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

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Make Your Writing Blossom

From my office window I see trumpeting blooms of coral and gold amaryllis. Although the flowers only last about a week, I'm always heartened to see them pop up in my flower beds, a sure sign we've put winter behind us. I see the colorful blooms as a metaphor for my writing, which cycles from budding ideas to fertile growth but sometimes enters  a period of dormancy. But like the amaryllis, creativity can come to life again in the proper conditions.

I know I'm stretching the metaphor, but FWA offers fertilizer for the writer's muse through our meetings, conferences and associated activities. Check out these FWA meetings and other events for writers. Remember that all are welcome at FWA meetings.

  • River City Writers meets on Tuesday, April 9, 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library to hear from Linda Schilling Mitchell on "Getting the Gig." Linda is the author of Dear Miss Schneider, Please Excuse Walter, and will talk about how to get interviews, signings and speaking engagements.  Contact group leader Gregg Golson with questions.
  • The first meeting of the Nassau County Youth Writers Program, under the leadership of James Weinsier, will meet on Tuesday, April 16 at 5:00 p.m. at Books Plus in Fernandina Beach. James has the cooperation of the Nassau County Public Library Youth Program and has worked with area schools to get the word out about the new venture. He's asked me to be the first speaker to tell them about FWA and encourage them to pursue their writing interests. If you have any questions about the youth program, you may contact James directly through his email address.
  • Maggie deVries leads the Amelia Island Writers group which meets at her bookstore, Books Plus at 6:15 p.m. on April 16 following the Nassau County Youth Writers Program meeting. She's asked me to be the speaker at her meeting as well, and I'll talk about my latest Quint Mitchell Mystery, BRING DOWN THE FURIES, and the process of writing mysteries.
  • The Clay County Writers group meets on Wednesday, April 17 at 6:15 p.m. at the Orange Park Library. Maureen Jung has details of the meeting. Contact her at
  • St. Augustine's Main Library is the site for the April 20 meeting of Ancient City Writers at 10:00 a.m. Author and website designer Sharon Buck presents "The Big Bang Theory: 14 Secrets to Selling More Books." The workshop will explore ways that authors can multiply their book sales using 14 often overlooked and underused techniques.
  • Jax Youth Writers meet Thursday, April 25 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Library. All youth under the age of 18 welcome. Contact Kimberly Smith for details.
  • FWA affiliate First Coast Christian Writers meets to critique their work each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at the Webb-Wesconnett Library.
  • We're closing out the month of FWA meetings with the Ponte Vedra Writers, meeting at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 27 at the Ponte Vedra Library. If you're an independent publisher or about to publish a book, you should know your cover is one of the best selling tools you have. Fran Keiser will be on hand to tell us what works and what doesn't work when it comes to cover designs. 
But wait, there's more!
  • It's not too late to register for the FWA Mini-Conference on Saturday, April 20 in Altamonte Springs. They've added agents and pitch sessions to the conference schedule, and you may select from the day of workshops or the daylong workshop, "How to Write Killer Fiction." Here's the link to the conference schedule and faculty line-up.
  • Have you sent in your Royal Palm Literary Awards entry yet? Each year, FWA honors members with RPLA awards in recognition of superior writing in multiple categories. We've had many winners from here in NE Florida, and you might be the next one. Find out more by clicking this link.
  • May 15 is the deadline to submit your entries to FWA's Collection #5, It's A Crime. There is no entry fee, but you must be an FWA member. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and crime writer Edna Buchanan will select the Top Ten from the sixty winning entries. There's a 1,200 word limit and you may submit up to two entries. Read the guidelines for all the details.
  • Florida Sisters in Crime meets this Saturday, April 6 at 10:30 a.m. at the SE Regional Library to hear from Richard Orsini, Forensic Document Examiner and Handwriting Specialist. Check out their new website here.
  • First Coast Romance Writers will present a half-day workshop featuring Kiernan Kramer beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 13 at the West Regional Library, 1425 Chaffee Road. Kiernan, who writes historical romances for St. Martin's Press, has titled the workshop, "Why Buy Your Books: The Top Ten Reasons."
  • St. Augustine author Laura Lee Smith's debut novel, Heart of Palm, (Grove Press) is set in the NE Florida town of Utina, modeled after Palm Valley. Laurawill be at the Bookmark in Neptune Beach on Monday, April 8 at 7:00 p.m.
  • Ancient City Romance Authors welcomes romance author Valerie Bowman to their April 27 meeting at the SE Library, beginning at 1:00 p.m. Valerie's workshop is titled, "How to Sell to Any Publisher (Plus Contests & Agents)."Visit the website for more information.
  • The Friends of the Ponte Vedra Library's Book Talk Cafe program feature Florida Book Award winner, Elizabeth Stuckey-French discussing her award-winning novel, The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady on Monday, April 15 at 6:30 p.m.
  • The Friends of the Library of St. Johns County present their second Friends Book Fair featuring area authors on Monday, April 22 at 5:30 p.m. at the Main Library. Come by and support your fellow authors including Caren Umbarger, Will Merrill, Andre Frattino, Parker Francis and Ron Whittington. Light Refreshments will be served.
  • The Amelia Island Book Festival welcomes both readers and writers to its 2013 event, April 26 and 27 in Nassau County. On the 26th the Festival presents writing workshops and Saturday features author talks and panels. Featured authors are Debbie Macomber, Elizabeth Kostova and Michael Morris. Visit the website for all the details.
  • Black Horse Winery on Kingsley Avenue in Orange Park has another Meet the Authors event scheduled for Wednesday, April 25 beginning at 6:30 pm. The event is coordinated by the Clay County Writers group. Contact Maureen Jung if you wish to participate in future Meet the Authors events.
  • The Sci-Fi & Fantasy Writers of Jacksonville meet on Tuesday, April 23 at 6:30 p.m. at the SE Regional Library. Contact Tim Robinson with questions.
  • The Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition is now accepting submissions for it's 33rd annual contest. There's a $1,500 first place award along with publication of the story in Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts. Visit the website for submission guidelines.
  • In case you missed it last month, Folio Weekly will have a special section devoted area authors in an upcoming issue. You may add your personal information to their database on this page.
  • And finally, last week announced it had reached an agreement to acquire Goodreads, the popular site for readers to share book recommendations. While many have worried about Amazon's latest acquisition, both sides have stated that Goodreads will remain independent. On the website, Paid Content, Laura Hazard Owen interviewed the Goodreads CEO and Amazon's VP of Kindle Content to gather more facts about what Goodreads users might expect.
That's all for now. I'll see you in the garden.

Vic DiGenti
FWA Regional Director