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

Sunday, January 20, 2019

January 16th, 2019

Here we are, the second meeting of the year already. This week we were joined by Susan Haley, the founder of our group. Sue has been away for several years, we've missed her; WELCOME BACK SUE.

Also joining us for the first time in a while were Jim Kelly, one of our master poets, and George Mindling, a previous leader and good friend. We also welcomed back Peter Frickel after a brief illness, his wife Barbara was in attendance too; great to see you all, we hope to see you more frequently in the future. Bill Elam slipped in a little later; cold weather must have driven him further south.

Due to the number of attendees, twenty, we did not have an extended discussion period but went directly to the reading venue. With 12 readers the time was well spent. In deference to our returning friends, the first four readings were set aside for them.

Sue Haley brought a tribute to our poets and their poetry. Written a while back, she read a piece dedicated to Jim Kelly, Don Westerfield, and our other poets. Her observation, "Poetry lingers in every person," and a question, "Can poetry heal the world?" elicit food for thought. Sue, you are a poet of life.

After Sue's tribute, Jim Kelly surprised us with a piece somewhat out of character for him. A humorous poem entitled, John Wayne Bobbitt. Humor is not unique to Jim's work, but a reference to an incident as controversial as the Bobbitt emasculation is. Jim's mastery of words and tasteful treatment of the subject brought chuckles, even raucous laughter, to our evening. Great work Jim!

When George Mindling read a transcript of a cassette tape documenting a conversation between his daughter Monica and Shirley MacLaine. Unfazed by the prospect of talking with a Hollywood icon, Monica posed questions and comments causing even Ms. MacLaine pause.

As Peter Frickel came before the group, he posed the questions, "How do I write?" and "When do I write?" His presentation was, as always, instructional and inspiring. His suggestions for those writing memoirs are right on point. "Over time, a writer grows as he writes, ideas come from the past. Think small, don't rummage around in your memory for huge events. Leave your expectations at home, take it as it comes. Readers connect with human feelings, not whining. It's better to write for one person, yourself, than trying to please everyone."

In a scene from his novel featuring the life of Roman Emperor Constantine, Ernie Ovitz asks, has the emperor taken his wife for political reasons? Will her son, lying ill in the palace, die from lack of treatment? We'll have to tune in next time to find out.

Bringing three poems to us this week, Don Westerfield shows us how to relax on the high seas with, "Cruising." In "Ordinary Man," he depicts a man choosing to remain ordinary until death rather than become famous. "But Then You Were Gone," was a somber look at life with an undertone of the beauty one can see in others.

When Ed Ellis read his work entitled "Natural Behavior Laws - the Law of Consistency" he said he would watch for "glazed eyes in the audience." As he explained how consistency is the "on-ramp" to success, he asked, "Are you a jackhammer or a seagull?" and "Who can change?" There were no glazed eyes in the assembly and the discussion following his presentation gave proof to the interest in the subject. Join us on March 6th for Ed's presentation, "ABSTRACTIONS, the Bloodstream of the Writer."

Back from the wilds of Long Island, Lois Stern asked for opinions on the back-cover-blurb for her newest project, Pearl, a compilation of stories about exceptional children and their contribution to society. What she'd written was exceptional on its own and needed little, if any, change.

Even in a group this small, we have two authors named Jim Kelly, although the second Jim Kelly is writing a historical novel about General Winfield Scott Hancock rather than poetry, he is a gifted writer. Reading a piece of chapter 6, he took us to a party where the dashing, then Lieutenant Hancock, meets and is smitten by a charming young lady, Elmira Russell. Will this lead to something? well, I guess we'll just have to wait. Doesn't that make you want to read the next chapter?

Debbie MacAvoy brought us an interesting chapter from the "The Manipulator." The farmhouse in which Teddy lives experiences a death. A woman, whom Teddy was unaware even lived there, dies and the undertaker comes to pick up the body. Who was she? Where did she live? Teddy must know. When the house is empty, he begins an exploration, after all, his family is buying the farm and has a right to know about what went on there. All is quiet, but he can hear a creak on the stairs...

Writing is not as easy as some might think. It is especially difficult for someone who's lost their memory and all their faculties for a long time. Peter McNally had several massive strokes, suffered seizures, and brain damage which took away his ability to speak, remember, or function in ways we take for granted every day. On the road to recovery nearly twenty years later, he is writing his story. The writing is therapeutic as well as revealing, we are trying to aid him with editing, advice, and encouragement. His story is unique, spellbinding, and important. Reading the rewrite of his opening chapter shows how much improvement he's made since first joining the group. Hang in there Peter, we're in this for the duration.

Rod Digruttolo read a short piece in which he is attempting to depict the feelings and actions of a man whose 12-year-old daughter has been kidnapped. The police may have located the building in which the girl is being held and he awaits news. The group's comments were most helpful and by incorporating the suggestions into the piece, we know it will be a better piece.

The evening ended right on time, even though many of us could have continued for much longer, we adjourned. We look forward to the next meeting, February 6th, same time, same place. Until then KEEP ON WRITING.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

2019 A NEW YEAR

January 2nd, 2019

The first meeting of 2019 was small but well represented. Although only 8 of our regulars attended, Sirena Ezper, a first-time attendee sat in and participated in our discussions. It was refreshing to hear a new voice, as many new people do not join in, but sit back observing in silence. 

We opened the meeting with a discussion on "the genre." How do you choose a genre? Do you pick one before you write, after you've written, or is that someone else's choice? How many genres, sub-genres, or even sub-sub-genres are there? Whoa! This could get out of hand. Well, as usual, we spun the subject until we were all a bit dizzy. Our group is made up of writers of many genres with varying levels of experience, most of us agree the initial goal of a writer is to write what they know for an audience of one, themselves. As our experience grows, branching out into new fields and subject matter is inevitable and some of us may achieve the classification of a commercial writer, wherein we can, and will, write on any subject with a degree of skill and confidence.

Having spent an hour beating the subject to death we started to get repetitive and ended the discussion with the goal of having enough time for all our readers to get constructive feedback.

Debbie MacAvoy brought a revised Chapter 8, read at a previous meeting, to share with us. She did, as suggested by the group, massage the piece with skill and masterful use of language. It's nice to hear a piece incorporate changes which bring it back stronger. Good work, Debbie.

Next up was Dennis Cathcart. His background story for the chapter he presented was worth hearing, almost as intriguing as the story itself. I hope it's included in his final work. However, he shared the adventure of climbing over a bridge railing and descending to the channel fenders many feet below on a Snook fishing expedition. The story elicited chills of fear in many of the listeners. Oh, the things we'll do for a chance of catching a fierce fighting fish are, to say the least... NOT ALWAYS TOO BRIGHT?

Yale Larson continues his investigation into murder and threats of assassination in Doug Sahlin's latest work. Coordinating his thoughts and experience with Detective Kennedy, Yale tries to set a trap for the sniper threatening the life of a millionaire developer in Sarasota. Will he capture the killer before he strikes again?

Amari's story continues in Jeffrey Kutcher's biography of a Cuban Chef's early years. Amari's mother works three jobs in Communist Cuba but still barely supports her family. In his early life, Amari learns to equate love and food as mother and grandmother work to give the children the only thing they can afford, love by way of the sparse meals their pennies can buy.

Southern Spain, 311 A.D. where Ernie Ovitz took us to a synod of Christian leaders whose goal was to set the course of the Spanish church in the future. Would they follow the council of the Roman church? The Spanish Bishop was favored by Emperor Constantine who requested, nay demanded, the Bishop's presence at his side in Gaul. Would this set off a revolution in the hierarchy of religious leaders?

Rod Digruttolo read a first draft of Chapter 41 in his newest Charlie Bascomb Adventure. A notorious drug dealer and crime boss cut a deal with Homeland Security to out suspected terrorist cells in Washington, D.C. He's brought out of hiding only to find out his protector is an old nemesis, retired Detective Popovich, aka Tenspot.

As a facilitator of the group for several years, I welcome feedback and critique of not only the work presented but the leadership we present. It is not my goal or the intent of any senior members of the group to impose our views, a method of writing, style, or content on the members. In discussions, we attempt to guide the length and keep the content within the subject or related subjects being explored. If any attendee has suggestions or critique, please share them with us. We want this group to work for you and bring writing help to those who may seek it.

Until next meeting, keep on writing!