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, December 19, 2010

Win a Kindle ... and More!

Kerri Dieffenwierth passed along a website that she thought might be helpful to our devoted and versatile group. It's sponsored by the Gotham Writers Workshop in New York City. Their website is

This particular group is a wide-ranging source of information that covers just about every genre and every skill level. The site currently provides information about a variety of writing contests, one of which will be giving away to the winners IPads, Kindles and other eReaders. The site also has a list of How-To books for writers, plus up-to-date news about the publishing industry. As its web address suggests, the site is also the gateway for numerous writing classes.

Check it out. And win an IPad. Maybe. Or a Kindle. Maybe. But what was that old saying? "You can't win if you don't play." So give it a whirl.

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Wolfman Photos Wanted

For those of us who were at our mid-November meeting, FOX & QUILL editor, John Wolf, gave a very informative and interesting presentation about how us writer-folks can use our computers more effectively. He also sang a song that he wrote especially for our leader Susan Haley. In return, he'd like a favor from us.

Did anyone at the meeting take any pictures of John giving his presentation? Or of John eating cake? Or of John playing the guitar? Or of John, period?

If so, contact him at


Posted by
Russ Heitz

Monday, December 06, 2010

Nineteen Day 'Til Christmas

Hi All -

Like you need a reminder - right? :)

I feel fortunate to have hobbled into an only December meeting last Wednesday evening. I truly appreciate the kudos offered me for this past year which has been a bit off pace for me as you all know. I hope you all have a wonderful Holiday Season regardless how you choose to celebrate it.

Kerri has forwarded me the information on the Poynter Institute out of St. Petersburg's live bi-weekly chats. Anyone who has had interest in the world of writing is most likely familiar with the name "Poynter".

The host of these *Free* live chats is Roy Peter Clark, vice-president and senior scholar at Poynter Institute. Mr. Clark is the author of "Writers Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer." Kerri recommends them higly as Roy is there to offer encouragement, direction and answer specific questions you might have. All with a sense of humor which is a much needed element when learning the stresses of presenting your best work. Yes, work! Good writing is hard work and requires dedication to always improve.

The topic of the next live chat to be held on December 16th at 3 p.m. will be "How to Pace My Writing to Create Strong Middles and Great Endings." I've always referred to it as balance. I do believe all writers are challenged with the middle of a story. Say you have a great 'hook' opening and an edge-of-the-seat ending. It's crucial to hold the reader's interest in the valleys inbetween.

For more information about the chats and signing up, visit What I find especially nice about this method of learning is that you can participate in the comfort of your own home.

As my feeble bones are able, I will continue to post throughout the month. If anyone has something they'd like to have included on the blog, feel free to send it in to me.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving & A new link!

Happy Thanksgiving Day to all of us at the Sarasota Chapter of FWA!

I apologize for being so slow in getting a recap up here of last week's special meeting! Our long-awaited meeting with Jack Wolf from San Diego, editor of The Fox and Quill our "West Coast Connection" was a great success! Personally, I was thrilled that it all finally came together and I thank Jack so much for making such a long journey to meet us!

We had a great turnout of twenty-five for the special event! Four members were out of town and did check in sending their regards. The Fire Chief was immensely helpful in providing Jack with the equipment to present his wonderful Power Point workshop and Linda White was kind enough to provide him with a guitar to seranade us with a special song adapted just for me! I was quite touched by that effort. Dahris Clair and her husband, Carl, traveled down from New Port Richey bringing us two "Dahris' Special Homemade Pumpkin pies for refreshments. What a gal!

For those interested in the 'future' of book publishing, Jack's workshop was a wealth of information about the many possibilities. It is the way the industry is going, so we have to learn it or be left in antiquity. I can already hear my bones creaking! Jack's enthusiasm is inspiring, though, and with some help I think we could all learn the basics. I hope he puts it all on a CD or something! Some of you, like Russ Heitz and Dahris Clair, are already on the 'move'. Russ' new series will all be presented in E-book format. I look forward to his formal announcement of available e-books. Dahris' E-zine, The Infinite Writer is our "Right Coast Connection!"

It was wonderful to have Gordon Tucker "Tuck" at the meeting and we all hope he continues to improve from his extended illness. I'm really thankful and proud of how our group has grown and developed such a sense of 'family' and enthusiasm. Thank you, all.

If you'll look to the left, I have added Kerri Dieffenweirth's link to our list. Kerri's site joins those of us who had our sites constructed by Kathy Killam out of Denver. She's been a boon to all of us less than electronically gifted and has the software to do it. Be sure to check out Kerri's new site and Jim Kelly's if you haven't already. Kris Palmer and Peter Frickle will be next, I believe. It's a great way to learn more about our 'writing family'.

Remember, too, that Kerri and Rod Digruttolo are launching an email critique program. You should all have their email addresses. I think some of you have already signed up. Ed Ellis is our new contact person and will be happy to answer any inquiries about our group. Schedules and events will be posted here.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and I hope to see you all next week on December 1st. That will be our only meeting in December due to the Christmas Holiday. The next meeting will be the first Wednesday in January which is the 5th!


Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Hello Writers!

As you all know by now, Wednesday, November 17th, Jack Wolf of the "Fox and Quill" is coming to visit our group. He's eager to meet all you who've supported his efforts in providing a stage for new writers as well as seasoned writers. I know you are all grateful to him for the provision. I know I am!

Jack has a few things planned for us and asked me if anyone in the group could lend him a guitar. Jack is a musician as well as a writer and computer whiz. He would appreciate not having to lug a guitar from Sunny San Diego! If you can lend a guitar, please email me.
Also, I'm trying to run down one of those large coffee urns if anyone has one of those. If not, we just have to go BYOB of water. However, other refreshments are planned. Anyone who'd like to share, please feel free.

It's a busy week for me, so this will be a short post but I'll be looking forward to seeing you all next week. Thank you.


Thursday, November 04, 2010

Meeting Recap

Turn out was fair for our first November meeting. A few are still among the missing, Irv and Cecile had prior commitments, and some a bit under the weather, but I was happy to see two faces new to me. I'd like to personally welcome Phillip Waquespacic, who read a really neat Cajun poem for us, and Kathleen Russell who shared her adventure with TV Me. A great treat for everyone was the return of Sharon Baker after a several month absense. Sharon shared that she will be marrying her high school sweetheart on November 26th! Her new husband to be, Dick Lyon, has a home in Pennsacola and Sharon, here, so they'll be flitting back and forth. She promised to come to the meeting every chance she gets. Oh, the excitement was crackling in the air!

Kris Palmer returned to the group along with me. We were both gone the same amount of time and I was tickled to see her. She filled us in on her wonderful news discovered in Missouri. She IS a perfect candidate for the new implant for those suffering with Young-Onset Parkinson's Disease, met a 'hero' named Charlie who has already received the implant and assured her that his own is was a complete success. He's been able to cut his meds in half and is back out traveling with his wife in their RV. This, after having to give up traveling due to his tremors and anxiety attacks. Kris is thrilled and read a poem she'd written about her new 'hero', Charlie. Kris is the first one to say she has been blessed with many 'heroes' since her dance with the elephant began. The one thing we did forget to do was show the beautiful cover designed by our own Linda White for Kris's book, "Dancing With An Elephant". Linda was also present last night after a busy summer!

Kris will return to Missouri in February for the three-phase surgery and will have to leave her writing family for 6-8 months. But she will be with her own loving family. This was the ONLY downside, but well worth the detour. And, more good news! When Kris returned home from the meeting last night, she was greeted with the icing on the cake. After reporting to the group that she was still knocking on the third gatekeeper's gate, Michael J. Fox's personal editor had called and requested that Kris send her documents and book excerpts and she would deliver them to Mr. Fox's personal manager! Bingo! One more gate and Kris will be in the hands of Michael J. Fox, a fellow Young-Onset Parkinson's victim. She called me this morning and answered my curiosity as to the strange shouts of joy I swear I heard all the way in Nokomis! YOU GO, KRIS! No one deserves it more!

After all this excitement, I reiterated the 'retirement' of Russ Heitz as of January 2011 and my plea for others to step up and help fill his and one of my shoes. We have all put too much into this group not to ensure it continues on course. I'm grateful to announce that Ed Ellis, after presenting his writing model workshop, volunteered to be the 'contact person' to field the Group mail for me. Thank you, ED! I will be taking care of having your name and email added to FWA's main website: as a contact person for the Sarasota Chapter of FWA. This is in addition to his taking over for Ann Favreau as director of the Suncoast Writers Guild in Englewood. Ed's enthusiasm for the writers is in full bloom! Perhaps, now, we can borrow Ann more! Ann, too, is a member of FWA as well as a world traveler who has just returned from Italy! Welcome home, Ann!

Secondly, I'd like to announce that Linda Malloy talked to me on break and has volunteered to be our treasurer to handle and keep records of our Fire Department donations. Russ will turn over all his paperwork and we will give this year's collection to the Firemen at Christmastime. This is a one-time per year donation of $5.00 from attendees specifically for the use of the Fire Department training facility for our meetings. It has nothing to do with your FWA Membership fee which is paid to the Board of Directors of the FWA. Linda is an accountant by profession so I'm sure our funds will be good hands! She may even find us a good investment! Or is that animal extinct? I kid. Thank you, Linda. Your willingness to stand up and help the group is appreciated. I'm still in need of someone to attempt filling Russ's shoes and suggested the possibility of an events coordinator.

Speaking of events! Does everyone have their calendar circled for our second November meeting? That's on the 17th! That is the evening our west coast connection will 'appear' from California to meet our Group! Jack Wolf has provided so many of us with a stage upon which to share our wares for national publication. I'm expecting a good turn out as I know you are all eager to meet Jack. I wish Bart Stamper could be here to meet him. Bart has been featured in the Fox and Quill more than once. Some of the poets who've not yet met Dahris Clair, founder and editor of The Infinite Writer where our poets grab the stage in the Poet's Nook section, will also be able to meet her, as Dahris is coming down from New Port Richey to meet her California counterpart. We will have refreshments for this 'party'. I'll be reminding you again as the days go by!

That's a wrap, folks. (Who did I steal that from?) Be watching the blog for further event notices in a couple of days. One, I do have now is the appearance Saturday of Melanie Bowles at Borders at Bee Ridge and US41. Melanie and her husband, Jim, both former Sarasota County firefighters, are the founders of Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary now located in Mena, Arkansas. Mel will be signing her new book, "The Dogs of Proud Spirit". Mel was a guest speaker at our group in the fall of 2008. Her stories about Proud Spirit are compelling. What many don't know is that they also rescue dogs! This book is the dog's turn! They will tell their stories. I hope to see some of you there. It's Saturday, the 6th, from 1-4. Let's support a 'home town' writer. Melanie is also the person who first introduced me to the FWA five years ago and I'm fortunate enough to be able to call her 'family'. She is my cousin and her mom and my dad were extremely close siblings. Little bit of history there.

Rainbows are on the horizon!!

Susan - And, I've probably forgotten something! Forgive me, that's why I need HELP! :)

Monday, November 01, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hello All

I have returned to my Florida abode and don't want to look at a suitcase, or an airport, for at least six months! Yet again, I find myself thanking Russ for keeping the blog up and holding down the fort while I'm off galavanting around the country. Actually, I refer to it as 'research' for further works, sounds more professional. In addition to the local FWA coverage, Russ and his dear wife, Lee, also provided me pick-up and return and pick up again for all my expeditions including a late night arrival home from Alaska. Had Russ not been making the original flight to Philadelphia with me on this last excursion, I may have not made the trip at all. But that's another story. Suffice it to say here, I was personally able to experience the full force of TSA's airport security measures and EMT response time. Amazing how disaster can evolve into humor, a good thought to always keep in mind.

Believe it or not, yes today is November 1st. I'm anticipating a good turn out at the meeting on Wednesday the 3rd. I'm excited to see you all and Kris and Rod are back, too. Plus, I hear our long, lost Sharon is lurking around town. And, on the 17th we'll be invaded by Mr. California himself, Jack Wolf of the Fox and Quill which has accomodated so many of us with a stage to expose our works. Jack is so pleased with the support his publication has received from our FWA group, he's making the cross-country trip to meet everyone. Although, I've been working with Jack for five years, it will be a joy for me, too, to finally meet him in the flesh. He is planning a super presentation for us so please make yourself a reminder note now! Jack's talents in the electronic world are enviable. Also be sure to check out the new edition of Fox & Quill where Ed Ellis is November's featured author. Russ's continuing mystery workshop is there as well. All past issues are archived, so if you missed October be sure to check that out, too, where Ann Favreau was featured with appearences from Russ, Jim Kelly and my article on our group. Those of you who have not submitted work, it's worth your time to check out the opportunity.

I do believe everyone is home now, with the exception of Cecile who has gone to Hawaii for her daughter's wedding. She will return in time to meet Jack. The rest of you and all who may be reading this, I hope to see you there!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Saturday Morning Workshop

Some of our folks are unable to attend day or evening workshops and presentations because of job and family commitments. Here's a chance to attend a Saturday morning session. South County residents should take special note.

On Saturday, November 6th at 10:30 a.m. the Suncoast Writers Guild will be holding a meeting on the second floor of the Elsie Quirk Library on Dearborn Street in Englewood.

The speaker that day will be Gaile Harpan, a local writer who has published several children's books. Gaile's presentation will cover a wide variety of writing-related subjects such as how to turn an idea into a published book, tips on marketing your book, and turning your writing hobby into a small business for tax purposes and for foundation work.

She will also talk about the advantages of joining writing groups and attending writing conferences. For those who haven't done so yet, Gaile will also discuss book-signings: how to prepare for them, and what to expect.

For additional information about Gaile's talk or about the Suncoast Writers Guild contact Ann Favreau at or Ed Ellis at

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Your Loss, Our Gain

For those who missed our meeting last night, see above. Ryan Van Cleave had an outstanding presentation plus a valuable handout for all who were there. He also graciously and thoroughly answered a lot of questions about a broad range of writing-related topics: agents, publishers, memoirs, ebooks, platforms, marketing, etc. There was something for nearly everyone.

Ryan is an advocate of "creative nonfiction"--using fiction techniques for nonfiction works. He talked about Freytag's Pyramid that includes the primary ingredients of any story: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.

The helpful handout distributed was specifically about writing memoirs.

By using and analyzing popular movies as examples, Dr. Van Cleave also discussed how stories are built, how they are structured--whether the stories are developed in a fiction or a nonfiction genre.

He also talked about the necessity of having a "platform" and a clear-cut and aggressive marketing campaign no matter what your book is about or who publishes it. Ryan verified once again the mantra we've heard from all traditionally and non-traditionally published writers: it doesn't matter who publishes your book, you, the writer, will be required to do most if not all of the marketing or selling of it.

Thanks, Ryan, for an excellent presentation!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Wednesday Meeting--October 20th

A quick reminder. Our general meeting this coming Wednesday night, October 20th, will feature Ryan VanCleave, a successful and widely published author whose new memoir, UNPLUGGED, is an Amazon bestseller in four different categories.

UNPLUGGED's explanatory subtitle, MY JOURNEY INTO THE DARK WORLD OF VIDEO GAME ADDICTION, gives a clear indication of what the book is about.

Ryan is the author or co-author of sixteen books and he has taught creative writing and literature at Clemson University, Eckerd College, Florida State University, and the Ringling College of Art and Design.

Ryan lives in Sarasota and works as a freelance writer, editor, ghostwriter, script doctor, and an addiction & recovery consultant. Additional information about Ryan can be found at his website:

After Ryan's presentation he will be open for comments and discussions. So bring all your questions about writing in general, memoir writing in particular, computer addictions, publishing, editing, or any other writing-related topic.

Following Ryan's talk -- if time permits -- we will also be open to readings, so bring your short, three-pagers. See you then: same time, same place.

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Library Science

Hi from Pennsylvania!

It's a cold, rainy day here in Harrisburg, a perfect day to do some web checking.
Library Science Degree is one I was asked to check out and I'm thrilled I took the
time to do it! I found it to be interesting and most informative.

Lindsay Samuels, the owner of the site, asked if I found it worth sharing would I
do so on our blog. I found it worthy. Enjoy and feel free to pass it along to any
writer or reader you feel would be interested. Since our motto is Writers Helping
Writers and my principle is networking for success, let's show Linday how it
works! And, learn some interesting tidbits of information at the same time. You'll
find the informative articles on the Blog linked off the top of the home page!

I'm off to Michigan tomorrow morning to visit my family there for the weekend and
will return to Florida before the snow blows on November 1st. In addition, I must
do my patriotic duty on November 2nd! Actually, truth is I'm freezing to death!

Burrr . . . . . .

Miss you all,

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Can You Take A Hint?

We've said it before. You never know who's reading our blogs. Here's another example. Andre Becker, President of the Gotham Writers' Workshop in New York City, saw our recent posting about Hint Fiction and sent me an email. Here's what he said.

"I saw your posting regarding the recent FWA meeting and thought your members might be interested in the HINT FICTION WRITING CONTEST that Gotham Writers' Workshop is hosting. ENTRY IS FREE. First Prize is $100 plus a 10-week online creative writing class."

Here's the catch. You must send in your 25 words or less submission by Monday, October 11th. So that's your assignment for this weekend. Can't be too hard, right? Twenty-five words? That's about two sentences. Piece of cake.

Enter online at

And ... GOOD LUCK!

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Meeting Recap for October 6th

We had another good meeting last night, and a busy one at that. Three visitors: Patricia Deeder, Krista Gorman and Kathy Question Mark who didn't sign our sign-in sheet but is interested in quantum physics. All introduced themselves and told us a bit about their writing interests and goals. Patricia also shared with us some of her writings. We hope to see all three ladies again at our future meetings and encourage them to bring any questions or comments and perhaps something to read at our next "reading meeting."

Charles Meyer from the Sarasota County Film and Entertainment Office told us about Sarasota's burgeoning interest in TV and movie production and the possible building of a full-fledged soundstage production facility in our community. He also encouraged all of us to submit "fresh and creative" ideas for a contest about a possible television series that might even be filmed right here in Sarasota County. Check out his website,, for information about the program and click on the banner/logo "TV ME" for info about the contest. The grand prize winner of the competition will get a free, expense-paid trip to the LA/Hollywood area and a chance to pitch their TV show ideas to the people who make the decisions about new nationally broadcast TV shows. Deadline for the competition is November 30. Check the above-mentioned website for details about the contest and the categories for entries.

Rod DiGruttolo also asked me to remind everyone that he and Kerri Dieffenwierth are starting an on-line critique group which could possibly turn into an in-person critique group later on. Anyone who is interested in learning more about this on-line critique group should write to me at and I'll send you Rod's and Kerri's email addresses.

We also had a full slate of readers for this "reading meeting," starting off with another humorous story from our Writer Emeritus Ed Lyman. The title of Ed's story was A NEEDLESS TRAGEDY which had to do with relationships, in general, and (Sly Old Dog that he is) sexual relationships, in particular. Phil Dobrin read another humorous excerpt from his newly released book, ADVENTURES OF A SURGICAL RESIDENT. Joanne Phillips read a short piece from the book she's working on. Peter Frickel's cultured and refined "radio voice" was put to work reading several pieces that other folks had brought in, including a short piece of his own. Joe Porter read a couple pieces about his earlier days traveling around the country. Andrew Parker read the synopsis of a possible novel about a paraplegic who is crossisng the country on a bicycle while promoting euthanasia. Andrew always seems to be working on topics that are fresh and unusual. Kerri Dieffenwierth also read an amusing story about her adventures with a surfboard.

Jim Kelly, Cecil Bell, and Cathy Marine also attended the meeting but didn't participate in the readings.

As a reminder for those who weren't at this meeting, our next meeting on October 20th will have a special speaker, Ryan Van Cleve, who will be talking about his new book about a new medical/psychological malady that is affecting more and more computer owners: computer game addiction. No, that's not a joke. Computer game addiction really is becoming a serious health issue throughout the computerized world. Some psychology and sociology experts tell us it is becoming just as serious and damaging as addictions to alcohol and drugs. Ryan will also discuss the writing of memoirs, a topic that is popular with quite a few of our local FWA attendees.

Madeline Mora-Summonte, one of our elusive FWA members who only appears at our meetings every now and then, has another impressive "published" credit to her name. A devotee of Flash Fiction, Madeline also has a flare for another short fiction genre called Hint Fiction, which is limited to -- believe it or not -- 25 words or fewer! Hint Fiction was inspired by Ernest Hemingway's well-known "six-word novel:"For sale: baby shoes, never worn." Madeline's Hint Fiction story, THE EMPTY NEST, was selected to appear in a new collection HINT FICTION: AN ANTHOLOGY OF STORIES IN 25 WORDS OR FEWER which is being published by W.W. Norton. This collection will be released November 1st and can be pre-ordered through most of the major booksellers including Amazon, Borders, and Barnes & Noble. The collection includes Hint Fiction stories by Joyce Carol Oates, James Frey, Peter Straub, and Ha Jin so once again, Madeline has surrounded herself with very good company. For more information about Hint Fiction go to

A final note, Susan Haley will be returning to Sarasota in November and expects to be back in the saddle for the November 3rd meeting. See you then, Susan. Hope to see the rest of you for our October 20th meeting.

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Sunday, October 03, 2010

First Five Pages Only - Announcement from Susan

Thought everyone may get a kick out of this info. Most of you know I do monthly columns in other publications. One being, The Fox and Quill and the other, The Infinite Writer's Poet Nook. Continually, I'm encouraging you all to take advantage of these exposure opportunities. All submissions will be considered and if you have poetry in your portfolio, I make the call on what goes in that. Dahris Clair gives me complete reign over that section. In addition, I'm on the selection team for all entries. Jack Wolf of Fox and Quill has already become well known to many of you and rarely, if ever, turns down a submission from our group. I thought it interesting this month that both 'zine and Poet's Nook are made up of submissions from our group. It's like old home week. :) In Fox and Quill, you'll find Russ Heitz, James Kelly, and my article written for the FWA History about our group. In the IW Poet's Nook, you'll find Rod DiGruttolo, Kris Palmer, James Kelly, myself and Bart Stamper's Viet Nam War Memorial Tribute under the Index of Articles. Each page has its own key on the side bar. The links are to your left on the Blog under links. With these opportunities 'out there', you can ALL be published authors and poets!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Below are the details for a First Five Pages Novel Contest. I find this rather interesting and may give it a go myself! Nothing Ventured - Nothing Gained.

Sponsored by Smoke City Narrators

ENTRY FEE - $8.50
DEADLINE - Postmarked or Emailed by November 15, 2010.

First prize - $150. Second prize - $75. Third prize - $40. 6 HM.
Feedback posted on website.

JUDGE - Agent Jeff Kleinman, Folio Literary Management, NY, NY.

Email/Snail Mail:
1. First 5 pages of a novel, 1,500 words max.
2. One-sentence synopsis of the novel, 25 words or less.
(Novel does not have to be complete.)

Entry pages not published. Authors keep all rights.
Open Internationally. Checks (US bank), Money Orders or PayPal.
Please see website for complete rules.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

October is Upon Us!

Hi Everyone - Coming to you from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania!

Hope everyone had a great weekend! Russ and myself attended the Infinity Publishing Gathering of Authors Conference in Valley Forge outside of Philadelphia and had a busy and informative weekend. I was able to reconnect with old friends and made some new ones. Russ went on to his brother's but was to return to Sarasota today, so he will be present at the first meeting of October next Wednesday. I came on over to Harrisburg and will spend a few weeks here with my 'now returned from the road' kids and granpup. My son and I sit and lament over our incredible experiences in Alaska and he, too, is having a time adjusting to the 'rut' of staying in one place. That ol' wanderlust gets in your veins if you're one that tends that way. :) Daughter-in-law feels rather content back in her nest, but says she'd do it again in a heartbeat.

I do have a couple of announcements to make regarding the October meetings: Ed Ellis has graciously offered to take the leader's chair for both the reading meeting, assisted by Russ and the general meeting, assisted by Jim Kelly. Jim has arranged for and had confirmed, the speaker for the 20th. Ryan Van Cleve will present his workshop on writing memoirs. Jim can fill you in more at the reader's meeting. I know this is an area of interest for many of you. Regardless, if you are writing a memoir or not, the information will be valuable.

I want to thank Ed, Jim and of course, Russ, for keeping our craft afloat in my absense. I also heard rumors of a sub-group forming for more extensive critique work, presently being thought out by Kerri and Rod. That's great news! Perhaps one of them will have some details to report at the next meeting. I want to thank all of you for the interest and response to some structural reorganization. Ideas are welcome! Peter, too, informed me of some information he will be sharing next week.

I also have a correction to make. I had previously announced a poetry event that Kris, Jim and me would be attending on November 15 for Rich McKee's Creative Writing course. The corrected school name is the State College of Florida, and it's the Venice Campus. I believe I errantly called it Central Florida University and Rich spotted it. My apologies to Rich, but the event is as was announced! :) The three of us are looking forward to it!

I am accessible by email if anyone has a question or a comment and I would appreciate a recap of the next meeting if one is so inclined to send it to me.

Thanks all . . . You're a Great Group and I'm proud of all of you!!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Do You Have A Must See Idea For TV?


“TV ME!” Contest Seeks Concepts for New Television Content
Florida themes earn bonus as writers nationwide vie for prizes, in-person pitch to TV industry execs

Sarasota, FL – The Sarasota County Film and Entertainment Office (SCFEO), a division of the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County, has launched “TV ME!” a new, innovative writers competition seeking creative content ideas for television programming. The contest is open to U.S. citizens over the age of 18. Entries will be accepted through Nov. 30, 2010.

“We’re excited to launch this contest to connect creatives with the decision-makers who can make their TV concepts into realities,” says Jeanne Corcoran, SCFEO director. “This competition also includes a scoring bonus for Florida-based themes and locations, which could result in an economic boost if winning concepts are produced in the Sunshine State.”

The Grand Prize for the best entry across all categories will include a trip to Los Angeles, California, to “pitch” the concept in person to a select group of industry professionals. Category winners will receive the opportunity for their concepts to be reviewed and considered by executives and decision-makers in the television industry. Additional prizes include cash awards and gifts from sponsors, as well as publicity and a winners’ luncheon.

“There is no other contest quite like this,” says Corcoran. “Unlike ordinary competitions that require full-length scripts for television, screenplays for movies, or manuscripts for novels, our competition accepts only short (five-to-15-page) ‘pitches’ of a concept for television programming. It’s like a fast and forceful ‘elevator pitch’ where you give the most powerful and concise summary possible.”

Another unusual twist to “TV ME!” is the scoring bonus that judges may apply to works that emphasize locations and themes that may generate productions in Florida communities, Corcoran said.

Partnering with the SCFEO to administer the competition is Charles Meyer, executive director of The Scriptwriters Network, a Los Angeles-based organization with a 24- year history in the television and film industry.

“The ‘TV ME!’ contest promises to be a dynamic experience for creative contestants who believe they have the next new, bold, bright or off-beat idea for television,” Meyer says. “This opens up a myriad of opportunities for great ideas without the necessity of a trunk-load of scripts.”

Individuals as well as creative teams may compete for awards and prizes in three different categories:
• scripted series (from comedy to drama, animated to children’s programs, science fiction to hybrids and other genres of recurring and/or series television),
• unscripted/partially scripted (reality programs, game shows, demonstration/training programs such as cooking, crafts, skills, documentary, interview and investigative programs, etc.), and
• one-offs (single standalone programs such as an award or sporting event, a movie-of-the-week, a special televised gala, benefit, tribute, fundraiser, concert, staged performance, etc.).

Contestants will pay for entries via an online form and then submit concepts via email. No hard copies of submissions will be accepted. Entry fees range from $15 to $30 per concept, depending on date of submittal. Information:

The Sarasota County Film & Entertainment Office (SCFEO) is a division of the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County. It seeks to attract film, television, commercial, documentary and other media production to create content, produce and shoot on location in Sarasota County, as well as to serve the region’s resident production community, improve and expand its resources, provide intergovernmental liaison and proactively market and promote Sarasota County’s assets to the entertainment industry as a whole. The SCFEO is a member in good standing of the Association of Film Commissioners International, Film Florida and other industry organizations.

Charles Meyer, TV ME! Contest Director, (941) 309-1200 x 102,

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Meeting 9/15/10 - Recap & Some Changes

It was good to see new faces and we were finally rewarded with the first return of our day one member, Gordon Tucker. He's been ill and unable to attend since last January! Welcome back, Tuck!

Our first general meeting of the new season was pretty much devoted to a recap of where we are and where we need to go. Input was generous and some courses of direction set. We've put a lot into this group over the last five years and I have faith in its ability to keep up the growth and change we've always pursued. Our goal is to present a variety of offerings that will offer many outlets for all kinds of writers at all different points in their goals.

It's not really the group that focuses on only one area of the writing world. It's a group of camaraderie and rounded learning. We do offer specialized workshops when the group wants it and there aren't many areas we've not studied indepth. What we aren't, is a specialized group for, say, just critiquing, just publishing, just pitching an agent. We bring the experiences of all these things from people who've already traveled the path.
Most of the information a new author needs about publishing and agent finding requires astute and dedicated Internet Research. I've long recommended magazines such as The Writers Digest and The Writer for more information than any one group or workshop can give you. They have a host of articles and contributors that tell you how to use the information. That is the place for all novices to start. The process requires as much dedication and work as the writing itself. A writers group that meets once or twice or even every week of every month can never substitute for your own research and efforts. What they do provide is support, encouragement, and inspirtation.

There also will be some additions and updates done and managed a little differently on the far left information column. It seems the information is not real clear for a brand new person searching out a group. I was happy to learn that we were found on Google! So our local blog is out 'there' as its own listing.

The best news I have to offer this minute is about our beloved Kris Palmer! I got a call this morning from an overjoyed Kris! This girl has captured the heart of every one of us at the Sarasota group and other groups as well. Her courage has astounded all of us! Kris has written a beautiful book on surviving and building a full life while afflicted with young-onset Parkinson's Disease. It's titled "Dancing With An Elephant" and has not only given us wonder at Kris, herself, but an education on just what this disease does to young people as well as older folks.

Kris had contacted the Michael J. Fox Foundation in hopes of getting an endorsement for her back cover from Michael J. Fox. Today she was told Michael is, indeed, interested and to send him her work to his personal mail. He will be watching for it. I think I shed as many tears as Kris at the joy of it all. How many people are blessed with this almost instant access to sure success? No one deserves it more. Maybe that's how it works, after all. What you give, does in fact, come back to you! You go, Kris!!!


Monday, September 06, 2010

Oooops! A few corrections . . .

One of these years I'll learn that I can't do these things in the pre-dawn hours in a half-awake state!

I have doubled the information on Linda's appearance at the Performing Arts event. It is Linda that is a finalist! NOT me. This comes from trying to copy and paste event mails that I receive so as not to leave out details.

I also miss typed Rich McKee's name as "Rick" in one sentence. It is RICH. That is all I've spotted at the moment but I'm surely going to have follow my own advice and never hit 'post' or 'send' before editing my own work! I really need to get in the habit of using notepad for all communications because I find myself rushing and not editing while I happen to have a connection! I'm Internet paranoid after so many problems. And, the occasional missing two-letter words that I seem to have a penchant for leaving out even in my own writing! THAT is a feeble excuse, but it's the only one I have. Please bear with me!

Susan - your most human leader. :))

Saturday, September 04, 2010

FWA Members of Sarasota's Group Charge Ahead!

Our first meeting of new season got off to a great beginning! It was so good to see all there and I await even more returning on the 15th. So much to share again. If this keeps up, you all will be keeping Russ and I busy with blog posts!

Before I make announcements, though, I'd like to welcome a new member who has assured us she will return. Cheryl Ennis, like so many of us, walked in the door a bit scared and not knowing what to expect. Everyone welcomed her warmly and she has since written to me of her joy in meeting up with such a caring group. I'd like to say to her publically, that her presence was enjoyed by everyone and she has found a home!

Our members are all becoming so accomplished, I have several special announcements to make or reiterate from my last post. I'll start with details on those not previously mentioned. Although, she isn't able to attend the meetings, many of you are familiar with the name, Dr. Karen Pirnot. She is a member of FWA and a wonderful woman who has devoted her professional life to helping others, especially children. Many of you will relate her to the book, "As I Am" about Garrett Frey, a paraplegic since age four. Dr. Karen spent a good many years as Garrett's Child Psychologist, and still remains one of his biggest support systems. She was instrumental in writing the book "As I Am" about the life of this inspiring young man and how he's used his ever-sharp mind to build his own life giving back to others. Our former member, John McCafferty, wrote a beautiful story featured in the Venice Gondolier Sun when Karen and Garrett appeared in Venice. Dr.Karen who does reside in Sarasota now, has written many books, inspired by her own children and those she's helped. Dr. Karen entered six books in the "Reader's Favorite Literary Awards for 2010" and all six of them won awards! They are:
Gold Medals: "The Keeper of the Lullabies" "Learning To Be Me" "Just Hanging Out" (Karen illustrated this book and her granddaughter Khaya wrote the poetry) "The Learners of Owamboland" (Co-authored with her niece Gina)
Silver Medal: "A Colorful Day" (granddaughter, Taryn, illustrated and she wrote)
Bronze Medal: "The Blue Penguin" (granddaughter, Makenna, illustrated and she wrote)

Dr. Karen will go to Las Vegas in November to an Awards luncheon. She is currently working on a five-book series for Young Adults. The series is entitled "The Reality Kids" and it features ordinary children placed in extraordinary circumstances such as that of young Garret Frey - "As I Am". Congratulations, Dr. Karen. After years of giving, you're still giving back. An example for all writers!

Dr. Pirnot is also included in Lois Stern's (who you all met in April at our Group meeting) "Little Tree House in the Woods" featured story this month on the home page of my site: Also included in that story are kudos to Russ Heitz and the Group!

I think I mentioned at the meeting that this month's Fox and Quill includes a debut submission from Jim Kelly, Rod Digruttolo, and Russ's new segment on mystery/crime writing. I think I threw something up about my Alaskan adventures in the Poem of the Month. Also, don't forget Bart Stamper's excerpt on war which is visible on the home page.

Update on Russ Heitz and Rod Digruttolo! Both have been accepted for their memoir stories submitted to the Memoir publication magazine which will earn them $50! Rod also got accepted for one that donates to the charity. For more about this organization, see Russ's previous post. Congratulations to both Russ and Rod! Wonderful news! Rod is selling work already! Russ, of course, has sold lots for years! There's some inspiration for those of you wondering if you can do it, too! Of course, you can!I am now a finalist for the poetry performance contest at Deep Carnivale in Ybor City the weekend of September 10th. Finals begin Friday, Sept. 10 @ 7:30 pm at the Hillsboro Community College Performing Arts Center, Ybor campus. Linda says there is "some damn tough competition" and she is practicing and will be all week. This girl is devoted to her art. If you are at all interested in seeing how performance poetry is really done you should go just for the entertainment value. "In two minutes time, the poets will literally blow you away!!!" says Linda. There is a $5 charge, but well worth it. For more info visit . If you can make it, I'd love the support and you'll love the action.

Speaking of inspiration . . . more details on our performance poet. I mentioned that Linda White was in the contest being held in conjunction with the Pinellas County Community Arts in Ybor City. She is now a finalist for the poetry performance contest at Deep Carnivale in Ybor City the weekend of September 10th. Finals begin Friday, Sept. 10 @ 7:30 pm at the Hillsboro Community College Performing Arts Center, Ybor campus. Linda says there is "some damn tough competition" and she is practicing and will be all week. This girl is devoted to her art. If you are at all interested in seeing how performance poetry is really done you should go just for the entertainment value. "In two minutes time, the poets will literally blow you away!!!" says Linda. There is a $5 charge, but well worth it. For more info visit . Linda went on to say, "If any of you can make it, I'd love the support and you'll love the action.
If Linda is picked for the top three out of nine on Friday night, she will return for the award winning finals held on Saturday. Linda shared with us at the Rookery that she has chosen to perform "Doc". This performance is on her CD for those of you who have it. She is freshening it up and kicking it in for this performance she told us! Linda, we all have faith in your ability and you'll do fine regardless the outcome! Congratulations on making it this far!! In itself, a huge accomplishment!

I'd also like to announce that Kris Palmer, Jim Kelly and I have been invited to visit and read and discuss our work by Rich McKee on November 15th. Rick is also a member of FWA but cannot attend the meetings as long as he is scheduled for night classes. He is a Creative Writing teacher at the new Central Florida University. Rich taught many years at Ringling School of Arts as well. This year, he has accepted a full-time position at the new University. He teaches at the North Port Campus so it's much closer for him to travel, a resident of South Venice. We all know that Jim is right at home in a classroom and Kris, when I asked her, was grateful for the challenge of speaking to a group of students. I'm so proud of her, I could jump up and down!

I sincerely believe that we will break down new walls every year that this group stays together and grows both in talent and accomplishment. I'm also proud to be your much helped leader.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Memoirists: Listen Up

There are two local publications that are looking for memoir-type articles about the "good old days." The first one is for MEN ONLY and it will be a printed anthology called "Toys Remembered." The submissions must be less than 1500 words and the deadline is September 30. The guidelines say: "Tell about a childhood toy/game/plaything that is memorable for some reason. Be creative; include details, use dialogue if possible. You probably don't recall exactly what you or someone else said in a given situation, but in a memoir it's okay to pull out your literary license and recreate what might have been said."

This anthology will be published by Madonna Dries Christensen. Madonna is also the editor. She will be donating the royalties for this anthology to the Down Syndrome Association of Northern Virginia. "Therefore, I cannot monetarily compensate contributors," Madonna says. "I ask for One Time Rights only. You retain copyright and all rights to the story. You may publish it elsewhere without my permission."

For submissions or further information contact Madonna at As I said, the submissions for this anthology must be submitted by MEN ONLY.

The second publication that Madonna produces is an online magazine called DOORWAYS MEMOIRS and bills itself as "Life History Stories." It is open to submissions from both men and women. The length of the articles is limited to 1500 words and there are some other restrictions. You must be a permanent or part-time resident of Sarasota County, AGE 50 OR OLDER. Although they are memoirs and therefore nonfiction, they should be written like a short story, with narrative and dialogue if possible. They should have a beginning, middle, and the end should "come full circle to a conclusion," Madonna says.

"Your story does not need to be extraordinary or involve a momentous event (although it can)" Madonna adds. "Did your grandmother umpire your little league games? Did that embarrass you, or did you think she looked cool in her uniform? Use detail; make us laugh, cry, sympathize, learn something new or see things in different light."

Submissions for DOORWAYS MEMOIRS are limited to the reading period of July 1st to October 31st. Manuscripts received at any other time will not be considered.

To submit to DOORWAYS MEMOIRS, or if you need additional information, write to Madonna at Submissions should be pasted into the body of the email. No attachments or photos. Also include your name, address, birth date, phone number and email address on the first page of the email. Include a short bio about yourself at the end of the story.

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Monday, August 30, 2010

A New Season Begins!

After a July and August respite, a lot of our members traveling, we begin our new season on Wednesday, September 1st. I'm sure everyone will be glad to be back together and renew our trek to good writing.

I want to thank everyone who submitted comments to me for the History I attempted to write for our Sarasota County Chapter. All comments sent in are included in my submission. Now, we'll see what is used in the final product of Sunny Fader's project. I feel quite blessed with the diversity and enthusisam shown by our members. The comments received warmed my heart and I feel like we have all created something worth while. That's a rewarding feeling.

I have had news from two of our missing members. Sharon has finally surfaced and is in town. She is having knee surgery on Monday, tomorrow, and may be able to attend our second meeting in September before she heads back on the road. I do believe her reunion with her high school sweetheart has proven to be a huge success and they will be dividing their time between Venice and Pensacola. I trust we'll have her with us when she is in town.

Also, I've had a great conversation with Bart Stamper who is now working in Canada and thinks he will be there for a few more months for sure. He sends his best to all of the group and assures me is following our blog and keeping up with things. For those of you who have a Facebook page, he is posting there and has an interesting photo album. He is still writing his powerful stuff and I asked the status of his book we were all so priviledged to hear excerpts read.

Tuck has also checked in and although he's on the mend now, it has been a long haul for him with the Shingles leaving after effects of the nerve damage. He had another set back over the summer. I assured him that he could come to the meetings even if he could only sit for a half an hour to start. He was worried about lasting the three hours and I assured him he didn't have to. Just spending the social networking before 6:30 with us would make everyone happy.

The September Fox and Quill is out and and along with Russ' new workshop column we also have representation by Rod Digruttolo, myself and a debut entry by Jim Kelly. Congratulations Jim! Jack Wolf, its founder, has asked me to express his gratitude for the participation by our members. I know the members feel a sense of accomplishment at their exposure the first time they see their work published in a nationwide e-publication. Richard Ide, Bart Stamper, Peter Frickle and Irv Newman have also been featured in past editions of the Fox and Quill. I'll remind those who've yet to submit, that this is a westcoast publication that connects you to the west coast writers. In addition, to the personal reward, you are visible to a whole new market area. Russ' continuing installments on mystery writing are most informative. Also, Dahris Clair, the Pasco County Chapter's Group Leader, also takes submissions for her ever-growing Infinite Writer. In September, Russ Heitz, Linda White and Kris Palmer will be represented there. I, of course, am the Poetry Coordinator and write a monthly column for that as well. Joe and Jean Porter, and Jim Kelly have been published there. Russ' "Crosshairs" mystery won "Book Of The Year" there in 2008. Plus all members are eligible to submit to the Florida Writer, our printed publication for the FWA. Members statewide receive a copy in the mail. So be thinking about getting your writing 'out there'. Opportunities abound.

I'm looking forward to our reunion meeting on Wednesday and hope to see a large turnout. A few that are still away have contacted me that they will be returning on the 15th. I'd also like to thank all of you who've taken an interest in checking the blog. Please remember if you have anything you'd like to add or share, an event you'd like to announce, we are open for all ideas and input, Feel free to send me or Russ your comments and news. If our interest continues to grow, perhaps we can re-think member posting options. We've shunned it prior due to the possibility of outside spam. It is an option available to us although I would need help implementing it. Madeline?? A geek, I am not!

Want to briefly thank, too, those of you who used the facility to have small gatherings all summer long. Last week, Rod, Donnie Niles, Kris Palmer and I had a great meeting with four of us! Donnie has since returned up north but will be back in December hopefully with a decision to publish his book. The three of us sure did all we could to talk him into going for it! Kris especially had her first exposure to his book and she loved it and told him so. Her own book on "Dancing With The Elephant" is coming along beautifully and I think she'll have it out by the first of the year. She's a beautiful and most careful writer. Rarely an error in her manuscript and her story is powerful.

See you all very soon! Same place, same time. We'll have to gather up this year's donation to the fireman as they sure have been great in providing us a space to meet with only the Thursday restriction. Write down anything you may care to introduce to our meetings. It is YOUR group to shape and make better.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Call For Submissions

August is already over half over! I've been home almost a month. Where is time going? Does everyone have this sense of 'spinning out of control' or is it a personal problem? :)

I need submissions of only one or two sentence input from those of you who'd care to participate. I've agreed to work with Sunny Fader, an FWA member who has taken on the task of writing a history of the FWA since it's inception as requested by Chrissy Jackson, FWA President. The goal for Sunny is to have a nice presentation highlighting the activities, growth, and success of local Chapters statewide who show an interest. All group leaders were asked for information and since I'm always blowing the horn of our Sarasota Group, I felt it an opportunity. I've agreed to work closely with her as she isn't getting much response.

I'd like a comment on what you've gotten out of our Group and what role it plays in your writing goals. Doesn't have to be long at all. In fact, if it's too long some would get cut anyway.

Just email me.

We have two weeks before our regular season begins and I suppose some of you will gather informally this Wednesday as you've been doing. I'll come by the firehall just in case.
Have a great day!

Oh, and the travelers arrived home in Harrisburg, PA on Sunday. Son Bill is already chomping at the bit to get on the road again. :) Wonder what exotic trip I'll get next year if I'm breathing! :) Hudson Bay has been mentioned. Maybe I'll be able to see a polar bear up there!


Saturday, August 07, 2010

NPR: Another Market For Local Writers?

A member of our local FWA group and director of the Suncoast Writers Guild in Englewood, Ann Favreau recently shared with us an email she received from Guild member Kathy Nixon. It may open the door for some of us to yet another possible market for our
work--National Public Radio--especially if you enjoy writing personal essays. Here's Kathy's account.

"Following the advice of our guest speaker on other ways to publish, I wrote a three minute essay about taking my grandchildren to an ancestral burial ground. I contacted the local public radio station. [In our area that would be WUSF-FM in Tampa-Ed.] The editor loved it and we arranged a time to record when Randy and I were visiting the grandchildren. The [NPR editor], Martha Woodroff, was so easy-going that she made the whole experience a real high point of the vacation. You can go to, click on Civic Soapbox (My Grandchildren's Half-told Family Story) and listen to the essay or click on Civic Soapbox blog to read it."

What makes this possibility even more interesting and potentially profitable is that our local NPR station (WUSF-FM) has recently purchased a radio station here in Sarasota and will be expanding their programming in our immediate area. That means they will also be needing a lot of material to fill their new daily schedules. And, yes, they DO pay you for your work. This is not a freebie.

If you have any short personal essays that could amuse, inform, enlighten or inspire NPR listeners, contact Sheila Rue, WUSF-FM's Program Director at Sheila should be able to direct you to the proper contact within the organization.

Give it a try. It won't cost you more than a stamp-less free email. And GOOD LUCK!

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

To Jerry Haley

As Sue mentioned above, I am still regrouping from my trip to Klinkton County, PA, where strange things sometimes happen. I haven't even BEGUN to look at the 500+ photos I took but at least my "pending" folder is almost empty. Almost.

Seriously, though, most of you know Susan's beloved husband, Jerry Haley, died eleven years ago this month. You may also know she has dedicated her website to his memory.

One of the things Jerry wanted to do most of all was travel to Alaska and explore America's last frontier. He never got to do that during his short life. But now, with the help of Susan, her son Billy and his wife Karen, part of Jerry is now part of Alaska.

Near the Chugach Mountains east of Anchorage and north of Prince William Sound, Susan released some of Jerry's ashes in a quiet place in the heart of the wilderness. She also wrote a poem in Jerry's memory. Its title is THE EDGE OF CHUGACH. It can be read on Susan's website, if you scroll down below the photograph of Jerry.

Please go there, rest a moment, and feel the peace.

Posted by Russ Heitz

Karen Haley's Picture Travelogue

Since the Alaska pictures have been referred to so much, I'm adding the Haley Hiatus blog link to our link column. It's well archived and one is able to travel the country from Harrisburg, PA to Alaska via my home in Nokomis, Florida. Last I heard they were in Edmonton, Alberta enroute to Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, The Tetons and Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota. The magnitude of their trip overwhelmes me!
They been on the road since February 1st and covered close to 25,000 miles the way they've zigzagged so as not to miss anything. Karen informed she is now a gypsy. :) Bill said he could do it for the rest of his days on this Earth.

I did meet some people who did just that! Lived in their RV's and stayed two or three months in places they enjoy returning to. Follow the seasons. You also run into a lot of 'caravans' where RV clubs travel together for weeks at a time. But yes, one has to love Nature and being on the move to do it. Some of the Class A Motorhomes are as lush as a house! Amazing. I could do it in a heartbeat if I had the funds. I guess if you don't own a home and all the expenses that go with it, it's possible. I could do a heck of a lot of moving for what I pay in property taxes and Homeowner's Insurance! Many of the State Parks only have $10 or $15 a night fees and some include full hookup sans Wi Fi. Pocket change, if compared to commercial lodging and buying all meals in a restaurant. We cooked some great meals in the RV.

Informal Meeting on Wednesday 8/4

Hi All -

I've had some questions about the meeting status for August and a note from Rod Digruttolo that a couple of you have been taking advantage of the Firehall location even while we've been on vacation. I think that is great some took advantage of our facility's access. It shows the enthusiasm of our group.

Many have been away and some still haven't returned, but I've decided that I will show up at the Firehall tomorrow night and be happy to see anyone who is moved to stop by. Irv Newman called me and since he won't see this as he continues not to give in to the electronic demands of this world, I'll call him and let him know.

It was great to return to Linda White's little poetry gathering last Thursday at the Venice Rookery and I've invited the poets to join us at the Firehall tomorrow evening at 6:30. Kris, Jim, Celise, Joe, Gaile, Joanne and Barbara attend both but some of them are still away. I do know Jim Kelly is back. And Peter, you expressed desire to attend Linda's group as well. :) Ann Favreau from Suncoast Writers has also checked back in. Russ has just returned home but I think he is still in re-group mode. Fall is upon us. Do you hear the dogs barking? Personally, I enjoy being in my Alaska fog. Don't wanna regroup. :)

Hope to see a few of you tomorrow night. No set time. Come and go as you wish. I'll be there around 6:30.


Friday, July 23, 2010

A Couple of Second Thoughts

I again want to publically thank Russ for keeping this blog going in my absense. Altho, internet time was limited while gone, I also want to thank those of you who did write me some private 'good wishes'.

All is getting back to the normal 'me'. It's now 3:39 a.m. and I have been 'going to bed' since 11 o'clock. :) I slept like a newborn baby in all the daylight hours and now that I am once again enwrapped in darkness, I'm wide eyed! Can't believe it! At four this afternoon, I could've slept the clock around. The night wind has gripped me again already! I hope it's but a bit of left over jet lag!

I did want to share that we DID get our boat tour on the following day as Russ reported as planned after the high seas delays. And as the whole trip blessed me, we DID see a magnificent Humpback whale. I've watched countless programs and documentaries on whales and had accepted their mammoth size, however, I can only report that one must actually 'see' one along side of a tour boat, which was quite sizable itself, to fully absorb their magnificence. This incredible creature arced up out of the water and blew an exhalation from his/her blowhole that shot twenty feet in the air! Then, the huge tail fluke did the 'good bye' wave. When that tail slapped the water, I was just muttering, "Oh my god!"

The females can grow up to 50 feet in length (larger than the males) and my house is 25 feet across the front. This spectacular beast was twice as big as my HOUSE! I'm sure the circumfrence equaled the length. They eat up to 12 TONS a day!! Yes, 12 tons. That is not a typo! I had so counted on seeing an Orca but the Humpback was equally as much of a blessing.

I have about 50 poems and essays running through my head, not about "My" trip (you all know how I am about the 'me me me' attitude) but about the glory and treasure of this Planet Earth. Now to fully absorb and sort out the experiences. The entire event truly is/was overwhelming for one who has spent their entire life as an avid Nature lover and supporter. I wish I could take everyone with an interest up there. I can only hope I'll be able to share it with my heart and the written word with a modicum of its due justice.

The Haley Hiatus blog being so professionally done by my daughter-in-law is well worth a visit: Russ accidentally typed this FWA blog address, I think. Again, she is limited to new editions as the internet allows, but she writes them and works on all the photos off line, so it's near flawless!

As said earlier, if anyone wants to get together in August, it doesn't have to be on our regularly scheduled 1st and 3rd Wednesday. We have access to the room on any day but Thursday. Just send me an email with some suggestions and we'll see if we can come up with a night satisfactory to all. It could even be a social-type, no set agenda, meeting just to get together and have an updating visit. And, perhaps discuss some things to do this coming up season.

Hope all is well with everyone. The healing time was most advantageous to my conditions. :) Amazing what divorcing yourself from mind altering stress can accomplish! I am really going to try and maintain the regimen my son 'demanded' of me. Even if I am still up at now 4:15 a.m. It's only midnight in Alaska! :))


Back In The Sunshine State

Hello to all my writing family and friends here - I have 'staggered' back into the Sunshine State. Bearing in mind that I have been in 50-60ish temperatures, used to layering for warmth in high altitude locales, and one entire month without darkness plus dealing with a four hour time warp, you all can imagine how I felt de-boarding an airplane in two sweaters and my new Alaskan fleece jacket replete with new and most cool Alaska hat into 96 degree heat and darkness after 24 hours in airports and airplanes. :)) From Anchorage to Sarasota by way of Phoenix, AZ! Yes, Phoenix! Did they move Seattle in the last month?? Then Charlotte, North Carolina with three hour layovers at each point!
I fear it will take me a couple of days to crawl back into the rut of a scheduled everyday life. My first challenge will be determining day, date, time, and possibly, month!!
I am a blessed individual to have visited and mingled in such incredible Nature and wildlife. I plan on totally re-vamping my website with new pictures and sharings. That will take some time, tho.
Miss you all and if anyone wants to have a meeting in August, shoot me an email. We can work something out for those interested.

Now, Russ is gone for a week and I still have heard nothing from dear Sharon!!

Hugs to all,
Susan a.k.a Alaskan Maw!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Winding Down -- Winding Up

Susan's Alaskan Adventure is nearly over and my foray into the dreaded Klinkton County is about to begin! I don't have a blog to post my adventures but I'll try to post a summary when I return. To check out the blog that captures the essence of Susan's journey, and to see more of Karen's fantastic flower fotos go to

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Publishing News

For those who don't know him, Dan Poynter is an acknowledged guru in the independent publishing field. He's known not only in the United States, his world speaking tours cover just about every country on the globe. He also publishes a newsletter that is always chock full of up-to-date info about the writing and publishing world. His newsletter is FREE and you can sign up for it by going to his website, Here are just a few quotes from this month's issue.

"Books published in 2009 using traditional production methods: 288,355, a 1/2% decrease from 2008. Books published in 2009 using on-demand printing or internet printing services: 764, 488, a 181% increase over 2008.

"James Patterson has sold 1.4 million units of his books as eBooks for devices like Kindle and the iPad. "If eBooks get people who might otherwise not be reading to pick up a book, then that makes me happy," Patterson said.

"When bookseller Barnes and Noble started selling their new version of the Nook reader with both 3G and WiFi for $199, Amazon fired back and reduced the Kindle2 to $189. That's a $70.00 drop overnight.

"Barnes and Noble predicts that their sales of eBooks will reach $6 billion in three years while the sale of print books during that same period will fall by $6 billion.

"Authors who publish the digital edition of their books through Amazon will now receive 70% of the list price of their title. Amazon will serve as the publisher and retailer. Currently and typically, authors receive only 10-12% of the net receipts from large publishers. [Many publishers limit the royalties of their writers to 6% -- Ed.]

"The sales of eBook readers around the world totaled 1.43 million units in the first quarter of 2010. The shipment of eBook readers from manufacturers to vendors in April-May reached 740,000 units, with Barnes and Noble's Nook reader accounting for 37% and Amazon's Kindle trailing by 16%."

The writing and publishing world is rapidly changing, fellow writers, and adaptation is the key to survival.

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Monday, July 12, 2010

Rain, Whales, Bears, Forests and Fjords

Sue Haley sent us another update on her Alaskan Adventures so, being the conduit that I am, I'll pass along her words again verbatim (more or less.)

"We have been in Seward for a week of pouring rain (intermittent WiFi signal, too) except for the day we hiked to the glacier! [My son] Bill went back the next day and took the difficult trail to the top of the mountain, to the ice fields. ... He said it was like being in Antarctica up there. The glaciers were gorgeous.

"We've done some exploring of the surrounding scenery and it's just beautiful. Even with the rain, the lushness and green in the forest almost looks tropical. I'd have never guessed so many beautiful ferns would carpet forest floors this far north.

"We donned rain gear and hiked a few short trails in the rain. I found a huge hole in among a tree root system that was attached to a huge rock wall and I'd bet my life it was a bear den. [We] trampled all around the entrance and [saw] what I think were droppings of a cub or two not far from the entrance. I decided NOT to knock on the 'door.'

"We did have a whale boat booked but they had to cancel every day due to 19 foot seas in the Gulf of Alaska! We are going to try one last time tomorrow and [then] we must move on to Homer on Tuesday. We can try again there, or take a shorter tour that stays in Resurrection Bay and at least see the fjords. ... They said the whales often come in there, too.

"Today the sun shown gloriously but seas hadn't diminished enough. Oh to see a whale after all else I've been so blessed to see would be the icing on a wonderful cake before leaving.

"Beautiful place, this planet Earth, as long as you get away from the hoards of people. I've made it a project of picking up trash in the forests; [I always] take a bag with me hiking. You wouldn't believe [the amount of tossed aside trash] even up here. People, collectively, are a scourge, I swear.

"I've eaten some great Alaskan halibut and cod and we did go to a stream where the salmon are on their tortuous trip upstream to spawn. Incredible how those fish jump to go against raging current on descending mountain rivers. ... 'Course, the bears are gathering at the major spawning sites for the hunt that will fatten them up for winter.

"After Homer, I'll be leaving out of Anchorage and not looking forward to it at all but Bill and Karen are beginning to think about their 5,000 miles trip [back to their home in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania] and I can't go into Canada [because I have no passport.]"

So, our own "den mother" will be coming back to sunny Sarasota one of these weeks. She's obviously having a wonderful time and well deserved, to which we can all say, "Amen."

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Friday, July 09, 2010

Memoirist, Check THIS out

DOORWAYS MEMOIRS, a new local Sarasota County publication is looking for memoir-type submissions of 1500 words or less and they even PAY for accepted stories: $50.00! BUT there are some restrictions. Such as:

You must be a permanent or part-time resident of Sarasota County, age 50 or older. Your story must be true (no fiction); and a maximum of 1500 words. One submission only is allowed during their reading period, which runs from July 1st to October 31st. Previously published stories are acceptable, as long as you own the copyright. And the stories must be submitted by e-mail. No snailmail submissions allowed. And no photos or attachments.

For more information, send a note to

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Monday, July 05, 2010

Top of the World -- and Higher!

The magic words for today are Chicken and Talkeetna. No, you don't have to use both of them in a sentence for the next FWA reading meeting. These two words are the names of some of the towns Susan Haley has been experiencing during her Alaskan sojourn.

Chicken is the home of the well-known Chicken Creek Cafe where it is said you can get a "fantastic lunch." Chicken is also the home of the Chicken Creek Gold Camp RV Park. And, yes, gold actually WAS mined at the Chicken Creek Gold Camp from 1938 to 1967. Chicken also has its own Post Master and U.S. Post Office where mail, we are told, can be picked up "twice a week." Sorry, no UPS Overnight Delivery.

If you're thinking about moving to Chicken, Susan assures us that "they do have a new school, a volunteer fire department, and a 911 system with a medical facility." Free helicoptor service to Anchorage is also provided for those with medical emergencies. What more could one ask, right?

Talkeetna, Susan tells us, is a "Different world. Different values. Different culture." ... The residents, she insists, want no part of "progress" and don't care much for a certain politician who describes herself as a gun totin' "rogue." "Everyone [in Talkeetna] pretty much has electricity," Susan says, "but many come to town for free water and hot showers and laundry. The most popular vehicle is an ATV in the summer and a snowmobile or dog team in the winter. No traffic, no redlights, no sales tax, and neighbors are family." Susan was so enthralled by this particular town that she'd "love to spend a whole summer right here in Talkeetna."

One of the recent highlights of Susan's rambles with her son, Billy, daughter-in-law Karen, and granddog, B.B. McPup, was their recent bush pilot flight through the Alaska Range that includes Denali. In fact, the pilot flew all the way around the massive mountain. Since Denali is 20,263 feet above sea level, the passengers and pilot all had to wear oxygen masks anytime the plane climbed above 18,000 feet.

Of the people who climb Denali the old fashioned way, with ropes and crampons, Susan says, "only 50% make it to the top where [the temperature often] drops to 40 below 0 in the SUMMER! ... Personally," Susan adds, "I'd rather not even try [to climb Denali] even if I could. I can't imagine surviving 40 below and god only knows what the wind chill factor would be."

The next update from Susan could come at anytime now, depending on the availability of internet service. In the meantime, additional background and beautiful photos of the Haley's Alaskan Adventure are available at Check it out.

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sue's Alaskan Adventures Abound

At this very moment, Susan Haley is somewhere in Alaska on another adventure with her son, Billy, and his wife, Karen, and their special canine family member, BB McPup. I had a long adventure-filled email from Sue and I promised I'd pass at least some of the info along to all of her friends down here in Civilization Land.

If you haven't heard, Billy and Karen have been touring the states since January in their pickup truck and pull-along trailer and they insisted that Sue join them for at least part of their Alaskan episodes. For those who are interested in Alaska, check out Karen's very interesting and beautifully photographed blog at

As for Sue's experiences in the past week or so, here's a few quotes from her email.

"Never did I fully comprehend the utter joy of experiencing my first viewing close up of a wolf in his own domain. No words can describe it."

"The wolf and the fox actually stalked right down the road along side us totally oblivious to our presence. [The wolf] was zeroed in on the herd of Dall Sheep about 50 feet off the road. The fox ... on the horseshoe hare we stopped to view. The fox just came out of a clump of bush. He was gorgeous, tri-colored with a magnificant tail that literally drug the ground!"

"We saw a herd of Dall Sheep [and] the lone wolf (later we saw his mate laying outside their den, which had been staked off and closed to all foot trafic, even the rangers left them alone. The guide said they had four pups but we didn't get to see them."

"This is the rest of the list which I will describe more fully later. All were magnificent! 2 large male grizzlies. 1 mama grizzly with two cubs. (Spectacular to see!). She was playing with them. 3 large grizzlies traveling together. ... A mama moose with two calves drinking in a stream not ten feet away! ... Our second mama grizzly this time nursing two little guys! One was blonde and one was dark chocolate. She, too, ignored us!"

She also saw "a beautiful huge golden eagle gliding over a canyon. Many birds and beautiful meadows of wildflowers. ... Saw several ground squirrels and we were lucky to see a huge beaver house and community but the beavers weren't home."

"It's like being in another world. "The Mountain" or as the Natives call it "Denallee" formerly known as Mt. McKinley is so massive that it is only fully visable 20% of the time. We were most fortunate to view both the south and the north summits at 20,849 feet but a huge hunk of the middle was cloud covered. Then we saw the glacier base."

"We learned that in total rock bulk, the "Mountain" is bigger than Everest and since it's a 'young' mountain, it may someday surpass Everest in height, too."

"The scenery is magnificent. Cool days but if the sun comes out for the whole day, one ends up in shirt sleeves. It never gets totally dark. Sunset is 1:30-ish a.m. and sunrise is 3:30-ish a.m. Really weird when trying to keep track of day and time."

All of that, I might add, happened during Sue's first few days in Alaska. Who knows what's she's done and seen since then. But have no fear. Whenever she sends an update, I'll be sure to share it with all of you. By the way, you can still send emails to Sue but don't bog her down with a lot of "writing business stuff" right now. Remember, she's on VACATION! And she can't always get back to you because WiFi service in Alaska is spotty at best. And that can be a Very Good Thing -- especially when you're on a vacation!

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Compare POD Publishers

For anyone considering using one of the popular POD Publishers for their next book please read a review of some of them in a newsletter called WritersWeekly. The newsletter is distributed FREE every Wednesday and is chock full of interesting and informative info for both published and unpublished writers, traditional or nontraditional.

The POD publishers reviewed this week are: BookLocker, iUniverse, CreateSpace, Trafford, Lulu, AuthorHouse, and Xlibris.

Check it out. You might save yourself some grief and also a lot of money. The website is

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Break

For those who weren't at the meeting this past Wednesday night, Sue and I asked for some time off and a unanimous vote said we could have it. So there will NOT be any OFFICIAL meetings at the fire station during the months of July and August. HOWEVER, the room at the fire station is still available for our group on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of every month. So anyone who wants to share some of their latest creations please feel free to drop in and read, just like always.

As I write this, Sue is already on her way to Alaska to meet her son, Billy, and his wife, Karen, who have been rambling around the country in their pickup and pull-along trailer, with BB McPup riding "shotgun." She left Sarasota this morning (the 21st) and will be landing in Alaska tomorrow at 1 a.m. Alaska time, 5 a.m. Sarasota time. So she's going to be one pooped-doobie by tomorrow morning. The length of her stay is uncertain at this point -- at least a couple weeks. My adventures will be a lot more modest: a 60+ mile bike trip through the Pine Creek Valley in Pennsylvania, deep in the wilderness heart of the infamous "Klinkton County." Plus I'll be doing some rambles around that whole area taking pictures for my website. But that won't happen till the end of next month. In the interim I'll be trying to catch up on some overdue stuff, re-doing my front yard, and studying some more suspense/mystery novels. Always something new to learn.

In the meantime, if anyone has anything they want to put on the blog, just send it to me and I'll be glad to post it. Sue may be out of touch for awhile but I'll be here for any emails, comments, suggestions, questions, or whatever.

So have a great summer! And keep in touch.

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Friday, June 11, 2010

New Words, Congrats & Recap

Two reminders: (1)our next meeting, our General Meeting, will be Wednesday evening the 16th, same time, same place, and (2) the Magic Words, contributed by Peter Frickel, are POOR and POUR. Use both words in one sentence, or each word in a separate sentence, or whatever other combination you can come up with. Your choice. And use your imagination. Let's see if we can create some unique sentences.

The congratulations go out to Kerri Dieffenwierth. The poignant and very original story she read at the last meeting about Chupa Chup, the old man who was trapped and died in an amusement park ride, placed 4th in a contest that had 400 entries. Way-to-go, Kerri! Let us know the details about the contest at the next meeting.

The meeting recap will include just about everyone who came to the meeting because nearly everyone brought something to read.

Joe Porter read a very moving piece about his experiences in Hiroshima shortly after The Bomb destroyed the whole city. Ed Lyman brought another one of his humorous short pieces. This one was about pickles and olives. Kris Palmer read a piece about Courage and demonstrated once again that she definitely has more courage than most of us. Our resident actor Tom Smith read, presented, and acted out his version of the Snow White fable. Jean Porter shared a couple poems about swimming and the current oil spill disaster going on in the Gulf of Mexico. One of our new visitors, Micki Knowles read her story about the Demonic Delights of the Cabbage Patch dolls. Phil Dobrin took us all into the operating room again and gave us a glimpse of what goes on during a heart operation. Andrew Parker read another one of his powerful and this time heart-rending story segments, about a young man who is trying to adjust to the results of a life-changing accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. And Peter Frickel brought the evening to a close with another poignant and powerfully presented dying scene from his novel.

During the meeting we also had a very lively and informative discussion about some of the pros and cons of traditional publishing versus author initiated publishing, usually referred to with the very broad and comprehensive terms "self publishing" and/or "POD publishing"

Don't forget to use our two Magic Words poor and pour in a sentence or two. CU all on the 16th.

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Meeting Wednesday Night

Hi All,
Just a quick note to remind everyone that our "reading meeting" is tomorrow night, same time, same place. So bring your latest creation and share it with the rest of us. As Sue said, however, keep in mind that we have to keep our readings fairly brief, no more than three pages, so everyone can have a turn. Everyone who WANTS a turn, that is. Reading is not required. Just encouraged. And comments and critiques are always welcome. The primary purpose of the readings of course is to get feedback so you can improve what you've written.

And remember the two magic words for tomorrow night are MASK and AUTHENTIC. You can use both in the same sentence or a different sentence for each word. Or some combination thereof.

See you then!

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Friday, May 28, 2010

E-Books: Wave of the Future?

This past Christmas, Amazon reported that for the first time ever, they sold more e-books than paper books. Other published reports suggest that there are six Kindle books sold now for every ten physical books, and the gap seems to be narrowing every day. So if you've been thinking about converting your paper book to an e-book, now's the time to do it.

There are a number of different sites and publishers and book shepherds and the like who will convert your book to an e-book for you. For a fee, of course. But there are also at least two sites that will convert your book for free! They will also list your book on their online e-book catalog. They will collect the money for your sales. And they will send the money to you on a regular schedule. What do you do? Not much. In fact, once you've completed the conversion process you don't have to do anything. Except put a link on your website and send out some emails announcing the good news. And add the availability to your automatic email signature, too. And, of course, promote the news in as many ways as you can.

All three of my books (CROSSHAIRS, DYING IN DEER COUNTRY and KRAZY KRITTERS OF FLORIDA) are now available as e-books at a site called They do the conversion process for free, list your book, along with a synopsis & cover on their site, and also make your book compatible with all the major eReaders, such as Kindle, Nook, Sony, iPad, etc. They also provide very detailed instructions on how to go about formatting your book to meet their specifications. Smashwords will also get your book listed in a catalog that they distribute to Barnes & Noble, the Apple iPad, and Sony e-book stores.

The Kindle bookstore ( is, of course, the best known e-book store at the moment. Their conversion process is much simpler than the Smashwords process but the final product is only compatible with the Kindle eReader. Although: Kindle also has free downloadable applications that can make their e-books readable on some of the other eReaders. Two of my three books are now available at the Kindle store. The third one has been delayed because the Kindle folks wanted some sort of written verification that I did, indeed, have the electronic rights to publish my book as an e-book. That required a letter to my publisher for clarification and validation, which I got, and then I forwarded that letter to the Kindle folks. Hopefully, my third book will soon be listed in the Kindle store as well.

That brings me to the final point. To do any of these conversions, you have to own or control the electronic rights for your book. If you've truly published your book yourself (bought the ISBN, did the layout, designed the cover, arranged for the printing, hold the copyright in your name, etc., etc.) you shouldn't have a problem. You still have ALL the rights because you were the author AND publisher. If you went through a traditional publisher, however, or through a POD publisher (like Infinity, AuthorHouse, Xlibris, PublishAmerica, etc.) you need to contact the publisher and make sure you do, indeed, still hold your electronic publishing rights. Some POD publishers will allow you to do your own e-books, some won't. Be safe. Find out for certain before you start the process. Just tell them what you want to do, and flat-out ask them if you, the author and copyright holder, have the electronic rights to publish your book yourself as an e-book. At least you'll know, right up front. This info should be spelled out in your contract as well, but sometimes the legal jargon of publishing contracts is hard for us laymen/laywomen to decipher.

E-books are here to stay, whether we like them or not. Get on board while you can. The train is definitely starting to pull away from the station.

Posted by
Russ Heitz

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Poetry Party!

I'm thrilled to report that our poetry workshop meeting, based on my input from members, was a roaring success! We had a great time and a great exercise teacher in Jim Kelly. Everyone took part and we were even treated to a 'song' by Joanne Phillips. Ed Ellis and Irv Newman our former NON poets both wrote their very first poem ever and both were great using Jim's technique. Dear Irv said it took him 89 years, but he wrote his first poem! And it DID NOT rhyme as he'd previously insisted a poem must. He was so excited, everyone's heart was warmed. I want to thank the group and especially Jim Kelly for his active role.

We did read the words chosen by Jim previously, forever and haven, and he chose Kerri to pick the next two words. This is ending up a fun exercise as well, and I encourage everyone to give it a try. Kerri chose the words: AUTHENTIC and MASK. You can use both words in one sentence or each one in a sentence of its own. Kerri will choose the next person to pick words.

Our own John McCafferty sent me a couple of cool links to check out. Just the titles of the links are interesting. How Not to Write!

While there check out the link to "Bad Writing Contest". Sorry but you'll have to copy and paste the link into your browser because I can't get it to auto link like Russ can. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. Now it suddenly turned blue. :) Go figure. John found this link at what he says is another great link for writers:

John does have the same email address and will soon be moving into his new condo in Philadelphia. He's not sure if they will make back to Florida for winter or not. I'll keep you posted.

Next Wednesday, June 2, will be our monthly Reading Meeting so get your excerpts ready, pay attention to time frames so all get a turn, and be prepared to offer input and ask questions. This is the purpose of reading excerpts. Look forward to seeing you all then. In the meantime, if you have news or information you'd like to post here send me or Russ an email with your request. And don't forget to occasionally take a look at your fellow writer's websites listed under the links. Not only will you get ideas for your own sites, but also get to know your writing friends better. Support! Support! Support! each other! The day will come when it will be your turn to be supported. "Writers Helping Writers" It's a two way street. I may considering doing the Networking Workshop again in the future. Also be thinking about summer hours. We will be settling that at the next meeting. Keeping in mind, of course, that we will still have access to the venue for smaller groups that are still in town and wish to get together.

Happy to report that Russ is recovering nicely from his nose surgery and Tuck is still progressing a little each day with the nerve damage as a result of his bout with Shingles. I visited him this morning. He remains cheerful and humorus and is anxious to get back to the group.

My best,

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Workshop Reminder!!

Hi Everyone! This is just a quick reminder that it's that time again! Tomorrow night, Wednesday, is our meeting and come prepared to write and enjoy poetry! I've recently discovered that several of you that are writing prose ALSO write poetry. The workshop, which I presented for the first time in New Port Richey at Pasco County's Mini Conference so deftly run by the Pasco County Group Leader, Dahris Clair, is going to be interactive. That is thanks to Jim Kelly, who has heartily agreed to work with me again tomorrow night. Jim, as many of you know, volunteers his enviable poetry talents at the Venice schools teaching young children the various ways they can express themselves.
Jim has a really neat writing exercise that we will all be asked to give our best try. Me included! I'm taken with his methods. So bring a tablet and a writing tool. :)

I regret to announce that Russ is having some minor out-patient surgery tomorrow and will not be able to attend the meeting, so I'll be going it alone. Sharon is still off galavanting around the country. :) I think we've lost her to her young love! I've asked Jim to sit up front and assist me with the poetry meeting. Linda White is out of town and regrets missing this meeting as poetry is 'her thing'. I'm happy to announce, too, that Cecile visited our Thursday night poetry gathering at the Rookery. It is such a 'poetical' setting. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Kris Palmer for suggesting that be our summer meeting place. We love it!
Several of our FWA members take part in that group, as well. In fact, started there before they came to FWA. Joe Porter, Gaile Harpan and Kris Palmer to name a few. Linda White, of course, leads that group. Joanne, too, attends there but began, I believe with the Suncoast Writers Guild, presently directed by Ann Favreau. All are welcome to visit each group. You all know how I push the networking element!
I'm happy to announce that Ann is home from the hospital now and on the mend. We sure have missed her in her absense. She became ill very shortly after the Annual Review in April. Dear Ann has a history of fighting like a warrior against bad health issues! She's an inspiration to all writers! And, all women!

I'm looking forward to having fun with a night of poetry. Hope to see you all there. If you have written a poem that you'd like to share, bring it along and we'll have time to do some poetry readings, as well as some lively discussion.

To get started, Jim Kelly's words for the sentence project were/are FOREVER and HAVEN. We already read Cecile's efforts last time. Those who would still like to participate, we'll do it tomorrow to lead off the workshop.

My thoughts to Russ and Lee! Russ assures me it's a minor procedure on his nose, but still wishing you the best!


Friday, May 14, 2010

Buyer Beware: All POD Publishers Are Not Alike

The Suncoast Writers Guild newsletter, PENPOINTS, recently printed a very interesting and sobering article about Print On Demand (POD) publishers. Many of them have only one goal: enriching their own bank accounts. And they do this by taking advantage of a writer's own wish to succeed. But they use that wish to their own advantage. The article mentions a specific POD publisher but to avoid any legal entanglements I won't include the name here but will email it to anyone who is interested. I will also email the entire article to you if you wish. Just drop me a note (

According to the article's author, Jean Airey, "Like many other companies around, [this POD publisher counts] on the fact that authors love their own books. They count on the fact that any author will want to buy some number of their books to give to friends and family -- and they [the POD publisher] will make money selling those books to 'their' authors. They lock the author into a seven-year contract where they own the rights to the book ... They say you don't have to pay them a cent to print your book -- and you don't. But you do have to buy your books from them -- and the books are way overpriced -- if you can even get them. There's horror story after horror story of people who ordered for a book signing they'd set up and they never got [the books]. [Bolded emphases are mine: rlh]

[This POD publisher] "recently sent a whole series of mailings to their customers," Airey goes on, "urging them to buy, say, 100 books (I'm not kidding), and 'Get your book on Oprah', or 'Get your book in the New York Times,' or even 'Get your book read by Stephen King.' King -- somewhat more accessible than the other two -- was not at all happy about having his name used in this fashion. The plan: you buy the books and [this POD publisher] would send some quantity of books to 'Oprah's staff,' etc.

"Who gets the money here?" Airey asks. [This POD publisher], right? How do you know if the books were even sent? What do you think [Oprah's] staff would do with an arrival of books they hadn't even asked for. This company is not alone, by far. Today anyone can set themselves up and call themselves a 'publisher.'

"Which is not to say that every 'POD' process is bad. Some are reasonable, realistic, and put out good product. But there are the masqueraders. And the key question you have to ask, first off, is: which way does the money go?"

Thanks, Jean Airey, for reminding us again that, when dealing with salesmen, that well known Old Law is still very much in effect: Buyer Beware.

Posted by Russ Heitz