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

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

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.