Well, I’m back, friends! And what a week it was in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC as my sister and I soaked up the green with our drought-dry California eyes, explored this area of our country so saturated with history, and enjoyed the hospitality of dear friend Sandra Barnes and her gracious family. (By the way, Sandra has just released her amazing debut YA novel, Presence of Cyn! I hope to have her visit this blog soon to talk more about it, but do check it out here.)
I’m still processing all I learned from the trip and how to work the new research and info I gleaned into my current novel-in-progress, which begins in 1863 Washington DC. But I thought I’d go ahead and share some snapshots from our time. I hope you enjoy!
Highlights from the trip:
1. Learning more about African-American history and culture. From visiting more than one African-American church with deep historic roots, to the privilege of meeting and learning from Dr. Tressie Muldrow, whose participation in the Woolworth’s lunch-counter sit-ins as a college student in 1960 was only the beginning of her work and activism, to exploring Frederick Douglass’s house and the African-American History wing of the Smithsonian, to attending church with Sandra and her family on Sunday, I gained a new appreciation and understanding of the richness and diversity, yet cohesiveness, of the African-American community.
2. Novel-in-progress research and history-absorbing. While I always seem to need to know more, I learned a great deal on this trip, as inevitably happens when I visit the actual sites where I am setting a novel or talk to people personally knowledgeable about my subject matter. Sometimes this ends up poking holes in my plot and character relationships–for example, I hadn’t realized Freedman’s Village was not a very feasible distance for daily travel from DC by horse and carriage–but that is a good thing, if the material wasn’t sturdy enough to begin with. Now I just have to figure out how to reweave the story so it is stronger than before! The Washington DC area is truly saturated with history. My sister and I had many moments of grabbing each other and saying, “Wait–that’s the White House! That’s the Washington Monument! That was actually worn by George Washington!” Fun times. 🙂
3. Hanging out with my sister and with Sandra and her family. It’s amazing how much better you can get to know people when you actually spend a week with them. And did I mention the beautiful GREEN all around?! I kept saying to my sister–“Wow, no sprinklers!” We even got to visit a charming cluster of Amish farmstands.
So, without further ado–I hope you enjoy this peek into our week walking the footsteps of history. 🙂 Do comment and tell me any photos you’d like follow-up posts on! We came back with plenty of stories…