Beach Heart Cottage came to me by chance. I have authored a few books about to be rereleased. That's a past life for sure! Back to the photo below. Why a photo of this seaside dinner plate? That simple dish part of a set of four came to me one night about five years ago. We were selling our home in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. I had retired from my fifteen yearlong interior design business. Oh, how I needed to reset. If I had to look at one more paint swatch or go to another job site, I would crumble. I took a temporary job near my home. The hours were funky as was the place, but I needed to get out. I won't mention the name, but I did make many wonderful friends with co-workers.
One night a woman who had come in several times to see her doctor, stopped at my desk, and said, "I have something for you." I looked up surprised. The soft-spoken older woman always chatted with me while she sat in the waiting room. She spoke of her grandchildren, husband, and dreams. Well, she took me by surprise.
She hands me a box. Huh? "Go on open it!" Her face lit up. "Go on," Feeling awkward, I did and inside under bubble wrap I found four nautical dishes. She proceeds to tell me since I was moving to Hatteras and living out a dream of hers, I must have a BEACH HEART! She had bought the dishes in hopes that she would move to the beach. Due to her health, that dream would never find fruition. WOW! That brought sudden tears to me, and she followed suit. We soon shared our tears and hugged.
Months later we sold our house, packed up the U-Haul, dog, cat, stuff and moved into our cottage. The gifted dish set was packed away into the buffet. Now, I have run ideas for a beachside book with so many ideas. (I had just finished two novels to be released, YOU LEFT ME ONCE and MOSAIC MERMAID) None of the latest ideas stuck until I took the dishes out to paint the buffet. There it was in front of me all along...The dishes, well, my book has nothing to do with dishes. But I thought what if there was a cottage, on Hatteras, named the Beach Heart Cottage? I mean we all leave a piece of our hearts here. What about a vintage cottage that has weathered storms as if protected with a shield of amour. A coxy cottage with deep wrap around porches and rocking chairs, and a porch swing, yes! A place where the walls are embedded with so many memories, Laughter, joy, and too many emotions to mention. A place where you can feel the coolness of the worn wooden floors beneath your feet. A fireplace of old red brick. A wooden mantel lined with photos of past generations. Better yet, what if it's a cottage where a sisterhood of women go? They celebrate a yearly tradition passed down through generations. What would these women celebrate? Hmmm. I would pace, tap my cheek, and stare at the dishes.
Then it came to me one morning when I meditated down at the beach. I remember it was November; it was chilly. I bundled up so heck, why not! I observed the ocean and its moods, and they say ask and it is given. Well, I called out to the ocean "HELP! I need to figure out this book." Nothing happened. I waited and was about to get up and looked out past the breaking waves. There was a school of dolphins frolicking! And as if a movie were playing in front of me. (Like most of my books do) it happened. There they were, the characters, their names, how they looked, spoke and there was a history to why these women came to the island. The dolphin's tails shimmered in the morning sun. That's it! I yelled out. Thankfully, I was alone. The entire book was as if those dolphins were angels feeding me ideas. I saw my characters dressed as mermaids in vintage costumes and celebrating a family fable in front of a bonfire under the full moon. WOW! It was coming at me like lightning. So fast I had to rush home and write it down!
That was three years ago when I started the book then stopped since our house was under full chaotic renovations. Just when I thought I was done interior designing it was back. To haunt me in my house! Then six months ago the vintage photo of the women dressed as mermaids found me out on the web. I was not looking! PERFECT. I searched high, low, and in between for ownership. Zero, zilch. (I do have a quote in the book still looking for the owner.) The original is black and white. That was then I decided to set the book in August, yes, August is perfect. And that is the story of how a woman, a set of dishes, a school of dolphins inspired me to write the Beach Heart Cottage!