The Electronic Write Stuff

Writing News for the
Sunshine State & the Solar System

North Florida Writers * October 2006 * Editor:  Howard Denson

In this issue:

7th Book Island Festival Set. Oct. 5-8

Selling an Audiobook – Joy V. Smith

Selling a Cool Book about the House that Joy Built – Joy V. Smith

Online Discussion Group Focuses on ‘The Poet of Loch Ness

Gathering to Honor Memory of John Hammond

            Writers’ Festival Extends Deadlines in Novels and Plays

Critiques at October Meeting

Quote from a Writer's Quill – Wilson Mizner

Writers Born in October: Thomas Wolfe, Helen McInnes, Bruce Catton, Arthur Miller, Ursula Le Guin, Denise Levertov, and many others

Calendar of Events



The seventh annual Amelia Book Island Festival will bring together 36 writers, editors, and expects this weekend in Fernandina Beach.

The festival, scheduled for Oct. 5-8, 2006, offers an informal, friendly setting for readers to meet and talk with authors, and for writers to meet others in their field, along with agents and publishers.

It all takes place in the ambiance of Fernandina Beach, the historic harbor town that is the jewel of the "Book Island." Amelia, a 13-mile-long barrier island, was discovered by Europeans four centuries ago. Reached by bridge from the mainland, it's just north of Jacksonville on Florida's northeast coast.

The Festival is dedicated to promoting literacy by showing that reading is fun and worthwhile. The Amelia Book Island Festival is a not-for-profit 501(c) 3 organization and donations are tax-deductible.

Speakers will include Steve Berry, Cassandra King, Donna Woolfolk Cross, Claire Matturro, Brad Thor, Bill Belleville, Janis Owens, Sohrab Fracis, and many more.

 For a complete schedule, visit the ABIF website at        

Friday’s event is entitled “Just Write It!” and will feature workshops from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.  The panels and presentations (which will cost $50 for the public and $25 for FCCJ students) will focus on such topics as Great Beginnings, The Perfect Pitch, Writing & Selling Children’s Books, Seeking an Agent, The Art of Column Writing, Mystery, Murder & Mayhem, Creating Memorable Characters, Spicing up the Plot.

Saturday’s “Reader’s Day” is free and is open to the public.

Selling an Audiobook

By Joy V. Smith


Aspiring writers who focus primarily on the “paper” market often ask me questions about how I broke into the audiobook market.

I sold three stories a few years ago to an audiobook producer, and he optioned several more.  Unfortunately the first audiobook (on two cassettes) didn't sell well.  (I believe he needed to market it better.)  I did, however, get the money up front, and one of my stories, “Pretty Pink Planet,” was the cover story, and the cover art made a nifty tee shirt.  [The cover is on the Idea Boutique website.]

 I've kept my eyes open ever since for audiobook opportunities.  (Of course, I keep my eyes open for any publishing opportunities!)  I don't remember where I found the first audiobook market or the second because I subscribe to different marketing/writing newsletters and browse online listings, such as Ralan's.  So, when I came across Hadrosaur Productions, I offered the editor, David Summers, at least four stories.  He needed stories of a specific length, though, and we went on from there.  I sent him three possibilities, and he chose my Sugar Time series.


Hadrosaur uses drama school students, not professionals, and it took a while to select the cast.  I don't recall editing; I did get a script, which I have somewhere and a test cassette, which I had to approve also.  By the way, my sister said--Don't ever use a name like Japheth again!  The audiobook is available as a cassette and a CD; and it's available from Hadrasaur and Project Pulp.  I got several copies, which I've sold and given away, and Mr. Summers sells them whenever he goes to a SF con.  Hadrosaur is looking into options for making mp3's of Sugar Time available in a podcast format.


Audiobooks are sold at book stores and truck stops, among other places.  There are a number of audiobook markets and an audiobook web ring; and I came across what looks like a DIY audiobook producer recently.  And now there's podcasting/mp3 downloads as a means of distributing audiobooks. One example of an audiobook podcasting site is (Evo Terra and Tee Morris, who run Podiobooks, are looking primarily for complete novels.)  Distributing audio over computers (thanks to the iPod and other similar devices) may be a wave of the future.


At least one publisher is looking at distributing audio via paid mp3 downloads.  One distinct advantage of audiobooks on the web over ebooks is that there's basically one format -- mp3 -- and numerous free players that will play it. Also, the audiobook people seem to understand the secret of making money at this game, which is keep the downloads cheap enough so that it's simply easier to buy the files than steal them.



By Joy V. Smith


I'd been writing for years and had written a number of short stories, novellas, and non-fiction articles, but no book; and, of course, people always want to know about your books. 

I planned for a long time to write a SF novel and had one started with notes and information in a folder, but then I built a house.  We'd sold the old house and browsed for a long time, but never found the house that met our needs (three adults and a house built for the climate). 

So, finally, and reluctantly, we switched our house search to a land search.  By that time it was nearing the end of the 24-month period in force then; because of that and building delays, our accountant advised us that someone should move into the house before the two years were up. 

I and Xena, my Boxer mix, moved in, accompanied part of the time by my sister.  We bunked in the back bedroom with mats on the floor, a fan, and an old chamber pot (family heirloom).  We used the portalet during the day.  We lived on bottled water and junk food and the occasional picnic that family and friends brought and ate supper at the old house.  We also landscaped the five acres (we could work around the edges and not get in the way). 

But most of the time I was alone with Xena and the contractor's crew, who were nice guys, by the way.  So, I kept a diary and wrote on the card table.  That table, two chairs, our sleeping mats, and the chamber pot were all the furniture we had.  (When the cupboards and Shaker pegboards went in, I was really happy.)

 After the house was built, I sent out query letters with sample chapters and wrote about the house, often in e-mails to friends and family, which I filed.  I got a few nibbles, which didn't pan out, and sent out another query every time I came across a new market.  And then one day I received an e-mail saying, “We like your book and want to publish it.”  I was thrilled and felt warm and fuzzy.


Hmm.  I don't remember anything about them; I'll look then up online. 

Oh, oh, this doesn't look good.

I discovered that PA accepted practically every ms it was sent.  I read a lot of PA bashing and read a couple more balanced posts that said it might be good for some people.  I compared royalty rates, contracts, etc. and decided that this works for me.  I did not want to go the self-publishing route and pay to have my book published.  I'm an English major so editing wasn't a problem.  And nowadays you have to market your book anyway unless you're a big name.  Then you get to do book tours.

They wanted to see a whole book, though, which I hadn't written yet except for those sample chapters.  I got out all the house books and magazines I'd been piling in my closet, put together everything I had filed from e-mails to friends and family, researched magazines, books, and online resources, added my diary excerpts, and printed out draft after draft.  My sister and I read each new version; she made suggestions, and I made a lot of changes, adding new information and filling gaps each time.  Eventually I was satisfied.  It wasn't a step-by-step textbook; it was a useful guide for those thinking of building, so I sent it in.

There wasn't much of an editing process, but I'd learned that online.  Now the book production began.  I sent them the house plans and 14 house photos, plus one of Xena and me (all taken by my sister).  I had to change the photos to black and white.  (Black and white!  I felt a little better when I looked at Norm Abram's house book; his photos were black and white too.) 

I looked at a number of non-fiction books for ideas about layout, etc. and noticed that some chapter numbers were in interesting graphics. 


How about putting my chapter numbers in a little house--just a square with a triangle for a roof.  They did it.  We worked on the cover for a long time, and I'm sure I made the designer crazy, but she was very patient. 

Some of my ideas weren't feasible, as I saw each time I looked at the latest proof.  (My printer's color ink cartridge running low about that time confused the issue a bit.  I liked that purple!)  The print on the final cover is white--to stand out against the dark blue background, but Scorching is in red.  At one point I thought about putting other words in different colors--and the designer's hair probably stood straight up--but the consensus was that that looked like a children's book.

My book covers the building process and what’s involved in building your home; it includes diary excerpts, photos, and advice from planning to punch list and beyond; and it was on two different Barnes & top ten lists, and it was on the Reviewer's Choice list in the February 2005 issue of "Small Press Bookwatch":

The final result: I like the layout; the cover is still too dark (I had them lighten it, but it should have been even lighter), and there is no title on the spine because it's too narrow.  (This is not a good thing for book stores.) Even so, I am satisfied with my book.

(The author is a freelancer from Lakeland, Fla.)




There is a new online discussion group, Basically_Books, that has selected THE POET OF LOCH NESS (Thomas Dunne Books, 2005) as its first selection.  The novel is by Brian Corrigan and won the novel contest of the Florida First Coast Writers’ Festival in 2001. Discussion of POET will begin Nov. 1 and will continue through the month.  Interested persons are invited to join the group and engage in the discussion.


Also, it is a non-genre driven discussion group (and it is looking for new members as well as recommendations for future months).


If interested, those with Yahoo accounts should click on the link below and sign up:

If this link doesn't work for you, then click the longer one below)


Or go to the home page and clicking "Join This Group":


If you still have trouble, then send an e-mail to





A “John Hammond Day” gathering will be held at the Spring Park gazebo in Green Cove Springs at 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 9. The event celebrates the life of the environmental poet and friend to many across the globe.

He died on Sept. 20 after a lengthy illness.  When he spoke to the North Florida Writers during the summer, he joked about premature articles about his death, saying, like Mark Twain, reports of his death were greatly exaggerated then.

Organizers say the gathering is informal so visitors should feel free to bring blankets and chairs to sit upon. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made for research and cure to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, 7077 Bonneval Rd. (Suite 610), Jacksonville, FL 32216.

            Writers’ Festival Extends Deadlines in Novels and Plays

The Florida First Coast Writers Festival has extended its deadlines to Nov. 1 in the novel and play contests.  The WF is also accepting entries for short fiction and poetry.

NOVELS ($39 each entry; deadline Nov. 1): Novel entries in the Josiah W. Bancroft Sr. Novel Contest have no minimum or maximum length, and the writer may leave his or her name on the manuscript. The contest wants the first 100 or so pages. The final-round judges will be novelists Lenore Hart (Ordinary Springs and Waterwoman) and David Poyer (The Gulf, Thunder on the Mountain).

Recent winners of top prizes have included Brian Jay Corrigan (The Poet of Loch Ness, published by Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's) and Steve Berry (The Third Secret, a New York Times best-seller published by Ballantine).

SHORT FICTION ($15 each entry; deadline Nov. 1): Each short story in the Page Edwards Short Fiction Contest should be no longer than 6,000 words. One copy should have the authors name, address, phone number, and any e-mail address; the other copy should only have the text and the title. There is no limit to the number of stories that may be submitted, but the contest officials suggest each entrant submit his or her best entries. The final-round judge is Sohrab Homi Fracis, an Iowa Short Fiction Collection winner for Ticket to Minto.

PLAYS ($29 each entry; deadline Nov. 1): The Festival is also sponsoring its third annual contests for full-length plays (usually at least two acts or enough for an evening's entertainment). The entrant should submit the entire play. The winning entry will at least have a staged reading during the 2008 Festival as "An Evening of Entertainment."

POETRY ($7 each entry, three for $18; deadline Dec. 1): The Festival has two poetry contests:

The Douglas Freels Poetry Contest will focus on the traditional themes of poetry (love, rejection, death, etc.).

The Robert Grimes "Good Earth" Poetry Contest will spotlight poetry involving ecology, love of nature, etc.

In either poetry category, each entry should be no longer than 30 lines and each entry should be printed on one sheet of paper. One version should have the poets name, address, phone number, and e-mail address (if available), while no identification should be on the other version. Again, there is no limit on the number of poems that may be submitted, but the contest officials recommend that an entrant select his or her three or four best poems.

POSTAGE & RETURN/NON-RETURN OF MANUSCRIPTS: Entries in all contests will NOT be returned, so entrants should not submit their only copies.

PRIZES: In poetry, identical amounts will be given to the winners of the Douglas Freels and Robert Grimes prizes: first prize, a $150; second, $125; third, $100; in short fiction, first prize, $250; second, $150; third, $100. The first-place novel winner will receive $500, with the second- and third-place winners receiving $200 and $100 respectively.

All entry checks or money orders should be made out to "First Coast Writers' Festival" and mailed to Writers' Festival Contests, FCCJ North, 4501 Capper Rd., Jacksonville, FL 32218, care of Dr. Dana Thomas.

In all categories, entries should be original and unpublished.

The Festival's website ( will instruct entrants about how to do the "bio" sheets for all contests and the logline and narrative summary for the novel contest.

In addition, visual or graphic artists will find information there about the Writers' Festival poster contest (deadline Oct. 1; first place, $200).


Critiques at OCTOBER Meeting

The North Florida Writers will focus on critiques at the Oct. 14 meeting at 2 p.m. at the Webb Westconnett Library (corner of 103rd Street and Harlow Boulevard).



Poets are born, not paid.


-- Wilson Mizner


Writers born in October


     1--William Beckford (1760?), Ernest Haycox (1899), Tim O'Brien (1946); 2--Wallace Stevens (1870), Graham Greene (1904); 3--Fulke Greville Brooke (1554), George Bancroft (1800), Alain-Fournier (Henri Alban Fournier) (1886), Thomas Wolfe (1900), Gore Vidal (1925), James Herriot (1916), Judith Johnson Sherwin (1936); 4--Jeremias Gotthelf (Albert Bitzius) (1797), Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1837), Alvin Toffler (1928);

     5--Louise Fitzhugh (1928), Peter Ackroyd (1949); 6--Bo Hjalmar Bergman (1869), Thor Heyerdahl (1914); 7--Helen McInnes (1907), Imamu Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) (1934), Thomas Keneally (1935); 8--José de Cadalso y Vázquez (1741), Philarète Chasles (1798); 9--Sir Richard Blackmore (1654), Edward William Bok (1863), Bruce Catton (1899);

     10--James Clavell (1924), Harold Pinter (1930); 11--Steen Steensen Blicher (1782), Elmore Leonard (1925); 13--Thomas Haynes Bayly (1797), Frank Gilroy (1925), Chris Carter (1957); 14--Katherine Mansfield (1888), E. E. Cummings (1894);

     15--Isabella Lucy Bell Bishop (1831), Friedrich Nietzsche (1844), P. G. Wodehouse (1881), Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. (1917), Mario Puzo (1920), Italo Calvino (1923); 16--Oscar Wilde (1854), Eugene O'Neill (1888); 17--Sir John Bowring (1792), Georg Büchner (1813), Yvor Winters (1900), Nathanael West (1903), Arthur Miller (1915), Jimmy Breslin (1930); 18--Henri Bergson (1859), Barry Gifford (1946), Ntozake Shange (1948), Terry McMillan (1951), Rick Moody (1961); 19--Sir Thomas Browne (1605), John LeCarre (1931);

     20--Karl Theodorree (1808), Arthur Rimbaud (1854), Ellery Queen co-author Frederic Dannay (1905), Art Buchwald (1925), Michael McClure (1932); 21--Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772), Ursula K. Le Guin (1929); 22--Ivan Bunin (1870), Doris Lessing (1919), Max Apple (1941); 23--Michael Crichton (1942); 24--Alban Butler (1710), Moss Hart (1904), Denise Levertov (1923);

     25--Benjamin Constant (1767), John Berryman (1914), Harold Brodkey (1930), Anne Tyler (1941); 26--Andrei Bely (Boris N. Bugary), (1880), Karin Maria Boye (1900), Beryl Markham (1902), Pat Conroy (1945); 27--Hester Chapone (1727), Dylan Thomas (1914), Sylvia Plath (1932), Fran Lebowitz (1950); 28--Nicholas Brady (1659), Pío Baroja (1872), Evelyn Waugh (1903), John Hollander (1929), Anne Perry (1938); 29--James Boswell (1740);

     30--Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821), Ezra Pound (1885), Rudolfo Anaya (1937); 31--Christopher Anstey (1724), John Keats (1795), Dick Francis (1920).



Meetings of NFW are held at 2 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month in the meeting room of the Webb Westconnett Library (corner of 103rd Street and Harlow Boulevard). Check the website at for other information.

Sat., Oct. 14, 2 p.m.

Sat., Nov. 11, 2 p.m.


You may receive feedback from specific individuals by mailing the manuscript and return postage to the above address.

Past speakers have included novelists Jack Hunter, David Poyer, Page Edwards, Ruth Coe Chambers, William Kerr, Tom Lashley, Vic DiGenti, and Nate Tolar; poets, William Slaughter, Mary Baron, Mary Sue Koeppel, Dorothy Fletcher, George Gilpatrick, John Hammond; columnists Vic Smith, Tom Ivines, and Robert Blade; editors Buford Brinlee and Nan Ramey; agent Debbie Fine; magazine editor Sara Summers; medical writers Elizabeth Tate and Michael Pranzatelli; oral historian Robert Gentry; plus many others.


The Write Staff

Richard Levine, President (

Carrol Wolverton, Vice President (

Kathy Marsh, Secretary (

Howard Denson, Treasurer and newsletter editor (

Joel Young, Public Relations (

Doris Cass, Hospitality (

Presidents Emeritus:  Frank Green, Dan Murphy, Howard Denson, Nate Tolar, Joyce Davidson (, Margaret Gloag (, Richard Levine, Bob Alexander, Jo Ann Harter, Carrol Wolverton

Newsletter address: The Write Stuff, FCCJ North,
Box 21, 4501 Capper Rd., Jacksonville, FL 32218

Homepage address:

Homepage editor: Richard Levine

Submissions to the newsletter should generally be about writing or publishing. We pay in copies to the contributors, with modest compensation for postage and copying.


If you are writing a story or poem, you will need some expert feedback -- the sort that you will receive at a meeting of the North Florida Writers.

You won't profit from automatic praise that a close friend or relative might give or jealous criticism from others who may feel threatened by your writing.

The NFW specializes in CONSTRUCTIVE feedback that will enable your manuscript to stand on its own two feet and demand that it be accepted by an editor or agent. Hence, you need the NFW.

The North Florida Writers is a writer's best friend because we help members to rid manuscripts of defects and to identify when a work is exciting and captivating.

Membership is $15 for students, $25 for individuals, and $40 for a family. (Make out checks to WRITERS.)

Won't you join today?

The following is an application. Mail your check to WRITERS,
Box 21, FCCJ North, 4501 Capper Rd., Jacksonville, FL 32218.


St. address____________________________________

Apt. No. ______________________________________

City ________________State _____ Zip __________

E-mail address(es) ___________________________________


When you attend a meeting of the North Florida Writers, you eventually discover that NO ONE has ever died while his or her manuscript was being read and critiqued. You may be ready to face the ordeal yourself. . .or, reading this, you may wonder what exactly takes place during a critiquing.

First, you pitch your manuscript into a stack with others' works-in-progress. Then one of the NFW members hands out each piece to volunteer readers, taking care NOT to give you back your own manuscript to read.

Second, as the reading begins, each author is instructed NOT to identify himself or herself and especially NOT to explain or defend the work. The writer may never have heard the piece read aloud by another's voice, so the writer needs to focus on the sound of his or her sentences.

Third, at the finish of each selection, the NFW members try to offer constructive advice about how to make the story better. If a section was confusing or boring, that information may be helpful to the author.

The NFW will listen to 10 pages (double-spaced) of prose (usually a short story or a chapter).


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