Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Year-End Update

With the end of the year fast approaching, I find myself looking back on the great strides FWA has made in the NE Florida Region. We have four strong Writers Groups and WG Leaders, and we’re helping more people make the transition from wanting to write to actually writing.

Over the course of the year, we’ve heard from a wonderful roster of speakers to help educate and motivate us, and we’ve seen a number of our members take home honors from the Royal Palm Literary Competition. We’ve also given published authors the opportunity to sell their books at various events and locations ranging from the Ponte Vedra Beach Library’s “Meet the Author” day to the Writers Tent at the Riverside Art Festival.

The Books & Brew program at the Jacksonville Beach Starbucks is a new initiative that’s met with mixed success, but all authors seem appreciative for the opportunity to promote and sell their books. And speaking of Starbucks, this Friday night’s Books & Brew program will be extra-special since the CSPAN Book TV Bus will be parked outside. The bus is open for tours, and the producer will be on hand to answer any questions.

It so happens that I’ll be there Friday along with suspense writer T. A. Ridgell. If you’re in the neighborhood, please drop by and say hello, have a cup of brew, and tour the CSPAN Bus. We’ll be there from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Next Friday’s authors will be Mary Kohnke and Joanelle Mulrain, followed by John Oberheu and Grahl Neitz on the 29th.

Of course, when I think about the end of another year, I also think about all the things I wanted to accomplish, but never found the time. More and more, I’m reminded of Carl Sandburg’s sage advice when he said, “Time is the most valuable coin in your life. You and you alone will determine how that coin will be spent. Be careful that you do not let other people spend it for you.” Easier said than done, right? But I’m resolving to spend more time on the important things, like writing, while I still have a few coins left.

Coming up in the New Year, we’ll have a new series of WG meetings, more outstanding speakers, and our first one-day conference sometime in May. More details will be forthcoming, but I’m looking for a few good volunteers to serve on the conference committee. Get back to me if you’d like to help.

Speaking of one-day conferences, the Orlando region will present theirs on Saturday, February 24 at the First United Methodist Church at 142 East Jackson Street, in Orlando. Here’s the link to the page on the FWA website: They haven’t put up the schedule details as yet, but that will be following soon. Last year’s Orlando conference drew high praise from those who attended, so it is definitely worth your time.

More items of interest:

  • For a listing of Book Fairs, you might want to check out the Library of Congress site, There’s also the Shaw Guides site,
  • Speaking of the Library of Congress, congratulations to Jacksonville poets Kay Day, Dottie Fletcher, and St. Augustine poet Roselyn Cole for their appearance at the Library of Congress Poetry at Noon reading earlier this month. They represented Florida poets with a program called, “Florida Poets Arrive.”
  • Thanks to St. Augustine FWA member Dianne Ell for sharing with me the December issue of The Rap Sheet, the on-line newsletter of the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Among the choice morsels I found in the newsletter was a review of a very creative mystery writers conference held at a funeral home in Washington, D.C. They called it Dying to Write, and it included speakers like Elaine Viets and Stephen Hunter, plus panels and forensic experts. Attendees were encouraged to wear black, and the report stated that people were dying to get in. I’ll bet.
  • Also in The Rap Sheet was a notice of the upcoming Sleuthfest, one of the better writer’s conferences I’ve attended. Specifically for mystery and thriller writers and readers, this year’s conference is in Miami Beach, April 19-22. Special guests are author Linda Fairstein and Law & Order producer/writer, Rene Balcer. Go to their website for more details:
  • Dianne and Peter Guinta of the St. Augustine Writers Group also sent me word of a New Years project. This variation on the Novel in a Month project invites authors to write a novel in six weeks. It starts at 12:01AM, January 1. Word length depends upon type of novel, 65,000-word minimum. Keep in mind that most genre novels–mysteries, thrillers, etc. are a minimum of 80,000 words. You can plan on writing about 2,000 words a day to stay on track. The rest of the details will be worked out at this Saturday’s meeting at the St. Augustine Main Library at 10AM. Try to attend if you’re interested or contact either Dianne Ell at, or Peter Guinta at This is a good way to set a meaningful goal for yourself and stay motivated.
  • is an impressive website with a database of contests and more than 600 articles and columns on everything pertaining to writing. Check it out at
  • Did you know that Staples will give you $3 in exchange for your empty ink cartridge, while Office Depot will reward you with a ream of copy paper?
  • Did you know that has a program called Amazon Shorts for published authors? Amazon Shorts provides authors with an outlet for short-form fiction or non-fiction (2,000 to 10,000 words) and offers it for sale to the millions of customers for only $0.49 per download. The revenue is split 60/40 with Amazon getting the larger share. The concept is to give authors visibility between projects, and provide readers with something new from their favorite writers. If you’re interested in reading any of the Amazon Shorts or learning more about them, go to

    Finally, here’s wishing everyone the happiest holiday season ever. And I’ll leave you with this bit of good cheer from Santa and his reindeer:


    Victor DiGenti
    FWA Regional Director