Monthly Archives: November 2006

BOOK BEAT 20 – Lynne Howard Frazer

BOOK BEAT   Naples Sun Times   November 29-December 5, 2006

by Philip K. Jason

        Lynne Howard Frazer enjoys the fact that her first merit badge as a Girl Scout was for writing. Eventually, writing became her profession. Raised in northern Virginia, Frazer earned her B.A. in American History from James Madison University. She later added an M. A. in Colonial American History from the College of William and Mary. During her graduate studies, she participated in a two-year Museum Management program jointly administered by the college and The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

            The historian married a Naples native and moved here in 1986, soon finding her academic passion nourished by the rich history of the area. In that same year, she began working as a freelance writer. Frazer combined her university training and her writerly interests into a varied career that included serving as Director of Communications at The Conservancy and as Executive Director of the Naples Historical Society. She wrote, and continues to write, freelance articles for local, regional, and national magazines and newspapers. Many of her freelance assignments come from local nonprofit organizations.

            Frazer has also been a freelance segment producer for WGCU-TV Public Media. She has worked on Arts Edition: Prime Time and Untold Stories, and she wrote and co-produced King Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs, a half-hour special that won a bronze “Telly” award. Frazer also did a stint as a business reporter for the Naples Daily News. 

             While working at the Naples Historical Society, she began to prepare her first book. How it happened is a story of being in the right place at the right time with the right credentials. Arcadia Publishing, a house that specializes in local and regional histories, was looking for someone to write a book about Naples. The publisher first approached Nina Heald Webber, whose collection of vintage Naples postcards was well-known, but Webber did not choose to get involved in researching and writing such a book, and there was Frazer – historian, writer, and Historical Society executive ready to step in. Naples was published late in 2004, making use of Webber’s collection as well as the holdings of the Naples Historical Society.

            This book has a long sweep, from the town’s beginnings in 1885 through 1960 when Hurricane Donna nearly destroyed it. Through the well-selected and sequenced photographs, the story is told both visually and verbally. Many of the images in this book were never previously published. Frazer’s Naples is a great way for new and long-time Neapolitan’s and visitors to gain an understanding of a marvelous place whose unique history is being obliterated by development. Proceeds from this book benefit the Naples Historical Society.

            More restricted in its temporal scope, but just as fascinating, is Frazer’s second book, Naples: 1940s to 1970s, published earlier this year (also by Arcadia). Frazier, who considers herself a social historian, pays attention to what is was like to live in the city during this period of its rapid development as a tourist destination and retirement mecca. She insists that this is an overlooked era, and she is pleased to have helped bring it to the attention of many readers. Once again, Frazer draws upon postcards from the Webber collection, but this time she also selects from the archives of the Naples Daily News (including photos from its earlier existence as the Collier County News). She is grateful to Gerry Johnson, the Naples Daily News Librarian, for generous assistance in accessing these materials.

            Frazer’s research for the two books led her to conclude that the popular view of Old Naples as “just a sleepy little fishing village” is a misconception. “It never was that,” Frazer observes. “It was founded as a resort, though fishing became an important factor during the off-season. During the winter season, many fishermen took jobs as commercial guides.” Frazer decries the loss of community and genuine caring, qualities that she discovered to be part of the fabric of Naples in its earlier decades. Both books are perfect for private guestrooms and hotel guestrooms as well. Readers can either devour them from cover to cover or absorb a few pages at a time.

            Frazer does not see a third Naples book in her immediate future. More likely is a narrative based on her “Atlantic Circle” voyage with her husband, Russell. The couple left Naples for an Atlantic crossing in 1999, visited more than twenty countries, and sailed back across the ocean in 2003, cruising the Caribbean islands from Tobago to the Bahamas. While in Europe, they wintered on the boat, a 44-foot Peterson named Blue Highway, in London, Barcelona, and Marmaris, Turkey.

            Come and meet Lynne Howard Frazer at her book signing for Naples: 1940s to 1970s at Palm Cottage on Saturday, December 2 from 1 – 3pm. Palm Cottage, the headquarters of the Naples Historical Society, is located at 137 12th Ave. S., one block east of the Naples Pier.


Philip K. Jason, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy.  A poet, critic, and free-lance writer with twenty books to his credit, this “Dr. Phil” chairs the annual Naples Writers’ Conference presented by the Naples Press Club. Send him your book news at

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BOOK BEAT 19 – Jack Kramer

BOOK  BEAT   Naples Sun Times   November 22-28, 2006

by Philip K. Jason

How does a guy raised in Chicago who sold glass and mirrors to building contactors become a world renowned expert on orchids and other flowering plants? As it happens, a gift from a friend and an unfilled niche in the book marketplace started Jack Kramer on his long journey. Now, after a half-century of growing orchids and almost as many years of writing about flowers, Kramer has added one more item to his garden of literary and photographic creativity. With 100 Orchids for Florida, from Pineapple Press, he has fashioned a simple and beautiful “how-to” book at an affordable price for the Florida gardener.

Kramer’s journey began many decades ago when a friend brought him an orchid as a gift. The fascinated recipient became interested in learning about and growing orchids, but a trip to a major Chicago bookstore turned up nothing. Before long, Kramer began to satisfy his curiosity through first hand experience and research. Growing Orchids at Your Windows, first published in 1963, set an irreversible process in motion. Jack Kramer just couldn’t stop writing about orchids, garden design, fruits and vegetables, terrariums, cacti, bromeliads, hanging plants – you name it.

By the mid-1970s, Kramer had relocated to the Napa area in Northern California. Here, he became a one-man book writing industry, often publishing five books in a year. He contracted with photographers, artists, and editors to help him prepare his books. But he always wrote from first-hand experience. Jack Kramer is as proud of being a “dirt gardener” as much as he is of being a prolific and successful author. 

By the mid-1980s, Kramer decided to slow down. In 1985, he purchased a place in Naples in 1985 with a friend, and in 1987 Kramer made the Napa to Naples move. He thought he was going to retire, but he thought wrong. A good many of his best-known books appeared after he became a Neapolitan. One of his first activities upon moving to Naples was organizing a lecture series on orchids for the Naples Beach Hotel. This series, for which Kramer gathered a team of orchid glitterati, ended up having an eight-year run.

Kramer’s celebrity as a gardening expert –  and his many, many books –  brought him appearances on the “Today Show,” “Good Morning America” and “Donohue,” as well as local television shows.

In order to learn about orchids and other flowers, Jack Kramer became a book collector. In the process of collecting books and prints, his love of flowers became supplemented by a love of botanic art, giving him a whole new subject to write about. He spent several years researching the major botanical illustrators of the nineteenth century before publishing his immensely successful Women of Flowers (1996), a book that celebrates Victorian women’s floral art and is based on Kramer’s own collection. (Male artists were not slouches in this field, but the narrower focus brought the book down to a manageable size).

Kramer organized a touring art exhibit based on his book. It was launched at the Chicago Botanic Garden in 1998 and over the years appeared in ten other major cities. Right now, Neapolitans can see what might be its last appearance at the Naples Botanical Garden. On December 1, Kramer will sign books from 1-2pm and present a lecture from 2-3pm on “Women of Flowers.” Reservations are required: members $15, nonmembers $25. Call 643-7275. This is also a great opportunity to purchase several of Kramer’s books, including the new 100 Orchids for Florida. By the way, even Mr. Kramer is not sure if this is book number 130, 131, or some higher number. He insists it is his last, but I hear that he’s made such a claim after the publication of several other books.

100 Orchids for Florida is a succinct guide to orchid-growing in this state. Kramer selected the orchids to be discussed because of their ease of cultivation and their suitability to the sub-tropical climate. The book begins with a very accessible treatment of orchid types, their structure, and how they grow. Next comes a detailed “how-to” section for the home gardener. Following this general information comes the heart of the book – Kramer’s commentary on the orchids themselves, categorized and alphabetically arranged. Additionally, the book contains a question and answer section, a glossary, a list of reliable suppliers, and quick reference chart that outlines the basic information. 117 striking color photos, most of them by Kramer, make the modest price of this book a great value. And that’s the idea. This is not a coffee table production, but a softbound handbook to be put to use. Jack Kramer would love to see all of us growing orchids.

Philip K. Jason, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy.  A poet, critic, and free-lance writer with twenty books to his credit, this “Dr. Phil” chairs the annual Naples Writers’ Conference presented by the Naples Press Club. Send him your book news at

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BOOK BEAT 18 – Trident Press

Trident Reference Publishing – from the Naples City Dock to the World

BOOK BEAT   Naples Sun Times   November 15-21, 2006

by Philip K. Jason

 Which Naples company keeps a warehouse facility in Jackson, Mississippi, distributes its products in sixty countries, and maintains a headquarters office overlooking the City Dock? The answer is Trident Reference Publishing, a low-profile but highly successful business located in Naples since 1988. According to Elaine Evans, co-founder and International Sales manager, the computer and internet revolution made it possible to locate a business like this anywhere, so why not in paradise? In this loveliest of places to live and work, Evans and her husband, C.E.O. Simon Bailey, have built a major enterprise.

So now this Naples-based publishing house is a secret no longer. But don’t send your manuscripts or even your proposals. This wide-ranging publisher seeks authors and projects on its own, and unsolicited materials are not considered. Trident’s specialty areas include historical military books, all sorts of reference volumes, classic (public domain) fiction, cookbooks, medical guides, and titles for children. Trident also publishes quality reprints of rare or long out-of-print titles.

In the world of reference books, Trident has made its way among those publishers using Webster’s name. Among its standard titles is The New International Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary. This and several related offerings are now published in the “International Encyclopedic Edition,” which means, I believe, that the entries are supplemented by illustrations, maps, charts and tables when appropriate. In addition, these volumes include encyclopedic supplements on critical research topics. Trident also publishes several superb encyclopedias and atlases. Built on the Funk and Wagnall database that was purchased many years ago, “New International Webster’s” dictionaries (and related language reference products) are available in various formats, from imposing two-volume boxed presentation gift sets to handy vest pocket reference 3-packs – complete with calculators and highlighter pens – for sending the kids off to school.

Trident’s military history catalogue features two multi-volume sets of illustrated histories. One is The Great War: The Illustrated History of the First World War in six volumes. The other, marketed through the website, is The Second World War: An Illustrated History of WWII. These sets are not narrative or interpretative histories, but rather well-edited compilations of photographs and news reports from around the world first gathered the United Kingdom as issues of the magazine The War Illustrated. As such, they are archives of contemporary record rather than works of scholarly synthesis. These sets were initially developed in England at the request of the Imperial War Museum.

Other titles in military history include a classic biography, Nelson; Campfire and Battlefield: An Illustrated History of the Great Civil War (a stunning reprint of an 1894 publication); Hitler: A Chilling Tale of Propaganda (reprint of 1934 original, showing how Hitler was portrayed to the German people); and Army & Navy Stores Limited, a reprint of a 1939 catalogue that reveals the material culture of Great Britain at the outset of WWII. 

Trident reprints classic British literature in both individual volumes and boxed sets. These Signature Classics come in standard and deluxe editions. The latter are elegantly bound in deluxe padded leatherette with gilding on all three sides – ready for formal libraries. Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities are examples of the many titles in the Signature Classics. The boxed sets, six soft cover books in a set, are grouped under such titles as “Romance Classics,” “Adventure Classics,” and “Classics of Mystery and Suspense.” Associated with this series is the “Library Shakespeare,” a reproduction of a major nineteenth-century illustrated edition featuring work by George Cruikshank and others. Like many other Trident projects, this one is aimed at book collectors – and perhaps interior decorators.

For children, Trident offers “Funny Faces” reusable sticker books as well as basic books on the alphabet, numbers, shapes, animals, telling time, and so forth. These and other related titles are also marketed via a website called along with many of Trident’s reference volumes, including the vest pocket editions. Point of sale floor displays containing various sets and subsets of these publications are available for bookstores. The same kinds of displays are available for calendars, Chef Express volumes, and other Trident publications.

Trident also markets hard cover, soft cover and spiral bound cookbooks in the “Ultimate Recipe Collection” “Chef Express,” and “Mix ‘n Match Menus” series, among others. Almost any kind of collection can be drawn from Trident’s 7,000-recipe (and growing) database. The New International Standard Medical & Health Encyclopedia (available in various editions and formats) and The Med Express Natural Healing Collection are Trident’s main entries in the medical reference area.

Now here is an odd circumstance. When you head down to your local Barnes and Noble, Borders, or Books-a-Million, you are not likely to find many Trident titles in stock. Trident does little business with these book chains. You are much more likely to find their classic British novels in Sam’s or Costco. You might discover Trident dictionaries in Walgreen’s. Browse a major catalogue-style retailer’s current issue, and you’ll be offered a Trident reference set as a gift if your purchase exceeds a certain amount. Go into Office Depot, and you could run into an elaborate Trident SchoolBookZone display with all kinds of age-appropriate educational products for Back-To-School. Trident cookbooks can be found in Big Lots stores. If this sounds like a limited marketplace, think again. Most of Trident’s titles have press runs of 25,000 copies!

Trident is a nimble operation. Working with subject experts, translators, editors, and printers around the world, it can turn out new products or customize existing ones very quickly. If another publisher, like Time, wants its name on a Dictionary or Desk Reference set, that is something Trident can do. Trident does is own distribution, passing on a cost savings to its customers (retailers) and to the ultimate retail price for consumers. Probably no publisher matches its quality-to-cost ratio. A hallmark of all of Trident’s illustrated books – from atlases to cookbooks – is the amazingly high quality color reproduction.

You can find out a bit about Trident Reference Publishing and the Trident Press line on your own by browsing or

Philip K. Jason, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy.  A poet, critic, and free-lance writer with twenty books to his credit, this “Dr. Phil” chairs the annual Naples Writers’ Conference presented by the Naples Press Club. Send him your book news at

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BOOK BEAT 17 – Leon Hesser

BOOK BEAT   Naples Sun Times   November 8-14, 2006

by Philip K. Jason

Born in rural Indiana in 1925, Leon F. Hesser had put in a lifetime of U. S. government service, most of it concerned with helping other nations escape poverty through modernizing their food production techniques, before moving to Naples in 2000 and turning author.

During World War II, a teenage Hesser served in the Philippines, then came home to Indiana to marry Florence Ellen Life and try his hand at being a toolmaker before returning to farming. At age thirty, determined to obtain the college education he had missed, he enrolled as a freshman at Purdue University. He eventually earned a Ph.D. from Purdue in agricultural economics and then joined the Foreign Service. By 1973, Hesser was director of the U.S. government’s worldwide programs to increase food production in developing countries. After his retirement, Hesser remained in the forefront of efforts to increase food production around the world. Years before, he had met Norman Borlaug, whose high-yield wheat seeds and production technology were the keys to the Green Revolution in Asia.

Leon F. Hesser’s first book, The Taming of the Wilderness: Indiana’s Transition from Indian Hunting Grounds to Hoosier Farmland, was published in 2002. Animating history by focusing on the lives of his pioneer family and their contemporaries, Hesser relates the harsh story of how settlers pushed Native Americans away from their ancestral lands and then reshaped the wilderness into a farming mecca. This study takes readers through the nineteenth-century Industrial Revolution as technology modernizes the agricultural economy.

In his autobiographical Nurture the Heart, Feed the World (2004), Hesser draws upon his own experience and that of his wife to make the point that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. He calls himself and his wife “two vagabonds,” and indeed their colorful stories take them to many fascinating places. Florence entered college even later than Leon. At age thirty-five, she was a freshman. Yet she earned her Ed.D. and served as a professor at George Washington University for twenty years. Through her teaching, the Hessers came to know President Carter and his family.

Soon after he finished the draft of his memoir, for which Norman Borlaug wrote the Foreword, Hesser conceived of writing a biography of Borlaug – who in 1970 had been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in alleviating world hunger. He showed Borlaug an outline and sample chapters, quickly winning his cooperation so that the book could be truly an “authorized biography.” The two men had three extended meetings during the course of the book’s eighteen-month composition. 

Norman and Leon

 Hesser believes that readers can take away three main points from the study of Borlaug’s life. The first is that one person can make a difference, even if that difference does not end up with the recognition of a Nobel Prize. Secondly, all readers, especially younger readers, need to become aware of the food situation around the world. The book provides that awareness and suggests the need for more young people to pursue careers as agricultural scientists. Finally, the study of Borlaug’s life presents a model for developing “high-yield people,” the kind of people that make possible such breakthroughs as high-yield wheat.

The Man Who Fed the World is Hesser’s tribute to Norman Borlaug, a child of the Iowa prairie who attended a one-room schoolhouse, flunked his first university entrance exam, and went on to become listed among the one hundred most influential persons of the twentieth century. Published by Durban House with a Foreword by Jimmy Carter, The Man Who Fed the World was launched in Washington, D. C. on September 6 at the Center for Global Development.

What’s next? Hesser is working on his memoir of service in the South Pacific, where he took part in the Battle of ZigZag Pass. Knowing this energetic eighty-one year old, I’m sure it will be out in no more than two years.

Hear Leon F. Hesser talk about his new book and get your signed copy at the Naples Barnes and Noble on November 11 at 2pm.

Philip K. Jason, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy.  A poet, critic, and free-lance writer with twenty books to his credit, this “Dr. Phil” chairs the annual Naples Writers’ Conference presented by the Naples Press Club. Send him your book news at

Note: Hesser’s prize-winning  Zig-Zag Pass is reviewed elsewhere on this site.

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BOOK BEAT 16 – Linda Bilodeau

BOOK BEAT   Naples Sun Times   November 1-7, 2006

by Philip K. Jason

Born in Connecticut and raised in Vermont, Linda Bilodeau earned a B.S. in Business Administration from Trinity College in Burlington, Vermont and an M.B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. She expected that she would be a lifelong New Englander until she met her husband, Dr. Richard Bilodeau. The couple moved to Indianapolis, where Linda taught at Indiana University and Marian College. After visiting Linda’s sister in Fort Myers, Linda and Richard fell in love with Southwest Florida. Some four years ago, they bought what was meant to be a vacation home in Bonita Springs, but then quickly decided to take the plunge and move here, putting their careers in suspension.

With the move, Linda began to realize the ambition she had since childhood of becoming an author. And not just an author of the kind of technical nonfiction she had written in connection with her career in hospital administration. Even before the move to Indiana, Linda had given this goal some attention. She had joined the League of Vermont Writers and developed a novel that interested an agent but did not find a publisher.

Five years ago, on a trip to France, she became fascinated with stories of women in the French Resistance and made that the topic of her first published novel, The Olive Branch- A Tale of Resistance, which came out in 2004. In November, 2005, Linda received an Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest 74th Annual Writing Competition for her short story, “Impossible.” It was one of 18,000 entries. The story is based on how she met her husband 15 years earlier. Her second novel, Stepping Through Seagrass has just been published by ArcheBooks Publishing. She has completed a third novel, The Wine Seekers, which is imagined as part of a three book series.

Bilodeau is currently in the home stretch on One Step Back, a sequel to Stepping Through Seagrass. Frustrated writers will be interested to discover that both of these novels, and a third yet to come, are derived from that single novel Bilodeau had written back in Vermont and temporarily abandoned. Just as fiction guru Jim Robison told her that some of her short stories failed because her ideas where too big for short stories, perhaps that early novel was in a similar way too big to be a single novel and had to be reconceived as three novels. Some of Linda’s recent writing projects have been “workshopped” by the small fiction-writing group that Robison leads (see “First Aid for Writers” in a recent issue of the Sun Times).

How does a recovering alcoholic doctor start over? That is the question raised in Linda Bilodeau’s new novel, Stepping Through Seagrass. Dr. Kathryn Anderson’s medical career is in ruins when her partners fire her after she is slapped with a multi-million dollar lawsuit. After a year’s search, Kate finally lands a job with the Public Health Service and moves to Immokalee, Florida where she ministers to Seminole Indians, migrant farm workers, and drug addicts. She clashes with Tommy Tiger, the medicine man for a clan of Seminoles clinging to their traditional ways, befriends Marine Parker, who heads the committee that runs the clinic, and helps her nurse, Alma Lawrence, find a long lost daughter. Haunted by dreams of a long repressed childhood incident, Kate works with a psychiatrist who helps her come to terms with her addiction and with courage and conviction, she reestablishes herself in a tropical setting.

When I asked Bilodeau about working with Robert Gelinas and ArcheBooks Publishing, she told me that Gelinas is very empathetic, a great supporter of authors who are trying bring their work to the public. She has also enjoyed working with editor Vickie DuBois, who writes her own fiction as Victoria Dark.

The local launch of Stepping Through Seagrass will be on Sunday November 12 at 1:00pm at the Fort Myers Barnes and Noble, 13751 S. Tamiami Trail.


Keep up with this fascinating writer by visiting

Philip K. Jason, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy.  A poet, critic, and free-lance writer with twenty books to his credit, this “Dr. Phil” chairs the annual Naples Writers’ Conference presented by the Naples Press Club. Send him your book news at

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