After publishing my last post, I realized it was all disgustingly “me-me-me.” Anyone would think I made that ten-year journey all alone.
So now it’s time to thank all the people who helped me along the way. If I miss your name, please believe I have not forgotten you in my heart, only in my aging brain.
My parents made me who I am: My father, James Henry Bolger, contributed the love of words and literature and the introverted temperament that many writers share, while my mother, Charlotte Ann Skinner, gave me compassion, insight into other people, and emotional honesty. Neither of them lived to see me progress with writing, but they would have been proud of me if they had.
My dear husband John has supported me all along the way, even when my writing was inconvenient and occasionally downright painful for him. My four children have been, at various times and in various degrees, readers, critiquers, practical helpers, and my cheering section—not to mention putting up with a lot of slapdash dinners and poor housekeeping.
My sister, Anne Bolger Ramirez, has been a reader, fan, and encourager all along the way. She also was a key factor in my surviving my childhood and adolescence, and in my return to the fold of the faith.
And my parish family (since I came out of the writing closet) has been wonderfully encouraging and supportive as well.
Beta Readers and Experts
When I first started writing, I kept it very close to my chest. Even my father, who was living with us at the time, didn’t know I was working on a novel until I was well into revisions. But I had two friends that I trusted with my secret early on: Susan Shisler and Fr. Ignatius Dodgen. Both have been readers, fans, prayer warriors, and tireless encouragers all along the way.
Charise Olson, whom I met at the first writers’ conference I attended and immediately clicked with, has been my critique partner, writing buddy, and cherished friend since 2005. She’s kept me going when I wanted to quit, more than once. We’ve shared innumerable good laughs, lots of grumbles, a few tears, and some terrific writing ideas.
Molly King and Mark Roberts read The Vestibule of Heaven and offered expertise about the remodeling process from both sides—Mark was remodeling Molly’s house at the time. Both are cherished friends.
Gail Shepherd was my critique partner for The Dome-Singer of Falenda and helped me navigate the unfamiliar waters of YA fantasy.
Jane G. Meyer has read several of my manuscripts and has always been very helpful and encouraging.
I’ve attended several workshops with excellent teachers, each of whom has taught me something invaluable. These teachers include Gayle Roper, Bret Lott, Karen Shepard, Davis Bunn, Angela Hunt, and Laura Rennert, as well as countless people I’ve heard speak briefly here and there. Liz Curtis Higgs was the keynote speaker at Mount Hermon 2005 and a fabulous inspiration to me. Anne Lamott’s hilarious and seriously awesome writing manual Bird by Bird helped me get started, and I never could have made my way through my first mystery without the written instruction of Hallie Ephron in Writing and Selling a Mystery Novel.
Conference and Writers’ Group Buddies
At each conference, workshop, or retreat I’ve attended, I’ve connected with people who have stayed with me for a short or long time afterwards. I’ve also been privileged to be a member of several writing groups that have helped me immensely.
- From Mount Hermon 2005, Carrie Padgett, D’Ann (Anne) Mateer, Richard Mabry, and Christine Kohler have remained steadfast friends. D’Ann, along with Diana Urban, helped me through a revision of The Former Desolations, and Carrie critiqued Arsenic with Austen. Christine has offered good advice about writing for the YA market, and Richard provided valuable medical expertise for The Ghostwriter.
- My annual retreat at Rockaway Beach, Oregon, has cemented friendships with an amazing group of writers, all of whom have suffered through my evening readings of raw material and offered great advice: Jan Bear, Gloria Smith, Bev. Cooke, Katherine and Andrew Bond, Fr. Lawrence and Donna Farley, Heather McKean, and Barbara Eng. Gloria and Bev. have read and critiqued whole manuscripts for me, while Donna offered excellent suggestions for my very first submission to an agent. Andrew helped out with his first-hand experience in an architect’s office for The Former Desolations; Gloria’s EMT training contributed to The Ghostwriter; and Bev.’s many years of cat ownership helped me sort out the cats in Arsenic with Austen. All have rooted for me every step of the way.
- For a number of years now, I’ve been meeting with a lovely group of ladies for lunch once a month. Susanne (C. S.) Lakin started the group (and also gave me a valuable critique of The Vestibule of Heaven); Karen O’Connor is our resident wise woman, a great inspiration and enthusiastic supporter to me. Carol Loewen, Sherry Kyle, Sherry Van Zante, Terra Hangen, Laura Bennet, Lisa Hamil, Kaycee Beames, Maria Lindsay, Columba Lisa Smith, and Sue Gollbach have all mourned with me over setbacks and rejoiced with me over victories along this rocky road.
- For two years I served as treasurer for the Golden Gate chapter of ACFW, where I made a number of treasured writer friends: Susan Mitchell, Marcy Weydemuller, Jenni Brummett, Sarah Sundin, Shelley Bates, and more.
Agents and Editors
Steve Stanton, then editor of Dreams & Visions, published my first short story, “A Tree Falls in the Forest.”
The good people at Ancient Faith Publishing produced my picture book, Lucia, Saint of Light, and have been wonderful, supportive colleagues for many years.
My first agent, Diana Flegal, believed in my work and made a valiant effort to sell it in the Christian market, which ultimately proved not to be where I belonged.
My current agent, Kimberley Cameron, spotted my potential from an idea and a single scene and has been gung-ho on my side ever since.
I’ve only just begun to work with Marcia Markland and her assistant, Quressa Robinson, but I look forward to a long and happy association.
A number of other agents and editors I’ve submitted to or met with have offered helpful suggestions and encouragement, even though the relationship didn’t work out in the long run.
And Everyone I Forgot to Mention
This has been a long list, but I’m sure I’ve left out people who ought to have been included. No writer is an island. We all need a lot of support, and I have been very blessed to have it in abundance. Many thanks to all of you, with all my love! I couldn’t have gotten this far without you.
And our journey together is just beginning!