· Writing News for the Sunshine State & the Solar System

· * June

In This Issue:


NFW to Hear about Kindle and then Critique at June 11 Meeting at Willowbranch

Pen Name Seems to Trigger Schizophrenia – Vic DiGenti

Cock-a-Doodle Do for a FWA Blog Just for You – Vic DiGenti

Lucky 13th Dan Lenson Novel Puts Him in Middle of Sept. 11 Drama

Cobb and Fracis to Tell about UNF Writers’ Confab

The Wrong Stuff – Howard Denson

Stuff from Hither and Yon

Stuff from a Writer's Quill – Francois Truffaut

Meetings of NFW and Other Groups

Useful Links

The Write Staff

Membership Form

Writers Born This Month


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







E-books or tree books – which will prevail in the future? Since writers need to keep all options open, President Stewart Neal will spotlight one of the emerging industries in e-book publishing. At the June 11 meeting of the North Florida Writers, he will give a short presentation on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program.


This should help those who have been frustrated at the inability of getting works published and don’t want to go the self-publishing route. The NFW meeting will be at the Willowbranch library on the second Saturday of the month at 2 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.


The NFW will also critique manuscripts at the meeting. The critique process has 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. 



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






A funny thing happened when I decided to publish “Matanzas Bay” under the pen name of Parker Francis. First of all, people began looking at me differently, especially my wife. Guess she wondered who this strange man was who looked a lot like her old husband. And I've heard that it caused some confusion when my photo appeared with the new name.


The explanation for the name switch is simple—and it wasn't to hide from my creditors as one wag suggested. I simply wanted to differentiate the Quint Mitchell Mysteries, which are for adults, from the Windrusher books, which have a large young adult readership.


In my last newsletter I touted the growing presence of the digital revolution and advised readers they could find “Matanzas Bay” on both for Kindle, and the Barnes & Noble Nook. But another funny thing happened in that I heard from a lot of people who said they weren't ready to join the digital revolution and wanted one of the old-fashioned variety of books. 


If you are one of those who want the touch, feel, and smell of an actual book in your hands, then I have some exciting news. The real book has arrived — and it is beautiful, if I do say so myself. If you want an autographed copy (I'm still trying to figure out how to sign these things—Parker or Vic), write to me at and I'll see that you get one pronto.


Or you can order it directly from or Barnes &


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




The popular Dan Lenson novel series reaches the lucky 13th story as author David Poyer tracks Lenson through the events of Sept. 11.


“The Towers” is being published by St. Martin’s Press on Aug. 30. To order the book early, readers will need this info:  ISBN-13: 978-0312613013.


On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Commander Lenson, USN, is visiting the Pentagon.  On that same morning, his wife, former Undersecretary of Defense Blair Titus, is at a job interview at the World Trade Center. In the action-packed scenes that follow, both Dan and Blair have to fight to survive the attacks.  Meanwhile, NCIS agent Aisha Ar-Rahim is investigating a terror cell in Yemen, and former SEAL Teddy Oberg is pitching an action movie to investors in Los Angeles.


Teddy, Aisha, and Dan immediately become involved in the military reaction to the attack. Dan is assigned to the staff of the Joint Special Ops team in Afghanistan.  His mission: to overthrow the Taliban government.  Aisha undertakes a dangerous undercover mission in Yemen to uncover links to Osama bin Laden and ultimately his location in the Shah-i-Khot Valley, Afghanistan. Teddy, having rejoined the SEALS, is assigned to Task Force Cutlass, a mission that takes him to the border of Pakistan to hunt down and kill bin Laden. Meanwhile, Blair struggles with recovery from serious injuries, and has to decide which course her life will take from here.

Early reviewers of “The Towers” say it is a fascinating, accurate depiction of the events of Sept. 11 and the military response, informed by interviews and deep sources in the Navy, the SEALS, the Marines, the NCIS, and the author's own military experience. A past master of fast-paced sequences and heart-pumping drama, David Poyer takes the reader into the center of the action and face-to-face with the enemy.


Captain David Poyer is the most popular living author of American sea fiction.  His military career included service in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Arctic, Caribbean, the Middle East, and Pacific.  “The Towers” is the 13th in his continuing novel-cycle of the modern Navy and Marine Corps, following “The Med,” “The Gulf,” “The Circle,” “The Passage,” “Tomahawk,” “China Sea,” “Black Storm,” “The Command,” “The Threat,” “Korea Strait,” “The Weapon,” andThe Crisis” (all available in St. Martin's Press paperback and ebook formats).  Visit him at <> or on Facebook.


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




If you want a preview of the University of North Florida Writers Conference Writers’ Conference set for early August, tune in on WJCT's morning program (9-10 a.m.) on Tuesday, June 7.  Conference director Sharon Cobb and fiction-writer will be on “First Coast Connect, hosted by Melissa Ross, to spread the word about the conference.


Sharon Y. Cobb, who will be a presenter at the conference, is the creator of the comedy video website and writer/director of the comedy web show “Thurapy, which has an international fan base.


She is a member of Writers Guild of America and has sold a dozen projects to Hollywood, including “Return of the Sweet Birds” to Fox 2000 (producers: Danny Glover and Babyface Edmonds). Her British romantic comedy “Lighthouse Hill” was released in the U.S. on DVD in March 2009 after premiering at film festivals and being broadcast by SkyTV worldwide. “Easter Bunny Super Hero,” a short film she wrote and served as executive producer for, won Best of Jacksonville, Best Screenplay and five other awards in the 2007 48 Hour Film Project.


She is the author ofTouched By An Angel,” “A Christmas Miracle,” and has lectured on writing in the U.S. and abroad. She owns Mad Gator Films, Inc. and the Writers Pitch Book. She is also director of the UNF Writers’ Conference and The Florida Times-Union/’s Cinemania. Visit and


Sohrab Homi Fracis, also a presenter, is the first Asian author to win the Iowa Short Fiction Award, juried by the Iowa Writers Workshop, for his collection of short stories “Ticket to Minto: Stories of India and America.” He now has a novel in the works.


His stories and novel excerpts have appeared or will appear in “Slice Magazine,” “Other Voices,” “The Antigonish Review,” “Weber Studies,” “The Toronto Review,” “India Currents,” “State Street Review,” “Ort der Augen,” “Writecorner Press,” and “South Asian Review.” He taught literature and creative writing at the University of North Florida, was fiction and poetry editor at “State Street Review” and was visiting writer in residence at Augsburg College.


He has been a Florida Individual Artist Fellow in Fiction, a Walter E. Dakin Fellow in Fiction, and an artist in residence at Seaside Institute and the art colony of Yaddo. Visit his website:  


For more information about the August conference, go to


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




The roosters began crowing at 4 a.m. this morning, rousting me out of bed to get an early start writing the June post for the Northeast Florida chapter of the Florida Writers Assn. You'll find valuable nuggets of information to help you plan your monthly schedule. Read all about area meetings, conferences, awards and other good stuff at


Now I've got to feed those pesky roosters or they'll never let me get any sleep. -- Victor DiGenti, Regional Director


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






In the spirit of “The Treasure of Sierra Madre,” perhaps publishing houses should consider handing out annual “We Don’t Need No Stinking Copy Editors” Awards. It could easily go to ROC, a division of Penguin. The winner would have to be Jim Butcher’s “Grave Peril” (Book 3 of the Dresden Files).


It is irritating when you are reading a book and have a grammatical or spelling error GONG! the flow of the narrative. One you can excuse, but how about these?


She saw Micky, laying quietly, and went to him as if she feared to stir the air too much, each movement fragile. [pp. 107-08]


What the hell was she doing here? Laying in a van, covered up by blankets drugged and placed as neatly as could be. [p. 129]


I found Charity laying upon a bier. . . . [p.173]


It would be so easy to lay down at my lady’s feet, now. [p. 238]


That’s the kind of fear I felt. . . . For all the young people now laying in the darkness, drugged or dying. [p. 256]


. . . [W]ithout a word, he retreated to the fireplace and picked up a poker that had been laying against some of the logs. [p. 292]


I found her laying in the sun wearing a white bikini that left maximum surface area bared to it. [p. 376]


W.S. SAYS: If you want to refer to something or someone reclining or resting, you use “lying.” If a character is setting down a plate, a sword, or an egg, you use “laying” (since you would have an object for the verb).


Unless Harry, I thought to myself, they find you first. [p.109]


W.S. SAYS: A redundancy. “To myself” is not necessary. But, you ask, what about the song lyrics: “I think to myself it’s a wonderful world”? All right, but only if it’s sung by Satchmo.


“Once more into the breech, dear friends, eh?” [p. 123]


W.S. SAYS: Dear friends, it’s “breach,” whether on St. Crispin’s Day or Ground Hog’s Day.


He reached the foot of the dias, inclined his head in a shallow but deliberate nod . . . . [p.261]


They hid the fairly large object, hidden beneath a dark red cloth, on the dias beside Bianca. [p. 266]


. . . I mounted the stairs to the dias. . . . No one, except maybe the pair of robed attendants at the back of the dias, could hear us.” [p. 267]


My godmother glided forward at Bianca’s bidding, and paused for a moment, to glance up at the dias. [p.270]


I looked up to see Marva bound up onto the dias again. . . . [p. 277]


W.S. SAYS: The book did spell “dais” correctly on a couple of occasions before swinging and missing on a half dozen at-bats. If you know you are going to be using a troublesome word, scotchtape the correct spelling to your monitor. Later, take a couple of minutes to focus on the correct spelling. Here’s a tip: After the opening letter D, the rest of the letters are in alphabetical order.


Could a defense be made for the plethora of errors? Only one: The Dresden novels end up being best-sellers, so the author and publishers may not care enough about the craft of writing to spend, say, $500 to get a good English grad student to proofread and edit the material.


Another argument might state that the story is told in the first person and people make errors in their speech. Even so, the craft requires that the narrator be consistent. Huck Finn, as an example, speaks and narrates one way, but reports the accurate speech of others. Ditto for Jonathan Gash’s Lovejoy scoundrel.


Now, let’s move on to other pieces, which have mere lapses instead of blatant and indifferent inattention.




“Warning over bin Laden gloating” (Florida Times-Union):


“We’ve ridded the world of someone who caused great evil . . . and the world is probably better off without him,” [Rabbi Martin] Sandberg said. “But it won’t solve our problems.”


W.S. SAYS: Beware of dictionaries that give alternate possibilities for past tense verbs. It’s preferable to write “I rid today” and “I rid yesterday. One major dictionary lists “ridded” as archaic. You may protest that, since both forms are in popular usage, one is as good as the other. Generally that’s not so. If an editor is addicted to Fowler’s or Strunk and White, he or she may frown at past tenses for various verbs being given as “sung” (sing, sang, sung), “costed” (cost, cost, cost), “forecasted” (forecast, forecast, forecast), and so on.




Erik Hayden, ”What If Palin Had Run on Her Record?” (The Atlantic Wire.Com):

It takes reminding, but Sarah Palin was once a capable governor. And, in her time as an actual politician, she regularly worked with Democrats, declined to pick fights on divisive social issues, broke the oil companies vice on state politics and led Alaska to a $12 billion dollar budget surplus.


W.S. SAYS: Three problems: We need an apostrophe after “companies" to show possession . . . “Vice” is the British spelling; use “vise” for U.S. publications . . . We have a redundancy with the dollar mark AND the word “dollar.” Just write “$12 billion budget surplus.”




John Stossel, “Give Me a Break” (HarperCollins):


A Reason Foundation study found that today’s new rail lines are so underused, each ride costs taxpayers $9 dollars.


W.S. SAYS: Another dollar-mark redundancy: Use either “$9” or “nine dollars,” not both. Also insert a word and remove a comma: “so underused THAT each ride.”




Wade Tatangelo story about Kris Kristofferson’s career (McClatchy Newspapers):


Kristofferson's past two albums, 2006's “This Old Road” and 2009's “Closer to the Bone,” have also enjoyed positive reviews, if not the super sales figures of, say, Johnson's output.


W.S. SAYS: In an editing error in the Jacksonville paper, that was the final sentence in a story about Kristofferson, but there was no reference to who Johnson was. Could it be Erik, Red, Josh, Buck, or Jamey?


What happened? A layout or makeup editor had trimmed two sentences earlier in the story to make it fit the available space. The editor could have read what was being cut and written in: “of, say, Jamey Johnson’s output.” Thanks to a Yahoo search for the full story, we found these missing sentences:


Jamey Johnson, today's hippest country star, included a cover of Kristofferson's classic “For the Good Times” on The Guitar Song, which topped the country chart last year and reached number four on the Billboard 200.


"I think Jamey's great and I feel a lot in common with him," Kristofferson said.


An aphorism in a composing room (or now at the PC) is that you can cut a story until it bleeds. Since the inverted pyramid style means that most stories will go from most important information to least important, stories rarely bleed. However, some do, especially features that may have key information toward the bottom.




Daniel Levy, “Obama Gets Real on Israel” (The American Prospect):


Bush's letter referred to, "new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers," Obama's speech did not preclude incorporating settlements into Israel's new border, and in fact quite clearly endorsed that same notion by referring to, "mutually agreed swaps" (Obama did not even insist on those swaps being of equal size, as Europeans have done) - yet the emphasis was sufficiently different to be noticed.


W.S. SAYS:  Here we have a 68-word sentence that needs a semicolon or period after “population centers.” In addition, it has unnecessary commas before partial quotations (e.g., corrected, it should be “referred to ‘new realities” and “referring to ‘mutually agreed swaps’”).



Ujala Sehgal, “Palin's Rumored New Home in Arizona Revives 2012 Speculation” (Atlantic Wire):


Sarah Palin has deliberately left the question as to whether or not she will run in 2012 open.


W.S. SAYS: When you have a verb-preposition combination (as in “left open”), move the preposition as close to the verb as possible. The above sentence goes through a dozen words before it reaches the other part of the verb.




Bari Weiss, “David Mamet's Coming Out Party“ (Wall Street Journal  Weekend Interview):


In March 2008, David Mamet was outed in the Village Voice. The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright had a comedy about an American president running on Broadway, and—perhaps to help with ticket sales—decided to write an article about the election season.


W.S. SAYS: Imagine “an American president running on Broadway” and taking curtain bows. If the sentence had said “widgets and wonkers running on Broadway,” there would not be any confusion, but add the element of politics and trouble beckons. This forensic grammarian isn’t happy with one solution: “a comedy running on Broadway about an American president,” but it could have sufficed with a clock ticking towards a deadline.




Rachel Kaufman, “Prozac Killing E. coli in the Great Lakes: An upper or a downer?“ (National Geographic Daily News):


Traces of antidepressants such as Prozac have been found in both drinking and recreational water supplies throughout the world, in quantities experts say are too dilute to affect humans but which have been found to damage the reproductive systems of mollusks and may even affect the brains of animals like fish.


W.S. SAYS: The major problem is that the sentence is 51 words and becomes awkward later. Consider putting a period after “world” and perhaps starting the next sentence with a clause: “Although experts say blah blah blah.” “Merriam Webster Dictionary” would accept “dilute” as an adjective, but “diluted” would sound better. Those with backgrounds in science would not be bothered by “dilute” as an adjective.




BeeAlive Ad in American Profile:


This Story Could Change Your Life! This family has discovered something so amazing it has benefitted tens of thousands of peoples’ lives!


W.S. SAYS: Once again, the already plural “people” is having the apostrophe at the end instead of where it belongs: “people’s”.


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






Technology and the novel,

from Blake to Ballard


Writers have long been fascinated by what machinery gives and takes away. In a piece for The Guardian, Tom McCarthy charts literature's complicated relationship with technology, at once beautiful and menacing. McCarthy’s own experimental work has been hailed as the future of fiction.


Five Books Best

Describe War,

Says Historian


In The Browser’s regular feature on “FiveBooks,” Anna Blunty interviews military historian Michael Howard, who describes the strategy, the art and the experience of war, from the pins in the map to the horrors of the front line. He recommends these five books: On War by Carl von Clausewitz, The Art of War by Sun Tzu, The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, The General by C.S. Forester, and Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman, translator Robert Chandler.


Okay, so Why Do

People Say 'OK'?


Remy Melina explains how the word “OK” came about. It’s also spelled “okay” or “okeh,” although the latter isn’t mentioned in her article.


Esquire’s 70

Greatest Sentences


Esquire Magazine has published much the best by 20th Century writers. Their articles or stories include snippy remarks by Faulkner about Hemingway and by Gore Vidal about Bill Buckley. One of the 70 most memorable quotes was from “Horse Badorties Goes Out” by William Kotzwinkle: “Dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky dorky . . . .”


This writing

life, by

Richard Ford


Richard Ford says he is ambivalent: “I write novels and stories and essays for a living. But is it work?” He tells The Guardian, “I usually refer to writing as work because I don’t know what else to call it.”


The End


the Book?


John Steele Gordon in The American: Journal of the American Enterprise Institute says the book business will go through a transformation in the next decade or so more profound than any it has seen since Johannes Gutenberg introduced printing from moveable type in the 1450s.


For all his dazzling

genius, Philip Roth

still leaves critic cold


Philip Roth may be the greatest living master of the novel, but sometimes it takes more than mastery to win us over, says Philip Hensher in London’s Telegraph.


The Case

—Please Hear Me Out—

Against the Em Dash


Noreen Malone argues in Slate Magazine that modern prose doesn't need any more interruptions—seriously. She uses em-dash sentences to demonstrate how irritating they can become. Not listed in the article are these problems: Dashes don’t travel well. As text goes from, say, Word to desktop programs, the em dash may be replaced by a code (basically meaning the character can’t be found). Eventually the em dash (the long one) may be reduced to an en one (shorter) or even to an outright hyphen.


Closing libraries

is tantamount

to 'child abuse'


Speaking at a North London benefit, author and playwright Alan Bennett attacks cuts to local councils which will result in the closure of libraries, according to Mowrenna Ferrier in The Daily Telegraph.   


The torture of putting

pen to paper is

only getting worse


His handwriting has started to look like dangerously erratic reading from a heart monitor, writes Michael Deacon in the Daily Telegraph. He would like to be a traditionalist and oppose Edinburgh University’s recent decision to permit laptops in exams, but, like the students, he finds it a physical strain to use a pen.


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






Everyone who works in the domain of fiction is a bit crazy.

The problem is to render this craziness interesting.


– Francois Truffaut



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






BARD SOCIETY: Every Wednesday: 7 p.m.; Frank Green 234-8383; Email


FIRST COAST CHRISTIAN WRITERS GROUP: Every Thursday, 6:45 p.m. at Charles Webb-Wesconnett Library at the intersection of 103rd Street and Harlow Boulevard. Email: or,


FIRST COAST ROMANCE WRITERS: Second Saturday of each month; start time varies based on program; see website Chaffee Road Library; 1425 Chaffee Road South, Jacksonville. Info:


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 Willowbranch Library; 2875 Park Street 32205;


NORTHEAST FLORIDA CHAPTER OF FLORIDA WRITERS ASSN.: fourth Saturday of the month at 10:30 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Library (between Jacksonville and St. Augustine). Vic DiGenti, FWA regional director. For more information, check or


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


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








      THE ATAVIST (original nonfiction storytelling):




      BOOK COUNTRY (sponsored by Penguin Books):






      DAYS OF YORE (writers and artists’ struggles to succeed):


      HOW LANGUAGE WORKS (the cognitive science of linguistics from Indiana University):


THE PHRASE FINDER: http://www.phr


· Editor: Howard Denson