The Electronic Write Stuff

Writing News for the Sunshine State & the Solar System (May 2003)


Festival to feature nuts-and-bolts advice 

at 17th annual conference

Novelists, poets, freelancers, nonfiction writers, editors, and agents will give nuts-and-bolts advice atthe 17th annual Florida First Coast WritersFestivalat the Sea Turtle Inn at Atlantic Beach on May 15 to May 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.

Scriptwriter-actor to speak to NFW

about marketing stories to Hollywood

Aspiring script writers may wish to attend the May 10 meeting of the North Florida Writers, when award-winning writer-actor John Boles will give tips to those who want a slice of the Hollywood pie.

His talk will be at 2 p.m. Saturday in F128B of FCCJ's Kent Campus. Guests are welcome to attend. 

He will also explain available options to authors who want to market their work to the film and television industry. 

Boles has been a screenwriter, producer, director, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) actor, and screen writing instructor.

He is an award-winning writer, producer, director, editor, and actor with more than twenty years in the entertainment industry. He was assistant director for Columbia Pictures TV's ABC network popular prime time series Hart to Hart, which starred Robert Wagner and Stephanie Powers. 

He also orchestrated the much-heralded re-sign-on of KTXH with the help of film director, Peter Bogdanovich and actors John Ritter and Colleen Camp. 

He has appeared in a number of TV commercials, short films, TV series, and a TNT movie titled Orpheus Descending, which was based on a play by Tennessee Williams and starred Academy Award winner Vanessa Redgrave


America's Victory by David W. Shaw:

Each of the dozens of countries exhibiting their examples of art,science, and technology were allotted their own space in the Crystal Palace.


They laid in their bunks and listened to the tide gurgle past the hull inches from their ears, and to the occasional tap of the halyards on the foremast in the slight breeze coming through the hatch.

In the first sentence, EACH is the subject, so the verb should be WAS allotted.In the second sentence, of course, the crew LAY in their bunks.

Festival at Sea features Chocolate Ship

Festival at Sea has selected Marissa Monteilh's The Chocolate Ship: A Novel, for the book talk portion of a seven-day Caribbean Cruise, July 5-12, 2003.

This "groove-ship cruise," which is sponsored by African-American owned Blue World Travel, is expected to attract a sold-out crowd of more than 2,500 cruisers, including book club members who will receive a special, $100 discount.

The headliner will be comedian-actor Sinbad, with appearances also by the Ohio Players, comedian Damon Williams, and other acts to be announced later.

The Festival at Sea's full-ship charter is the first major cruise marketed specifically to African-Americans.

This summer's cruise departs Port Canaveral near Orlando July 5, with stops in Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, Belize City and Cozumel.

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Book reviewer: not a critic


My first published book review was more than a half century ago when I was a cub reporter in Birmingham and it was a hesitant 60 words on a short story collection. Six years ago, after I had written three historical pieces for the Sunday Commentary section of the Tampa Tribune, its editorial page editor, Ed Roberts, told me he was going to expand the Sunday book review pages and asked if I wanted to be a reviewer. I met with him and Diane Egner, Tribune book editor, to see what my guidelines would be.

"Don't ever say a book 'is a good read,'" said Ed, a stylish writer who hates clichés. Diane suggested, "If a book is really bad, don't attack it.Just don't review it." 

Since that meeting I've written about 250 reviews for the Tribune. Perhaps 100 were 750 to 1,000 words in length; the rest were capsule reviews of 100 words. 

I think of myself as a book reviewer not a criticMy academic background was journalism, not literature. After a long career of writing--reporter, advertising and mainly public relations--I'm confident about the quality of writing, so I often comment on style in a review. 

The book editor has never dictated what I will read. I visit her office, awed by a dozen shelves of new books. On the floor are boxes fresh from publishers spilling with still more books. Then I settle in, thumbing through volumes and I'm happy in this milieu. I take along a canvas boat bag and drop in hardbacks that interest me, usually six to ten books, then make a list of my selections for Diane.Occasionally she will ask if I will read a book that is getting a favorable publicity buzz and needs a timely review.

The past couple of years I've leaned to non-fiction books-- memoirs, biographies, political analysis and the like. It's not a conscious decision; they just seem to end up in my book bag. I never review books by pop authors, such as John Grisham, Danielle Steel and Stephen King. Formula writing bores me and I'm probably wrong, but I imagine rows of writers grinding out these books in machine precision like Japanese assembly-line paintings. 

In reading my book, I make notations as I go, marking nice phrases and other data I may want to use. I have access to an author but I seldom call unless there is a Florida angle to exploit. I give the lead a lot of thought; I want it to be provocative and hook the reader. It's akin to writing a newspaper feature story. For example, my review on Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda began:

"No couple continually haunts our literature like Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald. They keep stumbling drunkenly out of 20th-century anthologies. And they will inexplicably appear--she in a shimmering beaded dress, he in pale and rumpled linen suit-- whenever anyone writes about the decadence of the expatriates in France in the 1920s. Their poignant life is enough to break your heart. Lord knows, it broke the Fitzgeralds' hearts and spirits. They were both dead before they were 50 years old." 

It's obvious in many of the books I read that keen editors and fact-checkers are no longer around in the publishing process. A casualty of today's economics, I suppose. A book of fiction placed during the first World War, had the protagonists listening each evening to the war news on the radio. A warning bell went off in my mind and I remembered (from journalism classes at the 

University of Alabama) there were no radio broadcasts until 1920- two years after the war ended. I gave the author a small razz berry in my review.

Fortunately for me, there are editors at the Tribune that read my copy. The book editor and her colleague, Nancy Gordon, read my initial review. Later a page proof is routed to all the editorial writers. A tough audience. 

Still, my errors occasionally pop up. In a long review on Eisenhower I had his West Point class incorrect. The Monday after the review ran, there were several phone calls to the book editor and a correction was run to satisfy all the military retirees in the Tampa Bay area. 

Finally, I have many new friends because of the reviews. One is Marie Rudisill, Truman Capote's aunt. She wrote a book about Capote and I discovered she lived in nearby Hudson, Florida. I went to see her, got quotes for my review, and, when she learned I grew up in Alabama, too, we became buddies. Now she calls and tells me about all the activities going on in her 93-year-old life such as flying to California to be on the Jay Leno show.

Hey, I know 30-year-old authors that aren't half as much fun. ©

Bill Gray was a journalism major at the University of Alabama and began his career as a reporter in Birmingham with Scripps-Howard newspapers. He moved to Tampa and an advertising agency in 1955. He later founded his own public relations firm that was bought by Hill & Knowlton, a worldwide PR firm, for its entry into Florida. He ran the H&K Florida office for many years. He still does some consulting and is writing a novel. 

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"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book - I'll waste no time reading it."-- Moses Hadas

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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).


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., 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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