Tag Archive for: charleston

A Charleston Alley

– Today I share a short-short story while I’m finishing up my newest novel. I hope you have a fantastic September and all those in school have a lovely experience this year. My son’s currently a high school senior and taking virtual high school and college courses. 

A Charleston Alley

I ducked into the alley and squared my shoulders. I didn’t trip on the cobblestones, even though I wore three-inch stiletto heels that had hurt my ankles and made the balls of my feet sweat. I didn’t watch my steps closely either, I never looked down. I gazed straight ahead, head held high, shoulders back and down away from my ears, not hunched over and tilted sideways due to the heft of my tote bag stuffed with notebooks, journals, novels, and dreams.

I ran my right palm across the centuries-old brick lining the alley instead of pounding my fist into it. I didn’t turn my head when I heard steps gathering speed at my rear. My heart didn’t clinch as the man’s baritone rumble evoked a soft laugh from a woman’s throat. My chest didn’t seize, my pulse stayed steady, my palms might have become damp and caught slightly on the bricks, but I charged on.

I liked the swish of the fringe of my silk purse brushing my thigh as it swung on my left wrist. I did hold my hands up to admire the shell pink of my nails that I hadn’t bitten to the quick in two weeks. Fourteen entire days!

As I closed in on my destination, I didn’t think my ample bosom, as my mother described it when she’d zipped up my sheath dress, pressed too tightly against the seams. I could breathe and still had a gap between the cleavage, even though fifteen pounds had crept up on me and I’m not a college freshman.

I didn’t try to open the door first when the gentleman in the laughing couple rushed to grab the handle. I smiled at him instead and thanked him, surprised that my voice didn’t quiver or shake but sounded gentle and southern to my ears and inside my head.

I didn’t stop at the host station to ask for a table for one, or dash into the ladies room to throw up or give myself a final pep talk. I continued my journey directly into the well-lit bar.

It didn’t take long for me to spot him. Dark hair glistening, the back of his neck newly shaved and begging for a kiss. He ran his finger around his starched collar, and then straightened his tie. I could almost catch a whiff of his aftershave, a musky, manly scent that had lingered on my porch swing cushion for hours after he’d left the evening before.

He thanked the bartender, paid a generous tip, and glanced toward the door. His smile spread across his face, causing wrinkles around his eyes. I enjoyed the long, silent whistle, the nod of appreciation, the way his body leaned toward mine. I reached him in five steps. Watching him, watching me. I had control. I had hope. I took the chardonnay glass from his hand, a shock of electricity coursing through us so violently it made the laughing couple stop and stare.

I didn’t care. After the ultimate ten year dating dry patch, I wasn’t looking back.

Robin Hillyer-Miles is close to finishing her next novel, “Cathy’s Corner” and she can’t wait to share it with the world. She lives in the South Carolina Lowcountry with her husband, son, and three dogs. Robin works for the YWCA Greater Charleston with the mission to eliminate racism and empower women. She’s currently published with a short story in an anthology that’s soon no longer going to be available to purchase.

Robin’s also a certified tour guide for the city of Charleston, has 300 hours of yoga instructor training, and is currently super tired of hearing/seeing political ads (and it’s only September!). 😀

Keep in touch with her via her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/RobinHillyerMilesAuthorTourGuideYoga

Fashion Makes Sense but I’m Wearing Shorts and a T-Shirt

It’s hot and sticky in the South Carolina Lowcountry. 

I don’t water my plants in the morning because the forecast calls for rain. I end up watering my plants that afternoon because the rain passed us by. Or it rains when I’m inside working, and the humidity leaches up all the moisture into the air. 

I’m obsessed with fashion. I put on QVC every morning and play it in the background while I’m working. The mindless chatter of the host and the brand representative filter out all the other noises in my head. 

Susan Graver, a designer, talks over the host most of the time. She’s a true chatterbox. I feel her. I’d do the same, plus her clothing line has some nice items.

Carolyn Gracie, a QVC host, and Gary Goben, the senior apparel designer for Denim & Company, have stuffed squirrels that talk with one another. I find it strangely comforting that a grown woman and man play with stuffed toys on a national television show. 

On QVC Martha Stewart shows up from her house and talks about her rather matronly line. Joan Rivers accouterments still look like they’re from her time period, but I’m oddly drawn to them. 

I’ve purchased metal slinky water hoses (see the need for one above). A pair of cute Earth shoes that remind me of a pair of wooden slides I owned for years that one of my dogs chewed a bit of one heel and I still wore everywhere. I can’t find them now. I’m glad I found a similar pair. 

Since I’m working from home, I’ve purchases skorts, T-shirts, and Cuddle Duds attire. 

I have quite a collection of fashion catalogs. North Style, Serengeti, Coldwater Creek, Soft Surroundings, Lands’ End, and Talbots. I’ve been trying to find outfits to take on our twelve-day cruise to the British Isles that will most likely NOT depart from London in late August. I have not purchased a darn thing but have dog-eared the pages of fifteen catalogs.

A dear friend of mine has a lovely fashion sense and her own Instagram account and a blog about fashion. She looks put together at all times. She never looks dowdy as I often feel. 

At eleven in the mornings on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, Style Finder Boutique, a shop in Raleigh, NC, hosts fashion shows, tips, and sales via Facebook live. Michele and Michelle (or double L as they call her) seem to be around my age. Sometimes they aren’t that streamlined in their live show, but they handle mishaps with style. 

They explain fashion terms, color schemes, core closet, and what looks good on different bodies with different face shapes. I had no idea the shape of your face has anything to do with what clothing to wear. I have a symmetrical oval face according to the online eyeglass site I recently visited. When I had my “colors done” with a Color Me Beautiful stylist back in the day, I was told I am a summer. 

I’m wearing pull-on exercise shorts and a T-shirt I got for participating in the Charleston Yoga Fest two years ago. I am learning, just not putting into practice, obviously.

Do y’all like to watch fashion shows, flip through catalogs, and follow fashion pages and shops on social media? Tell me I am not alone. 

I’m going on a “dues cruise” with the Charleston Tour Association next Monday. We board a tour boat at 5:45 p.m., have cocktails and hors d’oeuvres whilst wearing face masks, and enjoy a cruise in the Charleston harbor. I’m a tour guide and the treasurer for this group. We’re allowing half the attendees we normally do for one of our most popular meetings. I have to wear a coordinating outfit for this event. I have not a clue what that outfit will entail. O.o


Charleston Tour Association: www.tourcharleston.org

This post, while silly and all about fashion, isn’t meant to be an escape from what’s happening around us, but perhaps a bit of a respite for the few minutes you’re reading. 
White privilege doesn’t mean your life has been hard. It just means the color of your skin isn’t one of the things that makes it harder. Please take the time to learn about more than what’s in our little bubbles. 


Robin Hillyer-Miles writes romance of the contemporary, magic-realism, and cozy mystery varieties. “West End Club” appears in the anthology “Love in the Lowcountry: A Winter Holiday Edition.” She’s writing “Cathy’s Corner” a 45,000-word contemporary romance set in the fictional town of Marion’s Corner, SC.
You can find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RobinHillyerMilesAuthorTourGuideYoga
The anthology is offered on Amazon in paperback or e-book here:

Visions of the Future

He says he fell in the deep end,
thank goodness, or he’d’ve
hit his head on the steps.

Y’all my 65-year-old fully dressed husband fell into our pool whilst washing down the deck. It reminded me of something I’ve seen recently that said “You can tell if you’re old by how people react when you fall. If they laugh first, you’re young. If they immediately run to you to ensure you’re okay, you’re old.”

Well, I did the second scenario with him. All he needed help with was the removal of his hearing aids. Which made me laugh and then our 17-year-old son and I fell into a huge fit of the giggles. My sweet husband may never live this down. It’s been three days and his shoes are still soaked because he won’t listen to me tell him to take out the soles and set the shoes and the inserts in the hot almost-summer sun we’ve been enjoying here on the outskirts of Charleston.

In April he turned 65, which makes this the once a decade nine months of teasing I get to subject him to because our ages are flipped. He’s 65 and I’m 56. I think it’s hilarious. He shakes his head at me a la Desi at Lucy.

Which got me to thinking about the romance that we write, the beginning, falling in love, and getting to know one another. The first time they fart is kinda cute, the “don’t go down the hall or near the guest bathroom anytime soon” is equally adorable but never written about.

When I was a child, our family would go on two-week trips with another couple and their niece and nephews. I usually shared the room with the couple and the niece. Once I caught the wife trimming her husband’s bushy eyebrows. I said, “Wait, is that a thing? Am I going to be doing that when I’m older?” She replied, “Only if you’re lucky enough to be in a relationship this long.”

Mary Grace Coker Couch and 
Dud Spiegel (DS) Couch, Jr.

When I could drive myself to Easley, SC from either college in Columbia or home in Charleston, I’d visit with my grandparents once a month of my own volition. My grandfather would wait until I visited so I could cut his nails. He said when I trimmed them; they didn’t need filing. Whatever magic I did, left them perfect. He might have said this so I’d visit more often, but it worked.

My grandfather got very sick toward the end. My grandmother and I would sit at the kitchen counter playing solitaire and not speaking before nine in the morning (her rule). Papa would venture down the hall to the restroom from his bed. Nanny would eagle-eye and sonic-ear his every move. It made me sad but joyful that their intense love affair had lasted over sixty years. She was attuned to his every move.

As I’m writing my stories of the blossoming of love, I’m instilling in that depth of feeling the longevity and faithfulness of many years to come. The stinky bathrooms, the wiry eyebrows, the missteps into pools while fully dressed and while the spouse is on a conference call, the never getting the order right at the drive-thru, the refilling of the coffee cups without asking, the Batman signal of the empty tea pitcher on the counter, the kiss every time one of them departs or arrives, all melt into one beautiful love story that’s lurking in the unwritten epilogue.

When you read a story, do you ever picture the hero and heroine as a long-time couple with all their quirks and habits?

For example, imagine Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy in their fifties. They’re 21 and 28 when she accepts his proposal. How will they change but still be in love thirty years later?

What would they be doing to get on one another’s nerves? What would they do to show their deep love? Would they finally be straight with one another and not hide behind their words? Will she still think he’s hot when his dad bod goes swimming in the pond?  Will she caution him not to be reckless on his horse? What’s his reaction when she’s gone on one of her extensive walks and hasn’t returned by tea-time?

Are they enjoying being home together all time, since Mr. Darcy lives off interest income? How do they spend this time? Do they have couple friends? Dinner parties? Travel? Is she exasperated with him now that she’s hit menopause? Is he worried about losing his hair?

My take? I think Fitzwilliam will take joy in his wife being her own person and speaking her mind, I can see him watching her with pride at dinner parties or when she’s taking the lead in community events. And Elizabeth/Lizzy will pamper on him and sit in his lap by the fireplace for years to come, much to their children’s and servants’ chagrin.

I might be embedding my relationship with my husband in their storyline though, what are your thoughts?


Robin Hillyer-Miles writes romance of the contemporary, magic-realism, and cozy mystery varieties. “West End Club” appears in the anthology “Love in the Lowcountry: A Winter Holiday Edition.” She’s writing “Cathy’s Corner” a 45,000-word contemporary romance set in the fictional town of Marion’s Corner, SC.

Robin lives near Charleston, SC where she works part-time for the YWCA Greater Charleston (she took this photo <<< on 12/11/2020 her first day on the job) and gives tours of downtown Charleston (when there’s not a shutdown because of a pandemic). Her yoga instructing has fallen by the wayside but she strives to continue her home practice (it’s fallen by the wayside too, honestly).

She and her husband of 24-years love working from home together. Their teenage son enjoys finishing his junior year of high school online. The dogs don’t know what’s going on but they are digging all the attention. Her husband insists she needs a pool wherever they live, and she’s been enjoying the heck out of it during this stay at home order.

You can find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RobinHillyerMilesAuthorTourGuideYoga

The anthology is offered on Amazon in paperback or e-book here:

Everything Old is New Again

This is my first blog post as part of the Stiletto Gang. I’m excited, thrilled, and honored to be asked to be part of this wonderful group of awesome writers.
I lived in Memphis, Tenn. (Home of the Blues/Birthplace of Rock and Roll) for about 18 years before returning home to Charleston, South Carolina in 2016. When I moved to Memphis, I did group sales at a family entertainment center. We were members of a local association called Metro Memphis Attractions Association. Being a part of Double M Double A helped me acclimate quickly to the area and visit all of the historic, entertainment, and educational attractions. I’d been a tour guide in Charleston, so this was right up my alley.
In Charleston we pride ourselves on being the first to do and have most everything, you know like the first female newspaper publisher, first golf course, first municipal college, first museum, the list goes on and on. For my entire life I thought we invented the Piggly Wiggly grocery store chain. Imagine my surprise upon visiting the Pink Palace Museum in Memphis and discovering that the former owner of the mansion started The Pig.

My favorite Pig cup.
Clarence Saunders opened his first Piggly Wiggly grocery store in 1916. Before then, shoppers would hand clerks a list and the clerks did the shopping, while the client waited for their order to be filled. When Saunders opened his store in Memphis, Tenn., it was the first true self-service grocery store. He laid out his store in a sort of loop that allowed for a greater variety of items to be visible and bought. Saunders received his patent for the self-service shopping in early 1917. 
Saunders may or may not be surprised to see his concepts still in use since he was a forward thinker. However, here we are in 2020 back to shoppers sending in their lists to clerks who do the shopping for them and bag up the items, leaving the customers to only ensure they have proper payment when picking up their groceries and or having the groceries delivered directly to their door. 
Saunders only had a couple of years of formal schooling and he became self-educated via reading. Which segues into the correlation of grocery shopping and bookstore evolution similarities, somehow, for me at least. 
Amazon has only been around since 1994 but is the giant of the bookselling (and everything else) industry. Jeff Bezos has put many an independent, and quite a few big-box brick-and-mortar stores out of business. And yet, in the Charleston area we have five independent bookstores: Blue Bicycle (downtown Charleston), Buxton Books (downtown Charleston), Main Street Reads (Summerville), Itinerate Literate (North Charleston – it used to be a bookmoblie store, hence the name), and The Turning Page (Goose Creek). Plus, I recently had someone tell me that an independent bookstore will open just over the Cooper River bridge in Mt. Pleasant in the near future. Take that Amazon! (just kidding)
I enjoy visiting and purchasing from independent bookstores. I dig their energy, their book signings, coffee talks, helpful staff, and book clubs. 

Itinerant Literate hosts “Get Lit Bookclub” where you dine at a local restaurant and the small plates of food incorporate the meals present in the book, plus you get a serving of wine with each course. They sell out monthly. 

Buxton holds book talks in their store and in conjunction with the Charleston Library Society next door to them. Buxton is home to Tour Charleston where all the tours are book-based. (Full disclosure: I occasionally give their ghost tours.)

I’m excited to write books and have signings in these local stores. I’m truly hopeful they all succeed. 
And when I plan ahead, a rarity indeed, I love ordering my groceries online. 

Have you noticed this trend of returning to the way we were? In what other ways are we going back to the way things were done once upon a time

You can find out more about Clarence Saunders and the museum collection at www.memphismuseum.org, and the Charleston Library Society at https://charlestonlibrarysociety.org

To learn more about Charleston, SC independent bookstores visit https://bluebicyclebooks.com, https://www.buxtonbooks.comhttps://www.itinerantliteratebooks.comhttps://mainstreetreads.com, and https://turningpagebookshop.com. You can find a book-based tour at www.tourcharleston.com

Cramming a Ton into One Weekend

What a whirlwind weekend. First, I have to say, I LOVE CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA!!! There’s something about that city that speaks to me. I have city lust, big time. Don’t know if I’ll ever live there, though one of my dreams is to own a pretty house near the water.

Tonya Kappes, fellow Goddess at The Naked Hero, and I were invited to give a workshop at the Lowcountry RWA chapter meeting. Any excuse to visit Charleston! We flew in Friday, did our workshop Saturday–followed by a book signing set up by the fantabulous Amy Fagley of the Lowcountry chapter. Shout out to Amy, Sharon, Sharon Marie, Tina–who’s not actually a Lowcountry member, but who is awesome!!–Florina, Nina, Dorothy, and the rest of you fun gals!

Tonya did a running blog about our adventure (which you can see here and here). Our workshop was on Stripping Down the Hero Archetypes. A totally interactive, mutli-learning modality experience which everyone LOVED (you can see snippets of the workshop videos here).

I wrote so much on the plane ride there and back that I want to take a plane trip every week just to up my word count.

Then, icing on the cake, Tonya, who used to own a bead company (sold it for beaucoup $$$$ so she could write… OMG!) taught me how to bead! Got home, took my daughter to the bead shop in a nearby city which was closed, headed to Hobby Lobby, which was also closed (they don’t care to do business on Sundays apparently), and ended up at Michael’s spending WAY TOO MUCH $$$ on beads.

BUT we each made our first bracelets yesterday and we’re hooked on beading. Or should I say toggled on beading? Strung on beading? Whatever. WE LOVE IT!

To top off the weekend, I finished the chapters of my cozy proposal! That is to say, I finished the first draft of said chapters. Still have to revise, but that’s okay. I love revisions. I can dig into revisions. The meat is there, and it’s all gravy now.

Icing on the cake was record numbers of people visiting and entering to win FREE BOOKS over at Books on the House (and the kids/teen site). This week, Brenda Novak, gearing up for her online auction which begins MAY 1st (to benefit diabetes research) is giving away totes of books and gift certificates for the auction. My son has the disease and I’m thrilled to help Brenda however I can. The Stiletto Gang has donated signed books, too!

All in all, it was a great weekend (minus the hour+ I spend unsubscribing from all these email lists I somehow managed to get on…no, for the last time, I DO NOT NEED VIAGRA, and I’m a writer and DO NOT WANT A CAREER CHANGE TO MEDICAL TRANSCRIBING!!!

Food for thought: How do we get ON these email lists in the first place? Are you a beader? Been to and love Charleston? Have great productivity on an airplane? Enjoy interactive workshops?

Let’s hear it!