·         Writing News for the Sunshine State & the Solar System

· *Oct 2010

·         Editor: Howard Denson

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In This Issue:

Want to Critique a Manuscript? Come to NFW on Saturday

A Writer's Enemy: Feeling Like a Fraud -- Bob Mayer

Mayer Offers One-Day Warrior Writer Seminar in Orlando

Poyer Reminds Fans It's Time to Pre-Order "Ghosting"

The Wrong Stuff

Stuff from Hither and Yon

Quote from a Writer's Quill – Toni Morrison

Writers Born This Month

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If you have a manuscript on which you would like some positive feedback, you need to come to the Oct. 9 meeting of the North Florida Writers. The meeting will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Webb Wesconnett Branch Library (corner of 103rd Street and Harlow Boulevard).

After brief business, the NFW will have critiques. 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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A Writer’s Enemy:
Feeling Like
A Fraud
We get paid to invent stories. How cool is that? We invent something from just our imaginations. Amazing.

So why are writers squirming masses of insecurity?

A lot of it is external: little validation, an uncertain business, isolation, bears.

But deep inside almost ever writer is this feeling that what we do, what we produce, isn’t real. That we are perpetuating a fraud on the world. That we’re ‘fooling’ everyone. We believe we got where we are via luck and contacts. When I teach Warrior Writer, the #1 fear of writers is feeling like a fraud. The word just keeps coming up, over and over.

I was sitting at an outdoor café in Denver years ago. It was a weekday lunch and I was watching all these people sharply dressed in business outfits walking by (I bought my first suit last year—sales woman said I was the easiest sale she’d ever had: I said I need a suit. She gave me one. I need a tie. Socks. Shoes. Belt. I bought it all).

I turned to the person I was with and said, “I feel like a fraud. These people are leading ‘real’ lives, and I’m living in this weird, alternate reality where I sit at home and write stories for a living.”

She turned to me and said: “Most of these men, if they knew what you’ve done and achieved in your life, they’d wish they were sitting in your chair with those experiences.”

It was a real moment of enlightenment for me. I have not led a boring life and for those of you who are self-employed, you know how difficult that is to maintain for 20 years.

How To Deal With Feeling Like A Fraud

Writers aren’t the only creative people who experience these feelings of being a fraud or concerned the world will found out they are an imposter.

Michelle Pfeiffer frets, “I still think people will find out that I’m really not very talented. I’m not very good. It’s all been a big sham.”

Kate Winslet says, “Sometimes I wake up before going off to a shoot, and I think, I can’t do this; I’m a fraud. They’re going to fire me. I’m fat. I’m ugly . . .”

It’s important to realize everyone has doubts. What’s debilitating is if you feel like you are the only one. You’re not. Studies of people who are identified as feeling like frauds range in percentage, but the overall number is high. In fact, studies show that many of the most successful people feel it the most. The higher up the ladder one goes, the greater the fear is of ‘being found out’. The higher the stakes become. The more people are watching.

And, honestly, the more people who want to see you fail. Thus those magazines at the checkout counters in supermarkets. The headlines don’t scream: "Actress Has Great Day And Loves Husband."

Doubts can be good: they can inspire you to become better. If you combine your doubt with your passion, it can motivate you to great success. Studies have shown that women who score high in the area of feeling like a fraud tend to compete harder to compensate for their doubts. Interestingly, men who scored high on feeling like a fraud, tend to avoid areas where they feel vulnerable to avoid looking bad.

There is a thing called The Imposter Syndrome. It’s when you have difficulty internalizing your accomplishments. All those things they’ve achieved: degrees, promotions, publication, best-seller lists, etc. are thrown out. The more you agree with the following statements, the higher your Imposter Syndrome:

__ I can give the impression I am more competent than I really am.

__ I often compare myself to those around me and consider them more intelligent than I am.

__ I get discouraged if I’m not the ‘best’ in an endeavor.

__ I hate being evaluated by others.

__ If someone gives me praise for something I’ve accomplished, it makes me fear that I won’t live up to his or her expectations in the future.

__ I’ve achieved my current position via luck and/or being in the right place at the right time.

__ When I think back to the past, incidents where I made mistakes or failed come more readily to mind than times when I was successful.

__ When I finish a manuscript, I usually feel like I could have done so much better.

__ When someone complements me, I feel uncomfortable.

__ I’m afraid others will find out my lack of knowledge/expertise.

__ When I start a new manuscript, I’m afraid I won’t be able to finish it, even though I’ve already finished X number of manuscripts.

__ If I’ve been successful at something, I often doubt I can do it again successfully.

__ If my agent tells me I’m going to get an offer on a book, I don’t tell anyone until the contract is actually in hand.

Women who feel like imposters tend to seek favorable comparisons with their peers.

Men who feel like imposters tend to avoid comparisons with their peers. Often, they work hard so other people won’t think them incapable or dumb. It’s called spinning your wheels faster even though you aren’t going anywhere.

People who feel like imposters are constantly judging their success against the achievements of others rather than viewing what they do as an end in itself. For writers, this can be very dangerous, because there will always be someone who is doing ‘it better’ or ‘is more successful’. I’ve seen best-selling authors fall into this trap.

A technique to fight feeling like a fraud is to use a version of my Warrior Writer HALO concept on yourself. HALO stands for High Altitude Low Opening parachuting. The technique is to start from way out, and work your way in with an open attitude to try to see things differently. Most of us see thing from our inside out. Reverse it.

When I approach a company or team where I know nothing about what they do, the HALO concept allows me to see what they’re doing very differently from the way they see it.

Basically, the HALO approach starts from way outside yourself, diving in until you can see things clearly. Step outside and view things as if you are a stranger to yourself. Look at your resume. Look at what you’ve accomplished in life. Ask yourself what kind of person would have achieved these things? Could a fraud have done this? When I query a conference to teach or apply to lead workshops or do keynotes, I have to send my bio. Sometimes I stop and read it and ask myself: what would I think of this person, if I didn’t know them, but just read this?

Focus on positive feedback. However, don’t ignore constructive negative feedback. The key is not to let the negative overwhelm you. I don’t look at Amazon reviews or rankings any more. First, you have to realize that only a certain segment of the population posts reviews on Amazons. It’s not a true sample of the population. Also, the motives for posting reviews often have nothing to do with your book.

One way of dealing with ‘feeling like a fraud’ is to internalize more of your accomplishments via real, external symbols. In the military, we always joked that everyone had a “Look At Where I’ve Been And What I’ve Done” wall in their home, covered with photos, plaques, flags, etc. Those walls serve a purpose, though. (In our A-Team room, we had to wire down all the knives, hatchets, edged weapons that were usually on the plaques because people might start using them after a few beers.)

I have all my published books in my office on the top of two bookcases, all lined up. The row is over three feet wide. I look at it sometimes to fight the feeling that I can’t write another book, that I can’t get published again.

Terry Gilliam makes a good point: “Talent is less important in film-making than patience. If you really want your films to say something that you hope is unique, then patience and stamina, thick skin and a kind of stupidity, a mule-like stupidity, is what you really need.”

You’ve got to actively work on building that tough outer shell around your creative self. Have a bizarre belief in yourself even in the face of apparent reality. You’re being bombarded with negative messages about publishing. It’s so hard. The odds are against you.

You have to believe in yourself. If you’re unpublished, walk into the bookstores and don’t let all those published authors overwhelm you. Use them to motivate you. Tell yourself you belong there. I always look and say: “Hey, these people got published, why can’t I?”

List your accomplishments. They can range from a picture of your family, degrees achieved, awards won, whatever. Put them where you write. Use them to remind yourself that you are not a fraud. YOU ARE REAL.

Mayer Offers One-Day
Warrior Writer Seminar
in Orlando Oct. 21

Bob Mayer will offer a one-day Warrior Writer Seminar at the Orlando Marriot at Lake Mary. The fee is $110 for Florida Writers Association members and $130 for non-members. For more information, go to

The seminar is designed to teach writers how to become successful authors in the new age of publishing. "We will clearly define your writing goals and why you want to achieve them. We will discover what you fear and how that fear is sabotaging you from turning your dreams into realities. We then map out a plan for success," Mayer said.

Seven hours of workshops will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:50 p.m.

The topics will include Introduction to the Warrior Writer Concept,

WHAT do you want to achieve with your writing & your career?, WHY & WHERE do you want to achieve this? Understand your CHARACTER as a writer and that of those you work with. Learn true CHANGE and how to unearth the COURAGE to change. COMMUNICATE effectively and take COMMAND of your writing career. The Current State and Future of the Publishing Business for the Writer

Mayer is the best-selling author of over 40 books. A West Point graduate, he served in the Infantry and Special Forces (Green Berets): led an Infantry platoon and then Battalion and Brigade level Reconnaissance platoons; commanded an A-Team and as a Special Forces battalion operations officer; commanded a training company, and was an instructor/writer at the JFK Special Warfare Center & School at Fort Bragg. He also served in Special Operations Western Command on a variety of classified assignments. He has been studying, practicing and teaching change, team-building, leadership and communication for over thirty years. He is the Co-Creator of Who Dares Wins Publishing. His website:<>

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David Poyer's next novel, "Ghosting," is something new for him: a nautical thriller that sails into the realm of the supernatural past Stephen King Sea and into Dean Koontz Bay.

The novel featured a murder, a storm, a guilty secret ... murderous smugglers, and a family in danger at sea. Jack, Arlen, Ric, and Haley Scales have problems as a family. Jack hopes a family cruise to Bermuda in their new sailboat will set things right. But the voyage aboard Slow Dance tests them all, with storms, lightning strikes, and finally, a violent hijacking at sea that ends in rape and murder. Some of them die, but not before realizing they loved each other more than they thought.

You may order Poyer's book through one of the private local bookstores: BookMark at<>, Chamblin Book Mine at<>, and Green Cove Springs' Historic Grounds at<>. The book will be published this November by St. Martin's Press.

Of the sailing thriller, Poyer said, "As usual the first draft went long . . . but has been pared down severely. I was in a bad mood because I had to kill off some 'good' characters, but once I got done with the 'villains' my mood was a good deal better. GHOSTING will be out in November of 2010, so you can advance order now." He says it helps your favorite authors if you pre-order since initial print runs are often sized based on the pre-orders from bookstores.

Poyer is on the faculty of Wilkes University, in Wilkes-Barre, Penn., teaching in the MA/MFA in Creative Writing program, with residencies in January and June of each year. This is a good, tough program. I mentor new novelists in that program, one on one; I have some very promising students who are finishing their first books." (For more info on that as well as his essays on writing, see Writing Tips and Advice at<>.)

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Richard Restak, M.D., "Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot: Unleashing Your Brain's Potential":

"Everyone is ignorant, only on different subjects," as Eleanor Roosevelt put it.

W.S. SAYS: Actually, as Will Rogers said.


Nathaniel Fick, "One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer":

I passed time writing in my journal before being jolted awake as the wheels [of the C-5] touched down in Spain.

W.S. SAYS: The sentence suggests that he was writing in his sleep instead of writing and nodding off.


Robert Bazell, "U.S. to apologize for STD experiments in Guatemala" (MSNBC):

The Guatemala experiments, which were conducted between 1946 and 1948, never provided any useful information and the records were hidden. They were discovered by Susan Reverby, a professor of women's studies at Wellesley College, and was posted on her website.

W. S. SAYS: "Experiments," "records," "they" -- all of the references were plural, so the final verb should have been "were" ("they. . .were").

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Booker Prize:
Britain's best lit
is divine comedy

In the United Kingdom, the Booker Prize is THE award for authors, and too often in the past the prize has been awarded to oh so serious noves. This year, the Booker Prize judges are seeing the funny side, and about time, too, says Harry Mount in "The Daily Telegraph." Read all about it at


Chuck Palahniuk in "13 writing tips" gives helpful hints to aspiring writers. For example, when you have writer's block, you may use the "egg timer" approach to get the creative juices flowing. Check it out at

Don't Believe the Hype
About Aborigines,
Yiddish, or Ebonics

Guy Deutscher’s "Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages" "has been one of the most read pieces in the paper for over a week now," says John McWhorter in "The New Republic". He says Deutscher's "book is on its way to libating readers ever eager for the seductive idea that people’s languages channel the way they think--that is, that grammar creates cultural outlooks." McWhorter puts on the brake to those accepting everything the trendy book says.

Joan Didion

Bob Thompson in "The American Scholar" recalls that he first encountered Joan Didion in 1975, when he was on a bus heading back to his apartment in Cambridge, Mass., in the middle of the night. He had picked up a paperback copy of "Slouching toward Bethlehem," her first collection of essays. Decades later, he faced the daunting task of interviewing her. See the story at

Charles Dickens:
The First Great
Travel Writer?

In "World Hum," Frank Bures digs into the legendary author's travel writing and finds some surprises at

While you are in the travel mood, check out some "fake travel quotes" at Here's a sample: “Travel ... six letters flowing like melted French Brie across two syllables” ("Columbia Daily Tribune") and "Travel is falling in love on a whirlwind adventure and not caring that they’ve worn the same underwear for the past week" (Twitter).

Of course, there were influential books of travel before Dickens. In Europe, Heinrich Heine was not only a lyrical poet, but also a satirical writer about travel. A little after Dickens, a fellow named Mark Twain made a career with travel lectures, articles, and books.

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I always know the ending; that's where I start.

-- Toni Morrison

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1--William Beckford (1760?), Ernest Haycox (1899), Tim O'Brien (1946); 2--Wallace Stevens (1870), Graham Greene (1904); 3--Fulke Greville Brooke (1554), George Bancroft (1800), Alain-Fournier (Henri Alban Fournier) (1886), Thomas Wolfe (1900), Gore Vidal (1925), James Herriot (1916), Judith Johnson Sherwin (1936); 4--Jeremias Gotthelf (Albert Bitzius) (1797), Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1837), Alvin Toffler (1928);

5--Stetson Kennedy (1916), Louise Fitzhugh (1928), Peter Ackroyd (1949); 6--Bo Hjalmar Bergman (1869), Thor Heyerdahl (1914); 7--Helen McInnes (1907), Imamu Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) (1934), Thomas Keneally (1935); 8--José de Cadalso y Vázquez (1741), PhilarPte Chasles (1798); 9--Sir Richard Blackmore (1654), Edward William Bok (1863), Bruce Catton (1899);

10--James Clavell (1924), Harold Pinter (1930); 11--Steen Steensen Blicher (1782), Elmore Leonard (1925); 13--Thomas Haynes Bayly (1797), Frank Gilroy (1925), Chris Carter (1957); 14--Katherine Mansfield (1888), E. E. Cummings (1894);

15--Isabella Lucy Bell Bishop (1831), Friedrich Nietzsche (1844), P. G. Wodehouse (1881), Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. (1917), Mario Puzo (1920), Italo Calvino (1923); 16--Oscar Wilde (1854), Eugene O'Neill (1888); 17--Sir John Bowring (1792), Georg Büchner (1813), Yvor Winters (1900), Nathanael West (1903), Arthur Miller (1915), Jimmy Breslin (1930); 18--Henri Bergson (1859), Barry Gifford (1946), Ntozake Shange (1948), Terry McMillan (1951), Rick Moody (1961); 19--Sir Thomas Browne (1605), John LeCarre (1931);

20--Karl Theodorree (1808), Arthur Rimbaud (1854), Ellery Queen co-author Frederic Dannay (1905), Art Buchwald (1925), Michael McClure (1932); 21--Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772), Ursula K. Le Guin (1929); 22--Ivan Bunin (1870), Doris Lessing (1919), Max Apple (1941); 23--Michael Crichton (1942); 24--Alban Butler (1710), Moss Hart (1904), Denise Levertov (1923);

25--Benjamin Constant (1767), John Berryman (1914), Harold Brodkey (1930), Anne Tyler (1941); 26--Andrei Bely (Boris N. Bugary), (1880), Karin Maria Boye (1900), Beryl Markham (1902), Pat Conroy (1945); 27--Hester Chapone (1727), Dylan Thomas (1914), Sylvia Plath (1932), Fran Lebowitz (1950); 28--Nicholas Brady (1659), Pío Baroja (1872), Evelyn Waugh (1903), John Hollander (1929), Anne Perry (1938); 29--James Boswell (1740);

30--Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821), Ezra Pound (1885), Rudolfo Anaya (1937); 31--Christopher Anstey (1724), John Keats (1795), Dick Francis (1920).

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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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