Thursday, September 9, 2010

Interactive Tourism Novel "Kindles" Romance in Montgomery

Excerpt From: Blind Fate by Patrick Brian Miller
Tourism Attraction: River Region
Location: Montgomery, Alabama
Photos: click any photo to enlarge

Blind Fate is a suspense novel that dares the reader to experience a world without sight through the unique “perspective” of Melody Harper, a blind violinist who finds herself in a very dangerous situation. The novel is also groundbreaking for being the first interactive tourism novel on Kindle, meaning it includes a guide with links inside the book that allow readers to browse the related tourism websites of the real places in the story.

Blind Fate was recently featured in USA Today for its innovation in tourism technology. Read the USA Today story by clicking here.

The settings of Blind Fate include some of the finest attractions in the River Region of Montgomery, Alabama, including the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts (both pictured below), Jasmine Hill Gardens and Outdoor Museum in Wetumpka, the Legends golf course in Prattville, and the riverfront entertainment district in downtown Montgomery, to name a few. However, the story begins at an isolated cabin on the shores of nearby Lake Jordan . . .


Melody Harper inwardly sighed in relief when she felt Roger’s patrol car slide to a halt over the familiar sound of her gravel driveway. He had been quiet during most of the drive, and she could sense his frustration as he got out and shut the door a little louder than usual. Melody knew his moods intimately through their years of friendship, even though she had never seen Roger’s face. She listened to his thumping steps as he made his way angrily around the car and pulled her door open.

The fragrant smell of blooming gardenias greeted her back home as she stepped out and lightly grasped the back of Roger’s arm. His brooding silence barely distracted her from the wonderful sensation of being home after a long week away in Montgomery. He led her forward until the rough gravel underneath her feet gave way to smooth, wooden planks. Melody stopped and raised her hand to touch his warm face.

“Don’t worry, Roger,” she said. “I’ll be fine.”

“I worry enough about you,” he said. “But what about your parents? How can you put them through this?”

Although Melody could hear the genuine concern in his voice, a hot rush of anger raced through her body and into her voice.

“You shouldn’t try to make me feel guilty, Roger. This is my home. My life will not come to a crashing halt just because other people worry about me. If that’s how I lived, then I wouldn’t really be living. You know how much my independence means to me.”

Roger gripped her shoulders with a sense of urgency that she had never felt from him before.

“Damn it, Melody, this is different, and you know it. This is not the time to be making an issue out of your independence. We can get this guy in a couple of days. It’s not like I’m asking you to change your life forever. This guy is a murderer, and he’s on the loose in this area. If you will just stay over at your parents for a week or so.”

“No, Roger,” she interrupted. “I’ve already had this conversation with my parents, and I’m not about to continue it with you. Thank you for the ride, but you need to leave now.”

“At least let me check the house first,” he pleaded.

“Fine,” she said, grabbing the rail and marching up to the door. She fished out her keys and unlocked the deadbolt. She crossed her arms defiantly as he entered.

But beneath her defiance, she felt twinges of guilt over insisting on coming back home. Was she really being inconsiderate or was she protecting her hard-won independence? Where should she draw the line?

She grasped the railing again and made her way to the back deck of the house. A light breeze brushed against her as she rounded the corner. The gentle sound of waves lapping against the rocky shoreline of Lake Jordan eased her fretful thoughts. The scent of the lake reminded her of how relaxing it was to be back at her own place, where no one could nag her. The familiar chirps of the birds and the distant whine of speedboats assured her that soon no one would be around to feel overly responsible for her.

Melody recalled how difficult it was to convince her parents to let her move out from their house. And indeed, she had never been so scared in her life as when she moved here all alone. But then the feeling of independence had slowly built up until she had never felt better in her life. Melody couldn’t fathom ever moving back in with someone after experiencing the freedom of living on her own.

And that was probably why she could never marry Roger. He would never be able to let go of that need to protect her, even when she didn’t need him to. Being a sheriff’s deputy only made Roger’s sense of responsibility worse, especially in a situation like this.

“Melody?” he called out in a concerned tone.

“I’m back here, Roger,” she said.

She listened to his anxious footsteps as he stepped outside on the deck.

“The house is clear,” he said. “You should probably go in now.”

Alabama Shakespeare Festival

“Do you have any food in here?”

“Yes, Tony stocked up yesterday for me, and he’s been feeding my cat.”

“Good. You’ll call me if you hear anything suspicious?”

“Of course,” she said. “And I’ll deadbolt the door, and I won’t even open it for strangers,” she teased.

“I’m serious.”

“I know,” she sighed. “I’ll be careful, Roger.”

“Well, then I guess I’ll be going.”

“Thank you, Roger,” she said, touching his face again. “I know that you mean well.”

“I’ll be here if you need me,” he said, touching his hand to hers.

“I know,” she said. “Bye, Roger.”

“Bye,” he said, still sounding worried.

Melody listened in relief as his footsteps moved away. She waved when she heard his engine start, and then she walked inside.

A soft, furry body began rubbing itself against her legs as soon as she shut the door.

“Romeo!” she cooed, replying to his lonesome meows. She bent down and cradled him up in her arms. His loud purrs sent warm waves through her skin, and she nuzzled her cheek against the top of his head. “I’ve missed you so much!”

Melody set him down and fished through her bag for a treat. He gobbled it up quickly, lapping his sandy, wet tongue across her palm. She stroked him again and then went over to her stereo. She didn’t even bother to trace the Braille labels on her disks because she knew exactly where her favorite was. The stereo hummed to life as she turned on the power and slipped in the disk. In a few moments, the harmonious sounds of Bach filled the air.

Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts
Melody went to the bathroom and sat down on the ledge. She turned on the faucet and waited for the stream of water to run hot. Then she poured in her favorite blend of lavender bath salts before stripping off her clothes in anticipation. As she stepped in, the warm waves of water soothed her skin and relaxed her muscles. The fragrance melted away the frustrations that had been weighing her down.

After finishing in the bath, Melody toweled off her body and walked back into the kitchen to make some cappuccino. Damn, she forgot to lock the door, she realized. Melody stepped over to the door and reached for the deadbolt handle. She twisted it only to find that it was already locked. Melody frowned in confusion. She didn’t remember locking the door.

A frightening thought burst through her mind: What if I’m not alone?

---Excerpted From BLIND FATE, Copyright ©2002 by Patrick Brian Miller. All Rights Reserved.

To read the rest of this chapter right now, visit the Amazon Kindle page for Blind Fate here:

Book Review From Olivia Wright
Columnist for Wright Reviews in the Red Bay News
What do you have when there is dancing in a tower, chases among temple ruins and a symphony under the stars? Perhaps an impromptu response would be, a European adventure. Nothing could be further from the truth as Patrick Miller’s novel Blind Fate finds genesis in of all places, Montgomery, Alabama. Mystery, political intrigue, and yes, love, spring forth among some of the state’s most beautiful cultural landmarks.

Former lobbyist Alex Dawson, convicted of slaying the next would-be governor Michael Fenimore, has escaped from prison. As residents of Montgomery panic and law enforcement tightens their net, 25 year-old Melody Harper, blind musician and violin instructor, steps into a trap of her own. Hiding in her home is the assailant whom the police are trying to snare. Fiercely independent, Melody finds herself in a situation worse than her hovering parents and friends could ever have cautioned her about.

Pleading his innocence, Alex eventually convinces his hostage to help him take back his life by helping him find the person or persons responsible for the crime. As Melody finds herself falling for her captor, and he his victim, all her sensibilities come into question. What if Alex isn’t as innocent as he claims? Are her parents warranted in treating her like a helpless child? As Melody sorts though a myriad of self doubt and misgivings about the integrity of the man she has quickly grown to love, a tangled web of destruction threatens to destroy the faith they have in each other. At stake too is the fate that awaits them both, made salient and more enervating to Melody when her sixth sense receives warning by Huntingdon College’s legendary specters.

Rosa Parks Museum
These were cast from leaders in the Civil Rights Movement.
Photo by: Peggy Collins, Alabama Department of Tourism

Follow Alex and Melody from the lushness of The Alabama Shakespeare Festival, sixth largest in the world, to the honor bestowed the Olympians at Jasmine Hill Gardens, Alabama’s “Little Corner of Greece”, as this hapless couple seek much needed answers. Is it possible, here among the ruins of Hera, to find the truth they so desperately need? Take a leap of faith, blind if you will, by reading this intriguing and fast paced novel from the South’s brightest new voice. After all, who doesn’t dream of dancing under the stars, particularly those falling on Alabama, and coming face to face with heroes?

Olivia Wright King
Hearts of Dixie Book Club

Note: Blind Fate is an exclusive Kindle edition that allows readers to visit the tourism sites that inspired the settings through web links embedded directly into the novel. This feature makes the Kindle uniquely suited for tourism fiction. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download Kindle for PC in minutes for free to your computer (or to devices like the iPad, iPhone, or smart phones) and then have access to the massive Kindle library. Every Kindle book allows potential readers to preview a portion of the novel before purchasing. The Kindle for PC program sizes to fit your computer screen and offers one-click page turning rather than scrolling.
A tourism link from inside Blind Fate to
one of the settings in the novel, the
F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum,
as shown in the Kindle Fire edition.

The Kindle uses cutting-edge technology that allows readers to download up to 3,500 books into a lightweight, user-friendly device—all without ever plugging into a computer. Books are downloaded within sixty seconds and have great features like automatic last-page finder and large print options with the click of a button. Try Kindle for PC and check out the extended sample of Blind Fate; you will be amazed at how easy the reading experience is. The Kindle makes a great traveling companion, especially for the modern literary tourist.

Tourism Guide
There are far too many places to visit in the Montgomery area to fit into a single weekend. However, the following is a list of websites where readers can learn more about the tourism attractions in the novel. I highly recommend a visit to the Montgomery area, as it offers such a variety of tourism. Browse through this list to find what suits your interests most and feel free to return to this guide after reading the novel. Most of these links are available in the novel as well, but some extra ones are available in this feature. Note: these tourism attractions are not sponsors of the novel; they are simply fun places that I think readers might enjoy visiting. For an overview of all the SELTI features across the South, please join the SELTI Facebook page and share with your friends:!/group.php?gid=289783765813

Jasmine Hill Gardens and Outdoor Museum

Alabama Shakespeare Festival

Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts

Montgomery Symphony Orchestra

Rosa Parks Museum

Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail: The Legends

Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Spa at the Convention Center

Huntingdon College

F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum

Montgomery Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Shoppes at East Chase/Bone Fish Grille

Alabama State Capitol (includes virtual tour)

Alabama Tourism Department