Book Coach and editor: Claudia Volkman takes a question at GCWA’s October meeting. Photo by Jeff Bogart

If you missed our October meeting you missed one of the most interactive meetings I can recall. Claudia Volkman captivated the audience. She convinced us that everyone needs an editor, no ifs ands or buts.

There are different types of editing: developmental editing, line editing, proofreading, copy editing and book coaching. Different editors are stronger in one area than another. She shared the trajectory of her career, a circuitous path to her own business.


New Member: April Lynne James talks about her book. Photo by Jeff Bogart

April James, a new member, brought her recently published book, The Tenth Muse, about Maria Antonia, an early 18th Century harpsichordist, composer, and patron of the arts. 

April herself is a stunning polymath, (a person of great and varied learning) a soprano, with a Ph.D. from Harvard in Philosophy, who laughingly calls herself the Ph.Diva. April has not only written several books but has her own opera company. She’s multi-lingual: English, Italian and German. And lots of fun.


Writing Contest

There is no time to change anything for the 2024 Writing Contest, but we will collect the entries in the same way that we have in the past.  The writing contest will be coming up soon and interested judges should email Claudia Geagan at  We always need capable judges.

Storm Stories Sales and Marketing Expand

Our Storm Stories. anthology continues to sell well on During the month of October, we sold 71 units, including 7 hard cover and several e-books. Royalties earned during the month totaled $211.33. This is in addition to books sold at meetings, at the Marco Island Farmer’s Market, the Alliance Gift shop, and other retailers. 

Total royalties year-to-date equal $2,238.86 (August through October) representing 754 units sold (paperback, Hardcover, and e-book.)  We sold about 430 copies in person.

Storm Stories retail outlets grew in November with the addition of two stores in South Fort Myers—Barnes & Noble and McIntosh Books, which is located in the Bell Tower Mall.  McIntosh books may not be listed in the mall directory and so may be hard to find.  It is located in the mall near Burntwood Tavern and Omaha Steaks.

L-R Patti Walsh and Robert M. Macomber at Barnes & Noble on November 4. Storm Stories – Hurricane Ian is now on sale at the store.

Barnes & Noble: Our book’s presence at Barnes & Noble began on November 4 when we manned a table at the center of the store. Representing us were GCWA members Patti Walsh and Charley Valera, both of whom contributed stories to the book, as well as noted maritime author Robert N. Macomber, who contributed the book’s foreword.  Both Patti and Charley also had the opportunity to sell their own books, Ghost Girl and My Father’s War.

Meanwhile, November also sees the start of the sale of Storm Stories by our Marco Island unit at its table at the weekly Marco Island Farmer’s Market.  Incidentally, there is some space for additional authors interested in selling their books at the Marco table.

Encore!  Storm Stories will also be on display this Saturday at Unity Church of Fort Myers, when members of the Tamiami Tale Tellers give a repeat performance of their reading of short passages from each chapter in the book.  Presented by GCWA, the performance begins at 2 p.m.  It is free, with open seating.  You can find out more about it by looking at the Fort Myers News-Press online calendar, which carries a listing for it. 

All of this visibility for Storm Stories is occurring just in time for gift-giving during the holiday season.  So, why not tell your friends about our book if you have not already done so.

November’s Speaker to Focus on Writer Web Sites

In November, Brian Devitt will talk using visual aids about Creating and Improving Your Web Site.  Brian is a computer scientist, an information technology consultant, and a college instructor.  As a member of GCWA’s Executive Committee, he is helping us upgrade our organization’s website.  His discussion should be very interesting.

December:  In keeping with tradition, there will be no meeting in December.

NOTICE:  Many of you haven’t renewed your dues for 2024. PLEASE do so now. Many upgrades and changes are taking place, and you can’t afford to miss any of them.

For 2024

In January we’ll ring in the New Year with a presenter discussing her publishing company and the publishing industry in general. More to Come.

The Fort Myers book festival is coming up in March and members can reserve their spots. The cost is $20.00 for half a day. Details to follow.  

Seeking New Officers

Several of our officers are either retiring or changing positions and we need to find replacements for these individuals. Details will be provided at this month’s meeting.

Member News:  Patti Walsh’s novel, Ghost Girl, recently won an award for best children fiction, given by the American Book Fest 2023: What if an alienated 12-year-old girl could reinvent her family and then lead it into the future?  Congratulations, Patti.

Our November monthly member meeting will be held on Saturday, Nov. 18, at the usual time and location, from 10:00 until noon. If you want to register to attend by Zoom use this link

 Location:  Map

 Word of Life church

6111 South Pointe Blvd.           

Fort Myers, FL 33900

Irene Smith President

October Meeting

We all gathered together for our October meeting on Saturday the 18th. It was well attended and a great opportunity for members to meet and enjoy each other’s company.

GCWA monthly meeting attendees listening to Claudia Volkman. Among them are Dakota Windancer, Ed Donlin, Claudia Geagan, John Siko, Christie Zarria. Photo by Jeff Bogart


We were blessed to have two outstanding speakers, Claudia Volkman and April Lynne James.

Claudia talked about her experiences in becoming a professional editor and presented the different types of editing recommended for every published work including Developmental Editing, Evaluation Editing, Line Editing, Content Editing, Copyediting and Proofreading.

April Lynne James took us on a melodic journey that showcased her talents as a musician and renowned authority on opera music composed by women. Like an orchestra conductor, she carried us through all the exciting movements of the symphony of her latest work, The Tenth Muse: How Maria Antonia Advanced the Pastoral Opera.

Other Business

As always new members are encouraged to introduce themselves to the group and existing members are invited to tell us about any important events or milestones in their writing endeavors.

Below are some more pictures from the meeting.

More members, more projects, more outstanding speakers: The year 2023 has so far been a year of rebuilding and renewed activity for Gulf Coast Writers.  September was no exception, and October promises more of the same.

Book Launch: Five Stars!

At the "Storm Stories" book launch" (L-R) Leoma Lovegrove, Christie Zarria, Robert N. Macomber, Jeanne Meeks, Mary Charles
At the “Storm Stories” book launch” (L-R) Leoma Lovegrove, Christie Zarria, Robert N. Macomber, Jeanne Meeks, Mary Charles

Last month saw the start of deliveries of Storm Stories-Hurricane Ian: Stories of Survival, Heroism and Humanity.  Our new book has received five stars from Amazon, based on 22 ratings.  It even at one point hit “best-seller” status

On Sept. 9 we held our book launch for Storm Stories at the

Audience applause for the Tamiami Tale Tellers readings and for the story selections at the book launch for GCWA’s new anthology ‘Storm Stories – Hurricane Ian.’

for the Arts in Fort Myers.  The ev ent was sold out, and we sold out of all the books we had on hand as w ell.  The evening began with an informal reception for the book’s 79 writers with family, friends and the general public, followed by readings by the Tamiami Tale Tellers of short selections from each of the 83 stories in the book.  Emcee for the event was NBC2 TV’s Sean Martinelli

Storm Stories continues to be the subject of much media attention.  Stories about it have run in the Fort Myers News-PressCape Coral BreezePine Island Eagle, and Naples Daily 

News, to name just a few.  NBC2 TV carried a feature, and ABC7 TV aired a six-minute interview a bout the book with Vice President Mary Charles. 

Mary Charles and ABC7 TV host Greg Parker prepare for live interview about GCWA’s new book Storm Stories – Hurricane Ian.

You can, incidentally, buy the hard-cover, soft-cover and e-editions of the book on at   The book is on sale at local retail outlets, including the Alliance for the Arts gift shop and Leoma Lovegrove’s Art Gallery.  You can find it at Copperfish in Punta Gorda and Annette’s Book Nook on Fort Myers Beach, as well.  Paid-up members may purchase Storm Stories directly from GCWA at 30% off Amazon prices.  Looking for holiday gifts to give?  Storm Stories is just the thing

Hats off to our hardworking Anthology Project committee for an outstanding job!

Our Members Read From Their Works

Our September meeting focused on readings by members from their works.  There was a wide range of writing from poetry to science fiction and nonfiction. You can see them in action below thanks to photos taken by Jeff Bogart.

Looking Ahead

Claudia Volkman

October’s meeting on the 21st features veteran editor and GCWA member Claudia Volkman.  She’ll cover the importance of writers’ having an editor for their work.  Volkman has more than thirty-five years of experience in line editing and typesetting.  As owner of Creative Editorial Solutions in North Fort Myers, she assists publishers, authors, entrepreneurs, and speakers with their editorial needs

“I’ll describe the different types of editing,” says Volkman, adding, “It’s important to determine the type of editing YOU need!”

In November, Brian Devitt will talk using visual aids about Creating and Improving Your Web Site.  Brian is a computer scientist, an information technology consultant and a college instructor.  As a member of GCWA’s Executive Committee, he is helping us upgrade our organization’s website.  His discussion should be very interesting.

In December:  Keeping with tradition, there will be no meeting in December.  

In January 2024:  We’ll ring in the New Year with a presenter discussing her publishing company and the publishing industry in general.  More to come!

In February:  Our speaker will be Arielle Haughee, a seven-time winner of Florida Writers Association’s prestigious Royal Palm Literary Awards (RPLA).  An author, editor, speaker, and publisher, Arielle will focus on self-publishing.  This is a return visit from Arielle.  In March 2023 she provided a three-step way to make your writing as efficient as possible. What will she offer in February? You will have to wait and see.

Renewing Our Website:  Take the Survey

Did you get it?  Did you respond?  We recently emailed all our members a 10-question survey to find what they like, dislike and would like to see incorporated into the new design for our website– .

We expect that some sections will be combined with others, that new sections will be added and that there will be a new look and feel.  All to better serve the needs of you, our members.  

So, if you haven’t already done so, please take the time to respond with your comments and recommendations. Your opinion matters.  If you’ve deleted or misplaced the email, you can find it at this link:  NEW GCWA WEBSITE SURVEY .


Webmaster.  Who will be our new webmaster?  We are still looking.  We need someone who can manage the site, add and remove material, and interact with our members about it.  The new webmaster will join our Executive Committee.  Will it be someone you know?  Will it be you?  Let us hear from you.

Treasurer:  We also have begun looking for a new Treasurer to take on the role that Mike Cole has so admirably filled.  This is a volunteer position, and the treasurer is also an officer on the executive committee. A financial background is helpful but not necessary. Good attention to detail and a commitment to maintaining accurate financial records are a must.

Understudies:  We are in addition looking for deputies to act as seconds to every officer on the Executive Committee.  They’ll enable us to expand our activities.  They’ll be understudies to Committee members currently handling Membership, Communications, Special Projects, Programming, Finance, and Social Media.  They’ll not only become knowledgeable about our organization, they’ll be able to step in to cover for existing Executive Committee members should the need arise.   See Jeff Bogart for additional information.  He’s reachable at

New Logo:  Just in case you haven’t noticed, your organization has a new logo and letterhead.  

It was designed by Brian Devitt, who patiently encouraged and accepted suggestions for change.  We hope you like it.  

This Saturday

If you haven’t already done so, add this month’s meeting date to your calendar:  Saturday, October 21. The meeting begins at 10:00 a.m. and runs to noon.  Arrive early, catch up with longtime friends . . . and get ready to make new ones! 

If you can’t come in person, you can still join us via Zoom by clicking on  Fill out the registration form.  Then click at the bottom of the form to receive an email with the meeting’s access code and password.

Here’s the location to attend in person: 

 Word of Life church

6111 South Pointe Blvd.           

Fort Myers, FL 33900

Irene Smith President