Thursday, February 22, 2007

Exciting new opportunities for NE Florida writers

Albert Einstein once said "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." If you've been writing and querying and not getting anywhere, then it's time for a change. We're excited about two new events that will help writers in our area to work smarter and better understand what writers and editors are looking for. The first is a new fiction competition for unpublished novels. We call it the Lighthouse Book Awards, and it's open to all writers who wish to submit in these three categories:

1. Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
2. Fiction-General
3. Young Adult

Instead of giving the winners another plaque to dust, the three finalists in each category will have their work reviewed and judged by acquisition editors for major publishing houses in each of the genre areas. This is huge! Unless a writer has an agent, it’s virtually impossible to have your manuscript reviewed by an acquiring editor at the larger traditional publishers, but if your work passes muster with the preliminary judges, it will be sent on to the editors.

The deadline for entry is Friday, March 30, and I've posted the contest rules and entry form on my website along with information on the upcoming one-day conference. Here's the link to the contest rules: The finalists will be announced at a one-day conference on Saturday, May 19 at the Ponte Vedra Library.

New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry will give the keynote talk at the luncheon and also present a workshop on research, backstory, and great beginnings. His new book, The Alexandria Link, debuted at #4 on the NY Times list.

Titled Shift Your Writing into High Gear, the conference runs from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm and covers a variety of subjects from screenwriting to plot development, from writing short stories to tips on revision. Early-bird registration through April 30 is only $40 for FWA members and $60 for non-members. After April 30, the conference fee increases to $50 for FWA members and $75 for non-members. Ten minute one-on-one appointments are also available with any of the presenters, except Steve Berry, for $20 per session. The fee includes a box lunch, morning and afternoon refreshments, and an invitation to the May 18 Book Fair. The Book Fair will feature author panels, question and answer sessions , and book signings.

Advance conference registration is requested, and the registration form may be downloaded from the FWA website, Be patient if the form isn't on the FWA site for a few days as we're a bit ahead of the curve here. For more about the conference, the complete schedule, and information on the presenters, go to

Ponte Vedra Writers Group Meetings
Now let's move on to our Writers' Group meetings. Our group meets on the fourth Saturday of each month at 10AM at the Ponte Vedra Beach Library located at 100 Library Boulevard. Here's what's coming up this Saturday and the next few months.
Saturday, February 24 at 10AM — Look Who’s Talking
One of the hardest things for new fiction writers to master is point of view–the perspective from which a scene is written. Multi-published author Eileen Ann Brennan will explore the various perspectives of point of view in an entertaining and interactive workshop at this month’s meeting. Eileen will discuss the types of POV and their uses, providing illustrations of the differences between first, second and third person POV. She lives with her husband, daughter and, occasionally, her son who is away at school , and writes about sexy heroes, sassy heroines, and scintillating plots.
March 24 at 10AM — Turning your life experiences into poetry
In a change from my last Blog, award-winning poet Teri Grimm will be with us in March rather than April. She will discuss how to turn those moving moments from our life into effective poetry.
April 28 at 10AM — The most common mistakes beginning writers make and how to avoid them
Editor Emily Carmain reviews the lengthy list of missteps she’s seen come across her desk and offers advice on how to fix them.

Don’t forget the other FWA Writers Groups in the NE Florida region if you’re unable to attend ours, or just want more involvement in the writing life.
Central Jax WG — This Jacksonville group has changed the site of their meetings to the Southeast Public Library, 10599 Deerwood Park Blvd, on the southwest corner of J. T. Butler and Gate Parkway. Led by Judy Connolly, the group has two monthly meetings, one with speakers meeting on the second Tuesday of each month, 6:30-8:45 pm, and the other a critique group meeting on the fourth Thursday of each month. Terri Ridgell will conduct a workshop on March 13 on the subject of Writing Strong, Intelligent Heroines. For complete information on the Central Jax WG, go to
Amelia Island WG — Meets on the first Saturday of the month at 10AM at the Fernandina Beach Police Dept. on Lime Street. Contact Jim Morgan, ( for details. Ancient City WG — Meets on the third Saturday of the month, also at 10AM, at the St. Augustine Library. Randy Cribbs and Peter Guinta lead the group, and Randy may be reached at Due to a conflict this month, I was unable to attend this meeting and deliver my talk on Great Beginnings. However, Randy has been kind enough to give me a second chance and I'll be there for the March 17 meeting.

More items of interest to writers:

  • Last month I wrote that I wanted your success stories and other items of interest to FWA members and area writers. Annette Simon emailed to let me know her picture book for young mimics, Mocking Birdies, was recently named a 2006 ABC Best Book for Children by the Association of Booksellers for Children. Published by Simply Read Books, it was a finalist for the 2006 Writers' League of Texas Teddy (Children's) Award, and also a pick for the American Institute of Graphic Arts' 50 Books/50 Covers exhibit. Congratulations, Annette.
  • Nancy Murray also called to let me know her children's book, Gullah, The Nawleans Cat Meets Katrina, will be published in March. Nancy is donating a portion of the profits from her sales to Katrina relief programs. Interestingly enough, the artist she selected to create the many watercolor images for the book is from Pascagoula, MS and now living in a FEMA trailer.
  • Speaking of Hurricane Katrina, the Disaster News Network (, a 24/7 Web news service, is seeking "engaging writer/photographers with a passion for human-interest reporting." They're looking for freelance journalists to conduct interviews by phone and in the field -- along with photography -- if you are available to travel. To be considered, you'll need a degree in journalism or communications, at least one year of professional experience on a daily newspaper or news service, and have clips they can review online. Send your resume and at least five online examples of your work to: or fax them at (410) 884-7353.
  • As announced last month, the 21st Annual Florida’s First Coast Writer’s Festival has a new home. It’s moved to the Jacksonville Public Library’s main branch at 303 Laura Street, and is scheduled for March 9 – 11. FYI, David Poyer and Lenore Hart will be conducting a special three hour master class in fiction on Friday, March 9, from 9:00 am to noon. Winners of the various contests will be announced at Saturday's luncheon. A number of the finalists and winners are from our area, including Rick Maloy, winner of the short story division and a member of my critique group. Congratulations to Rick.
  • Much Ado About Books has posted their author schedule for the April 21st event at the Prime Osborn Convention Center. This heralded book festival benefits the Jacksonville Public Library and features over ten New York Times Bestselling authors. Among them will be the keynote panel at the luncheon featuring Sandra Brown, Brad Meltzer, and Adriana Trigiani. Panels are free, but the luncheon tickets cost $40.
  • James Redfield, author of The Celestine Prophecy , will present and discuss the St. Augustine-filmed version of his book on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at 7:00 p.m. in the Flagler College Auditorium. It's part of Flagler's spring Writer-in-Residence program. For more information, go to
  • MargieAnn Sauls, president of the Jacksonville branch of Sisters in Crime, reports that Florida mystery authors Christine Kling, Wreckers' Key, and Bob Morris, Bermuda Schwartz, will be signing books at the Bookmark in Atlantic Beach on Saturday, March 10 at 7:00 pm.
  • The deadline for the Writecorner Press Poetry Prize is right around the corner, Feb. 28 postmark, but if you have something ready to go, send 2 copies of unpublished poems, 40 lines max, any style or theme. Type author’s name, address, phone, e-mail (optional) on top of one copy only. The second copy, without identification, will be used in judging. Send short bio. Entry fee: $5 first poem, $3 each additional. Mail to: Writecorner Press, PO Box 140310, Gainesville, FL 32614.
  • And last but not least, don't forget that national bestselling author Sue Monk Kidd will be in Jacksonville for a reception and lecture on Thursday, March 8 at UNF's Lazarra Theatre. Kidd's acclaimed novel, The Secret Life of Bees, sold more than 4.5 million copies and stayed on the NY Times Best Seller list for two years. For ticket information, call 904-285-0073 or go to
Until next time,

Vic DiGenti
FWA Regional Director