A New Kindred Spirit Bench!

The new Kindred Spirit bench has arrived! Tom Thomas and his family drove all the way from Atlanta, Georgia to bring the new bench he made to replace the one we lost to Tropical Storm Ana.

Sometime tomorrow afternoon, Monday July 27th, the Town of Sunset Beach is going to take it down to Bird Island for us.

This morning Sandy and I went down to the mailbox to check the journals and to stake out the site for the new bench.

We found an odd thing at the top of the dune in front of the flag. A big gray garbage can. Empty, thank God. But how the heck did it get there? Surely no one dragged it all the way down the beach thinking we needed a trash can at the Kindred Spirit? My best guess is someone found it in the dunes, another casualty of Tropical Storm Ana. Anyway, I hope the Town takes it back with them when they bring the new bench down. Anyone lose a trash can?

There will be a celebration at the new park tomorrow, in the late afternoon. It’s to show our appreciation to Tom Thomas for all the work he’s done–making not one, but two Kindred Spirit benches!

Staked out for the New Bench

Staked out for the New Bench


The Stakes mark the spot

The Stakes mark the spot

Old Bench and soon-to-be new bench

Old Bench and soon-to-be new bench

Anyone missing a trash can?

Anyone missing a trash can?

Romance is my game…Or so I thought.

I write romance, I read romance, and I work at a bookstore where I sell romance. One would think I’ve got the bases covered, that I’d be familiar with all the popular romance authors. Our independent bookstore at the crossroads between Sunset Beach and Ocean Isle hosts some pretty big bestsellers including: Mary Alice Monroe, Dorothea Benton Frank, Diane Chamberlin, Patti Henry Callahan, and Kim Boykin. Our shelves are full of many lesser known authors and we support and stock books for many local authors as well. I read the lists. I belong to Romance Writers of America. I follow the reviews. Romance is my game. Or so I thought.

I began reading romance when I was twelve, combing the racks at the Post Exchange in Frankfort, Germany for the latest Emily Loring or Cherry Ames books. I have a strong connection to the romance genre. When I hold a new romance in my hand, I have to fight the feeling that if I put it down it will flame and go to ashes and I will never get to savor the story within. So I read voraciously. I cannot imagine going to the beach, pool, doctor’s office, or grocery store without a book tucked into my purse, tote, or recycle bag. I worry that in a hostage situation, I won’t have a book to read if I’m locked in a bank for days on end. Irrational, I know. When I finish a book, despite having a towering TBR (to be read) pile, I scour the Internet, the store bookshelves, and the romance blogs to secure my next fix. I thought I was familiar with at least every romance author—if not every book. I was wrong. And for many years I’ve missed a very good author.

Last week a customer came into the shop and asked about books by Roxanne St. Claire. I’d shelved a few of her books over the years but couldn’t remember reading or selling one. They had escaped my notice, flew under the radar. I could picture the covers in a vague sense, and I remembered that the simplistic quality hadn’t appealed. Even though we all deny it . . . we are all influenced by book covers. I shouldn’t have been, Roxanne is a one-woman show, as I am myself, and personally, I would bungee jump for a professionally done cover. No, no, I would not . . . zip line maybe. Any way, back to the customer who came into the bookstore.

Roxanne St Clair secrets on the sandHorrors . . . we had no Roxanne St. Claire books on the shelves. In all fairness, Roxanne specializes in Florida-based books while we are all about the Carolinas. I immediately ordered several titles, and reserved one for myself. Secrets on the Sand arrived just before the Easter break. On Good Friday I read the first four chapters. Yowza. It was like getting a Cadbury egg in your Easter basket. Delicious.

Zeke, known in high school as Ezekiel the Geekiel, is now mega successful. Okay, you guessed it, as in the “b” word. Due to inflation, we’ll probably be reading about trillionaires in the next decade, but for now, billionaire Adonises are the rage. Amanda, formerly known as Mandy the Magnificent, was the former prom queen and shapely cheerleader. Zeke had not been in her circle, although he worshipped her from afar and let’s just say, she was his “dream girl.” He ends up at an ultra posh hotel where she works as the maid who comes to clean his villa. The dynamics have changed. He’s now rich, powerful and handsome, e’yet she comes off as not interested. Her wealthy ex-husband broke her heart when he dumped her, and the pre-nup had her going from four hundred dollar beach cover-ups to dollar store tank tops over night. She’s not doing that that again. She’s not happy that Zeke remembers her as the only bright light during his adolescence and is coming on to her in a major way.

When a compromising situation gets her fired, he goes to see her. Here’s the swoon-worthy scene that’s made me a BFF (best fan forever):

She stared at him, waiting as he walked up to her and got down on one knee so they were face to face.

“Once when we were freshmen, some kid mowed me down in the hall and knocked all my books and my sixteen different calculators and protractors to the floor. You stopped and got down, like this, and helped me pick up every single thing. And when that kid laughed at you, do you know what you said?”

Her green eyes still swam in tears as she shook her head.

“You stood up and flattened him with a look and said, “Get to class because you obviously have none.”

She started to smile. “I could be a real—”

He held up a hand silencing her. “Angel. I thought you were an angel. I thought you were . . .” He swallowed. “Obviously to good for me.”

“Zeke, I . . .”

He looked down and took the laces of the other shoe, slowly tying them for her. When he’d knotted them, he looked into her eyes again. “You told me a few minutes ago that I was relentless.”

She nodded.

“Wait until you see the power of that.”

He heard her suck in a quiet breath. That was good. He wanted to take her breath away. And he would. She just didn’t know that yet.

Roxanne St clair barefoot in whitePretty yummy, huh? So I’m a fan for life. And you know how things happen in threes? The next day, I opened my Romance Writer’s Report and there’s a tutorial on revisions by . . . you guessed it, Roxanne St. Claire. I will read them over and over in hopes I can turn out a book as well written. Then I literally tripped over a book that fell off the paperback rack at the grocery store. You guessed it, Barefoot in White, by Roxanne St. Claire. Soon, my TBR pile is going to have all her titles.

Enjoy some fresh, sassy, beach romances until I can get my next beach romance out sometime in the fall.













Ocean Isle Beach History Talk at the Museum of Coastal Carolina

Ocean Isle Beach History

Old Ocean Isle Beach Ferry

One June 23rd I will be speaking at the Museum of Coastal Carolina in Ocean Isle Beach from 6pm to 7pm about some of the stories I’ve encountered while doing research for a new Ocean Isle Beach History Book. I would love for you to join and hear some of the fascinating history I’ve come across. Here is the press release for the event:

When you drive over the bridge to Ocean Isle Beach (OIB) today, houses cover the island from the east end to the west end. Yet, in mid-1954, there were only seventeen houses on the island and only ten permanent residents. When Hurricane Hazel swept over OIB in 1954, only two of the houses survived the storm. What was life like back then, when the only way to get to Ocean Isle Beach was by boat? On June 23 at 6 PM, the Museum of Coastal Carolina will take a trip down memory lane when it hosts a panel discussion of the early days of OIB – the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. The panel consists of V. Ryan (Bunny) Lauzon, June McLeod, Gladys Stanley, Gerry Strickland, and Virginia Williamson. The panel moderator is Sunset Beach author Jacqueline (Jack) DeGroot.

Jacqueline DeGroot has written 21 novels and books. She is currently working on a local history book with Miller Pope that is based on interviews with local residents. In addition, she is working on a third book in her Cemetery Kids series, a historical novel, and a contemporary novel.

The Museum of Coastal Carolina is located at 21 East Second Street, Ocean Isle Beach, NC. Admission is free for members. Non-member all-day admission (including NC sales tax) is $9 for adults, $8 for seniors, $7 for children, and free for age 2 and under. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day the museum’s hours are 10-8 Monday-Thursday, 10-5 Friday, and 10-1:30 Saturday. For more information, call 910-579-1016 or visit www.MuseumPlanetarium.org.

My Interview in Our State Magazine

kindred-spirit-mailbox our state magazine

Photo by Katie Quine

Last month, the day after Tropical Storm Ana visited, I was driving back from Virgina to meet Katie Quine, a journalist from Our State Magazine.  We were supposed to meet at the Kindred Spirit Mailbox. She came to Sunset Beach to interview both Frank Nesmith and me about the origins and the story of the mailbox.

That afternoon, just as I was running out the door to meet her, I got an email that the mailbox had been washed away and volunteers were scouring nearby areas to find it. Frank called and told her we would have to postpone. As you know, the mailbox was found intact and we set everything right in a few day’s time.


Photo by Katie Quine

Katie came back a few weeks later and we did the interview on Frank’s porch rather than at the mailbox. It felt more like talking with old friends than an interview. I could listen to Frank speak about Claudia and the mailbox over and over. Each time he tells the story another small detail of their lives emerges and the mailbox history grows.

I will probably never know all the secrets of the Kindred Spirit Mailbox, I don’t think anyone ever will, but it’s nice to hear a little more of the story each time.

Click Here to Read the article from Our State Magazine or read it in the June 2015 issue.

Sunset Beach Park Groundbreaking

Yesterday, Memorial Day Monday, I attended the ground breaking for the new Sunset Beach Park. The park is located adjacent to where the Old Sunset Beach Bridge stood. There was a crowd of a few hundred people, many of who were dressed in their uniforms from their days in armed forces.

The Memorial Day ground breaking ceremony included a beautifully sung National Anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance, and a dedication of a wreath on the Veteran’s Memorial by the Boy Scouts. They also asked all the men and women who had served in the armed forces to stand and state their rank and military branch. Here are a few photos from the event:

Sunset Beach Park Groundbreaking

New Sunset Beach Park Groundbreaking

Sunset Beach Park Groundbreaking Memorial Day Veterans

Sunset Beach Park Groundbreaking Memorial Day

My Interview with Good Morning Carolina!

Last week I was interviewed for a feature about The Kindred Spirit Mailbox on Good Morning Carolina. The episode aired on Monday Morning (May 18th) between 5:30am and 7am on WWAY. Sandy Payne and I rode out to the Mailbox and talked about some of the history behind it and how it was repaired after Tropical Storm Ana.

Here’s the video from the show (I didn’t see it live, it aired a little too early, even for me!)

Kindred Spirit Mailbox Interview on Good Morning Carolina

The Kindred Spirit is Back!

The Kindred Spirit is back! A big ‘Thank You’ to everyone who helped, this mailbox is truly being watched over! Our wonderful group of volunteers went out today and quickly set to work. The mailbox was put back in its original place (or as close as we could get since there was no marker), the bench was plotted next to it, and the flagpole was straightened and re-roped, and equipped with a new flag.

I cannot begin to thank everyone who helped, offered support, supplies, donations, and words of encouragement–there would simply be a never ending list. During the chaos of this week I looked up the definition on Kindred, it means “Relationship by blood.” After this week, I do not think even blood could unite this many people. The spirit of the mailbox is something much greater.

Riding down the the Mailbox, Supplies in tow.

Riding down to the the Mailbox, supplies in tow.

Couldn't have asked for a better day.

Couldn’t have asked for a better day

The Crew Walking Down

The Crew walking down

Erosion from Tropical Storm Ana

Erosion from Tropical Storm Ana

That's why they call is Bird Island

That’s why they call it Bird Island

Modeling the New Mailbox

Modeling the New Mailbox

I can't believe how much of the dunes washed away

I can’t believe how the dunes washed away

Debris in front of the Mailbox from the Storm

Debris in front of the Mailbox from the storm

Barren Flagpole

Barren flagpole

They started coming in droves

The helpers started coming in droves

The downed Mailbox and Bench

The downed Mailbox and bench

The bench miraculously remained in one piece

The bench miraculously remained in one piece

The Mailbox

The Mailbox

Journals from Post-Ana

Journals from Post-Ana

Strategy Meeting

Strategy meeting

Planning and Plotting

Planning and plotting

The New (Metal) Mailbox

The new (metal) Mailbox

Debris from the Storm

Debris from the storm

This trees is holding up these dunes

This tree is holding up this dune

Working Hard

Working hard

Picking up trash from the area.

Picking up trash

Removing the Old Mailbox (although not so old, it's only been there a month!)

Removing the old Mailbox, although not so old, it’s only been there a month!

Digging Holes

Digging holes

Fixing the flagpole

Fixing the flagpole

“Quick someone Google how to thread a flagpole”

Joey helping out

Joey helping out

Re-roping the flagpole

Re-roping the flagpole

Our trusty ropers

A little spot of Paradise

A little spot of paradise

The Kindred Spirit

The Kindred Spirit Bench

Mailbox and Bench, back together again

Mailbox and bench, back together again

In business again!

What a view!

What a view!

Raising the Flag

Raising the flag

There is goes!

There she goes!

Blowing in the wind

The Kindred Spirit Mailbox is back!

The Kindred Spirit Mailbox is back!

Writing in the notebook

Writing in a notebook

The Kindred Spirit

The Kindred Spirit is here at Sunset Beach

Our wonderful volunteers!

Our wonderful volunteers!