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Eighth annual Holiday House of Hope this weekend to benefit Beacon of HOPE

November 29, 2017
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

The Beacon of HOPE will be hosing its 8th annual Holiday House of HOPE hosted at the historic Tarpon Lodge Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 30-Dec. 2

Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive "Island Fashion" by boat at the docks of Tarpon Lodge on Thursday at 5:15 p.m.

"Last year the children filled the lawn all the way down to the dock," Elsie Stearns said.

There are always plenty of activities for the children. There will be a family friendly menu as well as crafts, face painting, story-time with Tonya Player, the North Fort Myers Academy of the Arts Steel Drum Band and the Pine Island Elementary Choir, plus Hula Hoop lessons, pictures with Santa and much more.

This year's theme is "Christmas Past" and the historic Tarpon Lodge fits the theme perfectly. Built in 1926 as a fishing lodge for Graham and Mary Wilson, Tarpon Lodge has eight charming rooms featuring original oak hardwood floors, fireplaces and crown moldings.

As in previous years, there will be many 24-inch trees decorated by local businesses that will be auctioned off.

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"Each of these trees are special and unique," Stearns said. "One-of-a-kind trees that people will treasure for years to come."

The artists enclave will be under the new "stilt house." This year's authors are John D. Mills, Marty Ambrose, Mitch Grant, Fran Thomas and Robin Anne Griffiths. Authors will be available both Friday and Saturday from 5:30-10 p.m.

Mills is a fifth generation native of Fort Myers. He grew up fishing the waters of Pine Island Sound and it's still his favorite hobby. He graduated from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, with a Law degree and started his legal career as a prosecutor for the State Attorney's Office in Fort Myers. Currently in private practice, Mills has self published several murder mysteries mostly set in Pine Island Sound.

"I just confirmed with my publisher that copies of my new book "Pineland Gold" will be delivered to my office by Nov. 28, just in time for release at The Holiday House," Mills said. "It is a murder mystery that features the Pineland Indian mounds and Tarpon Lodge, so I can't think of a better place to release it.

Ambrose, a Pine Island author, has been thinking about mysteries most of her life; she is one of those people who always likes to "look behind the door," whether in her teaching or mystery writing. She has been teaching English and creative writing at Florida SouthWestern State College for over 25 years, and her writing career has spanned almost 15 years, with nine published novels for Avalon Books, Kensington Books, Thomas & Mercer and now Five Star.

Ambrose released her latest Mango Bay Mystery, "Coastal Corpse," and she is hard at work on book #6: "Slaying Season." Ambrose lives in Bokeelia with her husband, ex-news anchor Jim McLaughlin, and their German shepherd, Mango.

Former banker and local author Grant recently released his fourth book in the St. James City Mystery series entitled "The Florida Rig Murder."

Inspired by Southwest Florida's ac-claimed mystery writers John D. Mac-Donald and Randy Wayne White, Grant in the St. James City Mystery series has created murder mysteries every Pine Islander will love.

Like all of Grant's books, the title comes from a fishing reference. The first book title is "Popping Cork Murder;" the second, "Cut Bait Murders;" the third, "Silver Spoon Murder;" and finally, "The Florida Rig Murder."

"My books combine classic Florida mystery fiction with my passion for Florida life in a way that's sure to appeal to visitors to Southwest Florida, fishermen, boaters, retirees and mystery fans of all ages," Grant said.

Thomas bases her novels in a highly fictionalized version of Pine Island she calls Calusa. The books are considered "clean" or "sweet" romantic comedies.

In the first of the series, "The Lady Is a Mayor," the mayor of Calusa flees town in the middle of the night after cleaning out its bank account.

The second book, "Southern Hospitality," begins when the new hotel has been built, and a new manager arrives from up north. Kate Schubert doesn't plan to stay in Calusa for long, the town is merely a stepping stone on her career path, so she can't waste time flirting with attorney Dave Morissey. As she navigates around flying mullet, unconventional conventioneers, and a storm that makes a last minute turn, she discovers the importance of community.

Recently published book three, "Island Dream," features siblings who have moved to Calusa from Miami. Older brother Rafe Ramos is hired as a deputy. His sister Isabella wants only to open her own restaurant. In the meantime, she befriends another newcomer who begins painting designs on utility poles. But he's keeping a secret that could deflate their budding romance like a fallen souffle.

Griffiths book, "Iva Mae: The Book of Mom," is about her mother's lifetime of struggles and faith.

The book begins in the rural areas of Southeast Kansas and Ozark Mountains of Missouri. Iva Mae traveled the country and Europe while she experienced different cultures, social environments and venues including dinner at the White House.

Vendors for the event include CW Fudge's Chocolate Candyland, Sanibel Soul Jewelry, PI Attic Holiday Bazaar, Pine Bay Gifts featuring artist Mel Meo, Designs by Lisa Holloway, Unique Treasures, Coastal Wired Jewelry, Nauti Tiki Seasonings, Bohemian Bokeelian, Pine Island Tropicals, Tagua Jewelry and Kumihimo Jewelry.



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