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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In praise of Yann Martel, author of “Life of Pi” ….

life of piHi, friends and readers:

I came across this video clip from the movie, Life of Pi, and I knew I had to share it with all of you as soon as I saw it because this is one of the best visuals from the film. I read somewhere that a poll was taken of librarians in the U.K., asking them to name the fifty most significant books ever written. Only one book written in the Twentieth Century made the list: Life of Pi.  I was’t surprised because Yann Martel’s book is a masterpiece, a work of genius.

I first read Life of Pi about seven years ago, long before the film was produced, and I remember how amazed I was by Martel’s writing. As soon as I finished the book, I said to myself, “I want to read everything else this guy has written.” But I soon discovered Martel had not written much else, at least anything in publication. I did  buy a copy of his anthology titled The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Last month, I searched my bookcases for something to take with me on a trip, and I decided to read The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios again. It’s a wonderful book, and if you haven’t read it, please do. Here’s a buy link:

http://www.amazon.com/Facts-Behind-Helsinki-Roccamatios/dp/0156032457/ref=sr_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1389796658&sr=1-10

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From now through Sunday: a red hot deal on Jere’s titles with Prizm Books ….

volcanoHi, friends and readers:

Prizm Books, the house who has published two of my novels, Josef Jaeger and Tyler Buckspan, is offering a twenty percent discount on these books, if you purchase either one or both, before Sunday’s end. If you click on the covers of these books in the sidebar to the left, you’ll be linked to the pages of  Prizm Books website where the books can be purchased.

The coupon code you’ll need to use is for the discount is COZY.

It’s a beautiful Saturday, here on the barrier island where I dwell. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and a nice southerly breeze is stirring the fronds on my coconut palms. I have my doors and windows open, so the breeze can sweep through the house. Ah-h-h, winter in central Florida. It can’t be beat.

Have a nice Saturday, everyone.

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Sunset in Budapest. Thoughts on the importance of travel ….

sunset hungaryHi, friends and readers:

I came across the photo to the left recently. It was taken in Budapest, Hungary, just as the sun was setting, and it brought back memories of my two visits to Hungary, in the late 1990′s. This wasn’t too long after the Communists surrendered control of Hungary, and the economy wasn’t all that good. Many people walked the streets with scowls on their faces. But I could tell the country was ready for revitalization, economically and culturally.

Budapest is a beautiful city, with many architectural gems. And if you visit you cannot miss a trip to one of the city’s Turkish baths. You’ll come away feeling cleaner and more relaxed than you’ve ever felt, trust me.

I always like to visit cemeteries when I visit older cities. And Budapest has a cemetery hundreds of years old. It’s divided into Christian and Jewish sections, and during WWII the Nazis desecrated the Jewish section; crypts were opened and looted, and headstones were smashed. Seeing something like that helps bring the evils of Nazi philosophy into very clear focus.

You know, I think travel is about the best thing you can do for yourself. Travel, especially to foreign countries, helps us remember that not everyone lives the way we do in the U.S., but they seem quite happy doing things their own way. Travel gives us perspective, and that’s good for us.

Look, you don’t have to visit Europe; I know that’s expensive. But you can visit The Bahamas or various other Caribbean countries for not much money, and you’ll have cathartic experiences there, if you get away from the resorts and casinos. Give it a try this year, why don’t you? Make it your New Year’s resolution. You won’t be sorry if you do.

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Jere’s new anthology, “Troubling Tales from Florida”, is released ….

Troubling Tales from Florida small coverHi, friends and readers:

I’m pleased to announce release of my fiction anthology, Troubling Tales from Florida. The book includes six short stories and a novella, Man-O-War Cay. Some are stories I wrote a few years ago, while others were penned more recently. They all share a common thread: disturbed characters who aren’t too kind to the people they encounter. And all the stories take place in Florida, in whole or in part.

Hey, I’m a native Floridian, and this is where most of my fiction takes place.

This book is about 60,000 words, the equivalent of a full-length novel, and each story is unique. Here’s a sample:

* * * *

The Drape Man.

Copyright Jere’ M. Fishback,  2013.

The drape man still grips my hair. With his free hand he reaches into a pocket; he produces a folding knife he opens by pulling on the blade’s edge with his teeth. He holds the weapon—five inches of stainless steel and sharp-looking—before the tip of my nose. I keep glancing back and forth between the blade and the kitchen floor. His liquor breath and body odor stink worse than ever.

He whispers, “We’ll both go to the door, Justin. You will send this person away, whoever it is. Understand?”

I bob my chin.

He lowers the knife; he presses the flat of the blade to my crotch. He says, “I swear to God, if you try any shit I’ll slice off your dick and make you eat it. Is that clear?”

I shiver. Then I bob my chin some more.

He holds my forearm while we walk to the foyer. He stands by the part of the door with hinges. Then he whispers into my ear, “Open it a crack.” When he nudges his knife tip against my ribcage, he applies the slightest pressure, and I flinch.

Bryce stands on my doorstep. His bicycle lies upon the grass behind him. The chrome on the bike reflects moonlight. He wears slip-on sneakers, board shorts, and a t-shirt with the sleeves hacked off. He says, “What took you so long? I must’ve rung six times.”

I can’t look Bryce in the eye. I say, “I was in the bathroom.”

“I tried calling your cell phone; you didn’t answer.”

I explain how I left it at school.

Bryce jerks his chin toward the driveway. “Whose truck?”

“Some guy measuring for drapes.”

“At nine o’clock?”

I shrug while I study my bare feet.

“What happened to your face?”

“Huh?”

He points to his own cheek. Then he says, “There’s a blotch right here.”

I touch the sore spot on my face. Then I shrug and lower my gaze again. “I fell in the shower,” I say.

When I look at Bryce, his forehead is creased. His eyes are narrowed and he searches my face. “Aren’t you going to invite me in? A martial-arts flick starts at nine-thirty.”

He takes a step forward, but I narrow the door opening; I leave just a small gap. I say, “I’m not feeling good; I’ll go to bed in just a minute, right after the drape man leaves.”

“So early? It’s Friday night.”

I shrug again. I can’t hold Bryce’s gaze.

“You should leave,” I say.

He takes a deep breath. Then he puffs out his lips and tilts his head to one side. He stands with his hands at his waist, frowning, for maybe five seconds. Then he says, “All right. I’ll see you tomorrow, I guess.” He walks to his bike and rights it. He climbs onto the seat, and then he pedals away in the moonlight.

The drape man whispers, “Is he gone?”

I nod.

“Close the door and lock it.”

I do as I’m told. After the drape man closes his knife, he grabs my hair again. He takes me first to the kitchen, where he seizes his drink, and then to my parents’ bedroom. I tremble anew because I know what’s coming: he will hurt me and he won’t care when he does. I am nothing but flesh, raw meat to the drape man.

* * * *

Here’s a buy link if you have an interest in Troubling Tales from Florida: 

http://www.amazon.com/Troubling-Tales-Florida-Jere-Fishback/dp/1494400650/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1387066621&sr=1-1

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