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Curl up with local books

There are authors among us who are turning out some pretty readable - and many times hilarious - literary works.

By SHERRI DAY, RICK GERSHMAN, AMY SCHERZER, ElISABETH DYER, MEAGHAN FORBES and SUSAN THURSTON
Published December 9, 2005


The city is crawling with creative types, among them authors. They may not be as prominent as Tampa's own Tim Dorsey, but their books, from novels to mysteries to travelogues, help contribute to the city's literary side.

City Times put together a sampling of books published by South Tampa area authors this year. Most are self-published and available online. A few are available at local bookstores.

Read them for the local references or purely for pleasure. They also make great gifts.

The North Beach Diet: Add Belly and Hip Fat Instantly with Batter-Fried Twinkies & More... by Kim Bailey

Name a fad diet and Kim Bailey has likely tried it and failed. His new book turns the tables on his own struggles and pokes fun at America's obsession with weight loss.

Bailey's The North Beach Diet: Add Belly and Hip Fat Instantly with Batter-Fried Twinkies & More... parodies weight-loss books and tells readers how to bulk up.

Bailey dedicates the humor book to the loves of his life, Sara Lee and Little Debbie. He promises to help readers add girth quickly.

"I gained 145 pounds in just six months, became emotionally insulated and allowed food to control every aspect of my life," Bailey writes. "Now you can too."

The book, published by Rutledge Hill Press, is Bailey's first. He makes his living as a consultant and motivational speaker, opining about the business world and overcoming obstacles. Bailey, who lives in Palma Ceia Park, knows the topics well. Through his own ups and downs, food has been a constant companion.

Bailey, who weighs 300 pounds, got the idea for The North Beach Diet while traveling through the Boston metropolitan area and gorging on fried clams. Friends joked that he was creating his own special fat-adding diet. Soon, a book idea was born.

"Losing weight is a very big struggle, but one I can also laugh at," Bailey said recently in an interview. The book "is just to say "okay, we take it too seriously."'

Bailey, 51, wrote North Beach in just three weeks. Rutledge Hill, a Tennessee publisher, immediately snapped it up.

"It was just a nice comedy relief in the midst of all that preachy, take the pounds off kind of publishing," said Laura Troup, marketing director at Rutledge Hill Press, which published 25,000 copies of the book, released in January. "It's actually probably evil, you could probably gain 10 pounds just by cracking the book."

In addition to chapters that advance the value of virtual exercise, Bailey packed the book with 60 high- calorie recipes made with real butter, refined sugar, white flour and chocolate.

Ten recipes feature dishes that only the gustatorily brave should try. (Think of the potato chip and Miracle Whip sandwich.) But the bulk of the dishes are real, culled from the women in Bailey's family.

Desserts are the author's favorite. He includes recipes for standards such as lemon meringue pie, brownies and carrot cake. He also tosses in a few creative extras, including batter-fried Twinkies, beer-battered deep-fried Snickers and Wendy's Chocolate Frosty Smash, a combination of Oreos, Nutter Butter cookies, ice cream and whipped cream.

Believe it or not, the author is actually trying to lose weight. He's hired a personal trainer and watches what he eats. He hopes to drop 110 pounds. If he's successful, he's already got the title for his next diet tome: The North Beach Diet Gone South.

The book is available at Inkwood books or www.amazon.com

- SHERRI DAY

* * *

Parvenue Throws a Party by Wendy Boucher

A conversation with Beach Park's Wendy Boucher sends you straight for the closest dictionary.

Her first novel, the South Tampa social satire Parvenue Throws a Party, hit shelves in August. Boucher published it herself under her own imprint, Hoyden Press.

All of which begs the questions:

What's a parvenue?

What's a hoyden?

What's a party?

Okay, so we have the last one down. But here's what Webster's says about the first two:

A parvenue is "someone who has risen economically or socially but lacks the social skills appropriate for this new position." A "hoyden" is a boisterous young woman.

It all makes sense for Parvenue, in which Boucher, 42, explores the absurdity of social climbing and its comedic results.

Boucher's antiheroic protagonist, Janice Darcy, is the parvenue in question.

"You care for her in the end, but she's not super-endearing," Boucher said. "Someone else said, "she walks the line of likeability."'

Desperate to fit in as a South Tampa socialite, Darcy starts a secret consulting service disguised as a Bible study group.

"Never mind the dubious nature of her work," Boucher explained, "but she's also terribly bad at it."

Boucher (pronounced Boo-SHAY) lived in Carrollwood before moving to South Tampa with her husband, Tate Garrett, and their daughter Sophie Garrett, a first-grader.

(Also a travel writer, Boucher has written a freelance piece on Las Vegas for the St. Petersburg Times. It has not been published yet.)

Originally from Oregon, Boucher moved to Tampa 10 years ago from Washington, D.C., where she was a lawyer: "I mostly wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, and writing gives me something to engage my brain."

Her Parvenue manuscript earned interest from a few agents and publishers, but she eventually decided to publish it herself.

She designed the cover, started Hoyden Press and worked out a deal with a sizeable distributor to get it into the major chains.

"I've been really happy with how the book turned out," said Boucher, now working on the sequel Parvenue Gets a Passport. "I did everything but put a printing press in my back yard."

It's selling pretty well, Boucher said, especially in South Tampa. The subject matter would seem to have an audience here.

"I love chick lit, but this skews a little older," Boucher said. "I call it chick lit's snarky older sister."

The book is available at area bookstores, including Inkwood Books, and at www.amazon.com

- RICK GERSHMAN

* * *

My Darling Margy: The World War II Diaries and Letters of Surgeon Charles Francis Chunn, MD edited by Celeste Chunn Colcord

As her 90th birthday approached, Margy Chunn Cochran rushed to meet her publisher's deadlines. She wanted every guest at her Oct. 8 birthday party to get a copy of My Darling Margy: The World War II Diaries and Letters of Surgeon Charles Francis Chunn, MD.

Cochran, who lives in the Canterbury Towers, compiled hundreds of V-Mails and entries from three diaries sent from her late husband, Dr. Charles Francis Chunn, during 31 months with the U.S. Army Medical Corps. V-Mails were soldiers' letters, censored, photographed on microfilm and sent stateside, where they were enlarged, printed and mailed.

Dr. Chunn's words, written from foxholes and battlefronts in northern Africa and Europe, describing operating day and night, often by flashlight "in muddy, bloody clothing" as shells riddled the hospital tent.

Other letters read like travelogues, when the surgeon-soldier took leave in Paris, Rome and Casablanca. Always, he signed off: "I adore and love you, Darling, Frank."

The couple married soon after meeting at Duke University, where he was a surgical intern and she was a student nurse. They opened an office on Franklin Street in October 1941, but the attack on Pearl Harbor changed everything.

Dr. Chunn enlisted the next day.

Commissioned a captain, Dr. Chunn closed his practice and joined the 2nd Auxiliary Surgical Group. His wife gave up their apartment and moved in with her parents. She completed her bachelor's degree at Florida State College for Women, now Florida State University, in August 1944. She switched from nursing to social studies and taught a year at Wilson Junior High. As the letters arrived, they became part of her current event discussions in her geography and American history classes.

In addition to the heroic chronology, Cochran included family memories and a postscript. Dr. Chunn died age 56 of a heart attack in 1970. She later married Paul Cochran, who died in 1996.

Edited by Cochran's daughter, Celeste Chunn Colcord, the book is available at www.mydarlingmargy.com Proceeds will be donated to the Moffitt Cancer Center Foundation in memory of Dr. Chunn, who started the first tumor clinic in Tampa.

- AMY SCHERZER

* * *

The Missing Page by Patty G. Henderson

Private detective Brenda Strange has an office in Hyde Park, drives home on Bayshore Boulevard, frequents the John F. Germany Public Library and is known to dine on blackened grouper.

She's the star of Patty G. Henderson's three mysteries, the latest, The Missing Page, published this year by Bella Books.

The series is set in Tampa with local landmarks and flavors.

A setting Henderson knows well.

"My whole family came from Key West with the cigar industry," said Henderson, 54. Her parents and her mother's parents settled in a two-story home on 12th Avenue in Ybor City, where Patty and her younger sister grew up. Neighbors and family would gather in the kitchen where her grandmother was always cooking.

"Everybody sat around the huge table and stories would be told. Of course, there was Cuban coffee," Henderson said. "Sometimes my grandmother, who could have been a little bit psychic, would gather the kids and tell us spooky stories."

There was the one about a woman who died of grief waiting for her wayward husband to return. Others were tales of ghosts who lived in their house.

"Of course, I was captivated," said Henderson, who also loved comic books, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft and the gothic soap opera Dark Shadows.

Henderson, who lives in Virginia Park, writes during breaks from her job at Bryn-Alan Photography in Hyde Park North, where she touches up prints.

Her first book, Blood Scene, was a lesbian vampire romantic thriller. But she considers herself a horror supernatural writer.

"My Brenda Strange stories are basically at heart a mystery but there's always a spooky twist," she said.

Strange had been a lawyer in New Jersey when an unhappy client went berserk and nearly killed her. She moved to Tampa with her lover, Tina, and became a private investigator. In The Missing Page, Brenda takes a case involving a manuscript detailing the secret to eternal life. But then her client and several people close to him lose their heads - literally.

And Strange learns a secret about herself.

"It's a pivotal turning point in Brenda's life," Henderson said. "Be prepared for that."

The Brenda Strange series The Burning of Her Sin, Tangled and Dark and The Missing Page are available at www.amazon.com

- ElISABETH DYER

Do You Know What You Don't Know... About Women's Health Issues? by Cindy Krueger

"When patients get off their knees, physicians will come down from their pedestals."

Perhaps that thought from the introduction of Cindy Krueger's new book is what prompted her to write, Do You Know What You Don't Know... About Women's Health Issues?

The self-help book gives women the lowdown on current medical treatments used by physicians and presents natural alternatives to women's health care.

"Allopathic (conventional) medicine is a dinosaur, so we need to get fully disclosed information to the consumer and that's in the book," said Krueger, who holds a master's degree in public health.

After more than 25 years in the health care business, Krueger, who lives in Beach Park and owns a health information research and education company based in Tampa, thought she should respond to the growing needs for alternatives to treating women's health.

Her book touches on breast cancer prevention, osteoporosis, heart disease, healthy family planning and hormone replacement therapy.

Each chapter details what doctors often recommend, the outcome of such treatment and perhaps a healthier alternative with natural products.

While discussing each condition, Krueger includes the effects different foods, such as fats, soy and carbohydrates, have on the body.

"We don't have a health care system in the country, we have a sick care system," said Krueger, noting the difference between treating a symptom versus treating the problem.

Her tips for osteoporosis prevention and good bone health hit home with a personal story of her 74-year-old mother. Instead of following her medical doctor's advice, Krueger put her mother on a program that combined diet, exercise, minerals and vitamins. After 18 months, her mother's bone density tests improved and she was no longer classified with osteoporosis.

Of course, for those without illness or disease, the book includes tips for a healthier life. Krueger discusses harmful agents found in household products, such as pesticides and cleaners, and the use of plastics in the microwave, nail polish and dry cleaning chemicals.

Krueger draws on her personal experiences, as well as her clients' experiences and research, for the book, published this year by BC Publishing.

"These were the topics of information that were continually written about in the press, but never with the full disclosure," she said. "I thought, I have to do something about this."

To buy the book, go to www.preservion.com or call 1-800-879-6504.

- MEAGHAN FORBES

* * *

Pusillanimous Pirate Packwood Pillages and Plunders Peninsula Preserve by John Mueller and Ken Walters

The name doesn't exactly roll off the tongue: Pusillanimous Pirate Packwood Pillages and Plunders Peninsula Preserve. And it won't likely appear on any bestseller list.

But the book certainly would muster a laugh for anyone who knows South Tampa party king-turned-daddy Ken Walters.

The book titled with seven P's is a collection of sailing stories gathered over a decade under the "distinguished cloak of yacht racing." Many center on the annual Clearwater to Key West Yacht Race aboard Walters' 33-foot Morgan Out Island sloop named Bliss.

Walters wrote the 147-page paperback with sailing buddy John Mueller. It includes a myriad of Mueller's log entries, related newspaper articles, letters and photos. Pusillanimous, a longwinded way of saying cowardly, appears in a few chapters, usually in references to outsiders not so accustomed to the sailors' raucous ways.

Language too racy for newspapers pervades. Mueller's mother would not be impressed by the tales, Walters said. Walters' wife, Sarah, certainly wasn't.

"They can be a little saucy, I'm afraid," said Walters, whose voice is compared to Gilligan Island's Thurston Howell III in the book. "I really didn't edit anything."

Walters, 40, and Mueller, 47, put together the book at the urging of friends, who enjoyed reading Mueller's post-race reports. After several stops and starts, friends gathered for the book signing Nov. 17 at Walters' 38-foot Chris Craft Commander named SAL, docked at the Tampa Yacht & Country Club.

Published by Graphics Communications Brokerage Corp., the book has several South Tampa references, including the Davis Island Yacht Club, where Walters started sailing with friends in the Thursday night races in the 1980s.

One log entry details a multiple choice test for potential crew members. Question No. 1: If a collision with another boat is imminent, a wise maneuver would be? Possible answer: Quickly postdate a check ... and promptly mail your tardy yacht insurance premium.

Central to the story are letters Walters wrote to celebrity guests invited to take part in the races. Roxanne Pulitzer and Helen Gurley Brown of Cosmopolitan fame politely declined, while Hunter S. Thompson was probably "too far gone on mushrooms to reply." The invite to former Oregon Sen. Bob Packwood, who resigned amid a sex scandal in 1995, never went out for reasons that become apparent at the book's end.

Walters, who owns a printing and promotions business, says he would be open to writing another book if this succeeds. Although cooled from the sordid sailing scene due to marriage and fatherhood, he has plenty of sequel fodder.

Pusillanimous never mentions his fondness for drinking from women's shoes.

To obtain a copy, call Ken Walters at (813) 251-0500.

- SUSAN THURSTON