Storm Stories Press Release

The ‘Storm Stories – Hurricane Ian’ continues to get attention in the local press. See a recent release from the Pine Island Eagle, below:

Gulf Coast Writers Association set to publish ‘Storm Stories — Hurricane Ian’

A collaborative effort to tell “Stories of Survival, Heroism and Humanity” has come together in “Storm Stories–Hurricane Ian.”

With the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Ian making landfall in Southwest Florida approaching, the Gulf Coast Writers Association, in partnership with the Alliance for the Arts, will release a commemorative book complied from 83 submissions, including poetry and long narratives.

The book’s cover art was done by renowned artist Leoma Lovegrove, who lost both her home and gallery in Matlacha to Ian. The foreword was written by award-winning novelist Robert Macomber, who was among the evacuees from Pine Island.

“In this collection of stories, you will read of that storm’s profound effects on the people and places of this coast, told by those who endured it,” Macomber said. “I am proud to be part of this literary endeavor, for the heart of it is a powerful, vivid story about the better angels of human nature, which emerge when least expected and most needed.”

Lovegrove said working on the project was cathartic.

“After the Ian wave hit, our home on Matlacha was a total loss,” she said. “Part of the house washed out to sea, so all of our personal belongings now reside in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Taking on this art project was very personal.

“When Hurricanes Ian hit, I eased my stress by painting up a storm, and Ian about knocked the wind and paint brush right out of me. I did this project because my paintings tell my story the best. I offered the art before they encouraged me to write my story. I struggled through the writing. It was hard to express myself with words. It’s much easier to paint,” Lovegrove said.

GCWA secretary and project leader Jeanne Meeks describes the project as a labor of love.

It began at post-Ian meeting after the executive committee decided there were enough stories to gather and compile an entire book.

With four acting editors and the Alliance for the Arts partnership, the book received the 83 narratives.

“Our whole purpose was to give people a voice — to get off their chests, the effects of having been through the storm, whether it was the flooding or the aftermath — whatever they went through,” Meeks said.

The book runs the gamut, from submissions from those who took cover from the storm in their attic to those who experienced insurance issues post storm.

Although most stories in the book are from novice writers, some are published authors. The editorial process was performed by members of the GCWA in an effort to clean up any mistakes, without losing the original voice and tone conveyed by the writers, Meeks said.

As one of the four editors, Meeks admits there are several stories that she found particularly poignant, including a story about a man who stepped outside his Bonita Beach condo and was swept away by the storm surge and knocked into nearby mangroves, where he had to hang on for several hours.

“There are several like that — it just breaks your heart — where they didn’t have enough money to replace things — they’re just relying on neighbors and friends,” Meeks said.

Meeks went on to note Macomber’s forward is quite interesting, as he talks about being evacuated from Pine Island, becoming a refugee himself.

Another storyteller acted quickly by going out immediately to shovel mud out of the homes of others and help to replace their rooftops, she said.

“A couple of months later, he was still helping a family get a car and get a place — who were displaced by the storm. He solicited the help from his community up in Ohio, to sponsor this family and make sure they had what they needed — because they’re hard-working people, who just had bad luck. The disaster hit everybody from very poor to rich people and it’s no less devastating,” Meeks said.

Although she didn’t take an exact count of how many writers in the book are from the GCWA, Meeks approximated that quite a few are current members.

“Some people dropped off stories to the Alliance and some only did it over the telephone — somehow recording their voices for the stories. So, that’s a different experience — taking somebody’s voice and transcribing it into a story,” Meeks said.

The 400 to 500 hours spent passing out flyers and stopping people to ask for stories on Hurricane Ian paid off, generating good participation in the group’s first book project.

Read the entire article from the Pine Island Eagle.

Reserve your Storm Stories book from Amazon.

GCWA 2023 Writing Contest

GCWA 2023 Writing Contest

The deadline has been extended!!!

Please submit your work before the new deadline of 5/31/23

Best Writing Contests of 2022, recommended by Reedsy

Deadline: 11:59pm on May 31, 2023

Writing Contest is open to GCWA members and the public — adults 18 and over, youth 11 to 17.  Winners will be announced at the GCWA meeting in June 2023.

 


Documentation for 2023 Contest (adults 18 and over)

Writing Contest Announcement 2023_LTD

WritingContest Guidelines 2023_LTD

Online Submission Form

Documentation for 2023 Youth Writing Contest (age 11 through 17)

Youth Writing Contest Announcement 2023_LTD

Youth Writing Contest Guidelines 2023_LTD

Online Submission Form


If you have questions please email specialprojects@gulfwriters.org


Sponsor or Donate to keep this contest Free for Youth entrants. Contact specialprojects@gulfwriters.org


All submissions must include full payment made by check to GCWA.
DO NOT MAIL CASH. The Check should be for your entries only and not for other monies owed to GCWA. You can also pay below with PayPal.

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President’s Letter for October

To all of our members and visitors:

First and foremost, it is our profound hope that all of you are safe in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.  Due to the storm, we were obliged to cancel our meeting for Saturday, October 15, 2022. We truly apologize for not contacting you sooner, but without power or internet, there was no way to inform everyone of the cancellation.  Some are still experiencing limited to no internet service.

Many are exhausted, but are continuing to work on cleaning up debris and replacing damaged items. All of our officers are safe; but they have unfortunately,suffered some form of damage.  Many suffered heartbreaking losses that were painfully incomprehensible.  However, on a positive note, we still have our meeting venue.  The Word of Life Church sustained minimal damage, so when we are ready to resume our monthly meetings, we can continue to have them in a safe and comfortable venue.

In spite of the horror we have experienced, Governor Ron DeSantis has done an awesome job collaborating with and bringing in outside assistance and resources to get our area back up and running as quickly as possible.  Initially, all odds seemed against us.  False rumors spread that it would take months before we had sufficient water and power. If this was meant to defeat us, it definitely did not happen!

One of the greatest and most inspiring sights, for me, was the morning the storm finally died.  In my neighborhood, everyone was outside with their chain saws and hatchets helping each other clear the fallen trees and stacking them for easy pickup. Neighbors, whom I usually only exchanged a few words, were eager to hold full conversation to ensure all were okay. We now share a common bond all due to Hurricane Ian.

We were all negatively affected by Ian; however, instead of concentrating on the horror stories, my request is that we focus on the Hallelujah stories. I believe many of us have themour GCWA family does. If you would like to share your Good News with us, please do so by sending your Miracle story to:  president@gulfwriters.org.  We will read and publish as many of them as possible.

Currently, we do not plan to hold the October and November 2022 monthly meetings because many people are still very unsettled, and attendance would certainly be affected.  If by any chance the situation changes, we will certainly let you know.  Please continue to check the website for updates at www.gulfwriters.org and stay tuned for November’s newsletter posted next month.  The newsletter will offer updates about upcoming GCWA meetings and events.

May God bless and protect all of you until we meet again.

Irene Smith, President

Gulf Coast Writers Association