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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.

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?





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