The Electronic Write Stuff

 Writing News for the Sunshine State & the Solar System

North Florida Writers * July 2007 * Editors:  Howard Denson and Janet Vincent

In this issue:

High Pitched Hum Publishing Adds Book Contest

Queen Victoria's Scrapbook -- Howard Denson

July Meeting of NFW for Critiques

Calendar of Events - Janet Vincent

Quote from a Writer's Quill - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Writers Born This Month: George Sand, Alice Munro, Ernest Hemingway, Hart Crane, Emily Bronte, and many others


Publisher G. W. Reynolds III of High Pitched Hum Publishing has added a book contest (novels in any genre, memoirs, etc.) in conjection with the POW! writers group. The deadline for submission is Oct. 1, 2007.

One winning manuscript will be chosen and announced at the 2008 POW! Awards Banquet on Nov. 10 at the Ramada Inn on Hartley Road, Jacksonville, FL. Entries are now being accepted.

Judges for this contest will be the professors/teachers from FCCJ North Campus Jacksonville.

Open to all genres. Ages 10 - 110+ can apply.

All manuscripts must be typed, double spaced, 50 page maximum. Submit two copies of each entry. Make sure your name, address, phone, E-mail is attached. If under age 18 a parental permission

ship must be accompanied with the work. A fee of $50 per manuscript must accompany the manuscript. No electronic submissions. The fee may be paid online. Manuscripts will not be returned.

Entrants must live within 50 miles of the Jacksonville area - this is so High Pitched Hum Publishing can better serve you and help you once your book is published. The winner will receive a contract with High Pitched Hum regarding number of books published, must agree to at least two booksignings a month, being available for promotions, etc. Book page limit around 250 pages.

Reynolds will discuss this and other concerns with the winner.

Prize will also include a one year FREE GOLD membership with POW! (Promoting Outstanding Writers) - Valued at $300, to help you promote your new book.

Manuscript should be near completion when it is entered in this contest, but only 50 pages maximum submitted for the contest with publication in 2008. High Pitched Hum will not be responsible for formating or editing of the finished piece. This can be done for you though through High Pitched Hum Publishing at an additional fee. The winner will also receive the other benefits of being a High Pitched Hum Publishing author as far as website publicity with them and more. 

For more information see our website at or call (904)-268-6229, or see High Pitched Hum Publishing and go to POW's PARTNERS page and click on the banner.



I am thumbing through Queen Victoria's scrapbook from the 1880s and, of course, thinking about the transitory nature of life.

I should make two clarifications:

First, it's not the actual scrapbook since my brother David had wonderful copies made at UPS for members of our allied families. The original pages are brittle, and they make you nervous to turn the pages as little pieces drop off like lonely snowflakes.

Second, it's not a scrapbook from the British queen, but from THE Queen Victoria in my family's life: Queen Victoria Lollar.

To think of her is to contemplate our mortality. Queenie (as her family called her) began her scrapbook when she was about 14 and it goes until she was about 18.

On the first page is a six-inch long lock of hair, and I don't know if she cut her own lock metaphorically to meld her DNA with the old pages or if a family member took the lock when she died of throat cancer at the age of 28.

The family oral tradition is precise about her painful last days in a particular room in a house on Sixth Avenue in my hometown. Because of the terrible pain, she could only manage to swallow some beer, and right near her death she called around her her four children, daughters Lucille and Clare and sons John B. and Ezra, telling each one how much she loved them and, no doubt, praying they would have good lives.

A natural segway from those thoughts is to count the number of people who owed their existence to this young girl/woman. These include her granddaughters in Clare's line, the very remarkable Sarah, now 93 and transitioning (as a Quaker friend says); stalwart Marjorie, now 91, and the baby Jane, now her 80's.

When individual family members care enough to assemble crapbooks, collection of poetry, portfolios of drawings, and packets of letters, they are affirming the importance of the creative spirit and the strength of the word or image. They are saying, "I thought this," or "This thought appealed to me."

As I write this, I am listening to Sarah Westbrook's personally made CD of her playing on the piano Chopin's "Polonaise, Op. 26, no. 1." She is striking notes to be heard as long as the CDs exist, just as Faulkner said a writer writes to speak to those 70 years in the future. (Why only 70? Homer is speaking after nearly 3,000 years.)

Family letters can tell a lot about an era and the people in it. In the Middle Ages for about 200 years, the Paston family exchanged letters that survived and that instruct us about the attitudes of that age and family.

A poet and a past speaker at the North Florida Writers was asked about when he became interested in poetry. He said his father wrote poetry throughout his life. After his father died, his mother was the sort to get rid of clutter. It made me sick to hear that she threw out his notebooks and poems.

Sometimes life eradicates things for us. For example, my grandparents dated two years before they first kissed, and during their several years of dating, they exchanged letter after letter with each other. (Not everyone was so proper back then, of course). After they married, they rode the train on a dog-leg line to a nearby community, and, while they were gone, their little frame house went up in smoke.

Afterwards, they had saved batches of letters, mainly from the late 1930s and 1940s through the early 60s. These eventually were put in a storage outbuilding. I had thoughts of the Paston family in mind when I replaced a leaky roof one summer and then began sorting the letters. Alas, the rain had gotten into the boxes and foot lockers, and I had the gloomy task of sorting the letters into three stacks: readable, partly readable, and mushy pulp.

Although collections of letters (and genealogical information) can be given to library collections, some families are so prim and proper that they wouldn't dare let others know the dark secrets of their lives. Some families no doubt let their letters go the way of mushy pulp, but other prudish families restrict access of their letters in library collections until 20 or 30 years in the future.

While attending a writers' confab at Samford University many years ago, I killed time by visiting the library and thumbing through the family history section. I noticed that the Prathers had two interesting listings, one for a "Felix Prather" and another for "Greasy Felix Prather," possibly the same person. I know only two things about that individual: he might have been happy (since felix means that in Latin), and, oh yes, he was greasy.

In looking at Queen Victoria's scrapbook, you see that she took a book entitled "Memorial Addresses: Life and Character of Fernando Wood, February 28th, 1881) and began pasting in items that she had collected over the years.

She obviously loved poetry and clipped out from newspapers the poems that had appealed to her. You won't find any poems by the giants of the 19th Century: Poe, Whittier, Whitman, and others. Emily Dickinson died unrecognized while Queen Victoria was working on her scrapbook (her first collection wasn't published till 1890, with critics in general noticing her excellence by the 1920s).

Queen Victoria first pasted in a long poem, "Things That Never Die," by a New England lady, Mrs. E. O. Jewell.

Newspapers back then frequently reprinted poems and articles from other papers. Weeklies, in particular, had no news services. Occasionally, Queen Victoria saved "fillers" as in this sampling (you rarely see "fillers" nowadays since they were designed to fill up one, two, or three lines in a column):

		"Touch that water-melon lightly, darling, touch it lightly."

		"The [Mountain] Eagle say's [sic] that Jasper has more than its prorata of girls. We will ship a car load of boys in a few days, and hope the Eagle will hand them around."

		"When a girl can read her title else / To matrimony's share, / She craves no fruit of any kind / But one delicious 'pair.'"

The scrapbook also contained a signature book about the size of a playing card, from around Nov. 1883 (when she was 14). The pages are filled with beautiful Spenserian handwriting, to remind us that penmanship mattered once upon a time. 

One page says, "Little friend, a long life with a happy end, is the sincere wish of your friend, N.B. Haney." 

Another says, "Miss Queen -- 'Bright be the years before thy friend of my childhood day of peace weave her live o'er thee, and joy attend thy ways.' Your real friend, Arba L. Lamillin Jasper March 14 1884."

Her "affectionate" sister, Fannie Lollar, wrote what was a popular refrain, "My Dear Sister, May your life be long and happy. . . ."

Her book contained helpful advice that we may only need to know during hurricanes when our lights are out. "To Prevent Fire" gave 21 tips with "sound advice" about old-timey kerosene lamps, matches, etc. A sampling:

		1. Always buy the best of oil. . . .

		6. Never blow a lamp out from the top.

		7. Never take a lamp to a closet where there are clothes.

Queen Victoria liked a cartoon of a prim young woman and a disappointed suitor with bowler hat and a moustache:

		"He (After proposing and being rejected). -- 'I suppose in the end you will be marrying some idiot of a fellow--'

		"She (Interrupting). -- 'Excuse me; but if I meant to do that I should have accepted your offer.'

		"Oppressive silence."

Not surprisingly, when we have scrapbooks, letters, poems, stories, music, and paintings, we aren't left with a silence, oppressive or otherwise, but of a symbol of individuals' creativity.


The July 14 meeting of the North Florida Writers will focus on critiques. The meeting will be held at 2 p.m. at the Webb Wesconnett Library (corner of 103rd Street and Harlow Boulevard).

Diane Barton, a mystery writer, is scheduled to speak to the group on Sept. 8.


Every Tueday: Bard Society, Frank Green 398-5352;

1st Saturday: Sisters In Crime, 10:30 am, SE Library NOTE: NO JULY MEETING

2nd Tuesday, July 10:  POW Poetry Crits, 6:30 p.m., Barnes & Noble, 1114 San Jose;

2nd Tuesday, July 10: FWA Central Jax, 6 p.m., SE Library, speaker;

2nd Saturday, July 14: North Florida Writers, 2 p.m., Wesconnett Library;   

2nd Saturday: 1st Coast Romance Writers, NO JULY MEETING

3rd Saturday: POW Mandarin Group, NO JULY MEETING

3rd Saturday, July 21:  21 POWer Lunch, 11 a.m., Gypsy Cab Co, St Augustine, 828 Anastasia Blvd, 3 speakers
3rd Saturday: Society of Childrens Book Writers & Illustrators, 1 p.m., SE Library, NO JULY MEETING

4th Tuesday, July 24: POW Poetry Crits, 6:30 p.m., Borders Books, Southside Blvd;

4th Thursday, July 26: FWA Central Jax, 4 p.m., SE Library, crits;

July 25 - 29: Writers Workshop, Gainesville,

July 26 - 29 Marjorie K Rawlings Writers Workshop, Cedar Key;

4th Saturday, July 28: FWA Ponte Vedra, 11 a.m.; Ponte Vedra Library; Lighthouse Book Awards;
         Vic DiGenti: www.fwapontevedra,

1st Monday, Aug. 6 Orange Park Writers, 7 p.m., Orange Park Library;

Other Conferences, Meetings, and Contests of Interest to Writers:

2nd Satrday, Aug. 11 1st Coast Romance Writers, 11 a.m.; Jax West Reg Library, Vic DiGenti speaker

3rd Friday, Aug. 17: POW Open Mic, Borders Books, Southside Blvd, 7:00pm,

Oct. 4 - 7:  Amelia Island Book Festival; speakers Claire Cook, Tim Dorsey;

Nov. 9 - 11: POW Awards Weekend, Ramada Inn; info at

Nov. 9 - 11: FWA Annual Conference, Walt Disney World Coronado Springs Resort; agents, editors, publishers, Richard Evans and William Nolan speakers; early registration 7/31; schedule and details at: <> 

Florida First Coast Writers' Festival's contests accepting entries for the Josiah W. Bancroft Sr. Novel Contest, the Page Edwards Short Fiction Contest, the Douglas Freels and the Robert Grimes "Good Earth" Poetry Contests and the Writers' Festival Playwriting Contest; <>   for details.

Mystery Writers of America (MWA), and St. Martin's Minotaur first annual St. Martin's Minotaur/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition for a previously unpublished writer an opportunity to launch his or her career with a major mystery imprint, St. Martin's Minotaur. The winner will receive a one-book, $10,000 contract; <>   for guidelines.

The Intergeneration Foundation announced its 2nd Storytelling Contest which seeks to reinforce and recognize the power of storytelling as a way to connect generations. Whether fiction or non-fiction, the story should illustrate intergeneration needs, connections and understanding, and feature characters from at least two generations. Top prize is $500 and is open to all writers; no entry fee. There's a limit of 600 words; <>   for details.

Janet Vincent has been a member of NFW since June 2005. She was recently appointed as co-editor of NFW newsletter, The Write Stuff, and writes authors interviews for e-zine, Eloquent Stories.   An avid camper, she travels the USA searching for travel, inspiration, and human interest articles. 

Quote from a Writer's Quill

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Writers born in juLY

1--George Sand (1804), James M. Cain (1892), Jean Stafford (1915); 2--Hermann Hesse (1877); 3--Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860), Franz Kafka (1883), M.F.K. Fisher (1908), and Tom Stoppard (1937); 4--Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804), Ann Landers (1918), and Abigail Van Buren (1918);

6--Karl Gustaf Verner von Heidenstam (1859); 7--Robert Heinlein (1907); 9--Joseph Cowen (1831), Barbara Cartland (1901) and Oliver Sachs (1933); 

10--Robert Chambers (1802), Marcel Proust (1871), and Alice Munro (1931); 11--Thomas Bowdler (1754), E. B. White (1899), and Harold Bloom (1930); 12--Edward Benlowes (1602), Henry David Thoreau (1817), and Pablo Neruda (1904); 13--Wole Soyinka (1934); 14--Irving Stone (1903), Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904), Woody Guthrie (1912), and Natalie Ginzburg (1916);

15--Robert Conquest (1917) and Iris Murdoch (1919); 16--Anita Brookner (1928); 17--Richard Carew (1555), William John Courthope (1842), Jakob Christoph Heer (1859), Samuel Joseph Agnon (1888), Erle Stanley Gardner (1889) and James Purdy (1923); 18--William Makepeace Thackeray (1811), S. I. Hayakawa (1906), and Margaret Laurence (1926); 19--Heinrich Christian Boie (1744), Herman Bahr (1863), E. P. Snow (1905), Joseph Hansen (1923), Dom Moraess (1938), and Jayne Anne Phillips (1952);

20--Connie McCarthy (1933); 21--Al-Bukhari (810), Frances Parkinson Keyes (1885), Hart Crane (1899), Ernest Hemingway (1899), A. D. Hope (1907), John Gardner (1933), Tess Gallagher (1943), and Buchi Emescheta (1944); 22--Stephen Vincent Benét (1898) and Tom Robbins (1936); 23--Raymond Chandler (1888); 24--John D. MacDonald (1916);

25--David Belasco (1853); 26--George Bernard Shaw (1856), Carl Jung (1875), Aldous Huxley (1894), and Robert Graves (1895); 27--Thomas Campbell (1777), Giosue Carducci (1835), Hilaire Belloc (1870), Joseph Mitchell (1908) and Bharati Mukherjee (1940); 28--Beatrix Potter (1866), Malcolm Lowry (1909), John Ashbery (1927), and William T. Vollmann (1959); 29--Booth Tarkington (1869), Don Marquis (1878), and Stanley Kunitz (1905); 

30--Emily Brontë (1818), Oliver Optic (William Taylor Adam) (1822), Gaston Calmette (1858), Jean Jacques Bernard (1888), William Gass (1924), and Alexander Trocchi (1925); 31--Elizabeth Wurtzel (1967).



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 critiquing.


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 own manuscript to read.


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).





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