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.
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.