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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Honey, You'll Never Guess What Rolled Up in the Surf

By Joanna Campbell Slan,


“Florida is a giant bug light for crazy people.” ~ Phyllis Smallman, Sleuthfest 2014

It’s no surprise to any author living in Florida that some of the craziest stories we can write are actually inspired by true events in our sunshine state. Join us in exploring a different side of Florida than the travel bureau promotes with our first Blog Hop sponsored by Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Read on, click the links below to read another member’s view of crazy Florida, comment, share your favorite stories, and enter the contest to win a Kindle Paperwhite.

When people learn that I write mysteries, they ask, "Where do you get your ideas?"

You never know what will wash up in the surf.

My answer is, "They roll up in the surf."

When I first moved to Florida, I walked the beach for seashells. Some days I found a lot. Some days, not so much. But quickly the shells became secondary to the other wonderful, weird, and wacky items that have made their way to the shore.

I have found:

1. Toothbrushes -- By the handful. In fact, I'm convinced that dentists must hold conventions weekly where they toss toothbrushes over the sides of boats. How else can you explain the plethora of toothbrushes. I mean, these are a daily find!

2. A hard hat -- In bright orange. I wondered if the wearer fell overboard, or if he simply got tired of wearing a plastic helmet in the sun. (I only found one of these, but I did admire it for weeks.)

3. Syringes -- With needles. (This convinced me not to go barefoot in the sand. I'm especially careful of piles of Sargasso, the seaweed that gives the beach its distinctive odor. You never know what's inside those weeds.)

4. Vials of drugs -- This particular tube held insulin, but other beachcombers have found cocaine. Or so the police have told me.

5. Shoes -- But never a pair. And never Jimmy Choos. Or Christian Louboutins. Sigh. Still, a girl can dream.

6. Fishnets -- Not stockings, but the stuff that gets wrapped around the necks of turtles and seabirds. These I collect and take home to put in the garbage. I also pick up plastic bags. Turtles swallow these, thinking they are eating jellyfish. The bags fill their stomachs, causing the sea turtles to starve to death.

7. A boat full of marijuana -- One-point-seven million dollars worth to be exact. The smugglers set sail at eleven p.m. from Bermuda. They didn't account for how choppy the sea was, so they overturned on the beach right off my backyard. I woke up to a swarm of helicopters and DEA agents. Then came the media trucks and reporters.

I have not found a raft, but my neighbor did. Imagine the desperation that might drive someone to hop on a bunch of branches roped together and set sail for a distant shore. Nor have I found gold, but another neighbor discovered a cannon full of gold coins.

There's so much to love about Florida. And if you are a mystery writer, you don't need to go looking for ideas. They'll wash up in the surf.

Be sure to enter our giveaway for a Kindle Paperwhite. a Rafflecopter giveaway

No purchase is necessary. You must be at least 18 years old to enter. By submitting your entry, you agree to be entered into the participating authors' email newsletter list. Your information will not be shared with anyone else, and you may unsubscribe at any time. Winner will be notified by email. Authors are not responsible for transmission failures, computer glitches or lost, late, damaged or returned email. Winner agrees for their name to be used in conjunction with the contest on FMWA and authors' social media sites. U.S. Residents only due to postage constraints.

 Check out the posts by these other Florida writers--and enter to win the Kindle Paperwhite:

Victoria Allman, Gator Bites,

Miriam Auerbach, Bonkers in Boca,

Gregg E. Brickman, Crazy South Florida—How it got to be home,

Diane Capri, Fishnado!,

Nancy J. Cohen, Characters Too Weird to Be True,

Joan Lipinsky Cochran, The Million Dollar Squatter: Crazy in the Land of Coconuts and Bagels,

jd daniels He Did What?

Joy Wallace Dickinson, “In Florida, It's Great to Be a Cracker”,

Linda Gordon Hengerer Crazy Treasure on the Treasure Coast,

Vicki Landis, Eavesdropping 101,

Sandy Parks, Keep your eyes to the Florida skies,

Neil Plakcy, Moscow on the Intracoastal

Johnny Ray Utilizing Google Plus Air to Facilitate Author Interviews,


Gregg said...

There are lots of stories in that sand! Good, descriptive blog.

Victoria Landis said...

I think you should give us a quick heads up of your most recent finds at the monthly meetings. :)

Joanna Slan said...

Thanks, Gregg! I bet you've taken photos of a lot of beach junk.

Joanna Slan said...

You know, Victoria, that's a grand idea. Maybe my finds would stimulate our creative juices.

Sue Cox said...

I used to live in South Florida and knew for certain that anything anyone wrote about it is overtaken by the reality. Even Carl Hiassen's books seem pale by comparison!

Joanna Slan said...

Sue, you've got that right. It's an amazing place, isn't it? Even if you don't eat roadkill.

Cecilia said...

Very interesting post! I grew up in north Florida and I loved exploring the beach to see what I could find. I enjoy your Kiki books. :-)

Miriam Auerbach said...

And how about the giant squid eyeball that once rolled up. About a foot diameter, as I recall.

Joanna Slan said...

Cecilia, there's something new every day out there on the sand. I hate it when I miss a day of beachcombing.

Joanna Slan said...

Miriam, you have to be kidding me. Ugh. Glad I didn't find that.

Joy Dickinson said...

A boat full of marijuana. Wow. Your descriptions of the odd stuff the turns up on our beaches brought back a good childhood memory. When I was a kid, my dad used to give these things weird, pretend scientific names. "Look, it's a rare beerius canius," or some silliness. Enjoyed this, Joanna.

Nancy J. Cohen said...

Toothbrushes and needles, ugh. No dead bodies? I suppose that's better viewed in our fictional works.