Saturday, May 31, 2014

Make it a summer to remember–write something

I still remember looking forward to those carefree summer months, a vacation from school and homework. Although there's no school or mandatory homework these days, summer still is a favorite time of year. While sun and fun are in the plans, June marks the halfway point in another year, a time to assess the progress on my latest writing project. This June is also a good time to visit one or more of our FWA meetings. Here's what you have to look forward to this month.

  • The Amelia Island Writers are back at Fernandina Beach's Marina Seafood Restaurant on Tuesday, June 3 at 6:15 p.m. Group Leader Maggie deVries will discuss her new historical novel, Amelia Island's Golden Years, Silver Tears. Please RSVP to Maggie at or call her at 904-321-6180.
  • River City Writers meet Tuesday, June 10 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library. Group Leader Gregg Golson has details.
  • Visit the Clay County Writers on Wednesday, June18 at 6:15 p.m. at the Orange Park Library. Contact Group Leader Maureen Jung for more information.
  • The Ancient City Writers group is back at St. Augustine's Main Library again, meeting on Saturday, June 21 at 10:00 a.m. Author Elizabeth Sinclair will speak on "Goal, Motivation, Conflict or How to Sustain a Book-Length Work of Fiction."
  • If you're looking for pointers on historical research, join the Ponte Vedra Writers on Saturday, June 28, 10:30 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Library. Novelist Arliss Ryan, author of Sanctuary and Confessions of Anne Shakespeare, presents "How to Turn Factual Research into Astounding Fiction No Reader Can Resist."
  • Kimberly Smith's Jax Youth Writers are taking June and July off. They'll return with a program at the SE Branch Library in August.
  • As always, FWA affiliate First Coast Christian Writers meets each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at the Webb-Wesconnett Library.
But wait, there's more!
  • If you're looking for ways to inject more suspense into your stories, join Parker Francis, aka Vic DiGenti, at this month's meeting of Florida Sisters in Crime, Saturday, June 7 at 10:30 a.m. at the SE Regional Library. Parker has titled his workshop, "The Suspense is Killing Me," and he'll share some of the secrets bestselling authors use to hook the reader with suspense and keep them in a constant state of anticipation. 
  • Attorney Carolyn Herman has formed the Entertainment & Arts Collaborative of Northeast Florida in hopes of bringing low cost or free legal and business services to creatives along with networking opportunities. They're planning their first information and planning meeting this Monday, June 2nd at Royal Palms Wine and Tapas in Atlantic Beach from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. All interested parties are invited to attend. If you're interested in learning more, email Carolyn Herman
  • The Bartram Trail Branch Library hosts three romance writers in a special program titled "The Art of Falling in Love,"on Saturday, June 7 at 1:00 p.m. Authors participating in the program are Valerie Bowman, Alyssa Day, and Lena Diaz. They'll discuss their books and answer any questions you might have.
  • And speaking of visiting authors, Larry Baker returns to NE Florida with his latest St. Augustine based novel, The Education of Nancy Adams. Although Larry now lives and works in Iowa City, and is honored on the Iowa Literary Walk of Fame, he keeps coming back to St. Augustine as the setting for his novels. Larry will be at the Ponte Vedra Library on Monday, June 23 at 6:30 p.m. as part of the library's Book Talk Cafe program series. He's probably best known for his first book, The Flamingo Rising, which was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie.
  • FWA's Non-Fiction Mini-Conference is set for Saturday, June 28 at the Hilton/Orlando/Altamonte Springs. Click here for the complete conference schedule.
  • Kaen Hudgins talks about Settings at this month's meeting of the Ancient City Romance Writers. They will gather at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 28 at the very popular SE Branch Library. Visit the website to learn more.
  • And to keep abreast of all the happenings at this year's Florida Heritage Book Festival & Writers Conference, visit the website and sign up for the enewsletter. FHBF has just announced
    a multi-media special author event taking place on Thursday, June 26 at St. Augustine's Southeast Branch Library, 6670 US1 South, at 6:00 p.m. Daniel Wallace is the author of five novels, and his first, Big Fish, was made into a movie by Tim Burton. After a showing of the movie, Wallace will meet the audience and answer questions in a live Skyped interview. A $5 donation would be appreciated.
  • In each of the FHBF enewsletters, you're introduced to one of the Featured Authors or Writers Conference faculty members through a post they've provided for the event's blog. Bill DeYoung is the latest guest blogger. Bill is the author of Skyway: The True Story of  Tampa Bay's Signature Bridge and the Man Who Brought it Down. Read his post here.
  • One last reminder that the Royal Palm Literary Awards competition deadline is fast approaching. The competition closes on June 15, so hurry to get your entries in.

And that does it for our June post. Visit the FWA NE Florida Facebook page (and Like Us) for future updates and news.

Vic DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Friday, May 02, 2014

What to do and where to go in May 2014

The weather folk tell us the rain will be gone by Sunday, so you can put down your hammers and saws. You won't need to finish work on the ark just yet. But it is a good time to stay indoors and write, and make plans to attend any of this month's FWA meetings. Here's what you can expect in the merry month of May and beyond.

  • Maggie de Vries informs us that the Marina Restaurant will be closed the week following the Shrimp Festival, so the May meeting of the Amelia Island Writers is postponed until June 3rd at 6:15 p.m. Does that make the meeting in July the June meeting? I'm confused.
  • River City Writers leader Gregg Golson is using technology to hook up with his guest speaker, Lee Strauss. Lee is the author of 20 books in various genres including romance, fantasy and YA. Lee will deliver her talk on "Structure and Creating a First Draft" via Skype on Tuesday, May 13 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library off Gate Parkway.  That's Lee pictured above.
  • The Ancient City Writers have good reason to celebrate this month as they're back at their home base of St. Augustine's Main Library. The library had been closed for nearly three months while undergoing a much needed facelift to its interior and restrooms. Michael Ray King will be there to host the celebration with his talk, "Go Write and You Won't Go Wrong: Writing Your Book in 30 Days." Michael is the author of nine books and a five-time Royal Palm winner. Join him at the new and improved Main Library at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 17.
  • Another Michael Ray will speak to the Clay County Writers on Wednesday, May 21. Michael Ray FitzGerald, Ph.D., will speak on "Journalism, Realism and Writing." Michael is a media historian, journalist and musician who has been chronicling and participating in the Southeast regional music scene for over 30 years. Be there to hear what should be an engrossing talk at the Clay County Library at 6:15 p.m.. Contact group leader Maureen Jung for more information.
  • Do you want to write a children's book and get it published? It's a competitive genre, but many writers and illustrators are doing it successfully. We'll address this topic at the May 24 meeting
    of the Ponte Vedra Writers, 10:30 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Library. Our special panel discussion, "Writing & Publishing Children's Books," features four authors of children's books who have found success via different paths. The panelists are Jules Coffey-Santella, Frances Keiser, Jennifer Swanson, and Jane Wood. Jules, and like Cher and Madonna, she's known by and writes under her first name, has written stories and articles for children's magazines and authored the middle grade chapter book, Daniel and the Jumbies. Fran and her husband founded Sagaponack Books in 1999 as the home press of their jointly-produced Pelican Pete environmental books. Fran is the author and husband Hugh the illustrator. Jennifer is the author of over 20 nonfiction and fiction books for children. She's received numerous awards, and her books in the "How Things Work" series were named to the 2012 Booklist's Top Ten Books for Youth. And Jane is a well-known writer of juvenile fiction with both local and historical ties. She's active in numerous organizations, including the Florida Authors & Publishers Association, and is a frequent speaker at schools. Each of them will share details of their road to writing and publishing books for younger readers.
  • The Nassau County Youth Writers meet on the first and third Tuesdays at the Peck Center in Fernandina Beach. Contact James Weinsier for details.
  • The Jax Youth Writers meet on the last Thursday of the month at 6:45 p.m. at the SE Branch Library. Kimberly Smith leads the group. 
  • And, finally, don't forget about FWA affiliate First Coast Christian Writers. They meet each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at the Webb-Wesconnett Library.
And That's Not All:
  • Florida Sisters in Crime welcomes the co-authors of the mystery novel, Above the Fold. Judy Weber and Marie Vernon write pseudonymously as Amber Adams, and will speak on the art of collaboration. You can hear this team-talk tomorrow, Saturday, May 3 at 10:30 a.m. at the SE Branch Library.
  • The Ancient City Romance Writers welcome author Abigail Sharpe to its meeting on Saturday, May 24 at 1:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Library in Jacksonville. Ms. Sharpe's topic is "Writing Tight," not to be confused with "Writing While Tight." A BYOL (Bring Your Own Lunch) precedes the workshop at 12:30 p.m.
  • The publishers of Highlights magazine have extended a 10% discount to FWA members to attend any of its workshops for children's book writers and illustrators. Visit them here for more information.
  • It's not too early to register for the Florida Heritage Book Festival's Writers Conference, September 25-26 in St. Augustine. It's been moved to the heart of the Ancient City at Flagler College, and provides two distinctly different experiences for writers of all persuasions. On Thursday the 25th, register to be part of small group critique workshops. Led by working professionals you will critique up to ten pages of each person's WIP, and receive a written evaluation of your work by the group leader. Friday's conference offers a full day of one-hour workshops covering the craft and business of writing, plus a luncheon keynoted by bestselling author Lisa Black. Click here to read all about it and register. And you can be part of the Festival Marketplace on Saturday, September 27 to sell your books to the Festival crowd. More information here.
  • And speaking of conferences, the annual FWA Conference will be here before you know it. Have you registered for "The Stars of Florida Writers?" As they say, it's bigger and better than ever. Have you submitted your work to the Royal Palm Literary Awards Competition? As my good friend and former neighbor Ben Franklin once told me, "You may delay, but time will not."
That's it for now. Keep your head above water, and to quote Mr. Franklin once again, "Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing."

Have a happy May. I'll see you at THE PLAYERS Championship.

Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director for NE Florida