Friday, November 30, 2012

Have a Merry One

The holiday season can make it tough to concentrate on our writing efforts, but FWA is here to bolster your convictions to keep writing. So take some time during the mad holiday rush to attend one of these FWA group meetings.

  • River City Writers group meets on Tuesday, December 11 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Branch Library. Contact Gregg Golson for more information. 
  • Ancient City Writers hosts a special holiday meeting on Saturday, December 15, 10:00 a.m. at St. Augustine's Main Library. Along with speaker John Boles, there will be refreshments and drawings for a gift basket and other goodies. Plus this is a joint meeting with the Ponte Vedra Writers group, so a good time will be had by all. John will discuss "The Keys to Story Structure." He'll cover the three-act structure, the use of plot points and turning points to build conflict and move the story toward climax and resolution. John is a writing coach, editor and book doctor. 
  • Amelia Island Writers will not meet in December due to the holidays. Look for them next month on the third Wednesday at Books Plus in Fernandina Beach at 6:15 p.m.. Contact group leader and bookstore proprietor Maggie deVries at 904-321-6180 for details.
  • Clay County Writers now meet at the Orange Park Library, 2054 Plainfield Avenue,  Wednesday, December 19 at 6:15 p.m. Veteran journalist and media expert Stephen Kindland presents, "What's New with the News? Media Relations Strategies that Still Work in a Rapidly Changing Environment." Group leader Maureen Jung has the scoop.
  • FWA affiliate, First Coast Christian Writers, meets each Thursday at 6:45 p.m  at the Webb-Wesconnett Library.
  • The Ponte Vedra Writers are on holiday this month, but will join the Ancient City Writers on December 15 for a jolly, holly gathering. We'll return on Saturday, January 26 with a special Indie Publishing Panel.
  • The Jax Youth Writers of FWA's Youth Writers Program meets next on Thursday, December 27 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Branch Library. All youth under 18 and their parents are welcome. Contact Kimberly Smith for more information.
But wait, there's more ...
  • Florida Sisters in Crime is in a holiday mood. They invite you to the annual chapter holiday party tomorrow, Saturday, December 1 at 10:30 a.m. at the SE Regional Library. There will be refreshments, door prizes, free books and a murder mystery to solve. Snacks are welcome.
  • Black Horse Winery and Clay County Writers host another "Meet the Authors" event on Wednesday, December 12 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. This month's authors include Lillian Kiernan Brown, a writer and journalist who has traveled the world but held on to her love for Boston, burlesque and show biz. She'll be signing her memoir, Banned in Boston, Memoirs of a Stripper. Carroll Wolverton is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction. She'll sign her mystery, Boston Basement (Another Boston book. Coincidence? I think not) and her self-help manual, Method Weight Management: A Common Sense Approach to Weight Loss. And Vic DiGenti, aka Parker Francis, will be on hand to sign copies of his latest Quint Mitchell Mystery, Bring Down the Furies, along with his first mystery, Matanzas Bay. Black Horse Winery is located at 420 Kingsley Avenue, a block west of Park Avenue. Clay County Writers will have a table there and will be accepting donations for BASCA, Inc., a local non-profit dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Come and do your holiday shopping along with a glass of wine.
  • FWA is offering an early release copy of bestselling author Mary Burton's upcoming romantic suspense novel, The Seventh Victim. This won't be on the bookstore shelves until February, but you can get your copy by visiting the Florida Writers Foundation shopping cart and purchasing one now. Mary will be presenting the Celebrity Workshop before the next FWA Conference, and will be the 2014 Person of Renown for Collection #6.
  • Mark your calendars for Saturday, February 2nd when the Florida Heritage Book Festival presents Vic DiGenti's Novel in a Day workshop at Flagler College. This will be the only presentation of this workshop in the NE Florida area for at least six months. Details will be added to the FHBF website shortly.
And a final word of good tidings to all of us — however you celebrate the holidays, make it a merry and safe one. 

All the best from my family to yours (and from Santa Kitty, too) 

Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

First Defrost the Turkey

It might seem like an old sit-com plot, but how many young marrieds have found themselves in the embarrassing position of not allowing enough time for the frozen bird to fully defrost. I know it happened to us. With Thanksgiving around the corner (and how did that happen?) the defrosting anecdote is a good way to remind us to plan ahead.

If you're planning to write a novel, it helps to think it through before you start writing. Create the most compelling characters. List the plot points that will keep the readers hooked. And write an outline. At the other end of the process you'll want to revise and rewrite until it's the best you can do, then turn it over to a professional editor.

And because writing is such a solitary process, take time to recharge the batteries by attending workshops and conferences. Which takes us to this month's update of FWA group meetings and other key events taking place this month.
  • River City Writers meets Tuesday, November 13 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Branch Library. Contact Gregg Golson for information.
  • Ancient City Writers gather on Saturday, November 17 at St. Augustine's Main Library. Time is 10:15 a.m. and the guest speaker is historical novelist Arliss Ryan speaking on "Researching and Writing the Historical Novel."
  • The Amelia Island Writers are scheduled to meet at Books Plus in Fernandina Beach on Tuesday, November 20 at 6:15 p.m. But since it's Thanksgiving week, it's best to call group leader Maggie deVries first. You may reach her at 904-321-6180.
  • And the Clay County Writers, which normally meets on the third Wednesday of the month, has cancelled this months meeting. But group leader Maureen Jung reminds everyone of the Meet the Author event on November 14 at Black Horse Winery from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
  • There will be no meeting of the Ponte Vedra Writers for either November or December since both fall during holidays weeks. We'll see you back in January with a new season of programs.
  • Remember the First Coast Christian Writers, an affiliate of FWA, meets most Thursdays at 6:45 p.m. at the Webb Wesconnett Library, but most likely not on Thanksgiving Thursday.
  • A reminder that Kimberly Smith is leading the new FWA Youth Writers group for NE Florida. Find out more about this new program here, and contact Kim here for meeting times and details.
More Events for Area Writers
  • I've been asked many times about critique groups in the area and have usually directed the individuals to a few ongoing groups I know about. Now it's time for us to form our own critique group. Newly relocated FWA member Betsy Stoutmorrill has agreed to lead a new group that will probably meet at the Jacksonville Beach Library starting in January. If you're interested in joining the group, contact Betsy here.
  • Florida Sisters in Crime meets Saturday, November 3 at 10:30 a.m. at the SE Regional Library to hear Chief Forensic Consultant Michael Knox. He's written a book on the forensic evidence in the killing of Trayvon Martin. The group will also vote on their new slate of officers.
  • The Other Words Conference of the Florida Arts Coalition takes place November 8 - 10 at Flagler College. The Conference features readings and workshops in poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction.
  • The First Coast Romance Writers meets Saturday, November 10 at 10:15 a.m. at the West Regional Library located at 1425 Chaffee Road. New York Times bestselling author Haywood Smith conducts a full day workshop covering characterization, writing scenes and plotting.
  • Meet the Author at Black Horse Winery, 420 Kingsley Avenue in Orange Park. Four area authors will sign their books from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. I'm guessing there might be a little wine involved, as well.
  • There will be no meeting of the Children's Book Writers due to the election. 
  • Congratulations to area writer and FWA member Will Merrill who took home the Book of the Year award at this year's Royal Palm Literary Awards Banquet for his book, 9/11: Ordinary People-Extraordinary Heroes.
  • Other area winners included Judy Weber, second place Essay (Unpublished); Kimberly Smith, second place Young Adult (Unpublished); and Vic DiGenti, first place Short Story (Unpublished). Will Merrill also took first place in Book-Length Nonfiction (Published) for his 9/11 book. Congratulations to all of the winners.
  • Many area authors also made it into this year's Collections #4 "My Wheels." Its an especially fine anthology, and featured author Julie Compton selected her Top Ten from the 60 stories in the collection. Kudos to Marie Vernon and Vic DiGenti for making it into the Top Ten. Other area writers in the book include Richard Hebert, Diane Mutolo and Judy Weber. Next year's theme is "It's A Crime," and the Person of Renown is none other than Pulitzer Prize-winning crime writer Edna Buchanan.
A Final Word: This year's Florida Writers Association Conference offered something for everyone, but next year's should be an extravaganza of the first magnitude. Which may be why it's being called "The Greatest Show on Earth." I don't know if it will have a high wire act and dancing elephants, but it will have Edna Buchanan. And bestselling romantic suspense author Mary Burton will present the Celebrity Workshop for the Florida Writers Foundation the day before the conference kicks off. We're told the last time Mary gave her workshop at the Romance Writers Conference, there were 2,000 people in attendance. Since the Lake Mary Marriott only holds 550 people, it's probably a good idea to get your reservations in early. 

Check and Like our NE Florida FWA Facebook page. Until next time, don't forget to keep writing ... and defrost the turkey.

Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Sunday, September 30, 2012

It's Conference Time

October brings with it your opportunity to attend FWA's Annual Conference, The Magic of the Pen, October 19 - 21 at the Orlando Marriott Lake Mary. Before I tell you more about the conference, you should know about a last minute change in the October 18 Florida Writers Foundation Celebrity Workshop. UK author R.J. Ellory had been scheduled to conduct the full day workshop on writing crime fiction, but Mr. Ellory is unable to attend and FWA reached out to another mystery writer to carry on. Thus, yours truly has been tapped to present "How to Write Killer Fiction: An Introduction to Mystery Writing."

If you've always wanted to write a mystery but weren't sure how to get started, here's your chance. In a fast-paced, entertaining workshop, I'll combine easy-to-follow-lessons with writing exercises to help turn your idea into a compelling story.

Early Bird registration ends today, Sunday September 30, and is $95 for FWA members and $115 for nonmembers. Late registration is $115 for FWA members and $135 for nonmembers. The price does include lunch. Click here for more details on the workshop, and click here to register. I'll use examples from my two Parker Francis penned Quint Mitchell Mysteries, Matanzas Bay and Bring Down the Furies, along with other mysteries and suspense thrillers. If you're planning to attend the workshop, bring a synopsis of your mystery WIP, if you have one.

You still have time to register for The Magic of the Pen, FWA's 11th Annual Conference. Attend workshops! Meet agents and publishers! Pitch your book! And find out who the big winners are at the 2012 RPLA Banquet. Two new workshops have been added to the mix: ePub literary agent Saritza Hernandez will cover Genre Bending: The ePub Revolution, and author, editor and writing resources teacher Robert Sanders will help you navigate through the world of children's picture books. Registration ends on October 9, so be sure to sign up soon.

Now here's a look at this month's FWA chapter meetings and other happenings in NE Florida.

  • River City Writers Chapter meets Tuesday, October 9 at 7:00 p.m, at the SE Regional Branch Library on Deerwood Park Blvd. Contact Gregg Golson for information.
  • The Amelia Island Writers meet on Tuesday, October 16 at the Books Plus store in Fernandina Beach, 6:15 p.m. Give Maggie deVries a call for more info: 904-321-6180.
  • Clay County Writers are on the move, leaving the Fleming Island Branch Library behind and transitioning to a new home base at the Orange Park Library. But that doesn't happen until the December 19 meeting. In the meantime, get in the spirit of the temporary venue at Black Horse Winery, 420 Kingsley Avenue. On the 17th of this month, (6:30 - 8:30 p.m.) the group will have two writing exercises plus tips on working with the media. Group leader Maureen Jung reminds those attending that unless ordering a glass of wine, there is a $7.50 charge to cover the cost of the room. 
  • The Ancient City Writers of St. Augustine will not have a meeting this month, instead urging their members to attend the FWA Annual Conference taking place the same weekend as ACC's regular meeting time.
  • Clay County group leader Maureen Jung will be the featured speaker at the monthly meeting of the Ponte Vedra Writers, Saturday, October 27 at 10:30 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Library. Dr. Maureen (she is a Ph.D., after all) will conduct a different sort of writing workshop demonstrating how writing can ease the pain of loss, illness or injury and promote healing. She'll examine ways to transform "your story" into a stepping stone to a vibrant, healthier you. 
  • FWA's affiliate, First Coast Christian Writers, meets each Thursday evening at 6:45 p.m. at the Webb Wesconnett  Library. 
  • The new Jax Youth Writers of FWA's Youth Writers Program will meet at the SE Branch Library on the 4th Tuesday of each month from 7:00 to 8:45 p.m. It's for young people age 18 and under, so if you know of any young writers be sure to tell them about it. Find out more right here, or contact Kimberly Smith for more information. 

More for writers:

  • Ancient City Romance Authors welcome Deb Smith, editor at Belle Books as the keynote speaker, along with workshop leaders Deb Dixon and Elizabeth Sinclair for their 2012 Fiction Writers Mardi Gras Boot Camp, October 5-6 at Hampton Inn, 430 Beach Blvd, St. Augustine. Visit the ACRA website to register.
  • The Writers Alliance of Gainesville presents "Novel in a Day," a one-day workshop facilitated by Vic DiGenti. It will be held at Gainesville's Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Church, Saturday, October 13 starting at 8:30 a.m. Contact WAG president Wendy Thornton to register. 
  • Clay County Writers is cosponsoring a "Meet the Author/Book Signing" event along with Black Horse Winery on Tuesday, October 23 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Winery owner Kiyoko Fiedler hopes to make this a monthly event featuring four different authors each month. If you're interested in signing on as one of the authors contact Kiyoko at 904-644-8480. 
  • The Friends of the Main Library in St. Augustine present the 1st Friends Book Fair featuring area writers showcasing their work.  The Book Fair is scheduled for Saturday, October 20th from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. in the large meeting room at the Main Library, 1960 N. Ponce De Leon Blvd. Participating authors are Nancy Haddock, Eileen Erickson, Andre Frattino, Kathryn Bain and Lanny Smith.
  • Aside from the Book Fair, Kathryn J. Bain will be signing copies of her books on October 13 from 10:00 - 4:00 at UMC Annual Craft Fair.
  • Caren Umbarger, Florida Book Award Bronze Medal Winner in General Fiction for her novel, Coming To: A Midwestern Tale, will speak at the Ponte vedra Library's Book Talk Cafe program on Monday, October 15 at 6:30 p.m. The program is presented free of charge to the public by the Friends of the Ponte Vedra Library.
  • The 8th Annual Other Words Conference will be held next month, November 8 - 11 at Flagler College and feature panels, readings, workshops and in independent literary book fair. Visit the website for all the details. 

  • And Ill leave you with these words of encouragement from the late writer of the hard-boiled Mike Hammer mysteries, Mickey Spillane:
"If you're a singer you lose your voice. A baseball player loses his arm. A writer gets more knowledge, and if he's any good, the older he gets, the better he writes."

Until next time, I hope to see you at the FWA Conference picking up your RPLA Award.

Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fast Track to Success?

As you might have guessed by the title—the question mark is the clue—there's no real fast track to writing success. That's why Ray Bradbury said the first million words don't count. But you may jump ahead by attending workshops and writers conferences. And we have a pair of excellent ones coming up shortly.

The Florida Heritage Book Festival Writers Conference, September 13 & 14 at the St. Johns County Convention Center at the Renaissance World Golf Village Resort offers a day and a half of outstanding workshops by the pros. Learn how to be a better public speaker, how to craft tighter, more effective stories, how to jumpstart a freelance career, and much more. Register before September 7 to take advantage of lower fees, which include lunches and Thursday night's keynote talk by "Dexter" author Jeff Lindsay. Pulitzer Prize-winning crime author Edna Buchanan will be honored at Friday night's Literary Legends Award Banquet, with Ms. Buchanan making a rare public appearance to accept her award. And, of course, you might want to hob nob with the authors at Saturday's free Book Festival at Flagler College, Ringhaver Student Center. If you attend the Saturday Festival, you can ask Jeff Ashton, the lead prosecutor in the Casey Anthony case, "What happened?" Or hear Ernest Hemingway's niece, Hilary Hemingway, talk about her famous uncle. Or speak with Sen. Bob Graham about his suspense novel, Keys to the Kingdom, which draws on his background in government and intelligence.
The Festival is looking for a few good volunteers for Saturday. If you're interested, contact Nancy Huppert at

Of course, the other outstanding conference is FWA's 11th Annual Conference, The Magic of the Pen. Running from October 19 to 21 at the Orlando Marriott Lake Mary, the conference offers opportunities to pitch agents and publishers, hear the latest in the industry, sharpen your skills and be part of the largest, most comprehensive writers conference in the state. Note, you have to be a member of FWA to attend, or pay an additional $45 which happens to be the membership fee. Tricky, yes? The Royal Palm Literary Awards banquet is a high point of the conference each year. Here you can learn who won the coveted Book of the Year, or if you were one of the winners.
Additionally, you might want to attend the full day crime writing workshop by international crime writer, R.J. Ellery. "Writing Wrongs: A Workshop on Crime Fiction and Thrillers," takes place the day before the conference, Thursday, October 18, also at the Orlando Marriott Lake Mary. Proceeds from the workshop benefits the Florida Writers Foundation, which promotes literacy projects on behalf of FWA.

FWA's local writers groups offer you more opportunities to fast track your writing success. Here's what's coming in September:

  • River City Writers chapter meets on the second Tuesday of the month, September 11, at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Branch Library, 10599 Deerwood Park Blvd. Group leader Gregg Golson has the details. 
  • Ancient City Writers, Saturday, September 15, 10:30 a.m. at St. Augustine's Main Library, will hear from Rik Feeney, covering the topic, "Writing Books for Fun, Fame & Fortune."
  • The Amelia Island Writers chapter meets Tuesday, September 18 at 6:15 p.m. at Books Plus in Fernandina Beach. Want more information? Call group leader Maggie de Vries at 904-321-6180.
  • Maureen Jung, leader of the Clay County Writers group has a fine meeting planned for Wednesday, September 19 at 6:25 p.m. at the Fleming Island Library. Martin Conroy has over 30 years sales and marketing experience with three of the major New York publishers. Conroy promises to tell all in his presentation, "The Realities of Publishing Today: The Truth." Sounds like a good one.
  • The ubiquitous Rik Feeney pays a visit to the Ponte Vedra Writers on Saturday, September 22. 10:30 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Library. This time Rik will talk about "Editing Basics for Authors & Self-Publishers." 
  • FWA's affiliate, First Coast Christian Writers, meets each Thursday evening at 6:45 p.m. at the West Regional Library. Contact Lynn Rix for details.
More for writers:
  • There's a newly formed group for science fiction and fantasy writers. Its first meeting is Tuesday, September 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the Argyle Library. SF author Tim Robinson is the contact for more information. 
  • Kimberly Smith has volunteered to form an FWA Youth Writers Group here in NE Florida. Kim is a former writing and drama teacher, a former bookstore owner, and currently writes YA and does freelance editing. She has a great vision for the group and will be announcing the meeting schedule soon. BTW, Kim will join us at my September 22 Ponte Vedra Writers meeting to tell us more about the proposed Youth Writers Group. If you know a young writer who might be interested in participating, you may contact Kim here
  • WAG, the Writers Alliance of Gainesville, is presenting Vic DiGenti's Novel in A Day workshop, Saturday, October 13 at Gainesville's Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. The full day workshop covers the essential elements for crafting a successful novel in a fast-paced and interactive setting. A portion of the proceeds benefits WAG. For more information contact WAG President Wendy Thornton or Vic DiGenti.
  • Lynn Harlin announces more of her prize-winning classes known as the Shanty Boat Workshops, September 19 - October 24. For both beginning and more seasoned writers, Lynn promises to help whip your words into shape. Click here to email Lynn for more information.
  • Author John Dufresne returns to Flagler College on Saturday, October 6 for a reprise of his workshop, "How to write Your Novel in Six Months." It's open to writers of all skill levels. Click here for cost and registration information.
  • Those infamous Rogues, aka Bridget Callaghan, Jeff Swesky, Michael Ray King and Nancy Quatrano, are having a book launch weekend to celebrate the release of The Method Writers. Join them Friday, September 7 at the St. Francis Inn courtyard, Saturday at Hooligans in Ormond Beach, or Sunday at a Taste of Portugal in Palm Coast. Nancy has all the details. 
  • Ron Whittington announces the release of Doppelganged, a Parker Glynn thriller. Ron has signings set at Monkey's Uncle Tavern in Jacksonville, Beach, American Legion Post 129, and Chamblain's Uptown Cafe & Book Store. Write Ron with congratulations and for details of his signings.
  • Congratulations to Jacksonville author Kathryn J. Bain for the release of he inspirational romantic suspense novel, Catch Your Breath, the sequel to the award-winning Breathless.
We lost another great American writer in August. Gore Vidal was often referred to as an elegant writer, but he was so much more. He was an essayist, a playwright, a sometime actor, and political gadfly. His historical novels were acclaimed for their historical accuracy and witty writing. Novels like Julian, 1876, Lincoln and Washington, D.C. were huge sellers, as was his black comedy, Myra Breckenridge. But one of my favorites was a one-liner, "Write something every day, even if it's a suicide note."
Here's a fine New York Times article on Vidal.

Until next time, stay on the fast track and keep writing,

Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Monday, August 06, 2012

Writers Conference & More

Before I list this month's FWA meeting schedule, you should know that the early bird rates for the Florida Heritage Book Festival Writers Conference expires tomorrow, Tuesday, August 7. This is a high level conference packed with craft and marketing workshops presented by professionals like Steve Berry, Adrian Fogelin, Sasha ZeBryk, Sharon Y. Cobb, and William McKeen. The conference is scheduled for September 13 and 14, but registration with the lower early bird fees ends tomorrow. Thursday only is $40, but increases to $50 after the 7th, and $70 at the door. Friday only is $65, and increases to $75, $100 at the door. Both days include lunch and book signings by the authors. There is also a lower priced combo package available. 

The Festival weekend kicks off with Thursday night's keynote address by Jeff Lindsay, the author of the bestselling "Dexter" novels upon which the hit Showtime series is based. All of this takes place at the Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village. You might consider an overnight stay at the Renaissance since they've given the Festival the incredibly low room rate of $129 per night if you tell them you're there for the Book Festival Writers Conference. This is about half their regular rate.

I've heard that some people have had problems registering and paying online with the PayPal form. If you do, email Marcy Carreras, and let her know you've tried to register and will be sending her a check. Marcy's email address is Her address to send the check is on the registration form.

There's a lot more happening that weekend, including Friday night's Literary Legends Banquet honoring Pulitzer Prize winning author Edna Buchanan, and Saturday's free Book Festival at Flagler College. 

Here's what your local FWA groups have planned for August:
  • River City Writers, led by Gregg Golson, is scheduled to hear Carol O'Dell at its Tuesday, August 14 meeting. However, late word has it that the SE Branch Library meeting rooms are not available that day. Contact Gregg for possible change of venue.
  • Because of early voting at the Fleming Island Library, the Clay County Writers has moved its August 15 meeting to Black Horse Winery, 420 Kinglsey Avenue, Orange Park. Sounds like a plan to me. Group leader Maureen Jung will lead an informal discussion of writing, editing, conferences and more. Maureen says, "If you're new to the group, or haven't attended in a while, this is a good time to connect with others who share your passion for writing." The meeting starts at 6:30, and Maureen would like you to RSVP due to limited space by calling her at 904-298-5714.
  • Carol O'Dell will be a busy woman as she's the guest speaker at the Ancient City Writers chapter on Saturday, August 18, 10:15 a.m. at St. Augustine's Main Library. This time Carol presents a session on the query letter, how to use it to grab the attention of agents and editors.
  • The Amelia Island Writers chapter of FWA returns to Books Plus in Fernandina Beach on Tuesday, August 21 at 6:15 p.m. for a critique session. This is a good opportunity to receive constructive feedback on your work in progress. Call Maggie deVries at 904-321-6180 for more information.
  • If you don't have a website yet, you need to attend the Ponte Vedra Writers meeting, Saturday, August 25, 10:30 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Library. Gary Zeiger is a science fiction author, and head of Tholian Web Productions, Jacksonville company helping customers with web design, printing and ebook services. He'll talk about websites for authors, as well as the entire mix of social media. 
  • First Coast Christian Writers, an affiliate of FWA, meets each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at the West Regional Library. Contact Lynn Rix for more information.

Don't forget to register for this year's FWA Writers Conference, The Magic of the Pen, October 19 - 21 at the Orlando Marriott Lake Mary. It's packed with seven agents, eight publishers, and eighteen featured faculty. What a great opportunity to pitch your work. If the idea of networking with strangers makes you sweat, here are five tips for effective networkingClick here for all the conference details. And while you're at it, check out the Celebrity Workshop on October 18 also at the Marriott. Presented by the Florida Writers Foundation, the Workshop features award-winning thriller writer, R. J. Ellory in a full day workshop on crime writing.

  • North Florida Writers will critique manuscripts at its Saturday, August 11 meeting, 2:00 p.m at Tom & Betty's Restaurant at Roosevelt Square. 
  • First Coast Romance Writers meet Saturday, August 11, 10:15 a.m. at the West Regional Library. They welcome Dee Carney and Merrillee Whren who will talk on, "Putting the Sexy in Your Story."
  • JSO Deputy Keith Nazworth is the guest speaker at the Ancient City Romance Authors, Saturday, August 25 at 1:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Library. Visit the website for more info.
  • Frank Green continues his Bard Society critique group every Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. Contact Frank at
  • Mary Bridgman presents her two night course, "Breaking Into the Freelance Writing Market," at UNF September 25 and October 2. Click here for all the details.
Kudos to FWA Members:
  • St. Augustine FWA member Joan North reports that two of her Flash Fiction stories are RPLA finalists.
  • Donna Kaluzniak has been chosen as science news writer for Jacksonville for
  • Mims Cushing's children's book, The Sleepover Surprise, was selected by the Rotary Club of Sarasota as a gift for young children in the Sarasota School System. They purchased 100 of her books.
  • Congratulations to everyone who made the cut for FWA's "My Wheels Collection." Especially to Marie Vernon and Vic DiGenti, whose stories landed in Julie Compton's Top Ten. 
I grew up reading the mesmerizing stories of Ray Bradbury, author of The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, The Illustrated Man, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and so many more lyrical tales. Bradbury died last week at the age of 91, but his place is set among the greats of science fiction, including Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Robert A. Heinlein. Here's a roundup of tributes and clips from And the article in The New York Times Books section announcing his death. 

Remember to keep up with FWA news and other writerly projects at our FWA NE Florida Facebook page. Please Like the page and contribute your own posts.

Until next time, keep writing, 

Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Hot! Hot! Hot!

Maybe I'm channeling Johnny Carson here, but it's so hot you can fry an egg on my keyboard. It's so hot I saw a bird use a potholder to pull a worm out of the ground. It's so hot ... enough, already, but here's something I did see on my walk on the beach this morning — 

Now, that's hot. One sure way to beat the heat is to find yourself a really cool place to write and learn new things about writing, publishing, and marketing. Let me suggest a few.
  1. Flagler College's Ringhaver Student Center, Gamache-Koger Theater is a really cool place, particularly the morning of Saturday, July 14 when the Florida Heritage Book Festival & Writers Conference presents "E-Publishing–The Future is Now!" This 3-hour workshop will provide details on how to convert your manuscript into an ebook, with important advice from media and publishing pros. You'll hear about cover art, editing, some technical necessities on the various formats, and, what all digitally published authors want to know, how to market those ebooks. The faculty includes your's truly, Sharon Y. Cobb, Frances Keiser, Deborrah Hoag, Rik Feeney, and John Simmons. The cost is $60 through tomorrow, then it goes up to $75. Fee includes a continental breakfast. Click here for details and registration. 
  2. Full conference registration for the UNF Writers Conference closes July 6. If you wish to join one of the critique workshops in fiction, non-fiction, or screenwriting to evaluate the first ten pages of your work in progress, then you must register and submit your pages and a synopsis by July 6. The conference is August 4 & 5 at the University of North Florida. Full conference registration also includes the Indie Author Seminar on Sunday afternoon. Visit the conference website for all the details.
  3. And it's not too soon to register for the Florida Heritage Book Festival Writer's Conference, September 13 & 14 at St. Johns County Convention Center at Renaissance World Golf Village. On Thursday afternoon, following a boxed lunch, you may select from one of two 3-hour workshops. One on character development with Adrian Fogelin. The other on how to hook, book and keep your audience with motivational speaker Sasha ZeBryk. That evening, Jeff Lindsay, the award-winning author of the "Dexter" novels on which the hit Showtime series is based, will present the opening keynote talk.  Friday offers a full day of workshops on everything from writing historicals and memoirs to creating a blog, from "The Six Essential Cs of Storytelling" with Steve Berry, to "The Ups & Downs of Freelancing" with Leslie Halpern. Plus Florida Book Award winner Diana Abu-Jaber will deliver the luncheon keynote Friday. You can register for both days and Jeff's keynote, both lunches for only $90, if you register by July 31. The price increases to $110 after that, still a bargain. Or you may opt to include Friday night's Literary Legends Banquet where Pulitzer Prize-winning crime author Edna Buchanan will be honored. Also, Ernest Hemingway will be posthumously honored with acceptance by his niece, Hilary Hemingway (who happens to be married to Jeff Lindsay). The cost for the Writers Conference and the Literary Legends Banquet, with author reception, is only $170, going up to $190 on August 31. Check out all the details here.
And now, for the rest of the story.
  • River City Writers meet on Tuesday, July 10 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Library, 10599 Deerwood Park Blvd. Group leader Gregg Golson will discuss "How to Use Travel Writing to Create a Realistic Setting." The group is also working on a join project, co-writing a non-fiction book, Seven Bridges and a Ferry. Gregg says all FWA members are welcome to participate.  
  • The Amelia Island Writers group meets Tuesday, July 17 at 6:15 p.m. at Books Plus in Fernandina Beach. Call Maggie deVries for details, 904-321-6180.
  • Clay County Writers meet the following evening, Wednesday, July 18, 6:15 p.m. at the Fleming Island Library, 1895 Town Center Blvd.  Group leader Maureen A. Jung, Ph.D. presents a workshop entitled, "Writing to Heal: How Words Help Us Recover, Grow and Thrive. Maureen will look at medical evidence on the healing power of writing. Email her at
  • St. Augustine's Ancient City Writers come together Saturday, July 21, 10:15 a.m. at the Main Library. Freelance journalist and biographer Susan D. Brandenburg hits the right notes with her talk, "Taking a Leap of Faith into the Freelance Jungle ... and Surviving." Susan's articles have appeared in Women's World Weekly, Florida Sportsman Magazine, Jacksonville Magazine, and many others.
  • And if you require an additional dose of freelancing advice, particularly on finding markets for articles, essays and short stories, freelancer Mary Bridgman offers advice on "Breaking into Freelancing," Saturday, July 28, 10:30 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Writers meeting taking place at the Ponte Vedra Library. By the way, Mary has a more in depth workshop, "Market Your Work as a Freelance Writer," part of the UNF Continuing Education program. Her next offering is this month, July 11 and 18. Details here.
  • As always, FWA's affiliate, First Coast Christian Writers meet each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at the West Regional Library. Contact Lynn Rix for details.
But wait, there's more.
  • In lieu of Florida Sisters in Crime's regular meeting, the group will hold its FlSinC Mystery Writing workshop planning meeting on July 7, 10:30 a.m. at the SE Regional Library meeting room. Featured speaker for the August 4 Mystery Writing Workshop is Patricia Sprinkle
  • First Coast Romance Writers hold two workshops on Saturday, July 14 starting at 10:15 a.m. at the West Regional Library on Chaffee Road. Kelly Stone presents, "Empowering Your Muse," at 10:35 a.m. After a lunch break, Jax Cassidy and Jeanan Glazier Davis teach writers how to gain focus and clear their minds for increased productivity in the workshop, "The Writer, Body and Mind."
  • The Ancient City Romance Writers (Motto: You won't find us in St. Augustine) meets Saturday, July 28at 1:00 p.m. at Jacksonville's SE Regional Library. Author Sharon Drane presents, "An Actor Prepares–Becoming Your Character."
  • I recently learned my short story, A Flutter of Wings, is a finalist in the Royal Palm Literary Awards. The competition is closed now, but let me know if you're a finalist in any of the categories and I'll report it in my next post. Of course, we'll all find out if we won at the 11th Annual Florida Writers Conference RPLA Awards Dinner, Saturday, October 20 in Lake Mary. The 3-day conference starts Friday, October 19 and includes the opportunity to pitch to any of the 7 literary agents or publishers, editors and other professionals on hand. Visit the Magic of the Pen Conference web pages for registration information and details on current faculty and programs. 
  • And don't forget thriller writer R. J. Ellory will share his secrets in a daylong seminar benefiting the Florida Writers Foundation. Early Bird registration of $95 for FWA members is tax deductible but does not include the Florida Writers Conference. All you need to know is here.
  • Kudos to Linda Rondeau who received the Selah Award for Best First Novel for Christian Writers. awarded to The Other Side of Darkness. Her second novel,  America II: The Reformation, a futuristic political thriller, will be released this month by Trestle Press under her pen name, L. W. Rondeau.
  • Congratulations to Margaret Brown who received a nice Kirkus Review for her scholarly book on the Vietnam War, That Time, That Place, That War.
If you're an FWA member, I'll be happy to recognize your awards, publishing achievements, etc. in future posts. Send them to me here.

And that will do it for this July 1st offering. Stay out of the noonday sun. Heck, stay out of the sun, period.

I hope to see you at one of the upcoming workshops or meetings. And if you enjoy getting these posts, please click the Join the site button at the top of the page and become a member. Conversely, you may also opt out at any time. Also keep up with FWA news and other writerly projects at our FWA NE Florida Facebook page. Please Like the page and contribute your own posts.


Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Summer Surge

As school kids we looked forward to summer as a time to put books and homework behind us. Endless play was the rallying cry. While those days are ancient history for some of us, summer is still something special. A time for family vacations, recharging batteries and, as writers, moving forward with our projects and writing plans.

To that end, FWA presents a sizzling line-up of programs in June. Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, there are valuable lessons to be learned. Check out these upcoming meetings:

  • River City Writers meet on Tuesday, June 12 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Library, 10599 Deerwood Park Blvd. Contact Gregg Golson for details. 
  • Ancient City Writers congregate at St. Augustine's Main Library on Saturday, June 16 at 10:15 a.m. to hear from Jamie Williams, Community Relations Manager for the Town Center Barnes & Noble. Jamie will talk about "How to Market Your Book with B&N Booksellers." Contact Judy Weber or Dianne Ell for details.
  • The Amelia Island Writers group meets on Tuesday, June 19 at 6:15 p.m. at Books Plus in Fernandina Beach. Group leader Maggie Carter-de Vries will lead a critique session. Bring your pages and bring a friend. Need more info? Call Maggie at 904-321-6180.
  • Author Marie Vernon relates how she turned an interview with an Elvis fan into her novel, Graceland Express, at the Wednesday, June 20 meeting of Clay County Writers. The meeting begins at 6:15 p.m. at the Fleming Island Library, 1895 Town Center Blvd. in Fleming Island. Group Leader Maureen Jung has details.
  • Ponte Vedra Writers will hear from Michael Hamilton, a former senior editor for John Wiley & Sons, on Saturday, June 23 at 10:30 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Library. Mike will discuss the various steps necessary in getting your book published, particularly non-fiction books and how to structure a book proposal. 
  • First Coast Christian Writers, an FWA affiliate, meet each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at the West Regional Library. Contact FCCW president Lynn Rix for details.
And that's not all!
  • Florida Sisters in Crime meets Saturday, June 2 at 10:30 a.m. at the SE Regional Library. Mystery author Parker Francis is the guest speaker and he tells us how he turned historical fact into fiction in his latest Quint Mitchell Mystery, Matanzas Bay. 
  • Finding success as a writers may seem more like a roll of the dice than talent, but networking is also important. The Tuesday, June 5 meeting of Children's Book Writers addresses "Making Connections," with author/writing instructor/FWA Regional Director Vic DiGenti talking about the opportunities available to writers and how to use them to promote yourself and market your books. They meet at 6:30 p.m. at the SE Regional Library. 
  • Ancient City Romance Writers will present an "Inspirational Writer's Panel" featuring four authors of Christian fiction at their Saturday, June 23 meeting, 1:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Library. Visit their website for more information.
  • Register early for the FWA Conference, The Magic of the Pen, and receive a free gift.
  • Time is running out to enter this year's Royal Palm Literary Awards competition. The deadline is June 15. Find all the submission details here.
  • And speaking of deadlines, the early bird deadline for the July 14 workshop, "E-Publishing – The Future is Now!" is today, May 31. Tomorrow the registration fee increases from $50 to $60 and $75 at the door. The workshop features specifics on how to convert your manuscript to a Kindle e-book, adding illustrations to e-books, what works for cover art and what doesn't, common editing blunders, and one dozen marketing tips to help you sell your ebooks. The workshop faculty includes Sharon Y. Cobb, Vic DiGenti, Rik Feeney, John Simmons, Deborrah Hoag, and Fran Keiser. Presented by the Florida Heritage Book Festival, more information and registration details can be found here.
  • While you're on the FHBF site, check out the schedule of events, including the September 13 & 14 Writers Conference at World Golf Village, which will include workshop sessions by Steve Berry, Adrian Fogelin, William McKeen, Sharon Y. Cobb, Sasha ZeBryk and many more. And if you're a fan of the "Dexter" Showtime series, author Jeff Lindsay, who writes the novels upon which the popular series is based, will keynote the Festival on Thursday evening, July 13. All the details are on the FHBF pages, along with the Literary Legends Banquet, which this year honors Pulitzer Prize-winning crime author, Edna Buchanan. And be sure to check out the Marketplace page for details on how you can sell your books during the festival. It's open to authors, publishers and any business targeting readers and writers.
  • The UNF Writers Conference returns on August 4 & 5, this year concentrating on critique workshops covering many genres. Sunday afternoon's expanded seminar will explore the world of independent publishing. Visit the website for more information. 
  • The Friends of the Ponte Vedra Library present their second annual Book Fair featuring 10 regional authors, Monday, June 18 at 6:00 p.m. Authors and their books include, JulesDaniel and the Jumbles, Dorothy FletcherGrowing Up Jacksonville: A 50s & 60s River City Childhood, Sue KirwanHurricane, Rita MalieSupreme Sacrifice, Karen MoriartyDefending the King – His Life and Legacy, Barbara Sarvis–Too Many Feathers, Bruce ThomasonThe Six O'Clock Rule, Tony TimbolCybil Raven: Miracle at St. Rita, Judith WhiteThe Seventh Etching, and Gary Zeiger–Stingray: You Can't Hide Forever.
  • Children's book authors and illustrators are invited to submit an application to participate in "Written Inspiration: A Children's Book Signing Event," presented by the University of Florida's Harn Museum of Art Store on November 4.  Contact Kathryn Rush, Harn Museum Store Manager, for an application.
Until next time, remember what Jack London said: "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."

Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Spring Ahead

Although we're ahead of the curve in Florida, May is traditionally the month where Mother Nature paints the landscape with a rainbow of flowering plants. For me, spring means raking the last of the leaves from my oak trees and wondering if those roots snaking through my yard would look better if I painted them green.

Spring is nature at it's finest. Hopefully, as writers we can learn from it and add fertilizer to our blossoming plot ideas, mulch our first drafts, and grow our expectations. Okay, these springtime allusions may be a bit overripe, but you get the idea. FWA is here to help your mental landscape with this month's regional meetings, and much more.

  • River City Writers meet on Tuesday, May 8 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library, 10599 Deerwood Park Blvd. Contact group leader Gregg Golson for details. 
  • Amelia Island Writers gather at Books Plus in Fernandina Beach on Tuesday, May 15 at 6:15 p.m. Group leader Maggie de Vries has the answers to your questions. Call her at 904-321-6180.
  • Learn to write dramatic scenes that pop off the page at this month's Clay County Writers meeting, Wednesday, May 16 at 6:15 p.m. at the Fleming Island Library. FWA Regional Director Vic DiGenti presents, "Let's Make a Scene," in which participants will learn how to write compelling scenes using a simple 3-part formula. And they'll have the opportunity to write their own scenes. Group leader Maureen Jung has more details.
  • Sohrab Homi Fracis will help you get "Short Story Savvy" at this month's meeting of Ancient City Writers, Saturday, May 19, 10:15 a.m. at St. Augustine's Main Library. Fracis was the first Asian to win the Iowa Short Fiction Award for his book, Ticket to Mintos: Stories of India and America. He'll discuss both the craft and markets for short fiction.
  • First Coast Christian Writers, an affiliate of FWA, meet each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at the West Regional Library. FCCW President Lynn Rix has details on the meetings.
  • Ponte Vedra Writers assemble on the last Saturday of the month, May 26, at 10:30 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Library. Marketing consultant and author Tony Timbol makes a return appearance, this time presenting "Your Book Needs Word of Mouth! A Primer on Using Facebook and Twitter for Marketing." Learn how to best use social media to help you market yourself and your books.
More Happenings in the World of Writing
  • Florida Sisters in Crime chapter meets Saturday, May 5 at 10:00 a.m. at the SE Branch Library. Attorney Kate Mesic, a member of the Florida Association of Women's Lawyers, is the guest speaker. 
  • Children's Book Writers meet tonight, May 1st, 6:30 p.m. at the SE Library. Fran Keiser will be speaking on "Finding Your Book's Niche." Learn how to identify, target, and reach your niche market.
  • North Florida Writers meet at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, May 12 at the Willowbranch Library. Linda Schilling Mitchell's new book, Dear Miss Schneider, Please Excuse Walter..., provides glimpses into the lives of Depression-era students and parents through a series of written excuses. The meeting is open to the public. 
  • The First Coast Romance Writers also meet on May 12, 10:15 a.m. at the West Regional Library on Chaffee Road. They promise a workshop blitz on four subjects with four different speakers: Heather Nickodem, "Polishing a Contest Entry," Ava Milone, "Dialog & Point of View," Beth Szabo, "Feeling the Power of Writing," and Abigail Sharpe, "Facing Your Fear."
  • Need more romance? Visit with the Ancient City Romance Writers, Saturday, May 26 at 12:30 p.m. at the SE Branch Library. This month's guest speaker Maria Geraci will address, "How to Write a Better Book – Finding Your Sweet Spot."
  • Don't miss the May 15 deadline for FWA Collection #4, My Wheels. Get your submission in on any topic involving wheels of any sort. Julie Compton will select the top ten for the front of the book. Click here for guidelines.
  • Entry fee for submitting to the Royal Palm Literary Awards is still $40 per entry, but that increases to a pricey $60 on June 1st so spring forth with your entry. Visit the FWA website for all the details.
  • If you're dazed and confused about the various digital formats, but you have a manuscript you want to turn into an ebook, there's an answer for that. Sign up now for the July 14 workshop, "E-Publishing, The Future is Now," a 3-hour, comprehensive session with six pros who will walk you through it from beginning to end. Presented by the Florida Heritage Book Festival, the workshop will be held at Flagler College's Ringhaver Student Center in the Gamache-Koger Theatre. Early bird fee is only $50 (includes continental breakfast) through May 31, $60 through July 2, and $75 at the door. Online details and registration here.
  • We were sworn to secrecy, but now can announce that Pulitzer Prize-winning crime writer Edna Buchanan will receive this year's Lifetime Achievement Award at the Florida Heritage Book Festival's Literary Legends Banquet on Friday, September 14. Buchanan has been with The Miami Herald since 1970, winning numerous awards for her reporting. She's written true crime nonfiction based on her crime reporting before turning to fiction. Read more about her here, and details on the banquet here.
  • And speaking of the Florida Heritage Book Festival, this year's Writers Conference has been expanded to a day-and-a-half and moved to World Golf Villages. Registration is now open, so visit the website and register while the early bird fees are still in effect.
  • One more plug for the Book Festival—Jeff Lindsay will kick it off with an opening night keynote talk. Not familiar with Lindsay? Maybe you're more familiar with the long-running Showtime series Dexter starring Michael C. Hall as a Miami-Dade blood spatter specialist who also happens to be a serial killer. But he only kills people who deserve killing. Lindsay is the author of the novels upon which the hit TV show is based. He's had a long and varied career which saw him doing stand-up, doing a solo singer-guitarist gig on the coffee house circuit, voice-over artist, steel worker, detective, sailing instructor and greeting card salesman. Oh, and he's also written 22 plays, TV sitcoms, and feature films with his wife Hilary Hemingway (yes, that Hemingway). Information about his appearance here.
  • The Annual FWA Conference, "The Magic of the Pen," kicks off on Thursday, October 18 with a day-long "Celebrity Workshop" featuring internationally-renowned author R. J. Ellory. Sponsored by and benefiting the Florida Writers Foundation, Ellory walks us through "Writing Wrongs: A Workshop on Crime Fiction and Thrillers." Although a resident of the UK, Ellory's books are set in the United States. His books include A Simple Act of Violence, A Quiet Vendetta, and A Quiet Belief in Angels. Visit the FWA web page to learn more about Ellory and register for the workshop.
  • Writer's Digest Popular Fiction Short Story Competition will begin accepting entries on June 1 in six genre categories. Deadline is September 14 and stories should be 4,000 words or less.
  • Oak Tara Publishers is looking for great love stories for its next collection, Tell Us About...
  • Penguin Group USA created Book Country a while back as a site where aspiring authors could post their writing and receive peer reviews and critiques. One of the early users was Kerry Schafer who began posting chapters from an unpublished novel. The chapters attracted dozens of comments but no nibbles (the story was about geriatric vampires in a nursing home) from agents or editors. She tried again with a new novel, Between, and this time caught the attention of literary agent Deidre Knight who was browsing the site for anything of interest. After reading the first ten pages she asked to see the mss and later signed her on as a client. She's since sold a two-book deal to Ace Books for Schafer. So lightning does sometimes strike in the most unexpected ways.
A word about Kaye Coopersmith. As many of you know, Kaye passed away unexpectedly last month. I knew Kaye before she became an FWA Board member, before she was tapped to head FWA's Editing Service, and before she was awarded the FWA Vice President's Award for being the "Welcoming Hands of FWA." As an FWA member since 2002, Kaye was at every FWA Conference I attended, volunteering for any job that needed doing, working long hours to ensure the conference's success. Her smile and enthusiasm was a fixture at conferences and the Tampa area writers groups she was so actively involved with. She will be missed. Here's a link to Kaye's memorial page.

Bobbie Christmas, known for her column, Ask The Book Doctor, volunteered to take over as head of the editing service. If, by chance, you had a manuscript in the editing system, please let Bobbie know so she can track it down and complete the editing service. You may contact Bobbie at

Until next time, keep writing and I'll see you on the book shelves,

Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Hot, Hot, Hot!

Welcome to NE Florida where we skipped right past winter and spring into summer. Or so it seems. Let's use the rise in body temperature as an indication of how things are heating up for area writers. Take a look at this month's FWA meetings followed by news of other writing groups and activities.

  • River City Writers meet on Tuesday, April 10 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library. Rik Feeney has some excellent advice on how to "Sell Your Book in 30 Seconds: Elevator Speech Basics and Marketing Mechanics that Sell Books." Contact group leader Gregg Golson for more information.
  • The Amelia Island Writers assemble around the stacks of Books Plus in Fernandina Beach on Tuesday, April 17 at 6:15 p.m. where group leader and store proprietor Maggie de Vries holds court. Give Maggie a call, 904-321-6180, if you need more information.
  • Clay County Writers meet on Wednesday, April 18 at the Fleming Island Library. Major Domo Maureen Jung has details.
  • Writers interested in learning more about epublishing will be interested in attending the April 21 meeting of Ancient City Writers, 10:15 a.m. at St. Augustine's Main Library. NE Florida FWA Regional Director Vic DiGenti presents "ePublishing 101," an overview of how digital publishing has changed the publishing landscape and how writers can climb aboard the e-bandwagon. 
  • Ponte Vedra Writers welcome literary agent and author Holly McClure to the Ponte Vedra Library on Saturday, April 28 at 10:30 a.m. We're putting Holly to work, first as a speaker on the topic of "The Successful Submission." Holly says she'll tell us how to improve the odds of getting accepted; what keeps them reading past the first page and what sends a signal that your book isn't quite ready for prime time. In the next hour Holly will field a group pitch session, hearing your pitches and giving pointers on how to improve. Arrive early if you want to get a seat.
More for Writers:
  • Learn how to work with the media to get publicity for your books from Brandy Hilboldt Allport, book page editor for The Florida Times-Union, tonight, Tuesday, April 3 at 6:30 p.m. at the Children's Book Writers meeting at the SE Regional Library. The group meets on the first Tuesday of the month, and group leaders Jane Wood and Fran Keiser, welcome all children's book writers in the area.
  • Marie Vernon headlines this month's Florida Sisters in Crime meeting, Saturday, April 7 at 10:30 a.m. at the SE Regional Library. Marie turned from writing true crime to novels, and she'll discuss her newest endeavor, Graceland Express, which she calls "A crime caper with an Elvis twist." President Pam Wells has more information.
  • North Florida Writers will critique manuscripts at their monthly meeting, Saturday, April 14, 2:00 p.m. at the Willowbranch Library. The meeting is open to all.
  • First Coast Christian Writers meets each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at Webb-Wesconnett Library, 103rd and Harlow Blvd.
  • First Coast Romance Writers meet the second Saturday of the month, 10:15 a.m. at the West Regional Library on Chaffee Road. 
  • "Take the Fear & Loathing Out of Twitter" is the title of Kellie Sharpe's presentation for the Ancient City Romance Authors, Saturday, April 28 at Village Bread Cafe at 12:30 p.m.
  • It's not too late to register for FWA's Spring Mini-Conference, Saturday, April 21 in Altamonte Springs. Here's the conference flyer with all the details. 
  • More FWA news: "My Wheels" is the theme for this year's FWA annual Collections. The deadline is May 15 and there's a 1,200 word limit.  Read the guidelines and enter today.
  • Speaking of deadlines, we missed the 3/31 early bird deadline for entering the Royal Palm Literary Award Competition with a $30 fee. It's now $40 per entry, but you have until June 15 to submit in a wide variety of categories. Winners will be announced at this year's conference, The Magic of the Pen. RPLA details here
  • The FWA Conference kicks off with a daylong seminar by noted crime author R. J. Ellery. "Writing Wrongs: A Workshop on Crime Fiction & Thrillers," Thursday, October 18 at the Orlando Marriott Lake Mary. The workshop helps support the Florida Writers Foundation, FWA's charitable arm in support of literacy. Read more about it at Chris Hamilton's FWA Conference Blog.
  • And if workshops are your thing, the Florida Heritage Book Festival has an expanded Writers Conference right in our own backyard. With more workshops, acclaimed keynoters, and a new location, it's worth checking out. The Writers Conference has moved to the St. Johns County Convention Center at Renaissance World Golf Village Resort (yes, that's a fancy name for the hotel), starting Thursday, September 13 with two concurrent 3-hour workshops presented by Adrian Fogelin and Sasha ZeBryk. That evening, also at WGV, bestselling author Jeff Lindsay will deliver the opening keynote address. Jeff is the author of the popular Dexter novels which served as the inspiration for the long-running Showtime series. The Writers Conference continues the next morning with a full day of workshops covering the craft and business of writing. More information next time, but all the details can be found on the FHBF website
  • The deadline for the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition is May 15. The competition has a $15 entry fee if submitted by May 1, $20 after that date. There's a $1,500 cash prize for the first place winner plus publication in Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts. Visit the website for more details.
  • And finally, there are children's book writers and children book writers. The New York Times reports on the growing trend of kid's as published authors (with the help of their parents). 

Keep burning up that word processor,

Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Friday, March 02, 2012

Time Marches On

Time does indeed march on, so let's not waste any of it. Here's the lowdown on FWA meetings and other happenings for writers in NE Florida.
  • River City Writers meet on Tuesday, March 13 at 7PM at the SE Branch Library. Group leader Gregg Golson will speak on "Creating a Setting that Both Defines and Confines Your Characters." Contact Gregg for more information.
  • Sharon Y. Cobb has a message every published author needs to hear — "How to Market Your Books." She's the guest speaker at the Ancient City Writers meeting on Saturday, March 17 at 10:15AM at St. Augustine's Main Library. Sharon says it doesn't matter if you're traditionally published, e-published or independently published, you still need to sell books. Sharon is a screenwriter and writing instructor at UNF. Her latest venture is the novel, False Confessions of a True Hollywood Screenwriter.
  • The Amelia Island Writers gather again on Tuesday, March 20 at 6:15PM at Books Plus in Fernandina Beach. Email Maggie de Vries for details.
  • Clay County Writers take up residence at the Fleming Island Library the next night, Wednesday, March 21 at 6:15PM. Group Leader Maureen Jung has more info.
  • Longtime FCCW member Lynn Rix moves into the president's seat for the First Coast Christian Writers, an affiliate of FWA. They meet each Thursday at 6:45PM at the West Regional Library. Visit the website or email them here.
  • Last but not least, the Ponte Vedra Writers return to the Ponte Vedra Library on Saturday, March 24 at 10:30AM. This month's speaker is Flagler College Creative Writing Instructor Laura Smith who will talk on "Writing the Short Story." Laura, who has many short story publishing credits, and will see her first novel, Hearts of Palm, published by Grove Atlantic next year, will discuss strategies for getting your stories into print and turning rejection into inspiration. 
And other happenings:
  • Florida Sisters in Crime take up the case tomorrow, Saturday, March 3 at 10:30AM at the SE Regional Library with an open house for all crime readers and writers. There will be refreshments, free books and doors prizes. Come and learn more about FSinC. Contact Pam Wells for information.
  • FWA invites you to the spring mini-conference, Saturday, April 21 in Altamonte Springs. The daylong conference features acquiring editors Salitza Hernandez from the L. Perkins Agency, and Nicole Resciniti with the Seymour Agency. Aside from keynoter Tim Dorsey, there will workshops on editing, memoir writing, poetry and marketing. The registration fee is only $59 for FWA members, $79 for non-members. But hurry, it's filling up fast. Click here for all the details.
  • If you're looking for a fun night out to support a good cause, then check out "The Golden Age of Piracy." And we're not talking about pirating films, music or books, but the "Ahoy Matey" kind of pirates. Dianne Jacoby will portray Anne Bonney, "Queen of the Pirates." There will be complimentary rum punch, tapas, door prizes, and you can come dressed as your favorite pirate if you want. The event benefits the Florida Heritage Book Festival, and takes place at the A1A Ale Works on Friday, March 30 at 5:00PM. Here's how to get your tickets.
  • And speaking of the Florida Heritage Book Festival, the Writers Conference portion of the festival has a new home. It's moving to the Renaissance Resort Hotel at World Golf Village, providing more interior space as well as plenty of free parking. The conference is expanding as well with two "super-sized" workshops on Thursday, September 13 followed by an opening keynoter by bestselling author Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels which served as the inspiration for the noted Showtime series. Returning to WGV the next day, there will be nine workshops and lunch, with the Literary Legends Banquet that evening. Most of the information is already posted on the FHBF website
  • The Douglas Anderson Writers' Festival continues tomorrow with readings and breakout sessions with 16 authors at UNF's Student Union Building, followed at 7PM with "An Evening with Margaret Atwood," at the UNF Robinson Theater. Atwood is much acclaimed as a writer of poetry, short fiction, novels and children's fiction. Read more about her on her website.
  • FPA is hosting it's Spring Fling Conference, "DIY Book Power," Saturday, April 14 at the Orlando Marriott Downtown. Read all about it here
  • The Nimrod International Journal announces a call for submissions to its 34th Annual Literary Awards. The competition covers both poetry and fiction and has a $20 entry fee, but offers a $2,000 first prize and publication, $1,000 second prize and publication. The Nimrod calls itself one of the oldest "little magazines" in the country.
  • Author Tony Timbol, Cybil Raven Chronicles, has started the Julington Creek Writers Group. They'll meet on Tuesday, March 27 at the Bartram Trail Library at 6PM. Email Tony for more info.
  • Circalit is having a science fiction short story contest. Find out more by clicking here.
  • Clark Library (Lockhart, TX) is holding a "Scare the Dickens Out of Us" short story contest offering a $1,000 first prize. There's also a Junior contest for ages 12 - 18. Sounds like fun, and here's where you'll find out more.
  • FSCJ offers a writers workshop at the Deerwood Center, April 9 and 10. Visit the website or contact Jenna Davis.
  • Ancient City Romance Writers welcomes Barbara Cameron to its March 24 meeting, 12:30PM at the SE Regional Library. Barbara will speak on "How Not to Shoot Yourself in the Foot on the Way to Publication." Contact Kathryn Bain for details.
  • Don't forget the Royal Palm Literary Awards competition is now open for submissions and ends on June 15.  Entry fees increase from $30 to $40 on April 1, and to $60 from June 1 to June 15. Now's the time to enter.
  • You might also want to submit to the FWA Collection #4, My Wheels. Entries are limited to 1,200 words and can have anything to do with wheels, literally or figuratively. Suspense author Julie Compton will select her top ten favorites for the front of the book. There is no entry fee, but you must be an FWA member to enter. Submission deadline is May 15. Good luck.
  • And finally, if you've thought about writing a mystery but wasn't sure how to get started, I'm teaching an Introduction to Mystery Writing 1-day workshop at UNF on Saturday, March 31. It runs from 9AM to 5PM and will cover the basics from identifying the genre to creating a compelling sleuth and villain. From how to plant clues and red herrings to building suspense. Visit the Learn Jacksonville website to register.
That will do it for now. I hope to see you at one of the FWA meetings or some other event. Don't forget to check the FWA NE Florida page on Facebook, and like us to keep up with breaking news.


Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

At Last

With a tip of the hat to the late, great Etta James, I say "At Last" the corrosive political ads have stopped, at least until the general election. I also say at last we can concentrate on our writing and make February the most productive month possible. Get a good jump on reaching your goals by attending one or more of these FWA meetings.

  • River City Writers meet on the second Tuesday of the month, February 14 at 7PM at the SE Branch Library. Contact Gregg Golson for details.
  • Noted editor and writing instructor Lynn Skapyak Harlin talks about how to edit your own work more effectively in her presentation to the Clay County Writers, Wednesday, February 15 at 6:15PM at the Fleming Island Library. In her talk, "Catharsis to Crystallization: Editing Your Writing Toward the Final Draft," Lynn will show you why 90% of manuscripts are rejected on the basis of the first page. Bring your first page to receive feedback. Contact Maureen Jung for meeting info.
  • Amelia Island Writers meet on the third Tuesday of the month at Books Plus in Fernandina Beach. This month's meeting is set for Tuesday, February 14 at 6:15PM. Group leader and store proprietor Maggie deVries can answer your questions.
  • There is no meeting of the Ancient City Writers this month.
  • Freelance photo-journalist Susan D. Brandenburg has many interests but after she traced her own family history, she realized she had a gift for writing what she calls "legacy books." She's turned that interest into a thriving business as a professional biographer. Susan talks about "Writing Biographies for Fun & Profit" at the February 25 meeting of the Ponte Vedra Writers, 10:30 AM at the Ponte Vedra Library. She'll talk about both the creative side of how to work with the subject of the biography, as well as the business end of it. 
  • First Coast Christian Writers, an affiliate of FWA, meets each Thursday evening at 6:45PM at the West Regional Library on South Chaffee Road. Tracy Redman has more information. 

Other happenings for writers of NE Florida:

  • The 2012 RPLA Competition is underway as of February 15th, 2012 and ends on June 15th, 2012. Remember that entry fees are always lowest at the start.  Visit the RPLA page on the FWA website to download the packages for fiction and non-fiction, and best of luck.
  • Florida Sisters in Crime, Saturday, February 4 at 10:30AM at the SE Regional Library. Guest speaker is Leighton Gage, author of the Chief Inspector Mario Silva Investigations, which are set in Brazil. FSiC also has a book club which meets the second Friday each month at 2PM at Panera's on Southside Blvd. in Arlington. Contact President Pam Wells for details.
  • Noted South Florida author John Dufresne makes two appearances on the First Coast. On Saturday, February 11, John presents "Write Your Novel in Six Months," a workshop at Flagler College from 9:30AM to 12:30PM. Registration and info here. And Monday, February 13 at 6:30PM, Dufresne is the featured author at the PV Library's Book Talk Cafe. He's the author of Requiem, Mass, Love Warps the Mind a Little, and Louisiana Power and Light, among other notable novels and short story collections.
  • If writing your novel in six months is too great a task, then sign up for Vic DiGenti's Novel in a Day workshop. It's scheduled for Saturday, February 11, from 9AM to 5PM, at UNF's Learning Center, and covers all the essential elements of writing a novel, from plot and structure, to character development and dialogue. Contact Valerie Murphy to register or check out the website.
  • Lynn Harlin launches her next Shanty Boat Workshop on Saturday, February 22 with a new series of writing classes. 
  • The Ancient City Romance Writers welcome Kelly L. Stone to its Saturday, February 25 meeting to tell you how to "Empower Your Muse." The meeting kicks off at 12:30PM at the SE Regional Library and guests are welcome.
  • The Amelia Island Book Festival has a great line-up of authors and writers' workshop scheduled for its 11th annual Festival. Check out all the details here.
  • Children's Book Writers  meet Thursday, February 9 at 6:30PM at the SE Regional Library. Guest speaker is Rik Feeney.
And finally, we all know that writers are curious by nature, and if you're like me, you've often wondered which literary works inspired the most ink — as in tatoos. Well, Publishers Weekly has the answer in this article listing the top 5 books which have inspired the most tatoos. Unscientific as the ranking may be, you'll have to admit it provides a piercing look at the subject.
    FWA members in action: Current FWA members should send me announcements of new books, awards, signings, etc. for inclusion in this blog.
    • FWA member Gary Zeiger has published Stingray: You Can't Hide Forever, a science-fiction adventure. It's available in print and ebook formats. Preview it on his website.

    Until next time, keep writing and I'll see you at the library.

    Victor DiGenti
    FWA Regional Director