JOHN REHG

I have formed my very first friendship begun on line, which is shocking to my friends convinced that my natural aversion to humans can be overcome only by methods closely resembling the reintroduction protocol used on wildlife raised in captivity. Little pellets of food must be involved, and a tranquilizer a dart followed by locking on a big satellite bear-tracking collar, and excited whispers from the blind: “Look, Bev is being approached by another human and she’s not spooking! It’s working, team! Be free, little Bev! Be free!”

O ye of little faith, as I contacted leaders in the Florida Writers Association for help in spreading the word about the Anhinga workshops, I received rapid replies from everyone, including President Dan Griffith and Vice President Chrissy Jackson. They and their people define “graciousness.” In fact, we’re setting up a special space in the Hilton at the workshops for members to gather with their new friends. But I digress …

One of the offers of cooperation I received was from John Rehg, who heads up the St. Pete writers. When email became inefficient in answering his questions to me about the workshops and my questions to him about FWA and early career writers, we moved to a phone call. The phone call led to invitations. He’s coming to the Anhinga, and I’m going to teach for his group in St. Pete in November. And when good judgment gave way to whim, I took an evening off and drove down there to listen to their speaker in May. I wanted to learn more about writing mysteries (because I have two projects involving the genre and wanted a broader working vocabulary), and to get a feel for their members in advance of my own class.

Sometimes life is good. John Rehg greeted me wearing a tee shirt that said, “Florida Writers Association – Writers Helping Writers.” What a generous commitment. What a solid writer. What a wonderful man. Now friend and colleague. No dart or bear-tracking collar necessary.

He just had a short story accepted for publication and sent this. As you read, picture Bev proud of him! Keep your eye on John Rehg. He’s about to take off. And try to meet him at the Anhinga Writers’ Studio Summer Workshops. He’ll be the writer helping writers. Yes, indeed.

 

16 June 2009

 

I slaved, no, I loved a short story into existence after the announcement of a short story contest. My editors (I needed several!) worked tirelessly to hone it until it became magical. Too magical. I decided I wanted to shop it for money.

 

So I began the process again, this time taking the beginning of a story from a year ago, already too long by contest standards, and cutting and editing to fit the word limit. I fought to within 10 words, yo-yo-ing back and forth over and under and had mixed reviews, but mostly good. I submitted the story.

 

The main editor emailed me back saying she really liked the story and hoped it would be chosen (by whatever judging criteria they were using). Later she emailed me to complain of all the fluffy stories, which she had grown tired of reading, and wondered if any gritty ones would show up.

 

That got me to thinking. I had written several violent short stories several years ago. I dug, and found the one that looked the best. Once again back to the editing process. This one had already been edited once, so I reviewed it and made changes on my own. I threw it in the ring, more for fun than anything, and sat back, waiting for my first story to be chosen.

 

Ha! They chose my second story! The FWA (Florida Writers Association) has begun showcasing its members’ talents by compiling an annual anthology of short stories based on a particular theme. The first theme is about family, and I’m excited to see what other 59 or so stories have made the cut. At least 160 were entered.

 

I have to thank Merry, Diane, Bev and my critique groups for helping me hone my craft, love the revision process, and believe in my ability. I went from Science Fiction, to Humor, to Thriller. Now I’ve got to come up with some pseudonyms for the different genres!

 

John Rehg