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


 Mystery writer Melody Bussey will speak to the North Florida Writers at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 8, in Room F128B of FCCJ's Kent Campus.

 A native of Eastern Kentucky, Ms. Bussey is the author of Crazy Cats (Top Publications, 2001).  She has created a Country Woman Mystery Series, which she says is a natural for her.  "Most of the places where I've lived have been the rural parts of the United States," she says.

 The Crazy Cat manuscript of the Middleburg resident was a prize-winner in the novel contest of the Florida First Coast Writers' Festival.

 She has also been a workshop leader at the annual conference of the Writers' Festival at Atlantic Beach.

Check out her website at

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 The ninth annual Harriette Austin Writers Conference will feature editors, agents, authors, and forensic experts July 19-20 at the University of Georgia's Center for Continuing Education.

 Complete information on the conference may be found on the internet at

 Authors on the faculty will include Elaine Marie Alphin (16 books for young and teen readers), Stephen Best (When Philosophers Were King), Joan Broerman (expert on children's writing), Steven K. Brown (articles in Gambling Times, Business Week, etc.), David Clark (storyteller), Rosemary Daniell (Fatal Flowers: On Sin, Sex, and Suicide in the Deep South), Janice Daugharty (six novels and a story collection), Chris Gavaler (Pretend I'm Not Here), Susan "Diana Palmer" Kyle (romance novels), Robert Mayer (author of 23 books), Hubert McAlexander (Peter Taylor:  A Writer's Life), Jackie Miles (Roseflower Creek), Charlotte Miller (Behold, This Dreamer), Bobby Nash (comic book writer), Ronda Rich (What Southern Women Know, That Every Woman Should Know), Rick Turnbull (Gum's Story), and Robert Vaughan (200 titles under 35 pseudonyms).

 Editors will include Ben Beard (New South Books), Doris Booth (Authorlink Press), Tom Colgan (Putnam Berkley Group of Penguin Putnam), Lyn Deardorff (Peachtree), David Ebershoff (Random House), Melody R. Guy (Villard division of Random House, Judy Long (Hill Street Press), Susan Malone (Malone Editorial Services), Dan O'Briant (Atlanta Journal-Constitution), Amanda Patten (Simon and Shuster), Chris Roerden (freelance book consultant), Michael Seidman (editorial consultant and author of Fiction:  The Art and Craft of Writing and Getting Published and The Complete Guide to Editing Your Fiction).

 Agents will include Liza Bolitzer, Cricket Pechstein, Jacky Sach, and Lynn Whittaker, while the marketing expert will be Jill Lamar, director of Barnes & Noble's Discover Great New Writers program.

 The registration fees will be $160 (before July 6) and $175 (after July 6), with optional meals ranging from $10 to 20 each.  To register by phone, call 1-800-884-1381.

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 If you go through the medical section of your bathroom or dressing table, you will once again be reminded about how expensive prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs are.  You will realize that we spend an inordinate amount simply to keep us functioning.

 It's a shame that prescriptions don't include some of the least expensive items available:  sheets of paper, a ballpoint pen, or, if you already have it, a personal computer and ink cartridge.

 I'm speaking, of course, of the healing power of writing.  Oftentimes, it is just what the doctor ordered.
 Look at the value of writing, in journals or on diskettes:

 --It helps us to focus on the "real" issues in our lives.  Too often therapists may listen to us beat around the bush about what we think is wrong, and the friendly shrink will nudge us toward being honest with ourselves.  We can then address that childhood trauma, or marital eruption, and write about it at length and with surprising specificity as we recall things that we had thought were forgotten.

 --It helps us to follow the path laid down by Socrates when he advised his followers that "the unexamined life is not worth living."  We get to examine our hopes, fears, and dreams and to understand what kind of creatures that we are.

 --It also helps us to lay out goals for the future, perhaps wildly unpractical ones at times, but also reasonable ones that we can re-examine with clear heads.  When we then find that we are working towards these goals, we often find that we have returned order to our lives, and these dreams move closer to a reality.

 --Our daily writing also helps us to find material.  If we are writing short stories, we may find certain traumatic events have a virtue:  They have a beginning, a middle, and often an end.  With a change here and there, we find that we can look at our misfortunes and discover that sometimes we can remove the "mis" from the word as we uncover little treasures in our lives.  Are the events in our lives truly important when we are writing fiction?  Oh, yes.  When friends of Somerset Maugham asked him why he hadn't written another book like Of Human Bondage, he said it was because he had only lived one life.

 --Daily writing in journals or diaries also enables us to exercise the so-called "writing" muscles--meaning the synapses that fire off in artistic sequences when we are trying to write our best.  A diary may simply be mundane, written at the level of cliches, but, when we strive to do our best in truly seeing life, we become kindred spirits with Samuel Pepys and Mary Chestnutt.

 --When we process our conversations with friends, associates, or loved ones, we may also find that our personal writing helps us to detect what role, if any, we may have played in the chaos of our lives.  We can also write what we wish we had said (or kept our mouths shut about), and, if we learn from life, we can diminish the anarchy in the home or office.

 --As we change in life, hopefully for the better, we may find our daily writings of another use if we are tackling short stories or chapters in fiction.  We may forget how, say, a frustrated teenager or twenty-something thinks, but the old notepads may provide us with embarrassing details--which we can then use for other characters.

 At some point, our writing may not only be what the doctor ordered, but also what an editor wants. ©

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In composing, as a general rule, run a pen through every other word you have written; you have no idea what vigor it will give your style.


 1--William Wilfred Campbell (1858?) and John Masefield (1878); 2--Marquis de Sade (1740), Grace Aguilar (1816), Thomas Hardy (1840), Barbara Pym (1913); 3--Konstantin Dmitrievich Balmont (1867), Allen Ginsberg (1926) and Larry McMurty (1926); 4--Robert Fulgrum (1937);

 5--Federico García Lorca (1898), Cornelius Ryan (1920), Margaret Drabble (1939), Spalding Gray (1941), and Ken Follett (1949); 6--Thomas Mann (1875), Maxine Kumin (1925), and Harry Crews (1935); 7--Elizabeth Bowen (1899) and Gwendolyn Brooks (1917); 8--Sara Paretsky (1947);

 10--Sir Edwin Arnold (1832), Louis Couperus (1863), Saul Bellow (1915), and Maurice Sendak (1928); 11--Josephine Miles (1911) and William Styron (1925); 12--Djuna Barnes (1892) and Anne Frank (1929); 13--Giuseppe Cerutti (1738), Fanny Burney (Frances d'Arblay) (1752), William Butler Yeats (1865); 14--Jerzy Kosinski (1933) and John Edgar Wideman (1941);

 15--Edward Channing (1856) and Amy Clampitt (1920); 16--Joyce Carol Oates (1938) and Erich Segal (1927); 17--Carl Van Vechten (1880), John Hersey (1914), and Ron Padgett (1942); 18--Gabriello Chiabrera (1552), Leonid Nikolaevich Andreev (1871), Philip Barry (1896), and Geoffrey Hill (1932); 19--Annibale Caro (1507), Laura Z. Hobson (1900), Tobias Wolff (1945), and Salman Rushdie (1947);

 20--George Hickes (1642), Hans Adolph Brorson (1694), Anna Laetitia Barbauld (1743), Lilian Hellman (1905), and Vikram Seth (1952); 21--W. E. Aytoun (1813), Jean Paul Sartre (1905), Mary McCarthy (1912), and Ian McEwan (1948); 22--Erich Maria Remarque (1898), Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906), and Octavia Butler (1947); 23--Irvin S. Cobb (1876) and Jean Anouilh (1910); 24--Henry Ward Beecher (1813), Ambrose Bierce (1842), and Brooks Adams (1848);

 25--Robert Erskine Childers (1870), George Orwell (1903) and Nicholas Mosley (1923); 26--Bernard Berenson (1865), Pearl Buck (1892), and Frank O'Hara (1926); 27--Vernon Watkins (1906); 28--Giovanni Della Casa (1503), Luigi Pirandello (1867), Floyd Dell (1887), and Eric Ambler (1909); 29--Willibald Alexis (Georg Wilhelm Heinrich Häring) (1798) and Antoine de St.-Exupéry (1900);

 30--Thomas Lovell Beddoes (1803).


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

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., 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


 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: __________________________________


 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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