Saturday, March 29, 2014

April Showers Bring April Taxes

April showers have apparently started early. As I write this the rain has been steady for over two hours. Maybe Mother Nature is celebrating the opening weekend of the new "Noah" movie. Since I'm confined to quarters, it's a good time to update the FWA blog with a new list of area meetings and events.

  • The Amelia Island Writers return to their first Tuesday meeting date, April 1. I'm sure it's a coincidence that is April Fool's Day, as group leader Maggie deVries is sure to have another fine program lined up. They will meet at 6:15 p.m. at the Marina Seafood Restaurant in Fernandina Beach. Please contact Maggie to RSVP at
  • River City Writers meet Tuesday, April 8 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library off Gate Parkway. They'll hear from Jennifer Shannon, author of Awakenings, about how she used social media to get an agent and get published. She'll also provide a brief tutorial on using Twitter. Contact group leader Gregg Golson for more details at
  • Clay County Writers meet on Wednesday, April 16, 6:15 p.m. at the Orange Park Library. Retired journalist Lamar Thames will speak on "Just the Facts, Ma'am." He'll share some of his secrets for getting the best interviews from your subjects. Contact Maureen Jung for more details.
  • The Nassau County Youth Writers, under the direction of hard-working James Weinsier, meet on the first and third Tuesdays at the Peck Center in Fernandina Beach at 4:45 p.m.
  • Ancient City Writers continue to meet at the Anastasia Island Branch Library due to ongoing renovations at the Main Library. They'll meet at 12:00 Noon on Saturday, April 26, to hear from Nancy Quatrano speaking on "Editing for the Sale."
  • And due to conflicts in all meeting spaces at the Ponte Vedra Library, the Ponte Vedra Writers will not meet this month. We'll return on Saturday, May 24 with a special panel discussion on children's books—writing and publishing.
  • Kimberly Smith leads the Jax Youth Writers on the last Thursday of the month at the SE Branch Library beginning at 6:45 p.m. Please contact Kimberly if you're willing to help coordinate the meetings.
  • FWA affiliate First Coast Christian Writers meets each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at the Webb-Wesconnett Library.
But wait, there's more:
  • The Florida Heritage Book Festival and Writers Conference last week announced this year's schedule of workshops and author presentations, September 25 - 27. Headlined by Literary Legend honoree Robin Cook, the Festival will also honor posthumously master crime writer John D. MacDonald. The Writers Conference will include critiques workshops on Thursday, September 25 and a full day of one-hour sessions on Friday. Featured Authors appearing on Saturday include Lisa Black, Jon Jefferson, Scott Eyman, John Dufresne, Connie Mae Fowler, and many more. Visit the Festival website for details.
  • Mystery author Michael Wiley, one of the Featured Authors at the Florida Heritage Book Festival, is the speaker at the Florida Sisters in Crime meeting, Saturday, April 5 at 10:30 a.m. at the SE Branch Library. Brothers and sisters are welcome. Visit the website for more information.
  • Editor/author Nancy Quatrano (On-Target Words) announces she is doing a fundraiser for Sisters in Crime. She will content edit ten pages of manuscript, either fiction or nonfiction, for $20, half of her regular fee, and donate it all to the local Sisters in Crime organization in celebration of the 10th anniversary this August. If interested, contact Nancy at 
  • April 26 seems to be a popular date. FWA is holding its Writer's Nest Mini-Conference on that date at the Hilton Orlando/Altamonte Springs. It features multi-million seller Davis Bunn as keynoter. Check it out at
  • Closer to home on April 26, Jane R. Wood and Frances Keiser present a workshop on how to publish a children's book. "Oh, the Places You'll Go" will take place from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. in the Event Hall at the Fair Trade Cafe, 4882 Palm Coast Parkway NW, Palm Coast. The fee is $59. Register at, or call Jane at 904-268-9572 for more information.
  • And even closer, Ancient City Romance Writers welcome author Diane Burke to their April 26 meeting to discuss "Gems from the Treasure Chest—Words of Wisdom from Successfully Published Authors." The meeting is from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. at the SE Branch Library. More info here.
  • If you're looking for a Beaches critique group, Mary Kohnke says they're looking for a few more writers for the Ponte Vedra group meeting twice a month at the PV Library. If interested, contact Mary via email or by phone: or 904-285-3452.
The rain has stopped for now, but even more dire things await: April 15 is income tax deadline. So I'll leave you with this bit of wisdom from Terry Pratchett, who said of death and taxes that taxes are worse, "because at least death didn't happen to you every year."


Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Friday, February 28, 2014

Forward March

With thanks to Howard Denson, I'll begin this month's FWA blog post with his quotation: "March will either come in like a line from Spillane or go out like Helen Steiner Rice…or vice versa." 

Looking at tomorrow's weather forecast it seems Helen has the edge as it should be a sunny day with temps in the low 70s. But enough about the weather, there's writing business to attend to. Here's my forecast for March.

  • Gregg Golson and Melissa Koscluszko lead the River City Writers group on Tuesday, March 11. They meet at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library to hear from Nancy Payne-Olewiler who will speak on "Grammar and Punctuation Pointers to Let Your Work Shine." Sounds like a topic many of us would benefit from.
  • The Amelia Island Writers are changing dates once again, but only for this month. They'll meet on Wednesday, March 12, still at 6:15 p.m. at the Marina Seafood Restaurant in downtown Fernandina Beach. The reason for the move is to accommodate the publishers of Heartland Books of Canada, who will present a program on the ins and outs of getting published. Contact Maggie de Vries for reservations and information at, or call 904-321-6180.
  • The Clay County Writers meet on Wednesday, March 19 at 6:15 p.m. at the Orange Park Library, 2054 Plainfield Avenue off Kingsley Avenue. Contact Maureen Jung for details.
  • Memoir guru Patricia Charpentier takes the Ponte Vedra Library stage to address the Ponte Vedra Writers chapter on Saturday, March 22 at 10:30 a.m. Patricia will tell us how to "Write Your Life Stories" in new and innovative ways. If you've ever thought about writing a memoir, then this is the meeting for you.
  • Renovations are under way at St. Augustine's Main Library, and the Ancient City Writers have moved to the Anastasia Island Branch Library, 124 Sea Grove Main Street. They've also moved their meeting date to Saturday, March 22 at 10:00 a.m. and will hear from Cheyenne Knopf, Marketing Manager of Cheyenne will address the business side of writing with her talk, "Financials of Book Selling: A Sales & Income Tax Workshop." Perfect timing as we approach April 15.
  • Kimberly Smith leads the Jax Youth Writers on the last Thursday of the month, 6:45 p.m. at the SE Branch Library. Kimberly is reaching out to find someone to help her lead this group of young writers. Contact her at
  • The Nassau County Youth Writers meet on the first and third Tuesday of the month at 4:445 p.m. at the Peck Center in Fernandina Beach. Contact Jim Weinsier for details.
  • FWA affiliate First Coast Christian Writers meets each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at the Webb-Wesconett Library.
And in other news:

  • The Douglas Anderson Writers' Festival presents "An Evening with Richard Ford," the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Independence Day and Canada. The event is on Saturday, March 8 at 7:00 p.m. at the UNF Andrew Robinson Theater. Tickets are $20. Click here for more information on the writers' festival.
  • There will be featured workshops for the writing community as part of Florida State College's 25th Annual International Conference on College Teaching and Learning. April Eberhardt, who bills herself as a Literary Change Agent, will conduct three workshops on March 24 and 25 at the FSCJ Deerwood Campus. The sessions are "The New Era of Publishing–How to Make It Work for You," "ePublishing: Who, What, Where, When, How–and Why," and "Writing Effective Short Stories." There's also a session on screenwriting, plus two keynote presentations, including one by theoretical physicist and futurist Michio Kaku, PhD. You've seen him on morning television and he'll be at the Sawgrass Marriott on Thursday, March 27 to talk about "The Future." Details and registration at, or contact Jack Chambers at
  • Local author, screenwriter and generally all-around ebullient person, Sharon Y. Cobb, presents two March writing workshops as part of the UNF Learn Jacksonville program. On March 1, "How to Publish You E-book," and "Marketing Your Books" on March 8. Visit the Learn Jacksonville website for registration details.
  • The Florida Sisters in Crime chapter meets tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. at the SE Regional Library. Brothers, as well as sisters are welcome. Their Book Club meets on the second Friday of the month, 2:00 p.m. at the Panera's at Atlantic and Southside Blvd. They will eat and discuss this month's book club selection, A Time to Live, A Time to Die, by Edith Maxwell. Visitors are welcome.
  • Lynn Shapyak Harlin announces registration is now open for the next Shanty Boat Workshop classes commencing March 26. Contact Lynn for details at 904-778-8000 or email her at
  • The Ancient City Romance Writers welcome author Cheryl Norman as their speaker on Saturday, March 22at 1:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library. She'll discuss "Active Voice vs Passive Voice (AKA Show Don't tell).
  • The Florida Authors & Publishers Association holds its Spring Conference on Saturday, March 8 from noon to 5:00 p.m. at Nova Southeastern University in Orlando. The theme of the conference is, "Book Marketing Sizzle! Igniting Your Writing and Publishing Sales. Click here for more information.
And since we opened with a quote alluding to the March weather, I'll end with another climate quote, this one from none other than Mark Twain.

"Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company."

Enjoy the first day of spring and Daylight Savings Time. More light to write by.

Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

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

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Make it a December to remember

If you're an unpublished author looking for inspiration to get on next year's book-buying gift list, then visit one of the following area FWA group meetings.
  • River City Writers meet Tuesday, December 10 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library to hear from Ellen Thornton, author  of The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis. Ellen's book was awarded a Bronze Medal by the Military Writers Society of America, and she will speak about writing historical fiction and how she markets her book.
  • The Nassau County Youth Writers meet Tuesday, December 17 at 5:00 p.m. at Books Plus in Fernandina Beach. 
  • There will be no meeting of the Amelia Island Writers this month, but they will return in January in a new location and meeting date, the first Tuesday, January 7 at 6:15 p.m. at the Marina Restaurant.
  • Embedded in Clay is the title of the Clay County Writers anthology project, and it's the subject of the group's December meeting on Wednesday, the 18th at 6:15 p.m. at the Orange Park Library. Each writer will have three minutes to summarize their project and get feedback. Great project! Contact group leader Maureen Jung for more information.
  • Saturday, December 21 at 10:00 a.m. is when the Ancient City Writers Chapter meets at St. Augustine's Main Library. They'll hear from ebook production specialist John Simmons talking about the differences between ebooks and tree books. If you have questions about what's involved with formatting your book, John has the answers. The annual Christmas party follows John's presentation with refreshments, door prize drawings, and lots of books.
  • The Ponte Vedra Writers group will not meet this month due to the holiday. Instead, you are invited to join the Ancient City Writers meeting on the 21st. Join us in January when Richard Levine will kick off the New Year with an eye-opening presentation on book trailers.
  • The Jax Youth Writers will gather the day after Christmas, Thursday, December 26 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library. Contact group leader Kimberly Smith for details.
  • First Coast Christian Writers, an FWA affiliate, continue to meet each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at the Webb-Wesconnett Library.
More of interest for writers::
  • An earlier post listed FWA RPLA winners from NE Florida, but we neglected to list the top award—the Published Book of the Year for 2013—which went to J. Rivers Hodge for his novel, The Legend of Anne Southern. Jim, an FWA member and a Jacksonville resident, is married to his writing partner, Brenda. Congratulations to Jim and Brenda for being honored by his peers for his novel, which also took first place for Historical Fiction.
  • FWA is hosting a number of mini-conferences in 2014 starting with the First Annual Mid-Winter Conference West and Reading Festival to be held in downtown Bradenton, January 10 and 11. Click here for all the details.
  • Look for these other FWA events: The Lady Lake Memoir Mini-Conference, February 22, 2014; Southeast Mini-Conference in Plantation, FL on March 29; the 3rd Annual Writer's Nest Mini-Conference at Altamonte Springs, April 26th; a Poetry Mini-Conference on May 17th in the Sarasota/Venice area; the 2nd Annual Nonfiction Mini-Conference in Altamonte Springs, June 28; and the 6th Annual Florida Writers Foundation Celebrity Workshop, October 23 at the Lake Mary Marriott.
  • If you're still looking for a critique group, FWA member Susan Kiernan-Lewis is seeking writing partners for a new group she is forming in Jacksonville. Interested? Contact Susan at
  • Florida Sisters in Crime holds its annual Christmas party this Saturday, December 7 at 10:30 a.m. at the SE Branch Library.
  • The Ancient City Romance Writers will not meet this month.
  • IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association) issued its last call for submissions for the Benjamin Franklin Awards. The deadline is December 31. Visit the website for guidelines and details.
  • The 2013-2014 Los Angeles Book Festival has issued a call for entires to its annual celebration of books deserving more attention. The competition covers most genres and is open to independents and self-published works as well as those from traditional publishers. It offers a $1,500 cash prize and trip to L.A. for the winner. Guidelines can be found here.
And while we hope the holidays are not only bright for all of us, but warm as well, an old Inuit
proverb seems to fit the season: "May you have warmth in your igloo, oil in your lamp, and peace in you heart."

Happy holidays, 

Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Friday, November 01, 2013

Get ready for NaNoWriMo

Last year 341,375 people decided they'd write 50,000 words during the 30 days of November. They were part of the National Novel Writing Month challenge which kicks off today, Friday, November 1. There's a NaNoWriMo website where you can register and track your progress on a daily basis, if you wish. They also have a forum divided by geographic regions where you may chat with others and/or get together to encourage one another. Believe it or not, there are more than 400 writers already registered from the St. Augustine area. The official kick-off was midnight today, November 1. Jump in and give it a try. Good luck.

When you're not knocking out your 1,666 words a day you might visit one of this month's FWA writers group meetings for even more motivation. Here's what's planned for November:

  •  Chris Berman will be the speaker at the River City Writers group meeting on Tuesday, November 12. The group meets at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library to hear Chris talk about how he incorporates historical figures in his novels. Gregg Golson has more information.
  • Learn how to build more suspense into your fiction at this month's meeting of the Ancient City Writers, 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 16 at St. Augustine's Main Library. Award-winning mystery author Parker Francis (aka Vic DiGenti) presents, "The Suspense is Killing Me," an interactive workshop providing clues on how to stretch the tension, raise the stakes and layer on the suspense to keep the reader hooked. 
  • The Nassau County Youth Writers meet on Tuesday, November 19 at Books Plus in Fernandina Beach. The youth group meets at 5:00 p.m., followed immediately at 6:15 p.m. by the adult FWA group, the Amelia Island Writers.
  • Maureen Jung, the Clay County Writers group leader will facilitate the Wednesday, November 20 meeting at the Orange Park Library. Meeting at 6:15 p.m., the group will discuss "Goal Setting for Writers," There will be an exercise on mapping your goals, and the group will also discuss the anthology project that's underway. Contact Maureen at
  • FWA affiliate group, First Coast Christian Writers, meets each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at the Webb-Wesconnett Library.
  • There will be no meeting of the Jax Youth Writers this month due to the holiday. They will return on December 26.
  • Because this month's date of the Ponte Vedra Writers meeting falls on the beginning of both Thanksgiving week and Hanukkah, plus the fact the group leader will be MIA, you are encouraged to join the Ancient City Writers on the 16th to get your writing fix. Or you may attend any of the other meetings if you wish.
In other news:
Chrissy Jackson
  • You missed a good one if you missed this year's FWA Conference several weekends ago. The good news is FWA will have six mini-conferences in 2014 all over the state starting with a two-day Reading Festival January 10-11 in Bradenton. Other mini-conferences will be held in  Lady Lake, Plantation, and two in Altamonte Springs. Two others are in the planning stages set for Tampa and Sarasota. 
  • In other FWA news: Our esteemed leader Ms. Chrissy Jackson serves out the remainder of her second term this year and will be replaced by Chris Coward. Chrissy has done a phenomenal job leading our organization as both VP and President, and she will stay on the board as Director Emeritus assisting with the conferences. Chris Hamilton was elected as Executive Vice President and the treasurer and secretary positions retitled as Vice Presidents.
  • You can stay on top of all  FWA news via the FWA Network. If you haven't registered as a member of the network you're missing out on a great resource.
  • Congratulations to all the RPLA winners, including several from our Northeast Florida region: Dean Lohse, Heather Hamel, Kimberly Smith and Melissa Kosciuszko were among the winners from our area. Also Jeff Swesky and Bridget Callaghan, formerly from St. Augustine and Palm Coast, won for Best Screenplay (Unpublished) and also received the Dahris Clair Memorial Award for the screenplay, Thornetta: The Musical.
  • Florida Sisters in Crime members gather around the crime scene this Saturday, November 2 at the SE Regional Library. They'll hear from Susan Kiernan-Lewis, author of over 15 books. Susan will present "Birth of a Series" in Meeting Room A.
  • First Coast Romance Writers meets Saturday, November 9 at 10:30 a.m. at the Chaffee Road Library to hear cookbook author Belinda Hulin present two workshops: "Cooking Up Spicy Romance Fiction: Enriching Fiction Through Food Imagery," and "Secrets of Print and Digital Media." Belinda was the former editor of SKIRT! Magazine and the former Times-Union Food Editor.
  • The Ponte Vedra Critique group is looking to add a few more writers to the group. They meet twice a month at the Ponte Vedra Library. If you're interested contact Mary Kohnke at 904-285-3452.
  • The Attic Girls, a S. Florida critique group led by Jade Kerrion (she won three RPLA's at the recent conference) is hosting a short story contest deadlined November 15. The contest is open to any genre with a limit of 1,500 words. There's a $5 entry fee. Read the contest guidelines here.
Until next month, keep writing, especially if you're hoping to complete a novel in a month. I'll leave you with this final quote by the late, great Ray Bradbury:

"Write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.

Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

October Rocks

Writers may be forgiven if they give in to flights of fancy and grandiose phrases, so when FWA selected as its conference title, "The Greatest Writers Conference on Earth," it was an understandable piece of marketing hyperbole. That's not to say FWA's 12th Annual Writers Conference, October 18 - 20, won't be great. They usually are, and with so much more to offer this year they just might live up to the title.

As usual, writers may pitch agents and publishers, network with bestselling authors and learn from the pros. Bestselling romance/suspense writer Mary Burton precedes the conference with her day-long Foundation Celebrity Workshop, "Writing Your Book ... The First Step." In the workshop, Mary reveals her real world secrets to writing success. Mary has been dubbed "the queen of modern-day romantic suspense." The workshop benefits the Florida Writers Foundation which helps promote literacy and enhance writing skills throughout the state. Read more about the workshop by clicking here.

The conference also includes all the craft and marketing workshops you could hope for, plus the annual Royal Palm Literary Awards dinner. And for the first time, FWA is holding a youth conference for writers under the age of 18. The deadline for registration is October 9. After that you'll have to register on site. So visit this site for all the information and to register.

Here's what's happening at our FWA NE Florida Writers Groups this month:

  • River City Writers meets this month on Tuesday, October 8 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library. Group leader Gregg Golson reports that author Jamie Engle is the guest speaker. Jaime, pictured at right, recently launched her debut novel, Clifford Chase and the Arrow of Light. She'll talk about her writing process and how she's marketing the novel. For more information on this meeting please contact Gregg at
  • Nassau County Youth Writers meets on the third Tuesday of the month, October 15 at 5:00 p.m. at Books Plus in Fernandina Beach.
  • Amelia Island Writers have their meeting immediately following the Youth Writers on the 15th at Books Plus, around 6:15 p.m. Maggie deVries, proprietor of Books Plus, is the group leader.
  • FWA's Clay County Writers group meets on Wednesday, October 16 at 6:15 p.m. at the Orange Park Library, 2054 Plainfield Avenue, behind the Dairy Queen. Group leader Maureen Jung has another intriguing program, "The Art of Book Trailers." Richard Levine discusses the what, why and how of book trailers. 
  • The Ancient City Writers of St. Augustine will not have a meeting this month as they will be attending the "Greatest Conference on Earth" in Lake Mary. They invite you to join them at the conference, and attend the Ponte Vedra Writers meeting on the 26th. While you're waiting, check out their new website created by Sharon Buck.
  • Jax Youth Writers meet on Thursday, October 24 at 7:00 p.m. at the SE Branch Library to hear FWA Regional Director and mystery author Vic DiGenti (aka Parker Francis) talk about the importance of becoming a good storyteller. Contact group leader Kimberly Smith for more details.
  • First Coast Christian Writers, an affiliate of FWA, meets each Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at the Webb-Wesconnett Library.
  • If you enjoyed Bev Browning's double session on writing humor at last Friday's Florida Heritage
    Book Festival Writers Conference, you'll want to be at the Saturday, October 26 meeting of the Ponte Vedra Writers. Bev returns to present her popular "Shimmer" workshop. Bev says, knowing how to craft a sentence to manipulate response and amplify meaning is a technical amalgamation of art and science. Once mastered, it's the difference between a good piece and a great one. The technique's name, "Shimmer," refers to the transparent layers that create subtle dimension in written work. There will be a few writing exercises so bring your writing supplies, and did we mention there's chocolate involved?  What's not to like?

More happenings for writers:
  • Florida Sisters in Crime meets Saturday, October 5 at 10:30 a.m. at the SE Branch Library to hear from psychologist Linda Willson. Her topic, "The Therapist Goes to Jail — Often."
  • First Coast Romance Writers offer two workshops on Saturday October 12 at the Chaffee Road Library. Catherine Kean conducts the morning session starting at 10:30 a.m. with a workshop on "Figurative Language." She'll show you how to use figurative language to enrich your characters and stories. Catherine hangs around for the afternoon session and is joined by T. Elliott Brown and Caro Carson talking about their radio show for writers and indie publishers. Visit the website for more information.
  • Register for the Ancient City Romance Writers 2013 Fiction Writer's Conference On the Beach, October 25-26 at Hampton Inn St. Augustine Beach. The conference welcomes authors Elizabeth Sinclair, Kathryn J. Bain, Nancy Quatrano and Delores J. Wilson. Visit the ACRA website for more information.
  • If you're looking for a reason to visit lovely Southwest Florida, the Pine Island Chamber of Commerce is hosting Matlacha Authors Days, November 30 and December 1 in Matlacha Park. It's billed as an opportunity "to promote your book, your writing and yourself." Each author will have a chance to talk about, sign and sell their books. There's a per author cost of $75. More details can be found here.
  • Frances Keiser and Jane Wood, aka "Get Book Savvy," announce the start of the Authors Network, a place to network with other writers and have your questions answered by professionals. Their first meeting is Tuesday, October 29 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Applebees in St. Augustine, 225 State Road 312 near US 1. There's a $20 per person cost. Contact Jane at for more information.
  • For those of you who plan ahead and like to travel, novelist, short story writer and creative writing professor John Dufresne will be at the Seaside Institute's Academic Village, February 6 to 8, 2014 for a short story workshop. It's limited to only 12 participants. For more information and to register for the workshop, visit the Seaside Institute's website.
  • And while we're planning ahead, FWA is hosting a two-day Reading Festival in downtown Bradenton on January 10-11, 2014. The event is open to the public and will include workshops, agents/publishers interview, and author readings. Visit the FWA Conference page for details.
I'll see you at the "Greatest Writers Conference on Earth."

Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director