With 2016 behind us — for better or for worse — we can all look forward to another opportunity to improve our lives and the world around us. In this week's Mad About Words Monday Muse, Mary Ann de Stefano posted this appropriate quote by author Neil Gaiman,
"Try to make your time matter: minutes and hours and days and weeks can blow away like dead leaves, with nothing to show but time you spent not quite ever doing things, or time you spent waiting to begin.
"Meet new people and talk to them. Make new things and show them to people who might enjoy them."
- River City Writers, Tuesday, January 10 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Regional Library off Gate Parkway. Contact Gregg Golson for details.
- Clay County Writers, Wednesday, January 18 at 6:00 p.m. at a site to be announced soon. Group leader Maureen Jung tells us this will be a "Salute to Local Writers," and a look ahead to future projects. All writers are welcome.
- Writers by the Sea gathers on Thursday, January 19 at 6:00 p.m. at the Amelia Island Museum of History. This month's program is "Keeping it Relevant: Writing and Selling an Op Ed Piece." Nadine Vaughan has the details.
- St. Augustine's Ancient City Writers chapter meets on Saturday, January 21 at the Main Library to hear from the writing team of Judy Weber and Marie Vernon (aka Amber Adams) on "Writing the Series Character."
- The Ponte Vedra Writers group returns to the Ponte Vedra Library on Saturday, January 28 at 10:30 a.m. Horror fiction writer Will Ludwigsen presents "Getting Personal With Horror," and will share his secrets for developing characters uniquely attuned to the reader's fears.
- FWA affiliate First Coast Christian Writers meets each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at the Oakleaf Christian Fellowship on Lake Grey Boulevard.
- FWA presents four Focus Days during 2017 (aka mini-conferences), the first one being Focus on Character-Driven Stories on April 29. More information and registration here.
- The world famous (or nearly so) Royal Palm Literary Awards competition opens for submissions on January 15. Get an early start and save money by entering sooner than later.
- The 2017 Collections, "What A Character," will begin accepting submissions on February 1.
- Florida Sisters in Crime starts off the year this Saturday, January 7 with details from a retired NYPD police officer about what the TV programs get wrong. Paul Schad walks us through the technical things that don't work in real life crime fighting. They meet at 10:00 a.m. at the SE Regional Branch Library.
- The Jacksonville Public Library will hold its first Jax Book Fest on Saturday, March 25. They're looking for authors to exhibit during the event to market and sell their books. The early bird booth rate is $30 through January 6, increasing to $50 after that. Click here for more information.
- The deadline for the 2016 Florida Book Awards is fast approaching. January 13 is the last day to enter this prestigious award. Visit the website for all the details.
- The Ancient City Poets will host a community open mic poetry reading on Sunday January 29, 2017 from 3:00 to 4:30 at Corazon Cinema and Cafe, across from the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine. There will be a "New Year / Brave New World" theme to kick off the year, although attendees do not have to stick to this theme to share their work. The gatherings are held "renga style" with no emcee or sign-up sheet and end when everyone has had an opportunity to share.
2017 FWA Conference Chair