Schedule and Location

Welcome to the Sarasota Writers Group Blog. Meetings are held the first and third Wednesday of the month at the Nokomis Fire Station, located just a few blocks south of Albee Road (where Matthews-Currie Ford is located) at Pavonia Road. We are on the west, or bay side, of U.S. 41, by the Fire Station's flashing yellow caution traffic light. If you are coming from the south on US 41, we are just north of Dona Bay. Turn on Pavonia and pull to the far end, or west side, of the firehall. Please do not block the fire doors! We meet in the training room on the far side of the complex. Gathering time: 6:00 pm Meeting called to order: 6:30 pm Ten minute break: 8:00 pm Meeting Finishes at 9:00 pm

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" days...like 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.

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