6 On reviews, author luncheon, book-signings (WS 0515)





Writing News for the Sunshine State

& the Solar System


Editor: Howard Denson

May 2015

To Unsubscribe or Change Your Email Address, hit REPLY and send in your request.

In This Issue:


NFW members explore self-publishing and reviews

Luncheon celebrates conservation, trilogy author Mary Alice Monroe

‘Water, water, everywhere’ emerges as theme of BookMark speakers for May

Florida Writers Assn. news

Stuff from a Writer’s Quill — Walt Whitman

Findings of a Forensic Grammarian – Howard Denson

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





As Carrol Wolverton looked around the table at the May quarterly meeting of the North Florida Writers, she joked that everyone would already know what she was going to say. (Ms. Wolverton is a past president and long-time member of the NFW.)


She may have been thinking of the adage by the ancient Roman Apuleius: “Familiarity breeds contempt, while rarity wins admiration.” Within other contexts, Apuleius was undoubtedly correct, but, with writing groups, familiarity may also breed awareness and admiration for how well a writer satisfied his or her goals in the writing of a piece to be published.


Ms. Wolverton shared an enthusiastic review of her book, “Freud in St. Augustine.” The reviewer commended her writing style, plus her ability to enter into the mind of a character with psychological problems and her accuracy in describing scenes around the Old City.


In the Q&A following the talk, members mentioned the frustration of having a psychotic review, one whose language is of an emotional attack along the line of “this effing pile of xxx doesn’t deserve to be called a book. Instead, it’s xxx that stinks up the room.” Theatre reviewers long ago mastered snarky one-liners, as Eugene Field did in the 19th Century with “All through the five acts of that Shakespearean tragedy he played the King as though under momentary apprehension that someone else was about to play the Ace.”

The flamers unfortunately come from thumb-writers on smart phones and such. Besides being infantile, their explosions deign only to destroy without impressing a reader with anything of merit. George S. Kaufman was writing about more sophisticated material when he said, “I understand your new play is full of single entendres.”

Unfortunately, too many of the flamers’ reviews may have many single entendres, but they may even be limited in their execrable text to only a handful of expressions, ranging from “eff this and that,” to “sh*t,” to whatever.

Overall, there is no solution to the problem. Flamers will continue to spew their negativity, but readers have some options. For example, if you have read a book and liked it, you may go online and write a brief review of the book. If the website permits a rating system of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent), then be sure to give the work an honest click. So many newspapers are continuing to uninvent themselves, dropping many features and book reviews, that writers may struggle even to find a Dorothy Parker insult out there (as in this about Katharine Hepburn: “She ran the gamut of emotions from A to B.”) – hd3



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?” or “Did the story get right the various references to voltage and electricity?”). As the works are being read, the respective authors should listen to the words and rhythms of their creations.


The other quarterly meetings for 2015 will be Saturday, July 11, and Saturday, Oct. 10. Speakers will be announced later.



The NFW meets at the VyStar Credit Union (760 Riverside Ave., next to the Fuller Warren Bridge and Saturday’s Riverside Arts Market).

The meeting, which is free and open to the public, will begin at noon and end before 3 p.m.


Parking: VyStar requests that NFW members and guests park on the side of the buildings to leave spaces for their regular customers.






The Amelia Island Plantation's Ocean Club is the setting for this special luncheon event set for Tuesday, June 2, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. There, New York Times best-selling author Mary Alice Monroe will unveil her new book, “The Summer's End,” Part Three in her Lowcountry Summer Trilogy. Ticket holders will enjoy a delicious meal in a beautiful setting, have an opportunity to hear and visit with this hugely popular author, and receive an autographed copy of her new book, all for price of $42.95 per person. 


Nature is the lifeblood of all Mary Alice Monroe's novels. Described as "the canary in the coal mine," Monroe's conservation convictions add richness and meaning to her books. All her novels involve hands-on research. For this trilogy, Monroe worked with researchers through the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) in Charleston, S.C., and volunteered at the Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key, Florida. 


The Lowcountry Summer trilogy is set against the backdrop of the Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and involves the complex relationships between three sisters of the Muir family at Sea Breeze, their historic home in the charming seaside town of Sullivan's Island, S.C. The powerful conclusion to the series finds the family facing an emotional season as the beloved family estate must be sold, and Mamaw and the three half-sisters each face loss and struggle to find a fresh start in life. Throughout the series, Monroe expertly raises awareness about the threats facing bottlenose dolphins, while engaging readers with a story that explores contemporary human and moral issues. 


Ms. Monroe is a bestselling author of nearly two dozen novels, several non-fiction titles, and children's books, and her body of work reflects her commitment to the natural world through literature. She is a featured speaker at both literary and conservation events. Her books, which are sold worldwide, have achieved Celebrating books, people, culture and creativity. 


She was awarded the South Carolina Center Book Award for Fiction and the International Book Award for Green Fiction. In May 2014, she was awarded the Career Achievement Award for mainstream fiction by RT Book Reviews, Southwest Florida's Distinguished Author Award, and the South Carolina Book Festival Literary Excellence Award. 


Tickets may be purchased online at www.ameliaislandbookfestival.org. Or, mail your check for $42.95 to Amelia Island Book Festival, P.O. Box 15286, Fernandina Beach, FL, 32035. For more information, call 904.624.1665. 








It just worked out that way, but BookMark owner Rona Brinlee wound up celebrating water, water everywhere, and each providing a book worth a good think. Les Standiford, for example, writes about how the fresh water got to Los Angeles, while Jan-Philipp  Sendker sets a mystery on an island off Hong Kong. Charles Martin titles his book, “Water from the Heart.”


Star Wars Day, “May the 4th Be With You,” Celebrate Early on Saturday, May 2


Say “May the 4th Be With You” out loud and you’ll hear the pun that Star Wars fans have turned into a rallying cry to proclaim their love of the saga. It’s the worldwide day to say “May the Force be with you” to all, and celebrate the beloved Star Wars story that binds our galaxy together. The BookMark will have posters & activities available along with treats to mark the day.  Come complete one of the activities for a chance to win a free Star Wars book!


Les Standiford, “Water to the Angels: William Mulholland, His Monumental Aqueduct, and the Rise of Los Angeles” (Ecco), Friday, May 8, 7 p.m.


In 1907, Irish immigrant William Mulholland designed and began to build one of the greatest civil engineering feats in history: the aqueduct that carried water 233 miles from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Los Angeles, allowing this small resource-challenged desert city to grow into a modern global metropolis.  Drawing on new research, Standiford vividly captures the larger-than-life engineer and the breathtaking scope of his six-year, $23 million project that would transform a region, a state, and a nation at the dawn of its greatest century.


Jan-Philipp Sendker, “Whispering Shadows” (Atria), Saturday, May 9, 7 p.m.


The first in a suspenseful new trilogy by the internationally bestselling author of The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, this gripping story follows a retired expat journalist in contemporary China who tries to crack a murder case as he battles his own personal demons. American expat Paul Leibovitz was once an ambitious adviser, dedicated father, and loving husband. But after living for nearly thirty years in Hong Kong, personal tragedy strikes and Paul’s marriage unravels in the fallout. Now Paul is living as a recluse on an outlying island of Hong Kong. When he makes a fleeting connection with Elizabeth, a distressed American woman on the verge of collapse, his life is thrown into turmoil. 


Charles Martin, “Water from My Heart” (Center Street), Tuesday, May 19, 7 p.m.


Charlie Finn had to grow up fast, living alone by age sixteen. Highly intelligent, he earned a life-changing scholarship to Harvard, where he learned how to survive and thrive on the outskirts of privileged society. That skill served him well in the cutthroat business world, as it does in more lucrative but dangerous ventures he now operates off the coast of Miami. Charlie tries to separate relationships from work. But when his choices produce devastating consequences, he sets out to right wrongs, traveling to Central America where he will meet those who have paid for his actions, including a woman and her young daughter. Will their fated encounter present Charlie with a way to seek the redemption he thought was impossible--and free his heart to love one woman as he never knew he could?  Charles Martin will launch his tour at The BookMark!


Karen White, “The Sound of Glass” (New American Library), Thursday, May 21, 7 p.m.


The New York Times bestselling author of “A Long Time Gone” now explores a Southern family’s buried history, which will change the life of the woman who unearths it, secret by shattering secret. It has been two years since the death of Merritt Heyward’s husband, Cal, when she receives unexpected news--Cal’s family home in Beaufort, South Carolina, bequeathed by Cal’s reclusive grandmother, now belongs to Merritt. Charting the course of an uncertain life--and feeling guilt from her husband’s tragic death, Merritt travels from her home in Maine to Beaufort, where the secrets of Cal’s unspoken-of past reside among the mud and jasmine of the ancestral Heyward home on the Bluff. This unknown legacy, now Merritt’s, will change and define her as she navigates her new life.


Francis Parker (aka Vic DiGenti), “Hurricane Island” (Windrusher), Friday, May 29, 7 p.m.


A reunion with an old friend turns deadly, and Quint Mitchell is plunged into a high- stakes game of murder and kidnapping.  Quint faces his most dangerous and baffling case yet, and this one is personal since one of the women taken is his girlfriend.  Quint and his friend, an ex-cop, dig through a series of baffling clues while battling ghosts from the past.  Then things get even worse when Hurricane Freda arrives.  


Mary Kay Andrews, “Beach Town” (St. Martin’s Press) & Mary Alice Monroe, The Summer’s End (Gallery Books), Wednesday, June 3 at 7 p.m.


What a double header!  Two New York Times bestselling southern authors in one evening.


In Beach Town, Mary Kay Andrews (author of The Fixer Upper and Savannah Blues) introduces us to Greer Hennessy, a struggling movie location scout tasked to find the perfect undiscovered beach town for a big budget movie.  She finds it in Florida, but the Mayor of this sleepy coastal town opposes anything that could adversely affect the area... until he is tempted by Greer herself.


With “The Summer’s End,” Mary Alice Monroe (author of the Lowcountry Summer trilogy) delivers the third in the series, taking readers back to the charm and sultry beauty of another beach town, Sullivan’s Island.  Summer is ending, and it’s time to sell the family home. Harper is just feeling confident and is not eager to leave the island, her sisters and beloved grandmother, and the Wounded Warrior who has claimed her heart.


The BookMark is located at 220 First St., Neptune Beach, Florida 32266.


For more information: Contact Ms. Brinlee at 904.241.9026 or bkmark@bellsouth.net




Despite the overcast weather, Victor DiGenti, FWA Regional Director, says better days lie ahead as we enter the merry month of May. I’ve assembled a bucketload of items for the May FWA Blog Post with details about meetings, workshops, conferences and competitions. 


Read all about it here and mark your calendars to be sure you don’t miss any of the meetings near you.


Keep smiling. Good weather promised for the weekend.


Check out news about writers at http://www.fwapontevedra.blogspot.com.


DiGenti himself is busy as himself writing the Windrusher series or using his penname Parker Francis to tell stories about  the mysteries in the life of Quint Mitchell, so check that out at http://www.parkerfrancis.com .






The words of my book nothing, the drift of it everything.


-- Walt Whitman





Joy V. Smith ran into a problem with her novel “Detour Trail” when one of her key characters was a mule named Jake. Says she in an April 27 post: One of my first sources said that mules were mostly black so I made Jake black 'cause I wanted to be accurate. Later I learned…that they could be the same colors as horses. After all that's in their genes!” For her guest post, go to Good Book Alert: http://goodbookalert.blogspot.com/



Findings of a




Follow the link below to find where even sane and sensible writers (and editors) have stumbled in their writing:


http://howarddenson. webs. com/theforensicgrammarian. htm


A paperback collection, “The Wrong Stuff: Findings of a Forensic Grammarian,” is available online at Amazon.com and Barnes & Nobel’s website. Go to http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D3PF180.






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.


With misgivings, the list generally omits lyricists (to avoid the plethora of garage-band guitarists who knock out a lyric in two minutes to go with a tune). Often lyricists are accomplished in other writing areas and may cause their inclusion (e.g., Bob Dylan, Johnny Mercer, and Cole Porter).


Unfortunately, some writers fret about identity theft and will only say they were born in 1972 or whenever. Typically that means they don’t get included on a “born this day” list. Recommendation: Writers may wish to create a “pen birthday”; that way, their names stay on the public’s radar.


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).





For a listing of meetings of the NFW and other groups in Northeast Florida, click here http://howarddenson.webs.com/meetingsofunfothers.htm





Writers, poets, and playwrights will find useful tools at http://howarddenson.webs.com/usefullinksforwriters.htm.






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 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 (rmblade@aol.com); Frank Green of The Bard Society (frankgrn@comcast.net); JJ Grindstaff-Swathwood (jgswathwood@gmail.com); Brad Hall (variablerush@gmail.com); Joseph Kaval (joseph.kaval@gmail.com); and Richard Levine (Richie.ALevine@gmail.com).





President: Howard Denson (hd3nson@hotmail. com)

Vice President: Joyce Davidson (davent2010@comcast. net)

Secretary: Kathy Marsh (kathygmarsh@bellsouth. net)

Treasurer: Richard Levine (richiea.levine@gmail.com); 5527 Edenfield Rd., Jacksonville, FL 32277


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.