Thursday, August 26, 2021

A Kernel of Truth @sharrisauthor


LUCY BURDETTE: Today the blog welcomes back longtime friend Sherry Harris with her new book. Don't forget to leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for a copy! 



SHERRY HARRIS: Thanks Lucy and Reds for having me back to celebrate the release of A Time to Swill, the second book in my Chloe Jackson Sea Glass Saloon series which is set in the panhandle of Florida. Authors get ideas for books from so many different places and the origin story for A Time to Swill is no different. 


I have visited Destin, Florida many times since 1988 and lived in nearby Shalimar for three years. One of my dear friends from there, Clare Boggs, helped me research for the series. We went to beach bars (such tough research!), drove by houses to find the perfect one for Chloe, picked out her car, and spent hours talking about what Chloe’s life would look like.  Sadly, Clare died unexpectedly in 2019. As I write this series (I’m now writing the fourth book) I think of Clare and call her the angel on my shoulder. 


Clare also gave me a file folder of articles she’d clipped from the local newspaper. She thought they might be helpful for story ideas. When I preparing to write A Time to Swill last year, I picked the folder back up and went through the articles. One was about an old house that was being moved from one location to another. Hmmm, that had a lot of possibilities. Another article was about a phantom ship that had washed up on the beach, washed back out, and then back onto the beach near the bar I ended up using as a model for the Sea Glass Saloon. 


That story caught my imagination. First, I discovered a phantom or ghost ships as they are called don’t have any paranormal activity occurring. They are abandoned ships or boats adrift at sea. Second, I did what all authors do in one form or another and thought, “what if?” What if Chloe got on the boat? What if while she was on it the boat went back out to sea? That was the kernel of the idea the opens the story. 


Chloe runs almost every morning. What if it’s foggy and she spots this sailboat bobbing at an odd angle near one of the sandbars that runs along the coast in Destin, Florida—the town near my fictional town of Emerald Cove. But why would she get on the boat? There must be some compelling reason. Ooohhh, I thought, what if she heard a baby cry and what if when she calls out, but no one answers. Chloe must take action—right after calling 911 to report the whole thing. 


The actual boat that ran aground in Destin was named The Phantom of the Aqua – isn’t that perfect? A man was sailing the boat from near St. Petersburg, Florida to the U.S. Virgin Islands. He got caught in a tropical storm, his sails ripped apart, and his engine died. He had to be rescued by the Coast Guard in a helicopter. The man assumed the sailboat sank, until he heard the news two months later that it turned up in Destin hundreds of nautical miles away from where he abandoned it.  Here’s a link to the news article. The photos of the sailboat are amazing. 


While Chloe is on the abandoned ship she finds a cat not a baby, but she also finds a skeleton. The remains connect back to her friend Ralph. His wife had disappeared twelve years earlier with three other people when they went out sailing. Ralph has always been a suspect in her disappearance. And now old wounds in Emerald Cove have been ripped back open. Chloe must figure out who is lying and who is telling the truth. 


Readers: Do you let your imagination run wild when you read an interesting story? I’ll give away a copy of A Time to Swill to someone who leaves a comment. 


Bio: 


Sherry Harris is the Agatha Award nominated author of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mystery series and the Chloe Jackson Sea Glass Saloon mysteries. Sherry is a past president of Sisters in Crime, a member of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, the New England Chapter of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. Sherry loves books, beaches, bars, and Westies — not necessarily in that order. She is also a patent holding inventor.

Blog: https://wickedauthors.com/

Twitter: Sharrisauthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SherryHarrisauthor

Instagram: SherryHarrisAuthor

Website: https://sherryharrisauthor.com


66 comments:

  1. Sherry, I’m sorry for the loss of your friend, but you are so fortunate that she is the angel on your shoulder . . . .

    I’m looking forward to reading Chloe’s latest adventure . . . That is an amazing story about the boat . . . who would have thought? I must admit that I don’t usually let my imagination run wild, but that is such an interesting story so it would be hard not to muse . . . .

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    1. Thank you, Joan! I sometimes wish my imagination would calm down a bit!

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  2. Sherry, I'm so sorry that your friend Clare is no longer here. I lost my best friend unexpectedly, and, like you, she was the friend I had such great adventures with. I'm glad that you have wonderful memories associated with Clare and your new series. That must have been so much fun picking out the bar and the house and all.

    The cover and title of the new book are great. A Time To Swill tickles my funny bone, and the story sounds fantastic. I need to back up and read the first Chloe book, because I think I'm going to like this series.

    My imagination can definitely run wild when I read an interesting story, but when it really runs wild is when I'm dreaming. You would not believe the complex, wild dreams I have.

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    1. I'm sorry about your friend -- life is difficult! I have wild dreams too.

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  3. Thanks for being here today while remembering your dear friend!

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  4. This is a fabulous book. Where your imagination took you is wonderful. By all means, but it and read it. (And, obviously, no need to enter me in the drawing.)

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    1. Thank you, Mark. The story surprised me as I wrote -- especially the whole thing with Steve!

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  5. Sherry, I've read and just loved A TIME TO SWILL. You don't have to enter me in the giveaway.


    I'm not sure if I let my imagination run wild while I'm reading a book. I'm usually occupied with the act of reading the book. But when a story makes a deep impression on me, there are times when I will write a story in my head where I'm in the world of the book. Sometimes I'll dream about a type of story I just finished where I'm viewing a story as if I'm the camera filming the story.

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    1. Thank you, Jay! I love that you continue books on in your head!

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  6. I loved the book, Sherry! So well done. Phantom boats, indeed. Are there many of them roaming the seas, do you know?

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    1. I found lots of stories about phantom boats. I'm so glad you loved the book.

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  7. Sherry, welcome to JRW and congratulations on your new release. I love the cover!

    Thank you for sharing the the story of your friend, Clare and what inspired the idea behind this book. It was pure genius for Clare to have saved those newspaper clippings for you. Several authors have shared that they created characters with characteristics of beloved friends or family members. Is there a character in this series who is like your friend, Clare?

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    1. That is such a great question. I thought about naming a character Clare but realized it was too close to Chloe. I think Clare is present in so many aspects of the book, instead of being channeled in to one person.

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  8. Good morning, Sherry! As you know I love your books and I'm sure A TIME TO SWILL will be no different. I love shipwreck stories, maritime stories, oceanside settings and your work! Congratulations on its publication!

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    1. Thank you, Brenda -- I'm a big fan of yours as well!

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  9. Sherry, sorry to hear about your friend. I'm an author - you know my imagination runs wild!

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  10. Your cover is amazing. Covers are the first step of getting my imagination going. Being able to use my imagination is part of the fun in reading a book. It increases the enjoyability of reading an author's words.

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    1. Kensington does a wonderful job with my covers!

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  11. Congrats on your book release. Love this book, don't enter me.

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  12. Happy Book Birthday!

    Shades of Rebecca! Sherry - what a fabulous premise. I can't wait to read A Time To Swill.

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  13. Sherry, that sounds like a super story! Really glad you had the clippings for inspiration. I too used to clip newspaper stories and keep them in a folder. Some were almost too fantastic to be true! Now they no longer deliver the newspaper where I live so I have to read it online. Very hard to cut out articles.

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    1. Laughing! That is indeed hard and bookmarking things isn't nearly as satisfying.

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  14. My condolences on the death of your friend. That’s an ongoing loss with happy and sad memories popping up when you least expect it.
    When I think of phantom ships I think of One-Eyed Willie and the Inferno in the Goonies. My daughters watched that a lot.

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  15. Such sweet memories, and you are such an angel, too, to honor her life like this.

    I so agree about clippings! The very act of clipping out the article grounded it somehow. Much different than bookmarking it online

    . And yes, we never know what we will need.
    Our brains work in astonishing ways, I always think. Congratulations, dear friend!

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  16. Sherry, somehow I've missed Chloe's adventures--I've always wanted to spend some time among the small towns along the panhandle--and now I can!

    What great memories of your friend Clare--I can see how the series itself is a tribute to your friendship. Off to find book #1!

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    1. Thanks, Flora! The panhandle is such a unique and beautiful area! I hope you enjoy the books!

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  17. Sherry, I keep hearing so much good buzz about this book! Congratulations.

    Random ghost ships is something I associate with Ye Olde Flying Dutchman, but it never occurred to me there would be any still roaming the oceans. Of course there are. And of course you must weave a story around such an intriguing event as an abandoned sailboat washing up on the beach. It's fertile ground for a mystery, for sure.

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  18. Thanks, Karen! When i was researching phantom boats, I was amazed me the number of recent stories.

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  19. I love how you took the story off the phantom boat and ran with it - I'm really looking forward to reading A Time to Swill. I'm wondering if the owner of Phantom of the Aqua (great play on Phantom of the Opera) knew he was tempting fate with that boat name?

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    1. That is a great question! It would be fun to ask him.

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  20. I'm always fascinated by the pictures on my Facebook feed of abandoned places and abandoned things and how nature is taking them over. What caused them to be abandoned? Sometimes it's horrible things like nuclear accidents and sometimes they're just abandoned for unknown reasons, like a city that's being over grown literally by plants - why was it abandoned? It's nice that you have such great memories of your friend and are still including her in your writing. As for my imagination going wild - lord, yes! There are times I just can't let go of a story.

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    1. I love seeing the old buildings or houses taken over by mother nature too. It's amazing how quickly nature reclaims areas!

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  21. I think it’s sweet that your friend continued helping you beyond her death.

    Many people think I have a wild imagination, and I’ve had to learn not to share my “what if” thoughts with some of them.They might get hurt rolling their eyes at me!

    I can’t wait to read the book.

    DebRo

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  22. LOL -- get hurt rolling their eyes at you!

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  23. I'm so sorry about the loss of your friend, Sherry, but it's wonderful that you have this ongoing connection. I absolutely love the phantom ship idea--what a terrific premise!

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    1. Thank you! It was really fun to use that idea.

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  24. The marvelous "what if?" So many stories have started with that phrase.

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  25. Sherry, “those we have loved and lost are no longer where they were before. They are wherever we are now.” Clare is clearly wherever you are now, each time your writing calls on her. Good wishes on the publication of this ghost ship book.
    (Apologies, but I don’t remember the source of the quote.)

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    1. What a wonderful quote! Thank you for sharing it!

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  26. Sherry, congratulations on the release of A TIME TO SWILL! I 100% follow the same sort of creative process as you do. Read an article/see something/hear someone's story, stretch it around like silly putty, and then start asking the "whys" and thinking up answers. It's one of the most delightful parts of the whole book-writing thing, and a lot easier than actually, you know, writing the book. At least for me...

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    1. Laughing -- oh that is so true. I love the silly putty analogy!

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  27. Oh, and my late mother used to clip and save newspaper stories from upstate NY for me for the same reason your friend Clare did for you. One of the clippings was a multi-day story about a bear (I am not making this up) that broke into someone's house and killed them. I remember reading the grisly tale and thinking, "I love it, but unless the bad guy trained the bear, it's not going to make a good mystery."

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  28. Congrats on the release! The first book was so interesting. Oh, yes, when you read an interesting story how can you help but wonder what if and trying to make the story go further. I'm sure the truth is usually far less wild than what my imagination makes up.

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    1. Thank you! I'm so glad you liked From Beer to Eternity!

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  29. My imagination runs wild all the time. When I read strange stories, driving alone in the countryside at night,even when I'm just taking a walk and looking at people's houses. This may be why I like mysteries. Your new book sounds very interesting.

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  30. Sherry, this is just a perfect premise. Clare really is the angel on your shoulder. I can not wait to read this book - I've spent time in the panhandle on St. George Island and absolutely love it.

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    1. St. George Island is so beautiful! My mom found an enormous shell there once. It's on her mantel.

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  31. I love this post and this story, Sherry! I actually teach a whole course in how to find real life source material and figure out a "take" on it, for my screenwriting students. Finding these stories which become kernels of something else altogether is one of my favorite things. And in this case, you've made it completely Chloe's own. I love this book.

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    1. Thank you! I'll bet your classes are fantastic!

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  32. So sorry for your loss. I'm not sure if my imagination runs wild when I'm reading a good story. I try to immerse myself in the book I'm currently reading.

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    1. Thank you! There is nothing better than getting immersed in a good book!

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  33. I love the way this story evolved! Thanks for sharing, Sherry.
    Got to ask: what patented thing did you invent?

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    1. Thanks, Hallie. The patent isn't for anything major -- a fashion accessory for sunglasses. They were born out of a shopping trip with my daughter. She was looking at two pairs of sunglasses trying to decide which pair to get -- brown or green leopard print. I said, "What if you could switch out the top to go with your mood?" We have three styles now and in a couple of weeks will add seven more. https://solvybe.com/

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  34. What a great legacy your friend Clare left! I'd love this series for so many reasons. I'm the only one in my family that was born in Florida, when my dad & some of his buddies from NOLA joined the navy and sent for their wives to join them. When I was a kid we vacationed often to FL,including Destin. I used to collect sea glass,(including old bottles)besides shells while beachcombing along the Gulf. Same as when dh & I visited the Virgin Islands. My imagination has always run wild! I also inherited my mother's love of clipping all kinds of newspaper articles, and we both loved true crime stories, including those on TV like Dateline. I would never name a boat the Phantom anything--too superstitious! I'm glad you answered Hallie's question, as I had the same one about your invention. Sounds cool,just like your series!

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    1. Thank you, Lynn! I have never seen a piece of sea glass in Destin! It's so cool that you did. I'm so glad you enjoy the series!

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  35. Very late checking in. I love your posts, and am glad there is a new Sea Glass Saloon to pick up and read. My imagination helped me though a lot of long car rides.. at one point I was making up stories about a girl who got stuck in a bathroom on the CT turnpike. Maybe some day the stories of Flixta will live again.

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