The Angel On My Shoulder

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.

Clare’s car that she drove on our adventures.

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.

107 Thoughts

  1. Sherry, I am so very sorry about the loss of Clare. She sounds like a wonderful person and a perfect friend. A beach bar buddy! I wish I could hug you, pour a glass of wine, and listen to endless tales about her.

    The angel on my shoulder might be my late father, who died in his early sixties – way too young.. He was always reading, and he could write brilliantly. I know how very proud he would be of my modest successes as an author..

  2. If I had to say if I had an angel on my shoulder it would be my Mom. She didn’t drive and my Dad worked for the fire dept 24 hours on/off. She would call be up and say let’s go to the Dairy Queen or do this and that. She was also and avid reader. Cancer took her away from us 9 years ago on the 7th of this month. I still want to pick up the phone and call her. I’m so sorry about your friend Clare. pgenest57(at)aol(dot)com

  3. What a lovely and heartfelt tribute to your friend, Sherry.

  4. Sherry, this was a great tribute to your friend Clare and it is great that you had someone like that in your life.

    I don’t particularly believe that I have angels on my shoulder (or in my life) but the closest I’d come is probably my parents. But I think that is more do to the foundation and support they gave me in life as opposed to a more strict adherence to the kind of thing you are talking about with you and Clare.

    I am eagerly awaiting the chance to read this first book in your new series!

      1. My love of reading definitely came from my parents. My dad read pretty much everything from technical manuals and cookbooks to Tom Clancy and Archer Mayor. My mom also did a lot of reading. She liked books on the Kennedy family, romance novels and some mysteries too.

  5. I don’t know if I have one, but I like to think my great-uncle, who I never knew but my mom swore we shared some distinctive habits, probably laughed every time I did that.

  6. I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s lovely that you had such a partner, a true sister in crime-writing. Thank you for sharing. Take care.

  7. I’m very sorry about the loss of your friend, but I’m glad you have such great memories of the things you did together. That is what gets us by. My angel would have to be my Gran, my mom’s mom. There is probably not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her, and she has been gone for over 22 years now. I see her everywhere in my house. Her and my grandpa owned Eldon Valley Antiques here, but I have to say that it was more of a combination store, antiques, flea market type stuff, and furniture. She gave all the granddaughters hope chests when they were young, mine stored books of course, and now makes a great coffee table, with books still in it! She also gave all the grandkids an antique kitchen table and chairs when they got married. I have so many little pieces of antique glassware and kitchen paraphernalia sitting around that were presents from her that it is no wonder that I think of her every day as I look around my house. I find it very comforting as I remember what we were doing and talking about when she gave me each piece.

      1. It was a fun store. I remember playing with this pair of opera glasses that had mother of pearl inlay on them that were in a display case for several months. I was so sad when they sold, I had thought they were so pretty. I was lucky than my Gran let me touch and hold whatever I wanted to. She always told me what it was, where it came from, how old it was, etc. I loved it when she told me stories about things. I’m sure that is why I love collecting things now.

  8. So very sorry for your loss. To lose a loved one has to be one of the greatest trials in our life. Personally, I found that to give in to the sorrow did disservice to the loved one. To move forward remembering them for the love we shared and the fun times we had not only did me a world of good but paid honor to the loved one.

    The angel on my shoulder is our daughter, Jenet. She was our only child – definitely wanted, much loved and greatly missed. Although she would have just turned 49, she will always be 17 in our hearts. She’s with me every day as I remember little things she did or said or a fun time we shared or even the rough times struggling at times through the teen years. Although they have moved on earlier than we would have wished, they will always be in our hearts.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  9. So sorry for your loss, Sherry. Clare sounds like she was an incredible person, and this is a lovely tribute to her.

  10. I’m so sorry the loss of your friend. Your tribute to Claire is beautiful. I have three angels on my shoulders — my dad, my mom, and my sister. The values my parents taught me still guide my life. My sister was my best friend!

  11. You made me want to tag along on your research trips. What a loss. I too have friends who names appear in most, if not all, of my books. I am lucky that they are still with me. Time to thank them once again. Thanks for reminding me.

  12. I’m sorry for your loss, Sherry, and such a loss. Such a wonderful friendship. How lucky you are to have had a close and interesting friendship like this. And how lucky that, because you’re you, you can commemorate and share so many happy experiences with her in your books, so she lives on.

  13. What a beautiful tribute to a dear friend. Friends/sisters like that only come through our lives infrequently, but they leave their presence forever.

  14. What a beautiful tribute to a dear friend. Friends/sisters like that only come through our lives infrequently, but they leave their presence forever. May her memory be a blessing.

  15. Thanks so much for sharing this with us, Sherry. Friends like Clare are more precious than all the money in the world. And I’m so happy she’s still with you, right there on your shoulder.

  16. You have Claire and I have Pat and Dee and Nancy. Like you, I was a military wife and that meant making new friends (or seeing old friends) every 3 years. I met Pat in Germany and we did just about everything together for 3 years. She babysat for me and we celebrated our birthdays together since we were only 5 days apart. After we came back to the States, we still saw each other when we could and went on vacation together. She died a few years ago, and I still reach for the phone. My other friend from Germany, Nancy, was just as close. We also stayed in touch and saw each other as much as possible until she died of cancer. Dee was my best friend in Guam, we walked together in the morning and talked about everything under the sun, and I trusted her with my kids when my husband and I went to China. When we got back to the States, we didn’t see Dee again but we wrote and talked and stayed in touch. She also died of cancer. When I am feeling lonely or sad, I think of them and “talk” to them in my head. They will always be a part of me, as Claire will always be a part of you.

  17. I’m so sorry Sherry. It’s so tough to lose someone like that that you just click with. My angels are my grandparents. My Grammie died in 1994 and my Grampi in 2003. Don’t tell my sister or my cousins, but I was their favorite 🙂 My grandpa and I were huge Chicago Bulls fans, in the era of Michael Jordan, and we would call each other after the games. I miss them every single day.

  18. What a lovely tribute to Clare. I am glad that you had such a strong friendship and that Clare still inspires you after she is gone, Sherry.

    My mom would be my angel. She died suddenly in 2003 from a brain aneurysm and that loss devastated me for a long time. My mom gave me the love of reading and she also encouraged my love of solo travel and supported me in my decision to go to university, despite my father’s disapproval.

    Do NOT include me in your drawing for the ARC. I already have a Netgalley copy that I am looking forward to reading this month.

  19. Sorry for your loss. If I have an angel it’d be my older brother who died about five years ago.

  20. Sherry, I know how much you loved her. I can’t help but think that she’s going to cheering you on as you write this series. And inspiring you. I believe in angels, and do feel that Grandma, my mother’s mother, is part of my life reminding me of how much I’m loved. As are you.

  21. So sorry for your loss. I believe my mother is the angel on my shoulder. She was my strength (of course I didn’t figure that out until I was an adult). I hear her “cliche’s” where ever I go. It’s nice to know she’s still there.

  22. What a beautiful tribute, Sherry. It’s so hard to lose a friend. Sending hugs!

  23. Sherry, I’m so sorry for the loss of your dear friend Clare. ❤️
    My angel would be forever a young girl who’s name is Ja’Lynn. She made the choice to become a Organ Donor . Sadly she passed away in March of 2018. She saved my son with her gift of life , who needed a double lung transplant. I struggle with the loss and heartache this family has
    had to endure. How do you tell a family you are so sorry for their loss and so thankful for the wonderful gift their daughter has given to save my son’s life ?
    I pray we can meet this wonderful family one day.

  24. What a beautiful tribute to your friend. I’m sure she is looking down at you and smiling. I don’t have an angel on my shoulder, but I’ve had dreams where deceased people (family or friends) have come to me to check on me or my family.

  25. Thank you for sharing such lovely memories of your friend. Hugs to you, Sherry.

    My angel would be my mom. I miss her and sometimes like to think of her as watching over me.

  26. My angel is my dad who is best summed up with this quote “Don’t let the bastards grind you down “

  27. I have not heard of this series before. I will be looking it up! My late husband is my Angel on my shoulder. I lost him to cancer in 2008. He was only 44. I still miss him so much.

  28. I’m so sorry for the loss of your dear friend. I’m glad you brought yourself to talk about it to all of us. It keeps her memory alive in many more people.

    I have a lot of angels in the my life, but the first person who came to mind is a friend in Peru. I didn’t learn of his death for a year after it happened. I was devastated. It’s been three years now and I still think of him often. He took the time to show me the real Peru: grocery stores, little restaurants, etc., and explained so many things to me. He was the essence of what a good friend should be.

  29. Great tribute. I lost my grandma and a baby the same day in 1999, my mom in 2009 I had to bury her on my birthday and then my grandpa in 2013. I spent more time with my grandparents than my mom growing up but they all hit me hard and have never left me. I knew the night I lost grandma and baby they went together and when our son was waiting for the birth of his son he swears to me that he felt my moms hand on his shoulder and heard her say “he’s beautiful”. So yes I know we have angels watching over us.

  30. Sherry, you have my deepest sympathy on the passing of your dear friend. I do believe I have an angel on my shoulder…two in fact. One a guardian angel assigned to me by God and the other…my mom. She passed away Christmas 2017. She was my best friend. If I had only listened to her advice through out my life…I would have saved myself a lot of heartache and pain. So now, I try to listen carefully when I can sense her trying to tell me something. I just and remember my mother’s sayings and how she would handle difficulties and stress. Thank you for the chance to win this first book from what I am sure will be a GREAT series! LOVE your Sarah Winston series!

  31. What a meaningful post, Sherry. I’m sure you shed many tears while you were writing it. You know that I loved this book and was so fortunate to be able to read and review it. I, too, have a Claire — a high school classmate and a dear friend who passed on several years ago after fighting brain cancer for years. I actually had a dream about her right before she died which was so real that, to this day, I can’t swear that it didn’t actually happen. She has a twin sister, Pat, who’d had these occurrences too. As a tribute to her, one of my central characters is named Claire.

  32. Sherry, I’m so sorry about Clare. I definitely have a couple angels as well and it is so comforting. Big hugs to you ❤️

  33. This is such a lovely portrait of your friend and your friendship. Thank you for choosing to share it with us. Yes, I did had that person too. Marilyn Wallace. She was not a longtime friend, but someone who came into my writing life by accident and turned out to be exactly the friend I needed at that moment. I hope I was to her. I’d published two books years earlier, and was just dipping my toe in the idea of writing again. She had published some suspense novels and edited some of the first all women mystery anthologies, moved back to NY from CA, and wanted to move in a new direction. We lost her just before the 2nd book in her new series came out. The first book in my new series is dedicated to her – I borrowed the words from EB White. She deserved the best.

  34. So sorry to hear about Claire, those unexpected deaths are the hardest. I can relate, I lost a good friend 9 years ago tomorrow. I think Claire will live through your new series which I’m sure she would love!

  35. I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend. She sounds wonderful. You sure have some wonderful memories 😊

  36. Oh Sherry, I’m so sorry. I agree with Sue above. Unexpected deaths really are the hardest. Sending you love. And your wonderful series is a beautiful tribute to your friendship.

  37. I had a childhood friend who is just like that. We lost contact when I moved away but she and I did everything together. I caught up with her a couple times over the years and then lost touch. Two years ago I went looking for her on Facebook and it in finder and then typed in her name on Google. Her obit popped up. I am still heartbroken over that because my heart still belongs with the memories I had a childhood friend who was just like that. We lost contact when I moved away but she and I did everything together. I caught up with her a couple times over the years and then lost touch. Two years ago I went looking for her on Facebook and didn’t find her and then typed in her name on Google. Her obit popped up. She passed 5 years before. I am still heartbroken over that because my heart still belongs with the memories we shared.

  38. What a lovely tribute to Claire. She was such a good friend to me as well. I think of her often, but I know that she is with me. You said what is in my heart.

  39. Let me start by saying I don’t want to be part of the drawing. I already have the book.

    My heart breaks for your loss, but it sounds like you have wonderful memories with Clare and I truly hope they give you comfort. Our memories are so very precious after the loss of someone we loved.

    I’d have to say the angel on my shoulder is my dad. He passed away in January 2018. I miss him so much, but I am so grateful for the lessons he taught me. I’m the woman I am today because of his love and support.

  40. I am so sorry that you lost your wonderful friend. Death is really…awful. It is so permanent. The angel on my shoulder is my beloved ex-husband and the father of my son who passed away on November 29, 2018. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him many times. I’m yappy, when he spoke, it always meant something. He didn’t talk as much as me but he was our rock in so many ways. And I’d known him for 35 years. He was one of my best friends. I never imagined life without him, until I had to. Some days it hurts more than others. Time has helped…but I don’t think I’ll ever *not* miss him. I completely understand how you feel about Clare. Hugs to you!!! <3

  41. This was a great tribute to your friend! I have a few angels my Mom, Dad, Brother, Uncle, Aunt, and a few fur babies! I love your books and I’m looking forward to reading this new one! Thank you for sharing your beautiful memories of your friend!

  42. I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend. I have an angel on each shoulder—my mom died at age 45 in 1979 when I was 18. And I lost one of my sisters in 2011 when she was only 54. I still tear up over both.

  43. I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s really hard to loose someone you care about. I lost my best friend and soul sister almost 15 years ago now. I still miss her everyday. I can hear her telling me what to do, when to run, when to fight and when to let it go. They never really leave, you just can’t see them anymore.

  44. Such a beautiful tribute! She will forever be remembered in all of your books. My grandmother is my angel. She passed 19 years ago but it still feels like yesterday. I live in her old house so she is always in my mind & my heart. ❤

  45. Oh, Sherry, I almost cried several times reading this. What a true friend you have in Clare. Several of my senior-citizen friends have passed away in the past year or so. I believe our friendships and mutual support continue on in new ways. ❤️

  46. Hugs to you and sorry for your loss! My friend passed away a couple of years ago! We met in 1980. We went to teacher conferences, movies, Costo, and out to eat for years! I am sorry that she will not get to be there for her son!

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