Writing News for the Sunshine State & the Solar System

* Editor: Howard Denson * June 2012


In This Issue:
NFW to critique manuscripts at June 9 meeting at Willowbranch Library
Paper on Stetson Kennedy wins Florida history award
Ads in Ebooks -- Scott Nicholson
The Wrong Stuff – Howard Denson
Stuff from Hither and Yon
Stuff from a Writer's Quill – Toni Morrison
Writers Born This Month
Meetings of NFW and Other Groups
Useful Links
The Write Staff
Membership Form
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
NFW to critique manuscripts
at June 9 meeting
at Willowbranch Library
The North Florida Writers members and guests will critique manuscripts at the June 9 meeting at the Willowbranch Library. The meeting will be at 2 p.m. Saturday in the basement meeting room at the library. The public is welcome to attend all meetings.
For the critiques, someone other than the author of respective works will 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 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 their creations. 
Willowbranch is located in Riverside at 2875 Park St., Jax 32205, but, if you are unfamiliar with area, go to and use MapQuest to find the easiest route there. The WB phone is 904.381.8490.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Paper on Stetson Kennedy
wins Florida history award
According to Dr. Ben Brotemarkle, executive director of the Florida Historical Society, Jonathan Bosworth’s paper "Distinguishing Activism from Journalism in the Career of Stetson Kennedy" has earned the Carolyn Mays Brevard Award for most outstanding essay or research paper on Florida history produced by an undergraduate student at a U.S. college or university.
Bosworth is a professional writer and journalist from Jacksonville. He graduated Cum Laude from Flagler College in St. Augustine and worked as an intern with writer and activist Stetson Kennedy for the final six months of Kennedy's life. He has worked with Kennedy's "last wife," Sandra Parks, studying and organizing Kennedy's work since his passing in the summer of 2011.
The award was presented on May 24 at the Florida Historical Society Annual Meeting and Symposium Awards Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Tampa.
The award came with a $200 stipend.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
By Scott Nicholson
I've gotten out of the "writer babble" business for two reasons: (1) I don't know as much as I thought I did, and (2) it's all changing so fast that even the boldest predictions of digital evolution quickly become laughable.
I don't even use traditional publishing as a reference point anymore, because that is so far removed from most writers' realities that it may as well be Shangri-la or Hollywood. The indie vs. trad debate is now only meaningful for a small group of people, and they are all making way more money than you or I.
So you are in it, and, if you are lucky, you made a nice little nest egg back when everyone was standing on the sidelines deciding whether indie was the way to go. Hopefully, you shook off the intellectual shackles that chained us to the agent speed-dating sessions at writing conferences and were hammered and locked into place by "publishing experts" with 20-year writing careers in the old system.
You know the mantras: "Get an agent," "Only hacks self-publish," and "You can't produce and distribute a book without the advice of publishing experts." Basically, ego affirmation. Of course the experts didn't want to lose their position of authority (and in the agents' case, the intermediary status of being the first in line to get checks.)
But the gate was left open and the horses all got out of the barn, or something like that (come up with your own gatekeeper metaphor; I am writing this for free!) So now we have a market where the 99-cent ebook had a year's run, and the pool was finally beginning to find stratification (crappy books sinking, good books nailing stable plateaus) when Amazon unleashed the latest version of indie roulette—the free ebook.
I'm on record as predicting the flat-text e-book era has an outside range of five years, at least for fiction—specialized non-fiction and manuals will continue to be valuable for their content alone. I believe e-book sales will continue, but certainly not with expanding profits for all involved. Now that there are thousands of free Kindle books available every single day, how long before readers come to expect and even demand free books exclusively?
Freebie roulette. Great for readers. Good for Amazon (maybe in the short term, but it is hard to figure the long term). Terrible for authors.
The market is diverse enough to support many different price tiers, but writers who want to survive in 2015 will need to make money off of free books, or they will soon quit writing.
I only see one outcome: ad-supported or sponsored books. At first blush, you'd think N.Y. has an advantage, since Madison Avenue is right there. But can corporations, with their large structures, be able to compete when indie or smaller entities can react more quickly to present conditions instead of protecting some imagined status quo?
J.K. Rowling can inspire a Pottermore built around her brand, and James Patterson, Tom Clancy, and Clive Cussler have already built factories around their names (and, yes, V.C. Andrews, you can roll over in your grave two or three more times for all I care, because this is all your fault). But most of us are not factories or we wouldn't have to indie publish.
This points out the new era of the branded writer. And not just "writer," but "content creator" and even mere "idea marketer." A personality is more suited to building brand identification and audience than a publisher is. I say "James Patterson" and you get an image. I say "Random House" and what do you get? Randomness. We've seen it here locally: "Ray's Weather" is where you check the weather and "Todd's Calendar" is where you click to find what's happening in the region—and both are ad supported. You can get the free content elsewhere, but you don't get the human personality attached.
I'm already experimenting with the ad model because I believe it is viable. I am counting on Idea Marketing being one of my foundational pillars. I am not quite sure what it all looks like right now, but I look at it this way—you don't need N.Y. in order to give away tons of free e-books or to spread an idea or to build a social platform. You are the idea you want to spread.
Other authors will say, "I'll never sell out." (Ironically, those are usually the authors who have given most of their incomes to agents and publishers.) I don't blame people for sticking with what worked in the past. It all goes to how invested you are in a certain system and how the alternative looks, and, of course, the turf where you've staked out your ego. Publishing-industry talk on e-books uses phrases like "managing risk" and "cautious adaptation." That is why those of us in the trenches knew Barnes & Noble was in serious trouble when most in the "publishing industry" only realized it recently when BN's horrifyingly bad third-quarter reports came in. They are working off of old data while I work off the data I got an hour ago.
And my data says this may be the very peak of the Golden Age of digital publishing. The $9.99 novel may be dead this year, since three-quarters of the current bestsellers are low-priced indie books. As fast as major publishers yank their name-brand authors out of digital libraries, 10 new indies cram into that virtual shelf space. Maybe forever. James Patterson's factory can't run on $2.99 ebooks, but mine can.
But what happens when the $2.99 and 99 cents drop to permanently free? Where's your sponsor? Are you willing to go there? It's not going to be as clumsy as an image of a refreshing Bud Lite popping up when the main character enters a bar (though it's not unthinkable at some point). Can you see Jack Reacher with a favorite brand of soft drink, or Bella Swan wearing only Calvin Klein? At what point is your willing suspension of disbelief shattered? At what point do you realize the ad is the only reason the book can exist at all?
My informal polling on ad-supported ebooks yields such statements as: "I'll quit reading before I put up with that." I also remember saying I'd never carry a cell phone, or be on Facebook, or give up my vinyl albums, or start thinking that maybe nuclear energy is the best short-range answer to our energy addiction. Or that I'd ever read an entire book on a screen.
Ads in ebooks? Closer than you think.
Scott Nicholson is the best-selling author of a bunch of books and also released The Indie Journey: Secrets to Writing Success, because some people still think you can buy the secret instead of be the secret. Follow him on Facebook, blog, Twitter, website, or newsletter.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Follow the link below to find where often sane and sensible writers (and editors) have stumbled in their writing:
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Ancient language discovered on clay tablets
found amid ruins of 2800-year-old
Middle Eastern palace
David Keys writes in the Independent that evidence of a long-lost language - probably spoken by a hitherto unknown people from the Zagros Mountains of western Iran – was found by a Cambridge University archaeologist as he deciphered an ancient clay writing tablet unearthed by a team excavating an Assyrian imperial governor’s palace in the ancient city of Tushan, south-east Turkey.
Laura Marsh reviews “The Language Wars: A History of Proper English” by Henry Hitchings and the eternal debate about what is (or is not) proper. In the beginning there was only English. Then grammarians applied the rules of Latin and Greek to English, and the battles began. 
Edward Lear
was the master
of glorious nonsense
Amid the joyous inventiveness of Edward Lear’s verse-making, there’s always a note that is sad or disturbing, says Allan Massie, even as we celebrate the 200th birthday of this eccentric. Lear was prone to introduce himself with his long name: "Mr. Abebika kratoponoko Prizzikalo Kattefello Ablegorabalus Ableborinto phashyph" or "Chakonoton the Cozovex Dossi Fossi Sini Tomentilla Coronilla Polentilla Battledore & Shuttlecock Derry down Derry Dumps" (not mentioned in the article actually).
The never-ending
appeal of
unfinished art
According to Philip Hensher, a masterpiece in the making offers an intriguing insight into the mind of its creator, but disputes arise when an artist dies before finishing a work or simply leaves a work unfinished. Do you have a go at finishing off Mahler’s 10th Symphony . . . or Dickens’ “Edwin Drood”? Or what?
If you are a slow reader, you will like what Joseph Epstein says in his review of Stanley Fish’s “How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One”: “The first step [to becoming a polished and elegant writer] is to become a slow reader. No good writer is a fast reader, at least not of work with the standing of literature.” (So forget about that speed-reading course that would have you reading 10,000 to 25,000 words a minute.)
An Interview
Thom Steinbeck
Alexandra Jaffe said, “…[W]hen I read the beautiful relationship advice John [Steinbeck] wrote in a letter to then-14-year-old Thom, I wanted to hear from Thom what it was like to receive such weighty letters. … Turns out John Steinbeck was just like every dad: He had his brilliant moments, but he had his crotchety old where's-the-remote-pass-me-my-beer-sorry-I-forgot-your-dance-recital moments too.”
The Power of “Once upon a Time”:
A Story to Tame the Wild Things
Maria Konnikova, a doctoral candidate in Psychology at Columbia University, finds special magic and universality in the expression “once upon a time.” It gives even the youngest reader distance and protection as he or she enters a world populated by villains, monsters, and exotic locales.
8 words that may not mean
what you think they mean
Laura Hale Brockway explores the proper use and frequent misuse of such words as “comprise, forgo, imply, less, literally, poisonous, precision,” and “unique.”
New word order
David Bellos on German, English and ‘Freudish’
First, the Financial Times has a piece by Sam Taylor, who describes translation as an art beset with linguistic pitfalls. He went from being a DJ in Germany to a translator and discusses the craft with colleagues. He says his DJ background gave him an advantage in translating sexually explicit works. His piece is followed by an extract from David Bellos’  “Is that a Fish in Your Ear?” (Penguin). Is James Strachey’s English translation of Freud a masterpiece or a betrayal?
Reel Releases: Success has been sketchy
for comic strips made into films
Columnist Steven Uhles for the Augusta (S.C.) Chronicle notes in a short piece that comic books produce mega-movie hits, but newspaper comic strips have an uneven record. Unlike big screen successes from Batman, Superman, and the Avengers, comic strip-related films may be like “Garfield” (unforgettable). He briefly discusses “Dick Tracy” (1990), “Popeye” (1980), “Prince Valiant” (1954), “Flash Gordon” (1980), and “Annie” (1982). A longer discussion could have mentioned that in the 1940s Hollywood used several comic strip characters in B pictures: Dick Tracy in several, ditto for Dagwood and Blondie. Lil Abner’s Dogpatch appeared in a B hillbilly comedy in the early 1940s and then in a fine musical in the 1950s (lyrics by Johnny Mercer). A lot of cross-overs existed: For example, Superman became a radio show, a comic strip, and a TV show.
Grammar Puss:
Describers vs. Dictators
(or Grammar Nazis)
Steven Pinker is a professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. In this article from his book “The Language Instinct” (Morrow, 1994), he says: “If language is as instinctive to humans as dam-building is to beavers, if every 3-year-old is a grammatical genius, if the design of syntax is coded in our DNA and wired into our brains, why, you might wonder, is the English language in such a mess? Why does the average American sound like a gibbering fool every time he opens his mouth or puts pen to paper?”
Stephen Metcalf discusses how combat changed Paul Fussell, and how Fussell changed American letters. Fussell “broke out as an intellectual celebrity with ‘The Great War and Modern Memory,’ which won the National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award.”
Revealed: Hundreds of words to avoid using online
if you don't want the government spying on you
(and they include 'pork', 'cloud' and 'Mexico')
Writing in the U.K.’s Mail Online, Daniel Miller says the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been forced to release a list of suspicious words in e-mails. The federal agency says it is only looking for evidence of genuine threats to the U.S. and not for signs of general dissent.
What’s the reading level
of your writing?
Mark Nichol informs readers about the readership-level evaluations in “the Flesch-Kinkaid system (developed in the mid-twentieth century for use by the US military and later appropriated to guide drafting of government documents and evaluate student comprehension).” A writer should not simply aim for a high vocabulary area, since he or she may stray into the realm of obscurity and esotericism.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I always get up and make a cup of coffee while it is still dark — it must be dark — and then I drink the coffee and watch the light come. …Writers all devise ways to approach that place where they expect to make the contact, where they become the conduit, or where they engage in this mysterious process. For me, light is the signal in the transition. It's not being in the light, it's being there before it arrives. It enables me, in some sense.
- Toni Morrison
 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
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.
Some writers fret about identity theft and only say they were born in, say, 1972. 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.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
BARD SOCIETY: Every Wednesday: 7 p.m.; Frank Green 410.5775; Email
THE CDS PUBLICITY FREE WRITERS CRITIQUE GROUP: Meets twice monthly. The first Tuesday of each month at the Mandarin Library on Kori Road from 6 to 8:30 p.m., and the third Saturday of the month at the Webb-Wesconnett Library at 103rd and Harlow from 2 until 4 p.m. Everyone is welcome. For more information see our website at or call 904.343.4188.
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 Rd. S., 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):
"MURDER YOUR DARLINGS" (Quiller-Couch on Style):
PREDITORS & EDITORS (sort of a Consumer’s Report about agents, editors, etc.):
THE RED ROOM – Where the authors are:
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
President: Howard Denson ( 
Vice President: Joyce Davidson ( 
Secretary: Kathy Marsh (
Treasurer: Richard Levine (
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Membership is only $15 for a year. (Make out checks to WRITERS.) Mail your check to WRITERS, c/o Richard Levine, 5527 Edenfield Rd., Jacksonville, FL 32277.
Name___________________________________________ ___________________________
Street or P.O address_________________________________ Apt. No. ___________
City ______________________________State _____ Zip ________________________
E-mail address: __________________________________ _____________ ____________