Thursday, March 31, 2022

Little Write Lie

Contrary to what many of you might imagine, a career in letters is not without its drawbacks -- chief among them the unpleasant fact that one is frequently called upon to sit down and write. -- Fran Lebowitz

Not to be argumentative, Fran, but some of us enjoy the act of writing. Of course, some of us are also liars—we tell lies for fun and profit!

But here's the truth about what's happening in the NE Florida neighborhood for writers seeking some inspiration.
  • The Ponte Vedra Writers group has been politely pushed from its regular fourth Saturday meeting date by the library to the second Saturday in April. On Saturday, April 9 at 10:00 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Beach Library, Chris Gabbard will speak about writing his memoir A Life Beyond Reason: A Disabled Boy and His Father's Enlightenment (Beacon 2020). In it, Gabbard talks about his son August, who passed away at the age of fourteen. Gabbard will explore how the first draft of a creative non-fiction piece focusing on a deeply felt personal loss will often amount to a cry of pain, a blurt of undifferentiated sentiments, and unplotted memories and thoughts. Dr. Gabbard is a Professor of English at the University of North Florida, and he'll talk about the first draft of your memoir.
  • Bestselling thriller author John Gilstrap presents a Zoom workshop titled "Whose Story Are You Telling?" at the River City Writers April 12 meeting beginning at 6:30 p.m. Choosing the correct point of view is one of the key elements of dramatic storytelling. Author John Gilstrap has been praised by Publishers Weekly for “flawless characterization” in his books, and in this interactive session, he’ll walk you through the critical decisions that help you propel your story through the most dramatic set of eyes. Gilstrap's protagonist in his new Victoria Emerson thriller series has been praised by Jeffrey Deaver as “One of the most singular and compelling heroines to come along in years.” Use this link to join Gilstrap on the 12th:

  • The FWA Ancient City Chapter meets on Saturday, April 16, at 10:00 a.m. at St. Augustine's Main Library. Dr. Margaret Nicholson will present "How Websites Can Overcome Fear of Publishing." In her talk on why websites are important, she'll discuss the use of a website for writing and publishing along with quick and easy steps to post a blog story.
  • Clay County Writers group leader Melanie Pronia is planning either a Zoom or Facebook Video meeting for the group's April 20 meeting. Contact Melanie directly for more information. She can be reached at
  • The Amelia Island Writers is sticking to its quarterly meeting schedule and won't meet this month. However, there are several groups focusing on critiques, memoirs/biographies, and screenwriting. If interested, contact Marla McDaniel,
Update on liars: Not all lying is confined to writers, of course. Jimmy Fallon in one of his "Thank You Notes" bits had this to say: Thank you, horseradish, for being neither a radish nor a horse. What you are is a liar food. 

And in other news ...
  • Save the date for Florida WritersCon 2022, October 28-30. The featured speaker is Sarah Penner, author of the New York Times bestseller, The Lost Apothecary, which debuted at #7 on the NYT hardcover fiction list and is in the works as a TV drama series at Fox. Registration opens on May 1 but a partial schedule can be found here.
  • Submissions to the Royal Palm Literary Awards competition close on April 30. The competition covers multiple categories of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and more, but remember you must be a member to submit your work for judging. Visit the FWA website to join and for more information.
  • Congratulations to Kurt McGill on the publication of his crime thriller, Night Pictures. One reviewer said, "He has almost uncannily melded into one thriller many of their (pulp novelists of the 60s) best sinister bad guys, mean streets and alleys, protagonists stunned into self-reflection, and obsessive, addicted social isolates."
  • If you're into contests, the Kindle Book Awards are now open for submissions.
  • And Craft Literary has another Short Fiction competition for stories from 1,000 to 5,000 words. The winner receives $2,000 and runners-up $500. More info can be found here.
  • I've mentioned how LinkedIn keeps trying to find me a job. In its latest listing was a writer position with Netflix. Part of the job description reads, "The Writer will work with the narrative and creative teams to create dialog, mood, emotion, and descriptors for the established vision." Just up my alley, I thought, until it turns out it's for gamers. Still, an intriguing job for a writer, and so far 4,421 applicants agree with me. 
That's all folks. Keep writing and don't forget what Ernest Hemingway said, "A writer of fiction is really... a congenital liar who invents from his own knowledge or that of other men." Of course, if Ernest wasn't such a misogynist he would have added "or women" to that sentence.


Vic DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Monday, February 28, 2022

Book 'Em, Danno!

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." 
Groucho Marx


If you're a fan of the original Hawaii Five-0 series you know the line spoken by Steve McGarrett, played by Jack Lord, became a classic catchphrase. As writers, we can use our literary license to use the phrase as motivation to keep writing our book, or if it's already published go ahead and Book a speaking engagement or book signing. We know that progress is made by taking the initial step and continuing to move forward. So, hat's off to McGarrett and Danno.

And a special salute to Groucho for his loyalty to books and dogs, and for always finding a way to make people laugh. All of this (except the dogs) will be addressed in upcoming meetings, so read on.
  • The River City Writers will use their Tuesday, March 8 meeting to critique works in progress. If you're interested in participating, contact group leader Kathy Bain,
  • The Ancient City Writers have been allowed to return to their meeting room at the St. Augustine Mian Library and will host an entertaining speaker on Saturday, March 19 at 10:00 a.m. Romance author and former TV producer/host Sandra Madden presents "Lighten Up: Gatting Serious about Humor." She will address when it's appropriate to use humor and the different ways humor can be incorporated into most novels. All are welcome, the only requirement is a sense of humor.
  • The quarterly meeting of the Amelia Island Writers is scheduled for Tuesday, March 22, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the Story & Song Bookstore in Fernandina Beach. The special guest speaker is Dr. Terry Maple, a behavioral research scientist and former President/CEO of Zoo Atlanta. Maple wrote Atlanta's Iconic Ape: The Life of Willie B. Willie B. was a silverback ape and his story is a metaphor for the transformation of Zoo Atlanta into one of America's most innovative zoological parks. Dr. Maple, who has retired on Amelia Island, will discuss his book and the transformation of Zoo Atlanta.
  • Contact Clay County Writers group leader Melanie Pronia for information on upcoming meetings.
  • Listen up, introverted writers, this one's for you. Noted author, editor, and speaker Nancy Quatrano will address "Transforming Writers into Speakers" at the Saturday, March 26 meeting of the Ponte Vedra Writers. As we know, writing is an activity that requires solitude and most of us thrive in that environment. But when it comes to getting out in public and marketing their books, the introverted writer needs to know how to hold and sell an audience. Nancy tells us that “one of the most powerful ways to build fans and credibility is by speaking face-to-face with people. Whether you’re holding a book signing event or speaking on a topic related to your book, public speaking can improve your value by fifty-percent.” The meeting begins at 10:00 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library.
But wait, there's more!
  • The NE Florida chapter of Florida Sisters in Crime meets this Saturday, March 5 at 10:00 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library to hear noted author Parker Francis—Yep, that's me—discuss how
    to keep your reader in a constant state of anticipation. During my talk, "The Suspense is Killing Me," I'll share some of the secrets bestselling authors and the late, great Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock use to ramp up the suspense. Learn how to involve the reader and make them care about your character while putting them in jeopardy. You don't have to be a "Sister" or a crime writer to attend, but bring your sense of anticipation.
  • A Gathering of Poets, Hope at Hand and the North Florida Poetry Hub are sponsoring a poetry contest for high school students (9-12 grade). Video, audio, or email submissions are welcome, accompanied by a print version of the poem with a 40 line limit. Awards are First prize, $200; Second prize, $150; Third prize, $75. The deadline for submissions is March 15 with festive public event and award presentations on April 10. Inquire further or send entry materials to
  • The Florida Authors & Publishers Association (FAPA) presents writer and YouTube blogger Shaelin Bishop on "Marketing Your Book." To register, and indicate you will be attending.
  • Noted poet and author Shutta Crum presents a free Zoom workshop on "Getting Published by Using Duotrope" on Tuesday, March 29 at 7:30 p..m. It's hosted by the North Florida Poetry Hub, and you must register to participate. Go to either Meetup or Facebook Events to RSVP.
  • Celebrate St. Patrick's Day at the Mocama Brewery in Fernandina Beach with a fun-forward program hosted by Nancy Blanton and Jim Ramage. Learn some Irish vocabulary, read a limerick or share an Irish poem. Music and more merriment follow.
  • Remember that both the RPLA and Collections 14 are open for submissions. Visit for details. 
And if you've ever received a poor review on Amazon or elsewhere, take heart. I'll leave you with reviews of a few noteworthy books.

The Saturday Review of Literature on F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby: "What has never been alive cannot very well go on living. So this is a book of the season only."

The NY Times on The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway: "…leaves one with the feeling that the people it describes really do not matter; one is left in the end with nothing to digest."

The New York Times on Catch 22 by Joseph Heller: "…it gasps for want of craft and sensibility…the book is an emotional hodgepodge; no mood is sustained long enough to register for more than a chapter."


Vic DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Tuesday, February 01, 2022

"February is for doers"


"If January is the month of lasting change, January is for dreamers. February is for doers." ~ Marc Parent

For all the doers out there, we post opportunities to find inspiration, education, and positive reinforcement at FWA NE Florida meetings. Here's what's in store for this month.
  • The River City Writers invite you to join the next Zoom meeting on Tuesday, February 8 at 6:30 P.M when they will dive into character and point of view. The topic is "Whose Story Is It Anyway?" And you may participate by clicking on this link: Member ID: 734 2003 3961.
  • February is the month the AARP in St. Augustine flexes its muscles and pushes the Ancient City Writers out of its meeting room. So they'll be on hiatus this month, but if you need help with your taxes, drop by the St. Augustine Main Library and talk to one of the AARP folk. The writer's group returns in March with a cheerful presentation on how to inject humor into your writing, a discussion led by author Sandra Madden.
  • Amelia Island Writers had a full house last month to hear Florida author Craig Pittman's entertaining take on "Weird Florida." They were laughing so much they had to take this month off but will return on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, with an event they call "The Irish Open." The small groups on memoir and biography continue to meet. For more information contact Marla McDaniel.
  • The Clay County Writers continue to work on formulating future programs. Contact group leader Melanie Pronia for input and information.
  • You may know Don Fox as the CEO of a billion-dollar Jacksonville company, but he is so much more. 
    Don has helped Firehouse Subs become a national brand with more than 1,200 fast-casual restaurants. But he is also a military historian and published author with two histories of General Patton's Fourth Armored Division during World War II. Don will join the Ponte Vedra Writers group on Saturday, February 26 at the Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library at 10:00 a.m. He will present "Separating Fact from Fiction: Lessons Learned on the Road to Bastogne," in which he'll share lessons on research, structuring your narrative for nonfiction writers, promoting your book, and much more.

And in other news ...

  • Florida Sisters in Crime meets Saturday, February 5 at 10:00 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Branch Library to hear from Kaye Schmitz, author of On Deadly Grounds, discussing "Research Like Crazy—Write Calmly."
  • The Royal Palm Literary Awards competition is now open for submissions. Beat the rush and enjoy early bird entrance fees. Find out more here.
  • Volume 14 of the FWA Collection is also open for submissions as of February 1. There is no entrance fee. This year's theme is "Thrills and Chills," and author Barbara Rein will select the top ten winning submissions. Details can be found on the same page as the RPLAs.
  • We all know that the annual Florida Writers Conference is back on track for an in-person gathering in October. Visit for details. But here's news of some other conferences you may be interested in.
    • This month's Amelia Island Book Festival, including the Festival Gala and Author Expo, has been canceled due to Covid concerns. They will offer a number of other activities. Visit the website for more information.
    • The Southwest Florida Reading Festival in Fort Myers, Florida, is scheduled for March 5.
    • The Palm Beach Book Festival in Boca Raton is scheduled for March 10-12.
    • ThrillerFest XVII is set for May 31 - June 4 at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel. Presented by the International Thriller Writers, it features bestselling authors, informative panels, master classes, and much more. Registration info here.
    • SleuthFest 2022 is back after a Covid year off, July 7-10, in Deerfield Beach and Boca Raton. 
    • Killer Nashville, August 18 - 21, brings together writers and readers of mysteries and crime fiction. Here's the website for more information.
    • And one of my favorite writer/reader conferences is Bouchercon, billing itself as the World Mystery Convention. The convention attracts up to 2,000 writers and readers and moves to a different host city each year. This year's conference is in Minneapolis, "The Land of 10,000 Crimes," on September 8-11. Information can be found here.
  • Bill Opperman, Chairperson for the 2022 Royal Palm Literary Awards, is searching for prospective judges for the prestigious awards competition. If you'd like to be considered, visit this page and complete the survey.
  • Congrats to William Wildey with Ed Mickolus for their new book TRIVIA MATTERS: A TRIVIA HOST SOURCEBOOK It includes more than 800 researched and play-tested questions.
  • Jennifer Bjork has published THE WHISTLING GALILEAN: SHAI'S JOURNEY, a coming-of-age historical novel set in the first century. Congratulations!
  • I had originally joined LinkedIn when I had a real job and later updated it when I began writing and publishing. And while I occasionally used it to contact an individual I seldom checked it. But they never forgot me and kept the emails coming urging me to upgrade to the fee-based Premium membership, which I ignored. But in recent months I've received numerous notices of local and more distant writer-specific job openings. Now it occurs to me that if you're looking for a writer position—and many of these are work-from-home type jobs—you could register for LinkedIn. Just a thought. 

That's all folks. Remember to be a Doer this month.


Vic DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Sunday, January 02, 2022

A New Year. A New Start!

 "We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives ... not looking for flaws but for potential."

~ Ellen Goodman

The internet is awash with suggestions on how to usher in a new year, set new goals, and resolve to make meaningful changes in our lives. And after the last two years, we're all looking for a fresh start and a little more normalcy. Jumping back into the writing life by attending area FWA group meetings is one way to travel a more positive path, and we have a month-full of opportunities for you.

  • The River City Writers group returns with a motivational Zoom presentation by author Bob Boze, owner of Bob will talk about setting your writing goals for 2022. Hop aboard the Zoom train on Tuesday, January 11 at 6:30p.m. by clicking on this link: Meeting ID: 779 6359 4927
  • Amelia Island Writers rings in the new year with a special luncheon event on Saturday, January 15, 12:30 - 2:30, at Story and Song Bookstore Bistro. Award-winning Florida author, Craig Pittman, will appear with Friction Farm, a highly acclaimed singing duo. Craig will present his "Oh, Florida!" chat about our state's culture, complete with the weird and wonderful. The program is partially funded through Florida Humanities, Florida Talks. Tickets are $25.00. Call 904-601-2118 for reservations.
  • In St. Augustine's Main Library, the Ancient City Writers will meet on Saturday, January 15 at 10:00 a.m. to hear from Skye Taylor, the globe-trotting, parachuting grandmother, and novelist. Skye will tell us how to keep ramping up the tension throughout your novel.
  • The Ponte Vedra Writers group kicks off the new year with one of our most popular speakers. Brad Kuhn will take the Ponte Vedra Library stage on Saturday, January 22 at 10:00 a.m. to present, "Self-Publishing: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." 
    Brad returns with real-world insights from more than three decades of experience as a writer, publisher, and publicist. He's been down this road a few times and has some good advice to share.
  • Contact Clay County Writers Group Leader Melanie Pronia for details of the January meeting.

And in other news:

                                Remembering Rik Feeney
Florida writers lost a good friend, prolific author, able book doctor and publisher, and popular speaker when Rik Feeney, age 63, passed away unexpectedly last month. Rik touched so many of us with his offbeat humor and helpful manner. Although he lived in Altamonte Springs, Rik frequently made the trip to NE Florida to attend our meetings, and we could always count on him to present a new workshop on almost any aspect of the writing and publishing business. Rik was a Lifetime FWA member, and Group Leader of the Orlando FWA chapter for twelve years, and will be missed. 
  • In case you missed it, FWA is offering an amazing deal to jumpstart your learning with master classes they call Total Acceleration. For only $69, you receive access to new advanced classes like Formatting with InDesign, Making School Visits Fun and Profitable, and Mastering Memoir: Beyond the Basics. But wait, there's more. Aside from these and other new workshops, you'll have access to the best of former webinars. And all for only $69. Click on the Total Acceleration link for details.
  • Maybe you've always wanted to be an FWA board member. Now's your chance. Submit an application at this link.
That's it for now, but we'd be interested in hearing about your New Year's resolutions. Send them to me and I'll include the best in the next blog post. Until then, a word of warning: If you've resolved to take more risks in 2022, keep in mind what Steven Wright said, "If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving is definitely not for you."


Vic DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

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