#Updates – #TenThingsLists – #RiverOfLakesHeritageCorridor – #NationaScenicByway – #FloridaWildlife – #FloridaBirds

Hi, Everyone! Just wanted to let it be known that I’ll be gone for several hours tomorrow. For the first time in THREE MONTHS, I’ll be giving a wildlife talk at Enterprise Museum, and I can’t wait! Boy, have I missed chatting with everyone, and sharing some laughs, while talking about our fabulous wildlife down here. Wish me luck. I’ll probably be pretty whipped by the time I get home, but it will be SO worth it to be getting back to the things I love to do! Yay!

Also wanted to thank everyone who has responded to my announcement about taking part in the #TenThingsYouMayNotKnowAboutMe feature here on TWS. I’ve already filled up several dates, but here are the Wednesdays still left open, if you want to join in the fun:

March 30
June 22
July 6 & 20
August 3, 17, & 31
September 14
October 12 & 26
November 29 & 23
December 7 & 21

The rest have been taken or removed due to conflicts with my own schedule, but that still leaves us with 14 Wednesdays from now until year’s end. Would love to have someone scheduled for every one of them, so give it some consideration and let me know if you’d like me to hold one of these days for you. (First-come, first-served basis). I’ll check my emails as soon as I get home tomorrow and get right back to anyone who has contacted me.

Thanks to those who jumped right on this, and to each of you who’s thinking about joining in. It’s gonna be fun!

And now … I’ve got a talk to be ready for, so back to thinking about the celebration of the River of Lakes Heritage Corridor and  National Scenic Byway. *goes off mumbling  “Alligators and foxes and manatees, oh my!”*

#Reminder – #HugeSale – #SwampGhostsExcerpt – #AlertTheMedia

I‘m back, this time to share an excerpt from my first Riverbend book, Swamp Ghosts.  Yep, the big $.99 sale is still going on, and I hope some of you will be intrigued enough by this excerpt to take advantage of this most excellent price! Oh, and please feel free to pass the news of the sale along far and wide, too.  Thanks so much for all your support and encouragement. 



EXCERPT FROM SWAMP GHOSTS: Riverbend Book 1

THE CAR BUMPED and rocked as he drove down the rutted dirt road, steering by a wash of silver light from the gibbous moon. Only a few more nights until it was completely full, making the road nearly as bright as it would be by day, but there was still enough light tonight to see that the way ahead was clear—except for the tall grasses and weeds, indicating no one had driven the road in a long time. That was all the visibility he needed. Not much chance of meeting anyone along such a remote stretch of river, anyway, especially since the state had bought this entire tract of land a few years ago, and chained off all the roads, posting No Access signs everywhere. Still, he wasn’t going to tempt fate by turning on his headlights. Not with what he was carrying in the back on this summer night.

Should be nearing the old canoe launch any time now.

He squinted, peering at the road ahead, waiting to see moonlight on water, and sure enough, there it was. Slowing down, he pulled the SUV into the small turn-around, cut the engine and climbed out, stretching his arms and rolling his shoulders to release the tension from the long drive.

The drive’s always the most dangerous part. Too many ways for something to go wrong. Too many things I can’t control. But no need to worry about that now. No one stopped me. No one even noticed me. And here I am. Just me and the mosquitoes.

Of course, that wasn’t true. There were plenty of other things in his immediate vicinity, but he paid no attention to the sounds of a Florida river at night. Green tree frogs and narrow-mouthed toads sang in a shrill chorus, punctuated now and then by the loud “Kronk!” of the much larger pig frogs. Small animals slipping through the palmettos and underbrush rustled here and there. The high-pitched chirps of flying squirrels sounded from the trees, until the soft trill of a screech owl made them take cover. The night was full of noises, all ignored, as he walked to the rear of his vehicle and opened the tailgate. He eyed the bundle inside with irritation.

Hate hauling that dead weight, dammit! May as well get to it, though. It’s not gonna get any lighter while I stand here wasting time.

And with that thought, he dragged the bundle halfway out and lifted it up over one broad shoulder, bending slightly under the load. Then he walked down to the water’s edge and stopped for a brief moment, considering.

Nope. Way too shallow here. Too easy to spot, in case someone ever does paddle this way again.

Instead, he turned to his right and made his way down a narrow and heavily overgrown path that followed the curve of the stream. It was slow going for a hundred yards or more, with branches and palmetto fronds slapping him in the face and scraping at his arms. Sweat trickled down into his eyes, stinging like fury, but even as hot as he was, he was glad he had thought to wear long sleeves. They at least afforded him a bit of protection from scratches and the relentless mosquitoes, which swarmed his head in a hungry cloud. Repellent kept most of them from biting, but it was hard to breathe without sucking them into his mouth or nose, and their humming grew louder with every slow step he took.

Gritting his teeth, he shifted the weight on his shoulder, and plowed ahead.

Seems to be a longer haul each time, but it can’t be much farther now.

He pushed his way through the worst of the underbrush, and there it was—a small open area on a raised embankment, about four feet above the water. He walked to the edge and dumped his burden on the dirt beside him. Taking a deep breath, he stretched his arms, rolling his shoulders once more.

Damn. Ought to be an easier way to do this. Probably is. But not likely to be as efficient.

Untying the lengths of white rope from each end of his bundle, he opened up the blue plastic tarp. For a moment, he admired his handiwork, once again congratulating himself on his hunting skills, and his ability to outsmart the law. Those clowns had no idea who they were up against.

Snickering, he dragged the tarp closer to the water’s edge. He snapped it sharply toward himself, lifting up on the edge of the plastic, and spilling the contents down the bank, where they landed with a splash in the shallow water below. He stood there, folding up the tarp and watching the moonlit surface of the creek. Within seconds, ripples appeared on the other side, rushing toward him, but slowing as they neared his offering. He waited just long enough to watch the huge head come out of the water, jaws wide, before he turned and walked away. The sounds of thrashing and tearing followed him halfway back to his car.

Alligators. Nature’s best garbage disposals. Soon, there won’t be much left of that little package for anyone to find.

He tossed the folded tarp into his car, and climbed in, just as the first fat raindrops began splatting against his dusty windshield. Within seconds, the water was coming down like only a Florida rainstorm can, heavy and fast. It would be over just as quickly as it started, but not before wiping away all traces of his visit.

He snickered again. Right on time, and thank you, Mother Nature. No need to worry about evidence left behind now. It will all be washed away.

He turned the SUV around, and headed back to civilization, smiling the whole way, and wondering how much longer it would be before some sharp-eyed detective or reporter began to connect the dots. He almost wished they would hurry it up, so he could find out what they would call him.

After all…Son of Sam, The Boston Strangler, The Night Stalker…all the good ones have names.


DOWNLOAD SWAMP GHOSTS HERE


Hope you enjoyed that little trek through the Florida swamps! To find out more about what’s lurking there, head right on over to Amazon and download your copy of Swamp Ghosts today! Thanks so much for reading along today!

#ReblogAlert – Swamp Ghosts featured on Smorgasbord Today!

Today, I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of one of Sally Cronin’s newest features, Sharing an Excerpt from a Previous Book.  I hope you’ll stop by and check out the excerpt I’ve chosen, part of the Prologue from my second book, Swamp Ghosts. It was a trip to write this scene, and I hope you’ll enjoy it. But rest assured, the entire book is not a walk through this guy’s mind. It’s an introduction to a small, Florida town, filled with mostly friendly, though often eccentric folks, who have no idea what’s lurking in the shadows. And oh, yeah, there IS a love story, too, as the wonderful review Sally included mentions.  

Hope you’ll head over and see for yourself, and will remember that this is an offer open to all, as well. Sally includes instructions on how to submit YOUR own excerpt from an older book, and you really should take advantage of the opportunity. 

My heartfelt thanks to Sally for all she does to help us promote our work! And to see what’s afoot in Riverbend via her wonderful post, click HERE. 

THANKS!

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! 🙂