Schedule and Location

Welcome to the Sarasota Writers Group Blog. We meet the first and third Wednesday of each month at the Nokomis Fire Station. 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 Adjourned: 9:00 pm

Thursday, December 05, 2019


It was great to utter those words again at the Sarasota Writers Group. I returned from vacation to host this meeting of the group. It is good to be home.

It is December, and we have a nearly full house this evening. Nineteen attendees including one newbie. Welcome Bill Kemper, your insight and contributions were valuable, and you fit right in with this group. We hope to see you often in the future.

With 15 writers wishing to share their work, we jumped right into the fray. First up was Ernie Ovitz. In Chapter 50, he took us back to old Rome where there appeared to be a shortage of wine. A ship leaves port in the winter, an unusual if not suspicious activity. The Emperor’s intelligence officers get word three Senators plan to meet the ship at ports north of Rome; truly a suspicious circumstance. The son of one conspirator is taken while on his way home from school. The cruel Centurion in charge of the intelligence force counts on a mother’s love to protect her son. Will his plan work?

Deep in the Everglades, on Loop Road, there once was a notorious watering hole called, The Gator Hook. Dennis Cathcart, a regular in the ‘glades’ as an avid ‘snake catcher,’ made more than one of his snake catching trips to this area and may have had occasion to stop at The Gator Hook. In 1972 a fellow herpetologist from Austria named Eric, or is it Erich, oh well, the worked up a thirst while looking for snakes in the heat of South Florida. The Gator Hook was the nearest place to get a cold drink. Upon entering they read what turned out to be an ignored notice, “No Firearms or Knives Allowed.” Patrons at the bar almost all carried a very visible hunting knives, and some may have had suspicious bulges under their shirts at the waistband. Using common sense, the pair ordered a couple of cold sodas and took them outside with them rather than stay in the dim surrounding of the bar. Smart move?

Our "Pepe", Peter Frickle, introduced us to a Love Affair in North Africa. The ending was unique and a surprise to all in the room; after all, who expected the man to sell his true love, even if she was a camel. Continuing a discussion from the last meeting, in good humor, Peter and Bruce Haedrich teamed up to argue a counterpoint to Ian’s piece as introduced and posted in our last blog. Fun and interesting to say the least.

Working on a new story, one of our detective/mystery writers, Barb Marvin, shared an excerpt from the new story with a working title of Defenseless. Willa, her main character and retired police detective turned the teacher of Policing Studies at the local college, notices a student whose circumstances may put him at risk in police work. Her old partner from the force calls and asks her to lunch. Is something afoot?

When Ed Ellis starts to read, you never know what’s going to come out. This week Ed took us back to California and the day shortly after his discharge from the U.S. Navy. Young and unattached, he and fellow sailor, Slick share a Duplex. It’s a one-bedroom, one-bath unit and they have an understanding, the first one home gets the bedroom, the other gets the couch. Unfortunately, after a night on the town, Ed comes home late, and the bedroom is occupied. Sometime later, Ed, in dire need of bathroom facilities, tiptoes past the sleeping couple in the bedroom. Once inside the bathroom, Ed discovers something that strikes his funny bone, unable to help himself, his sniggering awakens the sleepers as he makes a break for the living room. What could be so funny?

Not all our writers have such happy tales to impart. Peter McNally recounts his life after a major stroke in Rewired. Robbed of both short- and long-term memory, Peter attempts to rebuild his life. Diminished eyesight, an inability to feel emotion, or comprehend simple tasks have destroyed his career and business. He struggles with everyday chores and actions. How can it get worse? The second stroke drives him to his knees.

Clairvoyance, a gift or a curse? This is the question for Tish McAuley. A young woman is murdered in the rear parking lot where she lives. Police question Tish at work and a presence worms its way into her mind, her partner/husband is a suspect in the slaying. Does she protect her man? The presence tells her he didn’t do it. She feels the pain and anguish of the victim. Does she tell the truth, or lie to protect? Unusual activity in her pituitary is seen by another clairvoyant as the beginning of her “Third Eye.”

While on vacation Rod DiGruttolo found time to scribble the opening chapter of a story. Working under the title of Diagnosis Dead, the story begins with a man being murdered and his murderer taking the body away.

Our “Newbie”, Bill Kemper was a cop in Detroit for some years. Like most cops, he found graveyards were a good place to write reports, especially at night, not too many interruptions and the neighbors are quiet. His cemetery poem, Tombstones, was insightful but not so deep as to warp one’s mind. Good work Bill.

A visitor from California, Vic, has written a book entitled How to Avoid an IRS Audit. For those of you facing that possibility, you might want to pick up a copy off Amazon.

Poets look a the most mundane tasks as an adventure as shown in Scott Anderson’s poem, The Market. A trip to Publix is a world tour as he explores the offerings his mind sees the villages of France, soars over the city of Los Angeles, drifts past the banana plantations of Guatemala, climbs above the sun-swept mountains of Columbia, wafts pasts a dairy in Ireland, and sweeps above the swaying grain of Iowa’s wheat fields. That’s just for breakfast folks. I guess it may have been from the trip to the market or a television special on the plastic pollution in this world which sent Scott’s mind toward, The Plastic Bag. With big oil corporations touting the usefulness of plastics, the simple plastic bag is everywhere, Oceans, Trees, Landfills, ditches, forests, and deserts.

Reading from his work, Promontory Castle, Bruce Haedrich relates the tale written in iambic pentameter about a castle of old, its king and people. This reading has the “Hoats,” barbarians with a vicious bent following the retreating king through the castle gates. The king is betrayed and slain, but what of the royal family, the children? Smuggled from the castle by Mira, their nurse and nanny, they are placed in the capable hands of the blacksmith, a fearsome man of great stature and fighting skill. What is to follow?

This meeting, Ian Schagen picks on his own Great Britain and their political issues. Writing as a statistician and SciFI writer, Ian looks ahead 100 years to a possible collapse of Great Britain as we know it today. 

Amuari’s Cuba was difficult even on the best days. In Jeff Kutcher’s tale, tourism in Cuba was/is a necessary influx of foreign cash. Amauri’s half-brother, Camilo, took advantage of the opportunities afford him by tourists looking to buy illicit drugs. It was risky but profitable.

What is Beyond the Sun? Susan Haley asks, how can we know until we learn how to fly. One of two poems by Sue, it allows our spirit to soar beyond the sun an all the constellations. And back on earth we have a debt, an IOU, in her second poem we are reminded to honor our debt to all living things, we are not given the right to ruin and destroy. 

It was a good night and a great meeting. Don Westerfield’s daughter Melissa, and Don’s friend Vic Ey joined us for the meeting. I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. You are welcome anytime. It’s time to say goodbye for this blog but remember, the next meeting is our annual Christmas Party, bring some goodies and a donation to the Nokomis Fire Department and join us on December 18th at 6:30PM. Also, the meetings in January will take place on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays, the 8th and 22nd of the month. Given the writing prompt, Stay low, don’t fight!, bring us 35 words or less incorporating these words, use your imagination! 

Friday, November 29, 2019

November 20, 2019

Rod is still in Louisiana, and Ernie led the meeting. Eleven members attended. Writers are a loquacious bunch when they get together. Our group is for sure. We begin gathering at the Nokomis fire station before six and by six-thirty, the conversations were in full swing. Rod's big booming voice of command can override the chatter to call the group to order with the words “GOOD EVENING EVERYBODY” but in his absence, it took Ernie a couple of attempts. In any event, approximately 6:30 pm we called the meeting to order. The first order of business was to welcome back Ian Schagen of Great Britain. Ian has published his book recounting his father’s World War II escape from the Nazis and his experiences following the path of his father’s escape route. Ian's return is most welcome.

Peter Frickel was our first reader. He shared his thoughts on the power of a single line to inspire the writer. Some of his examples were:

“Saliva heavy with hunger … the lion.”
“Wind … a blade of grass bows to royalty.”
“Truth … is strongest sometimes between the sheets.”
The group responded to Peter’s examples with enthusiasm. The idea that a line triggers the writer’s imagination and takes on a life of its own led to the proposal for a group challenge. In 35 words or less, take a line and write, creating an image, a poem, the seeds of a story, or to dramatize a situation. We asked Peter for the line, and he has one for our challenge: “Stay low, don’t fight.” Given the December holidays, we have set the challenge date for our first meeting in January, Wednesday, January 8th. (We will be meeting the 2nd, and 4th Wednesday this coming January as our first Wednesday falls on New Year’s Day.) We have our first meeting
in January to look forward to, and we will be listening to where Peter’s line leads each of us.

Bruce Haedrich read next from his Hadley Pennsylvania Stories. He read excerpts from Promontory Castle, a classic tale of knights and kings written in iambic pentameter. The group enjoyed the reading and admired Bruce’s use of the classical form. Thank

you, Bruce. 

Scott Anderson treated us to five of his poems: Partings, Poet Burning, Little Kisses, The Garden, and The Duke of Mantua. Thank you, Scott.

Tish McAuley continued with her memoir. In her straight forward prose, we learned more about her life growing up with an abusive and alcoholic father, a Lt. Col. in the Air Force. She describes him as a man with two faces: a man much admired as an officer and leader of airmen who lived another life at home Acknowledging his wartime experience may have had something to do with demons he faced, she has no knowledge of what they were. It was the1960’s, an era when you didn’t talk about tough stuff or family dysfunction. Her parents moved to Orlando to be closer to her mother’s family living in Sarasota. Fighting, which was common in her home, eventually led to her father’s departure. The trauma left her mother even more dysfunctional. Her grandparents tried to help, with little success. Tish and her two siblings were left to raise themselves. That she can recount such traumatic experiences with grace and calm clarity inspired the group, and we encourage her to continue. Thank you, Tish.

Jeff Kutcher read more from his biographical novel of his friend and Cuban refugee, Amaury, continuing with the story of Amaury’s father, Nury. Amaury’s natural curiosity was irrepressible. Life in Castro’s Cuba was and is hard. However, it was less so for the family of one of Castro’s generals. Nury advised Amaury not to question their way of life. By nature, it was something Amaury could not do. Jeff reminds us all with his story how fortunate we all are with the freedoms we enjoy. Thank you, Jeff.

Dennis Cathcart brightened the mood with a whimsical piece he had from his file, opining upon the conditions of seasoned citizenship, The Old Gray Matter Ain’t What it Used to Be. What a hoot, and for those of us who know, how true. Great job, Dennis.

Susan Haley revisited her poem Alaska is Sinking after the group had given her some suggestions from her previous reading. In good humor, she confessed that she is a passionate environmentalist. We all agree with taking care of our good earth and Susan's words remind us of how precious it is. Her poem ends on an upbeat note, the earth will survive. Keeping things friendly, on the political side, as to man’s influence on climate we will leave to another forum. Thank you, Susan.

Ian Schagen, our British guest, did not shrink from the political side as he read a piece offering his ideas on American governance. Titled The Fickel Finger of Faith, Ian read an imaginary story of Charity, a woman selected from a random sample of the population to be President of the United States. He proposes our Constitution be amended to provide for political offices to be filled from a computerized random sample of the population. A professional statistician, Ian says the proposition is based upon his work and his belief a random and representative sample of the population could do a better job of governing than elected representatives. Revealing his own political preferences, he would have the random sample government enact the full lunch box, including universal health care and all the rest. The group kept it friendly, but more than one let it be known, we like our Constitution in its current form, thank you very much. Still, the story was good and this is the United States of America where all are invited to put forth their ideas. Welcome back, Ian.

Jim Kelly announced the publication of his two-volume work on the life of Civil War Union General Winfield Scott Hancock: I Am a Soldier First and Always, Vol. 1 –Rebellion and Vol. 2 – Turning Point. Jim read from a poignant scene of Hancock’s last days. Thank you, Jim. It has been great fun to see and hear one of our group’s members take his work from "first draft" to "finished product." You remind us all that with persistence it can be done.

Wrapping up the meeting, Ernie Ovitz read the conclusion of his apocalyptic short story, The Rock. In the final scene, it is disclosed,  a traitor has revealed the identities of the four horsemen and those in their movement to the government. They are wanted men and women and must warn their followers to go underground. The

Church is being persecuted, and like the ancient Church must preserver in the trial to come. From the Rock at the Four Corners of the county, Michael, their leader, sends the horsemen east, west, north, and south, to warn their followers. The government effort is being led by a man that Michael knows well, a dark figure from Michael’s past, Sam Beal. When asked what he's going to do.
Michael replies, "I have a date with the Devil in New York City."

Thanks again to all our writers. We are looking forward to our December meetings on Wednesdays, the 4th and 18th. December 18th will be our Christmas meeting. We encourage all who which to join us to bring a holiday treat to share. Not to worry, our

firemen friends will be happy to take care of any food we leave behind. Our December 18th meeting will be one that we present our groups thank you's and contributions to the firemen’s fund. We will take up voluntary collections during both December meetings. Hope to see you all there. 

Until then, keep on writing.

P.S. Winter has come early up north, and Season is here. Take care on the roads, it's a little crazy out there sometimes. When you are safely home or having a cup of coffee at your favorite shop, pick up your pen, and take up our challenge. January is just around the corner.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

November 6, 2019

Meeting of the Sarasota Writers Group

Rod is in Louisiana and unable to attend the last couple of meetings so, Ernie Ovitz led the meeting, and we counted eighteen members in attendance. 

We began with exciting news from three of our members:
Doug Sahlin announced the publication of three of his Yale Larson PI mysteries, and the group got to see a copy of his finished work The Myakka Murders. 

James Harold Kelly, Jim to the group, announced the pending publication of his two-volume work on the life of a Civil War hero, Union General Winfield Scott Hancock; I Am a Soldier First and Always, Vol. 1 – Rebellion and Vol. 2 – Turning Point.  Jim had proofs of the book to show. We will look forward to seeing the final published editions.

Parker Converse announced the publication of Maelstrom, parts 1, 2 and 3, his stories of modern-day life at sea.

Congratulations to Doug, Jim, and Parker. Look for their work on

With ten readers in the wings, we moved on to the reading portion of our meeting.

Tish McAuley has been attending meetings for some time. She's shared that she had a troubled childhood and had many issues to overcome in her life. Tonight the group applauded her as she shared the beginning of her memoir. In beautiful straight forward prose, she relays early memories of living through the fear and pain of abuse from her father, a military officer. It was tough to listen too, and we know tougher for Tish to write. It was well done, and the group urged her not to change a word. A great beginning Tish, we look forward to hearing more.

Peter Frickel has been sharing work that puts a voice to inanimate objects. Tonight he brought a Paris Café to life recounting events from the end of World War I through the Nazi occupation in WWII. Thank you, Peter.

Dennis Cathcart read from his extensive memoir as he has traveled the world in search of exotic reptiles and plants. In this instance, he recounts his first visit to the island of Haiti. It was during the dictatorship of the infamous Papa Doc. Dennis recounts visiting Haiti’s Iron Market and witnessing the extreme poverty islanders lived in. His tail of travel and collecting snakes was brought to a climax with a stop by a policeman looking for a bribe. Dennis’s companion brazenly told the officer that the snakes were for Papa Doc’s zoo. The man let them through, and they got off the island before anyone was the wiser. What amazing stories Dennis has to tell.

Jeffery Kutcher left off last time in the biographical novel of his friend and Cuban refugee, Amaury with the story of Amaury’s father, Nury. Nury came of age under the brutal dictator Batista but as he matured, he became a devotee of Castro. In his last reading, Nury found Castro and his band of rebels in the Sierra Maestra mountains and was accepted into his band. The story continues as Nury proves himself and ultimately gets to meet the man, Fidel Castro. The contrast Jeffery draws between the father, a Castro devotee, and the son, the refugee, paints a stark picture of the seductive promise of liberation through Communism and the grim reality of life under Castro’s boot. Well done Jeffery.

Mary Shaffer brought us an apocalyptic piece in which the world has become one of unending rain. We learn of a family on the move struggling to survive, they find an unoccupied house and break in to find it untouched, as if the owners had just walked out the door. Her story intrigued the group, and we urged Mary to press on.

Parker Converse shared an excerpt from his new work about Gabriella, a shrimp boat captain in a line of work almost exclusive to men. She is a colorful character who tells it like it is. Parker, we are looking forward to hearing more.

Bruce Haedrich changed up the pace with an essay remembering The Song. He argued that his generation, the silent one, men and women born between 1925 and 1945 who came of age between the World War II generation and the Baby Boomers, was the one that brought the world happy music. He took us down memory lane remember all those great old upbeat tunes of the 50’s and early 60’s. Punctuated by the “Day the Music Died,” Feb. 3rd, 1959 and the death of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and JP Richardson, The Big Bopper. Bruce had us reminiscing over all those favorite songs. Thank you, Bruce.

As chance would have it, Don Westerfield followed the musical theme with his poem, Play Those Old Songs. A reading the group unanimously enjoyed, thank you, Don.

Scott Anderson continued the poetic theme with three of his poems: If Butterflies Could Speak, Small Places, and In Pencil Written. Scott has given the group a renewed appreciation for our poets. Thank you, Scott.

Ed Ellis read Brown Leather Gloves, his first-person account of a boxing match between a sailor and a marine. The sailor works himself into a high rage to fight the match. Ed being a Navy man, you can guess who won. After the match his trainer works to dissipate the rage. The sailor and the marine meet and the two combatants embrace, respect given, respect earned, respect received. When big Ed was asked if he was writing from experience, he grinned and said maybe. Well done, Ed, and thank you for your service.

Barb Marvin returned and shared Chapter 2 of her new mystery to conclude our evening. She introduced her character Willa Dupree, a teacher eager to help her students. Willa’s past work as a police detective sets her apart from her academic colleagues. One of her students, Asher, a new police officer is asking for help. Where will this lead. Barb, the group is eager to know.

Thanks again to all our readers, and to all who attended and shared their observations and helpful critiques. “Writers Helping Writers,” that’s what we are here for. Next meeting November 20th, until then, keep on writing.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

October 16, 2019

We began our meeting with thirteen members present. Peter and Barbara Frickel sent their regrets as Peter was recovering from the flu. We hope they are both well and that they will be with us at our next meeting on Tuesday, November 6th. Ed Ellis arrived early and said Don Westerfield was in Tampa and not able to come, but Don surprised us by stopping in for the meeting on his way home. Rod DiGruttolo phoned in his regrets that he had pressing family duties. Ernie Ovitz filled in for Rod as the group’s co-leader. We got right into the reading. 

Ed Ellis brought Barb Marvin as a guest. Barb is a regular with the Englewood Authors Group. Barb is a mystery writer with four published books. Her books are set in our area. She read the first chapter of her new mystery, Defenseless. It began with a dark night on Fruitville Road. The dark night matched the driver’s mood and thoughts. By the time the driver reached the destination, and the trunk popped open, we were hooked. We told Barb she needs to come back and let us know what happens next. She said she would, and we hope she will. 

Ed Ellis read a philosophical piece telling of a time that he became lost in thought, looking at a great wall of mirrors at Logan Airport and missed his flight. He reassured us that he was able to catch the next flight and he was richer from his experience. 

Jeffery Kutcher read from his biographical novel about the life of his friend Amaury, a refugee from Communist Cuba. Jeffery’s chapter looked back on the life of Amaury’s father, Nury, an early recruit and future general in Castro’s cause. Jeffery’s portrayal of life under the brutal and corrupt dictatorship of the Batista regime makes clear why Amaury’s father would be drawn to Castro. At the end of the chapter Nury finds Castro in the rugged Sierra Maestra mountains and is accepted into his band. 

Bruce Haedrich read from his personal memoir. We Danced the Skys. His chapter discusses the Wright Brother’s deadly mistake in airplane design, placing the up and down control surfaces forward instead at the rear of the plane. Bruce’s passion for flight and teaching the technical details stimulated a lively discussion. What is the most effective balance between detail and overview? We look forward to hearing more as Bruce pursues his story. 

Scott Anderson, our passionate poet, had us laughing with his dry poetic humor. The “Non-Binary Driver” got the laughter started when a cop pulls over a driver to find that neither he nor she was driving the car. “They” the sole occupant protested that neither he nor she was behind the wheel. His recollection of a Georgia Battlefield Park, Cheatham Hill, reflected on two young people enjoying each other's company on that hallowed site. The humorous tickle remained, and Scott continued with “The Mall,” “Billboard,” and “On Being Happily Married.” His marriage advice was simple as he confessed that “It’s all my fault.” 

Mary Shaffer chose to read from a piece by author/writer Bret Anthony Johnson, “Even in the Gathering Darkness.” The piece reflected upon environmental concerns. A lively discussion followed as some members confessed that they did not share the piece’s gloomy environmental perspective. We acknowledged that differences of opinion were present, and talked about our group’s commitment to helping writers with their writing regardless of their political opinions. The good news is that we agreed that it was important to the group to keep our meetings friendly and welcoming to our motto, “Writers Helping Writers.” 

Don Westerfield shared some memories of his hometown, Terra Haute, Indiana. He read two poems by Max Ehrmann, Terra Haute’s own, the second being his famous “Desiderata.” 

Jim Kelly read from his historical novel, Turning Point, chronicling the life of Winfield Scott Hancock, Union General in the Civil War, and Democratic candidate for President of the United States. In his chapter, Jim reads the moving story of Hancock’s relinquishment of command. The general had suffered serious wounds during the battle of Gettysburg and their lingering effects causing him to reach the tough decision to let go at the very moment the end of the war was in sight. Jim says that he is close to having his multi-part work ready for publication and hopes to have proofs to show in the near future. 

Ernie Ovitz wrapped the readings up with a continuation of his dystopian short story, “The Rock.” As the story continues the fourth member of the riding party meeting at the rock, Marvin, shares his inside knowledge of the government’s plan to banish cash from the system, by turning the Social Security Credit Index, SSCI, card, and their bank account card into one controlling national card. Those that fail to meet government conduct standards, with low social credit scores, will be punished and even denied use of a card. Undesirables, such as Christians will be banned. No card, no job, no money, you can starve as far as the government is concerned. The program and the persecution will be rolled out in Chicago. However, corruption is at work, the Chicago north and south side gangs are joining forces to buy blank government cards to sell. Marvin and his motorcycle club, The Pale Riders, are the go-betweens. Next time the story’s conclusion. 

Best wishes, and keep on writing.

Oh, by the way;
Check out Maris Soule's blog on Hometown Authors

With so many books being published nowadays, how do you promote y9ou books (or yourself)? That is the question Hometown Authors asked me.
For my answer, check out today's blog on their site:

Feel free to leave a comment or idea, but no laughing at what my husband did. OK?


Thursday, October 03, 2019

The first Wednesday of the month came early again. We met at the firehouse as usual and welcomed Anne Moore back from the frozen (or soon will be) north. After a few brief comments, we launched into a discussion about research. As we had 13 attendees, and each offered their experiences with researching projects, the discussion became intense. In the end, it was agreed, all forms of writing are enhanced by research and research can be as simple as memory or as complicated as advanced searches through massive tomes and record files. If a writer makes a simple mistake of having something used before it was invented or has his characters interact with a person who’s been dead for years before his story takes place, that writer loses credibility with readers who know the truth. Even sci-fi and fantasy writers need to research even if its simply to be sure they’re not doing something that’s been done before. Internet, photo albums, old passports, notes, letters are fantastic sources of information. Dig in and make your stories come to life.

We opened the reading portion of the meeting with Bruce Haedrich presenting something new to him; a non-fiction work with the working title of Dancing in the Sky. It’s all about airplanes, pilots, and airmen. His first chapter is entitled Goodnight Searchlight. A young boy peers from his bedroom window watching planes landing and taking off from a nearby airport in New Jersey. It’s the 1940’s and Air Mail, Cargo, and Passenger planes come and go with lights and noise the boy soon learns to associate with the various types of airplanes and their engines. An airport beacon becomes his nighttime searchlight.

How do you open a book? I guess you lift the cover an there are pages to read… No, how do you write an opening to a book? That is the question Dennis Cathcart has for the group. The life experiences of this author have been plentiful and more than exciting in many cases. With which of these do you open your book? Pick one, they’re all great. Facing death on when stranded on a desert island inhabited by a colony of reptiles including snakes and flesh-eating lizards. I think that might hook your reader. Dennis is putting the finishing touches on an exciting memoir about his life as a herpetologist, among other things. Get it out there Dennis, I’m anxious to read it.

Quotes from Hemingway, Jose Marti, and other noted authors opened Peter Frickel’s reading some of his short poetry. I Lie Still, Victims, River, We Grow Up, and Veldt were some of his offerings. Short but poignant, these works tugged at our hearts as well as our minds. So much talent. Peter is readying his work for publication. Look for it soon on Amazon.

Susan Haley took a hiatus from writing for several years. She was gone from our company until the fall of last year when she returned to the fold. Last night she offered a brand-new poem she’s working on. Even in its unfinished state Alaska Is Sinking comes alive and tugs at your heartstrings. Her heart and passion for keeping Mother Earth healthy shows in almost all she writes. This is going to be no exception. I want to hear it in its entirety soon.

A story about a Cuban man, his family, and history brought to us by Jeff Kutcher tells the story of growing up in a society rife with issues foreign to those of us fortunate enough to be born in the USA. In this chapter, Batista’s soldiers roam the provinces stealing and abusing the citizens. On an isolated farm they come during the day while father and son labor in the fields. Mama is alone. The soldiers steal her chickens and four of them take their pleasure with the woman. Her husband and son return only to find her hurt and humiliated by the roving band. The son vows revenge.

David and Harry join Michael on the “Most Wanted” list in Ernie Ovitz’s dystopian tale of intrigue and betrayal. Veritas Vos Liberabit became the call in a country whose people have always fought for freedom. A bastion of freedom hears the call the truth will set you free. Where do we go from here? We’ll have to wait until the next meeting and hear what Ernie has to offer.

Continuing in the theme of Mother Earth, Ed Ellis brought us a poem entitled Lifeboat. Evoking deep thoughts and sending a chill down my spine, his words seem more of a portent than a simple poem.

Two poems by Don Westerfield about Alaska gave us another chance to see and feel the wonderous beauty of an unspoiled land of long ago. Wonders Alaska gives us a look at the great state before modern man came to despoil and plunder. Pure water, cold and abundant wash down from the snowy peaks past glaciers new and unyielding. Set to music some years ago, Alaska Sings gives us the visions and a cool wave of clean seems to sweep through our minds as we hear the words. This poem delivers the music it is set to in every line.

The civil war in America was a terrible and deadly conflagration in the annals of our history. Jim Kelly read a piece of poetic prose depicting the battle in the Wilderness. Following the Battle of Gettysburg by nearly a year, The Union army with superior numbers clashed for two bloody days with the reeling Army of Northern Virginia under the command of Robert E. Lee. Thousands died and the horror of a burning forest swept over the battlefield taking with it the lives of dying and wounded soldier of both armies.

The hour came upon us to end the meeting, and it was with some reluctance we closed. Until our next meeting on October 16th, KEEP ON WRITING.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

September 18th, 2019

 Welcome back! My computer decided to take a vacation and I’ve reverted to a backup system, a laptop that’s a bit older than dirt, but still works. Unfortunately, my internet connection was a little harder to fix as the fiberoptic cable to the neighborhood was cut and didn’t get fixed until yesterday. So I’m late, what else is new.

The meeting began with a discussion, as always. This week an article out of the FWA dealt with editors, what they’ll do and won’t do. Cool huh? An Editor in our group applauded the article as it set forth some salient points. Editors do not write your story; they simply make sure you write it with the skill and talent you are blessed with. Some editors specialize in various areas like using proper punctuation and grammar. A very specialized editor may indeed help with pointing out areas in your piece which have problems in the manner they are worded or where improper words are used; i.e. there or their, etc.  Even the best of us need someone to read over our work and point out those obvious errors we make, I like to blame the auto-spell function; it’s the most maligned feature on the computer.

A quick read of a second article about Flash Fiction brought forth a second discussion, though considerably shorter than normal. GET IT?

The reading portion of our meeting was led off by Jim Kelly. His historical fiction story is considered fiction only in the dialog portions, as there are sparse references to the language used by Civil War soldiers and officers in the heat of battle. Jim’s story follows General Hancock throughout his career and this chapter follows the conclusion of the Battle of Gettysburg. Wounded, gravely but not mortally, Hancock directs his troops from a litter while medics tend to his wounds. Jim’s descriptions of sights, sounds, and odors surrounding a battlefield bring the readers into the fray and make them want more.

Mailboxes, poetical prose penned by Peter Frickel, especially when read by the author in his audibly pleasing baritone and cultured diction, gave us a new outlook on inanimate objects. The piece looks at every conceivable subject a mailbox might encounter. Damage to the mailbox and its contents, critique of neighboring boxes and their construction, weather, animals and their interactions with the mailbox and its post, and the content of the box’s contents, was most interesting. Great job Peter, show us more.

Cuba, that island 90 miles off Florida’s southernmost Key West is the setting for Jeff Kutcher’s story of a friend’s life. Amaury’s grandmother lived on a small farm bordering an old road in the heart of Cuba’s agrarian culture. In the days before Castro, the road was patrolled by Batista’s soldiers. The Farmer’s hard lives were made even harder by the demanding corruption of the regime and overbearing soldiers. Keep going Jeff, I’m anxious to read the finished product.

Ernie Ovitz is working on some changes and housekeeping on the Constantine project but fills in by reading excerpts from his dystopian work, The Rock. In this week’s excerpt, Michael meets Julia, a retired federal prosecutor turned reality television judge who is very popular. She is tough, self-reliant and smart. Their relationship is testy at first but blossoms with time. Stay tuned for more of Ernie’s off-center story. Good stuff!

When Scott Anderson opened his folder containing 5 little poems a hush fell over the room. Flat Cap, those little caps golfers wore (some still do), brought Scott’s memories to the fore, plaid, wool for warmth, and an Austin Healey still fill his dreams. Oil Painting, through the eyes of two viewers, present two distinct objects in two minds. When Circus brings out memories of our youth, we love the elephants. Date Night and the Ballet inspires a man to love his wife even more than before. Finally, Water Wings gives a child’s sense of security. Scott, your work gives me chills, don’t stop.

The Dreamer, written 30 years ago and The Realist, written last week, show Don Westerfield’s range when read side by side. The wishful thinking and whimsical ideas of one complement the harsh thoughts and dark happening in the other bring a balance not often shown by a writer in one sitting. As always, Don. You rock.

Ed Ellis’s wife has her hands full when they go to Disney World, well actually anywhere. On a recent trip, she had some shopping to do while Ed wanted to sit and write in a café. Upon requesting a seat by the window, the hostess asked his name. Ed was not in the mood to be serious. Without much thought, he said, “Peter Bacharacharoca.” Having to repeat it several times, he almost forgot what he said to start with, he settled in and began to write. When his wife came to retrieve him, she asks for Ed Ellis. “Nobody by that name here,” was the hostess’s reply, “but we do have Mr. Bacharacharoca in the front room.” A gleam of realization sparked, Ed’s wife said, “That’s probably him.” Ed’s day of quiet writing was over. Ed, you never cease to amaze us, and yourself, I think.

A retired pilot, Bruce Haedrich, brought us a piece about airplanes which sees the machine through a pilot’s eyes. Here, as in a previous piece, an inanimate object becomes a living being. The hydraulics, cables, engines, and electrics become organs giving life to a huge creature controlled by a single brain, it's pilot. With Bruce’s narrative, I could feel the wind, sense resistance in the levers, and hear the heartbeat of a living machine. Well done Bruce, well done indeed.

Time grows short and we must close for the night. We’ll be back here in October, the second to be exact. Join us if you can, all are welcome. If you can’t be here, check out this blog as soon as I get around to writing it again. I’ll try to be quicker next time. Until then, Keep on Writing.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Here we are again, another meeting with the FWA writing group who meet at the Nokomis Fire Station. It’s a great group of people and writing is their passion.

We began the evening by bringing a writing contest to our member’s attention. 

The Tennessee Williams, TW/NOLF 2019-2020 Writing Contest is looking for entries. For further details contact the Contest Coordinator, Teresa Jacobson, and look for the website. Also, a second contest associated with the LGBTQ Literary Festival is looking for entries, look for Saints and Sinners 2019-2020 Fiction Contest in order to enter. and are websites related to these contests.

 A discussion relating to the use of dialog ensued after Rod read an article from the FWA newsletter about using dialog. Stories are often in dire need of dialog to hold the reader’s interest. Well written dialog carries a story forward rapidly with fewer wasted words. Think about conversations you’ve had, listened to, or imagined. Most are rapid fire exchanges carrying humor, anger, and passion, emotions seldom explained but expressed simply by tone of voice and body language. A writer must convey emotion and meaning using appropriate words as well as description. With the proper set up, dialog will tell a story. Remember, a world without conversation is bland, colorless. Paint a picture with your words and bring it to life with dialog.

From here we moved on to the reading portion of the evening and Dennis Cathcart introduced us to Erich Sochurek, a reptile collector from Austria who came to visit. They had traded specimens over time and knew each other professionally though they had not met previously. Erich arrived carrying only a single bag, he’d planned to purchase all he needed locally so he didn’t have to pack or carry a lot of luggage. A trip to Kmart was interesting to say the least as Erich tried on trousers in the store aisle rather than retiring to a changing room. Europeans are less squeamish about that sort of thing. An unfazed sales lady helped him find the proper size and got them out of the store without security intervening. Erich said he really liked the United States and had fallen in love with some of the things he’d seen the last time he was here. Dennis said, “I thought this was your first visit.” Erich explained, "The last time was not a visit, I was brought here as a POW during WWII." An interesting way to be introduced to a society. Look for more stories when Dennis gets his book in print.

When Peter Frickel announced the title of his piece, What Do I Know, it promised some intrigue and mystery. On a train to Paris a man watches and remembers his youth and its lost pleasures, he is on his way to meet an old friend. The landscape and fellow passengers conjure up questions in his mind leading to his arrival in the city of light. Off the train, he merges with the crowd and soon meets his old friend. Will an old love be rekindled?

Ernie Ovitz’s second character in the dystopian story, The Rock, is Harry. Denied a pack of smokes by a store clerk whose announcement, “You have used up your quota for the month,” kindles in Harry a resentment against a government which meddles in our everyday lives against our will. Harry is a magician in Las Vegas and meets Michael, our protagonist, during the incident. Although their first meeting is testy it shows signs of developing. Stay tuned for more character driven adventure.

Jesse and Me by Bruce Haedrich is a captivating poem depicting the friendship of two children reared together during their formative years. As they explore their world, they become closer. Ants, Butterflies, Magic, and The Bogyman play parts in their maturation. Touching, poignant, and nostalgic, this piece brings forth past relationships in all who read it. When you get the chance, read Bruce’s work.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be, The Cop, working the midnight shift? Rod Digruttolo’s short story about an event on a dark rainy night brings it to the fore. With back up officers on the way, a young officer encounters a drug-crazed biker who’s murdered his young girlfriend in a dark lonely setting. It can only lead to a bad ending.

I’ve been making an error for months and Jeff Kutcher finally corrected me, I’ve be spelling the name of his character incorrectly all along, the correct name is, Amaury Torres. Thank you, Jeff. Amaury is such an interesting character, I feel badly about the error. In this week’s offering Amaury is introduced to Greco Roman Wrestling. His physical skills and determination take him all the way to the Pan American games before he’s eliminated by an experienced and skillful opponent. Look for Jeff’s story in the future, he’s in the editing stage.

Poet Scott Anderson brought three newly composed pieces this week, the first, Hurricane Dorian, displayed the anxiety and dread of the approaching storm as well as the relief of its eventful passing as a no-show in our area. The second piece, Wally the Alligator, in Memoriam, remembers the removal of a single alligator from the neighborhood pond, a single resident complained, and Wally met his fate. For every son who remembers his mother, Scott’s memorial to his mother, Dee and Her Sexy Saxy, deals with his remembrance of how she enjoyed music and playing her saxophone. Scott is a great poet and we wait for his offerings each meeting.

Don Westerfield always gives us a treat with his poetry. This week’s work was two-fold. In, To Give the Devil His Due, Don voices his reluctance to leave this life without the hope of entering Heaven’s gate. The second offering, The Wall, The Rain, and The Rabbit, depicts a visit to a pre-Columbus wall, being startled by a rabbit, and getting drenched by a fast-moving rainstorm. My heart beat faster and I was out of breath when the conclusion came upon us. I think I got wet although my clothing was still dry. Don is always descriptive in his work.

We’re out of time and look forward to the next meeting. Join us on September 18th at the Nokomis Fire Station. In the meantime, KEEP ON WRITING.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

August 21st, 2019

Welcome back to Nokomis, Florida. Yes, it’s warm but many of you in the northern climes are experiencing high temperatures as well. Here, at least, many afternoons a shower cools us off and a sea breeze sweeps the heat aside almost all day. When all else fails, we do have air conditioning.

Our friend and fellow writer Russ Heitz may have passed on, but his legacy remains. His final book, The View From Here, is published and available at Barnes & Noble book stores as well as on Amazon. We miss you Russ, but will never forget you.

Our discussion was spontaneous including memories of Russ as a co-founder of our group. Happy times as we remembered past members and those no longer with us. Some are watching from their forever home while others are simply on vacation. 
Our group has always been open to young, fresh writers and support their efforts any way we can. Some of us have grandchildren, even great-grandchildren and often share stories about them. We had a short discussion about the pleasures of children, and a few of the drawbacks as well. We did agree, they are a prime source of stories and fuel our imaginations. Check out Bruce Haedrich's offering later on.

When we opened the reading portion of the meeting, eight writers were ready to present their work for critique and suggestion.

Ernie Ovitz departed from his historical rendition of Constantine's Rome to bring us something different. Reading the first portion of a tale entitled The Rock, He introduced us to a band of outlaws attempting to escape a dystopian civilization of the future fostered by an over intrusive government. A quartet of characters joins a mutual friend hiding out in a desolate wasteland. They live with an idea not unique to the future, “the truth will set us free.”

All of us look forward to Peter Frickel’s work and this week was no different. His story, Nellie, tugged at our hearts while his style and reading prowess were on display. Nellie was his neighbor’s dog and the interaction of man and dog, as Peter writes, was not an action of mindless animal and master, but a friendship forged from time and familiarity. Nellie’s puppyhood, as she left her birthplace and came to live with a new family left memories in her conscious only an insightful writer could imagine. If you get a chance, read this story.

Our discussion on grandchildren over the past years let Bruce Haedrich to pen a poem entitled, Being Grandpa. Three sections depict the interaction between grandpa and grandson, teaching the basics a man should know, a fishing trip, and a revelation. Hearing the joys of being a grandpa in verse caused my heart to swell and beat a little stronger.

Parker Converse says he started writing because it looked like a good way to make some money. The more he wrote the less he cared about the financial aspect and the more he enjoyed writing. In Maelstrom, a couple sets out on a sailing trip from New England to Bermuda. Accompanied by a black Lab and children, the woman is on her first sailing adventure with a new man in her life. Their relationship grows as he teaches her to hold a true course and maybe learns something himself. On the third day he allows her to steer in the night. The wind is rising…

A protector of the earth, Susan Haley offered her poem, The Circus is Coming to Town, for our enjoyment. Woodland creatures panic at the sound of heavy equipment as it destroys their habitat causing them to run for new homes. The metaphor is impressive conjuring mental images of a runaway circus of men and machines destroying all in their path.

Jeff Kucher’s story of Amauri growing up in Castro’s Cuba brings a picture to life all of us look forward to the next installment. Here Amauri visits a gymnasium with his older brother. Watching his brother’s proficiency in the boxing ring fosters an interest in the sport, but will another sport catch his fancy?

Poems by Don Westerfield are always fun and more often touching. This week’s offering met all our expectations. A Poor Poet’s Poem gives us a glimpse into the struggles of a poet to find words and ideas to fill the page. In The Crystal, shows the love and devotion in the heart of man searching for the perfect gift for his true love.

Ending the evening, Scott Anderson came forth with a series of poems dedicated to his wife's memory. In Desert Fathers we see God in children’s laughter; while Sirens, delivers a sense of impending doom and conjures a wave of foreboding. The Kiss I Planned, shows us a kiss that never ends. As a young couple all of us know what it’s like to have little but have it mean so much, in Our First Table, the three-legged table was a luxury and unforgettable. The Garden Path was written that appeared as it was. Blue becomes a favorite color because a lover wants it so. Photograph Found shows a picture but only the photographer knows the secret.
I hope you enjoy the meetings and reading about what we do. If you have subjects you would like to discuss, please drop me a line and let me know about them. Join us next meeting if you can, but until then, keep on writing!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

August 7th, 2019

Our meeting began with a short discussion. Don Westerfield brought in a couple of… well, I guess you could say “lovingly used” references (a thesaurus and dictionary), for our viewing. With spines broken and taped, yellowing worn pages, and frayed covers, these books represent the extent to which a seasoned author relies on tools. Many of us who’ve been writing for years rely on physical tools which we’ve used since the beginning, while others have transitioned to modern electronic versions. No matter which version you use, tools are essential to our trade. 

The discussion was based on the premise, Grammar and Structure go hand in hand. Think about that and check out this website,

Our reading portion opened with Will Jensen, Editor, and Publisher of SlipStream, a magazine for flyers past and present. He read his article about a subscriber who’d recently passed away. President George Herbert Walker Bush was a distinguished flyer and hero of World War II. Will’s article gives us a deeper insight into Bush's life and exploits during his flying career. Well written, Will. Thank you.

The Bimini Caper brings us to the Bahamian islands on Dennis Cathcart’s mission to repair a friend’s boat by replacing a faulty starter. Off to a rocky start, the part promised by the friend turns out to be only a few minor parts, not the promised assembly. The situation only gets worse when they arrive in Bimini; it seems the marina owner holds a lien on the boat for $500, an amount not mentioned by the boat’s owner, and the old starter is at the bottom of the inlet in which the marina is located. After diving to retrieve the starter they spend several days dining on local cuisine and waiting for the starter to dry out, they rebuild the part and get the boat fired up and running. Now, how to get it out of hock? A simple test ride and feigned breakdown do the trick. A full-out run in the unpredictable Atlantic Ocean to Miami makes for an unforgettable trip. I'll bet the marina owner won't forget?

When Peter Frickel's rich baritone fills the room reading a chapter from Memon, a hush falls. In a café beside the river Seine, a writer ensconced in the café/bar he sees and hears life as its being lived. Did he actually see a mermaid? He recalls the passing of his true love and in his mind can always hear her final words.

Poetry plays a big part in our group and Ed Ellis brought us a beautiful example in Wild Honey. His requiem for a friend displays true feelings.

Don Westerfield’s poems are always welcomed and this week’s entries, Self-Made Man and Love, a Risky Game, showcase Don’s gift for incorporating deep feelings with a subtle undertone of humor. Fun and touching, a wonderful combination for life.

Beyond the Sun and IOU by Susan Haley ask personal questions. Do we live in shadows until we learn to fly? Are we responsible for our lives on this frail earth? What do we owe those who pass through our lives? Poetry inspires thoughts of things we often take for granted as these works do so well. 

Only here can you hear the work of Scott Anderson. His latest entry is a poem made up of poems. By My Father Told is unique and inspiring. A group of eleven poems inspired by his father’s oft-told stories gives us a glimpse into the writer’s upbringing and memories of this father. 

Returning to prose, Cuba under Castro’s rule is the subject of a chapter in Jeffery Kutcher’s work, an autobiography of Amauri. Two youngsters decide to play a dangerous game by teasing a cop. An old portable radio tuned to a banned radio station beamed from the United States evokes the desired response. Chased by the cop the boys make their escape to familiar hiding spots in Havana's harbor. 

The Pencil is a short, eerie story documenting the history of a simple writing/drawing instrument. When a young architect chooses a special pencil he really can't afford to design a bridge for entry in a competition which can only be entered by registered architectural firms, the story begins. Showing the design to his boss, he asks that it be entered. The design wins but the firm takes all the prize money and the young man receives no credit. Despair sets in and leads to a predictable conclusion. The pencil finds its way via the widow to her brother on his way to North Africa during World War II. After receiving many beautiful letters from him written with the pencil she receives a final package, a conciliatory letter and his belongings, including the pencil. Bruce Haedrich has a knack of bringing us suspense and surprise in his stories even when we expect something, it comes from a different direction.

In Memoriam

In Memoriam

Russ Heitz
co-founder of this group and a friend

Russ is a great talent and will be welcomed into the corps of writers in the hereafter. I'm sure his spirit will edit my work forever.

Thank you for being our friend and mentor.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

JULY 17th, 2019

Welcome back. We’re always glad to see you. 

Jim Kelly returned from greeting a new grandbaby. Welcome back after missing a meeting or two. July is a hot month and our meeting this week was hotter than usual. No, nobody lost their temper, there were no fisticuffs, or shots fired, and everybody seemed to have a good time, but Jim asked a question of the group. "How do you go about getting our work published? Peter Frickel asked, "Why do we want to be published? Well now, that ignited a firestorm of discussion We were off, suggestions abounded as did opinions and it took a good forty-five minutes before the discussion began to wane. There were fourteen people in attendance, and we heard at least 12 different opinions. It was great!

Jim’s work is about the American Civil War, General Winfield Scott Hancock, in particular, sparked suggestions ranging from contacting Civil War organizations which might have publishing connections, to investigating College Press opportunities, or seeking out an agent who specializes in the military genre. Of course, self-publishing using the multitude of available methods was in play as well. We all have ideas and have tried various methods of publication. Each has its drawbacks and advantages; choose wisely and do your homework, pick the way best for you. 

We got into the reading venue by starting out with Scott Anderson who remained on the list from our last meeting. Thank you for being so patient. Scott brought us five unique poems, each short but poignant. His first work was entitled, Freshman English Final, My Affair with Madam Bovary. Inspired by a sleepless night and spurred on by chemical inspiration in the form of a diet pill popular in the era, a College Freshman reads the required tale of Madame Bovary. His test results were not as desired and his professor gave him an incomplete rather than outright failure, but the verse was right on target with humor and tense expectation.
Making Oatmeal, French Kiss, Rice Paper, and Doggie Bowl were sensitive introspections of life, lost love, and loneliness. Beautiful as well.

Jim Kelly read a portion from his Civil War novel, I Am A Soldier, First and Always. General Hancock is severely wounded while defending his position at the center of the famed Pickett’s charge. Though his wounds are dire, he refuses to leave the field until the day is won. He suffers through to the victorious end. Civil War buffs, keep an eye open for this book, it will be available, it’s too good not to be.

When Ernie Ovitz opened his notebook and announced our return to 311 A.D., a murmur of anticipation filled the room. A well-written conversation between a Roman Senator and constituent is filled with intrigue and sedition. The chapter is a lesson in subterfuge. Ernie’s work depicting the undercurrents in ancient Rome is told in a manner which makes you feel as if you’re a fly on the wall in the most sensitive parts of the empire.

Writing a group of short vignettes and tying them together with a moving theme requires a lot of skill. To take a group of these vignettes already written and blend them to accept a theme must be a task for a master. Peter Frickel has embarked on such a task. 
Tonight’s story introduced characters mentioned in previous stories. A woman, seemingly abandoned by her husband, an avid fisherman who failed to return from an angling expedition, searches every evening along the river. She and her small dog search with the hope of finding him and all the while they gather information from locals on his disappearance. The ending is a surprise and is sure to make you gasp.

Integrity, a piece presented by Ed Ellis, is a heady work taking a look at things we do each day without knowing. We co-create. Ed’s voice is clear and strong as he touts co-creating as the true win/win in life, business, and love.

Have you ever had a child who seems too busy to visit? When they’re little you can’t shake free of them, they come of age and you can’t lure them home, even with a promise of Disney World. In Old Time Easter Mary Shaffer writes about a couple with this dilemma. Dad will try anything to get his daughter to visit, he even uses indigestion disguised as a self-diagnosed heart issue to bend her to his will. Will it work? Mary uses an Egyptian art piece to build her story with a modern-day family and the ploys of a conniving father. but she slips back in time to the days of the Pharaohs and looks at how a father in Ancient Egypt might react to similar issues. I think this might be fun.

Dan Marin’s back in action with Bruce Haedrich’s newest book, Oceania. Chapter 28 in the book gave us a chance to see Marin dodge a situation most men never wish to face. Upon his return from Oceania, he meets his lover at the airport and during some pillow talk she asks, “How was Katrina?” Marin knows he’s been caught… What is the outcome? Let’s see, Oceania will be on the market soon.

For What Price, is a poem by Susan Haley. It asks the question as to how much is the earth and its creatures worth to you, to us, to corporate entities. For What Price will you sell your future.

Cuba is the site of Jeff Kutcher’s friend’s childhood Amari. The ongoing story reveals a lot about the small things which shape the mind of a man. This chapter deals with huge realization as the young boy sees an old advertising sign for Coca Cola hidden behind a door, a product forbidden in Castro’s Cuba. He knows he'll never find out what that wonderful drink tastes like; however, when he attends a meeting with his father an official of Castro’s government gives him an ice-cold Coca Cola to quench his thirst. His first taste is nirvana, but he realizes there is inequity in Cuba, only the most powerful and influential have luxuries available to them.

When Parker Converse said he was finishing his tale of a Caribbean cruise with a beautiful Swedish girl as his crew and roommate, the level of testosterone went up in the room. The hilarious scene of Captain Billy Bob attempting to motor his outrageously large yacht away from the pier had the room in stitches. I hope Parker’s work reaches the public in the future. It’s good stuff.

Wow, where’d the time go? We ran out of time with a single reader remaining. Will Jensen, you are first to read at the next meeting. I hope all of you can come back for the next meeting, but I know that may be difficult as summer vacation time is upon us. No matter what, until then, KEEP ON WRITING!

Thursday, July 04, 2019

July 3rd, 2019

Hello again, glad to see you back.

Our first meeting of July was a good meeting although we may have swerved a little off track in the opening discussion. We began by talking about how much truth is required when writing fiction. Peter Frickle led off by reading a piece he'd come across but was unable to remember the author or where he’d read it. A quote from the piece is as follows, “Truth does not have to be ‘the facts.’”
This launched a discussion which may have gotten off track a little but still raised some salient points. How much truth is too much truth? 
We started out looking at fiction writing but veered toward memoir, biographies, and autobiographies. During the discussion we turned toward the expose’ books and articles in vogue today. Some of our group lean toward leaving things alone. One person asks, “Why is it necessary to bring up the less savory aspects of a person’s life when their only claim to fame is the good things they’ve done?” 
Another says, “Just because a person is a jerk and does a few stupid things, does that mean all the good they’ve done is to be negated?”
 What does this have to do with writing? A writer has a responsibility, whether it's to themselves or for a contractual obligation, to produce readable material, believable material, which they think will move their readers. Memoirists, biographers, news writers, and non-fiction writers in general cannot make up facts or delete incidents to enhance the writing. We may not all see truth the same as another, there’s always room for interpretation. Therein lies the quote from Peter’s reading, “Truth does not have to be ‘the facts.’”

About fifty minutes into the meeting we moved on to the reading portion. Nine readers were waiting to share their work. Unfortunately, we were able to hear only seven of them, Don Westerfield and Scott Anderson move to the top of the list for our next meeting, July 17th.


When Ernie Ovitz took the floor, we expected to hear about his work about the Roman Empire of Emperor Constantine. Instead, he brought a poem he did not write, Study for Belief With Lines From Star Trek the Original, which he’s chosen to present to a group. In reading the poem he must become part of the poem. He received a full critique of his performance as well as praise for choosing such a poignant piece.

Animals on the Veldt and creatures in his garden provide pleasure and inspiration for Peter Frickle’s writing. His depiction of meerkats searching for food while remaining alert to danger in the form of predators, and giraffes reaching high above all other creatures to procure a meal liken to a small bird in his garden singing and searching for something to eat. In his golden voice and luscious words, I heard the squeaks of the meerkats, the crunch of leaves in the giraffe’s mouth, and felt the song of the bird in his garden.

When a writer makes changes in their work based on comments of others I often wonder if they’ve done the right thing. In the case of Dennis Cathcart’s revisions I agree with most of the changes he’s made to Couley, a story of an adventure in Bimini to collect snakes. It begins with Dennis’ first ever flight in a plane, a Grumman Flying Boat operated out of Miami. Despite the trepidation, they reach Bimini only to find a ferry without a schedule and a blue bus with dubious operational conditions waiting to foil their efforts. But, it all works to perfection in getting our hero to the south end of the island in time to collect specimens for which they’ve come.

Cuba under control of Fidel Castro was not a garden of plenty. Jeff Kutchers story of his friend and former Chef Amauri takes us to the solar in Havana where water is scarce, and children grow up quickly. Amauri takes advantage of an opportunity to purchase water from a water treatment plant and transport it to his solar where he sells it for a small profit. He is a bit of a rebel, even at the tender age of nine, and develops a relationship with the daughter of a Russian worker who tells him of living in Russia where life is easier than in the slums of Havana. As a tour guide he meets people from many other countries and his wish to grow up in the Western world of freedom grows each day of his young life.

Does the Garden of Eden still exist? For Susan Haley it does. In the Alaskan mountain range, a park with a name most assuredly rooted in the language of the natives, Chugach she’s found her Eden. In a poem written to honor her departed husband, whose ashes rest in that park, she took us there. We could see the lush greenery and experience a peaceful setting which seemed to surround us as we listened. Thank you, Susan.

Letters From the Front by Bruce Haedrich introduces us to a soldier in the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the U.S. Civil War. Written in meter like great poems of the past, we learn how the soldiers lived, died, suffered, and rejoiced during the most brutal of conflicts. The work is based on actual letters written by a relative of the author.

When a woman dying from cancer ravaging her body displays power and understanding which, even in death, connects with someone, they must write about it. Parker Converse did just that. His piece entitled Patricia is a moving, emotional piece which left us silent at the conclusion. Great work.


We ran out of time but not out of enthusiasm, we’ll be back in two weeks. Until then I urge all of you to keep writing.