The Electronic Write Stuff

 Writing News for the Sunshine State & the Solar System

North Florida Writers * Feb. 2007 * Editor:  Howard Denson


In this issue:

Mar. 8-11 to Feature 21st Annual Writers' Festival

Sue Monk Kidd to Speak at UNF Mar. 8

Prize-Winning Shanty Boat Workshop to Start New Series of Classes

Irish Poet Returns to Read Works at UNF Mar. 29

NFW to Meet at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10

Reminder:  A Way to Help Stage Aurora

Quote from a Writer's Quill – Seamus Heaney

Writers Born This Month: Charles Dickens, James Joyce, Ayn Rand, Kate Chopin, Toni Morrison, John Steinbeck,

and many others

Calendar of Events



When the 21st annual Florida First Coast Writers’ Festival is held March 8–11, 2007, at the Jacksonville Public Library’s Main Library Conference Center, attendees will be able to get top-notch writing advice from Janet Bevan, Regina Brooks, Rick Campbell, Camille Cline, Brian Jay Corrigan, Carmen Deedy, Dana Kleiman Garfinkel, Diane Glancy, Lenore Hart, Ann Browning Masters, Bob Mayer, Marsha Mehran, Peter Meinke, Carol O'Dell, David Poyer, Peter Rubie, Sheila Ortiz Taylor, Patricia Waters, and Jessie Wise. The library located at 303 N. Laura St. in downtown Jacksonville, Florida.  

Check the Festival webpage for information:

This Festival will offer a special master in fiction, to be conducted by novelists Dave Poyer and Lenore Hart. Attendance is limited to the first seven registrants.

For regular Festival Registration, go to the website and download the PDF registration form.  It can be faxed to Sara Turner at 904.713.4858, or mailed to: Writers’ Festival Registrations, 4501 Capper Road, Jacksonville, FL 32218, ATTN Sara Turner. Note: PDF files require Adobe Reader software. Download the free Adobe Reader from Adobe’s Web site.

The Festival also offer online registrations and payments through its secure server.

Essentially, a complete Festival package is $300 (early bird rate) or $330 (regular).  Individual days (Friday and Saturday) are $100 (early bird) or $110 (regular), with Sunday being $80 (early bird) or $90.  The Friday evening banquet will be $45 (early bird) or $55 (regular).

Sue Monk Kidd to Speak at UNF Mar. 8

Best-selling novelist Sue Monk Kidd (The Secret Life of Bees) has been selected by the Friends of the Library-Ponte Vedra Beach for the 2007 Major Author Program. She will speak Thursday, Mar. 8, at the University of North Florida’s Fine Arts Center Lazzara Theatre.

      In celebration of The Secret Life of Bees, the Friends of the Library will present four separate Bee events including a movie, a lecture on beekeeping, a book discussion, and a Southern cooking demonstration. All of the events will take place in the Community Room of the Ponte Vedra Library, 101 Library Boulevard.

The Secret Life of Bees, which spent over two years on the New York Times bestseller list, tells the story of Lily, a young girl searching for the truth about her mother. After running away from home with her black babysitter, Rosaleen, they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters named May, June, and August. Lily thinks of them as the calendar sisters and enters their mesmerizing secret world of bees and honey, and of the Black Madonna who presides over this household of strong, wise women.

      This powerful story of coming-of-age, race-relations, and the ability of love to transform our lives went on to sell more than 4.5 million copies, and has been published in more than 23 languages. Ms. Kidd second novel, The Mermaid Chair, has sold more than 1.5 million copies since its publication in 2005.

      Sue Monk Kidd was born and raised in the tiny town of Sylvester, Georgia, which is tucked among the pinelands and red fields of Southwest Georgia, a place she has lovingly referred to it as “an enduring somewhere.” Her writing has been deeply influenced by place, and she mined her experiences of growing up in Sylvester as she wrote The Secret Life of Bees, her first novel.

Ms. Kidd’s presentation at the Lazzara Theatre will be preceded by a patron’s backstage reception with the author. The price for the patron’s reception, which includes food, wine and preferred seating for the presentation, is $60 for FOL-Ponte Vedra members and $80 for non-members. General seating for the event without the reception is $20 for FOL-Ponte Vedra members and $30 for non-members. There will be a book signing immediately after the presentation.

Invitations to FOL members will go out shortly, and tickets will be available for purchase through Seymour’s Bookstore at the library by the end of January. Visit the FOL website, for more details.

Prize-winning Shanty Boat workshop to start new series of classes

       A writing workshop on a shanty boat docked on the Trout River is beginning a new series of classes in February, according to freelance writer and editor of Closet Books, Lynn Skapyak Harlin, leader of the workshop. 

       Shanty Boat Writers Workshop is designed for beginning writers who would like to learn new techniques, or seasoned writers who would like to refresh these skills to improve their writing. Fiction and nonfiction writers are welcome. Topics include Creating believable characters, Tips for Improving Dialogue, Elements of Plot, How 'Show rather than Tell' works toward clarity in all forms of writing, and many other writing and submission tips.

       Members of recent classes have won awards in the contests of the Florida First Coast Writers' Festival and other national awards. 

       The evening session meets every Wednesday from 6 to 9, starting Feb. 21, 2007, and the cost of the workshop (limited to 10 students) is $100 for six weeks.  

       Before attending, all new workshop writers must write and submit an introductory essay according to workshop guidelines.

       For more information on day sessions forming or to reserve a space, call Ms. Skapyak Harlin at 778-8000 or e-mail her at



     Eavan Boland, one of the greatest and most influential poets of our time, was among the first Irish poets to visit the University of North Florida when she read and lectured there ten years ago.  The Irish Studies Program and the UNF Women’s Center have arranged a return trip for Mar. 29, when she will present a reading from her poems at 7:30 p.m. in the Robinson Theater.

    On the basis of a publishing career which began 45 years ago, when she self-published 23 Poems (1962) at age 18, Eavan Boland is now recognized, as Booklist says, as “A poet at the peak of her power . . . one of Ireland’s greatest [poets] and among the best writing in English anywhere.”  The trajectory of her writing career has been defined by her nine volumes of poems (with a tenth coming out this March), plus editions of selected and collected poems, plus a recent volume of poems translated from the work of German-speaking women poets (After Every War), plus—with co-authors—a study of W.B. Yeats and The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms

    Dr. Richard Bizot, Irish Studies director, said her memoir, Object Lessons: The Life of the Woman and the Poet in Our Time (1995), is a ground-breaking, seminal study of poetry in general and of poetry by women in particular.  Mark Strand, celebrated North American poet, calls Object Lessons “the most perceptive account that I have read of what it means to be a woman writing poetry in the late twentieth century.  Its claims for the restorative power of lyric poetry are absolutely convincing.  It is a beautiful book whose esthetic and moral purposes are clear without ever seeming overly simple or dogmatic.  Object Lessons is one of those rare books in which power and elegance are inextricable.”

    Eavan Boland is the youngest of five children born to Frances J. Kelly, an accomplished and successful Paris-trained painter, and Frederick H. Boland, who served as Ireland’s first ambassador to England (1950-56) and then as Ireland’s first Permanent Representative to the United Nations (1956-1963, except when he served a term as President of the U.N. General Assembly).  Most of Eavan Boland’s childhood, consequently, was spent outside Ireland, first in London, then in New York.  Her orientation as a poet and critic, not surprisingly, is both Irish and internationalist–and so, too, are her accomplishments–and so, too, is the acclaim for her writing.

    She is currently both the Bella Mabury and Eloise Mabury Knapp Professor in Humanities and the Melvin and Bill Lane Professor for the Director of the Creative Writing Program at Stanford University, where she has taught since 1995.  She has also been the Hurst Professor at Washington University, Regent’s Lecturer at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and writer in residence at Trinity College, Dublin and University College Dublin.

    She has won many awards, including the Lannan Foundation Award in Poetry, an American Ireland Fund Literary Award, the Corrington Medal for Literary Excellence, the Bucknell Medal of Distinction, the Smartt Family Prize from the Yale Review, and the John Frederick Nims Award from Poetry magazine.  Her poems appear frequently in journals such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Shenandoah, The Kenyon Review, The American Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland, The Paris Review, The Irish University Review, PN Review and The New Republic.  She is on the board of the Irish Arts Council and a member of the Irish Academy of Letters.

    During her visit to UNF, Boland will meet for question-and-answer sessions with students in two Spring 2006 classes which are studying her work: Introduction to Irish Literature and Culture and a seminar, Eavan Boland and Her Sisters (in which students will read all of her work plus samples of the work by other contemporary Irish women poets).  Students in several area high schools are also reading Boland’s poetry this term and have been invited to attend her reading on the evening of Mar. 29. 




 The North Florida Writers will meet at the Webb Westconnett Library at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10.  The library is located at the corner of 103rd Street and Harlow Boulevard.



Don't forget that Google has come up with a way for search engines to benefit various groups, and we’re suggesting that you bookmark GoodSearch so that, every time you need to search for something on the web, Stage Aurora Theatrical Company would receive something.  Go to GoodSearch and type in “Stage Aurora” for the group where it asks, “Who do you GoodSearch for?”

Stage Aurora presents plays, musicals, and other performances, with an emphasis on African-American themes.  For tickets to their next performance (“Miss Evers’ Boys”), go to this website:




Writing poetry involves luck, skill, dedication, patience, and disappointment. The poet throws the bait of his experience into the sea of language and waits and works for the right collection of words to attach themselves to it.

        --Seamus Heaney



1--James A. Herne (1840), Langston Hughes (1902), S. J. Perelman (1904), Muriel Spark (1918), Galway Kinnell (1927), Reynolds Price (1933); 2--James Joyce (1882), Ayn Rand (1905), and James Dickey (1923); 3--Abel Hermant (1862), Gertrude Stein (1874), Richard Yates (1926), Paul Auster (1947); 4--William Harrison Ainsworth (1805), E. J. Pratt (1883), Ugo Betti (1892), and Robert Coover (1932);

5--Margaret Millar (1915); 7--Charles Dickens (1812) and Sinclair Lewis (1885); 8--Samuel Butler (1612), Charles Jean François Hénault (1685), Jules Verne (1828), Kate Chopin (1851), Henry Roth (1906), Elizabeth Bishop (1911), Neal Cassady (1926); 9--George Ade (1866), Brendan Behan (1923) and Alice Walker (1944);

10--Charles Lamb (1775), Boris Pasternak (1890), Bertolt Brecht (1898); 11--Marie Joseph Chénier (1764), Lydia Maria Child (1802), Roy Fuller (1912), and Sidney Sheldon (1917); 12--Abraham Lincoln (1809), Alan Dugan (1923), and Judy Blume (1938); 13--Julius H. M. Busch (1821) and Georges Simenon (1903); 14--Richard Owen Cambridge (1717);

15--Johann Jakob Wilhelm Heinse (1746), Jens Immanuel Baggesen (1764), Joseph Hergesheimer (1880), and Matt Groening (1954); 16--Henry B. Adams (1838) and Richard Ford (1944); 17--Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (1836), Margaret Truman (1924), and Ruth Rendell (1930); 18--Wallace Stegner (1909), A. R. Ammons (1926), Len Deighton (1929), Toni Morrison (1931), Andre Lorde (1934), Jean Auel (1936), and Lenore (Elisabeth Graves) Hart (1953); 19--Kay Boyle (1902), Carson McCullers (1917), and Amy Tan (1952);

20--William Carleton (1794), Pieter Cornelis Boutens (1870), and Georges Bernanos (1888); 21--AnaVs Nin (1903), Raymond Queneau (1903), W. H. Auden (1907), Erma Bombeck (1927), and Kevin Robinson (1951); 22--George Washington (1732), Sarah Adams (1805), Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892), Jane Bowles (1917), and Edward Gorey (1925); 23--Samuel Pepys (1633), W.E.B. Du Bois (1868), David Wright (1920), and Don L. Lee (1942); 24--Charles de Bernard (1804), Arrigo Boito (1842), Teófilo Braga (1843), and Daryl Hine (1936);

25--Frank G. Slaughter (1908) and Anthony Burgess (1917); 26--Victor Hugo (1802); 27--Johan van Heemskerk (1597), John Steinbeck (1902), Lawrence Durrell (1912), Irwin Shaw (1913), and Kenneth Koch (1925); 28--Stephen Spender (1909)



Meetings of NFW are held at 2 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month in the meeting room of the Webb Westconnett Library (corner of 103rd Street and Harlow Boulevard). Check the website at for other information.

Sat., Feb. 10, 2 p.m.  Critiques

You may receive feedback from specific individuals by mailing the manuscript and return postage to the above address.

Past speakers have included novelists Jack Hunter, David Poyer, Page Edwards, Ruth Coe Chambers, William Kerr, Tom Lashley, Vic DiGenti, and Nate Tolar; poets, William Slaughter, Mary Baron, Mary Sue Koeppel, Dorothy Fletcher, George Gilpatrick, John Hammond; columnists Vic Smith, Tom Ivines, and Robert Blade; editors Buford Brinlee and Nan Ramey; agent Debbie Fine; magazine editor Sara Summers; medical writers Elizabeth Tate and Michael Pranzatelli; oral historian Robert Gentry; plus many others.



The Write Staff:  Richard Levine, President (; Carrol Wolverton, Vice President (; Kathy Marsh, Secretary (; Howard Denson, Treasurer and newsletter editor (; Joel Young, Public Relations (; Doris Cass, Hospitality (

Presidents Emeritus:  Frank Green, Dan Murphy, Howard Denson, Nate Tolar, Joyce Davidson (, Margaret Gloag (, Richard Levine, Bob Alexander, Jo Ann Harter, Carrol Wolverton

Newsletter address: The Write Stuff, FCCJ North, Box 21, 4501 Capper Rd., Jacksonville, FL 32218

Homepage address:

Homepage editor: Richard Levine

Submissions to the newsletter should generally be about writing or publishing. We pay in copies to the contributors, with modest compensation for postage and copying.



If you are writing a story or poem, you will need some expert feedback -- the sort that you will receive at a meeting of the North Florida Writers.  You won't profit from automatic praise that a close friend or relative might give or jealous criticism from others who may feel threatened by your writing.

The NFW specializes in CONSTRUCTIVE feedback that will enable your manuscript to stand on its own two feet and demand that it be accepted by an editor or agent. Hence, you need the NFW. The North Florida Writers is a writer's best friend because we help members to rid manuscripts of defects and to identify when a work is exciting and captivating.

If you want to check to see if your dues are current, contact the treasurer at Membership is $15 for students, $25 for individuals, and $40 for a family. (Make out checks to WRITERS.)

Won't you join today?

The following is an application. Mail your check to WRITERS, Box 21, FCCJ North, 4501 Capper Rd., Jacksonville, FL 32218.


St. address___________________________________________

Apt. No. _____________________________________________

City ________________State _____ Zip _________________

E-mail address(es) ___________________________________




When you attend a meeting of the North Florida Writers, you eventually discover that NO ONE has ever died while his or her manuscript was being read and critiqued. You may be ready to face the ordeal yourself. . .or, reading this, you may wonder what exactly takes place during a critiquing.

First, you pitch your manuscript into a stack with others' works-in-progress. Then one of the NFW members hands out each piece to volunteer readers, taking care NOT to give you back your own manuscript to read.

Second, as the reading begins, each author is instructed NOT to identify himself or herself and especially NOT to explain or defend the work. The writer may never have heard the piece read aloud by another's voice, so the writer needs to focus on the sound of his or her sentences.

Third, at the finish of each selection, the NFW members try to offer constructive advice about how to make the story better. If a section was confusing or boring, that information may be helpful to the author.

The NFW will listen to 10 pages (double-spaced) of prose (usually a short story or a chapter).



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