Southerners are unique in many ways, most would agree, beginning but not ending with their Southern accent.

What does it mean to be Southern?

Seaside's Sundog Books hosted an acclaimed up-and-rising young author this week who has taken on the challenge of presenting in novel form what it is like to grow up as Southern born and bred.

North Carolina native Kristy Woodson Harvey grew up outside Charlotte and writes stories of family, relationships, and small town life in the South.

Her latest novel is "The Secret to Southern Charm," which is about love, hope, and small-town secrets against a backdrop of a charming coastal town.

"I really feel that in the South it's something that is passed down, knowing how to act, having manners, entertaining well," Harvey said. "It's something that makes the South special. Such as, never arrive at a friend's house empty handed, and if a friend is feeling down, take them something to cheer them up. I have practiced this all my life."

Although Harvey's family definitely comes into play when she looks for examples, she said the book is a novel, not a "how to."

One family member who plays a prominent role when Harvey looks for examples is her grandmother.

"My grandmother is 92 years old and she always makes sure she has her crystal and flowers around her and that her friends feel welcome at her house. I could write a book on what all she taught me," said Harvey. "One of her constant sayings is, 'This too shall pass,' and it usually does."

This is Harvey's fourth novel. She has also written "Dear Carolina," "Lies and Other Acts of Love," and "Slightly South of Simple."

"Dear Carolina" was long-listed for the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize and has appeared on numerous must-read lists, and has been optioned for film.

"Lies and Other Acts of Love" was a Romantic Times top pick, a Southern Booksellers Okra Pick, and a finalist for the Southern Book Prize.

"Slightly South of Simple" was a Southern Bestseller as well as a Barnes & Noble Bestseller.

Harvey graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's school of journalism, and holds a master's in English from East Carolina University with a concentration in multicultural and transnational literature. Her writing has appeared in Southern Living, Traditional Home, Parade, USA Today, and O. Henry. She has been featured in Women's Health, The Washington Post, US News and World Report, The Huffington Post, USA Today's Happy Every After, Marie Claire's The Fix, Woman's World, and Reader's Digest.

The young author formerly worked in finance.

"I started getting story ideas and I thought I would write them and see what happened," she said of her segue from finance to writing.

She published her first novel at age 29, which was "Dear Carolina" about a birth mother's letter to her adopted child.

"My son had just been born and I thought of how difficult it would be to give up a baby," she said. "It was emotional."

Check out Harvey's books at Sundog in Seaside.