· Writing News for the Sunshine State & the Solar System

· * February 2010

· Editor: Howard Denson


and use the terms in the subject line.

In This Issue:

Amelia Island Book Festival on Tap for Feb. 12-13

NFW to Visit Book Festival in Fernandina Beach on Feb. 13

Much Ado About Books Offers Five-Hour Writing Workshop on Feb. 26

Much Ado About Libraries -- Howard Denson

Sisters in Crime to Hear Michael Knox on Feb. 6

The Wrong Stuff

Others’ Stuff on Words, Writing, and Lit

Quote from a Writer's Quill – John P. Marquand

Writers Born This Month

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


The 2010 Amelia Island Book Festival on Friday, Feb. 12, will feature a day of writers’ workshops at the Betty Cook Center in Yulee. There will be a $90 registration fee for the workshops and a luncheon with talks by Rick Bragg and Sonny Brewer.

The workshops will include Recipe for Poetry, Novel to Script to Movie, Basics—You Have the Baby, Now What?, Using Humor in Your Writing, The Art Buchwald Story, Finding Your Voice, The Top 10 Writing Errors—Ask an Editor, and Finding a Publicist, Agent, or Publisher.

Hands-on workshops on Friday will include Building Networks, Thanks for the Memories—Memoir Writing, The ABC’s of Children’s Literature, Song Writing—Jeffrey Pepper Rogers, Personal Stories of Finding Success, Bringing Life to History—Jeff Shaara, and Tips for Beginning Writers.

The Saturday workshops will include such free workshops as Take Home a Poem, Take Home a Memoir, Take it to the Beach: Writing a Must Read Book, Lessons from a Hurricane, Animal House: Critters and the Lessons They Teach Our Children, Headlines, Headlines, Read All About It, Friendship and Collaboration, Character-Driven Novels, Appreciate the Difference, Local/Regional History, Writing and Teaching Writing, and Same Sweet Girls.

The Saturday workshops will be held at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church (corner of Eighth and Centre Streets).

Other tentative speakers and panelists for the Feb. 12-13 events will also include Cassandra King, Janis Owens, and M.J. Rose, Mary Baron, Kathie Bennett, Marianne Berkes, Carlla Cato, Melissa Conroy, Jackie K. Cooper, Bob Dart, Maggie Carter DeVries, Vic Digenti, Cynthia Enutun, Darrell House, Liz Kawecki, Ruddell Kopp, Ron Kurtz, Rita Malie, Stephanie Mayberry, Katherine McCaughan, Roger Moore, Pam Mueller, Annette Myers. Lucy Nolan, T. Lynn Ocean, Nola Perez, William Rawlings, Cappy Rearick, Jack Riggs, Abby Sallenger, Barbara G. Spurlin, Suzette Standring, Andy Suhrer, and Jane Woods.

For information about ticketed events and the schedule, go to or call 904.491.8116.


The North Florida Writers will forego its regular meeting on Feb. 13, so that members may take advantage of the free Saturday workshops of the Amelia Island Book Festival in Fernandina Beach.

On Mar. 13, the group will return to the Webb Wesconnett Branch Library(corner of 103rd Street and Harlow Boulevard). The meeting will focus on critiques and will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Webb Wesconnett Branch Library (corner of 103rd Street and Harlow Boulevard).

In the regular critiques, 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.


An intensive five-hour workshop with Steve Berry and Liz Berry will be a highlight of the 2010 Much Ado About Books. The workshop will be held Friday, Feb. 26, from 9 a.m. till 3 p.m. at the Main Library (303 N. Laura St.).

The Berrys are donating their time to the Jacksonville Public Library on behalf of their foundation History Matters. Seating for the workshop is limited to 150. A spot may be reserved with a $100 donation to the Jacksonville Public Library Foundation.

Interested persons may register online at<> or call 904.630.1995. Event updates may be tracked on Facebook and Twitter by visiting or<>.

The Berrys’ workshop will feature these sessions:

Story Structure and The 6 “C’s” of Writing – This session will help writers learn how to structure their books for maximum impact. There are six main concepts that should be included in all stories (regardless of genre), and Steve explains these in detail.

Point of View and Dialogue – Who tells the story? How much dialogue should there be? How should it be expressed? These are some of the many questions this session will answer. They are critical to making any story flow and keeping the reader interested enough to finish the book. Learn what Steve looks for when he picks up a book.

10 Rules of Writing – Steve will share the ten rules learned during his 20 years of writing. Early on, he faced 85 rejections of his manuscripts - the school of hard knocks, leaving a lasting expression. Being aware of these rules, along with the information from the other two sessions, writers will leave with what they need to start drafting their own story.

The Business of Writing – Steve and Elizabeth will share from their unique viewpoints. Steve shares his experience from an author's standpoint, and Elizabeth shares her experience as Steve’s Literary Manager and Executive Director of Thrillerfest, the yearly gathering of thriller writers in New York City.

Questions and Answers – The floor will be open for questions from the audience for either Steve or Elizabeth.

Other events at MAAB include breakfast with an author, panel discussions, Children’s Chapter and keynote luncheon.

“It is with great pride that we are hosting this year’s milestone event to benefit the Jacksonville Public Library,” said Maggie Hightower, executive director of the Jacksonville Public Library Foundation. “Much Ado About Books is the cornerstone of our fund-raising efforts and a meaningful contribution to Jacksonville’s literary community.”

On Saturday, Feb. 27, a private breakfast for 10 guests will be hosted by a featured author. This event will take place at the Omni Jacksonville Hotel and tickets are $100 in advance.

Following the breakfast, the Much Ado About Books central event, the Book Festival, will be open to the public at the Main Library. The Book Festival highlights will include complimentary panel discussions with featured authors and a Children’s Chapter, sponsored by Target. Children’s Chapter events take place in the Children’s Library and the Betsy Lovett Courtyard at the Main Library. Guests will meet children’s authors and experience hands-on activities. The Children’s Chapter will take place from 9 a.m. until noon.

The event will conclude with a spectacular keynote luncheon, sponsored by the Players Championship and featuring women’s fiction author Mary Kay Andrews, who entertain the audience with stories from her most recent book, Fixer Upper. Tickets to the luncheon are $50 in advance and $60 at the door.

Other featured authors throughout the weekend include Michael Craven, Michael Cavendish, Jacksonville natives Donna Deegan and Carla Harris, Kaylie Jones, William “Ron” Little, Tori Murden McClure, Katherine Hall Page, Andrew Gross, Michael Palmer, Chris Bohjalian, Carlla Cato, and others.



Another title for this discussion could be “Barbarians in the Libraries.” That hearkens back to the time when the barbarians overran the Roman Empire, whose great libraries were then neglected or destroyed.

As Thomas Cahill has noted, the Irish and the Arabs saved many of the key books from the Mediterranean world. We are who we are today thanks to the efforts of monks and scholars who saved, copied, and translated the scrolls from the ancient ones.

We don't thank the early Christian church leaders, except for sects who buried their heretical scrolls while the more powerful ones determined what was The Approved Word. These new religious leaders, being terribly insecure, were busy destroying the dangerous dogma of the pagan thinkers. It would take centuries for people like Thomas Aquinas to read the stuff and announce that, hey, listen up: Aristotle, Plato, and others actually made some good points.

Illiteracy was high. Even the great Charlemagne couldn’t read or write. Later, an English king such as Henry II might own two to four books.

Livy, Cicero, or Cato would be impressed by Jacksonville’s still-new downtown library. They might grumble that the adjacent Hemming Plaza needs an equally ornate public bath. Here the educated could gather to discuss the good, the true, and the prospects of filling our football stadium if we simply emptied the jails and forced prisoners to go at each other on the 40-yard line with short sword, trident, and spear.

Of course, it's not fair to lump all of the ancient barbarians in one category. Some simply wanted to be Romans; others just wanted to live like Romans. My forebears probably were painting themselves blue and worrying that some wild-eyed priests might order them to jockey some megalithic stones into a circle that wouldn't even pen up their pigs.

Today's barbarians also fall into several categories:

In the book industry for years, the barbarians in the U.S. saved money in the short run by using acid-based paper, which essentially doomed their products to life spans of 40 years.

In small towns, the barbarians on city councils may have to choose between new bleachers for the Fighting Visigoths or maintaining their "liberry." Ah, Councilman Bubba says, books are dinosaurs. All we need to do is add a PC or laptop, and that will do. We'll save thousands.

In cities with colleges and universities, a university probably will protect and defend its library and books. A provost or president at fad-a-day institution may suggest transforming the library into a media center complete with PC's galore and a corner for "Starbooks" drinks and snacks. Over the years, stories in The Chronicle of Higher Education have shown that faculty often mount enough opposition to protect the library. Fad-a-Day U may then place their Starbooks complex in a separate building or set aside a building at a new university center.

In lesser institutions of higher education, a barbarian-in-chief may snap his fingers and order that the old technology be discarded to make way for the Future: Computer equipment is needed. After all, the students may use their own e-readers to download any books that may be needed. They're not using books anyway because they get everything off the internet. We'll need to make space for the workstations, so get rid of those stacks of books. They're in the way of the Future.

Instead of using the equivalent of an annual book sale by the Friends of the Jacksonville Public Libraries, these barbarians dump the books into dumpsters or at least place them on folding tables to be given away.

The barbarians don't (want to) realize that hard-bound books have value. The libraries can safely sell their extra copies of works by Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and lesser lights. A medical book is apt to decline in value and usefulness as each year adds new discoveries.

But book collectors exist, and many books acquire greater value as time passes. For example, when I was researching for a creative project involving early entertainment (theatre, silents, etc.), I recalled a quaint old book by Thomas Frederick Davis, History of Jacksonville, Florida.

In a support-your-local bookstore mindset, after returning the book, I called Joyce Davidson at Historic Grounds Book Store in Green Cove Springs to see if she could locate a copy from an old-books store. She reported that one site would sell the book for $450. I passed on that because I'm a book-hoarder or book-addict, but not a collector.

The $450 price-tag does drive home the fact that the books on the shelves have monetary value. Moreover, after they are purchased, they don't cost taxpayers anything. For years, they can sit harmlessly on shelves without affecting the institutional bottom-line. Even the shelves are paid for, never-mind that Fad-a-Day C's barbarians may send them to the warehouse, likely to be auctioned or given away by and by.

Two or three years ago, I asked a librarian at one of the library sites for a Fad-a-Day College what was the value of their book holdings. "About $300,000," she said, recalling an inventory that a colleague had done a few years before. The library for a campus hosting an arts department will likely be worth much more due to the expensive color plates. Costs of books in the allied health field are also likely to be quite expensive.

Our contemporary barbarians often argue that they are agents of modernity. Although they undoubtedly have their successes, they also have burned and destroyed with the thoroughness of Vandals.

As art departments gained strength during the 19th Century, their students learned art by drawing pictures of plaster reproductions of great pieces of sculpture, much in the way that Leonardo and Michelangelo had done in the workshops of Verrocchio and Ghirlandaio. In the early 20th Century, the best and brightest in the departments scoffed at the old-fashioned approach. The institutions largely put the plaster reproductions in the dumpster.

Guess what?

These reproductions would have had great value for museums and some private collectors. The Capitoline Museum in Rome was closed on the one day I had available to see "The Dying Gaul,” but on a visit to a conference in Austin I hiked over to the museum at the University of Texas to see their holdings. These included a reproduction of "The Dying Gaul." If you can't work in a trip to the Vatican to see "Laocoön and His Sons," scoot up to Savannah to see a reproduction in the lower gallery of the Telfair Academy, one of three buildings that comprise the Telfair Museum of Art.

In Hollywood, the silver nitrate in films doomed many films to a lifespan of 40 years. Many film executives didn't care what had been done at their studio five or ten years earlier. Eventually, film societies, museums, and universities encouraged the studios to restore film on stock that would last longer.

In TV, the barbarians of modernity emptied shelf after shelf of kinescopes of shows from the late 1940s and the 1950s. Casualties included much of the brilliance of Sid Caesar's crew (writers Neil Simon, Sid, Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, et al.) and most of the "Tonight" shows with Steve Allen and his many guests from jazz and popular music. True, Lucy survived, but the barbarians never envisioned the gelt that could be made from DVDs of the old shows.

Some visionaries worked in motion pictures. In pre-TV popular days, William Boyd a/k/a Hoppy got his studio to sign over the television rights to his Hopalong Cassidy westerns, and, when Milton Berle was dominating Tuesday nights, Hoppy was shooting bad guys all over the little screen.

The Visigoths of modernity often proclaim, "New technology is better." But is that really so? The lowly typewriter is best for typing forms, but the word processing programs make writing short stories, novels, and memoirs so much easier. On the negative side, the wp programs also encourage weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable prose, a type of writing called word processing.

In recordings, CDs supposedly surpass the old vinyl products that suffered from scratches and skips. Even so, the CDs can almost destroy ear-drums when a devil peal of WANG! WANG! WANG! WANG! replaces the music or words. Progress, better than a skip or a scratch? Not exactly.

The old technology's sheets of microfiche in the library had a projected life-span of 500 years. The DVDs that replace them could WANG! you to death or simply refuse to load. Don't expect more than five years of use of the DVDs, besides the format may change and render the collection "obsolete."

How long will a book last? It depends on the care and quality. True, some fall apart in signatures after one reading, but well-made books can last a century or more. I recall a docent at Salisbury Cathedral holding a beautiful Bible that was 500 years old and remember that other books have lasted a millennium.

So, dinosaurs, my eye.


Michael Knox, who specializes in traffic accident reconstruction, bloodstain pattern analysis, and crime scene reconstruction, will speak to the Sisters in Crime meeting on Saturday, Feb. 6, at the Southeast Regional Library on Deerwood Park. See
for meeting details.


Ocala Star-Banner story about a Florida judge who enters rodeo competitions:

The event comes with a risk of physical injury. [Judge William “Bud”] Hallman has broken his leg three times, tore a pectoral muscle, bruised his ribs, even had his two front teeth knocked out. To keep in shape, he runs and lifts weight.

W.S. SAYS: “Has broken” establishes the first item in a parallel structure involving a verb helper and the past participle, so the second item should refer to “has torn.”

Frank Rich’s op ed column in The New York Times:
Fluent as we are in Al Qaeda and body scanners, when it comes to synthetic C.D.O.’s and credit-default swaps, not so much.

W.S. SAYS: The reader has to extract the meaning from this elliptical sentence (fragment actually). At a minimum, the structure should have been reworked to something like this: “Although we may be fluent in Al Qaeda and body scanners, we aren’t as knowledgeable about synthetic C.D.O.’s and credit-default swaps.”


A sports column in The Florida Times-Union:

It’s understandable that UT fans and pundits looking for an easy punching bag would wail on [Lane] Kiffin, but he didn’t choke a player or stick him in a dark shed.

W.S. SAYS: The American Heritage Dictionary is uncertain about the origin, but it says the offending word should be whale (“To strike repeatedly with a whip, stick, or the like; flog”). AHD says it’s often used with away as in The poet whaled away at his critics. The Oxford English Dictionary lists whale as an alternate for wale, perhaps because thrashings may have involved whalebone whips.


The True Great 20th-Century Novelists who Irked the Bloomsbury Snobs

As writers, H.G. Wells, Arnold Bennett and John Galsworthy far outshone those self-obsessed frauds D.H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf, writes Simon Heffer in London’s Telegraph (Jan. 9) at

The Root Interview: Charles Johnson

The author, scholar and MacArthur “genius” winner charts a new course in post-academic life, writes Michael E. Ross in an interview for The Root (Jan. 11). Check it out at .

Harold Pinter is Only a Footnote in the Annals of Literary Adultery

When it comes to infidelity, scandals about literary greats are more exciting than those about rock stars or sportsmen, says Michael Deacon in London’s Telegraph (Jan. 12). You may very discreetly read about such romps at .

Time to Salute the Tolstoy of Transylvania

Instead of a “swashbuckling” read, The Transylvanian Trilogy by
Miklós Bánffy is more like a combination of Anna Karenina and War and Peace, writes Charles Moore in a review in the Telegraph (Jan. 12). To read, click on .

You Stole This; No, You Stole That; No . . .

In “Copy Cats! The Claws are Out,” Andrew Johnson and Amy Dawson note that James Cameron is just the latest artist to be accused of plagiarism. They explore other alleged artistic thefts at

How Keeping a Journal Can Improve Your Writing
Although writing in a journal may occasionally be criticized as being excessively self-indulgent, Mary Rajotte in The Toronto Examiner (Jan. 15) argues that the process will sharpen your writing. Read her comments at

The Gaelic Renaissance

Clive Aslet writes in the Telegraph that Gaelic is (literally) being put back on the map, thanks in large part to one particular laird behind its revival. Read about Sir Iain Nobles at

But Enough about Me

In The New Yorker, Daniel Mendelsohn explores what the popularity of memoirs tell us about ourselves. Some prominent men (such as Freud) refused to write their autobiographies, ignoring the rich history of memoirs all the way back to St. Augustine (Confessions). Check it out at

What Did Shakespeare's Characters Sound Like?

If you wonder how the actors of Shakespeare's time delivered their lines, you may be interested in O.P. or Original Pronunciation. Check it out at<> .


I wrote the scenes . . . by using the same apprehensive imagination that occurs in the morning before an afternoon's appointment with my dentist.

-- John P. Marquand



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); 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)



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:<>

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;<>

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.

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