Six authors from The Villages honored with prestigious Royal Palm Literary Awards

A dozen Central Florida authors have won prestigious Royal Palm Literary Awards (RLPA) from the Florida Writers Association (FWA).

The award winners were announced at FWA’s recent four-day annual conference in Altamonte Springs. This annual competition, which received 420 qualified submissions, was RPLA’s 17th such event.

Six Villagers were honored recently with prestigious Royal Palm Literary Awards from the Florida Writers Association. They are, top row, from left: Dr. Larry Martin (Unpublished Short Story, Published Flash Fiction and Published Historical Fiction categories), Mark Newhouse (Unpublished Middle-Grade Fiction) and Margaret ‘Peggy’ Best (Published Biography). Bottom row, from left: Jenny Ferns (Unpublished Blended Genre), Tom Bender (Published Blended Genre) and Donnie Niles (Unpublished Mainstream).

“This is the most competitive RPLA we’ve ever had,” said chairperson Chris Coward. “The RPLA administrative team, judges and entrants did an amazing job.”

In all, the competition covered 26 adult and five youth genres, with published and unpublished entries considered separately.

Well-known Villages writer Dr. Larry Martin was a three-time winner in the Unpublished Short Story, Published Flash Fiction and Published Historical Fiction categories.

Villager Mark Newhouse picked up an RPLA for Unpublished Middle-Grade Fiction. Other Villages winners included Margaret “Peggy” Best in the Published Biography category; Jenny Ferns in the Unpublished Blended Genre category; Tom Bender in the Published Blended Genre category; and Donnie Niles in the Unpublished Mainstream group.

Linda Kraus, from Mount Dora, received an RPLA for Unpublished Poetry. Frances Palmigiano, of Sorrento, writing under the pen name Frances Hight, won in the Unpublished Mystery or Crime category.

Tavares authors Diane Byington and Rick Cooper each received an RPLA in the Published Historical Fiction and Short Nonfiction categories, respectively. Leesburg writers Stephen Leitschuh won in the Published Romance group, and Tom Swartz in the Published Women’s Fiction group.

The Florida Writers Association, 1,500 members strong and growing, is a nonprofit organization that supports the state’s established and emerging writers. Membership is open to the public.

The Royal Palm Literary Awards competition is a service of the Florida Writers Association, established to recognize excellence in published and unpublished works by members while providing objective and constructive written assessments for all entrants. The judging team is made up of writers, editors, publishers and others in the industry.

The FWA conference this past weekend featured speakers on numerous topics, from writing fight scenes to proofreading. Many of the attendees pitched their new work to on-site literary agents and publishers.

Best-selling author Linda Fairstein led the New York Police Special Victims Unit, which is the inspiration for television’s ‘Law & Order: SVU.’

Special guests included best-selling author Linda Fairstein, who led the New York Police Special Victims Unit, which is the inspiration for television’s “Law & Order: SVU;” Heather Graham, Florida Writer of the Year; and Florida Poet Laureate Peter Meinke.

The FWA Youth, for middle and high school students, held a one-day session on Saturday with speakers and an awards ceremony.

Many of the RPLA award winners will have tables with their autographed books for sale at the Central Florida Book & Author Expo on Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Eisenhower Recreation Center. The event, open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., is sponsored by the Writers League of The Villages and The Villages Recreation and Parks Department.

John W Prince is a writer and Villager. For more information visit www.GoMyStory.com.

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