Saturday, June 28, 2008

Authors Need Adventures Too!

Without a few adventures in our life, what would we have to write about? While I'm sure we would come up with something, the experiences we live and share with others makes our writing so much more real and alive.

This photo is of my daughter Celina. She's wearing her new handmade colonial dress outside a restuarant where we had lunch in Williamsburg, VA. I think history is so fascinating to little girls because it is of a time when women wore beautiful gowns and dresses, and when attending balls were THE thing. It gives one the sense of a Cinderella fairytale. One of the results of this trip for Celina is, now she wants to collect all the dolls in the American Girl series--starting with Felicity--their colonial doll.

I returned from vacation with almost 350 photos on my digital camera. I remember before digital cameras, I would have to wait and save my photos for "special" moments. Now I take photos of everything. I even took a picture of a tree just because I liked it. If I had to pay for film, that pleasure would not have happened. But I'm a graphic designer as well as an artist, so I'm always looking for things I can use as illustrations to incorporate in my marketing materials and I find them in the most unusual places. This is the perfect "southern tree". It will probably find a spot in one of my southern historical novels.

I visually "see" my scenes as I write about them. It has to happen like a movie in my mind or I can't write about it. This is why setting is so important to me. I am starting a Description book. I'm logging down descriptions of things and places so that when I come to a place where I need to "feel and imagine" a scene like that, I can refer to where I've been and what I've experienced and make the place come alive again. Of course, having a photo is even more helpful. You can imagine people looking at me funny, when I even took photos of the descriptions of room settings, furniture, household articles. My husband even told a couple of folks that I was a historical writer as if he had to explain my strange behavior and fascination with everything. They nodded like, "Oh, that makes since as to why she's so weird."

Here we are at the Jamestown settlement, the first successful English colony in America. This statue is of Poccahontas. My parents took me here when I was Celina's age and for some reason I remember being so fascinated by this statue. Upon my return visit as an adult with my own little girl, this statue did not look anything like I remembered. For one thing she wasn't as big. For another, she wasn't as ugly. I don't know why I thought that as a kid. Celina and I bought a little minature of her so we would have it as a souvenir of our visit.

I have so much more I want to share from this trip that I'll be blogging about it on my blog at For instance, while we were in Jamestown, they had an escavating team, and you'll never guess what they discovered. I have the photos! And which southern plantation dates as far back as 1613 with the 12th generation heir still living in the house and they even carry on the same wedding tradition that was started over a century ago?

And for me, no summer vacation would be complete without a lighthouse visit. This is the Cape Henry lighthouse overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. This is the new lighthouse that was built in 1881. I took the photo standing from the top of the Old Cape Henry lighthouse across from it that was built in 1791. The newer lighthouse is still in operation on a military base.

In order to get in you have to be searched by the miliary. As the soldiers combed through our messy car, checking underneath it, in the glove combartment, the trunk, and everything else, we stood on the side out of their way. My husband looked at me and said, "I must really love you a lot." Then he folded his arms across his chest, with a look on his face that said, the things I go through for this woman.

I think I'm having an effect on him, though. As soon as we got back he wanted to book a three-day weekend in Charleston. He even teased me with, "They have a lighthouse nearby."

I love living in a coastal state in the heart of history where our country began--in the center of the 13 original colonies. We can take so many mini-vacations and travel within driving distance to so many places. I love North Carolina!


  1. This is cool, Jenn.

    And when I first saw the picture of Celina, I thought she was you. Well, she is a little lady, isn't she!

    I can relate to wanting to get dressed up like that. That's one of the charms, for me, of the old days.

  2. Celina looks so great! I am so glad you shared this. One of my dreams is to go live in a few different places the way they did a century or two ago. A castle, a plantation, the Scottish Moors and Sweden. I would love to experience all of this and am thrilled that Celina did:-)

    Imagination comes from all this fun play and exploration! I think everyone should experience it not just writers.