Discover more from My Current Obsession
Giveaway Alert! Rebecca Renner's debut nonfiction book, GATOR COUNTRY
To catch a Florida Man, you have to become one, and that’s what Jeff Babauta does in my literary true crime debut GATOR COUNTRY. The tricky old wildlife officer faces off with the wiliest of poachers
TLDR: Click here to enter.
You may not have realized it, but today is a major occasion. Or at least it feels that way to me. Today marks the first day of giveaways for my debut book, Gator Country: Deception, Danger, and Alligators in the Everglades. As many of you already know, Gator Country has been years in the making.
I started out with nothing, an outsider to the literary world. While I was living in an apartment-sized house on the edge of the swamp, I watched as journalists and writers who the world judged more worthy of telling stories than me come to the place where I grew up in Florida, get nearly everything wrong, and then leave. I yearned for the day when I could finally tell my own story. Hell, I yearned for the day when someone would finally tell Florida stories right.
Determined to make my way as a writer while still having to make ends meet as a teacher, I strived through the dark of night and the wee hours of the morning, eking out as much time as I could to write. Through all this struggle, I thought of my dad, who had died a few years before then, but in his life, he always believed in me. I knew that if I couldn't succeed just for myself, I would succeed for him.
Gradually, I began to make friends with the Florida writers who were telling the story right. I started to get chances to publish my writing, too. My first "big break" was a story about hurricanes for the Washington Post. A hurricane had just blown through my town. No one had electricity. I finished that essay on my cell phone while hunkered in my car while the whole broken world around me was slowly putting itself back together. To say I was determined was an understatement. I am stubborn as the swamp.
In Gator Country, we don't vilify swamps. They are some of the most beautiful and fertile places on Earth. But if you cross them, you might not win. In the struggle of man versus swamp, the swamp seldom loses.
With that stubbornness in my heart, I quit my day job in 2018. I went on to write for places like The Atlantic, The Paris Review, and, of course, National Geographic.
In early 2020, I lived a dream I'd had for a long time: to write for Outside Magazine just like my idol Jon Krakauer. Outside sent me to tag along with python hunters, and I realized just how wrong my preconceptions about them and the wilderness they were protecting really were.
A little later that year, I sold my first story to Nat Geo, another dream (ironically). You may have read it, because it went absurdly viral. That story was about weird pandemic dreams.
Through all of this, a story that I had failed to sell in my early years as a writer stuck with me. I had seen other writers from outside the state come poach the story and get things wrong. But for some reason, I couldn't let it go. I'm glad I didn't. Because about a year later, I sold the story as Gator Country: Deception, Danger, and Alligators in the Everglades.
I don't believe that everything happens for a reason. But looking back, I can say I'm glad I didn't sell the story to a magazine, because it never would have gotten the chance to become this amazing book. It's exciting, poignant, and suspenseful, if I do say so myself. It is my heart and soul.
Now, I'm excited to tell the world about Gator Country: Deception, Danger, and Alligators in the Everglades. Here's a very short description:
To catch a Florida Man, you have to become one, and that’s what Jeff Babauta does in my literary true crime debut GATOR COUNTRY. The tricky old wildlife officer faces off with the wiliest of poachers on his mission to save baby alligators and the Florida Everglades. Come with me as your narrator as I delve into the danger and adventure of the glades to find the truth of its unbelievable past. Along the way, I relearn to experience the awe of nature, and I discover that sometimes the tallest tales are the truest, and every person is more than meets the eye. Even Florida Man.
Click here to enter.
Enter for a chance to win one of 50 copies of Gator Country: Deception, Danger, and Alligators in the Everglades. The giveaway ends on August 8, so get your entry in now before the chance disappears.
While you're here, tell me about your big dream. I dreamed big against impossible odds, so you can, too. We all have too many naysayers already, so let me encourage you instead.
What is your big dream?
Thanks for reading My Current Obsession! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.