Big thanks to Tammy Palmer Crawford who has kept this story afloat (and kept me afloat, too, from as far back as I can remember). I love you bunches! And to LP’ers Anjel & Stan Cain of Carter’s Grocery, Nicole & Mike Green, Stephen Paul Howze, Kay Palmer, the entire Aydell Family & the Walker Museum, the incredible Myra Streeter, and everyone who ever brought me fishing, frogging, crawfishing, skiing, boating, hiking, exploring, or “to da camp”—Thank you!
I also thank the congregations of both Walker Baptist and Judson Baptist Church where I built a foundation of faith. Thanks especially to Betty Marsh who modeled compassion, generosity, and selfless devotion. And to the teachers of the Walker public schools, particularly Linda Purcell. Here’s to every teacher who ever tells a student, “Yes, you can!” You save souls.
Thanks to my husband of twenty years, Charles, who first introduced himself to me at Walker High School when I was thirteen years old. And to our children, Emily and Adam, whose spirits and spunk bring more joy, love, and laughter to my life than I could ever measure. THREE!
Speaking of moms, I have the best. Cindy Perkins has championed every effort I ever dared to launch and instilled in me a faith that has helped me weather many storms. Thanks also to Mike, Cora, Joshua, and Jessica Perkins. Josh, you rock. And Jessie, you roll. Glad to call you mine.
To my New Orleans friends, Christa Allan and Marci Glascock Lichtl, who gave me tours and tips and all kinds of fabulous. Much love. Also to Stephen Lukinovich who stood at the cathedral at 1:00 sharp so I could describe the chimes. See? Good guys DO still exist. Thank you, Stephen!
Thanks to Taylor Bellard who helped me research the offshore oil rigs. And to our OGH gang (Paula, Pinky, Tammy, Vickie) for offering the kind of friendships that never expire. Hugs to all.
Hugs to Kenny Carter, snake whisperer and all-around sweetheart; David Carter, master of the universe who has all the answers I ever need; and Craig Carter who is too cool for school, plus he helped me with tons of Hurricane Katrina details. As Granny would say, you’re my favorite.
I’m in debt to each of you who answered my never-ending questions, especially Glenda & Jimmy Bell; Judy & Billy Kaufman; Mary & Mike Nola; Brenda Pepitone; the folks at the Livingston Parish Public Library & the East Baton Rouge Parish Regional Library (Jones Creek Branch); The Livingston Parish News; The Advocate; Rick Wentzel & the Livingston Parish School Board; Austin Flowers and Don’s Seafood; Kay Landry & the Rotary Club of Livingston Parish; Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World, St. Louis Cathedral, Algiers Point/Canal Street Ferry & Café du Monde; and the compassionate folks at the Baton Rouge Crisis Intervention Center.
For the women of the Holy Yoga Journey to Freedom Retreat, thank you for cheering me across the finish line and for helping me understand why I was led to write about such dark themes. For your strength, courage, beauty, and brilliance, I thank you: Amber, Brigid, Catherine, Jane, Joy, Julie, Kaci, Kristi, Laura, Laurie, Lorraine, Lucinda, Mandy, Rachel, Stacy, Tiffany, Wendy, and NICOLE (my soul sister). GIRL POWER!
To Ashely Tesar and all the wonderful people of Still Creek Ranch, thank you for all you do to “Restore Her.” And to the generous women of College Station’s Busy Moms Bookclub, specifically Kelli Backstrom, Ginny Brown, Gay Craig, and Brenda Rogers. Thank you (and my super-cool cousin, Stacy Herron). Y’all make it oh-so-hard for me to leave Texas.
Thanks to Anny Donewald of Eve’s Angels for fighting the good fight. You are proof that light defeats darkness. Shine on! Thanks to Prof. Richard Campanella, author, geographer, and lecturer with the Tulane School of Architecture—what a brilliant man! And to Dr. J. V. Remsen, professor of natural science and curator of birds with the LSU Museum of Natural Science. Thanks for your guidance and for keeping your eye on the birds.
Thanks to my agent, Greg Johnson, who has shepherded me through this adventure from the start. And to my early readers: Christa Allan, Kerri Greene, Carol Langendoen, Michael Morris, Larry Wells, and Lisa Wingate. Thank you for loving me enough to let me torture you to bits. And to Mary Ann Bowen, the world needs more people like you, but you are one-of-a-kind. How blessed I am to know you.
To my publisher, Daisy Hutton. I’m still not sure how I got lucky enough to be counted among your magical tribe, but I am loving every minute of it. Thanks to my editors, Amanda Bostic, Jodi Hughes, and LB Norton who nudged this fledgling from the nest. If it soars, it’s because of you. Anything less is on me. To everyone at TNZ Fiction, for delivering this story to readers. And to the readers, for daring to enter Amanda’s world.
A great big heaping helping of gratitude, that’s what I offer all of you. Bon Appétit!