Category Archives: Fascinating Florida

A Naked Alliances Christmas

We’re getting close to Christmas and I thought I would swing by and check on my two leading characters from Naked Alliances, Richard Noggin, P.I. and Brandi, an exotic dancer. When I left them around the end of October, they were dining at Harbor Lights restaurant admiring the yachts moored on Tampa Bay.

Richard’s gay neighbors, Dave and Steve, decorated the palm tree in their front yard. I’d like to point out why palm trees don’t make good Christmas trees down here in Florida.

palm tree-christmas
Are words needed?


Brandi knocked at the door of the coral pink cottage in Thornton Park, her military-green canvas messenger bag slung over her shoulder. She rested the fir tree against a post. Richard opened the door in his boxers with a beer in his hand. “Oh, it’s you.”

“Who were you expecting? The date who likely stormed out when you undressed?”

“What’s the tree for? I don’t do Christmas.”

“This year you are.” She hugged the tree, pushing her way through the door. “I could use some help with this thing.”

“I’m allergic,” he said.

“And I’m not backing down. You’ve spent a week, since our four week vacation at the Lagoon, shut up in this house feeling sorry for yourself and we’re going to have Christmas.” Propping the tree against the living room window, she pulled back the blinds, went out onto the porch, lifted a cardboard box, and returned to the living room. “This is Christmas stuff I borrowed from the Parliament House.”

“Oh great, bobbles made from boa feathers and glittered, butterfly eyelashes.”

“They’re shiny and sparkly.”

“So are Harley parts.”

“Don’t be such a spoil sport and grab yourself a few.” Standing the tree upright, she forced it into the stand she had brought with her.

Richard slugged back his last swallow of Miller Lite, set his can on the coffee table and reached into the box, pulling out a wrapped gift with his name on it. “Awww, you shouldn’t have done this.”

“You can open it now or put it under the tree.”

“I haven’t gotten a Christmas present in years.”

“It’s nothing, really, just a little something to lighten your mood.”

Richard tore into the paper, opened the box and grinned ear to ear. Snapping open the case, tears welled in his eyes. Trying not to blink, he reached into the case. “A golden Desert Eagle, 50 caliber, hand cannon, and she’s a pretty girl. This is too much.”

“I thought you might need a replacement for Desiree, since you had to feed her to the alligators. Do you really think that was necessary?”

“More than necessary.” Grabbing her around the neck, he pulled her close and kissed her cheek. “I did a bit of Christmas shopping for you, too.” He opened the coat closet door and pulled out a monstrous-sized bag from the Millennial Mall. “Haven’t had time to wrap it though.”

“You didn’t!”

“I did. I have to confess I didn’t know my way around the store, but I asked for the best.”

Brandi snatched the bag, looked inside and screamed. “It’s a leather, large-frame Prada tote. I’ve never owned a real purse before. It’s beautiful. For a guy who doesn’t do Christmas, you did it quite well.” She slung the bag onto her shoulder, pulled the purse close and sniffed it.

“It was the biggest they had and the lady tells me they’re quite fashionable. I know how you like to have all your necessaries with you, and they do come in handy.”

Brandi grabbed him around the neck and squeezed. He winced, but hugged her back as best he could.

“You’re the best boss ever!”

“Partner, the best partner.”

Boat Scam Resolution

Since I ranted on here about our boat dilemma, it’s only fair I come on here and update you on our progress. I wrote about that here:

The rocket scientist checks with the bank every day to see if the lien has been paid. Well, today, the lien has been paid.

Don’t know if the guy is totally honest, or whether he was concerned about the threat of legal action. At any rate, he came through.

He’s deprived us of our property and failed to pay since December  7th.

The detective in Lee County assured us we would not be held liable if he wrecked the boat, smuggled drugs, or some other atrocious act, since we reported it to authorities. Thank goodness none of that came to pass, but better safe than sorry.

He still owes us a couple hundred, but we’re not holding our breath. Better to let it go and get the boat out of our name so he can do whatever and we’ll be completely out of the picture.

Now, we can enjoy our new boat without this hanging over us. We tried to have faith, but couldn’t help but feel scammed.

The RS and I feel so much relief! R.E.S.O.L.U.T.I.O.N.

This was the day we bought the boat! Good riddance. We’ll never own a boat this big again, unless we have millions and a house on deep water.

Bye-bye boat!!! The nightmare is over.

Have you ever been scammed?

Where We Are Today

This morning's beach shot by Scott Spradley.
This morning’s beach shot by Scott Spradley.

Scott, over on Flagler Beach, gets up every morning to catch the sunrise. He posts pics almost every day. What a nice way to start the day. If you’d like to follow him on Facebook, he’s here:

I’ve been a real slacker this year, both in writing and blogging. I didn’t have any resolutions, so I didn’t set myself up for failure, but I have not been terrifically productive either. I have done no guest posts, no interviews, only a couple of promotions for others, and a couple of book reviews.

I have been busy though. I have two outlines for Naked Eye series books. I received my final edits back for Naked Alliances and have been very busy polishing that manuscript. Right now I’m on chapter twenty-five with five more to go. This last chapter has been the most challenging to get through. There was a scene that I personally felt wasn’t working as it was written, so I cut quite a lot out of it and did some rewriting. The rewriting was easier than deciding what to cut.

Knocked out for a couple of days with a broken tooth. It’s not fixed yet, but it’s not hurting either. I have an appointment scheduled to have a root canal with posts and a crown to be put on February 10th. I missed an author symposium and book signing. I also have jury duty February 5th. I try to do my Civic duty, but honestly, I’d like to get out of this one.

We’re also dealing with the stolen boat situation as best we can. It’s a tough call. The place where the man said they bought the money orders that he claims they cancelled (the ones that never made it to our bank) says it can be sixty-five days to get a refund, which is what he says he is waiting for. That would give him until March 13th to pay up. If we file a stolen vessel report and they find him, he could be arrested and not be in a position to pay (IF he intends to pay).

The attorney has basically said he is in the business to sue people and wants a $200.00 retainer and $2000.00 settlement if the man pays (That’s nearly a quarter what we are owed.). The thief has not responded to his request to provide proof of the money orders, return the boat, or pay the balance. The Lee County authorities don’t have it high up on their priority list and haven’t permitted us to file a stolen vessel report yet. They seem to want to see more of an effort to collect first, and had us send notification of intent to pursue legally (which, again, the man did not respond to).

The RS is thinking we should give him until March 23rd, and then file the stolen vessel report if he doesn’t pay at that time.  Major frustration! Meanwhile, we’re making payments with interest on a boat he’s living aboard for free.

Scariest thing is that it is a documented vessel with Homeland Security in our name. If he smuggles drugs, runs it aground, wrecks into another boat, or crashes into a dock, we’re liable.

On a positive note: We’ve been babysitting the grandkids from time to time and the grandson is not screaming for hours when he’s with us anymore. Thank God for sisters.

abbysitting 006

How Florida Boat Scammers Work

10542970_746554345403436_5224504145367532819_oI kept telling myself it would not be right to posts about this, but I can’t help myself. We’ve been scammed.

The RS posted our 1984 36 ft. cabin cruiser Sea Ray for sale on Craig’s list. We had several inquiries and a few who wanted to pay cash. The RS took the first cash offer. The original price was $11,500.

After some haggling, he came down to $9500. The buyer insisted on a marine survey, which is customary. The surveyor told the buyer that we had a lien on the boat. The RS planned to pay off the lien with the proceeds, which is customary. The RS also dropped the price on the boat by another $300. for things the surveyor found that needed fixing.

The buyer, Steve Shelton, gave the RS $1086.86 down payment to hold the boat. He wanted a notary present when the paperwork was signed. The boat was located nearly four hours from our home in Orlando, south in Lee County in Ft. Myers at the RS’s friend’s house, Jeff. Jeff’s wife wanted the boat gone ASAP. The RS drove back down there, where the buyer and the notary and the RS signed a bill of sale.

The RS had told the man he needed a money order made out to the bank or a cashier’s check, but there was a lot of commotion and gyrations. The man had his wife, daughter, son-in-law and a kid with him. They were all complaining and accusing my husband of being dishonest for not telling them about the lien. That’s why my husband agreed to take the personal check.

The buyer wanted to pay the RS the balance with a personal check, which he gave the RS. That was on a Saturday and the guy wanted to take the boat Sunday morning.

When he got home, I turned him around and told him, no…he needed a money order or a cashier’s check or they would have to wait until they got one to take the boat. The daughter had wanted to take the boat Saturday night and wire the money on Monday morning to our bank.

The RS drove back down there in the middle of the night, four more hours, in order to be there when they got there Sunday morning.

Upon arriving, he saw the batteries were dead, drained by a malfunctioning bilge pump. The boat would not be safe to operate without one, so Jeff and the RS set about correcting the problems: recharging the batteries and replacing the bilge pump. The RS was working on forty-eight hours with no sleep and 1600 miles under his belt.

When the man arrived with his son-in-law, wife, daughter and now two kids, the daughter was screaming that the RS had been dishonest again, and not told them about the problem with the boat. The RS explained that he was there to fix the problems and that he needed a money order or cashier’s check before they took the boat. On the Bill of Sale, the RS stipulated that a balance was owed of $8113.18 to be made payable to our bank and our account.

The daughter was upset because her father and his wife had been living with her and she was supposed to get two more foster children the next day and her father needed to be out of her house and onto the boat which he planned to live aboard. She and the man’s wife went to purchase money orders which they said they bought a Walmart and mailed to our bank. They showed the RS the receipt stubs but did not give him copies.

By five o’clock, the boat was repaired and the two men rode away from the dock with the boat toward Sarasota. The two women and two children left in a car.

Three weeks later, our bank still hasn’t received the money/money orders.

The RS sent him an email requesting copies of the money orders that were supposedly purchased at Walmart and mailed to our bank because the man won’t answer his phone. He claims he can’t hear it. They want full control of the money and refuse to share the MO numbers or copies with us. Here is a copy of the text the man sent back:

“I called the bank to make sure they were not cashed yet. I told them I needed those funds put back in my account ASAP if the loan company did not cash them yet. I also called your loan company to check on them. I got the info from your loan company to do a direct wire transfer and that is what I will do. I just need my bank to check on them and make those funds available for me to transfer. I will take care of this this week. My bank said they should know something Monday. It will be taken care of, not sure what happen. I need this paid so I can get the lien off the boat.”

He still wouldn’t provide the requested documentation. We notified the FBI, as this a documented vessel with Homeland Security, and we could not get any local authorities to take any action. The FBI wrote back demanding that the local authorities take action or we were to notify the District Attorney. Suddenly, the Coast Guard is willing to post a note on our title and the Ft. Myers, Lee County authorities are ready to take a report, which has now been filed. We hired an attorney who saw our boat in Sarasota Bay at an anchorage where derelicts live aboard vessels. The Sarasota police weren’t able to find it.

At the attorney’s suggestion, we sent another email to Steve, the buyer:


“I greatly appreciate you responding yesterday, January 4th, 2015, to my December 29th, 2014 email requesting copies of the money orders purchased as payment for our 1984 Sea Ray. You continue to fail to produce the requested documents. As this transaction took place on December 7th, the date you took possession of the boat, and my bank has not yet received payment; I did hire the services of an attorney. He has spoken to legal authorities and advised me to pursue a felony theft by deception case IF the $8113.18 owed is not wired to my bank, USAA, as per their instructions. The bank has indicated to me that you did inquire, but they have not received payment. You have until the end of this week, Friday, January 9th, 2015, to make full payment or this matter will be pursued through legal channels. You either return the boat, or make full payment immediately. I expect to hear from you within 24 hours regarding your intent.”

So far, we haven’t heard back.

So this is where my head has been all week.

We should know something by the end of the week.

Waiting is hell.

Christmas in the Nation’s Oldest City

I promised a post about our trip to St. Augustine and I really want to share this with you before Christmas. St. Augustine is a city in Northeast Florida and the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement and port in the continental United States. It was established in 1565.

I know there is dust on European book shelves older than that, but that’s old for North America. When you think of Florida, which really didn’t boom until the 1950s, it’s really historic.

When we first arrived in St. Augustine, it was daylight and the entire city was decorated with Christmas charm, including Casa Monica, our downtown hotel in the historic district. Being the old fogies that we are, we took a quick look around and then flopped in the plush bed to read and nap.

Casa Monica

When we awoke it was nighttime, and the city was festively lit up for the Holiday. Our first order of business was the trolley ride around town to see the lights.


The town square was lit up as bright as day.

One of the most delightful things to see were the quaint Bed and Breakfasts all decorated in the Christmas spirit. There were Santas and elves, snowmen and princesses, we even saw a Christmas Elvis. Although the light display was a little underwhelming after visiting Disney’s show, the charm of the historic city really shined through in the garlands and wreaths on display. It was all picturesque, but sometimes a little difficult to see from the back of a trolley.


 After the trolley ride, there were sugar cookies and hot apple cider for all of us tourists, then it was off to the Christmas Regatta. If you have never seen a boat display of Christmas lights you should put that on your bucket list. These pictures don’t do it justice. The lights sparkle down reflecting across the water and shine brightly into the night sky. The boat parade made me think of Santa’s sleigh. Boats appear beneath the Bridge of Lions over the ICW Matanzas River and make their way in front of the crowd along the city walls.

We missed our dinner reservation due to the long line waiting on the trolley, but ventured north up San Marcos to La Pavillon for fine European dining in a Victorian home. The RS selected a seafood and pasta dish.

I had the rack of lamb and it was scrumptious.

St Augustine and Flager Beach 026

Then it was back to the hotel to read ghost stories….oooo. An added treat was waking up and getting to see the Huguenot Cemetery near the oldest wooden schoolhouse. I don’t know why, but old cemeteries fascinate me. Part of my fascination with them might be seeing how young people were at time of death. Mosquito borne disease, childbirth, and influenza killed so many back then. There’s a huge cemetery in Key West and the eldest person buried there was thirty-seven at time of death.

It was also kinda creepy to see the mannequins in the old schoolhouse. Some of the other historic houses were a little brighter.

A short walk took us to the fort on the Matanzas River, The Castillo de San Marcos.


This was right up the RS’s alley. I was fascinated by some of the history and the architecture.

The RS was intrigued by its strategic location, just in front of the Atlantic Ocean inlet, the weaponry and costumes on display.

I’ll leave you with one last cheerful photo. Every town should have a store like this:

St Augustine and Flager Beach 021


Flagler Beach Fun on the way to The Nation’s Oldest City

The RS and I took a notion to travel on Saturday and headed out to St. Augustine for an overnighter. We usually travel south for Old World Florida fun but this trip took us a bit north. The highlight was a detour off I-95 across Hwy. #100 to Flagler Beach where local authors were having a book signing at Change Jar Books. All of these authors write their stories set in Flager Beach and are local celebrities. They should be regional or national celebrities. When they are, we can say, “We knew them when…”

The RS knows the work effort that went into writing and publishing Red Clay and Roses and he really appreciates independent authors. One of our favorite writers, Tim Baker was at the signing. We picked up a collection of Tim’s crime thriller/adventure books about Ike and Associates to gift a friend. We met Becky Meyer Pourchot and got a copy of the first in her Hungry Ghost series (which I’ll tell you more about later). I don’t think Becky always wears pink hair or dresses like the Snow Princess, but it was fitting for the season. (photo op)

St Augustine and Flager Beach 002

You can follow Tim Baker on Twitter @blindoggbooks, drop by and show some love. He’s almost at 10,000 followers. You can read my review on Eyewitness Blues and get a sneak peek about Path of a Bullet here.

We also picked up a shiny, colorful, hardback book for our grandchildren by Marybeth Jeitner and Heather Chalmers, Saving Libbie the Lobster. This is about one special lobster, and has rhyming passages that the kids and grandkids will cherish. Saving Libbie the Lobster is based on true events. In the back are some interesting facts. (another photo op)

St Augustine and Flager Beach 005

We left Change Jar Books loaded with good reads and gifts and then stopped into Flagler Beach Gifts run by Michelle, where the RS found a nifty boating hat, the kind he likes but can never find.  It fits the rocket scientist better than it fits Captain, the pug.


While in Flagler Beach we couldn’t resist the opportunity to dine at The Golden Lion. If you have read any of Tim’s books you’ll know why this place is so very important.

St Augustine and Flager Beach 008

First, we wanted to cross A1A and get an uncluttered view of the beach. There’s nothing quite like the feeling that you get when you’ve been traveling and you come upon an ocean view, the breeze, open blue skies, and vastness of the water before you. Flagler Beach is one of those sleepy little seaside villages that’s not inundated by commercial enterprise. Independently owned and operated ice cream shops, cozy coffee cafes, beach bars, and quaint hotels are sprinkled along the west side of A1A, and the most gorgeous views of the Atlantic are to the east.

Then, back across A1A to The Golden Lion.

St Augustine and Flager Beach 012

Of course we dined on the upper deck so we could keep an eye out for Ike and Brewski possibly passing by on their Harleys.  It was a chilly day at 65 degrees, but that just served to keep the oysters cold. After the appetizers, we were served steaming crocks of delicious New England clam chowder. The soup warmed us up perfectly. If you’re ever touring Florida’s east coast, you’ll want to stop in here.

Flagler Beach is definitely one of my new favorite Old World Florida places.

Another day I’ll tell you about St. Augustine, the Nights of Lights, and Castillo de San Marcos.

Have you chanced to meet any of your favorite authors?

Do you have a favorite Florida place?

What did you do over the weekend?   

Happy Thanksgiving: Gratitude Day

Happy Thanksgiving from Florida

Sweet potatoes are in the oven and the Cornish rock hens have been seasoned and herbed. There will be mashed potatoes and sweet potato soufflé with asparagus and cranberry sauce on the side. We’ll top it off with pecan pie stuffed under a mountain of whipped cream. That’s the table spread for today.

Why do we do this?

To let our family and friends know how much they are treasured.

To let strangers know they are cherished as hopeful new friends.

To express thanks for another year of blessings and give hope for the coming year.

To remember and honor all of those who came before us.

To let our God know that we are grateful and pray for peace, compassion, health, knowledge and comfort.

To say Thanks!

I especially want to say thanks to readers and writers, my many friends on WordPress; supportive bloggers, authors, new writers, seasoned writers, all those somewhere in the middle. You are my colleagues and I spend the better part of most days in your company. You make my days bright and give me the encouragement I need to keep the faith. The light you shine on my path is brighter than the Florida sun. I appreciate you!


Happy Birthday Florida Style

I hate to start off a post talking about the weather, but really I must. The weather for my birthday weekend couldn’t have been better for what we planned to do. November and April are practically perfect in Florida.

Saturday, we took our new boat out on the intracoastal waterway at Indian River. The sun was shining, the air was refreshingly cool, but the sun’s warmth was felt to the core melting away any morning chill.

This was our first adventure to downtown Cocoa with a boat. Not a great idea. There is a lovely park with boat ramp in the middle of the historic district. I thought it would make for a nice walking tour when we returned. There are little al fresco diners, quaint shops, and boutiques along the way.

one way streets

Wrong. Getting to the park was next to impossible hauling an eight-and-a-half foot wide twenty-three foot boat and trailer. We turned left, then right, then left, again and again, swinging wide to avoid the cars and clipping the curbs on the narrow one-way streets.  After sweating bullets through downtown traffic, we finally made it to the park. I’m certain we were cursed at often.

Once in the water it was a gorgeous day. We motored upriver toward the lagoon. Coming under the A1A bridge, a barge about the length of a football field came blasting around the corner out of a canal to the east and I nearly wet my pants.  I had to turn the helm over to the more experienced captain.  The rest of the day was pleasantly uneventful.


Breaking in the new boat, we had two hours of near idle time keeping the boat under 2000 rpms. Slowly, we meandered down the barge canal to Habortown Marina and had a leisurely lunch at a most obscure waterfront restaurant.

happy birthday on the water 002

Coming back west to the intracoastal we were surrounded by dolphins and manatees. The dolphins all seemed to have babies and the manatees were munching on seagrass. These are not my pics, because every time I tried to get a shot they disappeared into the waters. Osprey and pelicans were everywhere.

It was getting late so I knew a walk around cocoa was out of the question. The only bad thing about winter in Florida is that darkness comes too early.

happy birthday on the water 004

After our short day in the water we headed back through Cocoa. Coming around a corner, the rocket scientist swung wide to avoid a curb, but also had to avoid a parked car on the opposite corner. You know those cute little chalkboard signs that owners put out to advertise their daily specials (like the pretty pink one in this pic)?


Well, the RS clipped one perched on the curb and down it slammed. It sounded like gunshot hitting the sidewalk. A lady jumped off a nearby park bench as if she needed to take cover. I know we were cursed again, “Those damn boaters coming through here!” I can hear it now. Anyway, we made it home.

First order of business upon arriving home. No limes, but a lemon works just as well.
First order of business upon arriving home. No limes, but a lemon works just as well.

Sunday, we put in just north of the NASA building in Parrish Park, a much easier boat ramp to get to on the causeway to Merritt Island.  People were much friendlier today than on our maiden voyage.  It was a sunny day with very little breeze and a perfect temperature.  Much more boater traffic Sunday and I got some good experience at the wheel.


Fun day. Happy birthday. Looking forward to many more. 🙂

This morning the wind was whipping the traveler’s palm leaves around, the air all balmy and tropically warm, and now it is pouring rain, lightning and thundering.

Writing and a New Adventure

Today marks a year since I wrote the first words in Naked Alliances. It has been through a dozen beta reads and I’m not finished editing. It isn’t ready for publication and I’m not sure it ever will be. I have a couple more stories in my head for Richard and Brandi and I plan to work on those.

I have another project in Surviving Sister. That one is a really slow go. I write on it in bursts and then draw a blank for weeks, then go back and add more. I’m not sure where or how it is going to end. It is a linear write and I’m taking it as it comes.

We bought a new boat. I’m excited about it, but not nearly as excited as the rocket scientist. He has owned a boat since age sixteen, but has never owned a brand new one. I’m hoping he’s got one he can just tinker on upgrading and not spend hours and hours making repairs. I’m looking forward to going coastal and collecting stories.

This is a 2015 Nautic Star 231 Coastal and we have named her “Nauti Dreams.” We were naughty to buy her before selling the old boat, but we do have a few interested parties in the old one so say a prayer, keep your fingers crossed, and let’s hope for the best. The new boat is both a pleasure boat and a fishing boat. We got the T-top in black and tan.

test drive boat 002

We pick up the boat Friday and get to take her out for a test run on Lake Harris at the dealership. We plan to bring her home and get her equipped for a coastal voyage. The rocket scientist has some vacation saved up and we’re going to dance her from marina to marina for a few weeks. That should be fun. We will be on tour back behind Sanibel and Pine Island around Ft. Myers.

There are some stories in this adventure, I’m sure, and other adventures in front of us. We got her for $16,000 less than MSRP, so that was a good start. This is a nice trailerable boat, so we can go east or west with no problems. Take a look:

Always Listening for a Story

We took a trip down to the boat and went out on the water this weekend. It was long overdue for me. I am reminded why we bought this boat in the first place. The weather and the water were just gorgeous.

Our Sea Ray cabin cruiser is too big to trailer, so we spent some of the weekend looking for a smaller boat. One that has caught our eye is the Nautic Star 210 or the 231 Coastal. These are pleasure boats comfortable enough for the whole family, but also great for fishing. We are thinking of kids and grandkids, but also like to fish the shallows.


We went to the Ft. Myers City Yacht Basin. There are people who only stay overnight and there are folk who have lived here as long as thirty-eight years. The marinas and yacht basins are a cool place to hang out and hear some fantastic stories.

The Loopers are people who start out up north and travel down the rivers to the Gulf, travel around the southern tip of Florida or cut across the Okeechobee waterway to the Atlantic and then travel northward up the coast through the intercostal waterways. I’m sure it is an expensive lifestyle, but it would be one of my lottery winning dreams come true to do it at least once.


Loopers often have some of the best stories. These kind folk invited us for drinks aboard their vessel, Hoosier Daddy. Loopers are a special breed. They are some of the most well-grounded people you will ever meet, yet have a sense of adventure than nearly none can surpass.


Biketoberfest has been going on in Daytona for a week. It is one big party for bikers, but the bikers often travel the state which hosts them in various towns and communities with local bike weeks. The transients make Florida a more colorful place come October.

Lots of fun and lots of stories to be told.

 Great places for inspiration!

Where do you find yours?