Schedule and Location

Welcome to the Sarasota Writers Group Blog. Meetings are held the first and third Wednesday of the month at the Nokomis Fire Station, located just a few blocks south of Albee Road (where Matthews-Currie Ford is located) at Pavonia Road. We are on the west, or bay side, of U.S. 41, by the Fire Station's flashing yellow caution traffic light. If you are coming from the south on US 41, we are just north of Dona Bay. Turn on Pavonia and pull to the far end, or west side, of the firehall. Please do not block the fire doors! We meet in the training room on the far side of the complex. Gathering time: 6:00 pm Meeting called to order: 6:30 pm Ten minute break: 7:50 pm Meeting Finishes at 9:00 pm

Sunday, January 20, 2019

January 16th, 2019

Here we are, the second meeting of the year already. This week we were joined by Susan Haley, the founder of our group. Sue has been away for several years, we've missed her; WELCOME BACK SUE.

Also joining us for the first time in a while were Jim Kelly, one of our master poets, and George Mindling, a previous leader and good friend. We also welcomed back Peter Frickel after a brief illness, his wife Barbara was in attendance too; great to see you all, we hope to see you more frequently in the future. Bill Elam slipped in a little later; cold weather must have driven him further south.

Due to the number of attendees, twenty, we did not have an extended discussion period but went directly to the reading venue. With 12 readers the time was well spent. In deference to our returning friends, the first four readings were set aside for them.

Sue Haley brought a tribute to our poets and their poetry. Written a while back, she read a piece dedicated to Jim Kelly, Don Westerfield, and our other poets. Her observation, "Poetry lingers in every person," and a question, "Can poetry heal the world?" elicit food for thought. Sue, you are a poet of life.

After Sue's tribute, Jim Kelly surprised us with a piece somewhat out of character for him. A humorous poem entitled, John Wayne Bobbitt. Humor is not unique to Jim's work, but a reference to an incident as controversial as the Bobbitt emasculation is. Jim's mastery of words and tasteful treatment of the subject brought chuckles, even raucous laughter, to our evening. Great work Jim!

When George Mindling read a transcript of a cassette tape documenting a conversation between his daughter Monica and Shirley MacLaine. Unfazed by the prospect of talking with a Hollywood icon, Monica posed questions and comments causing even Ms. MacLaine pause.

As Peter Frickel came before the group, he posed the questions, "How do I write?" and "When do I write?" His presentation was, as always, instructional and inspiring. His suggestions for those writing memoirs are right on point. "Over time, a writer grows as he writes, ideas come from the past. Think small, don't rummage around in your memory for huge events. Leave your expectations at home, take it as it comes. Readers connect with human feelings, not whining. It's better to write for one person, yourself, than trying to please everyone."

In a scene from his novel featuring the life of Roman Emperor Constantine, Ernie Ovitz asks, has the emperor taken his wife for political reasons? Will her son, lying ill in the palace, die from lack of treatment? We'll have to tune in next time to find out.

Bringing three poems to us this week, Don Westerfield shows us how to relax on the high seas with, "Cruising." In "Ordinary Man," he depicts a man choosing to remain ordinary until death rather than become famous. "But Then You Were Gone," was a somber look at life with an undertone of the beauty one can see in others.

When Ed Ellis read his work entitled "Natural Behavior Laws - the Law of Consistency" he said he would watch for "glazed eyes in the audience." As he explained how consistency is the "on-ramp" to success, he asked, "Are you a jackhammer or a seagull?" and "Who can change?" There were no glazed eyes in the assembly and the discussion following his presentation gave proof to the interest in the subject. Join us on March 6th for Ed's presentation, "ABSTRACTIONS, the Bloodstream of the Writer."

Back from the wilds of Long Island, Lois Stern asked for opinions on the back-cover-blurb for her newest project, Pearl, a compilation of stories about exceptional children and their contribution to society. What she'd written was exceptional on its own and needed little, if any, change.

Even in a group this small, we have two authors named Jim Kelly, although the second Jim Kelly is writing a historical novel about General Winfield Scott Hancock rather than poetry, he is a gifted writer. Reading a piece of chapter 6, he took us to a party where the dashing, then Lieutenant Hancock, meets and is smitten by a charming young lady, Elmira Russell. Will this lead to something? well, I guess we'll just have to wait. Doesn't that make you want to read the next chapter?

Debbie MacAvoy brought us an interesting chapter from the "The Manipulator." The farmhouse in which Teddy lives experiences a death. A woman, whom Teddy was unaware even lived there, dies and the undertaker comes to pick up the body. Who was she? Where did she live? Teddy must know. When the house is empty, he begins an exploration, after all, his family is buying the farm and has a right to know about what went on there. All is quiet, but he can hear a creak on the stairs...

Writing is not as easy as some might think. It is especially difficult for someone who's lost their memory and all their faculties for a long time. Peter McNally had several massive strokes, suffered seizures, and brain damage which took away his ability to speak, remember, or function in ways we take for granted every day. On the road to recovery nearly twenty years later, he is writing his story. The writing is therapeutic as well as revealing, we are trying to aid him with editing, advice, and encouragement. His story is unique, spellbinding, and important. Reading the rewrite of his opening chapter shows how much improvement he's made since first joining the group. Hang in there Peter, we're in this for the duration.

Rod Digruttolo read a short piece in which he is attempting to depict the feelings and actions of a man whose 12-year-old daughter has been kidnapped. The police may have located the building in which the girl is being held and he awaits news. The group's comments were most helpful and by incorporating the suggestions into the piece, we know it will be a better piece.

The evening ended right on time, even though many of us could have continued for much longer, we adjourned. We look forward to the next meeting, February 6th, same time, same place. Until then KEEP ON WRITING.

Thursday, January 03, 2019


January 2nd, 2019

The first meeting of 2019 was small but well represented. Although only 8 of our regulars attended, Sirena Ezper, a first-time attendee sat in and participated in our discussions. It was refreshing to hear a new voice, as many new people do not join in, but sit back observing in silence. 

We opened the meeting with a discussion on "the genre." How do you choose a genre? Do you pick one before you write, after you've written, or is that someone else's choice? How many genres, sub-genres, or even sub-sub-genres are there? Whoa! This could get out of hand. Well, as usual, we spun the subject until we were all a bit dizzy. Our group is made up of writers of many genres with varying levels of experience, most of us agree the initial goal of a writer is to write what they know for an audience of one, themselves. As our experience grows, branching out into new fields and subject matter is inevitable and some of us may achieve the classification of a commercial writer, wherein we can, and will, write on any subject with a degree of skill and confidence.

Having spent an hour beating the subject to death we started to get repetitive and ended the discussion with the goal of having enough time for all our readers to get constructive feedback.

Debbie MacAvoy brought a revised Chapter 8, read at a previous meeting, to share with us. She did, as suggested by the group, massage the piece with skill and masterful use of language. It's nice to hear a piece incorporate changes which bring it back stronger. Good work, Debbie.

Next up was Dennis Cathcart. His background story for the chapter he presented was worth hearing, almost as intriguing as the story itself. I hope it's included in his final work. However, he shared the adventure of climbing over a bridge railing and descending to the channel fenders many feet below on a Snook fishing expedition. The story elicited chills of fear in many of the listeners. Oh, the things we'll do for a chance of catching a fierce fighting fish are, to say the least... NOT ALWAYS TOO BRIGHT?

Yale Larson continues his investigation into murder and threats of assassination in Doug Sahlin's latest work. Coordinating his thoughts and experience with Detective Kennedy, Yale tries to set a trap for the sniper threatening the life of a millionaire developer in Sarasota. Will he capture the killer before he strikes again?

Amari's story continues in Jeffrey Kutcher's biography of a Cuban Chef's early years. Amari's mother works three jobs in Communist Cuba but still barely supports her family. In his early life, Amari learns to equate love and food as mother and grandmother work to give the children the only thing they can afford, love by way of the sparse meals their pennies can buy.

Southern Spain, 311 A.D. where Ernie Ovitz took us to a synod of Christian leaders whose goal was to set the course of the Spanish church in the future. Would they follow the council of the Roman church? The Spanish Bishop was favored by Emperor Constantine who requested, nay demanded, the Bishop's presence at his side in Gaul. Would this set off a revolution in the hierarchy of religious leaders?

Rod Digruttolo read a first draft of Chapter 41 in his newest Charlie Bascomb Adventure. A notorious drug dealer and crime boss cut a deal with Homeland Security to out suspected terrorist cells in Washington, D.C. He's brought out of hiding only to find out his protector is an old nemesis, retired Detective Popovich, aka Tenspot.

As a facilitator of the group for several years, I welcome feedback and critique of not only the work presented but the leadership we present. It is not my goal or the intent of any senior members of the group to impose our views, a method of writing, style, or content on the members. In discussions, we attempt to guide the length and keep the content within the subject or related subjects being explored. If any attendee has suggestions or critique, please share them with us. We want this group to work for you and bring writing help to those who may seek it.

Until next meeting, keep on writing!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Wednesday, Dec. 19th, 2018

A Party!

Lots of goodies and excellent readings at this party. A plethora of sweets, specialties, and food was on tap as the annual holiday party took place at this meeting.

Our semi-annual donation to the Nokomis Fire Department preceded the festivities. This year we broke the $200 barrier thanks to the generosity of our members.

After a short discussion and some goodies, we heard from several of our members with reading appropriate for the holiday season.

Bruce Haedrich read a chapter from his work in progress, A Gathering of Demons. A Christmas almost forgot turns out to be one to remain in the memory forever, but the foreshadowing of evil afoot lurks in the background.  

Jim Drendel shared a true story of Riot, a dog who lived up to his name but found a special place in Jim's heart. All dog lovers can relate to this touching story.

Dennis Cathcart read his annual posting in the company newsletter of "The Day Before Christmas." Humor combined with a little pathos brought smiles to all our faces.

Ernie Ovitz shared a bit of wisdom from the great Mark Twain when he gave us the quote, "There are lies, damn lies, and statistics." From there he went on to read a speech written a few years past which still holds significance in today's world. We are people, not simply numbers, and achievements of those we've met often prove the statistics irrelevant. 

Jeffrey Kutcher brought another chapter in his biography of his Cuban friend. A match of marble-shooting champions draws a crowd in the anticipation of seeing a longtime master dethroned and the challenger take his place at the top of the heap. Will the champion prevail?

The final reading was a classic from the pen of Don Westerfield. "A Bad Time for Sergeants," was a half of a Sergeant's telephone conversation with a Captain explaining how a situation which occurred while repairing a Fighter Jet got a little out of hand. Unfortunate word choices and over exuberance in telling the tale led to multiple apologies and had listeners laughing aloud. 

Friday, December 07, 2018

December 5th, 2018

Attended by 11 members, our next-to-last business meeting for 2018 was a lot of fun. Our next meeting, December 19th, 2018, will be our annual Holiday party. Those attending are asked to bring a dish, snack, or goodie in a container to be left with any leftovers for the members of the Nokomis Fire Department. We encourage each attendee to bring a Holiday story, humorous or otherwise. We'll see you there.

We do not charge dues for our group, but we do ask for donations to the Fire Department. We do this semiannually in appreciation to the department for allowing us to use their facility. 

Our meeting began with a discussion, a definition or clarification. I asked the group if anyone can give me a definition for “Creative Non-Fiction”. I looked it up on the internet and found maybe twenty different things, last night, with 11 members in attendance, I got at least 15 different answers. A number of us had more than one definition. What about you? What is your definition of “Creative Non-Fiction”?

I asked for questions from the floor and Jim asked for opinions on how to develop a character as time progresses in a novel. As he is writing a novel, based on the life of a real person (a Union General), he wants to be as accurate as possible while maintaining the writer’s license to speculate as to conversations and thoughts not recorded in history.

After a lively discussion resulting in numerous ideas and suggestions being proffered, we moved on to the reading part of our meeting.

Ernie Ovitz led us off with a selection from his historical novel centered around Emperor Constantine. Spies, a severely ill Emperor, and an influential Bishop all bring a hint of intrigue to the story. We look forward to the next reading.

A Union General is “severely wounded but not mortally” as Jim Kelly’s saga of Winfield Scott Hancock continues. The wounded officer is shot off his horse and lays on the ground unable to rise. Pulling himself up on his elbows, he directs troop movement and is instrumental in stopping the Confederate attack. Recovering from his wounds in hospital and home, he can’t wait to join his troops in pursuing General Lee.

Private Detective Yale Larson tracks a killer who could be the owner of a speedboat on Siesta Key in Doug Sahlin’s revived work. Doug pulled the work off the shelf now that he’s complete some other projects. In his typical rapid-fire dialog style, Larson interviews a somewhat… "unorthodox" individual whose relationship with a Rock Star and possible substance abuse sets them up as persons of interest in this case.

Debbie MacAvoy asked for input as to writing about a confrontation between two men. A teenage boy and a fifty-something hired hand have a confrontation and afterward reconcile when misconceptions are cleared up. Debbie asked for help in seeing things from a male perspective and received comments from all male members present.

Ian Schagan brought us a Sci-Fi piece, part of his newest novel, about star travel with a goal to colonize planets. Intrigue and ideological differences show their faces in this thrilling outer space thriller.

Well, another entry must end. Until next time, KEEP ON WRITING.

Monday, November 05, 2018

A heads-up from Kerri Dieffenwierth

New post on BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog
by Allison K Williams
Wake up, writers! I just heard the most amazing thing about authorial voice!
Having trouble making it to conferences? Finding workshop dates impossible or prices out of reach? Here's a chance to enjoy a sampler of conference-style sessions you can watch in your yoga pants for free.
Starting November 8th, Village Writing School will present a series of free online lectures and interviews discussing memoir craft, marketing, platform-building and more. The video sessions will remain live until November 12th, and registrants may access them at their leisure over the five days.
Sessions include:
Family and Religion—Two Scary Topics
Ruth Wariner’s memoir, The Sound of Gravel, details her escape at fifteen, with her brother and three younger sisters, from a polygamist cult in Mexico of which her father had been the leader. The book was an instant New York Times Best Seller and was called a “bracing, unforgettable story of survival” by Entertainment Weekly. Ruth will join us to discuss the difficulties of writing about these two emotionally-charged topics and why you should.
Telling Your #MeToo Story
It’s vitally important for writers to write and publish #MeToo memoirs. But what are the psychological challenges? What are the technical challenges? What writing techniques can help you portray a #MeToo scene? What should you keep in mind about your audience and about approaching publishers? What can you expect when you publically share your story? Tracy Strauss, who has published essays on writing #MeToo in Poets and Writers Magazine as well as Ms. Magazine, and whose own #MeToo story is forthcoming from Skyhorse Press, will guide you through this difficult topic with her courage and wit. You, too, can write for healing, for change, for empowerment.
It Doesn’t Take as Long as You Think
Rachael Herron, author of Fast Draft Your Memoir in 45 Hours and A Life in Stitches, will prove to you that you DO have time to tell your story. She’ll also show you how to figure out what that story is and how to find the best spine for it. No more excuses!
Thoughts on Your Story, Beginning to End
Marion Roach Smith, who has taught the craft of memoir to thousands of students both in university classes and online will show you what to consider before beginning your story. She will also examine some special challenges of writing about trauma and tell you what to do if you still don’t have a happy ending.
Other Ways to Tell Your Story
Allison K Williams, who teaches workshops on blogging and essays and hosts the Brevity podcast, will show you how to tell your story through live and written short forms. Even if a book is not your thing—or not your thing yet—Allison will show you how to get your voice out there and how to build a readership for your story.
Publishing Your Story—What New York Wants You to Know
RenĂ©e Fountain, President of GH Literary, will discuss the potential for memoir, the things to avoid, and what New York is looking for. And as a literary agent seeking memoir, she’ll tell you what she is looking for.
It’s Never Too Soon to Build Your Audience
Beyond a “platform,” you want an authentic connection with readers. What are some ways you can begin to build that relationship long before your book comes out? Dan Blank of WeGrowMedia will show you how such connections can become the most satisfying part of your writing career.
All sessions are hosted by Alison Taylor-Brown, the founder and director of The Village Writing School, a 501c3 nonprofit. The school is an independent creative writing program, located in beautiful northwest Arkansas. Its mission is to help writers tell their stories in a more readable, publishable way. Complete details and speaker bios are here.
Interested? Register here.
Allison K Williams | November 4, 2018 at 7:30 am | Tags: conferencesvillage memoirwebinars | Categories: News and EventsWriting Conferences | URL:
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Saturday, October 20, 2018

October 17th, 2018

October 17th Meeting of the Sarasota Writers Group

We had a great turnout for our second meeting in October. Fifteen writers signed in. We welcomed new member Irene Poletti, guest of Jeffery Kutcher. Irene just moved to Sarasota from California. There were many early settlers of California and Nevada in her family, going back to the gold-rush days, and she plans on writing their stories.

No sooner than we had begun the meeting when Susan Haley and Russ Heitz surprised everyone by joining us. We are grateful to Susan and Russ as they are responsible for  founding our group. It was a great pleasure for all of our newer writers to meet them.

We resumed by catching up with Kerri Diffenworth and Jim Kelly, two of our long-time members whom we’d not seen in a while. Kerri shared her excitement about a new project, a historical work on the life of a Seminole woman. She relayed her experience attending a workshop on the West Coast. She continues to teach and keep a busy schedule.

Our first reader was Ernie, who read a revised first chapter for the second book in his historical series on the life of the Roman emperor, Constantine. The story begins with fear and hunger in Rome, Constantine’s young spy has learned that there may be trouble. He found more than he bargained for and winds up between an angry mob and the soldiers of the Urban Cohorts. At the last moment, a hand on his shoulder pulls him off the street.

Jeffery Kutcher read from his biographical work on the life of his friend, Amaury Torres. In his chapter, Jeffrey portrays the grim life in Amaury’s native Cuba. Five-year-old Amaury and his mother, Rosa, are accosted by a mugger. After a terrible fright, a friend intervenes, just in time.

Peter Frickel tells the story of his walk across Africa as a young man. His journey of 10,000 miles begins by crossing the desert. There he shares the road with a fellow traveler. In Peter’s wonderful way with words, he observes life and the measure of life’s road given and taken as the travelers part, each going their separate way.

Barbara Frickel shared childhood memories with a fond remembrance of Eddie, her family’s gardener, and her dear friend as she grew up. We learned that Eddie was a devout man filled with stories and song. Barbara’s heart-warming tribute was enjoyed by all.

Debbie MacAvoy read from her work, The Manipulator, the story of a city boy, Teddy, and his involuntary life on a farm. In her chapter, Teddy is given a tour of the dairy farm and the work that lay before him. Wiseacre Teddy’s bad attitude is on full
display. Debbie’s detailed descriptions of farm life led the group to ask, and she admitted to having grown up on a farm.

Jim Kelly shared from his new book, Another Look, a poem of the same name. The cover photo of his book features his three grandchildren looking through a fence. It’s a perfect photo to accompany his words. We were treated to several more poems from Jim’s file. Jim don’t be a stranger for so long, come back again soon.

Bruce Haedrich brought a classic, Erich Maria Remarque’s, All Quiet on the Western Front. He read the last chapter. Bruce often writes in the first person, and Remarque’s book is also written that way. The interesting twist is that in All Quiet on the Western Front, in the last chapter, the narrator dies. Bruce read the piece to illustrate how the author handled the character’s death. He also shared that as a Vietnam War veteran; he found his read of the book compelling. He found the experiences and outlook on life that he shared with the author remarkably similar despite the differences in time and nature of the battles fought.

Leah Sherzer used her reading time to ask the group for our thoughts on how to prioritize her writing projects. She has three subject areas that she has material on and wants to develop: the impact of the red tide on the manatee and other sea life, a personal story, and stories from her professional life in education. We hope that the thoughts and suggestions we shared were helpful.

Throughout the meeting, we enjoyed many helpful comments, critiques, and discussions. The conversations continued after the meeting was over, as we put the training room back in order, so as to not leave a mess for our friends at the Nokomis FD.

Hope to see you next time, Wednesday, November 7th, same time, same place. Until then keep on writing.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Special Post October 12, 2018

We received this email and wish to pass it along to our readers and writers.

Hi there,

I'm Weldon Ryckman, from Thin Air Magazine, and our crew would love to see what y’all are working on! Would you mind forwarding this call for submissions to your group members or email list? 

Thin Air, Northern Arizona University’s graduate student-run literary magazine is seeking submissions for their Spring 2019 print issue! Thin Air is an annually printed literary journal. 
We are currently seeking work in the following categories: poetry, visual arts, creative nonfiction, fiction, and hybrid works! 

Since 1995, we have published and continue to publish unique, creative, and diverse works. In the past, issues have included written works and interviews with writers such as Pam Houston, Angela Carter Brown, Brian Evenson, Savannah Slone, Michael Martone, and many other amazing writers.  We publish and circulate our journal annually. Alongside our print journal, we also offer the opportunity for publication through our online Web Features with no submission fee at all. Our latest issue featured work by Bellingham Review's Mike Oliphant, excerpted on our site. 

Submissions are now open, we hope to see your work!



Thursday, October 04, 2018

October 3rd, 2018

October 3, 2018

We welcomed Peter and Barbara Frickel upon their return from France. They had a great time visiting family there. Peter said he had time for introspection and made many notes to be used in his writing projects. We began the meeting with Peter sharing thoughts on characterization and male and female motivation; he continued, reading several poems: Truth, My Heart, Travels, Dr. Visit, The Beach, I, Birth, and The Clock. Peter left the group deep in thought. We all agreed that it is through introspection the writer draws from his or her own experience in our quest to characterize life.

The group welcomed new member Dennis Cathcart who shared two pieces he had published in his business’s newsletters over the years. He is a Florida native, and he and his wife Linda built an exotic plant business. Exotic is the key word as he traveled all over the world in building his business searching remote regions for specimens. Dennis read “Writer’s Block,” in which he confessed to his newsletter readers that after the many articles he had written, he was stumped for a subject to write about. He then proceeded to relay a compilation of half-told tails as he consulted with his travel companion Chester as they remembered various adventures that in the end they decided he better not tell, great fun. It was a well-done piece told in the authentic voice of a man who had been there, seen it all, and done it all. He punctuated that though by reading a piece he called an amusing story about his encounter with a tarantula spider on a midnight visit to the loo. We were not so sure he was amused at the time, but we will leave it at that. Welcome to the group Dennis, we look for to hearing more of your stories.

Jeffery Kutzher read the first chapter in his biographical piece about a friend, Amuary. His friend grew up in Castro’s Cuba, became a special forces soldier, ultimately escaped, and survived a superhuman trial at sea to reach the U.S. Jeffery began his chapter one by describing his friend’s childhood in communist Cuba. The group agreed that Jeffery has a compelling story to tell. We encouraged him to convert much of his descriptive background narrative into storytelling scenes, showing vs. telling, as we like to say. We will be eager to hear where Jeffery takes us. It sounds like his friend Amuary has had quite an amazing life.

Rene Fletcher read from her sci-fi work in progress, the story of her character, scientist and diver, Eva’s visit to the Devil’s Triangle, and discovery of a lost underwater city. In an otherworldly experience, Eva encounters an Atlantian and learns that the lost city is real. Will the message from Atlantis help Eva save the earth
from dreadful new technology? The group offers some suggestions, and we look forward to hearing more as Rene’s story unfolds.

Doug Salin then read from “Over Exposed,” a story featuring his Sarasota private detective Yale Larson. A murder on Bird Key has Yale on the case of the victim, of a wealthy real estate developer’s daughter. She’s been estranged from her father and worked as an exotic dancer. Doug has us hooked, and we will be looking to hear more.

Bruce Haedrich lightened the mood with a fanciful poem from his Hadley, Pennsylvania story collection: Mary, a magic friend. Well done, Bruce. You gave us a chuckle and brought a smile to our faces. His poem was enjoyed by all.

Don Westerfield continued the poetic theme, reading from his published work, The Closet Poet, “We but Strangers Are.” He continued with another of his favorites, “Ever Young.” Then he read from his work in progress drawer, he called them verses looking for a poem. Don’s sage poetry was enjoyed by all.

Jim Kelly concluded the evening by reading from the second chapter of his historical novel on the life of Civil War general, Winfield Scott Hancock. Jim’s passion for his subject was evident. His chapter was quite lengthy, and the group encouraged Jim to break it up into several more focused chapters to enhance the storytelling and give his readers shorter easier to read passages. Jim confessed that having listened to comments from the group throughout the evening he had already drawn that conclusion.

With that, the meeting ended, and everyone pitched in to put the Nokomis Fire Department training room back in order. Our next meeting will be in two weeks, on October 17th. Hope to see you then.


Sunday, September 23, 2018

September 19, 2018

This meeting was a lot of fun despite being about 30 minutes shorter than average.

We welcomed Jim Drendel, excuse me if I misspelled the name, to the meeting. I hope he enjoyed it as much as I did.

We opened the meeting with a discussion on Point of View and Character Development. Peter’s story, Rewired, served as a catalyst for the discussion. While writing about the effects of having two major strokes and having lost almost all mental function, Peter is tasked to develop characters and challenged as to which POV to take here. The tense of our stories is important. Is it in the present, past, or future? And, equally important, do we write in the first, second, or third person. What is right for your story?

Even in the case of non-fiction or memoir writing the author must use a POV and define the characters so the reader can identify and keep pace with the story.

The discussion was targeted toward helping each of us to think about how we write and see the story in our heads. Through whose eyes do we see, are our characters full and life-like, or are they flat and obviously fictional?

The reading portion of the meeting got off to a great start with Ernie reading his story entitled, The Rock. In the story, a wanted man meets with associates who believe in him and his actions. Is he a rebel, a terrorist, or simply a man seeking the truth? How far into the future is this story as a government pursues dissenting citizens?

Don brought a challenge to the group. A local paper sponsors a writing contest by printing a photograph and challenges writers to write a story of 1500 words or less about the photo. This edition is of a wooden door framed by stone. Don’s story, The Chapel Door, portrays a man contemplating suicide and what he experiences when confronted by a small child who asks, “What are you doing, Mister?”

Bruce shared a piece from a published book. The story is entitled The Brown Haired Girl. In a discussion, a couple wishes for things to be as they once were. 

When Tish opted to read from her memoir, unnamed at this writing, she related to having attended a class she called the Clairvoyant’s Class. With this class, she came to understand what she often thought of as a curse could be a blessing in disguise.

Reluctant to read but coaxed into doing so, Mary gave us a reading of a true conversation overheard on an airliner. A hairdresser, afraid of flying and rather talkative, struck up a conversation with a Nun with whom she was paired in the seating charts. Calling on the Nun to be her “Guardian Angel,” the hairdresser brought out an interesting conversation from her seatmate.

Rod read a portion of the second chapter of his latest Charlie Bascomb adventure. His description of a combat scene on an Iraqi rooftop led the listeners to offer many suggestions and requests for more of the same.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

August 15, 2018

Hello again, another energizing meeting to renew our spirit and encourage a greater desire to put pen to paper.

Before we moved into the discussion portion of our meeting, we were honored by the presence of a Nokomis Fire Department Battalion Chief to accept our semi-annual donation to the Department for allowing us the privilege of using their training room for our meetings. These guys are wonderful, and we ask that you support this Volunteer Fire Department every chance you get.

Another evening of great discussion and awesome reading began with the group mulling over the use of photographs, song lyrics, and quotes for publication. Although we all agreed, it’s best to get permission before using intellectual property than to beg forgiveness later. That forgiveness may be costly.

The reading portion of our meeting began with Peter Frickel. Peter demonstrated how he once wrote a piece in answer to a challenge in the group, it was to write something about wine. Having written this piece, he found a reason to incorporate it into another story he was working on. His, I Remember, tale includes the story Umbachara, woven into its heart. All of the writers I know, including myself, do not discard written work. We save scraps of paper and print-outs while files fill our hard drives, a plethora of thumb drives, and discs. These seemingly discarded works often find their way into our stories. Thank you, Peter, for reminding us of this abundant material resource.

Ernie Ovitz returned to the fourth century and Emperor Constantine with his reading of another chapter in the imagined daily workings of the Roman court. Filled with intrigue, spies, and traitors lurking in every corner. At the Saturnalia festivities in the Roman tradition, a sensual and suggestive encounter between an influential senator and the beautiful wife of a distinguished general lends a bit of spice to what is already an engaging tale.

The conclusion of Don Westerfield’s, Emma, was as entertaining as the first two installments had been. With the Admiral, the Queen, and their son all facing the truth, the conclusion is a classic Westerfield tale. Look for it in an upcoming publication.

An op-ed workshop inspired Anne Moore to write a piece she’s entitled, Steppin in High Cotton. It is a well-written piece highlighting, in some cases unique, facts about life in Florida. She explores places and activities that range from shopping at Publix to nudist camps. Fun is the keyword for this piece.

Hadley, Pennsylvania is a fictional town with familiar people and problems almost every small town in America face. A product of Bruce Heidrich’s mind, the story, Skin Deep, is a love story. Two people meet in grammar school and grow to adulthood with twists and turns dictated in real life. Look for Bruce’s book on Amazon and read these fascinating stories.

Returning with wonderful changes to the story, Lost and Found, Doug Sahlin read his story in which a brother seeks a bother lost. The search leads him to a homeless camp in Florida.

How I Met Ukie came to us from the pen of Leah Sherzer. A school psychologist struggles to complete the written evaluations of students while visited by the spirit of her departed daughter. This story bears the weight and aura of truth. We only heard a small part, the first few pages, but we all want more.

Peter McNally continues the work on the true story, Rewired, in which he relates the issues encountered when he suffers two strokes in short succession. Frustrated by his progress and the problems he faces in recalling the details of his ordeal, Peter is a novice writer and often faces a strong desire to quit writing. Encouraged by the group, we hope he stays with the project as it is a fascinating subject with the potential to aid many others facing similar disabilities. Hang in there Peter, we’re all pulling for you and offer our assistance.

As we ran out of time, a single reader was waiting in the wings. Jeff, don’t despair, you are first on the list for the next meeting.

Until next time, keep on writing and join us September 5th, 6:30 PM, at the Nokomis Fire Station. 

Thursday, August 09, 2018

A Learning Opportunity

Received by Ernie Ovitz this week:

Hi Creative Person,
This is Jeanne Corcoran, the director of the Sarasota County Film & Entertainment Office in Florida.  I just wanted to be sure you knew about the extraordinary event our film commission is helping to bring to Sarasota for the first time ever - October 19 thru 21, at the Ringling College academic auditorium: 
Robert McKee himself, presenting the legendary STORY seminar, which is world-acclaimed for providing writers of all kinds “an opportunity to apply classic story design – the kind that has resulted in masterpieces of all kinds – to your own cinematic, theatrical or literary premise.”
Mr. McKee’s students have won hundreds of major awards and nominations, from Oscars to Emmys to DGA and WGA awards, to name just a few.  I studied under him myself, and his teaching transformed my writing.  Robert McKee’s teaching took me completely to another level in how I conceived and conveyed the worlds of my stories.
After taking Mr. McKee’s STORY seminar, I continued on as a paid professional scriptwriter for more than 300 clients’ projects, sold three of my own screenplays on spec, and have written children’s books, novels, and multimedia, including having had my own children’s TV program air on 48 stations across the country.  I also administered the State of Nevada’s screenplay competition (the oldest state-sponsored contest of its kind) for a decade.
Would the STORY seminar impact you or someone you know who writes and creates, the way it did me?  There’s no way of knowing until someone takes the seminar and discovers for themselves what they individually might learn.  If you or someone you know is interested in attending or just wants more information, please copy and paste this link (or click through if it’s live in your email), to read a bit more about the exceptional work of Robert McKee (“one of the best story brains in the business”): 
You can also call our film office toll-free (888-765-5777, extension 104) and speak with our production coordinator for more details if I’m not available.
May Creativity imbue and enrich your life, always!

Jeanne D. Corcoran

Sunday, August 05, 2018

AUGUST 1st, 2018

Our first meeting in August was on the 1st, a great way to start the month.

Two new attendees were at the meeting, Ann and Jeffery. Both are writers and have extensive work completed, or at least in draft form. It’s great to have them here and hope they enjoyed the group.

For the first part of the meeting, a discussion among the attendees covered numerous subjects. Chief among those was, what writing tools are used by our authors and, what techniques for getting the work or paper (electronic or manual methods). 

Even though our group this week numbered only about a dozen, we pretty much covered the most popular writing techniques. All use electronic equipment to finalize their work while more than a third of the writers use a pen or pencil and paper to work with the drafts.

The use of electronic programs also varied. Many use the Microsoft Office Word while some use Scrivner and still others use; Final Draft, Storyist, iA Writer, Celtx or even Evernote. There are a lot of tools out there for a writer to use. Explore a little and choose the one that works the best for you.

We moved from the discussion into the reading portion of the meeting and heard some results of these techniques and methods.

Peter Frickel was first on the list this evening. As usual, he was delightful in his comments. He brought a group of short works, simple ideas that give us an insight into his thinking. Again, as is the case most evenings when Peter speaks, it was a definitive lesson in how to take the basic happenings around us and put them on paper in a manner which draws in the reader and makes them want to read more. Each of his examples left me wanting to hear more of the story. Entitled, I Saw Her, was about child-rearing, an act that birds may do better than humans. Another offering explored the antics and habits of wild creatures in Africa, Baboons showed us a pack of raucous creature faced with a perceived threat. A dying man in an African city was the Victim. When he finished up with a short story, The Veldt and the Hunter, we hung on each word as a dangerous confrontation evolved into a revelation which could surely have a dire conclusion.

Moving from the Veldt of the African plains to the Spanish colonies of the Roman Empire, Ernie Ovitz took us inside the camp of Constantine and the court of his brother-in-law as they vie for control of the empire. Intrigue, military might, and cunning are well crafted in this novel. Look for Ernie’s trilogy in the future.

As Don Westerfield began to read the third installment of Emma, we wondered what was going to happen? In this segment, it’s twenty years later and our young Lieutenant is now an Admiral dispatched to the small country of Monte Rosa whose Queen is his old lover, Emma. The Vice President gives the Admiral some advice, it resonates as to twenty years prior; “Keep in your pants!” The Admiral is married to the Navy while the Queen is married and has a son, a son who is now almost twenty years old and the Queen insists on the Admiral meeting the boy.

In Doug Sahlin’s, Lost and Found, a man searches for his half-brother and the search leads him to Sarasota. He meets a homeless couple who know his brother and tell him what he needs to know.

Flash fiction is unique in its structure and few do it better than 
Bruce Haedrich. In Chance, Victoria Blake Dietrich traces her family tree and finds an astonishing number of places where chance intervened to bring her existence to being. Ever wonder, Why am I here?

Alligator Creek, by Leah Sherzer takes us for a walk along the meandering stream with a little dog for company. After spotting a golden fish seemingly in a life and death struggle, she realizes, upon closer inspection, the fish is in the jaws of an otter swimming upstream, taking the fish home to feed its family. Her curiosity has led her to the edge of the stream where she’s often seen large alligators. She retreats to safer footing but doesn’t regret her lapse of caution as it was a rewarding stroll.

Rewrites are part of writing, after an extensive critique at our last meeting, Peter McNally returned with his work, Rewired. A second critique and more suggestions followed his reading to which Peter responded with gratitude and enthusiasm. This looks to be a great beginning and is going to be a fascinating read.

Well, it was an interesting evening and I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of it. So, until next time:
Keep on Writing!