I don't recall when this started but I believe I was at the beach when it did.
Every so often, my husband and I like to travel south until we hit the Gulf Shores, Alabama area where the road meets the water, and we can spend a week (or two) walking on the white sand. It's been a favorite travel destination of ours for years and in recent years we tried out a couple of new activities.
One was the alligator farm. Have you been here? The things you don't see in these pictures (which, honestly, even after researching, makes me think I have the wrong link) are the spiders. Yes. Giant, long-legged horrifyingly beautiful arachnids that I was sure were going to end up in my purse while we were there.
As we ventured out to other interesting places in the area we came upon a rainy day and an antique shop. For the life of me, I can't recall the name of the place but I can recall the feel of it. The maze of booths with their old-fashioned kitchen gadgets, dusty books, and vintage napkin rings called out to me.
Those objects called out in the voices of my characters.
Before I knew it, my shopping basket was filled to the brim with fascinating items as my mind was flooded with details for the book I was writing and for other books that sat waiting their turn to be written. Over the course of several years, antique mall shopping has become my new favorite past time. It's in those out-of-the-way retro antique stores (and other unique shopping venues) that I've found...
A ceramic bowl filled with a few tarnished teaspoons and random Scrabble tiles that Abilene's late mother (main character in a Floribama story) kept on the coffee table in the living room of their house trailer.
In a Florida food festival beneath the glare of a piercing hot sun, Abilene's mother showed up again with a beautiful hand-made apron. That piece hangs from a hook in my kitchen and I never let anyone wear it.
By way of Tennessee I ran into a Betty Boop mannequin, complete with an extra set of red plastic boots, an essential member of the cast of Saving Betty -- a novella I didn't even realize I was writing.
A Seattle tobacco shop, tucked in the back of Pikes Peak Market was an empty Oliveros cigar box. Did you know Starr Randel and Mrs. Caulton, characters in Shooting Sdax and Starring Alaska, love a good cigar?
Old military gear, magazines, post cards, salt-n-pepper shakers, maps, and decorative chop sticks are just some of the things I've discovered in my domestic travels.
Starring Alaska is the final book in the Calricaraq series. Now that Starr Randel has been discharged from the Coral Bend residential facility, she can focus on putting her life back together. There's a wedding to plan and she has to find a new career path. But her family history is calling her. This is her chance to go back, to unearth the trauma that plagued her mother and her grandmother. Will her family's history help Starr heal? (Click the image to pre-order your copy.)
Saving Betty is the historical fiction novella about a Navy nurse who's loved and lost only to find herself stationed on Adak Island during the Aleutian Campaign of 1942. She's lured to this place by the strength and beauty portrayed in the wartime posters of the nightingale nurse. She goes to prove a point to her ex-fiance, John Candlewick and to find healing in the Birthplace of the Winds. On the boggy tundra she comes face-to-face with an Eskimo Scout, an unlikely comrade and perhaps a man she can love.
The missing piece that ties the Calricaraq series together, Saving Betty, is the story of Starr Randel's grandmother and a startling example of how trauma can impact generations to come. (Click the image to pre-order your copy today!)
Whether you're a writer or a reader, I hope that you're enjoying some semblance of travel and adventure. Do you like to explore antique shops? If so, what's been your greatest find? If not, where do you go for fun? And, fellow writers, where do you get your inspiration for characters, scene, and setting?