Several 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.
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.
Suwannee 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.
Most 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.
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).