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


Registered Nurse Wanda Gilberts Kachur, author of The Nautilus (Peytral Publications, 175 pp.), will speak to the North Florida Writers about how she came to write a novel focusing on injuries to children�s brains and spinal cords.

The Nautilus is about Kathryn, a girl who is injured in a car accident while visiting her grandmother in Florida.  The novel depicts this only child before the accident and then as she undergoes emergency tratment for her serious spinal cord injury.  It follows her through rehab treatment as she learns to care for herself and to walk again. As the story unfolds, the reader also learns about medical procedures and typical reactions to treatments for head and spinal cord injuries.

Ms. Kachur will speak at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 13, in Room F128B of Kent Campus.

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Highlights of July and August will be several workshops  in the Southeast for established and aspiring writers.

July 12-14:  Cumberland College in Williamsburg, Ky., will have as its keynote speaker poet Jeff Daniel Marion, author of The Chinese Poet Awakens, Vigils, Letters Home, Out in the Country, and Back Home.  He will anchor the Appalachian Writers Association Conference.

July 16-28:  The University of the South will host the 13th session of the Sewanee Writers' Conference, which gathers a distinguished faculty to provide instruction and criticism through workshops and craft lectures in fiction, poetry, and playwriting.

The regular faculty will include writers John Casey, Barry Hannah, Diane Johnson, Randall Kenan, Margot Livesey, Jill McCorkle, Alice McDermott, and Claire Messud, and poets Andrew Hudgins, Mark Jarman, Dave Smith, and Ellen Bryant Voigt.  Daisy Foote and Romulus Linney will work with participants interested in playwriting.  Jacksonville's Sohrab Fracis (Ticket to Minto) will also participate in the conference.

July 26-27:  The North Carolina Writers Conference will hold its 53rd annual meeting in Elizabeth City, with speakers including New York Times columnist Tom Wicker and Fayetteville journalist-historian Roy Parker Jr.

Other conferences include the Harriette Austin Writers Conference, July 19-20; Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference, July 21-26; Alabama Writers' Conclave Conference, Aug. 1-3; Eatonville (Ga.) Literary Festival; White County Creative Writers Conference, Aug. 31.

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Thea E. Smith's new novel, She Let Herself Go, has just been published by Five Star Press (ISBN 0-7862-3704-X).  The novel is about Ruth Gardner's bout with menopause and her sense that others value her less as she grows older.
Through a series of incidents, she realizes that she must change her life if she is to age happily in a society that worships youth.  She struggles to extract herself from the routine of domesticity and to recognize that she alone can control her life.

She Let Herself Go is available through Thorndike/Five Star Press, through independent booksotres, or through such online book distributors as Barnes & Noble.

For more about the novel or to read an excerpt, see

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Excuse me, while I steal a comic's line and go on a rant here, but it relates to writing, communication, and the so-called blessings of the internet.

First of all, you need to know that I am strictly a Type A work addict who still has a naughty side.  Some of my delights in college involved discovering Chaucer's "Miller Tale," Voltaire's "Candide," plus "Fanny Hill," "Moll Flanders," etc.

I don't sit around fretting that the young folks are going to hell in a handbasket because they are Doing It.  Ovid, Boccaccio, and others have confirmed that people have been making the beast with two backs for millenia.

Now, for the problem at hand:  At work, we have an interoffice e-mail system (Outlook, of course), but, since the system goes down at times, we employees will also use American Online or the free services from Juno, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc.

Any business that hopes to create a sense of "family" will, of course, have e-mail messages going out about, say, cake-sales, blood drives, etc. to benefit United Way or the X-Employees of Our Firm.  You delete these messages pretty quickly. . .unless you have an attack of the munchies or your blood level feels a pint low.

Then you click on Hotmail, you notice that the free e-mail services have sections devoted to regular ads (trips to Hawaii, a TV special, specials on automobiles, etc.).  Fair enough, you aren't paying anything for the service and it enables this Microsoft subsidiary to keep Bill Gates out of the poor house.  You get so that you don't notice these ads.

When you check your mail inbox, you may encounter unsolicited messages. These try to interest you in "200 Asian Virgins," "Triple X Girls," "How to Extend Your Penis," "Best Rates on Viagra," etc., etc.  Hotmail also has a blocking mechanism that permits you to send items straight to junk mail if they come from (to make up a few) "," "," and so on.  You can even block everything from ""

Over time, you'll find that you have blocked most messages of that ilk.  A problem occurs only if you are helping to maintain a website for, say, the Freedom & Justice League of the Solar System and you check e-mail sent to a new account called "f&"

Here you have to start all over again, since each day opens with the inbox having one or two real messages and the rest hawking bare bottoms or Viagra or enlarging parts of one's body.  The blocking process has to begin anew, and it takes a long time to keep these out.

Now, American Online sounds like a red, white, and blue organization, but AOL apparently only likes the green of money and it makes little effort to keep unsolicited messages from bombarding you daily.
AOL doesn't have a blocking mechanism.  If you reply to a message and tell them to unsubscribe you, the reply message generally doesn't go through.  (In truth, there may be an unsubscribe message at the end of their blurb, but I have no intention of going that far.)  Moreover, if you reply at all, the sleaze-ads love you because you have confirmed that your e-mail address is good.  Next, you look again for that blocking mechanism, but you would need to send the message back to AOL headquarters and tell them why you found it offensive.

AOL, in effect, becomes a partner in the smut, although it will claim it is trying to respect the First Amendment and to keep the American Civil Liberties Union off its back.

When any firm provides a blocking option, it lets the individual citizens decide what they wish to read each time they check their inboxes.

AOL and other search services also intrude with their "pop up" ads, usually for new cars, hair products, or the like and they won't go away until you click their close button.  Although these aren't morally objective, these are philosophical invasions of our privacy--at least mine.

It's as if, while I'm trying to reply to a memo, someone steps in and waves an insurance pitch between me and the screen, and shouts, "No, no, look at this!"

We speak of villages or global villages, and that hearkens us back to village life.  Alice Roosevelt Longworth had a line about social behavior fitting for a genteel time:  "I don't care what you do as along as you don't do it on the sidewalk and scare the horses."

Well, in our village, they are bursting into our houses and into our heads.  They have already scared the horses, and let me end my rant because I've got to heat up some tar to go with the feathers.©

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The June business section of the North Florida Writers had a first reading for two proposed resolutions:

--The NFW would agree to sponsor a panel on writing and publishing at one of the local libraries or bookstores.  The organizing work would largely be done by an independent group that would need a few volunteers from the NFW to help out.

--The NFW would be the primary sponsor of the annual novel contest of the Florida First Coast Writers' Festival.  The NFW currently contributes $300 for its part of the first prize, along with $150-200 for refreshments at the Festival, plus a portion of the costs for plaques.  The NFW would obligate itself to pay out prizes of $500, $200, and $100; critique fees of $500 for the top five manuscripts; and costs for plaques.

A second reading and a vote on each resolution will occur July 13.

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Generally, style becomes perfect as it becomes natural--that is, colloquial.

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1--George Sand (1804), James M. Cain (1892), Jean Stafford (1915); 2--Hermann Hesse (1877); 3--Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860), Franz Kafka (1883), M.F.K. Fisher (1908), and Tom Stoppard (1937); 4--Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804), Ann Landers (1918), and Abigail Van Buren (1918);
6--Karl Gustaf Verner von Heidenstam (1859); 7--Robert Heinlein (1907); 9--Joseph Cowen (1831), Barbara Cartland (1901) and Oliver Sachs (1933);

10--Robert Chambers (1802), Marcel Proust (1871), and Alice Munro (1931); 11--Thomas Bowdler (1754), E. B. White (1899), and Harold Bloom (1930); 12--Edward Benlowes (1602), Henry David Thoreau (1817), and Pablo Neruda (1904); 13--Wole Soyinka (1934); 14--Irving Stone (1903), Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904), Woody Guthrie (1912), and Natalie Ginzburg (1916);

15--Robert Conquest (1917) and Iris Murdoch (1919); 16--Anita Brookner (1928); 17--Richard Carew (1555), William John Courthope (1842), Jakob Christoph Heer (1859), Samuel Joseph Agnon (1888), Erle Stanley Gardner (1889) and James Purdy (1923); 18--William Makepeace Thackeray (1811), S. I. Hayakawa (1906), and Margaret Laurence (1926); 19--Heinrich Christian Boie (1744), Herman Bahr (1863), E. P. Snow (1905), Joseph Hansen (1923), Dom Moraess (1938), and Jayne Anne Phillips (1952);

20--Connie McCarthy (1933); 21--Al-Bukhari (810), Frances Parkinson Keyes (1885), Hart Crane (1899), Ernest Hemingway (1899), A. D. Hope (1907), John Gardner (1933), Tess Gallagher (1943), and Buchi Emescheta (1944); 22--Stephen Vincent Benét (1898) and Tom Robbins (1936); 23--Raymond Chandler (1888); 24--John D. MacDonald (1916);

25--David Belasco (1853); 26--George Bernard Shaw (1856), Carl Jung (1875), Aldous Huxley (1894), and Robert Graves (1895); 27--Thomas Campbell (1777), Giosue Carducci (1835), Hilaire Belloc (1870), Joseph Mitchell (1908) and Bharati Mukherjee (1940); 28--Beatrix Potter (1866), Malcolm Lowry (1909), John Ashbery (1927), and William T. Vollmann (1959); 29--Booth Tarkington (1869), Don Marquis (1878), and Stanley Kunitz (1905);

30--Emily Brontë (1818), Oliver Optic (William Taylor Adam) (1822), Gaston Calmette (1858), Jean Jacques Bernard (1888), William Gass (1924), and Alexander Trocchi (1925); 31--Elizabeth Wurtzel (1967).

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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?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).
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., 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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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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