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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.   

Last month marked my 200th book presentation to a live audience (assuming they were still breathing afterwards).


Although the Covid Era has chased away most such events, it’s noteworthy that the Milestone CC was a Zoom talk to a Jupiter FL book club of ten very smart, inquisitive ladies.  

My take on the Zoom-type venue: it’s got as many pluses as minuses. A Zoom window gets an attendee closer to the speaker than a seat in the tenth row. And from the author’s perspective, people tend to buy your book in advance, meaning that questions and discussion are on a “higher plane” than when you have to spend speaker time explaining the plot and hoping  people are patient enough to stand in line afterward to buy one.  

If you’d like to try a virtual session with your organization, don’t hesitate to email me in the Contact section. Word of caution: I’d suggest no more than 20 participants.  

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Not all book talks have to be "virtual". This resourceful book club in Jupiter, FL combined a presentation with a picnic in Jonathan Dickinson State Park.

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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. 

Speaking of book talks, 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.  

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