Thursday, May 28, 2020

What Day Is It?

When I was a child, sometime between the end of the Civil War and the Woodrow Wilson administration, I recall watching a program that always opened with these words: "Hey kids, what time is it?" And the answer was always—say it with me—"It's Howdy Doody time!"

Today, that refrain has changed to "What day is it?" Most of us are stuck inside working from home or staying safe at home, and it's easy to lose track of the days. And since I'm retired, every day seems like a weekend day. But I look forward to the time when we can gather together at libraries for our FWA writers group meetings. However, it looks like June won't be the month for those gatherings.

But I have good news. In June I'll host not one but two Zoom workshops with writing pros addressing valuable topics for writers. Here's what you have to look forward to in June:

  • On Saturday, June 13 at 10:30 a.m. Charlene Edge will present the memoir writing workshop she would have given in person in May. "Open a Vein: Writing Your Memoir and Publishing It"  takes us through the steps Charlene took to write and publish her award-winning memoir, Undertow: My Escape from the Fundamentalism and Cult Control of The Way International.
  • And on Saturday, June 27 at 10:30 a.m., tune in for Jane Wood's presentation detailing strategies for selling your books to schools. "Schools: A Niche Market for Authors" will show us how to contact schools, and what makes a book marketable to schools. Jane has sold thousands of books to schools, so you don't want to miss this.
I'll send out the Zoom meeting link and password the week before each session. There's a limit of 100 people for each of these webinars, so if you're interested you should sign up right away.

And in other news, Rik Feeney, who has done a great job keeping writers connected with Zoom meetings, has scheduled another one for Wednesday, June 3 at 7 p.m. This one is with Linda Hollander, who calls herself the Wealthy Bag Lady. Her topic is "Corporate Sponsorship for Books." She's the author of Corporate Sponsorship in 3 Easy Steps and the CEO of Sponsor Concierge. Here's the link to that Zoom meeting:

I had asked you to keep me informed of any news on the writing front, and two of you came forth to let me know their books are being published. Congratulations to Kaye Schmitz on the publication of her suspense novel, On Deadly Ground. Also to Melissa Kosciuszko on the publication of her Christian suspense novel, Within A Dream. And thanks to Jack Orth for sharing some of his fine writing with me.

I'll leave you with this quote and image I ran across some time ago and only recently uncovered as I was cleaning my file cabinet. They're both from artist Vincent Van Gogh, but if you replace the word painter with writer you'll see that Van Gogh is talking directly to us.

"If you hear a voice within you saying, 'You are not a painter,' then, by all means, paint, boy, and that voice will be silenced. One must undertake (work) with confidence, with a certain assurance that one is doing a reasonable thing, like the farmer who drives his plow, or like our friend in the scratch below, who is harrowing, and even drags the harrow himself. If one hasn't a horse, one is one's own horse."


Vic DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Monday, May 04, 2020

Groundhog Day All Over Again

Today marks Day 50 of sheltering at home in the time of the coronavirus. As Dana Carvey's Church Lady might have remarked, "Well, isn't that special?" Of course, it's not that special since most of the country is facing the same Groundhog Day scenario, where the days blend together, separated only by the news we're watching, which also seems pretty much the same, and whatever Netflix series has us glued to the telly.

But there is light at the end of that tunnel. Am I right? Our beaches are open for most of the day now, and the restaurants are slowly allowing a few customers inside. And I hope we're all making progress on our writing projects.

There's little new to report on the FWA Writers Group meetings front, however. All libraries are still closed. All speakers are following the same social distancing guidelines as the rest of us and remaining home, and it might be some time before larger groups of people will feel comfortable gathering for meetings. But not to fret. If you utilize online tools like YouTube, you'll find a wealth of recorded information and workshops by experienced authors. Like this one by British children's and sports novel writer Tom Palmer: In this ten-minute video, he shows us how to edit a short paragraph, taking us through it step-by-step. You'll find much more on YouTube to educate and entertain you, plus you might make your own YouTube videos and I can report them next time. Just let me know.

Ted Talks and podcasts are two other excellent tools to stretch your brain. If you have a smartphone, there's a good chance it came with a Podcast icon, giving you access to hundreds of fascinating programs covering almost every subject imaginable.

What else is available? Rik Feeney is a popular speaker at writers groups here and around the state. He also leads his own group in Winter Park and arranged for the Penny Sansevieri Zoom workshop last month. BTW, if you missed Penny's workshop on how to sell a truckload of books on Amazon, here's the replay link:

Well, Rik has done it again, and he has orchestrated another live Zoom webinar this Wednesday, May 6 at 7PM with

Rocky and Cheryl Detwiler, authors of the best-selling book, The Samson Effect. They are experts on the Positive Power of Words, have been highlighted on A&E, ABC, ESPN, FOX, and NBC. Reality TV stars and authors, Rocky & Cheryl Detwiler have learned to monetize their message and love helping authors deliver their message to the world by selling more books.
Go online early on Wednesday, May 6th via the link listed below to learn from Rocky & Cheryl, professional coaches, who teach authors how to get paid speaking engagements, create workshops and sell your books in bulk. This webinar is free and open to the public, but space may be limited. Here's the information you'll need to join the meeting:

Topic: Transforming Lives with the Power of Words
Time: May 6, 2020, 7:00 PM Eastern Standard Time
Click below to join the Zoom Meeting:

Meeting ID: 864 8258 5218
Password: 212330

And here are a few more items of interest:

  • April was National Poetry Month and Loretta Leto is collecting poems for the Mayo Clinic's Humanities in Medicine program. Although April has passed us by, this first week of May honors Florence Nightingale and all nurses, so that's a good theme to work on. The poems are given to health care workers to carry in their pockets. The poems should fit on one page, so no more than 30 lines. Send poems and questions to Loretta at
  • While the RPLA submission period has closed, you may still submit to The Florida Writer and join the team of bloggers. Plus there are many webinars available for viewing. The links may be found on the home page.
  • Here are a few other competitions still open for submissions: The Austin Film Festival has extended its screenplay competition deadline to June 1. Click here for details. 
  • The Masters Review, which bills itself as the platform for emerging writers, has a May 31 deadline for its Flash Fiction Contest, paying a top prize of $3,000. Here's the page with the details.
  • The 35th Annual Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival is seeking submissions of original Fiction, Short Fiction, Poetry, and One-Act plays for its 2020-2021 Writing Contest. Fiction and One-Act Play deadline is October 1, 2020. Poetry and Very Short Fiction deadline is October 15, 2020. For complete guidelines and submission details, please see the website.  
  • Former NE Florida writer Lorraine Haataia is now a California resident and working to connect writers with her new site, Prolific Writers Life. It's a way to connect with writers and readers, schedule Zoom meetings, and more. Check it out.
I'll leave you with a favorite quote from Mr. Anonymous.

“Make no little plans. They have no magic with which to stir blood and soul, and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work. Remember that our children and grandchildren will do things that would stagger us. Remember that when you create a situation that captures the imagination, you capture life, reason, everything.”  

I'll see you on the other side,

Vic DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Monday, March 02, 2020

FWA March 2020 Blog Post

No bad puns about Marching toward your writing goals. Instead, we'll charge ahead into this month's group meetings.

  • Judith Erwin discusses the "Basics of Self-Publishing" at the River City Writers group on Thursday, March 12 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Library off Gate Parkway. Judith is a retired attorney who has penned six indie novels and is working on her memoir.
  • This month the Clay County Writers celebrate retiring group leader Maureen Jung's ten years of service and welcome incoming leader Paula Hinton. The celebrants will gather at Mackey's Munchies, a New Orleans style cafe, on Wednesday, March 18 at 6:00 p.m. Mackey's is located at 868 Blanding Boulevard in the Ollie's Bargain Center shopping plaza. Come for the food, the good times, and to thanks and offer your best wishes to Maureen. Paula is also seeking ideas for future meetings.
  • Saturday, March 21 is the day of the Ancient City Writers meeting at St. Augustine's Main Library. Be there when the doors open at 10:00 a.m. to meet Rik Feeney, who will discuss "Creating Your Digital Media Kit."
  • Selecting a title for your book can be agonizing. The Amelia Island Writers hope to make that task easier as they talk about how to choose a title and offer 15 types of titles with examples for each. The group will meet on Tuesday, March 24 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the Story and Song Bookstore Bistro in Fernandina Beach.
  • Brad Kuhn returns to the Ponte Vedra Writers group meeting to discuss self-publishing, something he's become well-versed in during his 20 years as a writer, publisher, and publicist. He's titled his talk "Self-Publishing: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." As always, Brad has some good advice to share. The meeting begins at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 28 at the Ponte Vedra Beach Library.
And in other news ...
  • Submissions are open through April 30 for FWA's Royal Palm Literary Awards competition and the 2020 Collection anthology. Make plans to submit your work to either or both of these prestigious outlets recognizing outstanding writing. Click here to visit the pages for details.
  • A Gathering of Poets meets on the first and third Thursday of the month at 2:00 p.m at the Ponte Vedra Beach Library. And congratulations to Poet-in-Chief, Sharon Scholl, on the release of her new chapbook, Seasons. Her poems reflect the various life stages of a long life well-lived. You'll find Seasons available on
  • Former FWA Conference Florida Writer of the Year thriller author Steve Berry holds forth at the Bookmark in Neptune Beach this Friday, March 6, at 7:00 p.m. He'll reveal some of the secrets behind his new book The Warsaw Protocol.
  • Goodreads is back with its annual Reading Challenge. Reading authors you admire helps you recognize tones and styles that work in each genre, broadens your vocabulary, and helps inspire you to work toward becoming a better writer. Click here to take the Goodreads 2020 Reading Challenge.
    • NE Florida Sisters in Crime meets on Saturday, March 7 at 10:00 a.m. at the Bartram Trail Library. Speaker Nancy Quatrano advises on "The 13 Questions a Writer Should Ask."

"You can always edit a bad page. You can't edit a blank page."  ~ Jodi Picoult


Vic DiGenti
FWA regional Director for NE Florida

Thursday, January 30, 2020

February 2020 FWA Blog Post

We're charging full speed ahead into the new decade. In February, we can look forward to a trio of national holidays like Valentine's Day, Presidents' Day, and let's not forget Groundhog Day. And then there's the biggest holiday of all, the Super Bowl this Sunday.

It's also time for more FWA group meetings, and here's what you have to look forward to in NE Florida.

  • The River City Writers convene on Thursday, February 13 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Library off Gate Parkway. Guest speaker Claudia Oltean presents, "Adventures in Writing a Debut Novel." Claudia will discuss her experiences and lessons learned writing her novel, Another Chance to Die, based on her grandfather's exploits during the Prohibition-era.
  • Ancient City Writers chapter takes its annual February holiday due to AARP volunteers helping folks prepare their taxes in the meeting room. They'll be back in March.
  • Writers of mysteries and suspense are in for a treat when award-winning author Michael Wiley holds forth at the Clay County Writers meeting, Wednesday, February 19 at 6:15 p.m. at the Orange Park Library. Wiley has just released the first in a new series, and will address "The Dark Side of the Sunshine State: Writing Noir."
  • Do you want to know more about using Scrivener for your writing? Then head to the Ponte Vedra Writers meeting, Saturday, February 22 at 10:30 a.m. when Michael Carlson presents "Scrivener Basics." The group meets at the Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library.
  • The Amelia Island Writers meets Tuesday, February 25, 4:00 p.m. at the Island Art Assn. Ed. Bldg., in downtown Fernandina Beach. Dr. Diann Schindler will discuss aspects of podcasting, its importance to writers, and share one of her own episodes as an established podcast host.
  • The Bold City Writers critique group meets on the second and fourth Thursday at 11:00 a.m. at the Panera Bread on Atlantic Boulevard near Regency Square. Contact group facilitator Rod Sullivan for details.
But wait, there's more!
  • Susan Kiernan-Lewis offers smart advice on the outlining process as the guest speaker at the Florida Sisters in Crime meeting this Saturday, February 1 at 10:00 a.m. at the SE Regional Library. Susan asks the rather surprising question, "Are You Ready to Take Your Pants Off?" as the starting point of her talk.
  • A Gathering of Poets meets on the first and third Thursdays of the month at 2:00 p.m. at the Ponte Vedra Beach Library.
  • February 1 marks the start of submissions for the 2020 FWA Collection: Create An Illusion. the Collection is open to works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Click here for more information. 
  • The Amelia Island Book Festival is another big event happening in February. Headlined by David Baldacci and other bestselling authors, the event features a Gala Dinner, writers workshops, and more. Visit the website for details.
  • This year's Florida Heritage Book Festival presents three days of writers workshops on February 20—22 at the Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village. The workshops feature presentations by Craig Pittman, Janice Hardy, Sharon Cobb, Steph Post, Brad Kuhn, Elizabeth Sims, and Rich Wickliffe. Have your writing critiqued on Saturday afternoon. Award-winning journalist and author, Craig Pittman will be honored at the annual Literary Legend Reception on Friday evening. Visit the website for details and pricing information.
Happy trails to you,

Vic DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Happy New Year 2020

"Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, 'It will be happier.'" ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson

And so we say goodbye to another year and look forward to better things in the new year. This missive goes out to all the writers in NE Florida hoping for a fresh start or possibly a continuation of the good things you've accomplished in 2019. Read on to see what the first month of the year has to offer us.
  • The newly reconstituted River City Writers group begins afresh on Thursday, January 9 at their old digs at the SE Branch Library off Gate Parkway. The meeting commences at 7PM, and group leader Linda Feist and I welcome everyone to the first of many meetings. The meeting will be of special interest to anyone working on a memoir, or thinking about writing one, as I present "Life is Like a River: Navigating the Memoir Writing Rapids." We hope to see you there.
  • The Clay County Writers group has a special program of interest to all poets. They'll meet on Wednesday, January 15 at 6:15PM at the Orange Park Library and Lynn Skapyak Harlin and Paula R. Hinton will present "Line by Line: Revising Poetry from Catharsis to Crystallization."  All good writing requires revision, and Lynn and Paula will lead the group through exercises designed to improve your poetry.
  • Yours truly, Vic DiGenti, makes a return engagement to the Ancient City Writers chapter on Saturday, January 18 to disclose the "Seven Secrets to Writing the Thriller." During the one-hour presentation, I'll discuss the seven essential elements of a thriller, identify the differences between mysteries and thrillers, and illustrate the best ways to add tension and conflict. The meeting begins at 10AM at St. Augustine's Main Library.
  • Join the Ponte Vedra Writers on Saturday, January 25 for a walk on the wild side of writing and an exploration of the Erotica market. Dr. Donna Jennings, a licensed Sex Therapist and the author of sex-positive literary erotica, will tell us all about "Writing in the Erotica Market." We meet at 10:30AM at the Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library.
  • To ring in the new year and the new decade, the Amelia Island Writers will discuss the "All Important First Fifteen Pages" at their Tuesday, January 28 meeting. They will gather at 4PM at Story and Song Bookstore in Amelia Park. 
And in other news ...
  • We're sorry to report the passing of two area writers this month. Lillian Kiernan Brown died on December 4 from natural causes. Lilly, who wrote about her days as a burlesque queen in her memoir, Banned in Boston, was beloved by all who knew her and will be missed by the other Clay County Writers. And Steven Kerry Brown (no relation) passed away on Christmas day after a long battle with cancer. Steve was a licensed private investigator who began his career with the FBI. He was the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Private Investigating and several mysteries. Our condolences to their families.
  • Need a critique group? The Bold City Writers critique group is looking for more members. They meet on the second and fourth Thursday of the month at Panera Bread, 9301 Atlantic Boulevard near Regency Square, at 11AM. Contact group facilitator Rod Sullivan for details.
  • A Gathering of Poets meets twice a month at the Ponte Vedra Beach Library on the first and third Thursday at 2PM.
  • Author Marketing Expert Penny Sansevieri leads a three-part FWA webinar on Amazon marketing over three consecutive Saturdays beginning January 11. Click here for all the details and registration information.
  • The NE Florida Sisters in Crime meets on Saturday, January 4 at 10AM at the SE Regional Branch Library. The guest speaker is retired Fire Command Chief Officer Jeff Lewis.
  • Shutta Crum has written an excellent review of the online service Duotrope, a comprehensive tool helping writers find a publishing home for their stories, novels, nonfiction or poetry. Read all about it here.
  • And speaking of Shutta Crum, she will present a free program titled "Sound, Shape & Sense" on Satuarday, February 8 at the Pablo Creek Library. The program, which begins at 12:30PM, will help attendees understand how to sculpt picture books, poems, and novels into elegant objectsof art. Please RSVP to Eileen Meyer.
And finally, to help you keep your New Year's resolutions, read this quote from Wayne Dyer.

"I've learned over the years that when I go to that place of passion within me, there's no force in the universe that can interfere with my completing a project."

Cheers and Happy New Year!

Vic DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Thursday, December 05, 2019

FWA December 2019 Blog Post

In this season of good cheer, let's cheer each other on to another year of good tidings and improved writing. Did anyone complete their 50,000 words last month for NaNoWriMo? If not, you're not alone, but, hopefully, it spurred you on to write more. And to help motivate us, here are this month's NE Florida FWA group meetings:

  • You can look forward to attending the first meeting of the newly reminted River City Writers group next month, on Thursday, January 9 at 7:00PM at the SE Branch Library. Linda Feist has stepped up to assume the group leader's role and rumor has it that she has booked an outstanding speaker for the first meeting. Stay tuned.
  • The Amelia Island Writers host its annual December book chat on Tuesday, December 17 from 4:00 to 6:00PM at Story and Song Bookstore Bistro. Briefly discuss a book or two that has meant something special to you. Click here for more information on the Amelia Island Writers.
  • The Clay County Writers gather together on Wednesday, December 18, from 6:00 to 8:00PM at Mackey's Munchies, 868 Blanding Boulevard in Orange Park. This will be a holiday celebration meeting.
  • There's more holiday celebration ahead when the Ancient City Writers chapter hosts its annual pitch session and networking meeting, Saturday, December 21 at 10:00AM at St. Augustine's Main Library.
  • The Ponte Vedra Writers group celebrated the holidays last month with its Open Mic meeting. The group takes this month off to refuel, hydrate, and returns on Saturday, January 25 with the first in a series of outstanding workshops. 

But wait, there's more:

  • Rod Sullivan leads the Bold City Writers critique group, which meets twice a month at 11:00AM at the Panera Bread on Atlantic Boulevard near Regency Mall. The group is small, and Rod tells us they are accepting more members who write consistently. This the group's Facebook page and its Meetup page.
  • The NE Florida Sisters in Crime chapter hosts its annual holiday social event this Saturday, December 7 at 10:15AM at the SE Regional Branch Library.
  • A Gathering of Poets continues to meet twice a month on the first and third Thursday at 2:00PM at the Ponte Vedra Beach Library. All writers of the poetic persuasion are invited.
  • Romance writers take note: the 2020 Hearts in the Sand Writers Conference, presented by the Southwest Florida Romance Writers, is scheduled for January 31 in Estero, FL (near Naples). Visit the website for more information.
That's it for this month and this year. Happy holidays to one and all!


Friday, November 01, 2019

FWA November 2019 Blog Post

Fall is in the air, and the holidays are right around the corner. But the writing marches on, particularly since November is National Novel Writing Month. Join the thousands of others who will be working on—and hopefully completing—a 50,000 word novel in the next 30 days. Details are on the NaNoWriMo website.

And when you're not writing, you can attend one on these NE Florida FWA writers group meetings"

  • Like the weather, there's been a change in the first River City Writers meeting date. As reported previously, the River City Writers group is under new management. Linda Feist has accepted the leadership role, and will launch the meetings on Thursday, January 9 at 7PM at the SE Branch Library. Look for more information next month.
  • St. Augustine's Ancient City Writers chapter is back in business after its annual conference break. On Saturday, November 16 at 10AM, Margaret Nicholson, PhD, will discuss using DNA testing and genealogical research to enrich memoirs and historical fiction. Margaret wrote My Surprise Family: Find Your Ancestry Story as a mystery, a memoir, and a manual. The meeting takes place at St. Augustine's Main Library.
  • Amelia Island Writers will chat with James Bruner, Esq. about how careers influence a chosen genre, successful publishing, and continuation as a series. Tuesday, Nov. 19, 4-6 pm at Story and Song Bookstore Bistro, Amelia Park.
  • Love to write, but hate the selling? Then join Nancy Quatrano at the Clay County Writers meeting on Wednesday, November 20 at 6:15PM at the Orange Park Library. In her talk, "Hybrid Marketing 101: Understanding Basic Buzz and Fan-Building," Nancy reveals an alternative path to generating better book sales.
  • It's time to share your best work with your peers at the Ponte Vedra Writers Annual Open Mic meeting, Saturday, November 23 at 10:30 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library. Participants will have at least five minutes to read an excerpt from their WIP or other work— fiction, nonfiction, poetry, etc. The time will be dependent on the number of people signing up to read. If interested, please respond in advance of the meeting and I'll add you to the list of speakers on a first response basis.
And in other news ...
  • A Gathering of Poets meets on the first and third thursday of the months at 2PM at the Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library. All poets are invited.
  • NE Florida Sisters in Crime meets tomorrow, Saturday, November 2, at St. Augustine's Main Library at 10:15AM. They've invited fingerprint experts from the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office to present forensic details for all mystery writers.
  • Tickets go on sale today for the Amelia Island Book Festival Gala, featuring a star-studded line-up that includes David Baldacci, Sandra Brown, Robert Crais, Margot Lee Shetterly, and Sharon Robinson. The Gala is the festival's major fundraising event, and takes place on Valentine's night in February 2020, at the Omni Amelia Island  Resort. Click here for ticket information.

That's all for now. I have to start on my NaNoWriMo novel.


Vic DiGenti
FWA NE Florida Regional Director