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Preview: Dawning of a New Century

Dawning of a New Century

... The ongoing story of an experimental novel based on a real place and time, the steps from finished work to published book, and what came after ...

Last Build Date: Fri, 02 Mar 2018 17:06:29 +0000


366 Days is a week old

Thu, 31 Jul 2008 18:06:00 +0000

So I'm doing a daily fiction experiment at, a local social network, in which I'm writing new short fiction of some kind every day. A story, a couple of paragraphs, a poem, an a-b-c piece, something. The project started on my birthday and will end on my birthday next year, so altogether, "366 Days."

You're invited to play along - post comments, critiques, or your own stories in the comments section. Write an alternate ending. Just say Hi. Something to let me know there's somebody out there.

You can find the blogs at my profile, or you can go to the site and click on slide of me and go to a rough feed of the stories. (I prefer the formating at the profile and individual blog pages.)

The site is so happy that I'm "fiction blogging" that they've put me on the front page today, as one of their rotating features. I got to go to their loft office downtown Tuesday after work, where Dustin Bryson took several pictures of me trying to look like a literary rockstar. He has ideas for more pics that we may do later in the year.

So far, the project has been pretty much effortless, as I've drawn upon ideas that have percolated in my head for a long time. Those will begin running short any day now, and we'll see how this evolves. Maybe I'll begin writing a novel a page at a time. Who knows? Let's find out together.


Still going

Thu, 14 Feb 2008 19:35:00 +0000

Amazing story? Maybe not. But the weird truth about Books Alive 2008 is that the only books I sold were copies of "Welcome to the Dawning of a New Century" and "Dazed and Raving in the Undercurrents." The former was purchased by Janis Owens, and the latter by a lady on a cell phone whose connection wanted the column collection.

(image) Here's what Janis said in a recent email: "... When we got home and I was unpacking my books, I told Wendel (her husband) that I had a picture that pretty much encapsulated my writing sensibility and my myth in one photo. He stopped unpacking long enough to put on his reading glasses and I handed him the Piggy Wiggly picture on the back of your book. He agreed: there it was, my vision and my past, in one historic pose."

Glad to be of service to the myth. She added: "... I'm loving (the) book and will send whatever criticisms come to mind. None so far, but I'm just started. Xxjanis"

xx to you too.

Photo above: Janis Owens and Michael Morris before their morning Books Alive session, which I moderated. Below: My lovely daughter staffing the booth for Dad.


"City Limits" now available

Mon, 17 Sep 2007 18:59:00 +0000

After a loooong gestation period, "City Limits" is now available for purchase. The anthology includes work by Emily Cramer Boyle, Anthony S. Buoni, S. Brady Calhoun, N.W. Garrett, Lawrence Gordon, Kendall Middlemas Henley, John F. Jackson, Betty Kearney, Carole Petit Lapensohn, Bette Adams Powell, Jack Saunders, Rebecca Valle, Mary Anne Wright and Terry Wright. It features the art of Barbara Mulligan, articles and a short story by me.

I'm very pleased with the form this work took. I look forward to improving upon it in volume 2 (submissions now being accepted).

Books Alive 2007 -- And The Big Announcement

Tue, 06 Feb 2007 16:02:00 +0000


If you saw me at Books Alive, then you know about The Big Announcement. If not:

I'll be editing a new literary anthology coinciding with the upcoming Panama City Centennial. It's called "CITY LIMITS," and it will include short fiction, poetry, memoirs, art and photography. It'll also have information about Centennial events, a profile of the artist responsible for the Centennial logo (which will be used for the front cover art), a brief history of Panama City, and more informative content. The plan is to produce one annually for 2007, 08 and o9. (2009 is the actual centennial date.)

For details on submitting content for the publication, go here.

As for Books Alive, it seemed off this year. Most of the presenters were non-fiction folks, leaving those who get excited about poetry or fiction in the cold. The keynote speaker was interesting, as she had personal stories of encounters with Mother Teresa to share. But the crowd was smaller than in past years.

(image) I sold a few books, most notably Nathan's debut "Generation Huh?" For those who haven't heard, I collected three of Nathan's plays into book form for a Christmas present to him and his grandparents. We took two copies with us to Books Alive and he autographed them for the buyers. If he'd brought more, I'm convinced he would've sold more. Next time, we'll be better prepared.

I got an email Sunday from Rebecca Saunders (of the Bay County Public Library) who said she had purchased (from the online publisher) two copies for the library's Local History Room. Nathan was pretty pleased.

Finally, here are a couple more photos from Books Alive: Jack Saunders talking with a reader, and a posed shot of Marlene Womack and Norma Hubbard.



Signing this Saturday, plus special announcement

Thu, 01 Feb 2007 20:40:00 +0000

I'll be signing at Books Alive 2007 on Saturday, on the second floor of the Student Union East building at Gulf Coast Community College. Please tell your friends and family, and come out and meet authors and book lovers from all over the Southeast.

In addition, I have a special announcement about a new project that will be unveiled at Books Alive. It's something I'm doing in conjunction with the Panama City Centennial Committee. I'll give you the details here this weekend, but the beans will spill (and maybe a beanstalk will grow!) Saturday. Stop by my table for details.


Six-month anniversary

Wed, 17 Jan 2007 16:21:00 +0000

Today marks six months since my bypass surgery. I've put together a pretty extensive blog about this at, if you're interested.

Happy new year.

( still breathing)

Signing at B. Dalton

Fri, 22 Dec 2006 20:41:00 +0000

The mall was busy, but we weren't. However, Michael had a lot of copies of the anthology that he wanted signed, so there was still lots of ink spread about in perfectly good books.

I like this picture because it looks like Terry Lewis is standing behind an x-ray screen. Who'd've thought he dressed that way under his work clothes?

Signings upcoming

Mon, 18 Dec 2006 19:51:00 +0000

I'll be participating in a group signing at Panama City Mall on Wednesday night, Dec. 20, from 5 to 8 p.m. outside B.Dalton Bookseller, along with Michael Lister and the gang from Pottersville Press. Then, you can find me at Books Alive! 2007, Feb. 3, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Gulf Coast Community College Conference Center; this is the Bay County Public Library's annual "Festival of Reading," with a day of Free Author Presentations, Book Sales & Signings. You can see my little page on the Books Alive site here.

New anthology available; signing in Century in a.m.

Fri, 24 Nov 2006 23:03:00 +0000

Just a quick note that I'm signing books in Century Saturday morning. I'll have copies of "Welcome to the Dawning" as well as "Dazed and Raving" and the "Noir" anthology. Now available for order from Writers Cafe is their 2006 anthology, which includes a "Century" universe story called "Some World Not This." Check it out (the art here is the front cover).

Meanwhile, I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. We actually hit the stores at 3:30 a.m. in a vain attempt to secure a cheap laptop for our son. Never again. Never ever. Ever.


Heart to heart

Fri, 27 Oct 2006 18:42:00 +0000

Here's a link to my latest News Herald blog, which serves to link up all my heart-related blogs of recent months.

New story accepted for anthology

Wed, 25 Oct 2006 15:18:00 +0000

Good news today, as I got this message via email:

"Congratulations: Your story, 'Some World Not This,' has been accepted for publication in the 2006 Anthology."

I've been a member of the community for several months, where we review each other's stories, essays and poetry. I decided to submit a story for the anthology in September, right on the deadline for the book. They chose 28 entries for publication. The anthology should be on sale by late November.

Some World Not This was a painful story to write, and it literally took me years to complete. It's about a guy who's trapped in his memories after a car accident, where he's visited by a girl, a former classmate, who was murdered by her husband.

The description tag for the story reads, "Maybe in some other world, Ray and Suzy could have been happy together. Maybe in some other world, they still are."

It's set in Mosquito Flats, which means it's a "Century-universe" tale.

I hope you'll pick up the anthology (I'll post info on ordering it when I receive more info) and the I hope story will chill you.


...two months later...

Thu, 07 Sep 2006 20:55:00 +0000

It's been more than two months, in fact, since my last post here. Lots has happened, and if you've kept up with my blog at, then you know a lot of it has included just being proud that I'm breathing in and out.


Tonight, though, is a signing party for the new crime anthology, North Florida Noir, in which appears one of my particularly foul and mean-spirited stories. I say that because it's true. I was releasing some demons in this one. The main character is not a nice man. But it does take place in and around Century, and if you recall two little boys who figured in the "Legend of the Blackcats" tale, then you'll know that this is about (or at least includes) Tommy's mom, "Loretta." Just for fun, I think I'll post another story by that name here this weekend. It looks like I'll soon have a collection of Century stories again.

I'll take some pictures at the signing and maybe shoot some video. Meanwhile, if you haven't read my recent entries at the News Herald site, and you have some time on your hands, here's a link. You can save time by skipping to the "Anatomy of a Cabbage" entries.

Lots of links this week

Tue, 27 Jun 2006 21:20:00 +0000

You can see how I've been spending my nights the last couple of weeks by viewing the videos and photos (check the blogs) for Shakespeare by the Bay and Midnight on Mars

You can also see more of what's keeping me busy by viewing the videos, the new blogs and the photogalleries at The News Herald. There are Shakespeare pics in the Scene Around Town (June 2006) photo gallery.

Read my News Herald blog and comment. I plan to update it daily.

Tonight, Nate and I go to see Superman Returns. Friday and Saturday are the last performances of Othello.


Podcast, reading/signing event, new story

Wed, 07 Jun 2006 15:11:00 +0000

Here's a look at North Florida Noir, an anthology that will carry a Century-universe story by me, "Nothing was Real but the Girl." (I'll send more info about the story later.)

Here's the link to the podcast of my latest column, "Picking up the Pieces at Bay High."

Here's a link to my recent entry on the Shakespeare in the Park ("Shakes by the Bay") website.

And here's information about a reading/signing event I'll be doing on Dad's Day (as earlier posted on my MySpace account:

I've been invited to participate in the Summer Sunday Stories event this weekend, June 11 (Father's Day) at the Sapp House in Panama City. I'll read a selection from my book of columns, Dazed and Raving in the Undercurrents, and a short segment from my novel, Welcome to the Dawning of a New Century.The event begins at 3 p.m., my part of the performance is slated to last no more than 15 minutes, and the whole thing is supposed to be about 90 minutes. Afterwards, I'll sign and sell copies of the books.

The Summer Sunday Stories is sponsored by Storytellers@Bay. The Sapp House (a restored home from 1916) is located at McKenzie Avenue and Third Court downtown.

Have the book(s)? Come on out and show me some love. Don't have the book(s)? Now's your chance.


New podcast, videos

Tue, 09 May 2006 20:21:00 +0000

Hear my last Sunday's Undercurrents here.

Watch the videos I shot today at these links:
Hail at the Health Department
Storm damage

And here are other videos I've done this week:
Thunder Beach
School uniform dress code fashion show

(Some may take a while to load.)

New Undercurrents podcast and video

Mon, 01 May 2006 14:01:00 +0000

Listen to my latest podcast here.

Watch an accompanying video of the event here.


Latest podcast

Wed, 26 Apr 2006 19:11:00 +0000

You can hear my last Sunday's "Undercurrents" column as a podcast at this link.

An empty ache in Century

Thu, 20 Apr 2006 20:47:00 +0000

Empty spaces.Just a year and a half ago, I wrote about my chance encounter with photos of my Grandma’s house in a church hallway 120 miles away. A Panama City youth group had gone to Century to clean up Hurricane Ivan debris and had paused for a lunch on the front porch of her old house, which was by that time empty and had been purchased by a church that now met in the former Century High School building next door.I wrote of how this crowd of people caring for a stranger’s house had touched me, how I had never anticipated seeing the house under those circumstances, how I’d expected the house to end up being bulldozed rather than put to use again.I wrote of missing the front porch and flowery yard I saw in those pictures, childhood days of play and work among the azaleas, and the woman who had lived there, "who always had been an old woman" in my memory.Now, like her, even the old house and its grounds are only memories.All of it is gone. The house, the azaleas, the fence, and whatever trees had survived the hurricanes (except for a few pines on the back of the property). Her fountains and pools, which she had built with her own hands using concrete and bricks and stones she had gathered on summer vacations.The walkway she’d poured around the backyard fountain.The hopscotch court she’d drawn in wet concrete in the midst of her flower garden so that it would survive forever — or at least for the use of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Crushed, now. Destroyed.Even the grass. They had tilled the earth and dragged it and flattened it. It was a brown scar.Last weekend, I walked the empty lot where Grandma’s house had stood between the high school and elementary off Hecker Road. It seemed so small now. How could a house and sheds and gigantic azaleas — all of it — how had so many memories fit in so small an empty space?In the midst of the lot, my wife kneeled and discovered a tiny square of tan tile peeking from under brown earth. Grandma had used these inch-square pieces in her bathroom.Then she found an old asthma spray cartridge, a symbol of the woman’s lingering infirmity recalling memories of her drawing on those things, desperate for a breath.We sat in the van and considered the past, the traces of it in our fingers, and a breathless aching in an empty, Grandma-shaped space inside.Peace.***This was my "Undercurrents" column for The News Herald on Sunday, April 16. To hear a podcast of me reading this column click here.***My friend Pat sent me the following devotional today:Of house and homeby John FischerYesterday, I watched 80 years of memories get bulldozed to splinters in 20 minutes. That’s how long it took to reduce a house across the street from us to rubble. We were told it was a 1920s Sears "kit house" and one of the first houses on our block. A tiny one-bedroom cottage, it’s a miracle it held up for this long.Part of why it came down so fast was its single-wall construction. There didn’t seem to be a 2 X 4 in the place. The big bulldozer brought its giant shovel down on the house’s flat roof and the living room snapped in two. A few more drops on the rest of the walls and it was over. My neighbor, who watched it come down with me, commented that the house was probably held upby two screws.I thought of the woman who had lived there most of her life and died two years ago in her 80s. She kept to herself mostly and hardly ventured out except to attend church. The only time we were ever inside was when the house was put up for sale "as is" after her death. We wondered if she was a sole survivor, as no one had even bothered to r[...]

And that's how the weekend concludes ...

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 23:33:00 +0000

(image) The Shape of Things finished its run today at Gulf Coast Community College, and we finally got a chance to see the show. In the photo are the cast and director: Nathan Simmons as Phillip, Jewells Blackwell as Jenny, Brandon Duncan (director), Ashley Turner as Evelyn, and Chuck Clay as Adam. It was theatre in the round: The audience was seated in the center with sets arranged in a circle around them inside the "black box" theatre lab. In the final scenes, the audience became part of the play as the characters took seats among the audience to view an artist's showing. Quite the mindbending experience, overall, and what a way to cap what a weekend.

Busy Day Concludes: Mask Parade Gala, Literary Gala

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 05:16:00 +0000


So the sun went down, and the moon came up, and all sorts of things went on all around the town. Nathan went to GCCC to appear in The Shape of Things, Jessi went with Debra's sister and brother-in-law and neice to Mardi Gras, and Debra and I went to Edgewater conference center for the Covenant Hospice Mask Parade. In one of these, you see artist Patrick Reynolds (you're probably familiar with his beautiful angel paintings) checking out Barbara Mulligan's twin "stain glass" pieces. I was just relieved to see that the mask I did got a bid. It was a great dinner and the people we shared our table with were wonderful. We left early (visitors at the house, you know) and stopped by the Books Alive gala on the way home. It was at the Talkington home off Beach Drive, a showcase house that's a mix of art deco, east Indian and modern. That's where the other shots were taken. That's all for tonight. Peace.

Busy Day Begins with Books Alive

Sun, 12 Feb 2006 04:40:00 +0000

I'm not about to try to identify all these pics in order. But the parade of people through GCCC was fun and frantic. Lynn, Michael and I had a good time, sold a few books, made some new acquaintances and caught up with old friends. Betty Powell gave me a kiss on the cheek. Ethel Lewis, who is a longtime News Herald contact (lifestyle department contributor) did not, but I got a picture made with her.Pam Anderson, born and raised in Panama City and now a famous cookbook author and USA Weekend columnist, bought my book. Pam will forever be recalled by my wife as the person who drew her into a conversation with "the shrimp man," as Pam called him, then left Debra alone to listen to the rest of the John Cheshire's life story during last night's party. Pretty sneaky, but who can blame her, really? Meanwhile, Lynn noticed that all of my groupies were markedly older than his and Michael's. (Or maybe I pointed that out.) He's worried that my readership will begin fading soon. Hmmm. Next up: Gala ga-ga.[...]

Let's get acquainted

Sat, 11 Feb 2006 04:37:00 +0000

Just recently returned from the "get acquainted" party for authors and moderators participating in tomorrow's "Books Alive" festival at Gulf Coast Community College. Among the folks enjoying the fellowship were (first pic) Janis Owens and River Jordan, and (second pic) Doug Marlette telling a tale to Wendell Owens.

I shot lots of other photos, but either they were out of focus or I was. Anyway. I'll get more shots tomorrow and post them. Come see me. Maybe I'll get your picture and put it here. You never know. Good night.

Come see me Saturday

Fri, 10 Feb 2006 17:34:00 +0000

I'll be at joining fellow writers Michael Lister and Lynn Wallace at Books Alive 2006 at Gulf Coast Community College Saturday to sign and sell copies of our work from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a break for lunch from noon to 2 p.m. I'll also moderate a session by featured Florida Megatrends author David Colburn, provost at University of Florida at 2:15 p.m. Some of my other writer friends will be there too: River Jordan will debut her new novel, The Messenger of Magnolia Street; Pam Anderson (the USA Weekend columnist and cooking guru) will be there; Janis Owens will talk about Southern style.
Hope to see you there.

Young Writers Fest 2006

Fri, 27 Jan 2006 04:09:00 +0000

Megan Bell, the Newspapers In Education coordinator for The News Herald, and I led two sessions at the Young Writers Fest 2006 at Gulf Coast Community College today. The program brought fourth- and fifth-graders from all over Bay District to the college to learn about writing and storytelling in all its forms, from oral tradition and mime, as told by folks like Pat Nease and Renee Black, to children's literature and even newspapers.

I talked about the "5 W's and an H" and used a police incident report to get the kids to help me identify the information they'd need to write a police brief. Then we talked about the difference between "hard" news, features, and "opinion" writing, and I talked a little about fiction writing (and rewriting and rewriting) and answered questions about my career.

Megan then read to them from the book "The True Story of the Three Three Little Pigs," which is the story as told from the point of view of the wolf, who claims he was framed by the yellow journalists.

Using what they'd supposedly learned from me, the kids were asked to write either straight "hard" news reports of the incident, a feature or an opinion piece. A couple of them came up with their own fictional take, not based on anything they'd heard, but others added nice extras --- jailhouse interviews, interviews with neighbors who saw the whole things transpire, that sort of thing. I'll be back here Feb. 11 for the library's annual Books Alive. Don't miss it.

Letter from a reader

Mon, 23 Jan 2006 00:15:00 +0000

I got the following letter this week from a reader who said I could share it. He's living and working here in Bay County, and I've known him for years, but never knew we came from the same part of the state.

Welcome to the Dawning of a New Century ... Good Work!

It is strange reading material that is so familiar. You did a finejob of outlining the social dynamics of small town south. Two things that never dawned on me growing up in Jay. I never contemplated the name Century or where the mascot, Blackcats, came from.

Anyway, it took me away and back - way back.

"You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.
I hope some day you'll join us, and the world will be as one."
John Lennon

Craig Bush
Teacher, West Bay Elementary