Category Archives: Biz Buzz

Westport Writers Workshop to Host In-Person Fall Classes in Brand New Space as Well as Online

WESTPORT, CT—Westport Writers Workshop (WWW) is pleased to offer an interesting range of both in-person and online classes this fall for aspiring to established writers. After operating online-only classes and workshops since COVID-19 halted operations, the organization is glad to have a safe, welcoming, place for writers to learn, grow, and network in a brand new, gallery-like space located at 25 Sylvan Lane, Unit J, Westport, CT just down the road from their former location. Westport Writers Workshop welcomes the community to an open house reception on Thursday, September 9th 6 from 6 to 8 pm. The reception is free and open to the public.

Executive Director Liz Matthews said, “After 17 months of offering our creative writing workshops remotely, we are reopening in a new space that we’re really excited about. This new location features a gallery-like space with a large workshop/community space where we hope to collaborate with other local arts organizations in this new space. Along with our workshops, we’ll be offering free readings and publishing events.in our new space.”

Board Chairman Anne Lonergan said, “We are thrilled to be honoring our roots as an in-person workshop that thrives on the energy created by writers around a table.”

Ellyn Gelman is excited to offer the first in-person class at Westport Writers Workshop’s new location, 25 Sylvan Lane, Unit J, Westport, CT. Inventing The Truth – The Craft of Memoir and Personal Essay will explore theme, dialogue, action, structure, scene, character, voice, style and timeline. The instructor will provide prompts based on-topic discussions. Once per term each writer will have the opportunity to submit ten pages for written feedback. This workshop is for all levels. The class will be held on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. beginning on September 10 and running through October 22, 2021.

Intermediate Fiction instructor Jessie McEntee, who will be teaching in-person workshops on Monday mornings shares, “It’s an exciting opportunity for rebuilding community in a new space.”

For those who wish to stick with online classes this fall, author Libby Waterford will teach Intro to Fiction in a nurturing, positive environment.

“Each week we’ll talk about an aspect of fiction and then workshop our writing,” Waterford said.

Writers are asked to bring a story idea to the first class, or work on their in-progress fiction manuscript. Topics explored will include plot, character arcs, conflict, point of view, beginnings, and endings. This class is ideal for writers just dipping their toe into fiction, coming from the world of memoir, or who are having trouble finishing their manuscript.

The class will be online via ZOOM on Monday evenings from 7 – 9 p.m. beginning on August 30 and running through October 18, 2021.

For those who love words in the form of poetry, instructor Shanna Melton is offering a safe haven to gather online in her class, Poetry: Writing from the Inside Out.

“We will surface and honor the internal thoughts and perspectives that we have about life through the powerful medium that is poetry. The mission is to use prompts and other creative tools to motivate the creative process. It also creates a space to share and get a reaction from other writers who can advise us on how to enhance our work. This is a place to develop our writing,” Melton stated.

This class is held online on Wednesday from 10 a.m. until 12 noon beginning on September 1 and running through October 13, 2021.

Adele Annesi’s class, Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Find and Write the Story Under the Surface, teaches writers how to provide readers with their own satisfying emotional journey.

“We also look at how to craft the story’s emotional landscape, its emotional arc and meaning, the plot, and the reader and writer’s emotional journey. Each writer can email up to five pages weekly to the instructor and the group for detailed feedback. Discover the deeper connection with your story, your characters, your audience, and yourself. The workshop is suitable for writers who took the first Emotional Craft of Fiction workshop and those new to the concept,” Annesi shared.

This class is being held online in ZOOM on Thursdays, from 1 – 3 p.m. beginning on September 2 and running through October 21, 2021.

To register for any of these classes, visit Westportwriters.org.

Westport Writers Workshop will be hosting an open house at their new location, 25 Sylvan Lane, Unit J, Westport, CT, on Thursday, September 9th from 6 – 8 p.m. Executive Director Liz Matthews said, “We hope you’ll stop by to check out our new space, meet our instructors & other writers, and have a drink to toast the re-emergence of our in-person workshops and events! This event is free and open to our community. Come around back to our entrance – there’s plenty of parking. Bring a friend who is interested in learning more about Westport Writers! Music by Dustin Lowman and photography by Jim Waterbury.”

For more information, visit Westporwriters.org.

About Westport Writers Workshop:

Since 2003, the Westport Writers’ Workshop has been offering workshops for every level of writer, from novice to published! Our instructors offer friendly, supportive writing workshops designed to encourage, inspire, and spark your imagination.
With over 100 workshops a year to choose from, we welcome writers of all skill levels and genres. Our workshops are designed to suit your schedule, with options in the morning, afternoons, and evenings. We also host several Saturday-only workshops and one-week writing-intensive programs throughout the year. You can learn more about our workshops by visiting our WORKSHOP page. Let Westport Writers’ Workshop help you discover and develop your own unique writing talent and voice.

Our Philosophy: You can expect a supportive group led by an experienced instructor. You’ll write, read, and learn from each other. Focus is always on the quality of the writing – not on the subject matter. Writing begets writing. The more you commit to your writing, to showing up for your writing group, the more you will write. By joining a community of writers, you will become a stronger writer and influence others to refine their craft. Our philosophy and practices are inspired by Amherst Writers & Artists and Pat Schneider’s book, Writing Alone and With Others.

Our Mission: The Westport Writers’ Workshop is an independent literary arts center offering enriching, supportive creative writing classes, as well as literary readings to the local public. Our organization also provides free writing workshops to underserved populations in their own communities.

Our History: In 2003, Jessica Bram founded Westport Writers’ Workshop. In 2010, Jessica moved the workshops into the second floor of the historic building on 3 Sylvan Rd. South in Westport. In 2013, Valerie Leff bought WWW and became the Director. In 2014, Valerie created a Board of Directors and transformed the business into a nonprofit with a mission to offer enriching, supportive creative writing classes, as well as literary readings to the local public, and free writing workshops to underserved populations in their own communities. In 2018, Michelle Bradley came on board as the Executive Director, and in summer 2019 when Michelle’s family was transferred to Chicago, Liz Matthews took over as the Director. In March of 2020 with the onset of COVID-19, the workshops transitioned to the Zoom platform and were offered remotely. The organization grew to include writers and instructors outside of our immediate community.
westportwriters.org

Local Marine, General Contractor Offers ‘Mission-First’ Mentality to Homeowners

BROOKFIELD, CT—As a Marine who served in Afghanistan, Brookfield resident and business owner David Alger is committed to working diligently to render an outstanding work product. As the owner and general contractor of Elite Construction Group, Alger’s work ethic is strong because he has a “mission first mentality” when it comes to handling his clients’ requests and needs.

According to the Veteran’s Mental Health website, a “mission first mentality” is one that is task-focused, sets defined goals, and achieves them.

“Whether the mission is completing the obstacle course in record time, getting through tank gunnery, or getting a college degree, a goal-focused mindset is a huge benefit. Things had to get done when we were in the military, no questions asked. From getting to morning formation to start physical training to completing our part of an annual training exercise, you did the best you could as part of the team with the resources you had,” said Duane K. L. France, combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and mental health counselor.

Alger agrees with France’s explanation.

“Veteran-Owned makes me feel like I am providing a top-tier service and product. I want our clients to know that we are different from others and feel it’s obvious from the first time we speak,” Alger shared from his newly opened Brookfield office.

Supporting local charities, sports teams, and the schools are also important to Alger as a local business owner and parent.

Alger served in the Marine Corps in Operation Enduring Freedom, a mission created in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. He specialized as a field radio operator and surveillance sensor operator and received several medals and recognitions as a result of his service.

After completing his tour of duty, Alger said he wanted to open Elite Construction Group business after hearing from family and friends about their need for an honest, quality construction enterprise in the area. He attributes his skill in leadership that he learned in the Marine Corps as a major contributing factor to his success.

“I started Elite Construction Group in 2013 because I wanted the opportunity to bring integrity into the remodeling industry while providing a great customer experience and Grade A product,” he noted.

Alger, who has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Information Technology from Southern New Hampshire University, utilizes technology for projects and said that coupled with stellar customer experience has helped his business grow.

“The transparency and communication our clients receive from start to finish is what keeps them coming back and referring us to their friends and family,” Alger said.

Despite the challenges of this past year due to COVID, Alger said that his business is growing by leaps and bounds due to the current boom of the real estate market. In addition, many of his clients are working from home and requesting additions and renovations for office space.

“At first there was an immediate pause [due to COVID], as people were leery of us coming into their homes,” he said, continuing, “the lack of workers, supply chain demand, and the drastic increase to materials that went up over 200 percent were also a challenge but we overcame that and are carrying on full steam ahead.”

Alger said that Elite Construction Group is “growing every day, and continuing to expand our teams.”

For more information, visit eliteegroup.com.

Bug Obsessed Kids Can Observe Insects from a Safe Distance with Keyachi Bug Remover

FAIRFIELD, CT—Do you have a child who is obsessed with creepy crawlies? Want to teach your children about nature in a fun way from a safe distance? Then you need to check out the Keyachi Bug Remover. The prototype is already taking nature lovers by storm with an easy to use, simple design that allows kids and adults to catch, observe and release bugs from a safe distance.

According to Entomologist Dr. John Guyton, encourging a child’s natural curiosity about insects is beneficial and should not be stifled.

“Parents and teachers often err on the side of caution, discouraging this curiosity by suggesting that insects are dangerous and will bite or sting. This is unfortunate because children grow up without essential knowledge, experience, or understanding of the animals they will have the greatest contact with throughout life. All it takes is an insect or two, introduced with questions from teachers, environmental educators, or parents, to ignite a passion for scientific discovery,” Guyton said on Green Teacher’s website.

The Keyachi Bug Remover allows bugs to be observed from its clear chamber for hours of learning and fun. Created by Connecticut M.I.T. graduate Mark Ortiz who now lives in Ohio, the device attaches to a vacuum to allow users to safely catch bugs in their homes and then release them outside after observing for a short while.

Live collecting is useful with young children, Dr. Guyton stated, and said that kids should release the insects they collect within a few hours after they have made observations or sketches.

“Providing the opportunity and a few rudimentary tools for young investigators will help them along in their bug investigations,” he said.

Organic landscape designer Dennis Leahy, Mark’s cousin, said, “One person using Keyachi to free pollinators will not save the world.  But many of us, together, choosing to catch and release bugs rather than spray them, can improve our home and yard’s environment.  We will use less toxic chemical sprays.  We will return more pollinators and beneficial bugs outside.”

The duo is seeking backers on a Kickstarter campaign they’ve created to fund the project.

“We have Keyachi Bug Remover nearly ready for release,” Mark said. “We’ve designed and tested it extensively over the past two years. Now we need your help to get us up over this last hill:  scaling and product release. Your backing will help us automate the manufacturing process and scale production by purchasing tooling, a commercial grade manufacturing equipment, and component molds.”

The product is made in the U.S. and all manufacturing and assembly will be done in the Cincinnati, Ohio metropolitan area.

To learn more and back their campaign, visit Keyachi’s Kickstarter campaign. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/keyachibugremover/keyachi-bug-remover

Photo: John Pasden via Flickr Creative Commons

#CTWriters Can Relieve Stress Through Westport Writers Workshop Online Classes

WESTPORT, CT—Feeling tired, anxious, stressed, and/or overwhelmed all at the same time? You’re not alone. Many have been feeling the effects of the quarantine and the associated stressors. Recent studies have shown there’s a pill-free way to cope.

Several studies have shown a high prevalence of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic symptoms in health care workers, according to an article by Frontiers in Psychology, and that what research has shown that “expressive writing” can work as a form of therapy for people undergoing these feelings.

“Over the past 25 years, several researchers have examined the effects of writing about traumatic life events. Pennebaker’s Expressive Writing task involves writing about a traumatic experience for a controlled period of time, on consecutive days….. several studies have shown the benefits of writing across different sessions about personal experiences with stressful life events. This procedure has been associated with the reduction of physical and mental symptoms both in clinical and normal simples.” (Procaccia, 2021).

So where can you find some writing relief? At the Westport Writers Workshop! Since the shutdown, WWW has been offering interactive writing workshops, classes, and events online for experienced and aspiring writers alike in a supportive, welcoming environment. Taught by experienced, professional, published authors, these classes have served as an outlet for the community to craft and develop their work while offering a release of stress through a positive, therapeutic tool. Since last spring’s launch of an online-only learning environment, they have even more classes and workshops to cater to the needs of their attendees.

In addition to writing about personal experiences in several classes, writers can also try their hand at writing children’s picture books, poetry, memoir, and much more. For a full list of offerings, visit the Westport Writers Workshop‘s website.

Executive Director Liz Matthews was happy to announce that “we will bring back in-person workshops this fall, along with continuing to offer our remote workshops.”

Students of the classes shared how much they have helped them in their writing journey.

“I love everything about it. The instructor provides a safe and inspiring atmosphere and the level of positive feedback when we workshop our writing is unparalleled. I feel honored to be a part of this talented and courageous group of writers and to hear and share writing. I am left awestruck after each class,” Amy Egbert stated.

“I’m grateful that Westport Writers’ Workshop only allows students to listen during their critiques and not speak. It allows us to let go and be okay with what we’ve written as we grow. I’ve made tremendous writing progress, I’m getting positive feedback, and I’m preparing to solicit agents,” said R.J. Grand.

Since its inception in 2003, the Westport Writers Workshop has developed into one of the most highly respected programs in the area for writers of fiction, memoir, romance, playwriting, children’s literature, and much more. Through leadership and training from a stellar team of published, award-winning authors, students gain a deep understanding of the elements of writing and many go on to be published authors as well.

Summer 2021 Westport Writers Workshop’s class offerings are as follows:

Intermediate Fiction: A Generative, Craft-based Class with Jessica McEntee

  • Online via ZOOM
  • 6 Mondays, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • June 21, 29, July 6, 13, 20, 27

Memories Real and Imagined with Rahla Xenopoulos

  • Online via ZOOM
  • 6 Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 12 noon
  • June 22, 29, July 6, 13, 20, 27

Intro to Fiction with Libby Waterford

  • Online via ZOOM
  • 6 Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • June 24, July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29

Picture Book Writing 201 with Valerie Bolling

  • Online via ZOOM
  • 6 Tuesdays, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • June 22, 29, July 6, 13, 20, 27

Summer Intensive: Poetry & Prose with Jessie McEntee

  • Online via ZOOM
  • 10 a.m. to 12 noon
  • Monday to Thursday
  • July 6, 7, 8, 9

All of the Westport Writers Workshop workshops offered on Zoom are open to writers of all skill levels. Visit their Zoom tutorial pages to learn more about how to use the platform or contact Liz Matthews Executive Director, Westport Writers’ Workshop at exec@westportwriters.org or (203) 227-3250.

About Westport Writers Workshop:Since 2003, the Westport Writers’ Workshop has been offering workshops for every level of writer, from novice to published! Our instructors offer friendly, supportive writing workshops designed to encourage, inspire, and spark your imagination.With over 100 workshops a year to choose from, we welcome writers of all skill levels and genres. Our workshops are designed to suit your schedule, with options in the morning, afternoons, and evenings. We also host several Saturday-only workshops and one-week writing-intensive programs throughout the year. You can learn more about our workshops by visiting our WORKSHOP page. Let Westport Writers’ Workshop help you discover and develop your own unique writing talent and voice.

Our Philosophy: You can expect a supportive group led by an experienced instructor. You’ll write, read, and learn from each other. Focus is always on the quality of the writing – not on the subject matter. Writing begets writing. The more you commit to your writing, to showing up for your writing group, the more you will write. By joining a community of writers, you will become a stronger writer and influence others to refine their craft. Our philosophy and practices are inspired by Amherst Writers & Artists and Pat Schneider’s book, Writing Alone and With Others.

Our Mission: The Westport Writers’ Workshop is an independent literary arts center offering enriching, supportive creative writing classes, as well as literary readings to the local public. Our organization also provides free writing workshops to underserved populations in their own communities.

Our History: In 2003, Jessica Bram founded Westport Writers’ Workshop. In 2010, Jessica moved the workshops into the second floor of the historic building on 3 Sylvan Rd. South in Westport. In 2013, Valerie Leff bought WWW and became the Director. In 2014, Valerie created a Board of Directors and transformed the business into a nonprofit with a mission to offer enriching, supportive creative writing classes, as well as literary readings to the local public, and free writing workshops to underserved populations in their own communities. In 2018, Michelle Bradley came on board as the Executive Director, and in summer 2019 when Michelle’s family was transferred to Chicago, Liz Matthews took over as the Director. In March of 2020 with the onset of COVID-19, the workshops transitioned to the Zoom platform and were offered remotely. The organization grew to include writers and instructors outside of our immediate community.

westportwriters.org

Photo credit: Westport Writers Workshop

Danbury, Local Price Rite Stores Raise Close to $75K for CT & Area Food Banks

DANBURY, CT—– Price Rite Marketplace today announced its annual Check-Out Hunger fundraising campaign has raised nearly $75,000 for area food banks. From November through December 2020, Price Rite Marketplace stores in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island collected donations at checkout for local food banks to support the fight against hunger during a year where help was needed more than ever. Since the start of the Check-Out Hunger initiative in 2002, Price Rite Marketplace has raised nearly $2 million to fight hunger in the communities its stores serve.

Price Rite Marketplace of Warwick, located at 945 Bald Hill Rd, Warwick, RI 02886, was the top fundraising store, raising more than $8,000 during the campaign. In total, Rhode Island based Price Rite Marketplace stores raised more than $28,300 for the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.  

“I want to thank our customers, team members and stores for once again stepping up in the fight against hunger,”

said Jim Dorey, president of Price Rite Marketplace. “We live in very uncertain times and our donations are making a difference in the lives of countless individuals and families who may be struggling to put food on the table.”

Food banks receiving funds from the campaign include: in Connecticut: Connecticut Food Bank and Foodshare; in Maryland: Capital Area Food Bank and Maryland Food Bank; in Massachusetts: Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, The Greater Boston Food Bank and Worcester County Food Bank; in New Hampshire: New Hampshire Food Bank; in New Jersey: Community FoodBank of New Jersey and Food Bank of South Jersey; in New York: FeedMore WNY, Food Bank of Central New York, Foodlink and Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York; in Pennsylvania: Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, Helping Harvest, Philabundance, Second Harvest Food Bank of the Lehigh Valley, Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania and Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank; and in Rhode Island: Rhode Island Community Food Bank.  

Price Rite Marketplace is a committed member of its local community, and fighting hunger is at the heart of Price Rite Marketplace’s charitable giving. The supermarket brand fights food insecurity through its support of local food banks, the annual Check-Out Hunger fundraising campaign and partnership with Feed The Children. Price Rite Marketplace contributes approximately $500,000 annually to local food banks and food pantries to benefit local families in need within the communities its stores serve.

About Price Rite Marketplace

Price Rite Marketplace is a registered trademark of Wakefern Food Corp., a retailer owned cooperative based in Keasbey, NJ and the largest supermarket cooperative in the United States. Price Rite Marketplace opened its first store in 1995 under the name Price Rite Supermarkets, and currently operates over 62 grocery stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Maryland. Committed to providing the best value for customers, Price Rite Marketplace delivers a simplified shopping experience with top name brand foods and products and expanded fresh produce and organic offerings at exceptional prices. Price Rite Marketplace is also dedicated to fighting hunger through its annual Check-Out Hunger fundraising campaign and partnerships with Feed The Children and local food banks. For more information, please visit www.priceritemarketplace.com.


Photo 1: (From left to right) Andrew Schiff, CEO, Rhode Island Community Food Bank, and Bill Devin, Vice President of Operations, Price Rite Marketplace.

Photo 2: Executives and team members from Price Rite Marketplace, on May 17,  present a check for more than $28,300 to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank from the grocer’s annual Check Out Hunger campaign.

# # #

Bethel, M.I.T. Grad Invents Revolutionary Product to Remove Insects from Homes & #SavetheBees

BETHEL, CT—An M.I.T. and Bethel High School graduate now living in Ohio has created a revolutionary new product that solves a problem many have in their homes—bugs—while also saving the bees and other important insects.

Mark Ortiz, an MIT graduate and Bethel native is the engineer of the Keyachi Bug Remover™ (patent pending), an easy to use device that attaches to a vacuum to allow users to safely catch and release bugs from their homes. Inventor of more than 200+ patented products, Mark’s motto is, “Simplicity always wins.” And simplicity can clearly be seen I the Keyachi’s design.

The clear plastic vacuum hose shows how the Keyachi stops bugs from being sucked into your vacuum cannister and crawling back out later. The bugs stay trapped inside the chamber and allows the user to release pollinators and other beneficial insects back into their natural habitats to help our environment without using any harmful chemicals or sprays. Keyachi also enables users to safely trap bugs from a distance and release them without having to touch them.

Mark describes his creation as “a weapon for good in the perilous plight of pollinators.” His cousin, organic landscape designer Dennis Leahy, co-founder of Light Wing Labs stated:

“When I saw this device that my cousin Mark was working on, I immediately saw it as a way to save pollinators and beneficial bugs.  A safe, easy, effective way to catch them live and return them outside.  That’s why I got involved and encouraged Mark to let me help him bring this important product to market. As an owner of an organic landscaping company for nearly 20 years, I’ve seen the harmful results of people using chemicals on their lawns to control weeds and insects, chemicals on flowers to control bugs, chemical sprays in their homes.”

Dennis continued, “I’ve also seen good results when a client trusted me enough to convert their property to an organic haven:  no chemicals, no non-native invasive plants, but an abundance of pollinator attracting plants.  Healthier lawns.  More vibrant flowers.  Their children can roll around on the grass without fear.  Their dogs that had skin issues often cleared up. One person using Keyachi to free pollinators will not save the world.  But many of us, together, choosing to catch and release bugs rather than spray them, can improve our home and yard’s environment.  We will use less toxic chemical sprays.  We will return more pollinators and beneficial bugs outside.”

The duo is seeking backers on a Kickstarter campaign they’ve created to fund the project.

“We have Keyachi Bug Remover nearly ready for release,” Mark said. “We’ve designed and tested it extensively over the past two years. Now we need your help to get us up over this last hill:  scaling and product release. Your backing will help us automate the manufacturing process and scale production by purchasing tooling, a commercial grade manufacturing equipment, and component molds.”

The product is made in the U.S. and all manufacturing and assembly will be done in the Cincinnati, Ohio metropolitan area.

To learn more and back their campaign, visit Keyachi’s Kickstarter campaign.

Aspiring & Established Writers Are Invited To Westport Online Writing Workshops

WESTPORT, CT— While vaccines are rolling out to more age groups in Connecticut, many still find themselves quarantined and working from home. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only impacted the way we live but has also changed the way we learn. Students and adults alike have learned the ins and outs of Zoom which has been an important tool for students, employers, and other organizations.

The Westport Writers Workshop found the Zoom online platform to be invaluable in enabling them to continue their online learning workshops not only in Connecticut but across the nation.

Liz Matthews, Executive Director of Westport Writers Workshop said, “Now that our workshops are being offered remotely, we have writers joining us from all over the country. The writers benefit from a broader range of feedback, and we preserve the closeness of each group with a max of seven participants.”

Matthews, a writer, and editor began her professional career in publishing at a literary agency and as an Editorial Assistant at Random House before teaching middle and high school English at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn. A mom of two school-aged children, Matthews learned to adapt to juggling responsibilities of working from home, homeschooling her children, and running a nonprofit agency since the COVID-19 shutdown back in Mach of 2020.

Last spring Matthews shared that their swift decision to move to online classes and workshops was due to being located in a town with one of the highest numbers of Coronavirus cases in the state. She added that “rolling with the changes” was something they had to do for the sake of everyone’s health and sanity.

“Writing, like many, provides a creative escape in the crazy times we’re living in,” she said.

Since last spring’s launch of an online-only learning environment, they have added even more classes and workshops to cater to the needs of their current and soon-to-be attendees. Students range from beginning and aspiring writers to published authors. All are welcomed in a supportive environment that offers valuable feedback and positive critiques that have enabled their student to land literary agents, book deals, prestigious awards, and more.

“The class gave me material for further exploration! Also, my classmates were wonderful. It’s as though we all became friends through the class and it felt as though we were all in a non-virtual class together, fully participating.” -M.S. a student.

Since its inception in 2003, the Westport Writers Workshop has developed into one of the most highly respected programs in the area for writers of fiction, memoir, romance, playwriting, children’s literature, and much more. Through leadership and training from a stellar team of published, award-winning authors, students gain a deep understanding of the elements of writing and many go on to be published authors as well.

Spring 2021 Westport Writers Zoom Workshops offerings are as follows:

Memories Real & Imagined with Rahla Xenopoulos

· This workshop is designed for experienced, published authors as well as for novices who have a hidden story to excavate and tell. It is designed for people who have a flickering feeling that they might have a book hidden within but need to discover what that book is about, for people who have been sitting on a book but haven’t managed to start and so too it is designed for people who enjoy the therapy of creative writing. But, above all it is designed for people who yearn for a place of kindness. Bring pen, paper and an open heart. All people who identify as women are welcome.

· 7 Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

· March 30, April 6, 20, 27, May 4, 11, 18

Workshop in Poetry, All Levels – Manuscript Course with Charles Rafferty

· This class is for students interested in learning about the genre from Charles Rafferty, a frequent contributor to The New Yorker. Each week, participants will share a poem, and the instructor will lead a discussion of the manuscript, highlighting what is working well and suggesting ways to improve it. As time allows, there may also be general discussions of craft and perhaps some in-class writing. The manuscript component of this course will be the following: each student may submit one poem in advance of each class to the instructor, for classroom discussion.

· 7 Tuesdays, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

· March 30, April 6, 20, 27, May 4, 11, 18

Picture Book Writing 101 with Valerie Bolling

· Have you always wanted to write a picture book? Maybe you have a story idea but haven’t written it down yet. Perhaps you have a draft of a manuscript that you want to revise. No matter where you are in your writing journey, this course is specifically designed for you … if you want to WRITE A PICTURE BOOK! Plus… A special guest will visit one of our sessions! James McGowan, an agent at BookEnds Literary Agency, has generously offered to answer class participants’ questions about picture books and the publishing industry.

· 7 Tuesdays, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

· March 30, April 6, 20, 27, May 4, 11, 18

Creative Writing for Kids with Christina Pakkala

· Join Christina Pakkala for an hour of writing fun! Yes, you heard right. Writing CAN be fun when the only rule is to let your imagination FLY. We’ll play some writing games, write some stories, poems, and whatever we feel like. For grades 3 through 5. Christine Pakkala is the author of six books for children, including a picture book, Chasing Ricky.

· 7 Wednesdays, 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

· March 31, April 7, 21, 28, May 5, 12, 19

Young Adult Fiction with Mike Belanger

· This workshop deals with the nuts-and-bolts of writing young adult fiction. Throughout the workshop, the focus will be on different aspects of craft, including voice, setting, plot, and dialogue. Examples from current popular YA novels will be provided along with exercises to help hone your work in progress or inspire your new novel. Students will share their writing and receive feedback from other students and the instructor. This class is for adults writing novels in any genre (i.e. realistic fiction, fantasy, historical fiction) for young adult readers, and is suitable for all levels of writers.

· 7 Thursdays, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

· April 1, 8, 22, 29, May 6, 13, 20

Register for a class by clicking here. To check if a class is full, call (203) 227-3250 or email exec@westportwriters.org.

All of the Westport Writers Workshop spring workshops offered on Zoom are open to writers of all skill levels. Visit their Zoom tutorial pages to learn more about how to use the platform or contact Liz Matthews Executive Director, Westport Writers’ Workshop at exec@westportwriters.org or (203) 227-3250.

About Westport Writers Workshop:

Since 2003, the Westport Writers’ Workshop has been offering workshops for every level of writer, from novice to published! Our instructors offer friendly, supportive writing workshops designed to encourage, inspire, and spark your imagination.

With over 100 workshops a year to choose from, we welcome writers of all skill levels and genres. Our workshops are designed to suit your schedule, with options in the morning, afternoons, and evenings. We also host several Saturday-only workshops and one-week writing-intensive programs throughout the year. You can learn more about our workshops by visiting our WORKSHOP page. Let Westport Writers’ Workshop help you discover and develop your own unique writing talent and voice.

Our Philosophy: You can expect a supportive group led by an experienced instructor. You’ll write, read, and learn from each other. Focus is always on the quality of the writing – not on the subject matter. Writing begets writing. The more you commit to your writing, to showing up for your writing group, the more you will write. By joining a community of writers, you will become a stronger writer and influence others to refine their craft. Our philosophy and practices are inspired by Amherst Writers & Artists and Pat Schneider’s book, Writing Alone and With Others.

Our Mission: The Westport Writers’ Workshop is an independent literary arts center offering enriching, supportive creative writing classes, as well as literary readings to the local public. Our organization also provides free writing workshops to underserved populations in their own communities.

Our History: In 2003, Jessica Bram founded Westport Writers’ Workshop. In 2010, Jessica moved the workshops into the second floor of the historic building on 3 Sylvan Rd. South in Westport. In 2013, Valerie Leff bought WWW and became the Director. In 2014, Valerie created a Board of Directors and transformed the business into a nonprofit with a mission to offer enriching, supportive creative writing classes, as well as literary readings to the local public, and free writing workshops to underserved populations in their own communities. In 2018, Michelle Bradley came on board as the Executive Director, and in summer 2019 when Michelle’s family was transferred to Chicago, Liz Matthews took over as the Director. In March of 2020 with the onset of COVID-19, the workshops transitioned to the Zoom platform and were offered remotely. The organization grew to include writers and instructors outside of our immediate community.

westportwriters.org

Photo credit: Westport Writers Workshop

“EGG” Your Friends This Easter with a Custom Lawn Sign Package or a Unique Gift Basket from Salutations Custom Greetings!

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, CT—A local mom has created a new business that’s geared towards helping children and families celebrate the holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions while still remaining socially distant. What started as ‘Veggie-Grams” this past summer, Advent deliveries for local church kids this past Christmas, as well as sympathy, birthday, get well, and general pick-me-up baskets had one entrepreneur thinking that this surprise greeting is a welcome idea during difficult times.

Salutations Custom Greetings was born out of the owner, Wendy Mitchell’s idea to bring her vegetable surplus to family and friends during the early months of the quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic. It then turned into customized cards and gift baskets for her family who she could not visit due to lockdown, and packages for her friends and neighbors. This past month, Wendy she created a highly successful “You’ve Been SHAMROCKED!” fundraiser at a nonprofit where she volunteers and soon after decided to launch her own business.

The business is a women-owned, mother-daughter venture in which Wendy’s 20-year-old apprentice, Ruby Mitchell, helps with buying, packing, delivering, and shipping packages. Ruby said, “I’ve worked with my mom for the last few years with her kids events and I’m a creative person so this is something that’s fun for me to do. Plus aI can go to school [at WestConn] and help out with this when I have my free time. I think it’s a great idea and people really seem to like the baskets. We have ones for pet owners too!”

All food items are from U.S.A. Mom & Pop businesses whose quality and safety standards are second to none.

Salutations Custom Greetings, states on their social media pages that they are “Super EGG-cited” to bring their very FIRST lawn sign/gift basket offering to the local community….”You’ve Been EGGED!” is an Easter lawn sign package that brings the holiday spirit from your hearts to your loved ones’ homes.

Those who purchase the package(s) can surprise their kids, friends, teachers, a local hero, and/or loved ones with a colorful lawn decoration set that says, “You’ve Been EGGED!” The package includes a festive lawn sign with two egg smaller Easter signs, a dozen candy-filled eggs and a personalized poem. Additional offerings include a gourmet Easter candy basket with gourmet chocolate-peanut butter bunnies, chocolate-dipped Peeps, chocolate covered Oreos and more. Another option is a candy-free toys only basket that includes a mini sketch journal, colored pencils, bubbles, sidewalk chalk and a cute pink, purple, or blue stuffed bunny.

While Salutations Custom Greetings’ website is under construction, they’re asking you to HOP on over to their Eventbrite page to peruse their one-of-a-kind gifts and goodies. Order by clicking here before they’re all sold out!

QUESTIONS? Call, text, or email (203) 501-7424 SalutationsCustomGreetings@gmail.com.

Danbury Irish Cultural Center Plans Scaled-Down St. Patrick’s Day Plus 2 Fundraisers

DANBURY, CT—Almost a year since their last St. Patrick’s Day Parade and events were canceled due to COVID-19, the Greater Danbury Irish Cultural Center​ (GDICC) has opened at limited capacity and is ramping back up with a smaller-scale, safety-conscious St. Patrick’s Day. This year’s normally month-long “most wonderful time of the year” for the Hibernians, will be held online via Facebook live stream and in-person with a limited number in attandance.​

In partnership with the Greater Danbury Irish Cultural Foundation (GDICF), the Greater Danbury Irish Cultural Center (GDICC) Board has planned an in-person and a live-stream St. Patrick’s Day with curbside pick-up and live music with limited attendance due to Covid safety regulations.  ​

In addition to the 2020 and 2021 parade cancellations, last year’s Danbury Irish Festival cancellation, and the nixing of this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Ball all due to COVID, the Foundation and Fundraising Committee has come up with two unique fundraising activities to bring the spirit of the Emerald Isle from their hearts to your homes. 

The first of these is the Irish Breakfast Basket​ fundraiser. For just $40, the Irish Breakfast Basket (bag) includes one pound each of fresh, top-quality bacon, sausage, pudding, brown bread, and a selection of yummy products from the fine folks at Kerrygold USA. Order online here.​ The order deadline is March 8, 2021.  Order pickup is curbside at the GDICC, 6 Lake Ave. Danbury​ on Saturday, March 13 between 12 – 5 p.m. 

The second fundraiser is “You’ve Been SHAMROCKED​!” which is a fun way to decorate your front lawn or surprise your friends. For only $20, you can deck your lawn or nominate a health care worker, teacher, school employee, a local hero, and shamrock them as your way to say “THANK YOU” for their selfless service during Covid!​

Each lawn decorating package includes 1 lawn sign, 7 lucky shamrocks, 3 balloons* (colors of the Irish flag), ribbon, a “pot” of GOLD in the form of gold-foil-wrapped chocolates, and a poem. Order now through 3/17 (or until they sell out). Order online here​ or complete an order form at the GDICC – ask the bartender for a form. Checks for $20 are payable to “GDICF. Order pickup is curbside at the GDICC, 6 Lake Ave. Danbury​, ​on Saturday, March 5, and Sunday, March 6 between 12 p.m. – 6 p.m. 

Both fundraisers benefit the Greater Danbury Irish Cultural Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. For more information, email DanburyIrish@gmail.com.

On St.Patrick’s Day, Wednesday, March 17th, corned beef will be available for take-out and curbside pick-up. Plans are still being finalized for in-person St. Patrick’s Day celebrations at the club. For the most up-to-date information, check the GDICC’s Facebook page​.​​​

Photo credit: Sean MacEntee via Flickr Creative Commons

5 Tips To Get Your Home ‘Buyer Ready’ From Connecticut Plumbing, LLC

Screen Shot 2020-07-20 at 7.23.20 PMDANBURY, CT —With thousands of New Yorkers heading for the hills of Connecticut due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one local plumber says now is the time to think about putting your home on the market. But is your humble abode ready for the potential buyer? Check out these tips from New Fairfield resident and business owner David LaCava, owner of Connecticut Plumbing, LLC.

“I’m seeing a lot of my customers thinking about getting their house ready to sell and there are a lot of quick and easy tips to make your home buyer ready,” said LaCava. Here are five ways you can get your home ready for this seller’s market.

1.     Pay Attention to Details: Sellers will obviously make sure the bathrooms and kitchen is clean before showings but make sure to pay extra attention to the little details. Do your kitchen or bathroom faucets or showerheads have caked up grime or lime? Now is the time to clean, make sure the toilet bowl is sparkling white, and clean out the inside of the dishwasher.

2.    Check Your Water Pressure: If you’ve been experiencing low water pressure, now is the time to fix it. Consider replacing the showerheads, cleaning out the faucet aerators, and checking pipes for leaks.

3.    Make Your Bathroom Feel New: Simple fixes like changing the toilet seat to a self-closing lid, upgrading faucets in the sink, changing the showerheads, adding storage/shelving, and/or installing a dimmer switch can make a world of difference and set you apart from another seller’s house.

4.    Check Exterior Plumbing Issues: Home inspectors look at the plumbing inside your house as well as the plumbing in your garden and on the outside your property. This includes pipes that transport city water into your house, as well as grey or black water removal pipes. A professional home inspector will also check your water meter to see if it is functioning properly. If you have city water, you may not have known you overspending on your water bill.

5.     Hire a Professional: If you have plumbing has issues, hire a pro. For a few hundred or a few thousand-dollar investment now can save you tens of thousands when you sell at or above your asking price on your move-in ready home.

LaCava said that many will try to go the DIY route but he advises them to hire a professional to avoid costly home repair projects gone wrong.

“Remember that maintenance is much easier and cheaper than a repair,” LaCava stated.

“Instead of panicking about a home inspection when you decide to sell, contact a licensed professional to schedule a plumbing check-up today.”

If a homeowner is nervous about letting someone into their home during the pandemic, LaCava assures them, “I use safety gloves, masks and goggles and use disinfecting products to make sure that I am keeping my customers and their families safe.”

LaCava, who operates out of his New Fairfield, CT shop, has been in the industry for more than 30 years, is fully licensed in CT and NY, and has a AAA rating with the Better Business Bureau.

For questions or more information, visit his Facebook page, email CTPlumbing7473@gmail.com, or call (203) 312-0182.

Photo by Jon Gorey of House and Hammer.com.

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