By: Gail McHugh


Writing is and always has been an outlet for me. When I sat down and first started writing Collide, I had no idea the road I was about to travel. I figured it would be easy enough to get my fingers to tap out some words, flesh out some characters, and build a relatively good storyline. What I found instead was a painfully magnificent, torturous, beautiful, and emotional ride—all wrapped into one imperfect but perfect package. The mental attachment I endured having to essentially “become” my characters was neither something I was prepared for nor something that I will ever forget.

With that, I need to give my deepest thanks to my husband and my children for putting up with my many mood swings, many nights without a hot meal, and many days when mom or wife ceased to exist.

Joe, without your patience and support, none of this would have been possible. I swear that sandwich and Mustang will be yours one day. I love you, Big Daddy. Always.

Second to my husband and children is my sister-in-law, Cary. Oh, Cary, where do I begin? Your powerful insight and extreme positivity during the whole process surely saved a bit of my sanity—but definitely made you lose some of yours. The countless hours and many nights you spent on the phone listening to me yell, scream, and cry my way through Collide…let me just say…words I don’t have enough. Thank you for coming on this ride with me. Get your seatbelt ready to do it all over again with Pulse.

As for the rest of you, please take a bow as I call your names.

Lisa Kates is my friend and one that I wish still lived nearby. I thank you for all the phone conversations as we daydreamed and talked about every chapter as I wrote it. Your honesty, although sometimes brutal, helped to shape Gavin into what he has become. Love and miss you, chick.

Gina, although many readers don’t like the character that shares your name in this book, I will always love you, Chach!

Brooke Hunter, Lisa Maurer, Stephanie Johnson, and Teri Bland—my BCBWs—what can I say? Wow, you gals have made me laugh, cry, and really believe that there are readers out there who truly 100% unconditionally love me and Collide. Each of you knew my fear going into this and talked me out of wanting to burn the manuscript. You saw me peak and dip and stayed with me during it all. You were there with pom-poms. No. Strings. Attached. I will forever love each of you for the support. I am amazed at the way our little reading and writing worlds have collided. Kismet. Here’s to S.A. and Cali, babes!!!

To my graphic artist, Robin Harper: I need to thank you for a few things. One: You mocked up…I don’t know…100 possible covers, and you dealt with my ever-changing ideas with professionalism I never expected to receive (though I’m quite sure you cursed me out after we were off the phone…ha!). At the end of it, you created one kick-ass cover. Two: Through you, I met Heather Halloran. I couldn’t imagine not having either one of you during all of this. I love you both and the crazy minds we share.

To “Emily” from Right Now It’s Your Tomorrow: A decision I made one day to contact you on your wonderful Facebook page led me to someone who helped me during the process of building Dillon (AKA Douchepickle). Your page opened my eyes to exactly how many women deal with a narcissist on a daily basis. Your countless talks and direction as to where to take Dillon’s personality helped me tremendously, and your advice is something that I will never forget. You’re a strong woman, “Emily.” You reach thousands of women, letting them know there is light at the end of the very dark tunnel they’re in. That by itself speaks volumes of your character. I hope to one day meet you.

Author E.L. Montes, we’re overdue for that Philly cheesesteak, girl. Thank you for your help and private messages. We’ve shared many, and each in its own little way has helped me. But, damn our boys, Gavin and Marcus. We need to stop them from fighting with one another.

Author L.B. Simmons, you’re a rock in so many ways. I’m not sure you know how much you’ve meant to me through this. When fear is trying to take root inside of me, you’re a breath of fresh air at the end of the day.

Author Natalie Ward, thank you for helping me complete the very delicious description describing exactly where Gavin’s tattoo ends. Haha!

Heather Gunter, you’re one of the most amazing women I have yet to have the honor of meeting. Our weekly phone conversations have helped me through a ton. I am forever indebted to you.

To the very long list of book bloggers who simply do it for the love of reading: I can’t say enough. You all know who you are. The constant “pimping” of my author Facebook page to your wonderful readers has helped me far greater than I could’ve ever imagined. In each of you, I have found friends that I hope to have for life. You ladies are spectacular, and I could never begin to tell you how much I’ve appreciated every single favor. Some of your blogs have brought me to women I am proud to call friends. I approached most of you as a very confused indie author, and you welcomed me with open arms, gave me advice, and rooted for me the whole time. Some of you are in college, and others have full-time jobs and families, but no matter what time of day I contacted you, you each were right there. You ladies humble me constantly.

To my editor, Jovana Shirley, from Unforeseen Editing: Thank you for dealing with my panicky nervousness while editing Collide—as if the 2 a.m. private chats when I was trying to improve a description or sentence structure because of your recommendation weren’t enough. You’re just an all-around kick-ass woman to work with, and I look forward to many more years of working with you.

I would also like to thank my writers’ group on Facebook. It has been awesome connecting with other authors who share the same love for writing as I do—and also share the same fear of putting ourselves out there for the world.

Last, and certainly by no means last, to my FictionPress readers: You were Collide’s first cheerleaders. Your following started in the first chapter and grew with each additional one that I posted. The countless emails, telling me to continue Collide, fueled me to no extent. It drove me to where I am now. Because your words of encouragement inspired me to take the plunge, a thought that started with “Hmm, let me write a story here and see if people like it” turned into something far bigger than I would’ve ever thought.

Had it not been for so many of you pushing me forward, I wouldn’t be sitting here—on this Christmas night—typing an acknowledgements list for my first published book. There aren’t enough words to describe how thankful I am for all of you.

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