Thursday, December 09, 2010

Holiday Happenings

Even though December is crammed with social activities, holiday shopping and family visits, there are still FWA meetings planned and upcoming events for writers. Let's take a quick look at some of them.

  • As usual, the First Coast Christian Writers meet each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at Christ's Church on Greenland Road. Contact Tracy Redman at for details.
  • River City Writers meet Tuesday, December 14 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library. It's rumored that Jennifer Swanson is the speaker. Group leader Gregg Golson has the details,
  • Clay County Writers Group leader Maureen Jung is the presenter for this month's meeting, Wednesday, December 15 at 6:15 p.m. at the Fleming Island Library. Maureen's topic is "The Reader Profile: Who Reads, How They Read, and What it Means for Writers." Sounds like a good one. Email Maureen at
  • Amelia Island Writers will not be meeting this month.
  • Award-winning author Elizabeth Sinclair will present her "First Chapters" workshop at this month's meeting of Ancient City Writers, Saturday, December 18 at 10:15 a.m. at St. Augustine's Main Library. Elizabeth is the author of 20 romance, romantic suspense,and paranormal romances, including Baptism By Fire, which won the 2007 National Reader Choice Award for best Romantic Suspense novel. In the workshop you'll learn about inciting incidents, how to hook the reader, and whether your story needs a prologue, among others things.
  • And because the Ponte Vedra Writers regular meeting date falls on Christmas Day, we'll take another vacation and urge area writers to attend one of the other group meetings. But the Ponte Vedra Writers return in January with a special program TBA.
  • Award-winning author Joyce Sweeney, and Woodstream Writers director, Jamie Morris, present an intensive 3-day workshop titled, "The Next Level: Creating Scene & Building Structure," February 4 - 6. The workshop will be held in the St. Augustine home of Linda Eadie, and includes snacks and dinner on Friday, breakfast and lunch on Saturday and Sunday. For details, contact Jamie at 407-644-5163, or email her at
  • The Amelia Island Book Festival is planned for February 18 & 19 at various locations on the island. The Friday workshops will again be held at the Betty P. Cook Nassau Center of Florida State College. Workshop leaders include Bob Morris, Laura Castoro, Daniel Schafer, Laura Hope-Gill, Vic DiGenti, and more. A special fundraising author's reception will be held that evening at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation featuring food, jazz, and a keynote by New York Times bestselling author, Jamie Ford, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Call 904-652-1665 for information on the reception. Saturday's free signings and workshops return to the campus of St. Peter's Episcopal Church. The Author's Luncheon is on Saturday with keynote talk by bestselling author, Rick Bragg.
  • The Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America knows how to throw a great conference. If you haven't been to Sleuthfest, then check out the website for all the details of the 2011 conference, March 3 - 6 in Deerfield Beach, FL. Guests of honor are Dennis Lehane, Meg Gardiner and SJ Rozan. BTW, they'll have a movie night, showing Gone, Baby, Gone, with author Lehane there to talk about the book and the movie.

Until next time, best wishes for a happy holiday season.


Victor DiGenti
Regional Director

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Post Conference Post

The writers of NE Florida showed why we lead the state in so many ways at the Royal Palm Literary Awards banquet last month. We came home with a total of 21 awards, including the Book of the Year/Unpublished. If you missed the FWA Conference, you missed a good one. A total of 420 writers from several states registered for the workshops, at least 100 more than last year, and/or the banquet during the long weekend of craft workshops, agent and publisher pitch sessions, and numerous networking opportunities.

Jacksonville author Heather Nickodem took first place in the Romance Novel/Unpublished category with her manuscript, Red Sky At Night. She then went on to grab Book of the Year honors after accumulating the most points from the judges. This is the second year in a row that a NE Florida writer has captured this honor.

Pictured above are some of the NE Florida winners on hand at the banquet to pick-up their awards. From left to right: Susan Brandenburg, Vic DiGenti, David Lafayette, Hank Racer and Michael King. In front are Karen Harvey and Nancy Quatrano.

Congratulations to all the winners from NE Florida:

Humor / Satire [Fiction] (Unpublished)


Vampire ... Control ... White House by David P. Lafayette – St. Augustine

Inspirational Romance (Unpublished)


Breathless by Kathryn J. Bain – Jacksonville

Elementary / Middle-Grade Fiction (Published)


The River Rats—Riddle Me a Mystery by Hank Racer – Orange Park

Short Story (Published)


The Day Hemingway Died by Victor DiGenti – Ponte Vedra Beach

Short Story (Unpublished)


Blind Faith by Marie Vernon – St. Augustine

Humor / Satire (Published)


Motherhood Is Easy ... As Long as You Have Nothing Else to do for the Next 50 Years by Rebekah Hunter Scott – St. Augustine

Essay (Published)


The Silver Lining by Mary W. Bridgman – Jacksonville

Mystery (Unpublished)


Murder in Black and White by N.L. Quatrano – St. Augustine

Romance (Unpublished)


Red Sky at Night by Heather Nickodem – Jacksonville

Flash Fiction (Unpublished)


To Go by June Lands – Ponte Vedra Beach

Biography (Published)


Sharecropper’s Son—the Story of Doc Garland Granger by Susan D. Brandenburg & Doc Garland Granger Ponte Vedra Beach

Educational / Informational (Unpublished)


Loose Change, Simple Ideas That Can Support Your Family by Michael Lee, PhD ­­Jacksonville

History (Published)


St. Augustine Enters the Twenty-First Century by Karen G. Harvey & contributors – St. Augustine

Essay (Unpublished)


Unprincipled Antipathy by Muriel McKinlay – St. Augustine

Children’s Picture Books (Unpublished)


PARIS ABCs: A Photographic Sampler by Margo L. Hill Atlantic Beach


Abigail and the Vanishing Clothes by Margo L. Hill Atlantic Beach

Short Story (Unpublished)


Fast Time, Slow Time by Luke Francis GeorgettePonte Vedra Beach

Creative Nonfiction (Unpublished)


I Used to Believe by Olivia BissellPonte Vedra Beach

Women’s Fiction (Unpublished)


Once by Melissa KosciuszkoFleming Island

Young Adult (Published)


Bad Lattitude—A Jack Rackham Adventure by David EbrightSt. Augustine


Red Sky at Night by Heather Nickodem (Romance)

Additionally, Michael Ray King, who recently moved from St. Augustine's Ancient City Writers chapter to help form the new Palm Coast writer's group, won First Place in the Short Story/Unpublished, plus a First and Second Place in the Poetry category.

All in all, a great way to cap off an excellent conference.

Here's what's happening at November's FWA chapter meetings:
  • The First Coast Christian Writers meets each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at Christ's Church on Greenland Road. Contact Tracy Redman at for details.
  • River City Writers will meet on Tuesday, November 9 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library off Gate Parkway on Deerwood Park Blvd. Group leader Gregg Golson reports that cookbook writer Belinda Hulin is this month's speaker. Belinda is the former food editor for The Florida Times-Union and knows her business. if you want to learn how to make a living writing about food, want to publish a cookbook, or just like to eat, then don't miss this meeting. Gregg can be reached at
  • The Amelia Island Writers meet on the third Tuesday of the month, November 16, at 6:00 p.m. at Books Plus on Centre Street. Maggie deVries is store proprietor and group leader. Contact her at 321-6180.
  • The Clay County Writers return to their home base at the Fleming Island Library for the Wednesday, November 17 meeting, which starts at 6:15 p.m. FWA member and author Jack Owen will speak on the future of "dead tree" books and the implications of the digital age on publishing. Email group leader Maureen Jung at with any questions.
  • Due to the Thanksgiving holidays, there will be no meeting of the Ponte Vedra Writers this month, but you can double down as the Ponte Vedra and Ancient City Writers chapters combine for a special meeting on Saturday, November 20 at 10:15 a.m. at St. Augustine's Main Library. The program is a panel discussion on "Publishing in 2010." If you're curious about the various publishing options available today—and there are many—you'll hear from publishers and authors about the changes in the publishing industry. Appearing on the panel are publishers Mike King and Bill Reynolds, fantasy author Tim Robinson, who published through Xlibris, Brad West of Barnes & Noble's new publishing technology to discuss ebook formats, and author Jack Owen will compare the print version of his book, Palm Beach Scandals to today's electronic versions. Vic DiGenti moderates and will talk about small independent presses like Ocean Publishing, which published his Windrusher series.

In other news
  • The 6th Annual Other Words: A Conference of Literary Magazines, Independent Publishers, and Writers will be held at Flagler College this weekend, November 4 - 6. Click here for more information.
  • The Florida Sisters in Crime chapter will hear from the Emergency 9-1-1 coordinator at their meeting on Saturday, November 6 at 10:30 a.m. at the SE Regional Branch Library, 10599 Deerwood Park Blvd. Contact Kathy Bain,, for more information.
  • Poet Annie Finch will appear at Jacksonville Main Library, 303 N. Laura Street, on Tuesday, November 9 at 6:30 p.m. Finch is the author of 15 books of poetry, translation and criticism, and the winner of the 2009 Robert Fitzgerald Award.
  • North Florida Writers will meet at the Historic Grounds Bookstore, 420 Walnut Street in Green Cove Springs on Saturday, November 13 at 2:00 p.m. for a critique session.
  • First Coast Romance Writers meet Saturday, November 13 at the West Regional Library on Chaffee Road. Award-winnning author Linnea Sinclair will present a pair of workshops, "Writing the Deep Third Person POV" at 10:30 a.m., and "Pissing Off Editors: Or How Not to Get Published," at 1:00 p.m.
  • The Scribblers Retreat Writers' Conference, November 11-13, features Diana Gabaldon, Adam Davies, Karen White and more. Visit the website for details.
  • If you missed my Novel in a Day full day workshop at the FWA Conference, you can register for the next one on Saturday, December 4 at the University of North Florida. There are also a number of other classes in creative writing and screenwriting. Visit the UNF Continuing Education Learn Jacksonville site for class schedules and registration details.
  • Click here to view hundreds of photos from the FWA Conference taken by FWA's "Official Photographer" Karen Lieb.
  • And speaking of FWA, did you know you could purchase ads on the FWA Network at very reasonable prices—only $40 for FWA members for six month and $60 for non-members. And if you're not signed on as a member of the FWA Network you should be. Scroll down and click on the Ad Rate bar along the right side for more details. This is a good way to get out information about your new book or event.
That's it until next month. Keep your hopes up for good things to happen and they will.


Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Conference Notes & Morel

Time is growing short to register for the 7th Annual Florida Writers Conference — October 22 - 24 at the Orlando Marriott - Lake Mary. Aside from the many workshops, pitch sessions and the RPLA Banquet, don't forget about the Foundation Fundraiser Day with five excellent full-day workshops to choose from, including my Novel In A Day workshop. There's still time to register for both the Foundation Fundraiser Day on Thursday, October 21, and the full conference. The above link will take you to the FWA home page. Scroll down from there to find links to the conference and the Fundraiser Day.

This is a good way to find out if your manuscript is ready for prime time by pitching one of the many agents or acquisition editors available at the conference. You'll find the full list online, but here are a few of the many agents and editors to choose from:

Janell W. Agyeman Marie Brown Associates Literary Services – Adult Nonfiction, Health and Wellness, African American, Latino or African Diaspora History, Cultural Topics, Family and Child Development, Memoirs, Biography, Young Adult Fiction, Middle Grade Fiction (no vampires), Historical Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Series Titles
Robert Brown Wylie-Merrick Literary Agency – Cozies, Contemporary and Paranormal Romance, Romantic Suspense, New Adult Fiction
Amy Burkhardt Kimberly Cameron & Associates – Fiction, Nonfiction, Women’s Fiction, Mysteries, Historical Fiction, Narrative Nonfiction, Memoirs, Lifestyle, Humor, Food, Current Events, Human Nature
Mary Kole Andrea Brown Literary Agency – Young Adult, Middle Grade, Picture Books (No High Fantasy, Sci Fi, Thrillers, or Horror)
Sharene Martin Brown Wylie Merrick Literary Agency – Woman’s, Erotica, Romance, GLBT
Rebecca Melvin Double Edge Press – Christian Themes, Fiction, Nonfiction
Kirsten Neuhaus Kirsten Neuhaus Literary – Narrative Nonfiction, Current Events, International Affairs, Cultural Studies, Strong Female Protagonists, Well-written Fiction
Mary Sue Seymour The Seymour Agency – Historical Romance, Contemporary Romance, Romance Suspense, Paranormal Romance, Regency Romance, Inspirational Romance

The Royal Palm Literary Awards competition always provides an extra shot of adrenaline as we hear the winners in the various categories. Historically, there have been numerous winners from our part of the state. If you're attending the conference, let's put together a couple of NE Florida tables to cheer on our fellow writers. See you there.

FWA Chapter Meetings for October:
  • The First Coast Christian Writers, an affiliate of FWA, meets each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at Christ's Church on Greenland Road. Contact Tracy Redman at for details.
  • River City Writers meets on Tuesday, October 12 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Branch Library off Gate Parkway on Deerwood Park Blvd. in Jacksonville. Gregg Golson,, has the details.
  • Head to St. Augustine for the Saturday, October 16 meeting of Ancient City Writers, 10:15 a.m. at the city's Main Library on Ponce de Leon Blvd. Author Nancy Quatrano will lead an interactive workshop titled, "Write It Short–Write It Tight." Nancy, who is one of the coordinators for the Ancient City chapter, has published many short fiction pieces in various magazines and anthologies since 1999. She says the program is "geared to empower all writers, regardless of genre, to understand and employ the techniques of writing tight as they might apply to their work. Several notable novelists agree, they write much better novels because they learned to master the craft of writing short, first."
  • The Amelia Island Writers will meet at Books Plus in Fernandina Beach on Tuesday, October 19 at 6:00 p.m. Call chapter leader Maggie deVries at 321-6180 for more information.
  • This month's early voting takes place in many of the branch libraries, affecting the meeting space for several of our chapters. This applies to the Clay County Writers whose meeting on Wednesday, October 20 at 6:30 p.m. has been moved from the Fleming Island Library to McAlister’s Deli, 1615 County Road 220, behind O'Charley's Restaurant in Fleming Island, not far from the library. Chapter leader Maureen Jung, Maureen Jung,, has a special guest speaker this month. He's psychologist Matthew Barrett who will speak on, “Creative Writing for Writers and Storytellers: Brain-based strategies for story-building.” Sounds like a winning combination — a good craft talk and a hot pastrami sandwich.
  • The October 23 meeting of the Ponte Vedra Writers has been cancelled since it falls on the weekend of the FWA Conference. It didn't help that the county booted us out of our meeting room for early voting, and with no deli around the corner, it seemed best to cancel. Take advantage of any of the other meetings taking place this month.
Other Meetings & Events for Area Writers:
  • Author Elizabeth Sinclair will do a hands-on workshop on GMC (Goal, Motivation, Conflict) for the Ancient City Romance Writers, Saturday, October 23 from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the SE Regional Branch Library. Guests are welcome. Visit the website for details.
  • Deadline for the First Coast Romance Writers 2010 Unpublished Beacon Contest is this Friday, October, 8. The first 30 pages are required with an optional synopsis. Click here for all the details.
  • The Society for Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) holds its monthly meeting on Saturday, October 16 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Library in Deerwood. Chapter president Janet Walter calls this one a "Meet, Greet & Critique." Bring samples of your work to read aloud. Contact Janet at
  • Bestselling author Michael Connelly headlines the Alachua County Library District Foundation Author Gala on Sunday, November 7 at 5:00 p.m. at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center in Gainesville. If you missed seeing Connelly at last year's Literary Legends Awards banquet, here's your chance.
  • Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series, is among the line-up of speakers at the Scribblers' Retreat & Writer's Conference, November 11-13 at the Oceanfront King & Prince Resort on St. Simon's Island.
  • The 2011 Eckerd College Writer's Conference: Writers in Paradise, is set for January 15-23 with a faculty of bestselling authors including Dennis Lehane, Richard Russo, and Michael Koryta.
  • The Tampa Writer's Alliance has issued a call for entries for it's annual Writer's Contest. This is a good way to practice for the next RPLA Competition as they are accepting entries through October 31 in 18 categories.
  • Frank Green continues with the area's longest-running critique session with his weekly hosting of the Bard Society. Contact Frank at
  • The University of North Florida's Continuing Education Department has a number of excellent writing courses scheduled as part of its Learn Jacksonville program. These include Advanced Memoir Writing with Thelma Young, several screenwriting courses with Sharon Y. Cobb, John Boles' Creative Writing workshops, and my newest workshop, Creative Writing: From Manuscript to Publication. For course details, click on the above link then click on View Current Courses to see the entire schedule of classes.

That's it for now. Make your plans to attend one of listed meetings, and maybe I'll see you at the FWA Writer's Conference.

All the best,


Victor DiGenti
Regional Director

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Labor Day Labors

Most of us have plans for this Labor Day weekend. And most of us will head for the beach or the mountains. Wish I was joining you, but we're having company and I'll spend today cleaning house and getting the yard in order. Consequently, this post will necessarily be brief. Just the essentials.

FWA Chapter Meetings for September
  • First Coast Christian Writers, an affiliate of FWA, meets each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at Christ's Church on Greenland Road. Contact Tracy Redman for details,
  • River City Writers meets on Tuesday, September 14 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Branch Library off Gate Parkway and Deerwood Blvd. in Jacksonville. Gregg Golson has the meeting info,
  • Clay County Writers are back at their regular Fleming Island digs, meeting on Wednesday, September 15 at 6:15 p.m. Speaker Carol O'Dell will bring her branding talk to the group, presenting "Creating YOU the Brand: How to Market with Brains, Heart and Courage." If you missed Carol at last month's Ponte Vedra Writers meeting, don't miss her this time. Contact group leader Maureen Jung, for more details.
  • Ancient City Writers meet Saturday, September 18 at 10:15 a.m. at St. Augustine's Main Library. The husband and wife true crime writing team, Marie and Mac Vernon, authors of Deadly Lust and Deadly Charm, will present, "How to Research and Write for the True Crime Market."
  • High Pitched Hum publisher, W. G. "Bill" Reynolds, holds forth at the Amelia Island Writers meeting on Tuesday, September 21 at 6:00 p.m. at Books Plus in Fernandina Beach. Bill's topic is "How to Get Published in Today's Market." Contact bookstore owner and group leader Maggie deVries, at 321-6180.
  • And we end the month of FWA chapter meetings in beautiful downtown Ponte Vedra Beach where laid back writers will meet on Saturday, September 25 at 10:15 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Library. Their mission, to absorb a craft lesson about the structure of a scene. Since the scene is the essential building block of the novel, this is an important lesson, but group leader Vic DiGenti, who will give the presentation, promises a fast-paced, interactive workshop. See you there.
In other news
  • The Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators, SCBWI, meets on September 18 at 1:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Library. Middle grade English teacher Zara Hunt will discuss "Reading Levels." The group will have a critique session in the second hour, and group leader Janet Walter suggests bringing no more than 5 pages of a novel in progress to read aloud if you want to participate. Contact Janet at
  • The Ancient City Romance Writers hold their 2010 Fiction Writers Boot Camp on Saturday, September 25 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Author Patricia Potter and agent Joyce Holland are the speakers. Visit the website to register.
  • John Kremer, author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Book, will keynote the Florida Publishers Association 2010 Publishing Ed-U-Conference on October 9 at the Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel on Lido Beach in Sarasota. Click here for details.
  • The SE Chapter of Mystery Writers of America presents Polish to Publish, October 1- 3, at Honey Creek in Waverly, GA. The conference features a keynote by SF author Jack McDevitt, and workshops by Holly McClure, Maggie Toussaint, and Charlotte Babb. Visit the website for registration details.

That's it for now. Enjoy the holiday and be sure to use sunscreen.


Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Go for the Gold!

You may have missed the UNF Writers Conference last weekend, but there's still time to register for the 9th Annual Florida Writers Conference, October 22 - 24 in Lake Mary, FL. But hurry, the registration fee increases on September 22nd. It's one of the biggest and best conferences anywhere, filled with targeted workshops designed to make you a better writer, motivate you and help you get published. Aside from the many educational sessions, you have the chance to pitch your work to agents, editors and publishers, attend the Royal Palm Literary Awards banquet, and much more. If you intend to register for the conference, I'd encourage you to also register for one of the Pre-Conference Full Day Workshops. Five comprehensive workshops are offered, including my own Novel in a Day workshop, plus others covering screenwriting, how to query and pitch an agent, and marketing and promotion. Click on the link for more information.

Here's what's happening at the six NE Florida FWA chapters during the month of August. And remember, the meetings are open to members and non-members alike, but if you find yourself returning on a regular basis, we expect you to join FWA. The benefits are many, and the price is low.
  • First Coast Christian Writers, an affiliate of FWA, meets each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at Christ's Church at 6045 Greenland Road. Contact leader Tracy Redman, for details.
  • Yesterday's meeting of River City Writers was cancelled because their room at the SE Regional Library is used as a polling place for Duval County elections. The next meeting will be Tuesday, September 14 at 7:00 p.m. Email Gregg Golson, for more information.
  • The Amelia Island Writers meets on Tuesday, August 17 at 6:00 p.m. at Books Plus on Centre Street. Group leader Maggie de Vries,, will lead a writing workshop.
  • The Clay County Writers have been chased from their Fleming Island Library home base, but will set up shop at McAlister's Deli, 1615 County Road 220, on Wednesday, August 18 at 6:30 p.m. Chapter member Joe Kerrigan, author of Greed, and leader of the chapter's fiction critique group, will speak on "The Inside Scoop on E-Publishing." Contact group leader Maureen Jung for details,
  • Wondering how to get your book reviewed? This month's Ancient City Writers featured speaker, Gary Roen, wears many hats, including syndicated book reviewer, literary agent and author. He'll provide insights into the review process, as well as give some tips about the mistakes writers make when trying to get published. Roen will speak on Saturday, August 21 at 10:15 a.m. at St. Augustine's Main Library.
  • As usual, the Ponte Vedra Writers conclude the month of meetings with a valuable session for all writers, published or not. The group meets on Saturday,August 28 at 10:30 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Library, and will hear from Carol O'Dell. Carol is an inspirational speaker, writing teacher and the author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter's Humorous & Heartbreaking Memoir. Carol's topic is "Create Your Author Presence." We know agents and publishers are looking for more than a good book. They want authors with a platform, authors who can command a room when they speak, and know their way around social marketing skills. Carol will tell us how to build our platform, raise our professional bar and gain the attention of the publishing world.
More Writerly Happenings:
  • Mark your calendar for the 3rd Annual Florida Heritage Book Festival, September 24 - 25 in historic St. Augustine. It kicks off the morning of the 24th with a series of writer's workshops at the Casa Monica Hotel. The workshops are led by a stellar cast of professionals including, Larry Baker, The Flamingo Rising, Robert Macomber, At the Edge of Honor, Karen Brown, Grace Paley Prize winner for her short story collection, Pins and Needles, and William McKeen, Outlaw Journalist, among others. Visit the website for registration details. And be sure to sign up for the Literary Legends Awards Banquet that evening at World Golf Village Renaissance Resort when the festival honors acclaimed Florida author, Carl Hiaasen. Prices increase on September 10, so register now. Saturday, September 25, will kickoff with a talk by Hiaasen, followed by a day of author talks, panel discussions and poetry workshops. All Saturday sessions are free.
  • The FWA Network is a social networking site exclusively for FWA members. On the site, you'll find chat groups for the various genres, blogs, a listing of events for writers, and now, ads. If you have a service or product, including your book, you'd like to advertise to your fellow writers, this is the place to do it. Members and non-members alike are eligible to purchase ads, though non-members pay a higher fee. Visit the site and you'll find the ad information in the right column. And if you're an FWA member, but haven't signed up for the FWA Network, this is as good a time as any.
  • And speaking of FWA, the organization has begun an editing service for FWA members only, charging only $29 up to 1,500 words. If you're interested or want to learn more, contact Editing Services Coordinator Kaye Coopersmith, at, or call 813-920-7144
  • This month's meeting of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI), Saturday, August 21 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Regional Library, will feature a discussion about working with agents. Contact Janet Walter,, for details.
  • The Scribbler's Retreat Writer's Conference, August 12 - 14, at the King & Prince Beach Resort on St. Simon's Island, features a keynote talk by none other than Steve Berry. Other speakers include Jonathan Rabb, Haywood Smith, and Vincent Coppolla.
  • The Ancient City Romance Authors present Fiction Writers Boot Camp for Published and Unpublished Authors, Saturday, September 25 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel (Jax Airport) in Jacksonville. Visit the site for details.
  • Last week, the technology site, ReadWriteWeb, had an article listing 5 reasons to read your next book on an e-reader. This week, we hear from the other side with "5 Ways That Paper Books Are Better Than eBooks."
Finally, if you ever wondered if your style of writing is similar to any famous writer's, you might want to try your hand at I Write Like. I wouldn't put too much stock in the results, though as they are highly suspect, and sometimes downright laughable. But we all need a few laughs, now and then.

Enjoy the remainder of your summer, and keep writing.


Victor DiGenti, FWA Regional Director

    Wednesday, July 07, 2010

    No Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer for Writers

    Tempted to find a cool place, a cool drink, and relax with a good book? Not a bad idea during these summer days, but look what you'd be missing. FWA meetings continue unabated during the summer. The UNF Writers Conference is right around the corner. As is the Florida Heritage Book Festival, and the 9th Annual FWA Conference. And we all have some writing to do, don't we?

    Still, there's always time to read a good book. In between, check out these happenings:
    • First Coast Christian Writers meets each Thursday at 6:45 p..m. in room 513 of Christ's Church at 6045 Greenland Road in Jacksonville. Contact president Tracy Redman,, for more information.
    • The next meeting of River City Writers is Tuesday, July 13 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library, 10599 Deerwood Park Blvd. in Jacksonville. Gregg Golson,, who leads the group, will present a program on the use of transitions, providing examples from a wide range of classic and contemporary fiction.
    • Learn about developing fully-rounded characters at the Ancient City Writers group meeting, Saturday, July 17 at 10:15 a.m. at St. Augustine's Main Library, 1960 N. Ponce de Leon Blvd. Award-winning writer, producer, actor and writing coach, John Boles, tells us that it doesn't matter if you're writing fiction or non-fiction, every story is populated by characters. John will show us how to make your characters into living, breathing, and believable three-dimensional story people. BTW, longtime Ancient City Writers member and co-leader Jeff Swesky is helpingto launch a new FWA chapter in Palm Coast. The Palm Coast Writers group will begin in the next few months under the guidance of Jeff and Mike King.
    • The Amelia Island Writers meet on the third Tuesday of each month, July 20, at 6:00 p.m. at Books Plus, 107 Centre Street in Fernandina Beach. Group Leader and Books Plus proprietor, Maggie de Vries, reports that this month's speaker is Arliss Ryan, author of The Secret Confessions of Anne Shakespeare. As the author of two historical novels, The Kingsley House was her first one, Arliss has learned a lot about research. She shares her knowledge in this presentation, "How to Research and Write the Historical Novel." Besides her novels, Arliss has had her short stories published in more than 20 literary magazines. On a sad note, Maggie reports that longtime Amelia Island Writers member, Ray Madden, lost his battle with cancer recently. Our deepest sympathies go out to Ray's family on behalf of FWA.
    • The Clay County Writers have a busy month with back-to-back meetings on July 21 and July 22. The group meets at the Fleming Island Library, 1895 Town Center Blvd. inOrange Park at 6:15 p.m. On Wednesday, July 21, meet the writing duo of Marie and Mac Vernon, the husband and wife authors of two true crime books, their latest being Deadly Charms. They will talk about the pros and cons of working with a collaborator. And the next night in a special Meet the Author library program, Arliss Ryan repeats her presentation on "Researching and Writing the Historical Novel." Contact group leader Maureen Jung,, for more information.
    • As always, the final FWA chapter meeting of the month can be found at the Ponte Vedra Library onSaturday, July 24. The group meets at 10:30 a.m. and will hear from science-fiction author Chris Berman. Chris has been a SF fan his entire life, growing up on the works of Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and many others. The SF fantasy transformed itself into a love of science and astronomy. Chris even learned how to grind his own mirrors and lenses for his telescopes. He turned that fascination into a series of SF books starting with The Hive in 2009, which he wrote while recovering from an accident. This was followed by Red Moon, and his third novel, Star Pirates, is due to be released in the fall. Chris will talk about how he used current and historical scientific fact to weave a sense of realism and excitement into his books.
    More news for writers:
    • Aside from registering for the Annual FWA Conference, October 22 - 24 in Lake Mary, FL, you should also sign up for one of the pre-conference full-day workshops sponsored by the Florida Writers Foundation. The Foundation is a separate non-profit corporation established by FWA to promote literacy and enhance the writing skills of both children and adults. You may select from any of five excellent workshops, including "Warrior Writer" with Bob Mayer; "From Query to Pitch" with Molli Nickell; "Screenwriting: From Idea to Big Screen" with AJ Robinson, Chantelle Osman and John Castellano; "Novel in a Day" with Vic DiGenti; and "How andWhy to Use Social Networking Tools" with Mary Ann de Stefano and Chris Hamilton. Click on the link above for complete details on the workshops and registration, which comes with two snack breaks and lunch.
    • And speaking of the FWA Conference, one of the highlights each year is the Royal Palm Literary Awards Banquet on Saturday night. There are a number of NE Florida writers who are finalists again this year. We try to make a point of sitting together for the banquet, so look for us at the table with the loudest cheering section. And time is running out to enter the competition. The deadline is July 26.
    • The 2nd Annual UNF Writers Conference, produced in association with FWA, is filling up rapidly. The General Fiction Critique Workshops have added a fourth faculty member to accommodate the overflow. She is Sandra McDonald, who is also giving a Friday workshop titled, "7-7-7: 7 Skills, 7 Exercises, 7 Minutes. The conference runs August 6 - 8 and begins with Steve Berry's presentation, "What Every Writer Should Know," to kick off a full day of Friday workshops. Berry, pictured at left, is a mainstay on the NY Times bestseller list. Award-winning YA author Adrian Fogelin is the luncheon keynoter, and the day ends with a wine and cheese reception and author signings. And that's only the first day. On Saturday and Sunday, conferees will be part of intensive critique workshops where they will receive feedback on the first ten pages of their manuscripts. The workshops cover General Fiction with faculty members James Wilson, Sohrab Fracis, Vic DiGenti, and Sandra Mcdonald. Non Fiction, Carol O'Dell, Young Adult, Kristin Harmel, Children's Books, Frances Keiser, Memoir/Oral History, Thelma Young, and Screenwriting, John Boles. You may register for the full conference or Friday only. The full conference includes lunch each day and the opportunity to submit a pitch for the Book & Film Deal Connection, a unique way to reach agents, editors and film agents and producers. Last year's Pitch Book resulted in over 50 requests for work from the participating writers. Check out all the details by clicking on the link above, but hurry, the registration deadline is July 16.
    • The Ancient City Romance Writers is now meeting at the SE Branch Library in Jacksonville, The next meeting is Saturday, July 24 at 12:30 p.m. and features author Sandra Madden speaking on, "New Paths to Publishing." Visit their website for more information.
    • Sisters in Crime's Jacksonville chapter welcomes mystery writer Elaine Viets for a special workshop on Saturday August 7 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Elaine will be talking about "Character, Catching and Keeping an Agent."
    • The Literary Legends Awards honors acclaimed Florida author Carl Hiassen, right, at a banquet set for Friday, September 24 at the Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village. The cost for the event is $60 per person through September 10. Late registration is $75. Proceeds from the dinner and silent auction benefit the free Florida Heritage Book Festival's full day of author talks and programs on September 25. Visit the website for details, and while you're there, check out the line-up for the Friday workshops at the Casa Monica Hotel. Select from nine outstanding workshops by noted authors like Larry Baker, Robert Macomber and Bill McKeen, lunch and signings for only $50—$65 after September 11, and $85 at the door.
    • North Florida Writers meet on the second Saturday of every month at 2:00 p.m. at the Webb-Wesconett Regional Library, 103rd Street near I-295. Their July 10 and August 14 meetings will focus solely on critiques. Contact Howard Denson for details,
    • SCBWI Jacksonville leader, Janet Walter,, announces this month's meeting, Saturday, July 17 at 1:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Library, will be a "Meet, Greet & Critique." Bring your picture book or sample pages from your MG or YA novel to share.
    Until we meet face to face at a conference or FWA group meeting, I'll leave you with these words of wisdom,

    "And I think what I've always recognized about writing is that I don't put much value in so-called inspiration. The value is in how many times you can redo something." ~ John Irving, National Book Award Interview, June 3, 2005

    All the best,


    Victor DiGenti, FWA Regional Director

    Friday, June 04, 2010

    Lawn Cuttings & Procrastination

    The deal I made with my wife is that I'll mow the lawn each week after I've written at least twenty pages. My goal is five pages a day, so I should be able to cut it every four days, but if I wait much longer, the neighbors will hold a candlelight vigil thinking I've passed away.
    Some weeks are like that. Old Mr. Procrastination struts in and pulls me away to check my email or read the blogs of all the Lost fans wondering why they wasted six years following those goofballs around that island. Before I know it, the day is gone and the lawn has grown another inch.
    What about you? Hopefully, you don't fall into the same trap and you're at home pounding out the pages on your first draft or revising and rewriting. If that's the case, you deserve a break, so read this month's post and see what's happening at the various FWA meetings and up-coming events for writers.
    • First Coast Christian Writers, an affiliate of FWA, meets each Thursday night at 6:45 p.m. in room 513 of Christ's Church on Greenland Road. Contact Tracy Redman for more information,
    • River City Writers meets Tuesday, June 8 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library, 10599 Deerwood Park Blvd. in Jacksonville. Yours truly is the speaker this month and I have a new presentation that should be of interest to many writers. I call it, "The Revisionist Warrior: Battle Plans for Attacking the Revision Process." In my talk, I'll present two strategies to help make the revision process more efficient and productive. Gregg Golson is the chapter leader and can be reached at
    • Amelia Island Writers meets on the third Tuesday of the month, June 15, at 6:00 p.m. at Books Plus on Centre Street in Fernandina Beach. Guest speaker this month is James Weinsier, 2nd place winner in the 2009 RPLA children's division for his book, Where Do we Go? Contact Maggie deVries for details at
    • Clay County Writers meets Wednesday, June 16 at 6:15 p.m. at the Fleming Island Library. Contact Maureen Jung for more information,
    • Ancient City Writers chapter will meet on Saturday, June 19 at 10:15 a.m. at St. Augustine's Main Library, 1960 Ponce de Leon Blvd. Kent Holloway, managing editor of the recently founded Seven Realms Publishing, will talk about the new publishing venture, and answer questions about submission guidelines, genres, etc. Following the meeting, Kent and his partner, Kelly Boulos, will meet with anyone who wants to pitch their book one-on-one. Have a synopsis and first chapter with you. But you must register in advance by emailing Dianne Ell at
    • We round out the month, as always, with the Ponte Vedra Writers meeting at the Ponte Vedra Library on Saturday, June 26 at 10:30 a.m. You'll have an opportunity to meet Bobbi de Cordova-Hanks and her husband Jerry Hanks, two longtime Jacksonville journalists who turned a near-tragedy into an opportunity to tour the country as speakers and authors. They'll share the various paths they took to help them promote Tears of Joy, their book about cancer survivorship and caregiving. Sometimes we may ask ourselves, "So, I've written a book, what now?" Bobbi and Jerry will provide some unique answers for you.
    Other Happenings
    • The Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) meets Saturday, June 19 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Library. They'll here from children's author, Annette Simon. Contact Janet Walter for more information,
    • Don't forget to register for FWA's 9th annual conference, "Go for the Gold," October 22-24. They've increased the number of agents and publishers attending, and offer 30 workshops covering topics ranging from "You're Never Too Old to Become a Writer," to "Why Did You Reject Me?" The Saturday evening banquet will reveal winners of this year's RPLA competition along with keynote speaker, Carlos D'Este, award-winning biographer of Gen. George Patton, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Winston Churchill. Review the schedule and register online before the registration fees increase on July 31.
    • Looking for exposure for your books? Here are two opportunities: The Historic Grounds Books & Gifts in Green Cove Springs is hosting local authors the second Saturday of the month. Manager Heather Harley-Davidson asks the author to provide wine and cheese, and offers to split the proceeds 50/50. Interested, contact Heather at Meade Coplan is coordinating "Lagniappe" for the City of Atlantic Beach. Held in conjunction with the monthly Art Walk on the third Thursday of the month, Lagniappe combines a variety show with a show and tell at the Adele Grage Cultural Center. The program will give 6 presenters 10 minutes to perform or talk about the subject of their choice. Meade is looking for authors to come and talk about their books and sell them as well. This month's schedule on June 17 from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m., includes authors Rudell Kopp and Vic DiGenti. Come out and enjoy the show and cheer us on. If you're interested, contact Meade at 242-0952.
    • The early bird deadline for the UNF Writers Conference has been extended to June 15. Hurry and save $50 when you register before the deadline. The conference is launched with a dynamic day of writers' workshops on Friday, August 6, starting with a general session by Steve Berry on "What Every Writer Should Know." Others presenters include Carol O'Dell, Sharon Cobb, Adrian Fogelin, Darrell House, Sandra McDonald and John Byram. The conference continues on Saturday and Sunday with intensive critique workshops covering general fiction, YA, children's books, non-fiction, memoir/oral history, and screenwriting. The faculty includes, James M. Wilson, Sohrab Homi Fracis, and Victor DiGenti for Fiction; Kristin Harmel, YA; Frances Keiser, Children's' Books; Thelma Young for Memoir/Oral History; and John Boles, Screenwriting. Register for the entire conference or Friday only.
    • The 3rd annual Florida Heritage Book Festival is scheduled for September 24 & 25, kicking off with writer's workshops on Friday at the Casa Monica Hotel in St. Augustine. The festival moves to the Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village that evening for the Literary Legends Banquet honoring Carl Hiaasen. Hiaasen is also the keynote speaker Saturday morning at Flagler College. Other authors appearing on Saturday include, Larry Baker, Robert Macomber, Heather Graham, Marianne Berkes, Dr. William Slaughter, Arliss Ryan, and Diane Roberts.
    • Speaking of Flagler College, they've set the date for this year's Other Words Conference — Nov. 4 - 6. The conference begins with readings by William Slaughter and Laura Lee Smith. Panel discussions, readings and creative writing workshops continue through the 6th. Read the linked blog for more details.
    • S. Florida FWA Group Leader Robert Mykle has again made arrangements for an FWA Tent at this year's Miami Book Fair International, Nov 19 - 21. If you've never been to the MBFI, it's a huge event with thousands of people attending, Robert reports he still has room for more authors if you'd like to participate and share in the costs of the tent. FWA members pay $70, non-members $80. Contact Robert at or call, 561-966-8488.
    I'll leave you with a quote from SF author Ben Nova:

    "The writer's job is to be a troublemaker! Stir up as many levels of conflict and problems for your protagonist as you can. Let one set of problems grow out of another. And never, never, never solve a problem until you've raised at least two more. It is the unsolved problems that form the chain of promises that keeps the reader interested."

    Have a great writing day,


    Victor DiGenti

    FWA Regional Director

    Friday, April 30, 2010

    May has something for all writers

    Before we settle into the summer doldrums, let's give thanks for air conditioning and word processing. With six active FWA chapters in NE Florida, we have ample opportunity to stay connected, inspired and on track to become better writers. Check out these FWA meetings this month:
    • First Coast Christian Writers meet weekly on Thursdays at 6:45 p.m. in room 513 of Christ's Church on Greenland Road. Contact chapter leader Tracy Redman for more information:
    • River City Writers will meet on Tuesday, May 11 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Branch Library in Jacksonville, 10599 Deerwood Park Blvd. Gregg Golson leads the group, and can be reached at
    • Ancient City Writers meet at St. Augustine's Main Library, 1960 N. Ponce de Leon Blvd. on Saturday, May 15 at 10:15 a.m. This month, local author and historian Karen Harvey will discuss "The Nit & Grit of a Publishing Project." With nine books in print, including her new release, St. Augustine Enters the Twenty-First Century, Karen has learned plenty about what it takes to get a book written and published. And she's happy to share her experiences with us.
    • Amelia Island Writers now meet at Books Plus, 107 Centre Street in Fernandina Beach. Visit them on Tuesday, May 18 at 6:00 p.m. Contact Maggie deVries, chapter leader, at
    • Clay County Writers meet on the third Wednesdays of the month at the Fleming Island Library. This month it will be on Wednesday, May 19 at 6:15 p.m. Chapter leader Maureen Jung can answer your questions. Email her at
    • Rik Feeney moves north this month on his around the world speaking tour. He'll be at the Ponte Vedra Writers Chapter on Saturday, May 22 at the Ponte Vedra Library, 101 Library Blvd., at 10:30 a.m. Rik's talk this month is "Your Book: The Primary Marketing Tool." In his show and tell presentation, Rik will talk about how to turn your book into a vehicle that encourages and motivates sales.
    Other Writers Group Meetings
    • The Florida Chapter of Sisters in Crime meets tomorrow, Saturday, May 1 at 10:30 a.m. at Jacksonville's SE Regional Branch Library. If you're a mystery/crime writer who wants to portray the use of weapons accurately and realistically, then be there to hear weapons expert Teresa Meares of Team DGG.
    • The next SCBWI children's writing meeting is on Saturday, May 15 at 1:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Branch Library. They are doing closed critiques and up to 10 pages of a picture book, children's MG or YA novel, or children's short story must be sent in advance to Janet Walter,
    • On Saturday, May 8, the First Coast Romance Writers holds a full day workshop with novelist Alexandra Sokoloff on "Screenwriting Tricks for Novelists," at Arlington Congregational Church, 431 University Blvd. N. Visit the website for registration details.
    • On the Same day, May 8, at 2:00 pp.m., North Florida Writers meet at the Webb-Wesconnett Library, 103rd Street near I-295. The group will hear from counselor-hypnotist Ben Edmundson.
    Other Happenings:
    • Our FWA region is again co-sponsoring the UNF Writers Conference, August 6 - 8, at the UNF Learning Center. Friday, August 6 is devoted to an outstanding line-up of workshops, including "What Every Writer Should Never Forget," presented by Steve Berry, Adrian Fogelin's "Writing for the YA Market," "Remember Me: What Makes a Powerful Memoir," by Carol O'Dell, "The Top Ten Reasons Why Editors Reject a Non-Ficition Proposal," presented by UPF Editor-in-Chief, John Byram, plus workshops on social networking for authors, playwriting, POV, mystery writing and marketing. Thirteen sessions altogether, plus a luncheon keynote by Fogelin, and a booksigning and wine reception. And that's just the first day. The other two days concentrate on intensive critique sessions covering fiction, non-fiction, memoir and screenwriting. There's even more so visit the website for all the details. You can register for only the Friday workshops or the entire three days.
    • Registrations are now open for the 2010 FWA Annual Conference, Go for the Gold, October 22 - 24 at the Lake Mary Marriott. With strong workshop faculty and subject matter, agents and editors available for one-on-one interviews, and the newly-added manuscript critiques, this is one of the better writers conference of the year. Remember, though, you have to be a current FWA member to attend so be sure your membership runs through October 2010 or join now.
    • The Florida Writers Foundation, Inc. was incorporated two years ago by FWA to promote literacy and enhance the writing skills of young people and adults. A major fund-raiser is the Pre-Conference Workshops on Thursday, October 21 at the Lake Mary Marriott. Select from five full-day workshops including Bob Mayer's "Warrior Writer Workshop," Molli Nickell's "From Query to Pitch," "How & Why to Use Social networking Tools," with Mary Ann de Stefano and Chris Hamilton, "Screenwriting from Idea to Big Screen" with Andrew Robinson, Chantelle Osman and John Castellano, plus Vic DiGenti's, "Novel in a Day" workshop." Registration information will soon be on the FWA website. For questions, contact FWA President, Chrissy Jackson,
    • If you're unsure whether you'll attend the Pre-Conference day on October 21, I'll conduct the "Novel in a Day" workshop one last time this month at UNF on Saturday, May 15. Part of UNF's Continuing Education program, you may also register for Sharon Cobb's screenwriting classes, John Boles' creative writing class, and Thelma Young's memoir writing class. Click on the link for registration info.
    • Don't forget that the First Coast Register is planning to publish short stories by First Coast writers starting with the June/July issue. They will pay $100 for selected stories of 1,000 words or less. Contact editor Mark Pettus at
    • The RPLA competition deadline is July 16. Seems like a ways off, but it will be here before you know it. Check out the submission guidelines and send in your entry. Again, you must be a member to enter. Good luck.
    • The Florida Heritage Book Festival scored a coup when Carl Hiaasen agreed to appear and be honored at the Literary Legends Awards Banquet on Friday, September 24 at the Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village. Hiaasen will also speak at the Festival the next day along with a host of other authors including Larry Baker, Heather Graham, Robert Macomber, Diane Roberts and many more.
    • The Festival's Writers Workshops on Friday, September 24 at the Casa Monica Hotel is always a favorite for area writers. Early bird registration of only $50 runs through August 24, then it's bumped to $65 and $85 at the door. Check it out and register soon.
    Have a great writing day,

    Victor DiGenti
    FWA Regional Director