The Write Stuff
Writing News for the Sunshine State & the Solar System (Feb. 2002)

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Much Ado About Books to feature 29 authors

The annual Much Ado About Books on Feb. 16 will bring 29 nationally known authors to the Prime Osborn Convention Center.
The program will begin at 9:30, with free book discussions and book signings.
At 12:45 p.m., a luncheon will be held featuring keynote speakers James Redfield and Susan Vreeland.
Some of the free workshops include The Secrets of Creative Writing, Rx:  Writing about Health, Books Drawn from Life's Adventures, The Beat Goes On:  Reporters Turned Authors, Thrill of Suspense,and Lights, Camera, Authors, Writing the Personal Story, Making History Come Alive, World of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing, Mystery Writing, Sporting Life, Art of Illustration, and Health and Spirituality. For more info:

FCCJ South Colloquiium features Koeppel, Feldstein

Poets Mary Sue Koeppel and Charles Feldstein will be the inaugural speakers at the first annual FCCJ South Campus Colloquiium at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6.
They will read some of their works in the Nathan H. Wilson Center for the Arts.  They will also discuss how and why they write and about the pleasures and rewards that flow from poetry for them, according to Jean Shepard, chair of the SC humanities department.
The event will be in honor of Jeff Bertsch, who retired from South Campus a few years ago.
For more information, contact Dawn Button at 904/646-2066 or e-mail her at

Poetry reading on tap for Valentine's Day

The UNF Irish Studies program is sponsoring a poetry reading at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14, when Richard Murphy returns to the University of North Florida.  His reading will be in the Robinson Theater.
Richard Bizot, coordinator of the program, says Murphy "is probably the finest presenter of his own work that any of us will ever encounter."
He said that, since Murphy last appeared at UNF ion 1996, he has published his Collected Poems 1952-2000 and completed work on the first volume of his memoirs.
The poet, now 75, is likely to honor St. Valentine's Day with a few love poems and perhaps a preview of his memoirs, due to be published in a few months.

Bard Society Leader to address NFW

Frank Green, the founder of the Bard Society, Northeast Florida's oldest and most continuuous writing group, will speak to the North Florida Writers and guests at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6, in Room F128B of FCCJ's Kent Campus.
Many of the members of the Bard Society have seen their manuscripts published over the years.
Besides being the first president of the NFW, Green has been a frequent speaker at writing conferences and workshops in the Eastern U.S.  He has spoken at Writers at the Sea, the Cape May conference; the Florida First Coast Writers' Festival; and Septemberfest for Writers, at FCCJ North Campus.



Valerie Trueblood, a short story writer and essayist, has an article in a recent issue of The American Poetry Review entitled "What's the Story? Aspects of the Form." In it she disagrees with the notion that the short story is only a stepping stone to the novel and that, once the form is mastered, the writer advances from successful short story writer to novelist.

I thought about this notion because I myself blindly subscribed to it when I decided a long time ago to take writing seriously. After reading Ms. Trueblood's article (which is informative on many aspects of the short story in addition to debunking the notion advanced), I agree with her. Not only is the stepping stone notion false, it's also demeaning to the short story as an art form.

I thought too after reading this article that perhaps I may have taken writing seriously without sufficient thought, and for all the wrong reasons appealing to youth, like fame and fortune, which at the time I never dreamt would elude me.

Further thinking led me to question my present self as a writer, and to examine my limits as well as to understand what role writing plays in my life today. I suspect that writers who know the scope of their talents, and their inclinations towards writing subjects, make better writers than those who do not.
I concluded my thinking with the realization that I am not a novelist. In my day I wrote one novel, and one novella. Both have been broken down into material for short stories, and material to hold for possible future use. I know I am not a novelist because I'm not upset about my currently not being about writing one. I am also not a novelist because I do not delight in the writing feats that most novelists hold dear, such as elaborate plotting, and the interweaving of multiple plots to bring about the proverbial and ironic reversals of fortune. Finally. I am not a novelist because I resist all forms of research, and haven't any desire to create characters' backgrounds to make plausible their current actions.

I do, however, write short stories which tend to be light and humorous. My goal is to entertain while simultaneously imbuing each story with a germ of what it takes to illuminate the human condition. Sometimes the germs die before coming to fruition, and I'm left with just the entertainment aspect of the story, the value of which many an editor has questioned.

I also write nonfiction, essays and reviews. I find nonfiction writing a boon to transitioning, and to logical thinking in writing; skills that are transferable to fiction writing. I enjoy best writing essays that expose the crooks in the writing game because a person's legitimate wish to develop artistically shouldn't be thwarted by vulgarians looking to make a quick buck.

Over the years I have received enough encouragement and acceptances to keep writing, but I do so only because I enjoy it. I believe it helps keep me mentally fit. I haven't ruled out the possibility of finding a subject someday that might bring forth a major writing effort on my part, but I don't force it. It must come naturally from within, or not at all.

In conclusion, I believe it is a positive step for writers to honestly acquaint themselves with their limits. Such knowledge is a source of writing satisfaction. Not to worry that for many a War and Peace or a Ulysses will not be in their future. What they'll find instead is a working knowledge of what they should and shouldn't tackle as writers. Writers without this knowledge will be hard-pressed to come up with an engaging episode of the Powerpuff Girls.©

Quote from a Writer's Quill

When a thought is too weak to support a simple expression, reject it.

Writers born in February

1--James A. Herne (1840), Langston Hughes (1902), S. J. Perelman (1904), Muriel Spark (1918), Galway Kinnell (1927), Reynolds Price (1933); 2--James Joyce (1882), Ayn Rand (1905), and James Dickey (1923); 3--Abel Hermant (1862), Gertrude Stein (1874), Richard Yates (1926), Paul Auster (1947); 4--William Harrison Ainsworth (1805), E. J. Pratt (1883), Ugo Betti (1892), and Robert Coover (1932);
7--Charles Dickens (1812) and Sinclair Lewis (1885); 8--Samuel Butler (1612), Charles Jean François Hénault (1685), Jules Verne (1828), Kate Chopin (1851), Henry Roth (1906), Elizabeth Bishop (1911), Neal Cassady (1926); 9--George Ade (1866), Brendan Behan (1923) and Alice Walker (1944);
10--Charles Lamb (1775), Boris Pasternak (1890), Bertolt Brecht (1898); 11--Marie Joseph Chénier (1764), Lydia Maria Child (1802), Roy Fuller (1912), and Sidney Sheldon (1917); 12--Abraham Lincoln (1809), Alan Dugan (1923), and Judy Blume (1938); 13--Julius H. M. Busch (1821) and Georges Simenon (1903); 14--Richard Owen Cambridge (1717);
15--Johann Jakob Wilhelm Heinse (1746), Jens Immanuel Baggesen (1764), Joseph Hergesheimer (1880), and Matt Groening (1954); 16--Henry B. Adams (1838) and Richard Ford (1944); 17--Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (1836), Margaret Truman (1924), and Ruth Rendell (1930); 18--Wallace Stegner (1909), A. R. Ammons (1926), Len Deighton (1929), Toni Morrison (1931), Andre Lorde (1934), Jean Auel (1936), and Lenore (Elisabeth Graves) Hart (1953); 19--Kay Boyle (1902), Carson McCullers (1917), and Amy Tan (1952);
20--William Carleton (1794), Pieter Cornelis Boutens (1870), and Georges Bernanos (1888); 21--Anaïs Nin (1903), Raymond Queneau (1903), W. H. Auden (1907), Erma Bombeck (1927), and Kevin Robinson (1951); 22--George Washington (1732), Sarah Adams (1805), Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892), Jane Bowles (1917), and Edward Gorey (1925); 23--Samuel Pepys (1633), W.E.B. Du Bois (1868), David Wright (1920), and Don L. Lee (1942); 24--Charles de Bernard (1804), Arrigo Boito (1842), Teófilo Braga (1843), and Daryl Hine (1936);
25--Frank G. Slaughter (1908) and Anthony Burgess (1917); 26--Victor Hugo (1802); 27--Johan van Heemskerk (1597), John Steinbeck (1902), Lawrence Durrell (1912), Irwin Shaw (1913), and Kenneth Koch (1925); 28--Stephen Spender (1909)

"We aspire to create with words."

The Write Staff:
JoAnn Harter Murray, President

Carrol Wolverton, Vice President

Nate Tolar, Secretary

Howard Denson, Treasurer and newsletter editor (

Jean Mayo, Membership chair
Joyce Davidson, Public Relations (
Doris Cass, Hospitality

Presidents Emeritus:
Frank Green, Dan Murphy, Howard Denson, Nate Tolar, Joyce Davidson, Margaret Gloag, Richard Levine, Bob Alexander

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., Feb. 9, 2 p.m., F128B:  NFW Speaker, Frank Green; and critiques
Sat., Feb. 16, 9:30 a.m., Prime Osborn Center:  Much Ado About Books with 29 authors
Sat., Mar. 9, 2 p.m., F128B: NFW Speaker: Glenda Ivey
Sat., Apr. 13, 2 p.m., F128B: NFW Speaker: Ann Sims
Sat., May 11, 2 p.m., F128B: NFW Speaker: Vic "Poke McHenry" Smith
Thursday?Saturday, May 16?18:  Florida First Coast Writers' Festival, Sea Turtle Inn (
Sat., June 8, 2 p.m., F128B: NFW Speaker: Melody Bussey
Sat., July 13, 2 p.m., F128B: NFW Speaker: Wanda Kachur
Sat., Aug. 10, 2 p.m., F128B: NFW Speaker: Beverly Fleming
Sat., Sept. 14, 2 p.m., F128B: NFW Speaker: Mark Ari
Friday?Sunday, Oct. 4?6:  Book Island Festival, Fernandina Beach
Sat., Oct. 12, 2 p.m., F128B: NFW Speaker: Harriet Dodson
Sat., Nov. 9, 2 p.m., F128B: NFW Speaker: Sohrab Fracis
Sat., Dec. 7, 2 p.m., F128B: NFW Speaker: Patti Levine Brown
Sat., Jan. 11, 2 p.m., F128B: NFW Speaker: Bill Reynolds
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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