The Write Stuff
Writing News for the Sunshine State & the Solar System
Vol. IX: 10

Book Island Festival Set This Weekend

This Friday, Amelia Island will begin hosting three days of events related to the Book Island Festival.  The workshops and author readings will be held at Maxwell Hall in Fernandina Beach, with related events held at bookstores, the library, and other downtown locations.

Many events are free, but general admission and admission including lunch will be $10 and $25, with the rates rising to $15 and $35 after Oct. 3.

For information about tickets and schedules, call BooksPlus at 904.261.0303 or the Sailor�s Wife Bookstore at 904.261.5845 or consult the website at

Many authors will read from their works:

Louise Bernikow--Bark If You Love Me; Melody Bussey--Crazy Cats; Susan McBride--Overkill; Steven Richardson --Crossing The Chalk Line; Hollis Cate--At the Beach and Elsewhere; Denny Smith--Ballads of the Buccaneer Trail; Sohrab Fracis--Ticket to Minto; Bill Reynolds--Jetty Man; George Furnival--Michael Row Your Boat Ashore; Sue Spencer--More Creeks I�ve Been Up; Karen Helms--The Proud Bastards; Gerhardt Thamm--Boy Soldier; Gary F. Izzo--Devil�s Rood; Richard Staver--Who Licked The Red Off Your Candy; Diane LaRoe--The Awakening; Brenda Ray--The Midwife�s Song; Nola Perez--Continent of Dreams; Andrew Glaze--Someone Will Go On Owing; James M. Robbins--Graviture; Marsha Dean Phelts--An American Beach; Charles Sobczak--Rhythm of the Tides.

North Campus Oktoberfest Features
Fracis, Medical and Police Experts

FCCJ�s North Campus will host its sixth annual writers� workshops when the Oktoberfest for Writers assembles on Friday, Oct. 12.  Programs will be held at 9:10, 10:10, and 11:10 a.m.

Sohrab Fracis, author of the short story collection, Ticket to Minto (U of Iowa P), will talk about the evolution of one of his stories during a reading.  He was a finalist in the Flannery O�Connor Short Fiction contest sponsored by the University of Georgia and then won the best short fiction collection prize of the University of Iowa.

Fracis, a former speaker at the North Campus workshops, is an adjunct instructor of English and creative writing at the University of North Florida.

Reta Roberts, instructor of police science at FCCJ, will explain to those who write about crime the proper terminology they should use in their fiction or non?fiction.

Glenda Miller, dental instructor at North Campus, will help writers who try injuries and illnesses many of the medical and dental practices used in the Middle Ages and up to the modern era.

Admission to Oktoberfest is free to FCCJ students and employees and to active members of the North Florida Writers.  Others may register at the door for only $10.

The event is sponsored by the NFW and the North Campus Student Activities Office.

For more information, e?mail coordinator Howard Denson at

Poets to speak to NFW on Oct. 13

The co-authors of a book of poetry will speak at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, at the monthly meeting of the North Florida Writers.  The speakers are Jo Holland Alexander and Elizabeth Ansley Allen, who wrote On the Way to the Water Well, with illustrations by Jane Hodges Starke.

Ms. Allen is a retired high school teacher of social studies and history, the mother of four children, and the grandmother of seven.  A former Fulbright scholar and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Agnes Scott College, she is an active member of The Work of Our Hands, a non-profit art and art education organization.

Ms. Alexander has been a high school English teacher for 23 years and a language arts residence teacher for Jacksonville. The National Board Certified teacher also has four children and seven grandchildren, along with being a national champion swimmer and an inductee of the Atlanta Athletic Club's Hall of Fame.

An Evening With Wayne Wood Set Oct. 23

The Friends of the Jacksonville Public Library will hold �One Enchanted Evening with Wayne Wood� at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23, at the Garden Club of Jacksonville (1005 Riverside Ave.).

Wood will discuss his new book The Great Fire of 1901 and will have a book signing after his talk.  Wood is a noted historian and author of Jacksonville Architecture.

Advance tickets will be $5 and tickets at the door will be $6.  Since seating is limited, interested persons are encouraged to call 354-8508 to reserve advance tickets.

Focus and Omit Irrelevancies


"A short story isn't perfected until its every detail contributes to its overall effect."

I heard this repeatedly throughout my literary education, and I believed it, but not entirely until lately. In the past, I believed that many stories could get by with a smidgeon of detail unrelated to the overall effect. I also believed that my professors were overzealous in wanting to instill in their students the idea of aiming for the highest mark when writing creatively.

In those days, I had only recently begun seeing myself as a writer. I couldn't imagine myself, or anyone, writing a story wherein every detail contributed to the overall effect.  Youth and laziness rendered extreme and unnecessary the actual reading of a few great stories with an eye towards seeing if everything counted or not.

Today, I still believe that many stories get by without making it all count, but I don't believe it defensively, and, more importantly, I believe too that all such stories fail to cross the threshold of art.

Thankfully, the task of making it all count no longer seems beyond me. I've learned that attentiveness to theme eventually leads to the exclusive selection of pertinent detail and that, in writing, the seemingly impossible once forgotten about often becomes possible. You write everyday, and, in each story, you spend your efforts bringing your overall effect or objective into focus. Soon you will realize that unawares you made every detail count.

It's like writing grammatically correct English from the influence of your reading instead of from your having memorized a grammar text.

Making it all count in a story is not without pitfalls; the biggest hazard is your believing a detail relevant which isn't. Distancing yourself from the work may help. If you begin a new manuscript, or just leave the one in question alone for two or three weeks, a return to it will often bring the irrelevant detail to light.

Writers are sometimes encouraged to include in their fiction details from their current life. The hope is that real life's intensity will bleed into the fiction, making it more intense. The concept is sound, but the compulsions of life are such that the detail selected may have a life of its own which may distort, weaken, or destroy your fictional objective.

Other reasons for straying from your overall objective in a story might include your wanting to hold on to a word or phrase that inspired your work from the start, but which no longer fits. Or if your writing is light, you may be obsessed with including a joke, or some other such nonsense, that has you fascinated for the moment.

Inspiration is ephemeral and irrational. Creativity needs it for its start, but, for its finish, it needs rational thinking and planning. Therefore, it is not uncommon for the inspiring spark to burn out as the bonfire of creativity grows.

Your humanity is your only excuse for holding onto such nonsense as "cute" writing or any other obnoxious affectation of style. Sometimes it works, and it may even contribute to the overall effect. But most of the time it is destructive, and should be avoided.

A successful story is the sum of all its parts. A simple story resolves a conflict to most readers' satisfaction. A complex one does the same thing, but it has an essence that reacts with the life experiences of each reader. The awakening of this reaction is one of the functions of art. And here unrelated detail cools this reaction to the point of rendering the story artistically void.©

WANT TO USE TOM LANE'S SYNDICATED COLUMN?  Write to The Lane Column, Madison Square Station, P. O. Box 235, New York, NY 10159.

Keeping Up with Changes
in Grammar and Usage


Language and grammar change with no one in authority able to do anything more than include new words or new meanings in the dictionary and print manuscripts with unique punctuation.  If the officials are French, people can be forbidden to print Western slang.  Otherwise, the media win or wins, and rules are bent, broken and lost.

When a writer finishes his final revision and sends his manuscript for perusal by a prospective agent or buyer, what rules should he follow?  Is an eighth grade grammar book an appropriate resource for him to check his grammar and punctuation?  Hardly.

A grammar book will tell him to make subjects and verbs agree, as in "he is his own enemy." It's simple enough.  Then he comes to "Everyone was there with their back-packs."  If everyone means every single person and governs the verb was, how can he use "their back-packs"?  He couldn't. It's wrong, but don't ask a newspaper reporter or a politician to verify this.  One may not know the right way; the other may not want to sound pretentious. Spell-check won't pick up "there" and "their" so the author has something else to worry about.

     Was that a preposition ending that sentence or an adverb?  Should it read, "about which to worry"? Many writers today don't fret if a preposition comes right before a period, but then most of them use their own rules.

Some editors love commas, although they take up spaces.  These may cause a word to trail a paragraph, which may necessitate in a line at the top of a new page and add expense. A editor can cut many commas because often they aren't used correctly anyway.  Take a prepositional phrase at the beginning of a sentence.  Some critics advise, "Yes, take them all."  There is no comma needed after an initial, prepositional phrase. After three of them one comma is used � not three.  However, commas belong after introductory, adverb clauses that tell when, how, where and behind participle phrases, such as this:  "Smiling, he waved."

     Dashes were useful around parenthetical expressions after parentheses fell into disgrace, but the latest hardback books show dashes instead of quotation marks.  Now four keys on the laptop are seldom required because pesky commas replaced parentheses and dashes; dashes are killing quotation marks.  Next to go will be semicolons and exclamation points!©

SynergEbooks Sponsors Horror Story Contest

SynergEbooks is sponsoring a fall contest with the horror theme of "Do Not Go in There!"  The winner will receive a cash prize of at least $50 with the prize increasing by $10 for each ten qualifying entries.

Entries may be submitted online or by mail until midnight on Nov. 1.  Each story of 1200 words or less should be accompanied by an entry fee of $20.00.  Writers may enter as often as they would like.

For more information and an entry form, go to the website at  or write to Fall Literary Contest, 1235 Flat Shoals Rd., King, NC 27021.  Include an SASE.

FirstNovelFest Planned for '02

The publishers of Gardenia Press, a royalty publishing house in Wisconsin for yet-unpublished novelists, will have an annual writers' conference for unpublished authors and children's storytellers in Orlando.

The third conference FirstNovelFest 2002 will be held at the Wyndham-Orlando. FirstNovelFest 2002, on Oct. 13-16, 2002, Gardenia Press is including several workshops facilitated by Writer's Digest instructors, author reading (optional), appointments with editors and literary agents, a sit-down catered banquet and socials for more networking opportunities. The registration fee is $375.  The registration opens on Oct. 15, 2001.  As part of the conference, six to 12 manuscripts will be selected for publication from the pool of manuscript consultation submissions.

In addition, Gardenia Press will select five runner-up manuscripts, also. "In essence, 6 to 12 authors will walk in to our event unpublished, but walk out with a solid book contract in their hands," says Elizabeth Collins, president.   She added, "We pay ALL publishing and distribution costs."

Following the four-day conference, the publishers will hold a private reception for the authors whose works have been selected for publication.

Gardenia Press publishes hardcover books and trade paperback editions. It is not a print-on-demand publisher.  It offers a group rate discount: for 20 people or more, the group rate is $325 each. This can be paid off over 10 months with a good faith deposit of $100.

For more information, call 866-861-9443, toll free. The website is (fiction) (nonfiction).

Writers Born in October

1--William Beckford (1760?), Ernest Haycox (1899), and Tim O'Brien (1946); 2--Wallace Stevens (1870) and Graham Greene (1904); 3--Fulke Greville Brooke (1554), George Bancroft (1800), Alain-Fournier (Henri Alban Fournier) (1886), Thomas Wolfe (1900), Gore Vidal (1925), James Herriot (1916), and Judith Johnson Sherwin (1936); 4--Jeremias Gotthelf (Albert Bitzius) (1797), Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1837), and Alvin Toffler (1928);

  5--Louise Fitzhugh (1928) and Peter Ackroyd (1949); 6--Bo Hjalmar Bergman (1869) and Thor Heyerdahl (1914); 7--Helen McInnes (1907), Imamu Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) (1934), and Thomas Keneally (1935); 8--José de Cadalso y Vázquez (1741) and Philarète Chasles (1798); 9--Sir Richard Blackmore (1654), Edward William Bok (1863), and Bruce Catton (1899);

10--James Clavell (1924) and Harold Pinter (1930); 11--Steen Steensen Blicher (1782) and Elmore Leonard (1925); 13--Thomas Haynes Bayly (1797); 14--Katherine Mansfield (1888) and E. E. Cummings (1894);

15--Isabella Lucy Bell Bishop (1831), Friedrich Nietzsche (1844), P. G. Wodehouse (1881), Mario Puzo (1920), and Italo Calvino (1923); 16--Oscar Wilde (1854) and Eugene O'Neill (1888); 17--Sir John Bowring (1792), Georg Büchner (1813), Yvor Winters (1900), Nathanael West (1903), and Arthur Miller (1915); 18--Henri Bergson (1859), Barry Gifford (1946), Ntozake Shange (1948), Terry McMillan (1951), and Rick Moody (1961); 19--Sir Thomas Browne (1605) and John LeCarre (1931);

20--Karl Theodor Andree (1808), Arthur Rimbaud (1854), Ellery Queen (1905), Art Buchwald (1925), and Michael McClure (1932); 21--Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772) and Ursula K. Le Guin (1929); 22--Ivan Bunin (1870), Doris Lessing (1919), and Max Apple (1941); 23--Michael Crichton (1942); 24--Alban Butler (1710), Moss Hart (1904) and Denise Levertov (1923);

25--Benjamin Constant (1767), John Berryman (1914), Harold Brodkey (1930), and Anne Tyler (1941); 26--Andrei Bely (Boris N. Bugary) (1880), Karin Maria Boye (1900), Beryl Markham (1902); 27--Hester Chapone (1727), Dylan Thomas (1914) and Sylvia Plath (1932); 28--Nicholas Brady (1659), Pío Baroja (1872), Evelyn Waugh (1903), and John Hollander (1929); 29--James Boswell (1740);

30--Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821), Ezra Pound (1885), and Rudolfo Anaya (1937); 31--Christopher Anstey (1724), John Keats (1795), and Dick Francis (1920).

Quote from a Writer's Quill--Daniel Keyes

I love rewriting more than writing.  To me, when I write that first draft, it's like I'm vomiting up a block of stone.  And then I'm a sculptor.  I shape it.  I play with it.  I cut away what doesn't belong there.  And it gives me great pleasure.

The Write Staff:
We aspire to create with words.

Bob Alexander , NFW President
2348 Herschel Ave. # 4
Jacksonville, FL 32204
(904. 387.3139)

JoAnn Harter Murray, Vice President

Margaret Gloag, Secretary

Howard Denson, Treasurer and Newsletter Editor

Carrol Wolverton and Doris Cass, Membership

PAST PRESIDENTS:  Frank Green, Dan Murphy, Howard Denson, Nate Tolar, Joyce Davidson, Margaret Gloag, Richard Levine

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:

Friday and Saturday, Oct. 5-6, Fernandina Beach:  Book Island Festival (
Friday, Oct. 12, FCCJ North:  Oktoberfest for Writers
Saturday, Oct. 13, FCCJ Kent, F128B, 2 p.m.:  NFW meeting with poets

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 in the NFW brings several benefits:  subscription to a monthly newsletter, $5-a-day discounts to the mid-May workshops of the Florida First Coast Writers' Festival, and free admission to North Campus' Fall Fest for Writers.
Membership is $15 for students, $25 for individuals, and $40 for a family.  (Make out checks to WRITERS.)
Is your membership current?  To find out, check the mailing label. If it says "0100" next to your last name, your membership expired in that month.  You do not have to pay back dues to activate your members, so, if you last paid in 1992, don't worry about the months you were inactive.
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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