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Creative Non-Fiction (Unpublished) – Second Place, June Lands for My Self and Peggy Lee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Autobiography (Unpublished) – Second Place, Jeff Swesky, with Rabbi Samuel Cywiak for Flight from Fear
Short Story (Unpublished) – Second Place, Victor DiGenti, for Saving Sam
Short Story (Unpublished) – First Place, Mary Bridgman, for Snakes Alive
Flash Fiction (Unpublished) – First Place, June Lands, for The Leaving
YA (Unpublished) – First Place, Ellen Thornton, for The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis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Mystery (Unpublished) – Honorable Mention, Judy Weber, for No Good Deed
Mystery (Unpublished) – First Place, Victor DiGenti, for Matanzas Bay
Historical Fiction (Unpublished‚ – First Place, Dan Dundon, for The Shanghai Madonna
Book of the Year (Unpublished) – Matanzas Bay by Victor DiGenti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."