FWA Conference: The Gathering of the Tribe

The gathering of the Florida Writers Association in Altamonte Springs this year meant long days, catching up with friends, and receiving an award for my third book. This year’s theme was Writers at Work.

Funny that most of us took off work to attend. I wasn’t teaching this year, so I got to wander and relax.

Workshops

Kudos to Carol J. Post for all the workshops and interviews she conducted. How busy was she? Her shadow had trouble keeping up.

Carol J. Post leading a workshop.

The workshops ran the gamut of all stages of writing and marketing. People huddled in animated clusters in the lobby, the bar, and the ballrooms to talk about writing. The youth segment of the conference was the largest in FWA history. Panel discussions presented trending industry news and experiences.

The special guest speakers were Delilah S. Dawson (Florida Writer of the Year), Sherrilyn Kenyon (National Guest of Honor), and Jonathan Maberry (National Guest of Honor). Each spoke with candor and enthusiasm about the writer’s journey from avid reader to prolific writer.

Networking

A few highlights for me were meeting amazing people like award-winning author Micki Browning. Thank you, Micki, for not entering the contest this year in my category. Thank you also for signing a copy of Beached. She taught a workshop on conducting underwater investigations. With two decades of law enforcement experience, diver and Retired Division Commander, Micki knows the coolest stuff!

finalist badge

Nina Love, Donna Kelly, Carol J. Post and I enjoy the Royal Palm Literary Awards dinner.

So after long, fun days and nights of workshops and networking, we gathered in the ballroom for dinner and the Royal Palm Literary Awards Ceremony. Dinner was delicious.

Dessert by the chef at the Hilton Orlando/Altamonte Springs.

The dessert was a masterpiece! I ate the chocolate typewriter and white chocolate paper. The chef at the Hilton Orlando/Altamonte Springs always surprises us with something special.

Dr. Paul Linzey teaches at Southeastern University and he won Gold at the Royal Palm Literary Awards.

A special shout out to Dr. Paul Linzey who won Gold in the category of unpublished autobiography or memoir for Safest Place in Iraq.

Cheers to Aimee Hill who won Gold for River of Gray and Chet Meisner who won silver for D.I.T.T.O. in the category of unpublished thriller or suspense. I took home the bronze for West of Famous.

West of Famous in the Compass Crimes

And now, back to work. The East book is not going to write itself. So here I go on a writing marathon with thousands of other writers to participate in writing 50,000 words in November. This challenge is known as the National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo is calling!

In Honor of Speed

On October 14, 1947, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier over Rogers Dry Lake, California, in the X-1 rocket plane.

On October 14, 2012, Felix Baumgartner broke the sound barrier by skydiving over the desert in Roswell, New Mexico.

speedIn honor of speed lovers like Yeager and Baumgartner, I throw down the challenge to my writing friends to write a novel in a month, a challenge taken up world-wide in November. It sounds insane. It sounds impossible. And that’s what makes it fun!

Known to participants as NANOWRIMO, it is a month-long marathon of writing which frees us to write so fast, and with such wild abandon, that the lazy, mean-spirited, inner critic cannot possibly catch up.

For non-writers, let me illustrate the destructive complaints of the inner critic. “You call that prose?” “Egad, that’s the lamest metaphor since man first put pen to paper.” “Don’t write another sentence until you look up the spelling of that word!” “Should the past-tense form be lie or lay?” The voice of the nag might sound like a grade-school English teacher, or a loved one with whom the writer carelessly shared a draft version of a story. “Well, that’s not as good as Grisham.” Ouch.

Nanowrimo is the ideal way for aspiring authors to fearlessly hammer out that ugly first draft. Oh, and it will be ugly in epic proportions. The inner critic will writhe in the dust behind pages and pages of flowing prose. After a while of pounding out two-thousand words each day, writers break the sound barrier and can no longer hear the hypercritical whines of the inner critic. The peace that follows arrives like a runner’s high. Endorphins flood the bloodstream. Caffeine feels like jet fuel. There will be typos and misspellings and grammar blunders galore, but NOBODY cares because the point is to get 50,000 words on the screen in 30 days.

As someone who has participated for years, I have learned that October is the month to plot scenes, to design my hero or heroine, to craft a worthy villain, and to choose a setting in which to unleash the story. speedStocked up on caffeine. Cleared the schedule. Won’t answer the phone, but will check messages during potty breaks. I’m all in.

Shrug off your inner critic. I dare you. The NANOWRIMO challenge is on. Are you in? See http://www.nanowrimo.org for the details on how to participate.