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.