Schedule and Location

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

Saturday, September 09, 2017

FWA e-News

Join the Sarasota Writer's Group Today

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

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

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

Executive Vice President 
Vice President of
Administration & Membership

Cynthia Knopf
Vice President of Finance

Chrissy Jackson
Director Emerita


Florida Youth Writers

Thursday, August 17, 2017

August 16, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep on Writing,


Tuesday, August 08, 2017

It was another good meeting

August 2nd, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Last Meeting and Next Meeting

July 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are There Gaps in your Story Arc?

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

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

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

Until then; Keep On Writing


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Thanks to Darienne Oaks:

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

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



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

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Thanks to cecile bell:

For the Love of Books & Florida

Sarasota, Florida

JULy 15, 2017



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


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



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

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!