Next Meeting

June 20th~
Hook Your Readers with Effective World-Building
Speaker: Bria Burton

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

December Author Showcase

I thought I was going to rest in December, but someone suggested we do an authors showcase, and the library mentioned they were thinking the same thing. Of the dates offered, the 11th was deemed the best, and so we proceeded to work toward that goal. Several people worked hard to make this happen, and I have to thank Sunny in particular for her efforts.

Our lineup included Margo Hammond, Diane Sawyer, E. Rose Sabin, Bill Lagano, Sunny Fader, Jackie Minniti, Vicki Morgan, Jude Bagatti, Janice Van Dyck, Helen Parramore, Mary Ann Marger, Lynda Lippman-Lockhart, Vince Carthane, Tom Fincher, Michael Nemeth, Michael Dalton, June Hurley Young, and me.

Books ranged from biography and memoir to photography and religion, with mysteries, talking birds and young adult fiction and children's books. We offered a drawing for a gift card, which Rose Sabin won. Several people gave readings, including Diane Sawyer and Rose Sabin.

Walk-in traffic was disappointing, we had hoped for more people flooding the library, but I enjoyed the opportunity to meet some new authors (new to me) who are in this area, and catch up with some familiar friends as well.

I thank all of the above people for their participation and hope that even if you didn't make a sale, you made some new friends and were able to talk about your work with other interested people.

I wish all of you a good new year filled with joy and success in all your endeavors. As I read recently on one of the blogs we have linked on this site, it's the writing we do for those closest to us that matters the most. I can second that thought (and did on his blog - It's the joy we find in writing that keeps us going.

Hope to see you in January,

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Diner Meeting Enlightened by Zombie Publisher

Aaron Alper, from Zombie Nation Publishing, discussed his experiences in publishing, specifically the history of the Zombie: St. Pete books and the direction his company intends to take. The meeting was held at the St. Pete Diner since the library closed in honor of Veteran's Day (Thursday, Nov 11).
The Diner, a popular after meeting spot for the St. Pete FWA group, gave us most of the back room for the meeting, and in addition to Aaron's insights, books were given away, as well as the annual ream. Pat H took home the top prize.

Everyone enjoyed a good time and the chance to sit in small groups and spend more time socializing.

Our next regular meeting will be held in January, but I encourage everyone to come out and support those published authors at the December Authors Showcase.

I'm thankful for everyone in the group and the wonderful times we've shared, the stories, and the things I've learned.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Eugene Orlando Muses on All Things Publishing

Eugene Orlando, FWA regional director for Hillsborough County and Brandon writers group leader, informed an attentive crowd on what the publishing industry looks like now at the October 14th meeting, and where it appeared headed in the future. He highlighted the amazing rise of book readers and downloads vs. paper copies and discussed his own move into the e-publishing business.

In the fast-changing world of publishing, many successes have been going against conventional wisdom, and the choices for writers, both new and established, is expanding. Only those who can adapt to this rapid pace will survive, and Mr. Orlando succinctly presented the facts and trends in the business.

See you next month,


Sunday, September 5, 2010

R.A. Riekki Drops the Glove

Ron Riekki, author of U.P., spoke to an attentive audience on August 12th, challenging everyone to write more. He shared anecdotes from his writing and publishing career to-date, and pushed everyone to write more, write daily, and submit daily. Wow, what a schedule! (And I'll include a picture of him if I can only find what I did with it!)

If you go to the Amazon site, you can read the first line of his book (which he never did read at the meeting). I think he really laid it out for everyone in terms of how hard the work is in this field, and he's one of the first (if you haven't read Larry Brooks' - he also lays it out in no uncertain terms).

That said, if you don't do it for the love of writing, why do it? So, I'm aiming for a smaller goal to begin with, since I also work full time. Maybe submitting one short story a month. And that's in addition to working on my novel. Or a non-fiction essay, or a set of poems.

We had a great turnout of people from Michigan, even from the U.P., so I'm sure he was happy to see that and talk to those who could identify with his home area.

Thanks to all who made it and made him feel at home,


Friday, August 6, 2010

Dale Hutchings PR Tips Enlighten Audience

Dale Hutchings, PR specialist, gave audience members a simple formula for coming up with a marketing plan. Dale engaged those present in working on five basic steps needed to plan how to market yourself and your literary work. The interactive presentation focused on strengths and weaknesses in building your plan, and is an easy way to get started without feeling overwhelmed by what could appear to be a daunting task.
This simplified approach looks like a good way to get a PR campaign off the ground quickly and stay focused on those things that will benefit the writer the most. We thank Dale for sharing his expertise with us.


Monday, May 31, 2010

Billy Ashby Kicks Off Self-Publishing Series

Billy Ashby, from A&A Printing in Tampa, opened our series on Self-Publishing from the printer's perspective. Billy has worked in printing for 15 years, and the company has been in business for about 40 years. He brought several samples of their work and discussed some of the differences between his company and other online options, including owning your ISBN number, and being able to see the actual printing process!

Billy has partnered with the godfather of self-publishing, Dan Poynter, and Marc Grant, CEO of Mentor Equity Press International, and Pam Lontos, head of PR/PR, a public relations firm that has many nationally known clients, to provide a more complete solution from writing through promotion of your book here. I was able to attend their workshop last December and came away with a lot of great information. I've read some of Dan's books, Pam's book, and intend to use their ideas in promoting my own work.

Billy talked about layout and formatting, cover design, book sizes and the ramifications of using color in your manuscript. He answered all questions with a friendly, knowledgeable attitude, and hoped that the attendees learned something they could use, whether or not they chose his company to print their work.

Next in the series, in July, we'll hear from a local PR expert. We hope this gives you options to explore as you continue on your quest to be a published writer. As Dan mentioned in his workshop, when you have your name on a book, it gives you instant credibility. So keep on writing, and good luck!

Until next time,

Monday, April 12, 2010

Open Mic night a vocal success

In honor of National Poetry Month, 20 members and guests gathered on Thursday, April 8, to hear member and guest readings, and special presentations by AMP (Art, Music & Poetry open mic night every last Monday of the month) emcee Brian Duncan, from Studio620, and Aleshea Harris, from the Blue Scarf Collective, perform cell-phone and spoken word poetry. (Here's Brian reading one of his 'cell phone' poems.)

And Aleshea Harris performing one of several spoken word pieces.

Another way to tell a story, and these were great ones! It was a fun night, and I would recommend open mic to any author who wants to get more comfortable speaking in public. These types of events are always supportive of the speaker, and there are several venues around the Bay area that hold regular nights. Thanks to Brian, Aleshea, and all those who brought out their poetry and shared with the group.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Digital Storyteller Carolyn Handler Miller Captives March Audience

Carolyn Handler Miller, Sunny's close and long-time friend visiting from New Mexico, held an audience of almost 30 FWA members and guests spellbound with her presentation on digital storytelling on March 11. Miller, a former Emmy-nominated screenwriter, has worked on many projects, including Where In the World is Carmen Sandiego? She teaches and works in this relatively new field, and expounded on the unique challenges of writing for games and interactive websites full of rooms and avatars.

One of the biggest was coming up with so many alternate scenes and plot lines to allow for the user making different choices. Mrs. Miller handled questions from the group throughout her presentation, and everyone left with a better understanding of another option in the writing world.

This meeting  marked our first use of the microphone and screen. We thank Sunny for tracking down a projector that we could use, and the microphone improved the listening experience, and will be used in future meetings.

[Ed. note: Why so late? My apologies as I've fallen behind a bit on keeping up here. I'll post last night's meeting review this weekend, and want to remind all those procrastinators that not only are taxes due this coming week, but it's also the deadline for the Mystery In a Month workshop registration. We'd like to see your registration in the mail by Tuesday (with synopsis emailed by Tuesday so we know you're coming) in order to prepare for your presence.]

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ask Sam: What does the pin do?

Today's question is about the Word 2007 Recent Documents list:
What is the thumbtack for next to each document in the "Recent Documents" list? I click it but it doesn't keep my documents where I want them.
In Word 2003, the recent file list under the File menu defaulted to four entries; you could set it to a maximum of nine. Every time you opened a file, Word placed it at the top of the list. When the list exceeded its capacity, each new file would bump the last file from the list. Word 2007 introduced a longer "Recent Documents" list (default of 20, max 50) and the pin, which keeps selected documents from falling off the list.

But that's all it does. If you have ten documents in the list, and you pin the second one, it doesn't stay at number two forever. The next time you open it, it moves to the top of the list, just like it always has. If you open a dozen documents, those documents will be listed before the pinned file. However, if you open more documents than will fit on the list, pinned documents won't be removed.

I'd expect that when I pin a document in place, it stays where I pinned it. But the pin is still a handy tool that keeps you from having to hunt too hard to find documents you work with on a regular basis.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ask Sam: How can I get rid of manual page breaks?

I had a great time attending Sleuthfest 2010, and I've written about the experience on my blog. But now I'm back to answer this week's question:
Sometimes when I type fast, Word breaks the page at weird places. How do I stop that from happening?
Most likely, you are accidentally pressing the Ctrl key when you hit Enter. That inserts a manual page break into the document. There's no way to stop that from happening other than to not press Ctrl. Your best bet is to not worry about manual breaks until you finish your manuscript, and then wipe them all out at once by following these easy steps:
  1. Press Ctrl + H. The Find and Replace dialog appears.
  2. Enter ^m as the "Find what" text. (Word 2007 users need to enter ^p^m because Word 2007 inserts an extra paragraph marker when you insert a manual page break.)
  3. Leave "Replace with" blank.
  4. Click Replace All.Word removes all of your manual page breaks.
Another common typing error is to hold the shift key down while pressing Enter, resulting in manual line breaks. To convert them to normal paragraphs, follow the same steps as above, but use ^l as the "Find with" value (Word 2003 and Word 2007).

Got a question about using Windows or Word? Send e-mail to stfalco AT

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ask Sam: How do I filter comments?

Last week, I showed you how to combine comments from multiple reviewers into one file. While it is helpful to have all of those comments in one place, you don't always want to see them all at once. Fortunately, Word allows you to filter comments by reviewer.

In Word 2003, you use the Reviewing Toolbar. Click the Show drop-down. In Word 2007, use the Review Tab and in the Tracking group, click Show Markup. In both versions, click the Reviewers menu item. You'll see a list of all the reviewers who made comments in the file.

Uncheck a name to hide that reviewer's comments. Repeat the process for each reviewer whose comments you want to hide. When you're ready to view the comments for someone you've hidden, simply check the name on the Reviewer menu, and those comments will appear again.

There will be no "Ask Sam" next week. I'll return on March 8.

Got a question about using Windows or Word? Send e-mail to stfalco AT

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ask Sam: How do I merge comments from multiple people?

Last week I showed you how to use Word comments to annotate your manuscript, but Word comments are also useful for critique groups. If everyone in the group uses this feature to critique each manuscript, you can merge those files into one that contains the comments from everyone in your group.

The easiest way to begin merging files is to save each file to the same location but with a different name. For example, let's say you've got a story called "Touchdown," and there are three other members of your group: Lew, Spencer, and Travis. You might have these files:


To merge the files in Word 2003:
  1. Open the first file (Touchdown-L).
  2. Click Tools > Compare and Merge Documents.
  3. Select the second document (for us, Touchdown-S).
  4. Click Merge.
Repeat steps 2 through 4 for each additional file to compare.

Once you've merged all the files, save the final document. You can save it as is (all comments merged into the last document you selected) or as a new copy. I usually save it as a new copy with "All" as part of the file name. In this case, it would be Touchdown-All.

Word 2007 users have to do things a little differently:
  1. On the Review Tab, click Compare.
  2. Click Combine.
  3. Use the folder button on the left side of the Combine Documents window to launch the Open dialog.
  4. Browse to and select the first document (Touchdown-L).
  5. Use the folder button on the right side of the Combine Documents window to launch the Open dialog.
  6. Browse to and select the second document (Touchdown-S).
  7. Click More >>
  8. In the bottom right corner of the Combine Documents window, click the radio button next to Original document.
  9. Click OK.
The comments are merged into the first document. Save it and repeat the steps for each additional file to compare.

Now you've got all of the comments in one place for easy comparison and revision.

"Ask Sam" is a weekly feature. If you have questions about using Windows (XP, Vista, or Windows 7) or Word (2003 or 2007), send e-mail to stfalco AT and I'll try to answer your questions here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

FWA Members Stay Active, Pull in Awards

We've got some active members out there! Brandi Winans, our speaker this month, gave a talk and book signing at the North Branch late last month. I'm including a couple of pictures here. In addition, Jackie Minniti continues to garner praise for her book, Project June Bug. She received a Silver - Special and Exceptional Needs in the Parenting category from Mom's Choice Awards.

Here's Brandi with our own photographer, Vicki Morgan (who will be giving a talk this month at the Main Branch):
Notice that in addition to her book she has additional materials.
Here's Brandi with two Friends from the North Branch:


Monday, February 8, 2010

Ask Sam: How do I add comments to Word?

A friend writes:
What are Word comments for? How do I use them?
Word comments are very handy for making notes on the text as you write or edit. They are also useful when you exchange Word files instead of physical copies with a critique group. By default, comments appear as notes in the margin of the document on screen and when you print. The easiest way to add a comment to any Word document is to press Ctrl + Alt + M. Word inserts a comment at the cursor location and moves the cursor into the comment balloon.

In Word 2003, there are two other quick ways to add a comment: Click Insert > Comment, or click the Comment button on the Reviewing toolbar.

In Word 2007, you can click the New Comment button on the Review tab.

Regardless of your version of Word, the new comment is attached to the word nearest the cursor if you don't have anything selected. You can also make a selection with the mouse (or use the arrow and shift keys) first, in which case the comment is applied to the selected text. Word moves the cursor into the comment balloon so that you can start typing.

To delete a Word comment, right-click the comment (either the balloon itself or the range of text in the document) and click Delete Comment on the context menu. You can also use the Delete Comment button on the Reviewing toolbar or Review tab.

If you exchange Word files with other people for comment, you can merge the copies you get back from them into a single file and see all of the comments at once. Next week, I'll show you how to do that.

"Ask Sam" is a weekly feature. If you have questions about using Windows (XP, Vista, or Windows 7) or Word (2003 or 2007), send e-mail to stfalco AT and I'll try to answer your questions here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Margo Hammond Delights a Great Crowd

Margo Hammond, one half of the Book Babes and former St. Petersburg Times book editor, spoke to 31 people at our January meeting. Discussing her mom's essays, which now make up a book, Margo talked and demonstrated slice-of-life stories. She answered questions throughout the evening, not only about memoir-style writing, but also about the writing life her mother had beginning in her mid-80s and her own odyssey in self-publishing the book.

It was a great start to the new year and we look to further associations with Margo.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Ask Sam: What about us Word 2003 users?

Last week, I provided instructions for setting up a different first page header in a Word 2007 document. Word 2003 users wanted to know why I left them out. So for y'all, here is how you accomplish the same task in Word 2003.
  1. Open your document and select File > Page Setup. The Page Setup dialog appears.
  2. Click the Layout Tab.
  3. Check "Different first page" and click OK.
  4. Click View > Header and Footer. The header at the top of page one of the file (your cover page) is labeled "First Page Header".
  5. On the Header and Footer toolbar, click Show Next. The cursor moves to the second page header, where the label is "Header."
  6. On the Header and Footer toolbar, click the Format Page Number Button.
  7. Click the "Start at" radio button and set the value to 0. Click OK.
Once you have your header set up the way you want, either click the Close button on the Header and Footer toolbar, or double-click in the body of the document.

"Ask Sam" is a weekly feature. If you have questions about using Windows (XP, Vista, or Windows 7) or Word (2003 or 2007), send e-mail to stfalco AT and I'll try to answer your questions here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ask Sam: How do I set up a different first page header in Word 2007?

Fiction writers usually need to have no header at all on the title page, but want a header including a page number starting with 1 on the second and all subsequent pages. Today I'll show you how to do just that.

There are two ways to get to the Header area in Word 2007:
  • On the Insert tab, click the Header button and select Edit Header at the bottom of the list that appears
  • If the header area of the page is visible, double-click it.
Either way, the cursor is placed in the Header area, which is labeled Header. A new ribbon tab, Design, appears and has focus. To set up your headers, perform these steps:
  1. In the Options area in the Design tab, place a check next to Different First Page. The label of the Header area changes to First Page Header. You can insert first-page only header information here if you want, or leave it blank.
  2. In the Navigation section of the Design tab, click Next Section. The label of the Header area changes to Header.
  3. Set up your header information here. To insert page numbers, do this:
    • In the Header & Footer section, click Page Number.
    • Select Current Position. (Warning: If you select one of the "Top of Page" options, Word will blow away any header content that already exists!)
    • Select Plain Number. Word inserts a page number field at the cursor position.
  4. Format the page number. When you insert the page number field, Word starts numbering at page one of your document, even if your first page header doesn't display anything. As a result, the first numbered page of your manuscript will be 2. You want it to be 1, so you'll need to format the page number by performing these steps:
    • In the Header & Footer section of the Design tab, click Page Number and select Format Page Number. The Page Number Format dialog is displayed.
    • Click the radio button next to Start at. The value of Start at is displayed as 1.
    • Change the value of Start at to 0 and click OK. The first page of your manuscript is now page 1, skipping the title page.
  5. Either click Close Header and Footer or double-click the body of the document.
If you have more than one page of front matter, this won't work because you can't set the Start at value to less than 0. In that instance, you'll need to use Word section breaks-- but that's a topic for another day.

"Ask Sam" is a weekly feature. If you have questions about using Windows (XP, Vista, or Windows 7) or Word (2003 or 2007), send e-mail to stfalco AT and I'll try to answer your questions here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ask Sam: Change spacing between bullets and list text

This week, I'm pleased to have my first reader question:
In Word 2007, when making a bullet list, how do I increase the spacing between the bullets and the text?
When you create a bullet or numbered list in Word, the bullet or number is separated from the list text by a quarter of an inch. There are several ways to change that distance. The method I've outlined below works in Word 2007 as well as Word 2003.
  1. Click and drag to select the entire list. If you've only got one list item, you can simply put the cursor somewhere in that item.
  2. Right-click the selection and click Paragraph on the context menu. The Paragraph dialog appears.
  3. On the right side of the Indentation section, change the value of the "By" field to the amount of space you want to have between the bullet and the text.
  4. Click OK.
Once you've set the Hanging Indent value, each time you press enter while working with that list, the new item will be formatted in the same way. These steps also work for numbered lists.

Thanks for the question! I hope this tip helps.

"Ask Sam" is a weekly feature. If you have questions about using Windows (XP, Vista, or Windows 7) or Word (2003 or 2007), send e-mail to stfalco AT and I'll try to answer your questions here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ask Sam: Adding line numbers for easy critiquing

When a critique group discusses a manuscript, it can be difficult for everyone to find the same passage and follow along. When someone says paragraph two, does she mean the second complete paragraph, or is she counting the widowed lines from the previous page as a paragraph? Which sentence is she talking about? You can make it easy for everyone to zero in on a specific line by having Word number the lines in each manuscript. Open the story you want to work with and perform the steps for your version of Word.

Word 2003
  1. Click File and Page Setup.
  2. Click the Layout tab.
  3. Click the Line Numbers button.
  4. Check the Add line numbering checkbox.
  5. Click OK to accept the default selection.
  6. Click OK to close the Page Layout dialog.
To turn line numbering off when you're done with it, perform the same steps but in step four, clear the Add line numbering checkbox.

Word 2007
This is one of the rare instances where doing something in Word 2007 is easier than Word 2003. There are only three steps:
  1. Click the Page Layout Tab.
  2. Click Line Numbers.
  3. Select Restart Each Page.
To turn line numbering off when you're done with it, perform the same steps but select "None" in the last step.

"Ask Sam" is a weekly feature. I have several topics lined up but I can use suggestions. If you have questions about using Windows (XP, Vista, or Windows 7) or Word (2003 or 2007), send e-mail to stfalco AT and I'll try to answer your questions here.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Ask Sam: Where's my mouse pointer?

Ever lose your mouse pointer? It happens to me all the time. Maybe I park the pointer at the edge of the screen--or when I'm using multiple monitors, on the screen I'm not looking at. Sometimes I simply lose track of where it was when I last used it. Rather than hunt for the mouse pointer, I use one of Windows' accessibility features to locate it by pressing the Ctrl key.

To turn this feature on, perform the steps outlined below. Note: These steps assume that the default settings for how things appear are in place; if you've changed how the control panel appears, you may have to poke around a little to find the mouse pointer settings.

  1. Click the Start Button.
  2. Click Control Panel.
  3. Depending on your Operating System, perform one of the following steps:
    • Vista or Windows 7: Click Ease of Access.
    • Windows XP: Click Printers and Other Hardware.
  4. Depending on your Operating System, perform one of the following steps:
    • Vista or Windows 7: Click Change how your mouse works.
    • Windows XP: Click Mouse.
  5. If you are using Vista or Windows 7, near the bottom, click Mouse settings. (XP users skip to next step.)
  6. Select the Pointer Options tab.
  7. Check "Show location of pointer when I press the CTRL key"
  8. Click OK and close the control panel.

Now press the CTRL key, and a circle will appear for a moment on the screen, centered on the mouse pointer location.

This is the first in a weekly series of tips and tricks for Windows and Microsoft Word. I have some topics lined up already, but if you have questions about using Windows (XP, Vista, or Windows 7) or Word (2003 or 2007), send an email to stfalco AT and I'll try to answer them here.