Category Archives: Author events

The Sky is Not the Limit

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Photograph by: FRED CHARTRAND , THE CANADIAN PRESS

Chris Hadfield is just plain cool.

Last week I had the pleasure of seeing Commander Hadfield, Canada’s most earthy space ambassador and author of An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. His presentation resembled a TED talk, it was both inspiring and motivating, and wait for it—out of this world.

The thing that struck me the most is that he started dreaming what he describes as an “impossible dream” from the age of nine. Canada did not have a space program at the time, yet, he was determined to become an Astronaut. This meant preparing very early, advancing his education, learning to fly, learning to speak several languages, and learning to play guitar (now a terrestrial superstar by crooning David Bowie’s Space Oddity). He did these things and showed us ordinary earthlings that dreams do matter, even if only a slim possibility of manifestation, it can and will happen with dedication, preparation and patience.

There are days when I think finishing my current novel is an impossible dream. But I’m half-way there, I’m resuming momentum and receiving encouragement from my fellow Restless Writers. I can do this! And I will, because I am the commander of my writing career. I am dedicated, prepared, and ever so patient in the wonderful world of literary longings. My dream of becoming a novelist is too important to remain unlived. Sure, the odds are stacked against me. But I’m still going for it!

Thanks to extraordinary people like Chris Hadfield, who not only make us proud to be Canadian but who also show us how to make the impossible a reality.

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Filed under Author events, Books and stuff, Getting published, Inspiration

Spread the Light

Do you like to write poetry? Are you on Twitter?

Consider joining in a collaborative Twitter poem Wednesday June 20, 8 – 10 pm EST, in celebration of the solstice. The theme, naturally, is Light.

How does this copoem work? Simply get on Twitter and tweet a line or two of original poetry. Make sure to include the hashtag keyword #copoem in your tweet so it doesn’t get lost. (If you search using the hashtag key you will be able to see what others have written too.)

Afterwards, the tweets will be gathered and stitched together – perhaps with an edit or two – and the final poem will be posted at www.karenkachra.com. Who knows what we’ll come up with…it’s an experiment!

Thanks to Tara T. @tara_in_canada for this fun idea and Karen Kachra @karenkachra for organizing everything!

Happy Solstice,
The Restless Writers

ls

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Filed under Author events, Calls for submissions, Inspiration, poetry, Writing ideas, Writing resources

If You Want an Agent, You Need Backspace

I learned about the Backspace Writer’s Conference the way I learn about most things: Twitter. An author I follow tweeted about his new agent and his blog detailed the experience (Backspace played a huge role).

I cannot emphasize enough what an amazing opportunity this conference provides to authors looking for an agent. Unlike most writing conferences that offer a couple of anxiety-ridden pitch sessions, Backspace provides genre-specific workshops where authors spend hours having their query letters and opening pages critiqued by agents seeking new clients.

Not all participants receive offers of representation, but at the very least they should come away inspired and informed enough to make their manuscript query-ready. I received multiple requests for my women’s fiction manuscript, but of equal importance was the opportunity to connect with writers who have become beta readers, cheerleaders and swoon-worthy drinking buddies.

I’ve also completed a children’s chapter book that I’m ready to query, but only YA was being represented in the workshops. Luckily, Backspace offered agent/editor panels on both days and writers were able to pitch their work to them following the sessions. This allowed me to connect with agents who represent children’s fiction (more referrals and requests for pages).

Since I went totally budget on the accommodations and was able to score a cheap flight, the entire conference cost me just over $1,000—obviously a significant chunk of coin, but think of it as an investment in yourself…that’s how I sold it to my husband 😀

LD

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Filed under Author events, Getting published, Inspiration, Motivation, Starting up, Writing resources

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

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

The time and space to write

Image from Write by the Lake, Taylor’s Wave http://woodsgood.ca/Taylor/

The Restless Writers share something very similar: the burning desire to write. And let’s face it, an equally burning desire to escape the familiar. Announcement: we just booked our first-ever literary adventure—beyond the home office!

The most common problem writers have is not writing. But this fall, we’re giving a gift to ourselves: a writing retreat. Not a conference where our time is allocated to instruction, awkward introductions, and scheduled meals, but private time, where we can connect with our literary vision and avoid the distractions that intrude on a writer’s day.

We all have manuscripts on the go and our characters are screaming at us to spend some time with them. We’ll be answering their call from the comfort and privacy of a Bed and Breakfast on the sunny shores of Lake Huron. That is, until we qualify for the Berton House Writers’ Retreat or perhaps Writing Immersion in Sustainable Tuscany or even La Muse in France. Yeah, dream a little writer’s dream, you get the picture.

While writing demands solitude and focus, it doesn’t have to mean isolation and deprivation (note to self: it can mean 400 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets). Our upcoming adventure will supply us with an ambience conducive to creativity, plus fellowship and inspiration. Our retreat promises to contribute to a sense of luxury well-being and provide us with the opportunity to learn while propelling us to reach our writing goals—individually and as a critique group.

This is new to us and already we’re bursting with ideas for our upcoming retreat. Here’s a good resource if you’re exploring this idea too, the Writing Retreat Guide: a guide to writers retreat centers and events, for writing groups or your own renewal and exploration. Give it a try, and may the time and space to write be yours for the taking!

Have YOU experienced a writing retreat? Any advice? We’d love to hear about it!

BJas

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Filed under Author events, Group meetings, Inspiration, Motivation, Writing ideas