Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Holidays are for writers

With October slipping away, November promises more than a blessed end to the longest presidential campaign in history, it also ushers in the start of the holiday season. Before you go crazy spending your share of the government bailout bounty (sorry, I lost my head), join me in reviewing goals made at the dawn of 2008. 

Did you complete your book, I asked myself? Yes and no is my answer. Did you send out query letters to agents and publishers? Oh boy, did I. Did you get published? Yep, Windrusher number 3 came bouncing out of the oven in August. Did you sign up for the FWA conference? You have to ask?

If you didn't reach all of your goals, don't despair as there are still two months left in the year. Keep working your plan and planning your work as the sales people like to say. 

FWA can certainly help keep you on track with motivating and educational meetings, and next month's big conference. This will be my last plug for the conference (or maybe not), but it's approaching fast so time is running out to register. There are dozens of outstanding workshops and presenters during the November 14 - 16 conference, including agents, editors and publishers. All of the Friday morning signature workshops are now included in the one fee, and, of course, there's the Royal Palm Literary Awards Banquet on Saturday night. Go to the FWA website for details. 

FWA chapters are springing up faster than I can keep up with them. Five new groups have come on line in the last six weeks, including groups in Crawfordville (near Tallahassee), Gainesville, Celebration, St. Lucie, and Ocala. The Ocala group is led by Lucy Beebe Tobias, author of 50 Great Walks in Florida, and a speaker at our Ponte Vedra Writers chapter several weeks ago. Good luck to all the new group leaders as they do their part as "Writers helping writers." I'm sure there will be more groups added soon since FWA continues to grow and prosper.

And speaking of FWA chapters, here's a rundown of what's on the horizon for November, although the holidays are having an impact on local meetings:

  • River City Writers meet on the second Tuesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. the SE Branch Library on Deerwood Park Blvd. However, there will be no meeting that night due to the room not being available that day. Look for them to resume on December 9 with creative writing instructor John Boles discussing character development. For information, contact group leader Darlene Myers at or visit their blog.
  • St. Augustine's Ancient City Writers chapter reprieves Sandra McDonald's talk on Implied Author/Implied Reader. Sandra spoke at the Ponte Vedra Writers group meeting last weekend on the same subject. If you missed her excellent presentation, this is your chance to catch it. Be there on Saturday, November 15 at 10:00 a.m. at St. Augustine's Main Library. In December, they'll meet on the 6th because of the Christmas holidays.   The special program includes a panel discussion and book sale. Contact Jeff Swesky at or visit the Ancient City Writers Blog.
  • To the north is the Amelia Island Writers Group, meeting on Tuesday, November 18 at 6:00 p.m. at Fernandina's Beach's Florida House Inn. Maggie deVries leads this group and she can be reached at
  • And to round out our regional meetings, my Ponte Vedra Writers group is going on a two month hiatus due to conflicts with the holidays. But we're coming back strong in the new year with some exceptional programs. Look for more information soon.
Here are some other writer's groups in the area for you to check out:
  • First Coast Christian Writers meet each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. in room 207 at Christ's Church on Greenland Road. Chapter President is Lorraine Haataia.
  • First Coast Romance Writers meet at 11:00 a.m. on the 2nd Saturday of the month at the West Regional Library on Chaffee Road. 
  • Florida Sisters in Crime has just changed their meeting date to the third Saturday of the month at 10:30 a.m. at the SE Regional Library.
  • North Florida Writers meets at 2:00 p.m. on the second Saturday of every month at the Webb Westconnett Library. 
  • Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) meets on the third Saturday  of each month from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Library. Contact Janet Walter at
What else is going on in the area?
  • In case you didn't see it, The Florida Times-Union announced their annual Holiday Short Story Contest. The deadline is 4:00 p.m. Friday, November 21 and it needs to be no longer than 1,000 words. A new wrinkle this year is the "shoebox" format. All stories must incorporate the following words or phrases at least once within the body of the story: nog, wreath, mistletoe, blizzard, kazoo, gingerbread, family, Alabama, puppy, stocking, roller coaster and Kermit the Frog.  Sounds  like fun. Read all the details online at the TU's website.
  • And if you're into contests, check out Poets & Writers site for a comprehensive listing of contests for poets, novelists and short story writers. It also includes announcements of available grants and fellowships for writers. 
That's it for now. I'll leave you with these encouraging words from Mickey Spillane, the late, great writer of hard-boiled detective fiction:

"If you're a singer you lose your voice. A baseball player loses his arm. A writer gets more knowledge, and if he's good, the older he gets, the better he writes."

1 comment:

gillberk said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.