Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – May update

Thanks to the intrepid crowd who braved wet weather – and the aftermath of a small, but efficient, tornado which tore through Connecticut leaving a trail of fallen trees and dark homes behind – to come into the warmth and bright lights of Barnes & Noble in Westport on Wednesday. We had lots to talk about – you can find the highlights below.

61BeyzvWcbLUp first, this Saturday morning, May 19, (but after the Royal Wedding…) Fairfield County Writers’ Studio is offering a master class by best-selling mystery author, publisher and all-around great guy Chris Knopf. Titled: The Secret Life of Successful Mysteries, it’s geared toward mystery writers, but all novelists will benefit from Chris’ expertise. From 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or thereabouts Continue reading

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Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – April update

First things first: Several of our members will be at the Westport Library’s Makers’ Faire tomorrow, April 21, with their books. Among them are: Kristen Ball, Sheryl Kayne, Ann Lineberger, and yours truly. Come and talk to us, and check out the books. There’s no obligation to buy (though we always love that!).
To honor National Poetry Month, I’m starting with poets. Member Alison McBain has put together a list of poetry workshops and readings, open to everyone. She and member Ed Ahern have started the Poets Salon Meetup, which takes place once a month, and where you can take your poetry for critique. Sign up for monthly reminders of meetings, and to connect with fellow poets. Ed also offers helpful suggestions on where to submit, etc, on the Meetup site. th

The Writer’s Group meets on the first and second Saturday of the month from 2-4pm in Bridgeport.

And on April 26, Alison McBain will be reading her work at 7:30pm at the Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn. The event marks the launch of the book: Aftermath: Explorations of Love and Grief, Check the happening out here.

The Westport Writers’ Workshop, which runs writing classes, is now offering a series of one-day classes, beginning this Saturday, April 21. They include Icing the Cake, The Power of ‘What If,’ Writing Through Motherhood, and Navigating the Publishing World. For a full list, see here.

 
The Nonfiction Writers Online Conference takes place from May 2-4 from 12pm-6pm. It looks as though it’s designed largely for those who’ve self -published, since a great deal of the focus is on how to market your book. The keynote speaker is Gretchen Rubin, talking about Habits, Happiness and Productivity for writers, and sessions include Effective Hybrid Publishing, Reach Millions with an Audiobook Presentation and Create Your Own Book Tour. You can check out the agenda online, and if you book by April 28, Sandra Beckwith of Build Book Buzz is offering a 35% discount off the fee of $125. Use her exclusive coupon code – BBB35

If you have a manuscript and you’re ready to take it to the next level, member Veronique Klemow suggests The Manuscript Academy. This online site offers various srvices for authors, ranging from a ten-minute phone meeting, with one page (your query or first page) read during the meeting, for $49, to critiques of your first 50/100 pages for $240/$480 respectively. They’ll critique your synopsis and proposal, too. Veronique felt the money was well spent.

Those of you looking for editors might want to take a look at Joanna Penn’s blog post on The Creative Penn. She lists a number of online resources from Winning Edits, to The Book Butchers. ‘We slaughter your writing, so it can rise in glory from the ashes.‘ There has to be someone on that list who’s right for you

A useful and free resource for finding places to submit is the weekly email from
Submittable. They list different types of publications and tell you whether they pay or not.

And finally, a quote via Alex McNab: You expect far too much of a first sentence. Think of it as analogous to a good country breakfast: what we want is something simple, but nourishing to the imagination. Hold the philosophy, hold the adjectives, just give us a plain subject and verb and perhaps a wholesome, nonfattening adverb or two.—LARRY McMURTRY

Keep writing!

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – March update – Part 2

As I was saying…there was lots to talk about on Wednesday, so here’s part 2 of the update. Part 1 had the info for contests and submissions with deadlines coming up soon. This one starts with May deadlines…

ASJA – the American Society of Journalists and Authors has it’s conference scheduled for May 18-19 at the Sheraton Times Square. Conferences like this are not always so easily accessible, so it’s worth a look.

Creative NonFiction, the print and online journal, is looking for submissions on the topic of Home by May 21. They’re looking for true stories about finding a place in the world to call your own. Their next topic is Let’s Talk About Sex , with submissions due July 16. They want true stories about doing it—whether you’re straight, gay, or other; alone, in a couple, or in a crowd; doing it for the first time or the last, or not doing it at all. They’re offering $1,000 Continue reading

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – March update-Part 1

You may remember me nagging you to enter the Connecticut Press Club Awards Contest earlier this year. If you did, good for you. If not, you might wish you had! Member Veronique Klemow placed first in the short story division, and I came second. Mar-Lou Newkirk placed second in the Writing for the Web section (along with her daughter Laurie). It’s a good way to start Spring!

The fifth Annual Norwalk LitCrawl is taking place next Tuesday, April 3, beginning at the Wall Street Theater at 5:30pm before moving out to read at restaurants – including Aji10, Banc House, Fat Cat, and Peaches – from 6:30 – 8:00 pm. Free appetizers will be provided courtesy of the restaurants, and a cash bar will be available for all attendees. URGENT: If you have poetry of your own (up to 3 minutes) and would like to read, please email Christine Bradley, Library director, at cbradley@norwalkpubliclibrary.org by this Friday, March 30, Include your introduction (why you chose to read that poem, etc.)  to let her know what you will be reading , and include a one or two line bio, that the host can use to introduce you. Also, let them know if you have a preferred venue and the approximate time at which you’d like to read. Tickets are $10.

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WestportWRITES has extended the deadline for their 10-minute plays, because they cancelled the workshop session due to snow, and have to reschedule it. So you still have time to submit. The play 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 30. Submit to Westportwrites@gmail.com, and put Playground Westport in the subject line.

Southeast Review has extended the deadline for its World’s Best Short Story and Gearhart Poetry contests. Submit your work by March 31st in order to be considered for $1000 and publication in their next issue. This year’s Short Story Contest will be judged by Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler. The poetry contest will be judged by poet and fiction writer Barbara Hamby, a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship. Check the journal’s Submittable page for more information and to submit.

Missouri Review’s annual Miller Audio Prize closes for submissions on April 2. The
entry fee is variable between $10-30 (you choose how much) and includes a one-year digital subscription to the Missouri Review, which normally costs $24. All entries must be 15 minutes or shorter. Multiple entries must be accompanied by a separate donation for each. Previously published or aired pieces are acceptable as long as you, the entrant, hold the rights.

The Westport Library’s next mini-conference will be held from 1-5pm on April 8. The topic is Write Your Business, and will feature guests speakers Alice Mattison and Aubrey Sitterson. Join in-depth discussions about what it takes to make it as a writer in today’s climate, including traversing social media in a way that makes sense to help promote your work and propel your career.

Members Alison McBain and Ed Ahern have started a new Meetup for poets. The poetry discussion/critique group will meet the second Saturday of each month. The first meeting is on April 14 in the Jennings room of the Fairfield Library’s main branch from 10-12 am. You may bring your poetry for critique, or come to hear others. Sign up at the link above for more information.
Member Bernice Rocque will be at the Wednesday Night Writers group on April 18, at the Trumbull Public Library from 6:30-8:30 pm. She’ll be discussing some of the challenges of publishing a print book with color interior pages. If you’re writing a book that includes photographs, and are planning to self-publish, Bernice has a lot of experience in this area, and is worth meeting.

CRAFT is an online literary journal which explores the art of fiction. Their current contest in short fiction (up to 6,000 words) closes on April 30. The first prize is $2000. Simultaneous submissions (previously unpublished work only) are allowed, but please inform them if your story has been accepted elsewhere. As with many contests with cash prizes, there’s a $20 reading fee per story.

The Fairfield County Writers Studio is offering several useful classes and workshops right now, among them, The Ultimate Writers’ Workshop with Carol Dannhauser, which starts March 29, from 12:30-2:30, and The Art and Craft of Novel Writing, Level Two, with Stephanie Lehmann on Mondays, 2:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m., Starts April 16, 2018
Also in April (date to be confirmed) agent Marilyn Allen will be showing us how to write a query letter that grabs an agent’s or publisher’s attention. In this master class, you’ll get insider tips and techniques to accomplish just that.

There’s so much information this month that I’ll be posting part two in a couple of days, just to give you a breather, but all the upcoming time-sensitive dates are here. Happy writing

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 Writers’ Rendezvous – January edition

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.

grafixAlso tomorrow, January 20, the Westport Library’s WestportWRITES is holding an off-campus mini-conference – Write Your Graphic NovelContinue reading

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – December update

He had another good meeting, with friends old and new, thanks to our hosts, the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio in Westport. Those who weren’t there missed home-baked cookies provided by Kristin Ball. Thanks, Kristin!

I’m starting with the closest deadline this month, and moving on to some of the plethora of writing activities we’re lucky enough to have around here.

So, first, Highly respected literary journal Glimmer Train is at the mid-point of its final Very Short and Family Matters contests of 2017.
The Very Short Fiction Award (1st place wins $2,000 and publication) Continue reading

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – November update

In spite of this being NaNoWriMo (National Novel-Writing Month) month, sixteen of us showed up to hang out with other writers. A couple of our members were ahead of the game in terms of numbers of words written, some had stalled but were gamely going to keep trying. Either way, well done, I say!

If you’re looking for a quiet place to work (on your novel or any other writing) The Fairfield County Writers’ Studio is having open days on November 17, 18, 20, 21, 27 and 28. Hours vary, so be sure to check their site.If you have taken a paid workshop with them, you can come in and write for free on those days. If you haven’t, you can buy a one-day pass for $25. They’d like to know you’re coming, so either register here, or email them at info@FCWritersStudio.com.

There are a lot of writing events happening around us – here are just a few:

Next Tuesday, November 21,  is WritersMic night at Panera’s in Westport 7-8.45PM. Come and read something for five minutes or so, or come to listen.

November 18, 2:00-3:30 PM Writer and published author Professor Elizabeth Hilts leads a Continue reading

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – October update

It’s as though the entire writing world has woken up at once and is raring to go. If you’re not prepping for NaNoWriMo, or going to mini-conferences, you’re probably at write-ins, or book signings. And among the main providers of opportunities for writers are the local libraries. Read on for activities in Westport, Darien, New Rochelle and Durham… A propos of NaNoWriMo, where your daily counts soon become an obsession, member Elizabeth Chatsworth recommends a useful goal-setting tool for checking your progress called Pacemaker. And it’s free.

typingSunday, October 22, 1-5pm Darien Library: Get ready for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) by developing your plot in during the Busy Writer’s One Hour PlotWorkshop. The hardest part of plotting is just building a workable framework so you can get on with the actual writing. Taught by Roman Godzich – free. While you’re at it, check out their Writers’ Workshop (next one on November 16, 7-8.30pm).

Sunday, October 22, 3pm: Member Kate Mayer will be reading at Read 650 event at the New Rochelle Public Library. Topic: The Kids are All Right.

Thursday, October 26, 7-9pm: Liv Constantine will be signing her latest book, The Last Mrs. Parrish, at the Fairfield University Bookstore in downtown Fairfield.

Saturday, October 28, 12 – 2:30pm: Member Susan Israel will be reading from and signing her books at Elm Street Books in New Canaan

Saturday, November 4, from 1-5pm: At the Durham Public Library – A Writing Workshop with Alice Mattison: Join acclaimed novelist and writing teacher Alice Mattison to explore the question, “What Does Your Novel Want?” Space limited. Registration required   Register Online or call (860) 349-9544, ext. 1.

Saturday, November 4, 1-4pm: WestportWRITES mini-conference: Discovering the Feminist YA Voice with Authors Jennifer Mathieu and Micol Ostow. At the Westport Library. Free.

Sunday, November 5, 1-5pm: WestportWRITES mini-conference: Write Your World, exploring writing that celebrates a more inclusive world. Features a keynote by author and Lambda Literary Award finalist Chavisa Woods (Things to Do When You’re Goth in the Country). Novelist and Chocolatier Nikki Woolfolk will present an interactive workshop exploring race and representation in storytelling. And author Stephen Graham Jones (Mapping the Interior, My Hero) At the Westport Library. Free.

Preceding every mini-conference, there is a Writers Survival Camp at noon (register online) that focuses on activities to help you survive the writing life. nano

Westport Library Write-In: Come work on your novel in the company of other writers. As if that weren’t enough, they are planning a new podcast series: One-Shot Stories from the Westport Library, as well as a WestportWRITES  compilation/anthology to be published on their newly acquired Espresso Machine. (See my earlier blog post to find out what that is!)

I found this interesting article from Amazon: A publishing checklist for authors. This is part of a new Beta service/blog called author insights, and offers a simple way of knowing what Amazon wants/expects you to do, if nothing else.

Once you have all your ducks in a row, there are several ways to pitch your work, and those of us who’ve tried them have had some success. The first three Pitch Mad, Pitch Madness and Pitch Wars, which takes place every August. They’re run by author Brenda Drake. Pitch Wars offers a two month mentorship for winning submissions to help get you an agent. Pitch Madness is a contest held every March, where writers enter for a chance to win requests from the participating agents. Writers submit a 35-word (max) pitch and the first 250 words of their completed manuscript on submission day. Then a team of readers choose the top sixty (60) entries to go onto the agent round. #PitMad is a pitch party on Twitter where writers tweet a 140 character pitch for their completed, polished, unpublished manuscripts. It takes place quarterly, and the next one is scheduled for December 7, 2017.

These contests work – there’s proof on the site.

Another, similar idea, is offered on Query Kombats, by Melissa Hauck. The rules are a bit complicated, since it’s a knockout contest, so hit the link to find out more. Her second contest is Nightmare on Query Street, whose submissions closed today, but at least you have time to plan ahead for next year…

If you need a hand finishing your work, you can take an online class with Catapult.com. One of our members is trying one, and promises to let us know what she thinks of it.

Lastly, here’s an intriguing, not to say, Quixotic, place to submit a hundred word story (or two). The César Egido Serrano Foundation is a non-profit whose objective is to use words and dialogue to promote understanding between different cultures and religions. The competition first prize is $20,000 for the best short story. All entries will be evaluated by an international jury of great prestige, and the finalist’s stories will be published. A maximum of two stories per person of no more than 100 words each, should be submitted via this link.

 

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous – September update

This month’s meeting found a group of energized writers at the Westport branch of Barnes & Noble – now with a new Starbucks, thank heavens. Meetings are so much more relaxed with a cup of joe, I find. Doesn’t make sense, when I come to think of it, but… A mixture of regular and new members made for an lively discussion, as always.

Upcoming events

51bWUtfBDGL._SY346_Member Gilda Dangot Simpkin will do a talk about her newly published memoir My Baby Chase at the Ansonia Library on Wednesday evening at 6:00pm. Publishing karma suggests that if we show up for other writers, they’ll show up for us. J

Member Kate Mayer has a couple of readings coming up. The first is on October 11 at the Newtown Cultural Arts Commission. She follows that with a reading as a part of the Kids are Alright program, Oct 22, 3pm, at New Rochelle Public Library. The reading is organized under the auspices of Sarah Lawrence College by Read 650. Check the link for submission guidelines.

The Booth Library in Newtown will hold its Connecticut Writers Read event this Saturday, September 23, from 2-4pm. Always interesting, and a great chance to meet other writers.

3 Birds Productions is holding its Second Norwalk Community Storytelling Event: Secrets on October 3rd, from 7-9pm at the Ischoda Yacht Club in Norwalk, CT. $10 admission includes one drink and snacks. Cash bar thereafter. 21 years of age. RSVP, please: Info@3BirdsProductions.org

519WwkCvrsL._SY346_Local author Sophronia Scott  is launching her new novel, Unforgivable Love, a retelling of Dangerous Liaisons set in the glittering and dramatic world of 1930s and 40s Harlem. The event will be held at the Cyrenius Booth Library in Newtown CT, on Thursday, October 5 at 7:00pm.

Upcoming classes and workshops

September certainly seems to be the time when activities for writers really kick off. All the local schools are beginning classes, and it’s not too late to sign up for something if you’re interested. Here are a few ideas:

The Westport Library’s Westport Writes program is starting the year with a mini conference on Sunday, Oct 1, from 1-5:00pm. The program actually starts with a luncheon from 11 am-1 pm with a keynote by novelist Rachel Basch (The Listener, The Passion of Reverend Nash) designed to be a pep talk for writers. Registration required. 

Among the other speakers are Michael Kingston, the creator of Headlocked, Christopher Mari and Jeremy K. Brown, co-authors of the Amazon bestseller sci-fi thriller Ocean of Storms, and literary agent Dawn Frederick, founder of Red Sofa Literary.

51fViXjR0YLThe WestportWrites program is also offering two classes: Advanced Writing begins on October 3, with classes every two weeks from 1-2.45pm. Introductory Non-fiction begins on Thursday October 5th, from 1.15-2.45pm. More details about the program here. Classes are run by Mary-Lou Weisman, whose latest book is Playing House in Provence.

The Fairfield County Writers’ Studio is beginning its fall classes soon. Here are just some of their offerings, but there are many more.  Rachel Basch Creative Writing starts Sept. 26; Victoria Sherrow Writing for Children and Teens Level 1Level 2 begins Sept. 28; Jacqueline Burt Cote Writing & Motherhood:Finding Your Voice starts Oct. 3; Stephanie Lehmann Writing the Novel begins October 4;They add new workshops each week, which you can find here.

Gotham Writers in NYC is hosting two open houses on September 26 and 27. You can sample a free one-hour class in your preferred genre to see if it’s for you by signing up here

Write Yourself Free, now in Norwalk, is accepting enrollments on a rolling basis. Find out what they’re offering here

Odds & Ends

There are a number of useful blogs for writers out there – among them are the one written by Jane Friedman editing, and another by Sandra Beckwith, on how to promote your book. The Creative Penn has an article on ways to improve your WordPress website using various plugins. I find Joanna Penn worth following since she interviews a variety of people about how to write and how to publish.

Member Alex McNab recommends a new book by the great New Yorker nonfiction writer John McPhee, Draft No. 4, a guide to writing long-form nonfiction. If you’d like to find out more, check out a terrific Q&A with McPhee by one of his former Princeton students at the Barnes & Noble Review.

See you next month!