Mary Charles


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