BAREFOOT IN THE SAND — out today!!! Start of a new contemporary series!!! RT gave it a 4.5!!! Publisher priced it at lovely $5.99!!! Read it and be happy ever after!!!
Oh, I could go on and on and really turn this into a promo blog, with review quotes and pleas for purchase and more exclamation points than ought to be legal. But I’ve been around here too long for that. In the spirit of what makes Murder She Writes such a special place, I’d like to share with you the answer to that one question we writers get so damn sick of hearing: “Where do you get your ideas?” Because this time, I actually have an answer.
In the opening scene of my new book, a hurricane rips through the inlet of Barefoot Bay and tears down a fifty year old beachfront house and strips away all the lush foliage of the Gulf Coast island known as Mimosa Key. The heroine and her daughter survive by holing up in a bathtub under a mattress. The scene, I’m sorry to say, took very little imagination for me to write. I’ve been there. On August 24, 1992, one of the worst hurricanes in the history of this country slammed into Dade County, Florida, and changed hundreds of thousands of lives. Mine was one of them.
That day, I was exactly one month pregnant with a baby that had taken four years and a quadrillion deals with God to conceive, so we decided to head just eight miles north to my sister’s house when Hurricane Andrew approached Miami. Despite the fact that the forecasters predicted the storm would turn before making landfall, we worried that our proximity to the coastline made the house vulnerable, and that our east-facing double front doors might buckle with the wind. We braced the doors with the living room sofa (and by we, I mean my husband; I basically stood around and acted hormonal), then we left. Hurricane Andrew was a tight, dry storm, and my sister’s house sustained little damage that night, though freight-train winds ripped her patio screen and took down some beloved trees.
We headed home the next morning and with each passing mile, it was clear that the southern section of Miami had taken the brunt of the 153 mph winds. We sure hoped our sofa held the doors closed.
We still laugh about that because, well, we never did find that sofa.
When we arrived at what we thought was our street — all the trees were uprooted or stripped bare and not a single street sign survived — all we could do was stare. The sofa was long gone (but our neighbor’s love seat was in our driveway!) along with our doors, every window, all the roof tiles, the garage doors, and just about everything we’d ever owned. Everything.
Inside, all the ceilings had collapsed, leaving snow drifts of insulation. My beautiful home was covered in mud, drywall, and broken glass. Every remaining wall was green from the chlorophyll in the leaves that had blown around during what had to have been mini-tornadoes in the house. (I’d love to show you a picture, but this was pre-digital and we gave every picture to the insurance company. This book cover from The Miami Herald’s photo essays is a fairly good image of our neighborhood, which was in the path of the storm’s northern eye wall.)
I’ll never forget how I stood in the midst of that wreckage and started to cry. I shook, in shock, barely able to process the sight of my rain-soaked wedding album and shattered bits of my precious Waterford crystal.
Everything we had was gone.
Then my husband gripped my shoulders, gave me a stern shake and shut me up with two words: The baby. The baby. (Oh, I think he might have said “Oh f***!” when he saw what used to be his Porsche in what used to be the garage.)
Of course, he was right. The baby was all that mattered and he was safe and sound in my tummy. (As you know, we did NOT name him Andrew.) Stuff doesn’t matter. It’s the people left behind — and how they rebuild their lives — that is the legacy of a disaster.
So, when I needed the catalyst to set Lacey Armstrong’s story in motion and start the Barefoot Bay series, the lessons I learned from surviving and rebuilding after a hurricane were still fresh in my heart, even almost two decades later. It wasn’t hard to imagine riding out that storm in a bathtub; I had many friends and neighbors who did just that. It wasn’t impossible to put myself in Lacey’s shoes the next day, digging for optimism in a mountain of rubble.
But I also had twenty years of perspective and knew that no matter what nature threw at Lacey, she could come out the winner. Barefoot In The Sand is the story of second chances and, of course, true love. Because there is a certain younger, sexy architect who shows up to help Lacey rebuild…and he’s as good at taking down emotional walls as he is at building new ones. (That so didn’t happen to me, but, for the record, our builder was really, really cute. I almost *did* name Dante after him, LOL! Valentino Sanchez. Sigh.)
With the “hometown” (for me) Florida beach setting, the hurricane opener, and the girlfriends from college who remind me so much of my own dorm buddies, the Barefoot Bay quadrilogy is close to my heart. And, you might notice, it’s a departure from romantic suspense…which brings me to my moment of bittersweet news. Speaking of departures…
Regulars here know that I have been at this blog every other Tuesday for three and a half years. It’s been an amazing, wonderful, delightful opportunity to share my writing life and my personal insights with so many special friends in this community. I’ve had the chance to meet dozens of our regulars, and have forged real friendships with many of you. And don’t even start me on my nine fellow bloggers. These talented, warm, funny, and generous women have become like treasured family and I love them like I love my own sisters.
However, I have some very daunting deadlines stacking up in the next year. I don’t see a lot of breathing space in 2012, and that means I’ve had to make some very difficult choices. Sadly, I’ve decided to stop blogging and use the hours to write more Barefoot books and another YA. (And let’s not forget Gabe still needs a book — not like my readers would let me!) So, my dear, dear friends, this is my last regular blog at Murder She Writes. I have no doubt my fabulous MSW sisters are cooking up a riveting replacement, most likely a person truly writing “murder” in her books.
To celebrate my three and a half remarkable years and the release of BAREFOOT IN THE SAND, I’ll be giving away FOUR copies of my new book today! Leave a comment about any disaster you’ve overcome (natural or otherwise) or just pop in to say goodbye. But don’t you dare make me cry!
Thank you for every comment, every click, every chance to share my writer’s life here at Murder She Writes. I love you all!!