Snuggle Up with Some #Free #Florida #Fiction

BoxSet from AmazonAs the holidays loomed, I pulled together my three Florida novels into one box set. Now that we’re cozy in front of fires and hibernating a bit here in the north, here’s a chance to go to Florida for free.

For the next three days (February 4, 5, 6), my Florida Fiction Series box set is available for free Kindle downloads on Amazon. I hope you’ll take advantage of this opportunity to read these three books.

Each one of them represents a period in my life where creating an alternate world of fiction seemed the logical course. It also gave me the opportunity to express my great love of a place I’d lived for thirty years.

TORTpsdTortoise Stew grew from the rancor and chaos of covering local politics as a reporter. When Walmart wanted to disrupt the community in one small municipality, politicians, developers, and environmentalists created one hell of a stew. All parties involved often acted as violent children more bent on hearing their own voices than dealing with the issues at hand. I often sat in these excruciatingly long meetings typing dialogue into my laptop for use in the novel.

3-D1webTrails in the Sand  emerged from the horror of the BP oil spill in 2010 when I worked with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The efforts to save sea turtle hatchlings from oil in their habitat parallels the lives of one family bent on destruction as well.

Native Lands lived with me the longest of any of my published novels. It came from my life as a writer and reporter, too. I began it in 2006, and finally revamped, revised, and restructured the piece. I wanted to show how we are all connected to one another.NATIVE_PBOOK005

All three novels contain elements of romance and intrigue. They touch on issues of forgiveness and redemption. They also celebrate Florida’s landscapes, wildlife, and people.

Here’s a chance to find some warmth and comfort in a long and cold winter. After all, Puxatawny Phil says we’re in for another six weeks.

Stay warm and let me know how your winter is faring. We’re still eating frozen vegetables from the summer, which seems far away right now.

At Odds with Destiny

Preorders ad
Native Lands, my latest release, is one of the novels featured in this new box set. I’m proud to have my work alongside some very talented and lovely authors.NATIVE_PBOOK005
While the novels span the spectrum of literary, historical, and contemporary fiction, they all contain a common element. Finding themselves at odds with destiny, the characters in these stories fight to shape their future and define who they are. Come follow them in their journeys.
Bestselling, critically acclaimed, and notoriously creative authors from across the book continuum join forces to bring you At Odds with Destiny, everything you’ve wanted in a boxed set but thought you’d never find: full-length novels brimming with myth, fantasy, mystery, history, romance, drama, originality, heroism, and suspense.

★ The novels in this boxed set are out of the box ★
Open it at your own risk! 
PreOrder Now!
At Odds with Destiny
★ Kindle  Nook ★ Apple 
★ Kobo ★ Smashwords ★ 
★ Page ★ Foundry Scribd 
cover of boxed set

Native Lands – New Release

NEW RELEASE – FLORIDA FICTION SERIESIt’s an exciting day for me–one eight years in the making. Native Lands is now a reality. It went from Connecting the Dots in its original form in 2006 when I participated in a Novel in a Month group. My month stretched out into 100 months, but I did take a break from it in 2007 and didn’t return to it until earlier this year when I retitled it Safe Harbors, but there are many books with that phrase in the title. Since the book is about Native Americans–the Timucuans of north Florida–I decided to go with Native Lands because it encompasses the themes of the novel. I hope you’ll read about the book and perhaps even decide to read it! Enter the Giveaway below for the first two books in the Florida Fiction Series. Native Lands is the third and final(?) book.

Today is also my husband’s 65th birthday. Happy birthday to my young and vibrant Robert. May you forever plant our seeds in the fertile soil of our garden.

NATIVE_PBOOK005

Native Lands is a gripping and entertaining thriller with depth, wonderful characters and well-planted
parallels between the two engaging narratives. There is a beautiful and warm feel of Native Lands and an excellent and uplifting moral that won’t lecture or patronize. A truly great read.

Christoph Fischer, Author

Native Lands is a novel rich in intrigue and history as a tribe of Native Americans, thought to
be extinct, fight to save their beloved heritage. They join with others willing
to sacrifice everything to save further destruction of the Everglades and St.
Augustine.

Forbidden loves, deceptions, and murder threaten to destroy
nature and families in a saga stretching from the 1760s to the present day.

Join Locka and Mali as they lead their tribe of Timucuans
away from the Spanish near St. Augustine in 1760 and settle into a new life in
the Everglades alongside the Calusa Indians. Their progeny grow up in the
Everglades, attempting to keep their bloodlines pure.

By 2010, Mangrove Mike, Joey Cosmos, and Rob Zodiac live
among the white people and learn that the human connection transcends the fear
of extinction of their people. Barbara Evans in the Everglades and Emily Booth
in St. Augustine are the glue as the different cultures combine forces to fight
a conglomerate of international interests.

It’s a dangerous journey as this oddly matched group attempts
to halt the destruction of the natural world they treasure. Cultural boundaries
established centuries ago are erased as love and nature seek the balance lost
during the battle for power and control of the last of the Florida frontier.

 

Excerpt:

Barbara Evans sat in the living room of her house on the western edge of Chokoloskee Island, leafing through past issues of Sierra magazine, searching for an idea for her next column. She listened to the news from the television, only looking up when the local weather presented NOAA’s prediction for an active hurricane season. Then the newscaster began a report that caused Barbara to put down the magazine and devote her full attention to the screen.

“Yesterday, wood storks in Big Cypress Wildlife Management Area attacked a young boy as his mother shot this video of the assault,” the announcer said.

Barbara watched as a boy, approximately ten years old, was crying as a wood stork’s beak poked at the Mickey Mouse portrait stamped on the front of his T-shirt. Another stork approached and began nudging the foam snout of the alligator hat on the boy’s head. A man ran into the frame of the video, yelling and scaring off the wood storks as the boy howled.

“Officers from Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Commission are handling the situation. Here to talk with us is the agency’s spokesperson, Larry Castle. Larry, what’s your agency doing to make sure the tourists are safe in the Everglades?”

“Along with the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we’re asking residents and visitors to our great state to keep their distance from wildlife,” Larry said, wearing a green shirt and hat with the logo from the state’s fish and wildlife agency. “They shouldn’t feed wildlife or make any attempts to capture or touch them.”

“The parents say the wood storks just came up and attacked their child,” the newscaster said.

“Wildlife usually keeps to itself unless tempted by food. We’re investigating, but the safest thing anyone can do is to enjoy wildlife from a distance with a zoom lens on the camera.

“Thank you, Larry. The family told us they are cutting short their vacation because of this unwarranted aviary violence. Governor Rick Scott offered the family a week’s stay in Miami to make up for the attack, but the family declined the offer.”

“My son may never get over this attack.” The mother, wearing a white visor with a Minnie Mouse label on the front, appeared on the screen. “His favorite hat is now in shreds in the swamp. It has been one horrible experience.”

The newscaster came back on the screen. “The video of the attack was recorded by the mother on her cell phone.”

Barbara ran her fingers through her short curly red hair, and with the other hand reached for her phone to call Stan Hogan, her editor at The Miami Herald.

“Stan, I’ve got to write the story about the wood stork attacking the family at Big Cypress,” Barbara said. “You’ve got to let me do it.”

“If I let you write the article, it’s off limits for your column,” Stan said. “You write an objective piece, but no editorializing. Agreed?”

“Then I can write a column about it in a few weeks.”

“No. You’ve been hired as a columnist. If you want to go back to reporting, then we’ll start you on covering the commission meetings in the communities around Lake Okeechobee.”

“Come on, Stan. You know I can write a good piece. I don’t know why you won’t let me.”

“That’s my final say on the subject. You write your column or you start working the Glades County beat.”

“All right, all right.” Barbara knew being assigned the rural beat near the shores of Lake Okeechobee amounted to a death sentence for a writer. “The column is better because I can ask, ‘why the hell was the mother recording the attack instead of protecting her child?’ The kid deserved getting attacked just for wearing that stupid alligator hat. Tell them to pull the column I wrote for this week. I’ll have the new one to you later this afternoon.”

“No ‘those tourists deserved it’ crap. You got me into a load of trouble with that last piece about the pigeons and doves at that wedding in Disney World. One of the copy editors should have caught the line ‘anyone who chooses to get married in the land of Mickey Mouse deserves dead doves floating down during the vows.’”

“I can’t help it if nature keeps biting back,” Barbara said. “Just be sure they pull my old column.”

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#Romance in a Month – It’s here!

My first romance novel is now available! Behind the Altar is the story of forbidden love by a woman passionate about helping the homeless vets living in her small Florida town and a man haunted by his childhood. He’s a famous tattoo artist, and she’s kind, loving, and innocent until he rides his Harley into her heart, and they both discover they’ve never known love before. Be sure to scroll down to enter the raffle to win a paperback copy of Behind the Altar.

Title: Behind the Alter: Behind the Love Trilogy (Book 1)
Author: P.C. Zick
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: September 16, 2014
~~BUY IT NOW~~

~~ABOUT THE BOOK~~

Forbidden Love – Book #1 in the Behind the Love Series by P.C. Zick

Leah Bryant’s life satisfies all her needs. Her engagement to Jacob Davis, minister of the Sunshine Christian Church, gives her the security she requires after living in a car during her teenage years. She runs a food kitchen out of the church for homeless vets who are living on the banks of Deer River. All is perfect until the day her future mother-in-law Geraldine tells her the church is shutting down the kitchen, and Dean””Jacob’s brother””rides his Harley into her heart. Leah’s world begins to crumble as she falls into Dean’s muscular and tattooed arms. Dean, who’s been away from his home for ten years, finds himself irresistibly drawn in by Leah’s natural beauty and genuine goodness. As they fight to stay away from one another, Leah and Dean keep finding ways to be together. The more they fight the attraction, the harder it is to stay apart. Will Leah go ahead and marry Jacob despite Dean’s haunting her every thought? Will Dean exact the revenge he came home to hand out? And will Geraldine manage to keep control over the church, Jacob, and Leah? It will all be determined in Behind the Altar, a romantic story of forbidden love.

˃˃˃ Homeless vets, deranged mothers, and a tattoo artist collide in this story of true love



How can the sweet and innocent Leah make sure her fight to feed the homeless in the small town of Victory, Florida, is successful? The arrival of Dean, her fiance’s brother, confuses the matter even more as the two are uncontrollably attracted to one another.

Can love really conquer all? Dean and Leah are about to find out.

~~CONTACT THE AUTHOR~~

Other Books on Amazon: http://amzn.to/XYOtoe

Website: www.pczick.com

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Odyssey to Myself – #New Release

I named this blog “Living Lightly” because that is my intention every single day of my life–to live lightly. I didn’t start out with the lightest of hearts. I’ve had to travel down many roads to arrive where I am today. Perhaps the most traveled decade of my life occurred from 2000-2010 on a physical, mental, and spiritual level. During that decade of falling down, standing up, falling down, and standing up once again, I wrote.

I finally took all those writings–from my columns, blog posts, and journal writings–and put them together in my new book, Odyssey to Myself. The book is available in paperback and on Kindle.

Click here for Kindle version

Click on cover for Kindle version

PaperbackAugust2014Half

Click on cover for paperback

Odyssey to Myself is a world travel guide for trips to Morocco, Italy, Panama, Chile, and down Route 66 in the United States. The compilation of essays show Muslim women dressed in hijabs and working in Casablanca. Moroccan history and food provide a colorful backdrop as the author explores her place in the world.

About Odyssey to Myself:

Take a trip to Casablanca, Marrakech, Tuscany, Bocas del Toro, and Santiago as P.C. Zick writes about her experiences traveling outside the confines of her small world. Observations about life and culture bring to life the sights, sounds, and smells of the ancient alleyways of Fes, the masters of Italy, and the strategic location of Panama. The people of Morocco, Italy, Panama, and Chile come to life through the experiences of the author as she absorbs the cultures so different from her own.

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A Couscous Luncheon in Casablanca

From Odyssey to Myself:

“Traveling removes us from our small safe environment and thrusts out into the world. When I travel, I realize what a tiny ripple my life is in the ocean’s constant waves. A few months ago, I had to endure a full body MRI that lasted more than two hours. I almost swooned when the nurse told me how long I’d be in that long encompassing tunnel. She recommended I remain awake because if I moved after falling asleep, they’d have to pull me out and begin again. I did not want that to happen. My brain fought against any touch of claustrophobia as they closed me in the tube and sent me inside the machine. I frantically searched through the files in my brain. With a little prayer for help, I went into the tube and decided to travel in my memories back to the most important trips of my life.

The first trip I remembered was my visit to Morocco in 2004. I knew it was a watershed year as many things had been happening in my life, and I went on the trip to heal and find direction. I began with my arrival in Casablanca in the early morning hours after flying all night from New York City. It came back so vividly I could even smell and feel the air of my travels during a magical two weeks. Then I started on Italy from 2005, where my daughter and I went for a month to celebrate her graduation from college. I’d only gotten through the first two days when I heard a voice say they were pulling me out of the tunnel. I cursed silently, thinking I must have moved as I remembered walking the streets of Milan and marveling at all the beautiful shoes.

“You were a great patient,” the nurse said. “It didn’t take quite two hours, but almost. You’re done.”

That’s the beauty of travel. It removes us from our world into a kaleidoscope of colors, smells, noises, and textures. This book explores some of those experiences as I embarked on an odyssey to find myself during one of the darkest decades of my life.”

Drinking from the fountain in Assisi

Drinking from the fountain in Assisi

#Maya Angelou – Aspire to her Greatness

Maya Angelou at the first inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993

Maya Angelou at the first inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993

We lost a great one yesterday with the passing of Maya Angelou. But thank goodness she passed through this life and graced us with her presence.

I loved turning my students onto the poetry of Ms. Angelou. When she was called upon to write and recite a poem for Bill Clinton’s first inauguration in 1993, she had less than three months to write a poem on command for a world debut. As a writer, I can’t imagine the pressure that must have been, but Ms. Angelou did it. All she ever wanted was to be a blessing in this lifetime. She far exceed her own expectations.

The poem she created for the nation, On the Pulse of Morning, is chilling in its preciseness of language, thrilling in its dramatic contrasts, and loving in its portrayal of hope for our nation.

To me the final verses of the poem are the most powerful. I loved reading this aloud to teenagers who, despite themselves, could not help but be inspired by this great woman’s words. I read an interview after the inauguration where she said she was disappointed in the poem. Please rest easy, Ms. Angelou, there is no disappointment in these words of encouragement.

Excerpted from On the Pulse of Morning (final verses):

The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.

No less to Midas than the mendicant.

No less to you now than the mastodon then.

Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.

Natives Lands – Chapter One

TimucuanWhen the Spanish landed near St. Augustine, Florida, in the sixteenth century, the Timucua (Spanish named them; the Timucua near St.Augustine called their village Seloy) occupied several hundred villages in one-third of Florida. Most historians agree they lived from St. Augustine to west of Tallahassee, and south to Tampa Bay. Much of what we do know about this group of Native Americans comes from Fr. Francisco Pareja, a Franciscan priest who served at a mission north of Jacksonville. Some estimates put the Timucua population at 100,000 in 1500 A.D., according to Florida’s First People by Robin Brown. (Click here to read previous post on the Timucua.)

However, by “1800 A.D. all aboriginal Floridians were gone,” Brown states.

I’ve never bought it. How does an entire population of people disappear completely? They must have realized at some point, they weren’t going to survive the Spanish invasion into their lands, so I imagine them banding together and escaping to the Everglades. That’s what the Seminoles (Creeks) did when they found the Spanish would not tolerate their presence in north and central Florida in the 1800s. The Seminoles fled to the Everglades. The white man couldn’t survive the harsh conditions nature provided in the Everglades. But the people who lived in balance with nature and respected its power and beauty could. My new novel, Native Lands, explores the possibility that the Timucua didn’t become extinct but simply went into exile.

The novel’s first draft is complete and ready for its first read by my beta pals. Even though the majority of the novel is set in contemporary Florida, there are flashbacks two hundreds years to Locka and the Seloy living near St. Augustine. Here’s a peek at the first chapter (in draft form). I would love to hear your comments and/or suggestions.

Native Lands

By P.C. Zick

Chapter One
1760 – near St. Augustine, Florida

Locka wiped the blood off his spear with his blood-stained fingers.

Their blood is the same color as mine, he thought. A chill descended over him, despite the heat of the morning air from the sun rising over the ocean to the east.

He looked down at the body of the man he’d stabbed through the heart.

“Go back to the village now,” he said to Mali who stood nearby holding the moss the Spanish soldier had ripped from around her neck and from her waist. “Stay to the river banks.”

Only a few minutes earlier, the day held bright promises as Locka left his village tucked into a grove of live oaks dripping in gray moss. He walked through the marsh, careful to step between the sharp reeds, as he headed east to the estuary. Rich with a variety of landscapes, the area was a great provider of food for his tribe, the Seloy. Locka headed for the estuary where the tide would soon be high. Locka wanted to reach the nets he’d laid the night before while it was still low tide. When the water returned, it would empty any of the mullet or snook that had swum into his nets.

He noticed Mali walking parallel to the marsh carrying a large basket. Locka knew that she was probably headed to the blackberry bushes between the tree line and marshes.

Locka watched her graceful movements as she carried the basket on her hip just above the line of her moss skirt. More moss, entwined with small shells and pearls, hung around her neck. It swung from side to side revealing her firm and full breasts not yet turned soft from nursing a child. He knew soon Mali would be married to one of his young warriors although he knew she wasn’t yet promised to anyone.

He wanted to turn away from watching her, but he couldn’t. Her straight black hair swung down her back, and soon, as the summer heat intensified, she’d wear it up in a knot to keep her neck cooler. Her almond-shaped brown eyes and her ample body made him feel the risings of something he hadn’t felt in a very long time. Locka found himself reluctantly and frequently mesmerized by her. She reminded him of his wife Suri before she gave birth to their son Olio. When Mali turned and saw him staring at her, he quickly turned away, missing her wave and smile. Even though his wife vanished five years ago after a raid on their village, he still ached for her and kept himself away from the young maidens of the village who were more than willing to take the handsome and brave Locka as their husband.

When he turned back around, he saw Mali nearing the bushes laden with blackberries. He also saw a white man, wearing boots and a tall metal hat, come out from the woods. Locka recognized him as one of the Spanish soldiers from the fort downriver. The soldier moved toward Mali, and when he stood in front of her, he reached for her breasts as Mali screamed.

“Locka!” Mali’s voice carried across the marsh to the estuary, but it only excited the soldier more as he pulled Mali toward him and pushed his leg between hers. With one hand holding her close, he used the other hand to rip the moss skirt away from her body, and then he reached down between her legs with his free hand.

Locka was on the move at the first sight of the soldier and before her screams rang out across the marsh. When he reached them, Mali was pushing the soldier away, but he held her tightly as he continued to probe her with his hands and mouth. So absorbed was the Spanish soldier in his abuse that he failed to see Locka’s approach.

Locka leaped from a crouching position and landed close to the soldier. Locka shoved him to the ground as Mali escaped to the side. She watched from several feet away as Locka shoved his spear into the man’s chest. He died quickly with the smirk on his face wiped away and replaced by the open-mouthed shock of fear.

Blood dripped from his spear when he pulled it out of the dead man’s chest. Locka reached down and rubbed the soldier’s blood on his hands and then smeared the blood on his face.

“He won’t bother you again,” Locka said without looking at Mali.

“Thank you, Locka,” she said. “I was sure he was going to either kill me or take me back to the fort.”

“Go back to the village now,” Locka said. “I’ll take care of the body.”
Mali reached to touch his arm, but Locka pulled away abruptly as if she’d slapped him. He turned his attention to the dead man as he cleaned the end of his spear.

“I’ll cover him at the base of the burial mound.”

Mali nodded and then headed back to the village.

After wiping the blood off the spear, he put it back in its pouch and slung it over his shoulder. He bent down to grab the boots of the dead man and dragged the body to the line of trees away from the water. When he came to the base of a mound twelve feet high, he dropped the feet and began digging a shallow grave with his spear. If the animals came and dug him up, so be it. He at least made the effort to bury him.

When he finished his work, he stood and looked east to the estuary and the river beyond. The sun was higher in the sky, and the water was returning to the mud flats of the estuary. On the opposite bank of the river, Locka could see the dunes laden with the orange sunflowers and yellow daisies of spring interspersed with the tall and spindly sea oats waving in the wind. He couldn’t see the ocean beyond because the land was so flat and the dunes were taller than his six-foot height, but he could hear the constant motion of waves just beyond the dunes.

Now that the water was coming back into the estuary, he’d have to walk to the beach and spear food from the sea since he’d missed the chance at low tide to find any oysters or conch.

Before going back for his canoe to row across the river to the dunes, he climbed another mound, this one made from the shells thrown there by the Seloy tribe for many centuries. From the mound, he viewed the different landscapes that provided his people with the means to live an abundant life during the warm months. The Seloy had just returned from their wintering site deep in the woods to the west a few weeks before. During the winter months, Locka missed the variety of their coastal home. Despite the violence of his encounter with the soldier, he managed to pull his concentration to the landscapes of the ocean, river, estuary, marshes, woods, and creek that flowed behind their village.

He watched as a few egrets and ibis pecked in the mud for the last bit of food from the flats before water covered the whole area once again. A lone great blue heron stood at attention at the line of water, patiently waiting for a fish to appear. During low tide, the birds were so abundant, they hid the mud. Now, only a dozen or so of the hardiest souls remained. A pelican flew close over his head spying to see if he had any fish he was willing to sacrifice. The sea beat upon the shores as Locka watched from the mound. From his vantage point, he could see in all directions. His village lay to the west in a low-lying canopy of live oak trees weathered by the constant salt breezes. A small creek ran behind their seasonal home. He surveyed the river immediately in front of him and let his gaze head south to the settlement of St. Augustine.

The sound of trees being ripped from their roots like a black bear ripping the meat from the bones of a fawn, tore through Locka’s heart as the Spanish cleared even more land to build houses and churches from the coquina shell weathered and crushed by the tides.

To celebrate Earth Day 2014, my Florida fiction books are only .99 cents on Kindle during April. Click on the covers below to purchase.

Tortoise Stew - Small town Florida gone wild

Tortoise Stew – Small town Florida gone wild

Trails in the Sand - Oil spill, sea turtles, and love

Trails in the Sand – Oil spill, sea turtles, and love

#Florida Fiction – Celebrate #Earth Day 2014

DSC03075Florida–surrounded on both sides by water–is vulnerable to the changes inherent in the world today. Sea level rises, beach erosion, and increased intensity of hurricanes leave the state open to natural disasters. Add to that the unmitigated sprawl of developers to the Sunshine State for its landscape and warm weather, and all the elements for disaster are in place.

I made Florida my home for thirty years. I hope to return there in a few years. The state is in my blood, which means I’ll be writing about the characters and environment for a long time. I’m working on the first draft of my third book of Florida Environmental Fiction, while my first two books, Trails in the Sand and Tortoise Stew, are available to read at any time.

Click on photo

Click on cover

 

Trails in the Sand –

***Love Triangles, Endangered Sea Turtles, and BP’s Oil Spill

***A Florida Novel by award-winning Florida author, P.C. Zick

When environmental writer Caroline Carlisle sets off to report on endangered sea turtles during the BP’s oil spill, the last thing she expects is to uncover secrets – secrets that threaten to destroy her family, unless she can heal the hurts from a lifetime of lies. To make matters worse, Caroline’s love for her late sister’s husband, Simon, creates an uproar in a southern family already set on a collision course with its past.

From Caroline’s sister: “My sister is nothing more than a common whore,” Amy said when Simon told her he was leaving her. “You just have to face it and get over some childhood notion about her being your soul mate.”

On BP’s oil spill: “Two weeks after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, dead sea turtles began washing up on the beaches near Pass Christian, Mississippi. Beach walkers discovered the stranded animals on sand darkened by the blood seeping from the turtles’ nostrils and underbelly.”

Using BP oil spill timeline and facts as the backdrop, Trails in the Sand explores the fight to restore balance and peace, in nature and in a family, as both spiral toward disaster.

 

TORTpsdTortoise Stew 

Florida Fiction filled with intrigue, corruption, twisted love, and outrageous Florida  characters

A Florida Environmental Novel from Award-winning author, P.C. Zick

Small town politics at its best, worst, and wildest in this novel about the development of Florida at any cost.

“The bomb sat in a bag on Kelly Sands’ desk for an hour before she noticed it.” And so begins the raucous journey through small town Florida politics in Tortoise Stew.

Kelly Sands, a reporter, covers some of the more controversial and contentious issues in a small Florida town. Dead armadillos and gopher tortoise carcasses left as calling cards to those opposing the development of rural Florida show small town politics at its worst.

Commission meetings erupt into all-out warfare. With the murder of one commissioner and the suicide of his wife, Kelly begins an investigation that threatens to topple the carefully laid plans of the developers and politicians to bring a movie studio and landing strip within the city limits of the small town. When a semi-truck from Monster Mart runs over and kills a young girl, the environmentalists become even more vocal against the developers’ plans. All the while, Kelly struggles to overcome and escape her past, which catches up to her as she follows the antics of the politicians, developers, and environmentalists. With the help of her boss, Bart, and her best friend, Molly, she uncovers more than corruption in small town politics.

From Virtual to Live Friend

Rachelle and P.C.

Rachelle and P.C.

I’m fortunate to have a load of virtual friends and fellow authors through my blogs and my writers’ group. When I first started my leap into Indie Authordom, one person appeared in my online life and has remained constant. She writes under the name, Rachelle Ayala, and she was the first to appear on my Author Wednesday posts over at Writing Whims.

I’ve read all her books and reviewed them. I belong to two writing online groups in which she’s involved. I even joined a class she’s teaching on how to write a romance in a month.

We’ve exchanged personal emails and feel we know one another through our novels and through our personal sharing, yet we’ve never laid eyes on one another, until yesterday.

Rachelle posted that she was visiting Pittsburgh and I told her she would be in my part of the world. She invited me to join her and her sister for lunch at the Frick Estate about an hour from my house. I was nervous about this meeting–the first time I’d ventured out to meet one of my very dear and treasured online friends. What if it was awkward, or worse, we disliked one another on sight?

Not to worry. Rachelle is even more delightful in person. And with a mansion more than one hundred years old. we wandered the grounds and house, imagining putting characters in the settings surrounding us.

My literal work world has shrunk in the past two years to a 10 x 10 office. But the world is much closer than ever before, and I’m all the richer for it. Otherwise, how else would have met such a wonderful woman and writer who lives on the other side of the country from me?

Click here for Rachelle Ayala’s Author Central Page on Amazon.

 

Hazy is Not Spam

2FBHazy.jpgI call her Hazy; she calls me P.C. And we call each other friends.

Thankfully, she contacted me recently to ask me a question. She thought it strange that I had not been responding to comments she left on my blog. She knows me well and knew something must be amiss if I wasn’t responding. We finally figured out that her comments of the past few weeks were being sent to my WordPress spam folder, along with all the strange symbol-names and foreign-language comments.

Her likes appeared just fine, but for some reason, her comments did not. I featured Hazy on Author Wednesday a few months back, and her post received more spam comments than any other posts to date. We’re not sure if that’s what set off the spamming of her comments or not. Thankfully, I was able to pull her comments out of the dead-end file and respond to them in my usual manner.

I’m sending out this post for a couple of reasons.

  1. I respond to every legitimate comment on my blog. If at all possible, I respond within hours. I enjoy every single comment and want those who take the time to respond to know how much I appreciate them.
  2. I hope if you’ve left me comments, and I haven’t responded,  you’ll let me know so I can search through my folders.
  3. If you feel your comments to other blogs go unanswered, you’ll make the effort to ask why.
  4.  Finally, if you miss a regular commenter on your blog, you’ll check into the situation.

Thanks to Hazy for bringing this situation to light.