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Piper Castillo, Times Staff Writer

Piper Castillo

Piper Castillo grew up in Ft. Lauderdale and received her English degree from Florida Atlantic University. As a community news reporter for the Tampa Bay Times, she covers Oldsmar and Palm Harbor. She also writes the "Nightstand" column for the Sunday book pages and thinks the only thing better than a good read is a day in the sun with her family.

Phone: (727) 445-4163

E-mail: pcastillo@tampabay.com

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  1. What's Meg Heimstead reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    Meg Heimstead

    Heimstead is the director of education at American Stage Theatre in St. Petersburg, where more than 500 young people will venture onto its stage during this year's summer camp program. Heimstead, 38, has a bachelor of fine arts degree from University of Evansville in Indiana. An avid reader, she stresses that reading "... increases the performer's ability to become empathetic. You might be quick to judge on the outside, but reading the novel (the play is based on) takes you into their thought process.''...

    Meg Heimstead is director of education at American Stage Theatre in St. Petersburg.
  2. Famous people, famous places: Reflecting on the best parts of Florida

    Human Interest

    Ernest Hemingway once described Key West as "the best place I've ever been anytime anywhere, flowers, tamarind trees, guava trees, coconut palms. ... Got tight last night on absinthe and did knife tricks." That is a real, unedited quote. Although we might never know the result of that night of absinthe-induced debauchery, we do know why our home state inspired such fawning praise.

    Hemingway so admired Florida's unparalleled natural beauty because, like many great people, he was a resident. Since the author's death in 1961, the state has continued to touch the lives of actors, athletes, musicians, judges and presidential candidates. This story is a celebration of Florida products, human and inanimate, with meditations on its greatest natural scenes by some of the state's most noteworthy people....

    This photo by acclaimed Florida nature photographer Clyde Butcher is "Loxahatchee River State Park - 1991" will be included in the exhibit opening Jan. 8-29 at the Pasco-Hernando State art gallery. The exhibit Visions of Florida: The Photographic Art of Clyde Butcher is part of the Museum of Florida History's Traveling Exhibit (TREX) program. Butcher will will discuss his work in a special presentation, followed by a Q&A and book signing, on Wednesday, January 21, 2015 at 6 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center on the college's West Campus in New Port Richey.
  3. What's Shary Hauer reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    Shary Hauer

    Although Shary Hauer, owner of the Hauer Group, a strategic consulting and coaching firm, thrived at work, for years she found herself in a constant state of despair when it came to relationships. Until, that is, she recognized she had a bona fide disorder: love addiction. "Love addiction is not gender specific, and it doesn't have to do with a certain age,'' said Hauer, 57. "It's the same thing with any addiction. There are cravings. There's a needing and it is with those who don't feel content in their life without someone by their side — constantly by their side." In her memoir, Insatiable, Hauer chronicles her experiences tackling her affliction. We recently caught up with the author from her home office on Clearwater Beach....

    Shary Hauer wrote about love addition in her memoir, Insatiable.
  4. Five questions on Pinellas Habitat CEO's visit with Jimmy Carter

    News

    Michael Sutton, the chief executive officer for Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas, was standing next to a country road when he met the 39th president of the United States.

    "We watched two (vehicles) at high speed coming towards us, a pickup truck and a black SUV,'' Sutton recalled. "First the pickup truck pulled up, and we see Jimmy Carter in the back seat, and then the SUV, with Secret Service inside, pulled up. Jimmy got out of the truck and said, 'Hey, everybody.' ''...

    Michael Sutton met former President Jimmy Carter during a Habitat for Humanity trip.
  5. What's Jamaal Wilkes reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    Jamaal Wilkes

    On Tuesday, the Golden State Warriors won the NBA championship. Jamaal Wilkes has strong ties with this winning team. He was a Warrior and NBA Rookie of the Year back in 1975, when Golden State won its only other NBA title. Groomed in college by legendary UCLA Bruins coach John Wooden and known for his "slingshot'' shooting style, Wilkes also helped the Los Angeles Lakers win three championships. He recently released his memoir written with journalist Edward Reynolds Davis: Jamaal Wilkes: Memoirs of the Original Smooth as Silk. Wilkes, 62, lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife, Valerie. They have three adult children.....

    Jamaal Wilkes recently released his memoir written with journalist Edward Reynolds Davis: Jamaal Wilkes: Memoirs of the Original Smooth as Silk.
  6. What's Elise Juska reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    Elise Juska

    Juska, 42, is the director of the undergraduate creative writing program at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Her stories have appeared in Ploughshares (which awarded her the Alice Hoffman Prize for Fiction), Gettysburg Review, Missouri Review and Good Housekeeping. Her most recent work, The Blessings, centers around a large Irish-Catholic clan and how they maneuver through life's triumphs and tragedies....

    Elise Juska, 42, is the director of the undergraduate creative writing program at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
  7. Three Rooker Island is all about the baby birds

    Wildlife

    TARPON SPRINGS

    Near the high-water mark, close to shore, three American oystercatcher chicks follow close behind their mother. Nearby, hordes of laughing gulls sit on their eggs, snuggled in the grass. Across the island, hundreds of ibis sway in the branches while guarding over their nests. On Three Rooker Island, it's all about the baby birds. • The island is surrounded by the crystal-clear waters of St. Joseph Sound and is part of the Anclote Key Preserve State Park. Known by old-timers as Three Rooker Bar because of its origins as a sand bar, it has been a popular destination for boaters for decades. It's also one of the top nesting colonies for shorebirds in the state. This means human visitors must be considerate of the avian day care. • As it has done since 2012, the Florida Park Service, with help from Clearwater Audubon and the American Bird Conservancy, has closed about a quarter-mile of beach on the horseshoe-shaped island from May 1 through Aug. 1....

    A laughing gull, part of a horde that occupies Three Rooker Island, improves its nest among the tall grasses.
  8. What's Heather Lende reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    Heather Lende

    Lende, 56, writes obituaries for the Chilkat Valley News in Haines, Alaska, and is also a columnist for the Alaska Dispatch News. She has contributed essays and commentary to NPR, the New York Times and National Geographic Traveler. Her most recent release is Find the Good: Unexpected Life Lessons From a Small-Town Obituary Writer. She and her husband, Chip Lende, have lived in Alaska for more than 25 years and have five adult children....

    Heather Lende, 56, writes obituaries for the Chilkat Valley News in Haines, Alaska, and is also a columnist for the Alaska Dispatch News.
  9. What's Heidi Pitlor reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    Heidi Pitlor

    Pitlor, 44, has been the series editor of The Best American Short Stories collection since 2007. She holds a master's degree in creative writing from Emerson College in Massachusetts and is a former senior editor at Houghton Mifflin (now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Her most recent novel is the mystery The Daylight Marriage. She and her family live outside Boston....

    Heidi Pitlor’s most recent novel is “The Daylight Marriage.”
  10. What's Duff McKagan reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    Duff McKagan

    We caught up with McKagan, co-founder of Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver, as he was stuck in Manhattan traffic on May 12. In addition to his musical career, McKagan, 51, has established himself as a writer. His work includes his 2011 autobiography, It's So Easy (and Other Lies), as well as columns in Seattle Weekly and on espn.com and playboy.com. McKagan also founded Meridian Rock, a wealth management firm for musicians, about five years ago. The Seattle native was in New York for the release of his newest book, How to Be a Man (and Other Illusions). ...

    Duff McKagan, co-founder of Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver and founder of a wealth management firm for musicians, recently released How to Be a Man (and Other Illusions).
  11. What's Jack Andraka reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    Jack Andraka

    When a family friend died from pancreatic cancer a few years ago, Andraka, now 18, realized he wanted to join the fight against the disease. As a sophomore at North County High School in Glen Burnie, Md., he discovered a possible early detection test for pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancers, based on the biomarker mesothelin. His test is currently being reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration....

    Jack Andraka, who wrote the memoir Breakthrough: How One Teen Innovator Is Changing the World, will attend Stanford in the fall.
  12. First nest signals start of sea turtle season in Pinellas County

    Wildlife

    REDINGTON BEACH

    Mike Anderson is supervisor of sea turtles and aquatic biology programs for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, so you'd think finding a sea turtle nest is just another day on the job.

    But when he found the season's first nest this week on Redington Beach, there was still a little thrill.

    "It's exciting to find the first one, but actually, it's always exciting to find turtle nests,'' Anderson said....

    Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s Donna Burrows, left, Mike Anderson and Janet Melia check to make sure a loggerhead sea turtle laid eggs on Indian Rocks Beach.
  13. What's Jenn Marie Thorne reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    Jenn Marie Thorne

    In her new YA novel, The Wrong Side of Right, Thorne, 34, takes on American politicians and their "love children.'' At the age of 16, protagonist Kate Quinn is just getting her feet back on the ground after losing her mother in a car accident when a stranger, along with about a dozen of his staff members and the media, shows up at her door. Mark Cooper is a U.S. senator and Republican nominee for president. Word has leaked out that not only did he cheat on his wife, he fathered an illegitimate child. "I decided to tell this as a YA story because being a teenager is that time in your life that you are seizing control of your destiny, and also, it seemed it was the season for political sex scandals, but you never heard from the kids involved,'' said Thorne. "The ground underneath a teenager is unsteady enough as it is, and I was wondering what it would be like to have something like this happen to you while you are working through things.'' Thorne, who has a bachelor of fine arts degree in drama from New York University, lives with her husband and two young sons in Gulfport....

    Jenn Marie Thorne, author of “The Wrong Side of Right.”
  14. What's David Morrell reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    David Morrell

    Morrell has recently seen the release of the second book in his De Quincey trilogy, Inspector of the Dead. At its center is Thomas De Quincey, a fictional sleuth based on a real-life writer of the Victorian era who struggled with opium addiction. In this installment, De Quincey studies clues left by a killer targeting London's elite and realizes the next victim could very well be Queen Victoria herself. Morrell, who received a doctorate in American literature at Pennsylvania State University and was an English professor at the University of Iowa, is also well known for his 1972 debut novel First Blood, which eventually became the blockbuster movie Rambo. We caught up with him by phone, from his home in New Mexico....

    David Morrell, Morrell, who received a doctorate in American literature at Pennsylvania State University and was an English professor at the University of Iowa, is also well known for his 1972 debut novel First Blood, which eventually became the blockbuster movie Rambo.
  15. What's Adam Riches reading?

    Books

    Nightstand

    Adam Riches

    It was a book, How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by Stan Lee and John Buscema, that helped Riches, 29, realize his passion for art. He received it as a gift at the age of 6, and he immediately began tracing Lee's characters and "over time trying to replicate the images freehand and finally applying the concepts represented in the book to create my own original art,'' said Riches, who grew up in Largo and graduated from the Ringling College of Art and Design. "Art — drawing, painting, sculpting — has been an ever present part of my life.''...

    Adam Riches created the cover for G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero: The Death of Snake Eyes: Part 1, #212, which includes all 280 villains G.I. Joe has battled over the years.