Friday, March 30, 2007

Spring Forth & Put Down Roots

Spring is the season for renewal, and for writers, spring provides inspiration to plow new fields, fertilize our imagination, and nurture our current projects into fruition. OK, one more seasonal growth allusion may lead me to the compost pile, but you get the picture. Writers can use all the motivation and inspiration we can get, and this is the perfect time for packing away past disappointments with the sweaters, and getting on with a new project.

Another way to find motivation is by attending the one-day conference, Shift Your Writing into High Gear, on Saturday, May 19 at the Ponte Vedra Library. Here is where you'll meet successful authors like Steve Berry, Lynn Sholes, Joe Moore, Sandra McDonald, and Carol D. O'Dell. You'll also hear outstanding presentations from screenwrter Sharon Cobb, editor Camille Cline, agent Susan Graham, and Flagler College Writing Professor, Dr. Darien Andreu — all designed to help you improve your craft and become more successful as an author.

The PV Library has been gracious enough to allow us to hold our conference there, but you should know it isn't the largest facility, and we're limiting the conference to the first 75 people who register. Early registration with reduced fees ends on April 30. You may want to sign up now if you haven't already and not be disappointed by waiting too long and learning it's been closed. For all the details and a registration form, go to my website,

Speaking of disappointments, there were many disappointed writers who waited too late to enter the Lighthouse Book Awards. Although the deadline was March 30, we had announced a maximum of 80 entries and reached that two days ago. Who knew we'd have such an outstanding response to a first year contest? Yes, Terri Ridgell, our contest coordinator, knew and didn't hesitate to tell me, "I told you so." Thanks to Terri for all her hard work on the contest, and to all of our preliminary judges who will now be doing the first evaluations.

Don't forget, we'll announce the finalists (and possibly the winners) at the May 19 conference.

There are lots of happenings for writers in our area and throughout the state, so check below to stay in touch.

Ponte Vedra Writers Group Meetings

I missed Teri Grimm's poetry presentation last week due to my travel schedule, but Judy Connolly filled in ably and reports Teri was outstanding. 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 in April and the next few months.

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.

May 26 at 10AM — Writer/Editor/Freelancer Belinda Hulin will be speaking on a topic yet to be announced, but trust me Belinda knows what she's talking about.

June 23 at 10AM — The Structure of Story with Frank Green. Frank is an area legend having conducted weekly critique & editing sessions for the past 25 years. Few people know more about how successful stories are constructed. Don't miss this one.

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.

Amelia Island WG — Meets on the first Saturday of the month at 10AM at the Fernandina Beach Police Dept. on Lime Street under the tutelage of Dr. Jim Morgan. They've been conducting critique sessions lately, but check with Jim for details,

Central Jax WG — This Jacksonville group now meets at 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, a speaker meeting on the second Tuesday of each month, 6:00-7:45 pm, and the other a critique group meeting usually on the fourth Thursday of each month from 4:00 to 7:45 pm, but in April will be meeting on the 19th due to a scheduling conflict with the library. April's speaker is Carol D. O'Dell, giving her excellent presentation, "Writing & Selling Your Memoir." Go to for more details on the Central Jax meetings.

Ancient City WG — Meets on the third Saturday of the month, also at 10am, at the Main St. Augustine Library downtown. Dr. Allen Bohl will speak about his journey from college athletic director to author, and his book, Back Porch Swing. The group will not meet in May, attending the FWA Conference at the PV Library instead. Randy Cribbs and Peter Guinta lead the group, and Randy may be reached at

More items of interest to writers:

  • Authors Connie Mae Fowler, Les Standiford, and Janis Owens will be at the Flagler College Auditorium on Saturday, April 14 from 2:00 to 5pm as part of Flagler's Writers in Residence Program. There will be an interactive presentation followed by a book signing.
  • Much Ado About Books is set for April 21 at the Prime Osborn Convention Center. The book and author 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. For a list of the other authors speaking this year go to Panels are free, but the luncheon tickets cost $40. FWA will have a table in the exhibition hall, so look for us as we introduce FWA to new authors and promote the upcoming conference.
  • SleuthFest, the excellent mystery & crime writers conference produced by Florida MWA, is the same weekend as MAAB. It's moved from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami Beach this year, and features keynotes by bestselling author Linda Fairstein and Law and Order producer/writer, Rene Balcer.
  • Entries are now being accepted for the 27th annual Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition, created to recognize and encourage the efforts of writers who have not yet achieved major-market success. Writers will compete for a $1,000 firstprize, $500 second prize, and $500 third prize in this internationally acclaimedcompetition. Several honorable mentions are also awarded each year. Stories in all genres of fiction are welcome. Maximum length is 3,000 words, andwriters retain all rights to their work. The final deadline is May 15, 2007;winners will be announced at the end of July. For complete guidelines, please visit
  • The Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) meets on the third Saturday of each month from 1:00 to 3pm at the Southeast Regional Library on Deerwood Park Boulevard. Except April since it will be the same day as MAAB. In May, Robyn Gioia talks about her new book, America's First Real Thanksgiving.

Thanks to Judy Connolly for assembling the following events:

  • April 7 — Jane Austen Society of North America (North Florida Regional Chapter) holds their monthly Book Meeting to discuss Jane Austen in Boca by Paula Marantz-Cohen at Liz's Tea Room (Neptune Beach). For more information:
  • April 14 — North Florida Writers Group monthly meeting at the Webb Westconnett Library, 2 p.m., 6887 103rd St., Jacksonville, Florida.
  • April 14 — First Coast Romance Writers monthly meeting: 11:00am - 12:30pm How to Write Sparkling Dialogue That SINGS! with Karen Hawkins; 1:30 – 2:30pm General Meeting; 2:30 – 4:00pm Designing Characters That Are Worth Taking To Bed with Karen Hawkins, West Regional Library, 1425 Chaffee Road. For more details:

And finally, if you've been holding your breath waiting to see what the new Harry Potter cover art looks like, breathe deeply and see the Publishers Weekly article:

Until next time,


Vic DiGenti
FWA Regional Director