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

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Marisa Mangani

Our own Marisa Mangani is part of the article at: Read down to the 8th comment. In the meantime, checkout Marisa's blog at:


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Dianne Ochiltree

Picture book author and FWA Member Dianne Ochiltree, will lead storytime at 11:00am, July 3 at Bookstore 1 Sarasota, 1359 Main Street, Sarasota, 941-365-7900;

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Firehouse Community Theatre of LaBelle

The Firehouse Community Theatre of LaBelle is once again announcing this exciting invitation to  playwrights who seek both exposure of their  unpublished work and cash awards.  Please contact Lori M. Shula, Chair of the Competition at this email address or by phone 239-292-4458 with any questions or concerns.  Thanks for sharing this good news.


The Firehouse Community Theatre of LaBelle, Florida announces the Third Annual Clarence “Bud” Jones Playwriting Competition. The legacy of Bud Jones, a veteran Clewiston English Teacher and theatre devotee, is again being honored by his family, John and Betty Jones of LaBelle. FCT is honored to be chosen to facilitate this project designed to celebrate and showcase theatrical arts in Southwest Florida,  Full-length, previously unpublished plays, written by authors with a Southwest Florida connection are welcome.  All submissions must be accompanied by the official entry form, $25 fee , and may be  made electronically   or by mail prior to August 1, 2015. Past First Place Winners of the CBJ Playwriting Competition include Chuck Wood of Lehigh Acres and Willoughby, OH for his play “Up Close from a Distance” performed during the 2014-2015 FCT season and Clarissa Thomasson of Venice FL for her play “ Over the Bridge” . Extensive competition information and forms are found at or phone 863-675-3066.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Wednesday Meeting, June 3, 2015

 FWA member Ernie Ovitz has published his first novel, The Seventh King, (available on Amazon at: Congratulations to Ernie, and we are thrilled to hear work is already under way for a second novel! Great way to start!


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Wednesday Meeting, May 20th 2015

The third Wednesday of May has come and gone. The Sarasota Writer’s Group met at the Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department and sixteen people attended. Ten of the attendees read some of their work and it was exciting.
Rod, the chief cat-herder, pulled an old switch-a-roo; he turned the sign-in sheet upside down and instituted a bottom’s up reading order.
Last to sign in and first to read was Bruce Haedrich. Normally a writer of prose, and darn good at it, Bruce read a poem entitled Mary’s Big Imagination. It was a fun piece aimed at a youthful readership and the entire group agreed it would be a wonderful illustrated children’s book.
Chris Burton was back after a long absence. We are glad to have her back and in good health. She explained, while undergoing some unpleasantness, she had little time to write but when she did, it was limited and her mind was in a strange mode. She presented two poems, both were excellent and I may have made an error in the first title Hours are Flowing, but the second I confirmed is I Dream a Lime Sky.
When Joanne Dunlap takes the floor we never know what to expect and she did it again. Reading a poem that drew laughter from the group and a wince of pain from husband Joe, she was constantly surprised at “How much that man could eat.”
At her last meeting until next October, we’ll miss you, Kathleen Schwartz, author of Stay the Night, available on Amazon, read a touching remembrance of her Brother Jim his love of art and adventures in a world filled with temptation was a realistic and honest depiction of a fun-loving man who was loved by the author who wrote this mainly for her family and in tribute to her brother.
Wendy Dingwell read the opening of her third travel mystery. The action begins in the first sentence and promises to continue throughout. We’re looking forward to seeing Toxic Cruise soon.
Dusting off an older piece, George Collias shared his story, My Accent, Lost and Found. This launched the group into a half-hour discussion on writing with dialect and patois inserted. While most appreciated the realistic use of dialect, within limits, it was noted that its use is strictly up to the author. I have a feeling we’ll hear more on this subject as Rod challenged the group to write a few lines using dialect or accent for discussion at the next meeting. We’ll see!
Don Westerfield’s, The Demise of the Star Venture came with copies handed out and a critique requested. We hope the group responds as enthusiastically as usual. It was a fun piece.
In her usual thought provoking manner, Kerri Dieffenwerth presented a follow up to the memoir she’s been working on for four years, as she pointed out. She read some interesting definitions of things from her work, threads throughout the work the reader can follow. Her points brought some extended discussion and the group could see light bulbs coming on throughout the room.
Jim Kelly brought a Poem entitled The Big Apple to us. As usual it was full of imagery and entertained us thoroughly.
Peter Frickel closed the meeting with a group of vignettes, samples of his writing that come from extraneous thoughts jotted down while relaxing, having a glass of wine or just watching the world from his patio. As usual they were beautiful examples of literary art that are poetry in prose and with his reading prowess, a joy to hear.
Our next meeting is June 3rd, here at the Nokomis Fire House. Looking forward to seeing all of you. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Wordier Than Thou

From Marisa Mangani

I will be reading at Wordier than Thou see site for featured readers. Please share for me!

My latest blog post is at:

Friday, May 08, 2015

Write Right, Right Now!,

My name is Liz Coursen. I am the author of five books about punctuation and grammar. I blog about editing issues at
I will be presenting a fun and fast-paced editing workshop, Write Right, Right Now!, on Tuesday night, 6:15, at the Sarasota Authors Connection at the Fruitville Library, which is located just east of I-75 off of Fruitville Road in Sarasota.
I say it'll be "fun," and it will be, but my main purpose is to educate authors and aspiring authors in the niceties of our craft. Most authors—maybe I should say too many authors—don't know a comma splice from a hole in the ground and have only the vaguest notion of the collective noun rule. For workshop attendees, that's about to change.
The workshop uses "real world" material: real sentences from real authors, from real authors' websites, and from websites like LinkedIn and Bring your questions, bring your friends, and come prepared to sharpen your skills.
Best wishes, Liz Coursen
award-winning author, editor, and publisher.  Author of
The Complete Biography Workbook
Self-Editing for the Successful Student
Self-Editing for Content Writers

The Book Tourist: Seven Steps to a Wildly Successful Book Tour
Shade in the Sunshine State: Reflections on Segregation in Florida

Thursday, May 07, 2015

May 6th, 2015 Meeting

While we had only thirteen attendees at the Wednesday, May 6th, 2015, meeting of the Sarasota Writers Group, seven of whom were FWA members, we had a really great meeting. FWA members J. Jeff Cochran published his "Caught in a Past Reflection," and Pamela Schuneman, CPA, published an article in the professional Journal of Accountancy. Pamela also had a short story included in the 2015 Savannah Anthology called Sailboats. Long time member Kathleen McMahon Schwartz, whose new book "Stay the Night," handed out her new business cards as her new book is now available on Amazon. Congratulations to Kathleen, Jeff and Pam, hopefully the beginnings of long and prosperous writing careers.

We welcomed three new guests, Kristen Fisher, Debra Muenchow, and Bruce Heidrich, and got to hear the prologue from Debra's work in progress. It appears she is off to a really good start. Bruce is already an established author with The Fifth Generation War, Dead on the Fourth, Trump Card, Ghost, and The Locket. Bruce is the creator of the Dan Marin mystery series. Welcome to our new guests and we hope we offer the environment you are looking for.

We had nine readers, from humorous pieces about growing beards to FWA member Peter Frickel's marvelous reading from his piece, The River. We wrapped up a little after nine and turned out the lights. Next meeting: May 20th, 2015.

While we all enjoy the varied and multi-genre readings of the group, the highlight for me is always the poetry of Jim Kelly. Jim's work with the elementary students in the area is always a delight, and while we don't have the winner's poems from a recent 5th grade poetry contest he read to the group that delighted everyone, I do have one of Jim's earlier pieces, written in a metre he no longer uses, and I have his permission to use Depth of Love, written in 1996.

Depth of Love

How am I to measure love
and the tenderness we knew,
as I pace the lonely nights
you spend with someone new?

Shall I count the hidden tears
that hurt too much to fall,
while injured pride traps me inside
to face those barren walls?

How am I to measure love
in days that never end.
when all the years that meant the most
have left me "just a friend"?

I can't forget the unkind words
I know you didn't mean,
the ones that fill my empty glass
with shards of broken dreams.

How am I to measure love
when all the pain is through?
I guess I'll add the best of times
to the memories of you

©James O. Kelly
Englewood, FL
Jan 1996

As George Collias reminds us from Earnest Hemingway: "Write drunk, edit sober," Or was it Dylan Thomas? I don't remember.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

...And Furthermore...

I need to update the blog Dirty Secrets of a Writers Group I posted back on November 25th, 2014. I realized I left something very important out of the blog, so, with my apologies, I will add the following update:

Don't let your speaking style detract from your writing. If you sound like you're reading the telephone book when you are reading Steinbeck out loud, get someone else to read your material to the group. We have a regular member who is in demand to read other people's work. We call her the "Voice of FM," and her interpretation and inflection when reading makes even the aforementioned telephone book a pleasure to listen to. I recently read a member's final proof and was astounded to find myself intrigued by the book that I had a hard time following during the readings. I realized then that every reader embeds their own images and emotions on the written material, quite different from having it interpreted for you by a reader who flavors it by the way they speak. So, once again, don't expect an audience to cheer your first attempt at explaining how you helped develop nuclear fission if you, like me, read out loud like Elmer Fudd. Get a good speaker, or hand out enough printed copies for everyone so your audience can read for themselves.

Stay the Night - Kathleen McMahon Schwartz

Spread the word, please! My new book, Stay the Night, comes out as a Kindle ebook, Smashwords ebook on April 30. Paperback book follows in a couple of weeks. It can be preordered before April 30th on Amazon Kindle or Smashwords for a reduced price.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Wednesday, April 15th, the Sarasota Writers Group meeting.

The Sarasota Writers Group welcomed new FWA member Wendy Dingwall, author of Celtic Curse: An Yvonne Suarez Travel Mystery. Wendy launched her own publishing company, Canterbury House Publishing, Ltd., and is also a past president of the High Country Writers Association in Boone, North Carolina. Returning for a second meeting was Simona Pipko, author of Baltic Winds, and a former attorney in the Soviet Union. While living in New York City and teaching at the New School for Social Research and New York University, Simona wrote articles for various publications including the International Lawyer and ABA, Law and National Security Intelligence Report. Simona read her first article published in eMagazine which will be included in her upcoming 4th book. Also joining us for the first time was Ty and Helen Jodouin. Ty has two science fiction books available, Voyage to Oblivion and Rogue Planet. We welcome Wendy, Simona, and Ty and his lovely wife Helen, and hope they find our eccentric group not only entertaining but constructive as well. We had 18 attendees, 7 of whom are FWA members.

We kicked off our meeting after our usual meet and greet session with comments about a very nice newspaper article in the North Port Sun by Marissa Williams about Rod DiGruttolo and myself at the recent friends of North Port Library Book Fair. Cathy Marine, Maris Soule, and Jane Ann McLachlan were also at the Book Fair, representing the Sarasota Writers group.

Our first reader was Jenny Oberg, who read a delightful piece about her recent zero-dark-thirty drive to Immokalee to watch the annual Hot Air Balloon festival, followed by Ernie Ovitz, who is on the brink of publishing his first book, The Seventh King. Ernie elected to read his upcoming Toastmasters Presentation, which incidentally, was about his book. Don Westerfield followed and warned everyone ahead of time to get the hankies ready. Joanne Dunlap was back, and is she ever back. Great to hear her great writing once again, followed by George Collias who read a short story from Faulkner, A Rose for Emily, reminding us all what a great short story sounds like.

Up next was Masrisa Mangani, who always stimulates the grey matter with phrases like "pinking tourists" while describing growing up in Hawaii. Simona then read her first article and we had to carefully disengage from a political discussion about the material to one about her writing. We do not discuss politics or religion during our meetings as all are welcome to present their writing, but we will fervently discuss how well someone writes about any subject. 

 Andrew Parker, who read the final first chapter of his rewritten Bitch Trailer Park, a unique story only Andrew could have written. Bill Elam delayed his trip home by a day just so he could attend our meeting, and read a piece called "Frozen Chosin," about the infamous U.S. Marine battle in Korea.

Another great meeting behind us, we wrapped up with a quick discussions about the simple use of commas, and said goodnight. Next meeting: May 6th, 2015


Friday, April 03, 2015

A to Z Challenge

From Maris Soule
Sarasota Writers Group

Every day (with the exception of Sundays) I and about 1200 other writers are blogging, using a blog that matches the letter for that day. April 1 was A, April 2 is/was B. Friday will be C. Saturday will be D. Skip Sunday. Monday will be E, and so on.
The challenge is at
My blogs are mainly about writing. Tomorrows will be about critiquing. Today was about borrowing. (Actually I got the idea for that one from the last Sarasota meeting I attended.)
Anyway, I'd love to have others reading the blogs or going to read the blogs written by some of these other writers. (By the way, it's International.)

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Coming Event - Poetry Life Weekend

Poetry Life Weekend With Marie Howe, Billy Collins and Tracy K. Smith - May 1st and 2nd

Thanks to Kerri for the tip

Sarasota Writers Group Meeting, Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

We were pleased to have Stephen King as our guest, uh, no, that was the April Fools joke, but we did have the wonderful Lisa Colburn, author and publisher of "The Maine Garden Journal" as our guest speaker. Lisa's marvelous story of crowd financing, researching, writing, editing, publishing and printing her beautifully done book kept our 15 members rapt attention during our first meeting in April. We followed with readings for the remainder of the evening, including the winning poems from the 5th grade entries at the recent Dearborn Street Book Festivals. Future members of the FWA, I'm sure. Four of the night's attendees were FWA members, and we welcomed one new guest. Next meeting: April 15th Tax day.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Keeping Figs Alive

"I wake up thinking: Today I’ll learn to tap dance and play the trumpet. To watercolor and make websites. Tomorrow I’ll create a calendar empire. I’ll be taught how to frame a house and then build one, and then learn to photograph it in every type of light. I’ll speak Spanish and Hindi and Khmer. Then work at the UN as a translator. I’ll make everybody spring rolls and then teach them all about economics. I’ll learn about economics! I will have the answer to every question that exists about that weird swirling mass of garbage in the Pacific and then design a pack of greeting cards to wrap in twine and give to a stranger on Earth Day."

Michelle Starin
Keeping Figs Alive