Writing News for the Sunshine State & the Solar System

Sept. 2008

Editor: Howard Denson


In This Issue:

Amelia Island Book Festival to Feature Steve Berry, Louis Bayard, Laura Moriarty Oct. 3-6

NFW to Focus on Critiques at Sept. 13 Meeting

Ask Old Stuff and Nonsense: More on "To Be or Not to Be? -- Howard Denson

June Weltman to Teach Classes on Mysteries for Youths

Quote from a Writer's Quill - Katherine Mansfield

Writers Born This Month - They wrote of Tarzan, Mandingo, 007, Hawkeye, Martians, and Holly Golightly.




The eighth annual Amelia Island Book Festival on Oct. 3-6 will feature more than 30 selected authors of a wide variety of genres of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The festival includes author chats, readings, workshops and exciting programs with book signings, luncheons and great parties.

For full information about the AIBF, go to <> .

Steve Berry lives on the Georgia coast. He still practices a little law, and also serves as one of five members of the Camden County Board of Commissioners. He has been writing since 1990, and, although his undergraduate degree was in political science, it was his interest in history that led to him writing international suspense thrillers. He has six books in print, The Amber Room, The Romanov Prophecy, The Third Secret, The Templar Legacy, The Alexandria Link, and The Venetian Betrayal which have been New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher's Weekly bestsellers. His next one, The Charlemagne Pursuit, comes December, 2008. He is also an international bestseller. His books appear in 43 countries and 42 languages. Nearly 7,000,000 copies are in print worldwide.

Louis Bayard is the author of The Pale Blue Eye (Harper Collins), a national bestseller nominated for both the Edgar and Dagger awards, and Mr. Timothy (HarperCollins), a New York Times Notable Book and one of People magazine's 10 best books of 2003. His novels have been translated into eight languages, including Spanish, French, Portuguese and Russian.

He is also a staff writer and book reviewer for, and his articles and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Ms., and Preservation. His other novels include Fool's Errand and Endangered Species (Alyson). He is also a contributor to the anthologies The Worst Noel and Maybe Baby (HarperCollins) and 101 Damnations (St. Martin's).

Laura Moriarty received her master's degree in Creative Writing from the University of Kansas and was awarded the George Bennett Fellowship for Creative Writing at Phillips Exeter Academy. Her first novel was The Center of Everything; her second, The Rest of Her Life. She lives with her daughter in Lawrence, Kansas, and is at work on her next novel. Learn more about her at the website <> .

Other speakers will include Mike Brewster (Driving Change: The UPS Approach to Business), Vic DiGenti (the Windrusher novels), Stephen Doster (Voices from St. Simons), Mary Anna Evans (Findings), Rodney Hurst (It was Never about a Hot Dog and a Coke!), Anna Marie Melson (The Work of the Lord), J. L. Miles (Divorcing Dwayne), Michelle Monkou (No One But You), Marsha Dean Phelts (An American Beach for African Americans), Nancy Schleifer (A Warrant for Mrs. Lincoln), Rose Senehi (Pelican Watch), Mary Bea Sullivan (Dancing Naked Under the Moon), Lucy Beebe Tobias (50 Great Walks in Florida), Kathleen Walls (Hosts with Ghosts), Mary Jane Ryals (The Moving Waters).

Also attending will be authors of books for children and young adults: Marianne Berkes (Over in the Arctic), Jerry Bishop and Gail Bishop Dugger (Peter the Pelican), DiGenti, Shannon Greenland (The Specialists), Pam Henn (Nick and Slim), Darrel House (Underneath the Cushions on the Couch), Ron Kurtz and Roger Moore (Arfie Finds a Job), Betsy S. Lee (Off the Track), Stephanie and Brad Mayberry (Douglas the Duck and the Safety Camp), Ron Miller (Horse Bones), Pamela Bauer Mueller (Aloha Crossing), Hank and Jan Racer (The River Rats), Patsy Smith Roberts (Rory: The Adventures of a Lion Cub), Grady Thrasher (Tim and Sally's Beach Adventure), Diane Till (Here's What I Know So Far), Jane R. Wood (Trouble on the St. Johns River), Yvonne Zaleski (Story of the Carriage Horse).


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, Sept. 13, in a conference room at the Webb-Wesconnett Branch Library (corner of 103rd Street and Harlow Boulevard).




In August's e-issue, this space had questions about what constitutes prose or prosaic and then about eighth-grade levels of writing. Some follow-up questions and responses:

Dear Old Stuffer: I vaguely remember that some Shakespearean scholar insisted that "To be or not to be, that is the question" refers to the debate topic of that year at a university, and, therefore, is not an example prosaic or non-prosaic.

Shakespeare could well have copied the approach for his drama. Also, if the letter writer wanted to give his or her brother compliments, he or she should stick with the current meanings of words. The 12 volumes of the Oxford English Dictionary are too heavy to carry around. Of course, if the brother is young, under 60, I suppose he doesn't mind. -- Book Store Owner

Dear Bookie: The "to be or not to be" soliloquy is definitely poetic, but the Old Stuffer cited it only to demonstrate (for the eighth-grade writing discussion) a relatively simple construction. The OS&N doesn't have an impressive ear for stresses, but "To BE or NOT to BE" is iambic. When we come to "That is the Question," the rhythm breaks. There's a clear pause, a caesura, after the first part, but my bum ear can't decide whether the second part is trochaic or a mixture. It begins trochaic (THAT is) and ends with a strong-weak word (QUEST ion). In my darker moods, I view it almost as dactylic, although my therapist Dr. Foxwhistle said that feeling will pass.


Dear Old Stuff: Here's a "Ha ha" and a smile icon :) to this line from the August column: "Like reggae played on accordions, that [the term Prosaike for a writer in prose] didn't catch on."

Here's a group called Paddyrasta, so you get not only the button accordion but also bagpipes thrown in for good measure. <> . -- Scribbler

Dear Scribbler: The song was a real toe-tapper until a bolt of lightning fried my system. I think Zeus is a purist.


Dear Old Stuff: I stopped listening to lyrics the year I actually heard the words of "MacArthur Park," but an old-timers radio station was playing the Gershwins' "I've Got a Crush on You" and, mixed in with the "coo" and "woo" of the lyrics, was a reference to a "cunning cottage."

Okay, I've heard of crafty cheese, but can a cottage be cunning? -- Ghosts of Johnny Mercer, Larry Hart, and Oscar Hammerstein II

Dear Spooks: Ira Gershwin wrote his lyrics back in the mid-1930s, and, as Funk & Wagnalls says, the third definition of cunning in the U.S. is "innocently amusing; cute." The word comes from the Old English and Norse cunnan ("to know, be able"). The word gave the Scots the verb ken ("I ken [know] ye well"), while the Norse came up with kenning for verbal word-play for several words: "mountain of the hawk" (arm), "raven harvest" (corpse), "swan-road" (the sea), "bone house" (our body), "oar steed" (ship), "storm of swords" (battle).

So, it was marginally acceptable for Ira to write "for a cunning cottage we could share," but the Old Stuffer posits that it wasn't as acceptable in later decades for Ella, Frank, Carly Simons, Rod Stewart, Michael Buble, and Luscious Jackson to use the expression. A later singer could just as easily use, say, "cozy cottage," although some will argue that's a cliché. (Love itself is the ultimate cliché, of course.)

Out of curiosity, the Old Stuff and Nonsenser did an e-search for "cunning cottage." Most of the 616 hits were for sites for lyrics for tunes by Miss Ella and colleagues (not helpful).

Several real estate ads were trying to sell "cunning cottages." They were in Martha's Vineyard, Pennsylvania, and nearby and might have price-tags of a half-million, although they often looked no better than Elvis' birthplace in Tupelo.

So does "cunning cottage" mean "fixer-upper"? That seems to be confirmed by Paul B. Brown in The New York Times when he wrote: "Raising and putting four children through college, as we will, has a way of turning a dream castle into a cunning cottage."

Still curious, the OS&N e-searched "cunning house" (244 hits). Padraic Colum was quoted in many sites for his poem, "I Shall Not Die for Thee": "In a cunning house hard-reared was I."

Many of the hits referred to Harry Potter lore with Slithering being the cunning house. That switches the meaning from Ira's usage.

Real estate adverts in the U.S. and U.K. referred to "cunning solutions to modernizing a 1980's brick mews house." This copy appeared: "Cunning means thinking smart, on your feet, open eyed. It means inventing possibilities, spotting opportunities and seizing the moment. It means being topical, getting noticed, in the game."

For a lyricist today or from outside of New England and environs, it also means finding another word.

A POST SCRIPT: In a p.s., the Ghosts of Johnny, Larry, and Oscar claim that a lady was walking through a cemetery and heard someone singing "You on Crush a Got I" and then later "share could we cottage cunning a for." She asked a groundskeeper what was doing on, and he said, "Oh, that's Ira Gershwin's grave. He's decomposing."

If you have a question about words or writing, send it to Old Stuff and Nonsense (



Author June Weltman will be teaching two eight-week adult education classes on Writing Mysteries for Children and Teens in Jacksonville this fall. She is the author of Mystery of the Missing Candlestick, a mystery for children ages 9-13 that won a special award from the Florida Historical Society. The story is set in St. Augustine.

Classes at Mandarin High School will be held from 7-9 p.m. on Thursdays, starting Sept. 11. For information about registering, call Kathy Cook at 904.260.3911, Ext. 207, or visit:

The University of North Florida LEARN Program will offer the class from 6:30-8:30 p.m., starting Wednesday, Oct. 1. For information, call 904.620.4200 or visit: <> .

Weltman is a former reporter and a freelance writer and editor.

She will be presenting a session on "Kids' Mysteries: Pushing New Edges" at the annual conference of the Florida Reading Association Sept. 5 in Orlando. Last year, Weltman spoke on "Kid Detectives: What's New? What's Cool?" at the annual meeting of the Florida Association for Media in Education. An article she wrote appeared in the April 2008 issue of the Florida English Journal.

She will be among more than 40 authors, including a number of Jacksonville authors, who will be speaking at the first annual Florida Heritage Book Festival on Sept. 12-13 in St. Augustine. As part of the festival, she and other children's authors will be visiting area schools on Sept. 12. ( <> )

For information about Weltman, visit <> .




A tongue-in-cheek title for one book is Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend (Prometheus Books, October, 2007). That easy-to-understand and sometimes funny book will be the subject of a talk given for Book TV. It will describe the scientific breakthroughs that help us to better understand deceitful, manipulative, and outright mean behavior.

This has important interdisciplinary applications to psychology, ethics, politics, sociology, history, journalism, nursing, social work, and even business. The speaker and author of material on negative behavior is Asst. Professor Barbara Oakley. She says that Warren Buffett helped her with the part of the book about him-he's one of the book's few good guys.

You may watch the show online now at <> or just go to <> and search for author Barbara Oakley.

The author will be speaking at Binghamton (N.Y.) University on Sept. 5; near Cleveland, Ohio, on Nov. 12; and in Santa Barbara on May 16, 2009. Other talks are planned in New York City, Austin, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, Tucson, Flagstaff, Bakersfield, Ann Arbor, and elsewhere (check her website at



The pleasure of reading is doubled when one lives with another who shares the same books. - Katherine Mansfield


Writers born in September

1--Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875) and Blaise Cendrars (1887); 2--Paul Bourget (1852) and Allen Drury (1918); 3--Karl von Bonstetten (1745), Edwin Honig (1919), and Alison Luurie (1926); 4--Phoebe Cary (1824), Antonin Artaud (1896), Mary Renault (1905), Richard Wright (1908), Paul Harvey (1918);

5--H. D. (Hilda Doolittle) (1886) and Frank Yerby (1916); 6--Robert Pirsig (1928); 7--Willem Bilderdijk (1756), Tristan Bernard (1866), Edith Sitwell (1887), and Taylor Caldwell (1900); 8--Ludovico Ariosto (1474), Siegfried Sassoon (1886), and Ann Beattie (1947); 9--Clemens Brentano (1778), Leo Tolstoy (1828), and Mary Austin (1868);

10--Giuseppe Gioacchino Belli (1791), Ian Fleming (1888), Georges Bataille (1897), Cyril Connolly (1903), and Brother Antonius (William Everson) (1912); 11--Joanna Baillie (1762), O. Henry (1862) and D. H. Lawrence (1885); 12--Julien Auguste Pélage Brizeux (1803), H. L. Mencken (1880), Louis MacNeice (1907), and Michael Ondaatje (1943); 13--Nicholaas Beets (1814), Otakar Brezina (Vaclav I. Jebavy) (1868), Sherwood Anderson (1876), John Malcolm Brinnin (1916), and Roald Dahl (1916); 14--Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa (1486) and Ivan Klima (1931);

15--James Fenimore Cooper (1789), Petr Bezruc (Vladimir Vasek) (1867), Robert Benchley (1889), Agatha Christie (1890), and Claude McKay (1890); 16--Thomas Barnes (1785), Orestes Augustus Brownson (1803), Gwen Bristow (1893), and Henry Louis Gates Jr. (1950); 17--Émile Augier (1820), William Carlos Williams (1883), and Ken Kesey (1935); 19--William Golding (1911);

20--Upton Sinclair (1878), Maxwell Perkins (1884), Stevie Smith (1902); 21--H. G. Wells (1866), Leonard Cohen (1934), Stephen King (1947); 22--B. H. Brockes (1680), Ferenc Herczeg (1863), Irving Feldman (1928); 23--William Archer (1856); 24--William Evans Burton (1804), Ramón de Campoamor y Campoosorio (1817), and F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896);

25--William Lisle Bowles (1762), Felicia Dorothea Hemans (1793), and William Faulkner (1897); 26--Irving Addison Bacheller (1859), T. S. Eliot (1888), Martin Heidegger (1889), and Jane Smiley (1949); 27--Henri Frédéric Amiel (1821), William Empson (1906) and Jim Thompson (1906); 28--Rudolf Baumbach (1840) and Ellis Peters (1913);

30--Truman Capote (1924) and W.S. Merwin (1927).



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, Sept. 13, 2 p.m.; NORTH FLORIDA WRITERS; Webb Wesconnett Library;> OTHER EVENTS OF INTEREST TO OUR WRITERS: Sept. 12 - 13; FLORIDA HERITAGE BOOK FESTIVAL; Casa Monica Hotel and Flagler College, St. Augustine; panel discussions, author presentations, poetry read/workshop, children's events; Deadline for book submission: April 15; full information at Interesting site! Oct. 3 - 5; AMELIA ISLAND BOOK FESTIVAL; ________________________________ MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION FOR N. FLORIDA WRITERS 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. Name___________________________________________ _____________ St. address_________________________________ Apt. No. ____________ City ______________________________State _____ Zip ______________ E-mail address: __________________________________ _____________ ________________________________