The Electronic Write Stuff
for the Sunshine State & the Solar
North Florida Writers * February 2006
In this issue:
Private Eye to Address North Florida Writers Feb. 11
Writers' Festival to Celebrate its 20th Anniversary at Radisson
on Riverwalk Mar.30 - Apr. 2
When Does Nonfiction Cross the Line into Lies, Prevarication, Fiction? --
Online Critiques for Active Members
Quote from a Writer's Quill -- W. Somerset Maugham
Writers Born in February
Calendar of Events
PRIVATE EYE TO ADDRESS NORTH FLORIDA WRITERS FEB. 11
Stephen K. Brown, a private
investigator, will speak to the North Florida Writers at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, at Crispers
(corner of Roosevelt Blvd. and St. Johns Ave., just a little south of Kent Campus).
He is the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Private Investigation (Alpha
Books). He began his investigative career as a special agent for the
Federal Bureau of Investigation and served for 11 years in Phoenix, Chicago, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
He has been operating his own private
eye agency for over 20 years. His agency handles pre-employment
background checks, complicated white-collar crime thefts, murders disguised as
suicides, and the return of parentally abducted children from foreign
Brown has published articles in Gambling Times and has been mentioned
professionally in several newspapers and magazines, including Business Week. He has appeared on
radio and TV stations in Northeast Florida and on such national shows as Hard
Copy and 60 Minutes (with
He has spoken to the Harriette Austin
Writers Conference at the University of Georgia and at the Amelia Book Island Festival.
WRITERS' FESTIVAL TO CELEBRATE ITS 20th ANNIVERSARY AT RADISSON ON
RIVERWALK MAR. 30 - APR. 2
The Florida First Coast Writers'
Festival will celebrate its 20th anniversary from Mar. 30 to Apr. 2, with its
annual workshops being held Friday and Saturday at the Radisson on the Riverwalk.
For registration information, click
on http://opencampus.fccj.edu/wf .
Sixteen speakers have been confirmed
Bill Belleville, an award-winning
writer and documentary filmmaker from Sanford, has written over a thousand magazine articles and essays and
four books. He has scripted seven films. His latest book is Losing It All to Sprawl: How Progress Ate My
Steve Berry's fourth novel, The Templar Legacy, is seeking to join the
three previous ones on best-seller lists. Berry lives in St. Marys, Ga., where he serves on the Camden
County Board of Commissioners.
Jackie Estrada is editor and
co-publisher of the Supernatural Law series
of graphic novels from Exhibit A Press. She has also edited Comics: Between the Panels, a coffeetable
book by Mike Richardson and Steve Duin. She also manages the Will Eisner
Comic Industry Awards (the "Oscars" of the industry).
Lenore Hart has recently published Ordinary Springs, a coming of age novel
set in the 1960s. Her first book was Waterwoman,
a Barnes & Noble Discover novel, as well as being a selection for Literary
Guild and BookSpan. She also writes children's books.
Joan Hecht's first novel, The Journey of the Lost Boys, received
first place in the education category at the 2005 Promoting Outstanding Authors
(POW) Awards. She has established a non-profit foundation that assists
the Lost Boys of Sudan with their medical and educational needs.
Terry Kay spent 14 years writing for
the Decatur-DeKalb News and the Atlanta Journal before going into public
relations. During those years, he completed three novels. His
latest novel is The Valley of Light.
Photographer John Moran focuses on
natural Florida and tries to capture what Ponce de
Leon and early travelers might have seen in this New World paradise. His Journal of Light: The Visual Diary of a Florida
Nature Photographer was published by the University Press of
Gary Mormino, a full professor at the
University of South Florida, has been involved in several
historical projects, including Immigrants on
the Hill: Italian-Americans in St. Louis, 1882-1985. He co-edited Spanish Pathways in Florida, 1492-1992 (Pineapple P).
Andra Olenik is editor of fiction and
nonfiction in the New York office of Algonquin Books. She has worked with such authors
as Cynthia Thayer (A Brief Lunacy),
Nina Solomon (Single Wife), and
Andrea Barnet (All-Night Party: The
Women of Bohemian Greenwich Village and Harlem).
Anne Petty is the author of three
books of literary criticism, including Dragons
of Fantasy, Tolkien in the Land
of Heroes (a finalist in the Mythopoeic Society Inklings Award
for Tolkien Studies), One Ring to Bind Them
All: Tolkien's Mythology. She has also written two
novels and is working on a series of dark fantasy novels for Simon &
Novelist David Poyer, a one-time Jacksonville resident, created the novel contest
for the Writers' Festival. His most recent book is The Command, about the coming of women to
the surface navel. He has 25 books to his credit. He is now retired
from the Navy Reserve and lives in Franktown, Va.
Rick Reichman is a former winner of America's Best Screenwriting
Competition. He has taught screenwriting classes to students at Georgetown University, American University, Tennessee State University, and the University of Virginia. His first book is Formatting Your Screenplay.
Poet Reginald Shepherd, a native of New York City, recently published his fourth book
of poems, Otherhood (U of Pittsburgh P). His other books include Some Are Drowning, Angel, Interrupted, and Wrong.
Ginny Stibolt is a computer/webpage
guru who founded Sky-Bolt Enterprises in 2001.
Cynthia Thayer wrote her first short
story ten years ago and became hooked on writing when it was published in the Antigonish Review. Her first novel
was Strong for Potatoes, followed
by A Certain Slant of Light and
A Brief Lunacy.
Poet Sophie Wadsworth of Boston won the Jessie Bryce Niles Award
with her book, Letters from Siberia.
Her poems have appeared in Sycamore Review,
Meridian, Crab Orchard Review,
Southwester, and Sanctuary.
WHEN DOES NONFICTION CROSS THE LINE INTO LIES, PREVARICATION, FICTION?
By HOWARD DENSON
We can still smell the big stink
caused by James Frey conning Ballantine and Oprah Winfrey with his memoir about
his rise from degradation to redemption in A
Million Little Pieces. Unfortunately his memoir turned out to
be a compilation of stretchers.
Some critics were lambasting Oprah
for being so gullible; however, most of the disapproval should go to Ballantine
for being so inattentive. . .oh, and to Frey for his duplicity.
Even worse examples of literary
larceny have occurred. Clifford Irving, for example, created an
"authorized" biography of Howard Hughes and received an advance of
$765,000 from McGraw-Hill, only to have his bio in the sky nosedive into the
earth when Hughes held a phone conference to denounce the book. Irving,
his wife, and a collaborator were convicted, and the feds locked up Irving for 14 months because of the hoax.
Germany's Stern magazine
and one of our U.S.
weekly news mags were conned to various degrees by a diary of Hitler that had
been "discovered" by Gerd Heidemann. Two respected historians,
Hugh Trevor-Roper (connected with London's Sunday Times) and
Gerhard Weinberg, gave hasty authentications to the manuscript, but, when other
historians closely scrutinized the diary, they pronounced it a truly inept
piece of forgery.
We will always have crooks trying to
take to the cleaners Stern, the
London papers, or Random House, but an interesting angle in the Frey squabble
occurred when several critics said, "If you change one detail, you no
longer have nonfiction."
I don't think that will hold up if
you look at various memoirs or histories.
Edmund Morris had won a Pulitzer
Prize for his fine biography of Theodore Roosevelt and later received a $3
million advance and unlimited access to Ronald Reagan. Fourteen years later, he
came up with Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald
Reagan (Random House).
Critics generally howled when they
discovered that Morris had included himself in the biography as a contemporary
of Reagan (who was much older). The older Morris persona encountered
Reagan at various stages of his life, while the younger persona was supposed to
be an aspiring screenwriter in early Hollywood.
York Times' critic said the technique could be dangerous but
"succeeds in this case," while another Times' critic complained that the book was "bizarre,
irresponsible and monstrously self-absorbed."
So was it biography or fiction?
We are all familiar with the books
(and TV series based on them) by James Herriot in All Creatures Great and Small. It is presented as
nonfiction and "true," but notice these problems:
First, British medical professionals
can't use their real names if it is likely to stray into the territory of
advertising, so the Yorkshire vet James Alfred Wight selected the name of a
Scottish goalie Jim Herriot for his penname. He renamed his brothers
Donald and Brian and called them Siegfried and Tristan Farnon respectively.
Second, he was undoubtedly changing
the names of most, if not all, of the characters in his practice and
village. That could be viewed as a step away from truth, but his books
criticized several individuals' treatment of their animals, so it also let him
avoid a suit for libel or another suit for invading his clients' privacy.
Third, if you are trying to render a
30- or 40-year career into a coherent narrative, you have to condense and
combine. For example, Farmers Jones, Smith, Brown, Green, and others may
have had mildly interesting problems, each not worth elaborating on; however,
if you combine them into the life of one character, say, a Farmer Hobbes, you may
have an interesting narrative cycle.
Herriot generally explained his
techniques in his introductions, so he intended no deception.
Florida papers have been generally defending
Stetson Kennedy for his accounts of his infiltration of the Ku Klux Klan back
in the 1940s. Kennedy was combining some of his actions with those of a
friend to produce a more interesting narrative just to attract the attention of
the skittish American publishers back then.
In the Yorkshire Dales vet
environment, it would be like Herriot taking an incident that happened to
Donald and saying that it happened to Jim Herriot, just to improve the
narrative. Conversely, on the TV series, if Christopher Timothy (James) was
under the weather one week, the script could be rewritten to assign his actions
to Robert Hardy (Siegfried) or Peter Davison (Tristan).
Other changes are necessary to enable
the reader to be able to follow a story. Let's say your family has five
or six Jims, Jimmys, and Jameses, plus Big Jim and Little Jim and Big Jimmy and
Little Jimmy. You may need to use the middle names of some cousins to
help the reader keep on track.
Another insight (courtesy of V.S. Naipaul)
is that people often lie when they write their (self-serving?) autobiographies,
but the truth emerges (about their mindset) if they are attempting
novels. Sometimes an autobiographer might suffer from the same affliction
as did Sinclair Lewis or Sherwood Anderson: Whenever he tried to write
about his life, he'd automatically stray into the realm of storytelling and
fiction to make it more interesting or perhaps to avoid producing a drunkolog.
Oddly too, we have various
"facts" that aren't true at all. George Washington didn't cut
down the cherry tree or throw a coin across the Potomac, but Parson Mason Locke Weems wrote
that he did and most of us have those images in our minds. The Battle of
Bunker Hill was fought on nearby Breed's Hill, but the truth has yet to catch up with the actual fact.
So, what's a reader to do? Seek
out the writer who is attempting to capture truth, especially the poetically
true, because that's apt to prevail.
ONLINE CRITIQUES FOR ACTIVE MEMBERS
If you are an active member of the
North Florida Writers, you may wish to join our online critique group.
Active members can send their stories, poems, or chapters to email@example.com, and the piece will
be fixed up for previewing: Copyright will
be placed at the beginning and end of the piece to protect your work. Some
suggestion questions will be included.
If you are not an active member, but
wish to participate, see the information later about joining.
QUOTE FROM A WRITER'S QUILL
I have never
met an author who admitted that people did not buy his book because it was
-- W. Somerset Maugham
WRITERS BORN IN FEBRUARY
1--James A. Herne (1840), Langston
Hughes (1902), S. J. Perelman (1904), Muriel Spark (1918), Galway Kinnell
(1927), Reynolds Price (1933); 2--James Joyce (1882), Ayn Rand (1905), and
James Dickey (1923); 3--Abel Hermant (1862), Gertrude Stein (1874), Richard
Yates (1926), Paul Auster (1947); 4--William Harrison Ainsworth (1805), E. J.
Pratt (1883), Ugo Betti (1892), and Robert Coover (1932);
5--Margaret Millar (1915); 7--Charles
Dickens (1812) and Sinclair Lewis (1885); 8--Samuel Butler (1612), Charles Jean
François Hénault (1685), Jules Verne (1828), Kate Chopin (1851), Henry Roth
(1906), Elizabeth Bishop (1911), Neal Cassady (1926); 9--George Ade (1866),
Brendan Behan (1923) and Alice Walker (1944);
10--Charles Lamb (1775), Boris
Pasternak (1890), Bertolt Brecht (1898); 11--Marie Joseph Chénier (1764), Lydia
Maria Child (1802), Roy Fuller (1912), and Sidney Sheldon (1917); 12--Abraham
Lincoln (1809), Alan Dugan (1923), and Judy Blume (1938); 13--Julius H. M.
Busch (1821) and Georges Simenon (1903); 14--Richard Owen Cambridge (1717);
15--Johann Jakob Wilhelm Heinse
(1746), Jens Immanuel Baggesen (1764), Joseph Hergesheimer (1880), and Matt
Groening (1954); 16--Henry B. Adams (1838) and Richard Ford (1944); 17--Gustavo
Adolfo Bécquer (1836), Margaret Truman (1924), and Ruth Rendell (1930);
18--Wallace Stegner (1909), A. R. Ammons (1926), Len Deighton (1929), Toni
Morrison (1931), Andre Lorde (1934), Jean Auel (1936), and Lenore (Elisabeth
Graves) Hart (1953); 19--Kay Boyle (1902), Carson McCullers (1917), and Amy Tan
20--William Carleton (1794), Pieter Cornelis
Boutens (1870), and Georges Bernanos (1888); 21--Anaïs Nin (1903), Raymond Queneau
(1903), W. H. Auden (1907), Erma Bombeck (1927), and Kevin Robinson (1951);
22--George Washington (1732), Sarah Adams (1805), Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892),
Jane Bowles (1917), and Edward Gorey (1925); 23--Samuel Pepys (1633), W.E.B. Du
Bois (1868), David Wright (1920), and Don L. Lee (1942); 24--Charles de Bernard
(1804), Arrigo Boito (1842), Teófilo Braga (1843), and Daryl Hine (1936);
25--Frank G. Slaughter (1908) and
Anthony Burgess (1917); 26--Victor Hugo (1802); 27--Johan van Heemskerk (1597),
John Steinbeck (1902), Lawrence Durrell (1912), Irwin Shaw (1913), and Kenneth
Koch (1925); 28--Stephen Spender (1909)
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Meetings of NFW are held at 2 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month.
You may receive feedback from specific individuals by mailing the manuscript
and return postage to the above address.
Feb. 11 --
Steven K. Brown, private eye, at Crispers
Mar. 11 --
Critiques (Barnes & Noble, Mandarin)
Past speakers have included novelists Jack Hunter, David Poyer, Page Edwards,
Ruth Coe Chambers, William Kerr, Tom Lashley; poets, William Slaughter, Mary
Baron, Mary Sue Koeppel,
Fletcher, George Gilpatrick; columnists Vic Smith, Tom Ivines, and Robert
Blade; editors Buford Brinlee and Nan Ramey; agent Debbie Fine; magazine editor
Sara Summers; medical writers
and Michael Pranzatelli; oral historian Robert Gentry; plus many others.
"WE ASPIRE TO
The Write Staff
Vice President (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Treasurer and newsletter editor (email@example.com)
Public Relations (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Frank Green, Dan Murphy, Howard
Denson, Nate Tolar, Joyce Davidson, Margaret Gloag (email@example.com), Richard Levine, Bob Alexander, Jo
Ann Harter, Carrol Wolverton
The Write Stuff
FCCJ Kent, Box 137
Jacksonville, FL 32205
Submissions to the newsletter should generally be about writing or
publishing. We pay in copies to the contributors, with modest
compensation for postage and copying.
We pay $5-10 for submissions accepted.
MEMBERSHIP IN THE NFW
If you are
writing a story or poem, you will need some expert feedback -- the sort that
you will receive at a meeting of the North Florida Writers.
profit from automatic praise that a close friend or relative might give or
jealous criticism from others who may feel threatened by your writing.
specializes in CONSTRUCTIVE feedback that will enable your manuscript to stand
on its own two feet and demand that it be accepted by an editor or agent.
Hence, you need the
Florida Writers is a writer's best friend because we help members to rid
manuscripts of defects and to identify when a work is exciting and captivating.
is $15 for students, $25 for individuals, and $40 for a family. (Make out
checks to WRITERS.)
membership current? To find out, check the mailing label. If it says
"0106" next to your last name, your membership expired in January
2006. You do not have to pay back dues to
activate your members, so, if you
last paid in 1998 or 2002, don't worry about the months you were inactive.
following is an application. Mail your check to WRITERS, Box 109, FCCJ Kent, 3939 Roosevelt Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32205.
________________State _____ Zip __________
HOW DOES CRITIQUING WORK?
When you attend a meeting of the North Florida Writers, you eventually discover
that NO ONE has ever died while his or her manuscript was being read and
critiqued. You may be ready to
face the ordeal
yourself. . .or, reading this, you may wonder what exactly takes place during a
First, you pitch your manuscript into a stack with others' works-in-progress.
Then one of the NFW members hands out each piece to volunteer readers, taking
care NOT to give you back your
Second, as the reading begins, each author is instructed NOT to identify
himself or herself and especially NOT to explain or defend the work. The
writer may never have heard the piece read aloud by another's voice, so the
writer needs to focus on the sound of his or her sentences.
Third, at the finish of each selection, the NFW members try to offer
constructive advice about how to make the story better.
If a section
was confusing or boring, that information may be helpful to the author.
The NFW will listen to 10 pages (double-spaced) of prose (usually a short story
or a chapter).
If you think a friend would enjoy THE
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