Writing News for the Sunshine State & the Solar System * Editor: Howard Denson * Feb. 2014


In This Issue:


Michael Ray Fitzgerald to discuss writing about TV’s Indians

Amelia Island Book Festival headlines David Baldacci and dozens of writers, poets, editors Feb. 20-22

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award seeks entries from Feb. 16 to Mar. 2

Workshop is filled but open to visitors Feb. 4 till Mar. 11

Arliss Ryan to give tips on turning research into ‘astounding’ fiction

BookMark to host Tim Dorsey, HarperCollins editors, Annette Simon, Jan-Phillipe Sendker

It’s so cold you may as well stay inside and read a FWA blog – Vic DiGenti

Stuff from a Writer’s Quill — Charles Baudelaire

Stuff from Hither and Yon

FWA news about meetings, contests, and workshops

The Wrong Stuff – Howard Denson

Writers Born This Month

Meetings of NFW and Other Groups

Useful Links

Need someone to critique a manuscript?

The Write Staff


Michael Ray Fitzgerald

to discuss writing

about TV’s Indians


The North Florida Writers will hear Michael Ray Fitzgerald at the Feb. 8 meeting speak about the writing of his book, “Native Americans on Network TV: Stereotypes, Myths, and the ‘Good Indian.’” The meeting will be at the VyStar Credit Union at 760 Riverside Ave., next to the Fuller Warren Bridge and Saturday’s Riverside Arts Market. The meeting, which is free and open to the public, will begin at noon and end before 3 p.m.


The book from Lanham, Md.-based Scarecrow Press is a revised version of his doctoral thesis, which Fitzgerald wrote under the supervision of Prof. Jonathan Bignell at the University of Reading in Berkshire, England. Bignell is a prominent author-scholar in the U.K.


Fitzgerald’s book examines stereotypes of Native Americans on U.S. television, some of which, he asserts, have roots that go as far back as Pocahontas and Daniel Defoe’s Friday (from “The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe”).


“I believe mine is the only book that focuses solely on American Indian characters on television,” Fitzgerald says. “Most studies of this nature combine television representations with those of film. This one focuses exclusively on television representations.”


Fitzgerald signed the contract while attending a conference in Milwaukee sponsored by the journal Film & History, where he met series editor Cynthia Miller, a professor at Emerson College in Boston. The contract was accepted by Scarecrow’s senior editor Stephen Ryan.


Fitzgerald, a long-time musician on the Jacksonville scene, returned to college in 2000 and earned his Ph.D. in 2012. He is also a freelance journalist who has written for such publications as The Humanist, Free Inquiry, Southern Cultures, and Utne Reader. A collection of his stories written for various publications titled “Mixed Metaphors” is available through He teaches communication at Jacksonville University and the College of Coastal Georgia.


For the critiques, someone other than the author of respective works will read aloud the submissions (up to 20 double-spaced TYPED pages of prose, and reasonable amounts of poetry or lyrics). Authors may not defend their work, but they may attach questions they would like answered (e.g., “Is the scene on the beach convincing?”). Authors should listen to the words and rhythms of their creations.


Future meeting dates and locales:


Mar.  8 –  noon, Riverside VyStar – Speaker: Walter Schenk, “Getting a Cosmos of Creativity on Paper”

Apr. 12 –  noon, Riverside VyStar – Speaker: TBA

May 10 –  noon, Riverside VyStar – Speaker: TBA

June 14 –  noon, Riverside VyStar – Speaker: TBA


Amelia Island Book Festival headlines

David Baldacci and dozens of

writers, poets, editors Feb. 20-22


The Amelia Island Book Festival will welcome best-selling novelist David Baldacci as its headliner for the annual celebration of writing and books. The Festival will last from Feb. 20 to Feb. 22. AIBF has almost become the “last man standing” as other writers’ conferences and book festivals have disappeared in Northeast Florida. Aspiring writers and conscientious readers will want to take advantage of the opportunity to celebrate books in the scenic environment of Fernandina Beach.


Readers and Hollywood love the stories of Baldacci, whose latest work is “King and Maxwell.”


Dozens of novelists, nonfiction authors, poets, children’s authors, and editors will attend the festival. For information about them, go to Friday will feature a day of workshops at the Betty Cook Center in Yulee. After Feb. 1, the fee will be $85 and will include a box lunch.


Amazon Breakthrough

Novel Award seeks entries

from Feb. 16 to Mar. 2


The annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) contest, which seeks great new voices in popular fiction, will accept submissions from Sunday, Feb. 16, to Sunday, Mar. 2 (or earlier if 10,000 entries have been received).

Amazon Publishing announces that one Grand Prize winner will receive a publishing contract with an advance of $50,000. In addition, four First Prize winners will each receive a publishing contract from Amazon Publishing with an advance of $15,000.

The ABNA contest is open to unpublished and self-published novels. Authors can submit their work in one of the following categories: general fiction; mystery/thriller; romance; science fiction/fantasy/horror; and young adult fiction. For complete eligibility details, review the
Official Contest Rules. Visit the prizes page for the full list of prizes and details.

CreateSpace will host the submission platform for the contest. Visit
CreateSpace to learn more about ABNA and create a free account (if you haven't already) for entry in the contest. You can also find key contest dates and connect in the ABNA community with other authors.

For further info, click here.


Workshop is filled

but open to visitors

Feb. 4 till Mar. 11

The writing workshop on a shanty boat docked on the Trout River has maxed out on its new series of classes on Feb. 4, according to freelance writer and editor of Closet Books, Lynn Skapyak Harlin, leader of the workshop. She says if any writers want to visit any Tuesday from Feb. 4-Mar. 11, they should email her at


Arliss Ryan to give tips

on turning research

into ‘astounding’ fiction


Arliss Ryan, author and professional storyteller, will speak to the Clay Writers Assn. on Feb. 19 on “How to Turn Factual Research into Astounding Fiction No Reader Can Resist.” The meeting will be from 6:15 to 8 p.m. on that Wednesday in the meeting room of the Orange Park Public Library (2054 Plainfield Ave. off Kingsley Ave. just behind the Dairy Queen).


Attendees will learn more about the craft of writing from a masterful storyteller, including techniques to apply in their own work. “You’ll do a ton of research for your novel. Here’s how to transform all those facts into riveting fiction that keeps readers turning the pages late into the night,” says Arliss.


In her talk, Arliss pairs examples of research findings with short readings to illustrate a variety of creative techniques for integrating historical facts and background information into your story. Attendees should discover how to Incorporate historical information and other types of research without bogging down the story; spread research findings throughout the story to create tension and advance the plot; and turn hard facts into vivid emotions that bring characters to life. 


Arliss Ryan is the author of four novels: “Sanctuary,” “The Secret Confessions of Anne Shakespeare,” “How (Not) to Have a Perfect Wedding,” and “The Kingsley House.” She has also written short stories, magazine articles, and essays. Originally from Detroit, she holds a B.A. in English from University of Michigan. She and her husband live in St. Augustine, where she writes fiction and works as a professional storyteller. Her website:  


Note: At the meeting, attendees may purchase available books by Ms. Ryan for $15 each, with 15% of the proceeds going to benefit the Orange Park Public Library, though Friends of the OP Library.


BookMark to host Tim Dorsey,

HarperCollins editors,

Annette Simon, Jan-Phillipe Sendker


Owner Rona Brinlee says The BookMark (220 1st St., Neptune Beach) will host novelists with tales set in Florida and Asia. The independent bookstore will also present Book Club Night with HarperCollins editors.


Tim Dorsey, “Tiger Shrimp Tango” (William Morrow & Co) Friday, Feb. 7, 7 p.m. -- Tim Dorsey’s anti-hero, the Sunshine State's favorite serial killer and encyclopedia of Florida lore Serge Storms, is determined to save a damsel in distress and dances a tango of death and mayhem in this funny and dementedly entertaining crime caper.  Thanks to the Internet, America has become a playground for ruthless scam artists out to make an easy buck. And where do these models of entrepreneurship hail from? Why, the Sunshine State of course!  No one loves Florida more, or can keep it safe from invasive criminal species better than self-appointed Sunshine Sheriff Serge Storms. Rona says, when a particular scam leads to the death of a few innocents and a young woman's disappearance, Serge and his perpetually self-bent sidekick Coleman--aided by his new pal, latter-day noir private eye Mahoney--load up the car for a road trip to do right.    


Book Club Night with HarperCollins, Monday, Feb. 24, 6:30 p.m. -- HarperCollins sales representative Eric Svenson will present some of his favorite choices for book clubs.  This is a wonderful chance to find out about books that would inspire great discussions and books to add to your reading list.  The evening includes light refreshments, good conversation, and prizes.


Annette Simon, “Robot Burp Head Smartypants!” (Candlewick), Sunday,  March 2, 2 p.m.  -- The mechanical friends from Robot Zombie Frankenstein! are back with a new game - and the thirst to win it. Burp to ten? Easy! Burp by tens while blindfolded, juggling, and skateboarding? Simple! Now add the alphabet? REBOOT! Kirkus calls it an "effervescent return." This is a particularly special event for us since Annette is part of The BookMark family.


Jan-Phillipe Sendker, “A Well-Tempered Heart” (Other Press), Wednesday, March 19, 7 p.m. -- Sendker's follow-up to The Art of Hearing Heartbeats picks up the story a decade after Julia Win traveled to Burma, seeking her missing father. Now a high-powered attorney mourning the end of her engagement, Julia has started hearing the voice of a bereft, heartbroken woman in her head. This voice propels Julia back to Burma, where she is reunited with her half-brother, U Ba, who believes the voice belongs to Nu Nu, a woman who recently dropped dead while out for a walk with her sister. U Ba and Julia seek out Nu Nu's sister, who tells them the sad tale of Nu Nu's life.   


For more information, call Ms. Brinlee or staff at 904.241.9026, or email any questions to Website:


It’s so cold you may as well

stay inside and

read a FWA blog



Boy, do I miss Johnny Carson and his litany of cold weather jokes. You remember the ones that began, "It's so cold that …" You can fill in the rest with your favorites. One of mine was "It's so cold lawyers have their hands in their own pockets." 


Anyway, while you're keeping warm, get an advance look at what's happening next month in this newly posted FWA blog that starts out with the question "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"


Aside from the monthly meetings, there's a slew of mini-conferences and daylong workshops coming up. So, read all about the happenings in the NE Florida FWA Blog post. And then you can tell me how cold it is.



from Hither

and Yon


Click on each link to go directly to the story.




Written Off:

Jennifer Weiner’s quest

for literary success


Rebecca Mead in The New Yorker profiles Jennifer Weiner, whose quest seems to be proving that plus-sized heroines can make chick-lit novels as enjoyable as the ones that feature young women who shop at Skeletons R Us.


How one magazine helped

shape investigative

journalism in America


The most illuminating aspect of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “The Bully Pulpit,” according to Atlantic editors, is the spotlight it shines on the muckraking journalism of the early 20th century, particularly as practiced by a monthly magazine called McClure’s. Such  writers as Ida Tarbell, Ray Baker, and Lincoln Steffens penned articles similar to the one on fighting crime in Minneapolis.


8 books I bailed on

during 2013


Laura Miller, the book reviewer for Salon, came across at least eight books in 2013 that she couldn’t, and wouldn’t, get through. These range from “Me Before You” by Jojo Moyes and “Gun Machine” by Warren Ellis to “The Accursed” by Joyce Carol Oates.



From the original

Hawkeye to Dirty Harry,

the loner hero has given an excerpt from “William Cooper's Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic” by Alan Taylor. In the 1820s, James Fenimore Cooper, author of such novels as “The Last of the Mohicans,” invented the archetypal American hero, "the socially marginal and rootless loner operating in a violent no-man's-land beyond the rule of law but guided by his own superior code of justice." In doing so, he became America's first successful novelist.


A writer is someone

who counts words


Mystery and adventure author Camille LaGuire writes The Daring Novelist blog. This entry investigates word and page counts, plus what is meant by “novels, novellas, and novelettes.”


Here comes



Women writers are far outnumbered by men in magazines and book reviews, but why? Part of the answer lies in book publishing, according to Miriam Markowitz. She discusses the work of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, which tracks the number of articles by males and females in selected publications closely related to book publishing.


Alexandre Dumas novels

penned by 'fourth

musketeer' ghost writer


Alexandre Dumas has a special place in France's literary hall of fame as the father of great swashbuckling historical epics, but he had an obscure co-author whose own works weren’t going anywhere until the partnership with Dumas, according to Henry Samuel.


The Dos and Don'ts

of Time Travel


Jim Behrle has some useful tips for SF writers who assemble time travel stories and novels. A big “do” is to go forward in time first, and a big “don’t” is not to be surprised that your time travel friends are flakes. For more, go to


8 Classic Detective Stories

That AREN'T Sherlock Holmes


What do you do when you’ve read the four Sherlock novels and all the stories in the canon? Well, you can read those that try to imitate Doyle, but Andrew DeYoung recommends you consider Edgar Allan Poe’s Dupin stories, Wilkie Collins’ “The Moonstone,” Rex Stout’s Sherlock-like Nero Wolfe and his Watson-like partner Archie Goodwin, and others. Another option is to track down Hugh Greene’s anthologies “Rivals of Sherlock Holmes” (Dr. Thorndyke, Eugene Valmont, et al.—also included in a BBC TV series in the 1970s).


The 5 Best Punctuation

Marks in Literature


Kathryn Schultz has written a light piece for you to read before trying again to get through “War and Peace,” as she focuses on the five best punctuation marks in literature. For a sampling, she says of parentheses in “Lolita”: “The sentence [quoted in the article] goes on — for 84 more words, eleven commas, one colon, one semicolon, and another set of parentheses. But the reader, like Humbert Humbert’s unlucky mother, stops dead. Nabokov is a daredevil writer, and often a florid one, but what he shows off here is unbestable economy. Like the lightning inside it, this parenthetical aside is swift, staggering, and brilliant. It is also Lolita (and Humbert) in miniature: terrific panache containing terrible darkness.”


Free books: 100 legal sites

to download literature


The Just English website lists a hundred legal sites where you can download the classics, textbooks, math and science, children’s books, philosophy and religion, plays, and practically any topic you will find in a Library of Congress or Dewey Decimal listing.


Writing was fun when she

wasn’t worrying about

everyone’s reactions


Jennifer Cohren writes a column in this newsletter editor’s hometown newspaper. In this one, she looks back to when writing was fun. . .and what change took some of the fun out of the job.




Stuff – Forensic Grammar





Follow the link below to find where often sane and sensible writers (and editors) have stumbled in their writing:


http://howarddenson. webs. com/theforensicgrammarian. htm


A paperback collection, “The Wrong Stuff: Findings of a Forensic Grammarian,” is available online at and Barnes & Nobel’s website. Go to


Stuff from

a Writer's Quill



Always be a poet, even in prose. -- Charles Baudelaire



Writers Born

This Month


To check out the names of writers who were born this month, go to this website:

 http://howarddenson. webs. com/birthdaysofwriters. htm


The list includes novelists, poets, playwrights, nonfiction authors, writers for the small and silver screen, and others.


Looking for your favorite writer? Hit “find” at the website and type in your favorite’s name. Keep scrolling to find writers born in other months.


With misgivings, the list generally omits lyricists (to avoid the plethora of garage-band guitarists who knock out a lyric in two minutes to go with a tune). Often lyricists are accomplished in other writing areas and may cause their inclusion (e.g., Bob Dylan, Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter).


Unfortunately, some writers fret about identity theft and will only say they were born in 1972 or whenever. Typically that means they don’t get included on a “born this day” list. Recommendation: Writers may wish to create a “pen birthday”; that way, their names stay on the public’s radar.


If you see that we have omitted a writer, give us his or her name (and preferably a way to verify the belly-button day).


Want to read an ebook

but don’t have

a Kindle or Nook ereader?


Most readers are still relying on old-fashioned books (which don’t need batteries), but they may still feel unsettled when an ebook arrives. They don’t have a Kindle, Nook, or a generic readers. What are they to do?

Rick Maloy has a recommendation: “For those who prefer electronic books, but don't have a stand-alone e-reader, you can turn your PC, Mac, tablet, phone, whatever, into an e-reader by downloading an app.” The Kindle app from Amazon is available by clicking the following link:


For the Barnes&Noble Nook, this link should do the trick:


Maloy says that other e-readers (like Sony) will have instructions on their websites on how to get the app onto your preferred machine. (Scroll down in this newsletter to see a book by Maloy that [hint, hint] you might be interested in.)


NFW suspends

dues indefinitely


The North Florida Writers has suspended its membership dues for an indefinite period. The treasury has stabilized at a comfortable level, and the NFW does not have any appreciable expenses. Members suspected we could go without dues for a couple of years and perhaps more. During this period, anyone may attend and participate in the monthly meetings. (Even with dues, writers were free to attend a few meetings to see if the NFW would suit their needs.)


of NFW and

other groups


For a listing of meetings of the NFW and other groups in Northeast Florida, click here






Writers, poets, and playwrights will find useful tools at

Need someone

to critique

a manuscript?


If you have a finished manuscript that you wished critiqued or proofread, then look for someone at








President: Howard Denson (hd3nson@hotmail. com)

Vice President: Joyce Davidson (davent2010@comcast. net)

Secretary: Kathy Marsh (kathygmarsh@bellsouth. net)

Treasurer: Richard Levine (; 5527 Edenfield Rd., Jacksonville, FL 32277


Presidents Emeritus: Frank Green, Dan Murphy, Howard Denson, Nate Tolar, Joyce Davidson, Margaret Gloag, Richard Levine, Bob Alexander, JoAnn Harter Murray, Carrol Wolverton, Margie Sauls, Stewart Neal.