Next Meeting

There will NOT be a meeting in October 2019, as the third Thursday in October is the first day of the FWA Conference.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas Thank You!

It is with great joy that I offer thanks to all of our members, past and present, our guests, our speakers, our wanderers-in, for these past four and one-third years that I've had the privilege and honor to lead this group. I have learned so much from so many people, and enjoyed your friendship and encouragement as well, that I won't name any names.
I've enjoyed the critique groups I've participated in (and will continue to participate in - hey, I'm still a member), the conferences and workshops I've attended, the workshops I've run, the authors, agents, publishers, and editors I've met along the way. I hope to continue meeting new people on my writing journey.
I've come to believe we don't accomplish anything on our own - there is a network of people who help us, even if that help occurred long before we needed to use the gifts we've been given.
I encourage anyone who wants to be lifted up by writers, who wants to get out and meet people in the industry, not only in this area but from all over the country, this position gives you that foot in the door. I met New York agents and editors, California-based publishing gurus, and many others that have been invaluable to my learning the craft.

I will still be a member, and still attend meetings, though I'm taking a couple months off to begin the new year.
May your holiday season be filled with the joy of knowing someone special, the honor to serve someone you don't know, and the opportunity to pass on the kindnesses that have been given to you.

Thank you,
Writers Group Leader - Sep 2008 - Dec 2012

Sunday, November 4, 2012

General News

We had several people practice their story pitches in October. I hope to find out how they did if they had to use them later. This coming week is our last regular meeting of the year, where Jeff Strand is the featured speaker.

It should be great, especially if you get tired of not being published and wonder - is it all worth it? Am I cut out for this?

Hope you can join us!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pitching Your Story

An agent steps into the elevator. You smile. You're at a writer's conference. She smiles back.
"What's your book about?" she asks.


a. Freeze, staring zombie like at her until she turns around and flees
b. Mumble a bunch of gibberish. She says she doesn't speak your language.
c. Use the word 'um' and 'well' about 50 times, with a couple other words thrown in for good measure.
d. You tell her, in a matter of 15 seconds, what your story is about and she says, "Could you tell me more over coffee? It sounds really interesting."

Where are you on the above spectrum? Want to get to (d) above? Come practice on Thursday in a guaranteed unique workshop on the Elevator Pitch!


Monday, September 10, 2012

Thursday Preview

This week - Craig Weeden, of Muzzles the Manatee fame, will speak to our group about using screenwriting tricks to SEE your novel. Craig is an engaging speaker with exciting stories of the writing life. From his website: (

Craig Weeden is listed in the Directory of American Poets and Fiction Writers, and at Poets & Writers. His work has appeared in such places as the Southern Poetry Review, New Orleans Review, Chowder Review, The Smith, Cimarron Review, Writer’s Digest, Tennis, and in numerous anthologies. His diamond-heist thriller, Lost Stones, recently earned a RECOMMEND from Script Pipeline. Craig holds a BA in Sociology, MA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing.

We look forward to hearing from him and hope you can join us!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Venue Vitae

I won't say it was with great sadness, but it was with surprise and disappointment that after Thursday's meeting we pulled up to the St. Pete Diner and found it closed. Back to Po' Folks we went for some after meeting socializing.
I always enjoyed the food there as they had a nice variety and friendly, if sometimes slow, service. Plus, it's proximity to the library made it convenient. I thank April for initially mentioning the place as a possible meetup.
We held two Christmas parties there, but even if they hadn't closed last year's would have been the last, as I want to find a nice place to hold a party this December. If anyone has a preference you can email me and we'll get it on the list to choose from. I'll also send out an email to the group for input.
I knew people in other areas of my life that also enjoyed the diner, and one of our critique groups met there for a while as well.
As in life, change is inevitable and this is just another one. It reminds me of when I was driving yesterday with my son and we passed a buffet near our house that we had visited several times and heard great reviews from others, too. It was almost 7 on a Saturday night, and the parking lot was empty. I told my son, 'Wow, I didn't expect them to close.'
Change. That's story. That's what you write. Keep on writing.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Workshop Review

Just a word on how the summer workshop went. Great!
We had 16 people attend one, two, or all three sessions and covered defining your story, writing scenes, and adding emotion. Handouts were sent to participants and to those who signed up. Feedback has been positive, and the hope is that this can be developed into something to present at future workshops and conferences.
I, personally, had a lot of fun with it and enjoyed the back-and-forth critiques by the writers as they listened to each others' works. I heard some great stories as well, from futuristic fantasy, thriller, personal drama, humor, and more that sounded very solid and promising. I met new and interesting people, including some I had had conversations with through email.
Thanks to those who attended! It was you who made it great.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Journey through Journaling

Linda Burhans spoke to an attentive group on Thursday, August 9th, about journaling and how it can help you as a writer. In addition, she focused on how everyone has a story to tell, and a journal is a way to tell that story. Sharing her own story with the group included a mixture of touching loss and laughing discovery. It's a journey we all know to some degree.
One thing powerful in journaling is its ability to heal. Linda uses multiple journals to separate her different feelings or focus so they won't 'contaminate' each other. This way she can choose to burn her journal of anger without anyone seeing it, and still share her one of joy with those closest to her.
I've attempted journaling in the past, but always felt it was more like keeping a diary, and was something I'd never want revealed. Linda showed that a proper journal can become a book of universal truth and experience, something that can be used by others to confront their own story.
And finally, a journal can be a gift, a memory of those we cherished, to be shared with those we love.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Announcing new summer writing workshop!

Greetings! We are pleased to announce a free workshop over the summer, meeting on three Saturday afternoons spanning seven weeks. It is called SWISH: Story Workshop In Summer's Heat, and you can find more details about it SWISH Story Workshop.

This workshop is designed to help you write a complete short story and submit for possible publication to any anthology with a due date after August 4, 2012. Or, you can use it to fine-tune and revise the novel you are working on.

Just a note: This is a 'working' workshop, where you will listen to a few ideas, but mostly work at putting them into practice and getting feedback from other participants.

Hope to see you there!


Monday, May 14, 2012

Five Brave Souls

Five people read from their first pages at Thursday's FWA meeting ( May 10 ), after some initial observations and examples given by yours truly. It was an interesting night, as the audience was able to listen to and offer feedback on a YA novel, a YA short story, a mystery, a cyber thriller and a medical thriller.

What variety! And the authors got a clear sense of what worked in their story and what needed work.

It's like my sister said when she considers a new author to read. She reads the first page, and if it's not interesting to her, she puts it back and looks for someone else. I'm afraid I don't always get that far. Sometimes it's the first couple of sentences.

A big thank you to those who came out and those who offered their writing - always a great learning experience. Want more? Join a critique group! See me for more information.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Jack Moves the Words

Jack Vanek, the poet, talked about the link between poetry and prose, and offered several great quotes for attendees to digest. As always, it's about the words. The stronger the word, the more meaning it imparts, the stronger your story. He read several of his poems, some very moving and reflective of his life.

In addition, others joined in by reading their work, and we were privileged to have Cosmic Radio appear for several musical poetry numbers and one spoken word piece to finish the evening. For the tandem, it was their 219th different venue on their quest to play at 300 different places. (I forget if there was a timeline attached, and when I asked what they would do after they reached 300 they said go for 400.)

It was a great night for the 20 in attendance as they were treated to some great poetry and original music, ranging from dark to light in tone.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Avid Reader and Promoter Shares Her Secrets

Shelby Isaacson, avid reader, past marketing specialist at a small publisher and current author promoter, spoke about her passion - for reading, for story, for helping writers succeed in the swamp pit of publishing. Yes, dear readers, it is a struggle once word has appeared on page to get anyone to read it.

But with the right promotion, the right idea and the right timing, you can make it! And, it's really about doing what you enjoy, unless it's a job, and then it's about enjoying what you do! (Because if you don't enjoy it, why are you doing it?) Shelby shared some of the insider information on publishing, including book cover design, editing and marketing.

I think one of her stronger points was - get a professional edit! Too often she has seen work come across that was not properly edited, which immediately slams in on the fast slope to the slushpile.

As usual, we continued the conversation at the St. Pete Diner where she talked some more about her experiences. An enlightening evening!

Friday, March 30, 2012

In memory of Dahris Clair

Dahris Clair, past leader of the Pasco FWA Writers Group and instigator of the one day mini-conference that was so popular at the New Port Richey library, has passed away. She was a tireless enthusiast for writing and for the FWA and many of you may have met her at the yearly conference in Orlando.

I had the privilege of meeting her at one of their meetings and found her to be a font of knowledge about writing, a generous and kind person, and more active than I would have thought possible, due to her health challenges. She stepped down from leading the group last year, and due to a fall in January from which she couldn't recover, she has moved on.

If you'd like to comment on her Facebook page you are welcome to do so.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Die Hard with the Wedding Writer

Bestselling romance writer Kimberly Llewellyn, aka 'The Wedding Writer', spoke to an attentive group Thursday night, Feb 9. She went through the movie 'Die Hard', showing how romance played an integral role in the plot and highlighted some of the basics of adding romance to your story.
Of course, as others have said, it's important to have tension on every page, and for romance, additionally to have emotion on every page. But then, what's tension without emotion? I know I'm going to review my novel in revision and see if I'm following that maxim, and work harder to reveal the feelings of my characters.
I think it's easy for us to get caught up in displaying action without giving the reaction of the characters to events. As a reader once told me, 'He just learned that someone died and he didn't react???'
Kimberly also talked about the publishing industry, a popular topic at each meeting as new writers wanting to be published (or published again) want to know what the current situation is like. In addition, her critique partner and bestselling author Kathy Carmichael was in the crowd and offered additional insights into the industry, contracts, ebook considerations, and other general advice.
Afterward several joined them for a late dinner and more conversation at the St. Pete Diner.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Collaboration can be fun!

Gabriel Horn and Amy Kraut-Horn gave an interesting, informative, and enjoyable talk on January 12th to an attentive crowd. One of the things I found I liked was how they were honest with each other, and gentle at the same time. (At least to me it appeared that way - maybe not at the time!) Any time a writer has to face criticism it can be a harrowing experience. Kind of tests the thickness of your hide.
The two also covered the search for an agent, publishing and the joys and tribulations of working with that industry - a must of course unless you go the self-published route. They also read excerpts from their books and Gabriel related personal experiences that he ended up building into his book.