Monthly Archives: July 2016

Why Florida is a great place to be as a writer

TortugaBaywEHA

Tortuga Bay has been nominated in categories such as mainstream/literary, women’s fiction, YA historical fiction, YA fiction, and YA/New Adult/Coming of Age

Tortuga Bay has been doing very well in the literary competition race this year in Florida, which prompted a thought: How important is Florida as a center for writing?

This question can be sliced a lot of different ways, but as a social scientist and economist, I thought one way would be to look at employment. Presumably writers tend to locate in places where opportunities to flourish would be greatest. We would naturally expect places such as Los Angeles and New York to be havens because of the concentration of the entertainment industry. But what about states like Texas, or Florida, which are large states but where our industries are perhaps less developed?

So, I went to the U.S. Department of Labor and dug up labor force data by occupation (May 2015, the most recent available right now). For those that are data hounds, the classification is Writers & Authors OES code 27-3043 under the larger classification of Independent Artists, Writers & Performers.

As expected Florida does well.

Overall, the nation employed 43,380 people who listed writers & authors as their primary occupation. The top two states–California and New York–employed one third of the nation’s writers and and authors. Florida ranked fourth, just below Texas. The top six states employ half of the nation’s authors & writers.

State Employment % of Nation
1 California 7,890 18.30%
2 New York 6,710 15.56%
3 Texas 2,340 5.43%
4 Florida 1,770 4.10%
5 Pennsylvania 1,550 3.59%
6 Illinois 1,460 3.39%
7 Ohio 1,250 2.90%
8 Virginia 1,190 2.76%
9 Massachussetts 1,180 2.74%
10 District of Columbia 1,170 2.71%

When broken down by metropolitan area, the dominance of New York and Los Angeles are clear. The New York City metropolitan area alone employs 15% of the nation’s writers and authors. The Los Angeles metro area employs another 12%. Chicago has the next highest concentration with 5.5%. Thus, the top three metro areas employ one third of the nation’s writers and authors. Miami, with 510 writers and authors, ranks well outside the top 10 among metropolitan areas.

This raises an important question: Even though Florida does not have a dominant metro area, what explains the state’s ranking? Quite simply, Florida writers are distributed across several metropolitan areas as the table below shows.

Metropolitan Area Authors & Writers % of State
Cape Coral-Ft Myers 40 2.26%
Deltona-Daytona Beach 50 2.82%
Jacksonville 120 6.78%
Miami-Ft Lauderdale 510 28.81%
Orlando-Kissimmee 350 19.77%
Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titsuville 30 1.69%
Port St. Lucie 50 2.82%
Tampa-St. Petersburg 350 19.77%

More than half of our states writers and authors are employed in Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Orlando-Kissimmee, or Tampa-St. Petersburg metropolitan area. We are spread out over the state. Unfortunately, data for Gainesville and Tallahassee were unavailable because of their small size, but the pattern is pretty clear: Florida’s authors are spread out geographically, suggesting no metropolitan area has a defined competitive advantage within the state.

In short, Florida is a good place to be a writer. We have one of the  nation’s highest concentrations of writers yet geography does not see to play as important a role in where we live and work.

 

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Tortuga Bay advances in Royal Palm Literary Awards

Tortuga Bay makes semifinals in four cross over categories at RPLA

Tortuga Bay makes semifinals in four cross over categories at RPLA

I am really excited to announce that Tortuga Bay, the second book in the Pirate of Panther Bay Series published by Southern Yellow Pine Publishing, has advanced to the semifinals in four categories in the Royal Palm Literary Awards: Mainstream/Literary published fiction, Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction (published), and Young Adult/New Adult fiction. These accomplishments simply reinforce the cross over appeal of the Pirate of Panther Bay series, something I had sensed but really didn’t have good evidence to support my thoughts.

TortugaBaywEHAThis adds to Tortuga Bay’s wins in the Florida Authors and Publishers Association President’s Awards in Young Adult Historical Fiction and Young Adult/New Adult/Coming of Age. (We won’t know until August 6th whether the book wins a gold, silver, or bronze medal.)

Perhaps the highest profile success so far has been becoming a Finalist in the Eric Hoffer Books Awards.

The next step for RPLA is to wait to see if Tortuga Bay makes it into the finals. If that happens, I’m off to Orlando again in October.

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Amazon links to “Unsafe On Any Campus?” are now live!

Unsafe On Any Campus? College Sexual Assault and What We Can Do About It.

Unsafe On Any Campus? College Sexual Assault and What We Can Do About It.

I am happy to report that the amazon.com links to Unsafe On Any Campus? are now live! I also discovered that pre-orders have hit #53 in the rankings under political science/public policy/abuse.

  • Amazon print $14.95: http://bit.ly/UnsafeAznPrint
  • Amazon kindle ($4.95): http://bit.ly/Unsafekindle

Pre-orders for $3 off are still available through Southern Yellow Pine’s website using the coupon code READ: http://bit.ly/syppunsafe

And, of course, we have an amazing line up of experts for our public forum and launch event at Element3 Church on July 28th, at 7:00 pm.

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Tracy Lawson’s “Ignite” piles on action, conspiracy and ideas

Lawson,InciteI have previously reviewed Tracy Lawson’s first and second books (Counteract and Resist) in her dystopian Resistance Series, and I am enjoying how her story is arcing and taking shape.

In Ignite, the third book, the characters are becoming more complex, their personal struggles more nuanced. The plot is not just thickening, it’s becoming more layered. New, quirky characters are added with enough foreboding and mystery to keep us hooked. All these are signs of a series that is maturing and is growing with its readership.

One of the great benefits of science fiction, and YA dystopian literature in particular, is the ability to create worlds that grapple with larger issues that can be difficult to address in contemporary novels. The Hunger Games may be one of the most famous examples, where Suzanne Collins used her novels to explore the effects of violence on children, power, and society. Lawson—winner of the 2016 Best YA Fiction award from the Texas Writers Association—follows in this tradition although her ideas are more straightforward and more clearly embedded in the plot.

Tracy Lawson, author of the Resistance Series

Tracy Lawson, author of the Resistance Series

The premise of the series is actually not that fantastical—another trait of good science fiction. Using the threat of imminent terrorist threats, including biological attack, the federal government has developed a serum that inoculates the public against the threat. In truth, public officials use it to control the population. One of the more fascinating subplots is how these public officials seize control of the government apparatus by essentially sidestepping the traditional policy making process. The country still has an elected president, but the real power is in the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense (OCSD). Anyone who has observed the growing power of the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection since the 1970s will have no trouble believing this kind of political ninjitsu (but this is another story for another blog).

Ignite picks up where Resist’s cliff hanger left the reader—the lead character Careen Catecher has been wounded in an explosion that destroyed the student center at the local university (geographically in the Midwest). She is captured, and as a leader of The Resistance she is a coveted prize for the nefarious leader of the OSCD, Madalyn. Meanwhile, Tommy Bailey hides out in the mountains with other leaders of The Resistance looking for his opportunity to rescue her.

While Ignite continues the star-crossed love story of Tommy and Careen—and the most important thread that holds the series together—its role as the literary vehicle that carries the tension and plot of series becomes more clear as the fourth novel ratchets up conspiracies to new levels. The conspiracies challenge Tommy and Careen, but also relationships between families, allies, and enemies.

But Lawson adds a substantive twist to this series and story that is rare in contemporary literature outside of authors such as Ayn Rand—she fuses economic and political commentary into the plot and character arcs. As times become more desperate, the government has seized control of the “commanding heights” of the economy, particularly food production and distribution. The government has banned private grocery stories to prevent price gauging and to ensure fair and equitable distributions of food (and, of course, give the government more control over the distribution of their mind control drug).

But this strategy backfires because Lawson understands economics. She uses basic economic principles to lay the foundation for growing civil unrest, something we’ve seen over and over again in real life. Lawson cleverly uses access to an essential commodity—food—to show the inevitable social and economic dysfunction that arises when policymakers fail to remember that one single entity can’t coordinate the distribution of goods to meet consumer desires and needs efficiently. Inevitably, the product that the central authority—usually the government—attempts to control, becomes more scarce. When policymakers ignore this insight, gleaned from way too much human tragedy in history, shortages result. (Think Venezuela today, but also North Korea or Cuba, or the former Soviet Union.) The masses are deprived of basic goods and services while the politically connected have privileged access. If the shortages persist, civil unrest is often inevitable. The OCSD is not immune from these economic principles, which are robust enough to almost be called laws.

While some of the dialogue tends toward the Randianesque—focusing on content more than action—the tension created by this dynamic propels the plot so the reader gets a healthy dose of ideas on top of emotional tension and conflict. Whether Lawson’s YA readers will grasp this substance has yet to be seen, but so far the Resistance Series has been selling. Regardless, by adding this substance, Lawson adds complexity that reflects a literary evolution of the series that will suit her readers as they mature with the books.

If you haven’t had a chance to read the first two books, Lawson is promoting the third book with a free giveaway of the first two books (in ebook versions July 19-20, buy Ignite: Book 3 of the Resistence Series from amazon (http://amzn.to/295WBYY). Then, send the receipt to tracy@counteractbook.com. She’ll then send you free downloads of the first two books for free.

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Book release and public forum for “Unsafe On Any Campus?” event details

Unsafe On Any Campus? Public forum details for July 28, 2016

Unsafe On Any Campus? Public forum details for July 28, 2016

Unsafe On Any Campus? College Sexual Assault and What We Can Do About It will be officially released at a public forum and discussion on campus sexual assault at Element3 Church in Tallahassee on Thursday, July 28th. All the details are now set, and the public forum will include an A-list line up of experts on campus sexual assault.

  • How many students become victims of sexual assault on college campuses?
  • What can students do to protect themselves and their friends?
  • What are colleges doing to address campus sexual assault?
  • What questions should every student ask their college admissions officer?

These and other questions will be answered by participants in a discussion moderated by Sam Staley, author of Unsafe On Any Campus?

Doors will open at 6:30 pm with the program beginning at 7 pm and wrapping up by 9 pm. Red-Eye Coffee and refreshments will be provided, courtesy of Element3 Church and Southern Yellow Pine Publishing. The forum will be highly interactive, maximizing audience input and questions. We will also be running a simultaneous Facebook event so anyone from around the world can participate and ask questions. (Details on this to follow.)

Here are the details on the speakers:

ruthkrug_photoRuth Krug

Ruth is a certified trauma-sensitive yoga trainer, mindfulness teacher, and campus rape survivor based in the Midwest. She is also a Restorative Justice practitioner who has worked in local public schools at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels. A graduate of Florida State University, she majored in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences with a focus on political science, nonprofit administration and economics. Ruth’s healing journey is chronicled along with other survivor stories and testimonies on her blogs Feeding the Heart and Reclaiming Lost Voices.

 

Christopher Krebs

Christopher Krebs

Christopher Krebs, PhD 

Chief Scientist, Center for Justice, Safety, and Resilience, RTI International

Chris has extensive research experience in the areas of corrections, substance abuse epidemiology and treatment, intimate partner violence and sexual violence, HIV transmission among and associated high-risk behaviors of offenders and inmates, criminal justice systems, and program evaluation. He has led and worked on a number of projects for the National Institute of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. He has employed both quantitative and qualitative methods in his research and has extensive experience designing studies, developing survey instruments, analyzing data, and disseminating findings. Dr. Krebs has published and presented numerous research papers on a wide variety of topics.

 

Jennifer-Broomfield_mediumJennifer Broomfield, LISW, JD

Title IX Director, Florida State University

Jennifer is a licensed attorney and clinical social worker. Prior to coming to FSU, Ms. Broomfield served as the National Program Manager for the Department of Veterans Affairs Intimate Partner Violence Program. Ms. Broomfield has served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Children’s Legal Services Department of the Office of the Attorney General for the State of Florida where she investigated and prosecuted sexual assault and child abuse dependency cases. Additionally, Ms. Broomfield has been an adjunct professor of social work at undergraduate and graduate programs in New Mexico.

 

rrezaeiRose Rezaie, MEd

Assistant Director, Center for Health Advocacy and Wellness, Florida State University

Rose’s main responsibilities include overseeing campus wide initiatives at FSU encompassing sexual violence prevention and sexual health education. Rose received her Bachelor’s in Mass Communication and Master’s in College Student Affairs from the University of South Florida. Creating space where students feel empowered to take ownership of their lives through education and skill building serves as the foundation of her work. Outside of FSU, she enjoys attending community events, thrift shopping, and traveling.

 

kpruettKori Pruett, MS

Power-Based Personal Violence Coordinator, Florida State University

Kori’s main responsibilities at FSU include educating students on the dynamics of sexual violence, the myths that surround sexual violence, ways to obtain and define consent, empowering students through bystander intervention, and informing students about campus resources and support. She is also the Co-Chair of the Curriculum Development Sexual Violence Prevention Sub Committee. Kori received her Master’s and Bachelor’s in International Affairs from Florida State University. In her spare time she participates in community service organizations, enjoys outdoor adventures, and travels to as many new locations as possible.

You can still get your copy of the book for $3 off on pre-orders through SYPP’s website! Use the coupon code READ.

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