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