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Booksignings, Southern Authors, Beaches, and New Friends

The first week in March, hubby and I set out on a two-city booksigning event for FOLLY BEACH DANCES.

First stop was the Tides Folly Beach Hotel. I’d stayed there last September when my long time friend and author, Tina Solomon, visited Folly Beach to market our ‘healing’ coffee table book FOLLY BEACH DANCES. Recognizing familiar hotel faces, I was happy to be back.

The view from our hotel balcony was the ocean. (Sigh)

In our spare time, Russell and I made it a point to enjoy leisurely strolls on the beach. The first morning, we met a twenty-something Lizzie on the pier. As the three of us walked, we conversed. She spoke fondly of her boyfriend in the military. Browsing through the pier’s gift shop, we noticed FOLLY BEACH DANCES on display. Picking up a copy, Lizzie flipped through the pages of the book, and ended up buying a copy.

Lizzie and me, at FB pier

Lizzie and me, at FB pier

That afternoon we headed to The Preservation Society of Charleston for a booksigning. At first, sales were slow, but by late afternoon we’d hit our stride. What the customers didn’t buy, Evan, the event coordinator, ended up purchasing for the store. A successful event!

The next day, we drove to the end of the island to visit the Folly Beach County Park. As I stepped foot on the sand, I felt transported to a Caribbean oasis. The white sand and muted landscape hues, drew me closer to the water’s edge. And the crisp air beckoned windsurfers to ride the ocean’s waves.

Walking the shoreline, I followed the island’s natural curves. With unbridled anticipation, I was anxious to uncover visual treasures with my camera’s lens. A weathered tree with branches that mimicked windblown hair, awaited me around the next bend.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe bid our goodbye to Folly Beach the next morning, but not before stopping at Bert’s Market – an eclectic hipster produce store. Speaking with Julia, the store’s owner, I was happy when she said she’d carry FOLLY BEACH DANCES!

Next stop – Columbia, South Carolina. After checking into Homewood Suites, we met fellow writer C. Hope Clark and husband, Gary, for dinner at Mr. Friendly’s. The time passed quickly as we spoke of writing, publishing, conferences, the beach, and the lake. I thought the waiter was going to kill us for lingering at her table for more than 2 ½ hours!

Hope and Matt

Hope and Matt

The following day we headed to Irmo Branch Library for a 15-author event. Matt Matthews, author of Mercy Creek, and the First Carolina Novel Prize sat to our right. Hope sat to our left. With her Low Country mysteries, there was a constant stream of visitors to her table. I felt comfortable wedged between these wonderful writers. At the end of the event, I took inventory of our book sales, and realized we did okay.

I told hubby, I’d be back, and took some time to find Southern writer, Tom Poland’s table. Co-author of Reflections of South Carolina. I’d seen his book everywhere – even in Missouri. Along with Robert Clarke, Tom created a wonderful journey of photography and essays, weaving personality and character into the book’s colorful pages.DSC_1220 Tom Poland crop copyr

Tom and I chatted for awhile, and I learned of his humble beginnings in writing. Back in the 70’s, he had a wild idea to take to the road with Robert. With no plan in mind, they’d write and photograph whatever they found interesting. And they never looked back. We shook hands, exchanged business cards, and agreed to meet again whenever in the South.

The car loaded with suitcases, we set course for our next destination – Sunset Beach, North Carolina. Three hours later, we pulled into the parking space of our beach rental, the Graham Sporting Goods house.

Friend and fellow author, Jacqueline DeGroot, stopped by for a visit the following night to talk, watch the sun set below the horizon, and drop off her recent book releases – The Cemetery Kids series. I snapped a photograph of Jack for an upcoming story.

The next three days were bliss. Lazy days spent walking the beach – in the morning, the afternoon, and at sunset. Oh, the sunsets. The sunsets were divine.DSC_1452 birds under pier sunset copyrWhen not on the beach, we’d hop in the car and putter along Shoreline Drive, gazing at the gorgeous homes, with the intercoastal waterway in the distance. We’d stop at our favorite coffee shop, or just shoot photos of flowers, birds, or landscapes.

Oh how I love Sunset Beach.

We made some new furry friends along the way. Sassy and Libby, whose owners live in Little River, came down for a beach visit. We met Emmy, a sweet golden, who lives a short five minute walk from the beach.

Emmy

Emmy

Libby

Libby

Needless to say, we’ll be back in Sunset in May with our fur babies. They’ll get to meet Sassy and Libby, and maybe even Emmy. I know they’ll see their friend Mosa, a boxer, who vacations the same week every year.

Oh yeah, the first day of our trip, FOLLY BEACH DANCES was nominated for the Eric Hoffer Award, including a finalist for the da Vinci Eye Award, for excellence in book cover design.

So, all in all, I’d have to say, we had a great trip.

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Pleasures await you by the seashore…

This summer I had the opportunity to sit and observe nature while on vacation in Sunset Beach, North Carolina.

I love watching birds, their graceful movements, and sometimes silly actions. I wrote a poem on this cold winter today which actually fits quite nicely with a fortune cookie I received awhile back.

Here’s the poem – I hope you like it. It’s called “Pleasures at the Seashore”

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Six little sandpipers
dip long spindly legs
and feet
in the shallow mud flats
and
watch tourists
on the shore.

Preening, gleaning
angel-like wings
and brown-tufted bellies,
resting idly
at ocean’s door.

A gentle waveDSCN0353 birds crop adj
pushes foamy surf
across wet land
in a lover’s
lullaby
of the sea.

And the feathered
reflections of nature –
six mirrored silhouettes,
dance on the glistening sand.

© Copyright Sheree K. Nielsen 2015

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A Writer, a Cameraman, a Castlebuilder, and a Paddleboarding Dog

Early morning Saturday May 17, hubby, Russell and I parked the Chevy Equinox near the 40th Street beach access on Sunset Beach, North Carolina.

With cameras and canteens draped over our shoulder, and two excited canines by our sides, we hightailed it to the shoreline for the 40 minute trek to the Kindred Spirit Bench.

The Kindred Spirit Bench, located on Bird Island, North Carolina was recently featured on CBS News. It’s an inspirational spot where people from all over leave their thoughts in the many journals, housed inside the Kindred Spirit mailbox. An anonymous originator placed the box there some 30+ years ago. My friend Jacqueline DeGroot, and friend Sandy Payne, are the Keepers – transporting the filled journals safely to their destination – U of NC.

The vista of the dunes and beach as viewed from the bench is breathtaking. It’s the maple syrup to my pancake, the hot fudge to my sundae, the chocolate in my cappuccino. It’s simply divine!

On this radiant Saturday morning, people were walking in droves — numbers I’d never seen before down the shoreline. More than I’d encountered on my last two visits to the Kindred Spirit Bench.

A sultry summer’s day, the air was hot, the sea was calm, and I was in my element. Russell walked briskly, and I kept rhythm by scuffling my sandals against the hard–packed sand. With the dogs’ tags jingling, our Bernese Aussie mix trotted in bow-legged fashion, and our mini Australian Shepherd stepped lightly like a ballet dancer.

Along the way, we met a lovely couple, Justin and Ashley, and her parents. As we walked, we talked, and learned a lot about each other. A writer, Ashley liked to collect shells for her students as a way of expressing themselves. They lived a mere three hours from Sunset Beach, and visited the Kindred Spirit Bench the same time each year.

DSCN0830 the four of usSpotting the Kindred Spirit mailbox, we climbed the sand dune and sat on the bench. Ashley and I chatted more about writing means to both of us. Afterwards, the six of us each took a turn penning our thoughts in the journals. We snapped some photos together to capture the memory of our visit.

DSCN0826 Ashley and me

At the bench, we met a guy wearing a Jason Mraz hat, and some cool spectacles – Colin, and his Italian Greyhound, Dan. On our return walk, we talked about photography. Exchanging pleasantries, I discovered Colin was the cameraman for The Big Bang Theory, and Two and a Half Men. The Big Bang Theory is ONLY my husband’s favorite show.

We took a few breaks so the dogs could frolic. Dan, a mere 10 lbs., ran in circles on the firm sand while our 75 lb. Bernese Aussie mix chased him. Unable to trust our mini Aussie, she was given only 15 foot of lead to run. In her mind that wasn’t enough.

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Sauntering down the beach, we neared the 45th Street Beach Access. I spotted a young man in white shirt and black sunglasses building sandcastles, and told hubby, “I’ll be back.”

Upon my approach, I stood back for awhile, and just admired the artist at work.

 

DSCN0848 Lukas and sandcastle“Hey, that’s pretty cool,” I said in an upbeat manner.

“Thank you.”

“ That’s pretty intricate. You an architect?”

Shaking his head no he admitted he had no formal training but came from a family of castlebuilders. “I’m pretty much the only one that’s kept up the castlebuilding.”

His name was Lukas. With a ‘k’.DSCN0852 sandcastle

The sandcastle displayed his handcrafted pottery on different levels. He described himself as a visionary.

As I bid Lukas “Good Day” he neatly wrote his email address on a piece of paper, of which I took a snapshot. He didn’t carry business cards.

As I meandered back to the spot where hubby and Colin were standing, I noticed a young woman with a paddle board entering the water.

Following behind, a man with a board, and a big black dog, entered the ocean. Steadying the board, the woman hopped on, then kneeled. The man, placed the board on the water’s surface, and the black dog jumped on, balancing on all four legs. Amazing. The man jumped on, kneeling astride the dog. The three of them floated effortlessly in the shallows for sometime – a serene watercolor painting.

DSC_1585 roscoe paddleboard crop copyrThere’s something peaceful and magical a man and his dog bonding with the rhythm of the sea.

After the couple and dog exited the crystal clear water, I headed in their direction. Russell, Colin and the dogs followed behind. I was curious to learn about the surfboarding dog.

“What’s his name?”

“Roscoe.”

Close up, Roscoe made our dogs look insignificant and tiny. He was an enormous canine, and appeared lean and muscular under the mass of wet black hair. The couple admitted Roscoe started surfboarding as a pup, and loved it. As I shook hands, and bid my goodbyes, I let them know they’d just made my day.

DSC_1595 roscoe and his owner copyrNearing the 40th Street beach access, we spotted my in-laws waving at us.

And I think we made a new friend. After running into Colin all week, we just decided to exchange information.

colin and the dogsWe keep in touch through social media. I love seeing photos of Dan the Dog, who has his own twitter feed. Colin’s a talented photographer. Maybe he’ll meet us on the sandy shores of Sunset Beach next May, and make the trek to the Kindred Spirit Bench once more?

Hope you get the chance to make new friends on your journey through life.

Writers, photographers, cameramen, poets, painters, sculptors, and songwriters all creating their own dream.

And even paddleboarding dogs…

A Photography Award, a Warrior Veteran, and Proud to Be

Last week I spent traveling through Arkansas for an upcoming story for AAA Southern Traveler and AAA Midwest Traveler. Along the way, I tasted food of all kinds – BBQ, pancakes, the most tender porkchops I’d ever eaten, and some good old-fashioned German chocolate pie with pecans (pronounced pe-cons not pee-cans according to Arkansonians) (did I say that right?).

But nothing surprised me as much as the letter that I received from the Missouri Humanities Council when I arrived home after a week of being on the road.

As I opened the envelope, I thought that it might be the contract for my November 8 workshop with veterans titled “Using Photographs to Tell a Story” at the Central Library in downtown St. Louis. I was mistaken.

Unfolding the letter, a rush of adrenalin overcome me. I let out a shrill scream. I think I scared my husband!

I was awarded First Place from the Missouri Humanities Council for my winning photograph of Jimmie, a Vietnam Vet, fishing on the pier at Sunset Beach, North Carolina. The photograph will be featured in Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors; Volume 3. The judge was Bradley Phillips, professor of photography at Southeast Missouri State University.

This is the second time I’ve won First Place in this category from the Council. Last year I received the award for my inspirational photograph of Russell, my husband, penning his thoughts in a journal located at the Kindred Spirit Bench in North Carolina. The judge last year was Destinee Oitzinger, Art Director of the National Veterans Art Museum.

I am honored and thankful for this wonderful opportunity. I’ve also discovered that Sunset Beach is soon becoming MY Kindred Spirit….a peaceful respite….a quiet oasis….my love affair and good luck charm….

Below are the two award-winning photographs….

James “Jimmie” McInnis is a three-time Vietnam Vet, and recipient of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart who I met at the Sunset Beach pier in North Carolina. As a hero in action, he unthinkingly pulled four men from an ammo dump that was blown up by a v-device in Vung Tau. Jimmie is a testament to all people everywhere that love this country.

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Triply Blessed – 3 New Publications – Thoughts on Family, Cats & Frank Lloyd Wright

I want to thank my lucky stars and God, of course, for a wonderful month of acceptance into two anthologies and one magazine of my literary and photography work.

In early June, Well Versed Literary Works 2014, held their book launch in Columbia, Missouri. While I was unable to attend the celebration, I am happy to say they selected four of my works (and loves) for inclusion into their exquisite literary anthology.

“Show Me the Chocolate” spoke of my unconditional love for the savory sustenance.DSC_1377

“My Morning Delight” was a sweet tribute to my cat Scooby, who entered this world with a roar, and left with a whisper.

“Modern Resonance” a funky poem, spoke of my love for jazz.

“Ode to Sunset Beach” told of my undying passion for all things ocean, sJuly 15 book signing NYMBky, sea, and nature.

On June 18, I was notified by Dahlynn McKowen of Publishing Syndicate that my essay, “Mom’s Best Advice” was accepted for inclusion in NYMB on Family, which was released on June 24. Anyway, there’s a really cool event on July 15 at St. Louis Books in Kirkwood, Missouri.  Alot of the local contributing authors will be there signing books. Hope you can make it.

In mid May, I was asked by the Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park to submit four personal photographs to MODERN Magazine, a boutique architecture mag in New York, not available on newsstands. One interior and three exterior views were accepted for the Summer 2014 issue and grace the pages of 80-82 along with a lovely feature article title “Open House” by Joanne Kohn and Laura Meyer.  Click on the link  MODERN_FLW – Summer 2014 – Nielsen to view.

I’d like to thank the editors for publishing my literary and photographic works. I truly appreciate the opportunities.

Our book, Folly Beach Dances, is doing quite well. For a small publisher we’ve sold more book by word of mouth in five weeks – we’re into triple digits.

There are three local booksigning events coming up in the St. Charles County area, and a schedule is being set for the Charleston, South Carolina area. Two bookstores, Indigo Books in St. John’s Island, and Blue Bicycle Books in Charleston, will be carrying Folly Beach Dances, just as soon as they receive their shipments.

Well, now that I’ve run on for so long, everyone go and have a positive day.

Remember to dance!

Sheree

All Dogs Say Their Prayers

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My husband started a cute routine with the dogs awhile back – a prayer before their meals. When the pooches spot him with their food bowls, they know it’s time for dinner, but importantly, it’s time to be silent and listen to what Daddy has to say.

I tried my hand at this concept this week at the beach. Food bowls in hand, I say a few words at each meal. On a couple of occasions, our mini Aussie who knows how to ‘say her prayers’ even bowed her head in reverence.

Today is our last full day at the beach, and I’m a little sad. I found it fitting to speak a gratuitous prayer for all dogs everywhere.

It’s pretty simple. Here’s how it goes –

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for all good (and bad) dogs all over the world.
Protect them in their travels with their owners.
Keep them safe from harm.

Bless their new canine friends,
And the people they’ve met along their journey.

Thank you for happy times at the beach and endless sunsets.

Let them experience new adventures.

Bless this food, and God Bless Brina and Mr. B.

Amen.

 

© Copyright, Sheree Nielsen 2014

 

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Dear Kindred Spirit – Take Three

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May 17, 2014

Dear Kindred Spirit,

It is on this gorgeous, sun-warmed day that I visit you for the third time in less than a year – first, with my friends Jacqueline and Sandy; second with my husband and our first rescue dog; and now with our most recent canine rescue.

I am constantly amazed by your everchanging majesty – waves crashing near the shore, seagulls soaring overhead, and dune grass dancing among coarse grains of sand. The nation’s splendor, our American flag, flies high in the powder puff blue yonder, and wrinkles present themselves in the weathered wood bench on which I rest – results from tides, past and present.

I love this place – from its breadth, and its impossible width, to the seashells and pine cones scattered about your foundation.

You are – God’s creation.

I am thankful for your grace, beauty and universality, the love of my husband and animal babies, and the ability to live out life’s passions.

Until we meet again,

I ♥ you, Kindred Spirit!

Sheree Nielsen

 

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@ShereeKNielsen and @follybeachdance on twitter

DSCN0830 all of us at the Kindred Spirit bench