Sandy Giden is the winner of the ARC of From Beer to Eternity. Watch for an email from me!
This is probably the hardest post I’ve ever written. My dear friend Clare Boggs died unexpectedly in March 2019. I haven’t spoken about it publicly. It broke my heart and I miss her just as much now as I did the day I found out. It’s almost impossible to even write this post.
I met Clare when we moved to the panhandle of Florida in 2000. Our husbands had worked on a project together for the past several years. We lived in Ohio at the time and they lived in California. It was an odd quirk of fate that they moved to Florida not long before we did. Clare and I soon discovered a shared love of writing and movies. (Coincidentally, we both drove our parents’ Ramblers in high school.) We both signed up for the same writing class without knowing the other had. We had so much fun together.
After we moved in 2003, Clare and I stayed in touch. Each trip back to the panhandle included visits with Clare–a lunch out or movie or both or dinners with our husbands. If you look in the back of my Sarah Winston Garage Sale mysteries, Clare is mentioned in each one. The books are better because of her.
Clare was so excited when I told her about the new series and enthusiastically agreed to help me with my research—going to beach bars is such hard work, but Clare was up for the challenge. Over a few trips we stopped at different places – some we’d been to before, some Clare knew about, and some we found online.
We talked about Chloe, what her background was, where she should live, and what kind of car she should drive. And of course, what the bar should be like.
Here are some of the places we went:
This is the Red Bar in Grayton Beach, Florida. Sadly it burned down, but it’s just about ready to reopen!
When we parked to walk to the Red Bar we spotted this car, looked at each other, and said, “That’s what Chloe drives.” Chloe’s is red.
We decided that Chloe should live in one of the cement block houses that are disappearing from the area. Here are a couple of examples.
Then Clare took me to The Whale’s Tail. I’d been to the restaurant lots of times, never realizing there was a bar underneath. It closes at 9:00 pm. It became the inspiration for the Sea Glass Saloon.
Now, Clare is the angel on my shoulder. When I struggle with writing I think of her. Writing From Beer to Eternity without Clare was so hard, but she’s still helping me. When my editor asked for the synopsis for the second Chloe book, A Time to Swill, I was at a bit of a loss. Then I remembered that Clare had given me a file of articles from the local paper. I found one about a ghost ship (that’s what they call abandoned ships) that washed ashore in Destin. Then it was swept back out and ended up further down the beach. That article was the inspiration for the opening of A Time to Swill and for the plot.
Clare loved to golf and was a talented musician. She had the best smile and laugh. And a kind, generous heart.
Readers: Do you have an angel on your shoulder? I’ve giving away an ARC of From Beer to Eternity to one person who leaves a comment – in honor of Clare.