Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Aquinnah & The Spring Fling Scavenger Hunt

Happy April and Happy A-Z, all!

Before I get to my A post I wanted to announce that today is also the start of The Spring Fling Scavenger Hunt at Night Owl Reviews. I am one of the sponsors of this year's hunt and am giving away an ebook bundle in collaboration with my publisher. Visit the NOR site to join the hunt and enter to win loads of gift baskets and bundles!

Now on to the A-Z!

My theme for this year's challenge is the A-Z of Martha's Vineyard, which is the setting for my book The Ghosts of Aquinnah. I am cheating a little bit with this post because it is actually the very first post I wrote for my very first A-Z challenge back in 2011. I used Aquinnah for the letter A and I certainly never could have guessed then that Aquinnah and the island would come to mean even more to me just a few years later.

So here is my post from April, 2011.

For the start of the A-Z April Challenge, and the letter A, I'm writing about one of my favorite places in the world, the town of Aquinnah on the island of Martha's Vineyard.

Aquinnah is at the westernmost point of the island, and is known for its beautiful beach and spectacular cliffs. The name is a Wampanoag word that means "land beneath the cliffs," and the area is a sacred spot to the Wampanoag tribe. When you're there, it's easy to see why.

I visited the Vineyard last summer, as I have for so many summers of my life, and spent a good deal of my time on the beach beneath the cliffs. It's always one of my favorite places to visit, as there is nothing I love more than sitting on the beach and listening to the roar of the waves. On the last day we visited, the sand was especially cool and welcoming on our bare feet, and the ocean was such a bright shade of blue that it was hard to tell where the ocean ended and the sky began.

The highlight of this trip, as with any other trip to Aquinnah, was the cliffs, with their colorful mix of red, brown, and white clay.

I love walking the length of the beach to the edge of the cliffs, and the tip of the Island. It is undeniably beautiful, but it is also quite raw and somewhat intimidating, as you almost feel as if you are at the edge of the world, with nothing in front of you but the Atlantic Ocean stretching out for countless miles. Sometimes I've seen a boat way out on the horizon and I find myself wondering, who is out there? In my head I try to imagine who they are, and I've often thought one of these far-off boats could provide great inspiration for a story.

I think one of the reasons I have always had an interest in and affection for Aquinnah is that my great-great grandfather was the lighthouse keeper for the town in the 1850s. His name was Samuel, but everyone called him Squire because of his ability to read and write, skills that were uncommon in those days. Squire lived at the lighthouse with his family, and whenever I am there I can't help but wonder what it must have been like for them at the top of those cliffs in the middle of a fierce storm, with the wild ocean raging below.

Photo courtesy of wikimedia commons

The house is no longer there, but the red brick lighthouse remains, and it is still a working lighthouse. Even now, the cliffs and the beach are pitch black at night, and only the rotating beacon of the lighthouse penetrates the darkness. I took a tour of the lighthouse back in the 1990s, and it was a thrill to climb to the top and get a 360 degree view of the sea and surrounding area.

Photo courtesy of wikimedia commons

I'm not sure when I'll go to the Vineyard again, but I know that I will at some point, just as I always have. And I know when I do, Aquinnah and the ocean will be there to welcome me back.

(Unless otherwise noted, photos courtesy of my niece, Melanie.)


  1. It's certainly beautiful and I can see why you want to go back. I would too.

    Have a great A to Z month!

  2. For me, living in the oceanless midwest, the picture you paint is like a whole other world.

  3. Amazing the lighthouse still functions.

  4. It looks like a beautiful place. I'm going to search for Martha's Vineyard on the map now - I just realised, I have absolutely no idea where it is!!

  5. YAY! for the scavenger hunt. I'll definitely check it out. Lovely images you've shared here. Thanks!

    Sheri at Writer's Alley

    Home of Rebel Writer CREED 2014
    Mighty Minion Bureau Team #atozchallenge

  6. Wow so Pretty and somewhere I have always wanted to visit. I hope you get back soon and share more pictures.

  7. Hello Julie, I was thinking about you the other day. About the guest post you did for the cave and the haunted light house. I and the dwarves thought of it for days!

  8. I've never been to Martha's Vineyard but the fact it's the setting for your book makes me want to read it!

  9. Hi Julie .. lovely photos by your niece .. and the thought of a visit to Aquinnah definitely calls .. as too your book - sometime soon ..

    Cheers for now and if you set out .. those winds might bring you in my direction?! Hilary

  10. Just the other day, I saw a magazine article about Aquinnah, and I thought of your upcoming A-Z posts. :)

    Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption
    Minion, Capt. Alex's Ninja Minion Army
    The 2014 Blogging from A-Z Challenge

  11. I would love to visit Martha's Vinyard! So beautiful!

    Jamie Dement (LadyJai)
    My A to Z
    Caring for My Veteran

  12. It's so beautiful. It's no wonder it inspired you. :)

  13. What a gorgeous spot. I think you'd find lots of inspiration in Western Australia along our coast, too. Just sayin'. :D

  14. My mom and I have been trying to visit Boston and spend a few days in Martha's Vineyard for a few year, now, but I keep canceling my trip. It looks beautiful.

    2014 A to Z Challenge
    Nicole’s #atozchallenge Mighty Minion

  15. I guess this post started you on the road to your book? It's amazing how a place can capture one so completely that they are drawn back again and again!

    River Fairchild – A to Z Challenge, a Jeremy's Angels Co-Host Minion
    Seasoned With Words

  16. It's beautiful! How awesome that it's meaning has reached a whole other level with you, Julie. Love that the lighthouse still works ;)

  17. It looks beautiful. Maybe one day I'll make it out that way. I love that you used a place you enjoy so much as the setting for your book.

  18. Lighthouses have always intrigued me too. I wanted to be a lighthouse keeper long ago. It sounded so romantic. . .I thought I'd paint, write and do the lighthouse thing. Nice start to the Challenge, Julie.

  19. Nothing wrong with re-blogging.
    Great post! Good luck with AtoZ. :)

  20. Some day I'll get there. What a great A word!!

  21. @Rebecca, thank you, you too!

    @Carol, I am in the midwest as well so I always love our trips to the ocean. I always get excited when I get close. :)

    @Alex, I never thought of that but it really is.

    @Annalisa, oh, that's funny. But I know you're not alone, when I was a kid no one had ever even heard of it LOL.

    @SA, thank you! And enjoy being a minion, I had fun with that last year. :)

    @Glenda, I would love that, thank you!

    @Al, oh, I had fun doing that post and I'm so glad you and the dwarves liked it. Good to see you my friend! :)

    @Karen, oh, that's awesome, thanks!

    @Hilary, that would be wonderful, I've always wanted to go back to the UK. Cheers and thanks so much.

    @Madeline, oh, how cool! I'd love to read that article. Thanks and enjoy your time with Capt. Alex and the rest of his minions LOL.

    @Jamie, I hope you make it there, thanks for coming by.

    @Tonja, I loved writing about it.

    @Christine, thanks!

    @Trisha, oooh, I'd love that. I've always wanted to visit Australia. Just don't know if I could handle the length of the plane ride LOL.

    @Sydney, oh, I hope you make it some day. It is a great place.

    @River, not so much this post but the trip I mentioned in it did, that was when I first had the idea for the book. It is amazing how it all worked out.

    @SK, thanks so much, it was awesome to revisit this now.

    @Charity, it really meant a lot to be able to write about it. Thanks!

    @DG, I love lighthouses too, I don't know what it is about them. Thank you!

    @Melissa, I couldn't resist a little cheat LOL. Thanks!

  22. What a perfect setting for a story. A lighthouse, long stretches of beach and windswept cliffs. Yummy.

  23. Oh, I love Aquinnah! These pictures and the stories and descriptions you added make me long for summer - and the beach - and the Vineyard. I'm glad you cheated today so I could read this! :)

  24. Lovely. You totally make me want to take a beach day. And I should, I mean, it's only an hour away. Okay, that's settled. Beach is going on the calendar.

  25. Nothing wrong with cheating!! You're a busy lady. Still have this on my read list. I will read them all, I swear!

  26. How cool is that! Love the twist from an old post to a new book!

    Happy April!

  27. @Lee, it's definitely one of my favorite places. Yummy indeed. :)

    @Liz, I can't wait for my summer trip to the island either!

    @Crystal, I'm glad I got you inspired - enjoy the beach day. And I'm totally jealous the beach is such a short drive for you LOL.

    @Liz, LOL, thanks! I know what you mean, my reading list is totally out of control right now.

    @Yolanda, it was fun for sure. :) Happy April to you too!

  28. A wonderful post, Julie! Thank you, I enjoyed it. I especially liked the part about your great great grandfather, the photos and your description of the area.

  29. The red, brown and white clay cliffs are beautiful!
    What a lovely setting for a story!

  30. I've enjoyed reading your post and learning about you through the Blogging A-to-Z challenge. Great photos and I liked the part about your family member who was the lighthouse keeper. Happy blogging! www.dianeweidenbenner.com

  31. @Sharon, thank you so much, I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

    @Michelle, I agree, I love the cliffs so much.

    @Diane, thank you, so nice to meet you and I look forward to visiting your site!

  32. Gorgeous pictures. I can really tell from your post that you love it there!

    Please don't say that using a rerun is cheating, because all my atoz posts are reruns! AAAA!

  33. What a great personal story. I would love to climb a lighthouse. I have to put that on my to do list.

  34. I've never seen multi-colored cliffs like that. Your niece, Melanie, did a great job! The place looks so peaceful and beautiful. :)

  35. I've never been to Martha's Vineyard, but now it's at the top of my list of of places I want to visit. How neat that your great-great grandfather was the lighthouse keeper! And it is very cool to learn more about Aquinnah, where your novel is based. This was a real treat. Thank you, Julie!

  36. @Ava, oh, it's definitely not cheating then!! I am using another re-run later in the month.:D

    @Susan, I went to the top of a lighthouse one time and it really was awesome.

    @Lexa, I will tell her you said that. Thanks!

  37. @Chrys, I'm so glad you liked it, thank YOU!

  38. Your niece sure does know how to take some lovely pictures.

  39. Martha's Vineyard is a beautiful place and how cool that you had a relative who was a lighthouse keeper!

  40. That's so cool that your great-great grandpa was the light house keeper there. I've only been to Martha's Vineyard once, but I would love to go back.

  41. Those are some spectacular cliffs. :) It looks like a great place to add to the bucket list.

  42. I'd love to visit Aquinnah one day

  43. Nothing wrong with cheating. I know you have job like I do. Easy is better sometimes.

    Hugs and chocolate!

  44. Just look at that beach ... sigh... wouldn't it be lovely to be there right now? (It snowed here this morning. Snowed. In April. Sigh.)

  45. Beautiful place, Julie. No wonder you were fascinated enough to set your story there.

  46. Looks like a painter's paradise, Julie. I love it!

    Mary Montague Sikes

  47. This is really amazing. Thanks for visiting!


  48. It's gorgeous, Julie! I'm from the west coast, about half hour inland. Every once in a while I have to make a trip to the beach, just to see the ocean and waves--sometimes even dolphins swimming in the surf.

  49. It's gorgeous, Julie! I'm from the west coast, about half hour inland. Every once in a while I have to make a trip to the beach, just to see the ocean and waves--sometimes even dolphins swimming in the surf.

  50. @Nana, agreed!

    @Marcy, yeah, it's a fun family story to have. :)

    @km, I hope you make it back sometime. :)

    @Loni, definitely!

    @Lynda, I hope you make it.

    @shelly, this is the one time cheating seems okay LOL. Hugs back to you. :)

    @Cathy, oh my goodness, we are lucky to finally have some spring weather here. I hope your snow is gone soon!

    @Joy, yeah, I just love it.

    @Mary, it is, I know you would love painting it. :)

    @Gina, thank you!

    @Gwen, oh, I've been to the west coast twice and loved it so much both times. The Pacific is so beautiful! I would love to see those dolphins sometime, how amazing.

  51. Looks and sounds heavenly! By the way, I think the research you put into your novels is amazing! I think it's just a different kind of world-building, except I think what you do is harder. :)

  52. Lovely post, sounds like a great place to visit between the ocean cliffs and lighthouse.

  53. Beautiful! Nice Post. Good luck and have fun with the A to Z Challenge. I'm not participating, but I'm proudly displaying my Supporter badge! Lily (Eva)

  54. I have heard so much about Martha's Vineyard, I want to visit it now.

  55. Lovely pictures. I love lighthouses. Before we remolded we had an entire room decorated with them. What a great place to "have" to visit to do research for a story. :)

  56. Funny that you should say raw. The second picture makes me feel I'm seeing the inner layer of the cliff. Like part has been stripped bare. Or maybe I'm weird. These are some nice pictures and you definitely went with what you know for this year's A-Z.

  57. We're travelling to Boston next year, would like to see Martha's Vineyard now, but not sure what it will be like in November?
    Love the pictures by the way, and best of luck on your A to Z journey. :)

  58. I have never been to Martha's Vineyard, but it looks gorgeous. I can't wait to see more of the place through you.

  59. What a beautiful place and I think it is fascinating that you have such a great family connection to the place.
    When I was younger I always longed to be a lighthouse keeper although I was never exactly sure why. It's such a same that lighthouse keepers were slowly fazed out.
    Really enjoyed your post thanks for sharing. :)

  60. @Tyrean, oh, maybe so, thanks!

    @Claire, it really is.

    @Lilica, oh, thanks! Nice to meet you and thanks for visiting!

    @Rachna, I hope you will be able to, I think you'd like it.

    @Jenn, that sounds like my kind of room. I love them too.

    @Sheena-kay, no, I don't think you're weird at all LOL.

    @sd, oh, I don't know what it's like in the winter months, I've only been in the summer time. I've always wanted to visit in the off season though to see what it's like. Thanks!

    @Melissa, thank you!

    @joss, it is, I think it's such a cool part of history. So glad you enjoyed it, thanks!

  61. It looks like a beautiful place, thanks for sharing! :)

  62. your site is very good. the site is also good then your sweet topic . mane good on my related side women gift baskets is my site plz visit them.Good luck and have fun with the A to Z Challenge.

  63. @Laura, it really is, thanks for your comment.

    @Lee, thanks and good luck to you as well.


Thank you for your comments!