Schedule and Location

WE'RE BACK! We are returning to our pre-Covid Schedule. We will meet the first and third Wednesday of each month at the Nokomis Fire Station. If you have received your COVID vaccination, welcome, if not, PLEASE WEAR A PROPER MASK. *THANK YOU* Coming from Sarasota or North, proceed a few blocks south of Albee Road on US 41 (past Matthews-Currie Ford) to Pavonia Road. Turn right (West, toward the bay) at the Fire Station's flashing yellow caution traffic light. If you are coming from the south on US 41, we are 2 blocks north of Dona Bay. Turn left onto Pavonia Road at the flashing yellow caution light. At the Fire Station, drive to the far end, or west side, of the firehall. Please do not block the fire doors! We meet in the training room at the far end of the complex. We Gather for a meet and greet at 6:00 pm Meeting called to order: 6:30 pm Ten-minute break: 7:50 pm Meeting Adjourns: 9:00 pm

Friday, January 07, 2022

January 5th, 2022

The first meeting of the new year is always exciting. Of the seventeen attendees, only three did not choose to share some of their work with us. We did not prepare for writing issues discussions this month, so we went right into the reading portion of our evening.

We welcomed a first-time attendee John Hearon to the meeting. I hope John enjoyed our group and comes back regularly. We use a sign-in sheet to remember who attended our meetings. I have a hard enough time remembering where I’m supposed to be, let alone who was there with me. I usually call on those who wish to read in the order they’ve signed in. Come early, read early. We ask if you read, be courteous enough to remain throughout the meeting, and listen to your fellow readers. They listened to you. Also, participate in the discussion following the readings, even if it’s a simple comment of appreciation. Be honest and tactful in giving critique.

Our first reader of the evening was Peter Frickel. As usual, Peter’s offerings were poignant, evoking emotion with each word. Differences brought to mind the soft, caring hands of a mother compared to the firm guiding hands of a father as they maneuvered a young boy along the path to manhood. The Space Between Loving shows us those moments, days, weeks, months, even years after a love is gone for any reason. Memories, regrets, and wishes guide us forward as we move on. Struggles, are they worth it? Man On the African Plain shows us a conversation, a realization, and a departure. The joy of a fellow traveler, the pain of realizing the future is less satisfying than the past, and moving on into an uncertain future shows us the circle of life. As always, well done, Peter.

When Ian Schagen stepped up to read his newest sci-fi adventure, Armontiriath, he began with a summary of previous events leading up to the portion he would read this evening. Space travel, a mutiny, factions with opposing political and civilization views have created a civil war before attempting to settle on a newly discovered planet beyond our galaxy. A haunting dream of a captivating woman torment the captain and leads him to come upon a new civilization. Yes, I want to hear more. I guess I’ll wait until the book is out.

Our new attendee, John Hearon, is also a sci-fi writer, a futurist looking at a dystopian scenario in his book, The Lighting Clock. His opening chapter entitled, Lighting Always Strikes Twice in the Same Place, tells the story of a young female in transport to prison, convicted of murder. Justice does not exist in the future country of “USA Amcourt,” a corporation country. In John’s story, a single phrase evoked comment, “not my clowns, not my circus,” when spoken by the prisoner about a group of children in the company sent to the prison as slave labor elicited a dislike for the protagonist among several members of the group. Will she remain a despicable character? We look forward to the rewrite as John promises to come back at the next meeting.

Back from his Holiday Cruise, Don Westerfield brought us a couple of poems, Night Walker, a new offering, and Walk Away, written a few years ago. In Night Walker, a man of advanced age approaches the water’s edge, thinking he will walk on into oblivion. Will he or won’t he? Read the poem to find out. Walk Away lets us delve into the mind of a man at a reunion. There, he espies one whom he thinks was a former love. Does he approach? Does he “walk away?” Don, we all love your poetry.

Ed Ellis has been working on a non-fiction book for several years. In the meantime, he’s produced many witty, often humorous stories to share with us. Tonight he asks us to read, critique, and return a portion of his nearly ready work. Appendix 102 – Creative Questioning teaches how to form and ask questions capable of moving us forward in our life, business, or even our writing. It is complete with Tables and Figures to guide us along. Congratulations, Ed, it’s going well.

Attending for the second time, Cat Christensen shared a unique use of Haiku with us. An artist produced a series of paintings to which Cat applied her talent. It was a fantastic display. The poetry is in tune with the images. A lump forms in my throat as I read the words describing the scene. Great job, Cat, and kudos to the artist.

Tiny Poems About an Ordinary Life, that’s how Abby Karish entitles her work. Short and directed toward the common occurrences of everyday life, her lively words give insight into those thoughts we all have but tend to ignore. Everybody’s life has its exciting moments, but daily life is priceless.

Have you ever had a moment in your life you can’t explain to others without thinking they will call you crazy? The Phone Call by Bruce Haedrich might qualify for him. Dialing his daughter’s number, Bruce hears the phone ringing on the other end. But, the voice answering is not that of his daughter. It is his older brother. They have a two-minute and eighteen-second call, interrupted by static that disconnects them. With unanswered questions still in his mind, Bruce cannot fathom the substance of the call. You see, his brother has been dead for a year and a half.

Toby and the High Roller by Richard Cope brings a light-hearted bent to the evening. It seems Toby gets mistakenly packed in a U-Haul and transported to Las Vegas from his home in Bean County, Tennessee. All is not lost as Toby befriends a High Roller in Vegas who turns him into a national hero by proclaiming him to be a super good luck charm. Yes, Toby finally returns home, welcomed by a Senator and the whole county.

Have you ever experienced Puppy Love? Well, a lonesome old man in Linda Grischy’s story did. It seems he found a puppy on the street by his house. The puppy rushed inside and ravenously ate the leftovers the man gave him. It was love at first sight, but the puppy ran away only to return the next day. Friends tried to tell the man, “the dog belongs to another,” but the man persisted in claiming the puppy was his. After following the puppy one day and finding out, the little dog visited another old man down the street to get fed as well; his persistence remained. The puppy didn’t show up for a few days. The man asked the other man if he’d seen the puppy. “Yes,” the old man replied, “she comes for her steak every day.” That afternoon, the man cut up his best tenderloin to feed his little friend.

Having read an article in a newspaper asking, How much is Poetry Worth? Or something like that. Ernie Ovitz shared it with us. Our group values the poets who share their work with us. This article agreed, poetry is timeless and a valuable part of our lives.

Rod DiGruttolo shared a bit of a travelog. His experiences of getting underway on a driving vacation during rush hour made for a bit of humor to end the meeting.

Well, that’s about all for this time. If you don’t have time to write, READ! But do your best to KEEP ON WRITING. See you next meeting.


Monday, December 20, 2021

December 15th, 2021

It's that time of year once again. Colored lights adorn houses, pine trees are affixed to the car roofs, little kids are drooling over the contents of toy departments. Our Jewish friends have completed the Hanukkah celebrations, while our Christian friends look forward to Christmas. The Holiday season is in full swing. Be Hanukkah, Christmas, Quanza, or any other holiday. We wish you the best.

Our little group met at the firehouse as usual for an annual holiday gathering. Goodies of all sorts arrived with the members. Cookies, Candy, Sweetbreads, and Casseroles filled the table. As per our usual Holiday Custom, we took up a collection for the Fire Department as they allow us to use the meeting room at no charge. This year we $255 and turned it over to the LT on duty. It will find its way to the Chief and Board.

Our little band of writers could not eat all the goodies. As usual, the remaining food was left for the firefighters to feast on for the rest of their shift. Thank You, Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department! 

Even with our mouths stuffed with delectables, we managed to work in some readings. Rod DiGruttolo started by reading a piece he'd received in an email. Entitled Christmas 1942, he felt it was appropriate for the occasion. A fifteen-year-old boy discovers the meaning of Christmas when his father takes him to help a neighboring widow with small children.

When Ernie Ovitz took the floor, he read a piece from his new collection recalling a Christmas Past upon which he and Linda found Bones Under the Tree. It seems a lovable canine was in the Christmas spirit as he deposited his most prized possessions under the tree time and time again.

Visiting the group for the first time this year, Ian Schagen brought one of his out-worldly stories to share. When the FSM (Flying Spaghetti Monster) called an emergency meeting in the Grand Hall, all the Super Heros and deities were shocked to hear how, within a few moments, they could all be deemed irrelevant. Upon hearing a report presented as a law-giving document by an earthly Cleric, despair and melancholy descended upon the group. The FSM ordered a word-by-word review of the paper. As the deadline for a decision approached, The least of the clan's heroes, The Tooth Fairy, found a flaw in the reasoning behind the Cleric's hypothesis. Valhalla was saved.

Undercover Angel is Tish Mcauley's working title for a fictionalized story based on her life as an Empath, recovering alcoholic, and drug addict. In this chapter, realization dawns on Angel as to what a gift she was born with. Is it a gift or a curse? Dealing with an abusive husband who turns their daughter against her, Angel finds herself living a life of pain and suffering, not her own. Even the anguish of insects intrudes on Angel's mind as she lives in a termite-infested house.

A piece of advice comes to us from Dennis Cathcart. Dennis enjoys delicacies as Tuna Heads, Roasted Parrot, and an exceptionally tasteful dish, eating with the local population in the Philippine Island Chain. Upon finishing the meal, Dennis inquires about the tasty course. When advised, the plate included Goat Lungs. He realized he'd violated his rule, "IF YOU LIKE IT, DON'T ASK WHAT'S IN IT."

Taken back in time to the late 1800s in Fort Laramie, Wyoming, James Kelly tells of a Calvery Officer preparing to go on patrol in the Indian Territory of Wyoming and the Dakota's. His son prepares to travel east for training and schooling at West Point. Young children and wives of the departing Calvery troop say their goodbyes with the unspoken fear of never seeing their loved ones again.

Have you ever heard of Bean County, Tennessee? Probably not; it's a fictional county from the mind of Richard Cope. A hound named Toby is the star of Toby and the Christmas Pagent from Richard this week. It seems the hound was not always welcomed at social gatherings in Bean County. But, due to the season, an attitude of forbearance was exercised. It was a fortuitous event that Santa arrived at the Baptist Church riding on the county's fire truck. It seems, being a rural community, Bean County used live animals in their Manger Scene awaiting the arrival of Baby Jesus. Well, lighted candles, a wailing siren, and a bolting hound dog led to a conflagration requiring the full use of the fire truck. In the end, Toby helped round up the livestock and watched over the Baby Jesus.

The Circus is Coming to Town is a product of Susan Haley's fervent mind. An avid environmentalist, Susan wrote about the encroachment of urbanization on the wildlife in a peaceful meadow. "Run, hide, find a new home," the animals cry as the rumble of machines and people come closer. Susan says, "this wrote itself." Words kept coming as she could see the world through the eyes of those unable to protect themselves from the encroaching thunder of so-called progress.

Closing the show this meeting was Peter Frickel. Africa is Peter's homeland. Its vastness and beauty guide Peter in much of his writing. The shadow of memory creates hunger. A writer must write just as they eat or drink to sate that hunger. They must taste the beauty and partake of the world's mysteries to create a story. 


From all of us in the group,

 HAVE A HAPPY AND SAFE HOLIDAY SEASON.

and 

No matter what else, please, KEEP ON WRITING.

Friday, December 03, 2021

December 1st, 2021

We began our meeting with a question, “What are you currently doing?” I asked each attendee. The attendance was small; it usually is in December. There were only nine of us there, but we had 100 percent participation. Dennis has completed a manuscript; it is in the hands of his editor being formatted for publication. Ed is nearing the completion of a nearly ten-year project which hasn’t deterred him from producing many fascinating works in the meantime. Anne’s project is underway, and she’s scheduling interviews to begin after January 1st. Don says he hasn’t done too much lately. He and his lovely wife are departing on a cruise; he’ll get back to work when he returns. Richard turned over some of his stories to be read on a podcast. He’s received great feedback and a request for more. Tish is engaged in a mid-stream change; she is reworking the mode in which she writes her story. Ernie works daily on the daunting task of editing, rewriting, and preparing his historical novel. He has the herculean task of completing a trilogy about the life and times of the Roman Emperor Constantine. Bruce says he’s tackled the most challenging writing job of his career. He’s beginning to pen his memoir. Rod is engaged in searching for another beginning in the ever-growing list of future works on his computer.

 The discussion was enlightening, gearing us up for the reading session.

***

 

Leading off the reading was Ernie Ovitz. A speech, written for an occasion this time last year, was as relevant as when it was written. The state-of-readiness of our Military and Businesses to meet global challenges is not as capable as it should be. It is reminiscent of the capabilities experienced by our country on December 7th, 1941. Are we ready to confront China? Who makes the largest percentage of the products used in this county? Is our economy stable? The answers may be a bit frightening.

 

Writing a memoir is tough, especially when the memories aren’t the best. Tish McAuley has been doing that for over a year now. She’s had to face some harsh truths. Her journey has been cathartic, but now she’s ready to face the past. She’s changing her story from a memoir to a novel. Based on her life and the trauma she’s faced in it, the story may help others face similar obstacles in theirs. Good work, Tish.

 

Bruce Haedrich offered us the opening passages of his memoir entitled Goodnight Searchlight. As a youngster of six, he could look out his bedroom window and see the beacon of a nearby airfield. His desire to become a pilot was fostered in that action. Now, nearly seventy years later, after a successful career as a military and airline pilot, he looks back and tells his story. Great beginning.

 

A chance meeting with a retired Major League pitcher battling issues with retiring.  No longer being in the spotlight of fame, he is depressed. His dilemma sparked Don Westerfield to take action. Now, Don writes his story The Day I Think I Made A Difference. A chance meeting at an airport proves pivotal for the retiree as Don remembers him and strikes up a conversation where he reinforces the man’s feeling of importance. He made a difference. Don, you make a difference in all your fellow writers’ lives.

 

Two poems by Richard Cope were both inspiring and heartfelt. With the reading of Scott County, I was choked with emotion as Richard tells of a Christmas funeral for a relative. With the final words, “as I laid my Bonny to rest,” we know the feeling of a loved one lost. In Recycled, a simple Raggedy Ann doll serves to remind us we don’t need technology to bring happiness to the world.

 

Rod DiGruttolo read Pappy and the Bandleader to close out the evening. The story tells of a young Rod, who meets his grandfather’s musical hero and sets up a meeting. The bandleader invited Pappy to join in a jam session alongside several other band members. Pappy’s memory lasted him for the rest of his life.

 

Well, it was the end of the night, a good meeting with lots of insight into what we are doing and some excellent readings.

OUR NEXT MEETING IS ON DECEMBER 15TH, IT WILL BE OUR ANNUAL CHRISTMAS MEETING. BRING A GOODIE TO SHARE AND ENJOY. 

But most of all; KEEP ON WRITING!

 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

November 17th, 2021

 

It was a beautiful evening for a meeting. We met at the firehouse, where the hot temperatures of summer gave way to the cool evenings of our Florida fall. Thirteen of us were there. A brief discussion about how to handle numbers in our writing opened the meeting. We moved on to the reading portion of the meeting as we had ten members wishing to present samples of our work tonight.

The Chicago Manual of Style (the writer’s bible) says numbers in a document are written in text (a, b, c, etc.) to spell out numbers under 100. Over 100, use numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.). As with any rule, it can be broken if needed. As I’ve stated, at least fifteen thousand two hundred and eleven times, all rules can be broken when writing. It doesn’t hurt anybody (at least not physically).

 

Arriving early and signing in upon arrival has its advantages. That is how I call upon the readers. First here is first to read, unless there’s a hold-over from the previous meeting. Tish was first to sign in, but she was not prepared to read this week. Cindi Buchannan was next on the list. A poet, Cindi writes from her heart. She presented three examples of her work this evening. I don’t think they were titled, but the emotion was enough to give them titles. 1. In leaving, a man walks away, ignoring the woman. She thinks, Is that all I’m worth to him? 2. A rainy day, depressing but beautiful in its own way. 3. A break-up in July, the weather replaces the heat of love’s passion. – Keep writing, Cindi. Your work shows your heart.

 

We never know what to expect when Ed Ellis reads, but tonight was an even bigger surprise. He claims to have told her, “We are going to be together for eternity, so I don’t want to do anything in this life to piss you off.” Guts Ed, guts!

 

Ernie Ovitz is a family man, and he relates a speech he once gave at a Toastmaster’s s meeting. He read from his newest book submitted for publication by Amazon, Reflections. Always the ambassador of peace, he understands, If Mama Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy, good luck, Ernie.

 

Admitting his latest project is the most challenging piece of writing he’s ever undertaken, Bruce Haedrich starts writing his memoir. From an early age, a pilot bemoans the old days when pilots were in control of the aircraft. He calls today’s so-called pilots “Airmen.” Bruce asks the group, “How technical can I be?” Of twelve answers, there were eleven opinions. Sort that out, Bruce.

 

Life Unbuffered was the title of Dennis Cathcart’s newsletter article. While employed, others made everyday decisions and handled complex issues. Life was buffered. Once he became self-employed, the buffer between him and the natural world was gone. Yes, he could do the things he liked without asking permission, but the parts he didn’t like fell to him. It was always a balancing act between the two. Ain’t retirement fun, Dennis?

 

A traveler, poet, and writer of novels, Peter Frickel, presented a dialog piece between a mother and daughter, with a final insertion of a visiting boyfriend in conversation with the daughter. Humor and simplicity abound in Bikini. Words flow naturally, filled with sarcasm and innuendo as the characters speak to each other. Two other short pieces were also insightful. The Changing Garden describes the tribulation of his garden in a dry spring. A few words of wisdom carry a life-changing message.

 

Poets are always welcome, and Don Westerfield is among the best we hear. Your Voyage follows a life filled with hope, sorrow, happiness, and strife. The message is clear and spot-on. The American Fighting Man left several in the audience with moist eyes as Don read of the conflicts and how soldiers died for our right to be free from Valley Forge to Afghanistan. Thank you for your service, Don.

 

An ode to a grandmother was Susan Haley’s offering as she read Cleland. Spending many hours in her Grandmother’s care, Susan recalls the tenderness and loving guidance given her. A grandmother’s love cannot be discounted. Thank you, Susan.

 

Peace of π (Pi) is the title of a mystery novel Ed Demarco is working on. A man dies mysteriously on a flight to Atlanta. In chapter 2, his daughter and her abusive drug-addicted husband prepare for her father’s funeral. Oh, how the reader might want to throttle the miserable husband. Without saying so, Ed has made the man seem despicable. Good job!

 

Our final reading was a pair of poems by Richard Cope. Walking to Jerusalem took us into the mind of a traveler through life. The Buttermilk Colt tells of a desperate man and his horse as they turn from the law.

 

It was 8:45 PM when we closed the meeting. I hope all had an enjoyable evening. I was handed two pieces of work to look over. I hope to have them finished by the next meeting. Please be patient. Until December 1st, KEEP ON WRITING!