Every morning I wake to see the sun peek through the fronds of a shaggy, two-story palm outside my bedroom window here in Charleston, South Carolina, and every morning it baffles me. I'm pretty sure that that's because born just a state northward, I was raised around more run-of-the-mill flora than such tropical fare, and because as a kid, I vowed to "escape" the South ASAP. Yet, after bolting North to Northwestern University's journalism school, upon graduation I made a beeline for a job at Southern Living magazine in Birmingham, Alabama, and—aside from the work (and play) jaunts that call me out—I've happily been whistling Dixie ever since. Go figure.

Speaking of work, I've been writing since I was 11 years old, when my Danish grandmother gave me a journal and a stern directive to fill it up. Since then, I've served as a staffer at SL, Southern Accents, Weight Watchers, and a handful of other magazines. When I left the Time Inc. group, I began freelancing for additional titles, like Better Homes & Garden, Budget Travel, Coastal Living, Cottage Living, Garden & Gun, HOME, and Orient-Express; contributing to travel guides such as Fodor's and Moon Handbooks; crafting branded books for Better Homes & Gardens, HGTV, and TLC; and pulling together special interest publications for companies ranging from Bellsouth to Safeway and Saks.

These days, I spend half the year attempting to employ exceptional manners while acting as the dressed-in-white editor of Charleston Weddings magazine. The other six months, my everyday manners and I slip back into flip-flops while I serve as the roaming senior editor of Charleston and Charleston Home magazines. During that time I also take on the fabulous flotsam and jetsam freelance work that comes my way: photo styling homes for shoots; writing who-knows-what; producing and art-directing photo shoots; editing's all par for the course.

My latest baby—aside from my four-legged pug-Boston mix, Oscar (Wilde)—is Southern Bouquets, a photo- and story-filled coffee table book on backyard bouquets that your mom, daughter, girlfriend, aunt, and/or neighbor would love for you to give her. Really. And as for what's next? Let's talk. Surprises—palm trees and so much more—are welcome.


Melissa Bigner headshot