·         Writing News for the Sunshine State & the Solar System

· * July 2010

·         Editor: Howard Denson

In This Issue:
NFW Will Critique in July and August, Hear Private Investigator in September

Royal Palm Competition Deadline is July 16 -- Vic DiGenti

The Wrong Stuff

Stuff from Hither and Yon

Quote from a Writer's Quill – Irvin S. Cobb

Writers Born This Month

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and august, hear private
INVESTIGATOR in september

The July 10 and Aug. 14 meetings of the North Florida Writers will focus only on critiques. The meeting will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Webb Wesconnett Branch Library (corner of 103rd Street and Harlow Boulevard).

But the Sept. 11 meeting will feature a talk by Steven Brown, a First Coast private investigator and author of The Idiot's Guide to Private Investigating.

The critique process has people other than the author of respective works read aloud the submissions (up to 10 double-spaced pages of prose, and reasonable amounts of poetry or lyrics). Authors may not defend their work, but they should listen to the words and rhythms of their creations.

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July 16 is the deadline for this year's Royal Palm Literary Awards competition. Competition Chair Chris Coward reports a record number of entries this year, which has helped boost FWA membership to an all-time high of 1,200 members statewide. Go to  for submission details. And while you're there, sign up for the FWA Conference, Oct. 22 - 24.

Another deadline looming on July 16 is the registration for the UNF Writers Conference, Aug. 6 - 8. Registration has been strong for this 2nd annual conference, co-sponsored by FWA. It kicks off on the 6th with a full day of workshops headlined by Steve Berry. Other presenters include Dante Amodeo, John Boles, John Byram, Sharon Y. Cobb, Julie Compton, Mary Ann de Stefano, Victor DiGenti, Adrian Fogelin, Sohrab Homi Fracis, Kristin Harmel, Veronica Hart, Darryl House, Sandra McDonald, Carol O'Dell, Michael Wiley, James M. Wilson, and Thelma Young. Saturday and Sunday's critique workshops include general fiction, non-fiction, children's, YA, and memoir. The conference website is

Those are filling up rapidly, so register now.

Your first ten pages will be evaluated by the class and you will receive a written evaluation from the workshop leader. BTW, Sunday will also include a First Page panel evaluating submitted first pages, and an explanation of how the Pitch Book will work for the Book & Film Deal Connection. This is exclusive to the UNF Writers Conference.

Conference Director Sharon Cobb reports she has lined up an excellent slate of agents, editors, and film producers. Sharon also has provided a way for you to receive a 50% discount on the full three-day registration fee of $299 by working part-time as a volunteer.

If you're interested in the details, contact me and I'll send you them to you.

The deadline for the FPA President's Book Awards has been extended to July 7. The awards cover 17 categories, and you or your publisher must be a Florida Publishers Association member to enter. The awards cover books published in 2008 and 2009. Click on the link for details –

If you're not attending the UNF Writers Conference on August 7, you may want to checkout Elaine Viets, who will be conducting a workshop for Florida Sisters in Crime. Elaine is the author of two best-selling mystery series, including the Dead-End Job series. The topics covered in the workshop include Character, and Catching & Keeping an Agent. Visit for details.

The next Scribblers Retreat Writers Conference is scheduled for Aug. 13-14 at the King & Prince Golf Resort on St. Simon's Island, Ga. The theme of this conference is Action Thrillers and Humor, and the popular Steve Berry is one of 10 authors presenting at the quarterly conference. For details, go to

And one last reminder, the Florida Heritage Book Festival kicks off on Sept. 24 with a day of writers' workshops at the Casa Monica Hotel. The sessions include A Writer's Worst Habits and How to Break Them by Larry Baker, Publishing 101 with France Keyser and Jane Wood, Marketing Yourself and Your Work with Robert Macomber, and True Stories: Writing Nonfiction for Fun and Profit with William McKeen. Macomber is also the keynote speaker at lunch. That same evening, the Festival honors Carl Hiaasen at the Literary Legends Awards banquet at the Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village. Visit for complete information.

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Jim Schoettler, "Police, mom detail fatal carjacking," Florida Times-Union:

[Bank robber Jeremiah] Mathis laid dead moments later, hit by 13 of 42 shots fired by Jacksonville police.


[Officer Jason] Lederman loaded [two-year-old] Daniel [Cooper] in an ambulance as Mathis' lifeless body laid handcuffed in the street.

W.S. SAYS: We could say that the misuse of LAID results from the writer's lack of knowledge about transitive and intransitive verbs, but, except for some English teachers, who knows what that means? In brief, LAID requires some object (e.g., bricks, tile, eggs, or sexual partners. LIE (present tense) and LAY (past) are verbs complete into themselves. Since the writer has twice erred in one story, he needs to put a paperclip at the lie-lay-lain/lay-laid-laid section of his grammar handbook and refer to it whenever the word pops up in a story.


Essay 911 website:

In such a situation, it is possible to recommend to prepare an outline of all ideas that the writer has concerning the essay. Than the ideas should be arranged in a logical order, for instance, depending on the type of an essay, the main ideas may be structured according to the following scheme: problem-cause-effects-
solution, or problem-arguments for-arguments against-conclusion, etc.

W.S. SAYS: The "Essay 911" website exists to help kiddies cheat their way through composition, literature, and other classes. It also unintentionally points out the danger of using such sites. How so? In the full piece, the webscribes repeatedly use "it is" constructions. The writing is passive in that it avoids a specific actor (e.g., someone is recommending). Next, the webbers don't proofread and missed a misspelling of THEN. Finally, after "logical order," the sentences needed a period or a semicolon, because they go into a comma splice. (A colon could have been used except the main clause following used its own colon.)


Matt Coleman, "Woman dies after getting trapped in mud," Florida Times-Union:

Two teenage motorists were driving by when they saw a woman flailing her arms and desperately struggling in the vice grip of dense river mud about 150 yards from shore.

W.S. SAYS: A VISE is what grabs or squeezes in America. Brits may spell it VICE.


Counsel in a fortune cookie:

Patience is your alley at the moment. Don't worry!

W.S. SAYS: If you can't get to your allies on the main drag of life, you can always cut through an alley.


Howard Kurtz, "Al Gore and the Enquirer's Non-Checkbook Journalism" (Washington Post)

This [uproar raised by the Rolling Stone writer and the babbling general], by the way, is no different than the tension faced by every city hall and statehouse reporter versus someone coming in for a one-shot piece.

W.S. SAYS: You would normally write "differ/different FROM" instead of
THAN. It is possible to have a THAN construction but it will be followed by a verbal clause.


Headline on page 1 of Florida Times-Union:

Budget is
that's iffy

W.S. SAYS: Enough space was available in line three for ON to be inserted. The writer might have insisted that the headline could be read as "Budget (subject) is (verb) dependent (modifier) funding (predicate nominative) that's iffy (clause modifying FUNDING). That won't work because it reduces the sentence to BUDGET IS FUNDING, which at a minimum is a mixed construction.


Headline in Jack section about television in the Times-Union:

Dennis Leary's hangs up
fire gear on 'Rescue Me'

W.S. SAYS: Poor proofing. The original version probably referred to "Dennis Leary's show" blah blah blah, but, when the switch was made to the star himself, no one noticed the superfluous possessive.

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Hysteria in Egypt's
streets over
English exam failures

Matt Bradley, foreign correspondent, fills in the readers of The National, a new English newspaper launched by the Abu Dhabi Media Company. Education is important in the Arab world, and the stakes are high for students to avoid the consequences of failing their English exams. Click on




This website focuses on the verbal faux pas of the English-speaking world (see "Well, basically....<>" and "Dare to be Accountable<>," in the August and June issues, respectively). Now it offers Maggie Balistreri's "brilliant and witty observations" in yet another attempt to expose those who like, can't talk right and those whose education is like only a few degrees north of first grade (and that is like an insult to First-graders). If you like or dislike "like," check it out at

The Amazing

Atlas of

True Names

The Atlas of True Names reveals the etymological roots, or original meanings, of the familiar terms on today's maps of the World, Europe, the British Isles and the United States. For instance, where you would normally expect to see the Sahara indicated, the Atlas gives you "The Tawny One," derived from Arab. es-sahra “the fawn colored, desert.” Unsurprisingly, countries and landscapes often derive their names from the characteristics of the people who lived there: “Great Land of the Tattooed” – Great Britain, while local mythology and regional rulers also frequently leave their legacy: “Isle of the Monster’s Eye” – Peleponnese or “Illustrious Emperor” – Zaragoza. For more (or to order the book), go to

Poetry Spat

Knocks 'em Flat

A disgruntled prof slams a letter writer for not recognizing that poetry can be found elsewhere in the world, in architecture, etc., but he pooh-poohs creative writing classes and writing workshops at


Those who can spell English have discovered the magic of the hardest language, says an editorial in the London Times at

Bethany Lott killed

while being proposed to

by a lightning strike

in Knoxville

That was the headline for a story about a young woman's death, apparently while she was being courted by electricity. No, not really. A rule in writing is "put the parts together that belong together," or you can check Geoffrey K. Pullum's analysis of the linguistic disaster at

Ruth Rendell

on Harper Lee

and the Deep South

Fifty years after the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird, Ruth Rendell asks how deeply racism still pervades U.S. society. Read her essay about racism, fathers, and childhood at

And Others

on Mockingbird

Allen Barras in the Wall Street Journal wrote, "And as for Harper Lee—Alabama born, raised and still resident—she doesn't really measure up to [Flannery O'Connor, Carson McCullers, William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Kate Chopin, and Tennessee Williams] in literary talent, but we like to pretend she does." Click here to see others' views about the book:

Much Ado About Noting

Use of Passives and

Femininity vs. Masculinity

Passive voice sentences are mainly used by bureaucrats, educrats, and buzicrats who don't want to take responsibility for actions or don't want to blame others (hence, the use of such constructions as "It was decided to" blah blah blah). Strangely, although the "crats" have largely been male, Kathleen Parker is ascribing passive overuse to femininity as she argues that Obama is our first female president. That's silly nonsense, of course, because the man is clearly a Vulcan, sent here to aggravate members of the Klingon sleeper cells (Sarah, Glenn, Rush, et al.). Mark Liberman in "Rhetorical Testosterone and Analytical Hallucinations<>" in Language Log sees flaws in her argument and in that of Paul Payack. Follow the tempest at

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If writers were good businessmen,

they'd have too much sense to be writers.

-- Irvin S. Cobb

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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 S. 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--Cormac 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) and J. K. Rowling (1965).

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BARD SOCIETY: Every Wednesday: 7 p.m.; Frank Green 234-8383; Email<>

FIRST COAST CHRISTIAN WRITERS GROUP: Every Thursday, 6:45 p.m. at Christ's Church, 6045 Greenland Rd., Room 204, near I-95 & 9A; Email:<>

FIRST COAST ROMANCE WRITERS: Second Saturday of each month; start time varies based on program; see website Chaffee Road Library; 1425 Chaffee Road South, Jacksonville. Info:<>

MANDARIN WRITERS WORKSHOP: Second and fourth Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. at S. Mandarin Library (corner of San Jose and Orange Picker Rd.). Larry Barnes at<>.

NORTH FLORIDA WRITERS: Second Saturday: 2 p.m. at Webb Wesconnett Library;<>

THE NORTHEAST FLORIDA CHAPTER OF FLORIDA WRITERS ASSN.: fourth Saturday of the month at 10:30 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Library (between Jacksonville and St. Augustine). Vic DiGenti, FWA regional director. For more information, check<> or<>.

SISTERS IN CRIME: First Saturday of each month: 10:30 a.m. at Southeast Regional Library, 10599 Deerwood Park Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32256; Sherry Czerniejewski, president Email<>

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President: Margie Sauls (<>)

Vice President: Richard Levine (<>)

Secretary: Kathy Marsh (<>)

Treasurer: Howard Denson (<>)

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Membership is $15 for students, $25 for individuals, and $40 for a family. (Make out checks to WRITERS.) Mail your check to WRITERS, c/o Howard Denson, 1511 Pershing Rd., Jacksonville, FL 32205.

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