Monday, December 23, 2013

Melbourne 31 Miles, Beaches 33 Miles

Platts Supermarket - 1955; compliments of
The day's first brilliant sun rays blasted directly under the closed lids of my weary eyes. It took me seconds to realize why. We were heading dead east on old Highway 192 past Yeehaw Junction where a sign read Melbourne 31 Miles, Beaches 33 Miles. The sunlight's cutting light had finally edged its way under the two surfboards that had been shading my naked eyes. 

My neck was stiff and sore as hell. My flippin’ empty belly managed to grab the majority of my immediate, painful attention as I caught a lingering scent of siphoned gas from the neck of my shirt. Inherently, the sun's light dazed me. But it was the unique combination of gas vapors and Led Zeppelin's “Stairway to Heaven” slapping my nose and ears that directed my eyes to the front seat where Chris and Lester's heads moved in marvelous unison. Occasionally their heads thankfully blocked the sun's morning glare.   

Back then, Highway 192 was an empty two-lane highway winding through a part of Florida that hadn't changed much since the beginning of the last ice age. Bordered by the thick and lively Florida fauna and flora, the road's path was dominated by ancient live oaks dressed in resurrection ferns, Spanish moss and cypress trees punctuated in red orchids. 

This part of 192 was a lonely road slicing the St. John’s River south to north and inhabited only by cow pastures and Camp Holly. Compared to today's standards, very little stood between the west shore of the Indian River Lagoon and Yeehaw Junction, except for a solo traffic light stopping traffic at U.S. 1 and New Heaven in downtown Melbourne.

Much has changed since the mid-‘70s. Old Highway 192 has doubled its number of lanes, and there's much more traffic moving across it back and forth, and far more houses springing up along its course. But two things have not changed; those signs still read Melbourne 31 Miles, Beaches 33 Miles—and I still love surfing!

Rodney Smith, CEO of Little Pond Publishing;and author of Catching Made Easy and Enjoying Life on the Indian River Lagoon is a visionary and community leader who like to share his tales. Download these books digitally on Amazon, iTunes and Barnes and Noble by searching "Rodney Smith+Name of book"; or order the soft-covered books online!  See all of Rodney's upcoming events and exploits at

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Caught A Moment

The ocean reef at the beach in Satellite Beach, Florida
I finally caught a moment here on my iPad between preparing our fall garden and catching a few waves. These are the places, the ocean and land, where I get my inspiration. 

A hint of fall has arrived to parts of the Indian River Lagoon Coast. Yesterday at the Melbourne International Airport the high/low temperatures were 84/68 degrees, and we had no rain. In this part of the central IRL coast we're about six inches below normal.

A solid three- to four-foot northeast ground swell has provided good surf with long, glassy rides. Fast-moving tight schools of mullet and menhaden are attracting many of the best inshore species to our beaches. Snook, king mackerel, sharks, tarpon, barracuda and bluefish are catchable within a hundred yards of the shore.

It's impossible to fully predict the digital interactive wave before us. But after reading a Florida Catholic article on iPads in schools and then listening to an NPR report on the same subject, one thing is for sure; we may see its crest. The possibilities for today's authors are wide open in this new world of technology.

Rodney Smith, CEO of Little Pond Publishing;and author of Catching Made Easy and Enjoying Life on the Indian River Lagoon is a visionary and community leader who like to share his tales. Download these books digitally on Amazon, iTunes and Barnes and Noble by searching "Rodney Smith+Name of book"; or order the soft-covered books online!  See all of Rodney's upcoming events and exploits at

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Looking Back

Rodney and Chris standing in front of the old
four door 1969 Ford Fairlane!
Looking back, I’ve always thought it was a damaged heart, not a broken mind, that drove me to surfing, but it was literally Chris Summers at the wheel of his mom's dingy yellow, four-door 1969 Ford Fairlane. Absolutely nothing cool about the old heap stood out, except for the two surfboards sticking haphazardly out of its back seat passenger window.

I got my first taste of gasoline on my first full day back in my neighborhood after spending 30-plus, spirit-adjusting days in St. Petersburg, Florida, attending the Goodwill Inpatient Drug Rehab Center. My deal with Chris was simple; if I could produce the fuel needed to get the Fairlane back and forth to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, I could accompany him and his friend Lester surfing. I had no money, but Chris had a short piece of green garden hose, a flaky-red-metal, five-gallon gas can and the skills of an experienced siphoner. So, after spending a little time on job training, I was off siphoning. At the time, Chris was working on his Eagle Scout badge, and he seemed to know everything. If surfing and siphoning was good for him, it was going to be good for me.

During my predawn fluid assault, I only hit up the cars stowed under well-lit carports. The hot 40- to 60-watt bulbs made the job easier, and the carport kept them drier, making the task of writing their owners a thank you/IOU note on their hoods or trunks less difficult. The messages were Chris' idea. He said no one needed to carry a dark conscience with them. Period. Over time I learned much from his diplomatic madness.

The day was July 3, 1975, and it was the year of our high school graduation. Both Chris and Lester were heading to USF to secure their business and CPA degrees. I'd changed high school five times before taking a General Educational Development test during my glorious month of rehabilitation in St. Petersburg. It wasn't until 10 years later, though, while seeking further enlightenment, that I found out I had passed the test and earned my GED. And it wasn't until nearly 40 years later that I realized it wasn't the pot I'd been smoking that drove me to rehab but falling in love for the first time and getting my heart crushed—which all led to surfing.

Later that summer, I recall a conversation I had with my favorite aunt, Helen. We were sitting in a wooden swing talking about how I'd found my purpose in life. I told her surfing was the only thing I needed for life, and she told me it was good but one day that would change. I'm still waiting.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Lake Charles - Cajun Giant!

I-10 is not all concrete and asphalt!
Plenty of festive Cajun food, song and dance lubricated the conversations I had with the many interesting writers and communicators attending the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association's 49th annual conference in Lake Charles, Louisiana. One particularly interesting encounter was had with the luncheon's keynote speaker, Louisiana's Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne, and he was funny as all heck! Dardenne is both a great speaker and ambassador of Louisiana. I told the Lieutenant Governor he didn’t have a chance at being elected Governor because he actually has a sense of humor. Thankfully he laughed!

While it was a long road for Little Pond Publishing to get to Lake Charles—figuratively and literally—the last few months have been an extraordinary period of young growth for this emerging digital publishing house, and it’s gone by like the blink of an eye. A powerful, relatively small core group has been created as the foundation of Little Pond Publishing—an extremely insightful, skilled and passionate team, if I do say so myself.

While in Lake Charles, I rekindled a relationship with a 7th-generation Texas fishing guide, Captain Dr. Brandon Shuler. I'd first met this transformative conservation advocate, author and fishing guide at a Columbia Sportswear and Bass Pro Shops media event. These two outdoor industry corporate giants invited us writers to the Middle Keys to learn more about their work with partners like the Ocean Foundation and Seagrass Recovery. Check out the Ocean Foundation’s website to learn how they’re working together to restore healthy seagrass to heavily prop-scarred grass flats.

Dr. Shuler has recently earned his Ph.D. in literature and publishing from Texas Tech. As you may imagine, our conversation centered on digital publishing and what appears to be an extremely bright future for eBooks and publishers of digital works. We hope to be hearing more from Dr. Shuler on digital publishing in the near future.

During my trip I read Serpent's Curse. This eBook written by Mark Bradbury and published by Little Pond Publishing was an easy and entertaining read. The first of many, we hope, by Mr. Bradbury. To learn more about Mark Bradbury, check out his blog,

Contact me if you know of any writers’ groups who would like Little Pond Publishing to host a mini-workshop.

‘Til next time!

Rodney Smith, CEO of Little Pond Publishing;and author of Catching Made Easy and Enjoying Life on the Indian River Lagoon is a visionary and community leader who like to share his tales. Download these books digitally on Amazon, iTunes and Barnes and Noble by searching "Rodney Smith+Name of book"; or order the soft-covered books online!  See all of Rodney's upcoming events and exploits at

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Square One

Mark Sosin's interest in epublishing is growing!
After 20 years in the publishing industry it seems as though we are back to square one. Three years ago we knew very little about the emerging digital publishing world, but it is amazing what we have learned over a short period of time.

What we have discovered is we are all sharing similar paths when it comes to first understanding then embracing and utilizing the many valuable resources available to us as authors and artists in the digital publishing world. While we may all be following similar ePaths, most of us are at different eJunctures.

By attending both the Florida Outdoor Writers Association's and the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association's annual conferences recently, we've learned that everyone seems to be coming up to speed in regards to the ePublishing world. The process seems very similar to the transformation we experienced just a few years ago with the emergence of digital photography.

Through our conversations with many authors and artists, Little Pond Publishing has developed packages and services designed to assist the beginner, as well as the seasoned professional, from start to finish.

If you would like us to consult with you throughout the ePublishing process, we can; or if you just need some of the a la carte services we provide for authors and artists, we can do that, too.

While striving for excellence in customer service is our primary goal, our main focus is to build a long-lasting win/win relationship with you as we navigate the ePublishing process together.

Here at Little Pond Publishing we understand that by listening to your needs and desires we are able to design an ePublishing program that works best for your success.

Rodney Smith, CEO of Little Pond Publishing;and author of Catching Made Easy and Enjoying Life on the Indian River Lagoon is a visionary and community leader who like to share his tales. Download these books digitally on Amazon, iTunes and Barnes and Noble by searching "Rodney Smith+Name of book"; or order the soft-covered books online!  See all of Rodney's upcoming events and exploits at

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What's the Term?

It took only 17 years and a hundred days or so in the publishing industry to truly appreciate the value of thoroughly comprehending the language and terminology connected to what you spend your time doing.

Recently a friend, author Mark Dotson, was reviewing Road to Matapalo, a manuscript of mine. Forthright, he offered his opinion. "Seeing I'm not a surfer, I didn't understand the majority of the surfing lingo you used." It was Mark's way of saying, “You best check that out.”

As a publisher working with hundreds of writers, I've found understanding the lingo is absolutely essential to the success of ePublishing for all parties involved. A recent teleconference conversation between Little Pond Publishing team members and an author started with introductions and then turned toward an informal language and terminology review. This made our communication sharper, more focused and mutually beneficial.

Here are a few eBook and digital publishing terms for you.

ePublishing: short for electronic publishing

ePub or EPUB: short for electronic publication. These come in many formats, including eBooks, digital magazines, newsletters, etc.

Tablet reading device: the full name for a tablet. It's the same as any mobile, compact device (little computer), like the iPad/iPhone, Google Nexus, Kindle, etc.

Print on demand: this means books are not printed until ordered and can be printed one at a time.

MOBI: an eBook file format. Converting files is a major part of ePublishing.

Coming up to speed with the new world of eBooks and digital publishing lingo is going to be a critical part of success for today's writers and artists. Comprehending simple terms like hash tags, file formatting, fixed electronic layout and flowable electronic layout will help put you in the driver's seat. As an author or artist, don't find yourself incapacitated by a lack of ePublishing vocabulary. Success is only a few words away!

Rodney Smith, CEO of Little Pond Publishing;and author of Catching Made Easy and Enjoying Life on the Indian River Lagoon is a visionary and community leader who like to share his tales. Download these books digitally on Amazon, iTunes and Barnes and Noble by searching "Rodney Smith+Name of book"; or order the soft-covered books online!  See all of Rodney's upcoming events and exploits at

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Characteristics of a Book Reader

Have you ever noticed how reading habits vary from person to person? Some of us can only read one book at a time, while others have multiple titles sitting by their bedside, in their bathrooms, scattered about their house and office.

Romantic novels are the king for some, crime mysteries work for others, and a good many of us never investigate either of these genres. More than once a sage has suggested to me it is best to move away from your comfort zone and be a consumer of many topics. This can be difficult and ever so rewarding.

I'm a slow, steady reader. Prolific in the titles I consume, I’m more like the turtle than the hare, eventually reaching the finish line. Following the adage stop and smell the roses, I wallow in the words and connect to the author's message. Books with a message captivate me. I have no time for shallowness.

I like it when people share books with me, and people have shared many. There's something very special about someone knowing you’ll appreciate their connection to an author, book or subject. Two of my dearest friends, Rusty Chinnis and Mike Holliday, share books with me often. Rusty is famous for casually mentioning an author, and then voilĂ , two days later that author’s newest book is delivered to our doorstep.

While I won’t be sending any of you a new book anytime soon, I'd like to share a few of the books I've read during the past year or so. Mike Holliday leant me Dead Zero by Stephen Hunter. With its drones, death squads and strong military flavor, this one varied far from the literary path I usually follow. Regardless, I found it to be relative to today's world, provocative and entertaining. I rooted for Ray Cruz to the end.

John Englander's High Tide on Main Street deals directly with sea level rise and our ability to deal with it. Living with Florida's Atlantic Beaches: Coastal Hazards from Amelia Island to Key West by David Bush is a technically sharp, science-based look at Florida's east coast beaches and barrier islands. I suggest these books to anyone living on or near the beach or concerned with sea level rise.

Life and Death of the Salt Marsh by John and Mildred Teal was an equally sobering look at our world. Al Gore's newest interactive eBook, Our Choice, was by far the most creative publication I coddled in 2013. Strauss and Howe's The Fourth Turning is an interesting look at why we are where we are in America today. Books John Adams by David McCullough and The New Revelations: A Conversation with God by Neale Walsch were both uplifting and interesting. I reread two iconic books, one for pure pleasure - To Kill a Mocking Bird - and one for pure strategy - The Art of War.

Books are central to our ability to communicate our collective knowledge. They are always a good gift idea. For Christmas 2012, our favorite youngest son, Jacob, gave me a book I highly recommend everyone study, Zen Yoga.


Rodney Smith, CEO of Little Pond Publishing;and author of Catching Made Easy and Enjoying life on the Indian River Lagoon is a visionary and community leader who like to share his tales. Download these books digitally on Amazon, iTunes and Barnes and Noble by searching "Rodney Smith+Name of book"; or order the soft-covered books online!  See all of Rodney's upcoming events and exploits at

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Thumbnail Idea!

The Florida Dung Beetle- an idea?
It's funny how little things can generate great ideas.

In this case, it’s an exciting find. Our crew of hikers, seven of us, huddle close together, marveling over our discovery. Our captive, a rainbow scarab, is a brilliant iridescent blue-green beetle with a hoe-like brown horn projecting well above his wedged forehead.

Sandra Friend, and John Keatley lead our hike. Their shared passion for hiking is contagious. We're a group of Florida Outdoor Writers Association’s conference attendees who opted out of fishing on the great Kissimmee River basin. This year's conference host, the rustic Westgate River Ranch, is situated at Lake Kissimmee's south shore and connected to the KICCO Wildlife Management Area. We're hiking the Florida Trail south toward Ice Cream Slough.

Along the way I find him wallowing and lifting the earth under a pile of unidentifiable clay-like gray dung on a very narrow portion of the Florida Trail wedged between a divined grove of ancient palmettos. For me it's one of the more interesting beetles I've seen, and I've seen my good share. Twenty years ago while surfing and camping in Pavones, Costa Rica, my companions and I discovered a huge, somewhat similar-looking beetle in brush near our campsite. It had a marvelous glitzy exoskeleton, and its body nearly filled my hand. After we caught and released the critter, we watched in amazement as it opened its wings and loudly buzzed away. It was twice the size of some of the birds we were seeing around us.

This Florida dung beetle is about the size of my thumbnail. Noticeably happy when I gently place him down he disappears back under the scat, quickly escaping the tip of the palm fond branch I use to achieve its poopy catch and release.

While this critter encounter could lead me down a path lined in crappy thoughts, it actually paves a pathway of inspiring possibilities. I marvel at how such a diminutive beetle can generate the strength to lift a hundred times its weight in dung.

Later that day back at River Ranch, the FOWA conference's annual Al Hubbard Corporate and Tourism Showcase is buzzing with writers and authors. Many of them visit our LPP display and fill out our LPP writer's questionnaire. The data we receive from the questionnaire clearly shows the vast majority of writers understand and appreciate the value of publishing an eBook and have the desire to publish an eBook.

Rodney Smith, CEO of Little Pond Publishing;and author of Catching Made Easy and Enjoying life on the Indian River Lagoon is a visionary and community leader who like to share his tales. Download these books digitally on Amazon, iTunes and Barnes and Noble by searching "Rodney Smith+Name of book"; or order the soft-covered books online!  See all of Rodney's upcoming events and exploits at

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Everyone Loves a Contest

Everyone loves a contest. As Americans, the thrill of winning is in our blood! The vast majority of us take pleasure it competing or watching great sports. Often competition helps deliver the energy needed to lift us up to the next level. It has been this way and will remain this way for eons.

For this reason, Little Pond Publishing (LPP) is sponsoring two one-of-a-kind contests for both sage and novice writers. Autumn Tales is for the writers of murder, mystery or romance novels; and Tattle Tales is for the writers of children's books. For more information on these excellent opportunities go to

As a digital publishing house, we believe it is critical for LPP to lead the way in communicating with writers in new and creative ways. These contests have be designed for this very reason. Today writers have more creative and technical tools within their reach than ever before, and it's LPP's goal to help them utilize these assets.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Is that thunder I hear?

Hell's flames coming to Vegas

Is that thunder I hear?

It's 8:40 A.M., and raining lobsters here on Florida's Space Coast! No really! The sight of the foam cooler, heavy with fresh lobsters sitting on our dining room floor, shook me into reality.

The two-day lobster mini-sports season (July 24/25) had cruised past its mid-point just as a line of heavy downpours and gusty northwest winds brush the coastline. Despite the necessity of dodging tropical showers, many divers and snorkelers hunting and gathering spiny lobsters experienced high visibility and success up and down Florida's East coast, despite nasty algae blooms in Biscayne Bay and the Indian River Lagoon.

Being away for the past two weeks, I journeyed from Satellite Beach, Florida, to Las Vegas, Nevada, then to the Florida Keys. For me reading and traveling go hand-in-hand, and lately I've been carrying David McCullough's great John Adams biography through airports and subways. This darn paperback must weight four or five pounds!

I laugh out loud at times as tiny glimpses of my subliminal transformation into the eBook world surfaces. My dear friend, John Detmer, talks of how paperback books were forbidden from his parents' library in their home nestled along Chicago's south shore of Lake Michigan in Winnetka, Illnois. Yes, there was a time when hard cover books were king.

In a world where people travel light, fast and agile, the thought of continuing the old ways is moot. Change comes rapidly to the tech savvy folks. We now live in a world were libraries, thousands of titles, are carried around on a tablet weighting less than a pound. Is that thunder I hear?

Until next time . . . Fodder Away to my Facebook!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Fluid Tool of Alteration

In early summer for the past decade or more my good friend, Mark Nichols, reunites a bunch of fishing captains and outdoor photojournalist friends. We gather at River Palm Cottages in Jensen Beach for the D.O.A. Lures¹ Outdoor Writers Bash (the D.O.A. has become a sponsor of Florida's Eco Voice Digest and if you are interested check it out at

The gathering is a joyous occasion full of great food, spirits and many new and old stories. We also do a load of fishing along the shores of North America's greatest and most diverse estuaries, the Indian River Lagoon.

Mike Connor with a seatrout!
For me fishing has been a fluid tool of alteration. Just add water and most of us become different creatures more in tune with our surroundings and connected to our natural spirit. As a fishing guide for nearly twenty years, I would usually focus my thoughts on the security and happiness of my clients while on the water, but today things are a little different. Now fishing provides empty space within my mind, where I can fill it with thoughts of simple things in life. Things like the great southern white butterflies invading our backyards this time of year or how well the shrimping has been on the lagoon the past couple of months, but of course, slowly, steadily more pressing thoughts begin to percolate.

As I dive deep into the advancing world of digital publishing, I feel a bit melancholy hearing my respected associates resistant to change. Perhaps my sadness is more about the distance created between us by my chosen path and in my mind¹s eye I am watching them fade into history carrying with them rich, colorful stories that might have been shared with a new audience.

Until next time ... Fodder Away!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Bells and Whistles

"We probably could have saved ourselves, but we were too damn lazy to try very hard . . . and too damn cheap," (Kurt Vonnegut, 1993).

Opening his book by quoting Kurt Vonnegut's bleak assessment of the fate of humans dealing with rapid climate change was a bold and powerful kick off to a bold and powerful ebook addressing a mind-boggling subject. Reading Al Gore's Our Choice on my iPad has been one brain blowing experience. Kudos Al, you and your team have published one hell of an impressive ebook (must have cost you a bundle).

Please, no matter how you feel about the man politically, don't fool yourselves. We best kneel down and pray; first, that his science is flawed; and second, that the Lord please give us the willpower to correct our flawed ways. Myself, I've eaten the magic mushroom, and believe the science. It looks like there's a storm coming and it's going to be a hot one, if you know what I mean. Pardon me, I digress.

This is one impressive ebook loaded with all the bells and whistles. If only for the technical side, it is a digital publishing masterpiece. Al's ebook comes with striking options an animated global map, touch activated embedded videos and moving graphics. I particularity enjoy the index slide bar that instantly delivers any chapter or page to my finger tips.

I purchased Our Choice on a suggestion from our Little Pond Publishing's Creative and Marketing Director, Naomi Mayhue. I can't recall ever being more satisfied with reading anything on my iPad. Reading Gore's ebook has ignited a spark of desire in me to publish multimedia ebooks. This masterpiece is not only a must read for its vast information and insight, but also reset the bar in the digital publishing world. As a storyteller, I can tell you that seeing, reading and using this ebook shows how the world has changed in such astonishing positive ways for all of us.

From here on out, the toolbox of all digital storytellers will include words, images, sounds, videos, graphics, maps and other tools not yet established.

The future is here!

Until next time ... Fodder Away!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Fodder Away (A combination of interesting, informative musings)

The inevitable finally happen. I gave my Moleskine journal a digital prompt. I tapped the page, twice! Immediately my eyes scanned the room to see if anyone was watching. Thankfully, not!

Muscle memory is one thing, but come on, what was I expecting? Maybe I'm less crazy than I think? Maybe I'm getting ready for the future? Imagine a journal or notepad where you can write or type. Heck, we know the application is out there—somewhere.

As much as I obsess at typing away on my iPad at times, I prefer jotting down notes and such things (fodder) in my pocket -size, handy black notebook. Noteworthy thoughts, some masterpieces, others duds, find their way into my daily scribble. Over time I've found that it's these types of ideas, the ones often collected in haste that gain traction, leading to better, lasting clarity. 

It is without regrets or doubts that we enter the incredible renaissance era we face. This will be a period of time that will be judged for being fascinatingly full of unimaginable opportunities for artist, storytellers and purveyors of knowledge. All of us are now confronted by an new age of digital publishing, an exciting and creative period of time that will help storytellers and artist read their works.

Yes, we're facing an 'aha' moment in the world of publishing and communications. It will surly change our worlds.

Until nextime . . . Fodder Away!