Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I played hooky today and drove to Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island. You can't blame me. It was 65F and skies so perfectly blue it almost hurt to look at them. And really, I was doing research. Honest.

Fernandina was the center of shipping--and piracy--in Florida for hundreds of years. If you're looking for it on a map, it's waaaaaay up at the northeast tip, right on the border with Georgia. This latter point is important. Fernandina and Amelia Island offered a deep water port just over the border from the US during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, which meant a whole lot of shipping that couldn't come through the US came through Fernandina. In the 1820's Fernandina was known for its abundance of pirates and prostitutes, a heritage they celebrate today with annual pirate festivals.

Today Fernandina Beach is a touristy, funky, trendy little enclave of shops, artists, galleries, restaurants, bars and bookstores. There's also the Fernandina Museum, where I chatted up the docents and left copies of Pirate's Price and Smuggler's Bride. I also got a chance to do a little research on Old Fernandina, the Fernandina of the transitional period when Spain, Britain and the US jockeyed over ownership of Florida. I promoted Captain Sinister's Lady to the ladies, then took off for other prospects, the bookstores.

I stopped at two stores on Centre Street, the main tourist drag, and left information and copies of my novels there as well. I even said I had my own pirate costume if they wanted me back for a signing. And I popped in to the pirate novelty shop to buy a new pirate's bandana, in time for a costume party next week.

Tomorrow, back to the keyboard. But it was a fun break in routine.

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