2020 Meetings


Polish and Shine: How to Perfect Your Story and Stand Out in the Marketplace presented by Marsha Zinberg

Step Back to Spring Forward: Analyzing Your Novel Through an Editor’s Eyes
Having evaluated thousands of novels for potential acquisition and edited hundreds more, Marsha will share her perspective on the novel fundamentals that must be effectively implemented to attract an editor’s attention and ensure a reader’s satisfaction.

The Trickier Elements of Storytelling
Three components of the storyteller’s art–point of view, effective dialogue, and engaging openings–will be examined in detail. For this segment, participants are invited to bring along the first page or opening paragraphs of a work-in-progress for small-group discussion.

It’s Your Ball! Who’s Catching What You’re Pitching?
There’s a fine balance between writing the book of your heart and ensuring you’ve embedded the market trends that will attract your target audience. Marsha will provide a survey of marketing approaches for you to consider when you’re ready to share your work with the world.

A Brand-New You: Establishing A Brand Presence In A Crowded Marketplace
What is your promise to the reader, and how does packaging affect your brand? Your bio, your platform profiles and your story blurb all play into saleability, and your strategic back cover copy provides the reader’s initial gateway into you novel. Marsha will discuss the ingredients necessary to create dynamite blurbs: attendees are invited to come prepared with their own back cover copy for in-group discussion and refinement.

Marsha Zinberg

During a publishing career spanning more than thirty years, Marsha Zinberg served as executive editor at Harlequin Enterprises, where she ensured the strategic direction of a wide range of evolving publishing programs, including continuities, mysteries, all categories of romance and women’s fiction, men’s adventure and reissues. Through her company, The Write Touch, she now consults on and edits projects in genres such as women’s fiction, mystery, romantic suspense, thriller, romance, and memoir.


“Men in Uniform” Valentine’s Special

A panel of “Men in Uniform,” will tell you about their typical day. Here’s your opportunity to ask those hunky men in uniform questions, and hear about the day in the life of a: Cop, Paramedic, Marine, Firefighter etc.


Using the Law to Enhance Your Writing by Donna Ballman

This session will focus on using aspects of the law to add interesting points to your romance novel. Whether you are writing a book involving lawyers or law enforcement, Donna will provide advice in regards to the legal system which can enhance your plot.

Donna Ballman has built a reputation as a skilled and knowledgeable attorney in all of the aspects of labor and employment law. Her blog on employee-side employment law issues, Screw You Guys, I’m Going Home, was named one of the best legal blogs for several years in a row. Donna is also the author of “A Writer’s Guide to the Courtroom: Let’s Quill All the Lawyers”The book is a guide for novelists, screenwriters, and other writers on the ins and outs of the civil justice system.

APRIL WORKSHOP –Postponed due to COVID-19

2019 Meetings


It’s Showtime! Show, Don’t Tell by Janice Hardy.

At some point, every author hears it. It’s critical to crafting a story that works, but what exactly does it mean?

And more importantly, how do you make sure you’re using it correctly in your own work? In this workshop, writers will learn how to spot the common telling signposts, from motivational, descriptive, and emotional tells, to those frequent mental signposts that explain, not dramatize, and the always pesky adverbs. They’ll also learn how to spot common red flag words that often indicate told, not shown, prose, and what they can do to fix them once they’ve found them.

Janice Hardy is the award-winning author of the teen fantasy trilogy The Healing Wars, including The Shifter, Blue Fire, and Darkfall from Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins. She also writes the Grace Harper series for adults under the name J.T. Hardy. When she’s not writing fiction, she runs the popular writing site Fiction University, and has written multiple books on writing, including Understanding Show, Don’t Tell (And Really Getting It), Plotting Your Novel: Ideas and Structure, and the Revising Your Novel: First Draft to Finished Draft series.


Mastering Suspense, Structure & Plot by Jane K. Cleland

The stories that keep people on the edge of their seats and up all night are filled with unexpected twists and turns. By integrating plot Twists, plot Reversals, and moments of heightened Danger, which can include spiritual and emotional fears, as well as physical danger, (TRDs) at tactically sound moments, your stories will captivate readers with their I-can’t-wait-to-see-what-happens-next unpredictability. When your TRDs come at the right moments, your pace will be quicker and the action more focused, and these are the nuanced, multifaceted books that sell, and that find a devoted readership.

Jane K. Cleland writes the multiple award-winning Josie Prescott Antiques Mysteries [St. Martin’s Minotaur]. The 13th in the series, Hidden Treasures, will be published in April 2020. The twelfth, Antique Blues, received a starred review from Library Journal. She also writes short stories, all published by Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (AHMM). In addition, Jane writes about the craft of writing, including Mastering Plot Twists and the bestselling Mastering Suspense, Structure & Plot, which won the Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction [Writer’s Digest Books]. She is also a Contributing Editor at Writer’s Digest Magazine.  Jane chairs the Wolfe Pack’s Black Orchid Novella Award in partnership with AHMM.



The Plot Clock by Joyce Sweeney

As a plot-challenged writer, Joyce Sweeney has spent a lifetime looking for a template that really works. With a former teaching partner, Jamie Morris, she developed the four-act Plot Clock which has become one of her most popular topics in her presentations and on-line classes. The Plot Clock is a reliable roadmap for when you find yourself lost in a sea of events and not sure where your story should go next. Don’t go into your first draft of any novel without it!

Joyce Sweeney is the author of fourteen novels for young adults, for which she has won numerous awards. She has also written two chapbooks of poetry and is now working on her first adult novel, a historical fantasy about Atlantis. In addition, she teaches, coaches and mentors writers at To date, she has guided 61 students to traditional publishing contracts. This year, she is publishing, along with Jamie Morris and Tia Levings, a non-fiction book about her highly successful Plot Clock template.


Cover Me Romantic by Victoria Landis

You can write the most engaging book ever, but without a compelling cover to attract readers, chances are few will read it. Learn what elements go into a great book cover, how to target your chosen demographic, & what options are available to you as an author.

Victoria Landis is a writer, editor, and artist. A 16-year member, and former board member, of the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, she co-chaired the SleuthFest Writers’ Conference from 2015-2018. She’s taught cover design and writing craft at the Alvin Sherman Library at Nova Southeastern University, the FL Authors Academy at Murder on the Beach, and at SleuthFest.  Her newest novel, JORDAN, is a thriller with a magical realism/paranormal element and a cautionary tale of human nature and how it hasn’t changed in thousands of years. Please visit her website for more about her books and cover design.

Follow her on Facebook:, Instagram: vlandisartist, Twitter: @VictoriaLandis1


Building Scenes the Cinematic Way by Christopher Hawke

How can a writer use cinematic techniques to strengthen scenes? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the written word versus film? We will answer these questions while addressing the use of camera angles, set design, and that sometimes elusive action. Learn how to best utilize the theater of the mind in your writing.

Christopher Hawke has a heart for teaching the craft of writing. Whether with groups, through content editing, or one-on-one writing coaching, his business is helping authors to the finish line. His client roster includes well-known names, as well as aspiring authors. He has led a weekly critique group in South Florida for over 6 years and has a highly acclaimed video series and e-book The Craft of Writing available at  Hawke’s The Craft of Writing book is currently #2 (under free) on Amazon and has maintained a ranking in the top 20 range for over a year.  He co-runs, a one-stop author services company, and his own writings are represented by The Evan Marshall Agency. His titles include UNNATURAL TRUTH, a highly acclaimed psychological thriller and ALTERED SELVES, a redemptive dystopian novel.



Sex Sells: Writing Effective Sex Scenes

Three best-selling romance authors Karen Kendall (Take Me For a Ride), Marcia King-Gamble (Magnolia Moments), and Tara L. Ames (Flowers for a Hero), will offer solutions to problems a beginning writer encounters with writing realistic and effective sex scenes.  Audience questions are welcome … we plan to have a lot of fun with this one!

Karen Kendall is the author of 22 romantic comedies and 2 YA spy adventure novels as Kat Carlton. She is the co-author of 3 novels as Liza Kendall coming out with Berkley (Penguin Random House) in 2020. Karen is currently president of Florida Romance Writers.

Marcia King-Gamble originally hails from a sunny Caribbean island where the sky and ocean are the same mesmerizing shade of blue. This travel industry executive and current world traveler has spent most of life in the United States. A National Bestselling author, Marcia has penned over 34 books and 8 novellas.

USA Today Bestselling Author of six military romance novels, Tara L. Ames is a Michigan native with a penchant for creating highly sensual empowered stories about brave, sexy men and strong willed women.  Living in Florida, Tara is actively writing between taking care of her family, reading and enjoying the sun.


Use What You Love To Love, To Love What You’re Writing! by Heather Graham

Write what you know.  Write what you love.  That’s what we hear all the time.  But sometimes it’s easier said than done.  New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Heather Graham, will let us in on her secrets so you will definitely love what you are writing.

Heather Graham has written over two hundred novels and novellas including category, suspense, historical romance, vampire fiction, time travel, occult and Christmas family fare.  She has been honored with awards from booksellers and writers’ organizations for excellence in her work She is proud to be a recipient of the Silver Bullet from Thriller Writers and was awarded the prestigious Thriller Master in 2016. She is also a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from RWA. Heather is a “Founding Mother” of Florida Romance Writers.


Blurb Writing Doesn’t Have To Suck by Kristin Wallace

A blurb is one of the most important selling tools for your book, whether you’re pursuing a traditional or indie publishing route. If you’re targeting editors or agents, you’ll need a great blurb for query letters. If you’re an indie author you need to be able to write effective sales pages to entice readers to click the “buy” button. Once you have a blurb, you can also use it to create ads, social media posts, and printed promo materials. In this workshop, Kristin will provide valuable tools and tricks that will help you tackle the demon and craft blurbs you will love, too. This will be an interactive workshop! Come prepared to work on a blurb for your upcoming release or work-in-progress (WIP). Kristin will work with you to whip it into shape.

Kristin Wallace is a USA Today Bestselling Author of 16 published novels. She is also a 20-year veteran of the advertising industry, with a background as a copywriter. She writes inspirational and sweet contemporary romance filled with “love, laughter and a leap of faith”. She has three best selling series, including Covington Falls Chronicles, Shellwater Key Tales, and Palm Cove Chronicles. Kristin has served as the president of Florida Romance Writers twice and is a past RWA Golden Heart Award finalist.

Find out more about Kristin at Or find her on social media: or

2018 Meetings


Marketable Musings by Erica Manfred

Turn personal experiences into marketable essays or op-ed columns for newspapers or the web. This popular genre is a great way to break into a competitive marketplace. Editors want writers’ unique perspectives and quirky slants on a wide variety of topics. Learn how to recast life lessons into essays with universal appeal or to transform them into topical opinion pieces. Erica Manfred explores how to turn ideas into prose, to find forms for your voice and views by practicing different essay styles, and to get your work published.

Erica’s essays have appeared in New Age Journal, SELF, Consumer’s Digest, Ladies Home Journal, Woman’s Day, Bottom Line/Personal and a host of other publications. Known for her stylish writing, her personal essays have appeared in the New York Times Magazine “Lives” page, New Age Journal, Village Voice, in addition to being anthologized in a number of college textbooks. Her popular column for called Aging With Geekitude helps seniors conquer their technophobia by encouraging them to laugh about it.


Getting Candid with Lisa Gardner. 

Lisa will answer your questions about writing, motivation, and her books.

Lisa Gardner, a #1 New York Times crime thriller novelist, began her career in food service, but after catching her hair on fire numerous times, she took the hint and focused on writing instead. With over 22 million books in print, Lisa is published in 30 countries.

Lisa Gardner’s novels have also received awards from across the globe, including the ITW Best Novel, the Grand Prix, and the Daphne du Maurier from RWA. In 2017 Lisa was awarded the Literary Silver Bullet Award by ITW for her charitable work. She spends her days writing in her loft with a young silly sheltie and an adventurous terrier.
Book sale and signing will follow.


How To Make Your Book A Page-Turner by Alison McMahon

This course will show you the elements of craft needed to keep the reader turning the pages. We will start with plot and pace, the hooks to grab a reader and the cliffhangers to lead them to the next hook. We’ll analyze the rhythm of paragraphs. You’ll learn how to recognize and correct MRU violations (motivation reaction units).

Once we have a good plot outlined we will look at what makes good characters, character traits, and character arc. We will look at deep POV, psychic distance, and dialogue. Finally we will examine rhetorical devices and other techniques for crafting beautiful, impactful sentences.

Workshop attendees are encouraged to register early. Once you’ve signed up for the course you can send Alison a 1600 word sample (at least two consecutive scenes) from anywhere in your WIP. Alison will use the works submitted as examples to analyze in class.

Alison McMahan, Ph.D.,is the president of Homunculus Productions, a company that produces industrial, educational and documentary films. Her most recent film is Bare Hands and Wooden Limbs (2010) narrated by Sam Waterston. She is the author of the award-winning book Alice Guy Blaché, Lost Visionary of the Cinema (Bloomsbury 2002), which was translated into Spanish, films rights sold to a Hollywood agency for production as a documentary. Her historical mystery novel, The Saffron Crocus (Black Opal Books, 2014), won the Rosemary Award for Best YA Historical and the Florida Writers Association’s Royal Palm Literary Award. Her short mystery “The New Score” was just published in the Fish Out of Water Anthology (Wildside Press), and her short story “The Drive By” will appear in the Busted anthology (LevelBest Books) in April, 2017. “Kamikaze Iguanas” will appear in the MWA anthology for middle grade readers entitled Scream and Scream Again, edited by R.L. Stine, (HarperCollins, 2018).


Flash Fiction by John Dufresne

“For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn.” This very short narrative is over quite suddenly, but continues to evoke an emotional story for the reader. John DuFresne will explain the basics of flash fiction (very short fiction), and the art of refining, concentrating, layering, and resonating your writing to fit the shrinking attention spans of our twenty-first century lives.

John Dufresne is the author of six novels, two short story collections, as well as three chapbooks. He has three books on writing including Flash!. He has also written a full-length play, which was produced at the Blue Heron Theatre in New York in 2005, and the screenplay for the award-winning short film The Freezer Jesus. John was a 2012-13 Guggenheim Fellow and teaches in the MFA program at Florida International University in Miami.


 Write Like a Pro: Motivation for Authors by Joanna Campbell Slan 

In this power-packed presentation, multi-published, bestselling, and award-winning author Joanna Campbell Slan will share five tested ways to shift into high gear as a writer. If your goal is to get more words on paper, to finish that unfinished manuscript, and to get published, this session will be well worth your time.

RT Reviews has called Joanna Campbell Slan “one of mystery’s rising stars,” and it’s easy to see why. She’s the award-winning and national bestselling author of three mystery series. Previous to writing fiction, Joanna penned seven scrapbooking technique books and wrote for Creating Keepsakes, Memory Makers, and PaperKuts. She has taught scrapbooking online, on cruises, and in Europe, as well as here in the US. In her past life, Joanna was a television talk show host, an adjunct professor of public relations, a sought-after motivational speaker, and a corporate speechwriter. The Slans and their two dogs make their home on Jupiter Island, Florida.


IngramSpark vs CreateSpace by Nancy Cohen

Multi-published author, Nancy J. Cohen, will discuss the differences between IngramSpark and CreateSpace for indie authors and how to navigate either site. Should you get your own ISBNs? What about pre-orders and proof copies? What other options are available? Whether you are reissuing backlist titles or publishing original material, this workshop will enlighten you.

Nancy J. Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring hairstylist Marla Vail. Titles in this series have made the IMBA bestseller list, been selected by Suspense Magazine as the best cozy mystery, won a Reader’s Favorite Gold Medal, and earned third place in the Arizona Literary Awards. Nancy has also written the instructional guide, Writing the Cozy Mystery. Her imaginative romances have proven popular with fans as well. These books have won the HOLT Medallion and Best Book in Romantic SciFi-Fantasy at The Romance Reviews. A featured speaker at libraries, conferences, and community events, Nancy has served as president of Florida Romance Writers and president of the Mystery Writers of America Florida chapter. Visit her at



Marketing on the Cheap by Shannon Bell

Learn about ways to market your book, regardless of whether you’re traditionally or indie published, that is free or cheap. Find out about social media, newsletters, and growing your followers. Discover a few sites you may not yet know about.

Shannon Bell is the author of six paranormal romances, and three marketing books. She grew up in Florida and has always dreamed about vampires – and still secretly hopes they exist. She is married to someone who tolerates her crazy story-telling about Romania and has a daughter she hopes will have the same enthusiasm for vampires when she grows up that her mommy does.

Shannon has a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida as well as an online degree in vampirology. She loves writing about vampires, romance, food and drink, as well as travel. She is a full-time writer and currently hard at work on her next novel


From Idea To Novel by Karen Kendall

Workshop Description: From Idea … to Novel!

How do you take an image, a character or an idea that inspires you and turn it into an actual book? Where do you begin? This hands-on, interactive workshop will show you how to wrangle your idea into basic story structure, with a beginning, middle and end—and have fun doing it!

Karen Kendall is the best-selling, award-winning author of twenty-four novels (mostly romantic comedies) for New York publishers such as Avon/HarperCollins, NAL/Penguin, Harlequin and Simon & Schuster (w/a Kat Carlton). She is the recipient of the Book Buyer’s Best and RT Reviewers Choice Awards, among others, and has garnered positive reviews from both Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus. Karen has served on the board of Florida Romance Writers several times and has been featured in regional publications such as the Sun Sentinel, the Boca Raton Observer and the Gulf Coast Times.


KravMaga with Randall Koch

KravMaga is the official self-defense system of the Israeli Defense forces. It offers an easy-to-learn yet highly effective self-defense system that emphasizes practical techniques and realistic training scenarios. Combat scenes in movies often use KravMaga techniques because of its realism, effectiveness, and how easy it is to learn.

In this interactive workshop you will learn a variety of basic self-defense techniques, such as how defend yourself against an attacker armed with a gun or a bat, how to escape from the hostage/human shield position, and how a group can work together to bring down an attacker with a machine gun. Wear loose-fitting casual clothes and sneakers.

Randall Koch is a KravMaga Black Belt and Expert V Certified Instructor through KravMaga Worldwide.He became a certified Taekwondo instructor at eighteen and owned three martial arts schools at twenty-five. Feeling that Taekwondo had limitations, he added Karate, Kickboxing, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to his curriculum. Since 1999 he’s taught KravMaga as his primary system with a focus on real self-defense techniques at the KravMagaWorldWide (TM) Official Training Center in Pompano Beach.

On Facebook:



DEEP POV by Alison McMahan

Deep Point of View is the degree of psychic distance that positions the reader most deeply inside the character’s mind. Deep POV can be written in first or third person.

Fiction does Deep POV; movies don’t. Deep POV opens the door into a character’s mind. It’s the best way to help a reader develop empathy, because the reader is privy to the character’s visceral reactions.

Deep POV works better in certain genres: Romance. Mystery. Some forms of YA.

This class will cover the five hallmarks of Deep POV, Deep POV in first and third person, Visceral reactions, Free Indirect Discourse (FID) and some narrative theory.

Suggested reading:


Four Tips for Writing Deep POV

Deep POV: What’s So Deep About It?

How to Write Deep POV

Ten Tips for Writing In Deep POV

Deep POV in First or Third Person

(the above is the first of  four parts – read all four parts)

BOOK – short, sweet, and cheap:

Alison McMahan, Ph.D. has written The Films of Tim Burton: Animating Live Action in Hollywood (Bloomsbury 2005); Alice Guy Blaché, Lost Visionary of the Cinema (Bloomsbury 2002); The Saffron Crocus (Black Opal, 2014). Short stories anthologized by Level Best Books, Wildside Press, Down-and-Out Books, and HarperCollins. Represented by Gina Panettieri of Talcott Notch Literary.