The invitation to participate in this awesome collection of Florida stories got me to thinking about when and how I came to know and love the Sunshine State. I have never lived there, but my visits left a lasting impression, and a yearning to return and explore more of the beauty that is Florida.
Everyone has their own vision of Florida. For some it is the urban excitement and glamour of Miami, the isolation and island vibe of Key West, or the family adventure of Orlando.
For others the Space Coast inspires awe and admiration for the men and women who took us to the moon and beyond.
The Gulf Coast boasts some the world's most beautiful beaches, with sand so white it looks like snow.
In the Panhandle - my favorite place - there are piney woods and small towns that feel like they fell out of a time warp. Viewing an abandoned hot springs you can picture the resorts that stood there in the last days of the Victorian era, when Northern ladies and gentlemen rode the train down from New England to "take the waters." Chatauqua theaters still stand in many small towns, including this beautiful example in DeFuniak Springs.
If you asked me whether I believe in ghosts, I would have to answer that I don't not believe. But even my skeptical and practical brain has to admit that there are some things you just can't account for, and perhaps a ghost is the best possible explanation. And if I admit to the possibility of ghosts, then Florida seems like a very good place for them.
This the place that inspired my Haunted Gift Shop book series. It's a place I love to visit - in person or just via words and pictures - and my favorite part of Florida.
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And if you're interested in a conversation about Florida in history and in fiction, please listen to our podcast "Hang 10" on Soundcloud, or the enhanced slideshow version (with bonus Florida pictures) on YouTube.