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 29, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tables were laden with all sorts of goodies and treats... Cookies, cakes, pies, finger foods...even champagne and coffee!

Yep. You guessed it! This Wednesday was our Christmas Holiday Party!
This is a special day at Sarasota Writers.... We bring our loved ones and introduce them to the other folks who are helping us chase our dreams and pushing us to grow and be better in our writing.
The first part of our meeting was spent chatting, hugging, and sharing our best holiday wishes with one another....and then we got down to business.
Don Westerfield kicked us off with a Christmas poem he'd written that called to mind warmth, comfort and love.
Kitt Crescendo read a poem on behalf of George Collias, author of Myahmuh: a Novel of Miami, Florida and Sandspurs: Limericks by a Native Floridian. I'm posting it below for the enjoyment of those from the group who weren't able to be there to appreciate his playful wittiness.
The Night Before Christmas (with apologies to Clement Moore)
'Twas the night before Christmas and at the Nokomis F.D.
All the writers were stirring, except maybe me.
I had over-eggnogged it before the meeting,
And at the moment my head was taking a beating.
We had all ordered pizza as energy for the night,
And the growling of stomachs had grown to its height.
Kitt began speaking, I think about IMAX,
Or it could have been something that sounded like climax?
Peter had a new book and he gave a great talk,
I knew if I had to follow him I'd just have to walk.
JoAnne read some good stuff about sailing and boats,
I roused myself and began taking illegible notes.
When from the parking lot we heard a noise so shrill,
Had the pizza guy's car hit my Honda Fit's grill?
Then there crashed through the door a man who, for some reason,
Was dressed all in red - was Dominos observing the season?
Over his shoulder this bearded guy had a huge sack,
There was surely enough pizza there to feed our whole pack.
George shouted "Food!" and tackled the guy,
Rod ripped his bag open and yelled, "Where is the pie?"
We all crowded over him, looking for eats,
Any pizza would do whether vegetarian or meats.
We found dolls and trucks, zombies and plastic pheasants,
But there was no food inside, only lots of crummy presents.
Then the man in red bellowed, "I'm not the pizza guy with yummies!
Don't you know Santa Claus when you see him, you dummies?"
We were astonished and pleaded, "We're sorry!" and more,
But dragging his bag, he stormed through the door.
We saw him mount a sleigh and yell, "Go!" to his deer,
Then they all flew away - let me tell you, that was queer.
We were sure he'd be back with toy trains and fudge,
For Santa's not known for holding a grudge.
But we heard him exclaim as he clutched his torn cap,
"If you think I'll be back next year, you're all full of crap."
Megan Brown was back from college and read a peace she'd written for the holiday. Although it was untitled, it was definitely full of the Christmas spirit: Peace, the Christmas Tree and what it symbolizes, celebration, joy and gifts. It really was quite lovely.
Ernie Ovitz took us to his newest Work In Progress, a sequel to The Seventh King. In this piece we are introduced to Nicholas, Bishop of Myre. He's been teaching the young children of the Roman empire. He's looking on as they play, enjoying their innocence and joy...and very concerned about what lies ahead. Why was this appropriate for Christmas time? Because that Bishop later becomes Saint Nicholas.... We all thought it was a really cool historical tie to the night.
Jim Kelly, author of From The Ember and the Place shared some of the poetry from the 5th grade class at Englewood Elementary where he spends some time helping to draw out the out-of-the-box thinkers and poets in the fertile minds of the younger generation. Their work under his guiding hand is truly impressive.
Beth Rice, author of I'm Adopted, I'm Special and Animal Tales blog, made a triumphant return to our group after a several week hiatus. She announced that one of her pieces had been published in the Florida Writers Association's official publication, The Florida Writer! If you have a subscription, you'll find her poem (untitled) on page 33.
Author of Adventures of a Sea Hag, JoAnne Phillips, shared a poem she wrote entitled "My Perfect Man." This poem talked about the fact that the perfect man isn't always perfect in appearances, but in the way he treats her, the respect he shows her...and all the other intangibles that matter so much in a long termed relationship. It was quite romantic in the way that true unconditional love can be.
Kerri Dieffenwierth made the fantastic announcement that she'll be teaching at State College of Florida where she'll have the opportunity to create her own curriculum to inspire and teach in composition. We know she's going to be a rock star. (Some of us maybe even mentioned coming to sit in on her classes...)
After much discussion about our next meeting, we decided to forego our first meeting in January as everyone would rather be celebrating New Years Day watching football or enjoying family. We will reconvene on Wednesday, January 15, 2014.
Happy New Year, Everyone!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Our first meeting of December found us without JoAnne Phillips as she'd been in an accident earlier. Her feisty personality was missed. Thankfully, we've heard that she's okay and has been seen out and about enjoying the holiday festivities.

Rod DiGruttolo facilitated our meeting and did a great job, as usual.

Our first reader for the evening was Ed Ellis. He shared a piece for critique called "The Power of Abstraction." This piece is one written for his training manuals. In it he helps to define abstraction as it relates to perception and reality.

Next, Jenny Oberg read a piece she called "Letting Go" from her Big Book. In her piece she talks about how finding a way to let go of the past and other things that hold you down open you to freedom. It was beautifully written and spoke to the joys of a well lived life.

Ernie Ovitz decided to change things up a bit, and instead of sharing from his work-in-progress, he read something he'd created for work. In it, he writes a "buyer beware" type alert for flood insurance and the rate increases due to the ambiguity in the way the policies are written...and that a fast fix is unlikely.

Author of  Sandspurs: Limericks by a Native Floridian and Myahmuh: A novel of Miami, Florida, George Collias, shared an excerpt from the second book about the killer and his bouts with sore muscles and headaches due to the exertions his killings have been putting on his not-so-in-shape body. He followed it by sharing a piece called Misadventures of a Fly Fisherman written by Jack Hemingway, a personal friend and son of Ernest Hemingway. In the portion he shared, Jack finds a creative way to smuggle his fly fishing rod with him as he parachutes from a plane into German occupied territory during war time.

Next, one of our resident poets and author of The Place: a collection of poemsJim Kelly, shared a couple of his newest writings. Below is one of the pieces he wrote on 11/5/13.


Sunrise and sunset
pamper the sky
on the edge
where the sea meditates.

Waves tumble ashore:
searching for shadows
they can not own,

wrestling castles from moorings,
erasing memories
little feet scatter in the sand.

Tides rise and fall
through the stillness of night
sifting windows of broken shells.

Full of itself,
the moon reappears
to dance on a glass-like floor;

the ocean unravels in whispers,
like the hem
on a ballroom gown.

Jung Sok Yo asked Kitt Crescendo to read the next portion of his work-in-progress where Father Sebastian and Helga are reunited on her father's passing. This particular part uncovers illicit feelings between Helga and the priest as he tries to come to terms with his feelings and do the right thing based on his vows to the church. The writing has improved significantly since the beginning. The biggest suggestions given were about chapter length (too long right now) and overuse of certain words.

George Mindling, author of US Air Force Tactical Missiles, shared some interesting discoveries he'd made surrounding some of the strange idiosyncrasies regarding the English language in relation to BBC. He also shared with us a list of collective nouns he'd found in a recent post called Fun With Words: Collective Nouns. He also shared a site where you can find editors marks and what they mean.

Kitt Crescendo shared a poem she'd written called Redemption where she put a bit of a twist on the child's prayer "Now I lay me down to sleep". Overall it was well received, but she was asked to speak more slowly next time.

Finally, Rod DiGruttolo closed us out by sharing a portion of his manuscript called "Disciple of Darkness" in which the father of his protagonist is introduced. The man is definitely not a nice person and has ties to the criminal underworld. In this particular chapter, World War I was just beginning and Mr. Wilkes has drawn the attention of the local law. Although nothing is ever proven, it becomes obvious that no charges will ever be filed against Mr. Wilkes because every witness to his misdeeds has a strange way of turning up dead.

Overall, the meeting was enjoyable and there were new faces who joined our group. We look forward to our Christmas party tomorrow.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I know I'm a bit behind on the blogs, but I will be catching up this week.

Please remember that our Christmas meeting is on December 18th. Please feel free to bring your families and some munchies. Any final donations for the use of the room can also be given to George to give to the firehouse.

Rod DiGruttolo and George Mindling shared facilitator duties for our last meeting in November.

Our first reader was Susan Davis. She's in the process of creating a workbook. She shared with us her prologue which dealt with Innovation & Collaboration and Beliefs v. Limits. This will be a Self Help workbook that combines goal attainment with philosophy. She needed some fresh eyes and insights into her work-in-progress and the gang was ready with some great ideas.

JoAnne Phillips, author of Adventures Of A Sea Hag, shared the next portion of her current project, Matrix of Life. This chapter, Jack, was about Legion the dog's competition...a hare named...(you guessed it)...Jack. He gave a new name to "mating like rabbits" and he was indiscriminate about his choices of partners. He'd had affairs with anything that moved, leaving young JoAnne to wonder if the eggs the hens laid would be bunny-free. Grandpa made excuses for the lothario, stating, "That's his job, and he loves his work." Unfortunately, Jack made the mistake of trying to plant his seeds in their goat, Billy...who kicked Jack into the afterlife. JoAnne also shared with us a poem called "Out There" that left us to think.... We are not alone.

Don Westerfield followed with a story written about the first Monoplane and how a man named Lou came to build it. It was an interesting tale of how the building of this particular plane was inspired to be built and that it was only due to the fact that he was the lightest of the group that Lou's friend, Bill, found himself in the cockpit.

Next, Ed Ellis shared a short story he'd created called "A Glowing Green Thumb." This particular story was set in the year 2035 where everyone lived in pods and all communication came through something called "The Pep." The communiques were called PIPs and utilized both shorthand and a limit of 140 characters per message. Think Twitter. The end game to this particular tale? They were invaded by dandelions.
Author of Sandspurs: Limericks By a Native Floridian and Myahmuh: A Novel of Miami, Florida, George Collias, shared Chapter 5 from the latter book with us. In this portion we got to watch the other kids from the perspective of their friend killed in a hit & run accident. Basically, this chapter walks us through a morning with Ray as he gets up to start his morning paper route with his dog, Mo, in tow. George also treated us to one of his little shorts...memories of joining the Marines and Boot Camp. There he learned new insults and how to do push ups with an 80 lb pack on his back.

Kerri Dieffenwierth returned to us to share a moving piece she wrote called "Flesh Undone." Thei piece was so powerful, it brought tears to many eyes that night. In this story she drew us in with the eyes of a young mother, terrified and angry as her child was born both ill and too early. She shared with us the fear and rage and the sense that the world is spinning out of control as she waited by her son's side in a Neonatal ICU, willing fight and life into the son she wasn't sure would make it. Against all odds, he survived. Now he has the ability to infuriate and frustrate just as any child can.

Bart Stamper also came back and shared a piece called "Insertion." In this particular story he was assigned to a special killer team mission to find POWs. There was a thick fog over the mountains as they flew. Although the fog hid them from sight, it also hid the mountains from them, making the flight to the drop zone almost as dangerous as the mission. I strongly recommend you click the link on Bart's name to visit his blog and his incredible stories of his time in Vietnam. Also on his site is a Memorial. If you visit there, you'll be introduced to those who didn't make it.

Andrew Parker shared Chapter 4 from his newest work, "Playing Chess at 91." In this particular chapter we learn that the protagonist is not a fan of the physical therapist assigned to work with him. Unfortunately he's injured and has no choice but to accept her care. Unfortunately she falls asleep on him naked, and no one will take him seriously when he asks to be rescued from beneath her prone form. They keep insisting that she knows what he's doing. Of course, what else can one expect in a boardinghouse run by pharmacists drugging the food. Did I mention the pharmacy plans on bringing more monkeys? Andrew always leaves us guessing...even as we're laughing.

Gene Brown got the courage to stand up and read a Prelude to his current project, a historical piece surrounding the Incans and how they made their gold and silver disappear before the "bearded warriors on horses" could come in with their greed and steal it. The protagonist in this story is a young warrior who is to be entrusted to hide the precious metals from the greedy folks who are willing to hold hostages and kill to get their hands on wealth. It's a good start and a very interesting concept. We're looking forward to seeing the direction he takes with his story.

Ernie Ovitz took the feedback we'd given him and re-read the chapter he'd done on the chase with Red Beard and the Romans when they kidnapped the ambassador's wife. The storyline ran much more smoothly as he adjusted some of his description and the way he laid out the dialogue. Well done!

Jung Sok Yo asked Kerri to read the next portion of his manuscript. The scene was well written as a party at the Waldorf-Astoria to honor Sam, one of New York's elite. Unfortunately, the three women in his life are all there and appear to be drawing invisible lines in the sand for a big, non-verbal cat fight. The female claws and the nuances that happen among jealous women was definitely caught in this scene.

Robbin Thorpe was our final reader of the evening with a piece entitiled "Retired." In this story are bickering spouses on a trip in colder weather who can't seem to agree on much of anything....and with whom technology is beginning to pass by. My favorite line was "The computer is in the clouds." It was clear that the protagonist had no understanding of cloud technology. Definitely a playful way to end the night.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Wednesday November 6, 2013 Meeting

Last week many of us hoped to see Kerri Dieffenwierth so that we'd have an opportunity to congratulate her on her most recent accomplishments. Kerri recently won the 2013 Creative Nonfiction Contests Judge's Selection in Still - the journal for her piece called A New Bitterroot. She was also a finalist for the 2013 VanderMey non-fiction prize in Ruminate Magazine for her submission, Swamp Angel Stomp. Unfortunately, she was unable to be there, but we still cheered her in spirit.

Also, a friendly reminder.... our annual Christmas Party is scheduled for Wednesday, December 18th. Families are welcome. Everyone is encouraged to bring some festive food to share with the group. Any leftovers will be given to our gracious hosts, the Nokomis Fire Department. Also, if you haven't contributed to the room fund, please feel free to hand your donation to George as we'll be presenting it to the fire department on the day of the party.

George Mindling, author of U.S. Air Force Tactical Missiles, was our first reader. He shared with us an old treasure he found while going through some of his old projects and found a piece about a conversation with Shirley MacLaine. In his story he documents a call in to a local radio show where Shirley was the guest. As the call came from his home (and his daughter), he was prompted to record it for posterity purposes. The subject brought up by his daughter on the call was the metaphysical and pets. I don't think it surprised anyone to hear that the subject matter was too complex for a mere call in to the radio show. The cheekily dry humor at a celebrity giving spiritual advice was fabulously spot on.

Next, Kitt Crescendo shared her poem, Brave, about personal strength, compelled by the bullying situation that hit the headlines based on the situation in the Miami Dolphins locker room. The topic sparked a lively discussion surrounding what peoples' perceptions of bullying are as well as how to respond to bullying (and our personal responsibility to be stand up for ourselves).

Pat Patterson followed with a big thank you to the folks who gave him critique on his manuscript. Included on his list were Ernie, Ed, Don, JoAnne, Jack and Peter. He also shared his discovery of a software program called Clear Edits that assisted him with both line and content edits for his WIP. The cost is $80 and comes with email support. Instead of sharing from his manuscript, Pat has boldly branched out with his writing into the world of poetry. He wrote a lovely piece called "To My Grandson" where he answers the boy's question about where the wind comes from. His second poem was simply called "Dan", a loving tribute to the brother he lost and the son he gained who honors his name.
Our next reader, George Collias, author of Sandspurs: Limericks by a Native Floridian and Myahmuh: A Novel of Miami, Florida read an excerpt from the latter book. In this part we are introduced to a murderer through the eyes of a dead boy's ghost as he performs his rituals of putting cigarette burns on the body of his victim post mortem. The tone is definitely eerie and leaves us wondering how this horrible criminal will be caught.

Ernie Ovitz follows with some information surrounding how he researched his book and characters. He explained that his best sources of information were on descriptions he found of Armenia and the great persecution in 301 AD that were outside the traditional text books/history books/encyclopedias. He then continued on to Chapter 5 of his WIP in which the ambassador finds out that his wife has been kidnapped and makes plans to give chase to get her back.

Our in house comedian, Ed Ellis, read a short story he wrote entitled "My Feathered Friend." In the story he talks about the ice shanty he and the other half of his "honey do" twins build together. Their whole goal in building this fancy shanty was to drink Wild Turkey and escape their wives and the "honey do" lists that went with them. Once it was complete, their days were filled with the three "F"s. Fishing, Football and Feathers...until the blizzard that came that winter. The cold combined with the turkey caused them to hallucinate bikini clad co-eds out on the ice. As is always the case with an Ed Ellis story, the ending wasn't that simple...or that boring. The punchline came when the "honey do" twins discovered their missed opportunity. They found out that the co-eds weren't hallucinations at all, but participants in a contest held by the local radio station.

The sweetly soft spoken Barbara Frickel took a turn at sharing next. Het two pieces were inspired by her meditations (along with her mother's birthday) and magic pencils (her magical version of colored pencils). Her first piece was a dedication to her mom called "The Color of Comfort". For Barbara, the color umber reminds her of softness and warmth...and her mother. The second was called "My Tree" and was written while at Myakka Lake looking at her tree and meditating. To her, that tree spoke of strength, friendship and a promise of good times. Between the art work and photo and Barbara's sweet words, she warmed our hearts and left us smiling.

Don Westerfield wrote a couple of poems to honor those like him who served our country well as we headed towards the Veterans Day holiday. The two poems were entitled "The American Fighting Man" and "Fields of Stone." Both of his poems were powerful pieces for different reasons, so I selected one to share on the blog.

Fields of Stone

Taps ever echo o'er this hallowed place.
Flags adorn where fallen heroes lie in grace.
Here, each dawn reveals an alabaster glow
of white stones in perfect patterns, set
Row on row.
They honor those who served this country well,
reminding us why; why each hero fell.
On each stone a name, for Ages to cite;
memories etched in glory on a field of
White on white
Letters spell only of who the grave;
Even requiems can't acknowledge all they gave.
Our tears yet flow like the blood most shed
upon foreign shores where they
Bled and bled.
Not for self, did they fight and die,
but for country and all; now in peace they lie.
They paid freedom's toll and so here they bide
under silent white sentinels, resting
Side by side.
Followed by Don's patriotic and heartfelt words was JoAnne Phillips, author of Adventures of a Sea Hag.

She read from her current work in progress, "Matrix of Life". The chapter she shared with us was called "Legion" and surrounded a special gift that the local chapter of the American Legion and their gift to her grandfather. In honor of all his years of dedication the guys gave him a hunting dog (a beagle) named Legion. As often happens in these more humorous moments in her book, humor and chaos ensued as the "hunting" dog became spoiled and babied under her grandfather's "watchful" eye. Laughter filled our meeting as JoAnne described the day that Legion stole the "turkey-duck-chicken" (the turducken moniker came much later with John Madden and the turkey bowls) her grandmother had prepared for Thanksgiving dinner, managing to eat a large portion before it could be saved.

Suzi Lynch, one of our newer members, decided to be bold and share a trilogy of poems she'd written a few years back for us. "Why I Don't Write or This Will Be On Your Permanent Record" was a powerful piece where she explored her fears of being published and how, in her mind at that moment in time, being unpublished also felt like being protected...from critics, reviewers and from the world at large. Her follow up, "No Love Lost" explored how when dreams come true (in this case, her classroom curriculum), it could be taken and changed and turned into anything...possibly even something completely different from what she'd intended. In her final piece, "A Happy Pregnancy", she discussed the hope, potential and something greater than herself growing within her writing...and that as long as she chose to hold it within and "not deliver" it, her thoughts, her writing was safe. Her three poems were powerful pieces to which every writer, artist or creator can relate. The strength of her voice was beautiful even as it probed insecurities and fears.

Andrew Parker introduced us to his newest WIP, a piece called "Playing Chess at 91." The first character we meet is the protagonist, Simon Shuster. He lives in a rent controlled boardinghouse filled with other senior citizens who do a lot of drugs (which he doesn't partake in) and "brownies" (which he does). They spend the larger part of their days playing chess while under the influence. Their handyman is over 100 and on crack. There are only 2 younger people who live in this house with them. One is in charge of their "nutrition" and the other "therapy." We're still unsure where Andrew's piece is going to take us, but one thing is guaranteed. Laughter and the outrageous will follow. It's one of the joys of hearing Andrew's work.

Our final reader for the night was Jung Suk Yo, back from his recent hiatus from our group. He shared a chapter from his current WIP called "In the Boat" where he described a frightening scene where his protagonist, Bach (a lawyer) is kidnapped by two masked men from his home in Florida where he'd been hiding and brought out to a ship in the Gulf of Mexico. Bound and gagged, he's uncertain if they came for him because the billionaire whose wife he'd been sleeping with found out about their nefarious plan to kill him with an insulin overdose or if it was something else entirely. It definitely left us a bit chilled and nervous about walking out into the dark Florida night to go home.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Wednesday October 16, 2013 Meeting

We had a special guest speaker for our group at our last meeting. Jack Harney, author of The Millstone Prophecy came to share his writing experiences with our group.

Inspired by a documentary called Deliver Us From Evil, Jack felt compelled to draw attention to the very controversial subject of pedophilia in the Catholic church and the steps taken to hide and cover up these crimes against children. Initially intending this to be a non-fiction tale, he began to research the different categories in the non-fiction universe and found that it's very much a niche market. He wanted the message brought to light on a larger scale, and found himself writing his very first suspense fiction novel.

His intent was to follow the traditional route. Get an agent, then pursue traditional publishing. So, he attended writers conferences while he worked on his project and had the opportunity to pitch agents. He quickly found that most were put off by the subject matter. The same was true for publishers (and it took anywhere from 9-12 months to get it to print through this venue). As he continued his pursuit of making this manuscript a reality, he came to the conclusion that he needed to self publish this piece and a great cover.

What he did find was a writing partner. This was the person to run ideas by, read drafts, ask if certain scenarios worked. He also found a few beta readers. With their feedback and his edits and hard work, the book came to fruition. Despite having a printed copy available, he quickly found that 99% of his sales came through Amazon in "digital sales" or ebook format. Since Kindle has created Kindle Direct Publishing, he's seen an upswing in his sales and has officially sold over 31,000 copies of his novel worldwide. Kindle Direct gives you 5 days in a 90 day period to make the book free. He chose to utilize these days for big "reading" holidays, Mothers Day (hey, reality is there are more women readers than men), and Sundays.

After Jack's interesting presentation, we met our newcomers and Rod DiGruttolo facilitated our readings.

Peter Frickel, author of My Frog Sings, Lotha and the Three Crosses and his new blog, ThinkFree, was our first victim reader. He read an article he'd found about Literary v. Pop fiction and studies on the human brain. Apparently, despite the love for Pop fiction, those who "pushed" themselves with Literary works were more likely to score higher on exams, etc, regardless of how much reading the Pop fiction fan might do. It was something to think about. Personally, I still appreciate the escapism that Pop fiction gives me. Next he shared a piece from his current Work In Progress, "Lillies Of the Vlai." In it, he described riding a "ski" in the water that sounded much like a stand up paddle board. In his story, he was able to be at one with nature...and risk a bit of life and limb. It sounded like quite an adventure.

Ernie Ovitz read next, bringing us back to his manuscript, "The Seventh King." In this part we realize that there is a spy in the governor's house, a servant named Cena. As Red Beard plans to steal the governor's wife, he plans to use her to get close. Fortuitous circumstances for him prevent that from happening when he and his band of outlaws run into a small group of riders. Julia, the governor's wife, had been inside the carriage, heading to town to discuss the arrest of the Christian gets kidnapped. Lots of great descriptions were used to draw us into the era. With some minute adjustments on the dialogue, the book will be ready.

Next came the ever entertaining Ed Ellis. This time he chose to share a poem called "The Beacon Of Reality." He called us to use inspiration, to give universal acceptance and encourage broadening of the mind....and back into nature. Turns out, the guy who "wasn't a poet" is finding his poet's soul, after all.

Author of Adventures of a Sea Hag, JoAnne Phillips, participated in the dialogue challenge Rod DiGruttolo rolled out during the beginning of the summer. The piece, "Car Conversation", was a discussion between a mechanic and the "easy mark" he thought he'd scam...until she showed him she knew a thing or two about how the legal system works and what happens to businesses who make a practice of cheating clients. The back pedaling was hilarious. Next, she continued with her current manuscript, "Matrix Of Life." This chapter finds them at the Christmas holiday with both parents unemployed. In an attempt to infuse holiday cheer into their small home, her dad cut a tree from the forest and they decorated it in tin cans and a tree topper her mother made. They also informed her that Santa wouldn't be coming this year because she was more grown up now. She informed them that she felt he'd been a bit premature in making that call. The humor in the face of hardships has been a charming addition to JoAnne's newest work.

Andrew Parker continued with his manuscript, "Drunk and Calling From a Pub In London." He starts the tale off with Jacqueline Aurora's parents handing him a hand gun and encouraging him to "end it" so that all his suffering will be done. Unsure of whether this is the right decision he looks toward his new girlfriend, Jacqueline. She reassures him that this is what he needs. When he pulls the trigger, instead of a bullet, gas is released. He wakes to a monkey with a crush on him and a butler who may not only be a butler. The whole thing was, quite literally, insanely hilarious.

Laura Harrison shared two 20 year old books written by James A. Michener about the art of writing. One is James A. Michener's Writers Handbook and the other, My Lost Mexico. In them he discussed his thoughts on growth, editing, making books, how he organizes his thoughts and how he decides on the order of chapters. It was fascinating to see things from his point of view and view samples of his work while he was creating. What a find that discovery was for Laura!

Wendy Brooks, one of our newer members and an illustrator of children's stories, took her first try at sharing a piece of her writing. She'd been inspired by a story she'd seen on the news of a woman who pushed her brand new husband over a cliff to his death. They'd only known each other for 5 days before marrying. In her piece entitled "There Are No Heroes" she speculates as to what could have driven a young, 22 year old bride to murder her new husband. It was compelling to try to understand and relate to someone so obviously not likeable. The work has potential to be the beginning of a very intriguing story.

Susan Davis shared a short piece by Alice Munro in honor of her Nobel Prize in literature. In her honor, and to introduce her work to those who were not familiar, she shared a part of her short story Gravel, published in the New Yorker. Feel free to click the link and read the rest for yourself. Susan also took on the dialogue challenge and entitled her piece "Cat & Mouse." In her dialogue one person is inviting another to go to a jazz club to enjoy great music. The other person questions if this will be okay with the other party's "other half" and is told yes. She accepts and states that her significant other will be joining them. The first party is taken by surprise..."I never realized you were an 'us'!" Ah, the cheater, trapped. Loved the creativity.

Kitt Crescendo shared an article she wrote for Bring Back Desire called Pleasure Partnerships and Helping Hands...officially introducing us to the racier side of her writing. Although it was non-fiction, it definitely opened some eyes and dropped a few jaws. It's not like she hadn't warned us that her writing delves pretty strongly into the erotic, though.

George Mindling, author of U.S. Air Force Tactical Missiles, ended our evening with a short fiction piece he'd written called "Aufwiedersehen, Kaiserslautern!" In the story we're introduced to a young, drunken military GI stationed in Germany. He's at the bar drinking beers and heads upstairs with one of the local prostitutes after receiving his reenlistment bonus. It was definitely a hilariously salty tale of why it's so important not to get drunk with strangers unless you want to be robbed blind.

Our evening came to a close with a reminder that the next Writers Group Meeting is 11/6/13.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Wednesday October 2, 2013 Meeting

Our usual facilitator, Rod DiGruttolo was feeling under the weather, so he was unable to attend the meeting.

Fortunately, George Mindling, author of US Air Force Tactical Missiles and blog Sleeps Two, as well as our fearless leader was back from vacation and able to step into Rod's shoes for the evening.

It seemed to be the week for returns as our other George, George Collias, author of Myahmuh: A Novel Of Miami Florida and Sandspurs Limericks By a Native Floridian had also returned from his time away. It was good to have them both back.

Don Westerfield kicked off our readings for the evening with an erotic and wildly imaginative tale of aliens walking on the wild side in a jungle called The Alien. In it, Don gave a wink and a nod in our own Ed Ellis' direction as the NASA explorer who was "rescued" and "resuscitated" by the native women.

Our next reader was Jenny Oberg. She bravely shared a piece she'd written in honor of her mother. In it she explored her feelings of loss and the fear of forgetting. Her words were moving and heart felt.

JoAnne Phillips, author of Adventures Of A Sea Hag, shared a piece she'd written called "Potato Chips Are Not Sand Dollars." As she promised not to point fingers at the "not so innocent" party who inspired this piece, she simply described him as 6'4" in height. In the piece she described the language barrier that happens when talking to the scientist/male type as their logic and the average human's seem to be on completely different wave lengths.

It didn't take us much time to figure out who she was writing about because Ed Ellis read next. His piece? "Ruffles & Response." It became clear that at least the first part of the meeting was inspired by this wacky writer. Ed's rebuttal short to Jo Anne's boiled down to this..."Never leave your wife and your girl friend in the same car smoking the same joints." Personally, I still think it's a case of Mars versus Venus.

Susan Davis wrote a piece called "September Ends" inspired by her visit to Boston. She called to mind the beauty of falling leaves and their changing colors. She also read a piece by Pablo Neruda called "Keeping Quiet".

Ernie Ovitz continued with his work in progress called The Seventh King. He read Chapter 5 where he introduced us to the governor's wife, Julia. She was not the traditional "upper class-woman" as she enjoyed doing "menial" tasks usually left to servants...including gardening. In this portion we discover that she appears to have ties to the Christian preacher thrown in prison. We also get more hints about Red Beard, whose son has also been imprisoned.

Kitt Crescendo shared a couple of poems. "Unforgotten" was a piece she'd written in honor of her brother who passed away 30 years ago, but whose birthday is on September 11. The second piece she wrote was in honor of Halloween, a piece called "My Dark Prince".

Ron Babcock, after sharing a cute anecdote about time with his grandchildren, shared a piece called "Me & My Woody." After proclaiming his love for his woody, he began with a piece of very good advice to himself. "Don't share my Woody with more than one lady at a time." In the end, it turned out that he was actually speaking about the antique car, not the piece tucked into his trousers as his piece initially implied.

George Mindling decided to share a poem by Robert W. Service called "The Cremation Of Sam McGee." Turned out he wasn't the only guy in the room with a love for Robert W. Service's work.

Barry Mick continued with his work in progress, Dragonfly. This time we found the protagonist contemplating the wounded dragonfly and its subsequent death. He strongly felt that the dragonfly was a sign, but he wasn't sure what it was trying to tell him.

Cathy Marine, author of No Dead Fish For Ginger, was back with more on her book on the various Rays found in the gulf. Her piece left everyone with questions about the interesting sea animals. Her new book is going to be a wonderful and educational learning tool for today's youth.

Finally, Andrew Parker shared another portion from his newest creation, I'm Drunk and I'm Calling From a Payphone In London. In this particular chapter, our drunken protagonist, George Lissman, meets his new lady love's parents. To say that the story is entertaining and unique is a mild understatement. The whole room rocked with laughter....

The night was a definite success and the readings eclectic. We look forward to our next meeting and to hear from some of our newer members.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Wednesday September 18, 2013 Meeting

Sorry for the delay, everyone. I know we're a meeting behind, but we'll have everything caught up by the end of this week. Life has been a bit hectic as of late...but I figured better late than never!

As usual, Rod DiGruttolo did a great job moderating our meeting.

We were thrilled to welcome back Jim Kelly from his hiatus to the north, so we asked him to kick off our meeting. As usual, he didn't disappoint. First he shared a letter Irv Newman had written to a woman named Gail at the local paper from his home area of Surf City, NJ called The Sandpaper. In this letter he discussed how grateful he was to hospice and that it had extended his life.  Recently they gave his wife the gift of 5 days off by coming to care for him so she could enjoy some free time. He donated his car and some money to Tidewell Hospice to thank them. In fact, as I wrote this blog and linked in Tidewell, I saw that Irv's story is featured on their website. As it's a YouTube Link, I thought you guys might want to see...

Jim ended his time with a poem he wrote while back at his old stomping grounds called "Goin' Home". It clearly depicted change...and how through the years, it's virtually impossible for anything to stay the same. I would have posted the poem, but I didn't get a chance to ask Jim for permission.

Ed Ellis shared a piece called "I Wish" as he celebrated his 50th anniversary from military discharge as well as honored those we lost on 9/11. In his piece he took a somber moment to reflect on war and make a wish for the wisdom of those who came before us. It was heartfelt and definitely a more sensitive side to our smarty pants prankster....but moving.

JoAnne Phillips, author of Adventures of a Sea Hag, read a chapter called "Religion and Communism" from her new work in progress, The Matrix of Life. In this chapter she talked about picking out a Christmas tree, befriending a goat named "Billy" who she treated as her pony and being a time of love and laughter. Her parents reconciled and remarried in the spring, moving them into a one bedroom storefront in town where the store window was painted to prevent people from being able to see inside. This was also when she was first introduced to McCarthyism. It didn't take any stretch of the imagination for anyone in the group to figure out that this spelled trouble for the precocious, young JoAnne....and we were right.

Pat Patterson came up next. Rather than read from his manuscript The Takers, he shared some valuable insights he's gained in his writing journey. He realized that editing is not exactly what he thought it was. Once he completed writing his manuscript, he made the assumption (incorrectly) that he could hire an editor, get the editor to unravel the "tangled ball of yarn" that was his story and fix his errors, then receive his work, ready for publication. Instead, he found that errors are costly and that it's never a good idea to send a first draft off to an editor. The time to submit to an editor is when you've polished it as much as you possibly can and you need some assistance on the finer points. So, he printed off a chapter and handed it to the group with a request for feedback and support.

Don Westerfield went back to his poetry roots with two pieces. One was called ODE to SEA GRASS which was a lovely piece that brought us back to nature and our small part in it. The other one got folks talking, so I thought I'd share it here. (We also learned the difference between an elegy and a eulogy. ;-))

then will the trees sing
wandered long
have i these mortal woods
down worn trails of tears and laughter
step by searching step i trod
pathways that split and split again
those chosen roads of faulted time
soon to forget my passage
but if ever the soul survives
the strife of its mere existence
these woods will always know the truth
as the breath of life expends
when evening is nigh
then will the trees sing
my elegy
Kitt Crescendo finally shared the beginning to one of her works in progress, Three For All. She needed to read it out loud in front of an audience to hear some spots that might be a bit rough. She was able to pick a couple of errors out for herself, and with the help of the team, also caught a couple of repetitive words. Someone also commented that there seemed to be a lot of body parts slipping on each other thanks to the suntan oil. We weren't sure whether or not that was necessarily a bad thing as she is writing an erotic piece.
Asha Anderson came one last time before she headed off to Asia for a year. She and her lovely poetry will be missed, but we have high hopes that once she returns from her adventures abroad, that she will come find us again. In a writing class back in Ashland, OR 1988, she was challenged to write a piece with a specific subject in mind. This is the poem I elected to post because the playful whimsy drew me in...and I could almost hear a Scottish or Irish accent reading the piece.

When I had feet me shoes were yellow
ah yellow as pollen they were
as bright as lemons
bright as me lad's smile
bold as his laugh
an oh how I danced in me shoes
all night
a swarm a bees drunk from the flowers
sportin their yellow pants an boots
knew not as many turns as me lad an me
not have as many

an when in the slow river a bare foot
we went a wadin me lad an me
an bare we were from toe to head
a hand an hand
me yellow shoes were glad to wait
all hodge podge with his
for shoes has no need a feet
though feet has a need a them
but now   old as I be   I has no need a shoes
not yellow   not brown
but glad I am   glad as I was when I was a lass
for I got me a lad   an I rather him than me feet.

Ernie Ovitz went next, sharing more from his work The Seventh King. In this chapter, Theodorus is thrown into jail for his beliefs in Christianity. He attempts to continue sharing his message only to realize he's not alone in his cell and that the other guy, hidden by shadows, is a bit scary. Ernie left us wondering as to the identity of the mystery man and how he ties to the unrest that seems to be steadily increasing with every chapter.

Jenny Oberg, inspired by the work of Deepak Choprah, wrote a piece of nature poetry that sparked some spunky debate amongst her listeners. Jenny wrote her piece about majestic creatures from awed eyes, pointing out how although many of them appear the same, they're all different. Some of the listeners find beauty in the Darwinistic tendencies of animals and the very literal and real battles that occur in nature. Others felt just as passionately that they'd rather see it from a starry-eyed, idealistic vision of grace and majesty.

Barry Mick took our feedback from the previous meeting and touched up his work in progress, roughly titled "Dragonfly".  The general feedback was that the flow of the story now had a nice, smooth rhythm. We look forward to hearing more about his the feeling that it is symbolic for something much deeper comes through loud and clear.

Beth Rice, Author of I'm Adopted, I'm Special along with her blog, Animal Tales, read a very powerful chapter she called "Job Hunt" from her work in progress, Pawprints Are Forever. In it, we find the heroine at a plant nursery, reminiscing about joyful times spent there with  her family and quickly realize that it had been her family's business. Heartbroken, they are closing the doors for the last time. In their line of work, it was virtually impossible to compete with the big business companies. It's also the first time she sees her husband, the man who has always been her rock, completely devastated. As she'd been discussing creating a hook and positioning of her book, we firmly felt that THIS should be her beginning...and a very strong hook. This part definitely left many of us emotionally impacted and devastated on the protagonist's behalf.

One of our newer members, Patrick Hurley, finally decided to be bold and stepped forward to read a character sketch he'd written about a female character from the island of Petite Marie known only as Patrice. Beautiful and a bit mercenary, she'll do whatever it takes to avoid becoming an average local. She wants power and wealth and she's willing to do whatever it takes to get there...including a bit of drug trafficking. This character definitely has a lot of potential. We can't wait to see how she is weaved into the plot he's creating in his head.

Andrew Parker ended our meeting in his inimitable fashion, by introducing us to his newest work in progress that he is tentatively calling I'm Drunk and I'm Calling From A Payphone In London. The unique creation occurred when he'd passingly mentioned it in a profile he'd created for himself, causing a reader to email him asking where he could purchase this book as it sounded very interesting. True to Andrew's personality, he decided to make the story a reality. In the first chapter we're introduced to a drunk homeless man named George Lissman who'd fallen on hard times after his inability to quit alcohol caused him to lose his job as a conductor for an orchestra. Every night he sits in a bar where he drinks, then drunk dials random phone numbers. On this particular night, someone answered... Her name is Jacqueline Aurora. Let's just say that hilarity ensued. Once Andrew finished reading, everyone was leaving with either a belly ache or wiping away tears.

Thanks again to everyone for their wonderful contributions!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Event Calendar - New Feature!

I'm adding a new section called Event Calendar, located on the right side of the blog page.  The listings will be the writing and book events that are of interest to not just our group, but to all writers in our area.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.  If you have an event to add, send it to me via the contact link on this blog page


Sunday, September 29, 2013


We wanted to let you know we are in the planning stages of our annual book festival. We wish to thank all of you who have participated in the past for helping us make them so successful. Last year we had over 65 authors who attended and sold their books.


Will be held Saturday, February 15, 10 am to 3 pm
in Pioneer Park on W. Dearborn Street, Englewood.
The fee will be $25 per space.

We will once again be sponsoring a writing contest named
Write-On-Englewood”. It is a short story and poetry competition. No more than 250 words for a poem, no less than 500 words for a short story, no more that 800. There is no theme and we ask for unpublished work. A $5. entry fee is requested for each entry and you may submit as many entries as you like.
There will be cash prizes, so start writing.

There is nothing for you to do now but to mark your calendar. Closer to the Festival we will send out more information. Looking forward to seeing you all in February.

Diana Harris
phone (941) 474-4837

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Wednesday September 4, 2013 Meeting

Our meeting commenced promptly at 6:30. Rod DiGruttolo, our moderator for the evening, introduced Peter Frickel to the group, though he needed no introduction with us.

Author of Lotha and the Three Crosses and My Frog Sings along with his blog, iThink, his pieces are looked forward to for their imagery (never mind his gorgeous South African lilt).

As per last meeting's announcements, Peter kicked off our discussion regarding sentence, paragraph and page construction. He kicked it off by letting us imagine Pooh and Peter in conversation where Pooh says, "Tell me where the sentence lives.."

And then he laid out his challenge.
"What makes a sentence? Do you know the different kinds of sentences?"

As he spent the evening breaking down the various forms of sentences and their purposes...and how the right combination can create magic on a page, he pointed out a simple yet valuable fact.

"We talk too much, listen too little."

He encouraged us to find ways to inspire the senses. Music to inspire, Books of colors, images...senses.

We all came away enjoying the different outlooks and points of view that Peter offered into the way we hone our craft to constantly, consistently improve.

Our readings were kicked off by Susan Davis whose travelling gypsy spirit guided her to read from 100 Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda. She chose to read #6. The pure beauty and passion made it easy to understand why she was inspired to share. Even more interesting was her story to go along with the poetry...when she told us of her tour of Neruda's home and the amazing view from his bedroom. The breathless natural beauty from his window combined with being in the great writer's home left her in awe.

Next, Ed Ellis read his very entertaining piece entitled "Awkward Encounter". It was a story of life after high school which included hanging out with Steve, his sidekick, cruising for chicks at "Bob's Big Boy" and some Mary Jane. Let's just say that after a bit of partying, one of the characters was uncertain if his trip to Disneyland was a dream or an actual occurrence. Yes, this piece had the whole group rolling with laughter at the characters' antics, the anticipation and the punch line.

Pat Patterson took on Rod's dialogue challenge. He called his piece "Two Old 1963 High School Class Buddies On The Telephone". In his piece we got the opportunity to hear two old friends wax nostalgic on the past and play catch up on life in general...and how their views of events had changed through the years.

Jeff Cochran read two pieces. The first was his dialogue challenge from Rod. He attributed his inspiration to Kitt's dialogue challenge from the prior meeting...and it didn't take any time at all to figure out why. With sentences like "Just slide it in" "Move it around a bit" and "I don't think that's going to fit", it was obvious that the dialogue included a lot of fun, tongue-in-cheek innuendo. What was it really about? A shoe sale, of course! His next piece was a poem he entitled "Seasons" that he'd written to celebrate an artist friend, Holly Lovely. His verses painted picturesque scenes and enabled the listener to feel each season...and appreciate how much he treasured his friend.

Our newcomer, Barry Mick, shared his piece called "Dragonfly". Although there was a literal dragonfly in his story, it became evident quickly that there was deep symbolism in that dragonfly. This is just the beginning of what we sense will be a very powerful story of love, loss and family. We can't wait to see where Barry takes his story.

Don Westerfield shared a short story he called "My Family Tree". He was researching a tale about his family tree and the family scandal that caused his grandpa to leave Kentucky and move to Indiana. To learn more about the roots of the tree in Kentucky, he headed back to where it all began and found his only remaining relative in town was the drunk guy he met on the corner. As he asked some former neighbors about what happened to his family, he was told..."Son, when you go digging for your roots, all you usually end up with is a can of worms." Yes, there was much laughter and applause that followed this entertaining short piece.

Ernie Ovitz continued with Chapter 2 if his WIP, "The Seventh King". In this part we're beginning to get a feel for the political savvy of Constantine, the Tribune, as he deals with General Decimus and his interview, hoping to learn more about the Emperor. In this part we also begin to get a better feel for Red Beard and why he's targeting them.

JoAnne Phillips, author of Adventures Of A Sea Hag continued with her current WIP, "The Matrix Of Life" with her next chapter entitled "Goodbye Mushy". In this chapter she talked about she and her mother living with her grandma who suffered from bipolar disorder, though it wasn't yet a diagnosis. There wasn't a dry eye in the house as she bravely shared the story about the puppy, Mushy, her mother's ex-boyfriend gave her and how she held it in her arms as she watched it die a horrible death at her grandmother's hand. The lethargy and inability to communicate and respond broke our hearts for her...and we were so relieved when she was placed back into the care of her grandparents on her father's side as she began her slow battle back toward healing. JoAnne's story has it's ups and downs, but the one constant is this... We're cheering for her!

Linda Shell was back with her YA Adventure about Gracie the dwarf kangaroo in "Come Along With Me". She had the group snorting with laughter at her clever turn of phrase, "Buster's last stand" as she told about the chicken who ran around with it's head cut off...spraying grandma's white, newly washed sheets that were hanging on the line with his blood. Guess that's what she gets for deciding to make him dinner. We're definitely looking forward to seeing where Gracie's adventure leads next.

Next came another excerpt from author of I'm Adopted, I'm Special and The Animal Tales blog, Beth Rice's newest WIP "Pawprints Are Forever". The next installment was called "Dr Anthony Vinelli". He wasn't the suave, handsome doc, but rather the smart, capable doc with the fabulous petside manner...who the techs didn't like much, but then...he made them work. He was also an avian specialist which meant he got to handle then snakes and their temperamental owners. He was also the resident "Friends" trivia guru and the favorite doctor for the protagonist. At this point, he was just introduced into the story along with a couple of patients who he's helped along the way, but we all sense that there's much more to their story and are looking forward to hearing it told.

As we closed out the night, we circled back to Peter. He shared with us a piece he'd written about a river called "There Runs A River". Although it was ultimately about the river, it was about so much more. It was symbolic of time and how, like a river, they both change everything as they move. He also shared some of his own poetry. With his permission, here's his piece.

The Pathway

The single line pathway
Moved humans
Carrying empty pails of sorrowed hunger
And despair they should never have owned.

Some brought extended bellies
Swollen lips and cleaved tongues,
Others empty eyes,
Faces cracked
Scabbed skin
Where tears had dried.

And the dogs
That came on burnt paws,
Pulled tails across stones,
Whimpered for those they left to die.

We walked
Into miles,
To the horizon,
To a town.

Some groaned
Stopped and dropped
With voices that gurgled
Between cracked lips
Before they died.

For each that crumpled
I bent down
With a prayer.
Pressed eye lids
With whites covered
Each rested
In their own dark
Our misery unwanted.

By the edge of the town
With thinned ranks
We stood still,
To feel the pain
To let it run away.
To remember friends and family
Who like fallen sign posts
Now mark our way.

Lying lost upon acarpous soil
They tell others
Who seek shelter,
"It doesn't hurt anymore."

As always, Sarasota Writers Group had a great night of eclectic reading and look forward to our next meeting on 9/18/2013.

NaNoWriMo Write-a-thon Group Critique and Open Mic

Dear Sarasota Writers Group      
I am contacting you on behalf of the Manatee County Public Library to tell you about our upcoming events that may be of interest to members of the Sarasota Writers Group. Beginning this November, the library will be hosting a series of events for National Novel Writing Month. Here at the Central Library we will be hosting a writers’ workshop seminar that we’ve called the Write-a-thon and Group Critique (if enough people stay to have their work read and critiqued, it may become a Group Critique-a-thon). We are doing this on November 4th in an effort to get people motivated to have fun writing and encourage them to try to write a novel before the end of the month. After the month wraps up and participants have hopefully realized their potential, we will have an open mic reading night. Those that care to join us on December 2nd will be able to read a selection from their NaNoWriMo masterpiece to friends and family and mostly strangers. Also, there will be refreshments.

NaNoWriMo Write-a-thon and Group Critique

Central Library, Monday, November 4, 5:30-7:30 PM

NaNoWriMo Open Mic Reading

Central Library, Monday, December 2, 6:30 PM
I would ask you to pass this on to the writers’ group (and consider it yourself). Please feel free to contact me for more information or to answer questions about these and other upcoming writers’ events.
Thank you for your time.

Danny Bradley, Librarian I - Adult Services Division
Neighborhood Services Department || Manatee County Public Library System
Central Library || 1301 Barcarrota Boulevard West || Bradenton, Florida 34205
ph: 941-748-5555 x6313 || fax: 941-749-7155

Invitation to submit to Saw Palm

Dear Florida Writer's Association,

My name is Mike Ruso and I am the managing editor for Saw Palm: Florida Literature & Art, a literary magazine published annually by the University of South Florida. I am writing to let the members of Florida Writer's Association know that Saw Palm is currently accepting submissions of fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry and we would love to receive submissions from you. Would you please forward this email to all FWA members?

Saw Palm is a literary magazine devoted exclusively to creative work from and about Florida. For more information, please see our website: We are accepting submissions through Oct. 1st via our online submission manager at

We look forward to reading your work!

Most sincerely,
Mike Ruso
Managing Editor, Saw Palm

Monday, September 02, 2013

Wednesday August 21, 2013 Meeting

Our meeting started at approximately 6:30 with 20 attendees and 12 readers. Rod DiGruttolo moderated the meeting and kicked things off.

First announcement is that Peter Frickel will be teaching a course in sentence, paragraph and page construction at our next meeting on September 4th.

Kitt Crescendo had recently returned from the convention Authors After Dark. She brought back some swag to give to the group and shared her thoughts on the event. She found the event to be very interesting and the authors in the various forums she attended to be personable, open and willing to talk about anything. As time allows, she'll be adding more about the authors and events to her blog.

Jack Wetherson kicked off our readings with a football story based inside a correctional facility he humorously referred to as "a gated facility". Although there was initially some confusion as to whether the game was being played by inmates a la The Longest Yard, we found this not to be the case. In the end, this was a tongue in cheek story about bad calls and "paying your dues".

Barbara Frickel, usually leaving the reading to Peter, surprised the group by stepping front and center. She'd taken Rod up on his dialogue challenge several weeks ago and wrote a piece about a lost wallet. Her dialogue was as sweet as she was, showing that people still do the right thing. The finder contacted the owner of the wallet and returned it.

Ed Ellis also took on the dialogue challenge. It was a married couple on a trip to the driver's cousin's house. As almost always with Ed's work, there was a this case, it was all about "back seat driving". He also shared a piece he'd written called "Honeymoon Surprise" that dealt with "mixed matches". You know, big guy, tiny girl. The punch line this time left everyone laughing as the question of "who wears the pants" was answered definitively.

Jeff Cochran read another excerpt from his time travel manuscript. This chapter was titled "On The Road In Pennsylvania". In this portion the protagonist has been having a recurrent nightmare about being chased. He misses his life and the future he left behind. As he reflects on the might have beens, however, he realizes that if he hadn't gone back into the past, he might not have his love, Rebecca. Yes, the ladies in the group sighed over the romantic notion, especially from the male perspective.

Don Westerfield, never one to leave us bored, decided to change things up on us. It had been a while since he's shared poetry, so he went back to it, sharing two poems, "Spinster Mary" about a lady, a World War II bride to be that never was and "The Egotistical Poet". With his permission, here's one of his poems:
Spinster Mary
There; down a crooked road,
across a bridge; her house.
Brick, mortar and hopes
built upon un-kept promises.
Within dwelt great beauty;
not of youth, but of years.
It radiated outward; encompassing
all who entered without pity.
She moved kindly about;
sadness hidden only from a few.
Abiding alone in remembrance of
a shadow love; now gone.
In vain she waited for happiness
to unlock the portals of her desire;
leaving only kisses of memory
to treasure until end of days.
With comforting faith did she linger,
until her Sun had set. There, down
a crooked road, across a bridge;
her house, unlit and forgotten.
Asha Anderson, another of our lovely poet wordsmiths shared several poems that left everyone impressed with not only her reading style, but content. With her permission, I'll share one of her readings called "Los Viajeros". This is a poem she wrote to aid her as she was learning the Spanish language.
Los Viajeros
La ruta es larga.
El dia es corto.
La noche es
ruidosa y calor.
Estoy afuera
con la luna.
La ruta es angosta.
El cielo es ancho.
The Travelers
The road is long.
The day is short.
The night is
noisy and hot.
I am outside
with the moon.
The road is narrow.
The sky is wide.
(Guatemala, 2007)
Jenny Oberg decided to take on Rod's narration challenge. In this, two people are discussing imagination and the mind being free. The conversation starter asks the question "If you could go anywhere, where would you go?" She's speaking of fantasy but unfortunately the other party is not such a daydreamer and is tied to the "here and now", which drives the conversation into an entertaining is often the case for those of us who are dreamers when we encounter the practical people. Every person in the room was nodding as writers tend to live in that "other" world.
Kitt Crescendo also decided to go with Rod's challenge. Her dialogue was between a female employee at a cell phone store and a customer with a water damaged phone. With little bits of innuendo flying when the phone wouldn't stop vibrating and the smart alleck back and forth between the two characters, the group was entertained. She also shared her poem called "Mystique". When she was finished reading, the ladies in the room had two words for her. "Thank You." She has it on her blog if you click her name, but decided to share it here, as well.
“The Weaker Sex”
is what we’re called.
of velvet encased
iron core,
who have held
and nurtured
in body and heart-
Sons who become
daughters to
We’ve stood firm,
guardians of the castle
charged with
sacred duty
to mold, guide and nurture,
teach and love.
Dry tears,
kiss away wounds
spiritual and physical.
Healing powers-
steeped in
forgiveness and patience.
We hold on if we can,
let go when we must.
kindness, empathy
and knowledge.
Strength is required
to be
“The softer side.”
Susan Davis read an excerpt from a compilation book of women's writings written by Lucy Jane Bledsoe called "Two In The Wild". It encapsulated a woman's escape by bicycle across the Mohave desert when a mother and daughter headed out on a trip of their own encountered her. They discovered that the woman was, in fact, escaping an abusive situation...yet the protagonist to the story spoke of envy because this woman had the guts to get on her bike and blindly change her circumstances. She was ill prepared for the trip, but she had determination and a sense of purpose.
Peter Frickel, author of My Frog Sings and Lotha and the Three Crosses along with his blog "iThink" shared an article clipping from the Sarasota Herald Tribune called "Advice For A Writer In Sarasota". Besides discussing the importance of predators v. editors, it touted the importance of researching writers groups before joining and touted the importance of a facilitator with "credentials who is knowledgeable and supportive". Rod was very tongue in cheek when he "apologized". Everyone else laughed. He then read a portion of a Hemmingway book with a quote about writing and encouraged us to join him in his journey to improved writing next week.
Beth Rice, author of I'm Adopted, I'm Special and The Animal Tales blog continued reading from her manuscript called "Pawprints Are Forever" with a chapter called "Oh, Beans!" In this story, at the end of the day, a customer brings his dog, Beans in for laxatives claiming that he suffers from constipation. The owner is insistent that all Beans needs are laxatives and requires no tests as they would be costly and he's sure of the diagnosis. The protagonist approaches the doctor who is not thrilled to have this last minute walk-in. As he's ranting, he uses the term "for shits and grins" a phrase the protagonist had never heard before. As she's sidetracked with her internal dialogue surrounding the phrase, she misses the vet's order. Not only is Beth's reading coming along, but her knack for humor and the absurd are shining through.
Last, but certainly not least, was author JoAnne Phillips, author of Adventures of a Sea Hag. Continuing from her current manuscript, "Matrix Of Life", she read a chapter called "Getting Even". In this portion, the 5 year old protagonist has developed a fondness for the bats that would soar out of the loft in the evening. Determined to catch one, she asks her grandfather for advice....which included a hat and bacon. After several days of not catching the bats she discovers, thanks to an exasperated Grams that Gramps has been having fun at her expense. Determined to get even she waits till they're at a store and claims he's a stranger...which nearly causes him to be arrested for kidnapping. As fun and witty as JoAnne's excerpt was, everyone felt the need to tell her how much she's improved in her writing which made her day.
Our next meeting will be held on September 4th and begins promptly at 6:30.