We are officially out of chairs! We had 27 attendees, two of whom were member's spouses, including my wife, Ilse, and one first time guest, Asha Anderson. Eight attendees were members of the Florida Writers Association. Surprise guest Bill Elam joined us just for the evening before heading back north once again. Bob Taylor and Pat Patterson from Punta Gorda joined us as well. With 21 people signing up to read, it would be a full night.
Rod DiGruttolo was taking care of family business, and I had an unscheduled meeting pop up that created a problem of opening the room in time for the meeting. My heartfelt thanks to Peter Frickel and Ed Ellis who both showed up early to set up the room.
After our 6:00 o'clock meet and greet, we kicked off on schedule, and after passing out my extra copies of the Florida Writer, I introduced the new guests. Joanne Phillips masterminded a plot to celebrate Ed Ellis's birthday, which explained the birthday cake, the cookies and the drinks some people – those who were in on the secret – brought to the meeting.
I introduced Kat Levato, who did a great presentation on blogging. This was a follow-up to her first presentation an basic blogging several months ago. With hand-outs for everyone, and her great question and answer session, we expect to see member's blogs popping up like flowers.
After Kat's presentation, we took an early break and devoured Ed's cake and cookies in a social gathering that got extended somewhat beyond our normal time, then kicked off the first of the readings. Reading is done in the order of the sign-in, but with 21 readers in queue, and only an hour and a half left, I juggled the schedule a little and some readers graciously decided to wait until the next meeting. Anyone who didn't get to read will be at the top of the list for the next meeting. We ask that readings be held to 5 minutes, preferably not more than 3 pages of double space writing, but even with this requirement, I wouldn't get everyone in.
We did get to hear eleven readers, beginning with Peter Frickel's great writing, Lilies of the Vlei. Having Peter read first is a humbling experience for those that follow, so any ego issues are immediately put to bed. Great writing and great reading. Peter also had copies of his audio book in CD format available, really professionally done.
We followed with another chapter of Gracie, the time traveling dwarf kangaroo from the 36th dimension as Linda Shell read yet another chapter of her YA adventure. Bruce, the headless chicken got everyone's stunned attention, but the discussions afterward were good.
Joanne Phillips entertained the group as in times of olde with her great wit and humor with “Technique,” “Scratch,” and “Dead Muse.” Joanne never fails to enthrall our normally hardened group and drew applause with her light hearted poetry.
Kerri Dieffenwierth read a reworked piece from her unnamed upcoming anthology. The feedback to Kerri's great writing showed the diversity in interpretation by different readers. Kerri encouraged everyone with her experiences in submitting writing to publishers, and handled questions from those who haven't yet stretched their wings, so to speak. Thank you, Kerri!
Newcomer Jenny Oberg read another sensitive piece that pulled everyone in. Jenny is a welcome addition to the group, and we have a feeling we've only scratched the surface of Jenny's talents. Dean Telfer, also a newcomer, read next, and once everyone got over the spell cast by his British accent, actually listened to his unique writing in “The Case of the Nibbled Thigh.” Joanne sat up immediately when she heard the title.
Jim Kelly was up next with two more poems, Cobweb, and A Curtain in the Window, both engrossing, thought provoking poems that showcase his unique command of economy of words. Jim's poetry is always a mainstay of our readings. Jack Wetherson read for the first time with an essay on self-publishing. Everyone envisioned a work of their own when he mentioned a writing “bleeding from every page from the red ink.”
Cathy Marine returned with “Looking for Rays,” the opening chapter of her upcoming book about Spotted Eagle Rays. Nice interweaving of dialog and description. Cathy's first book, No Dead Fish for Ginger! is available at eifrigpublishing.com as well as the bookstore at Mote Marine.
Bill Elam, who unexpectedly stopped by, read a touching story of facing your twilight years with grace and poise. Birthday-boy Ed Ellis closed out the readings with a Damon Runyonesque tale of amateurs trying to buy marijuana for the first time. Funny stuff, Ed, and we won't ask how you did the research.
We will start the next meeting on July 3rd with readings by Beth, Asha, Jung, Don, Ernie, Kat, and George. See everyone then.