Why, let me be the first then to welcome to the community! I am also a Floridian and have JUST gotten into the con world in late 2011- Now I've gone to 7 conventions in that time. And I also got to congrat you on that first step of choosing what you want to cosplay first. So many people have this problem as they think if they cosplay, it should be what looks like them and they don't stop to think "What do I WANT to cosplay?" Instead, it normally ends up being "Who do others in the community think I look like?" It's good to ask for some suggestions, but what if it's someone you don't like or a series you hate?
Anyway, good luck with your costume and may I suggest for some tutorials you try this cosplay page I follow as well- http://cosplaytutorial.deviantart.com/
It has a collection of many different tutorials you can sift through and put away in your computer for future use for ideas on how to handle your projects. As for tips? The number one rule to me is 'have fun.'
It sounds silly, but as you wander the community you realize that more and more people are losing interest in the idea of it being "fun" and in their eyes everything must be PERFECT. If it's not perfect, they're ruined and their con experience becomes sour. Cosplay used to be fun, but nowadays I've noticed a decline in that and now people want complete accuracy. Not saying it's bad, but just don't forget to have fun and that we are all in this hobby for that reason along with walking in the shoes of our favorite character for the day.