·         Writing News for the Sunshine State & the Solar System

· * Sept 2010

·         Editor: Howard Denson

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
In This Issue:

NFW Will Hear Private Eye on Sept. 11

Book Bloggers Will Soon be Creating the Bestseller List -- Scott Nicholson

Just the Facts, Ma'am, about FWA Chapters' News -- Vic DiGenti

The Wrong Stuff

Stuff from Hither and Yon

Quote from a Writer's Quill – Harper Lee

Writers Born This Month

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


The Sept. 11 meeting of the North Florida Writers will feature a talk by Steven Brown, a First Coast private investigator and author of The Idiot's Guide to Private Investigating. The meeting will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Webb Wesconnett Branch Library (corner of 103rd Street and Harlow Boulevard).

After the speaker's remarks, 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.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *



Writers love to give themselves labels, and bookstores love to use labels, and publishing industry types love labels. It's easier for slotting if something is "mystery," or "horror," or whatever happens to be trendy--like all the paranormal romance authors who used to be horror writers but are now writing "urban fantasy." Book bloggers also tend to have their favorites, and seek their own brands and communities through blog hops. Same stuff, different label.

No matter how trendy, most writers just want one label: "Best selling." It's practically a category of its own, and usually comes before any genre delineation, such as "best-selling romance writer" or "best-selling historian." Writers of best sellers often must cross genre boundaries to break out big enough to get the title. And it used to be easy to determine who was a best seller, because Publisher's Weekly and the New York Times told us. And book bloggers act in concert because they have taken on the role of newspapers in reviewing and promoting books. Naturally, they are going to have the same bestsellers as everyone else.

However, those numbers have never been "floor-level data." They are based on store orders, which is why books show up as bestsellers before you ever see them in the stores. It is based on units shipped more than units sold, and why a book produced, marketed, and shipped as a best seller rarely fails to be one. Even in the era of e-book bestsellers, the numbers are based on major publisher numbers and fails to account for all the independent outlets and all the books that don't even have tracking numbers. Amazon doesn't require a number for its e-books, and only the author and Amazon know how many units sold. Amazon does a great job of constantly updating data, so the actual, real-time bestseller list is based on the previous hour's sales.

I have hit #1 in the "Ghosts" category with three books, Speed Dating with the Dead, Drummer Boy and The Red Church. I've also hit #1 in the Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy list with The Red Church. Yet I hesitate to call myself a "bestseller" simply because that word has taken on loaded meaning in the industry and I feel like I would be corrupting its intent, even though it is literally true--no bestseller stays a bestseller forever, so it keeps that label merely from having once been a bestseller. Even if only for an hour. And some of the push is from the generosity of passionate book bloggers.

However, in lining up blog stops for the "90 Days of Nightmares" tour, I have started pointing out the books have hit #1--partly to overcome the perception that because these are basically self-published (through our collective press), they are somehow less legitimate and I am not a "real" author. Even though Amazon doesn't lie about such things, as far as I know!

So I use the stats, and I mention I used to publish with a "real" publisher. I promise you, based on sales and reader responses, I am more real now than I have ever been. I have been very lucky to find some passionate bloggers taking chances on indie or newer authors, without waiting to be told what is cool. I think the wheel is turning, and more and more book bloggers are going to help guide the indie ship--and, sooner or later, the indie ship is going to be the transatlantic liner. Bloggers have incredible power, and they have not yet realized it beyond the nice cases of new books that show up every week from the big publishing houses. Some, like Kindle Nation Daily, Red Adept, and Kindle Obsessed, are already riding the next wave and will become influential gatekeepers of their own.

Right now, it is still backwards--bloggers are sent new books and pretty much told what book to review when, which is why so many bloggers are reviewing and blogging about the same book at the same time. And, under the current industry system, it makes sense, because the publisher needs to push that book for a week to make room for the next bestseller. But when shelf space does not matter, and books are available 24/7 all around the world forever, a different type of ripple can form.

And that is where progressive bloggers are going to become the new gatekeepers, possibly more powerful than agents and editors (and, possibly in 5 to 10 years, more influential than the major buyers for the big chain bookstores). All it takes is a willingness to read and review a book for its own sake and with no promise of free "product" and giveaways. Bloggers, you are going to create the next generation of bestsellers! I think that is a precious gift and a beautiful service to literature. Indie bloggers will shape the indie scene in unforeseen and magical ways.

Now, time to go off and try to hit #1 again! Being a bestseller isn't what it used to be.

And book blogging hasn't even begun to be what it's going to be.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


It was a dark and humid morning when I awoke and stumbled toward my computer (only tripping over one cat in the process) to update the FWA blog. Knowing everyone is busy this holiday weekend, the post is brief and to the point. As Jack Webb used to say, "Just the facts."

When you have the time, click here<> to find out what's going on at the six regional Florida Writers Association chapters in Northeast Florida, plus a few other happenings.


Victor DiGenti
FWA Regional Director<><>

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


"Search resumes for miners feared dead" (a news wire service):

The pipe [inside the Meikle mine in northern Nevada] had apparently broke roughly near the middle of the shaft, [Barrick Gold spokesman Lou] Schack said, but the company would not speculate on what level the men were at.

W.S. SAYS: The wording suggests that the reporter may have originally jotted down the spokesman's exact words, but altered the phrases just enough so that he (or his editor) felt the quotation marks could be dropped. If so, the reporter let through a past participle error (BROKE instead of BROKEN) and ended with an informal or illiterate construction. (Old joke: Student: "Where's he at?" Teacher: "Behind the AT.")

Steve Flowers column (Aug. 27, 2010):

Never in my lifetime, nor most of yours, have we witnessed the likes of the horrific dilemma the new governor will face when he takes over the reigns of state government.

W.S. SAYS: Once again, it is time to repeat the mantra: "When it rains in Spain, the ruler who reigns mounts his horse and pulls on his reins."

Cokie Roberts, "Founding Mothers":

Then with the assistance of the men, [Georgia's Nancy] Hart took the Tories outside and hung them.


Terry Wogan, "Wogan's World" (Sunday [London] Telegraph):

I’m sure, like myself, you’ve often pondered what exotic delights with which to stretch the culinary abilities of the prison cooks, before being hung, drawn and quartered.

W.S. SAYS: Prisoners are HANGED. Pictures are hung, and we'll skip the example from below R-rated newsletters. Some trendy books may accept HUNG, so you may go ahead and use it if you don't mind irrevocably ripping the space-time continuum.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Plagiarism Lines
Blur for Students
in Digital Age

Trip Gabriel looks into the problem of students' copying and pasting text from the web and not using proper in-text citation. Gabriel says, ". . . [M]any students simply do not grasp that using words they did not write is a serious misdeed." A professor from Notre Dame argues that the age of attributions may be waning as students try out different personas. Hmm, the students can also try out the personae of "I'm someone who got an F for stealing." Review the argument at

For reporters,
the rules at Guantanamo
change daily

Carol Rosenberg writes for the McClatchy Newspapers about the Catch-22 rules at Guantanamo. To see how the rules may change from day to day (or person to person), go to

Real-life Quasimodo
uncovered in
Tate archives

With his hunched back and deformed face, Quasimodo, the tragic hero of Victor Hugo's novel The Hunch Back of Notre Dame, has always been considered a mythical creation drawn from the depths of the author's imagination, says Arts Correspondent Roya Nikkhah for the Telegraph. The memoirs of a 19th Century sculptor provided a clue. This will ring your chimes at

The Twitter Bible
Keeps It
Short and Sacred

George Carlin should be around to comment on one Brit's attempt to reduce the Bible to tweets. Theunis Bates writes about the man's quest in at

The paper book
is dead, long live
the narrative

Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of the MIT Media Lab, finds that old-fashioned books are as to outhouses and river rocks for washing laundry as e-books are to indoor plumbing. He welcomes the brave new world of "wreading" and "righting." Will it be a "wriot"? Plunge into the article at

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


In an abundant society where people have laptops, cell phones, iPods and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books.

-- Harper Lee

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


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).

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


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<>




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


President: Margie Sauls (<>)

Vice President: Richard Levine (<>)

Secretary: Kathy Marsh (<>)

Treasurer: Howard Denson (<>)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


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: __________________________________ _____________