Category Archives: Guest blogger

Blackbeard, a guest post by author Terrance Zepke

Blackbeard Lives!

Or at least his legend does. More than 12,000 visitors have flocked to the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, North Carolina during the last few days. They came to see the new exhibit that contains artifacts which have been excavated from what is believed to have been Blackbeard’s flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge.

So far, roughly 300 items have been salvaged from the shipwreck. The project began in 1996 and is projected to continue for many more years. Most of the recovered items have never been displayed publicly so this is very exciting. Visitors have come from all over the U.S., as well as Canada, Britain, and the Netherlands, according to museum officials. The exhibit is on permanent display but the items will rotate when it is time for items to leave or go to the conservation lab.

Blackbeard was one of the most colorful pirates in the history of piracy. He died in 1718 during one of the bloodiest battles ever to be fought with the Royal Navy.

—Terrance Zepke
Author of Pirates of the Carolinas and Pirates of the Carolinas for Kids

Visit www.terrancezepke.com or go to my facebook page to learn more about ghosts of the Carolinas, piracy, lighthouses, and travel.

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Guest Post: The Grand Strand (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina)

One of the top vacation spots in the southeast is the sixty miles of South Carolina coastline that is nicknamed “The Grand Strand.” Myrtle Beach’s Grand Strand is more grand than ever, thanks to the many new attractions that have opened in the last couple of months.

The Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and Promenade meanders from 2nd avenue pier to the 14th avenue pier, allowing terrific views of the Atlantic. www.myrtlebeachdowntown.com

If it’s a pirate’s life for you, check out Pirate’s Voyage. Formerly the Dixie Stampede, Dolly Parton spent $11 million renovating the theater to create the ultimate dinner show complete with a buccaneer battle and pirate feast. www.piratesvoyage.com

Kids and adults alike will find plenty to do at WonderWorks, a new indoor family attraction near Broadway at the Beach. It a four-story building designed to look like it is upside down. The amusement park has 100 exhibits, including a simulated roller coaster and a virtual swim with sharks. The only outdoor attraction offered by WonderWorks is the Soar and Explore Zipline and Ropes Course. Soar fifty feet above the water on a course that travels 1,000 feet between towers. You can also try your hand at the pirate-themed ropes course that is more than forty feet tall and spans three levels. www.wonderworksonline.com

For a view that is 200 feet above sea level, be sure to ride the SkyWheel. This is a 187-feet Ferris wheel with forty-two temperature-controlled glass-encased gondolas. It’s the same concept as the London Eye (London, England). At night, it really comes to life with one million LED lights. There are a half-dozen other amusement rides nearby, including the Slingshot. These attractions replace the old Amusement Pavilion, which was built in 1948 and torn down in 2006. www.themyrtlebeachskywheel.com

For more on South Carolina, be sure to read Coastal South Carolina: Welcome to the Lowcountry by Terrance Zepke

Visit www.terrancezepke.com for more on ghosts, pirates, coastal history, and travel.

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Best Ways to Explore Charleston, South Carolina, A Guest Post by Terrance Zepke

“Charleston is one of the most historic, prettiest, and haunted cities in America. Thousands of tourists flock to this Lowcountry hamlet every year,
but what is the best way to experience all that Charleston has to offer?”

Charleston Ghost and Graveyard Tour takes participants around the historic district, including a creepy cemetery. Hear stories about ghosts, superstitions, haunted houses, and voodoo.  My recommendation: Adults only.

Charleston Pirate Tours is a great way to learn about Charleston and pirates who plundered the area.  My recommendation: Perfect for adults and kids of all ages.

Culinary Tours of Charleston is a 2.5-hour tour during which participants talk to the town’s top chefs (plus see behind-the-scenes of their restaurant’s kitchens) and sample yummy Lowcountry cuisine. My recommendation: Adults only.

Gullah Tours with Alphonso Brown will educate participants on who the Gullah are and how they influenced the Lowcountry. My recommendation: Adults and children ages 12+.

Palmetto Carriage Works is the best carriage company because the guides are very knowledgeable and funny. A carriage ride through historic Charleston is a “must” for tourists, but be sure to do it before the Lowcountry summer is in full swing. My recommendation: Adults and children.

For more on Charleston, be sure to read Coastal South Carolina: Welcome to the Lowcountry by Terrance Zepke

Visit www.terrancezepke.com for more on ghosts, pirates, coastal history, and travel.

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Guest Post: Do you need a publishing degree to work in publishing?

No—but there’s no denying it helps. What does a master’s degree in publishing teach you and how useful is it?

I was lucky enough to first experience the publishing industry at Pineapple Press, where I found that I wanted to learn more about it through a master’s degree in publishing. I ultimately decided to get my publishing degree at Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom, but no matter where you get your degree, the publishing industry is very similar on both sides of the Atlantic. (One of the big differences, though, is in production—paper is measured in grams and books in millimeters which, for this American, takes some getting used to!)

At Oxford Brookes, the publishing degree has four major courses:

Editing

The editing module covers the basics: learning the editing marks; learning how to edit on-screen; and the role of the editor in the publishing process. For me, our editing class wasn’t too useful as I already obtained many of the skills in my time at Pineapple Press and had no interest in becoming a full-time editor; for others, it may be among the most beneficial classes on a publishing course.

Design and Production

Design and production are a half-semester each, with the design half focusing on learning how to use Adobe InDesign through designing a cookbook. The production half covered how to put a book together—things like binding, paper weight, and a fair amount of math—and what’s suitable for certain situations, such as publishing academic monographs or trade paperbacks. I’ve been surprised by how helpful my production seminar has been; knowing how to correctly produce printed materials has been a very useful skill in my subsequent jobs.

Marketing

The marketing module not only teaches marketing in publishing, but general marketing tips and tricks. For someone who majored in medieval history as an undergraduate, it’s been incredibly useful to know how to do a SWOT analysis, marketing plan, and how to identify a target market. This class, along with New Product Development, was the most beneficial class on the course for me.

New Product Development

This class was specific to my degree program; other publishing degrees don’t typically require it. We were assigned to teams of 7 or 8 students and were responsible for creating a publishing proposal which was presented to the entire course at the end of the semester. From accounting to website design, we had to learn it all and I think it’s a good thing that my program taught us the business side of publishing, as it’s a business just like any other.

We were also required to take two electives in our second semester: mine were Rights Management and Publishing & Language Issues. All of this coursework led to our master’s thesis or final project, which was the culmination of our degree. (By the way, if you need to know anything about state-sponsored publishing in endangered languages, I’m your girl.)

So, what did I do with my degree? I ended up working at Oxford University Press UK, helping to market their scholarly reference materials and online resources, which was a great experience. Though I’ve since moved back to the US and taken some time out of the industry, I would still say that the skills I learned while doing my publishing degree have been very helpful in my career. I met someone just the other day who also has a publishing degree; both of us agreed that many of the things you learn are easily transferable to other jobs and other industries, such as developing a product from the ground up, the new frontiers of digital media, or learning to think creatively in a creative industry.

If you’re thinking about a publishing career, look into some of the programs either state-side or further afield, like Columbia, University of Denver, or Rosemont. Networking is a skill you need in publishing and by getting a degree, you’ll learn the skills needed to get into the industry and meet some great, passionate people while doing it. And who knows where you can go from there?

Caitlyn Miller is a 2008 graduate of Oxford Brookes University’s publishing program. She is currently the Center for Career Education & Off-Campus Study Assistant at New College of Florida and a freelance writer and media strategist. She can be reached via email at caitlynmiller@gmail.com or on Twitter at @NewCollegeCCE.

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The Lakeside Inn in Mount Dora, Florida, a guest post by Greg Jenkins

Spirits of an Old Florida Inn

The Lakeside Inn is one of central Florida’s best kept secrets. This modest Inn with its bed and breakfast charm, surrounded by huge canopy trees and resting on sparkling Lake Dora, is a true remnant of a more civilized time and culture from Florida’s past. Originally built in 1883 as a simple 10-room inn, it now offers Great Gatsby–like bungalows situated near the lake, a grand lobby and reception area, and the elegant Beauclaire dining room and Tremain’s Lounge. Guests desiring a brief escape from our fast and weary world will experience a fabulous, yet restful stay here. Although this lovely town offers many restaurants, antiques and variety shops, it’s the Lakeside Inn that serves as the brightest beacon to those venturing to Mount Dora…And apparently, it serves as a beacon for ghosts and other sundry spirits too.

The Lakeside Inn boasts of at least four resident ghosts. Reports of haunted experiences and accounts come from both staff and guests. Two of the spirits haunting the area in and around the Lakeside Inn are young girls dressed in costumes from various time periods. The first apparition is of a girl around the age of nine. She is believed to be Amy, a child who disappeared from the hotel around 1890. She wears a red dress and is seen standing near the lobby fireplace. Another spirit is of a girl around the age of twelve, seen sporting a blue dress, often seen smiling at a dining room table. She has been credited with moving chairs and chandeliers around the property.

Another spirit is that of a small man wearing a top hat. He has been witnessed walking through the lounge, and into the restroom, only to then disappear. Finally, there is the specter of a gangster who stares out a gable window. This dapper-dressed gentleman is believed to be the spirit of one of the many gangsters that stayed at the Lakeside Inn during the 1920s. Though he’s not dangerous, he is a bit intimidating to witnesses.

—Greg Jenkins

Greg Jenkins has close to 20 years working in the mental health and medical fields, and is currently a mental health therapist and case manager with several psychiatric and medical facilities. Since an early age, Greg has had a profound interest in the supernatural and fringe science, and after a personal experience with the unknown in 1987, he began his journey into the realms of parapsychology and all things mysterious. Greg is a folklorist and collector of oral traditions and urban legends, and is an associate member of England’s Society for Psychical Research. He has written a series of books called Florida’s Ghostly Legends and Haunted Folklore and Chronicles of the Strange and Uncanny in Florida. Reach out to Greg on Twitter @HauntedFolklore. His blog can be found at http://psiresearcher.wordpress.com.

LAKESIDE INN: 100 North Alexander Street ~ Mount Dora, FL 32757 USA

Toll Free 800.556.5016 or Local 352.383.4101

Email: info@lakeside-inn.com

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Florida Mornings, a guest post by Camo Creek Photography

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As with many people who live here in Florida, I did not grow up here. When I thought of Florida, I thought of beautiful sunsets out at the beach. I could imagine bringing my camera and snapping picture after picture of the sunsets.

After I moved here in ’93 I discovered a part of Florida that no one talks about in their vacation stories: Rural Florida. In particular for me it is a town in Manatee County called Myakka City. This is where I discovered that there was more to this beautiful state than I could ever have imagined. Among the acres and acres of orange groves and farmland are endless sightings of cows, horses, chickens, wild hogs, deer and turkey: all the things I left back home in upstate NY and never imagined finding here in Florida.

After moving to Myakka City, I discovered that Florida mornings were more beautiful than the sunsets and beaches. Out here in the mornings it is usually a little foggy and as the sun starts to rise, its brilliant colors stream through the trees and reflect off the fog. If I am fortunate, our horses will be in the right spot so that I can capture them grazing in the ribbons of colored light burning off the fog. If it looks like it is going to be a dreary day, then the dew dripping off the flowers or the silhouette of the birds against the morning fog will capture my camera lens.

And as the Florida mornings offer the promise of a new day, I will be out there with my camera trying to capture the images.

—Lisa Yow

I am a self taught recreational photographer here in Myakka City, FL. Though I never know where my camera will lead me, I mostly photograph outdoor events and nature. My photos can be viewed on Facebook at Camo Creek Photography.

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The Last Doughboy, a guest post by Zack C. Waters

The passing, on February 28, of Frank Buckles received scant coverage from the news media. He did not meet the current qualifications for celebrity. Had he been a Charlie Sheen, whose unbridled personal habits caused his hit show to be canceled; a corrupt politician, whose avarice destroyed the lives of thousands; or even a serial killer—or serial philanderer, like Tiger Woods—his antics might have stopped the presses. Frank Buckles’ death, however, went almost unnoticed.

Frank Buckles was America’s last-known surviving veteran of World War I. He was too young to fight, but his constant attempts to join the AEF (American Expeditionary Force) impressed a recruiter enough to turn a blind eye to his youth.

Buckles and my grandfather were truck drivers in France. These young idealists thought they were fighting “the War to End All Wars.” They came back to an America that soon spiraled downward into the Great Depression and the criminal violence of the Prohibition era. Worse yet, they lived long enough to send their sons and daughters to fight in the Second World War.

The Americans who fought in World War II received the moniker, “the Greatest Generation.” Their fathers, who fought in the “Great War,” were forgotten, ignored, and pushed into the dustbin of history. Few know about their battles, and even Armistice Day (November 11), the holiday that Congress enacted to honor their service, has become Veterans Day.

The last of the Doughboys are now gone. Frank Buckles passed away on February 28 at the age of 110. Peace and honor to his ashes.

Zack Waters is the author of Blood Moon Rider. He is a fifth-generation Floridian. He has a B.A. from the University of Florida and a law degree from Memphis State University. He is a frequent contributor to Civil War publications on the topic of Florida’s Confederate soldiers.

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Piracy Today, a guest post by Terrance Zepke

During the Golden Age of Piracy, which was the heyday of colorful characters like Stede Bonnet, Mary Read, and Blackbeard, piracy was a way to survive. These folks had few options for earning a living. The same is still true today. The African coast is ripe with pirates, especially the waters around Somalia, because men can earn only $2 a day doing legitimate work. Or they can score $4-5 million per heist. Last year, Somali pirates pocketed $238 million in ransoms.

Where’s our navy when we need them?

It is impossible to patrol and protect the thousands of miles of water infested with pirates. The Somali coastline is a 1,900-mile-long stretch that is one of the busiest shipping channels in the world. Add that to the fact that pirates have gone high tech and it is an impossible situation. Nowadays, pirates in this part of the world are gangs of thugs dressed in military fatigues who use GPS systems and satellite phones to define their targets. They use super fast speedboats to carry them from their “mother ship” to the target vessel. Using sophisticated weaponry, they quickly conquer the slow-moving, unarmed ship they have targeted. Another problem is that ship owners prefer to negotiate with pirates rather than try other tactics because they need to secure their vessels quickly. They could avoid these pirate-infested waters if they sailed around the Cape of Good Hope instead. But this would add another three weeks to the journey, as well as result in higher fuel costs, so they won’t do it.

So is there anything we can do about piracy?

The International Maritime Bureau was established in the early 1990s to help control the epidemic. One of the first things they did was to create a 24/7 Piracy Reporting Center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. If a ship’s captain sees anything suspicious or is being pursued by pirates, he can contact PRC and get help. Not only does this help a distressed vessel, it pinpoints the most dangerous places and warns other vessels. Additionally, PRC works with various governments and law enforcement agencies through combined efforts in an attempt to thwart piracy. If you’re interested, you can follow them on Twitter: @IMB_Piracy

During the era of Blackbeard and Captain Kidd, there wasn’t much that could be done about pirates. Because pirates were willing to “fight ‘til the death,” most captains were (and still are) reluctant to battle buccaneers. They chose to surrender instead. If engaged, pirates typically used crude weapons, such as one-shot pistols, canons loaded with whatever could serve as ammunition, and homemade grenades hurled at the pirate ship.

Today, there are many defensive products and techniques already being used to keep pirates from ever boarding a ship, as well as several other exciting tools being invented to combat piracy. One of the latest was invented by Mace Personal Defense, in conjunction with Shipboard Defense Systems. Three-hundred gallon pressurized tanks with loop piping are installed around the ship at intervals of one hundred feet. When activated, pepper spray is released. This keeps pirates from being able to get on board. This spares the crew from having to be armed and facing a shoot out with pirates or being held captive during ransom negotiations.

But despite our best efforts, piracy will continue to be a problem. There’s just too much loot to resist and too many men who like the life of a pirate…

Stay tuned for more on piracy, ghosts, lighthouses, and travel.

 

 

 

 

 

Terrance Zepke, www.terrancezepke.com

Guest Blog by Terrance Zepke, author of Pirates of the Carolinas and Pirates of the Carolinas for Kids. Terrance Zepke has written several books including Best Ghost Tales of North Carolina, Best Ghost Tales of South Carolina, Coastal North Carolina, Coastal South Carolina, Ghosts and Legends of the Carolina Coasts, Ghosts of the Carolina Coasts, Lighthouses of the Carolinas, Lighthouses of the Carolinas for Kids, and Lowcountry Voodoo.

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Guest Post: Mount Dora, Florida

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Mount Dora is many things to many people, but to me it has always been home. It’s where I learned how to ride a bike and drive a car. It’s where I had my first kiss, my first boyfriend and my first breakup. I spent most of my teenage years trying to get out of Mount Dora, but it’s the one place I had to get back to when I graduated from college.

If you can’t live here, it’s a great destination for day and weekend trips. There are several bed & breakfasts within the blocks of downtown, including the Mount Dora Historic Inn on 4th Avenue. If your accommodations don’t offer breakfast, there are several places to grab a quick bite and a cup of coffee. One Flight Up offers breakfast sandwiches, bagels, coffee and specialty espresso drinks or if you prefer more of a country cookin’ type breakfast then Chew Chew Express is the place to go.

If you’re a history buff and want to get the juicy gossip on how Mount Dora came to be, there are two different tours you can jump on. It’s best to do them early in the morning because they tend to get busy as the town wakes up. The first option is the Mount Dora Trolley Company. It was started a few years back by a mother and daughter. They really do know how to make you feel welcome. They take you by trolley all throughout the downtown area and into some residential streets, while giving you the history of our town that sits beside Lake Dora. If you prefer a more private tour then jump into a horse-drawn carriage over at A Hitch in Time Carriage Tours at the corner of 4th Avenue and Alexander Street. They do a 30–45-minute guided tour of the downtown area and it really is the best way to hoof the town without doing any of the work.

There are several specialty shops along Donnelly Avenue that can’t be found anywhere else. The Drawer Ltd. is the town hot spot for Vera Bradley, Crabtree and Evelyn, and Brighton jewelry. It’s one of the most frequented stores by the locals, and if you listen closely you’re bound to hear some town gossip. After walking through all the stores you have to stop by My Father’s Bread. They are the local celebrity in town after doing an appearance on NBC’s Today Show, and their assortment of fresh baked breads and cinnamon rolls are perfect for taking home. If you’re in the mood for ice cream, then swing through La Cremerie at Alexander Street and 3rd Avenue. They always have sixteen different flavors to choose from, all the toppings for a great sundae, and they truly make the best old-fashioned milkshakes in town.

Mount Dora is also a great place for outdoor lovers. The hills are perfect for bike enthusiasts. If you’re a boater, there is a public boat ramp down past the marina, and there are several golf courses nearby.

While Mount Dora is a great place to visit any day of the year, the best time to make a trip is during the holiday season. Here are the top five  holiday festivities that can’t be missed:

1. Light Up Mount Dora is always first to kick off the holiday season. This year it will be the Saturday night after Thanksgiving (November 26). The entire downtown area is blocked off from traffic, and when they flip the switch at 6:30 p.m. the entire Donnelly Park is lit by over two million twinkling Christmas lights high above in the trees.

2. The Christmas Walk is the first weekend in December. It’s a holiday street party with music, drinks, food, and entertainment out on the streets of downtown. The shops stay open late and carolers in time-period costumes make their way through the crowd caroling as they go (December 2).

3. The Boat Parade is the next night (December 3) just past dark. It takes place down along the shore of Lake Dora. Boats of all different shapes and sizes are decorated with strands and strands of lights that illuminate off the water.

4. The Christmas Movie in the Park takes place the second Friday in December. A large crowd gathers in Donnelly Park in front of a huge movie screen, and they bring their chairs and spread out blankets to watch a Christmas movie under the twinkling Christmas lights in the trees.

5. Snow in the Park is the second Saturday night of December and snow always finds its way into Donnelly Park for the younger kids to go sledding down the steep hill. When it’s really cold, the snow tends to last well into the next day, but there have been some warmer years where the snow started melting as soon as it hit the ground. (Truth in advertising: Mt. Dora has a snow-making machine.)

Overall, Mount Dora is a great place to live or visit any time of year. We truly have something for everyone. If you plan to take a trip soon, I am always more than happy to offer up recommendations when it comes to Mount Dora. Feel free to send me a message at: artinthedeal@gmail.com. You can also visit http://www.whattodoinmtdora.com/

Erika Bennett, Art of Living

I am a book designer at a publishing company in Orlando and when I’m not working, I’m blogging about the funny mishaps of life after college. I was born and raised in Mount Dora, FL, and left to attend college in Boca Raton, FL. After four years and one college degree later, I moved back to the town I call home, Mount Dora.

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Piracy: Dead or Alive?, a guest post by Terrance Zepke

According to most experts, the ‘Golden Age of Piracy’ was the 1650s – 1720s. This was era of the legendary Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, Anne Bonny, ‘Calico Jack’ Rackham, Henry Morgan and many other nefarious buccaneers. The biggest reason for the piracy outbreak was the War of Spanish Succession (Queen Anne’s War). This was the height of piracy—perhaps until now.

If you’ve been watching the news lately, you already know that piracy is out of control. Cruise ships, freighters, yachts, and tankers are all targets these days. There are two types of pirates. Less sophisticated pirates seize a vessel and grab whatever booty is on board, just like in the good ole days. A new crop of hardcore pirates capture the ships and crews and hold them until a profitable ransom can be negotiated.

Last year, a U.S. cargo ship was captured by pirates off the Horn of Africa. Captain Richard Phillips surrendered himself to the pirates to keep his twenty-member crew safe during the ransom negotiations. The U.S. Navy soon rescued Captain Phillips and captured the pirates.

This month, a supertanker sailing from the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Mexico was hijacked while carrying $150 million worth of oil. This is the second attack on an oil tanker in two days. Negotiations are still underway, and if successful, pirates could make as much as $10 million off this prize.

The most recent piracy attack on four Americans aboard a yacht has shocked the world. Until now, pirates have not killed hostages. They use them to negotiate a ransom and then let them go. While the Navy was in talks with some of the pirates holding these two couples, other pirates fatally shot them using a rocket-propelled grenade followed by gunfire. Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle and Jean and Scott Adam were killed while sailing around the world handing out Bibles. The pirates have been captured and may face U.S. prosecution. It depends on jurisdictional issues since piracy occurs in international waters, which creates further problems when it comes to capturing and punishing the criminals.

Stay tuned for more posts from Terrance on piracy, ghosts, lighthouses, and travel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terrance Zepke, www.terrancezepke.com

Guest Blog by Terrance Zepke, author of Pirates of the Carolinas and Pirates of the Carolinas for Kids. Terrance Zepke has written several books including Best Ghost Tales of North Carolina, Best Ghost Tales of South Carolina, Coastal North Carolina, Coastal South Carolina, Ghosts and Legends of the Carolina Coasts, Ghosts of the Carolina Coasts, Lighthouses of the Carolinas, Lighthouses of the Carolinas for Kids, and Lowcountry Voodoo.

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