New writing conference, reading festival coming to Bradenton in January

jtate@bradenton.comDecember 27, 2013 

BRADENTON -- The inaugural Florida Writer's Association Midwinter Writing Conference and Reading Festival will feature more than 30 writing workshops and 100 book titles for guests to chose from.

Conference organizer Dona Lee planned the Jan. 10-11 event in a little less than six months, but hopes it will be one that will have a long lasting impression on the Bradenton downtown area and beyond.

"We have such a strong writing community in Manatee and Sarasota counties," said Lee, who hopes writers in the area will embrace the conference and reading festival.

FWA is a nonprofit trade association with more than 1,500 members statewide. It produces a quarterly magazine each year with a completely volunteer staff. Lee said the group's motto is "writers helping writers."

She said there was a similar event held in Sarasota, but it has been defunct since 2008.

"When the Sarasota Reading Festival ceased operations there were many unhappy readers and writers," Lee said. "We're trying to fill that void and start one up here in Bradenton."

The two-day event will

take place in the First Baptist Church Educational Building, 1306 Manatee Ave. W. The conference begins at 9 a.m. and the book festival begins at 9:30 a.m. Each will go on unto 5 p.m. on both event days. Guests who register for the workshops will be provided with lunch from Ferraro's Pizza and all conference materials.

Some workshop themes include information on ghost writing and developing your voice, how to write a winning book proposal, mastering interviews and telling human stories.

Jan. 3 is the deadline to register for the writing conference. To attend a single workshop event day, it's $65 for FWA members and $85 for non-members. Two-day registration fees are $110 for FWA members and $140 for non-members. The reading festival is free to attend.

Lee said the conference and festival will feature some best-selling authors but will mainly highlight authors from around the state.

One of the local authors participating is Al Musitano. He said the conference will provide a much-needed platform for local writers.

"I think anything that gets the word out is always an improvement over conventional methods," Musitano said.

He's written a variety books including fiction and non-fiction and describes his style as eclectic.

"I've been writing probably 10 or so years professionally, but there was no light switch that went off," he said. "I found myself doing more of that than other things."

Realize Bradenton director Johnette Isham helped the organizers hammer out planning ideas and gave them a list of possible locations that would be a good fit for their event.

"We like to help people have successful events," Isham said.

She said this event will help to promote downtown Bradenton as a place for culture and arts.

"Events like this that happen on a regular basis help to bring attention to the Bradenton community as one with cultural assets, and makes it attractive to visitors and residents," Isham said.

For information on the writing conference and reading festival, visit or call Dona Lee between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. at 941-748-6865.

Janey Tate, city of Bradenton and Palmetto reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. You can follow her on Twitter at Janey_Tate.

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