Thursday, January 30, 2014

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

Anyone who remembers the heyday of folk music is telling the world they're definitely not of the Justin Beiber generation. But with Pete Seeger's recent passing, it brought to mind how many of my favorite folk songs were written and performed by Seeger. I remember listening to these songs in my dorm room at the University of Florida—Turn, Turn, Turn, If I Had a Hammer, and particularly, Where Have All the Flowers Gone, which was covered by the Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul and Mary, among many others.

The song is also relevant this very day as we endure another arctic blast and I look out on a yard with frost-bitten hibiscus bushes. Thanks for the music, Pete, and rest in peace. I'll plant more flowers in the spring, and think about you as I bang away on my latest project. The more immediate project is completing this FWA post and getting it out to the many writers in NE Florida. So, without any more nostalgic flashbacks, here's what's happening in what I hope will be a warmer month of February.

  • Amelia Island Writers group leader Maggie de Vries reports she had 22 people for last month's meeting at their new time and location. A very good turnout, so they'll do it again on Tuesday, February 4 at 6:15 p.m. at the Marina Seafood Restaurant in Fernandina Beach. The group will meet for a critique session. Again, the restaurant needs to know how many to prepare seating for in advance so RSVP to Maggie at, or call 904-321-6180.
  • Jim Weinsier's Nassau County Youth Writers group has been amazingly busy. They recently had an article published in the Fernandina Beach News-Leader, and are working on a children's book for their local library. They've been so busy and successful that the group is adding a second meeting date. Starting this month the Youth Writers will meet on the first and third Tuesday of the month at 4:45 p.m. And they're moving to the Peck Center, 516 S. 10th Street in Fernandina Beach. Contact Jim at for details.
  • Melissa Kosciuszko joins Gregg Golson as the co-leader of the River City Writers, who will meet on Tuesday, February 11 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library. Please welcome Melissa, a traditionally published author of romantic suspense novels (writing as M. S. Kaye) as well as other genres. Thanks for stepping up to help out, Melissa. At the February meeting, the group will hear from Kerry O'Malley Cerra who will speak about her journey to traditional publication of her upcoming middle grade novel, Just a Drop of Water.
  • There will be no meeting of St. Augustine's Ancient City Writers chapter due to the closure of the Main Library for renovation. Look for them in March at the Anastasia Island Branch when Marketing Manager Cheyenne Knopf will be the speaker. Cheyenne will talk about "The Financials of Book Selling: A Sales and Income Tax Workshop."
  • If you can attend the meeting of the Clay County Writers on Wednesday, February 19 at 6:15 p.m. at the Orange Park Library you'll hear from novelist Arliss Ryan. Arliss is a masterful storyteller, and the author of Sanctuary and The Secret Confessions of Anne Shakespeare, so she knows how to write historical fiction. Her topic is "How to Turn Factual Research into Astounding Fiction No Reader Can Resist."  For more information contact group leader Maureen Jung.
  • The Ponte Vedra Writers FWA group meets on Saturday, February 22 at 10:30 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Library. The special guest speaker is none other than noted editor, writer and poet, Lynn Skapyak Harlin. After years working as a teacher, reporter, corporate and government trainer, Lynn now conducts writing classes aboard her shanty boat as well as working one-on-one with writers.  Lynn's topic is "How Setting, Tone, Mood and Pace Enhance Your Story and Move Your Plot." Come and learn from a real writing pro.
  • The Jax Youth Writers continue to meet on the fourth Thursday of the month, 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library.
  • And FWA affiliate First Coast Christian Writers meets each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at the Webb-Wesconnett Library.
Looking for even more meetings and events?
  • Florida Sisters in Crime members gather this Saturday, February 1 at 10:30 a.m. at the SE Branch Library to hear from writers Kathy Bain and Delores Wilson, teaming up to talk about "How to Write Funny."
  • SF & Fantasy-Jax meets twice this month: 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 5 at Rain Dog Cafe in Five Points, and again on February 19 at the Beaches Library in Jacksonville Beach. T. S. Robinson has more information.
  • First Coast Romance Writers welcome bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann and her husband, screenwriter Ed Gaffney, to their Saturday, February 8 meeting at Jacksonville's West Regional Branch Library. In the morning workshop, Suzanne talks about the differences between objective and subjective point of view. After a lunch break the workshops continue at 1:15 with both Suzanne and Ed talking about control freak-friendly collaboration, sharing lessons learned from their co-writing adventures.
  • Ancient City Romance Writers move to 15610 Tison Road in Jacksonville for the Saturday, February 22 meeting due to a scheduling conflict at the SE Branch Library. Starting at 11:30 a.m.  the group will lunch and then have fun with "The Nuts and Bolts of Writing."
  • Writing, publishing and editing pros Rik Feeney, Michael Ray King and Nancy Quatrano lead the day-long Kindle Publishing Seminar on Saturday, February 15 at the Fair Trade Cafe, 4883 Palm Coast Pkwy NW in Palm Coast. The seminar covers both the technical details, as well as the creative process—content and editing, titles, covers, marketing of your ebook, and more. Special guest speaker is Professor Leonard Birdsong, who published five Kindle books in the last six months. For information and registration contact Rik at or call him at 407-529-8539. 
  • FWA presents the Lady Lake Memoir Mini-Conference on Saturday, February 22 at the Hampton Inn & Suites at The Villages. Patricia Charpentier, author of Eating an Elephant: Write Your Life One Bite at a Time, headlines the conference with her workshop on how to write your life stories. Marketing Manager Cheyenne Knopf will be there to talk about how to turn the completed memoir into a book. Click here for the complete program.
  • Here's another reminder about the Amelia Island Book Festival, February 21-22. Headlined by NYT bestselling author David Baldacci, the festival includes writers workshops, a Readers Luncheon and a Kids Fun Zone.
  • Over the past seven years, hundreds of people have helped flatten the writing learning curve by attending Vic DiGenti's Novel in a Day workshop. For the first time in a year, he'll lead the popular workshop in Jacksonville at the Summer Key Clubhouse off A.C. Skinner Parkway. The full-day session includes a continental breakfast and a boxed lunch. For registration and details, click here, or email me at
  • Rhonda Riley, author of The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope, speaks at the Ponte Vedra Library's Book Talk Cafe program on Monday, February 24 at 6:30 p.m. All are welcome.
Still waiting for the flowers to return. Until next time, keep writing,

Vic DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Make a splash in the New Year

The new year has arrived with a splash, trailing damp footprints and puddles. Perfect weather for staying inside and writing. NE Florida is jumping with meetings and events for writers, so let's get started.
  • Maggie de Vries, the Amelia Island Writers group leader, reports the group has changed the date and location for its monthly meetings. Meetings will now be held on the first Tuesday of the month at 6:15 p.m. at the Marina Seafood Restaurant, 101 Centre Street in Fernandina Beach. This is just two doors down from Books Plus where they had been meeting. This month's speaker is Harold Voyles, author of the play, Shadow of a Man. You don't need to order a meal, but the restaurant needs a head count, so if you're planning to attend please contact Maggie at and let her know you'll be there.
  • Gaby Triana is the author of five traditionally published YA novels. Her newest book, Summer of Yesterday, has been described as Back to the Future meets Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Gaby is the guest speaker at the River City Writers meeting, Tuesday, January 14 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Library. Her topic is "Beefing Up the Narrative During Revision." Contact group leader Gregg Golson for details. 
  • Clay County Writers meet Wednesday, January 15 at 6:15 p.m. at the Orange Park Library. Award-winning SF writer Chris Hejmanowski, M.D. talks on the topic, "Writing is the Easy Part." Chris, whose first novel, Collider, won the 2013 USA Book News Science Fiction/Fantasy Book of the Year, discusses the importance of the editing process, and the all-important marketing process. Group leader Maureen Jung has details.
  • On Saturday, January 18 at 10:00 a.m., St. Augustine's Ancient City Writers welcome Bob Lucas, VP of Events and Professional Development for the Florida Authors and Publishers Association. Bob will talk about "How to Capitalize on Your Writing Strategies for Recognition and Making Money." You'll find the ACW chapter meeting at St. Augustine's Main Library. This meeting will run for 75 minutes.
  • The Jax Youth Writers will meet on Thursday, January 23 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library.  Contact Kimberly Smith for more information.
    Richie Levine

  • Book trailers can help pique a reader's interest, particularly if they're well done. If you're considering producing a book trailer to spur your books sales, then you might want to attend the Saturday, January 25th meeting of the Ponte Vedra Writers. Award-winning filmmaker Richard Levine will demonstrate how book trailers can enhance marketing, showing examples and providing details of what's involved. Richie has been a writer and editor for 25 years. His short films have won awards at the Park City Music Film Festival and the Crystal Reel Awards.  The Ponte Vedra Writers meet at 10:30 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Library.
  • First Coast Christian Writers, an FWA affiliate, meets each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at the Webb-Wesconnett Library.
But wait, there's more.
  • Florida Sisters in Crime meets this Saturday, January 4, at 10:30 a.m. at the SE Regional Library.  This will be a meet and greet meeting, with members taking 5 minutes each to tell about themselves. More information needed? Contact FSinC President Audrey O'Neil.
  • First Coast Romance Writers meets on Saturday, January 11 at 10:15 a.m. with the first of two workshops. The morning session will be an an overview of the year ahead by President Priscilla Kissinger and board members. The afternoon session features a talk show format to answer the hard questions from writers who want to explore all their publishing options.
  • The Ancient City Romance Authors meet on Saturday, January 25 at 11:30 a.m. at the SE Regional Library to hear from Priscilla Kissinger and Charlee Allden discussing "Critical Emotion in Your Writing."
  • The first FWA Mini-Conference and Book Festival of 2014 takes place next week, January 10-11 in downtown Bradenton. More information here. This will be followed by the Lady Lake Memoir Mini-Conference on February 22nd.
  • Retired Miami/Dade police detective/captain turned crime writer, Marshall Frank, will hold a seminar entitled "So You Want to Write a Book," at the Palm Coast Hampton Inn on Saturday, February 1. More details here.
  • Lynn Skapyak Harlin presents another round of Shanty Boat Workshops starting Wednesday, February 5 and continuing each Wednesday night for six weeks. The workshops are for writers of both fiction and non-fiction and cover a wide variety of craft essentials. For registration or more information, call Lynn at 778-8000, or email her at
  • The North Florida Writers group has moved the time and location for their meetings. They will meet on Saturday, January 11 at noon at the VyStar Credit Union at 760 Riverside Avenue to hear from Dorothy Fletcher talking about her new book, Local History: Lost Restaurants of Jacksonville.
  • Kudos to FWA members Marie Vernon and Judy Weber on the publication of their co-authored murder mystery, Above the Fold. Writing as Amber Adams, the story is set in St. Augustine and is the first in a series.
  • The Amelia Island Book Festival is right around the corner, February 21-22. The Festival includes a writers conference on Friday, with a talk by David Baldacci, and the Readers Festival on Saturday. Visit the website for details.
  • Looking for a critique group? You're in luck because Susan Kiernan-Lewis is forming one. Contact Susan at for more information.
  • Award-winning novelist Vic DiGenti (aka Parker Francis) brings his popular Novel in a Day workshop back to Jacksonville on Saturday, March 1 for the first time in a year. The full day class covers many of the essential ingredients for writing a compelling novel in a fast-paced interactive session. It will be held at the Summer Key Clubhouse. Details and registration can be found on his Parker Francis site.
Until next time, keep writing, and I'll see you on the book shelves.

Victor Digenti
FWA Regional Director