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