Friday, July 06, 2012

Stumbling Around

Karen Casey Fitzjerrell is the author of The Dividing Season, a blogger, and a good friend. She's also one of the authors featured in The Corner Café, an anthology of short stories. Her book, The Dividing Season, is fiction, but Karen's a stickler for getting everything right in her books, including the setting and history.

Stumbling Around
Karen Casey Fitzjerrell


Sometimes it pays to back track even though our society wants to operate on the unspoken rule of Full Throttle.

A few weeks ago, in order to save my sanity, I headed off to the Texas Gulf Coast for much needed rest and relaxation. I walked the beach, sipped chilled wine on the balcony and watched brown pelicans glide on warm Gulf of Mexico breezes. In a matter of days I’d down shifted to a more reasonable mode.

My mind drifted back to eight years earlier when I was on a similar mission of reconnecting with the truly important parts of my life. I had taken a side street off the main highway through Palacios ,Texas and literally stumbled onto a fiction writer’s gem: The Luther Hotel. The Luther, originally named the Tres Palacios Hotel, had been built 100 years previously. Not long after completion a Mr. Luther bought the money-strapped establishment and renamed it. At one time the hotel was the diamond of the Texas Coastline. Big money investors from cities like Chicago and New York regularly made the train trip to Texas to stay at The Luther. Back then the hotel claimed it had the longest front porch in Texas. The history of the place was so rich I knew without a doubt I’d include it in my novel, The Dividing Season, that I was working on at the time.



 So it was that on the fourth day of my May, 2012 sabbatical, curiosity overcame me. I drove the extra fifty miles to Palacios to see if the hotel was still standing. It was leaning with age the last time I’d seen it and there’d been a few major hurricanes to hit the coast since that time. I had no idea what to expect but when I rounded a corner and turned onto South Bay Boulevard, there she was standing as proud and lovely as ever. True, she was still leaning. The foundation had sunk at her outside corners, but her middle had a fresh coat of gleaming white paint and a two people were sitting in rocking chairs on the porch. I was delighted.

The two men on the porch turned out to be a new owner and his friend. I explained my mission and they filled me in on The Luther’s history of the last eight years. The hotel is now 108 years old and all her history is still tightly bound inside the rock-hard pine siding.

As an aside, one of the men mentioned a prisoner of war who’d worked at the hotel busing tables back during WWII. I gulped and asked him to please tell me more. As he talked, I couldn’t believe my good and great fortune. I’d been reading anything I could get my hands on that concerned WWII Prisoners of War in Texas. I’d known there was a camp in that same county, that prisoners were often given jobs in towns, but never dreamed I’d find such a connection to the Luther. There I was stumbling onto the perfect location and backdrop for my next book exactly as it had happen eight years earlier.

It was unfortunate that I hadn’t allowed more time to “explore” for I would’ve loved to have stayed the afternoon talking with the two gentlemen. But I gave the new owner a signed copy of The Dividing Season and donated one to hotel’s library. I promised I’d be back with notepads and laptop so I could pick and dig through the hotel’s archives one more time.

A week after I got home, the owner of the The Luther emailed me to order ten signed copies of The Dividing Season and added that he’d like to plan a wine and cheese book signing event. I was flabbergasted.

The moral of this little missive is threefold. One: I should never doubt the power of curiosity. Two: Give away books. You never know what will come of it. And, three: Every now and then let go of the throttle, get out of the chair, away from the computer screen and out into the world to explore and reconnect.

You just never know what you’ll stumble on.

Thank you so much, Karen, for coming to Straight From Hel to share your news about the wine and cheese signing party at The Luther for The Dividing Season. I think that's fabulous! The Dividing Season is available on Amazon in paperback or e-book.

26 comments:

  1. What a cool story! It pays to do your research. I hope your signing goes well. I'm sure you have a wonderful book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks you Clarissa. I love research so much that I easily get side tracked. Thanks for commenting.

      Delete
  2. I love this story so much because it's been like that in my life as well. When we let go and meander and do what feels right in the moment, wonderful things can happen. Congratulations, Karen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Karen, love the word "meander." It can lead us anywhere. And in fiction anywhere can be a good thing.
      kcf

      Delete
  3. Another thing about Karen is that she's just about the friendliest person around. She just sort of draws you in with her smile.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah shucks, thanks Helen. And thanks a million for hosting me. I really did enjoy the trip back to the Luther and re-discovering its possibilities for story backdrop. kcf

      Delete
  4. Wow, and you'll get a fancy book signing out of the deal! Very cool hotel.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just saying.......... You never know. kcf

      Delete
  5. Congratulations on all the serendipity, Karen. Your story made my day!

    Marian Allen
    Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Marian. The experience enlightened a whole year's worth of writing. kcf

      Delete
  6. Living in the moment and giving without expectation of return is a great way to go about life. Lovely that just being who you are [curious and receptive to joy] opened professional doors for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've said for years that curiosity will be my downfall or a key to happy writing. Thanks for commenting. kcf

      Delete
  7. A brilliant reminder to get out of the office and take a look around!

    ReplyDelete
  8. A good reminder to connect with the world and others. One that I need to hear! Lovely hotel.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not only a lovely hotel, Elizabeth, but one chuck full of stories that one could use as a spring board for fiction. kcf

      Delete
  9. I agree Laura and Elizabeth. It's a great reminder that there's life and opportunities beyond your desk!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I agree, a great story! I felt as though I was there with you, and thrilled at the invitation you got for the book signing. Having read Dividing Season, it was so interesting to see a photo of the hotel. Great book, highly recommend it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had envisioned the hotel as fairly small. I agree with you, Susan. It was interesting to see the real hotel!

      Delete
  11. Great Story, Karen. And I'll certainly look forward to reading whatever it is you're writing with the POWs & the Luther in it!
    Andi

    ReplyDelete
  12. What an interesting sojourn, Karen. I believe that if we take the road less traveled, we will find little vignettes of life and good things will come to us as a result.

    Glad you shared your little adventure, letting us know about the hotel as well as your upcoming book signing. What an experience!

    Alice

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true, Alice. Get off the crowded highways, and see the unexpected.

      Delete
  13. It was quite an shock when the two men starting talking about POW Camps in Texas. Who would've thought!?! Now, I'm wondering what might happen if I head back to that concrete house I told you about.

    Helen, thanks again for hosting me. It's been nice. kcf

    ReplyDelete
  14. Karen, Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story. Made me recall one of our surprise finds when we drove into Victoria, Texas. I'll never forget those lovely old houses and churches. Maybe we'll meander to your old hotel sometime soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you happen to meander there during the time of the book signing, head over to the hotel. Karen is super friendly.

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...