PEI – Part 3

Tuesday, August 2

We were on our own for breakfast at the cabin, so we enjoyed a banana and bagel that we’d picked up at the little grocery store in Rustico the night before. And then we stopped at a bakery that had just about the best cinnamon rolls ever! They were more like chunks of coffee cake deliciousness.

After the stop, we headed over toward Avonlea Village–a stop that Mom and I failed to make last year.

Hannah in front of the train station
Hannah in front of the train station

Walking through the train station and into Avonlea Village is like stepping back in time 100 years. The roads are lined with authentic turn of the century buildings including a manse (that’s the preacher’s home), school house, church, and general store. And mingling with the visitors are actors dressed in period costumes, playing the roles that we love from Anne’s books. Charlie Sloan was busy getting kicked out of the chocolate shop, Mr. Phillips marched around the school house getting his students in order, and even Anne and Diana roamed the streets.

Mom and Hannah in front of the Avonlea one-room school house, which was once an actual school
Mom and Hannah in front of the Avonlea one-room school house, which was once an actual school
Behind the school was an artist creating an AMAZING sandcastle
Behind the school was an artist creating an AMAZING sandcastle
On the swing by the school
On the swing by the school
Across the street was a Avonlea Dressup, which we assumed was a dress shop
Across the street was a Avonlea Dressup, which we assumed was a dress shop
And it was ... sort of!
And it was ... sort of!
Hannah and I having high tea in our 1910 dresses
Hannah and I having high tea in our 1910 dresses
Mom and I waiting for the train
Mom and I waiting for the train
The stage on the back of the craft house
The stage on the back of the craft house
The show must go on! Anne's first day in school
The show must go on! Anne's first day in school
Anne, Diana, and Gilbert in the back ground
Anne, Diana, and Gilbert in the back ground

Around noon, we snuck into the back of the fishing shanty, where a quartet was busy entertaining a full house with songs of the Island.

Main Street Avonlea
Main Street Avonlea
We spent a few minutes in the barn before boarding the 8-minute wagon ride
We spent a few minutes in the barn before boarding the 8-minute wagon ride
Hannah and Mom on the wagon ride
Hannah and Mom on the wagon ride
Near the end of the wagon ride, Gilbert and Moody jumped in the back of the wagon, shooting their slingshots
Near the end of the wagon ride, Gilbert and Moody jumped in the back of the wagon, shooting their slingshots

 After a fantastic day at Avonlea Village, we drove through the National Park along the North Shore.

Along the North Shore and the prettiest beaches on the Island
Along the North Shore and the prettiest beaches on the Island

 

This beach had large, red rocks, many more than the others
This beach had large, red rocks, many more than the others

Hannah said this beach was rocky … and decided to share with us a musical number from a rocky movie.
 

I could stay on this beach for ages
I could stay on this beach for ages
pei2011-91
Love the way these jagged red cliffs jut out into the water
We were there at high tide, so getting this far along the beach was a bit tricky
We were there at high tide, so getting this far along the beach was a bit tricky
Mom and Hannah--queens of the rock!
Mom and Hannah--queens of the rock!

PEI – Part 2

Monday, August 1
If every morning of our last trip to PEI started with the best breakfasts ever, this trip was off to a rocky start. First powdered eggs at the Holiday Inn, then some sort of mystery breakfast casserole at Serendipity. But the fresh fruit was enough to get us going for a day into the west side of the Island, an area Mom and I hadn’t been to last year. Our first stop was the Potato Museum.

Nope. Not kidding. Potatoes are a huge part of the history of PEI, and the museum was full of interesting facts about how the potato crossed from Ireland to PEI. The museum also had some historic buildings including a one-room school house, a chapel, and an old telephone room, where the operators worked.

The PEI Potato Museum
The PEI Potato Museum
Yes, that is a giant potato!
Yes, that is a giant potato!
The museum had plenty of historical pieces, including this iron lung
The museum had plenty of historical pieces, including this iron lung
Hannah, outside the school house
Hannah, outside the school house
pei2011-32
Inside the school house

After the museum, we headed to the West Point Lighthouse and Museum, where we climbed 4 stories through a self-guided tour. The first lightkeeper lived there with his wife and 8 children! Whoa! That’s a whole lot of family in one little house. But it was beautiful.

West Point Light House
West Point Light House
View from the beach
View from the beach

So was the beach next to it, where we wandered around and got thoroughly sandy and had to find a sink to rinse off in.

Collecting shells on the beach
Collecting shells on the beach
Rinsing off at the picnic area
Rinsing off at the picnic area

After the lighthouse and beach, we headed off toward North Rustico, where we stayed in a little cabin for 2 nights.

Love this little church that we passed on our way from West Point to North Rustico
Love this little church that we passed on our way from West Point to North Rustico

While it was a beautiful area, the cabin left a little something to be desired–the pull-out sofa bed was a bit rough, to say the least. And the creepy bugs that showed up in the most inopportune moments were enough to give anyone the jitters.

Our biggest drama of the day turned out to be where we were going to go to dinner. We thought about trying a famous lobster dinner, except, when we got to the most popular restaurant, it was $35 for a dinner, and we just couldn’t talk ourselves into that, not knowing how we felt about lobster–seeing as how none of us had ever eaten it before. After a couple more failed attempts to find a reasonable place for dinner, we ended up at Jim’s–literally a side-of-the-road shack, where we ordered at a window. Mom ordered the seafood platter complete with lobster. So there it was, our first chance at lobster. Yuck! It was cold (apparently how many on the Island serve it) and oh, so fishy-tasting. I even tried a fried scallop. Like eating a piece of fried rubber. Not for me.

After the dinner debacle, we took off for the Rustico boardwalk, a 2km walkway around the harbor with a view of the fishing village and docks. The perfect way to end the day.

The Rustico boardwalk--2km of beauty
The Rustico boardwalk--2km of beauty
A view of Rustico across the harbor
A view of Rustico across the harbor
Another shot of the village from the boardwalk
Another shot of the village from the boardwalk
The lighthouse at the end of the boardwalk
The lighthouse at the end of the boardwalk
The jetty next to the lighthouse
The jetty next to the lighthouse
The North Rustico beach at sunset
The North Rustico beach at sunset

A Return to Prince Edward Island

A year ago next week, I took my mom on a trip to Prince Edward Island, Canada, to celebrate the publication of my first and second books. Wow! We had a wonderful time. So good, in fact, that about 5 months ago, I suggested perhaps we should go back. I was working on a book idea set on PEI, and I was looking for an opportunity to do a little research. Mom was on board in a heartbeat, and we invited my sister Hannah to join us.

Several weeks ago we took off for PEI and 6 wonderful days on the most beautiful island I’ve ever seen. I took over 300 pictures, and at least a few of them turned out. 🙂 So I thought I’d share with you a pictorial journal of our time on PEI.

Saturday, July 30
I flew out of Nashville at 6:25am. I knew I had a day mostly to myself, as I wasn’t meeting up with Mom and Hannah until I picked them up from the Charlottetown airport after midnight that night. So I brought with me one of the lesser-known books of PEI’s most celebrated author, LM Montgomery. My friends Rachel and Stephanie and Katie had been after me for years to read The Blue Castle, and I’d purchased it on PEI last summer. I’d just never gotten around to reading it. So I pulled it off my shelf and tucked it into my bag and read during my 3 hours at the Cinncinati airport and 6 hours at JFK. And I couldn’t put it down. It’s delightful! I highly recommend and can’t thank my friends enough for telling me to read it.

blue-castle

In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I was still reading it when I got to the Holiday Inn Express (the one with a big cardboard cutout of William and Kate, who had recently visited PEI) upon arriving on the Island. And I was still reading it when I went back to the airport to pick Mom and Hannah up. Their flight was delayed, so when they finally arrived at 1am, I was just looking forward to a good night’s sleep. I was going to need it if we were going to hit the ground running the next morning.

Sunday, July 31
We managed to drag ourselves out of bed in time to grab a bite of the continental breakfast (avoiding those powdered eggs at all costs) before getting gussied up for the first big event of our trip, Anne and Gilbert: The Musical! Mom and I enjoyed seeing this show so much last year, that we knew we had to go back and see it again.

We traveled through the middle of the Island, along the main highway (which is still only 2 lanes), lined with pine trees from Charlottetown toward Summerside. But we arrived early–that’s the thing when you can drive anywhere on the Island in 2 hours. So we took a little detour to view the Confederation Bridge, a 13km engineering marvel. It just disappears in the horizon.

pei2011-021
Hannah and me in front of the Confederation Bridge
pei2011-041
Seven Mile Church, where we stopped to take pictures of the bridge.
Another view of the bridge
Another view of the bridge

As we drove toward Summerside, we passed this field. Unfortunately, the picture just doesn’t do the color justice. It was this brilliant yellow, and when we asked, we discovered it’s a Canola field–like the stuff that they make cooking oil out of. Weird. Beautiful.

Canola field outside Summerside
Canola field outside Summerside

And then it was off to get some lunch at Spinnaker’s Landing at the Deckhouse Pub. Fish and Chips were delicious. So was the view of the harbour.

Spinnaker's Landing next to the Harbourfront Theater
Spinnaker's Landing next to the Harbourfront Theater
Sailboats in the harbour behind the pub
Sailboats in the harbour behind the pub
Another sail boat on the gray sea
Another sailboat on the gray sea
The Coast Guard station next door
The Coast Guard station next door
I should have been a sailor
I should have been a sailor
Love these boats all lined up and ready to hit the sea
Love these boats all lined up and ready to hit the sea

And then it was time to see the musical. Hannah wasn’t quite so sure what she’d gotten into … but I’ll tell you more about that later. We sat in the same seats as last year (row E) at the Harbourfront Theater. Anne was played by the same actress, but there was a new Gilbert. And he was GREAT! Here’s a video of one of the best songs in the show done by this summer’s cast. (You might have to turn your volume up, as it’s kind of quiet.)

After the show, we checked in at our B&B in Bedeque–Serendipity. It was a lovely yellow house, and we stayed in the Victoria Suite–2 rooms with an adjoining door on the 2nd floor. Sadly, that meant we had to lug our stuff up to the 2nd floor. And my suitcase was not light. After settling in and grabbing a bite to eat, we headed for the nearby beach at Central Bedeque (pronounced kind of like be-deck), where we found all sorts of wildlife–little spider crabs and even a few washed up jellyfish. Let me just say that Hannah is fascinated by this stuff, so we spent quite a chunk of time picking up shells and poking dried up jellyfish. One of the most interesting things about the beach was the way the sand packed together in ripples. And then, of course, there was a gorgeous view of the bridge.

We didn't quite make it out in kayaks, but that's on the itinerary for next trip
We didn't quite make it out in kayaks, but that's on the itinerary for next trip
Love those red beaches
Love those red beaches
Hannah on the rippled sand
Hannah on the rippled sand
As the sun begins to set
As the sun begins to set
Sillouette's in the setting sun
Silhouettes in the setting sun

A Star in the Night

Over the last couple days, I’ve shared with you a bit about A Log Cabin Christmas and a bit about how I first learned about Carnton, one of the key locations in A Star in the Night. But I suppose the real question now is, what is A Star in the Night really about?

Here’s a little synopsis just for you!

In 1864 Tennessee Cora Sinclair lives relatively unaffected by the War Between the States until the Battle of Franklin leaves her to care for a wounded Union officer. Captain Jedediah Harrington just wants to get back to Washington and his role in the War Department, but his injury is more severe than he anticipated, and he’s forced to spend the month of December with Cora and her grandfather in their log cabin.

As Jed begins to heal from his physical injuries, Cora realizes that serving at a field hospital following the battle has left unseen scars on her heart, and Jed is the only one who can help mend her spirit. As Christmas approaches, will love prevail despite Cora’s pain and Jed’s imminent return to Washington?

So there you have it! Cora and Jed’s story hits stores in just a few more weeks with 8 other great books. The reviews haven’t really started coming in yet, but I did receive a sweet email from a reviewer who enjoyed it. And my sister said this is her favorite of all the books I’ve written. Maybe that’s just because it’s the shortest. 🙂

Carnton & A Log Cabin Christmas

Today I’m sharing even more of the story behind the story of A Star in the Night, my contribution to A Log Cabin Christmas Collection, releasing on September 1st from Barbour Publishing.

Yesterday, we left off with my proposal completed. My agent sent it along to the editor at Barbour, and the waiting began. I waited every week for news. Hoping to get “the call.” That one that every author longs for. The one that every author dreams about.

While I waited, I kept thinking about Jed and Cora, caught up in the aftermath of a battle that left a town permanently scarred. I kept wondering what it would be like to walk the grounds where thousands of soldiers had marched, so in August, nearly a month after I’d submitted my proposal, I made my mom join me for a tour of the old plantation and the grounds.

The tour of the house was incredible. Here are a few pictures of the house, Confederate cemetery, and grounds.

img_0897

img_0900

img_1239

img_1235

img_1242

Confession. I went back to Carnton in November of last year, and I got so lost up in imagining what it would be like to to have lived there, to have survived the war, that I nearly missed the last guided tour of the day. Oops! But wouldn’t you get lost in those enormous trees and open fields?

The real history of Carnton is amazing, and Carrie McGavock, the mistress of the plantation, who opened her home to injured soldiers from both the North and the South, was an incredible woman. You can read all about the history of Carnton and the McGavock family here.

And while this history sparked my imagination, A Star in the Night couldn’t be set on a plantation and fit in with the log cabin theme of the collection.

So how did I get from Carnton to a cabin? We’ll talk about that tomorrow!

Coming Soon …

I’ve been a bit behind. A bit irresponsible. I failed to tell you all about a new book that I was honored to write a novlla for. Coming this September … A Log Cabin Christmas Collection.

a-log-cabin-christmas

Back Cover Blurb: Experience Christmas through the eyes of adventuresome settlers who relied on log cabins built from trees on their own land to see them through the cruel forces of winter. Discover how rough-hewed shelters become a home in which faith, hope, and love can flourish. Marvel in the blessings of Christmas celebrations without the trappings of modern commercialism where the true meaning of the day shines through. And treasure this exclusive collection of nine Christmas romances penned by some of Christian fiction’s best-selling authors.

With 9 novellas in this collection, you’re bound to find a Christmas story you love–and it might even be mine. 🙂 But chances are you’ll enjoy all of them. I’m honored to join with eight extremely talented authors for this collection.

My contribution to the book is called A Star in the Night. (Isn’t that a perfectly wonderful Christmas title?) And this week on my blog, I’d like to share with you more about this sweet historical romance. I hope you’ll stick around and enjoy the ride.

So let’s get started. How did A Star in the Night come to be? I’m glad you asked.

It began at Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant in Franklin, TN. It was the weekend before my birthday last July, and a sweet friend of mine came to visit. We’d traipsed all over Nashville, and after church on Sunday, she asked where I wanted to go for lunch. We ended up at Puckett’s in downtown Franklin. Great BBQ. Great atmosphere. And as it turned out, a map of historic Franklin. I tucked one in my pocket as we walked out the door.

In the corner of the map, past downtown and the Carter House, was a little dot marking the Carnton Plantation. The map said it had been a field hospital during the Civil War Battle of Franklin, and my interest was piqued.

Just days later, my agent emailed me to ask if I might want to put together a proposal for a novella that would be considered for 2011 Christmas collection. I had 5 days to write a synopsis and 2 sample chapters if I was interested. So I thought about it for a day, and over and over my mind went back to that field hospital and those soldiers and the women who nursed them.

And that’s when I met Cora and Jed, two strangers whose lives were thrown together in the aftermath of this battle, and they just wouldn’t leave me alone. But I didn’t know much about the battle and even less about Carnton. So I started reading. I spent the weekend learning about the battle, the town, and the plantation.

I got the proposal finished just in time … and the rest is … well, I was going to say history. But actually there’s a lot more to the story. I’ll tell you more tomorrow.

Fireman Dad by Betsy St. Amant

I’m so excited to share with you about a new book by my friend Betsy St. Amant. As you may recall, I’ve interviewed Betsy in the past and shared with you about some of her other books. Now available is her most recent, Fireman Dad.

fireman-dad

Betsy continues her trend of sweet romances filled with relateable characters and unique situations. In this book widowed mother Marissa Hawthorne’s little boy wants to be like his new hero–firefighter Jacob Greene. But Marissa and her son lost too much to firefighting when her husband was killed in the line of duty. No matter how attractive Jacob might be, Marissa can’t afford to lose her heart to another fireman. And Jacob has to fight his own attraction to Marissa, as her father is her boss.

Underlying all the romantic tension is a very real threat to Jacob’s job and his family, as the fire department has been downsized, and Jacob’s brother has lost his position. This adds a reality to the story, as so many cities are facing similar cutbacks. In fact, Betsy shares at the end of the book that her own husband was downsized by the fire department in their city a few years ago. And you can feel the depth of her understanding of this struggle throughout the book.

This is a great read for anyone who knows and loves a fireman. A heartwarming tale of learning to trust God and allowing yourself to fall in love. You can pick it up at a Walmart near you or online here if you like. Thanks to Betsy for sending a review copy of her book. It’s always a pleasure to read her books.