Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Holiday Happenings

This season of giving makes me think of Sol Stein's remark that, "Writing fiction is like preparing a gift for a stranger." Those of us who feel compelled to write – fiction or non-fiction – should keep that in mind throughout the year and offer our greatest gifts to the strangers who will, hopefully, purchase our books.

And even though this is the holiday season, there is still news for writers to share. First, the FWA meetings.
  • River City Writers meet tonight, Tuesday, December 8 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Regional Library at Gate Parkway and Deerwood Park Blvd. Chapter leader Gregg Golson,, will host an interactive talk on "How to Bring Your Fiction to Life." Group critiques will follow.
  • Amelia Island Writers meet on the third Tuesday of the month at 6:00 p.m. at the Florida House Inn. This month's speaker is Cara Curtin who will discuss the importance of outlining. Cara's latest novel, Fernandina's Finest Easter, was just released. While this is a dinner meeting, it is not required. Contact Maggie deVries,, for details.
  • Ancient City Writers meet on the third Saturday of the month, December 19 at 10:15 a.m at St. Augustine's Main Library. Romance author Elizabeth Sinclair presents a two-hour workshop on "Writing the Dreaded Synopsis." Condensing a full-length novel to a single page or even three pages, often seems like an overwhelming task, so this workshop should prove very helpful. Coincidentally, Elizabeth has a how-to book entitled, The Dreaded Synopsis, which will be available for sale. A holiday party follows the workshop. FWA members and visitors are invited to share the good cheer. And because the Ponte Vedra Writers meeting falls on the Christmas weekend, we're merging the two chapters for this meeting and encourage Ponte Vedra writers to attend the St. Augustine meeting.
Upcoming Happenings
  • Amelia Island Book Festival– This regional favorite has moved to a new time of year – February 12 - 13 – several new venues, and new director Dickie Anderson has worked hard to provide a tasty platter of choice offerings. Included are Friday's Writers' Workshop, Saturday's free presentations, and several ticketed events including a luncheon with authors Rick Bragg and Sonny Brewer, and a special evening with Pat and Melissa Conroy. The Writers' Workshop has moved to the Florida State College Betty Cobb Center in Yulee, while the Saturday offerings remain at St. Peter's Episcopal Church. Cost for the workshop is $90, and includes the luncheon with Bragg and Brewer. I'll be presenting a morning workshop – "From Great Beginnings to Effective Endings." Visit the website for complete details.
  • Much Ado About Books – February 26 - 27 at Jacksonville's Main Library. Kicks off with an intensive five-hour workshop with Steve and Liz Berry Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The workshop covers story structure, POV, dialogue, the 10 Rules of Writing and much more. Steve and Liz are donating their time on behalf of their foundation, History Matters, to benefit the Jacksonville Public Library Foundation. Cost of the workshop is $100. Mary Kay Andrews is the featured speaker at the Keynote Luncheon on Saturday. More can be found on their website.
  • Sleuthfest 2010 – February 25 - 28, Deerfield Beach, FL. An excellent conference for mystery writers or lovers of mysteries, produced by the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. This year's event features appearances by David Morrell, Stephen J. Cannell, PJ Parrish, James W. Hall, and many more.
  • Learn Jacksonville – UNF's Continuing Education program in 2010 includes numerous writing workshops, including film, memoir and my own Novel in a Day workshop. Click on the link and scroll down to find the workshop for you.
  • You may have read in the latest issue of The Florida Writer that longtime FWA President Dan Griffith has tendered his resignation. To quote from the article, "Dan began his presidency during a time of uncertainty for FWA, acting as a stabilizing force, a leader with strong convictions, and a personal mentor to many writers." In recent years, FWA has achieved unprecedented growth, now topping the 1,000-member mark, and added many new benefits and features for members. We thank Dan for his years of service and wish him the best in his retirement. Chrissy Jackson moves into the President's office, and FWA is seeking nominations for Vice President. As chair of the nominating committee, I welcome your nominations for this office. Email me at
  • Finally, there will be a new Orange Park FWA Chapter starting next month. Orange Park Writers will meet at the Fleming Island Branch Library on an as yet to be determined time and date. If you're interested in participating in these meetings, contact chapter leader Maureen Jung at BTW, Maureen will be the guest speaker at the January 23rd meeting of Ponte Vedra Writers.
On behalf of the Florida Writers Association, I thank each of you for the trust and support you've shown the organization over the years. Together we have made great strides. On behalf of the FWA Board, I wish you the very best during this holiday season.

Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Monday, November 02, 2009

Off and running

I promised myself that in deference to friends and family who support the Georgia Bulldogs, I wouldn't make any football allusions or take any cheap shots at the Dawgs. So I won't — other than to say, I was happy to see the GA fans continue their revered tradition of leaving in the third quarter of the game.
But as writers, we can't quit in the third quarter. I've said it before that the race (getting published) often goes to the most persistent, not the fastest or most talented. My hat is off to those of you who keep plugging away, attend workshops and critique groups to improve your craft, and enter contests. Which leads me to this year's Royal Palm Literary Awards where First Coast Writers were very visible in the number of awards they took home. We accounted for 15 awards in 13 different categories. In my earlier email, I neglected to mention some of the winners. Here now is a more complete listing of the RPLA winners from NE Florida:

Poetry (Published) – First Place, Michael Ray King for Rendezvous
Creative Non-Fiction (Unpublished) – Second Place, June Lands for My Self and Peggy Lee
Short Nonfiction (Published) – First Place, Mary Bridgman for Growing Up Without Ken
Educational/Informational (Published) – Second Place, Mims Cushing with co-author Dr. Norman Latov, for You Can Cope with Peripheral Neuropathy: 365 Tips for Living a Full Life
Autobiography (Unpublished) – Second Place, Jeff Swesky, with Rabbi Samuel Cywiak for Flight from Fear
Short Story (Unpublished) – Second Place, Victor DiGenti, for Saving Sam
Short Story (Unpublished) – First Place, Mary Bridgman, for Snakes Alive
Flash Fiction (Unpublished) – First Place, June Lands, for The Leaving
YA (Unpublished) – First Place, Ellen Thornton, for The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis
YA (Published) – First Place, Randy Cribbs, for Ghosts: Another Summer in the Old Town
Children's (Published) – Second Place, James Weinsier, for Where Do We Go?
Mystery (Unpublished) – Honorable Mention, Judy Weber, for No Good Deed
Mystery (Unpublished) – First Place, Victor DiGenti, for Matanzas Bay
Historical Fiction (Unpublished‚ – First Place, Dan Dundon, for The Shanghai Madonna
Book of the Year (Unpublished) – Matanzas Bay by Victor DiGenti

I apologize if I left anyone out. We have so many wonderful writers in our region it's hard to keep up with all of them. I look forward to listing your name as one of next year 's winners.
And speaking of the winners, here's a shot
of all the RPLA winners who attended the banquet on October 24.

A number of area writers are represented in the first annual FWA Collection, From Our Family to Yours. The Collection of 60 stories and essays was released during the conference.
It's available at the online FWA Bookstore at a reduced price of $13.95. Congratulations to all the writers published in the book,
and look for details soon for Collections #2, Slices of Life. One of the biggest treats of the festival was finding other Collection authors and having them sign their entry. To the left is a group shot of some of the Collection authors.

Now a sneak preview of our upcoming FWA meetings for November:
  • First Coast Christian Writers meet weekly from 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. every Thursday in room 513 at Christ's Church, 6045 Greenland Road in Jacksonville. This week, Thursday, November 5, the group will hear from Jerry and Bobbi Hanks, who together wrote Tears of Joy about Jerri's battle with cancer and their life together. They will give their "Top Ten Tips about the Write Stuff." FCCW is affiliated with FWA and American Christian Writers. Each meeting includes a speaker and critiques. The group is led by Dr. Lorraine Haataia.
  • The River City Writers meet on the second Tuesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Branch Library located off Gate Parkway and Deerwood Park Blvd. This month's meeting on Tuesday, November 10 should be a must attend for children's authors who'd like to make a dent in the school market. Chris Rumble is described as an Author-Illustrator-Musician-Encourager. Kids love his highly-illustrated Adventures of Uncle Stinky series (especially designed for reluctant readers!). Chris has taken his “ALL-IN-ONE” author event to over 500 schools and libraries coast to coast in the last six years, and he'll tell us how he does it.
  • The Amelia Island Writers meet on the third Tuesday of the month at Fernandina Beaches Florida House inn at 6:00 p.m. Chapter leader Maggie deVries,, reports that this is now a dinner meeting, although no one is obligated to buy dinner to attend the meeting. This month's guest speaker is Nancy Haddock, author of La Vida Vampire and Last Vampire Standing.
  • Ancient City Writers meet on the third Saturday of the month at 10:15 a.m. at St. Augustine's Main Library, 1960 N. Ponce de Leon Blvd. This month, November 21, editor Emily Carmain relates the "Ten Treacherous Writing Traps and How to Avoid Them." Emily heads Noteworthy Editing Services and has edited hundreds of manuscripts, both fiction and nonfiction.
  • Because of the Thanksgiving holidays, I've moved my Ponte Vedra Writers meeting from the fourth Saturday of the month to the third, providing a conflict with the Ancient City Writers. Sorry about that, but with over 500 writers on my distribution list, there should be more than enough bodies to go around. So on November 21st at 10:30 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Library,the guest speaker will be the ever-popular Rik Feeney. Rik's topic is "Your Book:The Primary Marketing Tool." Writing your book is only half the battle. Selling it is the other half. Rik will provide innovative ideas for maximizing the selling power of your book. We'll also get an early start on the gift-giving season with a Book Swap. If you're like me, you have hundreds of books you've either never read or have read and are now gathering dust. Why not trade them in for something you want to read. These can be books on writing or other genre, fiction or nonfiction. Bring two, three or four and we'll display them at tables and have an exchange party. We'll also have some refreshments on hand to make it a bit more festive. Please bring only gently read books, no thirty-year-old textbooks, please. Anything left over will be donated to the library's bookstore.
Other area meetings and items of interest:
  • The Florida Chapter of Sisters in Crime meets the first Saturday of each month. That's Saturday, November 7, 10:30 a.m. at the SE Regional Library. Speaker is Mary Anna Evans, author of the Faye Longchamp mystery series.
  • SCBWI will not be meeting in November or December. Meetings resume in January. Check their website for details.
  • North Florida Writers meet next on Saturday, November 14 at 2:00 p.m. at the Webb-Wesconnett Regional Library on 103rd Street. Guests are welcome and invited to bring a manuscript to be critiqued.
  • Frank Green's Bard Society critique group continues to meet each Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m. in his living room. Contact Frank at for details and directions.
  • Christie Ramey reports that she has started a critique group for Christian writers that meets at the Webb-Wesconnett Library every Monday at 2:00 p.m. Contact Christy at
  • And John Tinney wants folks at the beach to know that his critique group is accepting new members, They meet at the Ponte Vedra Library the first and third Wednesday of each month at 3:00 p.m. John may be reached at
Upcoming Conferences:
  • The 6th Annual Eckerd College Writers' Conference – Writers in Paradise, January 16 - 24, features a slew of best-selling authors on their faculty this year including Anita Shreve, Dennis Lehane, Sheri reynolds, Michael Koryta, and Laura Lippman.
  • The Tallahassee Festival of Books and Writers Conference, March 19 -21, will include (for an additional fee) an advanced workshop with Donald Maass, New York literary agent and author of Writing the Breakout Novel. Advance registration is necessary for this. Email Donna Meredith at The workshop is available only to conference attendees.
  • My Novel in a Day workshop, part of the University of North Florida's Learn Jacksonville program, filled up fast last month. If you missed out, you'll have two more opportunities to enroll in the full-day novel writing workshop – January 16 and March 13. Sharon Cobb has two screenwriting workshops coming up this month, John Boles' Introduction to Creative Writing extends into January and February, and Carol O'Dell's Memoir Writing workshop has also added January and February dates. Go to the Course Schedule page to review dates and times. You may register from that page as well.
That's it for now. Here's a quote from Jack London, "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."


Thursday, October 01, 2009

Write on time


There's no time like the present to get your writing life in order. With the final quarter of 2009 ahead of us, there's still time to complete whatever project you're working or start a new one. To send out those query letters and to sign up for the annual FWA Conference.

One of the Keynote Speakers this year is James O. Born, pictured, the award-winning mystery writer who recently published his first SF novel. It should be interesting to hear how he juggles the two genres and why he decided to write a science-fiction novel. Born, a Special Agent with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), will also do a workshop on Backstory and how to use it effectively. Click here for a listing of the complete Conference Workshop Schedule. Remember you have to be a member to attend, so take the time to join or renew that membership and then sign up because it's chock-full of high level workshops and sessions.

There's also a full slate of editors, agents and publishers waiting for your pitch. Visit the website for complete details and registration information.

FWA Meetings for October:

  • First Coast Christian Writers meet every Thursday night at 6:45 p.m. at Christ's Church on Greenland Road. This week's speaker is April Broussard a social media consultant, speaker, and workshop facilitator. The group also conducts writing critiques after the speaker.
  • The River City Writers meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Library at 10599 Deerwood Park Blvd. Contact group leader Gregg Golson,, for more information on this month's meeting, Tuesday, October 13.
  • St. Augustine's Ancient City Writers chapter has an intriguing program set for Saturday, October 17 at 10:15 a.m. at the Main Library at 1960 N. Ponce de Leon Blvd. If you're already published or about to be published you might want to learn more about "The Business of Being a Writer." This panel discussion will look at various aspects of preparing yourself, promoting yourself, and selling books.
  • Moving north to the Amelia Island Writers, group leader Maggie de Vries reports that author Pat Van Dorn, When Evils Converge, will be the speaker. The group meets on the third Tuesday of the month, Tuesday, October 20 at 6:00 p.m. at the Florida House Inn in Fernandina Beach. Contact Maggie at for details.
  • Have you ever wondered what it's like to write with a collaborator? And what if your co-author was your spouse? Is this double the pleasure or double the trouble? Marie and Mac Vernon are a writing couple (apparently still married) who have co-authored two true crime books, Deadly Lust and Deadly Crime. They'll share the pros and cons of the co-author relationship at the next Ponte Vedra Writers meeting, Saturday, October 31 at 10:30 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Library. Note that the meeting falls on the last Saturday this month because of the FWA Conference on the 24th.
Other area meetings:
  • The Florida First Coast Sisters in Crime chapter meets this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the SE Regional Library. Guest speaker is Richard Orsini, a Board Certified, court qualified, Forensic Document Examiner. Orsini has worked over 700 cases in 41 states and foreign countries. They'll also be taking nominations for new officers for 2010. Contact Pam Wells,, for details.
  • The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) is meeting on Saturday, October 17 from 1-3, at the Southeast Regional Library. Local author Jennifer Swanson will speak on Securing an Online Presence. Meetings are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Janet Walter at
  • North Florida Writers meet at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 10 at the Webb-Wesconnett Library on 103rd Street. Contact Howard Denson,, for more info.
On the horizon, look for a joint meeting of the Ancient City Writers and Ponte Vedra Writers in December on the 19th in St. Augustine. This will be a combined holiday celebration of writing. More to follow.

Until next time,


Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

No time to fall back

With summer just a reflection in our rearview mirrors, that means the FWA Annual Conference is right around the corner. Have you registered yet? The dates are October 23 - 25 with a special pre-Conference master class on characterization with Margie Lawson on Thursday, October 22. More about that later, but remember two things: first, you must be an FWA member to attend the conference, and second, appointments with editors and agents are beginning to fill up. So go to the Florida Writers Association website for all the details and to register.
Now, about Margie Lawson's master class, Empowering Characters' Emotions. You
don't have to register for the conference to attend the master class, but if you're going to the conference, this class is definitely worth an
extra day. The class is $50 for FWA members and $75 for non-members. All proceeds from this class go to the Florida Writers Foundation to help fight illiteracy, so you'll be helping yourself and helping others learn to read.
Lawson, a practicing psychologist, has been collecting rave reviews from writers across the U.S., in Canada, and in Australia and New Zealand. In the last four and a half
years, she’s presented over 42 full day master classes teaching writers how to add emotional power that hooks the reader viscerally and creates a page-turner. More information can be found online.
One more item before we move on, there will again be a silent auction at the conference to benefit the Foundation. Each region has been asked to gather items to include in the auction. I'd like to put together a gift basket of NE Florida-themed items. Do you have something you can contribute? It might be a special book about our area, food or household product. Think about it and email me at to let me know about your donation.
Now on to this month's FWA chapter meetings:
  • First Coast Christian Writers meets every Thursday night at 6:45 p.m. at Christ's Church on Greenland Road. This week's speaker is author Pete Koerner who will discuss his book, The Belief Formula.
  • River City Writers meets on the second Tuesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Library off Gate Parkway. Gregg Golson is the new chapter leader and can be reached at
  • Amelia Island Writers meet on the third Tuesday of the month at Fernandina's Florida House Inn at 6:00 p.m. Contact Maggie deVries at for details.
  • Ancient City Writers will hear from writing coach John Boles about how to turn your novel into a screenplay. They meet on Saturday, September 19 at 10:15 a.m. at St. Augustine's Main Library, 1960 N. Ponce De Leon Blvd. John has been a producer, director, editor and actor. Writers will break into critique groups following John's presentation.
  • Ponte Vedra Writers round off the month with a special program of interest to both crime and mystery writers who want the inside scoop from a working police detective. Karen Smith is a detective with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and the training coordinator for the Crime Scene Unit. She's been with JSO for ten years and investigated over 200 homicides and more than 3,000 other crimes. If you think crimes can be solved in an hour or less (with time for commercials) then you need to hear Detective Smith. She will use her knowledge of crime scene investigation to tell us the difference between what we see on CSI and Law and Order and real-life investigation. The meeting begins at 10:30 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Library.
More News for Writers
  • The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) is meeting on
    Saturday, September 19 from 1-3, at the Southeast Regional Library, 10599
    Deerwood Park Blvd, Jacksonville, Florida 32256. (904) 996-0325. Paul R. May will speak on Organizational Strategies for Novel Revision and Robyn Gioia will walk us through using Wikis. SCBWI meetings are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Janet Walter at .
  • Mims Cushing will teach a writing class for writers of all persuasions at THE PLAYERS Community Senior Center in Ponte Vedra Beach. Mims describes it as "Not your eighth grade English teacher's writing class. No pressure, no grades." The class will meet on Wednesday afternoons from 12:30 to 1:30 for four weeks starting October 14. There is a minimum $10 donation which will go to the senior center. Call Mims at 285-5781 or make your reservations at 280-3233.
  • Frank Green continues to set records every week with his long-running critique sessions known as The Bard Society. They meet at 7:00 p.m. at Frank's home. Contact him for details at
  • The University of North Florida's Division of Continuing Education launches another season in their popular Learn Jacksonville personal enrichment programs. Among the dozens of excellent courses (including belly dancing and wine appreciation) are four writing courses of note. Sharon Cobb will teach three 1-day screenwriting courses for beginning, intermediate and advanced writers. John Boles will teach Introduction to Creative Writing, and Carol O'Dell leads a course on memoir writing. And the fourth course? That would be "Novel in a Day," with me as the headmaster. Novel in a Day is an interactive 1-day course taking writers through all the basic elements of novel writing. Held on Saturday, October 27, participants will leave with the outline for their next novel. Click on the link above for details of all the Learn Jacksonville courses.
At the Florida Heritage Writers Workshop last Friday, literary agent Lucienne Diver mentioned America's Next Best Celler Contest. Dorchester Publishing is looking for "the next New Voice in Romance." All genres of romance are welcome, and contestants must publish at least 20 chapters/6,000 words by November 1, 2009 on Textnovel. Voters will select the top ten finalists, with the winning mss receiving a $2,000 advance and publication by Dorchester.

Until the next update, keep writing, and I'll see you in the book stores.


Saturday, August 08, 2009

Getting excited yet?

Yesterday we launched the 1st annual UNF Writers Conference with a day of workshops keynoted by bestselling author Steve Berry. Nearly 100 writers were in attendance for this 3-day conference jointly sponsored by FWA and UNF.
If you missed it, consider the upcoming Florida Heritage Writers Workshop, Friday, September 11 at the Casa Monica Hotel in St. Augustine. Among the offerings, south Florida Edgar Award-winning suspense author T. J. MacGregor will show you how to storyboard a novel, Florida Book Award Gold Medalist Shawn Bean provides tips on researching historical events, and literary agent Lucienne Diver talks about "Getting an Agent's Attention – the Right Way."

The cost is only $50 if you act fast because after August 14 it jumps to $65. And if you procrastinate, the price at the door is $85. Seating is limited to the first 100, so visit and click on the Events page to register.

Here's what happening this month at the FWA Chapter meetings:
  • First Coast Christian Writers, now affiliated with FWA, meets each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at Christ's Church on Greenland Road. Each meeting provides a guest speaker as well as a critique session.
  • River City Writers meet Tuesday, July 11 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Library, 10599 Deerwood Park Blvd. This month's speaker is freelance journalist and FWA member Anna Rabhan speaking on the topic, ""Freelancing: Is it for You?"
  • Ancient City Writers meet Saturday, August 15 at the Main Library in downtown St. Augustine at 10:15 a.m. The chapter is offering a double-barreled program this month with Rita Malie discussing writing memoirs and Rik Feeney reporting on his trip to Book Expo America earlier this summer.
  • Our neighbor to the north, Amelia Island Writers, meets on Tuesday, August 18 at 6:00 p.m. at the Florida House Inn in Fernandina Beach. Chapter leader Maggie deVries will be giving a mini-writing seminar covering dialogue and common writing mistakes. For more information, contact her at
  • As usual, the Ponte Vedra Writers close out the month with a meeting on the fourth Saturday, August 22, at 10:30 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Library. Entertainment attorney Carolyn Herman will tell you "What You Need to Know Before You Become Rich & Famous." She'll discuss those shadowy contractual issues you definitely need to know about before you sign a contract.
More News for Writers:
  • The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) is meeting on
    Saturday, August 15 from 1-3, at the Southeast Regional Library. Special
    guest speaker, Dr. Katie Monnin from the University of North Florida, will
    talk about developing a Graphic Novel. For more information, contact Janet Walter at
  • Anyone interested in joining a new critique group being formed by Jennifer Swanson may contact her at or pennyandrio@yahoo,com. Jennifer said the group will meet twice a month at either the Pablo Creek or SE Regional Libraries.
  • Time to register for the 8th Annual Florida Writers Conference, Lighting the Way, if you haven't already. Dates are October 23 - 25 and will be held at the Orlando Marriott Lake Mary. Six agents, nine publishers and a host of professionals will present workshops on everything from craft techniques like point of view, to how to build buzz for your book. There are a lot of reasons to attend, Open Mic Night, the keynote speech by suspense/thriller author James O. Born, and of course, the Royal Palm Literary Awards Banquet. For all the details, download the conference brochure from the FWA conference page.
  • Here's another reminder about the upcoming Literary Legends Awards dinner, part of the Florida Heritage Book Festival. The event honors outstanding Florida authors Michael Connelly, Harry Crews and Michael Gannon, and will be held at the Sawgrass Marriott in Ponte Vedra Beach on Thursday, August 27. Connelly, pictured at right, has been on the New York Times bestseller list with his Harry Bosch crime series as well as his stand-alone novels like Blood Work, which was made into a film starring Clint Eastwood. His latest release is The Scarecrow. Crews, an iconic novelist and former writing instructor at the University of Florida, was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame earlier this year. And Dr. Michael Gannon is known as the "dean of Florida studies," because of his acclaimed histories of Florida. Purchase your tickets online at the Florida Heritage Book Festival website.
  • The Scribbler's Retreat Writers Conference is held four times a year at the Sea Palms Resort on St. Simon's Island, GA. The next one is this weekend where the theme is Science-Fiction & Fantasy. I'll be in attendance Saturday and give a workshop on scene & sequel, entitled "Let's Make a Scene."
That's it for now. I'll leave you with a statement made by Steve Berry when he keynoted yesterday's UNF Writers Conference. He said that he wrote for 12 years, receiving 85 rejections for five different novels before he sold The Amber Room. "If I can do it, then so can you."


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Summer Doldrums

Here's a quick summer look at what's happening at the various FWA writers groups this month, as well as a reminder about upcoming events of interest.

  • First Coast Christian Writers meet each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at Christ's Church on Greenland Road. This week, July 16, author, speaker and trainer Snowden McFall is the speaker.
  • River City Writers meets Tuesday, July 14 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library. Former MP officer Henry Stevens became a UNF faculty member and developed advanced criminal investigation training courses for the school's Institute of Police Training & Management. He'll discuss basic crime investigations and interrogations techniques. Sounds like a good one for all you mystery writers out there.
  • Ancient City Writers meet this Saturday, July 18 at 10:15 a.m. at St. Augustine's Main Library. Arliss Ryan, the author of two historicals, including The Kingsley House, will discuss "How to Research and Write the Historical Novel."
  • Amelia Island Writers meet on Tuesday, July 21 at 6:00 p.m. at the Florida House Inn in Fernandina Beach. Contact Maggie deVries at maggie1948@yahoo,com for details.
  • The Ponte Vedra Writers round out the month on Saturday, July 25 at 10:30 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Library. Returning to the area is former resident and editor Camille Cline. Camille, a former senior editor with Cader Books in NY and senior acquisitions editor of Taylor Publishing in Dallas, now leads her own editing firm, The Literary Spa. Camille has more than ten years of real editing and book publishing experience. She will have a two-pronged talk (although she does as much listening to authors about their projects as she does talking) focusing on the numbers: Ten Tips for Self Editing & Five Keys to Getting Published.
And don't forget about these upcoming events:
  • There's a new writers conference in town — The UNF Writers Conference. This 3-day conference, August 7 - 9, is unique in that it combines writer's workshops with comprehensive critique sessions and a pitch and query panel designed to help writers get their work before agents and editors. The first day begins with twelve 1-hour workshops keynoted by NY Times bestselling author Steve Berry. The workshops cover craft, marketing and expanding your writing horizons. For registration and all the info, click on the above link.
  • The Florida Heritage Book Festival rolls out three blockbuster events you won't want to miss. The first is coming up on Thursday, August 27 at the Sawgrass Marriott Hotel in Ponte Vedra Beach. That night, the FHBF bestows three outstanding Florida authors with the Literary Legends Award. Michael Connelly, Harry Crews and Michael Gannon will be the recipients honored. Read about it and reserve a seat by clicking on this link.
  • The Florida Heritage Writers Workshop follows on Friday, September 11 at the Casa Monica Hotel. Literary agent (Knight Agency) Lucienne Diver will deliver the luncheon keynote and one of the workshops – "Getting an Agent's Attention–The Right Way." The cost, including lunch, is only $50, but it rises to $65 after August 14 and jumps to $85 at the door. Use the same link as above to register.
  • Don't forget to register for the annual FWA Conference, Lighting the Way, October 23-25 in Lake Mary. Always one of the better writers' conferences around, it's a good way to hone your skills, build your network and get published. You can also sign up for a Masters Class with Maggie Lawson on Thursday, October 22. Maggie is the developer of innovative psychologically-anchored editing systems and techniques. She'll teach us how to empower characters' emotions. The cost for the class is not included in the conference, but the $50 fee (for FWA members) benefits the Florida Writers Foundation to fight illiteracy. Visit the webpage to details and registration information.
That's it for now. Look for your FWA update newsletter in a few weeks.

Happy writiing trails to you,


Saturday, June 06, 2009

"Eighty percent of success is just showing up"
~ Woody Allen

Woody had the right idea, didn't he? The race often goes not to the fastest and strongest, as the hare found out, but to the most persistent. So, as writers, we hold on to our dreams and keep plugging away waiting for success to reward us. This month, you're rewarded with a multitude of opportunities to improve your craft, network with your peers, and learn how to make showing up more rewarding.

NE Florida FWA Chapter Meetings
  • First Coast Christian Writers meets every Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at Christ's Church on Greenland Road.
  • River City Writers will not meet this month. They will return on Tuesday, July 14 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library. Contact Darlene Myers for info:
  • Visit the Ancient City Writers at St. Augustine's Main Library downtown to hear Nancy Haddock discuss how to grow a plot from a single sentence. They meet Saturday, June 20 at 10:15 a.m. 
  • Amelia Island Writers will convene at the usual time and place—Tuesday, June 16 at 6:00 p.m. at the Florida House Inn in Fernandina Beach. Group leader Maggie deVries can give you the details:
  • Ponte Vedra Writers meet at their usual time of 10:30 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Library on Saturday, June 27. This time they'll
    gather to hear from mystery writer Mary Anna Evans talking about FINDING YOUR STORY'S VOICE. Mary Anna reminds us that no two people sound alike.  Most writers recognize the value of bringing  characters alive through pitch-perfect dialogue. She will show us how to bring your story alive by also honing the narrative voices that tell the tale. Show up for this valuable workshop.

And More for Writers
  • Speaking of mystery writers, Elaine Viets is one of the more popular ones with her Dead-End Job Mystery series. The South Florida author will make an appearance at the Ponte Vedra Library on Monday, June 15 at 6:30 p.m. as part of the FOL's Book Talk Cafe program. Elaine actually works the "rotten jobs" she puts her protagonist in with each novel. She'll talk about some of her experiences working everything from sales clerk to telemarketer, as well as her latest book, Killer Cuts, in which amateur detective Helen Hawthorne works as an assistant in a high-end hair styling salon.
  • Remember to register for the annual FWA Conference, Lighting the Way, before July 31 to take advantage of the early-bird rates. Mystery and now SF author James O. Born is the Saturday keynote speaker, and the line-up of workshops is impressive. Click on the above link for details and registration form. Remember, you must be an FWA member to attend.
  • FWA has topped the 900 mark in membership for the first time. New chapters have been added across the state and more benefits are coming. If you haven't joined or logged on the FWA Network lately you should check it out for the latest news and Forums for writers.
  • The SCBWI Jacksonville children's writing group is meeting again on June 20 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library. The format of the meeting will be "Meet, Greet & Critique."
  • The Amelia Island Book Festival presents an author luncheon with New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank discussing her novel, Return to Sullivan's Island. Benton will be at the Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island on Wednesday, July 15 at 11:30 a.m. Go to the AIBF website for more information and reservations. 
  • The Anhinga Writers' Studio Summer Workshop (formerly the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Writing the Region Workshop) will be held July 29 - August 1 in Gainesville. Along with a noted faculty of writing pros, the conference will feature Charlaine Harris, author of the Southern Vampire Mysteries, popularized on the HBO series, True Blood.
  • The Florida Heritage Book Festival offers all kinds of great opportunities for writers and readers alike. The 2nd Annual Literary Legends Awards banquet is scheduled for Thursday, August 27 at the Sawgrass Marriott Hotel. This year's ceremony honors New York Times bestselling author Michael Connelly, pictured at right, noted historian Michael Gannon, and novelist Harry Crews. Each will appear at the dinner, as will Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning who will present the awards. Tickets are available online at the website link above.
  • Also part of the festival is the Florida Heritage Writers Workshop on Monday, September 11 at the Casa Monica Hotel. The day-long conference features many of the authors appearing the next day at Flagler College, including Thomas Cavanagh, T. J. MacGregor, Shawn Bean and M. C. Finotti. Also presenting a workshop on how to get an agent's attention is literary agent Lucienne Diver. Early-bird registration is only $50 before August 14. But it jumps dramatically after that so make your reservations soon as seating is limited to 100 people. Again, you can reserve your seat online and pay via PayPal.
  • The next day's activities are free, except for the Keynote Luncheon with Sen. Mel Martinez A Sense of BelongingOne Man’s Pursuit of the American Dream. The day features author talks, panel discussions, book signings and more by many noted authors including Tim Dorsey, Nuclear Jellyfish, that's him peeking around the bush to the left, young fantasy sensation Nancy Yi Fan, Swordbird, Eliot Kleinberg, Weird Florida, Rick YancyThe Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp, and many more. Visit the FHBF website often for schedules and details as it is constantly updated.

That's it for now,

Thursday, April 30, 2009

"All things seem possible in May"
~ Edwin Way Teale

   Teale was an American naturalist, photographer and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer who obviously knew a thing or two about the promises of spring. I find that some of my best story ideas come to me while mowing the lawn or working in the garden—if you can call the motley assortment of plants, weeds and tree roots snaking through my lawn a garden. 
   But this month brings a florist's truckload of goodies so read on for news of FWA meetings and other activities of interest to area writers.

NE Florida FWA Chapter Meetings
  • First Coast Christian Writers meets every Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at Christ's Church on Greenland Road. The May 7 speaker is Jacksonville Beach Police Chief Bruce Thomason who will discuss his crime thriller, Body Toll.  
  • River City Writers meets on the second Tuesday of the month at the SE Branch Library off Gate Parkway at 7:00 p.m. Next meeting is Tuesday, May 12. Lynn Thompson is the speaker. Contact group leader Dar Myers for more information:
  • Ancient City Writers this month calls on another ancient writer for its program as Regional Director Vic DiGenti presents a follow-up to his "Great Beginnings" workshop. This time Vic (yes, we ancient writers are allowed to refer to ourselves in third person) continues the novel lesson plan with "How to Avoid Muddled Middles & Dead Ends." We will all gather at the Main Library's meeting room at 10:15 a.m. to hear Vic discuss how to sustain interest to the very end. That's the ancient writer pictured to the right in what seems like ancient days when he had time to relax and read a good book.
  • Amelia Island Writers will convene at the usual time and place—Tuesday, May 19 at 6:00 p.m. at the Florida House Inn in Fernandina Beach. Group leader Maggie deVries can give you the details:
  • We wrap up the month of FWA meetings at the Ponte Vedra Library as the FWA Ponte Vedra Writers  gather at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 23. All of us who dream of seeing our novels on the big screen should take note as John Boles, an award-winning writer, producer, director and actor will discuss "Turning Your Novel into a Screenplay." John has taught writing, film and screenwriting courses for a number of years. He also writes and produces live, interactive mysteries for his own company, Mystery Makers. 
I'll have coffee brewing, you bring the popcorn.

And more for your money
  • If you didn't get your RPLA submissions in the mail yesterday, you missed the cut-off and the entry fee has risen to $40 per submission. Remember you must be a member of FWA to enter the competition, and that the fee jumps to $50 on July 1. The deadline is July 13. Visit the FWA website for guidelines and to become a member.
  • Another reminder about the upcoming FWA anthology, From Our Family to Yours. The deadline for submissions is May 31. This is the first in a new series of collections sponsored by FWA. The theme is family and it can be fiction or non-fiction or poetry with a 1,500 word limit. Like the RPLA, you must be an FWA member to be eligible to submit. This is a great way to get your work published and sold as the books will be sold online and at the FWA bookstore and conferences. Here's the link to submission guidelines.
  • Those of you writing children's books (and there must be many in this area judging by the turnout to hear John Cech last week), you might want to check out the 2009 Moonbeam Childrens Book Awards. The new book awards program, designed to honor the best children's books, authors and illustrators, is accepting entries until August 22nd. Click on the link for guidelines and entry form.
  • UNF's Literary Magazine, Fiction Fix, is now accepting submissions for Fall 2009 for fiction and/or artwork.  Short stories, short short, or novel excerpts may be submitted, but greater consideration will be given to fiction under 3,000 words. 
  • Congratulations to Judy Weber, 1st Place winner in the Mystery category of the recent Do It Write Literary Competition. Another local winner was Linda Eadie
  • More congratulations, this time to Rodney Hurst, It Was Never About a Hot Dog and a Coke, winner of the inaugural Stetson Kennedy Award. Presented by the Florida Historical Society, the award recognized the book for its investigative research "which casts light on historical Florida events."
  • The Anhinga Writers Studio 2009 Summer Workshops, formerly the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings–Writing the Region) is set for July 29 to August 1 in Gainesville. It features Charlaine Harris, author of the popular Southern Vampire Mysteries which were turned into the HBO series, True Blood
  • Apple and iTunes has a new offering—and it's free. You can download 33 podcasts from Roy Peter Clark's book, Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, read by the author. These range from Nuts & Bolts subjects like "Begin sentences with subjects and verbs," and "Watch those adverbs," to what he terms, Blueprints like "Use dialogue as a form of action." 
That's it for now. I'll leave you with this pearl of wisdom from that great philosopher, Groucho Marx, 

"I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book."


Monday, April 13, 2009

Since these blog postings are sent out to people interested in writing, it's safe to say most of us consider ourselves writers. Or do we? When do we step over that invisible line dividing wannabe writers from honest-to-goodness writers? Is it when we decide we're writers, or when we become published? Maybe it's when someone actually pays us for our work. 
That's probably a question we all have to answer for ourselves, but if you're still waiting for your first publishing credit, you're in luck. FWA is publishing the first in a series of anthologies for FWA members. The first collection is titled From Our Family to Yours, and as the title suggests, it's all about families. These will be short stories (fiction or non-fiction), 1,500 words or less, with a family hook—good families, funny families, strange and dysfunctional families.
 Sixty of the best submissions will be selected for this first collection so get yours in right away as the deadline is May 31st. The book will be printed this fall and made available for purchase.

Some things to keep in mind: 
1. You must be an FWA member to submit and current through the fall publication of the book 
2. Submission is done electronically to
3. Authors whose stories are selected will be required to sign a release for one-time North American printing rights assigned to FWA
4. Go to this FWA website page for the complete details

Good luck with your submission. Now, let's see what our regional FWA Chapters have in store for you this month.
  • You're invited to meet Almon Gunter at the First Coast Christian Writers (FCCW) meeting this Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at Christ's Church on Greenland Road. Gunter is a life coach, motivational speaker, and a two-time Olympic Track Qualifier. He's also the author of Focus on the Final Seconds and Win the Game. FCCW, now part of FWA, meets each Thursday and is open to anyone looking to improve their writing skills. Visit FCCW online for more information.
  • River City Writers leader Darlene Myers reports that tomorrow night's meeting, Tuesday, April 14 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library located at 10599 Deerwood Park Boulevard, will cover a number of topics, including "How to Create an Instant Bestseller," and "40-Plus Ways to Make Your Next Book Signing an Event!" Contact Dar at for more information.
  • The Ancient City Writers chapter calls upon veteran thriller writer William Kerr to discuss elements of the series character at its meeting on Saturday, April 18 at 10:15 a.m. at St. Augustine's Main Library. Bill's latest Matt Berkeley action/suspense novel, Mark of the Devil, was recently released and takes the reader from Florida's northeast coast to Germany in a desperate race that could change the face of history. Bill, a retired U.S. Navy Captain, will talk about how to keep a series character fresh while deepening and developing the character through a series of books. 
  • The omnipresent speaker/author Rik Feeney returns to the First Coast to headline the Amelia Island Writers meeting on Tuesday, April 21st at 6:00 p.m. This time, Rik will be talking about how to use your book as a primary marketing tool. The group, led by Maggie Carter-de Vries, author of Amelia's Secrets, meets at the Florida House Inn, 22 3rd Street S. in Fernandina Beach. Contact Maggie for more info at
  • As Professor of English and Children's Literature at the University of Florida, John Cech directs the Center for Children's Literature & Culture. He's also an author of books for children and adults and the guest speaker at this month's Ponte Vedra Writer Chapter meeting, Saturday, April 25 at 10:30 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Library. Cech's topic: "Children's Books: Trends, Markets, Mysteries, and What's Always True." This is your chance to learn more about children's books from one of the nation's preeminent experts in the field.  
And here are a few other items of interest to area writers:
  • The North Florida Writers meets on the second Saturday of the month at 2:00 p.m. at the Webb-Wesconnett Library. 
  • The Mandarin Writers Workshop meets the second and fourth Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the S. Mandarin Library. This is a critique group and new members are welcome. Contact group leader Larry Barnes at
  • Don't forget the Royal Palm Literary Awards Competition is now accepting submissions in 23 different categories. You must be an FWA member to submit, and you can save some bucks as entry fees increase $10 after this month. Go to the website for complete guidelines.
  • The University of North Florida is launching the UNF Summer Writers Workshop, August 4 - 7, an intensive workshop modeled after the acclaimed Iowa Writers Festival. The final day, Friday, August 7, will feature a day-long series of workshops on everything from screenwriting to Internet marketing, from self-editing to character development and dialogue. With 3 tracks covering Craftsmanship, Publishing and Marketing, the mini-conference will benefit FWA and includes lunch. Look for more information to follow shortly.
  • The Florida Heritage Writers Workshop, Friday, September 11, kicks-off the 2-day Florida Heritage Book Festival in downtown St. Augustine. The workshop is held at the Casa Monica Hotel and features sessions with mystery writer Tom Cavanagh,literary agent and author Lucienne Diver, thriller writer T. J. MacGregor, award-winning journalist Shawn Bean, and many others. Early bird registration is only $50 (includes lunch), and the registration form will go up on the FHBF website soon. Speaking of the FHBF, in last year's inaugural event, they launched a new awards program called The Literary legends Awards by honoring Florida authors Stetson Kennedy, Patrick Smith and Jack Hunter. Word is out that this year's gala event will honor Harry Crews, Dr. Michael Gannon and bestselling mystery author Michael Connelly. The awards banquet is set for Thursday, August 27 at the Sawgrass Marriott Hotel in PVB. This will be a hot ticket, so check the website as ticket information will be loaded soon.
  • And finally, for those of you looking for a good book title, sorry to tell you The Art of French Kissing is already taken. But you can meet Kristin Harmel, the author of this and other "chick lit" titles on Monday, April 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the Ponte Vedra Library. A longtime reporter for People Magazine, Kristin has been called the real-life combo of Bridget Jones and Carrie Bradshaw, the Sex and the City author. She's also the book reviewer known as "The Lit Chick" on the nationally-syndicated TV show, The Daily Buzz. Among her other titles are How to Sleep with a Movie Star, The Blonde Theory, and the YA novel, When You Wish. It's free and coffee and goodies will be served.

The Pasco/New Port Richey 1-Day Writers Conference is this Sunday. Maybe a long way to go, but they also picked up on our regional book competition and work has leaked out that one of our own NE Florida members has taken the top prize in the Mystery category. Congratulations will go out as soon as it's official on Sunday, so stay tuned to see who the mystery author may be.

That's all for this blog. Let me hear from you and keep banging away.