Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – August update

We’ve had a couple of great days, as we always do in the third week of the month. The WritersMic Meetup was terrific, with another batch of varied reads. If you think you’d like to come and read or to listen, sign on at the Meetup link above. We’d love to have you!

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Just some of the Rendezvous members – looking happy after the meeting

On Wednesday, a dozen or more of us showed up for the Writers’ Rendezvous at Barnes & Noble in Westport to be deafened by the sound of jackhammers – inside the store. Worse than that, the area being worked on was the café, so we were deprived of coffee too! Undeterred, member Gina Ryan suggested we meet al fresco, which was lovely until the construction trucks drove by, causing yours truly to signal them rather rudely and to absolutely no avail…

The item that caught everyone’s interest actually came at the very end of the meeting, when we go around and say what we hope to get done before we meet again. Member Elizabeth Chatsworth casually said “I’m going to have my computer read my novel aloud.” An eruption of questions prompted her to explain. MS Word has a text-to-speech feature which will read your work, without much expression, but accurately, so you can hear where you might have repeated yourself, skipped a word, or said something clumsy. I’m a fan of reading one’s work aloud – it helps me see where the flow becomes wonky, but when I do it I’m apt to supply a missing word, or even replace something without noticing. The computer doesn’t care – it will read what you wrote while you take notes, or stop it to correct things. Elizabeth supplied me with a link which explains how to enable the text-to-speech feature in Word. She also sent me the info on a free tool, Natural Readers, that claims to sound more natural. I’m not sure how much better it is, but it does offer different accents, if that’s your thing.

The Ridgefield Writers Conference is happening from September 22-23 at the Ridgefield Library. Run by Adele Annesi and Rebecca Dimyan, it features a great list of presenters. It is a juried event, so if you want to attend, you’ll need to send them a one page sample of your writing. Check the site for details.

Dogwood, Fairfield University’s Literary magazine, is open for submissions to their next contest. They charge to submit, but offer prizes in poetry, nonfiction, and fiction – three prizes of $1,000 each for the best story, essay, and poem submitted.   Enter by clicking this link.

Member Ed Ahern found this article about author etiquette on Amazon and, incidentally, how to avoid trolls. Among the suggestions are: Don’t spam/Never trade reviews for books/Never diss other authors/Don’t pay for customer reviews /never respond to reviews/Always report abuse/avoid certain sites/Don’t stray from your genre…

Along the same lines, here’s one on how to get book reviews as an unknown author by Jason B Ladd on the Creative Penn website. This is a good website to subscribe to if you’re an indie author. Joanna Penn, who runs it, has succeeded as an indie author (she may even have coined the term) by working very hard. I began by listening to her podcast, where she interviews fellow authors while she was still writing her first book, and then subscribed to her blog.

For those of you looking for an agent, Publishers Marketplace produces a daily email you can subscribe to, which will keep you abreast of all developments in the publishing world. It’s called Publisher’s Lunch and although there’s almost too much information if you’re not looking right now, you might want to make a note of it.

Looking for help with your query letter for a novel? Writers’ Relief has some suggestions. You can read the article here.

If you need beta readers, or you want to become one, Goodreads can help. One of their groups is Beta Reading and Editing, and you can post your willingness/availability/charges, or look for someone to read your work. They will send you occasional email updates, but to get the most from it, you should check it regularly yourself. I don’t need to tell you that the advantage of having a beta reader you don’t know is that they don’t know what you’re trying to say, either. And if they don’t get it, they’ll tell you so. Don’t rely on your cousin Antonia!

Finally – enjoy the rest of the summer – our next meetings will be on September 19th and 20th. Look forward to seeing you there. If you have anything to add or correct, please let me know in the comments.

And if you like this blog, please follow it. Thanks!

 

 

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – July update

We had a smaller group yesterday – the effect of summer, no doubt, but the conversation was animated and a number of people got answers to questions like “How do I go about getting a website?”

The answer to that one, by the way, was:

  1. Decide what domain name you want – one for you and one for the title of your book
  2. Get that name registered on any social media you can think of. You don’t need to use the social media site yet, but you want to be able to in the future.
  3. WordPress, Wix and Squarespace were recommended as sites that would let you design and manage your own website. There are sites on the web where you can compare the relative benefits of these, before you make a decision.The New York Times ran a recent article about making your own website, too.
  4. A recent blog post by Jane Friedman, writing guru, might help answer the question, too. So You’re an Author Without a Social Media Presence: Now What? (Thanks, Alex McNab for this and other suggestions further down the page.)

And talking about websites, one of our members, Elizabeth Chatsworth, has an audio sample of her writing on her site, even though the book isn’t finished yet. It’s a good idea and worth listening to. in the spring, I went to a class on how to record a podcast, which may now come in handy, since there’s a decent chance I may be able to publish one of my stories with an audio version available in the online version. You never know…

B&N storytelling 071917 editedBarnes & Noble in Westport, our gracious hosts for the Writers’ Rendezvous, have started a series of storytelling evenings, which, as it happens, are also on the third Wednesday of the month, and worth putting on your calendar. You’ll hear people telling their story without reading it, and it’s remarkably inspiring. Here I am, telling my story, and in spite of my accidentally pained expression, I’m having fun.

For blog readers or members who live in Norwalk, 3Birds Productions is having a community-building evening of stories next Tuesday, July 25 from 7-9pm at Harbor Harvest (7 Cove Avenue in Norwalk). The theme is Maiden Voyage, and you have 5 minutes to tell your story. Or you can come and just listen (from anywhere).

A couple of members asked for links to Autocrit, a software that does an edit on your writing and finds, in addition to typos, repetition, etc, a lot of your quirks, so you can change them if you want to. Duotrope, where all the best places to submit are listed, should be bookmarked by now!

I came across an article entitled Does Amazon KDP select help you sell more books? It’s not too long, so an easy read, and the general conclusion seems to be that Kindle Direct Publishing  works well for one 3-month enrollment per year, but perhaps not more.

Alex recommends an interview with Crime/mystery novelist Walter Mosley in The Paris Review  – Art of Fiction series, and a New York Times article about Junot Diaz writing a children’s book, headlined Child to Novelist: ‘Tell Me a Story’

Last month I mentioned CAPA, which I joined. Their local chapter has regular meetings in Shelton, and they’re also affiliated with APSS – the  Assn of Publishers for Special Sales, who offer special rates at events where you can sell your book.

A couple of free ideas: Penguin books is offering a free Guide to short story writing for download. And if you’re missing your critique group or want to start one but members live in various different places, Zoom Room offers free videoconferencing to help you out.

I’m going to see the movie Dunkirk this weekend, partly because my Polish father was one of the soldiers rescued from the beaches there. The Poles don’t often get a mention, but my dad, who was in France when war broke out, fought with the French and then the British. I happened to write about him on my personal blog a couple of weeks ago, if you’d like to read it. And if you want to read more posts like it, feel free to follow me!

Stay cool!

 

 

 

 

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 – 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…

 

 

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 – February update

So much good stuff from the meeting last Wednesday, and more streaming into my mailbox since that I thought you might like. So here goes:

First, the first WritersMic Meetup is taking place tomorrow, Tuesday, February 21st, at Panera’s in Westport from 7-8.45pm. If you’d like more details, join the Meetup online, and you’ll get reminders every month. I’m planning to hold them on the 3rd Tuesday of each month. You can bring a 5-minute (or less) piece to read, and we’ll get through as many as possible.

This Saturday, February 25th, the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio is offering a morning workshop led by Kim Caldwell on the route to publishing your book.  She’ll discuss the main paths to publication – self-publishing, traditional publishing, independent presses, digital-only and more. And she’ll explain what you need to know before you choose your path, what factors influence that choice, and a host of other topics you might not have explored. $45. Register here.

The Poetry Foundation is running the Emily Dickinson First Book Award – designed to recognize an American poet of at least 40 years of age who has yet to publish a first collection of poetry. They’re looking for one book-length poetry, and will publish the winning book as well as offering a $10,000 prize.  The competition is open to any American citizen forty years of age or over who has not previously published a book-length volume of poetry. Submissions close on February 27!

Stalwart member Kate Mayer sent me this information about the storytelling event Listen To Your Mother NYC. The show is nationwide, but this may be the last year it runs. Auditions need to be scheduled by appointment via http://listentoyourmothershow.com/nyc/

Kate took part in 2012 – she was touching and funny, of course – and met some incredible writers. Men, women, anyone can audition, the only requirement is the topic motherhood. Auditions take place in New York Feb 26-March 2, and the actual event is on May 6th.

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The Unicorn Writers’ Conference is taking place March 25 in Manhattanville College, Westchester. Check my previous post for details.

The Connecticut Book Awards are back in business, and it’s time to submit. The awards include a category for books for young readers, both authors and illustrators, as well as fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The deadline for submission is April 21, 2017, and the winners will be announced this October. Your work should have been published in 2016, have a valid ISBN number and you should be a resident of Connecticut or have set the book mainly in Connecticut.
More information about guidelines and entry fees, as well as how to apply, is available at the Connecticut Center for the Book website.

The Connecticut chapter of Romance Writers of America is offering a two-day mini-conference open to all writers, April 1-2, in Norwalk. The morning session is entitled Winning the Promo Game: a practical class focused on helping authors develop a personalized promotional strategy that reflects their work and personal style. The afternoon will cover The Romantic Plot: form vs. formula

Gotham Writers in NYC is running a contest everyone can enter. They’re looking for a 50-word (yes really -50 words) on the theme: Be a Hero. Deadline: May 29.

The Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence is holding their fourth annual Publish and Promote your Book Conference on June 24.

And if you’re not at that point, perhaps you’d like their Joe PapaleoWriters’ Workshop in Cetara, Italy, July 8-15, which combines writing and painting.

Member Bernice Roque has provided a link to the new blog article, the first part of a 3-part series. It gives you ideas for organizing your book project more effectively. Check it out.

Writers Digest has an interesting post with suggestions of what to do after attending a writing conferences

Submit a 10-minute Play at Darien Library. Playwrights are invited to submit their final scripts for consideration to the Catherine Lindsey Actors/Playwrights contest by April 7th. They accept musicals, monologues, short scenes from full-length and one-act plays. When writing your piece please keep in mind that the number of cast members is limited, only one play may be submitted per person, and plays must be 10-minutes long or less. Please limit your plays to 10-pages double-spaced, 12 point font.

Writers’ Relief, that very reliable service for writers, now offers web design services. Even if you don’t use them, their blog is worth signing up for, because of its writing tips. Here’s the latest on the evolving trends in author web design:

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 … Continue reading

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!