The Electronic Write Stuff
Writing News for the Sunshine State & the Solar System (Apr. 2003)

Festival to Feature Nuts-and-Bolts Advice at 17th Annual Conference
NFW to hear founder of To the Letter
Writer Laura Haywood Dies Mar. 27
Find Your Niche in Self Publishing by Dorothy Jane Mills
Other regular features

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 Novelists, poets, freelancers, nonfiction writers, editors, and agents will give nuts-and-bolts advice at  the 17th annual Florida First Coast Writers� Festival  at the Sea Turtle Inn at Atlantic Beach on May 15-17.
Speakers will include the following:

 NOVELISTS: Laura Parker Castoro,  S. V. Date,  Lenore Hart, Ad Hurdler, Cassandra King, Doug Marlette, Scott Morris, David Poyer, Paul Sinor (also screenwriter), Les Standiford, Gerhardt Thamm

 FREELANCERS AND NON-FICTION WRITERS:  Bill Belleville, Peter Bowerman, Steve Brown (also former FBI agent), psychologist Gary Buffone, TV reporter/writer Marisa Carbone,  John Finotti, Elizabeth Furdell, Allison Glock, Amanda Lynch

 MEMOIRISTS:  Ann Hyman (also a journalist) and Judy Stough

 POETS:  Eddie Bell and Ray McNiece

 CARTOONIST:  "Kudzu" creator Doug Marlette

 AGENTS:  Cricket Pechstein and Jacky Sach

 EDITOR:  Kathy Pories of Algonquin Books

 To take advantage of the early bird rate, interested persons should register early by going to the Festival�s website at or calling 904.997-2669.

 The winners of the Festival contests will also be announced at the conference:  the novel contest (sponsored by the North Florida Writers), the Page Edwards Short Fiction contest, the Douglas Freels poetry contest, and the Robert Grimes "Good Earth" poetry contest.

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 The North Florida Writers�s speaker for the April membership meeting will be H. Christine Lindblom, founder of To The Letter (  The internet website provides authors with a complete range of services aimed at getting their manuscript published.

 She will speak at 2 p.m. Saturday, Apr. 12, at Kent Campus� auditorium conference room (F128B).
 She has served as editor for the Florida Palm and was convention coordinator for the Florida Writers Association Convention 2002. She is an experienced project administrator, researcher, content editor, copyeditor and proofreader.

 She has a bachelor�s of arts degree from the University of Arizona, where she participated in the creation and implementation of federally funded teaching programs. Ms. Lindblom lives north of Jacksonville, with her husband, two children, two dogs and three cats.

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 The Northeast Florida writing community suffered a loss Thursday evening, Mar. 27, when Laura Haywood died from a heart attack.

 Ms. Haywood was generous with her time and attended, and often spoke to, such groups as the North Florida Writers, the Writers' Festival, Septemberfest for Writers, and science fiction groups.

 A frequent winner in Writers' Festival contests for fiction, she wrote a humorous ode expressing the importance of the fellowship of writers (see She won first place in short fiction in 1998 for "The Far Side of the Pond."  Earlier, she came in second in the novel contest to her good friend, the late Virginia Kays Veenswijk (1994). A websearch for "Laura Haywood" and "writer" produces a hint of her creative efforts, ranging from columns on women's issues or the senior experience to her interest in science fiction. She edited collections of short stories with Isaac Asimov.

 Writers are mortal, but, as Faulkner noted, a writer speaks to 70 years in the future.

 Good work, Laura. -- hd3

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 [EDITOR'S NOTE:  This is Part 2 of a two-part series on "Find Your Niche" in publishing.]


 Perhaps Number One on your list of promotional devices should be the web site. Today, no writer can afford to be without one. In that sense, writers are like any other business people: if you have something to offer, you must have a presence on the web. Build a site that emphasizes the appeal of your work to its particular audience(s) as well as the uniqueness of your book--whatever sets it apart from others of the same genre. Since mounting two web sites I have received queries from all over the world and made many satisfying contacts.

 Moreover, there are other web sites whose managers want to know about your book and will gladly insert a link to your site if you ask, or who often review books like yours and will be happy to receive a copy for the purpose. Be sure to view these web sites before querying their managers, so that you can make your query specific to a site�s emphasis.

 Reviews are problematic for self-published books. It�s very difficult to get them reviewed in the standard journals, many of whom print the forthright statement, �Don�t bother to send self-published books; we don�t review them.� Investigate the on-line journals to find those who are looking for books of the type you have written. You will find some who are interested.

 Writing articles about your subject is a useful tack to take. Magazine editors (don�t forget the online magazines) welcome query letters about articles that suit their magazines. Be sure to check the library reference works on magazines before you send query letters, so that you don�t inadvertently contact publications uninterested in your idea or subject. An American author who lives in Japan but has no internet access, operating under the assumption that my company reviews children�s books, just sent me a book he published. What a waste of his time and money!

 Another important tool is the monthly newsletter. As soon as you develop any contacts at all, solicit subscribers to an electronic newsletter. Offer to send it out free. In it you put four things:

 * news of your subject and about your work

 * useful information that your fans may find difficult to find elsewhere

 * service (especially freebies)

 * feedback to those who contact you.

Collect e-mail addresses from buyers and potential buyers in order to offer free subscriptions to your newsletter.

  Some people who give written advice to selfpublishers suggest advertising. If you know the right magazine or journal or newspaper that members of your prospective audience read, investigate costs and decide whether to place an ad that will inform readers about a new book in the field, one they won�t want to miss. I have done a little advertising, but I prefer personal contacts to impersonal ones.

 Develop informative handouts that go along with your book. Use them when you are autographing your book, when you give book presentations, and when you send out information about your book. They should supplement the presentation of your book, developing it in ways that you cannot do orally. Recycle some of this information occasionally in your newsletters.

 Collect endorsements. Ask permission to use quotations from these endorsements in preparing one of your handouts. Give this handout a colorful title and attach it to emails you send to those who are prospective buyers. Use some quotations in newsletters, too.

 Subscribe to an informational service like John Kremer�s. He publishes Book Marketing Update and an on-line supplement to it. In these publications he lists names of editors at magazines, newspapers, and other media who are looking for particular types of books and authors. He gives the editors� or broadcasters� contact information, too, along with other helpful information for self-publishers. This is an expensive service but a valuable one.

 Another way to get ideas for promoting your book is to search guides, such as the following:

 * Tom and Marilyn Ross�s The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing (Cincinnati: Writers Digest Books, 1994, third edition

 * Dan Poynter�s The Self-Publishing Manual (Santa Barbara: Para Publishing, 1997), in its tenth edition

 * the Rosses� Jump Start Your Book Sales (Buena Vista, Colorado: Communication Creativity, 1999)

 * Linda and Jim Salisbury�s Smart Self-Publishing (Charlotte Harbor, Fla.: Tabby House, 1997)

 * Mark Ortman, A Simple Guide to Marketing Your Book (Bellingham, Wash.: Wise Owl Books, 2001).

 These books all recommend to self-publishers the kind of approach that I suggest here: �niche promotion�--that is, focusing on the particular part of the market that is most likely to be interested in your book. Instead of trying to sell to everybody, home in on just the people who are probably looking for your book right now.

 In presenting your work, avoid descending to the level of pleading; it�s not an effective sales tactic. Remember that in offering your book, you are performing a service to people as well as trying to forward your own interests. This is a mutual relationship you are developing, one that�s of value to both sides of the equation. Connecting with the people who want your book will delight both them and you. ©

About the author

 Dorothy Jane Mills, the author of 17 books, has also written under her former name of Dorothy Z. Seymour. The Labyrinth, sequel to her historical novel The Sceptre, will be published in spring of 2003. She has just signed a contract with a commercial publisher, McFarland, to write her memoirs under the working title My Life in Baseball, which will appear in 2004, at spring training time. She has been selected to appear in the new edition of Who�s Who. Her web sites are and

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"It is better to be quotable than to be honest."

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 1--Leonard Bloomfield (1887) and Milan Kundera (1929); 2--Hans Christian Andersen (1805), Émile Zola (1840), and Edward Dorn (1929); 3--George Herbert (1593); John Banim (1798) and John Burroughs (1837); 4--Bettina von Arnim (1785), Henry Bataille (1872), Marguerite Duras (1914), and Maya Angelou (1928);

 5--Booker T. Washington (1856) and Arthur Hailey (1920); 7--William Wordsworth (1770) and William Ellery Channing (1780); 8--John Fante (1909) and Barbara Kingsolver (1955); 9--Fisher Ames (1758), Charles Baudelaire (1821), and Paule Marshall (1929);

 10--Joseph Pulitzer (1847); 11--Mark Strand (1934); 12--Alan Ayckbourn (1939); 13--Jonathan Carver (1710), Nella Larsen (1891), Samuel Beckett (1906), Eudora Welty (1909), and Seamus Heaney (1939); 14--René Boylesve (René M. A. Tardiveau) (1867), James Branch Cabell (1879), and Bruce Sterling (1954);

 15--Henry James (1843), Bliss Carman (1861), Giovanni Amendola (1882), and Jeffrey Archer (1940); 16--Grace Livingston Hill (1865) and Kingsley Amis (1922); 17--Samuel Austin Allibone (1816), David Gravson (Ray Stannard Baker) (1870), Isak Dinesen (1885), and Thornton Wilder (1897); 18--Henry François Becque (1837); 19--Etheridge Knight (1933);

 20--Louis Bertrand (1807); 21--John Capgrave (1393), Charlotte Brontë (1816) and Josh Billings (Henry Wheeler Shaw) (1818); 22--Henry Fielding (1707), Jørgen Engebretsen Moe (1813), Vladimir Nabokov (1899), and Jan de Hartog (1914); 23--William Shakespeare (1564), Margaret Avison (1918), J. P. Donleavy (1926), Rod McKuen (1933), and Barry Hannah (1942); 24--Robert Michael Ballantyne (1825), Marcus Clarke (1846), and Robert Penn Warren (1905);

 25--Giuseppe Marc' Antonio Baretti (1719), Clarín (Leopoldo Alas) (1852), Walter De La Mare (1873) and Darcey Steinke (1962); 26--Robert Herrick, U.S. (1868), Alice Cary (1820), Bernard Malamud (1914); 27--Ulysses S. Grant (1822), C. Day Lewis (1904), and Gilbert Sorrentino (1929); 28--Charles Cotton (1630);

 30--John Crowe Ransom (1888) and Annie Dillard (1945)

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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 to 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
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 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).

 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.

 Some dates to remember:

 Sat., Apr. 5, 9 a.m., Book Mark (at Beaches):  coffee with Mary McLaughlin Updike, Among the Groves:  A Florida Childhood Remembered

 Fri., Apr. 11, 7:30 p.m., Book Mark (at Beaches):  UNF authors/students of Fiction Fix

 Sat., Apr. 12, 2 p.m., F128B: NFW Speaker:  Christine Lindblom, Florida Writers

 Thurs., Apr. 24, 7:30 p.m., Book Mark (at Beaches):  Dan Schafer, Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley

 Sat., May 10, 2 p.m., F128B: NFW Speaker:  John Boles of Jacksonville University, screenwriting

 Sat., June 14, 2 p.m., F128B: NFW Speaker:  Robert Kline of St. Augustine

 Sat., July 12, 2 p.m., F128B: NFW Speaker:  Bill Kerr of Jacksonville, novelist

 Sat., Aug. 9, 2 p.m., F128B: NFW Speaker: Dan Murr

 Sat., Sept. 13, 2 p.m., F128B: NFW Speaker:  Charles Feldstein of FCCJ South, poet

 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.

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 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 109, FCCJ Kent, 3939 Roosevelt Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32205.


St. address_______________________________________

Apt. No. ________________________________________

City ________________State _____ Zip ______________

E-mail address: __________________________________
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 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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