Creating Characters


I found writing a new series scary as all get out – whatever that means. Suffice it to say I had a LOT of talks with the editor in my head that told me From Beer to Eternity was crap and that no one was going to want to read a book set in a beach bar in the panhandle of Florida. Fortunately, lots of talks with the Wickeds, Barb Goffman, and a plotting session with Jessie got me beyond that. And since a deadline loomed I put fingers to keyboard and wrote. Here’s a little bit about three of the main characters in From Beer to Eternity the first Chloe Jackson Sea Glass Saloon mystery.

Chloe Jackson – Chloe’s motto – borrowed from her dad – is: a promise made is a promise kept. Which is how she finds herself going from children’s librarian to waitress at the Sea Glass Saloon. She made a promise to her best friend Boone Slidell that if anything happened to him in Afghanistan, she’d go help his grandmother run her bar in the panhandle of Florida – not thinking it would be a promise she had to keep.  

This is what Chloe thinks about her career change: The truth was, as a twenty-eight-year-old children’s librarian, I never imagined I’d end up working in a beach bar in Emerald Cove, Florida. In the week I’d been here I’d already learned toddlers and drunk people weren’t that different. Both were unsteady on their feet, prone to temper tantrums one minute and sloppy hugs the next, and they liked to take naps wherever they happened to be. Go figure.

Chloe is short, with short brown hair and big brown eyes. She has two older brothers who had a lot of influence over her. Getting away from them is one of the many reasons Chloe became a runner. They say she has thunder thighs, Chloe describes herself as a basset hound in a family of whippets.

Vivi Slidell – isn’t the little old lady Chloe was expecting to rescue. Chloe is shocked to find out that Vivi doesn’t want her there and ends up lying so she can keep her promise to Boone. Chloe thinks: Maybe I resented that she wasn’t who I thought she’d be. In my head, I’d pictured swooping in to save the day. It had been my noble cause since the day I’d heard Boone had gone missing. His grandma would be grateful. I’d be lauded. The reality was so vastly different from the notion.

Chloe describes her: Vivi was a beautiful woman with thick silver hair and a gym-perfect body. Seventy had never looked so good. She wore gold, strappy wedge sandals that made my feet ache just looking at them, cropped white skinny jeans, and an off-the-shoulder, gauzy aqua top. I always felt a little messy when I was with her.

Joaquín Diaz – Poor Joaquín—he’s the bartender at the Sea Glass and is stuck between his loyalty to Vivi and his growing friendship with Chloe. He’s Chloe’s first friend in Florida and becomes her support system as Chloe traverses interactions with prickly Vivi.

This is how Chloe describes him: Joaquín’s eyes were almost the same color as the aquamarine waters of the Gulf of Mexico, which sparkled across the wide expanse of beach in front of the Sea Glass. With his tousled dark hair, Joaquín looked way more like a Hollywood heartthrob than a fisherman by morning, bartender by afternoon. That combination had the women who stopped in here swooning. He looked like he was a few years older than me.

Joaquín’s hips swayed to the island music playing over an old speaker system. He was in perpetual motion, with his hips moving like some suave combination of Elvis and Ricky Martin. My hips didn’t move like that even on my best day—even if I’d had a couple of drinks.

Chloe asks Joaquín: “Have you ever thought about dancing professionally?”

            “Been there, danced that,” Joaquín answered.


            “Oh, honey, I shook my bootie with Beyoncé, Ricky Martin, and Justin Timberlake among others when I was a backup dancer.”

            “What are you doing here, then?” I was astonished.

            “My husband and I didn’t like being apart.” Joaquín started shaking the cocktail, but threw in some extra moves, finishing with a twirl. “Besides, I get to be outside way more than I did when I was living out in LA. There, I was always stuck under hot lights on a soundstage. Here, it’s a hot sun out on the ocean. Much better.”

Kensington is giving away 100 copies of From Beer to Eternity over on Goodreads. Click here and scroll down for a chance to win.

Readers: Do you like meeting characters in new series? Writers: Do you find starting a new series exhilarating or scary?

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The audio version will be available soon!



45 Thoughts

  1. Love meeting new characters in a new series. And this sounds like the perfect way to re-visit the panhandle. All the best with the release, Sherry.

  2. Congratulations on the launch of a new series, Sherry.

    Yes, I like meeting new characters and series, especially if the author is already known to me (like you Sherry). Thanks for telling us a bit about Chloe, Vivi and Joaquin. The FL panhandle setting also sounds intriguing.

    I was lucky to get a Netgalley ARC of From Beer to Eternity, which I am looking forward to reading this summer.

  3. I’m really looking forward to the launch of this new series Sherry.

    I do like meeting new characters because if I like the character I have a whole new set of adventures to look forward to.

  4. “From Beer to Eternity” sounds wonderful with a host of delightful characters I’d love to get to know better. Nothing better than the start of a new series when you can’t wait for the opportunity to read the first book. Congratulations on writing a book others are going to want to read as well!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  5. Your new series sounds wonderful! I tried starting a new series once. So far I only have one book out, so that tells you how it’s gone so far! I do love the characters though. Finding the time is the problem.

  6. I’ve been looking forward to this one. And I love finding a new series to dive into.

  7. I like getting to know new characters and Chloe sounds so real to me! I’m about to begin a new (Kensington )series–also located in Florida– and yes, it’s scary. Once I heard Mary Higgins Clark being interviewed on Patzi Gil’s “Joy on Paper” radio show. She said something so true I wrote it down. (November 15,2018.) “When you love your characters it makes writing that much more exciting.”

  8. Sherry! You know (I hope) how excited I’ve been about this series. And I am being completely honest when I say these excerpts are WONDERFUL. Please have the utmost confidence in yourself and your work! I can’t wait to read this book! ❤️

  9. P.S. I forgot to add that as a writer, I find a new series (and/or genre) exhilarating AND scary! 🙂

  10. I love to meet a whole new bunch of friends in a new series. And the more eccentric, the better. I’m looking forward to From Beer to Eternity, as I would to anything you write, Sherry!

  11. These new characters sound like fun. I can’t wait to spend more time with them when I read this book in just a few weeks.

  12. Loved meeting Chloe, Vivi and Joaquin! I can’t wait to spend more time with them in that wonderful Florida setting! So excited for you.

  13. Great way to introduce readers to your new characters. And wait until they meet Rhett!

  14. Sounds like you’ve got a good cast, Sherry. But I know how you feel about new characters. When I started the Home Front Mysteries and had to get to know all new “people” it was a shock from the comfort of knowing Jim and Sally so intimately!

  15. Congratulations and I love meeting new characters. And I agree with Barb, wait till they meet Rhett.

  16. I really enjoyed getting a sneak peek at your new series. I just love it, so please be a pal and write fast so I can find out what happens next!

  17. The characters sound like a lot of fun! Looking forward to your new series.

  18. Good morning Sherry,
    The characters sound really good in the book! I’m wanting to get the book even more now! You are going to do great with this series!!!

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