Monthly Archives: October 2011

How to Rock a Writer’s Conference Before It Starts

Exactly one week from today I’ll be in New York for Backspace, a two-day conference limited to 100 writers with only literary agents/editors in small workshops. I am equal parts excited and nauseous at the thought of doing this on my own, without a Restless Writer or Word Bitch to hold my hand.

Luckily, all of these ladies have been to conferences in the past and briefed me on what to bring and expect while I’m there. But what about all of my non-conference time? I’ll be in New York City for three days—I can’t just hide in my room!

This is why I’ve made some plans. They are neither writerly nor particularly touristy, but they give me something to look forward to besides the conference (plus, the anticipation of these distractions keep me from freaking out about the reason I’m in NY…agents!…ack!)

I land on Wednesday morning, but the conference doesn’t begin until Thursday. I’m not staying at the hotel, so I can’t easily troll the bar lobby for fellow attendees. Instead, I’ll be at an exercise class.

Before you slam your laptop closed in disgust, hear me out. This isn’t just any exercise class: it’s Physique 57, beloved by Sofia Vergara and Christy Turlington, among others. I’ve been using the DVDs for months and can’t wait to take a class in person. This will also alleviate any potential guilt when I scarf my way through Manhattan.

On Wednesday night I’m going to The Upright Citizen’s Brigade, which was founded by Amy Poehler and some friends over ten years ago. It offers sketch comedy and improv shows every night for five dollars, and no two shows are alike.

Many actors from 30 Rock (Kenneth! Lutz!), The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and Saturday Night Live got their start at UCB. It’s not uncommon for celebrities such as Tina Fey or Steve Carell to jump on stage unannounced. I’m going to a show featuring writers from Conan who will be performing new material in advance his show taping in New York the following week.

Thursday evening has been left open on my itinerary for hanging with conference peeps, but if that doesn’t pan out I heard that Hugh Jackman is previewing his one-man show that night…

New York is the city that doesn’t sleep and for three days next week, neither will I.

LD

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Filed under Author events, Inspiration, Motivation, Starting up, Trials and Tribulations

Coming soon to an Ontario town near you: IFOA

Autumn roadThe line-up at this year’s International Festival of Authors (IFOA) is an astonishing alphabet of some of the best writers of our time. In the Bs alone, we’ve got Anita Rau Badami, Russell Banks, Linwood Barclay, Peter Behrens, David Bezmozgis, and Joseph Boyden.

For readers who want to rub shoulders with the stars of the writing world–Andrew Pyper! Kathy Reichs! Peter Robinson! Johanna Skibsrud! Jane Urquhart!–the Harbourfront Centre from October 19 to 30 is the place to be.

For some people (read: me) getting to downtown Toronto during the week can be a hassle. It involves taking time off work, navigating the particulars of the GO transit system or dealing with a nerve-wracking drive and parking costs equivalent to a car payment, and spending precious time stuck behind pedestrians who walk slower than I do (grr!).

Thanks to Lit On Tour, some IFOA authors are heading out on a road show, and will be visiting Ontario towns throughout the festival. My IFOA treat this year will be IFOA Burlington.

IFOA Burlington is being presented by A Different Drummer Books and Bryan Prince Bookseller to bring Anne Enright (“The Gathering,” “The Forgotten Waltz”), Tom Perrotta (“The Leftovers,” “Little Children”) and John Burnham Schwartz (“Northwest Corner,” “Reservation Road”) to town for a lively discussion about the depiction of the family in literature. The discussion will be moderated by editor and journalist Rachel Giese, and Thom Ernst, author, critic and broadcaster (TVOntario’s “Saturday Night at the Movies”), will host the evening.

The event takes place at 7:30 pm, October 26, in the Shoreline Room at the Burlington Art Centre, 1333 Lakeshore Road, Burlington. More details, and more information about the evening’s guests, can be found here: http://www.litontour.com/events/ifoa-burlington

For those of you in other parts of Ontario, check out when IFOA authors will be dropping by: http://www.litontour.com/events-by-location

Maria

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Filed under Author events, News

House of the rising prose

A story lives here

What differs slightly from the short story, a folk song, flash fiction, and say, microfiction? Short prose.

I am doing this post to remind restless Maria to enter her work(s), because she happens to be a prosalicious genius. The kind of genius that pulls you into another world, teases your every sense, then punches you in the stomach (in a good way, of course). This contest is for Maria, and writers like Maria. So, listen up!

The Writers’ Union of Canada is accepting submissions until November 3, 2011 for the 19th Annual Short Prose Competition for Developing Writers. The winning entry will be the best Canadian work of up to 2,500 words in the English language, fiction or non-fiction, written by an unpublished author.

The prize is $2,500 for the winning entry, and the entries of the winner and finalists will be submitted to three Canadian magazines.

Writers Kevin Chong, Anne Emery, and Sylvia Fraser will serve as the jury. This competition is open to all Canadians who have not had a book published in any genre and who do not currently have a contract with a book publisher. Original and unpublished (English language) fiction or non-fiction is eligible.

HOW TO SUBMIT.

Time to let go of that manuscript. Good luck, Maria (you in?) and to all!

BJ

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Filed under Awards and contests, Getting published, Motivation, News, Writing Contests

Doing a NYC Writing Conference on Eighty Dollars a Day

For three days in November I will be attending the Backspace Writers Conference in New York [insert squee’ing sound here]. This is my first conference and I am determined to do it as affordably as possible without sleeping at a bus terminal.

I lucked out getting a fantastically cheap flight as well as the early bird registration price for the conference. This leaves me with just under three hundred dollars for two nights in a hotel if I’m going to keep to my self-imposed budget.

Unfortunately, I have formed (thanks to Beckie and her wealth of information) a minor bed bug phobia. She linked me to a registry that lists all hotels with reported bed bugs and a quick glance confirmed that those little critters are swarming the Big Apple.

The conference organizers suggested looking at various accommodation options because their hotel was offering a “special” rate of over three hundred dollars per night. Paying so much to get gnawed on did not appeal to me, so I started searching online for alternatives.

Enter airbnb.com, where people who have space to spare connect with those who are looking for a place to stay. People can rent space on a couch in someone’s studio apartment on the Lower East Side for thirty dollars a night or spend four thousand dollars for an entire mansion in the Hamptons.

I was intrigued, yet skeptical. I liked the idea of staying in someone’s personal space because I assume it will be cleaner and less…used…than a hotel room that serves hundreds of guests a year. I didn’t like the idea of being in someone’s home in case s/he was waiting for me in a closet with a meat cleaver.

At Airbnb, hosts must post a profile of themselves and their space, as well as an availability calendar and guest reviews, but I still needed to confirm that it wasn’t a scam for potential Craigslist killers looking for fresh hunting grounds. I contacted a few of the reviewers to ask about their experiences and they assured me that they’d also felt a bit weird at first, but the operation was completely legit.

I booked a sweet little (i.e. standing with my arms outstretched I’m sure I’ll be touching either wall) studio for seventy-five dollars a night. The owner is a young girl who has another apartment in the building and she’s been a resource on everything from airport transportation (twelve dollars to take a twenty-minute train ride from Newark instead of seventy dollars for an hour-long cab ride) to great restaurants (a Cuban place around the corner).

After speaking to the owner I felt great about my booking, but my husband was still suspicious. Then he used Airbnb himself on a recent trip to Germany and apparently we’ll now be using them for all future holiday rentals. He stayed in a beautiful two-bedroom apartment for only eighty-five dollars a night and loved it. It turns out, the home-share concept is much more commonplace and popular in Europe. Until it catches on here it’ll be our little secret, okay?

LD

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Filed under Author events, Life and stuff, News