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, 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