Welcome C. Hope Clark to the ‘vert on this fine Fourth! Hope is author of Lowcountry Bribe, a Carolina Slade Mystery, by Bell Bridge Books. She is also founder of FundsforWriters.com, chosen by Writer’s Digest in its 101 Best Websites for Writers for twelve years. www.chopeclark.com / www.fundsforwriters.com
Happy Fourth of July. Fireworks and burgers on the grill; homemade ice cream and popsicles; red, white and blue bunting on porch railings. It’s a rather huge, joyous celebration, when we enjoy our bounty, friends, relatives, and where we live.
That last one, where we live. Sometimes we take it for granted. I write about location as much as I write about characters in Lowcountry Bribe, the first in The Carolina Slade Series. My characters love their home turfs, which in my books are all found in rural South Carolina. Not the romanticism of Charleston or the steamy beaches along Hilton Head, but the fields, marshes, lakes and backwoods of the state. Acres that folks would almost kill for, and in a few situations in my stories, they do.
What is it about where we live that makes us loyal? Since Scarlet clenched the dirt of Tara in Gone with the Wind, we’ve respected those who literally “stood their ground,” fighting for home soil. And none of us takes issue with the daring soldiers who service to protect our freedom. However, there are moments where we tend to wonder about the rest of us in the United States.
These days we tire listening to politicians squabble over healthcare, budgets, and taxes. As a 25-year veteran of federal service, a husband with 29 years, and parents with 25 years each, I enjoy being a patriot. We run the flag up the pole in the backyard facing the lake, for all in our cove to see. We never fail to vote. We celebrate Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and the Fourth. We know the dates for Pearl Harbor, D-Day, V-Day, and many, many more. One son majored in Southern History, minoring in English. While we try not to be fanatical about our country’s history, we are indeed proud of it. . . and sometimes ashamed at decisions and deeds that muddy our image.
But that’s who we are. Like any family, we have good days and bad, rocky moments and great, successes and failures. But when holidays come around, we try to set our differences aside and admire who we are and where we came from. Isn’t that what makes for the best books? Our flaws?
My protagonist, Carolina Slade, is proud of being a federal employee. She’s proud of serving the rural folk of South Carolina, but when one of the hard-working customers she serves offers her a bribe, she’s faced with a dilemma. Certain that following the rules are her only option, she reports it to the proper federal authorities, only for the government to turn on her. She does the right thing, for the right reasons, and pays a heavy price in terms of her health, safety, home, career, and even her children. It’s a mystery, set in what most people deem laid-back Americana, but readers soon learn that even homespun country has its devils. But Slade is still devoted to her rural South.
Today, as we celebrate the Fourth of July, we can also celebrate each other. Individually we are human, but collectively we are great. Despite our foibles and stupidity, we are who we are, and we live on soil we love.
So many famous quotes touch upon making mistakes to find greatness and success. Sometimes it takes looking back to see how far we’ve come. That’s what today is. Not remembering all the mistakes, but admiring who we’ve become because of them. And as writers and voracious readers, we ought to know that theme well.
I’ll be sending a copy of Lowcountry Bribe to one reader who comments here today, name to be drawn randomly.
Happy Fourth of July! Eat a hotdog for me! With lots of mustard.