Food, Crime, & Crafts!


Drum roll, please!

I have a new release!

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It is a short story anthology and I am one of 15 award winning authors in it. You will note the 6 after Happy Homicides. This is volume six of a very successful series. Each anthology has a theme. Sometimes it is a holiday, but this time it is FOOD!  Each of the fifteen stories has a food element to it. There is also a bonus pdf file of recipes and crafts. (Instructions on how to get the bonus are on the last page of the anthology.) You will want the book and the bonus. My story features my Southern-Latina character, Lilly Hardin Hernandez. If you are one of my close friends you might have been a beta reader for my unpublished novel, Pinche Guey which is her series. My recipe in the bonus is for Southern Caviar, a favorite dish of my to take to potlucks and barbecues.

Happy Homicides 6: Cooking up Crime is on sale for .99 until Nov. 5th. Get it while it’s HOT!

To promote this release there is also a gift basket being raffled.

cookin up crime prize smaller

Win a Cook’s Dream Basket at

I hope that you will take advantage of these promotions. This series and especially volume 6 is great. It has been an honor to be included. These authors are seasoned storytellers. You will enjoy each and every one of these 15 stories. Please leave a review on Amazon and/or GoodReads so that others might find the anthology.

Look back here for interviews with each of the authors over the next weeks and months.

Oh Maria, Maria, She reminds me of a West Side Story


Maria hit Puerto Rico 15 days ago.

La Isla del Encanto is indeed enchanting. I lived there for over a year. I met my husband there (but didn’t know it at the time). I still have friends and family (in-laws and Cuban cousins). My connection to Puerto Rico is strong—- as is the USA’s connection. It is a complicated history.

Take a moment to read up on what and how Puerto Rico has contributed to the USA. Beyond the musicians and actors : Rita Moreno, Ricky Martin, Daddy Yankee, Hector Levoe, Raul Julia , Benico del Toro, and even Rosie Perez (thanks to her parents moving to NYC)– Beyond the creative talents, the USA has benefited greatly from Puerto Rico in other ways. Their beach have been used as target practice and their people have been medical guinea  pigs.

Take a moment to think about being without power and water for 15 days. If you read in Spanish even a little you should be able to make out the headlines and updates on this Puerto Rican news outlet. The island and its people are in dire need of support to help them rebuild after Maria. Here is a local grassroots fund that I recommend.

Thank you.




Summer is my Winter.


Miami mornings in the summer are 90% humidity at 85 degrees BEFORE sunrise. Trust me when I say it feels like you are walking in pea soup. The air is so thick your lungs feel like there is a 50 lb weight on your chest. So, when I say Summer is my Winter, I mean it is my time to hibernate. Instead of a warm cave, it is my AC chilled living room. It is my time to recharge and do nothing.


So far, I’ve done a lot of catching up on series. I highly recommend GLOW on Netflix. It gets the late 80s perfectly.The music. The fashion. The attitudes. And it gets the women of that time, too. I should know as I was a young adult then.

There is also CLAWS on TNT. Why? Isn’t it obvious? It is set in South Florida and it starts Niecy Nash! I love her!


In other news…

My novel Jeweler’s Mark is a finalist in the International Latino Book Awards!

Jewelers Mark w award

That means I get to put a shine gold sticker on the cover!

19221755_1971003886466862_3521970117142382679_oI will have exciting news in October. Along with freebies for those of you that subscribe to my newsletter. Not on the list? Click here

Do you have a novel bouncing around in your head but can’t get it started? If you live in South Florida then I have help for you. (This is my baby. I’ve helped organize it.) Sept 23rd Florida-Mystery Writers of America is presenting an all day FREE workshop called – ALL WRITE- Jump Start Your Novel. It is a day of mini-workshops with professional authors from four different genres. Each author will offer writing prompts to get the grey matter zinging and your fingers tapping the keyboard. Bring your lunch and favorite writing media -laptop or notebook. This is going to be an exciting day of creation and comradery.

What do you do in the Summer? Let me know in the comments section.

I’m going back to my air-conditioned cave to watch my shows. Hibernation ends in late August. See you then.




To Live & Write in FLA- Sezin Koehler


Sezin Koehler

Sezin Koehler  “Zuzu” has lived in 18 cities in 13 countries. That certainly makes her unusual but not nearly as unusual as what she writes. Her first novel, American Monsters, is a postmodern feminist horror story set in Southern California’s rave scene. Her second novel, Crime Rave, is a supernatural noir novel with feminist zombies and a smog goddess. Sezin is also the first person I’ve ever heard compare Marilyn Monroe to Frida Kahlo. If you can’t tell by Sezin’s head-dress, she, like me, is a Frida fan.



How long have you lived in FLA?

I’ve lived in South East Florida since December 2011 when my husband and I moved to his hometown of Boca Raton after almost a decade living around Europe.


Where do you write and when?

I have a home library here in Lighthouse Point with my McGuyvered standing desk where I do most of my writing. I was tickled to learn that Ernest Hemingway, who wrote the majority of his novels here in Florida (Key West), also worked at a standing desk.

I write every day, but my projects vary. Sometimes it’s essays, journalism, or a variety of assignments. Other times it’s short stories or my novels, of which I have about 4 in the works.

I also regularly write in a journal most every day, which consists of brainstorming, random notes and observations, potential avenues for research and even everyday venting.

Standign Desk

 What is your biggest failure and what did it teach you?

In a way I’m living my biggest failure at the moment, which is that I’m not making even close to even a minimum wage as a writer if I take into account how many hours I spend writing, researching, and pitching stories + how much I eventually get paid. It’s really testing my patience and my resolve to keep going on a regular basis. I think not being financially successful as a writer wouldn’t be such a big deal if I had a part-time gig of any kind with regular hours and pay, but living where I do has made securing that kind of work a singular challenge.

I also suppose that my biggest success is also my biggest failure: I’m an eclectic wordsmith who enjoys writing about a variety of different topics. My various pieces that have gone viral have been about such diverse issues it makes it difficult to build a following. Even my novels are genre jumping because I get bored writing in the same style for such extended periods of time. My lack of specific thematic focus is often considered a hindrance in today’s publishing world that requires a writer to pick a specialty and write mainly toward that.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?  Or do you have some personal writing advice to offer?

The best piece of writing advice I’ve ever received is from Stephen King from his brilliant On Writing: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.” This is the piece of advice I give everyone who asks me about becoming a writer. Also, patience. If you don’t have time to read and you don’t have patience, you’re better of doing something else with your time rather than writing or trying to build a career as a writer.

Who is your Dead Dream Date and why?  (Literary or otherwise)

I’m torn between Frida Kahlo and Marilyn Monroe. Frida I relate with on so many levels, like producing raw art from places of deep pain and finding beauty in lifelong hardships. We would drink tequila straight from the bottle and share battle scars, emotional and otherwise. Marilyn Monroe is someone I’ve been fascinated with since I was a child. In the world of my novels, she never died and her daughter is one of my favorite characters. Marilyn fascinates me because, and in many ways like Frida, she gave a beautiful face to the world while there was so much pain, sorrow, and insecurity underneath. I’d just like to give her a big, warm hug and tell her I’ve always understood.


6) Favorite cocktail or N/A drink and at what Florida bar?

There are only a handful of bars with outside seating in my area; I don’t live in Florida to sit shivering inside an arctic watering hole. 😉 One of my favorite local tiki bars Galuppi’s is actually tucked into the Pompano Beach Golf Club. I also enjoy walking over to our local Bonefish Mac’s here in Lighthouse Point. I always order a tequila neat, no lime, and a sparkling water on the side. See why Frida and I would get along like gangbusters?

Follow Zuzu on her social media accounts: Tweeting about politics, Facebooking about writing and culture, and Instagramming her growing collection of art and tattoos.


To Live & Write in FLA- Stephanie A. Smith


No need to give you a lengthy introduction to my next interviewee. Stephanie A. Smith has a diverse list of published books. She studied with Ursula K. Le Guin and she, too, has suffered through 1st vs 3rd POV. (I’m in that swamp right now! Send me help.)

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How long have you lived in FLA?

I have lived in Gainesville, Florida since 1990, twenty-seven years now. I moved here to take a job as a Professor of English at the University of Florida, after doing my PhD in American Literature at UC Berkeley. I was already a published novelist, with my first novel from Athenaeum in 1985. I was 25.

Where do you write and when?

I write every morning, every day, in the kitchen, standing up. I get up at 5:00, take the dogs out, make breakfast, take the dogs for a walk and am at my computer by 8:30-9:00. I write from 9-noon and then I usually quit to do other work. On the other hand, I am always composing scenes or rethinking what I wrote that morning as the day goes on, so I always carry a notebook to jot notes down. Sometimes, I give myself Sunday off.

What is your biggest failure and what did it teach you?

I wrote a novel in third person and then entirely re-wrote it in first person for two years before I gave up on it entirely. I still have a version of it in hard-copy, but it doesn’t work in either voice. What it taught me was how to write first and third person properly.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received? Or do you have some personal writing advice to offer?

Best advice I ever received was from my college room-mate: find a living author you admire and try to take a class from them. I did this: I worked with Ursula K. Le Guin when I was 19, and she has been my friend and mentor most of my adult life. I learned so much from her about persistence, perseverance, literature and living the writing life. My own advice: never give up, no matter what. If you are a writer, you must write.


Who is your Dead Dream Date and why? (Literary or otherwise)

I am a lucky person. I’ve already had my dream dates in real life with a. Ursula K. Le Guin b. Toni Morrison and c. Michael Cunningham. I’ve had lunch and/or dinner with all three of them. If I were to choose the dead over the living, it would be F. Scott Fitzgerald, sober. In every single case, because they wrote some of the most beautiful and moving sentences I’ve ever read. Wouldn’t mind meeting Marilyn Monroe out of sheer curiosity and because I’ve written about her.


Favorite cocktail or N/A drink and at what Florida bar?

Classic gin martini, at any bar, although I love the bar at the legendary
Don CeSar in St. Pete Beach, where Fitzgerald belted a few back.
martini glassesPlease visit Stephanie’s website. I love her WordSmith videos and her encouragement to writers. Ask her a question in the comments section of this post. PSSSSST …. maybe about Le Guin!

See you back here in two weeks for another Florida author interview.

To Live & Write in FLA- Irina Gonzalez


Do you see me doing cartwheels? Well, I am. At least in my imagination as I was never good at them IRL. My excitement is over this installment’s guest, Irina Gonzalez. She is Cuban-Russian. Yes,that is a thing. Those of you that have read my novel Jeweler’s Mark know that is has a Russian theme and even a minor character with a Cuba-Russia connection. (The butcher in the Russian shop.) The Russian theme will continue in book two of the series and now I have a research source other than Google. There is more than just my selfish reasons to be excited about Irina. She is a freelance writer/ journalist, an aspiring YA author and the food editor for the online magazine Brit + Co. Without further ado—- Biennvenidos, Irina.


How long have you lived in FLA?

My family moved to Florida from Russia/Cuba when I was 8 years old, and I grew up first in Miami and then Fort Myers on the SW coast. I moved away at 18, but came back a year ago and have happily settled back in the SWFL area ever since.

Where do you write and when?

I write primarily in my home in Fort Myers, and I am a full-time freelance writer and editor so I work pretty “regular” hours. I wake up, walk my dog, make breakfast and start my day around 9am. I typically spend my mornings doing my editor work as the Food Editor at Brit+Co, and my afternoons writing for various publications.

What is your biggest failure and what did it teach you? 

My biggest failure has been not speaking up in the past when something bothered me or when I truly believed in a story, but my editor did not. Fighting for the pieces I believe in is something I’ve slowly learned to do over the years, but I wish I had learned this sooner. And, honestly, it’s still something I need to practice more!

Speak Up

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received? Or do you have some personal writing advice to offer?

The best writing advice I’ve ever received is also the best advice I’ve ever received, and that is: BE KIND TO YOURSELF. When I moved out of New York City after 12 happy years, my therapist left me with those words. At the time, I was going through a difficult time in my personal life and had decided that I needed to recharge and refresh back home in Florida. Since then, delving back into my writing career, I’ve learned that being kind to yourself is key to success, both in life and in writing. As for my personal writing advice, I would say that the best thing I’ve learned myself that I always tell to newbies: NEVER GIVE UP! Pitches fail, stories don’t work, there’s always a new reason to quit being a writer… but perseverance is key in this career, and you just have to keep going and going and going until you achieve success. And then you keep going some more.

V0025894 Macbeth meets the three witches; scene from Shakespeare's 'M Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images Macbeth meets the three witches; scene from Shakespeare's 'Macbeth'. Wood engraving, 19th century. after: William ShakespearePublished: - Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

Who is your Dead Dream Date and why?  (Literary or otherwise) This is going to be THE most standard, boring answer but, my Dead Dream Date would definitely be Shakespeare. I’m sure every other writer and their mother would give this answer, but William Shakespeare meant a lot to me growing up. Macbeth remains my favorite play, and I’ve seen many successful iterations of it and it still gets me every time.

Favorite cocktail or N/A drink and at what Florida bar?

I don’t drink as I am in recovery, but the juices at First Watch (where I often eat brunch) are always a favorite go-to. 

Gracias, Irina. I, too, love his Scottish play & Wonder Woman. 

Please follow Irina on her blog, twitter, & instagram. And ask her a question in the comment section below.

Irina, maybe you can recommend a delicious N/A drink recipe for my monthly newsletter?  Sign up for “Gigi’s Jewelry Tips & Drinks” newsletter in the left hand column.

Join me in two weeks for a new installment of Cozy in Miami and meet another interesting Florida writer. 






To Live & Write in FLA- Carol J. Perry


I know it is April, but can we pretend it is October? In South Florida, October is about the time we all start leaving our air conditioned caves to venture outside. The weather becomes bearable and Halloween decor incites us. I think Carol J. Perry  lives in a stasis of October and I am jealous. She was born in Salem, Massachusetts. AND to make matters more magically ….. born on All Hallow’s Eve! I hope you enjoy her interview and if you are not already a fan of her Witch City Mysteries get to reading them.

Grave Errors

How long have you lived in FLA?

I’ve lived in Florida for forty three years!  (I hadn’t added it up lately and the answer surprised me. That’s a long, happy time away from New England winters!)

Where do you write and when?

I write in a once-upon-a-time Florida room, now a cozy, messy office. I usually begin early in the morning, (it’s 4:17 AM now) and write on and off until about noon.

Carol Perry, Gulfport

What is your biggest failure and what did it teach you?

Perhaps I’m too much of an optimist to think about “failure.” Can we call it a learning experience? Anyway, once back in the beginning of my freelance career, I queried and got an assignment from Ford Times. The editor gave me a clear indication of the way the article should cover the proposed subject. I wrote it the way I thought it should be. Rejected, of course. The lesson? Follow the damned directions!

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received? Or do you have some personal writing advice to offer?

Here’s a piece of advice about writing: “Visualize, have faith, and work your ass off.”

Who is your Dead Dream Date and why? (Literary or otherwise)

Literary Dead Dream date is Ernest Hemingway, not so much for the picking of his brain about writing, although that might be part of the conversation. I want him to take me fishing. I’ve done some big game fishing, (blue fin tuna, marlin) but I’d love to fish with the master!


Favorite cocktail or N/A drink and at what Florida bar?

Not much of a drinker. I like wine—usually white wine. My favorite place to drink it is the Miami Avenue Wine Bar in Indian Rocks Beach, where they have music, an art gallery and a “book nook” where they carry my books!

Ask Carol a question via the comments section.

Remember there is a new Florida author interview every two weeks and a newsletter with jewelry tips and cocktail recipes. (sign up for it in the left column)

To Live & Write in FLA- Valerie Willis


I’m pleased to introduce you to a rarity— a REAL Floridian! Valerie Willis is a 6th generation Floridian. That is just unheard of in this state of tourist, retirees, and snow birds that averages 1,000 new residents per day.

Valerie writes a couple of different series. A Paranormal Fantasy Romance Series featuring an anti-hero called Cedric and the  Teen Urban Fantasy series Tattooed Angels. She mixes mythology, folklore and history into her storytelling.

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How long have you lived in FLA?

All my life! In fact I was sixth generation on the same road in my hometown, Winter Garden. At one point, most of the neighborhood was related by blood or marriage, so it was very small town feel. As for how long my relatives have been there, I can only guess as far back as the late 1800’s due to a conversation I had with my Great Grandma. She knew it was originally “Mosquito County” and the specific area where we were living was labelled “Rattlesnake Ridge” – talk about mind-blowing!

Where do you write and when?

I attempt to write at home, but often the household is a little too distracting for me. My default writing is making a date on the weekend with my laptop. The two of us go to a Wi-Fi savvy café or diner to indulge in coffee and finger foods. On occasion, thanks to Writer’s Atelier and the literary community in Orlando, I get to frequent write-ins at least once a month. Something about being in a room full of writers really spurs the word count out of me.

What is your biggest failure and what did it teach you?

My biggest failure was trying to edit while writing the first draft. There are no words for the level of frustration, the amounts of writers block, and a long list of headaches attempting to do this caused. My mentors started fussing at me for it, so I started leaving notes behind in lieu of editing. The speed in which the first draft finishes is a huge difference. I learned that you can’t where two hats at the same time, you’ll only weigh yourself done and make yourself miserable and even drive yourself away from a beloved story. When you are a writer, WRITE! When you have a finished first draft, then put on your Editor’s hat and EDIT!


What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?  Or do you have some personal writing advice to offer?

I suppose I sort of revealed this in my above response. As for some personal writing advice to offer, I would have to say to not give up. Only you can write the story, share what’s in your head. Try not to be your own obstacle. Make time to write, where one hat at a time, and if you can, reach out to writers and surround yourself with a supportive group who inspires you to write and learn from one another.

Who is your Dead Dream Date and why?  (Literary or otherwise)

I would have loved to had the opportunity to talk about writing and Japanese history with James Clavell. It was his work that showed me you can be historically accurate as well as manage a plot with multiple characters. Much of his style of writing inspires me, but I am also a complete geek about oriental history. I would love to have had a conversation over dinner and wine while having a nerd moment with him.

Favorite cocktail or N/A drink and at what Florida bar?

When they have it, Kopparberg’s Strawberry Lime Hard Cider at the Copper Rocket in Maitland! I frequent there with Writers of Central Florida for open mic readings, so it’s become a very fond place for me. That and they carry my favorite Hard Cider on occasion!

strawberry-lime-wine-recipeFollow Valerie on  social media: facebook, twitter, and GoodReads.

And read her humorous real-life tales on her blog.

I’ll be back in two weeks with a new Florida Author interview. Sign up for my newsletter (form in left side column)  and get a monthly jewelry tip and drink recipe from Gigi, the jewelry designer sleuth in my Love & Diamonds series.



To Live & Write in FLA- Alethea Kontis


Welcome back to all the Cozy in Miami readers. Maybe that should be an  ‘I’m back!’? I’ve recuperated from SleuthFest and have lined up some exciting authors for 2017’s edition of To Live & Write in FLA. Don’t forget to sign up (column to your left) to get new posts to this blog delivered directly to your inbox. 

I’d like to introduce you to Alethea Kontis. Although we have never met IRL, we know each other via an online Florida writers group. I think I will soon have to visit her as she’s promised to bring homemade baklava! Being that she is Greek I’m betting it is probably very, very good. A few other things to know about this New York Times bestselling author: She is a princess. She is an authority on Fairy Tales. She writes children’s books, YA, and adult paranormal/fantasy. And there is so much more… but, onto the interview.

DCon parade 2014

How long have you lived in FLA?

3 years

Where do you write and when?

Lately I’ve been working at Port St. Java (Port St. John) once or twice a week, but mostly I’m at home on the couch—nothing fancy. As for work hours…well, if I’m breathing, I’m writing.

 Alphaoops-cover  Once-Upon-A-Kiss-Kindle  CatsWolves v.5

What is your biggest failure and what did it teach you?

My biggest failure: Every romantic relationship I’ve ever had.

What did it teach me: How to write angry. How to write sad. How to write evil. How to write hope. How to write a broken heart. How to write a happy ending. But mostly, how nothing and no one is worth sacrificing my career and my family.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?  

The best advice I’ve ever received…it’s hard to put into words. It was more of an attitude, really. I had no formal creative writing education growing up—I was a child actress and science nerd who majored in Chemistry. But that never stopped me from writing and learning everything I could about the publishing industry. And when my mentors finally did appear—Orson Scott Card, Andre Norton, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jane Yolen, Jude Deveraux—they never treated me like a wannabe. They said things like, “Just write the novel.” Or “When are you coming back over to work?” Or “Get used to it.” I might not have known I was a “real author,” but they did. I just needed to see myself in their mirrors. Even now, I hear their voices in my head, and I get back to work.

So if you’re a writer, listen to your mentors. Let them be hard on you. Trust them. Remember their voice in your head. And if you don’t have one, I’ll be that voice for you right now: Go write that novel. Go back to work. Writing is hard. Get used to it.

Who is your Dead Dream Date and why?

Not fair—there are so many to choose from! Off the top of my head, I would love to sit and visit with Ellen Raskin. Ellen is best known for her Newbury Award Winning book (and best mystery of all time) The Westing Game, but my favorite of hers was called The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues. Ellen also worked in the industry as a graphic artist—among the hundreds of covers she produced was the first edition of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. She died when I was eight (right around the same time I started reading her books).

I am such a huge fan of authors like that—Ellen Raskin, Astrid Lindgren, Lewis Carroll, Diana Wynne Jones—renaissance people with diverse interests who wrote genius level books for subversive young misfits like me. They challenged me to be even smarter, and made me feel like having a Giant Brain maybe wasn’t such a bad thing after all.


Favorite cocktail or N/A drink and at what Florida bar?

I really don’t do bars or cocktails. My favorite Florida evenings are spent shrimping with my dad on the pier out past the Mercury 7 memorial in Titusville. It’s always so beautiful and peaceful out on the water, under the stars. And no matter how many shrimp we catch (or don’t), I always high-five John Glenn on the way back home.

Check out Alethea Kontis on her website, twitter, and facebook.

I’ll be back in two weeks with a new Florida author interview.

7 days and counting


SLEUTHFEST is only 7 days away!


I am thankful to have something to focus on rather than the news. If you follow me on twitter then you’ve seen my obsession with it. It is our civic obligation to be watchful and knowledgeable about our government. But, these last 28 days have  me dizzy trying to keep up with being informed. I’ve recently found this site that bullet points the day’s happenings. It has helped me have time to read the longer think pieces and counterpoints which do help my blood pressure simmer down, some. Now with SleuthFest only a week away, I really need to shift the focus back to me and mysteries. (aka self-care) Take a look at the three-ring binder that I’ve gussied-up!


One of my volunteer jobs is organizing the on-site registration table. There are thirteen folks rotating through in shifts over three days. They will pass out conference credentials/nametags and answer all kinds of questions. The most asked questions: Where’s the bathroom? Where’s the luncheon? Sometimes, I think the registration table has an INFO sign blinking in neon above it. I don’t mind the questions as I like to meet people and help the lost. Admittedly though, most of the answers are in the  program book. Hard to believe writers sometimes don’t read and research! Let’s blame it on the proximity to so much star wattage. With David Baldacci in attendance the wattage is pretty damn hot this year.


The number and variety of panels and workshops can also get a person turned around and flummoxed. There are 49 to choose from! Add onto that— lunches with guest speakers, agent/editor mixers, trivia night , book signings, the raffle baskets, and the live auction. I’m particularly excited for the trivia night. Not because I am a mystery trivia buff but because it is sure to be filled with goofs, gaffs, and laughter. I’ve donated a basket (My book Jeweler’s Mark, a bottle of prosecco & one of peach liqueur, bellini flutes and more)  to the raffle so buy lots of tickets. I’m also planning my book buying budget as the bookstore will be stocked with the titles of the panel/workshop authors. My budget will get blown but at least I’ll have reading material for six months!

Other fun and a personal goal I’ve set for myself is to get #SF17 to trend on social media. Yes, it is a shallow and meaningless boast to say we trended but, I will have so much fun doing it! You can help! Use the tag #SF17 and/or #SleuthFest on facebook, twitter, instagram, and pintrest. Tag all your conference photos. Anytime you see a flamingo (our mascot is Freddie the Flamingo) take a selfie with it and tag it.

See you there!