Wicked Good – The Beaning Ceremony
Part One of Three
There are many traditions in Fort Lauderdale. Snow-less Christmas. Transplanted northeasterners. Fickle sports fans. Snowbirds. And, Joyce Sweeney’s Beaning Ceremony.
Let me start from the beginning. It was 2006 and I was attending Sleuthfest, a spectacular writing conference put on each year by the South Florida chapter of Mystery Writer’s of America (Sleuthfest is also a tradition). I was working on a murder mystery and at the conference I met Deborah Sharp, (www.deborahsharp.com), author of the cozy Mama series. Deb, a retired USA Today reporter, took me under her writing wing and suggested I join Joyce Sweeney’s Thursday night writing workshop group (www.joycesweeney.com).
“What’s a writing workshop?” I asked Deb, daring to sound stupid.
“Published and unpublished writers read about fifteen pages of their work to the group and get critiqued.”
“It is at first but, trust me, it’s worth it.”
Those words trust me coming from an author whose books have featured poisoned chili, a dead body in the trunk of a convertible and a murdered wedding caterer made me nervous. But, trust her I did.
“Oh,” Deb added, “Joyce only accepts writers by invitation.”
I exhaled forcefully. Why did every step of the writing process seem to involve another test? But, like all stubborn writers, I plowed forward. I sent a writing sample to Joyce and waited. Would I be accepted into the upper echelons of the Fort Lauderdale writing scene? Or was Deb setting me up, trying to get the plot for her next novel? Writer worries herself to death.
Soon, I received an e-mail from Joyce. I was in! I was ecstatic and petrified. Fifteen pages in hand, I attended the first Thursday night group and was immediately welcomed by Joyce’s band of merry and eclectic authors. It seemed like all types of people were represented in the group. The affable tenth grade teacher who writes young adult novels. The wise poetess stricken by polio when she was young who whirrs into the workshop in a power chair (www.BrendaSerotte.com). The Sun Sentinel reporter whose novels are edged with tension like a steamy Florida night. And the yacht chef who writes memoirs peppered with recipes and brings dessert to each group meeting (www.victoriaallman.com).
I didn’t read that first night but I did learn about the beaning ceremony. The beaning ceremony began in 1996 as a way to honor the first of Joyce’s steeds who went from unpublished to published. On that first Thursday night in Joyce’s class, I knew that was my goal. I wanted to be beaned.
Coming Monday, April 18th: Part Two of The Beaning Ceremony, Don’t Blink – You’ll Miss It.
Wicked Good is a novel written by co-authors Amy Faircloth Lewis and Joanne Lewis. Wicked Good is available for the Kindle on Amazon (Wicked Good), for other e-readers soon and as a hardcover in June.