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Sarasota writer wins statewide blog award

Robin Draper

Sarasota’s Robin Draper won big-time recognition for her blog Authentic Florida, which was named Best Food Blog in the state at the Sunshine Awards competition held in Orlando in January. (Yes, I know, I’m a bit behind!) More than 100 nominees were submitted to the contest, held at FlBlogCon (the Florida Blogger and Social Media Conference), and Draper walked away with the prize.

Draper grew up on Siesta Key and after a stint in the Peace Corps and California, she moved back to the area in 2009 and launched her blog shortly afterward. She travels the state looking for fun, Florida-only experiences and eats, and on her site writes about the places she visits and the food she eats with a loving touch. Her book Authentic Florida is available online at Amazon and at Barnes & Noble.

Posted on April 30th, 2014 Comments (2)Comments RSS Feed

Sarasota writer/singer/filmmaker releases first novel, Triple Destiny

Diana Colson, a longtime columnist for the Pelican Press back in the day, has released her first novel, Triple Destiny, set in part in Sarasota. The novel tells the story of a dance teacher who hides in Sarasota to protect her daughter from her violent husband, then escapes to Bali

Colson taught in Sarasota County public schools while at the same time performing as a singer/songwriter and also launching a career as a filmmaker. For five years, she was a social columnist for the Pelican Press; now she’s plotting a feature film based on Triple Destiny, and has even recorded a piano theme for the movie.

Posted on March 31st, 2014 Comments Off on Sarasota writer/singer/filmmaker releases first novel, Triple DestinyComments RSS Feed

Former Herald-Tribune editor launches new book on Florida breweries

Craft beer is all the rage these days, particularly in Florida, which has earned a reputation as a hub for creative, delicious beers, with a plethora of small, medium and large breweries all over. The scene has grown so popular it’s now the subject of a book, titled, well, Florida Breweries, and it was penned by former Sarasota Herald-Tribune assistant business editor Gerard Walen.

Gerard now runs a website called Road Trips for Beer, which documents Gerard’s travels for IPAs, ales, porters and more, and he has also launched the website Beer in Florida, which is dedicated to covering all things craft beer in the Sunshine State.

Walen is celebrating the release of the new book with two parties: one at Crystal River’s Copp Brewery on Thurs., April 3, from 5:30 to 8 p.m., and one at The Ale and the Witch in St. Petersburg on Thurs., April 10, from 6 to 8 p.m. You can buy a book at the parties for $19.95 or order it on Amazon and bring it with you. Gerard says he’ll sign whatever you’ve got. Check it out! And raise a pint for me.

Posted on March 26th, 2014 Comments Off on Former Herald-Tribune editor launches new book on Florida breweriesComments RSS Feed

Sarasota poet offers meditation on mourning a pet

For all those out there who love their dogs, Sarasota poet Arlene Klein recently republished a collection titled I Never Wanted to Say Goodbye: Gentle Words to Comfort Those Who Mourn the Loss of a Pet. Klein calls the book “a testament to the joy of living with pets and the sorrow of losing them.”

“The book is a collection of poems, written as a tribute to the dogs I loved and lost,” she writes. “Gentle words to comfort those who mourn the loss of a beloved pet. It touches the heart and is an inspiration to embrace every magical moment we share with our furry friends.”

Originally published in 1995, the book was nominated for a Dog Writers Association of America Maxwell award. Klein released a revised edition two years ago — she even got Betty White to write the foreword.

A portion of book sale proceeds goes to the Morris Animal Foundation for canine health studies.

Posted on August 5th, 2013 Comments (4)Comments RSS Feed

‘The best party of the season’ — put it on your calendar

I’m not the party-going type, so when I tell you I’m hitting the circuit, it means something. I’ve had a blast attending past Sarasota Magazine parties at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, and I expect this year’s, scheduled for Tuesday, April 23, to be no exception.

Dubbed Glamour in the Garden, the soirée is being promoted as the “best party of the season,” and I believe it. Past events have brought out a who’s-who of local bigwigs and celebrities, and you can’t top the setting: Selby at sunset.

Click on the image below for more details about the event, and to snag your tickets. Tell ’em M.C. sent you:

Posted on April 10th, 2013 Comments Off on ‘The best party of the season’ — put it on your calendarComments RSS Feed

Anne-Marie Slaughter headlines this year’s Renaissance Luncheon

Anne-Marie Slaughter

If you’re unaware of the myriad offerings of the Women’s Resource Center, a great opportunity to learn more is coming up quickly: On Tues., March 12, the Center hosts its biggest fundraising event of the year — the Renaissance Luncheon — at the Ritz-Carlton.

“For our donors, [the luncheon] lets them know the good programs and services their money is supporting,” Executive Director Janice Zarro explained to me last year. It’s “an opportunity to showcase our values and the impact we are having on our community.”

And that impact is significant.

Each year, nearly 13,000 women take advantage of the Center’s varied programs, which include everything from peer referral counseling, finance education and Excel spreadsheet training to lessons on starting and managing a business. On the personal side, they offer classes in navigating life as a widow, learning yoga, handling divorce, bouncing back from adversity and creating the life you desire – just to name a few.

The Renaissance Luncheon is a cornerstone in helping the Center continue to do what it does for the women of our community and has developed into a can’t-miss event — attracting close to 600 men and women who want to support the Center and draw insights from the outstanding keynote speakers.  The theme for this year’s luncheon is “Redefining Balance,” and the keynote speaker is Anne-Marie Slaughter, the author of the much-discussed and controversial 2012 Atlantic essay, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All.”

The event begins with boutique shopping at 10:30 a.m., followed at noon by lunch and Slaughter’s talk. It also includes drawings for prizes and a silent auction — some of the goodies include a five-course meal for eight, courtesy of Zest! of Sarasota catering.

A ticket for the luncheon will run you $95; you can purchase one online by clicking here.

Posted on February 26th, 2013 Comments Off on Anne-Marie Slaughter headlines this year’s Renaissance LuncheonComments RSS Feed

Path Financial Facebook blog dedicated to good economic news

We’re so inundated with economic news each day — good news, bad news, who’s up, who’s down — my tendency is to sometimes just ignore the whole shebang, but one of my clients is trying to help folks zero in on the important positive news out there.

Path Financial (whom I’m very proud to call a client) just launched a new Facebook page called the Better News Blog, where the company is plucking out and highlighting important positive stories from around the web. Here’s how Better News defines its mission:

The purpose of the Better News Blog is to share smart, well-sourced, and solidly-researched news articles and stories that stress the positive side of things. While we mostly focus on economic and market issues, we also provide links to general interest stories that we find inspiring or noteworthy.

News outfits, talking heads and high-drama pundits are dedicated to selling “bad” news. The Better News Blog wants to share with you good news you can use instead.

If you’re as in to sharing good news and focusing our energies in positive ways as much as I am (or at least as much as possible!), help me spread the word for my client’s new page by “liking” it on Facebook: Click here and “Like” — and read the positive news coming your way!

Posted on December 26th, 2012 Comments Off on Path Financial Facebook blog dedicated to good economic newsComments RSS Feed

TEDxSarasota: An excellent adventure

Theresa Rose

Here’s something to put on your calendar: TEDxSarasota, an independently organized version of the famous TED talks that generate online buzz every time a new one’s posted. The speakers for the December event are your usual lineup of usual talking heads until you get to one name some of you might know: Theresa Rose, a former “Sex in the Suburbs” columnist at Creative Loafing, who wrote intrepidly of her peeks into online porn and and the role bleach can play in bring a couple closer, who is now a full-time inspirational performer with a deep passion for hula-hooping. The Hoop Woman, as she is now sometimes billed, is still sharing her intrepid and infectious enthusiasm for life but she’s doing it with a hoola hoop. She’s bound to liven up the event.

On Dec. 12 (12/12/12, get it?), Theresa will be addressing the TEDx throngs and the title of her talk? “The Hoop Revolution: How Joyful Movement Will Transform the World.” She recently posted about the stress of preparing for the event over on her blog; here’s a snippet:

In two weeks, I am going on one of the most important dates of my life, and his name is TED.

On 12/12/12 (World Hoop Day!), I will be delivering a TEDTalk at TEDxSarasota called “The Hoop Revolution: How Joyful Movement Will Transform the World”. As I write this, I am deep in the throes of a five-alarm freak-out, doing my very level best to keep my @!%* together. Within 18 innocent inches of these clicking fingers lays (or is it lies?) my tattered TED script, complete with hoop choreography notes that aren’t even close to being incorporated. I’m terrified that while on my Date of All Dates, I will do one of more of the following: forget everything I am supposed to say, sound like a colossal moron, or experience the greatest fear of all hoopers — drop my hoop. It feels like the three nerve-wracking hours immediately before the biggest night of one’s life, still looking unbelievably scary in the bathroom mirror. We know that eventually we’ll create a miracle and be fabulous, but at that particular moment it seems like we’d all be lucky if we got out of the whole darned thing without wetting ourselves.

Click here to read the rest, and be sure to hit up TEDxSarasota.

Posted on November 30th, 2012 Comments (2)Comments RSS Feed

Regifting good

Kindness is the one gift that should always be regifted. It’s a gift no one would ever be offended to receive knowing it had first belonged to someone else. And it’s a gift that once made, the giver would undoubtedly only be pleased if you passed it along to someone else.

Spoke at Laurel Oak last week — full circle from my first local talk ever, also at L.O., (shown above) given to the Democratic Club of Sarasota in 2008.

I gave a talk on Friday — 90 or so people in the audience — and spoke at one point about the extraordinary generosity of my Reality Chick, Reality Online, and Sense and the City readers who, over the years, have contributed thousands and thousands of dollars during my annual fundraising drives for All Faiths Food Bank. I told the audience that my fee for the day’s talk was going straight to All Faiths, since every year I donate whatever I earn during the month of November from speaking and newspaper writing fees to All Faiths. (If you’d like to participate in this year’s drive or just learn more, click here.) I spoke about kindness and caring for everyone in our community — about the incredible need many are facing and I related times in my life, too, when I’d been in need and strangers had stepped up to help me.

After my talk, as I was preparing to leave, a woman approached me and pressed a check into my hands. “Your talk today moved me,” she said; and she asked me to make sure to send along her check, which she had just written, with mine when I send it in to All Faiths.

Such an unexpected kindness. Such an appreciated gesture. And her contribution will make a tangible difference to several someones in the upcoming weeks in our community. That’s the perfect regifting scenario: the group was kind enough to hire and pay me to speak; I was kind enough to earmark the fee for All Faiths; a stranger in the audience was kind enough to amplify those kindnesses with her own donation. Who know where this one small strand of kindness — begun when this group was kind enough to invite a column-less columnist to speak — will end?

Posted on November 18th, 2012 Comments Off on Regifting goodComments RSS Feed

All Faiths Food Bank 2012

As I do every year, I’m donating all income I receive for talks I give and any columns of mine that are published during the month of November straight to All Faiths Food Bank.

If you’d like to participate in the MC “Reality” All Faiths Food Bank fundraising drive this year — there are two easy ways to do so:

Online: Visit (just write “MC’s Reality drive” in the special instructions box).

Mail: Send a check, with the same notation — MC’s reality drive”, to All Faiths Food Bank, 8171 Blaikie Court, Sarasota, Florida 34240-8321.

If you’d like to learn more about past years’ drives and read stories about giving and receiving … just click here.

Posted on November 18th, 2012 Comment (1)Comments RSS Feed