Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Winner Of Lookout Alabama SELTI Writing Contest To Be Published In Magazine; $500 Prize For First Place

Little River Falls in Lookout Mountain, one of the possible settings for the Lookout Alabama SELTI Writing Contest.
Little River Falls: National Park Service

The winner of the nation’s next tourism fiction contest will be published in the inaugural issue of Lookout Alabama magazine in summer 2013. The regional magazine has teamed up with the Southeastern Literary Tourism Initiative to co-sponsor the Lookout Alabama SELTI Writing Contest. The first place winner will be awarded a $500 prize sponsored by the Alabama Tourism Department.

The contest challenges writers to compose short stories that directly promote tourism to the Lookout Mountain region in Northeast Alabama. Photos of real places and a tourism guide will accompany the published story. The guide will include links to websites with information on visiting real places in the fictional piece. The winning story will be published on the SELTI website and at as well as in the print magazine. One of the judges will be best-selling author Homer Hickam, whose memoir Rocket Boys was made into the movie October Sky, starring Jake Gyllenhaal.

SELTI also conducted the nation’s first tourism fiction contest with co-sponsor University of Alabama Museums to highlight the tourism appeal of Moundville Archaeological Park near Tuscaloosa. It was judged by a team of University of Alabama English and marketing professors. The winning story of that contest, “Digging Up Bones” by Kathryn Lang, was published online at SELTI and included links to the museum website and photos of the real park.

Senator Clay Scofield, chairman of the Alabama Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee, presented Kathryn Lang with the 2012 SELTI Tourism Fiction Award in October. Alabama Public Radio featured a story on the first SELTI contest, which included interviews with Lang, Miller and Sen. Scofield about how the concept of tourism fiction could be applied in a positive way nationwide.
Little River Canyon as seen from Lookout Mountain.
Photo by John Dersham, DeKalb County Tourism Association
“The mysterious nature of Moundville made it the most intriguing place in the state to set a story, but the breathtaking natural beauty of Lookout Mountain makes it the most scenic place in the state to inspire writers,” said SELTI founder Patrick Miller. “Having visited places like Noccalula Falls in Gadsden, I am very excited to see what writers come up with for the Lookout Alabama SELTI Writing Contest. People who love to read love to travel, so this contest will combine the two activities in a very fun, innovative way.”

Along with articles highlighting intriguing people and places in the Lookout Mountain area, each issue of Lookout Alabama will contain short fiction or poetry set in the region. 
Desoto Falls.
Photo by John Dersham.

“We are very excited to showcase the talents of writers with an interest in the Lookout Mountain area,” said Lookout Alabama Editor Olivia Grider. “We also are fortunate to partner with the Southeastern Literary Tourism Initiative. This contest fits perfectly with the mission and goals of Lookout Alabama, and we believe it is a win-win for the magazine, SELTI and our readers.”

Contest submissions will be limited to 2,000 words and must be fictional short stories set in the Lookout Mountain, Alabama, area, which ranges from Gadsden to the Georgia state line and includes the valleys on both sides of the mountain. Submissions will be narrowed to five finalists, which will then be judged by a select team of publishers, authors, English professors and tourism professionals. Entries should be e-mailed to or by March 25, 2013.

With the nation’s economy struggling, tourism fiction could prove to be an innovative tool that helps boost state and city economies wherever it is applied, Miller said. “Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the nation’s economy, and tourism is one of the richest sources of consumer spending,” he adds. “Yet hardly anyone has tapped the vast potential of novels and other literary fiction to drive tourism to real attractions.”

About the Southeastern Literary Tourism Initiative
Blind Fate, the nation's
first novel with an
interactive tourism guide.

SELTI is an organization that promotes tourism through literature. It offers readers short stories, poetry and book excerpts – along with companion travel guides – about real places to visit.

Founder Patrick Miller’s suspense novel, “Blind Fate,” was the first in the nation to include an online tourism guide embedded in the novel with tourism links to all the real places. SELTI followed up “Blind Fate” with “This Side of Paradise: Interactive Tourism Edition,” a new version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic 1920 debut novel that now includes tourism links to the real settings in the story. The royalties for the Fitzgerald edition are being donated by SELTI to the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum in Montgomery, Ala., located in the Fitzgeralds’ only surviving family residence.

About Lookout Alabama

Lookout Alabama is a quarterly, regional magazine whose mission is to celebrate and promote the unique culture, history and environmental treasures of the Lookout Mountain region, with a goal of facilitating job creation and economic development in the area by increasing tourism.

The staff of Lookout Alabama has more than 35 years of publishing experience. Publisher Randy Grider, a native of the Lookout Mountain area, started his career as a newspaper editor before taking the helm of a national trade magazine in 2000. Editor Olivia Grider has worked as both a newspaper reporter and the managing editor of a national trade publication. The Griders have earned numerous awards for newspaper and magazine journalism. They are the only husband and wife duo to each win the Jesse H. Neal Award – considered the Pulitzer Prize of business journalism – at different magazines.

About the Judges

Homer Hickam, New York Times bestselling author
John Dersham, executive director, Dekalb County Tourism
Hugh A. Stump III, executive director, Greater Gadsden Area Visitors Center
Joan Reeves, chair, English and Fine Arts Division, Northeast Alabama Community College
Patrick Miller, founder, Southeastern Literary Tourism Initiative
Olivia Grider, editor, Lookout Alabama magazine
Randy Grider, publisher, Lookout Alabama magazine
Kathryn Lang, author, winner of the 2012 SELTI Tourism Fiction Award
Renee Morrison, Assistant Director, Jacksonville State University Field Schools

Homer Hickam is best-known for his award-winning and #1 best-selling memoir Rocket Boys, which was made into the movie October Sky. But he is also a prolific author of fourteen other fiction and non-fiction books, which include his popular "Josh Thurlow: World War II" series and his latest, a novel titled Crater set on the moon in the 22nd Century. More on Mr. Hickam and his books can be found at his website,

Kathryn Lang was recently awarded the 2012 SELTI Tourism Fiction Award by Senator Clay Scofield at the Moundville Native American Festival. Kathryn is a newspaper columnist and the author of several fiction and nonfiction books. Kathryn's tourism short story "Digging Up Bones," set at Moundville, won the Inaugural SELTI Writing Contest. Her Big Springs novel series is based on the real Guntersville, Alabama, tourism area. Learn more about Kathryn at her website,

Check Back Here Weekly For Updates on the Lookout Alabama SELTI Writing Contest!
Please visit Lookout Alabama magazine by clicking on this link for the Lookout Alabama SELTI Writing Contest Rules. Also, the list of official judges has been updated above.

The Alabama Tourism Department will help sponsor this contest by awarding a $500 prize to the first place winner. No entry fee is required to enter the contest.

March 26 Update: The contest is now closed. Thanks so much to all those who took the time and effort to enter this year. Email confirmations will soon go out to the finalists, and then the longer process of selecting a first place winner will begin. The winning story will be published online in the May 2013 SELTI feature, along with a list of the finalists. The winning story will also be published in the print edition of the inaugural issue of Lookout Alabama magazine, coming out in the summer and distributed statewide. Please follow SELTI for other important developments in tourism fiction currently underway.

April 1 Update: the five finalists for the contest have been selected and notified by email. If you entered the contest but did not receive such an email, then you have not been selected as a finalist. Again, thank you to everyone who entered. Many of the stories that were not selected were very close in the first round of judging and showed great talent. The final round of judging should be completed some time around the beginning of May, although no definite date of selection has been made.

May 10 Update: Natalie Cone's short story "The Totem" wins the Lookout Alabama SELTI Writing Contest. Read Natalie's winning story by clicking here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Shiloh Mounds, Cahokia, and Moundville Come Back to Life in Native American Novels

Monks Mound, the largest of many mounds at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Illinois.
Contrast the size of the mound with the tiny car passing by on the road!
Photo courtesy of Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Excerpt From: People of the Thunder by Kathleen and Michael Gear
Novel Series: North America’s Forgotten Past
Publisher: Tor/Forge Books
Tourism Attractions: Shiloh Indian Mounds, Cahokia State Historic Site, Moundville Archaeological Park
Locations: Tennessee, Illinois, Alabama

Step into the beautiful but violent world of North America’s Forgotten Past in the epic twin novels People of the Weeping Eye and People of the Thunder by award-winning authors Kathleen and Michael Gear. Combining decades of writing for the commercial fiction market and professional archaeological research, the Gears link together three real and important archaeological sites in these two novels that readers can still visit today: Shiloh Indian Mounds in Tennessee (Rainbow City in the novel), Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Illinois, and Moundville Archaeological Park in Alabama (Split Sky City). Learn more about these mysterious and fascinating sites by clicking on their museum park links in the Tourism Guide after the short excerpt below. They were each once powerful kingdoms that stretched their influence far down the rivers they overlooked.

The Gears are currently working on People of the Morning Star, which is set in Cahokia at a different time during the height of its power. Once released, People of the Morning Star will also include a tourism link to the real state historical site of Cahokia, allowing readers to visit the website from inside the novel when reading on an iPad or Kindle. This will make People of the Morning Star one of the first interactive tourism novels in the nation, along with Blind Fate and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise: Interactive Tourism Edition. Readers of People of the Morning Star will not have to go to their desktop computers and do web searches to find out more about Cahokia; they will be able to instantly click on the link inside the book on their Kindle or iPad and see a full-color tourism website that gives them all the tourist information they need to literally step into the real settings of the story.

The Gears have written many Native American historical novels set in National Monuments and Parks around the country. If they update more of their novels with short interactive tourism guides and links to the real places, that could provide new digital gateways that allow readers to jump from the pages of their imaginations to the real sites as tourists. This would have a positive economic impact, especially during these challenging times. Embedded tourism guides would also enrich the readers by offering them a much deeper connection to the stories and the places. Each of the three sites in these two novels has a staff and museum for visitors to delve deeper into the real history of the area. Having been to the real Moundville, I can attest that nothing prepares a reader for the experience of stepping into the physical setting where the characters once lived and breathed in a time long before our own . . .   

            The Contrarythe woman once known as Two Petalswalked through the quiet night. Her moccasin-clad feet scuffed the plaza’s trampled surface, the sound of leather on clay like the whisper of distant ghosts. Her straight body moved purposefully, rounded hips swaying. Black flowing hair swung even with her buttocks, and she clutched a beaverhide blanket closely about her shoulders. With each exhalation, she watched her breath fog and rise toward the black, star-encrusted sky. Overhead, the constellations seemed to shimmer and wink against the winter night.
            Around her, the great Yuchi capital known as Rainbow City slumbered. Even now the size of the city, with its tall, building-topped mounds, thousands of homes, temples, society houses, and granaries, amazed her. The city’s sleeping soul surrounded her like the low hum of insect wings. She could feel the immensity of it: all those thousands of souls breathing, mired in Dreams, their passions muted by sleep.
One of the Shiloh Mounds (Rainbow City) in
Shiloh National Military Park.
Click to enlarge photo. NPS Photo by Chris Mekow.
            This was the western capital of the Yuchicalled the Tsoyaha in their own language. The city had been built on a high bluff overlooking the Tenasee River. The location had been chosen not only because it was well above the worst of the great river’s periodic floods, but it was strategically placed just below the river’s bend. Sheer heights on the east and north provided a natural defense, while the western and southern approaches were protected by a tall palisade bolstered by archers’ platforms every twenty paces. Rainbow City controlled passage up and down the Tenaseethe trade route carrying goods between the southeastern and northern river systems.
            Though Two Petals had walked in the ghostly ruins of Cahokia and climbed its great mound, Rainbow City left her feeling humbled. Cahokia was a place of dried bones; Rainbow City flexed warm nerve and healthy muscle. It lived, thrived, and bristled with energy.
            High temples, palaces, and society houses perched atop square earthen mounds capped by colored clays sacred to the Yuchi. The buildings reminded Two Petals of brooding guardians overlooking the empty plaza. The image was strengthened by steeply pitched thatch roofs that jutted arrogantly toward the heavens. Beyond them lay a packed maze of circular houses, their thickly plastered walls and roofs a uniquely Yuchi architectural form. The dark dwellings hunched in the night, as though weighted by the countless sleeping souls they sheltered.
Another Shiloh Mound stands quietly among the trees.
NPS Photo by Chris Mekow.
            The Contrary needed but close her eyes in order to sense the occupants. She experienced their Dreams the way an anchored rock knew the river’s current. The weight of their loves, hatreds, lusts, hungers, triumphs, and fears flowed around her. Were she to surrender her control, all of those demanding souls would filter past her skin, slip through her ears, nostrils, and mouth. Like permeable soil her body and souls would absorb them. Then, in the manner of a saturated earthen dam, she would slowly give way, carried off in bits, pieces, and streamers by the flood.
            “But I am not earth.” No, I am a great stone. I stand resolute, lapped only by the waves of their Dreams. Feel them, washing up against me, seeking a grasp, only to drain away before the next. Two Petals clasped her arms around her chest, hugging herself for reassurance…
            “You must lean to deal with what you have become,” Two Petals told herself. “Trouble is coming.”
            She sighed, sensing a perpetual isolation of a person touched by Power. Forget the Dreams of others; her own were frightening enough. Not so many moons past, while in Cahokia, she had been carried away on Sister Datura’s armsborn off to the Spirit World. The Visions she had had of the future remained just behind her eyes, as clear as when she’d first seen them. Were she to beckon, they would come flowing forward. She would again see the terrible black-souled chief, his hand trembling as it reached out to caress her naked skin. Or know the guilt-stricken eyes of a woman whose bloody hands dripped red splatters onto hard ground while she trembled beneath the twists of fate. In other scenes, an angry war chief led a thousand warriors through a silent forest. And finally, swirling water washed over a great scaled hide that shimmered with all the colors of the rainbow.
Another Shiloh Mound surrounded by fall leaves.
NPS Photo by Chris Mekow.
            She fixed on that final image, staring into the great crystalline eye, as though looking through time and worlds into another reality. As she did, a faint Song began to fill her souls with a tremolo that echoed from her very bones. The melody rose and fell, lifting her spirits like a leaf on the breeze. Two Petals could feel herself rising, spinning, carried aloft on the vibrant notes. She began to Dance across the hard-packed plaza, arms undulating to the beat. Souls swaying in time to her skipping feet. The Song played within her.
            “Soon,” she promised, her body spinning in time to the melody.
            As quickly as it had come, the Song faded, leaving her to stand alone and motionless in Rainbow City’s great plazabut one more of the many shadows that mingled in the night. In that instant she felt utterly destitute.
            “You are never truly alone,” a familiar voice remarked . . .

---Excerpted from PEOPLE OF THE THUNDER Copyright © 2008 by W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear

Entrance to the Shiloh Indian Mounds
National Historic Landmark.
NPS Photo by Chris Mekow.

I first learned about the Gears’ historical novels from Senator Clay Scofield, Chairman of the Alabama Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee. Senator Scofield was kind enough to fly into Tuscaloosa to present the 2012 SELTI Tourism Fiction Award to Kathryn Lang during the Moundville Native American Festival. Read his wonderful speech, where he invited all authors to focus on real Alabama tourism attractions, by clicking here. Kathryn’s short story "Digging Up Bones" was set in Moundville and had won the Inaugural SELTI Writing Contest. After our radio interviews, Scofield mentioned to me that Moundville had also been the setting for a historical novel, which led me to read People of the Weeping Eye. After chatting with the authors, Kathleen and Michael Gear, I learned that People of the Thunder continued the story of Two Petals, Old White, and Trader, and that they had written many novels set in real places, although they had never included tourism links.

Although I had heard of Cahokia in Illinois from Moundville’s Director, Dr. Bill Bomar, I had not heard of the Shiloh Mounds in Tennessee, “Rainbow City” in the novel. Because the Shiloh Mounds are part of the Shiloh National Military Park with the National Park Service, they were largely preserved. Rainbow City plays a key role in People of the Weeping Eye and continues in People of the Thunder. Although the original inhabitants of these cities abandoned them long ago, the ruins remain as haunting reminders of the cultures that once thrived on the rivers of this continent.
Temple Mound at Moundville Archaeological Park.

These novels are set in a time before the Europeans came, but also when Cahokia is already in ruins. Although Split Sky City (Moundville) is still very much inhabited in the novel, another Gear novel, A Searing Wind, shows it also in ruins in another time period.

Many of the structures and physical remains of lost cultures around the nation have faded away, but not at these sites. One can still walk through the plazas and the climb the mounds that once served as vital cultural centers. The Gears are exceptional at bringing the reader into these worlds and allowing them to breathe the same air as the characters. Although the characters are fictional, they represent the real people who once lived in these cities.

I offer the short excerpt above from People of the Thunder as an example of the Gears’ quality writing style, a style that carries through in both novels. Please click on the links below to learn more about the Gears and the real places that their characters once lived in.

What do authors Kathleen and Michael Gear think of literary tourism? Click here to read in their own words.


Friday, October 12, 2012

A New Angle on Tourism

Sen. Clay Scofield presents Kathryn Lang with the 2012 SELTI Tourism Fiction Award
at the Moundville Native American Festival.
Many thanks to Sen. Clay Scofield for presenting the 2012 SELTI Tourism Fiction Award to Kathryn Lang at the Moundville Native American Festival on October 10. As Chairman of the Alabama Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee, Sen. Scofield gave a speech that offered great insight into the future of tourism fiction and how it can have a positive impact on Alabama and the nation. He was the first politician in the nation to invite authors to use real tourism attractions as settings in their works. Below is a copy of his speech delivered at Moundville, the setting of Kathryn Lang's tourism fiction short story "Digging Up Bones."

Kathryn's story won the Inaugural SELTI Writing Contest, the first contest in the nation that challenged writers to use fiction as a vehicle for promoting a real tourism attraction. The entries were judged by a team of University of Alabama English and marketing professors. Click the "Digging Up Bones" link above to read the story, which includes many photos of the real Moundville and tourism links related to the cultural attraction. Please check out the many tourism attractions found in books across the South in the Stories By Month archives to the left.

"A New Angle on Tourism"
speech by Senator Clay Scofield, Chairman of the Alabama Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee

             When I was asked to present this award, I have to admit that my first thought was: “What is tourism fiction?” As it turns out, the concept is very simple: tourism fiction involves creating stories about real places and eventslike this festival we’re all at todayand then inviting the reading public to come visit those places in real life, through short travel guides.
            Think about all of the fun places you’ve been to in this state, and then imagine that readers in Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, and all across the nation started reading about those places in short stories and novels. Then imagine that they could click on links to those real places at the end of the story and learn how to go there in real life, not just read about them.
            That’s what tourism fiction is. Now imagine what the impact would be on Alabama if all our writers were focusing on real tourism attractions in their stories across the state. Here in the South we’ve always had the nation’s best storytellers, but in these difficult economic times, our storytellers might even help the state by attracting more tourists.
            In order for tourism fiction to work best, lots of people have to work together. The idea came from the Southeastern Literary Tourism InitiativeSELTI for short. The key part of SELTI’s name is the last part: “initiative,” because many other people and organizations have taken the initiative this year to help SELTI promote Alabama tourism through fiction.
            When the Alabama Tourism Department first heard about SELTI, they took the initiative in telling the rest of the state’s tourism attractions about tourism fiction through their state-wide newsletter. When the staff at Moundville read the newsletter, they took the initiative to reach out to SELTI and design a short story contest to promote Moundville.
Kathryn Lang holds the SELTI Tourism Fiction
Award in front of her books at the
Moundville Native American Festival.
            That contest, the Inaugural SELTI Writing Contest, was the first in the nation that challenged fiction writers to promote a real tourism attraction: Moundville. When writers around the state heard about the contest, they took the initiative to apply their unique talents to promote this special place through stories set at Moundville. When the entries came in, English and marketing professors from the University of Alabama took the initiative in accepting the challenge to judge the stories and determine a winner.
            The winner is here with us today, and her short story captured everyone’s attention as soon as they read it. In fact, an important part of her story described the dance performance that we just witnessed on this stage. Her name is Kathryn Lang, and you can still read her short story online at SELTI in the May 2012 feature.
            Before I present Kathryn with the 2012 SELTI Tourism Fiction Award, I would like to take a moment to ask all writers to consider featuring Alabama tourism attractions as settings in their works of fiction. Our state has so many wonderful attractions to inspire writers, from beautiful sunny beaches in the south to scenic mountain getaways in the north, from large cities with unique museums and theaters to small towns with personal history and charm. I hope all writers and publishers in this state will follow Kathryn’s example in helping to not only tell a great tale but to promote our great state at the same time by inviting their readers to come visit a real place in Alabama.
            The next town featured might be your home town or city. The new e-books you kids are starting to read now can do some amazing things that paper books could never do when I was growing up. Some of you may become famous writers someday soon, so I hope you’ll all consider including real places like Moundville and others that inspire you in your work.
            Kathryn has a tent on site, so if anyone would like to talk more with her, stop by and see her after this presentation. So Kathryn, as your senator, I’m proud to present this award, the first tourism fiction award in the nation, on behalf of SELTI and on behalf of the state of Alabama. We wish you well in your writing career and hope that other writers follow your path to promoting Alabama through fiction.

(Listen to more from Senator Scofield and Kathryn Lang by clicking on this Alabama Public Radio feature on literary tourism and the Moundville contest: Alabama Public Radio feature.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Riverboat Harriott II Steams Into Uncharted Waters: A Tourism Novel

The real Harriott II will appear in the fictional novel Uncharted Waters.
Excerpt From: Uncharted Waters by Sara DuBose
Tourism Attraction: Harriott II Riverboat
Location: Montgomery, AL
Photos: Diane Prothro
(Click any photo to enlarge!)
Model: Sarah Hunter

The riverboat Harriot II is making its first appearance in a tourism novel: Uncharted Waters by Sara DuBose, set for release October 1. In Uncharted Waters, Beth Davidson faces frightening encounters with a stalker, but she takes matters into her own hands by joining the Montgomery Police Academy. Although the character of Beth is fictional, all of the places in the novel are real, including many tourism attractions. Join Beth as she learns what it takes to become a Montgomery police officer.

The following scene takes place in the heart of downtown Montgomery’s riverfront entertainment district, within sight of the Montgomery Visitor Center in the historic Union Train Station, the Renaissance Hotel and Spa, and Alley Station. Follow the tourism guide at the end of this excerpt to learn how to visit all of the places in this new suspense novel set in one of the South’s many getaways. Also find links to excerpts of other tourism novels set in Montgomery and across the South, and learn about the latest exciting developments in the tourism fiction genre nationwide. 

From Uncharted Waters:

As I drove away from the safe haven of the Honda dealership my mind kicked into fast forward. I told myself, don’t rush and don’t cut it too close and let it make you nervous. Nervous? I almost laughed out loud. Nervous was my middle name. Taking the I-85 interstate, the self talk continued. Hang in there. You’re gonna be okay. Try to park in a business slot if you can. This will seem more normal. He may not be watching you park anyway. My guess is he is more intent on getting you into the tunnel.

My heart flopped in my chest. How reassuring, Beth!

Soon I took the Union Street exit and passed the Little White House of the Confederacy on my left. Now there was no time for reminiscing or touring as I had done with Dad. Today I stayed on Union, passing the back of the Alabama State Capitol on my way to Madison Avenue. My mind accelerated. What . . . what if he has a gun?
Beth, this man wants a date with you. It’s not likely he’ll have a gun. If by some slim chance he pulls a pistol, remember the cautionary e-mail you received recently: run like mad. Run in a zigzag fashion.

I stared out the windshield, trying to simulate a dash through the tunnel but my whole body suddenly felt like someone had stuffed me inside a kettle drum during the William Tell Overture. I turned onto Madison and drove west to Commerce. Almost there.

Unlike Shannon, I’m usually on time. I’d be on time today. Now I turned right on Commerce and, after driving a block, I spotted a parking place only half a block from the tunnel. My Honda clock read five-fifty on the nose. The parking meter had fifteen more minutes but it isn’t necessary to feed them after six anyway. I reached for my water bottle and took a long sip, willing away the dryness.

What are you doing here? A tiny voice tried to flood its way into my consciousness. I dammed it up. After all, I told myself, if I could stop this psycho now there’d be no need to spill everything to Domestic Violence.
Beth prepares to face her stalker. The Harriott II
ticket office is in the immediate background,
with the Renaissance Hotel standing above.

Opening the door, I looked from left to right and then down to the end of Commerce. The street seemed strangely quiet. What to do with this permanent arm fixture, my purse. I punched the remote for my car trunk and thought about the recent e-mail warning: “Don’t use your remote after exiting your car.” Why? Something about a stranger picking up the signal. I wondered if it were true. Well, too late. I tossed the purse in, covering it with an old blanket. Someone was probably watching. I didn’t care.

I checked my watch again. Five-fifty two. I’d enter the tunnel in three minutes, five minutes earlier than planned. Would he be there? Yes. No. I didn’t know.

Stepping up to the curb, I could feel my heart pounding somewhere in my throat. One, two three, four. I counted the beats with each pace and tried to remember how to swallow. Suddenly, something whisked by. I jumped. The skate board almost scraped my arm but the boy hurried on. Was he headed for the tunnel? Probably. Would his appearance distract the stalker? I kept walking and watching the boy as he turned into the tube. I stopped, holding my breath. What to do next? Had my admirer said to meet him at the entrance or inside?
Beth cautiously enters the tunnel
leading to the Harriott II and riverfront.
A train passes above the tunnel
in the background.

Waiting, I continued to watch the boy but soon the sound of his footsteps faded. Now I was standing directly in front of the entrance; my eyes traveling down the long cylinder, feeling like a fox in fear of the hound. Waiting, I saw nothing unusual and heard no sound except the kettle drum still pounding. Pounding.

I finally took several steps just inside the tunnel and stopped, stifling a cough. Then, I looked behind me. Still nothing. After waiting what seemed like ten minutes, I checked my watch. Six-o-seven. The boy was long out of sight, but did I see someone down at the other end? I blinked.

Trembling now, I moved closer to the tunnel wall, wondering how long it would take me to run back to my car if the man approached. Donnie was right. I shouldn’t have come.
Beth goes deeper into the tunnel. 

Someone sneezed. I looked behind me. Nothing. No, it wasn’t a sneeze . . . it was a train—a six o’clock freight train pulling through the train shed just west of the tunnel. Now came a mournful whistle blow, followed by two more. Ordinarily, I love the sound of a train, but this was distracting. What should I do? I crept several more paces inside the hollow tube, hoping to recognize the person at the other end. The man had definitely moved closer but I couldn’t identify him . . .

---Excerpted with permission from UNCHARTED WATERS, Copyright © 2012 by Sara DuBose. All rights reserved

Gazing out on the Alabama River from inside the Harriott II
Although Uncharted Waters is a romantic suspense novel, the story does lead the reader to many real tourism attractions along the way. Check out some of the places highlighted in the novel through the tourism links below and feel free to return to these links after reading the book.

One of the things that really stood out to me while reading this novel was all of the places the characters ate. I literally counted at least fifteen different places to eat, which for a tourism novel could be very instructive to other writers. I might have gained a few pounds just reading this novel. This illustrates the true nature of Montgomery, where eating delicious southern food is almost held as sacred as college football. There's no better place to be initiated into this tradition than Montgomery's Alley Station, which has several great places to eat like the famous Dreamland Bar-B-Que. Visit the Alley Station's website in the Tourism Links below to learn more about its other attractions. 

While on board the Harriott II during this photo shoot, the captain told Sara and I of special murder mystery-themed cruises while piloting a riverboat in Savannah. That opens up some very interesting possibilities for future novels with scenes set on the Harriott II and other Montgomery area attractions.

Nowadays, some e-tourism novels can even allow the reader to click on tourism links from inside the novel itself if read on a Kindle or iPad, which enables readers to click on and browse related tourism websites without going to a separate computer. For more details, check out the links, photos, and excerpts below from two other tourism novels set in Montgomery, Blind Fate and Dixie Noir, that were featured in USA Today for their innovation in using e-reader technology to promote tourism through a novel.

A major theme in Uncharted Waters involves domestic violence and Beth going through the real Montgomery Police Academy. Please also check out the domestic violence education links provided by the author after the tourism links. Sara conducted many interviews with Academy officers to make the academy scenes realistic. Although not everyone can go through the academy, Sara also consulted with Debbie Robison, who teaches self-defense classes at the Armory Learning Arts Center. Learn more about Debbie's classes at her Facebook page: Thorn of the Rose: Self-Defense for Women and Girls.

Senator Clay Scofield will invite all
authors to focus on Alabama tourism
attractions when presenting the
2012 SELTI Tourism Fiction Award. 
Another major development in tourism fiction will occur when Alabama state senator Clay Scofield invites all Alabama authors to focus on tourism attractions in their novels and works. He will make the appeal while presenting Kathryn Lang with the nation’s first tourism fiction award, the 2012 SELTI Tourism Fiction Award at the Moundville Native American Festival on October 10th.

Novels are the perfect venue for promoting tourism to real attractions because they can engage potential tourists on a whole new level. Let’s face it; with the economy always on the verge of collapse due to lack of consumer spending, a new innovative tool that could revitalize tourism spending in areas all over the country could be very timely. After all: people who love to read also love to travel.

Nonfiction guidebooks are very informative, but they can't capture potential tourists' emotions like the characters in a novel can. If more publishers and novelists started setting stories in real places and including tourism guides, then that could ultimately have a very significant impact on our economy.

Author Sara DuBose
Pete Peterson Lodge (Lagoon Park area: a very scenic place for a picnic, especially in the fall)

Featured in USA Today: Dixie Noir, by noted author Kirk Curnutt. Dixie Noir is the story of a fictional former Crimson Tide football star who falls hard and fast from fame into disgrace. When he returns to his hometown of Montgomery, he finds that making amends is much more challengingand more dangerousthan anything he ever faced on the gridiron. Features the tourism attractions of the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum and the El Rey restaurant, along with many others.

Also featured in USA Today: Blind Fate, by Patrick Brian Miller. Blind Fate is the story of a blind violinist who must use all her senses to face off against a dangerous fugitive. Written from her unique “perspective,” readers will experience the story with no visuals to guide them. Features the tourism attractions of Jasmine Hill Gardens and Museum, the Rosa Parks Museum, and many others.

Cloverdale, by Daphne Simpkins. Cloverdale is about a retired teacher whose quiet life is turned upside down when two young church missionaries come to stay for a week. Featuring the real historic neighborhood of Old Cloverdale, the most beautiful in Montgomery.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, you may call:

  1. National Alliance of Family Justice Centers toll-free: 1-888-511-3522/
  2. National Network to  End Domestic Violence toll-free: 1-800-799-7233/Website:
  3. RAIIN(Rape Abuse Incest National Network)/Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE/
  4. Hot Peach Pages/search by country at: (In the UK, help is through the Women’s Aid and Refuge and the
      Free phone 24 hour Helpline is: 0808-2000-247.)

In the US, you may also contact the National Alliance of Family Justice Centers listed above.

Since Uncharted Waters is set in Alabama, other special numbers include:

  1. One Place Family Justice Center: 334-262-7378/ Website:
  2. Family Sunshine Center: 334-263-0218 /Website:
  3. Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence: Crisis line: 1-800-650-6522/ Website:
  4. Alabama state-wide domestic violence crisis line: 1-800-650-6522
  5. TTY Hotline for the hearing impaired: 1-800-787-3224

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sen. Scofield to Present Kathryn Lang With 2012 SELTI Tourism Fiction Award. Invitation to all Alabama Writers to Focus on Tourism

Sen. Clay Scofield will present the 2012
SELTI Tourism Fiction Award.
Senator Clay Scofield, Chairman of the Alabama Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee, will present the 2012 SELTI Tourism Fiction Award to Kathryn Lang at the Moundville Native American Festival on October 10. Lang was selected for the award after her tourism short story "Digging Up Bones" won the Inaugural SELTI Writing Contest. Read her winning story by clicking Digging Up Bones. The story was set in Moundville and offers photos, links, and a short tourism guide to the archaeological park. Moundville was the perfect place to use as the setting for the contest, which was the first in the nation to challenge writers to compose stories designed to promote tourism to a real location. Many thanks again to the University of Alabama professors who helped judge the contest.

Native Americans will perform
traditional dances and arts at
the Moundville Native American
Festival, where the award
will be presented.
While presenting the award, Sen. Scofield will also invite all writers to use Alabama's many beautiful tourism attractions as settings for stories and novels with tourism guides. He will be the first elected official in the nation to make such an invitation. From scenic mountains to beautiful sunny beaches and resorts, Alabama offers many fun settings for novels just waiting for a story to be set in. A good place for interested writers to begin researching ideas would be the Alabama Tourism Department, which offers excellent guides to the state's many travel destinations.

I am excited to see where writers will go with tourism fiction in Alabama, in cities like Mobile, Birmingham, Hunstsville, and even smaller but beautiful storybook towns like Eufaula with it's annual Pilgrimage. I had a great time promoting the first interactive tourism novels, Blind Fate and Kirk Curnutt's Dixie Noir. Tourism fiction even applies to classic novels like F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise: Interactive Tourism Edition.

For more information on the upcoming 2012 SELTI Tourism Fiction Award, please visit the Media Release "A New Angle on Tourism" at the Marshall County Legislative Office. Please come visit the Moundville Native American Festival coming up in October.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Birthplace of Elvis in Tupelo

Birthplace of Elvis Presley in Tupelo, MS
Poem by: Patricia Neely-Dorsey
Tourism Attraction: Birthplace of Elvis Presley
Location: Tupelo, Mississippi
Photos: Courtesy of Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau
Excerpt From: My Magnolia Memories and Musings-In Poems

"The Birthplace"
By Patricia Neely-Dorsey

Would anyone have suspected
The stories that these walls held
Of a mother working fingers to the bone
And a father who was jailed?
All the secrets that lived inside,
The world would not have known;
If the young man with the old guitar
Had not ascended to the throne.
Would anyone have wanted to know
About the family from “across the tracks,”
Who could hardly keep food on the table
Or clothing on their backs?
Would anyone have ever cared,
About the heartaches, pain and scorn
If this tiny frame house hadn’t found acclaim
As the place where “The King” was born?

---Excerpted With Permission from My Magnolia Memories and Musings-In Poems, Copyright © 2012 by Patrica Neely-Dorsey

Today, tourists can still visit the modest birthplace of Elvis Presley in Tupelo, Mississippi. A far cry from the luxurious Graceland, this small attraction illustrates where The King began his life before he rose to fame. The museum is one of several heritage attractions in Tupelo related to Presley, such as the store where he bought his first guitar and the small church where his family attended. Learn about these and other fun places to visit in modern Tupelo in the links below.

Patricia Neely-Dorsey is a Tupelo poet who has been featured on SELTI twice before for her authentic voice in prose. She has two books of of poems, Reflections of A Mississippi Magnolia-A Life in Poems, and My Magnolia Memories and Musings-In Poems. She is also a dear friend, so when her new book arrived, I was so thrilled after the long wait of three years. No one promotes the Magnolia state of Mississippi and country life with more genuine charm and enthusiasm. Please check out both books on Amazon and learn more about her from her website link below.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Moundville Story "Digging Up Bones" Wins Nation's First Tourism Fiction Writing Contest

Aerial view of the Temple Mound at Moundville Archaeological Park
 in Alabama, the setting of "Digging Up Bones." 
Story: "Digging Up Bones" by Kathryn C. Lang
Tourism Attraction: Moundville Archaeological Park
Location: Moundville, Alabama
Photos: provided by Moundville Archaeological Park. Click any photo to enlarge!
Contest Co-sponsored By: Southeastern Literary Tourism Initiative and the University of Alabama Museums.

The winner of the Inaugural SELTI Writing Contest is the short story “Digging Up Bones” by Kathryn C. Lang. As promised, the winning story has been published online here on SELTI with a companion tourism guide related to the settings (story begins after the official contest results found below). The Inaugural SELTI Writing Contest was the nation’s first competition that challenged writers to compose short stories designed for directly promoting tourism. The contest guidelines established the setting of the stories as the historic Native American city of Moundville

Moundville was a city of large man-made mounds that thrived on the banks of the Black Warrior River centuries ago. The ruins were found abandoned by the first European settlers in the area. The site in Alabama became an archaeological park in the 1930s. The modern museum displays fascinating collections of artifacts excavated from the site. The surrounding park gives curious adventurers a chance to climb the many mounds that surround a central plaza. Moundville was the second largest Native American city in North America 800 years ago.
A volunteer participates in the Moundville
Plaza Project, an archaeology dig.

The Inaugural SELTI Writing Contest showcases how fiction set in real attractions is the ideal vehicle for promoting tourism. Writers approached the task from many different creative angles, demonstrating how highly adaptable tourism fiction can be in promoting real attractions. With the global economy in such disarray now, tourism fiction is an especially innovative tool that can capture tourism dollars through the powerful drama of stories set in real places.

The idea is simple: set an engaging story in real attractions and then provide readers with a convenient companion guide on how to visit the settings. Fiction provides the flexibility to adapt dramatic scenes to any real location. Most book lovers would love to enhance their reading experience by visiting the places they read about. This allows readers to become tourists by offering them a chance to literally step inside the stories they enjoy.

These days, modern e-reading devices like the Kindle, iPad, and Nook can even allow readers to click on tourism links from inside a bookUSA Today recently featured this innovation in novels that allows e-readers to instantly browse full-color related tourism websites from novels—if publishers include them. Tourism fiction has also moved into the realm of the screenplay with the development of the first movie with a tourism commercial inside the film, Beautiful Little Fools.

The marketing brilliance of “Digging Up Bones” caught my attention within the first few lines. Great stories usually involve a surprise, and this short story immediately stood out with a highly creative plot concept. The world has changed since the 1930s, even in a field focused on the past like archaeology. There is a new level of respect for the burial sites of Native Americans, and that is why there are no images of Native American bones in this story. Although excavations still occur at Moundville, all archaeology work is regulated by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) of 1990. To learn about this interesting development in archaeology, please visit the NAGPRA link above. Also, to get a sense of what a modern dig involves, please visit this blog about recent excavations at Moundville conducted as part of the Moundville Plaza Project.

After reading “Digging Up Bones,” please check out the Tourism Guide below to learn how to visit the real Moundville. The many photos in this feature are all from the actual Moundville site and were contributed by Moundville Archaeological Park, a part of the University of Alabama Museums. Click on this tourism link or the one in the guide at the end of the story to visit the museum’s website to learn more about Moundville and how to visit.
Aerial view of Moundville Archaeological Park
today with the Temple Mound in the
 foreground and the Plaza Mound in center.

When you walk through the grassy plaza of Moundville today and gaze at the mounds where Native American ceremonies and burials occurred centuries ago, a thrilling connection will reach out to your soul. Moundville was not only once a great city but also a sacred burial ground, and a powerful aura of mystery still surrounds the ruins. After the official contest results below, please enjoy the following short story that opens up a new mystery at Moundville, one that no one could have ever anticipated . . .

Official Results of Inaugural SELTI Writing Contest
First Place: "Digging Up Bones" by Kathryn C. Lang
Second Place: "Chunkey" by Louise Herring-Jones
Third Place: "The Serpent's Curse" by Michael S. Offutt, Sr.
Fourth Place: "Legend of Arimatha" by Summer Cato

“Digging Up Bones”
by Kathryn C. Lang
A doctoral candidate works on an
excavation project at Moundville. 

“What did you find?” The young intern could tell her partner was surprised by something down in the hole. He had stopped digging. “Sam?” It bothered her even more that he was not answering.

Sam held up a piece of cloth with a stick. “I am going to go out on a limb and say that this is NOT part of the original burial site.”

The young intern looked down into the hole to try and get a better look at the cloth. The design was not one they would have expected. “I think you’re right.” She dug through her bag and pulled out her phone. This would put a kink in their research plans for sure.
Official word was that the cloth had been blown into the area by the tornadoes that tore through the community the spring of 2011. None of those that had seen the area were buying the official story.

Marvin Johnston has spent several years working his way around law enforcement. He had wanted to work for the state, and investigations only made the job more intriguing. His first official chance to prove his abilities came with a call to visit Moundville. He knew the area but had never realized that Tuscaloosa held more than a famous college. “It’s amazing what can be hiding in your backdoor.”

Interior of the Jones Archaeological Museum at Moundville. 
The other officer looked at him and smiled but did not comment.

They parked the car near the museum, walked around the trail, and passed the Temple Mound. “Wow.” It was all that Marvin could say and the veteran had to agree. It was an amazing site to see, especially when you realized it was hiding out along the Black Warrior River in Alabama and not some place in South America. The veteran had only been to the park one time before with his son for the festival, but this was a place that needed to be visited more than once to be truly appreciated.

The park had been closed since the interns made their discovery. It would be too difficult to keep the details of the investigation under control with a bunch of college students working through spring break and tourists wandering the mounds. Even getting it closed down as fast as they had still let the rumors fly. They crossed through some woods and found the site they were supposed to be investigating.

“What do we have?” Marvin stood next to the veteran officer but was the first to speak. The officer looked at him and smiled again. He remembered what it was like to be that eager, so he did not say anything.
An excavation trench at Moundville.

The man in the hole looked up. “Most of these bones will prove original to the site. This particular spot was first uncovered about two decades back, but it is a minor site and was left alone.” He pointed to some bones partially covered by pieces of material. “This is what brought you guys out today. I will have to get it back to lab to see exactly what it means.” He pointed to the hole in the skull. “I would bet a week’s worth of lunches that we have a murder here.”

“Just let us know when you get something definitive.” Another smile from the veteran went unnoticed by Marvin. “What should we do next?”

Now he wanted the veteran’s opinion, and that brought another smile. “Well, we have two decades of research about who has access to this area of the park and who may have been working in the area.” He looked down at the man in the hole. “Can you give us a timeline at all?”

“Well, I would have to say that based on the material and its decay that these bones have probably been in this space for almost the full two decades.”

Cold cases were hard – but cold cases that had never been investigated in the first place were often impossible. Their only hope would be that the lab guys would be able to identify the body. Until then, they could talk to the professor who had been in charge of digging that hole in the first place.
A professor directs students at the
Moundville Plaza Project dig site.
“I remember that dig. Nothing sticks in the memory like a month of wasted time.” The professor had retired, but still lived in town. He had plenty of time to visit with the officers. “The kids were so excited when we uncovered the burial area. I almost hated to tell them that the officials wanted their funding to go to a dig that produced more important sites.”

“Why wasn’t that site important?” Marvin had taken the lead again, and the veteran smiled.

“It was important.” The professor sat forward. “All discoveries like that are important. You never know what you are going to learn.”

“Then why did the officials tell you to move on?”

“I argued with them for days, but ultimately they wanted us to find more of the burials related to the leaders and not the followers. I wasted a month because of a bunch of class envy silliness. All of it is important.” The professor was talking to himself, but he had provided some interesting possibilities to follow.

The officers tracked down the officials who had funded the dig, but it left them empty. The company went bankrupt the year after the dig, and there were no records of who would have made decisions about the dig available.

“This will not be an open and shut case.” Marvin shook his head, but the veteran smiled.
Aerial view of Moundville Archaeological Park
showing all the mounds surrounding the plaza.

“There are never any open and shut cases in the real world. They all take some patience, some creativity, and some luck.” He knew from experience that the body they had found in the mound would probably take more luck than anything else.

A trip back to Moundville would be the best place to start their new investigation of the murder of Jane Doe. They were looking for anything that might help them identify her or understand what might have happened. The normal tools would not be much assistance this late in the search. They carried a metal detector. The veteran let Marvin put his eager energy to work.

He spent several hours sweeping the area, and that left the veteran some time to take in the full site of the mounds. They scattered around the field and looked odd in their home. He closed his eyes for a moment and enjoyed the breeze that flowed so easily through the area. It took him back to that day with his son. It seemed like a lifetime ago, and maybe it had been. It was the beeping of the metal detector that got his attention.
A University of Alabama anthropology
student uses a metal detector at the Moundville Plaza Project.

“I found something.” It took a shovel to dig down, but they found a wallet and some other items buried in a grave. Marvin opened the wallet. “It belongs to a Leslie Jones, and Miss Jones was twenty-seven according to her Alabama license and from . . . no way! This says she was from Big Springs.” Marvin was from Big Springs. “What are those odds?”

“Sometimes they are better than you think.”
The lab called. “I can confirm that the victim was a female in her mid to late twenties. Besides that bit of information, I am not going to be any help.” He shook his head and motioned around the room. “She’s gone.”

“What do you mean she’s gone?”

“I mean someone came in and took her and had her cremated along with any evidence that we might find.”

“But you saw the bullet hole.” The veteran let Marvin do the arguing. He knew from experience that arguing would not get them any closer to the answers they needed.

“I saw a hole. I needed more tests to determine how the hole arrived in that particular location . . . and when for that matter.”
The annual Moundville Native American Festival is held
each fall. Check the museum website for dates and events. 

Marvin paced around the room. “Where does that leave us?”

The veteran spoke up. “He will have to label the cause of death as unknown. That means that without some reasonable suspicion of foul play we are done.”

Marvin looked hurt. “But the wallet?”

“The wallet is just a wallet. You need to let this go.”

They closed the file on the Jane Doe and included the wallet for Leslie Jones.
The veteran found himself at Moundville after it opened back up to the public. He wandered around the trails and then climbed up to the top of the Temple Mound. He closed his eyes and remembered the day he had with his son.
Men participate in historic traditions at the annual
Moundville Native American Festival.

A group of warriors performed on the stage back then, not far from where he was standing now. He remembered that their chants and movements filled his own heart with power - or hope. The wind blew against his face and he imagined that it carried their voices now. The same power or hope began to well up inside him again. The voices were telling him to keep digging.

He opened his eyes and looked around. The voices on the wind were right. He would keep digging, closed file or not. He would keep digging until he found the truth.

 by Patrick Miller
The famous Stone Duck Bowl recently returned to
Moundville from the Smithsonian.
In one literary sense, Jane Doe might represent all the original inhabitants of Moundville. Archaeologists are still trying to discover who these unique people were culturally. No one knows for sure why the city was abandoned hundreds of years ago, although the historical evidence tells us that the abandonment occurred before the Europeans arrived. During the 1930s, a great deal of excavations revealed stunning artifacts of such artistic mastery that many were sent to the Smithsonian.

The most famous artifact from Moundville was the Stone Duck Bowl, beautifully carved from a single piece of stone. The bowl was long held by the Smithsonian, but it returned to its home in Moundville a few years ago after a renovation of the Jones Archaeological Museum. Today, the bowl is on display less than a hundred yards from where it was originally discovered.

Moundville still offers year-round tours, but the largest public event is the Moundville Native American Festival held each fall, when experts demonstrate the skills and techniques once central to Moundville life. Please visit this link to Moundville Archaeological Park to learn more about everything Moundville has to offer.

I hope this SELTI feature has opened up a new opportunity for touring a unique place. Please browse through the many features in the Stories By Month section in the top left to discover fascinating places to visit through fiction and real life all over the South. For those curious about how this first contest was set up, please review the Official Rules of the Inaugural SELTI Writing Contest.

Also, anyone interested in visiting Moundville would also be interested in visiting the several nearby cultural  attractions of the University of Alabama Museums, which first discovered the SELTI project through the Alabama Tourism Department. The Alabama Tourism Department and the Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Commission both offer wonderful local guides on where to stay, where to eat, and what to do while visiting the area.   

About the Author
Kathryn C. Lang
Kathryn C. Lang shares words of hope, inspiration and encouragement in her writings and her presentations. She draws from her own experiences living in North Alabama with her husband, Keith, their three boys and her father-in-law. Kathryn challenges others to live a life outside normal – because being normal is over-rated.

You can learn more about Kathryn and read more of her writings by visiting Her non-fiction books are available through most major online retailers. RUN, the debut novel for Kathryn Lang, introduces some of the characters found in “Digging Up Bones,” and can be purchased for electronic download exclusively through the Kindle Store and in print from most major online retailers at the end of May. Please read the interview with Kathryn below. Kathryn is also a columnist for the Lakeside Post in Guntersville, Alabama. Please read one of her short columns here: Making A Path to Survival

Other ways to connect with Kathryn:

A Special Thanks to the Judges
From the University of Alabama's
Creative Campus

Dr. Hank Lazer
Professor of English, Director of Creative Campus

Dr. Michael Martone 
Professor of English (creative writing)

Alexis Clark
Creative Campus Coordinator, Adjunct Professor, Human Environmental Science

I would also like to thank Dr. Bill Bomar, Director of Moundville Archaeological Park, and Kelli Harris, Development Director for the University of Alabama Museums. Both Kelli and Bill were instrumental in getting this project completed. I would also like to express deep appreciation to the four finalists in this contest who took the time to help promote this wonderful park through their writing. Each one of these writers has the skill to effectively promote real places through their imaginative fiction. I look forward to following what other places they write about.
Patrick Miller

Interview With Kathryn Lang

Patrick Miller: There were so many different directions to take when writing a story about Moundville for the contest. What inspired you to write about a murder investigation?

Kathryn Lang: “Digging Up Bones” grew from another short story I wrote recently on my website. That short story developed when a friend read my novel, RUN, and wanted to know more about the backstory of one of the lead characters. Moundville holds so much history and intrigue on its own that I thought setting part of the story in that location would be a perfect fit.

There are many unanswered questions in the story. Have you considered developing "Digging Up Bones" into a full-length novel?

“Digging Up Bones” will be the introduction to the third novel in the Big Springs series. The second novel should be available by summer. All of the questions may not be answered, yet, but readers will begin to understand the who and the why of this particular situation.
Interior of Jones Archaeological Museum,
showing life-size representations of a
Native American prince preparing to marry.

What made the deepest impression on you at Moundville as a tourist?

Our family visits Moundville once a year, and each time I am overwhelmed by the impressive size of the mounds. Climbing to the top of the Temple Mound took my breath away – literally and figuratively. That site alone is enough to set the imagination spinning.

The first year we visited the park, a group of students were working on a site. It helped create the structure for “Digging Up Bones.”

Tell us about your other writing endeavors and what directions you plan to take your writing in the future?

I have been working as a content writer on the internet for the last eight years and moved into writing magazine articles and a newspaper column during that time. The column I write for The Lakeside Post in Guntersville has inspired me to release my columns in gift book form, Journey through Reflections. Practical Proverbs, a non-fiction book about finding your life of peace and joy, was inspired by a women’s bible study. Even my novels are crafted around the experiences of my life.

I hope that my writing career continues down the path of providing words that inspire and encourage others – through fiction and non-fiction alike.

Hear Kathryn Lang interviewed on Alabama Public Radio after she wins the 2012 SELTI Tourism Fiction Award, presented by Senator Clay Scofield, Chairman of the Alabama Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee.

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