Have a Great Saturn’s Day!

indigo bunting bird perched amid greeneryIndigo Bunting
(Image found on Pixabay)

Hope everyone is set for a great weekend! I’m off to do a talk at one of my two favorite venues, the beautiful DeBary Hall. Today, I’m going to help folks learn to identify some of the less common backyard birds they might see visiting their feeders, including the gorgeous indigo bunting above. (And his even more gorgeous cousin, the painted bunting, surely a contender for the most beautiful songbird in the world.)

It’s so wonderful to have a safe place to get out once again to share some nature talks with folks in this area! I missed that more than anything else during the year I was pretty much in total isolation.  Between DeBary Hall and the wonderfully restored 1930s schoolhouse that is now Enterprise Museum, I have met some of the nicest people in the world. LOVE talking to them!

See you when I get back!

Photo of DeBary Hall Historic ManorDeBary Hall Historic Manor

#WritingRambles #amwriting – Writing “What You Know?”

Good Morning, Folks!

It’s a lovely, sunny Sunday in central Florida, after a drizzly, gray Saturday. Happily, yesterday’s weather didn’t stop anyone from attending my talk on Owls at the gorgeous DeBary Hall Historic Mansion.

In fact, we had four extras show up, but had plenty of open space at the back of the room to accommodate them at a safe distance from everyone else. And as you can see from this week’s header image above, I’m still in an owlish kinda mood. (This is a barred owl, btw, my favorite of all.) And talking about these wonderful birds yesterday, gave me the idea for this post today. 

We’re often encouraged or advised to “write what we know,” and in general, I tend to do that, as all of my books are set in the southern part of the United States (just as *I* am), and feature the kinds of people I’ve known all my life. (Except for the serial killer in Swamp Ghosts. I confess, I’ve known some unpleasant folks over the years, but none that I know of have ever gone so far as to kill people and feed ’em to the local alligators! 😉 )

But, in general, I do write people I understand and who speak in a manner I’m familiar with. I also go a step farther by including habitats and wildlife I’m familiar with, too. I like to set up a scene so that readers will feel like they’re “there” along with the characters. For me, this can include describing a canoe trip on the St. John’s river, or a walk through a Florida wetlands area, or a slippery climb down a rock face beside a North Carolina waterfall. I think many of us do this when setting up a scene, and if done well, I believe (hope!) it makes it all more real to readers. But I want to take it a step farther today.

Here’s my question for you: do you ever include things from your real life that only your friends or family would likely recognize? Maybe as a private joke, or maybe simply because whatever it is happens to fit well with what you’re writing? I do, even though I don’t set out with that in mind. It’s just that as I’m typing along, I think of a familiar item or happening, or even a line of dialogue, that is part of my life in one way or another, and find myself including it.

For example, in Swamp Ghosts, one of my secondary (but pretty important) characters is Lester Purvis who drives an ancient, primer red and gray, 1967 VW bus. I’m very familiar with this bus, as is everyone who knows Mark and I, because it’s parked in our garage. My husband has had it since the early 80s, and, like Lester, has always planned to restore it to its former glory. (He drives it for short errands on the weekends, and can’t stop at a traffic light without someone pulling up beside it and yelling out to ask if it’s for sale.) You would be staggered to know how much he’s been offered for it, even with all the body work it needs. Apparently, being the last year they made VWs with the split windshield gives it some serious collectability. 


(Taken many years ago. Nothing much has changed.)

The VW is one of the more obvious personal tidbits I’ve tucked into my books, just for fun, but I find myself drawing on small events and funny moments from my own life fairly often. I’ve also mentioned a real person now and then, like my friend Bev who owns the DeBary Nursery, where my character Willow Greene likes to buy plants for her herb garden. Heck, even the barred owl that greets Sarah on her arrival at Wake-Robin Ridge is taken from my life. Everything is fair game, I figure, as long as it doesn’t violate anyone’s privacy, and it actually fits into the moment I’m writing about. (Bev was thrilled, btw. She sells my books at her shop and one of her customers who’d bought a copy of Finding Hunter from her returned to get Bev’s autograph after reading the scene! 😀 )

So, your turn now. Have you ever included something of this nature in your own books? Maybe as a little nod to a friend or family member? Or just to make yourself smile as you’re writing? Tell us about it in the comments below, since, as always, inquiring minds wanna know. Especially if you’ve ever included any private jokes or situations that only some would recognize. 

Thanks! And have a beautiful, peaceful, productive day! 🙂

#SpringtimeTea #DeBaryHall – Reminder

Just a quick reminder for those of you the central Florida area. If you are planning to attend the springtime tea at DeBary Hall (11:00am, Saturday Feb 22), you need to contact the hall right away to make reservations. They have to know how many lunches to order from the caterers. 

Hope to see you there for a yummy lunch, custom teas, a reading & Q&A session with me, and a signed book of your choice, all included in the $25 cost. But don’t wait. The formal parlor area only seats about 20 folks, so don’t miss out.

Call 386-668-3840 and reserve your spot today!

Hope to see you there!

#BuildingALocalReadership – And Having Fun Doing So!

I’ve said it before and I’ll no doubt say it again, my favorite part of marketing is getting out to spend time with folks face to face. I love making new friends and seeing old ones, and for me, that means doing several presentations a month on various topics, with a signing table set up for afterward. 

I’ve spoken on all sorts of things, from writing-related themes to anything at all to do with Florida’s wildlife and natural places, always a favorite subject of mine. The point is, find something you enjoy and maybe have a bit more knowledge about than the average person, then–SHARE it! Over the past year, my talks have been focused on Central Florida’s Fabulous Wildlife, and they’ve been very well-received, happily. I love doing them, especially if I can provide some laughs along with the information I pass along, and I hope to continue doing at least 2 a month for another year or two, at least.

What are you interested in that would appeal to local audiences? Don’t forget, you can research your favorite topics online for extra information and statistics, and putting together a PowerPoint presentation is pretty easy, too. Think about it, and I’ll bet you can come up with a topic that would draw an audience. Then check your local venues for speaking opportunities. I visit with private book clubs, too, but my main focus is on the really special Enterprise Museum, and a local historic site, DeBary Hall. Both venues have wonderful staff to work with and treat me like a honored guest every time I visit with them. I love all of  them, too!

Let me know if you’ve tried anything similar, or are thinking about doing so. It’s fun. It’s FREE (and in some cases, you can charge a speaker’s fee, though I don’t), and you’ll be surprised at the folks who come to hear about local birds and leave with a book in their hands–hopefully to become a regular reader of your work.

Today, I’m off to DeBary Hall to do Part 2 of my Backyard Birds program, offering tips on how to identify the birds who pass through our yards less frequently, for various reasons. (And we have some stunning ones!) I can’t wait to get there! It’s FUN, I tell ya!

Try it. You’ll LIKE it!

My Schedule for the Rest of This Year

For you guys in this area, I still have four more presentations to give at my two public venues, Enterprise Museum and DeBary Hall. Here’s the schedule in case some of you would like to attend. (I highly encourage it. I hear these programs are GREAT. 😀 😀 😀 )

Enterprise Museum: Sat, 8/3, 1:00-3:00, FREE, No Reservations Required
“For Goodness Snakes!”

Enterprise Museum: Sat, 8/24, 1:00-3:00, FREE, No Reservations Required
“Wood Storks and Sandhill Cranes”

DeBary Hall: Sat, August 10, 1:00pm-3:00pm, FREE, No Reservation Required
“Backyard Birds Pt. 2 – The Tricky Guys”

DeBary Hall: Sat, Sept 14, 1:00pm-3:00pm, FREE, No Reservations Required
“Backyard Birds Pt 3 – Attracting Birds to Your Backyard”

I will also be doing an Autumn Tea at Enterprise Museum on September 28, at 11:00am. Cost $15, to include a yummy luncheon, my custom teas, and ME.  😀 I’ll do a reading from one of my books, take some Q&A and have a great time visiting with everyone. These are so much fun! I hope some of you will try to come. Reservations are required for sure, so they’ll have plenty of tea sandwiches and desserts for you all. 🙂 

Enterprise Museum: 60 Main St, Enterprise, FL 32725, (386) 259-5900
DeBary Hall: 198 Sunrise Blvd, DeBary, FL 32713 (386) 668-3840

My Updated Schedule of Events Through September

For those of you in the area who might like to attend some of these talks and events, here are the updated dates and topics. Had to adjust a few, due to unavoidable circumstances, but I’m still hoping to see a few of you at some of them.

NOTE: All talks are from 1:00 to 3:00pm and are FREE, no reservations required. The only exception is the Autumn Tea & Luncheon, which starts at 11:00, is $15, and for which reservations are necessary. For any other information, feel free to email me, or call DeBary Hall, 386-668-3840 or Enterprise Museum 386-259-5900.

SCHEDULE:

July 13: Backyard Birds #1 “The Usual Suspects” – DeBary Hall
July 20: Furry Critters #1 “Those Squirrely Guys” – Enterprise Museum

August 3: Florida’s Fabulous Wildlife: “For Goodness Snakes”- Enterprise Museum
August 10: Backyard Birds #2 “The Tricky Guys” DeBary Hall
August 24: Furry Critters #2 – “Raccoons & Other Raiders” – Enterprise Museum

September 14: Backyard Birds #3 – “Attracting Birds to Your Yard” – DeBary Hall
September 28: Autumn Tea & ChitChat – 11:00am – $15.00 (includes luncheon)  -Enterprise Museum RESERVATIONS REQUIRED

#CFFW – #DeBaryHall Wildlife Presentation

If you are in the area this coming Saturday, 2/10/18, I will be at DeBary Hall, presenting the first of my series, “Central Florida’s Fabulous Wildlife,” featuring the area’s most famous–or infamous–animal, the American Alligator. The presentation starts at 1:00pm. I have lots of information and a ton of great slides to share with you. Join us for what I hope will be the first of many entertaining, interesting, and informative wildlife talks. And there will be plenty of time for Questions and Answers, too.

The event is FREE, no reservation required. All you have to do is show up prepared to enjoy yourself. 🙂

Hope to see YOUR smiling face in the audience!

DeBary Hall, 198 Sunrise Blvd, DeBary, FL 32713, (386) 668-3840

 

 

Don’t Forget! #DeBaryHallHistoricSite #MeetTheFloridaAuthors

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DeBary Hall Historic Site will be hosting a “Meet The Author” event this Saturday, 12/12/15 from 10:30am – 2pm. The event will include local author Bill Belleville, an accomplished writer whose book The Peace of Blue, won a Florida Book Award; Roger Fulton, a naturalist and outdoor writer; Marcia Meara, the author of Swamp Ghosts and a number of other popular novels; Jim Robison, retired reporter and editor and author of 11 books about Central Florida history; and Ed Winn, author of a number of books about Central Florida’s history and folk stories, including his research and writing on the ancient tribes of Florida. ‪#‎MeetTheAuthor‬ ‪#‎FloridaAuthors‬ ‪#‎OrlandoAuthors‬ ‪#‎OrlandoEvents‬ ‪#‎DeBaryEvents‬ ‪#‎DeBaryHall‬ The authors will discuss, sign and sell their works in the site’s 19th century hunting lodge. The event is free.

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Come Say Hi! #MeetTheAuthor #DeBaryHall

Meet the Authors at DeBary Hall

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DeBary Hall Historic Site, 198 Sunrise Blvd., will host a free “Meet the Authors” event from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12.  Five Central Florida authors will discuss, sign and sell their works in the site’s 19th century hunting lodge.

Participating authors will include:

BILL BELLEVILLE: A Maryland native specializing in nature and conservation. He has written seven creative nonfiction books, including River of Lakes: A Journey on Florida’s St. Johns River and Losing it All to Sprawl. He also has contributed to nine national anthologies and authored more than 1,000 articles and essays. Belleville has traveled overseas as a writer for the Discovery Channel and scripted documentaries for NPR and PBS.

ROGER FULTON: A naturalist and outdoor writer who has published several successful management books and a series of trail guides for Florida, New York and Vermont. His definitive publication, Safe in the Woods, offers outdoor safety and survival tips.

MARCIA MEARA: Marcia published a book of poetry and her first novel, Wake-Robin Ridge, at age 69. Since then she has published three more novels – Swamp Ghosts, A Boy Named Rabbit,  and Finding Hunter. Her philosophy is that it’s never too late to follow your dream.

JIM ROBISON: A retired reporter and editor who has written 11 books and more than 1,600 newspaper columns about Central Florida history. He is chairman of the Seminole County Historical Commission, a past present of the Sanford Historical Society, and a board member of the Friends of Wekiva River and the Seminole County Historical Society.

ED WINN: A retired insurance executive who has published many books about Central Florida’s history and folk stories. They include My Florida Soul: Florida History with Humor, Thank You, Lord, for Laughter, and I Never Had Enough Money to Leave Town. Winn has given talks across the state about his research and writings on the ancient tribes of Florida.

Works of other local authors also will be displayed and sold at the event.

Reservations are not required. For more information contact Kayce Looper at 386-668-3840 or klooper@volusia.org.  

(NOTE: I’ll be there for the entire event, so stop by if you’re in the area. Would love to meet you!)