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

Thursday, October 19, 2017

October 18th, 2017

Welcome Back;

We had some good fun at this meeting, not the least of which was welcoming a couple of first time attendees, Kathleen and Tim, who as Tim said, "are partners in business and life." Co-owners of Jacobs Writing and Publishing Consultants, LLC, we paid heed to the thoughtful comments each made throughout the evening. If you wish to know more about this couple or their business I suggest you check out their website, or call 239-464-9730.

Our meeting started with a brief discussion featuring a blog entry written by Jennie Haskamp in The Daily Muse entitiled 15 words to eliminate from your vocabulary to sound smarter. I came across this article some time ago and felt it worth sharing with our group. I'd no sooner finished my presentation, when several attendees presented statements using most, if not all, of the 15 words. Good fun.

Of the 12 attendees, 11 prepared work to read and wanted critique from the group. All but one accomplished their reading and each received useful comments from the group.

Kathleen was asked to lead off and read a piece she is working on with a target audience of 8 to 12 year-old's, I think she might well expand her target as we heard good work that might well apply to teens as well. The opening chapter of the piece found a ghoulish hag under a bridge where she's just finished off feasting on the brains of a pair of trolls. Unsatisfied and still hungry, she longed to find other victims and, using the sharpened bones of her victims, she knitted some clothing before setting out to hunt.

Next up was Tim. Revisiting his early love for writing he presented an essay which gave credit to his High School teachers who encouraged his love for the written word. A stirring piece, it gives credit to teachers often a forgotten part of our successes.

Peter shared a selection of readings two poems, each poignant and revealing, and a selection from his collection of letters. His short verse expresses his vision of sky and clouds above the majestic Ruwenzori mountain range of South Africa and its view of what transpires within its purview. A bit longer verse explored visions in a mirror when one lets the mind's eye see beyond the obvious. Finally, the letter reveals the passion a writer has for his craft as he imparts his feelings to a longtime friend with whom he's shared past memories.

Letitia, compiling her notes and memories for presentation in a memoir which will be powerful, shared a brief segment of the mental and physical anguish an addict mother feels. She writes from experience seeking to help others with a focus on women in crisis. She hopes to help them avoid the pitfalls of recovering addicts, alcoholics, and victims of abuse locked in a life filled with what may seem insurmountable issues. Good stuff.

Our local Irish Dame, Noreen, enthralled us with a fantasy as she listened to a group of seagulls, (in the Gallic, faoilleans pronounced free'lanns), watching people on a beach. In her story, the birds chatter away and she can understand every word. As she read we laughed aloud, often and with gusto.

When Don read his tale of attending college 40 or more years ago at an age of 40+ years, we again had a good belly laugh. The story entitled, Humanities 101, showed how a person born in the 1930's handled 1970's culture in a classroom. When a professor invited a poet to read his latest popular work, the title, Looking At Life Through A Glass Asshole, was a shock to the older students. When the contents contained a number of words considered profane by their generation... Well, you have to hear the story, or read it yourself, to enjoy it's intricate details.

Lewis Carroll's The Jabberwoky is difficult to read under the best circumstances. When Bruce read it using the techniques of an evening newscaster, it was even better. We may request a repeat performance.

George brought the opening chapters of his latest work. It's a mystery and takes place in the community of Osprey, Florida during World War II. His characters come to life and his chapter end leaves us wanting more. Can't wait!

A few week ago Doug presented a piece called, And Justice for All. This week he brought it back with changes made considering the comments he received at the last reading. Well done.

Darienne deferred her time so that Rod could read a chapter he's read before and is having trouble making it work. The changes were well received and additional suggestions made. That is the purpose of this group, Writers helping Writers. Darienne will be first on the reading list next meeting.  

We hope to see you at the upcoming meeting, November 1st. In the meantime, keep on writing.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Concerning October 18th Meeting

Three Quick Items

1. Thanks to Darienne for reminding me:

"The Elements of Style" by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White are almost required for all writers.
A quote from Professor Strunk: "Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all sentences short or avoid all detail and treat subjects only in outline, but that every word tell."

2. Our fearless leader, Ernie Ovitz, will be unable to attend tonight or the next meeting. We'll miss him.

3. Our thanks to Peter. Here is the information for an on-air radio program that features local writers and their work.

97.5 FM
North Port Community Radio

Check out Face Book-
Dobie Pasco is the show host
12735 Tamiami Trail [US 41] North Port FL 34287

Phone: 941-564-8739

Join us Wednesday night. I hope to see a number of writers there and hear some really good stories.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Oct 4th Meeting

Welcome to our Fall meeting:

Although attendance was better, we still did not have a full house and that’s okay. All who attended came through the recent storm with little or no damage. Hang in there, only another month to go.

Marisa attended this meeting, we haven’t seen her in a while and it’s always good to have her in the group. She’s an excellent essayist and writes about very interesting subjects. She also hosts an open mike program at the Sarasota Brewing Company, 6607 Gateway Ave, in Sarasota’s Gulf Gate Neighborhood the third Wednesday of each month. If you’re not busy attending our meeting, stop by and say hello one evening; take time to enjoy great food and Fantastic Beers while listening to some interesting writers. As might be expected, her presence elicited inquiries about open mike venues in the area. 

Peter mentioned an open mike show aired in North Port, he thinks it's prerecorded and airs Sundays at 3:00 PM. He could not remember the local station so, if anybody has further information, please send me an email at

Our own Ed Ellis is scheduled to present a mini-course on Creative Writing at the
Women’s Resource Center.
340 S. Tuttle Ave.
Sarasota, FL 34237
Phone: 941-256-WRC1

Dates and Times.

Class #1 – 1 PM to 3 PM Friday October 20th.
Class #2 – 1 PM to 3 PM Friday October 27th.

Call the WRC for more information and who is eligible to attend.

A discussion about character names and how authors determine those names brought forth many thoughts and questions from our attendees.

One question evoked curiosity more than others; "How do you handle names from long ago in different locals? ie. Roman or Greek names from antiquity or Old English names." The consensus was “Research,” do your research and use names from the period.

For names in the modern era, the Social Security Administration’s popular names list provides the most popular names for each year. Remember, many readers have lived for decades and are familiar with names used in past years.

It's probably not a good idea to use multiple names for a single character. William Hartford may be known by more than one name in life; his friends may call him Willie, to acquaintances he's Bill, to his staff and coworkers Mr. Hartford is appropriate, a few old army buddies call him H-man, and there’s always Billy, Billy-Bob, or Hartford. Numerous other nicknames might apply. However, once you’ve introduced the character a single name within the context of your story would be less confusing to your reader. Sure, a derivations are acceptable if a special relationship is clear and consistent.

What do you think?

 As we moved on to the reading portion of our evening, Ed shared a piece which made us laugh as only his twisted, maybe only slightly bent, mind can. We were introduced to Mr. Bacharacharockus whose story takes place at Walt Disney World. Separated from his wife because he wishes only to rest and write a bit while she explores Fantasyland, Ed finds himself at his favorite restaurant. He requests a seat in the bar and a sweet tea. Three young hostesses concur, he must tell them his name before they can seat him. Not wanting to be bothered, and unwilling to use his pen name as he often does, he blurts out the first name that comes to  mind, Peter Bacharacharockus. After spelling it out for the hostesses, he's escorted to a seat where, while sipping on his sweet tea, he writes page after page of prose. All goes well until his wife arrives to retrieve him...

Ernie, challenged by a previous comment requesting more feminine presence in his work, read a chapter describing a bit of female influence in his latest tome. In this chapter, A Town Under Siege, two comely young women, princesses of Roman royalty if you will, bring bread to hungry soldiers on the walls of the city. Having endured an arduous day repelling repeated assaults by the Franks, the men are hungry for more than bread but even the youngest of the pair sloughs off the bawdy invitations of battle-weary troops. Only the presence of Constantine's son, Christmas brings the pair some uneasiness...

Peter enthralled us with the latest in a series of letters purportedly written to a friend. The letter remembers the recently deceased mother of the writer. The vivid memories of his mother and father’s relationship brings a hint of moisture to several eyes as words form descriptions of a mother waiting for a father to return from the hunt and in the final paragraph...  

After an absence of several months, Marisa returned and brought an essay entitled The Storm. Written in the second person, her rendition of an evacuation during the recent storm gave insight as how she and "the one she loved" left their new dream house against his wishes, spent the hours of the storm in another home, and the morning after the storm, their return provides a unique view of a  relationship...

Chapter 15 of Don’s memoir gives us a glimpse of what it was like when a young President, John F. Kennedy, called up military reserve troops, including the Air National Guard, in response to Russia's saber rattling. While making ready to report for duty in France, the Indiana Airmen faced with inept administrators and questionable deployment orders, end up returning home without deployment...

A piece we heard once before came back with many remarkable enhancements as Darienne read Take the Dotted Route for the second time. She and hubby embarked on a road trip this past summer. They wandered west using routes less traveled. Through the high plains of Colorado we enjoyed wonders of National Parks in several states concluding our journey at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Each locale was brought to life with great writing giving us the sense of the land with visual, sensual, and emotional prose. Not only did we see the sights of this glorious country but we met wonderful people with dreams fulfilled as they live in the paradise of their choosing...

Join us on October 18th at 6:30 for the next meeting. I don’t know what we’ll discuss but I can promise it will be interesting.

Till then, Keep On Writing!
I’ll see you there.

Monday, October 02, 2017

First Wednesday in October, 9/4/17

Check it out. We’re having our first fall meeting this year.

The last two meetings have been sparsely attended thanks to Irma, she was not welcome nor invited. I hope to see more of you at this meeting and through next spring.

The proposed subject for this meeting’s discussion period. “What’s in a name, especially your character’s name?”

Think about this for a bit and come prepared to discuss the way you name the characters in your fiction or if you change the names to protect the innocent in a memoir.

Bring some of your work to read and receive feedback from the other members. 

See you there on Wednesday night.

Keep on writing,

Saturday, September 09, 2017

FWA e-News

Join the Sarasota Writer's Group Today

Guess What?
On September 16th, from 11 AM to 12 PM EST, Monica Odom is presenting a Webinar on the Dos and Don'ts of pitching to a Literary Agent. Click here for details.

Check out all the need-to-know information before the Annual Conference.
  • Planning to sell your books in the bookstore this year? Sign-up closes this month. Go here for more information.
  • Haven't registered for the Annual Conference yet? Rates go up on 9/18/17. Register here and save.
  • Looking for a way to add some sizzle and pop to your meetings? Group leaders and all interested members are invited to join the Writers Group Rendezvous in the Waldorf on Friday night @ 8:30 PM during the Annual Conference.
  • Don't forget to register your youth for the Annual Youth Conference. Click below for details.

If you are attending or planning to attend the 16th Annual Conference, please be sure to reach out to Hilton Altamonte Springs and book your hotel room. We are nearing capacity. 

Executive Vice President 
Vice President of
Administration & Membership

Cynthia Knopf
Vice President of Finance

Chrissy Jackson
Director Emerita


Florida Youth Writers

Thursday, August 17, 2017

August 16, 2017

It was a small group this week but we managed to have an interesting discussion anyway.

Research and character development seems to come up in many of our discussions. Each member of the group is striving to write well and develop characters as believable individuals. 

Pieces we've read from various sources, print, e-books, and online fell under our literary microscope. We agreed, there are a lot of poorly written works out there and many of these are taking away from the quality indie works published. Much of which could be made better by proper editing and the use of a quality writer’s group.

As writers, we want to publish only quality work that meets the test of our readers and lend credence to our name. Also, good writing and popular works gives a boost to all authors whether traditionally or self-published.

Each of tonight’s readers gave us something to think about and welcomed our comments. 

Continuing the reading of his memoir, Don regaled us with Chapter 14, F84-F. The Indiana Air National Guard received a shipment of F84's, planes considered less than acceptable by the Air Force after the Korean War, but our National Guard units managed to fly them for 20 or more years with a distinguished record. When Don saw the list of planes available he immediately picked out a plane with a tail number matching his address and phone number; what a coincidence. In another incident about the same time, the FAA hadn't approved a device designed to catch a plane at the end of the runway if it couldn't stop. The catch net was installed and operational but the tower was ordered not to use the device until approved. While awaiting approval, a pilot blew a tire on takeoff. Calling for the safety barrier to be raised, his wingman watched as the pilot crashed and burned at the end of the runway.

As a Toastmaster member, Ernie was tasked with writing a speech about something in his life. He chose to speak about his writing in a piece entitled "The Accidental Writer." His speech included recognition of our group, singling out several members. We much appreciated his shout out.

Tish read a portion of a chapter from her memoir, still in its infancy. She is attacking some sensitive issues and it take a lot of guts to write her story. She admits, it's therapeutic and the group encourages her to get her story on paper, worry about editing later. She's a good writer and has a lot to tell.

A mystery writer whose detective, Yale Larsson, has come to life in previous pieces, Doug once again delivered a nice piece. Yale is a Private Investigator who stands up for the little guy. In this case, it’s a blind homeless veteran and Medal of Honor winner. Local authorities make little headway in finding the thugs who beat the disabled man and stole his things, including his Medal of Honor. Yale goes undercover, trash bags in hand to find the perpetrators.  

The second draft of the second chapter in the latest Charlie Bascomb Adventure was offered for critique. When Charlie confides in his wife and tells her about an incident involving his unit in Baghdad, the group questioned whether this character would do such a thing. Maybe a rewrite is in the works.

We have a good time but it will seem a lot longer until our next meeting, this month has five Wednesdays. Our next meeting is September 6th, at 6:30 PM in the Nokomis Fire Station training room. We hope you can join us. The discussions are lively and we would like your input, plus, we want to hear your stories, memoirs, poems, or anything else you write. Please join us.

Keep on Writing,


Tuesday, August 08, 2017

It was another good meeting

August 2nd, 2017

Another good meeting even with the inclement weather. We welcomed Lee, a first-time attendee who braved the downpour in order to visit with us, we hope he enjoyed our company and will return.

Our discussion centered on eight questions addressing a single question; ARE THERE GAPS IN YOUR STORY ARC?

In our previous blog I introduced the subject and previewed the questions as follows:
  1. Who is your main character (MC)?
  2. What does the MC want?
  3. What's the main conflict that keeps the MC from getting that want?
  4. What's the event/situation that sets the MC in motion to achieve the want?
  5. What are the obstacles the MC encounters, keeping him/her from the want? (Obstacles should escalate, building tension)
  6. What's the event/situation that makes the MC go "All-or-Nothing" to win the want? (This is a moment in which there is no turning back)
  7. Does the MC win or lose?
  8. What's the effect of the win or loss on the MC

Our discussion took off with the first question and we were into it hot and heavy. Some of our authors do not write fiction but even they contributed saying, "Many of the perspectives used in developing fiction stories can be use in non-fiction pieces as well."

Using a biography for a fictional character is as important as using a true biography for a person in real life. In writing the details of a person's life, the author must be accurate in stating facts, dates, and happenings. If inaccuracies occur in even a minor detail, the entire work comes into question. 

A similar thing happens in fiction. Making a mistake about your character's history often leads to confusion and the reader will pick up on the error. Two things may happen, the reader will ignore the faux pas and continue, the best of circumstances or, the reader will lose interest and close the book never to pick it up again; nor will they purchase a work with the author's name attached in the future. 
Even in fiction accuracy counts.

We rolled on with many thoughts and opinions, the characters cannot be bland, they must have a personality, they must grow and change with emotional rifts, highs and lows, love, hate, anger, happiness, sadness, selfish thoughts, and all the good and bad things people face everyday. We can make them too good to be true or too bad to believe, it's up to the author. But, no matter how we make them, we must make them true in their world, the world we create for them.

Our discussion went on a bit longer than normal but we finally wound down and coasted to a stopping point. After a short break we heard from six of our authors, reading from the latest work and looking for opinions and guidance. 

Darienne read the travelogue detailing her summer vacation in touring some of the most beautiful vistas in the United States. Her descriptions were graphic and filled the pages with wonder. Some suggestions were given and she is going to do some editing and present the piece again in the near future.

Peter, in his ever magnificent style, read from his collection of letters. This one was from Morier, a friend of the Colonel, espousing the qualities and failing of Manon, a beautiful and seductive woman who is vying for the Colonel's love a second time. A wonderful and complicated story of love won and lost. Peter also read five selections of his poetry, Memory, Victim, Skin, Baboons, and Rising Sun.

Ed's poem, Songbird, taken from a bluebird remembered from childhood, gave us a metaphorical look at life.

Rod read the first chapter of his Charlie Bascomb Adventure still under construction. 

Bruce gave us another installment of Promontory Castle, a wonderful tale in iambic pentameter. In this episode, the prince and princess escape the evil invaders and learn to become citizens of the realm, a boon if they ever regain the throne.

Noreen's wonderful wit and Irish brogue create a combination that brings happiness to whatever she reads. This piece entitled, God's Waiting Room, was not about Florida as one might expect but instead it was a humorous look a death and what it might be like awaiting assignment in the afterlife.

Because of our extended discussion we ran out of time and look forward to two readers, Don and Ernie, at our next session. We don't know where they'll take us but, we await the journey.

Our next meeting is on August 16th, at the Nokomis Fire Station, as usual. We hope to see you there and until then, KEEP ON WRITING!


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Last Meeting and Next Meeting

July 23, 2017

Our meeting began on by welcoming a new attendee. Diane drove all the way from Holmes Beach in pouring rain to attend. We are honored and hope you enjoyed and come back. She told of us of her plan to write about the pain and issues that come with being a second wife and stepmother.

Kerri introduced us to a website, a lovely little website with lots of magazine, book, and workshops available. You might want to check it out.

Jeff suggested a good read on Florida entitled "Oh Florida" Jeff claims it's as good if not better than Dave Barry's "Best State Ever."

Don led off the reading with a thrilling tale of being in an uncomfortable military cargo plane, low on fuel, stuck in a snowstorm over the mountains, and piloted by an man who's only aim was to get home, even if it means ignoring the safety rules. I doing so, he endangers the lives of an entire platoon of airmen.

When Ernie began, he brought us a rewrite of the first chapter of his latest work about the Emperor Constantine. He doing a great job telling us a tale of an historical figure that makes the reader feel as if they are there, witnessing history yet getting to know the humanity of the characters.

Bruce continued from where he left off at the last meeting with his reading of Promontory Castle, an epic story of Kings and Kingdoms in Iambic Pentameter.

Our last reader of the evening, Kerri, read a selection from her memoir entitled "Where Neck Meets Mane." A trail ride led by a ranch hand who leads his charges into the heart of Florida's mysterious natural beauty and possible dangers. Accompanied by her daughter, niece, and company of tourists, the crossing of a swollen creek holds a special meaning.

At our next meeting, August 2nd, our first readers will be, Darienne and Tish who did not get the opportunity to read this week.

This excerpt comes from an article on Linkedin, Author U.

The following questions were written by Shonell Bacon (shared with permission) and originally posted here:

Are There Gaps in your Story Arc?

A plot needs to have a beginning, a middle, and an end, but sometimes holes or gaps develop that need to be filled. While there is no formula to writing a novel, these eight questions can help guide an author in making sure the arc of their plot is complete.

  1. Who is your main character (MC)?
  2. What does the MC want?
  3. What's the main conflict that keeps the MC from getting that want?
  4. What's the event/situation that sets the MC in motion to achieve the want?
  5. What are the obstacles the MC encounters, keeping him/her from the want? (Obstacles should escalate, building tension)
  6. What's the event/situation that makes the MC go "All-or-Nothing" to win the want? (This is a moment in which there is no turning back)
  7. Does the MC win or lose?
  8. What's the effect of the win or loss on the MC?
Do these sound as if they'd be useful to you?

At our next meeting we will discuss these questions and more.

Until then; Keep On Writing


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Thanks to Darienne Oaks:

Here are the Merriam Webster dictionary definitions for the blog:
criticize is a verb: to consider the merits and demerits of and judge accordingly: evaluate
criticism is a noun: 1. act of criticizing, usually unfavorable  2. critique: the art of evaluating or analyzing works of art or literature
 We engage in the act of criticizing, considering the merits and demerits of a piece of writing, by providing a critique, an evaluation or analysis of the work. 

Too, I wonder if others in our writing group would care to add to this suggested list of specific feedback for writers or offer alternatives. 
Are the characters well drawn?
Is dialogue believable?
Is the pacing of the story well matched to its content?
Are there too many adjectives and adverbs?
Is the sentence/paragraph construction effective?
Do transitions lead the reader from one part to another in a way that keeps the story moving forward?
Is the length of the writing appropriate for its subject matter?
Does the writing hold the reader's interest?If not, what might improve the writing?
How might the writer strengthen the writing, story line, dialogue or characterizations? 



Check out this web address for 
"A Basic Guide to Getting Permissions + Sample Permissions Letter"

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Thanks to cecile bell:

For the Love of Books & Florida

Sarasota, Florida

JULy 15, 2017



Ritz-Carlton Sarasota
1111 Ritz Carlton Dr
Sarasota, FL 34236


Welcome to For the Love of Books & Florida!
Everything beach!!!! We will live it up right on the beach in beautiful Sarasota, Florida!
Our event details:
Location - The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota. This is the best of the best on the Gulf Coast and it's all ours! After the event the authors and readers will be taken to a private beach for drinks, dinner and relaxation in the sand.
The Friday night mixer will be held pool-side and only feet from the Gulf. Food and drinks included as well as contests and prizes.



Current List of Authors (more being added):
Marni Mann
TM Frazier
M. Robinson
Kristen Hope Mazzola
Seth King
K Street
K. L Roth & R. L Weeks