Westport Writers' Rendezvous: March update

We had out first Virtual Writers’ Rendezvous via Zoom yesterday, and I’m so glad we did. Thirteen of us managed to sign in, and it was a wonderful way to connect. And, as you can see, I look much younger on Zoom. (Just kidding – that’s not me…) The reason the Rendezvous exists is as an antidote to the isolation of writers. And nothing will stop us connecting! (Photo below courtesy of Zoom)Zoom picture

Naturally, there were almost no events I could recommend, since everything for the immediate future is canceled. But the internet is a wonderful thing. Here are some of the things you can do to stay in the writing groove.
The Westport Writers Workshop is offering all its courses via Zoom. Those of you who have tried it already will know how simple it is to use and may appreciate how much driving time you save by having meetings that way. The WWW has pushed back their next session by two weeks, so classes will be starting April 13 and continuing to June 5. And they’re also posting daily writing prompts on their Facebook page.
If you’re a poet and have been putting off submitting your work, why not try doing so now. You know you have more time! An article from Authors Publish tells you where to start. 29 Poetry Markets Open to Submissions lists magazines for poets, and none of them charge a fee to submit, or they have fee-free options. Many pay writers, and all are open for submissions now. They are listed in no particular order. Several of these magazines accept other genres too, like fiction and nonfiction. There are also some awards, grants, and fellowships for poets with upcoming deadlines at the end of this list, which are open for applications now. None charge a fee. For those wanting to submit manuscripts, see Emily Harstone’s recent article, 85 Poetry Manuscript Publishers Who Do Not Charge Reading Fees.
And hopefully, we’ll be hanging out again IRL (in real life) by June 6, when CrimeConn is scheduled. Head Games: Delve into the Criminal Mind! That’s the theme for CrimeConn 2020, to be held at the Ferguson Library in Stamford. It’s an all-day mystery-lovers’ conference hosted by the Friends of The Ferguson Library and the Mystery Writers of America/New York Chapter. Early bird registration opens mid-March.
The Housatonic Book Awards are sponsored by Western Connecticut State University’s MFA in Creative Writing and are open to all books published in 2019, including Fiction, Poetry, Non-fiction and Young Adult/middle-grade books. The Prize for the winner of each category is $1500 with the understanding that the winner will attend a one-day program at the college and give a three-hour workshop to the MFA program in January 2021. The deadline for submissions is June 14.
If you think you’d like someone else to take a look at what you’re writing as you go along, you could look for someone online. There are lots of online communities that might make a good starting place if you’re looking for a critique partner. This article has a nice roundup of such communities: thewritelife.com/find-a-critique-partner.
Among them are: Scribophile – an online community that offers reciprocal critiques to writers by other writers. As part of the community, you’ll be writing critiques for others too. Members say that learning how to write great critiques dramatically improved their own writing.
Writers Helping Writers offer a whole lot of tools for writers, from printouts on topics such as Character Arc Progression to a Setting Checklist (to help organize your setting). They offer webinars too—which might be a very helpful tool for improving your writing if you can’t get to a class.
Here’s an article on how to Copyright a book written by an anonymous lawyer (of course) via Dave Chesson at Kindlepreneur, which has a lot of marketing advice for authors, and a newsletter you can sign up for.
If you want something positive to look forward to, The Gotham Conference, 2020, is scheduled for October 16 and 17 in NYC. This writing conference, run by the Gotham Writers Workshop, works in a unique way. Anyone can attend Day 1, but you must apply and be selected to participate in Day 2, which is the day where you can meet agents.
And if you long for places further away, you might want to take a look at the Kauai Writers Conference, scheduled from November 9 to 15, 2020. With any luck, we’ll be over this virus, and you’ll be able to get there. Set in one of Kauai’s loveliest resorts, it features a faculty of beloved bestselling authors, carefully chosen as brilliant writers who are also gifted teachers, including: Richard Russo, Meg Wolitzer, Luis Urrea, Lauren Groff, Christina Baker Kline, Charles Johnson, Helen Simonson, Adrienne Brodeur, Téa Obreht, Scott Turow, and Amanda Eyre Ward. They will lead four-day (November 9-12) master classes on topics such as: Beginning a Novel, Overcoming Challenges in Fiction, Turning Life into Art, Writing with Joy, Writing Nonfiction, and Cutting and Polishing. Eleven prominent literary agents will conduct one-on-one pitch sessions and manuscript critiques. $795 for the conference, $695 for the masterclasses. Hotel and airfare not included. Register here.
I have a few more ideas of things we can do to make the future brighter for writers, which will follow in my next post. In the meantime, stay well and write!

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