The Write Stuff

Writing News for the Sunshine State & the Solar System (Jan. 2002)
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Writers' Festival extends deadlines
for poetry and short fiction contests

The deadlines for the poetry and short fiction contests have been extended to Friday, Feb. 15, according to the Florida First Coast Writers' Festival.  The Festival is still processing the novel entries and will be able to accept additional entries in poetry and short fiction till mid-February.

The Festival has two poetry contests:  the Douglas Freels Poetry Prize and the Robert Grimes "Good Earth" Poetry Prize.  Poetry in the  Freels category will focus on the traditional themes of poetry (love, rejection, death, etc.), while the "Good Earth" category will focus on poetry involving ecology, love of nature, etc.  Each category has a $5 entry fee per poem.

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 poet's name, address, phone number, and e-mail address (if available), while no identification should be on the other version.

Each short story should be no longer than 6,000 words.  One copy should have the author's name, address, phone number, and any e-mail address; the other copy should only have the text and the title.  Each story will have a $10 entry fee.

Entries in the poetry and short fiction contests will NOT be returned, so entrants should not submit their only copies.

Checks or money orders for entry fees should be made out to WRITERS and  all entries should be mailed to Contests, FCCJ North Campus, Box 21, 4501 Capper Rd., Jacksonville, FL 32218.

In poetry, identical amounts will be given to the winners of the Douglas Freels and Robert Grimes prizes: first prize, a $110; second, $75; third, $60; in short fiction, first prize, $200; second, $100; third, $100; in novels, first prize, $500 combined prize from North Florida Writers and Writers' Festival; second, $200 from WF; third, $100, from WF.

All entries should be original and unpublished.

For more information, consult the Festival's homepage at

Several workshops on tap for writers

John Dufresne's Friday Nite Writers will meet Friday, Jan. 18, according to freelancer Rick McBride.
Dufresne will also teach "Writing Fiction: What it Takes to be a Writer of Stories & Novels" at the Florida Center for the Book at the main library in Ft. Lauderdale on Saturday, Jan. 19.  The class will start at 10 a.m. Registration is $40, but registration at the door is $45. For more information, go to this website:

Dufresne's website is  It will tell visitors about his two-week summer retreat in Durango, CO ("cowboy boots required, chewing tobacco optional").

McBride says Bob McKee presents his Story seminar for the first time in Miami on Friday through Sunday, Feb. 1-3. Interested writers can register on-line at, where they can say they were referred to the site by McBride.

There is still time to register for the USF Suncaost Writers' Conference, Feb. 7-9 at the Bayfront Campus in St. Pete. For information/registration call 813/974-1711. Registration before Jan. 25 is only $175.

Book Island Festival calls for authors

The second annual Book Island Festival (BIF) will be Oct. 4-6. Once again the Festival will bring 35 notable authors from all over the Eastern United States.

A new feature is the Elderhostel Writing Workshop, set for Oct. 3-8, to wrap around Book Island Festival's dates and add its senior writers and faculty headliners to the mix.

John Dufresne and Nancy Bartholomew are the faculty authors for this year's Elderhostel Writing Workshop South East. Dufresne and Bartholomew will read from their books and share their knowledge of writing at both the Book Island Festival and the Elderhostel Writing Workshop.

John Dufresne is the author of Louisiana Power & Light, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection that is being made into a movie.  He also wrote Love Warps the Mind a Little, The Way That Water Enters Stone, and Deep In The Shade of Paradise, due out in February. Dufresne teaches in the creative writing program at Florida International University.
Nancy Bartholomew writes two series of mystery books and, in 2001 alone, published Film Strip and Strip Poker, in a series featuring Sierra Lavontini, exotic dancer, plus Stand By Your Man, with amateur investigator Maggie Reid, beautician-turned-country singer.

Book Island's planners say, if you are a published author and would like to considered for Amelia's Book Island Festival, send a copy of your latest book and, if you like, a proposal to present a Saturday workshop or reading.

The Festival spotlights talented writers of mystery, history, genealogy, romance, inspiration, poetry, screenwriting, nonfiction, children's and literary fiction.

For details, e-mail or send material to Book Island Festival, 1532 Dade St., Fernandina Beach, FL 32034.

Poetry readings set on 1st, 3rd Thursdays

Poets and writers are invited to readings on the first and third Thursdays of each month.  The readings will start at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 17, and each night thereafter.

Readings will continue until the last writer has finished.

The readings at Minnie's (1341 University Blvd. N.) will feature a $3.00 cover charge.  Free refreshments (coffee, tea, and cookies) will be available.

For more info, call Joan Cates at 904/744-7660 or Lynn Skapyak at 778-8000.

'Almost everything I know is wrong'

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Scott Nicholson, a resident of the Appalachians of North Carolina, sold his first novel, The Red Church through the slush pile. It will be released as a mass market paperback by Pinnacle Books in June 2002.)


    While release of The Red Church is still months away, I have already started laying the groundwork to make sure as many readers and booksellers as possible know about it.

    I am also getting a lesson in how the publishing industry operates. My new mantra is "Almost everything I know is wrong." I knew that book production is typically slow, and that books can take two years to journey from final manuscript to bound book. Since my novel will be produced in half that time, the entire process is compressed.
    Right now, I am concentrating on cover blurbs, and here is where it is helped to have been around a bit, interviewed other writers, and helped people along the way. My friend Sharyn McCrumb gave me an exquisite cover blurb that reads: "In a literary and a geographic sense, Scott Nicholson explores the dark legends of the southern end of the Appalachian mountain chain, a nightmare country that ends in Stephen King's yard. A wonderful storyteller, he is at the top of his game in The Red Church."

    Unfortunately, the editor needed something shorter for the front cover, which is where he wants to use the blurb. So we slashed it, with Sharyn's permission, to "Scott Nicholson explores an Appalachian nightmare country that ends in Stephen King's yard."

    Sharyn is wonderful. She is cynical about the literary establishment, she fought her way tooth and nail up the ladder to success, and she is driven by her mission to promote Appalachia as something more than a reel of Deliverance out-takes. I had interviewed her several times and reviewed her books for my newspaper. I saw Sharyn at a writer's conference, and she praised my latest review and said she wanted it carved on her tombstone.

    She said too many reviewers don't even bother to try and read the book and get it right. She told me if I ever needed a blurb to let her know. At the time, I didn't even have a writing career. When a regional press agreed to release my story collection Thank You for the Flowers, Sharyn was right there with highly generous blurbage.

    I met Kevin J. Anderson, probably the most prolific writer since Isaac Asimov, through the Writers of the Future workshop. I interviewed him, and he agreed to blurb my story collection. Since then, he has become one of the highest-paid speculative fiction writers. Though he is incredibly busy, he read enough of The Red Church to say: "Scott Nicholson writes with a mixture of H. P. Lovecraft, Manly Wade Wellman, and Clive Barker, stirred with a liberal dose of his own originality, to tell an effective and atmospheric tale."

    I have interviewed Orson Scott Card twice, and heard him speak on several other occasions. Though I know he is not a big fan of anything labeled "horror," I asked if he would consider the spiritual elements of The Red Church. Card believes religion should be treated with respect, and one of the main themes of my novel is a thirteen-year-old boy's search for faith. Card agreed, if he had time, to look at the book and consider writing a blurb.

    Other writers whom I have not met but have agreed to read the book based on some prior communication or connection include Bentley Little and Stewart O'Nan. Little released a novel through the same publishing house as mine, and I traded e-mail with O'Nan several times concerning his devastatingly powerful book A Prayer for the Dying.

    I suppose the lesson here is that "networking" can provide benefits in building a career. But I never sought out these excellent writers because I thought one day they might do something for me. I admired them and wanted to learn about them, I wanted to tell readers about these great literary figures and their work, and I still believe that helping others is the best way to live your life.

    The next step, at least from the publishers' perspective, is to send the galley proofs to me. The proofs will be marked by a copy editor, who will suggest basic grammatical changes. Since I pored over the manuscript many times, I expect to be penciling "STET" a great deal, which means the suggestion will be ignored. However, new eyes see clear, and every mark will get serious consideration, since the book will go out and live forever with any errors and flaws that survive the galleys.
    Galleys are still in the future, but I am not holding my breath while waiting. In addition to numerous other projects, which include articles and short stories, I have finished my second screenplay and continue with the current novel-in-progress. My agent is optimistic that my second novel Creep will sell, which would help publicize The Red Church.

    I have also set up an internship program with the local university. The intern will focus mostly on building a database of regional and specialty bookstores. We will mail publicity kits to those bookstores (at my expense, most likely) in early February. That's when orders will be taken for The Red Church. Those orders determine the print run. Either we reach a lot of people and the book has a chance of success, or it is up to the publisher's distribution system. Kensington Books has an excellent reputation for distribution.

    But other factors will influence mass market rack sales, many of which I have no control over: cover art, graphic design, blurb placement, public mood, current hot movies, competing titles, and, most of all, luck.

    This is going to be fun.©

Quote from a Writer's Quill

One of your first jobs, as you write for money, will be to get rid of your vocabulary.
--Jack Woodford

Writers born in January

1--Francis Bacon (1561), Edmund Burke (1729), Arthur Hugh Clough (1819), E. M. Forster (1879), J. D. Salinger (1919), and Joe Orton (1933); 2--Abdülhak Hamid (1852), Isaac Asimov (1920) and Leonard Michaels (1933); 3--J. R. R. Tolkien (1892);

5--Khristo Botev (1848) and W. D. Snodgrass (1926); 6--Carl Sandburg (1878), Alan Watts (1915), E. L. Doctorow (1931); 7--Zora Neale Hurston (1903?) and Robert Duncan (1919); 8--Wilkie Collins (1824), Peter Taylor (1917), Charles Thomlinson (1927), Elvis Presley (1935, thank you very much), and Leon Forrest (1937); 9--Hayyim Nahman Bialik (1873), Simone de Beauvoir (1908), Herbert Huncke (1915), William Meredith (1919), and Judith Krantz (1928);

10--Robinson Jeffers (1887) and Philip Levine (1928); 11--Alan Patton (1903); 12--Jack London (1876) and Haruki Murakami (1949); 13--Horatio Alger (1834) and Edmund White (1940); 14--John Dos Passos (1896), Tillie Olson (1913), Dudley Randall (1914), and Yukio Mishima (1925);
15--Peter Christen Asbjørnsen (1812), Martin Luther King Jr. (1929), and Ernest Gaines (1933); 16--Conte Vittorio Alfieri (1749), Robert W. Service (1876), Laura Riding (1901), Anthony Hecht (1923), William Kennedy (1928), and Susan Sontag (1933); 17--Pedro Calderón de la Barca (1600), Benjamin Franklin (1706), Charles Brockden Brown (1771), Anne Brontë (1820), and Nevil Shute (1899); 18--A. A. Milne (1882) and Jon Stallworthy (1935); 19--Jacques Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre (1737), Michel Bibaud (1782), Per Daniel Amadeus Atterbom (1790), Edgar Allan Poe (1809), J. D. Salinger (1929),
Patricia Highsmith (1921), George Macbeth (1932), and Julian Barnes (1946);

20--Henry Bernstein (1876) and George Burns (1896); 21--Isaac Hawkins Browne (1705) and Joaquín Álvarez Quintero (1873); 22--Lord Byron (1788), August Strindberg (1849), Maurice Henry Hewlett (1861), and Joseph Wambaugh (1937); 23--Derek Walcott (1930); 24--William Congreve (1670), Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (1732), Charles Egbert Craddock (Mary Noailles Murfree) (1850), and Edith Wharton (1862);

25--Robert Burns (1759), W. Somerset Maugham (1874), Virginia Woolf (1882), and Gloria Naylor (1950); 26--Florent Chrestien (1541), Achim Arnim (1781), Samuel Hopkins Adams (1871), Jules Feiffer (1929); 27--Lewis Carroll (1832), Mordecai Richler (1931), and D. M. Thomas (1935); 28--António Feliciano de Castilho (1800); 29--Anton Chekhov (1860) and Colette (1873);

30--Walter Savage Landor (1775), Adelbert von Chamisso (1781), and Richard Brautigan (1933); 31--Zane Grey (1875), John O'Hara (1905), Thomas Merton (1915), Norman Mailer (1923), and Kenzaburo Oe (1935).

"We aspire to create with words."

The Write Staff:

Bob Alexander , NFW President
2348 Herschel Ave. # 4
Jacksonville, FL 32204
(904. 387.3139)

JoAnn Harter Murray, Vice President

Margaret Gloag, Secretary

Howard Denson, Treasurer and Newsletter Editor

Carrol Wolverton and Doris Cass, Membership

PAST PRESIDENTS:  Frank Green, Dan Murphy, Howard Denson, Nate Tolar, Joyce Davidson, Margaret Gloag, Richard Levine

NEWSLETTER ADDRESS:  THE WRITE STUFF, FCCJ Kent, Box 109, 3939 Roosevelt Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32205.


Submissions to the newsletter should generally be about writing or publishing.  If possible, please submit mss. on IBM diskette in either WordPerfect, Microsoft Word, or RFT format.  We pay in copies to the contributors, with modest compensation for postage and copying.  We pay $5 for pieces of 500?599 words; $6, 600+; $7, 700+ words. For cartoons or art (in our print-version), we pay $5 each.  Writers and graphic artists retain all property rights in their work(s).

ISSN No. 1084?6875

Calendar of Events

Meetings of NFW are held on the second Saturday of the month at 2 p.m. on the Kent Campus of Florida Community College of Jacksonville. We generally meet in F128B (auditorium conference room).

Past speakers have included novelists Jack Hunter, David Poyer, Page Edwards, Ruth Coe Chambers, William Kerr, Tom Lashley; poets, William Slaughter, Mary Baron, Mary Sue Koeppel, Dorothy Fletcher, George Gilpatrick; columnists Vic Smith, Tom Ivines, and Robert Blade; editors Buford Brinlee and Nan Ramey; agent Debbie Fine; plus many others.

You may receive feedback from specific individuals by mailing the manuscript and return postage to the above address. Be sure to allow time for the manuscript to reach Kent.

You may also simply bring your ms. to any of these meetings:

Some dates to remember:

Sat., Jan. 12, 2 p.m., F128B, Kent Campus:  NFW meeting.
Sat., Feb. 9, 2 p.m., F128B, Kent Campus:  NFW speaker:  Frank Green; critiques
Sat., Mar. 9, 2 p.m., F128B, Kent Campus:  NFW meeting.

Membership in the NFW

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 in the NFW brings several benefits:  subscription to a monthly newsletter, $5-a-day discounts to the mid-May workshops of the Florida First Coast Writers' Festival, and free admission to North Campus' Fall Fest for Writers.

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

Is your membership current?  To find out, check the mailing label. If it says "0100" next to your last name, your membership expired in that month.  You do not have to pay back dues to activate your members, so, if you last paid in 1992, don't worry about the months you were inactive.
Won�t you join today?

The following is an application. Mail your check to WRITERS, Box 109, FCCJ Kent, 3939 Roosevelt Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32205.


St. address_______________________________________

Apt. No. ________________________________________

City ________________State _____ Zip ______________

E-mail address: __________________________________

How Does Critiquing Work?

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).
UNHELPFUL FEEDBACK:  As you listen to a manuscript, you may be tempted to say, "That's the stupidest piece I've ever heard."  Alas, you aren't being CONSTRUCTIVE.  If you simply do NOT like any, say, science-fiction, then you may not have anything helpful to say.  That is all right.  On the other hand, if you think that a piece was going along okay and then fell apart, you can help the author by saying, "I accepted the opening page, but, when the singing buffalo was introduced somewhere on page 2, the piece lost it for me."


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