Last week, I had a unique opportunity to visit the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee. But let me start at the beginning. Several weeks ago, my mom told me she’d read an article about how the Governor’s Mansion now had a library devoted to Florida authors. “You should be in there!” she said. So I did a little online research and found a website about the Governor’s Mansion. I emailed the curator, Carol Beck, and we bounced a few messages back and forth. Seems that they only had my Hiker’s Guide to the Sunshine State, since University Press of Florida has been generous with donations to the library. So I told Carol I’d do a little digging and see what I could come up with.
A business trip came up that would take me up to the Calhoun County 60th Annual Chamber of Commerce Dinner, so I scrambled to talk to a couple of publishers to see if I could get my Florida books donated. I had a bunch on hand, and managed to get a few more to fill out my entire Florida collection – 11 books in all, plus the one they had on hand. I asked Rob to come along, and was also traveling with my boss at FTA, Deborah. We went to the dinner in Blountstown, and headed to Tallahassee the next morning.
At the mansion, Carol escorted us back to the library. It takes up a rather large space that used to be a porch overlooking the gardens. I’d pre-signed the books I brought, but had a chance to sign Hiker’s Guide at the Governor’s desk in the library. What fun! I think they need a guestbook for visiting authors, but I did end up with a surprise string of mini-school-visits for the next hour. More on that in the next blog…in the meanwhile, check Rob’s blog for a sketch from the experience.
My sister and I have this friendly little rivalry. I continue to be amazed at the number of places she’s been and people she knows around the world, while she’s astounded at my published output. I’m pleased to announce my sister’s debut as a blogger with her new site, The Adventures of Mom, in which she recollects and recounts her travels around the world. Check it out!
And just to jog her memory to write a cool story, here we are on the beach at Goa. From left to right, from 1999: Sal, Debs, Paul, me, and Lenny sharing the magic teapot. Today, Lenny’s in an ashram, Debs still keeps traveling, and we hear from Paul now and again. Were it not for Lenny and Paul, we’d never have discovered this lovely beach where we spent nine days … and they were the nine most relaxing, carefree days of my life.
For the past year I’ve served on an advisory council for the Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway (SR 40), undergoing the official designation process to become both a Florida and a national Scenic Highway. At the last meeting I volunteered to create and maintain a website to promote the effort, since it passes through one of my favorite places: the Ocala National Forest. It’s a work in progress, but stop in and check it out!
It’s been a week, now, since I had my gall bladder removed and I don’t feel any lighter. However, I’ve had a splendid stretch of downtime curled up with a stack of books and a lot of naptime as well. Making my way back to the computer with reluctance and strict time limits as the incisions still make themselves known as I sit. I’m reading Green Empire right now, and have completed the following books in the past week:
- The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Alexander McCall Smith
- Bridget Jones Diary, Helen Fielding
- A Year in the Merde, Stephen Clarke
- Travels in Nepal, Charlie Pye-Smith
- State of Emergency, Patrick Buchanan
- Rainlight, Alison McGhee
- Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!, Fannie Flagg
- Shopping for Buddahs, Jeff Greenwald
- The Sound of Paper, Julia Cameron
Starting to get back to work, too, but in carefully measured doses. Thanks to all who sent their goodwill via email, flowers, and comments on Rob’s blog.
I’ll admit I’m not new to writing awards. I’ve been picking them up for years. But I’m used to them coming in as one here, two there. This year, I’m honored (while blushing) to receive FIVE awards in the annual Florida Outdoor Writers Association Excellence in Craft competition. Wow. The awards are:
- Second Place, Book – for Hiker’s Guide to the Sunshine State
- First Place, Special Communications – for the Footprint(editing & graphic design)
- Second Place, Special Communications – for the Florida Trail Activity Book (writing & graphic design)
- Second Place, Website – for www.floridatrail.org
- Third Place, Website – for www.floridahikes.com
Congratulations to all of my fellow writers who also received honors this week! And thanks to the many fine sponsors who made cash awards possible, which certainly helped defray the cost of attending the conference.
My trip to Isle Royale, one of America’s most remote National Parks, and to the Copper Country of Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula is currently chronicled at the Ocala Star Banner online.