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

Saturday, February 23, 2019

February 20th, 2019

These meetings trigger a lot of writing. Wednesday night we hosted 18 Writers and most of them had items to share. We usually allow readers enough time to read the portions of a piece with which they are having some difficulty. The input from the writers in the room are great, ranging from suggestions of how to enhance the piece to questions as to whom the reader is trying to reach with their work. Unless the piece is unusually complicated, a five-minute read is sufficient for the group to offer multiple suggestions.

We originally planned to have a presenter at the next meeting but there's been a change of plans. We've had to postpone the presenter until the second meeting, March 20th. Ed Ellis will be presenting, Abstractions, the blood in the veins of the writer. 
Join us for an informative session.

This meeting opened with a discussion about the process of judging a writing competition. Ernie, our FWA group leader, is one of the judges in this year's Royal Palm Literary Award Competition. We looked at what judges look for in a piece submitted for the competition. The scoring is based on ten overall areas with marks of 1 to 10 points given in each category.
  1. Genre - Does the piece meet the specification of the genre in which it's entered?
  2. Hook - Does the piece interest the reader in the first paragraphs?
  3. Language and POV - Is the language used consistent with the era in which the story unfolds, is it appropriate for the target audience, and does it sound natural? Does the Point Of View change appropriately within the story?
  4. Creativity - Does the story show imagination and originality?
  5. Description - Are locations and people within the story shown as real and easily seen by the reader.
  6. Character - Are the characters developed and definable?
  7. Dialogue - Is there too little, too much, or just the right amount of dialogue?
  8. Plot - Does the plot develop within the story?
  9. Mechanics - Did the writer use the proper writing tools, ie. commas, periods, quotation marks, etc.
  10. Overall Impression - What is the judges overall impression of the story?

The discussion was energetic and questions meaningful. Thank you Ernie for bringing this to us.

As we moved into the reading portion of the evening, three readers who did not have the opportunity to read at the last meeting were called upon to present their work.

Debbie MacAvoy introduced us to two new characters in her work, The Manipulator. Teddy's parents, Frank and Pearl enter with a discussion about the real reason Frank wants to buy the farm in upstate New York and leave the city. Great dialogue and description of expressions and body language gave us good insight into the characters and their relationship. The group expressed some really good ideas as to how Debbie might expand these characters. We'll have to wait and see how this turns out. Good job Debbie.

William Beebe is a favorite author of Dennis Cathcart and Dennis wants to use a quote from him published in 1918. He read the quote to the group and received feedback on how to incorporate it. 

When Sue Haley read her poem The Very Core of Me, the room took a deep communal breath as they heard the lament of our Mother Earth. As always, Sue hit the nail on the head in expressing her feelings and drawing her audience into the moment.

The second day of the battle at Gettysburg dawned with Jim Kelly II reading a snippet from the historical novel about the life of General Winfield Scott Hancock. It was almost a though we could smell death and hear the moans of the wounded from the previous day even as he delved into the thoughts of the General's planning.

Reading a selection of short poems, Peter Frickel took us on a journey through the labyrinth of his thoughts. Peter urges us to write with concision as we put forth our ideas and stories. 

A poet who is not a member of our group but is represented by his sister, Barbara Frickel, wrote a beautiful piece entitled 3 Suns Up. Barbara's rendition of the happenings on a farm as seen from the Sun's point of view was beautiful and expressive, we could feel the sun's warmth and cool dampness of the morning dew. 

Can you imagine eating a half-century-old piece of cake. Well, Linda Bond shared the experience and history of a piece of wedding cake reclaimed and shared at a 50th anniversary celebration.

When Ed Ellis brought a new poem to the floor, we looked forward to it with pleasure as Ed always finds a new twist in his active brain. This was no exception, In Here Out There was all we expected. Great job Ed.

The continuing story of a young boy in Castro's Cuba is taking shape in the biographical novel of Amari. Jeffrey Kutcher paints a picture of a boy who despite economic shortcomings in his everyday life manages to have some fun and obtain a reasonable education. When his friends loosen the screws in his school desk, Amari gets in trouble with the teacher who is teaching the history of Cuba as seen by Castro's politics.

In her last meeting of the season before returning to the north, Lois Stern shared a story from the upcoming book in the Tales2Inspire series. A Gentle Voice for Social Justice follows a young Dominican through his formidable years as he leaves home to join his father in the United States. There he is educated and dedicates his life to making life better for others here and in his home country.

As the evening drew to a close, the group still seemed reluctant to leave as they clustered in small groups and continued conversation. It took the extinguishing of lights to finally move them outside. 

We hope to see you at the next meeting on March the 6th, same time, same place. Until then, KEEP ON WRITING.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Because we are fortunate enough to enjoy balmy weather almost year-round, we have the pleasure of hosting many excellent writers from the north each winter. Among them, Lois Stern is a true standout. She hosts and publishes unique stories authored by writers from around the world by way of her Tales2Inspire book series. Some members of our group have entered the contest and are were winners, including your's truly. At this posting, Lois has six editions in print for your reading pleasure. You now have the chance to preview stories from these editions. I urge you to take advantage of this generous offer and read these amazing true stories of courage, friendship, and heartwarming tales.

Rod DiGruttolo   


For those of you who enjoy “Chicken Soup for the Soul” type stories, Lois W. Stern has a gift for you - a sampler of six amazing stories taken from a number of the Tales2Inspire books. Quick, inspiring reads, all true stories, with original photos to enhance their power and prove their authenticity. 
Go to to get your FREE copy. 

Lois W. Stern
Creator of Tales2Inspire - an 'Authors Helping Authors’ Project/Contest

Free Inspiring Stories e-book:
Your Reviews are most appreciated

Thursday, February 07, 2019

February 6th, 2019

Welcome back.

This meeting was well attended with 19 writers in the seats. Linda Bond returned from the frozen north to join us until the snow melts. We missed you. Joining us for the first time was Susan Sofie Bierker, author of Me, Too!: Child and Adult Sexual Abuse Prevention. Sofie asked if we could make a few suggestions as to why her book is not selling too well. She read the back cover blurb and got a number of suggestions which seemed to please her. Good luck Sofie.

I received a few suggestions as to what direction our discussion should take. This week I picked some I thought would evoke passionate input, It seems I was correct for at least once in my life. 
I asked; 
How much research do you do when writing a fictional piece?
How do you use the research?
Do you remain accurate to the findings or do you use poetic license?
Do you care about being accurate with details or do you simply write for fun and make stuff up?

We took off on a discussion in which we heard at least 10 points of view on the subject. Most all agreed research is important for fiction and non-fiction work. One even quoted an unremembered source as saying "non-fiction is 83% truth while fiction is 83% truth." After a few surprised looks, a light seemed to appear in the eyes of most of the group. It dawned on even me, writers write what they know in most cases. When writing fiction, either research or personal knowledge lends much to the story resulting in a great amount of truth making its way to the page.

One of us recalled having a character drinking a beer in his story. During an edit of the piece, he wondered if that brand of beer existed in the time-frame in which his story took place. Some research proved him correct and he could proceed without worry. Another found their characters eating food unknown to the citizens of the century. I related as to how I once wrote a chapter in which I had fluorescent lighting in a home two years before it was commercially available. Each of these errors was found and corrected before publication. Did you ever wonder about your work?

The consensus of the group was unanimous, research for anything you write, with the possible exception of pure fantasy, is needed to present a readable and reasonably accurate story. Even Science Fiction requires research, presenting a story in the future with today's outdated technology would probably turn your readers off quickly.

Each of us works to put a good story on paper. If we are accurate, readers can relate to our work and read without question. Make an error and some reader will be sure to find it. Let's hope it's a small one and only a select few people will find it, preferably our Beta Readers.

As our discussion drew to a close we took a short break and moved on to a presentation by Peter Frickle. On Peter's bookshelf, the works of numerous masters abound. Hemingway, Faulkner, Dumas, and others inspire his writings. He's read biographies and memoirs by many of these renowned authors. As a result, he penned his view on what memoirs attract readers and here are a few points he made. 

Think small, those little details lend authenticity to the story, they give the reader something to which they can relate in their lives. If you think only of grandiose happenings in life, can you fill the pages of a book? Was your life so big, so interesting, it can garner the attention of readers? If so, that's wonderful but most memoirs are less spectacular and are written to share the little, poignant moments of our lives. Look for the human factor, the human connection. The story must have continuity, each segment must flow seamlessly into the next. Break the story into logical sections, attack a large project by breaking it into manageable chunks and show a personal connection with the places and people in your life. Readers do not connect with whining, whining, whining. Don't complain, relate.

Peter's advice is given freely and without a directive, it's meant to help writers in accordance with the goal of this group. 

As we moved into the reading portion of the evening, we had a large number of requests but time is limited. So, next meeting the opening readers will be, Debbie, Leah, and Dennis. Thank you for your patience.

Ernie Ovitz took us back in time to 311AD. The Prefect of Rome (now we would call him the Chief of Police) engages in a bit of pillow-talk with his lover. During the sensual repose, he reveals more information about spies in Rome than intended. Will this cause a problem with Emperor Constantine?

Rod read a portion of a chapter he read at the last meeting. After incorporating some suggestions and advice from the group, he revised the work. The revisions were met with approval and declared workable.

"More mayhem" is what Doug Sahlin promised in presenting a chapter from his latest Yale Larson saga. Yale takes a call from an acquaintance relating a death threat against her business partner, one of Yale's clients. Rushing to a development site, Yale encounters his client exiting a trailer-office on the property. Shoving him back inside just in time to avoid a clear shot from a sniper, Yale calls the police and contends with high-velocity rifle rounds puncturing the walls of the building. When one of the rounds strikes his client in the buttocks Yale drags him to a safe area and returns fire. Even though his automatic handgun is outmatched, he hopes the sheer volume of shots will cause the sniper to be less accurate and maybe he can even land a lucky shot. What's next? 

Poetry is one of the long suits of this group as we are blessed by some wonderful poets as well as prose writers. Don Westerfield is a class-act in the poetry department. He is launching a new book in a few weeks entitled, Seasons. Fortunately, he treated us to his reading of the introduction and title poem. When it hits the market, I suggest everyone buy a copy, it's worthwhile reading.

Amari the Prankster, a chapter in the biography of a Cuban Chef by Jeffrey Kutcher will be a great read when it's finished. Jeffrey presented the chapter in which Amari tricks the lunchroom monitors into giving him a second meal, strictly prohibited by the system. By rushing to eat in the lunchroom, Amari takes his place near the front of the line, he eats quickly and leaves by a back door. Moments later, he returns to the end of the line and waits patiently for his turn. This was the beginning of Amari's revolt against the rule of Castro's Communistic Reign. 

Fantasy or Science Fiction? Rene Fletcher brought us a chapter from her latest work. Ava is inducted into a sisterhood of women of Inner Earth. During the ceremony, a vision of evil spilling from Pandora's box to infest the minds of humans is reflected in a pool of magical water. This is our introduction to Mind Mites.

When Bill Elam took the floor his reading of a new chapter in his story about a nameless old man held us entranced. Bill's reading style and well-crafted words carried us into a grandfatherly relationship between the old man and a small child. Emotion blanketed the room and more than one eye became misty.

It seemed as if the clock was racing and too soon it was time to draw to a close. As we made our way to the parking lot, small knots of writers continued discussions. This really is a group of writers, readers, and listeners.

Until next time, February 20th at 6:30 PM; Keep on Writing!