How early is too early when you are racing against time?
We awoke to hear that Barbuda was wiped out. I was still waiting for my love to tell me that we shouldn’t go. I've been known to make rash decisions when it comes to crazy ideas. It was four in the morning, and we took care of the dogs before heading out the door. He had already mapped our route, and we were on our way. Coffee, gas and some Mcmuffins were the next stop.
The conversation was good over the roar of the van. A cargo van is not built for comfort, and there is no insulation. I wrapped up in my throw and tried to chat. We hadn’t seen each other in a couple of weeks, and we had lots to talk about. The importance of the pieces we were picking up was one topic.
The wardrobe of my childhood was a gift from a neighbor on Skipwith road in Richmond Virginia. I don’t have a memory without it. Mr. Ford gave it to my Mom and Dad because he loved us. It was appraised as an antique then, and he wanted it to have a good home. He was my Grandfather figure even though we were not related. When we were not allowed to have pets, he adopted a spaniel named Queenie, my first dog. She just lived next door, but I saw her every day. Every time we moved, Mom would lovingly and carefully take it apart and wrap it in linens so the mirrors on the front doors would not break. It held our art projects and the 8mm film reels of my past with the projector to view them. In the bottom drawer, we stored our winter gloves, scarves and hats, although it was so wide, we couldn’t open it without Mom’s help. I can picture us jumping up and down waiting for Mom to get our gloves so we could play in the snow.
My grandmother’s cedar chest from the 1940’s. It was always placed at the end of her bed. I never knew what it contained until we opened at after her funeral. There were memories of her childhood, pictures of the past during World War II, newspapers from that time of high school classmates who had fallen during the war, my father’s baby keepsakes and a few surprises. I will talk about in a later post.
The last item we were driving to retrieve was an elegantly framed picture of dogwood blooms. It was given to my parents by a church member. In every one of our Christmas pictures, it was on the wall behind us. My Mom told me that it was from one of the local Virginia plantation homes. It is a simple still life print, but I love it all the same and can’t imagine my parent’s wall without it.
He patiently listened partially to just stay awake, but I know that he loves me because he kept driving for three things. Just three things.
Irma is still coming, and the Governor of Florida has now announced the mandatory evacuation of the Florida Keys.
I know that I have been away from the page for a long time, but I have been busy finishing Book 1. The research that I have done to make my story an accurate one started here with Leesa Jones. She has done an incredible job bringing the Underground Railroad to the public in a way that is understandable. If you are on Facebook, there is a great amount of information on the Museum's page, Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum. The artifacts in the museum include newpaper articles and documents from the 1800's. A large part of the exhibit is the volunteers themselves who reenact "the code" to freedom and answer any questions visitors might have.
I had a conversation with Leesa Jones Mother's Day weekend about what the true purpose of the conductors on the Underground. To me, the purpose was to provide a safe place where hope could renew. It was that hope for freedom that kept the travelers moving and preventing them from giving up. The conductors were safe-keepers of Hope.
Today, the Museum provides that to the many children that visit. They can see in the past how the African American slaves would not let their circumstances define them. They sought freedom and had hope for a better life. What a great example to all students that seek to over come their own circumstances in their search for a better future.
I hope that you all get a chance to visit the museum soon. The railroad car sits in the park next to the Civic center and has a beautiful view of the Washington Waterfront.
August was amazing for my growth as a writer. I went to a writer's retreat at the beach very close to home. The seminars were mind-blowing and such a bargain. The women writers that I met were amazing. And of course the scenery was just perfect. It fit my personality and my needs.
The Babes on the Beach Writer's Retreat was organized by Nikki Terpilowski of the Holloway Literary Agency. If any of you have priced classes in writing lately, you know how expensive they can be. This retreat was a bargain. There were seminars on Agents, Publishing Houses and their roles. We had a class on basic writing tips for novels and making your novel pop for the market place. Then we practiced what we learned. The Agents and Editors from Agencies and Publishing Houses sat down with us and read our projects. It was so awesome. By the end of the week, I had the opportunity to pitch my novel idea to Harlequin, Source and the Nancy Yost Literary Agency. Such an incredible opportunity.
One of my favorite things about BOTB2015 was the amazing women writers that I met. I was a little nervous because of my introverted tendencies. But I must say, I felt comfortable from the moment I arrived. There were Women's Fiction and Romance writers. I soon found out that I fit into the first category. There were groups from all over the United States. These ladies were in different stages in their careers. Some were very successful and were there to teach us. Some were published and looking for information to get their next deal and some were writing their first project, just like me. We had time to visit and get to know each other. I met ladies that became friends by the end of the week. Now, I have a support group to push me when I feel frustrated.
The beach was a relaxing setting for the week. Our meeting room was in a beach cottage on Emerald Isle, NC. Nikki organized seminars on yoga and reiki. The relaxation techniques helped with writer's block and stress and the time away from everyday life helped me write. During the retreat, I wrote in my free time. And yes there was free time in the packed schedule. The pool and beach were beautiful. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect setting.
I didn't want to leave it was such a wonderful week. It was just what I needed to turbo charge this project. BOTB2016 promises to be even better and I hope you all will join me. If you hurry there is a bargain price that will end very soon. Sorry Guys, Ladies only.
All photos on the website are taken by Tammera Cooper and remain her property.