Confession

By Sherry — I’m looking forward to seeing all of the Wickeds tomorrow at our annual retreat in Maine!

I announced my new Chloe Jackson Redneck Riviera series here on April 18th.

But as you might have guessed from the title of this piece, I have a confession to make. I vacillate between joy and terror as I start on this new adventure with Chloe. For some reason when I started writing the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mysteries, Sarah came to me almost fully formed. I knew where she lived, what she drove, how she felt about life.

Chloe is a bit more of a mystery to me. Instead of popping into my head like Sarah did, she’s holding bits of herself back. I know she was a children’s librarian in Chicago until she moved to the Emerald Coast to keep a promise to a friend and help his grandmother out at her beach bar. I knew the grandmother didn’t want her there, but Chloe was raised that a promise made was a promise kept.

Two weeks ago I was down at the Redneck Riviera visiting my mom and doing some research. (Isn’t that convenient?!) The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. The Gulf of Mexico was at its show offy best. The emerald color of the water against the white sand couldn’t have been more beautiful. Digging my toes in the sand as the cool water washed over my feet felt like a bit of heaven. I knew that Chloe would feel the same way.

My friend Clare and I went out on a research trip  — going to a few beach bars and talking about the new series.

First, we stopped at the Whale’s Tail in Miramar Beach, Florida. If you click here you can go to their website and checkout live beach cam. I’ve eaten there fairly often (the view is amazing and we saw dolphins) but didn’t know until Clare told me that there was a bar underneath the restaurant. It’s pretty plain but maybe the perfect spot for the Seaglass Bar.

Next we headed to the small town of Grayton Beach to go to the Red Bar. There’s another bar/restaurant there. It’s not right on the beach but only a block away. It’s one of those places that’s crammed full of interesting things. And just in case you wonder what was in that Bloody Mary there were green beans, olives, banana peppers and of course celery.

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And finally we stopped at The Other End — a bar on Destin harbor. It’s a cool little place with an Airstream as its building. But I think I want something more permanent for The Seaglass Bar.

None of these was the perfect bar but I think I can incorporate bits of all of them into the Chloe books. Then there are so many other decisions. Where does she live? What does she drive? What is her family like and where are they? More on all of this another day.

The area has a definite Southern feel with the heat, sweet tea, and drawls. I started using “you all” while I lived there after a life time of “you guys” that is part of my Iowa roots. The area attracts tourist, Midwesterners, spring breakers. A mix of old/young, South/North, that creates a clash of cultures. I know all of this is fodder for the books.

So I’m excited to learn more about Chloe and scared at the same time.

Readers: Does anyone have advice for me? How do you handle new characters? How do you face your fears?

 

 

 

 

Exciting News!

By Sherry — I’m in Bowling Green, Kentucky today for the Southern Kentucky Book Fest!

I am so excited to announce that I am writing a second series for Kensington – the Chloe Jackson Redneck Riviera series. The setting is in the panhandle of Florida and the town is a fictional version of Destin, Florida. The area is known as the Emerald Coast, LA – lower Alabama, and yes, the Redneck Riviera.

Why am I setting a book there? My parents used to winter on the Emerald Coast and eventually moved to Destin in 1991. My husband was stationed there in the early 2000s. We lived in the area for almost three years. When we left our daughter said “yes, ma’am, no sir,” called her gym teachers coach, and we all ended up talking slower and saying “y’all.” It’s hotter than the blazes in the summer, people hold open doors for you even when your halfway across the parking lot, the beaches are the whitest, softest I’ve ever been to, and the water is a stunning shade of green.

It’s even beautiful on a rainy day!

Here is a bit about the series from the proposal I turned in:  

There are some promises you hope you never have to keep. Thirty-year-old Chloe Jackson made such a promise to her friend Boone Parker before he left for a deployment in Afghanistan. When he didn’t come back, Chloe packed her bags to go help Boone’s grandmother, Vivi, run her Seaglass Bar on the white sand beaches of Destiny, Florida. Destiny is in the panhandle of Florida which is also known as the Redneck Riviera and LA — Lower Alabama. Destiny has four seasons – snowbirds, spring breakers, summer people, and the month and a half in the fall where it’s just the locals.

Chloe won’t miss the cold winters of Chicago, but giving up her job as a children’s librarian just about broke her heart. However, her late father had told her a promise made must be a promise kept. It’s the code Chloe has always lived by.

Chloe thought Vivi would be grateful for her help — she’s anything but grateful. Because what could a children’s librarian who has never mixed a drink add to her business? However, Vivi quickly realizes that Chloe’s past as a children’s librarian gives her a unique ability to handle unruly customers and employees.

Destiny is a town that grew too fast. Greedy developers made shady deals while lining the back pockets of the town council. Resources – police, utilities, and roads – are strained as is the environment. Rich people don’t want the locals to have access to the beach and fights about the mean high tide are ongoing. Harley riding local doctors don’t like the Speedo wearing foreigners coming to town.

Will Wade has owned the Briny Pirate restaurant next door to the Seaglass for thirty years. The two buildings are so close they might as well share a wall. When a Seaglass customer is hungry Vivi calls in an order and someone from the Briny Pirate runs it over.

Cast of Characters:

Chloe Jackson – is a thirty-year-old former children’s librarian who moves to Destiny, Florida to help her college friend’s grandmother run her bar on the beach.

Vivi Slidell – has run Seaglass Bar on the beach in Destiny for the past forty years long before the sleepy fishing village became a tourist hot spot. Vivi doesn’t think she needs help from anyone. She’s grieving the loss of her grandson whose support meant more to her than she ever realized. Vivi is reluctant to accept help from anyone and especially a Yankee who shows up every day unbidden.

Joaquin Diaz – the handsome bartender, a fisherman by day, who ladies flock to see. Overworked, Joaquin seems to be the only one who is happy that Chloe has arrived.

Will Wade – owns the Briny Pirate restaurant next door and has been in love with Vivi for thirty years. Will is a cranky native who doesn’t like how tourists, land developers, and northerners have ruined the once quiet beaches.

I hope you will join me in this new adventure!

Readers: Have you ever been to the Redneck Riviera? If not what is your favorite beach town? I’m at the Southern Kentucky Book Fest today, but will stop by as possible!