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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Florida, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 67
1. The rapidly growing senior population [infographic]

Today is National Senior Citizen’s Day. It’s a time to celebrate the older, wiser individuals of our society who have achieved so much over the last several decades of their lives, and still have more of an impact to make.

The post The rapidly growing senior population [infographic] appeared first on OUPblog.

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2. Earth Day 2015: "Everglades Litany"





and blessed be the morning star in the arms of gumbo limbo
blessed be the sun on the cruciform wings of anhingas
blessed be the wind where ospreys and black vultures ride
blessed be zebra butterflies on crowns of tamarind
blessed be lightning on the spires of royal palms.
blessed be wildfires that temper berries of the green hawthorn
blessed be hurricanes that tear at the bark of tallowwood and bay-cedars
blessed be bracken and wild olives huddled by salt marshes
blessed be august heat that rasps the throat of morning glories
blessed be panthers and deer hiding behind a screen of leatherwood
blessed be brown pelicans grunting in mangroves after thunderstorms
blessed be the evening star over aisles of magnolias
blessed be barred owls cooing by swamps and hardwood hammocks
blessed be june beetles dusting pollen off their backs in the damp air
blessed be woodstorks and spoonbills wading through resurrection ferns
blessed be chanterelles, their yellow plumes rising from oak and pine
blessed be the moon ripening with pond apples on the banks of canals
blessed be dew and mist, fog and hail, falling on blades of  sugar cane
blessed be  loggerhead turtles lumbering past the thorns of anemones
blessed be, blessed be all that move, live, and breathe on the edge of these lakes
blessed be, blessed be... everything


Geoffrey Philp

Excerpt from xango music: http://www.amazon.com/Xango-Music-Geoffrey-Philp/dp/1900715465
 
 

 
 

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3. The Great American Road Trip

Partially packed, but ready to go.

Partially packed, but ready to go.

This month my family and I returned from our LONGEST ROAD TRIP EVER. Longest in duration (one month), if not in miles (3,033).

We started from our home base in Rockford, IL and drove through eight states: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, N. Carolina, S. Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, stopping in various towns along the way. What were some of the biggest differences between all these states? Well the gas price for one thing: varying by 60 cents, and the temperature: a high of 104 ° F in Georgia and a low 48 ° F in Illinois. Our journey looked like this:

The long and winding road.

The long and winding road.

Did I mention there are five of us? By the time we were done, as you can imagine, we pretty much had had enough “family time”. There is a phenomenon known as too much vacation. When we finally got home we didn’t even unpack. Instead we separated to our individual rooms.

madcatAlthough we were glad our trip was over, we did accumulate some great memories along the way. Like when we went to the Driftwood Beach at Jekyl Island. Very hot day, very cool views.

Driftwood Beach, Jekyl Island, GA

Driftwood Beach, Jekyl Island, GA

And walking the beach while the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico. Phenomenal. I’d honestly never seen sand turn pink before.

Sunset at the beach, St. Petersburg, FL

Sunset at the beach, St. Petersburg, FL

And of course a trip to Florida is never complete without a jump over to Orlando. For . . . you know . . . Harry.

Hogwarts castle, World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios, Orlando, FL

Hogwarts castle, World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios, Orlando, FL

My enthusiasm at World of Harry Potter easily trumped my kids’. One of my favorite memories was having a woman’s portrait in the Hall of Portraits blink when I took her photograph using my flash.

Hall of Portraits, Hogwarts Castle, World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios, Orlando, FL

Hall of Portraits, Hogwarts Castle, World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios, Orlando, FL

On the other hand, one of my youngest daughter’s favorite recollections wasn’t eating at great local restaurants, swimming in dozens of different swimming pools, or exploring southern architecture. Nope. It was rescuing someone’s Barbie from a perilous fate.

Tortured Barbie left at the beach, owner unknown

Tortured Barbie left at the beach, owner unknown

She (Barbie) is currently in quarantine.

Mad cat photo © Nikolai Nikonov, text added; all other photos © Karin Blaski; route map © mapquest

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4. Website Down, The Mouse, and School Visits

Hello all! It's another dreary day here in the Sunshine State. I like to tell people we have only two seasons: hot, and hot and rainy. Do not visit THE MOUSE in summer! You'll likely be drenched to the bone, then frozen by the AC. (That's when they swap you out for an aminatron, ala Stepford Wives). And when it's not raining, the heat and the humidity will press you right down to a smear on the concrete, which The Mouse's minions will wipe up and dispose of before anyone notices you're missing.

Now to the subject at hand: My website is down. This is a problem for me because I wanted to update my school visit schedule. Because I don't know how soon the site will be back up, I wanted to let you know I have begun to book visits for next school year. Twenty-minute Skype visits are free to groups who've read my work. If you'd like me to visit in person, I have a variety of presentations and I also provide writing workshops for students who want to polish or publish their work.

If you're interested in having me visit, send me a message! My email address is dhaworthbooks at yahoo dot com.

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5. Skink - No Surrender - a review

Hiaasen, Carl. 2014. Skink - No Surrender. New York: Knopf.
(Advance Reader Copy)

Skink - No Surrender is Carl Hiaasen's first foray into YALit, and he's making his entrance in a big way, employing Skink —the outrageous and outlandish character from his adult novels.

In keeping with his customary practice of setting books in Florida's great outdoors (Hoot, Flush, Scat, Chomp), Skink No Surrender begins on a Florida beach where Richard finds Skink buried in the sandon the hunt for turtle egg poachers. Though at first taken aback by the one-eyed, cammo-wearing giant of a man with buzzard beaks braided into his beard, Richard soon finds out that he is the ex -Florida governor and a force to be reckoned with - even if he is presumed to be dead.

     All kinds of wild rumors got started, and some of them turned out to be true.  According to one Wikipedia entry, the ex-governor became a wandering hermit of the wilderness, and over the years he'd been a prime suspect in several "acts of eco-terrorism."  Interestingly, he'd never been arrested or charged with any serious crimes, and it seemed to me that the targets of his anger were total scumbags, anyway.
     The web article included interviews with a few witnesses who'd supposedly encountered Clinton Tyree by chance.  They said he'd lost an eye, and was going by the name of "Skink."  They had differing opinions about whether or not he was nuts.  The most recent entry quoted the governor's closest friend, a retired highway patrol trooper named Jim Tile, who said:
     "Clint passed away last year int he Big Cypress Swamp after a coral snake bit him on the nose.  I dug the grave myself.  Now, please let him rest in peace."
     Except the man was still alive.
An unlikely pair, Skink and Richard team up to find Richard's cousin, Malley, who has run off with (or been kidnapped by) a young man she met online.

An intense hunt takes the two across the swamps in search of Malley and a dangerous impostor.  Suspenseful and very funny at the same time, Skink No Surrender presents a case for Internet safety, bird habitat conservation, and the value of family, but you'll be havimg so much fun that you won't even notice!

Getting my autographed copy of Skink
See the first 56 pages of Skink No Surrender here.

On sale and in libraries beginning September 23, 2014.

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6. Audiobook reviews

I recently reviewed two audiobooks with a peculiar connection.  Masterminds is a thriller set in the seemingly perfect town of Serenity, New Mexico.  The Way to Stay in Destiny is a character-driven novel set in the woefully imperfect town of Destiny, Florida.  Neither town is quite what it seems.  Click the links to read the complete reviews.

Masterminds by Gordon Korman.  Read by a cast of five(2015) 

[http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/98783/]
A contemporary science thriller set in New Mexico - a real page-turner!  This is the first in a planned series.  I'm not sure how he can top this one!



 [http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/99246/]
Historical fiction set in 1970s Florida by the author of Glory Be. Another paean to the power of music.  (Try Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan, too!)




I'm confident that either of these is great in print as well.

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7. The Year That Was - 1971

Enter the psychedelic time tunnel and hang on for an inspirational and amazing story. Zen teacher Don Lubov gives us Story Ten of the One series. It is available now from Trestle Press for ONLY 99 Cents and you can get it here: http://goo.gl/JkFJs

Mark Miller's One
Story Ten
1971
by Don Lubov


100% of the author’s proceeds will be donated to Give Kids the World, a charitable organization where children with life-threatening illnesses and their families are treated to weeklong, cost-free fantasy vacations. www.GKTW.org. The authors, creator and publisher are in no other way affiliated with this organization.
Mark Miller’s One is a spiritual anthology examining True-Life experiences of Authors and their Faith. As the series evolves expect to discover what it means to have faith, no matter what that faith is and no matter where they live. Remember that we are all part of this One World.
In Story Ten, Don Lubov shares a wild and thought-provoking journey. A young man in 1971, the author left home on a cross-country journey that took him to some unexpected places. He did not know what he was looking for, but he found himself. This harrowing tale of self-discovery brought the author near to death and to a rebirth.
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8. How to be a Thief

On the planet Kaskaya, becoming a thief is a skilled and honorable achievement. In the newest release of my Christian Sci-Fantasy, Sons of the King, the middle son sets his sights on that difficult task. Co-written with my 9 year old daughter, it is available now from Trestle Press for ONLY 99 Cents right here: http://goo.gl/zzTfX

Sons of the King
Episode Four
The Thieves' Village


What would an outer-space fantasy be without a few rogues and thieves? As Olivia and I outlined the story, it was important to her to show the members of the Thieves' League as positive, helpful people. Since the thieves are first introduced as kids in Episode Three, we wanted them to be playful. Once Dig gets to their village in the mountains, he finds them to be a little frightening and mysterious. His opinion changes over the next five years as he grows and trains with them.

It has been a while since the last episode of Sons of the King. With that in mind, anybody that purchases Episode Four: The Thieves Village can email me or comment on my blog to get Episode One: Fallen Idols for FREE. You can get Episode Four here: http://goo.gl/zzTfX

Please be sure to check out the fan page on Facebook too: http://www.facebook.com/Mysstira

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9. Reflecting on Reflections

My nine-year-old daughter, Olivia, and I have completed the next step in the journey for the Sons of the King. Episode Five: Reflections is available now for ONLY 99 Cents. http://goo.gl/oUgd2

I asked Olivia to share her thoughts on the story so far. Her thoughts are below...


It is hard to grab her attention at the moment. She is the rare child who looks forward to going back to school. With fourth grade starting in a few days, she is excited.

MM: How would you sum up the story from the beginning?

OM: The King mysteriously dies. The three sons go their separate ways and the new advisor Esephis takes over the kingdom. The oldest son, Taro, learns the ways of the Creator and the middle brother becomes a thief. Fallon, the youngest, is left alone with Esephis. 

MM: What comes next?

OM: The boys have to find their destiny.

MM: Since we are calling this a Christian Sci-fantasy, what would you say is the theme?

OM: The message is finding truth and believing in God. On the planet of Kaskaya, he is known as the Creator. The sons of the King learn skills to help them, but only the Creator knows their destiny.

MM: What exactly is a Sci-fantasy?

OM: It is a fantasy story with some science fiction in it.

MM: Is there anything special you would like to say about Episode Five: Reflections? What was your favorite part?

OM: I'd say my favorite part was when Ekron and his friends went through the Forest of Deception. 



And that's when she ran away to play with the small plush manatee that the Tooth Fairy delivered last night. I love that she is so mature in her writing, yet still a child at heart. She has a fantastic balance of innocence and imagination.

We will be back next month with Episode Six. Please grab your copy of Episode Five: Reflections today for ONLY 99 Cents. http://goo.gl/oUgd2

You can follow Sons of the King on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/Mysstira





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10. Blog Tour and Contest: Keith Rommel

Today, I am hosting a fellow Floridian author, Keith Rommel. He's originally from New York, but he moved to sunny climes and is hard at work on his series Thanatology. With the release of the second book in the series, Keith is having a contest on Pinterest. Read below to find out how you could win!


What happens after we die? Are we given choices based on how we lived our lives? It’s an age-old question pondered by just about everyone.

Author Keith Rommel dared to explore the answer by creating his newest novel The Lurking Man, a story of dark suspense that unmercifully reveals the life of a self-deluded, neglectful mother who caused irreparable damage to her family and ultimately struggles with death as much as life. It’s the second novel in his suspenseful and thrilling Thanatology series that began with the eerie, spine-tingling The Cursed Man.

“Imagine Death knowing your deepest, darkest secrets and all of your private pain,” said Rommel about The Lurking Man. “Now imagine it wants to use what it knows against you so that you bend to its will.”

In The Lurking Man, main character Cailean stands beneath a spotlight in a blinding snowstorm. She has no idea where she is or how she got there, but she senses something moving around her in the darkness outside the light.

When the ominous presence calling himself Sariel makes himself known, he declares that he is Death Incarnate and that Cailean has died. He has taken her to the Aperture, a place between the living and the dead, where he will force her to face the sins of her past in exchange for twenty-four hours of life to try and right her wrongs. But what she must do in return for this precious time is unthinkable.

Rommel’s series is titled due to Thanatology being a study that explores death and dying. Rommel has taken this science to a fictionalized, gothic-style horror level that may leave you breathless and unable to stop your mind from contemplating how you live your own life.

The books are grouped in the series due to the nature of the theme, but each book may be read independently. “Those who read in order will be able to catch glimpses from previous book(s), but it is not dependent upon each individual story,” Rommel said.

The Cursed Man and The Lurking Man are released by Sunbury Press. Book three in the Thanatology series is on schedule for a summer 2013 release. The Cursed Man is currently being considered as a feature film.


Get involved in Keith Rommel’s book tour by taking part in his Pinterest contest! If you don’t have Pinterest go to www.pinterest.com to sign-up!

For those of you already pinning, make a board titled something like “Book Contest~The Grim Reaper” or you can make your own title. It doesn’t have to be morbid, just make it fun! Especially with Halloween month upon us, there are all kinds of things out there that will make it fun.

You MUST at least pin the photos with link to The Cursed Man and The Lurking Man, Keith Rommel’s two books in his Thanatology series, and pin the link to his blog tour dates.

You can find the books with links to re-blog on the example board at:

http://pinterest.com/erinalmehairi/book-contest-the-grim-reaper/

You can find the blog tour schedule to pin at http://keithrommel.weebly.com

You have until 11:59 p.m. EST the final day of the tour to create your post. Be creative, the best board wins an ARC paperback copy of The Cursed Man, an e-book of The Lurking Man and some cool bookmarks! This is for USA and CANADA only.

You must leave a comment back here, or under the post at Keith’s blog, that you did the contest with the link and with your email so we can get in touch with you! And if you had a great time and read the book be sure to click "like" on book seller sites and let us know what you think.

Some ideas to get you started:

*Think outside the box!
*Think about all the psychological horror movies relating to cheating Death.
*Think about fun creatives like food or clothing for a book party (for a book launch or book club).
*Think about colors, art, music, visuals that relate to stories of the Grim Reaper.
*It doesn’t have to be morbid, make it fun especially with Halloween parties coming up!

Keith Rommel’s books are about how Death comes in different bodily forms and shapes—sometimes in the shadows…hiding in the darkness, hiding in our minds, making us think back on our lives, yet sometimes in the daylight, haunting and maddening our mental state.


About the Author: Keith Rommel is a native of Long Island, New York and currently lives with his family in Port Saint Lucie, Florida. Rommel is a retail manager and has enjoyed collecting comic books since he was a child (a hobby inspired by a teacher in grade school to help overcome a reading comprehension disability).

Rommel is the author of two books in his Thanatology series entitled The Cursed Man and The Lurking Man. The Cursed Man is currently being considered as a feature film. He enjoys offering his experiences to other authors, writing several articles about writing and publishing, and is currently fast at work on the third novel in the Thanatology series which is scheduled for a summer 2013 release.

He also has several other novels in the works. Besides writing, he also enjoys watching the New York Giants, scary stories, and spending time with family.

You can get The Cursed Man on Kindle here: 

You can get The Lurking Man on Kindle here: 

Both books are also available in paperback.

You can find Keith here:




Twitter: @keithrommel




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11. Guest Post: Richard Hebert


Okay, here is a fun guy, witty and sharp. I had the pleasure of meeting Richard at the annual Florida Writer's Association banquet. We shared a few laughs and talked shop (writers do that, ya know). So, I tell Richard that I write fiction, mostly fantasy. He tells me he writes metafiction.

What? What is that?

Oh, it's fiction that is aware of itself. As the kids say these days, "Mind=Blown". I must be living a sheltered life, I've never heard of it before that night. It sounds fascinating and I want to try it. In the meantime, here is Richard telling about his novel and a little about himself. 


MINDWARP, A Novella …And Other Strange Tales

A committee of muses sits about the living room of my brain, discussing matters of no great import. A motley group they are, having just finished their pizzas—one pepperoni, one vegetarian, one combo—hold the anchovies.
“Why in the world is he doing this?” asks the chair-muse, finger-flicking crumbs from her robe….

Thus begins a journey into the mind of a “deranged author” (it says so on the back cover!) and his collection of short fiction, MindWarp, a Novella…And Other Strange Tales. Kirkus Reviews, the self-described “World’s Toughest Book Critics,” described the novella and accompanying eight short stories by author Richard Hébert this way:

This scintillating collection…uses offbeat character studies to wrestle with snaky issues of identity and self-knowledge. Hébert’s loquacious, usually anonymous narrators are obsessed with penetrating the riddle of the people around them.
In “MindWarp,” a nameless writer battens for inspiration on Guy, a working-class barfly who is almost elemental in his beaten-down ordinariness. Things get complicated when Guy begins an affair with the feisty, appealing Yolanda; the couple pushes back against the writer’s determination to “warp” their reality into a fictional celebration of heroic failure—until the writer himself seems to become the unstable, increasingly desperate creation of his own story.
Quirky, opaque figures abound in other stories; “Ana, Always,” about a Yugoslavian youth’s efforts to fathom the tragic mystery of a middle-aged woman, is a meditation on family and exile; “Silence,” a somewhat affected tale about a guilt-burdened war veteran who acquiesces in his wife’s affair with an ex-comrade, finds power in the evanescent fracturing of its hero’s personality. Only in “Azazel,” a comic gem about a mythical desert herdsmen who tends the world’s scapegoats until the powers that be decide he needs a ritzy California estate in which to receive humanity’s atonement, do we meet a man who thoroughly knows himself.
The author delights in mind games; the title novella is as much a commentary on the conundrums of fictional representation as it is a fiction. Fortunately, Hébert’s writerly conceits are rescued by the quality of his prose; his deadpan realism, mordant wit and acute powers of description ground his flights of abstraction in the soil of experience.
A beguiling blend of high-concept narrative and old-school literary chops.
Kirkus subsequently named the collection to its top 50 list of 2011 “Indie” books.
__________
Hébert is a former award winning investigative reporter and Pulitzer Prize nominee; a media relations manager and consultant; a nationally published magazine feature and documentary film writer, and world traveler. Many of his works of fiction, including the stories in MindWarp, were inspired by incidents encountered during his travels in Europe, Africa and North, Central and South America. He currently also writes a political blog – Richard’s Take – from his retirement home in St. Augustine, Florida.
His other published books include a memoir, Life Is Good; a novel, The Questing Beast, and Highways to Nowhere: The Politics of Urban Transportation



Mindwarp is available on Kindle: http://goo.gl/sr1zT



It is also available in paperback, BN Nook, and directly from the publisher, Author House.



Signed copies are available directly from the author: [email protected]


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12. In the latest Bookforum: Florida, true and fake

I wrote about T.D. Allman’s Finding Florida, a history of the state, and a history of the state’s fake history of itself, for the latest Bookforum. An excerpt:

“Nude face-eating cannibal?” Carl Hiassen wrote last year, when the infamous video surfaced. “Must be Miami.”

It sounds like a joke, but throw in the overpass, homeless victim, and fundamentalist drug-addict murderer, and there really are no other contenders. At least the rest of the world has some inkling of this now. As Hiassen says, explaining the Sunshine State’s endlessly inventive dysfunction has gotten easier since the 2000 presidential election. But even natives may be surprised, reading T.D. Allman’s tremendous 500-year history, Finding Florida, to learn just how much of the insanity is nothing new under the sun.

Almost a century and a quarter before Bush v. Gore, the outcome of the 1876 presidential election hinged on a Florida recount…

The rest is available in print, or to subscribers.

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13. Notes from Ghost Town - Review and Giveaway (US/Can, ends 3/6)


Publication date: 12 Feb 2013 by Egmont USA
ISBN 10/13: 1606842641 | 9781606842645


Category: Young adult mystery/suspense
Keywords: Murder, schizophrenia, color-blindness, family
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Source: ARC for review



Synopsis:

They say first love never dies...

From critically acclaimed author Kate Ellison comes a heartbreaking mystery of mental illness, unspoken love, and murder. When sixteen-year-old artist Olivia Tithe is visited by the ghost of her first love, Lucas Stern, it’s only through scattered images and notes left behind that she can unravel the mystery of his death. 

There’s a catch: Olivia has gone colorblind, and there’s a good chance she’s losing her mind completely—just like her mother did. How else to explain seeing (and falling in love all over again with) someone who isn’t really there?

With the murder trial looming just nine days away, Olivia must follow her heart to the truth, no matter how painful. It’s the only way she can save herself.

Review:

Kate Ellison lets spots of color and light shine through Notes from Ghost Town's bleak and dreary premise. The main story revolves around the murder of Olivia's best friend, whom her unstable mother admits to killing. Ellison touches on all the nuances of love: kindness, friendship, family, first love, and even love turned to hate, to make this a moody and tender read. The settings sometimes seem contrived, missing flavor and making Miami seem like just any other locality, but enough of the characters and their occasionally surprising interactions are relatable enough to keep you reading.

Some readers might find Olivia's brattiness intolerable, but I felt invested enough in her heartbreak to want to know what really happened to Stern. I liked how she interacts with her soon-to-be step-sister, despite really hating the fact that her dad is remarrying so soon after divorcing her mother. I was hugely annoyed whenever she took unnecessary risks or behaved like a spoiled child, but I think it was mostly because I was starting to like her and wanted her to succeed, to heal, and to change for the better.

It's hard to articulate what I felt about this book. It's not so much that I enjoyed reading it as that I wanted everything to turn out ok, and so I kept turning pages. Fans of fast-paced mysteries should go look for another book: this one is slow, misty, and contemplative. I think this would make a great mostly-black-and-white movie.

If you like this book, you will probably also like:






*I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


Visit www.kateellison.com and follow the author on Facebook.



You can enter to win both Notes from Ghost Town and The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison. Just use the Rafflecopter widget below. US/Canada only; I will randomly choose a winner after March 6. Thanks so much to Egmont for sponsoring the giveaway.

Giveaway Rules:
  1. Open to US & Canada only.
  2. We are not responsible for items lost in the mail.
  3. One set of entries per household, please.
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. 
Good luck!

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14. Contest Winner Maggie Wheatley is Maggie’s New Best Friend!

Maggie Wheatley, 15, of Weston, Fla., was having such an awesome experience reading Maggie Vaults Over the Moon, that she just had to Tweet about it, and Tweet! about it, and Tweet!-Tweet!-Tweet! about it: “New book and it’s so good!” … Continue reading

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15. The Republican establishment steps in

By Elvin Lim

The Republican establishment is stepping up its attacks against Gingrich. It was coordinated today from a variety of quarters: Bob Dole, Peter Wehner, Tom Delay, William Buckley Jr., and Anne Coulter.

Photo by Gage Skidmore. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The very reason why Gingrich appeals to primary voters is the reason why he will not do well with independents voters in the fall. (And that’s an assessment coming from Anne Coulter.) Gingrich has fire, but placed alongside No Drama Obama, he’s going to look like a very unlikeable candidate. There’s hardly anyone who has worked closely with the former Speaker who has endorsed him — which tells us a lot about the guy. In the era of televisual politics, a bitter old man is not going to beat a likeable (or even less competent, if that is what Obama is) younger man. The Establishment from either party talks the talk of the virtue of debates, grassroots activism and decision-making, but in the end they care more about winning and nominating the most electable candidate than a tip of the hat to primary voters and “democracy.”

The fact that a coordinated strategy against Gingrich is happening within party ranks conveniently on the eve of the last debate before the Florida primary is particularly striking given that Gingrich doesn’t really have a fall back plan beyond Florida. Romney took a landslide victory in Nevada, the next state up in the primary calendar, back in 2008, so it is difficult to imagine that Gingrich would be able to pull an upset there, or in Arizona or Michigan on February 28.

But everything changes if Gingrich wins in Florida. Then the momentum will keep him going until Super Tuesday on March 6 when the South speaks and Gingrich will rise; and civil war will erupt in the Republican party. The Establishment will do everything to thwart him there, and that is why they are taking no chances and are already making headway. Mitt Romney’s superior debate performance tonight was also a reflection of a campaign in full knowledge that the Florida firewall must not fall.

A few days after the President’s State of the Union address, hardly anyone is talking about it because Obama’s fate in November will depend more on forces he cannot control than on anything he can do. Every single poll out there placing Gingrich and Obama in a head-to-head match gives the election to Obama — by a 12 point spread on average. If the Republican primary electorate delivers Gingrich to Obama, even Bob Dole and William Buckley think it’s going to be four more years.

Elvin Lim is Associate Professor of Government at Wesleyan University and author of The Anti-Intellectual Presidency, which draws on interviews with more than 40 presidential speechwriters to investigate this relentless qualitative decline, over the course of 200 years, in our presidents’ ability to communicate wit

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16. Gingrich becomes the Anti-Romney Candidate

by Elvin Lim


Photo by Gage Skidmore. Source: Wikipedia

Newt Gingrich has won the biggest primary prize up for grabs so far. Romney’s win in New Hampshire has been discounted because he’s from neighboring Massachusetts, while poor Rick Santorum’s newly declared victory in Iowa was quickly eclipsed by the news about Rick Perry dropping put of the race, ABC’s interview with Gingrich’s ex-wife, and the scuffle over Romney’s tax returns. This is a huge victory for Gingrich because every winner in South Carolina since 1980 has gone on to win the nomination. So Gingrich is now the conservative alternative to Romney.

Volatility, though, has been the hallmark of the nomination race this year, and there is no reason to think this will change. The higher quantity of debates has helped Gingrich build a momentum in the last week — as has his superPAC — and both are new developments from the last cycle. For the first time in modern history, the Republicans have picked a different winner for each of the first three states. For the first time ever, the Republicans are going to nominate either a Mormon (Romney) or a Catholic (Gingrich). This denominational diversity reveals a conservative electorate much more concerned about the economy than about social values, which was the major issue just eight years ago. Finally, the loyal supporters of Ron Paul are a wild card, because no one knows to whom they will turn when Paul finally bows out — and he intends to to hang around. All told, there are 1150 delegates to get to earn the nomination, so this race pushes on at least until the Spring.

Gingrich did not win in South Carolina because of “electability” as the SC exit polls misleadingly say; he won because of the rage that South Carolinians believe is necessary to take on Obama. Gingrich received the first standing ovation in the debates so far when he observed that more people had been put on food stamps under Obama than under any other president – a line he has been repeating in the last week. Obama will not and cannot receive credit for whatever he has done because his very presence in the White House is perceived by some conservatives as a criminalization of the the state in the service of socialism. This newly rediscovered “southern strategy” worked in South Carolina and it may well work beyond.

Gingrich is in a good position but not a front-leading one, however. He will not enjoy the native-son-of-the-South advantage in Florida as he did in South Carolina, so the next contest is going to be important for him to prove his viability. He would need a huge infusion of cash to be able to afford the television ads he or his superPAC will need to run in Florida. Gingrich won’t be able to sustain his momentum with just the free media, though the two debates last week will help. For now, Romney still enjoys a lead because Florida’s electorate is older and less evangelical than in South Carolina. Early voting has already started in Florida, and will continue until the 28th, so Romney’s initial lead there would help him.

It is also worth noting that Romney is the only candidate who has done well in all three states. He is still, therefore, the frontrunner. But he cannot afford any more mis-steps. The tax returns questions from the media was just poorly handled, and Romney has stuttered repeatedly on a question for which he should have been more than prepared (as Gin

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17. Authors of One Do Something Good

   Mark Miller’s One is a series about faith and beliefs. It is about our understanding of truth and how we are all connected. Every individual is part of this one earth.
With six issues published, there have been some amazing stories. The authors have shared emotionally personal details of their relationships and unexplained, almost miraculous, events. The Authors of One are as varied as our world will allow: a father, an international traveler, a professor, a teenage poet. They also consist of several best-sellers and award-winners.


What more can these authors and this series offer? Every participating author of One has decided to donate at least half or more of their proceeds to charity. That means, in addition to a thought-provoking story, when you purchase a story from the One series, you, as a reader, are doing something good too.
Each author has the option of choosing their charity, but most have agreed on an amazing group called Give Kids the World. This organization helps make dreams come true for severely and terminally ill children by giving them vacations to some of Orlando, Florida’s best attractions. As a father, I have taken my own children to places like Walt Disney World, so this was the best way I could show thanks for the great opportunities I’ve received as a writer. Please note, that none of the authors are not affiliated with Give Kids the World. We simply believe it is an important and worthy charity.
Here are links to the authors and their stories of One:
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18. I Do Birthday Parties, Too!

Not really.


At least, not yet.


With mega-book chains closing their doors (Borders) and online booksellers battling for eBook domination, authors are faced with the daunting task of connecting with their readers. How do we get our print books out there? How do we connect with our digital readers?




Here's the thing: I love to write. 


Along with that, I truly enjoy meeting fans and aspiring authors. So, I will take every opportunity to get out there and meet some great people. One of my favorite activities is visiting classrooms. I have found that teachers these days do an incredible job of motivating kids to read. When an author walks into the classroom, that is a springboard for their hungry little minds!


Teachers: Please send me emails, I would love to come to your class, at any grade level. If I can't drive to you, then I can use Skype or Google video chat.


Another fun suggestion is that my books can be used for fund raisers. I've done it before. It's unique and leaves a lasting impression.


Take a look at what I've got coming up:


April 18 - Lake County Library System: Local Authors DayThe Lake County Library System is proud to announce the second program celebrating local authors and their books. The Spring Local Authors’ Day will be held in the Lady Lake Public Library on Wednesday, April 18th from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. In addition to meeting some of the best authors from around Florida, participants can enter for a prize drawing sponsored by the Friends of the Lady Lake Public Library. http://tinyurl.com/btkfhvf


May 7 & 8 - Great Wolf Lodge (Charlotte, NC): Home School Week - Comfort Publishing is once again parterning with  0 Comments on I Do Birthday Parties, Too! as of 1/1/1900
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19. Digital Domain’s John Textor Brags to Investors about Exploiting Animation Student Labor

Digital Domain CEO John Textor (pictured above with his wife) envisions big things for his company’s new feature animation studio in Port St. Lucie, Florida called Tradition Studios. While we’ve written about the studio’s ambitious feature film plans, what wasn’t known until recently is how Textor intends to create the films. His plan is to convince students to pay Digital Domain to work on its films for free.

The blog VFX Soldier has obtained a speech that Textor gave last November to investors in which he revealed how the company’s new animation school Digital Domain Institute will be integrated with the Tradition studio. Textor told the audience:

Classes starting in the education space, what’s interesting is the relationship between the digital studio and the college.  Not only is this a first in a number of ways that we’ve talked about, but 30% of the workforce at our digital studio down in Florida, is not only going to be free, with student labor, it’s going to be labor that’s actually paying us for the privilege of working on our films.

Now this was the controversial element of this and the first discussions with the Department of Education, ’cause it sounds like you’re taking advantage of the students.  But we were able to persuade even the academic community, if we don’t do something to dramatically reduce costs in our industry, not only ours but many other industries in this country, then we’re going to lose these industries .. we’re going to lose these jobs.  And our industry was going very quickly to India and China.

Students, in other words, will pay up to $105,000 for the “privilege” of working on Digital Domain’s features, the first of which will be The Legend of Tembo. As VFX Soldier points out, “It’s one thing to work for low pay, it’s another thing to work for free, but it’s unfathomable to be expected to pay to work for free.

If all of this sounds a little fishy, that’s because it is. The Animation Guild in Los Angeles is exploring whether Digital Domain might be in violation of state and federal labor laws. They’ve tried to communicate with multiple Florida government agencies, including the state’s Department of Education, with no luck yet. Federal labor laws, however, would appear to be in favor of artists as they clearly stipulate that interns cannot “perform productive work” (i.e. work on the production of a film) without being compensated with at least minimum wage and overtime pay. (Minimum wage, by the way, is $7.67 per hour in Florida.)

As animation education programs proliferate around the United States and competition intensifies for a finite number of jobs, studios find themselves in a position to exploit young artists more aggressively than ever before. Whether it’s Titmouse relocating its studio nearly 3,000 miles away to avoid paying its employees union wages or Digital Domain making people pay to work on its films, there are plenty of legal loopholes that studios can exploit to save a buck on the backs of their production crews. And some studio CEOs are so proud of themselves that they’ll publicly boast about how they’re getting away with

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20. Illustration Friday: “Return”

An Illustration Friday submission for the word “return”.  Duck is all nice and tanned from his stay in the sunny south!

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21. Big News: LITTLE GREEN MEN AT THE MERCURY INN

I am thrilled to announce that Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan) will be publishing my novel, LITTLE GREEN MEN AT THE MERCURY INN.  Release is tentatively scheduled for Fall 2013.

It's a comedic middle grade story about what happens to three friends at a motel in Cocoa Beach, Florida, after a manned space launch at Kennedy Space Center is scrubbed due to the appearance of an unidentified flying object over Cape Canaveral.

Thanks to my agent Ginger Knowlton and my new editor Deirdre Langeland (FYI, Deirdre is also editor at the Flashpoint imprint, where she edits some awesome nonfiction)! 

Photos courtesy of NASA 

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22. Diane of the Green Van

In 1913, a Chicago publishing house called Reilly & Britton offered a $10,000 prize for the best manuscript submitted to them. About five hundred manuscripts were submitted, and eventually it was announced that Leona Dalrymple (later the author of Jimsy: the Christmas Kid) had won the prize for her novel Diane of the Green Van. She had also submitted another manuscript to the competition, and they were going to publish that, too.

So, is Diane of the Green Van worthy of the prize? Not having seen the other manuscripts, I obviously can’t judge, but this one? Is insane.

Diane Westfall is an heiress with a fondness for the outdoors. She builds — or orders to be built — a gypsy caravan, and plans to spend the year camping, slowly making her way down the east coast to Florida. Then there’s Diane’s cousin Carl, brilliant, dissolute and unpredictable. You know the type. He’s short on cash, and when he finds a mysterious document inside a broken candlestick at Diane’s house, he tries to sell it to the Ruritanian kingdom of Houdania. We don’t find out what the document contains for a long time — there are a lot of things we don’t find out for a long time — but Carl’s letter of inquiry clearly spooks the Houdanians enough that they send over Baron Tregar and a few other characters, one of whom remains unidentified for more than half the book.

Enter Philip Poynter. He’s Carl’s best friend from college, and if they were in closer touch, Carl probably wouldn’t be trying to sell family secrets to the Houdanians, or drinking so heavily. He has also, coincidentally, become Baron Tregar’s secretary. And that’s the last time I’m using the word “coincidence.” From here on out, you can take it for granted.

The Baron sends Philip to suss out Diane’s feelings towards Houdania, which is how he happens to be on hand when someone tries to kill her. Whether because he’s fallen in love with her or because he’s a decent guy and would do the same for anyone, he tries to talk her out of the caravan trip. When she insists on continuing, he hires a hay cart and follows her. Then a third camper joins there procession –a mysterious foreign gentleman who poses as an organ grinder but also shows off his education by ostentatiously dropping volumes of Herodotus on the ground. Three guesses as to what country he comes from.

This is probably the most entertaining part of the book — Diane making her way to Florida, followed by Philip and the organ grinder. The organ grinder is constantly doing silly, pretentious things like writing poems to plants, and Philip is just as reliably trying to take the wind out of his sails by writing poems to bugs. Meanwhile, we drop in on Carl from time to time, helping a friend to stop drinking, and then torturing a foreigner (where is he from? Only three countries feature in this book, and he’s not from Spain).

Then there’s the Seminole girl Diane meets in Florida. She’s persistently referred to as an Indian, in spite of the fact that her dad was white and her mother was half Spanish. When she introduces herself as “Shock-kil-law,” Diane is like, “Oh, that shortens really easily to ‘Keela,’” and the girl is like, “Yeah, that’s what my foster-father says.” She and Diane immediately become best friends.

There’s a masquerade ball, which is attended by practically all of the significant characters, and during which someone is unmasked in more ways than they expected. Then most of

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23. The Ordeal

With the official release of The Empyrical Tales Book III: The Secret Queen about a week away, I wanted to revisit the original purpose for this blog. Originally, I had intended to give a "making of" commentary and work my way through the story. Like Book III, Book I: The Fourth Queen closely follows the plot of the Hero's Journey. Check out the archive to see older posts, but I left off with "The Ordeal".


The Ordeal is the point where the story reaches a central crisis. The aspiring hero character either literally or metaphorically dies in order to be reborn as the hero. It is a point where the hero must face a dark version of, in this case, herself. She must challenge the villain and it must be extremely difficult to defeat him. This should be the time when the hero faces her greatest fear. As Joseph Campbell said the ordeal signifies the death of the ego, an apotheosis.



*****SPOILERS*****(Highlight to read)*****In The Fourth Queen, the older sister, Zandria, is the hero figure. She has passed through the other stages of the journey and has reached the Ordeal. Instead of a single event, Zandria's ordeal spans a few chapters. The hero's death occurs as she rides the pirate ship called The Dragon's Wing. When the ship crashes, Zandria is knocked unconscious, symbolizing her death. Her rebirth does not occur until a few chapters later. Zandria faces the villain who has chased her the entire story, the lead werewolf. This confrontation is her greatest fear because this monster killed her father, which started her on this journey. The difficulty comes from the setting: Zandria does battle over the open maw of a bottomless pit. Once the wolfman is defeated, Zandria is "reborn" to face the climax of the story and her resurrection.*****END SPOILERS*****

I should mention that The Fourth Queen is ONLY 99 Cents for a limited time on Amazon Kindle. Why not check it out and follow the Hero's Journey for yourself? Click HERE to get it: http://goo.gl/pQGgk

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24. My Friend Karl

Part of the fun of writing an ongoing series is creating new characters with each story. I have the same core characters from the beginning (two of which I love almost like they were my own daughters). A large part of the newest plot has to do with a great guy I call Karl Lumpkin.

The Secret Queen 
Book III of The Empyrical Tales
is now available 
from Comfort Publishing 
wherever fine books are sold.


Karl describes himself as a "free thinker of old". In The Secret Queen, he is a sixteen year old boy that has an uncanny knack of predicting the future. He is witty and odd. Karl serves as a big brother figure for Olena on her journey to the south.

Some readers may recall Eisenhahn talking about Wizard Lumpkin in The Lost Queen. Is it possible that these are one and the same? Eisenhahn talks about an old man in his past, while Olena meets a young man in the present. I can say that there is definitely more to Karl than seen at first glance.

Oh, and Karl has his own Twitter account for when he visits our world - @WizardLumpkin

With the official release of The Secret Queen today, you can meet all of the new characters that cross paths with Olena on her quest to discover the secret!

Click HERE to get it on Amazon. http://goo.gl/AjcYW

Also, the Kindle version of The Fourth Queen is ONLY 99 Cents for a limited time. It's not too late to start at the beginning! Click HERE for The Fourth Queenhttp://goo.gl/3ctUl

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25. Upcoming Appearances

Hopefully folks in Mount Dora and Central Florida can stop by and see me! I love hearing from readers!

I will be signing my latest release, Book III of The Empyrical Tales: The Secret Queen, and I will have a few surprises.

First stop, Barrel of Books and Games in downtown Mount Dora. Today (June 2) from 4pm to 6pm, come check out this amazing store. They have a huge selection of new and used books. Plus, their collectibles are amazing. They have everything from Angry Birds to Big Bang Theory Bobbleheads to Star Wars. AT 144 W 5th Ave in Downtown Mt. Dora about 45 minutes from Orlando.

On June 9th, I will be at HighFive Frozen Yogurt in the Loch Leven Landing shopping center. This one is for a good cause. Both the author and HighFive will be donating a portion of the proceeds to our local elementary school PTO. I will be there from 1pm to 4pm. I want to see somebody come challenge the HighFive Titan! The store is at 18977 US Hwy 441, in between Five Guys Burgers and Publix.

This is only the first wave. I am working on events with some author friends and at least one of the public libraries. If you can't make it in person, I recently updated my website where you can order autographed copies at a new, special price - www.MillerWords.com

For all you Kindle readers, I have the privilege of being one of the first to use Kindlegraph Live! Kindlegraph.com is a site where authors can personalize autographs for their digital readers. With KG Live, when you see me at an event, you can buy one of my eBooks on your eReader or smart phone. Then I can send you an autograph. All you need is an email address, and it doesn't even have to be a Kindle address.

Keep following my blog or follow on Facebook.com/EmpyricalTales to stay informed of the latest appearances.

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