Today I’m excited to continue the series, Heading Home Together, as we gear up for the launch of my memoir, A Place to Land, releasing April 1st, 2018.
This series features a number of guest writers sharing their own thoughts and reflections on themes related to home, eternity, longing, and belonging.
Join me as I welcome author and blogger Lindsey Brackett. Lindsey is a long-time member of the Five Minute Friday community, and recently released her first novel, which you can learn more about below.
These days, I think a lot about how places continue to shape our character and decisions long after we’ve left. I grew up in a tiny town only spitting distance from UGA football and lakes that shimmer all summer. The Granite Capitol of the World is Elberton’s claim to fame—and you can tell who’s getting prepared for the end times by the tombstones on display as you enter downtown.
These days I’m raising my family a few miles north in a place the Cabbage Patch dolls call home, a community that hovers on the foothills of Appalachia. My blood connection to these woods and blue ridges lies with my paternal grandfather who loved a campfire and hot coffee with almost the same intensity with which he loved my grandmother. But even so, sixty-plus years of fall camping trips to the ‘secret’ Walnut Tree isn’t the same as having been born into this place and these people. I get the history—but not the lineage.
I’ve noticed living in this area for the past ten years, you can belong to a place in zip code and phone record but never really belong. Never really feel a part of the intricate web of history and genealogy that so pervades small southern towns.
Most summers, my family packs up the minivan and heads across two states, hopping on I-95 and winding down to the coast of South Carolina, where the Lowcountry is edged by barrier islands and sleepy Edisto awaits. I grew up riding waves and scraping shells out of my swimsuit on this beach that’s like a portal to another time.
My mother grew up coming here after the tobacco had been hung to dry in the barns and school was near on the horizon. I wrote a novel that’s set on these shores and dirt roads hung with Spanish moss. So it’s more than just a vacation destination. It’s as much home as the Granite Capitol that raised me and the mountains that hold me now.
This realization came a few years ago, after I’d been gone awhile and returned to be saddened by the changes—and heartened by all that stayed the same. That summer we rode bikes in the evening twilight and bashed our knees in the high tide waves. We hunted snail shells and sharks’ teeth and the elusive sand dollar. We set up canopies and played all day.
One afternoon I rode my bike in search of two older beach cottages the local historian said would help me visualize the Edisto of my mother’s childhood. There was a woman tending tomatoes and flowers in the raised beds of a community garden in someone’s front yard. She wore a floppy hat not unlike the one my maternal grandmother clamped on her white head as she picked her way across the sand.
I stopped, hoping to ask a few questions.
“Where you from, honey?” was her iconic greeting.
I told her where we live, added that I’d grown up coming here with my grandparents from nearby Walterboro.
“Oh,” she said with an easy wave of her hand. “You’re local then.”
Local indeed. Every time I set down a scene on the page capturing this place as it was—and maybe as it will be—I’m grateful for my lineage. I offered a talk at the Colleton Memorial Library recently about those scenes that became a book, and the people who attended told me stories.
My grandparents have been gone from this place and this earth over twenty years, but they are not forgotten by those who knew them. With each handshake and signature, I draw a little closer to my history. My roots may be spread wide from this Lowcountry soil to the fertile fields of Georgia, but my heart is grateful to know, there’s always somewhere I’ll be a local.
Here’s a short summary:
Cora Anne Halloway has a history degree and a plan—avoid her own past despite being waitlisted for graduate school. Then her beloved grandmother requests—and her dispassionate mother insists—she spend the summer at Still Waters, the family cottage on Edisto Beach.
Despite its picturesque setting, Still Waters haunts her with loss. Here her grandfather died, her parents’ marriage disintegrated, and as a child, she caused a tragic drowning. But lingering among the oak canopies and gentle tides, this place also tempts her with forgiveness—especially since Nan hired Tennessee Watson to oversee cottage repairs. A local contractor, but dedicated to the Island’s preservation from development, Tennessee offers her friendship and more, if she can move beyond her guilt over his father’s death.
When the family reunion brings to light Nan’s failing health, Cora Anne discovers how far Tennessee will go to protect her—and Edisto—from more desolation. Now she must choose between a life driven by guilt, or one washed clean by the tides of grace.
Award-winning writer Lindsey P. Brackett once taught middle grades literature, but now she writes her own works in the midst of motherhood. Her debut novel, Still Waters, influenced by her family ties to the South Carolina Lowcountry, is a story about the power of family and forgiveness. Called “a brilliant debut” with “exquisite writing,” Still Waters also received 4-stars from Romantic Times.
A blogger since 2010, Lindsey has published articles and short stories in a variety of print and online publications including Southern Writers Magazine Best Short Fiction (2015 and 2017). Her popular column appears in local North Georgia newspapers weekly. Currently, Lindsey is a general editor with Firefly Southern Fiction, an imprint of LPC Books, and she freelances as a writing coach. Previously, Lindsey served as Editor of Web Content for the Splickety Publishing Group where she wrote and edited flash fiction.
A Georgia native, Lindsey makes her home—full of wet towels, lost library books, and strong coffee—at the foothills of Appalachia with her patient husband and their four rowdy children. Connect with her at www.lindseypbrackett.com or on Facebook: Lindsey P. Brackett, Instagram: @lindseypbrackett, or Twitter: @lindsbrac.
Photos courtesy of Lindsey P. Brackett, used with permission.
Disclosure: Affiliate links have been used in this post.