Simon Barron & Rosalind Brady, Christopher North and John Hartley Williams.
I think they’re worth a second look, and even a subscription, which I’ve just taken out.