Monthly Archives: August 2011

Irene communicating with us…..

Storm path

Photos by Christine Speno

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Sometimes pictures say more than words.  See the slideshow of photos I took last night to see just how beautiful  storms can be.  Beautiful, yes, but also treacherous.   Irene passed through our area last night, but fortunately stayed a safe distance out to sea. But the waves and surf were still a sight to behold and demonstrated the power and beauty of Mother Nature.

Our thoughts are with all of our neighbors to the north who are now preparing for Irene’s arrival as I write this post.  Having lived through the great hurricane season of 2004 that touched many of us along the Atlantic coast as well as inland areas of Central Florida and over to the Gulf, I really feel for  everyone from the Carolinas all the way up to New York.  It’s going to be a rough ride.

I remember experiencing Charlie in August 2004, just 6 days after my husband and I were married.  We cuddled up on the patio to listen to the storm.  BOOM!  A tree fell on a truck in our driveway and I don’t think we ever ran into the house so fast before or since.  Little did we realize that Charlie was just the beginning of what was to be a historical hurricane season.  He was soon followed by Frances, Ivan and Jean.  After Charlie we boarded up our house and lived with lots of darkness for weeks because the storms just kept coming.  The top layer of our wedding cake met its demise during this season.  After losing power three times, I finally gave up on trying to salvage it by running to the homes of friends who didn’t lose power and still had a freezer that worked!  Yes, 2004 was an interesting year to be sure.  Our cake was gone, but we were safe and so was our home.

And who of us can forget watching just a year later as New Orleans was devastated by Katrina.

We’ll never forget 2004.  It taught many of us down here in Florida to never take these storms lightly.  We send good thoughts to our neighbors to the north waiting for Irene. Always prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Learn about past storms here or visit the National Hurrican Center at NOAA

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2011 Good Housekeeping Fiction Contest deadline nears

write it


I ran across this contest on one of my favorite blogs, Sherry Zander’s  Writing4Effect.  This is a great opp for many of my writing buddies, but time is running out to enter.  The Good Housekeeping Short Story Fiction Contest deadline is September 1st!  Get your manuscript in.  Check out more about the content, including rules and potential prizes at the contest link on the Good Housekeeping website.

This is just one of many opportunities that are out there.  Check out the local writers’ associations where you live for more contests that may interest you.

Why participate in writing contests?  Aside from the potential monetary and publication benefits, you’ll develop your writing portfolio and it’s also a great exercise in tuning not only your writing skills, but also those of performing within guidelines.  Deadlines, word counts, focusing on a specific subject, accepting critique of your writing — all of these are important areas that will help you be a more polished professional.  So let’s talk about these ideas.

Deadlines – Sticking to deadlines is a valuable skill.  If you aspire to do freelance work, this is something you will have to learn to keep your clients!

Word Counts  – Many of us writers have a hard time saying what we need to say in a concise and “to the point” manner.  Again, this is an important skill.  And entering these contests that set guidelines for you to work within will help you improve your ability to adhere to word counts.  If you want to write for newspapers and/or magazines, you’ve got to pay attention to word counts.  And what’s more, you cannot let yourself get upset when parts of your writing gets cut.  It’s all part of the territory.  It’s okay to get upset, but get over it.  As someone who has been on the editor side of a publication, I understand the importance of balance copy with advertising space.  Now that I am more on the writer side, it helps me to keep things in perspective when I do find parts of my column getting cut.

Subject focus  –  staying on target with your writing is another challenge.  If you run off on  tangents when you write,  try practicing developing an outline for your writing project.  Sometimes if you “map it” you can see how ideas fit into each other and this will assure that you are staying on the path.

Criticism of Writing  –  Like I said above, it is important that you are willing to let your writing be edited and this includes accepting constructive criticism by others.  Think about joining a writing group that has a critique sector where you can practice both giving and accepting criticism.

Okay now you’re ready to start on those contest submissions.  It might be too late for you to get your manuscript ready for the 2011 Good Housekeeping Fiction Contest,  but there are plenty more opps out there (see the links below).   Talk to your fellow writers, look online and be sure to check with some of your favorite publications to explore some of their contests.

Check it out and happy writing and competing!!

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Filed under communication, success, Uncategorized, writing

Libraries — community assets

Library offers services online | StAugustine.com.

Flagler County Library, Palm Coast, Florida

What would we do without our libraries?

In these challenging economic times, our libraries do more than ever to serve us.  In our community of Palm Coast, Flagler County, Florida, online services make it even easier to explore all that our library has to offer.  The library today is much more than “just books.” Our library even offers a “one-stop” location for Passport Services.

Read more in this week’s column in The St. Augustine Record about what goes on at the Flagler County, Florida library.

How about your community library?  Do you take the time to discover what it can do for you?  And more importantly, when you use the library, do you  stop and say “thank you” to all the great folks that keep our libraries running and make them a safe and friendly place to relax, explore and learn?  Think about it!!

Read this week’s column by clicking here or on the link above.  Thanks for visiting, and please leave me a comment!!

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Filed under community, success, thank you, words, writing

Encouraging kids to learn!

School (1)

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Christine Speno: Graduate one, everyone launched | StAugustine.com

The new school year is fast approaching.  And with it come community efforts nationwide to make sure that all students start the year off right with everything they need to be successful in reaching their highest potential.  Good habits have to start at an early age.   We each can play a role in assuring the success of future generations by instilling the value of a good education in each young person that we come into contact with.  Whether that child is your own son or daughter, a niece, nephew, cousin, neighbor, or just the kid down the street, we can all help by participating in special programs and giving of our time, talent and resources.  Take the first step in your community to make a difference in the children that are our future.  .  Get involved in this community effort by participating in “back to school” events or local career fairs.  We all have a lot to offer.  All you have to do is take that first step.

Read how the Flagler County school district and its community partners are launching the new school year by clicking on the title above or  here.   What kind of special activities and events does your community organize to promote education?  Share it here by leaving a comment!

To our readers:  Read the July columns from  The St. Augustine Record Palm Coast Neighbors by clicking on the links below.  I’ve had a hard time staying in touch with all of you.  It was a busy July!!  Thanks for reading…..

July 2

July 16

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Filed under community, schools, Uncategorized