Saturday, October 11, 2008

What's in it for me?

"I want to learn more about how to be a better writer, but I'm not sure if these meetings will  help me."
The woman on the other end of the phone had called asking about attending our next FWA Chapter meeting after seeing a notice in the newspaper. She wanted to know more about FWA and "what was in it for her." I told her of the benefits of FWA, of the various chapter meetings throughout our region with stimulating speakers, of the networking and motivation the meetings provided. I told her of The Florida Writer magazine, of the annual conference and the mini-conferences and Lighthouse Book Awards. 
After five minutes of conversation, she decided that FWA sounded like what she was looking for to get her writerly juices flowing. And as I spoke, it reinforced to me the value of FWA and how much it has helped me personally in my writing career. If you feel the same way, I hope to see you at one of the meetings or at the November Conference in Lake Mary. Remember you have to be a member to attend the annual conference, so if it's time for you to renew, this is the time to do it. Go to the FWA website for details. 
Here's what's happening in our NE Florida Region:
  • Monday, October 13 at 6:30 p.m. – Bestselling international thriller author Steve Berry speaks at the Ponte Vedra Library as part of the FOL's Book Talk Cafe program. Steve will be discussing his latest thriller, The Venetian Betrayal, and give us a preview of his December release, The Charlemagne Pursuit. In The Venetian Betrayal, Cotton Malone, the former U.S. Justice Department agent turned rare book dealer, chases after a miraculous healing serum supposedly buried with the remains of Alexander the Great. Berry, who lives on the SE Georgia coast where he practiced law until very recently, has seen his last four books debut on The NY Times Bestseller list. He was recently a Guest of Honor at the Amelia Island Book Festival.
  • Tuesday, October 14 at 7:00 p.m. – River City Writers Chapter meets at the SE Branch Regional Library to hear from freelancer Kay Day who will talk about making a living with the nonfiction market. Again, thanks to Darlene Myers for assuming the leadership role with the River City Writers. Questions about the meetings, contact Dar at
  • Saturday, October 18 at 10:00 a.m. – Ancient City Writers monthly meeting at St. Augustine's downtown Main Library will host romantic suspense author Terri Ridgell, a familiar face on the First Coast. Terri has been director of the Amelia Island Book Festival for the past two years, and will have a timely topic for those of us attending the November Conference: Approaching an Editor or Agent. Terri will tell us how to take advantage of the few minutes you have to present yourself and your project in the best possible light.  
  • Tuesday, October 21 at 6:00 p.m. – The Amelia Island Writers Chapter holds their regular monthly meeting at the Florida House Inn's conference room  in the historic section of Fernandina Beach. For information, contact Maggie deVries at
  • Friday, October 24 at 7:30 p.m. – Sara Gruen, author of the bestseller Water for Elephants, will speak at the Sawgrass Marriott Resort. Water for Elephants  chronicles the life of Jacob Jankowski, a depression-era veterinarian who runs away and joins a third-rate traveling circus. The New York Times Book Review wrote, "With a showman's expert timing, Gruen saves a terrific revelation for the final pages, transforming a glimpse of Americana into an enchanting fairy tale." Gruen will be the guest of honor at a Patron's Reception at 6:00 p.m. and then speak at 7:30 p.m. on the 24th. Reception and presentations tickets are $60 for PV FOL members, $80 for non-members or $20 and $30 for the presentation only. They may be purchased at Seymour's Bookstore inside the Ponte Vedra Library or by calling 904-285-0073.
  • Saturday, October 25 at 10:30 a.m. – The Ponte Vedra Writers Chapter presents Sandra McDonald, heralded science-fiction author and writing instructor to speak about Implied Author/Implied Reader. Sandra says, "There are two characters that every writer must consider, whether working in fiction or non-fiction or poetry. How do you define the difference between them and work them to your best advantage." Sandra is the author of The Outback Stars and the sequel, The Stars Down Under. She's an accomplished writer, teacher and much in demand as a speaker on the craft of writing. If you attended any of  her workshops, either at writing conferences or at our FWA meetings, you won't want to miss her presentation. 
Other happenings of interest to area writers: 
  • Congratulations to Terri Wright and Susan Siegmund for a successful Amelia Island Book Festival. The Festival returned to the site of the Episcopal Church and attracted a large and enthusiastic crowd. The Author's Luncheon turned out to be a big success as well with speaker Louis Bayard. Congratulations also to Dickie Anderson who takes over as director of the festival.
  • North Florida Writers meet today at 2:00 p.m. at the Webb-Wesconnett Branch Library at the corner of 103rd and Harlow Blvd. The group will be critiquing manuscripts today.
  • The First Coast Christian Writers Group meets every Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at Christ's Church, 6045 Greenland Road, in room 204. Contact Lorraine Haataia at
  • The local chapter of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators) has issued a December Picture Book Challenge to write a picture book to be started on December 1 and completed by December 31. Finished manuscripts may be sent to challenge coordinator Robyn Gioia at Janet Walter, the SCBWI Jacksonville coordinator and Robyn will sort the manuscripts and distribute them to critique groups. Their goal is to produce publishable picture books from the challenge. Contact either Robyn or Janet,, for more details.
  • Video book trailers are another weapon in the author's arsenal of promotion and marketing weapons. You can see them on author's websites or view hundreds of them on YouTube. They take many forms from talking heads to animation. In this act of BSP, Blatant Self-Promotion, I share with you my new trailer for Windrusher and the Trail of Fire. Check it out at YouTube and rate it if you're so inclined. Let me know what you think.
Until next time, keep writing.

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