Writing News for the Sunshine State & the Solar System
Editor: Howard Denson
August 2016

It’s possible, in a poem or short story, to write about commonplace things and objects using commonplace but precise language, and to endow those things – a chair, a window curtain, a fork, a stone, a woman’s earring – with immense, even startling power.
– Raymond Carver
In this issue:
Stuff (and links) from hither and yon

·         Ten ‘lost’ books you should read now

·         Euphemisms this; why euphemisms change so often

·         The Man Who Invented Fiction review – what we owe to Cervantes

·         Once all but left for dead, is cursive handwriting making a comeback?

The next quarterly meeting of the N.F.W. will be Aug. 13 at Avondale Watson Realty
BookMark celebrates 26th birthday; lists visiting authors
FWA blog for Northeast Florida
Clay Writers switch site temporarily to accommodate voting; will discuss positive feedback for works in progress at Penney Farms
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.

Ten ‘lost’ books

you should

read now

As the revival of lost works takes the publishing world by storm, Lucy Scholes delves into the archive to uncover the best hidden literary gems. These range from “Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea” (1928-1930) by Teffi to “All the Devils Are Here” by David Seabrook (2002).
Margaret Kay, 98;
mother whose writing
bloomed in golden years
Bryan Marquard looks at the life of a late bloomer as a writer. Margaret Kay had three marriages, three children, and focused on serious writing when she was closing in on 70.
Is fiction good for you?
How researchers
are trying to find out
It’s assumed that reading fiction is good for your mental health, but evidence linking Jane Eyre or Anna Karenina to a broadened mind has been mostly anecdotal. A psychologist-novelist delves into that issue, arguing that reading or watching narratives may encourage empathy. By exploring the inner lives of characters on the page, readers can form ideas about others’ emotions, motives, and ideas, off the page.
Euphemise this:
Why euphemisms
Change so much
John McWhorter of Columbia University notes that people change their euphemisms not quite as much as they change their underwear . . . but often enough. “Crippled” forked lightning, so “handicapped” replaced it, which, in turn, was replaced by “disabled” or “differently abled.” He also traces the evolution of names for public restrooms.
The Man Who Invented Fiction review
--what we owe to Cervantes
Daniel Hahn reviews William Egginton’s “The Man Who Invented Fiction,” which is about Miguel Cervantes and his novel “Don Quixote,” the first modern novel. The book broke all the rules and ushered in a literary form full of subjectivity and ambivalence.
Once all but left for dead,
is cursive handwriting
making a comeback?
Joe Helm in The Washington Post finds that the almost extinct cursive handwriting has managed to work its way back into the curriculum, thanks to legislation from a dozen states. Cursive enables students to write faster and often to see patterns in the syllables of words.
Mencken in the middle:
whatever side of the aisle you’re on,
H. L. Mencken is as relevant as ever.
Alas, it’s too bad that we don’t have H. L. Mencken around in 2016 as the Democrats and Republicans square off in conventions and debates online and eventually on TV. With some public critics, you find they waffle so much that they become soft walls off which balls do not bounce. Not so with Mencken. He provided a hard wall of definite perspective and opinions about excellence in humans, logic (if any) in religion, and quality of literature and the arts.
Technology changes how authors write,
but the big impact isn’t on their style
A professor of English from the University of Maryland wrote a book about the history of word processing. As he worked on his manuscripts and interviewed writers, he was often asked about the effect of w.p. on style. He points out that Friedrich “Nietzsche wrote, or more precisely typed, [a particular] sentence on a Malling-Hansen Writing Ball, a wondrous strange contraption that looks a little like a koosh ball cast in brass and studded with typewriter keys. Depressing a key plunged a lever with the typeface downward onto the paper clutched in the underbelly.”
The next quarterly meeting of North Florida Writers will be Saturday, Aug. 13, at 2 p.m. in the meeting room of the Riverside-Avondale Watson Realty branch (on the corner of Herschel and San Juan).
The meeting will be devoted to critiquing and perhaps a general discussion of the organization.
Owner Rona Brinlee says The BookMark (220 1st St., Neptune Beach 32266) will be blowing out 26 candles on its birthday anniversary. It will also host Lou Aguilar, Craig Pittman, Jennifer Fosberry, and Randy Wayne White in upcoming weeks.
26th Birthday Celebration, Saturday, Aug. 27, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
 Ms. Brinlee says, “We think every birthday is an occasion for celebration.  We hope you’ll join us for some coffee, bubbly, and cake, plus a chance to win some prizes”
She says, “We have scheduled our monthly Story Time to kick off the day.  Miss Pat will read to children ages 3 - 8 starting at 9 a.m.
Lou Aguilar, Jake for Mayor (Penmore Press) Tuesday Aug.30, 7 p.m.
Ken Miller is having a bad run of luck. After torpedoing his career as a campaign manager, he drives through tiny Erie, Colorado, when a homeless beagle named Jake causes a series of mishaps that lands him in jail. Stuck in Erie as it prepares for a mayoral election and unable to resist political adventure, Ken gets a brainstorm. If he can exploit the dog’s popularity among the townspeople and get them to elect Jake as a protest candidate, the publicity will put him back on top.

Craig Pittman, “Oh, Florida! How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country” (St. Martin’s Press) Saturday, Sept. 17, 7 p.m.
Every place has its idiosyncrasies, but journalist Pittman (The Scent of Scandal) makes a strong case for Florida being the strangest state in the nation. He relates bizarre events with assorted characters from Florida’s current culture and modern history. Covering diverse topics such as politics, plastic surgery, civil rights, Scientology, sinkholes, and NASCAR, the author shares news reports and scandals representing the oddity that is Florida. (This book is also featured in the BookMark newsletter as Laura’s staff pick for this month.)

Jennifer Fosberry, “Isabella: Girl in Charge” (Sourcebooks), Saturday, Oct. 15, 10 a.m.
A big event has Isabella ready to leave home at the crack of dawn. But that’s a motion her parents are not likely to pass.  If her house is going to work like a democracy, Isabella knows what she has to do; call an assembly and campaign her way out the door! Inspired by women who trail-blazed their way onto the political map of America, Isabella celebrates the women who were first to hold their offices.
Randy Wayne White, “Seduced” (A Hannah Smith novel) (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) Sunday, Oct. 23, 7 p.m.
Five hundred years ago, Spanish conquistadors planted the first orange seeds in Florida, but now the whole industry is in trouble.  The only solution might be somehow, somewhere, to find samples of the original root stock. No one is better equipped to traverse the swamps and murky back country of Florida than Hannah Smith, a tall, strong Florida woman whose family roots go back generations. Once word leaks out of her quest, trouble begins. There are people who will kill to find a direct descendant of those first seeds.
Oh, of course, you are bound to ask which writers or poets were born on Aug. 27. Simple, they include Johann Georg Hamann (1730), Herman Muntinghe (1752), Anne-Francois Mellinet (1768), Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770), Edward Beecher (1803), Hermann Kipper (1826), Albijn van de Abeele (1835), Manuel Acuna (1849), Iwan Franko (1865), Emmuska Orczy (1865), James Henry Breasted (1865), Amado Nervo (Juan C. Ruiz de Nervo) (1870), Theodore Dreiser (1871), Lloyd C(assel) Douglas (1877), Ad van Emmenes (1897), Cecil Scott “C. S.” Forester (1899), Xavier Villaurrutia (1903), Norah Lofts (1904), Donald McKenzie MacKinnon (1913), Catherine Marshall (1914), Walter W. Heller (1915), David Rowbotham (1924), Ira Levin (1929), Antonia Fraser (1932), Frank Yablans (1935), Michael Holroyd (1935), Desmond O’Grady (1935), Lary Crews (1946), Paul Reubens (1952), Tom Lanoye (1958), Jeanette Winterson (1959).
For other information, go to the bookstore’s website at or email the store at; (904) 241-9026.
August means that it’s too darned hot to be outside, so it’s time to retreat full time to the air-conditioned comfort of your keyboard. If you want to confer inside with fellow writers, then 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
During election seasons, the meeting rooms of public libraries are already booked for ballot training and early voting, so the Clay County Writers will have to leave the Clay County Library on Wednesday, Aug. 17. The group will meet instead at Penney Farms Community Commons Room. The meeting will start at 6 and last till 8 p.m.
The group will focus on “To Give and to Receive: How to Read & React to Writing in Progress.”
Group leader Maureen Jung asks, “Ever wish you had constructive feedback on your writing? Using a checklist to assess each piece, we’ll review the process, then put it to work.” Note: this is not a literary critique group. Criticizing written work is easy. Finding authentic strengths languishing in a rough draft presents a bigger challenge. Find out how to:
For feedback on your writing, bring along 3 copies of your piece, up to 4 pages (about 1,000 words), double-spaced, 12-point text. (No reading from laptops or notebooks.) Ms. Jung facilitates this session. A writer, editor, and workshop leader for 30+ years, she has trained thousands of adults to write with greater skill, confidence, and power.
Clay County Writers is sponsored by Florida Writers Association. Get the details on this statewide group: Monthly meetings focus on the art, craft, and business of writing. Some meetings offer presentations by author-speakers. Other meetings introduce practical exercises to help writers sharpen their skills, give and receive feedback, and leave with practical suggestions to improve their work.
For more information, contact Ms. Jung or go to the Facebook page at .
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.
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 the privacy setting of the NFW from Closed to Public. That way, you can check out our group at your leisure.

To begin, click on:

Later on, if you are in the process of simplifying your e-life and want to leave us, you may do so at any time by clicking 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.
They include the following (remove spaces from address):
Robert Blade Writing & Editing (rmblade;
Frank Green of The Bard Society (frankgrn;
JJ Grindstaff-Swathwood (jgswathwood;
Brad Hall (variablerush;
Lynn Skapyak Harlin (Lyharlin;
Joseph Kaval (joseph.kaval;
Richard Levine (Richie.ALevine
President: Howard Denson (
Vice President: Joyce Davidson (
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.