Posted in angels, family, Florida, grandmothers, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year, love, Merry Christmas, mythology

A Holiday Story- The Marco Angel

island of angels - Copy (2)

Happy Holidays to everyone. Instead of an author interview, for my holiday gift to you, here is a short story I wrote a few years ago about the Marco Angels, hundreds of them, all over our island. They are a wonderful sight.

The Tradewinds

 

Island of Angels, a short story  December 2012

by  Joanne Simon Tailele

The young girl hunched down in the backseat of the car. Her nose almost touched the screen of the I-pad she balanced on her lap. Bright pink ear buds blocked out the other sounds in the car. As the car approached the crest of the Judge Jolley Bridge, her mother hollered to her above the music pounding in her ears. “Liza, look, an osprey.”

Liza lifted her head just as the bird spread its wings and took flight above the sparkling blue water. She watched as it flapped twice, and then glided on the wind. It headed across the island into the setting amber sun where the high-rises in the distance appeared to dance on the water’s edge. “Nice,” she said somewhat sarcastically and buried her red-capped head back in her lap.

This was not Liza’s idea for a Christmas vacation. Who ever heard of Christmas without snow, or friends or blazing fireplaces? If they had to go to Florida, couldn’t it be Disney World? No, Mom and Dad said it had to be Marco Island. Liza knew what this was really about. It was about saying good-bye. They thought she didn’t know, but she wasn’t a baby. She had looked it up on Google. Lymphoma. The chemo had only made it worse. She threw up all the time and her long blonde hair fell out in clumps until she just shaved it all off and stuck a cap on her head.

Gram’s house was cool and it had a big pool right off the back door inside a cage. Liza could push back the huge sliding doors and walk straight into the water, if she only had the strength. But even with a big artificial tree, and lots of lights on the house, things still did not feel like Christmas.

On the second night, Gram announced that she was taking Liza out to see the town. Big deal, Liza thought. This town sucks. She’d rather be back in New York with her friends.

As they rode down Collier Blvd, Liza noticed the angels. Beautiful silhouettes of praying angels lined the street in front of building after building of condominiums. They turned down Barfield, and then San Marco, then Bald Eagle. More angels graced the lawns of pretty homes and businesses. “What is this Gram? What’s with the angels?” Liza heart began to soften and a lump formed in her throat.

Her grandmother smiled at her. “This is the Island of Angels, don’t you know that?” She pulled the car up the steep drive to the Marriott Hotel and handed the keys to the valet. “Come, my dear. I want to show you something.”

Liza and her grandmother entered the lobby of the hotel. The most beautiful tree Liza had ever seen filled the room, surrounded by dozens of red poinsettias.  They descended the stairs and exited the double doors into the courtyard. A wedding reception was taking place and Liza smiled at the bride and groom surrounded by their friends and families seated at white linen tables in the soft moonlight. Passed the party, passed the pool, passed the restaurant on the beach, Liza walked arm-in-arm with her grandmother toward the shoreline. Those who observed them would not have known who was supporting whom. They kicked their shoes off as they reached the soft sand. The salt air tickled Liza’s nose. When the only sound they heard was the surf lapping on the beach in its own rhythmic beat, Gram spread a blanket and they sat down, shoulder to shoulder. The breeze from the Gulf was cool and Gram lifted the edge of the blanket to wrap them together in a cocoon.

Thousands of stars lit the sky and the moon’s reflection pirouetted over the water. Liza leaned her head on to her grandmother’s shoulder. “This is beautiful. Thank you for bringing me here. Tell me, Gram, why do they call this the Island of Angels?”

“Because it is.” Her grandmother stated rather matter-of-factly.  “Hundreds of years ago, the Calusa Indians knew this, and that is why they settled here. Angels look over this island and keep it safe. When big hurricanes like Wilma and Charlie, or Katrina blow toward this island, the angels all get together and flap their wings at the same time and blow the worst of the storms away.”

Liza snuggled a little closer. “Do you think angels are people that have died?”

Her grandmother thought for a moment. “No, I believe they were created to always be angels, that they are immortal, with no beginning and no end. They just are. But there is something else they do, Liza. They also blow away fear.”

Liza lifted her head from her grandmother’s shoulder and looked into her eyes in the moonlight. “How do they do that, Gram?”

“If you are afraid, just sit very still and quiet. Listen for them and they will come. When you hear the flapping of their wings, you will know that they are lifting your fear and taking it away.”

Christmas morning, Liza was too weak to open her gifts, but a special gift hung by a silver chain on the tree; a Marco Angel bowing with a candle in hand. Her grandmother hooked the clasp of the chain around her granddaughter’s neck. Liza looked up at her and pressed the angel to her chest. “I can hear them, Gram. I hear their wings. I am not afraid.”

 

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year to all of you.

2011-12-28 18.24.39

Tai and Joanne

Posted in authors, characters, conflict, fiction, Florida, friend, mystery, novels, readers, writers

Prayers to my dear friend and writer, Marty Fallon.

Marty Fallon

Today was the scheduled day to post my dear friend, Marty Fallon’s blog, but I didn’t know I was going to have to ask for everyone’s prayers for him. The day before yesterday Ia received a quick email that he was going to miss out monthly writer’s meeting because he was in a rehab center – because he had a stroke.  OMG. He said he was typing his email with one finger. So, everyone, please say a special prayer for a complete recovery for this wonderful writer friend of mine.

So, I am going to plug along as if he was sitting right in front of me.

Marty, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

English teachers supported my writing, first in high school and later in college.  I was not an English major, but in those classes I did take, those professors acknowledged some of my offerings.  Later as a school social worker, I had to write social histories on all students being considered for special education.  Any flourishes above and beyond the generic psychological reports, brought some spice to an otherwise dull process. Their laughter, energized me.  The epiphany, came from retirement guilt.  I started a job at a local resort hotel, and, after three weeks, decided that those folks worked harder than I felt ready to sustain, so I quit.  That experience became the inspiration for my first published book, The Concierge.  But my first novella, still languishing on the hard drive, I wrote in a week.  That was a rush, writing on yellow legal pads, reading the daily results to my wife, not stopping to get dressed.

Concierge

I’m sure Gretchen is glad you finally got dressed.  What other work have you done, and how has it impacted your writing?

I grew up and a farm, so I know mindless repetitive work.  The pyscho-social jobs, in child neglect and abuse plus the school interventions gave me an appreciation of how dysfunctional behavior starts and the consequences of repeated social-emotional failures.  In Florida, I found work as a home-health aide, and used my helping skills to establish relationships with older adults with diminished intellectual abilities.

How long did it take you to publish your first manuscript?

It took twelve years, and that might just as well have been forever, except Create Space came along to offer the digital publishing option many authors are now using to sidestep the traditional publishing barriers.

Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time, or different POV’s?

My crime/relationship books are primarily in chronological order, because the danger inherent in repeated crimes requires resolution.  And the relationships between the cops and the victims are also moving quickly.  There may be one or two flashbacks to deepen our understanding of motive, but, by and large, my people are in a hurry to catch the bad guys and also pushing hard to make the personal contacts they think they need to improve their love lives.

Marty, tell us about one of your books in 3 sentences.

The book coming out in January, started with car ad, a girl in a bikini on the hood of a pickup, trying to sell her old vehicle.  That level of desperation became the inspiration for Trouble On The Hood.

Who are some of the authors whose work you admire the most?

Carl Hiaasen, Randy Wayne White, John Sanford and Michael Perry.  Hiaasen and White are ex-journalists from Florida and their subsequent knowledge of the state is superb.  Sanford also has a journalism background, and he provides remarkable detail from Minnesota.  Perry writes non-fiction, but he hasn’t strayed far from his rural roots.  All these authors spin wonderful stories with drama and memorable characters.  I want to have my writing rise to the quality their books demonstrate, so they will remain esteemed models.

What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?

 The Daughters

 

The Daughters, describes the odyssey of three women, a kidnapped girl from Colombia, an assaulted high-school student from a Lee County high school, and an impoverished eighth grader coerced into joining a local gang.  As the lives of the victims come closer to overlapping, our local law-enforcement team, two of whom are getting married, attempt to gather the clues required to intervene before tragedy envelopes the little community of Bonita Springs.

Marty, our thoughts and prayers are miss you. We missed you at Marco Writers this week. For our readers, you can buy Marty’s books on Amazon at

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=Martin%20Fallon&search-alias=books&sort=relevancerank

Posted in authors, books, characters, Florida, writers

Streets by W.C. Highfield

W.C. Highfield photo

Welcome, W.C. Highfield to Author Interview Friday.  Highfield is a graduate of the University of Delaware and also a native of The First State. After a decade of employment in the moving and storage industry, he embarked on a twenty-year run of ownership of a residential and commercial painting business. In 2006, he moved to Fort Myers.

Since 2007, he has written numerous articles for the Island Sand Paper, a weekly on Fort Myers Beach. He also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of   Stay Alive….Just Drive, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. He is a member of Gulf Coast Writers Association.

Sports have always been a big part of his life. Baseball was tops from an early age, and culminated with playing ten years in the Delaware Semi-Pro League. Later, he picked up the running bug and participated in hundreds of road races ranging from 5Ks to half-marathons.  He continues to take part in various forms of physical activity, and endeavors to enjoy outdoor life.

W.C., do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

In the 1990s I had a desire to write children’s stories. I successfully completed a Special Publishing course from the Institute of Children’s Literature. Shortly thereafter, I decided I would rather write for adult audiences. In early 2000, I self-published my first novel, In Sun Down Far. The novel is set in a fictitious Southwest Florida beach town that I modeled after Fort Myers Beach. The story is a slice of life about a group of friends and their interactions. Emotions escalate as the story goes on.

in-sun-down-far- highfield

Do you always write in the same POV or do you switch it up in different stories?

I prefer to write exclusively in first person. It allows me to sink myself inside the skin of the narrator and, essentially, act out his character. In this way, the narrator can express his thoughts and feelings personally to the reader. The reader doesn’t know what the other characters are thinking, only what they say and do. I like the way it creates a one-on-one relationship with the reader.

What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

I think it is important to capture random thoughts on paper, even if they are unrelated bits and pieces. The organization of these diverse ideas can come later. Plus, what seems to work for me is to just start writing from these notes, whether it turns out good or bad. I find it is much easier to come back later to pick and chose what you like from your writing—and what you don’t. When something is in black and white, and not just in your head, it is less demanding to edit it than to write it in the first place. I find that editing is at least fifty percent of writing.

streets- book  Highfield

What is the premise of your novel, Streets, we are promoting today?

My most recent novel, Streets, is set in Key West. The main character is thirty, and has lived on the streets of Key West for many years. His life is transformed by a series of unusual, out-of-the-ordinary experiences. We are not talking about typical Key West experiences here. These odd occurrences slowly start to have a positive impact on his life. I wanted to deal with the issue of homelessness, but I didn’t want the book to be negative or depressing. So I took a quirky approach to a serious subject and made the story go in a more uplifting direction.

Can you share a small sample from your book to whet our appetite?

One creative way to cool off when it’s really hot is to walk up and down Duval Street and slow down in front of the entrances to the stores. Most of them have the doors open, which allows the air conditioning from inside to pour out onto the sidewalk. When your appearance is one of a street person, you can’t loiter for too awful long, though. You’ll quickly get chased by store management. Our types can easily have the tendency to discourage the purchasing public from shopping at a place that looks like a deadbeat hangout. That would be especially true at one of the swanky-ass art galleries. They really crank the air conditioning, which is nice. But the clientele the galleries are catering to needn’t have to rub elbows with a street dweller. Management at those joints keeps us moving on down the sidewalk.

Do you have another manuscript in progress?

Yes, Joanne, I am in the process of putting the finishing touches on my third novel. It is scheduled to be out in November. The book is entitled, Sanibel’s Secret Bank. The bank is evil and ruthless. And it is very powerful in the international banking industry. This is not your typical neighborhood bank. The residents of Sanibel are not aware the bank even exists because it is camouflaged in the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. There is a nepotism requirement for employment. In this way, the secret is kept protected more easily. But several of the younger employees are outraged by the cruel and brutal actions of the bank, to the point where they are driven to bring it down.

W.C Highfield’s website is  http://www.wchighfield.com/

His author page on Amazon is  http://www.amazon.com/W.C.-Highfield/e/B00424KLKO

Posted in authors, books, characters, Florida, writers

Rare Ghosts in the Everglades inspire D.K. Christi

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWelcome D.K. Christi M. Ed., CWDP Consultant, Speaker, Author & Journalist. She is a member of the Authors Guild and Naples Press Club. She is a feature writer for  Spotlight Magazine.  http;//members.authorsguild.net/dkchristi/ . She  has so many credentials, I am not even sure what they all mean. LOL

Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way? I started out planning a career for radio or television news.

I majored in English and wrote curriculum for universities and state education departments. I was an editor for an international CPA firm, a grant-writer, a technical manual writer and contributed articles to professional journals. In my spare time, I wrote fiction stories, kept a diary and started writing my first novel while sailing in the Caribbean for three years. I spent many years working and traveling abroad which I feel provided my best background for writing.

Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?

I have remained with small presses finding the search for an agent grueling, time consuming and perhaps a lot of work with little return. Many middle range authors with major publishers do no better than popular authors with small presses and even self-published. EBooks and self-publishing are changing the landscape and the publishing industry itself is in flux. The best route may differ for each author.

What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

My writing lives in the first person, present that is a hard sell to publishers. Thus, the most difficult part was putting my stories into third person, past tense. Actual events inspire my plot that builds through additional fiction events, places and characters. None of the writing is difficult. Edits, queries, and marketing are the major challenges.

It is not enough to write a book and wait for the money to start rolling in. What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?

I’ve become quite proficient with social media and Authors Guild membership includes a great web site builder for members. My best marketing comes from the pre-press for signings, and speaking at events. Bloggers and reviewers are great for Internet exposure. I have joined everything to join for exposure and used many sales promotions. I believe, however, the best technique is knowing a celebrity and having a national platform.

What inspires you to keep writing when you’re feeling down or less confident than usual?

Writing is a business. There are no down times. I also write for newspapers and magazines with deadlines and interviews to fulfill. Southwest Spotlight News Magazines in print and online http://www.swspotlight.com carry my Our Best Friends (dogs) column and five or more feature articles each month in two editions, twice monthly. I also write for Examiner.

What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Write a page a day. In one year 365 pages will be ready to edit. Skip no days. Build a contact base and a platform ready for promoting the finished work. Join a critique group and writing organizations for fine tuning and networking.

Was there a mistake you made in your writing process you could share with us?

More edits and more attention to dialogue. In the future, I will think about the novel as a piece for television with scenes and a director. I started as a story teller. Today’s readers don’t want a story told to them, they wish to see it come to life with little background and all action. I was schooled in the classics and enjoy long passages of beautiful prose. Today’s readers don’t have patience for all that background and appreciation for language.

Why do you write? Give us three reasons.

I write to release the tension from all the things I think about and experience and need to put somewhere beyond my brain. Then I write to entertain a reader and bring them into the world I know. In the end, I write because I am a person of words and they simply flow. My art is the story. I am addicted to writing and lost without a pen or a keyboard.

What’s your next big writing challenge?

My next big writing challenge is to finish Bamboo Rings, Caribbean Odyssey and an anthology of my short stories.

What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?

The rare and endangered “Super Ghost” of Blair Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is mystical and magical as it touches the lives of all who observe its ghostly beauty and changes them forever. Neev found the roots for which she hungered at the ghost orchid while searching as a photographer for the perfect subject in the perfect light and the answer to the question: Is love eternal? Ghost Orchid was inspired by the real “Super Ghost” orchid plant that bloomed on my birthday in July 2007 and broke every wild ghost orchid record since. I am personally obsessed with its mystery and beauty and incorporated that obsession into a fiction mystery of love, lies and redemption set in the Everglades. NPR Reviews praised Ghost Orchid for the beauty of the Everglades that shines through on every page.

www.swpotlight.com

http://www.dkchristi.webs.com

http://www.amazon.com/D.K.-Christi/e/B002BLQG4A/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Ghost Orchid by D. K. Christi

Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to whet our appetite? (if so, please copy and paste here –no more than one page.

Excerpt:

These were her friends, her companions during her afternoon walks. She spoke with them as though they would respond to her inquiries.

She stopped; and the two of them simply stared at each other. She began her journey again, walking slowly down the path. Glancing back, she saw the owl surreptitiously following her with its head moving around on its perfectly still body, the eyes glued on her, piercing and watchful.

After she passed, she heard another owl calling “Whoooooo?” from deep in the swamp; and she recognized her owl answering. She smiled and commented to the quiet vastness of the swamp,

“Ah hah, so you have a mate.”

The little anoles were every color on this day, black and brown and green. One day she saw one actually changing color, mesmerized by the miracle. Another squirrel decided to join her. They were the least timid, apparently enjoying the company of those who walked along the boardwalk. A bright red flower, all by itself, surrounded by gigantic ferns and alligator flags, five large, red petals on a tall, too-thin stem, bobbing a little in the swamp breeze, a swamp hibiscus, seemed to say,

“See, I am still here.”

Paper white blooms and a white swamp lily or two were also dressed in their finest. The more she looked, the more flowers she saw. The purple morning glories were still partially open. Tall ferns, reminiscent of the age of dinosaurs, rose from the dry swamp floor, surrounded by other broad leaf, alligator plants, trying to catch a little dew and a wisp of sunshine. The mysteries of the swamp were like a well in a story she loved, beautiful because they were initially hidden, just waiting for the right conditions for their dramatic entrance. Some pine tree seeds only opened after a fire cleared the way, dormant for years. Thus, the Everglades were always beautiful for two reasons: the obvious beauty and the mysteries left to the imagination, waiting to burst forth in the future.

The swamp was the coolest place she knew this time of year. Even on the hottest and most humid day, a little swamp breeze wafted through the trees, rustled the dry leaves and cooled the sweat on her face and arms. Her hat acted like a sweatband, stopping the salty, pooling drops from slipping down her forehead and into her eyes. She loved the winding boardwalk where she threw her shoulders back, looked up into the green canopy overhead that provided some shade and did not miss a step on her brisk walk. She breathed in the oxygen, knowing her lungs were saying “thank you” with every step.

One thing she knew about walking in the swamp: she did not cry. An overwhelming sense of peace filled her heart to overflowing with joy from the first step into its wonders until the last step out. Tears were for lonely automobiles, the back of the church, the empty rooms. She knew that her Creator who made this swamp such a beautiful and serene place where nature lived in harmony according to its predestined imprint had done no less for her. In the swamp, she felt her God filling the void in her soul; and she was at peace. This walk was the highlight of her day, a raison d’être for the long drive to a job that lost its spark with an accumulation of career disappointments. The swamp was never disappointing.

Thunder began as a rumble in the distance but rolled forward with loud crashes. Lightning soon followed all across the sky, long, jagged lines of white light connecting the growing cumulus clouds with the earth. These bolts of lightning were frightening this time of year. They started the unmanageable fires in the swamplands that filled the air with acrid smoke and threatened the homes of those who ventured too far into the wilderness. The heavy wind howled through the cypress; and heavy rains broke through the canopy, dancing on the wide alligator fronds and turning the moss covered walk to “swamp ice.” Her hat had a bill, and the initial drops simply glanced off the hat as she quickened her step. She enjoyed the warm, summer rain. She did not like the lightning. The air was alive with the crackling lightning, and she counted in her mind’s eye how far it was to the next protected area where she could wait under a shelter until the lightning subsided and the rain diminished. She was noticeably wet, her blouse clung revealingly to her skin, and the cool dampness became a bit uncomfortable.

Just as quickly as the storm arrived, it passed away. The sun returned in all its hot glory; diamonds glistened on the broad, deep green fronds and cool drops still fell from the canopy overhead. She was cool and wet, but she would dry sufficiently by the time the walk ended so she could return to work with no one knowing she came through a storm. Her recent hairstyle was straight with short bangs cut across her forehead. She wore little makeup to wash away in the rain. The main disaster was the shoes. The damp leather soles sloshed through the rain, gingerly traversing the slick pine needles, and they might separate from the straps. This happened before. The swamp was the dividing line between before and after.

Before, she talked for the entire walk with the man who resided in her heart. She shared the serenity, the pure joy of this special place that meant so much to her. In spite of the “no cell phone rule,” she was eager for his calls that he actually timed for her walks in the swamp. Perhaps for him it meant she had private time to chat, away from the office, just the two of them. She found a bench off the beaten path to be away from the occasional patrons who might give her the evil eye for whispering into a cell phone.

A radiant smile filled her face the whole time, heart racing, heat rising. He had that power over her. He was “the one,” the soul mate for whom nothing was sacrosanct, except for her painful secret that was buried too deep to reveal. They were of one mind and heart, and her very essence with all its greatness and its flaws was safe with him. He would do her no more harm. As soon as their conversations ended, she thought about all the things she should have said or chided herself for talking too much, being too eager to share every thought with him to make up for all the years of separation.

“Maybe I should have held back a few more secrets,” she thought in the painful time that came after.

Do you have another manuscript in progress? If so, can you tell us a little about it?

Bamboo Rings is under contract to Black Rose Writing, the first novel in the Bamboo Rings series that includes Ghost Orchid, already published, as the third novel. Bamboo Rings provides back story for the characters Mel and Jack briefly mentioned in Ghost Orchid. Bamboo Rings is an international adventure to exotic foreign locations woven together with a love story that begins in the Orient in the 1970’s.

Thank you D.K. It has been  real pleasure too have you on my blog. Best of luck with your newest book and the series.

 

Posted in disabilities, education, elder care, exercises, Florida, help, meditation, pain, pain relief, peaceful, purpose, relax, service, yoga

YOGA INSTRUCTOR JEAN ERLBAUM WROTE SIT WITH LESS PAIN

Jeanie and Stella Wisdom
Jeanie and Stella Wisdom

Jean Erlbaum, M.S., E.R.Y.T., L.V.C.Y.T, author, has been studying yoga and meditation since 1965 and has been teaching since 1972. An Experienced Registered 500-Hour Yoga Teacher, she is certified as a teacher of several styles of yoga, meditation, and stress reduction. She has studied Zen for over thirty years and in 2012 was designated as a senior Dharma teacher by Boundless Way Zen (Worcester, Massachusetts). She offers classes in Greenfield, MA, and Naples, FL, where she lives with her husband Richard Rumelt and their two dachshunds, Stella and Oscar. Richard and Jean have two daughters, Anna and Libby, who live in New York City.

Jeanie is a friend and colleague of mine through Marco Island Writers. I know you will want to know all about her new release, Sit With Less Pain.

Jeanie, when and why did you first become a writer?

I have been writing since my chubby little hand could form letters. Growing up I was not given a lot of space for expression. I think for me writing was a survival technique, a way of staying true to myself. Even when I was very young, I wrote essays and stories. I rarely showed my work to anyone. I wrote for myself and I wrote every day. As I got older I did begin to share my writing with friends and teachers. I began to feel confident about my ability to put words on paper, but I never considered myself a “writer” and never thought about being published. To me a “real writer” was someone who did creative writing – fiction or poetry. As an adult I have almost always written opinion pieces or instructional essays. Now that I have a book published, maybe I can begin to consider myself a writer. I have been encouraged to be more receptive to that designation by my wonderful Marco Island Writers Group!

What  is your book about?

Here’s the synopsis for  Sit With Less Pain:

Relieve and release the stiffness that comes from prolonged sitting—at a desk, behind the wheel, or on a meditation cushion—with these easy-to-follow exercises. Free yourself from pain with this beautifully illustrated guide. The book is organized anatomically, helping readers to immediately focus on the part of the body that causes them pain: tense shoulders, stiff knees, sore hips, etc. Sit with Less Pain also includes instructions for flowing series of movements, which combine several exercises into smooth sequences, for readers who have mastered the individual stretches and want a more complete experience. Gorgeous, clear illustrations and lay-flat binding—which lets the book stay open at the proper page—will help readers perfect the poses. Companion CD’s are available with  the author’s soothing voice guiding you through the sequences offered in the book. You can chose tracks and design your own unique stretching sessions focusing on the parts of your body that need special attention.

Sit With Less Pain by Jean Erlbaum

Few of us at Marco Island Writer’s are traditionally published? How did you find your publisher?

I have been teaching yoga for many years. One of my specialties is teaching yoga to people on meditation retreats. People who sit for long periods in meditation get achy in very specific ways. I designed classes that addressed those specific problems. One of the people who attended one of those retreats turned out to be an editor for Wisdom Publications, a Buddhist publishing house. He liked my classes and asked if I would consider writing a book to share the techniques I had developed. (He had no idea that I loved writing – he just knew he liked my yoga!) Even though I had never considered writing a book before, I immediately said yes. I liked the challenge of such a focused commitment and I welcomed the opportunity to empty my brain of 40 plus years of yoga information. (As I was writing the book, I often did have the sense of just tilting my head and pouring all these theories and techniques into the computer in front of me. And it was a relief to empty out in that way, to pass it all on.)

What do you hope readers will receive from your book?

As I was writing the book, I began to imagine that it could be beneficial anyone who sat for a long time – not just meditators. It could be helpful to people who sit in an office all day or behind the wheel of a car or truck; I realized that the techniques I designed could easily be adapted for folks in wheelchairs. As I started telling my yoga students and local health providers about the book I was writing, many people requested copies and told me how helpful they thought the stretches would be for them and for the people they worked with. After a while, I sensed that these people were not just being polite. I began to understand that techniques I was relaying in the book could be helpful in alleviate pain for many, many people. Along with the physical stretches, I added an element of meditative awareness to the exercises, so a wider audience could benefit from the centering and calming aspects of yoga. I decided also to create companion CDs for the book, so readers, once they have seen the instructions and illustrations in the book, can be led effortlessly through the stretches. My hope is that readers will enjoy doing the stretches and gain mental and physical ease in their daily activities.

Where can reader buy your book?

Jean’s website: http: www.sitwithlesspain.com  (This is the only place currently that you can get the companion CDs.)

Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/Sit-With-Less-Pain-Meditators/dp/0861716795/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1396274570&sr=1-1

Barnes&Noble : http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sit-with-less-pain-jean-erlbaum/1117543237?ean=9780861716791

Wisdom Publicationshttp://www.wisdompubs.org/book/sit-less-pain

Powell’s: http://www.powells.com/biblio/62-9780861716791-0

IndieBoundhttp://www.indiebound.org/book/9780861716791

iTuneshttps://itunes.apple.com/us/book/sit-with-less-pain/id789539748?mt=11

Companion CDs for the book are available: $25 for a set of two chair yoga cds, $25 for a set of mat yoga cds, $45 for all cds. Contact jean.erlbaum@verizon.net, www.sitwithlesspain.com for ordering and more info.

 

Here is an excerpt from the Introduction to the book:

 Yoga can bring us into the authentic embodiment of each moment. When we pay full attention during a forward bend, we can drop all memories of how our back has been, judgment of how it should be, worries about how it may get worse, or fantasies of how to make it better. All there is in that moment is the stretch, the breath, and any physical changes or insights as they occur. Yoga used this way is not separate from meditation practice—it becomes the practice. By fully sinking into the specific sensations of each pose, we create the possibility of relinquishing the usual busyness of mind and expanding beyond the usual constrictions of the body, beyond the boundary of “this self.”

We can create regular yoga sessions for ourselves and take the visceral awareness this practice promotes into our every day lives. We can cultivate a larger yoga: an ability to align with our body while sitting, walking, washing the dishes, or climbing into bed at night. We can cultivate mindfulness of what changes with each movement and of the stillness that remains even as we move through our days.

Yoga can help us go beyond watching the movements of body and mind; it allows us to become “bodymind,” to embody this one thing we always are. My hope is that these stretches help you as much as they have helped me, so that we all can sit deeply and live with grace and flexibility in all circumstances.

Thank you Jeanie. This has been so much fun. As you know, my daughter is the owner of three yoga studios in Miami and has a nationwide non-profit organization that teaches yoga as an alternative to violence to at risk youth.  You handle the other end of the spectrum – the older generation and the less nimble.  Thanks so much for sharing with us today on Author Interview Friday at Writing Under Fire. Best of luck with your book launch.

Posted in authors, books, characters, Florida, history, Indie, readers, writers, writing

T.M. Jacobs presents SW Florida History

T.M. Jacobs
T.M. Jacobs
Welcome, T.M. Jacobs to Author Interview Friday. Tim is on the Corporate Board of Directors for the Gulf Coast Writer’s Association and Owner/President of Jacobs Writing Consultants in Fort Myers, Florida.  He is also Advisor to the Board of Directors for Southwest FL Historical Society. It is my honor to have him with us today.
Tim, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?
For me it was the sound of the typewriter. My mother used to do some typing at home for work, and I fell in love with the “click-clack” of each letter as she typed. I was probably around 5 or 6 years old at the time.
Do you always write in the same genre?
No, I don’t. I write a little bit of fiction, I have written poetry, but I love to write non fiction, especially local history. I believe that writing in different genres helps the creative part of mind to always be going, always searching for ideas, twists, plots, etc.
For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?
It would be in the local Florida section, as it covers Harvie Heitmanof Fort Myers, as well as other events and histories of that area.
Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication?
I wanted to have more control in the overall process of the my book. I also wanted to learn as much about the industry that I could. Prior to publishing my first book in 1996, I took a job at a publishing company was able to learn all the ins and outs of the business before venturing out on my own.
What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?
I’ve seldom used an outline for my writing. I think both the synopsis and query are a challenge. It’s hard to focus your novel or book down to a mere page or two, but that’s how you make the sale to an agent or publisher. As far as the building the story, I’ve always felt that the stories build themselves. In fiction it’s the character that tell the story, you just write it down. With non fiction, let the facts tell the story.
It is not enough to write a book and wait for the money to start rolling in. What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?
You need to constantly put yourself out there, or your book out there. Constantly repost to Facebook, send out emails, mention your book to organizations that you belong to you, write articles for newspapers and magazines and put in your byline your book title and where it’s available. Think outside the box. Set up tables at craft fairs and other events. Do book signings and lectures, lunches, etc.  
What advise would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?
Don’t give up. Keep writing. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, join a writing group or form one of your own – they’re so valuable. It’s where you find support because everyone there knows what it’s like to be a writer. They understand the struggles you will encounter and will be your loudest cheerleaders when you reach a success.
What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?
Tim Jacobs book cover
“H. E. Hiemtan, An Early Entrepreneur of Fort Myers, Florida” is the biography of Harvie Heitman, the man who practically built First Street in downtown Fort Myers. It’s also the history of the businesses that flourished downtown from the 1880s to the 1920s.
Where is your book available?
It’s available at Savvy on First in downtown Fort Myers,  Bombay Liquor/Book Den on Marco Island, the Southwest Florida Historical Society, the Southwest Florida Museum of History, or by emailing me attjacobs@jacobswc.com.
How did your consultant business come about?
With the advent of Kindle, Nook and e-readers, it has become easy for anyone to upload their novel or book, and become a “published author.” I was amazed when I began to download books and read them, only to find there was little to no editing done. It’s like the author thought he or she wrote it without error and quickly posted it for the public to buy and read. In some cases the story was fantastic, but difficult to read as you had to think or (in your mind) put in a comma, figure out where the missing quotation mark goes, or who’s speaking in a dialogue. So, I got together with a few editors, and put together Jacobs Writing Consultants to assist writers. Our tagline is “We ignite your writing – one page at a time.”
How can a writer contact Jacobs Writing Consultants?
The best way is through our website – http://www.jacobswc.com./ One thing we tell potential clients: “We’re so confident you will love our work, we’ll do the first four pages free and you’ll decide to say, ‘yes. . .finish it!'” Send us four double-spaced pages of your current project, and we’ll edit them and show you what we can do to enhance your writing.
What’s the most challenging aspect of being a consultant?
It’s difficult at times to get clients to see and understand that their writing or their story needs work. They believe because a co-worker or their best friend read their manuscript and loved it, that it’s good. True, the story may be good, but the nuts and bolts of it need to be tightened and adjusted. Sometimes the writer is too attached to their work, and it’s hard to get them to step back, let go and to take an alternate view of their book or main character.
Thank you Tim, for being on Author Interview Friday at Writing Under fire today. You can find out more about Tim, his writing and his consulting firm on his website:  www.jacobswc.com.
Posted in authors, characters, conflict, faces, fiction, Florida, ghosts, mystery, novels, thriller, writers, writing

Bitter Secrets by Patty Brant

Patti Brant

Today we have my friend with us on Author Interview Friday. I first met Patty last year at a book event in Mt. Dora and had the privilege of spending some time getting to know her.  Welcome Patty.  Why don’t you tell the readers how you got started in writing.

I always enjoyed writing but I never did anything about it until I went to work for the Caloosa Belle, local newspaper in LaBelle. That was in 1985 – so I’ve done a lot or writing since then, all with a journalistic approach. There were times when I thought “Wouldn’t it be great to write a book?” That was followed immediately by “You’ve got to know something to write a book!” So that was always the end of it.

A lot of people could relate to that. The hard part is pushing past that.

It wasn’t till about ten years ago that I seriously thought I could do it. That’s when an idea hit me for a story. I was just driving home, nothing on my mind in particular. Then it was like someone opened up my head and dropped the words “I see faces” into my head. I thought, “You could write a story around those three works. Heck, you could write a whole book around just those three words.

So for the next couple weeks I was thinking about who these faces might be; what their circumstances were; Where in time they were as well as place. It became a mental exercise. When I wasn’t thinking about something else, I was building my little framework for these faces. I actually had the first several paragraphs in my head when I thought I should probably get them down in writing, and it all just grew from there.

They say there is a story inside all of us. Did you have any friends or mentors to help you?

I happened to know a very wonderful published writer named Barbara Oehlbeck who had written a book on roses, one on the sabal palm tree and many poems. A couple of years ago she wrote a wonderful memoir called Mama; Root, Hog, or Die. Barbara had always been very complimentary of my writing and even asked me once if I ever thought of writing a book!

I showed her what I had and she was very supportive. Every so often I’d show her what more I’d done and she would encourage me to keep going.

Finally, I had it done – but I finally finished my first book, Bitter Secrets, a mystery about a missing family with an otherworldly twist.  It took me at least three years – probably more.  I write off and on when I have the time. I can write all day, all night and all day again, but I have to be alone and have quiet. That just doesn’t happen.

Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

Just with the newspaper – 29 years now. I have an AA degree in liberal arts and did well in writing classes there. Funny, though, I went to Catholic schools for 12 years – starting elementary school in 1955. I can still remember things the nuns said about writing.

What else can you tell us about yourself?

I’m from Canton, Ohio. Lived in Virginia Beach for two years (my husband was in the Navy at the time), moved to Florida (my husband’s home) in 1969. My husband was in law enforcement for 40 years. He’s retired now and keeps wondering when I’m going to retire.

We have two grown daughters, a son-in-law, and three grandchildren.

Do you always write in the same genre?

Not sure how to answer that, but I think so – so far anyway. I’m putting the finishing touches on my second book now – Full Circle – which is a sequel to Bitter Secrets. It’s a little different, though. The mystery of what happened to the Parker Family has been solved, of course, and Full Circle picks up the lives of my protagonist and several other characters from that point. There is another mystery to solve and other threads in this new story as well.

Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?

Both my books are in first person. I chose that originally because everything I write for the paper is in third person, so I figured it might be a nice change.

I had several publishers try to steer me away from first person. I’ve never understood quite why.

Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time or different POV’s?

My stories alternate in time. The original mystery in Bitter Secrets actually occurs in the 1940s. It isn’t solved until the 1980s, so I kind of straddle those four decades in that story.

There are several story lines in Full Circle, so I do more alternating of the story line in that one. That can be a little tricky because you still need the action to flow.

I also don’t want to get stuck into formula writing, I know that’s what a lot of publishers want, and it might sell, but that’s not my idea of what I want to do.

Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

I guess it would have to be Mystery. Like most things in my life, I find it hard to categorize.

Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indie publisher to a colleague?

I checked companies out online and sent many, inquiries to traditional publishers. I got a few nice letters, but no takers. Talked to people who said yes, you need an agent; others who say no you don’t After going on this way for several years, I finally took the plunge and decided on iUniverse.

They have been very professional and very helpful. I know you have to be careful about “add on” services that you may not really need from any self publisher. I have used several of these services for my second book Full Circle, They were quite expensive but I also think I have learned a lot from them and I think the developmental editing service has made my book much better than it otherwise would have been.

What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

Well, I didn’t do an outline – maybe I should have but I really didn’t know where Bitter Secrets was going. I just kept coming up with scenarios and wrote some more. I was probably about half way through when I knew my ending, so then I could head for the light at the end of the tunnel.

I really hate trying to do a synopsis or query.

I have to laugh at that. “the dreaded synopsis and query.” Every writer’s worst nightmare. What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

First of all, know your English – grammar and spelling do count to professional writers and to serious readers. The best story in the world can be ruined by lack of attention to basic English rules. It doesn’t have to make your work stuffy.

Beyond that, I think you need a good story to tell. I think my problem for a long time was that I just didn’t have a story I wanted to tell. When I found one, I went with it!

Tell us a little more about your current work in progress.

As I said, it’s a sequel to Bitter Secrets called Full Circle and it takes up my protagonist’s life where Bitter Secrets ends. Actually, in some ways it’s an extension of Bitter Secrets. At the end of Bitter Secrets Molly (my protagonist) was given a job to do by her friend and other main character in Bitter Secrets so she must find a way to carry it out in Full Circle. Full Circle also incorporates a little romance and a good old fashioned cop story.

I’m doing the final rewrite of Full Circle now (wish I had a nickel for every time I said that!). In a week or two I should be sending it back to the publisher and the race will be on.

We must have you back on Author Interview Friday when that book comes out. I loved Bitter Secrets and look forward to the sequel. Can you tell the readers  the premise of  Bitter Secrets,  the  novel we are promoting today?

Bitter Secrets

Molly Martindale came to Oxbow, Florida, (a fictional town in Southwest Florida’s inland area) as a scared and lonely 13-year-old orphan to live with an aunt she barely knew. Sixteen years later she is a reporter for her hometown newspaper when she becomes interested in a family that “moved away” 40 years earlier. She’s never heard of this family before – in a small Southern town that prides itself on its roots, that’s hard for her to understand – and even more perplexing is that no one will talk about them much. She’s also the focus of visits by bone-chilling “faces” that seem to be begging her for  . . . something. So Molly’s reporter instincts are roused and she starts poking around in old matters some folks would rather be left covered with dust.

In her quest for the truth, she gets help from the town drunk, a wheelchair-bound Viet Nam veteran, a savvy old black man and, of course, her faces.

A little bird told me you won an award for Bitter Secrets. Congratulations. Tell us about that.

Yes, quite an exciting surprise. Bitter Secrets was a finalist in the 2013 Indie Excellence Book Awards. 

Please share a few paragraphs from Bitter Secrets.

 

Excerpt from Bitter Secrets by Patty Brant

I see faces.

I can’t quite remember when I first started seeing them. They were so faint, so unobtrusive, like mist gliding above the sand. More like a sigh, really, flitting just at the periphery of vision, or tangled among leaves like low-lying clouds. At some point, they began to register in my consciousness like little feathers gliding across the bottoms of my feet. Almost imperceptible, but not quite.

I had been in this small town since high school, coming as a brokenhearted thirteen-year-old orphan to live with a widowed great aunt I barely knew. Now a reporter with the Oxbow Independent, our local mullet wrapper, I, Molly Martindale, had settled quite comfortably into my life. This town had become my own.

I remember quite clearly the day I could no longer ignore these faces. I had just spent the better part of my day wrestling with an absentee boss—you know, the kind who rarely shows her face and still manages to give you grief. As I finally hung up the phone for the last time and switched off the light, it was just about dusk. When I pulled the key from the front door lock and turned to the darkening street, it must have been bedtime for the birds. They were swishing through the air, calling to each other, making quite a ruckus. At first I hoped the waning light was playing tricks on my strained eyes.

But no, I was certain. There really was something up in the branches of that old orchid tree. All my instincts said there was.

 

Thank you so much for this opportunity to connect with other writers and readers. It’s always encouraging when someone shows an interest in your passion.

My Blog: http://bittersecrets.authorsxpress.com

 My Web site: http://pattybrant.com/

Online sales: http://www.amazon.com/Bitter-Secrets-Patty-Brant/dp/1462071562/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398340649&sr=1-1&keywords=bitter+secrets

Posted in art, Florida, literture, love, novels, romance, science, writers

Can true love happen twice?

Joh fishwick

Welcome John Fishwick to Author Interview Friday. I love our tag line, “Can true love happen twice?” That is obviously the crux of the story in A Flight to Romance. I must admit that your background does not lend itself to imagine a romantic a heart.    

Well, beneath my background of cold, logical science lies a hot, beating romantic heart.

Okay, LOL, please share your background that led you to writing novels?

I graduated from Liverpool University in England in 1955 with a degree in Geology and Chemistry.  After studying Russian with British Intelligence, I emigrated to Canada , where I worked as a field Geologist looking for nickel deposits and as a Research Chemist for the Uranium industry.

In 1959, I  left Canada for the US , where, after working on a secret project for the US Government, I became a citizen. I published a book and over fifty technical papers and holds several patents.  I started a hi-tech materials company about 35 years ago, which I continue to operate.

I am  a member of the American Ceramic Society and of American Mensa and past president of the Everglades Astronomical Society. I lecture on Astronomy, various Science subjects, and on several items of Topical interest, including Global Warming and Critical Thinking. I lecture at colleges in Florida , North Carolina , and worldwide on various cruise ships.

I live in Naples , Florida during the winter months and in Western North Carolina in the summer with my wife, Nancy.

What Inspired You to Write this Novel?

I am fascinated by everything, except perhaps fashion. And basketball. I would regard it as a distinct honor to be thought of as a polymath. Even a scientist-philosopher.

Following my lectures at Universities, Colleges, and on cruise ships, I am frequently asked if I have a book containing details of the subjects covered in my lectures. So, I began a technical book several years ago based on a visit to various sites in England concerned with Astronomy, Geology, and Evolution. Then my first wife, Barbara, died from cancer and my enthusiasm for writing died with her.

But my fascination with all things scientific remained and I decided, with the encouragement of my second wife, Nancy, to resurrect the book as a novel in which many intriguing aspects of science are interwoven into a conversation between my two protagonists. The lady protagonist-Stephanie-, being a retired teacher of English and a lover of art, brings her knowledge to the discussions and, I believe, gives the reader a break from science and a welcome entrée into the world of literature and art.

An old friend, now deceased, told me that everyone should, in his or her lifetime, plant a tree, have a child, and write a book. I have now accomplished all three.

Do you have any advise for new first-time authors?

I would recommend getting help from someone who   has already been through the writing and publishing process before.   Also, don’t approach another writer until you have done your own homework  and have most of the book already planned and written.

Flight to Romance Fishwick

Would you give me a synopsis of the novel:  A FLIGHT TO ROMANCE?

It was true, she had thought his science trips would be a little tedious, but they were actually quite fascinating, and she was intrigued by his big quest.

Can true love happen twice in a lifetime? Find out in John Fishwick’s debut novel, A Flight to Romance. A thoughtful reflection on everything from art and science to romance and relationships, its raw emotion will captivate even the most casual reader.

Jeremy Rowlands lives a quiet life as an astronomy professor at the University of Florida. When he loses his wife in a car accident, Jeremy leaps at the opportunity to spend three weeks abroad to reevaluate his new role in life.

Meanwhile, Stephanie Marks embarks on a trip to visit the historic homes of famous British authors. As a retired English teacher who lost her husband to cancer, she has finally settled into a resigned solitude.

When Jeremy and Stephanie meet on the same flight, their lively and meaningful conversation sparks something in them both. Their decision to become traveling companions for the remainder of the trip allows their tenuous bond to grow, forcing them both to face a painful question: Is it really possible to fall in love again?

How About a Short Paragraph or Two From the Novel?

Waking surprisingly early in the morning after the previous long day, Stephanie was rewarded with the fine view she had been unable to fully enjoy the night before. Throwing back the covers, she headed to the window and pulled the curtains farther apart. Opening the window, she inhaled the clean morning air. This was not a typical day of rain and cool weather in the Lake District, but a brilliant, clear morning with the lake shimmering in the distance. A number of small boats bobbed next the pontoons to which they were tied. A sprinkling of sailing boats were moored farther out in the lake, and she saw steep peaks in the distance on the far side of the water. “O to be in England / Now that April’s there / And whoever wakes in England / Sees, some morning, unaware,” Stephanie recited. She closed the window, thinking that Robert Browning had it right. She sighed happily, savoring the early morning and imagining the next few hours with Jeremy as they explored the countryside and the homes of William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter.

As she headed to the shower, her thoughts went back to the wonderfully happy days when she taught high school Shakespeare and to the plots of his magnificent plays. She remembered that the starcrossed lovers always encountered a block to romance built by a stubborn father or a family feud. If the block remained, the play ended in death and tragedy; if not, the play was a romance. The third act, she told her students, was a critical point in each play. It foretold the outcome, romance or tragedy.

Fresh with her memories, she turned off the shower, grabbing a fluffy white towel and then heading into the bedroom. She pulled open the wooden wardrobe. A long mirror on the inside of the door reflected the full length of her body. “Not bad,” she muttered. The slightly dowdy, retired teacher who had mourned for the last few years, was now rested and enjoying life once again. She now felt attractive—and desirable. Selecting an outfit for the day, she smiled and scrutinized herself once again. Aloud, she said told her reflection, “Act 3 is about to begin.”

Where can readers go to get your book?

From Create Space:  http://createspace.com/4410601

On Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/A-Flight-Romance-John-Fishwick/dp/1492921092/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390671677&sr=8-1&keywords=a+flight+to+romance

On Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-flight-to-romance-john-fishwick/1118026627?ean=9781492921097

Posted in books, education, family, Florida, history, Indie, non-fiction, remember, writers

Local SW Historian brings Florida history to life

I am so pleased to have  Elizabeth “Betsy” Perdichizzi with us today on Author Interview Friday. I first read her book, A Girl Called Tommie when I moved here in 2008. Betsy made Tommie jump off the page and come alive for me. I could see her forging creeks and plodding through swamp land to bring civilization to Marco Island.  Like Betsy, when I moved here, I was craving the history of the island.  It was the best book  I had ever read on the local history of the area.  It is such a joy to say that Betsy and I are now friends and share the joy of writing together.

Betsy Perdichizzi

Betsy, please tell the readers when you first knew that you wanted to be a writer and if there was a particular inspiration to get started?

Our move to Marco Island in 1989 sparked my interest in learning about my new Florida home.  There were no books in the bookstore, only one or two in the library to read about the history of the island.  Most newcomers like myself came just for fishing, boating and leisure.  Doug Waitley, author of the Last Paradise, spoke at a luncheon that I attended. He said that he too had come to the island wanting to read about the history, then decided he had to write it.  He wrote about the Deltona development which we call modern Marco. In my mind, his words helped spark establishment of the Marco Island Historical Society in 1994 the need to capture oral histories of pioneers and their descendents.  I sensed time was running out. Those Old Timers and their descendents were dying off or drifting away. I met Kappy Kirk, Tommie Barfield’s 80 year old niece and legal ward, who introduced me to her friends.  That was a real break through, I wanted to  interview them all and write their stories.  So I became an actress telling the story of Tommie Barfield and her friends, then I became an author, writing about these people and how three communities developed.   I eventually found myself chairing the Capital Campaign to raise $4.5 million dollars to build the Marco Island Historical Museum to tell the story of the Calusa, the Pioneers and the 1960 Deltona history that led to modern Marco Island.

Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

I learned the rudimentaries of writing for newspapers in a high school journalism class, but my real training was on the job experience writing as a freelance columnist, writing for the historical society newspaper then spent ten years writing a  newspaper history column “Days Gone By’ in the Suntimes, for which I won the Golden Quill Award.

How long did it take you to publish your first manuscript?

I would say two years. My book was a one-woman play before it was a book. In 1998, I collected information about Tommie Barfield with the Kappy’s help and we formed a company to publish the book “A Girl Called Tommie, Queen of Marco Island” in 1999.

Do you always write in the same genre?

You’ve heard the old saying “truth is stranger than fiction” is true.  I am fascinated by the stories of pioneers and try to make them come alive for people, using their own words where possible. The SW Florida region is captivating, with new information about the past turning up everywhere, all the time. I can’t make it up any better than this, it is more interesting to me fiction.

Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

Florida non-fiction.  For the past six years I have been on a journey with the Olds family, discovering what it was like down here one hundred years ago.  When I was writing “A Girl Called Tommie, Queen of Marco Island” Kappy took me to Miami Beach to meet Tommies’ little sister Hazel.  Walking into Aunt Hazel’s house with pictures of her mother, sisters, the boarding house, made it all come alive for me, I hope I passed it on..

One of my readers, Dr. Robin Brown, a noted author in Fort Myers, wrote, “I just finished reading A Girl Named Tommie. What a very fine piece of work! I am helping write a summary of material pertinent to the presentation of Marco’s history for your new museum and I learned more about Marco during the century from 1850 to 1950 from your book, than from any other source. It needed to be written. And writing readable non-fiction is not easy. Your combination of dry historical fact with poignant human detail is well crafted

Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication?  What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indie publisher to a colleague?

Desk-top publishing or Indi-publishing as it is now called, blossomed with advent of the computer offering writers an economical way to publish their work  and become authors of published books.  I loved the writing part of it. Marketing the book and making it profitable thus rests directly on the author and if I do a little bit each day, even that part is getting interesting.

What does finding your “Voice” mean to you and how did you find yours?

Documenting the history of real people and telling their life-stories is of great interest to me. In the non-fiction books my Voice is just the narrator giving some necessary background information.  In the early book I was a character in order to tell the story. 

Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time or different POV’s? (point of view)

I read contemporary and classic authors and find myself studying how other authors express themselves, handle delicate subject matter, or admire a well-turned a phrase.  Writing for a newspaper helped me write clearly and cleanly, eliminating unnecessary words or flights of phrases. I like beginning at the beginning, but am not adverse to back flashes that explain a point in the story. 

What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

In writing about real people it is sometimes easier to find the beginning and the middle than it is to find the end or conclude the story.  In the “Tommie” book I I searched for a good ending, with what I thought was her vision of the future.  Readers always want to know what happened to your main character and I handled that  in a postscript, just as in a performance, you conclude the presentation in first person, getting out of character in the end to answer questions from the audience. 

Into the Wilderness offered my biggest challenge because I felt that Mary commanded the heart of the story with her very personal and revealing letters.  Mary’s daughter Saloma picked up the legacy with a beautiful letter that made it come full circle.

What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?

One of the lecturers the 2013 Florida Heritage Book Festival remarked that if you do a little marketing everyday, it isn’t so overwhelming.

I found that I had made a good start, was doing some things right, 1. Establish my publishing business with Florida Sales Tax and ID tax number using an on line accounting program such as Quickbooks. 2. Establish website. 3. Contact Barnes & Noble or Amazon.  I acquired a Vendor of Record for companies who do not deal directly with authors or Indiepubs. 4. Actively working to market my books at least 30 minutes every day. 5. Enable myself to take cash, check and credit cards. I acquired a smart phone and Square reader for credit cards. Obtained credit card slips for back up when there is no WIFI or internet. 6. Obtain a banner, posters, and provide a table set up at book fairs that will attract people to my table.

I need to do more on social media, I don’t think it will ever end.

What advise would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript? 

It you have the passion, don’t worry too much about details down the road…write it and it will come.

How does this book relate to the issues of today?

Some of the political issues touched upon one hundred years ago are still with us.  It is sometimes good to look over your shoulder and see how far we have come, and see what we can learn from the past. The pioneer had to be hardy, independent, self sufficient, and make do or do without.  You have to ask yourself, when disaster strikes are we prepared to meet and overcome the challenges as they did?

What is the premise of your novel, Into the Florida Wilderness,  we are promoting today?

Into the Florida Wilderness

Into the Florida Wilderness, Pioneer Life and medicine is based on fascinating first-hand accounts of life on the edge of civilization before Florida became a tourist and snowbird haven. The story is told in first person through the lively written diaries, photographs, and letters of three growing daughters of homeopathic doctors Mary and Louis Olds who lived on Marco Island from 1903 to 1920.  Dr. Mary and her family dropped out of Society and wrote about it, just as Al Seely, the hermit, would do 150 years later.  Mary followed her husband, the love of her life, with three little girls into the unknown backward civilization of primitive Florida. How do you survive in a place without roads, electricity, sewage, running water, hospitals, churches, or grocery stores. How do you preserve food without refrigeration? Wealthy and socially prominent northerners were attracted to their modest two-story home on the Marco River, becoming friends and sharing beach picnics and family suppers.  The girls took pictures with their camera and developed the film themselves…when they had ice! Names like Pinchot, Hornaday, Fielding, Dimock and Halderman float through the narratives like next-door neighbors.

 Dr. Mary’s challenge was to create a cultured home, and educate her daughters.

Betsy, I know the readers would love a little sample of your story.  Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to wet our appetite?

Mary writes to her Smith college classmates of 1884. (word count 831)

Marco Island, FL.

Oct. 25th, 1911

Dear Eight-Four: –

What a pleasure it is to hear from you once more! And what interesting letters you do write! It is a great delight to all our family to hear from you – and quite an education to our three country girls to touch so many phases of life through your rich and varied experiences.

Since I wrote you at Reunion in June 1910, the chief event in our history has been the great hurricane of Oct. 17, 1910 and its consequences.  During the whole summer following that June the country here seemed unusually prosperous: crops were most promising, both fruit and vegetables, for the fall and winter; and the tropical fruits of the summer were luxuriant in quantity and variety. We feasted on mangoes, guavas, sapodillas, sugar apples, avocados, etc. and then often felt little need of anything else except a little bread and butter.  Dr. Olds was greatly interested in propagating the finer varieties of mangoes, and had a beautiful nursery of young trees, and some fine specimens beginning to fruit, among them a fine Mulgoba, which proved to be as perfect and wondrous a fruit as it is claimed to be.  For the first time since we came to Florida, Dr. Olds began to feel that reasonably financial comfort was in sight. ‘But alas! Though we did not see winter as an enemy…“rough weather” did come- rougher than we had ever known.

We have often been on the edge of the great storms that have devastated Pensacola, Key West, Cuba, and other places within the sphere of influence of the Caribbean seas: but had always been fortunate in escaping with a gale tide, a high wind, and a day or two of hard rain but last year we were at the very center of the storm’s mischief. Five days it rained and blew-and when finally it seemed that the storm must be over, the very worst of it came on.  The rain did not fall down, it came horizontally, dashing at the house and forcing its way in at every horizontal crack.  Great sheets of salt water were swept up by the wind from the bay and dashed over the house. All day long we worked like Trojans, mopping up the water and trying to save our possessions from ruin. At dusk, the trees began to crash and break, and the rain poured in through the shattered roof in hopeless floods-.  Buckets did not avail to catch it- and it poured down through the second story floor to the ground floor where Dr. Olds bore holes for it to escape. It seemed every moment as if the whole roof must crash in, and we did not dare stay up stairs. Finding one dry corner we dumped the children there to try to sleep-but they could not, exhausted though they were by the day’s labors. Finally they arose, and tried to relieve the strain by playing Parcheesi! Dr. Olds and I were meanwhile going through some of the most anxious hours we had ever known. The tide the day before had gone lower than we had ever seen it before, almost baring the bottom of the bay, and Dr. Olds had known that this presaged an extraordinarily high tide on the return flood, and had felt all the time that we ought to escape to higher ground, than our own place afforded. But the wind was so terrific that none of our little boats could live in the angry waters as they rolled back.  Dr. Olds himself could not stand against the wind, and with trees crashing and timbers whirling through the air it seemed sure death to venture out of the house at all. By midnight our dock was swept away, the launch unroofed and sunk, the skiffs disappeared, palmetto trees torn up by the roots, the large sea grape tree in front of the house (the larger of the two trees in the photo) torn limb from limb until little more than a stump remained. No words can describe the force of those frightful gusts of wind as they beat against the poor little house – like a giant fish beating on a band box, like blows from a colossal club, each one harder than the last, getting worse, worse, incredibly worse, the house trembling and shaking, (flapping its wings: the children said), the kitchen roof rising and falling a foot or more with every gust, and each time it fell the stove pipe knocked against the stove with the weirdest sound!  Meanwhile the tide was rising a foot every five minutes, and we could see the water approaching the house.  The wind changed, and the chances were that storm and waves and wind would knock the house “all to smithereens,” as Dr. Olds said.

Go we must, but how?

Thanks Betsy. Readers, if you are interested in SW Florida history, you will love her books. Betsy’s website is www.CaxambasPublishing.com where you can see all of her books.