Friday, May 22, 2015

Second chances: Sheena and Tasha find each other

Tasha holds Sheena at Paws & Claws Adoption Center.
PANAMA CITY BEACH — You may have read “Kitten Kaboodle,” an article I wrote for the Paws & Claws page in the May 10 edition of the News Herald. It focused on caring for and adopting kittens, especially the work of the Panama City Beach Paws & Claws volunteers.

In that article, I related the sad tale of “Sheena,” an 18-month-old mama cat who barely survived the motor vehicle that killed her kittens. The Siamese and her litter had been living behind a beach restaurant; all of the kittens were run over and she was dragged by the vehicle. Her back right hip and leg were broken, and she lost all of the hair on that side of her body. The leg needed to be amputated.

Even though the group didn’t have the budget for the surgery, PCB Paws & Claws decided to go forward and established a crowd-funding effort (which you can link to at the group’s Facebook page) to help defray the costs. On a referral from Parkway Animal Hospital in Parker, the surgery was completed by Dr. Mandy Webb at Breeze Animal Hospital, 9222 Panama City Beach Parkway.

At the time of the article’s publication, Sheena was recovering in a foster home. As a mature cat with special needs, it looked doubtful that she would be adopted.

That’s where Tasha Shelley came in.

“She saw Sheena and heard the story of how she lost her leg, and decided to adopt her, as she knew Sheena would be perfect for her,” said Julie King, one of the Paws & Claws volunteers.

You may also remember Tasha, who was a victim of a tragic car accident in October 2013. Newly wed to Sylvester Storey, they were returning from their honeymoon in Gatlinburg, Tenn., when their SUV rolled over along Interstate 85. Storey died at the scene, and Tasha was airlifted to a hospital, where surgeons fought to save her life. She lost a section of her colon — and her right leg.

Tasha Shelley
Recovery has been a long, difficult road — but Tasha, a devoted Christian, has found blessings as well. She recently married Andrew Shelley, which necessitated changing the name of her business to Shelley Photography, based in Panama City Beach. She had been in business since 2006 under her maiden name, Bradford.

“God gave me the talent, my parents gave me the camera, and I just carry it,” she told me Wednesday.

Tasha and Andrew were closing on their first home together when a realtor who volunteers with Paws & Claws suggested they think about adopting a cat. They were more interested in having a dog, but then they heard Sheena’s story.

Tasha and Andrew moved into their new home Saturday, and Sheena went home with them.

“I took one look at her picture and started crying,” Tasha said. “I’ve been through hell, but God gave me a second chance. I’m going to give her a second chance, too.”


Friday, May 15, 2015

Quick updates

Here is my column this week, which looks at the Sketch Crawl in Panama City and some of the words being sold at Floriopolis as part of the Space Between Words exhibit.

And here's my column from last week, which basically looked at the upcoming Summer Theatre Program at Gulf Coast State College.

Watched the first two episodes of a new sci-fi/space bounty hunters TV series, KillJoys, which has a sort of Firefly element. Extremely low budget, but interesting. I'll watch more of it when it hits TV this summer on Syfy.

I'm still doing the Fiction Fest at Friday Fest on June 5. We're adding new authors, and getting background on them in updates to the event page; check it out.

Received a rejection note this week (from a horror publisher I submitted my initial CALIBAN novel to) that managed to make me feel good about the work despite the "no." The note included the chain of comments from each of the publisher's reader/editors. Such as:
...First several pages well written, story seems cool if he can pull it off...
...Pass but ask if he has anything else. I'm just not that into Cthulhu and Lovecraftian stuff. ...
... we appreciated your style and strong writing skills, and invite you to submit other works if you have them.

As I said on Facebook, it's a weird feeling, knowing they liked the story (and my telling of it) but decided to wait for something else. I'll take this one as a win, despite the obvious. Thanks for the consideration, and just you wait until you see what else I have in store...


Friday, May 08, 2015

Fiction Fest at Friday Fest!

I have set up a "mini" book festival in conjunction with downtown Panama City's monthly first-Friday event, Friday Fest for the evening of June 5. I used quotes around the word above, because the event keeps growing. I started with a total of five authors, one dropped out, two more have dropped in, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see others joining.

In addition, the director of Friday Fest, Valerie Woods, has asked me to help her organize an even larger event for the August 7 Friday Fest (more on this later).

Fiction Fest is:

Each of us works in a different genre, so we will be bringing different friends, family and followers to the festival, exposing them to each other's work and (hopefully) causing a massive blockage at the checkout counter.

The event is 6-8 p.m. Friday, June 5, at Books By The Sea, 558 Harrison Ave., downtown Panama City. Hope to see you there!