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


 If you want tips on humor, screenwriting, or children�s books, you will want to attend the 16th annual Florida First Coast Writers� Festival May 16-18 at the Sea Turtle Inn at Atlantic Beach.  Pre-conference workshops will be offered on Thursday, May 16.

 Speakers will include:

 Gail Galloway Adams, whose award-winning collection has been published as 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.
 Nancy Slonim Aronie has published IB. She teaches at Harvard University.
 Robert Bailey (novelist) is the author of Private Heat. The 1998 Writers� Festival novel winner spent five years as a corporate security director in the Detroit area, and twenty years as a licensed private investigator.
 Sheree Bykofsky, an agent, is the author of 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.
 Lisa Carrier, a children�s author, co-authored T. Rex at Swan Lake, with Lenore Hart. It was adapted from a poem she wrote about the themes of dinosaurs and dance.
 Tim Dorsey 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.
 John Dufresne is the author of such novels as 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.
 Sohrab Homi Fracis, winner of the University of Iowa Short Fiction Prize, teaches creative writing at the University of North Florida.  His collection has been published as Ticket to Mento.
 Ingrid Elfver-Ryan, an agent, represents the New Brand Agency Group in Ft. Lauderdale and is the founder of One Essence, a nonprofit organization devoted to the teaching of whole living.
 Lenore Hart has two new books, including 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.
 Robert Inman, novelist and screenwriter, is the author of four novels and has written non-fiction and screenplays for six TV movies.
 Frances Keiser, children�s author and wildlife rescue volunteer, has written three Adventures of Pelican Pete Books.
 Hugh Keiser, artist, illustrates the Pelican Pete books and a series of trading cards.  He has been painting and drawing for over 40 years.
 Sandra Kitt is author of such romance novels as The Color of Love, Significant Others, Between Friends, Close Encounters, Girlfriends, and others. She was the first black writer to ever publish with Harlequin.
 Mary Sue Koeppel published In the Library of Silences -- Poems of Loss, just days before Sept. 11, 2001. Her poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in over 50 journals, anthologies and magazines.
 Elizabeth Lund,  the poetry editor of The Christian Science Monitor, has had poems appear in periodicals 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 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, while Replacing Dad was made into a TV movie.
 Kitty Oliver's newest book, Multicolored Memories of a Black Southern Girl, is a collection of autobiographical essays.
 Kathy Pories, an Algonquin Books editor, has worked with such authors as Daniel Wallace, Silass House, and Stacey D�Erasmo.  She also profiles authors on the public radio station in Chapel Hill, N.C.
 David Poyer has two new novels, 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.
 Arthur Rosenfeld 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.
 Mark Ryan, a literary agent, is president of New Brand Agency in Ft. Lauderdale.  He represents both fiction and non-fiction, and has placed work with most major publishing houses.
 Richard Michaels Stefanik was a Screenwriting Fellow at the American Film Institute and has worked at several Hollywood studios, including Paramount Pictures and Walt Disney Productions.  He presently conducts Online Story Design and Humor classes for Scr(i)pt magazine.
 Two days of the Festival, with two lunches, will be $185; Friday or Saturday only, with lunch, $95; Friday night banquet, $50; special two days and banquet, $225.  The pre-conference workshops with agent Mark Ryan and Ingrid Elfver-Ryan or Sandra Kitt will be $50.
 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 may be 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 Turtle Inn at (904) 249-7402 or (800) 874-6000 to make reservations.  For additional information, call 904.997-2669.

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Poke McHenry on NFW slate May 11
Vic Smith, who wrote for years as the crackerbarrel columnist Poke McHenry, will speak to the North Florida Writers about his craft at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 11, in Room F128B of Kent Campus.
 Smith created the character of Poke for The Florida Times-Union�s Georgia readership.  However, instead of being a brief joke, Poke caught on with readers of all editions of the paper.
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The Story behind Toto


 The book leapt out from the "new selections" shelves of the Murray Hill Library:  I, Toto:  The Autobiography of Terry, the Dog Who was Toto by Willard Carroll (New York: Stewart, Tabori, and Chang, $19.95), so naturally I put it in my stack.
 I've always been a sucker for dog stories, ranging from James Thurber's fine tales and cartoons to the novels of Albert Payson Terhune (about Lad, a collie), to Eric Knight's Lassie series, Jim Kjelgaard's Big Red (an Irish setter), to you name it.  And I liked the dog films, not forgetting Asta in the "Thin Man" series, the dogs in the Benji films, and Moose and his son portraying the Jack Russell terrier named Eddie on Frazier.
 Over the years, I have dived into books about famous trainers:  Rudd Weatherwax (the various Lassies), Lee Duncan for the truly amazing Rin-Tin-Tin of the silents, and, thanks to the recent I, Toto, Carl Spitz (Toto and The Call of the Wild's Buck).
 I, Toto is an easy read from Carroll, who is the author of 100 Years of Oz:  A Century of Classic Images from the Wizard of Oz.  He also owns the world's largest collection of Oz memorabilia.  Most of the book is made up of an autobiography supposedly written by Toto--the same sort of approach used by Virginia Woolf and Barbara Bush.  This section is so gosh-darn cute and sweet that it will make your teeth hurt.
 But I mainly checked out the book because years ago I "met" Toto, sort of, and his trainer.
 I was sitting in the newsroom of The Birmingham News, probably between obituaries, when a man with a spiel and a little black dog came in to talk to the city editor.  The city editor looked around the room and off-loaded man and dog to me.
 "This is Toto," the man said, "the world's smartest dog and the world's oldest dog."
 I said hello to Toto and did a little math in my head:  a five-year-old (or so) dog in 1939, and this being in the mid-1960s. . .so this dog would be over 30, perhaps 40, years old.
 "Sit, Toto," the man said.
 Toto promptly sat.
 "Stand up, Toto."
 Again, Toto stood up, shook hands, spun around, and looked very much like the young dog he obviously was.
 "We're scouting locations in Alabama," the man said, "for Toto's next picture--just the thing for the world's smartest dog and the world's oldest dog."  He confided, "There're a lot of outstanding locations in this beautiful state."
 He and Toto were also performing at the Children's Hospital, and I took notes about this appearance and included it in the two- or three-"graph" story that the city editor later said was all he wanted.
 Toto and his trainer left, apparently satisfied with their visit and perhaps with the eventual story.
 I had some misgivings since there had been another story to write, and, a few years later, when I discovered Tom Wolfe's collection The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine Flake Streamline Baby, I realized what could have been done with man and dog.
 You have a man, whose livelihood depends on trained animals, and he's especially famous for one remarkable dog.  That dog, however, dies some time in the past, but his public wants to see the dog, so he trains another little black dog, and then another, and another.
 When a movie star's career goes into decline, the star begins appearing in dinner-theatres in Jacksonville, Biloxi, or Walla Walla.  An animal trainer?  Perhaps appearing at hospitals for children.
 That might have been the real story, except I had no intention of writing it then, or now.  After all, the gentleman was appearing at the hospital where my little cousin Steve had been taken after being stricken with polio in the early 1950s.  Child visitors weren't allowed in, so my brother John and I had waited in the car until this little boy who had been in an iron lung eventually waved from a top floor.  No, I was grateful to the hospital for treating little Steve then, to actress Liz Scott stopping by his bed and unsettling him with her husky voice and beautiful blondeness, and to a dog trainer and a little black dog giving time to other children.
 I had also read about Laurel and Hardy and their financial decline from Hollywood mansions to inexpensive apartments.  Remembering the Chinese adage, I didn't want to break someone's rice bowl--his ability to make a living.  For that reason, I didn't challenge the trainer of the world's smartest and oldest dog.
 Carroll's afterword says, "Toto, a.k.a Terry, died sometime toward the end of World War II.  She was buried in the backyard of Carl Spitz's Hollywood Dog Training School.  Buried but certainly not forgotten."
 So still today, with the little black dog eternally young on the yellow brick road, I don't regret not writing a story that would snarl, "I'll get you and your little dog too."©
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Plotting Success for Films or Video-Games


 When you think of recent Hollywood movies, you may think of blockbusters like Harry Potter and The Mummy Returns and failures like Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy.  However, if you were thinking of video games, you would think of blockbusters like Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy and failures like Harry Potter and The Mummy Returns.
 Why is one thing popular in one entertainment medium, but is not in another, even though a plot may be similar?  Every movie made from a game and every game made from a movie has failed to have success.  The movie versions of Super Mario Brothers, Street Fighter, and Mortal Kombat failed to live up to the games' legacy.
  Why does this happen?  One argument is that the people making the movie (or game) do not know how to make it better without just following the basic plot of the movie (or game).  But both Final Fantasy and Tomb Raider movies had people on their staffs who were part of the main game development teams.  For example, the director of the Final Fantasy movie, Hironobu Sakaguchi, is the creator of the Final Fantasy game series in Japan.  Surely, the creator would know how to transplant his creation into another entertainment medium.  However, his company, Squaresoft, lost $130 million on development costs on the movie. But, in Japan when the game Final Fantasy X came out, it sold more than 2 million copies in less than four days.  At $50 each, that equals about $100 million.
 In America, the general public has the same misconception of the 1980's that video games are for children.  Moreover, people should "grow out" of' them by the time they reach the age of at least 13.  The public also believes that video game movies are solely kids' entertainment.
 Games based on movies do badly because of the cost. Why spend $50 on a game that will take weeks to finish when a movie ticket costs $7.50?  Then why do they continue to make games of movies?
 One reason that companies make games of movies is because at least one in every one hundred movie games is profitable.  Several years ago, Rareware developed a game for the James Bond movie Goldeneye.  Nintendo published it for their N64 system.  People all over the world bought the game, not because of the movie, but because it was a great game to play.  Still to this day, people are buying it.
     Also, the time allotted plays an important role.  A movie has to around 90 minutes to a couple of hours in length, while a game has no such time restraints.  Because of this difference in running times, movies usually cut certain elements out of the story to fit in their running time. However, videogames have no such restrictions. Take Final Fantasy VII. It takes about 30 hours to get to the ending. If it were a movie, the director would have to trim 28 hours. Because it had no time constraint, it could focus on each character's feelings and thoughts about the situation around them and could make them feel more realistic.
 So, to make a game from a movie (or movie from a game) successful, it would help if all the people involved with its production tried to make it something a little different from what has already been done.  If they do this, then they will succeed in plotting their way to success.©
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Quote from a Writer's Quill -- Goethe

Everyone hears but what he understands.
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Writers born in May

 1--Joseph Addison (1672), Joseph Heller (1923), Terry Southern (1924), and Bobbie Ann Masons (1940); 3--Niccolò Machiavelli (1469) and William Inge (1913); 4--Lincoln Kirstein (1907), Heloise (1919), and Graham Swift (1949);
 5--Karl Marx (1828), Robert Browning (1812), Thomas Edward Brown (1830), Nellie Bly (Elizabeth Cochrane) (1867), and Richard Eberhart (1904); 6--Sigmund Freud (1856), Orson Welles (1915); 7--Dániel Berzsenyi (1776), José Valentim Fialho de Almeida (1857), Archibald MacLeish (1892), Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (1927), Angela Carter (1940), and Peter Carey (1943); 8--Henry Baker (1698), Thomas B. Costain (1885), Gary Snyder (1930), and Thomas Pynchon (1937); 9--James M. Barrie (1860) and Austin Clarke (1896);
 10--Ivan Cankar (1876); 11--Henry Cuyler Bunner (1855), Irving Berlin (1888), and Stanley Elkin (1930); 12--Andrei Voznesensky (1933); 13--Daphne DuMaurier (1907), Bruce Chatwin (1940), Armistead Maupin (1944); 14--Sir Hall Caine (1853) and George Lucas (1944);
 15--Melchiorre Cesarotti (1730), L. Frank Baum (1856), Edwin Muir (1887), Katherine Anne Porter (1890), and Max Frisch (1911); 16--Randall Jarrell (1914) and Adrienne Rich (1929); 17--Henri Barbusse (1873); 19--Lorraine Hansberry (1930);
 20--Honoré de Balzac (1799) and Sigrid Undset (1882); 21--Alexander Pope (1688) and Robert Creeley (1926); 22--Arthur Conan Doyle (1859) and Peter Mathiessen (1927); 23--John Bartram (1699) and Theodore Roethke (1907); 24--William Trevor (1928) and Bob Dylan (1941);
 25--John Stuart Mill (1713), Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803), Jocob Christoph Burckhardt (1818), Jean Richard Bloch (1884), Robert Ludlum (1927), John Gregory Dunne (1932), and Raymond Carver (1938); 27--Arnold Bennett (1867), Max Brod (1884), Dashiell Hammett (1894), John Cheever (1912), Herman Wouk (1915), Tony Hillerman (1925), John Barth (1930), Harlan Ellison (1934); 28--Ian Fleming (1908), Patrick White (1912), and Walker Percy (1916); 29--Patrick Henry (1736), G. K. Chesterton (1874), Max Brand (1892), and André Brink (1935);
 30--Alfred Austin (1835), Cornelia Otis Skinner (1901), and Countee Cullen (1903); 31--Georg Herwegh (1817), Walt Whitman (1819) and Norman Vincent Peale (1898).

 * * *
"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., 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

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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 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: __________________________________

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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