Thursday, November 20, 2014

Author Interview - David McRee

If you missed my book review on Monday on "BeachHunter's Florida Gulf Beaches Access Guide" then go here to read it.  Author David McRee stopped by to say hello and to do an interview so please read on....





You now call yourself a professional Beach Bum.  You served as a beach expert for Visitflorida.com for over 2 years providing multimedia content.  What is your writing and photography background?

My only experience with writing and photography was researching and writing my Florida Gulf Beaches Access Guide and building my BeachHunter.net website. I took beach photos for the book and website. In 2007, Miles Media in Sarasota was looking for someone to create content about beaches for the new Visitflorida website. One of the editors found my website and liked my writing, so they offered me the contract position. I gained a lot of valuable experience and contacts from that assignment and got to travel to beaches all over the state, including my first trip to the Dry Tortugas.

Do you hold a regular job now or are you lucky enough to spend your days living on the beach and writing about it?

I am a Certified Public Accountant licensed to practice in Florida. I left my job at an accounting firm in 2005 to pursue my writing, however I’ve done a great deal of freelance consulting as a CPA to pay the bills and am currently rebuilding my practice since writing about beaches has never really produced a dependable full-time income. As a CPA I specialize in tax compliance and IRS problem resolution for nonprofit organizations of all kinds. I’ve also done some freelance writing and blogging for the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival in Titusville, Florida and have created content for some other beach related websites.

How many books have you written?

Well, let’s see, with regard to beaches:

·         Florida Gulf Beaches Access Guide (currently available in print only)

·         Best Beach Day Trips from Orlando and Central Florida (e-book only from my website)

·         Dog Friendly Gulf Beaches of Southwest Florida (kindle book only)

·         Beach Survival Guide (e-book available on my website (free) and on Kindle (not free))

With regard to my CPA work, I’ve written a technical manual for CPAs and attorneys on resolving IRS penalty issues for nonprofit organizations.

What do you like most about writing your beach books?  Is it gathering the information, the writing, the photography, the editing?

I enjoy it all, but mostly I enjoy discovering new beaches or new things about a beach I’m already familiar with. I also get a huge amount of satisfaction from all the email I get from people telling me how much my books and website have helped them find the right beach and plan their vacation. I have individuals who tell me they have been using my website and books for many years.

What do you like the least about writing a book?

My least favorite part of writing is probably the last few editing and fact-checking efforts where I’m really splitting hairs in the way I word something or where I’m having trouble nailing down an important detail about beach access at a particular location. Also, making sure the table of contents and the index are correct and the layout is readable and all the photos are positioned correctly is tedious. I use Microsoft Word, which is not really what a professional book layout person would use.

Your books are available in both print and E book.  Do you prefer one medium over the other?

Just from a personal perspective I prefer printed books.  Now that I’ve discovered the Createspace publishing platform I no longer have to stock books and mail them out. Createspace handles printing and on-demand delivery. From a business (profit) perspective, I prefer to sell e-books. They are easier to update and have a much higher profit margin. And I can use color photos or illustrations if the book is not too long.

How do Florida’s east and west coast beaches differ?

I could easily write an entire article on this. The Gulf beaches are calmer, have more shells and fewer jellyfish (except the panhandle has lots of jellies), and the Gulf barrier islands are smaller and narrower. The panhandle and Atlantic coast beaches tend to have larger dunes and the buildings and houses are not packed quite as tightly as on the Gulf side, with some notable exceptions. The Gulf of Mexico water temperature gets warmer in the summer and colder in the winter than the Atlantic Ocean.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever found on a beach?

I found a clay smoking pipe on Caspersen Beach, near Venice. It looks much like a pipe that Native Americans or Caribbean Islanders might have smoked hundreds of years ago, but probably isn’t that old. Perhaps it fell from a passing cargo ship. Who knows? It was a great find!

I know that water clarity changes on a daily basis, but which beaches typically have the clearest water for snorkeling/shelling?

I’ve actually written a blog post on this and it happens to be the most popular article on my blog at BlogTheBeach.com. Panhandle beaches from Pensacola to around St. Joseph Peninsula generally have very clear water. Beaches from Anna Maria to Naples often have very fairly clear water, especially during May and June before the rains start, but clarity varies and can be inconsistent. On the Atlantic side, the beaches from about Palm Beach south to Miami usually have very good water clarity.

What do you personally look for in a beach in order for it to qualify as great beach?  Is it the shelling, the snorkeling, sitting in the sand, watching sunsets, the parking?

It depends on what I’m in the mood for mainly. But overall, it’s the vibe. I prefer quiet neighborhood beaches where I don’t have to fight traffic and I can just pull into a shady parking spot right next to the beach access trail. I like beaches where there is no crowd—just a few locals and vacationers staying nearby--and where I can see plenty of greenery and no high rise buildings. Clear water is a plus. I don’t care if the sand is white or brown or if there are lots of shells. Late afternoon and sunset are my favorite times at the beach. I don’t want to smell cigarette or cigar smoke, and I don’t want to hear traffic noise or loud music.

Describe your best beach day.

My best beach days actually happened when I was a teenager. I spent many wonderful days surfing with good friends on Anna Maria Island. I’ll never forget those times and those friends. More recently, my best beach day is harder to pinpoint, but my first trip to Sanibel Island, Bowman’s Beach and Captiva, --before Hurricane Charley blew over all the Australian Pines--was probably one of the most magical beach and island exploration days I can remember. My first trip to the beaches of Cayo Costa aboard the Tropic Star rates pretty highly as well.

So going to the beach is technically your “job.”  What do you like to do for fun?

I still go to the beach for fun. I enjoy kayaking as well. I’ve been a life-long birder and also enjoy working in my vegetable garden almost every day. For indoor activities, I’ve been an avid Argentine Tango dancer for over 15 years and I still pursue that passion as my schedule allows.

What advice would you give aspiring travel writers?

Oddly perhaps, I don’t really think of myself as a travel writer but I guess that would be a conventional description of my beach related writing. My advice would be to pick some angle or niche that you can specialize in. Become the “go-to” expert in that niche. Don’t be afraid to start off by self-publishing. Learn to take good photographs and to use social media. Create a lot of content. The biggest challenge in travel writing is that so many travel writers are willing to work for free or nearly free. That’s some pretty tough competition. Don’t undervalue yourself. Learn to write persuasive sales copy. Don’t quit your day job too soon.

I'd like to thank David for his interview and for giving me the opportunity to review his book "BeachHunter's Florida Gulf Beaches Access Guide."  It's available on his website and also at Amazon.

4 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. excellent information, even for the locals. :-)

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  2. LOVE this book! Thanks for interviewing the author - it's nice to "know" who wrote the book.
    For those who haven't purchased this book yet, I say: GO GET IT! you won't be disappointed!

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    Replies
    1. I totally agree Moira - I love to hear more about the authors.

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