Saturday, June 02, 2007

Looking back, looking ahead

“This has been the most outstanding writer’s conference I have ever attended.”

That statement from one of the conference evaluation forms sums up the feelings of many of the people attending the May 19 one-day conference, Shift Your Writing into High Gear.

A capacity crowd of 85 people enjoyed eight workshops, two refreshment breaks, lunch, a keynote address from bestselling author Steve Berry and the opportunity for one-on-one interviews with the presenters. The picture at right is from Camille Cline's packed workshop on Revising & Rewriting.

Steve Berry talked about his long road from struggling author to landing on the New York Times Bestseller List. About how he received 85 rejections with five different manuscripts before selling THE AMBER ROOM. His personal tale hit home and many people lined up to talk with Steve and purchase a copy of his latest international thriller, THE ALEXANDRIA LINK.

Many thanks to the hard-working volunteer committee who made this the most successful 1-day conference FWA has produced to date. Here they are again:
Your Conference Committee
Vic DiGenti, Chair
Dianne Ell, Co-chair
Terri Ridgell, Book Contest
Darlene Myers, Book Store and Photographer
Karen Harvey, Interviews
Alice Collins & Peter Guinta, Refreshments
Hank & Jan Racer, Lunch
Mary Kohnke & Hazel Piermatteo, Registration
Jim Morgan, Rita Malie & Margie Ann Sauls, Workshop Aides
Carol D. O’Dell & Randy Cribbs

Volunteers Jan Racer, left, and Alice Collins,
take a breather to pose for photographer Darlene Myers.

Our 1st Annual Lighthouse Book Awards was a major success as well with more than 90 entries in three different categories. We announced the finalists in each category to the delight of those entrants who were attending the conference. Here you see Terri Ridgell, the contest chair, providing details of the contest.

Finalists have been sent on for final ranking by these editors: Barbara Moore (Midnight Ink) for Mystery/Suspense/Thrillers, Julie Doughty (Dutton) for Fiction-General, and Andrew Karre (Flux) for Young Adult. The finalists in each category were:
Who Killed Fidel Castro? - David Pereda
Forty Percent Gray - Mary Kilgore
The Dachshund Caper – Jean Osborn
General Fiction
Charley Gets His Halo - William Barbour
Jess, A Confederate - Leonard Emmel
War Drums of Afghanistan - John Holley
Young Adult
Wolf Girl - Suki Litchfield
Shard of The Dark Star - Gertie Poole
Run Away Home - Karen Harvey (Tie)
Hidden Treasures - Bill Dougherty (Tie)
Note that there's a change from our earlier announcement of the finalists. We recently learned of a violation of one of the rules in that an entry had already been published. Jean Osborn's The Dachshund Caper moves into that position. We've also decided to award an Honorable Mention in each category since these three authors were within several points of the top finishers.
We're pleased to recognize the following Honorable Mention recipients:
Jeff Swesky in General Fiction for Such A Dreamer, Eugene Orlando for his Young Adult entry, The Last Days of Camelot, and Ann McAllister Clark in the Mystery category for her entry, A Bone in Her Teeth.
Congratualtions to all the finalists and Honorable Mention recipients. We will hold an awards ceremony later in the summer so stay tuned for that announcement.
The day before our conference, eighteen area authors participated in the 2nd annual Ponte Vedra Book Fair. During the afternoon, the authors sold their books and took part in a series of panel discussions. The Book Fair was sponsored by FWA and the Ponte Vedra Branch Library. In this scintillating panel, you see (left to right) Jessie Wise, Dante Amodeo, Allen Bohl, Sandra McDonald, and Vic DiGenti.

Even though our conference and contest are behind us, you should keep looking for opportunities to showcase your talents and improve your skills. Check these out:
  • Get an early start on the Florida First Coast Writers' Festival's annual contests as they're presently accepting entries for the Josiah W. Bancroft Sr. Novel Contest, the Page Edwards Short Fiction Contest, the Douglas Freels and the Robert Grimes "Good Earth" Poetry Contests and the Writers' Festival Playwriting Contest. Each has different guidelines, so go to for details.
  • Mystery Writers of America (MWA), and St. Martin's Minotaur have announced the first annual St. Martin's Minotaur/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition. This contest provides a previously unpublished writer an opportunity to launch his or her career with a major mystery imprint, St. Martin's Minotaur. The winner will receive a one-book, $10,000 contract. Follow this link for guidelines.
  • Do you write stories of intergenerational relationships? The Intergeneration Foundation has announced its 2nd Storytelling Contest which seeks to reinforce and recognize the power of storytelling as a way to connect generations. Whether fiction or non-fiction, the story should illustrate intergeneration needs, connections and understanding, and feature characters from at least two generations. Top prize is $500 and is open to all writers with no entry fee. There's a limit of 600 words. Go to for details.
  • Terri Ridgell is the new director of the retitled Amelia Island Book Festival, and she and her committee are making some exciting changes. AIBF is set for October 4-7, and they've already announced the scheduling of Claire Cook (MUST LOVE DOGS) and Tim Dorsey (HURRICANE PUNCH) as their first two featured authors. Look for details on their website,
  • And don't forget our own FWA Annual Conference scheduled for November 9-11 at Walt Disney World's Coronado Springs Resort. With more agents, editors and publishers, the conference offers three days of valuable workshops and presentations by authors and publishing professionals. Richard Paul Evans, author of THE CHRISTMAS BOX, THE CAROUSEL, and other bestselling novels, will be one of the two keynoters along with William F. Nolan, noted science-fiction author. Early registration ends on July 31 and the fee jumps from $199 to $229 so get your registration in soon. The complete schedule and details can be found here:

As always, help is close at hand in the form of one of the four Writers' Groups in the area. The Amelia Island WG meets on the first Saturday of the month at 10:00 a.m. although they are considering a change in day/time. The Central Jax WG meets on the second Tuesday of the month at the SE Regional Library at 6:00 p.m. They're taking a summer break in June but return on July 10 with SF novelist Sandra McDonald talking about Building Stories Like a House. The Ancient City WG meets on the 3rd Saturday of the month at 10:00 a.m. at the St. Augustine's downtown library. On the 16th of June author Carol Welsh speaks on Publishing and Promoting Your Book in the 21st Century. And on June 23rd at 10:00 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra WG, noted writing coach and editor Frank Green will discuss the Structure of a Story.

That's more than enough to keep you busy for the next month. Until next time, keep writing and rewriting.


Victor DiGenti, FWA Regional Director

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