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