Welcome to Part 2 of the Writers’ Rendezvous update. I’m enjoying the last relatively free weekend before the holidays are upon us and thinking about all the writing events and contests I can still submit to. Here’s the first:
The Connecticut Press Club’s Annual Communications Contest is ready for your submissions. If you live or work in Connecticut, and have published anything at all in 2019 (there’s still time, folks!), you’re eligible. To enter, follow the directions on the contest site. There are sixty-one different categories, so there’s sure to be one for you. Email CTcontestDir@charter.net with questions about the contest. And they’re looking for judges, so if you’re willing to volunteer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to let them know. The fee for CT Press Club members is $25 for the first entry and $15 for each additional entry. The non-member fee is $30 for the first entry and $20 for each additional entry. The early deadline to submit entries Continue reading →
I was at the Plumb Library in Shelton recently, as the featured speaker for the monthly meeting of SW CAPA, the SW chapter of the Connecticut Authors & Publishers Association. I gave a talk about Overcoming the Obstacles to Getting your Work Published, and you can watch the YouTube video here. Go to minute 16, to avoid listening to audience chitchat before the main event! If you’d like a copy of my notes, with links to all the helpful sites I mention, email me via the contact page, Continue reading →
Writers’ Rendezvous member Elizabeth Chatsworth has just announced a book deal for her brilliant book, The Brass Queen, which will be published by Equinox Books in 2020! This terrific result is the result of Elizabeth’s persistence and the fact that she pursued all possible (and some unlikely) avenues to bring the book to the attention of agents and publishers. In her blog today, she thanks the long list of people who helped her get there. Please read it, so you know how much work is involved in achieving overnight success!
Here’s the draft cover copy for the novel:
In 1897, a fiery British aristocrat and an inept US spy search for a stolen invisibility serum that could spark a global war.
Miss Constance Haltwhistle is the last in a line of blue-blooded rogue inventors. Selling exotic firearms under her alias, the ‘Brass Queen,’ has kept her baronial estate’s coffers full. But when US spy, Trusdale, saves her from assassins, she’s pulled into a search for a scientist with an invisibility serum. As royal foes create an invisible army to start a global war, Constance and Trusdale must learn to trust each other. If they don’t, the world they know will literally disappear before their eyes.
How could you resist, right? Please sign up on Goodreads to let them know you “Want to Read” it. Be part of the village that supports this writer. 🙂
We had another successful meeting on Wednesday, and covered a variety of topics, from classes to contests. I’ll start with upcoming events for writers. If you want more suggestions, or have an event you’d like to add, check the calendar on this page. Part 2 of this update will be appearing on Monday.
Here’s the second half of the September update, with lots of events, places to submit, and a couple of useful websites for authors, including one that helps you generate your plot, if you’re stuck.
It’s never too soon to begin preparing for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November, so Roman Godzich, author of No Higher Ground, is offering a NaNoWriMo Plotting Workshop at the Storytellers Cottage in Simsbury on October 19 from 1-2:30pm. This workshop will help you develop an outline of a plot for your NaNo novel. You’ll learn how to lay out the three acts of your story and how to define your protagonists and antagonists and their goals, plus you will walk away with a full outline for your novel. COST: $30. Pre-registration required.
If you’re writing flash fiction, here’s your chance to submit to CRAFT’s first flash fiction contest for unpublished stories up to 1,000 words. Three winning stories will each receive: $1,000 and publication in CRAFT. Deadline October 31.
The annual Dorothy and Wedel Nilsen Literary Prize for a First Novel is to identify and publish completed fiction manuscripts (novels, novellas, and linked collections) of high literary quality by authors who have not previously published such a work. (This includes self-publishing.) Prize: $2,000 and publication. Deadline November 1. Details at the link above.
Bateau Press is accepting manuscripts for the annual Boom Poetry Chapbook Contest.
The winning chapbook is a handmade, hand-sewn, letter pressed work of art. Winner gets $250 plus 25 copies. Print run of 400 chaps. $14 entry fee includes a copy of the winning chapbook (or any chap in their catalogue). Deadline: November 1.
Hold the Date: The Fairfield Library’s second annual Writers’ conference is scheduled for Saturday, November 2, from 9:15-4:30pm. I’ll be one of the speakers there, and I’ll let you have more details as I have them. You might want to sign up now, though, since spaces will be limited to a hundred, and some have already gone. Free.
Crime Bake, which takes place from November 8-10, in Woburn, Massachusetts, is the premier conference for crime-fiction writers and readers in New England. It offers numerous opportunities to meet and network with agents, editors, and authors in a small, friendly environment. Updates will tell you if it’s sold out yet. This year’s guest of Honor is British writer Ann Cleeves, author of the Shetland crime novels, and those featuring Vera Stanhope.
Andrea Penrose returns to the Pequot Library on Saturday, November 9, from 11-1pm for a craft talk on A Writer’s Life. She will be talking about: inspiration, historical fiction, publication journey, critique groups, and what a regular writing day entails. Attend with your questions and get ready to be inspired.
Authors Publish has produced a list of publications currently open to reprints, so if you have published work you’d like to see published again, now’s your chance. Sign up for their newsletter to be updated regularly.
So happy to see twenty or so members at today’s Rendezvous. I love the way people stay on after, to ask questions, introduce themselves and generally have a good time. Partly because of the local super-event, the Saugatuck StoryFest, which is happening soon, I’ve split this update into two. Here’s Part 1.
The Pequot Library is presenting From Tension to Tenderness: Healing the Mother/Adult Daughter Relationship, tomorrow, Thursday, September 19, from 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Hear from member Marlou Newkirk and her daughter Laurie, the co-founders of motherrr.com, which focuses on healing this dynamic relationship.
This Saturday, September 21, take advantage of the free monthly Memoir Writing Workshop with Brian Hoover, 10:30-12:00, in the Bridgeport Library’s History Center, 925Broad Street, 3rd floor.
Like other members of the Westport Writers Rendezvous with publishing news, Zeb Appel shared that her debut novel, Good Luck and a Benevolent God, was published this summer by DartFrog Books not just in the US, but around the world. The book is about the colorful life and death of Mandy Flanagan, an Irish girl from the South End of Boston who elopes to New York in the twenties, how she navigates a good part of the twentieth century, and finally retires to the suburbs of Wallingford, CT. It has a great review from Kirkus, including this quote: “Appel writes in the natural prose of a raconteur, rising occasionally to the level of lyricism when praising her heroine.” I enjoyed the book too, and the way it demonstrated how stories and people intersect in their lives—what keeps them together and forces them apart. It’s a great book club book, with plenty to discuss.
I’ve followed some of Zeb’s progress via our meetings, but I wanted to know more.
GC: How did your experience as a playwright help or hinder you in writing a novel? Do you think it influenced your prose style?
ZA: Actually, my creative writing life began as a student writing poetry and short stories. These were published in literary magazines and university publications. About ten years ago I started writing plays, short and full-length, comedies and dramas. I took a class at the Hartford Stage, joined organizations and went to shows. This was fun. I learned about dialog and performance, the delivery of words, what sounded natural and what fit that particular character. This works in fiction, too. I always read my work aloud no matter what form it takes.
GC: What was the impetus for writing a novel at all? Just to try something different? To write about this particular character?
ZA: I am just a storyteller who writes in different forms. For me, poetry is an intimate experience while plays are public and must engage an audience. “Good Luck and a Benevolent God” originated a while ago in a workshop led by the New Haven writer Alice Mattison. Back then, it was a handful of (humorous) linked short stories about an eccentric family. Alice called it a ‘baby’ novel. Even though it ‘grew up’ to be the full portrait of a woman’s life, it still retains that ‘linked short story’ flavor about key characters and their adventures. This device (emphasizing character over plot) labeled it literary rather than commercial.
GC: Can you tell us something about your journey from first idea to publication?
ZA: Well, I don’t outline but will draw a relationship chart with major events to ‘see’ that it works logically. Initially I just write about something seen or heard that I want (need) to shape into a poem, a story or a play. My reader-friends critique and I use outside (paid) editors. But I’m fussy. I can always find fault with my work and will endlessly revise and mush the words around unless someone takes it away from me.
At present, I don’t have a literary agent (that may change). I find querying tiresome and the process to place a book with a major house too slow. A friend referred me to DartFrog Books. They liked the book and agreed to publish in less than a year and pay royalties like a traditional press. (They have since changed their business model.) They edited and formatted the content, and also designed a dandy cover. Plus, I enjoyed a book release signing and giveaway at BookCon in NYC.
GC: Mandy is considered eccentric, partly because she’s ahead of her time. To me she seems admirably independent. Is she based on anyone in particular?
ZA: My nana played slide piano on an old upright in her little house and a crowd sang along. I come from a family of four girls and we are a headstrong ornery bunch with our own sense of timing. Like most Americans, our family history is colorful. Of course I am part Irish so I enjoy a good story, music and beverages, like Mandy.
GC: You cover sixty years of New England life. How did you research the historical settings?
ZA: It was fun. The best background came from an estate. But I wasn’t writing a historic novel, so whole chapters about events like WWII had to be removed from the final version because it was too long.
GC: And finally, what’s next?
ZA: The final draft of my suspense novel, “The Median” is almost done. It’s about a woman’s breakdown, a truck driver and the startling event that changes their lives.
Happy you rejoined me. 🙂 And, as you will see if you read far enough, this is all about me.
The Brooklyn Book Festival will be held from September 16-23 in a variety of venues around Brooklyn (of course). It’s one of America’s premier book festivals and the largest free literary event in New York City. Presenting almost 200 national and international literary stars and emerging authors, the Festival includes a week of Bookend Events throughout New York City, a lively Children’s Day and a celebratory Festival Day with more than 300 authors plus 250 booksellers filling a vibrant outdoor Literary Marketplace (September 22).