It’s been an interesting week so far for me with my new book, The Believer, making a blog tour. That’s where lots of bloggers agree to read and then post reviews of a new book. Most of the reviewers have been kind. While one or two haven’t embraced the Shaker background, others have been fascinated and have enjoyed learning about the Shakers. And while I’ve researched and read and tried to keep in my head lots of Shaker traditions, etc., I’m still learning too.
Wendy, Lonnie and I went to the Shaker Village near here on Monday to eat lunch and get a bit of the Shaker atmosphere. And then we talked and chatted so much, we really didn’t have a lot of time to look around. But we were fortunate enough to hear a young woman with a beautiful voice give a demonstration of many of the Shaker songs while she gave a brief history of how they worshiped. We also got to take a good look at the Meeting House that figures prominently in all my books. I even climbed up in the attic. It was very hot up there, but seeing the huge beams and rafters was worth a little sweat.
The architecture is amazing. The Shakers cut and prepared those huge beams and rafters about three miles from where the Meeting House now stands. They assembled them there and then marked each beam or rafter with Roman numerals and took the building apart. They hauled the finished logs to the Meeting House’s present location and put them back together by numbers the way some log houses are done today. But this was in 1825.
They had to figure out a way to support the wide expanse of roof without support beams in the middle of the floor where they labored their dances. If they’d had support beams in the middle of the floor the way most buildings that size did then, a lot of Shakers would have been banging into those posts when they were taken over by the spirit and began their free spirited whirls and shaking dances. Also the acoustics are amazing. The lady telling us about the songs said you could get on opposite sides of the room and whisper and the sound would carry clearly.
Anyway I enjoyed walking the paths and being in the Meeting House and feeling my characters peeking over my shoulder to see if I’d gotten it right. While I may have taken a bit of poetic license here and there, most of the historical background of my books is very authentic. I took a bunch of pictures and will try to do a page on my website soon so you can share in seeing what I’m seeing when I’m imagining my characters and where they are living and working. I have a few photos of buildings on my gallery of photos on the website now, but I hope to add more soon.
One reason we didn’t get to see as much as we would have liked is that we went on the riverboat ride down the river. It was hot and humid, but a breeze blowing off the river kept us from completely melting. We did enjoy seeing the palisades and the birds and turtles. Wendy was a little worried about the winding road down to Shaker Landing, but we made it fine. She might have had reason to worry since a policeman had pulled us over before we got there to warn me that I might have “axle” trouble. Not exactly what you want to hear. Speeding might have been better. More expensive, but less worrisome – especially for my passengers. But we didn’t have any trouble. Other than Wendy wanting to bash me on the head after she mentioned the scraped looking lines in the middle of the winding road, and I told her that was probably where somebody’s wheel had fallen off. Next time she’ll want to drive her car.
But back to the blogging tour – I did a guest blog at http://mybookaddictionandmore.wordpress.com/ if any of you are interested in going out to read it. I asked “Do you dare?” Then I talked about having the courage to write. If you make a comment, you’ll get to be in a drawing to win my book.
I’m off tomorrow to talk to about eighty fifth-graders. That should be interesting. I used to do a lot of school visits, but haven’t done one for years. But I love talking to kids and seeing their fresh faces. That is as long as the teachers are there to keep them sitting still.
And then Saturday is my local book event for The Believer at the Anderson Public Library here in town at 1 p.m. If you’re in the area, come on down and we’ll talk. I’ll be giving away some doorprizes and a few books. And I’m trying to think of something interesting to say. Maybe I will before then.
As always, thanks for reading. Hope you have a great rest of the week.