Helpful Hints for RWA® Nationals Florida-style

Like several of you, I’m counting down the days until I board that plane headed to Orlando. I invited 2010 Golden Heart® finalist, Abigail Sharpe, a Florida resident, to give us a few pointers about what to expect. And, wow! Am I ever glad I did. This California gal learned that things are a bit different than what I’m used to. I hope you find her fun tips as helpful as I have. ~ Keli


Abigail Sharpe is a current Golden Heart® finalist. Her entry, Who Wants to Marry a Cowboy, earned her a spot in the Contemporary Single Title Romance category. Abigail has been seriously writing for about four years, and this is her first Golden Heart final. She loves to infuse her stories with humor, because, as she says, “Who wants love without laughter?”

Abigail is a displaced Yankee living in North Central Florida and is the only female member of her household.  She’s worked as a computer lab operator, a hostess for birthday parties at an arcade, a market researcher, a lingerie saleslady, a secretary, a clerk in a costume shop for Halloween, and a technical writer. See what’s on her mind at Abigail Sharpe, Romance Writer.



The Florida Dictionary

by Abigail Sharpe

Welcome to the state where the air is so thick it’s commonly called soup and any primping you do to your hair is undone within seconds of stepping outside. I’ve put together some terms that you should become familiar with before your stay here.

3:30 pm: When the torrential rains happens, give or take half an hour. Every day. For about ten minutes. The air around you turns heavy, the sky darkens with foreboding clouds, and the temperature drops about ten degrees. Thunder rumbles continuously and loudly, and it’s a little freaky if you’re not used to it. Take cover and wait. It will be over soon.

Bath Water: What the pool feels like after baking in 90+ degree heat all day. A dip is not so cool and refreshing. The Swan and the Dolphin host five heated pools with whirlpools, fountains, and waterfalls.

Downtown Disney: One of the nightlife options. It’s divided into three sections. West Side has a movie theater and a Cirque du Soleil show. Marketplace is a great place to buy Disney merchandise without going to the parks.  And Pleasure Island has restaurants and shopping, though some places may be under construction. (Click here for more information.)

Expensive: The cost of everything. But when you’re hot and thirsty, $3 for a bottle of water sounds like a good deal. There are options for getting groceries while at the hotel. One is GardenGrocer, and the other is Goodings, though I haven’t used either one.

Flip-Flops: Footwear of the natives. If you’re trying to figure out if a person lives in the Sunshine State, look at the feet.

Heat Index: What the temperature FEELS like, as opposed to what it actually IS. Average temperatures for late July run in the low 90s. Add in the lovely heat index, and even a balmy 90 degrees can feel like 100.

The main ingredient in soup.

Mayhem: What you’ll experience if you venture to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. Don’t attempt to go unless you’re OK with a non-stop mob scene.

Nightlife: What you can do after the conference is done for the day, with several options. See Downtown Disney and Universal CityWalk.

Orlando: Where you’re not actually going. Disney is located a few miles south.

Sunscreen: Absolutely vital if you want your skin to remain heroine smooth and creamy. The rays here are brutal. Even if you’re not planning on being outside for very long, wear sunscreen.

Sunshine State: Florida’s nickname. Other nicknames include “Lightening Capital of the World” and “Wow, It’s Really Hot Here.”

Universal CityWalk: A 30-acre entertainment complex with nightclubs, restaurants, and shopping. Among its attractions are Emeril’s, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, and a Hard Rock Café. CityWalk is about 15 miles away from Disney property.


The 2010 conference is my first, and I’m thrilled that it’s in my backyard. If you have any other questions, ask in the comments and I’ll try my best to answer them for you. See you soon in a city south of Orlando! ~ Abigail

About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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42 Responses to Helpful Hints for RWA® Nationals Florida-style

  1. Keli Gwyn says:

    Thanks for your article, Abigail. Because of your clever Florida dictionary, I have a much better idea what to expect when I step off the plane in Orlando. Sounds like I might want to pack an umbrella as well as plenty of sunscreen. 🙂

  2. Rita says:

    Hilarious and ever so true. Thanks for sharing Abigail

  3. Mary says:

    Great dictionary!

    Hoorah! I’ll fit right in with my flip flops. What can I say, I’m a beach girl at heart. 🙂

    Thanks for the fun post.

    See you at Nationals!

    • You’ll fit right in, Mary! I’m actually flip-flopless at the moment, as my favorite pair broke. I’m trying to decide if I love them enough to superglue them back together.

  4. Dianne says:

    Funny, but accurate. Great blog, Abigail. Very best of luck for the Golden Heart.

  5. Leigh Duncan says:

    Another hint: If you’re heading to the theme parks, check Disney’s and Universal’s on-line ticket prices before buying through the RWA-recommended site. By purchasing through the parks’ websites, you get a 10% discount.

  6. Gillian Layne says:

    Can’t believe I’m actually going–I’ve been on the fence about it for a while. I’ve only been to Florida once, about twelve years ago, to Sanibel Island. I’m so excited about meeting all of you!

    • I’m so glad decided to go, Gillian. I want to meet all the Unsinkables and it will be pretty hard to do it if you’re not there. *laugh*

      Sanibel is lovely. And sunny. And sandy.

  7. Sherrinda says:

    Great post! I sure wish I could go, but alas, I just can’t this year. And about the flip flops…we Texans live in our flip flops almost year round! lol

  8. Angi Morgan says:

    A great post, Abigail! Just what I needed to begin my day.

  9. Lynda Bailey says:

    Thanks for the info, Abigail!
    I do have a question or two:
    I’m interested in going to Downtown Disney sometime to buy souvenirs to rub in people’s faces – I mean to give to loved ones not lucky enough to join me in July. 😉 Would you recommend the Marketplace or Pleasure Island? Are they gi-normous inside malls or big outside strip ones? Are they close together? Can you take a shuttle/cab to one and walk to the other?
    Again, thanks for sharing your knowledge. Can’t wait to meet ya!

    • *laugh* My Golden-Heart nominated friend went to Disney and all I got was this lousy t-shirt. 🙂

      For buying souvenirs, I’d recommend the Marketplace. Everything is gi-normous and outside and they are all clustered together. It’s a ten minute shuttle-ride from the hotel and the shuttle leaves every twenty minutes.

  10. Hmm… do I want to look like a native and bring my flip-flops?? The minute I open my mouth I’ll be exposed as a Yankee. But what the heck! New flip flops and a teeny portable umbrella (I’m wise to the daily drenching *s*). RWA here I come!!
    Thanks, Abigail!

    • You’re welcome, Jen! Bring the flip-flops and try out the southern drawl. I’m a transplanted Yankee and have been known to drop my Rs and say “y’all” in the same sentence.

      Portable umbrellas are the way to go.

  11. Mary Lawrence says:

    Thanks for the tips, Abigail. There’s no way I’ll be confused with a native. They sport those lovely tans while I sport Maine alabaster ala poison ivy and black fly bite scars. I’ll be the one wearing pants all the time.

    • You’re very welcome, Mary. Though I don’t have a lovely tan. I have a tan up to where my sleeves meet my skin, and then I’m pale, pale, pale. And silly me bought dresses without sleeves for Nationals!

      Poison ivy, not so good. And I don’t think I’ve ever had an encounter with a black fly. It doesn’t sound like fun.

  12. Susan Mason says:

    Sigh! I love Orlando. Haven’t been back for a while now, but one day I will get back. Even if it’s with grandkids in tow. Although I think my teenagers would still go with us.

    Yes, it is very hot there in July. Which is why when we went with the kids, we chose November as a good time. WHen you’re going to be outside in parks everyday – all day – November was a good month to do it!

    But you gals will be cool inside the lovely resort. Disney does do everything right, so I imagine you’ll have a wonderful experience there. There are magical happy vibes in the air there!

    Have fun everybody. I’ll be thinking about you.


  13. MaryC says:

    Great blog Abigail. I so wish I was going to Orlando. Instead I’m already planning for next year here in NYC.

    I had to laugh at this – Flip-Flops: Footwear of the natives. If you’re trying to figure out if a person lives in the Sunshine State, look at the feet.

    My daughter – who attended college in Maine – wears them almost year round because, in her words, “Mom, I lived in Maine, anywhere else feels like summer.”

    Best of luck with the GH!

    • Thank you, Mary! It seems I was a little Florida-centric with my flip flop statement! I’m sorry you’re not able to go this year… but I won’t be able to go next. 😦

      It is definitely convenient to have the conference in your backyard.

  14. Anne Barton says:

    Thanks for the fun and informative dictionary, Abigail! I’m sad to hear about the humidity–remember the episode from Friends where Monica’s hair got huge the moment she stepped off the plane in Barbados? That will be me!

    Congrats on your GH nomination. I hope you and all the Unsinkables have a fabulous time!

  15. Lena says:

    Great post Abigail! Good luck in the Golden Heart. And don’t forget to remind everyone that blinkers are optional equipment in Florida. And when it starts raining, people start sliding around on their bald re-treads. Watch out for us Florida drivers!

  16. Myra Johnson says:

    Great info–thanks, Abigail! And congratulations on the GH final!

    We’ve never done the Disney World thing, so we’ll be staying an extra few days. I know my Visa bill is going to be outrageous by the time we get home!

    And packing my flip-flips and sunscreen right now!

    • Thank you Myra. And don’t forget the umbrella 🙂 …though you can buy ponchos at the parks. It’s definitely worth it to do the Disney Thang if you’re traveling. Well worth the outrageous bill.

  17. Flip flops!
    Good luck in the Golden Heart!

  18. Elisa Beatty says:

    Thanks for the great and hilarious advice, Abigail! Can’t wait to meet you in Orlando. I’ll be the one with the seriously frizzed-out hair. (Humidity…ouch!!)

  19. Oh, Elisa… I wish I had some advice on how to maintain the frizz. Good luck. 🙂

  20. Diane says:

    I have cousins and an Aunt that live in Florida and it is all true. Great list! :O)

  21. Abigail, thank you so much for mentioning the 3:30 “Oh my God, is that a tornado warning?” rain. I tried to warn local friends, but I don’t think they believe me. I’ll be there to comfort them when they find I was right 🙂

    Loved the rest of the definitions. My daughter and granddaughters may join us. My daughter asked if her dad would go on the rides with them. Of course I said yes. I plan to stay in air conditioning while I imagine my husband riding teacups in the “soup”. Yes, I’m a cruel woman with a vivid imagination. He gets to spend quality sweaty time with our granddaughters! Pout.

    Best wishes on the Golden Heart! Hope to meet you while I’m there!

    • Debra, thanks for the wishes. 🙂

      I remember my first rain. I was too young to drive, but my father pulled over since he couldn’t see out the windshield! *laugh* Enjoy the A/C while you wait for the grandkids to return – and laugh at your hubby who will look like he went swimming with his clothes on.

  22. pjpuppymom says:

    Great blog, Abigail! I call the Carolinas home now but I lived in Florida for 24 years and you nailed it!

    Hope you enjoy your first RWA National. I’ll be volunteering at the registration desk Wednesday morning. Stop by and say hello if you get the chance and be sure to get your “First Timer” ribbon when you check in!

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