A Walking Tour

IMG_4075Walking is one of my favorite pastimes whether for exercise or a stroll to check out new and old neighborhoods. What about you? Does the prospect of a walk send you searching for your walking/running shoes? When I travel, I enjoy setting off through the streets and paths of the area hoping to find something not overtly popular in a guidebook. And if there is time, getting “lost” is sometimes a pleasant use of time especially if it is in Venice, Paris, or any other interesting city or town. My husband is a master at leaving the tour and winding through the less traveled streets. One of my favorite memories is turning off the main passageway in Venice with a few hours to spare soaking up the ambiance of the neighborhoods with a few stops for gelato.

Before I write one of my historical novels, I wander the streets of the characters’ town and imagine walking in their footsteps, the ones taken two centuries before when life was a lot different. But still, they would have taken the same routes to take care of everyday chores and activities. I’ve spent many hours in Charleston, SC walking from my characters’ house to the wharf, church, mercantile, friends’ houses, Custom House, government buildings, etc. It gives me a sense of understanding their lives and actions better. The cobblestones are the same ones their feet had traveled.

I’m reading a fun little book I bought in Charleston this summer– Unplug Every Day. One of the suggestions is “Take a walking tour of your town.” What a great idea! Have you done that recently? Have you really looked at the sights that you see all the time? Think about the significance of the buildings, the landmarks, the plaques. Think about who lived in your town before you. This physical walk down memory lane is a great exercise that I plan to repeat more often.

When was the last time you walked the streets of your town with your eyes alert and focused?

 

Not an ordinary vacation activity

IMG_8599Recently I joined my three sisters on a much-needed vacation and sister time in Charleston, South Carolina. We always include yummy restaurants and a beach journey if possible. After walking and walking in this beautiful, historic city, we enjoyed the relaxation each evening with a movie in our little rented house with a coveted dessert or two.

IMG_1181Part of my research for my books and for genealogical information included searching the cemetery at St. Philip’s for ancestors. I had done this before with my husband with no luck. Finding a tombstone that is legible from 1760-1780 is difficult. My father had seen it around 1952 and later in the 1960s. But the church has no records of where my relatives were buried just the fact that they were buried in the cemetery.

My father gave us instructions before we left for our trip. “I want pictures of you in the cemetery searching for the graves.” He laughed. And I’m sure we were a sight taking off across the graveyard scouring all the headstones for a familiar name or two. I promise not one of the four of us thought about not completing this task.

Growing up with Daddy and traveling with him led us to many cemeteries. Mama and the four of us would follow him around, listening to his stories or family or historical events. I still do this. For some odd reason, I like visiting the grave sites of historical figures whether in Europe or the US.  From the elaborate tombs of Elizabeth I or the missing headstone of an Uncle Jack in North Louisiana.

After my sisters’ left, I stayed a few days and found myself in the Pioneer Cemetery in Orangeburg, S.C. I found some family members and one stone with unrecognizable lettering on it. Records show that Louis and Elizabeth Lestarjette (major characters in my Revolutionary Faith Series) are in this cemetery with their children but the graves are unmarked, disappearing through the 200 plus years. I will be back to try again to see if I can find out more.

I wondered as we roamed cemeteries, if anyone else does this strange activity on vacation or anytime. Do you have something you include in a vacation that might be a bit odd? Share here.

 

First Things First

IMG_9580How I love summer! I use the time to do something different from teaching. Since I have completed the preliminary draft of a novel and submitted it to the publisher, I’ve been thinking and planning for my next novel. I spent a week in Charleston, S.C. with my sisters for four days then myself for three days. Beautiful, inspiring, lots of ideas!

I write historical fiction where the characters roam and live in a factual historical world. I always use a venue that I have traveled by walking the streets, visiting the sites, and researching. I’ve discussed my library before when I was writing the first four books in Revolutionary Faith Series–35 sources. On my latest venture to Charleston, I added more sources. I will have to scour the pages, formulating a plot, developing characters, outlining a historical backdrop. I’m so excited about this process.

IMG_9749So in the month of July, I’ll read and highlight my new books from Charleston. But the first book I am reading is an old 1906 book that will not receive any highlighting because of its value. Charleston The Place and the People by Mrs. St. Julien Ravenel is a treasure, one found in my parents’ library. I’m sure there are quite a few interesting observations discussed by Mrs. Ravenel.

I bought my books from two wonderful shops in Charleston–Historic Shops of Charleston on Meeting Street and The Preservation Society Shop on King Street. Time spent in both shops is a thrill. One book I bought is South Carolina and the American Revolution: A Battlefield History by John. W. Gordon. I’ve read another of his books for research and thoroughly enjoyed it.

As I advance in my plot for the next book, I decided to add A Gallant Defense: The Siege of Charleston, 1780 by Carl P. Borick. I want to know what it was like living in a city under siege by the British.

Two historical figures have fascinated me as I’ve researched and written them into my novels. One is William Moultrie, an American General in Charleston. I added  Crescent Moon over Carolina: William Moultrie and American Liberty by C.L. Bragg.

One of my favorite characters that I have already used in my novels is Francis Marion (the Swamp Fox).  I found The Life of General Francis Marion by Brig. Gen. P. Horry and Parson M. L. Weems. I’m hoping for some interesting insight into this extraordinary man.

IMG_9744Research–I LOVE the process. I’m rubbing my hands together in excitement wondering which book I’ll read first.

Do you have a project that you really anticipate with joy? 

Delays or Cancellations–It’s okay!

IMG_8707Happy Summer! Since I am a teacher, I’m enjoying every moment, storing up energy for the school year that is only seven weeks away. I started my summer vacation with a sisters’ trip to Charleston, South Carolina. The four of us spent four days eating, laughing, crying, sharing, walking, movie watching, eating more, shopping–forming memories that can never be taken away.

 

After my sisters returned to their homes, I stayed  three extra days to research, read, walk the streets, and make new “research” friends. So relaxing and so productive.

Then, the inevitable day arrived when I turned in my car and proceeded to my gate at the airport for a 10:06 departure to Atlanta. Let me offer a caveat here–I was traveling alone, no husband, no group, no children. Alone. My perspective will be a bit ashew with those perimeters. Anyway, I have traveled enough with children, family, and students enough to have experienced a few set backs.

This day ended up being one that I will remember as an eventful travel situation. Storms in Atlanta brought the flight world to a standstill. The 10:06 departure turned to 11:15, then 12:15, then a canceled flight and no departure time. For me, I knew there was nothing I could do. This was a weather condition that did not fall under the fault of the airport, the airline, the pilot, or the attendants.

 

Besides having the passengers from the Charleston cancelled flights, the airport had redirected flights that could not land in Atlanta. This small airport was packed. Luckily, I love airports and travel, most aspects of the journey. I read and finished a great book, The Girl on Legare Street by Karen White.  And I had to buy another book, The Tinderbox by Beverly Lewis.

With eight hours in the airport, I had time to walk, snack, watch people, and read. I loved it especially since I knew I could do nothing about it. It was sad to see couples fight and children, tired children, act up. The attendants did their best to pacify the passengers.

IMG_9643Once I left Charleston at 6:00 p.m. for Atlanta, I still had that monstrosity of an airport to maneuver and a ticket to secure. The attendant was very proud that he found a seat for me on the 12:17 a.m. to Jackson.

All fine, right? The plane carried 300 very tired and frustrated people, especially the parents and children. I was determined to make it through with a smile on my fatigued face.

You probably have guessed what happened once in Jackson. Right you are. The luggage had not followed all of us since none of us had this flight as our original connection. Once in my car with no luggage, I drove to my sister’s house thirty minutes away and crawled into bed for five hours sleep.

IMG_9663Twenty-four hours late, I arrived home (without my bag) and praised God for a safe journey, one with a few delays and cancellations. No harsh words or annoyed facial expressions. This is part of traveling.

Do you have a delayed or canceled travel story? How did you handle it? 

Sister Trip to Charleston

Charleston 06 020Do you want to know a great blessing I have? Well, I have three younger sisters! We are the best of friends and love our time together. Yes, I’m the oldest, and I know that is the  best place to be! Haha! Any oldest siblings out there? I know all other positions think they are the best too. Anyway, the four of us like to choose a destination and meet there to relax, catch up, talk about everything–just exist together in the same place.

Charleston 06 022This year one sister suggested Charleston, South Carolina. Why? Because she had just finished Bring Me Near, my  Revolutionary Faith Book Three. “I want to see all those places in the books.” As well she should. Charleston holds her roots as much as mine. How could I refuse being a book tour guide to my very own sisters!

Charleston 06 042I plan on showing them the different houses featured in my books, including the Lestarjette house on Church Street. We’ll include a cemetery search behind St. Philip’s Church for Elizabeth Elliott’s parent’s tombstones. Also, on the tour are the college, the Exchange Building with the dungeon ,and most likely a house tour.

Charleston was voted the best Southern city in “Southern Living” recently. Of course, it is. And the food…we will eat and eat, soaking up the atmosphere. The city is very walkable, and we love exercise, especially since our house is in the historical district.

Charleston 06 086There is no way I will pass up a chance to research. I decided to stay an extra three days giving a few hours to research at the South Carolina Room in the Charleston County Public Library and the South Carolina Historical Society. A quick trip to Orangeburg will add an additional dimension to my research as that is where Louis and Elizabeth are buried.

I look forward to sharing tidbits about Charleston and my research. Since I’ve finished writing Draw Me to Your Side, I am anxious to start on As I Wait which involves another phase of the American Revolution.

Charleston 06 033Do you have a favorite city or destination to which you repeatedly return? Charleston is that for me.