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Stories of Home: Neighborhood Writing Circles

by Darlyn Finch Kuhn on September 21, 2017


Stories from Home


Here’s a post from the Facebook page of Women Writing for a Change, Jacksonville:

“Please join Women Writing for a Change, Jacksonville for a new program in collaboration with Riverside Avondale Preservation: Stories of Home: Neighborhood Writing Circles.

Every house tells a story, but historic homes and historic communities have a long history of stories to choose from. What’s the story of your home? What do you know about it’s place in the community? What stories have occurred within your home or in your neighborhood that we might enjoy hearing about? What makes your home unique and special? Please tell us!

We write these stories not only for ourselves and our families, but also for the community at large. The stories of our historic homes and neighborhoods are rich and the meaning of home is deep. Please come and share your story.

You do not have to be a professional writer to participate. All levels of writers are welcome. You can expect an easy, guided process to help you tell your story and share it with your friends and neighbors if you choose.

Historic homes belong not just to ourselves, but are part of the fabric of the community. Let’s begin documenting our stories of home in Riverside/Avondale and enrich everyone’s lives.


Date: Saturday, Oct. 21
Time: 10-11:30 (arrive 9:30-9:45 to register)
Cost: Free
Location: 2623 Herschel Street
Register: See Meetup Link in this event page!

Please contact RAP if you have any questions at 904-389-2449 or We look forward to seeing you soon!”

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Evening of Estrogen in Mt. Dora

by Darlyn Finch Kuhn on September 21, 2017

Evening of Estrogen


Your Scribbler gives An Evening of Estrogen six (out of five) stars. Click on the photo to enlarge it for details.

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Scribbles is in Jacksonville, too!

by Darlyn Finch Kuhn on September 20, 2017

scribbles ink and feather


Pinch me! In a couple of months, Scribbles will celebrate its 15th anniversary. Where did the time go? One minute I was telling nine friends the details of Homer Hickam’s 2002 visit to Winter with the Writers at Rollins College in Winter Park, near Orlando, and the next Brad Kuhn and I are getting to know our (new to him) hometown (to me) of Jacksonville in 2017.  Now that we’re here, we want to add our North Florida friends, old and new, to the many Central Floridians who enjoy hearing about books, writers, art, music, and theater happenings. Keep the info coming, Central Florida. And let us know what’s going on in this neck of the woods, Jacksonville.

Fill us in and bring us up to date on who is doing what in the Jacksonville arts scene. Having a book published? Giving a reading? An art show? Theater, music, dance? We specialize in putting butts in seats, but we can’t spread the news unless you submit it to us.  Sign up for the free Scribbles e-newsletter, and share the link with your friends. We promise to never charge a fee to Scribble your event, and to never sell the list.  This is our way of giving back to our “tribe,” the creatives who have enriched our lives.

If you sign up for the newsletter and send us your website, we’ll post it under Notable Scribblers on our website.  If you have a resource for writers like a bookstore or workshop, etc., we’ll post that, too.

Join the fun!




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Irma and the Shantyboat

by Darlyn Finch Kuhn on September 20, 2017

Shantyboat and Lynn Skapyak Harlin

Those of you who know your Scribbler, or who’ve read my novel, Sewing Holes, know that it’s based loosely on my childhood in Jacksonville during the Vietnam War.  On May 1st I returned “home” to Jacksonville to help care for my dying mother in our little house on Trout River (called Bass River in the book.) Mama died in mid-June, and just as I started to stick my head out the door in September to try to connect with my writing “tribe” in North Florida, hurricane Irma came along and gob-smacked one of its most-beloved institutions – Lynn Skapyak Harlin and her Shantyboat.

That’s Lynn in the photo with the magical houseboat that was tied up at Seafarer’s Marina on Trout River by the Main Street Bridge, until Irma’s fury left nothing behind but its splintered deck. What makes this more than another sad tale of someone’s leisure “toy” getting smashed by Mother Nature’s fury is that Shantyboat was a place where writers gathered to learn, write, share, and improve their work. The workshops held there were Lynn’s livelihood and her passion.

I know we’re all shell-shocked and weary of hearing about natural disaster-induced troubles and pleas for financial help for the victims. But yes, I’m going to ask you to consider helping Lynn and Jim Harlin rebuild or replace Shantyboat so that future writers can experience the kind of help that turns first drafts into polished work for our reading pleasure.

Watch the First Coast News video about Shantyboat, and read their report below. Then help if you can, by donating at this GoFundMe page.

Thank you!

Darlyn Finch Kuhn

Here is the text from First Coast News:

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. —  An old shantyboat sat at the end of the dock at Seafarers Marina on Trout River Drive for 16 years. It had weathered strong waves, winds and dismayed looks from visitors over the years. Described as down right ugly by its owners, Shantyboat was admired by the hundreds of writers who dared to hop aboard and learn from a teacher with a sharp tongue and quick wit.

“I smoke cigarettes, I swear, I’m obnoxious,” said Lynn Skapyak Harlin. “There I could be whoever I am. And if they didn’t like it they could leave.”

Shantyboat was a place to teach lessons learned in her lifetime, more than seven decades. It’s where she held classes for aspiring writers. Harlin and her husband Jim, purchased the boat in Georgia in 1995. But with Hurricane Irma came pounding waves that ripped apart docks and sunk boats that were in some cases people homes, for Harlin it was her dream.

“That’s all that’s left,” said Jim Harlin. He shook his head while pointing to pieces of wood barely intact. “That’s the front deck. So we were afraid that it had sunk right there but several people saw it going away.”

There’s a large makeshift sign on display at the beginning of the broken down dock that reads: “Boat owners only. No visitors, no guests, no sightseers.” The sights that remain following Irma are not appealing. There’s caution tape tied from one loose post to another and beyond the warnings are battered boats, some ripped in half.

“People have lost everything and we’re whining over this ratty little floating shack,” said Jim Harlin. “But we love it. This boat over here that sank that was a man’s home and it’s gone. A lot of them have no other place to go. They have no other home than these boats that they live on and no means to really get another home.”

Management at Seafarers Marina estimate the damage will total at least $250,000.

“That’s mother nature, that’s the whole package,” said Lynn while looking out on the Trout River’s calming waves. “Any boat owner will tell you it’s the best and worst thing that could happen to you and your boat. So you have to take those chances.”
Harlin says losing the Shantyboat was like losing a part of her body. It appears the old boat and Lynn’s stern ways have touched a lot of people. One of her writers started a gofundme page for the couple just a few days ago and it has already raised more than 3,000 dollars.

In her own words, Lynn Skapyak Harlin: “It is 2:30a.m. and I can’t sleep. Yesterday Keitha Nelson, ch12 news reporter & her cameraman Todd came to Seafarers Marina to talk about the loss of the Shantyboat. She asked me a lot of questions and as usual I was my flippant self. But now after replaying what she asked and what I said I really want to tell what the loss of the boat is to me. The Shantyboat Writers Workshop was a refuge where writers black, white, young, old, rich and not so rich all were equal. It was a melting pot of creative, imaginative and dedicated folks who came for one purpose to make their writing better. All I did was share craft techniques and show them how to pick out what worked and what didn’t work in a piece. This was exciting. I got to watch & listen to writers become better at sharing their stories. The magic of the Shantyboat was the people who dared to trek down the dock and step into a place were they were with writers who all cared about words. All the writers’ styles, stories and characters were their own and none of them sounded nor wrote alike. They all learned the tools of the trade, the craft techniques that all writers need to make readers care about their characters and turn pages to find out what happened. I loved what I did but more than that I loved where I did it. Our Shantyboat was where I was happiest being surrounded by folks who wanted to make their stories the best they could be. The boat is gone but hopefully the lessons the writers learned will live on in the stories they create.”


Shantyboat - wrecked

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