Thursday, February 28, 2008

Readers Judge Books by Their Covers

This evening Mary McCormack talked about the important elements of book covers and what it takes to grab buyers' attention. Mary shared fifteen book covers showing visual examples of what works and what doesn't.

IMG_2852 - Mary McCormack Mary 1


Total Attendees at today's meeting:  8

New members joining today: Jim Ovenshire

Total current members: 9

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Whitfield Puts a Humorous Twist on Grammar

Have you ever thought grammar was boring? You wouldn't think so if you were here tonight for Kristi's humorous approach to the rules of language. Kristi believes that English has been devolving  over the years, and we need to keep this in mind when we're writing. Rules are constantly changing  and each style guide has a different twist on the rules. Guidelines for web articles are not the same as those for books in print, for example.


Do you ever end your sentences in prepositions? "That is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put!" Kristi says with her best Winston Churchill accent, as she describes some of the humorous moments in the history of language. Kristi's favorite grammar book is the Gregg Reference Manual by William Sabin. She encourages all writers to have a grammar reference in their writing toolbox.


For those of you who like to work online, you may want to add the Jack Lynch Guide to Grammar and Style to your favorite links. For those of you who don't like to worry about grammar, you may want to hire an editor or befriend a writing partner who is passionate about saying things the right way.


Total attendees at today's meeting: 7

New members joining today: Debra Wilson, Kristi Whitfield, Jim Ovenshire

Total current members: 8

Thursday, February 14, 2008

FCCW Members Affirm Our Mission Statement

Although we had low attendance due to Valentine's Day, I took the opportunity to talk to participants about our mission statement that we adopted from Word Weavers:

The mission of First Coast Christian Writers is to support our members in finding their unique voices and to develop their writing to a publishable level.

I wanted to confirm that our group is in agreement with this mission. We had good discussion about what it means to be a "Christian" writers group and I believe that we came to consensus on a few things:

  • we like the mission statement
  • we need to keep our doors open to all members, just as the church is open to all who want to enter
  • we want to open and close our meetings with prayer and seek God's will and direction with our writing
  • we want to uphold integrity in all the written words that are brought to our critique sessions

The last point is an important one and deserves to be described in our guidelines. I will be sure that this is addressed in our guidelines.

This evening, we met in room 204 at Christ's Church. It's a larger room and we all felt that it was even more comfortable than our prior room 506.

IMG_2161 - Cropped

Since we're on the topic of Word Weavers, I'd like to introduce you to Eva Marie Everson, author, speaker, writer and founder of Word Weavers. She is the one front & center in the blue polo. This Word Weavers officers picture was taken four days ago at the Word Weavers annual writers retreat at Lake Yale, Florida.

Word Weaver members are all very thankful for Eva's dedication to growing such a supportive group for writers in the Orlando area. Eva has offered to come speak to FCCW, so you'll get to meet her in the near future. You probably also recognize Larry Leech, just behind Eva. He came up in support of our first FCCW meeting on January 24, 2007.

Cheri Cowell, in the black & white swirl top to the left of Eva, is the one who told me about Word Weavers when I was at the Glorieta Writers Conference in October, 2007. I'm so glad that I met Cheri and I'm especially thankful that she told me about Word Weavers.

Total attendees at today's meeting: 4

New members joining today: Jean Johnson, Nancy Jo Wilson

Total current members: 6

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Debra Wilson Explains the Why & How on Press Releases for Writers

This evening we had the opportunity to hear from PR expert, Debra Wilson, on the basics of the writing and distribution of press releases.


Debra provided the group with a basic press release format along with the following helpful tips:

  • Focus on what the reporter/reader will care about.
  • Grab their attention with your headline.
  • If at all possible, answer a "how" question as well as who, what, when, where and why.
  • The first paragraph is key so make it count.
  • Use a "banner" paragraph at the end of your release that describes your organization.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Never use more than two pages.
  • Keep in mind that editors receive hundreds of press releases.
  • Write in third person.
  • Study press releases that others have written (search online).
  • Make sure there are no spelling errors. Most releases are printed exactly as you send them.
  • Use a quote when possible.
  • Address your release to the appropriate person.
  • If you send via e-mail to multiple contacts, address them in a blind copy.
  • Give the reporter a few days before you follow up with them.
  • Be available to editors and reporters. If they call or e-mail you, respond quickly.
  • Don't give up!

Debra also serves as FCCW's VP of Membership. Thank you Debra for the great information.

This is the first evening that we started collecting membership dues. 

Total Attendees at today's meeting:  7

New members joining today: Ron Moore, Inez Holger, Mary McCormack, Lorraine Haataia

Total current members: 4