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Doug Alderson's Writing & Photography
"I have always heard to write what you know, but I like to embark on new writing projects to learn more about a particular subject, especially ones with natural beauty and colorful history."
Doug Alderson prefers a kayak to a desk, hugs trees and friends, and loves observing alligators, manatees and other wildlife in their natural environment. Most of his 17 published books focus on the dynamic and quirky nature of his home state of Florida. They include America's Alligator, Wild Florida Waters, Waters Less Traveled, New Dawn for the Kissimmee River, Encounters with Florida's Endangered Wildlife and A New Guide to Old Florida Attractions, which the Florida Writers Association placed in the top five of published books for 2017. He has won five first place Royal Palm Literary awards for nonfiction books, two gold medals from the Florida Authors and Publishers Association, and several other state and national writing and photography awards.
Doug's articles and photographs have also been published in Native Peoples, Wildlife Conservation, American Forests, Sea Kayaker, Sierra, Mother Earth News, Shaman's Drum, Campus Life, America, The Old Farmer's Almanac, AT Journeys, Rails to Trails, New Age Travel and several others. He has been a featured speaker at symposiums, writer's conferences and book fairs, and has appeared in media outlets such as the New York Times, National Geographic website, Boston Globe, and Adventure Kayak magazine for his writing and trail work. He is also an adventurer, having hiked the entire Appalachian Trail, coordinated a group walk across the United States, backpacked through Europe, and mapped a 1,500-mile sea kayaking trail around Florida.
Doug and Florida's Rivers were featured in the May/June 2023 issue of Tallahassee Magazine. Paige Aigret wrote: "Alderson’s prose speaks to Florida’s environment as vividly as his photography, with historical accounts weaving in and out of the storylike narrative. This is not so much a guidebook as a piece of inspiration, a collection of words and images that tempt you toward riverbanks."
In April, Doug received the 2023 Hank Brooks award from the Florida Paddling Trails Association for advancing the core missions of the organization. Doug founded the group in 2007.
Read a book excerpt in the Tallahassee Democrat about Doug's newest release, Discovering Florida's Coast. In the past few months, Midtown Reader in Tallahassee held successful book release parties for this book and for Nostalgic Florida. Read a book excerpt from Nostalgic Florida in the Tallahassee Democrat. Read an interview with Doug in the Bradfordville Bugle. The Southern Literary Review featured a favorable review of the book by Donna Meredith. Listen to a podcast with Patrick Swan of the Seminole Wars Foundation about several of Doug's recent books.
At their July, 2022 awards ceremony, the Florida Authors and Publishers Association awarded Florida's Rivers two gold medals--one for Adult General Nonfiction and the other for coffee table book! Learn about how you can help Florida's rivers. View a PowerPoint program about the book with the Boynton Beach Library.
At their October, 2021 awards ceremony, the Florida Writers Association awarded Doug a gold royal palm literary award for nonfiction for America's Alligator! "It was a fun and rewarding book to write from start to finish," Doug said. "My research path led me to unusual places, including the Ma Barker shootout near Ocala and alleged alligators in the White House."
Read an excerpt from chapter 7 of America's Alligator on the Florida Rambler website. Tom Palmer of The Ledger in Winter Haven called it "a great read no matter what you think you already know... This is a book worth including in any Florida library." Philip K. Jason, writing in the Southern Literary Review, said, "The appeal of this book does not rest only on its effective storytelling and educative power. The illustrations, photographic and otherwise, are dazzling and contribute much to the overall impact of the book." Watch an entertaining interview with Doug about the book on Author Jam with Dr. Shelley Plumb.
Doug helped to coordinate the highly successful Apalachicola
RiverTrek for several years, highlighting the plight of the Apalachicola River and
Bay and raising funds for Apalachicola Riverkeeper. Doug and co-leader
Georgia Ackerman were featured on the Canoe
& Kayak Magazine website. Support RiverTrek!
Read the Tallahassee
Democrat feature article Doug wrote about the 2021 RiverTrek.
Watch the WFSU
video about the 2021 journey.
Discovering Florida's Coast: From the Emerald Northwest to Miami's Biscayne Jewel and Beyond: Broken down into roughly 12 parts, the entire Florida coast and Keys offer beachgoers and wildlife lovers a unique experience in any part of the state. The last chapter focuses on how we can all help protect and restore Florida's coast. Read a book excerpt in the Tallahassee Democrat.
Nostalgic Florida: Iconic Vintage Art of the Sunshine State: An all-color pictorial history of all that has come to represent Florida in print media. If you love the Sunshine State, you will love this book.
Florida's Rivers: A Celebration of Over 40 of the Sunshine State's Dynamic Waterways: The rivers of Florida are steeped in natural and cultural history. They are avenues through time, allowing us to wrap ourselves in a rich tapestry, and they are showcases for wildlife and natural beauty. This full color 184-page hardback is a wonderful keepsake and makes a perfect gift for the outdoors lover.
America's Alligator: A Popular History of Our Most Celebrated Reptile examines the colorful and sometimes conflicted relationship our species has had with the American alligator, from Native American mythology to alligator wrestling to modern alligator attractions. Alligator-related songs, movies, literature and even tales of alligators in the White House are all included. The book is in full color! Winner of the 2021 gold royal palm literary award for nonfiction by the Florida Writers Association.
A New Guide to Old Florida Attractions (2nd edition) takes readers on an unforgettable journey across the Sunshine State, exploring the history of Florida tourism and featuring nearly 50 attractions still open to the public. Discover what Florida's golden age of tourism was, and still is, all about― magical, beautiful and fun! This 200-page book is in full color. Watch a Boynton Beach Library presentation about the book. Many people use the guide to plan vacations!
Spooky Stories from the Swamp: Tales from the Florida Back Country is a re-issue of Doug's Ghost Orchid Ghost book with five new stories. These are family friendly spine-tingling tales that convey both Florida history and an appreciation for our great swamps.
Wild Florida Adventures covers journeys on both land and water with useful how-to information at the end of each chapter. From kayaking the length of the Florida Keys to searching for record-sized trees in a huge swamp to meeting the famous naked man of the Santa Fe River, this complementary sequel to Wild Florida Waters takes readers into Florida's unique places. First place award winner from the Florida Writers Association. Conor Mihel of Canoe & Kayak Magazine calls it "a compelling glimpse of Florida."
Simon's Wondrous Garden and Other Stories chronicles the life of an Atlanta attorney who begins having paranormal experiences after a car accident. Reaching back to his farm roots, he is inspired to turn his manicured suburban yard into an odorous vegetable garden, provoking the wrath of his wife and neighbors. What follows is both humorous and profound.
Traveling Florida's Seminole Trail (Pineapple Press) is a comprehensive illustrated guide to Florida's historic and cultural sites that directly relate to Seminole Indians. The span of Seminole history covered in the book ranges from William Bartram's visits to Seminole villages in the early 1770s to the tragic Seminole wars to contemporary Seminole attractions.
Wild Florida Waters: Exploring the Sunshine State by Kayak and Canoe places Florida's unsurpassed beauty and abundant wildlife in the forefront, from the mangrove labyrinth of the Ten Thousand Islands to the springfed Ichetucknee River. It includes an exciting dose of paddling adventures along with useful how-to information. Silver award winner from the Florida Outdoor Writers Association and Florida Writers Association. Doug read from his book on the WFSU television show Dimensions. Donna Meredith reviewed the book in the Southern Literary Review.
Seminole Freedom is a novel based on true historical events, newly revised in 2021. Following the life of Jenny as she grows into womanhood and endures the long and bitter Seminole wars, this tale of hardship, bravery and freedom explores the little known role of Black Seminoles in the shaping of American history. Listen to a podcast by the Seminole Wars Foundation that features the book.
Encounters with Florida's Endangered Wildlife (University Press of Florida) features chapters tracking panthers, black bears, whooping cranes, manatees, sea turtles, even ivory-billed woodpeckers. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to know more about wild Florida.
Through Time and National Parks: Doug sets out to retrace his grandparents' 1939 western journey with a burning question: are the panoramic landscapes, especially those found in our national parks, as relevant and captivating today as they were more than 75 years ago?
The Ghostly Ghost Tour of St. Augustine and Other Tales from Florida's Coast: Where else but Florida can you find a greater treasure-trove of tales filled with pirates, shipwrecked sailors, ghostly sea captains and lost tribes of Native Americans? Also available on Kindle and audio.
New Dawn for the Kissimmee River: Orlando to Lake Okeechobee by Kayak (University Press of Florida) uses a 12-day expedition to highlight the ongoing restoration of the Kissimmee River. First place award winner from both the Florida Writers Association and Florida Outdoor Writers Association.
The Vision Keepers: Walking For Native Americans and the Earth, (Quest Books) covers Doug's long-distance United States walks and experiences with Native American people, including an Oklahoma Muscogee spiritual leader named Bear Heart..
Doug's first book, Waters Less Traveled: Exploring Florida's Big Bend Coast (University Press of Florida), chronicles a 9-day sea kayaking adventure along a Gulf Coast wilderness. Salty characters, colorful history and amusing tales are all included. Runner up for Best Travel Book of 2006 by the North American Travel Journalists Association.
Doug is a proud member of the Florida Writers Association, Florida Authors and Publishers Association, Florida Paddling Trails Association, Florida Trail Association, Sierra Club, Apalachicola Riverkeeper, Apalachee Canoe and Kayak Club, and the Tallahassee Historical Society. He currently serves as president of the Tallahassee Writers Association.
2022 Public Appearances
2023 Public Appearances
Doug enjoys doing book signings, PowerPoint programs and guiding groups in the outdoors. For events outside of the Tallahassee area, an honorarium is requested to cover travel expenses. Contact Doug for a complete list of programs he offers, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Doug is an accomplished photographer specializing in nature photos. He is interested in sharing the timeless beauty of land and water with his audience. A few of his photos are shown below. You can view more of Florida's landscapes, plants and animals here. Doug won contest categories in the 2007, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2022 National Recreation Trails photo contests.