Saturday, December 04, 2021

Happy Holidays

Sending sleigh loads of good wishes to you from our household of two-legged and four-legged beings. In the picture above, my former editor, Duke, keeps a watchful eye out for St. Nick and dreams of the treats he'll receive. Here's hoping your dreams are fulfilled this year and next.

Two of our FWA writers groups are taking a break this month, so this will be a brief blog post. However, January promises a full round of exceptional meetings and workshops. Watch this space.

  • Kathy Bain's River City Writers will meet as a critique group on Tuesday, December 14 at 6:30 p.m. This is your chance to receive (and give) valuable feedback on your work in progress. The meeting will be at the SE Regional Branch Library on Deerwood Park Blvd. off Gate Parkway.
  • The Amelia Island Writers group is also meeting on Tuesday, December 14, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., at the Book Loft in Fernandina Beach. Group leader Marla McDaniel reports, "It's our annual happy hour book discussion, What Writers are Reading. Bring a book (or two or three) that has made a difference in your life this year. The books can be old or new, doesn't matter."
  • From St. Augustine's Ancient City Writers, Judy Weber tells us that if it's December, then it's time for the group's annual Christmas meeting. They will gather on Saturday, December 18 at 10:00 a.m. at the Main Library where a panel of local members will each have five to seven minutes to discuss their writing journeys. There will be time for networking, holiday greetings, and, of course, refreshments.
  • Both the Clay County Writers and the Ponte Vedra Writers are taking a break this month.
From our household to yours, best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

17,276 Wine Toast Cliparts, Stock Vector and Royalty Free Wine Toast  Illustrations
Holiday Cheers,

Vic DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

FWA November Blog Post


November brings to mind the annual Thanksgiving holiday, but did you know that every day is a celebration of some National Day and usually numerous ones daily. For example, we began this month on November 1 with not one but twelve National Days. They included National Brush Day, National Calzone Day, National Deep Fried Clams Day, National Vinegar Day, and my favorite, National Authors' Day.

Throughout the month you can celebrate National Housewive's Day, National Men Make Dinner Day, National Vanilla Cupcake Day, National Absurdity Day, and the list goes on and on. But today, and throughout the month, we'll celebrate FWA NE Florida Meeting Day, so let's get started.

  • River City Writers group leader Kathy Bain continues her virtual meetings, bringing exceptional authors to Jax via Zoom. This month on Tuesday, November 9 at 6:30 p.m. you may tune in for a presentation by author, vocalist, Delorean owner, and retired police officer Brian Paone. Brian speaks on "Beware of the Procrastination Demons," and you may join the Zoom meeting by clicking on this link: Meeting ID: 787 0264 5782 Passcode: jUV40V
  • After a successful "Halloween" meeting at the Old Jail in Green Cove Springs, the Clay County Writers return to the Orange Park Senior Center (414 Stowe Avenue in Orange Park) on Wednesday, November 17 at 6:30 p.m. Group leader Melanie Pronia reports this will be a brainstorming session with updates of current writing projects by group members. You don't have to be a senior to attend—all are invited.
  • Thinking of committing a little espionage? Then you might want to attend the Ancient City Writers meeting on Saturday, November 20, 10:00 a.m. at St. Augustine's Main Library. Longtime CIA employee and prolific author Dr. Edward Mickolus will present "Spycraft for Thriller Writers" offering tips on how you can make your espionage thrillers more accurate and not get laughed at by intelligence professionals.
  • It may not be a "National Day," but on Saturday, November 27, the Ponte Vedra Writers celebrate the return of the Annual Open Mic Day. This is the day when you take the stage and share your latest WIP or other work of fiction, nonfiction or poetry with your peers. Depending on the number of readers each person should have at least seven minutes to impress us with your talent. This will also be the last meeting of 2021 for us, so let's come together and celebrate the holidays. The Open Mic meeting begins at 10:00 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library. If you're planning to be one of our speakers, please RSVP with an email to
  • Head to the Story & Song Bookstore Bistro in Fernandina Beach for the November 30 meeting of the Amelia Island Writers. This will be a holiday-themed Open Mic session of sorts. Group leader Marla McDaniel tells us this is a time to share funny holiday stories, favorite memories, even embarrassing moments. Write it up in a 750-word piece—it can be any holiday and must be G-rated. Then read it to the group. Sounds like fun! The meeting runs from 3:00 to 5:00 on the 30th.
And now for the rest of the story...
  • NE Florida Sisters in Crime meets this Saturday, November 6 at 10:00 a.m. at the SE Regional Branch Library on Deerwood Park Blvd. off Gate Parkway to hear from a member of the court on "The Effects of Technology on Trials." The group is for both crime writers and readers.
  • Nate Hoffhelder continues his FWA blog posts on newsletters for writers with his latest on "How and When to Clean Up your Subscriber's List." Click here to read it.
  • If you missed the Royal Palm Literary Awards virtual presentation, you can find all the winners here.
  • The inexhaustible Edward Mickolus, whose motto is "Write like your life depends on it," has published the 19th in a series of chronologies of international and domestic terrorist attacks. Terrorist Attacks Worldwide 2019-2020 is available now from Amazon books.
  • Gainesville's Hippodrome Theatre is accepting submissions for its 2022 playwright festival. Submissions of complete scripts must be received by December 3, 2021. Visit the website for Submission Guidelines.
  • Delaware author John Riddle identifies himself as, among other things, a freelance author, ghostwriter,  and donut eater. He's also the founder of I Love to Write Day each November 15, where writers across the nation reach out to share the joy of writing with others. Here's the link for more information.
  • If I send this out in a timely manner and you're so motivated, you may join Rik Feeny's Zoom webinar tonight, Wednesday, November 3, with Jane Wood. She'll share her experiences of marketing and selling books to schools. Her presentation begins at 7:00 p.m. Click on this link to join the fun.  Meeting ID: 897 6759 9938.
  • The Masters Review is hosting its first Novel Excerpt contest. Excerpts of a max of 6,000 words must be from a previously unpublished work and from any point in the novel. The winner receives $3,000 and online publication. Of course, there's an entrance fee. Learn more here.
  • Tickets are on sale for the Amelia Island Book Festival's VIP Gala featuring celebrity authors David Baldacci, Mary Alice Monroe, Jennifer Niven, and Jeanette Walls. Ticket information may be found on the website.
  • Congratulations to Lezlee Peterzell-Bellanich, a part-time St. Augustine resident, on the upcoming publication of her book Saved By A Stranger: Life-Changing Journeys of Transplant Patients. Lezlee wrote this book while awaiting her husband's liver transplant at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, and interviewed other transplant patients. Her first book launch signing will be at the Marriott on the Mayo Clinic campus on Friday, November 12.
Since today is National Sandwich Day I have to hustle and send this post along before lunch. 

Happy Days to you,

Vic DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Friday, October 01, 2021

October Nights and Frights


It's October when thoughts turn to falling leaves and pumpkin pies. As the adorable Lucy Maud Montgomery of Anne of Green Gables said, "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers." But October also brings us Halloween and while the kiddies are collecting candy we can raise goosebumps by reading or rereading some of the more frightening novels ever written. I'm sure you have favorites that kept you up late and lingered in your dreams. Here are my top five in a list of the scariest novels I've read:

5. Rosemary's Baby, Ira Levin — you've seen the movie, but read the book for the real deal.

4. The Exorcist, William Peter Blatty — another classic film, but the book is even better.

3. The Rats, James Herbert — mutated giant rats. Need I say more?

2. The Ruins, Scott Smith — carefree travelers in Mexico stumble across an ancient evil. Will leave you shaken, not stirred.

1. Pet Sematary, Stephen King — many of King's horror tales could make this list, including The Shining and Salem's Lot, but I found Pet Sematary to be the most unsettling of them all.

Runners up in the horror category include Hell House by Richard Matheson, The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris, and The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. What's on your list?

Take some time away from your reading and writing to visit one or more of these writing groups this month:

  • The River City Writers go virtual this month with a Zoom meeting on editing with an actual editor. Marcie Bridges, a freelance editor with Elk Lake Publishing, presents "How to Chop Down a Redwood: Tools for Editing and Writing." Marcie will share with you how to work with an editor and different tools you can use to make sure your writing is the best it can be. Join group leader Kathy Bain and Marcie Bridges on Tuesday, October 12 at 6:30 p.m. through this link and passcode: Passcode: h5FqkB
  • The Ancient City Writers group meets on Saturday, October 16 at St. Augustine Main Library. The doors open at 10:00 a.m. to all who want to add a little humor to their writing. Author and poet Sandra Dempsey Madden presents "Lighten Up! Getting Serious About Humor." She will show how humor can be incorporated into most novels, from romantic comedy to mysteries, historicals - almost any genre. She will explain how, when, and why humor can be/should be used. Also the changes in humor through the years.
  • The Amelia Island Writers next meeting is on Tuesday, November 30. More information in next month's blog post.
  • Clay County Writers group leader Melanie Pronia has taken this scary month seriously by moving the meeting venue (just for this month) to the Old Jail in Green Cove Springs on Friday, October 22 at 7:00 p.m. They will be discussing the horror genre and how history affects our writing. Set your GPS for 915 Walnut Street, Green Cove Springs 32043 to find the Old Jail.
  • The Ponte Vedra Writers group welcomes Nancy Quatrano to the Ponte Vedra Branch Library on Saturday, October 23 at 10:00 a.m. Nancy, one of the region's better speakers, will tell us how we can increase our fan base and improve our sales through public speaking. In her presentation, "Transforming Writers into Speakers," Nancy will show us how to how to pitch, prepare, and run a winning book signing event or develop topics that we can present to groups regarding something other than your book. Nancy is a multi-award-winning fiction author, columnist, developmental editor, speaker, and business owner. She's operated On-Target Words since 2009, offering writing services such as content editing, press releases, and basic marketing plan assistance. For more information go to
And in other news ...
  • FWA is preparing for the RPLA Virtual Ceremony on Saturday, October 16 at 7:00 p.m. Chris Coward and Chris Hamilton will do the honors and you can enjoy all the action by clicking on this link: And here's a video of the finalists to put you in the mood. Are you in there?
  • Even if you're not part of Collection #13, "Footpriints," you may pre-order copies now for a member price of $12 per book, which includes shipping. Contact Chrissy Jackson at with your order and enjoy the many varieties of stories, essays and poetry members wrote on the Footprints theme.
  • Pam-Jam Jax continues throughout the month, moving to San Marco's TAC Gallery this Sunday for poetry and art. Click here for details.
  • For more poetry and details about the meetings of A Gathering of Poets, please contact Sharon Scholl at
  • If you wish to participate in February's Amelia Island Book Festival as part of the Authors/Expo/Reader's Extravaganza you need to get your application and payment in by the end of the month to reserve a table. Click here for the application.
  • In the mood to combine traveling to a few exciting cities like New York City, Nashville (actually in nearby Franklin, TN), and Minneapolis to meet and hear top brand authors? Here's your chance. The International Thriller Writers presents ThrillerFest XVII May 31 - June 4 at the Sheraton Times Square. Featured authors in attendance include Diana Gabaldon, Alistair Burke, Joseph Finder, Frederick Forsyth, and more. Killer Nashville, which moved outside the city to Franklin this year, is scheduled for August 18-21, 2022, and spotlights Guest of Honor authors Lisa Black, Walter Mosley, and J. T. Ellison. And in Minneapolis this year you'll find Bouchercon 2022, September 8-11. If you're not familiar with Bouchercon it's billed as the annual World Mystery Convention for both crime writers and fans. It also moves from city to city each year and pulls in more than a thousand attendees. It's huge and they give away books. Lots of them. Future Bouchercons, which was named after mystery writer of the 40s, Anthony Boucher, will be in San Diego, Nashville, and New Orleans.
  • Edward Mickolus is at it again. He's recently published The Creativity Sourcebook: The Daily Guide to Increasing Your Creativity. Now available on Amazon. Seriously, someone has to stop this man before he uses up the entire world's supply of ink.
  • Kudos also to T. L. Williams on the publication of Book 5 in his Logan Alexander thriller series. Supreme Threat pits the CIA protagonist against North Korean agents determined to inflict major damage to our homeland. 
That will do it for this month. Happy October and keep frighting. Oops, I mean writing.


Vic DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Friday, August 27, 2021

Write Your Own September Song


“I’ve found you’ve got to look back at the old things and see them in a new light.”

    ~ John Coltrane

Music often accompanies me while writing. I'm listening to a Dave Brubeck classic—Blue Rondo a la Turk—at the moment, which may be why this is the second blog post referencing specific songs. Either that or a dearth of ideas. In July I focused on Summer Songs, and since we are about to enter the month of September my one-track mind naturally went to the classic, September Song. There are many September songs, including September by Earth, Wind & Fire, Wake Me When September Ends, by Green Day, and the haunting Pale September by Fiona Apple. I'm sure you can name others, but to people of a certain age (that means old) September Song voiced by the one-and-only Frank Sinatra reigns supreme.

Here's the opening stanza :

Oh, it's a long, long while from May to December
But the days grow short when you reach September
When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame
One hasn't got time for the waiting game

Admittedly, this is rather melancholy but it tells us that time waits for no one. We can't sit around hoping for the muse to arrive like an Amazon package on your doorstep. As Jack London was purported to have said, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” With that in mind let's get down to business.
  • The Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library hosts the first in-person meeting of the Ponte Vedra Writers in nearly two years. We'll come together on Saturday, September 11 at 10:00 a.m. This is a special date for a special program where we welcome developmental editor and writing coach Heather Whitaker discussing The Opening Fifteen Pages. Heather tells us, "The opening pages of your story are the most important “real estate” in your manuscript. They are your first impression on agents, editors, and—most important—your readers. Not surprisingly, they have the most work to do. In addition to introducing the world and main character(s) of your story, they need to set the tone and hook the reader." We'll begin early for Heather's jam-packed presentation. All are welcome.
  • The River City Writers are back! Join new group leader Kathy Bain at the SE Regional Branch Library off Gate Parkway on Tuesday, September 14 at 6:30 p.m. for another instructive program for writers. Kathy is the author of multiple novels and is well-prepared to talk about Your First Paragraph Hook. In this interactive meeting, Kathy will show a video on the subject, lead the discussion and help critique your first paragraph. To participate, send the first paragraph of your WIP (up to 100 words) to no later than Sunday, September 12, 2021, at 5:00 p.m.
  • The Clay County Writers next meeting is on Wednesday, September 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the Orange Park Senior Center at 414 Stowe Avenue. Group leader Melanie Pronia reports they will be discussing Self-Publishing and Marketing. "We will go into detail about Book Traliors, Blogs/Vlogs. Facebook Author Pages, book format, editing options, and book cover design. We will also be discussing our short writing assignment related to something that we have dreamed about."
  • The meeting of Ancient City Writers takes place on Saturday, September 18 at St. Augustine's Main Library at 10:00 a.m. Yours truly, Vic DiGenti, is the guest speaker and I'll address one of the most important tasks a writer has—revision. My workshop, Attacking the Revision Process, rolls out specific strategies to make the process more efficient and productive while enhancing your manuscript.
  • The Amelia Island Writers are back in action for their quarterly meeting on Tuesday, September 28 at 3:00 p.m. at the Story and Song Bookstore Bistro. Emerging from 2020, the theme of First Impressions continues. The program topic is the All-Important Cover Design, led by Nancy Blanton. Nancy's book covers are rich in color and detail. In addition to her award-winning historical fiction novels, find out how to Brand Yourself Royally in 8 Simple Steps by purchasing Nancy's quick guide to create your very own brand.
The beat goes on ...
  • You may have heard by now that the 2021 Florida Writers Conference has been canceled due to Covid-19 concerns. This had to be a difficult decision for the FWA Board after the tremendous amount of work that went into the planning of the event. Having been the conference faculty chair for two years I know about the months of behind-the-scenes effort by so many people, particularly the longtime Conference Chair, Chrissy Jackson, to pull together all the disparate strands that make the conference possible. Hats off to Chrissy and all the others for their work.
  • The cancelation announcement stated, "We ask for your patience as volunteers process full refunds for conference registration fees, guest meals, interviews, and headshots, and we remind you to cancel your hotel reservations." Also that the RPLA Awards will be announced in a virtual ceremony on October 16, 2021, via Zoom. Stay tuned for more details.
  • And speaking on canceled conferences, Bouchercon 2021 was canceled this month. The mega-event for mystery writers and readers was to take place in New Orleans earlier this month, where in normal times it would have attracted close to two thousand people. But Bouchercon is making available a conversation between bestselling novelists Alafair Burke and her father James Lee Burke. You may watch it tonight at 7:00 p.m on this YouTube channel: James Lee Burke and Alafair Burke: Next year, if all goes well, Bouchercon 2022 will be held in Nashville, TN starting on September 1.
  • A Gathering of Poets is on the move due to the heat and rain bombarding the library's gazebo. For details of future meetings shoot an email to Sharon Scholl at
  • And speaking of poets, Pam Jam Jax features poets from North Florida Poetry Hub sponsored by Hope at Hand paired with artists from the Art Center Cooperative to present the Jax Showcase, October 3 - 29 at the Art Center Cooperative in San Marco. PAM Jam PVB features poets from A Gathering of Poets paired with artists from The Art Center Cooperative at the PVB Showcase at the Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library, November 1 - 30. Click here for more information.
  • Congratulations to all writers in our region for being selected as semi-finalists in this year's RPLA. Be sure to tune in to the virtual awards ceremony next month.
  • Congrats to Kathryn J. Bain on the release of her latest in her KT Morgan suspense series, Sucker Punched. It's now available on Amazon.
  • Science fiction author and military historian Chris Berman has released his latest military history adventure, A White Star in a Red Sky. You can find it on Amazon.
  • The Alvarium Experiment, a consortium of accomplished and award-winning authors, is at it again. In The Light Fantastic, the nine authors unite to bring laughter, giggles, guffaws, and amusement to the masses amidst speculative twists and turns. In this collection, the authors explore every facet from dark humor to slapstick, deadpan to satire, dry humor to parody. The featured stories fall into fantasy, science fiction, and horror genres, but they do get up again and brush themselves off. This is the sixth project by the Alvarium Experiment, and individual stories will be available for Kindle readers in a few days with the anthology launching via a special Facebook launch party on September 9. I only mention this because one of my favorite authors, Parker Francis, contributed one of the stories. 
Here's another music-related quote. One I'm sure they wished they could take back.
"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." - Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962  

Francis Albert Sinatra had a traumatic birth, arriving blue and not breathing when yanked out of his mother with forceps. He grew into a bit of a bad boy, arrested twice, but went on to become one of America's first teen idols. The rest, as they say, is history. For those of you in a nostalgic mood, click on this link to hear Frank Sinatra crooning his version of September Song. You may skip the ads after five seconds. 


Vic DiGenti
FWA Regional Director


Monday, August 02, 2021

It's About Time

Time is the most precious commodity we've been given, and it's easy to fritter it away thinking there's always tomorrow. In fact, we have less time now than dinosaurs did when there were 370 days in a year. That's because the earth's spin has slowed due to the moon's gravity acting as a drag.

Don't obsess over that time fact since those extra days didn't help the dinosaurs, but when you're making time for yourself, be sure to put aside three or four days in October to attend the 20th Annual Florida Writers Conference in Altamonte Springs. Click here for all the details.

Here's another mind-blowing time fact: Everything we see is in the past because light takes time to reach us. The light you see out your window at this moment is eight minutes and twenty seconds old. I wonder if that means the scenes we write are really flashbacks? Hmm. Here's hoping all of this month's writers group meetings will begin on time. Or will they?
  • Last month I put out a call for a stalwart volunteer to continue growing Jacksonvile's River City Writers chapter as a new group leader. I'm happy to say that author Kathryn J. Bain quickly answered the call and moved to keep the group in its established home base of the SE Regional Branch Library off Gate Parkway. Her first meeting is on Tuesday, August 10 at 6:30 p.m. and it will be a meet-and-greet to get your input on future meetings. Kathy is an established author of seven novels. She writes in the mystery-suspense genre, as well as humor and inspirational fiction. She's a past president of the NE Florida Chapter of Sisters in Crime and has been active in several other writers' organizations.
  • Clay County Writers gather on Wednesday, August 18 at 11:00 a.m. at the Orange Park Senior Center at 414 Stowe Avenue. Jacksonville author John Maycumber will discuss a key component of fiction—the antagonist, who is just as important, if not more so, than the protagonist. He'll tell us how to create the best antagonists, and the group will review last month's writing assignment.
  • Some beginning writers may think writing dialogue is as easy as talking. Something they've done all their lives. But there's an art to writing good dialogue and Nancy Quatrano is just the person to provide the answers to your dialogue questions. She anchors the meeting of Ancient City Writers on Saturday, August 21 at St. Augustine's Main Library at 10:00 a.m. with her presentation, "Let's Discuss Dialogue."
  • Both the Amelia Island Writers and the Ponte Vedra Writers are on vacation hiatus this month but will return in September. The PV Writers open their first in-person meeting of the last sixteen months at the Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library on Saturday, September 11 at 10:00 a.m. with Heather Whittaker's timely workshop on the importance of those opening pages. Full details next time.
And in other news ...
  • Rik Feeney's Orlando FWA group welcomes Nancy Quatrano (a very busy writer) to his meeting this Wednesday, August 4 at 7:00 p.m. Nancy will connect via Zoom on the topic of "The Power Behind Writing a Series." Here's the link to join the meeting: Join Zoom Meeting         Passcode: 783088
  • Congratulations to Sharon Scholl on the publication of another outstanding poetry chapbook, Remains, available now on Amazon. And Sharon leads A Gathering of Poets group on the first and third Thursday at 2:00 p.m. at the Ponte Vedra Beach Library. All poets are welcome.
  • And a tip of the hat to prolific author Edward Mickolus for his latest effort, this time with co-author Susan Schjelderup. Together, they created a satirical scientific journal qualifying for having the longest title of the year. The main title is Scatterplot, Scattershots, and Scatterbrains. Access the complete description here.
  • And while we're patting folks on the back, a big congrats go out to some area authors who took home medals in the FAPA (Florida Authors & Publishers Association) Book Awards competition. The Awards Ceremony capped off the two-day conference this past weekend and at my table were three winners: Nassau County author R. W. Herman won Gold for his memoir, The Unopened Letter, Sharon Goldman of Ponte Vedra Beach captured a Bronze medal for her children's book, The Land of NO. And Parker Francis (aka Vic DiGenti) scored a Silver for his short story collection Ghostly Whispers, Secret Voices. At adjoining tables, Ponte Vedra Beach resident Rhonda Goodall collected a medal for her book, Where'd Grandma Go, and Jeff Walton for his novel Divine Return. Congratulations to all the winners, and to other area authors I may have missed.
That does it until next time, but I'll leave you with one more time fact. Did you know that time passes quicker for your face than your feet (assuming you're standing up). Einstein's theory of relativity dictates that the closer you are to the center of the Earth, the slower time goes. At the top of Mount Everest, a year would be about 15 microseconds shorter than at sea level. I guess that's why the sale of facial rejuvenation creams is booming.


Vic DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Friday, July 02, 2021

Summer Songs


According to my friend Google, there are 323 songs containing the word SUMMER in the title. We all have our favorites, I'm sure. From Summertime to The Boys of Summer to Hot Fun in the Summertime, these songs help us celebrate a more laid-back time, possibly when we were young and we'd put school and homework behind us for a few months. As adults, summer still evokes memories of backyard barbecues, family vacations, and days at the beach.

Today, we can say summer is a time to move forward with our lives after many months of pandemic-fed apprehension. And as writers, we can use this time to replenish ourselves and discover new ways to capture those stories bouncing around in our heads.

This summer also means most FWA writers groups are returning to a more normal schedule. Keep reading to see what's happening in NE Florida for area writers.

  •  Along with the heat and humidity, summer has brought change to NE Florida in the form of leadership for several writers groups. First, I'm sorry to report that Linda Feist has resigned from her position as group leader for Jacksonville's River City Writers. Linda is dealing with serious family issues so please join me in sending good wishes her way. While Linda didn't have a chance to really get started leading the group because of the pandemic shut-down, I want to thank her for volunteering and picking up the baton to keep the group moving forward. This leads me to ask who will be the next volunteer to take the baton of leadership? The group had been meeting at the SE Regional Library off Gate Parkway on the second Thursday of the month. Now that the libraries have opened their meeting spaces, it's a good time to schedule the meetings. If you are interested in being a group leader or have questions about a group leader's responsibilities, please email me at
  • The Ancient City Writers resume in-person meetings at St. Augustine's Main Library on Saturday, July 17 at 10:00 a.m. Rik Feeney is the guest speaker and he'll discuss media kits for authors.
  • Amelia Island Writers meets Tuesday, July 20 for their third annual Summer Camp for Adults. Our project is titled "The Pebble," and it involves creative writing to prompts. Summer Camp will be held at the Amelia Island History Museum, 5-7 pm. RSVP to Lee Ann, by July 17.
  • The Clay County Writers group is part of the other change previously announced. Author Melanie Pronia is the new leader for the group, which now meets at the Orange Park Senior Center, 414 Stowe Avenue in Orange Park. The group meets on Wednesday, July 21 at 3:15 p.m. and Cyd Hoskinson, a veteran news reporter with WJCT-FM, will talk about all the authors she's interviewed over her long career. This is a good time to learn how to best prepare for an interview about your book.
  • After hosting more than a dozen virtual writers' meetings via Zoom over the past year-and-a-half, I'm avoiding the Summertime Blues (Eddie Cochran—1958) and decided to enjoy Those Lazy-Hazy Days of Summer (Nat King Cole—1963) by taking July and August off. So there will be no meeting of the Ponte Vedra Writers until Saturday, September 11 at the Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library. But we're kicking off our in-person meetings with a Big Bang by welcoming Heather Whittaker as our first speaker. Heather is a developmental editor, author, writing coach, and fantastic speaker. If you attended either the 2017 or 2018 Florida Writers Conferences you probably attended one or more of Heather's standing-room-only workshops. She packs them in. Her topic is one of strategic importance to all writers, and that is "The Opening Fifteen Pages."  Watch this space for more details.
And in other news:
  • Get your poetry fix at the bi-monthly meetings of A Gathering of Poets, back at the Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library on the first and third Thursdays at 2:00 p.m. All poets welcome.
  • If you're an F. Scott Fitzgerald fan, specifically of his acclaimed novel, The Great Gatsby, you'll want to join the Jacksonville Public Library's virtual Lit Chat on Tuesday, July 6 at 1:00 p.m. I'm moderating a discussion with historian and author Richard Webb Jr. about his book, Boats Against the Current–The Honeymoon Summer of Scott and Zelda.  Fitzgerald fans, historians, and devotees have for decades investigated and debated the origins of the Gatsby story and settled on Great Neck, Long Island, where Scott and Zelda lived for a time, as providing the spark for the novel. But Webb, after reading an article in The New Yorker proposing that Westport, CT provided the true inspiration for the book, embarked on a years-long investigative journey to find the truth. The book reads like a fascinating mystery story, and you'll learn about Scott and Zelda's five-month honeymoon stay in Westport and the reclusive multi-millionaire who lived nearby and threw elaborate parties just like Gatsby. Click here to read more about the Lit Chat and to register for the event.
  • Here’s some good news for readers and writers: Jacksonville’s daily newspaper, The Florida Times-Union, is offering you an opportunity to be published on a regular basis as a book reviewer. Sunday book page editor Brandy Hilboldt Allport is seeking a few more reviewers to read and review current releases in both fiction and nonfiction. Your payment is in books and the experience and exposure you receive by appearing in print before tens of thousands of readers. Longtime reviewer Mims Cushing has all the details about how to select and obtain books. Contact her for more information at
  • I don't know how many of you are on LinkedIn, but I've recently been receiving notices of job openings for writers. Here's a link to the latest openings in that field.
  • And here's the recording link to the last Zoom session with Nancy Cohen discussing how to turn your book into an audiobook in case you missed it. Passcode: E0#q@jrM 
That's all, folks. Enjoy the Summer Breeze (Seals and Crofts—1972) and Summer in the City (The Lovin' Spoonful—1966)


Vic DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

FWA June 2021 Post

After many months of living under a dark cloud, sunlight has finally burst through bringing with it fresh hopes and promises of normalcy. Most of our libraries have opened the doors to their meeting rooms, and life is returning to normal. So, let's see what the immediate future has in store for NE Florida writers.

  • Change has become a way of life in the past year, and it continues with the Clay County Writers. Melanie Pronia has accepted the group leader position in place of the departing Paula Hilton. Thanks to Paula who had a brief tenure at the helm before everything was shut down last March, and thanks to Melanie for stepping up. She is the author of six novels and has moved quickly by first securing a new meeting venue and scheduling her first meeting. The group will meet for an introductory session on Wednesday, June 16 at 6:15 p.m. at the Orange Park Senior Center, 414 Stowe Avenue. Contact Melanie for more information about the meetings. Her email address is
  • St. Augustine's Ancient City Writers will hold its first in-person meeting at the Main Library on Saturday, July 17. Rik Feeney will address "Media Kits That Work." More info next month.
  • The River City Writers group will kick off its in-person meetings in September. Watch this space for more news.
  • Some of you have been regular participants in the Zoom sessions I've presented for the past year, and all are invited for my last scheduled virtual meeting on Saturday, June 26, at 10:30 a.m. Award-
    winning author Nancy Cohen will show us how easy it is to turn our books into audiobooks using the Amazon ACX program. Audiobook sales are booming and you can be among authors streaming their books out to thousands of eager listeners. Nancy, who will be part of the faculty at this year's Florida Writers Conference, is the author of the Bad Hair cozy mystery series. She's written 16 books in that series, as well as fantasy romances and nonfiction. Use the following link to participate in the June 26 meeting.  Meeting ID: 835 8210 5785Passcode: 183545
  • Amelia Island Writers group meets Tuesday, June 29, 3-5 pm, at the Story and Song Bookstore in Amelia Park. Award-winning historical fiction authors Nancy Blanton and JR Sharp discuss "Methods in Research." They write historically with confidence backed by meticulous attention to detail. This program is applicable to any genre, as we strive to be accurate in our settings, backstory, and with our characters.
And in other news ...
  • If you want to write modern romance that makes the readers blush, you might want to join Rik Feeney's Orlando Area Zoom meeting tomorrow evening at 7:00 p.m. Author AJ Robinson will discuss the different levels of erotic and power exchange and which are right for you, as well as what to avoid. Use this link to join the Zoom meeting:
  • Also tomorrow night, FAPA, the Florida Authors & Publishers Association, presents "Designing Your Book Like A Pro" with publisher/designer Ginger Marks and designer/artist Elizabeth Babski. Email FAPA President Pat Stanford at if you wish to attend.
  • And speaking of FAPA, they will hold their annual conference, FAPACon 2021, next month, July 30-31 at the Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace. Steve Berry is a keynoter, and the FAPA Book Awards dinner will be that Saturday evening. Click here for details.
  • Kudos to prolific author Edward Mickolus on the publication of his 43rd book, I Matter Too! Finding Meaning in Your Life at Any Age. This is volume two in the series he co-authored with Harlan Rector.
  • FWA's Florida Writers Conference is back, celebrating FWA's 20th Anniversary with 75 workshops and panels, eight agents, and new offerings like a poetry slam, a First Night Meet the Agents Panel, Elevator Pitch Training, and more. Visit the site for more information and registration details. 
Enjoy your summer!


Vic DiGenti
FWA Regional Director