Friday, August 30, 2013

2013 Florida Heritage Book Festival Writers Conference: A place for writers to learn and grow

Tim Dorsey

When people attend a writers conference it’s usually to learn from the pros, network and renew their creative spirit. This year’s Florida Heritage Book Festival Writers Conference offers an abundance of opportunities for all of that and more during a day-and-a-half of workshops and talks by bestselling authors.
Starting at midday on Thursday, September 26, at the St. Johns County Convention Center at Renaissance World Golf Village, the Writers Conference presents two very different 3-hour workshops. “Quieting Your Inner Critic” is presented by Lezlie Laws, who is in her 24th year of teaching writing, literature and yoga at Rollins College. Lezlie’s session will show writers how to successfully block negative influences and obstacles keeping them from becoming better writers.
Flannery O’Connor Award-winner Philip Deaver will demonstrate how to adapt real-life situations and people into fiction in the other Thursday afternoon workshop, “Stories from Your Life.” Both Deaver and Laws will later join for a panel discussion and answer questions about “This Writing Life.”
Thursday doesn’t end there, however. Following a reception, New York Times bestselling author Andrew Gross launches the weekend festival that evening with his keynote talk, “Why Thrillers Matter.” Gross began his career writing six #1 thrillers with James Patterson before establishing a successful solo career of his own.
Workshops continue on Friday, September 27 covering both the craft of writing and the marketing side of the business. Workshops include writing humor, how to set-up an independent publishing business, writing the short story, marketing and self-promotion, memoir and travel writing. Workshop faculty includes novelist and short fiction author Laura Lee Smith, historical romance author Valerie Bowman, writer and editor Beverly Browning, independent authors and publishers Fran Keiser and Jane Wood, marketing consultants Shannon O’Neil and Toni Tessori, Gainesville Magazine editor and writing instructor Diana Tonnessen, and award-winning memoirist Patricia Charpentier.
One of the highlights of the day is sure to be the luncheon featuring keynoter Tim Dorsey, whose Serge Storms books have attracted a cult following among readers. Dorsey will tell us why Florida is a target-rich environment for writers.
Registration for the full Writers Conference package includes lunch on both days, Friday’s continental breakfast and Thursday evening’s reception and Andrew Gross keynote talk. Cost for the two-day package is $125 through September 10 and $150 thereafter. A complete package will also include Friday evening’s Literary Legends Reception and Banquet honoring acclaimed historical novelist John Jakes. That cost is $195 through September 10 and $215 until September 24.
The Book Festival continues on Saturday at the Flagler College Ringhaver Student Center with free presentations by a variety of noted authors covering fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Complete details of the Writers Conference and all of the Florida Heritage Book Festival events may be found on the website,

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