Friday, January 31, 2014

BooksAlive 2014 Photo Blog (Part the First)

Tomorrow is BooksAlive, the annual festival of books in Panama City. I'm wrangling author Bill Roorbach, who is a pretty chill dude, and whose latest novel is even now being adapted as a series for HBO. So here are some pics of our day:
Bill teaching my Education Encore class at GCSC in the a.m.

Cynthia Graubart, Patti Callahan Henry and Cassandra King at Friday's luncheon in PCB.

Bill talked to two groups at Mosley High in the afternoon.
 Friday evening was a get-acquainted gathering for the authors, volunteers and library folks at the Harbor House social room in St. Andrews.
Debra with John Corley, author Chuck Barrett and writer Ruth Corley

Ruth with Hal and new author, Milinda Stephenson 

Library Foundation president Marilyn Fennimore tries to get the crowd's attention.

Me with author Pat Conroy and literary publicist Kathie Bennett.
I'll be posting photos from the Saturday events late Saturday night (or possibly Sunday). It's at FSU-Panama City tomorrow from 9 a,m, to 4 p.m., and the author sessions are free. Come check it out and say hello.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

New book by Dorsey nets you this throwback interview for fun

Tim Dorsey has a new book hitting the stands today, the latest misadventure of his homocidal protagonist Serge Storms: "Tiger Shrimp Tango." (Read an excerpt here.)

I first met Tim 12 years ago at BooksAlive, where his reading and storytelling amused me and made my son laugh hysterically. We've been fans ever since.

I got to write a feature article about Tim that same month, and here it is in case you missed it (from The News Herald, February 2002):

Tampa author Tim Dorsey loves his wacky home state

... They entered Bay County and came to Panama City, spring break territory. Jethro eyed the motel balconies. "Life has a cruel way of taking the youngest and the brightest." The balconies were enclosed in bars and cages to prevent the brightest from falling on their heads. ... 

- Excerpt from Hammerhead Ranch Motel by Tim Dorsey 

Tim Dorsey considers himself a Florida native, which he maintains is a good thing despite the way he depicts Floridians in his "tropical noir" novels.

"My parents moved to a place close to West Palm Beach when I was 1 year old," Dorsey said. "I was at a reading once and somebody asked if I was a native; I said, 'Well, yes,' and somebody who had read my bio called me on it."

Having spent most of his 40 years in the Sunshine State - he left, briefly, to earn a degree from Auburn University in the state next door - Dorsey understands the pride factor of being a native.

"The way I feel about it, if I can't claim this then I'm a man without a state," he said. "I am very proud of being from Florida, or at least for the years I've lived here."

Born in Indiana, Dorsey grew up in Riviera Beach, a small town about an hour north of Miami. He now lives with his wife and two daughters in Tampa, where he makes his living - and is building a reputation - as a writer of wacky crime novels set in the Sunshine State.

Florida has a reputation across the country as an oddball state, though probably not on a par with California. Dorsey takes that oddity to an extreme in his novels, Florida Road Kill, Hammerhead Ranch Motel, Orange Crush and the upcoming Triggerfish Twist.

"The noir part of it is a proud reveling in it, like tattooing yourself up," Dorsey said. "When my children were born, the craziness in the newspapers started to worry me or make me angry, and we asked ourselves, 'Are we crazy to stay here? Can we raise kids here?' But every time we leave the state, we're so happy to get back - it looks so beautiful."

Popularized in the works of South Florida writers such as Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiassen, the so-called "Florida genre" now has a following worldwide. However, in-state readers generally perceive it to be non-fiction, Dorsey said.

"If you have a feel for Florida, you can't top reality," he said.

One example: When Dorsey turned in his manuscript for Orange Crush - a book about "dirtbags running for political office," he said - his publisher told him no one would be interested in Florida politics.

Then the great election debacle of 2000 erupted, and as one might suspect, Orange Crush's depiction of the backroom deals between Big Sugar, Big Tobacco and Big Government did well.

"I do it as a caricature, but the point is that it represents something much closer to reality than you might see written elsewhere," Dorsey said. "I think we as a society have lost our outrage factor. We sort of accept a lot of that stuff. When I was reporting there, either figuratively or literally my jaw was hanging open the whole time."

Dorsey with my writing group on a recent tour stop in PC.
Dorsey is a former police and court reporter, general assignments reporter, political reporter and copy desk editor for several newspapers. He covered Tallahassee for The Tampa Tribune, where he later served as night metro editor and news coordinator. He left that position in 1999 to write novels full time.

Not bad for a guy with a bachelor's degree in transportation.

"I have no idea what that degree is about," he said. "That was a classic case of me being Tim Dorsey and just screwing up my credits really badly."

Dorsey graduated from Auburn in 1983 after spending time in the engineering, business and journalism programs and working for the student newspaper, The Plainsman.

"All this time, I was working on the paper because I dreamed of writing a book, but I figured I've got to do something responsible for a living," he said. "Writing books, it's just not responsible to chase it - no, seriously."

Dorsey admired the work of novelists who had come out of journalism backgrounds, but when he examined his credits he realized it would take a couple more years to earn a journalism degree. That wouldn't do. The quickest alternative was to take a few more classes and settle for transportation - whatever that was.

"The head of the journalism department said, 'What the hell is Tim Dorsey doing in transportation?' while I was (editor of The Plainsman)," he said. "I probably had the lowest GPA of anybody who didn't go below a 'C.'"

His schizoid college experience reflects Dorsey's take on the divided nature of his home state. Some Floridians think the state has at least two distinct personalities; Dorsey thinks the number is closer to nine.

"Florida could easily be a nation unto itself, or a couple of nations," he said. "If you go to a beach bar in Jacksonville, you'll see pictures on the wall of Vince Dooley and Bear Bryant, and you know this isn't Miami Beach. But don't get me wrong - I love Miami. I love the downtown area where everybody's speaking Spanish. I like variety."

Dorsey even revels in his inadequacies as a translator. On one Miami trip, he felt pretty good about himself when he ordered a meal in Spanish with all the right accentuations in all the right places. The waitress smiled and replied with a fluency that left him flustered and admitting he couldn't understand her.

"But that was great," he said.

In preparation for writing, Dorsey travels the state like a movie location scout. He takes notes and photographs possible sites to use in a plot, then refers to the material later for detail.

His debut effort, Florida Road Kill, started out as more of a travelogue. Dorsey thought he'd revisit some of the strange roadside attractions that had filled the state in the pre-Disney era - places his family visited when he was a child.

"I love Florida cheese," he said. "Weeki Wachee, Cypress Gardens, all those mom-and-pop motels that were out there before all the chains. They were great. But somebody said, 'Make it a mystery. It'll sell better.'"

The result was a story of "dirtbags on a crime spree," Dorsey said. The lead dirtbag was Serge A. Storms, "a loveable serial killer, the character you hate to love."

Visitors to his Web site can see some of his photos of real-life places and events described in the books; read the first chapters of each of the books; view the book covers as they appeared in other countries; and see photos he took at readings and signings.

The site also features a glimpse into a wooden box in which Serge keeps his treasures. Click on the box, and your computer screen will fill with items such as swizzle sticks, buttons, matchbooks and postcards from across the state.

"Serge is, well - he loves to collect mementos of his favorite Florida places, and when he's in a motel room he'll get out his box and spread the stuff out on the mattress," Dorsey said. "It's just to show how insane he is. He's obsessive-compulsive about his passion for Florida."

It's a passion this pseudo-native shares. Dorsey recalls childhood days spent running around Riviera Beach barefoot with a fishing pole, and cracking open coconuts for the milk.

"I remember all that vividly - the palm trees, taking coconuts and thinking I could run away and live off the land," he said.

"It might be that I was imprinted at a young age, but usually you see people either return to or stay in the place they came from. For me, growing up, it was paradise. It was my Huck Finn's Mississippi."

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Inspiration and the Universe Conspire (to help me create a new story)

We were out of town this weekend, spending as much time as possible with my wife's sister, who is undergoing a bone marrow transplant and more chemo in Birmingham. She slept quite a lot, off and on, and I caught up on some Kindle reading, as well as browsing more than I usually do. I started reading a steampunk novel sample (not too good, so I'm not naming it), and decided to check out a sample of a writing guide for people interested in steampunk (also not so good, but whatever, by this time, my brain was engaged).

On the drive home today, we passed a sign pointing to the exit for two nearby towns, Jemison and Thorsby, and I said, "That's a great character name. Jemison Thorsby, a reporter for the Confederate Statesmen paper out of Atlanta in 1870, two years after the Civil War ended in an uneasy truce."

Soon, we passed a sign for two more towns. "Clanton Montgomery," I said. "Former colonel in the Alabama militia. Hero of the Battle of Birmingham. Now a soldier of fortune operating out of the Republic of Texas."

We passed a sign for two more towns. "Coosada Wetumpka," I thought (as by this time my wife was trying to nap). "A Creek Indian. Father was a Red Stick warrior. He works for Montgomery, and is on the train from the free port of New Orleans to Port Arthur when he meets Thorsby."

I began to think about Thorsby more. He's a reporter, dispatched to get the story on Montgomery, who has been making expeditions into the Plains Nations, where the tribes are armed with electrostatic weapons, dirigibles, and steam-powered cannon-carriages to keep the interlopers off their lands. They have a mysterious benefactor that is designing these breakthroughs, and the U.S. government is secretly bankrolling Montgomery's excursions.

On the train, Thorsby sees a beautiful black woman in the company of two white men. She is clearly rich, clearly a free woman, but one of the men is threatening her. The woman glances at Thorsby on several occasions. Later, in the dining car, Thorsby sees the man slap the woman, and he goes to their table to warn the man not to strike a lady. She speaks to him in a lyrical French accent, "I do not require your assistance, little man." I could hear her voice in my imagination.

Only then does he recognize her. But what is her name?

A moment later, I passed a sign for a place called Legrande. That's certainly French-ish. So her name is LeGrande, but that's only a stage name. What's her first name? What's her real name? I pass a sign for a place called Cleo. Her stage name is Cleopatra LeGrande, she's a famous chanteuse, the toast of Paris, but he knew her when they were children. She was a house servant at the same estate where his father was a stable hand. Her name was...

I passed a sign for a place called Ada. He knew her by that name in their childhood, and he would often offer to help Ada with her chores, but she would always say, "I don't need your help, Little Man."

So what happens when they reach Port Arthur? And then onward to Beaumont, and all across to Amarillo? What happens when they cross the border into "Injun Country," as Wetumpka sneeringly calls it, and they face the dirigible fleet of the United Tribes under the command of Touch the Clouds (a character who I had in mind, but not by name until I happened to do a search for "native American leaders" and found this list)?

What otherworldly monstrosity waits in Roswell? What is "the Breach" and why must it be "Repaired"?

(I wondered that when I passed a sign on a country church that declared they were "Repairers of the Breach." (Don't look that up, because it will depress you.))

The sunset was fiery red as we passed through a string of small Alabama towns. Signs and portents in the sky. The iPod began playing a song about a woman traveling back in time, and I knew I had my answers...

...And that is how a story begins to take shape in my head.


Friday, January 24, 2014

BooksAlive fuels friendships

Terra Elan McVoy signs for a fan at the 2013 Books Alive.
PANAMA CITY — If not for BooksAlive, I would have fewer friends.

There, I said it. And it’s true.

I’m not sure how the equation balances — whether I gained the friends because they saw me at the event and jumped to the (however erroneous) conclusion that I must be as clever and interesting as they are since I was there, or what.

I do know that many people who were acquaintances in the area became warm friends after we crossed paths there, and others who were complete strangers before the event I can now count as cherished friends.

That’s kind of cool, considering how solitary and personal an endeavor reading or writing is.

BooksAlive 2014, an event organized by the Bay County Public Library, will be at the FSU-Panama City campus next weekend, with free workshops and sessions led by featured authors throughout the day Feb. 1. Pat Conroy, author of the new book, “The Death of Santini,” is the keynote speaker at the (sold-out) luncheon.

But that one day of workshops and sessions isn’t all the visiting authors will be doing. Several will go into local schools the day prior to speak with students, encourage their reading and reveal a wider world. Bill Roorbach, for instance, will visit my Education Encore class and Arnold High School, speaking with seniors of one stripe in the morning and another in the afternoon.

Authors Cynthia Graubart, Patti Callahan Henry and Cassandra King will be the guests at a luncheon Jan. 31 at Triple J Steakhouse in Panama City Beach. Designed as a fun, informal gathering, seating is limited to 40 (reservations are required); tickets are $15; email  for a reservation. The authors will talk about their books and lives, answer questions from the audience, and will sign copies of their work, which will be available for sale.

“It’s a reader’s best opportunity to make friends on the literary landscape,” Kathie Bennett said to me in a phone call this week. She’s a literary publicist representing many of the authors coming to the event, as well as the daughter of Gerry and Barbara Clemons of Panama City — and I count her as a friend, too.

Barbara Clemons was a great supporter of BooksAlive. One year at a pre-event gathering for volunteers and authors to get acquainted, she called me over to introduce me to Michael Morris, the Birmingham-based author originally from Perry. I’ve been reading his work ever since.

A few years later, not knowing we knew each other, Kathie tried to introduce us and he told her we were cousins. It wasn’t true, but it was worth it for the look she gave us.

“I’ve seen many relationships born at Books Alive,” Kathie said. “It’s not just a book festival — and I attend many book festivals. It’s a time when these writers really connect with readers on a much more personal way, becoming an instant community of writers and readers.”


(This was my Undercurrents column for and The News Herald for Jan. 24.)

Friday, January 17, 2014

Youthful energy drives the universe

Coraline, Lucy and Gillian work on watercolor projects at Floriopolis.
PANAMA CITY — On three separate occasions in a week’s time, I was reminded how the universe demands a constant influx of energy to keep entropy at bay.

That is, this old man got to see youthful enthusiasm and creativity in action, and basked in the promise of a bright future they represent.

One afternoon, I sat for an interview by three Rutherford High School students, Sarah Khan, Sarah Huerta and Aria Delmar, all 14. They were working on a class project dealing, in part, with a court case in which high school students had purchased an ad in their school paper, but it was rejected for publication because it was against the school’s pro-abstinence stance.

They wanted to ask me about similar cases I had covered for The News Herald during my time as the paper’s education reporter. They asked good questions, including raising references to pledges of journalism ethics. And they forced me to dust off some faded brain cells.

They also joked that part of their presentation would involve a student complaining about how difficult it is to work with the equipment in the classroom — only to “travel back in time” to see how it was done in the days of paste-up page design.

I could almost smell the aroma of hot wax, evoking memories of journalism school and my first newspaper job.

Another day, I visited Floriopolis, the new arts center in St. Andrews, during an after school class for elementary school-age children.

The trio of Coraline, Lucy and Gillian drew clouds and painted watercolor skies. They sprinkled salt on one of the projects. Gillian quite excitedly showed her father her work when he came to pick her up.

I pictured masterpieces hung on a refrigerator door with Panama City Beach magnets, and times past when plastic totes filled with similar art with my children’s names on them.

It was pouring rain the night I visited Aerial Dance Panama City (see next Friday’s edition for the full story), where Melissa St. Clair and her daughter, Gabrielle, were taking a class — learning to climb silk strands and loop them over their limbs to hang suspended in the air.

“You feel it later,” Melissa said as she watched Gabrielle flip and stretch. “I’m envious of her. It’s much easier for her.”

For a second, I connected her statement to what the Rutherford students had said to me about the “time travel” portion of their presentation. It wasn’t the same thing, of course: Melissa was talking about how her daughter’s youth, energy and flexibility made this particular activity easier for her, while the high school students were referencing how the switch from manual labor to digital labor makes activities seem easier today (though we’re expected to accomplish so much more as a result).

Leaving the studio, I heard thunder rumble in the night, the residue of wild energy released in the chaos of the storm. And I thought how, when we were young, we thought we had it tough — but it doesn’t get easier. Not really. You will always need to pour your energy into molding your future. You might think it’s tough now, but you’ll really feel it later.


(This was my Undercurrents column for and The News Herald for Jan. 17.)

Thursday, January 09, 2014

This arrived in the mail yesterday

Which means it is now a thing in the real world.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Education Encore session approaches

My students in a 2011 class.
PANAMA CITY — I have had the pleasure — and the challenge — of teaching a writing course for the Education Encore program at Gulf Coast State College for the past few years, helping students ranging in age from 30 to 80 and in writing experience from beginner to retired journalist explore their way with words.

The new session begins Jan. 24, and continues for six consecutive Fridays. Registration is Jan. 17, starting at 8 a.m. in the Student Union East Conference Center on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors will open at 7 a.m. The fee for Panama City participants is $88, which includes four classes on each of the six Fridays.

(Classes are also offered at the GCSC Port St. Joe campus, at a fee of $66, which includes three classes each Wednesday for six weeks.)

“The goal of Education Encore is to provide a learning environment that is fun, lively and offers diversity, insight and wisdom — in which adults explore new ideas,” said Jim Barr, coordinator of Education Partnerships. “If you have been to college, this is an opportunity to re-live the college experience. If you have not attended college, this is an opportunity to live the college experience. Just as exercising the body keeps one physically fit, exercising the mind keeps one mentally fit.”

The program’s enrollment spiked in the spring session of 2013 with a record 525 enrollees, Barr said.

Many of the courses evolved from suggestions by students; each semester, GCSC surveys participants to learn what worked and what should be added or changed next time. As a result, courses are diverse, including bridge, digital image editing, drawing, farming, watercolor painting, digital photography, jewelry, learning to use new tablet and laptop technology, car maintenance, zumba, politics, religions, the Bill of Rights, ancient histories, linguistics, financial planning, local marine biology, acrylics, yoga, line dance, film discussion, conflict resolution, a capella harmony, tai chi, storytelling, local history and many more.

Students can choose among 10 or more classes in each of four 75-minute instructional periods. The schedule includes an hour-long lunch break, but even that can be educational.

“While eating lunch, (the students) have the opportunity to participate in what we call ‘lunch-and-learn’ sessions,” Barr told The News Herald. “They’re special programs for students during that hour with speakers on specialized topics of interest to this age group.”

To browse the selection of classes offered, visit; for more information call   the Corporate College registration desk at 872-3823 or e-mail Jim Barr at

Since 1991, Education Encore has offered non-credit enrichment classes for adults under the motto, “No Stress! No Tests! No Grades! Just Fun!” — although I have been known to send students home with homework.


I will be teaching a class called "Writing/Life," which I'm really looking forward to. I generally teach a creative writing/short fiction course, but this time I'm making it personal. We'll still be crafting short stories, but we'll be talking about the bigger picture. Why we write. What it means in our lives.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Where I Am Online and Why

My website got a makeover this year. It is here<< and it has lots of great info about all of my books, book trailers and more.

This << is my author profile page at Amazon, which lists all my books you can get through that source. I'm pretty happy to be there, and will be releasing more new books and products through this venue in the near future.

I tweet about anything I see that interests me here: I also have a twitter account for "official" use on News Herald websites, but I seldom use it. (I also have a third twitter account that seemed funny at the time, but I never go there any more. Don't go there.)

This where I lurk on Tumblr, reposting things that are cool, make me grin, or relate to my writing. Also lots of Doctor Who, Doctor Strange, Wonder Woman and Star Trek, which is what the Internet was invented for.

Facebook continues to be an obsession. I have this page for my fans, this page for my new book (Dragon Rising) and its subsequent series, this page for my recent zombie short story collection (Tales of the Awakening Dead) and its subsequent series, this page I participate on for the sake of Graphic Knowledge.

Speaking of Graphic Knowledge, you can download the app (and a free trial issue) here<< and you can check out our website and blog here<< where we talk about comics and geek culture.

My weekly columns for and The News Herald can be found by looking for any Undercurrents titles here<< (Some of these are rewritten/repurposed items from this blog, or vice versa.)

Here's my FourSquare page.

My Instagram.

My Linked-In. (Whatever that is.)

I'm on GoodReads, though God knows what good it is.

I still have a MySpace, though I seldom even visit there.

You can check out some of my self-published stuff in my "author spotlight" page at Lulu. (While you're there, click some review buttons. I'd appreciate it.)

I have a YouTube account as well. There's no telling what you'll find there, as it has been used for book trailers, News Herald work, home videos, short films and so forth.

I'm probably other places online also, but just can't recall it right now. If I've forgotten something, feel free to point out my pathetic memory in the comments.


Thursday, January 02, 2014

The Story behind 'Dragon Rising'

Cover by Jayson Kretzer
I have a new book available through Kindle and soon in print via Amazon's CreateSpace. "Dragon Rising" is the first of a projected series about The Shadow War, and like many of my recent works, it has been incubating for decades. I wrote the initial outline for the story in the early 1990s, when it seemed like there would never be new additions to the Star Wars trilogy, and I wanted a space opera-type story.

The first real work on it came in the latter 1990s, as Phantom Menace hyperbole began to take over the geek world in anticipation of the first prequel to Star Wars. I wrote it with my children in mind, who were at the time not yet in their teens; I made the protagonist, Kit Tanner, a 15-year-old from a backwater world and set him in dangerous situations that he had to think his way out of, and be brave, and be true.

A few years ago, I set about updating the novella I wrote for them and tried submitting it to various publishers. I even rewrote it to appeal to the Christian market at one point, pumping up the philosophical aspects and religious questions, as well as Kit's faith. Still no nibbles. In this most recent rewrite, I believe I kept the best of both versions. You be the judge (please, I'd love to read your reviews at!).

A funny thing happened on the way to publication, however. I asked my friend, Jayson Kretzer (creator of the Wannabe Heroes comic) to do a cover for the book. When he sent me the early version, uncolored, I had to ask him who one of the characters was. He identified the female as "Oracle," a robot or "mech" in the story. I replied that Oracle was never described as female, and in fact was referred to as "it" throughout the narrative; he said when he read the character's dialogue he "heard" a woman's voice. He offered to change the art, but his response made me rethink some of the passages in the story. It became clear to me that Oracle was in many ways a maternal care-giving and peacemaking figure that was missing from the story at that point, and I wondered how Kit was react to Oracle differently if "it" had the outer aspect and voice of a "she." So, another rewrite took place, one that is still having ripple effects on the subsequent storyline. We retained his interpretation, which informed (and in ways, transformed) the story.

That's what happens when you collaborate.

Dragon Rising will be followed later this year by Dragon Rampant, as the Shadow War breaks out in earnest. I also have in mind to do a sort of Federal Encyclopedia, with technical and historical info about the universe in which Kit Tanner lives. After Dragon Rampant, if there's clamor for further adventures, I anticipate a third tale, and more to follow.

I hope you'll read Dragon Rising, or read it to your kids, or buy it for some youngster you know. Let me know what worked for you, what you want more of, or less of. I'm working on the first sequel now, and your feedback would be invaluable. Collaborate in the Shadow War, if you dare to challenge the Dragon.


Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Having a ball at New Year’s time

PANAMA CITY BEACH — There was a span of time during which we ushered in each new year with fireworks and a house full of kids. The open house reverberated inside and out, a statement to the energy and optimism of youth — as well as the influence of junk food, parlor games and comedy films.

New Year’s Eve has been quieter in recent years, a statement to the truism of the empty nest (though ours is not quite empty yet). Life goes on, kids grow up, and friends move in different directions — sometimes to far-flung cities, where they create their own annual traditions.

In anticipation of another quiet New Year’s Eve, and recognizing our lack of available fireworks, we have talked about going out to the Pier Park celebration this year, which would be our first visit to that particular madding crowd.

(Note that this was written a couple of days before the event, though it publishes a couple of days after it. Maybe you saw us there. Maybe we didn’t make it. If we did, I’ll let you know about it next week.)

It’s the sixth time Pier Park has held a New Year’s Eve event, and this year the fireworks will illuminate a second phase of the mall’s development, rising in a skeleton of steel on the north shoulder of U.S. 98. By this time next year, that part of Panama City Beach will be twice as bustling as it is today.

Little wonder that it looks like the city’s growing up, too, according to a friend who grew up here but recently moved to the Northwest. The old “tourist traps” have been replaced by an upside-down amusement center and a “beached” ocean liner, and the strip plazas by an open-air mall that is expanding even as we speak.

At least the beach is still accessible — and with the sunny weather we’ve had recently, it has been welcoming. I’ve seen people walking the shore, para-surfing and more.

Sunday, I was setting up a smoker grill in my front yard as out-of-state neighbors visiting for the holiday walked their pooch. I asked how their Christmas was, and they threw their hands in the air to indicate the blue sky and warm sunshine.

“It’s 20 degrees back home,” one of them said, and that was answer enough.

I suggested that, if they really wanted to make the folks back home jealous, they could always go to the beach and make sand angels — that’s what my daughter wanted to do on Christmas day.

I reflected then that we are ending 2013 with more sunny days than rainy ones, more grins than tears. We have made new friends, begun new traditions (and carried on a few of the old ones). I hope that, for each of us, the new year brings more of the same, as well as plenty of pleasant surprises.

Happy New Year!

Share Your Thoughts:

What are your hopes and aspirations for 2014? What memories of 2013 will you carry like treasures into the new year and beyond?