Henry (Hank) Heitmann

WORD SONG Interview with Henry Heitmann  (in  memorium)

by Gary McLouth, Associate Editor

March 4, 2016

Henry Heitmann, author of Pocket Full of Tales; More Tales and Bits and Pieces; Looking Back On Life, all published by Monarch Books, Florida.

Henry (Hank) Heitmann has garnered a number of writing contest awards during the last few years from The GCWA of Mississippi, The Florida Weekly (poetry), Dreamquest Summer 2015, and the ABC 2016 Anthology of Florida Writers and Poets Competition.

Hank and I met for talk, breakfast and coffee at Marko’s Diner on San Carlos Blvd., recently. I was pleasantly surprised by Hank’s South Bronx accent, a near total contrast to the quiet voice in his poetic reflections and his poignant “Tales.” His educational experiences with Special Ed. students and teachers provided Hank with all kinds of stories. He admits that he’s been telling the stories for years, but he decided as soon as he retired that he would start writing them.

I stir more milk into my coffee and ask him how it’s going. Hank’s big brown eyes roll up at me.

“What I’ve heard and seen is what I try to get down on paper. The stories have been working my head for a long time, and retirement seemed like the time to write them out so I could share them. My wife encourages me, luckily, without her, I don’t think there’d be many stories written down.”

“I went to a GCWA meeting about five years ago and just randomly sat down next to Ken Feeley. Over a few meetings, he became my mentor. I also got valuable feedback from Ruben and Tim. I met other writers and learned about publishing and writing from them. What ended up happening… GCWA gave me the self-image of a writer, it put me in the midst of other writers, made me feel at home.”

Hank talked about his special relationship with books that began in his grandmother’s house back there in the Bronx. While other kids saved nickels for  Bazooka bubble-gum, Hank saved up to buy books. What about books, now, I ask.

“I like to hold a book in my hand. Even with all of the Kindles and Nooks and variety of ‘pads’ and screens, there’s still room for paper. Keep in mind, books are less harmful to the environment.”

Really? I thought paper books cost trees. What do you mean, exactly?

“I’d rather spend money on books than money on weapons of war,” Hank says, and I don’t have a rejoinder beyond a grunt.

Since Hank has mentioned money, I wonder aloud how he’s doing with the writing-publishing-marketing cycle. He gives me the slow, sad look I’ve seen on the faces of many writers who thought the work of writing was the be-all-and-end-all, the brass ring at their fingertips. “Marketing,” his voice trails off. Hank has worked diligently to complete all of his beginnings. Three books have pretty much left his cupboard of drafts, bare.

“I want to write a novel,” he says, “got one started called Out of Nonna’s Kitchen, It’s a sort of mystery-cookbook story.” His eyes find mine to see if I get it. I’m hoping I don’t squint a doubting glance. I know how that feels, and he does too, as he explains the plot to me, which I promise not to reveal to anyone else.

Before we go, Hank signs three books for me, and since I’ve already read a number of his stories, I’m eagerly heading home for a “Hanksta” fix. A sample: Still Dreaming – “Sitting on the dock/In the early morning sun/The tiny ripples on the lake/Beating out a gentle rhythm/A part of nature’s breathing/And giving life to ancient daydreams.”

The breakfast at Marko’s is what gives Diners their beloved place in American lore. Hank has hardly touched his abundant serving of eggs, hash browns, sausage and gravy. “There’s a sense of permanence in print,” he says, “I can pass it along to my family and friends. A new found passion in life is a good thing.”

Artis Henderson

Artis Hendersonartis-henderson

I have been a proud Gulf Coast Writers Association Member for almost a decade. Between the monthly meetings, my GCWA critique group (go Hurricanes!), and the writing friends I’ve made, it’s hard to imagine my life without Gulf Coast Writers.

My first book, Unremarried Widow, a memoir about my husband’s death in Iraq, was published by Simon & Schuster last spring. It was featured in the New York Times, Elle and People magazines, and on NPR, and it appeared on more than ten Best of the Year lists.

That book began here, with Gulf Coast Writers. I brought early pages to my monthly critique group, and their helpful advice guided me through the creative process. When they suggested that I enter GCWA’s writing contest, I felt more confident about my work. Writing a book can be a lonely business, and I was glad to have the support and encouragement of other writers.

Today, I’m working on fiction. Writing a novel feels very different than writing a memoir, and I’m always surprised at the challenge of it. I also teach classes – including one at the Alliance for the Arts in January – and do private book coaching and manuscript editing. I love teaching, and I’m constantly humbled and inspired by my students.

Denise Holbrook

DeniseHDenise Holbrook began her writing career as a photojournalist and editor for a weekly newspaper chain in the Lake Okeechobee region of south central Florida, covering everything from rodeos to drug plane crashes. When her family moved to the Fort Myers area, her writing focused mostly on real estate marketing, political campaigns, and technical presentations.

Her editorial columns and character profiles were regular features in the Lehigh Acres Citizen newspaper and Gulf Coast Woman Magazine, running the gamut from political commentary to the ups and downs of raising a family.

More recently, she won the first place award for fiction in the 2012 Gulf Coast Writers Association Writing Contest.

She is a staff editor for Jacobs Writing Consultants, and served as the program chair and vice president of the Gulf Coast Writers Association for 2013 and 2014.

She enjoys writing a devotion blog for NASCAR fans. Her children’s book, Doors, is available through Amazon and other online booksellers.
Website: DeniseHolbrook.com

Denise Holbrooks’ books

Connie Hope

Connie-PhotoI have always wanted to write. When I was 10 years old, I won first prize in a Patriotism contest at the Children of the American Revolution (CAR). I said to my mother, “I want to be a writer.” My mother said, “Find a profession that will pay some money.” I wrote articles for the school newspaper, the local newspaper and a few magazines, but it wasn’t until I came to Florida eight years ago that I decided it was now my time to write.

I spent a year and a half creating my first cookbook, “In Addition…to the Entrée”. It’s all about the important side dishes which compliments the main dishes. It is a personal guide to help the busy working person as well as anyone to decide what to serve as a side dish for the meal. The book has one hundred and sixty recipes, over two hundred color photos, and is divided into fourteen sections with an extensive index.

Then I started working on my novel, “The Bonnie Neuk Tea Room: Friends and Uninvited Guests (Ghosts)”. Victoria Storm is facing a divorce and wants to do something different with the rest of her life. But what? She receives a cell call from someone who suggests she opens a tea room like her grandmother in her hometown of Metuchen, New Jersey. And who was that who called?

She buys an old house, renovates it into a tea room and has lots of encounters with uninvited guests or are they ghosts?

Please check out www.cookingbyconnie.com and thebonnieneuktearoom.com for more information, ordering, pricing, and photos. The cookbook is $15.00 and the novel is $10.00, plus postage if you want it mailed.

You can also purchase The Bonnie Neuk through www.Createspace.com/4775503 or on Amazon.com Or either book from the back of my car.

Visit her website at: www.thebonnieneuktearoom.com

Connie Hope’s books

Diana Howard

IMG_0260I am a published children’s author and poet. My writing career took off 25 years ago with the encouragement of friends and family. Over the years I have attended workshops in Iowa City (home of the Iowa Writers Workshop), California, Omaha Nebraska, and Florida. I love honing my craft of poetry with revision being my favorite activity. I have been published online and also in South Dakota publications. My children’s book APPLESAUCE was published in 2011. I belong to a poetry group in Ft. Myers where I have the opportunity to listen to amazing poets and also share whatever I am working on.

Visit her website at: http://thecottonwoodtree.com

Diana Howard’s books

Tim Jacobs

CIP-7-ZF-8518-56360-1-012Timothy Jacobs was born and raised on the shoreline of Connecticut. He lived in California twice, traveled across the country three times, and lived in Europe for a couple of years before settling in Fort Myers. He is the CEO of Jacobs Writing Consultants, LLC, which offers writers such services as editing, proofreading, and ghostwriting. Jacobs is a regular contributor to the Santiva Chronicle, the Island Sand Paper, and is the feature writer Unique Harbour Living. He has written 6 books and has over 400 articles published. You can check out his blog on Lee County History at www.lchistoryblog.blogspot.com. One of his latest ventures is he is co-owner of the Gulf Coast Bookstore with fellow writer/illustrator Patti Brassard Jefferson, located in the Butterfly Estates. It’s toted as being the first bookstore ever tailored to self published authors, and has 53 local author’s titles for sale. Jacobs has been a member of the Gulf Coast Writers Associations for 11 years, and served as president from 2012-2013, he currently serves on the Corporate Board.

Visit his website at: http://jacobswc.com

Tim Jacobs’ books

Tim Jacobs

Q: Tell us your story…

CIP-7-ZF-8518-56360-1-012Tim Jacobs:

I’ve been a member of the Gulf Coast Writers Association since 2004. When I first joined, the membership was still under 50 members and a “large” meeting was about 25 people showing up. The organization has come a long way over the past eleven years of my membership. I’m grateful that I got to be the speaker twice during that time and I have also given back by serving on the nominating committee for three years, and also held the positions of Program Director, Vice President, and President on the Executive Committee, and currently serve on the Corporate Board.
Each meeting I’ve always walked away with something, whether it be a new contact, a new lead, another story idea, or simply left the meeting with the inspiration to go home and write some more. I’ve made some great friendships and even some business partners.
What I truly love about GCWA is that when you’re at a meeting, everyone is on the same level. Everyone is there to help a fellow writer get to that next level in their writing. It’s a joy to be a part of the enthusiasm of other writers when they get published or win an award for their work.
Also the speaking guests and workshops over the years have been wonderful. Regardless of what kind of writing you do, or what stage you’re at, you get something from each speaker. The same goes for the Special Events that take place throughout the year.
With this group, the education of writing is a fun process!

Marty Leake

MartyLeake1After 27 years in law enforcement I have down sized from the large home, the kids are on their own, the dog died and I have survived to live among my fellow retirees. So, after years of detailed planning and scheduling of life events, I’ve embarked upon a journey as an aspiring writing, blogger, and photographer of my nomadic outdoor adventures and discoveries. I post daily blogs & photographic details of my new retirement lifestyle for my children and hopefully provide them something to strive for in their’er professional lives. I’m currently comprising short stories of fiction for the world to read.

My current lifestyle is like my childhood, when I would play in my backyard all day, stopping only to eat and occasionally go to the bathroom. Now, I live a similar lifestyle, except I take my lunch and I just have to search for a bathroom, except when I’m at the beach.

Visit his website at: http://007pandas.com

Patricia Sheehy

Pat Sheehy

Patricia Sheehy

Patricia Herchuk Sheehy is the author of four books, including the Amazon best selling novels, Field of Destinyand Veil of Illusion. She has published close to 100 essays and articles and has earned several awards, including three from the prestigious Writer’s Digest contest, which receives more than 13,000 entries annually. She is a self-employed Working Writer, providing copy-writing and communications support to corporate, non-profit and small business entities. She facilitates workshops and coaches emerging writers. A Connecticut native, Patricia holds a Master’s Degree from Wesleyan University. She and her husband have recently relocated to Estero, Florida.

Visit her website: www.patsheehy.com

Patricia Sheehy’s books



Geneva Kelly

genevaGeneva grew up in NJ but has been living in Florida for 10 years.  She has a long history of writing and performing both her songs and poetry.  Both of these, reflect life through her eyes.  These days you can find her working on a column, or some sort of light hearted story.  And soon, she will complete a new children’s book series inspired by her son.

Now that Geneva has decided to plant her feet in the sand, she’s hoping to make publishing her next reality.