Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's Almost Conference Time

One of the highlights of the year for all writers is the FWA Annual Conference, and this one promises to be one of the best yet. Celebrating our 7th anniversary, the conference has moved to the Lake Mary Marriott Resort, November 14 - 16. Packed with 33 workshops, panel discussions, signature events and the Royal Palm Literary Awards Banquet all for one very reasonable price, this is one conference not to be missed.

Fourteen experienced agents, publishers and writing mentors from all over the country will help fill-out three tracks on the craft writing, marketing and promotion, and getting published. 

Friday afternoon you may select from two of the following Signature Events:
  • Write a summary to make editors salivate for more
  • Developing your publicity "hook"
  • Jumpstart your publishing dreams
  • Think like an agent
  • Learn 8 little-known, no-cost secrets to book marketing
  • Flex your metaphor muscles
  • Discover Internet gold
And there's much more including the Friday evening welcome dinner, the keynote talk by Eliot Kleinberg, a grand silent auction, and a chance to win one of more than 60 door prizes. Call 1-899-380-7724 for hotel reservations, and go to
for all the details and to register. Remember you have to be an FWA member to attend, so hurry and renew your membership if you haven't done so already. You may do that online as well. Registration jumps to $299 on September 30, so register now and save a few bucks.

Congratulations to the hard-working committee that produced last weekend's successful Florida Heritage Book Festival. Nearly 100 people attended the Craft of Writing Work
shops on Friday to hear from 14 excellent presenters. Kudos to Dianne Ell and her committee for putting it all together. At the same time, dozens of authors descended upon St. Johns County schools for a day of author talks. The next day's events were just as impressive as more than 400 people came to listen to and question the 40 authors participating in panel discussions and book signings. 

Kathy Dvornick and her team of masochistic, sleep-deprived volunteers deserve a big thanks for launching what will surely become one of Florida's major book festivals. 
To the left is Jewell Kutzer in her persona of the Mayberry Mamma regaling an auditorium full of students at Fruit Cove Middle School. Jewell chaired the author selection committee this year. Again, congratulations to all the volunteers who contributed to making this such a big success. Authors are already lining up to be part of next year's festival. 

Here's more news for area authors:
  • Much thanks and appreciation to Judy Connolly for her outstanding service to FWA during the past two years she led the River City Writers. Because of the press of her teaching duties and the classes she's taking for another degree, Judy has stepped down from that position. Judy was invaluable as coordinator of the Lighthouse Book Awards this year, and we'll all miss her wise counsel and leadership. But fear not, Judy has already lined-up the perfect replacement in the person of Darlene Myers. Most of you probably know Darlene as she's been very active with FWA, assisting with the past two regional conferences, both as bookstore manager and event photographer. She assisted Judy with the Lighthouse Book Awards and also managed the book store for the Florida Heritage Book Festival. Aside from that, Dar (as her friends know her) was this year's president of the Jacksonville chapter of Sisters in Crime. Here's Dar with author Steve Berry at the 2007 conference at the Ponte Vedra Library. She's the one on the right. Judy and Darlene will co-cost the October meeting, so plan to attend and welcome Darlene. They meet on the second Tuesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Regional Library located off Gate Parkway. The October 14 meeting features a talk by freelancer Kay Day who will share her knowledge of the freelance and non-fiction markets.
  • The Ancient City Writers would normally meet this Saturday (third Saturday of the month) at the Main Library in downtown St. Augustine. But because of their heavy involvement in the Craft of Writing Workshops last weekend, they have decided to rest this weekend. For information on how to rest or future meetings, please contact Jeff Swesky at
  • The Ponte Vedra Writers Chapter will meet as planned next Saturday, September 27 at 10:30 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Branch Library. We have a special treat as we welcome travel writer Lucy Beebe Tobias to regale us with tales of researching and writing her Florida travel book, 50 Great Walks in Florida. Lucy wore out two pair of shoes and covered 14,000 miles in writing her book for University Press of Florida. She'll share her research and writing secrets and tell more than a few tall tales in her show and tell talk, "The Writer as Road Warrior." An award-winning journalist who worked for the New York Times Regional Group for 23 years, Lucy is the Authentic Florida Expert for VISIT FLORIDA. She says she'll tell of "life lessons learned on the bumpy roads of Florida" where she took over 1,200 photos in ten months. 
  • The Amelia Island Writers Chapter meets at 6:00 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month at the Florida House Inn in downtown Fernandina Beach. Maggie deVries is the group leader and she may be reached at
  • And speaking of Amelia Island, the Amelia Island Book Festival swings out on October 3 - 4 with 35 authors including Steve Berry, Louis Bayard, and Laura Moriarty. The event is returning to the campus of St. Peter's Episcopal Church at the corner of A1A and Centre Street. Friday's activities include the Authors in the Schools and Rock n' Roll Readings at Wicked Davey's Fancy Saloon at 7:00 p.m. That's a free event as are the author sessions on Saturday. Go to Amelia Island Book Festival for details. 
  • Much Ado About Books is seeking a chair for the Children's Chapter for the 2009 event. This person will lead the planning committee to assist the children's book authors in setting up and running their booths. This means organizing a group of volunteers to help with each booth. If interested, contact Terry Algire at or Valerie Pickett at
  • Louisiana author Pamela Binnings Ewen will be swinging through our region promoting her new book, The Moon in the Mango Tree. Set during the Roaring 20s, the novel tells the story of a beautiful Philadelphia woman torn between love for her husband and her desire for a career in music. Based upon the true-life experiences of the author's grandmother, The Moon in the Mango Tree takes readers from the streets of Philadelphia to the jungles of Siam. Ewen will be speaking at the Ponte Vedra Library's Book Talk Cafe program this Monday, September 22 at 6:30 p.m. The author, by-the-way, is a former Houston attorney who happens to be part of a family of successful writers, including her cousin James Lee Burke, and Andre Dubus. Her talk is free and open to the public.
  • Finally, have you signed up for the new FWA Network yet? This is a new member-only social networking site similar to MySpace and Facebook, but for members of Florida Writers Association. It's feature-rich and allows members unprecedented opportunity to connect with one another and share news and views, while supporting each other and promoting your achievements. This is the place for that BSP (Blatant Self Promotion) and posting photos, forum discussions, and add friends to your personal page. There's a lot more, so if you're an FWA member you should take advantage of this new benefit by registering at the FWA Network.
That's it for now. We'll see you on the book shelves.