Friday, March 9, 2007

Pasadena, Texas and the World's Biggest Shortcake

Gaylen and Delia take a side trip into Pasadena, Texas, home of the Strawberry Festival and mud volleyball. Thought you might enjoy watching the building of the world's largest strawberry shortcake.

I'm hungry.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Respect for the Sound Country

I’m poring over books and websites today. It’s out of respect for the sound country, the setting for Painted Dresses. I was reared with a respect for natural life. For kicks, my family would take day trips out into the woods where my mother would dig up wild African violets to bring home and plant. I was taught the snakes to tease and the ones to avoid. My sister and I swung from tree vines and caught toads and tadpoles. Nature was my nurturer.

Today I’m paying attention to the size of Longleaf Pines and the season of the Pitcher Plant in the Sound Country. There are small details that go into a story that either tell the truth about the landscape or ignore it. In a few weeks, I’m going back to the Sound Country with my notebook and camera. I want to be certain I get it right.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Traveling the Same Road

I write with specific readers in mind. There are certain scenes that cause me to imagine a woman identifying with that particular heroine because she herself has gone through that very thing. The story allows me to ask other readers questions like, “Is this what it felt like to you?” and “Do all women struggle like this?” or “Did you expect that when you grew up that things would be better in your family, between you and your dad, or you and your sister?” And when it wasn’t exactly as ideal as you thought, did you have to let go of that ideal? That is the kind of thing that is important to me as a writer, to remember who is sitting out there reading my story, what she has experienced, and what she might soon come to realize. It’s an inward road trip. The storyteller has the added benefit of taking others along on the road with her.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Back to Pender County

I first found the region that has become the rich landscape for Painted Dresses on a road trip up to Topsail Island. I met several authors there in an annual round table party where local readers gather to pick the brains of novelists. It was a resourceful trip as I made a lot of headway into several towns. After driving up and down roads and stopping to chat along roadside stores and gas stations, I finally nailed down heroine Gaylen's home town in Boiling Spring Lakes. There's a long strip of road that runs right through town like a zipper called Fify Lakes Drive. From there sprang the story of Gaylen and Delia, two twenty-something and thirty-something sisters whose road trip is an inward journey for Gaylen.

Today I realized that after I finish Painted Dresses that I need to return to that area, specifically the towns that make up Pender County like Rocky Point and Burgaw. Several spring fests are coming up. I found a place online called Paul's Place. When I get there, I'll take pictures for you all to see (if he's around) of Paul and his famous hot dogs.

Today I'm wandering around inside the imaginations and the histories of these towns and wondering what trouble Gaylen might get into next.