Well, I’m back from beautiful Charlottesville and the Virginia Festival of the Book, and boy did I have fun!

Though I was only there a short time, I did take the opportunity to see some of the historic sites the Charlottesville area has to offer. My first stop was Michie Tavern just outside of Charlottesville. I could almost smell the smoked meat and tobacco as I walked through the tavern, which has served customers for more than 200 years (circa 1784). Of course, I went shopping in their well-stocked general store, and came home with some delicious, rich hot chocolate mix, which I have already sampled.

From there I went to a Barnes and Noble on Emmet Road and signed copies of Shades of Gray. I didn’t allow myself to look around too much, knowing I could kill an entire afternoon in a bookstore that size!

From there I checked into my room at the beautiful Omni and started to explore Charlottesville. For those who are not familiar, the town’s Main Street is closed to traffic, so strolling down the brick sidewalks and window shopping is the thing to do. Charlottesville has more independent bookstores than I have ever seen in one town, so needless to say, I passed quite a bit of time browsing the Civil War history sections and looking for 19th century historical fiction and historical romance novels.

Late in the afternoon, I jumped back into my Jeep and visited the historic “grounds” of the University of Virginia. I must admit, as much as I have read about it, I was awestruck by the beauty of the architecture. In every direction you can see the great influence of Thomas Jefferson, who established the University, planned its curriculum and designed its buildings. Opened in 1825, it was the school of choice of such notable figures as Edgar Allan Poe in 1826 and Woodrow Wilson in 1879.

The Rotunda is the signature landmark of the University, referred to by Jefferson as the “temple of knowledge.”

Of course, the main thing I wanted to see was the old dorms because Confederate Colonel John Mosby (who the main character in Shades of Gray is patterned after) went to law school there. I love visiting the sites where great historical figures once roamed, and the University of Virginia afforded me a beautiful glimpse at the past.

On my final day in Charlottesville, I took part in a panel discussion on historical fiction and answered questions on researching the Civil War. I really enjoyed talking to unpublished authors and hope they will keep on plugging away at their writing. Perseverance is the path to being published.


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