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, 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