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

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.