Suwannee, Florida, Riding and a free Promo

Suwannee1Several months ago I received a very complimentary email from a new reader. He’d downloaded a free copy of my first novel, “The Big Bend” through one of the promotional email services and enjoyed it so much he purchased the other three novels in the Terry Rankin series. And he decided to invite me to his home in Suwannee, Florida, at my convenience (http://www.suwanneeriverchamber.com/).

I was at the time wondering just where my fifth novel, titled “Standing Wave”, was going, both literally and figuratively. Due to more than a few commitments I couldn’t take him up on his lovely offer until this month. So last Tuesday I drove up to Suwannee. Needless to say (I am rapidly coming to resent that phrase, even as useful as it is), I did have some reservations and I have no doubt he did, as well. But it was only a matter of a few minutes after meeting him that those reservations disappeared, and we were able to relax and just have fun together. On his boat, in fact.

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Within an hour of my arrival we had the cover off his 24’ Pathfinder, put it in the water and took off for an afternoon of gunkholing in the marshes between Suwannee and the Gulf of Mexico (http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=suwannee+florida&qpvt=suwannee+florida&FORM=IGRE). And that’s what we did for every day of my stay, when we were not on the roads touring the area and meeting some very interesting and wonderful people.

Suwannee3Suwannee is right on the coast, surrounded by forest and small farms inland and marsh along the coast. The water is shallow (downright skinny at low tide) and just a fine place to find game fish of every type. If you prefer to get to know an area up close and personal, rent a kayak or canoe (or bring your own), get a paddle map at nearly any store in the area, strap on your life jacket and take off. There are tours of the area, and as confusing as the canals can be, it is best to go with a crowd and a guide. And this is just about the perfect time of the year to do it, too.

Wednesday evening, the local library held a “Meet and Greet” for me. I spoke about writing, of course, and my novels, but mostly the conversation was a mix of what I needed to know to include Suwannee into my fifth novel and just how incredibly easy it is to publish in this digital age. We all agreed that the physical book is much to be preferred to just about anything else, but cost and ease of use encourage the purchase of digital books.

Suwannee4Most of the homes in the town back onto canals, so most come with boathouses and most have one or more boats. Almost all are built up on columns, between 4 and 16’ off the ground. Hurricanes and storm surges are a fact of life along the coast.

Suwannee used to rank among the top fishing spots in the US, which, sad to say, contributed to the loss of much of the fish population along that section of the coast. Well, that and the commercial fishermen and their huge nets, of course. But the fish have returned, and if you enjoy fishing, Suwannee is ready and willing to help you find them. Some of the best fishing guides live right in town, and some of the best food to be had can be enjoyed in any of the fine local eateries in the area.

I made a lot of new friends in that lovely little town, and I will return to continue my research and work on “Standing Wave”.

If you’re looking to do something interesting this fall or winter, I strongly suggest you visit Suwannee, Florida. The food is good, the fishing is good, the boating is good and the folks are wonderful. Just tell them I sent you.

I got back to Dunnellon Friday morning, and spent the day catching up on my emails and newsgroups (I did bring my laptop but didn’t get much use out of it in Suwannee). Saturday, after feeding the horses and other critters, I spent much of the day resting (I am supposed to be an old fart, after all). This morning, we saddled up the horses and went riding (which made me very grateful for Saturday) for several hours. And now, at 7:30, my butt is sore, though the rest of me feels pretty good about a very busy and productive week.

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I received Chapter 17 of the audio book version of “Hog Valley” from the narrator/producer yesterday; It listens just as well as the first 16 chapters, and sets up the rest of the tale for the listener very nicely. I am starting to get excited about this…

In fact, on the 18th and 19th of this month – that’s next Friday and Saturday – the Kindle version of “Hog Valley” will be free for download. It is the second novel in the series, but if you haven’t read the first, it really does not matter. It’s a great story (or so the reviewers on Amazon tell me).

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About Gary Showalter

Gary Showalter was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. He lived in Aruba, Florida and the Panama Canal Zone before joining the U.S. Army during the 1960s. Following his discharge from the Army, Mr. Showalter picked cotton in East Texas, baled hay in Ardmore Oklahoma, sold light bulbs in Los Angeles, California, and built cattle pens in Fallon, Nevada (during a blizzard, of course). After settling in Atlanta, Georgia, Mr. Showalter worked as a professional gardener before turning his hand to furniture making. In 1981, he moved to Israel, married, and raised four children while working as a furniture maker, silversmith, goldsmith, and ornamental wood turner. He served in the Israel Defense Forces Reserves for sixteen years, and when not on active duty he worked in government and private security. He has also served in senior management positions in two software development companies in Israel. During his time in Israel, Mr. Showalter published articles dealing with international terror and the Israel-Arab conflict in the Jerusalem Post, Israel national News and several political science web sites. Mr. Showalter returned to the United States in the fall of 2003, to care for an elderly parent. He published his first novel, “The Big Bend”, in the fall of 2008. His second novel, “Hog Valley”, is now in print. Mr. Showalter's third novel, “Twisted Key”, was published in the fall of 2011, and his fourth novel, "Lonesome Cove" is now available in Kindle format and should be published in paper near the end of 2012. He currently lives in Deland, Fl, where he is co-authoring "A Silent Star" with Tony Attanasio. "A Silent Star" is the true tale (though novelized, with names changed for security reasons) about the 4-person covert action team sent into Yemen to capture Osama Bin laden immediately after the bombing of the USS Cole in the Aden harbor in Yemen in October of 2000.
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