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

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Happy Easter, Passover, Spring and a New Link

Happy Tuesday! I think. I'm never quite sure what day it is when I work all night. Of course, I'm not a reliable source even when I don't. :) I hope everyone has a wonderful and peaceful Easter weekend however you chose to observe it. Russ and I will be doing the Suncoast Writers Guild's Annual Review on Saturday. Some of you will be there. Ed Ellis is reading the prose and Jim Kelly is reading the poetry. Russ and I are the Reviewers. This is my third year to be honored as Poetry Reviewer and Russ will be joining me this year to do the prose, formerly done by James Abraham. I think Russ will do a fine job for Ann Favreau's group.

I wanted to make sure that everyone realizes, too, that our next meeting is Wednesday, April 7th, a week from tomorrow! Due to the way the calendar falls, we have three weeks between meetings this time. It's been two weeks for the last few months, and I've had a couple of people ask. Decided I better make a post.

Also, if you will look to your left at the Link Section, I've added Weslynn McCallister and Jim Kelly's website URLs to our links. Remember, exploring each other's websites is a good way to get to know each other better. I understand Russ's site has undergone some upgrading to include his new book, "Dying In Deer Country" and he is also having them converted to e-books which which will be available for sale on his site.

My own new book, "Amber Returns to Maine" was just officially released last Friday and I've added a page for that in the Rainy Day Room for those who are familiar with I don't sell anything on my site, however. I have them myself until it gets up on Amazon.

For all our poets, April is National Poetry Month and I'll be doing special Poetry tributes in the two E-zines I write for, The Infinite Writer and Fox and Quill. Checks out the links in my auto-signature on my email. I do include a 'stage' for other poets. It's not all about 'me'. Mostly, it's a tribute to the art of Poetry, itself. Which, by the way, is growing in popularity due to the expression possible in a few powerful words expressed well. Our group is blessed with some wonderful poets. Some who also write prose.

Be blessed.
Be safe.
Be writing!


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Word Project for Next Meeting

Hello again!

Rod has chosen his two words for the sentence writing project. They are:


Rod will pick the next person to have a turn choosing the word or words. It can be only one if you prefer. I like having two and it can be a challenge to use them both in the same sentence.

Have a great day and watch for a rainbow!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Apologies!!

Hello everyone . . .

I must apologize for being so long in recapping the meeting held last Wednesday night. We did have a good turn out to hear Elizbeth Sims and I want to thank her publically. I did so privately. I'm NOT that lax. :)

It has simply been a crazy week. I did manage to meet with Sharon today and wish her and her new/old boyfriend a wonderful time on their trip to points west, and north, maybe even east! The Colonel assured me he would bring her back to us safe and sound.

Russ has family visiting from Pennsylvania and we are both attempting to prepare for two upcoming events we've commited to, the Suncoast Writers Guild Annual Review and Russ is doing a Mystery workshop for the St. Pete FWA WGL, John Rhege. (Please forgive any misspellings, I'm going from memory here, which is dangerous)

In addition, we are both preparing for the New Port Richey FWA Mini-Conference, where I'll be doing a poetry workshop. Russ and Jim Kelly are attending together. I wish more of you would have taken advantage of this "One Day" experience where the one and only Jerry Simmons will be the keynote! He's only the most knowing person in the Publishing Business today, arguably, bar none.

I've had great feedback regarding Elizabeth's visit with our group and I'm happy to announce she has 'penciled' in a return visit for the General Meeting in April. She couldn't write it in stone yet, however, will keep me posted.

Thank you all and I will now return to my four standing editing jobs! Yup, a crazy week!


Monday, March 15, 2010

Reminder Time!!

Is everyone ready for Wednesday's meeting? It is going to be special! I'm receiving some enthusiastic feedback from the group, so I expect an extra good turnout, especially now with the later daylight. Make sure you bring a notebook and pens as I'm sure you will want to take notes in addition to Elizabeth's hand-outs. She has also expressed a willingness to answer as many questions as she can following her presentation. I'm as excited to meet her as all of you.

We will start promptly at 6:30 this week, so if you want extra networking time, come early. I will take about ten or fifteen minutes to do our morning/mourning sentence project and make a few announcements. I will introduce Elizabeth following that and she can take the time necessary before break. If you want to do the sentences using the words, have them ready and put them in the suggestion box for Russ to draw. If it isn't in the box, you'll have to hold it until next time as the meeting can't be held up when we have a guest speaker.

Looking forward to seeing everyone.


Monday, March 08, 2010

My Monday Surprise to the Group

Over the course of our growth in the Sarasota County FWA Chapter, it became clear that our group enjoyed interaction and discussion. We have such a diverse and talented group, we've usually drawn from our own for our learning experiences. Occasionally, however, I am honored to have an opportunity to present a guest speaker that is special. This is one of those times! In fact, when first contacted, I was a bit speechless and said so!

You've all heard me recommend the magazine, "Writer's Digest". Some of you have subscriptions as I write this. How about a guest speaker that is actually a contributing editor to this magazine? How about a guest speaker who is a professional novelist, currently with a mystery series, The Rita Farmer Mysteries, under contract with St. Martin's Minotaur? How about a professional speaker teaching and coaching at Writers Conferences as well as mentoring individuals on the craft of good writing? What if you had a chance to meet any one of these kind of guest speakers free of charge with you as her sole subject to test a new teaching technique on how to write better and more freely? Wouldn't you jump at the chance? You would if you truly desire to be a writer!

Okay, what if you had the opportunity to meet all three at once? Would that not be the opportunity of new writer's lifetime? It would be for me and I've been in this business for ten years! That is my surprise! All three will be present at our March 17th meeting in the form of one professional and talented writer, Elizabeth Sims! Elizabeth's list of accomplishments can be viewed at

Elizabeth is in town for a period of time visiting her mother and she honored me with taking the time to find us! Now, you see why I was speechless when I got her message! We've since had email exchanges and today a lovely phone conversation. I was so impressed with her down to earth 'niceness'and caring for the craft. That quality I always look for in people. I'm so NOT a fan of condescension! I'd like to quote a few of her words.

"Right now I'm working on some new teaching techniques to help people write better and more freely, and I need some test subjects! I'd like to meet with your group and try them out on you. This would be free of charge. You guys would be doing me a favor volunteering as my 'guinea pigs' for an evening or two. Of course, I'd be glad to answer questions afterward about writing and getting published, etc."

Elizabeth Sims
"Literature makes life worth living."
The Rita Farmer Mysteries
The Lillian Byrd Crime Series
Contributing Editor, Writer's Digest Magazine

As your group leader, I'm honored to be able to bring such a professional woman to our group as a guest. I assure you, this is NOT an opportunity to miss. I can guarantee one thing, Russ, Sharon and I will be there with bells on! Personally, I am thrilled at the prospect of meeting Elizabeth and I'm no stranger to meeting celebrities and have been most fortunate enough to call some of them friends now. Celebrities started where we start. They are dedicated to their craft and work darn hard to achieve their success. Some have horror stories about what they endured. How can they not deserve their status, success and our respect?

Mark your calendars for this 17th meeting as being a special not miss event! I'd hate for anyone to lose this chance.


Saturday, March 06, 2010

Meeting Recap Plus a Big Surprise!!

We had another good meeting on the 3rd of March! I want to thank all those who braved the cold to come out. Especially, Kris, who resorted to 'determined' effort to make it at all. Everyone was thrilled to see her when she came in the door after eight o'clock. Talk about spirit! Irv immediately told her he loved her. :) And we all do!

Most got a turn to read and lively discussion followed. I received lots of positive feed back, but do understand that a couple of folks felt I'd been unfair on the reading time issue. I assure everyone, it is never my intent to be unfair. This 'time issue' seems to be an ongoing problem that must be solved. There were a total of three people that never did get their turn to read on Wednesday night. I won't embarrass them by naming names, but three people who'd been previously promised by me they'd be able to read didn't get to because some balk at going first! Once they see that time is running out and folks are getting restless, then they signal me they'll abstain.
Now, this is happening when we have a small turnout of 12-15. What about when the weather improves and we have longer daylight hours and 20-25 turn out? What? Those that don't get a turn, won't come? What?
As group leader, this puts me in a most precarious position as I want everyone to come, get something out of the meeting, and also have sessions that are just about learning! That's what a writing group is all about. Writers helping writers! It's not just a stage or theater for each to perform. To me, you are ALL stars already and it's my job to make it work! Work, even though we continually grow and add members.

Here, is but one of the areas where I depend on Russ and Sharon. I want concensus. It's not about 'my way' but the group's way! So I've enlisted their help and opinions and we've reached agreement. Poets are not subject to these strident guidelines because most never read more than three poems anyway and that is equal to maybe a page. Russ is the most concise and to the point so he agreed to write up the solution. As follows . . .

We will set a page limit rather than a time limit. Doing this will also provide each writer the discipline to 'select' the section he or she is going to read with that page limit in mind. This can be three pages of double-spaced, proper manuscript set up. If single spaced, it will be a page and one-half. This will entail thinking of the piece more as a complete 'scene' or 'mini-story' in itself. You would be allowed an oral introduction to set up the 'scene' so it will be understood, not a rambling, five-minute preliminary explanation.
This is in keeping with the idea that every word, sentence, paragraph and page of any piece of writing, fiction or non, long or short, should be absolutely essential to the overall piece. It should serve a specific purpose to the story, or not be included in the story. The writer should be able to explain, at least to him/herself why that particular scene is in the story or article at that particular place.

Thank you, Russ! In the business, such a procedure is often referred to as the 'elevator pitch'. Meaning a writer should be able to say what his/her entire book is about in no more words than a ride to the ninth floor on a elevator would take! Google 'elevator pitch' and you'll see. That's how well you should know your own work.
If you want to have chapter by chapter input, it isn't necessary to have each detail and thought, each line of dialogue read to an audience of listeners. Orally explain in a minute or less, what the scene is taken from and then read the part you may be struggling with. End it by saying what decision is giving you difficulty and then commentors, too, have to be somewhat brief. Not everyone can comment every time, and it isn't the time to break off into a long discussion, explanation or defense about the commentor's comment. That can be done privately if there seems to be an issue unsolved. I might add here, that a writer needs to develop a thick skin. If one can't take constructive criticism, one won't make it as a writer. Why else would one even ask for critique? Well-intended criticism is not disdain for your work and NOT rejection. Although, you'll take a lot of that, too.

This seems to be the only logical way to solve this problem to everyone's advantage. This procedure holds at the first monthly "Reading Meeting" only. The second General Meeting will be part workshop or discussion, questions and anwsers, an occasional guest speaker, and three or four pre-selected readers only. It is about learning, too!

We will be incorporating Ed's idea of discussing one or two words in a sentence to launch each meeting. If you decide to write a sentence containing a subject and a verb using these words, put it in the suggestion box upon arrival and we will randomly draw out about five, share them, and then move on. For the next meeting, Russ picked two words that sound alike but aren't spelled the same or mean the same. They are: MORNING and MOURNING.
Russ will pick the next person to pick the words and so on.

If anyone has a better idea or a complaint about this procedure, please feel free to share it with Russ, Sharon, or me. But something HAS to be adopted and enforced or we have continual hurt feelings and chaos. I don't want that and the group doesn't want that.

Now, I'll give you a day or two to absorb this new info and then I'll tell you my very exciting surprise news! Yup, that's a 'hook'. Every writer must know how to do the HOOK.

Till Monday . . . .

Susan, Russ and Sharon thank you.

Important Notice!!

I don't know what it is with me and computers but I've just gotten word that some scam hacker has lifted my sucarha at Yahoo email and is sending out a plea for money because I'm stranded in London! Yes, England! I assure everyone that it is NOT from me and I am NOT stranded in London! I'm getting to the point where I am going to adopt Irv Newman's idea and get the hell off of computers!

A meeting recap coming later . . .