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A Pretty Cool Day In Florida

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For almost two years now I’ve been associated with Pandamoon Publishing, first as an author and more recently as a publicist. At times the latter role requires more effort and schedule juggling than the former but it is one of the few times since receiving a degree in marketing from the University of Texas in the early ’80’s that I have actually done something related to my studies. That’s kind of cool.

Aside from working on my next book(s), there are eleven more under contract now, I have had occasion to work with a diverse group of fellow writers. Personally I think all of them are more gifted than I am. A few of them have been fooled into thinking I’m as talented as they are. I’m good a creating illusions. Until yesterday, though, I had never actually met any of the other authors, other than chatting with them online. That isn’t to say I don’t know these people and over the past couple of years we haven’t become friends.

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The Pandamoon stable of authors is approaching two dozen and continues to grow. The publisher is expanding its editorial and marketing staffs to handle the bandwidth of all those new books. For a relatively small and fairly new kid on the publishing block we are making some waves and gaining attention. And a lot of that has to do with the effort and coordination between the marketing team and the authors. One of the success stories is Steph Post, author of A Tree Born Crooked.

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Steph and I both live in Florida. When I lived in Pinellas County, we were even on the same side of Tampa Bay, just a few miles apart. Close, but we never had an occasion to ever meet in person…until yesterday. This time there was no excuse. She was appearing as a panelist at the 6th Annual University of Central Florida Book Festival in Orlando. Currently I live a little over five miles from the venue. So, yesterday morning I pedaled my bike northward on Alafaya Trail and parked it in a bike rack in the midst of the festivities. I attended the panel discussion on mystery and crime writing. Responding to questions from a standing room only crowd Steph shined. I was proud of her not only because we are colleagues at Pandamoon but also because over the past couple of years she has become a dear friend of mine.

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Afterwards she signed my copy of her debut novel and we took a picture together as proof that we had actually been in the same place at the same time. I met her husband, Ryan, and a couple of her high school friends who came out to the event in support of her. Really, what was important, though, was I got to hang out with one of my favorite authors. How cool is that? I’m such a fan boy.

Seriously, though, I loved Steph’s book from the first read through of the manuscript and since  it’s publication I have found it to be one of the easiest things I have ever promoted. Even if I wasn’t closely associated with the marketing support for the book, she would still be one of my favorite authors. I’m pretty sure that very soon her fame is going to blow-up in a huge way and everyone will be talking about her books. She has genuine talent that she has honed through the discipline of scheduling her time. She is a professional writer in every sense of the word. Personally I have no idea how she juggles everything she does, because is is also a writing coach and educator as well as a wife and ‘mother’ of several rescue pooches. But once you meet her and talk to her you really get the vibe that you’re in the presence of a remarkable individual.

As I pedaled home after spending a few hours at the festival I was thinking about how great it would be to get all the Pandamoon authors together in the same place at the same time. We have talked about it and even have a name for the event all picked out: “Pandamoonium”. I’m sure that sooner or later it will happen. Likely as not we’ll assemble in some central location, probably Austin, Texas, which is close to where the publisher is based. Only then will the sensation of being in the presence of greatness that I felt yesterday be eclipsed. Despite our geographic barriers I work with some amazing people.

It is a testament to the technological advancements over the past dozen of so years that people from every time zone in the western hemisphere have meetings regularly to share information and ideas about such topics as establishing and promoting author’s brand. Pandamoon Publishing is cutting edge in a lot of ways.

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As for Steph Post, what she has done – pretty much on her own, albeit with some support from the Pandamoon marketing team – is nothing short of phenomenal. In the months since she signed with Pandamoon she has worked diligently on her brand, posting attention getting pictures that supported the theme and mood of her book, which is about crime in small town Florida. She contacted other authors in her genre, got to know them personally, read and reviewed their books, interviewed them, and her attention was reciprocated with reviews for her book. She arranged interviews on radio shows, with bloggers and scheduled personal appearances. Even before its release to the public, A Tree Born Crooked was receiving critical acclaim. Since its release it is being considered for some prestigious awards.

The reward for all her hard work was evidenced not only in the number of people who purchased Steph’s book yesterday but also the number of new friends she made as a result of her participating int he panel discussion. She signed a lot of autographs. In this age of Internet distribution and sales, one thing has not changed and it is ironic that, really, it is the same as it has been for the past couple hundred years. How a book is marketed always comes down to pitching it one reader at a time.

#UCFBookFestival #Orlando #Florida #Authors #StephPost #ATreeBornCrooked #PandamoonPublishing #ElgonWilliams #Publicity #Marketing #BookSigning #MysteryWriter #CrimeWriter

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A Tree Born Crooked by Steph Post – Coming September 30

One week from today A Tree Born Crooked by Steph Post will be available from Amazon in both Kindle and paperback. You can still pre-order so that you will automatically receive your Kindle download the moment it is released.

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A little over a year ago I met Steph at and online get together for Pandamoon Publishing. We are both part of a select group, what I’m sure will someday be referred to as the ‘First Gen’ Pandas. In the past few months I’ve gotten the chance to get to know her and work with her on a few projects as well as interact with her in conference calls and meetings. We have interviewed one another and and shared ideas on a number of topics related to writing. She has to be one of the nicest people I know. Having read A Tree Born Crooked a couple of times, now, I’m in awe of her skill as a writer.

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She is one of the rare one-third of Floridians who are native, born in St. Augustine and raised in the land of contrast: beaches and swamps, pine trees and palms, sunbathers and sunburn, alligators and ‘crackers’…well, you get the idea. Currently she teaches at a high school for the performing arts in the west central portion of the state, is married and plays mom to a couple of very cute dogs. She is obsessed with the TV show Justified and is extremely supportive of other authors and their work.

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Her book is about the side of Florida that people may not see all that often but that doesn’t mean it’s not here. She writes in a style that is authentic to her roots developing memorable characters.

“James Hart, with a tough-as-nails exterior and an aching emptiness inside, does not want to go home. Yet when James receives a postcard from his mother, Birdie Mae, informing him of his father’s death, he bites the bullet and returns to the rural and stagnant town of Crystal Springs, Florida, a place where dreams are born to die. James is too late for Orville’s funeral, but just in time to become ensnared in the deadly repercussions of his younger brother Rabbit’s life of petty crime. When Rabbit is double crossed by his cousin in a robbery-turned-murder, James and a local bartender, the unsettling and alluring Marlena Bell, must come up with a plan to save Rabbit’s skin. A whirlwind road trip across the desolate Florida panhandle ensues as James tries to stay one step ahead of the vengeful Alligator Mafia and keep his brother alive. With bullets in the air and the ghosts of heartache, betrayal and unspeakable rage haunting him at every turn, James must decide just how much he is willing to risk to protect his family and find a way home.”

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#StephPost #ATreeBornCrooked #NewReleaseBooks #Florida #GritLit

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Hot Under The Collar About Things

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Okay so it is hot in The Sunshine State, AKA Florida. It’s August. It’s supposed to be hot, right? How hot is it? Just about as hot a two gerbils farting around in a wool sock, I’d say. In Orlando in the summertime you either get used to the heat out of necessity for simple survival or you spend your life running from air-conditioned building to air-conditioned building.

I’m sort of acclimated, I guess. I’ve spent most of my adult life living in Florida. I do all sort of crazy crap like riding a bike to and from work. Also, I ride a bike when I go shopping. I ride a bike to take a tour of the neighborhood and get some exercise. I ride a bike for a mile in 95 degree F heat and hardly break a sweat. Yes, I’m acclimated.

I ride a bike because mass transit in Orlando virtually does not exist int eh area where I live. This is also sadly true of most places in the US. You see, somewhere back in ancient history, right around the time I ws born, there was an absolute commitment made to being a car-nation (not to be confused wight he flower). So, except for really big cities mass transit in America is a joke. And even in some of the big cities it is not all that hot.

Which brings me back to the subject of heat. In Florida you can smell it I’m serious. You wake up on a summer morning, step outside the door, the day already smells hot. There really is no other way to describe it. I guess Floridians complain about the heat/humidity around this time of year just like Yankees whine about the cold in January and the foot of snow that fell last night on top of the seven accumulated feet already covering the ground. Yeah, opposite ends of the heat scale to be sure, but its weather related. People will forever complain about the weather until congress takes control of it and then we can blame them for all the stagnant air outside of Washington DC as well as everything else that never seems to change quickly enough.

I miss living up north but only when it is cooler there than is here and not cold. I left the north sometime after the Blizzard of ’78 – or was that ’77? It’s hard to recall that far back. But somewhere in the late ’70’s there was a blizzard and that was one of the main reasons my family moved South. Silly me I net back North for 9 years in the 1990’s, though. And experienced other blizzards.

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So, the kids in Florida are back in school and the day they started the new school year was the hottest day so far in 2014. Imagine that! When I think of school I think about fall, leaves turning an a nip in the air first thing int he morning. But those memories come from a long time ago in a different very world. But for all the lacking of anything for me to grab hold of and relate to, the busses were running and it seemed like a good day. It was peaceful enough just to have the ambient noise level diminish as the hooligans were locked away in their assigned rooms for some force-fed, Common Core complaint instruction.

I doubt the kids learned much of anything not he first day of school. It always seemed a wasted day backk when I was in school, in Ohio. Here, because of the oppressive heat, except that how much kids hate sitting in a classroom after having a few weeks off, there isn’t much similarity. Since the invention of schools one thing has never changed, most kids would rather be anywhere else. And it’s because the way we teach kids is the way we think they need to be taught instead of the way most would actually learn. I’m just saying. From my experience back in prehistoric times when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, I did a lot of self-educating.What with my dyslexia, I would have never learned how to read had I waited to be instructed while serving my 12-year, state-mandated sentence for no other crimes than being born and turning age 6. I kind of had to take charge of my education at times otherwise I would have wasted most of those twelve years and come out of it with a diploma and no common sense. But now we have standards. Common core in lieu of common sense.

It win’t gettin’ better. Yeah, I know I used ain’t. I live in the South. It;s somewhat expected, right. And, besides, I come from a long line of Rednecks, some distinguished, others not so much. Anyway, had i not decided early on to take charge of my education I might never have learned much of anything except what i started out with. Oh yeah, I learned how to tie my shoes. I did learn that while in school. I probably learned some other things but I can’t recall what those things are at the moment, which kind of makes my point.

Yes, I’m being facetious, But I firmly believe that if kids are in charge of their learning to a large extent and the teacher is there to give them direction and guidance, things go more smoothly and there will be some learning taking place. Force feeding creates resentment and little real learning. If you need an example, here it is. Do you remember how to take the square root or anything? Have you ever used that arcane knowledge? Unless you’re a mathematician or an engineer, I doubt you do.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating the cessation math instruction – Far from it. I’m saying make education relevant. Prepare kids for the real world not some hypothetical utopia that does exist where there will be jobs for every idiot the system churns out. Don’t teach for the intent of administering some stupid tests that measure nothing except how well kids were prepared to take a damned test. Yes, I’m including the dreaded SAT and ACT examinations in that as well. And while we are seriously looking at the educational system take another look at how long kids need to be in the classroom in their attempts to learn something. Starting school on the hottest day of the year is kind of crazy. And, anyway, whether it is 160 days or 180 days or some other number of days that kids are required to attend school having a body present for the process doesn’t mean the mind will follow. I recall spending the last three months of my mandatory education marking time, because I had already completed everything rehired of me to receive my diploma. Kind of silly, isn’t.

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#Florida #heat #schools #education #CommonCore