~Legacy of Fortitude -- The Series
~Visit Verona, Georgia
~Meet the Sweet Southern Boys
~Visit Beautiful Lake Lucy
~Related Off-Site Reading
~Verona Vignettes -- Back Seat Driver

Throughout the writing of the early titles, this was simply The Georgia Series. After publication of the second title, Sweet Southern Boys, I chose the new name because I see fortitude as one of the defining traits of the main characters in all five of the stories.

Although characteristic of Southerners* throughout the region, and for generations, fortitude is particularly characteristic of the largely Scots-Irish denizens of the Southern highlands, where it is also known as pure cussedness. It encompasses more than just mountaineer stubbornness, though. It is the sheer determination to defy defeat, even among the defeated -- or, at least, to refuse the behavior and demeanor of the defeated.

Fortitude explains the refusal of Confederate soldiers -- and their families -- to grovel after the Union's brutal victory and even more brutal "re-unification." Popular culture and some scholarly works (J.W. Cash's Mind of the South, for example) portray white Southerners, especially men, who were not of the aristocracy (that is, poor, as in "poor white"), as whining and shiftless and incessently blaming others for his circumstances. While true in some individual instances, it is this stereotype (and others) -- which I consider not merely unrealistic and largely untrue, but malicious -- that I write to counter.

Based upon my experience and observation growing up in the last half of the 20th Century, in various places in the Deep South, I believe white Southerners have gotten a bum rap for everything from the "civil war" to the civil rights movement, from "slavery and racism" to religious fanaticism. In general, the Southerners I've known are basically hard-working and genial; they possess a healthy balance of contentedness and ambition.  They love to work and they love to play; they are far less judgmental and more tolerant than folks from other regions, and they have remarkably long fuses.

How this fortitude, and other regional characteristics, manifest in individuals -- both men and women, but especially men -- is one of the threads woven throughtout my writing, and particularly in this series. How they respond to sudden adversity is at the heart of the stories in the Legacy of Fortitude series.
*The term Southerners here, and throughout my writing, refers primarily (though not exclusively) to white Southerners, particularly those whose forebears have lived in the South for generations.

Visit Verona, Georgia

Main Street, Downtown Verona

Verona was inspired by Valdosta, Georgia, and sits in approximately the same location, in extreme south Georgia, just a half-hour north of the Florida line. But the fictional town is not Valdosta with the name changed. There are many similarities, however. Incidentally, I have never been to Valdosta.

In both population and area,Verona is about half the size of Valdosta. The fictional town's population is about 25,000. It is the home of Verona State University. Downtown lies a few miles to the west of Interstate 75. Because of its proximity to I-75's intersection with Interstate 10 in northern Florida, Verona is a manufacturing and warehousing/distribution center.

Valdosta has nearby Moody Air Force Base; Verona has nearby Martin Air Force Base. Valdosta has the Little River; Verona the Oostachula River. And they both have the Okefenokee Swamp not far to the east.Just a little further on, the Atlantic coast with Jacksonville, Brunswick and Savannah lie within easy driving distance.

Meet the Sweet Southern Boys
Some of this background information doesn't appear in the novels, so this is behind-the-scenes info....
Shelby Michael Kincaid
Born August 3, 1976, Verona, Georgia Son of Kurt and Gina (Shelby) Kincaid
Sister Ainsley five years younger

Takes karate lessons beginning at age seven; collects arrowheads; gets a Commodore 64 computer at age nine, teaches himself BASIC programming which sets him on the path to becoming an IT professional as an adult.

Shelby is frank and impulsive. He's an ambivert, equally comfortable alone or with crowds. He has an explosive temper, but a very long, very slow fuse, so his temper does not explode often. When he does something regrettable, he has a tendency to overdo the guilt and remorse, to let it go on a little longer than it needs to, but he eventually moves on. He's is highly emotionally invested in his little sister, Ainsley, and very protective of her.

Shelby is very popular with girls at Verona High School. He's a wide receiver on the football team. His nickname is "Shelby Cobra." He goes to work at Morgan's Supermarket at age 14 and works there part time, off and on, until the spring of his senior year.

Shelby Kincaid -- a sweet Southern boy.

In 2008 Shelby makes a cameo appearance in the single title romantic suspense novel, Storm Surge. He travels to Pensacola to install a new computer system for business owner Justin Adair.

Cloverdale Community Recreation Center
Troy Randall "Randy" Stevenson, Jr.
Born February 9, 1976, Atlanta, Georgia
At seventeen, he stands 6'1' and weighs 172 pounds.

Son of Troy and Patty (Ayres) Stevenson
Sister Melissa, a year and five months older
Family moved from Atlanta to Verona in 1976 when Randy was just a few months old. He has no recollection of any other home.

Randy is two cliches -- tall, dark and handsome; the strong, silent type. He's athletic, like his father. Likes golfing with his father, and dabbling in astronomy. His team sports are football, baseball and basketball.

Because of his father's problem with alcohol, which precipitated a crisis for the Stevenson family when Randy was very young, he is more sensitive than the average guy to pain and/or distress in another person, and more sympathetic.

Girls interpret his reserve and sensitivity as his being "troubled" -- a tortured soul who needs their tender loving care. They're always asking Shelby and John Mark why Randy is wounded, and what they can do to attract him -- so they can help him, of course. This amuses Randy's two best friends to no end because Randy is not troubled, he just doesn't find it necessary to blurt everything he's thinking and feeling.

It amuses Randy, too, because he's actually very well adjusted; like his father, he's happy with who and what he is. However, he doesn't find it necessary to always correct this wrong impression about himself because, well, it is a powerful chick-magnet....

Randy Stevenson -- a sweet Southern boy.

John Mark Jordan
Born July 21, 1976, Charlotte, North Carolina
At seventeen, he stands 5'9" and weighs 155 pounds

Son of Dale and Carol (Payne) Jordan
Brother Tommy three years older
In 1978 when John Mark is two, the family moves to Verona, Georgia where Dale becomes the pastor of Forsythe Street Baptist Church

John Mark learns to skateboard at age six and becomes Georgia State Champion at twelve. He collects coins and stamps, and likes to read boys' adventure stories. In high school, he is a place kicker and punter for the Verona Patriots.

John Mark is optimistic and expansive. He's an extrovert and gets along well with others. He is an extremely good-looking kid who grows into a stunningly handsome man... but he's a talker. He just jabbers. Shelby's nickname for him is "Wock" -- short for "Jabberwock," an allusion to his loquaciousness.

A great disappointment in his life is that he and his older brother, Tommy, are not close; but his relationship with his best friends helps to make up for it.

Although a preacher's son, and a believer, John Mark has his own view of religion and deity. He believes more strongly in a somewhat impersonal providence than he believes God directly and personally intervenes in human life.

John Mark Jordan -- a sweet Southern boy.

Cloverdale Elementary School
Visit Beautiful Lake Lucy
Lake Lucy is a spring-fed, man-made lake comprising forty acres and measuring roughly one-half mile wide and two miles long. It is situated several miles to the east and south of Verona proper. Because of its location and recent origins -- its creation was a project of the WPA in the 1930s -- it lacks the characteristic swamp vegetation, moss-draped bald cypress trees and scrub palmetto. It is surrounded instead by tall slash pines mingled with various hardwoods.

A two-lane blacktop road encircles the lake. Except for a commercial campground at the head of the lake, the eastern shore is undeveloped except for hiking trails. The southern and western shores are dotted with vacation cottages. The lake is use primarily by locals.

 Related Off-site Reading

Born Fighting -- How the Scots-Irish Shaped America
by James Webb
The Scots-Irish origins of the majority of Southerners explains where the fortitude, and the pure cussedness, originates.

The Okefenokee Swamp
A look at the fascinating natural history of North America's largest swamp. An irresistable lure for hunters and fishermen like the sweet Southern boys and their fathers.

The Expression of Care in the Rough and Tumble Play of Boys
by Tom Reed and Mac Brown

Website of the
Paul W. Bryant Museum

The Carolina Anole --
Dixie's Little Green Lizard

Verona Vignettes

This is a collection of scenes and snippets from the Georgia Series that didn't make it into the novels for one reason or another. Some of them are actually new scenarios that are written specifically for this collection. I have no plans to make this collection into a book or e-book. I periodically posting them online, mostly at Facebook, simply for my friends to enjoy.

Back Seat Driver

Patty steered the LeSabre down Benton Street to the intersection with busy Forsythe Avenue.  She braked the vehicle to a halt and looked left and right. It was rush hour and traffic appeared to be nonstop in both directions.

Troy sat in the passenger's seat. They had just dropped off his vehicle for service tomorrow. Now he also looked left and right at the traffic and discerned breaks in both lanes that would reach the intersection at the same time.

"Go after that red Toyota," he said.

Patty studied the red vehicle's speed, looked in the other direction. She appeared to be getting ready to pull out when Troy suggested, but when the vehicle passed, the LeSaber didn't move.

"Go!" Troy said, but the window of opportunity was passed. "Why didn't you go?"

"Cars were moving too fast. The break in traffic wasn't big enough."

Troy groaned softly and began monitoring the traffic for another break. More seconds passed. "Okay...go! Now!"

Still, the LeSabre sat at the intersection, its turn signal ticking monotonously.

"What was wrong that time?"

Patty sighed. "I didn't know if that car in the outside lane might change lanes and hit us if I pulled out."

Troy nodded slightly, clamped his lips together and resumed looking for breaks in traffic.

Well aware of his exasperation, Patty said, "Do you want to drive?"

"I may have to if we want to get home toni--Go! Punch it!"

Patty punched it. The station wagon scooted across the intersection and turned left with a slight squealing of tires.

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