Writing News for the Sunshine State & the Solar System * Nov. 2008

Editor: Howard Denson



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In This Issue:

Deadline for the Josiah W. Bancroft Sr. Novel Contest Set Jan. 2,'09

USABookNews.Com names Hurst Memoir as a 'Best' Book

FWA Conference Scheduled Nov. 14-16 in Lake Mary

St. Augustine's Flagler College to Host FLAC Literary Conference

Is Correct Spelling out of Fashion? -- Howard Denson

NFW to Focus on Critiques at Nov. 8 Meeting

Quote from a Writer's Quill - Margaret Walker

Writers Born This Month - They wrote of open boats, WW II soldiers, little women, and much more.



The Florida First Coast Writers' Festival has announced it will award novel prizes during 2009. The Bancroft prize was named after the late Josiah W. Bancroft Sr., who was a physician who loved to write novels, plays, short fiction, poetry, and songs. He was a member of the Bard Society and a charter member of the North Florida Writers.

The final round judges will be novelists David Poyer and Lenore Hart.

Entrant Guidelines and Checklist

This contest welcomes unpublished, original manuscripts of all genres of fiction. (No "sequels" involving, say, characters from Star Trek or Star Wars.) 

Each entry requires a $45 entry fee. 

Make checks payable to First Coast Writers' Festival, indicating "Novel Contest" in the For line of the check. 

Mail entries to Writers' Festival Contests, 4501 Capper Road, Jacksonville, FL 32218, ATTN Dr. Dana Thomas. 

Each entry should be typed, double-spaced, with numbered pages. 

Entries should include two copies of the manuscript's first 100 (or so) pages. 

Entries should not be the author's only copy as the Festival does not return eliminated entries or accept responsibility for entries lost in the mail. 

Entries should be accompanied by a logline, summarizing the novel in one or two sentences, and a brief present tense narrative summary. 

Include a biosheet, written in third person, listing entrant's name, address, phone number and e-mail address, along with the title of the manuscript(s) and the first line of the entry. Follow this information with a brief (two to three sentences) biographical statement. 

Florida Community College employees and Writers' Festival Planning Committee members are not eligible to enter the contest. 

This contest is not a critique service; however, the final entries will receive written evaluations from Poyer or Hart. 



*       First Place - $700 and serious consideration from a major publishing house. 

*       Second Place - $200. 

*       Third Place - $100. 



Rodney L. Hurst's memoir, It was never about a Hot Dog and a Coke!, has been given a National Best Books 2008 Award in the multi-cultural non-fiction category.

The award was announced by USABookNews.Com, the online magazine and review website for mainstream and independent publishing houses.

Hurst's book looked back to the days of segregation, when the youth council of the NAACP, inspired by his eighth-grade teacher Rutledge Pearson, participated in the sit-in demonstrations at the lunch counters of Jacksonville dime stores. Pearson, Alton Yates, Hurst, and others were confronted by racial violence on the infamous "Ax Handle Saturday," when the segregationists attempted to bludgeon demonstrators and other African Americans on the streets. 



The theme of the 7th Annual Florida Writers Conference is "Chart Your Course." That theme will be explored Nov. 14-16 at the Marriott Resort (1501 International Parkway) in Lake Mary, FL.

For more information, click on this website: 

Success in the publishing world depends on sharing information, learning new skills, understanding publishing requirements, and polishing your writing. Every year, the Florida Writers Association proves that "writers helping writers" is not merely a slogan by providing members an opportunity to learn these things at our conference. 

Besides attending workshops, participants can also meet with publishing industry professionals to pitch their work, submit a query, discuss book marketing, and much more. This year the FWA is providing more resources than ever to help writers on their journey.

The FWA has also worked hard to provide writers with more value for their dollar. Our new venue is centrally located in Lake Mary/North Orlando. It will be the only conference at this Marriott hotel.  This year the paid attendance will include all sessions and meals from Friday morning at 9 a.m. until noon on Sunday, for an incredibly low cost of only $249 for early bird registration.



The Flagler College Writers-in-Residence program will host the fourth annual conference of the Florida Literary Arts Coalition (FLAC). The conference, titled "Other Words: a Conference of Literary Magazines, Independent Publishers, and Writers," is scheduled for Nov. 6-8, 2008, and will be held at Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL.

The goal of the conference is to bring together writers, editors, agents, publishers, book sellers, grant administrators, creative writing students and others interested in the literary arts. The conference will focus on areas such as e-zines, electronic book publishing, literary websites, literary travel writing, and truth and accuracy for non-fiction writers. Round tables will be presented on subjects such as small press publishers, journal editors, fundraising, grant writing, and getting small press books and literary journals adopted for classroom use. Other panels may include literary festivals, conferences, colonies, retreats, translations and working with libraries. There will also be a book fair where work by visiting writers will be for sale.

This year's FLAC conference readers will include Tony D'Souza, Peter Meinke, Bucky McMahon, Sheryl St. Germain, Katie Chaple, Chad Prevost, Travis Wayne Denton, Gerry LaFemina, Julia Levine, Lisa Zimmerman, Kelle Groom, Lynn Aarti Chandhok, Pat MacEnulty, Peter Blair, Marty Williams, Tania Rochelle, Earl S. Braggs, Michael Neff, Patti White, and William Slaughter. Members of Flagler College's writing faculty will also read.  

Tony D'Souza's first novel, Whiteman, received the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His second novel, The Konkans, was released in February, 2008. Tony has contributed to The New Yorker, Playboy, Salon, Esquire, Outside, The O. Henry Awards, Best American Fantasy, McSweeney's, and Tin House.

Peter Meinke is the author of many books, including Liquid Paper: New and Collected Poems; Zinc Fingers; and Scars. His collection of short stories, The Piano Tuner, won the 1986 Flannery O'Connor Award. The Contracted World is his latest collection published in the Pitt Poetry Series.

Bucky McMahon's new book is Night Diver, published by Anhinga Press. His essays and stories have appeared in Esquire, Outside Magazine, GQ and many other magazines. He's been anthologized twice in the Best American series, once for Travel and once for Sports.

A native of New Orleans, Sheryl St. Germain's books include Going Home, The Mask of Medusa, Making Bread at Midnight, How Heavy the Breath of God, and The Journals of Scheherazade. Her most recent book is Let it Be a Dark Roux: New and Selected Poems, published by Autumn House Press in 2007.

In recent years, the FLAC conference was hosted by the FSU Creative Writing Program. Past participants have included editors from Anhinga Press, Fiction Collective Two, The University of Tampa Press, Sarabande Books, Snake Nation Press, Starcherone Press, Ahsahta Press, Mudlark, The Georgia Review, The Chattahoochee Review, Terminus Magazine, Arts and Letters, The Florida Review, the Tampa Review, and others.

This year's conference will begin with a reading on Thursday night, Nov. 6. Panels, readings and workshops will be held all day Friday and Saturday, Nov. 7 and 8. Literary readings mid-day and in the evening are free to the public. In addition, a luncheon will be held on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008. 

See the website for information about registration fees and hotel accommodations. 

Flagler College, a National Historic Landmark, is located in the nation's oldest city, St. Augustine, FL. The College's campus is housed in buildings built in the late 1800's as the elegant Ponce de Leon Hotel by industrial magnate Henry Flagler. The city offers historic sightseeing and sunny Atlantic beaches, with a wide range of lodging and dining options.

For information about the Florida Literary Arts Coalition visit <> . 

For information about the conference e-mail <> . 

For information about Flagler College's Writers-in-Residence program visit <>  .




I have a strong recollection of a scene in a 1930's Wallace Beery movie where he proclaimed, "I never give a hang for a man who could only spell a word one way."

In fact, for centuries, anyone who was literate might spell a word two or three ways, as his mood dictated. Shakespeare, for example, left his signature on several documents and spelled his surname three or four different ways. 

That's just the way it was until Dr. Samuel Johnson came along and messed up the world of writing by inventing the first substantial dictionary. From then on, it became a matter of "let's look it up to see who's right." In America, Noah Webster cranked up his dictionary in the next century and simplified the spelling in several ways ("theater" instead of "theatre"; "center" instead of "centre"; "flavor" instead of "flavour"). He also came up with a bunch of spelling revisions. He would have deleted "silent" letters, thus encouraging such words as "bred," "giv," and "frend"; he would have disposed of the Frenchified sounds and given us such words as "masshen," "toor," and "obleek." These and other forms simply didn't catch on. (For his essay, click on <> .) 

The dictionaries helped to solidify accepted spellings, as did spelling bees and, with the arrival of computers, the spell-checker features.

It is not surprising, by and by, that someone like Emeritus Professor John Wells, president of the Spelling Society in England, would recently call for the "freeing up" of English spelling. The eminent greybeard told the Times: "The teaching of literacy in schools is a major worry. It seems highly likely that one of the reasons Britain and other English-speaking countries have problems with literacy is because of our spelling and the burden it places on children." He lauds Spanish, Italian, and Finnish because, once you learn the letters, "you know how to spell, so it would be ludicrous to hold spelling tests."

In the articles in The Times and The Telegraph, academics rallied generally against Wells' position, even as they themselves suggested some useful revisions (along the line of Noah Webster's). Although Wells' team argues that correct spellings don't mean you are educated (nor would misspelling signal that you're dumb or stupid), the experts did refer to practical business concerns.

The articles and columns on Wells' proposal did not refer to "the power dialect" or "the green dialect," but one writer mentioned the importance of correct spelling and grammar on job applications, resumes, and curriculum vitae. Anyone who has been on a screening committee and has gone through 50 applications for a teaching position knows that eventually the ones who can't, or won't, spell correctly get weeded out on this rationale: "If they don't care enough to get their resumes and CV's correct, they won't care enough to do the teaching job correct."

We all recall when then Vice President Dan Quayle ran into a buzzsaw when he tried to add an "e" to "potato."

Against the argument in favor of phonetic spelling, a Collins Language editor raises this question about "think": Do we spell it the correct way, or would London's East Enders be permitted to spell it "fink" and some Irish as "tink"? 

Hmm, do you tink that Tony Soprano would rub out someone who said, "I fink all the time?"

The spell-checker features on PC's have greatly improved the typed papers that students turn in. In the 1970s (and earlier), students might stumble over a wide variety of words, but nowadays they mainly make errors in homophones: too/two/to, there/they're/their, were/where, an/and. Students today will let the spell-checkers lead them astray. A student or aspiring writer may want to use the word, "definitely," as in "I definitely want to go to church on Sunday." However, the student has initially spelled it as "deffinitely," "definately," or some other variation. When the spell-checker offers three or four possibilities, the student may click on the wrong one and end up bellowing on paper, "I defiantly want to go to church on Sunday."

Besides saying that the apostrophe needs to be abolished (just leave it out or leave a space), Professor Wells says, "Text messaging, e-mail and internet chat rooms are showing us the way forward for English."

Texting may have some influence, but we shouldn't expect it to transform our prose. After all, the power dialect will still assert its dominion.

If poor spelling doesn't indicate that someone is ill-educated, then it certainly emphasizes something else: Frankly, my dear, the writer just doesn't give a damn.

FINAL THOUGHT ON A QUOTATION: The movie scriptwriter for Wallace Beery's film may have been inspired by a quotation attributed to President Andrew Jackson: "It's a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word." The quote is also attributed to Andrew Johnson.

ANY FEEDBACK? If you have any special insights or opinions, then send your response to 



Critiquing manuscripts will be front and center at the September meeting of the North Florida Writers. The meeting will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, in a conference room at the Webb-Wesconnett Branch Library (corner of 103rd Street and Harlow Boulevard).

The Nov. 8 meeting will be held at the Webb-Wesconnett branch, but the Dec. 13 meeting will be held at Joyce Davidson's new bookstore (Hallowed Grounds) in Green Cove Springs.



Out in Oregon, Christine Watt, a past Writers' Festival novel winner and crusader for better treatment for animals, has won a contest for the best bumper sticker: "In doggy society, friendship starts at the bottom." Her grand prize was a basket of goodies.

Says she: "Oregonians are an earthy bunch."



When I was about eight, I decided that the most wonderful thing, next to a human being, was a book. - Margaret Walker



1--Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (1636), Christopher Brennan (1870), Stephen Crane (1871), Sholem Asch (1880), David Jones (1895), James Kilpatrick (1920); 2--Jules Amédée Barbey D'Aurevilly (1808), Shere Hite (1942); 3--Benvenuto Cellini (1500), William Cullen Bryan (1794); 4--Conte Aleardo Aleardi (1812), Will Rogers (1879), Ciro Alegría (1909); 

5--John Brown (1715), James Beattie (1735), Sam Shepard (1943); 6--Colley Cibber (1671), James Jones (1921); 7--Mark Aleksandrovich Aldanov (1889), Albert Camus (1913); 8--Roger de Beauvoir (EugPne Auguste Roger de Bully) (1806), Margaret Mitchell (1900), Kazuo Ishiguto (1954); 9--Mark Akenside (1721), James Schyler (1923), Anne Sexton (1928), Carl Sagan (1934), Roger McGough (1937);

10--Jakob Cats (1577), José Hernádez (1834), Olaf Bull (1883), Vachel Lindsay (1879), Karl Shapiro (1913); 11--Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821), Thomas Bailey Aldrich (1836), Winston Churchill, of U.S. (1871), Howard Fast (1914), Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (1922), Carlos Fuentes (1928); 13--Robert Louis Stevenson (1850); 14--Robert Smythe Hichens (1864), Jacob Abbott, P. J. O'Rourke (1955);

15--Marianne Moore (1915), J. G. Ballard (1930), Ted Berrigan (1934); 16--Chinua Achebe (1930); 17--Sigurd Wesley Christiansen (1891), Shelby Foote (1916); 18--Wyndham Lewis (1882), Margaret Atwood (1939); 19--Hjalmar Fredrik Elgerus Bergman (1883), Allen Tate (1899), Sharon Olds (1942);

20--Thomas Chatterton (1752), le doyen Bridel (Philippe Sirice Bridel) (1757), Alistair Cook (1908), Nadine Gordimer (1923), Don DeLillo (1936); 22--George Eliot (1819), André Gide (1869), Endre Ady (1877), Richard Emil Braun (1934); 24--Dale Carnegie (1888), William F. Buckley Jr. (1925), Paul Blackburn (1926);

25--John Bigelow (1817); 26--William Cowper (1731), Mihály Babits (1883), EugPne Ionesco (1909), Charles Schultz (1922), David Poyer (1949); 27--Friedrich Rudolf Ludwig Canitz (1654), Bankim Chandra Chatterji (1838), James Agee (1909); 28--William Blake (1757), Carl Jonas Love Almqvist (1793), Dawn Powell (1897); 29--Louisa May Alcott (1832), Ludwig Anzengruber (1839), C. S. Lewis (1898), Madeleine L'Engle (1918), Kahil Gibran (1922), David Kirby (1944); 

30--Jonathan Swift (1667), Mark Twain (1835), Sir Winston Churchill (1874).



Every Wednesday: 7:30 p.m.; BARD SOCIETY; Frank Green 234-8383; Email <>  

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

Saturday, Nov. 8, 2 p.m.; NORTH FLORIDA WRITERS; Webb Wesconnett Library; <>  



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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