Tag Archives: research

21 Facinating Facts About Florida

I am constantly looking up Florida facts and details for my regional writing. Sometimes these little tidbits end up in my books. I compiled this list from a variety of resources:



  • Florida was not acquired by the U.S. until 1821


  • The Seminole Tribe of Florida is a Federally Recognized Indian Tribe, the only tribe in America who never signed a peace treaty.


  • The bridge to Keys was completed from 1909 to 1912. The Seven Mile Bridge, that crosses between Marathon and the Lower Keys, was built in 1982 – in pieces – then shipped to the Keys to be assembled.


  • The railroad to Key West was completed in 1912.


  • Key West has the highest average temperature in the United States.


  • Founded in 1565, Saint Augustine is the oldest European settlement in North America.


  • The name Punta Gorda, which means, “fat point” when translated from Spanish. The moniker was given to the city because a broad part of the land in Punta Gorda juts into Charlotte Harbor. The harbor itself is somewhat unique, as it is the point where the Peace River meets the ocean. (We have a sea-walled piece of property for sale there if you are looking to buy.)


  • Orlando attracts more visitors than any other amusement park destination in the United States.


  • The United States city with the highest rate of lightning strikes per capita is Clearwater, near Tampa, but it is also in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the most days of sunshine.


  • Young aviator Tony Jannus made history on January 1, 1914 when he flew the world’s first scheduled passenger service airline flight from St. Petersburg’s downtown yacht basin to Tampa.


  • The Saint John’s River is one of the few rivers that flows north instead of south.


  • Miami installed the first bank automated teller machine especially for rollerbladers.


  • Nearly 80 percent of the states intake of sweet Atlantic white shrimp is harvested in Amelia Island waters. Two million pounds of shrimp are delivered to Fernandina docks annually.


  • Florida has 2276 miles of tidal shoreline and about 4500 islands larger than 10 ACRES, and  663 miles of beaches.


  • Greater Orlando is home to 71 skyscrapers. The Suntrust Building is tallest at 441 feet.


  • Highway patrol officers lose their bonuses if they are more than 15 pounds overweight.


  • There are 52 million annual visitors to Walt Disney World Resorts.


  • There are more than 400,000 hotel rooms and 37,000 restaurants in the tri-county area (Orange, Osceola and Seminole) , 144,125 of the hotel rooms are in Orlando.


  • Key West has more bars per capita than any other location in the country.


  • The deepest river in the world, reaching 90 feet of depth and only nine miles is the New River. It was named by native Americans the New River because at one time it flowed underground.


  • Florida produces half the United State’s winter vegetables.

Hitting the Wall

I hit a plot dilemma yesterday and got stuck. Took me a while to figure that one out. Finally broke down and wrote out an outline for the remainder of the book, mind maps of research, more details. This is a picture of my work space. A long while back, when I first started with Scrivener, I took a picture of my desk all nice and clean and organized. Still using Scrivener, and the WIP is neatly filed, but can’t say the desk has stayed very well organized.

best pic desk 002

It’s a work space filled with mind maps, outlines, notes, tools.

Rocket scientist is in Baltimore. Was up at 5 am working on my plot dilemma. Woke up around 9 am with a sore throat, stuffy head, coughing till I peed myself, vomiting, illness. Had the sick granddaughter over on Sunday for 8 hours. So, we know where this came from. Bless her heart. Today is the daughter’s birthday, middle child, she is thirty three. Damn, I feel old.

Have spent the afternoon writing down patois phrases I know and researching others. Got a Jamaican suspect. Feel pretty good about where I am going with this now.  Asians, Hispanics, cowboys, suits, bikers. A colorful cast of characters for my detective and his sidekick, no doubt about it.

It’s a fun write, and I am hoping it will be a fun read. Much different than anything I have written before. Not nearly as serious, although there are serious crimes. This writing requires a transition in styles for me and I do find myself slipping back into old patterns.

My work in the past has been praised for attention to detail, and the novel is filled with descriptive details, but I have to be careful not to get too windy or verbose. We’ll just have to see how the beta readers feel about it when that time comes.

Going to take some Benadryl, some Nasacort spray and try to get a nap now. I’ll be writing again tonight.

27,976 words!

Mental Illness in the DSM-V, Character Development, and Damnation Hospital


I am writing a book about my mother and my aunt, two sisters who both suffered from bipolar in an era when there was even more stigma, and less effective treatment…one committed suicide and the other survives. I hope to be able to represent the familial genetic component, in an honest and realistic observation of mental illness, without contributing to the negative stigma of the disorder.

Kristen lamb wrote a blog post today recommending many books to aid writer’s in learning about structure, character development, motivation, and social media. She stresses continued self-education and I can’t agree more.

One book I was surprised to see in the character development list was DSM-5 (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders 5th Edition) Helpful for characters, dating, the workplace, and family reunions ;).

This is a book, a Bible, if you will, for categorizing mental disorders. It was originally complied for two basic reasons: 1) To aid physicians and research scientists in their practice, and 2) For labeling purposes for insurance companies to use in strategizing reimbursements. I never really thought of how useful it would be for character development.

I had to learn this book from cover to cover when it was DSM-III, and again when it was DSM-IV, so I am feeling one step ahead. It has grown by thousands of pages since it first started out as the wee DSM-I in 1952. Not because we became sicker, though that may be true, but because science fine-tuned research and the labeling process. I know psychiatrists who proudly exclaim that they could attach a DSM-5 label on any living breathing human. Just so you know, we’re all a bit unwell.

I usually have volumes of research books that I use when I am writing, not so many about writing, but about the topics I research when I am writing.

One I am reading now, “Damnation Hospital” is very interesting.9781257193646_p0_v2_s260x420

It is a two book collection, “But for the Grace of God” by the late Peter G. Cranford. This is a look at the history of Milledgeville GA’s Central State Hospital that opened its doors in 1842. World’s Largest Mental Institution and one of the nation’s oldest, located in the center of my home state. Peter G. Cranford was a chief psychologist there in 1952, and along with the institution’s history, there is a diary of his daily experiences. There are many patient profiles, but little about actual treatments…which has been disappointing, as there is so little documented about the era.

Also included in the Collection is a fascinating little story titled “Posey with the Insane and Sane” by Lois W. Lane (yes, that’s her real name). It is about a young black woman while she was a patient (inmate, they called them) at Milledgeville’s hospital (not sure of the time period, I have a letter out to the publisher now, trying to find out), a long time ago. As the story progresses, she gets released, and lives the rest of her life outside of the institution.

I believe there will be much useful information to be gleaned from these two books.

Here is a postcard image of the hospital from the 1950s: Struck me as odd to see a postcard image of a mental institution. Not exactly like visiting Niagara Falls or Yosemite.


Alternate Lifestyle Culture: Sunday Summations



  1. I spent some time going through my emails and deciding how many I could keep and who/what had to go into my Reader. I had to do it. I was staying up late reading everything.
  2. More than reading, I always felt like, if I went through the trouble to click on the blog, I needed to comment.  So I was still spending way more time than I could afford visiting.
  3. I feel like a teenager who has been placed on restriction, but I am, at least, getting a handle on my blogging.
  4. I may not like or comment on all of your posts anymore, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t read and enjoy it. I genuinely appreciate all that you do, sincerely. I continue to learn so much from you and am delightfully entertained.
  5. I have myself on blogging speed dial now, so I can give attention to things I have neglected, so that’s it for structure this week.


  1. I am not going to highlight any other bloggers this week.
  2. I had to spend more time in the real world meeting real people, so I didn’t get much of a chance to look around anywhere new.
  3. This is the Parliament House Resort:

    Parliament House resort entrance by day.
    Parliament House resort entrance by day.
  4.  It is on 10 lovely acres in the midst of downtown Orlando.  A lot of people come to Orlando and only see the Lake Buena Vista resort areas of Disney World, other such family venues, and never see the real downtown of Orlando and it is quite unique as cities go. The Parliament House is a full service resort, complete with hotel, pool, lake, a theater and seven bars (yes, that’s right, seven of them, all with different themes).
    Now Showing
    Now Showing

    They are a LGBT facility that is straight friendly and have events seven nights a week. I had a meeting there with the manager and will be meeting with their event coordinator next week to get the behind the scenes story to some of their theatrical and dance performances.  I call it research, but the double Crown Royal on the rocks wasn’t free (Tax write off?).

    Hotel suites
    Hotel suites


  5. Orlando is a very young city.  Mainly because we had no air conditioning (refrigerated air they used to call it) until the 1950s.  52 million people visit Orlando’s Disney World annually.  That’s a lot of people, and only a small fraction of them make it into Orlando proper to see our lovely city. (Lovely City pics to follow in a subsequent post.)

    Sign on my porch. I am really curious about the Magic Fingers
    Sign on my porch. I am really curious about the Magic Fingers
  6. I have a girlfriend, Nancy, coming to visit from Austin TX on the 14th. She will be here two weeks.  She is one of the two women who really pushed me to publish Red Clay and Roses. I am eternally grateful.


  1. Okay, admittedly not as good as I would have liked for it to be, but I did accomplish something by adding another 4000 words. I am now at 14,561 words (not counting the 30,000 words I have in reference with the old MS, which is still part of the story but is having to be revised/rewritten).
  2. Progress will be better next week because I did get a lot of other stuff accomplished that will aid my progress in the future.
  3. CreateSpace is adding my final text edits, so next we will upload the new cover. Yay! That should only take a couple of days.  Don’t know if it is quite going to get here by my birthday on the 15th, but very close.