Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Saltwater Veins & a Bit of Folly (Folly Girl, Historical Fiction)

If you've never been to (or heard of) Folly Island, let me tell you that it's one of my favorite places! It's a small barrier island just south of Charleston. My dad spent part of his childhood there and my Granddad lived there before that. Granddad lived on East Ashley Avenue, which is just one street away from the beach.  Below is a pic of my Granddad, Paul Ace Hardwick, with my kids on Folly. Obviously, this was taken a few years ago. It was the year I first started researching for my book.


What makes Folly special?
To me, Folly has a Key West "come as you are" vibe. It's low key, intimate, fun and incredibly beautiful! The island is only six miles long and a half-mile wide, which adds to its intimacy and charm.

On the eastern end of the island you can view the Morris Island Lighthouse, which was once located on an island but is now completely surrounded by water. It's weathered and aged and full of the history that makes Charleston and her sea islands so unique. I can't wait to share some of Folly's history with you in future posts. I'm talking pirate ships, Confederate soldiers, bootleggers and don't forget the romance! As I write this, I'm staring at an old News & Courier ad from May 16, 1926, that promotes "The Folly Pavilion - Famous Summer Resort - Opening Dance," which touted "mysterious masked musicians." Back in the day it was quite the place! Just imagine dancing on the Pavilion under a large crystal ball at night with the ocean lapping rhythmically on shore.

Today, the main island attraction remains the Folly Pier. Stretching more than 1,000 feet into the Atlantic, if offers a great view of the coastline and attracts fisherman from all over. (My husband once caught a baby shark. His last fishing expedition on the Pier, however, was not as fruitful!)  Today's Pier looks very different from the covered Pier that once had Spanish moss hanging from its rafters and is more elevated than the original (now 23 feet above sea level). While there is still occassional "Shagging on the Pier," Bill Bryan in his book, "Folly Beach: Glimpses of a Vanished Strand," describes the Pier during the '40s and '50s as, "...the setting of many raucous gatherings. It was the wildest spot on the strand." Today it's definitely more tame and family oriented. My kids love walking along the planks and peeking down between the boards to see the ocean underneath. It's a lot of fun!

Growing up so close to the ocean as he did, I now understand why my dad referred to himself as a "South Carolina Sandlapper." My Granddaddy often said we have "saltwater running through our veins." I guess that's why I'm so attracted to the Atlantic Coast and mesmerized by its beauty. And, to me, there's no place quite like Folly.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Writer's Dream (Folly Girl, Historical Fiction)

Six years ago I embarked on the exciting journey of writing a historical fiction. Now, after many twists and turns, as well as a few ups and downs, I can finally see the path toward publication coming into view! So, I decided to start a blog about the process, my research and the setting of my first novel: Charleston, South Carolina. My hope is to attract other novice novelists, those who enjoy reading historical fiction and anyone interested in learning about South Carolina, particularly Charleston and her surrounding sea islands.

Aspiring writers
I will post links to my favorite sites and blogs and share information about upcoming workshops and conferences that I'm most interested in. I hope you will do the same! After attending my first writer's workshop last month (look for a post about that experience soon!), I've learned that connecting to other writers can be so rewarding!

Historical fiction fans
When I think about the works of fiction that move me most they are often historical. I've always been interested in history. I also love to read and enjoy a good romance. When you put them all together, historical fiction is by far my favorite genre. Look for many posts about Charleston, South Carolina, during a pivotal time in the port city's history: the 1940s. It was a time of resurgence and dramatic change, both in terms of growth and social reform. I was intrigued by all I learned and continue to learn and look forward to sharing with you some of the fascinating facts I uncovered during the research of my book.

Low Country enthusiasts
Charleston is truly one of America's gems, a treasure box of old architecture and Southern charm. My love affair with the holy city began when my dad, a Charleston native, moved us there from Cleveland, Ohio, when I was just six years old. We only lived there two short years, but the experience left an indelible mark. My dad was so proud of his heritage! Now that my dad has past, Charleston holds a very special place in my heart.

This blog will serve as a Northern girl's guide to Carolina. I will share tidbits and sneak peeks from my book. You'll find posts about my favorite places to visit, stay and eat! You'll also read stories about some of the unique people who call the Low Country, "home." My hope is that you'll fall in love with South Carolina, her rich history, and the setting of my first historical novel. Thanks for reading and stay tuned!