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, February 26, 2013

Calling All Poets

My name is Andrew Frieder and I am a park ranger at Big Cypress National Preserve. We are very excited to announce that Big Cypress National Preserve will be celebrating National Poetry Month in April by opening up a poetry contest! In order to have as much participation as possible we are contacting writing groups and local universities to spread the word. Big Cypress National Preserve is a wonderful place to become inspired, with nearly 730,000 acres of pristine and wild swamp land in South Florida. One of the goals for the poetry contest is to have people come out to the preserve and experience the swamp on ranger led activities (biking, canoeing, or hiking in the swamp). More information on these trips can be found on our website at Poems submitted for the contest must be written about the natural or cultural history of South Florida, and preferably about Big Cypress National Preserve or Everglades National Park.

I have attached a flyer on contest details; feel free to post it on your Facebook page or twitter account to promote the event. Please feel free to let as many groups and individuals know about this event. If you are at a university, please notify professors of English or creative writing so they can pass the word down to their students. If you have any questions, contact me at or via cell phone at 262-366-1207 or ask for Andrew at 239-695-4758.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013, Part 2

Wednesday, February 20th, another evening in our little corner of paradise spent with friends who love to write. With twenty-two in attendance, our “meet and greet” at 6:00 pm was a chance to catch up on all the social issues before we kicked off the regular meeting at 6:30pm. We welcomed new guest Rachel Fritsch, and again welcomed Pat Patterson who makes the drive all the way up from Punta Gorda, and Christine Burton, who drives down from Bradenton! We also welcomed back one of the original members of our group, Bart Stamper, who later read a sensitive, engrossing story that is worthy of its own posting. It is posted at

The meeting started with thanks to AJ and Joanne Robinson of the Florida Writers Association who spoke at the last meeting. As I will try to have at least one meeting a month with special presentations, I am pleased to announce Julie Ann Howell, publisher and founder of Peppertree Press and the The Pepper Tree Magazine, will be our presenter at the March 6th meeting. It will be a special event for those who contributed to the Remembrance of Ed Lyman. Plan to be here.

The results of the recent Englewood Dearborn Street Book Festival were announced and writers from our group won several awards! Congratulations to Don Westerfield for winning First Place with his Short Story, and to Ann Favreau who won Second Prize in the same category. Not content with winning Third place in the Poetry entry, Christine Burton also took First Place in Poetry. Congratulations to all the writers who won awards, and to all those who submitted writings to be considered.

Speaking of Literary Awards, the Royal Palm Literary submissions of the Florida Writers Association are open. For entry information, click on: and for a blog about the RPLA themselves, check

Rod DiGruttolo once again handled the “gavel” and the meeting opened with Susan Davis reading the opening segment of her epic trip from Key West to Punta Gorda by bicycle. Most people have trouble driving across the Everglades on Tamiami Trail in a car, much less by bike! Susan gave new definition to a “bug with her printer,” so she read from a hand-written pad jotted down quickly one morning. More jotting, Susan, we want to hear more!

Kerri Dieffenwierth's great “Bear Bear” began with a “No Gators” warning and showed Kerri's ability to show, not tell, about the truths in life. The spiral notebooks bound for the trash pile caught everyone's ear.

Bart Stamper was welcomed back with his “Point Blank,” given its own special space on the blog. He said he was “Rusty, and so is this writing.” No, it's not, and neither is Bart. Welcome back. Great writing.

Joanne Phillips read next, but not from her book, Adventures of a Sea Hag, because it was recently published! Congratulations, Joanne. Instead, she read Don Westerfield's I'll Remember You. A Marine's wife will always be number two, but not in Don's writing. A really nicely done short story.

After a short break, we returned with a few announcements and Barbara Frickel read a short excerpt from the Encyclopedia of Great Writers, just to keep our egos in check. Chris Burton's razor-sharp “Poem to That One” showed why she took 1st and 3rd at the Dearborn Street festival. She followed her own poem by reading Kat Levato's timely “He Bled for You” which left several in tears, both because of Kat's great writing and Chris's powerful reading.

Andrew Parker continued his engaging and engrossing tales of “Blake Brimstone,” Brain Surgeon because Blake doesn't like the name Neurosurgeon. No descriptions I could write could accurately capture Andrew's writing, you have to hear it for yourself. Suffice to say if it were a screenplay, Johnny Depp would play Blake Brimstone. “A bunch of birds. Man, that was a lot of birds.”

Bill Elam continued with his old man in the autumn of his years anthology, when a man takes control of his life. “Her dance card was for him...”

Pat Patterson, with his unmistakable Mississippi drawl, caught everyone off guard with his reading of his first-novel-in progress titled “The Takers,” set in the year 1003 in Scandinavia. The discussion that followed his reading was intent and engrossing. His epic Viking tale has everyone's interest and curiosity, this is going to be a great story.

Ed Ellis followed with his marvelous Valentine poems for his grandchildren, then started on a piece written while drinking “sweet tea.” Ed never fails to capture the listeners, even evoking one comment, “What was in the tea?”

Lois Stern read an entry from her Tales2Inspire contest that stumped both her and the other judges. An engaging, well written story that simply did not “Inspire” the reader, and therefore did not satisfy the rules of the contest. Still, it was a lesson for all about why we write.

Cecile Bell quickly read her humorous piece about Humpty Dumpty as we once again ran over time a little, and our apologies to Laura Heath who will be at the top of the list for the next reading.

Remember, Julie Ann Howell, publisher and founder of Peppertree Press and the The Pepper Tree Magazine, will be our presenter at the March 6th meeting. Don't miss it.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013, part 1

There are few times when a writer engages an audience with total, emotional involvement that surpasses any previous experience any of us has ever had. That came Wednesday night when an autobiography focused on an infantry patrol deep in the jungles of Vietnam during the height of the bloody, entangled conflict. Split-second life and death decisions, so flippantly tossed around in the world of fiction, are a reality here. The decision to kill or be killed is incredibly difficult to transcribe, to put on paper, then to read aloud to a group of fellow writers who have no experience with the reality required to comment or critique that writing, not in the least the decision itself. It really isn't a decision, it is a crucible of life and warfare. It is training, it is a gut-wrenching need to live. This isn't fiction. This is real life, and impossible to create with such personal turmoil and wrenching soul searching without having lived through it. The crucible of that autobiography is so intense, so personal, that to convey it in writing is be cathartic for the writer, and therapeutic for us all at the same time. We were privileged Wednesday night to Bart Stamper's reading of “Point Blank.” This is not fiction; it is a revelation of the human spirit, and to have been part of that reading was an emotional experience we all felt and understood. Bart's writing lifted us all to a different time and place. We were with him on that patrol.
Thank you Bart Stamper. 


Monday, February 18, 2013

Wednesday, Feb 6th, 2013

We had a fantastic presentation by Andrew Robinson, Regional Director for Central Florida, Florida Writers Association, on publishing in the new age. Andrew, known as AJ, and his wife Joanne, known to most FWA members as the tireless couple who run the bookstore at the Florida Writers Convention, graciously attended our first meeting in February. They drove over from Orlando, and were well received by our group. Our thanks to AJ and Joanne, who have offered to return in the future for lectures. AJ broadened everyone's concept of publishing options, and opened a few eyes about what can be done in this era of redefined publishing.

After an intensive question and answer session, we took a short break and resumed the meeting with George Collias reading the letter from Bennett Cerf regarding the censorship of “Ulysses.” How easily we forget how far we've come in freedom of the press in just our lifetime. George Collias's second book, Myahmuh, A Novel Of Miami, Florida, has been published. Take a look at George's website,, for information on ordering the now available book. George has also been published in Running Out of Ink's e-zine. His humorous article, My Accent – Lost and Found, is featured in the current issue at:

Don Westerfield read his delightful "In the Kingdom of Wishalot," followed by Mary Ryne's great piece "Embellishments." Again, my apologies to all who read, my notes are totally incomprehensible. I do know Bill Elam read the next chapter of "She Traveled With Him," and Joanne read the next chapter of her "Saga of a Sea Hag." Other than that, I don't have much.

We had twenty-four in attendance, and I know we had a grand time, thanks to the great presentation by AJ, and the warm reception our group gave him and Joanne.

I'll see everyone next Wednesday, and I will do my best to take better notes.


Sunday, February 17, 2013


Congratulations to three of our regular members for their awards at the recent Dearborn Street Book Festival's "Write-On-Englewood" Writing Contest! Don Westerfield won First place for his short story entry, and Ann Favreau took Second place in the same category. Christine Burton, who makes the long drive from Bradenton for our meetings, took not only First Place in poetry, but also Third place as well!  Congratulations to our writers!

By the way, I also have it on good word that Joanne has published her book and had a wonderful display at the fair and sold many copies. Again, congratulations to all our writers.  See you all Wednesday!


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Patricia La Barbera Lecture

On Feb. 23 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Patricia La Barbera will lecture at the Selby Library on self-publishing. The program will include details about CreateSpace and Kindle. She recently revised and republished her mystery novella, and she'll share information about the process. Patricia will also show several pages of revisions, and discuss the book's first sentence, first paragraph, and first page regarding their vital elements. She'll point out important considerations for a cover choice. This presentation will encourage self-publishing by showing it's an achievable goal. From 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., attendees will have the opportunity to read excerpts from their genre manuscripts. This is a free lecture, and guests are welcome. 


Monday, February 11, 2013

George Collias' article and book are published

Regular member George Collias has been published in Running Out of Ink's e-zine. His humorous article, My Accent – Lost and Found, is featured in the current issue at:

George's second book, Myahmuh, A Novel Of Miami, Florida, has also been published. Take a look at George's website,, for information on ordering either of his books. 

Monday, February 04, 2013

Don't Miss Next Meeting

Don't miss this Wednesday, Feb 6th.   A.J. Robinson, Florida Writers Association Regional Director for Central Florida, will be our guest speaker.