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: 7:50 pm Meeting Finishes at 9:00 pm

Thursday, February 22, 2018

February 21st, 2018

It was a full house tonight. We came to hear our esteemed speaker, Elizabeth Sims and were almost SRO, but fortunately, we found a few extra chairs sitting around the firehouse, and the audience was seated.

Elizabeth fired up the projector, hooked up the computer, and put up with a stumbling introduction from yours truly before bringing up a poignant fact; "Writing a Book is Easy and Fun." As that statement filled the packed room, I heard the sharp intake of a collective breath. I could almost hear the thoughts in the room, What the devil are you saying, woman? Writing is hard work! Well, guess what, it’s not. Writing is the easy part, it’s what comes after the writing that’s hard.

As Elizabeth worked her magic, she introduced methods of simplifying the writing process. Get comfortable to write, enter into garret mode, and, for this exercise, Eliminate Perfection. It doesn’t matter if what you’re writing is a properly grammatic document or a page full of disjointed thoughts, get the words on paper, or a computer screen if that’s your bag. As she progressed, Elizabeth introduced some unique words to describe a few of the actions and methods she uses to get going. Writers have the ability to coin words and use them as they see fit, Elizabeth is a master at it.

Your brain is invaluable when writing, but even more valuable is your heartbrain. What the devil is a heartbrain? Well, it’s a made-up word courtesy of Elizabeth Sims and I read it to mean, it’s simply writing what you feel instead of what you know. Put emotion into your writing, let it flow. Now, how do you do that? It’s simple, don’t try. Let the words fall where they may, look for patterns in what you’re writing. How often do you find yourself repeating a theme and thinking, is this redundant? Maybe it is at this point, but there’s a story in you fighting to come out. Follow your heart, capitalize on those recurring themes.

Stormwriting is another of Elizabeth’s words. Look, it’s simple; you write up a storm. Getting started is easy, start with a thought, we all have them occasionally. Write it down and say, YES, AND or WHAT IF. Now, write, don’t try to make it grammatically correct or even necessarily coherent at this point. Have fun with it, write until you’ve exhausted the idea maker. Then take a break and relax, treat yourself to a cool drink or a nap before coming back to see what you’ve written. You’ll be surprised.

Okay, I’ve just scratched the surface of wisdom imparted in a two-and-a-half-hour presentation, I wish we could have had more time. Most of us came away with more of a bargain than we realize. It might take a few days, as we rehash in our minds much of what we heard, to capture even a small percentage of what was presented. 

Elizabeth’s book, You’ve Got a Book in You, a stress-free guide to writing the book of your dreams, is all that’s advertised. What it says on the cover promises to let the book inside of you make its way to paper. It’s not a how-to book, it’s a you-can-do book and Elizabeth knows it can be done, she’s written a shelf full of great mysteries, short stories galore, and hundreds of articles aimed at making writers better at their craft.

We thank Elizabeth Sims for sharing her knowledge and taking the time to speak with us. Be sure to visit her website, www.ElizabethSims.com, and if you didn’t have a chance to pick up a copy of her book tonight, it’s available on Amazon or www.WritersDigest.com.    

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I know these things and write with them in mind:

Writing is Fun. I write for fun and the thrill of seeing my ideas on paper. Maybe I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up a few dollars from book sales in the process, but that is not as important as the thrill and fun of creation.

My Imagination Can Go Anywhere. Pick a location, it doesn’t have to be a real place. I can explore the working of a killer's mind as they kill with abandon, I can be a hero, a sinner, a saint, capture the bad guys, visit an undiscovered planet, or dive to the depths of a fictional ocean, all the while not moving from my desk. 

If I Don’t Like It, I Can Change It. I’ve written it but when I’m finished, it doesn’t seem real, it’s plastic, fake, unimaginative. That’s okay, another piece of paper or another few bytes on my computer is all it takes to redirect, add emotion, make it real, change the sex of a character, change the origin of the story, do anything I want, it’s my story and I have the power.

Well, that's about all my old brain can find to say right now. Our next meeting is March 7th, same time, same place. We will discuss what we’ve learned tonight as well as hear and discuss our own writings. 

Until then,
Keep on Writing

Thursday, February 08, 2018

February 7th

It’s season, we had a total of nineteen attendees at the meeting including two first-timers. We welcome Tanya and Ed, hoping you enjoyed the meeting and see your way clear to return.

We opened the meeting on time and Lois Stern announced the new 2018 Tales2Inspire subject line. It will be High Impact Kids. True stories of kids working to improve the world and way of life for those around them. A great storyline.

Bruce reminds us, the Venice Book Fair is March 23 – 24th, the 24th being the sale day and he has a table. If you wish to share it contact him or see him at the next meeting. It will cost you $75 for half the table. Visit the website, venicebookfair.com

Ed pointed out the Fort Myers Book Fair is coming March 3rd. He says it’s worth going to see what’s happening even if you don’t buy a table.

Darrian announced her story, Two Violins, has been purchased by Cricket Magazine and will be in an upcoming issue.

And finally, Ian’s new book, A Wartime Journey Revisited, is proofed and ready for print. Hopefully, he will have copies before his departure this spring.

We embarked on Stage 2 of our writing exercise. At our last meeting, we wrote a short piece in fifteen minutes including the words, screwdriver, forty-two, and purple. We had quite a wide spectrum of genres and approaches. This meeting we were asked to take those stories and pass them to the person on our left; each story was to be written again with changes designed to make it different, comedy becomes tragedy; bizarre becomes plausible; etc. Again, it was interesting to see what happened.

We had murder becoming a fashion show, si-fi becoming comedy, mundane becoming mystery, and ridiculous become even more ridiculous as a deceased woman is buried in a pilfered cemetery plot.

It’s remarkable when writers have but a few short minutes to come up with a story plot. Some stumble, some soar but, all respond.

As we moved on to the reading/critique portion of the meeting we were running a little short of time and only about half our readers could present. Next meeting, we have a guest speaker, Elizabeth Sims, noted author and friend of our group. Don’t miss her.

Doug opened the reading with a rewrite of the second chapter of his latest Yale Larson mystery. In the first chapter Yale was called upon to identify the remains of his father, a man whom he’d not seen in many years. Chapter two introduces Yale’s half-brother and leaves us wondering why he’s in the picture after not being around for years.

A Galactic traveler, along with an army of helpers bring life to suffering worlds in Ian’s latest work. However, when the traveler feels his life ending he instructs his helpers to deposit his body on a nearby small, but welcoming, planet. They bury him in a beautiful area surrounded by towering red rocks as they excavate the area and put him to rest. The local inhabitants are moved from the are lest they recall the interment. This is the “true” story of how Bryce Canyon came to be. Well, according to Ian, anyway.

With his usual aplomb, Ed brought us a poem entitled Dynamic Existence. It’s deep meaning and unusual premise makes the reader think. 

While in the poetry vein, Peter shared a group of short works, each a gem. Slow to Go, compares life with a flickering candle; Silent Like a Soldier, a requiem for small plants unable to mature; Life Widens, who I might be. In all ten poems were shared, though it took only ten minutes a lifetime passed through our minds.

Darienne debuted her new work Pleasant, about a young slave boy in 1841. A difficult subject but she does it justice. In this story, the boy must choose between friendship and freedom. A tough choice and she handles it well.

We ran out of time, so, Bill, Don, Debbie, Bruce, Linda, and Rene will have to wait until the next reading session to share their work, we know it'll be worth the wait.

Until next time, Keep on Writing,
Rod

Monday, February 05, 2018

February

Hello again y'all,

February is going to be a fun month. Our meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 7th, is a regular meeting and I'm looking forward to hearing some great stories. We will be doing the Second Stage of the Creative Writing Exercise. Be prepared.

At our second meeting of the month, Feb. 21st, we are honored to have as a guest speaker, internationally recognized author, Elizabeth Sims, Barring any unforeseen complications, like the flu or virus sweeping the nation.

Elizabeth is the author of the Rita Farmer Mysteries and the winner of the 2003 Lambda and Golden Crown Literary Society (GCLS) Goldie Award for Lillian Byrd Crime Series books. She is also a contributing editor for Writer's Digest magazine.

She is represented by the Donald Maass agency, belongs to several literary societies, and is a member of American Mensa.


I understand she will be speaking on her book, You've Got a Book in You and passing along tips and tricks for getting the best out yourself where it comes to writing.

I hope you will join us at our regular meeting time, 6:30 PM and bring notepad.