Southern Fiction Author, Freelance Writer & Retired Clown

Best of 2017: Stories of St. Augustine’s People, Places & Positivity

Hold on…where did 2017 go?

I vividly recall a quiet evening around the firepit with friends on New Year’s Eve 2017. There was a lot of laughter and a little booze and a brief intermission when we tried to reunite a lost dog with its owners (we were ultimately successful and Sarah McLachlan did not have to get involved). It was a great night, and then I blinked, and now suddenly it’s New Year’s Eve 2018.

Does it feel like it went that fast for you, too?

Jeez. I guess two job changes, a couple of whirlwind adventures and a hurricane makes time fly!

Anyhow, I couldn’t let 2017 come to a close without reflecting on a few of my favorite freelance pieces from this past year. I’ve really had so much fun writing for First Coast Magazine and St. Augustine Social Magazine. Every time I think I know everyone in my little seaside community, I’m introduced to someone new with an incredible tale to tell. It’s been my honor to share their stories.

Below are a few of my favorites to enjoy at your leisure (maybe while sipping some coffee or hot cocoa as this New Year’s Nor’Easter blows through!). 

Wishing you and yours the best for 2018!

– Shannon

The Kelley-O’Brien Estate: A Hidden Treasure

Getting inside this house has been at the top of my bucket list for almost 20 years, since the first time I saw it when I was 13. Despite the long build-up, nothing about this incredible place — from its one-of-a-kind architecture to its incredible history — was a disappointment. Dive into this piece in First Coast Magazine and you’ll fall in love with the Kelley-O’Brien house just like I did.

Read the story »

JUDITH DEMBOWSKI AND ST. FRANCIS HOUSE ARE FIGHTING HOMELESSNESS IN ST. JOHNS COUNTY

Affordable housing is an issue I’ve been passionate about for a long time. It’s a crucial issue for St. Augustine, but thanks to folks like Judith Dembowski, Executive Director of the St. Francis House, there is hope that we will reach net zero homelessness in St. Johns County. I really enjoyed talking to Judith and learning more about the programs offered to homeless families in our community through the St. Francis House. Read this piece from St. Augustine Social to learn more.

Read the story »

A HOME WORTH FIGHTING FOR: THE BARNWELLS’ NAUTICAL PARADISE IN DAVIS SHORES

The Barnwells kindly invited me into their home on the morning they were hosting a huge celebration for all the friends and family who helped them rebuild their dream home after Hurricane Matthew. The impacts of Matthew and Irma (which hit St. Augustine just days after I finished this story and devastated the Barnwells’ home for a second time) will be felt for generations. But as the Barnwells proved, that impact isn’t all bad. Past the physical and emotional scars left by a hurricane, you find the true heart of a close knit community.

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TRAINING HEROES: GRETA HALL OF THE ST. JOHNS COUNTY FIRE RESCUE

St. Augustine has a host of wonderful, dedicated public servants, including Greta Hall. Class by class, person by person, Greta has been training citizens across our community in how to save lives through CPR and AED machines. She was my teacher when I was certified through the St. Augustine Lighthouse, so it was great to have this opportunity to tell the world about the sacrifices and hard work Greta puts in to make our community safer.

Read the story »



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