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