7 Poet on road to submission, Berry on Lincoln Myth (Write Stuff 0514)





Writing News for the Sunshine State

& the Solar System


Editor: Howard Denson

May 2014

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In This Issue:


Poet Rojas to tell NFW about ‘The Road to Submission’; meeting at Riverside VyStar

Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone finds a conspiracy in ‘The Lincoln Myth’

FWA weather report: Rain go away – Vic DiGenti

Morris Connect is a free service for writers wanting to network and improve their skills

Fitzgerald to discuss ‘Journalism, Realism and Writing’ on May 21

Stuff from a Writer’s Quill — Henry Miller

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


Poet Rojas to tell NFW about “The Road to Submission”;

Meeting at Riverside VyStar


.The North Florida Writers will hear Andres Rojas Saturday, May 10, as he talks about “The Road to Submission: Cruel Optimism and the Utopian Bridge.” The meeting will be at the VyStar Credit Union (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.


 Rojas has an M.F.A. and a J.D. from the University of Florida and works for the U.S. Department of the Treasury. He is currently finishing his first book, “Blood Animal,” and is the poetry editor for Compose, an on-line literary journal. His poetry has most recently been published or is forthcoming in 2River View, Barrow Street, Cossack Review, Massachusetts Review, and New England Review.


Q. Tell us about “Blood Animal.”


 "Blood Animal" tackles humanity's relationship to existence, the universe, the world ... and ourselves. The poems began to show up as explorations of how we shape our reality through faith, hope, and imagination, but also through fear, cruelty, and indifference. Myth, art, and history play a large part of the context in which I try to understand an "animal" that is born, eats, produces waste along with great beauty, and dies.

Right now I am sending out two versions of the book, a short chapbook and a book-length manuscript. There is no guarantee that either will find a home anywhere. I've given myself five years before I consider self-publishing.

Q. Who have been your greatest influences as a poet?


 I have two sorts of influences, aesthetic and philosophical. Poets that encompass both to my satisfaction are rare: Dickinson, Yeats, Eliot, Stevens, Justice, Larkin, Hill, Rich, Glück, and a few others.

Then there are the poets who amaze me with their aesthetic prowess and are models for what my language aspires to be: Rae Armantrout, Kay Ryan, Randall Mann, Sandra Beasley, Angie Mlinko, Eduardo C. Corral, and quite a few others. Most of these poets are just beginning to do their best work and are pushing the aesthetics of poetry quite fearlessly.

As for philosophical influences, I am very much a sponge: anything that makes me think about the universe and my place in it is open to be ripped off. Lately I've been particularly drawn to Norse myth (the prose and poetic Eddas), cosmology (Paul Halpern's "Edge of the Universe" has been fantastic), and early Christianity (the historicity of Jesus, the Gnostic gospels, the Arian controversy). Old favorites includes Borges, Nietzsche, Stephen Hawking, and Melville.

Q. Since you have been writing poetry while employed as an attorney and as a legal expert for the Department of the Treasury, do you see any parallels between yourself and Wallace Stevens (an insurance executive) or T.S. Eliot (a publisher)?


I can't seriously include myself in a sentence with Stevens and Eliot. I think that if I could earn a living by teaching (not necessarily at an M.F.A. program) I would die of joy. I had to go outside of academia, which is absolutely my calling, because I couldn't get a job there.

I do find having an income independent of my poetry is rather liberating. I can afford a more or less decent lifestyle without having to worry about the "publish or die" reality of the field and the catastrophic lack of real jobs, compared to the oversupply of over-qualified candidates.

Q. How are you letting the world know about your poetry?


For better or worse, my poetry ecosystem is internet-based, mostly through Twitter and my blog, though also via Tumblr, email, and plain Google searches. I interact on a daily basis with poets I admire as well as editors and a few (a very few) readers of my poems, and that's a great experience.

That said, I would love to find a local group of compatible poets, even one or two, to share my work with and give and receive feedback. However, I am probably much too much of a loner when it comes to my poetry for that to happen easily.


Critiques after the speaker


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.


Parking: VyStar requests that NFW members and guests park on the side of the buildings to leave spaces for their regular customers.


Future meeting dates and locales:


May 10 –  noon, Riverside VyStar – Speaker: Andy Rojas

June 14 –  noon, Riverside VyStar – Speaker: Emily K. Michael

July 12 – noon, Riverside VyStar



Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone finds a conspiracy in ‘The Lincoln Myth’

Steve Berry of St. Augustine has been teasing his Facebook fans with images of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. His modern protagonist Cotton Malone goes to work in “The Lincoln Myth” to explore some intriguing issues.  His novel will go on sale May 20.



He cites a few concepts from the novel, saying, “I hope they get you thinking and encourage you to check out the book.  Keep in mind, they're all true.”

·         The American Revolution was a war of secession, not revolution.

·         Nowhere in the Constitution are the words “perpetual union” ever used.

·         The U.S. Supreme Court has commented on secession only once in its entire history.

·         Three states, Virginia, Rhode Island and New York, when ratifying the Constitution, reserved the right to leave the union later if they so desired, and no one objected.  

·         The Declaration of Independence is a pure statement of secession.

·         In July 1862, Lincoln became the first known American president to read the Book of Mormon.

·         Then, in January 1863, Lincoln made a secret pact with the Mormons which changed the course of the Civil War.

·         In 2012, 125,000 Texans signed a petition to peacefully withdraw from the Union.

·         James Madison built an underground ice pit at his home in Montpelier, which remains sealed to this day.

·         Madison refused to release his meticulous notes on the Constitutional Convention until 53 years after the convention, once after every participant, including himself, had died.  By his own admission, the notes contain so many changes and revisions that we have no idea what actually happened.


Fans may pre-order the book at his official website: http://steveberry.org/books/the-lincoln-myth/buy-book/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_campaign=7b286ae6fd-April+2014+email&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2e54e359a0-7b286ae6fd-112100273


The website also lets potential readers to see excerpts of the novel.



FWA weather report: Rain go away


Don’t let the rain spoil your week. I’ve just published the FWA Blog post for May to brighten your day. You won’t be disappointed in this month’s offerings at the area FWA meetings. Plus there’s news of conferences and other writers meetings in the area.


Check it out here, and make your plans to visit at least one of the meetings this month. 



Morris Connect is a free service for writers wanting to network and improve their skills

Morris Connect is introducing a free service for those who love to tell stories, as well as for those who want spread the word about and explain interesting topics. Carole Fader of The Florida Times-Union says, “We have the First Coast’s largest audience in print and online, and we want to bring them all the best news and information, in all its breadth and depth.”


   Morris Connect isn’t about letters to the editor. It is about reporting on news in your neighborhood, writing about a special person you know or sharing your expertise. Ms. Fader says, “You pitch a story idea, we’ll look at it and let you know what we think. We’ll put story ideas out there and, if you’re interested, you let us know.”


   What do you get out of it? Access to professional journalists who will coach you; the opportunity to be published in The Florida Times-Union, jacksonville.com, Eco Latino and ecolatino.com; and great writing and other journalism tips from our Morris Connect media network.

   What do we get out of it? Great content to share with our readers and web audience that we otherwise wouldn’t be able provide. And, becoming a proven contributor might eventually earn you compensation.


   To become a member, sign up at http://connect.morris.com.


  You will need to write a 75-word bio, post a photo and there’s a tutorial about how the system works.


   And if you are bilingual, that’s a plus. Email francisco.sefair@ecolatino.com if you can write or edit in Spanish as well as English.


   Any questions? Email Morris Connect at carole.fader@jacksonville.com.



Fitzgerald to discuss ‘Journalism, Realism and Writing’ on May 21

Michael Ray FitzGerald, Ph.D., author and adjunct professor at Flagler College, will speak to the Clay County Writers Wednesday, May 21, from 6:15 to 8 p.m. on “Journalism, Realism and Writing.” The talk will be in the meeting room of the Orange Park Public Library (2054 Plainfield Ave., off Kingsley Ave. just behind the Dairy Queen).


FitzGerald is well-known for his lively, engaging first-person articles and short stories.

From hot-dog vendors to musicians, FitzGerald knows how to capture someone’s story. Group leader Maureen Jung says, “He’s a gifted writer who wants to get to the heart of what makes people who they are and what they do. With a strong voice and a gut that knows the power of the press, FitzGerald does what journalists do—tells stories that move readers in all kinds of ways.” A writer frequently has to answer these questions:


·         How do you recognize what's "enough" for a story?

·         How do you handle dialog? I

·         How do you bring characters to life?


A media historian, journalist, and musician, FitzGerald spent over 30 years chronicling and participating in the Southeast music scene. An Orange Park High School graduate, FitzGerald’s first published article appeared in 1971, “Liberty and Justice in Clay County.” Since then, he’s written 150+ articles for the Jacksonville Business Journal and other publications including Southern Cultures, Utne Reader, and Film and History.


After earning degrees in journalism and mass communications from Jacksonville University, FitzGerald received a doctorate in film and media studies (University of Reading, UK). His research led to a ground-breaking book that explores our cultural images, “Native Americans on Network TV: Stereotypes, Myths, and the ‘Good Indian’” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013)

FitzGerald’s essay collection, “Mixed Metaphors,” covers topics from memoir and music history to profiles of business, politics, and the arts. Those who remember radio stations WAPE and WPDQ will enjoy his behind-the-scenes look the local music industry, “Boss Jocks: How corrupt radio helped make Jacksonville one of the great music cities.” If you subscribe to the Florida Times Union, you can read Charlie Patton’s interview from late last year: “Reinventing himself a way of life for Jacksonville's Michael Ray Fitzgerald.” http://members.jacksonville.com/users/charlie-patton

“Embedded in Clay,” is the working title for the FWA/CCW anthology project. Those interested in contributing to the Clay County anthology project should contact me with your questions. We’ll have time for a brief discussion about the anthology following the March 19 meeting. (See attachment for the details.)


Clay County Writers is a writing group sponsored by the Florida Writers Assn.



from Hither

and Yon

Click on each link

to go directly

to the story.



Meet the Reader: Story Exposition

– Let Me Explain (But Not Too Much)


Ray Morton finds that many scripts get rejected because they let background information (exposition) overwhelm the narrative. He uses “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Jaws” to show out exposition can be built into the film with simple touches here and there. http://www.scriptmag.com/features/meet-reader-story-exposition-let-explain-much  


And now for some

really bad ledes


In journalism, the first paragraph is called “the lede,” perhaps using that spelling instead of “lead” because newspapers and magazines once had “leads” to space out paragraphs (er, “grafs”). Kristen Hare invited fellow journalists about their examples of lousy “ledes.” One of them sent her this lede: "South Texas has been emunized." You see, ranchers had discovered the emu and. . . http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/248149/and-now-for-some-really-bad-ledes/


OK, now let’s read

some good ledes


Kristen Hare followed up with some good ledes. One journalist liked the lede of Honey Creek, Iowa.’s Lorena Hickok from 1923 about the funeral train of President Warren G. Harding: “Hurling itself into the dawn at 50 miles an hour, the President’s funeral train roared past Honey Creek at 4 a.m. today. / A blurred, agonizing glimpse into the dimly lighted observation car…,” etc.



Spotty history, maybe

but great literature


John J. Miller looks into Longfellow’s depiction of Paul Revere’s ride and finds historical inaccuracies similar to what Shakespeare did with Richard III and Henry V. Except for the impact of Longfellow’s poem, Revere might have ended up an obscure factoid in American history.  http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052748703493504576007612691946294?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052748703493504576007612691946294.html


Caleb E. Smith discusses “The Midnight Ride. . .of William Dawes,” a patriot whose ride actually accomplished more than Revere’s. He also includes Helen F. Moore’s parody of Longfellow’s poem. http://www.realclearhistory.com/historiat/2014/04/21/the_midnight_ride_of_william_dawes_169.html


How the CIA used

culture as a weapon

against the Soviets


The staff of the North Denver News explores how the Central Intelligence Agency did a counterattack on the Soviet Union by encouraging writers, artists, and musicians. It noted that, shortly after the 1917 Russian Revolution, many American and European intellectuals saw great promise in the new kid on the political block. CIA gave support to Boris Pasternak for his epic novel “Dr. Zhivagoand to Alexander Solzhenitsyn for his book “Archipelago GULAG.” The article did not mention writers who made no secret of their work for intelligence agencies: John Le Carre and Ian Fleming for the U.K. and William F. Buckley Jr. for the CIA. http://northdenvernews.com/cia-used-culture-weapon-soviets/


Business of Screenwriting:

Making a Good Script Great


Michele Wallerstein discusses five characteristics of a good script, including character arc, underlying theme, dialogue, pacing, and likeability of main characters. Our favorite line, in discussing dialogue, quotes Helen Hayes: “If it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage.” http://www.scriptmag.com/features/business-screenwriting-making-good-script-great


Online tools

for writers


Kelly Gardiner discusses useful online tools for writers, including browsers (she likes Google’s Chrome), Documents (she endorses DropBox), Notes (Evernote), websites and blogs (WordPress especially), and Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).



Words and phrases

that baffle in Canada


Daniel J. Rouse moved to Toronto from Shropshire, U.K. (in the West Midlands), and found himself confused by many expressions of the Great White North. SCTV’s Bob and Doug MacKenzie familiarized many of us with Canadian expressions, but “darts” and “hacking” confused him. http://my.telegraph.co.uk/expat/danieljrouse/10154419/words-and-phrases-that-baffle-in-canada/


AP: Spell out names

of states in stories


The Associated Press has sent seismic tremors throughout news rooms, according to Andrew Beaujon of Poynter. In the body of stories, AP style now dictates that abbreviation of states should be written out. (There are still circumstances, for heds, agate material, etc., when abbreviations are in order.) http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/249142/ap-tells-reporters-spell-out-names-of-states-in-stories/


Reactions to the new style range from hoo-hum to horse-patoot. http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/249355/journalists-react-to-aps-state-names-change/


This is why your

brain wants to swear

David Shariatmadari writes in The Guardian that a recent study shows that children are adept at absorbing swearwords. That's the power of linguistic taboos for you. He says that “swearwords seem to live, in the animal part of the brain that once gave rise to howls of pain and grunts of frustration and pleasure.” http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/22/brain-swearing-children-study-timothy-jay


Writing philosophy: Style is

the feather in the arrow,

not the feather in the cap


The late Peter Lipton discusses Awkwardness (“The best way to test for awkwardness is to read your draft aloud)”, Empathy (“To write effectively you must put yourself in the reader's shoes”), Choreography (“The reader should have a clear sense of development and progress as she reads”), and Originality (“You can be original by using your own words, your own explanations, and your own examples”). Lipton was one of the world’s leading philosophers of science and epistemology.



Writing home



Dale Short interviews an author of works who range from the whimsical, to the humorous, and perhaps even to the eccentric. The subject of the interview describes William Faulkner as a “Gloomy Gus.”




The Wrong Stuff: This Month’s

Findings of a




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 Amazon.com and Barnes & Nobel’s website. Go to http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D3PF180.



Stuff from

a Writer's Quill

One can be absolutely truthful and sincere even though admittedly the most outrageous liar. Fiction and invention are of the very fabric of life.


-- Henry Miller





Born This




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 reader. 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.


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






Writers, poets, and playwrights will find useful tools at http://howarddenson.webs.com/usefullinksforwriters.htm.



Need someone

to critique

a manuscript?


If you have a finished manuscript that you want critiqued or proofread, then look for someone at http://howarddenson.webs.com/potentialcritiquers.htm. Check out their entries on the website to see if they suit your needs. They include the following: Robert Blade Writing & Editing (rmblade@aol.com); Frank Green of The Bard Society (frankgrn@comcast.net); JJ Grindstaff-Swathwood (jgswathwood@gmail.com); Brad Hall (variablerush@gmail.com); Joseph Kaval (joseph.kaval@gmail.com); Richard Levine (Richie.ALevine@gmail.com); Rachel Stephenson (rachelstephenson@hotmail.com).






President: Howard Denson (hd3nson@hotmail. com)

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

Secretary: Kathy Marsh (kathygmarsh@bellsouth. net)

Treasurer: Richard Levine (richiea.levine@gmail.com);


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.