Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Make it a December to remember

If you're an unpublished author looking for inspiration to get on next year's book-buying gift list, then visit one of the following area FWA group meetings.
  • River City Writers meet Tuesday, December 10 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library to hear from Ellen Thornton, author  of The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis. Ellen's book was awarded a Bronze Medal by the Military Writers Society of America, and she will speak about writing historical fiction and how she markets her book.
  • The Nassau County Youth Writers meet Tuesday, December 17 at 5:00 p.m. at Books Plus in Fernandina Beach. 
  • There will be no meeting of the Amelia Island Writers this month, but they will return in January in a new location and meeting date, the first Tuesday, January 7 at 6:15 p.m. at the Marina Restaurant.
  • Embedded in Clay is the title of the Clay County Writers anthology project, and it's the subject of the group's December meeting on Wednesday, the 18th at 6:15 p.m. at the Orange Park Library. Each writer will have three minutes to summarize their project and get feedback. Great project! Contact group leader Maureen Jung for more information.
  • Saturday, December 21 at 10:00 a.m. is when the Ancient City Writers Chapter meets at St. Augustine's Main Library. They'll hear from ebook production specialist John Simmons talking about the differences between ebooks and tree books. If you have questions about what's involved with formatting your book, John has the answers. The annual Christmas party follows John's presentation with refreshments, door prize drawings, and lots of books.
  • The Ponte Vedra Writers group will not meet this month due to the holiday. Instead, you are invited to join the Ancient City Writers meeting on the 21st. Join us in January when Richard Levine will kick off the New Year with an eye-opening presentation on book trailers.
  • The Jax Youth Writers will gather the day after Christmas, Thursday, December 26 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library. Contact group leader Kimberly Smith for details.
  • First Coast Christian Writers, an FWA affiliate, continue to meet each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at the Webb-Wesconnett Library.
More of interest for writers::
  • An earlier post listed FWA RPLA winners from NE Florida, but we neglected to list the top award—the Published Book of the Year for 2013—which went to J. Rivers Hodge for his novel, The Legend of Anne Southern. Jim, an FWA member and a Jacksonville resident, is married to his writing partner, Brenda. Congratulations to Jim and Brenda for being honored by his peers for his novel, which also took first place for Historical Fiction.
  • FWA is hosting a number of mini-conferences in 2014 starting with the First Annual Mid-Winter Conference West and Reading Festival to be held in downtown Bradenton, January 10 and 11. Click here for all the details.
  • Look for these other FWA events: The Lady Lake Memoir Mini-Conference, February 22, 2014; Southeast Mini-Conference in Plantation, FL on March 29; the 3rd Annual Writer's Nest Mini-Conference at Altamonte Springs, April 26th; a Poetry Mini-Conference on May 17th in the Sarasota/Venice area; the 2nd Annual Nonfiction Mini-Conference in Altamonte Springs, June 28; and the 6th Annual Florida Writers Foundation Celebrity Workshop, October 23 at the Lake Mary Marriott.
  • If you're still looking for a critique group, FWA member Susan Kiernan-Lewis is seeking writing partners for a new group she is forming in Jacksonville. Interested? Contact Susan at
  • Florida Sisters in Crime holds its annual Christmas party this Saturday, December 7 at 10:30 a.m. at the SE Branch Library.
  • The Ancient City Romance Writers will not meet this month.
  • IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association) issued its last call for submissions for the Benjamin Franklin Awards. The deadline is December 31. Visit the website for guidelines and details.
  • The 2013-2014 Los Angeles Book Festival has issued a call for entires to its annual celebration of books deserving more attention. The competition covers most genres and is open to independents and self-published works as well as those from traditional publishers. It offers a $1,500 cash prize and trip to L.A. for the winner. Guidelines can be found here.
And while we hope the holidays are not only bright for all of us, but warm as well, an old Inuit
proverb seems to fit the season: "May you have warmth in your igloo, oil in your lamp, and peace in you heart."

Happy holidays, 

Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Friday, November 01, 2013

Get ready for NaNoWriMo

Last year 341,375 people decided they'd write 50,000 words during the 30 days of November. They were part of the National Novel Writing Month challenge which kicks off today, Friday, November 1. There's a NaNoWriMo website where you can register and track your progress on a daily basis, if you wish. They also have a forum divided by geographic regions where you may chat with others and/or get together to encourage one another. Believe it or not, there are more than 400 writers already registered from the St. Augustine area. The official kick-off was midnight today, November 1. Jump in and give it a try. Good luck.

When you're not knocking out your 1,666 words a day you might visit one of this month's FWA writers group meetings for even more motivation. Here's what's planned for November:

  •  Chris Berman will be the speaker at the River City Writers group meeting on Tuesday, November 12. The group meets at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library to hear Chris talk about how he incorporates historical figures in his novels. Gregg Golson has more information.
  • Learn how to build more suspense into your fiction at this month's meeting of the Ancient City Writers, 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 16 at St. Augustine's Main Library. Award-winning mystery author Parker Francis (aka Vic DiGenti) presents, "The Suspense is Killing Me," an interactive workshop providing clues on how to stretch the tension, raise the stakes and layer on the suspense to keep the reader hooked. 
  • The Nassau County Youth Writers meet on Tuesday, November 19 at Books Plus in Fernandina Beach. The youth group meets at 5:00 p.m., followed immediately at 6:15 p.m. by the adult FWA group, the Amelia Island Writers.
  • Maureen Jung, the Clay County Writers group leader will facilitate the Wednesday, November 20 meeting at the Orange Park Library. Meeting at 6:15 p.m., the group will discuss "Goal Setting for Writers," There will be an exercise on mapping your goals, and the group will also discuss the anthology project that's underway. Contact Maureen at
  • FWA affiliate group, First Coast Christian Writers, meets each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at the Webb-Wesconnett Library.
  • There will be no meeting of the Jax Youth Writers this month due to the holiday. They will return on December 26.
  • Because this month's date of the Ponte Vedra Writers meeting falls on the beginning of both Thanksgiving week and Hanukkah, plus the fact the group leader will be MIA, you are encouraged to join the Ancient City Writers on the 16th to get your writing fix. Or you may attend any of the other meetings if you wish.
In other news:
Chrissy Jackson
  • You missed a good one if you missed this year's FWA Conference several weekends ago. The good news is FWA will have six mini-conferences in 2014 all over the state starting with a two-day Reading Festival January 10-11 in Bradenton. Other mini-conferences will be held in  Lady Lake, Plantation, and two in Altamonte Springs. Two others are in the planning stages set for Tampa and Sarasota. 
  • In other FWA news: Our esteemed leader Ms. Chrissy Jackson serves out the remainder of her second term this year and will be replaced by Chris Coward. Chrissy has done a phenomenal job leading our organization as both VP and President, and she will stay on the board as Director Emeritus assisting with the conferences. Chris Hamilton was elected as Executive Vice President and the treasurer and secretary positions retitled as Vice Presidents.
  • You can stay on top of all  FWA news via the FWA Network. If you haven't registered as a member of the network you're missing out on a great resource.
  • Congratulations to all the RPLA winners, including several from our Northeast Florida region: Dean Lohse, Heather Hamel, Kimberly Smith and Melissa Kosciuszko were among the winners from our area. Also Jeff Swesky and Bridget Callaghan, formerly from St. Augustine and Palm Coast, won for Best Screenplay (Unpublished) and also received the Dahris Clair Memorial Award for the screenplay, Thornetta: The Musical.
  • Florida Sisters in Crime members gather around the crime scene this Saturday, November 2 at the SE Regional Library. They'll hear from Susan Kiernan-Lewis, author of over 15 books. Susan will present "Birth of a Series" in Meeting Room A.
  • First Coast Romance Writers meets Saturday, November 9 at 10:30 a.m. at the Chaffee Road Library to hear cookbook author Belinda Hulin present two workshops: "Cooking Up Spicy Romance Fiction: Enriching Fiction Through Food Imagery," and "Secrets of Print and Digital Media." Belinda was the former editor of SKIRT! Magazine and the former Times-Union Food Editor.
  • The Ponte Vedra Critique group is looking to add a few more writers to the group. They meet twice a month at the Ponte Vedra Library. If you're interested contact Mary Kohnke at 904-285-3452.
  • The Attic Girls, a S. Florida critique group led by Jade Kerrion (she won three RPLA's at the recent conference) is hosting a short story contest deadlined November 15. The contest is open to any genre with a limit of 1,500 words. There's a $5 entry fee. Read the contest guidelines here.
Until next month, keep writing, especially if you're hoping to complete a novel in a month. I'll leave you with this final quote by the late, great Ray Bradbury:

"Write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.

Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

October Rocks

Writers may be forgiven if they give in to flights of fancy and grandiose phrases, so when FWA selected as its conference title, "The Greatest Writers Conference on Earth," it was an understandable piece of marketing hyperbole. That's not to say FWA's 12th Annual Writers Conference, October 18 - 20, won't be great. They usually are, and with so much more to offer this year they just might live up to the title.

As usual, writers may pitch agents and publishers, network with bestselling authors and learn from the pros. Bestselling romance/suspense writer Mary Burton precedes the conference with her day-long Foundation Celebrity Workshop, "Writing Your Book ... The First Step." In the workshop, Mary reveals her real world secrets to writing success. Mary has been dubbed "the queen of modern-day romantic suspense." The workshop benefits the Florida Writers Foundation which helps promote literacy and enhance writing skills throughout the state. Read more about the workshop by clicking here.

The conference also includes all the craft and marketing workshops you could hope for, plus the annual Royal Palm Literary Awards dinner. And for the first time, FWA is holding a youth conference for writers under the age of 18. The deadline for registration is October 9. After that you'll have to register on site. So visit this site for all the information and to register.

Here's what's happening at our FWA NE Florida Writers Groups this month:

  • River City Writers meets this month on Tuesday, October 8 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library. Group leader Gregg Golson reports that author Jamie Engle is the guest speaker. Jaime, pictured at right, recently launched her debut novel, Clifford Chase and the Arrow of Light. She'll talk about her writing process and how she's marketing the novel. For more information on this meeting please contact Gregg at
  • Nassau County Youth Writers meets on the third Tuesday of the month, October 15 at 5:00 p.m. at Books Plus in Fernandina Beach.
  • Amelia Island Writers have their meeting immediately following the Youth Writers on the 15th at Books Plus, around 6:15 p.m. Maggie deVries, proprietor of Books Plus, is the group leader.
  • FWA's Clay County Writers group meets on Wednesday, October 16 at 6:15 p.m. at the Orange Park Library, 2054 Plainfield Avenue, behind the Dairy Queen. Group leader Maureen Jung has another intriguing program, "The Art of Book Trailers." Richard Levine discusses the what, why and how of book trailers. 
  • The Ancient City Writers of St. Augustine will not have a meeting this month as they will be attending the "Greatest Conference on Earth" in Lake Mary. They invite you to join them at the conference, and attend the Ponte Vedra Writers meeting on the 26th. While you're waiting, check out their new website created by Sharon Buck.
  • Jax Youth Writers meet on Thursday, October 24 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library to hear FWA Regional Director and mystery author Vic DiGenti (aka Parker Francis) talk about the importance of becoming a good storyteller. Contact group leader Kimberly Smith for more details.
  • First Coast Christian Writers, an affiliate of FWA, meets each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at the Webb-Wesconnett Library.
  • If you enjoyed Bev Browning's double session on writing humor at last Friday's Florida Heritage
    Book Festival Writers Conference, you'll want to be at the Saturday, October 26 meeting of the Ponte Vedra Writers. Bev returns to present her popular "Shimmer" workshop. Bev says, knowing how to craft a sentence to manipulate response and amplify meaning is a technical amalgamation of art and science. Once mastered, it's the difference between a good piece and a great one. The technique's name, "Shimmer," refers to the transparent layers that create subtle dimension in written work. There will be a few writing exercises so bring your writing supplies, and did we mention there's chocolate involved?  What's not to like?

More happenings for writers:
  • Florida Sisters in Crime meets Saturday, October 5 at 10:30 a.m. at the SE Branch Library to hear from psychologist Linda Willson. Her topic, "The Therapist Goes to Jail — Often."
  • First Coast Romance Writers offer two workshops on Saturday October 12 at the Chaffee Road Library. Catherine Kean conducts the morning session starting at 10:30 a.m. with a workshop on "Figurative Language." She'll show you how to use figurative language to enrich your characters and stories. Catherine hangs around for the afternoon session and is joined by T. Elliott Brown and Caro Carson talking about their radio show for writers and indie publishers. Visit the website for more information.
  • Register for the Ancient City Romance Writers 2013 Fiction Writer's Conference On the Beach, October 25-26 at Hampton Inn St. Augustine Beach. The conference welcomes authors Elizabeth Sinclair, Kathryn J. Bain, Nancy Quatrano and Delores J. Wilson. Visit the ACRA website for more information.
  • If you're looking for a reason to visit lovely Southwest Florida, the Pine Island Chamber of Commerce is hosting Matlacha Authors Days, November 30 and December 1 in Matlacha Park. It's billed as an opportunity "to promote your book, your writing and yourself." Each author will have a chance to talk about, sign and sell their books. There's a per author cost of $75. More details can be found here.
  • Frances Keiser and Jane Wood, aka "Get Book Savvy," announce the start of the Authors Network, a place to network with other writers and have your questions answered by professionals. Their first meeting is Tuesday, October 29 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Applebees in St. Augustine, 225 State Road 312 near US 1. There's a $20 per person cost. Contact Jane at for more information.
  • For those of you who plan ahead and like to travel, novelist, short story writer and creative writing professor John Dufresne will be at the Seaside Institute's Academic Village, February 6 to 8, 2014 for a short story workshop. It's limited to only 12 participants. For more information and to register for the workshop, visit the Seaside Institute's website.
  • And while we're planning ahead, FWA is hosting a two-day Reading Festival in downtown Bradenton on January 10-11, 2014. The event is open to the public and will include workshops, agents/publishers interview, and author readings. Visit the FWA Conference page for details.
I'll see you at the "Greatest Writers Conference on Earth."

Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Registration Time Is Here

As writers we should take advantage of the excellent workshops and conferences around us. FWA's annual conference is coming up in October, and we need to support that. There's another conference coming next month in St. Augustine, and it also offers first rate speakers and the opportunity to learn and network with your fellow writers.

Here's a look at the Florida Heritage Book Festival Writers Conference, September 26-27 at the St. Johns County Convention Center at Renaissance World Golf Village. It kicks off Thursday afternoon with two "Super-Sized" 3-hour workshops. "Stories from Your Life" is presented by award-winning short fiction author Philip Deaver, pictured, who will show us how to adapt real-life situations and characters into fiction. The other workshop, "Quieting Your Inner Critic," with writing and yoga instructor Lezlie Laws, covers specific ways to turn your life around if you're feeling frustrated and find it hard to write.

Conference registration includes the reception that evening and keynote talk by New York Times bestselling author Andrew Gross. Gross wrote six #1 thrillers (Judge & Jury and Lifeguard, among them) with James Patterson before going on to write his own bestselling thrillers including Eyes Wide Open and 15 Seconds. He's titled his keynote talk "Why Thrillers Matter." The reception and keynote may be purchased separately by the general public, but are included with the conference registration.

Friday's workshops include two tracks: the craft of writing and the business of writing. Writing workshops include writing short stories, memoirs, travel writing, and humor writing. On the business side are workshops on
establishing your own independent publishing business, and several marketing sessions. One of the key features is the luncheon with keynoter Tim Dorsey. Dorsey, pictured at left, is the bestselling author of the Serge Storms thrillers, and his talk is titled, "Florida: A Target Rich Environment for Writers.".

Registration covers lunches for both days, Friday's continental breakfast and the Thursday evening reception and keynote by Andrew Gross. The Early Bird discount price of $125 covers both days and is available through September 10 only before increasing to $150. So it's best to register now.

Or you might consider the Complete Package registration which includes Friday night's reception and Literary Legends Banquet honoring internationally known author John Jakes. Jakes is the author of more than 50 novels and 200 short stories, including the acclaimed series, The Kent Family Chronicles and North and South, both of which were made into television miniseries. The Early Bird registration fee for the conference and banquet is $195, and increases to $215 after September 10. Visit this page to complete your registration.

And here's what's happening at September's FWA meetings:
  • River City Writers meets Tuesday, September 10 at 7:00 p.m. at the S. E. Branch Library. Group leader Gregg Golson has more details.
  • Nassau County Youth Writers meets Tuesday, September 17 at 5:00 p.m. at Books Plus in Fernandina Beach. Open to all young writers. See below for some of the exciting activities Jim Weinsier's group is undertaking.
  • Amelia Island Writers assemble for their monthly meeting immediately after the Youth Writers on Tuesday, September 17, 6:15 p.m. at Books Plus. Contact group leader Maggie deVries at 904-321-6180 with questions.
  • Be part of the Clay County Writers meeting on Wednesday, September 18 at 6:15 p.m. at the Orange Park Library when author and former FSCJ writing instructor Howard Denson presents, "The Wrong Stuff: Findings of a Forensic Grammarian."
  • Because the FWA Conference falls on the weekend of the Ponte Vedra Writers meeting and
    your fearless leader will be in Lake Mary, there will be a combined meeting of the PV Writers and the Ancient City Writers on Saturday, September 21, 10:00 a.m. at the St. Augustine Main Library. Our special speaker is Mark Ari (call him Ari), a very creative man who wears many  hats. Ari is leading a Flash Fiction workshop he calls "The Wink of Immediacy." Flash covers a wide range of possibilities in fiction and creative nonfiction, and Ari will lead us through some of them. Be sure to bring paper and pen with you. Ari publishes fiction, poetry and nonfiction. His work has appeared in many literary journals and he edits and produces a series of digital audio chapbooks, along with teaching creative writing at the University of North Florida.
  • Jax Youth Writers will gather on Thursday, September 26 at 7:00 p.m. at the S. E. Branch Library. Kimberly Smith has more information.
  • FWA affiliate First Coast Christian Writers is still meeting each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at the Webb-Wesconnett Library.
More happenings:
  • As mentioned above, the Nassau County Youth Writers group is staying busy this summer. Group leader Jim Weinsier reports the young writers will be writing a regular column for the Fernandina Beach News-Leader, as well as working on a pre-K book to be distributed by the library and Family Support Services. Contact Jim if you know a young person who would like to be involved.
  • Florida Sisters in Crime members meet Saturday, September 7 at 10:30 a.m. at the S. E. Branch Library to hear from Jimmy A. Holderfield, Director of Dept. of Corrections, Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. Visit their website for more information.
  • First Coast Romance Writers meets Saturday, September 14 at 10:30 a.m. at the Chaffee Road Library. Romance author Amy Atwell will present two workshops beginning with "Staging the Multiple Character Scene," and ending with "All About Amazon."
  • Ancient City Romance Writers welcomes JSO Detective Tommy Herrington for a Q&A session on Saturday, September 28 at 11:00 a.m. at the S. E. Branch Library.
  • Did I mention FWA is staging its annual conference October 18 - 20 in Lake Mary. It offers all the bells and whistles you've come to expect, including agents, editors and publishers, plus the Royal Palm Literary Awards dinner and much more. On Thursday, the day before the
    conference officially cranks up, bestselling romantic/suspense novelist Mary Burton, pictured, leads the pre-conference workshop. Also, for the first time ever, FWA is holding a conference for Youth Writers to be held on Saturday, October 19 at the Orlando Marriott in Lake Mary. One more item of interest: Jacksonville's own Michael Wiley, award-winning author of the Joe Kozmarski Mysteries, is this year's Person of Interest for FWA Collection #5, It's A Crime. He's selected his Top Ten and will be a keynoter at the conference as well as presenting a crime writing workshop on Friday morning. Check out the schedule and be sure to register for "The Greatest Writers Conference on Earth."
  • Clay County Writers and Black Horse Winery present another Meet the Authors evening on Tuesday, September 10 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the winery, 420 Kingsley Avenue in Orange Park. Featured authors are Howard Denson, Timothy Gilmore and J. Dianne Tribble.
  • Janet Walter, the former leader of the local chapter of  SCBWI, Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators, is looking for a critique partner to exchange manuscripts and offer critical feedback. If you're interested, contact Janet at
  • Editor Beth Mansbridge facilitates the Professional Writers Group on the first Thursday of each month (except December) from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the St. Johns County SE Branch Library, 6670 U.S. 1 South in St. Augustine. To learn more, contact Beth at
  • Congratulations to FWA members Terry Williams and Vic DiGenti (writing as Parker Francis) whose books are finalists for the 2013 President's Award from the Florida Authors & Publishers Association (FAPA). Terry was recognized for his military thriller Cooper's Revenge. Parker's second Quint Mitchell Mystery, Bring Down the Furies, was chosen in the Adult Fiction — Mystery category. The winners will be named at the President Awards Banquet on September 21 at the annual FAPA conference in Daytona Beach.
Until next time, keep reading and keep writing. Hope to see you at one of the upcoming meetings or conferences.

Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Thursday, August 01, 2013

So much to do. So little time.

Chapters to write. Edits to make. Conferences to attend. And guests are on the way. Somehow, it looks like August may be one of the busiest months of the year, so let's not waste any time. Here's what's happening this month and beyond for NE Florida writers. Dive in, the water's fine.

  • River City Writers meets Tuesday, August 13 at 7:00 p.m. at the S. E. Branch Library. Group leader Gregg Golson can give you more details. Email him at
  • The Ancient City Writers welcome the return visit of Rik Feeney on Saturday, August 17 at 10:00 a.m. at St. Augustine's Main Library (next to the carousel). Rik's topic is "Titles, Covers, & Back Cover Copy Blurbs." He'll talk about these keys to good design and how they help sell your book.
  • Nassau County Youth Writers meet Tuesday, August 20 at 5:00 p.m. at Books Plus in Fernandina Beach. All young writers under the age of 18 are welcome.
  • Adult writers can join the Amelia Island Writers at Books Plus on August 20 immediately following the Youth Writers at Books Plus at 6:15 p.m. Bookstore proprietor Maggie deVries is also the group leader. You may reach her at 904-321-6180.
  • If you're an Orange Park writer, then you'll want to join the Clay County Writers meeting on Wednesday August 21at 6:15 p.m. at the Orange Park Library. Area author Chris Berman presents "Believable Fiction Using Fact-Based History to Build Your Story." Contact Maureen Jung for more details.
  • Jax Youth Writers, under the leadership of Kimberly Smith, meet Thursday, August 22 at 7:00 p.m. at the S. E. Branch Library.
  • FWA affiliate First Coast Christian Writers meets each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at the Webb-Wesconnett Library.
  • There will be no meeting of the Ponte Vedra Writers at the Ponte Vedra Library this month due to extenuating circumstances involving too much to do and to little time. Please attend one of the other FWA meetings.
But wait, there's more ...
  • It's being called "The Greatest Writers Conference on Earth," FWA's 12th Annual Conference, October 18 - 20, 2013. Perhaps a bit of hyperbole in the title, but FWA's conference always offers quality workshops by qualified professionals. You may pitch to agents, publishers and editors and attend the Royal Palm Literary Awards dinner. Once again held at the Orlando Marriott Lake Mary, it's an easy drive of less than two hours and definitely worth the investment of time and money. Register now. Click here for more information.
  • Closer to home and one month earlier is the 6th Annual Florida Heritage Book Festival & Writers Conference, September 26 - 28. The event combines writers workshops, opportunities to meet bestselling authors and much more. The Writers Conference, September 26-27, offers extended 3-hour workshops on Thursday and a full-day of 1-hour workshops on Friday covering both the craft and marketing of writing. Conference registration includes lunches, breakfast on Friday and keynote talks by Andrew Gross and Tim Dorsey. The literary Legends banquet on Friday evening will honor John Jakes, award-winning historical author of mega-selling books like the North and South trilogy and The Kent Family Chronicles. All of this takes place at the St. Johns County Convention Center at Renaissance World Golf Village Resort in St. Augustine.  Here's the conference schedule and registration information.
  • In case you're looking for even more conferences to attend, FAPA, the Florida Authors & Publishers Association, presents its Fall Conference, September 20-21 at the Daytona Beach Resort and Conference Center. More info here.
  • If you haven't made your RSVP already, it may be too late to attend the Florida Sisters in Crime workshop with Georgia author and former police officer Jaclyn Weldon White this Saturday at the S. E. Regional Branch Library. Jaclyn will present two workshops on writing suspense and true crime beginning at 10:30 a.m. with a break for lunch. Contact Pam Wells for additional information.
  • If you're thinking of writing a romance novel you may want to attend the August 10 meeting of the First Coast Romance Writers. The group is holding an open house to acquaint writers with the Romance Writers of America and the First Coast Chapter. It starts at 10:15 a.m. at the Chaffee Road Library. Beth Irwin has the details.
  • The Clay County Writers group teams up with Black Horse Winery once again to present another Meet the Authors program. This one starts at 6:30 p.m. at the winery, 420 Kingsley Avenue in Orange Park, and features authors Russ Kamradt, Sandi Gordon, Sonserra Hayden and Tracy Maxwell.
  • Ancient City Romance Writers welcomes editor Kathleen McMajon on Saturday, August 24 at 1:00 p.m. at (you guessed it) the S. E. Branch Library. Kathleen's subject is "Editing the Way an Editor Sees It, AKA: Don't Shoot the Messenger." Kathy Bain has more info.
  • June Weltman teaches her mystery writing class again, starting September 12 at Mandarin High School. The 8-week course, "Writing Mysteries for Children and Teens," is part of the Duval County School Systems Adult Education program. Email June at about registration details.
  • The Florida Book Awards is accepting entries for this year. Any Florida author with a book published in 2013 is eligible. Check out all the categories and submission details at their website.
Kudos to area writers:
  • Former diplomat and consul John Tinney's memoir, From the Inside Out, has been published by the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training and New Academia Publications.
  • Nancy Murray's newest book, The Madonnas of St. Augustine, is a finalist in the 2013 International Book Awards, and has received the Seal of Approval from the Catholic Writers Guild.
  • Cheri Roman announces the launch of her debut novel, Descent (Book One of the Raphaim Series) with a launch party on Saturday, August 31 at 2:00 p.m. at the Bartram Trail Branch Library.
  • And congratulations to St. Augustine thriller writer Steve Berry. Steve was honored at the International Thriller Writers annual conference with the 2013 Literary Silver Bullet Award.
Time is short so I'll leave you with these short cuts. W. Somerset Maugham said, "There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are."

Enjoy the last month of summer, 2013.

Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Saturday, June 29, 2013

What's the password?

Living in the cloud era has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the biggest disadvantage for me is having to remember countless user names and passwords to access my various accounts and devices. Just this week I was locked out of my online bank account, my Apple account and my iPhone account because my passwords were not recognized. Even worse, Apple didn't accept the answers to my security questions.

My wife tells me not remembering passwords is a sign of creeping senility, but I'm sure it's all part of a government conspiracy to drive me bonkers. There must be a story here, and I'll write it as soon as I find the password for my Word software. In the meantime, here's what's happening for July and in the coming months for area writers. You're invited to join us ... and you don't need a password.

  • River City Writers meets Tuesday, July 9 at 7:00 p.m. at the S.E. Branch Library. Group leader Gregg Golson has secured noted "Book Buzz" specialist Sandra Beckwith to deliver a talk via Skype on how best to market your book before and after publication. Contact Gregg via email for more information.
  • Nassau County Youth Writers assemble at Books Plus in Fernandina Beach, Tuesday, July 16 at 5:00 p.m.
  • Amelia Island Writers will meet immediately after the Nassau County Youth group at Books Plus. Contact Maggie deVries with questions at 904-321-6180.
  • Guest speaker Robert Lucas, VP of Florida Authors & Publishers Association, presents "Capitalize on Your Writing Strategies for Recognition and Making Money," at the July 17 meeting of Clay County Writers. The meeting takes place at 6:15 p.m. at the Orange Park Library, 2054 Plainfield Avenue in Orange Park.
  • The Ancient City Writers continue this month's marketing theme on Saturday, July 20, 10:00 a.m. at St. Augustine Main Library when they hear from marketing and PR specialist Holly Feist. Holly's talk, "How to Guarantee Your Book Won't Sell," enumerates the seven deadly sins authors should avoid when marketing their books.
  • Not to be outdone on the marketing front, the Ponte Vedra Writers, meeting Saturday, July 27 at 10:30 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Library, welcomes Matt Bracken to discuss his
    • success as an independent author. Matt is a former Navy Seal who has written a series of what he calls "semi-dystopian" novels set in the near future. The books have caught the eye of many readers to the tune of selling 100,000 books. And Matt's done it all himself as an independent publisher. He'll track his 100,000 book journey from print to e-books to audiobooks. Among the things we'll learn from Matt are these three things: 1) Why this is the golden age for independent publishers; 2) Nuts & Bolts: What works and what doesn't— some tricks of the trade and some insights, and 3) Niche marketing in the digital age.
  • Also this month, Jax Youth Writers will meet on Thursday, July 25 at 7:00 p.m. at the S. E. Branch Library. Kimberly Smith has more information.
  • And finally, FWA affiliate First Coast Christian Writers meets each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at the Webb-Wesconnett Library.
In other happenings:
  • The Clay County Writers and Black Horse Winery present another in the "Meet the Author" series on Tuesday, July 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Black Horse Winery, 420 Kingsley Avenue in Orange Park. The featured authors include Rodney Hurst, It was Never About a Hot Dog and a Coke: A Personal Account of the 1960 Sit-In Demonstrations and Axe-Handle Saturday. And Robert W. Lucas, Make Money Writing Books: Proven Profit-Making Strategies for Authors.
  • First Coast Romance Writers prepare for the annual RWA National Conference with two workshops at its Saturday, July 13 meeting, beginning at 10:15 a.m. at the Chafee Road Library. The morning workshop will deal with the conference itself, networking suggestions, choosing the proper workshops, etc., while the afternoon workshop covers the art of the pitch.
  • North Florida Writers meets Saturday, July 13 at 2:00 p..m. at the Webb-Wesconett Library.
  • Take advantage of the early-bird discount fees and register now for September's Florida Heritage Book Festival Writers Conference. The day-and-a-half conference is packed with workshops by
    seasoned pros and award-winning authors. Starting Thursday, afternoon, September 26 at the St. Johns County Convention Center at Renaissance World Golf Center with two three-hour workshops by Philip Deaver and Lezlie Laws followed by a panel discussion about "This Writing Life" and a reception and keynote talk by New York Times bestselling author Andrew Gross. Friday's workshops follow two tracks, one on the craft of writing, the other track on marketing. The Friday luncheon promises to be most entertaining with a keynote talk by Tim Dorsey. Register for either day individually, or both days or a complete package which includes the Friday evening Literary Legends Banquet honoring John Jakes, pictured above. Here's the link to the registration page.
  • Short fiction and novel writing are the topics of the full-day "Lake Annie Workshop" presented by Laura Lee Smith and Kim Bradley in Hawthorne, Florida on Saturday, September 14. Visit the website for details.
  • The Jim Henson Company and Grosset & Dunlap of the Penguin Young Readers Group will be accepting submissions to find the author of a new novel set in the world of Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal. Click here for details.
  • The Florida Author's & Publishers Association holds its Fall Conference September 20 and 21 in Daytona Beach. The conference theme is "Money Making Strategies for Authors and Publishers.  Details at the FAPA website.
  • And while we're talking conferences, let's not forget the annual FWA Conference is right around the corner, October 18 - 20. Billed as "The Greatest Writers Conference on Earth," it will be held once again at the Orlando Marriott Lake Mary and feature agents, publishers, editors and great workshops of all kinds. Prior to the conference, bestselling romance/suspense celebrity author Mary Burton will give a daylong workshop to benefit the Florida Writer Foundation.
Until next time, I'll leave you with one final word about passwords from Clifford Stoll, The Cuckoo's Egg, who said, "Treat your password like your toothbrush. Don't let anybody else use it, and get a new one every six months."

Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Friday, May 31, 2013

FWA June Update

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter – it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” ~ Mark Twain

Pardon me while I hunt and peck, searching for the right words to tell you about all the happenings in June and beyond. Summer may be here, but we have a full slate of FWA meetings and conferences and workshops on the horizon so let's not tarry looking for lightning bugs.
  • River City Writers will meet on Tuesday, June 11 at 7:00 p.m. at the S.E. Branch Library. Guest speaker Cheyenne Knopf, Marketing Manager of, will discuss "How to Avoid the Pitfalls of Self-Publishing." Group leader Gregg Golson has all the details.
  • Ancient City Writers meets on Saturday, June 15 at 10:00 a.m. at St. Augustine's Main Library. Memoirist and writing instructor Patricia Charpentier, author of Eating an Elephant: Write Your Life One Bite at a Time, presents, "Moments to Memoir." Learn to write your life story for yourself or your family, or the world. 
  • Nassau County Youth Writers gather together at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 18 at Books Plus in Fernandina Beach. Contact James Weinsier or Arlyse McDowell at for more information.
  • Maggie deVries leads the Amelia Island Writers group meeting at 6:15 p.m. on the 18th, immediately following the Youth Writers meeting at Books Plus.
  • FWA's Clay County Writers convene at 6:15 p.m. at the Orange Park Library on Wednesday, June 19. Guest speaker and award-winnin author Sohrab Homi Fracis shares his secrets, tips and insights into "Writing Fiction Well." Group leader Maureen Jung has details.
  • Jax Youth Writers meet Thursday, June 27 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Library. Contact Kimberly Smith for more information.
  • The Ponte Vedra Library is the site of this months gathering of the Ponte Vedra Writers, Saturday, June 29 at 10:00 a.m. Former New York publishing sales rep Marty Conroy has kept an appraising eye on the state of the publishing industry and shares his findings with us in his presentation titled, "Everyone is Gutenberg–The Realities of Publishing in the Post ebook World." Conroy, who worked with the Big 5 publishers for over 30 years in sales and marketing, will focus on the distribution pipeline, how books are sold, niche marketing and the future of the publishing industry.
  • The Serivilous Panerians Critique Group meets twice monthly on the second and fourth Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. at the Panera Restaurant in St. Johns Town Center. Contact Cheri Romaine for info.
  • FWA affiliate First Coast Christian Writers meets each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at the Webb-Wesconett Library.
But wait, there's more:
  • Florida Sisters in Crime welcomes Kathryn Bain to their meeting tomorrow, Saturday, June 1, 10:30 a.m. at the SE Regional Library. Kathryn will host "The What If Game."
  • Publishing pros Jane Wood and Fran Keiser will lead a guided tour for children's book writers looking for tips on how to get published. "Oh, the Places You'll Go," is a 4-hour workshop scheduled for tomorrow, June 1, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Flagler College Student Center. The workshop is presented by the Florida Heritage Book Festival and covers publishing options, book design and printing, illustrations and photographs, marketing, distribution and more. Still time to show up and pay at the door the $99 fee. 
  • Clay County Writers present another in its "Meet the Author" series held at Black Horse Winery, Tuesday, June 11 at 6:30 p.m. Come and hear from area authors. If you'd like to participate, contact Maureen Jung.
  • FWA presents a Nonfiction Mini-Conference on Saturday, June 22 at the University Club in Winter Park, Florida. Cost is $60 for FWA members and $80 for nonmembers. Faculty includes Rik Feeney, Chrissy Jackson, FWA President, Bob Lucas, Florida Publishers Association President, The History Press acquisition editor Chad Rhoad, journalist Larry Leech, and more.
  • Registration is now open for the Florida Heritage Book Festival Writers Conference, September 26 & 27 at World Golf Village. The Conference kicks off with a boxed lunch on Thursday afternoon followed by two 3-hour workshops, "Quieting Your Inner Critic" with Lezlie Laws, and "Stories from Your life" with Philip Deaver. Registration includes the evening reception and keynote by New York Times bestselling author Andrew Gross. Friday's workshops cover memoir and travel writing, book marketing, writing humor, short story writing and more. The luncheon keynote speaker is the indomitable Tim Dorsey. Visit the FHBF website for schedule and registration information.
  • Early bird registration fee for the complete package at the Florida Heritage Book Festival & Writers Conference is only $195 and includes both conference days, both lunches, the Andrew Gross reception and keynote and the Literary Legends Banquet honoring John Jakes. Click here to go to the registration page.
  • The Friends of the Ponte Vedra Library present the third annual Ponte Vedra Book Fair featuring ten area authors. The Book Fair is scheduled for Monday, June 17 at 6:00 p.m. at the PV Library and will feature authors Carolee Bertisch, Walking to the BeatMargaret BrownThat Time, That Place, That WarConnie Davis, Flicks & Tricks, Howard Denton, Mowbray and the Sharks, Walter de Jesus Fitzwater, Cuba, The Island I Treasure, Keith Gockenbach, Power Fade, Diane Harper, Love, Greed and Lies, Chris Hejmanowski, Collider, Ron Whittington, Doppelganged and Lori Zuberi, The Lost Pearl.
  • Writers Laura Lee Smith, Heart of Palm, and Kim Bradley present a joint workshop on writing the novel and the short story on September 14. The Lake Annie Workshop will be held in a lakeside cabin in Hawthorne, Florida, about an hour from St. Augustine, and feature a series of morning workshops. After lunch, the pair will workshop participants fiction and end with tips on the business of publishing, agents and marketing. Click here for all the details.
Until next time, I remain in search of those elusive lightning bugs.

Best regards,

Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Springing Ahead

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

The pros understand what's important when it comes to the craft of writing. Rewriting. Revision. More rewriting. In a 1958 Paris Review interview, Ernest Hemingway was asked how much rewriting he did.

"It depends," he answered. "I rewrote the ending of Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, 39 times before I was satisfied."

When asked what had stumped him to do so many rewrites, he responded simply, "Getting the words right."

In our rush to see a finished product we sometimes forget about getting the words right, and fail to take the time to do one more revision or to have our manuscripts professionally edited. Or, to carry it one step farther, to keep up with the world of writing by attending workshops and conferences. So, here's what opportunities await you this month.
  • The River City Writers meets on Tuesday, May 14 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library to hear from author Linda Rondeau who will speak on self-editing. Linda is the 2012 Selah Award Winner for best new novel - The Other Side of Darkness. Contact group leader Gregg Golson for more information.
  • Maureen Jung leads the Clay County Writers who next meet on Wednesday, May 15 at the Orange Park Library at 6:15 p.m. Maureen's speaker is Tim Gilmore, Ph.D. writing instructor at FSCJ. He'll speak on “Writing About Place: How to Let the Local Haunt You.” Place can play a dramatic role in a story, whether your genre is fiction or nonfiction. Too many authors neglect the power of place to bring their stories to life. Dr. Gilmore explains how to explore, research, and appreciate local places, and how to translate your exploration into writing.
  • The Ancient City Writers chapter of FWA meets Saturday, May 18 at St. Augustine's Main Library at 10:00 a.m. Elizabeth Sinclair presents a workshop on "Goal, Motivation & Conflict or How to Sustain Book-Length Fiction." Elizabeth is the author of 23 novels, sold in ten foreign countries and won a number of national awards.
  • Serivilous Panerians is the fancy name of the critique group formed by Cheri Roman and now under the FWA banner. The group meets twice a month on second and fourth Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. at the Panera Restaurant in Town Center. Contact Cheri for more information at
  • There's a double whammy of writing on Tuesday, May 21 at Books Plus in Fernandina Beach. First the new Nassau County Youth Writers meet at 5:00 p.m. under the auspices of James Weinsier and Arlyse McDowell. Email them at This is followed immediately at 6:15 p.m. by the adult FWA Amelia Island Writers group. Call Maggie deVries for more information at 904-321-6180.
  • Jax Youth Writers of the FWA Young Writers program meet Thursday, May 23 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Library. All youth under the age of 18 are invited. Contact Kimberly Smith for details.
  • FWA affiliate First Coast Christian Writers meets each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at the Webb-Wesconnett Library.
  • Flagler College creative writing instructor Dr. James Wilson makes a return appearance to the Ponte Vedra Writers on Saturday, May 25 at 10:30 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Library. Jim, who is the co-organizer of the "Other Words" Conference and is a member of the Florida Literary Arts Coalition board, will address "Moving to Metaphor." He tells us, "Metaphor is the place where most writers can sharpen their writing. Figurative language adds power to settings, descriptions, character development, and even the structure of a novel. Jim will discuss figurative language, what it is and how to create it.
What else is new? Glad you asked. Check this out:
  • Because of personal conflicts, Edna Buchanan has had to withdraw as this year's Person of Renown for FWA Collection #5, It's A Crime. But fear not, in her place has stepped the winner of the 2012 Best PI Novel Shamus Award, Michael Wiley. A noted crime writer, Michael is the author of the Joe Kozmarski Mystery Novels, A Bad Night's Sleep, The Bad Kitty Lounge and Last Striptease. Publisher's Weekly had this to say about his award-winning novel, A Bad Night's Sleep: “Fans of gritty PI novels will relish Shamus-winner Wiley's third mystery featuring Chicago detective Joe Kozmarski. Kozmarski, a well-developed flawed hero, would be right at home in a Chandler or Hammett novel. The relentless pacing makes the pages fly by, and the hard-edged prose is bracing.” As the Person of Renown for the Collection, Michael will review the 60 stories accepted for the collection and select his top ten list. He'll also submit his own short story and plans to conduct a crime-writing workshop at the annual conference, October 18-20. Michael will also deliver the keynote address at the Friday night welcome dinner and make himself available for one-on-one interviews.
  • Speaking of Collection #5, It's A Crime, you have until May 15 to submit your story for consideration. Find the guidelines here, but keep in mind you must be an FWA member. There's a 1,200 word limit.
  • You must also be an FWA member to submit to the Royal Palm Literary Awards competition. You have until June 15 before the competition is closed. For the first time, there is a Youth Writers RPLA Competition. Check it out.
  • The April 20 FWA Mini-Conference in Altamonte Springs was such a success that another mini-conference is planned for Saturday, June 22 at the University Club in Winter Park. This one will be strictly for non-fiction. Details can be found here.
  • The Florida Heritage Book Festival presents "Oh, The Places You'll Go," a 4-hour workshop on how to publish your children's book. Facilitated by publishing pros, Frances Keiser and Jane Wood, the workshop includes an overview of children's book genres, your publishing options, book design and printing, illustrations and photographs, fulfillment and distribution, marketing tips and much more. The workshop is scheduled for Saturday, June 1 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at Flagler College, Ringhaver Student Center. The early-bird rate of $69 ends at midnight tonight then increases to $79 from May 1 to May 31, and $99 at the door. To register or for more information call Jane at 904-268-9572 or Fran at 904-471-5376. Proceeds benefit the Florida Heritage Book Festival & Writers Conference.
  • Speaking of the FHBF Writers Conference, it's scheduled for Thursday and Friday, September 26 and 27 at the St. Johns County Convention Center at World Golf Village. There will be workshops on memoir writing, writing humor, marketing, travel writing, and more. NY Times bestselling author Andrew Gross will give the opening keynote address preceded by a "Meet the Author" reception. Friday's luncheon keynote is none other than Tim Dorsey. Look for all the details including presenters, titles, times and registration fees coming soon to the FHBF website.
  • Friday evening, September 26, FHBF presents its Literary Legends Banquet honoring the renowned author of historical American fiction, John Jakes. Mr. Jakes is the author of over 60 books, including the 8-part Kent Family Chronicles, the North and South Trilogy and many more. Visit the FHBF website for details.
But wait, there's more:

  • Florida Sisters in Crime presents Linda J. Gummow, Ph.D., Forensic Neuropsychologist, as the guest speaker at their meeting on Saturday, May 4, 10:30 a.m. at the SE Regional Library, 10599 Deerwood Park Blvd.
  • The First Coast Romance Writers offers a half-day workshop with NY Times bestselling author Alyssa Day on Saturday, May 11 at the West Regional Library. Ms. Day presents, "Romantic Times Recap," channeling her experiences at the Romantic Times Convention. She won the 2012 RT Award for Best Paranormal.
  • The Other Words conference welcomes proposals for 1:15 minute panels on the theme of "Writing Florida: The First 500 Years” for the 2013 Conference, to be held on the historic Flagler College campus. The conference is open to all who are interested in the contemporary practice of literary writing, and will offer a mixture of panels, workshops and readings. Deadline for proposals is June1 and they may be emailed to Rick Campbell at More information here.
  • MWA Florida chapter presents MWA University, a 1-day mini-conference with a series of craft workshops by MWA members. It takes place in Delray Beach on June 15. Details here.
  • Nancy Quatrano's is looking for submissions to its 2013 Snowbird Christmas Volume 2 publication. There's a May 15 deadline for "sweet" family-friendly stories of between 750 and 1,500 words. There's also a $10 submission fee, but if you make the cut you'll share in the proceeds of any sales and can purchase the books for only $6.00 each. Visit the website at and click on the 2013 Snowbird tab.
And since I began this post with a quote, it's only fitting to end it the same way. Here's one by one of our accomplished forefathers.

"If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are rotten,
either write things worth reading or do things worth the writing."
~ Benjamin Franklin
Best of luck with your writing,

Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director