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: 8:00 pm Meeting Finishes at 9:00 pm

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

Sunday, June 25, 2017

June 21, 2017

Our June 21st meeting was fun and informing. Two new attendees were there and we welcomed them with open arms. One of them has recently moved to the area and the other was her guest, a good friend from the Northwest. They joined in our conversation and contributed information germane to our discussion.

The discussion covered a multitude of subjects; traditional publishing vs. self-publishing was the highlight but several sub-themes came to the fore among them, the difference between critique and criticism.

Darienne returned after a vacation wherein she traveled across the country. She is itching to write many stories but shared with us the good news that four of her pieces have been accepted for publication in various magazines.  

We moved on to the reading portion of our night. Ed Ellis shared a poem entitled Bird House. The free-verse poem depicted how we all live in some type of container.

Ernie Ovitz surprised us by reading the introduction to his handbook geared toward the Englewood Real Property Market. A realtor, he wants to introduce some of his personal history with the area to his clients and other realtors. He read the rough draft and received a lot of feedback. We look forward to the revised version.

Peter, who says, “I’m not going to write a memoir” elicited laughter and a few tears from the listeners as he read his piece entitled, Me. Peter writes so much about his homeland in South Africa and his travels across Africa and the European continents. His writing is suburb. Although he chooses not to write a memoir, his stories show the reader much about him and his life.

Our visitor, Barra, consented to read a selection from his forthcoming book, And the Jester Cried. The book shows signs of being a big hit as it is composed of a series of vignettes written in a unique style using fast moving verbiage in the prose of a freeform thinker.  

When Don read his opening paragraphs, the listeners were laughing so hard I think I missed some of the good stuff. When a private attempted to smother an aircraft engine fire in front of an audience of military brass, including the Base Commanding General, and handled a high-pressure foam hose… Well, I’ll let your imagination prompt you to wait for his memoir’s publication.

With the brogue of a true Irish woman, Noreen let us peek into the private life of her dog, Rocky. When joining the family including another pesky canine, Rocky was introduced to the realities of life when a trip to the Vet for neutering was scheduled. The conversation between the two dogs, as imagined by our Gaelic writer was funny, so funny I missed the name of the second dog. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

First Meeting In June

As the weather cleared, members began to arrive. We were pleased to see the number of attendees; we feared the summer exodus and threat of rain would take its toll on this meeting.

Without a predetermined subject of discussion, we opened the floor to whatever subject happened to strike our fancy. Taking the lead, I passed around an article on writing query letters. While the members looked it over we began an informal discussion on memoirs that morphed into an interesting and thoughtful conversation engaging all attendees.

Methods of using well placed thoughts and powerful wording make what may well be described as mundane occurrences riveting passages worth reading more than once. Examples of such work by distinguished memoirists allowed us to see the results.

We attempted to avoid the legal issues discussed in the previous meeting and concentrated on issues of craft. Although, use of signed permission forms, approving what is written about a person or the family of those no longer alive, was introduced by Kerri. It’s a good idea and, if permission is given, it’s harder to recant.

After a short break, we moved on into the reading portion of our evening.

Jim Kelly shared three winning poems from his program of introducing poetry and writing to 5th Grade students. The poems produced by these youngsters were high quality examples of the capabilities of young poets can share with their classmates and the world. Jim also brought three of his work, The Calico Cat, The Elevator, and The Sleeping Fox are typical of Jim’s mastery. Background for his writing The Sleeping Fox was beautiful yet eerie and gave a feeling of divine intervention.

An excerpt from Mary Clark’s Liars Club, as read by Kerri, highlighted the authors use of sights, sounds, smells, and feelings to make the reader feel as if they were with her when the incident occurred. It was a great follow-up to our discussion.

Peter was doing a bit of clean up on his computer and came up with a good idea; he shared with us the way a story is born; his methods and ways of developing the storyline. He also shared his views on the development of memoirs from much earlier eras through the 1990’s. Early memoirists were more reserved in revealing their innermost secrets whereas, by the 90’s, they laid it all out there; “the good, the bad, and the ugly.” Then, he shared two exquisite poems of his, Anger and Snowman.

In recent weeks, a woman has come to us and until last month had not felt comfortable sharing her writing with us. Last meeting, Laticia read a short opening to her work that was powerful and engaging, it left us wanting more. This time she allowed us to consider her backstory. A span of a few weeks, from birth to introduction into a dysfunctional family rift with abuse and alcoholism, introduces us to a life not yet finished.

Westy shared a portion of his memoir from 1951, the beginning his tour of active duty. From standing guard on a flight-line in sub-zero weather, were the facilities were non-existent and his cohort couldn’t hold it, he describes how his overzealous attention to the boiler made water too hot for showers and caused discomfort in using a latrine, his confrontation with a Korean War Ace pilot, personal hygiene of a comrade, the attempts of his compadres to help another of their company lose his virginity, and mustering out of active duty into the Indiana Air National Guard, all provide numerous chuckles. Don’s homespun way of telling a tale is engaging and well taken.

As time ran out, two members were unable to share their work, they will be at the top of the list next meeting. Bruce and Ernie, we look forward to your stories.

Until next time, KEEP ON WRITING.

See you at the June 21st meeting.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

May 17th Meeting

Another meeting with excellent attendance. Even though summer is upon us, writers still gather to learn and share.

We began our meeting with introductions, accompanying me were two guests, my wife Betsy, and my neighbor Margie. Bob, returning after an absence of over a year, joined us once again. Welcome to all.

I opened a discussion which touched on Legal and Ethical Issues in Memoir Writing. An attorney, who’d committed to come earlier in the month, was unable to attend due to a last-minute schedule change. We hope he’ll be able to attend a later meeting.

Regardless of the attorney’s absence, we pressed on with our discussion. A longtime group member, Kerri Dieffenwierth, contributed a great piece. Despite being on vacation halfway across the country, she asked that I read it to the group and it was well received. The discussion touched on many aspects encountered when writing a memoir and a major concern quickly came to the fore. How do we deal with horrific happenings in one’s life without causing extreme distress in the family dynamic? The discussion drew opinions from every member of the group. Although we could not conclude anything legally, the opinions were substantial and we did determine, the truth must be told if you want your readers to hear the entire story.

We took a short break as we tabled the discussion and, upon reconvening, we heard from five members wishing to share their work.

Noreen’s poem, Ode to Bally Murphy, a tribute to her village in Ireland where the Murphy clan abides, was well written and touching. The lilt of her voice and the touch of the Gallic gave the listeners the feeling they’d been there.

Don regaled us with the second chapter of his memoir. In this episode, a mere 19-year-old who hadn’t had the opportunity to attend basic training, encounters a situation while on guard duty that is not defined in the manual. The story was beyond amusing, it was downright funny.

A first-time reader, Letitia, shared the introduction to her memoir. It was short but powerful and had listeners wanting more. We hope to hear more in future readings.

A Bishop fleeing persecution in ancient Rome held our attention as Ernie read from his early writings. Unpublished to date, this was a precursor to his published book, The Seventh King. The tale was riveting and gave us a clearer picture of how things once were.

Closing out the evening, Peter shared a sampler of his work. He referred to this collection as Bits and Pieces. Beginning with a letter to an old heartthrob, composed as he treads upon the soil of Africa, he leaves us with the realization he is a true romantic. He followed this with nine poems touching on subjects ranging from a Girl in a Vineyard to the dead, withering under the sun in the deserts of the Sudan. Each piece was powerful, evoking visions in his listener’s mind.

Our evening ended with these images of Ireland, military life, a child’s fear and confusion, the Roman Bishop fleeing into the mountains, and Africa with its splendor and shocking reality ensconced in our minds.

We look forward to June 7th, when we meet again.
Keep on writing!

Friday, May 12, 2017

What Happened Last Meeting? What's In Store for the Next Meeting?

May is here and many of our winter members have already departed for their homes in the north. Thanks to the internet they can still follow what we do here all summer. We strive to continue the quality of meetings throughout the following months.

Our meeting on May 3rd began with a discussion exploring how we come up with ideas for plots and how each of us develops it. The methods were as diverse as this group’s makeup. Some outline, some use specialty software, and others simply wing it.

We heard tales of starting out in one direction and performing an about-face after a few chapters. Some admitted to chucking massive amounts of prose to clarify the plot. We all agree what we envisioned in the beginning is seldom the result.

As we moved into the reading portion of our meeting, Jeff shared a new piece with us chronicling a moment in the life of two strangers meeting at a restaurant while racing inside after being caught a driving rainstorm. The story gets a little dicey when the woman’s blouse is soaked through. Oh well, we look forward to the next installment.

Peter shared an enticing and provoking story about a dog and master whose lives are intertwined with patrons and owner of a sidewalk cafĂ©. A Walk in the Shadows, makes us ask, how well do animals understand their surroundings and masters?

Joe, our in-house humorist, presented his satirical outlook on estrogen. Need to Elucidate highlights incidents involving issues encountered by a woman as she engages in estrogen therapy. Physical and mental discomfort brought on by hot flashes and radical shifts in temperament led to situations shown in a most humorous light.

Don introduced us to the first installment of his memoir, Swords and Plowshares. His story documents memories of over 40 years in the Indiana Air National Guard. From raw recruit to the highest rank an enlisted man can achieve, his memories give us insight into a man dedicated to his job.

Bruce read from the latest in his Dan Marin mystery series. Finding Cloe is the 8th book in the series. The first chapter leaves us wanting more.

Noreen and Doug are the first to read at our next meeting.

I asked, and this week, I received a suggestion for our discussion. In past weeks, most of our discussions appear to have been more relevant for fiction writers than non-fiction or memoirists. So, this week, I propose we discuss some of the legal and ethical issues encountered by the writers who produce creative non-fiction and memoirs.

One question I’m often asked is, “What if I write my memoir and members of my family, or others portrayed in the piece, become upset by what I’ve written, am I in legal trouble?”

I’m not an attorney and therefore cannot answer this question with authority. Has anyone encountered this issue? How was it resolved?

Must you have proof of any statement made in a memoir? If you make an accusation in writing, even if it’s a very private thing, (i.e. sexual abuse by a family member or close acquaintance,) must you have legal proof or have filed charges over the incident(s). What degree of proof is needed?

Non-fiction material often encounters similar issues. A writer puts forth a theory in a paper or publication, others in the field disagree with the writer. One or more of the detractors take umbrage with the statements and publicly attempt to discredit the writer for breaching the subject and demand published proof. Another claims the writer purloined the idea, impinging on an opportunity to publish a paper in the future.

What liabilities are encountered in these situations? If theories are advanced, are the same rules in effect as when making a statement of fact?

Join us on Wednesday, May 17th to hear writer’s express their opinions and share experiences. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

April 19th

It looks like summer is fast approaching and our attendance shows the departure of the sun-birds. I'ts inevitable, happens every year about this time. Thank you all for coming to the meetings each month. Your input and wisdom are invaluable and needed. 
But, there is an advantage to be found in even the most undesirable situations.
 With fewer attendees we have time for more in-depth discussions, longer reading time for each reader, and time to analyze the pieces read more thoroughly. We’ll miss our friends until next fall but, we’ll muddle through.
As we discussed character development at this meeting it might seem appropriate to follow up on a few more basic things at this meeting. I suggest we discuss where do we get our ideas for plots and plot development, how do we name our characters, why do we give our characters some of the foibles and strengths. Do plots develop as we write or do you know where you’re going when you start?
Are you involved in the story while writing? If so, to what degree? Do you ever find yourself thinking like your character when you’re not writing? Do others recognize themselves in your writing? Why?
Fun isn’t it.
Come prepared to discuss these and other things that pop up at our next meeting, May 3rd at 6:30 PM. Bring a few paragraphs to read, more if you can and there’s time, and be prepared to listen to other authors give you suggestions, critique, and, most of all, help.
Keep on writing!
See you there,


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Learning is Part of Writing

Learning about your craft is always important. Writers are craftsmen as are mechanics, carpenters, and anyone working with their hands and minds to create things. All writers create with style, like a signature and we all use tools. As Ed Ellis presented a workshop on using models last Wednesday evening, I couldn’t help but think, “Dang, I hadn’t thought of that before.” His presentation was filled with tips, tricks, and methods of organizing thoughts. As with any tool, it doesn’t work in the same way for all of us. But, with a little modification, a form of the tool can help most of us in one way or another.

Non-Fiction writers probably benefit the most using Ed’s methods but Fiction writers can make use of the principles shown in the presentation. Outlines, charts, graphs, and timelines are all part of the model group and all are useful in some form. I can’t say I know any with the thinking power of Albert Einstein, but I know many who can use his methods.

Thank you Ed, your presentation was informative and helpful in many ways.

I want to thank all those writers from other groups who attended the meeting. I hope you enjoyed your visit and found it informative. You are always welcome to come back. Our next meeting is April 19th, and we will be discussing character development. Bring your ideas, an open mind, and be prepared to learn something, even if it’s something you already knew but have simply forgotten.

Andrew Parker will be the first scheduled reader after the discussion but we should have time for a good number of readers. Come early and get you name on the list.

Write often and well,


Monday, March 20, 2017

April 5th

Ed Ellis will make a presentation at our next meeting.

The presentation is entitled:


Meeting Date: April 5th, 2017
Location: Nokomis Fire Station Training Room, (rear of building) Parking available behind fire station
Time: Doors open at 6 PM, presentation will be at 6:30 PM
Everyone is invited, if you have special need, such as limited driving at night, please let Ed know and suitable arrangements will be made.

We hope to see you there.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

March 15th Meeting

Our meeting began with a report from Florida Writers Association. Several workshops are available and well worth the nominal membership fees and event charges. We urge all writers to consider joining the FWA.
Our discussion began with a look at websites and design. Many of our members have websites and maintain them, most on a less-than-daily basis; once a month is more common. Several expressed financial reasons for not hiring a professional but others say the simply want more control and feel they can "do it themselves" while keeping it simple. 
The discussion morphed in blogging and continued its transformation as we moved on to reasons for writing. Although all seemed to be interested in having their work read, it was not always for commercial reasons. Most of us seem to write for pleasure and to put forth ideas in whatever genre we've chosen. Few, if any, expressed a desire to become rich and famous from our craft but all wished to share our work with others. 
This was an interesting, if not enlightening, discussion and was well worth the time.
Russ Heitz, one of the founders of the group, joined us this evening, it’s been a while and we always enjoy his visits. I hope we’re holding up our end.

We took an early break around 7:30 and reconvened at 7:45 for readings. In Ian Schagen’s work presented for our consideration, we heard of a Flying Mermaid. This remarkable creature was based on a statue at the foot of the Pyrenees mountain range in Spain created to honor those men and women who aided refugees fleeing the persecution of the Nazis during WWII.
In that vein, Darienne Oaks offered an edited version of a previous chapter wherein a young Jewish boy is separated from his family while fleeing the Nazis and finding refuge in a Romanian Village where he plays a violin his father made for the village, including the commandant of the German garrison and his wife.
Hearing two poems written by the son of Peter Frickel, one of our regular contributors, was refreshing and proved the talent stays in the family.
Joe Giorgianni brought us a piece called The Other Side, here a man who lost his beloved wife is given a dog to help fill the void. As years pass they develop a bond that lasts until he is once again able to join his true love. Touching, it drew comments and suggestions from the audience aimed at making it even more powerful.
 Bill Elam gave us a fresh chapter and viewpoint of an emotional experience. The officer charged with delivering the news a man’s wife was the victim of a murder has a connection with the victim but must do his duty. Powerful and well written, this piece gives an outlook not normally seen in print or visual media.
Jim Kelly read two of his poems. Charley Horse had the group in stiches with its imagery and humor while Time presented a though provoking look at life. Jim’s work is always met with a desire to hear more.
The final chapter of Don Westerfield’s It’s Only Business gave us the conclusion to a fascinating look at life surrounding the finest brothel in early 20th century San Francisco.

It was a great meeting but not all members had a chance to read. Next meeting is April 5th and we will hear first from those who did not read this time. I’m looking forward to seeing all of you at that meeting. I’m looking for subject(s) to research and discuss at that meeting. Please email me your suggestions and I will do my best to get a discussion ready. No matter how mundane it may seem, we always learn something with the talent represented by our group.

Hang in there,
Keep on writing!


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Wednesday, 15 March, 2017

Tonight I thought we might discuss web site design and how to use it to our best advantage.
How many of us have a website?
Which company did you use to design it?
From whom did you acquire the domain name?
Does it link to social media? Is that necessary?
Has it helped you achieve some recognition?
These are but a few questions we should answer. I do have another however, how do you handle all the calls soliciting design business even after you've chosen a designer?

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Wednesday, March 1 2017

As I came to the meeting, I'd drawn a blank coming up with a subject for our discussion.  As the meet and greet portion of the night was winding up, five minutes before calling the meeting to order, Bruce Haedrich approached me with a question. "What are we discussing tonight?"
I looked square in his eye and said, "I have no idea. I've been trying to come up with something but come up blank. Nobody's suggested a subject either."
He shrugged and said, "Too bad. I think I'm going to read a piece from one of my Dan Marin mysteries."
As we talked, Bruce said, "All my mystery stories are in the first person."
An epiphany, my brain slammed into gear and we had a discussion for the evening. As usual, when I broached the subject, it took on a life of its own. Numerous facets of writing in Past, Present, and Future tenses, First Person, Third Person, Narrative, or Point of View came into play and, the subject turned to dialog and how to employ it, even in the first person, to express a thought in the proper tense.
As the discussion wound down, we concluded, if you are going to break from the conventional style of writing, do it well and know what you are doing. Nothing turns a reader off faster than poor writing.

Moving into the reading portion of the evening, we heard from six of our members and enjoyed each offering. All readers were met with valuable comments and suggestions. 

A story of a Fighter Pilot engaged in a dogfight with a worthy enemy left us on the edge of our seats as, instead of concentrating on killing the enemy pilot, the victorious pilot was content to kill only the machine.

Next, the theme of mercy continued with the story of a fisherman doing battle with a huge fish. After a long and arduous struggle, the fisherman reigned victorious. But, in honor of his worthy adversary's valiant struggle, did the angler release his catch and make sure the huge sea creature was sufficiently recovered to return to his home in the deep or, did he feed an entire village with the catch?

Once again, we heard an installment in the saga of the Landis House, a luxurious house of ill repute in San Francisco following the great earthquake of 1906. We eagerly await the story's conclusion at the next meeting.

Lois Stern, creator of Tales2Inspire, brought some book cover blurbs seeking the group's opinion on the content. Such blurbs and elevator pitches are tough to write; too few words and too little time.

As the final reader, Linda read from her memoir, she's using an interesting twist. The membership made numerous suggestions and offered suggestions to streamline the piece. We can't wait for the next installment.

During the readings, Ed Ellis presented his article on dialog, or dialogue if you please. The following is a copy of that article.


The Four Horsemen of Dialogue by Edwin R. Ellis
As a writer you have an obligation to the reader to study and deploy the techniques and skill of dialogue. This means as writers we need to pay special attention to this subject. It’s a structural backbone of fictional stories.
Most of the writers of our generation either have forgotten, never learned, or don’t know about the four Horsemen of dialogue (David Kantor’s Four Player System). Each horse leaves a mark when designed into dialogue. Why? In the readers mind, they know intuitively about the Horsemen, simply because they (the reader) is alive and human. We all should realize that each sentence we write is designed to communicate ideas, ideas from our heads via ink on paper and into the mind of the reader.
So what are these Horsemen and what do they do?
Horsemen #1 rides a horse named “Mover.” Moving an idea into action.
Horsemen #2 rides high in the saddle of “Opposer.” They stuff anyone’s and everyone’s ideas into a sealed wooden barrel and then walk away to see what happens?
Horsemen #3 is bareback upon the stallion “Follower.” They follow an idea as if they were sheep. They join other’s ideas without question.
Horsemen #4 rides a pony named “Bystander.” as the word implies, they stand to the side of the idea and simply observe what is taking place.
Let’s provide a simple example:
Pretend for a moment you are on a double date cruising down the boulevard being cool with another couple in the backseat of your 1957 Ford convertible. You have one hand firmly gripped upon the steering wheel, the other on your date’s leg. “Let’s head down to the Regal Cinema and watch the Rising Sun starring Clark Gable.” This character has assumed the role of the first horsemen ridding atop the horse called “Mover.”
The gentlemen from the backseat; “no way, last time we went to the Regal we got kicked out because Sam caused a problem.” This character assumed the role of the opposer throwing up roadblocks.
The gorgeous blonde in the front seat; “I really don’t care where we go, I’m along because I’m with Ed.” This character is in bed with horsemen number three, and might end up between a rock and a hard space.
The stunning brunette in the backseat; “I wish I had a tape recorder to record the three of you. You make me sick with all the syrup in the front seat. You three are something else. It was an experience just sitting here listening.” This last character has assumed the role of a bystander.
Okay, now that we have this in our minds, how can we use this valuable information as we write? If you are creating your work in a word processor, simply choose a color for each horsemen and highlight that portion in your dialogue. Who knows, you may create red, white, and blue sentences.
Here are the principles behind Kantor’s Four Player System.
“Without movers, there is no direction.”
“Without followers, there is no completion.”
“Without opposers, there is no correction”
“Without bystanders, there is no perspective”
There may be some questions brewing in the back of your minds.
Can a single character assume the roles of each horsemen or a portion of each horsemen in the same dialogue frame? Absolutely yes.
Does each character need to be attached to one or more horsemen? Absolutely yes.
Each time you focus on the power and strength of the horsemen, your character or characters will start to leave their world of flat. It’s like connecting an air hose from a hand tire pump to round out your characters.
We all know the four Horsemen from the moment we started communicating via speech. The complete stable forms from our own personal experiences. We have witnessed all of them over the years.
The difficulty is; this is so hardwired in our brains we except the behavior without thought or question. Think about this for a moment. I’m a character. I’ve stood here in a one-way dialogue frame using all four Horsemen, capturing what I believe is the immense power of the human mind to communicate clearly.
Before concluding there is one more example: this is a test. Get out your pencil and paper. After reading my concluding sentence, see if you can determine what horse or horses are at play.
“I’m the reason the beer is always gone.”

Hang in there; keep on writing,
See you on the 15th, 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Good Stuff from Lesley Payne

The following was given to me by Darienne Oaks. It was written by Lesley Payne and contains wonderful advice for writers:

Chapters have beginnings, middles, and ends. The kicker is that it is good to end a chapter at a point of tension, with a hook, that pulls the reader forward. The beginning of the next chapter may be the resolution of something left hanging at the end of the last, proceeds through to near resolution, or to resolution with a new question raised, leaving again, a trigger that pushes the reader forward.

If you tie everything together at the end of a chapter, it leaves the reader a very handy excuse to set the book aside for a while, or forever. Compelling writing keeps the reader going. It makes a book the reader "can't put down." It makes for success. Try ending a chapter mid-scene, at a moment of crisis, with a question. However you do it, hook the reader to keep on reading.

This is, of course, most important in genres that rely the most heavily on suspense and tension, books that readers read to be held at the edge of their chairs–thrillers, action adventure, suspense. But even in romances, if you end a chapter with a strong feeling or image, a hope, a fear, a question, you can create the forward tug. Not every chapter has to end with a life-threatening cliff hanger, but strive for some sort of cliff hanger in the reader's mind–curiosity, hope, anticipation, fear.

While the specific ingredients–the pacing, the depth, the degree of emphasis on "suspense"–vary from genre to genre, the writer always aims to keep the reader hooked and reading. Look at books that have been successful in your genre and see how the chapter are structured, how hooks, or imminent danger, or just unanswered questions in the reader's mind, pull the reader onward. Ask yourself why you keep turning the pages. Or, if the book fails for you, why is it easy to stop turning, to set the book aside. Look to other successful writers for you cues here.

Create a question in the reader's mind. Don't volunteer information the reader is not curious about. Don't leave the reader feeling everything is resolved or concluded at chapter's end. Maintain tension and narrative drive. Allow the reader to participate by exercising her or his curiosity, analysis, feelings of anxiety, concern, terror, or poignancy.

Keep on writing...


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

Fifteen writers gathered tonight at the Nokomis Fire House. That many writers in one room is bound to lead to an explosion of ideas and imagination. 
Broaching a subject, I’d been requested to bring before the group, led to an eruption of ideas, few of which found total agreement.
The first questions were simple: Do you use outlines? Are they good or bad? What other tools do you use?
After nearly thirty minutes of orderly and polite discussion the consensus of our group formed. Our non-fiction writers confess they use outlines and tend to adhere to them with firm tenacity. Our fiction writers seemed to find the use of outlines somewhat cumbersome. Although at least one did admit to using a modified form of outline. Employing a predetermined order in which he introduces his characters and their interaction throughout the book, he guides his stories to completion in an orderly fashion. All the writers agree outlines are useful in some cases but most of our fiction writers consider themselves “Pantser’s; they write by the seat of their pants.” It's agreed, characters drive the story and sometimes, even the author is surprised by the outcome.
When asked; “How long does it take to develop an idea and produce at least one page of manuscript,” eyes rolled and tension flooded the room. It was as if I could hear the group thinking, “Are you nuts?” However, as writers tend to do, our group rose to the challenge. Estimates ranged from years to minutes. When we narrowed it down to actual time producing the first page of manuscript after developing an idea, the range shrunk; it now was months to hours. While each of us would like to produce at least one page each day, we often struggle. But, sometimes during moments of enlightenment, when the Muse touches us, words spill onto the paper with a rush. The conclusion of the group; there is no time frame and, unless you’re on a deadline, it really doesn’t matter so long as what you produce is satisfying.
The final question addressed was as oblique as the previous ones: How long should your chapters be? We don’t make rules and even if there is a rule, it will probably be broken. In the case of fiction writers, long flowing chapters may describe pleasing experiences while action sequences might be better served using short, to the point, chapters promoting a sense of urgency and heightening tension. Breaks within a chapter often allow the writer to change point of view or give the reader a break from high tension situations. Our non-fiction writers professed the chapter length must fit the subject while sub-chapters and headings are often necessary to guide the reader. Notes and footnotes enter the equation especially when the text is designed to educate. However, not all non-fiction is geared toward education, some true stories are written to entertain and inform. In these cases, the writer may use a less stringent approach and emulate fiction writers in the presentation with the intention of preserving an air of mystery or excitement.
The discussion filled the first hour of the meeting and we spent the next ninety minutes listening to and discussing the merits of seven great pieces read by our authors. Even with only five minutes to read, our members give us great samples of their stories. We traced the path of a Dutch solider escaping the Nazi troops on his way to England where he can continue to fight. We entered the world of Black Pearls guided by the woman who became the Queen of Black Pearls. We heard a piece warning us not to be totally against things lest it force us into sacrificing that which we cherish. The transition to a story of a young man who inherited a brothel in early 20th century San Francisco drew speculation as to how the research for this piece was accomplished. Next, we met a man with two hearts, one to pump blood through his network of arteries and veins, the second, installed by a Witch Doctor in South Africa, allowed him love again. Finally, a story geared toward youthful readers introduced us to a young Jewish boy fleeing the Nazi’s in Eastern Europe. He is separated from his family and carries only sparse supplies and a violin his father made. Where will these stories go?
I encourage readers as well as writers to follow us. What do you like to read? It really doesn’t matter. Thanks for reading.

Here are a few links of interest;

A writer's conference, SLUETHFEST in Boca Raton

Here are two mind mapping apps. Doug Sahlin says he's used both and they're user friendly and intutive.

See you soon;

Monday, February 06, 2017



Reading Fest and Book Fair are coming in March.

Fort Myers is having a Reading Fest on March 18th, see for more information.

The Venice Book Fair is on March 24th and 25th, see for more information.

Published Authors, this is your chance to sell your work in an environment where attendees are ready to buy books.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Tales2inspire Writing Contest

From our own Lois Stern:

Have an inspiring story just begging to be told? If so, jump on the bandwagon and enter it in Tales2Inspire®, a well respected contest, but much, much more. FREE to enter. Then Tales2Inspire works hard to promote its winners. So if you want help in building your author platform, this is a great opportunity. 
Deadline Date: March 1, 2017. JUST EXTENDED TO MARCH 31st - There's still time!!!!

What should you write about? A picture is worth 1000 words, so get a FREE e-book sampler of winning stories from previous years at: Then scroll down the page for submission details, guidelines and “What’s In It For You” rewards..

         Lois W. Stern
Creator of Tales2Inspire 'Authors Helping Authors’ Project/Contest

         Lois W. Stern
Creator of Tales2Inspire 'Authors Helping Authors’ Project/Contest

CLICK to get the NEW Tales2Inspire E-book
                  6 Inspiring Stories - FREE 

  Your reviews are most appreciated.
             Lois’ links:

Get Your Free E-book
Inspiring Stories Sampler 

Inspiring Stories blog:
Facebook profile:
Facebook fan page:
Tales2Inspire YouTube Channel:

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Punta Gorda Literary Fair

*** Attention ***

This information was furnished by Mr. James Abraham.

Those of you who are interested, please call the number on the flyer. Bring any information you wish to share to the next meeting, Wednesday, February 1st.

Saturday, January 21, 2017


January 18, 2017

Our meeting was a good one. We opened with a discussion about grammar. When is good grammar needed, when can it be corrupted, and when do we simply throw the rules out the window?

Oh Boy, did that ever open the proverbial can of worms and was fun. Hard-core grammar aficionados insist the proper use of English be employed always; those who tend to write for more commercial reasons often adhere to the premise grammar can be corrupted for a less rigid style making it more appealing to less discerning readers.

Fiction Writers tended to fall into the latter group and even went as far as supporting the idea grammar could be dispensed with when writing dialog. While, Essayist, Non-Fiction Authors, and Report Writers were more supportive of using proper grammar. Concessions were made by both school and even the hard core “grammarians admitted there are times when circumstances allow some deviation from the rules.

No hard and fast methods were agreed upon but, the general consensus was, let the author do as he or she sees fit and the readers will make the decision to read or not to read, all the while remembering not to stray too far from the accepted norm of grammar’s influence.

Oh, by the way, our Poets looked at the whole thing as an exercise worth noting but said,

Matters not if you get it right
We will not change the world tonight
But if we study hard and are not Cheaters
We will soon find the proper meters

As our discussion closed we were privileged to hear some fine examples of work from our members. Each of the pieces drew comments and ideas from the listeners. As always, the comments were valuable and aimed toward helping the author better the work.

I look forward to seeing you at our next meeting, Wednesday, Feb 1st, 2017 in the Nokomis Fire House training room.

Our topic for discussion will be; DO OUR FEELINGS GUIDE WHAT WE WRITE? This comes to us inspired by an article in the WALL STREET JOURNAL published on Dec. 3rd and 4th by Robert M. Sapolski, entitled Laughter Is the Best Medicine to Gauge Social Ties; suggested by Ernie Ovitz.

It sounds like fun to me.
Write till it hurts;

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Next Meeting

Wednesday, January 18th, our meeting begins at 6:30 PM at the Nokomis Firehouse training room, end of the building away from US 41 - and please park in parking areas - do not block firehouse doors. We are looking forward to your attendance.

This week we will have a discussion on grammar, proper usage and exceptions. Does it really matter when writing a fictional piece containing dialog? This is an open forum and if you are an expert please fell free to come prepared to instruct.

We will also have as many readings as time will allow. Let's try to limit the length to approx 5 minutes of reading time and we will have a discussion and or critique session after each reading. We do not limit the time on discussions if constructive and relevant.

See you there;

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A New Year

Welcome to 2017.

Our group has undergone some changes over the past year. George Mindling chose to step down as a leader and we miss him but Ernie Ovitz has filled his shoes and is doing a great job. 

Rod DiGruttolo, has continued as a facilitator.

Over the next few weeks we'll make an effort to post events and meeting highlights. I invite members to provide articles and notices so we can keep up-to-date with the happenings in our little writing world.


Friday, November 18, 2016

2016 - 2017 Season

Hello Everyone! The Sarasota Writers Group blog will shortly have a new admin! After several years of enjoyable posting and blogging, I'm handing the reins of this great page back to the group. Hopefully I've been able to keep Susan Haley's original blog informative and entertaining. It has been fun, a really great group of writers!

Please bear with us! We hope everyone had a great summer! See you at the Writers Group!