Sunday, May 27, 2012

Remembering My Grandparents

A book about Grandpa Ralph
Since it's Memorial Day weekend, I wanted to pay a little tribute to my deceased grandparents. They all had a profound impact on me. 

Grandpa Ralph

My mom's dad passed away from a complication of hemophilia (a rare bleeding disorder) when she was only eighteen year's old. When I was a little girl, I imagined Grandpa Ralph was buried in a quiet corner of our backyard. I'd sit there often and think about him. He spent a third of his life in a hospital, but he managed to live such a full life. He was an avid journal writer and an expert in classical music. Now I have a little boy with hemophilia, so I appreciate my Grandpa Ralph even more. The medicines are much better today, so my boy doesn't face the same level of challenges. Somehow, I feel grateful to my grandpa for that, as if he paved the way to make things easier for my son. Grandpa Ralph, thank you for teaching me to not take anything for granted, and for having an amazing attitude, despite your setbacks.

Grandma Doris

My dad's mother died of cancer when I was eight years old. I remember her fondly. She lived in a little yellow house in Boise, Idaho. As soon as I walked through those front doors, I felt enfolded in peace and love. Grandma Doris was quiet, gentle, beautiful. But underneath that was fire and passion. One time she pulled us grandkids into her kitchen and performed an enthusiastic clog dance. I couldn't have been more surprised. She also painted--mostly pictures of Christ. My favorite was on a canvas of deep purple velvet. Grandma Doris' faith didn't come easily, but she held onto her convictions. For much of her adult life she was addicted to Valium, which she took at a dose her doctor prescribed. Only in the last few years of her life, was she able to break the addiction. The lesson I learned from Grandma Doris is, no matter what, you can always choose happiness; that's a freedom no one can take from you.

Grandma Georgia

One word best describes my mom's mom: feisty. She was self-confident, free-spirited, outspoken, sharp as a tack. I actually didn't like her very much as a little girl. One time after I'd finished cleaning the laundry room, she came in to inspect and announced I'd neglected to wash the inside of the washing machine. Yeah! But in my teens, I grew to love her immensely. She always wore crazy big jewelry and animal print jumpsuits. She'd even snarl like a cat. Even though she was raised on a ranch in Montana, Grandma Georgia loved to act and sing. She and her sister performed together in a duo-act called the "Collins Sisters" (like the singing sisters in White Christmas). Grandma Georgia was a socialite and always the center of attention. She got Alzheimer's late in life, and it was painful to see her slowly decline. I learned from Grandma Georgia that life is beautiful if you work hard and don't complain (remember, she was married to Ralph, who practically lived in a hospital), but life is also about having FUN.

Grandpa Shaw

After Grandpa Ralph passed away, my Grandma Georgia married Larry Shaw. I've never seen a man who doted on his wife more. He enjoyed watching her in the limelight and did everything she wanted. This man had a smile on his face--ALWAYS. There's a picture taken on my wedding day where my veil caught the wind and blew over Grandpa Shaw's face, yet he just kept smiling for the camera. Later, when Grandma Georgia got Alzheimer's, Grandpa Shaw took the most loving care of her. My Grandpa Shaw left me with a legacy of complete selflessness. He was truly one of a kind.

I love you, dear grandparents. Thank you for everything you gave me. You're forever in my heart.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Shout Out for WIFYR

There's still time to register for a fantastic event in June. The Writing & Illustrating for Young Readers (WIFYR) conference made a HUGE impact on me last year. After writing steadily for 1 1/2 years, I decided to attend with my longtime friend and CP, Robin. We took the conference very seriously and spent three months madly writing and revising our manuscripts. I learned so much and met many wonderful people (including the fabulous ladies of my current critique group--see links to their blogs on my right menu bar). Most of all, I left this conference with a huge amount of confidence that I could actually achieve this crazy writing dream of mine. It would be incredibly hard work, but it was totally within my grasp. My writing quality and network of writer resources has skyrocketed since last year's WIFYR, and I'm so excited to return! The amazing Matt Kirby (first person in the video below) will be my instructor for the fantasy class.

WIFYR takes place on June 18-22 (Mon.-Fri.) in Sandy, Utah. You sign up for a week-long morning class (limited to 13 members) with an instructor who is a reputable published author, and then the afternoons are reserved for a wide selection of awesome breakout workshops (you can just sign up for the afternoon workshops, if you want to). Each year various agents and editors attend, and you have the opportunity to network with them and/or submit your work post-conference (unless you enroll in the Boot Camp--then you can pitch at the conference).

I can't stress enough how fabulous this conference is. For some incredible success stories, watch the short movie below. And check out for more information. (To read more about my experience from last year's WIFYR, click here.)

UPDATE: The WIFYR peeps just released a NEW video, starring yours truly. Haha. I'm actually only in it for a few glorious seconds in which I manage to rub my fingers together and roll my eyes. And, hey, my CP, Robin, is sitting beside me. Check it out!