Friday, April 26, 2013

Blog Spot: Trails in the Sand

Trails in the Sand 
A Family Saga Filled with Love Triangles, Sea Turtles, and an Oil Spill
When environmental writer Caroline Carlisle sets off to report on endangered sea turtles during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the last thing she expects is to uncover secrets - secrets that threaten to destroy her family, unless she can heal the hurts from a lifetime of lies. To make matters worse, Caroline's love for her late sister's husband, Simon, creates an uproar in a southern family already set on a collision course with its past.
Using real-life events as the backdrop, Trails in the Sand explores the fight to restore balance and peace, in nature and in a family, as both spiral toward disaster. Through it all, the ancient sea turtle serves a reminder that life moves forward despite the best efforts to destroy it.

Where to purchase Trails in the Sand

Trails in the Sand Tour Page:

About P.C. Zick:
P.C.'s Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

P.C. Zick began her writing career in 1998 as a journalist. She's won various awards for her essays, columns, editorials, articles, and fiction. She describes herself as a "storyteller" no matter the genre.
She's published four works of fiction and one nonfiction book. Prior to 2010, she wrote under the name Patricia C. Behnke.
She was born in Michigan and moved to Florida in 1980. She now resides in Pennsylvania with her husband Robert.
Her fiction contains the elements most dear to her heart, ranging from love to the environment. She believes in living lightly upon this earth with love, laughter, and passion.
"This is one of the most exciting times to be an author," Ms. Zick says. "I'm honored to be a part of the revolution in writing and publishing."

Guest Post:
Saving Sea Turtles One Nest at a Time By P.C. Zick

The idea for my novel Trails in the Sand began formulating in my mind soon after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill when I still worked as a public relations director for Florida’s wildlife managers.
During the last week in April 2010, I received a panicked call from a wildlife biologist.
“Audubon is certain the nesting birds will be threatened by the oil spill,” she said. “They’re planning on doing a news release.”
Crap, I thought.
The wildlife biologist was one of my colleagues at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). The oil spill was on its way to becoming the worst offshore oil spill in the history of the United States. Since the FWC was responsible for the health and safety of Florida’s wildlife, the media was going to be calling as soon as Audubon suggested Florida’s birds might be in danger. While we were working on efforts to rescue any wildlife that might be impacted, it was still in the early days of the oil spill, and no one knew where the oil was going or how long it would gush. The pictures of oiled wildlife weren’t yet inundating the nightly news.
“What are you doing to save those poor defenseless birds?” I imagined hearing from reporters. “Why aren’t you doing more?” and “Why are you spending state resources when oil hasn’t come ashore yet?” would send me bouncing between the bungee cords of media frenzy.
I’d already started to develop fact sheets on oil-drenched wildlife and talking points for scientists and public relations staff to follow; I was writing news releases in anticipation of what might or might not happen.
I spent the next months in the same pattern of trying to dodge bullets while making sure we were fully informed and proactively getting in front of the news that became worse each day as the oil continued to gush into the Gulf of Mexico. Several weeks after the oil spill began, another concern reared its head, which sent both the scientists and the public relations folks scrambling.
I received a call in early May from one of our sea turtle biologists.
“I’m worried about the turtles,” she began.
Sea turtles begin nesting near May 1 on Florida’s beaches, including the Panhandle beaches, exactly where many feared the oil would appear in Florida. The biologists worried about the hatchlings that would begin their long journey from the nest to the surf after approximately seventy days of incubation.
Within the month, I received the assignment to handle the media for a risky and nearly unprecedented attempt to save the hatchlings from certain death.
The scientists feared what might happen if the hatchlings made it to the shallow waters and into the grasses where they spent the first months of their life growing and feeding on the very stalks where the oil and tarballs might first appear.
The turtles, mostly loggerheads but some Kemp’s ridley, green and leatherback turtles, usually lay approximately 700 nests on the Panhandle beaches each year. The scientists – state and federal – began formulating Sea Turtle Nest Translocation Project to move the eggs as they neared maturity. Implementing the plan went against every grain embedded in the scientist’s brain. How could they test it? They’d have no sample base lines from years of study and research. This project became the test pilot, the base line, and the standard, if this situation ever arose again. For several months, I dealt with some very nervous scientists who pored over every single word I wrote on the project.
Each nest contains approximately 80-120 eggs. The scientists predicted a modest 50,000 hatchlings for the Gulf beaches during the 2010 season.
The plan consisted of a very strict protocol. Nests were dug up somewhere near the fiftieth day of incubation – normal incubation time is generally seventy days. Once the eggs were removed from the nest, they were packed in specially prepared Styrofoam boxes, and transported by specially equipped FedEx trucks to Cape Canaveral on the east coast of Florida. Once there, the boxes were placed in a climate-controlled building. Once the hatchlings emerged, they were released into the ocean at night.
By the end of the project in August 2010, approximately 250 nests were relocated, and nearly 17,000 hatchlings made it safely into the Atlantic Ocean away from the oil.
The whole project was a success as far as can be told at this point in 2013. While in the nest, the turtles receive a magnetic imprinting of the location. When the female matures, at approximately thirty years old, she usually returns to the same beach where she hatched. Scientists hope by keeping the eggs in their original nests as long as possible, the magnetic marking occurred, and they will return to the Gulf beaches to continue the cycle.
Once I left the agency, I knew I needed to find a way to incorporate the saving of sea turtles into a novel. I started Trails in the Sand on the day of the oil spill in the life of environmental writer, Caroline Carlisle. She wrote about the sea turtle project, as her family’s history encroached on the present threatening to destroy all it touched. As the oil gushes in the Gulf, Caroline rushes forward to save her family from the brink of disaster.
Trails in the Sand puts a personal face on a very real environmental disaster, which I hope will help people remember to protect and preserve all the treasures of their world.

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