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 31, 2009

Happy 2010

It's almost time for the glittering ball to start its descent. I am so grateful for a New Year and a New Decade! I think Jupiter is in line for a good year! :) I'm also grateful NOT to be in Times Square with the proposed other million of revelers. Just a normal Saturday night was almost my demise! One of the drawbacks to being tiny and somewhat wobbly on your feet. To survive there without injury, one needs the brawn of a linebacker!

I wish everyone a safe and happy evening as we cross the threshold into 2010. I plan on staying home and surrounding myself in solitude and silence and finishing my new book, "Songs of the Soul." I look forward to our first meeting of the new year next Wednesday the 6th of January.

For those still learning to appreciate the words of poetry, my first love, I'll leave you this year with a poem I wrote back in August on the tenth anniversary of my husband, Jerry's, passing . . . It seems fitting to do it for him here, too.

A Decade . . . A Moment

A decade . . . a moment,
The then and the now
The time and the no-time
Only you, know the how.

How do I see you yet standing here,
Still hear your whisper ring in my ear?
How do I feel you in a current of air,
Or touch you, in your book by your chair?

Why do I ask? Does it matter at all?
So, what . . . the risk of my sanity or resultant stakes?
As long as you’re close,
So, what . . . the form that you take?

A storm or a star, a fox or a bird.
A spark of memory at the sound of a word.
Your eyes looking out from the eyes of a son,
For a new grandpup, your love of a dog instantly won.

Some days you’re vague, and some, stay right by my side.
Some days in storms you perfectly hide.
Others you soar away, and there I can’t go.
Yet, I know you’ll return riding the next rainbow.

A decade, a moment . . . our then, and our now.
Some day you’ll take me, and I’ll, too, know the how
of this me in the 'here', and you over 'there'
but today, only you know . . . the when, and the where.

And, I wait . . .

Susan Haley ~ 8/13/09 ~ Preserved by what It Is

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Newman Featured In Herald-Tribune

Our own Irv Newman was featured in the December 11, 2009, issue of the Sarasota Herald Tribune with a nearly-half-page spread about his WWII experiences. There's even a picture of a young, muscular Irv toting around a couple training bombs.

Commissioned as a second lieutenant bombardier on a B-17 Flying Fortress, Irv and his crew were scheduled to go to the European campaign. During his final flight training sessions, however, Irv was hospitalized for an ear problem. As a result, the crew he trained with was sent off to Europe without Irv.

Irv recaptured this series of events in a book he called Courage Never Known. He says, "I was this well-trained individual who never had a gun fired at me face-to-face."

Irv has also published a very humorous and thoughtful memoir called Living on House Money and has read from it at several of our local FWA meetings.

Congratulations, Irv! We hope the newspaper article will bring a pleasant spurt in sales!

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Saturday, November 07, 2009

So You Wanna Read?

The November 4th meeting of the Florida Writers turned into the Florida Readers to everyone's enjoyment! We had a great turnout for a first Wednesday meeting of seventeen! Twelve, I think, shared readings! I made it a point to watch for reactions as people were reading and I saw interest, smiles, heads nodding, in agreement, not sleep. In a couple of instances I saw rapt attention and also a few watery eyes. It's pleasing to see people loosening up and feeling comfortable in front of the group. It's not my business to a countdown critique, but I would like to say everyone enjoyed the guest of Ann Favreau, Dr. Phil Dohlbren. We didn't do a sign in sheet so I stand to be corrected on the spelling of the good Doctor's name. Dr. Phil is a retired surgeon and read a delightful story about an operating room experience, not that surgery is ever delightful, but the Doctor surely was! He was heartily invited to return.
New member, Steve Choby, introduced us to something new! The near performance of a short story he'd written about "That Dreaded Stare". A member of Toastmasters, Steve gave an idea of the art of comfortably speaking to a group of people in a most animated way. I love the diversity that our group has become.
Lara Lazenby, at her second meeting, stood up, then sat down again, and beautifully read her first effort at writing a book. All agreed she captured the voice of the seven-year-old protagonist perfectly and we anxiously await future installments. We have novelists and poets, journalists and memoir writers, kid books and compilation short story writers, and now we also have a young adult writer. What's left? We have a great group, folks.
The poets that read did their usual beautiful job. We sang songs with Terry, traveled to France with Ann, sailed a boat on rocky sea with Joe, and reveled in reflection with Jim Kelly. Joanne read a chilling account of the caverns of hell and Irv gave another lesson on "Living on House Money." Linda, our performing poet, enjoyed the first half of the meeting but the exhaustion of moving into their new home took over and she left early. Gaile sat quietly and absorbed. Gaile appreciates everything. Ed, too, offered his usual bit of humor in a comment format and Rod, like me, is still crawling back into the rut after time away. Forgive me, if I've left anyone out. Senility is setting in after all and I did this from memory with NO sign in sheet! Proves I do pay attention! But I'm not finished, so keep reading . . .
The nice thing about a diverse group is Russ and I both are of the belief that a good writer is not happy being limited to a genre box. Yes, you will have your first love, mine is poetry, and you'll also have one that you prefer to use, but you enjoy the whole art of writing when given a chance to be exposed to it. Take heart, Steve!
Keep reading . . .
Then, we have Peter! What can I say about Peter that Peter couldn't voice better? I've personally decided that if I ever hear the physical voice of God, God will sound like Peter. His voice and reading ability meanders around in meadows of magnificence. He writes that way, too! :)
And then, there is Tuck! Our novelist extrordinaire. The only one that could help fill Bart's missing shoe as Bart works temporarily on the east coast. Tuck fills both his own while filling one of Bart's. His new novel, held up to be released in January to take advantage of a 2010 release, "Sarah's Creek" is a literary classic. Tuck requested Peter to read his excerpt for him. I need say no more. When an incredible voice reads incredible writing, the room is overwhelmed.
The meeting was a huge success for me.

Ann Favreau has jumped in to help, as she usually does, and has contacted Comcast and sent me their possible suggestions to solve my email dilemma. I was SO IMPRESSED just at their response. I'm in the mindset that if I can't fight them, join them. Verizon won't even address the problem! I'll keep you posted as to the continuing saga of the Email Horrors as they emerge. Please email me details of coming events you may be taking part in. Flash fiction, Russ??
I'm happy to also announce that Sharon, our long lost assistant, will be returning on the 18th of November for our next General Meeting! Yeeeehawwww! Hey Russ, maybe we can both sneak out next time!!
Seriously, be thinking of anything the group might like to do to celebrate the holiday season. I'll open it up for discussion at the next meeting. We do have the facility now and spouses and guests would be welcome! I continue to extend our thoughts to those out with personal trials. We miss you and look forward to your return. For those still traveling . . . the weather is great! We just need a little rain! And, please, remember I have that bet on hits on my website and appreciate your help with a visit.

Remember to watch for the rainbows! Especially since I didn't edit this and it's approaching 2 a.m. :))

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Reading Meeting Update

Our "Reading Meetings" seem to be developing into a small but very committed collection of some of our best and most diverse writers. Each brought and read examples of their own eclectic works. Oddly, there were no poets this time; although there was plenty of poetic and emotion-packed prose.

Peter Frickel, who also brought his wife, Barbara, treated us with the opening segment of a new four-part allegory he is working on. As usual, Peter's prose is nothing short of poetic, even when he is writing about such mundane events as planting seeds, talking with frogs, feeling the wind, and smelling the sun-warmed soil. Peter has the ability to turn each of his many and varied life experiences into a finely wrought piece of art.

Gayle Harpan was a teacher for 30 years in the gnarly, profane, and hope-deprived inner-city area of Detroit. What she shared with us was the opening chapter of her memoir about the highs and lows, the satisfactions and disappointments, and the uplifting rewards that came from those three decades of experience. The opening chapter that she read from is titled "The Interview" and it illustrated both the uncertainty and the determination she felt as she applied for her first teaching position in Detroit. Gayle also writes books for children.

Dewey Steele loves the water and loves being on the water in a sleek and wind-steered sailboat. But there was a time when boating was new to him. It was a time when he didn't know a cleat from a jib, an aft from a starboard. But he was willing and eager to learn. That's what Dewey's story was about: that first thrilling sail up the Intracoastal Waterway. It, too, was a learning experience that probably set his life on a slightly different course. Dewey expects to write a collection of similar stories, all about sailing, and publish them in a book.

Irv Newman shared another one of his humorous and "down-to-earth" observations that he has compiled in a book that is now available for sale. This vignette had to do with funeral directors, and end-of-life decisions. You say that doesn't sound very funny? Well, you really had to be there and hear it for yourself. As an addendum to his essay, Irv also read to us his very appropriate Letter to the Editor that was published by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The letter was a tribute to another noted humorist, Art Buchwald, who died some time ago. You say that doesn't sound funny either? Too bad you missed it.

Ed Ellis has a scientific turn of mind. He feels comfortable talking about Einstein's Theory of Relativity, the speed of light, the inconsistencies of time, and all sorts of other physics-related topics. But Ed, like Dewey, is also a sailor and a water lover. His story about floating in space and time on a bobbing raft just off the beach, however, illustrated a different side of Ed's writing. It also reminded us locals of some of the things we tend to take for granted: the beach, the waves, the fresh air, the blue skies, and the ambiance of the southwest coast of Florida.

Cecile Bell gave us another peek into the book she is working on. It is a labor of love dedicated to her son who was diagnosed with diabetes at an early age. With the help, support, encouragement, and love of Cecile, her son went on to excel in numerous ways, despite the illness. Cecile's reading was a brief but touching and poignant letter that her young son wrote when he first learned of his illness. Cecile hopes her book will help other parents who have children with chronic illnesses.

I brought another flash fiction piece to read but, alas, we ran out of time. For those interested, you can find it at It's the second on the list of flashes and the title is "Star Power." Hope you enjoy it.

Thanks to Peter, Barbara, Gayle, Dewey, Irv, Ed, and Cecile for making our meeting an enjoyable time of sharing.

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


The e-zine that will be publishing another of my flash fiction stories has changed its website address. It is now If you're interested in flash fiction, or any of its permutations, click on this link. They have a batch of new stories every month. And it's free. You can't lose, right?

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Friday, September 11, 2009

Grammar Questions? Ask Grammar Girl

Want to know about capitalization rules? Single quotation marks versus double quote marks? Semicolons? Active versus passive? Serial commas? Subject-verb agreement? Troublesome contractions? Redundancy? Which versus that?

Grammar Girl has the answers for these and many other grammar questions. In fact, has 187 different articles about the tools that all of us need to (or at least SHOULD) know whenever we sit down at the keyboard. Best of all, the articles are available for free. Grammar Girl will also answer any question you send her, if she hasn't already answered that question with an article.

Check it out. You'll definitely learn something. And also send a "Thank You" email to our inhouse expert, John McCafferty ( He's the one who found the site and decided to share it with all of us. Thank you, John!

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Monday, September 07, 2009

Flash Fiction Posted

For those interested, one of my flash fiction stories was posted today on the website It's listed under "Micro Fiction" and the title is WAR. It illustrates the horrific and long-range effects that war can have, even on those who have never been directly involved in a battlefield setting. Comments always welcome.

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Self Publishing Conference

The Florida Publishers Association, Inc. will hold its 2009 Publishing Ed-U-Conference on September 26 at the Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel on Sarasota's Lido Beach. Speakers include Eric Kampmann, Midpoint Trade Books, who will talk about publishing options; Pam Lontos, who specializes in author public relations and publicity, Frank Gromling, publisher at Ocean Publishing; and Dr. Dennis Fried, publisher at Eiffel Press and a local author who sold his self-published book to Simon & Schuster.

To receive a brochure about this conference and registration information, email Betsy Lampe at Additional information is also available at

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Next Meeting

As Sue said in her last post, she'll be away for awhile so Sharon and I will be trying to fill her shoes till she gets back in October. The first thing I have to do now is remind everyone about our meeting this coming Wednesday night, Sept. 2nd.

This will be our sub-group meeting where we'll be breaking up into small groups. As we did in our first sub-group meeting, we'll continue randomly assigning members to various groups for this meeting, too. Later on, as we get to know each other and the types of writing each of us is interested in, we may switch to a more 'permanent' membership arrangement. That may be especially helpful for those who are working on book-length projects. A more permanent membership in a sub-group would allow for ongoing readings as the book-length project progresses.

In the meantime, those who want to bring something to read for your sub-group, please feel free to do so. You might also want to bring two extra copies for anyone in your group who might have a hearing problem.

Our meeting times will be the same as before. For those who want to come early, we'll have a time for chit-chat from 6:00 to 6:30. The meeting will start promptly at 6:30 and there will be a 15 minute break at 7:30. Those who prefer to leave before dark may leave at anytime. Our meetings will end no later than 9:00.

If you have any questions before then please email me at The suggestion box will be on the table at the front of the room. Suggestions and items for discussion are welcome anytime.

See you Wednesday night!

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Checking Out

Hello Everyone

I'm now at the loading the car stage and wanted to check out properly. Throughout the last two weeks, I've had several notes of good feedback about the meetings and I'd like to, again, assure everyone that Russ and Sharon are ready to make sure my absense won't even make a ripple in the water.

A couple of reminders . . . Those with books should bring them to display on the book table. Sales to each other can take place before and after the meeting and on break. My cardinal rule is writers have to support writers. That doesn't mean buying everyone's book at once or not having a favorite genre, or I'll buy yours if you buy mine. It simply means general support for an unknown or first time writer, as that is what we would like others to do for us. Call it a leap of faith, if you must.

Secondly, I feel much rewarded at the new enthusiasm being shown by the group. Now, with two monthly meetings, there is opportunity to take part and make your voice heard. Please make use of the suggestion box, come up with ideas on ways to have writing exercises and feel free to take part in discussions always bearing in mind that others might like to speak as well.

I thank those of you who are watching the blog and getting used to using as a communication tool, where to go for a meeting detail, a change or an announcement. Personal things you'd like posted can be sent to Russ and he will post them in a timely manner. Which doesn't mean instantly. Remember this is an all volunteer run Association and those in a leadership role have other jobs and other lives and responsibilities happening, too. Sharon and Russ will appreciate others possibly offering a hand to help, as well.

October 21st we will have a guest speaker, James Abraham (see previous post). I will be home for that meeting, even if I arrive that morning. I will have my laptop computer with me and will be in email contact. Hopefully, better contact than I am here! I still cannot send an email to a comcast address, and no progress seems to have been made. I'll have to deal with it when I get home. I will have phone contact with Russ and Sharon so I will be able to work and answer questions of a non-FWA nature.

I hope everyone has a great and productive two months and I hope to arrive home healed and rested. Occasionally, I will post an update here. Lastly, I'd like to give my heartfelt thanks to Russ and Sharon for how they've jumped in and helped me get this group as we've always known it could be. I'm happy to report that Lee Heitz is now home and beginning the healing process. I'm sure Russ will be communicating with all you more about that when things settle down.
I wish you all only rainbows and be happy, be safe, be writing.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Notice to Comcast Mail Users!

Well, the email bug has bitten my Verizon account again. I just learned that those with Comcast email addresses are NOT receiving my mails again. Although, I just talked to Tuck and he said he found mine in his SPAM box! I've mailed Ann Favreau, Sharon, and Dr. Pirnot, too. Perhaps, Comcast is just writing me off as Spam. This happened a couple of months ago, too. Verizon blames Comcast and Comcast blames Verizon. So much for so-called "Service" providers! I'm in favor of returning to Carrier Pidgeons! They were more dependable.

Thank you, Russ, for the excellent previous post on publishing scammers. Never be swayed by promises! They don't deliver! With the proper research, you should be able to find a 'good' Independent Publisher who is forthright, requires no timed contracts and doesn't require a certain amount of purchased books to get a good discount. The discount for authors should remain constant whether you buy one book or a hundred and one and the option should be available. Look for an Independent who owns their own printing division. The more involved, the more cuts taken before you get yours! Set-up fee shouldn't be more than a $600 base. You may pay more for varied fonts and photos. Even with these services, your costs should be laid out up front. Cover price should be based on number of pages and color or black and white printing. Not pre-set! NO publisher, traditional, small press, or independent does marketing. Advertising dollars are not risked! To get advertising from a publisher, your name better be associated with millions of book sales, a King or a Clancy. If you want a publicist, research and procure your own. Do not go with one provided by your publisher. Their first loyalty must go to the publisher, and somebody is getting a commission. Guess who. This is true with editing, as well. I've worked for publishers and you do NOT get to follow your own principles. Your editor should be independent, as well.

If you haven't read Russ' article yet, scrolling down would be worth your effort! See you all tomorrow!


Monday, August 17, 2009

Writers Versus Scammers

To say the "self publishing" concept is growing rapidly is an understatement. This past year, for instance, more writers than ever before--300,000 in fact!--published their books via the self publishing route. Next year, the numbers will go even higher. And there is no end in sight.

This phenomena was accomplished, for the most part, with the help of the rapidly growing list of "print on demand" (POD) publishers. Incidentally, there are many different terms used for these publishers: subsidy publishers, vanity publishers, self publishers, etc. Regardless of what they call themselves, they all do basically the same thing. If you send them money, they will print up your book. No questions asked.

Reality, however, always rears its head sooner or later. Despite the glowing "sure-fire Best Seller" predictions that some of these publishers make in their advertising--and despite the glowing hopes and dreams of the authors who buy into those lofty projections--most books printed through one of these publishers sells less than 200 copies. Quite often, it is far less than 200 copies. And it is the writer him/herself who has to sell every one of those 200 copies or less.

The number of copies sold, however, is irrelevant to these publishers because they've already made their money from the writer who bought their services.

Sometimes these publishers make a lot of money from those writers. And they do it by requiring the writer to buy 1,000 copies (or more) of his/her own book. They offer the writer a "discount" of course. But even with 20% to 50% knocked off the cover price, the writer in many cases is still required to hand out five to ten thousand dollars up front! In return, the writer receives several large cartons of books that stack nicely in the garage.

It is no small wonder, then, that the self publishing industry has also been infiltrated by countless scam artists whose schemes are casting a wider and wider net to rake in more and more of the writer's money. In fact, there are now so many self publishers out there that no one person can keep track of them all.

Luckily, there are also a number of websites that have dedicated themselves to turning over the rocks under which these vermin live. And they don't just turn over the rocks. These sites also shine a clear bright light on some of their seductive schemes.

One of the most reliable of those clear bright light sites is:

So if you're thinking about using one of the zillion or more POD publishers now available for your next (or first) book, research this site before you do anything else. It's loaded with information on a variety of topics, all of which relate to writers and to the wide, diverse, and rapidly growing world of self publishing, and the scams connected thereto.

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Walking Home

While you're perusing the current issue of THE PEPPER TREE LITERARY MAGAZINE, don't forget to read Gaile Harpan's story, WALKING HOME. It just might remind you of those carefree days of yesteryear when you walked to school, hand in hand, with your little brother or sister. Yes, I know, I'm showing my age but I can't be the only person in our group who actually walked to school.

Congratulations, Gaile! We'll expect to see more stories in future issues! And don't forget to share some of them with us at our FWA meetings.

(PS: I hope I haven't forgetten any other group member who has a story in the current issue of PEPPER TREE. If I have, I apologize.)

Russ Heitz

Jacuzzi Romance

As most of you know, Ed Layman is the oldest member of our group and we are proud to have him with us. At 97 he is still cranking out story after story. Continuing his tradition of having a story in every single issue of THE PEPPER TREE LITERARY MAGAZINE since its inception, Ed has another one in the August/September issue. THE PEPPER TREE is a free publication that is available at numerous sites around Sarasota County, including the libraries.

Ed's stories always bring a chuckle. His insight into human nature and his clever use of the language assures us of a treat every time we read or hear one of his stories. They are usually quite funny and cleverly written.

The story in the current issue of THE PEPPER TREE, however, is a departure from Ed's usual light-hearted look at the world. As its title suggests, JACUZZI ROMANCE, is a love story about a man and a woman and it is written with a gentle hand and a warm heart. As Ed's stories are wont to do, this one also has a tender little twist at the end.

Pick up a copy of THE PEPPER TREE at the nearest library or one of the other distribution points around the county. JACUZZI ROMANCE is on page 14 of the August/September issue.

After reading it, if you want to send Ed a note about the story his email address is

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Nuther Reminder

The Third Wednesday General Meeting is next Wednesday the 19th. For those who have a published work in print, remember to bring a 'browsing' copy for a book table. Any artists out there who would volunteer to make a sign?? I assure you, drawing is not my forte! Others may be interested in supporting your work! Throw a few extra copies in your car and any transactions can take place before or after the meeting or on break. No hawking books on the clock! That's not fair to those who don't yet have one. And, please, whoever was kind enough to supply the bell, (I can't seem to find the owner)please bring it again. I can't wait to ring the thing! :)) Time limits will be enforced. Y'all are gonna have to learn the meaning of the word 'excerpt! Three page limit with a short verbal intro of the scene. Leave 'em wanting more! That way, everyone gets a turn to speak or read. I DO include my own jabbering self in this rule. I don't want that bell ringin' at me again! :)

I'm not getting requests to be a star reader! Perhaps, I'll assign a couple! Someone who hasn't read to the group yet? I have had a few requests for Bart and Joanne to repeat their team work for those who missed it. How 'bout it, you two?


Sunday, August 02, 2009

Reads for the Next Meeting

Don't forget, at the meeting this Wednesday night we'll be splitting into groups and each group can read as many stories as its members agree to. So bring a story if you have one you'd like to read. Each group will also be doing some critiquing of the stories that are being read. Each group member should also make an effort to get to know each other, and the kind of writing each member is most interested in.

For the first meeting, we'll be randomly assigning people to groups. We'll want to keep the groups relatively small, five or six people in each. But that, and the number of groups, will depend on how many people come to this first meeting. This is an experiment so we'll see how it goes. Once we get an idea of how many genres are represented by the various groups, we may be able to divide the groups according to genre, if that seems to be something that most of us want.

Posted by Russ Heitz

Saturday, August 01, 2009

A Writing Gem

I found this little gem on the main Florida Writer website at

It's one of the most simple and most abused rules in the writing world, in my opinion. A good point to remember regardless what genre you write.

A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. -~ William Strunk, Jr., The Elements of Style ~-

While I'm here, I'll remind everyone that our first Wednesday critique meeting is this Wednesday, the 5th of August. Hope to see a lot of you there. Russ and Sharon will lead the meeting and I'm gonna be out there with all of you. I'll try to partake in each group since I enjoy all writing.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Short Stories Wanted!

Hey, all you short story writers! Venice Magazine has a call out for stories up to 2,000 words in length. Go to this address for more info, and do it NOW!

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Friday, July 24, 2009

New Venue, New Equipment

Most of the comments we have gotten regarding our new venue at the Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department have been positive. It is certainly roomier than our old library digs and we have a lot more flexibility about the number of meetings and the length of our sessions. Hats off to "chief facility negotiator" Howard, and also to his staff.

We quickly decided, however, that one of the few drawbacks of this larger room was the lack of a public address system. This was an especial problem for those of us who are hearing impaired. We have now remedied that issue by purchasing a used public address system which we will now donate to the fire department. That way we can use it for our meetings and the fire department can use it for their weekly training sessions.

Before the purchase, I did some research of the local music stores and sound-related electronics shops, as well as the Internet, regarding prices. What I found was that the price for a new unit that would be appropriate for our purposes would be between $300 and $400. All of the vendors had basically the same prices and the same equipment. Those amounts were more than we as an organization could afford since we don't have membership dues or ways of generating income beyond personal donations. I did, however, find a used public address system at a Sarasota electronics repair shop for $150. After a demonstration, I decided to purchase the equipment using, in part, the additional $75 we have recently collected from most of you. The other $75 came from my own personal funds. Additional contributions for the PA system, from those who can and want to donate, will be accepted at our next two meetings, which will be on August 5th and August 19th. Sharon Baker has volunteered to be our "tax" collector so you can give your donations to her. Thanks, Sharon!

Now, a personal toot of my own horn: one of my flash fiction stories has been accepted by the online ezine LongStoryShort ( The title of my 571-word flash is War. It is scheduled to appear in the September 7th issue. Comments or criticisms are always appreciated.

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Number #1 Pet Groomer in Sarasota!!

One of our new members, Leah Carroll, has just won the #1 Pet Groomer in Sarasota's Best for 2009!
Leah has won this award, I believe, in 2007 and 2008 as well. This consecutive stretch must mean she is where to take your adored pets for a groom!

Her salon, Lucy Locks Pet Styling and Botique, is located just south of Stickney Point Road at 7119 South Tamiami Trl. The phone number is 941-929-PAWS (7297)

Congratulations, Leah!

Leah is also working on a book, yet to be titled, addressing the common sense elements of dog training, which covers a lot more than just training. Also included, are chapters on adoption decisions, attitude, nutrition, healthy grooming and much more. She sure has the perfect location to market her books!
Leah is also an advocate of putting a halt to the substandard practices of "puppy mills". As more and more information comes forth about this so called "business", we are learning that it quite possibly may be the worst way to obtain a healthy pet. Kudos, Leah!

I hope, too, that some of you were able to catch Terry Lindemann's radio interview this morning! Terry, too, has animals at the top of her priority list. For those who don't know it, she donates the proceeds from "A Cat's Tale" to the local shelters. Her website is now on the links section!

Don't forget to email me or Russ with any pertinent announcements or news! This is YOUR blog, writers.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Generous Offer

I want to thank everyone who has made a sincere effort to check the blog frequently for new communications. It will so help my email load in answering questions regarding times and dates of meetings. However, I'm still happy to hear from anyone needing to talk to me in a more private nature. I am here to help.
More news about our new meeting agendas: Russ Heitz and Sharon Baker have generously offered to chair the new meeting and allow me to be 'just a member' in the first Wednesday gathering so I can sit in with a critique group. Of course, if one of them have a need for a night off or a need for my help arises, I will re-assume my responsibility for that time.
Their help as we've grown, has been priceless to me. There is a lot more involved in facilitating this group than is often visible to the members. Record keeping and reports to the main FWA board to name a couple. I don't think I could have continued another year without their assistance. We all owe them a big 'thank you'. I'm looking forward to the extra meeting devoted to critique.
An interesting aside . . . I did hear from Bill Walker of "Skywalker" fame today. He is walking the Pacific Coast Trail to match his feat of a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail on his first attempt. He wrote a most interesting and humorous book about that experience. Next, he had to conquer the Pacific Coast Trail replete with its own extreme challanges. He started in April and is now in the High Sierras near Lake Tahoe. He started down near the Mexican border and had to cross the desert. He's a bit worn for the wear, but determined to finish. The end is at least a reachable goal now and he is persevering. Congratulations Bill! Something tells me you'll make it with vigor to spare. For those of you who don't know Bill, he's 7' tall and his height is much more of a hindrance than a help. Perhaps, he will give us a recap when he returns in late fall.

Best to all,

Thursday, July 16, 2009

FWA Meeting Recap: 7/15/09

Welcome to the Sarasota FWA Blog!

Last night, we had a rather wild, but productive meeting. I think. :) To sum up, this is what was agreed upon by all as to a plan of action.

1: We will have two meetings a month on the first and third Wednesdays. Same time. The first Wednesday will be more geared to the subgroups of reading and critique and sharing experiences. Attendence is optional and subgroups will remain permanent and won't rotate.

2: The regular third Wednesday will be more general. The agenda will begin promptly at 6:30. Fifteen minutes will be allotted for announcements and getting to the group we rotate to. Rotation was suggested as a way to learn and share in all types of writing. You'll sign a small piece of paper and drop it in the suggestion box and names will be drawn at random for each group to achieve a healthy mix. Once we do this a couple of times, it should go fast.

3: At 6:45 we will devote one hour to the subgroups. How each group is run will be determined by that group. I would suggest some kind of leader being appointed to maintain fairness and order at both types of meetings.

4: At 7:45 we'll take a short five minute break (also suggested to me) and then reconvene into one group. At 7:50 we'll have two or three "Star" readers who will have five minutes to read and five to receive comments. Star readers are asked to bring five copies of what they'll read for those with any hearing difficulties. It was unanimously agreed that time will be clocked and at the 'bell' the reader can only finish the sentence they were reading. Several have agreed to bring timers. Or Sharon can be the time keeper to avoid confusing bells. Not all time keepers are precise. A 'team' will be counted as two people. We'll lead off with Bart Stamper and Joanne Phillips demonstrating how a prose excerpt can inspire a poem or vice versa. Sharon and I did that last night. It's interesting, and possibly inspiring, to see how two different genres can blend. Next, will be the Gardiner Girls. :) Karen Gardiner is an expert on holding to time limits as low as thirty seconds. She does it in her work. And has promised to keep Chellie and Margaret under control. :)

5: At 8:30 we will close the meeting with a discussion period based on questions or ideas drawn from the suggestion box as time allows.

6: This morning I received a suggestion from Peter that everyone write a 20 words or less sentence on just EXACTLY what they came to FWA hoping to find. This can be placed in the suggestion box (I'm thinking of getting two) to help me do my job in making sure all get what they came for. Any found interesting and not mentioned before could be used in discussion.

7. It was also unanimously agreed that all would make an attempt to start checking the blog for updates and announcements. The link is on your email sheet as well as in the auto-signatures of both Russ and my emails. Anyone is encouraged to add it to theirs. Many writers don't take advantage of the auto-signature feature on their email service. It, too, is a great networking and promotional tool.

I'd like to report that we have collected an additional $65 toward a microphone. Russ, with guidance from Linda, is shopping for a good mic at a reasobable price. This, too, will be a donation to the Fire Department and left for their use as well as our own. If we ever change locations, it will be left for the FD. And still some have not paid. I'd like to thank Terry and Carol for additional donations over and above their five dollars. We really have gotten a great deal on this facility. Sharon suggested that if we want to have a holiday party, we can all contribute to that separately. I'd like to thank Ed Lyman for the treats he brought last night. I'm going to check on the cost of a 20-cup percolator as well. So far, the FD has been given a check for $100.

An aside - Russ, Tuck, Terry, and I all use the same website builder. She's good and she is personal, AND she's one of the most reasonably priced techs I've ever come across in ten years in this writing business. She can do a simple three page site or she can do one like mine that is massive with music, trailers, and color photos abounding. We all pay the same hosting fee of $4.99 a month to Go Daddy! And you still have full design control as to visual, audio, frequency of updates, and features. I'll be happy to share her contact information if anyone is interested.

Email me or Russ with any news, articles of interest, or announcements for the blog.
Thanks for all of your cooperation. Things have gotten chaotic on occasion as we grow and evolve. :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


The link I gave below was incomplete and therefore did not light up. Let me try it again.

I will dock myself an automatic ten points for this error.

New Words = New Ideas

As writers, we have a special love for words. All sorts of words. Words that generate all sorts of meanings, colors, shadings, definitions, emotions, and images. If we didn't love words, we probably wouldn't be writers. So it is always exciting to discover new words, unusual words that we can use in our stories and articles.

Thanks to John McCafferty, one of our group's most experienced professional writers, we can now add a whole passel of new and scintillating words to our writing and speaking vocabularies. All we have to do is click on the link listed below and we'll be whisked away to a preview of some of the words that Mirriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition has added to their new collection. Words like:

Acai -- a small, dark purplish fruit from Central and South America

Fan fiction -- stories involving fictional characters that are written up by fans and posted on the Internet

Locovore -- one who eats only foods grown locally

Missalette -- a shortened form of a missal published periodically for congregational use

Webisode -- an episode of a TV show that may or may not be telecast but can be viewed at a Web site

Your homework assigment for this week is to look up the following words and work each of them into at least one conversation every day this week. Piece of cake.

Pharmacogenetics, flash mob, green-collar, reggaeton, shawarma, viog, and naproxen.

We will NOT be grading on a curve. However, all of these words and their definitions can be found on this link. So it is, in effect, an OPEN BOOK QUIZ. This site will also give you the correct audible pronunciation of every word, so you won't have to sound like an illiterate bumpkin every time you use them. The link is:

Good luck on the Quiz!

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Our FWA Blog is a great place to make announcements for the members of our group. Our FWA motto is "Writers Helping Writers". One way we can do that is follow the blog and support the signings and events of fellows. Someday it may be your turn! Imagine how it would feel without the support of your group behind you! Send announcements to me or Russ and we'll get them posted. I've just received one from Terry Lindeman and it is a good example of being concise, and to the point. As time goes by and our new group venue becomes comfortable, it's my goal to have each of us familiar with all the talent we have amongst us. That will eliminate spending too much time coming up with bios and histories to make an announcement. With so many new and enthusiastic members, it may be time to have a short indoctrination to the principles of basic networking. Many of us are living proof that it works when applied. Following is a well-written announcement.

Terry (Lindy) Lindeman will be a guest on Karen Meyer's radio show, "All About Women" on WENG 1530AM and 107.5FM (A CBS Affilliate) on Thursday, July 23 from 11:05 to 11:50 a.m.. "All About Women" showcases local women who are involved in Not For Profit activities that benefit the community.

I will add a comment to the announcements so that everyone can start to learn what each of us 'do'. Terry's adorable, beautifully illustrated Childrens Books qualify for the show as she donates all the proceeds to the animal shelters! What a thoughtful thing to do in a time when the shelters are struggling as numbers increase and donations dwindle in the precarious economy. If you have children or grandchildren, what a great way to teach them about pets with a darling reading gift, and support the shelters and Terry all in one fell swoop! There really is so much to learn from our animal friends. Terry's books excell in this mission. She's a most talented author of books for kids from 3 to 10. I can vouch for that.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Sucessful Transition

Hello to all!

After continually advising folks to read "The Blog", I apologize for being remiss in getting a post-meeting comment up here. Upon finally, being able to have a fully functioning E-Mail service, I'm afraid I got caught up in dealing with the backlog of piled up correspondence.

Our first meeting at the Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department was well attended. First, I'd like to welcome all the new faces and thank everyone for coming. I was thrilled to see the growth of attendance by the poets. Other than the normal wrinkles which always seem to accompany the unpacking from a trip, along with the venturing home through Nature's display of fireworks, all went well. I'd like to thank all the readers for their great contributions, and reiterate my praise for Rita Barry, who I believe impressed everyone after of months of relative silence and rapt attention to others.

I've received a suggestion that we have a 'suggestion box' of input and possible questions to be discussed in a question and answer segment. Upon pondering that idea coupled with others suggesting smaller critique groups, I do believe we'll try something new at the July meeting. In the beginning with Ed's return, we'll lead off with Ed's Story Time read by Linda White, which is a tradition now. Then, we'll break up into smaller groups of genre-type writers and devote an hour to critique of small portions or excerpts so that more can be involved. It will be up to each sub-group how they want to do it. Each group can select their own leader or set time rules and procedure. I will keep my role out of that portion.

At 7:45, we'll re-join as one group and the last hour will be devoted to whatever is in the suggestion box, or asked on the spot. With an agenda of this type, more will get to take part, more time will be spend on the craft of writing, and camaraderie will increase as people get to know each other better.

I would appreciate comments of a yeah or nay nature on this proposed agenda without expectation of reply. I am entirely too bogged down with individual emails. If you have a specific question of a general nature, please write it on a piece of paper and toss it into the suggestion box when you arrive. If it's of a private nature, then of course, feel free to email me.

At discussion time, I'll just start reading them at random. You needn't sign your name if you'd rather remain anonymous. The only thing I wouldn't address is a critical remark about someone else's work, or using someone else to illustrate a negative. We aren't there to desparage each other, but to encourage. Yet, we are also there to learn! Sufficient time for both these elements is going to have to be allotted or people will lose interest.

I have arranged for a guest speaker for the month of October when everyone returns from summer traveling. More on that later.


Thursday, June 04, 2009

Another Barry Recipe Published

Rita Barry, one of our group's new and talented writers, has had another one of her international cuisine recipes published on the "Where and What In the World?" blog. This blog is published by well-known writer and food expert, Bree Hill, and is aimed at a world-wide audience interested in extraordinary destinations, food and wine, and assorted topics related to travel.

Bree says Rita Barry's Spicy Almonds recipe "has a Moorish feel about it, reminds me of the Andalucia region of Spain. ... The rich color of the soy sauce and the flavor of cayenne pepper bring together a delicious mix of tastes." The entire mouth-watering recipe is available on the "Where and What In the World" blog at

Rita Barry's Dessert Blueberry Cups is also available on the same website as a June 1st blog entry. Try both recipes for your next get-together. You're sure to get rave reviews from all your guests.

Rita is also working on a book of recipes that she expects to publish in the near future.

Congratulations, Rita! And consider yourself a valuable addition to our Sarasota Chapter of the Florida Writers Association! We'll look forward to hearing more about your writing progress at our next meeting.

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Monday, June 01, 2009

New Meeting Place

Just a reminder: our new meeting place starting Wednesday evening, June 17th, will be the Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department's conference/training room. The Fire Department is located at 111 Pavonia Road in Nokomis just off Route 41 (Tamiami Trail). The meeting will start at 6:30 and end about 9:00.

For those coming from Sarasota and north county, Pavonia Road is just south of Albee Road at the flashing yellow emergency vehicle lights. Turn right onto Pavonia Road.

For those coming from Venice and south county on Route 41 (Tamiami Trail), cross the Shakett Creek Bridge and turn left at Albee Road and then come south again on Route 41. Turn right onto Pavonia Road. There is an opening in the median at the flashing yellow emergency lights for north-bound vehicles but that is for emergency vehicles only. It should not be used to turn left off Route 41 onto Pavonia Road.

A prominent landmark at the Albee Road crossing is the large Matthews-Currie Ford dealer on the east side of Route 41.

The Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department is on the left side of Pavonia Road. Our meeting room will be in the second tan building. One of our members will be outside of the building to give directions. There is plenty of parking space just beyond the second building.

This is an excellent facility for us and we are very fortunate to be able to reserve it for our Wednesday night meetings. As Susan told you, our group as a whole has donated $100 to the Fire Department for the use of this facility for the coming year. This is an exceptionally low price and one that we should all be grateful for. The room will also be available to us for special events at other times, as needed. Bring your suggestions to the next meeting.

For those of you who would like to donate $5.00 to help us pay for this room, please bring the money to our next meeting on June 17th. For those who have already made their donation, a big THANK YOU to each one of you!

See you June 17th.

Susan Haley/Russ Heitz

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ed Lyman

For anyone I might have missed in our general mail-out, Ed Lyman, our 96-year-old Writer Extraordinaire, lost his last close family member this past week. His beloved daughter, Jane, died after a brief illness. The obit notice was published in the Sarasota Herald Tribune today, May 22, 2009.

If you would like to send a card or flowers, Ed's snail-mail address is 1265 Flying Bridge Lane, Osprey, FL 34229. His email address is

If you would like to call Ed, his phone number is 918-8583. Memorial donations may be made to TideWell Hospice.

While Ed is an excellent writer, he depended on his daughter for many of the computer skills the rest of us take for granted. For instance, he knows how to receive and open emails but he doesn't know how to send them.

If someone would like to volunteer a few hours to help Ed become more familiar with the computer skills he will continue to need, please feel free to phone him at 918-8583. He will be immensely grateful.

Ed and his witty stories have been an important part of our local FWA family for several years and he is looking forward to our next meeting, which will be held at our new meeting place: the Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department, 111 Pavonia Road in Nokomis, on June 17th from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. Despite this change in venue, our meetings will continue to be held the 3rd Wednesday of every month. As usual, a reminder will be sent out to our members prior to the next meeting on June 17th.

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Sunday, May 03, 2009

McCafferty Pens Feature for Local Paper

John McCafferty, a member of our local Sarasota chapter of the Florida Writers Association, recently wrote a feature article that has been published in the current edition of the Venice Gondolier Sun newspaper. The article shines a compassionate spotlight on a young man named Garret Frey who was severely injured in a motorcycle accident in 1987. Since then, Garret has been a quadriplegic who is totally paralyzed and must depend on a respirator for every breath.

Despite his physical limitations, however, Garret has recently published a book titled AS I AM. In the book, he talks about his life as a quadriplegic and how he has utilized his disabilities to make the lives of other handicapped persons richer and fuller. Garret and his mother even appeared before the Supreme Court of the United States. The appearance resulted in a ground-breaking decision that "Set a precedent of access to public education for thousands of handicapped children throughout the nation."

Garret Frey, along with his mother Charlene and Sarasota Psychologist and mentor Dr. Karen Pirnot, will be sharing their story Tuesday, May 5th, at the Venice Public Library, beginning at 3:30. That is also the date of Garret's 27th birthday and his 23rd birthday since the accident.

As McCafferty says in his article, "Only the person with the disability really knows what it is like to live day-to-day as a quadriplegic, but Frey shines a bright light on that mystery in his book."

Please plan to attend this inspirational event.

And congratulations to John McCafferty for his excellent article!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

John McCafferty - A Special Tribute

Sarasota's FWA member, John McCafferty, is a quiet, rather subdued man, but he is a people person extrordinaire. Whenever a need arises to help someone, promote something worthy, and devote time and effort above and beyond the call of group loyalty and assistance, I call on John.

I did so recently in my effort to help promote an amazing young man by the name of Garrett Frey. Garrett, due to an accident as a small child, was rendered a life of quadraplegia paralyzed from the neck down. Along with help and devotion from his mother, Charlene, and a local resident and Child Psychologist, Dr. Karen Pirnot, Garrett has accomplished things that no able-bodied person could even comprehend. Dr. Pirnot, an author in her own right, has dedicated a large portion of her life to working with Garret Frey. Now, with her assistance, one of Garrett's fondest goals has been met. He has written a life story that stands alone in stories of one life's accomplishments in his recently released book, "As I Am".

So, what does all this have to do with John McCafferty? Anyone who can get their hands on a copy of the Venice Gondolier for Saturday, May 2nd will see. John has provided, through hours of work and dedication, a full page story with continuation on two more pages of Garrett's new book and his special appearance at Venice Library next Tuesday, May 5th, at 3:30 p.m. The editor of the Venice Gondolier, Kim Cool, respects and values John's past community services with his stories so much that publication is a given if John presents her with a valid storyline. I want to thank the Kim and the Gondolier, as well.

My personal thank you to John cannot be adequately expressed in a blog post. I would ask with a grateful heart, that if anyone should read this message and find themselves able to attend the event for this remarkable young man, your presence is heartily hoped for. If it is impossible to attend, please do make every effort to obtain a copy of the Gondolier and read the work of one special man's telling of another special man's appearance in our community.

Too, Sviat at the Sanddollar Bookstore at the corner of Miami Ave and Nassau in downtown Venice is featuring "As I Am" at his store to coincide with the event. Sviat and the Sanddollar, also a friend to all local authors. Thank you, Sviat.

Lots of rainbows in our town . . .

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spotlight on Susan Haley

For those of you who want to know more about Susan Haley, the facilitator of our local FWA chapter, there is an excellent and informative interview with her on a blog that is coordinated by Bree Hill. Bree is a sometimes-resident of Sarasota, a book reviewer, a world traveler, and an excellent writer in her own right.

This interview may be especially helpful to our new members who are wondering just who this Susan Haley is? What has she accomplished? What are her goals? And how did she end up as our local "den mother?"

Click on the following link for the answer to these and to the many other questions that might be floating around in your head.

Submitted by
Russ Heitz

Sunday, April 05, 2009

One of the most advantageous benefits of FWA membership is statewide coverage of our publicity announcements. The link to our own Sarasota blog is on the main FWA website. Anyone browsing there in this area will click on our blog. So we help ALL FWA members when we share our announcements from group to group.
An FWA member in the Fort Myers group will be signing and discussing her new novel "The Ride" at Barnes and Noble here in Sarasota next Saturday, 4/11/09 from 1-4. Let's try to support each other and visiting FWA members, as well. Anyone looking for an Easter Gift for an adult? Maybe a visit with Jane on Saturday would end your search.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

What Russ Heitz's Interview Taught Me.

Folks, it was my intention last night, at the FWA meeting, to relay a few pointers I picked up from listening to Russ Heitz’s Internet Radio Interview on January 27, 2009. We know that Russ is an extraordinary writer with his works encompassing many different genres. So, when the Interviewer asked Russ what advice he would pass on to new writers, I listened.
Russ advised that all new writers should always work with a detailed outline. I tried to skip this part when I sat down to write a children’s chapter book. I was anxious to start writing. I prepared a brief outline. Not good, fellow beginners. When Russ says “detailed,” he is saying it for a reason. After I wrote three Chapters, I found I was floundering. Why? I jumped from one scene to another, leaving out important details that were needed for transition. So, it was back to the drawing board for me – I spent trillions of hours developing that “detailed” outline, the effect of which sent me flying through chapters.
Prompted by the interviewer, Russ relayed that the hardest part of writing a book is getting through the initial First Draft and that the “fun part” is the rewriting. Yup – that First Draft is a killer. Novices must understand this. If they do, they will not give up, as so many do. I rewrote six times and, guess what novices, it is fun. Never in a million years, after writing that First Draft” did I think I would have fun. I dreaded the thought of having to go back and make changes. I didn’t think I had it in me, was capable of offering anything else. Once I began, though, and saw that changes improved the flow, I took off like a bat out of “that fiery place.” And, I had fun.
Russ then told the Interviewer that the biggest hurdle a new writer must face is rejection. I'd read this over and over again in all those “How To” books. To hear a writer as prominent as Russ say this, substantiated those words – making them credible. Yes, we must be prepared for the obstacles that our established authors warn us about.
Just one more important piece of information that Russ conveyed to the interviewer regarding marketing literature. Russ said (maybe not word for word), “Used to be you would write (and that’s it). The publisher would publish. Publishers today now want you to get out there and market your own book.” I was flabbergasted to hear this. I knew this was true of Independent Publishers, but not Traditional. Unfortunately, I see a future where those with creative talent will have to suppress that talent because it will be impossible for them to put the proverbial “food on the table.” Writing takes an enormous amount of time; selling takes more. Only the chosen few authors will be able to make a living from their talent. The rest of them will be left only with their dreams.
Reality – we must succumb to it and then work with it to our best advantage. We all can do this – “Yes we can” because we have the best resource of all to teach us how – The Florida Writer’s Association. As Russ explained to the Interviewer, this organization is all about “writers helping writers.”
You're amazing, Russ. Thank you! Your Interview helped me and I now hope these few points from your interview will help others.
Linda M. Malloy

Friday, March 20, 2009

Hats Off To Susan Haley!

I attended my second Sarasota Chapter Florida Writers Association meeting last night - Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - at the Gulf Gate Library. I left "inspired." I left "hopeful." The contributions of the participants gave me an opportunity to gain a wealth of knowledge regarding the writing world. I am grateful to Susan Haley, our FWA leader, for leading well. In my lifetime, I have attended many meetings that were not well conducted, not organized and carried an agenda that was not well thought out. When that happens members often leave frustrated and angry with no knowledge gained and/or nothing accomplished. That was not the case with this FWA meeting. Why? Exemplary leadership.

Thank you, members, for sharing your thoughts, ideas and work.

Thank you, Susan, for your leadership and for all of the time and effort you devote to this organization.

Linda M. Malloy

Friday, March 13, 2009

How To Structure A Novel

Madeline Mora-Summonte wants to pass on some info about a course coming up at the Sarasota County Technical Institute. It should appeal to a number of writers in our group, especially those interested in learning more about getting published. The course is called HOW TO STRUCTURE A NOVEL SO EDITORS & AGENTS WANT IT. A brief description of the course is as follows:

"No matter what genre they write in, beginning novelists who rely on words alone to tell their stories always find their manuscripts rejected by agents and editors. In this workshop, learn the vital framework that determines whether a novel is published or rejected, how to tell if what they've already done has that framework, and what to do if it doesn't. Strictly a nuts and bolts workshop for writers who are serious about getting published. NO critiquing or discussion of story idea. FEE FOR THIS CLASS IS NONREFUNDABLE."

TIME: Saturday, April 18, 9:00am till 12 noon
LOCATION: SCTI, Portable I-1
COST: $23.00
INSTRUCTOR: Blaize Clement (well-known mystery writer who has several traditionally published books to her credit)

For those unfamiliar with ACEC the letters stand for Adult & Community Education Center. And please be aware that you must register ahead of time for this workshop. Seating is limited. And you must register through ACEC, NOT SCTI. Just go to the ACEC website listed below, click on "One Day Workshops" and scroll down to "How to Structure a Novel So Editors & Agents Want It."

For more info go to:

Thanks for the info, Madeline. Sounds like an interesting workshop!

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Friday, February 20, 2009

Meeting 2/18 updates and site links

Hello Group!

I'm happy to report we had a great meeting on Wednesday. Welcome to the potential new members and guests and also the returning members who'd missed a couple of meetings. Based on my feedback, everyone is enjoying the time set aside for readings and discussions and more and more are signing up to take part. I already have my first reader for March. Two places to fill, so get me your request asap. I take them in order of receipt. Patti will continue her 'novel saga' which we've all come to look forward to.
There was great interest shown in the opportunity to submit work to Julie Milton, the Executive Editor for Scene Sarasota magazine for her new Web Access Only project. She is accepting short stories up to 3000 words, essays, and poems. Names and a short bio will be included in the print magazine contents and your work featured on the website. She must receive submissions by the 20th of each month. If you'd like to take part send by document attachment with submissions in the email subject line to:

For the nature and garden lovers be sure to check out for the contest guidelines. The entry fee is unbelievably low at $10 for 3-5 poems and $10 for an essay. You can enter both categories. RAF is a non-profit organization based in Redlands, California that does great work in preserving nature and sharing its bounties with the infirm in the form of floral bouquets delivered to care centers. The contest is worth supporting for that reason alone. Check out their site:
Any further questions on either publication, feel free to email me.

Thanks to all for their interest and support of our local FWA Chapter. It is a true example of "Writers Helping Writers".


Monday, February 09, 2009

You Never Know Whose Eyes Are Watching!

For those of you who think nobody looks at our blog except a couple of us local FWA-ers, guess again. The following response came after I posted the brief blurb about the current Writer's Digest issue that focuses on self-publishing:

"Dear Russ,
I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for the kind recommendation of our March/April issue to the FWA Sarasota Writers Group. I came across your post on, and was so happy to hear that you found it informative and that it provided the kind of overview we were aiming to deliver!"

The note was signed:
Jessica Strawser
Editor, Writer's Digest
Cincinnati, Ohio

So ... a word to the wise: One never knows WHOSE eyes are watching! So send in those submissions!

Russ Heitz

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Never Give Up!!

The words Never Give Up are a bottom line message in my own novel, Rainy Day People. I'm sensitive to that quest for personal reasons. I had a great email from Russ Heitz and I felt compelled to share it with the group and all writers. Read on . . .

"Before Christmas I made a gift shop run of Venice, Sarasota, Anna Maria, Holmes Beach, and Long Boat and Siesta Keys, trying to place my book Krazy Kritters of Florida for the Christmas shopping season. The interest was disappointingly slim. However, yesterday I got a call from the Island Bazaar Gift Shop in Holmes Beach. The owner recently found my flyer on his desk, called me on the phone, and promptly ordered 12 copies, all signed, and with the little "Autographed Copy" stickers on the front. So you never know when one of the many seeds you scatter will find a little patch of fertile ground. Never give up!"

Great news! I hope my yappin' at Russ about this 'persevere' premise all the time helped. I have great faith in his abilities and if anyone out there isn't aware of Russ' writing talents, I suggest you visit his website and look in to acquiring one of his books.


Spotlight: Self Publishing

If you still have a lot of questions about self publishing, and who doesn't, beg, borrow or buy a copy of the new March/April issue of Writer's Digest. The magazine has dedicated a good portion of its space to the many different aspects of self publishing. Some of the subjects they cover include PODs, e-books, editorial services, self publishing statistics, books made to order, POD cookbooks, self publishing awards, etc. etc. This issue provides a very good overview of the whole world of self publishing and contrasts it to traditional publishing. Check it out. You're bound to learn a thing or two.

Russ Heitz

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Now THAT'S called Perseverance

Mystery Writers of America (MWA) recently named two writers as their co-Grand Masters for 2009. Sue Grafton is one half of the winning team. The other half is James Lee Burke who has written more than 25 mystery & suspense novels. But he did NOT start out as a Grand Master. In fact, his novel The Lost Get-Back Boogie was rejected 111 times over the course of 9 years! When the book was finally published it was quickly nominated for a Pulitzer Prize!

Later, Burke was the recipient of the Breadloaf and Guggenheim Fellowship and two of his titles, Heaven's Prisoners and Two for Texas were made into movies. He has also won MWA's Edgar award twice in the category of "Best Novel."

So the next time you think about shoving that Great American Novel of yours into the bottom drawer, remember James Lee Burke. Rejected. 111 times.

Russ Heitz

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Brush-up Time?

From time to time, we all need to brush up on adverbs, adjectives, misplaced modifiers, and a whole bunch of other stuff that we may have forgotten from English 101. John McCafferty suggests a good place to start is Among other things, the site features eight lessons assembled by the grammar consultant for the Tallahassee Democrat Ron Hartung, assisted by Gerald Grow, professor of journalism at Florida A & M University.

The site also "offers more than 2,000 free, self-instructional exercises for journalists, writers, editors," and anyone else who wants to "review (or learn) journalistic language, as governed by the Associated Press Stylebook."

Check it out. It'll show you how much you've forgotten. The multiple choice questions will also help you become a better writer, regardless of your genre. All the lessons are free, too. All you have to do is sign in. Such a deal ...

Russ Heitz

Friday, January 09, 2009

Toot Your Own Horn

One of the nice things about having our own FWA local chapter BLOG is that it gives us all a chance to toot our own horns every now and then. And a good opportunity it is, since there aren't too many folks around who'll toot your horn FOR you. So whenever anything happens in your writing life that you're proud of, or want to share with the rest of us, send the info to Mike Durr at, Sue Haley at, or Russ Heitz at Any one of us will be DELIGHTED to post your good news for all to see.

And to show you how it works, I'll toot my own horn right now. BEEP-BEEP!

If any of you ever listen to Internet radio stations check out A local interviewer named Joe has been interviewing local writers and broadcasting the interviews WORLDWIDE via the Internet and Radioearnetwork. I was interviewed recently and the interview will be coming up online later this month. At first my interview was scheduled for January 20 at 11 a.m.!! And I thought, Oh, great. That's about the time everyone in the Western World and a good part of the Eastern World will be watching and/or listening to Obama's Inauguration. I'll be lucky if 2 people hear my interview. But then, thank goodness, my interview was moved to Tuesday, January 27th at 11 a.m., with a repeat on the 29th at 7 a.m. So if you're at your computer at either of those times go to That is, if you're interested. If not, forget I mentioned it. But don't ask me to listen to YOUR interview either!

The interview will also be available sometime soon on my website, thanks to Ray Ryder, another one of our local mystery writers. If you'd like to be interviewed and have that interview broadcast World Wide, contact Susan Klaus at Susan Klaus has published a couple fantasy books that especially appeal to the ladies. "I haven't met a woman yet who doesn't like my books," Susan says. Susan belongs to both the Authors Connection group and the Sarasota Fiction Writers, as does Ray Ryder. Ray, by the way, will be appearing at the St. Pete Book Fair later this month. For more info about that event, contact Ray at

Now, see how easy that was? I not only tooted my own horn, I tooted a couple other horns as well! And before I forget. Our own Writer Emeritus In Residence John McCafferty is the one who suggested we post some info about online writing courses. (See the previous article.) So let's hear it for John. BEEP-BEEP!

Russ Heitz