Fabulous Florida: Experience the Sunshine State

I’m a Florida writer. I love my adopted home because, well, what’s not to love? We live in paradise. We wear flip flops year round, drive convertible cars, drink margaritas by the pitcher, and get invaded by pirates once a year (in addition to Yankees, Cardinals, Tigers, Braves, Bears, Seahawks, etc.). Everybody wants to escape cold winters, so we see friends and family (maybe a little too often). And no state income tax. Truly a situation where less is more, hmm?

Right here, lemme tell ya, it’s heaven on earth. We Florida writers capture as much of it as we can. We have the Space Coast, Treasure Coast, Emerald Coast, Miracle Strip and even the Redneck Riviera to showcase. Florida was home to the great Travis McGee, and I like to think he lives here still. One day soon, perhaps I’ll drive over to Cassadaga, the town where residents are mediums, fortune tellers, and spiritual healers to find out.

The Michigan/Florida connection is strong here, too. Why, St. Petersburg was almost named Detroit instead, and would have been if General John C. Williams had won the coin toss. Even the Walloon Lake, Michigan, writer Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote in Florida. How much better does writing get? ‘Nuff said.

My non-Florida-loving friends think otherwise. We’re crazy to live here, we’ve been told. After twenty years and researching six novels with loads of Florida atmosphere, I now see our friends have raised some valid objections.

If you’re thinking of relocating, here are 5 Things You May Not Know About Theย Sunshine State:

We do have the occasional hurricane. But we’ve never had more than four in one year. For the most part, we see ’em coming and we can get out of the way. Not that we all do. But we can. Usually.

True, we’ve got spiders galore, snakes the size of your waist, bugs as big as a baby’s foot, and mosquitos by the ton.ย Think about how many mosquitos it takes to weigh a ton. That’s right, we’re not allowed to fog the state with DDT. Rarely do three of these species come inside the house at once. (Unless you’re talking about two-legged snakes. I wasn’t.)

Dogs and cats are sometimes attacked by gators. The low-down scaly gators, not the University of Florida alumni. (Although you get those alumni fired up during the football season, and you just never know what they might do.)

Our politics do swing both ways, making it a little dicey to attend neighborhood cocktail parties during voting season. On the other hand, we’re allowed to carry guns and we can stand our ground, so there’s fewer long, exhausting arguments than you might suppose. Besides, most people are pretty fit here, so we run faster.

Sure, there are a bunch of us already living here. Fourth largest population state in the country, behind California, Texas, and New York — in that order. This does make our road system a bit congested, especially when the forty million tourists arrive each year. Yes, many Floridians are past our prime. Yet we’re healthier than oldsters elsewhere. Why, more than 200 people over the age of 100 are still driving cars in our state. Imagine that!

So you can move to Fabulous Florida and experience all we have to offer first hand. Or you can read all about it in books by Florida writers from your easy chair. Ignore the traffic, forget the bug spray, put the puppy in her safe, warm bed by the fire, grab a big glass of Cabernet and enjoy Florida in comfort. Because science has recently proved that reading novels is as good as physical experience for most things, and a lot cheaper, too.

What about other things? Well, for those, reading is even better.

Tell us about your best Florida experience — physical or virtual!ย Do you have a favorite Florida author?


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34 Responses to Fabulous Florida: Experience the Sunshine State

  1. Fabio Bueno May 17, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

    Diane, greetings from the Rain State. Thanks for taking us on a quick trip to Florida. I like warm weather, but I’m not moving soon. I think I’ll just visit your state. Not that I’m annoyed by spiders or snakes–but mosquitos, well…
    Congrats on being one of the top indie writers on Amazon!

    • Diane May 18, 2012 at 9:18 am #

      Well, thank you, Fabio. I appreciate your noticing! As for “the Rain State” — seriously? Love all that green up there, and the blackberry pie is to die for. Not to mention your great coffee. But the rain, um, not so much. See, when it rains in Florida, it’s a temporary thing. We have sunshine before and after, and it’s never cold rain that seeps into your pores and keeps you shivering. Come on down (just bring your mosquito repellant along!)

    • Louise Behiel May 18, 2012 at 9:23 am #

      what list Fabio? I’m not surprised but I can’t find it

  2. T.D. Carpenter May 17, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

    Favorite Florida author well living I would have to say Carl HIassim and/or Dave Barry as far as experiences well let me just say after residieng in West Palm Beach for aout 12 years I would have to say “loved the weather”…

    • Diane May 18, 2012 at 9:15 am #

      Carl Hiaasen and Dave Barry are indeed Florida treasures, T.D. West Palm Beach is a gorgeous place, but Palm Beach is truly special, don’t you think? The Breakers is one of the nicest hotels in the country, surely?

  3. Serena Dracis, Author May 17, 2012 at 11:57 pm #

    My friend’s parents live in Florida and they are always raving about it. I’ve never been but I would love to visit. I’d love to see a space launch, but I’ll skip the theme parks…been there, done that on the West Coast. My ambition is to see the Keys and swim with a manatee. Love me the big sea cows! Love this post, Diane!

    • Diane May 18, 2012 at 9:13 am #

      Thanks, Serena. Maybe next time I’ll do a post about the manatees. They are amazing. You can swim with them in some of our “theme parks” as well as nature parks. And don’t get me started on the Keys. Love, love, love them! Oh, and I’ve been to West Coast theme parks — they ain’t got nuttin’ on the Florida ones!!

  4. Debra Eve May 18, 2012 at 2:31 am #

    I really didn’t need to see that bug. Ew! I’ve never been to Florida, but would love to visit sometime, especially after reading Carly’s Conspiracy!

    • Diane May 18, 2012 at 9:11 am #

      We’d love to have you, Debra! Come on over from the “left coast” and see us! As for that bug — the first time one of those things came in my house, I was pretty hysterical. Did I mention they can FLY???

  5. Jennette Marie Powell May 18, 2012 at 9:20 am #

    LOL first thing I thought when I read “what’s not to love” was hurricanes! I do enjoy visiting Florida, though – especially in winter! And I love books set in Florida! (I also love books set in Alaska – maybe they’re both sort of exotic?) In fact, I’m reading one right now – True Vision, by Joyce Lamb – and really enjoying it! I need to pick up another of yours, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Diane Capri May 18, 2012 at 10:03 am #

      Totally with you on the hurricanes, Jenn. I’ll take ’em any day over unpredictable tornadoes and earthquakes or blizzards and floods, though! So far, I don’t know of any Paradise that’s without natural hazards, but I’ll keep an open mind on that! I loved Alaska when we visited there. Truly gorgeous. But waaaayyyyyy too cold for me! Thanks for reading. We Florida writers appreciate it!

  6. Louise Behiel May 18, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    nev er been to Florida, but I’d love to come. one day soon, I’ll bring my grandchildren and we’ll come touring.

    • Diane Capri May 18, 2012 at 10:04 am #

      Love to have you, Louise. We get zillions of Canadians here, especially in the winter. Great people, and we’d be pleased to have a few more to visit. As that “Price is Right” guy used to say, “Come on down!”

  7. Amber May 18, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    Hello, fellow Florida girl! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m a transplant, too. Came here from Connecticut when I was eight, and aside from a few adult years in WA state, I’ve been here most of my life.

    I wanted nothing more to escape (I hate heat) when I was younger, but I’m finding peace with it being my home now. It really does have a lot of great things. I LOVE being close to water no matter where I go, especially all the beautiful springs.

    Now, if I can just get a Trader Joe’s near me…


    • Diane Capri May 18, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

      Trader Joe’s does seem to be a common wish list item for Central Florida folks right now, Amber. ๐Ÿ™‚ We already have Whole Foods, Fresh Market, and of course, the amazing Greenwise and farmers’ markets galore. But Trader Joe’s would be very nice, for sure! Gotta love the water, and the best beaches in the country, too!

      • Amber May 18, 2012 at 9:20 pm #

        Wait…you are a CENTRAL Florida girl, too?? How did I not know that? Me too!

        You know that there is not only a TJ in Naples now (a family favorite for vacation) but soon to be one in Gainesville – totally close enough for a little weekend jaunt!

        • Diane Capri May 19, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

          Well, the grapevine says we’re getting one in Tampa, too. They’re scouting locations. Several have been mentioned. Stay tuned…..

  8. Pat O'Dea Rosen May 18, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

    Florida has been a year-round or part-time home to a host of writers, from Majorie Rawlings (hope I got her name right) to Dick Francis. Not only am I a Hiaasen fan–I’m a Diane Capri fan. (Am reading and enjoying Don’t Know Jack.)

    • Diane Capri May 18, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

      Soooo glad you’re enjoying Don’t Know Jack, Pat! It’s my best seller so far — by a wide margin. That Reacher dude sure has a lot of devoted fans, doesn’t he? Yes, we have many, many writers here, both full-time residents and snowbirds. It’s fun to meet everyone. Sort of the way I imagine the film world is in California. Thanks for reading and for the kind words!

  9. August McLaughlin May 18, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    YOU are my favorite Florida author! I lived in Miami for two years, before moving to LA. Can’t say I loved living there, but the ocean and colors were beautiful…as were the lessons I learned there.

    • Diane Capri May 18, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

      WOW, August! (Please don’t bust this glow I’ve got going here by saying I’m the only Florida author you know!!) I’ve spent a lot of time in Miami, but never lived there. I suspect if I lived in that area, I’d probably choose Coconut Grove. The folks I know who live in Miami do love it though. Always something going on there. And they have a great writers’ community. Very active. Thanks for reading and for the ego boost!

  10. Marcy Kennedy May 18, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

    We used to go to Florida every year for Christmas when I was a kid. It was lovely to visit, but with hurricanes, all those giant bugs and other creepies, and alligators eating pets, I don’t think I’d want to live there ๐Ÿ™‚ But I’m also spoiled. I live in one of the few areas of North America where we don’t have to deal with hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and very rarely tornadoes (the last tornado was nearly 30 years ago). We don’t have poisonous snakes or spiders. Our worst condition is winter snow.

    • Diane Capri May 19, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

      Now, see, Marcy, you had me there until you got to that last sentence…..

  11. Debra Kristi May 19, 2012 at 2:19 am #

    We have family in Florida. It is very beautiful out there. Of course, we can’t seem to go there without spending plenty of time at Disney World. The kids just won’t stand for it! LOL Now there’s that whole Harry Potter thing going on. I believe we are overdue for another visit. You have pointed out some great exotic residents of your lovely state, but that hasn’t enticed me to move there. ๐Ÿ˜ You roused a chuckle out of me with the picture of the car and all that talk of healthy elderly drivers. That would be my grandfather if my grandmother would only let him have the keys. Hahaha!

    • Diane Capri May 19, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

      Some of this post was maybe just a little tongue-in-cheek, Debra. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But Disney World is an amazing place. A few years ago, we took some international exchange students there. Three young women, two from Philippines and one from Bangkok. It was so much fun to see their reaction to everything. They knew all the Disney characters already and were thrilled from the moment we saw the signs on the freeway. I haven’t had that much fun in years — before or since. Sometimes we Americans can be a bit jaded about one of our National Treasures, hmmmm?

  12. Meredith Rae Morgan May 19, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    I moved from the Midwest to Central Florida full-time fifteen years ago. When I come up over the high bridge and see the ocean, I still gasp every time. I cannot believe that I live by the ocean and can go to the beach every day (weather permitting). I don’t like going very far inland for very long.

    I’m not a fan of creepie-crawlies, but I love storms and we’ve got dandies here. I love Florida fiction, too. Hiaasen and Dave Barry are awesome. Tim Dorsey almost got me kicked off a plane once. The first few pages of “Orange Crush” had me howling before the plane left the gate. The guy sitting next to me was openly nervous about sharing a seat with a lunatic during the whole flight.

    • Diane Capri May 19, 2012 at 7:10 pm #

      Tim would be delighted to hear that, Meredith! He only looks like a mild-mannered reporter…I suspect that he’s really Serge A. Storms in his off hours, you know? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Maybe I’ll ask him next time I see him……

  13. shannon esposito May 19, 2012 at 8:12 pm #

    I’m giggling here in Florida, Diane. I guess that’s what makes you a fabulous writer, you really nailed it in a short blog post. ๐Ÿ™‚ The first time I met a palmeto bug, I had a sore throat from screaming and ending up under the dining room table. Who the hell decided those nasty things should fly?!

    • Diane Capri May 19, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed the short tour of Florida’s highlights, Shannon, one Floridian to another. ๐Ÿ˜‰ A USF bug guy told me, “Palmetto bugs don’t want to be inside any more than you want them there. If they don’t get out quickly, they’ll die.” I’ve found a few dead ones inside from time to time, so I’m choosing to believe him–and sleeping with the lights on!!!

  14. Karen McFarland May 22, 2012 at 4:28 am #

    Aw Diane, thank you for the quick tour of your neck of the woods! Since I did spend plenty of years in Arizona, I do know about snakes, reptiles and bugs. But now I’m back along the southern California coastline where my husband and I first started out together and we love it. Can’t complain about the weather either, although we are prone to earth movement from time to time. Now that’s a lot of fun! Not! But really, is there a perfect place? I’ll take the beach and break out the flip flops thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Diane May 22, 2012 at 9:07 am #

      So Cal is truly a beautiful place, Karen. Totally understand why you’d love it there. Thanks for stopping by and for the comment!

  15. Reetta Raitanen May 22, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

    What a lovely introduction to Florida, Diane. I’m living on the wrong side of the pond but visiting Disney World and Everglades one day is on my bucket list. I wouldn’t mind the Harry Potter park either. Until your books, I haven’t read one set to Florida. But I’m a huge CSI Miami fan.

    • Diane May 22, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

      Definitely come and see us, Reetta! We’d love to have you. We get many visitors from your side of the pond every year. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for commenting!

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