Mothers of Sparta Won Gold Medal Florida Book Award

March 22, 2019


I don't like writing about myself. I mean, I'm a memoirist and I'm also self-centered, so I actually do like writing about myself, like, a lot, but I don't like making you read about me tout les temps.


If I were you reading about me, I'd be bored by now. I'd be wanting to hear about some of the things I've promised to talk about: submitting to literary magazines, creativity, whale busses, implied narrator, John Irving's use of quotation marks, getting rid of self doubt as a writer, my recent tilt table test where I blacked out in front of strangers and then couldn't stand upright or feel my tongue or lips or fingers for the better part of three hours. Oh, see what I did there? I slipped right back in to talking about myself. It's so easy.


But I want to announce that Mothers of Sparta won the Florida Book Award Gold Medal for General Nonfiction, and I am really happy to have won this award. Thank you to the book award judges for recognizing my work.


I once heard someone call Florida the "Australia of the North America." It makes sense to me.


Florida is not a normal place. As I said in a Mothers of Sparta essay about Florida "everything in Florida is trying to eat everything else." There are so many things that are literally deadly here. Actual poison things. I say this with love of the place I know better than any other place.


As a long-time Floridian who can't imagine being anything other than a Floridian, the Florida Book Award is special, because applicants, judges, and fellow winners understand Florida as something more than a place to make fun of because we generate so much weird news.






We do generate weird news and I have a theory of why this is. 



I think Florida is a place that draws people to it who think that everything we have to offer--beaches and warm weather, and blue skies ...all this will somehow fix them. People who need to be healed come to Florida, and well, not all people are able to be healed.


Quick aside: I also have not analyzed this scientifically, but I suspect that 85% of our weird news comes from the greater Tampa area. Hillsboro Country is the Australia of Florida. Just saying.


I swam in gator-infested canals as a kid, practically lived at the beach during high school, survived the Broward County school system, though I have been playing autodidact catch-up for years. I went 27 days without power after Hurricane Wilma,  regularly stop my car to let iguanas, turtles, ibis, and muscovy ducks and trails of ducklings stroll across the road. Half my neighbors are #floridaman and I spend hours per quarter at the dermatologist getting skin cancers burned off my face. I can kill a bufo toad with a shovel, know what Payne's Prairie smells like in all four seasons (summer, love-bug season, tourist season, and hurricane season) and have swum in at least ten cold springs. 


I'm a Florida girl, dagnabbit. The Florida Book award means a lot to me.


Here is a link that lists all Florida Book Award winners for books published in 2018.


Here is my stalwart WLRN's post about the winners from South Florida.


Congrats to all winners!


There will be an award ceremony in April. I'll be there. And in case you are not from Florida and you think Florida is all weird news and theme parks and heat stroke and crazy South Beach excess, please know that Florida is about so much more.  It's made up of generous people. Kind people. People with a unique take on life. People who speak many languages and come from many places. People who know how to take it easy, and to generally be patient with one another. Open-minded people. People who have seen a lot of crazy $h*t and know how to roll with it.


If you have time, take a look at these photos. Imagine what it might be like to sit in an inner tube in a cold spring, lazy anhingas drying their wings on the tree canopy above you, wild boars snuffling through stumps and leaves, and manatees swimming under you as you float downstream. This is Florida, too, and there ain't nothing like it in the world.


Thank you to the Florida Book Award judges!






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