One of the things I love about being a writer is unexpected sources of inspiration. This photo is me in front of "All Lathered Up", a store in historic Salado, Texas. They sell fabulous homemade soaps, bath salts, and scrubs. Every time I go, I come home loaded with enough soap to clean a town. Scents like Goats 'n Oats, Angel Tears, Strawberries & Champagne...the fragrance in the store makes me want to buy one of everything.
I first visited All Lathered Up when the ladies' group at church spent the day shopping Salado in June 2005. Back then, the business was housed in a quaint cottage in a series of small buildings. The sales floor, half the size of the store now, reminded me of a quaint nook filled with scents. I bought two things then, but remembered the store as one of my favorite Salado experiences.
In early January 2006, I decided to write a book proposal for a cozy mystery. I love arts and crafts and homespun businesses, so whittled down some choices for my heroine. Then I remembered the warmth of All Lathered Up, and I had Tennessee River soaps.
Why Tennessee and not Texas (besides the fact that Texas can be "overdone" as a setting)? In July 2005, my husband took us to where the Sowell family settled along the Tennessee River towns of Crump and Savannah, Tennessee, close to historic Shiloh. The trip brought him back to his unfamiliar roots, and let me see a culture I'd only read about. So Andromeda Clark came to have a soap shop in Greenburg, Tennessee, on the banks of the Tennessee River. She's trying to make her way and not let her background keep her from fulfilling her potential. Which brings me around to the soap again.
As I writer, I love it when experiences paint themselves into my stories. A quirky Tennessee town, a delightfully fragrant business, a woman who wants to stay far enough from her hillbilly roots yet remain unpretentious, and here comes a book series, rolling out of my head. Now the trick is to follow Andromeda's story to its end. I have another character who's ready for her chance. But one project at a time. And until then, I keep my radar on for inspiration!