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

Sunday, August 19, 2018

August 15, 2018

Hello again, another energizing meeting to renew our spirit and encourage a greater desire to put pen to paper.

Before we moved into the discussion portion of our meeting, we were honored by the presence of a Nokomis Fire Department Battalion Chief to accept our semi-annual donation to the Department for allowing us the privilege of using their training room for our meetings. These guys are wonderful, and we ask that you support this Volunteer Fire Department every chance you get.

Another evening of great discussion and awesome reading began with the group mulling over the use of photographs, song lyrics, and quotes for publication. Although we all agreed, it’s best to get permission before using intellectual property than to beg forgiveness later. That forgiveness may be costly.

The reading portion of our meeting began with Peter Frickel. Peter demonstrated how he once wrote a piece in answer to a challenge in the group, it was to write something about wine. Having written this piece, he found a reason to incorporate it into another story he was working on. His, I Remember, tale includes the story Umbachara, woven into its heart. All of the writers I know, including myself, do not discard written work. We save scraps of paper and print-outs while files fill our hard drives, a plethora of thumb drives, and discs. These seemingly discarded works often find their way into our stories. Thank you, Peter, for reminding us of this abundant material resource.

Ernie Ovitz returned to the fourth century and Emperor Constantine with his reading of another chapter in the imagined daily workings of the Roman court. Filled with intrigue, spies, and traitors lurking in every corner. At the Saturnalia festivities in the Roman tradition, a sensual and suggestive encounter between an influential senator and the beautiful wife of a distinguished general lends a bit of spice to what is already an engaging tale.

The conclusion of Don Westerfield’s, Emma, was as entertaining as the first two installments had been. With the Admiral, the Queen, and their son all facing the truth, the conclusion is a classic Westerfield tale. Look for it in an upcoming publication.

An op-ed workshop inspired Anne Moore to write a piece she’s entitled, Steppin in High Cotton. It is a well-written piece highlighting, in some cases unique, facts about life in Florida. She explores places and activities that range from shopping at Publix to nudist camps. Fun is the keyword for this piece.

Hadley, Pennsylvania is a fictional town with familiar people and problems almost every small town in America face. A product of Bruce Heidrich’s mind, the story, Skin Deep, is a love story. Two people meet in grammar school and grow to adulthood with twists and turns dictated in real life. Look for Bruce’s book on Amazon and read these fascinating stories.

Returning with wonderful changes to the story, Lost and Found, Doug Sahlin read his story in which a brother seeks a bother lost. The search leads him to a homeless camp in Florida.

How I Met Ukie came to us from the pen of Leah Sherzer. A school psychologist struggles to complete the written evaluations of students while visited by the spirit of her departed daughter. This story bears the weight and aura of truth. We only heard a small part, the first few pages, but we all want more.

Peter McNally continues the work on the true story, Rewired, in which he relates the issues encountered when he suffers two strokes in short succession. Frustrated by his progress and the problems he faces in recalling the details of his ordeal, Peter is a novice writer and often faces a strong desire to quit writing. Encouraged by the group, we hope he stays with the project as it is a fascinating subject with the potential to aid many others facing similar disabilities. Hang in there Peter, we’re all pulling for you and offer our assistance.

As we ran out of time, a single reader was waiting in the wings. Jeff, don’t despair, you are first on the list for the next meeting.

Until next time, keep on writing and join us September 5th, 6:30 PM, at the Nokomis Fire Station. 

Thursday, August 09, 2018

A Learning Opportunity

Received by Ernie Ovitz this week:

Hi Creative Person,
This is Jeanne Corcoran, the director of the Sarasota County Film & Entertainment Office in Florida.  I just wanted to be sure you knew about the extraordinary event our film commission is helping to bring to Sarasota for the first time ever - October 19 thru 21, at the Ringling College academic auditorium: 
Robert McKee himself, presenting the legendary STORY seminar, which is world-acclaimed for providing writers of all kinds “an opportunity to apply classic story design – the kind that has resulted in masterpieces of all kinds – to your own cinematic, theatrical or literary premise.”
Mr. McKee’s students have won hundreds of major awards and nominations, from Oscars to Emmys to DGA and WGA awards, to name just a few.  I studied under him myself, and his teaching transformed my writing.  Robert McKee’s teaching took me completely to another level in how I conceived and conveyed the worlds of my stories.
After taking Mr. McKee’s STORY seminar, I continued on as a paid professional scriptwriter for more than 300 clients’ projects, sold three of my own screenplays on spec, and have written children’s books, novels, and multimedia, including having had my own children’s TV program air on 48 stations across the country.  I also administered the State of Nevada’s screenplay competition (the oldest state-sponsored contest of its kind) for a decade.
Would the STORY seminar impact you or someone you know who writes and creates, the way it did me?  There’s no way of knowing until someone takes the seminar and discovers for themselves what they individually might learn.  If you or someone you know is interested in attending or just wants more information, please copy and paste this link (or click through if it’s live in your email), to read a bit more about the exceptional work of Robert McKee (“one of the best story brains in the business”): 
You can also call our film office toll-free (888-765-5777, extension 104) and speak with our production coordinator for more details if I’m not available.
May Creativity imbue and enrich your life, always!

Jeanne D. Corcoran

Sunday, August 05, 2018

AUGUST 1st, 2018

Our first meeting in August was on the 1st, a great way to start the month.

Two new attendees were at the meeting, Ann and Jeffery. Both are writers and have extensive work completed, or at least in draft form. It’s great to have them here and hope they enjoyed the group.

For the first part of the meeting, a discussion among the attendees covered numerous subjects. Chief among those was, what writing tools are used by our authors and, what techniques for getting the work or paper (electronic or manual methods). 

Even though our group this week numbered only about a dozen, we pretty much covered the most popular writing techniques. All use electronic equipment to finalize their work while more than a third of the writers use a pen or pencil and paper to work with the drafts.

The use of electronic programs also varied. Many use the Microsoft Office Word while some use Scrivner and still others use; Final Draft, Storyist, iA Writer, Celtx or even Evernote. There are a lot of tools out there for a writer to use. Explore a little and choose the one that works the best for you.

We moved from the discussion into the reading portion of the meeting and heard some results of these techniques and methods.

Peter Frickel was first on the list this evening. As usual, he was delightful in his comments. He brought a group of short works, simple ideas that give us an insight into his thinking. Again, as is the case most evenings when Peter speaks, it was a definitive lesson in how to take the basic happenings around us and put them on paper in a manner which draws in the reader and makes them want to read more. Each of his examples left me wanting to hear more of the story. Entitled, I Saw Her, was about child-rearing, an act that birds may do better than humans. Another offering explored the antics and habits of wild creatures in Africa, Baboons showed us a pack of raucous creature faced with a perceived threat. A dying man in an African city was the Victim. When he finished up with a short story, The Veldt and the Hunter, we hung on each word as a dangerous confrontation evolved into a revelation which could surely have a dire conclusion.

Moving from the Veldt of the African plains to the Spanish colonies of the Roman Empire, Ernie Ovitz took us inside the camp of Constantine and the court of his brother-in-law as they vie for control of the empire. Intrigue, military might, and cunning are well crafted in this novel. Look for Ernie’s trilogy in the future.

As Don Westerfield began to read the third installment of Emma, we wondered what was going to happen? In this segment, it’s twenty years later and our young Lieutenant is now an Admiral dispatched to the small country of Monte Rosa whose Queen is his old lover, Emma. The Vice President gives the Admiral some advice, it resonates as to twenty years prior; “Keep in your pants!” The Admiral is married to the Navy while the Queen is married and has a son, a son who is now almost twenty years old and the Queen insists on the Admiral meeting the boy.

In Doug Sahlin’s, Lost and Found, a man searches for his half-brother and the search leads him to Sarasota. He meets a homeless couple who know his brother and tell him what he needs to know.

Flash fiction is unique in its structure and few do it better than 
Bruce Haedrich. In Chance, Victoria Blake Dietrich traces her family tree and finds an astonishing number of places where chance intervened to bring her existence to being. Ever wonder, Why am I here?

Alligator Creek, by Leah Sherzer takes us for a walk along the meandering stream with a little dog for company. After spotting a golden fish seemingly in a life and death struggle, she realizes, upon closer inspection, the fish is in the jaws of an otter swimming upstream, taking the fish home to feed its family. Her curiosity has led her to the edge of the stream where she’s often seen large alligators. She retreats to safer footing but doesn’t regret her lapse of caution as it was a rewarding stroll.

Rewrites are part of writing, after an extensive critique at our last meeting, Peter McNally returned with his work, Rewired. A second critique and more suggestions followed his reading to which Peter responded with gratitude and enthusiasm. This looks to be a great beginning and is going to be a fascinating read.

Well, it was an interesting evening and I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of it. So, until next time:
Keep on Writing!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

July 18th 2018

I'm ba-ack, well sort of.

We started the meeting with our authors giving us an insight into their projects, completed and still in the works. Hearing what others are doing often sparks writers who find themselves procrastinating or stuck on a project. Interesting projects were presented by each author.

While two of our authors, Peter Frickel and Rod Digruttolo, have books listed in Public Libraries of Sarasota County, make me think there are others but they weren't present at this meeting. Let me know if you have books on the Library shelves.

We moved on and our writers presented work still in the draft stages.

Peter McNally presented the first chapter of his work chronicling his recovery from two massive strokes which wiped his memory and severely damaged his ability to rationalize. Entitled Rewired, his story shows the confusion and dysfunction created by the disruption of brain circuitry. In this tome, he attempts to answer questions such as; What happened? Do I remember? Why do I write? Powerful stuff here.

Doug Sahlin came prepared with a chapter from his newest Yale Larson tale, Sour Grapes. A California vintner moves to Florida and engages Yale to investigate the death of his sommelier. As usual, Yale can't resist a mystery.

The second part of the short story, Emma, by Don Westerfield, explores the relationship between a young naval Lieutenant and an exotic princess. Assigned to escort the young woman, the lieutenant is given a single piece of advice by his boss, "Keep in in your pants, sailor." Having fallen in love with the beautiful woman, he fails to heed the advice. It's now twenty years later and he receives a message...

Our last reader was Peter Frickel. This was more than a reading, it served as a lesson on, Do We Write How We See Life? His piece Bird's Eggs forged a lesson on the description of the bird and what the author sees. Using visual descriptions to show the reader action and audible descriptions allowing the reader to hear the world around the subject the author even describes odors or odors, pleasant or unpleasant.  In his work Tree, he describes the sound of a falling leaf. How does a leaf sound when it falls? How do you describe a pond, death, a dog walking, loneliness, dating, remembering, or a more specific genre, a Congo Fighter, a terrorist, a drug dealer, an attacker? Think about this, how do you perceive these things from simply seeing the word, do you have experience with these things, do you write how you see life around you?

Join us the first Wednesday on August, 1st, 2018, for our next meeting. I'm looking forward to seeing you there. Until then, keep on writing.

Friday, June 22, 2018

For all of you looking to find a report of the last meeting, I'm sorry to disappoint you. 

Our next meeting is scheduled for the first Wednesday of July, which falls on July 4th. We WILL NOT MEET ON JULY 4TH our next meeting will be July 18th at 6:30 PM as usual. Have a happy and safe Independence Day.


Saturday, June 16, 2018

For all of you who are looking to see the latest goings on of our group, I must apologize. I've been under the weather for about a month and didn't really feel much like writing.

I had to forgo the last meeting as I fought an upset stomach and pain. Having been to several doctors and in the process of receiving a definitive diagnosis of any malady, I must suffer through one more test on Monday.

Enough of that stuff, I hope to be back next week and look forward to another enlightening meeting.

My co-host, Ernie Ovitz, informs me the meeting was both informative and stimulating without me in attendance. I don't know if that's telling me something or not. I'm still going to be there next meeting baring a major setback. I miss you guys!


Saturday, May 19, 2018

Wednesday May 16th, 2018

I received this email last week. 

I have an acquaintance who has a very interesting life story.
He is 105 years old, and in amazingly good health.
This still drives - bright red BMW.
He came to this country as a small boy from Russia.
You may know of him his name is Joe Newman.

I am interested in having "someone" write a biography of his life story.
Perhaps as part of a masters thesis, or whatever.
Someone would need to interview him over some period of time.
Some young person who is interested in political science might be a good fit.

I realize that may not be of interest to you, but if could suggest a resource this would help.

This sounds like a wonderful opportunity for someone. The time spent in interviewing a person with so much life experience promises to be an educational chance few get in a lifetime. Please contact me, Rod DiGruttolo, and I will pass your information along to the writer of the email. I am unaware as to Mr. Newman’s thoughts on this and make no assurances as to his availability.

Our meeting this week was well attended, and we had a great discussion as well as some quality readings. We welcomed three new attendees, all of whom participated in the discussion, but none brought material to read; most don’t at their first meeting. 

Bruce Haedrich, the author of the Dan Marin mystery series, introduced his new book covers. Previously, each of the Dan Marin series books had a cover with the same base design, only the title changed. Feedback from his readers and customers at book signings prompted him to change the format. Now, each book has a similar format but with different colors and illustrations directly related to the content of the story; impressive change.

Peter Frickel, author of My Frog Sings, The River, Lothar and the Three Crosses as well as many others, displayed his cover art as well. The images range from hand-drawn illustrations to magnificent photographs by professional photographers and each relates to the subject matter with unerring significance.

Rod DiGruttolo, author of Snakes, Spiders, and Palmetto Bugs and Need to Know put his covers on display as well. A photo, taken locally, and a stock photo from CreateSpace make up the cover art for his books. The photos relate to the subject matter as well.

After the art show, the discussion returned to the issues encountered by many of us when writing. Problems with getting the message across when our audience is bilingual arose. Dannis, one of our new attendees, wants to write her story in two languages at once. The discussion on how to accomplish this was interesting and many ideas flowed. It’s going to be fun to see how this plays out.

The talk about how to express ideas in a clear and succinct manner dominated nearly a half hour of discussion time. Ideas abound, and each author expressed ways of accomplishing the task. The group agrees, there are many methods available to meet a goal. and we tend to eschew set rules when it comes to expressing ideas.

The discussions are fun, informative, and thought-provoking, join us at a future meeting and see for yourself.

Moving into the readings we had a diverse selection to listen to. Kicking things off, Ernie departed from his work on Emperor Constantine and brought us a story inspired by his life in the Colorado Rockies entitled The Rainbow Trail. With descriptions of clear streams, cool mountain air, and enthusiastic fishermen, you found yourself transported to the edge of a trout stream in western mountains. A nice respite from the humid heat of Gulf Coast Florida.

Peter took us into his book The River. From humble beginnings, born of spring and rain, his story takes us through life as it parallels the movements of a river. Meeting of friends, lovers, death, and new life fill the pages until it concludes at the ocean, or does it? Maybe we are incarnated as the water is taken back into the sky and released over the mountains to experience the journey once again.

Taking a break from the Dan Marin series Bruce is producing a trilogy called The Outlands. He read us a revised chapter from the third book entitled, Crusade. In the vein of Ayn Rand’s work of the past century, he chronicles a future history of city-states living off the hard work of Outlanders, those who live in the undefined boundaries of those densely populated corridors ruled by progressive thinkers with socialist ideals.

 The Manipulator came back from the last meeting with a rewrite inspired by the suggestions offered at her last reading. Debbie did a great job of changing the perception of her character while maintaining her foibles and endearing qualities. 

Short stories are always fun in a group like this and few do them better than Doug. His, Murder by Rejection, once again has Yale Larson solving a murder in the local writer’s scene. Critics, Agents, and Publisher that pan a writer’s work are often met with some disdain, but murder is another thing altogether.

Well, another month is coming to a close. June 6th is our next meeting followed by another on the 20th. We hope you can join us for a meeting soon. It’s not a boring as you may think, we haven’t had fisticuffs, yet, nor do we even have shouting matches, this isn’t Congress. 

We have fun and if you want to find out how writers think and act, you’re welcome to join us any time.

Until then; Keep On Writing

Monday, May 07, 2018

Wednesday May 2nd, 2018

We had a rousing discussion to start the meeting. I asked, "How do you choose your genre? How do you write, is it from an outline or off the cuff?"

The answers ran the gamut, from I write what I like to read, to I write what I enjoy writing. Nobody said I write what I think will sell. As far as the second question, our nonfiction writers were most likely to write from an outline while our fiction writers surprised themselves on how the story developed. What fun.

Although only nine members were present this week, the snowbirds have flown north and a few regulars are regrouping, we did have six intrepid souls willing to read and listen to suggestions.

When Ed started off with, "Suspended in space is a room, larger than the universe but smaller than a cubby," we knew we were about to hear something to provoke thought, and we were right. When he added residents named Peter Pan, Alice, and Jiminy Cricket, his three friends who shared his thoughts for years from My Place. He listened and was guided to a successful career. 

Don shared a true-life experience in The Game. His pick-up softball team made up of older men, ranging in age from their 30's to early 50's, were given the opportunity to play against the #2 team in the state, its players were predominately in their 20's and in top physical condition. The starting pitcher stymied the older players for several innings with a pitching style which pushed the envelope as to its legality and the youngsters built a multiple run lead. The older guys failed to score and the cocky young pitcher took himself out of the game with a smirk on his face, confident the old guys couldn't come back. Did they have a snowball's chance in Hades? Wait for Don's next collection of poems and stories to read The Game and find out.

The Outlands Trilogy is Bruce's longtime product and he is in the process of finishing the final book in the trilogy. In this chapter, the City-State Armies are forming up to attack the Outland strongholds. Might it be an ill omen when the commander of the City-State's army harbors doubts about the wisdom of this attack?

As Rene read the second chapter of her latest work we found ourselves in the Bahamas. With a working title of Atlantis, an undersea city is certainly expected but, what about intrigue, spies, misinformation? Attend the next few meetings and find out.

With an author being murdered on a Sarasota street in front of a bookstore, Doug details the skills of his favorite detective, Yale Larson. Can Larson solve the crime? The title of this yarn is Parking Garage, it's a short story loaded with suspense from beginning to end. 

Continuing with a new chapter from The Manipulator, Debbie introduces a new character named Doris, a comely young blond, petite, and curvy. The temptress sets her sights on the city boy who has moved onto a local farm a couple of years earlier. She's young but has an idea of how to use her feminine charms to bring him under her spell. Her design is to get out of town and go to the big city; will the lad fulfill her dream?

As always we left the meeting energized and ready to write. I got so involved in my own stuff, I simply didn't get around to doing this blog until tonight. I'm behind in my posting, no excuses, forgive me, please. I'm back now, so; until next time: Keep on Writing!

Monday, April 09, 2018

Check this out, Next Saturday

Press Release – 2019 Southwest Florida Writers Conference


The Hudson comes to the Peace

Long trips & multi-day events not possible with your schedule or budget? Try this!

Title: “The Hudson comes to the Peace” (“River” that is)

Primary Area Served: From Sarasota/Bradenton to Naples/Marco Island and inland

(Anyone is welcome)

Date: Saturday, April 13, 2019 --- 7:00 AM until 7:30 PM

Theme: Writing’s possibilities!

Areas included: Books (fiction & non-fiction), Magazines, Newspapers, TV/radio, & Electronic media.

Location: Charlotte County Cultural Center

Program: One jam-packed day of writing possibilities featuring 70 individual classes, discussion panels, and a special keynote speaker.

One to One Sessions: A special opportunity! – Have your writing reviewed or pitch your work to a publishing professional … including 16 agents and editors from NYC. Submit your sample/pitch in advance and spend 20 minutes with someone who may aid you in your writing career.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included in the registration fee.

Spare yourself the expense of a major trip. Attend a high quality event that brings quality presenters and publishing professionals to Southwest Florida. The conference is centrally located … a two hour drive for anyone in the primary service area. Reasonable hotel accommodations are available with blocks of rooms reserved. Conference registration is limited!

Discounts for early bird registrations!

For more information contact: Brenda Spalding -

Saturday, April 07, 2018

April 4, 2018

After missing a meeting with the flu, Rod was back and, although a bit hoarse, he was again the mouthpiece of our group. 

Ian and Sandie Schagen will be hosting a presentation at the Selby Library Friday, April 6th, 2018 at 10:30 A.M. He is introducing their new book A Wartime Journey Revisited. If you have time, I'm sure you will find it interesting and stimulating. 

The group discussion was a continuation of last meeting's. Ideas flowed and suggestions abounded concerning the critique standards for our group. As always, all comments must be constructive, after all, our goal is to help writers, not discourage them. Honest critique is always helpful and our goal is to help writers with clarity, a semblance of grammatical adherence, and the mechanics of writing including tips and tricks learned over time.

After the discussion, we turned to the reading and critique portion of the meeting. First up was Ernie, the continuing saga of Roman Emperor Constantine now includes a spy named Strategus. Caught between a group of rioters and a cohort of Roman soldiers, Strategus takes refuge in a shallow doorway. Knowing he is about to be overwhelmed, a hand drags him into the building and the door slams shut; he's safe. An old woman confronts him and the plot thickens. 

Peter brought a series of vignettes he writes when the thought strikes him. Many of them are about his home in Africa and the people he's met in his travels there. Thoughts about observing others too define one's self, visions of humanity in life or death, facing starvation as a child of the bush, life's pathway is not easy, and how communication with strangers brings insight as to Why I Write.

Bill is getting ready to head back to his Kentucky home but, before he leaves, he discusses the progress on the Orca's Leg and returned to his story of an old man with a piece he hasn't found a place for as yet, but he will before next fall. He also shared a poem from his days as a public speaker entitled The Speaker's Prayer

Rolling out a new piece he calls Justice Served. From across the wide boulevard, an assassin waits to draw a bead on a mobster and his attorney who beat the system and found a way to go free after being responsible for taking the life of the assassin's daughter. Snipers, cops, and exploding vehicles provide tension and excitement throughout.

A true experience takes up back in time when Don relates his time at the ballpark watching his team struggle. The only saving grace was when a great ballplayer from the past speaks to the crowd at the seventh inning stretch. Now old and sick, the ballplayer speaks and in walking out of the park, passes directly in front of Don. As Don reaches out, Babe Ruth shakes his hand and speaks directly to him. A reply is hard as Don struggles to find his voice and answer The Great One.

Ed related a tale from the viewpoint of an object rather than a human. Entitled, The Best of Roddenberry, he tells how the mysterious object used by Doctor McCoy of Star Trek as he healed all types of injury and calamity, came into being.

A few meeting ago, Darienne ran a story by us about a young boy named Pleasant, also the name of her work. After making changes she brought it back for us. In the days of slavery in America, many heartbreaking things happened. Families ripped apart as members were sold off, suffered the grief of losing parents and children. Pleasant was one of those. A master died and his holdings were sold, including the humans held in slavery. Forced to march 100 miles to the port, the former houseboy was herded into a slave pen to endure the unpleasantness of living like an animal.

Each reader received feedback and honest critique. We hope to hear some of these stories, as we did from Darienne, again with changes which make it better.

We ran out of time before Ian could read this week but he will be at the head of the list next meeting, April 18th, same time same place. 

Until next time, 
Keep On Writing.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

Meeting of the Sarasota Writers Group
Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Wow! One of the biggest meetings of the year with nineteen writers in attendance.

Rod sent a note that he and Betsy were down with a bad cold and would miss the meeting. Ernie filled in as co-leader. We all hope that Rod and Betsy get feeling better soon and look forward to Rod’s return next meeting.

We began with announcements from the group:

Ian Schagen announced the publication of his book, A Wartime Journey Revisited, Ian and Sandie Schagen’s story of following Ian’s father’s footsteps across five countries as he escaped from the Nazis in Occupied Europe to reach England in 1943. Ian’s book was published in the UK and is available on Amazon in the US. He will speak at the Selby Public Library, Geldbart Auditorium, Friday, April 6 at 10:30 AM.

Bruce Haedrich announced his new book, A Gathering of Demons, is now available on Amazon.

We welcomed three new members to our group: Linda King, Bob Melton, and Henk Portier. We hope they enjoyed the meeting and will return.

Ernie shared with the group a discussion piece he prepared with suggestions for readings and critique. The idea was to draw our members out on what we can do to help each other while asking are certain basics in a writer’s craft present? Can we listen for specific elements and comment on them in our critiques? 

Another aspect addressed in this piece was the length of the reading selection. Taking into account the attendance of the meeting, a time limit of five to seven minutes would appear to be sufficient time to analyze the writing, generate a critique, provide feedback, and promote discussion for as many readers our limited time will accommodate.

As for thoughts on providing critiques to our writers, the discussion piece suggested focusing on three general areas of writing craft: Organization of the written piece, writing and saying it well, and characterization. 

A lively discussion followed.

Bill Elam expressed concern about reading short pieces or excerpts. He contends, such a short time limit would not provide the needed context for the reader or listener to properly evaluate and critique the piece. The group agreed, it would be important for the reader to preface their piece with comments providing important background information.

The group struggled with the idea as to what kind of commentary and feedback each writer was looking for in a critique. The consensus grew that it is important for each writer to ask the group specifically what to listen for and for the writer to share what they were struggling with or trying to achieve.

One of our long-time members, a noted publisher, shared an observation and complemented our group by relaying her experience with a highly exclusive writers group elsewhere. (The other group shall remain anonymous, and we do wish them well.) It is her personal opinion, our open group has writers whose talent levels exceed that of some members of the exclusive one. 

The truth is, there are writers groups out there to fit different personalities and needs. We are glad to offer an open group that welcomes new people, fresh ideas, talent, and opinions. We have writers of every skill level from beginners, to journeymen, even some we think of as masters. We welcome active and retired professionals: publishers, journalists, professors, college teachers, and English teachers, among others. Our group has included writers of all genre. Our idea is to follow the motto of the Florida Writers Association: Writers Helping Writers. Thank you to our long-time member for the compliment. We hope we live up to your high praise and we omit specific details and your name to avoid any embarrassment to you or the other group.

New member, Bob Melton posed a question for the group. Bob shared his background as a professional songwriter as well as a writer of prose and relayed an ethical dilemma. He asked how we deal with truth and disclosure. In his dilemma, he is struggling with recollections of a powerful experience and how to honestly write about and truthfully convey what he heard and felt. He wishes to honor those memories with a true account. While he believes he recalls that which was said accurately he has a concern that his own powerful feelings might cause him to overstate what he heard.

Our group’s collective experience came into play. Bill Elam offered an observation to the effect that an author’s statement that he (or she) believed the account was “true to the best of his (or her) recollection” would probably suffice. Bill did not claim expertise in the matter and did not offer that as legal advice. Bill’s observations were reinforced by Don Westerfield.  Last meeting Don announced the publication of his military memoir Echoes of Engines and Men. Don had the aid of his daughter-in-law, a retired corporate attorney in the editing and preparation of his book. He read the disclaimer she prepared for his book, which was similar to Bill’s observation, but even more extensive. Others volunteered how writers can find several similar disclaimers online. I’m sure Bill Elam would tell everyone to consult an attorney if they were seeking authoritative legal advice. Peter Frickel helped conclude this subject by encouraging Bob to get his piece written down. Then with the work in hand, he would be better able to determine the truth of his piece and any needed disclaimers.

Our discussion turned in a different direction when George Lavigne ask the group for their thoughts on the subject of characterization. A lively discussion followed with strong opinions. Ed Ellis strongly advocated detailed character descriptions. He suggested that writers prepare a detailed biographical and physical sketch of their main characters, and in describing and bringing characters to life by use of not only a physical description but also by a description of their actions as well. Ed’s engineering background was evident when he shared a reference to his blog which contains detailed lists of character traits for writers to use. Ian Schagen begged to differ with the thought that some things should be left to the reader’s imagination. Things got interesting from there with many comments and opinions from the group. Perhaps the best conclusion on the subject is that this is where each writer finds his or her place and where individual creativity answers the question. If it works for you and your readers, then you have found the answer to characterization for you.

As we wrapped up our discussion period, when asked, Peter Frickel expressed his desire to see more discussion and perhaps a more in-depth look at how we think, organize, and present our thoughts even down to sentence and paragraph writing. Peter is our master of rhetoric. We all agree his readings are a tough act to follow, and we hope to hear more from him on those ideas.

Asked to think on the general subject of our readings and critique, we adjourned the discussion with the hope additional thoughts will find expression at our next meeting.

Our first reader of the night was Doug Sahlin, reading from his detective story in progress featuring Yale Larsson and his girl Lori as they investigate a crime scene. Crisp, precise dialog and minimal word waste personify Doug's writing style.

Peter Frickel read excerpts from his published work River, currently available as an ebook on Amazon and soon too be available in print version as well.

Cecile Bell returned to our group again after a long absence, we were glad to see her and learn that she is doing well. She read several pieces written for her community newsletter sharing personal news items of and for the residents. We are glad to share her desire to celebrate her neighbors’ lives and lift their spirits.

Having introduced us to this new work at the last meeting, Bill Elam read from his story of a down-on-its-luck ocean park, Orca Reef. The plot by a greedy and ruthless out-of-state developer who covets the park's valuable acreage targets the park’s main attraction, an Orca or Killer Whale. Has the magnificent creature been framed?

Ian Schagen read excerpts from his book, A Wartime Journey Revisited. His father traveled through Europe avoiding the Nazis during an escape to England during the height of the occupation. A great story of human compassion and desire unfold.

Bruce Haedrich, our final reader for the night, read a fictional civil war letter taken from his published book, The Gettysburg Gold (available on Amazon.) Bruce shared that he'd done extensive research and readings of Civil War letters to gain a feel for letter-writing styles and use of language in the period before he wrote his own piece. His letter sure had that authentic ring to it. 

Thank you to all of our members for your support and for your participation. To our writers returning north, have a safe trip, and we hope to see you next Season. Until next time, keep on writing, and we hope to see all of you that can attend at our next meeting Wednesday, April 4th. Rod, we hope you and Betsy get well soon and that you are back with us at the next meeting.

For the Group,
Ernie Ovitz 

Thursday, March 08, 2018

March 7th, 2018

Our first meeting in March was well attended. 

Check the FWA website, 
Also for those who may be interested in writing events, we received a link to this website;

Congratulations to our own Don Westerfield on publishing his entitled Echoes of Engines and Men Memoirs of an Air Guardsman. Available on Amazon and from Don at our next meeting. Good stuff!

Three new writers came to this meeting and it was a pleasure to meet them. Welcome to Phyliss, George, and Mike.

A discussion of the events at our last meeting gave us insight into how our writers enjoyed Elizabeth Sims' presentation last meeting. The consensus was positive and most said they learned a lot from what she had to say.

The reading portion of our meeting began with Bill reading the beginning of a new project. He's sketching some ideas with a writing blast. He presented the ideas in the rough form. 
1. The Orca's Leg, explores the mind of an old Orca in captivity for many years. An interesting and provocative idea with a plethora of potential.
2. The Motorcycle Wreck, a young couple take a ride on his motorcycle after spending the week at Daytona Beach during Bike Week. Disaster strikes when a truck and the motorcycle try to occupy the same space.
3. The Old Marine Park, an aging marine park, in financial difficulty, finds itself in even deeper trouble when a young woman's leg turns up in the Orca's show-pool.
What happens next? We’ll have to wait and see what he does developing the story.

Don reveals the source of his book title when he shares these two poems, Up There and Echoes of Engines and Men. Great poems.

After rewriting the opening chapter of The Manipulator, Debbie read the latest version. Great dialog and a subtle hook. She received a lot of feedback we hope helps her move forward.

Having received the proof copy of this latest book, A Gathering of Demons, Bruce shared the cover art with us as well as the snippets of prose inspiring the burning angel on the cover. He also gave us a preview of his newest project and it looks to be a winner. Good luck!

A true experience prompted Linda to write what she does best, Life Experiences. Exercise class is not her favorite pastime. Upon arriving, with hubby, at the gym she discovers her ID card will not work. She makes a trip to the administration office and finds out the card is out of date, they changed the system about 6 or 7 months back. Has it been that long? Oh well, after getting her new card and working out, she discovers the picture on the ID is not her. Or is it? Let's look for this story in a publication in the future, it's title; Saving Face.

Peter continued with the theme Bill began with, a Simple Assembly of Ideas. 1. A physical exam involving complicated machinery and much noise prompted an idea he uses in a story he is developing. 
2. A remembrance, not of the past but of the present, leaves the reader with and eerie feeling. 
3. A dead lizard in the house provokes thoughts of life and the way we as humans rank its importance. 
4. Encounters with nature in Africa spawn thoughts of many things, how do you feel when coming on a Croc in your path while strolling beside the river? What do you think about while walking in a forest which feel the effects of first frost? A dog, his master, do you meet them on your journey?

No Such Word as Can't, is a story Lois wrote about a young girl without legs who becomes an accomplished gymnast because she idolizes an Olympic gymnast. Several years later, she discovers, her idol is also her sister.

How the Spoonbill Became Pink, is an improbable story wrenched from the warped imagination of Ian. Using a sparsely recognized religion, Pastafarian, He tells the tale of The Flying Spaghetti Monster. After imbibing in an enormous amount of intoxicant, The FSM creates a new world. Upon sobering up, he sends his nephew, Hiram, to see how the world is doing. Hiram disobeys and makes changes. Look for this story to find out what happens, it's worth it.

George, a first-time reader, shared his version of free verse poems similar to The Spoon River Anthology fare. A Vietnam Vet’s eulogy and his Grandpa’s story showed real promise and were worthy of the original publication.

We ran out of time as the meeting drew to a close and Doug did not get to read, he will lead off the next meeting’s reading segment.

Until next time, 
Keep on Writing!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

February 21st, 2018

It was a full house tonight. We came to hear our esteemed speaker, Elizabeth Sims and were almost SRO, but fortunately, we found a few extra chairs sitting around the firehouse, and the audience was seated.

Elizabeth fired up the projector, hooked up the computer, and put up with a stumbling introduction from yours truly before bringing up a poignant fact; "Writing a Book is Easy and Fun." As that statement filled the packed room, I heard the sharp intake of a collective breath. I could almost hear the thoughts in the room, What the devil are you saying, woman? Writing is hard work! Well, guess what, it’s not. Writing is the easy part, it’s what comes after the writing that’s hard.

As Elizabeth worked her magic, she introduced methods of simplifying the writing process. Get comfortable to write, enter into garret mode, and, for this exercise, Eliminate Perfection. It doesn’t matter if what you’re writing is a properly grammatic document or a page full of disjointed thoughts, get the words on paper, or a computer screen if that’s your bag. As she progressed, Elizabeth introduced some unique words to describe a few of the actions and methods she uses to get going. Writers have the ability to coin words and use them as they see fit, Elizabeth is a master at it.

Your brain is invaluable when writing, but even more valuable is your heartbrain. What the devil is a heartbrain? Well, it’s a made-up word courtesy of Elizabeth Sims and I read it to mean, it’s simply writing what you feel instead of what you know. Put emotion into your writing, let it flow. Now, how do you do that? It’s simple, don’t try. Let the words fall where they may, look for patterns in what you’re writing. How often do you find yourself repeating a theme and thinking, is this redundant? Maybe it is at this point, but there’s a story in you fighting to come out. Follow your heart, capitalize on those recurring themes.

Stormwriting is another of Elizabeth’s words. Look, it’s simple; you write up a storm. Getting started is easy, start with a thought, we all have them occasionally. Write it down and say, YES, AND or WHAT IF. Now, write, don’t try to make it grammatically correct or even necessarily coherent at this point. Have fun with it, write until you’ve exhausted the idea maker. Then take a break and relax, treat yourself to a cool drink or a nap before coming back to see what you’ve written. You’ll be surprised.

Okay, I’ve just scratched the surface of wisdom imparted in a two-and-a-half-hour presentation, I wish we could have had more time. Most of us came away with more of a bargain than we realize. It might take a few days, as we rehash in our minds much of what we heard, to capture even a small percentage of what was presented. 

Elizabeth’s book, You’ve Got a Book in You, a stress-free guide to writing the book of your dreams, is all that’s advertised. What it says on the cover promises to let the book inside of you make its way to paper. It’s not a how-to book, it’s a you-can-do book and Elizabeth knows it can be done, she’s written a shelf full of great mysteries, short stories galore, and hundreds of articles aimed at making writers better at their craft.

We thank Elizabeth Sims for sharing her knowledge and taking the time to speak with us. Be sure to visit her website,, and if you didn’t have a chance to pick up a copy of her book tonight, it’s available on Amazon or    


I know these things and write with them in mind:

Writing is Fun. I write for fun and the thrill of seeing my ideas on paper. Maybe I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up a few dollars from book sales in the process, but that is not as important as the thrill and fun of creation.

My Imagination Can Go Anywhere. Pick a location, it doesn’t have to be a real place. I can explore the working of a killer's mind as they kill with abandon, I can be a hero, a sinner, a saint, capture the bad guys, visit an undiscovered planet, or dive to the depths of a fictional ocean, all the while not moving from my desk. 

If I Don’t Like It, I Can Change It. I’ve written it but when I’m finished, it doesn’t seem real, it’s plastic, fake, unimaginative. That’s okay, another piece of paper or another few bytes on my computer is all it takes to redirect, add emotion, make it real, change the sex of a character, change the origin of the story, do anything I want, it’s my story and I have the power.

Well, that's about all my old brain can find to say right now. Our next meeting is March 7th, same time, same place. We will discuss what we’ve learned tonight as well as hear and discuss our own writings. 

Until then,
Keep on Writing

Thursday, February 08, 2018

February 7th

It’s season, we had a total of nineteen attendees at the meeting including two first-timers. We welcome Tanya and Ed, hoping you enjoyed the meeting and see your way clear to return.

We opened the meeting on time and Lois Stern announced the new 2018 Tales2Inspire subject line. It will be High Impact Kids. True stories of kids working to improve the world and way of life for those around them. A great storyline.

Bruce reminds us, the Venice Book Fair is March 23 – 24th, the 24th being the sale day and he has a table. If you wish to share it contact him or see him at the next meeting. It will cost you $75 for half the table. Visit the website,

Ed pointed out the Fort Myers Book Fair is coming March 3rd. He says it’s worth going to see what’s happening even if you don’t buy a table.

Darrian announced her story, Two Violins, has been purchased by Cricket Magazine and will be in an upcoming issue.

And finally, Ian’s new book, A Wartime Journey Revisited, is proofed and ready for print. Hopefully, he will have copies before his departure this spring.

We embarked on Stage 2 of our writing exercise. At our last meeting, we wrote a short piece in fifteen minutes including the words, screwdriver, forty-two, and purple. We had quite a wide spectrum of genres and approaches. This meeting we were asked to take those stories and pass them to the person on our left; each story was to be written again with changes designed to make it different, comedy becomes tragedy; bizarre becomes plausible; etc. Again, it was interesting to see what happened.

We had murder becoming a fashion show, si-fi becoming comedy, mundane becoming mystery, and ridiculous become even more ridiculous as a deceased woman is buried in a pilfered cemetery plot.

It’s remarkable when writers have but a few short minutes to come up with a story plot. Some stumble, some soar but, all respond.

As we moved on to the reading/critique portion of the meeting we were running a little short of time and only about half our readers could present. Next meeting, we have a guest speaker, Elizabeth Sims, noted author and friend of our group. Don’t miss her.

Doug opened the reading with a rewrite of the second chapter of his latest Yale Larson mystery. In the first chapter Yale was called upon to identify the remains of his father, a man whom he’d not seen in many years. Chapter two introduces Yale’s half-brother and leaves us wondering why he’s in the picture after not being around for years.

A Galactic traveler, along with an army of helpers bring life to suffering worlds in Ian’s latest work. However, when the traveler feels his life ending he instructs his helpers to deposit his body on a nearby small, but welcoming, planet. They bury him in a beautiful area surrounded by towering red rocks as they excavate the area and put him to rest. The local inhabitants are moved from the are lest they recall the interment. This is the “true” story of how Bryce Canyon came to be. Well, according to Ian, anyway.

With his usual aplomb, Ed brought us a poem entitled Dynamic Existence. It’s deep meaning and unusual premise makes the reader think. 

While in the poetry vein, Peter shared a group of short works, each a gem. Slow to Go, compares life with a flickering candle; Silent Like a Soldier, a requiem for small plants unable to mature; Life Widens, who I might be. In all ten poems were shared, though it took only ten minutes a lifetime passed through our minds.

Darienne debuted her new work Pleasant, about a young slave boy in 1841. A difficult subject but she does it justice. In this story, the boy must choose between friendship and freedom. A tough choice and she handles it well.

We ran out of time, so, Bill, Don, Debbie, Bruce, Linda, and Rene will have to wait until the next reading session to share their work, we know it'll be worth the wait.

Until next time, Keep on Writing,

Monday, February 05, 2018


Hello again y'all,

February is going to be a fun month. Our meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 7th, is a regular meeting and I'm looking forward to hearing some great stories. We will be doing the Second Stage of the Creative Writing Exercise. Be prepared.

At our second meeting of the month, Feb. 21st, we are honored to have as a guest speaker, internationally recognized author, Elizabeth Sims, Barring any unforeseen complications, like the flu or virus sweeping the nation.

Elizabeth is the author of the Rita Farmer Mysteries and the winner of the 2003 Lambda and Golden Crown Literary Society (GCLS) Goldie Award for Lillian Byrd Crime Series books. She is also a contributing editor for Writer's Digest magazine.

She is represented by the Donald Maass agency, belongs to several literary societies, and is a member of American Mensa.

I understand she will be speaking on her book, You've Got a Book in You and passing along tips and tricks for getting the best out yourself where it comes to writing.

I hope you will join us at our regular meeting time, 6:30 PM and bring notepad.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

January 17th 2018

Another meeting and, as usual, we had fun. 

Lois is back from New York, this is her 8th year visiting us. Debbie returns after an extended northern visit. Linda B, back from the frozen north brought her friend Linda S with her. Welcome back y'all. 

Mary joins us for the first time, we hope she enjoys the meeting making it the first of many she attends. 

After opening the meeting, we turned the proceeding over to Ian. Using techniques suggested by his son, the headmaster at an exclusive school in Great Britain, he presented each of us with a paper entitled, Creative Writing Exercise (Stage 1). We had 15 minutes to write a story including three items, a screwdriver, the number 42, and the color purple. With 15 writers in attendance, you might imagine the subject matter. Writers tend to write about things they know and understand. Subjects broached in these offerings ranged from a simple “junk drawer” in an average home, to a futuristic sci-fi offering. The exercise was fun and challenging; Part 2 is scheduled for the next meeting.

After hearing all the stories from the challenge, we moved on to readings our members brought to share. 

Peter presented a mystical piece entitled Umbachara. A young man, an unlabeled bottle of wine, and a beautiful gypsy girl without clothing, combine in a story set in a vineyard under a warm sun buffered by the shade of the vines. The first wine of the season, the most potent and flavorful, bears the name Umbachara. As the young man imbibes in the new wine and... Look for the story in an upcoming publication.

Returning to his novel following the Roman Emperor Constantine and his family, Ernie gives us a glimpse into the life of  Constantine’s wife, Fausta, as she's held captive by her father in his attempt to usurp the throne. 

Our first-time attendee, Mary, brought us a story aimed at the Young Adult market. Entitled Journey to Cape Canaveral, 2020, a young girl writes an essay of 500 words in hopes of winning a trip to watch the launch of Apollo 8 in 1968. What happens? Does she win? Does she get to Canaveral?

The Second Hand, Ed's poem, elicited a ton of comment. Questions of existence, beliefs, and the future make for an insightful moving piece.

Bill revisited the first chapter, edited to provide a canvas for his portrait of a retrospective look at a life lived to the fullest. His untitled novel shows us an Old Man and his Wife who have an impact on multiple lives throughout their history. Mystery, beautiful prose, and an intriguing plot blend to give us a story to melt the hardest hearts.

We ran a little long, not having time to hear from all our readers, we were forced to ask Ian and Doug to wait until next meeting. They will be first on the reading list. We thank all of our members for their patience as we try to give each piece time and attention befitting the effort put forth by our authors.

Well, that wraps it up for this session. Check back with us often as we will post entries when we have news.

We hope to see you on February 7th. 
Until then, keep on writing.

Monday, January 08, 2018

January 3rd, 2018

Welcome Back!

It’s a new year and our writers are as eager as ever to share their work. This meeting brought us one new face and a couple we haven’t seen in a while. Having been under the weather for a couple of months, we welcomed Darienne back and are glad to see her up and about once again. Also, welcome back Bill. He’s back in town, hopefully for more than a few weeks, we understand it gets cold in Kentucky, we’re glad he’s joined us again this year. As for the first-timer in our midst, Rene, an artist, joins us wanting to use her talents for writing. We welcome her aboard and will do our best to help her feel comfortable here.

At our last meeting Bruce Haedrich suggested a wrinkle for this meeting. So, we decided to give a try. At future selected meetings, a member will set forth a writing exercise prompt, a simple item or idea, and the group will spend 10 minutes scribbling away, coming up with something about the prompt. This week’s prompt being “a crumpled cup.” After the ten minutes it’s pencils down and we read what we came up with. I think it will be interesting, to say the least, the variety of this week’s musings was astounding.

A couple of meeting back, Doug challenged us to write a short, approximately 500 words, using one, or all, of the following words, Obsession, Possession, and Confession. Several of us accepted and read the vignettes. The results were varying and showed a range of ideas.

First up in reading items we would like some ideas on, we heard from Bill. Citing a busy summer schedule, he said finding time to write this summer was nearly impossible and he got more done in the few days he’s been back than all summer. He read a short piece of his story in which a nameless old man, equally nameless wife, and his airplane are the protagonists. Good work as usual. His work is entering the rewrite and edit stage now and it’s going to be good, a short novel which all can enjoy not just flying enthusiasts.

Ernie veered from his work on the Emperor Constantine and brought us a parable from the New Testament with a modern spin. Guests were amazed as a young man came to the aid of a woman at her son’s wedding. It seems she underestimated the amount of wine needed to fill all the glasses for the final toast. While knowing the outcome, it was intriguing to learn how Ernie found a way to set the story in this modern era.

Stepping back from his soon to be published memoir, Don shared a tale of two college friends traveling on a dark and dreary road. Once, in their college days, one of the boys, when romancing the daughter of an influential donor, told the girl his name was his best friend’s name instead. Poor judgement and the lack of proper precautions resulted in fingers being pointed at the wrong man. However, things worked out when the girl said she’d never seen the man in her life who’d been called to the Dean’s office. When a similar incident occurred some years later, a trip in foul weather ended with the pair being stranded at a remote farmhouse owned by an attractive older woman. The devious friend got his comeuppance, although not in a manner you might expect.

Reading from his book, A Gathering of Demons, Bruce tells of a young gypsy girl who sees the future and predicts chaos will reign. She has difficulty convincing others her vision is real. Who among us would be receptive to her predictions?

Wounded but Not Conquered from Ed’s “creative memoir,” depicts the experiences of an underage theater usher. His introduction to less than upstanding individuals unleashes a flood of exciting new adventures and lights the fuse of adolescent curiosity. Lord help us, we look forward to upcoming chapters.

A futuristic look at the fate of certain politicos, as seen by Ian in his piece entitled, Trump in Hell. Analyses the circles of hell while attempting to choose the appropriate castigation for the sins committed. Fantastic humor precedes a conclusion which is completely off the wall and unexpected. Enthusiastically entertaining.

We wish you all the best in the new year. Join us the first and third Wednesday of the month for entertaining interaction with fellow writers designed to help your writing as you help other writers as well.

Until then, 
Keep on Writing.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Holidays 2017

Another year has come, in a few days we will begin anew. The past year brought us some wonderful stories, saw remarkable improvement in our developing writers, and allowed us to enjoy the friendship and companionship of like-minded people. Thank you.

We participated in our annual Holiday Meeting by enjoying goodies furnished by our members, too many to list but delicious by any standard. Cookies abounded, meatballs in marinara, pierogis, candy, and tarts galore. I gained 5 pounds, well... at least I felt like I did. And, as part of our semi-annual tradition, we made our donation to the Nokomis Fire Department recreational fund. This year we collected and distributed $273 thanks to the generosity of our members. The firefighters expressed their thanks and appreciation.  

Peter announced the pending publication of his newest work. We're looking forward to the day it hits the market.

Another bit of good news, Kathleen and Tim announced their engagement. We wish them all the best and know they are looking forward to an enjoyable life together. See our Member's Link list on this page. Look for

Ellie, the youngest member of our group, read two short pieces. One, a delightful piece in which a sister and brother, probably not influenced by the relationship she has with her brother, engage in an interrogation to find a missing truth, the second addressed the challenge issued by Doug Sahlin at our last meeting. Good work Ellie.

Ian, accompanied by his delightful spouse, introduced us to the real Santa. Well, a Santa concocted in his mind but based on the Saint Nicholas of the East, now know as Turkey. In his story, the revered bishop dies and becomes a vampire. Goodness in his heart does not allow him to turn to evil. Instead, he enlists a corps of "undead" to spread his legacy of gift-giving across the globe. Both fun and intriguing, this story shows the talent of an exceptional story teller.

George followed that with reading a poem by Shel Silverstein. A young lad befriends a snowball and, unwilling to be separated from his new friend, he invites his new friend to spend the night. They snuggle in bed but, in the morning, the boy finds his friend has run away during the night. But, before he left, he wet the bed.

Don read a couple of wonderful pieces appropriate of the season. Beyond Christmas brings an awareness to our humanity we often avoid and it does so in a wonderful manner. Remembrances of  Christmas Eves looks back at some of the most wonderful times in our lives.

We took several breaks during the evening to visit the goody table.

In a story entitled Second Thought, written and read by Tim, a young man writes a suicide note; he calls a hotline and speaks to a young man about his age and has second thoughts. While retrieving the paper from his printer with plans to destroy the letter, a gust of wind sweeps it from his hand and carries it out the window to the ledge outside. It attaches to an abandoned bird's nest and flutters in the breeze. His attempt to retrieve it produces some unintended consequences. This is a must read, look for it in future publications.

In the spirit of the season, Kathleen shared her story A Christmas Surprise and although her talent is no surprise her story does supply what the title promises. 

Another break and, while all were enjoying the goodies, After enjoying a few moments in which I thanked the group for allowing me to host these meetings, I read a poem written by my lovely wife, Betsy, in years past. Then, I read the final piece of the evening, Ian's contribution to the wine challenge, Plonk. The story takes a look at the customs of societies worldwide toward wine and other alcoholic beverages in relation to minors. Interesting subject.

Our next meeting will be the first of 2018. Join us January 3rd at the Nokomis Fire Station. We gather at 6:00 PM to exchange pleasantries and the meeting opens at 6:30 PM. Hope to see you there.

Until then,
Keep on Writing!

Friday, December 08, 2017

December 6, 2017

We gathered on this second to the last meeting of 2017 at the Nokomis Fire Station and began at our usual 6:30 pm start time. Ernie Ovitz filled in for Rod and led the meeting. We agreed our next meeting, Wednesday, December 20th, would be our annual Christmas Party. We also agreed to take up a collection at that time and show our appreciation to the Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department for the use of their facility. 

We encourage everyone to bring spouses, friends, and a treat to share. As always, we remind everyone, our firefighter friends will gladly polish off any leftover treats, please don’t hold back. The food will not go to waste, though it may go to waist. 

Our annual Christmas meeting is a light, fun affair; we encourage those so inclined to bring a “Short” humorous or seasonal piece to read. The party begins with food, fun, and good conversation. We look forward to seeing all our members and hope many of our old friends come by to join in the fun. 

Doug Sahlin has issued a new creative challenge theme for the January 3rd meeting: Obsession, Possession, ConfessionHe challenges us to write a short creative piece using one or more of the three subjects. We encourage everyone to keep the story short, no more than 500 to 700 words, so everyone has a chance to read and receive feedback from the group. Our last challenge was on the subject of wine and was well received. 

Thirteen writers joined us for the meeting and everyone brought something to read. We decided to waive discussion time and get right to the readings. We were most pleased to welcome Ellie Blackden, age 13, and her dad, age not revealed, to our group. Ellie says she's excited about writing and working on a dystopian novel with plans to self-publish using CreateSpace. She brought the first draft of Chapter One to read for us. 

We typically read in order from our sign-in sheet and, as Ed Ellis arrived first, he was first on our list. His opening poem was thoughtful and thought-provoking; Ed had several requests for copies. 

Peter Frickel shared a poem, Bananas, delivered with style, diction, and aplomb only Peter can muster. He followed the poem with a philosophical monologue entitled Truth, before giving us his take on the spirit of wine with Ubachata. It was great fun, and Peter, I hope I got the spelling right. 

Jim Jacobs was up next, his piece took us to the “Twilight Zone” of Townland, a place where every man is named Sam. His concept intrigued the group as he received many comments and, we hope, helpful suggestions to take away. 

Kathleen Kilpatrick read next. She also delved into the surreal with The Persistence of Time. A story inspired by Salvador Dali's famous painting. She tells of an inheritance which leads her protagonist on a journey of discovery, finding a family she never knew and an unexpected destiny.

Our next author surprised the group with a generous gift. Bruce Haedrich brought in several copies of the newest book in his Dan Marin Mystery Series, Finding Chloe, and passed them out to the group. We thought they looked great but Bruce was dissatisfied with the cover. His dissatisfaction was our gain. I am a Dan Marin reader and highly recommend Bruce’s books to any mystery fan. Thanks Bruce!

Our readings continued with Don Westerfield as he shared another chapter from his military memoir. He had us laughing and shaking our heads in amazement at his humorous story of the jet engine that started itself. Knowing Don's penchant for storytelling, at the conclusion of his reading several members of the group asked, “Did that really happen?” He swears it did; he's never fibbed to us before. Don's chosen title is, Echoes of Engines and Men. He says he's close to having it ready for publication, something we eagerly await . 

Kathleen, our New Englander, returned to us for the season. She kept us laughing, while making a few of us blush momentarily, as we heard her story The Mud Room. Oh my, I would not want to be that fellow. The big dummy got what was coming to him, that’s for sure. I might have gotten a little red around the cheeks as it was a juicy tale in Kathleen's unique style. 

George Milburn had a tough act to follow but was up to the challenge as he shared his work in progress Living and Dying in Osprey, Chapter 3. Set in the war torn years of the early 1940’s, murder was afoot in the Village of Osprey, Florida. His protagonist, Evelyn, discovers her friend Dorothy's parents murdered and Dorothy near death. We're eager to see where George takes us as the murder mystery unfolds. 

After our 8:00 pm break, Debbie MacAvoy read Chapter 2 of her work in progress, The Manipulator. Also set in the 1940’s, Debbie’s story takes place in New York. She has the authentic New York dialog mastered and in this chapter Teddy, a New York City boy, finds himself on a farm upstate. For Teddy and his farm hosts, John and Martha, it’s culture shock to the n'th degree. The situation tests them all. Debbie asked the group for comments and suggestions. Ed Ellis and others were eager to help. We will be interested to hear what she has for us next time.  

Doug Sahlin shared his moving piece Words of Love. The discovery of letters from a loved one lost. The writing came from the heart and we thank Doug for sharing with us. 

Ed Feldman took up the wine challenge with enthusiasm. He turned it into a longer piece with the story of a successful but lonely man cuckolded by a younger second wife. The poor guy’s life spirals down until wine snobbery becomes the driving insult and ultimate final straw. Ed is complimented on his writing style and we look forward to hearing more. 

Ellie Blackman, our final reader, sat patiently through our meeting and listened to the readers with interest. Though our time was drawing to a close, all agreed we wanted to hear Ellie’s piece. She presented us with printed copies from Chapter 1. Her words painted a dark picture of civilization’s collapse. Through it all, her protagonist and dog, Buddy, manage to survive. We wonder what will happen next. We hope Ellie and her dad return to share more of her story and let us see how she progresses. Ellie, you are most welcome anytime. 

Thanks to all of our participants, and we look forward to seeing all of our Sarasota Writers at our Christmas party, December 20th.

Keep on writing.