Tag Archives: Guest blogger

Guest Post: Raising Readers

Like a lot of modern moms, I began reading to Son No. 1 in utero. I wanted to give him every possible advantage on his life’s journey—a head start of sorts—so I read little board books aloud to him as he floated in his temporary home of embryonic goo and poked his elbows into my ribs. I imagined his brain absorbing those words and ideas, his heart calmed by the steady measure of my voice.

When Son No. 1 was eighteen months old, he would refuse to lie down for a nap until I’d read one of his little books. By that time, I was awaiting the arrival of Son No. 2 and was absolutely exhausted more often than not. Sometimes I’d turn two pages instead of one or pretend the story was finished when it wasn’t, and he’d usually catch me and complain vociferously. All that mattered was the book.

While his second-place status meant he rarely had my full attention, Son No. 2 did get to hear me read to Son No. 1 every single day from his crib or from his bouncy seat perched on the kitchen table or from his blanket on the living room floor next to the dog. And he tagged along on wobbly legs as we visited the library week after week, listening to stories read aloud by the librarians and then picking out our own jewels to take home.

Does having that all-important head start make kids joyful, enthusiastic readers, lovers of books great and small? You bet it does, as least in our case! Son No. 1 still loves to read. He loves to read so much, in fact, that he’ll continue to read when he should be getting ready for school or making his way to the dinner table or going to bed. I sometimes have to surreptitiously insert a bookmark and close a book with his nose still in it to make him stop reading.

I’m at home wherever there are books, and I’m the type of mom who thinks hanging out at the library on a Saturday afternoon is fun. And while my boys may hem and haw at the idea of having to set foot inside an actual library during summer vacation, they immediately zoom off in different directions as soon as the door opens before them, Son No. 1 to find the latest Percy Jackson or Heroes of Olympus installment, Son No. 2 to the comics section, searching in vain for a Calvin and Hobbes collection he hasn’t yet devoured.

So what do you do if your son or daughter isn’t a born reader? Every kid has an interest, and every interest, no matter how obscure, has had a book or magazine devoted to it. Is your son begging for a hermit crab, guinea pig, or gerbil? Say OK but only if he first reads up on how to care for said pet. Does your daughter want to learn to water-ski in Sarasota Bay? There’s a magazine for that called—you guessed it—Water Ski.

A Land Remembered Student EditionAnd—oh, yeah—read with and to your kids, no matter how old they are. Last year, Son No. 2’s teacher read the student version of Patrick Smith’s A Land Remembered aloud to the class. Every student loved it. Even those kids who weren’t avid readers enjoyed listening to a simply worded, action-packed historical novel read slowly and purposefully by a teacher who understood the power of a well-placed pause. They could identify with Zech MacIvey, a boy their own age, even though Zech’s story takes place 150-plus years before their own. And they could identify with their patient teacher, who obviously loved the book as much as they did.

Kris Rowland is a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader whose clients include Pineapple Press.

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Guest blog: News About Driving on Outer Banks beaches

The National Park Service is initiating an ORV (off-road vehicle) plan for Outer Banks (NC) beaches. This new regulation will go into effect on February 15, 2012. Some things you need to know before you go:

  • An ORV permit will be required from now on.
  • Every vehicle must have an ORV permit. No piggybacking off someone
  • else’s permit.
  • You must not exceed the speed limit, which is 15mph, unless otherwise posted.
  • There are two types of permits issues: ($50) weekly and ($120) annually. Note: No day rate but there is limited access on Hatteras and Ocracoke beaches.
  • The permits may be obtained at NPS offices during normal business hours, seven days a week, (but not prior to 2/15/12) at :
  1. Bodie Island at the north end of the Coquina Beach parking lot (8101 NC 12 Highway, Nags Head, NC);
  2. Hatteras Island by the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Visitor Center (46368 Lighthouse Road, Buxton, NC);
  3. Ocracoke Island by the NPS visitor center (40 Irvin Garrish Highway, Ocracoke, NC).

You must have a valid driver’s license and vehicle registration. You will be required to fill out a form, pay the money, and watch a brief educational video.

The permit must be prominently displayed on your vehicle while engaging in off-road driving. Maps are available that show designated ORV areas at the permit offices and OB visitor centers, as well as on their website, www.nps.gov/caha

For more information, call 252-473-2111 or visit the park website at: www.nps.gov/caha.

Terrance Zepke, author of Coastal North Carolina and Lighthouses of the Carolinas
Guest Blogger

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Wildlife Rescuers—Responding to Human Impacts

A guest blog by Bonnie Nickel, author of Those Mischievous Monkeys.

There are wildlife rescue groups throughout the state of Florida and beyond, including our own Wildlife Center of Venice, started in 2004. Ours, like many, operates solely on donations from the community, receives no government funding, and is staffed almost entirely by dedicated volunteers.

The facility sits just outside of town and on my research trip, all was quiet with the exception of the rustling wings of a flock of opportunistic vultures looking for a free handout. By mid-day, breakfast had been served and the sick had been tended to. When I arrived, one of the founders and licensed rehabilitators, Linda, was feeding the newest drop-off, a young southern flying squirrel, mauled by a domestic cat.

Young squirrels, rabbits, and birds are frequent patients of the center. When asked, center volunteers said that keeping domestic cats indoors would prevent many injuries they treat. Birds in particular are well-represented at the center. A variety of injuries, from golf ball strikes and fishing line entanglements, to a direct and deliberate strike by a kayak paddle (no kidding), land birds at the center. Over half the birds recover and can be released to the wild. The scores of orphaned squirrels, raccoons, and other mammals have a higher release rate and are often released in the groups in which they have been raised. Occasionally, a rehabilitated but unreleasable bird or animal will be sent to another facility to provide companionship for another unreleasable critter of the same species.

On the day I visited, the center housed herons, anhingas, pelicans (including the unreleasable blind pelican hit by a paddle), eagles, a hawk, a northern gannet, a frigate bird, an owl or two, a purple gallinule, a sandhill crane, 30+ raccoons, an equal number of squirrels, and a tortoise. Since the objective is to return wildlife to its habitat, encounters with humans are minimized and the center is only open to those dropping off injured wildlife.

After years of work, the infrastructure of the center is really taking shape. Donated metal shelters for raccoons replace older wire and wooden enclosures. Eagle scouts have constructed several individual structures for squirrels and large birds. Plans are being hatched for a new hospital structure and a 100-foot flyway for rehabilitating larger bird species. The latter project is next on the to-do list and will be accomplished with help from the Sarasota Bay Parrot Head Club—they are hosting a Casino Night fundraiser on January 20, 2012 with donations going to the Center.

Any wildlife center is, by necessity, a community effort. Besides frequent fundraisers, and dozens of volunteers, our center relies on professionals in the community for veterinary care, and local businesses for food and services. The center participates in a program with the local community college allowing students to earn course credit while volunteering at the center.  This is an excellent opportunity to develop the next generation of wildlife rescuers and enthusiasts.

The center counts 20 volunteers among it wildlife rescuers—those that actually trap or capture injured wildlife. Some of the most effective rescuers are former hunters. They have the skills required to trap an injured bird or animal and a mindset now focused on conservation. The thrill of the chase still exists but the stakes are higher. For the bird with the fishing line wrapped around its beak, or the fledgling eagle that has lost its parents, the rescue can be a matter of life or death. And the rescuers are persistent. One rescuer responded over 15 times before conditions were just right to trap an injured bird. The great blue heron required a foot amputation because of ever-tightening fishing line around its leg. So far, it is responding well and will likely be released.

One of the center’s few paid employees (funds donated by a local foundation) fields 30-60 calls per day. Not all are rescue requests. Some callers seek information about wildlife in their yard giving the center an opportunity to educate residents about local fauna. The staff and volunteers view community education as one of their critical missions. A little curiosity about our natural surroundings, along with the knowledge imparted by wildlife enthusiasts, can go a long way toward adjusting our actions in ways that will prevent many of the injuries seen at the center. Small actions like properly disposing of fishing line, keeping domestic cats indoors, and refraining from feeding wildlife are simple and effective. Oh yeah, and don’t hit birds with your paddle.

At the center, there are always animals to feed, laundry and dishes to be washed, buildings to maintain, wildlife to capture and transport, events to plan, presentations to give, articles to write, the list goes on. No skill goes unused. Hands-on help, donations of supplies, monetary donations, or attendance at fundraisers like the Casino Night are all helpful. Check the website of the center nearest you to see how you can help.

This is critical work, but in the end, are we just tinkering around the margins by rescuing individual birds and mammals? Maybe, but until there’s a sea change in how we treat nature, wildlife centers help maintain endangered, threatened, and keystone species that may otherwise disappear from the planet. The individuals who engage in this noble work deserve our deepest thanks and whatever support we can afford.

Good news on the global conservation front has been scant lately. I ask myself, is it worth itemizing the good news when it’s vastly outnumbered by the bad? I think so. It’s that little thing called hope—focusing on the good bits while we work on ways to negate the bad. Fortunately there’s been some good news around the world lately about reassessing human priorities. Success in this area may translate into good news for the natural world. In the meantime, here are some glimmers of hope:

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Guest Post: In Search of Good News by Bonnie Nickel

Bad news is easy to find. Whether it’s the economy, the environment, politics, or general societal gloom and doom, you don’t need to search far—it’s right there, in your face.

If you look hard enough though, it is possible to find good news.  It may not top the news stories, and you may need to turn over a few more rocks, but it’s out there. So that’s the challenge I’ve set for myself (and you, if you’re willing)—to find good news in bad times. And since I spend some of my time working on animal conservation issues I’m going to start there.

Tuesdays at dawn you’ll find me on the beach in search of sea turtle tracks, big and small. Early in the season it’s all about tracking the mama turtles to find the nests. Later in the summer we’re thrilled by the sight of tiny hatchling tracks winding their way to the water’s edge. I volunteer with the Coastal Wildlife Club (more about them in a later post) and the good news is that nesting numbers are up this year! Well, yes, there’s a caveat. They’re higher than last year, but lower than 10-15 years ago. But it’s still good news.

My small contribution pales in comparison to the work of others. Some turtle patrollers are out there 2, 4, even 7 days a week! That is good news.

There was good news for one sea turtle in another part of Florida last week. Andre the green sea turtle was given a second chance at life in the wild. You can hear the story here.

In this part of Florida we also have a fabulous wildlife rehabilitation center. The volunteers are amazing in their dedication and tireless in their work. We also have a hard-working group protecting shorebirds on our local beaches.  I’ll share more about both groups in a future blog.

And beyond Florida the good news just keeps coming…a Mexican bird park is re-establishing endangered species; Happy Feet, the wayward emperor penguin that washed up on the shores of New Zealand has 120,000 internet followers; researchers have a new tool to help document animals in their natural habitat (more details of this photo study can be found here);  and finally, new species of monkeys are being discovered—from titis in the Amazon, to snub-nosed monkeys in Myanmar.

There are people working tirelessly to protect and conserve species all across the globe. Yes it’s true that we’re the reason these animals struggle to survive. Whether it’s habitat destruction, air and water pollution, or repercussions from a warming planet, we are the problem. The bad news sneaks in anyway but I see it as another reason for each of us to participate in the solutions.

I’ll be spotlighting some of our local (and not so local) conservation groups in future blogs. In the meantime, take a look around your town. There are definitely people hard at work there too. We’d love more good news, so tell us what’s happening in your area. Maybe you’ll pique someone’s interest and we’ll create another champion for wildlife. It’s worth a try, don’t you think?

Bonnie is the author of Those Mischievous Monkeys (coming January 2011). She teaches people about conservation and sustainability—how to use less water, electricity, fuel, and other stuff—so that humans, animals (including monkeys!), trees, and plants can all share the planet and pass it along to the next generation. Originally from Canada, Bonnie now lives in Florida with her husband Jim and their two mischievous dogs, Cooper and Joie.

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Looking for Pirates in the Carolinas? A Guest Post by author Terrance Zepke

Look no further, you brave soul. They’re all over the Carolinas. Here are a few suggestions:

There’s a new Blackbeard exhibit at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, North Carolina. It has artifacts from the famous pirate’s shipwreck, Queen Anne’s Revenge. While the exhibit is permanent, the artifacts will change periodically. www.ncmaritimemuseums.com/beaufort.html

Check out the pirate museum inside Teach’s Hole on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina. The gift shop, which opened in 1992, claims to have more than 1,000 pirate-theme items for sale, as well as a small pirate museum. www.teachshole.com

The Pirate Voyage is an extravagant dinner show that opened in June 2011 at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina that includes a huge pirate battle. www.piratesvoyage.com

Pirate Invasion is a big, annual festival that takes place in Beaufort, North Carolina every August. Participants will enjoy a pirate attack, treasure hunt, face painting, music, special tours, and much more. www.beaufortpirateinvasion.com

Charleston was a big hangout for pirates during the era of Blackbeard. Take a guided tour to learn more about the Golden Age of Piracy and to see where some of them were hanged! The guide wears a pirate costume complete with a colorful macaw perched on his shoulder. www.charlestonpiratetour.com

Terrance Zepke
www.terrancezepke.com
Author of Pirates of the Carolinas and Pirates of the Carolinas for Kids

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Conceptual editing for fiction, by June Cussen


Conceptual editing for fiction

There’s much to think about here. You can certainly make the artistic case that for fiction the editor must give a much freer hand to the writer. We are, after all, speaking about Literature here when we speak of novels. (Say: LIT-ra-chuh.) The writer is creator here, the God role. Who dares edit? We’ll keep that issue in editing fiction in mind as we go, letting it temper big decisions, being humbly aware that the editor did not have to face that blank page.

As always, I start with the reader. And these hard days you have to think of the reader as buyer. Who will buy this book? We covered that in earlier acquisition ruminations, but that too must be kept in mind by the editor as juggler. Three balls in the air: writer (Father), reader (Son), editor (humble ghost). So, as the editor considers the overall story of this piece of fiction, she must consider what reader it is aimed at (age, sex) as well as what genre it might be placed in. If it’s a literary novel, the writer may be more likely to prevail, if a genre novel like a Western or a romance or a mystery, the reader usually reigns. Of course there will always be the unclassifiable, and here the editor must step carefully, first considering that most authors feel that their work is beyond categorization. But I tell them, yeah, but librarians will do it anyway. Be prepared.

Keeping the reader in mind will help the editor make sure of consistency. This becomes more of an issue in copyediting where we have to remember to keep a character’s eyes blue all the way through the book if they start out that way. But even in conceptual editing, consistency rears its hobgoblin head. The tone cannot jump from deep to whimsical, serious to silly—unless of course that is part of the author’s design and it works within the context of the whole.

Story: that’s what a novel tells. Aristotle had it right with insisting on a beginning, a middle, and an end, with rising action, a climax, and falling action. The editor needs to make sure that the tension is created, holds, and is released. Beginnings are always hard. The writer has to establish the characters, the time, the place, the feel, and get us hooked into what’s going on without boring us before we get to the real action. Some writing guidelines tell the author to do that by first having a walloping action scene before anything else. Well, maybe. Sometimes that works. But I’ve read way too many manuscripts that start out with something either preposterous or truly awful in the attempt to hook us in. I’m usually just put off and don’t even want to read the rest.

The conceptual editor will have to make sure the whole story gets told, that bits don’t dangle at the end (unless this is a series and you want to hook readers for more). This is particularly true for mysteries. We have to find out whodunit, and it has to be consistent with all the details all the way through.

Character: They are people and must feel, think, and behave like real ones. Real ones aren’t always consistent, but in a story they need to be consistent enough to make the action work. The editor will note if a character suddenly does something out of character just to make the plot work. There’s always that tension between character and action. The editor will see that one does not exist merely to serve the other.

Editing fiction is a pleasure—the icing on the editorial cake—not that editing botanical keys is not tons of fun (wherein you spend days checking Latin names and learn the meaning of words like dentate and scandent). And working with fiction authors is usually a pleasure too, unless they take the God role too seriously.

Here’s my animal photo today. It’s turtle hatching season around here on the Gulf coast of Florida. This little loggerhead is heading toward the water. If you live near the beach, be sure your outside lights are off at night or little guys like this one will head the wrong way thinking your light is moonlight on the water.

Leatherback turtle

June Cussen

— June Cussen, Pineapple Press

@pineapplejune

www.pineapplepress.com

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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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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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