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


Nature writer Beverly Fleming will give tips to aspiring nature journalists at the August meeting of the North Florida.  Her talk will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, in Room F128B of Kent Campus.

She will urge writers simply to be aware.  "You should know your subject matter," she says, "and the best way to know about nature is to get out there and be a part of it." Observation is the key to success.  A native of Missouri, she has lived in Florida for over 30 years.  She and her husband have lived on the bank of the St. Johns River for 18 years and now live on Marshall Creek, a feeder creek of the Intracoastal.

Before coming to Florida, she lived in the Little Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming and in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts.

She has always been an avid reader and began writing short stories at about 10 (her mother actually kept many of them).  She has been a writer for the Leader Group (Mandarin News, Beaches Leader, etc.) for about 13 years and wrote her  first book in 2000.

She currently works for St. Johns County as their Park Naturalist.



The Book Island Festival (BIF) is seeking college-age performance poets in a "Rock 'n' Roll Readings" contest.

The contest is open to Northeast Florida college students from ages 18 to 22.  Entrants would be reading their own poetry or prose.

BIF says, "We need performers with energy, savvy, poise, and brilliant insight."  The key BIF requirements are performance and content that is cool, hip, or amazing, heart-stopping and not-a-drag.

Each entry should be limited to less than ten minutes.
Two performers will be selected to appear at Book Island Festival (BIF) at readings at the Palace Saloon on Friday, Oct. 4, from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

They will appear with John Dufresnse and Nancy Bartholomew, faculty authors for the Elderhostel writing workshop which is wrapping itself around BIF this year, as well as slam poet Randy Cappus.  The host will probably be Zoo, a New York musician with the band Great Shakes.

Entrants may enter the competition in two ways by a videotape or a performance audition.  Either method needs to be completed by Monday, Sept. 16.

--They may send a photograph, a one-paragraph bio, and a videotape of their performance to Contests, FCCJ North Campus, 4501 Capper Rd., Jacksonville, FL 32218.  Include adequate postage and a mailer for return of the tape and photo.

--They may arrange for an audition at a local poetry venue by contacting either Lynn Skapyak Harlin at or George Gilpatrick at

For more information about the Book Island Festival, check their homepage at

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 An outreach program on Friday, Sept. 13, will feature a talk by the church-state writer Rev. Barry Lynn, the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

His talk will be at Jacksonville Radisson Riverwalk Hotel, 1515 Prudential Dr., in the Port Ballroom.  A reception with cash bar, hors d'oeuvres, and live music will begin at 6 p.m.

An accomplished speaker and lecturer, Lynn has appeared frequently on television and radio broadcasts to offer analysis of First Amendment issues. News programs on which Lynn has appeared include PBS's NewsHour, NBC's Today Show, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, ABC's Nightline, CNN's Crossfire, CBS's 60 Minutes, Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes, ABC's Good Morning America, CNN's Larry King Live, and the national nightly news on NBC, ABC and CBS.
In 1995, Lynn co-authored The Right to Religious Liberty: The Basic ACLU Guide to Religious Rights. He writes frequently on religious liberty issues, and has had essays published in outlets such as USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Nation. Lynn also has op-ed columns published frequently by the Knight-Ridder and Scripps-Howard newspaper chains.

For more information, contact Ken Hurley at (904) 396- 5242.




Not long ago, I self-published my first book, a self-help and support group manual entitled Serious Survival: Skills for Single Parents. It's hardly great literature, but it is a start. Initially, I tried to interest various publishing houses in accepting it--with no success. Letters to a few agents met with the same or no response.

I thought self-help books were in demand, but apparently mine wasn't. I then sleuthed around on the Internet and examined several on-line publishers and finally found one that was recommended:

Right before Christmas 2000, they accepted my book and told me that they only accept about 30% of what is submitted. I had to convert the book to PDF format in order to meet their submission guidelines. I paid $199 to have it set up in their program and another $99 to have a cover designed.

I was thrilled with the outcome and the quality of the book. I have earned approximately $100 from the experience to date, so I'm obviously not going to be able to retire on my writing, but I am now receiving semi-regular royalty checks and should recover my costs. Each check, small as they might be, is greeted with total joy on my part.

The book itself is a 139-page manual made up of questions and answers and is actually quite useful for single parents. It's based on my ten years working as a single parent counselor in two states and features what I learned from students training to better their lives.

I consider it a pretty good treatise on "living cheap," plus a whole lot of discussion on how to deal with ex-husbands, kids, relatives, creditors, jobs, and problems. The book is an instant support group manual making it quite useful to persons who conduct groups.

Along the way, I have learned several things:

--Too many people online and off want your money and offer very little in return. Except for minor amounts, don't fall for it.

--Seek assiduously anything that offers free promotion. One good site is I have a web page there at no cost.
--Send individual emails a lot.  They are free. Don't send spam.

--Errors that are obvious in some else's work are totally invisible to me in mine. There should be a Murphy's law for this.

--Have your work proofed and edited by several someones. You may start with family friends or relatives, but don't end there. There are a few minor errors in my book that I missed. Any change once it is submitted in PDF format costs another $199 with Booklocker, so these errors remain permanent in publication. Fortunately, none are major.

--All marketing is my responsibility. I am constantly emailing or sending post cards to women's shelters and women's groups, the most likely market for my book.

--Suggestions and knowledge gleaned from a writers' group such as North Florida Writers are invaluable.

My Booklocker contract is voidable at any time, meaning that, if I locate a "real" publisher for the book, I may cancel their contract. I don't want to do this, however, because I would still be promoting the book myself no matter what. On the other hand, at some point, I intend to try again to publish the "regular" way.

--One last suggestion: Submit a copy of your book to the Library Journal for review.  If reviewed and accepted, your book is listed in the Library Journal making it a candidate for purchase by libraries. I don't know if I'll be accepted for this as yet, but I'm working on this market. The address is Book Review Editor, Library Journal, 360 Park Ave. S., New York, N.Y. 10010. There is no charge for this beyond the cost of one of your books.

Would I do it all again? Yes, and the main reason is the publishing record I've established. I wish to write fiction and may now list myself as a published author. Anyone entering my name in a search engine will bring up information on this book. The same search will also bring up another article of mine published on-line without my permission. I could complain, but it further adds to my credibility at someone else's expense.©


FROM A WRITER'S QUILL -- W. Somerset Maugham

. . .[G]rammar is common speech formulated. Usage is the only test.  I would prefer a phrase that was easy and unaffected to a phrase that was grammatical.

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1--Herman Melville (1819) and Jim Carroll (1951); 2--Irving Babbitt (1865), James Baldwin (1924), and Isabel Allende (1942); 3--Rupert Brooke (1887), P. D. James (1920),  Leon Uris (1924), and Diane Wakoski (1937); 4--Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792), Knut Hamsun (1859), and Robert Hayden (1913);
5--Michael Banim (1796) and Conrad Aiken (1889); 6--Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809), Paul Claudel (1868), and Diane di Prima (1934); 7--Garrison Keillor (1942); 8--Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (1896) and Nina Berberova (1901); 9--Philip Larkin (1922);
11--Judah P. Benjamin (1811), Hugh MacDiarmid (C. M. Grieve) (1892), Louise Bogan (1897), Alex Haley (1921), and André Dubus (1936); 12--Katherine Lee Bates (1859), Jacinto Benavente y Martínez (1866), and Radclyffe Hall (1880); 14--Sir Walter Besant (1836), Danielle Steele (1947), and Gary Larson (1950);
15--Sir Walter Scott (1771), E. Nesbit (1858),  Sri Aurobindo (1872), and Edna Ferber (1887); 16--William Maxwell (1908) and Charles Bukowski (1920); 17--Fredrika Bremer (1801), Wilfred Scawen Blunt (1840), Evan Connell (1924), John Hawkes (1925), V. S. Naipaul (1932); 18--Robert Williams Buchanan (1841), Ahad Haam (1856), and Alaine Robbe-Grillet (1922); 19--Pierre Jean de Béranger (1780), Maurice Barrès (1862), Ogden Nash (1902), and James Gould Cozzens (1903);
20--Shaul Chernikhovski (1875), H. P. Lovecraft (1890) and Jacqueline Susanne (1921); 21--Robert Stone (1937); 22--John Hill Burton (1809), Dorothy Parker (1893), Ray Bradbury (1920), E. Annie Proulx (1935); 23--Edgar Lee Masters (1868) and J. V. Cunningham (1911); 24--Sir Max Beerbohm (1872), Jean Rhys (1890), Malcolm Cowley (1898), Jorge Luis Borges (1899), and A.S. Byatt (1936);
25--Baron Bunsen (1791), Henrik Hertz (1797/98), Brett Harte (1836), Frederick Forsyth (1938), and Martin Amis (1949); 26--Guillaume Apollinaire (1880), Christopher Isherwood (1904), Julio Cortázar (1914); 27--Theodore Dreiser (1871), Norah Lofts (1904), Desmond O'Grady (1935), Lary Crews (1946), and Jeanette Winterson (1959); 28--John Betjeman (1906), Roger Tory Peterson (1908), Robertson Davies (1913), Janet Frame (1924), and Rita Dove (1952); 29--Giambattista Casti (1724), Edward Carpenter (1844), and Thom Gunn (1929);
30--Mary Shelley (1797); 31--DuBose Heyward (1885), William Shawn (1907), and William Saroyan (1908).

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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., 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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