Writing News for the Sunshine State & the Solar System

Editor: Howard Denson

April 2017




Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.


—Mark Twain


In this issue:


Stuff (and links) from hither and yon:


1.      George Saunders: what writers really do when they write

2.      Is this German novel the deadliest book in history?

3.      Making poetry their own: the evolution of poetry education

4.      Deaths of the Poets review: A superficial take on ‘self-destructive’ poets

5.      When language can cure what ails you

6.      Old English Words & Anglo-Saxon Worldviews

7.      The Women Behind Famous Male Writers


Amy Quincy Wins Book Island Literary Award

No April meeting for NFW, but Rodney Hurst will discuss his writing projects on May 13

 Book Mark to welcome Karen White, Steve Berry, Wendy Wax, Ace Atkins, Frank Green, Daniel Waller, Ann Kidd Taylor, and Adm. James Stavridis

Clay Writers to hear Richard Preston speak about writing books

Amelia Writers to hear about uses and abuses of copyright law

FWA blog for Northeast Florida


REGULAR POSTINGS: Writers Born This Month . . . Keep up with the NFW on our Facebook page . . . Meetings of NFW and Other Groups . . . Useful Links . . . Need someone to critique a manuscript? . . . The Write Staff






Click on the links below to read each article.


George Saunders: what writers

really do when they write


A series of instincts, thousands of tiny adjustments, hundreds of drafts … What is the mysterious process writers go through to get an idea on to the page?  Saunders says: “As text is revised, it becomes more specific and embodied in the particular. It becomes more sane. It becomes less hyperbolic, sentimental, and misleading. It loses its ability to create a propagandistic fog. Falsehoods get squeezed out of it, lazy assertions stand up, naked and blushing, and rush out of the room.”


Is this German novel

the deadliest

book in history?


Sean Braswell writes about THE SORROW OF YOUNG WERTHER by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. When it was published two years before Americans were signing the Declaration of Independence, it captured the sensibilities of Europeans. A young man’s beloved marries someone else, and he suffers, and suffers, until he commits suicide. The poignant story allegedly encouraged many a romantic to off himself . . . although the frequency of this drastic case may have been an example of an urban legend.


Making poetry their own:

the evolution of

poetry education


Laura Apol of Michigan State traces how poetry was routinely included in schools in past centuries (and millennia). It was used to teach history, patriotism, spelling, and mathematics. In the mid-20th Century, a shift began occurring, really thanks to the after-effects of Sputnik, until finally the curricula hardly included it. Later, a greater awareness of diversity kicked in, and poetry returned with many different voices.


Deaths of the Poets review:

A superficial take

on ‘self-destructive’ poets


Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts have written a big book DEATH OF THE POETS, but the only substantial thing about it seems to be its size, according to a review in The Irish Times. Their book’s explorations into fatal self-destruction focuses on Phillip Larkin, Dylan Thomas, Thom Gunn, Robert Frost, John Clare, W.H. Auden, Thomas Chatterton, among many others.


When language

can cure

what ails you


An endless battle goes on among disciplines about what is the most effective treatment for certain diseases or conditions. Some scoff at 12-step programs (“cult-like”). Others bemoan any excessive reliance on drugs to treat conditions growing out of chemicals. So . . . ?


Old English Words

& Anglo-Saxon



Language can be a window to culture: by studying Old English words, we can get an insight into how the Anglo-Saxons saw the world around them. This blog post considers Old English words for fingers, pigs, old age and anger. All word clouds were made with Information about Old English words is taken from the Thesaurus of Old English.


The women behind

famous male writers


Many significant others of famous writers have played important roles in the writing of novels, poetry collections, plays, memoirs, etc. This article focuses on the famous Russians, plus Dickens, Twain, and Fitzgerald.






The winner of the 2017 Book Island Literary Award is Jacksonville resident Amy Quincy, who received the honor for her book MISADVENTURES OF A HAPPY HEART: A MEMOIR OF LIFE BEYOND DISABILITY.

 The Amelia Island Book Festival (AIBF) created the Book Island Literary Award to recognize an author for an outstanding book with a distinctive voice, compelling story, originality and well-crafted writing, which exemplifies the values of reading and promoting literacy. Ms. Quincy accepted the award at the Author Face-Off Gala Dinner.

Ms. Quincy suffered a severe brain hemorrhage in her 30s, and, despite the life-altering effects, she eventually returned to her first passion – writing. The result, according to many readers, was to produce an unflinching memoir, stripped bare of pretense.

 “The author takes the subject of her daily life and treats it with equal doses of humor and reality,” one judge commented. “And this isn't a fairy tale. The reader sees the bumps and bruises of each character. The writer's keen sense of humor comes through without going over the top.”

 Judges described it as engaging, eloquent, with an authentic narrative voice – and “very, very funny.” “I laughed out loud and also cried,” one reviewer said. Other comments included: “It grabs the reader by his or her emotions.” “…a brave and well-told tale…” “…so eloquent in her observations…” “…definitely causes the reader to rethink her own life. Yet the book does not get maudlin or sappy about the writer's everyday adaptations to just living.”

 Raffaela Marie Fenn, AIBF president, said, “We were so delighted to have the opportunity to get acquainted with Amy and congratulate her in person at the gala. Her personality matches her captivating writing style. Her book touched the judges as it did many of us non-judges who have read it.”

 The festival was impressed by the quality of many of the books submitted for the first-ever award. “We were glad to see the level of excellence that the entries represented,” Ms. Fenn said.

Books are judged by a panel invited by the Festival Award Committee, including authors, speakers, educators and others with credentials and experience in evaluating writing and books.

Information about when the festival will begin accepting entries for the 2018 Book Island Literary Award will be announced later this spring. For ongoing news and updates about this and other festival events, visit the website at




No meeting is scheduled for the North Florida Writers in April, but the NFW will hear Rodney L. Hurst on Saturday, May 13. Hurst is the author of IT WAS NEVER ABOUT A HOTDOG AND A COKE and UNLESS WE TELL IT…IT NEVER GETS TOLD . The talk will be in the meeting room of the Riverside-Avondale Watson Realty branch (on the corner of Herschel and San Juan). The meeting will start at 1 p.m.

 Hurst is a civil rights activist, a Black historian, and the author of two award-winning books. His first book was a personal account of the 1960 sit-in demonstrations and Ax Handle Saturday in Jacksonville. His book recounts with clarity the segregated civic, the segregated political, and the segregated educational climate of Jacksonville in the 1950’s and the 1960’s. The Jacksonville native was sixteen years old when he was president of the Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP and one of the leaders of the 1960 Jacksonville sit-in demonstrations. The book tells the real history of the bloody events of August 27, 1960, when 200 whites with ax handles and baseball bats attacked members of the Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP who were demonstrating peaceably at White lunch counters in downtown Jacksonville; and also attacked anyone Black in downtown Jacksonville. The book won more than a dozen awards, including the USA Book News Book First Place Gold Medal Award for Multi-Cultural Nonfiction, the Florida Book Awards Bronze Medal in Nonfiction, and the First Annual Stetson Kennedy Award from the Florida Historical Society.

 Hurst’s second book, published in January 2016, relates stories of notable Blacks of Jacksonville who impacted this city and the country, relates stories of America’s Black History, and of the historical fight against Racism. It was recently honored as one of five finalists for the 2016 Multicultural Non-Fiction Award by the National Best Books Awards national book competition, and is the recipient of the 2017 City of Jacksonville Historical Preservation Award.

 Hurst speaks extensively on Civil Rights, Black History, and Racism, and is the recipient of numerous recognitions and awards. He was the keynote speaker for the Baptist Ministers’ 2016 Martin Luther King Breakfast in Jacksonville…the keynote speaker for the 2010 City of Jacksonville Dr. Martin Luther King Breakfast… the keynote speaker for the 2014 Nassau County Branch of the NAACP Dr. Martin Luther King Breakfast…and the keynote speaker for the 2013 Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

 In addition to his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, Hurst served two four-year terms on the Jacksonville City Council, and is responsible for a number of “firsts” in the Jacksonville Community: He is one of the original thirteen national recipients of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Television Fellowships, the first Black to co-host a television talk show in Jacksonville on PBS Channel WJCT, the first Black to serve as the Executive Director of the State of Florida’s Construction Industry Licensing Board, and the first Black male hired at Prudential’s South Central Home Office.

Hurst and his late wife Ann (June 24, 1945-September 5, 2016) would have celebrated their Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary on December 10, 2016. Hurst has two sons, Rodney (Vandlyn) and Todd, and two granddaughters, Marquiette, and Jasmine. He worships at St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church and Bethel Baptist Institutional Church.

 The meeting will also feature critiquing.

Members have voted on two measures important to the organization:

 First, they reinstated dues, but at a reduced rate of $20 a year (for all previous categories). The dues will begin with the 2017 calendar year.

 Second, the NFW decided to go from quarterly meetings to six meetings a year beginning in 2017: January, March, May, July, September, and November.








Owner Rona Brinlee says that in the upcoming weeks the BookMark will host Karen White, Steve Berry, Wendy Wax, Ace Atkins, Frank Green, Daniel Waller, Ann Kidd Taylor, and Adm. Stavridis. The BookMark is located at 220 1st St., Neptune Beach 32266.

 Karen White, THE NIGHT THE LIGHTS WENT OUT (Berkley), Thursday, April 20, 7 p.m.

 Recently divorced, Merilee Talbot Dunlap moves with her two children to the Atlanta suburb of Sweet Apple, Georgia.  It's a place where reserved old-timers such as town matriarch Sugar Prescott co-exist uneasily with wealthy school moms in their tennis whites and shiny SUVs, epitomized by Heather Blackford.  Merilee knows that no life is perfect, especially her own.  But all three women will be shocked by just how dangerous deceptive appearances can be.

 Steve Berry, THE LOST ORDER (Minotaur Books), Friday, April 28, 7 p.m.

 Berry has a knack for finding obscure yet fascinating historical details and fashioning them into fast-moving novels. This one revolves around a real-life secret society that most people have never heard of: the Knights of the Golden Circle, a nineteenth-century group that wanted to encircle Mexico and other Latin American countries and make them part of the U.S. as slave states. Though that didn't work out, the group buried great gobs of Confederate gold across the country. Both the Knights' endurance into modern times and the lure of the gold are the fictional plot points on which this thriller hinges, although there is also plenty about D.C. skullduggery, faithless wives, and feckless public servants. This is Cotton Malone's 12th appearance, this time with a Civil War era ancestor connecting past parts of the story with the present.

 Wendy Wax, ONE GOOD THING (Berkley Books), Thursday, May 4, 7 p.m.

 Embroiled in a battle to regain control of their renovation-turned-reality TV show, Do Over, Maddie, Avery, Nikki, and Kyra find themselves holding tight to the frayed ends of their friendship and relationships. Maddie must face the realities of dating a rock star once again topping the charts and dealing with her hapless ex-husband, while Avery is caught up in family drama even as she attempts to transform a tiny cottage into a home for the newly impoverished heiress who helped bankroll their last renovation. Put on bed rest, a hugely pregnant Nikki can't quite believe love can last, or trust in her own maternal instinct. And Kyra, who has secretly put Bella Flora at risk in an attempt to salvage Do Over, must decide whether to accept a desperately needed bail out from her son's famous father that comes with far too many strings attached.  But friendship is made for times like these, to keep each other--and their dreams--from crumbling.

  Ace Atkins, ROBERT B. PARKER'S LITTLE WHITE LIES (G.P. Putnam's Sons), Sunday, May 7, 3 p.m.

 In Atkins' sixth Spenser novel, therapist Susan Silverman refers patient Connie Kelly to Spenser after learning that Connie was victimized by a con man calling himself M. Brook Welles. A popular cable news talking head on national security issues, he told her he worked for the CIA. While professing his undying love for Connie, Welles scammed her out of almost $300,000 in a bogus real estate deal. Spenser quickly ascertains that most of what Welles has presented as his biography, including a Harvard education, is fabricated. After following the trail to a shady gun dealer, the detective finds it necessary to enlist his deadly sidekick, Hawk, to help track down the truth. Some interesting tension arises because Susan feels responsible for Spenser's involvement in the increasingly perilous case, while her professional ethics constrain her from giving him important information. 

 In addition to writing Robert B. Parker mysteries, Ace Atkins also writes his own Quinn Colson novels (most recently, THE INNOCENTS).

Frank Green, Steve Berry and more, WEDNESDAYS WITH FRANK: A PANEGYRIC (Cypress Publications), Friday, May 12, 7 p.m.

 F. Armstrong Green has a love affair with the Word. His pursuit of well-crafted writing has led him through the slush piles of The Sewanee Review to the home of Katherine Anne Porter to the mentorship of The Bard Society, a writers' workshop that has lasted for five decades. 

 In WEDNESDAYS WITH FRANK, Bard Society members share their memories of a man who was instrumental in their maturation as writers. Week-after-week, year-after-year, writers who have made a commitment to the written word and have brought their stories to the workshop in an uncompromising effort to learn the craft of fiction have found their commitment and effort paid off by becoming not only published, as many have become, but also have found themselves recognized for literary accomplishments and on national and international bestseller lists.

 The reader of these reminiscences by authors, including Steve Berry, Lenore Hart, Sohrab Homi Fracis and more, will not only come away with valuable tips on writing, but also will discover the depths of a man--a mentor, a leader, and an abiding friend.

 Story Time with Miss Pat, Saturday, May 13, 9 a.m.

 This monthly tradition keeps getting more and more popular, and for good reasons. Miss Pat has a way of capturing the attention and imagination of her young listeners (and their adult friends).  Don't's the second Saturday of each month.


Daniel Wallace, EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES (St. Martin's Press), Friday, June 2, 7 p.m.

The bestselling author of BIG FISH and MR. SEBASTIAN AND THE NEGRO MAGICIAN offers a  new treat.  Edsel Bronfman works as a junior executive shipping clerk for an importer of Korean flatware. He lives in a seedy neighborhood and spends his free time with his spirited mother. Things happen to other people, and Bronfman knows it. Until, that is, he gets a call from operator 61217 telling him that he's won a free weekend at a beachfront condo in Destin, Florida. But there's a catch: the offer is intended for a couple, and Bronfman has only seventy-nine days to find someone to take with him.  The phone call jolts Bronfman into motion, initiating a series of truly extraordinary adventures as he sets out to find a companion for his weekend getaway. Open at last to the possibilities of life, Bronfman now believes that anything can happen. And it does.

 Ann Kidd Taylor, THE SHARK CLUB (Viking), Monday, June 12, 7 p.m.

 This debut novel about love, loss, and sharks is by New York Times bestselling co-author of TRAVELING WITH POMEGRANATES (written with her mother, Sue Monk Kidd). Attacked by a Black Tip shark when she was 12 (on the same memorable day of her first kiss), Maeve Donnelly is now a famed marine biologist. But she's not so adept socially, which her rotten brother is about to reveal in a novel based on her stumbling love life.

 Admiral James Stavridis, SEA POWER: THE HISTORY AND GEOPOLITICS OF THE WORLD'S OCEANS (Penguin Press), Thursday, June 15, 7 p.m.


 From one of the most admired admirals of his generation -- and the only admiral to serve as Supreme Allied Commander at NATO -- comes a remarkable voyage through all of the world's most important bodies of water, providing the story of naval power as a driver of human history and a crucial element in our current geopolitical path. From the time of the Greeks and the Persians clashing in the Mediterranean, sea power has determined world power. To an extent that is often underappreciated, it still does.  When most of us look at a globe, we focus on the shape of the seven continents. Admiral Stavridis sees the shapes of the seven seas.






The Clay County Writers will present Richard Preston speaking on “So You Want to Write a Book: 5 Things You Need to Know to Be Successful.” The talk will be at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, in the meeting room of the Orange Park Public Library (2054 Plainfield Ave., Orange Park, behind the Dairy Queen on Kingsley Ave.). This meeting is free and open to all.

 Since Preston’s book, SERENITY GRANTED, came out last year, his life has been a series of presentations, media interviews, and community events around his addiction/recovery story. Find out his secrets about:

·         How he wrote his book.

·         How to plan a book and get started.

·         Deciding whether to self-publish.

·         Book marketing.


He discusses how to approach your story, produce a quality book, and connect with the people you need to reach to keep your sales humming briskly along from Day 1. Born in Jacksonville, he discovered alcohol at age six. Although named “Most Likely to Succeed” in high school, addiction, anger, and aggression hobbled his dreams for 35 years, With raw honesty, he recounts his wild ride down a super highway of self-destruction, a journey punctuated with bottles of Miller High Life, stays in correctional facilities, and attempts at suicide. Then fate stepped in. A brother’s love combined with the stroke of a judge’s pen delivered Richard to a different path. He found himself in the realm of serenity, where peace, faith, and connection, make everything possible. Learn more at

 Clay County Writers is sponsored by Florida Writers Association. Get the details at Monthly meetings focus on the art, craft, and business of writing. Some meetings offer presentations by author-speakers. Others introduce practical exercises to help writers sharpen their skills, give and receive feedback, and leave with concrete ideas to improve their work. To seek more information, call (904) 298-5714 or use this email address,


You may also keep up with Clay Writers on Facebook at .






Writers by the Sea (WBTS) will hear Jacksonville attorney, Deborah Reid, on the Uses and Abuses of Copyright and Trademark Law at their April 20 meeting at the Amelia Island Museum of History. The meeting will have introductions from 6 until 6:30 p.m., when Ms. Reid will talk.

 With art work recently on display at the Kingsley Plantation, in Jacksonville, Ms Reid is clearly just as comfortable presenting the intricacies of legal challenges and she is in displaying her art. (

 Ms Reid is also an artist who recently unveiled her work entitled, “Underground Railroad 9 Patch.” In her law practice, she serves “the Arts and its innovators”. Reach her there, at: (904) 742-2697 or

 Writers by the Sea is the Amelia Island Chapter of the Florida Writers Association.






You may go to the FWA blog and check out meetings of the River City Writers, the Clay County Writers, Writers by the Sea, the Ancient City Writers, and the Ponte Vedra Writers.

 For more information, contact Vic DiGenti, FWA Regional Director, at or






To check out the names of writers who were born this month, go to this website:

.The list includes novelists, poets, playwrights, nonfiction authors, writers for the small and silver screen, and others.

 There is an easier way to scan a calendar and keep up with who was born on particular days. Purchase a copy of HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AUTHORS: FINDING YOUR PLACE AMONG WRITERS from Amazon or Barnes & Noble websites:

.If you see that we have omitted a writer, give us his or her name (and preferably a way to verify the belly-button day).




Writers, poets, and playwrights will find useful tools at





You may join us at any time on Facebook. Webmeister Richard Levine has changed our privacy setting from Closed to Public. That way, you can check out our group at your leisure.

To begin, click on:





If you have a finished manuscript that you want critiqued or proofread, then look for someone at

 Check out their entries on the website to see if they suit your needs. Individuals establish their own rates. Neither the NFW nor its officers receive any compensation for referrals.

 They include the following:

 ·         Robert Blade Writing & Editing (;

·         Frank Green of The Bard Society (;

·         JJ Grindstaff-Swathwood (;

·         Brad Hall (;

·         Lynn Skapyak Harlin (;

·         Joseph Kaval (;

·         Richard Levine (,

·         Walter Schenck (




President: Howard Denson (hd3nson@hotmail. com)

Vice President: Joyce Davidson (davent2010@comcast. net)

Secretary: Kathy Marsh (kathygmarsh@bellsouth. net)

Treasurer: Richard Levine (

.Presidents Emeriti: Frank Green, Dan Murphy, Howard Denson, Nate Tolar, Joyce Davidson, Margaret Gloag, Richard Levine, Bob Alexander, JoAnn Harter Murray, Carrol Wolverton, Margie Sauls, Stewart Neal