6/18/13

The Lowcountry Summer Trilogy and Sweepstakes

I always know summer has arrived when I click on the television and hear the local meteorologists using terms like ‘heat index’ and ‘heat advisory’ during their weather reports.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not complaining about the summertime heat.  This year it was a long time coming.  Rather, I’m the opposite--grateful for sea breezes, porch fans and pitchers of sweet tea--with lots of ice and a twist of lemon, please!  I can’t think of a more natural, charming and beautiful place to be than right here at home in the Lowcountry.   The name comes from the fact the coastal area region sits at or below sea level, thus the term "low country," and is home to a maze of winding creeks, black-water swamps canopied by ancient cypress, and picture-perfect sights of the Atlantic Ocean


The heat and humidity of the summer season elicits a desire in so many of us to slow down, step away from the busyness of everyday life, and find time to enjoy a good book or two… or ten!  It’s been a thrill seeing my new novel THE SUMMER GIRLS on a number of best ‘summer reads’ and ‘beach reads’ lists, including CBS, Southern Living  and Deep South.  Even more exciting is that in one week, I’ll officially be sharing my new novel with you.  THE SUMMER GIRLS is the first installment of The Lowcountry Summer Trilogy.  The three novels take place on Sullivan's Island with the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin as the backdrop.  While researching the intelligent, social, and beguiling dolphins, so many layers began to take shape in this southern story it had to be a trilogy.


I draw the themes of my novels from the animals I'm researching.  Dolphins are masters of communication with their clicks, whistles, and sonar. They are very social and have strong family bonds.  Finally, there is something about them that elicits connection.  Thus I had my novel's themes: communication, family bonds, and connection.  From these I drew my plot, characters descriptions, and the issues facing my characters. Without giving any spoilers, here’s a brief preview of The Lowcountry Summer Trilogy.

THE SUMMER GIRLS - Marietta Muir, "Mamaw," is a grand dame of Charleston, SC, retired now at her ancestral summer home, Sea Breeze, on Sullivan's Island. Her granddaughters Carson, Eudora and Harper once adored vacations there, but it’s been years since they’ve visited and now the young women are estranged.  Mamaw fears once she is gone, the family bonds will fray so she invites her "summer girls" to celebrate her 80th birthday at Sea Breeze.  Mamaw, following the legacy of their pirate captain ancestor, drops a subtle promise of loot—pearl necklaces, priceless antique furniture, even the house—to lure her girls back home.  Once there, the three women uncover family secrets, failures, shortcomings and tragedies that further strain this family.  Their hope lies in a friendly wild dolphin, named Delphine.  And it is her harrowing journey that ties each of the stories together.

Each book in the trilogy focuses on one granddaughter, but the stories of all the women continue in all the books. In THE SUMMER GIRLS Carson takes center stage.  For years, Carson Muir has never really settled, certain only that a life without the ocean is a life half lived. Adrift and penniless in California, Carson is the first to return to Sea Breeze, wondering where things went wrong…until the sea brings her a minor miracle. Her astonishing bond with a dolphin helps Carson renew her relationships with her sisters and face the haunting memories of her ill-fated father. As the rhythms of the island open her heart, Carson begins to imagine the next steps toward her future.


SUMMER SOLSTICE (working title).  This book focuses on Dora, a southern woman who followed all "the rules" and is bitter when her marriage, her sense of self, her life falls apart.  Carson's continuing story has her traveling farther south to the gulf coast of Sarasota and to the Florida Keys.  Nine year old Nate, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, heads to Florida with Carson for life-changing  experiences with dolphins in managed care.  Readers get a glimpse of the magic-like power of communication between wild dolphins and autistic children.  This novel will reveal more of the unique ability dolphins have to connect with children of special needs in ways that perhaps no one and nothing else can.  I observed it first-hand during my research at the Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key, FL and I assure you it is absolutely beautiful to watch.  This novel’s central focus is rehabilitation, the healing of self. Through this ongoing connection with one dolphin, Delphine, my main characters are challenged with the question of whether they can stretch beyond their comfort zone to communicate not just with animals but also with each other.  

SUMMER’S END- This book focuses on Harper, the youngest sister.  Unmarried, she lives with her British mother, a successful editor at a major publishing house in New York.  Harper is an academic, tied to the internet.  Her journey takes her to the history of Sullivan's Island and the early slave trading.  The main theme of this third and final novel is the question of release, or finding yourself.  It’s also a very serious question in the real world of marine science regarding dolphins, rehabilitation, and release to the wild.  But in the novel it’s also a critical issue in the lives of Mamaw’s “Summer Girls,” who are trying to re-connect with each other and heal themselves as well.  It’s the perfect conclusion for the trilogy--a summer season for three young women struggling to find their own identity, struggling to communicate, working to repair the bonds of sisterhood and reconnect with their family roots.  And during all of their challenges and discoveries they must also make the decision about the life of one dolphin.  Should Delphine be in human care or should she be returned to the wild, despite her injuries?
 
When all the installments of The Lowcountry Summer Trilogy are finally released, I hope that the reader is touched by this profoundly moving relationship my characters have with a wild dolphin. A relationship that changes the course of all their lives.  No character is left untouched--and I hope that will be true for you, as well.   Delphine will highlight the communication and development of these women and their relationships and their healing.

Of all the species I’ve worked with--turtles, butterflies, birds--the dolphin is the one I felt a very close and personal bond. Perhaps its their intelligence, or the fact that we are both mammals.  In THE SUMMER GIRLS, I believe you’ll feel that deep, emotional connection too.     

And here's a special offer: click here to enter the Lowcountry Weekend Sweepstakes! Celebrate the launch of the Lowcountry Summer Trilogy in the Lowcountry! Who wouldn't want a getaway for two, enjoying nights at the Wild Dunes Resort and a sunset dolphin cruise?  Good luck and I can't wait to meet the winner!



13 comments:

  1. I LOVED "The Summer Girls" and immediately went to purchase the rest of the trilogy. So sad! I have to wait!

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  2. When will the other books in The Low Country Summer Trilogy be released

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  3. I NEED the next book in the The Summer Girls trilogy! Hurry, hurry!

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  4. Loved the second book "The Summer Wind" and hope to be able to buy the third in the series soon.

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  5. Finished Summer Girls...Now reading Summer Wind...Can't wait for the third installment...Very nice work...

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  6. I have just finished your second book and it was fabulous. Can't wait for the third book, but I think that it should be called "Summer Sunset".

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  7. When will the third book be released? I devoured the first two and am craving the third.

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  8. just finished the second book. can't wait for number three!!

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  9. Just finished the second book, Summer wind......dying to get ahold of the third installment!

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  10. I haven't read books since high school 1963. This was all new to me. I really
    enjoyed reading The Summer Girls and will look for the #2 #3 to follow

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  11. Also can't wait for book three. I'm missing my new friends and Mawmaw.

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  12. rklamb68@yahoo.comOctober 18, 2014 at 5:10 PM

    I just finished Summer Girls. holy cow I didn't think a poolside read could change my life but it did...off to write my version btw Im carson even down to the A.A. wow

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  13. Reluctantly, I've now completed "The Beach House". I told my wife it was like watching a really good Hallmark movie. The insight of the emotions was truly very realistic. Since that's the first of you books I've read, it looks like I'm going to have enough to last me the rest of my lifetime.

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All the best,
Mary Alice