It all started with a few crummy years, a bazillion text messages, and a walk on the beach.
Come to Florida. You need a break.
I can’t tell you how many times Shirley texted me that amid our other chats before I gave it serious thought. Dozens, I’m sure. Once the forwarded Allegiant coupon offers and flight schedules started accompanying her texts, I finally caved.
And she was right, I’d needed a break. In all fairness, we both did. Each struggling to remember who we were and who we wanted to be post-divorce, the trip turned into three days of girl talk, walks along the beach, and, for me, getting a glimpse of what life was like in sunny FLA. It was amazing.
Somewhere along the way (halfway around the nature trail on Honeymoon Island, of all places) I joked that we needed to write a series together since she was a NYTBS and I was, well, still climbing the ladder. Instead of laugh and brush off the idea, Shirley did what her caring, giving self so often does—she shrugged and said, “Sure, let’s do this.” She reached out to Tule, then sent feelers out to a few authors she’d worked with before in one way or another. Soon we had an amazing, diverse group of romance authors assembled: Shirley Jump, Susan Meier, Priscilla Oliveras, and me.
(And yes, I might have run around squealing like a little girl when I got that email. Just saying…)
The four of us connected online, pitching ideas back and forth for the series, and soon the sleepy town of Paradise Key was born. Our goal was to create a continuity—four stories spinning off from one common event—based loosely on a mash-up of Beaches meets Sex and the City. We wanted friendship and family at the center, with satisfying HEAs discovered along the way. Emails ran rampant, and a master tracking document was created in an attempt to keep everything organized—not an easy task with four authors residing in three different states.
Add in that each of us were also working on other projects due before/during/after our Paradise Key books were, as well as other jobs and major life events, and things got a bit crazy at times. It’s not easy, keeping track of one work in progress, let alone two or three. But our encouraging attitudes and easy camaraderie helped us power through. Here are a few comments overheard at the water cooler these past few months:
“I hope no one will shoot me if I shift my idea….”
“We need one over-arching storyline that connects all the books…we had one but I forget, LOL.”
“Cold meds truly make it hard to think.”
“If it’s okay, can your character stay in another place?”
“Do we have a respected councilman?”
“I love making stuff up.”
“…who the heck is Lorelei?”
“Oh yes, writing is way easier than golf.”
“Holy crap you’re busy. I’m going to say a prayer for your sanity.”
And the most frequently asked question: “How did Lily die?”
It’s been such fun, getting a sneak peek into not only how everyone in our group plots, drafts, and polishes their manuscripts a little differently, but also into each of our daily lives. Like our characters, we each have our own unique story. At the end of the day, though, we’re four women working to keep our heads above water while making the most out of every day.
Women with our own struggles, our own joys and heartbreaks, just like everyone else. Lily’s death in our books didn’t just bring together Lauren, Jenna, Sofía and Evie; she brought Shirley, Susan, Pris and I together, too.
Friendship—that’s what brought this series together, and what leads our characters to find their sweet happily ever afters. We’re excited to share Paradise Key with you, and hope you’ll enjoy your stay in our sleepy beach town. I know we have.
To celebrate the arrival of the Paradise Key series, the authors have banded together to do a joint giveaway of this Vera Bradley bag along with a $25 Starbucks giftcard! To enter, use the widget below:
Kyra Jacobs is an extroverted introvert who writes of love, humor, and mystery in the Midwest and beyond. Her romance novels range from sweet contemporary to romantic suspense and paranormal/fantasy. No matter the setting, Kyra employs both comedy and chaos to help her characters find inspiration and/or redemption on their way to happily ever after.
When this Hoosier native isn’t pounding out scenes for her next book, she’s likely outside, elbow-deep in snapdragons or spending quality time with her sports-loving family. Kyra also loves to read, tries to golf, and is an avid college football fan.