There is never enough space in a forward to thank all of those who have supported and believed in me through the years. These paragraphs will continue to grow as I add those who played an important part in helping my stories and I become what we are today. Unfortunately, I possess a memory that is fleeting (making way for new stories I suppose), and so if I have missed any of you who so dearly deserve to be thanked for your endeavors, please forgive me, shoot me an email with a stern rebuke, and know that the deepest parts of my heart are filled with gratitude for all you have done.
First of all, I want to thank my mom, Loene Dutson, for enrolling my brother and I, despite many protests, into Mr. Evans’ creative writing class in middle school. It was the class I dreaded most at the beginning of the year and the one I missed greatly when it was over. It gave me the push to write down the stories in my head before they made me crazy (ah, too late, some might say….) Thank you also, Mom, for reading my very first completed book, a 100 page story written in a wire-bound notebook in my rough 15-year-old handwriting. It was a western with a bit of flair and heroism, halting grammer and poor spelling, and a depressing ending that made us both sad. Thank you for reading it and encouraging me to keep writing in spite of it!
Thank you to my husband for believing I could get published despite the 500+ rejection letters I’ve collected over the years, for reading each manuscript, and for priceless input to smooth out the rough edges and make what came from my mind into something with substance. I love you and am so grateful for over ten years of marriage to my best friend. Thank you to my wonderful daughter who brightens each day with her imagination and light, her singing, and her acting. She is a bright star with the brightest future. Thank you to my twin boys, 2 year olds who make me laugh and play like I’m a kid, and for all of the stories we read together. Dinosaurs and Elmo will never get old (for the most part). Thank you to my brother-in-law Bret for watching the kiddos when things become a bit hectic and I have a deadline to meet, for being there when we need a night out, and for being such a great example to my children.
Thank you to my cover designers, to Stephanie Godwin for such an amazing drawing of Nexa’s tree and the world of Shadows, and to Andy Hair for designing the covers, the website, and to his family for being such great neighbors.
Thank you to my alpha readers and greatly supportive family, to my mother-in-law, Nancy Alsop, who reads each manuscript aloud on their travels and writes supportive comments in the margins. Thank you to my sister-in-law, Katie Bell, for always making time to read and for believing in the words even though they start out rough.
Thank you to my brother Aaron for all of the interesting suggestions and plot ideas (haha). Thank you to my sister Sheena for fun nights out and popcorn movie nights. Thank you Dad for helping me appreciate the power of writing, and for the love of a good book. Thank you Karen for having the most infectious laugh and for being so positive and amazing. Thank you Karley for the joy of growing up with sisters who play petshops, have imaginary animals friends, and for giving me food for my sea monkeys. Thank you Gary for the joy of living on a farm, for a variety of pets and experiences with animals that sneak their way into my books, and for singing A Man This Lonely and Shania Twain songs with me.
Thank you to those who have helped me over the years, Janelle Colette for writing in the library, for The Dot and the Line, and for showing me authors have way too much power by killing off your characters when you had a bad day, then bringing them back to life again when you felt better. Thank you Caylene Knox for an incredible airplane conversation and continued friendship and support ever since. Thank you Angela Wilson for being such a true friend and for all of our quests together when we were young. Thank you Miranda Ericksen for your friendship, for your smile, and for reading. Thank you Markai Aston for your imagination and your adventures which give me the drive to go on more of my own. Thank you Mrs. Chandler, my high school band teacher and great friend, for giving my brother and I the opportunity to be drum majors, for the confidence you instilled in us, and for your support and belief. Thank you Mrs. Smith for encouraging me to read Harry Potter when it was in limbo of being banned from the library. Thank you to my Grandma and Grandpa Owens for giving me such a great example for my own life.
My world is so much brighter because of each of you. There are so many amazing people in my life that this list could go on for a million words and still never cover everyone I feel deserves appreciation. If I have missed you, please know how much I care about you. Thank you everyone from the very bottom of my heart. My stories are dedicated to you.