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When the autumnal equinox happened this week, you could feel the changing of seasons here in the Lowcountry. A cool breeze pushed out the humid air, for at least the day.

Autumn's arrival bids farewell to the season of week-long family vacations and much-needed road trips. Were you able to getaway for a bit? My summer was slammed with book tour, a broken hand, family visits and another book to write.  But I did manage to escape to this picturesque place. 

Dewees Island, SC  (photo courtesy: Judy Fairchild)

This is Dewees Island, South Carolina; a Lowcountry barrier island that's only a twenty-minute ferry ride away from my home on the Isle of Palms.  This is where I got to work on the early chapters of my next novel, A LOWCOUNTRY WEDDING.

During this short respite, I began each day at dawn with coffee in hand on the screened porch overlooking the vast marshland.  I could spot terns, egrets and osprey hunting for their morning meals in the golden and green cordgrass.  Each evening, I enjoyed the swelling music of cicadas and the rising moon.
My porch view of Dewees Island

This was a rare escape for me last month, and I treasured my time there.  The house where I stayed is the same one the lucky winners of my Summer's End Sweepstakes stayed at back in May.  Kathy and Chip Webb of North Carolina were our lucky grand prize winners, and they wrote about their island escape. 

Meet the winners: Kathy & Chip Webb's Dewees Island getaway

Here's what they said:  

Chip's View:  The Dewees Island Ferry is a portal from one reality to another. We arrived at dusk, taking the ferry across the dolphin-laced waters to the Island. The Marshview Cottage is a restful retreat.  The great room opens to a screened porch overlooking the marsh. The marsh changes with the tides and the passing of the day, offering visual delights from sunrise to sunset. Morning coffee, the warmth of the morning sun, and a copy of “The Water is Wide” (by Pat Conroy) from the bookshelf resulted in an incomparable start to a day, Dewees Island style. The second morning, Kathy and I took the golf cart to one of the beach access trails. To experience the beach at Dewees Island is to walk a beach as did the original inhabitants and to be awed by unspoiled nature.    
Kathy’s View:  After three days of Island living, I love Dewees Island. It is an amazing living classroom for children and adults  I learned so much about the creatures and plants that inhabit this little piece of heaven. After exploring the Island, I did not realize what the residents had until I walked out on to the beach and walked for miles, picking up live starfish and whole sand dollars. I loved every minute of it: the quiet, the beauty. It was like living in a Mary Alice Monroe book!

Maybe their words will inspire you to experience the island for yourself one day.  If you're looking to disconnect from the busyness of daily life and reconnect with nature, Dewees Island is unmatched.  I can't think of a better place to be, no matter the season. 

Where's the best place you have stayed that immersed you in the natural world? 
Here's the Dewees Island marshview cottage.  Isn't the porch view incredible?   

  To learn more about Dewees Island, South Carolina, click here.  



It's thrilling for me to see the cover of one of my novels for the first time.  The charge never gets old. I think it's gorgeous, thanks to the talented team at Gallery Books.  To me, the dock symbolizes the lowcountry, and more, is important given the significance of the dock at Sea Breeze in the trilogy. 
That bride could even be Harper.  What do you think?

A book cover reveal makes the writing process come into sharper focus, especially when you're still crafting chapters!  Even though there is a lot left to do before next year's book release, the journey of writing A LOWCOUNTRY WEDDING is meaningful.  I'm excited to share it with you May 2016!

Thank you, wonderful readers, for making The Lowcountry Summer Series a bestselling success and for wanting to read more about the Muir sisters--Eudora, Carson and Harper--and their charming grandmother Mamaw, and of course Delphine.  All will be included as The Lowcountry Summer Series continues.  

Save the date my friends for May 3, 2016 because you're invited to enjoy A LOWCOUNTRY WEDDING.



A glorious night on the beach last night!

Along the southeastern coast we are in the hatching part of the sea turtle nesting season. Last night I went out to the beach on Isle of Palms, SC with my fellow Island Turtle Team members. Sitting on the sand under a foggy moon, being bitten by vicious beach ants, we watched as a loggerhead nest slowly rose to a boil.  When that happens, the loggerhead hatchlings, already free from their eggs, begin digging as a group and rise together like an elevator from 20" down.  At the top they rest for awhile. 
From the top we see a concave circle in the sand.

Over the course of an hour, or 2 or 3, it's like watching a birth.  Little bumps appear on top of the sand. Like contractions, the circle heaves and slowly the bumps get larger and I can see dark tips of heads and flippers emerge as the group below pushes upward.  We watch expectantly.  Suddenly something triggers the group that it's time to go!  With a great heave the 3 inch hatchlings begin scrambling out, climbing over each other, flippers waving, hatchlings tumbling down the slope, a hundred or more of them, in a mad dash for the sea.  It looks like a pot boiling over, which is how it got the name "a boil" When this happens, the turtles are healthy and vivacious and as a group they have a better chance at survival, fanning out across the beach, following the rules of predator glut.

It wasn't the best of conditions on the beach for them. The moon wasn't bright, and sadly-- and frustratingly-- some homeowner (who should have known better) left a bright light burning on her outside porch. It was a hassle getting all the hatchlings to the sea without them turning toward the bright light --and certain death. Plus, the sea was still far out and these hatchlings faced a long journey across two galleys to reach home. 

But make it they did.  My pals on the team, Mary and Jo, and Christi from the SC Aquarium and her sweet daughter Lillian were there to guide them to the water.  The hatchlings were valiant as the waves tumbled them back, further up the shore. Over and over they righted themselves and headed straight back in, following their ancient instinct to swim.

They'll swim for three days in a frenzy, non stop, to reach the vast sargassum floats in the Gulf that will protect them from predators as they get bigger. It is estimated that only 1 in 1000 of them will reach adulthood. Of those survivors, only the females will return to our area beaches some thirty years later to nest and continue the cycle of life.
A long journey ahead, little turtles.  God speed.  I thank God I was there last night to witness the small miracle of nature.  And I pray that I will be here --with my friends on the turtle team--to welcome the mama turtles home.

** Pix by Barbara Bergwerf from our picture book: TURTLE SUMMER. Published by Arbordale Publishing

MAM and Mary Pringle

A boil!

                                                       Fanning out.

Hatchling makes it to the sea.