Monday, March 25, 2013

Springtime Blue-Eyed Grass

Spring in Florida! It's the blue-eyed grass time of year. The moist areas of the yard are popping with their tiny purple and yellow blooms. 
Sisyrinchium Blue-eyed Grass

We also had a second bloom on the Carolina Jessamine vines around here. The Palamedes Swallowtails (Papilio palamedes) are going crazy!

Palamedes Swallowtail (Papilio palamedes)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Daytona Beach Local Author Event

SATURDAY, MARCH 30th    1:00 - 4:00 PM

Come join us for a fun afternoon of meeting a wide range of local talent!

Linda Tuck Jenkins AKA Mary Clay is the author of upbeat fiction with a metaphysical twist including the comical Daffodils series. Her mysteries Bike Week Blues and Turtle Mound Murders among others are all set in New Smyrna Beach.

Kevin McCarthy is a Professor Emeritus of English and Florida Studies at the University of Florida in Gainesville. His books, including St John's River Guidebook, Thirty Florida Shipwrecks, and Alligator Tales among many others all focus on local Florida history, places, and people.

Suzanne Rexford has been preparing and serving food for over forty years and is a former Florida Citizen of the Year. Suzanne's Kitchen is a "primer on ingredients, appliances, and cooking techniques from a la carte to zucchini." A special cooking presentation on the brushetta will take place! Yum!

Sandra Wallus Sammons learned of the need for children's books on Florida's history as an elementary school librarian in Lake County, Florida. Her works include Henry Flagler: Builder of Florida and Ponce de Leon: The Discovery of Florida as well as several other titles.

Chris Berman has an extensive background in space flight and astronomy. His writing consists of hard science fiction, techno-thrillers, alternate history, and horror. His new book, Ace of Aces is a fast-paced tale of adventure set in the year 2287.

William Collins has been a pastor and missionary for forty-eight years, traveling to Zaire, Congo, Egypt, and Greece. The Pen and the Scapel tells the story of Luke, one of the most prolific writers of the New Testament.

And of! I'll have a huge pile of Florida's hottest children's fantasy novel, Olivia Brophie and the Pearl of Tagelus.  Find out more!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Reaper of St. George Street Review

(The Adventures of Flagler's Few St. Augustine's Ghost Hunters!)
written and illustrated by Andre Frattino

William Garrings is new to St. Augustine, Florida and an avowed skeptic in Andre Frattino's first graphic novel in the Flagler Few series. Things don't start out easy for William. His wallet is stolen, he's arrested, and his apartment is rented out to a comic book enthusiast Franklin Dinklemyer. And, it turns out, that St Augustine is crawling with ghosts.
Along with Roger Blimes, the con-man / wannabe pirate who stole his wallet and Allison Stewart, an enigmatic mystic, they set out to solve the hauntings that plague Claire Evans, Williams new girlfriend.
Frattino's style is easy to follow, a feature I appreciated. In particular, the panels featuring St. Augustine cityscapes jumped off the page with artful compactness. The city becomes a character in itself, making this a great book to read if you are visiting. There is plenty of character humor too, often created by the expressions on their faces and Frattino's sense of timing.
Ultimately, of course, a ghost hunting story has to have a properly scary ghost. I didn't know what a reaper was until I read this book. I'm not going to spoil the spooky parts but I was startled enough. It isn't extremely scary by any means.
I read the entirety of Reaper in one sitting. I was charmed by William and Clair's relationship, Roger's humor, and the constant wondering of who is alive and who is a ghost. The ending was
surprising and bittersweet.
I recommend The Reaper of St George Street for ages 10 an up!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Florida Climbing Aster (Aster carolinianum)

I received a photograph in my email today from a Florida native and award-winning author Lowell Teal. Lowell and his family have been living in Florida for a long time. Suffice it to say, Lowell has covered a lot of central Florida on horseback. Gradually, they have sold off the land that used to support their cattle farming. In a recent sale this past fall, Lowell noticed a stunning display of flowers so he took a photo. I opened it as one opens an envelope purportedly containing evidence of Bigfoot. I wasn't disappointed. Lowell told me he has never seen this flower anywhere else and I have to agree with him. I know I know. Climbing Aster isn't supposed to be so rare according to the books. But I have never seen it and Lowell has only seen this one. Between us, we've covered a lot of Florida! Of the other pictures I've seen on the internet, none of them even come close to the grandeur of this beautiful monster.

Find out more about Lowell Teal, his life, and his wonderful books.

Climbing Aster (Aster carolinianum)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Lake Helen Florida Authors Book Fair

I was honored to be invited to participate in the 18th Biennial of Lake Helen's Florida Authors Book Fair. If you have never been to Lake Helen, it is a small historic town just to the north of Cassadega in the Orlando area. The town is filled with beautiful historic homes such as the "Eyebrow House"

Across the street is Hopkins Hall, where the Book Fair was held.

Over two dozen Florida authors were in attendance. It was so much fun meeting new friends and catching up with some of my readers. The Friends of Lake Helen Public Library were fantastic hosts. They fed us breakfast and lunch and they were there attending to our every need throughout the day.

Here we are setting up!

Andre Frattino and Sandra Friend

On the right is Sandra Friend, who is a hiker extraordinaire. I've read several of her books and I am excited to have a signed copy of her Orlando area hiking guide.  I wish I had more time to talk to Sandra because if you follow my blog, you know I love to hike. I wanted to find out if she's hiked in my favorite areas of southern Utah and Arizona. You can find these classic Florida books and more about the hikes around the world that Sandra has completed at her website.

 On the left is Andre Frattino, a great graphic artist and author of The Reaper of St George Street and Lost Souls of Savannah. Not only did I snag his last copy of The Reaper, he took the time to draw me. How cool is that? Andre is a ghosthunter and he told me a story about seeing a Florida Skunk Ape near the Devils Millhopper in Gainesville. I was pretty excited about that because I used to live just down the road from there. Check out some of his art on his site.


Author Lowell Teal

Here is Lowell Teal, my table-mate and partner-in-crime. I had a great time getting to know him. Lowell, disappeared before I was able to buy his books, but I will get them from  his website.
If you enjoy Florida history and epic family stories that span generations (like I do) you will enjoy his "Bath Pond" series. Bath Pond, Fortune's Crossing, Inherited Journey, Promise to Poppy, and Going Home. Whew! Lowell is really cool with a sly sense of humor, so I'm betting that his books are fun to read. If you like A Land Remembered, check these out!

Authors William Ryan (with his wife) and Enid Shomer
It was fun meeting Enid Shomer at breakfast this morning. She is an accomplished poet and fiction writer. She was selling her latest book, The Twelve Rooms of the Nile, an historical imagining of the meeting of Florence Nightingale and Gustav Flaubert. I'm pretty bummed that I didn't get to talk to her more, especially about her poetry.  Enid recently won the 2013 Florida Lifetime Achievement Award and she is on her way to visiting the Governor.

I didn't get to talk with William Ryan much at all, which is a shame because he writes about the Bulow area and Old Kings Road. I love that area. The Fairchild Oak is over there, as well as the Bulow Sugar Mill. Beautiful old Florida area filled with ancient live oaks. I will email him and I hope he will talk to me about it!

Authors Jim Robison and Mary Jane Ryals

Jim Robison is another author I wish I had more time to talk to. He has written many books about central Florida history and natural history. I wanted a copy of Along the Wekiva River but he left before I could pick one up. I was the last speaker of the day, so by the time I made it back to the floor, several folks had left.

There was something about Mary Jane Ryals that was really bugging me at the start of the day. I recognized her book Cookie and Me because it won a Florida Book Award; but that wasn't it. Finally, I saw a small poetry chapbook on the table next to her. You can see the bright orange cover in the photo above. Mary Jane is also a Yellow Jacket Press poet! That is why her name rung a bell. It always cracks me up how you meet someone you should just know and it takes you awhile to figure it out and then you feel like such a tool for not figuring it out immediately. Now, I'm the proud owner of a signed copy of Cookie and Me. On top of that, she is the Poet Laureate of Florida's Big Bend area and now I have a signed copy of her chapbook Music in Arabic. Her husband, Michael Trammell is also a YellowJacket poet. If I had known he was going to be there, I would've brought my copy of his book Our Keen Blue House so he could sign it. Mary Jane and Michael are both really nice, awesome people. I hope to get to know them more.

Author Fred Mitt and Illustrator Jennifer Houdeshell
Jennifer Houdeshell was so enthusiastic and warm today that it was infectious. Just look at her hugging that pink monkey!

I spent some quality time with Fred Mitt at breakfast. What an interesting character. From lawyer to judge to successful author, Fred writes about the Native Americans and how they lived in Florida for centuries. His books, Wekiva Winter, Beyond the River of the Sun, and The Last Timucuan are all award-winning stories. Fred is another on that snuck away on me before I could get a copy of Wekiva Winter. Bah!  He has a replica of the famous Hontoon owl totem in his backyard and I'm determined to see it one day. That owl totem actually makes an appearance in Olivia Brophie Book #2. Fred might not approve because I can't exactly say Olivia's version of the totem is historical. In fact, it is downright scary.  Look for Book #2 in January 2014 to find out what I'm talking about.

Author Lucy Tobias
Lucy Tobias is the author of 50 Great Walks in Florida. The great thing about Lucy is how she was convincing me about the greatness of ebooks. Now, mind you, I'm an IT guy. But I am also not a big fan of reading ebooks. Lucy is very passionate about publishing and she loves to mentor aspiring authors. I actually think she convinced me to be more open-minded about ebooks!

Authors Louise Caccamise and Tom Cavanagh
Authors Jonathon King and Judy Lindquist
Authors Connie Mann and Devon Pearse

Authors Ann Taylor and Chris Coad Taylor

Chris Coad Taylor has written some really interesting mystery/romance books including The Rainbow Murders. Chris is very nice to talk to and I hope I get to work with her again. It turns out, she is also an accomplished photographer!

If you are an author and I missed you from today's event, I am very sorry. I'm sure I missed a few folks in the chaos. Please send me a link to your site and I will add it.

I am very happy with the results from today. I sold out and had to dip into my emergency stash of books. I can't wait for next year.