Writers Organizations: Part 2

As promised yesterday, here’s a partial list of the organizations that support writers in the United States. I’m sure other countries have them too, and I know that many American societies welcome membership from abroad. Many of these associations have regional chapters with their own events, and although many of those are being held on Zoom right now, they’re still a great way to make new friends with the same goals.

One other suggestion, check Meetup.com. That’s where I list my writers’ groups, and there are literally hundreds of local groups for writers, poets, screenwriters, etc. These meetings are held online, as is everything else, but don’t let that stop you from meeting new writing friends.

SFWA (the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) is self-explanatory. One useful service they provide to the public at large is a page called Writer Beware, which looks at problems with publishers, agents, scams, and the like. If you’re looking to publish, particularly with a small or indie press, this is a good place to do a background check.

The WNBA (Women’s National Book Association) welcomes men and women interested in writing and marketing books. They have several regional chapters you can join.

The SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) has many local chapters and members who are always willing to give new writers a hand. They too have monthly online meetings.

The NAMW (National Association Of Memoir Writers) is for anyone writing memoir, personal essays, and creative nonfiction.

The Nonfiction Authors Association supports nonfiction writers and runs an annual contest too.

The Academy of American Poets is a national, member-supported organization that promotes poets and the art of poetry. They also sponsor national poetry events and poetry publications in order to advocate poetry.

There are even associations for people who write about cats and dogs. According to their website, the CWA  (Cat Writers Association) is a global cat-centric professional organization dedicated to excellence in written, visual, and audio media. Meow! And the DWAA (Dog Writers Association of America) encompasses all aspects of the world of dogs and is for anyone writing or communicating about dogs – mystery and fiction writers, poets, historians, photographers, and more. 

There are groups for writers in various religious genres (Christian, Catholic, Islamic), among others; and groups for writers of erotica; journalists; and military writers.

Writers’ Relief, a company that provides support services to writers and a useful newsletter, has an excellent article with more suggestions. Read it here.

I hope you find your tribe here somewhere.

In the meantime, keep writing!

 

Why I love Writers’ Organizations

I belong to a number of writing organizations, and have always found them interesting, though not necessarily vital. But this year has brought the value of the groups I belong to sharply into focus. In years past, I would join a group, attend occasional events, and skim their newsletters, while I wrote mainly on my own and hoped for the best. Sometimes I’d be asked to speak at a meeting. Occasionally I’d benefit from a new idea about how to tackle a specific craft element of writing – handling a dual timeline, structuring a personal essay, finding an editor – but these were largely peripheral to the main role writing played in my life. 

This year, though, I found myself with no writers’ meetings to go to, no conferences, and no workshops. I found that, to my surprise, I missed the company of other writers. And then my organizations stepped up to the plate.

I have to confess that I stepped up pretty early myself. I run three groups for writers: a monthly open mic, a monthly get-together where we talk and exchange ideas, and now a weekly write-in too, which I was asked to organize by the Pequot Library in Southport, CT. I transferred all meetings to Zoom beginning in March, and found, to my surprise and delight, that people from other states, and even Canada, who’d never have been able to join us before, were now attending. I was finally meeting people I’d only corresponded with until then.

Back to the writing organizations. I’ll start with ones I’m a member of. If they’re not right for you, there are bound to be others that are, and I’ll post a list of those tomorrow.

The WFWA, (Women’s Fiction Writers Association) holds daily (sometimes twice-daily) write-ins, where I check in, write for 90 minutes, and check out. I’ve been writing every day since the pandemic started-not something I could have said before. They run webinars with workshops on craft, book marketing, and more. And the joy of webinars is that you can watch them afterward if you can’t make the original time slot. Although there is something to committing oneself to a particular time that makes one more likely to stick to it. Through these activities, I’ve met dozens of new writer friends across the country – sometimes even from abroad.

The CTRWA (Connecticut Chapter of Romance Writers of America) holds monthly meetings for its members. They used to be held an hour away – now I can attend from the comfort of my office. The talks they offer can apply to almost any kind of fiction writing, and the camaraderie has made me new friends. To be a member, one has to belong to the national association (RWA), which has been controversial this year, resulting in a real effort to make the organization more aware of diversity issues in membership and publishing.

The Authors Guild is, as its name implies, for all authors. Among the services they provide are lawyers who will look at any contract (with an agent or publisher) and give you feedback on whether it makes sense or has unforeseen pitfalls. They can help you design a web page, and they have a daily conversation thread where you can ask for advice on any subject, knowing that other members will have experience with that issue. They also keep tabs on any industry controversies regarding pirated work or slow royalty payments, for example.

The CPC (Connecticut Press Club) is open to writers, bloggers, novelists, web designers, public relations, etc – in short, anyone connected with communications via the written word. Their annual Awards contest gives members a chance to enter their published work for a possible award, and they host occasional evenings with celebrated members of the writing and publishing world.

CAPA – the Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association has introduced me to new writers and ideas for how to publish your book. They too have monthly online meetings. 

I’m an unofficial member of the MWANE Mystery Writers of America’s New England Chapter. Not because I’m writing mysteries, but because I read them, attend conferences, and go to the occasional meeting. And I’ve interviewed some of the members for this blog. I first came across them at their annual conference, and learned a lot at the workshops they held there. I had to leave the room during the discussion of the decomposition of corpses,(way too detailed unless you write crime!) but in general, I found the sessions interesting and useful. 

You can find many of these entities on Facebook, if you’d like to see what they do, or ask members questions. More organizations tomorrow! 

 

Writers’ Rendezvous – December update

In spite of a gray day during which many people were out running holiday errands before the predicted foot of snow began to fall, nine people showed up for the Writers’ Rendezvous. This gave us a chance to discuss some … Continue reading

Author interview: Amy Sue Nathan

I met Amy Sue Nathan through the WFWA (Women’s Fiction Writers Association) and decided to read her latest book, The Last Bathing Beauty. I’m glad I did. It’s set at a Jewish summer resort on the shores of Lake Michigan, MI, and goes back and forth in time between 1951 and today. It’s a wonderful coming-of-age story that reflects some of the major ways in which our thinking has changed over the decades and the ways in which it hasn’t. In this novel, the influence of family means that the protagonist has to abandon her dreams and deal with the reckoning decades later.

It’s a perfect book club book, with plenty to discuss, but what stuck with me was the well-delineated characters and the seamlessly structured weaving of the stories. By the way, the Kindle version of The Last Bathing Beauty is available throughout December for $1.99, so you can download a copy now. Having enjoyed it so much, I asked Amy about it.

GC: I’d never heard of a summer resort like the Stern Resort, other than in the Catskills, and wondered how you came across the idea of setting your novel in Michigan. 

Old South Haven resort

ASN: I was introduced to the SW Michigan shore about 9 years ago and knew right away I wanted to set a novel there. After I’d begun thinking about this story, I discovered South Haven by a happy accident when I was doing some online research. When I visited South Haven, I met someone who grew up there in the fifties and she had many stories and lots of background material that helped me finish the book. So, I no longer believe in accidents. Some things are meant to be.

GC: How long have you been writing? Is this your first historical novel? 

ASN: I’ve always been a writer, and have been blogging about writing women’s fiction for several years at http://womensfictionwriters.com/. I started writing fiction in 2006. The Last Bathing Beauty is my first work of historical fiction and I’m hooked! My books tend to be about families and the ways they impact our lives, so one can write them in any period.

GC: Your story spans 1951 to today. What issues did you have in painting the picture of these two different social environments and the character attitudes over that time?

ASN: I took the treacherous route and wrote each timeline separately and then wove them together. As well as visiting South Haven, I did oral history and book research to get it right. The local historical association and the South Haven library had a wealth of background information.

GC: Novels with different timelines are notoriously difficult, so are you a plotter or pantser (someone who writes by the seat of their pants)?

ASN: I’m a 100% panster but I know my story in my head before I begin. If I know the ending, all I have to do is get there.

GC: What was the hardest part of writing this book? 

ASN: Definitely weaving the timelines!

GC: And finally, what are you working on now?

ASN: I just finished writing Well Behaved Wives due out in November 2021. It’s set in 1962 Philadelphia.

You can connect with Amy via her website, or on Instagram and Pinterest.

Writers’ Rendezvous – November update Part 2

I’m back with more suggestions for ways to keep your writing life going. For example…

Award-winning author and writing teacher Nora Raleigh Baskin is running a four-week workshop program for the Connecticut Library Association starting December 1, from 6-7:30pm). The cost for the entire program will be $100 for CLA members and $125 for non-members. Class size is limited, and each participant is expected to commit to the entire workshop series. Each session will build on the one before, so participants are asked to commit to the entire series. This program is a fundraiser for the Connecticut Library Association. Your fee goes back to CLA. because Nora Raleigh Baskin has donated her time and considerable expertise for the fundraiser. 

The Writers’ Rendezvous is a big supporter of the  Connecticut Press Club and its Awards contest, which is now open for submissions. If you’ve published anything in 2020, you may enter, and since there are 61 categories, you should be able to find your niche. They include all kinds of writing, as well as editing (of others’ published work), photography, graphics, radio and TV, websites, podcasts, advertising and PR, and a host more. You may submit up to three entries in any given category, and up to ten entries in total. The early deadline (which avoids an extra fee) is January 27, the deadline for books is February 3, and the final deadline is February 10.

Inkshares is a publisher with a difference. They work by crowd-funding your book. This article gives you Continue reading

Writers’ Rendezvous – November update: Part 1

We had a great meeting yesterday, with contributions from everyone who attended. People are getting things done in the writing sphere. Maybe not quite as much as they’d like to, but making progress all the same. Kudos to them all … Continue reading

Writers’ Rendezvous October update – Part 2

Welcome back! Here’s part two of the monthly update, with a couple of ideas for those doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), contests, and places to submit, among others.

Kelly Notaras, who runs an agency offering editing and coaching services for writers, is offering a free download of her book, Three Classic Book Outlines. If you’re planning on attempting NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), in November, it will probably help to be prepared, and this might help.

Jane Friedman

Need a virtual writing assistant? Jane Friedman drew my attention to a software program called Shortly. After setting up an account (free), you can input a sentence or two, click a button, and the AI will continue writing your story. Perhaps an alternative to staring at the wall or out the window when you experience writer’s block? Or when you’ve run out of NaNo steam…

Chat And Spin Radio is an Internet Radio Station based in the UK, broadcasting to half a million UK & International Listeners per week 24/7. They are looking for book authors, writers, etc, to carry out 10-minute live interviews for their Evening & Late Show. Email Ian Johnson at chatandspin@gmail.com for more information. Caveat: They may ask you for a donation after the interview, but one is not required.

Christopher Fielden (How to Write a Short Story) maintains a list of writing contests with links to them here. This particular link is for book and novel competitions, but he covers everything from short stories to flash fiction and more. They’re mainly British, which means that if you win, you can be an internationally award-winning writer. 🙂

Members looking for feedback on their writing can get it via Scribophile, where you’ll find thousands of other writers ready to critique work in your genre. You do the same for them.

Feedback is also available at FanStory. This is a paid subscription site, but it does offer helpful critiques for everything you write, and a lot of contests with cash prizes.  Some upcoming ones include Halloween flash fiction and poetry (deadline October 31), and dribble flash fiction (50 words), which closes November 4. You can try their one-week “worry-free” money-back guarantee to see if you like it.

Vellum is a beautiful book-formatting software program recommended by member Libby Waterford. Currently available for Mac only, and it costs around $250. Worth it if you’re planning to self-publish a number of books.

Libby also recommended BookSweeps, which is a particularly useful giveaway site if you’re trying to build your email list. She netted 600 new subscribers last time she did it. There’s a small fee to submit your giveaway, but since you’re giving away eBooks, it doesn’t cost you anything on the production end.

At the meeting, people were asking for places to submit humorous articles. Here are some of the suggestions made by members: Richard Seltzer likes humor print magazine American Bystander (submit to michaelgerber@gmail.com) and the online humor magazine Glossy News Satire. Alison McBain recommended Defenestration – a humorous literary magazine.

Authors Publish recently sent me a list of 27 publishers with good distribution, that accept unagented submissions.

And here’s a similar list of 30 publishing companies from Dave Chesson at Kindlepreneur.

Creative Nonfiction is currently seeking submissions of new nonfiction work by older (60+) writers. They’re looking for personal essays/memoir, experimental work, science writing, profiles, historical nonfiction, lyric essays … any kind of lively fact-based writing. Your work need not address issues related to age/aging. Up to 4000 words, with a deadline of February 22. $3 convenience fee for online submissions. Submit your work here.

And finally, do you know the difference between literary fiction, upmarket fiction, and commercial fiction? I thought my novel was commercial fiction, but it might be upmarket. Either way, I found this infographic from literary agent Carly Watters useful.

Until next month, keep writing!

Writers’ Rendezvous: October update – Part 1

I love the Zoom meetings we’re having with people from across the country. Writing can be lonely, but the lockdown has brought to the fore this great way of communicating. So, the WritersMic on Tuesday welcomed people from as far … Continue reading

Writers’ Rendezvous – September update

Elizabeth Chatsworth

Thank you to the members who persevered to get into the meeting when I had a Zoom fail this month. On the plus side, we were a select group, which gave us a chance to talk things over. Feeling overwhelmed by the current situation seemed to be a theme, so it was nice to have something to celebrate.

I’m delighted to tell you that Rendezvous member Elizabeth Chatsworth‘s debut novel was featured on the cover of Publisher’s Weekly on August 31. Please support her by marking it as want-to-read on your Goodreads page, or better yet, pre-ordering. (It takes a village, folks!) It’s called The Brass Queen and is a great read. Check out the details including an excerpt at the link.

Fairfield County Writers’ Studio is beginning its virtual fall classes this week. Each class lasts six or seven weeks and is limited to six students, so everyone gets personal attention. They include a class on food writing, taught by Rebecca Dimyan, A creative writing craft class taught by member Carol Dannhauser, two classes on writing for children and teens Continue reading

Writers’ Rendezvous: August update – Part 2

Here’s more information you may find of interest. Among other things, I will be running the Monday morning write-ins from 10-11:30ish indefinitely. So if you’ve had trouble concentrating, or sitting down to write, do not despair. Contact me for the … Continue reading