Sunday, November 1, 2009

Local Writers Win Prestigious RPLA Award, Announced at Statewide Florida Writers Association Conference.

The Florida Writers Association (FWA) has announced that four local writers won prestigious Royal Palm Literary Awards (RPLA). Martha Powers’ Conspiracy of Silence won Second Place for Published Thriller. Shara Pendragon Smock’s winning entry, Is This My Baby? won Second Place for Unpublished Essay. Kathryn Taromina’s The Legend of the Yule Log won Second Place for Unpublished Children’s Book. John White’s Prodigious Savant won First Place for Mainstream (unpublished) and an honorable mention for Talonfire for Unpublished Flash Fiction.

In addition, Karen Lieb earned the Vice President’s Award “In recognition of her commitment, boundless energy, and endless enthusiasm for FWA, With love and appreciation, Chrissy Jackson, Vice President, Florida Writers Association.” FWA is a statewide nonprofit trade association with some 1,000 members. The awards earned by the Melbourne writers were announced at the awards ceremony at FWA’s recent three-day annual conference in Orlando, Florida. The conference attracted nearly 300 member-attendees and offered a mix of workshops and opportunities to network with a faculty of agents, acquisition editors, publishers, and industry professionals from across the United States. The ceremony was the conference’s crowning event.

Other RPLA winners included FWA’s Northeast Florida Regional Director, Victor DiGenti, of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, whose mystery, Matanzas Bay, won the award for Unpublished Book of the Year. This was the first year this award was made, and literary agent Elizabeth Trupin-Pulli of JET Literary Associates, a faculty member at the conference, has already expressed an interest in the book.

Chris Roerden’s educational/information book, Don’t Sabotage Your Submission, and Erwin Wunderlich’s historical novel, Salvos on the Backwater, tied for 2009 Published Book of the Year.

This competition was RPLA’s eighth, and to date it is the largest. Some 236 entries were submitted for 23 categories of writing, including book-length nonfiction (six genres), short nonfiction (two genres), poetry, book-length fiction (twelve genres) and short fiction (two genres). Awards were given separately for published and unpublished works.

“RPLA is special.” said Chrissy Jackson, FWA’s vice president. “Like all writing competitions, it recognizes excellence, but this competition also provides comprehensive, constructive feedback to all entrants. I don’t know of any other competition that guarantees that at least three judges will read and thoroughly comment on all entries.”

This year, RPLA had 64 active judges, the largest number in its history. Each read an average of 12 submissions, for a total of 776 rubrics completed. The judges are current or retired teachers, librarians, professional editors, college professors, published authors, former RPLA winners, journalists, and leaders of writing and reading groups. A good percentage have advanced degrees. Most are Floridians, but others hail from Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and New York. All entries were blind with judges not knowing names of the writers.
“The judging was first-rate,” said Chris Coward, RPLA’s 2009 chairperson. “Collectively, the judges donated thousands of hours of time to this competition, and because they’re anonymous, they got absolutely no public recognition for it. They truly live the FWA motto, ‘Writers Helping Writers’.”

The Florida Writers Association, 1,000 members strong and growing, is a nonprofit 501(c)(6) organization that supports the state’s established and emerging writers. Membership is open to the public, and membership forms are posted on FWA’s website,
The Royal Palm Literary Awards competition is a service of the Florida Writers Association established to recognize excellence in members’ published and unpublished works while providing blind, objective, and constructive written assessments for all entrants.

For additional information about FWA, visit the FWA website: For a list of 2009 RPLA winners, complete with submission summaries and author biographies, visit

The next local meeting open to the public is Wednesday, Nov. 18, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the West Melbourne Library.

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