The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 9 No. 46 - August 5, 2009


Guests at book launch treated to great surprise

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Anna Maria, reveals himself as the author of
"Montooth and the Canfield Witch" at a gala launch
party Friday at the Columbia restaurant in Ybor City.

Robert Shindler was a man who always read to his children. Every night. At one point, his daughter asked him to tell her stories that he made up, not ones that he read.

So Shindler began dooing so, even going so far as to write the stories down and send them to his daughter when he was in Germany working and his children were in the U.S.

That was years ago. More recently, Shindler and Meghan founded a publishing company, Montooth Press. It’s under the umbrella of Cloverleaf Corp., a highway safety products company run by Shindler and his son.

Last Friday was the launch of the company’s first book.

Friends, relatives and guests of Shindler, of Anna Maria, and his daughter, Meghan Shindler Christian, who now lives in Virginia, surprised and delighted their guests when they revealed the author of the first book to be launched by Montooth Press, which the two founded.

To backtrack just a bit, Shindler attended a mystery conference in Sarasota last year and got interested in the business of publishing. That was the front story.

He also met an author at the conference who was looking for a publisher.

This author, or so it’s been said, had a very good young adult book nearly ready. It featured a strong young female character, her friends, a witch and Florida in the years after World War II — not to mention a huge legendary alligator named Montooth.

Shindler and Christian, both being astute business people, organized focus groups to read the book and give their opinions as they worked to target their audience and fine-tune the novel, "Montooth and the Canfield Witch."

The book was officially launched Aug. 1 at Columbia restaurant in Ybor City. Shindler and Christian specifically chose that restaurant because it figured in the book as a hang out for Cruz Cruz, the Cuban, a U.S. Marine veteran and Tampa native who is a bad guy in the story.

Friends and relatives from the Island, Bradenton, Virginia and even Austria were put on a bus and taken to the gala.

"Oh my gosh! This was so well orchestrated," noted Bill Iseman, of Anna Maria. "Did you hear about the highlight of the evening?"

"It was dramatic," said Hildegard Shindler, Bob’s wife and Meghan’s mother. "They got around to passing out bound copies of the book as gifts to the focus readers. There were introductions. Then they finally introduced the author, Robert Jay, of Sarasota."

The author played the room, shaking hands and hugging the family. The focus group members were asked to unwrap their books.

At that point, Hildegard said she looked at the back of the brand new book, saw her husband’s picture and got confused.

"I thought that was sort of nice of the author to allow Bob to put his picture on the back, but it’s supposed to be the author’s picture on the back of the book."

Meanwhile, around the room, the picture is beginning to come clear.

Shindler himself is the author.

"We didn’t start out to keep it a secret," Shindler said. "Meghan and I just didn’t say anything publicly, and then as time went on, we decided it would be fun to keep the author under wraps until the book was actually launched."

And by the end of the evening, even the waiters at the restaurant were lining up to buy the book, according to Hildegard.

Only a few people, including Jolie Bell, of Holmes Beach, figured out the author. Bell and Hildegard Shindler have been friends since freshman year in high school. One character in the book, Miss Cowden, the librarian, is based on Bell.

"I was a librarian, and my name was Cowden," Bell said. "So then I knew it was Robert. I promised not to tell, and I didn’t."

Adele Barnes, a friend and neighbor, said she was thoroughly surprised to learn Shindler was the author, but she wasn’t surprised that he would play such a trick.

"He’s a very funny man," she said. "He has a great sense of humor. Sometimes when I’m out doing gardening, he squirts me with the hose. You never know what he’ll do."

The book has been described by several readers as a sort of Island and Florida Harry Potter.

Shindler has several other books in the series already planned out. No one knows what additional surprises he’s plotting.

"Montooth and the Canfield Witch" is available from Montooth Press for $22.95. Log onto Montooth Press, click on the bookstore link on the left, then click on the book.

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story
Recession, depression, what’s the difference?

Investment Corner

During a recent client meeting, I was asked what the difference was between a recession, a deep recession, and a depression. I was familiar with the definition of a recession, but not so sure of when a recession becomes a depression.

The comical answer is that a recession is when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose your job. Of course there is nothing funny about anyone losing their job, but the ups and downs have been part of the economic cycle since there has been an economy cycle.

Recessions are officially dated by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a group of economists who monitor and measure several economic indicators which factor into the declaration that the economy is expanding or contracting. Some of the factors included in the analysis are employment, industrial production, real income and wholesale and retail sales. In simple terms, a recession is a contraction of overall economic activity, which is why some jobs are lost causing unemployment to rise during most recessions.

The current recession, which may be over already, is being called a "deep recession" because it has lasted as long or longer than any other since World War II. But to put it in context, research from JP Morgan tells us that the decline in gross domestic product has been -3.1 percent since the recession began, about the same decline as the recession in the early 1970s and short of the decline experienced in the early 1950s of -3.7 percent.

Several months ago I wrote an article here in The Sun explaining why I thought the chance of a "depression" were very slim. My reasons were primarily that all of the monetary, fiscal and political mistakes which plunged the country (and the world for that matter) into the Great Depression, were not being made this time around. In fact, the opposite actions were being taken and it seemed unlikely we would spiral into something as severe as was experienced in the 1930s.

A "depression,” by definition, is a decline in economic activity of more than 10 percent. Remember, we have only seen a decline of just over 3 percent so far during this latest period and we are seeing signs of stabilization. The Great Depression, a repeat of which is everyone’s greatest fear, was a monster. The period of the 1930s actually contained two separate depressions. From late 1929 to 1933, total economic activity in the U.S. declined by over 30 percent!

A period of recovery from 1934 to 1937 brought a little relief, but from 1937 to 1938 the economy dipped again, this time to the tune of an 18 percent contraction. It’s no wonder when you speak to someone 80 years old or older they have plenty of stories to tell about survival during that terrible time.

I can’t claim to be able to predict the future, and perhaps I’m wrong and we have another year or so of bad times to come, but even if we sustained another 3 percent decline in the economy from this point, we would be less than one fifth of the way to a decline that started the Great Depression. Take hope and optimism from the fact we have survived worse, and I suspect we will survive this experience as well.

Tom Breiter is president of Breiter Capital Management, Inc., an Anna Maria based investment advisor. He can be reached at 778-1900. Some of the investment concepts highlighted in this column may carry the risk of loss of principal, and investors should determine appropriateness for their personal situation before investing.

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