Julie Alexander and the author team
up at a recent fair in Jonathan Dickinson State Park.

A Treasure Trove for Florida History Buffs

We’re pleased to announce that the author’s books will be distributed throughout Florida by Florida Classics Library, the most extensive resource for books, maps and art about the Sunshine State.
The company began in 1959 when the late Val Martin established a bookstore in Stuart, FL. In 1972 he decided to carve out a niche in the book world by specializing in titles about Florida.


Today it’s been expanded under the ownership of his niece, Julie Alexander.
Besides its statewide book distribution services, Florida Classics Library operates a retail store at its headquarters at 11300 S.E. Dixie Highway, Hobe Sound, FL. It features over 1,000 titles about Florida’s history and ecology. It also offers an extensive collection of historic Florida Maps and is the home gallery of renowned Florida landscape painter Dan Macklin.


Julie Alexander can be reached at Phone:

Become a Book Critic. Get Free Books

Here’s what we mean., an Amazon subsidiary, is a “book club”, except that it’s on a global scale with millions of online members. You simply sign in for free and order from a selection of a zillion books in the Amazon system (not free), then post reviews and questions for authors.

Now for the FREE BOOKS part. Authors need reviews of new books on Goodreads in hopes they’ll start members buzzing and stimulate paid sales. That’s why we’re offering free DIGITAL copies of two newly revised, re-released titles. One is A Light in the Wilderness, and the other is La Florida – both issued in 2022 and described under BOOKS in this website. Just email us at and you’ll receive a FEEE DIGITAL copy that can be read on Kindle, iBooks, your computer or smart phone.

When you’re done reading, go to Enter the book title or author name and follow the easy steps for posting a succinct review (usually a couple of paragraphs). You can also create a free profile page that tracks books you’ve read and lets you carry on a dialogue with authors and other readers.

Another Snapshot of Jupiter History

Here’s an old photo of what locals in Jupiter-Tequesta called “Cato’s Bridge” across the Intracoastal Waterway. Today you swing east off U.S. 1, go past the lighthouse grounds and over the four-lane bridge and you’re soon passing a wall of Jupiter Island condos as you head north on A1A. 

Fifty or so years before that, the Cato family operated a swing bridge between uninhabited Tequesta and the equally uninhabited, unpaved south end of Jupiter Island. Kids would fish from the bridge and stop to help Mr. Cato crank the swing bridge into position when an occasional boat passed on the Intracoastal. 


To augment their spare income, the Catos sold mullets for bait (5-cents each) and rented rowboats for $1 a day. Daughter Shirley, who now lives in North Carolina, remembers catching shrimp to add variety to their usual fare of fish and beans. 

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The long-gone "Cato Bridge" in old Jupiter

No prize, but kind words for Amelia's Gold

Yes, judge, there is a Yaupon Tree. Its holly berries provided tea for Amelia and friends.

One of the book world’s most prestigious prizes is the annual Benjamin Franklin Awards, with over a thousand entries from around the world. 

I’ve had two such awards previously and was hoping that Amelia’s Gold might fetch a third in the 2020 contest. Nope. But I was stunned and surprised when one of the judges took time to send the following email: 

   “James D. Snyder, I salute you! This book is as rich and delicious as Swiss or Belgian chocolate - the kind of chocolate that one must savor and not gulp down. I really wanted to have this book grab me by the eyeballs and suck me into its pages to the point where I had no choice but to suspend my belief systems and submerse myself totally. Instead, what I found was a gentle, engrossing character study full of intrigue, peril that resulted in the personal growth of many of the story's cast of characters. 

   “This is not a book to read hungrily and greedily. It is a book to make the reader fall in love with the characters who were in the midst of a civil war in an infant nation. It is a book to sit with in a comfortable chair and see the history of the time when brother fought brother from a different viewpoint. It is to be read with a fine cup of tea, glass of whisky, wine or hot cocoa. This well written, well researched book was a pleasure to read. I learned more than a few little things from reading this book, such as what a Yaupon is. Thank you, Mr. Snyder for a good read.”

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How’d you like to be minding your own business one day when one of America’s finest artists calls to say he’s done your portrait?

That was the case recently when Ron Parvu, who’s stunning watercolors sell worldwide ( phoned to say he’d been “working in graphite because it allows me to go into greater detail.” He’d found a photo of me online and copied it in graphite.  Would I like a copy? 

How touching! And I didn’t even have to sit on a stool posing. 

If you’d like to see examples of Ron’s watercolor work, see the covers of Life and Death on the Loxahatchee and A Light in the Wilderness.  

Literary Titan, a leading book reviewer, has some pleasing comments about Amelia’s Gold. Here are two paragraphs: 

“Over the course of the book, Amelia deals time and time again with the theme of personal growth, both as an idea and an experience. The events play out over the course of only one year, and yet she faces an incredible amount of hardships, each one providing an opportunity to become a better and stronger person. She also achieves the balance of treating others with empathy and kindness without being played for a fool. Overall, Amelia is written as smart, capable, and still distinctly human. She almost serves as an anomaly of how women are typically considered during that time period, instead representing how many of them likely were.  

Amelia’s Gold kept me invested, always curious about what would come next. The character of Felix was especially interesting to me and I wish there were more of him. Snyder carved a path for Amelia that proved to be unpredictable all the way to the very end, and left enough mystery for a reader to ultimately create their own ideas about the rest of her life.” 

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An Award for Amelia

The New York City Big Book Awards organization proclaims that after reviewing books from “100 cities on six continents” it has picked  Amelia’s Gold as a “Distinguished Favorite” in the historical fiction category for 2020. 

“Distinguished Favorite” means runner-up and no garland of roses. But thanks for the bouquet.   

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My humble rendition of nineteenth century paddle wheel steamer captain Steve Bravo, reprised at the historic Apollo School in Hobe Sound, FL. Second, the real me signing books afterward. 

Did you know I’ve become a steamboat captain?


Indeed. I’ve found that much more interesting than a plain scribbler is the reincarnation of Steve Bravo, who skippered the stylish paddle wheeler St. Lucie from Titusville to Jupiter in the 1890s. Steve had 20 or so other steamers to compete with, so he would hawk tickets like P.T. Barnum, then narrate landmarks along the journey - even playing the guitar and leading the after-dinner imbibers in a songfest. 

No, I don’t play the guitar, but I do try to woo my prospective passengers (which could be your group) by pointing out the delights awaiting them on an overnight trip down the Indian River. That’s Bravo on the left doing his sales schtick and the quick-change author afterwards signing books last year at the historic Apollo School in Hobe Sound, FL.