Chicago had it exactly right.
One of my goals as an author this year was using this gorgeous website, posting daily in the various categories and keeping everything updated. And for quite a long time, I was good about it. Having the categories to keep me on the straight and narrow really helped.
And then June came.
June meant finishing writing The Plan. Gearing up for the release of the box set. Working on book-related business, including Indie BookFest, and attending two book events. Whew!
I’m happy to say that I’m back, but I’m also glad I gave myself that break when things got crazy.
But enough about that. Today I want to share with you a little about the thin and hazy line between real life and fiction.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you might remember that The Posse was my first non-YA, non-paranormal novel. I never intended to write it; once I’d finished with The King Series, I fully intended to write Rafe’s book and then Nell’s. Contemporary romance was never part of the plan. Then one day, I was driving home from New Smyrna Beach, a small beach town on Florida’s east coast. We’d just begun going there, since we’d moved over to the east side of the greater Orlando area; prior to that, most of our beaching had been done on the Gulf coast. But after a few visits to NSB, I fell in love with the quaint little town. It felt very much like home.
On this day, I hadn’t been thinking about books or stories, but something must’ve been lurking in the back of my head, because as I drove home, most of the plot for The Posse fell into my lap. I knew Jude’s name. I knew her late husband’s name. I knew how many kids she had, all about her friends . . . and about her family restaurant. Suddenly, it seemed, I was writing a contemporary romance novel for adults, since there was nary a paranormal element and the leads were most definitely grown-up.
I returned to NSB often during the process of writing The Posse, and slowly parts of the town made it into the story. One was a sweet B & B that was being rebuilt and restored. In the book, this bed and breakfast was the last planned project for Jude’s late husband Daniel and his best friend Logan. Jude’s involved in the final stages and the opening of the Hawthorne House during the course of the story.
For the last two years, I’ve walked past the Hawthorne House–or the Inn on the Avenue, as it’s known in so-called real life–watching its growth and evolution. We stay in NSB fairly frequently, but it never worked out to stay at the B & B until last night.
As I type this post, I’m actually still in bed in the beautiful Starfish Room at the Inn. It’s a lovely spot, welcoming and friendly, and I’m thrilled that we actually were able to do this. But I’d be lying if I said there hadn’t been a surreal aspect to being here.
As a writer, my characters are very real to me. I can tell you all about the house where Tasmyn Vaughn lived in King. I can describe the dorm where Julia and Ava lived at Birch College. I could walk you all around the Reynolds’ family farm in Burton, Georgia. And I’ve definitely pictured The Hawthorne House Bed and Breakfast in Crystal Cove. So walking into the Inn on the Avenue, my brain was reeling, trying to reconcile how I’d seen the house with reality. To be honest, it wasn’t really that different. There are a few minor changes, sure, but overall . . . being here as been oddly like stepping into one of my make-believe worlds.
I half-expect to see Abby come around the corner and ask me if I like my room. Maybe Emmy will stop in to deliver some pies or breakfast pastries. Jude could pop over from the Tide to say hello before Logan comes in to pick her up. And there are a few other characters you’ll meet or get to know better during The Path who might wander in.
Will some of the ‘real’ Inn and New Smyrna creep into the Crystal Cove romances a little more? Perhaps. But in most ways, Crystal Cove will continue to be its own lovely, enchanted spot, a place where families grow and men and women live and love.
And that’s this author’s life today.