Obama, at Selma Memorial, Says, ‘We Know the March Is Not Yet Over’

March 8, 2015 | Uncategorized | Permalink

Obama:  “… this nation’s racial history still casts its long shadow upon us. We know the march is not yet over; we know the race is not yet won. We know reaching that blessed destination where we are judged by the content of our character requires admitting as much.”

Congressman, John Lewis, one of those who led the original Bloody Sunday march in 1960, walked hand in hand with Obama and also spoke.  Lewis has now published his second graphic novel on the civil rights fight, called March, Book II.

Following are a few paragraphs from the New York Times article.  Link to full article below:

The photo is also from the article, and gives credit to Doug Miller/New York Times:


SELMA, Ala. — As a new generation struggles over race and power in America, President Obama and a host of political figures from both parties came here on Saturday, to the site of one of the most searing days of the civil rights era, to reflect on how far the country has come and how far it still has to go.

Fifty years after peaceful protesters trying to cross a bridge were beaten by police officers with billy clubs, shocking the nation and leading to passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, the nation’s first African-American president led a bipartisan, biracial testimonial to the pioneers whose courage helped pave the way for his own election to the highest office of the land.


In an address at the scene of what became known as “Bloody Sunday,” Mr. Obama rejected the notion that race relations have not improved since then, despite the string of police shootings that have provoked demonstrations. “What happened in Ferguson may not be unique,” he said, “but it’s no longer endemic. It’s no longer sanctioned by law or custom, and before the civil rights movement, it most surely was.”

But the president also rejected the notion that racism has been defeated. “We don’t need the Ferguson report to know that’s not true,” he said. “We just need to open our eyes and our ears and our hearts to know that this nation’s racial history still casts its long shadow upon us. We know the march is not yet over; we know the race is not yet won. We know reaching that blessed destination where we are judged by the content of our character requires admitting as much.”


Michael Pyle presenting book at The University of Florida

March 6, 2015 | Uncategorized | Permalink

Michael Pyle will be presenting at a graduate level class at The University of Florida

Book Cover for WebMichael Pyle will be speaking at a Multicultural Counseling class to students earning their Masters, Specialist, or Doctoral Degrees in counseling and related fields. The adjunct professor, who is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice, Dr. Rosaria C. Upchurch, has included the reading of White Sugar, Brown Sugar in her class syllabus as a way of exposing her students to stories about racial relationships, struggles in people’s lives, including substance abuse, and the historical journey of segregation and other societal realities pertaining to diversity. In this class, the students are focusing on enhancing their awareness, knowledge and skills towards becoming multiculturally competent clinicians. Dr. Upchurch is asking the students to write a “book report” that addresses the students’ reflections on the book, and that emphasizes clinical themes encountered by the book’s characters. Michael will speak to the students about his story and his book, as it might relate to their development as future therapists and counselors.

Pyle Participating in Writer 2 Author Presentation in Palm Coast March 7, 2015

March 1, 2015 | Uncategorized | Permalink

Next Week. This is all about writing and publishing. Get tips and hints from a great number of knowledgeable individuals. Of course, we’ll all be promoting and selling our books too, but this is really an event to help new authors figure out what to do.

I’ll be on panels regarding publishing choices and legal issues.

Days Inn. Palm Coast, Florida from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.


Lincolnville – A Sketchbook Journal of St. Augustine’s Historic Neighborhood by Rosamond Parrish

March 1, 2015 | Uncategorized | Permalink

Lincolnville – A Sketchbook Journal of St. Augustine’s Historic Neighborhood is an amazing book written by Rosamond Parrish.  It’s called a sketchbook because, rather than using photographs to depict the neighborhood, she has used her tremendous artistic skills to draw what she wants to show.

I met Rosamond in February, 2015, when we both spoke to the Flagler County Branch of American Association of University Women.  Since both of our books deal with racial segregation and related issues as they occurred in the past in east Florida, our topics melded well together.

The concept behind this book is amazing. It blends the architectural history of this beautiful neighborhood with its rich social history, and shows how it exists now, in the present. Rosamond actually lived in the neighborhood for a number of years.  The stories of the people, the homes, the historical significance, and the present quiet streets and use of these unique homes all blend together to make this a delightful read.

I plan to go to St. Augustine soon and get first hand knowledge of what this book and this artwork describe.

We exchanged copies of our books.

Lincolnville by Rosamond Parrish


UTube Interview:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkIkwPWowDI


Photos from our talk:

IMG_3159 IMG_3100IMG_3101 IMG_3116 IMG_3130 IMG_3160 IMG_3166

American Association of University Women Flagler County Branch, Invited Me to Speak

March 1, 2015 | Uncategorized | Permalink

I had the great honor of being asked to speak on February 28, 2015 to the Flagler County Branch of the American Association of University Women.  I had even the greater honor of sharing the stage with Rosamond Parish, an amazing artist and author of a book called Lincolnville – A Sketchbook Journal, aIMG_3100bout a historic neighborhood in St. Augustine, Florida. I’ll write separately about her and her book.

Our books both deal with race relations in times past. In my book there is reference to Jude reading the newspaper and learning that Martin Luther King, Jr. is being held in jail in St. Augustine. Rosamond talked about homes he stayed in during that time of racial unrest in St. Augustine. She has a chapter about a man named Roosevelt who is still a fixture in St. Augustine. One of my two main characers is named Roosevelt.  She discussed issues like the fact that Blacks could not go to the beach in St. Augustine, just like is depicted in my book.


IMG_3111 (2) IMG_3116 IMG_3123 IMG_3124IMG_3132IMG_3133 IMG_3159

The audience was very attentive to both of us.  They listened, asked questions, and eagerly purchased our books.  It was  very uplifting event, for me and I believe for the audience.


These photographs were taken by the group’s official photographer and shared with me.

Norman Rockwell 1961 Advertising Portfolio of Daytona Beach

March 1, 2015 | Uncategorized | Permalink

I bought an interesting portfolio drawn by Norman Rockwell in 1961, which was commissioned as part of advertising for Daytona Beach. Even though the drawings are wholesome and completely unlike the kind of life depicted in “White Sugar, Brown Sugar,” the beginning of that novel is the same year, in the same place.

Some of the drawings are rather humorous — like the one that has an older many glancing at a pretty girl on the beach, while his wife is next to him, or the man who’s lying on the beach with a newspaper on his belly, showing a headline that says “Blizzard.”

Norman Rockwell Daytona

Norman Rockwell Daytona 3


Norman Rockwell Daytona 2 Norman Rockwell Daytona 1 Norman Rockwell Daytona 5 Norman Rockwell Daytona 6 Norman Rockwell Daytona 4



Inferno at Sea – Stories of Death and Survival Aboard the Morro Castle – by Gretchen F. Coyle and Deborah C. Whitcraft

February 24, 2015 | Uncategorized | Permalink

Prior to coming to the Havana International Book Fair, as I researched to figure out who was speaking when and where, I read about two American authors, whose book was being featured this year. So I went to their talk. The presentation prior to theirs was not finished on time, because one of the recently released members of the Cuban Five was talking. So, standing outside the door in the hot sun (the first time it was actually hot during this week) I got to learn all about the authors, their current book, how they got invited, and their past and future works. Both authors were delightful, interesting and engaging, and they gave me a signed copy of their book just because I write and had gone to listen to them. The book is called Inferno at Sea. It is a non-fiction account of a tragic sinking of a ship named Morro Castle, after El Morro, the fort where the majority of events of the Havana International Book Fair take place.  IMG_8441

I learned that the connection of the ship to Havana was that Havana was its weekly destination, and it many passengers and crew were Cuban citizens. I learned that it actually burned off the coast of New Jersey. Gretchen Coyle and Deborah Whitcraft are maritime historians, and Deborah has a museum named New Jersey Maritime Museum in Beach Haven, New Jersey, full of artifacts, writings, historic pieces and information about many historical matters. They came to Cuba to see the book fair and perform research previously, the same year I first attended, in 2011. While they had sought information about survivors and facts from U.S. records, what they finally received was insufficient and heavily redacted.

IMG_8439_2They found significantly more information about the ship and passengers from Cuban records, and even the day of the talk discovered a plethora of details and many more passenger names at the National Archives in Havana. One of the passengers, Franz de Beche, who was a famous Cuban swimmer, gave away several life jackets to young women, saying that he could swim, jumped into the water holding hands with one, but disappeared. It is believed he may have been sucked into the propellers. There is a sports arena named after him. He is considered a hero in Cuba.

The authors have interviewed a number of passengers, and family members of passengers who died. In some cases the authors have provided information to family members that they were unable to learn from other sources. IMG_8443_2

One passenger who is over a hundred years old, and lived in Daytona Beach, Florida, traveled north to meet the authors and be interviewed.

Now, with the new information they acquired on this trip, they may write a second volume of the book, with descriptions of more people.

The authors have the support of well-known Cuban historian, Ciro Biancho Ross, (the man in the gray shirt who presented a lengthy introduction). They introduced me to him, and I talked to him again the following day. i learned from several Cubans that he really is probably the most famous historian in Cuba, and has written a number of well-respected books.IMG_8436

You won’t believe the photographic evidence of the size of the berths and common areas in those days, and the real wooden furniture that looks like it’s in a hotel, not on a ship.

The book is full of clear and descriptive photographs, and devotes chapters to the ship, the trip, individual heroes, deceased passengers, surviving passengers, all along with some mystery and intrigue.

I read the whole book while sitting in the Jose Marti airport in Havana yesterday.IMG_8444

The Pain of the Watermelon Joke

November 30, 2014 | Uncategorized | Permalink

Jacqueline Woodson, author of National Book Award winner “Brown Girl Dreaming”, wrote an article in op-ed in the New York Times, published November 29, 2014, in which she says, “In a book I found at the library, a camp song about a watermelon vine was illustrated with caricatures of sleepy-looking black people sitting by trees, grinning and eating watermelon. Slowly, the hideousness of the stereotype began to sink in. In the eyes of those who told and repeated the jokes, we were shuffling, googly-eyed and lesser than.” Thanks to my friend, John Williamson of New York for posting this important piece on his page. Read it. And think about it.


Screenshot 2014-11-30 11.09.19

Drug Addiction – Different Now Than in the 60′s & 70′s?

November 24, 2014 | Uncategorized | Permalink

Readers are often shocked by the description of drug abuse and addiction in White Sugar, Brown Sugar.  It does not surprise me at all that this kind of activity is foreign to most. I wrote the book in order to relate things that I feel are important to people who haven’t experienced it directly.

Many families have someone who has suffered from drug abuse, addiction and alcoholism.  And they thank me for showing things that a non-addict or non-alcoholic would not realize.

I have met many young people in recent years that are suffering from exactly the same drugs and in exactly the same way that I described in W.S.B.S.  Just as the topic is foreign to people of my age, it is probably also foreign to most young people.  But the problem persists, in almost the same way as we experienced in the 60s and 70s.

The Economist has posted an article titled, “The Great American Relapse – An Old Sickness has Returned to Haunt a New Generation.” which covers this exact issue.


In the article, the writer distinguishes the kind of people that one would normally think of as a heroin addict, and shows that addiction can afflict anyone, even innocent-looking, people from various social classes. Regarding the title of the article, I would say, the “old sickness” is not really returning. It never left.

This is the beginning of the article from the Economist (and other publications):

“The Great American Relapse – An old sickness has returned to haunt a new generation

Nov 22nd 2014 | DENVER

PICTURE a heroin addict. “A bum sitting under a bridge with a needle in his arm, robbing houses to feed his addiction,” is what many people might imagine, believes Cynthia Scudo. That image may have been halfway accurate when heroin first ravaged America’s inner cities in the 1960s and 1970s. But Ms Scudo, a smartly dressed young grandmother from a middle-class Denver suburb, knows that these days it is not always like that. Until not so long ago, she was a heroin addict herself.

The face of heroin use in America has changed utterly. Forty or fifty years ago heroin addicts were overwhelmingly male, disproportionately black, and very young (the average age of first use was 16). Most came from poor inner-city neighbourhoods. These days, the average user looks more like Ms Scudo. More than half are women, and 90% are white. The drug has crept into the suburbs and the middle classes. And although users are still mainly young, the age of initiation has risen: most first-timers are in their mid-20s, according to a study led by Theodore Cicero of

The spread of heroin to a new market of relatively affluent, suburban whites has allowed the drug to make a comeback, after decades of decline. Over the past six years the number of annual users has almost doubled, from 370,000 in 2007 to 680,000 in 2013….”


White Sugar, Brown Sugar at Volusia County Library Event

November 24, 2014 | Uncategorized | Permalink

I was supposed to participate in an event featuring local writers and their books this week at the City Island – Daytona Beach Library, hosted by Deborah Shafer.  But I was unable to attend due to a health issue. Ebony Nichols, as Marketing Director for my publisher, Armstrong Media Group, attended in my absence, and reported that it was well attended.

Ronnie Hart, who, along with her other many accolades, is the Regional Director and Writing Group Leader for the Florida Writer’s Association, was the speaker for the event.

IMG_5974Photo is of Ebony and Veronica Hart.

 — at City island Library.