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

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

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Great Meeting but Sad News

Wednesday was a great meeting. We had a small turn out but a lot of fun and some fabulous readings. Kris Palmer read another excerpt from "Dancing With an Elephant" and it was excellent. Two new folks came, Pat Cassidy and Kathy Marine, who is putting together a book and photos about Mote Marine. Howz that for your job matching your name! Tom Smith returned for his second meeting and brought his adorable mother, Selma. She was a dear and enjoyed her evening out so much. Rod and Russ both read one of Ed Lyman's funny stories and Ed Ellis read his best piece of writing yet! We all remarked on how he was improving! Joanne entertained with her usual humor and also read one of our traveling Sharon's poems that is a favorite of hers. Kerri returned and we were glad to see her back. We didn't get back from break until almost 8:30 so spent the last thirty minutes talking about anything and everything including the horrors of quitting smoking. Spurned, of course, by Ed Ellis teasing me about my seemingly continued failure to make the mark. Cecile shared Jim's two 'words' that she'd used in a short poem. The rest will be saved for the 19th as Jim is up in New York until the 9th.

The sad news is Bart Stamper's revealing that this would be his last meeting as he and his family are moving permanently to Orlando for his work. He promised he'd visit when possible and WOULD keep in touch with us on the status of his incredible story on Viet Nam. He read us one final excerpt which totally moved the group. I feel sure that when this book is released, he'll have his first big sale to all of us. Also, that he would remain active in FWA at a group up there. I think there are two in the area. I believe he will keep in touch or we'll all bombard him with emails until he feels guilty! :)) Following Bart's reading, Joanne asked me to read her poem that she'd read when she and Bart presented their duo illustrating the power of a poem to bring together the longer prose. It is an amazing phenomona, really.

Kerri shared an announcement of a one day workshop being put on by the Poynter Institute featuring Pulitzer Prize winning Thomas French who wrote, "Zoo Story" about life and death at the Lowry Park Zoo to be released in July. Mr. French will be teaching how to write a non-fiction book, including a winning proposal, in "Turn You Idea Into a Book." It's to be held in St. Petersburg on May 22. Kerri said she had attended one of the Poynter Institute workshops in the past and that they are fabulous. For more information, visit:

One of the first place winners of the "Do It Write" Literary Competition at the FWA Mini Conference in New Port Richey, Laura Aldir-Hernandez, has requested the help of fellow FWA members. Her short children's story,"The Cobra Dance" is entered in the International Competition run by Viewer votes determine the winner in each category. Here's how to help Laura. The story is in the form of a 61 second video and each viewing counts as a vote. You can vote as many times as you wish between now and May 31st. They will be busy so you may not get through on the first try. Laura asks that we try again.

Here's what to do: Go to

I don't know why these aren't making links so you may have to copy and paste. Russ?????? :) I did remind the group on Wednesday, "Remember FWA's Motto! Writers Helping Writers. Someday it may be you that will appreciate support from fellow members."

Steve Choby has missed a couple of meetings, but he's the one that was challenged to try a new look at the art of poetry. I've since learned that Rod, too, has gained an appreciation of the art. Previously, the group inquired if and when we'd do a poetry workshop. I explained that I was doing one at the NPR Conference and then, if all goes well, do if for our group. I wrote and Linda White approved the outline of the workshop itself for me, Our capable Jim Kelly added a teaching method and agreed to help me as co-presenter in Linda's absense. Jim did a great job and we've decided to do it on the 19th as Jim will be returning back north for an extended time after June. So put your poetic side in your hat and come prepared to have fun. People always enjoy these interactive workshops where the attendees can take part.

That's a wrap for this time. If I've forgotten anyone's notice please let me know. I see nothing else in my blog folder.


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Help! Typist Needed -- Must Travel

Our member emeritus, Ed Lyman, desperately needs someone to type his 2-page manuscripts. He hasn't written anything since his daughter died almost a year ago but now he's writing again and he has two stories ready to go.

The problem is, Ed is not a very good typist. In fact, he's a very BAD typist even though he has a computer and knows all about E-Bay. To compound the problem, Ed's handwriting, by his own admission, is none too good either. But his brain works just fine, thank you very much. That's evident in the clever and humorous little stories he's been writing since the Stone Age.

So, bottom line. Ed needs someone to come to his beautiful condo at the corner of Jacaranda Blvd. and Route 41 in Venice maybe once or twice a month, depending on his production. And he doesn't want any freebies either. He'll DEFINITELY PAY whatever you want to charge to type up his stories. But he needs you to come to his condo so he can interpret his handwriting while you're typing up his manuscript.

Anyone who wants to give Ed a hand should see him tonight at the meeting. Or send me an email and I'll give you his phone number so you can set up a time.

Let's get Ed back into his writing mode again!

Posted by
Russ Heitz