Author of OUTBACK LOVE a contemporary romance novel set in Australia, JETTING AWAY a short story prequel to OUTBACK LOVE, MOON OVER MADNESS a paranormal romantic comedy and BAYOU BLUES AND OTHER SORROWS a collection of short stories and poems about life and love. All are available online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Sony, Diesel and Kobo. On Twitter @TeriHeyer

Monday, July 22, 2013

Rain, Rain and More Rain

Rain on the back patio.

As I'm writing this post there's a deluge of rain just outside my door. I'm talking lots and lots of rain, gully washer rain, monsoon rain. Here on the Florida Gulf Coast, this is the season for warm tropical rains accompanied by lightning and booming, rolling thunder.

Rain in the backyard.

This July has been nothing but rain, rain and more rain. The beach tourists have been greatly disappointed in day after day of rain and very little bright summer sun. This isn't good beach weather. Just sayin' ...

I've lived in Florida off and on for over thirty-one years. Some summers are scorching hot with very little rain. Some summers are almost nothing but torrential downpours of warm tropical rain. Well, this is one of those rainy summers for the Florida Panhandle.

Rain pouring through the patio trellis.

I couldn't resist snapping a few rain photos to add to this post.

It's a good thing I love rain. I love the sound of the rain, love watching the deluge of raindrops, love the fresh, clean smell of rain.

Rain outside the front door.

I lived in Las Vegas for eleven years where it rained only a couple times a year. Then I lived in the Texas Hill Country where it only rained twice in sixteen months. So given the choice, I'd rather live where it rains a lot.

On the other hand, my dogs Dude and Shani would rather live where it rarely rains. These two are not rain dogs. On days like this they go to the back door and look out at the rain, then go to the front door to see if it's raining out there too.

Rain in the front yard.

Rainy days are a great time to read. So what am I reading today? Some days I'm bouncing around between books, a little of this and a little of that. So here are today's books: Midnight on Julia Street by Ciji Ware (on my Kindle Fire) and  A Deadly Shade of Gold by John D. MacDonald (paperback). Both books are great reads.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Here's Looking at You - A Day at the Zoo

One of the many llamas at the zoo.

Yesterday I spent the day at the zoo with my grandkids. The Gulf Breeze Zoo is one of my favorite places and I had such a grand time with the kids and taking bunches of photos. So when I went through those photos this morning I decided that I just had to share some of them with you.

Kenya, one of the three giraffes at the zoo.

I'm sure all those beautiful critters at the zoo are just as fascinated with us as we are with them. I can just imagine what they're thinking as they gaze at us human critters. Hmm! "That one looks pretty tasty." Or "That one is pretty cute." Or "Oh, no, a face only a mother could love."

One of the many roosters wandering about.

Friday was my birthday and Saturday was my day at the zoo. One of my presents from my grandkids and my daughter and her husband, was a Year Pass to the zoo and the zoo train. So very cool. Now I'll be going to the zoo all the time. What fun!

The young Lion is now over a year old.

If you're ever in the area, the Gulf Breeze Zoo is definitely worth the visit. Though it's a small zoo, it's a great place to spend a few hours. If you love taking photos, like I do, then you'll be sure have a grand time.

The Gulf Breeze Zoo - In NW Florida

One of the two Bengal Tigers at the zoo.

It was a cloudy zoo day, with rain and drizzle off and on. I didn't mind the wet since that meant the day didn't get too hot. On the other hand, my photos all seem to reflect the gray day. Oh well, I still had a great time. And my grandkids, particularly my four and a half year old twin granddaughters, danced their way around the zoo.

Feeding one of the many colorful Budgies.

One of my grandkids' favorite stops is the Free Flight Aviary where you can feed the colorful Budgies. Usually you end up with several Budgies on your hand, arm, shoulder or even your head. We always spend quite a bit of time with the friendly Budgies.

There are a couple of benches in the Free Flight Aviary, so it's a great place to settle down and spend some time. It also provides for some great photo ops.

Peacock chicks were wandering all around the zoo.

One of the cool things about this zoo visit was all the Peacock chicks which were wandering around all over the zoo. They loved the special feed that you can buy at the zoo for $3.00 per cup. My grandkids were totally delighted with the Peacock chicks.

One of the Red Kangaroos taking a rest.

By the end of our zoo visit, I was as tired as the Red Kangaroos lazing in their pen. All in all, it was a really fun day.

Since I now have a Year Zoo Pass, I'll be visiting quite often. So please stop back from time to time to see more zoo posts with lots of fun photos.

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Beachin' Birthday

Me celebrating my birthday on Pensacola Beach.

I'm not much into birthdays. In fact, I don't care for birthdays at all. However, since birthdays come and go, there's not much I can do about having another one.

My grandson asked me not too long ago, "Nana, are you old or are you really old?" Hmm! Not much of a choice. I'm not old enough for Social Security so I said, "Just old." I suppose there are worse things than getting older. Just sayin' ...

Looking south toward the squall line.

Well, today seemed like a good beach day. Cloudy, with only bits of blue sky showing through and a temp in the low 80s. A tropical breeze was blowing in off the Gulf.

My husband and I spent only about an hour at the beach. The surf was a bit too rough for me. I prefer no surf, just flat emerald waters, so clear I can see the white sand and the tiny crabs and little fish. Today the water was dark green and churned up too much to see anything below the surface.

Even darker skies to the west.

I snapped a bunch of photos. To the south was a squall line of dark clouds and rain. To the west the clouds were even darker. To the east the sun was shining through the clouds and the surf was adorned with diamond sparkles. To the north the sky was cerulean blue with puffy white clouds.

The sun was shining through the clouds to the east.

We've been having a lot of stormy beach days lately. I love the tropical storm clouds and the fact that the beach is almost empty those days.

On non-stormy days Pensacola Beach is packed with summer tourists and the sugar-white sand is hot, hot, HOT. That's when the Gulf waters are turquoise and emerald green and feel like bath water.

Cerulean blue skies with puffy white clouds to the north.

The wind was picking up today and an extra strong gust sent our striped umbrella tumbling end over end down the beach. My husband had to sprint after the umbrella. That's when we decided it was time to pack up and head home. The squall line was coming in fast and it would be raining on the beach before too long.

Hemingway and a Corona with Lime.

Back at the house it seemed like the perfect time to sip a Corona with lime and read a little Hemingway. A Happy Beachin' Birthday to me!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Beachin' in Florida - Where are you, Travis McGee?

Coffee and John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee Novels.

Years before moving to Florida I read every one of John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee Novels, twenty-one of them in all. I fell in love with Florida, sight-unseen, and knew that I had to live there. A couple years later I stepped off a plane in Daytona Beach, Florida and instantly knew I'd found my tropical paradise.

Now here I am, thirty-one years later, and still in love with Florida. Only now I live on the Florida Panhandle on the beautiful Gulf Coast. It's one of those mornings where I'm remembering the Florida from all those years ago compared to the Florida I see today.

There are definitely lots of changes. The cities and towns have all expanded until they run into each other. So much of the Florida I remember from years past is now paved over.  Millions more people have taken up residence here. Tourists flock here from around the country and around the world. Florida is still beautiful, but gone are the sleepy, slower-paced, sultry days of yore.

I'm sitting on my trellis-covered patio sipping coffee from a Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay, Florida coffee mug and reading John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee Novel, A Deadly Shade of Gold. Now I ask, where are you, Travis McGee?

In the 1960s fictional Travis McGee lived on his houseboat, the Busted Flush, docked at slip F-18 at Bahia Mar in Fort Lauderdale. Travis McGee was a one-man, super-hero, crime-fighter, living a laid back life in paradise. He took down drug runners, thieves and thugs. On top of that, he was an environmentalist fighting to save the Everglades, the Keys and the rest of south Florida from corrupt developers.

After John D. MacDonald passed away, Travis McGee slowly disappeared. These days it's difficult to find anyone who has even heard of John D. MacDonald or Travis McGee, let alone read the books. How can that be? My local library doesn't have a single one of the books. They're difficult to find in a bookstore and only now and then does one appear in a used bookstore or garage sale.

I used to own all the Travis McGee Novels, but when I moved from southern California to Florida, those books mistakenly got left behind. Not too long ago I was able to buy three of the books at a used book sale at my local library. Someone donated a few of the novels to the library. I bought three and another lady bought three. I scanned every single book at the sale and couldn't find any others.

So I'm now the proud owner of A Deadly Shade of Gold, Pale Gray for Guilt and The Empty Copper Sea. I'll keep looking at used book sales and will eventually collect all the books once again. This morning I started rereading A Deadly Shade of Gold. Ahh, Travis McGee, I've missed you so.

The world was a simpler place back in Travis McGee's time. Maybe the bad guys were easier to spot? And maybe one guy could make a difference? But then Travis McGee was just a fictional character and the real world was more complicated than that.

Well, I've missed Travis McGee and now I've found him again. I intend to savor every minute as I reread these books. Travis McGee does exist in my mind. He's still sitting on the Busted Flush sipping a cold one and enjoying another spectacular Florida sunset. I'm sitting there with Travis McGee and we're talking about going fishing tomorrow. Or maybe we'll be fighting some bad guys? You just never know.

For those interested in reading the Travis McGee Novels, they can be ordered online from your favorite online bookstore and are also now available as eBooks. Here's the series, in order, but don't hesitate to pick up any of the books and read them in or out of order. I guarantee you too will fall in love with Florida and Travis McGee.

The Travis McGee Novels by John D. MacDonald:

The Deep Blue Good-by
Nightmare in Pink
A Purple Place for Dying
The Quick Red Fox
A Deadly Shade of Gold
Bright Orange for the Shroud
Darker than Amber
One Fearful Yellow Eye
Pale Gray for Guilt
The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper
Dress Her in Indigo
The Long Lavender Look
A Tan and Sandy Silence
The Scarlet Ruse
The Turquoise Lament
The Dreadful Lemon Sky
The Empty Copper Sea
The Green Ripper
Free Fall in Crimson
Cinnamon Skin
The Lonely Silver Rain

Friday, July 12, 2013

Hopelessly Addicted to Books

'Far in the Wilds' by Deanna Raybourn

I have to admit that I'm hopelessly addicted to books. This is an addiction that started when I was a small child and hasn't let up all these many years later. Nope, I'm not going to confess to the actual number of years. Just trust me to say that it's been a long, long time.

I have bookshelves full of books, boxes of books under my bed, stacks of books in my closet, books on end tables and dressers and any number of places.

'A Spear of Summer Grass' by Deanna Raybourn

On my Kindle Fire and Kindle Keyboard I have more books than I can count. Well, actually, I can count that high, but suffice to say that it's a heck of a lot of books. I probably have more books than I can read in several lifetimes. So I think it's fair to say this is a true addiction.

Is this a bad thing? Are you kidding? Absolutely not. Being addicted to (in love with) books is a very good thing. I'm never bored, because there's always a book (or two or three or more) at my fingertips.

'HIGH TIDE' by Maureen A. Miller

How did this happen? Well, to begin with, my mom started reading O'Henry and Terhune stories to me when I was still too young to start school. Once I could read on my own I practically lived at the library. Every birthday and Christmas all I ever wanted was books. Whenever I had a little bit of money I bought more books. Even today I'd rather shop for books instead of clothes, shoes or anything else I can name.

I read every chance I can get: when I first wake up in the morning, before I go to sleep at night, and whatever stolen moments I can find throughout the day. Books are what keep me sane, calm, hopeful, optimistic, I could go on and on.

'Stella in Stilettos' by Jan Romes

In honor of this addiction to books, I thought it fitting to list some of my latest reads. After all, I'm sure many of you also suffer from this same addiction and are probably looking for some more great books that you just must have.

I'm almost always reading more than one book. Usually I have a hardback or paperback book that I'm reading, in addition to one or more eBooks on my two Kindles. It pretty much just depends on my mood of the moment as to which book I want to read at any given time. I'm also a night owl, so I do a lot of reading well after the midnight hour. I'd much rather lose sleep and read.

'The Orchid House' by Lucinda Riley

Books I'm currently reading:

A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn
The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley
That Summer in Cornwall by Ciji Ware
Undaunted Courage by Stephen E. Ambrose

'BEYOND' by Maureen A. Miller

Books I Read and Loved in May:

The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory
Long Trail Home (Texas Trails #3) by Vickie McDonough
BEYOND (BEYOND #1) by Maureen A. Miller
BEYOND: Two Suns (BEYOND #2) by Maureen A. Miller
Secrets of Paris by Luanne Rice
Baby, Don't Go (Southern Roads #3) by Stephanie Bond
Baby, Drive South (Southern Roads #1) by Stephanie Bond
Stella in Stilettos by Jan Romes

'Baby, Hold On' by Stephanie Bond

Books I Read and Loved in June:

Baby, Hold On (Southern Roads #3.5) by Stephanie Bond
Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick
Endless Night by Maureen A. Miller
The Diamond Smugglers by Ian Fleming

'CATALINA KISS' by Tracy Ewens

Books I Read and Loved in July (to date):

Catalina Kiss by Tracy Ewens
Baby, Come Home (Southern Roads #2) by Stephanie Bond
High Tide by Maureen A. Miller
Far in the Wilds by Deanna Raybourn

If you'd like, you can check out my reviews for all the books listed above via my Goodreads page:

Teri Heyer's Goodreads Page

'ENDLESS NIGHT' by Maureen A. Miller

Note: The photos in this post are books on my Kindle Fire. For the record, I love my Kindle Fire (great for reading inside and in the dark or low-light conditions due to back lighting) and my Kindle Keyboard (which I've had for years and read outside and at the beach due to the non-glare screen). I still love hardback and paperback books too. I also frequent my local library and used bookstore.

Are you hopelessly addicted to books too?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Have a Beachin' 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July from a stormy Pensacola Beach.

Normally a 4th of July on Pensacola Beach is hot, hot, HOT. However, it seems this year is going to be a bit different with dark cloudy skies and intermittent rains. Instead of a temp in the 90s, this 4th of July is supposed to linger in the high-70s to low-80s.

Well, considering we've had weeks of extremely hot and humid weather here, this is a welcome reprieve. On the other hand, holiday beach goers might have preferred our usual hot beachy weather.

Today was stormy on Pensacola Beach (facing east).

I couldn't resist taking an assortment of beach pics today. The dark storm clouds were gorgeous. While I was snapping pics the rain started to fall. No lightning or thunder to accompany the rain, so the beach goers didn't seem to mind. The rain was light, so I didn't mind it either.

A few beach goers enjoying the rough surf.

The surf was pretty choppy, which meant a Yellow Flag Warning (rough surf and rip tides). A few hardy beach goers were playing in the surf, though most seemed to prefer sitting on the sand and just gazing at the water.

Darker storm clouds facing west on Pensacola Beach.

No, I didn't venture into the water today. I prefer those ultra-calm days with little or no waves. Way, way, way-back-when I would have enjoyed body surfing, but now I just walk along the edge of the surf on rough days.

Looking north on Pensacola Beach from the edge of the surf.

For those heading to Pensacola Beach for the long holiday weekend, well, you'll still have a great time if you don't mind a little rain. The fireworks on the sound side of Pensacola Beach should be great. Expect a crowded beach on the 4th and some pretty heavy traffic.

My favorite part of Pensacola Beach (the far west end).

As for me, I preferred today's less crowded beach. Most beach goers were sticking pretty close to the beach in front of the pavilion and in sight of the pier.

A lone bird on the far west end of Pensacola Beach.

Me? I prefer the far west end of Pensacola Beach where there was hardly a person in sight. It was pretty much just me and a few birds. Ahhh, just the way I like the beach.

I hope y'all have a wonderful, fun-filled, Happy 4th of July!