Today I am so pleased to welcome Shae Connor to Joyfully Jay. Shae is here for our last stop in the Beach Read Bonanza. She is also chatting with us about her release, Sand & Water. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
I’m not much of a beach bunny. Salt water in my eyes, sand in unmentionable places, relentless heat, a lifetime of sunburns—spending time on the beach, especially in the summer, is never going be my favorite thing.
That doesn’t mean I don’t want to go to the beach, though. I love to listen to the waves crashing on the shore. I love the smell of salt in the air. I love collecting sand dollars along the surf. Mostly, though, I’m content to sit near the water and watch, rather than wading in.
My mom has always been a big beach fan. She’s not a swimmer, but she loves the ocean, and she loved walking on the beach until mobility became an issue. My sister takes after Mom, except she loves the swimming part, too. Give her a beach and a boogie board, and she’s set for hours. (It helps that she tans instead of burning.)
Me, I’m back on the balcony overlooking the beach, or ensconced in a chair under an umbrella. And yes, I’ve usually got a book in my hands.
I grew up going to beaches along the Gulf Coast and Georgia’s Gold Coast. When we lived in southwest Georgia, a family friend had access to a cabin in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, so we spent a lot of time there and at nearby Destin. Then we moved farther east, and the Golden Isles of Jekyll and St. Simons Islands were much closer to visit. We made a couple of trips as far as Tybee Island and some farther south, to Jacksonville Beach and St. Augustine.
(I got the worst sunburn of my life at Jacksonville Beach my senior year of high school. Bad enough to land me in an urgent care center with heat exhaustion and keep me home from school for a few days. The remnants of the scars on my back have only faded in the past few years.)
It was trips to Tybee that I drew from the most when I started writing my first novel, Sand & Water. The story is set mostly on the island, which is twenty minutes from Savannah, hanging into the ocean off the very eastern edge of the state. I last visited in about 2006, when my sister was living in a small town a couple of hours inland. We took a long weekend and went to both Savannah and Tybee, mixing walks along River Street with a stroll down the beach and a seafood lunch at Sting Ray’s.
The biggest takeaway for the book was the pace of the island. Things move a little slower in the South anyway, so when you combine that with the relaxed atmosphere of a little beach town, it’s all molasses and lazy smiles. John and Bryan are far from the fast track of life, and the way their relationship develops reflects that.
One of my souvenirs from that last Tybee trip was a set of pictures I took with my nothing-special digital camera, several of the beach and a few of the pier that extends out into the water. Two of those images ended up as part of the gorgeous cover Reese Dante designed for Sand & Water. I loved the feeling of being able to contribute more than just the words to the story.
This summer, there won’t be any beach trips for me. Even if I was a regular visitor, my schedule is too jam-packed already to fit anything in. But maybe I’ll find a pool and a chair and an umbrella and make the most of it. Maybe I’ll even give Sand & Water a re-read and enjoy a visit with some old friends.
Widower John McConnell gets along fine raising his daughter on Georgia’s Tybee Island, though he wouldn’t exactly say he’s happy. Haunted by the memory of his dead wife, John hasn’t considered dating again until he meets Bryan Simmons in the park. It isn’t long before John realizes that what he feels for Bryan could be something real, but how will he know he’s ready to move on?
As John soon discovers, Bryan carries some heavy emotional baggage of his own. With John’s help, Bryan starts to put his demons to rest, and together they lay the foundation for a relationship. It looks like they might finally leave their tragedies behind them—until John takes a misstep that could turn a magical night together into their last.
Shae Connor lives in Atlanta, where she’s a lackadaisical government worker for a living and writes sweet-hot romance under the cover of night. She’s been making things up for as long as she can remember, but it took her a long time to figure out that maybe she should try writing them down. A member of the Romance Writers of America and the Rainbow Romance Writers chapter, Shae was first published in 2010. Her third novel, Wayward Son, was released May 11, 2015, by Dreamspinner Press.
Shae is part Jersey, part Irish, and all Southern, which explains why she never shuts up. When she’s not chained to her laptop, she enjoys cooking, traveling, watching baseball, and reading voraciously. You can find her hanging out on Twitter most any time @shaeconnor, but for the more direct route, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at shaeconnorwrites.com.
This is the last post in our Beach Read Bonanza. You can enter here to win the big beach bag full of goodies, including the kindle! Just leave a comment here, or at any of our Beach Read posts in June.
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