be sure to check out Joan's latest on her website:

be sure to check out Joan's latest on her website: (usually she updates her blog every Sunday evening but she can and will surprise you) **Special Note: all of Joan's archives are now up--almost ten years of 'bitter girl.' As Joan says, go wild!**

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Demise of Sea Fever: Final Chapter

As you can see, the sailboat from Delaware is no longer together; I wondered how they were finally going to get rid of the thing. One of the guys from the salvage company told me that because of the reef that it had run aground on, heavy equipment, either on a barge or ashore (picture a crane with a wrecking ball) was prohibited lest any more environmental damage be caused. I had forgotten, every fall at the beach the tides really pick up and there is trash and seaweed everywhere. Now that it's in pieces, the waves will continue to pound it until there's nothing left. As of last Saturday, it had been stripped of its name but was still intact; the final stage must have happened sometime last week.
The sky was beautiful but the water was not clear and actually kind of sudsy-looking; it didn't appear very tempting for swimming. The beach itself in large sections was littered with not only trash but unhatched sea turtle eggs; I saw two recently dug nests, but the season is winding down.
(Again, left-click any of these pictures for a larger version.)
Speaking of fall, the fish have begun their migration down the East Coast, as this helpful sign from the park explains. And there were large schools of mullet, sometimes right off shore; and there were also many fishermen and women out, trying their luck. But I didn't see one person catch one fish.
In other news, I also finally resolved the front basket problem with my bike with some plastic washers from Home Depot and a spacer from my original inner axle, so it's secure and no longer rattles. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Lasagna Part 2

This is my latest attempt; note the singed edges. Something is now wrong with my oven; I think the thermostat calibration is off. Anyway, I tried to compensate without overcompensating and this is the result. I still like it.
In other news, they moved my former car to Miami but it's still the same price; we'll see if they either sell it or bring the asking down any. Also, the bike shop called and the part they ordered turned out to be the same size as what they sold me to begin with. Oh well. I also e-mailed Wald about the problem to see what they'd say; that was last week and still nothing. Right now I'm just making due with the jury-rig they fixed up for me in the meantime. I made another pilgramage to Walmart yesterday and it's holding for the time being.
Fall is in the air now that the tropical depression is gone and it feels good; the heat gets to you, the same as the cold does during the winter in cooler climates, I suppose. I may go to the beach tomorrow or I may hit the pool. We shall see.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Car Update

I just went on and saw my old car. The saleman I spoke with told me they mark up all cars $1800. Well, they are asking $19,998 for my vehicle when they gave me $12,000 for it (and I paid about $25,000 new almost four years ago). Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I just wanted to see what they'd eventually ask for it. Oh, and they did take that sideswipe out in the right rear panel. They have many pictures up on their website; just go to the Boynton Beach FL location and search for 2006 Acura RSX type S. Viewing them all made me miss the car even more than I did.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My New Bicycle Part 2--With Baskets

These two Wald specials arrived by UPS together on Monday after starting out from wildly disparate places at two very different times; the big back one came from Miami and the front one journeyed from upstate New York. I believe these are the biggest that they make. Did I overdo it? The bike is heavier obviously with the baskets, but you decide.
And because nothing's easy, they remain a work in progress. I installed the rear one first because I thought it would prove the most difficult; of course, Murphy's Law intervened when the front basket's directions clearly state DO NOT mount on a bike with a suspension fork and DO NOT mount with a quick release axle. Naturally, nothing was said about any of this either on Wald's website nor where I actually placed the order. I have been trying to track down an axle wide enough with bolts on both ends for almost two days; as of right now, the bike shop up in Juno Beach (J-Town Bikes--a free plug) has graciously loaned me a rear axle quick release and is trying to order what I really need. The rear axle will work for now but it's too long, so it either needs a few washers on both sides or to be replaced; we shall see what the bike shop does or doesn't do. They are supposed to call.
But I did some small shopping and everything fit into the rear baskets; the bike handled well with the additional weight, so all in all a good beginning.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My New Bicycle

Of course there is a story behind this--you don't think that I simply walked into one store and immediately found exactly what I was looking for, did you? Not in this universe.Our saga begins last Saturday, when I hit Northlake Boulevard to see what the local discounters had on display. I had already done some research online and the prices had been all over the place; plus, nothing had really jumped out at me, so I hit Sports Authority first. Practically all they had were mountain bikes and the cheapest thing was $247. Then I tried Target; they had more of a selection but the bike I liked best there was $229. Knowing full well that if I didn't at least check Walmart, I would regret it later for sure. One version of this was on the floor and it was $159 but it had a tear in the seat. Thus the plot thickened.
They didn't have any more in stock and the woman I spoke with told me Walmart wouldn't sell a bike that was damaged because they can return it to the manufacturer for full credit. So I went home and ordered another one off their website for site to store pickup, because they wanted almost $25 to ship it to my address.
This was Labor Day; four days later, I tracked it by FedEx to see it was delivered to my local Walmart. I tried to call the store to confirm it was really there; twice no one answered the phone. Twice.
But I checked my e-mail, and had sent me confirmation that the bike had indeed arrived, much sooner than advertised. So I decided to take a chance and traveled, most of the way by bus, to the store.
There complications continued as the young lady at Site-to-Store Pickup came out twice to apologize for not being able to find my bicycle. Twice I related to her who had signed for it and at what time. Again she disappeared into the vast entrails of the cavernous stockroom. Meanwhile, countless other Walmart associates coming by kept asking me if I'm being waited on. I even began telling my sorry tale of woe and treachery to another young guy who worked there who was suitably incredulous that this was taking so long.
Finally the original young lady appeared with my bicycle and profuse apologies for the wait but, as I assured her, all's well that ends well. There were bike assembly people there in the store and they kindly put it together for me for free when they didn't have to.
What's the moral of the story? Well, having worked in retail for many years, I can tell you that even the largest boxes can hide, sometimes right in front of your face. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes.
Of course I did get caught in the rain on the way home but haven't since. Now I'm waiting on some baskets for the front and for the side in the back that I also ordered online; according to the latest tracking information on, both are scheduled for delivery tomorrow, as in Monday. Yesterday I rode it to the beach; in my erstwhile car it took me 15-20 minutes to arrive six miles away to Ocean Reef Park. The bike took me an hour and a half. Each way. But it was beautiful at the beach yesterday and I haven't wrecked yet; so all in all good news.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Requiem For My Car

The car is sold; long live the car. These are the photos I ran in the free online ad, which produced at least thirty some hits but not one phone call or e-mail. Carmax in its infinite wisdom offered me $12,000 after Kelley blue-booked it between $13k-$15k; I took the money and ran. However it wasn't cash--it was a bank draft, which can be deposited only in my checking account, which I did the same day, Wednesday.  It is supposed to clear sometime today. Then I can start paying some bills and maybe do some shopping for myself.
Do I miss it? Not as much as I thought I would. I was just so relieved they didn't lowball me any more than they did. If they had offered me $8k or even $9k, I would have had a real quandary. The guy at Carmax was so disappointed when I answered "By bicycle." to his question of how I'd be getting around from now on. I think I ruined his morning. Oh well.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I Saved Two

and photographed a bunch more. Sorry I can't show you the whole video; at 2 min & 57 sec it eats up 287 MB and Blogger in its infinite wisdom limits all video to 100 MB, which at the highest resolution on my camera, 30 fps, translates to about a minute of footage.
The first hatchling I rescued had flipped over on his back in a footprint--yes, they are that small. So I flipped him back over and got some video of him on the beach but I lost him in the water. The second one was north of where the ranger was; he had been picked up by a seagull but apparently he was too heavy to carry, so the gull dropped him for a minute, saw me and vamoosed. He was obviously hurt but still game for the water, so I helped him into the surf and saw him off. It's either feast or famine with these critters.

Sailboat Update, Part 2

Well, as you can see, Sea Fever has been stripped of her sails and demasted. How ignoble an end for such a fine sailboat. The last couple of times I've been to the beach I've gotten so many turtle videos which I'll try to post--my computer's giving me technical difficulties, otherwise known as very low memory, so things are a bit sticky at this point.
In other news, I'm trying to sell my car because the job situation is quite bleak. I'm probably going to have to move also. Not a pretty picture, but that seems to be what the future holds. What happens with the car will tell the tale, this weekend or beyond. We shall see.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Tale of the Bug

Or, as they are usually known, Florida lobster. Yesterday when I went to the beach I had no idea that it was the beginning of the two-day mini-season. So there I was, walking along the beach, watching all these boats and divers in the water, when I saw one bug in the surf, trying to crawl back into the ocean. I grabbed him from behind on the tail and I placed him far enough up the beach that he couldn't reach the water. Not that he wasn't trying; he was kicking with his tail violently enough to give me pause about picking him up again there. Next came the problem-solving test--how to get him home. There's always trash on the beach, and the house immediately adjacent to where this was playing out did have a recycling receptacle by the high-water mark, but everything was either way too small or extremely big. So I began northward, to find something to carry the lobster in. Soon I found an old balloon along with some discarded men's boxer shorts, so I thought I was in business.
But when I returned to where I had left the bug, two problems presented themselves: first, a family that looked to be hunting lobsters themselves had moved up the beach in the interim and was dangerously close to where my bug was. Second, a Fish and Game Warden from the state of Florida had also shown up and had stopped by this family's boat to check their catch, to make sure none were either too small or egg-bearing females. Meanwhile my bug is baking in the hot morning sun in the sand. So I stand there and wait, trash on the beach in front of me as well as my flip-flops and my shirt, because I didn't want to attract any attention to what I was doing.
Finally the game warden took off in his boat and all the little kids who had been playing in the surf rejoined their older kin to see what the warden had said, so it was now or never. The lobster didn't put up much of a fight going into the balloon, so I was thinking maybe he was most of the way dead anyway; that would explain what he was doing on the beach, as in my seventeen years of walking along the surf I have never otherwise spied one of these coveted crawfish.
Anyway, I kept him hydrated with some sea water and I did find a more comfortable bag with handles to carry him in, so the rest was history. I had him over linguine with some of my special red sauce and some Italian cheeses and I can attest, he was delicious.
I also happened on one baby sea turtle up in Juno on my way home, and I did help him into the water as much as I could, but he didn't seem to take to swimming very well and the video I shot of him was rather disappointing, so I deleted it.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Baby Sea Turtle Bonanza

On Thursday I counted five baby sea turtles--two on Singer Island, being chaperoned by two turtle girls, and three in North Palm Beach. These are the last two--this was behind the north end of Lost Tree Village. Tracks were everywhere, so looks as though we will have a bumper crop this year.
In other news, I also saw an open position at Dwyer High School, just north of me for a Social Science/English position which I applied for, after I received official termination papers from the U.S. Census Bureau. I guess it's true what they say--timing really is everything.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Go Fly A Kite

Saturday was another gorgeous beach day--no low cumulus clouds but some really high cirrus stratus as you can see in the background here (this was the extreme south end of Palm Beach Shores). Today I made some more lasagna and my condo smells incredible as a result. At least the shell of Sea Fever is still sitting there, racking up more fines every day. And the baby sea turtles have begun hatching; I saw one nest with eggshells and tracks from a couple more, but otherwise they remain elusive. Girls from the turtle place up and down the beach in their ATVs. The tide was extremely low in the afternoon and I was able to walk on some sandbars; it was pure and simple heaven, as the water was so warm. I remember thinking that if could choose a Groundhog Day, to relive over and over again for the rest of eternity, Saturday would have been it.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Lasagna, Anyone?

No, I'm not kidding--this smells and tastes even better than it appears. Too bad I don't have anyone to share it with.
Looks like the 2010 U.S. Census is over and I'm going to have to sell my place after all. On the other hand, nirvana is nigh because of the food around here; guess it all levels out somehow.
I have finished editing PR for the latest last time and am now spending some time doing the same with PL. The beach is out this weekend because of a stalled front over us threatening us with showers and thunderstorms of all manner; the pool or the mall it is instead.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sailboat Update

As of yesterday, the local salvage company that takes care of things such as this was setting up shop to dismantle the entire boat and take it away over land; this is all that remains from a similar operation a few years ago about a half-mile south of there (again, left-click twice to see largest version; you can just make out the current boat along with a land rover which was out hauling gear). This is only visible during extreme low tide, which is what it was Thursday. Note the beautiful sky with wavy cirrus stratus as brilliant contrast.
It was hot also but there was a nice breeze off the water to cool me down. I met a tall gorgeous blonde who actually spoke to me just south of the guarded section in Palm Beach Shores; she seemed genuinely impressed that I had walked up to the pier and back but she also dispensed with me rather quickly so we'll see--I'll be back tomorrow and I'll be looking for her.

Monday, June 7, 2010

"Well, We All Make Mistakes,"

is how this was explained to me early Saturday morning, before MacArthur Park was even open, by the short overweight young lady who was working the morning shift as a park ranger (again, left-click each picture twice to view the largest version--this was the north end of the park; note the Lost Tree Village guesthouses on the right in the first photo and the Singer Island condos in the distance on the second). I also speculated that if you had as nice a boat as that, you'd take better care of it; which she rejoined that perhaps on the other hand you'd take it for granted. Ah well--Ahoy there 'Sea Fever' of Wilmington, Delaware: you are parked in the reddest zone of all of South Florida. Move your vehicle post haste or it will be moved for you (note yellow poilce tape at left; the North Palm Beach police mean business--grr).
It was hot at the beach, with surprisingly few honeys out. The breeze was out of the south and all that warm Caribbean air is pushing our normal afternoon thunderstorm activity off the charts. The water was nice and cool but I did not go in, except to get these shots. No jellyfish but I did spy one octopus, about two feet long, washing ashore as if it were dead, behind Lost Tree Village on my way back.
There were many turtle nests about, even in the beach renourishment area; shows what I know.
My bag was taken from me Friday but I still retain my census ID; supposedly all the vacants have to be verified--calling proxies to make sure they indeed spoke with said proxies, et cetera. This was supposed to be an eight week operation and we finished it in four because nobody goofed off; did we talk ourselves out of a job? So far today no call but we'll see.
Skipped the beach Sunday in favor of the pool; I swam for a couple hours but then my next door neighbors showed up. I ignored them for a while but then cut out; it's a good thing Claire gave me PR back--I've found two outright mistakes along with incalculable polishing. At least I have something constructive to do.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Friendly (But Truncated) Recap

I have been reminded I'm not supposed to comment on anything I learn from being a census enumerator. Trust me; I have learned plenty. But I must keep it to myself.
Highlights: Cheri (pronounced liked Sherry), my new supervisor, is now out of hours for the week. Denis (with one 'n'; the Asisstant Manager of Field Operations for the West Palm Beach office) has given the Word--you will be fired on the spot if you go over forty (40) hours in any given week. I am meeting with her at the Church of Wendy @ 11:15 a.m. Sunday to turn all my work over to her.
I am still alive and life is good; when I was over at Mariner's Key to do an interview last night a single mother stopped me to say hi and that I was totally cute. I thanked her profusely and even started a blank questionnaire on her but she became personally offended when I asked her if she was male or female, even when I and everyone she was eating with explained ad nauseum that I have to ask everyone that silly question. Maybe I'll go see her later today and maybe I won't. Such are the vagaries of life in these United States.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, Claire who works for Prudential in Palm Beach from building 3 in my complex is reading the only hard copy of PR; I also need someone to begin PL as I have been doing much need polishing on it.
I finally figured out that the writing 'contest' was simply Marketing 101 for new members; if you weren't a card-carrying FWA person of course your book stank and you totally needed to join to fix it. It takes me a while sometimes but I eventually figure things out.
Still dark out. Wish I was going to the beach but work prevails. Darn.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

B, Careful of the HEAT! Part Deux

or Keep the scene CLEAN! Tx. Lifeguards can become strict if children and other beachgoers are not respectful to the environment and/or nature. This is the take-away from this admonishment.
Right now I'm sitting in my apartment on a beautiful Saturday morning. Why in heaven's name is that? Well, I'm waiting for my supervisor to either call me or stop by my place or both, to either reprimand or fire me or both for the heinous crime of working too many hours in my first week of Crew Leader Assistant duties. I am also an Enumerator with practically my entire binder done. I was supposed to have a meeting with my supervisor which he pushed back from 11 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. that he waited until almost 3 p.m. yesterday to advise me. Then he calls me this morning before 8 to tell me that I can't go to the meeting because I cannot donate or volunteer my time to the U.S. Census. Presently my 2 questions are: Why aren't I having fun and why aren't I at the beach?
Speaking of the beach--it was gorgeous yesterday. But sand fleas were elusive; I could not catch a single one for the poor struggling (Haitian) fishermen who hadn't caught any fish all day long because they were using shrimp as bait. And I used to be able to catch the burrowing crabs when I was a little kid with ease and aplomb. So either they've gotten a lot faster--as in Darwinian selection (Only the strongest and smartest survive)--or I've gotten a lot slower. They two-inch-long crustaceans outwitted me and everyone else that was digging for them. Just shows to go you.

Friday, April 23, 2010


or Snoopy at the beach (again, left-click each picture once and after it resets left-click it again to see the largest version). My girl Alexis at S & P e-mailed me that she's trying to confirm "the 50 companies in the S & P 500 with the highest concentration of shares held by short sellers rose 59.6 percent last year versus 23.5 percent for the entire index." This seems to be the point of contention. I'm calling AP later on in the morning because of the lack of attribution in the article. Now it's still dark out but yesterday, as you can see, it was beautiful at the beach. I'm going back Saturday. I've been doing a lot of polishing on the sequel. I think both books are finally ready. Meanwhile, the property management office for my home owners' association called me because they can't find my check along with a bunch of others. My supervisor for the census job also called to confirm my training. The cooordinator for the finance academy where I want to student teach also e-mailed back, saying that now is crazy but after May 1st should be better. Is fate scheming? Does Murphy's law rule the universe? Time will tell.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Short Selling Article

from the Associated Press. No byline. Dated February 4, 2010. "Sell in May and go away." Have a nice summer--see you in the Fall. (clockwise from the top, HZO is MarineMax, HOT is Starwoods [or Sheraton, actually], GAP is the parent company of A&P supermarkets, DE:TBE is Talbots in Germany on the DAX exchange, DE:HAR is Harley-Davidson on the DAX, HOG is Harley-Davidson on the NYSE and TLB is Talbots) Will you still love me in September? Or will I lose you to a summer's night? Have a good time, but remember--there is danger in the summer moon above.
Guess what today is, students of history? It's Hitler's birthday. Or as he was affectionately known in German 1 when I was in 10th grade, Schicklegruber. Hm. The plot thickens.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Florida Writers Association Literary Competition

Since you have chosen to defend these two, allow me to provide chapter and verse to illustrate what I am referring to. Judge number 6 writes, "Your beginning paragraphs seem to be totally divorced from paragraphs immediately following." If this judge had read the synopsis that preceded the partial manuscript, he or she would have understood why that is. The same judge writes later, "Although this story is science fiction and allows room for vivid imagination, the plot itself is not unified and jumps from topic to topic. For example, there are jumps from information about the holographic hands of a watch to distractions in school to her mother and father; to Swaziland to CIA to HIV/AIDS to military transports--all within one paragraph." The military transports mentioned in the narrative are actually in the next paragraph, not the same paragraph. Later on the same judge writes, "Use of slang generally detracts from the maturity of your writing. Avoid words and phrases such as: joint, tech guy, shut up, canned the small talk, sack time, get her plastered, spill what she knows, yeah, bunch acting, bad guys, didja really think, hey, many a jam, et al. throughout the entire manuscript." The maturity of my writing? This I consider tantamount to calling me juvenile. I do not consider 'tech guy' to be slang--this is a military science fiction novel and this is how people talk in the military--with jargon. If I replaced 'tech guy' with 'computer technician expert,' have I really added value to the story in any meaningful way? When I was in school, I was taught economy matters--saying the most with the fewest words. It's obvious to me that this judge neither reads nor enjoys any kind of science fiction, if he or she is so easily confused. What was someone so unsophisticated and uninterested in science fiction doing judging or critiquing such? Your other judge, number 18, writes similarly, "The opening is a bit confusing. Why the underlining in the opening paragraphs? This goes against the grain of many editors." Again, if this judge had read the synopsis, he or she would understand why the beginning is the way that it is. Later, this same judge writes, "The writer tends to skip around from one topic to another, sometimes within the confines of one paragraph. Both Sim and John are slipping into backstory, which is confusing. The synopsis tells of a very convoluted plot. The writer would benefit from reading "Plot and Structure" by James Scott Bell." Again, why are you asking someone so easily confused and unsophisticated to write a supposed critique of science fiction? The plot is not convoluted; it is very simple. John has a moral dilemma which is not easily resolved, where he is caught between the law on one side and his conscience on the other. Later, this same judge writes under Dialogue, "Needs improvement. Overuse of jargon. Long, run-on sentences. Tighten it up." Again, this judge is criticizing the military science fiction novel for being a military science fiction novel; people in the military use a lot of jargon and acronyms. It cannot be avoided. Under Descriptive Language, the same judge writes, "P6 Sim wanted him to kiss her luscious rose petal lips, hold her lithe and trim body, etc. This smacks of the amateur." Calling me an amateur is an epithet. If this judge had taken the time to read the synopsis, he or she would have realized that the main character Carolyn is writing the Sim and Don subplot for her own amusement and distraction. As such, he or she would have taken such an obviously over-the-top description as characterization on Carolyn's part, reflective of her sense of humor, rather than poor or hack writing on mine. This literary device is not without precedent; Chaucer did it as well as Stephen King in Misery. Again, why are you using judges so lacking in knowledge of literature to judge or critique entries in your contest?
I am not complaining because I enjoy doing so nor because I have nothing better to do. Originally my first thought when I received the critiques was to forget about the entire thing because I normally walk away from something that stinks. But here, because this was the first time I had any dealings with your organization, I decided to give you the benefit of the doubt, in case these two were simply two bad eggs in an otherwise competent and professional organization. If I were running a literary contest such as this and two judges of mine turned in critiques such as these, neither would ever be a judge for me again. I would recruit homeless people from the street before I would ask these two to judge for me again. At least homeless people wouldn't have an agenda. If I were forced to keep them as judges, I would come down on both as might the very wrath of God and read both the Riot Act. Harshly. The reason I say this is because the only explanation of what happened here which makes any sense to me is that both these judges read one line in my submission (Originally, what had attracted Carolyn to the premise [of the Sim and Don television series] was a world, similar to ours but with no sex in it--other than for purposes of procreation between married adults of opposite genders.) and saw red. It's obvious to me that both became so blinded by rage that each allowed his or her professional judgment to become clouded by personal emotion. (Judge #6 under Descriptive Language: "Rather than state descriptions explicitly, try to IMPLY that Sim's eyes are radiant and sparkly, or that she has a sleek and trim physique, or exquisite jade-green eyes, framed by the ethereal nature of her eye lashes...These images are all very strained and uninteresting..." This kind of criticism once more demonstrates to me this judge didn't understand either that Carolyn, a twenty-four year old woman who is not a professional writer, is writing the subplot for her own amusement and also shows an animus evident in the final comment.) Allowing your personal feelings to interfere with your professional judgment is the mark of an amateur. If your organization is indeed competent and professional, I cannot understand why you have chosen to defend these two, especially without calling or talking to me first, in the manner that you have.
I am not asking for something for nothing, nor am I requesting the heavens and the Earth. What I am looking for here, what I would consider fair under the circumstances, is if you could say something to the acquisition editors along the lines of, "There was a problem with one of the entries (which would be the truth). This guy is being a pain (which I realize I am). If you could just peruse his entry and if you'd like to see more, fine. If you don't, provide him with some explanation of why you wouldn't be interested." If these industry professionals blanch in absolute horror at my work as your two judges have, then I will bow out gracefully and leave this entire affair with a better sense of fair play than what I presently have. --- On Tue, 3/30/10, Pasco Regional Writers wrote:
From: Pasco Regional Writers Subject: Re Your EmailTo: carolynmarks1@att.netDate: Tuesday, March 30, 2010, 9:11 AM

March 29, 2010

Re: Your Email to Chrissy Jackson

Dear Robert:

It saddens me to read of your displeasure with Florida Writers Association in general and the competition in particular. I can assure you that it is not a "bogus" organization, but a highly-regarded association of over 1000 writers, not only state-wide, but national as well. Our work to advance literacy is well-known. There are writers group chapters all over the state and in S. Carolina. Any member has access to these writers groups, which are advantageous to the writer to assist by teaching, sharing, reading and critiquing by the members' peers. Constructive criticism is meant to point out the problems in writing and to suggest ways to improve. Unless a manuscript has been well proofed and edited by a well-credentialed editor, it may not meet the high standards of the major publishing houses.

The Literary Competition was organized in good faith. The $25.00 entry fee assured the entrant that the opportunity to be read by an acquisitions editor in a major publishing house existed, IF, their entry was judged one of the top three winners in each category.

To respond to your concerns about the judges' being "vitriolic and spiteful," I can assure you that none of our judges is vindictive. If you look at the score sheet, you will see the five areas in each segment that work as a guide for the judges. It's heartbreaking to me that you feel as you do. The judges are all objective and read only genres that they have specified. In your particular case, I have read their critiques, and nowhere do they call you names, nor do they intend to trash your work. Their intent is to show you areas that need improvement if you are seeking publication by a traditional publishing house.

As to the return of your material. The original announcement of the competition very clearly stated that three copies of the first 30 pages and three copies of the synopsis were required. "An SASE to mail the judges' scores and comments" was also required. It did not state that the material would be returned. Two copies were mailed to the judges. I retained the third in the event that the scores were too disparate. In that event, the third copy would be mailed to a third judge for his/her evaluation. The lowest score would then be discarded, the remaining two averaged for the score. The judges were directed to shred the manuscript when they finished their evaluation. I will mail the third copy back to you.

In all the submissions over the last two years, this is the first time an entrant has misunderstood what was meant to be helpful. I realize that we writers think of our stories as our babies, and as such, we are protective and defensive. Sometimes it is difficult to believe that they can be flawed, but if you read each comment with an open mind, read where they reference certain pages, I think you will realize that this is meant to help you.

I will put the third copy in the mail tomorrow. Again, I am very sorry that you feel you were wronged.


Dahris H. Clair
Competition Coordinator

-------- Original Message --------Subject: Contact Form - FWA websiteFrom: wst_formmailer@secureserver.netDate: Sun, March 28, 2010 11:11 amTo: chrissyj@floridawriters.netFirst Name : RobertLast Name : SullivanAddress Street 1 : 10747 N Military TrailAddress Street 2 : Apt. #4City : Palm Beach GardensZip Code : 33410State : FLDaytime Phone : 561-624-9054Evening Phone : 561-624-9054Email : carolynmarks1@att.netComments : I entered the literary contest that your organization sponsored back in January. I included a self-addressed stamped envelope as I was instructed to, so that all 3 of my submissions would be returned to me. I was promised 3 critiques. About a week ago, I received 2 critiques in the mail, without my original submissions. Both judges, numbers 6 and 18, gave me mostly 2s with a few 3s. Both also appeared confused, as if they hadn't read the synopsis, which I was required to submit, which explained all that I did not in the narrative. Both gave me advice and criticism which seems to me more vitriolic and spiteful than helpful or supportive, as if I had somehow offended both of them with some comment in the book or method of expression and they had both seen fit to take out their anger by calling me names and trashing my work. I consider this highly unprofessional. If either or both simply didn't like the material or felt it wasn't their cup of tea, each should have either said so or given the work to [an]other judge so that a more even-handed evaluation could be given. I realize fiction critiques are by their very nature subjective but in this case I honestly feel short-changed. In sum, I feel that both my money and time were wasted and that your organization is bogus and I will be expressing my view to anyone who wishes to hear it. If you would like to peruse my work for your own evaluation, my blog address is and the first book, the one submitted, is Paradise Regained in the archives from December of last year.

This is the e-mail string from me complaining about this entire reeking business. I never received a reply. Draw your own conclusions.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Cause of Literature

Literature is currently locked in a titanic battle with film for the hearts and minds of the reading and viewing public and must be saved. Why? Because when all is said and done, there are some things you can do in a book that you can't do in a movie. Yes--the converse is also true, but when you weigh the spectacular images from any film against characterization in fiction, they are as dust would be in the balance. And yes, it is easier to watch a movie than to read a book, but when has humanity ever advanced its cause by taking the easy way out?
If literature is to be saved, I believe it will be from guerrilla activity, rather than business as usual. Castro saw the future and he embraced it; that's how he beat Batista. If people want to live in the past as opposed to the future, they are part of the problem rather than the solution; again, if you're not with us, you're against us. I personally prefer the future, as scary as it is. Realism is a trap, folks--pure and simple, and the world doesn't need any more cozy mysteries or Sherlock Holmes/Agatha Christie ripoffs/parodies. This is what I was taught and this is what I know in my heart of hearts.
Down at the book fair, I saw many people that either had been published or needed to be, for all the wrong reasons--the money, the fame, the prestige, the adoration of the masses, everyone hanging on your every word and being on television. The only worthwhile reason for wanting to become published is that other people might enjoy your work as much as you do. That's why I've chosen to put my work up here--for anyone who wants to see it. Because in the final analysis, as much as I may want it, I simply don't need it. And I refuse to beg, because begging is degrading and benefits only the weak.
Make no mistake--the battle is joined. Young people are the vanguard; they must be converted for us to win. But our cause is just and our goals are noble; God will fight on our side. Just remember the caveat to that--God helps those that help themselves.

No Sharks to Feed

No beach to walk on. No bridge too far. Nowhere to run to and nowhere to hide. No time for sergeants. No capacity for doughnuts. No time left. Nothing to do but wait.
Anyway, this is the image that I wanted to include in the previous post but it wouldn't let me. Plenty of man-o-war at the beach yesterday but they were still letting people swim. Got some sun and much exercise. May go back Saturday. Saw one leatherback nest in the park. Not much else to report.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

They Might Be Chum

They could be fish food. They were expendable.
There were sharks in the water Thursday and Saturday, as well as man-o-war, along with people trying to swim. I was thinking about what the tag lines for a coming-attractions trailer for a movie about the beach would be, and those were the portents of doom that I was playing around with in my head on my walk.
These shots are manifestations of the same ice crystal refraction phenomenon that I've referred to in previous blogs; these pictures are all in chronological order. There was another picture that I wanted to post, but apparently five is the limit (grr).
I witnessed a few fishermen catch a few pompano, but again far too few for my tastes. I saw the remains of a brown pelican in between where the two shots I have posted are, so it looks like he did eat it. I'm also in the middle of a scathing set of e-mails that I've unleashed on the unsuspecting contest people; I'm currently waiting for the final response which will tell the tale.
Otherwise it's Easter Sunday and I decided to skip today at the beach; I simply felt I needed the rest more than the exercise. There's a nice breeze right now in my apartment but I'll be closing up the windows and turning on the air soon; most if not all of my neighbors don't share my tastes in music, movies or television, so I try to spare them as much as possible.
I was approached twice on my walk Saturday. The first time, it was the same bald guy in the morning who keeps trying to convert me to his religion. I blew him off, but he doesn't seem to take go to hell for an answer. In the afternoon, on my way back to my car, some fool advised me he had a quick question and then asked me how he could get baby blue OP shorts such as what I was wearing. When I began explaining that as far I knew, they didn't exist in the known universe, he interrupted me to specify that he wanted my particular pair. When I duly informed him that they were highly coveted, he backed off. Whether he was in fact a homosexual or straight trying to ascertain if I was or he simply didn't know what the word 'coveted' meant, I'm not sure because my gaydar didn't go off (for those interested in what gaydar could be, what it might entail and how it may be used, I suggest you visit the website of the true originator of the term: and tell her I sent you. She is seriously a scream, so I also recommend you peruse the entirety of her site. She is very talented and frequently funny with a point to make; the only reason she's not more widely distributed is because of prejudice--plain and simple. At the book fair in Miami in November, she had two strips of hers up in a comix exhibit that, fond fool that I am, I failed to take pictures of, because my camera does have a 'Documents' mode, but oh well. Reading her 'bitter girl' strip [which is not bitter at all, by the way] helped me understand the difference between actual lesbians and Carolyn and Brandy, who are simply two really attractive straight women without boyfriends [at least, initially] who just happen to have the hots for each other. But it's not only sex; they do have a relationship and they do care about each other). I might be expanding this post later, but currently Parmesan steak fries are calling my name from the kitchen, and as I've previously stipulated, their siren song is indeed music to my ears.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Everything but the Head

Have you ever wondered what a manatee's head would look like if it were decomposing in the ocean for some time? Well, wonder no more--here it is. This was up in Juno, south of the beach project, taken on my way back. On my way up, I saw two people, a guy and a girl, from the manatee place trying to drag the bloated carcass from the surf. I did not get a picture of them because they were Marine Biologists and did not want my suspect lay self hanging around while they did their Important Scientific Necrospy on the departed manatee. I knew something about the corpse didn't look quite correct, but it wasn't until I saw the head rolling around in the waves that I put two and two together.

Anyway, Tuesday and Wednesday were both beautiful beach days and I got lots of sun and exercise. I was notified on the contest--no deal, in a big way. I also heard back from the census people--I start the end of April. I also e-mailed FAU to see about getting certified to teach English and Economics in the state of Florida.

On my return, I saw the ice crystal refraction in the sky that you can see in the second picture. It migrated from cirrus stratus cloud to cloud, farther and farther towards the horizon, as the afternoon went on. I saw this last year, about this time in the spring. What struck me this time was that no one other than me noticed it--even when I took repeated pictures, not one person would even glance up from what he or she was doing to see what the fuss was all about. At the main beach, two young girls were lying reading books, pointed away from the phenomenon. I paused to ask them what they were reading and further inquired if either wanted to see something pretty, because I wanted at least one other person to see this. Both told me no, so I didn't share it with them. Moral of the story: There's just so much to miss if you're not attentive.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dawn's Early Light

This is the sight that greeted me Friday morning, just after seven a.m. (I don't know why the next shot won't enlarge when you left-click it, but it doesn't) The second picture is from Saturday morning (Free Plug Alert--by the way, in case anyone is interested, the camera immortalizing these extraordinary images is an Olympus Stylus Tough 8000--waterproof, freezing weather safe and shock-resistant to two meters. This is my second Olympus digital camera and I continue to be stunned by how wonderful the color is). The third demonstrates to a certain extent what I've been saying about that one sea wall--that it can be dangerous when the surf is high.
Anyway, the fourth and fifth photographs are from the beach restoration project up in Juno. These people are being fined thousands of American dollars a day because they were supposed to have been done by March 1st, the beginning of turtle nesting season (I have seen one group of four nests on the south end of Lost Tree Village from March fifth and another group north of there that is dated March eighteenth and that's it). However much the money is, it's not enough. The fourth picture shows how they are attempting to filter out the largest rocks and shells from the sand. The fifth picture tells the tale. I have seen tracks of some highly determined sea turtles over the years, but I cannot imagine how any turtle could scale a sheer cliff such as this--I can't do it and I'm a biped.
Enough of my soapbox. Otherwise the sky and the ocean were both beautiful again as we were blessed with two concurrent gorgeous days. No trace of the brown pelican so maybe I was wrong. Plenty of would-be pampered Persian princesses were out again, seeking their place in the sun and their very own cute rich guy to snag. One waved back at me, twice, from her veranda on the sands. Another said hello to me from her chaise, whom I responded to in kind. I also saw a couple out hiking in the afternoon who always wave to me who live there in the Dunes condos, just south of the park, the wife being more friendly and happy to see me than the husband, of course. At the liquor store on the way home, I flirted with two Ashleys who work there while securing some Froggy B vodka and some Schweppes tonic water for myself (another free uncompensated plug), the two girls side by side, one white and the other black, on adjacent check-outs, both pretty cute. Other than that, nada.
Still haven't heard back from the contest either. Our lawn got mowed Friday while I was at the beach and it looks pretty nice. Today is mostly overcast as we have another front coming through with more rain, so I'm resting my feet and my legs. Saturday I got there later than Friday and walked the same distance but finished fifteen minutes sooner, which doesn't make a whole hell of a lot of sense, but there you have it, sports fans. Tomorrow I'm hitting C&D (my favorite discount fruit and vegetable place--yet one more free and shameless endorsement) for more fresh strawberries and blueberries for lunch on my beach days and some potatoes for my patented Parmesan steak fries. Tuesday is supposed to be nice also, when I'm planning to be back in the sun. God is great, our beautiful blue world still spins and I'm feeling lucky. Life is good. It's amazing, but it is.