Tag Archives: Charles Sobczak

The future of climate change drives environmental thriller

The Year of the Bad Decision, by Charles Sobczak. Indigo Press.  352 pages. $16.95.

The premise of this frightening novel is that man’s activities do impact climate change – particularly global warming – on an enormous scale. Over time, the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will raise the earth’s temperature beyond a level that will support human and most other life forms. CO2 will also deaden the seas. Tracing the accelerating changes out thirty years from today, Mr. Sobczak imagines the stages leading to inevitable doom and the bright idea that is meant to reverse the deadly process.  frontcoverBD.indd

Scientist Warren Randolf has carefully studied the plan to save the planet. It involves dotting the atmosphere with tiny mirrors to reflect light (and thus heat) back toward its source, cooling the earth to an inhabitable level. Meanwhile, CO2 scrubbers will cleanse the atmosphere. These mirrors are designed to self-destruct before the cooling goes too far. Warren discovers that there is a flaw in the system’s design: the self-destruction of the mirrors will not occur.

It’s Robert Frost’s “Fire and Ice” revisited.

Man’s recklessness since the dawn of the industrial revolution has created one disaster; his proud determination to correct the situation has created another. No one heeds Warren’s warning. They can’t believe his maverick viewpoint is correct.

Sanibel author Charles Sobczak mixes narrative, dialogue, and action to help readers understand a future of severe crop failures that can result either from the increase in CO2 or from the shrunken growing seasons resulting from blocking the sun’s rays. Worldwide hunger is the consequence of either petroleum industry greed or Green regulation miscalculation. Chaos and depravity seem assured.


Acting on his understanding of what’s coming, Warren Randolph moves from Chicago to Bozeman, Montana and sets up a survivalist compound on the outskirts of the town. He employs a “runner” to bring invitations to a handful of friends and accumulates a large hoard of foodstuffs and other supplies to last through the several years until the normal seasonal cycles are expected to return.

The day to day, season to season, and year to year lives of those in the Bozeman compound and those in other situations (government scientists and officials in particular)are given credible detail. The greatest capital is food, and the greatest future capital is seed. Though seeds stored by Warren are stolen when his compound’s larder is raided, there is a chance they can be replaced by seeds surreptitiously brought from a regional seed bank. . . .

To read this review in its entirety, as it appears in the March 20, 2013 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the March 21 Naples and Bonita Springs editions, click here Florida Weekly – Sobczak 1 and here Florida Weekly – Sobczak 2

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A delightful inventory of the Gulf Coast’s natural delights

“The Living Gulf Coast: A Nature Guide to Southwest Florida,” by Charles Sobczak. Indigo Press. 512 pages. $26.95.

People who live in and visit Southwest Florida are drawn by its natural beauty. In spite of many decades of development, the region still has a remarkable diversity of life forms and relatively unspoiled habitats in which they thrive. Furthermore, public and private efforts have done much to insure the future of these natural treasures. “The Living Gulf Coast” is a generous, lavishly produced, and inspiring guide to this distinctive paradise. 

Charles Sobczak

Mr. Sobczak’s encyclopedic effort is divided into two major sections of approximately equal size. The first section is the field guide itself. Defining the region as including Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Glades, and Hendry counties, the author provides detailed information on the birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians to be found here. He employs an efficient set of symbols and abbreviations to map basic facts of size (for birds, length, wingspan, and weight), degree of endangerment, where found, the various names applied to the species, and so forth. Mr. Sobczak also provides vivid descriptions of each creature’s appearance, behavior, habitat, and diet.

Blending information and entertainment, Charles Sobczak entices his readers to move beyond the passive engagement of entering a book. He urges them to engage directly and actively with their fellow creatures. Whether introducing the Green Iguana, the Everglades Mink, the Pileated Woodpecker, the Florida Banded Water Snake, or the lowly Nutria, the author gives each critter its due. Often, his discussions are leavened by humor and wit.

Where to engage? That’s what the second half of the book is all about.

Nature lovers will revel in Mr. Sobczak’s survey of “managed lands” available for public exploration and enjoyment in this six-county region. Over 2,000 of the region’s 6,000 square miles are under federal, state, or local public or private management, providing countless opportunities for birding, hiking, kayaking, camping, and just plain meditation. The author provides information about 162 destinations, 61 in elaborate detail and the others in a more compact overview.

This latter half of the book is arranged by county, with a north-to-south plan within each chapter. With Charles Sobczak as our guide, we can travel from Sarasota’s Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium to Punta Gorda’s Peace River Wildlife Center to Boca Grande’s Gasparilla Island State Park to the Naples Botanical Garden and to various eco-destinations out east in Hendry and Glades counties.  Many of these destinations are well-known, while many others are relatively obscure. The author locates each entry not only by address, but also by GPS coordinates. You won’t get lost.

To read this review in its entirety as it appears in the May 25, 2011 Fort Myers Florida Weekly, the May 26 Naples Florida Weekly, and the June 2 Port Charlotte/Punta Gorda Florida Weekly, click here: LivingGulfCoast pdf – 1 and then here: LivingGulfCoast pdf – 2

See also: Florida Weekly – Living Sanibel and https://philjason.wordpress.com/2006/12/27/book-beat-24-charles-sobczak/

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Sanibel Author’s Guide to Paradise

“Living Sanibel: A Nature Guide to Sanibel and Captiva Islands,” by Charles Sobczak. Indigo Press. 498 pages. $26.95.

A lavishly produced coffee table book and an authoritative, user-friendly field guide, Charles Sobczak’s “Living Sanibel” is also a labor of love. Twenty-five years ago, Mr. Sobczak and his wife moved to his treasured island from the Midwest. He explored its soul – its inner nature – with his first title, the novel “Six Mornings on Sanibel” (1999). Now, six titles later, he has explored its body – its outer nature.

Although Mr. Sobczak apologizes for what he has had to leave out, he erred on the side of being utilitarian rather than encyclopedic. Who would want to carry three volumes around to become intimate with the flora and fauna of those delightful islands off the Lee County coast? This single volume manages to cover its subject generously and with passionate attention.

To read the entire review, as it appears in the March 31-April 6 2010 issue of Fort Myers Florida Weekly, click on Florida Weekly – Charles Sobczak. This review appeared four weeks later in the Naples Florida Weekly. 

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BOOK BEAT 54 – Naples Literary News

Naples Authors, Publishers, and Booksellers Keep Busy

BOOK BEAT   Naples Sun Times   September 12-18, 2007

by Philip K. Jason

Our literary community continues to be as prolific, energetic, and creative as ever. What follows are some updates on the doings of authors, publishers, and sellers of books in Naples in particular and Southwest Florida as well.

Multi-genre author Dorothy Jane Mills is giving a series of talks at The Carlisle. Each talk is related to one aspect of her writing career. The first in the series, on “Women in Baseball,” has already been given. Three more are coming up, so mark your calendar for:

“The Austrian Nazis of the Thirties,” which focuses on how to write a historical novel and refers to Mills’ trilogy of “The Sceptre,” “The Labyrinth,” and “The Treskel.” Mills will appear in Austrian costume as she discusses how real events and real people are blended with fictional invention on Thursday October 4 at 3pm.

On Thursday November 8 at 3pm, her topic is “What’s a Vegetarian?” Dorothy Mills

will explain how and why people become vegetarians or decide to eat less meat. She will provide the background for her highly praised vegetarian cookbook, “Meatless Meat.” Mills will provide free recipes and vegetarian food samples. Along the way, expect to learn something about writing a cookbook.

“Children’s Books for Christmas” is the topic of her talk scheduled for Thursday December 6 at 3pm. Mills will explain how and why she wrote her ten children’s books in 1965 and how she lost control of them, then regained it by buying back her own words. Five of these little books have been recently republished. The author will read from letters she received from children who grew up with the books, especially the one that became a classic, “Ann Likes Red.”

At each presentation, books by Dorothy Jane Mills will be for sale. If you intend to come, call the Carlisle activities director, Sue, at 449-7724.

One of the more interesting projects to come out of Naples is the “Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry,” an annual collection that features reprinted work of established poets and presents the first appearances of less-known but highly talented writers. Volume V in the series is just out and features the work of Dorianne Laux, Marie Howe, and Jane Hirshfield. The literary editor of this series, which gains in quality and prestige from year to year, is Neapolitan Marylin Krepf.

One of my special pleasures in this volume was to reacquaint myself with fellow Marylander Alan Britt, a writer whose poems I’ve long admired and who is well represented by “Laundry with Mahler” and “Cockatiel.”  Neapolitans will savor “Reflections” by my fellow columnist Michael Hickey. Every reader will make his or own discoveries, given the diversity of styles and subjects that have found their way into this rich assembly. Mine include the work of Danielle Sellers, Blaise Allen, and Cape Coral writer D. L. Foor.

Visit the website http://www.meridiananthology.com to find out more about this volume, its predecessors, and how to order them.

Charles Sobczak, perhaps the most successful self-published author in our extended community (he writes out of Sanibel), has reached a milestone of sorts. While most first  novels, even those from major publishing houses, never get beyond a first printing of perhaps 5,000 copies, and while the average for a self-published novel is about 400 copies, his 1999 breakthrough novel “Six Mornings in Sanibel” has sold over 21,000 copies and is now on its sixth printing. This is quite an amazing achievement. If you haven’t encountered this fine book, an easy to take wisdom tale set on the Sanibel fishing pier, you can help sell out the sixth edition.

Mina Hemingway has relocated her Florida Book Store from the Pavilion to a more spacious location in the Uptown Shopping Center on Immokalee Road just east of Sam’s Club. The official opening date is September 15. The new location, which is about triple the space of the old one, will allow her to stock and display many more titles and to provide a warm and friendly atmosphere for booklovers to browse and have a cup of coffee. Mina conceives of the new store as a community gathering place. It will also be home to many more literary events.

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.

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BOOK BEAT 24 – Charles Sobczak

BOOK BEAT   Naples Sun Times   December 27, 2006-January 2, 2007

by Philip K. Jason

When Sanibel realtor Charles Sobczak founded Indigo Press to publish his first novel, Six Mornings on Sanibel (1999), he was issued ten ISBN numbers. Sobczak has managed the risks and rewards of self-publishing so well that he will soon have to apply for more. As 2006 comes to a close, he has now five books in print plus two special editions. And this inventive author is a long way from running out of ideas, whether for the books themselves or for marketing them effectively.

Six Mornings, which has sold an astounding 21,000 copies, tells of the therapeutic interaction between Carl, a long-time Sanibel resident now in his twilight years, and Richard, a burnt-out alcoholic Midwesterner reluctantly on vacation. The recently-widowed older man needs someone to listen to his tales; the vacationer needs to redirect his life and recommit to the values he once held as a young man. The interchange presents fishing lessons and life lessons that, along with the Sanibel setting, move both men toward spiritual restoration.

Sobczak’s second novel, Way Under Contract, has much more of a satirical bite. It has been labeled a black comedy about the real estate business, particularly as it exists down here in Southwest Florida. Sobczak crafts into a compelling narrative the many quirks of the business while ultimately encouraging a more respectful attitude toward the world we live in. In 2001, this book won the Patrick D. Smith Literary Award, which is given by the Florida Historical Association for a book that depicts some aspect of Florida life in a most effective way. It, too, has sold quite well over the years, aided in 2004 by the coincidence of a phenomenon named Hurricane Charley, which brought special interest to the regional real estate market and to the fragility of this man-made Paradise.

Rhythm of the Tides is a compilation of Sobczak’s newspaper columns, along with selected short stories, essays, and poetry. It is a kind of Charles Sobczak sampler, and thus a good way to become familiar with the concerns and techniques of this versatile writer as they have developed over the years. Sobczak has packaged his first three books together in a bound collection called Island Writings. This collection is published in a general edition and a special Sanibel Island edition.

In 2003 came A Choice of Angels. This novel grows, in part, out of a visit Sobczak and his wife made to Istanbul in 2001. It centers on a romance that invited a clash of cultures, as a young Muslim woman who is an international exchange student meets the son of a Baptist minister at a small Georgia college. The damage caused by religious intolerance is treated with subtlety and precision in this exploration of contemporary political and religious issues. Though the manuscript was completed before 9/11, it seems as if the book speaks to that event and its aftermath. The author weaves background and foreground together skillfully, always making sure that the authenticity of his characters is not sacrificed to the need for exposition. 

Alligators, Sharks, & Panthers is Charles Sobczak’s most recent effort. Published last month, its theme is in its subtitle: “Deadly Encounters with Florida’s Top Predator – Man.” This, Sobczak’s first book-length piece of nonfiction, is a compendium of information on the confrontations between humans and other predators in our state. The book unfolds in brief sections, alternating fact-laden chunks with chunks of narration that illustrate these confrontations, most often revealing how they either were man-provoked or provoked by human ignorance.

Each of the major predators named in the title gets a separate chapter, and each chapter follows the same pattern. First comes an exposition on the animal itself: its nature, its evolution, its situation in Florida in the 21st century. This information is followed by a miscellany of stories – often news items – and warnings that underscore Sobczaks’ theme. The fourth chapter is on man, figured as the planet’s unwitting destroyer. In chapter five, the ecological problems that human activities bring to our home state are outlined in detail. As the book progresses, Sobczak presents more and more information about what we can do to alleviate these problems.

Finally, the book is an impassioned plea for understanding and action. Amazingly, it sold 1,200 copies in its first thirty days in print! Environmentalists and conservationists are, of course, buying the book. But so are tourists and teenage boys.

One thing that distinguishes Charles Sobczak from most self-published authors is his marketing savvy. His books do not stay in storage, and they do not remain secrets. He knows how to promote them, and he is not lazy about putting in the necessary effort to get them to and through the distributors and stores and into the hands of readers. But these efforts would not succeed if the books themselves were not worthy of attention. So far, with 34,000 Indigo Press books sold, he is batting 100%.

You can find and order Sobczak’s books in most area bookstores and online. They are usually well-stocked in Mina Hemingway’s Florida Bookstore at the Pavilion Shopping Center. Also, see indigopress.net.

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 pjason@aol.com.

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