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

  In this issue:
Not until you have a sufficiently rich sentence structure and enough words to define the third cousin four times removed of the mother’s uncle can you have incest and kinship rules. So that grammar, in a way, is a necessary condition for basic moral law. – George  Steiner (commenting on Claude Lévi-Strauss)
In this issue:
Stuff (and links) from hither and yon
North Florida Writers to explore changes in its procedures
Dianne Tribble to speak to Clay Writers about writing, editing anthologies
Fernandina library lovers to learn about Florida cowboys and cattle in April
Former corporate exec to discuss Op Ed writing with Writers by the Sea.
Randy Wayne White to meet with fans at BookMark Mar. 20
Florida Book Awards honor Thomason and Chandler from First Coast
FWA news from Vic DiGenti
Writers Born This Month
REGULAR POSTINGS: 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.
Which books have been
unfairly maligned?
Benjamin Moser and Charles McGrath discuss books with undeserved bad reputations. Moser focuses on the fiction of Susan Sontag, while McGrath examines works by Rudyard Kipling.





Hannah Long explains that the BBC is doing right by Agatha Christie. She says: “It’s been a long time since the heyday of the great ensemble detective story. The last such production may be 2001's Gosford Park: less a mystery than a meditation on the class system. Sherlock Holmes's 21st-century metrosexual alter ego disdains mystery for melodrama, substance for style. Murder has left the drawing room for the crowded, violent thoroughfare; instead of intelligent puzzles we receive grim and obvious murder plots more interested in the violent act than its cause.” She hopes that “the BBC's recent, lavish adaptation of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None marks a return of intelligent detective fiction to mainstream culture. On the one hand, it was definitely a traditional mystery.”

The 2016 finalists

for the PEN/Faulkner Award


The judges for the PEN/Faulkner Award this year are Abby Frucht, Molly McCloskey and Sergio Troncoso. They have considered almost 500 works of fiction by Americans published in the United States during 2015, according to The Washington Post’s Ron Charles. The finalists are James Hannaham for “Delicious Foods,” Julie Iromuanya for “ Mr. and Mrs. Doctor,” Viet Thanh Nguyen for “The Sympathizer,” Elizabeth Tallent for “Mendocino Fire,” and Luis Alberto Urrea for “The Water Museum.”  
To read or not to read;
the 10 best new books
on Shakespeare
More books are written about three topics: Jesus and Christianity, the American Civil War, and Shakespeare and his plays. Jerry Brotton examines ten new books on Shakespeare: his impact on lives in Swaziland and other parts of the world, the original pronunciation of his Tudor/Stuart language used in the plays and sonnets, Shakespeare’s financial success, and other topics.
As the region’s second oldest writing group (behind Frank Green’s Bard Society), the North Florida Writers (NFW) has passed the quarter-century mark, and a committee of officers has recommended that the group evaluate its procedures to see where changes may need to be made.
On critiques, the group has pieces read by anyone except the actual author. The logic for the approach is that the reading may be the first time that the author has actually heard his or her own words. Moreover, the author is not permitted to defend or explain the work, with the logic being that a manuscript arrives at an editor’s desk with its own quality and interest speaking on its behalf.

A different approach could be to let the writers elect how their works are critiqued.  Options may include the following:

* Traditional, as we have done it, with someone reading the writers' work aloud to be followed by a verbal critique.

* The writers reading their own works aloud.

* A piece may be emailed out, or posted on Facebook (or a link on Facebook), to be read by people before the meeting and then discussed.

* A video or audio of the piece can be read aloud and posted online, followed by a

* A piece may be read by the group during the meeting, followed by discussion.

* Or another manner requested by the writer and acceptable to the group.

The NFW needs to examine its dues structure. Formerly, regular annual dues were $25 each, with $40 for a family and $15 for a student. For years, the NFW contributed to or financed entirely the novel prizes of the Florida First Coast Writers’ Festival. When the college cancelled the annual festival, the group had a sizeable account but with few expenses except for speakers’ fees and annual renewals of our web page. Since we had no expenses, we suspended the dues for the past four or five years.
Now that the account has fallen to $1,000, we need to examine our dues structure. Some dues options:

* Restart payable dues, either at the current rate or a different one (e.g., $15 a year). Associated privileges or benefits would accrue only to paying members.  Dues could be paid via online.

* Possible benefits could include discounts to businesses, the right to have a piece critiqued, t-shirts, discounts to conferences, depending on what could be arranged.
The committee noted, “When we started, Jacksonville only had Frank Green’s Bard Society and Poetry Jacksonville (a.k.a. PoJax). The poetry group relocated to Green Cove Springs and disappeared. The writing scene in the First Coast saw conferences and book fairs get established and then phase out. These included Night of Literary Feasts (which became Much Ado About Books), the Florida First Coast Writers’ Festival, and Fernandina Beach’s Amelia Island Book Festival. Only the Fernandina event survives. The Florida Writers Association came on the scene and has established chapters throughout the region and the state. As an independent writing organization, the NFW seems to have these options: (1) Continue as we have been doing, with adjustments as necessary; (2) Ally ourselves with the FWA with its higher annual dues; (3) Discontinue meetings and only continue with the newsletter; or (4) Discontinue meetings and the newsletter.”
Members and potential members may wish to make some recommendations. If so, send these to Howard Denson at or Richard A. Levine at
The Clay Writers Association will hear J. Dianne Tribble, author and life coach, at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, Mar. 16, when she talks on “So You Want to Write an Anthology: What Happens Behind the Scenes.” Her talk will be in the meeting room of the Orange Park Library (2054 Plainfield Ave., off Kingsley Ave. behind the Dairy Queen). The talk is free and open to the public.
Ms. Tribble will discuss:
1.   How to identify your “what” and your “why.”
2.   The role of commitment and consistency.
3.   Tips to promote your book.
Time to write? “Let’s identify it, deal with it, and get ready to soar!” J Dianne says. Make your decision and get going. Her books include “The Star Inside You Motivational Nuggets & Inspirational Stories of Encouragement” (2013), “So You Want to Be a Life Coach” (2015), and “Chew & Chat: Morsels at the Table” (2015).
She is a certified professional Christian life coach and trainer and an inspiring speaker and has worked with more than 70 professional life coaches and trainers. She is also the CEO and founder of At the Table Life Coaching & Motivational Speaking Services LLC. She received the 2015 Spirit of Service award from University of Phoenix for her impact on the community. She also serves as an ambassador at PACE Center, a high-risk girls’ school, where she teaches Journaling & Life Skills. Her website and blog: and
Writers By the Sea meeting is this Thursday (March 17), at the Amelia Island Museum of History (3rd St), at 6 p.m., according to Nadine Vaughan, the group leader.
Writers By the Sea will learn about Op Ed writing by former corporate executive, Bob Langert. Op Ed’s refer to columns opposite to the main editorial page of a newspaper. Langert’s talk will be followed by small group meetings. Each is free and open to any writer whether published or not.
Following the main presentation, small groups will be offered for those who want to deepen their writing experience. The groups include “The Writer Within” (led by Marla McDaniels), a Playwright group (Doug McDowell), "Master Crafters” (Nancy Blanton), plus an “Essays and Short Stories" group (Jim Ravage).  While most small groups meet during the week after our Writers by the Sea meeting, Group leaders provide all you need to know to attend.
As a vice president in global sustainability, for the McDonald’s Corporation, Langert helped guide them into greener pastures during his 32 years in their employ. Langert helped develop Five Sustainability Pillars:  Food, Sourcing, Community, People and Planet.  Following his retirement, Langert joined GreenBiz part-time as an editor at large. There, he wrote a regular column and worked with the GreenBiz Executive Networking in peer-to-peer learning for sustainability executives.
For details about all future Writers By the Sea meetings, always check out our FaceBook page: Writers by the Sea - Amelia Island. For additional information, contact the group leader at
Friends of the Fernandina Beach Library (FOL) was awarded grants from the Florida Humanities Council (FHC) that will fund free public programs at the library's new Community Room this spring.
Bob Stone will discuss "Florida Cattle Ranching: Five Centuries of Tradition" on Thursday, April 28. The program will begin at 6 p.m.
He will discuss the history and culture of the nation's oldest cattle ranching state from the colonial period to the 21st century.  Stone, a folklorist and media-producer based in Gainesville, is the recipient of the 2011 Florida Folk Heritage Award.  He is co-curator of the award-winning travelling exhibition "Florida Cattle Ranching" and author of the catalog book, published under the auspices of the Florida Cattlemen's Foundation. This fascinating multi-media presentation will explore the unique foodways, crafts, occupational folklore, cowboy poetry and rodeo culture of Florida's cowboys.
The program is free and open to the public. Reserve your space at the Fernandina Beach Library, 25 N. 4th Street, or call 904.277.7365.
FOL, with a membership of over 400, is a non-profit group established to assist and promote the Fernandina Beach Library through fund-raising and public programming.  FHC is the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities which funds and coordinates statewide public humanities programs and publications that explore the people, places, and ideas that shape our state.
New York Times bestselling Florida mystery author Randy Wayne White will be at The BookMark on Sunday, March 20 at 7 p.m. to talk about and sign copies of his new Doc Ford novel, "Deep Blue."
Still recovering from injuries he received in Cuba during his last adventure. Doc Ford accepts a covert operation to track down an ISIS sympathizer in Mexico. Not surprisingly, Ford's suspicions about one of the three murder victims are confirmed. As this pulse-pounding tale unfolds, it gets harder and harder to determine who is alive and who is not. And the dangers keep increasing for Ford, Tomlinson, and others. This is White's 23rd Doc Ford novel.
The BookMark is keeping the lights on a little later than usual on a Sunday for one of our favorite authors.
White is also the author of more of three novels in his Hannah Smith series, plus four collections of non-fiction. A one-time veteran fishing guide, he lives in an old house built on an Indian mound and spends much of his free time windsurfing, playing baseball, and hanging out at Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille on Sanibel Island.

The Florida Book Awards coordinated by the Florida State University Libraries have honored over a score of writers in the state. The award is the nation’s most comprehensive state book awards program. It was established to celebrate the best in Florida literature.  

 In the popular fiction category, Bruce Thomason of Jacksonville Beach won the bronze for his novel “Perception of Power” (Batjak Publishing). He joins other notable past winners, such as Ward Larsen, Brad Meltzer, and Randy Wayne White.

“Perception of Power” is a fast-paced detective thriller filled with political intrigue, a murder for hire scheme gone awry, and surprising plot twists. It explores what can happen when the raw pursuit of power matters above all else.
In the general fiction category, the Silver award went to “Free to Be (Life Everlasting Press) by Gracie L. Chandler (Jacksonville)
Other winners include Andres Pi Andreu (Miami), Cynthia Barnett (Gainesville), June Melby Benowitz (Sarasota), Susan Cerulean (Tallahassee), Katherine Clark (Pensacola), Robert L. Crawford (Thomasville, GA), Jonathan Fink (Pensacola), Lane Fredrickson (Delray Beach), J. Matthew Gallman (Gainesville), Brandi George (Tallahassee), Christina Diaz Gonzalez (Coral Gables), Jesse Goolsby (Tallahassee), Marti Green (The Villages), Patricia Gussin (Longboat Key), Tameka Bradley Hobbs (Pembroke Pines), Gabriel Horn (St. Petersburg), Shaun David Hutchinson (Port St. Lucie), Patrick Kendrick (West Palm Beach), Donald Morrill (Tampa), Dianne Ochiltree (Sarasota), Arva M. Parks (Miami), and Nic Stoltzfus (Blountstown).

Awards were given in the following categories: Children's Literature, Florida Nonfiction, General Fiction, General NonFiction, Poetry, Popular Fiction, Visual Arts, Young Adult Literature, and Spanish Language Book.  
We take a leap into March with our latest blog post calendaring events, meetings and other items of interest to area writers. Click here to find out about meetings of the River City Writers, the Clay County Writers, Writers By the Sea, the Ancient City Writers, and the Ponte Vedra Writers. And there’s more.
Enjoy your Leap Day, and have a productive month. Hope to see you at one of our FWA meetings.
Vic DiGenti
FWA Regional Director
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.
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).
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: Robert Blade Writing & Editing (; Frank Green of The Bard Society (; JJ Grindstaff-Swathwood (; Brad Hall (; Lynn Skapyak Harlin (; Joseph Kaval (; and Richard Levine  (
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.

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