My Dear Fellow Writers:

Membership in the Gulf Coast Writers Association requires annual dues of $50. Those dues allow us to pay rent for a place to meet and to cover honorariums for presenters. They allow us to participate in the Lee County Library Reading Festival, maintain our website, and sponsor a noteworthy writing contest with a discounted entry fee for Members. We must also carry liability insurance. We are a nonprofit. No member or officer receives compensation for our work. All dues go toward essentials.
Annual dues, which are due in January, cover the period Jan. 1 to Dec. 31. Dues paid in the last three months of the year are applied to the next calendar year. Dues paid January 1 through September 30 apply to the calendar year in which they are paid.
For example:
Writer A pays dues in October 2023 and is in good standing throughout 2024.
Writer B pays dues in August of 2023 and is covered through the remainder of 2023.

Unfortunately, a large part of our membership is behind on their dues. Part of this problem is confusion about when dues are due. Part is the association’s reluctance to invoice.
But we need to function, and we need dues to do that. The $50 is a small amount and the rewards of membership are high. Please go to and use Paypal to pay your dues or send a check made out to Gulf Coast Writers Association, Inc., P.O. Box 60771, Fort Myers, FL 33906. Or bring a check to the February meeting. If you are not sure you have paid, email to ask. David will let you know.

We all need to support our organization. Those who do not pay dues lose the privileges that come with membership: free attendance at meetings, participation in the Reading Festival, access to important website information, and many other opportunities.

Yours toward a more robust organization of writers helping writers,
Mary Charles, Acting President,
and the Executive Board


Revised January 8, 2024




Dear Gulf Coast Writers,

I am disinclined to make New Year resolutions because I always disappoint myself. But I’ve made one on behalf of our organization this year: to help us become more relevant and energetic and inviting.

To fulfill this resolution, I’ll need help from you. For us to succeed, we need to connect. 

As a first step toward connecting, we have a new program component. After our featured presenter, we’re going to break out into interest groups: one for those who want to start a critique group, another for those who want beta readers for their manuscripts, others for connecting with their preferred writing genre, one for helping GCWA thrive, or…. You get the idea. Come prepared to connect with like minds. 

At the circus, the “spinning plates” act makes my palms sweat. The performer balances a platter on a long pole, sets it in motion and hoists it into the air. Then another and another is kept aloft and spinning by the lone acrobat.

That’s been our dirty little secret at Gulf Coast Writers. Only two or three acrobats are keeping all the plates in the air. And plates are threatening to fall. Fatigued volunteer acrobats can bring the house down. 

So this year, more than ever, we need Gulf Coast Writers to be an interactive organization, to keep our plates in the air and make better use of our collective resources. This year, we’re looking for committees, not just individuals, so that no one person must do the entire job every month. Please say you’ll participate in one of these functions:

Zoom/projector/computer managers for our monthly meetings. Without people to man our audio-visual equipment, we won’t be able to see and hear our speakers, and our meetings will become dull affairs. Don’t be intimidated by the technology. It’s a quick learning process. Let’s divide up the job among several members.

Hospitality. This is a multi-layer job, and we’ll look for a committee of three or more. Greeters to let everyone know they’re welcome. Name tags for all. Sign-in management. Handouts. Snacks: water and nibbles. (Maybe even coffee!) Photographing members and speakers. And more.

Programs. Two members have already volunteered to develop activities for our monthly meetings. They would like more members to offer new ideas, new approaches, new subjects, new help.

Special Projects. This is an important category, enabling us to reach out beyond our membership to engage others. Our annual writing contest is an example. We need judges. And here’s another: the Reading Festival in early March needs feet on the ground.

Website. As previously reported, our website is undergoing redesign. When that is completed, we’ll need help keeping it organized, functional and current. Please step up if you have skills in that area. This is vital!

Communications. One of our members already volunteered to increase our exposure on social media including LinkedIn and X [formerly Twitter]. Who can help with Facebook and Meetup?

Storm Stories promoters. Many of you contributed to the success of our anthology of Hurricane Ian stories, published last September. Opportunities to sell the book continue to emerge. We need an inventive sales team to help advance the book’s exposure. 

Out-of-the-box thinkers. How to increase our media exposure, attract new members, create a more dynamic organization? Writers are idea people. Please help us with ideas for – and the execution of – new initiatives.

These are just a few ways in which we can work together to build Gulf Coast Writers into a dynamic and approachable resources for writers. I hope you’ll join me in this endeavor. Call or email me or sign up at the meeting on January 20.

One more bit of business: members need to pay their annual dues. If you’re not sure whether you have submitted your $50 fee, please see David Aiken at the January 20 meeting. Dues enable us to function. Please do your part.

I wish each of you a happy and productive 2024, and I hope to see you at our first meeting of the year, Saturday January 20. The featured speaker will be focusing on navigating the modern publishing landscape, discussing the pros and cons of traditional, self and assisted publishing. And those special interest breakouts will make this a meeting you won’t want to miss. Remember the one-time change of location:Peace Community Church, 17671 Pine Island Road, FMB

Mary Charles

Mary Charles

Dear GCWA Member,
This is my first letter to our Gulf Coast Writers Association as our new president. Irene Smith,
having served as president so energetically, has earned her emerita status. We are in Irene’s
debt for her tireless efforts on our behalf, especially in the difficult Covid years when we could
not meet in person. That we continue to exist is a testament to Irene’s tenacity.

I promise to stay connected, to foster a sense of community among writers, and to be open to
your wishes. Please do likewise: keep in touch, help us connect, and make your wishes known.

I want to hear from you. Here’s my contact info:; 718-848-4031.

A few items of business:

Item 1: We do not meet in December. Our next meeting will be Saturday January 20 at 10 AM
at Word of Life Church, 6111 South Pointe Blvd., Fort Myers. That meeting will be a webinar
with Friesen Press, a 100% employee-owned publishing house. The moderator will help us
understand the pluses and minuses of traditional versus self publishing as we try to get our
words into print. During that meeting we’ll also begin forming committees for vital functions of
our writers’ organization. Please plan to come. If you can’t make it in person, I urge you to
attend remotely via Zoom. More info will come in the “formal” January President’s Letter.

Item 2: Please pay your dues. January 1 is the official “dues date.” The $50 annual fee covers
rent of our meeting facility, development and maintenance of our website [soon to debut in its
new form], speaker honorarium, and other essentials of our organization. Pay your dues, either
by PayPal on our website, by check to Gulf Coast Writers (PO Box 60771, Fort Myers, FL 33906),
or at the January 2024 meeting.

Item 3: Please speak up, step up and sign up to help us keep our association lively and growing.
Let us know what you expect from our organization. And help us fulfill those expectations by
spearheading projects and raising your hand when help is solicited. Every GCWA position is
voluntary. There are no salaries or other compensation. A few are now doing all the jobs.
Burnout is a threat. Speak up. Step up. Initiate. We’ll be a better organization for it.

Meanwhile, I wish for you all the joys of this holiday season and a bright, productive beginning
to 2024.
Mary Charles