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

WF to sing, �Novelists and poets
and agents, oh my!�

The 16th annual Florida First Coast Writers� Festival will be held May 17-18 at the Sea Turtle Inn at Atlantic Beach, with pre-conference workshops being offered on Thursday, May 16. Besides keynoter Nancy Slonim Aronie (an NPR commentator) and novelists David Poyer, John Dufresne, and Tim Dorsey, the speakers will also include one of its own novel prize winners, Robert Bailey.

Gail Galloway Adams (author of short stories) captures untidy lives in which the pain of living is confounded with a grin. Her latest book, The Purchase of Order, won the Flannery O�Connor Award for Short Fiction. She is a professor of English and creative writing at West Virginia University. She resides in Morgantown, W. Va.

Nancy Slonim Aronie (humorist, essayist, NPR commentator, founder and director of The Chilmark Writing Workshop on Martha�s Vineyard) has published Writing from the Heart: Tapping the Power of Your Inner Voice. She teaches at Harvard University.

Robert Bailey (novelist won the North Florida Writers� Josiah W. Bancroft award at the Festival in 1998 with his first novel, Private Heat. He spent five years as a corporate security director in the Detroit area, and twenty years as a licensed private investigator. He will share tips on publishing one�s first novel.

Sheree Bykofsky (New York literary agent) is the author of more than a dozen books, including The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Published and the newly published The 52 Most Romantic Dates In and Around New York City, as well as co-author of The Complete Idiot�s Guide to Publishing Magazine Articles. She teaches publishing at New York University.

Tim Dorsey (a former newspaper reporter and editor) is the author of four �black comedy suspense action thriller crime mystery novels�, Florida Roadkill, Hammerhead Ranch Motel, Orange Crush and the newest, Triggerfish Twist. He lives in Tampa with his wife, Janine, and two daughters.
John Dufresne (novelist) is the author of Deep in the Shade of Paradise, Louisiana Power & Light, and Love Warps the Mind a Little as well as the short story collection, The Way that Water Enters Stone. Louisiana Power & Light is being made into a movie. He teaches in the Creative Writing program at Florida International University and lives in Dania Beach, with his wife and son.

Ingrid Elfver-Ryan (agent with the New Brand Agency Group in Ft. Lauderdale) is the founder of One Essence, a nonprofit organization devoted to the teaching of whole living. As an agent, she works exclusively with authors of �magical� books in the following categories:  personal growth, self-help, spirituality and fiction. Prior to becoming an agent, she traveled the world as a healer.

Lenore Hart (poet, writer of fiction and horror, and artist) has two new books, Waterwoman, a historical novel, and T. Rex at Swan Lake, a children�s book (to be published in 2002). Other works include novels Black River and Weirwood, and a collection of short stories, Florida Gothic. She teaches fiction writing at Old Dominion University in Virginia.

Sandra Kitt (romance writer) is author of The Color of Love, Significant Others, Between Friends, Close Encounters, Girlfriends, and others. She was the first black writer to ever publish with Harlequin. A native of New York City, Kitt holds bachelor�s and master�s degrees from the City University of New York. She has studied and lived in Mexico. Sandra is an information specialist in astronomy and astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Mary Sue Koeppel (poet, writer, editor of Kalliope, a Journal of Women�s Literature and Art) authored the extremely relevant In the Library of Silences: Poems of Loss, published just days before September 11, 2001. Her poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in over 50 journals, anthologies and magazines. Koeppel teaches at Florida Community College at Jacksonville.

Elizabeth Lund (poetry editor, The Christian Science Monitor) teaches workshops to students in K-12, as well as to elderly writers. She also teaches poetry at MCI-Framingham, the women�s prison in Massachusetts. Her poems have appeared in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain, and she been a finalist for the Brittingham Prize and the Four Way Books Intro Prize.

Shelley Fraser Mickle (writer of southern humor) has a new novel entitled The Turning Hour. Her first novel, The Queen of October, was named a Notable Book of 1989 by The New York Times. Replacing Dad was made into a TV movie. She has also published a collection of essays. In addition, she is a commentator for National Public Radio�s �Morning Edition,� and writes a weekly newspaper column called �Novel Conversations.�

Duncan Murrell (editor of literary fiction and nonfiction at Algonquin Books) has edited works by Robert Morgan, Rick Bragg, Clyde Edgerton, Derek Lundy, Ron Rapoport, Dinty Moore, Linda Spalding, and Ann Mariah Cook. He is a former newspaper reporter and magazine writer. He now lives in Chapel Hill, N. C.
Kitty Oliver (former staff writer and columnist for the Miami Herald,) is now a professor and Writer in Residence at Florida Atlantic University�s Davie campus. Her newest book, Multicolored Memories of a Black Southern Girl, is a collection of autobiographical essays. A prominent ethnic diversity researcher and oral historian, she is also a professional jazz vocalist.

David Poyer (novelist) has two new books, Winter Light and Fire on the Waters. He has published twenty-three novels, including such bestsellers and critically praised works as The Circle, The Gulf, The Only Thing To Fear, Thunder on the Mountain, and Down to a Sunless Sea. His work is required reading in the Literature of the Sea course (at the U.S. Naval Academy, along with that of Joseph Conrad and Herman Melville. Poyer lives on Virginia�s Eastern Shore with his wife Lenore and their daughter Naia.

Arthur Rosenfeld (novelist) has just published his seventh novel, Diamond Eye. Other works include A Cure for Gravity, Dark Money, Dark Tracks, and Harpoons. He has published stories in magazines ranging from Vogue and Vanity Fair to Motorcyclist. Rosenfeld is a multiple Black Belt holder in Chinese martial arts. He, his wife Janelle, and their new son Tasman reside in Boca Raton.

Mark Ryan (literary agent and president, New Brand Agency in Ft. Lauderdale) represents both fiction and non-fiction, and has placed work with most major publishing houses. He has published numerous articles for writers, and served as a columnist on

Richard Michaels Stefanik (screenwriter) was a Screenwriting Fellow at the American Film Institute and has worked at several Hollywood studios, including Paramount Pictures and Walt Disney Productions. He taught a Feature Film Development Workshop:  Making Megahit Movies, based on the content in his web site at the UCLA Extension Department of Entertainment Studies in 2001. He presently conducts Online Story Design and Humor classes for Scr(i)pt magazine.

The Festival is offering early-bird registrations until May 6 (fees after May 6 will be in parentheses):

Two days of the Festival, with two lunches, will be $175 ($185 after May 6); Friday or Saturday only, with lunch, $90 ($95); Friday night banquet, $40 ($50); special two days and banquet, $200 ($225). The pre-conference workshops with agent Mark Ryan and Ingrid Elfver-Ryan or Sandra Kitt will be $40 ($50 after May 6).

Interested persons may register by mail and make their check payable to FCCJ/Writers� Festival. Mail to Writers� Festival, 9911 Old Baymeadows Road, Jacksonville, FL 32256. A person may prefer to use a credit card and phone in his or her registration at (904) 633-8292 ext. 1. A credit card registration maybe done by faxing a registration slip to (904) 997-2727.

Since lodging is not included in the Festival fees, out-of-towners will need to call the Sea Tuttle Inn at (904) 249-7402 or (800) 874-6000 to make reservations. For additional information, call 904.997-2669.


Old City to host poetry workshops

Kings Estate Press will feature a celebration of poetry Apr. 27-28 in St. Augustine, with troubadour Tony Moffeit and a dozen poets.

The poets will include Mel Belin, John Elsberg, Michael Hathaway, Mary Sue Koeppel, Ann Browning Masters, Linda Rocheleau, Silvia Curbelo, Lola Haskins, Rochelle Lynn Holt, Kyle
Laws, Miles David Moore, Hilary Tham and others.

Moderators will be George Martin and Scarlett O�Harlett from the Poetry Rendezvous of St. John, Kan.

Three workshops will also be held. Elsberg, editor of Bogg, will talk about �Experimental Poetry,� while Koeppel, editor of Kalliope, will discuss �Copyright Laws.� Rocheleau, the Belle of Savannah, will speak about �Sexual Nuance.�

All events will be free, and book sales will also be held.

For more information, call Ruth Moon Kempher at (800) 249-7485 or (904) 797-3918 or e-mail her at

Irish Studies to feature raconteur, folklorist

The Irish Studies program of the University of North Florida will feature a reminiscence on Mar. 14 and a lecture and fiction reading on Mar. 27-28.

Bernard Cullen will talk about "Growing Up in Northern Ireland" at 7:30 p.m. Mar. 14, in the small auditorium of Bldg. 14.  He is a philosopher, psychoanalyst, an academic administrator, and a noted storyteller.  He studied at the Sorbonne and the University of Michigan, but he was born in Belfast, where is now dean of the faculty of humanities at Queen's University.

Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, a folklorist and fiction writer, will lecture on "Cathleen Ni Houlihan Fights Back:  Irish Women Writers and the Nation in the 20th Century" at 4:30 p.m. Mar. 27 in the small auditorium of Bldg. 14.  At 7:30 p.m., Mar. 28, she will give a reading from her fiction in the Robinson Theater.

Since 1988, she has published three novels, four volumes of short stories, five children's books, and has had three plays performed.  (Her name is pronounced "A-lish nee GWIV-nuhl.")

NFW to hear FWA's founder

The North Florida Writers will hear Glenda Ivey, the founder and first president of the Florida Writers' Assn. at the membership meeting at 2 p.m. Saturday, Mar. 9, in Room F128B of FCCJ's Kent Campus.
Ms. Ivey will also talk about her writing career and about her experience in getting her first book published.

Sensitive to a Fault


Sensitivity, an awareness leading to understanding ourselves, and others, as well as to enabling us to empathize with the emotions of others, has generally been billed as the writers� friend. The insensitive among us appear incapable of creating characters human enough to appeal to most readers. But sensitivity is a complex phenomenon, and, because it is, I think the object of the writer�s sensitivity determines its effect on the writer which may be negative as well as positive.

I once critiqued a writer�s work, telling him I liked his story, but doubted that most readers would because it lacked action and conflict resolution. The object of my sensitivity was his fictional world which appealed to me because I write myself. Writers don�t need action or conflict resolution to get interested. Readers do. I read the work as a writer, not as a reader. I have interested myself in my own fictional worlds, forgetting essentials, and have paid for it with rejection slips. Such an orientation to writing suggests I might have been better served pursuing poetry because a mood, or image alone, can make and carry a poem.

Some writers and many wannabes are sensitive to the writing life, but not to writing itself. Some keep journals wherein they record their observations, "for later use," but rarely do they revise, or write creatively. Others in this group see the writer�s duty as nominal. Instead of writing, they develop erratic temperaments, and engage in mood swings, that they believe validates them as artists, and also helps them to get over on those they are able to dupe. They are personified by Bunthorne, the caricature of Oscar Wilde, in Gilbert and Sullivan�s light opera, Patience. I�ve yet to meet a real-life Bunthorne, but a few candidates I�ve met come close.

There are also writers who succeed at their craft, but who become so sensitized to their work, they invalidate it. For as long as I�ve been reading writing trade publications, I�ve periodically met this type of writer in interviews, articles, and letters to the editor. I�d like to quote from one such interview without naming either writer or interviewer as my purpose is to write about unproductive behaviors in many writers, not just one, resulting from misplaced sensitivities.
In the interview in question, the subject was tragedy. After agreeing with Aristotle that tragedy is the greatest art form because it inspires terror and pity in its audiences, the writer declares that she herself won�t write tragedy because she cares too much about her characters. She�ll allow them to argue heatedly, but that�s it; no maiming or killing each other. "I don�t want them to get hurt," she tells the interviewer who observes that the thought of harm coming to her characters causes her to become, �genuinely moist-eyed with concern." Get off it.

Other writers I�ve met in these publications claim that their characters have at times ganged up on them, dragging them from their beds to their typewriters where the characters forced them to cast them into fictional roles the writers never dreamt right for them. People claiming like experiences who aren�t writers are called schizophrenics.

In conclusion, I agree that sensitivity helps more writers than it hurts, but it must be aptly directed. However, I don�t see it as the hallmark of great prose. That for me is the ability within the prose for it to give of itself. Joyce is reputed to have said that, as it took him seventeen years to write Finnegans Wake, his readers should spend their lives reading it. The arrogance of this remark puts one off, but reading Joyce, or any other author of like stature, pays continuous dividends in terms of reaping aesthetic insights, and dazzling intelligence, proportional to the reading time invested.©

Zinger -- for John O'Hara

There is a thorough?going vulgarity in [Appointment in Samarra by John O�Hara], characteristic of its class, which is a symptom of a lack of knowledge of the novelist�s real art. . . . I mean an insufferable vulgarity, which has crept into so many of our supposedly advanced novels that someone not squeamish, not unread in earlier literatures, must protest against what is cheapening American fiction. . . .  What has happened to these young Americans?  Do they think that living in a country the most vigorous, the most complex, the most problematical, the most interesting bar none in the world, we are going to be content with sour pap like this?  And the tragedy is that they are clever; if they could see, they could write.
                                                              -- H.S. Canby, Sat. Rev. of Lit.

Quote from a Writer's Quill

Everything which is written is meant either to please or to instruct.  This second object is difficult to effect without attending to the first.
--Sidney Smith


Writers born in March

1--Lytton Strachey (1880), Ralph Ellison (1914), Robert Lowell (1917), Howard Nemerov (1920), and Richard Wilbur (1921); 2--Janos Arany (1817), Theodor Seuss Geisel or Dr. Seuss (1904), Tom Wolfe (1932), and John Irving (1942); 3--Colonel Fred Burnaby (1842), Edward Thomas (1878) and James Merrill (1926); 4--James Ellroy (1948);
5--Frank Norris (1870); 6--Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806), Johan Bojer (1872), and Gabriel García Márques (1928); 7--Luther Burbank (1849) and Georges Perec (1936); 9--William Cobbett (1763), Vita Sackville-West (1892) and Mickey Spillane (1918);
10--Pedro Antonio de Alarcón (1833), John Rechy (1934); 11--Douglas Adams (1952); 12--Jack Kerouac (1922), John Clellon Holmes (1926), Edward Albee (1928), Randall Kenan (1963); 13--L. Ron Hubbard (1911); 14--Théodore de Banville (1823), Algernon Blackwood (1869);
15--Johann Jakob Breitinger (1701) and Paul Johann Ludwig von Heyse (1830); 16--G. A. Bredero (1585), Camilo Castelo Branco (1825), and Alice Hoffman (1952); 18--Wilfred Owen (1893) and John Updike (1932); 19--Philip Roth (1933);
20--Thomas Cooper (1805), Henry Ibsen (1828) and Louis Marie Émile Bertrand (1866); 24--Joel Barlow (1754), Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1919), and Ian Hamilton (1938); 23--Sir Thomas Chapais (1858);
25--Alexander Ivanovich Herzen (1812), Flannery O'Connor (1925); 26--Edward Bellamy (1850), A. E. Housman (1859), Serafín Álvarez Quintero (1871), Robert Frost (1874), Joseph Campbell (1904), Tennessee Williams (1914), and Gregory Corso (1930); 27--Michael Bruce (1746), Budd Schulberg (1914), Denton Welch (1915), and Louis Simpson (1923); 28--William Byrd (1674), Alexandre Herculano de Carvalho e Araújo (1810), Nelson Algren (1909), Mario Vargas Llosa (1936), and Russell Banks (1940); 29--Alexander Chalmers (1759);
30--Paul Verlaine (1844) and Sean O'Casey (1880); 31--Octavio Paz (1914), John Fowles (1926), and John Jakes (1932).

"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., 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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