I’m home after three weeks of travel ….

thinking #2Hi, friends and readers:

It has been a while since I posted on this site, and there’s a reason for it. I just spent three weeks traveling to remote places where I had no Internet service and my cell phone didn’t work.

Firstly, I spent ten days in British Columbia (BC) with three friends, one form Florida, two from Southern California. We stayed in a house directly on a bay with evergreen-covered mountains rising from its banks. about 100 miles north of Vancouver. We hiked, boated, dug clams, gathered oysters, and drank a lot of beer while soaking up the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. The closest village was Lund, the closest town was Powell River. I can honestly say that the natural beauty of BC was eclipsed only by the friendliness of BC’s people. I have traveled all over the world, and have never met such welcoming folks. I caught my first salmon (nine pounds). I shucked and cooked my first oysters. I skippered a 23-foot boat we were lent by our hosts. The entire experience was amazing. The weather was cool and sunny, such a nice break from Florida’s summer heat. I’d go back to BC in a heartbeat.

in the carRight after I returned from BC, my partner and I packed up my Honda Element. Then we drove to northern Wisconsin to spend a week in Door County,  in a beautiful home right on the coast of Green Bay. This, of course, involved driving about 1600 miles from Florida, and then driving the same distance home after our week’s stay in Wisconsin. That may sound like a chore, but it wasn’t. We spent the night in Savannah, GA, Columbus, OH, a small town in Tennessee named Laurenceburg, right on the Ohio River, and the Virginia Highlands neighborhood in Atlanta, GA. We dined on a variety of cuisines and met all sorts of interesting people.

 

We finally arrived back in Florida last night, in time to fix a meal and share a bottle of wine before we hit the bed. I’m feeling a bit travel-weary right now, but thoroughly satisfied in the spiritual sense. I think travel is the most enriching activity a person can experience, and I would not trade the past three weeks for any other I’ve spent in my life.

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“Tyler Buckspan” is on the shelves at Seattle’s public library ….

happinessHi, friends and readers:

Someone just dropped me a comment to notify me that three copies of my novel, Tyler Buckspan, have been placed on the shelves of the Seattle Public Library. This very likely happened because the Rainbow Project of the American Library Association chose Tyler Buckspan for their 2014 “recommended reading list” for GLBTQ students and young adults. Here’s the link to the Seattle Public Library’s listing for Tyler Buckspan:

http://seattle.bibliocommons.com/item/show/2983145030_tyler_buckspan

I know Tyler Buckspan has received “mixed reviews” since its publication. Some people find it offensive, while other folks love it. Just have a look at the reviews of Tyler Buckspan on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18340116-tyler-buckspan The reviews are mostly raves, but some aren’t, and that’s okay. I’m just happy my novel’s available for young people in the Seattle area. What a wonderful development. ….

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Getting in touch with nature; spending a day on Juniper Run ….

Juniper RunHi, friends and readers:

This past Saturday, my partner Greg and I spent five hours canoeing Juniper Run, a seven-mile canoe trail in the Ocala National Forest, about 2-1/2 hours north of Tampa. I have canoed many rivers in Florida, but never one like Juniper Run. Because the run is within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Park Service, it is heavily regulated; you can’t take any disposable material with you, not even a gum wrapper. But the water is crystal clear. During the entire trip, your world is silent, save for the calls of birds. The banks are lined with huge cypress trees, Sabal palms, live oaks, and slash pines, so most of the time you’re shaded by the canopy. Despite the June heat, we were comfortable.

Okay, Juniper Run is challenging. The water flow is swift and there are many hairpin turns because the run meanders like crazy. Many times we were swept into the bushy banks, where we made close contact with brambles and other nasties. But we were rewarded by encounters with alligators, painted turtles, and many species of birds.

I live in the Tampa Bay area, among two million people. But I am fortunate to have access to places like Juniper Run within close driving distance. I think it’s important to expose yourself to nature’s beauty, especially in remote places where getting there takes a bit of effort. Yeah, I have a few bruises and I’m a bit scratched up, but I would not trade Saturday’s experience for a season ticket to the Tampa Bay Bucs schedule, not in a million years.

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I’m in Philadelphia, a city steeped in history ….

phillyHi, friends and readers:

If you follow this website then you know how much I love to travel, and one of my favorite U.S. cities to visit is Philadelphia. I have longtime friends how live in Media, a lovely suburban community outside Philadelphia, where the land rolls and towering trees shade residents’ properties. This being May, the azaleas and dogwoods are in full bloom and the air is fragrant with the scent of blossoms. Mr friends’ home sits on acreage with a pond, a large meadow, a barn, and many fifty-foot tall trees; it’s like living in a park. The trees are full of birds, and there’s even a fox living on the property.

philly #2Every year, my friends throw a large party they call “Spring Fling”, and this will be my third year in attendance. The party’s always fun because the guests are a true mix of people from all over the Philadelphia area.

One reason I love Philadelphia is its old architecture, some of it dating back to the 1700′s. As a Florida native, I’m not used to seeing these sorts of historic structures all around me. I’ve always been a history buff, so I find the city’s older quarters fascinating.

This afternoon, one of my hosts will take me to Rehobeth Beach, on Delaware’s Atlantic shore. It’s a place I’ve never visited before, and I hear it’s quite beautiful. Whata great way to spend a May day, far away from Florida’s heat and humidity.

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The joy of surfing with your friends ….

surfer #14Hi, friends and readers:

Yesterday, around seven AM, two friends and I piled into my Honda Element, with three surf boards, two on the roof rack, the other inside. We drove 2-1/2 hours to Brevard County, on Florida’s east coast, where we surfed the Cocoa Beach Pier for a few hours. This was the first time I’d surfed since my visit to Panama in February, and what a wonderful day it was. The waves were nicely-shaped and they came in sets of three or four, with maybe three minute lulls between the sets. The weather was perfect: warm, sunny, and still.

surfer #2After our surfing session, my friends and I met up with two girls they knew, and we all shared beers and a late lunch at an open-air, beachfront bar/cafe, with tasty food and chilly beer. The girls were nice; conversation flowed freely, and then we drove back to the Tampa Bay area in my car. I felt happy just to be alive and experience such a beautiful day with my friends. Okay, I hit my head on the ocean floor after a nasty wipe-out, and my knees and neck muscles are sore has hell today, but the whole experience in Brevard County was a blessing I won’t ever forget.

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Amazing video clip: the San Francisco Bay Bridge at night ….

golden gateHi, friends and readers:

Do you like the video clip I’ve posted here as much as I do? San Francisco is my favorite city in the U.S.. It’s so visually beautiful. Every time you turn a corner you see something unique. When I was last there, our hosts drove us across the San Francisco Bay Bridge in a Mini Cooper convertible, on a brilliant Saturday afternoon in September. It was an experience I will never forget: cruising across the bridge at 55 MPH with the wind blowing in my hair, and watching America’s Cup competition sailboats skim across the surface of San Francisco Bay.

If you’ve never been to San Francisco, put it on your list of “things I must do.” I know it’s an expensive trip, but it’s one you won’t regret taking. I have visited the city at least fifteen times, and I still have new experiences each time I’m there.

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Thoughts on life and death. Losing a friend is never easy ….

thinkingHi, friends and readers:

I try to keep my posts on this site upbeat. We all have enough troubles in our lives without me getting too serious here. But one of my best friends in the world, a guy I shared a house with when I attended law school at FSU, is about to leave this Earth, and I’m struggling with the situation.

My friend’s name is Dale. When we lived together, we were both in our mid-twenties, and we became the closest of friends; we did everything together: distance running, attending concerts, drinking at our favorite tavern, and talking endlessly about the nature of the world and where we belonged in it. Dale stood 6’4″. He weighed about two hundred pounds, but despite his large size he was one of the gentlest souls I have ever known.

sad boy #9After I left Tallahassee, Dale remained there for a few years before moving back to the Tampa Bay area. We kept our friendship intact; I saw Dale at least once a week, when we’d gather with another close friend to drink beer and then dine out. I guess I always thought Dale would be a part of my life until I died, but sadly I was wrong. Today, Dale lies in the care of hospice, after his life support machinery was disconnected at the request of Dale’s siblings. Two days ago, I and two of Dale’s other best friends visited Dale in the hospice facility, where we each told him goodbye in our own way. The moment was very painful for all involved.

It’s hard losing someone who has played such a large role in your life. It’s like a piece of your past has disappeared. I feel robbed and cheated by Dale’s death, and I can’t help but feel a little angry right now. I guess that’s part of the grieving process. I suppose I will adjust to Dale’s absence from my life as time passes, but is that a good thing?.

Goodbye, Dale. I’m so very grateful for your friendship, and I  will never forget you.

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Greetings from Panama City, Panama ….

sofaHi, friends and readers:

I know I haven’t posted lately, and there’s a good reason. For the past ten days, my partner and I have been in Panama. We flew into Panama City, and then we drove about six hours northward to the town of Santa Catalina on Panama’s Pacific coast. To say Santa Catalina is located in a remote area is an understatement. The nearest town of any size is 100 kms away. The population of Santa Catalina is less than one hundred people. But it’s one of the best surfing breaks in Central America. It’s also a very beautiful area, with mountains rising from the ocean, many tropical birds, trees, and plants.

We rented surfboards, went surfing at Playa Estero nearly every day. We took a ninety-minute boat ride to spend the day at Coiba, a national park where the snorkeling is spectacular. And we took a three-hour horseback ride, just the two of us and a guide, along a beautiful beach on the Pacific. Believe me, the effort getting to Santa Catalina was worth it.

Now we’re in Panama City, where we’ll catch a flight back to Florida tomorrow afternoon. Today, we’ll visit the oldest part of the city, to get a feel for ancient Panama. I just love visiting places I have never been before, don’t you?

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“Tyler Buckspan” is selected for the 2014 ALA Rainbow List ….

fireworks #2Hi, friends and readers:

Each year the The Rainbow Project of the American Library Association selects  a group of books the Project deems meritorious and appropriate material for LGBTQ young adult readers in our schools and municipalities. Librarians all over the U.S. consult the list when they acquire titles for school and public libraries.

I am pleased to announce my novel Tyler Buckspan was selected for inclusion in The Rainbow Project’s 2014 Rainbow List. My book was one of twenty-one works of fiction selected, and it’s quite an honor. Here’s a link to the entire list:

http://glbtrt.ala.org/rainbowbooks/archives/1103

When I wrote Tyler Buckspan I wasn’t quite sure how the book would be received. It’s certainly not your typical Young Adult story, but making the Rainbow List only confirms my belief that this was a book that needed to be written. My thanks again to Prizm Books and my editor, Belea Keeney, for believing in Tyler Buckspan. 

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“Tyler Buckspan” is acquired by Corvallis-Benton Public Library for its “Queer Teen Fiction” collection ….

Tyler Buckspan cover reduced sizeHi, friends and readers:

I’m pleased to report that the Corvallis-Benton Public Library, located in the town where Oregon State University is situated, has purchased my YA novel, Tyler Buckspan, for inclusion in its “Queer Teen Fiction” collection, quite an honor for me, since this library is considered one of the best in the U.S., based on population served: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corvallis-Benton_County_Public_Library

You know, so many LGBTQ kids have no access to quality fiction speaking to their hearts and minds, and I am glad to see this slowly changing.

Here’s a link to the Corvallis-Benton Public Library’s website where my book is listed:

http://www.pinterest.com/cbcpl/new-queer-fiction-for-teens/

One of my favorite writers, the late John Updike, once wrote about his main goal in writing fiction. He said something like, “It’s my great hope that somewhere, in a small town in the Midwestern U.S., a young person will check out one my my books from his local library, and that maybe my book will speak to him/her in a special way.”

I’m not in Updike’s league, but it’s my hope Tyler Buckspan will speak to the minds and hearts of GLBTQ teens in this country, and abroad as well.

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