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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

My home: deep porches, Billy Graham, Black Beard—we got pirates in NC! by Sarah J. McNeal #PrairieRosePub

I’m in transition right now…what to write next? I started off my writing career writing paranormal stories like The Legends of Winatuke trilogy and then the time travel story, The Violin followed by the beginning of my western series about the Wildings starting with the time travel western Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride. I'm presently working of revisions for the Winatuke trilogy...let me rephrase that; I am rewriting the Winatuke trilogy. After I finish those revisions I am eager to get on to something new.

But where do I go from here? Among some of the ideas to which I have given thought, I’ve considered writing stories based here in my state of North Carolina. North Carolina has a colorful history ranging from pirates like Black Beard 
Black Beard's House in North Carolina

to Christian evangelists like Billy Graham. 
Rev. Billy Graham

We also have a unique southern culture that exists even here in Charlotte where people from other states have migrated in significant numbers over the last few decades and brought their culture with them. Charlotte wasn’t always metropolitan. In fact, it barely qualified as a city when my family first arrived back in 1952.

One element that has been present from the beginning is deep front porches, not those modern narrow porches in recent times that are supposed to represent deep porches, but the real thing. Porches were our social media. 

Families used to sit on their porches after supper and visit with friends, some of whom were just passing by on the sidewalk out front. Neighbors would share in the wonder of fireflies and the constellations as the kids played games in the yard. Sweet tea or lemonade loaded with ice quenched the thirst of the occupants of the porches as they shared news and gossip. Soft drinks original to the south like Cheerwine or Royal Crown Cola were sometimes served after my generation came along.

To deter the mosquitoes that are quite the nuisance in the hot, humid summers here, and to provide a cool breeze, people installed ceiling fans on the porch ceilings or used hand held fans—the same kind of fans used in church with a broad cardboard attached to a wooden stick. In church the fans usually had the face of Jesus or a person from the bible like Moses printed on the cardboard. Air conditioning was not a staple in the 1950’s like it is now.

Southerners talk with an accent and they use some words unique to the south. It's a slower, easier way of talking than my northern relatives use. But don't let that smooth molasses accent fool you; the south is filled with innovative people, artists, musicians, and thriving businesses. Duke University and Carolinas Medical Center are leaders in the medical community. Charlotte is the second largest banking city in the U.S.

North Carolina has its fair share of famous celebrities who were born and raised in North Carolina and those who have made immense contributions and accomplishments both personally and professionally. 

Famous people from North Carolina:

The Oscar winning Julianne Moore, 
Julianne Moore, Actress

the hilarious Zach Galifianakis and the gorgeous Ava Gardner, were all born in North Carolina. The state is particularly renowned for creating remarkable musicians such as Grammy winner Roberta Flack, Max Roach, Eric Church, Ron Milsap, and others. The state has produced several athletes as well such as NBA player Chris Paul, Olympic gold medalist Sugar Ray Leonard, and baseball player James ‘Catfish’ Hunter. The controversial Edward Snowden also hails from North Carolina.
Edward Snowden

Famous Literary Writers:

Thomas Wolfe
O. Henry
David Sedaris
Charles Frazier
Reynolds Price

Novelist, Nicolas Sparks

Singer, Roberta Flack

Attorney General for President Obama, Loretta Lynch

 So, I'm giving a great deal of consideration to writing stories from my home state. I can't imagine how comfortable it might be to write about the things I am familiar with in my stories.

Do you write stories that take place in your home state? If you wrote about stories that take place in places that are unfamiliar to you, how would feel about doing that? Would it be easy, uncomfortable, or maybe exciting doing research for such a project? What would be your first choice of states in which to place your story if it weren't your own state?

The Violin, my first time travel story, starts off in North Carolina.

THE VIOLIN (time travel/paranormal novel)

by Sarah J. McNeal

Can the heart live inside a violin case? Can a message reach across time?

Genevieve Beaumont is haunted by dreams of a drowning man she is helpless to save. When she buys a violin and discovers news clippings and pictures of its owner who died from downing inside the case, she realizes he is the man in her dreams.
She travels to the little town where he died 90 years before to investigate who he was and how he came to drown that day. Little does she know how her own life will be tangled in the mystery…until she steps through the threshold of time to 1927.

She heard him take in a slow breath before he spoke to her in a more relaxed, quiet tone. "I beg your pardon, miss, I didn't mean to curse. What's your name?" The younger man’s voice soothed her as he knelt beside the couch where she lay. He wrung out a cloth in the bowl of water beside his knee, folded it, and applied it to Genevieve's brow.
"My name is Genevieve Beaumont. I was just standing at the window and now…I'm here." She lifted a shaky hand to her brow. "My head is pounding."
"You bumped your head when you fainted. Is that a French name?"  He lifted a quizzical brow and smiled.
She lifted her eyes and got a good, close-up look at him then. Her heart almost stopped beating in her chest. She sucked in a deep breath. What was happening to her? How could any of this be possible? The man holding the cool cloth to her head was the man in the pictures she found in the violin case!
She would not have guessed he had auburn hair, or that his eyes were such a vivid, bottle green. He wore a collarless, khaki shirt with the sleeves rolled up and suspenders instead of a belt held up his tan, canvas trousers. Oh, but he was handsome—so much more than his pictures ever allowed. She didn't have time to admire the young man's good looks because her mind swirled round and round with the unfathomable implications of her situation.
Excerpt 2:
The music began again and the carousel began to move.  Slowly, Genevieve’s horse began its first ascent.  Her dress rose above her knees in the breeze created by the movement but she didn’t care.  She felt free and filled with golden happiness.
John stood watching her with his hand clasped gently, sensuously around her ankle.  When her horse descended, John let his hand slide up to her knee.  He gazed at her in that way he had earlier that day when she met him on the road.  His eyes were dark green and filled with mystery and something that looked like longing.  He bent his head and kissed her knee tenderly just as he had in her dream.  The electrifying feel of his full mouth on her sensitive flesh sent heat to her very core.  She shook her head as the moment of déjà vu passed over her.
With his hand still resting on her knee, John lifted his head and kept his eyes pinned to hers as she ascended once again.  As her horse began to lower her toward him, John reached up and clasped the back of her head to pull her toward him.  She leaned forward and met his kiss with a racing heart.  His kiss told her more than his words ever could that he was falling in love with her.  It was bittersweet knowledge to know it, to feel it.  They had so little time left.
“This was my dream,” she said barely audible over the music.
“I know.”  He ran his hand back down her leg to her ankle and kissed her on the lips once again…

Buy Link:   AMAZON

Diverse stories filled with heart


  1. Oh, I love time slip stories. This looks great. Thanks for the insight on your home state too.

    1. Thank you, C.A. Wow, you must get up early in the morning. Thank you so much for your comment,

  2. I loved reading this, seeing a glimpse of life in North Carolina and the famous people that hail from there. Had I been successful in posting my blog yesterday, Sarah, you'd see we're kindred spirits in drawing on our surroundings to create stories. I love both your excerpts, and found the second one particularly sensual and moving. I want to read MORE! Love it. Please follow your instincts and pay tribute to your state through your next story.

    1. Elizabeth, THANK YOU! I am so happy you liked my excerpts from THE VIOLIN. The story is almost entirely true except for the heroine. In fact, Livia Reasoner who designed the cover, used my Uncle John Doulas McNeal's picture. Just an interesting little factoid.

      I believe I would like to write stories in my home state because I love it here so much, but happenstance took me away from it when I began writing the Wildings stories in Wyoming.

      When I finish the edits on the Winatuke trilogy, I am going to see what comes up for me here in my state.

      Thank you so much for kind words and support. It means a lot to me.

  3. Sarah, isn't it amazing how sometimes when we just stop and think about what we want to write next, an idea comes to us that is so unique--and yet, it might not seem "unique" at all. Writing about our home, what we know, the places we go and have loved that have been there during historical times past, can mean so much to us. I remember coming to North Carolina when my ex bro-in-law and sister were at Cherry Point. He was a Marine, this was during the Vietnam era. I was about 10 years old. We went "crabbing" and sightseeing--really enjoyed ourselves, but found out as soon as we arrived there that my grandfather had passed away here in Oklahoma while we were making the long 3-day drive from here to North Carolina. So it was a bittersweet vacation for all of us. Still I remember so much about that trip that was good, beautiful, and just all around wonderful. So much history there! You can write something wonderful with all that, I'm sure!

    1. Cheryl, what a shame your trip to North Carolina was tainted by the loss of your grandfather.
      Since I was raised here and have spent most of my life here, I am very connected to this place. I especially like the smaller towns around Charlotte where the "old south" still lives. Of course I love that Charlotte is close enough to the beach and the mountains so I can go either place and enjoy a day trip.
      I don't know what I'm going to write yet, maybe something historical to get started so I can finally dig into the state history perhaps from the Revolutionary war. Something is brewing; I just don't know what it is yet.
      More than anything I want to write good stories wherever they may take place. If it's going to be in my home state I especially want it to be good and have the essence of my home in it.
      Thank you so much for taking the time to come and visit my blog. I know how busy you are and so it's especially appreciated.

  4. Sarah, I've heard so many wonderful things about North Carolina. You have a gold mine of stories, that's for sure.
    Since I live in Colorado, it is easier and I can walk the land of the stories I write. I am a lot more comforable in many ways. Yet, the Medieval stories I wrote harked back to my lineage, kinda. So, I guess it's a mix.

    Whatever you choose, it will be the right choice for you. Happy writing. Doris

    1. You see, Doris, that's how I want to feel, you comfortable and able to visit the places I write about. Even if I decide to write historical, at least I will have a familiarity with the place and its history.
      I have a mixture of excitement and trepidation about this transition as you might imagine.
      Thank you so very much for coming by and adding your thoughts. I always enjoy reading what you have to say.

  5. Sarah,

    I often set my stories in my home state of Colorado (and where I also live), or at least have my characters pass through, anyway. Texas and New Mexico are the other two states where my stories take place. I do massive amounts of research to get the setting right for all of my stories regardless of the location. I have a story in the works that takes place in 1956 Kentucky. I've never been to Kentucky, so I'll really have to brush up on it.

    1. Kaye, I did visit Wyoming with friends once back in the late 1960's. I was there only once, but I was struck by it's beauty and wildness. That's why I put my westerns in Wyoming. The research was massive even though I only used a small portion of what I researched, but it was hard having to look up foliage and trees along with everything else. I imagine that will be like you with your Kentucky research.
      Yes, I will still have to research, but I'm looking forward to it. I have often wondered how the streets and areas in Charlotte got their names. Now I may have the opportunity to learn about that and so many other things that will have some personal meaning for me.
      I love the 1950's even if readers may not. It brings up so much from my childhood that makes me feel happy. I'll be interested to see what you write in that era.
      I am so happy you came to visit my blog today. Thank you!

  6. Pirates in North Carolina? Sounds like some fun stories are waiting to be told in your home state. You should do what calls to you. It definitely helps to write about a place you've actually been to. I do both, and it's a lot of research to get a feel for a location to which I've never visited. I think it's an exciting time for you, Sarah, as you decide what to work on next. Good luck!!

    1. Thank you for your encouraging words, Kristy. I am so appreciative of your support and it certainly is good to know I'm not the only one who faces these challenges.
      I'm not certain what I'm going to write yet, but I am going to be happy to at least to write about things I am familiar with.
      Thank you!