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