Chomsky was right: We do have a ‘grammar’ in our head
A team of neuroscientists has found new support linguist Noam
Chomsky’s decades-old theory that we possess an ‘internal grammar’
that allows us to comprehend even nonsensical phrases. The
research “posited that we can recognize a phrase such as
‘Colorless green ideas sleep furiously’ as both nonsensical and
grammatically correct because we have an abstract knowledge base
that allows us to make such distinctions even though the
statistical relations between words are non-existent.”
The 10 Best Books of
The New York Times has selected the ten best books of 2015,
beginning with “The Door”
by Magda Szabo (translated by Len Rix). For the rest, click on
Why Writing Fiction
Fiction editor Beth Hill explores what must go right as a writer
plows his way through his or her first novel. For example, the
writing may be grammatical and clear, but, if it is mundane and
tepid, an editor will not select it for publication.
sobbing you write sentences
Leslie Jamison’s interview with Charles D’Ambrosio first appeared
in The New Yorker.
George Saunders on story
In a brief video, George Saunders explains how a story can move
from “George is an asshole” to something more interesting and
The poem the
Pope wants you to read
Most Americans are not able to get the full effect of Dante’s
“Divine Comedy,” since we generally don’t read Italian. Even so,
some fine translations have been made, including one by the late
John Ciardi. Pope Francis highly recommends this masterpiece to
those open to suggestions about what to read.
NOVELIST EDWARD M. BALDWIN TO SPEAK TO NFW ON JAN. 9
Edward M. Baldwin, America’s education novelist, will speak to the
North Florida Writers on Saturday, Jan. 9. He is the author of the
“Duval County books,” classroom dramas set in a fictitious Duval
County school district. “Learnt,” his first Duval County novel,
met with repeated praise from reviewers. “Victims of Shakespeare,”
the next book in the series, was released in 2015, followed by
“Teacher Deficit Disorder” and “Gun Point Average” respectively.
He also writes short stories with teachers, students, and parents
being his primary audience. “Parent Plots, Teacher Tales &
Student Stories” was recently published. As an English Education
graduate of the University of North Florida, he has served as a
high school English teacher and literacy coordinator. He has also
helped people pursue their goals by serving as an adjunct
professor for an adult education program, where he taught English
and a “Strategies for Success” course.
He is an avid tennis player and believes that it is one of the
most demanding sports on the planet, comparing it to the martial
arts that he used to study diligently. He spends much of his time
visiting public schools, coaching tennis, tutoring aspiring
writers, and, of course, writing.
He is the editor of three blogs: Baldwin Memorable Moments, Tips
to Treasure (Writing Tips for Writers), and Two Cents with Lint.
He lives in Jacksonville with his wife, three children, and two
cats. You can visit him at http://www.EdwardMBaldwin.com.
Critiques after the speaker
For the critiques, someone other than the author of respective
works will read aloud the submissions (up to 20 double-spaced
TYPED pages of prose, and reasonable amounts of poetry or lyrics).
Authors may not defend their work, but they may attach questions
they would like answered (e.g., “Is the scene on the beach
convincing?”). Authors should listen to the words and rhythms of
Parking: VyStar requests that NFW members and guests park on the
side of the buildings to leave spaces in front for their regular
BIRTHDAYS OF WRITERS AND SELECTED QUOTES BEING ASSEMBLED; SHOULD YOU BE INCLUDED?
Long-time readers of The Write Stuff newsletter are familiar with
two of our features: “Writers Born This Month” and “Stuff from a
An imp from on high suggested that the two features should be
combined (as much as possible) into a directory of birthdays of
wordsmiths, plus three or more quotations per day.
Already added to the list are some birthdays of the
faculty-speakers for the Writers’ Festival, perhaps dating back 20
years. Since that time, cautious Americans have focused on ID
theft and may not want exact days, months, and years listed.
Writers may want to use “pen-birthdays.” For example, if someone
were born on Jan. 1 in 1950, he or she might take his or her
father’s day and month (May 17) and the year for one of the
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Born in January
Jan. 1-- Antoinette du Ligier de la Guard Deshoulieres (1638),
Elkanah Settle (1648), Soame Jenyns (1704), Kristijonas Donelaitis
(1714), Maria Edgeworth (1767), Arthur Hugh Clough (1819), Sándor
Petőfi (1823), Ludovic Halévy (1834), James Frazer (1854), Aleko
Konstantinov (1863), Charles Edward Montague (1867), Mariano
Azuela (1873), E(dward) M(organ) Forster (1879), Ernest Jones
(1879), Sholem Asch (1880), Carry van Bridges (1881), Federigo
Tozzi (1883), Catherine Drinker Bowen (1897), Russ Bender (1910),
Eliot Janeway (1913), François Bondy (1915), J(erome) D(avid)
Salinger (1919), Roger Peacock (1920), Roberts Blossom (1924),
Ernest R. Tidyman (1928), Joe Orton (1933), Peter Dormer (1949),
Ashfaq Hussain (1951), Anwar Mansoor Mangrio (1973).
Writing comes more easily if you have something to say.-- Sholem
Writing, I think, is not apart from living. Writing is a kind of
double living. The writer experiences everything twice. Once in
reality and once in that mirror which waits always before or
behind. – Catherine Drinker Bowen
What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done
reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific
friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever
you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though. ― J.D.
What should the quote be about? Generally on some aspect of the
writing process, creativity, or attitudes toward life. Avoid any
quotes about, say, the cute ferocity of Fluffy, your pet; plugs
for your books/reviews; political remarks divorced from your
writing. When will the directory be available? Probably early in
2016. The project is already adding to the 1,100 quotes laid out
for the 366 days.
The final project will be available in paperback on Amazon.com for
$10-15. At times, the e-version may even be free.
BOOKMARK TO HOST CHRIS BOHJALIAN ON WEDNESDAY
The BookMark at Neptune Beach has already scheduled Chris
Bohjalian, author of “The Guest Room,” to appear at 7 p.m.,
Wednesday, Jan. 6, according to owner Rona Brinlee.
Ms. Brinlee says “The Guest Room” is a spellbinding tale of a
party gone horribly wrong: two men lie dead in a suburban living
room, two women are on the run from the police, and a marriage is
ripping apart at the seams.
When Richard Chapman offers to host his younger brother's bachelor
party, he expects a certain amount of debauchery. What he does not
expect is this: bacchanalian drunkenness, a dangerously intimate
moment in his guest room, and two naked women stabbing and killing
their Russian bodyguards. In the aftermath, Richard's life falls
apart, and the women from the guest room is being hunted by the
police who want to question her and gangsters who want to kill
“The Guest Room” is a captivating, chilling story about shame and
scandal from the bestselling author of "Close Your Eyes, Hold
Hands", "The Sandcastle Girls", and "Midwives", among others.
Chris Bohjalian's work has been translated into more than 30
languages, and three of his novels have become movies. He lives in
Vermont with his wife and daughter.
Tim Dorsey will sign copies of “Coconut Cowboy” at 7 p.m. Friday,
The BookMark is located at 220 First St., Neptune Beach, Fla.
For more information: Contact Ms. Brinlee at 904.241.9026 or
HAVE SIXTH ANNIVERSARY; MEETING FOCUSES ON ANTHOLOGY
By MAUREEN JUNG
Join the Clay County Writers for our sixth anniversary as a
Florida Writers’ Assn. group in Clay County. We will meet
from 6:15 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 20, at the Orange Park Public
Library, Meeting Room (2054 Plainfield Ave., off Kingsley Ave.,
behind the Dairy Queen). Meetings are free and open to all.
Our focus will be “Embedded in Clay: An Anthology in the Making.”
Join us for a conversation about our anthology-in-progress,
followed by a brief writing exercise.
· Learn more about Clay
County stories and local writers.
· Discover how you can
get involved with this exciting project.
· Add tips and tools to
upgrade your writing skills.
You don’t have to be an author to participate in this program to
share local stories with residents across the community and
inspire others to write.
We’ve all got a story. What’s yours?
We’ll also do a focusing exercise for 2016. We’ll help you turn
ideas into smart goals with do-able steps to move your projects
forward in the coming year. Bring your mindmap, to-do list, or
fragments of your fondest dreams. We’ll provide the rest.
Clay County Writers is sponsored by Florida Writers Association
(https://floridawriters.net/). Monthly meetings focus on the art,
craft, and business of writing. Some meetings offer presentations
by author-speakers. Other meetings include practical exercises to
help writers sharpen their skills, give and receive feedback, and
leave with practical suggestions to improve their work.
To learn more, check out the group on Facebook at “Clay County
Writers” or visit: https://floridawriters.net/.
Dr. Maureen Jung facilitates this conversation and exercise. A
writer, editor, and workshop leader for 30+ years, she has trained
thousands of adults to write with greater skill, confidence, and
power. A Fellow of the South Coast Writing Project, part of the
National Writing Project, she has delivered workshops and
presentations for scores of organizations, including: Florida
Heritage Book Festival, Network for a Healthy California, John
Muir Center for Regional Studies, Western History Assn., and
Florida State University Retirees Assn.
FWA NEWS FROM VIC DIGENTI
January is a time for resolutions for the New Year, of course, and
naturally aspiring writers may feel guilty about not writing
enough (or at all) or even attending workshops of writing groups.
We can’t fix 2015, but 2016 is new territory. You will want to
attend one of the area FWA meetings. Most of the details can be
found in this month’s FWA NE Florida Blog post freshly published
Read it before heading breaking any resolutions. Click here to
visit the post.
ISLAND’S WRITERS BY THE SEA OPEN YEAR ON THURSDAY, JAN. 21 BY HEARING POET JEAN VINCENNES
The Writers by the Sea group of Amelia Island kicks off its 2016
schedule with a talk by poet-novelist Jean Vincennes at 6 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 21, at the Amelia Island Museum of History (Third
St., near Downtown Fernandina Beach). The group will begin with
introductions and announcements before the speaker’s presentation
at 6:30, according to group leader
Nadine Vaughan, Ph.D. (email@example.com)
“John” Vincennes talk will be A Poetry Primer. It will encourage
writers to explore how they might express their lyrical selves
through the genre of poetry. Vincennes will compare poetry to
other writing genres, such as novels, screenplays, and short
stories; he will examine the primary tools available to the poet
and discuss how to select a topic for your poems. In a year when
poetry promises to take on a new importance in Nassau County, this
is a meeting you don't want to miss. Better yet, there is no
charge to attend. For last minute details and descriptions of our
meetings in 2015, please check out our FaceBook page
Vincennes writes poetry, general fiction, and historical
fiction. His five published works include the
following: Amelia's Songs, Fringe Fiction, Cop Stories, A
Dog's Life, and of course, Poetry. To learn more about the
author or to purchase his books, visit
he New York Time
THE WRONG STUFF – FORENSIC GRAMMAR
Follow the link below to find where often sane and sensible
writers (and editors) have stumbled in their writing:
The second edition of a paperback collection, “The Wrong Stuff:
Findings of a Forensic Grammarian,” is available online at
Amazon.com and Barnes & Nobel’s website. Go to
WRITERS BORN THIS MONTH
To check out the names of writers who were born this month, go to
The list includes novelists, poets, playwrights, nonfiction
authors, writers for the small and silver screen, and others.
Looking for your favorite writer? Hit “find” at the website and
type in your favorite’s name. Keep scrolling to find writers born
in other months.
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).
SOMEONE TO CRITIQUE A MANUSCRIPT?
If you have a finished manuscript that you want critiqued or
proofread, then look for someone at
http://howarddenson.webs.com/potentialcritiquers.htm. Check out
their entries on the website to see if they suit your needs. They
include the following: Robert Blade Writing & Editing
(firstname.lastname@example.org); Frank Green of The Bard Society
(email@example.com); JJ Grindstaff-Swathwood
(firstname.lastname@example.org); Brad Hall (email@example.com);
Joseph Kaval (firstname.lastname@example.org); and Richard Levine
THE WRITE STAFF
President: Howard Denson (hd3nson@hotmail. com)
Vice President: Joyce Davidson (davent2010@comcast. net)
Secretary: Kathy Marsh (kathygmarsh@bellsouth. net)
Treasurer: Richard Levine (email@example.com)
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,