A Lovely Visit and Some Research

I just spent two weeks with my mom in the Florida panhandle. It was my first trip in over a year and my first time back in Florida in sixteen months. It was so great to get to see my mom. Being there with toes in the sand is a lovely way to renew my connection to the area and it enabled me to do a bit of research for my Chloe Jackson Sea Glass Saloon mysteries. While I was there I turned in the third book in the series, Three Shots to the Wind, worked on the release for A Time to Swill which comes out on July 27th, and tinkered with ideas for the untitled fourth book.

So what is my connection and why write about this area? My parents started vacationing in the Florida panhandle in the mid-eighties. Soon they started spending part of the winter there and finally they moved to Destin, Florida. My family lived in the area for almost three years when my husband was stationed at Hurlbert Field and taught courses on Sub-Saharan Africa at the Special Forces Schoolhouse. (Yes, that’s what it was actually called!)

Is that Chloe Jackson in the boat she inherited from Boone?

I’ve been visiting the panhandle for a long time and watched (often with horror) the massive growth of the area. It went from long stretches of lovely beaches to high rises and houses being crammed in every available space. One developer actually managed to get the city council to approve moving the road so he could make a beach front housing development. It took another area of stunning views away from the general population. Now all you can see is an ugly stucco wall and the top stories of too big houses.

There are always disagreements between the locals and the masses of tourists visiting the area. On the one hand all the tourists means there are more restaurants, grocery stores, and amusements. But there is also wear and tear on infrastructure, massive traffic jams, and more crime. The fight over who owns the beach continues with current Florida laws tilting back to property owners. Looking at the intersection of all of this is fascinating to an author like me.

It’s not always easy to put aside all the noise and just enjoy the beach. But I gave it my best shot as many times as I could while I was there. My mom and I took some wonderful walks at the Crab Trap. We loved spotting dolphins, pelicans, and just taking in the stunning color of the water against the oh, so white sand. It truly does feel like paradise at times.

Readers: Do you like doing research for projects?

34 Thoughts

      1. Keeps me out of the bars, not that I have ever seen the appeal of such except as a place for the knitting circle to meet some years back. Back rooms can be lovely!

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  1. Sherry,

    When writing my book reviews, I don’t have to do that much research. I just need to give a coherent opinion without spoiling the plot.

    When writing my music reviews, I have to do a little bit of research though nothing too involved. I recently interviewed a band from Greece and I had to do a bit more research so I could ask some halfway decent questions.

    If I was writing a book, I know that a fair amount of research would have to be done. I might not look forward to it, but in order to make a book worthy of publication (and James Patterson level sales, HA!) I need to have a book that makes sense instead of just being inaccurately fanciful.

    As far as your untitled fourth book, it’s too bad you are using “shots” in the title of book three because I thought “One Bourbon, One Shot, One Body” would be mildly amusing.

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  2. Gorgeous pix, Sherry. Happy that you were able to get away and to see your mom. It’s so wonderful that things are opening up.

    I had done hotel market studies in Destin and the panhandle in the early 1980s. At that time, it was still relatively untouched. Mostly locals and military. My husband and I escaped to Destin when Hurricane Irma was knocking at our SW Florida door in 2017. Yep, population density had increased, but the people of Destin went out of their way to accommodate us as hurricane refugees, and I learned that The Hog’s Breath Saloon originated there. Take that, Key West!

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  3. Honestly, I think if you do anything right that it takes at least some research. We love photography – especially of wild critters in their natural surroundings. Other than learning the camera inside and out, to be able to photography the animals we had to learn their habits – where to find them, what they did, signs to look for. Doing our backup research enables us to capture the critters and also to make those photos the best they can be. We also love to garden. Research on starting seeds, what to plant for our area and how to grow it all make for a better crop of veggies and more pretty flowers. It was that research that led us to the Japanese ring method of growing tomatoes so that we can grow more in less space. And research never ends because you can never know it all because with like all things in life there are changes and improvements to learn about.

    We live in a tourist destination so can very well understand the pull and trying to find balance in what is profitable for the area as well as preserving what is here. Glad you were able to spend time with you Mom and enjoy your time there as well soaking in the sun and sand.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

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  4. What cheering photos, Sherry! Thanks for sharing them! I absolutely love to research! I love the part of a project when there is is so much to explore, to connect and to concoct and research, at least for me, is the catalyst for all of it.

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  5. Glad that your trip was so wonderful and rejuvenating. I know that seeing your mom after such a long time was both joyous and bittersweet.

    Can’t wait to visit with Chloe and the gang again soon. That beach does indeed look relaxing. Bring back travel!

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  6. I’m so happy you spent two weeks with your Mom, even if you were busy at work a part of the time. Sadly, I’ve never been to any part of Florida. I’d love to, it just hasn’t happened yet. As for research, depending on the topic, I love it. If it’s a subject that bores me, well… not so much. I guess that’s just the nature of the beast, right? Thank you for some pretty beach photos! I’ve missed the Jersey shore point that my family and I go to annually. The sand and sea photos just put a big smile on my face immediately.

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  7. Such tough research. I’m sorry you have to suffer like that for us.

    I like doing research on something I’m interested in. Sometimes, what I have to research for work isn’t that interesting. I just want to know the answer so I can get my work done correctly.

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  8. We were in Fort Walton Beach, FL in the very early ’70’s and fell in love with the salt colored sandy beaches. Makes me a sad to think of anyone buying up beaches and folks unable to take long walks on the beach. It just seems like beaches should be for everyone. Growing up I went to Galveston a lot and they had a seawall for miles, keeping the beaches open to the public. I am sure it is more developed currently. Maybe we should take a trip there and see what it looks like now, for research purposes of course. 😉 Thank you for writing about the Florida Panhandle setting which brings back good memories and allows Chloe to entertain me!

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  9. Beautiful pictures! I do like doing research. I learn something new each time!

    So excited read this book!! Love the book cover!

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  10. Destin is s really nice area. Haven’t been in years but the beaches are nice. Maybe another trip out there is due.

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