“You won.” The words came in the form of an email from the SouthEastern Literary Tourism Initiative. My short story, “Digging Up Bones,” had won first place in the 2012 SELTI short story contest and I would be receiving the award at the Moundville Native American Festival.
The idea of making a story connected to tourism had not entered my mind before I saw the contest. Once it was there, I had no way of getting it out.
I took the winning short story and began to create a new novel around it. The deeper I fell into that tale, the more I recognized that the impact of the tourism part was not there. It needed to be more than a great story in a great location.
I began mapping out an idea to create a story that would involve locations and then create an interactive element as well. “Mystery Rock” came to life with the help and encouragement of my family. Together we came up with clues and ideas for the three brothers to discover. Together we worked through the manuscript. Together we followed the trail of the book and planted letterboxes along the way.
The more I worked on “Mystery Rock,” the more the possibilities became apparent. Talking with the different tourism boards and organizations and hearing their enthusiasm for a project that would feature their location just got me more enthusiastic about the project. It became an opportunity to showcase locations that excited me and to be showcased by the groups and organizations as well.
“Mystery Rock” features three brothers – that irony was not lost on my own three sons. They discover a mystery rock and then set out to find the answers to the secrets the rock holds. The rock is discovered on the Gulf Shores beaches. Along the way they visit Fort Morgan on the east side of Mobile Bay and tour the historic site. The family takes the Mobile Ferry across the bay and stays at the Dauphin Island Campground. They tour Fort Gaines, enjoy the Estuarium, and then tour the sites around Dauphin Island.
The novel includes information and links for the different locations. It also includes clues for finding letterboxes that have been hidden in those locations. Readers will be able to visit the locations and connect with them through the letterboxes. Those that are unable to visit in person will find that some of the links will allow for live tours online.
“Mystery Rock” is available to pre-order in print today. The official release for “Mystery Rock” happens on November 22, 2014 and you can be a part of the launch by joining the Facebook Event.
Tourism literature offers the opportunity for the tourism industry and the publishing industry to come together to promote the words about the locations while promoting the locations. It builds a platform that might not have existed for either party, and then they work together to make that platform even stronger.
Write what you know – that is one of the first things I heard when I began pursuing writing professionally. But I say, write what you love. Let your heart for a location shine through and make that location one of the starts of your story.
Tourism literature is more than a good story set in a good location. It is words that bring that location to life.
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Mystery Rock launches on November 22, 2014. Join us for an ONLINE Launch Party over at Facebook.
Contact Kathryn for interviews or guest blogs regarding Mystery Rock, tourism literature, family projects, and letterboxing at KathrynLang@KathrynLang.com