Nearly ten years ago, I was considering my first series of inspy romance and an idea was born. Book 1 would feature Leslie, a fifty-something teacher facing an empty summer. Her husband had just filed divorce papers. The house that had been her family’s haven for fifteen years was going up on the market. Her daughter had been accepted for a prestigious internship overseas, so she couldn’t come home for one last summer.
Life was looking pretty dark. Until she decided to just hit the road. Follow her faith and see where God led her.
I decided Leslie would end up in Pawleys Island, South Carolina on her roadtrip because it was a special place to me. I used to vacation there in the 1960s and 70s with my extended family. As I worked through the plot, I realized Leslie would need a place to stay. Somewhere cozy, inspiring, life-changing. Somewhere that would heal her heart and draw her closer to God.
Somewhere she could fall in love.
The real Pawleys Island is known for having very few businesses on the island itself. Four miles long and a mile wide, it’s a simple barrier island that houses only a police station/town hall, private homes and a few condos. No McDonalds, no donut shops, etc. You have to cross the causeway bridge and go to the mainland for that.
Where would Leslie stay?
I pulled up my internet browser and started searching. As it turns out, there are two inns on the island where people can stay. One is Pelican Inn, an 8-room bed and breakfast built in 1858. The other is the SeaView Inn, built in the 1930s, has a variety of rooms and cottages and provides two delicious meals a day in their chef-inspired kitchen.
I started scouring the SeaView Inn’s website and photo gallery and immediately felt a stirring in my heart. They call it “A Barefoot Paradise Since 1937.” It faces the saltwater creek in the front and the ocean in the back. It was a place I’d want to vacation, so I knew it was a perfect spot for Leslie. Ocean waves, calm breezes, sunrises over the Atlantic and sunsets over the marsh. I was hooked.
I wrote them an email and explained that I was a fiction writer and was inspired by their inn. Could I include it in my stories? They wrote back and asked if I would change the name slightly. I did. In the Pawleys Island Paradise series books I refer to the SeaView Inn as the Seaside Inn.
Now we’re in January of 2022. I’m the President of the Lowcountry chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. At our board meeting I asked for ideas of new activities we could introduce to our members. Someone suggested a writers retreat at a beach resort. Somewhere we could bond and grow in our friendships, learn a little bit, inspire each other, and spend long hours writing independently.
I knew just the place! I contacted the SeaView Inn and planned the retreat. It took place a few weeks ago and it was a unanimous success! The inn was a perfect location – centrally located for all our members. Gorgeous beauty straight from God to inspire our creativity. Two delicious meals provided to us meant we didn’t have to think about or plan meals. Lots and lots of little hideaways, inside and outside, where we could go with our laptops and write endlessly.
It was a magical experience for me because it was truly a full-circle moment. I couldn’t help remembering that “2012 me” dreaming up my first series and fictionalizing this very inn as an important place for my characters. I ate in the dining room where Leslie ate. I stayed in the rooms where Leslie stayed. Walked the same beach. Watched the same sunsets.
In the cozy great room, so like the room in my imagination where the Harrison clan frequently gathered, I was scanning the huge bookshelves on either side of the fireplace and made an amazing discovery – my book, Roadtrip to Redemption was in their collection! My heart skittered and I whispered a word of thanks. I know God had His hand in that series – from where I set it, to the characters to the storylines. And finding my book on this special inn’s shelf was His wink at me.
Enjoy some of these pictures from my weekend there.
Where is your magical place? Why do you love it so much?